So this is my first fan fic, it'll probably be awful but at least the spelling and grammar will be nice for you. =]

Please Review for me.

I've read a few Gaara fics recently and I have to say I'm usually a bit disappointed with the characterisation of Gaara; but I decided I couldn't really criticize if I hadn't tried it myself.


It's been a year and a half Sasuke.

I'm sure you realise that anyway. Naruto is now officially Hokage; the ceremony was last week but in truth I think he's been Hokage since the day Lady Tsunade accepted the role.

He's better now; I didn't think he would recover after you went away again, but I guess I underestimated his ability to be such a total knucklehead.

Kakashi's well; he's so proud, of all three of us, and he now has the cushy title of first adviser.

Me, well I'm still me, no grand titles just Sakura. I'm leaving for the hidden sand in a few days time, to help supplement their medical training programme. I think Naruto is jealous that he can't go see Gaara even if he won't admit it.

Anyway, Sasuke, I have to head back to the village; love you always.

Sakura traced her fingers over the memorial stone that stood half a mile away from Konoha's main gate. She did this whenever she had the time, unable to forget the tragedy that had been Sasuke's life, and how in the end he'd come through and given his life to save Naruto's.

Turning away from the small black stone, Sakura felt grateful that in the end he'd come back to them, died as one of them. It was closure, even if it had been unbearably painful at the time.

The mission she was returning from had been an easy one; delivering medical aid to a small village to the north of the leaf, illness had spread during the past month and no one had better medic-nin than the leaf village.

The next mission she would be going on would be much more trying. To spend a year in Suna teaching medical ninjutsu. The teaching wouldn't be a problem, but spending a year away from home, with only 2 weeks leave would be tough. But it had to be her; she was the best, barring Lady Tsunade, and Naruto trusted that the Kazekage would take good care of her.

The village gates were just coming into view now, so Sakura pulled out her traffic papers. They didn't really mean all that much; no one would forget a girl with cherry blossom pink hair. The girl who hung around the high-spirited Hokage.

As usual Kotetsu and Izumo were at the gates.

Izumo nodded his greeting and stamped her traffic papers before filing them. Kotetsu grinned.

"The Hokage has been waiting for you to get back; he was down here earlier, said something about ramen?"

Sakura laughed. "Some things never change; has he behaved himself?"

"I think Kakashi has kept him under wraps." Kotetsu grinned again, probably thinking about how odd it was to have the infamous Copy Ninja babysitting the Hokage.

"Thanks Kotetsu, Izumo." She waved a hand over her shoulder as she left, eager to get to Ichiraku's for discount ramen.

Sure enough when she arrived outside the little ramen stall she could see Naruto's unofficial orange Hokage coat hanging on a stool (it was unofficial because he only wore the white, traditional, one for special meetings) and the legs of two of her favourite people in the world.

"Don't you have work to be getting on with Hokage-kun?" Sakura teased, flaunting the fact that she was the only one in the village who could call the Hokage 'kun'.

Naruto spun around on his seat and grinned, always exuberant, before jumping toward her and enveloping her in a warm hug.

She peaked at Kakashi around Naruto's shoulder to see his eye smiling back at her.

"I've finished all the paper work I needed to." Naruto informed me. "I worked long and hard all day so we could have ramen."

"You used shadow clones didn't you?" Sakura deduced. Despite how much he'd grown, Naruto would never be a fast worker.

The mischievous grin that appeared on his face told her she was right. Kakashi chuckled.

"Three hours with 15 shadow clones makes 45 hours of work; I'd like to see you fit that much work in one day Sakura."

"Hey, I wasn't judging." She defended. "Whatever works, as long as you're not bunking, you know how Tsunade was."

"Hey, you know I'm nothing like the old lady." He pulled Sakura into the seat between him and Kakashi. "I'm worried that you'll turn into her though. What with that temper of yours, and that freakish monster strength."

Sakura's eye twitched at freakish.

She snapped at monster.

Her fist connected with Naruto's face the second he finished his sentence.

Of course it took more than that to knock Naruto out these days. His clone vanished.

"I think that proves my point nicely." Sakura's fist was now safely caught in Naruto's grasp. He smiled. "Let's eat; I'm sure Teuchi wouldn't appreciate us having a welcome home brawl in here."

They ate in silence, save for the slurping of broth, and the occasional giggling as they tried to catch a glimpse of Kakashi's face.

This was the tradition, every time any of them went away on a mission for more than a week they would meet for a welcome home celebration and to catch up.

Once they had all eaten their fill, which was quite some time later Naruto smiled ruefully.

"We'll have to have a massive party when you next come home. I wish we had a little longer to catch up." The corners of his mouth twitched down and his eyes flicked to Kakashi.

"Bad news." Kakashi sounded sombre as he continued for Naruto. "A small group of rouge ninja attacked Suna."

Sakura could see where this was headed.


"No fatalities, but many were seriously injured. We received a request from the Kazekage just this morning."

"Let me guess, I'm to leave first thing in the morning."

"Gamakichi will be summoned to take you there." Naruto spoke this time. "It'll shorten the journey time, they need you like yesterday."

She met his eye. This wasn't the first time he'd gone soft on her. Keeping her home or allowing her just a little longer to prepare than was necessary, even though she was desperately needed elsewhere.

"If they need me that badly, Hokage-sama, I should leave right now." He blinked at her use of honorific; her way of reminding her that she was a shinobi, and he was her Kage.

They stared at each other for a long moment. Then he sighed, age beyond his years appearing in his eyes. "Yeah." He pulled out a mission scroll. "Go home, gather some things, you'll be travelling light. I'll get Hinata and Ino to pack you some more things to be sent after you."

Sakura accepted the mission scroll and smiled. "I'll be at the main gate in 15." She hopped of her stool and made to leave the stall but found that Naruto was holding her arm, gently.

"Make that an hour." His gaze was soft. "45 minutes won't make any difference and I want you to at least catch your breath. You won't be properly back for a year."


Kakashi cut her off.

"That was an order Sakura. You can't save anyone if you don't at least take a pause for yourself every once in a while."

"What will you do if I'm early?"

Naruto smiled at that. "I'll punish you by hugging you until it's time to go."

And so he did. Sakura was 8 minutes early.

So for 8 minutes she was restrained and hugged by more shadow clones than she could count.

And then Gamakichi was summoned.

And then she was desperately saying goodbye to her best friend.

And then she was being whisked away from her beloved village and beloved friend and her sensei.

She staved away the impending homesickness by looking on the bright side.

Maybe she could finally get a tan.

Yeah I know, no Gaara in this one, but this is pretty much an introduction, he'll be in the next one.