Authoress' Notes: Inspired by the novel Skipping Christmas and the song Christmas Wrapping, which I really recommend listening to! I wanted to write something fluffy again, and I wanted to write something for Christmas, and this was the result. I hope you guys enjoy it!
Disclaimer: Not mine.
"Can we get another round here please?"
Sakura winced as Ino's overly loud request caught not only their waitress's attention, but also that of half the bar's patrons. The waitress, a pretty girl with bells and tinsel tied in her hair, merely nodded, obviously used to such loud orders. Sakura was not.
"Could you yell any louder, Ino?" Sakura asked her oldest friend, every word obviously laced with sarcasm.
Ino turned her attention to the pink haired kunoichi and smiled.
"Of course," the blonde replied teasingly, "but I thought I'd use my inside voice. Lighten up, Sakura, and enjoy yourself. 'Tis the season and all that jazz."
Ino, of course, was talking about the Christmas season.
The signs that the winter holiday was rapidly approaching were everywhere in the village. Shop fronts were decorated with fake snow and large presents with even larger bows. Homes were iced with glowing little lights and wreaths. A ridiculously large Christmas tree – acquired by some poor genin on what must have been a particularly physically exhausting D-rank mission – even sat in the square by the Hokage Tower, decorated with glass and metal and garlands upon garlands of tinsel.
Yes. There were signs of Christmas everywhere, but for once, Sakura found herself not caring in the slightest.
She was simply too tired to care about Christmas.
It's not like it was really that important of a holiday anyways. It was a relatively new one that had been introduced to their part of the world in her grandparents' time. Still, it had rapidly quickly gained popularity over the years – especially in light of how much it benefited shop owners and how fantastically pretty and festive a holiday it was. Nowadays, there was nowhere within Konoha you could go to escape the signs of Christmas during the holiday season.
Nowhere, except for Sakura's house.
It was currently a Christmas free zone, and she had half a mind to keep it that way. She simply hadn't had the time to get her decorations out of the attic and put them up around her small home yet, and it was already December 17th. She was very late by Konoha's standards. Hell, she was very late by her own standards. But she was so, so busy!
She had long been of the mind that Christmas was the best time of the year, and would decorate her apartment religiously on December 1st, too excited to wait any longer. This year though, work had simply piled up. Not only was she practically running the hospital, but she was also frequently requested to partake as a medic on ANBU missions. Between constant missions, paperwork, and healing, Sakura was exhausted any time she was actually in her own home and usually promptly went straight to bed.
With the mad rush that was her life right now, Christmas just seemed like another headache waiting to hit her.
"Speaking of Christmas, when do you want us to come by this year, Sakura?" Tenten voiced from across the table.
Ino and Hinata turned to face the pink haired medic as well, clearly interested in the answer she would give.
See, the first year Sakura had rented her own apartment, she had invited her own team, Team Eight and Team Ten, as well as Tenten's team to her place for a small Christmas party. She had made dinner for everyone, they had exchanged gifts and gotten a little inebriated, and they'd had a good time. Over the years, the little get together had become a tradition, with more and more people attending as Sakura's circle of friends and coworkers had grown along with her living space – she had moved from her apartment to a small house as soon as she had been able to afford it. In fact, last year not only had her own teammates, Team Eight, Team Ten, and Team Gai attended, but so had their senseis, Tsunade with Shizune and Tonton in tow, Genma, Kotetsu and Izumo, Anko, Ibiki, Ino's parents, Hanabi, Konohamaru, Udon, Moegi, Kiba's sister Hana, and some people Sakura worked closely with in the hospital.
A then twenty-two year old Sakura had slaved in her kitchen the entire day to make enough food for everyone, and then the next day she had cleaned her home for about the same amount of time. She hadn't been able to believe what kind of a mess the group of shinobi had made.
The idea of doing that all over again this year – an idea which usually brought forth feelings of excitement and happiness within her – made her feel physically sick. There was no way she had the energy to have everyone over for Christmas. She wasn't even sure that she wanted to see anyone on what might possibly be her one day off from the hospital and missions for maybe the next year if her busy schedule persisted.
What she really needed was to catch her breath. Pretend Christmas didn't exist. Spend the entire day on her own doing what she wanted to do and relaxing.
In fact, as soon as the idea popped into her head, it was so appealing that her mind latched firmly onto it. What if she did pretend that Christmas didn't exist? If there was no Christmas to celebrate, she wouldn't have to stress over trying to find enough time to buy gifts for everyone, she wouldn't have to spend an entire day slaving over a hot stove, she wouldn't have to expend the energy to decorate her home or socialize when all she wanted was a real break from everything.
What if she skipped Christmas? Just missed it this year. Entirely by choice.
The words were leaving her mouth before she had time to really think about them.
"I'm not doing Christmas this year," she finally answered Tenten, watching Tenten's jaw drop in shock.
Ino looked at her like she had gone crazy, and maybe she had.
"What?" the blonde demanded as if she hadn't heard Sakura.
"Exactly what I said, Ino," Sakura replied, gaining confidence in her decision with every second that passed. "I'm skipping Christmas this year. No gifts, no decorations, and most definitely no party."
It was utterly satisfying to say, and with the impending headache that was Christmas suddenly wiped off the table, Sakura found a ton of stress leaving her body, her muscles relaxing, the flow of her chakra calming. She took a deep breath and let the newfound calm wash over her.
"No party?" Ino repeated dumbly.
"No party," Sakura answered firmly. "I'm sure you guys can find something else to do. And you don't have to worry about getting me anything now either."
They were all staring at her in disbelief.
"You can't just...skip Christmas!" Ino finally protested fiercely, smacking her hand down on the table the girls sat around for emphasis. Their empty glasses shook.
"Actually, I'm fairly sure I can," Sakura replied simply. Because she could. She could just pretend for a year that what was usually her favourite holiday didn't exist and enjoy the peace that simple action brought her.
Hinata and Tenten looked absolutely speechless, but Sakura didn't blame them. She could guess how this sounded coming from her. It was a very uncharacteristic declaration, but even if it wasn't one she had thought much about, it was one she was confident in.
Ino's mouth was hanging open like a codfish's and she had apparently run out of protests, so the four young women sat in silence while their waitress ambled over with a tray supporting their drinks. As the woman placed Sakura's drink on the table, the pinkette grabbed it and chugged back the contents, extracting her share of the tab from her pocket and placing it in front of Hinata.
Clearly she wasn't going to get anymore sensible conversation out of her friends tonight. A shame really since it had been their first time out together in three months. She wasn't leaving much earlier than she had planned to though. She had to be at the hospital early tomorrow to perform an operation so she needed to get some sleep.
She stood from the table and Ino, Tenten, and Hinata turned their heads to watch her as she gave them her parting words.
"Merry Christmas girls, but I think I'll miss this one this year."
Sakura knew it was only a matter of time before word of her skipping Christmas passed through town – Konoha's residents thrived on gossip like plants did on carbon dioxide and sunlight – so she was completely unsurprised when Naruto burst into her office the next afternoon, his face schooled into a mask of indignation.
"What's this I hear about you skipping Christmas?" he demanded.
"Exactly that, Naruto. And could you please keep the volume down? This is a hospital," Sakura replied mildly, not even bothering to glance up from the form she was filling out for the hospital's records detailing the procedure she had performed on her patient that morning.
"You can't just skip Christmas!" Naruto whispered fiercely. "We always go to your house. Always. What are we all supposed to do now? Sasuke will probably spend Christmas training if you don't throw your party."
"Sasuke can spend Christmas however he wants. And so can you for that matter. Why don't you spend the night with Hinata?" Sakura suggested calmly.
"Ugh," Naruto groaned, clearly frustrated. "That's not the point, Sakura-chan! What the hell are you going to do on Christmas then?"
"I'm going to spend it relaxing and taking a break," she told him simply. "I think I deserve it, don't you?"
Naruto knew better than anyone how busy she was given that half her missions were with him, Sasuke, and Sai. She could see his forehead wrinkling as he thought about her last question, and then the corners of his lips drooped and he frowned at her.
"Of course you deserve a break, Sakura-chan. But why does it have to be on Christmas? I mean, you don't have to throw the party, even though it'll suck if you don't. But you have to at least see your important people on Christmas," he said to her.
"Christmas is the only day I've had scheduled off this month, and it's the only day I have off for the foreseeable future, Naruto. Even when I went for drinks with the girls last night I only had an hour I could spend with them. I'm tired, Naruto. I need to rest. I just... I can't handle the excitement of the Christmas season this year. I'll spend time with everyone when things calm down at work," Sakura murmured soothingly, trying to placate Naruto with her explanation.
Naruto sighed heavily.
"Alright," he finally acquiesced, "no Christmas for Sakura-chan."
"See? Was that so hard?" Sakura asked him, standing up and coming around her desk to wrap her arms around him in an affectionate hug.
"Yes," Naruto grumbled as his arms came to settle around her. Then: "I still don't think you have the right idea here, Sakura-chan."
"But it's my decision," Sakura told him.
"But it's your decision," Naruto echoed her, nodding his head.
The evening of the 24th rolled around without much further incident. Sakura had to deal with a shrieking and incredulous Ino four times, an upset and drunk Tsunade thrice, a disappointed Kiba twice, and some disheartened nurses once. By now, the story that she was skipping Christmas had spread around the city like wildfire. Thankfully, no one else bothered her about it though. Most people were too afraid of her temper to comment on her choice. The rest of her usual guests had also had the sense not to approach her on the matter when she didn't offer them invitations to her home.
At 11:45 that evening, after a particularly lengthy shift at the hospital, Sakura was walking back to her house, nearly completely drained of chakra. A team had tried to rush a mission to be back in time for Christmas, and because they were in such a hurry they had been careless and had been poisoned with a toxin Sakura had yet to encounter. So, she'd had to forcibly extract the bulk of the poison from the bodies of all four cell members just to keep them alive, and then she'd had to figure out and administer an antidote to them. When that was done, she was finally able to go home, her chakra levels low and her exhaustion evident in every step that she took.
Kami, she was grateful that tomorrow was her day off.
And that she had decided to skip the usual chaos that was Christmas.
A yawn suddenly overcame her, and she had to stop walking as her mouth went wide and the yawn physically wracked her body. She wasn't even sure she was going to make it home at this rate, but she steeled her resolve and pushed on. She had suffered through worse on her missions – this was nothing.
Or so it would have been had she not stumbled over a rock with all the grace of a rhinoceros. Too exhausted to attempt to catch and right herself, Sakura merely extended her hands forward so that they would smack the ground first when she hit and prevent her from crashing face first into the road.
She never hit the ground.
Warm hands caught her about the waist and pulled her into an upright position, spinning her to face her hero in the same instant. Her mouth was already open to say thank you to her saviour when her eyes landed on his face and she noted the amusement in his dark, dark eyes and the smirk on his perfect lips.
She froze, the words just on the tip of her tongue. She was unable to make them audible.
Where the hell had Uchiha Sasuke come from and how had he somehow managed to make himself her knight in shining armour once again?
She shook her head to clear the fuzziness that had invaded it and regained some control over her own body. She forced herself to say: "Thank you, Sasuke."
He only nodded at her, that stupid smirk still in place.
His non-response was exactly what she had expected though. He had never really been the most talkative person, and that had not changed since the war had ended and everything had finally settled down.
It was only moments later that Sakura realized that she was still standing in front of Sasuke, and his hands were still on her hips. She kept herself from physically gulping.
Years and years had passed since she had first developed her infatuation with a much younger Uchiha Sasuke and she was still just as infatuated now. Well, more so actually. She was head over heels in love with the smug idiot even though she no longer wanted to be. It just made things hellishly awkward on her end when they ended up in situations like the one they were currently in – which seemed to happen at a frequency that one would deem impossible, or at the very least intentional.
"So, um, I should probably get going then. Bye," she mumbled under her breath, tearing her eyes away from his.
Sasuke immediately let go of her waist, and she turned around to continue trudging on in the direction she had been travelling before she had tripped oh so gracefully over that stupid rock. She had gone about three steps when Sasuke came up beside her.
"What are you doing?" she asked him as she continued on to her home, suddenly feeling more awake and aware with Sasuke right at her side. "Your place is the other way."
"I'm making sure you make it home without further incident," he told her, that smug smirk still on his lips. If Sakura didn't know better, she would swear he was teasing her. However, whether he was or not, that smirk was damn annoying, so she huffed and turned her gaze away from him, determined to finish the walk in silence.
It was not to be.
"So I heard you were skipping Christmas this year," Sasuke mentioned casually as they walked.
Sakura huffed audibly, and crossed her arms over her chest, peeking at him out of the corner of her eye. He was still smirking, but this time it bordered on a grin.
"You got a problem with that?" she bit out, gritting her teeth.
"None at all," he answered her. "It just doesn't sound like you is all."
"Well you don't sound like you," she retorted defensively, stopping so that she could glare at him. "Really, since when have you been so nosy?"
He just had to save her. He just had to hold his hands on her waist. He just had to act all Sasuke-ish. And then he just had to act all...un-Sasuke-ish...chatting casually with her of his own volition and thus confusing the hell out of her. She was set so much off kilter that she didn't even know what to think of this whole encounter.
Sakura stood, her foot unconsciously beginning to tap on the ground as she stared at him expectantly, waiting for some sort of answer.
"It's all the dobe's been talking about," he clarified for her, amusement clear in his eyes as he looked down at her.
When the hell had he gotten so much taller than her?
"Hmph," she huffed.
But he said nothing in return. He merely continued staring down at her with those deep, deep eyes of his. But at least that was normal Sasuke behaviour. Normal was good. Normal allowed her to feel calm and composed. She took a few deep breaths and spun on her heel and started walking again. This time she was unsurprised when he followed, but at least he stayed quiet.
It really was too bad that it was only a minute later that Sakura remembered that she couldn't actually stand these silences in his presence. Steeling her resolve, she opened her mouth.
"So," she began, "I know I'm out here this late on Christmas Eve because I had an emergency at the hospital, but what's your excuse?"
"I needed to pick up a few things since stores will be closed tomorrow," he answered her.
That was when she noticed that this whole time he had been carrying a bag from the only grocery store in Konoha that was open this late. She thought she could make out a couple of tomatoes within it.
And then they lapsed into silence again because Sakura couldn't figure out what else to say.
Eventually they reached her home and, just as Sakura expected, Sasuke wasn't content to leave her at the walkway. He walked her all the way to her front door and waited as she pulled out her keys from her pocket. It was kind of sweet and made her heart melt maybe just a little. It also felt just a little patronizing. She was a kunoichi, damn it, and she could obviously take care of herself.
She conveniently forgot that she had just tripped over a rock in her complete exhaustion ten minutes ago.
"Well, thanks...I guess," she told him, expecting him to grunt or nod in response and then walk away now that she was safely home. But of course he couldn't meet her expectations. No. That would be just too easy.
"So what are you going to do tomorrow if you're not celebrating Christmas?" he asked her, leaning against the wall next to her front door.
Why was Sasuke, of all people, bugging her about this? He had no reason to care. In fact, if anything, she thought he would be happy that she was skipping Christmas because that meant that he wasn't obligated to come to her house and socialize with everyone at her yearly party.
She nearly shrieked in exasperation.
"I'm taking a break," she replied instead, feeling quite proud of herself for sounding so calm. "From everything. This year's been crazy and I just need to unwind, take a day to myself."
Sasuke said nothing in response and Sakura, her irritation still bubbling under her skin, questioned him in return instead of sticking her keys in her door.
"What about you? What are you doing tomorrow?" she asked him.
Sakura snorted. Naruto had been right then. Not that she'd had any reason to doubt this particular theory of Naruto's. It was so very Sasuke to spend Christmas day training.
"And then I'll probably go see Naruto," Sasuke continued to her surprise. But then he elaborated for her, instantly lessening her confusion: "He's been bugging me about my plans all week and keeps saying how I need to see my important people on Christmas. I don't want him coming by my house, so I agreed to visit him."
"Smart," Sakura commented in earnest. As loveable as Naruto was, he was still messy and surprisingly clumsy. He would most likely leave Sasuke's house a wreck even if he only spent a few minutes there. It had happened before after all.
"Anyways, I guess I'll see you around, Sasuke," she told him, finally inserting her key into her lock and turning it so she could open her front door.
Sasuke pushed off the wall and finally started walking back towards the road. She was about to cross into her house when Sasuke called over his shoulder: "Merry Christmas, Sakura."
She froze on her doorstep and watched him as he kept walking away.
"Merry Christmas, Sasuke," she whispered after him.
Sure enough, when she got inside, the clock on her wall told her that it was already after midnight.
Christmas day, Sakura slept until noon. When she finally did wake up, she made herself a fabulous, fancy brunch for one and sat down in her dining room, bare of any Christmas decorations, to eat it.
Afterwards, she took a bubble bath and then got dressed for the day in the comfiest clothes she owned: a pair of her oldest sweats and a thin tank top. Then she grabbed a trashy romance novel from the pile on her living room table and settled deeply into her couch to enjoy an afternoon of mindless indulgence.
Around six o'clock, Sakura was really enjoying her day to herself and had already finished two of the romances, which Ino always brought over for her and that she never had the time to read. That was also when her stomach grumbled and she decided now was as good a time as any to cook herself up some dinner. So she marked her page in her latest selection, something with a stunningly gorgeous man dressed as a shinobi on the cover, and stood, arching her back and stretching her limbs.
Someone knocked on her door.
An immediate bout of irritation overtook her. Surprisingly enough, she didn't really miss seeing everyone – why should she when she could see them all anytime? She had thought that she had made it very clear that she was not partaking in Christmas this year and that she was not to be bothered.
With a grunt of irritation, she strode over to her front door and yanked it open, prepared to berate whoever stood before her. The words stuck in her throat.
"Well, are you going to invite me in?" Sasuke asked her after a minute of silence.
She spluttered and her eyes widened. Sasuke was absolutely the last person she would have expected to show up on her doorstep today. If it had been Naruto or Ino, she would not have been surprised. Disappointed in them for ignoring her desires? Sure. But completely unfazed. In fact, in her mind, it was more likely that Ibiki would show up on her doorstep to interrogate her about why she had decided to skip Christmas than for Sasuke to come by when he knew there was no invitation.
And that was why it was just so shocking that he was here.
While Sasuke stood there, staring at her expectantly, Sakura regained her wits and straightened her shoulders.
"No. Don't you remember? I'm skipping Christmas this year," she answered him.
"Well, I've decided that I am too," he told her, pushing past her and into her home.
Sakura lifted her fingers to her temples and started rubbing them, feeling a headache coming on. What the hell was going on here? So she asked him.
"What the hell are you doing here, Sasuke? I distinctly remember saying that I wanted to spend the day alone," she told him.
"I'm hiding from Naruto," he told her taking a seat on her couch, having already kicked off his shoes. "I figured this is the last place he would look since I'm sure you scared him into leaving you alone."
"Why are you hiding from Naruto?" she asked, too dumbfounded by his answer to take any offense to him claiming she had scared the blond.
"I visited him just like he wanted me too, but then he decided that I had to join everyone at Ino's place tonight for her party. So I left. But it didn't seem like he was going to give up, so I thought I'd just hide out here to avoid the annoyance until the party's well on its way," Sasuke explained.
It sounded like a logical enough reason. But still, Sasuke was interrupting her me time. Then again, it was Sasuke, and he had come to her house willingly, and it wasn't like having him over and entertaining her guest necessarily implied that she was partaking in Christmas. After all, she didn't have any decorations up, she hadn't bought any presents, she wasn't going to any parties or throwing one, and she wasn't leaving her home.
Oh, who was she kidding? She had Sasuke alone in her home on Christmas. So she had never expected this to happen, but that didn't mean that she couldn't enjoy it, right?
She sighed and turned a small smile on Sasuke.
"I was just about to make myself dinner," she began. "Are you hungry?"
Sasuke, who had picked up one of the romance novels she had just finished and was flipping through the pages mindlessly, nodded.
"Alright. Well, just make yourself comfortable I guess. I'll let you know when dinner's ready," she told him before heading into her kitchen to cook a meal for two.
After dinner, Sasuke and her moved back into her living room where she picked up the novel she had been in the process of reading before she had started dinner and settled into a corner of her couch. Sasuke took the other corner and, to her surprise, picked up the book he had been flipping through when she had left to start dinner and started to read it. She had to work to keep her mouth from dropping open.
"Um, I do have other books, Sasuke," she told him hesitantly, watching as he looked up from the page he was reading and locked eyes with her.
"I'm just trying to figure out what you find so interesting in these that you would rather spend Christmas reading them than seeing your friends," he told her. "Frankly, I can't see the appeal."
Sakura blushed crimson and snatched the book out of his hands.
"They make me happy, alright?" she grumbled, putting the book behind her back so that Sasuke couldn't reach it.
He offered her a smirk.
Screw her earlier decision to enjoy Sasuke's company.
"So when was this party of Ino's supposed to start anyways?" she asked him, with the clear implication that he should take his leave. And just in case it wasn't enough: "Can't you go home yet?"
He didn't even glance at the clock.
"Not yet," he replied.
And once again, they were left in silence. Sakura tried to focus on her book and ignore Sasuke's presence, but it was really hard when he sat so close to her...in her home...watching her.
"Can you stop doing that?" she demanded of him, keeping her eyes firmly trained on the pages before her.
"Hn," he grunted, and she took it to mean that he wanted clarification.
"Watching me, I mean. It's sort of creepy."
But he didn't take his eyes off of her.
She shut her book with a snap and placed it on the couch next to her, crossing her arms over her chest and turning a glare on Sasuke.
"Really. What are you doing here?" she demanded of him. "What do you want?"
He said nothing, reaching instead into his pocket and pulling out a small box that he offered to her. When she made no move to reach for it, he grabbed her hand and placed the box upon her palm. Shocked, she could do no more than accept it and pry the lid off. The sight that met her eyes caused her to gasp in surprise.
Inside the box was a beautiful white gold necklace, decorated with what looked to be alternating rubies and diamonds set every inch in the chain. It was probably the most expensive and beautiful piece of jewellery she had ever held.
"What is this?" she finally asked him, looking up from the necklace once she was able to get over her shock.
"I would think that you would recognize a necklace when you saw one," Sasuke answered her, his smirk firmly back in place.
"I know that," she snapped. And then her mood instantly shifted. Sasuke had given her a necklace. An expensive necklace. "What I meant was: Why did you give it to me?" she explained more gently.
Sakura noticed Sasuke's countenance soften and her heart automatically began beating faster in response. She wished it wouldn't.
"I figured now was as good a time as any," Sasuke replied unashamedly. "And the dobe kept telling me how Christmas was a time to give gifts to your important people."
Sakura froze. Had she just heard him correctly? Had he just called her one of his important people? Never before had he spoken the words aloud. And because of that, she didn't know what to say.
When Sakura didn't respond, Sasuke sighed heavily and leaned over to where she sat, plucking the necklace from the confines of the open box in her hand. Then he propped himself up on his knees and approached her, deftly opening the necklace's clasp and reaching around her neck to lock it there. His breath ghosted on her cheek as his fingers closed the clasp. Then he pulled away.
"It suits you," he commented easily, eyeing where the necklace sat about her slender neck.
Sakura felt heat rise to her cheeks in response to his compliment. The blush also came in concert with the embarrassment that she hadn't gotten him any present in return.
"I'm sorry," she mumbled, looking down at her lap. "I didn't get you anything. I didn't get anyone anything. I mean I was skipping Christmas. I wasn't planning to see anyone today or for anyone to get me anything and–"
Sasuke's voice immediately silenced her. His tone was admonishing, annoyed, amused, and...something else. She couldn't quite identify the last feeling in his voice, though it was reminiscent of how she sounded when she spoke of Sasuke to Ino the few times she had actually admitted to her blonde friend how she felt about him in recent years.
But she sounded like that because she was in love with Sasuke. He didn't feel that way about her. Right?
"Just say thank you, Sakura," Sasuke instructed her, amusement clearly the dominating feeling in his voice this time around.
"Thank you," she murmured, lifting a hand to finger the cool precious metal around her neck.
And in that moment, everything that she had been feeling for Sasuke, and that she had been too scared to express for fear of rejection, reached a boil and she did the unthinkable. She leaned over and kissed him on the cheek.
Nearly immediately she regretted the action, especially when she pulled away and noticed Sasuke's eyes. They were darker than they'd ever been and filled with an emotion she did not recognize. She opened her mouth to apologize for her sudden action, but before she could speak he had grabbed her by the shoulders and pulled her to him, and his lips had sealed themselves over her's.
Well, who was she to complain? This is only what she had wanted for years.
Her hands, almost of their own volition, reached up to tangle themselves in his hair while Sasuke's hands ghosted down her sides until they settled about her waist, tugging her closer towards him until she sat comfortably in his lap. Never once did his lips leave her's. Eventually, however, they had to separate when her need for air grew too great. When that happened, she couldn't stop herself from sighing contentedly and cuddling into his strong chest. She noticed his arms remained wrapped almost protectively around her.
"Not that I'm complaining," she finally spoke, looking up at Sasuke's smiling face – oh kami, he was actually smiling! –, "but what was that?"
"This is the first time I've been able to get you alone all year," he answered her, lifting a hand to stroke her hair. "Between our missions, your work at the hospital, my work as an ANBU captain, and interference from everyone else, I haven't had the proper chance to do this. As soon as I heard that you planned to spend Christmas completely to yourself this year, I knew I couldn't waste the opportunity."
"To kiss me?" Sakura asked, hoping, perhaps against her better judgment, for more.
"Yes." And with that she felt her spirits start to fall. "And," Sasuke continued, "to tell you that..." and here he stumbled over his words, "to tell you that I've realized that I want to spend the rest of my life with you."
Sakura's heart immediately began to pound out a ferocious beat in her chest. This was what she had been waiting to hear, what she had thought she would never hear, what she had been too scared to tell him herself. In awe of his words, she told him the phrase she hadn't spoken in ten years.
"I love you, Sasuke," Sakura whispered, snuggling back into his chest.
Midnight came and went, and with it, so did Christmas. At 12:01, someone was knocking at Sakura's door. Very persistently.
"Sakura-chan! It's not Christmas anymore! Open up!" Naruto yelled loud enough that all of Sakura's neighbours were sure to hear.
In fact, lights were already turning on in some of the nearby homes.
"Naruto, shut up! You're going to wake up the rest of Konoha," Ino whispered angrily from behind him.
Teams Eight and Ten, and Team Gai, along with Sai and Naruto, had all come from the small party at Ino's house, at the two loud blonds insistence, to wish Sakura a merry Christmas now that the holiday was officially over. They were all crowded on her front porch while Naruto knocked on her front door, trying to get her attention.
Soon enough, Naruto and everyone else heard the telltale click of the lock mechanism on Sakura's front door turning before the door itself was yanked open.
"Sakura-chan!" Naruto yelled out excitedly before realizing that it was not Sakura standing before him.
"She's trying to sleep, dobe," Sasuke told him. "She has to be at work early in the morning."
Naruto stood there, his mouth hanging open in a very unattractive fashion, while everyone behind him gaped in a similar manner.
"What the hell are you doing here?" Naruto finally demanded of his best friend.
Sasuke merely smirked.
"I was skipping Christmas," he answered.
Then he shut the door in Naruto's face.
Authoress' Notes: Now, this wasn't exactly what I had intended to write when I started, but I like how it turned out anyways. Why Sasuke's spending the night at Sakura's house is something I leave to your imaginations. Merry Christmas everyone! Couldn't miss this one this year!