As the shrill cry of Konoha's number one knuckle-headed ninja rang out through the village, a certain Uchiha groaned in frustration. Sasuke had been trying to evade the persistent blonde for the good half an hour, but it was inevitable that Naruto would find him.
"Oi! Teme, slow down!"
"Hn. Go away dobe, I don't have time for your nonsense."
Naruto ran up behind him and slung his arm around his best friend and rival's shoulder.
"Aww come on Teme, lighten up a little. You know I was only kidding before." Naruto explained whilst unsuccessfully trying to slow the glowering Uchiha down. "Besides, I'm sure that there are plenty of girls that could vouch for your sexuality."
Sasuke halted and gave Naruto one of his deadliest glares for bringing up the offensive topic of this mornings discussion between Hyuga Neji, Nara Shikamaru, Naruto and himself. The four had stumbled upon the topic when Shikamaru had announced that he had asked out Ino…sort of…
After Madara had been defeated and Konoha had started to rebuild itself, Naruto had managed to convince the remaining Konoha elders to allow Sasuke to remain in the village, under strict probation laws of course. Since the two months that had passed, the two had gotten closer and had become practically inseparable.
Naruto had welcomed Sasuke back as if nothing had happened. Even Sakura seemed held back from him. Not that Sasuke had fully expected her to leap into his arms and once again profess her undying love to him.
No. Sasuke had learned, through Naruto and the others that Sakura had grown up. She was no longer the weak little girl that struggled to keep up with her team mates, but instead she had blossomed into a confident young woman, who was renowned for her remarkable medical skills and monstrous strength.
During the time that he had been away, Sakura had trained under Tsunade-sama in hopes to learn more about medic-nin skills and chakra control. Within a few short years Sakura was able to surpass her mentor and quickly became known as one of the best medics in the world. During the war she had healed many patients from different villagers and became famous for her gentle nature and instinctual medical abilities and swiftly became a symbol of hope amongst many.
When Naruto and he had strolled through the ruined gates of Konoha their reception was what was expected. Villagers and ninjas alike stared at the Kyuubi vessel and village traitor, the two best friends, who had together defeated and ended the tyrant of Madara.
The rookie nine had gathered, congratulating them on their success and commenting on their bravery. Suigetsu and Jugo joined them after they had remained in the village to help defend the home front. Karin ran at Sasuke, shrieking something about forgiving him for his past sins, before latching herself onto his arm. The Hyuga girl had leapt into Naruto's arms, crying profusely, and remained there.
Until Sakura arrived.
The already tense atmosphere became even darker. The bystanders waited anxiously to see the outcome of the first interaction between the traitorous Uchiha and the tender Haruno. Even Karin stopped screeching in the presence of the superior woman. Sasuke, himself felt uncomfortable at the prospect of possibly becoming victim to one of Sakura's monstrous punches.
But her reaction was not what Sasuke or anyone had expected. Sakura was a woman of dramatic proportions. She would either beat the absolute crap out of you until you were not able to blink because it caused you so much pain, or she would confess her undying and pure love to you and make you feel like no one else could possibly make you feel.
Sakura, however, surprised everyone by doing neither of these things. All she did was comment on the wound s that Naruto and he had sustained and ordered them to go to the hospital. Then she turned around and started to walk away.
"Sakura?" Naruto had called out to her, his voice wavering with uncertainty.
"Hurry up Naruto, or I'll have to get someone else to tend to your wounds. Oh and Sasuke," she turned around and looked Sasuke straight in the eye. Then she did something that made his heart stop.
She smiled. The smile, that he would never admit, he had missed and yearned to see for the longest amount of time. The most beautiful and truthful smile that no one but Sakura Haruno could possess.
Sakura turned back around and continued walking to the hospital, now with Naruto and Sasuke, obediently following behind her. Team Seven, reunited once again, but this time with Haruno Sakura in the lead.
The villagers quickly parted to make way for the trio. None wanting to have to succumb to Sakura's monstrous strength or to be within the gaze of the unfeeling Uchiha.
Naruto had maintained that the villagers would eventually warm up to him, but until then Sasuke needed to socialise with others more.
Thus the weekly meeting of the four boys was established. Sometimes the other guys of the rookie nine would drop in and occasionally Jugo and Suigetsu would accompany them and on special, rare occasions they would put up with Sai's social awkwardness as well.
They would gather, usually at Ichiraiku's, and discuss the events of the week, training, in Sasuke's case- probation and, if Naruto pestered, women issues.
This morning had been one of those days that Naruto's pestering became out of control when Shikamaru accidentally let it slip that he had to leave early to go have lunch with Ino.
Sasuke, Naruto, Neji and Shikamaru were having their traditional weekend late breakfast at Ichiraiku's and were discussing the previous day's training routine with their training partners.
Neji had been training with Tenten, his recent girlfriend, as Gai and Lee are on a mission. However their training had been frequently interrupted by spontaneous bouts of 'hot make out sessions', as Naruto liked to call them.
Team Seven had been joined with Team Hawk for their training schedule, but the teams for missions had not yet been decided. Sakura had not been present for yesterdays training, as she had a badly injured ANBU team arrive at the hospital with desperate need for surgery. In fact, her attendance at training seemed to be dwindling in the past few weeks.
Karin used this as an excuse to try and disparage Sakura every chance she got, in hopes to win Sasuke's favour. Unfortunately for her, the male members of the team found it to be their duty to defend Sakura's name, even Suigetsu and Jugo, who had swiftly gotten close to the pink haired medic.
Shikamaru had been sparring with Ino, after Choji had left to find himself a snack.
It turns out the Ino had been spending too much time with Sakura, who had in turn, been spending too much time with Tsunade, and caused Ino to have a sudden tendency to turn everything into a bet.
Shikamaru, had somehow, found himself being roped into either defeating Ino in the sparring contest and having her buy him ramen for the rest of the week, or losing to Ino and having to take her out on a date.
Shikamaru didn't particularly like ramen, (when he told Naruto this, the poor boy almost had a heart attack at Shikamaru's audacity.) and if he beat Ino, she probably wouldn't speak to him for a month.
And he had also been planning on asking her out but hadn't quite…built up the nerve to actually ask her.
So he threw the fight.
Ino had scheduled their lunch date for today. When Shikamaru told the guys that, Naruto howled with laughter and smacked him on the back. Sasuke and Neji simply smirked at each other. The Nara boy growled ant his "friends" responses.
"Dude! You are totally whipped!" Naruto had said, whilst wiping the tears from his eyes.
"Shut the hell up Naruto." Shikamaru grumbled. "What would you know?"
"She practically asked YOU out. That's so pathetic." Naruto burst in to laughter once more.
"Coward." Neji muttered into his beef ramen, still smirking.
Shikamaru snapped his head around to face the smirking Hyuga. "Oh yes, because you're the epitome of courageousness. Exactly how long did it take you to ask Tenten out, huh Neji?"
"Shut up." Neji, still gazing into his ramen, but now more restrained.
"Yeah that's right! You spent three months perfecting your entrance and exit strategies! Geeze, Hyuga, you were only asking a girl out, not assassinating a rouge Nin!" Naruto snickered at Neji's failure.
"You can't talk Naruto; you haven't even told Hinata how you feel about her."Shikamaru grinned at having finally shut, the now blushing, Naruto up.
"And how exactly does Naruto feel about her?" growled, a now fuming, Neji, who had decided that Naruto was a better target to glare at than his ramen bowl.
"H-hey, N-n-neji, ju- just calm down, f-for a se-second," stuttered Naruto, whilst edging away from the dark aura that Neji was emitting. Shikamaru was still smirking at his effective revenge.
"You're all idiots."
The three boys turned to face their remaining companion, who was still calmly eating his pork ramen.
"What are you talking about Teme?" questioned Naruto.
"You're all behaving like complete morons, it's pathetic. And you call yourselves superior ninjas." Sasuke stated calmly.
"Oh yeah…Well…you're the worst out of all of us! You don't even have anyone!" Naruto retorted.
"And I'm glad. Who would want to be distracted by such inadequate things?"
"Hey! Hina-chan isn't and inadequate thing! And don't pretend that you haven't been checking out Sakura-chan!" Naruto said, at the same time as wriggling his eyebrow at the last part of his statement.
"What the hell did he call my cousin?" Neji growled as Shikamaru held him back from ripping off Naruto's head.
"Dobe, stop being a moron. Sakura is my teammate, nothing more." And he meant it. Sakura was his teammate; he would even go as far to say that she was his friend. She had supported him when he had returned, not as enthusiastically as Naruto perhaps, but she had been there.
"Oh come off it Teme, admit it! Sakura-chan's a babe AND YOU KNOW IT!" Naruto jumped up and pointed at Sasuke accusingly. "And you're just pissy that she doesn't feel the same way she did when we were genin, and you missed your chance to tell her about the raging crush you had on her when we were twelve!"
Sasuke's hand clenched around his chopsticks. Neji stopped struggling in Shikamaru's grasp. Naruto paused and blinked as he slowly realised what he had just said.
"Whoops…I wasn't supposed to say that was I."
"Wait…Uchiha had a raging crush on who..?" Neji queried.
"I did not have a 'raging crush' on anyone; the dobe is just a moron."
"NUH UH! Teme you said, and I quote: 'The only girl I'm close to is Sakura', which in stuck-up-teme- language means 'Sakura-chan is amazing and I want to make little Uchiha babies with her!' and then he made me promise not to tell anyone!"
"I told you not to tell anyone because I knew something like this would happen. You would exaggerate and I would never hear the end of it."
"You know…as much as I hate doing so, I kind of have to agree with Sasuke. Saying that you feel close to someone does not in anyway mean that they have a raging crush on the person. Even if it is and un-emotional Uchiha we are talking about." Shikamaru said with Neji nodding his head in agreement.
"That doesn't make sense!" Naruto exclaimed while trowing his hands up in the air, "How can teme not like Sakura-chan, she's awesome!
"Oh it makes perfect sense Naruto." said Shikamaru, returning to his almost forgotten ramen. Sasuke, too, continued to eat.
"What do you mean Shikamaru?" Naruto cried exasperatedly.
"It means Sasuke's gay."
Naruto© is the property of Masashi Kishimoto. No infringement of copyright is intended