Small Conversations

Sequel to "Things unsaid" "She was in Love", and "Losing an apartment, Gaining a House key"

Sometimes the big conversations happen in small parts.

Disclaimer: I don't own 'em, I'm just a spoony bard

Chapter Nine

In which they talk about Love

It was three days later when Tohru came to pick up her things she'd left that Naruto and Sakura saw any of the rest of the Konoha eleven. Lee had come with her and the two had invited Sakura and Naruto to join them for lunch.

"I have the most exciting news my Youthful Friends!" Lee waited until they had been seated at Chouji's favorite barbeque hangout with the rest of the group and had placed their orders before announcing. "I have asked the lovely Tohru to be my bride and she has accepted!" He grinned madly, his teeth sparkling as he gave them both the "Good Guy" pose. Tohru extended her hand to show the gold and diamond ring adorning her hand.

Everyone began to congratulate the couple, Neji even flagged down a waitress to order bottle of sake to toast to the occasion. The wedding would be in the following spring and Lee had asked that Neji be his Best Man, and if Naruto would be one of his groomsmen. He had already of course asked Gai to stand up for him as well. Tenten had been very surprised when Tohru asked her to be her Maid of Honor. She admitted, while blushing, that she dint have very many friends becasue her shop kept her very busy.

The small celebration lasted through lunch and into dinner. Several of the jounin that had worked with the younger crowd had stopped in to congratulate the pair as well. Gai-sensei had arrived near the end and he and Lee had spent several minutes hugging and crying in joy. Both Sakura and Naruto had laughed at this, but smiled, knowing how Lee looked upon his sensei as a father figure, and how Gai in turn, considered Lee to be his adopted son.

When Sakura and Naruto left, the cheerful atmosphere carrying with them, the sun was beginning to set. Neither really wanted the evening to end, and in silent agreement they meandered slowly towards the Hokage Mountain. As they walked, Sakura's hand slipped into Naruto's, their fingers intertwining. They didn't speak as they climbed the stairs to the top of the mountain. From the top of the crest, the view of Konoha in sunset was breathtaking.

"I love it up here." Naruto half whispered. "I used to come up here when I was a kid. Whenever I was upset, I'd come up here and look down on the village and think about all the things I love about it." He turned and gave her a grin. "A few months ago I started coming up where when good things happened, to do the same thing." He turned to her and smiled. "You see, I realized that it was always this exact spot." He pointed down to the face beneath them. "It's my father's head."

Naruto's smile broke into a grin as he reached out to her. She allowed herself to be pulled into his arms. Her cheek rested on his shoulder. The position was comfortable and still allowed both of them to view the sun as it set over the village.

"I'm so happy for Lee." It had been several minutes since Naruto had spoken, and Sakura almost jumped in surprise. "Everyone always thought he'd never find anyone, you know, because of his looks. But now he's getting married to a girl who obviously loves him."

"You think so?" Sakura looked up at Naruto, the last fading visage of the sunset casting shadows across her face.

"I used to watch people when I was little, when I had no one." A slight shrug passed off the momentary remembrance of his childhood loneliness. "I've seen all kinds of people showing their love to others. It was my favorite thing to watch, especially around holidays. I can tell when someone's faking it, or if they mean it. Oh yeah, Tohru loves him. And Lee loves her."

"Naruto?" Sakura bit her lip as she looked up at him. She had said it once to him, in the post coital bliss of their first sexual encounter. Yet, the words she wanted so desperately to say refused to form on her lips.

One arm wrapped around her waist as he turned to look down into her eyes. He cupped her cheek in his other hand, holding her still. "I still watch people. I'm not alone anymore, and now I see how others show love to me." He kissed her forehead. "Kakashi-sensei, he loves me as his student and sometimes I think he looks at me like a little brother. He loves you too, the same way. Iruka-sensei, he loves me as a brother, or maybe and uncle. Tsunade-baachan and Ero-sennin, they're like parents to me. I wish I'd gotten them when I was younger. I have friends now who love me. They all watch my back, teach me new things, buy me ramen when I'm upset, share their joy and sorrow with me."

"Naruto, I-" Sakura reached for his hand, only to have it caught in his as he pulled her closer. Her chest pressed against him now, her heartbeat seemed louder in her own ears.

"And then there's you. You're always there for me. You'll punch me if I'm being an idiot, bandage my wounds when I'm bleeding, tell me I'm lying when I say I'm ok and I'm really not. You let me hold you when you're crying, you hug me when you're happy. You took me in when I had nothing. And then there's the lovemaking." His lips quirked in a small smile as he blushed a little. "You let me touch you like no one else ever has, and you touch me. You make me feel wanted."

His lips descended on hers lightly. "I love you Sakura." A kiss to the tip of her nose. "I always have." A kiss to her left cheek. "I always will." A kiss to her right cheek. "Nothing will ever change that."

Sakura breathed in deeply, enjoying the scent of her lover as he held her close. "I love you too. I'm sorry it took me so long to realize it. Or rather, I mean I did realize it, but I'm sorry it took me so long to tell you. I think I've loved you since before the Snow mission. I just didn't want to admit it to myself."

Naruto chuckled quietly. "I knew something was up when you girls had that party that was supposed to be just you girls. I didn't want to say anything at the time and then have it be something else."

Sakura smiled, looking up into his eyes. "No, it was because I realized about a week before we walked back inot the gates of Konoha that I do love you. That I had for a long time. It was like running through the trees and all of the sudden slamming into one. I don't –"

"Sakura, it's okay. You don't need to apologize. What matters is that you're here with me now." Naruto pulled his arms tighter around her and rested his head atop hers. The sunset was almost over and the pale twilight had cast thickening shadows around them.

"We should go before it gets too dark to see the way." Sakura whispered, not wishing the moment to end, yet knowing that once the steps were spotted with evening, or morning for that matter, dew, they would become slick. The uneven stone could be treacherous if you weren't paying attention.

"Alright then." Naruto let lose his hold on her, kissing her forehead before he stepped away. They walked back down the steps, but before they reached the final step, Naruto stopped, Sakura making it one step further down before his grip on her hand stopped her.

"Sakura, I didn't mean to get all cheesy on you back there, but I don't ever want us to end up like Ero-sennin and Tsunade."

Rolling her eyes Sakura smiled. "It's ok to be cheesy once in a while." She stepped back up the stair and pressed a kiss to his cheek. "It's sweet. But what do you mean like Tsunade and Jiraiya?"

Naruto looked away, his gaze focusing on Hokage Tower. "You know, in love, but never saying anything, or acting on it."

Sakura's mouth opened in an 'o' of surprise. She hadn't realized that her sensei's romantic situation was more than something whispered between Shizune and herself. "You knew? About how they- of course, never mind. You spent two years with Jiraiya, you had to know."

"Yeah, and I don't want to be old, and lonely, and in love with a woman who pretends she's not in love with me, spending my time and money on women who resemble her."

"He really does that?" Sakura's eyebrows lifted in surprise.

"Of course, blondes are easy to find, I'd be hard pressed to find a pinkette to stand in your place." Naruto continued on, grinning at her and continuing the walk home. Sakura laughed with him and allowed herself to be pulled away.

A/N: seems a bit short, but this was a really hard chapter to write for me. I'm one of those that aren't really good at expressing the "love" thing when I'm supposed to. It comes better spur of the moment. I kind of wanted this chapter to feel a bit awkward. Hope i succeeded. Someone asked me when I was going to finish this, and I would like to apologize to my readers for such a long absence. I won't bore you with the reasons, just know I had a lot of life drama to deal with