Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto.
When Sasuke came back to Konoha, Team 7 was a mess. There was tension in every aspect of the word with everyone and the trust they had all previously shared with Sasuke was now nonexistent. It wasn't to say that they didn't try to pretend like nothing happened, or that they didn't try to fix their broken bonds. They did—they all did. It was just hard.
But it was hardest on Sakura. She was happy he was back (god was she ever so happy) but he had hurt her more than words could say and she was wary of the person he had become. She loved him, oh yes she did, but she couldn't just eagerly accept him back in her life after what he did. He understood that, thankfully.
So they tried. They tried, and tried, and tried. It would take time, they knew, so they never gave up trying to fix their bond.
It took them a year and a half to get out of that rough patch, half another year for them to be comfortable around each other again and after that… everything changed.
He started picking her up from her shifts at the hospital, no matter the hour she finished—he remembered the shocked look on her face the first time she found him waiting by the lamppost at four in the morning—and walking her home with the half-assed excuse that she couldn't defend herself while she was chakra depleted. Somehow, Sakura never took it as an insult—she just smiled at him, probably too tired to argue.
Their conversations, normally centered on training and missions, took a turn towards the more sentimental and personal aspects of life. Sakura openly talked about her parents and shared her most embarrassing stories as a child while Sasuke gave her soft, amused smirks. Sometimes, when things became too much, she would open up her heart to him and tell him everything that bothered her. And every time, while she ranted and ranted about her bad day, Sasuke listened attentively with an open ear—and heart.
Sasuke never let her be the only one to give, though. He also opened up to her, albeit not as often, and it was always greatly difficult for him to do so. But she was always patient with him, always compassionate; she always waited for him to get his act together. He spoke about his parents: how they used to be and what they did. He spoke about Itachi, his childhood and his favorite memories. Sometimes, and only sometimes, he would get choked up in the middle of it all and he would let her take his hand and hold it tightly in hers while they sat together in silence.
The best part, though, was the tender looks they shared when they walked past each other in Konoha's busy streets. Even in crowded places, their eyes always seemed to find one another. There were no words exchanged, no greeting, no formal small talk, no gestures… nothing that hinted they saw each other but a simple affectionate glance that told a million words.
(they were nineteen and nervous, sharing abashed glances and secret smiles.)
It wasn't until a year later that they started to deliberately touch each other, whether it would be a fleeting stroke on the arm or the light pressure on her back.
When she healed him, her hands would linger longer than necessary. She pretended to inspect the skin when the healing process ended; pretended she was checking up on spots she might have missed or that might tear open again. But the longing in her eyes betrayed her, and it made Sasuke want to smile most of the time. He didn't say anything, though. After all, if he spoke up, she'd probably notice how he stared at her intently throughout the whole procedure.
Some rare times, he would notice something caught in her hair as they were walking. And when he would, he would firmly grab her arm, surprising her, before roughly tugging her into his chest and grabbing the side of her neck with his free hand. She would gape, being utterly speechless, and he would say nothing. Instead, he would opt to reach for the leaf or the blossom caught into her hair and gently, he would pull it out. Sakura could do nothing but blush when he let the object flutter to the ground and pulled away from her. The way he unnecessarily brushed her jaw and then the base of her throat rendered her mind blank with disbelief.
They initiated contact when none was needed, and it brought them closer.
When they sparred, they took every excuse to mesh their bodies together: pinning, tackling, trapping and restraining each other. He loved to chase her down so he could trap her in submission, and she savoured every second he spent dominating over her form. Sakura, in return, loved to take every possible opportunity to slam him against a tree and it always took everything for Sasuke not to groan at the feeling of her body pressing hard upon his. Their eyes blazed with lust as they looked at each other and tried to catch their breaths. It was almost comical how their arousals were more the cause of their heavy panting than their rough spar.
The innocence that was once there was replaced by sheer sexual tension.
(they were twenty and hormonal, sharing heated looks and burning touches.)
A year after that, their bond escalated again.
They had no boundaries anymore when it came to personal space. Sakura could be reading a novel on one of those quiet afternoons and he'd come up behind her, head placed directly beside hers, quietly asking her what she was reading while he would reach to turn to the cover. And when he did, he would always, always, 'accidentally' brush his arm on hers. She would just smile softly, knowingly, and would tip her head to the side just so for their cheeks to barely brush while she caught his warm gaze.
They picked up the habit of checking up on each other, somehow. After missions, especially. Sakura once collapsed out of exhaustion and chakra depletion a mile or two from Konoha after a particularly hard medic mission. When she woke up, she saw white walls and a white ceiling and could hardly move any of her limbs because of the strained muscles. Bewildered that she was in the hospital, she tried to sit up, only to grunt when a pang hit her stomach.
She then realized someone was gripping her hand when they tightened their hold. She strained her neck to look at the person and was met by the sight of the one and only Uchiha frowning at her, eyes worried. "Stop moving, Sakura. You need to rest," were the only words he said to her. Later, he would tell her about how he had been waiting by the gates for her return and how he had madly dashed to find her when he felt her chakra flicker out. He wouldn't tell her how worried he had been, but she would know it anyway.
She had come to his rescue many times too, though. Actually, Sasuke was the one who needed the most rescuing between the two of them. But that was probably due to the fact he was assigned more dangerous missions. Still, she could not name the number of times she had come to his house to see the front door wide open and a bloody, barely conscious Sasuke lying on the floor or sitting against the wall. She always scolded him for not calling her and he always half-smiled or half-smirked, murmuring things she was never able to hear. Then he would pass out and she would tend to him, and the next morning he would awake in his bed with bandages wrapped around his wounds and a note from Sakura.
Come see me when you wake up. I'll heal you properly, it always read.
And see her he would.
At some point in that stage, they came to the silent agreement that after each of his missions, he'd skip the hospital and head straight to her house for her to heal him. It was easy and had a much less elaborated process than at the hospital. It made her feel needed and it allowed him not to slip in a sour mood (those nurses always did kind of annoy him). She would tire and he would be exhausted, so sometimes he even slept over.
(they were twenty one and crazy about each other, and it scared the hell out of him.)
It was never always this perfect, of course. They still got into arguments when they didn't agree on something in missions or when one did something the other didn't like—and that was okay. It was normal. They stopped their daily routines and gave each other space to cool off; Sakura settled herself in the training grounds and read novels or scrolls, while Sasuke brooded in his home and slacked off his irritation training in his backyard. She was always the first to forgive and forget, but never went to see him to apologize because she knew he would need more time. She patiently waited for him at the same time in the field every day, reading stories and theories, until her shift at the hospital came up.
Sometimes it only took a day for him to show up, but sometimes it took a week or two. He always found her sitting against a tree, reading, and always tried to quietly sit beside her as not to disturb her. She would look at him and he would meet her gaze almost timidly, as if embarrassed he'd gotten mad at all. Then she'd just smile and nudge his side until his lips quirked a bit at one side, and they would fall back into their normal routine the next day.
The first time they (finally) kissed, it was a morning after one of his missions.
He had slept over at her house again, after she had healed him up, and had awoken that morning to the smell of tea and breakfast. After he had rubbed the sleep out of his eyes, Sasuke got off the bed and made his way out of her room and into the hallway, squinting at the sudden brightness.
Sakura must have closed the curtains in her room when she woke up, he thought to himself, smiling lightly. She didn't want the light to wake me.
"Good morning, Sasuke-kun," Sakura called when she saw him entering the kitchen. She had just finished putting the food on the table and was reaching for the teakettle to pour them both some tea.
"Morning," he greeted, gaze soft.
"I was just coming to wake you up," she said, smiling brightly. "Had a good sleep?"
He nodded and gave the table a once-over. "You made breakfast?"
She smiled sheepishly and nodded before she put the teakettle away. "I hope you don't mind," she said, clasping her hands behind her back. "I know you usually go before breakfast but… I thought it'd be nice." She grabbed the two cups of tea and held one out to him shyly.
His stomach fluttered and he nearly smiled. "I don't mind," he replied, taking the cup from her and making sure he brushed her hand while he did. He didn't fail to notice her lightly flushed cheeks afterwards.
They ate breakfast in silence, but their hands and eyes seemed to do the talking for them. They shared unneeded touches and affectionate glances, the way lovers did, but neither made the move to do anything drastic even when they knew what was going on between them.
When breakfast was done they cleaned off the table and Sasuke took the plates she held while he unnecessarily touched the small of her back. They then washed and dried the dishes together, taking every excuse, once again, to touch each other—be it simply brushing their arms when they passed each other a clean cup or plate—before putting everything back into place when they were done.
And then Sasuke put on his jounin vest and Sakura knew this was the cue to his leave.
"I have to report to the Hokage about the mission," Sasuke said quietly, grabbing the bag he had placed by the door. His eyes met hers, and he looked almost apologetic. "Thank you, Sakura."
"For what?" she queried, frowning in confusion.
"Last night. Healing me." He paused. "Breakfast."
A blush crept onto her cheeks again. "It was nothing," she murmured, tugging at the hem of her shirt timidly.
Sasuke stared and said naught, making Sakura wonder if perhaps she had said anything wrong.
"I have to go," he said suddenly, gripping the strap tighter.
He made the move to turn but Sakura reaching out and grabbed his forearm. "I—"
She stopped when their eyes met again, her breath catching in her throat. She recognized that look—he'd given it to her quite a few times now but she didn't think she'd ever seen it so powerful before.
"I—your vest," she mumbled, looking down to grasp the ends. She felt his stare burn through her skull and it made her blush like a little school girl. "Here, I'll zip it up for you."
As she did, she did so very slowly, her hands trembling too much for her to go any faster. Her heart pounded in her chest when she felt him grip her upper arms firmly, but still somehow gently, and she couldn't help but to look up to him.
From that moment, she couldn't tell exactly what happened or why it made them react this way. She remembered seeing those dark eyes and melting against him, her hands fisting his vest and tugging him down to her. He met her halfway, his head dipping down to meet hers while he wrapped his arms around her and held her to him.
When their lips met, it felt like coming home, like they had finally found the place where they belonged. It was soft and sweet, long and genuine… if not a little bit clumsy; their noses bumping lightly and teeth clicking together at times. Sakura would smile into the kiss and Sasuke would frown a bit, embarrassed by his lack of skill, before tilting his head a little to the side. His frown would then disappear, then, while he lifted a hand to cradle the side of her neck and wrapped his arm around her waist to pull her tight against him. She stood on the tip of her toes to push herself closer and made a little noise when he bit on her lower lip, feeling a blush creep on her cheeks. But then his lips were brushing softly against hers again and she nearly moaned, thinking faintly to herself that surely she could get addicted to kissing Sasuke.
(For two inexperienced young adults, their first kiss should have been a disaster. But instead, it wasn't so bad—it felt natural.)
When their mouths separated, Sasuke cupped her face in his hands and laughed a little breathlessly. "You terrify me," he whispered on her lips, opening his eyes to gaze directly into her sea green pools.
The large hands cupping her face trembled and she smiled. "You terrify me, too," she said, breath a little heavy.
He smiled, too, and gently kissed her again, glad that she felt the same way—that she was just as insanely in love with him as he was with her. They were both terrified but it was okay—it was good. It wasn't often people found a love like this: a love that was so strong and genuine that it terrified both members. They knew that what they had was rare; a once in a lifetime type of love.
They weren't going to waste it.
(They began after that morning and although their buildup was slow and messy, Sasuke wouldn't have had it any other way.)
Also, this is not how I envisioned they would really happen. It's still possible, but I'm leaning more towards them getting together way more quickly. Still, this was very fun to write and I find it extremely cute myself. I hope you enjoyed as much. :)