Title: Reinforcement

Summary: Because maintaining reinforcement is sometimes just as important as setting a good foundation.

Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto, 'cause you know, I'm not Kishimoto.

Prompt: Holding Hands

Rating: K+

Warning(s): None

Comments: Oh you know, just some fluff with a wee bit of angst thrown in. Happy SasuSaku Month everyone!


They came to a halt just a few short yards away from Konoha's front gates. Composed of mostly chuunin level shinobi and the remaining medics, Fourth Battalion of the Hidden Leaf's militia had been the last to be dismissed from the battlefield. They'd kept up a fast pace for the past three days, the break-neck speed they'd been traveling at slowed considerably when the shinobi that were once so desperate to get home after those brutal days of war now took their time in crossing the front gates.

Sasuke, who up until then had complete round-the-clock supervision from his former teammates or another one of the Rookie Nine, found his gait slowing as the other shinobi walked past and into the place they called home. He had thought he could do this—that he could protect the village that Itachi had loved so dearly. But now as he stood not even a yard away from the entrance of the village that had made his life a living hell and harbored all of its dark secrets within its walls, Sasuke was no longer sure of how well he'd be able to live up to his self-imposed promise.

Dark eyes roved about the entrance as his confident stride wavered. His chakra felt out the ANBU that were cleverly hidden away. There were six in the trees, but dispersed far enough to not pose much of a threat. Turning his head slightly, Sasuke caught sight of Kakashi at the rear, nose planted within a teal covered book that was eerily similar to the orange cover of his youth. He could do it, he could slip away and it would be a few seconds before anyone noticed his disappearance, but by then it'd be too late. A few seconds were all he needed. The only threat to his plan was Naruto, who'd no doubt be able to catch up to him with the help of his infuriatingly convenient Kyuubi Cloak, but if he could get a head start then maybe—

He started suddenly, dark eyes narrowed dangerously before they settled on the pink-haired kunoichi who had come to a stop beside him. She refused to meet his gaze as the warm weight of her hand settled in his own. Sasuke remained motionless as he stared down at the kunoichi in question, and it was only after what seemed to be an eternity of staring at the back of her head that Sakura finally turn to meet his gaze.

She wasn't blushing the way he'd expected considering her bold move, nor did she simper or pout her lips as most women were prone to do in his presence. No, instead, Sakura looked at him with understanding painted in her green depths. Understanding laced with trepidation and fear. Sasuke was silently startled as he realized that she knew what he had been thinking, what he'd planned to do as his sense of duty and justice warred within him. Just like how she'd known that night three years ago; Sakura knew exactly where his thoughts were leading now.

Her hold wasn't nearly as strong as it should have been if she wanted to physically restrain him. Instead it was almost delicate, like she feared if she held on tighter he'd crumble to sand and slip through her fingers; and for a brief moment—under the familiar weight of his clan expectation—Sasuke felt like he just might have. It was a tempting thought, especially since it would be so easy to wrench his hand from hers and leave. But Sasuke didn't pull his hand out of hers, and he didn't run. Sasuke just continued staring down at her, wondering when exactly they'd had reached that point where Sakura could tell what was going through his mind with a single look.

Nothing was spoken between them as Sakura's eyes remained trained on his face while she looked for any clues as to what he might be thinking. Her fingers were warm against his, her palms rougher than what he remembered them to be from the Forest of Death. She gave an experimental squeeze, before she offered a gentle smile.

"You can do it, Sasuke-kun." She said, her voice barely above a whisper. "You're strong enough; and if you're not, you're not alone."

Calloused fingers squeezed back in silent gratitude, a simple move that was lost to everyone but them. "Aa."

They were completely oblivious of the three figures that hung back and watched them walk into the village.