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Contest Entry!!

Posted by Metalhead87, 01 February 2015 · 2,882 views

Here's my entry for the 10th Anniversary NaruSaku contest!
 
I started writing it randomly one night after work, and pretty much forgot about it. Then, I opened it up again and figured that I would finish it off properly and enter it. I mean, why not, right?  :lol:
 
I feel I should apologise before getting started. It's been a while since I wrote anything, and I'm a little rusty.
 
Anyways, whomever reads this, I hope you enjoy! Happy NaruSaku.com's 10th Anniversary!  :D
 

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PAST AND FUTURE

 

Sakura Haruno sighed softly, her body sagging with relief, as she finally took a break from her work. Today had been a busy day thus far, and the afternoon looked to continue the trend. Already, both her staff and she had been inundated with numerous genin sporting some type of training related injury, an old man who had missed a step and tumbled down the rest, breaking a hip in the process, and many other patients reporting the same stomach bug that had been afflicting the people that came in the day prior.
 
It certainly was not easy being the youngest Chief Medical Offer in the Konohagakure Hospital some days. Then again, the 19 year old rosette-haired kunoichi hadn't expected it to be. After being trained by Tsunade of the Sannin, most things that she had found difficult prior to becoming her student could no longer hold a candle to what she experienced during her training regimen. The Leaf's Fifth Hokage had a habit of challenging her students' perceptions in such a manner. Her first apprentice, Shizune, could certainly attest to that.
 
Stretching her arms up into the air until she felt the satisfying 'click' of her spine, Sakura released another breath and decided to take a walk around the village that she called home. It was weird to think that a few short years ago, nearly the entirety of Konoha had been obliterated by a single attack wielded by a man known as Pein. The people of the village had pulled together once the threat had been dealt with, though, and worked together in record time to rebuild their businesses and housing for those whom had lost them in the disaster. If not for the slight contrasting differences in architecture between the newer buildings and ones that had remained standing, Sakura would have sworn that the village had remained the same as it always had been.
 
Thinking of Pein, as always, provided a gateway to thinking of someone else. Someone that had played a significant role in protecting the village, and defeating the aforementioned Akatsuki member. The rosette beauty smiled, the same smile that she always did, as the said person's visage became visible in her mind. She smiled the one smile that she reserved only for them and no one else. Her team mate, her friend, her confidant, and the person that she held in high regard more than any other. Naruto Uzumaki.
 
“Hey, you brats! Get your asses back here so I can give them the kicking of a lifetime, dattebayo!”
 
Sakura's smile quickly dropped, and for the third time within just as many minutes she released a sigh. Speak of the devil. She turned to face in the direction that her squad member's unique voice had emanated from, and immediately had to suppress giggles. The young man in question was chasing after a trio of young genin, all three of them laughing their hearts out as they scampered away from the pursuing ninja. For good reason, it appeared. Said Shinobi's head appeared to be covered in some type of thick, pink coloured paint like substance that caused all of his hair to become matted and stuck to the sides of his face. Droplets of the stuff slithered down his face to drip from his chin, spattering against the flak jacket worn upon his person, and further flecks of it flew off of his hair from the vigorous motions of his body.
 
One of the three, a boy with black spiked hair, turned to give their pursuer a big raspberry. “You'll never catch us alive, sensei!” he guffawed. His two companions launched into new peals of laughter as their agreement to such a statement.
 
Naruto's eyes widened, threatening to burst from his skull, before they narrowed into a presumably threatening (but comical, in Sakura's eyes) snarl. “Why, you little...!”
 
Sakura decided that now was as good a time as any to make her presence known before things got even more out of hand than they appeared to be. “Well, now. That's a new look for you, isn't it, Naruto?”
 
On cue, much as she had expected, Naruto stopped on a dime. He turned to face her, his eyes widening and jaw flapping like that of a goldfish. “S-Sakura-chan?”
 
Sakura smiled and stepped closer, taking in his appearance properly. Whatever he had been covered with had certainly made a mess. “So, what happened? Did a prank go wrong or something? You know you really shouldn't be doing those now that you're a jonin sensei,” she admonished teasingly.
 
“It wasn't me!” the blonde spluttered, waving his hands back and forth with a large nervous grin on his face. He then turned in the direction of the now absent junior ninja. “It was those little punks! I turned my back on 'em for a second to get my teaching face on, and the three got me with a bucket filled with this crap. I don't even know what the Hell this stuff is! All I know is that it's sticky, and it stinks!”
 
“It really does,” Sakura agreed, holding her nose as a whiff of the substance caught her nostrils. The scent smelled like something akin to burning sulphur and fresh fish. “I thought you said 'I can handle three snot-nosed brats' when you were given this assignment.”
 
It had been no secret that Naruto was next in line to assume the Hokage position from Tsunade upon her retirement. However, before that could happen, the Fifth had decided that it would be for Naruto's benefit to spend some time as a jonin sensei, having been promoted when he was seventeen. After all, if he couldn't guide the way for three young ninjas, what chance did he have with the village? That, and she had wanted to torture him a little bit. Naruto had boasted that a trio of young snots would be easy for him to deal with. It appeared that his confidence alone had only carried him so far though.
 
“They aren't regular kids,” Naruto pouted. He crossed his arms and glared at a building several feet away. One of the three “escaped” genin poked their head around the corner to see if he was still chasing them, before ducking back around when he made eye contact with their irate sensei. “They're evil. Seriously. Madara Uchiha's got nothing on them.”
 
“Oh, come on,” Sakura snorted. “Don't be so dramatic. Besides, didn't you do this type of stuff when you were younger? Maybe they're just trying to show their respect for you.” She was reaching and they both knew it. “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, you know.”
 
“Well, they have a funny way of showing it,” he grumbled. “What kind of kid does that to their sensei, huh?”
 
“If I remember correctly,” a new voice spoke up from behind the two of them, “the first time that I met you when you both were my students, Naruto, you rigged a board eraser to drop on top of my head.”
 
Naruto and Sakura turned to see their sensei, the erstwhile copy-ninja, Kakashi Hatake. He stood propped up against a telephone pole with his usual choice of reading material in hand. “If anyone has a right to complain about a lack of respect from their students, it would be me.”
 
“Oh, hey Kakashi-sensei,” Naruto said with a wave. “I guess I can see your point. But, there's a difference between that and this.”
 
“Oh?” the perennially masked ninja inquired with a tilt of his head. “Which would be?”
 
“You deserved it for being late. I'm an innocent party in all of this.”
 
Sakura shook her head. If she had even tried to figure out the logic behind Naruto's argument, she feared that she would return to work with an even bigger headache than she had left with. Kakashi evidently had chosen similarly to not regard him with a response, instead flicking to another page in his book with a chuckle and shake of the head.
 
Naruto, apparently having claimed their silence as a victory, turned to her with a big smile. “Hey, Sakura-chan. You're on break now, right? Wanna get some ramen?”
 
She turned with her hands on her hips, and shot him a raised brow. “You always ask me that same question,” she replied. “Whenever you see me, and I'm on my break, you invite me to the same place.”
 
“That's because I always know I'll get the same answer,” he countered with a big grin. “You always fold your arms, close your eyes, and say 'fine'.” His words were, of course, punctuated with his own visual representation of what he had described. He looked ridiculous.
 
“Is that so?” she queried, tapping her chin with a thin finger. “Well, what if today I refuse?”
 
“You won't,” the blonde immediately said without any doubt.
 
“And why is that?” she questioned.
 
Naruto leaned in close to her and gave the young woman one of his patented blindingly bright grins. “Because you love me,” he said to her. “And, you know that I'll keep on bugging you about it until you agree.”
 
Sakura shook her head with a fond smile.
 
Two years ago, both of them had decided that it was time to stop messing around. Sakura and Naruto were more than aware that there was a definite “something” between them, some sort of chemistry that had been building almost since they were thirteen years of age. At first it had been the seeds of friendship and camaraderie planted some time after they became team mates, which had blossomed into a deep trust and protective streak that bound the two. Some time later, those feelings had began to expand into something more, and continued to grow until the two had finally ventured out on a date. They had been together ever since.
 
She started to walk past Naruto, and took his hand into her own. “Well, there is that, I suppose.” She gave him a pointed glance. “Both points. I guess I'll take my lunch at Ichiraku's, then...again.”
 
“It's okay, Sakura-chan,” Naruto assured her. “I'll pay.”
 
“You always do. But, we aren't going anywhere until you take care of a couple of things.”
 
Naruto stopped for a moment to think about what she could possibly mean, before the proverbial light bulb went off over his head. “You're right!” he muttered. He faced the building that his team had been obviously eavesdropping from and called out to them. “Hey, guys! Take five for a bit, huh? Meet me at the training grounds in about thirty minutes!”
 
A chorus of “Yes, Naruto-sensei” rang out from the trio, and Sakura watched with bemusement as they all scampered away to enjoy the extra time off that they had been granted. She turned back to Naruto and smirked.
 
“Good thinking. However, that isn't what I meant,” she explained, waving her hand around his facial area to indicate the gunk that continued to soak his cranium.
 
Naruto groaned. “I forgot about that.” He turned to the lamp post that his own sensei continued to stand beside, having been engrossed in his book for the last few minutes. “Kakashi-sensei! Do you think you can help me get rid of this stuff?”
 
“I don't recall opening up a bathing service,” Kakashi replied, mockingly scratching his jaw as though attempting to remember if he had done so. His hands began to lazily form a number of signs as he generated a low amount of his chakra. “But I don't see why not. Water Style: Crashing Wave jutsu!”
 
“No, wait!”
 
Naruto gurgled and flailed as the weak water jutsu splashed against his face, cleansing his head of the residue upon it. Sakura had to bite down on her fist to prevent the laughter that so desperately wanted to escape her from being released into the world as her waterlogged lover regarded Kakashi with a contemptuous glare. “Gee, thanks a lot, Kakashi-sensei,” he grumbled.
 
“No problem,” he replied cheerfully, already nose deep once more in his novel. He waved his hand to them, shooing them off. “Now, you two go off and enjoy your little dinner date.”
 
Sakura tugged on her boyfriend's hand, pulling him along with her as they headed off to their eatery of choice. “Come on, Naruto. We don't want to be late, do we?”
 
Naruto nodded. “Yeah, you're right. Ichiraku's, here we come!”
 
Sakura couldn't resist one last jab. “At least you don't have to worry about washing before we head in.”
 
Kakashi snickered as the two young ninja walked off together, hand in hand, the blonde whining his girlfriend's name at her well-placed hit in the ego. Those two never got old.
 
 

xXxXx

 

 

Sakura and Naruto had managed to make their way over to the Ichiraku stand in no time at all. The blonde released a small sigh of pleasure upon sighting its white banner. The stand had barely changed over the years since its inception. It still stood in the same spot as always, looked no different from how it always had, and the delicious smell of multiple spices and stocks wafted through the openings out on to the streets in the very same manner that had ensnared him so long ago. The rosette had more than once wondered if the very scent itself could have somehow pulled him off of his feet and into the clutches of the eatery. The tight grip she had on his hand ensured that it wouldn't have happened, if it was.
 
Naruto pulled her forward into the stand, as always, and threw himself on to one of the numerous stools in front of him that ran the length of the counter. Sakura placed herself upon one of the seats beside him with far more restraint, and watched as the blonde loudly thumped his hand upon the counter with a grin.
 
“Hey, old man! Give us the usual!” he exclaimed, near salivating.
 
A quick tightening of Sakura's fingers prevented that. “Naruto,” she murmured. “What did we say about your manners...?”
 
“Huh?” he gulped. “C-come on, Sakura-chan. I've known the Ichiraku's for years!”
 
“All the more reason to be polite to them, eh?” she replied, squeezing tighter.
 
Naruto gulped again. He had learned to not cross his Sakura-chan when she was implementing her lessons on politeness to him. Mostly. “Ah, hello,” he said with a quiver in his voice. “Could I have one bowl of beef ramen -”
 
“I'll have a shrimp, please.”
 
“-and one shrimp ramen too, please?” he finished, a terribly strained smile on his face.
 
The snickering that emanated from the older, heavy set man before the two caused Naruto to pout. “You've really trained him well, Sakura,” he said to the pink-haired young woman before him. “You only had to remind him once, this time.”
 
“Well, I try,” Sakura said airily. She waved her hand loosely in her boyfriend's direction. “It isn't easy, though. You've just got to be patient, and eventually things begin to stick in that thick old head of his.” She said the latter whilst running her fingers gently against said thick old head.
 
Naruto slumped forward to rest his forehead against the counter top. “Sakura-chaaan...” he moaned, piteously.
 
“Oh, come on, Naruto,” Sakura chided gently. “I'm only joking. Your natural pigheadedness is just one of the things that I love about you.”
 
“...I don't know if I should feel happy or insulted.”
 
“Then be both,” Sakura said with a smile as their steaming hot ramen arrived, right on time as always. She picked up a pair of disposable chopsticks for both him and herself from the pot in front of her, breaking his apart and passing them along to him before separating her own.
 
She had to stifle a giggle as the overtly sullen look on her partner's face faded rapidly into a smile, intoxicated by the smell of his meal. The two started eating, with the blonde occasionally sending glances her way as they did so. After the fifth or sixth consecutive look in a row, Sakura turned a raised eyebrow to him.
 
“What, what is it? What are you looking at?” she inquired. “Do I have something on my face?”
 
Naruto looked away, somewhat sheepishly, and shook his head. “No, nothing like that.”
 
“Then what?”
 
The blonde jonin stalled for a moment. “I was just thinking about stuff, you know? About everything that's happened so far?”
 
Sakura turned to face him properly now. “Like what?”
 
Naruto too turned to face her directly, reaching again for her hand and running his own larger fingers across her daintier ones. “It's...weird,” he began. “We're both nineteen now, right?”
 
Sakura gave him an incredulous look. “You did not seriously just ask your girlfriend her age?”
 
“No, I don't mean it like that! I mean...” Naruto paused again. “It's just... so much has happened within such a short amount of time. Like, it feels like it was only a little while ago that we were both just graduating from the academy...”
 
“Oh, I get it,” the rosette said with an understanding nod. “You're feeling nostalgic, huh?”
 
“Yeah, sort of,” her boyfriend agreed, glad that she had been able to tap into his wavelength (though such a thing was hardly new to him). He chuckled a little to himself as he traipsed down memory lane some more. The image of a hot-tempered gal with long pink hair, a red dress, and a broad forehead flashed before his eyes. “Heh, heh. You know, you were real cute when you were a kid, Sakura-chan.”
 
“So were you,” she replied with a soft smile. She may not have thought so at the time, but on reflecting whilst the two had been browsing old academy photographs in their shared apartment, she couldn't deny that the combination of spiked blonde hair, closed eyed and cheeky grin had made him look very cutesy.
 
“I thought you said that I was annoying?”
 
“You can be cute and annoying at the same time.”
 
Naruto mumbled something about that statement “not being fair” before finding his focus again. “So, yeah. You were cute.” He smirked to himself as though he were about to reveal some big secret. “I had a crush on you for so long.”
 
“You certainly got points for persistence, that was for sure,” Sakura laughed somewhat uncomfortably. Their earlier interactions even now were something that she felt odd talking about, considering how vociferous her dislike for the boy was in the beginning. Naruto didn't care for that, but it was something that still occasionally gnawed at the back of her mind. A quick hug was enough to dispel them.
 
“Well, yeah. I wasn't exactly the type of guy to give up, you know,” he agreed with a snicker.
 
“It's one of your better qualities, I admit,” Sakura affirmed with a light giggle of her own.
 
“So, yeah, we became Team Seven, and...a whooole lot of stuff happened,” Naruto said, half whispering the last part as though unable to believe it all. “Becoming team mates with Sasuke, meeting Kakashi sensei, Wave, the exams...”
 
“Bringing Tsunade back, Sasuke's leaving,” Sakura continued. She paused. “Your leaving.”
 
“Then I came back.”
 
“Much more handsome, but still just as annoying.”
 
“And you were still just as pretty as always. Scarier though.”
 
“I could give you a demonstration on how 'scary' I can be, if you like.”
 
“Moving on,” Naruto said, scratching the back of his head with his free hand. His face turned solemn. “It seems like even more happened when we got older, huh?”
 
“Yeah,” Sakura mused, running her own fingers across Naruto's larger ones. The words of her beau were something of an understatement. It felt as though a whole lifetime's worth of events had taken place within the relatively short space of time following her team mate's return from his two year trip outside of the Hidden Leaf Village with Jiraiya. “You weren't even back for a day, and we were being sent on a mission to rescue Gaara from the Akatsuki.”
 
“Those guys really sucked,” Naruto grumbled with a nod.
 
“That's all you have to say about the people who wanted the bijuu to take over the world? 'They really sucked'?” Sakura questioned, an amused glint shining in her eye.
 
“Well, they did,” the blonde said in defence of his words. Sakura could do little else but shrug. The man had a point.
 
“So, as much as I like reflecting on life as much as the next woman, what has you reminiscing like this anyway?” she asked him after he didn't speak up for a second. “Is something bothering you?”
 
“I'm just thinking about how far everyone has come, you know?” he replied after a moment. “Things are so different now compared to when we were kids.”
 
Sakura couldn't disagree with the blonde's statement. Things really had changed. Where as before, the various Shinobi nations were distrustful of one another, barely coexisting with the uneasy treaties that had been made between them, the aftermath of the war had heralded a brand new desire for peace. Meetings between the various Kage were frequent, and although a solution to all of the problems had yet to be found, great strides had been made. Funnily enough, all of these strides had been made when the man before her had taken that difficult first step that others refused to tread.
 
When Sakura wondered about the state of the world and how it had changed, never could she forget that it was due to her lover that it had started to do so. She wondered just how much more it could change when he finally took the hat and cloak from her master.
 
“Everyone's grown up and changed so much,” he continued.
 
“Not everyone,” Sakura interjected. “Take Ino, for example. She's still an annoying loud mouth.”
 
“She's also, like, one step beneath Ibiki in the Torture and Interrogation Department,” Naruto countered. Sakura nodded, conceding his point. “I'm not really talking about that, though. I just mean, it's like everyone's found their path, you know?”
 
Sakura nodded. “I think I get what you mean...like, everyone has found their happiness. Their 'it' factor, right?”
 
“Yeah, that's it!” Naruto exclaimed with a smile and nod. “Tenten is the most renowned weapons user in ever, Lee a legendary taijutsu master...”
 
“Not to mention both of the great work that they've been doing at the academy,” Sakura pitched in.
 
It was true. Tenten, being the resident expert in all things pointed or blunt, was the go to woman for weaponry. Not only had she pioneered brand new styles for numerous weapons, she had chosen to pass on her knowledge to the next generation of starstruck ninja, notably becoming a role model to a number of the young kunoichi. Lee, on the other hand, was revered as an expert in hand to hand combat. His feats were legendary and his services as an instructor in high demand. He was also the figurehead of a program that focused on making sure that students with difficulties accessing their chakra could become, in his own words, “youthful and excellent ninja”.
 
The blonde nodded to her contribution and resumed. “Ino, as we mentioned, nearly the Head of the T&I and in the running for clan head. Everyone has come really far.” He grinned as a thought struck him. “Hell, even Sasuke is less of a stick in the mud these days.”
 
Sakura shook her head in mild amusement. Any excuse to fit in an insult to his rival and comrade. That didn't make it any less true though. Sasuke had hardly become the second coming of Might Guy, but he had found his own peace at the end of it all. He was still unable to enter the Leaf Village for long periods of time, due to an agreement made between him and the Hokage (it was even rumoured that he had been the one to request it). Instead, his team, Taka, and he acted as information gatherers for the villages, passing communiques among them, and hunting down problem criminals to be brought to trial. He still partook in missions from time to time with Leaf Ninja, though he would request somewhat begrudgingly that his former Squad Seven team mates be the ones to accompany him when doing so, stating that their “prior experience together would make their team work more streamlined compared to others”. He fooled no one, and Naruto repeatedly let him know that.
 
The blonde's smile dimmed slightly and became slightly saddened upon the next batch of memories. “We also lost people too. Haku...Gaara...well, for a bit at least...”
 
“Lady Chiyo...” Sakura pitched in.
 
“...Asuma-sensei...everyone in the command centre during the war, including Shikamaru and Ino's parents...Neji. We even lost nearly the whole village, at one point.”
 
The young medical chief made sure to take a moment of silence to pay her mental respects to each of the fallen, and she suspected that Naruto had chosen to do the same. There had indeed been a number of casualties throughout the course of their Shinobi career, more than they had mentioned, and more than they had ever imagined possible. The hurt didn't go away, and nor did the sadness. But, they were buffered by the happy memories shared during the time that these precious people were alive among the people that loved them, and they had at the least been accepted. People were able to move on and continue with their lives, honouring those that gave theirs to protect them.
 
Naruto took in a slight breath, barely noticed by the rosette. When he again looked into her eyes, she could see that the blue pools had been filled with determination and love. Perhaps also a bit of fear too, though she didn't know why this would be the case. All of the sudden, he took out his old and battered frog shaped wallet. Fishing out a couple of bills, he slammed down enough money to pay for both his and her meals with a generous tip included. She barely had time to register what was happening when the man grabbed hold of her hand and flashed her a big smile.
 
“Come with me for a minute,” he said, eyes shining bright.
 
Sakura looked at him, stupefied. “What?” she uttered. Where had this come from?
 
“Come with me!” he repeated. “I've got something I want to show you!”
 
Without a second to spare, Naruto pulled her up from her seat and began to drag her by the hand along with him to wherever he was intending on going. Sakura stumbled momentarily from being taken off of the stool, though her shinobi training quickly enabled her to right her stance so that she was more running with him, and holding his hand rather than being forced along.
 
“Naruto!” she called out. “What the Hell are you doing?”
 
“Come on!” he responded. He looked back over his shoulder, regarding her with a devil-may-care smile. “You've got time before you have to go back to work still, right?”
 
“Not much, but...will you quit dragging me, already, and tell me where we're going!?”
 
 

xXxXx

 

 
Naruto had either chosen to ignore her or didn't hear, because his grip on her hand had remained resolute. After a couple more minutes of travel, Sakura realised that they had been moving towards the Hokage monument that stood watch over the Leaf Village. Reaching the bottom of the colossal stone faces of leaders past and present, the Uzumaki had harried her up the staircase that led to the top until both were positioned at the summit. Neither of them had breathed heavily.
 
Releasing her hand, Naruto stepped up to the edge of the viewing platform that the two had emerged on top of, and surveyed the village below. “Ah...look at that. Pretty, ain't it?” he said softly. “Right, Sakura?”
 
He didn't get an answer. Confused, he move back over towards his girlfriend and started to give her a once over with his eye. “Sakura? Hey are you-”
 
A fist to the stomach was more than enough to convince him that the love of his life was fine. Coughing, he doubled over and fell to his knees. Daring to look up through the tears that had crossed his vision, it was to see the visage of one angry Sakura Haruno.
 
“Naruto...” she growled. “Mind telling me what that was all about?” Naruto grimaced in fear as the incensed kunoichi cracked her knuckles to illustrate his fate, should the answer he provide be unsatisfactory. Standing back up to his feet, a little wobbly, he once again walked back over to the viewing platform.
 
“No reason. I-I just wanted to admire how beautiful the village is, that's all. You agree, right?” he replied weakly.
 
“Naruto, we've been up here a million times. We came up here on her first date,” Sakura mentioned with a slight frown. What was going on? She sighed. “Of course I think it's beautiful.”
 
“Right! Right...” he swallowed. “But, uh, but not as beautiful as you, you know?”
 
Sakura blinked. Her boyfriend had often, and did often, compliment her. When they had first started dating, he had been incredibly nervous and spoke a variety of cheesy lines to her, because he had thought that it was what people on dates did. Once Sakura had asked him why he had been acting so weird after the fourth line of the evening, his words had become a lot more naturally him, and had stayed that way. This, however, was like that first date all over again. “Uh, thank you,” she replied rather lamely.
 
“Yeah, you sure are beautiful,” he continued in a softer voice. “I've always thought that, you know. Not just your looks, but your personality too. It's like...I don't know, like I couldn't even imagine someone like you, you know?”
 
“How do you mean?” Sakura inquired, unaware that her own voice had softened almost as much as his. Whatever he was trying to say must have been important, or had been on his mind a lot lately. The increasing usage of his verbal tic told her that much.
 
“Well, it's hard to explain,” Naruto said with another scratch to the back of his head. “Back when we were kids, I couldn't put my finger on it either. Until, well...”
 
“You mean that time you henged into Sasuke in order to get my honest thoughts on you?” she questioned with a raised brow and wry smirk. Naruto had told her about that event shortly after they had gotten together. She had steamed about it for a bit, sure, but the heartfelt apology from Naruto had eradicated any residual negativity. They had both been young, after all. The only times she brought it up now was if she wanted to poke fun at the Uzumaki. It worked every time.
 
“...Yeah,” Naruto spoke, coughing into his hand, embarrassed. “That. After that, well, I think that was when I began to understand a little bit of what it was that drew me to you. It was your desire for acknowledgement. We were the same.”
 
Sakura nodded, knowing all of this since Naruto had told her as much when they first started dating. She smiled at the memory of how giddy the both of them were after that first night, after their meal.
 
“As we grew up, though, I realised there was so much more to love about you,” he continued. He seemed to be on a roll now. “You were, are, so kind. So brave. So strong. Smart. Way, way smarter than me.” He paused to give a small self deprecating chuckle. “Truth be told, I always felt that you were too good for me. I still do, in some ways.”
 
“Naruto...” Sakura murmured, touched. She had tended to believe that it was the other way around. That he was too good for her. “Don't say things like that. You know I -”
 
“Please, Sakura-chan,” he said, holding up a hand. “If I don't get this out now, I may chicken out for good. Just...let me speak for a bit longer, okay?”
 
Sakura nodded and swallowed. There seemed to be some sort of electricity in the air that had started to affect her own nerves. Whatever bothered her boyfriend appeared to be infectious. Naruto breathed in and out.
 
“I always felt you were too good for me. So, I wanted to do my absolute best in order to prove that I was good enough for you, you know? The reason for that is...is because I love you. I love you so much...like, so much more than I-I...”
 
Naruto raised both of his hands to his hair, and run them through the thick blonde spikes. “Man, this was so much easier earlier. I had this all figured out before coming up here!” he grumbled to himself, irritated.
 
Sakura stepped closer to him and took hold of his hand. She swallowed. For reasons unknown to herself, her throat had become incredibly dry. “It's okay, Naruto,” she soothed. “Take your time.”
 
Naruto nodded. “I actually had a whole thing I wanted to say to you when we came up here,” he admitted gently. “I spent some time writing it and trying to learn it, but I can't remember it all. I'm too nervous.”
 
Sakura frowned ever so slightly at the question that persisted in bothering her. What was Naruto so nervous about? “Then, why don't you do what you always do,” she suggested, her light voice carrying plain to him without anything to drown it out, as clear as if she had been speaking directly into his ear. “Just do what your heart tells you.”
 
Naruto lifted his head and looked straight into her eyes. His resolve firmed and he nodded. Placing his hands on both of her shoulders, he made sure that that both of their eyes locked. Brilliant blue to glowing emerald. He said just two words.
 
“Marry me.”
 
Sakura could have sworn that her heart had stopped for a moment. Did he just...?
 
“...what...?” she whispered. She had to hear those words again, to make sure.
 
“...Marry me, Sakura-chan,” he reiterated, finding his confidence. “I love you and I...I want to be your husband, and for you to be my wife.”
 
Sakura couldn't speak. She couldn't breathe. She couldn't think! Such simple words, and yet they carried a whole weight upon them. They carried the weight of change, to their relationship, to their futures – everything. She refocused her eyes and stared into the face of her boyfriend, her lover. She took in the spiked blonde hair that wafted gently in the wind atop his head, the whisker-marked cheeks and his striking sapphire irises. She saw absolute love and adoration, absolute truth within them. She had only one answer to give.
 
“...you idiot...”
 
“Eh?” Naruto's brow creased. Was this the normal response to a proposal? This isn't what he had read about in the books or seen in the movies.
 
Sakura wrapped her arms around his body tightly, crushing his form against her own in a tight embrace. “You idiot. You take me out to ramen on my break and drag me up here for the least romantic proposal ever...” She hiccuped a laugh as tears of happiness ran down her cheeks. “It's so you...how could I ever say 'no' to that...?”
 
Naruto barely dared to hope. “You mean...?” he spluttered excitedly.
 
Sakura pulled back to regard him with a tear stained but no less radiant, beaming smile. “Of course I'll marry you, moron.”
 
Naruto's smile could have, and perhaps should have, split his face it had been so big. With a loud cry out into the air, he picked Sakura up by the waist and twirled the two of them around in a circle. “YATTA!” he cried out into the night. Turning to face out over the balcony upon stopping, he screamed out. “You hear that, Konoha? She's going to marry me! Sakura-chan is going to be my wife, dattebayo!”
 
Sakura laughed at his exuberance, caught up in the moment. Not even the yelling coming from below, telling Naruto to shut up could dampen the mood. The two paused for a moment, and looked into each other's eyes before sharing a kiss together – their first as an engaged couple. The very concept made her light headed. They parted soon afterwards, making it short and sweet, both releasing a satisfied exhale. She rested her head against his chest as one of his hands buried itself in her shoulder length pink locks. What could make this day any better?
 
The happy, and now betrothed, couple took one last glance out across the village before turning back towards the staircase to begin their descent. Sakura felt as light as a feather. She could almost feel a part of her mind telling the rest of her that it was “about damned time”, and the kunoichi couldn't disagree. Looking back on their relationship up to this point, all of the moments that had been shared between them, this destination that had been laid out in front of the two seemed inevitable. Of course, their upcoming marriage needn't be the conclusion to their journey. Both of them wanted to start a family, after all.
 
She absent mindedly turned to look out upon the village herself. Sakura couldn't help but take note of where the sun's rays had cast shadows of the buildings they touched down below upon the streets that segued between them. Both of them had been out now for what must have been close to an hour.
 
The thought made her freeze suddenly, which caused Naruto to stop too. Her break had only been scheduled for half an hour.
 
“Sakura-chan? Is everything okay?” the blue-eyed ninja queried, a dumb grin still on his face.
 
“I'm late!” she cried. “I'm late for my shift! I was supposed to be back thirty minutes ago!”
 
“Huh,” Naruto snorted. He raised a hand and thumped its thumb against his chest. “Is that all? Don't worry, Sakura-chan. You've got the 'Naruto Taxi Service' ready to go!” Without waiting for permission, he scooped his fiancée up into his arms and leapt over the barrier running along the staircase.
 
“NARUTOOOO! LET ME GO YOU, IDIOT!” she shouted out. The wind whipped through her hair as they plummeted towards the earth, the village below rushing up to meet them.
 
As their drop abruptly came to a halt upon Naruto's landing on the Third Hokage's nose, and then started again due to his leap down to another structure beneath the two, a couple of things had made themselves certain in Sakura's mind. Number one: Naruto's immediate future was in danger as a result of this little stunt. Number two: her life as Sakura Uzumaki would be anything but dull.
 
Fighting hard to keep the joyful grin from spreading across her lips, the kunoichi knew that she could barely wait for that new phase of her life to begin.
 

END






You have some nice writing skills! Very cool! ^^

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