Summary: The war is over, and like Konoha, Team 7 has rebuilt itself from the ground up. Everything has changed, but Sasuke and Sakura remain much the same. Eleven years, she thinks, is a long time to be in love.
Rating: Mature (for sex and violence)
Sasuke sits in a hard wooden chair inside of Ambassador Akiyama’s hotel room. He drew first watch, so it’s his duty to wait in the dark, listening to an old man’s thunderous snores, and look out for intruders. His Anbu teammates sleep nearby, and soon one of them will wake and take his place. Sasuke has been sitting still for hours, and he is so bored that he would welcome enemy shinobi, if only for a chance to get out of this chair and do something.
He accepted a long, B-rank mission escorting an annoying Fire Country ambassador across the five great nations for one reason only: to get some much needed distance from Sakura. He had spent the last days of his suspension with her. Sleeping together, mostly, but also talking and sharing meals. Washing dishes and training. He finds an odd sort of comfort in engaging in the most mundane activities with her. He doesn’t know what to make of this. And then there is the intensity of their sex to consider.
Sasuke has fucked two women before Sakura. His first, Manami, was a civilian a few years his senior. They met on and off for a few months the year he turned eighteen. Theirs was a simple arrangement, pleasurable enough, and the relationship ended outside of the bedroom. Manami did not ask him about his clan or why he abandoned Konoha, and Sasuke did not ask her about the child he saw in pictures on her wall but not in her house. They parted on good terms as summer turned to autumn, and whenever Sasuke sees her around the village he nods in greeting.
His second was over a year ago. He met Kazue at a mid-scale bar on the outskirts of Konoha. A pretty kunoichi, middling height with dull red hair and blue-green eyes. If he’s honest, her coloring and her build reminded him of Sakura. They fucked on the couch at her apartment, quick and rough, and Sasuke did her the disservice of half-imagining another woman beneath him. He isn’t proud of that, and they haven’t spoken since.
Sasuke is no stranger to sex, but what he’s experienced with Sakura is so different from his past encounters that it’s pointless to compare them. Sometimes she touches him with reverence, like a thing nearly, but not quite, too precious to hold. Sometimes she touches him with passion, and her hunger for him, for his body, shows itself in every caress. But really, she doesn’t even have to touch him at all for Sasuke to feel her adoration and respect. Sakura’s love is evident in the curve of her smile, the upward tilt of her chin as she waits for his kiss. It’s in her eyes every time she sees him, so obvious that Sasuke wonders how he was blind to it for years.
With Manami and Kazue it was easy to keep his emotions divorced from his body. To fuck and not want anything else. But just a few short days with Sakura, and he’s already confused. Physical intimacy feels truly intimate for the first time in his life. And after three weeks away from Konoha he’s craving her touch. Missing her bright laughter and the quiet conversation they shared over dinner.
Akiyama coughs, rolls over, and grumbles in his sleep. Then he begins to snore again.
Anyone who believes a shinobi’s life is never dull is a fool. A ninja’s work is two parts waiting and watching to one part action, and Sasuke doubts he’s going to come across any action tonight.
The door opens, silent on its hinges, and he turns toward it, wary and alert. Light spills into the room, across the floor, framing the shadow of a man. It’s one of the Anbu, here to relieve him.
The shinobi wears the mask distinctive to his order, but Sasuke knows who he is regardless. Kenji walks with an arrogance of motion. He carries himself like a person who believes he cannot be killed. Sasuke does not need to use dojutsu to notice these things, and so he has no trouble identifying the man who took Sakura’s virginity and then disrespected her.
“Your watch is up,” Kenji says.
Sasuke stands and walks past him without saying anything. He refuses to waste his words on an idiot like this unless it’s strictly necessary. Working with him throughout this mission has tested Sasuke’s patience, since he would like nothing more than to snap Kenji’s conceited neck.
The next day, he escorts Akiyama to the town of Nagosai, and once the ambassador is delivered safely home, he and the Anbu head toward Konoha. Back to Ichiraku ramen lunches with a knuckle-headed Hokage and nights with Sakura.
The Fire Country is all green forest and humid heat, and they jump from tree to tree, Sasuke in the front, Kenji and his partner flanking him. The miles go by quickly, and by mid-afternoon they’re at the village gates. The two chunin posted there look at Sasuke suspiciously, as if unsure that he means Konoha no harm, before they let them through.
They go directly to the Hokage’s tower and report to Naruto, who then dismisses the Anbu, but tells Sasuke to stay. He stands before the wide desk, hands in his pockets, tired and ready to go home.
“So how was the Lightning Country?” Naruto asks.
“Fine.” He had escorted Akiyama to political centers, not to any of the hidden villages, so he was never close enough to Kumo to garner the Raikage’s ire.
“Great,” Naruto says. “Have you seen Sakura-chan yet?”
“No. I came directly here.” Why would he ask that? Did Sakura say something to him?
“Well, you should drop by the hospital and let her know you’re home.” Naruto shuffles through the mess of scrolls and papers on his desk, finds something, and signs it. Without looking up from his work, he says, “I think she’s been worried about you.”
“Sure,” Sasuke says.
He doesn’t bow and doesn’t say goodbye. He leaves Naruto’s office and heads out into the bustling streets of Konoha. When he comes to a fork in the road—one way leading toward the hospital, another to his apartment—Sasuke stops. He stands still in a sea of civilians and thinks about Sakura, waiting to hear from him.
Sasuke finds that he wants to go to her. Rather than imposing the space he hoped for, the weeks away from Konoha have only made him miss Sakura with an intensity that troubles him. He told her he would find her when he returned from his mission, but Sasuke knows that if he does this now she will know, as soon as they touch, the desperation with which he has wanted to hold her.