three mounds

Prompt 1: Welcome Home

This is from my personal prompt list. These will vary between one-shots and multi-chaps. I’ll post them on my fanfiction account, too, so check me out over there! (Link in bio)

Prompt 1: Welcome Home 

SasuSaku

Post-”The Last”

One-Shot


Sakura’s hands trembled. Each expert chop shredded away the round cabbage she’d purchased earlier that day in the market when the sun was high and the streets were busy. Now, it is almost evening. It is time for families to gather, for meals to be prepared. It is time for friends to speak of joyous memories and mundane duties, with smiles on their faces and food in their stomachs. 


With an expert flick of her blade, the sliced vegetable gathered atop her knife. She separated it equally into three mounds, placing it neatly beside the Tonkatsu pork chops she had finished frying only minutes before.
The woman took a step back to eye her plates. Were they presentable? Did it taste well? Sakura had followed her mother’s recipe perfectly, but she had a knack for making even the freshest foods inedible. There’s nothing wrong with adding healthy ingredients…but many tended to be bitter and hard to swallow.
With a vicious inhale, the slender woman devoured the aroma of her hard work and went to fix the table.


She had very important guests coming.
As she sat the last of the chopsticks down, three simple knocks rapped on her front door. Wiping her sweaty hands on the front of her apron, she untied it and hung the worn thing on the handle of her kitchen oven. Sakura’s steps were slow and graceful, despite her uneven heartbeat.
Naruto stood before her with masculinity and aristocracy. Though his eyes would always show innocents, it was clear that he had mature. He was no longer the wild, sly fox of his youth—after all, he would be Hokage in a few years.  


Training was difficult and tedious for the Kyuubi. Sadly, because he was busy learning the trade, he and Sakura rarely saw each other much anymore. Still, the man made sure to keep at least one day out of the year open for her.
Sasuke had promised the same.
Naruto smiled—a charming little thing that showed off the whiteness of his teeth—and brushed by her petite form. “It smells great, Sakura-chan. Is the teme here yet?”


Sasuke had always been punctual. She assumed that if he had not made it to her home at seven on the dot, he wouldn’t be arriving at all.
The man had been traveling for months now—searching for a redemption he would not find in the loneliness of damp forests and unfamiliar towns. It worked out well for the village, because he was often put on secret reconnaissance missions, and he could protect his people from the outside.
Still, Sakura missed seeing him.


She respired, letting the heartache flow from her lips as if it were the very air inside of her.  "I don’t think he’ll make it…again.“  
It was the second year in a row.
Together the old friends sat, sipping frothy green tea and speaking of important assignments and hospital conundrums. As they conversed, Sakura realized how…utterly uneventful her entire year had been. When she was a girl, a new year meant a new start. Things like a different hairstyle or losing weight to suit her structure better had always been at the top of her lists of "change”. 


She did not have the time for such thoughts anymore. The business of her life had taken such a strong hold; a full year had come and gone uninterestingly, but busily. Though Konoha’s peace was always a blessing, the woman couldn’t help but feel…trapped.
It was almost like life was just an endless cycle of scraped knees, emergency surgeries, and non-threatening missions.
Naruto spoke of his expecting wife and how excited he was. His years have been a lot more interesting. Hinata was three months along now—and although she had just started to show, the entire village already knew of their pregnancy. 


A hero’s child was soon to be born. Everyone was excited to meet the heir. Sakura, especially. 


The blush-haired woman finished her meal and gathered her dishes dazedly as Naruto continued. He waved his arms wildly with excitement. “She eats all of the time now. I’m lucky that she craves ramen, at least!”


“What if your child develops that habit? Make sure she takes all of the proper prenatal vitamins and only eats ramen as a treat. It’s so high in sodium!”  
She couldn’t help chiding him. Naruto always had a way of reminding her of his prepubescent self, and of better days—innocent days—when she had something to pick on him about. She grinned as he brought her his empty dish, leaning against her as he rinsed and scrubbed.


“You’re getting better at making food, ya know.”


“I practice all of the time." 


"It’s a pity you’ll throw that one away. I'm…really sorry, Sakura.”
The sincerity behind Naruto’s words was not lost on Sakura. She discards the leftovers and leans against her counter, thinking of Sasuke and wherever he may be.


“It’s alright. The food is cold, but his heart is warm. Something must have come up for him to be absent.”


She had hoped to woo Sasuke with her improving skills as a housewife. For a moment, the night before, she could almost picture the subtle quirk of his eyebrow as he walked into her home. Perhaps he would say, “It smells nice in here. Did you cook all of this? I’m impressed!”  
She rolls her eyes.


As a Genin, Sasuke had expected her to train more and get stronger, so she could be a useful kunoichi and defend herself. As a Chunin, Sakura had become one of the strongest ninjas in the entire nation. Now, as a Jōnin—powerful and famous and an expert in medical expertise—she was worried about childhood fantasies all over again?


It all felt silly. She is caught in between, no longer a child and not yet a woman. The ripe age of 20 tended to do that to you.


Naruto left not long after. He was the anxious type, and when away from Hinata for too long he began to get antsy. Sakura enjoyed his company, though, and reminded him that he was always welcomed in her home.
When he left, he took his brightness with him. The emptiness of her one-bedroom flat only taunted her. But, life was as happy as it was sad, and loneliness was nothing to dread. It would be bedtime soon, but Sakura was not tired in the least. 


She sat on her couch and zoned out to the news and weather, frowning slightly at the imminent chance of rain.


As her television blared and its cool blue glow tinted the color of her living room, a small knock sounded on her door. The wind had been howling since midnight, sending waves of fallen leaves against her home. For a moment, she thought that something from outside had come loose and pecked against the wood of her door.


But then, it happened again.


Wrapping her shawl around slender shoulders, she toed on her slippers and grabbed her hidden kunai from underneath her coffee table. She was a kunoichi, after all.
Tentative steps led her to the front of her home, and with an excruciatingly slow turn, the knob unlocked and she peeked on into the darkness of the night.  
“Sasuke-kun?”


The tall man brushed passed her and shook the leaves from his floppy black hair, letting them fall on the ground of her foyer. She took his cloak in a bewildered panic, brushing the smooth cotton with her fingertips before hanging it on a coat rack. 


“W-w-welcome…” her voice faltered, and the phrase she’d worked so hard on tumbled gracelessly to her newly dirtied floor.


“I didn’t make it in time.”


Sasuke’s statement caused a red heat to feather her cheeks. She smiled as warmly as she could, shaking her head in a ‘don’t-worry-about-it’ gesture. “You must be hungry. Can I make you something to eat? You can use my bathroom if you need to.”


Sasuke was the type of man that could look impeccable even in the thickest of grime. Sakura could not remember a time when he smelled of perspiration or of body odor, even in the longest and most grueling of missions. His scent, however, was always different, almost like his body soaked up the environment around him. 


He smells humid and rainy like he’d encountered a heavy thunderstorm that left him completely dry. She inhaled him.


“Ah,” He says, under the impression that her unabashed sniffing had caught something rather unpleasant. He followed her to her small restroom and took the spare clothes she had. It was a simple black top and men’s bottoms, still soft and new from a recent purchase.


“I’ve been stocking up on spare clothing,” She explains. “I always get strange visitors in the middle of the night. You wouldn’t believe how many stone-cold ninjas are too afraid of Tsunade to go to the hospital!”


Sakura knows that, if he’d let her, she would babble for hours. But he wants to wash up, and her mouth would certainly send him back out to the wilds if she didn’t keep calm. 


She makes her way to the kitchen and starts to prepare a modest meal—rice balls with bonito flake filling. She is grateful for her mother’s advice in this moment—to always leave her rice out to soak overnight—and it gives her plenty of time to fix her hair and fold up the shawl left on her couch.
When everything looks presentable, the woman turns on her tea kettle and waits, thinking of all of the things Sasuke has missed out on, and all of the things she wanted to tell him.

 
For some reason, Sakura only has unimportant things pop into her head. Though she knows no one would be interested in the strange price increase on deer antlers and thisslebush flowers like she is, (because they are used frequently in the medical field), she can’t help wanting to express this to him.
Sakura wants to tell Sasuke that the red bridge they used to meet on has a loose plank—the third to the right. She wants him to know that the cabbage vendor has a new grandson, and that her landlord just turned 68, and that she broke her favorite glass vase a few months ago and still hasn’t found a replacement.


Sakura doesn’t want to talk about how long he will stay, or when he will be leaving again.


When he walked into the kitchen—barefoot and still toweling off his thick, ebony locks—she had just finished shaping the last onigiri. She is shy with her steps but genuine with her smile. So when Sakura places the food down on the table and pulls the chair out for him, Sasuke can’t help but eye her skeptically.
She’s not angry like his mother would have been for arriving so late.
She’s not needy like Naruto is when he hasn’t seen Sasuke for a while.
She’s not nagging like Kakashi does when Sasuke doesn’t give notice of a delayed arrival. 


No, she is simply Sakura—warm, inviting, and loving—like she always had been.


Sasuke looked at the meal in front of him. He cannot remember how long it has been since having food prepared just for his sake.
During his travels, if anyone asked where he was coming from, Sasuke said he belonged to the land—that he was just a roamer with no home to come back to. But he has found his home in Sakura, no matter where he lays his head at night.

 
Placing his towel over the armrest of the chair, Sasuke approached her. His words could never fully convey his gratitude, his thankfulness—not like his actions could. 


Gathering her face in his hands, he meets her gaze fully.
In this proximity, Sasuke can see the flecks of gold and silver in her shocked irises, and the feathering blush that blooms across the bridge of her nose, and the parted mouth pant that escaped just before her breath was captured against his lips.


And when he moves away, still in her gravitational pull, Sakura says the words she’s wanted to say to him the most—the words that wouldn’t come out before.
It is not about deer antlers, or thisslebush flowers, or the vase she cannot replace. 


It is about them.


“Welcome home, Sasuke-kun.”


And in the end, Sakura knew she was right. Because the food may grow cold as their kisses get deeper, but his heart will always be warm. In her hands, he could never grow cold again.

How Termites Build Complex Homes Without a Master Plan

by Charles Q. Choi, Inside Science

Termites are tiny insects, but they are capable of moving tons of soil to build giant nests. Now scientists are discovering simple rules these insect architects might follow that could help explain how they build complex homes without a master plan.

Such research could lead to robot swarms that can organize to assemble intricate structures. These findings could also help decipher the rules governing complex systems ranging from blood vessels to neural networks.

Keep reading

Day 45: To Evoke the Goat.

Between the horns, a candle lights.

And before the skull is laid the feast of Red.

Red bread for the body, red wine for the blood. 

Red as the flowing of life.

Red as the lust of He Goat. 

And Red as the sacrificial river flowing from the veins of the King of the Mounds. 

Three nails for the Christ King. 

One for the purity of the crown. One for the truthfulness of the spirit. One for the deep power of the soul. 

Three times did he sigh. And three times did the heavens answer. 

And in his final words he ascended to the heavens, and descended into Hell, all the time the He Goat his guide, the heavenly father his crown. 

And then he ascended into the stars, and sits at the right hand of God, and judges the living and the dead in wisdom. 

And from the cup is brought forth the bread of life. 

One for the Father, One for the Son, and one for the Holy Spirit of the Mother.

In nomine Patri, et Filii, et Spiritus Sancti. Amen. 

Oh Whouffaldi Prime Steven, no one’s said anything about the Doctor crushing on Clara in a “sexual” way. At least, not officially anyway.

Until you brought it up [x].

#you know the old Chinese fable #where the man buries three hundred taels of silver under a mound of earth #and on top of that mound he sticks a sign saying #’there is no silver here’