“I never expected to see you again!” Hashirama exclaimed, wrapping arms around Sakura and lifting her off the ground.
“Oi!” Danzō said, scowling at the man. “Put her down!”
Sakura and Hashirama exchanged looks before he set her down, chuckling all the while.
“Calm down squirt,” Hashirama said, ruffling the boy’s hair. Danzō had gone through a growth spurt and was nearly eye level with Hashirama now.
“That was a little overdramatic,” Sakura told Hashirama, drawing Danzō away by the arm. “You’ve been receiving weekly updates from us. Our Summons have been arriving on time right?”
“Still, we’ve missed you,” Hashirama said, moving to hold his brother in a heartfelt embrace.
“That we have,” Mito said, sidling up beside Sakura and hugging her tightly. “Your hair’s grown out a bit.”
“Just a few inches,” Sakura said, touching her hair self-consciously. “The team said it was nice.”
“It’s great, Sakura-sensei!” Kagami chimed in, wrapping his arms around her middle and glaring at Mito.
“It’s a very flattering cut,” Torifu added, smiling sympathetically at Mito.
Mito just laughed lightly, shaking her head at the team’s antics. Team Three was infamous for their attachment to their mentor and it was obvious that it had only been strengthened during their time away.
“I feel unloved,” Tobirama said, moving toward them.
“Your brother is attached to your hip,” Sakura replied with raised brows. “I think that’s plenty of love.”
Tobirama shrugged, pouting at his students. “Why don’t you three cling to me like that? I feel so unloved.”
“Never happening,” Koharu said, shuddering in disgust.
“How are you feeling, Sakura?” Izuna asked, eyes soft as he approached her.
Kagami tightened his arms around Sakura’s waist, Sharingan activating instinctively.
Madara and Izuna both stifled a laugh.
Sakura ignored her student, smiling brightly at her friend. She pulled out of Kagami’s embrace, hugging the other Uchiha. She didn’t notice the way Izuna stiffened and blushed, but her students certainly did.
“I am tired,” she said, arms still around him. “More than slightly exhausted; but, you know, I am content. I am so happy to be back here in Konoha.”
Izuna didn’t respond. Sakura pulled back, staring at him quizzically for a moment before Madara redirected her attention.
“So,” he exclaimed, clapping his hands together before placing a hand on Sakura’s shoulder to lead her, “I am sure you all are nearly dead on your feet but we have much to discuss. If you would follow me to the Tower?”
“Of course,” Sakura said, wrapping him in a side hug. “I’ve missed you too, Madara.”
Madara grinned boyishly, guiding her toward the Hokage Tower.
He shivered at the trio of deadly intent stares directed at his back.
Team Three was back in Konoha and closer than ever.
Hiruzen watched attentively as Sakura-sensei sparred with Homura. The other boy had asked Sakura-sensei for some help on his taijutsu and she was more than willing to help.
Hiruzen winced as Homura hit the ground with a wet sounding smack.
Hiruzen turned, surprised to see that Danzō had come up beside him. “How long have you been there?” Hiruzen demanded, knowing Tobirama-sensei would beat him senseless for being so unwary.
“What an idiot,” Danzō scoffed, eyes dark and glinting as he stared at the sparring duo.
Sakura-sensei was guiding Homura slowly through a low punch. Hiruzen’s brow furrowed.
Homura knew that move already.
Tobirama-sensei taught it to them months ago.
“The bastard’s asking for it,” Kagami said, Sharingan active and spinning.
Hiruzen jumped. “Seriously, what technique are you guys using?”
“It’s a modified Shunshin technique that Sakura-sensei taught us,” Torifu said, watching the demonstration with a frown. “Homura is just trying to piss you off, Kagami. He knows how jealous you get.” Torifu snorted, glancing over at Tobirama-sensei. “It looks like Tobirama-sensei knows it too.”
Tobirama strode over to the two, countenance stormy. He spoke in low tones to Sakura who began to laugh merrily. She patted Homura heartily on the back, nearly knocking him over before stepping out of Tobirama’s way. He took Sakura’s place before Homura, barking orders.
Hiruzen glanced at the members of Team Three, all three directing glares and scowls Homura’s way. Hiruzen shook his head, before smiling and greeting Sakura-sensei as she came over to them.
Homura was a dead man, one way or another.
“You heard me. Take It. Off.”
“Over. My. Dead. Body,” Torifu replied, clinging to his hat. “I will die wearing this.”
“Come on,” Kagami wheedled. “I’ve never seen you take it off. Not even when we go swimming in the river!”
“It’s waterproof,” Torifu said smugly.
“That one time Kagami tried to remove it while you were sleeping you nearly ripped his arm off,” said Danzō. “If you applied even half of that focus to your skill as a shinobi you’d be Anbu already.”
Torifu shrugged, which looked rather awkward as he kept his hands clasped over his hat. “I’d rather keep you guys around, even if you are holding me back.”
All three turn at the sound of clapping. Sakura mimed wiping a tear from her eyes even as she smirked at them all. “How sweet,” she said, “though I doubt Hashirama or Madara are promoting any of you in the near future.”
“And why not?” Danzō demanded.
“Because I want to keep you ruffians around for a little longer,” Sakura said, ruffling his hair. “Enjoy being a chunin!”
Danzō knocked her hand away, scowling.
Sakura snorted at him, folding her arms as she regarded Torifu.
“You know,” Sakura began casually, “I remember a time when you wore a very different hat. One with bun—”
“Ha, ha, that’s enough!” Torifu interrupted, covering Sakura’s mouth with his hands. He glanced at his teammates nervously. “They don’t want to hear this.”
Unfortunately, the damage was done.
“You wore bunny ears?” Kagami crowed. “Does your mom have pictures?”
Torifu sighed, pulling his hat further over his head as a blush heated his cheeks. “Ask her and I will break your arm.”
Kagami paled even as Danzō egged him on.
Sakura laughed at her students, smiling at their tomfoolery.
It was good to be a teacher.
“Looks like we’ll be trapped for a while…” muttered Sakura, eyes on the Uchiha as they filed into the room.
“Sorry about this,” Izuna replied, leaning toward her. “I know this is probably the last thing you want to do right now.”
“Are you kidding me? This is my first time seeing a clan council meeting up close and personal. I’m expecting drama, yelling, maybe even some fist fights,” Sakura said, smile wide and teasing.
Izuna snorted at the very idea of these elders using their rusty shinobi skills against each other. “Honestly, I’m not sure that they can use their Sharingan, let alone fight hand to hand.”
“You’d be surprised how spry they still are,” Sakura said, waving to one of the elders. “They were able to activate their Sharingan when I was healing their Curse.”
Izuna smiled at her warmly. “They all love you, you know? They’ve brought you up in council meetings before.”
“Really?” Sakura asked, secretly flattered. “What sort of things do they say about me?”
Izuna flushed, turning his gaze away. Most of the time, the elders insisted that Sakura needed to be married by someone in their family to bring her into the fold. Madara had already taken himself out of the running with threats and his Sharingan.
This left Izuna as the main candidate.
Izuna cleared his throat. “All good things. They talk about your kindness and compassion, your sharp shinobi skills, and your unprecedented medical abilities.” He shrugged. “Basically they praise the ground you walk upon.”
Sakura laughed, shoving him in the shoulder. “You exaggerate.”
Madara called for attention and both fell silent. Sakura’s eyes landed on the current speaker, a smile lighting her face.
Izuna kept his gaze on her, soft and open.
“Not even slightly,” he replied, face flushed.
Sakura glanced at him, surprised and flustered.
“Not even slightly.”
Sakura turned from her conversation with the co-Hokages, glancing down at Kagami. He stood before her, fidgeting and blushing as he determinedly held eye contact.
“Of course,” she replied, ruffling his hair.
Kagami held out a hand to Sakura, ignoring Madara and Hashirama’s knowing grins as he led her out into the circle of dancers.
It was the annual Konoha festival, celebrating the founding of their village and everyone was in high spirits. Bonfires, good food, and games abounded. The different groups of dancers moved around the high bonfires.
Sakura and Kagami joined the line of dancers, facing each other. Sakura’s grin and eyes flickered in the light of the fire and it set Kagami off-balanced. They began clapping their hands against each other, feet gliding in easy circles as they turned round and round.
Kagami still couldn’t believe that his sensei was Haruno Sakura, one of the most legendary ninja of their time. But now, Kagami knew her as a human, not as an idol. He knew how her hair fluffed out around her head in the morning, she always claimed that she never snored (when it was obviously always her), she liked to steal their sweets off their plates, and she loved the stars. Kagami knew her as a person now and he loved her all the more for it.
“What are you thinking about Kagami-chan?” Sakura asked, cocking her head.
“Oi, what are you two doing?” a familiar voice demanded.
“Hello, Danzō-chan ,” Sakura greeted, grabbing the boy’s hand and drawing him into their dance.
Kagami barely fought off a disgruntled sigh; Danzō was the worstdancer. Honestly, no one could tell he was a shinobi when he danced. He had two left feet or something.
“Come on over, Torifu-chan!” Sakura called, catching sight of Torifu’s signature cat eared hat.
Torifu joined them, snorting at Danzō’s lack of coordination. “I’m glad to see you all here,” he said. “We can watch the countdown together.”
Sakura nodded, bringing her students into a circle and starting a different dance. She watched them all with a fond smile before starting. “What was it you were saying earlier? What were you thinking about?” Sakura asked Kagami.
Kagami smiled at her. “Just…just thinking about the stars.”
Sakura’s responding smile was brilliant.
“We’re in the middle of a thunderstorm and you wanna stop and feel the rain? Why?” Kagami asked, glancing at his teacher.
“I think she’s lost it,” Danzō muttered. “Too much stress.”
Danzō muffled a yelp as Torifu elbowed him in the ribs, right above the blossoming bruise he’d received in training the day before. Danzō glared at Torifu but remained silent.
“Sakura-sensei?” Torifu asked cautiously.
Their teacher sat on the ground in the lotus position, eyes closed as the forces of nature wreaked havoc around her. She looked calm, even peaceful as water poured down upon her.
She cracked an eye open, glancing at them. The trio stopped bickering, standing straight beneath her gaze. She smiled slightly.
“To answer your suggestion, Danzō-chan, I have not lost it. Good idea though,” Sakura said, smile widening as Danzō flushed. “As for your questions, Kagami-chan and Torifu-chan; I am enjoying myself.”
“This is…enjoyable?” Danzō asked, eyeing her dubiously.
Sakura sighed, face melancholic as she stared up into the sky. “It is a reminder of the past, maybe not particularly enjoyable but a reminder all the same.” Torifu and Kagami elbowed Danzō at the same time for making Sakura-sensei sad. “The rain says things I cannot say.” It cries as I cannot. “It is wise to pause for a while.”
Her students fidgeted for a moment, Danzō jumping as thunder roiled through the air.
“Enough of that, now,” Sakura said, leaping lithely to her feet. “To dwell on the past is a mistake.” Her smile was soft as she approached her students. “The present is what matters.”
“Do you…well…I mean…I could give you a massage?” Tobirama cringed as the words tumbled out of his mouth, disjointed and hesitant.
Sakura glanced at him with surprise, even as she still rolled her shoulder. She chuckled, her eyes bright. “As a medic, it may be ill-advised for someone untrained to do so.”
Tobirama nodded, flush rising. “I…sorry, I just…I feel bad about injuring you in our spar.”
“I’m not sure if I’d call it an injury,” Sakura replied. “Your brother is quite the taskmaster, getting me to help with the expansions of the village.”
“Nii-san is making you assist?” Tobirama asked. “On top of the war? Has he gone mad?”
“I volunteered,” Sakura said, rolling her eyes. “No need to get up in arms about it. Besides, I’m a medic nin, remember?” The hand pressed to her shoulder blade glowed blue. “I can take care of myself.”
“Of course,” Tobirama said, deflating. “I worry too much, I know.”
“Nah,” Sakura said. She sauntered into his personal space. “I like that you worry about me. You worry the perfect amount.”
So saying, Sakura leaned in and pressed an airy kiss to the corner of Tobirama’s mouth.
“See you later,” Sakura said, heading off of the field.
Tobirama watched her go, hand pressing to his still tingling lips.
Chapter 8: Three Times Team Three was Overprotective toward Sakura
3. The time Team Three gets trapped in the Summoning world because Danzō makes a snide remark to Sakura’s Turtle Summons.
2. The time Kagami challenges all of the Seven Swordsmen to a drinking competition against Team Three. Sakura has to heal all of her students from alcohol poisoning as well as go head-to-head with the Swordsmen to finish the contest and defend her students’ honor.
1. While in Uzushio, Team Three becomes suspicious of Sakura’s interactions with the heir of the Uzumaki clan, Mito’s older brother, Takara. They become so paranoid that they stalk Takara’s every movement, enlisting the help of a reluctant Team One when they claim it is “a matter of national security.” Unfortunately, they are not the subtlest group and get caught. The Uzumaki, already facing assassination attempts, want to put the chunin on trial and only Takara’s good humor and Sakura’s good word keep them from being prosecuted. Sakura is, understandably pissed that they nearly caused a national debacle.
Izuna awoke ensconced in a warm embrace.
“You fainted…straight into my arms. You know, if you wanted my attention you didn’t have to go to such extremes,” an amused voice said from somewhere overhead.
Izuna looked up into the bright face of the aloof and mysterious Haruno Sakura. Her eyes were crinkled up at the sides as she stared down at him in clear delight. In her eyes was also a veiled look of concern, though she hid it well.
It was the most emotion he’d seen from her yet.
“H-H-Haruno-sama!” he exclaimed weakly, trying to sit up only to feel blinding pain at his temples.
“Hey, it’s alright,” Sakura soothed, gently guiding them both into a seated position. She placed his head in her lap. “I’m afraid this might not just be swooning, Uchiha-san.”
Izuna bit his lip, simultaneously glad and overwhelmed by their closeness. Since her arrival, Sakura stood as a separate figure, involved but distant in building Konoha. She created a legend of herself. Now though…well, now he could feel how human she was.
Somehow, he had the feeling that Madara was laughing at him somewhere.
Sakura’s hands pressed up against his temples and Izuna found all thoughts and anxieties fleeing.
This was wonderful.
Chapter 10: 80s Summer Camp AU
Sakura groaned quietly under her breath, waving a jaunty goodbye to the other counselors. She couldn’t believe her campers! They hadn’t shown up for any of their activities today! After a day of teaching adolescents to kayak and also securing her place as undisputed champion of flag football, Sakura was exhausted in that sore, exhilarating kind of way. She didn’t want to have to reprimand her charges but really, their obsession was getting ridiculous.
She looked up at the shabby cabin decked out in hand painted tapestries created by Sakura and all of her campers. She always kept their gifts.
“Boys,” Sakura thundered, walking into the room.
Her three most contrary campers sat on the floor, looking up at her guiltily.
Sakura couldn’t help but falter a little at their bright eyes and mischievous smiles. She loved them. Still….
“What have you been doing in here all day?” Sakura demanded, looking at their strewn papers, figures, and dice. “You didn’t even have your Dungeon Master here!”
Danzō was the only one who would meet her eyes. “We just…we got carried away.”
Sakura snorted at Danzō’s easy way of understating the matter at hand. “You boys are all too obsessed. I never should have introduced you to the game.”
“No!” Kagami said, throwing himself at her leg. “You can’t!”
Torifu and Danzō quickly followed suit. Sakura swayed beneath their combined weight, laughing.
“I can do as I please,” Sakura said, teasing clear in her tone.
“Don’t!” Torifu begged. “We came up with some ideas for the next campaign!”
Danzō nodded, grabbing a sheaf of papers rife with drawings of their characters.
Sakura softened completely as she looked over their bright pictures of Dwarves and Dragonborns and Halflings. They may be completely fanatical but they were passionate.
“I won’t put the board up on one condition,” Sakura said.
“Anything!” they chorused.
“Keep up with all your other activities,” Sakura said. “You guys do not play without me. You’re here for the summer; you need to get to know the other campers and not stay cooped up in here!”
“But we don’t want to meet anyone else,” Kagami whined. “We just want to hang out with you!”
“You’re the best counselor here,” Torifu added.
Sakura snorted, ruffling their hair. “I’m not sure how accurate that is but I’ll take it.”
“Yo, Sakura!” Tobirama called, poking his head in through the doorway. He observed the chaos of the room and his smile widened. The henna tattoos that Sakura did for him at the beginning of the summer were still a bright, brilliant red. “You guys coming out for s’mores?”
Sakura nodded, breaking free of her charges’ hold to rummage through a drawer. “Hold up a sec, Tobi,” she said, ignorant of her campers’ dark gazes as they looked at ‘Tobi.’ Danzō shifted to stand a bit in front of Sakura. “Here it is!” she said triumphantly, tossing him a cassette tape. “You asked for my newest mix at archery yesterday.”
Tobirama’s smile was soft and sweet and flashing a danger sign to the young campers as he regarded Sakura. “Thanks,” he said, backing out of the doorway. “See you at the campfire!”
Sakura turned back to her campers who straightened up. “C’mon squirts,” she said. “Time to embrace the wild!”