Author: Cella [shortitude — ]
Ship: Team 7
Summary: Freedom or death, happiness or loneliness. What’s real and what is a dream? SAKURA. SASUKE. NARUTO. Which will you choose?
Spoilers: Spoilers to everything up to 503.
A/N: To Sasuke, happy birthday, moron. To its_game_time — , lokogato — , and spunbymidnight — ; you three revolutionized my concept Sasuke, and from time to time, made me actually love the little bitch. Additionally, spunbymidnight — , meteorfreak — , I took one for the team here. Have some team time. AU in parts. Most parts.
someday we'll find the rainbow connection, the lovers, the dreamers, and me
There was a tradition amongst the members of Team 7 that not even the mighty Uchiha Sasuke was spared from, no matter how hard he glared.
The tradition had started on Naruto’s fourteenth birthday, when Sasuke and Sakura had managed to work so well as a team that when the blonde Hokage-wannabe had woken, instead of going downstairs to get his birthday breakfast and the presents from mom and dad, he’d found himself up the Sandaime’s nose. Imagine his surprise when his bedroom door had lead not to the hallways of his cozy home, but to a full drop from the Sandaime’s nose, some hundred feet above Konoha. On that day, the Hokage had looked out the window and seen his son hanging from a rope from the Hokage monument, shouting and promising bloody murder to his laughing teammates, which observed the whole scene from on top of the Yondaime’s own bust. Onigiri had been provided by Sasuke’s own mother, and Sakura’s father had allowed her to take the camera out of the house just to immortalize the moment.
Either way, since then, The Birthday Challenge had become a tradition in the ranks of Team 7, and each year it became more difficult to trick the victim. Though it was easy to trap Naruto in a genjutsu, he had grown used to setting up many traps in his room the night before his birthday. And even though it was hard to fool Sakura with a genjutsu, the real danger laid in whether or not she would wake up violently in the middle of being transported to the middle of the forest and punch the one boy who was carrying her there at that moment. Ever since her sixteenth birthday, when she had broken Naruto’s nose upon waking up being carried by both teammates and thinking they were kidnappers, the boys had stopped underestimating her, and usually brought rope and a nice dosage of knock-out gas. And Sakura pretended she wasn’t aware of what they were doing, just for the purpose of the ever entertaining Birthday Challenge.
So, if Naruto and Sakura made sacrifices to their dignity for the sake of a fun wake-up call (that varied from being dumped in the middle of the Hyuuga main house, set on the table as part of the day’s breakfast, to being taken all the way to Sunagakure), Sasuke would not be excluded. It was, ultimately, not just a prank. It was a test, a challenge that every adult that had come to know about it had approved, because they researched well and planned it even better. For the birthday boy or girl, it was a good test of abilities to get out of their predicaments, whichever those were; and for the other two, it was a good test of their abilities to kidnap, tie, and trick one of the best young shinobi of the village (in their opinion, at least).
The night Sasuke had turned seventeen, he’d been completely unable to fall asleep until the wee hours of the morning. It didn’t help that even Itachi had given him a knowing smirk at dinner. The bastard was in on this, Sasuke could feel it. So it came as no surprise when he woke up in the headquarters of the Uchiha Sasuke Fanclub. What did shock and horrified him was that he was stark naked, with only a red bow tied around his neck, and another one around his hips, the Uchiha clan symbol falling just above the family jewels.
Nothing, not even being captured by Sound, had proven more difficult to escape than twenty-something rabid fangirls wanting to take the little uchiwa off.
He arrived at his home, humiliated and clutching himself, and found the perpetrators having his onigiri for breakfast. Wisely, his mother did not laugh. Sakura and Naruto weren’t as wise, exploding into loud cackles, interspersed with the occasional ’YOUR FACE!’.
He was going to kill his teammates. “This,” he hissed, grabbing the pillow from under Naruto’s ass and putting it in front of his crotch, “is not a challenge. It’s a prank.”
“Oh, come on, Sasuke-kun,” Sakura answered, grinning widely as she nudged Naruto with her elbow. “You have no idea how big the challenge was to get you in that club without anyone noticing.”
“Yeah, or to get you naked, and tie that bow around your dick, right, Sakura-ch—“
Sakura clamped her hand over Naruto’s mouth almost too hard, and smiled sweetly. “I’ve no idea what you’re talking about. Shut up or die.”
It didn’t take a genius to realize just who had tied the patterned bow around his waist. Sasuke looked at Sakura with horror, before his mother managed to salvage the morning with his favourite food.
With the delicious onigiri melting on his tongue, Sasuke decided to postpone the massacre until after breakfast. Any seasoned shinobi knew that it wasn’t good to main on an empty stomach.
By the third month, they had settled into a routine. They no longer denied that what happened under the bed sheets were not simply because of too much sake, or a bad night, or because Sakura had been left working at the hospital while the boys were on a mission, so of course they’d missed each other…
First, comes the admittance that yes, they are together. That Team 7 does everything together, even love and loving.
They always slept until late if the night had been agitated or if they’d been busy keeping each other awake. But no matter how late they slept, Sakura was always the first one to wake, stretching languorously between both of them and managing to stir Sasuke awake too. There would be a chaste morning kiss before he would untangle his arms and legs from her and allowed her to roll over him and get out of bed for her morning routine. While Sakura brushed her teeth and started the shower, Sasuke would wake Naruto; usually it was a bite to the shoulder, or a pinch to the side, anything necessary to get the blonde’s blood flowing and rushing straight to the head. On those days, Sakura would get out of the shower to find them wrestling on the bed, still naked, and there would be a sermon that would go on and on about how they always made the room a mess. Usually, if they had nothing better to do, they’d shut her up with what Naruto liked to call ‘the morning quickie’. Usually, the morning quickie lasted about an hour between the time on the bed, the one in the large shower, and the foreplay in the kitchen. On the mornings after a hard night, whether from a mission or a lost patient, it was Sakura who woke Naruto with peppered kisses to his face, until she could feel his marks stretch as he smiled sleepily. Then they cuddled and cuddled, until Sasuke got up to fetch her favourite dango for breakfast.
The first to sleep was always Naruto, usually exhausted from whatever activity occupied his time before sleep. He always fell asleep on his back, one hair stretched out to grab the back of Sasuke’s neck and pull him close, and Sakura sprawled on top of him between them. Sasuke was the last to go, with one amused huff and the brush of his fingers down Sakura’s back and up Naruto’s hands, to acquiesce their presence and their warmth, before he succumbed to more dreams of them.
Naruto always asked for ramen for breakfast, and Sakura downed a whole teapot of green tea to wake up, while Sasuke just looked at them and listened silently to the way they bickered and planned out the day. Sometimes, Sakura offered to make him breakfast, and Naruto told him to try some of his ramen because he was too skinny and needed to look alive. It usually ended with Sasuke telling Naruto that if he wanted love-handles to grab onto, he should pay more attention to Sakura’s, which normally ended with a teacup being thrown at his ‘smart and pretty Uchiha head’. It sometimes was followed by a lesson in why breakfast is important, delivered by Sakura, which Sasuke responded to by nibbling on her neck until she shut up completely, and thanked her for the meal afterwards. But it wasn’t as if he never had breakfast – he usually got something on the way to the Hokage tower – it was just that his companions proved to be so interesting to watch in the morning, and there was so much to take in, that he didn’t want to be distracted by anything at the risk of missing a detail here and there.
And no matter where they were, if they were not together, every day at noon, they pulled out a picture of the team from their pockets, and smiled at how good life can be.
Uzumaki Naruto was twenty when he got named Hokage, and he had his two best friends in the world with him for the occasion.
They sat beside him as the counselors sit next to the king, and listened amusedly as he babbled on and on about the changes he would instate in Konoha, starting with the Hokage hat.
“What’s wrong with the hat?” Sakura asked, finally startled out of her silence when he declared that there was something he wasn’t happy with, despite all his dreams having come true.
“That’s simple,” Naruto answered, pulling the hat on, and leaned in closer to her. “I can’t kiss you with this in the way.”
It shouldn’t have surprised him that she would punch him for saying something as bold and intimate as that in front of the Council of Members. What did surprise him was seeing Sasuke hold out his hand and recollecting five hundred yen from Shikamaru with a smirk on his face.
“I bet you wouldn’t last more than twenty minutes without getting in trouble as a Hokage,” the former missing-nin admitted, controlling his smirk away as he put the money in the sleeve of his haori.
“You’re buying me ramen with that money,” Naruto mumbled, trying hard to keep a stern face when all he wanted to was to bash the bastard’s face in for having such little faith in him. (Or maybe he just knew him too well, after two years of living together with him and Sakura.)
He cleared his throat and turned back to the old geezers of the council, ready to tell them there’d be no such thing as training their shinobi based on brainwashing them anymore, when he spied Sakura’s smirk and her hand held out in waiting until Sasuke sighed and dropped those five hundred yen into her hands.
“I bet you wouldn’t last an hour without mentioning ramen, and that you’d somehow get us to treat you to it, even though you’re the richest of the three now, Hokage-san,” she explained, her expression calm safe for the glint in her eyes.
“Stop betting on me, dammit!” he snapped, hissing only for their ears to hear, “They’ll never take me seriously if you do this!”
Somewhere in the room, one of the old guys (like Naruto remembered their faces, sure) snorted. As if we don’t already, it seemed to say. Naruto sighed, and looked towards the ceiling desperately. Ah, they of little faith.
But then, Sakura leaned closer by an inch and squeezed his leg, and Sasuke tensed on his other side in what Naruto knew was his overprotective grumpy bastard pose, and the new Hokage smiled to himself. “Knock’em dead,” Sakura whispered, and so began his legacy.
His consciousness faded in an out. The third time he woke up, he could hear a familiar sound. He felt her tears falling on his face seconds before he realized that it was the sound of Sakura crying as she struggled to heal his injuries. He turned his head to the side and opened his eyes to look at a battered up Naruto looking at him from his place on the ground.
“I didn’t think you morons would actually try to kill each other again,” Sakura sobbed above him, her chakra invading his body, pulling and twisting and sealing shut.
“Don’t cry, Sakura-chan,” Naruto murmured, and smiled through the tears and the rain. “At least it knocked some sense into the bastard’s head this time.”
“Your method won’t always work,” Sasuke said, groaning when one gash was healed above his eye.
“What do you mean, teme? I can totally kick their asses into taking you back, you’ll see,” Naruto protested, standing up and falling down with a defeated groan from the ribs Sasuke had broken fifteen minutes before.
“They won’t share your ideals,” the last Uchiha whispered, and turned his face away from the idea of living.
“We can run away, the three of us. And come back when they beg us to,” Naruto suggested, but it was met with a snort.
“Naruto, I don’t think…” Sakura and Naruto shared a look between them, one that Sasuke took to mean ‘he won’t make it with these wounds’.
“At least you kept your promises, dobe,” he admits, interrupting the silence, and daring to smile at the tragedy of all.
“Boys, honestly!” Sasuke could tell that the blood that rubbed on Sakura’s face as she massaged her temples was from him and from Naruto both. Blood bonds. “I swear, some things never change.”
He could hear Naruto starting to protest with some remark, but unconsciousness took over again. When he woke up, she still wasn’t done with the wound on his chest, the one he’d gotten from Madara. He could feel his breath leaving him slowly, and when she asked him to hang on for her, he was already lost to delirium, so he spoke.
“Maybe in another life, I stay with you…”
“Maybe we wake up together each morning, and eat breakfast, the three of us.”
“Teme, you’re not going to die on us now—“
“Maybe they never died, and we’d be happy.”
“We’re happy just to have you here, Sasuke-kun, but please, please hold on—“
“Maybe we’ll get buried next to each other.”
“Shut up, bastard, you’re making Sakura-chan cry!”
He smiled bitterly, and reached out, finally reached out, grabbed both their hands and squeezed them. “Hey,” he said, “if you get reincarnated, look for me.”
“Watch where you’re going, moron!”
“You ran into me first.”
“Boys, boys, come on. I’m sure there’s a way to solve this without a fight. How about you buy me a new coffee, and I won’t punch either of you for spilling it on my shoes.”