title: avians in the after-dark
prompt: sarada meets garuda.
disclaimer: naruto, not mine since 1999.

Sarada takes care to remain absolutely silent as she slips out of her bedroom window and down to the ground. Any slight sound will alert her father, who is a very light sleeper, so she tip-toes as quietly as possible through the garden and beyond the fence.

Only when she is a few streets over does she finally start to breathe easier.

This is her first venture in sneaking out of the house after dark without her parents' knowledge, and Sarada is both thrilled and terrified. If she is caught, she dreads the disappointment in her papa's eyes more than any punishment.

Swallowing her anxiety, she continues down the street. Boruto has promised to show her something amazing and forbidden that he found in his dad's office, but he'd warned that he could only show her in secret.

So here she is wandering the streets of Konoha in the middle of the night, looking for some jerk who's probably playing a prank on her and won't even show. Sarada grits her teeth. If Boruto doesn't show, he is dead meat.

After an hour of circling the village, Sarada finally finds the Uzumaki heir crouched behind the ramen stand. Typical, she thinks. She approaches him silently from behind, tapping him on the shoulder. He jumps a foot in the air and clamps a hand over his mouth to keep from screaming.

Sarada rolls her eyes. "Are you gonna show me this thing or not?" Her whisper seems to carry in the dark, and she looks around anxiously, as though her father is right behind the next corner.

"Keep your hair on, prissy-pants," he scoffs, regaining his composure. "I have to get it out of the secret hiding place."

She watches impatiently as he digs through the dumpster beside Ichiraku. "Really? You put it in there? You don't think your dad's going to notice the smell when you put it back? Idiot."

Boruto turns back to face her to retort, but instead of speaking, his jaw goes slack and his face drains of all color. Sarada pokes him. "If you dragged me out here for nothing, I swear I'm going to-"

"Look!" he chokes out hoarsely, grabbing her shoulders and spinning her around. Sarada freezes in frightened shock.

Perched on a short fence across the street, a large hawk stares directly at them, it's beady eyes focused intensely. It jerks its head sideways and emits a loud shriek.

Terrified, Boruto takes off running down the street. Sarada runs after him, berating him for leaving her behind. "You idiot, you were gonna let it eat me!"

"Better you than me!" he hollers back over his shoulder.

Sarada's next words are swallowed by her scream as the hawk takes flight, easily catching up to her and latching onto her shoulders with its talons. Boruto stands dumbfounded as she is lifted into the air and carried off.

Sarada has never been so terrified in her life as the giant hawk lifts her into the night sky, as if she were a weightless rag doll. The view of the moon and stars is beautiful up here, but she can't think through her mind-blanking fear as she dangles hundreds of feet above the ground.

They circle a few times over the dormant village, the hawk occasionally letting out a raucous cry, as if it were a signal. Finally, they start to descend. As they grow closer and closer to the ground, Sarada realizes where the bird is taking her, and the bottom drops out of her stomach.

Rather than landing, the bird hovers over the front yard of the Uchiha home, the flapping of his large wings shaking the trees.

Standing on the front porch is Sasuke, his expression unreadable.

"Garuda, down."

His voice is short and terse, and Sarada isn't sure that she'd rather be on the ground right now. But the hawk obeys its master, gently setting Sarada into the soft grass. She tries very hard to keep upright, but the adrenaline and terror rushing through her veins sends her crashing to her knees.

She hears papa's footsteps approaching, and he kneels down in front o her. She can't help the tears that spring to her eyes. "I'm sorry, Papa, I'm so sorry. It was stupid and I'll never do it again-"

Her apology is cut short by his tight embrace. "You could have gotten hurt. You could have been kidnapped. Don't ever scare me like that again."

Sarada nods, burying her face in his shirt. "I promise, Papa."