Good To Be Home

It felt strange for him to walk through the gate. The last time he passed through it, was three years ago, when he set out for a journey, mostly to atone for his sins but to clear his mind too.

After the war ended, and Sasuke acquitted of the crimes committed during his darkest times, he only wanted to leave. To be alone, to get the chance to know himself better. All those years he had been so obsessed with revenge, that he hadn´t even known himself anymore. His whole existence had been consist of hate. The person who Sasuke Uchiha was, had been buried under all these dark and destructive feelings.

No wonder he wanted finally to understand who he was. What he expected from life and what he was supposed to live for. And he wanted it to understand without being bound to the burden of being the last Uchiha on the earth.

That he was even allowed to travel freely was a gift. And of course he was aware that his old teammates were responsible for his rehabilitation. Team 7 never gave up on him and alone that was enough reason to bound him still to Konoha.

He once hated Konoha with all his heart. After he learned the truth, what they did to his clan and brother, he only wanted to burn this damned village to the ground. Naruto freed him from the chains of hate.

Three years passed, where he tried to find out what he really want, to find out where he belonged. Three years where he couldn´t find the courage to return to Konoha. The place which was supposed to be his home.

Maybe it was because he felt he didn´t belonged there after everything he did. Maybe he even feared the reaction of the villagers if he, an former S rank criminal, would return there. Maybe he couldn´t forgive himself for his actions. Maybe he didn´t want to be at the place where his clan once lived and where they were brutally murdered.

It was probably a mixture of all of this. But if there was one thing he learned on his journey than, that he felt for the first time like Sasuke and not the last Uchiha. If he visited foreign towns and villages, than no one knew about his past, about his last name and about anything he wanted rather forget. He was just one of many, an ordinary traveller. And he enjoyed this feeling with all his heart. Since the massacre of his clan, he had always been an outsider, everyone used to view him different. But being far away from the fire country, let him live a life he hadn´t known was possible for him.

Sometimes, he wondered if it couldn´t just continue like this forever.

Kakashi was still Hokage and let him many freedoms. Freedoms not many people had and Sasuke knew it very well. Sometimes, Kakashi sent him few short missions, mostly to remind him that he was still seen as a Konohoa shinobi and that he was bound to that obligation. Another chain, he wasn´t sure he wanted in his life.

He wasn´t surprised when Kakashi sent him someday the order to return to the Konoha immediately. Probably, his former Sensei knew that he wouldn´t come back from alone and deemed three years enough time for him to settle things with himself. Or Kakashi thought he was just running away and maybe this was even true.

But now the Hokage took the decision out of his hand and in a strange way he felt even relieved about it.

He needed weeks for his way back and honestly, he wasn´t in a hurry anyway. The only reason why he followed this order immediately, was the gratitude and the guilt he still feelt towards his old team. There was no other chance as to return.

When he went through the village gate after a long journey, he felt exhausted and sweaty but he was looking for some feeling inside his heart. There was nothing expect for the silent fear of what would expect him next but entering Konoha after all those years as a free man wasn´t letting him feel anything. Nothing which he could connect with the word home.

He did not know if this would ever change.

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Sakura often wondered if her life was supposed to always go in the same rhythm. If she was the only one who would never have the opportunity to experience something special and beautiful.

A lot happened after the war. She and the rest of the rookie nine grew up. Everyone found the place where he belonged. Naruto married Hinata one year ago. Shikamaru got engaged to Temari and even Ino was planning her wedding with Sai into the near future. Her best friend and childhood rival beat her. Ino was miles forth with her future planning, while Sakura still stood on the same spot. She hadn´t even managed to move out from her parents yet. Despite being a young grown up woman, she was still living the same life she had when she was sixteen.

She always knew that her deep and unwavering feelings for Sasuke were one of the reasons why her life just couldn´t go on. When the Uchiha went astray into the darkness, she had prayed and waited four years for his return. It was the happiest moment of her life, when Naruto could finally free him from all this hate. And she could hope again.

Sakura still waited that someday he would return her feelings.

When she was younger, she waited four years of the boy she admired and loved since her childhood. Now, three years later, they were boths adults and she still waited of his return.

That was the reason why she declined every possibility for her to move on. She was almost twenty-one and didn´t even went on a single date in her whole life and this was only one of the many forgos she endured for the sake of her feelings.

No wonder the pink haired woman was so excited when Naruto informed her that Sasuke had returned to Konoha. She couldn´t believe it at first. But when Kakashi invited his former students for dinner that evening in order to celebrate the reunion of team 7, she knew that it was true.

For the first time since years she felt overjoyed. She spent hours smarten up for the evening, before heading to the meeting place. Her heart throbbed like furious in her chest, while her legs carried her through Konohas gourmet district. Their sensei had chosen a special expensive restaurant and Sakura found it very thoughtful.

Soon the familiar frames of Kakashi and Naruto came into view, they were already waiting for her. The Uzumaki was calling something, but her eyes were fixed on the person who stood a bit offside from the other both but she recognized him at once.

"Sasuke-kun..." She said when she stood in front of them.

He greeted her with a short nod but then he averted her gaze and looked into a different direction. All these years she had hoped that they would have a dreamlike meet again, but the greeting was bland, like it always had been. She smiled in order to overplay her disappointment, while she couldn´t look away from him.

He changed a lot. He was taller, his hair longer and his features more masculine as she remembered him. Nevertheless he was so handsome as he always had been and she was already about to lose herself in the sight of him. But something was different about him from the inside. The hate and resentment he once was filled with, was definitely missing. But instead he seemed to be distant and maybe even uneasy. He was missing something in his life, just like she was missing his presence in her life for years. The Haruno wished she could be the one who would fill the emptiness in his heart.

Sakura did not know if it was wrong or right but Sasuke being back in Konoha was her chance to win his heart once and for all. She didn´t knew from where the sudden resolution came, but she swore she would be successful this time.

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"I´m telling you, being married is the best thing ever! Hina-chan is awesome, you still remember her right?" Naruto said and tapped Sasuke on the shoulder, while continuing his speech enthusiastically.

While Naruto and Sasuke sat next to eachother, Sakura and Kakashi sat on the opposite.

Sakura observed Sasuke quietly, inwardly wondering what he thought. He hadn´t spoken much until now, mostly Naruto was talking, informing him about everything what happened during his absence. The Uchiha said nothing, only continuing to eat in silence and staring down at his plate. But he wasn´t asking the blonde to stop either.

"By the way is there anyone you like? You know someone you like a lot?" The Uzumaki placed his arm around Sasuke´s shoulder in a half hug but Sasuke shoved him away and glared at him immediately.

"What did I hit a nerve? You know, Sakura-chan is still single maybe you could ask her for a date."

"Naruto!" She admonished angrily, although she was aware that the blonde only wanted to lighten up the atmosphere.

Before anyone else could do or say anything more, Sasuke finally spoke. His voice deep but soft.

"Is there any special mission you want me for?"

Of course his words were directed to Kakashi.

"Nope." The silver haired Hokage merely said.

Although Sasuke´s expresssion stayed neutral, Sakura noticed the how his eyes widened slightly. But it was only for such an short moment, that she wonderd if she hadn´t just imagined things.

"So why did you call me back all of the sudden?" He demanded to know, directing his question once again at their former sensei.

Sakura and Naruto exchanged a look, it became clear that their teammate hadn´t returned on his own free will and neither of them had expected that news. That the raven haired was back in Konoha meant for them he got finally over the past but now they just learned that Kakashi was responsible for it.

"So you just returned because you were ordered?" Naruto asked straight away, but the Uchiha ignored him masterly, glaring at their former sensei, while waiting for an answer.

"You´re a Konoha shinobi." Kakashi eventually said. "I allowed you to travel for some time unattached but now three years passed and I think it´s enough time for you to come to terms with yourself. It´s about time you find your place in Konoha again and take up the obligations of a Konoha shinobi again."

"So and you simple decided it without asking me."

"We all know that you wouldn´t have returned from alone." The Hatake said wisely and everyone at the table knew it was true.

Especial Sasuke.

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Being back in Konoha felt strange. A lot of things needed to be organized, for instance where should he live from now onward. Naruto and Hinata were so kind to let him stay in their house for some days but Sasuke knew it wasn´t the best solution for him. Being alone for years now, he was longing for a private place and so looking for a new apartment was one of the first things he arranged.

He found a small two room apartment on the edge of the village, near the forest. He liked the area. Not only was is quiet and almost uninhabited. Reserved as he was, he was glad to live at least in a place where he could find peace. Also he wanted to avoid to interact too much with the villagers or fellow shinobi. He was unsure how they would react to him and he still tried to avoid interaction with others.

Living in a apartment was a great change for him. Since years, he had traveled from one place to another. Ever since he left the village in the tender age of thirteen, he had not owned a home. If he would ever call this new apartment home, would the time show but Sasuke doubted it.

He was getting restless. Somtimes he couldn´t stay in the apartment and headed outside, only to feel the cold night air on his skin. Sometimes he exhausted himself in long and hard training sessions with Naruto. After that he was so tired out that he fell into his bed as soon as he entered his bedroom.

Sakura and Naruto spend a lot of time with him, trying to help him to settle down. They were amazing, the best friends someone could wish for. It let him feel guilty at the same time, for everything he put them through in the past. But they had changed in their own way and sometimes Sasuke saw even strangers in them.

The past was still haunting him. Since his first day back in Konoha, he dreamed about the massacre again, about his parents and Itachi. How his brother cried tears of blood along with the dead bodies of their parents to his feet.

It let him feel more alone than he ever was.

After some weeks, Kakashi informed him that there were some belongings of his clan which he could receive if he wished. The things were collected after pains attack and Sasuke could chose now what he wanted to keep for himself.

He was devasted after he went through the stuff. He even found some belongings of his parents and a family picture of them. After gathering some things, he didn´t left the apartment for days. No one bothered him. Not even Naruto. Maybe he understood that he needed some time for himself.

When some more days passed, the knocking on his front door pulled him out of his pondering. He wasn´t in the mood to see anyone and was about to ignore it, but the knocking just became louder.

Pushing down an annoyed sigh, he went to the door and opened it. It was a surprise when Sakura standing there, grocery bag in her arms.

"Good morning Sasuke-kun. I thought you might be hungry." She said cheerfully. "Would you mind if I come in?"

Although he wasn´t in the mood to deal with her now, he hadn´t the heart to reject her. Not when she made her way out here only to care for him. So he stepped to the side and let her enter.

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For the coming weeks it became a routine between them to meet for dinner in his apartment. Sakura was a great cook and her meals were a nice change to the badly spiced fast food he was used to eat for years.

Although Sasuke was living since years on his own, he had never bothered to learn even the basics of cooking. And if he thought about it now, than he hadn´t bothered to do anything expect training. He was too obsessed with revenge at that time as to see what life could offer him instead. What for a pity he hadn´t seen clearly the importance of other things at that time, maybe then his life could have went into a different direction.

"And then you need to add the spices to the vegetables and let simmer for a while. Hey! Sasuke-kun you aren´t even listening to me!"

The Uchiha blinked when Sakura´s voice pulled him out from his thoughts. She stood on the stove, wooden spoon in her hand and the other placed on her hips. She made and half-hearted try to glare at him.

Indeed Sakura Haruno was trying to teach Sasuke Uchiha, former S rank crimanl how to cook.

After she learned about him that he mostly buying fast food and couldn´t even prepare the simplest meals she was determined to make him learn even the basics of cooking. Not that he was about to protest, he was enjoying her company. It distracted him from the guilt he was still feeling and pulled him out from the depression he felt about the massacre once again. He wondered if his teammates were only there to save him. First Naruto rescued him from the darkness and now Sakura cared for his mental wounds.

"I´m sorry, I was just thinking about something. What did you just say?"

She pouted at him. "How will you ever learn to cook if you don´t pay attention to what I say?"

"What for? You´re here almost every day to prepare dinner."

She blushed deeply and he felt something warm in his chest. Sakura changed much those past years and the familiar embarrassment was something what let him remember the old times with team seven. The times before he went rogue and things became only worse than.

"Don´t look for excuses Uchiha Sasuke. I know very well that you´ll only buy junk food when I stop provide for you and this is for the body of an active shinobi unhealthy!" She scolded after she recovered from her embarrassment.

"You´re wrong. If I need vitamins I have these of reserve." He pointed to a filled bowl with round and fleshy tomatos. The only thing he could eat from morning until midnight, he simple loved these fruits. But when he saw Sakura´s bewildered expression, that he was really trying to make fun of her, he couldn´t help but a light chuckle escaped his lips.

"Haha! Very funny Sasuke-kun. But you´ll learn to cook so don´t act worse as Naruto!" With that said she grabbed him by his upper arm and pulled him towards the stove.

"Listen carefully I won´t repat myself again." She warned before she began to explain him once again how to prepare and spice the vegetables in the pot correctly.

He listened to her only with one ear but was more busy with looking at her. He had never thought that of all Sakura, the girl he often rated as annoying in the past, could help him to feel so much better. The Uchiha couldn´t help but wondered, maybe it wasn´t so bad being back in Konoha after all.

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Sakura had spent her girlhood with training and study, almost every day without interruptions. It was only the incentive do something meaningful with her life. But if she was honest, than those change in her came only after Sasuke left the village. It rocked her, until then, heal world. She hadn´t noticed how hurt and desperate Sasuke really was at that time and she couldn´t do anything to stop him to wander into the darkness. The guilt she felt for not being able to stop him was still there. She had never forgave herself that she couldn´t have done more for the boy she claimed to love so deeply. But the truth was, she couldn´t remember a time where she hadn´t loved him.

It was ironic, but if Sasuke hadn´t made that dreadful decision, she would´ve probably never had the courage to go her own way so determined. Sakura doubted she would be the person she was now, without Sasuke´s missteps and it let her feel as if their lifes were still somehow connected, despite what all happened in the past.

"You changed a lot." Sasuke told her one evening, when he escorted her home.

They had spent the evening together, eating dinner like usual and she could even convince him to watch a movie with her. She doubted he found the movie interesting but watched together with her only to make her happy. He changed a lot too, as if he had finally back to his own self. He was more attentive to others needs.

"What do you mean?" She asked surprised. Looking up at him, while she walked by his side.

"You´re so different than I remember." He said, looking straight forward. "The last time I interacted with you so much you were a girl with big mouth similar to Naruto."

"What? Similiar to Naruto?" She asked but then sighed. "Guess you´re right. I was a terrible nuisance without skill."

"You were far more skilled in chakra control and genjutsu recognition than Naruto and I together. But you were too busy with unimportant things as to improve your existing skills."

"Blunt as ever. I´m sorry not anyone cand be as determined as you were."

"Hn. Today I wish I hadn´t been so determined on things I believed were right."

Sakura´s eyes softened. She placed a hand on his shoulder and stopped him in his tracks.

"You´re back now Sasuke-kun. The past is over, so stop blaming yourself for things you can´t change. You know it wasn´t entirely your fault what happened to you."

The Uchiha snorted and she knew he didn´t thought so.

"I mean it!" She said firmly." The village and your clan have their own share blame to bear. You got just mixed up in the mess and after everything you went through it´s no wonder you acted the way you did!"

"My brother is the one who went really through a lot. Compared to him I´ve nothing to complain about. I trampled all over the life he wanted to offer me by making so much sacrifices. Only by making one wrong choice after another."

His eyes were filled with so much pain when he spoke those words that it pained her. She didn´t knew why he was so open about his feelings with her now, maybe because of all the time they spend together those past weeks, but she wanted to be there for him.

She placed her hand on his cheek, forcing him to look at her.

"You were thirteen. A child who was bound to make mistakes. Look at us, do you think Naruto and I would´ve acted different when we were placed in your shoes?"

"Naruto and you are too pure. You´ve no malignancy in yourself."

"Sasuke-kun..."

"Do you know what? One thing about you hasn´t changed. You still trying to see only the good things in me."

"One thing hasn´t changed about you either. You´re still ways too hard on yourself."

Sasuke smirked. "How do you manage it to make me feel better all the time?"

Those words let her heart beat faster. She couldn´t describe how happy it made her, that Sasuke was appreciate her company.

"You know... Before I went to Orochimaru, I saw team seven almost for an replacement for my dead family. The truth is, it scared me and maybe that was why I really left."

Sakura hadn´t expected him saying anything like that. She was shocked for a moment but recovered fast and wanted to say something more but Sasuke beat her into it, when he replaced her hand from his cheek.

"Have a nice evening Sakura." With that said he turned around and walked away.

She wasn´t trying to follow him, understanding that he wanted to have some time for himself after being so open with her. But the meaning of his words were clear. He had cared for their team as much as she had.

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Naruto and Hinata were celebrating the expectation of their first child. Both would be young parents, only twenty-one years old but their relationship filled with pure love that there wasn´t a doubt that this child would grow up very loved and sheltered. Sasuke felt happy for his friend. Being grown up as an orphan, Naruto had never knew what a family was. Now he would finally have one.

Sasuke was invited along from many other people into the Uzumaki house. There were plenty food and drinks and the guest sat in a comfortable round together, chattering and handing over gifts for the future parents.

Although most people treated him friendly or indifferent, the Uchiha felt uncomfortable, but he did his best not to show it. He came, because Naruto consisted, despite his protests. He was sitting between Sakura and Kakashi but felt that a lot of the present people were eying him curiously.

The pink haired chattered happily with Ino and Hinata and Sasuke and Kakashi were practically the only people who said mostly nothing. The Hatake had always been a man of few words, one of the reasons why he had always felt his presence as pleasant.

No wonder it him by surprise when the silver haired suddenly opened his mouth and announce loudly, how happy he felt for Naruto and Hinata but what followed next let him almost splutter when he took a sip from his drink.

"Now I´ve only two students left who should finally find someone to settle down with." While he spoke he looked wisely at him and Sakura.

"Sensei Kakashi!" Sakura warned loudly but he saw how she blushed deeply.

"Right, right!" Naruto agreed suddenly. "You know Sakura-chan is still single. I think you both are a fitting match."

"Naruto!" She jumped to his feet and raised her fist threateningly. "One more word and I forget myself!"

"Calm down Sakura." Ino said. "It was just a joke and nothing serious."

"Even so..." Shikamaru suddenly said and looked at Sasuke directly. "Shouldn´t you think about found a family anyway? You´re the last with the sharingan and if something will happen to you, the bloodline will be extinct. It would not only beneficial for you but for Konoha as well."

The glare Sasuke sent him let everyone froze.

"Konoha doesn´t own my clan´s bloodline and never will!" He said in an icy tone, before he stood up. "I´m sorry Naruto, I´ve to go."

Without listening to the blonde´s protest he hurried with fast steps out of the house. He took a deep breath when he was outdoors. The way Shikamaru said it... Even if he hadn´t meant it this way, it had remembered how the village once shunned and resented his clan, how they used Itachi to murder his family...

He really thought he had made his peace with it but he was wondering again if he even belonged here.

"What are you doing?"

Turning around, he looked direct into the masked face of his former sensei, who was standing with crossed arms in front of him. It annoyed him that the man had the nerve to follow him.

"Nothing. I just need some fresh air."

"You´ve to stop to lie to yourself. You´ve to stop to run away from your problems."

"I´ve no idea what you´re talking about but I´m not running from anything."

"Oh really?" Kakashi raised his eyebrows. "I´ve a different impression. Since the first day I met you, you were always running. Running from your feelings."

"What do you want from me?" Sasuke said, his tone maybe a bit too sharp. "Are you aiming for a lecture. Don´t you think I´m a bit too old for that?!"

"Stop being sarcastic. I understand that´s hard to deal with all of this. Being inside in Konoha forces you to face the expections of others. Maintain the sharingan as a part of the leaf is one of it. You´ve to learn to deal with it. But I understand that you still feel like an outsider in the village."

"Do you?" He asked blankly. "So why did you order me back in the beginning? If you know so well that I can´t stand being here. You don´t even give me missions, instead you let me waste away here without anything useful to do."

"I called you back because you need to stop to run away. I know you wouldn´t have returned on your own free will but you chose to be a leaf shinobi again, so you need to be here like anyone else too."

"Maybe it was the wrong choice." Sasuke said and for the first time really meaning it. Had it been wrong to obligate himself to the village he had once hated with all his heart. After the war Konoha did a lot for his rehabilitation but it was the same village who was responsible for the massacre of his clan. Perhaps it was naive to think that he could ever conclude with the past.

"It had been the right choice. For the first time in years it had been the first right choice you made."

The silver haired Hokage looked at him the same way, he used to when he was still a genin. The same look which would let him feel guilty for whatever mistake he did.

He was an grown up man now, talking to his former sensei on eye level, but this look had still the same effect on him as it had years ago. The Uchiha felt a painful sting in his chest and he lowered his eyes. Kakashi´s way to talk and look at him, reminded him too much on his old genin days. It reminded him of family.

"If you ever regret your choice again than think about us, the people who truly love you. Because we´re happy to have you back here with us."

The older man patted his shoulder before he turned around and headed back inside the house. Sasuke stayed back, still process the words.

"The people who love me." He muttered to himself.

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Sakura didn´t knew what, but something was different about Sasuke since the celebration by Naruto and Hinata. She had the feeling he was avoiding her, trying to keep her away from what ever connection they build over the past weeks. That wasn´t going well with Sakura. She hadn´t tried so hard to get closer to him, only to be shoved to the side again. He had done it more than enough in the past.

She understood that he was still struggeling with his past. The crimes he committed, the truth about his deceased brother but the massacre of his family too. Sometimes she wondered if the slaying of his clan would ever stop hunting him. Since he knew him, he was loaded with grief. And even now, where he tried so hard to cope with his life, he got still overshadowed by the past.

Even back than, when they were genin, Sasuke had always needed some space for himself. He had always been careful not to show too much of his feelings and although she understood that it was a part of his personality, it let her worry that distance would arise between them once again. The last time she had left him on his own, he had deserted the village.

She knew that he changed, that he wasn´t the same revenge obsessed boy he was back than, but it worried her nevertheless. The Haruno wasn´t willing to lose him again, not after he finally found his way back to them after all those years.

She visited his apartment on a daily basic but he was never at home and she went looking for him inside the village instead. She was not lucky, expect for one day where she spotted him heading to the cemetery in the early evening. Sakura almost called out for him but remembered herself, that he needed privacy now. It wasn´t her place to obtruder herself when he was paying his parents grave a visit.

The coming days, she couldn´t find him anywhere, no matter where she looked. She went even to Kakashi and asked him if he had send the Uchiha on a mission. Her former teacher just chuckled and told her that Sasuke was still inside the village and she should give him some space. He would come along to her eventually. Of course she had been quiete embarrassed, when she left the Hokage tower. But she tried to note Kakashi´s advice and leave Sasuke alone for a while.

The week passed and Sakura tried to busy herself with work at the hospital and girls evenings with Ino and HInata. But these meetings made her only more depressed as she already was. There were only two topics between the girls. Of course Hinata´s pregnancy and Ino´s upcoming wedding. No wonder Sakura felt left out.

I bet I´ll be still alone when Hinata´s and Ino´s children enter the academy. She thought embittered after one of their girls meetings.

There wasn´t anything to report in her life. She was always standing on the same spot and she was aware that her feelings for Sasuke are the reason for it. Her life would be easier if she wouldn´t love him so much.

There had been one moment in her alive where she had really wanted to forget him and cursed these feeling, which burned inside her like a blazing fire. At that time Sasuke had been declared as an international criminal. She had tried to hate him so desperately for all the pain he put them through but she couldn´t. When she tried to curse his name and get rid of all affection she holded for him, she remembered the small, isolated kid with sad eyes, he used to be back at the academy and all what she could do was to blame herself for not seeing how hurt Sasuke had been all the years.

When she learned the truth about Itachi Uchiha from Naruto, she even hated Konoha for a brief moment. And she hated herself over and over again, because she could finally understand Sasuke´s actions somewhat.

She couldn´t even imagine a life without these feelings. Her love for him were a part of her for too long. She only wanted him to be a part of her life. She knew she could give him happiness, like she told him all those years ago in a moonlight night.

When she couldn´t bear the distance any longer, she headed back towards his apartment. Like expected he wasn´t home but Sakura didn´t mind, she just crouched down on his frontdoor, determined to wait of his return. Maybe it was about time to finally to tell him how she really felt.

It was terrible late when she finally recognized steps from the hall. She was almost half asleep when he approached her, but when she saw his dark dressed tall figure, she felt suddenly awake.

"Sakura?" He asked her with raised eybrows. "What are you doing here in the middle of the night?"

"I... I need to talk to you." She said, when she stood up in order to face him.

"Now? I´m tired. We can talk another time."

"No! I mean it´s urgent."

The raven haired man sighed, before nodding and gesturing to her to follow him into his apartment. Sakura took a deep breath when she entered after him. He lead her to the kitchen, the same room where they spend so much time with eachother recently.

"It´s not easy for me to talk to you so openly but I realized that I need to do it for a long time now."

"Sakura.."

"Please just say nothing. Just listen to me until the end." She pleaded, closing her eyes and taking another deep breath before she could find her voice again.

"When I was informed that you would return home, I was overjoyed. I thought it meant you finally found your peace with the past and I never even imagined that Sensei Kakashi could´ve ordered you back and you weren´t here on your own free will. But I thought that it doesn´t matter because you´re here and that meant you can start a new life anyway."

Sasuke looked down, not looking directly at her. Sakura knew very well that he didn´t liked the direction where her speech went. But they both needed to finish with the past and make a new start, even if she didn´t knew if he wanted her as a part of his life.

"Being close to you all those weeks let me learn so much more about you. I saw different sides, which I haven´t known until now. But I saw how you still struggles with the past and how you try to isolate yourself like you´re doing now. I see how you still suffer!"

"Sakura this is getting ridiculous. I´ll not discuss with you my inner life." He replied, his tone annoyed but only proof that she was hitting a wound point with her words.

"It´s not only you I want to talk about. I want to talk about me too! I want you to know how I feel, how I felt all those years. Because I never had the chance of doing so!" She continued to say, emotions finally so build up that she didn´t even wanted them to push down longer. It was finally time to be open to the man, who was responsible for all her ups and downs those past years.

"I´m like you. I can´t let go of the past now matter what I do. The village has hurt you badly and still you´re here now, trying to be loyal to Konoha again. I understand it so well, because you hurt me too all those years and still I was so happy when you came back."

"Why are you telling me this?"

"Because I want you to know that everything I am now is because of you. When you left, I finally began to train and study. I wanted to became strong enough to save you, to bring you back in my life, because it was empty after you left. Without you leaving I would probably never become the kunoichi I´m now. I would´ve never asked Lady Tsunade to train me. But it was Naruto who saved you, despite how much I worked to do my part in it. Despite how much I loved you."

"Sakura, stop it! I don´t know why you come up with all this but I think you should leave now!"

She shook her head firmly. She wasn´t going to shrink back now. She wasn´t the young girl, who would sink into depression, as soon her beloved Sasuke-kun would snap at her.

"No, not before I said what I need to say. When you returned we became closer and spend time with eachother. I was so happy and now I´m hurt because you push me away, like you used to do when we´re genin. And all my feelings are dependent on how you´re treating me. You can´t overcome your past, you still feel guilty and don´t allow yourself a bit happiness. And I let my feelings for you control my whole life. And that need to stop. We both need to stop!"

"I´m sorry for hurting you. It´s not my intention..."

"Don´t say sorry when you´re the one who can make me happy at the same time!"

Sasuke looked at her, dark eyes completely confused. "What do you want me to say then?"

"You´ve to let the past go. We both have. Do you remember what I told you all those years ago? That I can give you happiness and that I love you? I still do. And being locked out of your life hurts me. I want to be with you, want to understand you and want to move on together with you. You deserve happiness as much as I deserve finally clarity. I can´t bear to continue like this and I see that you can´t it either."

He lowered his eyes again but Sakura saw the flicker of pain in them. "It´s just like Kakashi said; loving me is torturing you and I don´t wan´t to hurt you more. Do both of us a favour and forget about me. I can never be someone who could make you happy. I´ll just continue to hurt you. It was a mistake that I returned."

"You´re presence makes me happy. I´ve waited of you so long and in the end I´ll get always the same answer." She tried desperately to fight the tears but they were already starting to well up in her eyes.

"But you deserve better than this. You can have someone who will make you happy and someday you realize that loving me was a mistake."

"A mistake... This is it. I wanted an answer so badly but and even after all the time I hoped to be the one who could heal your heart, show you the happiness you deserve but I´m still just a nuisance. It´s so pathetic."

"No you´re not!" Sasuke said quickly, stepping forward. "You´re the most honest and loyal person I ever met and I´m grateful to you for everything."

"But why then?"

"Because I don´t even know how love or happiness felt anymore and I´m not sure if I´m capable of ever feeling it again. Using you and your feelings only to figure out if I´m capable of living a normal life, would be unfair from me to ask. You deserve better Sakura."

Sakura covered her mouth with her hand in order to push down the sobs which wanted to escape her throat. Tears were already present on her cheeks but she didn´t care. Sasuke didn´t rejected her feeling because of her but because of himself and maybe this hurt her more as if she would be the reason. If it was because of her, than she could at least try to change herself somehow. But knowing that he rejected her offer out of concern for her, let her know that he was truly caring for her. But really it was a weak comfort.

"So this is it?" She managed to ask after a moment.

"I´m sorry but I can´t give you an other answer." He avoided to look at her and she knew it pained him to see her this upset.

"It´s alright..." She finally managed to say. "I understand you. But if you´ll ever be ready to move on, don´t forget I´m still there."

Because like it was for him unable to move on yet, it was unable for her without him. Although she had sworn to herself to get over her feelings if he would reject her one more time, she knew in that moment that it wouldn´t happen. Maybe this was the way how they were connected with eachother, through Sakura´s feelings.

When she turned around and left the apartment she felt devasted but relieved at the same time.

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Sasuke couldn´t forget her tears.

Not when he tried to cope with being in Konoha.

Not when he tried to tell himself it was better that they went on distance to eachother.

Not when he more and more missed her presence during the lonely evenings in his apartment.

Not when he could finally leave, because Kakashi send him on a long term mission. Maybe the Hokage realized that forcing him to stay in the village wasn´t helping anyone.

He told himself that it wasn´t bother him that Sakura didn´t came to say goodbye to him. Only Naruto and Hinata were present. It was probably better this way. But the image of her tears told him otherwise.

It was a nice feeling to leave Konoha behind once again. It gave him the feeling of freedom, which he missed so terrible while he stayed there. Sasuke came to the conclusion that he no longer had a home. He would serve Konoha as a shinobi for the sake of Naruto, Sakura and Kakashi because they proved him over and over how important he was for them, but Konoha itself wasn´t his home anymore. Too many things happened.

But what unsettled him a bit where those strange feelings in his chest, which hadn´t been there before. Maybe it was the guilt what still tormented him. It made him feel devasted that he managed to hurt one of his friends once again. It was probably better he left. Hopefully Sakura could finally live her life properly without him around.

His mission was to travel incognito through the land of waves and find informations about a group of rogue ninja who was raid villages and small towns. If he had enough needed informations, he was supposed to inform the Mizukage about the identitys of those criminals, so that Kirigakure could deal with them. The land of waves was closer to Kiri as to Konoha anyway.

It was an long and sometimes tiring journey. He put all his energy in the mission, trying to distract himself from all the thoughts again. Sasuke felt hunted again but this time it was neither the massacre nor his crimes what bothered him, it were still Sakura´s tears and it drove him slowly crazy.

During the night he wasn´t dreaming about blood and dead bodies anymore. He wasn´t dreaming about his brother or Danzo, Naruto, Madara or whatever anymore. He dreamed about soft pink locks, shining jade-green eyes and a bright wide smile. A soft voice was calling his name with such kindness that he felt strangely sheltered.

He couldn´t understand what was happening with him but slowly it became too much. He thought already enough of Sakura during the day, no need for him to see her even in his dreams. So he avoided sleep whenever possible and continued his journey, in the hope not to think about his pink haired teammate any longer.

The irony hit him with full force, when he arrived at a village so peaceful and beautiful that he couldn´t help but wanted to leave soon. Determined to continue his was after dinner, he calmed himself down.

Ironically he sat on a table outdoors on the porch of the tavern, surrounded by blooming cherry trees. Of course the soft colour of the blosoms reminded him on her. The tone of the leaves matching her perfect green eyes. But strangely enough he found it quiete peaceful to sit here and let his thoughts wander.

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Almost two months passed and Sasuke found a considerably amount of informations. He could probably deal with these criminals on his own, but Kakashi had ordered him to leave the rest to Kirigakure and so he just send a letter to the Mizukage as soon as possible. His mission was officially completed now.

Some days later he received a message from Kakashi. He informed him that it was his choice if he was willing to return or continue to travel. He was loathe to admit it but he felt slightly disappointed that the Hokage let him of the hook this easily. Inwardly he had wished to receive the order to return to Konoha once more, in order to sort out what he was feeling all of the sudden. Another part of him told him that it was better if he stayed away and so he decided against a return.

He often caught himself wondering what Sakura was doing right now. He had given up to be surprised that he was so often thinking of her. It became his daily routine to think or wonder about his former female teammate.

More weeks passed and for the first time of his life, he was free from nightmares. Instead Sakura visited him in his dreams day after day. Maybe for the first time of his life, he felt that the past was leaving him alone, it was an incredible feeling as if the burden, he carried almost his whole life, was slowly giving him free.

"If you´re ready to move on, I´m here." Sakura had told him and Sasuke began to wonder if he was moving on in a slow pace.

The more time passed, the more he began to think about the future. He wasn´t thinking of the past often anymore, instead wondering what he ought do with his life. Having a place where he could feel happiness again...

Was it really possible for him?

He thought on the evenings he spent together with Sakura and he missed her carefree presence. Maybe he would never admit it loud but he really enjoyed those moments and he began to ask himself if he shouldn´t return to Konoha yet again.

The Uchiha pushed these thoughts down but some night he dreamed about his family again. But not the images of the massacre or Itachi´s death but he was a child again and walking with his parents and Itachi on a green meadow. They were happy and Sasuke wanted to keep hold of this moment forever.

Sometime they reached a river and his family entered a boat. Only Sasuke was left out and when the floated away, he cried after them, begging them to return. After the outline of them disappeared into the distance, he woke up. He was bathed in sweat and tears streamed down his cheeks.

The dream haunted him for days. he couldn´t forget the image of his family and how they abandoned him again. He kept thinking and thinking but he came to no solution what the dream was supposed to meant.

It was the last time he ever dreamed about his family. Even after months he didn´t had even nightmares and at strange at it sounded it was as if even the memories of the massacre slowly began to fade away.

Maybe the dream had been the final sign to let the past go and say goodbye. His clan was gone, also he couldn´t change the mistakes he made in the past and to his own surprise he accepted it. He wondered if this was what Sakura talked about, if he was finally able to move on.

Unlike the past, Sakura didn´t leave him alone. She was present in his thoughts during the day and in his dreams during the night. Before he had left, he hurt her once again. The guilt was still there but there was something else too. The feeling to miss her in his life. Made the weeks they spend together, really such a difference?

Sasuke didn´t knew if it was right or wrong, when one day, he packed his stuff together and headed straight back to Konoha. Maybe it was his turn now to get an answer.

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Sakura had spend the past months with a lot of work in the hospital or went on a mission now and then. It helped her greatly to distract herself from all the pain and disappointment she still carried inside.

A lot things happened. Ino and Sai got married and Hinata´s belly was growing with each passing month. Naruto went crazy fromanticipation and even Shikamaru and Temari found finally the courage to announce their wedding date.

In some months Sakura would turn twenty-two and it seemed her life wouldn´t change into the near future. It was painful but she began to accept the fact that Sasuke needed time and she was ready to wait for him, even if she doubted that he would ever return her feelings. But hope was the only thing which let her move on.

Her thoughts were with the Uchiha. Always. Almost every second. She wanted to know if he was save, healthy and happy.

She wanted to know if he came finally on terms with himself.

Sometimes she was afraid that someday, he could meet a woman on his travels, whom he could fall in love with. Maybe he would settle down someday, base a family and never return to the hidden leaf.

But then she told herself, even if this would happen someday, she should feel happy for him. After all, Sakura loved him with all her heart and all she longed for was his happiness.

So many months passed since Sasuke left again, that she couldn´t believe anymore that he would return so soon. The bigger was the surprise when he stood one evening on her frontdoor. She almost thought she hallucinated.

"Good evening Sakura." He said calm, almost softly.

"Sasuke-kun. Since when are you back?"

"I just arrived. I came straight to your place because there is something I want to talk to you."

"Okay." She tried not to let her hopes raise too high when he entered her house. Luckily, at least her parents weren´t home yet.

"I want you to know how sorry I´m still for hurting you so much."

"I already told you it´s alright. And you can´t force feelings. Just because I love you, doesn´t mean you must feel the same for me."

"You were right back than." Sasuke said looking at her with his intensive dark eyes. "That I needed to let go of the past, that it´s time to move forward. I think I´m finally ready to start a new life."

"Oh Sasuke-kun, I´m so happy to hear that." She smiled at him, her eyes full with gladness.

"During the past months, I realized..." He stopped for a moment, searching for the right words. "I mean... I thought at you day and night and I think... I finally realized how important you truly are for me..."

"What is that supposed to mean?" Sakura asked, trying desperately to control her heartbeat.

"Sakura... You were always there for me. Not only now but back then, when we were children too. I could always count on you but I was too blind to see it... But I see it now... I don´t know if I can make you happy or if I know what true love really is, but if you still want I... I would like to try..."

"Try what?"

"I want to be together with you..." He muttered but added quickly; " But of course only if you want..."

After hearing these words, she doesn´t need to say anything more. If this was a dream she wanted to never wake up again. But when she moved forward and placing a tight kiss on his lips, she knew it was true.

Sasuke was shocked when she kissed him suddenly. He stepped back automatically.

"You haven´t answered me."

"Don´t ruin the moment. This should be answer enough." With that said she placed her lips on his once again and this time he returned the kiss.

Nothing ever felt so right before.

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All the years he had looked for a meaning in his life. When he was young it had been revenge. A goal what helped him to bear with all the pain and hurt.

After he learned the truth about Itachi, revenge had been once again his life goal. He had wanted it so badly, that he destroyed himself until he didn´t even knew himself anymore.

When Naruto saved him, it had been his goal to atone for his sins but it hadn´t gave him peace in the long way.

Then he had looked for a place he could call home again. Konoha hadn´t been that place.

He had searched so much for peace.

When he looked down now, towards the little bundle he holded tightly in his arms, he knew he finally found it.

His newborn daughter was still all red and swolled but it was obvious that she was a lookalike to him. It made him proud but far more important, he could finally tell what love really was.

The love he felt for that little person, was overwhelming and from the first moment he holded her, he knew he would give anything to protect her.

The Uchiha looked at Sakura´s sleeping form. His wife was still exhausted from giving birth to their child. He smiled proudly at her, remembering that she was the one who gave him everything he had now.

Sasuke finally understood that being home, didn´t need to be a village or town. It doesn´t need to be a house or a apartment. It was the place where someone belonged. Watching his tiny daughter and sleeping wife, he knew where he belonged.

"It´s good to be home Sarada-chan." He whispered and placed a soft kiss on the baby´s forehead.

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English is not my language so I´m aware that there will some mistakes. Please don´t mind and review nevertheless! :)