Some days are better than others. Some days she wakes, goes through her daily routine of getting ready and going through her shift at the hospital, and she's so busy that there's never any time to think-really think about things-so by the time she hits the mattress, she's out like a light. Completely, blissfully asleep. No time whatsoever to think about forehead pokes or apologies or see-you-laters. No time to dwell on if tomorrow will be the day or if it'll be next week or next month or just how long will it be anyway?
It's those days when she's restlessly sitting around in her apartment, and Naruto has decided to give her time to herself-mostly because these days he's so busy with the extra lessons from Kakashi-sensei and spending what little free time he does have with Hinata-that she has the time to mull over all the what-ifs and questions swirling around her brain. And she tries to distract herself, but there's only so many times she can read through the twelve volume medical texts she has lying around, only so many times she go over her notes and charts from ongoing cases and projects at work, and only so many times she can rearrange the furniture before she comes to the conclusion that maybe, just maybe she's going insane.
It would help if he would just write to her. Of course, she sends him letter after letter, never really asking anything, just relating her own day-to-day and mentioning here and there nonessential details about how much she looks forward to seeing him again. Each time she gets ready to send them, she hesitates because she knows there won't be a response, but ultimately she can't help herself and before she knows it, she's staring at a messenger hawk flying off in the distance. It's a while before she turns to leave. This is something she does only when she can't stand it anymore. And only something she does when she can't think of anything else to do.
Some days she finds herself happy. Which in itself she finds odd. Mostly it's her work. It's helping people feel better and making headway on developing new remedies for illnesses and poisons. She's leaps and bounds ahead of any other medical-nin, except Tsunade-Shishou, and lately, she's noticed that people are looking at her differently. There's sort of this wide-eyed, disbelieving look they get and then the whispers will start. At first, she felt offended and ready to hit anyone, but Ino had laughed at her and said, "They just can't believe it's real you, the Sakura Haruno, medical-nin extraordinaire, apprentice to Princess Tsunade herself, and hero of the Fourth Shinobi War! You're practically legendary!"
At this, she rolled her eyes and muttered, "What ridiculous nonsense..." But inside she can't help but feel pleased with herself.
Though if she were this famous, it's nowhere near how infamous Naruto is now. People from all over flock to Konoha just to get a glimpse of her teammate. Girls line up at Ichiraku in hopes that Naruto will look their way, and if he happens to glance in any such direction, there are boisterous giggles heard and sing-songy calls of "Hello, Naruto-kuuuuun!". When this happens, she's always caught between amusement at the fact Naruto is oblivious to it all and irritation at how most of the girls throw her dirty looks for daring to be so close to the object of their affection. It's almost enough to have her wanting to punch the ground and destroy the place, but she would never do that to Teuchi-san. Or Naruto, who might actually kill her for destroying his favorite place in the world. So she bites her tongue, plasters a smile on her face, and makes cheerful conversation with her teammates until any and all irritation is gone and she's back to the original contentment she feels on days like this.
Sai is telling them about something he read in a book about social behaviors and Naruto is inputting his own advice and she is just soaking up the warmth from the ramen and the night and the light atmosphere until her heart is so full she could burst. She fills herself up so full of this feeling so that maybe this time it will last her longer so that she can just hang on until he returns and there's no more need to pretend. Until she can finally breathe once more.
Later when she's walking home through the familiar streets of the Village, pondering just how much longer she can take, that's when she feels it. And immediately her feet are moving on their own and her heart is pounding her chest, threatening to burst. She's locked onto that familiar chakra and is just racing towards it. Before she knows it, she finds herself at the entrance to the village and there he is. She's frozen just an arm's length away from him.
Emerald eyes meet onyx and for a moment nothing is said. In the silence though are a thousand conversations that have her reeling with joy.
After a beat, he finally says, "I'm home, Sakura."
She blinks. A smile forms on her face that hurts her cheeks. "Welcome home, Sasuke."