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Chapter Text

The village hasn’t changed at all in two years, Naruto thinks - even the gate guards are the same. He waves at Kotestu and Izumo as he passes, letting Ero-sennin sort out their (boring) paperwork. He has people to see! At least, he hopes he does, because the reply to his last message was just ‘yay!’ signed with a little flower. He doesn’t think Sakura would have forgotten, or not told Sasuke and Kakashi-sensei, so he turns himself towards their training ground and walks, taking in the atmosphere, breathing in the deep, green smell that is Konoha. He’s missed it.

The training ground is empty when he gets there, but only for a moment - Sasuke appears in a swirl of leaves with Sakura slung over his shoulders like a sack of flour.

“Uh,” says Naruto, and Sasuke huffs.
“Here,” he says, and dumps Sakura into Naruto’s waiting arms without pause.
“I’m home,” he manages faintly, and Sakura breaks off from glaring at Sasuke to smile up at him.
“Welcome home, Naruto! Put me down, please.”
“Don’t,” Sasuke says, narrowing his eyes at her. “Welcome home, idiot.”
“I’m fine!” Sakura protests, but she doesn’t struggle to get out of his arms, so he just keeps hold of her. “It was just a little break!”
“If you walk on that in the next six hours, I will know, and I will force your hive out and make you heal the civilian way.”
“Naruto!” Sakura appeals, looking up at him with wide green eyes, “Sasuke-kun grew up so mean!”
“What’s the first thing Iruka-sensei ever taught us about injuries?” Sasuke returns, and Naruto blinks, thinking back.
“Don’t… argue… with the medic?”
Don’t argue with the medic,” he confirms, and Sakura heaves a huge sigh and folds her arms.
“Fine,” she mutters mutinously. “Anyway! Looks like you get to carry me to Ichiraku’s, Naruto! Welcome home lunch! Everyone’s going to be there!”
“Sensei’s on a mission,” Sasuke adds, turning away from them and towards the village, “but shishou was planning on leaving the office to Shizune-san for a couple of hours. You can tell us properly about your run-ins with Akatsuki.”
“Man, it’s such a shame Hoshigaki-sempai is with them,” Sakura laments, as Naruto swings her around onto his back, “he’s pretty okay, otherwise.”
“Please,” Sasuke says, deadpan, “never call the giant blue shark-man sempai in my hearing range ever again.”