Shogi Anyone?

BY : Shortcake
Category: Naruto > Het - Male/Female
Dragon prints: 11192
Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto or anything Naruto related. I make no profit from this story.

Author’s note:

Takes place shortly after the end of the fourth shinobi war. Pairings Sakura/Gaara, Shikamaru/Temari, Shizune/Genma, Kankuro/assorted. Reviews appreciated.

For those of you who only want to read the smutty parts, chapters 3, 10, 13, 15,16, 21, 24, 26, and 29, 31 and 32 are for you.

A weary Sakura trudged down the corridor of Konoha’s bustling hospital. It was only four in the afternoon, yet she wouldn’t last another ten minutes without a food pill and a cup of coffee. Two months after the war ended the sea of veterans, civilian casualties and regular patients still strained the nation’s healthcare system to the breaking point. Three solid weeks of double shifts, poor sleep, and too many ramen dinners left the pink-haired medic in no mood for trivialities.

She grimaced at the sight of the bouncing blond springing towards her. “Sakura, there you are! I’ve been looking all over for you.” Naruto beamed exuberantly.

Sakura forced a cheerful façade, “Hey, Naruto, what’s up?” Much as she loved her brother from another mother, he was the last thing she needed today.

The dark circles and pale skin weren’t lost on him. “Man, Sakura, you look like shit. When was your last day off?”

Green eyes narrowed as her short fuse shrank, “None of your damn business…” She cracked her knuckles in warning.

Naruto stepped back. She wouldn’t deck him here, would she? “Alright already!” He held his hands up in mock surrender. The hero of Konoha was cowed by the small, ferocious kunoichi. “I only came looking for you because granny Tsunade needs you in her office. There’s a mission.”

“FUCK!” She felt a hundred eyes on her as her temper flared, forcing a deep breath from her lungs as she composed herself. Her voice lowered, “Seriously?!? A mission, now? The hospital is understaffed as it is.”

Naruto shrugged, “I’m just the errand boy today. I think you should get ramen with me after you meet with granny. When was the last time you sat and ate a real meal?” He reached up and brushed a stray lock of hair out of Sakura’s face and left his hand resting on her shoulder thoughtfully.

Only Naruto would think of ramen as a real meal. She smiled slightly at the thought. “Alright. Ramen does sound good.” She glanced at her watch. “See you about 6:00 then?” Naruto nodded, flashing her his enormous smile as she took off.

The Godaime Hokage drummed her fingers lightly on the solid wood desk, her current cup of sake half empty as she read through the mission scroll once more before affixing her seal. Shikamaru leaned against the opposite wall, his eyes staring at the village below. The shadow ninja looked perpetually lazy as an intricate web of thoughts laced through his mind unseen.

Sakura stood patiently on the opposite side of the desk knowing she’d sleep if she sat down. “You summoned me shishou. How may I be of service?”

Tsunade’s ample bosom heaved with a sigh, “Sakura, it’s good to see you outside the hospital walls for change.” She smiled at her apprentice wistfully. The drained young medic was like a daughter to her; she’d seen her bury herself in work the moment Sasuke left the village. Perhaps this mission would refresh her spirit. Not that it mattered. There was no one else capable.

“Thank you, Shishou. Shikamaru.” She nodded to the dark shinobi. He merely glanced her way for a moment in response, his eyes seemingly fixated on an especially interesting cloud in the distance.

The hokage resumed, “As I’m sure you are aware, all the elemental nations took heavy losses in the war. We are all rebuilding and healing. However, Sand sustained major losses to their medical corps. At this point their entire healthcare system is on the brink of collapse. Shizune has been in Suna two weeks trying to sort things out. After reviewing her latest report and consulting with Shikamaru, I’ve decided to send you to replace her.”

Sakura was stunned. “Forgive me, Shishou, but Shizune is a better medic with more experience than me. Why replace her with me?”

Tsunade smiled, “Two things. First, you underestimate your skills. You may have less experience, but your medical jutsu is excellent. Second, this situation calls for someone who won’t hesitate to exercise authority. Much as I love Shizune, she won’t make them tow the line the way I know you will. There will be hard choices. I know you will make them and do what it takes to get the job done. You have six months in Suna to get it done.”

Her words knocked the wind out of Sakura’s lungs. “Six months in Suna?!?” The shock of such a long mission rang out of her mouth.

Tsunade’s calm voice belied her own heartbreak over such a long time apart from her favorite kunoichi. “I know that’s a long mission, but it’s the minimum time it will take to get them squared away. You are nearly starting from scratch, and Suna has a long line of wounded veterans just like we do.”

Sakura nodded firmly. The daunting task ahead settling into her agile brain. “When do I leave?”

Shikamaru emerged from the scenery, finally speaking, his voice smooth and unemotional, “At first light in the morning. Your escort will meet you at the gate.” He handed her the mission scroll with some gravity. “Good luck, Sakura. And safe travels.”

Sakura was on her second bowl of ramen as she explained her mission to Naruto. “Still, six months in Suna… I’ll be there until April.”

Naruto sighed, “I’m sure gonna miss you Sakura. First Sasuke left and now you… Who will help me dodge my fan club?” His bright smile covered his wishful thoughts.

Sasuke. The mere mention of the last Uchiha rubbed salt in the wound of her aching heart. She knew it was a painful subject for both of them. They knew why he left. His bullshit excuse about penance didn’t fool his teammates. They saw the stares. The bizarre mix of gratitude, admiration, fear and hate drove him away.

Sakura buried all thoughts of Sasuke behind a cheerful smile, “I’m sure it will go by fast Naruto. Maybe you can come visit sometime this winter? You know, get a break from the leaf’s snow and spend some time in the warm Sand country?”

Naruto flashed his characteristic grin, “You know it! … Say hello to Gaara for me, you know?”

“Sure thing Naruto.” Sakura chuckled at the tall blonde’s exuberance. It was still contagious even after all these years.

“Oh, and one more thing, Sakura.” She raised an eyebrow quizzically as the young man continued, “Try to control your temper around Gaara. I mean… he is the Kazekage and all and … well, just don’t punch him like you do me and Sai, okay?”

Sakura sighed, “Yes, Naruto. I promise to be respectful of the Kazekage and his staff. You, on the other hand, are still a knucklehead… And if I hear about you getting into any mischief while I’m gone…” She cracked her knuckles for effect.

Both shinobi burst out laughing.

The jarring ring of her alarm clock forced Sakura from bed too soon. She’d chatted with Naruto much too late. She couldn’t help herself. The prospect of six months away had her clinging to every moment. Naturally with three weeks of double shifts, she had a mountain of laundry, household chores and packing before she could even think of sleep. Ino would come by in a day or so to empty her fridge, take her plants, and cover the furniture. Thank Kami Ino was such a good friend.

The pink haired kunoichi scarfed down a piece of toast and a cup of black coffee, grabbed her pack, adjusted her headband, and ran out the door just as the first of the morning sun’s rays broke the horizon. She rounded the corner to the village gates and came to a dead stop. Surely HE was not her escort. There, standing packed and ready to travel was a grinning Shiranui Genma.

Genma took a good long look at Sakura. Well, more of a lingering leer, if he was honest. Damn, she was hot. Luxurious pink hair, sexy green eyes, and legs that went on for days. Genma could think of several things he’d like to do with those sensuous legs and the sweet little snatch between them. He grinned lasciviously, “Hey, babe. Only three days travel and two nights of just me and you alone under the stars.” He licked his lips as his eyes feasted on her curves. “Shall we head out or did you want to give me head first?”


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