My feelings for you [Nejiko]
As the familiar sun-yellowed walls began becoming visible inbetween distant tree trunks, his heart began to pound with relief, anticipation, and a little fear, but mostly hope. Dirt-stained feet trod faster in battered sandals, the pain of the thong digging into the skin between his toes no longer felt for the callus there. The rucksack he carried grew both lighter and heavier, and his mouth ran dry. The sun-faded, much-mended clothes that screamed 'wanderer' began to bother him, but not as much as the rough hack job he had done on his hair to keep it somewhat manageable.
He was almost home.
He saw the spiffy-looking sentries at their posts on both sides of the wide-open gates, checking the papers of those who wished to enter the village. Since he didn't recognize either he fixed his gaze to the large red hiragana painted on the wood, hungrily tracing with his eyes the "a" left and the "n" on the right, and felt his legs start to shake. Everything was so clear, so--so real it left him fearful and giddy. He had been gone so long, and so much had probably changed.
And that's what scared him. He didn't know how much had changed. He only hoped, wished, prayed that the most important thing hadn't changed. That she hadn't changed, hadn't forgotten...
Nervously he passed a hand through his hair as he approached the leaf-branded shinobi. "Uhm. Hi," he began when they looked at him. Obviously, he didn't impress them much, if the cool disdain they cast his way was any indication. "I know I've been gone a long time, but I'm back."
The woman stared at him. "Name and identification?" she demanded, holding her hand out for the travel papers or ID card necessary to enter the village.
He rattled off his name and registration ID from memory, then added with a sheepish smile, "I kinda lost my ID card though."
She eyed him suspiciously. "Really. But we're just supposed to trust that you are who you say you are?"
...he hadn't been gone that long, had he? No, no, wait, he had. That and she probably hadn't reached chuunin until after he'd left. She looked new enough for that. He forced his smile to remain on his face. "You could always get someone to vouch for me."
"And who would you recommend for that?" she asked tartly.
He opened his mouth and was about to answer but then something caused him to look past the woman, into the usual expected amount of pedestrians that filled the main drag. His brow furrowed and he wondered if he had only hallucinated, but the crowd thinned enough to know he hadn't.
He knew those eyes. Knew that face. Knew them better than almost anything. Both had haunted him for so long, and by the look of them as the owner approached at a quick clip, he knew he was in serious trouble.
His heart suddenly leaped into his throat as his mind began chittering, struggling to come up with something to say in the face of the cold fury directed at him even as he felt a certain warmth spread from his center into his limbs.
She looked horribly pissed, which meant he was in for a world of hurt, but she recognized him. Even from afar, with how different he knew he must look, she recognized him. And he was just so, so glad to see her and to know she was all right that all he could do was grin the same big, goofy grin as the night they had had their first date.
The air whooshed out of his lungs as she buried her fist into his stomach, sending him sprawling on the dusty ground. He lifted his head and felt oddly comforted by how she advanced on him. That same flowing grace, the thick dark hair that framed her pale face and white eyes, the shapely leg that, from the angle, was lifting to deliver an axe kick to his head...
...he should probably do something to avoid that.
Instinct, training, and simply knowing her had him rolling fast away from her, thumb grazing a tooth he'd broken on his journey followed by his hand being slammed onto the ground then snatching the freshly-summoned bo from the earth before ending the whole movement on a crouch with the wooden pole in both hands. She wasn't armed, so it really wouldn't have been fair to pull a bladed weapon.
Seeing how the tessen he knew to have very sharp edges as he'd made it himself for her suddenly appeared in her hand prompted some rethinking of that strategy, but he was too busy defending from her fast and vicious onslaught to give it too much thought.
All too soon he was holding two stubby wood cylinders that in desperation he chucked at her, one than the other. The first she knocked aside with a swipe of her open war fan. The other clocked her right in the face. Oh shit oh shit oh shit-- his mind repeated as she put a hand to the already bruising skin. He'd hit her. He'd hit her. He'd hit her?
Worry trumped confusion as he reached out his now-empty hand. "Nej, I'm--OW!" he yelped as she smacked his hand aside before clouting him sharply on the head with the closed tessen. Stars danced. What pretty colors~
"You--you idiot!" she cried, forcing him to try and focus his dazzled eyes on her. "You insipid asinine moron!! You--you--" Her face was flush now as she spluttered, unable to form anymore coherent words as tears slid down her face.
Feeling his own fall, he simply opened his arms. She rushed into them, hugging him so tightly he could almost hear his bones creaking under the pressure, but it didn't matter. He buried his face in her hair and just held her, struggling not to cry himself.
"Honey, I'm home," he laughed softly. "-ga'ouch!"
"Damn right you are," she retorted and held him tighter, her foot still pressing down on his where she'd stomped it. "Tentsuke, I--"
Nejiko broke off suddenly, looking around wildly until her eyes adjusted. She wasn't on Konoha's main road, welcoming her boyfriend home after he'd been gone too long. She was sitting up on her futon, in the middle of the night, with no sound but her own too-fast breathing. She gulped back a sob and grabbed her pillow to bury her her face in it as she realized it had been only been a dream.
Once she had regained control of herself, she shifted the pillow in her arms until she clutched it tight against her chest, pretending she was still in the dream and that the pillow was in fact him. But the more she struggled to cling to the dream, the faster it faded into the cold reality of a dark December night. Fresh hot tears fell that she didn't bother to wipe away. Instead she simply lay back down on her side and curled her body around the pillow.