Chapter Forty-one_
"Normalcy" :

"I think we should go with a grayish blue," said Sakura as she looked at the paint samples she taped up on the kitchen wall.
"I don't know why you're still trying to make up your mind," said Sasuke, glaring over the rim of his coffee mug.
"Oh!" said Sakura. "Have you made a decision?"
"Yeah," said Sasuke, "we're not painting."
Sakura just rolled her eyes before turning back to the wall. "A pale yellow wouldn't look bad either, you know. Well, no, scratch that, yellow would clash with the countertops."
Sakura started plucking off all the yellow swatches on the wall as Sasuke groaned.
"You do realize that's the fifth time you've taken those down, right?"
Sakura let out an exasperated sigh before plopping down in the chair across from Sasuke. "You're no help at all! Actually, if anything, you're making this harder."
"I wonder why," said Sasuke through gritted teeth. "Oh, that's right, because I don't want you to paint my kitchen."
Sakura glared at that.
"Your kitchen?" She let out a barking laugh. "That's funny. I don't seem to recall you cooking a single thing since I've been here. Besides, we're painting my kitchen."
"Whatever," said Sasuke, while thinking bitterly: your kitchen for three more months, "we're not painting."
"So grayish blue it is!" said Sakura with a smile. "Can you pick that up after work? I'm going to come back and get everything ready so we can start tomorrow morning."
Sasuke glared as Sakura set her empty coffee mug in the sink. He hated when she just blatantly ignored him, especially because at that point there really was nothing he could do. He found that rather irritating—the fact that she had him wrapped around her little finger.
Sighing, he closed the door behind him and grudgingly walked down the porch steps where Sakura was waiting for him with a wide grin.
That was another thing, he couldn't even remain angry with her when she had that damn look. It just wasn't fair!
"Aww, don't frown so much Sasuke-kun," said Sakura as she took his hand and threaded their fingers together. "I promise you'll love everything once it's finished!"
She pressed a quick kiss to his cheek as they began to walk along their usual route to work. Sasuke merely grunted, his brows furrowing in confusion. He didn't know what had happened, but recently Sakura had been a lot more… affectionate perhaps? He wasn't sure if that was the right way to phrase it, but it seemed she never was without that smile and she took every chance she could to kiss him regardless of how chaste.
Sasuke didn't dare question it for fear that she would revert back to her worried and guarded self. They had reached some unspoken agreement that any sort of physical relationship would only make her leaving messier, more painful, but Sasuke decided after getting a taste of it he would take all the pain that came to be able to have these moments with Sakura.
He gave her hand a light squeeze as they came up to the training center.
"Don't work too late, okay?" mumbled Sakura as he leaned his head down to hers—her eyes on his lips the entire time.
"Hn."
He closed the distance then, pressing his lips to hers quickly enough. Once. Twice. He couldn't help but smirk the third time as her hand curled lightly around his neck, fingers toying with his hair, to keep his lips attached to hers.
"Shut up," she murmured against his amused smirk.
He only used the opportunity to deepen the kiss, which Sakura didn't seem to mind at all.
"See you tonight," he whispered before turning to go too.
"Don't forget to pick up some brushes, too!"
Sasuke's eye twitched. He hoped she'd forgotten. Reluctantly, he lifted his hand in a half-hearted affirmation.
Maybe he should've just pretended to not have heard her?
Sasuke glared at the state of his kitchen as he came home that night. The table and chairs were in the living room and there was blue tape outlining the counters and trim. The floor had a drop cloth down and it just pissed him off. He didn't want to paint, damn it!
Angrily, he sat the paint and brushes on the island that was also covered by a drop cloth and did his best to simply ignore the fact that Sakura had once again gotten her way and he would have to paint tomorrow.
Fun, hmph!
Having showered and gotten ready for bed, Sasuke paused in the hallway when he noticed Sakura's door was open. Quietly, he looked inside to see her passed out on her bed, a stack of papers at her feet and a pen still loosely in her grip.
He rolled his eyes. She always said he was the one who worked too much and look at her, passed out half way through grading some tests.
With a silence only a shinobi could possess, he moved the stack of papers and pen and ever so carefully lifted Sakura to get the covers out from under her. He may have a shinobi's grace, but Sakura had a shinobi's awareness.
She stirred, a yawn forcing its way out, just as Sasuke had gotten the cover to her shoulders. She blinked up at him and smiled. Sasuke could only return the gesture as he lowered his head to leave a quick kiss on her forehead. He still found it odd how much easier it had gotten to be open with her, but he wasn't about to question it.
His smile quickly turned into a confused frown when she grabbed his hand and scooted over a bit. He stood for a moment, but when she made no further move to vocalize her question (he could just assume her face was beat red in the darkness) he took the hint and slid in next to her.
She seemed to fit so perfectly against him.
"Goodnight, Sasuke-kun," she whispered as she kissed his shoulder lightly.
"Goodnight," murmured Sasuke as he felt himself slipping into sleep. It had been a long day, but he was no longer angry about the fact that he would be painting tomorrow because he knew that after tonight sleeping with Sakura in his arms would become a normal occurrence.

.


Chapter Forty-two_
"Breaking Me Down" :

Sasuke paused in the kitchen doorway when he saw Sakura standing over the sink. She was idly washing a pan she'd used to cook dinner. Her eyes were focused out the window as her lips moved in a silent babble.
She would always talk to herself like that when she was deep in thought. No sound ever came out, but it was like she was having a conversation with herself.
Sasuke didn't even bother to stop the amused smirk when she shook her head and let out an annoyed sigh. Sometimes he wondered for her sanity, but mostly he found it to be one of those things that seemed to draw him to her. It was one of those things he just didn't understand—one of those things he wanted to understand.
He wanted to know everything about her, to be able to just glance in her direction and know exactly what she was feeling.
His heart physically ached at the thought that he would never get so close. He wished he could hear the silent words behind those mischievous little eyes, wished he could decipher the message behind sly grins and know the perfect thing to say to wipe a frown from her face.
In a trance, Sasuke leaned against the kitchen doorway as he continued to watch Sakura.
When had seeing her doing something like dishes become so natural? When had he become accustomed to living with her, to saying our home and not my home? When had their lives gotten so tangled up that he couldn't distinguish his from hers?
Sasuke watched as she padded over to a cabinet and stretched to her toes to put the now clean pot away before coming back to the sink—all the while her lips moving as she remained lost in her own thoughts.
It hit him then, her leaving. In a months time she would be packing up her stuff. Every trace of her ever being there would disappear along with her. He wouldn't hear a creak in the hallway when she woke up in the middle of the night. He wouldn't need to make triple the coffee in the morning for her junky habits. He wouldn't walk with her to and from work. He wouldn't eat meals with her anymore.
He wouldn't see her anymore, wouldn't be able to so much as talk to her.
Sasuke's chest hurt as he realized the gravity of the situation. Everything about his life over the past year had become so heavily molded to this woman before him that he knew when it was severed it would done in the most grotesque, most painful of ways. That was all there was to it. There would be no coping, no moving on, no easing the pain. It was simply going to hurt because when it came down to it, taking away Sakura, losing her, was like losing half of himself. Realizing this, knowing this, accepting this—Sasuke abandoned whatever was left of his infamous stoicism. In that single moment of revelation all of his walls came down because he simply didn't have time; they didn't have time.
"I love you," he said, as if the words should fix everything but knowing they wouldn't—his life had never been so easy.
What happened to love will conquer all? he thought bitterly.
Sakura was gaping at him, her eyes wide and already glassy with tears. She just stood there, staring. The plate she'd so gracelessly dropped was spinning around and around in the sink, the noise gradually becoming quicker and quicker.
Sakura blinked as she sucked in a shaky breath her lips pursing together. Another breath, a mix between a sob and a wry laugh passed from her lips as her hand shot into the sink to stop the incessant plate.
"Sorry," she murmured with a tearful shake to her voice, "I really killed the moment, huh?"
She was an utter mess with tears running down her cheeks, her hair pulled up into a messy bun and her hands still wet and a little soapy.
Sasuke couldn't help but smile and shake his head. Leave it to Sakura to freak out when someone confesses.
Purposefully, Sasuke walked over to her. She seemed oddly timid as his hands found hers. Slowly, his fingers lightly traced up her arms before stopping just above her elbow. Her breathing hitched as he pulled her closer—close enough for him to rest his forehead against hers.
She never once blinked as her hands rested comfortably against his chest—never once looked away from his eyes. Her cheeks were flush and now drying with tears as her lips remained slightly parted in shock.
"I love you," he said again, conviction in his tone because he did. He loved her in every possible way someone can love another person and if all he had left was a month he was going to tell her because afterwards his life was going to suck. End of story. He couldn't sugarcoat it, couldn't find a silver lining. It would just suck. He would settle he may even find some semblance of contentment, but the happiness that Sakura gave him—he would never find that again and he was going to make sure this year ended without regrets.
He was so tired of regrets.
"Oh, Sasuke-kun," said Sakura as she dissolved into a mess of sobs, "I love you, too. I'm sorry. I'm so sorry. I should've told you sooner, but–"
Sasuke just shook his head. Sooner? She told him when he was twelve years old. He was the idiot who was too late.
He quickly cut her off with a kiss and whatever else Sakura had wished to say was quickly forgotten along with the rest of the morning.



Chapter Forty-three_
"Hallelujah" :

Sakura couldn't help but feel giddy as the sight of the Konoha gates came into view.
"Man, I can't believe how long it's been," she said looking up at the Hokage Mountain. "I wonder if anything's changed."
"Hn."
Sakura glanced over at Sasuke. She knew he didn't want to be here. It took her an entire week just to convince him and even then he seemed to put up a fight the whole trip, but it was Naruto's birthday and it was only right that they come and celebrate it with their friend. Besides that, Sakura needed to get the paperwork finalized with Tsunade.
On top of that, Sakura needed this time to really say good-bye to Konoha. It was odd, she was a mess of excitement about being able to be with Sasuke, but she was also sad to be leaving the place she'd called home for so long. Still, she knew this decision wasn't going to be easy, but she had made up her mind—she loved Sasuke and she wanted to be with him. The fact that he loved her back only strengthened her resolve.
She couldn't wait to see Sasuke's face when she told him she would be coming back to Oto with him.
"Sakura-chan! Bastard! You made it!" cheered Naruto, who was standing in the open gateway with a huge grin on his face. His blue eyes immediately went to their joined hands as his grin morphed into something oddly evil. "So, something you two want to share with the rest of the team?"
Sakura hated how easily she blushed and did everything possible to avoid looking at Naruto as she said, "We have no idea what you're talking about."
"Your mouth says no, but your face says–"
"Shut up, idiot."
Sakura could only smile appreciatively as Sasuke glared at Naruto, immediately stopping the blond short. Normally, Naruto wouldn't listen, but under the circumstances Sasuke's glare was extra threatening today. For a moment, Sakura thought she should just tell him so he could enjoy his time in Konoha, but she had gone this long and she really wanted to go through with her original plan.
"Alright," she said, taking her hand back from Sasuke. She gave him a little nudge towards Naruto and said, "I have to go check in with Tsunade, but I'll see you tonight. You two better not get into any trouble!"
Naruto made a mock salute as he rested his arm lazily on Sasuke's shoulders. Sasuke didn't look as if he appreciated this.
"Yes, ma'am!" joked Naruto.
Sakura could only laugh as she placed a quick peck on Sasuke's cheek.
"Try to have some fun," she murmured.
Sasuke scoffed.
Sakura rolled her eyes and let out an exasperated sigh before turning towards the village. She was ready to jump out of her skin with excitement then. Tonight she would officially be an Oto-nin. Nothing would be standing between her and Sasuke any longer.
Of course it wouldn't technically be finalized until Sasuke went over everything back in Oto, but that was beside the point.
Knocking on the door to Tsunade's office, Sakura couldn't stop the smile on her face.
"Come in!"
Tsunade looked annoyed as she sat behind her stacks of paperwork. Sakura couldn't help but notice the similar look she'd seen on Sasuke's face. Funny how two elite ninja could be so easily angered by mere paper-work.
"Well look who it is," said Tsunade, a smirk playing on her lips. "I suppose after that request you sent me I can take it that Oto wasn't as horrible as you thought it'd be?"
"You could say that," said Sakura, her smile still in place.
Tsunade stared at her for a moment longer before letting out a slight laugh and rifling through one of the drawers in her desk.
"I've already taken care of everything, I just need you to sign here and a copy should be on Sasuke's desk by the time you two return. After that, you're officially an Oto-nin."
Sakura took the form and scribbled her name down. It felt odd. Her entire life she had been a Konoha-nin, had put her life on the line for this village.
"I," she said, her hand pausing in the midst of her signature, "I'm still a Konoha-nin. I mean, this village will always–"
Tsunade cut her off.
"I know, Sakura. Don't think I hold anything against you for this. To be honest, I'm proud of you."
Sakura felt the tears prick at her eyes and did everything to keep them from falling.
"Konoha will always be a place you can call home," said Tsunade.
Sakura sniffed, holding back the tears, as she finished signing her name.
"Thank you, Tsunade. For everything."

.

Chapter Forty-four_
"A Healed Heart" :

She looked happy.
"Hey, bastard," came Naruto's booming voice forcing Sasuke's attention away from Sakura as an arm was tossed around his shoulder. "You know this is a party, right? Why don't you stop being all depressed and have fun."
"Hn."
Sasuke shrugged off Naruto's arm and glanced over to see Sakura laughing at something with Ino. Naruto must've followed his gaze because moments later he said in a voice a bit too serious for him, "I haven't seen Sakura-chan that happy in awhile. Years, actually."
"She was excited to come," Sasuke paused, he couldn't bear to call this place her home, "back."
When Naruto didn't say anything, Sasuke glanced over to make sure the blond hadn't suddenly died or something. His eyes were met with this knowing smile before Naruto shook his head and let out an exasperated sigh.
"She's happy because of you," said Naruto.
Sasuke looked back over at Sakura with a thoughtful frown, surprised when her eyes flickered over to him. When she noticed that he was looking at her as well, she smiled—a light blush dusting her cheeks.
Neither could look away.
It wasn't until Ino realized Sakura wasn't really paying attention that she broke Sakura's stare. Sasuke saw Ino glance at him with a raised brow before saying something that had Sakura redder than her shirt.
"So what exactly happened in Oto?" asked Naruto, amusement in his voice.
Sasuke just glared before sighing.
"I need some air."
He had just passed Naruto when the blond's voice gave him pause.
"You know this means I'll be visiting a lot, right?"
Sasuke stood for a moment, unsure what to say and slightly confused by Naruto's words before shrugging it off and muttering, "Whatever."
Sasuke couldn't bear to be in that place anymore—he couldn't bear to be in Konoha anymore. He was in a daze as he walked the all too familiar path towards the village gates. Odd how it felt so similar to that night except this time… this time he didn't want to go, but he couldn't stand saying good-bye to Sakura. She would probably be pissed when she found out he left without a word of warning, but maybe that was for the best.
Better her be angry with him than miss him.
Stuffing his hands in his pockets, Sasuke looked up and that was when his eyes landed on a figure sitting on a stone bench.
Somehow, he wasn't really surprised.
"You know, sometimes you're very predictable," said Sakura as she stood and walked over to him. He frowned as he noticed the pack on her shoulders.
"What are–"
"I can't believe you would just leave," she said, hands on her hip and a reprimanding glare contorting her features. Sasuke knew she wasn't angry, not really, but he couldn't understand why she was so… calm.
And what the hell was with the bag!
"I mean honestly, if I wasn't coming back with you, I'd be pretty pissed right now! You know after being away for a year it would be months before I could get time off to come and see you and at that point I think I'd be so angry I wouldn't want to. Really ,Sasuke-kun, you should use your brain a little more!"
Sasuke blinked, his mouth opening to say something as his mind slowly grasped the words that'd just left her mouth.
"What did you just say?" he asked—his voice nothing but a breath, worried he really was hearing things, worried that he'd misheard or misunderstood, but he had to ask.
"Hmm?" hummed Sakura, a wide smile soon splitting her face. "Which part, the part about you being a total idiot or the part about me moving to Oto?"
Sasuke was wide-eyed as he stared at Sakura in the darkness. He could see her easily enough, could see the smile on her face as she watched him—waiting for him to say something, to do something.
Anything.
Just as he opened his mouth to speak he could've sworn his heart skipped a beat as the realization of what she said hit home.
This wasn't good-bye.
There wouldn't be a good-bye.
He didn't waste a second more as he crashed his lips to hers, his hands wrapping around her and pulling her close.
Truthfully, he had no idea what he was going to say—no idea what he should say, but he hoped she understood clear enough what he was feeling through the kiss.
When he pulled back, he found he couldn't look away from those green eyes alight with such pure happiness that he knew was reflected in his own. He wasn't sure how long they stood there on the empty street, but he knew one thing—he didn't want to let her go.
And he would never have to.
"I can't believe you didn't tell me," he murmured finally.
"I can't believe you were going to leave without saying good-bye," she countered, a smirk on her lips.
"Let's go home," he said as he reluctantly released his hold on her and threaded their fingers together.
Leaving through the gates, Sakura rested her head against his shoulder as they took their time walking along the dirt path leaving the village and towards Oto.
After all they had all the time in the world.
.
.
.
Twenty minutes later….
.
"So, I was looking at some paint samples."
"No."
"And I think a burgundy would look great in the living room."
"Sakura–"
"Oh! And I was thinking we should get a cat since you apparently don't like dogs."
"Stop replacing everything I say with what you want to hear."
"I'm glad you agree."
"You're evil."
"I love you too, Sasuke-kun."
"Tsunade didn't put up a big fight to keep you around, huh?"
"I will hit you again."
Sasuke rolled his eyes—that she chose to hear.
Annoying woman, he thought fondly if not with a bit of apprehension. Their life was going to be interesting to say the least.




Epilogue_
"Echoes" :

The first thing Sasuke did that morning they woke up in Oto was head to his office to make sure there wasn't any outstanding paperwork needed to finalize Sakura's status as an official Oto-nin.
He wasn't about to risk losing her again.
Skimming through the small file sent over by Tsunade, Sasuke paused, blinked and then re-read a final note at the very back.
"Uchiha,
How is my favorite student doing? You better take good care of her or else. Anyways, I've sent everything for your records that Sakura is an official resident and ninja for Oto. Of course there is one thing that will makes this transfer null and void.
You must marry before the year is out. Good luck and tell Sakura I said hi.
Godaime Hokage Tsunade."
The paper crumpled in his hand as he stalked from his office, a positively evil glare darkening his features, and all the way to his room where Sakura was still nestled comfortably in their bed.
He tossed the crumpled piece of paper at her head as she stirred. Frowning, she gave him a worried look.
"What's this abou–"
Her frown deepened as she read through the note. And then re-read it as a blush worked its way under her skin.
He should've known she was angry and not embarrassed. Really, he should have.
"I can't believe you would propose to me through my teacher!" she yelled, crumbling the note and chucking it back at him before finding it just wasn't enough and began throwing the pillows.
Sasuke caught the last one before watching as Sakura took in heavy, furious breaths.
"Well?"
Sakura crossed her arms and continued to glare before letting out a long sigh—her anger deflating with it.
"Yes, I'll marry you," she said before glancing up to see him smirking.
"Idiot," she added before his lips were on hers.
.
.
.
They were married in spring.
Sakura had to arrange for a quick change to be made to the paperwork, much to Tsunade's distaste, but her teacher had agreed. Two months was just too soon and Oto was simply beautiful in the spring.
Walking down the aisle, Sakura couldn't take her eyes off Sasuke. She couldn't believe they were getting married. Hell, she was still shocked when she woke up every morning to that face of his.
Everything was just so wonderful.
As they exchanged vows and said their 'I do's' Sakura's mind went wandering to the previous year and to what may lay in the future.
"You may now kiss the bride."
The crowd erupted into applause and wolf whistles as Sasuke took her in his arms and kissed her like he had so many times before and would do so many, many more times.
Sakura would make sure of that.
.
.
.
Sakura twirled the phone cord around her finger.
"He did!" she said. "Aww, that's great Ino. I'm so happy for you."
"Thanks, forehead," came Ino's cheerful voice. "So you're going to be my maid of honor, right?"
"Of course," said Sakura. "I'll have to start softening Sasuke up for the trip, but we could use the vacation. He's been working a lot lately."
"Sounds to me like you two really are perfect for each other."
Sakura could hear the amused smirk.
"Oh, shut up, pig. I'm a former workaholic, thank you very much."
"Right, right," said Ino dismissively. "So where is Sasuke anyways? I usually hear him grumbling in the background."
"Hmm, oh, he's picking up some paint. We're going to paint the living room this weekend."
"Really? What color?"
"It's a really light tan color."
"I'm sure it will look nice."
"I hope so," said Sakura before she heard the door open. Poking her head out of the kitchen doorway, she watched an annoyed Sasuke sitting down some paint cans before going to remove his shoes.
"Sasuke just walked in," she told Ino.
"Alright, you two have fun," replied Ino, "and start working on that visit! I'm not getting married without my best friend there."
"I will. I will. See you later, pig."
.
.
.
As they lay there, Sakura couldn't help but bask in the afterglow. It hadn't even been a year since they were married and yet she couldn't recall what her life had been like without Sasuke.
Rolling onto her side, she smiled up at his peaceful face before he looked down and pulled her against him. Pressing his lips to her temple, he murmured, "What's with that look?"
"Just happy," she said as she felt the hand at her side begin to trail up her back. She couldn't help but laugh when Sasuke turned them so her back was to the mattress again.
His lips were crawling up her neck.
"I guess," she said, her voice a tad deeper from Sasuke's ministrations, "we won't have any problems restoring the clan then, huh?"
It was the first time Sakura had ever heard Sasuke laugh.
.
.
.
Sakura was humming to herself as she rinsed the shampoo from her hair. She was so caught up in her own little world that her body jerked when two arms wrapped around her waist.
"Sorry," murmured Sasuke before his teeth grazed her ear and lips trailed down her neck. Sakura only smiled as she leaned into his very inviting body, "but you forgot a towel."
Sakura's smile quickly turned to a cheeky grin as she turned to face him, her lips on his as she said, "Well aren't you just my hero?"
Sasuke pulled back with one of his signature smirks, "I didn't say it was free."
Sakura could only laugh as her back was pressed against the tiled wall of the shower. At that moment, she was rather glad she had yet to move the towels into the bathroom even if it was madness to keep them elsewhere.
.
.
.
Sasuke was dead on his feet as he put a plate of food in the microwave and waited. He hadn't worked this late in a long time, he realized, before there was a beep and he took out the food Sakura had left for him.
Leaning against the counter, he ate it with his eyes closed—practically about to fall asleep in the process. As quietly as he could, he sat the empty plate in the sink before padding his way up to bed. In his sleep deprived state, however, he didn't realize that the living room furniture was not where it was supposed to be.
He ended up kicking the coffee table and tripping over a potted plant that he knew was not there before. Glaring up at the ceiling, he heard the hurried footfalls of Sakura as she came down the stairs and flicked on the living room light.
Soon, Sakura's face popped into view as she gave him a worried look. "What are you doing?"
"You moved the furniture around?" he hissed accusingly.
Sakura glanced around before smiling. "Well, I wasn't sure if you were just running late so I thought I'd wait a bit before eating, but then I got bored and so, yeah. Do you like it?"
Sasuke could only groan in annoyance before promptly passing out on the floor. He was simply too tired to argue.
.
.
.
"Dear Naruto,
I'm so happy to hear about Hinata! You two are going to make wonderful parents. Sasuke and I will have to visit soon. I'd love to be there for the birth. Perhaps we could come visit for a month just to be on the safe side? Oops, Sasuke just read this over my shoulder and said no. Don't worry. I'll talk to him.
Sincerely,
Sakura"

"Dear Sakura-chan,
Ha-ha, I see who wears the pants in your relationship! The babies due some time in May so plan to come then! I'll make some arrangements. Oh! And tell Sasuke he's whipped for me. Thanks!
Naruto"

"Dear Naruto,
Sasuke's agreed! I think he just wants to punch you in the face for saying he's whipped, but I'm not going to complain. We'll see you then. Tell Hinata and the baby hi for me and that we'll see them soon.
Sincerely,
Sakura"
.
.
.
Sakura was being suspiciously quiet, Sasuke noted as he stood in the kitchen doorway. On top of that, she hadn't been drinking nearly as much coffee in the morning…
Frowning, he was about to ask if something was bothering her when he noticed a bloody rag on the counter. His hands were at her waist immediately as he spun her to face him—eyes scanning for any wounds.
"Sasuke-kun, what are you–"
He flicked his eyes on to the rag, the one covered in blood.
"It was an accident. I just cut my hand," mumbled Sakura before turning back to the counter.
"You're a kunoichi," replied Sasuke. For her to cut her hand in the kitchen was odd. "What's going on?"
Sakura immediately let out a nervous laugh as she tilted her head over her shoulder and smiled at him.
"Oh, stop worrying so much. Everything's fine."
Sasuke wasn't buying it as he caged her between him and the counter.
"Sakura?" he said warningly.
Sakura let out an exasperated huff before looking over his shoulder. "We've been married a whole year."
Sasuke frowned. What was she getting at?
"I," Sakura paused as her eyes slid to the floor and she murmured, "I should be pregnant by now and I know it's not from lack of trying."
Sasuke tilted her chin up then so she would look at him, "It's okay, Sakura–"
Sakura immediately jerked away from his grasp. "No, Sasuke, it's not. I want to be a mother and now I… everything I've put my body through… kunoichi have always had difficulty having children due to the training and injuries from missions, but an entire year, Sasuke? I just– I'm starting to wonder if… if I'm going to be able to conceive at all."
Sasuke watched as Sakura turned her head to the side and tried to hold back tears. He didn't know what to say as he pulled her to him and listened to her quiet sobs.
.
.
.
After her melt down, Sakura was determined to get pregnant. At first, Sasuke wasn't exactly complaining, but now he was starting to fear being around his wife. Sometimes he just wanted to sleep. That was exactly what led him to plop down on the couch when he came home late one evening.
Just as he had closed his eyes and started drifting off to sleep he heard the soft patter of Sakura coming down the stairs.
He tried feigning sleep as he felt her eyes on him before she nudged his shoulder a bit. He sighed and looked up at her.
"What are you doing down here? Aren't you coming to bed?"
Sasuke tried to think of an excuse, he really did, but he was so tired and he knew she could easily convince him to do other things once up those stairs so he quickly blurted out, "No."
Sakura frowned, "Why not?"
Sasuke opened his mouth and then promptly closed it before glaring at his wife. This was just getting a little ridiculous! He wanted to have a child as much as she did, but sometimes enough was enough. Taking a deep breath, he said abruptly, "Too much sex."
It wasn't exactly what he wanted to say, but he was really tired and frustrated and she was wearing something that was very, very tantalizing and he just couldn't take it anymore!
Sakura burst out laughing and Sasuke could only glare. Annoying woman. With a mischievous gleam in her eye, she crawled on top of him and Sasuke inwardly groaned. Didn't she hear what he said?
"I'm sorry, Sasuke-kun," she murmured as her forehead met his. "I didn't realize I was asking… too much of you."
Sasuke's eyes narrowed at the slight, but he kept his mouth shut as he tried to ignore the feel of her body pressed against his.
"I suppose," she said, her lips brushing against his, "we can tone it down some. After all, it's not like I can conceive when I'm already pregnant."
Sasuke blinked as she pulled back, a brilliant smile on her lips as the words decoded themselves in his mind.
"Your–?"
"Yeah," she said. "I was waiting for a few tests to come back before I told you and everything looks good. We're having a baby."
Sasuke didn't waste a second as he crashed his lips to hers before promptly lifting them both off the couch and to their bedroom where he deposited Sakura on her side and passed out on his.
He was still tired, after all.
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"It's time for lunch," announced Sakura as she stood on the porch. Naruto and Hinata had managed to come for a visit in the midst of a winter storm in Oto. Naruto had been as excited as she had been for the snow and him and Sasuke had taken it upon themselves to make something as harmless as a snowball fight into an all out war.
Sakura was thankful for Hinata's company; otherwise she might've killed them both. Honestly, how old were they?
Naruto came up to the porch with a huge grin as he grabbed his son from Hinata's arms.
"Hey, kid," he said, "Daddy kicked Uncle Sasuke's a–"
"Naruto-kun," said Hinata, her voice soft and yet it had such a deadly edge.
"Butt," amended Naruto. The baby in his arms gave a shrill coo as Sasuke was coming up the stairs.
He scoffed at Naruto's declaration before his hands found Sakura's swollen stomach.
With a quick kiss, he murmured, "How are you feeling?"
"Oh, I'm fine," said Sakura as they all made their way into the kitchen.
Sasuke had been worrying all week that the baby was going to come in the midst of a blizzard and they wouldn't be able to get to the hospital for the delivery.
Sakura had told him he was being paranoid and that everything would be fine.
Four days later, after Naruto and Hinata had left, there was a blizzard.
Sakura went into labor.
"I told you," muttered Sasuke as he went about the house gathering all the things Sakura said they would need. Sakura, thankful for her pain tolerance as another contraction came, glared at Sasuke.
"That is not helping!"
Sasuke just glared back. "I know! What the hell do you want from me! You're in labor and I have no idea what to do!"
Sakura took in deep breaths as she grabbed Sasuke's hand. He really should be the one comforting her, but she supposed being the medic in this situation, she knew that a home birth wasn't the worst-case scenario. At least they still had power…
"Alright," she said, forcing herself to remain calm, "just breathe, Sasuke-kun. We can do this."
Sasuke nodded slowly and if it weren't for the fact that she was currently in labor, Sakura would've found it endlessly amusing that Sasuke appeared to be the one about to give birth.
She made a mental note to tease him later.
Hours and a lot of panicking and yelling from both expecting parents, Yuki Uchiha was born with a shock of black hair and eyes as dark as her father's. In the years to come, however, Sasuke would learn they hid a mischievousness given to her by her mother.
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One year had passed since Yuki was born and Sakura had taken up working on improving the medical system in Oto as well as sharing any practices that seemed helpful with Konoha and Suna—the latter having finally come to an agreement and allied with Oto.
Sakura was filled with pride for her husband and Otokagure as it soon grew to be regarded in a similar respect as the great nations.
All of this, however, wasn't what had her so distracted as she watched her daughter play with the food before her. Sakura couldn't help but smile when Yuki looked up and smiled before shaking her head from side to side.
"You're so silly," murmured Sakura as she copied her daughter. The girl's grin only widened as she started gibbering something and Sakura just pretended she spoke baby as she replied, "So you're excited to have a baby brother or sister? Well, I'm glad, do you think daddy will be happy?"
Yuki let out a loud screech before thumping her hands gleefully against the tray of her high chair and swinging her little legs.
"Well then," said Sakura, "I suppose I should tell him."
Sakura started to clean all the food from her daughter's face and hands… and hair. She still couldn't believe she was pregnant. Just having Yuki was a miracle, but two children truly shocked her.
Still, she was happy and that night it appeared Yuki had been right as well—Sasuke was thrilled with the news.
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Sanosuke Uchiha wasn't born in the middle of a natural disaster or anything of like. His birth had actually been relatively simple. Sakura went into labor, checked into the hospital and left a day later with her new bundle of joy.
When she had told Sasuke it was a boy this time, Sakura knew he was happy to know that the Uchiha name would be carried on, but she couldn't help but notice he over looked one little detail: Her hair.
Now, as she held her son in her arms, it was impossible to miss. Atop his head was a healthy shock of pink locks and Sakura's fear was met. Still, she had to admit she found him rather adorable now, but she knew once he grew older it would be the cause of… problems.
Sasuke had frowned at the unlucky genes his son had inherited, but had otherwise refrained from saying anything.
This only made Sakura more curious.
As they lay in bed, both their children sound asleep, Sakura probed, "He looks just like you."
Sasuke smirked. "Yeah, I always wondered what I'd look like with pink hair."
Sakura glared playfully at him. "Well? I think it suits him."
"He's going to hate it when he gets older," murmured Sasuke.
Sakura felt a small pang in her heart for her son. Sasuke was right, this would only cause problems for him…
Sasuke pulled her closer as he kissed her forehead. "I'm kidding Sakura. He'll be fine."
"Oh, come one Sasuke, pink! He's a boy!"
"He's an Uchiha," said Sasuke and somehow, Sakura had no idea how, everything was instantly okay.
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Six years had passed since Sano was born and Otokagure had officially become one of the great shinobi villages. Sasuke was christened with the title of Takage, much to his displeasure because he had to attend a ceremony and it was a big to-do he would've rather avoided.
Sakura made him go.
It was also when Sakura learned she would be having her third child, a son. She didn't tell Sasuke until she was three months pregnant. He grumbled something about having finally gotten the nursery things up to the attic and having to get them back out, but kissed her and smiled nonetheless.
Sakura still made it a point to visit Konoha when she could—always making Sasuke and the kids come with her. Yuki and Sano had instantly become friends with Naruto's son, Minoru.
Sakura could've sworn her daughter got a little red tint to her cheeks whenever they were together. Sasuke wasn't the happiest when she mentioned her little observation, saying there was absolutely no way his daughter would ever grow up to be an Uzumaki.
This pissed Sakura off more than she knew it should as she lashed back with, "And if they love each other, Sasuke, would stand between them for some petty reason like that?"
Sasuke glared at her before his face softened and he sighed.
It was then, at that very moment, that Sakura knew everything was going to be okay. She would continue to watch her children grow alongside Sasuke and nothing would disrupt that. She could feel it deep within her, could believe it with every fiber of her being because for the first time Uchiha Sasuke seemed to truly understand what it meant to love and he wasn't running from it, wasn't denying it, wasn't fighting it.
His heart was truly healed.
"Hallelujah," whispered Sakura as she clicked off the bedroom light and curled up beside him.
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THE END.