My dear writers, thanks for being patient with me. I've been crazy busy and probably will be for a good while still, what with moving across the country, returning to school and whatnot, but this is still an ongoing process and there's no way I'm gonna let it stay unfinished. There will probably be a bit of Naruto in the next chapter, but this was getting long enough that I had to stop at some point, and I chose to cut it off where I did because anything more would have felt off. I hope you enjoy it, guys!


He was observing her. Despite telling herself it was only to be expected, under the circumstances, Sakura felt on edge. She wanted him to stop it. She wanted him to quit it with the long, silent stares when Ringo wasn't around.

Maybe he would stop it if she confronted him.

Or...maybe not.

Truth be told, she didn't want to risk it. Before going off to die, Kisame had clearly asked her to tell his younger self about them, but she was feeling conflicted about it.

On one hand, he could prove to be a valuable ally, if he believed her story. On the other, at this point in time, he was extremely loyal to his village, and he had no reason to believe the word of a perfect stranger. It was more probable that he would hand her over to the Mizukage, who in turn would try to pry her head open to discover the secrets she knew. No, all around, it was better if she stayed quiet and hoped his interest waned off with time.

She spent the first few days recuperating from the battle, steadily healing her wounds under either Kisame or Ringo's watch, but she never stepped foot outside. Her fragile psyche could not help but avoid the stimuli of the village. Her meltdown in front of Kisame had shaken her, and she passed each day in fear of another one, actively avoiding the man as much as possible when sharing a living space.

Of course, she knew she couldn't avoid life forever, but for now, she nested in the room that had become hers by default, meditating to regain some semblance of emotional balance and healing her wounds with her still sluggish chakra. She soothed her frayed nerves by monitoring her baby's vitals, reassuring herself that it was fine, that she had managed, despite all odds, to protect it.

Besides, if she was inside, she could not care about her tattered clothing and broken mask. She did not have a spare change of clothes, and bloodstains were a surefire way of getting her noticed, which was precisely what she wanted to avoid.

Kisame, on the other hand, couldn't keep noticing her. She was an enigma that he wanted to solve, especially as he was starting to suspect that his memories might have been tampered with. If he forced her to interact with him, she was bound to slip, and then he'd have something to work with.

With that in mind, he summarily set himself down on the sofa next to her and gazed at her insistently.

"Hey, Haha-ue, would you heal my legs properly? You seem much better off than me, and the medics didn't work much on you, so clearly, you've got skills worth mentioning."

For a moment, she was so still and silent he was sure she would rebuff him. She was so tense, coiled to spring at any moment, that he thought she would hurt herself with her utter stillness. Then, miraculously, she breathed out slowly and nodded, setting herself more comfortably on the sofa. He put his legs in her lap and leaned against the back of the sofa calmly, making his pose as non-threatening as he could.

She put a tense hand on his shin; he could feel the slight tremble of her fingers on his skin, rather like the drumming of a hummingbird's heart. With a deep breath, she rolled up his pants and settled her hand more firmly on his leg.

At first, she let out only a trickle of chakra, as though gauging his reaction. When he didn't react, she continued, this time using more of it, and he could feel his bones start to mend rapidly.

There was no pain, though her alien chakra worked overtime to make him good as new. If he had thought she would botch the job, he was wrong. What he was feeling conflicted about, though, was that he did not recognize her chakra at all. Surely, if he had felt it before, he would feel some kind of recognition?

Alas, no. But her whole attitude was telling. Surely, they had met before, and she was afraid he would remember her. If his dreams were fragments of his stolen memories coming back to the surface, they indicated they had known each other fairly well. Either she had betrayed him in some way and was afraid he would remember her betrayal and make her pay for it, or she had been threatened to keep it on the downlow.

"You're really good at this," he noted as she worked.

She nodded pridefully if rather reservedly still.

"I guess this is simple compared to the injuries you healed during our battle. I can't say I'd ever seen a combat medic, but if they're all like you on the battlefield, regular ninja have something to fear."

She quirked a little grin and signed, There aren't that many frontline medics.

"Yeah, those that I've seen on missions usually stay out of the fights and only come out after the fighting is done to heal their teammates."

There was a small, pleased turn to her lips that was somehow endearing; it certainly eased the harsh lines of stress, sadness and anger on her face and made her look younger. With a little imagination, he could see in her the young girl he had seen in his dreams.

I know her, he thought as she worked silently to heal him. I know her. She was mine and I was hers.

The fact that he couldn't actually remember her, except for the flashes of memories he got in his sleep, was irrelevant. He wanted her back. He did, so badly it surprised him, but he had to know if she had betrayed him. Was she a traitor or not?

He was a patient man; his dreams would reveal everything. Still, in case they didn't, he wanted to get on her good side. If she stopped being so tense around him, he could maybe pry their story out of her. And what better time than now to start, especially as Ringo was away for the day?

He could see how tired she was. Clearly, even before they had found her, she had not taken proper care of herself. She was completely in survival mode, and it was this mental state he had to break her from.

As she worked, he observed her leisurely, taking in her delicate features and the damage she had taken. She needed taking care of. And although he was so out of his element it wasn't even funny, he would be the man for the job.

"Hey," he said gently as she eased her chakra out of his legs. "Thank you. This is an amazing job. I can hardly believe my legs were still broken this morning."

She looked unsure as to how to take his words, so he continued, even more carefully, "You look like you didn't sleep much since coming here. Were you unable to relax?"

She had such a deadpan look on her face he felt sheepish and chastised.

"Right, that was a stupid question. My apologies. Look, we want you to get comfortable here, even if our beginnings were not so glorious."

She outright snorted at that, mildly offending him, but he quickly brushed away the sentiment; in her place, he would have doubted such words too.

"You need rest. Good, undisturbed sleep. Let me help you with that. I want you and your baby to feel safe—to be safe—here."

She was tense, ready to spring, but he didn't let that deter him. He slowly got up and gingerly gathered her up in his arms, then headed for the bedroom, tucking her against him more securely when he felt the faintest of tremors in her fragile shape. After a long moment of hesitation, she carefully leaned against him, not completely relaxed but much better than before.

Once the bed loomed in front of him, he very carefully deposited her atop the bedding and left a moment later to rummage into his duffle bag, assuring her that he would not be long. When he came back to the bed, he was displeased to find that she had tensed up once more, but knew he soon would have her relaxed and peaceful.

"Let me help you," he murmured, reaching for her clothing. Her breathing hitched as his fingers grazed the material of her top, but she didn't stop him from divesting her of it. Before long, she was lying on her side in panties and nothing else other than her feathery wig.

He took a moment to admire the view, but he had to be careful not to make her tense up again, so he sat at her back and put a large hand on her shoulder. He uncorked the bottle he had taken out of his bag and waved it under her nose so she could smell what it was.

"Eucalyptus massage oil," he explained, pouring some of it on his palms. He put the bottle on the nightstand and slowly ran his hands down her arm, adding pressure to massage all the tension away from it. While he did so, he continued to talk in low, soothing tones. "It relieves sore joints and muscles, is analgesic and anti-inflammatory, but you would know that already, I suppose. I usually use it after difficult missions, and have been using it sparingly over the last few days. It works miracles."

He was pleased to see the tension leech out of her gradually as he worked his magic, working his fingers into the knots of tension in her upper back and shoulders, then her neck, before going down her back. He added some oil, then started on her legs, throat clenching as his fingers inched inevitably closer to her panties.

His hands brushed to material of her panties as he kneaded her calf. As she shifted, draped over her pillow, he chanced a glance at her face, only to see a rosy blush on her cheeks and a relaxed look on her features.

He stilled, gulping nervously. Going any further would be toeing the line, to be sure. He wasn't sure he could do that to her, but as his hands started to retreat from her flesh, she parted her legs in invitation.

Okay then.

"I'm going to take your panties off," he explained in a rough voice. Part of him hoped she would stop him, kick him where it hurts and barricade herself in the bathroom until Ameyuri came back. As he eased the scrap of fabric down her legs, he was infinitely glad she didn't.

Draped languidly on the bed, all that naked skin on display, he felt like he was worshipping a pagan goddess. In fact, given her natural coloring, combined with her pregnant state, he was tempted to call her Konohana Sakuya-hime. Konohana Sakuya-hime, sometimes simply called Sakuya-hime, was the blossom-princess whose symbol was the sakura blossom—pretty much the exact shade of the woman's hair—and was the symbol of delicate, short and fleeting earthly life. Yes, this mother-to-be was pretty much the living embodiment of Sakuya-hime, and in his heart, he already associated her with that name and its significance.

With reverent movements, his hands settled on her waist, and ever so slowly drifted down until he was cupping her backside with calloused fingers. He was transfixed with the view of his hands on the paler skin of her bottom, but the little sigh of pleasure she made as his thumbs made little circles on the firm muscles nearly unmade him.

As though he was running on fumes, he inched ever closer to her epicenter, kneeling closer when she shifted her legs open more to allow for his bulk between them.

"Can I…May I…" His throat closed around the words. He hung his head, closing his eyes fervently. "Please allow me to touch you. Let me wind you up and unravel you. Let me…Let me," he pleaded with quiet desperation, unable to find the right words, bunching the sheets in his fists.

There was rustling on the bed; he opened his eyes to find her bared to him in open invitation on her back. Her body was lithe, toned and crisscrossed with the faintest silvery scars that mapped her all over like his fingers itched to. Her breasts were topped with dusky pink nipples; he brushed a finger across one, watched it pebble under his light touch.

A soft sigh escaped her, prompting him to take a full breast in his palm. It was soft and warm, full and heavy and perfect in his large hand.

Encouraged by her soft murmurs, he cupped her other breast and gently worked at them. She hummed, but he wanted more. Mindful of his teeth, he bent down and oh so carefully took a perfect nipple in his mouth, rewarded with an arching of her back and a loud moan.

"Lie back and relax, hime, I've got this," he told her with a soft peck to the dusky top. At her nod, he laved at it, and before long there was a stream of groans and gasps coming from her pretty pink lips.

The other nipple got the same treatment; his hands payed homage to her rounded stomach before drifting lower to where her body opened to his worshipping fingers. She was warm and fertile, inviting and welcoming, and his questing fingers easily sank into her sacred tunnel.

She was so hot and pulsing, living around his digits that he stopped for a moment, looking at where they were buried within her, but a keen and a bucking of her hips prompted him into action once again. With an apologetic kiss on her full belly, he inched lower, until his mouth joined his fingers, and then the sweetest of melodies spewed from her lips as tangy sweetness covered his lips.

She responded very vocally when he sucked at her pleasure bead, and with a last hard suck and a crook of his fingers, she screamed out in something other than pain for the first time in months.

Satisfied, he got up, retrieved a wet towel from the bathroom, and wiped off his fingers and lips. No way was he going to clean his mouth, though, he liked her taste in his mouth. He was still rolling it around on his palate when he came back to the room and the woman inside who was close to dozing by now.

He gently cleaned her and eased into bed next to her, dragging her against his torso to doze off. He was throbbing, but his erection was the least of his concerns. He was used to ignoring his body's demands anyway.

Her breathing caressed his torso as she steadily fell further into a deep, restoring sleep. He contemplated his actions as she slept in his embrace. Certainly, she was now relaxed enough to sleep without disturbance, but he was honest enough with himself to know that he could have stopped it at a simple massage. She would have been relaxed enough to sleep by then, he did not have to give her sexual gratification to get her to fall into the land of dreams.

Gods help him, he didn't regret it, and that worried him more than anything else. He didn't care if she had betrayed him or not, she had been his and she was once again. And he would not let go of his goddess.

"Sleep, Sakuya-hime. Sleep and heal."


Not much action, but much introspection, and I swear I'm building something useful here! At some point you're gonna look back on this and go, "Ooooh, I see what she did there!"