title: baby, it's cold outside
summary: AU. the snow isn't the only thing that's cold as sakura returns home for winter break.
disclaimer: naruto, not mine since 1999.
characters: fugaku and sakura
dedication: because it finally is, in fact, cold outside here.


In a fit of frustration, Sakura punches her steering wheel, earning her a loud, blaring honk. She sighs in despair and rests her forehead against the same steering wheel she just assaulted.

Half a day into winter break and already it's a disaster.

She is a full time pre-med student at Suna University, and her final exams ended earlier that afternoon, nearly making her miss her flight back to Konoha. Then, they decided to delay the flight due to bad weather conditions in Konoha, but only after the plane had already rolled out into the tarmac.

After a two hour delay and a three hour flight, she finally made it back to Fire Country. She thought she was lucky in scoring the last car from the rental place, but she may as well be better of walking home than driving this highly questionable old, beat up clunker.

Unfortunately, her misgivings turned out to be accurate as the breaks went out just as she hit a patch of ice on the road, and now here she sits half buried in a snow bank at eleven o'clock at night with no other cars in sight. She's called a towing company, but they won't come out for the car until the roads are clear, and so Sakura is left to figure out how to manage the remaining hundred miles home without a car.

Sakura's fingers are numb as she opens her dying phone again and dials a number that's as familiar to her as her birth date. Outside the car, snow is falling in droves and the temperture, already freezing, is steadily dropping further.

She prays to herself under her breath as the phone rings continuously, agitation and anxiety growing with every ring. Her friends are all back in Suna where it's nice and warm, and her parents are off on a holiday cruise. So her boyfriend had better answer his damn phone, because he's the only person within six hundred miles who can come rescue her.

Just as she's about to click the phone off and dial again (7% battery left!), the call is picked up and a sleepy voice answers, "'lo?"

Sakura breathes a heavy sigh of relief. "Sasuke-kun, you have to come get me, I'm-"

A groan comes through the other end of the line. "Ugh, Sak'ra, I'm not going anywhere. I have the flu, I can't even move my body."

"Are you kidding me?!" She screeches into the phone. "I crashed into a snowbank off the highway with no hope of rescue for probably three days! You have to come get me!"

Panic starts to rise in her chest, threatening to overwhelm her. Her hand grips the phone tightly, nearly bending it. "The engine's dead, I have no heat, I'll freeze!"

Hot tears spill down her face as she starts to hyperventilate. Sasuke sighs in her ear, and she can picture him pinching the bridge of his nose. "Sakura, it'll be okay. Look, my dad's flying home from a business conference in Ame tonight, his plane's probably already landed. He can pick you up on his way home, he'll be going the same route anyway."

This calms Sakura somewhat, but also brings on a whole new set of anxieties. Sasuke's dad is scary. Not scary as in horror movie scary, but he's super intimidating. She and Sasuke have been dating since high school, so she's met the man a few times, but she's never been in his presence for more than a few minutes at a time. As a high profile businessman, he's often busy and away from home.

Interrupting her thoughts, Sasuke continues, "Let me call him and tell him wha's going on and then I'll call you back.'Kay?"

He DOES sound pretty congested and she probably doesn't want him driving on whatever he's knocked back to help himself sleep, so she agrees. The line goes dead and she's left with nothing but the falling snow for company.

A text from Sasuke has confirmed the imminent arrival of his father and his agreement to give her a ride, and an hour passes as she anxiously waits.

Eventually, a black 4x4 SUV pulls up on the side of the road near her totalled vehicle. The brand new, top-of-the-line expensive model suggests that it couldn't be anyone other than Uchiha Fugaku. A tall figure emerges from the driver's side, and Sakura would recognize that scowl anywhere; his son wears the same one all the time.

Nearly crying again with relief, she tugs on the door handle and throws her while body weight against the door. No dice. Her car has driven into the snow so far that the weight of it is pressed against the doors, trapping her inside.

Seeing her predicament, Fugaku pulls a shovel from the back of his SUV (his father is prepared for every situation, Sasuke once told her wryly), and within minutes she is free. Her suitcase is liberated from the back seat, and within minutes she's enjoying the comforts of heated leather seats.

"Thank you," she squeaks as her boyfriend's father slides into the driver'a seat and shifts the car into drive. He nods gruffly, and a tense, awkward silence follows. Sakura has never been alone with him without Sasuke present beside her, but she knows that all the Uchiha men are mostly silent and stoic. This suits her fine right right now, since she has no idea what to say.

But after a few minutes, Fugaku clears his throat awkwardly and speaks. "So you and my son…"

Oh god. This is it. Every girlfriend's worst nightmare: being asked about her sex life with their son. It might even include a lecture on protection or how she should keep her hands off of him because their baby boy is being saved for marriage.

And Sakura, with her big mouth, dreads accidentally telling him about their healthy sexting life, or their exhibitions on video chat, or the summer after high school graduation and every subsequent fall, winter, spring, and summer break since. She and Sasuke may attend separate universities, but they go at it like rabbits whenever they can, by whatever means possible.

Sakura swallows hard and snaps her attention to Fugaku's words.

"Am I correct in assuming that your relationship is serious? You have been seeing each other for quite some time."

Nervously, Sakura nods in affirmation. "Yes. We've been dating for four years." Since junior year of high school.

Fugaku is silent for a few moments as he concentrates on driving. Finally, "What are your intentions with my son?"

Sakura's mind blanks.

"You have a long distance relationship at present, and that can put a strain on both people. And you are pre-med, yes? You're looking at several years of medical school after graduation and Sasuke has law school to think about. That is an incredibly difficult situation for a couple, and inevitably either your grades or your relationship will suffer."

Her throat constricts painfully. These are all things she is aware of, but to hear them put so bluntly by him puts her heart in the grip of an iron vice. He's probably going to demand that she break up with Sasuke for his own good, so that he can focus on his studies. Shitshitshit, she is not going to cry in front of Fugaku.

"Sir," she swallows hard, "I love Sasuke very much. And while maybe we started out as a fling in high school, our relationship is so much more than that now. We support each other and help each other get through the hard days, even from far away. There is nothing that cheers me up over a difficult bio exam than a text from him, and I always wish him luck before debates. And if he wanted to break up because he felt his school performance was suffering, I would absolutely respect that and walk away. And I know he'd do the same. But until he makes that decision on his own, I am going to do whatever I can from wherever I am to love and support him, even if it's hard."

Sakura sinks back into her seat after this declaration and quietly catches her breath. Her face is flushed bright cherry red from embarrasment and the force of her emotion. Tentatively, she sneaks a peak at the Uchiha patriarch's face, looking for some kind of reaction.

To her surprise, he's glancing at her out of the corner of his eye, and is that a smirk he's wearing? It's the closest she's ever seen him come to smiling in all the years that she's known him.

A low chuckle escapes him. "I think I see why my son loves you. My wife too."

Seeing her stunned face, he laughs again. "You have nothing to worry about, Sakura. I just wanted to see how serious you were about my son. In any case, he's too much in love with you to tolerate any interference from me."

A warm glow fills her from head to her toes for the remainder of the ride home, and hee offers her their guest room on the condition that she make her mother's special recipe tomato soup for the ailing Sasuke. His eyes crinkle as he asks, and Sakura laughingly agrees.

Suddenly the world doesn't feel quite so cold.