A/N: It's been too long (7 or 8 years? yeah around that.) since I wrote a NARUTO fic. I don't even remember the old ones, I never posted them back then. I even stopped reading the manga years ago, but reading Naruto Gaiden and watching the Boruto movie though, it rekindled my love for SasuSaku (and Sarada is such a cutie, I couldn't help but love her).
So here: some hastily-written short moments between Sakura, Sasuke and Sarada, finally being a boring cuddly happy content family after Sasuke finished his top secret away-from-home mission. I mean, action-y stuff are great but I just need domestic moments between these three 'cause c'mon, they deserve to be a normal family this time. Give Papa Sauce a break, man.
Set roughly a year after the Boruto movie.
Sarada is 11 in Gaiden, I assume she's 12 in the movie, so for this fic, she should be 13 years old.
He came home one uneventful evening.
Sakura was in the kitchen finishing up their dinner and Sarada was preparing the table. While Sakura had just finished her shift in the hospital and Sarada's genin mission and training with Team Konohamaru was done for the day, it didn't surprise them when the doorbell rang early that evening. It didn't happen everyday, but it was a common occurrence that a messenger would come and Sakura would have to answer to a request for her presence elsewhere. It came with her position in the hospital and her reputation as one of the best medic nin in the village. They were both used to this.
This time, the woman was busy cooking, so she called out to her daughter. "Sarada, would you get the door, please?"
The girl had just finished her task - two sets of plates and utensils on the table. She said "Hai, Mama." and obeyed dutifully.
Sakura listened intently, expecting Sarada to call out to her and say that she was needed in the hospital or something along those lines.
Instead, she heard her daughter's delighted shout of "Papa!" and Sakura froze.
She let go of the ladle she was stirring the miso soup with and went to follow her daughter to the front door. She was met by the sight of Sarada turning towards her with a big grin, the girl's arms clinging loosely to a familiar figure's waist. Sasuke raised his head and looked back at her with a small smile on his face, his hand resting on their daughter's head as he said, "Tadaima."
Sakura smiled back, walking towards her husband and her daughter. She reached out to rest a hand on Sasuke's cheek, then she finally said, "Okaeri."
Sarada smiled up at her parents, then stepped back to let her father inside. Before Sasuke can pick up the traveling bag that rested by his feet, Sarada had picked it up as Sakura ushered him in.
"So what brings you home?" Sakura asked, closing the door behind them. Sarada had gone ahead and carried the bag towards the living room, holding it like a hostage.
"I have news for the Hokage, a report on my mission." Sasuke said, intentionally vague. "But I wanted to drop by here first."
"Perfect timing! I'm making dinner. You go report to Naruto after." she said, voice firm, leaving no room for arguments.
"I'll set another plate!" Sarada announced happily as she dumped Sasuke's bag on the couch before bounding towards the kitchen ahead of her parents.
Sakura hurried back towards her cooking then, adding ingredients now that they had another person joining them. Sasuke took off his cloak and laid it out on the couch with his bag, then also took his sword and put it down with the rest of his things.
As Sakura sped up her cooking, she glanced at her husband and asked, "This news of yours - is it good or bad?"
Sasuke regarded her shortly, then looked at Sarada who was also watching him intently. "Good." he said. "It's good news."
His wife and his daughter both beamed at him then, and he didn't fight the small smile he returned.
Over dinner, Sarada talked about her day in training, Sakura shared some stories about her day in the hospital and Sasuke obliged them with short answers to questions about his trip home. The question of 'How long are you staying this time?' didn't come up. All of them knew that the answer depends on how his meeting with the Hokage will turn out, and also because they didn't want to think about him leaving just yet.
After dinner, Sakura and Sarada saw him off with encouraging, hopeful smiles in their faces. They told him to say 'hi' to Naruto for them as Sakura handed her husband a house key, and Sasuke answered with his usual, "Aa." as he accepted.
He told them not to wait up for him.
The lights were out when he came back. The house was silent as Sasuke shed his cloak and made his way towards the bedroom.
He stopped momentarily when he saw Sakura and Sarada curled up together on one side of the bed, keeping enough space free for him.
Smiling to himself, he changed into more comfortable clothes before joining them under the comfort of the covers, lying on his side so he can watch his wife and daughter sleep. He raised his hand and brushed strands of raven hair from Sarada's face. The girl shifted a bit as his fingers lingered on her pale cheeks, but remained fast asleep. When he lifted his eyes from his daughter's face, it was only to meet his wife's sleepy gaze.
"Hey." Sakura whispered, and she smiled hazily when Sasuke leaned over to press a kiss on her forehead. "How did it go?"
"It's done." he answered just as quietly. "We'll be alright now."
"That's the best news I've heard in years." the rose-haired kunoichi said as she reached out to stroke his hair and then pull their daughter closer. "We'll tell Sarada tomorrow. Together."
"Aa. Together." Sasuke nodded, resting his arm over his wife and daughter, closing his eyes and allowing peaceful sleep to claim him.
In the morning, Sarada woke up alone on her parents' bed, to the sounds of bustling in the kitchen. She rushed downstairs, finding her father setting the table and her mother serving breakfast.
When they told Sarada the good news, that Sasuke won't have to leave anytime soon (at least until he was given a new mission, and Naruto himself said he'll make sure his best friend gets the break he deserves), the girl smiled the brightest smile Sakura had ever seen in her daughter.
Over the past year, Sasuke had stayed home for short periods of time, mostly when he comes back with an update for the Hokage about his mission, to deliver a scroll or news that he couldn't simply send by falcon. He would often stay with his family for a week or two before leaving again.
During his idle time, their little family of three tried to make the most of his presence. Sarada would rush home from training with her team, Konohamaru knowing why his student was so eager and sometimes even deciding to end their sessions earlier. Sakura would take earlier shifts in the hospital so she'll be home by late afternoon or early evening, everyone else familiar with the kunoichi's workaholic nature understanding that there must be a reason if she was intent on spending more time at home. Sasuke, who usually spends his break training, meditating, meeting with Naruto or restocking his supplies always made sure he would be home when Sakura and Sarada were there.
On those few days together, they always made an effort to do things together: house chores, going out for dinner, grocery shopping, watching the television… Sakura and Sarada easily accommodating Sasuke in their lifestyle to make their mother-daughter combo now a unit of three. Sasuke hardly ever denied them anything during this time, eager to spent as much time with his family as possible. They kept to the little things, the things that won't change too much when Sasuke left again.
This was why Sarada was surprised when one afternoon a few days after Sasuke's years-long top-secret mission had officially ended, she went home to find her father laying out newspaper on the living room floor and her mother conveniently carrying their couch over her head (as if it weighted nothing - typical) to move it across the room.
She had gone home before to her parents trying to cook a foreign dish, or looking through old photo albums, or repairing some things around the house, but she had never gone home to find them looking like they were about to re-do a whole room.
"Um, what's happening?" she asked.
"Sarada!" Sakura greeted, putting down the couch on one corner of the living room, pushing it up against other furniture. "We're doing a makeover on our living room! We're repainting the walls."
Sarada raised an eyebrow. "Why?"
"I asked her that, too." Sasuke mumbled, but kept on laying out the newspapers on the floor. Sarada noted the cans of paint in the corner.
"They look too bleak." Sakura answered, hands on her hips. Sarada bet that the bunch of furniture pressed and stacked against each other on the corner was her mother's doing. "I mean, it's this dull BLUE color all along and I never really noticed. We can do much better with a brighter color! Like cream, or yellow, or-"
"Pink?" Sarada asked, narrowing her eyes. "You wanted to paint my room pink once." She loved her mother's hair, but she liked the cool light blue color of her bedroom wall.
"Ah, no no, not pink. Papa firmly said 'no' to pink." Sakura pouted, side-eyeing her husband.
"Nothing against your hair." Sasuke insisted, in his own monotone way. Then as an afterthought, he added, "I like your hair." - knowing that it would appease his wife greatly.
Sakura smiled sweetly, a blush on her cheeks.
Sarada turned back towards her mother. "So… what color, then?"
"Light green!" Sakura chirped cheerfully as Sasuke opened a can of paint and the smell filled the room. "I thought it'll be refreshing. And it's almost spring, too. It's bright but not as cold as this dreary dead blue color, it won't clash too much with our furniture, and it won't hurt your Papa's eyes."
Sasuke grunted in the corner, but despite himself, has already picked up the brush and dipped it in the paint. He looked to Sakura for affirmation, and she gestured for him to proceed.
Wordlessly, Sasuke turned back towards the wall. He started with one tentative vertical stroke, and looked at the color critically. He turned towards his wife and daughter again.
"It looks good." Sakura said, then she also looked at their daughter.
"I like it." Sarada declared, a small smile creeping on her face as she looked at the spot on the wall that her father had painted.
"Aa." Sasuke nodded. He took their words as their approval, and proceeded to paint with surer strokes this time.
"I wanna paint too." Sarada said, taking off her arm warmers. "Do we have another brush?"
"There's two more." Sasuke answered, cocking his head towards the painting supplies on one corner of the room.
Sakura instructed her daughter to wash her hands and change into one of her older shirts, and Sarada was quick to obey, excited to help. The girl was back in no time, grabbing her own brush and standing beside her father, joining him in the task. Behind them, Sakura stood over the rest of the furniture, contemplating on how to rearrange them in the living room when the paint dried.
As Sarada started carefully painting in long vertical strokes, she tip-toed and leaned a bit towards her father. "It's almost the same shade as Mama's eyes." she whispered. "Is that why you picked it?"
Sasuke looked at her with his usual blank expression, then only shrugged and went on painting.
"Hmph." the girl huffed. "S'long as you don't say 'no', I'll take that as a 'yes'."
This time, Sasuke smirked.
That was when Sakura started talking again. "Maybe we can put the couch and TV there, arrange them closer so we can buy another shelf to put on the wall over there, for Sasuke-kun's scrolls and books and other things… Darling, you told me you've got some things you want to take home from the old Uchiha compound?"
"Just a few boxes from my parents' old house." Sasuke provided. "There are some pretty old things from the storage that we can sell for a good price."
"But you're keeping some of them, right?"
"It depends. I don't really remember everything left in there."
He didn't have to say that he hasn't gone back to that deserted part of the village since before he first left after the war. He didn't know what he'll find this time, but he hoped to at least salvage some things. There may even be some clan relics. It was a sort of closure, Sakura knew. Between his first trip away and then his years-long mission, he never had the time to properly close that chapter in his life. While he was intent on leaving the past behind, there were still parts of the old and fallen Uchiha clan that he would like to take with him as he starts over with his family.
"I remember there are some old books and training scrolls for the clan techniques. Those would be useful." he said absently, then turned to Sarada. "How would like learning the clan's fire release?"
Sarada looked up at her father and gaped. "You're going to teach me?"
Sakura smiled as she watched the exchange. Sasuke nodded at his daughter. "It's only fitting. And once you learn the first one, the others will come easy."
He had to step back when his daughter's hands flew up in the air as she cried out a happy "SHANNARO!" and promptly forgot that she was holding a paintbrush freshly-dipped in green paint.
Sakura broke into fits of laughter as she watched Sarada repeatedly apologize to her father while Sasuke awkwardly tried to rub green paint from his face and hair.
The next day, Sarada came home to find her parents carefully stacking up old books, scrolls and photo albums, and dusting off various ancient-looking trinkets and figurines on the new floor-to-ceiling bookshelf now on the corner of the repainted and rearranged living room.
For the first time since Sasuke's arrival, it finally sunk in on her that her Papa was really back. This time, for good.
People would think that from all the traveling when he hardly stayed put in one place for longer than a few days, Sasuke would suck at house chores. They often forget that he lived alone and had to look after himself after the Uchiha massacre and until he left Konoha, and even after that because Orochimaru's bases weren't exactly the most homey of places.
Truth was, he was quite competent at it. It was still taking some getting used to, but Sakura regularly depended on him to help. Sarada didn't question it whenever her mother asked for his assistance, or whenever her father simply wordlessly joined in the task.
It was only on one afternoon, eating a hearty lunch on a restaurant with Boruto, Mitsuki and the Ino-Shika-Chou trio, that she discovered that her family had an uncommon arrangement.
The boys were talking about hanging out somewhere after eating, and turned towards the girls to ask them if they want to join.
"I should go home soon." Sarada answered then, almost finished with her meal. It was still early in the afternoon, and her friends looked at her curiously. "Mama knows I have the afternoon off, so she asked me to stop by the grocery before going home because Papa's going to start doing the laundry after lunch and he might run out of detergent."
She blinked when they all looked at her in a mix of confused and surprised expressions.
"So… I have to go buy detergent, go home and help Papa because Mama still has work until around 5." she explained, just in case they didn't get it the first time.
It was Boruto who finally voiced out their question. "Sasuke-ji-chan does laundry?"
"Yes, that's what I said." Sarada raised an eyebrow. "Why are you guys looking at me like that?"
"My dad doesn't do laundry." Chouchou remarked absently.
"Same." came from Shikadai. Inojin also nodded. Mitsuki considered it before also making a noise of agreement.
"Well, Papa does." Sarada shrugged. "Is that weird?"
"I guess so..." Chouchou said with a shrug. "I mean, he's your dad."
Shikadai yawned. "My dad's too lazy to do anything, really. 'Sides, he's at Hokage Tower all day."
"My mom is in the hospital all day too." Sarada argued. "She still does house chores."
"Yeah, because she's your mom." Shikadai said.
This didn't sit so well with Sarada. "So you're saying, even if both your parents work all day, when they come home, only your mom does housework?"
At this, Inojin nodded, followed shortly by the others.
"Tou-chan works on the garden with kaa-chan when he's not busy." Boruto added. "But he doesn't do cleaning or laundry or dishes. Well... maybe dishes, sometimes."
Sarada just shook her head. "Well... Papa just got back from his long mission and he's taking a break so why not work on things at home, right? And Mama works all day in the hospital so sometimes she's tired so it's better if we help her. And won't things get done faster with three of us, not just Mama alone?"
This was always how Sarada saw things. She didn't find it strange that all three of them in the house always did the chores together. It just seemed like the more efficient and logical way to do things. It never dawned on her that it wasn't how most families did things.
After a while, Shikadai shrugged. "I guess that works too. Whatever."
"I can't imagine Sasuke-ji-chan doing laundry." Boruto mumbled.
They finished their meals and Sarada said goodbye to her friends before making her way to the grocery store.
When she got home, Sasuke was in the middle of sorting clothes, and when she said that she had extra detergent, he nodded and said, "Thanks, Sarada."
Sarada changed into more comfortable clothes and they began their chore. Sasuke was quiet, listening to Sarada as she talked about her mission with Boruto and Mitsuki this morning, and then lunch with Inojin, Shikadai and Chouchou.
In the middle of their task, Sarada asked, "Papa, why do you help with housework?"
He looked at her with the same questioning look that she must have sent her friends earlier. He looked like he didn't understand why she had to ask.
Slowly and tentatively, as if answering a trick question, he said, "Why shouldn't I help with housework?"
Sarada nodded, a satisfied grin on her face. "That's what I said, too."
When Sakura came home, she couldn't help but giggle at the proud looks in her daughter's and husband's faces as they told her that they finished doing the laundry all by themselves.
Sarada was quick to master the Uchiha's trademark Great Fireball Technique, and as soon as Sasuke lent her an old scroll of the other katon techniques for her to study, she happily accepted and went straight to her room to start pouring over it.
Sasuke just stood by the bottom of the staircase as he watched his daughter disappear into her bedroom. "If you have any questions-"
The girl's distant voice quickly finished for him, "-yeah, I'll come ask you!"
He was surprised at how excited she was, but could understand her enthusiasm anyway. After all, besides the Sharingan, the katon techniques were also hallmarks of the Uchiha clan. Sasuke was about to turn around and walk away when he heard his daughter's voice again, and the sound of feet scrambling on the floor: "Ah, wait! I forgot!"
Sasuke stayed by the bottom of the staircase for all of five seconds, until Sarada came running in, glomped on him and kissed his cheek. "Thanks, Papa!" - and fast as she came back, she had disappeared upstairs again.
Sasuke let a bemused smile cross his features before shaking his head and going back to the living room. It was an early weekend, and he had nothing to do as Sarada studied and Sakura was in the hospital - so he picked up one of the scrolls they got from the old compound, sat on the couch, and then started reading.
He looked up when the front door opened and he heard his wife's familiar voice. "Tadaima." - he frowned, hearing that the greeting sounded strained.
As she walked in the living room, he put down his scroll and said, "Okaeri. Are you alright?"
"Just a bit tired." Sakura smiled, seeing his furrowed brows as she ran a hand through her hair and sat on the other side of the couch. She was called to report to the hospital at around 5 in the morning for something urgent, a Konoha shinobi needing emergency surgery after a mission gone awry.
Without being prompted, Sasuke stood up and said, "I'll make tea."
"Thank you, Sasuke-kun." she said as he made his way to the kitchen to make the tea. As he prepared, she spoke up again. "Where's Sarada?"
"Upstairs, studying. I gave her the scroll about the katon techniques."
"She's done mastering the first one."
Sakura chuckled. "Mm. Well, that's our girl."
After a bit, Sasuke returned with a warm cup of tea. Sakura accepted it gratefully. She had shuffled closer to where he had been sitting, looking curiously on the scroll he left open on his side of the couch.
"Chakra control practice for the Sharingan?" Sakura asked after a sip from her tea. Sasuke lifted the scroll, sat on the couch beside her and laid it on his lap.
"Sarada has your skill. She'll find this useful." Sasuke said, looking thoughtfully at the scroll.
Sakura only nodded before sitting closer to her husband and reading from the scroll along with him. Sasuke shifted, leaning comfortably against the couch's armrest so Sakura can relax by his side.
"There are notes in it." she commented, reaching out a hand to point at the small messy scrawls on the side of the original writing.
"Aa." Sasuke said. "It's Itachi."
Sakura smiled gently, taking another sip of her tea. After that, she put the cup down on the coffee table, then curled up next to him and leaned her head on his shoulder. She sighed a heavy, relaxed sigh and Sasuke blinked down at her. "Don't mind me. Keep reading." she yawned. "I'll... take a nap."
Instead, Sasuke set his read aside. He wrapped his arm around the woman as he eased the two of them on a more comfortable position on the couch. He was now half-lying on the couch with his feet propped up, Sakura's head pillowed against his chest as she laid between his legs, hugging him loosely.
She fell asleep to gentle fingers running through her hair and tickling her cheek. Several moments later, he also found his eyelids dropping and he started leaning down and letting himself also fall asleep.
Sasuke didn't know how many minutes or hours have passed since he and Sakura both fell asleep on the couch. All he knew was that he hazily woke up to the sound of scrambling feet against the floor again, to Sarada walking towards them, face buried in the scroll.
"Papa, I can't understand this one part, and there's a note on the side about-"
The girl stopped talking when she looked up and saw her parents curled up together on the couch, with Sasuke looking ruffled as he lifted his index finger to his mouth, then pointed at Sakura, who was fast asleep against him.
Sarada blinked, then asked in a quieter voice, "Is Mama okay?"
"She's fine, just resting." Sasuke answered softly. "What is it?"
"This, uh..." Sarada looked at the open scroll on her hands, then at her parents lounging so comfortably on the couch, and she shook her head. "Actually, I'll just try to read it again. Maybe I can figure it out."
Sasuke blinked. "Are you sure?"
"Yeah." Sarada said, smiling this time. Since Sasuke started spending time at home with them, Sarada had never doubted her parents' affection for each other, but things like this didn't happen all too often. It was really nice to see them being so open. "Go back to sleep, Papa. I'll wake you up when we have to make dinner."
Sasuke looked at his daughter for a moment before he relaxed again and nodded.
The girl stepped back and turned to go back to her room, a satisfied grin on her face.
After a while, Sasuke started accepting short, simple shinobi missions again. Mostly small, withdrawn tasks: a short-handed facility in the village needing an extra guard, accompanying some chuunin on a mission that needed at least jounin-level supervision, or filling in the empty slot needed for a four-man team. He would be away for a day or two at most. It was nice to have something to do besides training, housework and reading.
That day he came home to a quiet house after a simple escort-and-guard mission with a group of chuunin that took two days on the road. He had already gone with them to report to Naruto, and then dropped by the hospital to check up on Sakura, who was busy and told him that she'll be staying until late evening and he and Sarada shouldn't wait up for her.
"I'll see if we can bring you dinner." was all he said, and Sakura thanked him before rushing with the others to resume her work.
When he got home, he saw Sarada's shoes by the doorway. As he was kicking off his nin-sandals, he heard a crashing noise from the bathroom.
Sasuke rushed to the source of the noise only to find Sarada fumbling with the medical kit on the bathroom floor. The girl looked up sharply when her father opened the door, and blinked up at him. "P-Papa!"
"What's wrong?" he asked, voice urgent, assessing the scene. Sarada was sitting on the floor, her hands on an open medical kit. Then, he saw the partially wrapped bandages on her right arm, and the blotches of red on them.
"A-Ah, I was trying to get some bandages to replace this one since it's dirty now, but my hand slipped and I dropped the kit-"
He was beside her in an instant, kneeling with her on the bathroom floor and carefully unwrapping the used bandages. There was a gash on her arm, still bleeding slightly, and several smaller cuts surrounding it. "What happened?"
"It's from the mission. It's fine, it doesn't hurt anymore." she waved it off easily, then laughed a bit. "You should see Boruto, though! That idiot-"
"Have you cleaned it properly?"
Sarada then saw the worried expression on her father's face. "Yeah. Mitsuki helped and wrapped it up really nicely. It's just... the bandages are now sweaty and sticky from the trip home, so…" she trailed off, smiling reassuringly at him. "It's really fine now, I can wrap it up myself."
He shook his head, taking the uninjured part of her arm and tugging on it a bit. "Take off those bandages and sit over there." he said, gesturing towards the toilet.
Sarada fell silent and complied, gingerly sitting on the toilet seat and watching as her father shrugged off his cloak and took his glove off. He quickly washed his hand on the nearby sink and then stepped towards her again.
Sarada's eyes widened when his father's hand hovered over her wound and glowed a familiar light green. Sasuke's visible eye was narrowed in obvious concentration.
A few moments later, when the wound have started to close, Sarada asked, "Papa, you also know healing jutsu?"
"Just this one." he answered. "I asked your mother to teach me while we traveled together. We both thought it would be useful."
"She said this is difficult to learn." Sarada said, recalling what her mother told her about the jutsu. "It requires really good control to not waste chakra while healing."
"It does." Sasuke said, and this time Sarada watched a small wistful grin cross his features. "Your mother let me cheat, to use the Sharingan to study it."
"Oh." the girl nodded. "Mama doesn't always heal me like this, though. She only uses it for the bad ones."
He looked at her in question and she continued, "She said I shouldn't learn to be too dependent on medical jutsu, and as a shinobi, I should learn to be able to endure the smaller wounds like this."
Sasuke considered that and knew that his wife had a point. "That's true."
"She also told me it's not always good to rush things. Wounds take time to heal and sometimes it's better to let things run its natural course." the girl recited, with the air of someone who obviously didn't think too hard about the lesson, but kept it close to heart for safekeeping. "It's pretty deep."
Sasuke nodded at that.
"Is that part about you, Papa?"
The wound has fully healed now, so Sasuke withdrew his hand and looked at his daughter. "Maybe. Your mother is a wise woman, her words don't always have one fixed meaning."
"Hm." Sarada mused, looking at her healed arm with a smile. "So why did you heal me using medical jutsu, then?"
He stood up, picking up his discarded coat and glove. "Maybe I was trying to see if I still know how to do it."
Sarada snorted at the lame excuse, watching him exit the bathroom. Hurriedly, she picked up the medical kit and tucked it back to their cabinet safely. Then she ran after her father. "You know, she might scold you because you didn't do what she said, about the natural course thing."
Sasuke gave her a confident smirk. "Will you tell her?"
The girl grinned, raising an eyebrow. "Papa, you're being sneaky..."
He shrugged, only telling his daughter to wash up so they could get started in making dinner, and maybe they could deliver her mother's meal to the hospital together.
It was a lazy summer afternoon and Team Konohamaru was supposed to spend it training. Konohamaru left the kids saying that there was a jounin meeting he was supposed to attend. But after trying to practice throwing kunai and shuriken for a good half an hour (that was their only option, really - sparring was out of the question under the blazing heat), the kids decided to give up. It was just too friggin' hot outside, and they just wanted to go home and cool off.
The three kids were walking on the streets of Konoha when Mitsuki spoke up, "Sarada, those are your parents, right?"
Sarada looked up to see the backs of two familiar figures walking together several meters from them. One red and pink, one black and dark blue - both bearing the clan crest. Yep, those were her parents. Despite the heat, the girl ran quickly towards them and when she was only a few feet away, she exclaimed, "Mama! Papa!"
Boruto and Mitsuki watched as the two adults whirled around, only for Sarada to tackle them both in a hug.
"That was very affectionate." Mitsuki remarked. He'd only ever seen smaller children do that to their parents. The Uchihas didn't seem to mind, though.
"Yeah." Boruto said, noting the way Sakura draped an arm on her daughter's shoulders and Sasuke smiled at them both. If his available hand wasn't carrying a large paperbag, maybe he would have pat Sarada's head or ruffled her hair. Sakura and Sarada were talking as Sarada peeked on her parents' purchases, and it doesn't look like she will go back to her teammates. Boruto looked at his companion. "I guess this is her stop. Wanna grab some ice cream or something before going home?"
"Sarada is calling us." Mitsuki said.
Boruto turned to see Sarada waving towards the two of them, gesturing for them to come over. When he pointed at himself and Mitsuki in question, the girl rolled her eyes and shouted, "YEAH, WHO ELSE, IDIOT?!"
He flinched at her loud, high-pitched voice but he and Mitsuki jogged over the family anyway.
"Mama wants you to come over our house." Sarada said as soon as the two boys stopped in front of her, panting.
The two boys shifted awkwardly, suddenly conscious of their appearance. Because of the heat, Boruto had wrapped his jacket around his waist instead and just wore his white shirt with the sleeves rolled up, while Mitsuki had slipped off his long kimono sleeves and tied them around his waist as well, the black sleeveless shirt he wore underneath it in full view. They must look so haggard.
"Sarada says you kids are free for the day." Sakura continued for her daughter, her smile friendly and maternal as she lifted up the large plastic bags she was carrying, two delicious-looking watermelons standing out among her purchases of various fruits. "We found lots of fruits on sale in the market today, and we got some ice cream. We're having anmitsu! Would you kids like to join?"
The promise of cold sweets had the two boys' mouth watering instantly and they exchanged a single look before both of them bowed politely and said, "Thank you very much for having us, Uchiha-san!"
Sakura was pleased when both boys offered to carry her bags for her. Sarada smirked when they were surprised at the surprisingly heavy weight of the bags, Boruto even mumbling a grudging, "I should have known..."
They took the dining table outside, under the shade of a tall tree in the backyard. The kids sat on a wooden bench while the adults stood on the opposite side of the table. Boruto and Mitsuki curiously watched as Sakura and Sarada took out various fruits and sweet snacks from the plastic bags. Sasuke came towards them with a cool container of jelly that Sakura made that morning before they went out. After that, he went back inside and then returned with a bowl of cold shiratama dango.
"Alright, let's get started! There's a lot of us so we'll be done in no time." Sakura said, hands on her hips. She then proceeded to hand over the various items on the table to her companions. "Sarada, you and Papa go cut the watermelon. Boruto-kun, cut this jelly into cubes. Mitsuki-kun, help me peel and cut the other fruits, will you? Let's start with the bananas."
"H-Hai!" the boys replied, a bit flustered at suddenly being given a task by the woman, but moving quickly to obey. They were familiar with anmitsu, but always as a snack they ordered on food stalls or restaurants. They've never really made one by themselves before.
Sarada looked in amusement as Boruto focused hard on slicing the jelly as neatly and precisely as possible, while Mitsuki meekly peeled fruit after fruit before gingerly handing them over to Sakura. She quite liked them like this - all shy and polite and afraid to screw up in front of the woman they knew as one of the strongest kunoichi in the five great nations.
Then Sarada heard her father's voice call her name softly and turned to her own task. She held the watermelon in place as Sasuke sliced the fruit. After the watermelon has been sliced into manageable pieces, she took her own knife and with her father, began cutting the fruit into smaller slices to include in the anmitsu as well.
As Sakura had predicted, they were done preparing the ingredients quite quickly.
Sasuke went to the house and returned with a stack of bowls and some utensils before disappearing again. Sakura and Sarada began placing the jelly, fruit slices and dango on the bowls. Sasuke returned with the anko, kuromitsu and a tub of vanilla ice cream and Sakura easily added those on the bowls to finish the treat while Sarada put all the leftover jelly, fruits and dango on a bigger serving bowl for everyone.
The boys watched in fascination while they did this. The three moved like a unit, really - surprisingly in sync even while Sakura was just humming to herself, Sarada was talking about what the team did that morning and Sasuke wasn't talking at all. Maybe that's what happens when they do almost everything together, even the housework.
Boruto also thought it was weird seeing his former mentor doing such a trivial task as preparing dessert, but Sasuke seemed pretty content with what he was doing. In fact, Boruto thought the man might be expressing his own version of being cheerful. He remembered his father saying that his Sasuke-ji-chan wasn't good at showing emotions.
When the snack was ready, everyone clapped their hands in victory (with Sasuke nodding approvingly, looking impressed with their homemade dessert) and all of them said "Itadakimasu!" as they all picked up their bowls and then started eating.
Needless to say, the cold treats were heavenly in the sweltering summer heat.
"Mm! It's great, Mama!" Sarada exclaimed, delighted. She turned towards her friends and almost choked when she saw a slightly teary-eyed Boruto.
"I can't believe I helped make this…" the blonde sniffed a bit. "It tastes so good…" Sakura laughed - the boy was too much like his father sometimes.
"It's very delicious." Mitsuki followed, ever polite and thoughtful. "Perhaps it's true what they say about homemade food really tasting the best."
"Of course it does!" Sakura beamed at the kids. "And it's more fun when you make it together. Ne, Sasuke-kun?"
They all turned towards Sasuke, who was about to pop a slice of kiwi on his mouth. The man looked at the kids for a second and then nodded. "Aa."
"Do you do this often?" Mitsuki asked Sarada quietly while Sakura talked to Sasuke about buying fruits again while they were still available on the market. "Make snacks together in your backyard?"
"Not really." Sarada answered between bites of her food. "But we always cook together. In the kitchen. Inside the house. Is that weird too?"
Mitsuki shook his head. "No. I think it's nice. If Konohamaru-sensei was here, he'll praise your teamwork."
Sarada laughed. "Yeah, we got good teamwork, I guess."
This time it was Boruto who asked, "Why are they doing that?"
Sarada and Mitsuki looked up to see what Boruto was asking about. The girl chuckled when she saw her mother taking strawberries from her father's bowl and putting the slices on her own. He was doing the same, but with the kiwi slices. They kind of looked like children playing with their food…
Sarada explained in a whisper, "Papa doesn't like sweets very much."
"But he agreed to make anmitsu?" Boruto raised an eyebrow.
"Well, Mama can get him to agree to all sorts of stuff." Sarada shrugged, watching as Sasuke beat Sakura to the last slice of strawberry on his bowl and before she could speak, he popped the fruit into her mouth. Sakura laughed, and in turn tried to feed him some kiwi. "She says I do it better than her, though. I don't get it."
"I do." Mitsuki said with a mysterious, knowing smile. His teammates looked at him. He just grinned at them and said, "The jelly is really tasty. What is jelly made of?"
Sarada shot him a strange look before answering, "It's made from seaweed."
Sakura and Sasuke watched and listened as Sarada, between bites, explained to Boruto and Mitsuki how jelly was made.
Pretty soon the kids were already scooping seconds from the serving bowl, being more picky with what to put in their bowls this time - Sarada picking mostly banana and strawberry, Boruto hogging the watermelon slices, Mitsuki scooping lots of jelly and kiwi. Sakura was pleased that they were enjoying the dessert very much as they topped their bowls with anko, kuromitsu and ice cream again.
"Maybe we can make shaved ice tomorrow." Sakura mused, catching everyone's attention. She smiled guiltily when Sasuke sighed, but then he shrugged, and she knew he was down with it. So she turned towards the three kids and almost choked because they were looking at her like she was some kind of goddess. "You should come over again, Boruto-kun, Mitsuki-kun. Bring Konohamaru along. Oh, and your sister! I remember Hinata saying Himawari-chan likes cold sweets..."
The boys beamed and nodded obediently: "Yes, ma'am!"
"Mama, Papa, have you ever flown a kite?" Sarada asked over one dinnertime.
Sakura was the first to answer, like always - "Well, um… no. But when I was little, I used to watch the other kids - mostly the boys - fly kites."
Sasuke answered promptly. "Once or twice when I was a boy. With my brother."
Sakura smiled, imagining little Sasuke and young Itachi being normal close-knit brothers before the tragedy happened. She looked at her daughter then, "Why do you ask, sweetie?"
"We were on a mission on another village - and when we finished the job, a lot of the little kids asked us to play with them. So we did, because Konohamaru-sensei was still busy talking with the other grownups. Then the kids took out their kites and Boruto played with them, but Mitsuki and I had no clue what to do." the girl laughed bashfully.
Sasuke and Sakura shared a look between them before Sakura said, "Alright, let's make one and fly it on… hm, Sunday? Sunday sounds good, I don't have hospital duty on Sunday. You don't have a mission on Sunday, do you, darling?"
"None. Sunday's good." Sasuke answered solemnly.
Sarada looked at her parents, eyebrows raised. "W-What?"
"We're going kite-flying on Sunday." Sakura repeated, looking very enthusiastic at the prospect. "That should be interesting. I've never flown a kite before. Will we make our own kite, Sasuke-kun?"
Sasuke thought about it first, and after a while, he said, "I guess. Make something sturdier than the ones in stores."
"You can pick up materials tomorrow afternoon and we can start building. The ones you flew with Itachi, what did those look like?"
"Plain blue with the Uchiha crest."
"Won't that look too conspicuous nowadays?"
"We should just make a different one." Sasuke considered. "Maybe a falcon."
"Sounds good." Sakura nodded approvingly. "So it's going to be brown, then?"
Sarada looked at them, perplexed. The plan was too abrupt, sounding too impulsive for both her level-headed parents. Also, they both sounded oddly like they're rushing to do it in the soonest possible time. Like parents who were eager to give their kid something she always wanted but that they couldn't give before-
Wait. That was exactly what was happening.
It's not really about the kite, Sarada realized. She doesn't complain about it anyway but all three of them knew they missed some valuable moments that they could have spent together growing up. So this time, they were eager to 'catch up', no matter how late it was. It didn't even matter if she was too old to be asking for some of those things. She bet that if she had said she wanted to go fishing, that was what her parents would be planning right now.
Well, she decided - if they were determined, she was happy to cooperate.
"Can I help make the falcon kite?" she asked.
Her parents looked at her, Sasuke with a small quiet smile on his face, Sakura with her bright grin. The woman chuckled. "Was there ever a doubt about that, Sarada?"
"Uhhh, what happened to you?" Naruto asked that Monday, when Sasuke turned up in his office to be handed a mission.
Sasuke's eye twitched in annoyance. "Shut up."
"I won't give you your mission." Naruto challenged, trying not to laugh. Sasuke was rarely pissed off these days - this one should be something.
"That's an abuse of authority." the raven-head accused, glaring this time.
Naruto has always been persistent, though - "Not if the Hokage is concerned about why one of his shinobi has a broken nose even before starting a mission."
Sasuke rolled his eyes, then spoke darkly - "We went kite-flying and somehow I tripped face-first into the ground. Sakura won't heal it because she thinks it's funny."
Naruto burst out laughing as he handed Sasuke his mission scroll.
Sasuke didn't mention that he didn't want to heal himself either because he actually liked watching Sakura's and Sarada's amused, happy faces whenever they looked at the patch on his nose.
When Sarada woke up that morning and went downstairs, her father was in the kitchen, preparing breakfast alone.
"Ohayou, Papa." she greeted softly, rubbing her eyes and she sat on a chair.
"Ohayou." Sasuke greeted back softly, serving the food on the table before fetching drinks from the fridge.
Sarada looked around sleepily as she started her meal. "Where's Mama?"
"Still sleeping." her father replied, pouring her a glass of water. "Let's have her rest for the morning."
"What time did she come home?" the girl asked then, frowning. She remembered falling asleep the previous night with her mother still in the hospital.
She saw a matching frown on her father's face as well. "About two hours ago." Sasuke answered curtly as he sat with his daughter and also started eating.
"Oh… are the people in the hospital okay now?" - because Sarada knew why her mother had to stay up until almost morning. They were having dinner the previous night when they received the news of a fire breaking out on a neighboring village's hospital. The Hokage sent all of Konoha's available medic nin and a large number of shinobi to come to the rescue and help transfer the patients who require the most medical attention and equipment to the Konoha hospital. Sasuke and Sakura were among the ones who answered the call.
"You know she wouldn't have gone home unless that was the case." was Sasuke's answer to his daughter's question.
Sarada went to the hospital late the previous night, where Sakura and Shizune were busy trying restore order and accommodate as many additional patients as possible. When she saw her child, Sakura had insisted that the girl should come back home - she should get some rest because Sakura was sure that Naruto will be dispatching shinobi to provide assistance and deliver relief goods for the neighboring village the next day, most probably the indisposed genin and chuunin teams. Reluctantly, Sarada went home, seeing her mother's point. She stayed up until Sasuke came home, assuring her that the situation was under control, all the work now left was in the hospital. He said the same thing Sakura did - that relief operations will resume in the morning and that the genin and chuunin will probably be needed by then.
Remembering that part, Sarada ate her breakfast with more vigor. She needed energy if she and her team were to help the other villagers. "Is Mama going back to the hospital soon?"
"Not until afternoon. She told me Yamanaka is in-charge for the meantime." as he caught the worried look on his daughter's face, he continued, "This has never happened before?"
Sarada shook her head. "Sometimes she stays there until morning too, but it's not this bad. Not with the hospital all full of people like that."
Sasuke nodded, understanding. "Don't worry. Your mother is immensely strong. Back in the war, she singlehandedly healed a whole platoon of shinobi. She will breeze through this one." The girl looked at him - obviously she hadn't heard of that certain feat. To assure her further, Sasuke added, "And I won't let her go back to the hospital until she's properly rested."
At this, Sarada smiled and nodded. They ate the rest of the breakfast in silence, until Mitsuki came knocking on their door, telling Sarada that he was there to fetch her and they have a mission. "Konohamaru-sensei went to get Boruto. We'll be meeting up at the village gates."
Sarada didn't have to ask what the mission was - she simply hurried to her room to place all her necessities on a backpack.
Sasuke walked her to the door and handed her a wrapped bento. "Take care." he said, and after a moment's pause, he also nodded at her white-haired teammate. "Both of you, and Boruto."
Mitsuki smiled and bowed.
Sarada gave him a quick hug before stepping back. "Hug Mama for me!" - and then they were off to their mission.
Sakura woke up at noon, hurriedly but sleepily trudging down the stairs. She found Sasuke bustling around the kitchen. "Sasuke-kun?"
He glanced at her once before going back to his task. "Sit down, lunch is almost ready. I'll get you some tea."
She yawned, walking towards him slowly and then hugging him from behind just as he was pouring some hot water for her tea. "Where's Sarada?"
Sasuke chuckled, putting the kettle down and turning around to face her. "When she woke up this morning, she asked 'Where's Mama?'" She laughed lightly and he stroked her pink hair before they shared a short kiss. "She was sent with the others to help the villagers. Are you feeling fine?"
"I'm feeling great now after some sleep, thank you. I'm sure I'll feel super once I eat whatever you're cooking." she buried her face on his chest. "I should get back to the hospital ASAP."
"I dropped by while you were sleeping. Yamanaka said everything's under control. All the new patients have settled properly, and your teacher also arrived this morning."
Sakura blinked. "Tsunade-sama came?"
He nodded. "She told me you can take the day off and just go back tomorrow, since technically you did a double shift yesterday."
"Oh. That's nice."
"Sai was there as well. He told us the investigations show that it really was an accident with some old equipment. Naruto went with the genin and chuunin teams to visit and help."
"They'll be fine, then. I'm sure he would just Kage Bunshin his way to building a new hospital over there in no time." she laughed lightly, hugging him tighter and relishing in the warmth of his arm wrapped around her waist.
After a while, he said, "You're still going to the hospital today, are you?"
At that, Sakura couldn't help but chuckle. "You know me too well, Sasuke-kun." She looked up and saw him frowning down at her. "Aw, don't make that face! I'll be restless if I don't check up on the patients for at least a few hours!"
He sighed, closing his eyes before he nodded. "Be home for dinner."
"I promise." she said, leaning back a bit to make a show of her winning smile.
"Good." he said. "Now let me finish making your lunch."
The woman finally stepped around him to finish making her tea herself, letting him go back to fixing lunch. "You know… sometimes I think you're more 'Mama' than me."
"I love you too."
Uchiha Sasuke was not happy. It was early morning on a WEEKEND, he was out in the cold, it was snowing, and someone just threw a snowball on his head when he was not looking.
He glared at the two possible culprits, who were smiling at him with identical mischievous smiles, their cheeks both flushed, their fingers pointed at each other to take the blame away from themselves.
Really? - he thought, exasperated. He was woken up at six in the morning when his wife and daughter both shook him awake, covered him in layers of winter clothing and pulled him outside because "IT'S SNOWING, PAPA!" and "SASUKE-KUN IT'S SNOWING OUTSIDE!" and "LOOK THE BACKYARD'S COVERED IN SNOW!" and "WE HAVE TO BUILD A SNOWMAN!" only for one of them to throw a snowball on his head and for both of them to cover up who did it? Fine. If they were going to play this way...
Sakura and Sarada giggled as they took several steps backward when Sasuke crouched down and scooped up some snow from the ground and-… how the hell can he make such a fine snowball with just one hand?
They watched as he stood up straight, swung his arm back and slowly pose himself to throw. Sakura and Sarada prepared to step aside and dodge the incoming snowball, but all of a sudden Sasuke disappeared in front of them. They whirled around when he reappeared just behind them, dropped the snowball in his hand and then kicked the tree trunk beside him. The tree shook, and Sakura and Sarada squealed when they were showered with loads of snow that fell from the tree's branches.
"No fair, Sasuke-kun!"
"Papa, you cheater!"
Sasuke smirked, pleased while watching as the two hurriedly brushed away the snow from her head and shoulders. As expected, the two furiously picked up a handful of snow, quickly made a snowball out of it and threw the snowballs at him in perfect sync - with matching warcries of "SHANNARO!" He easily dodged both attacks, but had to move quickly because they began attacking him more, pelting him with snowball after snowball.
Pretty soon, he began throwing snow right back at them, and the three ran around their backyard having a snowball fight. Things got intense when Sakura started picking up her pace, moving faster and trying to catch or distract him so Sarada can land a hit. It gave Sasuke instant flashbacks to their genin days, the bell test: Kakashi-sensei evading his genin students who were trying to get the bells from his hands. This time he was the one who tried his best to avoid Sakura from pinning him down and Sarada from hitting him with a snowball.
"Dammit, Papa - just give it up!" Sarada shouted, panting now.
"Come on, Sasuke-kun!" Sakura said, trying to get a hold of his arm.
All he said was "No way." as he sidestepped to avoid his wife again. He was busy doing this so he was caught off guard when Sarada followed her mother's lead and instead of throwing another snowball, she launched towards him and tackled him. And by the look of it, unlike Sakura, Sarada would fall on her face if he dodged.
Of course, Sasuke wasn't about to let his daughter fall on her face, so he caught her. He was confident that he wasn't about to fall over with just the girl's weight, but then Sakura glomped at them and sent all three of them on a pile on the ground.
"Dammit." he cursed, giving up as he looked at his wife and child both sprawled on top of him, laughing.
"We win!" Sarada said, fists in the air as she sat up, straddling her father. Sakura rolled over to the side, hardly containing her giggles.
"You lose, Papa." the woman teased, reaching out and poking her husband's forehead. "Oh hey, you're on the ground! You know what that means?"
Sasuke frowned. "What?"
Both winners happily declared, "Snow angel!" and he rolled his eyes.
"Papa, start moving!" Sarada said, while, Sakura took it upon herself to grab his arm and move it against the snow.
"Last time I checked, snow angels have two-" but before he could finish, Sarada rolled off to his other side, laid on the snow with him and spread her right arm to form the other half of their snow angel.
"C'mon, Sasuke-kun - move your legs too." Sakura instructed. Sasuke just sighed and followed, fully convinced that his wife and their teenage daughter were both actual preschool children. They'll get tired soon and decide that they want to go back inside the house.
When Sakura deemed their snow angel acceptable, she stood up and helped pull Sasuke and Sarada up. The three of them stood side by side to look at their masterpiece.
The snow angel had two heads, and the right side was visibly much smaller than the left side.
Sasuke was the first one to speak up.
"It looks terrible."
He received matching jabs on his arm and side.
"You were saying, Papa?" Sarada asked sweetly.
This time he thought hard first before speaking. "We should go back inside and drink something warm."
"Good idea." Sakura nodded, looping one arm around her husband's and another around her daughter's shoulders.
The three walked back inside the house, huddled closely together.
Sasuke noticed that something was up the moment he had finished preparing breakfast and Sarada had still not shown up at the dining table. She was an early riser, he knew that. Sakura always told him their daughter got that from him. Sasuke also knew that making breakfast with one hand takes a much longer time than with three hands between him and his wife - so if things were normal, Sarada should have been up even before he had finished.
So he headed upstairs and knocked on his daughter's room. "Sarada, are you awake?"
There was no response, so he said, "I'm coming in." before turning the knob and stepping inside the room. Sarada was still sleeping with her back facing him, hugging her large pink bunny stuffed toy.
Sasuke sat on the edge of the bed and touched her shoulder, giving her a gentle shake. "Sarada? Wake up, you have training with the others today."
The girl stirred awake as she slowly turned towards him. "Papa?" she asked faintly, and Sasuke's eyes widened at the sight of her tired eyes and flushed cheeks. She sniffed, shivering slightly. "I feel awful."
He nodded, assessing the situation calmly, knowing he couldn't call on his wife to handle it. Sakura had left six days ago, on a mission that required her expertise on poisons, and he knew that she will be gone for longer because she also planned on stopping by Suna to check up on the children's clinic she built there years ago.
Sasuke brushed Sarada's bangs away and pressed his palm on her forehead. "You have a fever. Do you feel tired?"
"A bit. I don't… I don't feel like moving. My throat's sore." she closed her eyes and sniffed again as her father stroked her hair. He was running the symptoms in his head and had a particular condition in mind. Before he could voice out his thoughts, however, Sarada confirmed it for him: "I think I caught Boruto's stupid flu. We visited him yesterday."
"That explains a lot." he said, sighing. "You're staying home for the day. I'll get some water and medicine, then you're eating breakfast. I'll just make some soup to go with it. Do you want extra blankets?"
Sarada nodded weakly, her voice muffled by her stuffed animal.
"Alright." Sasuke said as he stood up, giving his daughter one last pat on the head before turning to leave the room.
He returned quickly with the blanket and helped the girl snuggle into it. After that, he headed for the medicine cabinet. He has never been so grateful that Sakura had put labels and short instructions on all the medicine in their supply. After bringing Sarada the water and medicine, he went to make some soup to add to her breakfast.
Thankfully, her flu doesn't seem to be so severe because she still has an appetite. She only winced a bit because of her sore throat, but after adding plenty of soup to her bites, she was eating properly.
While Sasuke watched her eat her breakfast, they heard the doorbell ring.
Sasuke opened the door to see Mitsuki standing there expectantly. "Ohayou, Uchiha-san." the boy greeted politely.
"Ohayou." he greeted back.
"Is Sarada home? She didn't turn up at our usual meeting place so Konohamaru-sensei asked me to check."
"She's sick, probably caught the flu from Boruto."
"Eh? She caught it?" Mitsuki blinked, frowning worriedly. "Is she alright?"
Sasuke saw the boy's genuine concern. "She'll be if she rests up properly for the day. She already took some medicine."
"Oh. I'll tell sensei she's staying home for the day." the boy nodded obediently. After a moment's hesitation, he also asked, "May I see her?"
Sasuke thought about this. "I think it's be better if you don't." It wasn't that he didn't like Mitsuki, but - "You might catch it. She caught Boruto's because you two visited him yesterday, correct? You might get sick as well."
"Oh..." Mitsuki looked down, disappointed but obviously understanding his point. "Then please tell her I wish she gets better soon."
"Aa. I'm sure she'll appreciate it."
The boy bid him another polite goodbye before leaving. Sasuke was in luck that the boy dropped by, really. He didn't feel like going out and telling Konohamaru himself.
Sarada smiled when Sasuke told her that Mitsuki came to fetch her, and agreed that it was better that he didn't see her. She was looking much better after the food and medicine - her cheeks a more natural color, her shivering lessened. She said her throat was still sore and there was still some aching in her joints.
"We'll just have you drink lots of water today." Sasuke said, picking up the tray of empty dishes. "You should sleep some more if you still feel tired. I'll come back with more water."
Sarada pulled her blankets around her tighter. "Can I stay downstairs? On the couch?"
Sasuke blinked. "You want to sleep on the couch?"
She nodded, looking down gingerly as she said, "I feel like I'll get sicker if I stay in bed."
Sasuke chuckled, earning him a scowl from his daughter.
"What?" she challenged. He had to hand it to her - even while she was down with the flu, she didn't lose the attitude. "I know it's weird-"
"No, it's just-" he stopped for a moment, before sighing and shaking his head. "Your mother's the same."
"Oh." the girl blinked. "Really?"
"She doesn't like staying in bed when she's sick. She'll insist on staying somewhere else."
"So I can stay on the couch?"
"You'll go there even if I say no."
When the doorbell rang early in the evening just as Sasuke was about to start making dinner, he assumed that it was probably Mitsuki again, to check up on Sarada or bring some news about the team. It could even be Konohamaru.
He didn't expect to find Hinata standing in their doorway, carrying a wrapped package in her arms, her young daughter standing beside her. Hinata smiled, but it was Himawari who greeted cheerfully, "Konbanwa, Sasuke-ji-chan!"
He managed a polite nod. "Konbanwa."
"I hope we're not intruding, but Mitsuki-kun stopped by the house earlier." Hinata said, a concerned frown on her face. "He said Sarada-chan caught Boruto's flu, and I know that Sakura-chan is away for a while. Is Sarada-chan doing fine?"
Sasuke nodded. "She slept a lot and drank plenty of water. She's feeling better now."
Hinata smiled again. "That's great to hear. I actually made some porridge for Boruto and I thought I'd make plenty enough for Sarada-chan as well. It's a recipe I got from Sakura-chan years back. The kids love it."
That was very nice of her, Sasuke thought, but then he really should have expected this from Hinata. After all, she fell for and married that idiot Naruto - she was practically a saint. Or blind. But she had porridge for his daughter, so Sasuke would go with saint.
"That's kind of you." he said, stepping aside. "Please come in."
Hinata and Himawari took off their sandals by the entryway. Sasuke offered to carry the porridge for her and she handed it to him as he led them to the living room where Sarada was wrapped up in blankets on the couch with her nose on a book.
The sick girl looked up when Himawari bounded towards her and greeted her with a sweet, "Sarada-nee-chan!"
"Himawari-chan?" Sarada blinked as the other girl wrapped her in a warm hug. "A-ah, you shouldn't be touching me, you'll get sick too!"
"Don't worry, we had her get a flu shot when her brother came down with it."
Sarada looked up to see Sasuke heading for the kitchen with a wrapped package in his arms, and following him, Hinata walking towards her. "Hinata-san..."
"Himawari, why don't you help your Sasuke-ji-chan in the kitchen?" Hinata said gently, and Himawari quickly nodded and complied. The woman then sat on the edge of the couch and looked at Sarada. "How are you feeling, Sarada-chan?"
Sarada let the woman check her temperature and adjust the blankets snugly around her. "I'm feeling better now. My fever's gone down and I don't feel too dizzy anymore."
"That's certainly better progress than Boruto." the woman smiled, patting the girl's head. "He won't stay put and insists on moving around so his recovery is slower."
"Papa used a bit of healing jutsu to help with the headache. It also helped with the fever, I guess..."
Hinata looked surprised, but nodded in understanding. "That's good. You should be a lot better by tomorrow. I brought some porridge, your mom's recipe. I hope it helps."
"It will! Thank you, Hinata-san." Sarada smiled. The woman smiled back and then stood up, excusing herself to go talk to the girl's father.
Hinata found that Himawari had taken charge. Sasuke stood to the side as the little girl finished setting a bowl of porridge on a tray.
"I'll bring it to Sarada-nee-chan now." she told the man, beaming up at him.
Sasuke awkwardly nodded, then watched the girl carry the tray off.
Hinata laughed lightly as she stepped forward and watched her daughter walk off towards the living room. "I'm sorry, Himawari is unstoppable when she sets her mind on something."
"I wonder who she gets that from." Sasuke replied, a small smirk on his face. He never spent much time with the girl and he always assumed she'll be more like her Hinata, but now he saw that Himawari also had a great deal of Naruto in her.
"You did a great job taking care of her, Sasuke-kun." Hinata remarked, picking the cloth she used to wrap the pot of porridge with from the table. "She looks way better than Boruto. He won't sit still, always insists that he's not sick."
"Sarada is good at following instructions." Sasuke shrugged, watching her fold the cloth neatly.
"I figured. How long until Sakura-chan comes back?"
"A week, more or less." he answered as they stood by the kitchen doorway and watched as Sarada accepted the bowl of porridge from Himawari. Sarada took a sip and said that it was delicious, and Himawari proudly said that she helped make it. They laughed together when Himawari told Sarada that Boruto was still sick because he was being stubborn.
"Sarada-chan should be alright by then." Hinata said.
He nodded. "Thank you for the porridge, and for checking up on her."
"You're welcome." she stated, then placed a gentle hand on the man's arm. "And if you need any help with anything at all, feel free to call."
He offered the woman some tea, and told her that they were welcome to stay for dinner, but Hinata politely declined. He didn't insist, knowing that his guests needed to get back home in time for dinner with their own family.
Sarada thanked Hinata and Himawari for the porridge again as the two left.
"Feeling better?" Sasuke asked as he sat on the couch with his daughter.
"Much better." Sarada smiled. Sasuke made a mental note to have Sakura teach him how to make that porridge. It smelled really delicious and, knowing his wife, he was sure there were some medicinal herbs or ingredients in that recipe. "Maybe when I've fully recovered, we can make something for Hinata-san and Himawari-chan too."
"Or Mama would invite 'em for dinner."
"Aa. She would do that."
"I miss her." Sarada mumbled, looking down at the bowl of porridge. "She never left for this long before. I don't remember her being gone for more than a day…"
Sasuke fell silent, looking at his daughter as she stirred the porridge absently. Sarada was thirteen now, and she didn't react negatively when Sakura told them that she would be gone for at least two weeks. It never crossed Sasuke's mind that this might be a very new situation for Sarada, to be without her mother for several days.
"I know Mama likes to help a lot of people, so I always wondered why she never accepted long missions."
"Not even once?" Sasuke asked.
"Never. She even argued with the Hokage over it." Sarada chuckled, looking up at him. "But everything's better now. I think Mama know she can go on long missions because she knows you'll be here to look after me."
Sasuke knew Sakura loved their daughter dearly and that in his absence, she was the only parent Sarada had… but they also have a big extended family. Sarada has her teammates. There was no question that Hinata or Ino wouldn't hesitate to take Sarada in for a short period of time. Sakura would only have to ask. Knowing that she never did consider the option of anyone else looking after her daughter, Sasuke once again felt the familiar sense of guilt he carried, leaving his family all those years.
But things were better now, as Sarada said. He was here - and Sakura trusted him with looking after their daughter, a task she had never entrusted even to her best friends. Now he had no time for guilt. He only had time to make up for the years he lost and take care of Sarada as fiercely as Sakura did. He knew that his wife would expect nothing less from him.
So he pat his daughter's head and simply nodded. "How am I doing so far?"
She laughed. "You're not bad, Papa."
That was all he needed.
Whenever Sarada comes home in the afternoon and both her parents were around, she usually knew what they were up to. It has been almost a year since her father came home to stay for good. Their life has settled into a normal one these days.
Sometimes she comes home to sounds of activity in the kitchen and catch them preparing dinner early. Sometimes they'd be folding clothes or mopping the floors. Sometimes they would be doing maintenance on their weapons. There are times when Sarada would find them in the backyard and see them sparring. She liked watching them spar; they mostly used taijutsu and fought with weapons, and when they really got into it, Sarada couldn't even follow their movements anymore. Sometimes instead of sparring, they were just doing some meditation exercises (they told her it was good for chakra control, and sometimes Sarada joined them).
Sometimes, they would be sitting together on the couch, silently watching something on the television, or going through old photographs, or reading the newspaper or a book, or just simply talking (well, Sakura talks and Sasuke listens) over a cup of tea. Sarada liked these moments the best - she had never seen them so peaceful and content when they were just quiet in each other's company. Whenever she comes home to them like that, she usually joins them. She knew others would think that she was too old to snuggle up to her parents like so, but they never said anything about it and were always happy to squeeze her in between them.
Today, however, she found them sitting together on the couch and... tinkering with something on the coffee table. Some kind of dusty old-looking… machine? Equipment? Sarada was sure she had seen one of these on display somewhere, she just couldn't remember what it was… It looked like a square platform with some controls on the side, some kind of dial atop a flat black circular disk in the center, and a wind up lever on the side. Both Sakura and Sasuke seem to be moving parts of the machine experimentally, arguing among themselves that 'this goes this way' and 'that goes there'.
"Mama, Papa, what are you doing?" the girl asked, sitting on the armrest of the couch and looking over them curiously.
"We're trying to make this thing work." Sakura answered distractedly. "We found it with the other old stuff in the old compound and it's antique so we thought we'd go sell it, but we put it in our storage and sort of forgot about it."
Sarada nodded, watching as Sasuke moved the dial to hover on top of the black disk. The dial had what looked like a spindle pointing downwards, and he carefully pushed it down to touch the disk lightly. "What is it?"
"It's a record player." Sakura answered again.
"Record-… It can play music?"
Sakura nodded. "Yup. My parents used to have one of these too but they never really used it because it was already so old, they think it's broken anyway… and they already have the radio. This one belonged to your Papa's parents."
This time Sasuke spoke up as well. "Mother used to say that this is really old. It's only been passed down to them by my grandparents from my great-grandparents." Then he looked at his wife. "I think that should be fine now. Let's place the… horn… thing."
"Horn?" Sarada asked.
"This one." Sakura picked up what looked like a large horn from the floor. It was only a bit bigger than her head. Carefully, she attached the horn to the contraption. Thankfully it attached easily. "This is where the sound comes out of. It's like this thing's speakers."
"Okay… so what music will it play?"
"The music from this disk here." Sasuke tapped the black disk with a finger. "Four songs at most on each side. We don't know what songs, though. The print in the label has already faded."
"Alright, it looks complete now." Sakura announced happily. "Sasuke-kun?"
"Aa." he said, taking hold of the lever on the side of the player. "Let's hope it works." Then slowly, he moved the lever as if to wind it up like one of the old mechanical toys Sarada used to play with as a child.
Sarada watched in fascination as her father let the lever go and it began turning on the opposite direction as the disk started spinning, and then soft music came out from the horn.
"It works!" Sakura exclaimed, clapping her hands.
"Oh, so it's like a fancy music box!" Sarada remarked, impressed. She knew it looked familiar.
"Yep! I like it, it looks really classy." her mother mused. Then Sakura looked at her husband. "We can make it louder, right?"
He nodded, fiddling with the controls on the side of the player until the sound gradually grew louder. The three fell silent and listened. It was a slow, instrumental track. To Sarada it sounded really old, nothing like the songs she heard on the radio these days, but when she looked at her parents, she saw them looking at each other, both thoughtful.
"It sounds familiar." Sasuke commented quietly.
"It does." Sakura nodded, crossing her arms across her chest and closing her eyes. After a few seconds, she said, "Wait, I'm getting something."
Sarada and Sasuke both kept quiet, leaving Sakura to listen to the song. After a while, she started humming softly alongside the music as she recalled the familiar melody.
"I remember now! Mom and Dad used to dance to this!" she said, a grin slowly growing on her face. "It was a popular classic when we were kids! I bet your parents loved this too, Sasuke-kun… I remember that this was like every couple's favorite song for a time…"
"Maybe it is from that." Sasuke nodded. "Mother liked music, she would have listened to this one time or another."
"Wait, I think I remember some of the lyrics."
Sarada watched and listened as her mother hummed the melody again, trying hard to remember the words to the old song. But just then, the song ended, and another one started in its place.
At this, Sakura snapped up, surprised realization on her face. "I know this one!"
"It also sounds familiar." Sasuke shrugged. He was helpless when it came to music. It didn't help that the song was still purely instrumental. Sarada shrugged as well. Her friend Chouchou liked television and kept up with the new songs these days, but Sarada mostly preferred books and silence.
"It's an old classic like the first one and it's less popular, but this was my favorite song! Sasuke-kun, remember? I used to hum it whenever we have to wait for Naruto and Kakashi-sensei because they're late."
He thought for a while. "I don't know, you're always humming anyway." Sarada agreed with that - her mother was almost humming or whistling while working.
Sakura rolled her eyes. "I also used to sing Sarada to sleep with this when she was a baby."
Sarada raised an eyebrow. "I don't remember you singing."
Her mother sighed. "That's because when you got older, you demanded stories instead."
"I do. Remember." Sasuke mused, then turned towards their daughter. "Sarada, do you know that your Mama has a beautiful singing voice?"
Sakura then looked at him, blushing. "Sasuke-kun!" He just smirked as she slapped his shoulder.
"Mama, really?" Sarada asked. "You never sing. You just hum."
The woman turned towards her daughter and tried to explain, "W-Well, Papa is exagerrating! I can carry a tune, but I'm not really that good!"
"I wanna hear it anyway!" the girl insisted.
"Sarada wants to hear it." Sasuke chided, chin resting on her shoulder. Sakura blushed as she heard his voice so close to her ear.
Sarada exchanged a conspiratory look with her father, then she pulled out her best pleading puppy-eyed look as she moved to sit closer to her mother. "Pleeeeaaaaase, Mama?"
"You two are being too unfair." Sakura pouted, but took one look at her daughter beaming brightly and gave in. She breathed deeply and leaned back, taking her daughter's hands in hers. "Fine."
Sarada and Sasuke looked at each other in victory while Sakura listened to the instrumental finding her timing.
When she began singing, Sarada squeezed her mother's hands and shifted closer. Sasuke also smiled lightly as Sakura leaned back against his chest, his hands snaking around her waist.
"Getting tired of walking, the rain that began to fall.
I chase after the rabbit I couldn't catch."
Sarada had never really heard her mother sing before, and she had to agree with her father - she sang beautifully.
"Your eyes are like the clear water, breathing deep down in the ocean..."
Sarada had heard some popular singers and seen them perform on events and on television sometimes, and they were very good performers. But she liked her mother's simple singing to this old scratched and grainy record.
"Call me, call me. I'm here.
Where can I go? Where, so that I'm satisfied?"
She knew old songs tend to be poetic and cheesy, and this one had lyrics about rabbits and rain and ocean and coming back home.
She liked it, and she knew her father did too because he listened contentedly, leaning his head against Sakura's.
When Sakura finished her song, Sarada clapped her hands. "Mama, that was so good!"
Behind her, Sasuke nodded. "I told you so."
Sakura laughed, ruffling her daughter's hair and then drawing back at bit to look at Sasuke. "Both of you are just pulling my leg." she said, but Sarada saw her mother's free hand move to squeeze Sasuke's hand on her waist affectionately. "That wasn't anything special."
"Yes it was." Sasuke said, completely serious.
"Papa's right." Sarada said, turning around on the couch to lean back against her mother. Sakura wrapped her arms around the girl and pulled her close. The song has changed now, still an old-sounding instrumental track. "Do you know this one?"
"Not really." Sakura contemplated, leaning comfortably against her husband while she cradled her daughter against her. She was lucky that unlike most teenagers, Sarada never shied away from hugs and cuddles from her parents. "It sounds like something perfect for slow dancing, though. I remember my parents always dancing together. With the other couples. The grown-ups did that a lot, ne, Sasuke-kun?"
"Hn." Sasuke said, relaxing against them. "It was a trend back in the day."
"It doesn't seem to be a thing anymore nowadays." Sarada remarked curiously.
"Well, times change." Sakura shrugged.
"Do you know how to dance?" the girl asked.
"Me? Not really. I doubt your Papa knows how, either."
Sasuke sounded bored as he said, "They just look like they're swaying while hugging."
Sakura laughed, while Sarada looked up at them in question. "That sounds so weird."
"Papa's being weird." Sakura agreed, chuckling.
"What? It's true." Sasuke defended. "That's how it looked like to me."
"That's a pretty accurate description." Sakura said, amused. "But you make it sound unromantic, Sasuke-kun."
Sasuke just grunted, sounding unimpressed.
"Did you ever dance together?" Sarada asked them.
She got a simultaneous answer from both her parents. "No."
"You should." the girl said absently.
They fell into an awkward silence.
After a while, Sarada spoke up again, "So are we still selling it?"
Sakura shifted a bit to look at her husband. "Are we, anata?"
Sasuke looked at the record player thoughtfully. "Do you want to?"
"It's an heirloom… and still functional." Sakura considered. "It also looks good for display. We can put it on top of the shelf."
"So we're keeping it?" Sarada asked, smiling lightly. She's not a sentimental girl but there was something about the player that endeared her to it. Maybe it was just that she rarely got to hear anything about her grandparents and the Uchiha family in general, that she thought keeping a family heirloom wasn't so bad."
"Hn." Sasuke answered, and he grinned a bit when Sakura gave him a peck on the cheek. "We're keeping it."
Later that same night, Sarada woke up from her sleep in need of a glass of water. She walked down the stairs sleepily, and stopped when she heard her parents' hushed conversation, accompanied by the soft grainy music she recognized from earlier that afternoon.
Sarada tried to move as quietly as possible, and when she had a good view of her parents, she sat on the staircase to watch them.
Her father said earlier that dancing just looked like swaying while hugging, but Sarada thought that he made it sound too boring. Right now, Sarada watched as her parents danced; Sakura's arms wrapped loosely around Sasuke's neck and his hand rested on her waist. They swayed slowly in time to the music, taking measured steps and turning in place. Sarada was too busy observing that she didn't catch what they were talking about but she heard Sakura laugh gently and let Sasuke twirl her around before they resumed their first position again.
"Do you know why I want to dance tonight?" the girl heard her mother ask softly.
Sasuke shrugged, "...because there's an old fancy record player that still works?"
"You're too unromantic, Sasuke-kun. Really." Sakura rolled her eyes and was about to complain some more, but was cut off when Sasuke leaned down and pressed his lips against hers.
Sarada never saw her parents kiss on the lips before, and she found herself blushing and looking away.
"Stop cutting me off like that!" Sakura scolded, but she sounded amused.
He chuckled lowly. "Couldn't help it."
"You're hopeless. Anyways! I want to celebrate something."
At this, Sarada turned towards her parents again.
"I only found out a few hours ago. Shortly after dinner. You were busy helping Sarada figure out that advanced katon jutsu, I didn't want to interrupt..."
"What is it?" Sasuke's brows furrowed in question, trying to run through anniversaries and birthdays in his head. Did he miss anything worth celebrating?
"...I figured I'd just say it in the morning, because I want to tell you and Sarada at the same time. But seeing as she's already here, spying on us..." she trailed off with a short laugh.
Sarada groaned, and looked down guiltily when her parents stopped dancing to look towards her. Of course they'd know! They weren't two of the best Konoha nin for nothing!
"Come here, sweetie." Sakura called softly.
Sarada gingerly stood up from the staircase and walked towards them. Her mother reached out to tuck her between them. "I'm sorry, I just went to get some water but I didn't wanna bother you and Papa-"
Sakura shook her head and rested her hands on her daughter's shoulders, shushing the girl. "It's okay, Sarada. There's something I wanna tell you and Papa."
"Sakura." Sasuke said, his hand on her waist creeping up to rest on her upper arm. He was growing impatient as he repeated his question. "What is it?"
Sakura looked up at him and smiled. "I'm pregnant."
She watched as both father and daughter sent her identical shocked faces. They look too much alike.
"You're-..." Sasuke trailed off, unable to finish his sentence as he looked down, and saw Sarada touching her mother's stomach in awe. His head snapped up to look at Sakura again. "You're sure?"
"I did the test a while ago. Sarada's going to be a big sister!" his wife continued happily. She laughed when their daughter squealed and hugged her tightly, face buried in her chest. Sarada was mumbling something her mother couldn't catch, and Sakura hugged her daughter back. "Are you excited?"
"SHANNARO, OF COURSE I AM, MAMA!" the girl cried, and then squeaked when she was sandwiched tight between her parents because Sasuke pulled them against him.
He kissed his wife on the forehead and tucked his head on the crook of her neck. He knew he didn't have to say anything, that Sakura understood, and she just raised an arm to stroke his hair affectionately.
When Sakura felt some wetness by her neck, she giggled. "Sasuke-kun, are you crying?"
"Shut up." he grumbled, but she heard the slight shake in his voice.
Then she heard sniffling from below. "Sarada, you too?!"
The girl shook her head, but kept it buried against her mother's chest.
Sakura laughed, hugging them both tighter. "Geez, no one told me Uchihas are such crybabies-"
"Sakura," Sasuke lifted his head to meet her eyes, and Sakura looked back at him with a patient, expectant smile, her hand cupping his cheek. He leaned forward and closed his eyes as their foreheads touched. "Thank you."
Sarada didn't have to look up and simply guessed that, from the silence that followed, her parents had shared another kiss.
Instead, the girl just relished in the warmth of her family wrapped around her and smiled, pure happiness filling her chest.
She couldn't ask for more.
A/N: The lyrics of the song Sakura sings in the last bit is YUKI's Home Sweet Home, the ending theme of the first movie.
Let me know if my SasuSaku sucks after, like, 7 years of not writing a single thing about them. :|