A/N: Obviously, the gang is several years older here. Sunfreak does not write about twelve year-olds screwing each other. That is icky and a Very Bad Idea. I don't write this stuff to gross meself out.

Rated for mentions of non-explicit sex, by the way.



"In and Out"



Haruno Sakura is having a baby. She is already starting to show, and the bulge in her belly looks strange next to her thin arms.

When people ask her, she says that the father is Sasuke. What else could she have said? Everyone knew that she had always liked him, and some of them had noticed him softening towards her recently. Everyone knew that he wanted to resurrect his clan.

She has slept with him. Several times, in fact, and all of them at night and in his bed, because he is like that: always wanting things to go the way they should, the way they are "supposed" to. And it had meant so much- he had been her first.

But she has slept with Naruto, too. Only once, but it had meant something in its own way. In the forest, under a tree and in the morning: and it had been fierce and fast and- though she'd never have said so aloud- better than Sasuke. Sasuke is too cool, too distant, too perfect. Too controlled. But Naruto had been hot and wild and had growled like an animal and said that he loved her and kissed her so passionately and been anything but predictable.

Sasuke is not passionate. He is delicate and slow, and while that is good in its own way, sometimes she wants Naruto again. Not always, because she loves Sasuke's wordless seductions, but sometimes . . .

Sometimes she just wants laid, or to hear someone say the words.

Sasuke has never told her that he loves her. He does, she knows- he does everything he can to show it. But he's never SAID it.

Naruto has said it. He says it every chance he has, and always means it. With him, nothing is ever halfway.

It occurs to her briefly that it must be an exhausting way to exist.

She wonders if the baby will be blond.

That might be hard to explain.

When her parents had found out that she was pregnant, they'd demanded to know if Naruto had forced himself on her. The thought that this had been their first reaction had horrified her, and so she'd said it had been Sasuke, and she'd been the one doing all the seducing anyway, thank-you-very-much.

She hadn't wanted Naruto to get in trouble just because he liked her. And Sasuke was respected by most of the other villagers, and he didn't have parents to get angry with him. So he was the perfect scapegoat.

Even if the doctor has said that the baby had probably been conceived on a weekend that Sasuke had been away training.

It makes her feel worse, thinking like that. But there is a chance that the father IS in fact Sasuke. A very small one.

She hopes it was Sasuke. Or if it wasn't, that the child will take after her.

Or at least be human.

Yes, that is an important part.

For a moment, she thinks of the child inside her, and what will happen to it if it is known to be the offspring of the Nine Tails' vessel. She thinks of the things that she has seen Naruto suffer, of the pain he tries so hard to hide.

Yes. Better that they think the child is from a strong, respected clan than the tainted Uzumaki bloodline. This is not something she does for her own reputation- any trace of selfishness left her the moment she knew that this child existed. She only wants it to be happy, like its father never has been.

She will name it for Naruto, though, no matter its gender. She will name it for the one muggy morning, the one wild tumble: for the trees and the kisses and the sex and the look in his eyes when he was with her and the heat that crackled between them, manifesting itself in an earth-scorching chakra.

She will name it for the love he gave her. The blinding, never- let-go love that made him look so beautiful; that made her FEEL so beautiful . . .

And she will make sure that his child will have all of that love. Even if she has to club Sasuke over the head, she'll make him an affectionate father. Naruto can be the goofy-but-beloved uncle, and Kakashi-sensei and Iruka-sensei can be its grandparents.

It will be loved. Sakura already loves it, in fact. That is why she is having it.

Even if she is a little afraid of what giving birth to a fox demon's child might feel like.

But no matter what happens, she wants it to live. Even if it is miserable, even if all her good intentions come to nothing . . .

She wants it to live.

Because where there is life, there is always, always hope.

Naruto taught her that. Sasuke taught her that.

Sakura has seen more pain in her life than most people could find in a century. Very little of it was actually hers. So this burden, she takes alone. This one she will fight for.

Even if the baby is blond. Even if the baby is brunet. Even if it isn't human, or even if it is.

It's hers, and she's going to do the best she can. That's all that matters.

That's what responsibility is. That's why Sasuke is always checking up on her and why Kakashi-sensei still makes her train; why Iruka-sensei comes over every day or so with a different book or piece of advice and why Naruto will make her pickle ice cream without gagging. It's why she doesn't complain about the morning sickness and why Ino is her friend again and why her parents feel so guilty.

It's why the inner Sakura and the outer Sakura have finally become the same person.

You can't spend your whole life going in and out.



* fin *



. : character is what you do when no one else is watching : .