In the days when she was training under Tsunade and Sasuke was gone, the adults in Sakura's life were fond of spouting platitudes that they thought would wisen her up in the matters of life and love, thus convincing her to back off from that Uchiha boy--and in her parents' case, to stay away from Naruto as well.
"You know," Tsunade said, helping her off the ground after a particularly heated bout of sparring, "getting what you want isn't the same thing as being happy."
"Yes, Tsunade-shishou," Sakura said, patient and obedient and respectful as ever. Inside her head, she spat. Did Tsunade think she was a miniature version of herself?
"Someday you'll realize," her mother told her one morning, "that the price of getting what you want is getting what you once wanted."
"I'll think on that, mother," Sakura said quietly. Inside her head, she bared her teeth like she'd sometimes seen Naruto do. Did her parents think she was still a little girl with a ribbon in her hair?
Now that she was older and she had she wanted, Sakura realized that the only people who came up with homilies like those were the ones who had never figured out how to truly want.
The baby was sleeping in her cradle in the other room, a tiny bundle of pink-haired love. Naruto would be watching her tonight, making it Sasuke and Sakura's first free night since Misayaka had been born. Right now, Sakura was cutting her hair.
She hadn't really bothered with it since she'd been taken off active duty some months ago, and now it was down past her shoulders again. It had been nothing but a nuisance, and the only good thing it was responsible for was the way Sasuke had taken to running his fingers through it.
She regarded herself in the bathroom mirror as she lifted the scissors to her hair. From downstairs, she heard a door opening and closing quietly, then soft footsteps. Sakura pulled her hair carefully straight as she cut. She'd promised Ino that she'd get it perfectly neat without any help from her this time.
When she glanced to the side in the mirror, she saw Sasuke standing in the doorway, watching her with his best expression of hidden adoration. He was cool and reserved and there were maybe three people in the world who'd be able to see the love in his eyes.
Sakura caught her breath at the sight of him, the same as she always did, and her hand jerked slightly. The scissors snipped closed at an uneven slant, and hair scattered over the floor. She hissed in frustration.
Sasuke was at her side in an instant, one hand raised protectively. "You didn't..."
"Hurt myself? No." She scowled at the mirror. "But I told Ino-pig I could get it perfect this time without her help."
He tipped his head slightly to one side, scrutinizing her. "You'll just have to cut it a little shorter," he said reasonably.
She nodded, then lifted the scissors once more. It was only when she'd finished cutting the lock in question to an even length that she realized that Sasuke had been holding his breath as he watched intently.
She slid a sideways glance at him and lifted a brow. He looked down at the floor, all studious reserve, then lifted one hand to her cut hair. He tangled his fingers in it for a moment, then released it.
With his hands back at his side, he looked up again. "It's an acceptable length," he said, as if he were evaluating a student's performance of a difficult jutsu.
"Good," she said, and she turned her attention to dealing with the rest of her hair.
When she finished, Sakura shook out her hair and turned to clean up the mess. But there was none; Sasuke had meticulously swept up the hair as it fell, and now he was sitting (rather awkwardly) on the floor, rolling a bit of shorn hair between his fingers and staring at it with a deeply concerned look on his face.
She stared at him. "Sasuke-kun?"
He lifted the strands of hair up to his face for closer scrutiny. She waited a moment longer, quietly counting to ten in her head, promising herself that when she got there she'd go over there and shake him--
He spoke before she had to. "Misayaka has pink hair."
"Yes," Sakura said, "and she's adorable."
"Of course she is," Sasuke said. He dropped the hair and looked up at her, his gaze fervent. "And you're beautiful."
"Sasuke-kun," she said, "I haven't slept right in two weeks. I just cut my hair--shorter than it should be. I'm exhausted and I probably need to shower and I think I put my shirt on inside-out this morning because I was in a hurry to see why Misayaka was crying."
He stared at her in blank incomprehension.
"Never mind," she said.
He dropped the subject with oblivious determination. "But I'm still concerned," he said. "I've been talking with the other medic nin about genetics."
"They say," he continued, "that this means pink hair is dominant, and that that means that most--possibly even all--of our children will have it. That it'll be in the clan for generations."
She stared down at him. After a moment, when he didn't say anything, she tapped a foot.
He looked confused for a second, but then took the hint. "It's not that you're not beautiful or that Misayaka isn't wonderful," he went on, "but what about when she develops Sharingan? It'll clash horribly."
Sakura considered chiding him for worrying about things so far in the future, but in the end she settled for, "That'll just make her more frightening to her enemies."
He considered this. "I suppose," he said. "Not that she'd need to be more frightening to her enemies, since she'll be the most terrifying and the most beautiful kunoichi ever. But it could help. Still..."
"What about when we have a boy?"
"I'm sure he'll be capable of beating up anyone who makes fun of him for it," Sasuke said, "but..."
Sakura crouched down so that she was just a little taller than him and leaned in to kiss him on the top of his head. "I'll prove to you that boys can look fine with pink hair," she said. "I promise." She straightened up. "Right now I have to go out for a little while. You take care of Misayaka until Naruto gets here."
She left him still sitting on the bathroom floor, staring after her with a look that was half bemused and half forlorn.
Sakura returned home just in time to catch Naruto bounding up the walkway. She wondered for a split-second if he'd still have that kind of energy after taking care of an infant for a night, but before she'd finished forming the question in her head, she knew the answer. Of course he would. And he'd probably go on about how much he enjoyed it, too.
He stopped as he caught sight of her and waved enthusiastically. "Sakura-chan! What've you got there?"
She tucked the package safely under her arm. "It's a present for Sasuke-kun."
Naruto backtracked and leaned in to peer at what she was holding. "A present? What is it?"
"I'm not telling you," she said, "because not only is it a present, it's a surprise." She brushed past him and headed for the door.
"You'll find out in the morning," Sakura said, and she opened the door.
In seconds, Sasuke had fled down the stairs from where he'd been watching over Misayaka. "Naruto--" He stopped when he saw it was her. "Sakura," he said. Then his gaze flickered past her to where Naruto was approaching. "Hey! Dead last! You'd better be ready for my daughter!"
"Of course I am," Naruto said, following Sakura inside. "Where is she? Come on, I've gotta pick her up and get going, I've got a date tonight."
His teammates stared at him.
"What? I'm not allowed to have a girlfriend?" He paused. "Not that--she's really my girlfriend or anything, we're just...seeing each other a bit." He stared at his feet.
"Naruto," Sakura began, but Sasuke cut her off.
"You idiot!" Sasuke grabbed him by the shoulders and shook him. "You're planning to just leave her somewhere so you can go and--"
"What?" Naruto reached for Sasuke's hands, trying to get them off of him.
"I knew you couldn't take care of my girl!"
Naruto finally grabbed Sasuke's wrists. "You've got it all wrong, moron! You really think I'd ignore Misa-chan like that?"
Sasuke just glared at him. Sakura said, "What are you going to do?"
"Hinata and I are going to look after her together," he said.
Sasuke visibly relaxed. He shook his hands free of Naruto and took a few steps away from him.
"Naruto..." Sakura said.
"Are you sure Hinata wants to do that?"
"She said it sounded like a good idea," he said.
"I'm not sure that counts as a date," Sasuke said.
"I'm not going to you for love advice," Naruto said. "The only reason you've even got a girl is because Sakura-chan is awesome."
Sasuke went back to glaring at him. For a moment, he didn't say or do anything. Then, abruptly, he strode forward and shoved his hands into the pockets of Naruto's pants.
Naruto yelped. "What the hell do you think you're doing!"
Sasuke said nothing; he just rummaged.
"What the fuck! Augh! Don't touch me there!"
Sasuke froze. There was a long and exceedingly awkward moment.
Then he withdrew his hands from Naruto's pockets. There was something clutched in them. "There," he said.
"Hey! Give that back!"
Sasuke glared at Naruto some more. "You were planning to give candy to my daughter!" He stalked away, only stopping at the nearest wastebasket. Then he opened his hands, and after a dramatic pause for effect, he flung the candy into the trash.
"What's the point of having kids if you don't spoil them?" Naruto demanded.
Sakura reached out, put a hand on Naruto's shoulder. "Misayaka is much too young to have solid food," she said. "Candy or not."
"You were trying to kill my little girl," Sasuke said, rather more dramatically.
"I'm pretty sure he was just being stupid, Sasuke-kun," Sakura said patiently. She smiled at Naruto. "Here, I'll take you upstairs and make sure you've got everything you need to take care of Misayaka."
Sasuke made sure to follow them up.
It was the first night of quiet they'd had since Misayaka was born, and Sakura was barely aware of it. The rush of blood in her ears was too loud for her to savor the silence, and the sweep of sensation in the rest of her body was too much for her to care.
It was always like this, with Sasuke. Even when he was clumsy (which was most of the time), even when he fumbled halfway through and they had to take a moment to reposition themselves and start over again (which was more often than she cared to admit to Ino when they discussed their sex lives)--
He always became her world, and a most perfect one at that.
When they were exhausted, Sakura twisted to extricate herself from him just enough to let them both sleep. He reached for her, a quick, unconsciously needy gesture, and she caught his hand and squeezed it to let him know she was still there. "Good night," she said. He murmured in response, then leaned into her and the bed and sank into sleep.
As for Sakura, she simply let herself doze.
It was a little over an hour before she woke herself again. When she did, she spent a few minutes making sure that Sasuke was asleep. Then she slid away from him. He twisted unhappily in his sleep; she rested a hand on his shoulder for a moment to reassure him, then slipped away.
Moving in perfect silence, she retrieved the package from earlier. Unwrapping it and holding it up to the window, she read what was written on it in the moonlight. Then she returned to Sasuke's side and went to work.
It was several minutes before he actually woke up. He half-woke a few times, but each time, a reassuring touch and a soothing murmur was enough to put him back down. She'd already worked it through a good fraction of his hair when his hand shot up and grabbed hers by the wrist.
"What are you doing," he whispered, his eyes only half-open.
"Nothing," she said. "Go back to sleep, Sasuke-kun."
He frowned faintly, then slid his hand further down hers. "Why are you wearing plastic gloves..."
She continued working, but a little faster now.
"What are you doing to my hair?"
"You'll see in the morning, Sasuke-kun."
He closed his other hand around her other wrist. "You're dying my hair pink!"
"And you're interrupting me," she chided him.
He didn't respond this time, only wrenched her hands away from his hair--but carefully, not hard enough to injure her. She took advantage of his tentativeness in order to squirm free of his grip, grab the bottle of hair dye, and back off. It was too late, though; he was already getting up.
Sakura smiled at him, and for a moment he stopped, flustered. She took advantage of the chance to slide further back, but as soon as she started moving, he was after her again.
She felt the wall at her back, and then he'd planted his hands to either side of her. They were both still naked.
Sakura slowly slid down to the floor. "Sasuke-kun?"
He folded to his knees in front of her, his hands slipping to her shoulders, then a little lower. "You tried to dye my hair pink," he said.
She turned wide, innocent eyes on him. "It would have looked good on you."
He freed one hand to drag it through his hair, trying to swipe free the dye. "I--" He stopped. He leaned forward. Then he kissed her, rather self-consciously but intently, between her throat and her collarbone.
She made a tiny noise, and then she let go of the bottle of dye, hurriedly stripped the gloves off her hands, and reached for him.
Pink spilled out over the bedroom floor, but neither of them paid it any attention.
They were both sprawled awkwardly on the floor, using each other as pillows, when loud and persistent knocking at the door woke them.
Sakura and Sasuke opened their eyes at almost the same instant. They looked at each other for a moment.
The edge of Sakura's mouth twitched.
Sasuke said, "Shit."
He untangled himself from her in as much of a hurry as he could muster without bruising her, grabbed the nearest robe, and ran down the stairs. Sakura hurriedly picked up another robe (it was one of Sasuke's and rather too big on her, but she didn't mind because it smelled like him and at the moment so did she) and followed him.
"Took you long enough," Naruto was saying at the door as Sasuke yanked it open. Then he stopped.
"What?" Sasuke snapped.
Naruto stared. "Your..."
Sakura quietly walked up behind him. "Yes?"
"I never knew it was contagious," Naruto blurted out. "Wow!" He snickered.
"Oh, no," Sasuke said, reaching up to touch his hair.
"Don't worry, Sasuke-kun," Sakura said. "It's just streaks. And it looks good on you." She leaned up and kissed him on the cheek. "It'll grow out eventually."
"Anyway," Naruto said, "Misa-chan is fine. She's terrific, in fact. Hinata says she's adorable," he added as he held out the baby.
Sasuke swiped her back in a single swift gesture, then held her up and examined her critically. She blinked dark eyes at him and made a small burbling sound. He stared for a moment longer, then let out his breath. "I suppose Hinata must have stopped you from doing anything too stupid to her."
"Hinata's really good with kids," Naruto said. "And puppies, too."
Sasuke stared at him suspiciously. "...and puppies, too?"
"We took her to play with Akamaru and the new puppies," Naruto explained.
"Idiot!" Sasuke pulled Misayaka closer to him and glowered protectively. "She could have been hurt! And we'll be giving her fleabaths for a month now! Get out!" He slammed the door.
"I'm sure she's fine," Sakura said, taking the baby from Sasuke.
"She'd better be," he said, making some more show of glowering.
"Get Naruto back in here," she said, "and I'll make us all breakfast."
Sasuke put his hands on his hips and scowled.
"Do it, Sasuke-kun," she said.
A beat, and then he slumped slightly, but only slightly. He turned and pulled the door back open. "Hey! Dead last!" He waited a moment, then went on, "Marry her already and have kids so that my daughter has someone to beat up!"
Naruto was already out of their yard--but he was loitering just past the fence, waiting to be called back. At Sasuke's taunt, he grabbed hold of the fence and leaped right over it. "Yeah, right! Misa-chan's cute but my daughter would take her down!"
Sasuke rolled up the sleeves of his robe and started outside.
"Remember, Naruto," Sakura called, "if you hurt his face, I break your nose."
Afterwards, she healed their bruises. Well, most of them.
"And that," the girl says to the small army of pink-haired children assembled before her, "is how the bedroom floor got that pink stain, and why Daddy keeps pink streaks in his hair."
They take a moment to mull this over, but it doesn't take long for one boy to insist, "Tell us why Daddy wears the pajamas with little foxes on them, Misa-neechan!"
"Oh," Misayaka says, "you should ask Naruto about that one..."