Title: In name only
Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto.
Warnings: AU, Fem Naru. Sasu/Naru. OOC prominent. Was supposed to be an oneshot but grew to be a twoshot.
AN: Two-shot birthday gift for my friend Rad-the-bad. Happy belated Birthday Radha!
Summary: Theirs is a marriage in name only. What is an ideal relationship to others is a sham to them but for how long? Will they be able to give up the easy but hollow life they enjoyed to experience the glory of love?
When he woke in the morning, it was only a few moments before the alarm was set to ring. He found himself pleasantly surprised.
It had been long since such warmth had greeted him good morning. She was so close, her head resting trustingly on his shoulder and her pale, slender arms wrapped loosely around him. Her breath was caressing his collarbone and her body pressed against his side.
He felt a flare of desire within him as he wrapped his arms around her possessively, turning his head a little to bury his nose into her silk-like hair. It felt perfectly natural to hold her like this, as though she was made for him and him only.
The beeping of the alarm broke the calm of the morning and Sasuke reached out to silence it. She was already awake, shifting and yawning. Noriko had yet to realize that she was wrapped securely in her husband's embrace.
The amused Uchiha waited patiently for her to comprehend the situation, wondering what her reaction would be.
Sure enough, she stiffened when she realized who was holding her. Slowly she lifted her head from his shoulder and looked up at him through her lashes. He favored her with an amused look and pointedly tightened his arms around her, "Well, you certainly are a pleasant sight to wake up to."
A rosy blush graced her cheeks and she ducked her head instantly to hide it. Pressing her face into his shoulder, she groaned when he chuckled. "T'is been nearly four years since we married and now he decides to flirt with me." She grumbled broken squirming away from him, shooting a glare at him through her crystalline eyes. "Don't you have a flight to catch?"
Just as he had thought. It was too early in the morning for her to carefully construct the 'heiress mask' she used whenever she was dealing with him. Too early to act. She would regret her impulsiveness later. She would curse herself for blushing in his presence, for submitting, just for a fleeting second.
However, he also knew that he had made a dent in her shield. He may not remember much about the night Kouhei was conceived, but he remembered the way she had responded to his touch. He remembered the manner in which she had trembled with passion in his embrace.
She was a woman of passion and he would remind her of it.
With a sly, seductive smirk, he released her. His eyes dark and smoky and he got the most alluring response. He loved the way her eyes widened, a look almost too innocent for a mother of a child. She moved back a little, her hand coming up to the front of her yukata, her slender fingers grasping the thick cotton cloth tightly.
"What is wrong with you?" She asked, her voice a little higher than usual and Sasuke backed off a slightly, knowing that he had to do this carefully. She was not used to him being like this. He too was stoic and impassive during their interactions throughout their marriage and his sudden shift could unsettle her and force her to become defensive.
That was the last thing he wanted.
He softened his look because while he did not want her to get alarmed, he did not wish for her to think he was playing with her either. "Kouhei will soon start wailing for his kaa-chan. Why don't you go greet him while I get ready for my trip? We will go down for breakfast together."
She nodded silently and quickly fled from the room and Sasuke knew that by the time he was done getting ready, his Noriko will be Mrs. Uchiha again.
He was right.
When he entered the room that his mother had provided for Kouhei, she was already composed and elegant as always. Her gentle hands were smoothing down Kouhei clothes and their son chattered about one thing or the other while looking at her with large, loving and devoted eyes.
"Noriko, I can't find my briefcase and laptop, did we forget to bring them?"
She looked up with a frown, "I am sure I brought them along, Sasuke-kun." She stood up and brushed her skirt, looking thoughtful, "Why don't the two of you go down for breakfast while I search for it?"
Sasuke nodded and held his hand out towards his son. The silent child pouted, looking at his mother and then his father. It was Noriko's stern and exasperated glare that prompted him to move, "Honestly," she muttered under her breath, "When will this behavior of his end?"
Sasuke smirked when his little boy's small hands slipped into his. The child looked up at him shyly through his lashes with his mother's blue eyes and the older Uchiha found that this was his favorite expression on both his wife and son's face.
"Come Kou-chan, let's get you fed. While we are at it, you can tell me what otou-san should bring from Osaka for you." Sasuke smirked, a little bit of bribery never hurt.
It took mere three days worth of separation for his son to realize that he loved his Tou-san too. Every night Sasuke returned to the room he was staying in, exhausted and irritated only to receive a call from Noriko. She would laughingly inform him that Kouhei wished to speak to him.
Her sweet, much-missed voice would give way to his son's slightly annoying whine. The child would first be angry with him, telling him that his kaa-chan missed him and he should come home. Then he would grudgingly ask him to return because he wanted his souvenirs. That grudging demand would then degenerate into a whine begging him to return.
Every night, Sasuke followed the same routine of placating his son, promising him souvenirs and an early return.
That night was different. He lay in his bed, trying to stay awake for the much-anticipated phone call. Every moment that passed caused more dread to coil in his stomach. An odd instinct was telling him that something was not right.
His tapped his fingers impatiently against his bicep and glared at the ceiling. Maybe Noriko was busy. She was the CFO of Konohagakure organization after all. Still, Sasuke felt anxious, his phone grasped tightly in his hand.
The silence of the room was broken when his phone buzzed. He flipped it open, feeling his shoulders tense in anticipation.
It was not his wife's voice but it conveyed many things. He was out of his bed in the blink of an eye, "I will be there as soon as possible."
There was a sigh; "Sasuke-kun" his father-in-law's voice was gentle and soothing. "There was a bank robbery and Noriko was present in that bank when it happened." Sasuke's hands did not stop as he packed his bags. "They recognized her for who she was… they thought they would earn more money if they took her as hostage."
Sasuke stilled, his eyes narrowing dangerously. "Where is she?"
"In the hospital. Takahashi-sensei is taking good care of her."
"What happened?" He hissed, his hands fisting as he felt rage growing within him. How dare they…
There was a slight hesitation and Sasuke stilled completely, "She seemed to be negotiating with them. She had managed to coerce them to let the children out… they did not realize that one of those children were her own."
"Kouhei was there!"
"Yes, he is with your mother now. He is safe and unharmed." Some part of Sasuke relaxed at that.
Minato voice became a little strained as he continued, "One in their group was particularly violent. He shot many people though none of them was injured fatally. " Sasuke was getting impatient. What about his Noriko? What happened to her?
"Kami-sama, she was shot three times, Sasuke."
"What?" His voice was a strangled whisper, his eyes wide and unseeing as he sat down heavily on his bed.
"That lunatic was waving his gun about as though it was a damn toy!" His father-in-law whispered furiously. "It is a miracle that my daughter survived. None of those wounds would have been fatal but she has lost so much blood…" There was a pained sigh and Sasuke stood again, glancing about his room. Thankfully, there was nothing more left to pack. "Come home, Sasuke. Kouhei needs you home."
"I am on my way."
His strides were swift as walked out of the room, dialing his brother's number as took the elevator to ride downstairs.
"Sasuke, it is late." Itachi informed him bluntly but Sasuke paid not heed.
"Noriko is in the hospital, aniki." His voice came out oddly vulnerable and he could hear his brother getting out of bed.
"Where are you?" His aniki's voice was low, comforting and Sasuke leaned back tiredly. "Sasuke, otouto, where are you?"
"I am heading downstairs."
"Good. Clear the bills and ask them to get us a car and arrange for the tickets. I will get Kyuu and will meet you in the lobby." Sasuke nodded silently but his brother seemed to understand.
The elevator doors slid open and he flew past them. He must have look unlike himself in a pair of jeans and a plain black T-shirt. It was very different from his usual immaculate self. He did not care.
The hotel's front desk staff was swift and supportive, realizing that something was amiss the moment they saw him. They carried out his requests without question while a another member of the staff brought him some tea to drink.
Strong, but familiar hands came to rest upon his shoulder. Without even looking, he knew who it was. The hands pressed him down, their grip almost bruising. "Aniki…"
Itachi did not say anything but that familiar strength was enough to stall the dark, burning emotions growing within him. He watched absently as Kyuu spoke to the staff. Those unnatural golden eyes chilling and impatient. Sasuke was grateful that he was not asking questions. He was not sure he could answer them now.
How could he describe the spine chilling fear he felt in those long moments as he waited helplessly in the lobby? How could he describe the choking, dreadful fury that bubbled within him at the mere thought of someone harming even a hair on his beloved's head?
The very thought of Noriko being at someone else's mercy. The thought of a gun aimed at her, or bullets piercing her body seemed surreal to him. Such things did not happen to him. Such things happened to those other people, not to him, not to his wife and son.
He closed his eyes and pushed down the moan of anguish that was fighting its way past his lips. He had to see her. He couldn't lose her now. Not after realizing just how deeply she became a part of him when she took his name.
Kyuu sat down beside him with a sigh, "They managed to get three first class tickets for last flight that leaves tonight. We still have time. Our luggage is being brought down now. We will be at Tokyo in two hours."
Sasuke stayed silent for a moment before words spilled from his lips. Kyuu needed to know. He had the right to know. He told his brother-in-law what he had been told; his eyes staring ahead blankly, only the pressure of his brother's hands on his shoulders keeping his still and calm.
Kyuu went dangerously silent after his explanation but Sasuke did not notice. He did not notice how Itachi's fingers tightened on his shoulders or the furious look that crossed those usually eerily impassive eyes.
The moment the car came, the three of them left the hotel with swift strides. Sasuke did not relax even a bit until they were in their seats on the flight back home.
The flight took just over an hour to reach Tokyo. All the while, the three of them stayed silent, unable to say anything to each other. Noriko was the only thing on their minds.
Itachi was the only one who called their father to ask which hospital Noriko was admitted to. He directed the cab driver, looking at Sasuke with narrowed eyes ever so often. If there was one person in this world who knew him inside out, it was his brother. "Father says that she is safe now. Minato-san had panicked and Takahashi-sensei thought she had lost a great amount of blood. The fact of the matter is, two of the gunshot wounds are just grazes of the bullet. Only one did considerable damage."
Sasuke bared his teeth in a silent snarl, "There shouldn't be any gunshot wounds on her."
Itachi narrowed his eyes, "I know that. I also know that you need to calm down otouto because your son is still in the hospital and he can not afford to see you like this."
Kyuu was still silent and composed, looking out of the window of the cab with no expression on his face.
They stopped outside the hospital and Sasuke got of the cab, running into the hospital. His father was right by the desk, waiting for him. He followed the older Uchiha without a single word or comment.
Kouhei was sitting by his mother's bed in the room assigned to her. Never had Sasuke allowed anyone to put his son in such a state. No one made his son cry like that, in pure sorrow and pain. He walked forwards swiftly, lifting the child off his chair and into his arms in one deft swing.
"Tou-tan…" Sasuke hated how weak Kouhei's voice sounded; he despised the way the small body trembled in his arms.
"Kouhei, I need you to listen to me carefully." Sasuke started seriously, looking at those tear-stained features with a frown. The child nodded and he continued, "Kaa-chan is hurt. She will not wake up for a while but I need you to know and understand that she is okay. Do you understand me, musuko?"
Kouhei shook his head, "Tou-tan, kaa-chan was talking nicely to that man. Kaa-chan told him to let us out, and then kaa-chan got hurt."
Sasuke nodded, taking a deep steadying breath, "Kaa-chan is hurt, Kouhei. I know that but she will be all right. Kouhei, you need to understand this. Kaa-can getting hurt is not Kou-chan's fault. You know that right?"
Kouhei looked at him uncertainly. "Kouhei, it is not your fault." He insisted, recognizing the source of his son's distress.
The child nodded slowly. "Good, now, I want you to go with Itachi and get some sleep, alright? You know how my aniki drives the car. He is so fast that he will have you back here mere moments after you wake up."
Kouhei stilled before his wide, frightened eyes looked at him. "Musuko, remember that time when I told you that all big brothers are strong and wise?" Kouhei nodded, "And you know Itachi is my aniki, right?" The child nodded again, "So he is stronger and wiser than tou-san is at the moment, Kouhei. Please go with him, you will be safe and I promise, I wouldn't let anything happen to your kaa-chan, you trust your tou-san, don't you?"
Kouhei nodded slowly before reaching out towards the silent Itachi. Sasuke handed him over to his brother without a word, looking into Itachi's ebony eyes in silent thanks.
Kami-sama knew he did not have the strength to comfort his child right now.
He was so relieved, so blessedly relieved to see those thick, golden lashes flutter open, revealing dazed blue eyes. She was all right, fortunate enough to escape a deadly situation with her life.
He pressed the bell by the bed; he needed to inform the doctor that she was awake.
His eyes landed on her bandaged shoulder, the only place on her body where one of the bullets had done serious harm. After his son had left, it had taken everything within him to resist the urge to take her in his arms and hold her tight, shielding her from the world.
He had waited silently by her bed, reading the police report that his father had managed to procure, wondering if this could have been prevented if he had not been in Osaka. Sasuke wanted those glorious eyes to open because he was lost.
Now that she was awake, he couldn't bring himself to speak. He watched as those eyes scanned her surroundings before landing on him. She seemed to frown, as though in confusion and for a tense moment Sasuke feared that she did not remember him.
She must have read something on his face because the next instant, her eyes softened. "You are here, Sasuke-kun." Her voice was low, a little raspy but there was strength underneath it.
Sasuke nodded, leaning forward to look at her intently. "Your wounds were not fatal, Noriko." He told her, his eyes never leaving her, "You lost copious amount of blood but not enough to endanger your life. You will be feeling weak for a while. Your wounds will heal in time. You will be just fine."
Her eyes widened a fraction when she realized that he was trying to assure not only her but also himself. She seemed to look at him more intently then, her eyes taking in his ruffled appearance and his slightly distressed gaze. Her lips thinned when she realized how pale he looked and how his hands held the tough material of his jeans in a white-knuckled grip.
'Anata…' her eyes softened and her hands itched to reach out to him but her own insecurity and doubts held her back. The sight of her proud husband looking so undone was unbearable even if it was for her sake.
"Kouhei is fine, a little shaken and worried about you, but fine." Sasuke continued.
Noriko nodded before narrowing her eyes at him. "And you?"
The Uchiha closed his eyes and rubbed the bridge of his nose, "You have been unconscious for more than two days, Noriko. Do you need something to eat? Drink? The doctor will be here soon."
"Answer the question, Sasuke."
The Uchiha stilled before narrowing his eyes at her, "How do you think I am, Noriko? You think I am all right with the fact that some insane criminal pointed his gun at my wife and used her as target practice?" He leaned forward, "I can't get the sight of you lying helpless and grievously injured on the hospital bed with our son crying by your side, out of my head. I can't get my head around the fact that I fucking knew something was wrong before your father even called to tell me what happened."
He sat back, combing his fingers through his hair. "Kami-sama, Noriko. Don't do that to me again."
Her sigh was barely audible but he heard it. "Sasuke-kun…"
That formality was back again. He raised his head to glare at her, "I am your husband, woman. Get that through your head and stop talking to me as though I am a stranger."
Noriko's eyes widened but Sasuke did not care. He was wit's end. Two days of sleepless nights waiting for her to wake, two days of restlessness and anxiety, two days of watching his son become withdrawn and silent, he did not have the patience to deal with her infuriating heiress mask.
Harsh words would have spilled from his mouth if Takahashi-sensei had not stepped into the room at that moment. Sasuke looked into those stunned eyes for the last time before he swept out of the room, leaving the doctor to examine her.
Things weren't quite the same ever since that day in the hospital. Even after Noriko had been discharged and well on her way to recovery, the words he had spoken that day remained like a tangible wall between them.
Both of them were intelligent people, there was no mistaking the emotions his words had implied. The pretence of normalcy and calm that had existed between them before the incident had evaporated.
The irony of the situation was that their relationship had never been this tense, not even during the first few awkward months of their marriage. They had been so secure in their hollow relationship that the new factor of real emotions being involved had put them on edge.
However, Sasuke did not care. They were in the make or break stage of their relationship and he would be damned if he let that woman slip through his fingers.
A sudden, loud cry had him off his seat and running up the stairs in the blink of an eye. The door to his son's room was open; Noriko was there, cradling Kouhei protectively to her breast as she whispered soothingly in his ear. Her hand was still in a brace and he was certain that holding Kouhei like this must have been very painful.
The young mother's intensely worried eyes locked with his helplessly and Sasuke entered the room with a small frown. Kouhei's nightmares seemed to have increased in severity and frequency over the last few days. He had become even more possessive of his mother now, if such a thing was possible.
Sasuke was at a loss. He knelt before them, rubbing his child's back gently, "Kouhei, it's alright, musuko. Kaa-chan is right here, you see. Tou-san is here too." Kouhei just tightened his little arms around her and Sasuke could understand the feeling. He had lost count of how many times he had woken from nightmares himself, aching to have Noriko in his arms, just to ensure that she was alive and well.
He sighed and stood, offering his hand to Noriko. His wife looked at him questioningly but thankfully accepted it and stood with Kouhei clinging to her tightly.
He did not let go of the hand, pulling her along with him towards his room. Her steps faltered at the door but did not stop. He pulled her in and closed the door before he nodded towards the bed, "Tuck him in, he should feel more secure with us sleeping next to him."
She nodded, carefully placing the now sleeping child back in bed. She sat up his side, stroking her cheek, "Do you think we should consult a psychologist about this?"
Sasuke shrugged off his robe and tossed it over a chair, "We should wait for a few more days. Maybe, once he is certain that you are not going to leave him, those nightmares with cease." He sat down next to her, looking down at their child. "He feels guilt, Noriko, it take time for it to dissipate."
"It is not his fault." She whispered, her voice soft and anguished.
"He is a smart child. He knew that you drew attention to yourself by negotiating with the criminals to release the children. He understands that they would not have targeted you specifically if they had not known who you were. He understands that he was one of those children you wished to protect. He does not comprehend that you would have done the same if he wasn't there. To him, you wanted to protect him and him only and so this is his fault."
"This cannot continue Sasuke, he will fall sick!" Her voice was now laced with desperation, wondering how scared her innocent little baby will become because of the incident.
He looked at her with a raised brow, "I realize that but we have to be patient." When she opened her mouth to protest, Sasuke leaned forward and cupped her cheek. "Noriko, look at me." Brilliant blue eyes turned to him with pain written in them. She was really a protective mother. "This is something that cannot be avoided. We just have to help him through it. I am not too worried. He will get through. I would have worried if he hadn't reacted at all."
Sasuke withdrew his hand but held her gaze, "What I am worried about is your health. You are not taking care of yourself. You are injured but you are not taking rest, not eating properly, working when I clearly told you not to… Kouhei will get more worried than he already is if you fall sick."
She went silent after that. That same deep, disturbing silence her brother went into whenever he was angry or upset.
Sasuke leaned against the headboard and closed his eyes. She was possibly the most complex woman he had ever encountered. Kouhei was her world, and he knew, he was her world too. She would lose herself in worry every time anything happened to either of them.
He looked at her through hooded eyes, watching. In his mind, he compared her to the girl he had seen the morning after the night Kouhei was conceived. The same hair that flowed down her back in glorious golden curls, the same eyes, enchanting yet distant, but she was different. Motherhood that enhanced her natural beauty hundredfold, something he had always thought to be impossible.
When he was certain that Kouhei was asleep, he took Noriko's hand again, coercing her to his feet. She looked at him questioningly but he did not say anything, leading her to the terrace just outside his room.
Noriko looked uncertain now, her eyes gazing questioningly at his silent profile.
It was time to set things straight between them because Sasuke was at the ends of his patience. He sat down on a settee by the railing before pulling her down, his arms wrapping around her firmly as he held her, her back against his chest.
He had her trapped.
"I think I have let this continue long enough. If we continue to let things be unspoken between us, our relationship is going to turn sour." He whispered against her ear, but his voice was firm.
She stayed silent for a while, stiff and unmoving in the circle of his arms. Slowly, her body relaxed, her head sagging against his shoulder. "What do you want me to say?"
Sasuke arms tightened, "Simple yes and no answers, Noriko."
"Do you trust me?"
The answer came without any hesitation. "Yes."
"Are you happy with the way our marriage was before?"
She looked at the sculpted gardens beyond the railing and shook her head, "No."
He looked down at her, admiring her moonlit features, "Do you want to leave me?"
"No!" Her wide eyes immediately turned to him in panic at the question. She could never… she would be…
She couldn't live without him…
His hard eyes softened and he leaned forward, pressing a light kiss against her forehead. "Do you love me?"
Her breath caught in her throat at that question. Sasuke waited for the answer patiently but her eyes said it all. "Yes…"
That changed everything.
She turned her head away quickly, her eyes clouding in uncertainty and pain again and Sasuke smirked. "It is only fair that I return the favor. Ask away."
She turned to look at him in surprise. "Any question you have for me, Noriko." He spread his arms in an open gesture, "From you, I have nothing to hide."
She did not take up on the offer. Too afraid to ask… too insecure of her place in her life to ask. Sasuke knew, he could see it.
"There were days I used to watch you when you interacted with your friends, your father and brother…" Sasuke started, whispering against her ear so that she would concentrate on him and only him. "I came to crave that smile of yours… I came to long for those mischievous eyes to light in my presence. Jealous," he smirked wryly, "I was so horribly jealous that you were my wife but everyone else knew you much better than I did."
Noriko looked up at him with realization dawning in her eyes. "I was so foolish to think that ours was an ideal marriage. The hollowness struck me when I realized that I longed to hold to in my arms. I desired your body but craved your heart. At the night of Itachi's engagement, I had decided. I wanted this marriage to be real. I hated that mask you used to maintain distance between us… I was so angry with you…"
Sasuke stilled at the endearment. It rolled off her tongue so easily; as though that was the only manner in which she addressed him in her mind. "The morning after that, when I woke up with you in my arms… It was bliss." He whispered, brushing his lips against the sensitive skin of her neck, causing a soft, barely audible moan to escape her lips. "When I was in Osaka, I couldn't wait for nights to come because then you would call and I could hear your sweet, sweet voice again."
She tentatively leaned against him, tilting her head to the side slightly in offering.
Sasuke smirked. "My beautiful, bewildering wife, you became the center of my entire world."
"Do you love me?" She asked at last, looking up at him shyly through her lashes.
Sasuke's answer was simple and sincere. "Yes."
"Does Kouhei still suffer from nightmares?"
Noriko smiled at her mother-in-law and shook her head, "He doesn't seem to have any for the past few nights." She answered, relief evident in her voice. "Sasuke's solution seems to work. We were planning on letting him sleep in his own room tonight; if he suffers more of them then I think we will have to see a psychologist."
Mikoto frowned, glancing out of the window at the child who was playing with Sarutobi-san's grandson. "He does seem more energetic than I last saw him."
Noriko nodded as she sipped her tea. "That he is."
"You on the other hand look as though you need some more rest." She said sternly. Noriko raised her surprised eyes to her mother-in-law, caught off guard. She felt just fine. "And some private time with your husband."
Her eyes widened, her lips parting in surprise when she spotted an all too familiar smirk on the older woman's lips. "Okaa-san I… "
Mikoto smiled, "You are a young and beautiful woman and I dare say my son is a very handsome man… it is a combination for a good romance story." Noriko blushed. "I raised two sons from whom Kou-chan seems to inherit brat genes. I wouldn't put it past the boy that smart to purposefully interfere in your private time."
"Kouhei wouldn't do that… he is too young to notice such things."
"Regardless," Mikoto shrugged elegantly, "I am taking Kou-chan with me for the day and I have already asked Itachi to send Sasuke home after they have lunch with those important clients they were meeting today."
Noriko gasped in dismay. Sasuke was positively predatory these days and Mikoto had taken away her shield.
"Oh okaa-san… what have you done?" she groaned and Mikoto looked faintly concerned. "He has been waiting for such an opportunity to arise." She shook her head, her pale cheek coloring in a delightful blush. "He will eat me alive." She muttered under her breath but Mikoto heard it.
The older woman's eyes widened in surprise when she realized what Noriko's words implied and her laughter rang throughout the room. "That is the intension, my dear." She smiled and stood, moving forward to press a motherly kiss on Noriko's head, "I will be leaving now, expect Itachi to bring Kouhei back after dinner time."
Noriko nodded absently, watching as the older woman walked out and spoke to Kouhei. She knew her son wouldn't refuse to go. His grandmother would play the Itachi card and Kouhei worshiped his uncle. She smiled when she saw Kouhei nod eagerly. He waved at her and stumbled alongside his grandmother to reach for the car parked a distance away.
Her bright blue eyes glanced at her wristwatch and she sighed. He would be home in little over and hour. Rubbing her sore shoulder, which still ached despite the fact that it was nearly healed, she stood, hoping to get some of her office work done before he returned home.
She did not know how long she sat at the desk in the study, busily typing, her brows furrowed in concentration. She did not look up when a servant brought the coffee she had asked for, wishing to finish what she had set her mind to before her husband came home and distracted her.
Noriko did not notice that the very same man who was on her mind was now leaning against the doorway with an amused look in his eyes.
"Mother wants more grandchildren."
Noriko started in surprise, looking at him with wide eyes before what he said registered. Her eyes narrowed at once, "She does, does she? Maybe if Nii-san shifts his wedding with Hinata-chan to an earlier date, she might get one soon."
Sasuke's lips twitched. "She says the Kouhei needs siblings."
Noriko nodded in perfect agreement. "Cousins are just as good as siblings."
"She says that you need another child to spoil."
Noriko raised a brow, "No thanks, the two I have are a handful and a half."
That caught Sasuke off-guard. He frowned in confusion and looked at his wife, "Two?"
She looked at him in perfect seriousness, "Of course, two. Didn't you know? One of them is standing right in front of me."
Sasuke smirked, unfazed. He walked forward slowly, his eyes glinting when he noticed that she was looking at him warily. He stepped behind her, lowering himself so that his lips were close to her ear, "You lie, my little Kitsune." His deep voice caused her to stiffen in awareness, her eyes becoming shadowed with desire. "Tell me, saiai," he whispered, "now that you don't have our son to hide behind, what are you going to do?"
Noriko stilled for a moment, looking down at the desk indecisively. He had already confessed his love to her and she did not doubt him or the strength of his feeling. She knew him well, even if he thought she did not. She had slowly fallen in love with him during her pregnancy and that love had only grown over the years.
However, his touch was alien. She knew that he remembered most of what happened during that night but she did not remember anything. She did not remember his kisses nor did she remember his touch.
He was pure seduction. Always teasing her, always testing her restraint now that he knew she loved him, desired him. Those sly touches that meant to tempt, those warm embraces that were meant sooth her, those scorching looks that were meant to remind her.
Remind her that she belonged to him.
'How could I not give in?' She asked to herself as she stood and turned to face him. The expression on her face was an odd mix of love and vulnerability as she reached out to him, finally giving in.
Coal black eyes burned as Sasuke's expression turned serious. He took her outstretched hand, pulling her to him gently. Always gently. She was so strong and passionate in everything but when it came to her heart… she was so endearingly fragile.
He lowered his head, staring into her eyes as he spoke, "It is so simple to be happy, but so difficult to be simple… I heard this phrase a long time ago and it is now I realize the importance of it." He kissed her forehead, letting his lips linger for a while, "Let's stay simple Noriko… There is no need for elaborate words and gestures between us. There is no need for us to make our lives needlessly complicated."
She laughed softly, "You are being philosophical. Where did you hear that phrase?"
Sasuke shrugged, leading her out of the study and to their room, "From Itachi."
His wife raised a brow, "I should have known. People like you can't comprehend such things."
He narrowed his eyes at her, inwardly smirked at the look of pure mischief in her eyes. "People like me?"
She nodded, her eyes gleaming, "Yup." She grinned cheekily, "People like you within whom precious things such as creativity is all but dead. Who don't understand the finer points of life. You know…" She shrugged, the look on her face almost too innocent, "People who are emotionless bastards."
Sasuke raised a brow, "Emotionless bastards? I do believe that I have been acting more like a sentimental Romeo rather than an emotionless bastard."
She pouted for a moment, realizing that he was right before her eyes started sparkling again. She drew away from him, backing away with her hands folded behind her back once they were in his room.
Sasuke raised a brow coolly as he locked his door, waiting her comeback as he shed his coat and tie. "Okay, not an emotionless bastard… just a bastard."
The Uchiha paused, "Is that my new nickname?"
"Eh?" Sasuke's lips twitched. It seemed that Noriko did not posses the same eloquence as Mrs. Uchiha did.
He sauntered over to her, his arms slipping about her petite body, "You call Kyuu baka-aniki. You call your friend Lee thick-brows. You call Gaara, Panda-chan, you call your grandfather ero-jii-chan and your father air-headed blonde…" he smirked at her blush, "Need I say more?"
"Teme…" she growled and Sasuke nodded seriously, "Okay, I have been christened as 'teme' now. Should I return the favor, kirei Kitsune?"
She narrowed her eyes at him, "Why do you call me that?"
He smirked, slyly maneuvering her to the bed. "Like the Kitsune spirit in the legends, you are a shape-shifter. You change yourself to fool those around you; you are a mischievous little vixen." He brushed his lips against hers before abruptly pushing her onto the bed.
Noriko squeaked, her wide eyes staring into his liquid ebony gaze as he loomed over her. "If I am a fox then what are you?" she asked, feeling breathless because of the closeness between them.
He lowered his lips to her neck, showering light, teasing kisses on the sensitive skin, "I do not know… what do you think I am, saiai?" he asked absently as he unbuttoned her blouse.
"A snake," she whimpered as he nipped her jaw, "A sly snake that slithers its way into the hearts of unsuspecting women."
"Is that so?" Came his amused response. Onyx eyes darkened as he removed her blouse, observing her glowing skin only made more tempting by her black lace bra. "This snake wants to make a permanent home in your heart." He whispered, watching with fascination as his pale fingers trailed up her sides, caressing that silky expanse sensually.
Her hands came up tentatively, a slender finger tracing his jaw and her eyes held the same fascination he was feeling. "Love…" her whisper was full of wonder and desire. Her eyes were intent on his features, taking in every detail with adoration written clearly on her face.
Sasuke nuzzled her cheek, kissing the corner of her lips. "I have longed to hold you like this…" he whispered, his arm slipping underneath her to release the hook of her bra. "For so long." He rose, pulling her into a sitting position and onto his lap. His hand traveled up her bare back, pushing her close to him, so much so that her supple breasts were now pressed her his clothed chest.
Her moan whispered against his ear as a hand shyly traveled down his shoulder to his chest, releasing the buttons of his shirt, one by one. Sasuke was keenly aware of every button that was being released. He was aware of the ghost touch of those artistic fingers of his newly revealed flesh.
"Sasuke…" she hissed, her head thrown back when his fingers touch her sensitive breast, experimentally caressing the extremely soft skin. A moan barely passed her lips when he seized them with his, initiating a real kiss. It was utter bliss.
Her lips parted willingly underneath his, a smile obvious on her tempting mouth. "Gorgeous, Kitsune… you are absolutely gorgeous." He whispered harshly before pressing her body against his, violating her mouth with all his pent up passion. She moaned sensually, winding a slender arm around his shoulders, her finger's sinking into his inky black hair.
Feelings stirred within him, as a great beast unfurling his wings and suddenly his senses could perceive everything. His entire world was focused on her. Her intoxicating scent and the taste of her on his tongue, the press of her willing body against his, the odd melody of her moans and sighs, all these things captivated him completely.
The skin of her thigh was so pale, so soft as his hand glided up the length of it that he could resist stoking it again and again, slowly inching closer to the most intimate part of her body. She groaned, her entire body trembling as she fisted her fingers in his hair, responding to his kiss with fervor.
Soon he had her naked and panting underneath him, looking up at him with those lust-darkened eyes. A hiss of desire tore past his lips at the seductive picture she made. He wanted to exploit her thoroughly, leaving no part untouched but his need for her was much too keen for such an exploration.
His eyes darkened as he slipped into the cradle of her thighs. His lips closed upon her breast, his breath stilling at the low, husky moan that escaped her. Oh, she was driving him insane. He felt all his restrains fleeing him when her exploring fingers danced down his spine, her body arching, and molding to his perfectly.
"Sasuke" her voice was raw with desire, her eyes pure seduction. That was all he could stand. A strong hand slipped underneath her to lift her hips, he molded his lips to her for another passionate kiss, finally giving into his desire.
She arched, convulsing in his arm, her eyes wide and moist when he buried himself within her warmth. Her lips parting in a choked cry as her head thrashed to the side, slender fingers fisting around the sheets underneath her. Her husband, warm, powerful body settled over hers and she trembled, feeling so completely full.
"Anata…" she sobbed, pulling him down to her for a desperate kiss. The flood of emotions she was experiencing was maddening. Was this how it was supposed to be? The feeling of being possessed and loved to such an extent that it changed you forever?
"Noriko… koishii…" he groaned, peppering kisses on her face and neck, overwhelmed with love for the woman who was his wife. He laced his fingers with hers as he moved, his mind, body and soul immersed completely in her.
Noriko drew him to her, wrapping her arms around him completely as he took her. Stabbing sparks of pleasure assaulted her with each powerful thrust and she buried her face in his neck, her harsh pants whispering against his moist skin. The feeling of him within her, the sensation of his arms around her, his kisses, his fingers, his lips, his tongue… every bit of him had forever stained her skin.
She was his.
Nothing could ever remove the memory of him from her skin, nothing could ever hope of come between two souls so hopelessly tangled in a web such intense love that there was no distinction between one and the other. She looked at his precious face, her eyes moist. He was her beloved. Her husband.
He grunted as her body tightened like a vice around him. His lips slamming against hers in a harsh, blind kiss, he gripped her hips tightly at the sudden hike in pleasure.
Suddenly he went rigid in her arms and she gasped. At the peak of his ecstasy, the world around him blurred, his wife's brilliant eyes was his only anchor. "Noriko…" he groaned, sinking his teeth into the soft flesh of her shoulder and he jerked in her embrace, releasing deep within her.
All strength suddenly left him and he fell, gasping, on top of her delicate body. Gathering her possessively in his arms he turned onto his back, letting his enchantress lay limply, exhausted, on his chest.
"Maybe mother will get her wish after all." He spoke slyly into her ear.
"Teme!" she hit him with a pillow.
Having a warm woman on his lap, responding to his teasing touches and kisses so amusingly was a new experience for Sasuke. One that he enjoyed immensely.
Noriko was positively glowing despite the disgruntled frown on her face that was there because of his antics. Several times, she had tired to get up but he wouldn't let her. Now that he had his hands on her, he would touch her, kiss her, make love to her whenever he desired.
He snapped his eyes towards the door as it banged open, his arms tightening protectively around his wife.
"Kou-chan!" She laughed and Sasuke scowled at the black blur launched itself at them, landing deftly on Noriko's lap. Sasuke grunted at the suddenly increase in weight and narrowed his eyes on his son.
"Tou-tan! Tachi-ji-tan took Kou-chan to office! Tou-tan wasn't there!" The child looked disappointed. "Kou-chan wanted to see Tou-tan in office! Hina-ba-chan said that tou-tan was a big boss. Kou-chan wanted to see Tou-tan be big boss!"
"Kouhei-kun, I am sure your otou-san will take you to office with him someday." Itachi's amused voice came from the doorway, his lips curling into that Uchiha smirk at the sight of Noriko's blush.
"Come on, Kou-chan," Noriko said hastily as she got off her husband's lap, "Tell me about you day with Tachi-ji-san." She smiled shyly at her brother-in-law before glaring at her husband and walking swiftly out of the room.
Sasuke watched her leave with dark, smoky eyes before turning to his brother with a raised brow. "Big boss?"
Itachi smirked, "It would seem that behind your back, Kouhei thinks that the world revolves around the sun because you say so." Coal black eyes were amused, "You happen to be his superhero." Sasuke snorted in disbelief at which the older Uchiha chuckled. "I believe his exact wording was 'My Tou-tan is the best Tou-tan in the world. Tou-tan is never wrong!'"
Sasuke raised a brow and shook his head in amusement. "Who knew?"
"So…" The older Uchiha smirked.
"You finally managed to make her yours?"
Sasuke's eyes widened as he looked at Itachi in disbelief.
Itachi leaned back and crossed his arms, "You should know by now, otouto." Black eyes gleamed, "You can never hide your pain from me. I will always know."
"I knew there was something off when you announced that you had asked her to marry you, Sasuke." Itachi's lips curled into a slight scowl. "I knew Namikaze Noriko well, though not personally. I knew that she was much more dedicated to her studies and career than most. She did not indulge in socialization much, even if she had a group of good friends." The older Uchiha narrowed his eyes, "Even if you were involved, she would have insisted that she should complete her MBA course before marriage."
Sasuke scowled. He knew that and it was disconcerting that his brother had figured it out. "How did you know?"
Itachi smirked, "I had planned on courting her before you even met her, Sasuke."
The younger Uchiha started in surprise, looking at Itachi with wide eyes. "Courting?"
Itachi nodded, "I liked her. She is a unique woman after all."
"Aniki… I… gomen." He whispered, shocked from the sudden confession. He looked up suddenly when a hand landed on his head. "I was more concerned about you than I was about her, otouto. Your hasty decision to marry her was alarming. When you announced that she was pregnant, everything fell into place. Both of you are intelligent people, I do not believe that you would have planned to have a child so early in your married life."
Sasuke became silent after that and Itachi leaned back, watching his little brother with impassive eyes. "You were hurting, Sasuke and she was too. Both of you were young, both of you had certain misconceptions about marriage and parenthood. You were not fit to be in such a relationship so early in your lives." He tilted his head to the side in consideration. "Noriko has led a very sheltered life, Sasuke. I did not know how well she would adjust in the roles of a wife and a mother. She was just as confused as you were, if not more."
"I was about to interfere when I saw what this marriage was doing to you. A few months after Kouhei was born, you had started to withdraw. I would have confronted both of you then… however…"
Itachi's eyes softened just a bit, "She fell in love with you. She was in so much pain, Sasuke, you were not aware of it, but I was. Kyuu was too. She was too inexperienced and naïve and your indifference did not help matters."
Sasuke scowled, he should have noticed. How did that slip past him?
"She is what you needed, Sasuke. You had become too cynical, too cold and uncaring. No one but a person like her would have been able to break that." He looked at Sasuke in the eye, "Consider yourself lucky otouto."
Sasuke looked at Itachi intently, his brows furrowing, "Do you love her?"
Itachi looked amused as he stood to leave, "I am fond of her, yes. She is family after all and having a sister is a pleasant experience."
The younger Uchiha nodded thoughtfully before tilting his head up and looking at his older brother. "Thank you, aniki."
Itachi paused, looking down at Sasuke intently before nodding. "See you tomorrow, otouto."
Sasuke watched as his brother left before leaned back, pondering over the new information. He smirked and shook his head before standing to look for his wife and child.
He found them in the gardens. Noriko was sitting on a bench and Kouhei was running about, speaking to her in a loud, exited voice. Her face was the very picture of amused indulgence, her eyes keen, protectively watching her child, half-afraid that he would trip and injure himself.
He smirked to himself and sneaked behind the little boy, being as silent as possible. Noriko stifled a laugh behind her hand as she watched him, her bright eyes curious.
Suddenly, he swooped down and swept his little boy off his feet and into his arms, causing Kouhei to shriek in laughter.
Sasuke smirked as he looked up at the child he held above him, in the air, "Yes, ouji-sama?"
"Do that again!" His little boy ordered and Noriko laughed. He tossed the child in the air again, catching him deftly, enticing another round of childish laughter. "Again, again!"
Sasuke chuckled as he indulged Kouhei, taking delight in watching that small face flush in excitement. "How was that, my precious one?"
Kouhei didn't answered, his body still shaking with giggles. He rubbed his face in his father shoulder back and forth, his small hands fisted in the silken material of Sasuke's yukata. "That's enough, Kou-chan." Noriko said gently, her eyes dancing. She procured a small handkerchief and wiped the sweat on her child's face before kissing a flushed cheek.
Being reminded of his mother's presence caused him to squirm out of Sasuke's arms and into his mothers. She gave a long-suffering sigh and looked up at her amused husband, "It's hopeless."
Sasuke chuckled before leaning down and kissing her softly. "Maybe it is," he whispered, "But you are giving me another child sometime soon, I will make certain that that child favors me."
Noriko pressed Kouhei's ear to her shoulder, placing her hand on the other free ear before she glared at him, "Teme, I didn't agree to anything!"
Her husband just smirked infuriatingly, "We shall see, Noriko, we shall see."
Not long after, the new Uchiha heiress was born. Sasuke fondly named her Uchiha Tsukiko and unfortunately, for him, at the tender age of 18 months, she became the official member of the 'Kaa-chan' fanclub.
He had to agree. It was hopeless.
(1) "It is so simple to be happy yet so difficult to be simple" is one of my favorite quotes by Harindranath Chattopadhyay. I think I carries a wealth of meaning.