A/N: I'm back. Just thought you guys might like a little one-shot while I finish deciding on where to start the sequel to 'Forced Hand'. This takes place a few weeks after 'Forced Hand', and it incorporates Tsume's reaction to Kiba's claiming of Sakura. I know many of my readers wanted to know how that went down, so here goes. Hope you like this.
This is rated M because of language and innuendo. No lemon, but a little fluffyness.
The wonderful sodapops was inspired to do a fanfic based on my portrayal of Kiba and Sakura. Check it out.
Don't own Naruto.
Are you actually going through with this? A familiar voice asked from inside her head.
Where have you been? Sakura asked her inner self. The obnoxious phantom had been quite absent over the past few weeks.
I've been here. You just haven't needed me. So, answer my question. Are you going to do this? For real?
Well...yeah. I did make a promise. The pink-haired woman shrugged at her own reflection. She was sitting in front of a large mirror preparing for the life altering day that lay ahead of her.
Is that why you're doing this? If that's the reason, you need to run away...now!!
No, you've got it wrong. I have to do this because it's expected of us. We've committed ourselves; this is just necessary to appease the council. Sakura nearly laughed out loud at herself. Her inner self had blanched at the idea of doing this just because of a promise.
Well, that was true; she had promised him that she would do this, but that wasn't her reasoning. Not really. The fact was, she loved him with all of her being. And, if that meant that she would have to be under constant scrutiny from the clan...then so be it. She just wished that they would lighten up a little.
The woman sighed heavily as she glanced around the room. She wished Ino and Naruto could be here. Hell, she almost wished for any one of her former teammates. But, alas, it just couldn't happen. A smile crossed her face, thinking of her old team. Naruto would be beside himself with worry and excitement; he would definitely end up offending someone. Sai would just smile his fake smile while wishing her well as Sasuke brooded darkly beside him. Kakashi would just stand there silently taking everything in...or flirt obscenely with any one of the single ladies in proximity. Maybe it was a good thing that the boys couldn't be here for this. She just wished she had someone to talk to.
It's not every day that a girl gets married. To a guy she barely knew. And one that she had only fallen in love with a month ago. And was pulled into being a leading member of one of Konoha's prominent clans. Oh, and she was getting married, too...
Sakura was pulled from her pensive thoughts by a light knock on the door. She called for the person to enter; nearly jumping to answer it at the prospect of human interaction. She probably would have, too, if it weren't for this damned kimono. If she stood, she would probably fall and break her face. That would be a wonderful story to look back on. Kids, on our wedding day, your grandma fell down and broke her face...She could just see it now.
"Ah, Sakura-san, you look lovely," came Inuzuka Tsume's voice. It was not the cold harshness that Sakura always expected from the woman, but it wasn't exactly warm, either. The female dog-nin's tone was that of acceptance and nothing else. The med-nin was pulled into memories of how she and Kiba had told her that they had become mates.
They had entered the Inuzuka home, early the morning after Kiba had marked her as his to find Tsume sitting at the kitchen table, fuming.
"Tsunade-sama warned me that this would happen. I didn't think it would be so soon, though. Do you even understand what the fuck you have done, pup?" She sat back in her chair and crossed her arms, glaring. She had been able to smell their Bond even before that had entered the room. What was her pup playing at? She had strictly forbidden this relationship out of sheer need to protect him, and he had taken his retaliation way too far. He was risking so much just to prove a point. That's the only answer her mind could formulate. Why else would he have claimed the girl without announcing it to the council.
"Mom...don't get all bent out of shape on this. I thought you'd be happy about this." Kiba had put his arm across Sakura's shoulders to make his point. "This is my decision, and I stand by it." Tsume growled at her son, and the sound was echoed by another deeper rumble from under the table. Kuromaru's eyes had glinted; he hadn't liked the tension in the room. Akamaru had let out a whine from beside Kiba, and had moved to sit near Sakura's feet as if trying to give her courage.
The Inuzuka mother had directed her stare at her daughter-in-law, and brown locked with emerald. The girl had remembered what Kiba had said about not looking away, but at that moment she didn't want to be pulled into a staring match with the Alpha bitch of the clan of canine-handlers. The young kunoichi had licked her lips and shifted her weight nervously, but she held the woman's gaze. For a few minutes, anyways. It got to be too much, and she had to look away. That woman's eyes were fierce and intense with the need to protect her family and her clan. And Sakura had known she couldn't compete.
After looking at her hands for a moment, the girl had stolen a glance at the man standing next to her. She knew that she had blown this meeting. Kiba's mom would never accept her because she had not been able to grow a backbone. It really sucked having everything balance on one stupid little staring match. But, when in Rome, do as the dogs do.
She had expected him to look at her disgusted and scornful at her inability to be strong. She had not expected him to give her a wink and a sideways smirk. He couldn't help it. The girl was just too cute. She was scared to death of his mother, and she didn't want to offend the woman. And, he had to admit that she had handled Tsume's display of dominance way better than most men did. He could tell by her heartbeat that she had thought that she had blown the whole thing. Suddenly the elder kunoichi's voice broke in.
"I told you that she couldn't handle the responsibility. And now you mock me, and you mock everything that this clan stands for by marking her. Kiba, do you realize that she will have to head this clan if you die!" The woman had been near shouting by that point, and she had thrust her hand towards Sakura who had gone wide-eyed in shock. The boy winced at this. He knew that she didn't know all of the implications of being his mate, and that was all his fault. Yes, he should have thought it through more, but he had marked her in the heat of love-making. And he didn't regret it one bit. Now, he just needed to convince both women that the decision was for the best.
"Mother, you have researched all of the eligible kunoichi in Konoha, am I correct?" The woman had nodded slowly. Where was he going with this?
"So, you know the strengths and weaknesses of them all, right." Another nod. He turned to his woman.
"Sakura, give us a rundown of your stats as a shinobi." The girl looked at him, confused.
"Graduated second in class from the Academy. Former member of Team 7 and Team Kakashi. Obtained Chuunin level at 14; Jounin at 16. Genjutsu-detection type. Apprentice to Tsunade, Hokage of Konoha, and expert in chakra control. Use of chakra as medic and in fighting with Taijutsu." The girl had droned out her stats, giving Kiba a weird look. She was interrupted by the older woman.
"Weakest member of both her teams, and very little use on most missions. Even after becoming a medic, often unable to be of real assistance to teammates. And constantly having to have her ass saved," rolled Tsume's voice in a bored tone. Sakura inhaled sharply. So that's what this was about? Why was she always being judged by the mistakes she had made as a child? She was older, more experienced, and she didn't need to be saved constantly now.
"As I recall, you even had to be saved from kidnapping on your last mission." The woman's gaze had flickered to her son. "You had to rush to her rescue, right son? Then rush her back here to the hospital before she died?" The woman's voice was sharp like needles.
"We accomplished our mission," came Sakura's calm voice. There had been a restrained calm in her tone. One that Kiba understood only barely covered her anger. He almost laughed out loud. Both women were rising to his bait all too easily. He had expected Tsume to try to back Sakura into a corner. Now he only hoped his fiance could deliver her end.
"But, to what extent, girl? As medic of a team, aren't you supposed to stay as far away from action as possible so that you can step in and heal your comrades without risking your own life?" This had caused the girl to stiffen, and the older woman had smiled a smug grin.
"I understand that that is what is ideal," Sakura had ground out, "but, in battle, things do not always go ideally. I was hit over the head just because I was another woman, and they thought they could ransom me. They weren't expecting me to fight back, and kill one of then in the process."
"And you still managed to need assistance when it came to securing the hostage." Tsume had been glaring directly at the girl at this point. Sakura had met her gaze and had not faltered. Her jaw had tightened with the conviction not to show weakness to her tormentor.
"I held him at bay until back up could get there. I was in no shape to fight the man, but I tried my hardest to get him to release the hostage and to turn his attention on me. He wouldn't buy my stalling, but I was still able to hold him up until Kiba and the Kazekage showed up to save the woman." She had looked coldly at the older woman, a glint in her emerald eyes that Kiba had never seen. It was almost feral and dangerous. He nearly feared for what may happen if this kept up.
"You do not look away, little bitch," Tsume snarled with her fangs bared. "Do you presume to challenge me in my own home?" Shit, things were not supposed to go this far. Kiba had moved to stand between the two women. He was suddenly engulfed in the pure anger that radiated from his girl. It had been directed at him...What was wrong with her?
The future leader of the Inuzukas turned to his woman and gave her a look of astonishment. Her eyes had been blazing with fury; her teeth bared in a sneer that held utter contempt toward him.
"Don't get in the way, Kitten." The girl's voice had still been startlingly calm. "If fighting your mother is the only way to prove that I'm serious, then so be it." She had leveled her gaze back on the other woman. "Just know that I will be the victor, and I will become the Alpha female of this clan. My place is at Kiba's side as his mate, and you can't stop me from claiming it."
Suddenly, as if in response to her swirling emotions, Sakura's chakra had surged around her. It did not strike out, it just enveloped her. The jaws of the other occupants of the room had dropped, and they stared at her, wide-eyed.
"Pink, what is that?"
The girl had looked back at Kiba, perplexed. The green field that had surrounded her began to dissipate. "What? Why are you looking at me like that?"
"I knew you had great chakra control, but the only time I've ever seen a person's chakra was with the Chidori. How did you do that?" Tsume had picked her jaw back up, and was eyeing the girl with awe.
"What do you mean? I didn't do anything. I directed my chakra to flow close to my skin so that I could use it easily, if I needed to. That's my secret to using it so readily." The girl had flushed at all of their stares as both dogs came up to sniff her. Akamaru spoke.
"I have never felt malevolent chakra from you, Sakura, but that was pretty close. It was like you were ready to kill anyone who touched you."
"Has this ever happened before?" Asked Kuromaru. He had sniffed the woman's hand carefully.
A pink brow had arched in contemplation. "No, I've never done anything like that. I can flare my medical chakra around me for purposes in healing, but I've never done it without thinking. And never in anger."
"Well, I think this is something we need to look into." Tsume had risen from the table to begin searching the kitchen cabinets. "But, for now, how about some breakfast, while we discuss how to break the news to the clan elders."
Sakura had paused in the thorough scratching she had begun to give Kuromaru's ear, and she opened her mouth to question the woman's words, when she caught Kiba's smile. He shook his head and winked at her. Maybe he was right, it really wasn't a good idea to question why the woman had had a change of heart. She just needed to accept it.
Now, Sakura found herself sitting in a spare room in the home of the current Alpha of the Inuzuka clan, preparing to perform the Bonding ceremony with the woman's son, and she still had no idea how to react to the woman's presence. So, she bowed her head while blushing lightly.
"Thank you, Inuzuka-san." She felt a soft touch pull her chin up.
"I have told you, Sakura, call me Tsume. After all, though it may not be legal, yet, you are my daughter-in-law. We should at least address one another appropriately." Then, she went on the change the subject. "Are you sure that you wish to wear that lovely kimono today? You may get blood on it."
Sakura turned back to the mirror to resume her work on her hair. The pink mass was still a mess, and she had no experience with trying to make it look presentable for such an occasion. She glanced at Tsume who was watching her wistfully, as the girl fought her tangles.
"I am sure. My mother gave me this wedding kimono, and I intend to wear it for my wedding. And, since this is a blood ritual, I am fully prepared for it to be stained. That is just the way things are, and I will cherish my wedding kimono no matter what happens." She tugged a particularly hard knot out of her hair, then sighed at the prospect of not being able to get the locks to obey.
Tsume took the brush from her hands and began to run it through the tresses.
"Relax, Sakura, I know this is a big day for you, but your trials are only just beginning. Please, just enjoy today for what it is." She worked the hair into a spectacular twist at the back of the girl's head. She paused, lightly touching the spot where the young kunoichi had been injured only a few weeks prior.
"Is it still tender?"
"No, I don't feel any pain at all, which is good. It means that there was no long term damage internally, either." Sakura glanced at Tsume through the mirror.
The woman caught her look and smiled. "Good, Kiba would be lost without you." Sakura had no idea how to answer that, but the woman broke the awkwardness.
"Now stand, so I can tie your obi. It is nearly time for us to begin the ceremony."
A few minutes later found Sakura standing in the foyer of the meeting hall that belonged to the Inuzukas. She would have paced, but her movement was restricted by the kimono that she was wearing. So, she leaned heavily against the wall waiting to be called into the main room.
Kiba was in much the same frame of mind as his girl. He would have been pacing as well, had he not been locked in a battle of wills with the council of elders. Tsume had begun talks a few weeks ago about Kiba's decision to mark Sakura as his mate, and he had thought the elders had come around. After all, they had agreed that he could marry a kunoichi if he found one who was suitable. But, they had thought that they would have some say in it, and he had taken that away from them.
Today, however, all of the council had met and spoke to the pink-haired lady, and most of them had agreed that with a little guidance, she would do well. That is most except for Kumo. That man was usually very reserved, and he very rarely spoke his mind during clan meetings. But, he had been very vocal about this issue. All who were involved knew that this was because of his ambition to have his daughter married to Kiba, so that he could be in a position to have a say in clan politics. And, the announcement of Kiba's engagement to Sakura had completely thwarted his plans.
Tsume had told her son not to worry; that they would come around. And, that not all of the council needed to agree for the ceremony to happen. Thus, he found himself, on his wedding day, listening to this man attempt a last ditch effort to stop the ceremony. At Kumo's attempt to question Sakura's abilities, Kiba spoke.
"If you'll excuse me, Kumo-san. It is time to get this started. If you don't mind, I would like for the council to vote so that we can move on with our lives. I would very much like to start my honeymoon soon." This elicited some laughs from Inuzukas who were gathered around the perimeter of the room. This was a monumental event, so all of the clan had been invited to witness.
The council voted, and Kiba threw a smug smile a Kumo who was the only one to vote against the union. Kumo grumbled under his breath about insolent pups and pink-haired bitches as he left the room, with a few followers in tow. Kiba was glad that most of the council was willing to give Sakura a chance, since he knew that there were plenty of their kin who did not want to have her as their leader's wife.
Kiba turned to his mother, who nodded and went to the door to fetch the bride-to-be. The girl seemed to resist, and Tsume had to physically drag her into the large room by the hand. Kiba was lost in her visage for a moment, and forgot what they were there to do.
Sakura was a vision in her ceremonial kimono. The garment was the deep crimson of the Haruno family, and it had white trim around the sleeves and the hem which drug the ground. Along the edge of the white trim, there were sakura petals made of the palest of pink silk. The petals twirled as if caught in a breeze, and they were accented with gold swirls. A delicate looking white obi circled her waste, and accented the whole outfit beautifully. The girl's pink hair had been pulled into a twist that lay at the back of her head along the base of her neck. Her eyes sparkled with unshed tears from all of the emotions that poured from her body.
Kiba inhaled the beautiful scent as if it sustained him. Their combined fragrance of rain-soaked cherry blossoms mixed with a wild and free breeze grew stronger each day they were together. And, now that aroma was overlaid with her excitement, nervousness, fear, and pride. He smiled wickedly at the woman; she was confident in herself as she walked into the room full of Inuzukas, and he wanted it no other way.
Sakura met the boy's grin with one of her own as she entered the room. She nearly salivated at the way he looked at that moment. Her man wore a deep brown ceremonial kimono that was patterned with small red triangles that matched the clan markings on his face. Kiba's deep brown hair was actually brushed, but it still looked roguishly disheveled, and his golden eyes twinkled with excitement.
"Members of the great Inuzuka Clan, may I present Haruno Sakura," came Tsume's level voice. "Chosen life-mate of Kiba, heir to the clan, and therefore, your new Mistress." She gestured to said woman who bowed gracefully to all sides of the room in turn.
Tsume smiled. This was not expected as proven by the gasps from several of the spectators. Sakura had just shown the crowd the utmost respect by acknowledging them. Perhaps the girl was smarter than she had previously thought. And, as the girl made her way to where the council sat, Tsume caught the arrogant smile on her son's face.
Sakura bowed to the council, then took her place on the floor beside Kiba. It was then, that she noticed the Hokage seated at the end of the elders' table. Her brows furrowed for a moment as she wondered why her shishou was there, but realization struck quickly. Oh yeah, as Hokage, Tsunade had to preside over all of the clans' marriages. This legitimized them, and made then legal. Just great, her shishou was going to watch as she performed a blood ritual that bonded her body to a man's. Well, at least there was someone there that she knew. She suddenly didn't feel so lonely.
The med-nin then looked at the man sitting next to her. Abruptly, she knew that everything would work out. He was here, with her, and he loved her. They were about to start down a path that meant something, and that's all they both needed. All thoughts of loneliness and sadness were lost when the dog-trainer gave her a soft smile and placed his hand in hers. Both, then looked to the council to hear what was about to be said.
The leader of the council stood and spoke to the two sitting before him as well as to the room.
"Inuzuka Kiba, you are about to embark on the journey through life with this woman whom you have chosen as you life-mate." His gaze then shifted toward Sakura, a small smile curving his lips. "Haruno Sakura, though you are not of this clan, you have been chosen to become a member. You will be expected to honor all of its laws as though you were born an Inuzuka. Now, having that said," he spread his arms toward the couple, "Kiba and Sakura, you will now bond your lives and your souls together. From this day forth, you will live as one and act as one. May your time together be happy and long."
Tsume stood and took charge of the proceedings from there. She motioned for the Hokage to join them at the front of the room. Sakura was puzzled for a moment, then she understood what was going on. Tsunade would assist her in moving to face Kiba as well as shifting her clothing in order to perform the Bonding. Her shishou was acting as her parent on this important day, and the girl warmed with so much gratitude toward her boss.
Both elder kunoichi assisted their charges in turning toward one another with much shifting and smoothing of clothing. Ceremonial kimonos were not practical when shifting while kneeling on the floor. Once the two were in place, the women moved their clothing from their shoulders. Tsume glanced at the still-raw, very human-looking bite mark on her son's neck and nearly blushed at the thought that the two had already completed the ritual on their own.
The mothers moved back from the children, and Tsume's voice rang out. This was the voice of the woman who had led the clan for a very long time.
"Now, by completing the Blood Bond and sharing chakra, you will be joined as one. You become the Alpha of the Inuzuka clan, and you will lead the clan from this moment on." Silence spread throughout the room as all eyes glued to the young shinobi who were in the center of the room. Kiba gulped as he saw panic seep into Sakura's eyes. Time to do this, now, before they both lost their nerve.
He gripped the girl by her shoulders and leaned in to nuzzle her throat. Sakura tensed as she felt the dog-nin's tongue flick out to touch the scars that had formed where his fangs had punctured her the night he had marked her as his. She then melted as she heard his low rumble, meant only for her ears.
"Pink, don't chicken out on me now. I already know what you taste like, and I need more. Let's get this done so we can 'bond' in a different way." He felt her arms wrap around his ribs as she hugged him tightly.
"Why, Kitten, I do believe that you have become somewhat of a lech." She whispered back.
The low chuckle that met her sent chills through her body that pooled in her stomach.
"You already knew about that, and you love me even more because of it."
She kissed his ear, and smiled against his throat.
"I suppose." And she sighed for just a moment as she felt his fangs graze her skin. When the elongated canines broke the skin ever so lightly, the pink-haired beauty sunk her teeth into the brunette boy's throat in the same place that she had already tasted the week before.
Kiba let out a small growl and Sakura moaned softly as they both tasted blood from the bites that they were inflicting. It was then, that Sakura felt the tell-tale twinge of foreign chakra being forced into her body. She followed suit by shifting her own energy into the boy's neck.
They infused their chakra for just a moment, then released one another. They held one another close for a few long minutes before they felt the hands of the older kunoichi as they attempted to make the two decent once again. Tsume did not miss the cloudy lust that she saw in her son's eyes and glanced at her daughter-in-law to be met with the same gaze. Time to get this over with, or they may witness another entirely different form of bonding.
The former Alpha female of the Inuzuka clan gripped the hands of the newly weds and helped them to stand.
"I present to you the Alpha of Clan Inuzuka, Inuzuka Kiba and Inuzuka Sakura." The two were shaken out of their haze with the resounding cheer that sounded throughout the room. Now, it was time for the party to begin.
Several hours later, Sakura found herself whisked away from her extremely drunk shishou and mother-in-law by her husband. He picked her up bodily and ducked from the party swiftly, not even bothering to be discreet. Oh, well, everyone knew what they would be doing that night anyways, why not announce it?
The dark-haired dog-nin plopped his wife down on the bed and began to heatedly kiss her. He broke off after a moment, to allow her to catch her fleeting breath.
"You're all mine now." And Sakura had no time to contemplate the implications of this phrase as the Alpha male asserted his dominance over her body over and over again.