A/N: Okay, so leave it to me to start my new fic on a Monday. God, do Monday's suck. I really hope you like the first chapter. It's kind of light and fun, but I think it's full of promise. Oh, and I intend to go in a whole new direction here, so bear with me.

This fic is the sequel to 'Forced Hand', so I would recommend reading that first. Also, read 'Blood Bond'.

Please review. I like to know if my readers actually like what I'm writing. So thanks for reading my latest attempt to fend off boredom.

None of the Naruto characters belong to me. And, yes I would still sell Sasuke on ebay, if he were mine.

Becoming Inuzuka

A New Day

Sakura rolled to the other side of the bed. It was morning, and she really needed to get up. But their bed was just way too comfortable, even if he had left early that morning. Without waking her to say goodbye. Of course, she would have let him sleep, too, if it were she leaving at the crack of dawn for a mission. That was kind of their unspoken agreement. They always said their goodbyes the night before one of them left.

The woman sighed as she snuggled even closer to Kiba's side of the bed. It smelled wonderful, his scent drenched the pillow, and it made her long for him even more. She really hated when he had to leave for so long. But, she had to deal with it; such was the life of an elite shinobi. Between his missions and leading the clan, her husband had little time to spare, but he always found time for her. He always showed her how much he loved her.

And did he ever show his love last night. My whole body hurts. Sakura's inner voice announced happily.

The woman groaned and pulled her pillow over her face. Which had turned bright pink at the memories of their extremely...noisy? goodbye. They had even managed to earn a knock on the wall from his sister who used the adjacent room whenever she deigned to stay at the compound. That was sure to be an embarrassing encounter when she had to face Hana this morning.

Once again, Sakura sighed. She had to get out of bed. End of story. If Kiba were here, he would already be up and attending to his duties. And she couldn't shirk hers even if it meant sleeping in for just one day. Even two years after their marriage, the two still had a lot to prove.

Kiba had delved himself whole-heartedly in his responsibilities, working with the clan's council for the good of all Inuzukas. Plus, he was still an active member of his shinobi team, which meant that he was often out on missions. It had been Sakura's duty to step in as the female of the Alpha pair in an attempt to keep things running smoothly. One of the first things that the woman had realized was that, at any time, both could be called away on missions, so she had volunteered to bump her status down to part-time. This meant that she was still on active duty as a shinobi, but she would only be called to a mission when absolutely necessary. Her husband had not liked the idea, because he knew how much being a kunoichi meant to his wife, but she had countered his argument by stating that she wanted to focus her energy on becoming the primary medic for their clan. This elicited many nods of approval from the council, and Kiba'd had no choice but to relent.

Thus, the girl found herself sighing in the comfort of her bed, not wanting to get up. Whoever invented Mondays was surely related to the devil. Of all the days of the week, her Mondays were the worst. She would start out the day with a short shift at the hospital, then she would visit Hana at the veterinary clinic. Both women had felt that, since Inuzukas were so dog-like by nature, Sakura should learn the basics of veterinary medicine so that she could work with any Inuzuka and his or her companion. More nods of approval from the council.

Then, after a few hours with her sister-in-law, the girl would preside over the weekly council meeting. This was the worst part of her day. She really did want to know about clan politics...really. But, it was just so boring. It was days like this that she truly appreciated her husband, well, that, and nights like last night.

Her face tinted the same shade as her hair as she fought back memories of the previous evening. She had caught the scent of her own musk, and knew that she needed to calm down else the other members of the house would give her weird looks when she went down for breakfast. So, she finally pulled herself out of bed and made her way to the shower.

A few minutes later the pink-haired med-nin was wiping the condensation from the bathroom mirror while humming tunelessly. Even if it was Monday, she sure wasn't going to start the day off complaining. Best to face the day as cheerfully as possible. As she made another pass across the mirrored surface, the woman noticed the jagged claws on her hand.

Guess it was time to trim her nails and file them down. The woman sighed heavily. Seems that she did that a lot in the mornings, when faced with joining the living. Oh, yeah, must remember to be happy about Mondays. Sakura shook herself from these thoughts as she rummaged in the medicine cabinet for her manicure tools.

Not that she really cared about frivolous things like manicures, but it had become necessary to own a kit. Especially since her wedding night, when she and Kiba had performed the Bonding ritual for their clan. They had already marked one another as mates, but it was necessary to do so in front of the council of elders, so that their claim would be legitimate. And, since the Blood Ritual also included chakra-infusion, the two had passed traits on to one another.

After Kiba had initially marked her as his mate, she had acquired his sense of smell and some of the Inuzuka's animal-like agility. Upon marking him, she shared some of her own chakra control.

When they renewed their marks, the two had gained even more of each other's characteristics. Kiba had taken on some of her Genjutsu-detection, while she took on some of his physical traits. Thus, the elongated finger nails and fangs. After the girl had woken up with small cuts all over her body from self-inflicted scratches, she had wanted to file her nails down, but Kiba told her that their kin may take that as an insult. She would have to learn to live with the claws. Not that they were really very practical to a medic who needed to be able to touch a patient without ripping them to shreds. So, she had conceded to keeping them only if she could blunt the tips just a little.

Now, the girl found herself sitting on the edge of the bathtub hastily filing her claws to where they would not inflict undo damage to the people she would have to touch today. Another heart-felt sigh.

After finally getting the talons that made up the ends of her fingers to a remotely manageable length, the girl dressed herself. Then she headed down to the kitchen to begin her day.

"Oh look who it is," sang Hana's voice as Sakura entered the kitchen. "I really didn't expect to see you so early this morning. It sounded like my brother went full canine on you last night." Her dark eyes sparkled merrily. The younger woman could only blush as she tried not to make eye contact with Kiba's sister.

"Hana-chan, leave Sakura-chan alone. How do you think I conceived you?" Tsume's voice rang out. Sakura nearly flinched at the woman's use of endearment toward her. They had started their relationship off rather precariously, but the woman had seemed to have taken a liking to her daughter-in-law very recently.

"Mom, that's gross."

"Well, I think they have a healthy love life." Sakura's face burned red at the older woman's blatant nonchalance toward her sex life. "It only means that I'll have grandchildren very soon. Since I can't rely on you for that, huh, Hana?" She shot a glare at her daughter. Sakura fidgeted uncomfortably, finally knowing part of the older woman's acceptance. She wanted grandkids.

Tsume glared at her own daughter for another moment, then she turned her gaze to the bright red face that was topped off with vibrant pink hair. She could barely hold in a laugh at the girl's expense. Though she had been hard on the kids at first, she had come to realize that both Kiba and Sakura were very capable, and that they did, in fact, want what was best for those around them. Kiba had thrown himself into his work, and Sakura had joined him to the best of her abilities. Plus, the dark-haired woman had realized that the two had enough people working against them without her adding more turmoil. That, and she really was ready to be a grandma. And Hana wasn't even about to help out there. Time to start buttering up with Sakura.

"Well, ladies, why don't we enjoy our breakfast before it gets cold," Tsume spoke while hustling both young women into chairs that surrounded a table laden with breakfast foods.

"Tsume, you didn't have to go to all of this trouble..." began the young woman with pale hair.

"Oh, it's no trouble. I am no longer the leader of a clan, so now I can focus on performing domestic activities. Well, when I'm not away on missions, of course."

"Yeah, but you're letting Kuromaru get fat," reprimanded Hana.

They heard a low growl from under the kitchen table.

"I am not fat, pup. I am nothing but lean muscle," came Kuromaru's deep voice.

Sakura giggled while Hana sighed when Tsume dropped several pieces of bacon on the floor for her companion.

"I swear, you're going to give that mutt a heart attack," Hana grumbled at her mother.

Another, more menacing growl stopped her short before she could finish chastising her mother, and Sakura could no longer hold in her laughter at the conversation. The others looked at her, confused, but she waved them off. Apparently only she understood the irony of complaining to the former head of the Inuzuka clan about how she cared for her companion. Thinking on it some more, she saw that maybe it wasn't so funny after all. But the look on Hana's face at being growled at by Kuromaru sure was, and Sakura giggled again.

After her humorous breakfast with her in-laws, Sakura headed toward Konoha's hospital. She closed the front door behind her, and walked away from the home that she shared with Kiba, Tsume, Hana, and their canine-companions. It still struck the medic as weird to share a home with her mother- and sister-in-law, but that was just how the Inuzuka clan did things.

The day that they had told Tsume about their Bond, the woman had invited them to eat breakfast with her. It was then that she stated that it was expected for Sakura to move in immediately. The young lady had blanched viciously, and repeatedly refused. She was not comfortable with throwing the family into chaos so easily. Understanding that both women would not agree on when Sakura should move in, Kiba had come up with a compromise. So, their wedding night was her first night in her new home.

She had been put out by their taking over of the master bedroom; she would have been content with a small spare room, but Tsume would not have it. She had claimed that as the Alphas of the clan, they had inherited the clan leader's home, and all that it held. Thus, she had had her things moved to a spare room at the back of the house, so that the newly weds could enjoy their new room on their first night in their house.

The pink-haired woman did have to admit that she loved the room, and the bed was absolutely divine. But she felt bad that Tsume had given up so much just for her. The woman had only waved this off as her duty to both her clan and her family, and that ended the conversation.

With a fleeting thought as to how soft her bed was, and how much she wanted to go back up to it, Sakura headed toward her destination.