Beta-ed by: ItachixSakura Forever, MelissaRose85
Characters/Pairing: Haruno Sakura and Uchiha Itachi
Type: One-shot (Complete)
Word Count: 1964
Theme: LJ Community, 50-shinobi theme #19, applesauce
Rating: T (Contains content not suitable for children)
Disclaimer: Naruto belongs to Kishimoto-san.
Summary: A name. It was all he could give to her. Gift fic for a good friend, Anariel Tindomerel.
A/N: I have to explain this plot. Firstly, it's Anariel's, and this was just a small scene that she had described to me before. I only put to paper (or rather, MS Word) her idea, and basically, the plot goes something like this. It's CU; Sasuke is married to Sakura but only treats her as a baby-making machine. Unfortunately though, he is impotent (dead spermatozoa, according to Anariel) due to the manifestation of his curse seal. He is not aware of his condition. Lonely and neglected, Sakura eventually meets Itachi by accident during a mission. After multiple chance encounters, they embark on an affair. The secret affair carries on for a couple of years, until Sakura accidentally gets pregnant. The paternity of the newborn baby girl is then claimed by an oblivious Sasuke, and that is where this one shot begins.
Completion on: 28/04/08
Chapter Last Revised on: 16/07/08
He went perfectly still as Sakura handed him the little two month old babe. Reflex quickly taking over, he immediately, albeit somewhat awkwardly, took over the act of holding the newborn in his arms as the young mother let go of her child, instinctively cupping the baby's head in his large hand as his other forearm served as a living cradle for her tiny body.
Fortunately, the baby girl remained mostly unaffected by her sudden change in handler. She yawned softly instead; small, pink mouth stretched open as widely as she could before closing it again, smacking her lips softly as she blinked open dark, unfocused eyes to look at her surroundings.
The steady, crimson eyes from above her attracted her attention almost immediately, and the little one looked into the mesmerizing Sharingan with innocent, guileless curiosity. For the first time ever, father and daughter stared at each other.
For the rest of his life, Itachi would remember the feel of his two-month old daughter in his arms, brief as the moment was. Her powdery baby scent was gentle and oddly soothing to his senses. She was so very tiny and heart achingly fragile compared to his hardened self, her little face red and chubby, a baby-soft tuft of pure raven hair sprouting from the top of her little head. He looked at her small fists, her little fingers perfect and well formed as she clenched and unclenched them, and unconsciously, his hold on this little bundle of life that was his own flesh and blood tightened imperceptibly.
Sakura watched quietly from the side as father and daughter interacted. Both made no sound, but Itachi's eyes—she had never seen that particular emotion on him before. Her own emerald gaze softened, and her chest ached in a most painful manner.
It seemed like such a long time, but eventually, the little baby looked away from her father and started to coo softly to herself instead. Almost carefully, hesitantly, the tall, quiet Uchiha ran stunningly gentle, callused fingers through the newborn's rich, raven hair that she had clearly inherited from him. Sakura started to tremble slightly as she watched Itachi regard their daughter with such raw, unconcealed affection. Despite herself, a small sob escaped her throat.
Everything was worth it for this moment. The excruciating labor that she gone through, Sasuke's painful, condescending disappointment over the birth of a girl instead of a son, the past two months of having to look after her beloved, beloved baby girl all by herself.
The true father of her baby did not hold disdain for his child. On the contrary, he appeared shaken—and almost awed by his little daughter.
It was then that Itachi lifted his head to look at Sakura. Crimson met emerald and locked for a long time. Sakura swallowed hard, and then her eyes darkened. The image before her was something she was going to imprint and remember for as long as she lived. Her lover cradling their baby in his arms, looking at her with such intensity—it was all she could do to prevent her tears from leaking past her dampened eyes.
He walked slowly towards her, and then he returned their daughter back to her mother. Sakura accepted her precious burden carefully, and as she looked at the sleepy face of her little one, her gaze softened with such love and joy that Itachi could only stare at the beautiful female, momentarily entranced by her all over again. The pink-haired kunoichi failed to notice his preoccupation with her, only cooed and whispered endearments to her little daughter as she cradled the newborn lovingly within the safe circle of her arms.
This was his family, one that he had created single-handedly, and not even intentionally.
It had been a mistake.
But oddly enough, he realized abruptly now that he was unable to truly regret the creation of his daughter. How could he, when he had held her in his arms, when he had felt her dainty weight and fragile little body, when he had created such perfection?
He was tainted, had dirtied his hands with the blood of innocents, and even he was realistic enough to know that his was a soul that could never be redeemed, and salvation would forever be denied to one like him.
But yet here, here, was a little piece of perfection that he had so unwittingly created, filled with such innocence and purity and nothing like him, and this was his family.
But they were not for him to claim. They belonged to his brother; this was Sasuke's wife and Sasuke's daughter, and Itachi was clearly not allowed anywhere in the picture.
Crimson eyes, oddly soft as he regarded mother and daughter, turned painfully empty.
For the first time since the Uchiha Massacre, the powerful, raven-haired nukenin felt something stir within his chest. The sensation was painful, bone aching and uncomfortable, resounding from the depths of his very soul, so very tight and it made him breathless and weary.
It was regret.
If he hadn't been tasked with that fatal mission so many years ago, if he had refused to listen to Danzou's coaxing, alluring words, if he had…
So many ifs, and none of them even the least plausible. What was done was done, and the chain of events had been something that he had no choice but to execute. He had been only a tool for his country, sharp and dangerous as he may be, and he had learned to live with what he had to do, what he had done.
Regrets were useless and needless, and so, by strength of sheer will, he forced the foreign discomfort away. He focused his attention on Sakura and their daughter instead, and then he spoke.
"What…is her name?" he asked softly, his normally cold, lilting voice slightly hoarse.
Sakura rocked her daughter quietly as she looked at her lover. At the moment, his attention was fixed intently on the little bundle of living being currently dozing in her mother's protective embrace. Sakura's eyes darkened slightly.
"I…we haven't named her yet," she admitted quietly at last. "Sasuke, he…"
She fell silent.
It was apparent that the Uchiha Avenger was contemptuous of the little baby girl that his wife had birthed; it wasn't the son whom he had craved so much to continue the Uchiha bloodline. As such, he mostly ignored his new family, his bitter disappointment evident in the way he loathed to even lay eyes upon the newest born Uchiha.
Crimson eyes hardened at the unspoken implication.
But then he was abruptly returned to harsh reality.
There was nothing he could do.
Sakura looked cautiously at the biological father of her daughter. He was oddly stiff; pale, exhausted features stark and eyes blanked. She made a small sound of concern, and he looked at her immediately.
Her own emerald gaze was quietly watchful—and hopeful.
"Do you want to…name her?" she offered gently as she directed her head down towards the dozing baby.
His expression didn't change at her request, but the way his aura shifted bespoke clearly of his surprise. Sakura, too, was somewhat taken aback by his reaction. For Itachi, this was almost as blatant as she had ever seen him react, save for that time months ago when she had first informed him of her pregnancy.
Already severely skittish from the lack of proper concern and support from her rightful husband, she immediately assumed the worst, and was quick to speak again.
"It's alright if you don't want to-"
He responded to her distress in an instant.
The Uchiha simply looked at his lover. Childbirth had taken a toll on her; she was obviously strained from constantly looking after their offspring. Her hair was tousled and messy, her face pale and almost haggard, but to him she was now the most fascinating person in his life. This beautiful woman had birthed for him a daughter, and the many hardships that she had to go through just to have their child was something he was certain he would never be able to comprehend.
She shouldn't have to behave as if she had just committed a grave mistake, as if he didn't want his own offspring.
Because she couldn't be any more wrong.
And so calmly, Itachi responded to her insecurity in the only way that he knew.
He showed her.
Slowly, so as not to startle her, the Uchiha reached towards his nape and quietly eased loose the intricate necklace that had been on his neck for as long as he could remember. The beautiful piece of jewelry was something that Mikoto had gifted to him when he had first become a Genin, a precious heirloom that his mother had claimed was passed down to every firstborn of her family when they came of age. Now, it was the only thing left that still tied him to the once glorious memories of his now ghost clan.
The catch of the necklace finally loosened, the Uchiha lifted it off from his dark head and easily gathered the simply designed jewelry in his hand. Deep verdant met ruby for a brief moment, and then slowly, he brought the heirloom to the still figure of Sakura and their daughter. Careful, elegant fingers arranged the necklace so that the ringed pendants were displayed most prominently, and then he tucked it noiselessly into the folds of his swaddled up child. She was still too young to wear it without risking choking herself, and besides, Sasuke would have recognized the jewelry on sight. Sakura would have to keep it for their daughter until she was old enough, but for now…
Looking at the jewelry on his baby made everything even more blatant—and obvious. The quiet pride he felt was unmistakable—this was his daughter, here was his flesh and blood.
He knew what to name her now.
A small callused pad of a thumb ran across the downy, baby-smooth cheek of the dozing infant with heart aching gentleness. Sakura's breath hitched at the sheer tenderness of his action. She swallowed hard to prevent from crying out loud.
Crimson eyes softened completely, finally unguarded, but for only a second or so.
She failed, completely then, to prevent a tear from leaking down her cheek.
For all she knew, this may very well be the first and last time her daughter would see her father.
His tone was low, and she very nearly missed the fine tremor that shook his voice.
She looked at him, crystalline droplets of liquid grief trickling down her face.
They both knew that this was probably the only active decision that he would be allowed to make when it came to their daughter.
And he knew how he wanted his child to be named
"Uchiha Natsume. Her name will be Uchiha Natsume."
Sakura's eyes softened, and then she nodded. It was a beautiful name.
Then Itachi looked at his lover with an abrupt, hard gaze.
"You will let her know her true legacy when she becomes older." His voice was unyielding. Uncompromising.
She nodded jerkily once more.
"She will know."
He looked grimly satisfied by her agreement, and then for a brief second, his gaze upon mother and daughter was one of raw, unconcealed emotion. Sakura would never believe that she would see something like this flash across his normally cold, detached expression.
"Protect her well," his whisper was almost undetectable.
He gave one last lingering stare at the innocently slumbering babe ensconced safely in the arms of her mother, and then he was gone as silently as he had first appeared, leaving mother and child standing alone in the empty compounds of the Uchiha clan.
Grow up well, my Natsume.
Questions That I Would Like To Answer Before You Ask:
News of my disappearance had been greatly exaggerated, I assure you. I'm alive and kicking, though somewhat buried by about a ton of projects. School projects, mind you. Final year projects are bloodsuckers. So are some of my lecturers, come to think of it.
As for fanfic-related projects, my GaaSaku readers would be happy to know that I'm currently in the process of revising Shukaku Love. You probably know what that means, huh?
For those who have actually read my A/N above, please ignore this. For those who haven't, and have no idea what this one-shot was based after, please scroll up to read the short A/N. Thank you!
Like one of my betas had suggested correctly, this fic does not have any particular relation to the title 'applesauce', other than for the fact that it is a type of baby food and well, Natsume is a little baby, after all. At the same time, there is no significant meaning to the name 'Natsume' as well. It's Anariel's OC, and she named her thusly, after a tree.
Your reviews fuel my passion for writing. So please leave a comment if you like this fic, thank you.