A/N: Yes, I continued this since almost everyone who reviewed asked for a sequel. It took FOREVER to get this together but with a little assistance from EdwardBellaandSasuSaku4eva and a bit of persusaion from Princesse Hatake I got it together. It's a bit fast paced I know but I only wanted this to be one chapter. Enjoy.
A Gamble Worth Taking
"Welcome home, Sasuke." She gave the prodigal son a small smile then turned to face her beaming ex-teammate.
Her heart was pounding rapidly as she tried to keep her voice level. She had no desire to betray herself by wearing her heart on her sleeve as she had done so often, so long ago.
"Forgive me Hokage-sama but--"
"I love it when you call me that." Sakura rolled her eyes at Naruto's antics gaining a bit more of her composure.
"Whatever Naruto." Sakura said reverting back to a casual tone. "It's been a long day. Did you need anything else?"
"Naw! I just wanted to show you the bastard." Naruto replied as if Sasuke was a shiny, new toy.
"Yeah, going home sounds good about right now. I think I'll do the same after I have some ANBU lock the bastard up."
After his statement Naruto immediately began to laugh, loving the thought of putting Uchiha Sasuke behind bars.
"Okay, then later." Sakura replied leaving without so much as a second glance at Sasuke.
A part of her hated herself for not taking another look. It had been so long since she had last seen him. Her eyes wanted to drink him in since they were dying of thirst for his presence.
Sakura shook her head at her wayward thoughts. No. She was done with love. She wanted no part of it. Especially not with Uchiha Sasuke. She would not allow him to break her heart again. She would not let him destroy her faith in the purity of love. She knew it existed. She had seen it in many instances with her friends. However, she would not love. That was just simply unacceptable in her circumstances, but that didn't stop her from believing in it.
Previously with Sakura's friends…
"Did you see the look on her face?"
Tenten and Hinata nodded at Ino's question.
"I feel so bad for her. It's like her heart shattered just by looking at him." Tenten stated.
"She's still in love with him." Ino declared shaking her head sadly. "It's why she hasn't moved on." Ino sighed. "And I had such high hopes for her and Shikamaru."
"Do you think Naruto will have him executed?" Tenten asked curiously.
Hinata shook her head quickly. "Naruto has been trying to get him home for years. He wouldn't dare. He'd fight anyone who stood in his way of Sasuke's reinstatement to the village."
"So what will that mean for Sakura?" Ino asked. "She obviously is going to fight any romantic feelings as if her life depended on it. She's going to have an easy go of it too, because the Uchiha has always been a cold bastard. I really wish she were in love with Shikamaru. I could work with that. The Uchiha is impossible."
"Maybe we should just help her to let go. You know set her up on a few dates." Hinata tentatively suggested.
"Psh! Now that he's here Sakura won't see any other man but the Uchiha even if she denies it with her dying breath." Ino hotly stated.
"So why don't we just get the two of them together?" Tenten asked after she had assessed the whole situation.
"Impractical. Didn't I mention that this is Uchiha Sasuke here? The man has an eternal stick wedged up his ass. He's a traitor to this village. A criminal."
"You can't judge him, Ino. He did come home, after all." Tenten lightly scolded.
"I'm not judging him Ten. I'm just stating the facts. Any attempt at match making would be a complete and utter failure and in the process we'd end up hurting Sakura. That's the last thing any of us want to do especially after all she's done for us."
"So what? We just sit here and do nothing?" Tenten yelled irritated.
"We can be her friend." Hinata stated quietly. "I have a feeling she's going to need one or two or three." Hinata said, looking around at them.
And suddenly the impromptu intervention had turned into a sad, quiet affair.
Sakura was almost home when she caught sight of Temari walking a short distance ahead of her. Her dismal thoughts were disrupted at the sight of the blond, sand kunoichi. A small smile played on her lips.
"Temari!" She called out jogging to catch up with her. Temari turned and looked over her shoulder. Seeing that Sakura was making an effort to catch up with her, she paused and allowed her to do so.
"Sakura, it's good to see you again."
"Likewise Temari. How are Gaara and Kankuro?"
"They're doing fine. Gaara asks about you often. Are you sure you don't want to be the wife of the Kazekage?" Temari asked wiggling her eyebrows suggestively.
Sakura blushed. "Aw Temari, you know I love Gaara, just not like that."
"But we'd be sisters. Do you know how hard it is being the only girl with those two knuckleheads?"
Sakura laughed. "Temari you're the sister of my heart. Isn't that good enough?"
Temari sighed exaggeratedly. "What about Kankuro? He'll do. Naw. I wouldn't wish him on anybody. I suppose I'll have to let it go, then."
Sakura slung her arm over Temari's shoulder. "How about we go get some drinks?"
"Sure, why not?"
Naruto and Sasuke stared at the door that Sakura had just exited. "I thought she'd at least want to know why you came back." He had always felt that she still harbored feelings for the Uchiha. However, she had merely brushed off his presence as if it were yesterday's news.
"So, I was serious about them having to lock you up for tonight Sasuke. I'll have to straighten things out with the council. I don't know how long it will take but--" Naruto sighed inwardly as Sasuke tensed at these words. "These are political matters Sasuke. It will take some time to sort out but I will sort them out. In the mean time--"
Three ANBU guards appeared in the Hokage's office. "Take him somewhere and keep him out of trouble." Naruto looked at Sasuke. "Don't give them any trouble bastard. Don't make this hard for me."
"Hn." The Uchiha replied as usual. He shrugged off the hands of the guards that tried to man handle him and walked out of the Hokage's office as prideful as ever.
"What is wrong with you, Sakura?"
Temari asked after they had gone through several (and she meant several) drinks.
"Gaara is pining after you. Why the heck won't you give him a chance to make you happy?"
"Why are you waiting for Shikamaru to make the first move? You know he cares about you. I know you care about him. You also know he's a lazy ass. Why don't you just go after your man?"
"You're one to talk. I hear the Uchiha is back."
Even the vast amount of alcohol that Sakura had consumed didn't stop her from becoming on guard when the U word was used.
"This isn't about me. It's about you and Shikamaru." Sakura said decisively.
"The hell it isn't. You turned my brother down cause you're still pining over that bastard when you could have a real man."
"Don't go there Temari. You don't know what the fuck you're talking about."
"I don't? You could have fooled me you Uchiha-lovin' hussy."
And that's when the fight got started.
A pair of kunoichi stumbled down the streets of Konoha. Their arms were thrown around each other. They stumbled drunkenly to the apartment of the one with the pink hair.
Their clothes were torn. Their hair was askew and yet they still managed to look hot.
"Hey ladies… you looking for someone to join you?"
The duo turned and gave the observer a glare that made him hastily take a few steps back. He raised his hands in surrender.
"Just a suggestion. You don't have to take it."
At the continued hate filled stare he made a speedy exit. They watched him go quietly. Temari was the first to break the silence with a chuckle. Sakura joined her shortly thereafter. They soon collapsed on the ground into a pile of giggles.
"I'm sorry, Sakura. I shouldn't have brought it up."
Temari and Sakura weren't the sort to let a knock down drag out fight stop them from being friends. If anything it would bring them closer.
"No, it's okay. You needed this. No, we needed this."
"To beat the hell out of each other?"
"Yeah." Sakura replied. Temari just smiled, threw her head back, and looked at the stars. Temari was to stars what Shikamaru was to clouds. Why weren't they together yet?
"Can I ask you a question?" Temari asked not quite realizing she had already asked a question.
"Is he the reason you turned Gaara down?"
"Just answer, Sakura."
"Yes." Sakura said decisively.
"Now that he's back I guess you're going to pursue him."
Sakura gave Temari a small smile. "…no."
"Why the hell not?" It just didn't make sense to Temari. If she wanted the man then she should follow her own advice. Go get him.
"Because, I'm tired of it all. It's too much work…loving him, with no benefits. I'm not doing it again. Not with him, not with anyone."
"Sakura that's just foolish."And Temari thought silently she was getting a little too much like Shikamaru. Although, that could be why she cared so much for Sakura. She reminded her of a certain lazy, sexy ninja. Honestly, the man was a bad influence.
"Oh? It seems to me that I'm not the only one being foolish. You love Shikamaru and he loves you back. You're going to let a great thing slip between your fingers because of your pride. Go get your man girl, and don't let him go."
Temari turned her head to Sakura. Sakura met her gaze head on. "Thanks, Sakura."
"You're very welcome. I expect to be a part of the wedding party."
It didn't matter how much she had to drink she still couldn't just pass out like normal people. She checked on Temari in her guest bedroom to find that she was peacefully slumbering away while she dwelled on things that were best laid to rest.
Now, while loving Sasuke was number one on her dumbest things to ever do list. Getting involved with Gaara of the Sand was the second dumbest.
She had been sent to Suna on a mission to help the medics clear out an epidemic and in the process she and Gaara had gravitated to each other like the sun and moon. Gaara was a phenomenal lover. Which was good because that's all she ever intended him to be. His intentions and hers, however, were a bit different.
He hadn't wanted her to leave.
He said those three little words that made her panic and run for the hills. He had said it in a cold and arrogant way that reminded her of someone best forgotten.
She spit on love.
She spit on love and all things warm and fuzzy.
They had a good thing--her and Gaara. It was a shame she had freaked out and ended it. Could she have loved Gaara if she had stayed and gave it a chance? She didn't know. She had no intention of finding out because he wasn't--
Sakura rolled over in her bed. She hated Sasuke so much. Why did he have to leave? Why did he have to damage her heart beyond all repair? Why did he have to come back?
Sighing, Sakura rolled over once more. It was going to be a long night.
A hand roughly shook her awake.
Sakura groaned. It felt like she had just gone to sleep and now she was being rudely awakened.
"You set me up didn't you, Sakura? What is he doing here?" Temari demanded seeming oblivious to the fact that Sakura wasn't fully conscious.
"Tell 'im go way." Sakura said burying her head under her pillow.
"Sakura." Sakura moaned when another voice joined Temari's. "The Hokage wants to see you."
"Tell 'im to go to 'ell."
"Sakura it's about Sasuke."
Temari watched as she stiffened. She knew then that there was no hope whatsoever for Gaara and Sakura. Her mind and heart belonged to the Uchiha…not that he deserved it.
"Get out so I can get dressed." Shikamaru left the room without another word.
Sakura turned her head and saw that Temari had not moved.
"Go talk to him."
"Last night I told you things that I would never tell anyone else. I'm never going to have a husband or children. The family that I always wanted. Last night you said you wanted to be my sister, well as my sister--as my family, I'm asking you to do one thing for me."
"What?" By asking that question Temari knew that she had just given Sakura enough rope to hang her with.
The two exchanged a look. Temari was the first to turn away.
"Okay." She replied and left the room quietly.
"I'm here Hokage-sama."
Naruto grinned at her. She always tried to maintain some sort of formality between the two of them, but he made it an impossibility with just a smile.
"Sakura-chan!" The delight in his voice as he said her name never ceased to make her smile.
"Naruto." She said slightly exasperated.
His smile faded and he took on a serious tone.
"There's something I need to tell you, Sakura, about Sasuke's return." Sakura took a deep breath mentally preparing herself. "While Sasuke was gone he uncovered some disturbing things about Konoha." Naruto took a deep breath and then delivered the news. "The council is responsible for the death of the Uchiha clan."
"That's all I can tell you about that for now. Anything else will have to come from Sasuke himself. I'm using this in order to get them to agree with me on issuing him a pardon."
"Do you have proof?"
"Sasuke has provided the proof."
"Sakura-chan…that's not all." He said scratching the back of his head nervously. Sakura could tell he had something to say and obviously didn't want to say it, but he had to so Sakura decided to prod him a little to speed things along.
"What is it, Naruto?"
"It seems that Sasuke got a head start on reviving the Uchiha Clan."
Sakura blinked slowly not comprehending.
"He had a daughter with one of his old--" Naruto broke off momentarily. He shook his head then continued on. "Teammates. The mother died so the child is currently being cared for by someone he trusts. I want you to go retrieve the child. I also need you to care for it until Sasuke can."
Sakura stood up and walked behind Naruto's desk. She presented him with her back so that he would not see the tears that streamed her cheeks. A child. Of course there was a child. It wasn't like he was waiting for her or anything. Sakura reached up and brushed her tears away. Why was she crying? She was well aware of Sasuke's lack of feelings where she was concerned. He had moved on from them a long time ago. She knew that.
But if she knew it, why did it hurt so bad?
"Where is she?"
"Not far. You should be there and back by nightfall."
Naruto briefly told her the location of the child and Sakura strode towards the exit.
"Sakura." Naruto called out. "I wouldn't have you do this but you are the only one that we both trust to care for the child properly."
Sakura nodded curtly and continued on her way.
"He told me you'd be coming for her. I didn't unpack all her belongings so it shouldn't take me too long to get her ready. Your hair is just as pink as he said it was. Is it natural?" The elderly woman said placing the small bundle in her arms.
Sakura briefly raised one hand up to her head then tucked it back around the child. She briefly wondered how Sasuke knew that she was the one who would bring his child to Konoha.
"Yes, it's natural."
"Such an unusual thing, your hair color."
"Yes, I know. How old is she?" Sakura asked, taking in the brilliant red hair of the sleeping child.
"Four months. She's gorgeous, isn't she?"
The infant took that moment to open her eyes. Sakura smiled sadly when she saw her eyes. They were her father's eyes only softer.
"Yes. Yes, she's beautiful."
"Her name is Suki."
"Suki." Sakura repeated. Suki. The child that should have been hers but would never be. Still, Sakura didn't feel an ounce of resentment. How could she when she held such innocence in her arms?
"I'll just get her stuff and I'll let you be on your way. He told me you wouldn't be staying long." Sakura nodded absently and stared at Suki dazed. She hadn't held a little one in quite some time. She had deliberately avoided the maternity ward at the hospital. There were some things that she just couldn't handle. Of course, Ino and Hinata's future children were different.
Suki's guardian soon came back and gave a bag to Sakura. "That's everything. I just fed her so she'll be okay for the beginning of your journey. He told me that when he travels she generally tends to fall asleep so you should have a relatively quiet journey. She's a good girl." She reached out and grabbed Suki's hand. "Goodbye Suki. Hopefully one day we'll cross paths again."
She then looked at Sakura as if she were expecting something. It made her shift awkwardly. Sakura opened her mouth and said the only thing she could think of. "Thank you for caring for her."
"Oh, it was no problem. I love children."
Me, too. Sakura thought. Me, too.
Her journey was just as Suki's guardian had predicted. It was rather uneventful. She had to stop and change her a few times as well as feed her but other than that Suki was pretty much a quiet child.
Sakura wondered briefly if she would be as quiet as her father.
She considered taking Suki to Naruto so he could gaze at their old teammate's child but decided against it. She was tired and all she wanted to do was close her eyes and sleep.
Unfortunately, Suki had other ideas.
Since she had spent majority of their journey asleep it seemed that Suki was ready for some attention.
Hidden meaning: No sleep for Sakura.
The quiet baby she had met earlier was obviously a cruel façade because she had become irritable and fussy. There was really no calming her down and Sakura was ready to pull her hair out.
Sakura rocked Suki slightly but this only caused her face to turn redder than it already was.
Her coloring almost matched her hair perfectly Sakura noted dully.
"Okay, Suki." Sakura said holding the infant in front of her face. Her face was scrunched up and her fingers were fisted tightly.
"I've changed you, fed you, burped you, rocked you, sang to you and still you will not calm down. What do you want?"
Sakura truly didn't expect a reply, but at the question Suki stopped yelling. Sakura almost smiled at the sweet silence that filled the room but her joy was short lived because it seemed that Suki was only catching her breath in order to scream louder.
"That's it!" Sakura said as she grabbed a blanket and bundled Suki up. "I'm taking you to your father."
Sasuke eyes snapped open when he heard the wailing rapidly approaching his direction. He'd recognize that cry anywhere.
He sat up in his cell just as the door was sliding open and Sakura was entering with Suki. How she got past the ANBU he didn't bother to ask.
"She won't stop crying." Sakura said without preamble not looking into his eyes. She walked over and placed Suki in his arms then took several steps backward. She didn't want to be too close to him. Sakura had to keep her distance. She knew it would be best to not even look at him but she couldn't help but watch him hold his child in his arms. He looked almost tender. It was a look that she had never seen on Sasuke's face and she found herself fascinated with it.
Suki had not ceased her cries and Sakura felt a moment of relief at knowing it wasn't just her. Suki was on a full blown war path and no one would get in her way.
At least that's what Sakura assumed.
Sasuke stared down at Suki. He seemed to be waiting for something. Suki's eyes opened a fraction and took in the sight of her father.
There was a hitch in Suki's breath. Her eyes opened fully and her cries immediately ceased. That wasn't, however, the reason that Sakura had to pick her jaw up off the floor.
No, it was the fact that Suki replied to her father's grunt with a similar one of her own.
"Hn." She said, then smiled.
Sakura guessed she wanted social interaction but Sakura just didn't speak Uchiha.
Sasuke passed the now happy child back to Sakura. Suki was gurgling contentedly. Dazed and bit confused Sakura took Suki and turned to leave.
She turned at the sound of his voice. Her heart was pounding wildly. She didn't know what she expected him to say. She didn't know why she had this knot of hope in her heart. It was foolish really especially after what he actually did say.
Sakura's lips curved upwards briefly and she nodded her head. Of course. Of course.
"She doesn't look like the bastard at all, lucky kid."
Sakura rolled her eyes at Naruto. "When are you releasing Sasuke?"
"It's a work in progress, Sakura."
"Naruto, you'd better not be holding him for the fun of it."
Naruto looked at her innocently. "Would I do something like that?"
"Yes." Sakura replied succinctly.
Naruto laughed. "Yeah, I would. Seriously, though I'm trying to make some major changes and until I do I'd rather not have Sasuke running through the village."
"He's not going anywhere. Why would he come back just to leave again? He knows you're not going to let him die. Just get him an apartment and tell him to stay put."
"I can't let him stay somewhere alone. Someone has to guard him. Wait a minute."
Naruto looked at Sakura with a mischievous glint in his eye. Sakura's eyes narrowed in response.
"It's the perfect solution, Sakura. Sasuke gets to stay with his child and he gets a guard and you don't have to baby-sit anymore."
"I'd rather baby-sit a child than a grown man. This is not a good idea. Please don't make me do this Naruto." Sakura shut her eyes tightly.
Naruto's eyes softened as he looked at her. He knew Sasuke's return was troubling her. He also knew that Suki's existence was bothering her more than she was letting on. However, he knew that it was best to face your fears instead of burying them. He was doing this not only for Sasuke but for Sakura.
"He won't get in your way, Sakura. Knowing Sasuke, you'll probably hardly even see him. We'll try it out for a while and if you can't bear it tell me and we'll do something else."
A tear slipped down Sakura's cheek. "Naruto--"
"Sakura, don't make me order you."
She bit her lip and took Suki out of his arms and didn't say another word.
"I'll go get him." Naruto said and left the room.
"Hey, bastard get up. I'm getting you out of here."
"Everything is settled then?" Sasuke asked. Immediately his shoulders tensed at the expectation of news.
"No, but I'm not going to make you stay here any longer. You're going to move in with Sakura. She's going to take over guard duty."
"She agreed to this?" Sasuke asked suspiciously recalling that Sakura had obviously not wanted to look at his face when she had entered his cell the previous night.
Naruto shrugged but didn't reply. That alone should have told Sasuke something but he was a bit too preoccupied with thoughts of his daughter to realize it. "Come on. Let's go. She's waiting on you."
Later that evening at Naruto's home….
"You did what?"
For the first time since their marriage Naruto saw an evil aura radiating from his pure, sweet, and innocent wife. The malevolence coming off of her would put Orochimaru to shame. She took a step closer to him and Naruto hastily stepped back.
"Now, Hinata it was for the best and--"Naruto feebly attempted to explain.
"Sticking Sakura with guard duty of a man she's been in love with for years who has no feelings for her whatsoever and his child by another woman is for the best?"
"Um, yes?" When she put it that way it sounded dumb even to him.
Naruto swallowed audibly. "Yes, dear?"
"Hold still so I can kill you."
"The guest room is over there. If you give me a minute I'll change the sheets. I had a guest a few nights ago."
Sasuke didn't reply but instead went straight into the kitchen with Suki in his arm. Sakura was appalled by the way he held her. His hand was wrapped around her neck and the base of her skull. Her body was supported by his forearm. He just walked around like that was the best way to hold a child.
Sakura decided to leave the room before she had a heart attack.
Stripping the sheets Sakura wondered how long she would be in this situation. She didn't know how long she would be able to take it. He was pretty much ignoring her just like he had done for the majority of her life.
Sakura's hand fisted on the sheets. She hated being invisible.
"Sakura." His smooth voice washed over her overloading her senses. She didn't dare turn around and face him. She continued on with her task as if he weren't there holding her heart in his hands.
"Where is Suki's milk?"
Sakura walked around to the other side of the bed. "In the cabinet on the far left. Second shelf."
Sasuke grunted in reply and soon Sakura found herself alone once more. Alone. She should be used to that. Sakura, soon realized that she was wallowing in self-pity. It was a stage in her life that she had assumed that she had outgrown but apparently not. And she hated it. She hated that she wanted something that was beyond her reach.
"Hn." Sakura whirled around and saw Sasuke, once again, standing in the doorway. "Are you going to be here much longer?"
Sakura realized that she had completed her task and had just been standing in the room lost in the maze of her confusing thoughts. How much time exactly had passed? "No, I'm done."
She started to walk around him and out the room but she noticed that he was holding Suki again. This time she was tossed over his shoulder. His hand were holding her feet while she dangled over his shoulder.
Like a sack of potatoes.
"Sasuke, maybe you shouldn't hold Suki like that."
"Hn." This time the grunt came from Suki. Sakura walked around and looked at the infant who had her head raised and was trying to take in her surroundings.
Sasuke glanced over his shoulder at Suki and smirked. "I believe that says it all."
Sakura's temple began to throb in irritation. She opened her mouth to reply but found the whole situation to be beyond weird so she walked out and left the duo alone muttering under her breath about crazy shinobi and their children.
Ino stared at Tenten bewildered by the news that she had just delivered.
"Wait a minute Tenten. Repeat that for me again." She couldn't have heard what she said right. Naruto couldn't be that stupid.
"I said that Temari told me that Hinata told her that Naruto is making Sakura raise Sasuke's love child because he's going to be executed."
Ino stared at Tenten silently. Her ears hadn't deceived her. She had heard her correctly.
"What?!" Ino yelled.
Inwardly, Tenten smiled. It was so much fun teasing Ino.
The knock on the door roused Sakura from her morbid thoughts. Evening had fallen and all was quiet in her home. She assumed that Suki was sleeping and Sasuke was having some quiet time for himself. She sat up and got off the bed heading for the door.
She wasn't at all surprised to see who was on the other side. She was surprised that it had taken him so long to show up.
His lips were quirked up in a wry smile that Sakura had come to identify as his happy face.
"What's up Shika?"
"Nothing much." Shikamaru replied shifting uneasily in her doorframe.
"What can I do for you?"
Shikamaru scanned the apartment apparently looking for something.
"There's a rumor going around the village."
"Oh? So quickly?" Sakura said obviously knowing what he was looking for. "They're in the guest bedroom."
"So, it's true. You are living with Sasuke."
Sakura rolled her eyes.
"I'm not 'living' with Sasuke. It's just guard duty until Naruto gets whatever the heck is going on straightened out."
"Is he a flight risk?"
"Then why doesn't--"
"You'll have to take that up with your Hokage. It's his idea."
"Do you want me to ask him to take over for you?"
Sakura shook her head. "No. I can handle this. I'll be fine."
"Really Shika, I'm okay. So did you speak with Temari?"
It amused Sakura to see a small blush stain the seasoned shinobi's cheeks.
"I'll take that as a yes. So what happened?"
"And on that note I'll say goodnight."
Shikamaru turned to leave ignoring the way that Sakura pouted at him.
"Aw, Shika everyone kisses and tells. They just pretend like they don't."
Shikamaru chuckled at her closing the door softly behind him. Sakura smiled at the closed door for a while glad things were progressing between her two friends.
"When did you and Nara get close?" The voice startled Sakura out of her thoughts causing her to turn and look at the owner. He was currently childless which led Sakura to believe that Suki was sleeping.
"I'm not sure. It just happened one day." Although, Sakura was sure it was because Shikamaru and her just clicked. He understood her and didn't expect her to be more than what she was. He accepted.
"You know, she's only four months and she's picked up that awful habit of yours. It's not only unhealthy it's just plain weird. You should stop it."
Sakura thought for a moment he was going to reply but his lips quirked up in a cocky smirk. "Hn." He replied.
It was then that Sakura noticed it. He was different. Sure, he still wasn't much for speaking but he didn't seem as weighed down and tormented as he was before. He seemed free. Not carefree, just free. Free of his past. Or almost. There was still something lurking in his eyes. Something that unsettled her.
"Did you need something?"
Sakura asked knowing there had to be a reason why he had left his room.
"No." He said but Sakura knew he was lying as he turned and went back to his room.
"Sasuke! Wake up!"
Sasuke's eyes slowly opened to find Sakura in her sheer white nightgown. It wasn't sheer because it was some overly expensive lingerie. It was because it was so old and ratty that you could see through it. She was holding Suki close to her bosom trying to comfort the whimpering child. Immediately, Sasuke grabbed Suki and tucked her in his arm and turned away from Sakura. Suki sighed contentedly at the warmth of her father.
"You okay? You were yelling…." Sakura asked sitting down on the foot of his bed.
"I'm fine. You can go back to bed." Sasuke said not looking at her.
"You sure? I can keep Suki tonight if you want."
"No. She stays with me."
Sakura stood slowly. "Okay, well goodnight then."
He didn't reply which made Sakura move out of his room a little faster. Fool that she was she glanced over her shoulder to find him gazing at his young one, running a hand over her ruby locks.
"What is that?" Sasuke asked after he saw Shikamaru bring in a large box into Sakura's apartment.
"It's a crib."
Sasuke stared at Sakura blankly so she decided to explain.
"It's for Suki."
"Suki sleeps with me." His voice held a finality that Sakura decided to just ignore.
"Yes, she does which is not a good thing to start. When she gets older she's always going to want to sleep with you."
Sasuke continued to stare at Sakura. Sakura sighed exasperated at his lack of response.
"What's going to happen when you want to bomchikawawa?"
Not even a second had passed before Sasuke replied with a, "Give it here. I'll put it together."
Sakura smiled at him, albeit sadly.
"You look like shit." Temari said as she sprawled out on Sakura's bed like it was her own.
"Then we must be twins." Sakura said sweetly to Temari.
The sand kunoichi just smiled. "How you holding up kiddo?"
"You sure?" Temari asked inspecting her face closely.
"Why wouldn't I be?"
"Don't play games, Haruno."
"Look, Temari. There's never going to be anything between us. I accept that…he loves that little girl."
"What does that have to do with anything?"
"I can only imagine he loved her mother as much if not more. Who am I to try and take her place?"
"Tell that idiot Hokage of yours to get that bastard out of your home."
"Tell him or I will."
"No. It's either me or jail. If they put him in the jail they'll separate him from Suki and that's not acceptable."
"Shikamaru told me he offered to take your place."
"Yeah, like I would do that when you two are finally getting it right. The last thing he needs is Sasuke stuck underfoot."
"Do you know the other word they call people who are self-sacrificing?" Temari asked a smile playing on her lips.
Sakura sneered at Temari. "When are you going home?"
"No time soon. Gaara's coming for a visit."
Sakura froze. "When?"
"I just got the message yesterday evening so he should be here in the next few days."
"Don't worry. He's not coming for you. He has some actual business with the Hokage." Sakura just stared at Temari with one brow rose in inquiry. "No, seriously. Gaara can take a hint. He's used to not being loved."
Sakura flinched. "Low blow Temari."
"Just being honest you Uchiha lovin--"
"Temari, I will rip your tongue out." Temari wisely changed the subject.
"Speaking of Uchiha's where is he?"
"Suki's napping and Sasuke generally sneaks a few in while she does."
"What does the little crumb crusher look like anyway?"
"Gaara red hair, Uchiha black eyes. Small. I imagine when she develops her Sharingan that she'll be a site to behold."
"Mmm. So do you hate the little monster?"
"Her name is Suki, Temari."
"Whatever. So do you?"
"You're a better woman that I am Sakura."
"Too many people come to your home."
Sakura looked up from the book she was reading to Sasuke. "Well, you can place that blame on your shoulders." Sakura said after being couped up in the house with a mute Uchiha for 6 months. Well, six months excluding the days that Sakura delivered Naruto's daughter and later Ino's daughter. Two girls.
She was still a bit miffed about Naruto's child being the wrong sex.
Suki was walking now and getting into everything. The young Uchiha was trying to make her way onto the sofa with Sakura. Sakura absently pulled the child onto the sofa. Suki quickly made her way to Sakura's lap.
"No, you can blame it on your idiot Hokage."
"Don't talk about Naruto like that. If it wasn't for him you'd still be in a prison cell missing your daughter grow up."
"Yes, I'd be there instead of dealing with your barely concealed distaste."
"What are you talking about?"
"I'm aware that you don't want me here. Rest assured that as soon as we are able--we will leave. Suki!" The small child immediately slid out of Sakura's lap and began walking towards her father.
Frankly Sakura found herself disturbed by:
1) The fact that a six month old child was that obedient.
2) The fact that Sasuke thought she didn't want him around.
Okay, so it was partially true. His presence was wreaking havoc on her heart.
He didn't reply but she knew he was listening.
"I won't lie to you and say that I'm happy you're living here with me…cause I'm not. However, I don't find our living arrangements distasteful."
"You're contradicting yourself."
"Maybe, but I'm also telling you the truth."
Sakura closed her book then and quietly left the room.
Several days later…
"Have you spoken to Sakura?" TenTen asked, eying Hinata and her daughter waiting for the chance to take the child from the nursing mother.
"Yes." Hinata paused. "She seems happy."
"I know. That's what worries me."
"I've come to set you free!" Naruto said exuberantly at Sasuke's question as to why he was there.
Sasuke's eyes narrowed and Naruto knew he wanted an explanation but he wasn't going to give one unless Sasuke asked.
"So, where's Suki?" Naruto asked looking around for the small heart stealer.
"Sakura, grabbed her and took off the moment you walked in the door."
Naruto pouted quietly. Well, not so quietly. "I never get to play with her."
"Like I'd want your influence on my child. You'd change her into a blathering idiot."
"Whatever idiot. What do you mean you're here to set me free?"
"It's all been set in motion. The clan leaders have received copies of the documents that you pilfered from Danzo's office."
"Do you even know what pilfer means?"
"Shut up, you bastard!"
"I shouldn't tell you anything but because I'm such a wonderful friend…"
Sasuke crossed his arms over his chest and waited expectantly.
"A new council is being formed."
"And the old one?"
"Will be held accountable for their actions."
"Will they be executed?"
"That remains to be seen."
Sasuke's eyes narrowed in anger. "That's not what I want to hear."
"It's all I got for now except for the fact that you've been pardoned."
"Pardoned? What? No consequences for my defection?"
Naruto shook his head.
"In light of the council's actions in your mental scarring, Konoha is going to accept responsibility for the actions of the village. Any child born to you will be never have to worry about money as well as any child born to those children."
"Money will not make things right."
"He can leave." Sakura said, but she wasn't sure if she was asking a question or making a statement. Her brain was having trouble processing the information that Naruto had just told her. She shifted Suki to her other hip while the young Uchiha tried valiantly to grab Sakura's hair.
"Yeah, he told me he was going to move back into the Uchiha district since all his family's property has been restored to him."
"When?" Sakura said trying her best to keep her voice from cracking. Naruto stared at Sakura hard smelling something wrong.
"When he gets it cleaned up, I suppose." Naruto said shrugging.
"Sakura, you okay?"
"What? Oh! I'm fine. I'm going to head on back now."
Naruto said hesitatingly wondering if he should send Hinata over to spend some time with Sakura.
In the Uzumaki Household…
Naruto watched as his beloved wife, and mother of his child placed her head in her hands on the table.
"You gave him permission to leave. Oh Naruto."
"What did I do wrong? You didn't think it was a good idea for them to share a home so I worked hard to rectify the situation."
"Naruto, sweetie, it was a bad situation that you probably just made worse."
Naruto frowned when Hinata raised her distressed face to his.
"She loves him, Naruto. She loves him so much and you just gave him his walking papers before he could get the chance to love her back."
Naruto raised his hand and smacked his face.
"Sasuke, we're home."
He appeared seemingly out of nowhere grabbing Suki out of Sakura's arms.
"You spoke with the idiot?" Sasuke asked.
"Yeah. He told me that you guys could leave." Sakura said with false cheerfulness. "Aren't you glad?"
Sasuke didn't reply.
"Da da da da da" Suki babbled on oblivious to the tension in the air.
Sakura glanced at Suki and marveled at how much she had grown in such a short time. The girl was fair of face and intelligent. It was a dynamic combination--especially if she planned on being a kunoichi.
As if her body had a mind of it's own Sakura took a step forward to take Suki back from Sasuke and then she realized that in just a short amount of time she had lost sight of whole picture.
Suki was Sasuke's daughter--not hers.
Sasuke was not her husband or her boyfriend--so she had no right to feel like she was being abandoned.
And most of all, Sasuke did not harbor some secret love for her that he was waiting for the right moment to tell her about.
She was so stupid. Damn it she wasn't supposed to love him. She had sworn off love, hadn't she?
'Hadn't she?' Sakura asked herself panicked.
Right before Sakura could work herself up a knock sounded on the door. She answered it unthinkingly and found herself presented with a blast from the past.
"Good evening, Sakura. May I come in? What's wrong?" Gaara asked immediately sensing something off about Sakura.
"Nothing. Nothing." Sakura stepped to the side allowing him entrance.
Gaara stepped across her threshold and immediately stopped when greeted with a familiar face.
"Uchiha, I heard you had returned."
"Hn." At that less than warm response Gaara proceeded to ignore Sasuke.
"I've come to take you to dinner." Sakura's face showed her confusion. "Naruto has told me that you have been indoors for almost six months and are finally free. Join me for dinner for a celebration of sorts."
Sakura really didn't feel like celebrating. She glanced over at Sasuke who began walking towards his bedroom with Suki in his arms.
Walking away from her.
Just like always.
"Okay. Give me a few minutes to get dressed.
And it was after she left that she realized that she maybe, probably, definitely should not have left with Gaara.
While Sakura was dressing…
As soon as the door closed Sasuke reentered the room.
"Where are you taking her?"
Gaara rose a nonexistent brow at the prodigal Uchiha. "How is this your business?"
Sasuke ignored the question because he didn't answer to the Kazekage. It was just unfortunate that he didn't realize that the Kazekage didn't answer to him either.
"You will bring her home safe and untouched."
"As untouched as I ever have." Gaara said his face serious but his tone holding something that made Sasuke suspicious, but he didn't have time to question the Kazekage because Sakura stepped out in a little red number that put a smirk on Gaara's face and for some unknown reason made Sasuke's eyes narrow.
Sakura looked at Sasuke surprised that he had returned to the room.
"Sasuke, where's Suki?"
"I put her down for the night."
Sakura nodded. "Well, I'm off. I shouldn't be gone too long…."
Sakura trailed off noticing that Sasuke was no longer looking at her but at Gaara who only had eyes for her.
Gaara walked over to Sakura gently grasping her elbow and leading her out the apartment.
Gaara called over his shoulder, "Goodnight, Uchiha."
"Sakura, relax. I'm not going to kidnap you and force you to marry me."
Sakura looked up from the plate of food that sat before her. "Why not?"
Gaara blinked. "Is that what you want?"
Sakura had a moment to realize that she was, in effect, being a tease.
"No. I'm sorry. I shouldn't have said that."
Gaara nodded. "I spoke with Temari. She and Shikamaru seem to be getting along well."
A smile graced Sakura's lips. "Yes, I'm happy they finally got it together. They were beginning to worry me."
Gaara nodded. "She had become quite the nuisance at home so I sent her to you."
"…you deliberately sent her here so I would interfere in her business." Gaara shrugged not bothering to reply. "I can't believe you did that."
"You're good at that matchmaking thing. As soon as Temari's married I'm going to send Kankuro to you."
"You will do no such thing!" Sakura shivered. She loved Kankuro but the man drove her insane. It was because of him she now had a deep, and well rooted hate of puppets.
"Then maybe you could help me."
Sakura paused wondering if he were serious then suddenly threw caution to the wind and decided to give him an answer.
Gaara chuckled. "And who in my legion of fan girls would you recommend?"
"Oh, so you think I can't come up with someone."
"No, I don't."
"Well, I can. What you're looking for is right under your nose. Matsuri has been in love with you forever. While we were together she tried, she tried really hard to be happy for you but it didn't take keen insight to know how miserable she was that you had passed over her again." Sakura refrained from mentioning that Matsuri's devotion had been another of the reasons why she had been able to leave Gaara. She cared for Gaara but she would never love him the way Matsuri did.
"What are you talking about?"
"Gaara, come now."
"I have no idea what you're talking about."
"My point exactly." Sakura said smiling. "You men never notice what's under you nose until either it's gone or someone points it out to you."
"I noticed you."
"No, you didn't. If you truly had you would have recognized that we were never meant for anything but a short time."
"What about you?"
"What about me?"
"When are you going to reach out and make a grab at happiness?"
"I am happy."
"And how long will that last? Until the Uchiha takes his child and leaves your home? Or will that happiness be gone before then?"
"Sasuke has nothing to do with my happiness."
"Oh? You're a fool Sakura." Sakura's eyes began to flash with anger. "At least I had the guts to at least go after my happiness--you are willing to let it slip through your fingers."
"Don't presume to know--"
"Sakura. Be honest with yourself. Do you really want to let him walk out of your life again?"
"Gaara, I will not chase after him. Those days are done. If he wants me then he's going to have to very well come and get me. I will not put my heart out for him to trample again."
And with those two words a world of understanding passed between Gaara and Sakura. Sakura's lips quirked upward and she nodded her head accepting Gaara's decision.
If she decided that she really wanted Gaara for anything other than a fling she would have to come and get him. She had a feeling that if she made that decision he would put up one hell of a chase…just to be contrary.
They had wine during and after dinner. As Gaara's firm grip on her elbow steadied her as they walked home Sakura began to wonder if the Sand siblings were trying to turn her into a drunkard.
She never drank like that with anyone else.
It wasn't long before they reached her apartment. Sakura slipped her key in the door and began opening it.
"Are you going to be okay on your own…or do you need me to put you to bed?"
Sakura looked into Gaara's clear eyes that held not a hint of deception and more than a little heat. Although Sakura was intoxicated, she still held on to a thread of common sense.
"If I let you in to put me to bed…you won't be leaving until the morning…and I don't think either of us will end up happy then."
"It's a risk I'm willing to take." Gaara said a smirk forming on his perfect lips.
Temptation wrapped it's way around Sakura's loins. It had been so long since….
Sakura frowned at how Gaara was able to call her name without moving his lips.
His voice sounded funny.
The door that Sakura had only cracked swung open fully revealing her housemate.
"Sasuke? What are you…?" Sakura's question trailed off as Sasuke grabbed her arm and pulled her inside shutting the door in Gaara's face.
Sakura wouldn't realize exactly what Sasuke had done until morning. As it was she stumbled to her bedroom falling onto her bed and eventually drifting to sleep.
Morning arose okay, well, maybe it was afternoon when Sakura finally pealed herself out of bed.
Her head hurt slightly and she was a little thirsty so Sakura touched her temple and allowed her chakra to numb the pain and went to get her a glass of water.
After she drank her water Sakura noticed that her apartment was unusually quiet. She made her way over to Sasuke's bedroom and knocked on the door only to receive no answer. Opening the door, Sakura found the bedroom empty.
This would not have alarmed her if the room hadn't been returned to the state that it was before Sasuke and Suki had arrived.
Even the crib was gone.
That was how Sakura found herself alone…again.
And this time he had left without a 'thank you'.
"You moved out already?!" Naruto yelled in the Uchiha's ear.
"But, but why?!"
"I don't answer to you, idiot."
Naruto grinned. "Actually, you do. I am the Hokage."
"What moron gave you that job?"
Silently, Naruto reflected on how good it was that the bastard had returned home. Later, he would realize that Sasuke distracted him and had not answered his question.
Sasuke had cleaned and cleared two rooms in his old home. Suki walked back and forth between the two rooms that he allowed her access to. It seemed she was puzzled and later distressed. As she kept going back and forth her face wavered on the verge of tears.
Finally, she stopped in front of him. She looked up at him with those onyx orbs and said,
"I need to go somewhere, anywhere. Give me a mission, Naruto."
Naruto shifted in his chair guiltily.
"I don't have anything right this second."
"Naruto, I have been cooped up in my apartment for who knows how long because you insisted upon it. I need to get out of this village, now."
"I'm sorry Sakura, but--"
Sakura didn't bother to wait for him to finish his statement. Instead she whirled around and left his office.
Sakura stalked to the door because the idiot who decided to visit her wouldn't take a hint and just go away.
"What!" She barked at the visitor. Sakura then blinked surprised at Sasuke who held a wailing Suki in his arms.
"She won't stop crying." Sasuke then held out the child to Sakura to take which she did unthinkingly.
Suki continued to cry and Sakura looked at Sasuke helplessly. "What am I supposed to do?" Sakura asked bouncing Suki a little trying to get her attention. "Suki, what's wrong? Is she hungry?"
Sasuke shook his head as Suki continued to cry. Sasuke took the opportunity to step into her apartment and close the door behind him.
An idea began to form in Sakura's head. One that she didn't particularly like but she couldn't think of anything else to do.
"Hn!" Sakura said firmly. The ten month old Uchiha's breath caught and her eyes opened. Her eyes brighten and she immediately smiled. Sakura glanced up at Sasuke who had a small smirk on his face. "You set this whole thing up so I'd do that horrible grunt, didn't you?!"
"You both are incorrigible."
"Ma ma ma ma ma." Sakura blinked not sure she heard what she thought she had.
"Suki?" But the child just smiled and made a grab for Sakura's hair. Sakura glanced at Sasuke who conveniently found something else to look at.
And so it went on like this. Whenever Suki was out of the presence of Sasuke or Sakura for what she deemed was too long she would put up a fuss that eventually got Sakura thrown out of her apartment.
The child was spoiled rotten but that didn't mean Sakura didn't love her to pieces. The little monster was turning out to be a master at manipulation and Sasuke wasn't helping matters. He gave her whatever she wanted--even if that included her. Sakura thought crossly as she went looking for a place to stay. An apartment complex was out.
She didn't want what happened this time to happen again. What she needed to do was purchase her own home. Somewhere nice and quiet with neighbors that wouldn't hear Suki's outrage.
On her search for a new home she happened to run across Ino. "What are
you up to Forehead? I haven't seen you around in a while."
"I've been kicked out of my apartment complex and I need to find a new place to live. They've given me a month to evacuate the premises."
Ino chuckled. "You know, I must admit I never expected you to love that little girl this much."
Sakura rolled her eyes. "She's just as much of a pain as her father."
"And yet you love him too."
"Ino, don't start."
"You do. I don't know why you just don't move in with Sasuke and be done with it."
"I have my own life that--"
"Your life consists of ninjaing, Sasuke and Suki. Don't think I haven't noticed. You've made them your family and it seems Suki feels that way too…I've heard her call you 'Mama'."
"If you're not prepared to take that role then perhaps you should correct her."
"I can't take a job that hasn't been offered to me." Sakura snapped.
Ino paused. "And if it was offered…you'd take it right?"
"Ino, I really don't want to deal with this right now."
"But you're going to have to deal with it sometime. Hell, you're his wife and her mother every way but physically and I think he owes you some."
"I am not!"
Ino cast Sakura a skeptical look. "What do you have planned today?"
"I told you I'm looking for a place to stay."
"And after that?"
Sakura pursed her lips and said nothing.
"Hmm-mmm. That's what I thought. Tell Sasuke I said hello and give my love to your daughter."
"Where have you been?" Sasuke asked as Sakura entered his home looking exhausted.
"Looking for a new place to stay."
"I thought your lease wasn't up for another four months."
Sakura frowned wondering how he knew that. She couldn't recall ever telling him.
Sakura shrugged her shoulders and headed toward the kitchen. "What do you want for dinner?"
When Sasuke didn't reply Sakura turned back to look at him only to find him so close to her that her breath caught and she took a step back.
"Why are you moving?"
"The neighbors have been complaining…you know when Suki gets upset. So…."
"You're moving in with us."
Sakura blinked. "What? No. I'm not going to impose."
"You're here most of the time anyway. You might as well move in."
"No, thank you." Sakura replied and moved to begin preparing dinner.
"Sakura, this isn't something that's up for discussion."
Sakura's brow arched right off her face. "Excuse me?"
"I will not repeat myself. I expect your things to be here by the end of the week."
Sasuke turned and left the kitchen and Sakura followed hot on his heels.
"You need to get off your high horse Uchiha Sasuke. You have no right to tell me to do anything. I will move where I damn well please."
Sasuke glanced over his shoulder and smirked down at her.
The end of the week came and Sakura had yet to find a suitable place to stay. Sakura sighed looking out of her apartment window. The rain poured down and blackened her already dark mood. Why the heck couldn't she find a place to live? Every place was either full or they just flat out rejected her for some of the most aggravating reasons. She worried that she was going to end up imposing on Naruto and Hinata--which was the last thing she wanted.
A knock on the door broke Sakura out of her reverie.
"Coming!" She called out as she made her way to the door, swinging it open to reveal the last person she expected to see.
He was drenched by the rain but that only made him all the more scrumptious.
She had been avoiding him since he ordered her to move in with him because she was 'there all the time anyway'. And she missed him terribly.
She hadn't gone without seeing Suki. She would slip into the Uchiha estate whenever Sasuke was distracted by something else.
And yes she had time to wait around like that.
"Where's Suki?" Sakura immediately inquired.
"With Ino." Sasuke replied and then grabbed Sakura throwing her over his shoulder.
"What are you doing! Put me down, Sasuke!"
Sakura began to squirm but Sasuke swatted her behind…hard. Sakura yelped and groaned when the rain began to hit her body making her wetter than she was just by being thrown over Sasuke's shoulder.
He didn't say a word until they had reached his home. He sat Sakura on the ground and went to go get her a towel to dry off. Sakura stood shivering in the doorway with her arms folded across her chest.
When Sasuke returned he handed her the towel and she took it wordlessly.
Sakura found herself to be immediately uncomfortable. She had never been alone with Sasuke since his return. In fact, the last time they spent anytime together alone was when he had left….
"Suki needs you."
"I don't plan on disappearing from her life Sasuke."
"She needs you here. You're…the only mother she knows."
"Did you love her? Suki's mother?"
Sasuke looked into Sakura's eyes. "I will always be grateful to her for giving me Suki, but…she's no you."
Sakura felt an ache in her chest and she turned away before Sasuke saw the tears that sprang into her eyes.
"We'll get your belongings tomorrow." Sasuke said.
They slept in separate rooms, but few people knew that. Many wondered when they were just going to cut the bullshit and just get married. They showed up at all functions as a family. They were the new Uchiha clan in everyone's eyes.
Yet they were not lovers.
Sakura made her peace with that. She loved Sasuke. If living her life meant just staying at his side as his friend, his support then she would do it.
She would never bear children of her own but Suki was all the child she needed. She was happy.
That is she was until Suki reached her fourth year.
"Uncle Chouji and Aunt Ino sleep in the same room. Why don't you and mommy?"
The innocent question raised by Suki caused her father to freeze and her mother to choke. They were sitting at the table eating dinner when she asked it looking back and forth between her parents.
"Even Uncle Naruto and Aunt Hinata share a room. Why are you guys different?"
Suki continued on oblivious to the discomfort level that had arisen.
Sakura stood up and began clearing the table allowing Sasuke the opportunity to answer the question.
"Ask your mother."
Sakura's mouth dropped open and she threw a glass at Sasuke's head. It was Suki who stopped the glass from hitting her father.
"Well, Suki, um…your father and I are different from your Aunts and Uncles."
"Well, for one we're not married."
"But your name is Uchiha."
"Actually, honey, my surname is Haruno."
"But you're an Uchiha."
"Technically, I'm not."
"But people call you Uchiha."
"I never understood why people did that."
"You wear the Uchiha symbol."
"Well, your father insisted upon that."
"But why aren't you married to Daddy?"
"You'll have to ask your father about that."
Suki turned to Sasuke who was glaring at Sakura. Sakura stuck her tongue out and continued cleaning up.
Suki folded her arms across her chest and gave her father a glare that reluctantly made him proud.
"Daddy, you really should marry Mommy. Won't a wedding make you happy Mommy?" Sakura stared blankly at Suki. "See. She's speechless." Suki said nodding her head. "So when are we getting married?"
Suki stood. "I'm finished eating. May I go play?"
Sasuke gave her a quick nod and Suki ran out of the dining room. She came back seconds later.
"Hey, nobody told me when we're getting married."
"Suki." Sasuke said. "Leave."
Suki turned and ran out the room leaving Sasuke and Sakura in an awkward silence.
Sakura decided then that perhaps it was time to get over her fear of Sasuke leaving her, rejecting her. She wouldn't be so bold as to proclaim her love for him. She would make things simpler.
"I would like more children." A smirk appeared of the Uchiha's face. "I also don't think Suki's going to let the marriage thing go."
"You'll marry me before the end of the week."
"And you'll give me a child before we get married."
"Hn." Sakura said right back.
Sasuke stood up then and approached his future wife and did something he had been wanting to do for some time but couldn't come up with a good enough reason to do so.
Sasuke put his hands on Sakura's hips and pulled her close.
"Karin died while having Suki." It was the first time he had ever mentioned her name. "I can't--"
She knew immediately what he was saying. He didn't want to loose another woman to childbirth even if it meant sacrificing his dream of restoring his clan.
All this time she thought he stayed away from her because he didn't love her, he didn't want her when in truth he was afraid. Afraid of losing her.
Hadn't he ever heard of birth control?
"Sasuke. I am a different woman with different circumstances. You can't just--"
"Suki needs you and--"
"The person that needs me is you, Sasuke, just as I need you."Sakura held Sasuke tight. "We are going to get married and have more children and I'll be fine and if I'm not then know that bearing your children is enough for me to die happy."
"That's not good enough."
"How about this? If you even think about trying to keep me from having children then I will tie you down and rape you. Repeatedly. And I will enjoy it."
"I can assure you, I will do it."
"So how about we get to work on a brother for Suki?"
"Mommy! Daddy! When's the wedding?"
Sasuke smirked at the sheer frustration that flickered across Sakura's face. "Sure you don't want to wait?"
And so while Sakura was happy before she was downright blissful from that point on because she had realize that love was a gamble worth taking.
Even if it was a lot of work.