a/n: Hello everyone! This chapter is loads lighter compared to last chapter and thus may not have the same emotional effect. However, it should wrap up every other issue not covered last chapter. With that said, please do enjoy. :)
(five months later)
On a particularly sunny Friday morning, about two minutes before his alarm clock rang for seven AM, Uchiha Sasuke awoke to find an empty bed and his favourite blue shirt missing.
Now, contrary to popular belief, this was not a rare occurrence. After all, Sasuke was more of a morning person and his silver alarm clock served more as a decoration rather than anything else. That the bed was empty, the sheets unmade, and his favourite shirt was missing weren't exactly unheard of, either. When Sakura moved in with him to his large but immaculate apartment several months back, he discovered that she was even more of an early riser than he was.
Tossing his covers away, Sasuke shifted to his feet and made his way to the bathroom to freshen up.
Sakura was in the kitchen when he was finished, the smell of food confirming his suspicions before he even saw her. Since a collection of recipes from Honoka arrived about a week ago, the pink-haired woman had been spending almost an hour in the kitchen every morning, preparing this or cooking that. Unsurprisingly, her food never failed to turn out abysmally bland if not a little burnt, though he had to admit he secretly enjoyed seeing her work around in his—their, he corrected himself—kitchen.
At his quiet greeting, Sakura jumped, almost dropping the spatula into the frying pan in front of her. She turned around, her hand on her hip as green eyes narrowed at him. "Sasuke! You surprised me!"
"You're wearing my shirt."
Indeed she was. In fact, he was quite certain that his shirt was the only thing she was wearing, and underneath it… well.
"I noticed." She shrugged. "What? It's comfortable."
Sasuke poured a glass of water for himself. "What are you cooking?"
"Salmon fried rice."
Taking several generous sips, he set down the glass on the counter and raised his eyebrows. "Aren't you cooking a lot for breakfast?"
"I'm planning to give Grandfather some to try," Sakura answered, energetically using her spatula to wade through the rice, "Just to make sure it tastes the way Mum's does."
"Really?" Sasuke responded in mock earnestness, fighting the urge to tease her. Honoka was a great cook, but it was clear to him that Sakura had inherited her non-existent culinary skills from her father. The last time he was invited to eat at the Haruno's, Manabe had mistook sugar for salt in the worst way possible—their spicy Szechuan beef and eggplant had turned out to be unnaturally, almost sickeningly sweet. Of course, he made it through the meal and successfully won over her parents' hearts. Again.
The pink-haired woman turned to him long enough to send him another withering glare, though the corners of her lips were twitching suspiciously. "Insult me once more and there's no breakfast for you, Sasuke."
Reaching forward to circle his arms around her waist, he smirked and dropped a lazy kiss on the curve of her shoulder. "The canteen in my office has enough food to last me a week, I'm sure."
Sakura scoffed. "The canteen in your office has enough food to last you a whole month."
"That they do," he agreed mildly, releasing her to let her do her job.
She lifted the frying pan off the stove and began transferring the rice onto two plates and a large lunchbox, the last one obviously for her grandfather. As he poured himself another cup of water, she disposed of the frying pan in the sink and handed him his share of fried rice before they both sat down in the dining room.
"It's my last day at the Miyazawa's," she said, scooping a spoonful of rice, "So I just thought I should give my thanks to him, you know. I mean, I've started calling him Grandfather several months back and he was so happy, my mom was so happy… it's nice." she shrugged, "He's pretty nice, actually."
Sasuke only nodded, knowing full well the truth of Sakura's words. When they got together almost half a year ago, the response Akihito gave had been an almost instant compliance—which, to Sasuke's trained-for-business ears, sounded suspiciously like an approval or even an encouragement. Truth be told, it was rather strange seeing Akihito interact with Sakura the way a grandfather would with his granddaughter in the walls of the Miyazawa's head office, but that had answered all of Sasuke's questions. Akihito really did care for Sakura, and that was enough for him.
The conversation shifted to more casual topics as they finished their meals: how her job search was going (fine, she had an interview to go to Wednesday next week), the new Italian restaurant downtown she tried with Tenten on Tuesday (the meatballs were delicious but very, very calorie-laden), and that her parents were staying in the city tonight just in case there was something that needed to be done.
At the last one, Sasuke choked, barely hiding the surprise in his eyes. "They said that to you?" he demanded, "When?"
"Last night," Sakura answered, confusion creasing her brows. "It's weird, actually. Otou-san took a day off today, and he never does that unless something big is happening, you know how much of a hard worker he is! And I can't believe Okaa-san agrees, too!" she forked a piece of tender salmon, "What do you think, Sasuke?"
"Perhaps they just want a vacation," he answered as impassively as he could, grabbing the glass of apple juice on the coaster. "Or perhaps they just want to see you."
"Hmm..." She chewed thoughtfully. "I don't know. Maybe. You know, Okaa-san is thinking of coming back to work. To help Ojii-sama now that he's actually making serious retirement plans."
Sasuke couldn't help but raise his eyebrows at that. "Really?" he asked. Honoka, no matter how intelligent and put-together she seemed to be, didn't strike him as the office type. Furthermore, it had been years since she last touched anything remotely business-related; it would be quite something to see her there.
"Yeah, but Grandfather is against it, so I don't think she's going to do it."
Sakura looked doubtful. "You think so?"
He gave her a look. "I think it's safe to say that your grandfather spoils your mother, Sakura. I don't think he realises it, but he does."
Her lips curved into a smile as green eyes softened, though the worry in her eyes didn't cease. "That's true. I just hope that there won't be any problem this time. I mean, they don't usually come to the city on Fridays…"
Pushing the slight guilt he felt to the pit of his stomach, Sasuke wiped his mouth with a paper napkin. "It'll be fine."
Sakura grinned at him. "If you say so."
Reaching across the table to squeeze her hand, he brushed his thumb across her knuckles and smirked. "I do say so."
"Ah, Sakura, Sasuke-san—so glad to see you."
A few months ago, Sasuke would've thought that receiving a greeting from Akihito so early in the morning was impossible. Today, it had become such a wonted routine that he didn't think much of it anymore.
Of course, that didn't mean that they discarded all means of formality.
"I brought you lunch, Grandfather," Sakura piped up from beside him, setting down the lunchbox on the table, "Salmon fried rice. With eggs, just as you like it."
"I look forward to tasting it," Akihito said, the expression on his face somber although Sasuke knew he was pleased. The CEO of the Miyazawa's nodded thoughtfully at them from behind his desk for several quiet moments, before he finally retrieved a file from the shelves and handed it to his granddaughter, returning all businesslike all of a sudden. "That details the finances for our joint project with the Uchiha's, Sakura. Go over it and tell me what you think," he said, lifting his gaze to meet hers, "That will be your last assignment in this company."
A brilliant smile spread on Sakura's lips as she put the document inside her bag. "Will do!"
"Good." He nodded again, turning towards Sasuke this time. "Ah, Sasuke-san. It has been quite some time since we saw each other. How are you doing?"
"We're making fine progress," Sasuke answered with practiced calm, though all he wanted to do was raise his eyebrows. It was true that they didn't see each other a lot, but talking business in front of Sakura wasn't going to help his… case, though Naruto insisted that he didn't need to worry about anything. True enough, Sakura was already looking confused—he'd better up his game and make this quick. "Actually, we have several plans for growth and expansion outside of Japan."
Akihito chuckled. "Not bad, not bad."
Feeling more than compelled to return the interest, Sasuke asked, "And yourself?"
The CEO leaned forward on his chair and rested his elbows on the table, peering at the two. "I'm retiring soon," he said, "although you probably have heard that from Sakura. I can't imagine it's a surprise, either. I didn't mean your company, however—I meant you. How are you doing? What are your plans for the future?"
Willing herself to stay as inconspicuously quiet as possible, Sakura watched the banter in front of her as Sasuke detailed to Akihito about his plans—which, quite predictably, involved the Uchiha's. The conversation was easy, if not slightly odd. Akihito had always been interested in her relationship with Sasuke—enough to give her meaningful looks that she didn't really understand every time she left the office with the Uchiha, but not enough to straightforwardly ask her questions—but she never imagined he'd be interviewing him one morning, out of the blue. Furrowing her brows, she tried to think of the reasons why Akihito suddenly seemed so intent on getting to know Sasuke.
It was Sasuke's fingers reaching for her own that finally broke her train of thought, for he suddenly squeezed her hand. "Of course," he was saying, the smirk on his face suspiciously triumphant, "One day, I'd like to ask for your granddaughter's hand in marriage, too."
The declaration, delivered in a casual, almost teasing manner, made her eyes widen. The surprise on her face so palpable, she squeaked, fighting the colour threatening to spill on her cheeks.
"Ah." Akihito raised his eyebrows at her reaction. "You haven't discussed this with her, I assume?"
Sasuke shrugged and turned sideways to look at her, obsidian eyes gleaming in something playful, something teasing as he asked, sounding serious. "We can shop for rings tonight, if you want?"
Sakura's almost heroic effort to hide her blush instantly failed and she hit her shoulder. "Sasuke!"
"'What'?" she choked, eyes widening, "That's all you're going to say? 'What'? You just—I just—what?"
Amusement tugged at the corners of his lips, and he smirked. "Don't look so surprised."
Green eyes bulged even more, "Don't look so surprised—!"
An awkward, clearly faked cough from Akihito interrupted Sakura and her cheeks immediately flamed, bright red painting her light-coloured skin as she remembered where they were. Glaring at Sasuke, she raised both of her hands and covered her face meekly, her chest heaving with every deep breath she took.
"Sakura, there's a document I want you to bring to me. It's last year's tax report, there's something I want to check," Akihito said, the placid tone he had adapted telling Sakura that he was going to pretend what just happened between her and Sasuke didn't happen, "It's in the safe in your office. You know the key."
"Okay," she nodded, peering at him from behind her fingers, "I'll get it to you immediately."
"As soon as Sasuke leaves," the CEO pressed on. "First thing as soon as you get back to your office."
The pink-haired woman cleared her throat, removing her hands from her face, and in the most professional tone she could muster, said, "Of course."
He nodded at them and returned to his work. Knowing that this was a window of opportunity to escape unscathed, Sakura grabbed Sasuke's hand and dragged him out of Akihito's office. Together they made their way to her smaller one at the end of the hallway.
"You shouldn't have done that!" she swatted his shoulder when they entered an empty hallway. Rushing so she was at least three steps in front of him, she exclaimed, "You could've at least informed me if you—if you were going to—!"
"If I was going to propose?" Sasuke asked, the quiet laughter evident in both his eyes and the baritone of his voice.
Sakura threw up her hands, "Well, yes!"
"You couldn't have not expected it," he raised his eyebrows and fixed her with an earnest look. "Right?"
"Well…" she stopped walking so suddenly that he almost bumped into her. "I know, I suppose," she shrugged, chewing on her lip for a moment before she returned his gaze, amusement dancing in bright green eyes as her lips curled, "But still, I like to be surprised."
"And surprise you I will," Sasuke replied, reaching for her hand. His lips descended to her knuckles, just above her ring finger, the kiss so featherlight soft and innocent that she blushed once more.
"Are you serious?" she asked, staring at his blue-checkered tie, "Are we really going to get married?"
Sasuke straightened up though he did not let go of her hand. "It depends."
She raised her eyes to meet his, "On?"
"Whether or not you're going to say yes when I ask."
His answer made her roll her eyes. "Oh, seriously, Sasuke."
"Well…" He gave her fingers a gentle squeeze. "For once I'd like to do it the normal way."
He had a point, she realised as she let him pull her further down the hall. Their relationship hadn't started 'the normal way' as he so eloquently put it—in fact, almost everything about it was backwards if not upside down. Perhaps it was time for some degree of normalcy, no matter what it was about.
"Okay," she agreed, a smile spreading on her lips as they stopped in front of her office, "We can do it the normal way if you want to. I'll see you later?"
"I'll see you later," Sasuke confirmed. He let go of her hand and smirked. "Wear something nice tonight. Preferably the dress you wear to Tenten cousin's wedding."
The soft smile widened into an almost teasing, feline grin. "I can't, I forgot to take it to the tailor to fix after you tore it off me. The rip was rather bad I couldn't fix it myself," she said. "But I'll wear something equally nice, if not nicer."
When Sasuke returned her grin with a half-smirk and nodded in response, she entered the office and closed the door behind her. Putting down her handbag on her chair, she opened the blinds, sighing contentedly when sunlight began to pour into the room. Then she strutted to the safe at the corner of her office and began inputting the combination, and then opened the door, expecting to see thick folders, the very same ones she spent all day rearranging yesterday so her replacement would have an easier time adjusting, but finding that it was empty—except not quite.
Sitting right in the middle of the safe was a small, opened box, a ring staring back at her, tiny, glittering diamonds forming a line that followed around the circle. A note was slid under the box.
With shaky hands, she held her breath and reached out for it.
Meet me outside.
Standing outside the elevator doors, Sasuke paced around, berating himself for being so jittery about it. This was Sakura, for goodness' sake, he shouldn't have any reason to act like… like a high school freshman asking a girl on a date for the first time! He had faced countless business partners, many of which were more intimidating and sinister than her, but he could have sworn that he had never—never—been so nervous before.
But then again, this was probably the most important thing he had ever done in his life.
Sakura appeared in front of him, the box in her right hand, the note in her other hand. She stopped when they were about five feet away.
"Oh my god," was all she said.
Immediately, Sasuke stopped pacing around. "Well?" he asked. She was as red as a tomato, and by the heat he was feeling himself, he had a sneaking suspicion that he wasn't entirely cool, either. "Did I surprise you?"
"Oh my god," she repeated, taking a step forward. "Oh my god. Yes, you did. I thought you were going to—I never thought—is that why my parents are in the city? Was Grandfather in this?"
"Yes, and yes," he replied, smirking as his onyx eyes gleamed, amusement flitting in their irises, "Karin, too. I didn't know the key to that safe and she had to open it for me."
She raised her eyebrows.
Sasuke sighed, and then admitted, "And Suigetsu. He wouldn't let Karin be alone with me."
A few moments of silence passed by when Sakura's gaze fell upon the ring, the diamond glittering brightly under the lighting of the room. Her jaw slackened and she parted her lips, but no sound came out as she stared at it, completely speechless.
"Sakura…" His eyes softened as this time, he took the step forward. Taking both the box and the note out of her hands, he pocketed the former and lifted her chin so he could look at her, their gazes locked. "I don't have a speech prepared, and I'm not going down on one knee."
When she didn't immediately deck him, he continued.
"I will never be as romantic as Sai, and I might never understand you the way Tenten does," he said quietly, "I did a lot of bad things, and… I might still do a lot of bad things in the future."
A nervous chuckled escaped her lips, but she smiled.
"And you… you like to steal my favourite shirt. You fill the fridge with three buckets of ice cream that there's no more place for the meat. You can't function without coffee, and your food tastes so abysmally bland, sometimes I think there's something wrong with your taste buds," he took a deep breath when her eyes only glittered, willing him to continue. "But… but you keep me on my toes," he added with difficulty, clearly uncomfortable with what he was intent on saying, "You keep me sane. You make me happy."
Sasuke looked downright embarrassed and Sakura bit on her lip, trying to suppress her laughter.
"We'll quarrel in the future, and we'll probably disagree more than we agree, but…" he reached for her hand and lifted it up, "But I'm willing to try. And there is nothing more," she choked, and he smiled briefly before continuing, "There is nothing more I want in this world than to have you by my side. To see you walk down that aisle. To wake up with my favourite shirt missing because you're wearing it. So…"
His smile widened as he squeezed her hand.
"Marry me, Haruno Sakura."
Her breath hitched as she looked at him and suddenly, a teardrop rolled down her cheek as her pink lips curled into a brilliant smile.
"Are you sure you want to eat my 'abysmally bland' food for the rest of your life?" she asked tentatively, her voice shaky.
His face turned serious. "I would confess my hope that you'll get better in time," he said, "but just in case you don't, there's always takeout."
Her eyes glistened with unshed tears. "We have to start collecting menus."
"I can live with that."
Her smile was shy, her cheeks dusted a lovely shade of red. "We probably have to buy a bigger fridge, too, since I'm not surrendering my ice cream."
He nodded. "Frozen vegetables don't taste that good anyway."
"I…" she looked at him through long lashes, "I'm not changing my coffee habits."
"I'm not asking you to."
Sakura studied him for a long while, and then her face lit up so brilliantly that his eyes softened. "Well then," she took a deep breath and held out her hand to him, "Since you want it to be normal, I think this is the part where you... do your thing."
Sasuke smirked triumphantly and slid the ring onto her finger. Her gaze fell upon it and she smiled. "This will be the part where I gasp because it's so amazing," she told him, and then gave a mock gasp, admiring it before she turned to him, green eyes softening, "And this, Uchiha Sasuke, will be the part where you kiss me—so I know this is real."
He cradled her face in his hands and dropped a kiss on her jaw. "Oh, it's real," he whispered, lips brushing the corner of her mouth before he finally kissed her, voice low and husky that it made her shiver, "It's very, very real."
And for that single, breathtaking moment, the world was theirs alone.
I know I misbehaved and you made your mistakes
And we both still got room left to grow
And though love sometimes hurts, I shall put you first
And we'll make this thing work
a/n: We're done, baby—we're done.
This story… while you can say it was born out of boredom, it was born more out of reading too many AU fics and finding none that I really like. There are stories of personal assistant!Sakura, too-cheerful!Sakura , super-emo!Sasuke or playboy!Sasuke, with plots of arranged marriages (my personal favourite in the list of cliches :P), master-servant relationships, one-night-stands which lead to accidental pregnancies, new students, fake-dating-turned-real-love… All of them are unique in their own way, and I won't lie, I have enjoyed (and written, and secretly wanted to write) many of them myself. The SasuSaku fandom is diverse and I can only hope it'll continue to be so in the future.
As of now, I have to admit that I have no plans for a sequel. There is, however, a NejiTen sidefic (titled "like paper dolls and little notes") that covers the length of time before this epilogue and a little bit after, and there might be one for Ino coming up. If there are to be a SasuSaku sequel, it'll only be a short one. Long story short: no promises, so please don't expect anything.
Anyway, thank you for everything! Thank you so much. You people really do spoil me sometimes, and I just, unf, I love you all. (: