A/N: Am I totally predictable? Backstory to come later. Anechan-older sister when you're not talking to her

Disclaimer: I'm not Kishimoto…but I think I've mentioned that a time or two.

Chapter 3

Kiba was pale, only a shade or two darker than the pillowcase. His eyes were half closed, but when he realized who had entered the room he smiled lazily.

"I was wondering when you'd stop by," his voice came out as a soft growl. "Thought maybe you'd seen something that scared you off."

Sakura felt the tears begin to sting her eyes.

"There's nothing you've got that I haven't seen before," she smirked.

Kiba laughed hoarsely, and unable to restrain herself any longer, Sakura climbed into his bed, threw her arms around him and kissed the uninjured parts of his face.

"Oi, I'm okay. Didn't you say so yourself?"

Sakura smiled and wiped her eyes.

"That doesn't mean I wasn't scared," she sniffed.

Kiba smiled, "you wanna talk about being scared? If it wasn't for Akamaru that would've been the end of us." He closed his eyes and sighed, "onesan says he'll be alright, he just needs a few weeks rest."

Sakura laid her head on his good shoulder.

"Sounds like the same prescription for all of you."

"Hai, those kids are gonna kill me. I made them wait for two years…now there's no way they'll be ready for the Exam. Promise me the next time the exams come around you won't let me take them on any missions other than finding lost pets, okay?"

Sakura nodded but remained silent, knowing that if she had her way those would be the only missions he was assigned from now on. Snuggling closer, her thoughts drifted to Sarutobi Kurenai, Kiba's former sensei who'd lost her husband while pregnant. She remembered how Asuma's death had personally affected just about everyone in the village. He'd been Team 10's sensei, and Sakura had watched her best frenemy, Yamanaka Ino struggle with the grief and misplaced guilt of not being able to save him; she'd seen how hard Kiba and his teammates had tried to help Kurenai. A sudden realization came over her and she was disappointed that she'd never made the connection before. Sakura finally understood why Kiba kept shrugging off the idea of marriage even though she'd been hinting at it for the last three of their five years together. He'd watched his sensei struggle for the first couple of years after Asuma's death, and knowing what could've happened today…it finally all made sense! If the Konoha 11 had lost one of their own…it would be different than when Sasuke left. There would be no retrieval squad this time.

"You still awake?" He whispered.

"Hai, I'm gonna have to start rounds soon, is there anything I can get you before I leave?"

"Ten more minutes and a glass of water?" He asked without hesitation.

She smiled, he was already returning to his old self. She got up and found the pitcher of water, filled his glass halfway and handed it to him. He took a long drink then setting it down, looked at her with an unreadable expression.

"Listen, I uh, I know there's a topic that you think I've been avoiding, and I guess I have." He looked at his hands before continuing. "My clan is matriarchal, because it's the mother who takes care of the pups, and I had to get my mom's blessing. Maybe I should've explained this to you before, I'm pretty sure I handled it all wrong and made you think sometimes that I didn't love you."

Could he suddenly read her mind? Sakura flashed on memories of arguments, Kiba storming off with Akamaru leaving her in tears. Watching Temari have her baby and experiencing a tremendous amount of envy. Wondering what she must've done in her life that she'd earned rejection from the two men she'd loved. She felt the tears start to rise again.

"Kiba, I…"

"Listen," Kiba hurriedly interrupted. "It's not that my mom didn't like you, it's just that…well, you know how she is. She thinks people need to prove themselves, she tests everyone, even her own kids. He growled in frustration. "I'm not making any sense am I?" He smiled sadly.

"Actually, this is clearing up a lot for me," she replied. "It's not that you didn't want to marry me, you just need the approval of the clan. Am I right?"

"Hai, but don't think they didn't approve of you from the start. It's just we're a wild and crazy group. The Inuzuka Clan isn't for the faint of heart."

Sakura felt immediately guilty for her thoughts about what missions she'd choose for him and was very glad she hadn't voiced that opinion when he pulled a small red box off of the bedside table.

"Itsumo issho ni itaidesu," he said simply as he opened the box and Sakura found herself staring at a large claw shaped ruby ring.

"Anou, what do you think?" He asked when a minute went by and she still hadn't said anything. He wondered if, after all that had just happened, this was still what she wanted.

"Oh Kiba," she finally whispered bringing her hands up to her mouth.

"Kiba of course. Yes, you know I feel the same way."

She leaned over and kissed him deeper than she'd dared to just moments before. He was going to be alright, and they were going to be married. All the what ifs, and fears were locked away in a drawer at the back of her mind labeled "Possible scenarios" to be dealt with when the time came, not today. Afterall, she reasoned with herself, you can't live your life based on the fear of what could happen when there were so many wonderful things happening all around.


A/N: Itsumo issho ni itaidesu translates to "I want to be with you always" and is tantamount to a marriage proposal.