Entry for the H&E contest, "Five."
The Things You Love Most
It was a minor bump in their relationship. There was nothing to be worried about. Couples were never sunshine and lollipops every waking hour of the day; especially when Sakura was in one of her moods. When Naruto thought about it, she had been extremely volatile recently. Probably just the time of the month: that was the number one excuse Jiraya came-up with for explaining a woman's violent moods.
Naruto sighed as he gazed out the window of his office. It was the newly built Hokage tower, erected shortly after they had won the fourth ninja war. You could see the entire village bursting with life. Jiraya would have loved to have seen it. Naruto wondered how things would have ended up if his mentor were still alive and what kind of advice he would be giving him. Naruto certainly needed it because he didn't want to spend another night sleeping on the couch when he should be snuggling up to his wife. But he should have known better than to ever question a woman about her weight. It certainly wasn't the first time that his big mouth had gotten him into trouble. Too bad Sakura wouldn't let him use his big mouth to get him out of trouble.
Suddenly, he felt a spike of angry chakra heading his way. Naruto tensed in nervousness. He was all too familiar with this type of chakra. There were only two people in the village left who could manipulate their chakra this way: his dear sweet wife and . . .
"Naruto you chauvinistic male pig!"
"Hi Ino, what can I do for you today," Naruto sighed. He was thankful that it wasn't Sakura who decided to maim him in his own office. It took several days and a bit of bribing Yamato-taisho to fix the office last time he faced Sakura's wraith.
"You called Sakura fat!"
Naruto crossed his arms defensively. "I didn't call her fat! I just pointed out that she was eating more."
"It's the same thing. Ugh! Why is it so hard for men to understand something so simple? So, have you noticed yet?"
Ino glared at him. "Noticed the signs?"
Naruto looked around his office and looked outside the window. There was nothing different about them. "What signs?"
"You know, for the leader of our village, you are a real dumbass!"
"Look, I'm sorry that I called Sakura fat or whatever. Now can you just tell me what flowers to buy, how much they cost and put in a good word for me so I can start sleeping in my own bed again?"
"Oh no no no! It's because of that that you're in this mess in the first place," Ino crossed her arms and gave Naruto a stern look. "What you two need is couple therapy."
"Therapy!?! We don't need therapy, we're perfectly fine. I just made a simple mistake that'll blow over and then Sakura and I can get back to being a happily married couple and not the poor husband who's been forced to sleep on the couch," Naruto said smugly.
Ino shook her head. "Now I know why forehead wants me to help her out. Look Naruto, things are a lot more complicated than that. And know that I wouldn't be helping you two get over your little tiff if it weren't for the fact that you both are one of the cutest couples I know. You're both annoying as hell, but you work well with each other. So humor me a bit and try the couple therapy. I'll make sure that you can get back to sleeping in the same bed with Sakura, okay?"
"Alright, what do I have to do?" Naruto sighed as he slumped back into his chair.
"Here's the deal, I want you to write down five things you love about Sakura."
"Only five? Shit, I'll write a whole novel full of reasons if you want me to."
"We only need five Naruto. Don't screw this up and write down four and a-half or something stupid like that." Ino pointedly ignored the sour face Naruto was giving her. "Anyway, after you've completed your list, meet me back at your house tonight and then I'll start to work on your couple therapy. Sounds like a deal?"
"Sure," Naruto reached his hand out to shake before pulling back at the last minute. "Wait a second. If you do this for us, what do we have to give back to you in return? I know you and even though you're best friends with Sakura, there has got to be a catch."
"Despite the things that come out of your mouth, you actually are a pretty bright guy if you apply yourself."
"Ino, get to the point."
"Fine, fine," Ino smirked. "Here's the catch. You have to promise me that when it comes time for Kurenai's son to be put on a genin team, you let me be his Jonin-sensei."
"But what about Shikamaru?"
Ino snorted. "That lazy boy is actually considering a transfer to Suna to be closer to Temari. I never thought I'd see the day when he applied himself in anything."
Naruto nodded his head filing away the information about Shikamaru for later. He knew that he and Temari were getting serious. He had hoped that Temari was willing to transfer to Konoha so it would give Gaara an excuse to visit more often, but then there was nothing wrong with visiting Suna. "Okay, you've got yourself a deal."
* * *
He finished the list at the last minute. His messy handwriting was scrawled all over the piece of paper. Some sentences were scratched out and others were underlined or circled. If you looked close enough, you might even see some doodles of stick figures fighting underneath some of the scratched-out portions of the list. As he neared his house, he slowed his steps and held the list carefully to his chest as if it was a lifeline. He knew he shouldn't be afraid; he was only going into his own house. But that wasn't the problem. He was afraid of whatever "couple therapy" Ino was planning for them. Knowing Ino and Sakura, "couple therapy" was going to involve beating him up until the two females were satisfied.
With some caution, he knocked on the door before entering his own house. Scanning the living room, he spotted Ino and Sakura sitting on the couch. He eyed Sakura and noticed how pale she was. Instinctively, he kneeled beside her and rubbed her back.
"Sakura, are you feeling okay?"
"I've been feeling a little sick. I think I'll be okay."
Naruto could tell she had been feeling nauseous. He had no idea that the time of the month could be so debilitating. "Do you need some medicine or anything? I'm sure Ino could figure out what's wrong with you."
"I already know what's wrong with Sakura, Naruto. It's nothing to worry about. Now let's get started on this couple therapy. Though I wouldn't have to be here if someone wasn't being stupid," Ino muttered the last sentence under her breath while glaring at the couple or more noticeably, Sakura.
"Okay, so what do we do?" Naruto asked as he held the list defensively in front of him. "Please don't tell me you two are going to beat me up."
"That's certainly not out of the question," Ino smiled. "But first things first, I made you both write down five things that you love about each other. This is to help remind you about why you both got married in the first place. Naruto, I want you to read your list out loud to Sakura. When Naruto's finished with his list, then Sakura, you'll read yours. Everybody clear?"
The young couple both nodded their heads. Naruto tried to make eye contact with Sakura, but she kept her eyes on her list. He wondered what sort of things she had written down for him. Glancing down at his list, he hoped that what he had was good enough and wasn't going to get him into anymore trouble with his wife than he already was.
"Naruto, are you ready to go?" Ino asked.
Naruto took a deep breath and began to talk, "One, you make the best ramen in the whole-wide world."
"You complained that I burned the roast pork the other day," Sakura mumbled rather miffed.
Naruto's jaw dropped in horror. This wasn't starting off very well for him. "But I ate it all, didn't I?"
Sakura only crossed her arms in defiance and pouted.
"Keep on going Naruto, we've only just started," Ino sighed.
"Two, your super strength rivals Tsunade-bachan."
"I told you not to call it that."
"But that's what it is."
One glare from Sakura stopped all arguments on that matter. Hoping to fare better with what he wrote next, Naruto continued his list. "Three, you're the most beautiful girl I've ever met. Your eyes, your lips, your hair . . . and you have such a kissable forehead."
Naruto was hoping that the third item on his list was going to win him some major points, but the blank look Sakura gave him wasn't exactly the reaction he was hoping for. If the third item hadn't softened her up, then the last two were definitely going to be the clincher.
"Four, I've wanted you since forever. As long as I can remember you've always been the girl of my dreams. And five, I trust you with everything: my life and my love. You're my one and only Sakura-chan."
He could tell the last items on the list had worked their magic as Sakura looked at him with that familiar twinkle of love he had grown to appreciate. It looked as if the list was actually doing its job.
"Not bad Naruto. I have to admit, I wasn't expecting much so good job. Now Sakura, it's your turn and please make sure you finish the entire list."
Sakura smoothed out the paper and gave Naruto a tentative look before speaking. "One, you make me laugh."
Naruto jumped up in the air. "I knew it! You loved me back when we were genin!"
"Scratch that, you piss me off."
Ino forced Naruto to sit back down and chided him. "I know that Sakura got to comment about your list, but for the sake of your livelihood, you might want to shut-up until she's finished speaking."
"Yes Ma'am," Naruto answered.
"Okay Sakura, go ahead and finish your list."
"Two, you're one of the most reliable people I know who keeps all of his promises," Sakura paused giving Naruto a cross look. "Except when you forget to take out the trash."
Naruto hung his shoulders in shame. He didn't mean to forget it last week, he had just been so busy with his duties as Hokage it slipped his mind.
"Three, you are a great Hokage who does his best for the village everyday, but that's still no excuse to forget to take out the trash. Four, you've been there for me. Always."
Sakura paused and looked at Ino briefly for some encouragement. Ino motioned for her to continue on to the last item. Naruto was morbidly curious, being somewhat delighted and humbled by the previous items on her list.
"And five. Number five is the fact that I know you will make the best father for our child."
His eyes widened as he processed the entire list that Sakura recited. She was looking at him with expectancy. Naruto repeated the last four words over and over again in his head. Father for our child. Father. Child. Our child. "Sakura, you're pregnant!"
"Yes," Sakura said with a wistful look.
"How? Why? Never mind the how. When?"
"She's twelve weeks along. It's something she's been meaning to tell you but she's been too hung-up on hoping you would figure it out after all of the obvious hints she's been giving you. But seriously you two, congratulations. I'll take my leave now that my work here is done," Ino said as she made her way out of the house with a satisfied look.
Naruto stared at Sakura in total disbelief. "You were pregnant all this time and you didn't tell me?"
"I wanted to tell you, but I was hoping you would be surprised by all of the clues I gave you. You didn't notice any of the signs? The knitting? The comments about how I've been feeling sick in the mornings? Gazing at my belly in the mirror?"
"I thought you liked to knit. And I wasn't sure if you maybe had drunk some bad milk that morning. I've had that happened to me you know so that was possible. And . . . and you were naked when you were looking at yourself in the mirror, how was I supposed to know you were looking at your belly?"
Sakura raised her fist ready to punch Naruto's lights out, but paused after noticing him staring at her stomach.
"So, the baby's in there?"
"Can I . . . can I touch your belly? I'm not going to do anything perverted, I promise," Naruto was quick to add at the end.
With a bit of trepidation, Sakura agreed and carefully lifted her shirt up for her husband to see. To his credit, Naruto didn't once notice any other part of her body but her stomach. He placed his hand on the small bump on her usually flat belly and smiled.
Sakura watched the many different emotions racing across Naruto's face. "What are you thinking?"
"We're going to have a baby. I . . . I'm going to be a father." Naruto wrapped his arms around his wife and held her with sweet abandon. "I love you Sakura. Thank you."
Sakura pulled out of the hug long enough to give her husband a soothing kiss. "I love you too Naruto. You can be a real idiot sometimes, but I know you'll be a wonderful father. It's just one of the many things I love about you."
"I think I'm going to add a sixth reason to my list," Naruto said as he rested his head against Sakura's stomach.
"That you'll be the best mother in the whole wide world and I love you for giving me something I've always wanted: a family."
Sakura smiled softly. "I think I like that."
A/N: For those who have been patiently waiting for me to finish the next chapter in "WJS." I have written about half of it. Going to try and finish it before the end of the year.