(thump. thump. thump.)

"Sasuke-kun? Are you okay?"

"Hn."

You've been quiet all day.
Well, not that you're not normally quiet, but—
Even this is a little much for you.

"You can talk to me, you know. We're married, aren't we?"

Sasuke-kun?

"Am I…doing something wrong?"

(inhale. exhale. inhale. exhale.)

"What do you mean?"

How can you do any wrong, after all of this?
You've accomplished your life goal—you're done, Sasuke-kun.

"We've been trying for months. Why aren't you…?"

"Why aren't I what? Pregnant?"

You don't have to do anything anymore. It's okay.

"Yeah."

(breathe. breathe. inhale—)

"We probably just haven't got the timing right yet. We'll try again later?"

Grunt. "Hn."

(—exhale.)


"Sakura." She looked up from her book, and smiled.

"Welcome back, Sasuke!" He shrugged off his jacket and hung it up. "How was your day?"

"Tiring."

"Would you like me to give you a massage? You look tense."

He smirked in such a manner that it almost seemed too soft to be a smirk—but after all this time, she knew better than to think that he would smile. "Sure." She marked her place in her book and made room for him on the couch. "You said you wanted to try that new Italian restaurant down the street, didn't you?"

She placed her hands on his shoulders accordingly, remembering all of those books on massages that she had read years ago. "Yeah. But aren't we tight on money?"

"I saved up. Would you like to go tonight?"

(surprises. spontaneity. and dare she say it—happiness.)

"I would love to!"

Later that evening, they walked into the restaurant—looking a little underdressed, but if they were, no one said anything about it. Sasuke had his arm around her waist, protectively, as the waiter led them to their table.

Honestly, she had never imagined a life like this. She wasn't foolish enough to hope for such a thing.

"What are those?"

"These? Olives. Do you want to try one?"

She wrinkled her nose. They were black and beady, and they almost reminded her of Kisame's eyes. "Okay." He poked one with his fork and held it out for her to eat. She chewed it slowly, careful not to bite the seed.

Sasuke watched her, eyes dancing in the candlelight. "So? How is it?"

She looked at him honestly. "I think I hate them more than tomatoes."


YOU'RE GONE.


five years later;

Life was harder. Harder, but better.

The busy life of New York was the best place to be, if you were hiding from people. It turned out that she couldn't go to med school or be a doctor—despite her knowledge, she didn't have the prerequisites required. It came as a disappointment, but she had learned to shoulder her disappointments. She had an entire list of them. She worked full time at a convenience store, and when she had time, she would go to the hospital, sit in the waiting area and just watch people go by.

Sasuke, on the other hand, had become an accountant. It was a big demotion, from being a CEO, but that was the best he could do. They lived in an apartment—nothing compared to the Uchiha Mansion—but she couldn't complain. After all, she had Sasuke—and that was more than enough.

She was just about to drift off to sleep when Sasuke suddenly spoke. "Have you noticed anything strange lately?"

"What do you mean by strange?" she mumbled, not sure if she came across as coherent or not.

"Just…anything out of the ordinary."

"I…don't think so." She couldn't bring herself to think too much about it when she was so close to falling asleep. "Why?"

He paused. "Nothing." She felt him shift beside her. "Here. Come closer." Despite everything, it was still a little out of the ordinary for him to initiate such physical contact, so she complied gladly, moving close enough to feel his body heat. His arm draped around her waist, and she heard him release a small sigh, as if content.

(his smell brought such comfort to her.)

"Don't leave me, Sakura."

In her grogginess, she could only smile softly.

"I don't know why I would."


"I—I'm scared. I don't like being scared."

"Being scared is a good thing. It means that you still have something left to lose."


She woke up feeling melancholic.

Her dream hadn't been a nice one—not that she could ever remember them anyway. It was filled with pain and anguish. Trying to rid herself of these thoughts, she attempted to move out of Sasuke's grasp so she could get ready for the day. She felt his hold around her waist tighten, though.

"Sasuke?" She peered at him curiously, and watched his eyes flutter open. "Sorry. Did I wake you?"

"It doesn't matter. I was going to get up eventually anyway. Did you have a bad dream?"

"What makes you think that?"

"You rarely wake before I do." He didn't smile, but his eyes were soft. She'd never tire of his kindness. "Was it scary?" One of his hands came to brush a lock of hair out of her eyes.

She shook her head. "No—just…sad."

"Sad?"

"And empty. It was just…so lonely."

Years, and they couldn't find the connection between their dreams and real life. They'd gone to a variety of people in a variety of different professions, asking if it had ever happened before, but all of them were dead ends. Personally, she didn't mind much if they never knew why they could walk on water. But Sasuke—Sasuke was dying to know.

"You're not alone here." He drew her closer, until her face nestled into the crook of his neck. She breathed in his musky scent. "I'm here."

She smiled against his skin. "I know."

They remained that way only for a few minutes, before Sasuke moved away and out of bed. "You should get ready too."

He dropped her off at the convenience store first, before heading off to work himself. Sighing, she pushed open the doors and signed in for work. There was this one boy she worked with—younger than her by several years, and only working for the duration of the summer before school started again. He had blonde hair and blue eyes, and was always smiling—it reminded her of a friend she had, a long time ago.

"Morning, Sakura!"

She smiled at him, waving before heading in the storeroom in the back. "Morning, Anthony."

On her bucket list of four things, she had three done.

1. Spend an entire day outside.

Sasuke had taken her to Central Park one day with a packed lunch. They spent the entire day there, walking around, sitting in the grass—and even now, she could still remember the ladybug that had crawled up her leg, and the way the wind and sun felt on her skin at the same time. Sasuke had surprised her and also had a thermos full of hot chocolate.

2. Visit a hospital.

She went to the hospital whenever she could. The nurses knew her well, and they all knew she had the ability to become a doctor. There was one nurse that she liked talking to—Yamanaka Ino. A bit of a chatterbox, but she was an honest girl, and she liked listening to her stories.

Sometimes, she wanted to help out down in the ER, but she wasn't allowed down there—and even if she was, she wouldn't have the authority to help anyone out. But she did talk to the patients—she liked to think it was some sort of therapy or patient support. Sasuke never once objected to what she was doing, so she figured it was a good thing.

3. Keep Sasuke happy.

Little by little. It was happening, little by little.

She'd seen him at his worst. When Kisame told him the truth about Itachi, when she was kidnapped by Itachi—it was funny, how one man could make someone feel so much. Sasuke broke incredibly easily, she had noticed—one touch and he'd fall apart.

But now, things were better. There was more life in his eyes. Maybe he wasn't letting go of their past or of Akatsuki—but he was learning to live with it. And that was always a start.

There'd be the day when Sasuke would return though, and burn that organization down. He'd avenge his brother.

4. Take a picture with Sasuke.

Despite requesting this for several years, Sasuke had still refused. He didn't like cameras, for some reason. When she asked him why, he said it was because he said he hated reminiscing. There was nothing to remember, if he didn't have it now.

"Even Naruto?" she had asked.

He had momentarily closed his eyes, as if remembering something painful. "He isn't gone," he had said. "He's still here."


(thump. thump. thump.)

"Sasuke-kun? Um, can we…can we talk?"

I can't believe this is happening.
After everything we've gone through, I can't believe it.

"Are you okay, Sakura?"

Sniff. "Yeah. It's just—yeah, I'm fine."

(breathe. breathe. breathe.)

"Calm down. What's wrong?"

"I—I"—gasp—"Remember when I went to the hospital to get myself checked up?"

"Just tell me, Sakura."

It's just not fair. After all we've had to endure, this just isn't fair.

"I…I'm sterile, Sasuke-kun. I can't—I can't have children."

(thump, thumpthump, thumpthumpthump—)

"I'm sorry—I'm so sorry—"

Sasuke. Sasuke. Sasuke.

Sasuke-kun.

I never thought I'd be one to let you down.
Are you disappointed in me, Sasuke-kun? Angry?
Are you going to abandon me?

"Sa…Sasuke-kun?"

Your kindness hurts.

"It's alright. It's not your fault."

Choked laugh. "This is completely unlike you, y'know. Before, you would've just found another woman—"

"There is no other woman, Sakura. It's just you."

"D-Don't be silly…"

(breathe. breathe. god dammit, just breathe.)

"I don't want anyone else. I'm tired. I'm done."

You're beautiful, even when you're falling from grace.

"Are you okay, Sasuke-kun?"

"I just…I just want to rest. I want to sleep."

(breathe.)

Smile.

"Then let's sleep."

(thump. thump. thump.)


"Sakura!" She looked up from the cup ramen that she was placing onto the shelves to find Anthony with his hands cupped around his mouth as an amplifier. "You have a visitor!"

Which was odd. She'd never gotten a visitor before. It wouldn't be Sasuke, because he'd come to pick her up enough for Anthony to know that he wasn't a mere visitor. So who could it be? Placing the final cup ramen onto the shelf, she headed over to the counter.

Who she saw made her stop dead in her tracks.

"Hello, Sakura." Zetsu smiled pleasantly. "It's been a while, hasn't it?"

The blood drained from her face. Sasuke. Where was Sasuke? She had a cell phone now, but it was in her bag in the back—

"Zetsu-sama." She bowed her head a little in greeting. Old habits died hard. "Hello."

"May I speak to you outside?" He glanced over at Anthony, who was politely reading a magazine—but she knew him for long enough to know that he was listening. He'd always been a curious one. "This is more of a…private matter."

She shook her head, maybe too quickly. "I'm sorry. I'm—I'm working." Going outside meant surrendering herself to him. She couldn't do that.

(he didn't own her anymore. he couldn't hurt her without getting in trouble.)

"It's okay, Sakura!" Anthony grinned. "I'll watch over the place! You won't take long, right?"

"Of course it won't take long." She found it horrifying, how easily Zetsu could act normal, and blend right in. When did he learn English? Were all the members of Akatsuki fluent in several languages? That'd make sense, wouldn't it—considering they were a famous organization to the world, despite being corrupted behind closed doors.

"No, really—I'm busy. Maybe another time?" They were here. Akatsuki was here. They were going to get her and Sasuke and kill them—or even worse, wipe her memory with some new drug and use her again. Her eyes flitted around in a paranoid fashion. There was an exit in the back, and a window in the bathroom—if needed, she could break that and escape that way—

"Of course. I'll catch you another time, then." Zetsu smiled. "I'm sorry for interrupting your work."

"No, it's fine." She managed to return his smile.

The moment he left, she spun on her heels and raced to the back. Her fingers fumbled with the zipper of her bag and the buttons on her phone—by the time she had it pressed to her ear and waiting for Sasuke to pick up, her eyes were wide and frantic, breathing heavy.

"Sakura?" Just hearing Sasuke's voice on the other end made the heavy weight on her heart ease up a little.

"Sasuke—they—Zetsu-sama—" She couldn't even form coherent sentences.

"Zetsu? Are you safe? Where are you right now?"

"Still at work. I told Zetsu-sama I was busy, but he said he'd come back later—does this mean that all of Akatsuki's here? Are they going to kill us?"

"We'll be fine, Sakura. Stay where you are. I'll come pick you up and we'll find a way to beat them."

"Beat them? Why do we have to beat them?" Her grip tightened on her phone, palms slick with sweat. "Can't we run?"

"They'll follow us no matter where we go. Don't worry. I'll handle this. Stay where you are—I'm coming." He hung up before she got a chance to respond. Still in shock, her hand slowly fell from her ear, the phone loose in her grip.

Five years. They had been building this life for five years—and in a mere two minutes, all of it came crashing down.

"I'm sorry, Anthony—I have to leave early today." She came out of the back room with her bag on her shoulder.

"Are you okay?" He frowned. "You look pale."

She managed a tight smile. "I've always been pale. I'm fine." But that didn't stop the way she shifted her weight on her feet or the way she flipped her phone open and shut while she waited for Sasuke to come.

It was the first time she had seen him so frazzled. His unruly hair seemed more disheveled than usual, and he was panting, as if he ran. The moment he pushed open the door to the convenience store, she was overcome with the urge to just collapse and cry. "Sasuke…" She covered her mouth, trying her best to swallow the lump in her throat.

"It's okay, Sakura. It's okay." He rushed over and pulled her into him in a tight hug. "Sh. It's okay."

"Um…are you guys okay?" In Sasuke's momentary panic, he had switched to Japanese, leaving Anthony confused.

"We're fine." Sasuke released her and took her by the hand, his touch gentle. "We'll be off now." She had to keep her eyes on her feet as they left. She couldn't look at Anthony. In front of him, she'd always been the one who taught him, who showed him the different tasks at the store—a friend, someone to talk to during the empty and boring hours of the day. He knew nothing of her past, of who she was—what she was.

(but what was she, really? human. she was normal. she wasn't like them.)


"Have you ever wondered what it'd be like to fly?"

Sasuke looked at her over the rim of his glasses. "Why would you wonder about something that's clearly impossible?"


Her heart jumped to her throat. No.

They were there, waiting at their apartment door. Not waiting outside the building—they were right at their door.

They were all there. Pein, Zetsu, Tobi, Sasori, Kakuzu—they were all there. She knew Konan was most likely around too, but Pein had never been one to risk her safety—she was probably somewhere, waiting.

"Where's Kisame?" she whispered. She almost didn't want to know.

"We took care of him," Pein said expressionlessly. "When we traced his phone calls, we discovered that they all led to one suspicious individual."

She felt Sasuke tense beside her. "What have you done to him?"

Tobi laughed, and formed his hand into the shape of a gun. "Bang, bang!" She had never seen Tobi around much, as he was always out running errands for the others. She never thought of him as an overly terrible person—but she'd been proven wrong yet again.

She didn't even have the energy to cry anymore. "But…" But what? So what if Kisame helped them? So what if he was a good person?

(life wasn't like the fairytales that she always read about.)

"Uchiha Sasuke. You are unarmed, and against five armed men. We suggest you surrender. Do not make this messy for us." Pein stepped forward, a gun already in his hand and held up, pointed right at Sasuke's head. Her eyes widened—why was it that even now, she still couldn't do anything?

"Unarmed?" Upon looking up at him, she found him smirking. How could he possibly be smirking in a situation like this? "I think not."

It was true that both Sasuke and Sakura had a gun. But they were both inside, tucked under their pillows—they weren't on them right now. She'd never thought that she'd live to see the day where she wished she had one, just waiting to be used.

It was only when Sasuke's hands moved in rapid movements that she realized what he was planning to do.

"But the apartment—" They were standing in the hallway, with several other people living around them. They couldn't destroy a place like this.

If Sasuke heard, he showed no sign of stopping. Within seconds, he had one hand cupping his lips, and a searing heat erupted, headed straight for the five men. She squeaked and held her arms up to protect her face.

Sasuke's fireball had caught them off guard without a doubt, and he didn't waste time grabbing her wrist and pulling her down the hall and towards the stairs. She stumbled to keep up with his pace, racing down the steps, faster and faster and oh God she was going to trip and fall—

The lobby of their apartment passed by in a blur, and suddenly, they were outside—running, running faster—but despite the crowd that they were disappearing in, why did it feel like they were still right on their tails?

She glanced over her shoulder once, and swallowed. Right. That was why.

"Sasuke—they're right behind us—"

"All of them?"

She looked back again. "Tobi's gone—"

"Good. That makes one of them. Don't stop running!" His grip only tightened on her wrist, and she stared hopelessly at the back of his head as she ran. Her legs were aching, her lungs were burning.

Why was Sasuke doing this? Wasn't it just her they wanted? If he let her go right now, then he could escape—

"Sasuke—just"—she couldn't believe she was saying this—"just let me go."

His steps didn't even falter. "Absolutely not."

She never thought she'd ever be willing to sacrifice herself for someone else. She'd read all about it in the books—where someone loved someone else to the point that they'd be willing to give up their own lives for them. It was a stupid, and she promised herself that she'd never do it—

But she wanted to do it. She wanted to.

(because she was human.)

"Sasuke—it's not you they want, it's me—"

"It's not, Sakura!" If he had the chance to, he'd be glaring at her right now. "The moment I chose to take you away, they wanted us both! Both of us pose the same threat to them now—so don't you dare say that they only want you!"

"The police—we should go to the police—"

"And what? Risk the chance of you being executed?"

(why was he going so far for her? he could easily escape if it wasn't for her—)

Even now, she couldn't fathom his love.

She nearly tripped and fell flat on her face when Sasuke suddenly turned a sharp corner and pulled her down a flight of stairs, underground and into the subway terminal. It was the middle of the day, so not many people were there—just an elderly lady and a businessman, probably late in returning from his lunch break.

"You!" Sasuke shouted at the businessman. "Take that woman and go, if you don't want to get hurt!" It came as a surprise to her that he would take the safety of others into consideration—but she didn't get the chance to revel in it, because footsteps echoed all around them. She stared in horror as the remaining four members of Akatsuki came down the stairs, along with several men dressed in black, all armed with guns.

Was that even considered fair?

"Sakura," Sasuke said slowly, voice low, "stand back." He pulled something out of his pocket—a pocketknife. The one Naruto killed Hidan with.

"But you can't take all of them on," she whispered. "Even with your fire—"

"I said stand back!"

There wasn't much she could do anyway, because at that point, her legs gave out from under her, and she collapsed to the ground, vision blurry with tears.

She heard gunshots, but she didn't want to look. To see Sasuke get hurt was the last thing she wanted. She'd seen the worst of injuries—gangrene, crushed bones, destroyed livers—but the thought of Sasuke's blood being spilt made her want to vomit.

Sudden searing heat, and some of the men in black were on fire.

"Sa…kura?"

For a full second, her heart stopped beating. She had been so afraid that it was Sasuke who had choked out her name—but Sasuke's voice was deeper than that. She whipped her head around, eyes wide.

"Anthony?"

"What's going on?" The blonde boy looked around. "What's happening? That's the guy who came to talk to you this morning, wasn't it?"

She scrambled to her feet. "You have to get out of here. Go—go get the police or something, please!" She didn't care if they found out she was illegal. She didn't care anymore—she hated seeing Sasuke like this, fighting. He could've lived a peaceful life. He could've been happy. If it wasn't for Akatsuki—if it wasn't for them, he wouldn't have to go through all of this—

"But what about you?" Anthony asked frantically. "Let's get Sasuke and run!"

"We can't!" She didn't realize that she was crying until now. "We just—we just can't, Anthony, please—just go get help…"

(it wasn't supposed to be this way.)

Gunshots. Grunts. More fire.

Was Sasuke okay?

Pein's voice was startlingly clear above all the noise. "There's a kid, Kakuzu. Kill him."

"Quick! Go!" She gave him a shove for good measure, and with one more uncertain glance at her, he took to the opposite flight of stairs on the other side of the terminal. One gunshot sounded, and then two—and he crumpled, just a few feet away from his destination.

Her legs moved of their own accord, and before she realized it, she was kneeling in front of him, rolling him so he was facing skywards. He had his hand pressed against his side, all bloody and shaking. Good. He wasn't hit in a vital spot.

"Anthony? Anthony, look at me!" Those blue, blue eyes seemed so empty, so haunting. She held her hands over his wound, unsure. She hadn't tended to anyone ever since she arrived in New York. She wasn't sure if this was still going to work.

But sure enough, the warm, green glow enveloped her hands as she willed his wound to heal. It was working. He wasn't going to die.

"I'm very interested in those magic tricks that you and Sasuke have up your sleeves." Her blood ran cold when she felt something press to the back of her head. She knew the voice and the feeling well enough to know that it was a gun. "Tell me, how do you do it?"

She ignored him, and concentrated on fixing Anthony. She knew she was nothing up against Kakuzu, let alone all of Akatsuki—but this, she could do. She wasn't a fighter—she was a healer.

"What is this?" Anthony grinned weakly, staring at her working hands. "How do you do that?"

"Just a little trick I picked up during my travels." Good. She stopped the bleeding. "Is there any other place that hurts?" He shook his head. "Do you think you can stand?"

"Don't think you're going anywhere." Kakuzu pressed the gun harder against the back of her head.

"Sakura!" Sasuke's voice echoed all around her. "Don't do anything stupid!"

She smiled wryly. That didn't make much difference now—all she'd ever done was stupid things. "I promise," she said, holding up her hands, "that this kid won't tell anyone anything he saw today. So just let him go."

Kakuzu didn't even laugh. "I'm under the orders to kill him."

"Do you have some drugs on you? You could wipe his memory. That seemed to work pretty well on me, didn't it?" It was amazing, how some adrenaline and desperation could make her say such bold things to a man she had feared for so long.

"Maybe I should kill you first," Kakuzu mused, ignoring her question. "Would you like that? Then you wouldn't have to watch your little friend die."

Footsteps sounded. Just by their speed, their volume—she knew it was Sasuke. "Sakura!"

"Don't move, Sasuke," Kakuzu said sharply. "Or I'll shoot her."

She wasn't looking, but she knew it was Pein who was speaking. "Don't you think it's about time you two gave up? You're completely outnumbered, and only one of you has the ability to fight."

(it was over, wasn't it? it was over.)

Gathering all of the courage she had, she turned around, even with Kakuzu's gun right at her head. "Please," she begged Pein, "let Anthony go."

The only thing she ever liked about the orange-haired man was that never once did he have that maniacal expression to him like all of the other Akatsuki members did. "That'll pose as too much of a risk," he said calmly. "I can't allow that."

"Wipe his memory. He doesn't have to know about this. Please."

"Sakura, he's just a boy—"

"He's not just a boy, Sasuke! Everyone I care about dies, did you notice? Naruto, Hibiki—Anthony, and now you! You have three guns pointed at you! Three!" She was hysterical now. There were so many emotions flashing in Sasuke's dark eyes that she couldn't figure out even one of them.

It was silent for an agonizing moment, and Pein walked toward her and Anthony—who by now, she noticed, was whimpering, almost inaudibly.

"It's only because of this woman that I'm letting you go," he said slowly—sending a ripple of murmurs among the other members. "But I know your face, kid. If anything happens to us, it's on you."

Anthony stared frantically at her, then Pein, then back at her. Then he nodded, struggling to get to his feet.

He had an entire life ahead of him. He had a future. He had a family, an education, a home—he had the opportunities that she was never going to get. She smiled a little, knowing that he could use his potential.

"You should wash your clothes before your mom sees that blood," she told him. "Use bleach."

"But—but what about you…?"

"Don't worry about me." She smiled. "I'll be fine." She was sure that she didn't sound very convincing, but that was the least she could do. The footsteps of Anthony echoed around her, until they eventually disappeared altogether.

Silence again.

(now what?)

"So," Pein said, breaking the tension, "shall we finish this?" And without waiting for an answer, he held his gun out at Sasuke and shot.

She was going to scream when Sasuke fell, but then she realized that he just ducked. The sigh of relief came whooshing from her lips too quickly, and she could only squeak when he roughly yanked her to her feet and pulled her to the stairs that Anthony had just taken. They didn't waste a moment to begin shooting, and she couldn't help but flinch when she heard the bullets make contact with the cement.

They couldn't beat them after all. All they could do was run.

Suddenly, Sasuke's feet gave out from under him and he fell, pulling her down with him. He kneeled on the stairs, swearing through clenched teeth.

"Sasuke?" She shook his shoulder. "Are you okay?"

"My leg—fix it—"

But there wasn't time. She couldn't fix a bullet wound in mere seconds.

(this was impossible. absolutely impossible.)

It was clear that Pein was tired of chasing them around, because his features were tense. He walked right up to them, gun pointed right at Sasuke's head.

"Sakura—run—"

Pein gave him no time. "Goodbye, Uchiha Sasuke."

(they were going to die.)

A single gunshot pierced through the air. She choked on herself.

But Sasuke was breathing. She coughed violently, slumping onto him, feeling nothing but utter relief. Sasuke was breathing.

"Sakura? Sakura!"

She positioned her hands over the wound on his leg, breathing haggard. She could do this. She could do this.

(breathe. breathe. breathe.)

"I"—she coughed violently, tasting blood—"I stopped the bleeding. You should—you should go—" Another gunshot.

"Sakura!"

She felt someone else kneeling down beside her, and a cold hand grasped her chin. She saw a flash of red. Sasori. "It's a shame. My pretty doll isn't very pretty anymore."

"Move away, you little shit!" The hand left her chin. "Sakura! Stay with me!"

She couldn't even feel the pain. Her body had gone into shock. She was having trouble breathing—they probably got her lung. The second shot—she wasn't sure where it landed, but it didn't matter to her much. She smiled softly. "Hi, Sasuke. Hey—will you…take a picture with me?" Her vision was fading.

(inhale. exhale. inhale—)

"No pictures." His voice was hoarse. "You're not dying."

She would've laughed, but she choked on her own blood. "You're funny…"

"That wasn't a joke!"

"It's okay…I wasn't supposed to exist in the first place…anyway. But you can do…great things, Sasuke. Go…kick their asses."

"Don't close your eyes, Sakura, don't you dare close your eyes!" It felt good, to be able to do something for once. "Sakura! Sakura, I lo—"

(…exhale.)


(thump. thump. thump.)

You don't realize how beautiful you are when you sleep, Sasuke-kun.
I wonder what you dream about? Do you dream about me?
Itachi? Naruto?

Fingertips against skin.

(smile.)

It's hard to believe someone like you endured all of that.
You, who looks like nothing more than a child when you sleep.

"No matter what, Sasuke-kun…"

Well. I suppose I should sleep too.

"As long as you don't give up on me…"

I'll see you in my dreams.

"I won't give up on you either."

(thump. thump. thump.)


She woke to the feeling of lips on her eyelids.

"Sasuke-kun…?"

Her husband's expression was nothing short of blank, but she knew him better than that. "Sakura."

She smiled, and shifted into a more comfortable position. "What are you doing up? It's still dark."

"I was thinking…"

"About what?" The wind was blowing loudly outside; she could hear every single grain of sand hitting their window.

"Adoption."

Silence. "Adoption?"

"Our child won't have the Sharingan or our genes, but…it'll still be our child. Won't it?" In the darkness, she could barely make out the black of his eyes—but the way he spoke made her tremble a little. "He doesn't have to be a shinobi. He can be…a teacher."

Taking his face into her hands, she kissed him, all warmth and gentleness. "Of course," she said softly. "Do you want to adopt?"

Pause. "Only if you do."

She smiled. "Then I don't mind."

His fingers brushed her cheeks. "You were crying in your sleep."

Surprised, she brought her hand up to her face. It was damp. "Oh. So I was."

"Bad dream?"

She tried to remember, but found that she couldn't. Which wasn't surprising—not many could remember their dreams anyway. "It doesn't matter," she said, pulling the covers tighter around them, and snuggling into his chest.

"Are you sure?"

"Of course. It's just a dream, after all."


notes: IT'S DONE!

i have mixed feelings about finishing this. for one, i am so glad, because at points, it was so difficult to write this fic. but at the same time, it'll be so sad for me to not get your encouraging reviews anymore. D: i really had fun writing this, guys. thanks so much for all of the support—this has been my most well-received fic yet.

whether or not you celebrate christmas, happy holidays! let's end this year with a bang, ne?

p.s. YOU'VE JUST BEEN MINDFUCKED. :D oh, and if you don't really get what's going on, read the last scene over a few times? i really wanted to make you guys think, so if you don't understand it right away, please don't review, asking what happened. i'll be very disappointed in you!

EDIT: a lot of you are saying this is like inception…and i finished writing this fic before the movie even came out. PREMONITION, MUCH? (btw, thanks so much for all of your lovely reviews! :D)