Yay UPDATE AND A NEW COVER PHOTO! I felt like drawing Sakura a lot this month.. anyway all the links are up on my profile! This is unbeta'd and briefly looked through - sprinkles for everyone who finds my heinous mistakes.
Sasuke hummed pensively.
"So that's why she wasn't fighting?"
Aragorn turned to the foreign man, attempting to read his expression. He could not tell much from it, though.
"Yes." He said, simply. What else was there to say?
He made another pensive noise, turning his attention towards his fellow ninja talking quietly under the eaves of a large oak tree. The Fellowship had embarked from Helm's Deep after the battle was over to make for Isengard—Aragorn had said something about 'hobbits' being taken to this strange place. He snorted. Everything here was strange.
Stranger still was Naruto's unnaturally austere expression.
Sakura rubbed her temples, chancing another weary glance at her companion. She'd commandeered him not too long after the fellowship had embarked for Isengard, intent on finally clearing the air. Suffice to say, it was not going exactly how she'd expected. Granted, she hadn't known how the blonde would react in the first place.
"Oh." He said, and then, after some length of time, "Oh."
And he hadn't said anything else since.
"That's all your going to say?" Sakura asked into the air, when it became clear her blonde companion was not going to say anything further.
Conflicted emotions drifted over the blonde's face. "I mean… Sakura…" He shook his head with a forlorn expression. "You're okay, right?"
She blinked, taken aback. "I'm fine?" Why would she not be? What was that supposed to mean?
The blonde didn't elaborate. He looked speculative. "You don't look okay." He noted.
What the hell was that supposed to mean? Sakura scowled, and self-consciously smoothed a hand down her hair. "Thanks."
"No, not like that!" Naruto backtracked hastily. "I just mean—are you happy?"
She blinked again. Now there was a question she had no idea how to answer. What was she supposed to say? Yes? No? I've been a little too busy to meditate on my feelings lately? She settled on neutrality. "Naruto," She hesitated. "That's not… That's not really relevant right now."
"Isn't it, though?" He pressed. "It's not like you to… be so irresponsible? I mean, none of this is like you, Sakura!"
And didn't she know it.
Sakura sighed. She had completely forgotten about Naruto's incorrigible and uncanny ability to be incredibly perceptive at times.
"Why'd you go on this mission, Sakura-chan?" He asked, an unnaturally serious look to him.
She shrugged. "I—what does it matter?"
Naruto shook his head. "Sakura-chan—
She cut him off. "Can we discuss this later? We've been holding up the Fellowship for almost half an hour now."
Naruto turned his attention towards the party waiting for them across the ravine. That was a fair assessment, he supposed, though he knew Sakura was only pointing that out to avoid this conversation. Also rather unlike her. He scratched his cheek, before deciding that, if she was already so defensive about it, it'd probably be best to let it rest.
"Yeah." He agreed. "We should probably get back."
She pivoted smartly on one foot, and started the trek towards their party without him. Naruto followed her at a more sedate pace, thinking everything over as he watched her navigate down the hill. She didn't look any different—but that probably had more to do with a Genjutsu than any significant health changes. He caught her profile in the waning sunlight; something like impassivity holding her expression. Now rarely was Naruto considered anything approaching observant, but he could be strangely insightful when it came to reading other people. Hell, it was probably his most defining talent, no matter what the other five nations said otherwise. He doubted he'd ever have come this far had he not been so good at understanding other people and their motivations.
And Sakura, well… he'd known her a long time. Like Sasuke, sometimes it was difficult to appraise her with a detached neutrality. It didn't help that he'd carried a torch for her for such a long time—that kind of shit blinded you.
But he could see her clearer now, and into all she tried to hide.
He had to admit, she was pretty good at it. If he hadn't known her as long as he did, he'd never know what she was thinking. And right now, she was… tense. Uncomfortable. He hadn't seen her this uneasy in a great many years—and it wasn't an apprehension from being stuck in a foreign land, no. They'd been on too many of these kinds of missions for her to be so unnerved by them.
It was the pregnancy, then.
He absentmindedly drew a hand to his shoulder, rubbing the muscle there as he watched her progress to the fellowship—and then past them without a word.
He supposed that made a lot of sense.
The trek to Isengard was relatively quiet; the tension between them was palpable, and Sakura keeping her staunch silence was most definitely not helping. Gandalf was a well enough conversationalist, and he'd pulled Gimli into an argument on Dwarven literature some time ago, so that at least served as running back chatter. Legolas looked as pensive as Sakura.
Sasuke was by his side, looking incredibly put upon by the horse beneath him. Though to be honest, he'd looked put upon ever since Tsunade had practically back handed him out of the village.
Naruto would be lying if he said he didn't enjoy the other boy's companionship on the mission—it'd been a long time indeed since the two of them had actually been on the same team. Hell, or even the same side of the war. In a lot of ways he didn't recognize the boy by his side anymore; in a lot of ways, he also hadn't changed at all. Right now he was still watching their other teammate with a strangely clerical eye—wait. Naruto blinked.
"How did you find out?" He balked.
Sasuke turned to him, flat. "Aragorn told me."
"Seriously?" Naruto harrumphed. Was he the only one who hadn't known? Well, perhaps not. He didn't think Gimli did. But hell if he'd be compared to a dwarf.
"If it makes you feel better, he only told me a few minutes ago." Sasuke returned, dry as a bone.
Naruto scowled. No, it didn't. He maneuvered his horse closer to Sasuke's. Or, he tried anyway. Moving these beasts was a much harder task than he would've expected it to be. "It's not weird to you?"
Sasuke spared him an incredulous glance. "That she's pregnant? No, Naruto. That's a thing that happens to women sometimes. Do I have to explain this to you?"
"Not that!" He hissed, and then lowered his voice when he felt a few eyes turn to him. "It's just—I don't know. I'm really surprised by it."
His look turned curious, but the Uchiha didn't reply.
Naruto blew a raspberry and elaborated, "Well, it just doesn't seem like her, don't you think?"
Sasuke shrugged. "To be honest, Naruto, I don't really know her that well anymore."
Naruto drew back at that. He hadn't thought of it like that. It was true though; it'd been some time since Sasuke and Sakura had spoken. Or had even seen each other—on the same side of the battlefield, that was.
"But it might have something to do with us."
This stirred Naruto out of his thoughts. "Wait, what?" He groused. And then, snorting, "Listen, I'm pretty sure neither of us put that bun in the oven, if you know what I mean."
"Not like that." Sasuke rolled his eyes. "I just…" He shifted, and Naruto blinked. Was he uncomfortable? He certainly looked it.
"Naruto," He began, as if on another tangent, "Did you ever wonder what it might feel like to be on the same team as two of the most successful ninja of your generation?"
"No?" Naruto wrinkled his nose. "Why would I do that?"
Sasuke narrowed his eyes, pinching the bridge of his nose. "It was hypothetical, moron."
"Oh." He paused. "Well still, no. I guess I'd be kind of bummed? Maybe a little jealous. It depends on who, though. If it was Jiraiya, I'd be mad as fuck. Could you imagine being on that guy's team? I love him, don't get me wrong, may he rest in peace and all that—but man, I travelled with him y'know? Not an experience I want to repeat—
"No, Naruto." The Uchiha interrupted, annoyed. "Not anyone in particular. Just—imagine you're the one of three who isn't famous, or infamous for that matter; how would you feel?"
"Left out, I guess." Naruto pondered, thoughtful. "And… and useless. I'd hate it. I'd hate knowing I was the weakest."
Sasuke looked smug for some reason.
Naruto scowled at him, cross. "Why does it even matter, bastard—
Then he sat upright, almost startling his horse.
"But wait, what?" He sputtered, and then, lowering his voice, "Sakura's not like that! She's not weak at all! She's the best medic of our generation—actually, considering how old Tsunade-baachan is, probably the best medic period."
He waved his arms around, wildly. "Not to mention—who the hell would want to be us?"
Sasuke's left eyebrow twitched.
"I mean, look at us!" Naruto continued on, hysterical. "We're terrible human beings! I'm like… shit, I'm probably the dumbest person I know! And you, well hell, you ran away to join the homo brigade with Orochimaru—
"I did not." Sasuke cut in hotly. "And there's nothing wrong with being homosexual, you dumbass—
"When you're gay for Orochimaru?" Naruto spoke over him, voice rising. "Yes there is! There is something very, very wrong with that! And not to mention all the other dumb shit you did—not to mention all the other dumb shit I did. Sakura's like, the only one of us who actually has her shit together."
Sasuke had to agree on that. While he and Naruto were out being ridiculous—and okay, also becoming the two most powerful ninja in the world—Sakura was actually getting her life together. Hell, Sakura probably knew how to file an I-9. She probably knew the last four digits of her social security number—she probably knew her blood type and all the stuff she was allergic to. She also probably knew where the condiments section was in the grocery store, how to pay her taxes. Sasuke, as he had found out when he arrived home, knew none of that. And as it were, neither did Naruto, who did not have the excuse of being gone for more than half a decade, but was still equally as inept at life as he was.
"We're failures of the human race." Sasuke nodded, only somewhat sarcastic.
"My point exactly!" Naruto agreed. "And how can she think she's weak? Like, three missions ago she accidentally punched me in the face and broke part of my jaw, my nose, possibly my collarbone, and also threw me straight threw a boulder! On accident!"
"Can I mention the time she broke my back?" Sasuke replied, sardonic. "Which one of those do you think hurt more?"
"Mine!" Naruto retorted, mutinous. "Anyway, you probably deserved it, fucking gallivanting off with Akatsuki or whatever."
He shrugged. Fair enough.
"You're sort of missing my point, Naruto." He noted, deadpan.
"This is probably some warped psychological issue that's been around for ages. We live in a society that despises weakness and praises the strong. In her eyes, being pregnant is a weakness. Which it is."
"But only temporarily!" Naruto replied. "And she knows that!"
Sasuke nodded. "Logically, yes. But something tells me this wasn't a rational reaction."
Naruto sighed, pouting. He eyed their teammate some ways ahead.
"I guess you're right." He conceded, though it physically pained him to say it. "I just don't get why she still thinks she needs to prove something." He said, in a small voice.
Sasuke sighed. "Well, people rarely see the best of themselves."
Naruto smiled slightly, tossing the dark-haired boy an amused glance. "Those mandatory therapy sessions are paying off, aren't they?"
"Fuck off." Sasuke rolled his eyes, and turned his horse in the other direction. Naruto snorted. Of course the Uchiha already had a handle on riding them.
Naruto laughed at his back. "Yeah—you'll practically have a PhD by the end of it, won't you?"
"Who's getting a PhD?"
Naruto whirled around, to see that Sakura had slowed her pace until she was level with him, shooting him a curious smile.
"Sasuke." He answered immediately. "He's turning on a new leaf, haven't you heard? He's gonna be a psychiatrist. He wants to sit around and diagnose people's mental problems all day."
They both watched with blatant amusement as Sasuke's shoulders tensed, even though the boy refused to rise to the bait.
"Is that so?" Sakura raised a brow. "I don't think Sasuke's in any position to be diagnosing other people's mental problems."
"At least without diagnosing his own, right?" Naruto returned, smirking.
"You can both burn in hell." The Uchiha interrupted, even as he plowed his way to the front of the group, drawing many curious glances.
"Please," Naruto crowed, "I'd take you down with me!"
In response, he threw up the middle finger.
Sakura shook her head. "You guys haven't changed at all—how is that possible?"
Naruto returned his attention to her, grinning outrageously. "I dunno. Well, he's still a bastard—
"And you're still a dumbass." She noted.
"My point exactly!" Naruto agreed, brightening. And then, scratching his head. "Well, that and we were shucked into a room together the moment he got back—more like thrown in really. Everyone said to beat each other up now so that they didn't have to live through our crap anymore."
Sakura laughed. "Who said?"
"Well, mostly it was Kiba." Naruto admitted. "But everyone was in agreement!"
She shook her head in wonder, smiling softly. It warmed his heart to see it; it felt like ages since he'd seen Sakura smile like that. "And how was it?"
"Y'know, him coming back and stuff."
"A total cluster fuck." Naruto noted, bland. "It still is. That's sort of the reason why we're here—letting the council cool off and all that."
Sakura nodded. She'd suspected as much.
"But now we're all on a mission together!" Naruto grinned. "Isn't it great?"
"It is." She agreed, quiet. It was… really nice. Nostalgic, too. She didn't know how to handle this sudden influx in emotions. When had her life gotten so theatrical? If it wasn't baby drama, it was best friend drama. She shook her head. How the hell was 'saving the world drama' not on the top of that list? She really needed to sort out her priorities.
It's not like he was intentionally eavesdropping—it was incredibly hard not to give the trio your entire attention, not when they seemed to resonate a foreign energy, this palpable force that lingered in the air around them; even less so, considering how loud Naruto could be. For a warrior of stealth and shadow he was incredibly… not stealthy.
He'd mentioned that to Sakura in a brief moment when the two had found themselves traveling next to each other, and she barked out a sudden surprise of laughter.
"Yeah, well, y'see—there's different kinds of ninja, that's for sure." She smiled slightly. "The kind you're describing now is more like Sasuke; he's the archetypical shinobi. Very quiet, and observant." She shrugged, and then added, "Could probably kill you in his sleep in like fifty different ways." Like that wasn't mildly alarming.
"Meanwhile, there's also ninja like Naruto—although to be honest, Naruto is really one of a kind—he's not so great on the stealthy part, but he's a good fighter."
Legolas could attest to that. The battle of Helm's Deep was probably infinitely more terrifying from the opposition's view, what with vicious strikes of nature raining upon them, as if the gods themselves had opened up the sky. He wondered fervently what kind of ninja Sakura was. Did she know fifty ways to kill him in her sleep? Probably. Could she open the sky like that? Even though this was the longest stretch of time he'd spent with her, it seemed as if he still knew nothing at all of her. He knew she could mend organs in the blink of an eye—that Aragorn had arrived for battle with more spirit than he'd seen of his friend in a long time, even though he'd fallen off a cliff and dragged himself not but a few scant hours prior, all because Sakura had healed him.
"He is," Legolas agreed, after some time. "But perhaps it is his valor which makes him so great a character."
Sakura looked at him, her mouth pursed thoughtfully. "Yeah, I guess you're right." She noted. "That is what sets him apart." And Legolas didn't even know the half of it.
The forest around them was cloying and dark; whatever light could find its way between the branches speckled the ground in soft, drifting patterns. Shifting light caught against the side of Sakura's face, illuminating the bright sea glass of her eyes.
He wanted to know what it was like, what she was like.
They both turned around to see Naruto shooting off his horse, brandishing at least three swords Legolas hadn't even seen on his person.
"What the hell is that?"
"Talking trees." Sasuke noted from some ways behind her, sounding resigned. "I should have known."
"Yeah, welcome to Middle Earth." Sakura threw a smirk over her shoulder—which was really quite vindictive of her, considering she was under the same impression the first time she'd seen them.
The large tree inclined its head slightly. "Excuse me." It bellowed, before it drew one large trunk leg over the fellowship and crossed above them.
Naruto watched with stilted disbelief as it carried on through the forest.
"What do you think that means?" Aragorn wondered aloud, narrowing his eyes pensively at the distant form of the walking tree.
"The ents are awake." Legolas noted. "All of them."
Gandalf rubbed his beard. "This has not happened for a great many years. Perhaps all in Isengard is not lost."
It wasn't lost.
It was absolutely flooded.
And two incredibly triumphant looking Hobbits lounged against one of the mostly submerged walls, smoking pipes.
"You young rascals!" Gimli hollered. "A merry hunt you've led us on, and now we find you feasting and smoking!"
Pippin grinned, spread his arms wide and said around a mouthful of tobacco, "We are sitting on a field of victory, enjoying a few well-earned comforts." He held up some meat in his hand. "The salted pork is very good!"
Gimli perked up at that. "Salted pork?"
Gandalf shook his head, fondly. "Hobbits."
The elf turned, to see a familiar mop of blonde hair, tanned arms clasped behind his head.
"Naruto." He inclined his head, looking exhausted. "I suppose you were already aware as well, then?"
"Nah." Naruto shook his head. "She didn't even tell me either. Neji did." And then, after a beat. "She's kind of a… personal kind of girl, I guess. There's a lot to her that she doesn't like to say to other people."
"I was under the impression I was a little more than simply another passing person." The elf reasoned, bitterly, turning back to the darkened sky.
"You are." Naruto attempted to placate him. Oh geez. Why was he putting himself in this awkward situation? Talking to his best friend's baby daddy?
It only took one look at Legolas' heart broken, hurt face to remember why. Sakura was kind of being a bitch about this whole pregnancy thing, though granted, it was her right to do so and if she wanted to, and there was little anyone could do to stop her. She most certainly should have told Tsunade and Naruto thought the best option would have been to have travelled to Rivendell and explained the situation to Gandalf there, inform Legolas, and then politely decline the invitation to join the Fellowship.
Though her stubbornness had always gotten in the way of everything.
"She just." Naruto paused, looking to the sky. "It's kind of complicated, you know? When we were younger, things weren't always exactly fair. You see, Sakura was always used to being put against people a lot stronger than her. Even though, as I'm sure you've noticed, Sakura's pretty fuckin' strong, but I mean, boys are stronger than girls. It's natural. And me and Sasuke, had all sorts of things going for us. It was almost in our blood to be ninja, I guess. Our families were all ninja, we had ninja abilities passed on through blood… and Sakura… didn't have any of that."
Naruto gave a little laugh. "But she was determined. To be… just as good as us, I guess. And a lot of the time it was us protecting her, and I think that now she's got this crazy complex where she'd prefer to be anything but weak—to do anything but rely on someone. And in her mind, being pregnant is a weakness. I mean, well it kind of is, but not like that. It's circumstantial—but she doesn't get that. To her, there's only one kind of weak and that's when she's dependent on someone else."
The blonde ninja found himself with an enraptured audience at the end of his ramble.
"So yeah." He ended, awkwardly. "It really has nothing to do with you. It's just her weird way of trying to be independent."
Legolas' expression was nothing but stone, but there was a dawning understanding taking over the hurt that had been there before. "And it's common?" He questioned. "For pregnant women to continue to fight?"
"Well, it's not exactly common," Naruto stressed. "But it's been done before. Typically by stubborn women, like Sakura. Though, if it's any consolation, there are a lot of Kunoichi techniques that aid women when this kind of stuff happens. So she's a little more protected than you think."
Legolas turned to him.
"Not that she's going anywhere!" Naruto backtracked hastily. "I think we've managed to talk her into sitting this one out and just getting a lot of rest. I mean, I know you're angry—
"Not angry." Legolas shook his head. "Worried. I will admit I was hurt that she hadn't informed me of this sooner—
Naruto opened his mouth, but the elf waved him off.
"But I know that there are more circumstances than I am aware of."
The blonde nodded slowly. "Uh, yeah. I think she's… still awake. If, you know, you guys wanna talk it out or something."
He smiled slightly. "Yes—a wise idea."
Sakura was awake.
She was also absolutely livid.
She threw Pippin onto the ground, and the Hobbit whimpered, looking up at her as if he'd never seen her—or rather, looking at her in an entirely new light. Legolas was too, actually. He'd never seen her show such… visceral emotion. Even when hunting orcs or slaying dragons, she'd never given away her thoughts one way or the other. But her fury was now a tangible presence in the air, rolling off her in waves.
Her dark-haired companion was leaning against the wall, his strange sword in one hand, and a clothed orb in the other.
She looked up as Legolas entered.
"Found him trying to grab that magic eight ball out of Gandalf's hands."
He blinked. "Magic eight ball?"
She made a noise of frustration. "Mystic ball, whatever it is."
"I—I'm sorry!" Pippin yelped.
She looked down at him, cross. "You're lucky I stopped you! Gandalf warned us not to touch it!"
"That I did." Agreed the old wizard, solemn. "It is fortunate we have such observant friends to keep astute watch, no?"
Sakura didn't appear all that mollified. She did, however, stop brandishing her sword as well. Her lips pursed themselves into a frown, before she let out a breath.
Naruto entered the room. "What's with all the killing intent?"
The room looked at him oddly, aside from Sasuke, who appeared to not be listening at all, and Sakura, who sighed. All at once, the frightening atmosphere convulsed upon itself, and dissipated as quickly as it had come.
"Sorry." Sakura muttered, running a wary hand through her hair. She scowled when she realized it had gotten far too long—long enough to snare itself into a giant tangle.
She turned to Legolas. "Were you looking for me?"
"I was." He replied, slow. The atmosphere in the room went from terrifying to uncomfortable in the space of a second, though it had nothing to do with chakra this time. Naruto was pointedly looking in the other direction; Aragorn had once more feigned sleep, Gandalf coughed politely. Sasuke looked unmoved.
Merry looked around, confused. "What?"
But Sakura didn't give Legolas a chance to respond, forcibly tugging him out of the room before the entire Fellowship learned of their previous affairs. Aragorn and Gandalf, fine. But she could live without the hobbits ever knowing. The evening was cool and damp, a fine mist wandering around the feet of Edoras.
She dropped his hand, taking a few more steps forward, until she could see the city sprawling below.
She took a breath.
No world-ending battle in the forseeable future, no hobbits in need of rescuing—nothing was stopping them from having this conversation. Aside from her nerves, anyway, that threatened to overwhelm her in a wave of violent sickness. Hell. She hadn't gotten sick once during her entire pregnancy, she sure as hell didn't want to now.
"Are you feeling well?" His hand brushed against the side of her arm, exposed to the night air.
Her mouth twisted, and she found herself rooted in place. "I'm fine." She protested weakly. Why was everyone asking her that today?
"Shouldn't I be asking you that?" She countered, turning around a bit. Oh. He was… really, really close. She had to look up a bit to catch his gaze. There was a thin cut traveling across his left cheek, but other than that she couldn't see any injuries.
She smiled slightly at that. Trust Legolas to get out of a battle like that almost entirely unscathed—he could be a ninja if he had chakra.
"No grievous injuries to report." He returned her smile with a winsome grin.
Ugh. Must he be so beautiful, at all hours of the day?
The smile drifted away as he lifted a hand to her face. "You're paler than usual." He noted, concern a frisson in his voice. "Have you eaten today?"
She wanted to roll her eyes. "Yes." She said instead, exasperation clear. "I'm fine."
His eyes searched hers. "But, you will tell me if you're not?"
"Sure." She smiled wanly. "I think I should know for myself, though. I am a medic, if you'll recall."
"And a very good one," He agreed. "However, you must understand how remiss it was of you to come here in the first place—being a medic of such esteem." He added, perhaps a bit of bite to his tone.
She scowled, irritated. She knew what she was getting into, alright? Perhaps it was not the best of decisions, but it wasn't as if she'd made it with her eyes closed. She knew it would be hazardous to her health, and she that it would be strenuous. Sure, she hadn't realized it would take this goddamn long but she was indubitably aware that missions never went how they were planned, this being no exception.
She just hadn't cared.
Sakura searched his face.
She still didn't know if she cared, either.
A vast part of her wanted to forget all of this even happened. Perhaps she'd stay in Middle Earth until after the birth—her nose scrunched at that. She didn't want to know what archaic childbirth she'd have to go through if she did though—and then leave the child with Legolas. She could return home, to her comforts and all that she loved. It'd be so easy.
He drew her closer, and she let him.
He nosed against her hair, closing his eyes when he inhaled. It smelt like… nothing he'd ever smelled before. He wondered how she managed to keep it so clean and scented—undoubtedly by one of her strange marvels she'd brought with her from her home. She was truly a woman unlike any he'd ever met before, elf, human, or dwarf even. Everything from her light scent, to her clothes, to her way of speaking; he'd never encountered anything like it before.
His hands trailed down her sides, and he felt her soft exhale against him. His fingers flittered across the foreign material of her shirt—smooth like silk but strong and thick like cotton—tracing across the many pouches and scrolls around her hips. The skin beneath was smooth and warm to the touch, soft and flat—
He pulled back a bit, blinking. "How far along are you?"
She looked up, pursing her lips thoughtfully. "Four months?" She hedged. Honestly, she hadn't been keeping track all that well. Hell, it felt like an eternity.
He looked down at her incredulously. "Where are you keeping it?" He asked, perplexed. "Your kidneys?"
She barked out a laugh, almost choking. "No, of course not!" With a wave of her hand she dispelled the Genjutsu.
She wasn't sure how to feel with his blatant staring, so she looked down herself. She'd never actually seen herself without the Genjutsu on—and, huh, she wasn't actually showing all that much. She figured she wouldn't, anyway. With a tight shirt, however, it was clear to see that she was, indeed, pregnant.
He stepped forward, almost hesitantly, as if he thought she might run away, or punch him in the face. Neither option was all that appealing.
She didn't, though, simply watched him expressionlessly. His knuckle brushed against the warm skin of her stomach, and he found his breath hitching. They had a baby, he thought, with no small amount of hysteria. There was a baby in there.
Sakura didn't move as he drew his palm to the almost imperceptible bump, just a swell, really, nothing like what he'd expected. It reminded her of all the times they'd unintentionally had a lot of baby and daddy bonding moments. She shrugged. It was fair to give them one in which one of them was actually aware it was going on.
She couldn't read the expression in his face—too many passing through his features for her to accurately discern. He leaned down, though, and that she knew how to read.
She opened her mouth against his, warm all the way down to her toes when his hand smoothed across her stomach to settle against her hips, thumbing lightly there.
"Am I interrupting something?" Came a dry, unaffected voice.
Sakura leapt back with a heave of breath. "Neji holy fuck." She cursed, scowling. Surprised, and also not surprised at all to see him standing there with a deadpan expression. "Wear a fucking bell, jesus…"
Legolas' hand tightened against her, protectively. He narrowed his eyes at the strange man with unnerving, opalescent eyes, and then turned to Sakura. "Do you know this man?"
"Unfortunately." She replied, still scowling. She would have sensed him coming up, though. So how the hell did he…
And then, rounding on her fellow ninja, "You were totally Henge'd as a bird, weren't you?" And then, smirking. "TenTen was right, you really are a total garden pervert—
"In other news—" Neji cut her off with a narrowed look. " I didn't come here to debate the merits of your sex life."
Legolas looked somewhat appalled he said it out loud. Sakura was annoyed he made it sound like he think she didn't even have one.
She raised a brow.
"Sauron plans to attack Minas Tirith." The Hyuuga said, without preamble.
Sakura's mouth dropped. The hand holding her tightened.
"He's sending his legions to do it. I don't know how much time we have—but he has seen the power of men when combined beneath one banner, and he plans to destroy the city before its king can unite them."
"Also," He added, sardonic, "He does not yet know of chakra, nor do I think he can sense it, as I have had no trouble spying on him, but do remind your dramatic comrades that ninja are, first and foremost, clandestine operatives? I'd prefer to keep him in the dark."
"I'll relay the message." She sighed. Inwardly, she made a mental note to check the skies and surrounding area for strange birds. Neji, contrary to the popular belief of Konoha at large, was not actually big brother. He just, unfortunately, had the tendency to make a lot of Bunshin and Henge them into birds.
"Is that all?" She added.
Neji nodded, procuring a scroll from his pocket. "These are my reports on Sauron's movements." He explained. "Give them to your comrades. I have expanded upon his plans more in there."
"Yep, will do." She pocketed the scroll, and then, with way more delight than necessary, grabbed a shuriken and struck it through his head. Legolas choked next to her.
The Bunshin looked to her, bland, before it disappeared in smoke.
"Sakura!" He admonished. "I thought you said—
"It's…" She waved her hand, trying to remember how she explained it before. "A shadow. That wasn't actually him."
The elf looked pensive.
"It doesn't actually hurt him." She added. "It'll just piss him off."
He looked as if he wanted to ask more, staring curiously at the plume of smoke drifting off with the wind. He didn't, though. Instead, he shook his head. "If what he says is true, this is grave indeed." He sighed. "We must give this to Gandalf at once."