notes: This… is probably more lighthearted than it would have been if I were being my realistic, sort-of-cynical self. But it's Christmas, so I figured, why not? :)
we've never felt so alive before.
"We should probably get married."
It was delivered so casually, so lightly, so flippantly, he could have just been talking about the weather—snow was falling outside.
Sakura blinked, "I'm sorry, what did you say?"
"We should probably get married," Sasuke repeated, still apathetic. He pushed his glasses up the bridge of his nose—a prescription from his last eye operation, with the promise that his sight would eventually get better—and leaned back on his chair to scrutinize her.
"Whenever," he shrugged.
"Hmm," she opened the cookie jar, revealing chocolate-coated cookies with mint filling, a gift he bought for her on his last mission to Iwagakure. Making a mental note to shop for groceries soon—they couldn't live on cookies for breakfast forever—she offered him some. When he shook his head, her eyebrows arched. "What was your last mission?" she wanted to know.
"Assassination of a rogue-nin," he replied, running his fingers through his unruly dark hair suspiciously, "Why?"
"Just checking," Sakura said, still confused. That had nothing to do with marriage, so the only reason why he suddenly brought it up… he must have spent quite a bit of time thinking about it. "So why now?"
Actually, why ever? When he asked her out a little over two years ago (in the middle of a mission when she was healing him, briskly, only the way Uchiha Sasuke would know how to), having returned about six years ago, she immediately knew that he wasn't the marrying type. She didn't expect him to be. A lot of ninjas didn't marry nowadays and only lived together with their partners, even with children and all. That kind of union was neither rare nor frowned upon in their world. She wouldn't have minded marriage, but she had long stopped dreaming about it.
"Whenever," Sasuke repeated.
"Tomorrow?" she asked.
He paused, considered, as she wrapped his gray flannel blanket around her shoulders, tapping on her chin pensively. Underneath the blanket she was wearing his pajamas, the one with the Uchiha symbol sewn on the back of it. His gaze then fell on the calendar on his desk.
"Tomorrow is Christmas day."
"I know," she said, "It'll be more convenient."
It was his turn to raise his eyebrows, "How so?"
Her lips curved into a playful smile and her emerald eyes lit up brilliantly, and Sasuke, unwittingly quick to remember how rarely she really smiled nowadays, subconsciously catalogued it in his head for future reference. This was the kind of smile that brightened her whole face, the kind of smile that made his heart leap and do that embarrassing pounding thing, the kind of smile that on his bad days, he would recall, and he'd magically feel better all of a sudden.
He cherished those smiles.
"For one, that means the date should be easy for you to remember, since it's Christmas day and all," Sakura started to explain, her eyes glittering radiantly as her lips curled mischievously, "and you only have to give me one gift in one year, so it's more economically beneficial like that. Secondly, everyone will be busy doing something else tomorrow, so there's a bigger chance we can do this without a hitch. Thirdly… you haven't noticed this, I'm sure, but most of our significant moments happened close to this date, anyway."
Sasuke was starting to see where she was coming from, although he secretly wouldn't mind giving her more than one gift a year. About one every other day would be just perfect, now that he was thinking about it.
He raised his eyebrows at her questioningly, and her full pink lips curved summarily, "Well, why not?"
Rain ninjas are annoying, Sakura reflected as she gathered chakra on her fist, throwing punch by punch to whoever came her way. The snow was falling, she was cranky as hell, and she just wanted to go home. It didn't help that their ninjutsu involved water—lots and lots of water—and she was wet.
Scratch that. She was drenched to the bone, and she was not happy.
"Take that!" she screamed, delivering a well-aimed kick to the crotch of the man hurling at her, "You think you can defeat me, huh? Me? In your dreams! Not after you stole so much from the poor and used the money for your own benefit! Asshole!"
About ten feet away from her, Sasuke was battling the leader of the pack, a double-bladed kunai on one hand and a crackling ball of lightning—Chidori—on the other. The wheels in his Sharingan eyes spinning as an arrogant smirk curved his lips. The rain-nin was quick, his speed probably unrivaled in his village, but he was no match for the Uchiha.
Gracefully he sunk into a battle stance, and Sakura watched as the rain-nin screamed, high-pitched and shrill and sharp, until he quivered for the last time and then was no more.
Making sure there was no enemy in the vicinity, she leapt to the branch Sasuke was standing on, victorious, and reached out for him, her fingers engulfed in healing chakra. He didn't pull away.
"Naruto should be back soon," she told him, smiling as she deftly applied light pressure to his fractured arm, "Good work."
"You're the only girl I can stand."
Her eyebrows rose, and she blinked, "Um, yeah, but I'm also the only girl you talk to, Sasuke-kun."
He ignored that. "Are you free tomorrow afternoon?"
Sakura moved to the gash on his right thigh, her brows furrowing as she frowned at it, quickly producing her medical kit. Skillfully she ran a tentative, careful finger on his skin, trailing the outline of the cut to measure its depth. She worked on it for a few minutes before she realized he was still waiting for her answer.
"If nothing goes wrong today, then yes."
"Good," he relaxed, easing into her soothing touch, "I'll pick you up at six for dinner."
The pink-haired medic's hand stilled on his thigh, and she lifted her gaze to meet his as she demanded, voice soft, "Are you asking me out?"
He didn't see any reason to deny, so he said, "Yes."
A mystified look settled on her face. She looked adorably confused, and he wondered how many of those he'd missed during the time he was away and, not without an unfamiliar pang in his chest, how many of those Naruto witnessed.
"You couldn't have picked a better time?" she asked after a while, gesturing to the bloodied corpses below the branch they were resting on.
"What time is better than now?" he retorted, and his mind, there wasn't any. Today they were triumphant, complete, alive. They might not be so tomorrow. Now was a better time as any.
"Figures," she shrugged, and then asked again, "Are we going to Ichiraku's?"
He scoffed. "No." As if his standards were that low—not for a first date.
"Well, alright then," at his answer, she smiled, "But my shift ends at six, so pick me up at seven."
A cocky smirk curved his lips, but she didn't miss the veiled relief in his voice as he said, "I'll make reservations."
Sakura was completing paperwork for the red-haired Genin she operated on earlier when he suddenly came barging into the room. Their eyes met, and she tilted her head, frowning, "Did we promise to have lunch together?"
The look in his eyes was accusing as he ignored her question, "You didn't exactly say yes."
Emerald eyes glittered amusedly. "You didn't exactly ask the question," smirking, she countered, "Plus, you didn't exactly have a ring."
Sasuke stalked forward from the door, crossing the space between them in less than a second, and shoved his hand into his pocket, retrieving a small velvet box and unceremoniously opening it. Sakura's expression softened but he could see that she was fighting to keep her mirth at bay.
"Well," the pink-haired medic observed the band mildly, the glow of the diamond almost casting a soft, translucent circular rainbow under the sunlight trickling through the window, "This certainly takes the element of surprise away."
He reached for her hand and raised it between the two of them, and her eyes sparkled more brightly, more radiantly, than he had ever seen them before.
"May I?" he asked, totally forgoing the whole love spectrum of their relationship. It was always unspoken between them anyway, the whole I love you, you love me, let's get married thing. She didn't seem to mind, so he didn't, too.
"Okay," she nodded.
"Okay," she repeated softly, "Okay, I'll marry you."
Sasuke slid the ring onto her finger and lifted her hand to his lips, brushing a tender, featherlight kiss on her pale skin, obsidian eyes holding her sparkling emerald ones. To his great amusement she blushed, tinges of pink blossoming on her cheeks. She fought hard to keep her pleasure hidden, but failed, and ended up reddening even more instead.
Quietly, a deep, low chuckle escaped his throat, and he slipped an arm around her waist, pulling her into an awkward embrace as she linked her arms behind his neck, the band of the ring pressing onto the back of his shoulder, making a cool sensation that sent not quite unwelcome tingles down his spine.
She pulled away a few moments later—he missed the warmth almost immediately—and said, "We should tell my parents."
He nodded, and the rest of the day passed without a hitch.
They had been dating for one year when Sasuke came into her house one night, when she was recovering from her thirty-eight-hour shift at the hospital, and delivered his ultimatum.
"I want you to move in with me."
Sakura lifted her head from her couch with sheer willpower and sweep a glance around her living room at his distaste. Her house was a wreck, a result from the constant absence of its owner, and her bed was covered in medical scrolls. She hadn't had a day off in about a month, let alone clean or have an argument with him.
She was so, so tired.
"Okay," she said sleepily, eyes closing, "Okay."
When she woke up the next morning, she was lying on his bed, wrapped in his white, fresh sheets, and her legs were around his waist as he snored softly. He'd moved her without her waking up. A feat.
Slowly untangling herself from him, she slid out of the blanket and lowered her feet to the ground, expecting cold wooden surface. Instead she found her expensive rug, the one she bought from Kumogakure especially so she wouldn't have to immediately touch the cold floor when she woke up.
Sakura blinked, with trained eyes looking around the room, and then almost fainted. All of her things were there in Sasuke's room. All of it. Her medical scrolls, her books, her clothes, her frying pans, her closet, her bed, her fridge… Even the large stuffed pink elephant Naruto won for her at a festival sat in the corner of the room, except now a kunai stabbed its shoulder and a shuriken where there used to be an eye.
"What the hell," she whispered. "What the hell…"
And then she pounced and delivered a spinning kick to Sasuke's sleeping body, sending him rolling off the bed with a string of curses under his breath. A few years ago this wouldn't be possible as he would still be alert even as he slept, but now he trusted her to let his guard down—a verdict that pleased her very, very much, since it proved to be useful in situations like this.
"Now would be the perfect time to explain why," she began, tapping her foot impatiently as he straightened up, "all of my things are here."
Sasuke scowled at her. "You said you wanted to move in with me."
"Oh no, don't turn this on me," she pointed an accusing finger, "No, no. You wanted me to move in with you, and I said okay. But did I say yes to moving in overnight? The fridge and the bed and the sofa belong to my landlord! He'll be really pissed if he finds out you move his items without consent! And what the hell did you do with Mr. Fluffy?"
"The elephant Naruto gave me," she waved her hand impatiently. "Why did you stab it? What has it ever done to you?"
He sat on the bed and sighed, "Does it matter?"
"Yes! Naruto is going to be upset!"
"Good," he retorted childishly.
The pink-haired kunoichi sighed. "Sasuke-kun… you're an idiot," she muttered, massaging her head, "It's a good thing I love you so much."
He stiffened, "What?"
"What?" she blinked, and then scoffed. "Oh, seriously, if I had known those three little words would freeze you so easily, I'd have said it decades ago and you'll be back in Konoha before you… unfreeze."
Obsidian eyes darkened. He did not take lightly to being teased, even if it were Sakura. "You did say it."
"Did I?" Sakura wondered aloud. "I can't remember. When?"
"When… when I first left the village."
"Oh, that," she muttered, serious and contemplative all of a sudden, "I was twelve. I was young and stupid and I didn't know any better."
Sasuke looked at her, suddenly unsure. "And now?"
Her expression lightened. "You know, you're supposed to say it first."
He stiffened. He wasn't good at the whole confession thing, and he knew she never expected him to be. For her to bring it up now…
"But I know you, so never mind," she shrugged, "Now move."
Sasuke raised his eyebrows. "Move?"
"Move. It's three AM and I need my sleep."
"And what about your fridge?"
"To hell with it," she yawned, rubbing her eyes sleepily, "We'll deal with it tomorrow."
He quickly rolled over to give her some space, "Okay."
"By dealing with it," she added, slipping into the sheets and snuggling to his chest, "I mean you're going to drag it back before my landlord wakes up. Alone."
Their relationship had not been perfect. Far from it.
When he returned to Konoha, battered and bruised and on the brink of death, she spent three restless days injecting chakra into his dying body, forgoing sleep and consuming the littlest of nutrition to keep working. A one-year probation from the Hokage, along with a specific number of missions he had no say in, and in a little over one and a half year, he was a free man.
Free in all but heart. His dreams were haunted, and he couldn't forget.
But she was there, and Naruto was there, and he was there, and he proved his future, his present, to be stronger than his wayward past.
Love, especially, did not come easily for him. He thought himself of incapable of romance, and his newfound and sudden desire for her scared him more than facing a hundred of ninjas.
He thought he didn't know how to love, but it turned out he'd only forgotten.
Sasuke was capable of being sweet. Ish.
"You bought me socks."
He looked triumphant. "Wrong."
Sakura angled her head in confusion. "You knitted me socks?"
His eyebrows dipped and he frowned.
She laughed, losing herself in the notion of Uchiha Sasuke sitting on a rocking chair, knitting.
"Sock," the shinobi finally said, "I gave you a sock. Just the one."
Gingerly, the pink-haired medic unwrapped the gift to see if he was being honest, revealing a single sock, made of expensive wool—dark navy blue with lighter cyan stripes, the Uchiha crest on the mouth, small and almost unnoticeable but there alright. She raised a questioning gaze at him.
But he was impassive. "You sleep weird," he informed her after a moment of silence, "One foot out of the blanket and one under. It's weird."
"So you got me a sock," she deadpanned, "for my one foot that's usually out of the blanket?"
He shrugged. "You also sneeze."
Frowning, she admitted, "I can't remember."
"You were asleep."
"Yeah, and so were you," Sakura countered. "How did you know this anyway?"
Sasuke looked at her for three seconds before he spoke, voice restrained and almost uncomfortable, "That doesn't matter."
"Okay," she relented, running a hand over the fabric, and then a bright smile lit up her whole face. "Well, I like it. Thank you."
She tucked the sock in the paper bag and put it away, about to return to her work, when he suddenly cleared his throat and said, his voice so low it was almost a whisper, "Merry Christmas."
Surprised, she turned her head to look at him, unsure that she'd heard him right. Sasuke was shuffling between his feet, refusing to look at her.
Emerald eyes softened. "Merry Christmas."
On Christmas morning, they woke up, got dressed, and promptly made their way to the council to get listed. The process had taken less than thirty minutes, and soon they walked out of the Hokage's building, side by side but not touching.
All in all, this was very anticlimactic, she thought. No one even knew they were married!
But it wasn't like she expected more.
"Do you want to have breakfast?" Sasuke asked, when they passed Ichiraku. It was eight in the morning and the ramen bar was still empty save for Old Man Teuchi and three civilians.
She poked him playfully. "Our first meal as a married couple, in a ramen bar?" she teased, "I thought Uchihas have high standards."
"You're an Uchiha too now," he reminded her calmly.
She fell silent at that. He was right.
"Uchiha Sakura," she tested appraisingly, "Uchiha Sakura. Uchiha Sakura. What do you think?"
His lips curved into a genuine smile, the first one she'd seen in a long, long time. "Uchiha Sakura," he repeated her, "sounds fine."
She returned his smile as she cocked her hips to the side, "Well, now that we're married, the least you could do for me is take me out somewhere more expensive, like… like—hachoo!"
He sighed as she sneezed, pulling her against his side. Silently, he secured his scarf around her neck, and then abruptly walked away when he suddenly realized what he was doing, right in the middle of the screen where anyone could see them.
Laughing, she pounced on him and latched on his back, pressing a soft, light kiss on the back of his neck.
His brows were furrowed and he was grumbling, but his hand found hers and he tucked it into the pocket of his coat, sliding his arm around her waist. She stayed pressed close to him as they walked to his home.
No, she corrected herself, our home. It's our home.
And suddenly it didn't matter if he was so bad at romance that he couldn't even so much look her way when there was someone else, because she didn't need anyone to tell her she was pretty or cute or anything else. It didn't matter if he was so terrible at courtship that he was so straightforward, even occasionally brusque, because that way, she knew he was always honest with her.
It didn't matter that he never told her he loved her, because the little things he did for her said everything, and that was all the proof she needed.
notes: Nyaaaah. I know it's not very Christmasy, but I hope it was enjoyable nonetheless. I haven't been feeling very Christmasy even though it's December 25th here where I live, so I suppose I'm not in the mood or something… Ahem.
Anyway, I sort of truly feel that this is how Sasuke and Sakura's love, if it ever gets there, is gonna be. No fireworks, no explosions, no bang or boom—just quiet, tender love, the kind that's exactly like snow. Falls without a sound, soft and when you crush it, it melts instead of dies… you know, that kind of thing.
Merry Christmas, and for those of you who don't celebrate it, happy holidays! 'Tis the season, so take care, have fun, and if you're in a snowy region… let me know if the snow is falling! :)