Disclaimer: Naruto is not mine. Plot elements borrow heavily from Amanda Quick's 'Seduction'.
Author's Notes: First A BIG GIANT THANK YOU TO ALL OF YOU WHO REVIEWED! I cannot say thank you enough. You truly are the best. Thank you for your patience and continuous support. I will try to reply to your questions in the next couple of days, apologies for the delay. I will try to update at an even faster pace after this.
This chapter is very close to my heart and I drew a lot from personal experience. So I really hope you enjoy it. No betas, all mistakes are mine.
IMPORTANT NOTE: I did some rewriting because I noticed in some early reviews, I don't think everyone got some part and I think that was my fault. So anyway. Please read again, hee.
It was in the prickle of his skin and the heaviness of his eyes; he knew she was near. Wakefulness washed over him like a cold douse of water and his eyes popped open as if he had not had a wink of sleep. Sasuke inclined his head to the side and watched her sitting on the window seat, with her back resting on the glass pane as she hugged her legs to her chest. Sakura was bathed in silver light making her light pink tresses look almost white. He dared not move a muscle, afraid that she would bolt at any provocation, misconstrued or not.
Her breathing was light, calm, and almost undetectable. She looked to the stars though her green eyes remained dull. The dimple between her eyebrows told him the story of her muddled thoughts.
It felt like an eternity had passed before she spoke. "I don't have a bed." She shut her lips abruptly as if second-guessing her words.
He remained mum, choosing to let her continue at her own pace.
She sighed deeply, fingers randomly picking at the fabric of her cotton shirt. "They gave away my mattress to charity after the wedding, which honestly doesn't seem entirely sanitary. Kakashi-sensei offered to rent out his bed to me for the night but then I thought of his many uses of that bed and I almost vomited." She paused once more, the left corner of her lips curving upwards. "Well, I actually did throw up on his bed. He's not very happy with me, or you for that matter. You might want to avoid him for the next couple of days."
He decided it would be unwise to ask how it was his fault she threw up on their sensei's bed. He cleared his throat, wordlessly asking for her permission to address her. She glanced at him swiftly before resuming staring at the stars.
"I can use the guestroom and you can sleep in here, if you'd like," he said, uncharacteristically bashful.
Sakura shook her head. "I should take the guestroom. This was your home first."
"I would rather share the bed with my wife," he answered softly. Sasuke couldn't control the fall of his tone as he said the word 'wife'. It felt as if steel wires were coiling around his heart as he waited for her assurance that she still considered herself that.
She simply nodded but made no move to leave her spot on the window seat. It could have been a second or it could have been an hour. To Sasuke, everything moved as if it was devoid of time. When she finally spoke she sounded as if she were coming from behind a glass wall; unreachable and untouchable to anyone.
"Ino once took me to see a play. I didn't really want to. I wasn't in the mood, it had only been a few weeks since," she paused to swallow the bitter taste in her mouth, "since my sister passed. Have I ever told you about my sister?"
She wasn't looking at him, so he whispered a small 'no' completely unsure if it had reached her ears. Nevertheless she continued. "I wasn't in any condition to be seeing any plays or interacting with anyone. I was very angry, with the world, with myself. But Ino can be very persistent. You should know. You've met her."
Sakura turned to look at him, her eyes glazed, looking as if she had been addled with drugs. He made an infinitesimal nod of his head though she didn't acknowledge if she'd noticed it or not. "It's about these people just living in this town and going through life. It was all very simple and I was quite bored most of the time, really. And then it got to the end and this girl, she dies during childbirth and she sort of joins all these other folks who'd also died in their town. They're supposed to be just waiting to move on to the next phase but she wanted to go back, she wanted to see her family again. They told her she could just relive one day, she can't change anything, she'd just have to go through every motion of that day the way she'd lived it. They warned her that it would be painful. But she was insistent and stubborn."
Sakura smiled wryly and licked her lips. The suffering creak of the wooden seat filled the room as she shifted her legs to rest her feet on the cold floor. Her hands gripped the sharp edge of the window seat so hard that her knuckles turned white. "So she went back just for one day. She woke up and she was so happy at first, excited that she'd get to see her family again. And she went to the kitchen and saw her mother but she was facing the stove. And all throughout the morning her mother would face something else or she'll be looking at something that she somehow found interesting in that time. And she just kept screaming in her head for her mother to face her…or for herself to look at her mother but they never looked at each other, not once. So she begged to be returned to the land of the dead."
And the glass wall that sheltered her broke. "I went home, locked myself inside my room and I just cried. I couldn't stop. I cried for hours, well into the morning." Her shoulders curled inwards and her face was hidden behind the curtain of her pink hair.
"I couldn't think of a single day…" Sasuke heard the stunted heave of her breath. She couldn't hide it in the bald silence of the night. "I couldn't think of one single day I could go back to so I could just stare at my mother's face, her lovely, lovely face forever. All I could see are my letters with my shallow and empty words of love and empty roads and even emptier mailboxes."
Sasuke had never moved so fast in his life. In a split second he was kneeling in front of her, his large hands cradling her petite face. "I'm sorry, I'm sorry," he muttered mindlessly.
Sakura closed her eyes and shook her head, her tears wetting the pads of his thumbs. "No, no, it's not your fault. I don't blame you, I have never blamed you."
"But it feels like I'm hurting you." The innocence of his words broke her heart.
"I've hurt myself."
He swallowed the lump in his throat. "If I could, I would trade my father in for your mother's life."
Sakura laughed despite it all. "No, you wouldn't."
"I seriously would."
She brought a hand up to touch his hand that still caressed her cheek. "Well, that's very sad."
"You've met him, it wouldn't be much of a loss."
She smiled forlornly. He could see it in her eyes; she had given up.
"No, Sakura, no," he cried, more forcefully than he had intended.
"Don't you see the problem here?"
"There is no problem we cannot face together," he said. He had never been more certain of anything in his life.
She rolled her eyes at his stubbornness. "I am not the strong-willed, stable woman you chose to marry."
Sasuke moved his hand down to her chin and urged her to look at him. "No, you are not. You are more than that."
"I am not good for you," she pleaded.
He smiled at her, an honest to goodness smile. "You're perfect to me."
Her eyes were stalwart and he knew that if she decided to leave, she would never turn back. All he could do was show her his heart. He lifted his head and touched his forehead to hers, obsidian eyes never blinking as he let everything out in the open. "If I die and they let me choose to go back to one day, I would go back to this day, this moment so I could look at you forever."
She choked on a sob and shut her eyes tightly. "Sasuke, please…"
He cut her off before she could say more. "I can't bring them back, I would if I could," he said hoarsely. "But if you'd let me, I'll do everything in my power to make this one moment worthy for you to come back to." He licked his dry lips and looked into the heavenly abyss of her green eyes. "Please let me."
"I want to try, I so very much want to try…"
"That's all I need."
His eyes never left hers as he leaned down to press a light kiss on her lips; hooded but still aware. Her green eyes remained alert, tracing every touch of his lips and stroke of his hand as if she were committing it to memory.
They watched each other as they slid down to the cold wooden floor, yet their skin remained warm to the touch. They watched each other between every kiss, every caress, and every lick until there was nothing but skin left between them. He felt the feminine curves of her body with his calloused hands, from the softness of her shoulders to the gentle rise of her breasts, the peak of her nipples, the concave of her slick stomach, the roundness of her derriere until he reached between them to her virgin core, his long fingers feeling her dripping and ready for him. His eyes wanted to linger, feast on the sight of her beautiful body but they never strayed, because he needed this connection as much as she did. Her curious hands did not remain idle, shyly stroking him in places he'd only ever dreamed she'd touched, alighting a fire in him he did not realize he could start.
He swallowed her sharp cry as he finally, finally entered her with a long deep kiss. He resisted his basic urges to just rut into her mindlessly and waited for her to be ready before starting the fire up again with short, slow strokes until he built up to a wilder, faster pace that would bring them both to completion.
And as her green eyes hid themselves behind the delicate skin of her eyelids as she came, he waited for her to come back to this moment, to this second when they were one and they could look at each other forever.
The harsh noon sunlight filtered through the drawn curtains and was persistent enough to wake Sasuke up from his pleasant slumber. He scrunched his nose up in irritation before finally giving in and opening his eyes. He was greeted with the sight of his wife, still apparently asleep and hiding her head underneath a pillow.
"I guess we made it to the bed," he said to himself with a smirk.
"Shut up, it's too early for you to be cocky," Sakura muttered suddenly.
Sasuke snickered before he slithered his head underneath the pillow and kissed her on the cheek.
"Get your own pillow to hide under," she said sleepily.
"You're really cranky in the morning, aren't you?" he stated.
One eye popped open and glared at him. "Don't you have work to do?"
He shrugged lazily. "I could just call in sick." A lascivious smile graced his lips. "We could stay naked in bed and make love all day."
"I never knew you to malinger."
"I never had anyone I wanted to malinger with," he drawled teasingly.
She furrowed her eyebrows. "Is that supposed to flatter me?
He grinned mischievously. "No, it's supposed to make you horny and want to jump me."
Sakura slapped his arm before throwing the pillow off their heads. She sat up against the headboard, taking the blanket with her and fitting it under her arms to cover her nudity. "Sasuke, about last night… it doesn't solve everything."
"I know," he said solemnly. He sat up beside her, not caring that he was as exposed as the day he was born. He must've been a nudist in a past life. "But it's a start, right?"
She thought she was ready to walk away, to divorce him and never turn back. She didn't know how or when it happened but she could never leave this man. "It's a start."
Sasuke smiled and nodded, content with her small promise. He traced circular shapes on the ball of her shoulder before leaning down to playfully bite it. "What do you want to do today, now that were malingering?" he whispered into her skin.
"I actually wanted to go to the cemetery this afternoon," she said slowly.
He paused all movement and waited for her…waited for the start they needed.
"I was hoping you could come with me."
He looked up to her, eyes alit with bliss and answered, "I'd be glad to."
Sasuke twisted towards the nightstand and lifted the clock sitting there. "So we're going to need an hour to get ready, fifteen minutes travel time and that leaves us thirty minutes."
"Thirty minutes for what?" she asked.
He threw the clock towards a corner of the room, not caring where it landed. "This," he muttered before kissing her deeply leaving her no doubt on what he intended to do for the next half hour.
Sakura squealed girlishly as he pushed her down the mattress. Sasuke got under the covers with her and threw it over their heads. She giggled as he leaned down to nuzzle his head in the crook of her neck before kissing the hollow of her throat. He could feel her body beneath him, quaking with want…for him. He had never been so turned on in his life.
"Please, madam! We were given specific orders that you were not allowed within the premises!"
"What the hell?" he exhaled irritably at hearing the commotion downstairs.
"I don't care about your orders, I need to speak to Sakura-chan!"
Sasuke's ears reddened with annoyance. "Oh, that does it."
He sloppily threw the covers away before scrambling down the side of the bed. He grabbed his black boxers from the floor and almost pulled a muscle in his haste to put it on.
Sakura stared blankly at him as he moved around like a chicken with his head cut off. "What are you doing?"
"That woman will not leave us alone until someone makes her," he declared with certainty.
"Are you planning on hurting her?" she asked, sounding perturbed.
"Of course not, I'm planning to outwit her."
He glared at his wife. "Whose side are you on?"
He gurgled childishly. "Just you wait here."
"Sasuke, wait, let me…" But he had flown out the door before she could finish her sentence.
Sasuke made his way down the stairs and towards the foyer where his maid Yuri was engaged with a screaming match with the redheaded she-devil. As soon as Karin sensed his entrance she turned her sights on him.
"Dear god, put some clothes on you pale hairless freak."
He ignored her insult. He happened to know that Sakura loved his pale hairlessness. "You. What are you doing here you snake in the grass?"
"Wasn't that Lord Orochimaru's pet name for you?" she returned.
"No, but I heard Kabuto use those words when asked what you looked like in the morning."
They all turned to watch Sakura appear at the top of the staircase dressed much more modestly than Sasuke in a nightgown that went down to her knees and a fluffy pink bathrobe that was tied at her waist. She hurriedly ran down the stairs and stood beside Sasuke.
"Stop before you start insulting each others' mothers and then everyone embarrasses themselves," she said testily. She turned to her husband and looked at him square in the eye. "Sasuke, let me talk to Karin in private."
"I can take care of myself," she assured him.
Sasuke glared at the redhead standing haughtily on her four-inch heels. "Alright, but if she touches you inappropriately I will have her banished from the entirety of Konoha."
Karin scoffed. "Banish me? What is this biblical times?"
"Karin, I'm willing to speak with you but I would prefer it if you do not antagonize my husband," Sakura said in a tone that brooked no argument.
Karin sniffed. "I suppose that's only fair."
Sakura smoothed the invisible wrinkles on her robe. "Very well then, let's continue this in the study."
Sakura led the way. Karin threw a last sneer towards Sasuke before following suit.
As soon as they were inside, Sakura slid the oak doors shut and turned the lock for good measure. Karin didn't faze her but Sasuke was surprisingly uncontrollably jealous.
She turned around and the redhead was already sitting with her legs crossed on the red velvet-upholstered couch that was positioned in front of a bookshelf that spanned one wall.
Karin ran her red-painted finger nails against the fabric, her stance uncharacteristically bashful. "I actually came here to apologize to you, Sakura."
Sakura balked. That was something she didn't expect.
Karin adjusted her cat-eye glasses on the bridge of her nose before she continued. "I did plan on eventually revealing my feelings to you. I've just always been upfront about my emotions, I always believed in carpe diem. And besides, people love being told they were loved. But I never wanted to force them on you or make trouble with your husband. I had only wanted to let you know that I thought you were wonderful."
Sakura clasped her hands behind her back and nodded. "I appreciate and accept your apology."
Karin smiled gratefully at her. "You're very kind. It makes me like you more."
Sakura raised her hand with her palm forward. "You might have to stop that, it makes me uncomfortable." She paused and frowned. "Wow, I think I just realized how I made me Sasuke feel when we were fourteen."
"Were you anything like me?"
"Oh, a hundred times worse."
The two women shared a hearty laugh between themselves.
Karin sighed deeply as she recovered from her fit of giggles. "You know, I never really thought there was any chance you were going to reciprocate my feelings. I'm not delusional. I mean, you're obviously straight."
"And enamored with your husband."
Sakura had a secret smile on her lips as she shrugged her shoulders. "Quite."
Karin stood up and dusted the skirt of her dress. She scuffled her heeled feet before she spoke her next words. "But do you think if you were ever, say, curious, that you would go for me?"
"Sure," Sakura said quickly. That was a lie though. If ever she magically turned into a lesbian she would try to break up Ino's marriage and they would run away together.
The sun was unforgiving that day. It was tradition, Sakura had said, that they walk slowly towards the coffee shop near the hospital to buy chocolate chip muffins before walking even slower towards the cemetery under the blistering heat. Sasuke was pretty sure she was trying to punish him for something.
They reached the cemetery gates. The rusty iron gates creaked loudly as he pushed it open. After five more minutes of walking they reached a grassy hill, the green glades still moist from the light shower earlier in the afternoon.
"It's just on the other side of the hill," she said as she wiped the light sheen of sweat on her forehead with the back of her hand.
He simply nodded before encasing her hand in his and pulling her upwards the small hill. When they were on the other side it was easy to tell which ones belonged to her family. Their three gravestones stood a foot apart from each other, a week old pot of daisies placed neatly on the well-kept Bermuda grass in front of each one.
Sakura moved forward, leaving him to follow in her step. She put down the large basket containing fresh flowers –orchids this time, which were her mother's favorite- and sat on her calves on the grass. She prudently replaced the flowers in each pot, removing the withered daisies and placing them in her basket before carefully arranging the fresh orchids in their place. She would bring out a small clipper to trim away leaves and stems that she thought were unsightly. When she was done she leaned back and observed her work. She smiled with satisfaction before putting away her things.
Sakura looked at Sasuke who was standing a foot away from the Bermuda grass where her parents' graves started, the brown paper bag containing chocolate chip muffins gripped in his left hand. "Come here," she said with a wave of her hand.
"Are you sure it's okay?" he asked unsurely.
Sakura laughed. "It's fine. Don't be scared, they're not going to turn into zombies and attack you."
He frowned at her. "That's not what I meant…I just don't want to step on them."
She snorted. "What are you, twelve? Just come over here."
Sasuke took a deep breath before gingerly walking over the Bermuda grass. Once he reached Sakura's side he quickly sat down beside her, making the seat of his pants feeling uncomfortably moist from the still dewy grass.
She smiled at him before hooking an arm around his. "I talk to them whenever I'm here," she told him as if in warning. "Mother, father, this is Sasuke my husband." She looked at him expectantly. "Well, go ahead introduce yourself."
He looked at her to gauge if she was joking but her face was stonily serious. He cleared his throat and tried to stamp down his self-consciousness. "Sir, madam, I'm Sasuke Uchiha. It is an honor to finally meet you. Thank you for raising such a wonderful daughter."
As soon as he'd finished speaking her lofty giggles stung his ear. He turned his head just in time to see her clamp her hands over her mouth. "Were you messing with me?" he accused sulkily.
She shook her head even as her cheeks turned pink from trying to suppress her laughter. "No, of course not. I really do talk to my parents," she paused before she added to clarify, "out loud. Here, in front of their graves."
Sasuke crossed his arms over his chest and pouted like a little boy. "Then why are you laughing?"
"I'm not laughing," she said quickly before pursing her lips together.
"Yes, you are. You are practically vibrating with glee."
She let out an uncontrollable guffaw. "Fine, fine. I just didn't think you'd actually do it." She tilted her head and looked contemplative for a second. "And so very formal."
"That was a very sincere gesture, you realize," he said with a glare.
She pushed a hand against her diaphragm as if to control her laughter. "Yes, I'm sorry, it was very insensitive of me." She rubbed his arm in apology.
Sasuke turned to face her mother and father's grave once again. "I take back what I said about raising a wonderful daughter. She can be very mean."
Sakura only laughed louder, her head falling to his shoulder. "You are such a touchy little grouch," she teased. He scowled deeper, reminding her so much of the brooding twelve year-old she insanely fancied in her childhood. She couldn't help but lean over and kiss him.
Sasuke stiffened at the touch of her lips. He put both hands on her shoulders and gently but swiftly pushed her away. "I'm not really comfortable doing this in front of your parents," he said awkwardly.
Sakura promptly fell down on the grass with her face first in a heap of giggles.
In dreams you never smelled anything with your nose or felt anything on your skin. You could see but not with your eyes, hear but not with your ears. That's how Sakura could tell that none of this was real, none except for the dread coiling in her stomach.
She could hear whimpers in the corner of the room. Her head moved without her control.
There she was again…but somehow she looked younger, more vulnerable but still as beautiful.
"I wanted that," Patrice said with a tilt of her head. Somehow, her foreign accent sounded heavier, the way it sounded when she had first come to Konoha.
Sakura looked down to find Sasuke sleeping peacefully with his head resting on the rise of her breasts, his arms wrapped securely around her hips.
"With Sasuke?" Sakura asked confusedly.
Patrice shook her head somberly, her steel grey eyes losing its luster. "With the one who killed me."
To be continued…
Additional disclaimer: The play that Sakura talks about in this story is 'Our Town' by Thornton Wilder.
End Notes: So I realize I cheated all of you out of a major lemon. But as I was writing the entire scene I just feel like an explicit love scene would fit the story. I never meant for them to wait the whole three months, because I wanted their first time to mean something and this moment meant something (I think.) I'll make it up in the next chapters though!
EDIT: Um, I don't really want to do this and I kind of hate myself a little but I just noticed that this chapter has gotten very little reviews compared to previous chapters...was it really that bad?