"You're not coming with us?"
Sakura blinked and looked up from where she had been reading through a book. Sasuke's bandaged eyes were settled on her from behind the couch. She found herself turning slightly to look up at him where he stood with Naruto.
She smiled. "No, Itachi and I are doing our little removal ceremony here."
A fact both of them were very happy about; very.
It had been a little over a month since they'd all piled into the house. And it'd been slightly bumpy at first; at least until Sasuke had learned to use the same technique as his brother. Until then… eating, bathing, dressing… it'd all been a subject of much aggression for the younger Uchiha. But, Sakura thought it had been good for him. It gave him a graver sense of what it was like on the other end (even if she'd never say that to his face). Helplessness had never been Sasuke's forte. And he'd had to learn to deal with it for about week before mastering the jutsu.
Things eventually settled and the days had passed on. Therapeutic is what she would have used to describe it. Not for her, but for the brothers. Their talk before the surgery had mended things, but living in the same house had brought them together much stronger than before and with some sense of normalcy. Hearing Sasuke laugh when he didn't think she was around, and at something his brother said, that was shocking and warming. Sasuke smiled, but she couldn't recall a time before this that he had laughed.
And now it was over… Naruto was here to get him so he could have the final check and his bandages removed.
"Ah… I…" he replied. "I'll come back and get my things tomorrow."
Sakura raised a brow; at first she frowned, but it quickly turned into a smile. "That's generous of you to give us some time."
He shook his head, smirk appearing. "And here I figured you'd hit me for insinuating…"
"I still can if you'd like. But, I think I'll be around when you fall, Uchiha. And laughing I will be—at you—for the girl who manages that."
Naruto was laughing harder at this, doubling over at the thought. "Good one, Sakura-chan!"
"So when are you asking Hinata to marry you?"
And then the blonde's face got bright red, mouth opening, as Sasuke's smirk broadened.
"Thought so." Another smile. "Have fun, boys. I'm sure you'll be running right out to train after this."
If Sasuke could roll his eyes, or if she could see them… well, he probably was. "Have fun," he mumbled back before heading to the door. "I'll be sure to keep Naruto away."
"Oh, no worries," she said back, raising her voice as she returned to her book. "He knows well enough what happens to him when comes barreling in like a boar."
They were talking amongst themselves now, screen door slamming behind them. But, she was sure Naruto was complaining about Sasuke's response.
She continued to thumb through her book, not really reading it, but trying to pass the time now that the boys were gone. Itachi was up his room, still asleep; she had every intention of letting him enjoy today without interruption. As far as she was concerned, he'd earned it. Sasuke had as well, even if it wasn't for as much as it had been for his brother.
It had been… odd; the living in a home with the man you once devoted everything to and now with the man you… well, loved?
She wasn't sure she was ready for that word yet, but it was there.
But, they both took things slow; that's just how they both were (now). Sakura didn't mind taking her time; it's not like they were on active missions yet. And both brothers had another two weeks before Tsunade even considered it, just to make sure things were functioning properly. Hell, she wasn't even sure Itachi wanted to go back on active duty. It wasn't anything they'd talked about. If anything, she just assumed he'd bring it up if he wanted to. For her though, after this, she'd probably pile her name back into the proverbial pot. Tsunade would want her to. And she really was looking forward to a mission with Sasuke and Naruto; after all, it'd been over three months since even a hint of the last one. She was starting to feel cramped up.
But, no, she had no idea what Itachi might want to do after he got back into a normal life, whatever that was for a shinobi. For all she knew, he might want to go back to ANBU duty. Or maybe even, drastically in a change of pace, decide to go Kakashi's route for a while and teach. Some might laugh at that, but Sakura could see Itachi making an excellent teacher not all entirely unlike her former sensei.
She sighed, stood up, and snapped her book closed before dropping it on the couch. She reached above her head, stretched, and yawned the last of the sleep out of her bones. Something popped and released an ache out of her back. A smile touched her face before she strode across the main living space and towards the stairs. She took them one by one, deciding not to rush or make too much noise in case he was still asleep.
However, as she rounded the corner, peeking into his room, she could see he was just starting to sit up out of bed.
His covered eyes moved to her direction. "Morning."
"And to you as well," she replied as she moved to the large window on the other side of the room. She reached up and pulled down the thicker curtains, closing the room in almost complete darkness. Some light still trickled in from other rooms just outside of the door. She switched on a lamp on her way back, keeping it all fairly dimmed.
"Sasuke left with Naruto just a bit ago." The door shut with a click, leaving everything in a basking, warm, dimmed glow from the lamps. She looked around, satisfied.
She smiled at that as she moved to sit down on the edge of the bed next to him. "With Naruto it's not easy to keep the volume down. Well," she said as she started to correct herself while she looked upward slightly, touching her chin, "not unless it's a mission these days."
Itachi smirked, reminding her of the one Sasuke had shown her moments ago. "I've found that out recently."
She chuckled. "Naruto goes where Sasuke goes."
She stopped to stare at him for a little while in the glow of the room, the gentle light that touched the walls and him. It hummed across his hair, creating a ring while the rest of it crept over his face; each bandage crevice left a line of darkness that matched just under the slight canopy of his hair.
He was beautiful. Always beautiful. And yet, it had almost nothing to do with the curve of his lips, the softness of his eyes when he wasn't angry, the length of his lashes that reminded her of his mother (the one time she'd seen a picture), or the lovely length his hair had grown into. No… it had everything to do with… the reason he smiled; the way he listened—not just to her, but to anyone; the patience he had for others, his brother and Naruto; the unfortunate way he closed away and hid his pain, and the beautiful way in which he'd finally opened up; and just… everything.
She found, once she'd come back from her reverie, that her hand had reached out, touching the long strands; her fingers slid through them, parting them like reeds would water in slow moving river. "Are you going to cut it?"
He appeared to a jerk a little at that, as if the question was unexpected. She could see his brow furrow as her hand stilled, pausing. She felt more than saw his fingers curl around her wrist; no, she was more fascinated by the curious smile that wasn't quite there on his mouth. Even more so when he brought her hand up, hair falling off slowly like a wave, and turned his head to kiss the inside of her wrist, inhaling barely as he did so.
"I hadn't given it much thought," he admitted gently. "Why, do you want me to cut it?"
"No," she found herself saying almost immediately. "Well—I suppose if you want to—."
He chuckled softly. "The first answer was honest. I won't cut it."
And then she wasn't sure what to say at all.
He was still smiling. "I wish I could see that caught-off-guard look on your face just now. Can we please take these off now?"
And then she smiled. "Well, I didn't turn down the lights and close the curtains for nothing." She reached over towards the nightstand where she had a habit of keeping a few supplies for changing his bandages. "Did you want to do anything before we did this? Get dressed… eat?"
"No, I've waited long enough."
She pulled a small pair of medical scissors out and shut it back, then righted herself. "Just make sure you don't move. Ready?"
He just smiled in return.
Like it needed to be asked.
Without much else, she reached up and slid the scissors just under the bandage, careful not to catch his skin or hair, and began…
The steel was cold against his skin, just barely resting and sliding as she made the cuts. The process likely took moments, but to Itachi it felt like eons as his mind moved into overdrive. Anticipation burst in his chest; it hammered against his breast like a drum, beating a humming with each snip that brought him closer to freedom. He couldn't stop himself from trying to imagine just how everything looked before; faces, people, the village, his brother—everything.
It's like he was on the edge of a cliff, waiting to fall furiously and without consequence.
And then there came that point when he wasn't quite sure where she was at in the cutting process because he couldn't feel it anymore. His breath halted and he waited, waited for anything.
"You can open them now, Itachi."
For a brief moment, he realized he's been so wrapped up in his own adrenaline that he hadn't even felt her remove to material. But, by then it didn't matter.
Slowly, the veil lifted and colors assaulted his vision.
"It might be a bit blurry at first… just till you adjust… and don't try and use the Sharingan for an hour at the very least."
It was all a bit of a fog, she was right, but carefully… as he blinked, some of it came into focus. Slowly, beautifully, she came into focus.
Green… luminous green lined in black, above which rested thin brows of cotton candy. Beyond… long strands with just barely a wave in them, brighter in color than her eyebrows. Her cheeks were just as rosy, her nose petite, and her lips small but perfectly suited for her—for Sakura. He couldn't look at the rest of her just then; no, just her face. He couldn't help but try to remember the girl before, the one in valley, at a time that felt ages ago. And he couldn't help but see that she wasn't her anymore. He could see what he could always see now; the strength, growth, age, in her eyes that had always been present in her voice. The gentleness his mother had always told him was within him was reflected in her own eyes and right back into his. The intensity of it all stole his breath; his lips parted.
He never wanted to close his eyes again.
And then she smiled.
And he wasn't sure if he'd ever catch his breath once it hit him; once it really hit him.
"I love you," he whispered, witnessing in mere seconds the drop of her smile and slight widening of her eyes.
He'd always known, it had been there for a while; knowing when it had come to pass wasn't important, but it was there. Seeing her, having that connection made him realize so much in the same way as when he'd used the chakra radar technique the first time.
A light bulb went off and it made sense.
He didn't wait for her to respond; he didn't have the patience for that. Instead, he just reached out, leaned in, and captured her lips in a desperate kiss. He tangled his fingers into her hair, loose as it was; he reached around, tugging her closer, light breaking from his chest as she responded by returning the kiss and enclosing him in her own embrace.
He didn't like closing his eyes; he didn't want to. But, he'd deal with it just to feel her like this right now. The way her hands smoothed over his back, the way she opened up to him with touch alone, the sound of her breath being drawn in through her nose and how that same sound mingled with his own drawing of breath in some dramatic climax.
He pulled her back, falling onto the mattress and took her with him. She shifted at the movement, pulling her hands back from behind him just in time. For a long moment the kiss didn't stop, none of it did; however, eventually she pulled back and he opened his eyes. He watched as she reached for her top and pulled it off. He was so transfixed just watching her he didn't even have time to consider anything as she pulled it off. All he could focus on was the action, her skin as it revealed itself, and the movement of her hands. She shifted around, pulled the rest of it off, and before he could process it all, she was there… bare, naked, for the first time that he could actually see it.
He jerked out of his haze as she reached to pull the blanket away and likely undress him or see if he was wearing anything. He wasn't, but that was irrelevant.
His hands snapped over her wrists and he looked up at her where she knelt on the bed to his right. She looked right back at him, appearing confused.
"I just…" he started, brow furrowing.
"Is it too much…? Are you in pain… or…?"
He shook his head and let go just before shifting so he could sit up. "No, I…" he met her gaze, eyes narrowed as he carefully constructed the words in his head before he said them. "…This is the first time in months I've been able to see. And it's felt like ages for me, Sakura. Ages. For so much time before even then, before the fight…. I couldn't see very much at all. Blurs. I coped. But… for so long I'd almost forgotten what things looked like, or I thought I had.
"I've been trapped in this darkness that started with a fog. It became a slowly closing cage I couldn't escape. And I…" he said with a break in his voice, realizing as he spoke how much this all meant to him, what she'd done for him, worked so tirelessly for—for him. "I just want to see you with these eyes," he pointed. "I want to… drink it all in—you. I want to drink you in with my eyes," he breathed, reaching for her face, pulling her forehead to his.
She was shaking, he realized; and then heard the first sniff. He jerked away and his eyes searched her face rapidly. Clear trails rolled down and he felt his heart strain.
"Sakura…? …Sakura… what's wrong? Did I…?"
She shook her head quickly and began wiping her eyes. "I love you too," she said brokenly, not seeming able to say much more.
He hadn't expected it, hadn't needed it yet. There wasn't even a want for hearing it yet. But, hearing her say it hit him harder than he anticipated. He pulled her back to him, just hugging her in a careful squeeze until she stopped shaking and her tears dried.
When she pulled back she didn't say anything; she kissed him, the salt of her tears rolling over his tastebuds. He fell on the mattress with her, barely leaving her, touching, caressing, watching almost the whole time.
He watched as she arched, as she opened her pink lips and cried out and whimpered gently. He watched her hands wander over his skin, as his own hands touched along the planes and dips along her body. He watched as sweat gathered and pooled along their bodies, mixing and mingling together.
He watched as she rose to heaven and tumbled back to earth before finally joining her.
At the end, he was certain of one thing…
He would never stop watching Haruno Sakura.
One year later…
The blossoms were beautiful, dancing as they did in the open breeze. The sky was clear, blue and endless with few clouds drifting along. Nothing blocked the sun. It was a cool afternoon despite the brightness.
The bride was beautiful, long hair piled up in a delicate and ornate manner. The length of her wedding kimono, white and woven embroidered silk, seemed to go on forever when she'd walked down the aisle. Both sides were filled with people in seats, softly murmuring before a hush was called and vow reciting started.
"I'm surprised you aren't crying," he whispered.
Green eyes glanced over at him through a lace fabric. She smiled. "No need to." Her hand reached for his, grasping it. He smiled back and squeezed just after his fingers interlaced thoroughly through hers.
She looked forward again, focused and ready.
"I am surprised Naruto's kept so still for this long, though…"
"Ah… but it's Hinata. He wouldn't do anything stupid to ruin this day for her; although, I can't see her being upset if he did by accident."
"She does make a beautiful bride. Remind me again why you didn't want to be one of her bridesmaids?"
Sakura shrugged. "I wanted to watch Sasuke squirm from a good seat."
At this he tried to chuckle softly, not wanting to disrupt the quiet of the ceremony as the couple spoke their vows.
"Hinata approved of the explanation. But, honestly, Ino is going to force to be the maid of honor when she makes the dive. A girl can only be a bridesmaid so many times."
"Always a bridesmaid never a bride?"
"Either that or I can only wear a dress I don't pick out and probably won't like once."
They didn't say anymore, quieting down as they watched Naruto kiss Hinata and the whole thing come to an end of sorts, more of a happy beginning—Sakura knew. The guests moved on to the next phase, the reception, ect. Sakura found herself walking with Itachi in the same direction, but as a fairly slower pace than with the rest of the guests. Her hand was still laced into his as she watched the backs of people wander along.
She smiled at the array of colors in their dress, be it formal kimono or something else.
Weddings always made you think of your own future, your own plans—if one had any. Sakura thought about those often when she'd been younger, and had continued to for a little while when Sasuke returned. But, for a time after that she'd just let it go and relaxed. Now… at Naruto's wedding, she found herself thinking about them again. She found her mind wandering to all those images she'd locked away and placed somewhere for dusting off, cleaning, reordering, adding new things to in time, and eventually reviewing.
And she stopped quite suddenly, jerking Itachi back. To the point that he was looking at her and a little oddly at that, brow raised.
She eyed him carefully, with a scrutinizing gaze and pursed her lips as if dissecting some sort of cell under a microscope in her lab; albeit a cell she loved, but still. The look made Itachi appear a little nervous.
"You wanna get married?"
That took him by surprise, she noted.
"You're… asking me to marry you?"
"Well… yeah." He was still looking at her oddly. She frowned. "Oh, this isn't about you asking me, is it? Or do we—of all people—really need a ring to do this?"
He suddenly barked laughter. "No, no… you just… caught me off guard there, is all."
"Not the best way to ask, I imagine."
"No, not really," he said, still smiling.
"Ok, how about this, I love you and would really just love to keep doing what we're doing with a cute little promise on paper between us.
He snorted. "Now you're just trying to annoy me."
"Is it working?" She edged closer to him, smirk present as her chest bumped slightly into his.
He sighed and wrapped his arms around her languidly. "Not really. Your name might need to be Sasuke for that to work."
"Ah…" Her arms came around his neck. "I don't think I can manage that."
He let his forehead rest on hers as he looked into her eyes. "Well, if you did then I wouldn't marry you because you'd be my brother… and that would be a little odd for me."
"That's a yes then?"
He chuckled. "Yes."
AN :: OMG, it's over. Finally. First, I want apologize for how long it took. This time, this author, had a legitimate excuse. First, we temporarily moved out of our house and into my mother's. Then we moved back into our house. The kids got move to their mother's and now that we have the money to fix ours, we're trying to. I could give you all the gory details, but I'm quite sure you don't (quite) care. Suffice it to say, it's been a long few months.
Now, for some sad news. This will likely be my last Naruto fanfic I personally write by myself. I've got my book series going in ebook format and in softcover through self-publishing. It's a steampunk novel adventure series. If you like that kind of stuff, please check out my web site: thesteamrunner with the usual dot and com present (it's free to read on there one chapter a month like I do my fanfiction; ps, I love reviews). I'm still trying to finish my BuffySpike fic and my other Naruto story (you can find the link on my profile if you want to read that). But, aside from that, I probably won't write anymore fanfics. I DO have one more I'm working on, but I won't post that unless I finish it (it's a post-4th war Sasuke and Sakura story—rated M). I hate incomplete stories and I would never do that to you guys. Considering I'm unsure as to how busy I will be, for now just assume that Nightingale and Right Kind of Wrong are my LAST Naruto fanfics. But, do keep me on author alert in case it shows up.
Now, if you'd like to keep in constant contact with me D, you can always check out my facebook page Kit Roe. Just type in the regular facebook address and then the forward slash and then KitRoe as one word.
Thank you all for taking this journey with me. I hope you will continue it with my original work and remain avid fans. OH! And if you want to read my urban fairy tale romance (M rated) then click the like to Rose Red on my website thesteamrunner.
Thank you again and I will love you all—always,
-Blade (aka Kit Roe)