I'm terrible, i know. But i'm alive. I made the decision to take three psyc classes this semester, which seemed like a good idea at the time because i'm a psyc major, but i know realize that it could be very time consuming. Good news, semester is over so here is the chapter. Sorry if i feels rushed, and that it's shorter than other chapters, but i'm rushing to get this out before work.

Chapter 18

Good Gracious

For Ren, being a big brother was a difficult job. There was no denying that Sakura was a beautiful girl. All though high school, as soon as she hit puberty and started to take shape, the boys started to come around. In fact, he had even had to forcibly put his own friends in their places, letting them know that his little sister was explicitly off limits. As the man of the house, it was his job to make sure that the women in his life were taken care of. His mother wasn't so hard to handle. She was sort of scatterbrained, but she usually had things down. Sakura, however, was always a different story.

Sakura, while brilliant and obviously meant for great things, was never too smart about her personal life. She definitely had a type, the covert jerk. At first glance, you thought, hey, maybe she had a winner here. But then time passes and little things turned into big things. The high school quarterback, for example, was a good guy at first glance. He turned out to be an obvious future alcoholic. The frat guy in college quickly was revealed to be a loser who was going nowhere in life expect maybe leach off his baby sister. And then the cop, of the wonderful ATF agent, he had been the worst of them all.

Watching his little sister go through that was the hardest thing he had ever been through. It was obvious that she was scared, and really she had a reason to be. He had hit her and she had run only to find that he wasn't so willing to simply let her go. More than anything Ren had wanted to beat him to a bloody pulp, but the guy was untouchable. He was a big shot ATF agent. If Ren even got close enough raise a fist then he was threatening and/or attacking a federal agent, something that would not have gone so well for him. It had taken going to several different precincts to get his little sister the restraining order and even then Sakura hadn't felt safe. She had taken the first job opportunity out of the city that she could, winding up in the middle of nowhere where her talent would be wasted on such a small town.

Ren had never felt so helpless as he did then.

But then he thought that things were finally looking up for her. He talked to her regularly and she talked to their mother practically every day. She had sounded happy, happier than he had heard her in a long while. And he was happy for her. Extremely happy for her. Right up until he found out she had found another guy. Instantly he had known that it was going to be just another mess, the covert jerk there to mess up the good thing she had going on.

Which was why he was really surprised when this Sasuke fellow walked through the door and he realized that instead of getting a covert jerk she went for the overt jerk this time. Everything about this guy screamed trouble. He obviously didn't care much for looking put together with his ill-fitted clothes, stupid leather vest, unkempt hair, facial hair no doubt a result of laziness, and grease covered hands. And he was obviously a part of some sort of gang, with that leather vest for some club or something. He had tried to be polite to him and make a good impression but Ren wasn't going to be fooled.

His friend, that insanely tall, beastly man, was worse. Just so much worse than Sasuke. This guy didn't even go through the effort of trying to be polite. He was loud and brash and standoffish with him. He looked at him as if he was a rat hiding away in your house, a disgusting vermin that was a making a nuisance of his life. Sakura seemed completely at ease with him after they had gotten in the house, and the man regarded her with a much higher respect, for which Ren was the least bit grateful, but still he didn't feel at ease around them and about the situation.

As soon as they got to the "compound", Ren realized the situation was so much worse than he thought. He and Sakura had fought, a familiar thing when it came to Ren's opinions about her relationships. But the argument didn't quite sit right with him for some more reason than the obvious. Somehow this felt different, which scared him more than he was willing to admit. Sakura had never gotten so defensive, never had that fire in her eyes when he voiced his opinions. She was in deep this time and it was in a very bad situation in his opinion but she wasn't going to give up so easy.

Sakura had disappeared into a large building some time ago on the opposite side of the lot and had left him with all the misguided souls her new boyfriend liked to hang out with. They were a rowdy bunch, all with the same stupid leather vests on their backs of three different cities mingling together. Ren stood back and watched them all. A few men had approached him, a very annoying large blonde man whom seemed close to Sasuke in particular. He offered him a beer, which Ren took and tried to talk to him but Ren was less than willing. Eventually the blonde man got the clue and wandered off, taking what seemed to be his spot beside Sasuke.

Ren mostly watched Sasuke. He never stayed in one place for too long, floating around the lot and speaking to all the different vest-wearing miscreants. He stood tall in front of all of them, his head tilted back in a cocky, superior air. After only watching him for a little while did Ren realize that this man was highly respected by everyone he talked to. Everything about the body language of everyone he talked to screamed of his power and influence. The men instantly stood up straighter, squared their shoulders and tried to look as big and powerful as they can when he was in their presence. Even if the conversation looked very calm and very friendly, these men always had their best foot forward. They respected him and wanting to appear a certain way in his presence. Ren had long since noticed that Sasuke wore a patch on the front of his vest that said 'VICE PRESIDENT' but he had also seen other men of different cities with 'PRESIDENT' and 'VICE PRESIDENT' patches regard him with a certain level of high respect as well. It was obvious Sasuke was very high up in the chain of command.

Another thing he noted was that Sasuke seemed to have shadows with him at all times. That blonde man that had approached him earlier was never far from him. Sasuke seemed to regard him with a certain level of respect as well, though Ren hadn't seen any extra patch that denoted him as someone with a higher title like Sasuke had. The blonde man was much more brash than Sasuke, and louder as he could often hear him laughing from all the way across the lot. But everything about the two men screamed of a very close relationship though. In addition to the blonde man the other brash man from Sasuke's house, the nomad, was a second shadow. He, like the blonde man, had a very in-your-face presence. But his air was much more threatening. He looked like a predator or even a hungry lioness that was hovering over his lion cubs, like he was ready at any moment to strike down any threat. And if he was the lioness, Sasuke was the lion cub.

And if Sasuke was high up in command, there was only one of higher power than him, Ren guessed from what he observed. There was an older blonde man, who looked very much like the blonde man whom shadowed Sasuke that Ren guessed they were father and son, that seemed to possess an equal or higher power as Sasuke. He had a shadow as well, a rapid, wily looking brunette man with a 'SGT-at- ARMS' patch on his chest. Though Ren couldn't get a good look, he guessed that the older blonde man was the President of this "club". Ren remembered that he had seen the older man very affectionately speaking to Sakura when they first arrived and it left the older brother in a confused and unsure state.

It was getting late when Ren finally spotted Sakura again. There was a long row of tables pushed together to form one long table by the entrance to the building Sakura had disappeared into when they first arrived. After some time the door to the building opened and a few women started to trickle out carrying dishes and containers of food. Plates and glasses had already been set out so the woman started putting the food in the center of the table. There was a tall blonde older woman who stood next to Sakura and the two seemed to be the ones to be directing and organizing the table. While the women made several trips in and out of the building to bring more and more food out, Sakura and this woman stayed outside and fended off the men who had started to come over at the sight and smell of the food.

Soon everyone had drifted over and the women seemed to have brought everything out. People were starting to take their places at the table. The older blonde man, Ren noticed, was sitting at the head of the table while the blonde older woman went to his side instantly. Sasuke was already drifting over to the seat directly to the left of the man, the corner seat. Sakura seemed to take her place next to him without thought. Ren also took notice at all the boys with the city 'KOHONA' patch sat together by the head of the table followed by the President and VP of the Suna boys and then the Tanzaku boys at the end of the table.

"Yo, Ren, over here," Ren suddenly heard and noticed the blonde man waving over to him by the head of the table. He gestured to the seat next between him and the older blonde woman. It was the one directly across from Sakura, who looked at him guardedly as he took his seat. She was holding Sasuke's baby in her arms, he noted. The blonde man pat him on his shoulder once before he bent forward to kiss the cheek of a dark haired woman on his other side.

After everyone was settled the blonde man at the head of the table stood up and Sasuke quickly followed his example. The blonde man regarded him with a small smile and then looked down the table at all the men who were now deathly silent as soon as the two men stood up.

"Welcome," the man started with a small wave of his hand, "and thank you all for coming. Your time is impeccable, landing on our routine family dinners. Of course it's usually a smaller affair in my own home but I think it would be impossible to fit you all in my home. And son's house is even smaller than mine," he said, gesturing to Sasuke quickly. This surprised Ren as he suddenly studied the two standing males but even then he couldn't see the family resemblance.

"Of course," he started again after the small chuckles died down. "I couldn't simply exclude you from our dinner. You are just as much family as my own boys, my own charter. You all deserve a place at this table as tribute to our brotherhood."

He glanced to Sasuke who nodded and he picked up his glass to hold loosely in his hand. When Sasuke spoke his voice was loud and clear, a very strong voice of a powerful leader. "My father and I thank you for coming on such short notice and showing your support. Tomorrow is going to be a big day for us, with very important matters that need to be dealt with that will finally be put to rest. Your presence and your support will go a long way and we are all so very grateful. As my father said, we are all family, no matter the distance between each charter. In your time of need, we will bend over backwards to come to your side just as you would do the same for us," he paused for a moment to look over the table.

He had every single person's attention on him, waiting with bated breathed for his next words. Ren looked around quickly, seeing the power this man held over all these people. They truly looked up to him, truly studied and believed that there was something in him that was worth their time. He looked back at this man, this seriously troublesome man, whom had managed to steal his sister's favor and frowned to himself. This man was trouble, he knew. There was more to this man than met the eye, he could tell now, but Ren wasn't sure what that was. He also didn't know if it was a good thing or a disastrous thing.

Sasuke chuckled to himself before he shook his head. Something in his manner changed, more open. His stance relaxed and he gave a small shrug accompanied with a small smirk. "Time and time again we will tell you that you are our family. But that might as well just be meaningless words and promises to an outsider. No one can truly understand the bond we all share until they are a part of it. They don't see or realize that even with the distance between us, the miles and miles we have to travel between cities, it doesn't matter to us. We would go to hell and back if we were called upon. We would go to war and destroy everything in our path if it meant we could take care of our own. We wear the Reaper on our backs for a reason; a testimony to the devotion we have to one another, the lengths we would go to. You are more to me than just brother in arms, you are my blood brothers and I am honored to wear this patch."

He raised his glass into the air. "I raise my glass to all my brothers at this table," he stated while raising his glass. There was a shuffle as everyone moved to raise his or her own.

"To my brothers," he called and suddenly there were yells from all around and the sounds of glasses clinking together. Ren listened to the rebel yells, watching as some men starting chugging their drinks while other were clanking glasses. Some were even rhythmically pounding their fists on the table. Sasuke stood at the head of the table and clanked his glass with his father before the two knocked back their drinks as if they were shots.

"Now, its time to eat this delicious meal our women prepared," Minato said while resting his hand on the blonde woman's shoulder. He and Sasuke sat back down and hands were reaching into the center of the table from all directions, clawing at one another to get the best piece of chicken or steak, etc. Since Sakura's hands were full with the baby, Ren watched as Sasuke prepared two plates for them.

Dinner progressed uneventfully. The men at the table were loud and raunchy. Yells and shouts were passed easily, conversations from one of the table to another shouted as if they were right there next to one another. Laughs and jokes were exchanged, everyone in good spirits from the good food and company. Ren sat quietly by, observing everyone and most importantly his sister and her new man.

It took him a moment, but Ren did notice that Sakura was highly respected by this group. They treated her kindly while still maintaining their own rough-necked humor. Sakura seemed to expect this and ran with the punches, teasing them just as much as they teased her. There was a sense of brother-sister type teasing between her and the men of Konoha, as if they had spent time with her and treated her like their own. This knowledge was both comforting and discomforting in its own right. On the one hand, it meant that he could be thankful by the fact that she was being treated well by these hooligans. However, it also meant that they had all spent enough time together to be comfortable enough with each other to get to this sense of camaraderie, a fact that did not please Ren all. After all, this was is beautiful smart baby sister with so much potential who was wasting her time with roughians.

Still, Ren kept his mouth shut, silently observing the people around him as they laughed and joked all the way through dinner and long after the food had been consumed or covered. It must have been at least an hour or two after the dinner had started that Sasuke had stood up and announced that he had to use the restroom (though not nearly phrased as politely). Ren stood with him, partly for the completely selfish reason of trying to get this guy alone and partly because he too needed to empty his bladder.

"All come with you. I need the restroom too," he said and only got as far as a few steps away from his chair before a man was suddenly blocking his path.

"Not so fast, cager. The clubhouse is off limits to you. Use the garage bathroom," the older man with the strange red tattoos on his face said in a vaguely threatening tone whilst pointing to building in the back of the lot.

"Kiba, really?" Sakura fired back quickly, glaring at the roguish man suddenly in Ren's face.

The man ignored her and only stared down Ren, as if he was daring him to do something. Neither man had a chance to do anything before Sasuke was stepping in, coming forward and gently putting himself between the two men. The raven-haired male's body language showed no hint of unfriendliness, only a sense of calm.

"Already, Kiba, knock it off," he muttered in a tone that sought to calm ruffled feathers.

However, they didn't have a calming effect on Kiba, the exact opposite in fact. He turned to glare at Sasuke, stepping closer in an aggressive manner and looking too fired up for what the situation called for. "You have got to be fucking kidding me, right? This guy isn't one of us-" he started before Sasuke interrupted him.

Everything about Sasuke seemed to change in an instant, going from relaxed and peace-keeping to aggressive and defensive almost in a heartbeat. It was almost as if a flip had been switched and he was in a completely different mode now. Ren glanced around then, noting just how quickly everyone had hushed up and was watching intently as this battle of wills suddenly went down. Everyone seemed to be watching Sasuke in particular, waiting on bated breath to see what he would do now.

Sasuke stepped up into Kiba's face until they were mere inches away from one another. He spoke clearly and calmly, his voice cool but laced with strength and a sense of venom that stung harsher and harsher with each word.

"You seem to forget just who exactly you are talking to. You may think you are big and bad, someone important after you have scraped, begged and kissed ass to get where you are today. But you forget that you are still below me, still weaker and less influential than me. All that time you have devoted to kissing my father's ass while hindering me will only get you so far. My father has already started to pass on the torch to me and you are very quickly going to lose your seat as right hand. Do you really think you can take me on?"

Kiba glared at the younger man in front him before he glanced around the table quickly. Both Naruto and Kisame were standing as well, flanking their Prince and ready to jump in if need be. Minato was still sitting at the head of the table, watching the display with almost a sense of indifference. Everyone else was watching, waiting to see how it played out but with just one look around Kiba knew he had already lost the battle. It was clear that Sasuke had already picked those who would be beside him in his new regime, already picked his VP and his protector. And a look around at Minato's indifference and Sasuke's powerful stance with his two beta wolves standing at his flanks told the older man of Sasuke's power.

He had been oblivious for a long time, savoring the power that came with being the right hand man of the president. He hadn't been paying attention, too wrapped up in himself and his power to realize that the tides were turning. Of course he had known that Minato was grooming his son to succeed him, he had been doing so from the day that Sasuke stitched that VP patch on his cut at such a young age. But the tattoo faced man had been blind to see the recent wheels turning until this moment, too blind to see that Sasuke had already began taking more power until it was too late and he had already burned his bridges. Sasuke would take over soon, way sooner than Kiba ever expected, and he would not be picking Kiba to be anywhere close to him in power. Kiba would be demoted and he could see that Sasuke already made up his mind about his officers and closed ranks and the damage was already done. Kiba was standing face to face with the man who, in the not too distant future, would be his president, his king, and he knew that even if the damage was done and he wasn't going to be an officer, it was at least in his best interest to back down.

Kiba stepped back slowly, keeping his mouth shut and clearly admitting defeat. Sasuke tilted his head up slightly in an arrogant manner.

"That's what I thought," he said smugly, "My word is rule so sit down, shut up, mind your fucking business, and do as I say," Sasuke said harshly.

Kiba scowled at him but did as he was told, moving back to his chair. "Yes, sir," he snarled as he slinked back to the table in defeat.

Sasuke watched and waited until Kiba was sitting and clearly done tossing his weight around before he looked at Ren, who was staring at him in confusion and mild shock. Sasuke mentally berated Kiba for starting this in the first place and forcing Sasuke's hand. Kiba had gotten an over inflated sense of worth that needed to be knocked down a few pegs for a while now, but Sasuke hadn't wanted to do it now. He hadn't wanted to do it in front of all of their brothers, in front of two visiting charters, and more importantly, in front of Sakura's brother whom he was trying to make a good impression with. Verbally abusing and smacking down one of his boys was not something he had wanted Ren to see him do. He didn't want Ren to think him dangerous like he knew he was, with all his power and influence, but he couldn't let Kiba slide either with all the boys watching.

"Come on, I'll show you to the bathroom in my suite," Sasuke muttered at last and began to lead the red haired male into the clubhouse.

As soon as Ren entered the building he was silently scanning and examining the entire space. Sasuke was acutely aware of the mess the boys had left everything in, where duffle bags and other random assortment of personal items had been left out. The ashtrays were overflowing and beer and liquor bottles seemed to linger on every surface after the large party the night before that no one had bothered to clean up. As far as great impressions, the clubhouse wasn't helping anything and he cursed out loud when he noticed the hall of fame wall had captured Ren's attention.

"Nice mug shot," Ren muttered as he examined his mug shot and those of his brothers. Sasuke grimaced, not feeling the usual sense of pride he felt when he saw his picture among those of his brothers.

"My apartment suite is this way," he said instead, hoping to divert the man's attention.

Ren's gaze seemed to linger for a moment more before he reluctantly followed Sasuke's lead down the narrow hall branching off the main room. The hallway was in better shape than the rest of the clubhouse, no lingering garbage and only the decorated walls. Ren observed each picture or artwork that lined the walls. Sasuke walked slowly, letting Ren take in the pictures that told the story of this club better than some raunchy jokes over dinner. The walls were lined with a hodgepodge of different patched members, some from the early years of the club and there had only been one charter to the more branched, widespread club they were today. There were pictures of him as a child perched on his mother's hip while the boys of the club barbequed in full colors and handed out burgers and hotdogs at local fundraiser. Pictures of them at bike shows and of them at graduations. Pictures of Sasuke as he and his brothers grew up, among the boys who shaped them into who they were today- into the good men they were today despite their sometimes tough exteriors.

"It's back this way," Sasuke muttered quietly as they turned the corner slowly. Right at the end of the hallway, where the hallway turned, a bike was on display in an open display case built into the wall. The bike was old fashioned, a 1949 Panhead that had seen better days but still gleamed in its own way, a bright blue color. Sasuke ran his hands over the seat as he passed, a habit that he did religiously. Ren eyed him and the bike as they passed.

"That's my dad's bike," he said to break the silence and put himself at ease. "It was his cruising, special occasion bike, not his every day bike that he uses today. He found it in a junkyard and poured himself into it until it was better than new, back when the auto shop was still getting up on its feet. It was on this bike that I rode on for the first time, when I was ten and the bike Dad rode off on with my Ma after their wedding. I can still see that stupid veil flapping in the wind under Ma's helmet to this day," Sasuke said proudly and smiling fondly at the memories, walking backwards ever so slowly so that he could look at the bike.

"My dad laid it down when I was about fourteen. Completely wrecked it and put himself in the hospital for a good while. My brothers Naruto, Itachi, and I put it back together while he was in the hospital to surprise when he got out and to distract us from the fact that the man we thought was invincible was nearly as indestructible as he made himself out to be. We spent weeks in that garage, sleeping in shifts so that one of us was also working on it, and skipping school altogether. Dad ended up helping us finish it after he got out of the hospital. Understandably, Dad didn't want to ride it afterwards but it's still a part of him and our family and he couldn't see himself selling it. So when we remodeled the clubhouse to expand it later that year, Dad had the display built in. It's been here ever since. We have the prospect come in every week and polish until it gleams. A bike like this deserves nothing less."

Ren stared at him blankly for a moment; the two long since having abandoned any pretense of walking away and were now standing by the display. He eyed the bike quickly before he looked back at Sasuke. "You are really having some sort of moment here over a bike," he said in a wondering tone. It was a tone that obviously said that Ren didn't see what was so wonderful about the bike, a tone that said he didn't understand Sasuke.

Despite himself, Sasuke couldn't help but chuckle once. "It's just a bike to you, but to me this bike represents so much more. It represents the happiness of my childhood, represents the moment I knew I was meant to be on a bike for the rest of my life. I look at this bike and I see my parents wedding day, and I see special trips to the clubhouse or through the countryside, such me and my dad. I see the time we all spent together, just me and my dad and my brothers, rebuilding it when our lives came so close to falling apart at the seams. This bike is like happiness and hope to me," Sasuke said with a small smile.

Sasuke stepped forward and let his hand linger on the handlebar. He was quiet for a long moment, trying to gather all of his thoughts. Ren was silent the whole time, alternating between looking at Sasuke as if he was some sort of puzzle and looking at the bike like some sort of deeper meaning behind the blue paint would sudden pop out at him if he stared long enough.

Sasuke let his gaze wonder to more of the pictures lining the wall, letting each memory and each story come to mind behind the laughing, smiling faces in front of him. He eyed the familiar and unfamiliar faces of different members, some who have come and gone in his life while others served their time with the maiden charter and those close to its heart before they too moved on before Sasuke could ever meet them. This was Minato's and the boy's legacy, Sasuke knew, what he would control and add to when his time came. It was a very daunting task if Sasuke thought too much about it, but it was something he had always wanted, even back when he was too young to even understand what it truly meant.

"You don't like me," Sasuke said at last and Ren's gaze snapped up to him, staring at him blankly. "I get it," Sasuke continued, "I'm not the man you thought your sister would ever end up with, nor whom she deserved to be with."

Ren said nothing, only stared at him and Sasuke took this as a sign to continue. "I know what you see when you look at me. You see a no good mechanic with a young baby and no mother in sight. You see a man in a gang with his hooligan family and you're right, that is who I am. I don't deserve your sister and I never truly will. Hell, I doubt anyone will, she's sort of amazing in ways that sometimes doubt is truly humanly possible."

"Is this the part where you tell me that you love my sister and that you're going to work to deserve her. Because I've heard it all before and she always ends up getting hurt in the end," Ren said blandly, giving him a bored look as if he truly had heard similar speeches.

Sasuke faltered for a moment before he shook his head. "Nah, I don't exactly know where I was going with this but that wasn't where it. I won't lie to you and make you promises that I know I can't keep. With who I am and the life I live, I can't pretend that I'm going to change, because I'm not."

Ren gave him a look that part confusion and part disbelief. "Are you trying to make me like you because I can tell you right now that this conversation we are having isn't helping your cause."

Sasuke sighed, suddenly exhausted by the whole thing. "No, I'm not trying to make you like me. I was at the beginning, but I realize now that you aren't going to like me. I mean, look at me, I'm not the guy you bring home to the family and no matter how I try to present myself, that's not gonna change. I'm still the tattooed, single father who is the future leader of a very far-reaching motorcycle club. I can't possible see how I can spin this to make you see anything else than just exactly that."

Ren snorted humorlessly. "Well, at least you're honest."

Sasuke nodded slowly. "Yes, I do at least have that going for me," he muttered and they stood in silence for a moment before Sasuke took a deep breath.

"Which is why you know I'm telling you the truth when I say that I do love your sister. And my some miracle, she loves me back. Now, I'm selfish enough to say that I'm not going to let her go when a part of me knows she doesn't quite fit in my word just yet. But I love her and she loves me, so she's making the effort to learn the ropes, which is more than I ever hoped. She's concreting her place in my family and in my world."

"In your family? As the mother of your child?" Ren asked without looking at him.

Sasuke nodded slowly and gave a small shrug. "Yeah, as the mother of my child and my future wife," he said, causing Ren to turn and glare at him. Sasuke didn't give him a chance to speak against his intentions.

"And with the club. While you see us as just a bunch of rough-necks hanging around one another, the truth it we are just one giant family. I mean, look at this place," Sasuke said gesturing to the many photos that lined the walls as proof of the love the brothers shared for one another. "A family full of rough necks, yes, but once you're in you're in for life. We are fiercely loyal in a way that sometimes boarders on obscene. I'm sure you've already seen just how much Sakura is loved here. Anyone of us would put our lives on the line for her if a situation called for it. You can at least take comfort in the fact that she is loved by so many here and we treat her with respect."

Ren didn't seem to have anything to say to that because he had seen the truth in Sasuke's words. It was evident in the way that they treated her, the way they joked with her in a teasing way, that they cared for her as family. Ren still warred with how he felt about that exactly.

"You're future wife, huh? Do you really think you're going to marry her?" Ren asked instead.

Sasuke answered without hesitation. "Yes. When the time is right, I'll ask for her hand and she'll say yes. I know she will."

"Oh, you know she will?" Ren asked in a sarcastic manner. "You're very confident in yourself. What makes you think she will be okay with this life? What makes you think I will even let you marry her?" he asked.

Sasuke eyed him seriously. "Sakura has had her chance to run. She saw what my world was before we were together. She could have turned her back and run away. And then e entered into the relationship, with eyes wide open on both sides, and she knows exactly who I am. And she still loves me. She's already committed herself to me, without a ring. She knew what it meant to be my lady and then to be my old lady. And she still didn't run. Instead she held my hand."

"That still doesn't mean I'm okay with this," Ren spoke up.

It was Sasuke turn to give him a disbelieving look. "Well, then it's a good thing that mine and Sakura's relationship is between me and her. Last time I checked, I didn't need you're approval to love someone and neither does she."

Ren glared at him incredulously. "I'm the man of the family. It's my job to approve of the man my sister is going to spend her life with. You're supposed to be sucking up to me so that when you ask for my approval that I'll say yes."

Sasuke only laughed and eyed the other man strangely. He looked down at himself, taking in his own baggy clothes and his cut over top. He made a gesture to himself. "Do I really look like the kind of guy who asks permission for anything? If I want it, I'm going after it. Whether you approve of me and Sakura is not any of my concern. I have too much on my plate already than worrying about what you think of me. I love her, she loves me, and I'll take care of her until my dying breath. That has to be enough."

Sasuke expected outrage from the man in front of him. This was a very serious man and he had made it very clear that he didn't like him and that he was very protective of his sister. And Sasuke was metaphorically spitting in his face. Outrage would have been expected, almost acceptable. A punch in the face, too, if Ren was brave. Instead he got silence for a very long moment. Long enough for Sasuke's palms to sweat and wonder if he took it a step too far.

And then Ren smiled and gave a laugh, almost despite himself. He shook his head and buried his face in his hands for a moment before sighing and looking back at Sasuke. The raven held his breath, not sure what to expect from the man next to him.

"Do you at least make respectable money?" he asked, shocking the hell out of Sasuke.

Sasuke took a step back from the man, feeling more wary of him than ever before. He raised an eyebrow and answered slowly. "Well, I'm not a doctor like Sakura but I pay my bills and my brother's for that matter. I don't like accepting money from people, so I've never asked Sakura and she's never offered."

"How old are you?" he asked.

"Twenty-nine," Sasuke answered evenly.

"College?" Ren asked, as if he was going off a checklist in his head.

Sasuke shook his head. "No college."

Ren sighed and gave a small eye roll, as if this information was shame worthy. "Did you at least finish high school?"

Sasuke grimaced. "No, but I got my GED when I was in prison," he admitted.

Ren actually laughed at the emission, before he glanced at Sasuke and saw that he was being serious. He froze, before he furrowed his brows at him. "You're serious, aren't you?"

Sasuke gave a sheepish smile and shrugged. "It was only two and a half years, if that makes you feel better."

"It doesn't," Ren answered quickly, taking a deep breath, shaking his head and burying his face in his hands again. Sasuke waited, knowing that Ren needed a moment to process the information. He chewed on his lip for a moment, craving a cigarette more than ever while he heard Ren mutter to himself about his "stupid sister" and her "ex-con".

"I didn't really see a way to spin that so I just thought I would get it out in the open. It was years ago, when I was eighteen," Sasuke said after a moment.

"Still doesn't make me feel better," Ren mumbled into his hands. Sasuke nodded and said nothing more.

Ren fussed over the information for a long while before he slowly moving his hands down a bit. He kept them over most of his face, uncovering only his eyes so that he could look at the raven haired man next to him.

"Do I want to know what you did?" he asked hesitantly.

Sasuke made of show of thinking it over before he slowly shook his head, letting out an uneasy hiss from between clenched teeth. "Probably not."

Ren easily nodded and accepted the answer quickly. "Yeah, that's what I thought. Why don't we quit while we are ahead? Sound good?"

Sasuke nodded. "Yeah, that sounds good," he said. "Did you really have to go to the bathroom or were you just saying that to get me alone?" he questioned.

"Both," Ren admitted.

"Right this way," Sasuke said and then led the way to his personal suite in the clubhouse. Silently he thanked the gods that Gaara was staying in the room at the moment and it was clean when they entered.

Please leave your thoughts and let me know how i'm doing.