Night had long since fallen over the village, putting an end to the sudden wave of heat that had bothered the inhabitants during the day, when the sun shone bright into the sky and not a single cloud was in sight.

In the old Uchiha District—reconstructed and restored to its famous glory—a long figure sat on a windowsill in his house, gazing quietly into the large bedroom. He was dressed in the standard ANBU uniform, a porcelain mask that portrayed a wolf covering his face. Onyx eyes, heavy with emotion that was so uncharacteristic for him, peaked out from underneath it as they rested calmly on the woman lying on the bed, watching the way her chest rose and fell reassuringly with each breath she took.

It was a miracle that she was still there, he thought with a hint of bitterness swirling inside of him, still waiting for him. No matter how many times he came home after a long mission and found her there, in his house, radiating that steady warmth that he had become so addicted to, no matter how many times she told him she loved him or in how many ways she showed him that, he still found it hard to come to terms with the fact that this beautiful woman was his wife now, that he was no longer alone. He had someone to come back home to now.

A soft smile graced his flawless features as that thought fleeted across his mind. Without him there to hold her in his arms and keep her warm, she had twisted and turned in her sleep; as a result, her nightgown was now plastered to her body, and the small bump it would have otherwise hidden was now quite visible.

Correction—he didn't have just someone to come back home to. He had a family—his own family. A family he had created with this beautiful, kind creature that had come to mean so much to him. A creature that would always love him with everything she had in that small, fragile body of hers, but that would not—under any circumstances—take any of his bullshit. A creature that was strong and confident, and that was not afraid to speak her mind and talk back to him—not anymore.

It seemed to have become a habit by now, but they had had a fight before he left on his mission. Their personalities complemented each other perfectly, but they also clashed in the most astounding way, and the result was never nice. He sometimes wondered how in the world they managed to get along at all, but he always shoved that thought away. Their fights were stupid, meaningless. They were both too stubborn for their own good, too pushy and opinionated. And the fact that Sakura was now more emotional than usual did not help at all.

But as he sat here now, watching her sleep so peacefully, he had a hard time remembering what they had been fighting about, in the first place.

Swiftly jumping down from where he had been perched on the windowsill, he soundlessly walked further into the room, taking a seat on the bed, next to her sleeping figure. His heart clenched in his chest as his hand reached out to gently stroke her growing belly.

It was the most amazing feeling, he concluded, knowing that he was going to be a father, that he now had a family to wait for him, to be there for him… just like Sakura had always been. For as long as he could remember, ever since he met her, she had been there, by his side, ready to hold his hand if he let her, or to get rejected—only to retake her position once again, subjecting herself to the same painful process.

It had always amazed him, this determination of hers. No matter how many times he pushed her away or how badly he hurt her, she always came back, armed with more methods of persuasion, with more ambition and more love. And he had no words to describe how incredibly thankful he was for that—for her presence, for her persistence, for her love. Because if it hadn't been for her, he would have probably never managed to pull himself out of the darkness that his brother had cast upon him that faithful night. If it hadn't been for her, he would have never returned home, to Konoha, where he now knew he belonged. If it hadn't been for her, he would have gotten lost on the path of revenge, lost in a never-ending, vicious cycle that, looking back, terrified him.

Thankfully, she had been there, loving him like the very first day, supporting him, sticking by his side through thick and thin. He would have never made it without her, he mused as he gently brushed a lock of pink hair away from her face, stopping to caress the soft skin of her cheek in the process.

Against his silent wishes, she stirred at his feather-like touch, her instincts as powerful as ever, even after all the time that had passed since she stopped going on missions at his request. Her long lashes fluttered gently against her cheek, and her eyes slowly opened, pools of green gazing up at him in a manner that made it hard to believe that she had been unconscious only a few seconds before.

She was awake now—and aware of every thought and emotion that coursed through her body. There was weariness there, sadness over the fight they had had before he left, happiness that he had returned home safely once again, and love—so much love.

With a soft sigh, he bent down to kiss her softly, apologetically. Her slender arms wound their way around his neck, her small hands twisting in the hair at the nape of his neck as her lips melded to his.

"I'm sorry," he whispered when they parted, resting his forehead against hers.

A small laugh pushed its way past her lips as she realized just how familiar this situation was—for both of them. "I am, too," she confessed.

Her fingers traced his jaw-line tenderly, before a smile broke on her face, and an invitation that was long-overdue sounded out of her mouth.

"Come back to bed with me."