A/N: My sprained wrist turned out to be broken and Sandy kind of through me for a loop, so this be it! I wanted to wrap the story up all nice and neat for all of my wonderful readers, but instead of pretty wrappers and a bow you guys are getting a cardboard box and some duct tape. Sorry about that. Thank you for sticking with me. I truly enjoyed all the wonderful reviews and amazing support I got from everyone.
"You know... I think the council did this on purpose."
Sasuke smirked, continuing to stack books in the trunk before him. "Yes. They planned to have Root eliminated, then planned for Sai to become an informant, then they decided to ship you back to Sound because they made you the best medic in the world because they also planned for everybody to be injured and you to be the only hope."
There was a pause as Sakura stared at him. He could feel the hairs on the back of his neck stand up, a sure sign that she was about to attack him in some way, but he kept his back to her. Something was thrown in the suitcase so hard it toppled over, spilling the contents onto the floor. Impressive considering Sakura was packing her clothes.
Sasuke turned to look at it, then up at the woman sitting on the edge of the bed. Their bed, and the fact that it was theirs still thrilled him.
But Sakura was packing to go.
"It's not forever," he said, kneeling at her feet. "You'll be back before Ino's wedding."
"You're too damn calm about this."
Truthfully, he wasn't calm at all. He was exhausted and had no energy to be angry that Sakura was being sent to Sound for three months. Root was mostly taken care of- the members either detained, scattered, or dead. Danzo had remained at large for a very harrowing three months, but Naruto, in a sudden swell of paternal panic ("He will not take my son's parents from him and so help me if you try to stop me teme I will rip you a new one") had set off to find and destroy him.
Neji had gone with him. Hiashi had surprised them all by asking to go as well. Sasuke had told him that there would be enough bloodshed if Naruto got a hold of the man responsible for so much pain. He didn't need a father hacking his son in law to bits on top of it all.
"He wants to protect his family," Hiashi said. "Our family. I'm going with him, if only to make sure my daughter gets her husband back."
The peace was tentative, the olive branch small, but it was there, and it was enough to hold on to. Naruto had nearly exploded when Sasuke informed him Hiashi was going, but calmed down enough to snicker maliciously when told he was in charge, not the Hyuugas. (Neji had gone pale at the news, much to Tenten's amusement.)
They were gone for a month. Hinata spent a lot of time with Sakura, worried that Naruto would miss the birth of his son. She was an emotional mess- to the point that Sasuke would come home to either sobs or something being thrown at his head because he was male. There was no in between. He spent as much time as he could in his office.
Sakura called him a coward. He agreed and locked the door.
The day Hinata moaned and clutched her stomach was the day they got the news. Danzo was gone, Root was scattered to the wind, and everyone was coming home.
Naruto appeared in the hospital a split second before the thin wail of an infant split through the air. A blonde haired squirming bundle was handed to him and suddenly it hit him that he was a father, a dad, he had a son all of his own, a wife, a family. An honest to god family.
Sasuke didn't know who cried first, Naruto or the baby, but Sakura had laughed at them all and told Hinata her son was beautiful.
"We still have to name him," the tired woman reminded her husband.
"You could name him Hiashi," Sakura suggested wickedly.
"Not in a million years," was the response.
Sasuke held his godson carefully, waiting to see if he'd burst into tears like Hizashi had and wondering if that was the effect he had on babies or just Hyuuga babies.
"Haru," Naruto said. "After his godmother."
The smirk slipped from Sakura's face, whatever quip she was about to make dying on her tongue. Touched, she could only stare at the couple before her.
"Haru," Hinata agreed. "After the reason he's here."
Sasuke managed to hold Haru in one arm, using the other to wipe Sakura's tears.
"I-" she tried, sniffling. "Oh my god guys. I'm honored." She wiped furiously at her eyes. "Dammit, you made me cry."
Naruto grinned, taking his son back from Sasuke. "Hear that kid? You made Auntie Sakura cry."
Sakura gave a watery laugh, burrowing herself in Sasuke's side. Naruto waited for the other man to stiffen up or push her away, but Sasuke pulled her close like it was the most natural thing in the world, his face awed like he couldn't believe she was there.
"Aunt?" she asked. "Isn't godmother enough?"
"You're marrying my brother," Naruto said dismissively, bouncing Haru. "That makes you an aunt."
Sasuke maintained that he did not cry and that Naruto was being insane as usual. He'd just buried his face in Sakura's hair for no reason, that's all. He liked to do that.
But he didn't bother to correct Naruto. They were brothers, and Haru his nephew. Blood didn't matter.
But now Sakura was leaving.
It was only for three months (it had never seemed longer) and she'd be back before winter even really hit, but she was still going. She would be far away from him. Too far. Way, way too far.
"I'm using a question," Sakura said suddenly.
Sasuke blinked before his mind reminded him about the twenty questions they'd had a lifetime ago, before Haru even came into the world.
"Are you going to miss me?"
She sounded meek and unsure and for a second Sasuke could only stare at her.
Wasn't it obvious? Didn't he give himself away hundreds of times a day? Didn't she know?
"Every day," he promised, raising slightly to kiss her on the mouth, to show her just how much.
Fingers threaded through hair, bodies were pulled close, two hearts thrumming in time with each other, and Sasuke was left astounded at himself, at the most obvious thing in the world that he'd never said, never breathed a word of. But she knew. She had to know.
But he said it anyways.
"I love you."
People are stupid. I hate people.
This is not new. Though I admit I am surprised that you decided to hate the stupid people all of a sudden. Don't you usually just roll your eyes and walk away? What brought on the sudden onslaught of wrath?
I repeat- people are stupid. That's why I hate them. I like a few of them selectively, but in a large group, they're ultimately hateable. How's our nephew? I miss him already.
My future wife hates people. Good to know. Haru is fine. As we speak he's drooling in his baby seat next to me, ripping up what I'm pretty sure is an important document because he refuses to let go of it. Any attempts to pry it from his fingers has resulted in screaming. He misses you too.
My future husband hates people too. We shall conquer the world with our people hating ways.
Has Ino driven Shikamaru crazy with last minute wedding details yet? She's been writing to me nonstop about flowers and music and food. I got three letters from her yesterday. Three! In one day! And she still calls me once a day every day. Honestly, if I wasn't at the hospital so much I think she'd call more, but she's busy being a medic too. I don't think she sleeps. Does Shikamaru know he's marrying a vampire?
You and your future husband will be very happy together.
Shikamaru? She's been driving me crazy with this wedding crap. Apparently I'm actually in the damn thing. I wonder who gave her the idea of having me as a groomsman.
As for the vampire thing, I'm pretty sure he's aware. If not, he has a nasty surprise waiting for him during the honeymoon.
...and I really didn't want to think about Ino's honeymoon, so thank you for that.
I know we will be. He's amazing and I'm awesome. We'll make it work.
Oh don't be such a grump. I actually had to talk her out of making you stand on her side since you're more her friend that Shikamaru's. The thought of you in a purple tuxedo, however, was very tempting (Tenten was in hysterics at the thought of you in a dress).
Ha. I can send you improper mental images from a different country.
The only improper mental images I want in my head are of you that last night. I'm fairly certain we did a few illegal and anatomically impossible things.
I have several responses to that, but I think they'd all get censored.
Haru's been eating your letters.
You're not supposed to let a baby eat paper! Wait, you're not feeding them to him are you? If you don't want the letters just throw them out. My words are not baby food.
I miss you.
He's Naruto's offspring. I can't control what he puts in his mouth anymore than I can control what Naruto puts in his mouth. I don't know how Hinata manages to stay sane between the two of them. I look away for a second and Haru's eating something and Naruto's destroyed my pens. It's like I have two genetically linked jinxes in my office.
I miss you too. Be safe.
I'm always safe. You, on the other hand, are like a trouble magnet or something. I don't want you anywhere near anything dangerous until I'm back home where I can heal you and then beat you.
I love you.
You'll be home soon enough. Then you can try to beat me all you want. You'll fail, but you can try. You won't believe how big Haru's gotten (it's all the letters he's been eating. Maybe your words have spawned some kind of gene mutation in him or something).
After all the insanity with Ino's wedding, I'm tempted to make her plan ours as punishment for what she's been putting me through in your absence, but I think she'd make me wear pink. Come home soon.
I love you too.
I will pull some cookie dough out. Don't think I won't.
Thank you for the pictures of Haru. They're adorable! He has gotten big. What have you been feeding him besides my letters? Also, the picture of Naruto asleep sitting up was great. My other pictures of him are blurry- I can never get him to sit still. There's some kind of poetic justice in him having a kid as energetic as he is, but I feel sorry for Hinata.
You must be annoying Ino. She told me she hasn't decided if she's going to beat you with her shoes or force you into a glitter tux.
I'm using a question.
When you come home, will you marry me?
I'm not asking because the Council expects us to, or because of the arrangement. I'm asking because I love you and I want to spend the rest of my life with you. I want to be your husband. I want you with me, home, in my life, in my bed, forever.
Pay no attention to the water drops on this letter. It was... raining. That's all.
And I'm using my last question.
If the council hadn't arranged this, if we'd just been two strangers who happened to meet, would you marry me?
It's still raining.
And you you still have one question.
It's raining here too.
You'll be home soon.
How many children do you want? Our nephew needs playmates who aren't Hyuugas.
I can't wait to be home next week. I can't wait to see you.
There's nothing wrong with Hyuugas and you know it. Even Hiashi has really turned around. I guess that's what a grandchild can do to you. And grandnephews. And having Naruto as a son in law. How does he manage to win people over while simultaneously making them want to kill him?
As for children, I want at least five. Or six. Twins run in my family.
I think I can handle five or six green eyed small ones running around. We'll get started on that as soon as you get home.
P.S. You're not serious about the twin thing. Are you?