Two Days Ago

There was something to never, ever having to pay for a drink that had Sakura in even better spirits than usual.

She knew she would have much to answer for later, when Ino, Naruto, Kiba, and Shikamaru caught up with them; it violated pretty much every law of sisterhood to abandon your best girlfriend to hang out solo with your studly, 6'2" boy-who-is-only-a-friend-even-though-you-love-him- and-everyone-knows.

But it was VEGAS. And you drink for free in the casinos, and the drunker she was getting, the less guilty she was feeling. Ino was bound to have a great time with the boys, and they would all meet up again at the hotel afterwards. As long as Sakura provided Ino plenty of details, she knew she would have her best friend's forgiveness.

Which was exactly how she ended up at the Bellagio, one hand around a chilly glass of vodka cranberry, the other threaded through Sasuke's. She was astonished at how tolerant he was being of her flirtatiousness; usually Sasuke rebuffed any attempt at playful intimacy with flames in his eyes, from her or any of the thousands of girls who thought him attractive enough to risk provoking his wild temper. But here, he was like a different person. Still cool and aloof, but responsive.

The exposed skin on her lower back still burned with his handprint.

"Teach me how to play poker!" she urged him excitedly, tugging him towards one of the tables. She was buzzed and he must have been, too, because he chuckled, a deep, rumbling chuckle that made her stomach twist and tie in knots. He followed, and stood behind her as she took an available seat at a group of poker players.

"Evenin, Miss," the dealer said with a smile, dealing her in. "The game's Five Card Stud."

Sakura looked at her cards, the numbers and suits blurring slightly thanks to her inebriation, and she realized she hadn't gotten any chips. About to point out her mistake, Sasuke slammed down a few red chips in front of her (when had he gotten those?) and began murmuring instructions in her ear.

His voice was a deep, dark distraction. How the hell did he expect her to retain anything he was saying when he was talking right into her ear like that?

"No limits, blah blah blah," he was saying. "Deuce to seven, blah blah blah."

All she could possibly focus on was the rumbling timbre of his voice. He stood so close behind her that she could feel the heat radiating off his body. Freshly showered, he smelled like aftershave and cologne and other sexy things she'd come to associate exclusively with Sasuke Uchiha. Vaguely aware that it was her turn, she fumbled to reach for the deck to draw a card.

"Uh, all in!" she said brightly, shoving all her chips to the center of the table. Behind her, Sasuke groaned.

"You idiot," he growled in her ear. "You've got nothing!"

"Shh," she shushed him, partially because he was going to ruin her turn, and partially because if said one more thing in her ear, she was going to throw him on the cards table and have her way with him.

Thankfully, their exchange had gone unnoticed by the three other players sitting at the table. Intimidated by a girl throwing in all her money on the first turn, they folded, while Sakura revealed a pair of three's and a shiny smile of victory.

"Have a little faith in me, Sasuke," she chided him, pulling in her winnings. "Hey, get me a drink?"

Sasuke smirked and nodded curtly, letting his fingers trail across her back before he headed towards the bar. Skin on fire, a terrifying heat stealing between her legs, she shuddered and downed the last of her vodka cranberry. That was not an innocent touch, nor was it an accident, because Sasuke Uchiha never had any accidents. He did things purposefully, intentionally…

"First time in Vegas, kid?"

She looked to her right and saw a large guy in his mid-fifties, cigar dangling from the corner of his mouth, giving her the once-over, waiting to be dealt in. His eyes lingered a bit too long on her body, but she figured that when you wore, in Sasuke's words, a black condom for a dress, you deserved looks from creepy old men. Deciding to be nice though and humor him, she replied, "Yeah, is it that obvious?"

The man chuckled as he received his cards. "Pretty thing like you? I wager a guy like me would've noticed a girl like you before if you'd been here. Now what say we get on outta here after this hand, huh? I can show you the sights."

"Thanks anyway," she replied, looking at her own cards, and wishing Sasuke would hurry the hell up already. "I'm here with my…boyfriend." She tripped a little over the word, because it was flat-out untrue to call Sasuke that, but he was acting sort of like a boyfriend that night. It wouldn't be that far a stretch to assume they were together if anyone who didn't know them saw them tonight.

Besides, you told creepy guys you had a boyfriend, because some-guy-who-I'm-not-technically-with doesn't sound anywhere near as intimidating.

"He's a kid, baby," the man laughed, motioning to the dealer to raise the bet. "I can show you Vegas like a man." His meaty hand dropped to her thigh, and he smirked at the scandalized look on her face. "How 'bout it?"

Furious, she bared her teeth at him in the universal symbol of aggression, pushed his hand off her leg, and slammed her cards down on the table without even looking at them. The other players looked slightly nervous as they all revealed their cards, and the dealer pointed towards her to show she'd won, with a full house.

"How 'bout never, dick," Sakura snapped, grabbing piles of chips into her arms and stalking away from the table.

She met Sasuke in the middle of the carpet; he looked confused with two drinks in his hands.

"Don't worry, just some creep," she said carelessly, grabbing the vodka cranberry. He growled a little under his breath and took a step towards the table she'd just fled, but she stopped him, a hand on his chest just because she suspected he'd let her get away with it tonight. "What do you want to play?"

"Tch." Sasuke still looked pissed, but he knocked back the whiskey sour in his hand and headed towards the craps table.

Sakura took a moment to admire him as he walked. There was a confident strut to his step, and even though the floor was terribly crowded, people moved out of the way for him without him needing to ask. His gaze was detached and arrogant, and he didn't seem to notice the hundreds of girls eyeing him openly; everyone in the casino, it seemed, was beneath his notice.

Everyone, she noted delightedly, but her. He looked back to make sure she was keeping up, and smirked.

"You can blow on my dice now, if you want," he said, and the way he said it was almost teasing. Sakura smiled as wide as she could when he was handed two dice. He opened his palm for her, and she batted her eyelashes before pursing her lips and exhaling.

Okay, now she knew she was drunk. Because she had to have imagined the way his eyes darkened when he watched her blow. Keeping eye contact, he threw the dice almost carelessly down the length of the table.

"Eight!" the dealer crowed, and everyone around them cheered. Sakura vaguely realized that Sasuke had won everyone in the vicinity quite a bit of money with that lucky roll, but at the moment, money was the last thing on her mind. Head swimming with alcohol and something like fatal attraction, she felt her traitorous gaze drop to Sasuke's lips and then back to his eyes.

His eyebrows raised, like he knew exactly what that meant, and a slow smirk pulled at his mouth. He took the chips, stuffed them in his pocket, and wound his arm around Sakura's waist, summarily making her melt.

"Let's cash in," he murmured in her ear.

It was way, way, way too early for that, and both of them seemed to have hit quite the lucky streak. But really, Sasuke could have told her, "Let's kidnap an American diplomat and hold him for ransom in the basement," and she would have done it no questions asked. Just as long as he was using that voice.

She was thoroughly, obviously, and embarrassingly aroused, and emboldened by both the Vegas atmosphere and the abundance of free drinks; tapping into a reserve of courage she had never before dared to access, she dragged her fingertips lightly across his neck before standing on tiptoe to whisper back, "And find somewhere a little more…private."

Okay, there was NO imagining the look on his face, one of pure straight desire, and it made her stomach flip to know that she was the cause for it. His arm around her waist suddenly wasn't enough. She wanted more, needed it even, and if he didn't start moving his hands she was going to go crazy.

Figuring she would need a bit more vodka in her blood if things were really headed that way, she knocked back her fourth (or was it fifth?) drink of the night and left the glass on the table.

Along with any misgivings.

Sasuke led them outside onto the Strip, and they seemed to be headed back for the hotel, but Sakura stopped him.

"Ino and the boys'll be there, probably," she said, managing not to slur her words too badly. "Let's find, like, somewhere else. Or whatever."

He chuckled, apparently amused at her drunkenness, or just equally drunk in his own right. Either way, he pulled her along further down the busy sidewalk, the come-fuck-me heels she was wearing now seeming like quite the oversight.

"My feet hurt!" she whined. "Can we sit somewhere or something?"

"Lazy," he retorted without missing a beat.

"You try wearing these and walking all over creation!" she snapped, but it lacked any real animosity, because this was fucking VEGAS, and there was really nothing to get her upset in the first place.

"It's no one's fault but yours that you dressed so impractically."

"Do you get, like, a boner from being such a condescending asshole all the time?"

His smirk turned absolutely wicked, and she blushed as she realized her mistake. Then tripped. In a cliché, drunk-girl-throwing-herself-obnoxiously-at-a-boy way, too, right over her come-fuck-me heels and right into Sasuke's arms.

"You're surprisingly agile, considering how drunk you are," she giggled, as he pulled her back upright, his hands hot and fiery on her waist. In a rare (drunken) moment of courage, she leaned in close, grinding her hips lightly against his. The friction made her gasp, and drew a ragged groan from Sasuke that in any sober circumstances, he would have been able to suppress.

I should've gotten him drunk YEARS ago, she thought dazedly.

"Sakura, you…" he exhaled, his breath fanning against her forehead. His grip on her waist tightened. "You're so fucking hot."

Never, in a million years, did Sakura think Sasuke Uchiha would ever say something like that to her. There was no mistaking where all this was going, and she was too excited to feel any kind of reluctance. There would be time to regret all this in the morning, right?

"You're hot, too," she breathed back.

"We shouldn't do this," he ground out, inches away now, his hands sliding up her sides to settle in her hair. "This is..we'll regret this tomorrow, won't we?"

So nervous, so unsure, so out of control…all things Sasuke never was, but in the right place, under the right circumstances, under the right influence…

"Sasuke I don't think we'll even remember this in the morning," she giggled.

That seemed to be all the clearance Sasuke needed, anyway. Right there, on the Strip in front of the fountains, in the middle of the night and in plain view of everyone, Sasuke kissed Sakura for the first time.

It was like magic, or maybe she was just that drunk. But she saw the proverbial fireworks, heard the proverbial gospel choir, as one word: "Finally!" exploded through her mind over and over and over. His hands wandered, no longer nervous, and entirely certain, and she tried desperately to memorize the planes of his chest over his shirt. All pain in her feet was forgotten, all rational thought entirely abandoned. All that mattered in that moment was kissing the life out of Sasuke Uchiha, because she was sure that once the alcohol was filtered through his system, she would never get another chance.

If this was all she would ever get from Sasuke Uchiha, then she needed to make the most of it.

Of course, if she knew that just twelve hours later, she would find herself the legal wife and partner of Sasuke Uchiha, with absolutely no memory of the incident, maybe she would have tried things just a bit differently.

note.. gone for awhile on this one, huh. gonna pick up next chapter, yafeelme. love youuuu!

xoxo daisy :)