Notes: Thank you to Sakura's Unicorn for reading 458594201 versions of this chapter and listening to me whine. Writing is hard, you guys!


"First day tomorrow," announced Sakura. She was stacking the dirty dishes on the kitchen table and carrying them over to Sasuke at the sink. He turned the faucet down, having trouble hearing her over the spray. "Are you nervous?"


Setting two bowls in the sink, Sakura rolled her eyes at him. "Don't act all tough with me." She bumped his shoulder teasingly. "I've seen your soft, gooey center, remember?"

Sasuke scoffed, but as he scrubbed the dishes, his movements became more and more robotic. He wasn't nervous, he told himself. At least, not in the way Sakura meant. The Police Academy would be a mix of book learning and physical training. He'd always been a good student, but what if he wasn't enough? What if he didn't possess the qualities to become Police Chief?

Sasuke was a realist. He knew he wouldn't walk into the Police Academy and be a pro. There would be a learning curve and he'd have to climb the ladder just like everyone else. Being Uchiha didn't mean he got a free pass, but he liked to think it meant he would have a talent for police work, that it was in his blood. He was terrified to learn differently. What if he couldn't uphold the Uchiha standard? What if he couldn't follow in his father's footsteps?

"Sasuke-kun? Hey, you okay?" Sasuke jerked back to reality, realizing he'd stopped washing dishes completely. Sakura curled her hand around his neck and pressed a kiss to the corner of his mouth. "What's going on in that head of yours?"

"I'm just thinking too much. It's nothing." He vigorously scrubbed a bowl, actively avoiding Sakura's eyes.

"I know that look," said Sakura. "It's not nothing. Talk to me."

Talk to me. Sasuke dropped the bowl and sponge into the sink, gripping the edges of the metal basin. He didn't like having this dance with Sakura. 'Talk to me' was her subtle way of reminding him that they were a team now. He didn't have to shoulder his worries alone. The moment she uttered those words, he knew she wouldn't stop needling him until he opened up.

The most frustrating part was that he always felt better afterward. "I hate when you're right."

"I'm always right. I thought you'd be used to it by now." Sakura was grinning from ear to ear as Sasuke shook his head at her. She raked her hands through his hair soothingly. "What's wrong?"

Sasuke wrestled with what he was feeling, trying to figure out how to word it. I'm worried I'll fail, he thought. I'm worried I'll lose another connection I have with my clan and I've already lost so many.

"What happens if I'm no good?"

"Nonsense. You're-" Sakura was interrupted by a tap on the kitchen window. They both looked up, instantly recognizing the sound. Sure enough, perched outside the window was a tiny sparrow. Sakura sighed. "Looks like we have a mission."

They turned to get their ANBU gear and report to Naruto when Sasuke froze. "You have a mission."

Sakura jumped. "Oh...right."

It was her first mission without him. Sasuke felt his stomach drop to his toes. "Are you sure you're okay with this?"

"It's a little late now, isn't it?" Sakura shook her head. "I'll be fine. You'll be fine. Before you know it, we'll be used to this."

Her voice was stiff. Sasuke was glad she didn't believe that anymore than he did.

"Come here," he said, hooking his hands around her elbows and pulling her into him. He kissed her once, a quick peck on the lips before he wrapped his arms around her, holding her tight. He took his time to memorize the way her body felt against him, to pick out the dark green flecks in her eyes, to relish the toe-curling feeling of her lips against his and the taste of her on his tongue. "Be safe."