Just a quick one-shot that I love... more than I probably should. ;) Enjoy. ^_^


She promised herself she wouldn't cry.

Because there was no such thing as an easy ride, because every path had a bump in the road (or two, or five, or twenty-five), because every relationship was a road trip with no map, and because she just couldn't bear to admit she missed him already. Plus, she had taken the time to put mascara on–looking like a raccoon was her boyfriend's job, not hers.

'Don't cry, don't cry, please don't cry...'

Three sets of wary eyes watched her carefully as she clenched her fists, in an attempt to keep the tears at bay. Her friends said nothing, but she knew she was extra scary right now. This situation was familiar to them, in many more ways than one, and they knew how to tread carefully around her. Her rescuers said nothing as she grumbled to herself, mumbled murderously, and unleashed a string of curse words they'd never heard her utter prior to five months ago.

It kept her from falling apart, so she let it out. Her shrink said it was therapeutic.

The sky opened up and the last of the night's rain sprayed the edges of her vision (just a few droplets trickling over the awning above her) as she sighed deeply. She didn't want to get wet but would take a downpour for hours on end right now if it got her away from that annoying redhead she called her boyfriend.

Sakura pushed her way past the mild-mannered man in front of her, feeling better. Angrier yes, but at least she could deal with this emotion better. The street lights had already gone out and though she'd normally stop to enjoy the intertwining balance between the rising sun and setting darkness, she was too exhausted to care right now. Not to mention the fact that during the car ride, Sakura had developed a craving for oysters and broccoli, both dipped in chocolate. It sounded so delicious…

Shikamaru Nara–the affable, on and off again boyfriend of her obnoxious best friend–just ignored her fleeting glare as she trudged past him. On good days, he was quiet and a "go with the flow" kind of guy, and she was grateful for that right now. Her friend however, was irate.

"Sakura!" Ino Yamanaka screamed, slamming the door of the Toyota shut, and running over to her. "Let those bags go, right now!"

"I'm fine, Ino-pig."

"No, you're not!"

"Am so!"

"Are not!"

Sakura poked tongue at her, huffed noisily, and pulled on the bags, having snatched them out of Choji Akimichi's hands, and turned to leave the sidewalk. "Bite me."

"She's right," Choji said. "You shouldn't be lifting things, in your condition."

"Wrong thing to say, Choji," Ino winced.

But the heavy handed retort didn't come and Sakura decided to ignore them as she struggled with the bags, swaying as the strap curled around her right hand started to slip, the weight bringing it down. She groaned, letting it fall the ground–the rest of the bags quickly followed suit.

"Fucking hell!"

"Forehead, language!"

Sakura gave her best friend a foul glare before bursting into tears.

"Ah!" Ino pulled her into a tight hug and buried Sakura's head in her chest. "I'm sorry."

The pinkette just shook her head, indicating this wasn't Ino's fault.

"Shika-kun, get your lazy arse over here and grab these bags!" The blonde yelled, twisting her head to glare at her lazy boyfriend. "You too Choji."

"Hey," the larger figure behind her complained. "I'm doing my fair share."

"Yeah, sorry Cho," she said softly. He loved her nickname for him. Choji would never admit it though, so to cover his blush, he turned away and gathered up the last of Sakura's stuff in the back of Ino's car and nudged his best friend to get the lazy genius moving.

"Yeah, yeah," Shikamaru drawled, slowly pulling on the bags Sakura had dropped off the ground and leading the way up to the apartment he shared with Ino. He really hated this. This wasn't the first time that Sakura's sobbing voice on the other end of their house phone had gotten him up in the middle of the night (or early morning) just to drag her over here to sob some more. He cared, but it was an ungodly hour, and he didn't understand why Sakura didn't have these breakdowns of hers at a more respectable time of the day.

He already lived with one walking, talking, and emotionally immature woman. But at least Ino wasn't heavily pregnant.

The walk to the elevator was done in silence. The walk out of the elevator and down the hallway was done in silence. But once they got to the door, Choji pulled out a packet of barbeque chips (he didn't live with his best friend, just conveniently staying with them while his place was being fumigated), and Ino started pestering Shikamaru, who had apparently lost his keys.

Sakura ignored them, her eyes drifting lazily away from the door.

The old lady who lived across from the hall from Ino and Shikamaru wasn't rude or judgemental, and Sakura had tried several times to convince her to adopt her legally–as though it was easy to get a new grandparent. She wanted a new one... because her real ones thought she was a cat, or dog, or something that needed to be petted like a farm animal until she cooed, or some such nonsense. No governmental legislation would allow her to petition, apparently. So she was stuck with idiots, while pining for the sweet lady who gave her free candy.

And she was being completely hormonal–either one.

Sakura was surprised to find Mrs Mitarashi open her door as Shikamaru left it to the last minute again, to search his pockets for his keys.

"Sakura dear!"

The pinkette smiled back at her, knowing what the woman was about to ask. "Satsumi."

Unlike her daughter, Anko, Satsumi was a gentle soul.

"You and Gaara have another fight?"

She nodded, wiping at the tears now forming in her eyes; so much for not looking like a raccoon.

"What happened this time?"

Sakura let out a small, whinny sound. "He proposed."

As expected, Gaara came by later that day, intent on dragging Sakura back to their apartment. And as predicted, all she did was swear at him and give him some colourful reasons why he was never getting between her legs again.

Shikamaru wasn't home (he and Choji worked at the same firm), Ino was too wary of Sakura to open the door for the source of all her fury, and Sakura wouldn't buzz him in, so she yelled down at him from the apartment window, four storeys up. The only reason why she wasn't throwing things down at him, was because nothing of his things were at Ino's apartment. If some had been, he'd have drowned in them by now.

Gaara wasn't one for the screaming–he left that up to his girlfriend. He hated raising his voice. But when she swore at him like that, when she looked so stunningly gorgeous and angry, waving her hands about because she had nothing to throw at him, he couldn't help himself. Except, he didn't swear. He used to, long before he'd met Sakura, but not anymore.

"Go away!" She screamed.

And he wasn't remotely angry; he was frustrated, slightly amused, and worried, by her antics, but not angry.

"Come down here and make me!"

"Go fuck yourself!"

"Only if you join me!"

Sakura turned beet red as the gathering crowd, intrigued by their shouting match, laughed, while the aggravating redhead only smirked at her. So she swore some more at him, and then promptly slammed the window shut.

"You can't avoid him forever," Ino informed her, a full sixty seconds later.

Sakura tentatively snuck a look out the window, watching the redhead as he reluctantly left. It was just his lunch break, but he'd be back. She sniffled haughtily at this. "He's insane if he thinks I'm going to marry him."

"And you're insane if you think he's just going to let this go. He's just as stubborn as you are."

And he was leaving to give her time to calm down–Sakura knew exactly who she was dealing with. "I'm madder than he is," she admitted. "Colour me insane."

"No, you're not, don't say that."

It was a few more days before Sakura agreed to speak to him. Ino really should've known better than to let her guard down. She thought she knew them both well enough–alone, they were predictable, but together, they went bat shit crazy, arbitrarily so.

Still, no matter what had really spurred her fury this time, she knew it was just because of Sakura's crazy hormones. She would never say this to her little pinkette of course, since she still wanted to be godmother, but there was no way in hell she was going to let a few raging hormones and tantrums ruin what Sakura had going with that insanely aloof redhead. Their relationship had been so difficult to get started in the first place, and this was a mere bump in the road by comparison to those traffic jams.

Back to point: Sakura let Ino buzz Gaara in, and when the blonde opened the door for him, the pinkette was lying in wait. She'd gone insane. Ino could no longer deny it.

She'd had no idea that Sakura had packed her super soaker water gun.


"She drives me crazy."

After what seemed like an eternity (and because the lazy genius next to him had the patience of a saint), Gaara finally caved. Shikamaru wanted him to talk, but then, talking was troublesome, and something women did–not that he thought of himself as sexist, he just looked at the situation analytically and came to the most logical conclusion: they were all insane.

Gaara gave him weird look when he didn't immediately respond, so to satiate him, Shikamaru "hn'd" him. He didn't want to get into it, but a Sakura free apartment was at stake. He supposed... maybe, Gaara was his friend, so there was that too. He sighed. "She's female, they all do that."

And quiet descended again.

Gaara looked around at his friend's apartment. Ino had talked Sakura into a girl's day out so that Shikamaru could sneak him in (it was a Sunday, and therefore, neither of them were working). They didn't want to incur Sakura's anger, but the woman was almost seven months pregnant now, waddling like a heavily pregnant duck (if ducks were mammals, which they weren't), and needed to put her feet up, but refused to; all this to and fro couldn't be good for the baby.

At least this apartment had air conditioning.

Gaara was used to more scorching heat more than the temperate weather here in Konoha (being from Suna originally), but Sakura hated the heat. They were opposites, in every way. He looked up, absentmindedly, at the air conditioner, then at the clock on the wall. Ino was supposed to bring Sakura back fifteen minutes ago. Between shopping for the baby and waddling everywhere, Sakura was doing an admirable job of avoiding him.

Half an hour ago, Gaara had turned his friend's HD TV on to the sports channel, but he couldn't focus on it. Shikamaru was gazing at the screen, but his thoughts were clearly elsewhere–as they often were. But unlike the redhead, he really didn't have anything to be nervous about.

"They're back," Shikamaru said, a full sixty seconds later. He always knew when Ino was coming home–her voice carried, but he was often the only one to hear it, until she was outside the door. Funny that. "Stay out of the way until Ino barricades all the exits."

If Gaara didn't know Sakura as well as he did, he wouldn't have taken Shikamaru's implication of the imminent, attempt at escape, seriously.

But he knew her, and move his arse, he did.

"Oh good god," Sakura mumbled, when she followed Ino back into the apartment. "Shika's got the air con on again."

'As an excuse to close the windows,' Ino thought, remembering their plan.

"Sports?" The blonde pulled a face at her boyfriend, who's only greeting was a quick dart of his eyes from the screen, to her face, and then to the kitchen, where Gaara was waiting.

"Soccer," Sakura noted. It was Gaara's favourite.

Reluctantly, Shikamaru stood, switched it off, and moved toward his girlfriend. He'd already fortified the apartment against Sakura's limited means–for what little it was worth. Who couldn't outrun a pregnant woman in her third trimester? "It's time," he said.

Sakura's eyes widened as Gaara moved into view. Quickly, Ino darted over to the front door and locked it, pocketing the key. There was no kicking Gaara out, or escaping. Sakura was trapped.

Sakura turned on her. "Ino-pig!"

Ino gave her best friend a sheepish look. "We'll leave you two alone," she muttered, before pulling Shikamaru with her; they only went into their bedroom, since she wanted to eavesdrop on the imminent conversation/argument.

"I'm not talking to you," Sakura said immediately, crossing her arms over her chest.

"Then just listen."

She snorted.

"I'm not leaving here without you."

She snorted, again.

Gaara sighed, running a frustrated hand through his hair. "Have you even thought this through?"

"Have you?"

He resisted the urge to smirk at her for talking to him, when she'd said she wouldn't. "Come home."


"Ino and Shikamaru have their own lives," Gaara said, a little forcefully. "You can't keep doing this, with the baby so close."

Sakura uncrossed her arms and glanced at her best friend's bedroom door–it was slightly ajar, and she instinctively smiled at the thought of Ino eavesdropping. Gaara was right, but she didn't want to say it out loud. She'd already screwed up enough.

The feel of his warm hands on her skin startled her out of her reverie (she hadn't realised he'd been inching closer to her), and Sakura looked up into those pale eyes she loved so much.

"Come home," he repeated, "please."

She lowered her head; the tears came now, and she couldn't stop them. Gaara led her over to the couch and sat down next to her.

She groaned into his shoulder as he embraced her. "But I'm so fat, so ugly, so–"

"You're perfect."

Sakura sniffled. "Don't lie to me."

"I'm not lying." Gaara caressed her cheek, lifting her drooped head to look him in the eyes. "You've always been perfect to me." He wiped at her tears with his thumb. "And you always will be."

"You don't know that."

"I do."

"You don't."

"I do."

Sakura glared at him. She just knew he was saying, "I do" to get a rise out of her. "You're insane."

He smirked. "You love me anyway."

Besides, she was worse–they both knew it, but he kept it to himself, lest she act on her previous threats of bodily harm. It wasn't like she hadn't had a temper before her pregnancy hormones kicked in, just that it was more anger then, and never tears. He hated dealing with crying women. But this was a special circumstance–no way was he letting Sakura's mood swings keep him from her, let alone his unborn child.

Sakura nodded to his comment, and Gaara held her closer, tickling her earlobe with his breath. "Marry me," he whispered. He held tighter when she stiffened in his arms. "It won't be the end of the world, I promise." He stared into her eyes. "I love you, Sakura Haruno, and you are no dutiful housewife; I know that. I love that about you. You don't have anything to be afraid of–we've come too far to give up now, right?"

She had to be unafraid. "I can't," she whined, feeling like an idiot, even though her fear was understandable. She didn't want to turn into that submissive woman from those old, black and white movies and television shows that did everything for her husband. Her grams had done it, her mother was still doing it, and as the third generation of Haruno still alive and kicking, Sakura feared turning into those women, more than anything.

Gaara knew this.

She had a life, a medical career, and hopes beyond the kitchen sink. But still, she knew Gaara had the same concern–he didn't want a dutiful airhead, he wanted her.

Gaara inhaled deeply as he waited for her to process everything, wishing he was at home, and with his feet up; in this particular fantasy, Sakura was grinding him, while feeding him strawberries, but it wasn't helping him concentrate. Eventually getting impatient, he cupped her face, kissing her gently; suckling on her lower lip was more like it–just the way she liked it. He pulled away and rested his forehead on hers.

"I'll be there with you the whole time."

"Of course you will be," she said, smacking his chest. "Otherwise I'll be marrying someone else, and that's never going to happen."

He smirked down at her. "Is that a 'yes' then?"

She groaned. "Oh for fuck sake, yes!"

He ignored her profanity–it had been five months since she'd told him she was pregnant, and he was pretty sure she'd go back to being his semi-sweet, non-cussing, though still temperamental, girlfriend (nay, fiancee) when she could finally fit into her favourite clothes again. Sakura let out another string of colourful reasons why Kami hated her when the ring he'd been trying to get her to accept for months now, wouldn't fit on her finger.

Gaara looked up at the ceiling plaintively. 'Two more months to go.'

The apartment was blessedly Sakura free, and all was right with the world.

Shikamaru could finally breathe.

A week later, he was just starting to let his guard down.

He looked up from his Sudoku book as Ino came trancing out of their bedroom and pecked him on the cheek.

"She's officially, satirically, ecumenically, and matrimonially moved out," Ino told him. "Permanently this time." She winked at him, and flounced away happily.

Shikamaru snorted. "If she does that again, I'm not carrying her stuff this time."

'Please Kami, don't break them up again.'

"No-one expects you to," Ino called, knowing full well that he would if she gave him her puppy look; that, and she just knew this was never going to happen again anyway, rushed wedding vows notwithstanding. Some people were just meant to be.

Shikamaru cocked his head to the side. She sounded like she was in the bathroom. He stood up, shook his head, and moved to lean against the window–with a clear view of the park across the street, his eyes went instead to the few visible clouds from this vantage point.

He'd just finished imagining what a Konoha without this year's heatwave would be like when Ino ambled out of the bathroom; Shikamaru instinctively turned to face her.

"Shika?" She looked suddenly wary.

He was eternally grateful to Kami that he wasn't in Gaara's position. Hormonal women were far too troublesome and he wasn't looking to dig his own grave any time soon. He raised his eyebrows at his girlfriend, indicating he was listening.

"Uh, you better sit down," she said. He dutifully sat, knowing she would force him down eventually. Ino smiled tentatively at him. "I'm pregnant."

Kami was a bitch.


Sweet or corny? :)