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Unspoken

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Sweat slipped hotly between her shoulder blades, and her juices ran sticky between her thighs. A hand flexed against her hip. His grip was nearly tight enough to bruise, but her body was painstakingly crafted for ungentle treatment. 

Her breath caught on a gasp when his hips rolled like so . Stars burst into a kaleidoscope of color behind her closed eyelids and the words I love you were swept away by the current of his breath, of his kiss before they could spill from her lips.

She was glad for this. Love like hers was meant to be silent, and unnamed. Only sounds of passion, of bodily pleasure were allowed here.

There was no point in holding her tongue, now tamed with the memory of The Last Time, as it unfurled to say, “ Sasuke-kun .”

Her voice, keening and breathless as it was when she called to him, pulled from his throat a groan and from his body a newfound ferocity as he thrust into her from below. 

Sakura rarely felt powerful when next to him. Standing beside Sasuke in battle meant accepting that you were the weaker party, for he was a king-- some might say a god-- among shinobi.

They weren’t shinobi here. Here, in a bed too soft in a room too small, Sakura usurped Sasuke from his throne with a kiss on his jaw, and he praised her with every undulation of his hips, his thickness spreading her wide and reaching deep inside as an offering.

Beautiful ,” Sasuke hissed, and Sakura opened her eyes to gaze at deep grey and lavender, fixed on her face. If her face had not already been flushed with pleasure, she was sure it was now.

He used his lone hand on her hip to lift her up and over him, and she whimpered at the loss, feeling empty.

Sakura did not suffer for long, as Sasuke swiftly (but gently, so gently) turned her over onto her stomach and sank back inside. Their voices mingled on a moan and Sakura was seeing colors again, the new angle making her eyes roll back as she clawed for purchase in the bedsheets with one hand, the other coming behind to grasp the hair at the nape of her lover’s neck. 

Oh ,” Sakura gasped following a particularly deep thrust, tugging mindlessly at the dampened locks gripped between her fingers. Her inner thighs quivered as the man above her filled her ruthlessly, so strong and so deep that she was no longer sure where she ended and he began.

The brush of soft, sweat-dampened sheets against her tightened nipples and the sound of wet flesh meeting flesh threw her over the edge, Sasuke’s name exploding from her lips as her body shook and thrashed in his unwavering grip.

Yes ,” his voice rumbled in her ear, and she swore she could feel the vibrations of his chest pressed so snuggly against her back. 

She came down from her high slowly, falling into the aftershocks that kept her a quivering mess in his arms. He hadn’t slowed and she was more sensitive after an orgasm that stole her breath and possibly her good senses.

“Sasuke-kun,” she murmured, whining, as he continued his fast, powerful rhythm. “I - please .”

Sakura had no idea what it was she was begging for, but Sasuke straightened so he stood on his knees behind her, his hand moving from her hip to the back of her head to grasp her tangled hair and pull her up until her back rested against a smooth, muscular torso. 

A single arm rose to hook around the back of his neck, clinging to him as he thrust into her as if she was the last woman he would ever have. And perhaps she wished she was. 

Another orgasm, intensified by its swiftness and her sensitized flesh swept through her, causing her to illicit a choked curse. The hand on her hair tugged once more, forcing her head back so Sasuke could ravish her mouth, swallowing her helpless moans and gasps. She drank her name from his mouth when he pushed deep inside and stilled, his muscles jerking and chest heaving as he emptied himself inside her. 

 

They stayed like that for a long moment, Sasuke still pressed deep inside of her and their breaths mingling until Sakura’s well-loved body could no longer remain upright. Her arms quivered as she brought them down and her upper body sagged forward slightly. They both shivered when Sasuke slowly slipped from her core.

She fell heavily on the bed, cheek pressed against the rumpled sheets and tried to catch her breath. She felt Sasuke drop down beside her.

“Towel?” Sasuke spoke after a few comfortably quiet moments. His voice was deep and gruff and it made her body warm all over.

“Yes, please,” Sakura sighed, not yet moving from her sprawled position. The man she loved had seen all of her, in every position at this point. There was no room for modesty nor embarrassment.

When she heard his quiet footsteps return, she did not get the chance to turn around and accept the wet cloth. Instead, she felt the warm fabric press against her intimately as he wordlessly wiped away the evidence of their coupling. 

Sakura could not help a sharp gasp and deep flush as Sasuke stroked the towel between her thighs, and between her folds. The caring gesture made her heart flutter like the butterflies she used to chase with Ino in springtime, but she pushed the feeling away. 

“I’m supposed to train with Naruto at dawn,” his voice came softly, but for how it ignited her blood he might as well have been shouting in his rich baritone. “Do you want me to stay?” 

Yes, she thought. That’s all I’ve ever wanted .

“No, it’s okay,” she said, clearing her throat a bit as she sat up and toyed with the rumbled bedding around her. She saw him toss the warm towel he’d used to clean her up into her wicker hamper and blushed. “I have to be up early as well, for my shift at the hospital. I should get some sleep, it’s going to be a long one.” 

Sasuke’s brow furrowed slightly for a moment before he rolled his eyes, “You work too much.”

Sakura laughed, sheepishly toying with her mussed hair, “Everyone always says that…”

He rolled his eyes again and began pulling on his clothes. Once his shirt was pulled over his head, he approached the bed.

Sakura tilted her head up to meet his gaze and he bent to take her mouth, kissing her senseless. She felt breathless and hot all over again when he finally pulled away.

“Perhaps I’ll see you after your shift, then,” he said quietly, gaze still lingering on her lips. They dipped every so slightly and quickly to her still-bare chest before rising to look into hers again as he continued, “unless you’re too tired by then.”

“We’ll see,” she mumbled, slightly lost in his intense gaze. A shadow of a smile shaped his lips before he straightened fully and made his way toward her door.

“Good night, Sakura,” he left with one more heated glance over his shoulder. 

Sakura would never tell anyone that she allowed herself a few girlish squeals into her pillow before sloppily replacing her bedding and taking a shower.

~

If Sakura was especially chipper and smiley the next morning, earlier than anyone had any right to be so, no one questioned it. Perhaps it was because her staff and patients were used to it and --hopefully-- simply believed she was a morning person.

Sakura had no good reason to still be so excited on the mornings after. At this point, being brought to mind-blowing orgasms by the man she loved had been happening nearly every other night for the past 4 months. Younger Sakura would faint at the thought.

Sakura felt her smile slip a bit as she shut her office door behind her. Younger Sakura would not have exactly imagined this... arrangement. The Sakura who was a genin and who loved Sasuke so much she would have left her village for him would settle for nothing less than marriage at this point. Fucking (not so) secretly in the late hours of the night wasn’t that.

Sakura shook her head to physically force the thoughts away. She was happy. Sasuke was home, he was redeemed and he cared for her. He wanted her, and if it was only physical and she was settling… that was fine.

Sakura was a woman now. She could fuck her teammate that she loved since childhood casually all she wants. She had needs and Sasuke met most of them.

She would stop loving him-- being in love with him eventually. For now, it didn’t matter.

It was what she told herself, at least, as she stared blankly down at her stacks of paperwork. The residual pleasure of the night before was fading in the light of the early afternoon.

A few swift raps at her window caused Sakura to whip her head to the side violently. Sasuke was perched on the edge, blinking at her as he waited to be let in.

She scampered over and unlocked the window, allowing Sasuke to slip in gracefully. He met her gaze for a moment--long enough to make her feel warm in the face-- before holding up a bag of takeout to her.

“What’s this?” she asked, curiously. He simply stared at her, pushing it closer to her until she took it with a mumbled and slightly confused thank you.

“I figured you would forget to have lunch,” Sasuke said plainly, meandering casually to stand near the bookshelf behind her desk. “Umeboshi onigiri and dango from that restaurant Naruto and Hinata took us to last week.”

Sakura hurriedly sat down, hastily opening the bag in delight at his words. “Thank you, Sasuke-kun! This is so kind of you… but for the record I did have something to eat prepared.”

When Sasuke looked at her over his shoulder, she proudly gestured to the two ration bars and water placed beside her paperwork. He stared at her blankly until her smile fell and she turned her back with a huff.

“This is real food,” he said. She felt him approach just as she was taking a peek at the sweet-smelling dango, seriously considering having her dessert first. She was about to reach for the stick of sugary goodness when she felt a long finger brushing her hair away from her neck.

Her gaze shot up to Sasuke, startled. His eyes were focused on his own hand, as his index finger toyed with the hair behind her ear before drawing a line down the side of her neck with a feather-light touch. 

“Do you want me to come over tonight?” he asked quietly, something in his voice making Sakura want to shiver. It didn’t help that she was sure that his gaze was locked on her jumping pulse.

“Yes,” she whispered, too overwhelmed with anticipation to play coy or act as if she had to think about it. She couldn’t bring herself to care if Sasuke knew that he could occupy all of her nights...all of her time if he wished to.

He finally met her gaze, a definitely heated, but mostly unreadable look on his face. “Hn. I’ll meet you here when you’re done with work.”

“Okay,” she said, rather dizzily if she said so herself. She caught the barest hints of what could have been a smile before he shunshined away, leaving behind a cool breeze from her window and a simmering heat between her thighs.

 

“So, the Uchiha still fucking you senseless every night?” Ino swept into the break room, nearly causing Sakura to spill her entire cup of stifling hot coffee.

“Ino!” Sakura hissed, whipping her head side to side to see if there was anyone else in earshot. “ Shut up you loud-mouthed pig .”

“Ooh,” Ino purred, “spicy. Maybe he didn’t come by last night after all.”

“Ino,” Sakura growled, taking a gulp of her drink to hide her reddening cheeks. “Please… it’s not nightly , I do have a life.”

Ino snorted, preparing a cup of tea. “If I had to choose between a social life and dick …”

“We all know what you would choose, Ino,” Sakura muttered.

I would choose hot nights of pure passion with the man I’ve been in love with since I was, like, 11,” Ino finished her thought. 

“Too much of a good thing is dangerous,” Sakura mutters.

“Nope, you’re wrong,” Ino quipped, flipping her long ponytail. “You should overindulge in the good things. Especially when you’re like us. Life is short, and then we’re shinobi.”

“I am definitely indulging,” Sakura smirked. She and Ino stared at each other for a moment before sharing a grin.

“I hope you know I’m going to be the maid of honor at you and Sasuke’s wedding,” Ino said, an evil smile on her face. “You pick anyone else, and I’ll kill you Forehead.”

Sakura’s smile slipped a bit. “Ino, you know it isn’t like that. We are just...two adults enjoying each other. That’s it. We’re not going to be anything more than that.”

When Ino looked up from her tea to level Sakura with a serious stare, she knew she’d been caught. Hook, line, sinker. 

“You know that for a fact, Sakura?” Ino asked quietly, still holding Sakura’s gaze with those icy blue eyes. 

“Yes, Ino,” Sakura said, holding her gaze, even as the hurt and shame curdled like poison in her stomach. “I know that for a fact, and I still choose to be involved with him despite it.”

“I won’t judge you for a good fuck,” Ino said, shrugging. “Even if it’s with all the emotional strings. But I want to make sure you’re being honest with yourself and Sasuke. If you still love him, and I know you do, you should be clear about what your relationship is and what you want it to become.”

“That’s the thing, Ino,” Sakura sighed, breaking her gaze away. “There is no relationship, not the kind you’re talking about. There won’t be. Sasuke is my teammate, he’s my friend. I love him. We enjoy sleeping with each other. That’s all the honesty I have to offer.”

“So, what happens when it hurts more than it feels good?” Ino pushed, grasping Sakura’s wrist to bring her attention back. “When the sex isn’t enough, but you spend all your time, and all your energy in this man who you think won’t want to be with you. What then?”

“Life is short, and we’re shinobi,” Sakura said quietly. Ino’s eyes tightened. “I’m not in the business of thinking about the future that way anymore. I’m enjoying what I have now.”

“Sakura,” Ino spoke gently, and Sakura hated when Ino was gentle. “You should talk to him about your feelings.”

“I’ve done that for years, Pig” Sakura chuckled, but it had no depth. “He knows I love him. He’s made his decision, and I made mine.”

“I want you to see happiness,” Ino said fiercely. She stood and hesitated before leaving to return to her rotations, “I want you to enjoy the kind of happiness we dreamed of when we were little girls, before we were shinobi. With Sasuke, or someone else.”

Sakura stared into the cooling, dark liquid in the paper cup grasped between her hands, the sound of clacking footsteps signaling Ino’s exit. 

~

“Teme,” Naruto spoke around his chopsticks as he shoveled bowl number three of Ichiraku ramen into his mouth.

“What, Dobe?” Sasuke muttered, sipping at the salty broth more slowly.

“How’s things with Sak’ra?” he asked, peering at Sasuke from the corner of his eyes. His eyebrows waggled above the rim of his bowl.

“None of your business,” Sasuke finished his only bowl and set it neatly on the counter, along with his payment.

“Uh, yes it is my business,” Naruto sputtered, wiping the back of his mouth with his sleeve. “You two are my best friends, you know .”

“I do not pry into you and Hinata’s relationship,” he responded. He was itching for sunset, impatient to see Sakura home from the hospital. For all of his travels and his seeking redemption, he never quite learned how to be patient.

“Yeah, cuz you don’t actually care about anything other than Sakura ,” Naruto sang her name and Sasuke resisted the urge to tackle him to the ground for his teasing. He was not a twelve-year-old anymore.

“Shut up,” he intoned. Naruto guffawed, shoving his shoulder so hard Sasuke questioned his own resolve not to start a fight in the ramen shop.

“I’m serious, Sasuke,” Naruto said when he stopped laughing. “How are things? You both act so...weird. Like you’re hiding something. You didn’t get her pregnant or something right?”

“Dobe shut up ,” Sasuke growled, allowing himself a swift kick to Naruto’s shins under the counter. 

“Just asking! It’s weird I’m telling you,” Naruto groaned, rubbing his leg absentmindedly. “I mean, she was more affectionate with you when we were genin .”

“She’s plenty affectionate,” Sasuke stated. Flashing images from the night before of flushed skin and silky pink hair strewn across rumpled sheets appeared in his mind momentarily. “What is between us, is between us.”

“Have you told her you love her yet?” Naruto asked, propping his chin on his prosthetic hand to blink at the Uchiha expectantly.

Sasuke sneered and looked over the blonde’s shoulder. “Some things do not have to be explained.”

“Yeah, sure,” Naruto nodded thoughtfully. “But this fucking does. You realize she’s been in love with you forever right? Waited for you?”

“Yes, I do realize Naruto,” Sasuke tried to ignore the tinge in his chest. Shame. No matter what Naruto said, or even Sakura… there were some things he could not forgive himself for. “I am not keeping her waiting anymore. Not since I returned to the village.”

“Yeah, of course,” Naruto nodded, rolling his eyes. “After you disappeared for a couple years to redeem yourself or whatever.”

“That was important to me,” Sasuke said stiffly. 

“I know, Sasuke,” and when Sasuke met his blue gaze, he believed him. “But you are important to her. She deserves three little words from you, at least.”

Sasuke sighed before glancing behind him to see the sun just beginning to set. “I’m leaving. Don’t bother coming to the training grounds tomorrow.”

“I got a mission anyway, asshole. Staying with Sakura, eh?” Naruto waggled his brows again and Sasuke left with a huff. He walked through the village’s main path from Ichiraku for a few moments. When he knew the dobe couldn’t see him anymore in the crowd, he shunshined to the hospital’s entrance. 

~

Sasuke didn’t care to think about how he arrived nearly a half hour before Sakura’s shift ended. When she exited the large doors, her lab coat swung over one arm and a bag filled to the brim with paperwork, his chest felt lighter.

He watched her as she approached, gazing at her face even as she came to stand directly in front of him. His lip quirked when her gaze darted away bashfully for a moment, before his eyes were met with veridian again. 

“I hope you didn’t wait long, I had to finish up a few things,” she said quietly.

Sasuke just shook his head before reaching to take her bag and beginning to walk in the direction of her apartment. He ignored her weak protests and slowed his pace so she could walk beside him.

Her presence was a comfort. One that he was glad that he had stopped denying himself, after all this time. Sakura walked slowly, and based on her lack of conversation, he knew she was tired.

Sasuke glanced down at her face, noticing the sleepiness in her features and briefly wondered if she would be up for the...activities he had anticipated for the night. 

The thought quickly dissipated and he nearly smirked. Though he would be fine simply enjoying her company for the night, he knew that she rarely was too tired to indulge in the more intimate ways they so thoroughly enjoyed each other. 

“Should we grab something to eat before we get back to my place?” Sakura asked, somewhat hesitantly. Sasuke nodded and she veered left into the commonplace,  meandering to the least crowded kiosk that they both knew offered the quickest food options.

Sasuke hung back while she made an order, trusting her to pick something edible for him as well. He wasn’t very picky when it came to meals. Knowing her, she would find something with tomatoes, because she knew him well.

He enjoyed gazing at her like this, from afar when she didn’t notice. His eyes roamed over the silken, pink hair that hung just below her shoulder blades. Her profile was fine, a small button nose and high cheekbones, usually dusted with a pink slightly darker than her hair. He watched her dainty hands as she handed her payment to the kiosk owner, so fragile looking, but littered with small scars and marks that belayed the strength they possessed. 

Strength enough to break mountains, and to fix a broken man’s heart.

She skipped back to him, food in tow. They once again began their trek to her home.

“I’m glad we picked up something,” Sakura sighed as they entered her doorway, kicking off her sandals haphazardly and padding barefoot to sink onto the floor in the living room. “I’m starving , but too tired to cook anything.”

“Next time I’ll bring dinner with me,” Sasuke replied, placing his own sandals neatly by the entryway, and straightening hers beside them.

“No, it’s fine,” she waved him off, beginning to remove the takeout from the bag. “You don’t have to keep buying me food.”

“Hn,” he did not humor her with more of a response. They both knew he would continue to do so.

“How did training go with Naruto?” she asked, beginning to dig into her meal, blowing on the steaming food briefly. Sasuke openly stared at her mouth as she chewed, but she either did not notice or chose not to comment.

“Fine,” he said. He took a moment to try his own meal-- it did indeed have tomatoes-- before continuing, “Just taijutsu today. I beat Naruto’s ass.”

Sakura threw her head back and laughed, and Sasuke gave her a quick smile. Her mirth spoke to something in his blood. It was soothing and exciting all at once.

“Well, at least neither of you ended up in the hospital,” she sighed, finishing another bite. “I had a full plate today as it was.”

“I think Hinata healed him,” Sasuke informed her. “I told him not to bother you.”

“You didn’t need to do that, it is my job to heal people,” she rolled her eyes. She scooped the last bit of her food into her mouth, setting her container down to reach for her bottled water and taking a long pull.

Sasuke didn’t taste the last bit of his own meal as he watched a droplet of water slip from the corner of her lips, down her throat to disappear under her buttoned blouse.

“Hn. He did get me in my back,” Sasuke mentioned, watching as she bashfully wiped at her mouth and neck. “It’s just a bruise, maybe you can take a look at it tomorrow, since you’re so eager to heal.”

Sakura stuck her tongue out at him for his teasing before saying, “No need to wait, I’ll look at it now. Remove your shirt please.”

Sasuke was good at pretending her professional tone didn’t cause heat to build in his lower belly. He did as she asked, turning his back to her as she walked on her knees to settle behind him.

“Ouch. That’s a nasty one, you should have come in during my shift,” she chided, pressing her hand gently to his back. Her cooling chakra sank deep into the muscle, soothing the residual soreness. Her fingers were soft on his skin, and he could smell her shampoo.

“Hn. Thank you, Sakura,” he said in a low voice. He could feel the heat of her, and the whisper of her breath on the back of his neck. 

He turned slightly when she pulled away. She opened her mouth, likely to chide him, and he caught her lips with his, using his lone arm to pull her around to settle in his lap. 

She squealed quietly in surprise and he smiled a bit against her lips before slipping his tongue into her mouth. She tasted of takeout and warm sunshine, and as her hands came up to grasp his shoulders, he felt the heat in his center build.

He pulled away from her lips reluctantly to stare into her face, murmuring, “Remove your shirt, please.”

Sakura shivered and blushed, but she held his gaze as she followed his instruction. He palmed her face bringing her in for another kiss before lowering his hand to work at her bindings. She gasped against his mouth when his hand found a bare breast, kneading it gently.

Sasuke pulled away once more to trace her jawline with his lips, making his way down to the center of her chest before lifting his head to meet her gaze again.

“Let’s go to bed,” he breathed and she nodded, rising swiftly. He would have taken her there on the floor--anywhere, really-- but he wanted her to be able to rest immediately after. 

Sakura led them to her room and Sasuke did not let them get further than the threshold before he wrapped his arm around her and pulled her flush against him once again. He combed his fingers through her hair, drinking in the soft moan that spilled from her lips in response. He walked her backwards until her knees met the bed and pushed her down gently with his hand between her breasts. 

Sasuke did not stop pressing forward until Sakura’s back met the bed, and he began kissing down her chest, in between her breasts, over her ribs and to the waistband of her pants. He nipped at the flesh of her hip and delighted in the sharp gasp that slipped from her mouth; When her hips raised eagerly off the bed, Sasuke gladly took the chance to relieve her of her pants and her underwear.

He kissed his way up her body to explore her mouth again, her exhales and sighs filling his lungs better than his own breath ever had. As he slanted his mouth over hers, he could feel the tightening of his pants as the feel of her body, the taste of her lips spread heat through his core. 

“Sasuke-kun,” Sakura breathed, turning her face away from his. She whined quietly, fingers digging into his waist, “touch me.”   

Sasuke stole one more kiss from her mouth before kissing a path down her body once again, pausing to nibble, to suck on her heated flesh. He enjoyed the gasps and moans he received in response.

He sank to his knees and pulled his lover closer to the edge of the bed, parting her thighs slowly. He allowed her legs to swing over his shoulders as he used the tips of his fingers to part her pink folds, gazing at the wetness that gathered and spread with the movements of his digits. When he planted a reverent kiss where her thigh and her core met, she sighed deeply. No longer able to resist, he laved at her folds slowly, paying close attention to the pearly nub that peaked out among them. 

Sakura tasted like how the world looked when Sasuke activates his Sharingan. If he closed his eyes, he could see quivering buds blooming into pastel-colored blossoms, shiny blades of grass swaying in a gentle summer breeze, pinks and greens and blush reds that signified spring, summer, life. He drank from her like a man who had been starving, and before Sakura, he had. Loving her like this, Sasuke wonderdered how he ever withstood the hunger.

Sakura’s fingers bunched in his hair and her hips raised, seeking his tongue and his lips, chasing her pleasure as she moaned and cried out above him. Some of her sounds were frighteningly close to sobs, but Sasuke had heard enough of hers to know the difference. Still, he chased her pleasure with her, working his mouth, using his hand on her, inside to guide her to the peak. He hungered for the sound of her sharp cries to elongate into the guttural moans of her release.

This is redemption . Bringing Sakura pleasure instead of pain, tears of joy and completion rather than bitterness and sadness soothed the guilt that still twisted around his ribcage, if just a little. He worshipped her body with his, as if only she could redeem him and pull him from the darkness he had been running away from and into all of his life. Perhaps because in his heart, only she could.

He moaned into her when his name spilled from her lips, her body stiffening and then roiling languidly as she reached her climax, blessing and curses mingling on her lips. Sasuke moved up her body, claiming her lips again, for the pleasure of tasting her, tasting herself. As she quivered from the aftershocks of her orgasm, he slowly sank two fingers into her warmth, reaching deep inside before withdrawing slowly, slowly, feeling every ridge and ripple of her slick and pulsing walls. He repeated the motion, setting a steady, lazy rhythm and kissing down her neck to hear her moans. 

Sasuke-kun ,” Sakura whimpered. Sasuke maintained the slow thrusting of his fingers, trailing his tongue around the shell of her ear.

“Tell me what you need,” he whispered, enjoying the way she shook against him. 

“Please,” she breathed, “faster.”

Sasuke sped up the pace of his fingers and increased the depth of his movements, watching intently as Sakura’s mouth gaped open, and she threw her head back. Her eyes shut and he wished she would open them, so he might see the green of them while he took her over the edge again.

“Sakura,” he murmured, “Look at me.”

It took her a few tries to open her eyes and keep them open, but she eventually met his gaze, a gasp ripping from her throat when he curled his fingers slightly inside of her and quickened his pace once more. He stared deeply into her eyes, studying her expression, how her brows furrowed and her mouth gaped. Sasuke moaned with her as her eyelids fluttered convulsively, but she held his gaze nonetheless. Then her features froze, lips parted and eyes wide the moment she fell over the edge into ecstasy and Sasuke had never seen anything so beautiful. 

“That’s it,” he muttered, slowing his fingers as she rode out the last leg of her orgasm.

“Sasuke-kun,” she panted, swallowing thickly and gripping his face with a small hand. “I want you.”

He smiled then, fully, an expression reserved for here, for her. Hearing, seeing, feeling her wanting him ignited fire in his chest. A child born into a clan like his was destined to enjoy a love that burned, so hot that it could have been painful had he not spent so many years so cold. In moments like this, he could feel the warmth from the top of his head down to his toes, and he thanked whatever gods that existed that he was finally able to experience what love is.

Sakura watched him with lazy eyes as he disrobed. They shone green, burning into him like a warm kiss, and he did not take his eyes off of hers as he bared himself to her. Sasuke could see love in her eyes as she drank in his face, the expanse of his chest, the jutting arousal standing proudly between his legs. He wouldn’t hide from her even if he was capable of feeling shy-- she deserved this, to gaze at him all she wanted after the separation he forced upon them for all that time.

Sasuke stood still and watched her as she slowly sat up and made her way to the foot of her bed. Her gaze moved away from his face as she reached for his arousal with dainty fingers, the other hand splaying across his chest. His breath came out in a large exhale when she tightened her grip about him. He brought her face up to gaze upon her features again before claiming her mouth with his. They didn’t break their kiss as he guided her backwards until she lay comfortably against the pillows, spreading her legs wide to allow him to fit in between. He aligned himself with her entrance, dipping only the very tip of him inside and watching her face closely to gauge her reaction, her readiness.

She moaned deeply and rolled her hips, saying, “Sasuke-kun,” and he understood. 

When he sank into her depths until he could go no deeper, he wondered if he would ever grow accustomed to the otherworldly sensation. 

Sasuke made love to Sakura slowly, pouring into her with his whole body and sipping her cries and moans like nectar from her petal-like lips. He pressed her close to him as she fell apart, glad to finally be in a position to put her back together again with a roll of his hips like so , and by planting a kiss just there . He breathed praises into her ear, pressed them into her flesh with his lips and tongue. Beautiful , he kissed. So good , he licked.

“Sasuke-kun,” she sobbed, “I-” love you , is what she didn’t say. But he didn’t mind that pleasure choked off her words, because he knew. He saw and he felt it when she wrapped arms and legs around him as if she wanted to fuse them together for eternity.

He wanted that, too.

Chapter Text

Sakura sighed into her pillow tiredly, moaning quietly when Sasuke slipped out of her body. They did not move from the position they laid in, Sasuke snug against her back with his only arm locked around her waist. It took her a couple moments before she could move her leg away from its position, swung over his muscular hip.

His fingers danced over the area under her breasts as he pulled his hand back slowly, reaching up to brush away the hair sticking to her damp shoulder.

Sakura tried to calm the thumping of her heart as they rested there, the only sound in the silence of the room was their still-quickened breaths. If she had to guess, she was sure it was nearly midnight by now. It seemed like days since Sasuke had walked her home and they had eaten dinner, hours of passion and short rests blurring together in her exhausted mind. She and Sasuke had joined bodies more times than she could count and she felt raw, and tender in the best and worst of ways.

It was dangerous, this feeling. It made her vulnerable, her tongue loose and mind muddled. So bliss-drunk that she could imagine this being a forever thing, this love being more than just between bodies. 

“Sakura,” Sasuke broke the silence with his rich baritone and her heart thumped loud behind her ribs. “Do you want me to draw you a bath?”

“No, it’s okay,” she replied, her voice quiet. She stared blankly at the nightstand beside her bed and dared not speak above a whisper. Lest her heart take hold of her tongue. “I think we both need a shower.”

“Hn,” Sasuke hummed. She felt him press his face into her hair and inhale deeply. The hand resting on her shoulder tightened momentarily before stroking down the side of her waist. 

Sakura closed her eyes tightly.

“Do you want me to stay tonight?” Sasuke asked, and Sakura clenched her jaw.

Not just tonight .

“Yes,” she said, because the flesh was weak and her love made her weaker. “You can shower first, too.”

Sasuke hummed again, finally moving away from her body and her head felt clearer for the space as he stood from the bed. She rolled to peer at him.

He lingered, staring at her nearly long enough to make her blush before he spoke, “We can shower together.”

Sakura did blush now, because she knew intimately what that entailed from a few rare occasions, “I don’t think I’m awake enough to go again.”

Sasuke smirked, shaking his head. His smile was enough to almost bring tears to her eyes and she ached . “Just shower.”

Sasuke only blinked at her when she narrowed her eyes, hesitant. Eventually her exhaustion spoke over her good sense, because she was far too tired to stay up longer than necessary for Sasuke to bathe himself first.

“Fine,” she sighed, peeling herself from the bed and padding lazily toward her bathroom. She didn’t glance back to see if Sasuke was following her, simply turning the knob and stepping under the water, letting it run over her face, through her tangled mess of hair.

Sakura stood there for several minutes soaking, her mind struggling to relate the plan to bathe to her limbs before Sasuke stepped in behind her. 

“I changed the bedding,” he said softly, and she muttered what she hoped was some kind of thanks. 

She hazily reached for her cloth and body wash, her body feeling weighed down from her shift at the hospital and the aftermath of a night with the man she loved. When she had lathered the towel, though, it was plucked from her grasp and she felt the warmth of Sasuke pressing behind her.

Sakura wasn’t able to speak when Sasuke began to wash her body, simply freezing in place. She exhaled eventually, as he went about his tender, gentle ministrations. He moved the soapy towel in small circles, starting at the base of her neck, over her chest to her waist, her hips and then around to her back. He moved her side to side gently to wash the entire length of her arms (including the underarms). 

He worked in a silence she dared not break. It was heavy enough, with the thoughts and memories and feelings swelling like a late night tide through her chest. She swallowed thickly when he turned her to face him, moving the washcloth down, across her lower abdomen, between her thighs. And he went lower still, kneeling to reach below her knees to her ankles, nudging her to lift her feet and weaving through her toes. 

When he rose, Sasuke met her eyes as he gently pushed her under the spray of water, rinsing away the soap and the grime and what Sakura was sure was the last bit of resolve left in her body. He reached for the shampoo and she was glad for the opportunity to give him her back, to close her eyes and tilt her face toward the cascading water, allowing the tears slipping through her lids to mix in.

She nearly fell asleep as he massaged the shampoo through her hair, more thoroughly than she had ever done, but managed to stay awake enough to rinse the lather away as he methodically cleaned his own body. A strong arm reached over her shoulder to turn off the tap, and she stepped out, drying quickly and went about searching for sleeping clothes for her and her guest.

She handed him a shirt that was probably Naruto’s, and pants that might have been his own. The silence persisted as they dressed and she turned to her neatly made bed, the blankets already folded back.

Perhaps the silence would have felt awkward or daunting, but loving a man like Sasuke made one acquire a taste for such expanses of time without sound. 

Sakura tried not to think too hard about how Sasuke pressed flush against her as she began to fall asleep. Her last thought was an aside, payable to her fluttering heart when his arm tightened around her waist, and lips pressed softly against the crown of her head.

I love you, Sasuke-kun .

 

~

Sakura fully expected to wake up the next morning to an empty bed. Instead, she opened her eyes to a finger tapping her cheek. Sasuke was standing beside her bed, staring down at her.

“Get up,” he said, removing his hand once her eyes had been pried fully open. “I made breakfast.”

He pivoted and exited the room after that, and Sakura could only yawn confusedly. She rose from her bed dazedly and stumbled to her bathroom to brush her teeth, wondering what brand of fuck buddy stayed the night and cooked breakfast the morning after.

She threw the thought aside with a mental shrug. Nothing was normal when Sasuke Uchiha was involved. And despite it all, she was his teammate and probably his friend. It wasn’t a stretch to think he genuinely cared for her.

Too bad it wasn’t enough.

She sighed at the visage of a love-hungry woman who had resigned at the yong age of twenty, decided to perpetually settle for less. Sakura rinsed her mouth and turned away before the woman staring back with bright green eyes began to look too much like her.

Sakura entered her small kitchen to see Sasuke seated at her table, and she allowed herself to eye the expanse of his shoulders and his still sleep-mussed hair. His dark locks stuck up in the back, in such a way that it made her nostalgic, remembering a much smaller, angrier person than the man sitting in her modest eating area now.

“Thank you for cooking, Sasuke-kun,” she said around a small yawn, passing by him to take a seat herself. “Smells good. I’m starving .”

“I bet you are,” he said, stoic as always. It took Sakura a long moment before her eyes shot up to his face and caught the slightest of smirks.

She could feel pink rising to her cheeks. “I definitely am. Yesterday was...long.”

She peeked at him through her lashes and inwardly cheered when he cleared his throat and redirected his attention to the food laid out before them. “Eat.”

“Bossy,” she teased, clasping her hands in front of her briefly. “Itadakimasu.”

It was a simple meal of egg with rice, and she smiled to herself when she saw some tomato sliced on a small plate to accompany the meal. Sasuke was a better cook than she had realized, but she supposed years of traveling alone would force one to learn.

There were too many implications to think of as she shared a morning meal with the man she had spent all night having sex with, so she chose to break the otherwise comfortable silence.

“Sasuke-kun,” she called. His eyes shot to hers immediately, and his apt attention would have startled her had she not known Sasuke all this time. When he wanted to listen to something, he would definitely pay attention. Intensely so.

“Sakura?” he prompted, raising a dark, fine brow. 

“What do you have planned for the day?” she asked, shoveling another bite of rice into her mouth. She chewed and swallowed. “I heard Naruto has a mission.”

Sasuke shrugged, finishing his own bite before answering, “Nothing.”

Sakura chuckled at this. Always a man of such few words.

“When do you start your shift at the hospital?”

Sakura shook her head with a smile, “I don’t. I took the day off.”

Sasuke rolled his eyes, “Did you take it, or did Tsunade force you?”

“Shut up,” she quipped. Sasuke scoffed good-naturedly, and when she looked up he was smirking at her with mirth in his eyes.

They settled into silence as they finished up their meal. Just as Sakura rose with a long stretch, Sasuke spoke, “We should train.”

Sakura dropped her arms and drooped slightly. “Training? Don’t you ever, I don’t know… lay around?”

Sasuke rose from his seat as well, and rested his hand on his hip. “If you don’t think you’re up for it, just say so.”

It was said casually, almost disinterested. But Sakura knew a challenge from the Uchiha when she heard one. And although she knew that he knew she was no longer a weakling, she still bristled at the implications of his teasing.

“I’ll get dressed. Meet me at training grounds 3.”

 

~

Sakura slipped her black gloves on and tied her hair back in a high, tight bun before dropping into a deep stretch. 

“What are the rules?” Sasuke asked, doing his own stretches beside her. 

“Taijutsu only,” she said. “I’m not in the mood for your fancy tricks today.”

The man had nerve enough to give a short laugh despite her glare. If she wasn’t prepping for battle, she might have swooned a bit. 

“Sharingan?” he questioned.

It was Saskura’s turn to smirk and she rose from her stretch and looked at his from over her shoulder. “Only if it makes you feel safer.”

She saw his jaw twitch in her peripheral, and she could feel anticipation buzzing through the marrow of her bones. Sasuke was one of the two best shinobi in the village-- arguably the best of their generation. With or without his bloodline talent, he was a force to reckon with.

Teammate or not, it was an honor to spar with him. Not many could rise to the challenge and fewer would be invited to. She would give both her hands and possibly a foot before she admitted such things aloud, though.

“Let’s begin,” Sasuke said, sinking into his starting stance. 

As she took her own position, she couldn’t help feeling a pang of nostalgia at seeing the familiar wood posts behind him on this legendary training ground. This was where it all started. 

“I hope you’re ready, Sasuke-kun,” she taunted, eyeing his form. The wheels in her head turned as they tried to plan her first move. 

Sasuke favored his right foot, and held his right arm horizontally in front of his torso, tilted so his left side was farthest from her as they faced each other. It was so familiar, the way he stood. Almost the same as when they were genin, before the war. His left side was always the weaker one.

The pair stared at each other in tense silence, neither one moving a single muscle as they searched for weaknesses in the others’ defense. Sakura flitted her gaze over his body, seeking the first spot she’d target. She knew she would have to figure something out and make the first move fast .

It was not wise to find yourself on the defense when going up against the last Uchiha.

Haruno Sakura was a master of few things-- those included medical ninjutsu and observing Uchiha Sasuke. So, when she saw his muscles tense she darted forward at full speed, springing herself in the air and falling toward him with a chakra-coated fist. 

Sakura was no fool. She knew there was no way he would be unable to evade such an obvious assault. Sasuke was faster, and a more skilled shinobi. Even without the aid of his sharingan, he had an uncanny ability to anticipate his enemies’ movements.

She was well aware the attack would not connect, but when he dodged as she predicted he would, to the right of course , Sakura used the fist that slammed into the ground to brace herself as she swung her leg around to meet Sasuke’s retreating figure. Using the velocity of his own speed and the force of her assault, she managed to knock him away with such force his back slammed into the ground and he slid several feet.

She flipped to her feet and he righted himself immediately, taking his stance again, his eyes flitting over her form cautiously. 

Sasuke was far more skilled than she. But Sakura was smart and that was enough to level the playing ground, if just a little. 

After sizing each other up for a moment, they both sprang forward, meeting each other head-on in a series of kicks, jabs and punches. If not for the distant ache of a forming bruise when Sasuke landed a hit or the strain of her muscles as she twisted her body to avoid his blows, it would have felt like a dance.

Their bodies weaved around, over, through each other with a frustrating synchronicity. Close up like this, it was more difficult for Sakura to create the space for her attacks that relied on blunt, heavy force. Sasuke’s speed did little against Sakura’s agility, and it was difficult for him to use her weight against her. 

 Despite her years of training and stockpiling of chakra, Sakura knew her reserves were miniscule in comparison to Sasuke. She managed to land a hard kick to his abdomen, throwing him back and she stomped her foot, causing a ripple in the earth and a large crack to form between the two shinobi. 

Sakura prepared to drive her fist into the ground again, but was forced to dodge a shuriken as it whizzed toward her, flying so close to her that it managed to knick the high point of her cheekbone. 

She changed tactics, weaving a handful of shuriken between the fingers of one hand, and looping a series of kunai over the fingers of another.

She ran because she anticipated the downpour of shuriken that flew toward her from seemingly every direction. She could only hope the asshole hadn’t wired any, because she was too worried about avoiding being shredded to think about being trapped and immobilized.

As Sasuke flung another storm of sharp objects, she tactfully chose not to avoid one, gasping slightly as it sliced into her side. Doing so, she was able to continue her ascent toward him, tossing her own weapons his way, following up with a move taught to her by Rock Lee. She twirled with as much speed as she could manage, drilling into Sasuke as she came down, forcing both of them down to the ground with a crash.

And so the frenzied dance continued, kata and formal training thrown to the wind. They grappled on the ground, Sasuke nearly overcoming her at times with his reach, but being thrown off and overcome by her superior strength. They hissed and grunted, swiping at each other and twisting their bodies around the other’s so intimately that Sakura momentarily wondered if this was even still a spar anymore, or something even more carnal.

The thought was immediately cut short when somewhere among the tangle of limbs, she felt something sharp knick the flesh of her hip. She growled, rearing back and shoving her feet into Sasuke’s abdomen, sending him skidding several feet away. Sakura scrambled to her feet with an angry huff, sizing up her opponent as he crouched low, dark eyes watching her calculatingly.

For all the honor associated with his name, Sasuke fought dirty. Like Kakashi did. He feinted and falsified weaknesses only to trick her into taking an opening while he jabbed into a sensitive area, or snuck a kunai to knick at a tender spot of flesh.

Sasuke ran at her again, somehow even faster than when their sparring began. Sakura was panting as she blocked jabs and her fists flew into any openings she could find. She was stuck playing defense now, avoiding an elbow and swift kicks at her calves and ankles. Sasuke was faster, but she had watched him fight many times and despite the speed and unpredictability of his movements, after taking a few hits she began to notice a pattern.

She bared her teeth in a grin. Sasuke Uchiha put the majority of his effort in battle to protect his face. An Uchiha’s greatest strength was their eyes. 

Sakura had no name to honor, and her past weakness made her learn to be unscrupulous before she could be talented. She utilized her chakra enhanced strength, pressing him into a divet in the broken ground, trapping his sole arm beneath him to slug him in the jaw, hard . He hissed and retaliated by shoving a knee into her stomach, forcing her to back away. She retreated from him as far as she could, scooping up a handful of earth and lobbing it at his face as he approached. 

Sasuke cursed and shut his eyes, his arm still swinging toward her and she hissed in delight. Got him

She dodged the blow and as Sasuke, blinded, lost his footing, she vaulted herself over him, clasping strong legs around his neck and slamming him to the ground with so much force she was sure someone nearby could feel the ground shake.

“Don’t hold back,” she bit out, tightening her legs around his neck and trying to grab hold of his arm as he tried to pry her away.

“I’m not,” Sasuke growled, his hand shooting out over his head to catch her shoulder, throwing them around and causing Sakura’s face to slam against the ground, the force knocking the wind out of her momentarily.

Her legs barely slackened their grip and he managed to rip them away, using the momentum to swing her around and toss her toward the tree line. She barely managed to tuck and roll, clambering to her feet just as he got in her space again.

Sakura knew the battle was lost, as she became winded and her movements became slow. She fought to the bitter end, though, landing a few more hits  and sneaking a handful of swift kicks before Sasuke managed to tackle her to the ground, with a knee pressing into her chest.

And although this was expected, maybe even inevitable when going toe to toe with a shinobi god, her competitive spirit was restless and uneasy. She lost. And for the first time in a long time, she had to face the fact that no matter how far she’d come, she would never stand equal among her team.

So she looked up into Sasuke’s face to accept her defeat, and her heart skipped a beat. She stared into his burning irises, ignoring the sweat upon his brow and the dirt and grime smeared across his face. 

Lavender and crimson. Intricate tomoe spinning as he stared down at her. Sakura felt a grin spread across her scratched and bruised cheeks.

Haruno Sakura, daughter of civilians, with no clan, no name, no honor and no bloodline stood toe to toe with the last Uchiha, the strongest shinobi of her time. 

And he had to activate his infamous dojutsu to win.

 

~

Sakura wasn’t sure how long they’d been laying there in the middle of the ransacked training ground. What she did know is that they were both out of breath and now that the adrenaline had faded, her body ached with exertion and some minor injuries.

She couldn’t help giggling though, as she glanced over at Sasuke, who, once she had yielded, had flopped on his back beside her. Sakura was buzzing with excitement with the knowledge that he had used his sharingan in a fight with her .

“Why are you laughing?” Sasuke asked, still panting like she was. This made her giggle more. “You lost.”

“I did lose,” she sighed, sitting up slowly. It was second nature to run a chakra coated palm over the small cuts on her sides and forearms. “ But , I put up one hell of a fight.”

“You did,” he responded. There was nothing particularly admiring in his tone, but it made her heart flutter nonetheless. 

Sakura didn’t respond, simply humming quietly and ducking her head down and focusing on the bruises forming on her thigh and calf.

When she peeked up, Sasuke had also sat up on the ground, and he was peering at her oddly. 

“What?” she asked. She shifted to her knees, shuffling over to place her healing hands on his injuries. He made no move to push her away.

“You act as if you’re surprised,” he said quietly. Her hands paused over his ribs for a moment before she resumed her perusal of his injuries.

“Surprised?” she asked, her brow furrowed in confusion. 

“That it was a fair fight,” he responded, turning his head slightly to catch her gaze. “You’re a neo-Sannin.”

“Oh,” she mumbled, hurrying to avert her gaze. “I was more shocked you ended up using your sharingan.”

A grin took her lips again.

Sasuke rolled his eyes in her peripheral, “You shouldn’t be so shocked. If I hadn’t, I might have lost.”

Sakura paused in her movements, then, and her eyes shot up to find his. 

“Please,” she scoffed. “As if I could beat you.”

“You’re a powerful shinobi,” he replied. Her shoulder lifted slightly with a shrug. “I’m sure you could.”

Sakura could only stare. She remembered a little girl, with short pink hair and big green eyes whose main goal in life was to have a beautiful boy who had seen too much and showed too little, acknowledge her. A part of her that she thought was long forgotten was suddenly warm and full to bursting. 

“It means a lot,” she finally whispered, her throat embarrassingly tight, “especially coming from you.”

And that second part sounded like very little, but it was raw with the sort of honesty Sakura tried to curb and filter out these days. Because many people had acknowledged her over the years, her friends, her sensei even… but it was Sasuke’s recognition and casual compliments that made her feel so giddy and proud. It made her feel good to know that he noticed her, watched her, possibly even admired the strength she’d beaten into a body that no one believed would ever be able to withstand such treatment. 

A civilian girl placed in a team with three terrifying shinobi, godlike and untouchable in their own ways was supposed to be a story that ended in tragedy and disaster. Sakura, as ditzy and capricious a child she was, was never unaware of the whispers. The heirs to clans called her kunai target, the chunin stationed at the gates called her enemy bait. She was well aware that the missions she made it home from were missions in which luck was on her side.

Sakura knew strength, now, but she distinctly remembered the texture of weakness. Of shaking limbs and quivering muscles, when her body knew before her mind that she was in grave danger and it was ill-equipped to protect her from it. In many ways, Sakura’s childhood was like a nightmare, the kind where you ran and ran but never seemed able to reach what you were aiming for. And what you were running to, moved further away. The firm and helpful hands of Tsunade, her blood and sweat and tears eventually turned into the fuel that allowed her to sprint forward to make up the distance.

And as Sakura, a civilian girl turned elite shinobi stared into the dark eyes gazing back at her, she wondered if she was still running yet.       

Sasuke’s gaze did not waver when he broke the silence, “Everyone knows you’re one of the strongest shinobi of our generation.”

“Not as strong as you and Naruto,” she replied, kneejerk. She immediately regretted it when he raised a dark brow.

Sounds like you’re fishing for compliments.

“Hn,” he grunted quietly, finally looking away. “My ribs would say differently.”

“Oh, oops!” she gasped, hurriedly reaching for his side again. “Let me heal those up for you.”

“Thank you,” he said quietly. She distantly felt his gaze on her again, but she focused on her task, lifting his shirt to soothe and repair his bruised and slightly cracked ribs. 

His subtle praises cycled on a loop in her mind. 

 

Sasuke and Sakura meandered through the village side-by-side, searching for something quick and filling to eat. Sakura preferred to grab take-out so she wouldn’t be seen at a restaurant covered in grime and traces of blood from their sparring session.

He heard her giggle quietly for the millionth time and rolled his eyes.

“It can’t possibly be that funny,” Sasuke sighed. Sakura began laughing in earnest.

“It is ,” she gasped between cackles. “Your face is literally covered in dirt.”

“Yours too,” he quipped. This only made her laugh harder, and he would have smiled at the sound of it were she not being so annoying .

She snickered, “Not like yours.”

“It wouldn’t be there if you hadn’t tossed it at my face,” he replied. She laughed harder, and he couldn’t help the small smile that took his lips briefly.

“Blame Kakashi, it was a dirty trick he taught me,” she sighed, once her laughs died down a little.

Sasuke could only scoff, because of course she picked it up from their lazy former sensei. “Figures.”

She grinned, skipping her way in front of him, walking backward with her hands crossed behind her back. It reminded him of when they were genin, and his chest tightened for a moment. Those green eyes hadn’t changed, gazing at him with mirth and so sweetly.

“You know some of his tricks too, I could tell,” she narrowed her eyes playfully and he was careful to maintain a straight face. “Some honorable shinobi you are, with your sneaky kunai usage.”

Sasuke snorted, “I’ve been called many things. Honorable isn’t one of them.”  

Silence settled over them for several moments after that. A quick side glance at Sakura showed that she looked deep in thought, her brows furrowed slightly.

It wasn’t until they reached the restaurant that she swept past him with a whisper, “You have more honor than most.”

He could not muster a reply. He ordered and paid for their food distractedly, listening to her chatter thoughtfully the entire walk back to her apartment.

 

They showered separately this time, much to Sasuke’s dissatisfaction. Empty takeout containers were piled neatly on Sakura’s small table, and Sasuke stared at her, tapping his fingers agitatedly as the pink-haired woman in front of him keeled over with laughter.

“Sasuke-kun,” she gasped, wiping a tear from her eye, “you’re telling me you got beat up by a civilian ?”

He rolled his eyes, “I did not get beat up, I was caught unawares and inebriated and sucker-punched by a civilian.”

Sakura guffawed, and Sasuke barely resisted the urge to simply exit the apartment and slam the door behind him.

“I would have never told you if I knew this would be the reaction,” he said dryly, eyeing her slumped over form. He hadn’t been this irritated with Sakura since they were genin.

“It’s funny ,” she snorted, tipping her head back with a big, belly laugh. “You’re Uchiha-fucking-Sasuke. Punched in the face by a civilian , not even one from a shinobi village! Have you told Naruto?”

“No,” Sasuke grit out. He hated that the sound of her laughter was so pleasing to his ears because right now his pride hated it.

“I’m telling Naruto,” she cried. 

“You are not ,” he said, in his coldest voice. Most would be intimidated, but Haruno Sakura was not.

“I am so telling,” she giggled, standing to rid the eating space of their waste. She stood at the counter to wash her hands and he could still see her shoulders shaking with mirth.

Sasuke stood quietly and approached her, pressing flush against her back and dipping his face close to her ear.

“I would advise against that,” he muttered. She froze momentarily, before slowly finishing the process of drying her hands.

“And if I don’t listen?” she responded quietly, resting her hands on the edge of the counter, and looking over her shoulder with a raised brow.

He smirked, leaning in to press his lips against her neck as a response. She tipped her head to the side to give him more access, her hair slightly damp hair spilling over her shoulder. 

“Don’t you have other things to do today?” she asked, somewhat breathlessly, as his hand gripped her hip and his lips trailed down her neck to where it met her shoulder.

“Nothing better than this,” he flicked the area with the tip of his tongue and she sighed. 

“I wonder what Naruto will think,” Sakura’s voice was nonchalant despite the slight quickening of her breaths, “when I tell him about the civilian who beat you up. He might just tell the whole village.”

“Good thing he won’t find out,” Sasuke replied, bringing his hand up to grasp a handful of silken pink hair, tugging it firmly so Sakura’s head pressed against his chest. 

She looked up at him, “Won’t he?”

Sasuke let go of her hair to spin her around before crashing his lips to hers. Unlike the sweetness of the night before, they kissed fiercely, nipping and tugging at each other’s lips. His hand trailed down to grip and knead a soft breast before continuing its descent to press firmly between her thighs. 

Sakura’s hips rocked against his palm and she gasped quietly against his mouth. He pulled away from their kiss with a grin, peppering kisses on her neck again as he stroked her over her thin lounge shorts. It did not take long for her to elicit a frustrated moan, gyrating her hips against him more quickly, seeking further friction as he nibbled at her ear and kissed along her jaw.

“Stop fucking teasing,” she gasped when he slipped a finger beneath the hem of her shorts for a moment, barely brushing against her wetness before removing his hand completely.

“Why should I?” Sasuke asked, reaching up to run the pad of his finger over an erect nipple and leaning to kiss her deeply again.

Sakura moaned into his mouth before snatching her head back and leveling him with a fierce glare.

“You aren’t going to play games like this,” she all but growled, fisting a hand in his shirt.

“Won’t I?” he raised a brow, smirking when her eyes narrowed. He did not wait for a response before he took her lips again.

He took his time, massaging her with firm but brief, and sometimes barely-there touches. He snatched her shorts down to run his finger along her wet folds, dancing around the pearly nub calling for his attention. It felt almost like the adrenaline of battle, seeing her become unsteady and wild with his ministrations.

Sakura cursed him first, before she begged, gasping her pleasure and frustration as her flesh trembled and her form was held up only by the counter behind her and his torturing hand. She tried to seduce him into action by rolling her body against him, reaching for his arousal with eager hands, but he evaded her advances. Instead, he pressed two fingers deep inside, setting a fast pace that had her clutching at his shirt and seeking purchase on the smooth surface behind her. He watched as her eyes fluttered shut and her head tipped backwards as she hurtled toward her peak, sensitized and on edge from his earlier touches.

Sasuke removed his fingers moments later and she cried out in disappointment, her eyes shooting open to stare at him hazily. Seeing the look on her beautifully flushed face, he knew he could no longer deny her. 

“Turn around,” he instructed and she whimpered before doing so, likely expecting more teasing.

He quickly freed himself from his lower garments and pushed inside her with one deep thrust. Her back arched as she cried out, and he pressed the center of her back, guiding her to press her torso against the counter in front of her before taking a handful of her hair in his grip.

He saw stars in an array of colors as he took her rapidly, reveling in the feel of her wrapped warm and tight around him and soft and supple against him. Their gasps co-mingled with the sound of his hips slamming against her backside, and his name spilled over and over again from her lips. 

Sasuke drew back until the tip of him remained inside her, and halted his movements. He ran his hand down her back, reaching under Sakura’s shirt to press against her heated skin.

“Don’t stop,” she breathed, her voice soft. His hips twitched and it took restraint to not satisfy her needs immediately.

“I won’t,” he reassured, pushing back into her slowly, until he bottomed out deep inside. She rose to her tiptoes as she was forced further against the counter.

“I’m so close,” she whimpered, wriggling against him, trying to induce him to move. 

“Is Naruto going to find out about what I told you today?” he asked, his own breath short and voice tight with his own resistance. He knew that he’d give her what he wanted if she didn’t answer soon , because it didn’t sit right in either of his bones to deny her for much longer.

“No,” she shook her head weakly, “just fuck me , I won’t say anything.”

Sakura hadn’t finished her promise before Sasuke was pounding into her at a renewed pace. He felt her ripple around him before she called out his name as her climax ripped through her, leaving her clawing for purchase on the counter as Sasuke moved inside of her relentlessly. 

Sakura’s voice trembled and shook with the force of his thrusts as she cried, “ Sasuke-kun .”

Then he was spending himself inside her, pushed in so deep he was sure that he should be able to feel the air that filled her lungs as she moaned and cried through her second orgasm.

“Sakura,” he groaned, his hips jerking slightly as he leaned down to press against her back, his panting breaths fanning against her pink locks. 

“You suck,” she whined, panting still. “That would have been a funny story.”

Sasuke couldn’t contain his shocked chuckle, shaking his head as he tried to catch his breath, the base of his spine still tingling and his body still joined intimately with hers.

Chapter Text

Sakura awakened in the duskiness of dawn, peeling herself from her empty bed, with a full spirit. She felt rejuvenated, quenched by a full night of sleep and a day to herself outside of the cold white walls of the hospital. With a sigh, she stretched, fingertips reaching for the ceiling. She reveled in the barely-there soreness of her limbs due in equal parts to sparring with Sasuke at the training grounds and...“sparring” again in her kitchen, then again her living room, and finally in her bed. 

Sakura felt as if her grin could illuminate the nearly-dark room, as she shook her head at her thoughts and padded to her bathroom to prepare for her day. 

When she was cleaned and dressed, she sprang briskly over the rooftops of the village toward the hospital, not because she was hurried, but simply to enjoy the view, the damp breeze against her face.  

Her thoughts wondered again as she watched sunrays peek shyly over the vast green forest in the distance. As her eyes gazed upon the reincarnation of daytime, her mind’s eye saw the tilt of Sasuke’s slight smile, the sparkle that appeared in his eye when she managed to amuse him. Sakura wondered, as the sun began lifting further in the sky, which image shone brightest. 

She smiled to herself when she jumped down to the hospital entrance. When she entered, the familiar smell of antiseptic filled her nostrils and she nodded at the nurses and orderlies that greeted her as she walked toward the elevator that would take her to her office.  

“Haruno-san,” a breathless voice called as a flustered medic-nin in training hustled into the elevator just before the doors shut.  

“Good morning, Michi-kun,” Sakura smiled. “How can I help you?” 

“I...was hoping,” the young man swallowed, slipping a finger between his neck and the collar of his shirt nervously. “I-I hoped that I could...shadow you, Haruno-san.” 

Sakura raised her brows curiously, “You’re nearly finished with your residency, Michi-kun, isn’t that right? You will be taking patients on your own, soon.” 

“Yes,” he nodded, eyes flitting to his toes. “But… you are the best medic that this village-  any  of the villages have ever seen, Haruno-san.” 

“You flatter me,” she chuckled somewhat bashfully. “I learned from the very best, which made me the best I could be.” 

Michi looked into her face then, and the determination in his eyes coupled with the weakness about his mouth made her feel nostalgic. She could remember a young girl with that same look staring into her reflection. 

“That’s why,” he said, his gentle voice tinged with something fierce. “I want to learn from the best, like you did. I know I’ve technically completed my studies but...I am hoping you will take me as your apprentice.” 

Sakura was shocked, and was thankful for their arrival on her floor. She gestured for Michi to exit and tried to gather her thoughts. A mixture of pride and hesitation mixed together in her stomach. 

Sakura may well have been further in her career as both a shinobi and medic-nin than most at her age, but she was still only 20. She wasn’t sure she could in good faith take someone who really could have been her peer under her wing, as Tsunade once did for her. 

“Have a seat, Michi-kun,” she gestured to the chair in front of her desk, setting her belongings and herself down somewhat awkwardly as the young man watched her with hopeful eyes. 

“I promise I will make you proud,” he said suddenly. “I can’t say I will ever become the master medic you are, but...I scored well in my studies, and I believe medic-ninjutsu comes to me naturally. And I want to help people. To save lives, shinobi and civilians. I want to make my family and my village proud.” 

Sakura clasped her hands in front of her and met Michi’s gaze.  

“I will let you shadow me, and work along-side me,” she said, finally, her voice soft. He visibly exhaled and relaxed in his seat and she nearly giggled. “I’m no one’s master yet, but… we can consider this a kind of extended program since you have almost finished your official studies. You’ll be doing your own rotations and taking patients because we need staff but… half of that time will be spent shadowing me, and I will try to teach you my specializations.”  

 “Thank you, Haruno-san!” the man in front of her shot up from his seat and bent in a deep bow. “I mean...Haruno-sensei.” 

“Sakura, or Sakura-sensei is just fine,” she smiled, laughing a little when he nodded frantically. “I’m going to do my morning rounds. Please come meet me here at my office around 11:00. I have a surgery scheduled for noon, and I want you to assist.”  

Michi nodded enthusiastically, “Hai, sensei!” before ducking out of her office with a bow. 

Sakura shook her head slightly, sighing deeply as she donned her lab coat and grabbed her clipboard. A whisper of a smile played at her lips, and she felt warm inside as she went about her morning rotations. 

 
 

By the time her lunchtime came around, Sakura was tired and her good mood ground into dust. The first half of her day was a blur of small injuries, classrooms of children stricken with a contagious chest cold and the surgery she conducted that was half lesson for Michi, half procedure.  

She dragged her feet into her office a good three and a half hours past noon, fully prepared to lock her door and indulge in a thirty-minute nap. Sakura just knew the piles of paperwork on her desk would make a fantastic pillow. 

Upon entering her office, though, she was startled to find Sasuke standing in the room, gazing at her bookshelf. 

“Sasuke-kun,” she gasped, blinking at him as he turned to face her with a small nod of greeting. “What are you doing here? And how’d you get in?” 

“You weren’t here during normal lunchtime to open the window,” he replied, watching her intently as she entered the room fully and shed her white coat. “I came back later and asked at the front desk. An assistant let me in.” 

“Is something wrong?” Sakura asked, worried, approaching him and beginning to run her eyes over his form. 

Sasuke shook his head, reaching for a bag of what had to be take-out that was on her desk. “Here.” 

“Sasuke-kun,” Sakura rolled her eyes as the food was forced into her hands. “I told you, stop buying me food. Thanks, but I’m a big girl, I can feed myself.” 

“Hn,” was the only response she got. “I have a mission.” 

“Oh, you do,” she replied, finally noticing the man stood before her in full mission gear, his long katana strapped to his back. “Do you need medical clearance?” 

“No,” Sasuke shook his head. He gestured to the bag of food still clutched to her chest and Sakura rolled her eyes before shuffling around her desk to plop down and begin taking out the meal. 

“Do you need me to check your eyes, or your arm?” Sakura asked, mechanically taking a bite as Sasuke stared at her pointedly. 

“No,” he said. He watched her eat for a few moments, much to her chagrin, before speaking again. “I’ll be gone for about two weeks.” 

“Oh,” Sakura said, and she hoped her disappointment didn’t leak through her tone. “Well, good luck, be careful.” 

The dark-haired nin rolled his eyes as if to say  duh  before setting his eyes on hers again, “I’ll see you when I return.” 

From anyone else, especially anyone with their... arrangement , it would have-- should have-- been a question. Based on the way Sasuke’s gaze burned into hers and the tone of his voice, it seemed like more of a promise. 

Sakura could only nod and hope heat didn’t rise to her cheeks. “You know where to find me. Have a safe mission, Sasuke-kun.” 

“Aa,” he nodded. “Good-bye, Sakura.” 

He left her with one last look over his shoulder before opening her window and leaping out into the daytime. As soon as he was gone, the yearning for his presence began. Sakura sighed to herself before shoveling more food in her mouth, made tasteless by Sasuke’s absence. 

 
 
 

Sakura had just dropped her belongings on her floor and flopped face down on her couch in exhaustion when she heard quick, loud raps at her front door. She whined into the cushions quietly, staying perfectly still as the knocks stopped and moments of silence passed. 

The knocking began again and she felt a familiar, cool chakra flickering at the edges of her awareness and she groaned louder. 

“Forehead!” came a muffled voice. “I know you’re home, let me in.” 

She huffed before hauling herself up and stomping over to the door. 

Sakura hoped her face looked as scary as possible as she swung the door open and glared at the blonde standing with her arms crossed in front of her. 

“What, pig? I  just  ended my shift,” Sakura growled. Ino rolled her eyes and shoulder checked Sakura as she welcomed herself in. 

Sakura gaped for a moment as the woman kicked off her sandals and sashayed into her living room as if she owned the place. 

“Can’t a girl come visit her best friend?” the blonde woman pouted, blinking innocently at Sakura as she shuffled over to sit beside her on the couch, grumbling the whole way. 

“Not when her best friend just pulled a 14-hour shift,” Sakura quipped. “What do I owe the  pleasure  of this visit, Ino?” 

“I just wanted to spend time with you,” Ino sighed dramatically, swinging her legs over Sakura’s lap. When Sakura looked pointedly from the woman’s legs to her face, Ino simply wiggled her toes gleefully. 

“That’s sweet. Thanks for stopping by, good night!” Sakura said in her most sickeningly sweet voice, sarcasm dripping. 

“Nice try, forehead,” Ino scoffed. “What with a certain Uchiha occupying your nights and free days, I have to get in where I fit in.” 

“Ino, shut up,” Sakura groaned, grabbing a pillow to shove over her face. She figured if she held it there long enough, Ino would leave or she’d smother herself to death. 

Any way to avoid  this  topic of conversation.  

“Nope,” Ino popped her lips on the ‘p’. “I also figured you’d be lonely, since lover-boy is away from the village for a little while. I wouldn’t want you to mope around all lonesome.” 

“No moping here,” Sakura said chipperly. She moved the pillow away from her face. “Just sleeping. You should try it.” 

“Aw, a sleepover?” Ino gasped dramatically, “Just like the old times!” 

“No,” Sakura deadpanned. “I mean you sleep at  your house , and leave mine.” 

“You wound me, billboard brow.”  

Sakura sighed, pinching the bridge of her nose. “Tell me what you want, pig.” 

“I’ve been thinking,” Ino said, and her face was serious when Sakura glanced up. 

“That’s never good. Don’t hurt yourself.” 

“Shut up,” Ino said, continuing, “I’ve been thinking about  you . And Sasuke. Your not-boyfriend.”  

Sakura simply stared, sure she would get to her point eventually.  

“I think you should begin seeing other people,” Ino looked at her steadily. 

“What I do and who I do it with isn’t any of your business Ino,” Sakura sighed. “And we’ve been through this.  Hundreds  of times.” 

“Yes, yes,” Ino waved her off. “But we aren’t teenagers anymore. And we never controlled for you fucking the love of your life nightly-- I mean  every other night . So, what I’m proposing is you just... broaden   your horizons. You swore to me that nothing is and never will happen between you and the Uchiha. So…” 

“So?” Sakura repeated, “What is your point? Oh, and again,  how  is that your business?”  

 “Your life became my business the day I put that ribbon in your hair,” Ino snapped, “Stop interrupting me. What I’m trying to say is that instead of just wasting all your time an energy on this man you’re supposedly  only  fucking… I say you fuck him all you want, but open yourself up for something real with literally anyone else. Maybe when we were kids it was the Uchiha or nothing, but Sakura… you’re a woman now. And you deserve to be with someone you love and who  loves you back . If you are convinced that isn’t him… maybe there is someone else out there waiting for you to open your eyes to anyone without a sharingan.” 

“Ino…”  

Ino shook her head and held up her hand before Sakura could retort. “Sakura, please. It’s just a suggestion, and I’m not saying just...be with someone else to get over Sasuke. Just… be open. Give someone a chance, for once.”  

Sakura snorted, “Someone would have to want a chance for me to give them one.” 

“I can think of at least  five  men who you have shot down because you were stuck on the damned Uchiha,” Ino retorted. “And that’s just counting  viable  options.” 

“Ino, I’ve loved him for what feels like forever,” Sakura said quietly. “I’ve accepted that I may never...have him the way I always wanted. But… I don’t know how to not love him, yet. And when I figure out how I don’t know if I’ll be able to love anyone else.” 

“Love doesn’t just happen, Sakura,” Ino said, placing a gentle hand on her shoulder. Sakura felt as if her azure eyes were mirrors to her own soul. “It’s something that grows, but it has to be tended to. Nurtured. And if it dies… you can try again. Grow it differently, and it may not be the same as it was before, but it will have beauty in its own way.” 

“Don’t tell me that was a flower analogy,” Sakura gave a small smile. 

“Of course it was, forehead, I’m a fucking florist by non-shinobi trade.” 

“Loving him was never like the flowers from your shop, Ino,” Sakura whispered. Her face felt warm but she couldn’t help but be honest with her friend. “It was always...wild. Something that could barely be tamed. I never meant for it to grow, but it just… did.” 

“And it took over,” Ino added. “And it choked off the roots of any other meaningful connections you could have formed. I just want to know Sakura...do you think if maybe you stopped letting your life revolve around him, it might be easier to let go?” 

Sakura was quiet for some time before she managed to answer, “I’ve been holding on for so long. I don’t know what happens when I let go.” 

Ino was quiet then, too. But she pulled Sakura into her embrace and stroked her hand over her hair. Sakura shut her eyes and pressed into her, seeking comfort from the one person she knew cared for her more than anything, and didn’t judge her for listening to her silly heart instead of her good senses. 

 
 

Sasuke’s return to active duty had been tumultuous, verging on infuriating at times. Missions were a splash of cold water on his back, a reminder that his atonement would likely be a lifelong commitment, and many did not forgive as easily as his beloved Team 7.  

In the beginning, he and Naruto were placed together both for his sake and that of the hidden villages. Naruto was both the big stick and the diplomacy and Sasuke’s unofficial keeper to the majority of the world. The love and respect he’d earned acted as a buffer between Sasuke and anyone who mistrusted him… and Naruto was also the only shinobi alive who could detain and  deal with  a traitorous Uchiha should the occasion arise.  

When Konoha leadership began to trust that Sasuke was a changed man, and a huge asset and Naruto was burdened with his own diplomatic responsibilities as the shoe-in for the Hokage hat, things became tense. The Uchiha found himself on missions among wary company at best, and totally distrustful and antagonistic at worst. 

Unfortunately, Sasuke found his current mission to be filled with squad members who fell into the latter category. 

Sasuke ran quietly at the head of the squad, pointedly ignoring the glares he felt burning into his back. He’d heard enough of their so-called whispers about his history and what they thought of his intentions. He decided early on during their journey to only speak when spoken to directly, and only regarding matters that were important to the mission. 

He scoffed internally, because had it been his choice, this mission would have been solo, anyway. It was almost offensive how easy it was turning out to be, and the two other members of the three-cell team were virtually unnecessary in his eyes. Sasuke figured it would take a lot more time for them to entrust him with solo work, so he swallowed his annoyance and did as was required of him. 

The sun beat down on them through the patterns of leaves above. Sasuke enjoyed the warmth, the heat of it and the warmth of the breeze on his face. After living in self-imposed darkness and then locked underground for the better part of a year, Sasuke would never forsake light, and the opportunity to exist in the day even if everyone else saw shadows because of his presence.  

“Uchiha,” a voice called out behind him. 

He glanced back over his shoulder and upon seeing a quick hand signal dropped down from the trees, sharingan activating as he slid his katana from its scabbard. 

Sasuke and his team members fell upon a group of nukenin who were attempting to ambush a party of the Fire Daimyo’s relatives and members of his advisorship. 

As Sasuke dodged attacks and cut down the enemy, he briefly thought about how they did not make rogue-nin of Zabuza’s caliber anymore. It was almost pitiful, how easily this group of ten was incapacitated. Sasuke managed to defeat a handful of them totally unscathed. 

It took longer for his team to calm the cowering would-be victims once all of the had been dealt with or detained for interrogation. 

“We will escort your party to your destination,” Sasuke whipped his sword around, the blood of the enemy flicking off with a quiet  splat . “In case there are any more rogues who would attempt an ambush.” 

The elites tittered about with relief before clambering back into their carriages. Sasuke snorted quietly to himself. 

It was ironic, he thought, that these men who were so dependent on and thankful for his protection could have been his own victims not two years ago had he had the need for supplies or intel.  

His squad leader approached him as the carriages and their accompaniment began to move forward again. “Take care of these bodies. Uchiha. I assume you will be able to catch up.” 

Sasuke nodded, turning his face to face the dead strewn about the ground. He went about dragging the lifeless nin into a haphazard pile to easier pinpoint his jutsu.  

It seemed fitting in a way, that he would lay these undervalued and despised souls to rest. 

He closed his eyes, and when they reopened his mangekyou was activated and he muttered  Amaterasu . Sasuke watched as the dead men were engulfed by the flames and wondered what horrors they’d run from to lead them into the darkness. Or if they’d created the horrors and the darkness. Or if it were both. He wondered if they were like him, the last of a clan, or shunned by their village. Perhaps they were the victims of their stories and this was a bitter, unhappy end to a life of equal misery. As they burned, Sasuke burned with them and wondered if this was his fate he escaped or postponed-- burning to ash in the wake of greedy elites whose crimes were not theft, murder and pillaging of small towns and passing caravans but of entire lands, nations and clans.  

Sasuke lowered his gaze to the ground as what was once a band of rogue ninja became nothing more than a pile of dust. He had never been much for praying, but he thought about the men he killed finding peace or punishment wherever their souls went.  

He bid the black flame to stop, and leapt away from the scorched road, into the trees to rejoin his squad. As he flashed through the treeline, the smell of burnt flesh and ash stung his nose.  

 
 

 
 

Sasuke meandered through the village gates in the darkness of night. He spared barely a nod to the chunin guards, not bothering to bid his squad goodbye. He tipped his head back to peer at the sky above.  

He’d been gone longer than two weeks, despite plans. The daimyo ordered their extended presence, likely as a show of power to the officials he was meeting from outside of his jurisdiction. If not for the chance to bathe and sleep in a real bed, Sasuke might have objected on principle.    

It felt as if he’d been gone much longer. He’d missed her. Sasuke figured he’d be used to the separation, especially between them after everything. But after their recent...reunion, it felt different. 

Sasuke slowed to a stop, a short distance from his home. He made a split second decision, leaping on a nearby rooftop and running in the opposite direction.  

Minutes later, he was standing at Sakura’s home, knocking.  

 When the door to her apartment swung open, his muscles relaxed at the sight of her. It felt good to return-- to have someone to come back to. It was too late, and she should have been sleeping but Sasuke had to admit that for once he was glad his selfishness overran his good judgement. Seeing her was too good, and his life for so long had been bereft of good things. 

She beckoned him in wordlessly, a smile taking her lips. It was when she threw her arms about his shoulders, and pushed her weight against him that he smelled the faint scent of alcohol on her breath. 

“You’ve been drinking,” he murmured, reaching his hand up to catch her chin as she tried to kiss him. 

“Not a lot,” she sighed, moving her face away from his grasp and nuzzling into his collarbone. It was rare that she was so forward and affectionate these days, but Sasuke always appreciated the warmth of her when she was. 

“I’ve only just opened the bottle, actually,” she continued, and her voice was clear, if a bit breathy, so he did not stop her from pressing her lips to his. 

He kissed her deeply, but pulled away when she began tugging at his clothes. 

“You  should  be sleeping,” he said, and she clicked her tongue before detaching herself and sweeping past him into the living room. He took off his sandals and set down his sword and mission bag before joining her. “Why are you still awake?” 

“I’m not tired,” she cradled a small cup of sake, staring into her lap as she took a dainty sip. “I’m sure you are, after your mission. Plan to crash here?” 

“What’s the occasion?” he asked. When her eyes flitted up to look at him, he nodded toward the drink clutched to her chest. 

Her gaze shifted, and it seemed she was looking at something far away. Sakura mumbled, “Rough day at work,” before bringing her cup back to her lips. 

Sasuke watched her quietly, noticing the shiftiness of her legs and the way she gripped her cup tightly with both hands. She did not take another drink as the silence settled over them, simply staring at the photos resting on the small table to his left. 

Sasuke had known Sakura as a child, and despite years spent away as she grew, he had come to know her once again. So, he was sure that this silence, and the far-away look on her face meant that there were many things she was leaving unsaid. And Sakura was never a woman to hold her tongue.  

“Sakura,” he spoke low, but his voice seemed loud in the silence. 

“Yes, Sasuke-kun?” she turned her face back toward him, but her gaze did not meet his. 

“Do you,” he began, watching her as she suddenly stood and shuffled to her small cabinet, plucking another sake cup, “want to talk about it?” 

“No, Sasuke-kun,” she laughed, and it sounded fake, leaving a bitter taste at the back of his tongue. “If you’re not sleepy, you can have a drink with me, though.” 

“I’ll pass,” he replied. She crossed over to where he was sitting, sidling up close to his side and placed the cup in his hand anyway. 

“Come on,” she urged, biting her lip for a moment before meeting his eyes. “Just one. It’s depressing to drink alone, you know.” 

“You would have been doing that if I hadn’t come by,” he noted, but held his cup out because the tone of her voice was hard enough to resist without the feel of her pressed against him. 

She poured for him, before claiming her own drink again. “Good thing you showed up, then.” 

She drank it faster this time, finishing it in one swallow and setting it back down. 

He took a small sip. She gave him a pointed look, and he rolled his eyes before finishing it and setting the empty cup down beside hers. 

“Satisfied?” he questioned, catching her gaze. 

“Nearly,” she said quietly, languidly swinging her leg over his and settling herself in his lap. 

Their lips met slowly, and he wrapped an arm around her waist, pressing her close to his chest. He tried to soak in the feeling of her embrace, but quickly found her hands slipping beneath his shirt and her hips rolling against him tantalizingly.  

She tasted of sake and something else, and when she broke away to reach for the hem of her sleeping gown, he watched her carefully. 

She bared herself to his gaze, sitting on his lap in nothing but her underwear, but reached back for her cup instead of him, snatching up the bottle of sake. She took her drink quickly as he looked on. 

“Do you want to tell me why we’re really drinking?” he asked as she poured another. 

She shrugged, “Technically, am the one drinking. You only took one.” 

“Aa,” he murmured. “Because you still haven’t told me exactly what we’re drinking for.” 

He knew that she was too much of a heavyweight for three cups of sake to cause her fingers to tremble as they did. 

“I did tell you,” she muttered, tipping her cup back before falling back into his chest, stroking her hands over his shoulders. A tempting smile played at her lips, but did not reach her eyes. “Rough day.” 

“Why?” It was the only thing he could get out before her lips were on his again. He pulled away before he could lose himself, meeting her disgruntled stare with a raised brow. She scoffed, sitting up straight. 

“I lost a patient,” her voice was cold, a stark difference to the warm, liquid-like tone she was speaking to him with before.  

“I’m sorry,” he responded, a frown taking his face.  

“Don’t,” she said, her tone hard. She shut her eyes for a moment before her shoulders relaxed and she exhaled deeply. “Don’t be sorry.” 

“Do you want to talk about it?” Sasuke raked his fingers through her hair, a tightness building in his chest as she shook her head slowly. 

“No,” she whispered, and then she was pressed against him again, soft and supple against his torso. “ Talking  is the  last  thing I want to do.” 

Before he could muster a reply, Sakura captured his lips again, this time tugging at his shirt aggressively, sliding her tongue deep into his mouth. Sasuke was concerned, but it was easy to become lost in her as she rocked against him intimately and pulled at his hair. 

She had no want for words, and Sasuke was never any good at them. And there was a desperation in the way she touched him, so Sasuke figured the type of comfort she was seeking in that moment could not be verbalized anyway. 

Sasuke understood. He knew how loss felt, how it felt to be left empty and how the world would seem to lack warmth. He hated the thought of Sakura, who was like the personification of sunlight and comfort, suffering through that cold.  

So he wrapped his lone arm around her tightly, pressing her closer as she took her comfort from his mouth with her probing tongue, reached for it by the fingers she dug into his back. He let her pull away to rip his shirt off, tugging her back quickly against his bare chest, hoping that the warmth of his flesh would be enough to help chase away the chill of sadness and regret.  

When Sakura pulled away from their kiss with a gasp that rattled in her chest, he sought her neck with his lips. She sighed, and it sounded like relief, but he could hear an undertone heartbreak. 

“Sasuke-kun,” she breathed above his head. Her hands dropped to his lap, and she freed him from his pants with trembling hands. 

He palmed her face as she rose to her knees, pressing his forehead to hers as she pushed her underwear to the side and settled over him. A choked-off moan slipped from her lips as she lowered herself completely.  

Sasuke clasped her tight against him as she undulated in his lap, her pace quickening and slowing interchangeably, as did her breaths as she groaned and hissed and cried out.  

She chased her pleasure, moving urgently and gripping his shoulders tight. He watched her face closely, as her features twisted and jaw dropped open. Sasuke’s attention was drawn to the crease between her brows, the tightness with which she shut her eyes.  

A long moan ripped from her chest as she found her release, her head thrown back and  body shaking. Her pace did not falter as she slammed herself over him, leaning in to kiss him hungrily for a moment before pulling his head against her breast with a tug of his hair. 

Sasuke laved at her soft flesh with his tongue, nipping at her peaks and sighing deeply as she rolled her hips desperately. Her gasps became shaky and her moans strained, almost whining  as she raced herself to the peak again.  

He caught her face and brought it up to take her lips, kissing her gently. He stroked his hand over her heated flesh languidly, wordlessly willing her to slow down, to relax.  

Her movements stuttered before she sank into his lap, still rolling her hips and clutching at him as if she was hanging onto something by a thread and trying to seek purchase in the joining of their bodies. The pleasure of being so deep in her warmth was distant, his mind occupied with the trembling of her muscles, of her lips. 

“Sasuke,” she whispered, her voice thick. “Please.” 

Sasuke gripped her around her waist tightly as they rocked together, and it was only in a moment like this, holding her with only his right arm, that he cursed Naruto for taking his left. Her moans and gasps were sounding more and more like sobs, and Sasuke wished his soul brother had not taken it from him, if only so he could hold Sakura better with it. 

He lifted her body and the sound she made at the separation speared him. He laid her on her back, settling back over her quickly, gently ridding her of her undergarments and pressing his fingers into her center.  

She cried out in relief as he brought her to completion with his hand, gripping his hair tightly. When she kissed him, he tasted salt as it ran down her face and over their lips. 

Sasuke drank from her, her tears a liquor of passion laced with the bitterness of grief. He poured into her with his body, hoping to convey what he did not have the words to say. 

He breathed consolation into her mouth and kissed away the tears that gathered atop her closed eyelids. When she bucked her hips against his center, he sank into her and made love to her slowly, pressing deep and  praying  it was enough to fill whatever emptiness she felt inside. 

When he felt his end coming close, he moved to replace himself with his fingers once more, guiding her to climax again and again until her restless movements slowed and her body stilled, limp in his embrace. 

The last moan of her last release ended in a choked sob. When Sasuke placed a hand on Sakura’s flushed cheek, she peered up at the ceiling with glossy eyes.  

 
 

Sakura laid there for a few long moments, held flush against Sasuke’s body, the feel of his breath puffing against her neck. He was warm, so warm but her insides still felt icy, grief and self-disgust making everything feel frigid and hollow. 

She blinked away wetness from her eyes before sitting up abruptly and detangling herself from him. 

She fumbled for her sake bottle, pouring a glass and gulping it down at breakneck speed before replenishing the glass with another. She hoped the burn of the liquor would be enough to chase away the chill.  

“Sakura,” Sasuke called behind her. He placed his hand on her back. 

Sakura cleared her throat, muttering “What,” in a stiff tone before she took another drink. 

She could feel him watching as she refilled once again, “Maybe you should slow down.” 

She laughed and it tasted more bitter than the liquor against her tongue. 

“You think I can’t hold my drink?” she asked, curling away from his touch. “I was apprentice to fucking Tsunade.” To further prove her point, she refilled her cup again. 

“Do you want to talk about what happened with your patient?” he urged gently, eyeing the curve of her spine as she hunched into herself. 

“I told you,” she replied, and her voice sounded icy in her own ears, “I don’t want to talk. I wanted to fuck, and we did that. You should probably go home and get some rest.”  

She turned to face him with both the sake bottle and her cup clutched to her chest. Despite his stare, she didn’t meet his eyes as she continued pouring more drink. 

“I’m not tired,” he watched her drink it down. Liquid dripped down her chin and she swiped it away with practiced steadiness. Still, she knew the alcohol was beginning to take its effect. 

She could only wish it would work faster. 

“Well, can’t do anything about that,” she quipped. “So unless you want to have another drink with me, or fuck again, I have nothing else to offer tonight, Sasuke-kun.” 

When he only stared at her in response to her proposition, she scoffed and finished what was left in her cup before setting it down heavily on the table. Her face was flushed as she rested her forehead unsteadily in her hand. 

“You can talk to me,” Sasuke spoke gently, and Sakura swallowed the lump that formed in her throat. 

She did not raise her eyes to his, shaking her head numbly.  

“I don’t know what you want me to say,” Sakura responded after a long moment. Her words were slower, but not quite slurred.  

“Just... talk to me,” Sasuke responded, tense. Almost demanding. His tone caused aggravation to prickle down her spine, because since when did he ever care about her  talking

“What? You want me to say I failed?” she asked, straightening suddenly to look at him. Her voice was tight, and it was all she could do to keep it from shaking. “I did. Fucked up. Satisfied?”  

“You didn’t fail,” Sasuke started, but was quickly cut off by Sakura barking a laugh that held to mirth. 

“Someone dying in my care is  literally  a text-book example of failure,” she deadpanned, rolling her cup between her fingers.  

Sasuke shook his head, “No one is perfect, and sometimes people cannot be saved.” 

Sakura grit her teeth and pinned him with a stare. She could feel the flush of her cheeks, but she wasn’t sure if it was because of the drink or her misdirected anger. 

“I cannot afford to be imperfect, Sasuke,” she spit. If the lack of honorific affected him, she wouldn’t know. She  hated  how good he was at being poised when she was constantly trying to keep herself from falling apart around him.  “People put their lives in my hands. I’m supposed to fix them. I’m supposed to make sure they make it home. This patient... she was too young to die. It was a mission that shouldn’t have even gone wrong! And she was broken in a way I should have been able to... to fucking fix but I wasn’t. Now her family is left without their child, and a team of genin without their teammate. And that is the worst kind of pain and it’s  my  fault.” 

Sakura felt a sick kind of satisfaction when he had the decency to flinch, “It’s not your fault.” 

But she would be alive if I had been able to save her . She hugged herself, wondering if she would have to use enhanced strength to keep her heart together.  

“It is,” she whispered. “I’ve healed worse injuries. I’ve brought people back from the brink of death, shinobi, civilians. I tried everything, but it was... it was too late. I should have been faster,  tried using my seal but.... I didn’t, and then she was gone.” 

Sasuke hand shot out to halt Sakura’s movements as she reached for the sake again. She shrank away like his touch burned, and it  did . She thought she was past the days of Uchiha Sasuke being privy to her failures. 

“Sakura,” he spoke softly, trying his best to catch her gaze. “You did the best you could. She was a shinobi. She was willing to give her life for her village.” 

“Shinobi children are still fucking children,” Sakura spit out. “Life is short enough as it is for us. But she was a baby. And we are supposed to be at peace. It was my job to save her, to make sure she’d live to become a full-fledged shinobi. And I failed.” 

Her voice had risen steadily as she spoke, before breaking into a broken whisper with the last of her words.  

“It is a tragic loss,” Sasuke said. When Sakura glanced at his face, it looked like he was choosing his words carefully. “You’re the best medic in all five nations. If you weren’t able to save this girl, that means no one could have. You gave her the best chance she could have had.” 

“I gave her nothing,” Sakura snapped, her words slurred with drink and pain. She clutched her chest. “She isn’t the first patient I’ve lost. I know it comes with the job, with being a shinobi but... sometimes I feel like the only thing I’m good at is losing people.” 

This time she  knew  her words hit him. And it made her feel even worse, because she couldn’t apologize for a truth like this.  

He opened his mouth to speak once she met his eyes, but Sakura cut him off briskly, “Sasuke-kun, just- go home. I just need to... sleep it off. I always take it hard when I can’t save a patient, but... you don’t need to worry about it. I’ll be okay.” 

Sakura could feel the sting behind her eyeballs and the lump re-lodging itself in her throat. She knew it was only a matter of minutes before she fell apart, and she did not want to do it in front of this man she loved so dearly  again . Not when he had endured traumas far past anyone’s understanding-- she didn’t want him to see how weak she still was.  

Sakura attempted a reassuring smile. He shook his head, refusing to look away from her eyes. They stared at each other for a long time, and in that time the strained smile slipped from her face. 

Just go , she pleaded internally. Those eyes of his, they saw everything. And she had made too many mistakes tonight; between the drink and the way she bared her body to him, it would only take a little for her to spread herself open again, for him to see everything she tried to hide inside. As his eyes moved intently over her face she wanted to cry, wanting him to look away because she knew he was seeing all the things that made him not want her before.  

“I’m not leaving,” he said suddenly, his voice quiet. Before she could protest he pulled her back into his lap, locking his only arm around her waist. 

“Sasuke-kun,” she pushed against his chest. “Why?”  

There were so many reasons this did not make sense, because Sasuke the child wouldn’t have even been sitting there with her in her home, and Sasuke the man held no obligation to her, not this way. The arrangement they had didn’t call for  this , and if she looked too closely at it, she knew her fragile heart would be in danger. 

“Because you never left me,” he whispered, “and because I don’t want you to suffer alone.”  

Sakura felt the moment her heart overtook her good senses. And she was weak, so very weak to throw her arms around his neck, clinging to him as the first sob ripped from her chest. She cried for the child who died in her arms and the one who died in her heart when she decided to dedicate her life to death in foreign fields and in white rooms with white walls and white lights. Sakura shivered, because she was stripped bare, naked in her shame and her grief. If not for Sasuke’s strong grip around her body, she was sure she would crumble into millions of pieces. When she felt Sasuke’s arm tighten around her waist, her heart stuttered and she cried harder, because it had been so long since someone held her when she felt like the force of her failures and her imperfection would break her apart.  

 
 

Chapter Text

Sakura looked heartbreakingly beautiful in the slow-coming brightness of dawn. Sasuke gazed at her as sun rays peeked through the gaps of her living room curtains. They cast glowing beams across her sleeping face, reflecting on the redness on her cheeks and the tip of her nose. 

The lids of her eyes were still puffy, as were her slightly parted lips. Sasuke thought if he were to kiss the side of her face, he would taste the saltiness of tears she had shed in the dim moonlight the night before.

He ran his finger gently over the arch of a pale-pink brow, his touch light as not to wake her. It was too early to be awake, but sleep did not come easy with his fretful lover shivering against him throughout the night, stirring constantly, sometimes with a quivering breath or a quiet sob. She never woke fully and it made Sasuke’s chest feel heavy to see how her grief followed her even in slumber. It made him wonder how many nights Sakura had spent like this, falling asleep in tears that continued even as exhaustion pulled her away from consciousness.

It helped that her face looked relaxed now, even with the tell-tale signs of mourning still  etched onto her softened features. Even as she cries , Sasuke had thought as he held her through her sobbing and wailing, she is so beautiful

Then he wondered, bitterly, if he found such beauty in her displays of sadness because he’d acquired a taste for it, having been the reason behind it so many times, for so many years.

Sasuke was pulled from his loathsome thoughts as the woman stirred, turning away from his chest and curling into herself. Sasuke moved the hand that had somehow found its place in her petal-soft hair, and pulled the thin throw blanket higher around her shoulders, tucking it about her waist.

At some point when her crying had eased, Sasuke had maneuvered her listless form into her sleeping gown and under a blanket snagged from her couch. Though he’d failed to convince her to relocate to her bed, he comforted himself with the knowledge that, like he had, she’d likely had to sleep on worse surfaces than the plush rug spread over her living room floor.

Still, Sasuke pressed close to her back and slung his arm over her waist, hoping to provide warmth to help with the draft of the early hours. 

Sakura settled, her breaths still deep and slow as she slept. He pressed his face into her hair, breathing in the scent. 

Sasuke realized he had not seen Sakura cry like that in years. It was the first time that he had stayed with her, comforted her. It shamed him to admit that he probably had many opportunities in the past, but was too blinded by his own rage and bitterness to be there for her when she needed it. Sakura was always ready and willing to offer comfort, share a burden that was not hers to carry. So many times had he given her his back when she tried to offer her support to help ease his suffering. He wondered how she was so kind, how a person could have so much grace to let someone like him be with her, holding her like this. 

Sasuke thanked the gods he hardly believed in that Haruno Sakura was forgiving. Especially because he knew he didn’t deserve her clemency. It was good, being able to be there for her in a time such as this, because he knew suffering was exacerbated when one had to endure the pain of loneliness in tandem. If only he knew what to say, how to verbalize what she needed to hear. He wished she would not internalize such a tragic accident and make it into her own personal shortcoming.

Sasuke knew failure, intimately so. And he would never understand how Sakura, who believed so whole-heartedly that he was redeemable despite a lifetime worth of mistakes, could for one second believe she was somehow inadequate . Her humility was commendable, but aggravating to those who admired her. 

And he did admire her. Sakura was giving. She gave of herself completely to everyone around her, and Sasuke wished he could teach her to be selfish. He worried her self-sacrificing ways could one day be her undoing. It was as if she felt she never did enough, despite holding entire friendships, teams and institutions together. Sasuke imagined she could give her life for someone else, and still manage to have an apology on her lips for not doing even more.

He sighed to himself, running his gaze over her form again. The hair at the back of her head was tousled from sleeping, though Sasuke was sure he was at least partially at fault for the disarray. Her sleeping clothes slipped to one side, exposing a creamy shoulder to the gentle light. He leaned close to press a soft kiss there, before resting his chin atop her head. 

   Sasuke sighed deeply once more and shut his eyes. His lover seemed peaceful now, and the exhaustion from a long mission plus emotional fatigue was catching up to him. Although he was sure he had probably less than three hours before Sakura would begin her day, he allowed himself to fall asleep. He was no stranger to operating on very little rest, and it was all the more worth it to be able to hold this woman in his arms and know that, at least for the moment, her pain was subdued and she could rest. 

~

Sasuke woke to Sakura trying to wriggle free from his hold. His eyes squinted open, fluttering as they struggled to adjust to the now bright light beaming through her curtains. Sakura clasped his arm gently, lifting it away from her waist. The way her movements were slow and halted, he assumed she must still think him asleep.

He tightened his grip on her, murmuring, “Sakura,” into the back of her head.

The woman froze before turning her head to look at him over her shoulder. 

“Sasuke-kun, good morning,” she said, and her voice was slightly scratchy with sleep or tears or both. “Let me up, please?”

“Where are you going? Lay down,” he mumbled, eyes slipping shut again. He pressed his cheek against the crown of her head, wishing she would just lie still so they could both go back to sleep.

Sasuke heard her huff, and she lifted his arm again, rolling away from him. He opened his eyes to peer at her blearily. She did not look back in his direction as she adjusted her sleeping clothes and smoothed down her hair.

“Just getting up,” she responded, still facing away. “I usually get my day started around this time. You should go home to get some rest, I know you must still be tired after your mission.”

Sasuke finally accepted his slumber would be delayed for the moment and sat up, running his hand through his own hair.

“Are you going to the hospital?” he asked, watching as she gathered the open bottle of sake on her table and searched for the cap.

When she found it, Sakura closed the bottle and returned it to her cupboard, “No, Tsunade suggested I take the day off after… what happened.”

“Hn,” Sasuke hummed. He stood, tossing her throw blanket back on the couch and approached her where she stood trying to straighten random items that had been moved out of place.

Sasuke was still tired, and he disliked that she seemed hesitant to look at him. When he was within arms reach, he placed his hand on her shoulder.

“If you don’t have work,” he said quietly, “let’s go back to bed. You could use more rest.”

“I’m not tired,” Sakura replied, clearing her throat delicately as she moved away from him once again. She busied herself with stacking the sake cups and taking them to the kitchen.

Sasuke watched as she returned, now preoccupied with fixing the rug on the floor. She glanced at him briefly

“Please, feel free to go to my room and get some more sleep, if you don’t feel like making the walk to your place. I’m sorry to have kept you awake so late after your mission.” She straightened, her hands clasped together behind her back.

“Don’t apologize,” he said. She finally turned to face him, but she carefully avoided directly meeting his gaze.

“No, I should,” she said softly. Bashful. “I- didn’t want you to see that. I mean, it’s not usually… I’m not sure why this particular patient affected me so much. Usually I can handle it. When it happens, I generally have a few drinks and just sleep it off, but I wasn’t expecting a visitor you know and I did drink quite a bit pretty fast and…”

Sasuke stepped until he was standing right in front of her. She quieted, finally meeting his gaze as he stared down at her.

“Don’t apologize,” he repeated, voice quiet. He reached to touch her shoulder again, squeezing it gently. 

He wanted to tell her he would stay up holding her until the sun rose and set in one hundred cycles if it would bring her comfort and quiet her worries. He wanted to tell her there was no shame in grief, that it took him most of his life to learn that and perhaps if he had been more like her, it wouldn’t have taken them just so long to get here. He wanted to tell her that it was an honor to be able to wipe away her tears instead of causing them. 

The words brewing in his chest did not get the chance to pour from his lips before Sakura stepped back once again, averting her gaze as a small smile plastered itself on her face.

“Thank you, Sasuke-kun, for everything,” she said. And her voice was sincere, but something felt hollow between the syllables and it started to feel that way between his ribs, too.

“You don’t need to thank me,” he said and her smile tightened a little more.

“Right,” she said quietly, nodding and glancing up at his face again. “Of course. Well, I hate to be rude, but there are some things I want to do today. So, if you weren’t planning to stay and sleep more…”

Sasuke was reluctant to leave her alone, but he figured he would be the worst kind of hypocrite if he denied her solace in her grieving. 

“I’ll get going,” he saved her from the awkwardness of kicking him out explicitly. He found his shirt on the floor behind him and tugged it over his head. 

It wasn’t until he’d slipped into his sandals and retrieved his mission gear that she approached him again. 

“Bye, Sasuke-kun,” she murmured as he opened the door. He nodded once over his shoulder before ducking away from her door. 

As he ran across buildings with the early morning sun beating down on him, Sasuke felt like something heavy settled in his stomach.

~

Sakura pressed her back against the door after Sasuke’s exit, sliding down slowly until her rear met the floor. She pressed her forehead to her knees, and wrapped her arms around her middle, tightly, as if it would stop the trembling of her limbs.

She was exhausted, too tired to even manage a sob. Tears simply trickled down her face as she stared into her lap.

Guilt and shame curdled in her stomach, bubbling into a burning sensation that spread through her chest. In her mind’s eye, she could see the image of a tiny shinobi laying lifeless against a hospital bed, and she could still hear the sound that ripped from the mother’s throat when she was told that her child was gone, forever.

A gasping breath rattled through Sakura’s lungs and she squeezed her eyes shut as if that would protect her from the images. 

Of course it did not work. She pried her eyes open and unwrapped her arms, gazing at her trembling hands. They were littered with visible scars from years of training and battle, and stained with invisible blood, that of enemies and friends. As she gazed upon these hands that she had broken and mended and split open and stitched up over and over again, she wondered what it was all for

What did it matter that she had built mountains from sand when her people still bled and hurt and died in these hands? 

Sakura felt weak . Helpless. Because she knew there was no training, nothing more she could do to make up for the limitations of her bloodline, of her chakra. Save for the one jutsu she knew that cost the ultimate price, she was powerless against death. For all her skill, it was an enemy she could never destroy.

Sakura laughed then, a watery, pitiful sound because Tsunade had told her when she was all forehead and big green eyes that she was made for this. Her shishou told her that her mind, her chakra control was perfect-- that she would be able to mend hundreds of thousands of bodies (and eventually break them apart, too).

Tsunade never told her that she lacked the heart for it. That even after seeing more death than shinobi twice her age, she could never forget the names of patients she lost, or the faces of enemies she had killed. No one told her that she’d never get used to it-- that every failure felt like the first, a fresh wound on pure flesh, no scar tissue to numb the sensation. 

All Sakura had in times like this was her secrecy. Time and shinobi lifestyle had made an excellent liar out of her. No one needed to know that she drowned her sorrows in the neck of a sake bottle when someone died in her care and sobbed herself to sleep in the darkness of her apartment when loneliness choked her about her neck and squeezed through the valves of her heart. She could pretend it was all fine, until there was no one there to see her falling apart. 

Sakura was good at pretending. She pretended to find Naruto’s jokes funny all the time, that a part of her didn’t resent Kakashi for never paying attention to her like he did his more powerful students. She could pretend that she wasn’t jealous of Ino’s figure, that she didn’t question the choices made by the village she had pledged her life and loyalty to.

She could pretend she was over Uchiha Sasuke, that she was not still completely in love with him, so much so that she was willing to let him fuck her with no strings attached just so she could have him in her life.

It was easy to pretend. Easy to fool everyone, except him . Even when she was at her best, Uchiha Sasuke and his eyes saw everything. And on nights like the one before, where she was already on edge, and her emotions in disarray, Sakura did not have a chance.

She could never lie to him. Even if everyone else fell for the facade, he knew her better. 

Sakura never wanted him to see her weak like that, not again. Not when she had grown, when she had toiled so hard to be the opposite of the crybaby weakling she had been fated to be since she was handed her headband. 

Her love for him made her sloppy, because she should have just turned him away at her doorstep. She should have feigned exhaustion, drunkenness, sent him home. But she let him inside of her space and her body as both were laden with mourning, and ultimately unraveled at the seams. She was too greedy for him; she ached constantly for presence, for his body near hers. Sakura sought distraction in the physicality of their coupling, hoped to forget by becoming drunk on his flesh and his sensual attention. Having him the only way she could was meant to be a comfort, as it had been since they began their arrangement.

Sakura laughed again, because of how silly she was to think this would ever be enough. How ironic , she thought. She had become so good at pretending she deluded herself into thinking she could let her love for Sasuke exist in the bedroom, and be satisfied with just that. 

She could not be a fool, not even to herself, any longer. Sasuke had to know she still loved him, pined after him. He was far too observant to miss the signs. He had given all he was willing to give, and his heart was not included. It would never be. 

A strange kind of peace settled over Sakura, the cold kind that made her calm, but brought with it no contentment. It was not an epiphany, rather acceptance. She accepted that she was an imperfect being, that she would never stand equal with loved ones who had been birthed from a lineage of gods. She accepted that her love for Sasuke would never be met with more than steadfast comradery and semi-platonic affection. 

Sakura pulled herself from the floor, a stillness within her that was in great contrast to the tumultuous feelings of grief and unrequited adoration. She made her way to her room and into her bathroom thoughtlessly. As water cascaded over her face and down her body, no more tears came.

~

Sakura entered her friend’s flower shop and made her way to the counter, waiting patiently as a customer finalized their purchase. 

“Forehead,” Ino called once the customer stepped away with their bouquet in hand. “What brings you here?”

“Pig. I was wondering if you’d like to grab dinner, since you’re closing soon,” Sakura leaned against the counter. “My treat.”

“Free dinner? I would never turn that down,” Ino grinned, “are we dining in or taking out?”

“Not much for being in public, today,” Sakura replied quietly. Ino studied her face for a moment before nodding and circling around the counter.

She looped an arm around Sakura’s shoulders, squeezing her to her side briefly, “Takeout it is. We can go back to my place, if you like.”

Sakura nodded and Ino let her go, shoo-ing her toward the exit, so she could go about closing up shop. 

Ino chattered relentlessly as they sought a kiosk that fit both their tastes. She complained about the kids who came running into the store, grabbing at the flowers with grubby little rough hands, and elderly patrons who had the nerve to try and haggle over her prices. Sakura chuckled and hummed and scoffed at all the right places, but did not contribute much to the conversation.

When they got their food, Ino linked her arm with Sakura’s and they made their way to her home in a comfortable silence. Ino welcomed her in and set up a mat for both of them to rest on while they ate their meal at her coffee table. Ino spoke more about her day at the shop, emphasizing that no matter how annoying her patrons were, she loved the time away from the hospital to watch over her family’s business.

Sakura was halfway through her meal when Ino went completely silent. She could feel eyes on her so she glanced up to see the blonde woman studying her face.

“How are you feeling?” Ino asked, still holding her gaze with icy blue irises. 

“Fine,” Sakura said, looking back to her food as she dug her chopsticks in for another bite. “I think this is going to give me heartburn, though.”

“Sakura,” Ino said and the seriousness of her tone made Sakura want to flinch. “I mean how are you handling having lost a patient?”

Sakura did flinch, then. “You heard, huh?”

Ino did not respond, simply watching as Sakura set her food down and pushed her hair away from her face.

She rested her cheek on one of her knees and muttered, “I’m alright. Last night was hard, but I’m okay now.” 

“You’re telling me you’re over it?” Ino asked, raising a pale brow.

“I’m never over it, Ino,” Sakura sighed. “But I manage to accept it, because it’s part of the job. Fretting won’t change anything in the end.” 

“You’re starting to act like him,” Ino said, and Sakura wasn’t sure if it was offense on her behalf or his that simmered in her gut. “You’re becoming like how Sasuke used to be.”

“How would you know how he used to be,” Sakura mumbled, petulant. “You barely knew him.”

“I know you ,” Ino retorted. “You don’t just smother pain and brush off feelings. You cry and get fucked up and have existential crises.”

“Yeah, I did that don’t worry,” Sakura said, shoveling another bite of food in her mouth. It was made tasteless by the scolding.

“You should have sent for me,” Ino frowned. “I don’t like the idea of you grieving all alone. It’s okay to be comforted by your friends.”

“I wasn’t alone,” she muttered, and wished she could swallow the words when Ino quirked her brow once again.

“Oh?” she tilted her head to the side. “I did hear that Sasuke’s team returned from his mission late last night.”

The only response Sakura gave was a quiet hum. 

“I’m glad he was there for you,” Ino stated. “I worry about you.”

Sakura rolled her eyes, “Don’t, Ino-pig.”

“You still fucking him without acknowledging your feelings?”

“Nice set up, Pig,” Sakura drawled.

“Answer the question.”

“Okay mom ,” Sakura spit, setting her empty food carton down and crossing her arms. “Yes, I’m still fucking him, no, I have not confessed my feelings for him again since the last time. And no, I don’t plan on doing so in the near or distant future.”

“So what’s the plan?” Ino asked, leveling Sakura with a challenging stare. 

“I’m going to move on,” Sakura responded. She wished she had a camera to capture the look on her companions face. “That’s one of the things I wanted to talk with you about.”

“I’m listening,” Ino responded, sounding slightly dazed. “Forgive me, I’m in utter shock, but I am definitely listening.”

Sakura rolled her eyes, fiddling with the fabric on her arms mindlessly.

“I thought about the conversation we had,” Sakura started, meeting Ino’s gaze. “You talked about being open and...I want to try. I don’t think I can take it anymore, pining after this man with no hope or end in sight. I have to accept what Sasuke and I have as what it is. And I know that despite how much I love him, it’s not enough.”

“Are you going to tell him?” Ino asked. Sakura shook her head.

“There’s no need to. I don’t plan to just...hop into a relationship. I just want to be more open to meeting people, seeing people casually for now.”

“Will you continue sleeping with Sasuke until something becomes serious?” Something on her face must have been answer enough because Ino clicked her tongue and grinned. “Figures. That good, huh?”

Sakura sighed and palmed her forehead, “Too good. I’m almost afraid nothing will compare.”

“It probably won’t,” Ino shrugged. “But nothing has to be perfect to be good. If such perfection was possible, you’d have Sasuke’s heart and his dick in your hand.”

“If only,” Sakura muttered and Ino sighed a chuckle. “I mean, I’m single. I’m in my twenties, there’s no reason I shouldn’t…”

“Have your cake and eat it too?” Ino supplied and Sakura shrugged. “I agree. You’re young, you’re hot and one of the most infamous kunoichi in the village and beyond. Sasuke can eat rocks.”

Sakura sighed and shook her head. “It isn’t his fault. You can’t force yourself to love someone. I believe he cares for me, as a friend and a teammate. And after everything we went through… I can accept that. I just don’t want to wait anymore for something that will never happen.” 

It was impossible to keep the sadness from seeping into her tone. Sakura went quiet as her ribs suddenly felt tight and her chest empty. She had convinced herself she gave up the notion of Sasuke falling in love with her years ago, but verbalizing it now to her best friend was so final and it left her feeling lost. 

Ino clicked her tongue and scooted around the coffee table to loop her arms around Sakura, pressing her cheek to the top of her head.

“Uchiha Sasuke can eat rocks,” she muttered, squeezing Sakura tighter. “He’s a fool to let you slip away. Any man would be lucky to accept half the love and devotion you gave to him. And you have the best ass in Konoha.”

Sakura let out a shaky laugh. “You have the best tits.”

“That’s why we’re the perfect pair,” Ino cooed. “Forehead, I’m glad you’re doing something to ensure your happiness.”

“Thanks,” Sakura whispered.

“Perfect timing, too,” Ino dipped her head to look at Sakura with a grin. “I have the perfect guy in mind. I know for a fact he’s interested in you, too.”

“You don’t waste any time, do you?” Sakura drawled, pulling away from her friend’s embrace. “Who is it and how do you know he’s interested?”

“He’s an old schoolmate of one of my older cousins,” Ino said. “Graduated two years ahead of us, jounin, tall, sexy and pretty laid back from what I can tell. And I know he’s interested because he asked my cousin to ask me if you’re single.”

“And what did you tell your cousin to tell him?” Sakura asked apprehensively. Ino’s grin became decidedly more wicked as she batted her lashes.

“I told him yes you’re single,” Ino started, “ and that you would have dinner with him next weekend. That was last week, so that’s this weekend. Friday. I can cover you for the last leg of your shift so you can meet him at seven.” 

Sakura recoiled, “ Ino ! You- how could you make plans like that without asking if I would be willing first!”

“I knew you’d say yes, you’re open now.”

“I wasn’t last week!” Sakura scoffed. “How did you know I would be open ?”

Ino shrugged, “I’m a sensor.”

“That doesn’t even make sense.”

The blonde waved her hand nonchalantly. Sakura groaned and smacked her hand against her forehead. 

“Careful Billboard Brow, you wouldn’t want that thing to swell,” Ino chided and Sakura resisted the urge to stab her in the eye with a chopstick.

“Pig, you are impossible,” Sakura breathed. Ino laughed heartily.

“But you love me,” Ino sing-songed. “You’re gonna love me even more once you see how hot this guy is.”

~

By the time Sakura left Ino’s place she was exhausted, but her spirits were lifted and chest felt lighter. The blonde-haired kunoichi was obnoxious and nosy, but she was a good friend and she knew how to make Sakura feel grounded when she needed support. And for all her prying and oftentimes unsolicited advice, she never judged Sakura’s choices (even when they were not good ones).

Sakura walked through the dark streets, lost in thought. There were a few kiosks still opened, serving food to night owls and people who had stumbled their way from bars seeking something to soak up the liquor in their stomachs. She was halfway through the sparse crowd of bodies when she felt two achingly familiar chakra signatures nearby.

“Sak’ra-chan!” Naruto’s voice called from somewhere on her left.

She stopped walking and turned to find Naruto jogging over to her. She huffed quietly as she was wrapped up in a constricting hug, Naruto lifting her slightly so her toes skimmed over the ground. Sasuke stood behind him, hand in his pocket. His eyes met hers over Naruto’s shoulder and he gave her a nod. 

“What are you two up to?” Sakura asked as she was finally set back down on the ground. She could still feel Sasuke’s eyes on her even as she directed the question to their whiskered friend.

“We had a late dinner at Ichiraku ‘ttebayo,” Naruto said, linking his fingers behind his head. “We stopped by your place to bring you along, but you weren’t home.”

“Ah, gomen Naruto,” Sakura replied. “I was having dinner at Ino’s. Just heading home now.”

“You should join teme and me,” Naruto grinned, jostling Sasuke’s shoulder much to the man’s displeasure it seemed. “Let’s get a drink!”

“I said I wasn’t drinking with you, dobe,” Sasuke grumbled. Sakura chuckled at the whine Naruto made in response.

“I have an early shift tomorrow, so I probably shouldn’t either,” Sakura said with an apologetic smile. Naruto huffed dramatically, shoulders slumping.

“I just wanted to have a Team 7 outing, it’s been a while,” Naruto sighed forlornly. Sakura and Sasuke shared a brief glance. He was laying it on thick, tonight. “How about Friday night, around eight?”

Sakura grimaced, “I have, uh, plans around that time. I don’t have a shift until later Saturday afternoon, so maybe we could meet up for something late night? Or breakfast?”

Naruto grinned, “I say we get trashed Friday night and have breakfast together the next morning!”

“Dobe, if you get trashed you won’t be getting up in time for breakfast,” Sasuke rolled his eyes and Sakura’s lips twitched. He glanced at her knowingly and she quickly averted her gaze.

“Shut up, bastard. Anyway, I guess I’ll head home since you two are acting like old cronies,” Naruto stretched, ruffling Sakura’s hair and darting away when she took a half-hearted swipe at him. “Teme?”

“Go on,” Sasuke waved Naruto off, keeping his eyes on Sakura until she met his gaze. “I can walk you home, Sakura.”

She nodded with a quiet ‘thank you’, turning to wave at Naruto before they turned to go their separate ways. 

The pair walked in silence, but Sakura’s insides were in turmoil. All the confidence and determination gained through her conversation with Ino seemed to evaporate when faced with her dark haired paramour. His presence was almost stifling-- his chakra thrummed against her senses, so palpable she felt as if it could infiltrate her own network. They were not quite touching, but he was close enough that she could feel the heat of him by her side. It made her pulse quicken and her cheeks warm, the way her body reacted to him. Her mind may well have decided that Uchiha Sasuke would never be the one for her, but her blood still sang for him, her bones and muscles and sinew would not forget that she loved him. 

“You didn’t have to walk me home, you know,” Sakura broke the silence to muffle the noise of her traitorous body and treacherous heart.  

“I know,” Sasuke replied. He gave no further explanation, and when Sakura glanced at him, his dark eyes were focused on the road ahead. His face gave away no particular emotion.

The silence settled again, but they were but a few yards away from her apartment building. They bypassed the stairs by leaping up to the railing, and Sakura turned to face her quiet companion as she stood in front of her door.

“Did you want to come in?” she asked somewhat awkwardly, part of her hoping he would decline. She still felt pricks of embarrassment after her antics the night before.

But Sasuke nodded, so she unlocked the door and stepped through, standing by as he drifted in, still so quiet. She closed the door and went about taking off her sandals, and Sasuke did the same.

“Tea?” she offered, because it was polite and it gave her something to do with her hands other than reaching for him. 

Sakura did not wait for an answer before padding to her kitchen. She felt rather than heard Sasuke following behind her. 

“Are you alright?” he asked. She retrieved her kettle and filled it up with water.

“Yes,” she said as turned on the stove. When she turned, Sasuke was standing right there, staring intently into her face.

“You’re sure?” he pressed, and she could see the subtle change in his features. Concern shone in his deep irises and in the barely visible crease between his brows. 

It was bittersweet, his care. She valued it, this signifier of his growth and their established friendship. Sakura had hoped for years that he would come to hold affection and respect for her.

Not like this . Sakura pushed the thought away and offered a gentle smile.

“Yes,” she repeated, softly. “Thank you again for staying with me last night.”

This would be enough.

Sasuke nodded once, dark eyes still fixed on her face. Sakura held his gaze for a moment before averting hers and moving away to take a seat at her small kitchen table. 

He joined her and she could not prevent her eyes from running over his form. He was truly beautifully made, all sharp angles and delicate features. She could see the boy she had fallen for so many years ago in his face, but with the years had come a solidity and keenness to replace the softness before. Sakura wondered if the severity of his jawline and the arch of his brow had existed then and she somehow never noticed. She wondered when his shoulders had become so wide and his chest so broad. 

Sasuke said nothing as she drank him in. When her eyes returned to his though, it was as if they were burning into her, heating her from the inside out. The look in those eyes was achingly familiar. 

He  suddenly stood, all power and grace, and moved away from the table. Sakura did not turn as she heard the stove knob click off.

Sakura glanced up as Sasuke came to stand before her, looming over her seated form. He reached out his sole hand.

“I don’t want tea,” he said, voice low, pulling her up from the chair and into his chest.

Sakura’s eyes slipped shut as their lips met, sighing as his arm looped around her waist to press her against him tighter. He was firm against her chest and she could feel him pressing into the lower part of her abdomen. 

Maybe she should have turned him away, started creating the distance she’d promised Ino and herself she would enforce to protect her heart and her dignity. But held in the arms of the man she loved, her resolve was flimsy like rice paper. 

Sakura decided that tonight, at least, she would pretend. As Sasuke clutched her tight against him, she pretended it was because he could not bear to live without her. She pretended the words whispered in her ears were ‘I love you’ and ‘I need you’ and ‘I’m yours’ . She pretended that each kiss pressed into her neck and shoulder was a promise of devotion, or commitment to the love between two hearts, two souls.

She pulled away from his embrace and took his hand, allowing her fingers to slip in the spaces between his and let herself imagine they had a home there. A small smile took her lips when his hand squeezed hers gently and she led him to her bedroom. 

Sasuke lifted his shirt over his head and Sakura wasted no time running her fingers over the smooth expanse of his chest and abdomen. She leaned forward to pepper light kisses against his warmed flesh and revelled in the slight trembling of his muscles. 

“Let me see you,” his voice sounded above her head, and he slipped a hand under her top, pressing a heated palm against her ribs.

Sakura took a slow step back, verdant eyes meeting onyx . As she bared herself his one visible eye glowed red in the darkness of her room, his face only slightly illuminated by the moonlight peeking between her curtains. His form was swathed in shadow, but she could see the sharingan so very clearly. Sakura shivered as the blood-red iris swept over her body lazily, following each movement of her hands as she unwrapped her bindings and pulled down her pants. 

She stood before him completely bare and watched as he studied her. She knew most of the light in the room shone where she stood, that even though she could barely make out his features, he could see all of her. And she did not hide because she loved him and for the night, she would imagine he loved her, too. 

Sasuke did not approach as his still-red eyes drank her in. Sakura was tired of waiting, so she moved toward him, into the shadows and pressed against him wrapping her arms about his waist. 

Sakura had never been reluctant to enter into the darkness for him. 

His hand reached up to cup the back of her head, tilting it back so he could ravish her mouth. Their tongues danced and breaths mingled, and Sakura slid a hand down to brush over his arousal lightly, before hooking her fingers into the waistband of his pants. 

Their lips parted and she kissed a trail down his chest, sliding to her knees before him as he stepped out of the garment. His fingers ran through her hair gently, before they gripped the strands tight as she took him into her mouth. Her tongue swiped over the swollen tip of him before she lowered her mouth, taking him in bit by bit. One of her hands braced against a strong thigh while the other wrapped around the base of him, squeezing gently as she slid her mouth over his thickness.

His breath choked on a gasp turned groan as she gripped him tighter with her hand and her lips. She set a slow rhythm, listening intently to his sharp gasps and muttered curses. 

When he bit out, “ Sakura ,” she hummed her approval, sucking him further into her mouth. Tears pricked at her eyes but she sent a small stream of chakra to soothe her gag reflex and relax her throat so she could swallow him deeper, until her nose pressed against his pelvis.

Sasuke moaned deeply and snatched her head back, staring down into her eyes with his tomoe spinning. He was panting, and so was she but she grinned up at him, wiping saliva away from the corner of her mouth with her thumb. 

She found herself being pulled to her feet and Sasuke’s lips slanting over hers as he kissed her with abandon. All she could do was grip his shoulders to steady herself. Teeth nipped at her lips and his hand moved from her hair to press against her center, fingers gliding through the slickness gathering between her thighs. 

Sasuke pulls away from her lips, says, “Get on the bed.” She backs away on shaky legs, sinking onto the mattress and watching as he approached. 

He looked like a predator, the way his lean muscles rippled under his skin and his eyes glowed, never once moving away from her. Each sauntering step he took caused her pulse to increase in tempo and the heat between her thighs to simmer. 

She gasped when he stepped fully into the moonlight, because he was beautiful and he was hers , at least here… at least for the night. Her arms reached for him as soon as he was close enough for her to touch and he settled over her body, the weight of him so comforting and exciting at once. 

He buried his face in her neck and parted her thighs with his hand before stroking over her folds gently with the tips of his fingers. He found her pearled bundle of nerves, thrumming against it softly as he sucked and nipped at the flesh of her throat. 

Sakura’s lip parted in a gasp and she whispered his name, tangling her hands in his hair as his fingers worked at her core. Her hips rolled as she sought more friction, more of him to fill the emptiness inside her.

“Please,” she breathed and he moved to look into her face for a moment before kissing down her body, spreading her open more so he could fit his shoulders in-between her splayed limbs. 

Her mouth fell open in a deep moan at the first languid stroke of his tongue at her center, her teeth sinking into a kiss-swollen lip as he licked and sucked at teased her sensitive flesh. Sasuke’s ministrations pulled something occult from her body, causing her skin to tingle and her muscles to tense and undulate in response to his every move, each whispered utterance.

He slipped one finger deep inside, joined swiftly by a second and her eyelids fluttered closed. Sakura gasped and her back arched off the bed as he set up a steady pace of his thrusting fingers and torturing mouth. 

It was ridiculous how quickly she was brought to the edge, clinging to it only to prolong the pleasure, prolong the passion that seemed to light fire in her veins and her belly. A particular twist of his fingers and sound spilled from her lips like a well overflowing. Her body was an instrument in his expert hands, responding to his touches with minimal coaxing, she sang for him. 

Moans and cries poured from her mouth and she reached down to tangle her hand in his hair, wanting to pull him closer and push him away simultaneously. It was too good, too intense as she felt her peak building, pressure building in her lower belly and her inner thighs beginning to tremble. Her ears were ringing, barely able to hear the sound of Sasuke’s sucking lips and the slosh of his fingers pressing into her over and over again.

Her jaw fell open in a silent cry and her grip tightened on silky black locks before moving to claw at the bedding beside her. 

Sasuke moved his mouth away and doubled the pace of his hand. She heard him say, “Come for me, Sakura .” And she did.

A keening moan ripped from her throat and her hands fisted the bed covers as she quivered and quaked with the force of her climax. Her eyes fluttered open but she saw nothing but sparks of color in her blurred vision, wetness slipping down the sides of her face and seeping between her legs. 

Sasuke moved up her body to take her lips with a hungry moan, his fingers never stopping their rhythm. She sobbed into his kiss, body drawing tight like a tripwire as she hurtled toward the peak again. 

Sa-suke..kun ,” she stuttered, voice thick and wobbling, tinged with something desperate that she could not care to name. “Please, gods please .”

 “Tell me,” he rasped against her mouth, “what do you need?”

I need you to fuck me, to stay with me, to want me, to love me.

Sakura sobbed another moan and responded, “You, Sasuke-kun.”

I only want you .

Sasuke moaned deep, moving his hand away from her core to spread her wide and settle in place between her sticky thighs. 

When he slid into her body, he leaned close to her ear and murmured, “You have me.”

It was too perfect, to good the way his words fed into the fantasy of her love-stricken heart. As were the brutal thrusts that caused her body to shift up toward the headboard, her toes curling and hips snapping.

Sasuke shifted, lifting one of her knees to her shoulder and angling his hips just right , striking a spot so deep inside she thought she might choke on him. She was quivering, shaking so hard her teeth chattered as he sank into her, filling her ruthlessly and without pause.

Her second orgasm slammed into her with such force blackness took her vision momentarily. She blinked to clear it, looking up to see Sasuke’s face looming above, one lavender eye and one red trained on her face. His brows were furrowed and his features twisted in pleasure and concentration and she could have cried at the beauty of it.

The tears that slipped down her cheeks would be disguised easily for passion, as would the thumping of Sakura’s mourning heart as her body took in the only kind of love Sasuke would ever offer to her. Her arms wrapped around his sweat-slicked back, clutching him tight as he took her mercilessly, rendering her body and soul full to the brimming. She closed her eyes and breathed in his scent, pressing her lips to the flesh between his neck and shoulder.

The sound of his rough breaths and husky groans filtered to her ears like a song. She stroked her fingers over the rippling muscles of his back, digging her nails in to steady herself as he plunged into her relentlessly. Sakura could feel his heartbeat; it thundered against her breast, fast and strong and wonderful. It anchored her, the feeling of him breathing, living, here . Gone from the darkness and into her arms, even if just for the moment. 

For the night, for whenever his body yearned for this kind of love, this kind of devotion, Sasuke was hers. And her limbs, they spread for him, eager and ardent to welcome him home.

Two voices mingled on a sharp cry and a rumbling moan as Sasuke slid deep for the last time, nestled between her rocking hips as he spent himself deep inside. Her lashes wetted with tears unshed.

“Sakura,” he sighed. He pressed his forehead to hers, his heartbeat throbbing in her center.  

Sakura moved to press her mouth to his trembling flesh again, still quivering with the ebbing tides of her release, her lips moving against his skin, imprinting words that would forevermore remain unspoken, inked onto his body only with intention and her despondency.

I love you, Sasuke-kun.