Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto.

Sasuke wakes with a gasp, covered in a slick sheen of sweat. The sounds of gunshots and screams echo from within him, keeping his eyes wide and dazed as his chest heaves for air.

Intangible as his dream may have been, Sasuke can still smell the nauseating, coppery tang of blood. He can still remember the look on the dying soldier's face as he clung to life, his brown eyes dense with pain and immeasurable fear… because he didn't want to go yet. He didn't want to accept that this was the end of his days.

He can still recall it all with painful detail, because the truth is that this dream is based on a very real memory.

Sasuke doesn't know if he'll ever forget the way the man—whose name he barely remembered—looked like when he succumbed to his wound and died under his blood-soaked hands. Nor does he think he'll ever forget the way those agonal breaths left his mouth as his brain struggled desperately to gain oxygen.

He doesn't even know if he'll ever be able to tell his wife about it, either.


Still hazed from both his sleep and unsettled state of mind, Sasuke sits up and glances at the other half of the bed, seeking the woman he loves. He doesn't find her at his side.

His heart jolts. Though some part of his brain knows that he is no longer in the desert in the midst of war, he still pulls himself up to his feet with blinding speed—a desperate fear gripping his chest that somehow, someway, his wife might be dead somewhere in their house.

He only takes the few panicked steps he needs to head out of their room before relief quickly nabs him, uncovered in the form of the love of his life sitting peacefully in the rocking chair of their nursery, nourishing their three-week old child. His heart skips a few beats, and then races to different emotions; awe and love, and then a reverence that is ever-growing.

Those emotions only grow in strength as Sakura smiles down tiredly at their daughter, radiating all the unconditional love that he doesn't for a single moment fail to understand. The tiny little bundle of light in her arms is the best thing that has ever happened to this world… their world.

The tenseness in his muscles leaves him ever so slowly, and Sasuke heaves a mute sigh. He leans his shoulder against the wood of the doorframe, his black eyes softening with all the affection that has overtaken him.

"You should have woken me up."

His voice is nothing but a low murmur, but it still shocks Sakura out of her skin. She startles and jerks up in her seat, the movement lightly jostling their baby. The latter's face twists, and she emits a whine like she's about to cry—only to be quickly soothed by her mother's soft hushes and gentle cooing.

Sasuke can hardly find it in himself to be surprised. This side of Sakura is not one that is new to him; he isn't embarrassed to admit that she has comforted him more than a handful of times already from his brutish night terrors. He knows how effective his wife's sweet whispers are.

Once their baby girl is calmed and back to quietly nursing on her mama, Sakura lets out a sigh of relief and calls tenderly, "Sasuke-kun... what are you doing up, darling?"

Sasuke ignores the question; partly because he knows what it will lead to, but mostly because he doesn't want to answer.

He uncrosses his arms and quietly strides into the room, shoving his hands into his pajama pockets. He sighs, too; less with relief, more with a bone-tired sentiment. "You've been taking care of her for three weeks all alone," he says, his voice soft. "You should have woken me up, Sakura. I want to do my part." I want to take care of our daughter.

To his surprise, a blush graces her cheeks. It stuns him for a few beats; he doesn't realize how much he's missed the sight and how truly long it's been since he's seen it last, until now. The almighty urge to reach across and thumb that beautiful red on her skin washes over him.

But he doesn't. He won't, just yet.

Sakura looks away shyly. She focuses on brushing the tiny little wisps of pink on their baby's head. "Sorry… It's just…" She trails out, bites her lip. Then sighs. "I only wanted to give you a night of rest, Sasuke-kun. You just got back. Plus, I was already awake anyway. My body got a little used to her schedule…"

"Have you had a rest since I left?" Sasuke asks.

"No, but—"

"Then why should I?"

Silence rings loud, for a few breaths, deafening in its strength. Before long, Sakura looks up at him and meets his gaze once more, those beautiful green eyes full of the empathy he's grown to adore her for. "Sasuke-kun… you've been off fighting in a war," she says, patiently. "I've just been pregnant. You can't compare the two and then decide that you don't deserve a break."

"I've heard pregnancy is a war of its own."

"Don't be stupid."


His eyes weigh heavy on her form, and Sakura lips purse before mulling together. Her shoulders fall with obvious relent. "Okay. All right. Well, I've… I've got some pumped milk in the fridge. We can see if she'll take a bottle instead. You need to warm it up a little, though. Can you get me the bottle warmer? I'll show you how to use it."

For a brief moment, Sasuke considers this. The thought of finally feeding his daughter as he holds her in his arms is tender, and more endearing than he can ever describe… but when he sees how comfortably his little ray of light is cradled against his wife's chest, he can't bring himself to succumb to it. Tearing her away from such a place of safety to satisfy his fatherly longings could only make him feel like a monster.

He sighs and shakes his head. "Next time. We'll upset her."

His beautiful wife smiles, glancing down at their baby girl like she understands his reasoning. She probably does. She carefully traces a finger over one tiny hand, a grin splitting her lips when their daughter grasps it and squeezes reflexively. She continues to nurse, unbothered, and Sakura giggles.

And that is the moment Sasuke abruptly realizes what exactly his wife has wrapped their baby girl in.

"Sasuke-kun?" Sakura asks, which snaps him out of his stunned trance. He blinks and sees that she is frowning at him, her brows knitted together with open, loving concern. It's too clear, in these moments, to recognize again how much his wife loves him.

A thought strikes her mind; Sasuke sees it as her brows lift up high just before she looks down at their daughter. She smiles, the truth of his behavior unveiled by her epiphany.

"Oh. Yeah. I hope you don't mind. She was a little fussy earlier, and it's a habit to get one of your shirts. She always calms so quickly every time. I think you've got a baby-whisperer scent, Sasuke-kun."

The last part is said with the most affectionate playfulness, teasing him in an effort to awe him or make him smile. But Sasuke is still too in shock to manage a proper reaction.

Thankfully, Sakura doesn't mind. She smiles more brightly for him, patting the rocking chair next to hers. The one they had set up precisely in the hopes of sharing moments like these, sometime in the last month before his deployment.

"Come here. Sit with me."

His chest tight with love, Sasuke silently obeys. He sits on the comfortable chair plush enough to send him right back to sleep, his lips quirking upwards ever so slightly as Sakura leans towards him in a somewhat awkward angle to rest her head on his shoulder.

It can't be comfortable for her, especially when she so obviously takes care not to move her arms and disturb their daughter, but Sasuke allows himself to have this for the moment anyway. He needs it, just as she does, too; they had yet to have a proper moment alone together to process everything since Naruto had insisted on a long reunion dinner—which ended far too late to Sasuke's tastes.

He is glad, in this very moment, that Sakura made the call to order a second rocking chair for the nursery room. Her instinct time and time again never fails her.

The thought makes him tip his head to press the most loving, lingering kiss to the crown of his wife's head. Though he can't see it, he knows she smiles in response. He can feel it in the way the air changes to something sweeter. Lighter.

He exhales the most content sigh, and fixes his eyes on their nursing baby girl, rushed by waves of love so intense he never before thought possible. He reaches out and touches her visible cheek, the pads of his fingers brushing across the softest skin he's ever touched. The ghost that is his smile becomes more tangible and bright.

He can't help leaning over to smooth his lips over her tiny, perfect forehead, lingering to breathe in her perfect scent. His daughter has no idea how much she's changed his world.

Itachi would have…

The thought dies instantly. His throat closes up with emotion, and his mouth dries; it hurts to breathe, like gasping dust in a storming desert.

Sasuke draws back, and runs his hand over his face. Ever attuned to his moods and body tells, Sakura straightens up in her seat, her eyes gleaming with worry. He can tell she wants to reach out and touch him—hold him—even though she can't.

"Sasuke-kun, what—"

"It's nothing. I just…" A slow, deep breath leaves him, and he rubs the bridge of his nose. He wipes the tears welling up at the corner of his eyes as furtively as he can. "I'm tired."

Sakura frowns deeply. She shakes her head and rests her head against the back of her plush rocking chair. She studies him with hooded eyes; wearied and a little sad. "...I don't know why you keep trying to lie to me after all this time," she murmurs. "You know I can see right through you."

Sasuke swallows. His eyes drop to the nursery floor, weighted with guilt. He rubs his face with both hands. "...Sorry," he mutters. "It's… a habit. I'm not trying to hide anything from you. You know that for most of my life, I've had to deal with everything on my own."

"Until me."

"Until you," he admits.

She softens up, those eyes gentle and understanding once more. "What's on your mind, darling?"

His lips mull together, and the words get stuck right at the tip of his tongue. He wants to tell her, but something within him keeps him from doing it. Restless, Sasuke rubs a sweaty palm over his forehead, and he grimaces.

Then he curls up, puts his elbows on his knees, his eyes drawn to their tiny daughter yet again. "I was thinking… how much Itachi would have loved her. How beautiful he would have thought she was, from the moment he first set eyes on her."

An image flashes in his head, of Itachi, grinning and proud, holding his precious baby niece while she looks up at him, laughing with glee. He closes his eyes tightly, his heart twisting.

He opens them again just in time to see Sakura's features lessen with sorrow, her face a perfect portrait of genuine empathy. "Sasuke-kun…"

The sight alone is enough to have his throat knotting up as it did earlier, the thickness of his grief still too much to bear. "I wish he could have been here," he whispers, before he can even help himself.

His wife's expression shifts to something downright heartbreaking, and her eyes seem to shine a little more wetly. Her mouth twists with an anguished grimace; Sasuke reaches for her, cradling her head as he leans back and lets her rest her head on his shoulder. He closes his eyes tightly, his lips thinning. He wants to forget everything and simply let Sakura's love anchor him, right now.

The moment is broken, however, as their daughter seemingly finishes nursing. She pulls away, wriggling a little, and makes a faint noise of protest that immediately causes her mother to smile. Sakura shakes her head and readjusts her in her arms until she can maneuver their baby girl against her shoulder. She starts to rub and pat her back… until her eyes lock onto his, once more.

Her smile brightens. "Do you want to help her burp, Sasuke-kun?" she asks.

A rush of eagerness runs through him, fading his sorrow and pain to nothingness. Sasuke doesn't hesitate to nod. Everything suddenly seems trivial in light of caring for this little ray of sunshine.

He knows already: he would endure the worst torture in the world merely to ensure her a lifetime of safety and everlasting happiness.

His wife hands over their daughter into his arms with careful hands, gently shushing her as the latter seems to dislike the change of familiar arms to unfamiliar ones. She seems ready to fuss and cry, her expression signaling how upset she is—until her head is settled lovingly near the crook of his neck. She quiets, tiny hands grasping his shirt and face nuzzling closer.

Sasuke is awed; the truth that his daughter does truly love his scent and associates it to the meaning of safety brightens his world like a super-healing nova.

Listening to her coo, he presses a kiss to her fine pink hair, and smiles. He listens to Sakura's instructions, pays attention to how she moves his hands and tells him what to do, and thinks to himself that nothing so simple and mundane has ever felt so magnificent.



"No, wait—hang on a minute!" Sakura laughs, as he dips the sponge into the water and reaches out to wash their baby's head.

Sasuke frowns and his brows furrow deeply; confused. "What?"

"There's a little bit of an order. She'll get cold if you wash her hair already," his wife explains with a smile. "Try the neck down first."

She isn't remotely reproachful or angry, but Sasuke blushes anyway. He had thought to have been appropriately prepared during his deployment through all of his readings—but apparently, it looks as though his vigorous studying still wasn't enough.

"Sorry," he mutters, shame pooling in his belly.

Sakura kisses his cheek and pats his arm. "No harm done. You're doing your best."

And it still isn't enough, he thinks, but mentally shakes the thought from his head. Ever since Itachi was stamped M.I.A. and presumed dead after they were both deployed on the same reconnaissance mission, the thoughts were hard to kick when they came around. He'd lost so much of his esteem in his abilities in the past four years.

If only he'd done more. Looked for his brother more intensely. Spent more time doing it, insisted to stay when the commander ordered them all get back to the main camp. If only he'd protested when the latter sent Sasuke home out of sympathy for the loss of Itachi.

Throughout these four years, Sasuke had always felt like he should have fought for him harder.

"Sasuke-kun… you're drifting off again."

Sasuke blinks at the sound of Sakura's gentle voice, coming back from his thoughts and to reality. His shoulders hunched. "Sorry," he murmurs. "It's just…"

"Hey. It's okay. You just came back from the war. Things are finally settling down after what, five years?"


Sakura smiles. "Well, you're here. So stay with us now, okay?"

Sasuke's lip curl, and he nods back, swept over with appreciation. Sakura hasn't always known how to handle his demons in their relationship, but she's had years to learn how to chase them away. No one can do it better than she can, these days. Well… except their baby girl.

As if on cue, their daughter splashes in the baby tub actively, splattering water all around her. Sasuke smiles and struggles not to laugh as he watches her wriggle with energy, the whole of him buzzing with love and affection as his wife laughs.

"I think she really likes baths," she says. "I'm not sure. I'm still learning her."

Sasuke's brows rise, surprised. "You are?"

Sakura looks at him like he's said something funny. "Of course, silly. I can't learn all about a baby's language and tells in just three weeks. A big part of why new parents are exhausted in the first few months is that they're learning how their baby speaks to them. It's a lot of guesswork. How they act when they're hungry, what movements are reflexes, if they have digestive problems…"

His heart plummets, just a little. He lowers his chin, sponging their daughter's arm quietly. "I'm sorry I had to leave you to handle that for three weeks."

Sakura pauses, for a few breaths, and merely watches him. And then she softly says, "It's okay, Sasuke-kun. Naruto and Hinata were there. So were my mom and dad. I was never really alone these weeks. I had help. I promise."

Sasuke nods and keeps his silence, but the shame won't go away. He merely focuses on washing their baby girl gently, smiling as she begins to splash energetically once more. He wonders if everyone's demons are so easily chased by the arrival of a much awaited child.

It's certainly the case for him. "Is she always like that?"

"Like what? Flailing her arms around like crazy and splashing? Always. Like a little fish." His wife grins.

Sasuke's smile cracks open a little wider. "Maybe she'll get into competitive swimming."

"Oh, you wish!"

"Why not? Swimming athletes can make decent money."

"Do you know how much time competitive swimmers dedicate to their training every week?" Sakura demands, shaking her head and laughing. "And that's not even mentioning the gym, either! We'd hardly get to see her. You, especially."

Sasuke glances at his daughter, frowns, and then tilts his head. "Maybe we should wait until she's a little older," he suggests. "Maybe her moving like that is just reflexes for all we know." He hopes so anyway, if any of what Sakura has just said is true.

Sakura giggles. "Yeah, maybe we should. Let's pick this up in a year's time. Don't want you to get any gray hairs yet from all your worrying. My husband can't seem old already!"

Startled by the quip, Sasuke laughs full-bellied, and pulls the only woman he's ever loved against him for a sweet, lingering kiss. She grins against his mouth and kisses him back in kind, before pulling away to give their baby girl her attention. She peppers loving kisses all over her head, gushing about how much more she must be liking her bath now that her daddy is here.

Daddy, he can't help but think, such warmth spreading over his chest. He can't wait until their baby girl grows up and runs around saying it all the time.

When the bath is done, Sakura continues to guide him into learning new things. He learns how a baby must be patted dry after a bath, because rubbing creates too much friction on their sensitive skin. He learns that the way she roots with her mouth and suckles at his shirt is a sure sign of her hunger, then shows him once more the right way to warm a bottle. The first one he'd warmed had been too hot, and he's determined to get it right, this time.

It pains him to think about the fact that his wife had to learn all of these things by herself.

But she said she always had help. That she wasn't alone. She had Naruto, Hinata, and her parents, his brain reminds him. Sasuke sighs mutely. He hopes that it was the truth, and not a white lie.

As the bottle is ready, he and Sakura transfer to the couch in silence, where Sakura turns on the TV at a low volume, and Sasuke watches their daughter eat. It isn't long before Sakura joins him in the task, too, the TV all but quickly forgotten.

Neither of them speak, for a while, content in merely watching their baby girl slowly drink her bottle. Sakura even nestles herself to his side and wraps her arms around his waist, her chin propped on his shoulder.

"Can you tell me how it all went?" Sasuke asks, eventually. His voice is nothing but a murmur.

"Mm? How what went, Sasuke-kun?"

A calm sigh spills from his mouth. "When you went into labor… if it all happened smoothly…"

Sakura blinks and stares at him for a few lingering seconds, before her face lights up with a smile. "We never did get the chance to talk about that, huh?" she asks.

Sasuke doesn't say anything; he only waits ever so patiently, giving his wife the time to gather her story. Sakura tightens her hold on him and nuzzles his shirt, breathing him in deeply. She tips her head up to smile at him most earnestly, after a few beats, her eyes holding all of the love he can never get enough of.

"It was a long labor. I woke up, I think it was… around two? I was having some pretty intense cramps. I thought they were Braxton-Hicks contractions at first, since it was still five days until her due date… but then they got worse, and worse, and I thought okay, maybe it's time to get checked at the hospital because I might be going into labor."

She tilts her head to rest against him once more, and closes her eyes, then. But she keeps smiling.

"I was lucky that mom and dad were here. I managed to get myself up, waddled up to their room, and woke them up. Mom knew instantly by the look on my face what was happening. Dad went into panic mode, wondered if he should call for an ambulance. You'd think he would have known what to do since he was there when I was born, too. Through all of it. Mom ignored him, though, and she helped me get all my bags ready. We got to the hospital at four-fifteen.

It was all pretty touch and go from there, but I didn't have any difficulties. I was hoping to be one of those women who had a labor three hours long and popped out a baby, but I wasn't fully dilated until five in the evening. It was exhausting, but at least everything was okay. Our baby girl was just taking her time."

She reaches up to touch their daughter's head, then, her fingers smoothing briefly over her wispy little hairs. In response, their baby girl kicks her legs and flies a hand out to Sasuke's shirt, gripping and pulling while she continues to suckle happily at her bottle.

Sakura cracks up, and Sasuke doesn't even try to fight back his smile. He adjusts his hold so she is safely cradled in one arm, his other catching her tiny little hand. His smile grows more as she latches onto it, reflexively squeezing his index finger while she looks up and stares at him studiously.

She's getting to know you, Sakura had said earlier, when he'd mumbled his thoughts and wondered why she was staring at him so much more compared to her mama. She knows your scent, Sasuke-kun, but she's never seen you. Give her a little time to recognize that she's looking at her daddy.

Sakura brings him back to the reality at hand with a giggle. She wraps her free arm around his, and kisses his shoulder over his shirt, sighing contently. "She was born at six o' four. Ten toes, ten fingers. No respiratory problems or weight issues. Her lungs were clear, strong and healthy. She was a perfect, perfect newborn baby."

"Perfect," Sasuke repeats softly, approving of the word as he stares down at their baby girl. Dark green eyes stare right back at him, her miniscule finger squeezing one last time before letting him go and diving for his shirt anew. His smile curls higher; this little munchkin has apparently made it her life goal to keep her daddy's lips upturned every second of the day.

How had he almost missed three months of his baby's life? Three months of this?

Stomach lurching, Sasuke turns his head towards his wife's to catch her gaze with his own, his eyes full of apology and shame that he right now wishes that he could properly put into words. But all he can come up with is, "I'm sorry I couldn't be there, Sakura."

It isn't much, but at least he means it. More than anything, Sasuke really wishes he could have been at the hospital with her. Wishes that he had been less dutiful of his career, and more to his wife. Weren't all husbands supposed to be present while they welcomed their child to the world? At the very least, weren't they supposed to try?

Sasuke had extended his leave without hesitation, when his expertise had been requested to further help win the war. And he'd regretted it ever since.

("Is this how it's always going to be, Sasuke-kun? Are you always going to roll over for the army without a second thought about us?")

The words echo in his head, taunting cruelly at his ability to be a good, present father. Sakura had been so angry, back then; her voice thick with tears and laced with betrayal. Sasuke couldn't blame her. She was right to feel how she did, when he'd promised he would be there.

Sweet lips brush softly against his cheek, and Sasuke tears himself away from his daze to look at the woman he's adored from the moment she first made him smile. He doesn't know how he ever got this lucky.

"Sasuke-kun… It's okay. It really is. They needed you," she whispers, brushing a hand over his chest.

Sasuke drops his gaze, lips mulling. "You needed me, too," he mutters.

Sakura sighs. "I wanted you there. But I got through it anyway, didn't I? I was upset our plans changed so suddenly. I was hormonal. I know that you have a sense of duty to the military since your brother—" She clams up, and he closes his eyes. A moment later, he feels her fingers touch upon the skin of his right one, gently smoothing out the grief-stricken-wrinkles at the corners.

"I'm sorry," she murmurs in earnest. "I didn't mean…" She trails out, and pauses again. She kisses his jaw and nuzzles it, cradling his face so she can hold it to hers. "The point is that I get it, Sasuke-kun. Maybe I didn't back then… but I do now. I promise I do. But when you first told me, I just… I just wanted you to come back home to us. It scared me knowing you'd be out another six months at war."

His chest clenches, and the guilt within him rises even higher. But instead of pulling away and wallowing in his mistakes, Sasuke merely sighs and tips his head to look at her. He presses his forehead against hers, taking hold of her hand with his free one. "I know. I'm sorry," he says quietly, bringing her fingers to his lips.

He kisses all of them, one by one, with all the affection that he can. Then, he guides her hand down to his chest and holds it there, right over his heart, letting her feel the soft thudding rhythm of it against her palm.

Sakura smiles, kisses him, but says nothing. In fact, for the next while, neither of them do, merely choosing to bask in each other's presence, and watch their daughter eat.

A passing thought runs by him, where Sasuke wonders if this is how the rest of his life will look like—with his wife at his side, watching their daughter eat, grow, learn, smile.

Because if it does, he thinks, I don't ever want to leave again.



"This was when she was six days old," Sakura giggles some time later, as they are lying in bed and she is showing him a picture of their baby girl on her iPad. Their little bundle of light is wrapped in towels over towels, crying and possibly screaming for murder. "She started being fussy right after we took her out from her bath. I thought back then that maybe she was just a little cold, so I bundled her up real good to make sure she'd warm up fast. Mom thought she looked so cute like that, all snuggled up in her towels and upset, so she took a photo. We were so confused when she didn't calm down, though! No matter what we did, she just cried and cried—we stayed up till one or two in the morning before we were able to soothe her!"

"Did you read her one of your Dad's biology lectures?" he asks, trying not to smirk.

Sakura makes a reprimanding face at him, and then she laughs. "Why didn't I think of that?"

His heart races and flutters.

As she flips through the next few pictures, she tells him stories about the days they were taken (she'd worked on taking one just for him every day, so he wouldn't feel like he missed out on anything when he'd come home), and exclaims how much their little peanut has grown in just this short little while. But if Sasuke is honest, all he can see is how tiny their daughter was… and how tiny she still is.

Especially right now. Sprawled cutely on his chest, she garbles sounds of effort and conversation as she tries to move her head around, looking curiously for whatever catches her eye. She's been drooling all over his bare chest for the better part of the past half an hour, but Sasuke doesn't mind. She's the most beautiful, tiniest thing in the world, and it amazes him how he can love someone this much when she has done so little.

(he doesn't even know who she is, doesn't even know if she'll be more like him or like his wife… but still, the unconditional love he has for her is real. strong.)

"And look! Her two-week old birthday. Naruto and Hinata came over and spent the day with mom, dad and I. Naruto couldn't stop holding her and claiming how in love with her you'd be. And how much she looked just like me, because, and I quote, 'the bastard is ugly, but you're beautiful, sakura-chan'."

Sasuke recoils, snapping his head towards hers again, and makes a face and scowls, which causes Sakura to promptly erupt into giggles. She pecks him sweetly and reassures him not to worry—apparently, after he'd relinquished their baby to Hinata, she senselessly beat their dumb friend into apologizing, and promises he felt the aftermaths all week.

The knowledge comes a little more satisfying.

"Have you already made plans to hang out with him?" Sakura asks, eventually, playing with the dog tags at his neck as his attention was back on their baby girl. "I could call Hinata tomorrow and ask if they could come over."

"Mmph," Sasuke huffs half-heartedly, playing with their daughter's tiny hands. He smiles faintly when she sneezes, such love swelling within him that it sends everything else spinning away from him for just a few breaths.

What were they talking about again?


Sasuke blinks, and he peers at his wife, a little lost. Until his thoughts come back to him.

Oh. Right. Naruto and Hinata. Visiting.

He rolls his shoulders in a shrug. "Don't feel like it," he replies, going back to stare at their baby girl.

Laughing, his wife slips a hand on their daughter's tiny back, and she tucks her chin against his shoulder. "God. You are so obsessed with her, Sasuke-kun," she croons.

Sasuke doesn't even bother denying it. What was the use, when they both knew the truth? "Yes."

"You can't stop holding her."


"Or even looking at her."


"Are you sure you weren't in love with my womb instead of me, Sasuke-kun?"

His gaze instantly flashes to hers, widened in horror, and Sakura starts laughing once more, much harder than before.

"Kidding! Geez, you're so easy to rile up, darling."

And despite how much he trusts his wife that it's the truth, that she never for a second even considered if he was ever using her, Sasuke still feels strongly enough in the need to correct, "Sakura—I'd never be in love with your womb. I didn't even think I wanted a family of my own before I met you."

Smiling still, Sakura's eyes crinkle up. There is nothing but love, patience, and an enduring, unequivocal trust in those green, green pools.

Her gaze shines brighter, and then she says, "I know, Sasuke-kun. I love you, too."

A/N: The second part will be published soon, I say, as it takes what... like 6 years for me to update? Truthfully, I'd just lost motivation to finish it. But lovely birkastan2018 wanted so badly to see this updated and brought to completion, so she commissioned me to do so, and here's the final product! Finally, this story can be marked completed.

I know my absence has been noticed in the past few years, but it is solely because I've turned to freelance creative writing work and original work in order to make a living. I dearly miss this community! I am open to commissions for any other who may want something done. More info on my tumblr: xxlovendreamsxx. If you can't find the post, send me an ask or PM and I'll link you. But you should find it easily, as I try to reblog regularly.

I hope you're all well in these hard times.