The Exchange

Chapter 8: Revelation

Chiyo was sipping her green tea peacefully when Sasori entered the house. After Sakura left, her grandson had decided to move back to their old home to live with Chiyo and Ebizo. He claimed that it was for safety reasons since the two of them were getting old, but Chiyo knew better. She pretended to take offense from his comment, but welcomed him back happily.

"Any words from Sakura?" Chiyo asked. Earlier that day, Sasori told her that he would be working at the Kazekage building for the morning, helping the Third with miscellaneous things.

Sasori shook his head.

Ever since Sakura left, the red head had gotten quiet again. He was more talkative than during the cold war period between him and Chiyo, but he was definitely less sociable than when Sakura was around. Even the Third had mentioned this observation to Chiyo when she reported to him to discuss the Puppet Limb Project.

"I am sure the Slug Princess is forcing her to take a break. We both know Sakura is a workaholic, a break is good for her," Chiyo tried to cheer him up.

Sasori nodded, "I'm fine, Chiyo-Baa. I am going out to get some supplies. I will be back later."

Chiyo waved goodbye as the red head left as quickly as he had returned.

Sasori had been visiting his favorite wood supplier daily since Sakura left. There was a special wood that he deemed perfect for the purpose of making prosthetic limbs, but it was harder to come by. The supplier told him that a new supply was coming soon and Sasori checked everyday to ensure that he could retrieve the supply and prep them before Sakura would need them.

On his way back from the store, he saw a familiar girl waving at him. As she ran closer to him, he noticed it was Maki. "Sasori-sama! Good evening!"

Even though Sasori knew Sakura was joking when she offered to help him make friends, she had unintentionally brought him closer to many of Suna's shinobis when she took him out with her during her free time. His image of terrifying ANBU still existed, but many of Sakura's friends had grown to look past that.

"Hello, Maki," he greeted politely.

"Any words on Sakura-san? I know it hasn't even been a week yet, but I really miss her!"

Sasori shook his head. The girl was with Sakura everyday and knew her before he did, it was understandable that she was missing Sakura as much as he was.

Maki rolled on the balls of her feet, "But I know you definitely miss her much more than me!"

That took Sasori back and if Maki was as highly skilled as Sakura was when it came to stoic man, she would have noticed the change in his eyes. When he did not reply, the girl continued talking.

"I mean, almost everyone know you totally love Sakura-san. We were all really surprised when you did not show up when she left."

"What?" The change in his expression could be noticed by a lower level jounin now.

"She said something about how you did not like saying goodbye when I asked her. But I was really surprised! I thought you might show up and ask her not to leave or something cheesy like that. Tomoe-san laughed when I told him."

Sasori narrowed his eyes slightly and it was noticeable to Maki, a chunin.

"Sasori-san?" she had stopped babbling.

"What do you mean by 'almost everyone know you totally love Sakura'?" the red head asked.

Maki covered her mouth in surprise, "Was that supposed to be a secret?!" Maki thought she was in terrible trouble, but when she noticed how confused the man before her was, a light bulb went off in her mind. A slightly evil grin curved her lips, "You don't know you love Sakura-san?"

His silence was her answer.

"I will explain everything to you." Maki was grinning with fully evil intent now, "if you buy me a new set of kunai." She knew Sasori was wealthy, he had been an ANBU for years and definitely raked up loads of money from missions.

Sasori fixed her in a stare, "I am still an ANBU who can end you without anyone questioning what happened to you." His voice was cold, the opposite of the warmth that he had adapted since he befriended the Konoha-medic.

Maki felt a slight shiver shoot down her back, but she crossed her arms in defiance in a manner similar to Sakura's. "You won't lay a hand on me. Sakura-san said you are a softie on the inside and you would be in big trouble if Sakura-san don't see me when she comes back."

Sasori's eyebrow twitched in annoyance. "I will buy you a set of toy kunais."


A small smirk formed on his lips, "You did not specify."

Maki stared at the set of grade A kunais that rested in her palms as Sasori ordered green tea and tempura for the two of them. At first, she thought Sasori was serious about the toy kunais, but he took her to one of the best weapon stores in the market. He swiftly picked the set off the shelf and paid for it without batting an eye. The store owner seemed to know him well and completed the sale with a polite "please come again." Then he proceeded to ask her what she wanted for dinner and entered the first restaurant that she pointed to.

"Can I really have it?" Maki's eyes were gleaming.

"Yes, stop making me repeat myself."

"This was the first time you repeated yourself," Maki mumbled under her breath. Sasori heard it, but he let it slide because she was right that Sakura would kill him if he dared to end the chunin, despite how disrespectful she was acting.

"Now tell me what you were saying earlier," Sasori said.

Maki finally placed the set of kunais down and returned her gaze to Sasori. "Sasori-sama, do you know what love is?"

"Stop testing my patience."

"Just answer me!"

Sasori sighed, "It's an emotion you feel towards people you hold affection for. There are many forms of love, but I suppose we are discussing romantic love here."

Maki nodded as if she was a sensei speaking to her genin, "Good. Now, do you know what jealousy is?"

Sasori made fists under the table, "It is the fear of losing something you have."

"Now, imagine Sakura-sama being cuddly with a very handsome Konoha-nin. Imagine an Uchiha." Maki had never seen a so-called Uchiha, but Sakura always used Uchiha to describe good-looking men and Maki was certain that Sasori had seen at least one during his career.

The visual of Sakura hugging a Konoha-nin who had dark sleek hair and well-balanced facial features caused an unwanted twist in Sasori's stomach. It was similar to the feeling that he got when he thought about how Sakura was probably pursued by many men back in Konoha. Her smile was beautiful, but it was not directed at him. There was only that man reflected in her eyes, but Sasori knew the Uchiha was not good enough for her. He did not like it.

Maki could see the unmistakable jealousy that filled Sasori's honey eyes. She cleared her throat, "Now imagine spending the rest of your life with Sakura-san. You two living together and you are the one she is cuddling."

Sasori growled, "Why am I doing this?"

"Just do it!" Maki bit into her food that had just arrived.

He imagined himself taking the spot of the Uchiha. Sakura was smiling at him with that beautiful, beautiful expression. Her eyes were lit up and blazing with a warm fire. Her lips were plump, inviting him to taste them with his own. Her long tresses framed her perfectly heart-shaped face, like an picture that he could not forget. She was looking at him, only him. The twist in his gut uncoiled and began to flutter around. He felt on top of the world.

When he was finally done enjoying his imagination, he realized what Maki did. She wanted him to understand and recognize the feelings that he felt towards Sakura. Each time those feelings arose, he had dismissed them. Now, he saw them for what they were.

"Your conclusion?" Maki was copying Sakura's way of asking her students for their answers to her questions.

"I love Haruno Sakura."

"Time you noticed!" Maki smiled as she finished her tempura. "Thank you for the kunais and dinner! I will put in a good word for you when she comes back!" She quickly stood up and left. Maki knew she was pushing her boundaries and was running away before Sasori decided to kill her. But if she did not aggravate Sasori, she knew their conversation would not have proceeded as it did.

Sasori sat at the table for a long time, trying to truly understand his revelation. The store owner had came to check on him and Sasori asked to take the food to go. With the cold tempuras in one hand, Sasori leapt onto the rooftops and dashed home.

He almost ran the door down and surprised Chiyo, who was sitting in the same area writing in a scroll. "Chiyo-Baa!"

"Yes?" the Elder had never seen Sasori's face like that. The usual lazy honey flowing in his eyes looked like burning embers.

"I love Haruno Sakura."

"Oh," Chiyo pushed her scroll aside, "Who made you realize that?"

"Maki, the chu-" Sasori stopped answering. "Was I the only one who was unaware of my feelings?"

Chiyo laughed as she beckoned her grandson to sit with her, "I am sure Sakura didn't notice your feelings since her head was full of the Puppet Limb Project."

Now that he was fully aware of the situation. Sasori finally understood why his heart was skipping beats; why he felt like it was too hot when he was in doors, why he felt irritated at the Third's terrible flirts, and why he felt horrible at the thought of saying goodbye to Sakura. He did not live up to his intelligence as he should, but then again, there was no intelligence when it came to understanding love.

"I need to get her back."

"You should talk to the Kazekage about that."

The red head abruptly stood up, but Chiyo was already accustomed to his out of character actions as of late. A man in love could not be understood, period. After Sasori left again, Ebizo entered the room to join his sister. She winked at Ebizo who smiled, "You have a chance to get great-grandchildren now."

When Sasori barged into his personal home at ten at night, the Third thought the village was under attack. He had leapt up from bed and thrown on his robe that was on the chair beside his bed. Then he noticed Sasori was not clad in his ANBU gear and the odd expression on his face meant that something was wrong, but it had nothing to do with the village. The Third sighed and sat down on his chair. As much as he liked Sakura, he did not appreciate how her tendency to run head first into things had rubbed off on his most patient shinobi. Sasori was a meticulous and orderly man - he did not ran into people's home unannounced.

"Judging from the look on your face and your untimely visit, I suppose something happened?" the Third asked off-handedly, not even bothering to ask Sasori to sit.

Sasori repeated for the third time that night, "I love Haruno Sakura."

A curious gleam filled silver eyes, "Oh? So it's true."

"I need to get her back."

The Third smirked, "That can be arranged, but please come back in the morning." With that, he used his iron sand to turn Sasori around and gently pushed him out his bedroom window.

A few days later in Konoha

Sakura was itching for Suna's reply. She had asked the bird keepers for a favor and requested the fastest hawk to carry Tsunade's message to Suna. Ichigo, named for his tendency to steal strawberries from the bird keepers, held the record for traveling to Suna and back in three days. He departed three days ago and was expected to return by evening.

"Sakura, stop staring at the windows, that's only going to strain your eyes," Tsunade ordered.

But then, a small pecking sound at the window interrupted her from lecturing the pinkette further. Sakura leapt to open the window and Ichigo flew directly to Tsunade. The blonde unclasped the canister tied to his leg and slipped out a piece of paper. As she read it, she felt more confused than anything, but when she looked at Sakura who was asking to see the paper, realization dawned on her and a smile formed on her face. She crumpled the paper and Sakura could only stare at her Shishou.

The paper's message was "I sent lover boy with my reply. Expect him in two days after receiving this message. - Third Kazekage."

"What did it say, Shishou?" Sakura asked, "the paper was too small to be a complete reply to our request!"

Tsunade nodded, "You are right, this is why the Third Kazekage had dispatched a shinobi with his reply after he sent Ichigo to let me know."

"A shinobi? Who? Could it be a puppeteer?" Sakura was literally jumping with curiosity.

"Come back in two days and you will know who it is."

Sakura's eyes widen, "Two days?! But Ichigo just got back." "This mean it can't be Chiyo-sama. Given that Ichigo took off one and a half day ago, this shinobi must be travelling at record speed to get to Konoha two days from now. Whoever this person was, they must be fast."

The pinkette was radiating curiosity. She had met a few other puppeteers beside Chiyo and Sasori, but she could only call them acquaintances at best and none seemed to be especially "fast" in her opinion. Besides, why would they need to travel so quickly? She knew she was dying to start the project in Konoha, but this shinobi would have nothing to gain from depleting their chakra in rushing to Konoha. It did not make any sense to her.

As if Tsunade could see the question in her head, she spoke, "Maybe they have something they want to see in Konoha." Luckily, Sakura was too confused to notice how Tsunade was struggling to hold down her snickers.

The two day wait was agony for Sakura. Not only did she not know how the proposed surgery would proceed, she was also banned from entering the hospital to pick up extra shifts. She was so accustomed to her busy lifestyle in Suna that she found herself looking for more things to do. Normally, she would help Ino out at the flower shop or assist Naruto with team training, but they were both out of Konoha for their own missions. She sparred with Sasuke, but that did not take an entire day. When she was caught by Mikoto for doing Sasuke's chores, albeit voluntarily, she was promptly kicked out of the Uchiha household.

When the third morning finally arrived, Sakura had scampered out of bed bright and early. She got ready in half the time that she usually took. Over the last two days, she had speculated the identity of the Suna shinobi and there was a high probability that she was correct in her guess. Honestly, there was no other puppeteer who could travel as fast as him, but the question was why though. What would he gain? He was impatient, but he was not reckless. Perhaps he wanted to show off his ability to Sakura, she had no doubt that he would do that considering how she destroyed him at arm wrestling. Still, the medic could not know for certain if the dispatched shinobi was who she thought he was until she checked.

Dressed in her jounin flak jacket and with her hair tied in a ponytail, Sakura ran to the main gate of Konoha. Technically, Tsunade would summon her once the Suna-nin arrived at her office or she could even wait there until they arrived, but a particular someone's distaste for waiting seemed to have rubbed off on her.

The guards at the gate greeted Sakura with large yawns. Their shift lasted from midnight till morning, so they were both more than ready to go home. Sakura smiled back in greeting.

"Waiting for someone?" one asked.

"Yes," Sakura replied.

"Team Naruto is not due back back for another few days and Sasuke-san is in town," the other spoke up, "Who else is lucky enough to have Sakura-san wait at the gate this early in the morning?"

"A good friend," Sakura smiled gently. Her expression was soft and warm and both chunins felt slightly envious of the person whom that curve of the lips was meant for.

Just as the first guard was about to ask her for more details, a figure appeared in the distance. Both chunins stood to attention next to the pinkette as she shielded her eyes from the rising sun in order to see better. The person walking towards them was wearing a light brown cloak and Suna's signature ANBU regalia. The smile on Sakura's face grew bigger as she stepped forward, moving outside of Konoha's protective walls.

The man stopped directly in front of her and his honey brown eyes peered down at her. She could not see the lower part of his face, but she knew he was returning her smile.

"I thought it might be you," Sakura said softly, "only you would be impatient enough to run all the way here from Suna."

"We both know you can't wait to begin your project and I don't like to make people wait. I did you a favor."

Sakura laughed as she wrapped her arms around his torso, much to the surprise of the two chunins who had been staring with their mouths wide open. In return, Sasori, while forcing his heart to slow down, hugged her back with one arm around her waist and one hand at the back of her head. He lightly pressed her closer and Sakura obliged until her face was touching his collar bone.

"I missed you," Sakura's voice was muffled, but Sasori heard it loudly and clearly.

"I missed you more."


Thank you for reading, favoriting, following, and reviewing this story. I honestly just wanted to get my Sasosaku feels off my chest when I wrote the story, but the reviews and favorites made me really happy.

I was going to end the story with a humorous note where Sasori arrives to Konoha with a mission to woo Sakura back to Suna and Sakura is shocked by his confession, but I decided to go further with the idea. There just was not enough scenes to release all my feels and I am certain that some readers would like to see more moments between them. Furthermore, the relationship is rather one-sided as of now and there was little romance on Sakura's part. Thus, I have decided to make a sequel! It will have take place in Konoha and who knows, I might throw in a rival...

Please keep an eye out for it!