This story came about after mulling over how Sakura and Sasuke might deal with Sasuke's long Missions away and his sporadic homecomings, all while working through the stages of how they may have settled into lighthearted banter/attitude they developed in my story, "First Kiss." Published for Sasuke's birthday. Enjoy!

Disclaimer: Naruto and its characters belong to Masashi Kishimoto

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And now onto the story...

Telling one tiny white lie wouldn't be such a bad thing, the Uchiha told himself. After all, this was nothing major. A little something nudged at Sasuke's conscience, but instead of listening, he tried to reason further. He'd be a fool to bring up something so trivial! Time with his wife was limited, and it was far more important he use it making up for lost absences. Besides, remember the last time? Suppressing a cringe, he reminded himself just how much trouble he'd caused.

He'd just happened to return with a couple of bruises and fractured rib from a little skirmish, nothing he felt a stern wrap and a little rest couldn't heal, but that perfectionist of a wife he had was determined to devote the last of her chakra repairing his internal damage and smoothing over his skin to perfection. To his dismay, all of this was performed, after an exhausting double shift at the hospital. Of course it was appreciated, but said wife ended up passing out (yes, fainting!) before eating dinner or enjoying any of the 'honey I'm home pleasures' she (and he) deserved. There was no way Sasuke would allow this to happen again, so before departing the next morning, he insisted she promise never to overwork herself on his behalf like that EVER AGAIN. Unfortunately, Sakura's stubborn streak remained adamant about medical checks after his missions, and she wouldn't agree. Concerned, he tried once more, this time with a softer touch, but Sakura turned the tables and surprised him with push back of her own. Before he knew it, it got to the point where neither would budge and the argument came to a stalemate. Torn on how to proceed, Sasuke caught the subtle spark in her eyes that promised an enormous challenge if he kept it up, and he carefully weighed in on whether or not this was worth pursuing. Winning a disagreement over concern was one thing, but a challenge between former teammates could push things to a whole other level, and he knew there was just no time for that. To top it off, he wasn't accustomed to being the recipient of her disgruntled retaliation. (That was Naruto's job). Thus in order not to escalate things, Sasuke wisely backed down and left things open for discussion for another day. To smooth over any lingering vexation, he quickly switched gears and opted to leave his wife with a promise instead: his word of rewarding her (and himself) with the gift of enjoyable time together at a future homecoming. The change in topic seemed to ease the tension, and eventually brought about a smile from his wife. Seeing the happiness return to her eyes, with relief, the Uchiha was able to leave peacefully, knowing things were restored to a good place.

Better yet, he decided, it was best not to bring this up at all. A few more days of cleansing and it would be fine.

Gingerly, he applied a small bandage. He worried that disguising said bandage would be tricky, but with a little thought, he came upon a solution. Squeezing it on, he congratulated himself. Not bad. Coverage with a glove would indeed do the trick. It was true, Sakura might catch on that something was off when he kept the glove on inside the house, but if she came home and noticed he was doing some indoor cleaning, he was fairly confident, she'd be none the wiser.

To ease the wee bit of guilt on his part for dodging a protocol she had been insistent upon, Sasuke reminded himself that Sakura was notorious for over-blowing things, and there was no harm in waiting a day or so. Plus he knew he'd been through far worse on the battlefield and this was such a tiny scratch. Pfft. When he looked at it that way, he'd be an idiot to bother her with something so trivial to kick off this homecoming!

On his way home from his last mission Sasuke inadvertently befriended a stray cat. The little fur ball was shivering, and meowing loudly. It looked to be in crisis and its cries were impossible to ignore. He knew it took a lot for a feral cat to come close to a human, but this one did, and by the look of its sunken in belly, he imagined securing food was the driving factor. He'd known hunger when hiding away from ANBU after the Uchiha Massacre, and seeing suffering like this by a starving feline, made him feel unease. He had wrapped the remains of some fish he'd roasted over a fire into a handkerchief and put it into a scroll for consumption later, but after hearing the desperation of this young kit, he felt compelled to share. As expected, once he put his hand out with small bits of food, it drew its interest. The cat was skittish, a natural instinct of being out in the wild, but he soon grew brave enough to taste some of the fish bits out of Sasuke's hand, and in no time, finished the first serving. A rustling of the bushes from the wind put both of them on alert, and it was in that moment, on reflex, the cat's paw produced a claw that scratched his hand.


It wasn't bad, just a small wound. Fortunately, Sasuke's quick reflexes kept the crimson liquid from staining his clothes, and he was relieved no traces of blood had made it onto his outfit for his wife to worry over. A quick assessment revealed it was just a small puncture with a trickle of blood, so he secured a small strip of bandage to stop the bleeding and went straight onto feeding his little black friend the remainders of his leftovers. Once the fur ball was sated, he gave it a pat on the head and rose to his feet. As if in understanding, the feline gave a parting meow of thanks, and the Uchiha soon disappeared down the path.

Having given away the last of his rations, Sasuke doubled his pace and made it to Konoha before sunset, long before any hunger pangs of his own kicked in. Happy with his timing, he was able to pick up a few things at the outdoor market and made his way home. A nice l-o-n-g shower allowed him to feel fresh again and he went about preparing some soup, rice, sukiyaki, and anmitsu while he waited for his wife to return home from work.

Sakura's never-ending day was incredibly grueling and the last emergency zapped what little remained of her energy. Eager to head home to relax, she quickly gathered her belongings and exited the hospital. As if on cue, her stomach growled, and she tried to remember if there was anything left in her refrigerator. Unfortunately at this late hour nothing was open, so she resolved, she'd just have to make due with whatever she could find and catch a more substantial breakfast at the hospital cafeteria the next morning. Wearily she trudged down the path leading to her home, but perked when she noticed the porch light was on. Suddenly energized, she picked up her pace. Turning the key to unlock the door, she swung it open, and the wonderful smell of dinner wafted towards her.

"Hey! You're back early!" she chirped, a bright smile greeting him warmly.


"Welcome home, Sasuke-kun. How was your Mission?" Sakura shifted the white clinic coat and empty lunch box she held to one arm and sidled over to give him a hug.


"After getting the message from your hawk, I wasn't expecting you back until the end of the week, but this is great! When did you return?" Looking around, his wife took in the cues. "A few hours ago? From the looks of it, you already took a shower and had time to cook and clean," she stated, taking in the aroma from the kitchen, and noting the glove on his lone hand.

A nod, followed by a pull of a chair in front of the dining room table in askance for her to sit, welcomed her next.

"One second. Let me just rid myself of these things so I can look you over, then we can eat." She tossed her clinic jacket in the hamper and placed her lunch box in the sink, then made her way back to him.

"I'm fine," he assured. "No need. Besides, the mission was simple and you should eat first."

"Come now. Just a quick probe to be sure you're good," Sakura reasoned while she washed and dried her hands at the kitchen sink.

"I made some miso soup. It's best to eat it while it's hot," Sasuke insisted. "There's sukiyaki too, for the main course."

Sakura knew Sasuke was good at finagling his way to delay his medical checks, but her day was long and exhausting, and the soup and dinner sounded almost too good to be true.

"Fine, but no escaping my exam later."

He didn't respond, and dinner was followed by her favorite dessert, but the Medic in her, didn't forget where she left off.

"Okay, time for your check," she announced. She'd missed him a lot but there was work to be done first. "Hey, what's with the glove?" she questioned after taking note of it earlier.

When he removed it, he already anticipated her next question. "Why is there tape on your hand?"

"Look. I'm fine," he said pulling off his shirt. "See any injuries?" He turned to model. "Or was that just a ruse to see me shirtless?" For good measure he flexed for the final tease.

"Sasuke!" she reprimanded as she blushed, but when he smirked, she was disappointed in herself, knowing he'd gotten the better of her for a moment.

Ooooh that man! She knew he was thoroughly enjoying that ability of his to catch her off guard, but she recovered quickly enough and gave him a taste of his own medicine.

"Darling, clearly you're only showing me areas from the waist up. Now, what about...?" Her eyes drifted downward and he rolled his eyes.

"Shower, Sakura," he ordered, and when she gave him the classic little pout, he added: "I'm happy to see you too."

Freshened up and wrapped in a fluffy towel, Sakura entered the bedroom with a clear objective, but before she knew it, remembering the post mission exam somehow got rain checked. More urgent matters seemed to surface, and it was impossible not to get caught up in it all. It was sinfully delicious to have her husband home, and the special attention showered on her was more than welcome. She savored each and every pleasurable moment and secretly wished times like this could last forever, but since both had been working long hours during the past few months, it was inevitable exhaustion would catch up to them. It had been awhile since they'd been in the same Village, let alone the same bed, so both slept serenely knowing the other was there by their side. The night was special, one she knew she would cherish, but unfortunately neither had the forethought to set an alarm, so when morning came, it got a bit crazy. Slightly rumpled, Sakura grabbed a clinic jacket out a laundered pile of clothes and scampered off to the hospital, and Sasuke readied himself to see the Hokage and Naruto (his current overexcited trainee), to meet them about something.

No day was ever "normal" for the Uchiha's, and Sakura had to stay late at the hospital to stabilize an incoming patient while Sasuke left before sundown on a Mission to investigate some suspicious activities outside the Village. By the time Sakura made it home late that evening, all that greeted her was a note:

I was assigned another mission. Dinner together won't happen but I left some tonkatsu and rice behind for you to enjoy.


Disappointed, she opened the refrigerator only to find another note that made her laugh.

If you're sore, blame The Dobe!

Days went on, and although Sasuke noticed a small bump next to the scratch on his hand, he ignored it. It wasn't until there was some tenderness under his armpit did he start to think something might be amiss. He never possessed a big appetite but when he realized he hadn't finished the small bento he had packed himself a few days ago, it made him wonder. The mission wasn't hard, mainly reconnaissance, but being stealthy still required chakra use and food. Why wasn't he hungry?

Then it happened. Slowly but surely, things started to fall apart. It began with a sore throat and a feeling of warmth, but rapidly deteriorated. By the time he crouched near a forest tree, he was perspiring profusely. This couldn't have happened at a more inconvenient time. Sasuke was near the end of the Mission with a single delivery left to oversee for it to be complete. To abort now would only make things done this far, a total waste of time, and the next time around it would mean he would have to start from scratch; thus Sasuke was determined to push through. The fever dulled his senses and it wasn't easy, but his will of steel did not betray him and he made it to the rendezvous, finished gathering the information, and took off for Konoha.

By the time he made it through the front door of his home, he just about collapsed on the couch. Fortunately Sakura was at work, and he relaxed. It wasn't until he heard voices from the civilian children returning home from school, that he cracked his eyes opened and looked at the clock. Surprised at how fast time passed, he hoisted himself off the couch to remove his dirty clothes to shower. It took everything he had just to make it to the bed.

Sakura knew something was wrong the moment she entered the foyer of their home. Sasuke was a neat freak and when she saw his sandals were tossed off near the couch and his clothes were left on the bathroom floor, a feeling of dread washed over her and she raced to find him. Discovering him soaking the bed sheets with a fever really stoked her worry and she quickly got to work. To his embarrassment, Sasuke could no longer hide the fact that he was indeed sick and allowed his wife to assess him. Concern shown on her face when she probed his armpit and discovered the swells of tissue that were painful to the touch.

"Sasuke," she reprimanded. "How long have you been like this?"

"Not long," he assured.

Giving him the evil eye, he corrected himself. "A week, max."

She harrumphed then went into healing mode, discovering the swollen lymph nodes and the red bumps on his hand. "Besides the fever and under arm swelling, what else is amiss on your body?" she inquired.

"Nothing," he replied.

"Really? How long have these bumps been here?" Sakura pointed to the scratch on his hand with tiny red pustules.

"Since the last mission but it's not..."

"Stop," Sakura interrupted, firmly. "How do you know what IS and IS NOT important?"

Exhausted from the fever, the Uchiha was too tired to argue.


"What did you scratch yourself on? A tree branch? A rock? A kunai?"

"A cat."

"A cat? What cat?"

"There was a stray cat in the woods I fed on my way back home. Wind rustled some branches and startled it, so it accidentally scratched me."

"Sasuke," Sakura reprimanded. "So THIS has been infected for how long?"

"Two weeks."

"Arghhh. Really? Why didn't you show me when you were home last?"

"I didn't think much of it, and it wasn't bad."

"I will be the determiner whether it's good or bad," she spoke firmly.

"Hn," he conceded but was met with silence. "Well, is it bad?" he inquired after a bit of time. He hadn't felt this horrible in quite some time but was confident Sakura would fix him so there was really no need to worry.

"Terminal," she said seriously.

"That's what I...What?!" he backpedaled.

"You heard me."

Silence seized the moment as he sucked in a breath and his eyes darted to the blisters on his hand then back at his wife.

"Terminal," she emphasized.

"But ..." He fumbled. "How can that be?"

"Well..." she began with a serious face and turned to look him in the eye. "If you don't get it through that thick head of yours that you shouldn't hide things whenever you're hurt, I'll have to choice but to punch you from here to the moon and you'll be a terminal case!"

Even in his feverish state, he managed a curve of his lips. That Sakura, always one to drive the message home.

"Got it," he assured her, trying not to chuckle.

"Good. Seriously though, things aren't good, but I think I can stop the inflammation."

With relief he leaned back in exhaustion and allowed her to probe him with her chakra.

"Sasuke," she warned after she was finally able to draw back. "You were suffering from cat scratch fever. I know the tiny scratch from the cat seemed minimal at the time, but hiding it only caused you to fall dangerously ill. You were really lucky. For some reason in nin, the bacteria responsible for this disease has a preponderance to travel to the eye and cause neuroretinitis, a condition that causes loss of vision. It can cause a myriad of other complications too. I removed what I could detect in your eyes and other organs but will need to work to collect it out of your circulating blood next. Hang in there. It's going to take some time."

Seeing how worn out his wife was from this, after enduring her heavy hospital shift, he really felt bad.

Eyebrows creased she resumed her work, pulling the bacteria out of him and disposing of it. It was painstaking work but gradually he felt much better. Weak, but better.

"Sorry," he muttered when the last of it was gone.

"You should be," Sakura scolded. "I was really worried," she blurted as she took a moment to smooth stray bangs behind her ear and sit on the mattress for a break. But when she saw the unintentional hurt she'd inflicted, understanding that he'd probably taken her words harder than he should have, Sakura softened and changed course. "Hey, I'll forgive you this time, but next time..."

An eyebrow was raised as he looked at her directly, facing his mistake and ready to accept his punishment.

"Follow protocol and get checked out after every mission either by me or another Medic."

"Hn. " The answer was his standard non-committal grunt, but she took it as a yes.

"AND..." She noticed she'd caught his attention so she stood, looking him directly in the eye to nail a message home. "Don't forget, if you're EVER caught being naughty like this again, your head and arm might not be the only thing that hurts!" She said seriously but with an obvious tease.

He was simply too tired to disguise his snort. She was one strong kunoichi and to survive an encounter without injury if he lied and upset her again, well, he knew he couldn't risk going down that road. He was just relieved this time she was taking it in stride. Feeling a weight lifted from him, he now worked to show his thanks to his wife.

"Sakura," he called out, voice low and with a sexy edge.

Eyebrow raised, curiosity struck at what he'd say.

"I'll do my best to make you happy," he promised, drawing closer to her, and earning a smile. Then he leaned in and whispered, "But you can't blame me if I'm a little naughty, when it comes to thanking my wife."

"Sasuke!" Sakura eeeped, playfully pushing him away. "Enough. You have to rest to restore your chakra so you can heal!"

"Is that an order from my doctor or my wife?"

There was a hint of mirth in her eyes and Sakura smiled knowing she had the upper hand. She was both!

"I see," So it's Dr. Haruno. "Well, if you're interested Doc, your patient here is famished. Truth be told, I haven't eaten much in DAYS," he emphasized, but she knew her husband better than he thought.

"Food is in the refrigerator dear," she told him. "Help yourself to whatever you want because dessert will have to wait for later."

Hmmmph...With that, he knew the brakes were on from any further action from him. Tch, How unfortunate. It was a bit of a let down, but Sasuke wouldn't give Sakura the satisfaction of hearing him say it out loud. Lucky for him, he was on the road to recovery and had made it safely home where he could rest. He was sure there would be plenty of time for 'dessert' another time and honestly after he charged his batteries, the doctor here wouldn't be able to hassle him about what he should and should not do. In fact once fully healed, his options would be w-i-d-e open, without limitations and the rewards he (and she) could have would be endless! Hmmmm. When he thought about it now, that didn't sound so bad. It didn't sound bad at all!

"You know what? I changed my mind. You're right. I should rest."

Sakura's eyes narrowed until he shared his next words.

"Restoring chakra is the right thing to do," Sasuke conceded.

Smug satisfaction appeared, with a sparkle of I told you so flashing in her eyes. At that moment, she could barely reign herself in from bursting out with a dance. Ha! So Uchiha Sasuke finally admitted SHE was right for once! This moment was pure gold! And... not to rub it in but after the way they left things a few weeks ago, she knew technically she won both the argument AND got what she wanted. Score!

The elation over winning was by no means missed by Sasuke and he paused and let her preen before putting his plan into motion. "That way, when I wake up later, as you said, 'I can help myself to whatever I want.'"

It took a moment for her smile to falter.

Wait, what was he talking about? To a helping of food? Or to her? She was sure she'd never promised the latter. Pausing to process, her mind honed into their their last conversation...

"Hey! I never said..." but before she could refute, that husband of hers was already fast asleep, sporting that infamous smirk of his. Heart racing, she suddenly recalled his last verbal promise to her and couldn't believe how this argument had gone cockeyed and sparked some sort of challenge. Grrrr. I can't believe you! she groused. No thanks to needing to remove the extensive poisoning in his system, she was exhausted and nearly depleted of all her chakra. Several hours of rest were needed to rejuvenate, but just now, he managed to get her as worked up as ever! How in the world was she able to get any sleep now to recharge? Still, Sakura knew she couldn't waste time being flustered, especially knowing how that mind of her husband's worked and where his priorities lay. Arghhh... It was just like him to put a plan in motion to eeek out his promised homecoming's reward after her win, and it was no secret Sasuke's rewards and thank yous were notoriously more action than words. A blush spread as the thought of what a rested and ready Sasuke could do, and she hightailed it to the shower then jumped into bed. She loved him. She really did, but sometimes she wondered just how in the world the man could be so sneaky and naughty, easily earning her ire, and yet always so smoothly be able to sneak in what he wanted too!

The end

Poor Sakura. Sasuke does twist things in his favor here. I guess that's what made the revenge she gets in my story "First Kiss." all the more sweet.