Chapter 27: Snow

Sasuke stared at Sakura's mother unbelievingly. "What do you mean, she isn't here?"

The woman just shrugged. "I thought she was at your place. Did you two have a fight?"

"Does that mean she was NOT here for the last three days?"

Sakura's mother didn't seem to worry about her daughter at all. "You must really have upset her if she wasn't at home for so long. We were on a business trip until yesterday, and haven't heard anything from her since we left two weeks ago. I'm sorry." With that she closed the door and Sasuke realized that Sakura's family probably wasn't the ideal family either. Obviously, they hadn't even noticed that their daughter had been attacked and injured a few days ago.

He had hated her for having the perfect family and now he realized that her parents were far from being perfect. He wondered if they even cared about their daughter. Come to think about it, they had seen him treat her badly and they hadn't made any attempts to help her.

He shrugged off the thought and contemplated where else he could look for her. There was only one person that came to his mind. His features darkened. Kakashi. If that pervert had taken advances on his wife yet again, Sasuke would kill him this time for sure.

It was getting cold and he already regretted that he hadn't taken a jacket with him. He ran through the night to his former sensei's apartment. There, he knocked on the door and it took about a minute until a very sleepy Kakashi opened it. "Sasuke…" he yawned. "It's late and I have a mission tomorrow… what's up?"

"Is she here?" Sasuke hissed.


"My wife!" he barked impatiently.

"No…" Kakashi said and seemed serious suddenly. "Did something happen to her? I heard that she was attacked in your apartment a few days ago. You shouldn't leave her alone."

Great. Now Sasuke was starting to worry. But of course he wouldn't show it. "I guess she is alright. I just… don't know where she is. And I need to find her."

"Ah. Well, she isn't here. Try Naruto's place. Or her parents'."

"Hn." He turned around. Everything was going wrong today. When he felt something cool touching his arm, he realized that it had started to snow. Just great. Frustrated, he continued his way to Naruto's apartment. Which was, of course, just about on the other end of the village. He tried not to be worried. But it was strange that she wasn't at her parents' house or at Kakashi's. What if something had happened to her? What if Orochimaru had sent someone else to try to kill her?

Angry and trembling from the cold, Sasuke stomped up the stairs to his apartment. That stupid weather and that stupid Naruto and that stupid village! Where was his wife? She could hardly have disappeared. After all, Tsunade allowed no one to leave the village. Maybe Kakashi lied to him? Was she at his place?

He tried to think of anybody else she could be with. He had never bothered to find out who her friends were. After he had once almost thrown her parents out of the house, she had never brought anyone else home. He had never cared about her friends.

Frustrated, he tried to unlock the door, then realized that it was already open. Maybe he had forgotten to lock it. He entered the apartment, shivering, and turned on the lights. That was the moment when he realized that that something was wrong. Someone was in here. He looked around himself and discovered someone sitting on the window sill. "Who…?" The person stood up and he recognized her. "Ino? What the hell are you doing here?"

She stared at him coolly. "Where were you? I wanted to talk to you?"

"That's none of your business."

"I heard that you two broke up," Ino said slowly. "And I also know why." He attempted a dark reply but she continued: "You are a stupid asshole, Sasuke. If I had known that you married her just to revive the Uchiha Clan, I would have talked her out of this a long time ago. But I guess now it's too late. She loves you." Ino pulled something from her pocket and walked over to him, to hold it out in front of his face. It was a key. "She is at my place. The apartment next to the Yamanaka flower store. If you want to talk to her, then go. But don't you dare to hurt her. Or I'll make you regret it."

He stared into her eyes. He had never suspected Sakura to be at her place. With a silent nod of gratitude, he took the key and left his apartment.

Sakura sighed. Outside, it had started to snow. Somehow, that fit her mood. It was getting cold in the room, so she got up and partially closedthe window. She didn't mind the cold weather; she wasn't in the mood for sunshine right now anyways. She missed Sasuke. But this time she wouldn't come back to him. She expected Tsunade to contact her for the divorce any day now, but so far, she had heard nothing from the Hokage. She wondered who Sasuke would choose now, probably one of the remaining fangirls. If he really wanted to, he could have a lot of girls, she was well aware of that. The thought hurt, but she couldn't suppress it.

She winced when she heard a sound downstairs. Finally Ino was back. She left the room and went outside. She turned on the lights, but before she could call out Ino's name, she stopped. Surprised, she stared at the unexpected visitor who was standing by the stairs. "Sasuke…"

When she saw him, hope newly awoke within her. Maybe he had come to get her back? Immediately, she suppressed these thoughts. It would only hurt so much more if she raised her hopes again.

He stared at her and said: "Finally I found you."

"What do you want?" she asked icily. This time he wouldn't see her cry. "I told you that I won't be in your way. It's okay if you want to get divorced. I'll get the rest of my stuff as soon as I find a place to live. I don't think there's any more to talk about."

Before he could say anything, she turned around and returned to the room, slamming the door shut. She didn't want to see him, it hurt too much. She turned off the lights and sat down on the bed. She didn't want to cry, but she was on the verge of tears. That stupid Sasuke. Why was he here? Why did he have to do this to her? This was even worse, than what she had felt for the last few days. The slightest hope that he might want her back was even more hurtful. She knew he'd disappoint her again. He always did.

The door opened. Sakura sat with her back towards the door, so she didn't have to see him. She didn't dare turn around. "Go away already."

"Is this your way of getting back at me for treating you badly?" she heard him ask. "We need to talk, Sakura."

"Then talk," she said curtly. Actually, she didn't even want to hear it. The only thing she wanted to hear was that he wanted her back. But he wasn't going to say that. "But make it short. I'm tired."

For a moment, it was silent in the room. She stared stubbornly at the wall and he was standing by the door. Eventually, he said: "I want to be free, Sakura."

She lowered her head. No, she wouldn't cry. Not in front of him. "I know. I won't stop you."

"No, you don't understand…" She heard his footsteps when he approached the bed. "I no longer want to live like that. I don't want the clan to decide on my life. I thought I could be happy if I revived the clan. But I found something that makes me truly happy."

Sakura held her breath. Could it be? He sat down on the bed next to her and embraced her from behind. Her heart was beating so fast. Was this really Sasuke? At first she didn't dare to move, scared that this was just a cruel joke or that this was just a dream and she'd wake up any minute. He pulled her closer to his chest and eventually she relaxed in his arms.

Softly he said: "I don't care if we have children or not. I don't want anyone else. I only want you."

"Are you serious?"

"Yes. I'm sorry for how I treated you. It took me a long time to realize that you mean more to me than the clan."

"Sasuke… I love you…" She leaned back against him and closed her eyes. This was what she had missed for such a long time. To know that he really cared, to be embraced and held, to have a sign of affection. Once again she was close to crying.

"Sakura?" She heard him say. "I want you to come home."

"I do too," she murmured and snuggled closer to him. He picked up a blanket and wrapped it around them both. This wasn't a dream. Sasuke would never be a perfect husband. There would always be a certain distance, because he just wasn't the type to completely trust others. But he had changed, for her. He had opened his heart to her, and that was more than she had ever expected. For that, she loved him even more. Outside, the first snow was falling and she was sitting here, wrapped up in a blanket together with Sasuke. Could there be anything better? This was happiness.

"Sasuke…?" she muttered. "Do you mind… if I just fall asleep in your arms?"

He chuckled instead of a reply. She yawned and felt him relax too. Accompanied by the lull of his heartbeat she finally fell asleep.

When Ino came home much later and threw a worried glance into the guest room, she couldn't suppress a giggle. Sasuke and Sakura were lying on the bed in a tight embrace, wrapped up in a blanket. And they were both fast asleep. They were just so… cute! She fought down the urge to go downstairs, get a camera and take a picture of the couple.

It was chilly in the room and she sneaked over to the window to close it. When she attempted to leave the room, Sasuke raised his head and stared at her, sleepy at first and then sullenly. She just grinned and placed a finger against her lips to let him know that he could go back to sleep. Before he could say something and wake Sakura up, she sneaked out of the room and closed the door from the outside.

She could hardly wait to tell Shikamaru that Sasuke and Sakura were back together. And it was all thanks to her, Ino decided.