Accidentally Setting the Christmas Tree on Fire

It wasn’t until he smelled smoke and plastic burning that Sasuke remembered what his mother had told him about the outlet under the bay window.

Having moved out to his own place after knocking up his girlfriend, Sasuke no longer knew the ins and outs of his childhood home. He dropped by occasionally to spend time with his mother but ever since he was accepted into college he was barely at his parents’ house and wouldn’t know anything about faulty outlets.

He should have been paying attention to his mother more.

Sasuke had one job: decorate the Christmas tree. He could have gone to pick up Itachi from the airport but sitting in a car with Izumi and Shisui for forty-five minutes was something he wanted to avoid. He couldn’t argue against their inclusion because if Sasuke could bring his significant other why couldn’t Itachi bring his? Even if those two were some of the most annoying…

It was too late to regret switching tasks with his parents. What was done was done.

“Hello?” The front door clicked open and there was a rustling of someone carrying multiple bags through the doorway.

Tossing the fire extinguisher to the side, Sasuke stood in front of the burnt tree trying his best to hide it.

“It smells awful in here!” Sakura waddled into the family room, arms full of gift bags.

“Should you be carrying so much?”

“I’m pregnant not an invalid.” Sakura scowled before plopping down on the couch. She had a slight waddle in her walk now but that wasn’t going to stop her from carrying on with her life. “Okay. What did you do?”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.” Sasuke crossed his arms trying to act as nonchalant as possible. Sakura simply raised an eyebrow and then lifted herself off of the couch, using both arms for support.

“You destroyed your father’s fake tree.” Sakura bit her lip to try and contain a grin from spreading on her face. “You somehow burned down his flame retardant tree.”

“Can you open some of the windows? Maybe the smell will go away before they get back.”

Sasuke began to disassemble the tree, trying to think up a solution to his predicament. There was no way he was going to be able to get a tree three days before Christmas and before his parents came home. It was a good thing all he had done was plug in the lights. No way he was going to get away with destroying his mother’s precious handmade ornaments.

Although he did wish she would toss out the tomato ornament he had made for her when he was seven.

“So what are we gonna do?” Sakura shuffled back into the family room with a trash bag for the tree.

“We can always go steal Naruto’s tree,” Sasuke suggested. He wasn’t being serious. He knew Sakura wouldn’t agree to that.

“No we can’t━”

See, exactly as he thought━

“━he somehow convinced his mother to use a cactus Gaara sent him instead of a traditional tree. Mikoto would never go for a cactus.”

Or not.

Sasuke should not have been surprised that she had also contemplated stealing Naruto’s tree and throwing him to the wolves. Better him than them.

“Do you think your parents would mind if we borrow theirs?”

“They didn’t get one this year since they’re on that cruise.” Sakura rolled her eyes. Kizashi and Mebuki hadn’t even thought twice about spending the holiday on a cruise.

Sighing, Sasuke tied up the garbage bag and took it out. He would just have to endure his father’s disappointed looks and his mother’s sniffling.

He was just about to turn back up the drive when Sakura called out to him.

“Heads up!”

Sasuke caught their car keys at the last moment before they hit him square in the chest.


“I know how we can get another tree.”

“A-and I forgot about the outlet ‘cause of this stupid pregnancy brain,” Sakura sobbed, face in her hands. “And now Mikoto is going to be mad at me! I’m so stupid!”

Obito didn’t know what he had expected when he opened the door but it definitely wasn’t his cousin and his pregnant girlfriend. His cousin’s crying pregnant girlfriend.

“And I-I just don’t know what t-to do!” Sakura wailed.

Sasuke shifted on the balls of his feet nervously. On the ride over to Obito’s house Sakura told him to just be quiet and let her do all of the talking. He hadn’t expected her to spontaneously burst into tears when they parked their car in Obito’s driveway.

“It can’t be that bad.” Obito made to comfort Sakura but pulled back when Sakura let out a loud wail. “Sakura it will be fine, Auntie loves you! She won’t mind at all━”

At that Sakura uncovered her face and looked up at Obito with glassy jade eyes full of hope.

“A-are you sure?” Sakura hiccuped and tried to calm her breathing. “Because it seems like I’m always screwing up. Like first I get knocked up while I’m still in school,” Sasuke choked on air, knowing he had taken part in that, “and now I’m destroying their Christmas decorations.”

“Look how about you just take my tree.” Obito scratched the back of his head nervously. “It’s not like I need one. I’ll be spending the holiday with you guys anyway.”

“R-really? You’ll let us have your tree?” Sakura gave a watery chuckle and shook her head.  “That would be so nice of you, Obito.”

“Yeah, of course! What’s family for, right?” He nudged Sasuke in the ribs and nodded his head toward his living room. “Come on, Sasuke. Let’s load it onto your car.”

After a bunch of struggling to strap Obito’s live tree onto the hood of their car, Sakura and Sasuke were pulling out of Obito’s driveway as he waved goodbye to them.

“See? Problem solved.” Sakura pulled out makeup wipes from her purse and cleaned up any mess her tears could have made with her mascara.

“Do you do that all of the time?” Sasuke had to ask. “Like with me?”

“What? Of course not!” Sakura laughed and punched him playfully on the arm.

“Not even when you want me to rub your feet? Or when you don’t want to go to the store?”

“Never!” Sakura held her hand to her chest dramatically. “I don’t like what you’re insinuating.”

Sasuke raised an eyebrow at her but just rolled his eyes and kept his eyes on the road.

At least they had a new tree now. Even if was through a dirty trick he had to admit, Sakura’s brains really did save him.

“But seriously, how about that one time━”

“Are you really accusing the mother of your child of manipulation?”

“Whatever. Just know that I’ll be on the lookout for that now.”

“Like you could even tell the difference,” Sakura challenged.

“I bet I could.”

Sakura narrowed her eyes at him and he just smirked.

“You haven’t been able to tell yet,” Sakura muttered.

“What did you say?”


Only You

He missed touching her.

He missed the sound of her voice and the way she bit her lower lip before bursting into a peal of laughter. Sakura was always too loud and too big in every way but her body.

And Sasuke was realizing that her mother was the same.

Shit, Sasuke groaned inwardly. From his desk and through his holo-screen he could see the familiar blonde hair of his fiancée’s mother. The color had caught his attention from his peripheral and when he focused on the approaching woman he wanted to hide his face in his hands.

Mebuki Haruno had been coming every day since the accidental death of her daughter. She had been sympathetic at first when she found out that Sasuke was called in for the hit and run which resulted in organic damage. The sympathy flew out the window when she discovered that Sakura’s stack had been missing.

The Harunos were grounders which meant they were too poor to afford a clone or synthetic sleeve that was a replica of their daughter. The government was to provide a free sleeve because she had been involved in an accident with a government owned vehicle.

But Sasuke didn’t want a stranger’s face. He didn’t want to hear Sakura’s thoughts and words with a stranger’s voice.

“Officer Uchiha.”

Mebuki’s eyes were two shades too dark and she had wrinkles at the corners of her eyes but it wasn’t difficult to imagine Sakura giving him the cold, accusing look.

Sasuke and Sakura weren’t married. He had no right to her cortical stack, to her coding.

But he refused to have anyone but Sakura.

So another day of cold stares and shouting was on his agenda.

Kizashi, Sakura’s father, was never present when his wife came to demand their daughter’s stack. He was only there the first time when Mebuki went on a rampage when they were told her stack was missing from her sleeve.

His eyes were dull and tears clung to his pale lashes—Sakura’s lashes—as he followed behind his wife. He didn’t seem aware of where he was until his wife started accusing Sasuke of kidnapping their daughter.

Kizashi blinked back his tears but didn’t say a word. His reactions were abnormal. Even grounders had a lack of care for the original sleeve when a secondary one was an option.

Sasuke hoped it was because Kizashi felt the same way he did.

That Kizashi didn’t want anyone unless it was his daughter.

Sasuke lived in Konoha and worked as a cop but it didn’t change the fact that home for him was Sora-ku, the city in the sky.

It was probably one of the reasons he hadn’t been fired for misconduct when he removed Sakura’s stack and refused to hand it over to her parents. Why no one bothered to do anything but write a short note in his file about misplaced data.

Meths, even if they lived as grounders, could still flex enough muscle to get what they wanted.

Sasuke never thought about the fact that he had multiple clones in a freezer. He was still too young to care about transferring to a new sleeve and he had been lucky so far that he hadn’t sustained organic damage even with his profession.

A profession his family humored as an eccentricity, merely a hobby.

The Uchiha were rich enough to never have to work a day in their long, long lives.

But no one really cared what the second son of the ancient Madara Uchiha’s twenty-fourth child’s did to pass the time.

They turned their noses up at his preference for the ground world, enjoying the comforts of their floating city away from the “thugs and brutes” that were jealous of their superior sleeves.

Sasuke wondered sometimes if the face Sakura loved so much was his own or genetic modifications, an altered appearance modeled after the beautiful features of his mother’s.

It was a question he never felt comfortable enough to ask. Or accuse his mother of.

Sakura was beautiful. She was beautiful in a way only a child of the ground world could be. Born in Konoha to immigrant cake shop owners, nothing about her looks was artificial.

Everything was hers and Sasuke loved her all the more for it.

Suspension was all they could do to appease Mebuki Haruno. Madara Uchiha funded the department and lined the pockets of the mayor and governor. No one was going to terminate employment of his favorite grandchild.

In reality it wasn’t a punishment but more like a vacation. Sasuke needed the free time to supply the data gatherers information on the clone for Sakura.

“You can make her how you like her,” his grandfather had tossed out nonchalantly. “Get rid of any pesky traits she didn’t like herself.”

It was said in such a blasé manner and Sasuke was caught off guard. Madara didn’t mean any insult and none of his other relatives had even reacted to the comment.

It was typical of them to pick out mods for their new sleeves. They could enhance their clones as they pleased. Money was never an issue.

“My forehead is huge!” Sakura used to complain. It was only slightly larger than average, nothing Sasuke would have even noticed if it weren’t for the fact that she had pointed it out.

He was too caught up in pretty jade eyes to think of something as inconsequential as a slightly wide forehead.

When Sakura’s sleeve had been freshly damaged, Sasuke had taken a trip down to the forensic pathologist and swiped DNA samples.

Using his access code he was able to secure swabs of saliva and blood and hair samples. He had been lucky that her body was secured by the police due to the nature of her death. It was an accident but an investigation was necessary.

Insurance companies were always trying to get out of securing free sleeves for those whose sleeves were going to die of natural causes or if the accident was preventable on the victim’s side.

His Sakura wasn’t a drunk or a junkie. She had just stepped off of the curb on her way to the bookstore and an asshole crossed the intersection when his light was red.

“You are able to alter anything,” the technician explained as he filled out Sakura’s entry into his holo-screen. “You can change her features to look more Terran. Or if you prefer the exotic features of a different Outerworld. We can alter her body fluids to produce Empathin or even get rid of her freckles. Increase her bust size maybe? It’s not often the original isn’t here to select their own mods.”

Sasuke’s neck heated up at the thought of Empathin. Sakura would probably push him over the railing of their apartment veranda if he gave her a perverted mod without her consent.

But the idea of feeling what she felt and her feeling what he felt when they made love was tempting.

Maybe for the next clone when he could talk to her face to face and they could discuss it. He refused to have her spun in a temporary body to have the conversation.

“Exactly the same.”

It took a month for the sleeve to be complete.

The life cycle was accelerated when it came to making clones for those that had already reached adulthood. Technology was only so advanced. If Sasuke had it his way he would have had Sakura’s sleeve ready the same day he placed his order.

Sakura’s clone looked almost exactly like her. The sleeve lacked the scars that littered her body, given to her from life. Her forearm no longer had the burn mark from her accident in her family’s bakery. There was no nick at her left eyebrow.

But it was Sakura. Her same rose gold hair and jade eyes. Even all of her freckles were the same, trailing down her sternum and dusting her breasts.

“We need the cortical stack.”

The technician broke Sasuke’s focus away from examining Sakura’s clone.

“Once we upload Sakura Haruno’s Digital Human Freight she can be needlecasted to her new sleeves from here on out. A total safeguard from Real Death.”

Sasuke slipped off the necklace he was prone to wearing around when he knew he wasn’t working. Only where he knew he was safe.

He wanted Sakura’s stack with him at all times but he wasn’t always the safest option.

When he wasn’t wearing her stack around his neck, he hid it in his mother’s private rooms.

Making her clones and needlecasting Sakura made his mother giddy.

“Now we’ll really be family,” Mikoto had gushed at the idea of Sakura’s clones residing in the Uchiha vault.

It was a tad morbid but not an unexpected reaction.

Sasuke handed the stack to the technician and within moments Sakura’s D.H.F. was uploaded.

“She’ll respawn in a few seconds.”

Sasuke watched as the sleeve’s eyes blinked into focus. It’s nose twitched and it smiled softly at him.

“Good morning, Sasuke.”

Call Me By My Name

Sakura rubbed the back of her neck and rolled it, letting out a moan of relief. She couldn’t wait until her shift was over and she could go home. She loved her job but even she could get tired and weary having to tend to patients for twelve hours.

Especially when she forgot her supplements at home.

Sakura had never been fond of drinking blood. It went against everything she had worked for in her previous life when she had been studying to be a doctor.

She worked as a nurse now, always taking the overnight shifts so that no one would question her about not going out to socialize with coworkers. She never stayed at a hospital long, five years was her maximum, ready to leave and work somewhere far away so that no one questioned why she never aged or why her life was so stagnant.

In the beginning it had been hard. She wasn’t meant for a solitary life but it hurt her to see everyone she cared about move on with their lives while it seemed hers had stopped a long time ago.

“We can move to a different place and tell everyone you’re my oldest,” Ino, her best friend, had joked. In her early fifties she was still a head turner and with her fair complexion and blue-green eyes she could pass for Sakura’s mother. “And then when Inojin looks older than you we can move away again and you’ll be my youngest.”

But when Sakura saw her own face, forever twenty-three, she couldn’t help the ache that settled deep in her chest.

Ino, her husband Sai, and their child were the only ones of Sakura’s old life that knew about her condition. Sakura mostly kept her distance from them but she remained in contact, letting them know where she settled next.

There was no telling Ino that she couldn’t speak to her. Twenty-five years back when Sakura had broken off contact, Ino had hired a P.I. and Sakura reluctantly came back home.

Sai hadn’t bat an eye when he caught her with a rabbit in her mouth, tears and blood running down her face. He never explained why he was so nonchalant about the way he had found her but Ino had explained that it wasn’t his first time tracking down a loved one that had a peculiar ailment.

“If I never ran off you would have never found the love of your life,” Sakura had once teased her.

“Shut up! Don’t you ever do that again,” Ino snapped back.

So Sakura kept in touch but she also kept her distance. One day Ino and her family would die and she would look as she did the day she had been turned, forever twenty-three.

Sakura gagged but drained the entire vial. The supplements were disgusting but they replaced the need for blood.

Karin, an older vampire, had created the alternative to blood drinking. She was an acquaintance of Sai’s from his days as an investigator. She had an uncanny gift for knowing where everyone was at any given moment.

Her tracking was much more enhanced than a typical vampire and once she knew a scent she never forgot it.

She was an odd one, at first not wanting compensation for the supplements, but Sai warned Sakura to make sure Karin received monetary payment.

“She likes to collect nice scents and pretty things. Don’t ever be indebted to her.”

Sakura wiped her mouth with the back of her hand and placed the glass vial in her kitchen sink.

Some days, Sakura could understand why Karin had become twisted over time and seeked out companionship as a means of payment.

Life could get lonely when trying to keep their secret.

Sakura preferred the night shift because of the quiet. It had nothing to do with a myth that vampires couldn’t be in sunlight. Sure her eyes were more sensitive to light now but it had more to do with the fact that there would be less people to run into.

Besides the few overnight guests, Sakura only had to deal with her coworkers and the poor patients that had difficulty sleeping

So far she had been lucky and no one from her old life had crossed her path anywhere that she moved to. She had to make sure she was prepared just in case.

“Oh, I’m sorry you must be mistaken.”

“You know what’s funny? I get that all of the time. I must have one of those faces.”

“Sakura? I’m sorry my name is Saya. No not Haruno, Yamanaka.”

But she didn’t know if she would really be able to hold her composure if she saw someone she once held dear.

Sakura wasn’t able to attend her mother’s funeral but she was able to attend her father’s.

She knew if she saw her father weeping over her mother’s casket, lowering her into the plot right next to the empty one that had her name on the headstone she would blow her cover.

When all of the mourners had left she made her way over to his grave. Luckily, Ino had a hand in arranging the funeral and burial proceedings. Kizashi had given up his plot to bury her and her mother side by side. Ino had convinced the person that purchased the plot on the other side of Mebuki to let Kizashi have it.

They deserved to be next to each other. Sakura knew her mother had never been the same since she had “died” and that her mother’s passing had broken her father’s heart.

Sakura was officially the last of the Haruno family. But no one would ever know her name. Not until it was safe enough to use her real name again.

But she would be waiting a while to do that.

Good thing she had nothing but time.

Disgusting. There was nothing Sakura found more disgusting than drinking human blood.

Correction, there was something she found more disgusting.

Sakura yanked on the tall porter’s scrubs and dragged him into a supply closet. She slammed him into a wall and pressed her elbow into his throat.

“We don’t take from the hospital,” she hissed.

“I’m doing my job,” the porter responded coolly, not even flinching at the fact that she was attempting to crush his throat. “You’ll have to try harder than that by the way.”

“Uh..” Sakura’s face scrunched up in confusion but she pressed harder.

“See,” he gasped out, “now you’re actually doing some damage. As fun as this is, there’s a patient in ED that needs a blood transfusion.”

“Wait. What?”

A ringing sound came from the porter’s pocket. He reached into his pocket and pulled out one of the hospital portables.

“Yeah, I’m on my way. A nurse just had a question.” He looked down his nose at her and raised an eyebrow. “Can I go do my job?”

The porter brushed her off, much more easily than she expected him to.

He pushed past her and left the closet.


“Can you not make a scene?” He asked without turning around.

And then under his breath, only loud enough for someone with her ears, “Annoying.”

“Figures that the first time you gossip with us it’s about Otonashi.”

Sakura chewed on her straw and cocked her head to the side. The more movements she made, made it easier to distract her companions from the fact she wasn’t really eating her dinner.

It wasn’t that she couldn’t eat the food. It just made her feel like a glutton when she ate food and took her supplements which were much more necessary for her to consume.

“What do you mean?”

“He’s the best looking guy that works here and I think all of the single porters and nurses have made a pass at him but he never wants to go out for drinks or hang out on off days in our rotations. Kind of like you.”

Her coworker tossed her ponytail over her shoulder and sighed.

“He’s just a porter but damn.”

“Keep dreaming, Hannah,” a different nurse mocked as she strolled by the nurses’ station.

Sakura spun around in her computer chair and hopped up to dump out her trash from her “dinner.” She was still on her break and it was obvious that she wasn’t going to get far in her questioning.

“I’m going for a walk.”

“Yeah, yeah I’ll keep an eye on your rooms.” Hannah waved her off but grinned at her slyly.”Say hi to Sousuke for me.”

Sakura shook her head but didn’t deny it. She hoped to run into this “Sousuke Otonashi” on her walk. It wasn’t often that she met one of her own kind and it was even rarer that they would take a job that would have them near such easy access to blood but not attempt to steal it.

He had been working at the hospital longer than she had and when she had researched places to move to and work at there were no incidents surrounding the area or the hospital.

She wanted a peaceful place to live in, no drama, and it looked like her vampire coworker wasn’t going to ruin that for her.

“What’s your name?”

Otonashi scoffed and tapped on his ID badge.

“No, I mean,” Sakura moistened her lips, “your real name.”

“What makes you think Sousuke Otonashi isn’t my real name?”

The corners of his lips twitched upwards. Once upon a time that would have been too miniscule a movement for her to notice but now nothing escaped her.

“Like you believe Saya is my real name.”

He leaned back on his hands and sighed. They had been sharing their break times with each other and chatting whenever they ran into each other but he still didn’t let Sakura in.

“It’s Sakura by the way.” Sakura cleared her throat. “My real name is Sakura.”

Otonashi stared at her impassively before turning his eyes back to the night sky.

“I didn’t need to know that.”

“But now you do.”

They sat there in silence for a beat.


Sakura burst out laughing and Sasuke clucked his tongue at her.

“It’s so similar to your alias. Did you even try?” Sakura relaxed and flopped her head onto his shoulder. “Sasuke suits you more.”

“How old are you?”

Sasuke dropped his cigarette and crushed it under his shoe. Sakura watched him pick it up and throw it into the closest trash bin, waiting.


“No! I mean how old are you really?”

“I thought you would be able to figure that out with my name.”

“It is a pretty old name. No one names their kids that anymore.”

Sasuke frowned but Sakura kept smiling up at him expectantly. She knew he would answer her question. He was a quiet man but there was something so liberating about being able to speak so freely to someone, to someone who would understand.

“I was turned in nineteen sixty-three at the age of twenty-six.”

“You died three years before I was born,” Sakura giggled. “You’re such an old man.”

She looped her arm in his and led him away from the bar they had visited. It was strange drinking alcohol. It was mostly for show. The only way to really get drunk was to drink the blood of an intoxicated person.

But it was nice to go out with someone and not have to think about how one day she would have to leave them.

“Hey,” she called out, bringing his attention to her.

Sakura stood on her toes and pressed a kiss against his cheek. His skin was cold, just like hers.

She hoped one day she wouldn’t have to leave him.

Sakura was glad her back was to him. Her sob was disguised as a whine for release as Sasuke gripped her waist roughly and thrust into her from behind.

It had been so long since anyone touched her in such a way.

It had been so long since anyone called out her name the way he did.


His moan was muffled into the back of her neck.

Sakura was so sure that one day she would forget her own name. When Ino was dead and no one knew her from when she was Sakura she was sure she was going to forget her own name.

But with Sasuke she was Sakura. In his bed with their bodies pressed together, she was Sakura.

And she wasn’t ever going to forget the way he panted her name into her ear and branded it on her skin with his mouth.

She loved him.

It was terrifying but she did, she loved him.

Sakura loved him but there was no way to know if he loved her back. Because sometimes she wondered to herself about her own feelings.

Did she love him or did she love the way she was no longer lonely when she was with him?

Sasuke shifted under her fingers. His brows furrowed and he looked at her quizzically as she traced her finger down his nose and over his cupid’s bow. She pulled gently down on his lower lip and then continued to trace down his chin and then stopped when her finger reached his chest, right over where his heart should have been beating but wasn’t.

“If we never died I wouldn’t have met you,” Sakura murmured. “I wonder what your family would have thought of me. If we were alive at the same time that is.”

“Too American,” Sasuke teased her. “We were immigrants. You were born here.”

“We could have met still if we never turned,” Sakura curled up closer to his body. “You would have been old though.”

“I’m not a cradle robber.”

“No, just a grave robber, huh?” Sakura giggled at her own joke. She sighed and wrapped her arm around his waist.

It was so easy to get comfortable like this. It was so easy to get close, to get hurt.

Sakura had picked the area she did because it was peaceful, drama free.

She just had to go and find some anyway.

“Next time I relocate I’m going to use my real name,” Sasuke muttered, drawing on her back with his finger. His finger went in a circle and then down in a line underneath it over and over again. “Uchiha. It’s been a while since I used it.”

“That sounds nice,” Sakura replied. The corners of her eyes began to blur, tears lining her lashes.

He was leaving. She shouldn’t have allowed herself to get comfortable.

Sakura couldn’t help but think about Karin and how she sometimes took payment in the form of companionship. It was probably one too many heartbreaks that had her yearning for more, even if it wasn’t real.

“You should use it too.”

Sakura blinked back her tears and tilted her chin up so she could see his face. He never stopped tracing his finger on her back in the same pattern, round in a circle and then a line underneath.

“You could be Uchiha if you want.”

“And could I go with you?” Sakura whispered, scared to voice the question even though Sasuke would be able to hear it perfectly no matter the volume.

“That would be the only condition if you want to use my name.”

“Couldn’t you just ask me like a normal person?” Sakura rolled her eyes but her lips turned up in a smile. “Or you could have asked me to make you miso soup everyday, you know, like the old man that you are.”

“That is going to get old one day.”

“Oh, like you?”

“You’re not exactly young yourself.”

“How dare you?” Sakura feigned insult at his words before bursting into a fit of giggles. “I have a condition then too.”

Sasuke frowned, looking unsure.

“What is it?”

“Always call me by my name. My real name.”


She wasn’t mad. She really wasn’t.

But the more he made it seem like she was and then acted like he didn’t care when he obviously did, she couldn’t help but get mad.

Which was why she was, yet again, at his house baking with his mother.

If she had been mad at him this was the best way to get irritate him. Simply making herself a constant in his life and acting as if he wasn’t the one she cared to see was slowly grinding at him and Sakura knew it.

Sasuke could act as aloof as he wanted but after being his teammate for over a year she knew him better than that.

It bugged him that she was so nonchalant about being in his house after months of asking him out and wanting to spend time with him.

Sakura didn’t believe it at first that any action of hers could frustrate Sasuke but his older brother had insisted that what she did meant more to him than she realized.

But the presence she felt behind her as she sifted flour was enough to reassure her.

It was his house. He shouldn’t have to tiptoe around it.

Before, he would cross his arms in front of his chest and lean against the doorframe and watch Sakura as she moved around the kitchen. He would wait for her to acknowledge his presence but she would just go about her business until his mother or his brother came in.

Sasuke wasn’t sure which was worse, his mother coming or Itachi.

His mother would send him away from the kitchen, simply waving him off and the treatment was shocking. But on the other hand when Itachi came in, attracted by the smell of sweets, Sakura would greet his brother after ignoring him the entire time he stood there and offer him a piece of whatever she had been helping his mother make.

Now he just let himself into the kitchen and would grab a drink and a snack and sit at the low table. He didn’t wait for Sakura to acknowledge his presence nor did he expect it.

But it was strange how the two of them moved around each other without issue.

Almost as if they weren’t in the middle of the strangest fight.

With Naruto they fought head on and got physical. Sasuke couldn’t do the same with Sakura. No matter how irritated he got with her, he never wanted to hurt her.

But that’s what he ended up doing wasn’t it? It may not have been physical but he still intentionally hurt her feelings.

And he wasn’t even sure why he did it in the first place.

Sasuke was blunt and it was usually a good thing. People needed to hear blunt truths at times. But his comment about the flowers was just mean.

He knew that the cursed seal put him on edge. Every time something irritated him in the slightest he would react stronger than he usually would.

“It doesn’t help that he’s going through puberty as well,” Lady Tsunade had explained to his parents. “He will be a lot more volatile. Until we can find a way to release Sasuke from the seal he will have to take measures to keep his anger in check.”

Sasuke grit his teeth, the curse seal stung as he got frustrated with the memory that even a sannin such as Lady Tsunade couldn’t remove the damn thing.

He rubbed at the spot and looked over at Sakura when he realized that the sound of her handling ingredients had stopped.

He opened his mouth to demand her reason for staring at him when she beat him to the punch.

“You need tea.”

Sasuke shut his mouth and he narrowed his eyes at her. She rummaged through her bag that was on the floor by her feet and pulled out a tin.

“I, uh, brought something for you.” Sakura opened the tin to reveal a bundle of satchels. “Lavender tea. It’s good for relaxation.”

Lavender. Another flower. But unlike a random stem the tea had a practical use. Sasuke nodded and a smile spread on Sakura’s face. It had seemed like forever since she had turned that smile his way.

Sasuke watched Sakura as she busied herself making his tea. She hummed pleasantly to herself as she moved around his kitchen. Just the sound of her happy noises and the smell of lavender was calming him down.

“Here you go,” Sakura chirped as she poured him a cup. Almost bashfully, she offered it to him. She averted her gaze but the apples of her cheeks were flushed with a pink that could rival her hair.

Pleased at the shy gesture, one he was sure Itachi never got, Sasuke took the tea from her.


Sakura’s eyes momentarily went wide but then her lips spread into a wide grin.

“You’re welcome!”

She went back to her task at hand, turning her back to him once again. Although she wasn’t looking at him her muscles were no longer tense and she carried on with her humming.

It was strange how easily she drifted between emotions, so easily expressing them as she felt them.

He did that quite often as of late but it wasn’t a good thing. It was something he had to reign in and refuse to let it consume him.

And maybe the warm and pleasant smelling tea made by someone always by his side could be a start.

Cup of Joe

Sighing to herself, Sakura dragged the potted potted yucca plants to the store front and arranged them to block out the window. Satisfied that she couldn’t see out into the street she dusted her hands on her apron and was about to turn back around when her best friend and coworker hissed at her from the back room.

“Put. The. Plants. Back. Where. They. Belong.”

“But Ino━”

“No one can look into the shop idiot!” Ino crossed her arms in front of her chest, careful not to drop the spool of ribbon she had been fetching for an arrangement. “And yucca need minimal light, you’re blasting them with it by putting them in the window!”

“It’s cloudy out━”

“Put. It. Back.”

Sakura arranged everything back to the way they were and the slumped onto the barstool behind the cash register. No one could see her unless they walked into the shop and moved around the potted plants carefully set up to make the shop look like a rainforest.

She drummed her fingers on the countertop and then rest her arms on it and lay her head on the glass. She wanted to go out and get her hot chocolate and pastry from the corner bakery but that would mean possibly running into someone she was avoiding.

And today wasn’t the day she would be brave enough to face him.

The temperature outside was dropping as it was slipping into late autumn, early winter. Sakura’s exhales came out like thin clouds and disappeared into the white sky.

Like cigarette smoke when it hits.

As soon as the thought entered her mind Sakura regretted it. Her chest throbbed with a dull ache


Sakura stuffed her face into her pea coat and kicked at a random pebble on the sidewalk. She didn’t have time to mope around. There was an exam to get to.

The corner bakery offered discounts on beverages to all the shops on the street, even the ones on the other side across 4 lanes of traffic.

It was always weird to see a tattoo parlor in the north east part of the city. All the shops were high end in the more expensive neighborhood.

Sakura and Ino had walked in for a a consultation and were shocked by how classy the parlor looked. It really blended in with all of the other stores and restaurants in the area despite the service that was provided. It was one of those instances where they shouldn’t have judged before visiting.

It still didn’t make it any less hilarious to see the artists and piercers lined up at the bakery in their cut up clothing and wild hair and arms marked up with beautiful masterpieces standing next to businessmen in their suits and Stepford Wives women with their expensive hair styles from the over priced salon next door.

Sakura eyed the tattoo parlor across the street and kept watch for anyone coming out of the shop. When it looked like the close was clear she called out to Ino and Mrs. Yamanaka that she was making a coffee run.

Ah. I fucked up.

The spiky hair of the person she was avoiding was easy to make out as she approached the corner the bakery stood at. He dropped the cigarette from his hand and squashed it under his foot before picking it up and tossing it into the closest trash bin.

He stuffed a hand into his hoodie pocket and yanked open the bakery door. Sakura was close enough to hear the tinkling of the bell attached to the door.

He was going to come out with a coffee in hand, the only thing he would ever buy for himself. That and the scones he would drop off at the florist.

Used to drop off at the florist.

After coming out of the bakery he would smell like fresh bread and coffee with a kick of mind and cigarette smoke.

The same smell of the sweater Sakura kept bundled up in a corner of her room. Although the scent on the fabric was fading and taking on the smell of her home.

“Just go talk to him.”

“It’s not that simple Ino.”

“You’re being stupid.” Ino popped her gum bubble and snipped another stalk of sunflowers to adjust the height for her current order. “I bet he would take you back if you just bought him a coffee.”

Sakura scoffed and slammed the fridge door closed, harder than she meant to. She cringed and examined the glass for any damage. Everything was fine and there were no cracks to ruin the display of arrangements inside.

She didn’t need Ino to point out how ridiculous she had been acting. The longer she avoided Sasuke the worse she felt and the dumber she felt she was.

No matter how much she avoided him, eventually she was going to run into him at the bakery. It was the center of the shifts and the place they had first met.

“I shouldn’t have said the things I said,” Sakura rushed out the words in lieu of a greeting. “Before I mean. It’s not your fault I have classes and tests and that we both work and━”

“How were exams?”

“What?” Sakura gaped up at him. Sasuke stood there, as composed as usual.

As composed as he always was except for when she yelled at him the week before her exam period.

“How were your exams? Aced everything?”

“Y-yeah, I did.”

“Knew you would.” Sasuke nodded his head in the direction of the bakery. “It’s cold. Buy me a coffee?”

“That’s it?” Sakura asked, baffled. “You’re making this too easy.”

Sasuke raised an eyebrow and shrugged his shoulders.

“So?” He asked, opening the door for her.

Sakura ran a hand down her face and shuffled inside.

No way was she telling Ino that she was right the entire time.


Sarada never paid  any mind to the guests. She would sigh and look a little annoyed if they were in her way but she would go about her day.

She ignored any cooing and the hands that reached out to her. She used to let them fawn over her but over the past few months she had withdrawn in herself.

Most days Sasuke struggled to get any words out of her. She communicated with him nonverbally and would only speak out when she was adamant about something.

“We’re supposed to go now.”

Sasuke looked around the house at all the dark haired guests. He doubted that they would mind if he left but it was only the first day.

“The festival, Papa,” Sarada insisted, frowning. When her eyebrows drew down a wrinkle would appear between them in the same manner it did on her mother, “We left out food. They’ll be fine.”

“Did we miss any of the lanterns?”

Sarada nodded and pointed to the empty  engawa. Sasuke scanned the veranda and not a single one was left. They had lit them all earlier and took them to the family plot right before their guests had arrived. Their home was packed but someone was still missing.

Sasuke was forced to look back down at his daughter who was tugging at the hem of his shirt.

She was giving him that look again. It was the one his wife insisted made her look even more like him but all he saw was Sakura’s features.

It was two days and not all of the guests had arrived yet.

Sasuke wondered if something was wrong. They had made sure everything went as smoothly as possible. Sarada had made sure they followed all of the traditions to a tee.

“Mama says we have to do it like this,” she scolded him whenever he deviated from them a little. Sarada had even slapped his hand once when he didn’t do the cleaning in the exact same method as his wife.

Sarada would frown at him and show him how Mama does everything. He had to hide the way the corners of his lips twitched upwards at her behavior.

It reminded him so much of another bossy girl.

Sasuke would have believed he was seeing things if it weren’t for how easy it was to spot her, how easy it had always been to spot her.

His daughter was chatting animatedly, a smile bright on her face at last.

“He always burns the rice a little,” Sasuke heard her complain. “But Papa makes decent miso as long as he isn’t trying anything with tomatoes.”

Sasuke hung back until Sarada scampered off to find something she needed to share.

“You’re late,” he teased, taking her seat on the engawa by their guest. “And I thought I was supposed the be the one that was directionally challenged.”

“I was just a little lost,” Sakura grumbled.

Sasuke slid his hand across the floorboards, resting his pinky on hers.

“At least you’re here now.”

The scent of senko incense clung to their clothing as they walked the path to the river, Sarada insisted that she would be the one to carry her mother’s lantern and Sasuke allowed it.

“You can carry it next year.”

But he wouldn’t mind if she forgot. He just needed to see the flickering flame dancing within the paper lantern.

“Have a safe trip,” Sarada whispered to the flame, gently placing the lantern down on the water.

Sarada stood by her father on the river bank and they watched all of their lanterns painted with their uchiwa float away into the night.

Sasuke kept his eyes on one in particular, tracking its path as it bobbed along with the lanterns that belonged to the rest of their family.

“We have to go watch the fireworks,” Sarada continued to boss him, her little face drawn into a frown once more. “It’s━”

“Mama’s favorite part,” he finished with her. “After the lanterns disappear. We still have time.”

“Okay.” She nodded, agreeing with him.

Sarada took his hand in hers, leaning slightly on his arm as they watched the drifting lights.

“After the lanterns disappear.”


She didn’t have the space in her time table for another course. In order to become a Healer she didn’t need to take Care of Magical Creatures.

But here she was offering milk to a bowtruckle during one of her free periods.

“You should be taking this time to do work for courses you’re enrolled in, Haruno.”

“I can’t leave Honeysuckle to you Professor,” Sakura teased. “He needs me.”

“You spoil him,” Professor Uchiha muttered, reaching for the bowtruckle. Honeysuckle raised its claws at him and whined before scampering to hide in Sakura’s long pink hair.

Sakura giggled, Honeysuckle’s leaf antennas tickling her neck.  At first she was insulted that the little thing had confused her with a tree but the bowtruckle was awfully sweet.

And it gave her an excuse to see Professor Uchiha more often.

When the headmistress, Tsunade Senju, announced that Sasuke Uchiha would be taking up the post of Care of Magical Creatures professor after the former professor retired it had caused quite the scandal.

Sasuke Uchiha had always had top marks and seemed to be on the path to becoming an auror but after graduation he had vanished only to be found months later taking care of dragons and then moving on to other projects.

It was disappointing to the general populace of Hogwarts━both the students and faculty alike━that such a promising student had returned to his alma mater to teach an elective course. They were completely blindsided.

All except for one seventh year student.

Sakura remembered Sasuke Uchiha as more than just the top mark Head Boy.

She had met him when she was just a first year, trying to send an owl to her muggle parents about how she was sorted into Ravenclaw and how the first week had gone.

There was a fifth year Slytherin student tending to an owl with a damaged wing. She had stammered her reasoning for being there and he had just pressed a single finger to his lips asking for silence. He gestured to the injured bird and shushed her.

Silently as she could, avoiding the owl droppings that littered the floor, Sakura made her way over to him and the owl.

“Will it be okay?” She whispered.

“She’ll be fine,” he assured her with a soft a voice. “She likes the top of her head to be stroked.”

Taking the suggestion, Sakura carefully stroked the owl with her index finger. The owl cooed and shut her eyes.

“Your owl?”

“School owl.”

Sakura’s brows furrowed. Why would he go out of his way to care for an owl that wasn’t his own?

Sakura saw Sasuke Uchiha often after that.

He was always with three friends, two fellow Slytherins and one extremely tall Hufflepuff rumored to be half giant. His two Slytherin friends were loud and drew attention with their noise but it was the quiet Sasuke that everyone sought out.

A couple of younger students had tried to give him sweets from home and he turned them down.

“He hates candy,” his redheaded friend had whispered in passing. She had caught her eye when Sakura peered over one of her school books.

Sakura’s face flushed, embarrassed to have been caught staring.

“What are you doing messing with a first year, Karin?” The white haired boy asked.

“I’m not messing with her!” She snapped at him, face turning almost as red as her hair. “I just thought she was kind of cute. Lay off Suigetsu!”

Sasuke had turned his head to see what they were causing a commotion over. He stared at Sakura impassively and Sakura swallowed, not sure what to make of his staring.

A small pink ball of fluff poked out from his collar and he patted it back down. Sakura’s jaw dropped at the random appearance of a pygmy puff.

Sasuke just lifted his finger to his lips and gestured for her to stay silent on the matter.

“Still chasing after Uchiha?”

Sakura blinked in confusion at her best friend Ino. She had been minding her own business, studying in the common room when the blonde girl flounced over to her.

“He’s a professor, Ino!” Sakura hissed, looking around the common room. No one seemed to pay any mind, already used to the way the Head Girl and her best friend behaved when they were together.

“Doesn’t change the fact that he’s Sasuke Uchiha and you’re Sakura Haruno the girl that has had a crush on him since she was eleven.”

Ino collapsed sideways so that she was sitting on Sakura’s lap with her legs thrown over one of the arms of the plush armchair Sakura was sitting in to get her reading done.

“And him coming back hasn’t helped a single bit.”

“He’s a professor,” Sakura reminded her, making sure her voice didn’t waver. “And I’m a student. That’s all.”

Sakura bowed low, waiting for a response. The tawny hippogriff before her bowed back and she ran up and stroked it’s face near its beak.

“Hello Garuda,” she chirped. Garuda nuzzled her face the way she often saw him nuzzle Professor Uchiha’s hand.

Garuda was Professor Uchiha’s hippogriff, one that he had found injured in the wild and nursed back to health. Garuda had grown attached to him and refused to be left behind on the reserve Professor Uchiha had been working at.

“Are you going to spoil him too?”

Professor Uchiha stood in muggle clothing and a pair of galoshes at the other end of the paddock.

“Sometimes a little spoiling is needed,” Sakura grinned at him mischievously, “just to show how much you care.”

Professor Uchiha went quiet for a moment. Sakura’s grin slid from her face and she distracted herself with brushing Garuda’s fur.

Sakura reached for an apple to offer the hippogriff when a larger hand, slightly tanner than hers, wrapped it’s fingers around her wrist.

“Is that your way of asking to be spoiled?”

He was close enough for her to smell the scent of mint come off of his clothes and the smell of woodsmoke.

“I would never ask that of you,” Sakura swallowed, “Professor.”

Professor Uchiha dropped his hold of her wrist and took the apple from her hand.

“You should head back to the castle. It’s almost dinner time.”

“Yes, sir.”

Sakura marched back to the castle, only stopping once to look back when she reached the top of the hill. Stopping once to sneak another glance at him.

She hadn’t expected to catch Professor Uchiha staring in her direction.

He was too old for her. She knew that much.

Sakura scrunched up her nose and pulled out another book from the shelf. She wasn’t going to entertain any fantasies of a seventh year being interested in a third year but she had still wanted to give him something for Valentine’s Day. Which was why there was a barn owl with a brown paper package just for him━from her━at the Slytherin table at breakfast.

Her feelings didn’t need to reciprocated but it still hurt to know that he was on the trip to Hogsmeade on this holiday.

It only made her feel a little bit better that it was thundering and raining buckets. But it also made her feel guilty for wishing poor weather on celebrating couples.

She checked out her books and told herself that she didn’t need a date, that what she needed to focus on was her studies.

Sakura was on her way back to the Ravenclaw common room when someone called out to her.


It was rude and not even her name but it still made her heart race.

Sasuke was soaked to the bone, his usual feathery and disheveled hair laying flat from all of the rain. From under his cloak he pulled out a package from Honeydukes and handed it to her.

“Iced Mice?” Sakura’s brows pulled down in confusion. Then it dawned on her. “For the tomatoes?”

Sasuke’s lips twitched up at the corners. He just pressed his index finger to his lips and then turned and headed toward the dungeons.

“You have been avoiding me.”

Sakura never expected Professor Uchiha to be the confrontational type. She had expected that he would just forget about her if she stopped coming around to the paddock and creature shelter.

“Did you need something, Professor?”

She tried so hard to strengthen her resolve. Tried so hard to look at the smokey gray of his eyes and not feel the ache in her chest.

“Just came to do some spoiling,” he answered, in that same soft voice that she loved so much.

He handed her a book on herbalism, one having only been printed in its original Mandarin, the native tongue of Sakura’s family.

“I was supposed to give it to you on your birthday but you never came around.”

Seventeen. The age she was trying so hard to forget. The age that made her officially an adult.

The age that gave her hope.

“This must have been hard to find. I can’t accept━”

There was only the sound of cooing owls in the tower as Sasuke pressed his lips to hers in a chaste kiss. Sakura barely had time to respond before he was pulling away, pressing a finger to his lips and asking for silence.

“You’re bleeding!”

It was just a scratch, one that Sasuke could easily patch up with a spell. He deserved the scratch for not respecting the bowtruckle’s boundaries and holding it too tight.

“Here we go,” the first year Ravenclaw chirped as she patched up his hand with a muggle contraption. “I’m kind of clumsy so I always carry around bandages. Better, huh?”

He knew she was muggleborn which was odd considering her coloring. He would have assumed she was a metamorphmagus with a fondness for the color pink. Did muggles give birth to metamorphmagus witches?

“Thank you,” he muttered finding it hard to explain how unnecessary the bandage was when she looked at him expectantly with vivid jade eyes.

“Um, I was wondering,” Sakura Haruno averted her gaze, wringing the front of her school robes with her hands, “do you mind pulling out that book for me? It’s kind of high up and I’m, well, short.”

Sasuke snorted and she pouted at him. Short was putting it mildly. The first years were always small but she seemed shorter than average.

He pulled down the book she was pointing at and held it above her head out of arm’s reach.


He shushed her with a finger to his lips.

“Quiet in the library,” he scolded her, pointing to his prefect’s badge.

Sakura clammed up but continued to glare at him. Done having his fun he handed her the heavy book she needed. Almost instantly the glare wiped away from her face and replaced with a wide smile.

“Thank you!” She chirped before skipping away.

What an interesting kid…

With a soft smile on his face he shook his head and looked for the book on creatures of the forests he was supposed to be looking for. His gaze dropped to the bandage on his hand and he chuckled to himself.

What a very interesting kid.

Brace Me Honey I Need Friction

Rainy days always made her chest feel heavy.

A sense of nostalgia would wash over her and she would ache for something she couldn’t recognize.

Drumming her fingers across her protruding stomach, Sakura hummed softly as she watched the rain fall and pitter-patter against the docks of the river village she and Sasuke were currently residing in.

The hut they made their home for the past couple of weeks was on the outskirts of the cluster of huts that were erected directly on top of the river. The fishing community traveled by small boats and the interconnected docks that made up their village.

Sasuke had said the rain would cease to fall in a couple more days and with it would come the fireflies the village was known for. It would be another beautiful sight she would want to bring her child back to see.

Her husband was so soft with her, taking her places he had visited and showing her a world untouched by shinobi.

Days with Sasuke was like the rain falling down on the river village. Gentle and soothing but with a constant ache. As if their time alone wasn’t enough.

They were putting off returning to Konoha now that she was pregnant. The gentle slope of her stomach was a constant reminder that their traveling should be over but there was still so much to see.

So much to see from the eyes of her dear husband.

The intention was never to get pregnant so soon but sometimes life gets in the way of itself when it is occurring.

And loving her husband and being loved back didn’t leave room for thinking of plans.

“It’s too cold for that,” Sasuke murmured in her ear, shutting the window Sakura was looking out of.

His hand slid from her hip and around her waist to the rest on the lower part of her stomach. Sakura couldn’t help but smile at the gentle touch, almost reverent, he had when it came to the stomach that cradled the new life they created.

“It’s a good thing I have a husband to keep me warm then,” she whispered back, turning in his hold so that she could peer up at him through her thick, pale lashes.

Intentionally flirting with Sasuke was something that still made the back of her neck heat up. It was one thing to fall into it in normal conversation. It was another thing to do so with a goal in mind.

Especially when he was overly aware of her goal and was amused by her constant attempts to reach it now that hormones ruled her body.

“Hmm. Could he now?”

Sakura narrowed her eyes at the way the corner of his lips turned up into a crooked grin.

“Yes. He could.”

Standing on her toes, Sakura pressed a kiss to his chin urging him to tilt his head down to meet her. Sasuke was so tall to the point of frustration at times. He had grown so much and she so little as they reached the end of their teen years.

“How would you like to be?”

“Always so blunt, Anata” Sakura sighed out in exasperation.

Her belly was obvious but not obtrusive in her opinion, and yet Sasuke still treated her with a gentleness that she found━using his favorite word━annoying. Obstetrics wasn’t her specialty but she knew enough and read up enough when they lounged around on lazy days to know that he was being ridiculous.

He was going to be a helicopter parent, she just knew it.

“Sit down,” Sakura muttered, not looking at him directly but at the armchair she liked to sit in when she patched up their clothing or read.

“Sitting?” Sasuke raised and eyebrow, amusement gleaming in his eyes. He did as she was told and looked up expectantly. “Another one of Yamanaka’s suggestions I assume?”

“Maybe,” she mumbled, cheeks flushing hot pink. Lifting her dress so it bunched up around her waist, she straddled him. She slid her hands up his chest until she cupped his neck and rubbed her thumbs along his jawline.

Sakura let out a squeak that turned into a fit of giggles when Sasuke gripped her hip and pulled her flush against him. She pressed a sweet chaste kiss on his lips and then rest her forehead on his.

“There’s definitely something between us,” she joked, shifting her eyes down to her stomach and back to her husband’s. He laughed through his nose and rolled his eyes. Sometimes there were parts of his father-in-law that came out in her.

“There should be less between us,” he spoke into her neck as he pressed open mouthed kisses, trailing his tongue up slowly on the line of her throat to press more kisses to her jawline.

Sakura shivered in his lap but hummed contently as he stroked her back under her dress. It had been aching as well but she settled for just easing the ache between her thighs as it had been bothering her more that day.

Sasuke unbuttoned the ties of her qipao top dress and let it flap open to reveal more smooth skin.

“Careful!” Sakura hissed when Sasuke palmed a breast. He pinched a nipple, earning another hiss but moved his hand before Sakura could slap it away.

“They’re getting bigger,” he murmured as he kissed softly on the tops of her breasts, away from the over sensitive areolas.

“Yeah,” Sakura sighed as he massaged the flesh on the underside. “They do that. Oh! That actually feels nice.”

Sasuke gently rolled one nipple between his lips. He didn’t do it long because he wanted to get farther than they were. Overstimulating Sakura tended to end things much quicker than he would like nowadays.

Just kissing was all she really needed now that she was pregnant. She was almost always hot and wet without him needing to do much. His mouth had gone dry despite the confusion at how desperate she had been the first time she had initiated sex after becoming pregnant.

Desperate like it was a need, not just a want for his touch.

Sakura brought her hips to a slow grind as Sasuke rolled his tongue against hers. She hummed her approval of his slow kisses. She loved when he was soft and attentive. She felt so loved and cared for in the safe cradle of his hold.

It made her glow with happiness that he could enjoy this new life and be a man free of any burdens.

For the small love forming and shaping in her womb every day wasn’t a burden, but a happy promise. It was something to look forward to.

A dream to make reality. Not a goal to accomplish.

“Impatient are we?”

Sasuke smirked at the way Sakura fumbled at the ties of his pants. Her hurried movements were creating a stronger knot and she groaned in frustration as she pressed a hard kiss to his mouth.

“Let me help you.”

Sasuke brushed her hand away and deftly removed the knot. He had one hand fewer than she did but was a lot more experienced with his own clothing and it would be better for him to take care of it before his needy little wife decided ripping them off of his body was the best course of action.

As soon as he loosened his pants, Sakura dove her hands inside them and stroked his hardening cock, leaving him panting in the crook of her neck.

“Want inside of me?” Sakura teased, pressing kisses to the side of his head.

“Not as much as you want me to be,” he moaned out onto her flesh and bit at the junction between her neck and shoulder. “This is…just fine.”

“Don’t be a prick while I’m holding yours Sasuke-kun.”

She narrowed her eyes at him and slowed down the pace of her stroking. Sasuke shot her a glare and used a single finger to stroke the wet patch on Sakura’s underwear.

“Okay, I won’t tease,” she hissed as he pressed his finger harder against the patch, digging through the cloth to her clit.

“Come on.”

Sasuke tugged at her panties until Sakura stood up and removed them herself. She bunched up her dress at her waist again and straddled his lap again. Sasuke held up his cock so she could slowly sink down, adjusting to his size at her own pace.

She clutched his shoulders and rode up and down at her desired pace, slowing down when she so wished and speeding up when she wanted it faster.

Sasuke watched her come undone, gripping her hip to support her better but letting her do as she pleased. It was always a sight to watch her above him taking in her own pleasure.

“I━” Sakura sobbed. “I need━”

“What do you need Sakura?”

Her face scrunched up as she struggled to reach that release she had been wanting for the better part of the day.

“Please touch me!”

And who was he to deny her? Sasuke reached in between them and played with the little nub he had grown fond of stroking. He rubbed little circles, not too hard, because even that could end up being too much for Sakura in her current state.

Sakura reached her climax with a high pitched cry trapped in the back of her throat. She slumped forward a bit, using Sasuke for support. Her hips continued to move in lazy circles but her high had left her exhausted.

Sasuke moved his hand back to her hip and thrusted underneath her. Slow, hard thrusts that had her crying out in a staccato beat. Once she was looking back at him he quickened his pace and she bounced on his lap once more from the force.

Sakura clenched around him and when she felt him twitching she pulled him in for a fierce kiss. Sasuke held her down, pulling her closer to his body so he could be buried deep when he hit his own release. He grinded out the end of it and pressed kisses down Sakura’s clavicle.

“You’re a mess,” Sakura giggled, ruffling his disheveled hair. “We’re going to have to do laundry again.”

“And maybe replace this armchair.”

“Think we can send it back home? I quite like it.”

Sasuke chuckled softly, resting his forehead on her shoulder.

He would have to think about that but he too was growing fond of the chair.


Years of traveling light and using summoning tattoos had left Sasuke a minimalist. When he had first acquired an apartment when he returned to Konoha, his home was empty except for the bare essentials.

That was, until Sakura got involved in the arrangement of his home.

When they were simply spending time together, Sakura would bring something along to add more life to his apartment. Something to make it more “lived in” as she put it.

A wall clock in the shape of a cat on the wall by the fridge.

Wind chimes that hung on the veranda.

Succulents from Yamanaka Hana, imported from Suna.

Throw pillows and an afghan, handmade by Sakura and her mother, for the well worn couch that found its way from Kakashi’s old apartment.

And slowly, she put her touch on the more intimate parts of his home. Her little things made their way into his bedroom.

A reed diffuser for the calming essential oils she used for aromatherapy.

A wall tapestry with a painting of mountains, a gift from Sai.

Blackout curtains, so that he wouldn’t be disturbed by the bright Konoha sunshine that shone from the inconvenient east facing bedroom window.

These were all things that weren’t necessary to live but they were things that made his life better. Each little piece made his apartment a home not just shelter.

But Sakura was slowly crossing the line.

Sasuke lifted up the metal tube contraption and and spun the handle at the top. There was a slight disturbance in the flow of the spin.

A grinder.

Sasuke set the grinder back down on the countertop, not quite sure what to make of it.


“Hm?” Sakura hummed, walking into the kitchen with dish rags fresh from the wash.

“Why do we have this?”

“For coffee.”

“Sakura. We don’t drink coffee.”

Although the couple had opposing preferences in taste—she liking sweet foods and he liking spicy—they both agreed that they didn’t like the taste of coffee.

Their hot drink of choice was tea although they differed in that as well. Sasuke preferred matcha and Sakura liked something foreign, elderflower.

The herb was entirely Sakura in his opinion. It had health benefits but the plant the flower came from was also toxic.

Leave it to a master of poison to use a toxic plant in a domestic setting.

“Yes, but you never know when we may have a guest that does.”

And it continued on like that.

There were hand towels with his clan insignia in the bathroom and he wasn’t allowed to use those because they were there just in case they had guests.

There were cat shaped salt and pepper shakers to match the wall clock.

There was a table runner, only to be taken out when they invited guests to dinner.

And a tea set from her parents they weren’t allowed to use unless there were guests over.

“It’s getting crowded.”

Sakura looked up from her files, spread out all around her in the living room. She brought more work home now that they were married so that they could have more time together.

“I guess I could stack these better.” Sakura shuffled her files so that they were in more compact and orderly piles.

“That’s not what I meant,” Sasuke sighed.

He tilted his head in the direction of the television set and the numerous knick knacks on the matching shelves. It was a real feat placing all of the miscellaneous knick knacks considering the amount of books they kept in their apartment.

The items they owned surpassed superfluous in his opinion. At this point they were borderline hoarders.

“Do we really need all of this stuff?”

Sakura looked up from her papers and her eyes softened at the lost look on her husband’s face. His brows were drawn down and he bit his lower lip.

She loved this cute side of him that pouted but she also preferred when he was relaxed and comfortable.

“I don’t know.”

Sakura cocked her head to the side and smiled slyly at him. She traced the pads of her fingertips along his inner wrist and tugged on the hem of his shirt. She led him to their comfortable worn out couch and pushed him gently so that he would know to sit back.

She climbed onto his lap, straddling him and pulled their afghan over their heads.

“I kind of like all of this stuff. Makes this place feel like home.”


Everything was cozy, he couldn’t argue with that. But Sasuke learned a long time ago that things were not home. People were home.

And home was in his lap, soft and pliant under his hands.

Sakura was still at work at the Children’s Hospital when there was a knock on their apartment door.

If it was a guest for him, there would have been no knocking. His guest was the barging in where he was unwelcome type and Yamanaka Ino had her own key due to being the closest that Sakura had to an older sister. The woman always checked to make sure Sakura was eating all of her meals and sleeping whenever Sasuke was away.

There was a steady stream of chakra, tightly compact and coiling in a very controlled manner just outside his door. There was a similarity in the way it moved to that of Sakura’s but still entirely different.

Before Haruno Mebuki could knock on the door again he opened the door wide and greeted his mother-in-law.

Sasuke was grateful that she was only carrying a small cake box and not another trinket for the apartment. He and Sakura had plans to build their own house but at that moment their small apartment was all that they had and he was starting to feel overwhelmed by how crowded the space felt.

“I know Sakura is at work but I was going to be in the neighborhood anyway.” Mebuki slid off her sandals at the entrance and slid into the spare slippers Sakura had purchased the other week. “Thought I would bring you a treat while you were just going through some scrolls.”

Mebuki continued on further into the apartment as if the place was her own home and considering all of the trinkets and knick knacks and other homey items had come from her and Kizashi, it only made sense that she felt at ease strolling in and making use of his kitchen to serve up her homemade cake━the only cake Sasuke could stomach.

“Oh!” Mebuki spotted the coffee grinder, placed aesthetically on the kitchen island. “It’s about time Sakura got one for herself. Let’s see…”

She rummaged through the cabinets and found the bag of coffee beans and pour over coffee maker. She huffed and looked for the tea bags that kept stocked for guests and pulled out the kettle. She set everything on the counter and beamed up at him.

“Want to learn how to make yuanyang?”

Sakura came home late in the evening carrying a stack of documents. She would have done better to take a nap but it was obvious that she wasn’t going to rest until at least half of her work was done.

“I should make some tea…” she mumbled, shuffling to the kitchen. She stood on her toes and pressed her lips against Sasuke’s cheek as he packaged leftovers from the lunch he had with Mebuki.

“Let me make something for you.”

Sasuke made drip coffee in the pour over maker and set the kettle on the stove to make milk tea with Pu Lei. It was Mebuki’s favorite dark tea which she informed him of during lunch.

He mixed the tea and the coffee together in Sakura’s favorite mug and served it to her at their coffee table.

She hummed gratefully and sighed into the steam from the mixture.

“Like home in a cup,” she murmured and Sasuke smiled softly.

“Like home in a cup.” Mebuki had sighed and gave him a cheeky grin. “I made this for Sakura every night she stayed up to study. I made it every night for my husband when we would watch the fireflies. My mother made it every winter night for me and my father.”

“It’s crowded,” Sasuke said as he leaned against the couch by her legs. “But the coffee grinder can stay.”

“Oh, can it now?” Sakura giggled lightly.

“Aa,” Sasuke replied softly. “The grinder can stay.”

It could stay and could take up space because even though the grinder didn’t make the home, it made home a little happy.

Don’t Talk, Just Ride

Four floors to each garden apartment and three apartments on each floor.

And not a single one had a washer and dryer unit of their own.

This annoyed Sasuke to no end but with utilities included and a laundromat around the corner that provided a laundry drop off service at a reasonable price, he would never have to visit the laundry center in the basement of the apartment.

At least that was usually the case.

Sasuke hated going down to the laundry center. He had a difficult enough time dealing with roommates he wasn’t sure how to handle run ins with strangers in a secluded area.

The apartment he shared was a drive from their school but it was cheaper and in a quieter neighborhood than the apartments on campus. Mostly families lived in the garden apartment units which was perfect considering both his father and Kiba’s mother made it a point that they were going to school to get an education not to party.

Shino didn’t have that same issue with his parents but he was Shino and no one expected him to be the one always missing at some random girl’s apartment every other weekend or so.

Unfortunately for Sasuke he was behind on a lot of his housework because of work and school. Really behind.

He was down to his last pair of gray sweatpants and an old hoodie. He had clean socks left but unfortunately no more boxer briefs. He knew his mother would be scandalized by the state of his laundry hamper.

Sasuke couldn’t wait for his clothes to be taken to the laundry service. He had to wash at least one load of laundry so that he would have clothes to wear while his laundry was being taken care of.

Because of the fact that it was mostly families in the apartment, Sasuke was sure that doing a load of laundry in the middle of the night would assure he would be completely alone.

At least that’s what he thought.

Walking down the hall to the laundry center it wasn’t until he reached the door that he could hear a dryer running and smell fabric softener in the air.

At one in the morning?

He ignored the fact that he was also attempting to do his laundry at one in the morning and grumbled inwardly. He considered that whoever was inside was probably trying to avoid running into their neighbors as well and wouldn’t bother with small talk.

Propping his basket on his hip, Sasuke pushed open the door to the laundry center with the intention to avoid eye contact and just stare ahead at the washing machines.

Entering the room he almost dropped his basket and let the dirty laundry and box of detergent tumblr to the floor.

The machines weren’t that tall but for someone as petite as his neighbor they still were an issue. He couldn’t keep his eyes off of her bottom clad in a pair of simple cotton shorts as she leaned into the machine to try and snatch the last remaining articles of clothes from the bottom.

She hopped away from the machine and Sasuke was sure that any jiggling that was going on was just over exaggerated in his mind ever since he had zeroed in on her bottom.

Sasuke stood in the doorway feeling slightly awkward. He wasn’t sure what he expected his neighbor to look like but she definitely wasn’t what he pictured.

Turning to face him, she awkwardly pressed her wet clothes to her chest and gaped at him.

“The machines are free,” she muttered and shuffled over to the dryers and tossed her last bits of clothes in before shutting the door.

Sasuke snapped into action and hastily loaded his laundry and detergent into the wash and slid his laundry card into the machine to turn it on.

The original plan was to stay in the laundry center until his clothes were done. Sasuke didn’t feel like trekking up and down the stairs to his apartment in the third floor so he was going to stay put and play around with his phone like he had planned and hopefully his neighbor would leave and wouldn’t come back until her clothes were done drying.

He tried not to think about how the only things he was wearing was the gray sweats and the old police academy hoodie he stole from his brother-in-law Shisui.

Sakura wanted to crawl into the dryer and hide until her neighbor decided to leave. She was sure she could fit inside comfortably.

She settled for sitting on top of the dryer and hiding behind her assigned reading and ignoring the heaviness of her breasts as she was now hyper aware of them and her lack of a bra now that a man was in the same room as her.

And he wasn’t just any man. He just had to be the same neighbor she had been harboring a crush for ever since she saw him and his roommates unloading their moving truck from the safety of her balcony.

Her eyes were always drawn to him when she saw him at the 24/7 gym attached to the leasing office and swimming pool. Her heart always skipped a beat when she saw him heading to the apartment after parking his car.

And he doesn’t even know I exist.

Sakura’s nose wrinkled as her face pinched up in self loathing. Here she was, embarrassed that she was practically tits out with her attractive neighbor in a secluded area, and still bemoaning the fact that he wouldn’t even look her way.

Peering over the top of her book, Sakura snuck a glance at him and then shoved her nose back into her book.

Holy shit!

She didn’t mean to look at it. She really didn’t. Her eyes just happened to land on an unfortunate location when she let them drift over the pages of her book.

She couldn’t stop what her roomie Karin had said that earned a smack on the arm from her girlfriend.

“Girls have sundresses and yoga pants and guys have gray sweatpants. Everything is out there for you to see.”

Well everything really was all out there for her to see and she had no idea what she was supposed to do about that.

“There’s a lot you can do with that,” a voice that sounded suspiciously like Karin wheedled into her mind.

With her face heating up, she slid her assigned reading up to block her face and whatever view she had of her neighbor.

Not like he can tell what’s up with me. He’s just messing with his phone.

He knew that ass.

It belonged to the jogger that shared the gym space with him in the early hours of the morning or late at night. Her hair was the familiar shade of pale pink that trailed behind her, swinging as she ran with her back to him from his seat at the horizontal chest press machine.

It had become a familiar sight on Monday and Wednesday mornings and then on Tuesday and Thursday nights.

A familiar enough sight to recognize a set of missing lines that stretched across her bottom against the material of her shorts.

But her underwear or lack of underwear wasn’t his business.

Sasuke shifted his body and then changed his mind from leaning against the washer and decided that sitting on top of it would be more comfortable. The movement made him uncomfortably aware that his dick was brushing the soft inner lining of his sweatpants directly but there was no way he was going to stand the entire time.

Peeking from his peripheral, he saw his neighbor fidget from her seat on  top of one of the dryers. She was reading a book he had to read in a lit course in a previous semester.

It was the first time he actually got a decent look at her face and she had a face to match her tight body that had him looking back down at his game on his phone. He was busy trying to kill off humanity with a disease he created in the game but he kept losing focus whenever there was a slight creak of metal and his neighbor was shifting in her seat.

She had crossed her legs this time and his eyes were drawn to the artificial light reflecting off of her smooth shin. He followed the shine past her knees and up to her thighs. Soft thighs. His eyes traced the hem of her shorts before they snapped back to his cell phone.

The washer completed it’s cycle before the dryers were finished which left Sasuke awkwardly waiting around until his neighbor was done using them.

It really made no sense for the dryers to have to run fifteen minutes longer than the washers.

Sasuke fidgeted on his perch, aware of a set of eyes on him. Occasionally it would feel like he was being watched and his neighbor would look back at her book before his eyes could actually meet hers.

Out of all of the buildings that made up the cluster of garden apartments he would have never thought that the jogger would live in the same apartment building he did.

What a funny coincidence…

He sighed inwardly and went back to his phone. Sasuke had no idea how Shino did it. His roommate barely spoke to him or Kiba, how did he talk to girls let alone get them to bring him home?

Forty-five minutes alone in the room and the two of them hadn’t said a single word to each other after she had told him that the machines were free.

His neighbor uncrossed her legs, drawing his attention back to her creamy skin. It was obvious that she was uncomfortable with the fact that he was there. She had come down barely clothed in tiny shorts and a camisole and had probably expected to be alone.

Soon enough the dryer buzzed and she hopped off of the dryer. Sasuke tried to keep his head down to avoid staring at anymore bouncing parts of her anatomy would do. It didn’t help that she had bend down to unload the dryer which left him free to look at her backside.

Sasuke kept his eyes on his phone, attempting to be as respectful as possible.

“Machines are free.”

Looking up from his phone, Sasuke saw his neighbor standing with her basket at her hip. She avoided eye contact with him before awkwardly waving goodbye and exiting the laundry center as quickly as possible.

Well that couldn’t have been weirder.

He was wrong, of course.

For some reason after that meeting he saw his neighbor more often.

He would be out on his balcony taking a drag when she would be climbing out of her car or walking up from the path everyone cut through the thin line of trees to the convenience store.

He couldn’t see her that clearly sometimes, especially at night but she was so expressive even when it came to how she held herself.

On Wednesday afternoons she would be dragging her feet, too tired almost to make it up the steps to make it inside of their building. Her overloaded backpack would be slung over one of her shoulders and he could hear her groan from where he stood, hanging over the railing so no ash would fall on Shiro or Akamaru’s outdoor water bowl or the bee watering station that Shino had set up.

It was even more awkward when he attempted to go jogging with Shiro. He would end up carrying his Shiba Inu back to the apartment and on the way his neighbor would be out jogging in one of her usual small outfits.

She worked out a lot.

Sasuke would have just walked on by without acknowledging her presence if Shiro hadn’t decided to yelp excitedly as she approached.

“Cut it out,” Sasuke scolded his dog.

“So cute!”

Sasuke froze as his neighbor slowed down to a stop and proceeded to pet his dog. It had been two weeks since they had been this close to each other and it was only thanks to his attention slut son that it was even happening.

“What’s his name?”


“Cute. See you around Shiro and…?”

His neighbor’s eyes drifted to his face and she looked up at him expectantly.


She beamed and scratched Shiro behind his ear one last time.

“Sakura,” she replied before slipping her earbuds back on and taking off down the sidewalk again.

He gave Shiro an extra treat when they got back to the apartment.

The next time she saw Sasuke was at the gym.

He was a constant presence on the machines and she usually didn’t see him until after she finished her run. There was a routine that never broke.

Until today.

He was at her treadmill. Her treadmill. Sure there were two other treadmills she could use but that was her treadmill. She used it every Monday and Wednesday morning and then every Tuesday and Thursday night.

Her neighbor━Sasuke━probably didn’t realize that she used the gym at the same hours he did. She was the first one in the gym and he came after she did but until the moment where she saw him with his dog—not even the laundry room run in━she was sure he never truly noticed her.

The treadmills faced away from the entrance of the gym so her eyes landed on his back. His shoulder blades stretched the fabric of his muscle tank as he pumped his arms. Sakura’s eyes trailed downward and watched the way the tight muscles of his body flexed with every movement he made.

Oh sweet lord…

Sakura shook her head and moved her bag and bottle of water to the cubbies available for storage. It was just a normal day━night. A normal night where she would get her run in and then go home for a hot shower before she hit the books.

But she was panting and he was panting as they ran in tandem. The sound of their breaths puffing in sync clouded her mind.

It was easy enough to slip into a daydream of a different situation that would leave them panting.

Sasuke was tall and strong. His muscular arms from the edge of her peripheral were a reminder of that. He could probably lift her and press her against the cubbies without breaking a sweat.

Heat was pooling in her lower stomach and downward as she thought about how they were always alone in the gym no matter what time they both came in. If only the management hadn’t set up security cameras then they could…

There was a loud click when the door unlocked as another resident used their key card to gain access to the 24/7 gym.

Slamming down on the cool down button, Sakura braced herself against the handlebars of the treadmill. She barely slowed down when she hopped off the machine and grabbed her things.

That shower was going to have to be cold.

Sasuke rolled his eyes when the next group of soccer moms walked past him giggling and whispering to themselves.

It wasn’t as if men couldn’t take yoga classes.

Kiba had convinced him and Shino to take the yoga class provided by the apartment management in his attempt to hook up with the brunette one building over that was always covered in cat hair.

It took him taking care of all the kitchen and bathroom cleaning duties for the next month but he still managed to rope the two of them into attending yoga.

“He ditched us,” Sasuke said flatly as they watched Kiba lay his complimentary yoga mat right next to a willowy brunette near the front of the room.

“I expected him to.”

Shino yanked the hood of his cotton t-shirt so it was secure over his head and smoothed out the lines of his harem pants as he kneeled on his mat.

“You just wanted to take the class didn’t you?”

“Acting as if I didn’t got me out of toilet cleaning duties.”


Sasuke looked at the door and back at Kiba. It wasn’t as if Sasuke needed the class. His sister-in-law was a yoga instructor and he had been forced into lessons alongside his older brother and brother-in-law for most of his teen life.

“This is a good spot.”

Sasuke looked away from Kiba’s awkward attempts at flirting and noticed a bossy looking redhead setting down three sets of mats in front of his and Shino’s mats.

“Karin, you should probably ask if they’re reserving the spot in front of them first.”

A brunette with her hair secured in twin buns eyed Sasuke and Shino apologetically. Though it didn’t stop her from sitting down on her mat in front of Shino and patting the mat in front of Sasuke.

“Karin does what she wants,” a familiar voice grumbled.

“Don’t I know it.”

Sasuke’s breathing halted as Sakura kneeled on the mat in front of him and waved back at him politely. She turned to face the front, her racer-back tank top cut in a way that allowed her shoulder blades to be shown to advantage. His eyes followed the curve of her back down to her pert bottom that was sitting on her small feet.

A cough turned his attention to the redhead that was still looking in his direction. She mouthed the word “pervert” at him with a smirk before she turned to face the front, latching herself to the arm of the brunette she came in with.

Sasuke kept from scoffing out loud but movement from the figure in front of him caught his eye again.

Sakura stretched her arms above her head, straightening her back in the process. Sasuke’s eyes trailed over the contours of her lean muscles and then settled on her nape, where strands of pink hair fell against her creamy skin from the bun on top of her head.

This is going to be a really long hour…

“You wouldn’t quit staring,” Shino accused him as they walked down the hill from the leasing office to their garden apartment.

Sasuke refused to respond to him. The hour for the class had ticked by slowly and his focus kept drifting to the petite woman in front of him instead of the instructor up front. Kiba had secured a real date with the cat hair neighbor and he just suffered another day of not actually having a conversation with Sakura.

“Are you going to actually talk to her some day or are you hoping that your awkward body language is enough to communicate whatever it is that you want from her?”

Sasuke preferred it much better when Shino didn’t try to have conversations.

Sakura had had enough.

She scooped up her laundry basket and grabbed the detergent and fabric softener from the storage closet.

If Karin and Tenten were going to be fucking so loudly that she couldn’t sleep she was going to do something productive with her time.

Sakura had made it a bad habit to only get to her laundry by the time she had almost no clean clothing left in her closet. She ended up living mostly off of her gym attire when she was lounging at home or needed to run an errand because of it.

School and work took a lot out of her and if she didn’t workout to destress she could probably get more chores done but working out helped her relax so she could sleep.

It also kept her out of the apartment when Karin and Tenten were being just a little inconsiderate with their volume.

Walking down the corridor, Sakura could hear the machines running. She already made her way down from the fourth floor and she wasn’t going to turn back. She would just see if a machine was free or wait until her neighbor was done.

At least she had her phone to pass the time.

Opening the door Sakura would have bolted if Sasuke wasn’t already looking at her due to the creaking of the door. Of course he would be the one doing his laundry at this time of the night. He was the only one of their neighbors she had ever run into in the middle of the night trying to do his laundry as well.

“I just unloaded the machines a moment ago. I’m almost done.”

His voice was just loud enough to hear over the noise of the dryer. It looked like he had finished up washing all of his laundry but was waiting for loads to dry as he folded the ones that just finished.

Sakura dumped her laundry and the pods for detergent and fabric softener into the washers. She inserted her card and tried to relax her body. She didn’t want Sasuke to know that she was jittery in his presence.

She wanted him to think she was someone he could talk to.

And maybe…do much more afterward. At least have the potential for much more.

Setting her phone aside on the washer, Sakura edged closer to the dryers. They knew each other’s names, it shouldn’t be that strange to try to get some small talk in.

“Is that really how you fold your clothes?” Sakura giggled.

The piles of laundry were a little messy but the shape of the folds were oddly elongated.

“Is there a specific way you’re supposed to fold them?”


Sakura pulled one of his shirts from the pile of warm clothes. She held it out in front of her and took it by the shoulders and folded back the sleeves. She laid it across one of the dryer tops and folded the shirt in half so that it was neat and square the way it would have been on a shelf at a store.

“It’s just,” Sakura fumbled for a word, “neater.”

Sasuke stared at the shirt and didn’t respond. Sakura’s smile crumbled, sure that he was irritated by her interference. Sakura was about to apologize for being rude when he nudged her with his elbow.

“If you’re so good at folding why don’t you do my laundry then?”

“If you want help you should just ask,” Sakura giggled and nudged him back.

Between the two of them the laundry was folded and placed in his basket quickly. Sasuke was working on his last set of jeans when Sakura noticed something black under his t-shirt sleeve, shifting with muscles as he moved.

She knew he had a few tattoos due to the muscle tanks he wore but she never paid them any attention, preferring to watch the way his tendons moved under his skin and the flexing and bulging of his arm muscles.

Curious, her fingers slid his sleeve up so she could see what his tattoo was. She barely brushed against his skin, revealing the talons of a bird of prey, when Sasuke froze midway through folding.

Sakura snatched her hand back and mumbled out an apology. Whatever moment they were having she probably ruined it.

Sasuke tossed the jeans aside and tried to still his heart.

The touch was innocent. It was obviously out of curiosity for the tattoo on his upper left arm. Her fingers barely touched him and yet they caused a tingling sensation to crawl up his arm and down his back.

He glanced at Sakura from his peripheral. She had withdrawn her hand and was edging away from him.

Well that wouldn’t do. Not now that she was showing an interest in touching him.

Sasuke returned the favor and barely skimmed his fingers on her upper arm. Sakura shivered but her head snapped right back to him. He cocked his head to the side and the corners of his mouth lifted slightly. Sakura’s mouth parted open in confusion and he took the opportunity to repeat the action, only more purposeful this time.

Sakura didn’t flinch this time but she quivered under his touch. Sasuke trailed his fingers up her shoulder and brushed them along her neck before cupping her face. He waited for something, either words or a change in body language, that told him to back off.

Sakura’s hand gripped his wrist loosely but she rubbed her thumb across the back of his hand. Keeping her eyes downcast, Sakura bit her lower lip and used her other hand to slide under Sasuke’s shirt.

Sasuke jumped under her touch, his abdominal muscles clenching under her gentle fingers.

He always imagined how smooth her skin would be and how soft she would feel but never imagined what it would be like if she touched him.

He kind of wanted her to touch him more.

As smoothly as he possibly could without saying anything, he gripped her by the waist and lifted her onto the dryer. With his palms flat on the dryer top he leaned in so his lips were a hairbreadth away from hers.

Sakura still hadn’t said anything yet and Sasuke needed her to respond somehow, whether it be verbal or physical.

He wanted her but she needed to want him just as much.

He smelled of mint. Sakura could practically taste it with how close he was, breathing onto her mouth.

Why isn’t he kissing me?

Sakura frowned but slid her hands up his chest and cupped his neck. Their noses slid against each other and gently, she closed the gap. She pressed her mouth to his, parting her lips to have his move against hers.

Sakura pulled him closer as his tongue stroked behind her teeth and rolled against hers. Sasuke gripped her hips and nestled himself between her parted legs.

It was a little odd that they were making out after not having talked much. But when Sasuke rolled his hips against hers, Sakura didn’t really care if their bodies kept doing the talking for them.

One of Sasuke’s hands kept his grip firm on her hip, continuing to hold her in place as he rocked against her. He flattened the other one on her stomach under her shirt and trailed it up until he cupped a bare breast. Sakura gasped when he thumbed her nipple at the same moment he thrust particularly hard against her.

Not wanting to just be receiving, Sakura broke free from Sasuke’s kisses to press her own along his jaw and down his neck. She flattened her tongue at the base of his throat licked up the side, feeling the groan he emitted vibrating in the back of his throat.

Sasuke kissed her fiercely, open mouthed without tongue so he could pull back, sucking her lower lip into his own mouth and released it with a gentle tug between his teeth. He rested his forehead against hers, letting Sakura catch her breath only for him to roll his hips against hers in a lazy rhythm that her hips subconsciously tried to match.

The buzzer for the washing machine went off but Sakura couldn’t find it in herself to care as she crossed her ankles against Sasuke’s lower back trying to push him closer than he already was.

Moaning softly, Sasuke nudged Sakura’s chin up with his nose and trailed hot kisses down the line of her throat. He bunched up her t-shirt under her armpits, leaving her breasts bare. He cradled the back of her head with one hand as he lowered her down, pressing more kisses down her sternum before sucking on the underside of her right breast.

He looked her directly in the eye before flattening his tongue against her nipple and giving it a sure lick. He encased her nipple in his mouth and groaned as he tugged on it with his lips before releasing it to give the same treatment to her other breast.

Sasuke pressed more open mouth kisses down her toned stomach, sucking at the flesh by her belly button and caressing the underside of her thighs. He trailed more kisses along her waistband and tugged on it.

“Fuck,” Sakura moaned softly. If he was planning on doing what she thought he was going to do she might just die.

The buzzer of the dryer echoed in the chamber of the laundry center and Sasuke reluctantly pulled away from her. He turned her away so he could pull out his laundry and toss it into his basket and then got up and switched her laundry to the dryer. He then started the dryers using his own laundry card.

Sakura bit her lip to hold in her laughter. He was so impatient.

Sasuke narrowed his eyes at her and yanked on her shorts.

“Off. Now.”

Sakura lifted her bottom as he pulled them off along with her boy shorts, her slippers falling to the floor in the process. He kissed her navel and then scraped his teeth against her hip bone. The action caused Sakura to shiver in the warm laundry room.

Never dropping his gaze from her face, Sasuke pressed a kiss, licking the underside of her knee before placing her leg on his shoulder. He mirrored the action with her other leg and then pressed slow chaste kisses to her inner thighs, looking her right in the eye between each kiss.

Palming her bottom in his hands, Sasuke gave her center one hard lick before tracing a circle around her clit, never directly stimulating it.

Sakura let out a whine in the back of her throat and Sasuke just chuckled against her nether lips. He pressed an open mouth kiss to her core and groaned low in his throat. Sakura’s breath caught in her throat.

He’s trying to kill me!

Sakura weaved her fingers through Sasuke’s already messy hair and tried to lead him to where she wanted him. But it seemed that Sasuke had a different plan.

He pulled away from her to kiss up her thigh again. As he nipped and sucked at the flesh there, he stroked her nether lips with his index and middle finger, spreading them as he lazily massaged her.

It wasn’t until Sakura rolled her hips in desperation and whined low in her throat that Sasuke slipped his middle finger inside her. He supported her with one arm, sliding her off of the dryer so that she was standing and kneeled in front of her and pumped his finger at a slow, leisurely pace. Sakura shot him a glare before he slipped his ring finger in as well and picked up the pace. He curled his fingers and rubbed her clit with his thumb.

When he felt her clenching around his fingers he stopped the circular motions with his thumb.

Really?” Sakura hissed. She was starting to wonder what she got herself into.

Sasuke smirked at her before he took her clit between his teeth and tugged it before drawing it between his lips and suckling it.

Sakura’s legs began to tremble and Sasuke removed his fingers so that he could hold her up as she reached her climax. He continued to lap at her, over stimulating her into another orgasm. When it seemed he was going to try getting her to a third she yanked on his hair.

Sadist,” she hissed at him when he kissed her knee with a sly grin.

“Ah,” he agreed, caressing her legs. He kissed her thigh one more time before standing up to his full height.

Sakura eyed the bulge under Sasuke’s baggy shorts. She pressed her palm against it and Sasuke’s jaw clenched. Sakura withdrew her hand and grabbed her shorts and panties. She shimmied into them and scratched the back of her neck, playing with the strands of hair that fell out of her messy bun.

“We should, uh…”

Sakura swallowed hard. That had been a lot more intense than she had imagined it would be like.

And in the laundry room? Really?

“We should?” Sasuke stroked her side, looming over her from behind. He trapped her body between him and the dryer.

“Maybe take this somewhere else…?”

“Your clothes still have like another ten minutes.”

Sakura opened the doors to the machines and pulled her clothes out and tossed them into her basket. Sasuke’s eyebrow quirked up at her as she settled the basket on her hip.

“What? It’s only ten minutes. They’re dry enough.”

Sakura secured the basket on her hip and headed towards the door. She pulled it open and turned back to look at him.

“Well? Are you coming?”

“Am I?”

Sakura’s jaw dropped at the double entendre.

“Don’t be crude,” she scoffed but then smiled at him slyly. “Or you just might not be.”

Sasuke snatched his basket off the ground and followed her out.

And to think he used to hate going to the laundry center.