Mirepoix Chapter 4

Chapter Four: Only When I’m Homesick

The clothing carousel couldn’t possibly move any slower. Sakura had to resist sighing as the worker waited for the clothes that matched her ticket to appear.

She was glad it was a day off because it meant that she could go home and relax after being in class all day and after running errands. It was to be her last day off for the next two weeks and she wasn’t looking forward to going back to work.

The past couple of days were awkward—no other word could encapsulate the vibe of her last two shifts at Wisteria Place.

It was difficult to try and avoid someone you had to see face to face every thirty minutes for five to six hours. And that was the minimum amount of interaction she could possibly have with Chef Uchiha.

Of all days for anyone to see her in her underwear it had to be when she was wearing the ones she reserved for laundry day. And Not only did it have to be one of her supervisors, but the attractive one that saw her in her teeny bikini panties with the string ties.

He probably thinks I wear that kind of thing everyday, she had whined inwardly, banging her head against one of the poles on the train car. The embarrassment had made her want to cry the entire metro ride home.

Ino knew something had happened. Nothing could escape her keen eyes and she promised to get to the bottom of the awkward tension between her and Sasuke. Sakura just didn’t want her to know that it was her bottom that was the root of the problem.

She couldn’t tell her, “The weird way we avoid eye contact as much as possible and try not to say more than three words max to each other? Oh, that’s just ‘cause I flashed our boss.”

Sakura had no idea how she was going to survive going to work anymore. It wasn’t as if she could apologize to him because he got a good eye full of her ass and there was no way she was going to demand one from him.

Who needs an apology? A voice wheedled its way to the forefront of her mind. He can just touch you again.

It had been so gentle and Sakura hadn’t had that in a long time. There were hugs from her mother and father, full on glomps from Ino who didn’t quite understand physics and what her weight being thrown at such speeds could do to the receiver, but nothing like that.

He only touched my arm, how backed up am I? Sakura tossed the bag of dry clean over her shoulder and sighed as she waited for the light at the crosswalk. It was only a touch on my arm.

And yet at the same time it wasn’t only a touch to the arm. He was so close and heat radiated from his clothed figure in a way that made her lower stomach get all airy.

“NothappeningNothappeningNothappening.” Sakura muttered the chant under her breath as she crossed the street, the words running together as she repeated them. The sooner she stopped thirsting over the restaurant’s tyrant the better.

The slacks fit too well.

Neji snapped his fingers in front of Sasuke’s face and exhaled through his nose. It was the fourth time that he had to bring Sasuke’s attention back to him.

“Can we go over the Valentine’s Day menu? We need to post it online soon.”

“I was thinking we do Italian because that’s the usual fare for date nights.” Sasuke rubbed at his forehead with his thumb and index finger. “And of course we keep to the usual French dishes we always have.”

“What Italian dishes?”

“Lobster fra diavolo, maybe a seafood risotto using clams, shrimp, and the catch of the day? Perhaps a red snapper crudo.” Sakura sneezed from across the dining area. “Maybe a seafood stew with a saffron zabaglione.”

“You’re not serving the last one.”

“Well, why not?” Sasuke snapped, taken aback that Neji would reject one of his menu options. Neji’s job was to sell the dishes, not approve the dishes.

“Because you’re not thinking about romantic date food.”

“It would have lobster.” Sasuke rolled his eyes and crossed his arms in front of his chest. “Nothing screams romantic to people more than lobster. Well, maybe oysters.”

“Yeah, but what you were thinking about was warming Haruno’s stomach.” Neji raised his pen threateningly when Sasuke opened his mouth to retort and cut him off. “Don’t deny it, you were watching her the entire time we were supposed to be discussing this. Anything else?”

“Fuck you.” Sasuke exhaled and turned in his seat at the bar so he was facing away from the dining area. “If they have it in the market we could do a cuttlefish and cardoncelli tartare. Seafood en brodo with a tarragon pesto?”

“A warm broth that could keep a cold at bay, hmm…” Neji pursed his lips but wrote it down. “Luckily for you I know it would be delicious, so it stays as the soup. Anything else to add to the menu before I post?”

“A squid ink pasta would be good…with mussels of course. And a second risotto option with squid ink.”

“Alright. I’m done with you, head back to your kitchen.” Neji rapped his notes against the bar top and waved Sasuke off.

“I’m making that stew, Hyuga.”

“It’s already a large menu for the day and if you make it I’ll let Haruno know you’ve been eyeing her all day.”

Only Neji Hyuga would dare speak to him that way and honestly, it was what made working with him amusing. If only the other Hyuga could grow the same backbone, maybe then she wouldn’t have all of those problems with Naruto.

And only Neji would notice how strange he had been acting in regards to a certain waitress.

What am I going to do about that? Sasuke wiped his hands down his face. Sakura was too cute for both her and his own good. She was someone he would see everyday until she decided to quit. And it would be a shame to lose someone so competent while they were understaffed just because he couldn’t keep it in pants.

Sasuke had a policy never to get involved with anyone he worked with. Usually he followed it with extreme ease considering there was no one he found attractive at Wisteria Place.

Correction: there used to be no one he found attractive.

For a moment Sasuke wondered if this was some belated revenge from Ino, whom he had never given the time of day unless it involved cooking. She was vindictive enough to bring her much prettier friend to work at the restaurant and watch him crash and burn with her, but she also wasn’t stupid enough to do so or would ever admit that her friend was much prettier than she was. And there was also the matter of her being completely head over heels all over the Sai, the pale bartender, and no doubt had completely forgotten about Sasuke’s lack of interest.

Sasuke told himself that he would never get involved with someone he worked with and he planned to stick to that. He didn’t need a repeat of being fifteen and kicked out of his first kitchen because the nineteen year old daughter of the owner lied to her father because he didn’t want to join her for an “afternoon nap.”

But the slacks fit too well.

Whenever Sakura was in his line of sight, Sasuke’s eyes would quickly drift down and then back up. The slacks fit too well, stretched tight against her rear. It didn’t help that her apron was tied in a bow at the small of her back, not only reminiscent of a present but also a reminder of the skimpy undergarments he had seen her in the other night.

Things will just get worse when it gets warmer and the waitresses start changing into pencil skirts. Sasuke ran a hand through his hair, pushing his bangs back and letting them fall back against his face. She’s probably seeing someone too.

Sasuke constantly debated if she were. Sakura stayed really late—later than someone that relied on public transport should—on days she worked, so it seemed she had no one to go home to. But it was hard to believe that there wasn’t someone in the picture.

The first night he cooked for her, he did it purely out of annoyance. How did one work all day in a Michelin Star restaurant—two star rated!—and then eat a can of corn at the end of the day?

The second time he cooked for her it was because he knew he was sending her home early when she could have raked in a lot of tips. She was also hurt and probably would have gone to bed without eating and the more he watched her the more he thought that Sakura looked far too skinny in his opinion.

She stayed late often and even though he didn’t have to, Sasuke would beckon her into the kitchen and make her something to eat. He didn’t do it often, only when she looked like she really needed it, like when something warm would do her some good.

Shaking his head, Sasuke rolled the sleeves of his smock up to his elbows. Neji was right. As much as the menu was set by his whims, he couldn’t afford to take the same liberties with one of their biggest days of the year.

Sakura Haruno would just have to find that something warm somewhere else.

“You’re being fucking weird, you know that?” Sakura tossed a throw pillow at Ino’s head. Ino ducked but continued to stare Sakura down.

“I want a night alone with Sai on Valentine’s Day.”

“Then have a night alone.” Sakura rolled her eyes and grabbed her bowl of easy mac and cheese. She was in the middle of an online practice quiz and didn’t have time for Ino’s nonsense.

“I want to have a romantic dinner in the apartment after work and I need you to go stay with Karin for the night.”

“Did you consider that maybe Karin has Valentine’s Day plans as well?”

“Does she?”

“Ino. She sent us a detailed itinerary of her plans because she was somehow convinced to go on a boat ride for dinner and you know she’s afraid of boats and can’t swim. Karin wanted us to know exactly where she would be at all times and to keep an eye on the news for any capsized riverboats.”

“Wow. She must be in love,” Ino grumbled sarcastically.


“I just wanted the apartment to ourselves,” Ino whined, collapsing on the couch. She curled up in a ball, her head on Sakura’s knee. “Without that depressing ass music coming from your room. Nothing kills the mood more than hearing all of that screaming.”

“How else could I block you guys out?” Sakura rolled her eyes yet again at Ino’s antics. Sakura knew she could be annoying when she had experimental rock blaring out of her speakers but it was also selfish of Ino to corner Sakura into her bedroom.

“You really have no plans for Valentine’s Day?”

“Nope. Just gonna finish my shift and come home and have a date with my bed like I deserve.” Sakura submitted her quiz and waited for her results to load. She cheered when it came back at a ninety-five percent and went to see what question she had missed.

“When was the last time you had a date?” Ino turned so she could look at Sakura from where she was lying down.

“Uh…does Renee’s party count?”

“Disgusting.” Ino slapped Sakura’s arm. “Do you even remember what that guy looked like? Banging dudes in the bathroom of one of your roller derby friends’ houses doesn’t count as dates!”

Ino huffed and chewed on the inside of her cheek. Sakura was almost finished with her easy mac when Ino sat up, eyes wide and mouth hanging open, and knocked over the cup.


“The last time you got laid was almost two years ago. I remember ‘cause Renee got knocked up and couldn’t have anymore parties after that. What the fuck Sakura?”

“What the fuck Ino that was my last mac and cheese cup.” Sakura got up to clean the mess, no longer paying attention to whatever it was that Ino was going on about.

It sometimes seemed like whatever she did wasn’t good enough. She didn’t date or want to go out, she was a prude and a bore. Sakura went out to a party, got smashed and hooked up with a guy that she didn’t want to know beyond the thirty minutes it took for him to get her off, and she was making horrible decisions. She decided she would rather focus on school and maybe never talk to another guy again and Ino acted like she was doing something criminal.

“I don’t have to date to be happy, Ino.” Sakura cleaned up the last of the cheese sauce and dumped the paper towel into the trash can. “I don’t have to be in a relationship.”

“Well, no you don’t. But you’re too young to just give up.” Ino sighed, standing up and stretching her arms over her head. “Especially because I know that’s something you actually want.”

Sakura closed her eyes and willed away the stomach cramp forming in response to Ino’s words. Ino didn’t say it but she could hear her mother’s reprimands echo through her words. Could hear the complaints that she wasn’t looking for a nice young man to settle down with. See the disappointment when she said she just wanted to focus on school and becoming a nurse.

She heard it enough from her mother she didn’t need to hear it from her best friend too.

“I gotta get going to work.”Sakura felt a pair of thin arms slide down her shoulders wrap around her. “Don’t be mad at me. I just worry that you don’t make time for yourself and to have fun.”

“I was having me time but you interrupted me,” Sakura grumbled but returned the hug. “You owe me some mac ‘n cheese.”

“Please eat something that’s not instant.”

“Shut up, mom.”

The day was going well.

That was bullshit, but Tsunade insisted on chanting that it was even though she had to toss on a smock and join him in the kitchen. It wasn’t often that she worked in the kitchen but during the holidays she never had much of a choice, even when Dan was still alive.

“You just had to get on that stupid list, didn’t you brat!” Tsunade cursed at him as she set something to flambé.

“You’re the one that has those 30 Under 30 clippings hanging up,” Sasuke hissed back, grabbing a plate that was on its way to service and scowling at the line cook. “It’s still raw, moron. Do it again!”

He was sure the dining hall was nothing but the blissful romantic atmosphere they advertised, but none of that serenity transferred to the kitchen. It was one of the busiest days of the year for them. The kitchen would be more hectic than usual, but this year was the worst it had ever been and Tsunade wouldn’t stop reminding Sasuke who she blamed for it.

“Ready for service, Mr. James Beard nominee.” Tsunade shouted out sarcastically.

“Is she bragging or is she actually mad?”

Sasuke looked up from his plates to see Sakura waiting at the window. It had been a while since she spoke to him directly without averting her gaze.

“She’s the one that nominates me every year.”

“So she is bragging.” Sakura gave him one of her cheeky grins before taking off with her order.

“Look alive, Chef Uchiha.” Ino reprimanded him as she pushed more of her completed orders at the window. She matched the glare he sent her and went back to preparing the red snapper crudo tickets that were sent her way.

“How bad is it out there?” Sasuke asked Sakura when she appeared at the window again.

“It would be fine if we were only dealing with those that were smart enough to reserve a table. We have lots of people waiting to be seated that just showed up.” Sakura looked behind her and then leaning into the window whispered, “Lots of singles. Wonder who they’re here for?”

She winked at him before picking up her orders and heading back out to the dining hall. Sasuke stared after her until he felt a hand smack him between his shoulder blades.

“You can gawk at her when you’re off the clock,” Neji scolded him and went to check on the bread for the bread baskets.

Sasuke snatched him by the back of his vest and hissed lowly so no one else could hear him, “Will you knock it off?”

Neji usually didn’t take on this role, not with him, and it was starting to piss Sasuke off. He didn’t appreciate the looks Neji gave him, as if he could see right through him and knew all of his little secrets.

“What am I doing?” Neji quirked an eyebrow and pried Sasuke’s fingers off of his vest. “Do you have time to be asking questions?”

“Uchiha!” Tsunade barked at him from the other side of the kitchen. Rolling his eyes, Sasuke was forced to turn back and return to his station.

The night continued that way, the kitchen even louder than usual. Hinata Hyuga almost had a breakdown from all of the cakes she had to plate for service on her own after the head pastry chef had to sit due to a dizzy spell. She was the first one downing a glass of wine when the last ticket was closed.

“Pregaming, Hina?” Naruto asked as he walked through the kitchen doors with the dirty linens. “Don’t hit the wine too hard or you won’t be able to keep up with us tonight.”

“I beg pardon?”


Sasuke looked down at Sakura who had snuck up behind him with another bag of linens. She grimaced as she looked on at the interaction between the dense moron and Hinata whose lips were set in such a tight line that they seemed to disappear completely.

“Who said I was going out drinking with you all tonight?” Hinata narrowed her eyes, clutching tightly to the plates she was returning to their storage.

“I’m a little worried that she’s not stumbling over her words right now,” Sakura whispered to him.

“She’s weak to alcohol and she only has two modes afterwards: either she passes out or she has a shift in personality,” Sasuke explained, more out of shock that Sakura was on speaking terms with him again than out of interest of what was going on with the junior pastry chef and one of the busboys.

The last time they had a conversation was before the incident almost two weeks ago when he caught her in the middle of dressing. She hadn’t even said good night to him after he had given her her privacy. Sasuke had gone to his office to cool off and heard the back door slam shut when she ran out.

“I have plans actually.” Hinata turned her nose up and stalked away, getting back to her closing tasks.

“It’s almost midnight, what plans could she have?” Naruto grumbled. Sakura took the bag she was carrying and whacked him against the back. “What was that for!?”

“For being a dumbass.” Sakura pushed him against his back, moving him toward the laundry closet where they stored the dirty linens before they could be picked up. “Now hurry up! I don’t wanna be here all night cleaning up.”

“It’s Valentine’s Day, she probably has a date,” Ino taunted Naruto as she took back prepped vegetables into the walk-in.

“A date?” Naruto’s jaw dropped in horror. “But it’s late already, what kind of date━?”

“You know exactly what kind of date,” Sakura joined in on the taunting. She made an up and down gesture with her hand that had Sasuke choking on his own tongue. “You should have asked her sooner to go on a real date instead of trying to drag her out to drink with your friends.”

Not interested in Naruto and the Hyuga girl’s relationship, Sasuke went back to taking stock of what was left at the end of the night. There was a lot to get finished before he could head home for the few hours of sleep he was going to get. He could always skip the morning run but that’s usually when he swung by the fish market and got dibs on the best of the early catch.

He could always get some shut eye in his office while the kitchen staff ran around, rushing to get things done and then do his paperwork.

It’s not like I have anything to do tonight.

It was too much to ask for thirty minutes to himself. It felt like he barely put his head down on his desk before someone was knocking on his door.

Sasuke still wasn’t quite sure how it was that he ended up with both Sakura and Hinata at his apartment, but both of the girls were sitting in his living room when he got out of the shower so it wasn’t something he had imagined.

He had tried to take a nap and he must have succeeded because there was no other way Hinata and Sakura could have finished up inventory unless he had knocked out for at least twenty minutes.

When Sakura has first asked that he let them hang out with him, his immediate response was to reject them. He didn’t care if Hinata had to hide out in case Naruto wanted to swing by her townhouse. He didn’t care that Sakura needed to go somewhere so that Ino and Sai could have the apartment to themselves—at least he didn’t care for the reason. Sasuke was tempted to tell them to find a hotel for the night until Neji showed up looking like the cat that ate the canary.

“Tenten set me up tonight with a friend of hers and would be upset if I canceled my plans to take care of Hinata,” Neji sighed, pretending to be troubled. “If only there was someone that could help me out of my predicament. Someone that I know would be the perfect gentleman and not even think about touching my cousin in her vulnerable state. Someone—“

He mainly agreed to the whole thing just to shut Neji up. If he had let it drag out, Sasuke was sure Neji would start hinting about what had been happening lately with him staring at Sakura.

“You can hang your coat up,” Sasuke offered. He knew Hinata wouldn’t want to shed her layers because she had low blood pressure and was constantly cold, but he hadn’t expected Sakura to still be in her pea coat.

“It’s cold in here,” she mumbled, hiding her face into her scarf.

Sighing, Sasuke set a pot of water to boil. He would have prepared tea but from the way Hinata’s lower lip kept trembling he was sure she needed something else. As soon as the water boiled he turned the heat off and placed a decanter of sake into the hot water.

“I even made chocolate,” he heard her explain to Sakura. “The worst part is that I wouldn’t have minded going out for drinks but Ino told me I had to be firm about this.”

“I think Ino’s right.” Sakura patted her on the arm. “It seems like Naruto is taking you for granted. He should have asked you if you wanted to do anything for Valentine’s Day.”

Bringing out cups and the decanter on a tray, Sasuke set it down on the coffee table. He poured into the cups and handed them to his guest before serving himself some.

“I’m guessing that you’re hungry because you didn’t eat real food today?” Sasuke watched as red bloomed on Sakura’s cheeks. She opened her mouth to retort but her anger fizzled out with the growling from her stomach.

“All I ate was some cake,” she confessed. “I kind of forgot about eating.”

Sasuke scoffed but turned back into his kitchen to pull out some ingredients. He had begun preparing dashi for some miso soup when he heard one of the bar stools at his island scrape against the floor.

“I didn’t expect you to make miso soup.”

“It’s too late for something heavy like we make in the restaurant.” Sasuke turned on the rice cooker that sat on the countertop near the stove. “You’re fine with mackerel right?”

“If you’re cooking it, I would probably eat a boot.”

“It’s a good thing I would never serve a boot,” Sasuke said dryly, setting mackerel to grill in a pan as he prepared eggs for a rolled omelette. “You didn’t leave Hyuga alone with the rice wine did you?”


Sasuke looked back into his living room and spotted Hinata curled up on his couch and cuddling with one of the throw pillows. If he checked the decanter, he was sure it would be empty.

“My bad.” Sakura grinned sheepishly, resting her chin on her fist. “Didn’t expect you to have any to be honest. Or to prepare a washoku style meal.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?” Sasuke’s brows drew down in confusion. He would have turned to face her but he never burned food and he wasn’t going to risk it now.

“I’m used to seeing you make western dishes, that’s all.”

“I’m trained in classic French techniques, but that doesn’t mean I don’t know how to cook other types of food,” Sasuke scoffed. He plated the mackerel and tamagoyaki and sliced the rolled omelette. He placed them both on the table and grabbed bowls for rice and soup. “I didn’t feel like pickling anything so I hope you don’t mind—“

“Again, I would eat a boot if you cooked it. I’m not going to complain just because there’s a side dish or two you could have added.”

The words shouldn’t be flattering, not with his awards and nominations. Not with the fact that Sakura would gladly eat canned corn and microwaveable meals if no one was stopping her.

He gives thanks for the meal, because no matter how many years have gone by and no matter what type of foo he’s eating, proper manners—proper Japanese manners—would never escape him.

“So this is what you eat at home, huh?” Sakura asks, following his lead.

And maybe it’s how she’s smiling or how the lights in his apartment are dim but he feels himself being more honest than he usually would be.

“Only when I’m homesick.”

Some boundaries shouldn’t be crossed. Sakura reminded herself of that constantly as the night carried on.

If it weren’t for Hinata there was probably no way she would even know where Sasuke lived or what the inside of his apartment looked like.

She should have figured he wouldn’t live in a walk up like she did and that he was lucky enough to not need any roommates. Sasuke lived in a single bedroom apartment that overlooked the harbor, away from the rowdy bars that Sakura’s shared flat was above.

Sitting in his bathroom she scrolled through the links listed when she searched his name. There were tons of articles and reviews. Even some spotlights from cooking competitions he had entered. At the bottom of the first page she found a link to a profile for a rheumatologist with his same last name but Sakura didn’t bother clicking through it. It wasn’t a common last name but it wasn’t what she was interested in.

I knew he was older but not by five years…

Sakura locked her phone up and finished using the restroom. She opened up the medicine cabinet in search of mouthwash. Even without her toothbrush she could massage her gums and rinse her mouth.


Right by the mouthwash was a box of condoms. It sat there as innocently as it could in the lineup of items. Just deodorant, condoms, mouthwash, toothpaste and yet it unsettled her.

“He’s twenty-seven, I would be more shocked if he didn’t have a sex life,” Sakura muttered, grabbing the mouthwash. The sight made her feel as if she were being even more intrusive than she originally thought. Perhaps he had plans and Neji had ruined them by pushing Hinata—and by association, her—onto him.

There was a knock on the door that made her jump. Opening it a crack, she was met with the sight of Sasuke’s plain black v-neck shirt.

“I’ll be out in a sec.”

“I figured you might want something to wear.” Sasuke handed her a simple gray shirt and black sweatpants through the small opening. “They might be way too big but you can tighten the drawstring. I left blankets out on the couch for you and Hinata.”

“Thanks.” Sakura nodded. “For everything. The clothes, the food, and letting us stay here.”

“You shouldn’t have let Hyuga drag you into her thing with Naruto.”

“And you shouldn’t have let Neji drag you into it either,” Sakura shot back. “Does he have something on you?”

Sasuke stared blankly at her a moment and Sakura was tempted to just shut the door on him if he was going to be so cryptic.

“He knows.”

Sakura’s face scrunched up in confusion. The answer didn’t help much in clearing up anything. What could Neji possibly—


“I’m just going to change now.” Sakura giggled nervously and shut the bathroom door. She didn’t need a repeat of him seeing her in her undergarments.

She had just gotten over the embarrassment and didn’t need it to come creeping back. Seeing Sasuke so professional in his kitchen and not bothering her about seeing her almost naked had helped. She kind of missed when they chatted at the service window and when he would pretend that it was a waste of his time to cook her something even though she never asked him to, he just did it on his own.

“You weren’t wrong about the pants being too big.” Sakura tugged and tugged on the drawstring as she exited the bathroom. She left her clothes on an empty shelf by the spare towels so they would be there ready to be changed into when she woke up.

“Here.” Sasuke batted her fingers away and pulled tightly on the strings before knotting them. His knuckles brushed against her flat, taut stomach and Sakura’s breath hitched at the touch.

Maybe she wasn’t over the incident in the locker room. At least not the low simmer of want that came with Sasuke’s close proximity.

Sasuke’s fingers didn’t let go of the strings, he held on to them even after he had finished knotting them and how Sakura wished he would undo the knot he made and flatten his warm hands on her cold stomach.

Hinata murmured from down the hall and Sakura’s head snapped up at the sound. Instantly, Sasuke pulled away and was bidding her good night before he shut the door of his bedroom.

Sighing in resignation, Sakura found the blankets where Sasuke said he had put them. She tucked Hinata in, one of her arms thrown over head and the other one hugging her stomach. As gently as she could, Sakura adjusted her body so that she wouldn’t wake up with muscle aches.

Sakura curled up on the extension of the L shaped couch, just small enough that she fit perfectly on it when she curled up without any limbs hanging off. She plumped one of the throw pillows and laid her head in it, closing her eyes and hoping sleep came quickly. At least Hinata didn’t witness anything that had happened between her and Sasuke. She was a quiet girl and wouldn’t talk but Sakura liked having her little secret.

“You guys are pretty cute.”

Covenant Chapter 3

Chapter Three: Dinner Should Be Charming

Mornings were always loud. And early.

Grumbling, Sasuke pulled his duvet over his head and turned so that he was curled inward and facing the wall. He was never a fan of mornings but the Haruno household was always lively before the sun rose into the sky.

He had barely settled again when he heard his door creak open. A few seconds later there was a pressure on his mattress near his back.

“Sasuke?” Sakura whispered. She shook his shoulder gently. “Sasuke?”

“Can I just stay here today?” He groaned. Sakura giggled and shook his arm again. Sighing, he sat up and stretched, rolling his shoulders. “No one makes Kakashi wake up this early.”

“He’s a cat, Sasuke,” Sakura deadpanned. “We’re lucky he shows up at all.”

Sasuke narrowed his eyes at her and yanked on his duvet. The force flipped her off of the bed but before he could lie back down and pull the blanket over his head it vanished into thin air. A moment later the bed was gone and he dropped on the floor, his backside slamming on the hardwood floor.

“You can have your bed back later. Lady Tsunade is arriving today so we have to make sure everything is prepared at the manor.”

“She’s finally coming back?” Sasuke scratched his head, ruffling his hair.

Sasuke had not seen the High Priestess of their coven since the day he was summoned. Sakura had told them there was an emergency and he had accepted that but after weeks had gone by and she had not returned he asked for the details of the emergency. At the time he was desperate to get back home and it was getting delayed due to the fact the most powerful witch couldn’t help him because she was absent.

Lady Tsunade had been summoned by her husband, the High Priest of the Elder Coven, to take part of a council. The newly named Akatsuki coven was under investigation due to the death of their High Priest, Jiraiya.

“What was the verdict?” Sasuke had been curious about witch laws and attempted to read up on it but grew bored going through the thick, dusty tomes.

“They still have their mana sealed at the moment, but the council was forced to find them not guilty of murder. They were punished for the execution because they didn’t call for the Elder Coven which they needed to do due to Jiraiya’s status. It’s within a coven’s right to hold a trial within their own house without interference, but usually it’s not a High Priest or Priestess that’s on trial. Akatsuki had run their own investigation and trial and found Jiraiya guilty of crimes against his own coven so they burned him at the stake.”

“What did he do?”

“He was molesting underage witches in the coven.”



Preparations for Tsunade’s arrival mostly involved cleaning the manor and preparing her favorite dishes. Shizune went into a frenzy making sure every nook and cranny was free of dust. Kakashi had gone into hiding and had only been lured out by threat of castration which had Sasuke scurrying off to polish the floors before Shizune decided to carry out the threat to the others.

“The house is already clean, why are we doing all of this?” He was keeping an eye on Sakura as she levitated above him and dusted the chandelier in the foyer. If there was a chance of her falling Sasuke wanted to be ready to catch her.

“The Hebi Coven is coming for a visit.” Sakura cut off her concentration and plummeted into Sasuke’s waiting arms. She giggled as he scowled at her. “And High Priest Dan as well. It’s been a while since he’s been home.”

“I’ll let you fall next time,” he warned, setting her down. Sakura rolled her eyes and collected the cleaning supplies from the floor. He said that every time she decided to free fall and yet he always kept an eye on her whenever she began floating.

“There’s going to be members that are our age so that should be cool, right?”

“I don’t like strangers,” he grumbled, packing up his own cleaning supplies as well.

“They won’t be strangers after you meet them,” Sakura replied in a singsong, swinging her bucket around as she walked away.

“Don’t be a smartass.”

They were just finishing storing away all of the cleaning supplies and ready to call it a day when Kakashi rubbed his feline body against Sakura’s ankles for attention. Sasuke snatched him by the scruff of his neck and threatened to toss him out one of the windows for the second time that week for being inappropriate.

“I was sent by Shizune!”

“What does Shizune-san want?” Sasuke held onto him but didn’t pull him back inside. If Kakashi was lying he was ready to drop him.

“She needs you two to drop by the store and the bakery.” Kakashi remained calm, knowing one wrong move and Sasuke would let go. He would survive the fall but it took more energy out of him than he liked.

“But that’s so far away!” Sakura whined. “And then we would have to bring it all back?”

“She’ll compensate you for the metro fare.”

Sakura groaned but shuffled down the stairs. They could hear her grumbling all the way down.

“Are you going to let me back in?”

Sasuke looked back at him and cocked his head to the side. Sakura was really upset and she was right, it was a lot of traveling going back and forth.


Kakashi yowled as he dropped to the ground and Sasuke locked up the window.

“We should just, teleport all of this junk to the manor.”

Sakura pulled the foldable shopping trolley behind her. Sasuke held the door open for her and followed her into the bakery.

“Papa!” Sakura called out to her father as she passed by the rows of shelves loaded with different types of breads. “I need to place an order for a cake. And dango.”

“Mundane or magical?” Kizashi asked from behind the counter.

“Mundane, please. I would rather not have to deal with a bunch of drunk witches and warlocks again.”

As Sakura gave her father Shizune’s order, Sasuke wandered around the shop. He knew the Haruno family owned a bakery, but with all of the time he spent at Senju Manor, he had never actually stepped foot inside.

Put a pep in your step! Try a ginger cookie today, Sasuke read one of the free sample cards in front of brown smiley face cookies. He walked slowly reading all of the descriptions. There was a cookie shaped like an o-mikuji with shō-kichi written on them. Need a little luck? Try one of our tasty small blessing cookies!

“I’m guessing something actually happens if these are eaten?” Sasuke asked Mebuki who was taking inventory.

“Yep! They’re quite popular among both mundane and otherworldly customers.” Mebuki grabbed the tray of smiley face cookie samples and urged him to try one.

“I don’t like sweets,” Sasuke reminded her. It was the downside of living with a family of bakers. There was always breads and sweets available to snack on but it wasn’t something he enjoyed and he felt ungrateful whenever he declined their offers.

“Oh, good.” Sakura appeared by his elbow and grabbed a sample. “I need one of these.”

She popped it in her mouth and chewed, humming delightfully after she swallowed it. She rolled her shoulders and popped her joints.

“Oh, that feels a lot better.” Sakura grabbed another cookie and handed it to him. “Trust me, you should have one.”

What was the influence that she had over him that her mother didn’t have only seconds before her? It was the same green eyes looking up at him, but Mebuki didn’t have the cheeky grin or the giggle that punctuated her words.

Maybe it was the fact he was her familiar, but as soon as she was offering him the cookie he took it and gingerly took a bite from it.

“Too sweet.” Sasuke wanted to gag but it would have been rude. It wasn’t a bad tasting cookie, it was just too much sugar in his opinion. As soon as he swallowed, all of his previous fatigue vanished. It was as if he hadn’t spent the entire day scrubbing floors and rearranging furniture.

“But it’s working, huh?” Sakura had her hands clasped behind her back and she looked up at him expectantly.

“Yeah, yeah.” Sasuke avoided answering and grabbed a basket. He filled it with treats that Shizune had requested and read all of the descriptions along the way. “Do humans really eat these? And they don’t question the effects?”

“A lot of them think it’s only because they believe in it enough,” Sakura explained, dumping more lavender “calming” cookies into the basket than had been requested. “Trust me, we’re going to need a lot of these this week.”

“I’m going to have to develop a sweet tooth in order to deal with all of you witches. aren’t I?” Sasuke looked down at the list Kakashi had handed them from Shizune and his brows furrowed in confusion. “What do maca cookies do and why is Kakashi asking us to get two dozen of them for Kato-san?”

Sakura snatched the list from his hand and crumpled it up, face flushing a vivid crimson. She grabbed the basket of cookies and had her mother ring her up.

“What do they━?”

“You don’t need to know!”

Sasuke pulled his arm through his haori and smoothed the front, his fingers lingering over the uchiwa kamon that decorated the black fabric and then settled on the round himo knot. It felt ridiculous packing his kimono when he had no reason to wear them but just as always, his mother had proven that she knew best.

There was a soft knock on his door that could have only belonged to one member of the Haruno family.

“Come in.”

Sakura opened the door a crack and slid in, exposing a pale leg with her movements. She was dressed in a black qipao dress with red and white feathers. Her hair was pulled into a low bun with a feather and rhinestone hairpin. The pattern paying homage to his winged form had him humming in appreciation.

“You look nice.” Sakura beamed up at him, patting down the front of his haori. “Very formal.”

“Do most events require formal attire?”

“No, we have meetings that require ceremonial robes but this is just a dinner party.”

Sakura used her cell phone to call for a lift━”We should get you a phone and put you on our plan, Sasuke.”━and they made their way to the manor. Kizashi gave them a package to deliver to High Priest Dan as an offering. Sasuke was going to have to learn about the politics of word weavers so he could properly understand the importance of Dan Kato.

“Strongest? No, it was kind of an elected position,” Sakura had explained before when she told him about the trial. “The strongest would be the Lady Tsunade, Lord Orochimaru, and the late Lord Jiraiya. Because they are all equal in strength neither one of them could lead the Elder Coven, so the position was appointed to a warlock they believed would be best for the job.”

“So how are they getting here? A portal?” Sasuke asked Kakashi as they waited in the foyer for their guests.

“No. Uber.” Kakashi yawned and yanked at his collar. Shizune had him dressed in regular fit navy blue suit with a silver tie. It matched her high collar evening tea dress in the same shade of blue with silver buttons down the bust.

The two made a nice pair but Sasuke preferred the attention to detail that Sakura had in her attire. Even if it was only symbolic to those that knew his true nature, it pleased him a bit that she had represented him and an important trait of his instead of simply stuffing him in something similar to what she owned.

The doorbell rang at seven on the dot and Shizune welcomed their coven leader who entered on the arm of a man with long silver hair.

“Welcome home, Uncle Dan.” Shizune embraced the man and stepped aside that the people following them could enter as well.

The Hebi Coven was greater in numbers than their own little coven, Sasuke noticed immediately. A person with snake like features entered the foyer with an entourage of twelve. It was no wonder Shizune had been stressed the past few days.

“Karin!” Sakura squealed when a petite girl with vivid red hair in a lavender short sleeved chiffon dress walked through the doorway.

“Please remember that my upper body strength is non existent!” The red haired girl shrieked as Sakura practically pounced on her, wrapping her arms around her neck.

“She’s going to end up breaking you, Karin.” A white haired boy in a matching button down shirt snickered, brushing past the two girls. Sasuke caught his eye and the boy’s lips stretched out into a wide toothy smile. “Thank fuck, another guy.”

“You’re wearing my present.” Karin daintily sniffed the air around Sakura, ignoring the adults that were heading to the dining room. “I wish I was here on your birthday but Kabuto dragged me out for a job.”

Before Sasuke could ask, Karin whipped out a business card from thin air and handed it to him. In a curly font her name, Karin Uzumaki, was listed and underneath it read “Founder Of All Things Lost” along with an email address and alternate instructions to drop lavender essential oil on the card for emergencies.

“Karin is an extremely gifted scryer,” Sakura explained. Karin tossed her hair over her shoulder and beamed at the praise. “Most witches need a medium like crystals or a mirror, but Karin can use the back of her eyelids. And she doesn’t just get flashes but detailed images.”

“I’m better than most oracles,” Karin bragged, adjusting her glasses on the bridge of her nose. The white haired boy stood at her elbow and coughed into his fist. “Oh, and this is Suigetsu. He’s talented at leaving puddles everywhere he sits.”

“We just met the guy and you’re already insulting me in front of him?”

“He’s my familiar.” Karin sighed and rolled her eyes. “We’ve been together almost a year now.”

“But not actually together, Sakura.” Suigetsu flashed her a flirty grin and waggled his eyebrows. The sight of his pointed teeth had Sasuke pulling Sakura back in case the teen decided he wanted to take a bite of her.

At least that’s what he told himself was the reason.

“And ‘cause he’s a male selkie he’s an incorrigible flirt.”

“Children,” a silky voice called out to them. “The adults are waiting.”

The owner of the voice was none other than the person with the slits for pupils and long black hair that matched the silkiness of their voice. The smile they gave Sasuke made the hairs on the back of his neck stand.

“Ah, a tengu. You don’t really see them in this realm anymore.” They looked Sasuke up and down before turning their attention to Sakura, their smile even more alarming than a second ago. “Very impressive, Miss Haruno. Who knew you had it in you to summon such a creature into your possession.”

“He’s not a thing, Lord Orochimaru,” Sakura muttered, averting her gaze. She tugged on Sasuke’s hand and lead him to a pair of seats as far away as possible from where Orochimaru’s place card sat.

It wasn’t until Karin gave him a strange probing look from his face to their joined hands that he reminded Sakura that he needed both hands for dinner.

“Sorry,” Sakura whispered as he gave thanks for the meal. He peered at her from the corner of his eye and noticed her gaze was directed at the head of the table where the elders sat.

The apology had nothing to do with the hand holding. There was no doubt that she was thinking about the weeks after she had summoned him and his feelings about the whole event.

“Don’t worry about it,” he muttered back, leaning over to whisper it in her ear so none of the guests could hear him.

Dinner was an odd affair. Sasuke was used to large gatherings—even larger ones with his clan—but these were strangers. There was no one he could talk with and he already made an enemy out of one of the Hebi witches by securing a stick of dango for Sakura before the witch absconded with the whole tray.

If it weren’t a formal dinner setting he was sure she would have hexed him. Unsettling smiles seemed to be a trademark of the Hebi coven.

“I’m glad we’re going back home and don’t have to deal with all of these people,” Sakura grumbled as she helped clear the dining room. She moved slowly without magic to stall having to meet everyone in the den for a nightcap. “I definitely don’t wanna be around when Anko gets a few drinks in her. Last time she holed up in Shizune‘s room the whole week and she and Kakashi butted heads for her attention.”

“I wouldn’t mind joining them. I’m eighteen now.” Suigetsu chuckled before Karin hit him with a closed fist to the back of his head. His head burst into a splash of water upon contact.

“No, orgies aren’t a witch thing,” Sakura answered Sasuke’s unasked question. She rolled her eyes at the look of disgust he had. “Anko and Kakashi are just like that.”

“How did you know what I was thinking?”

“Hm?” Sakura lifted her arms and waved her hands through some motions and the dishes started cleaning themselves. “Oh. I don’t know. I just thought that might be what you would ask.”

Sasuke crossed his arms and watched as she pointed at the dishes and they loaded themselves into the dishwasher and she grabbed glass containers to store what remained of dinner.

“I’m not reading your mind, Sasuke.” Sakura glared at him and placed the containers in the refrigerator. She flinched when she shut the door a little harder than she should have.

“Well that doesn’t help your case.”

“No, you’re just predictable.”

With a final wave of her hand the tea cups arranged themselves on two trays and she grabbed the teapot. Placing her hand on the pot, the spot she touched glowed red and the pot whistled.

“Help me with this, please? After we give them their tea we can go home. I don’t like how Lord Orochimaru was looking at you. They’re usually creepy but tonight’s definitely been the creepiest they’ve been.”

Sasuke was glad he wasn’t the only one that thought the High Priest had behaved strangely. It was already strange that they knew immediately what Sasuke was, even in his wingless form.

“You’re probably too young to know, but has Orochimaru ever had a tengu familiar?”

“Hmm? Oh, no. Their familiar has always been a basilisk named Manda. It’s why they call the coven he leads Hebi.” Sakura shivered and hugged herself. “I’ve only seen him once and just, never again.”

If what Sasuke had heard about basilisks was true, Sakura was very lucky she was still alive after an encounter with one. He could only assume that Orochimaru was a very powerful warlock to be able to contain a great snake and keep it from eating every human it came across.

That is if Orochimaru even bothered to keep his familiar from eating.

There was a chance the tengu Orochimaru had mentioned seeing in the mundane realm was Itachi. And if that was whom Orochimaru was referring to, it meant they knew who Itachi’s former warlock was.

And Sasuke was going to find out exactly who that warlock was.


Sighing, Sakura drummed her fingers against the back of her phone, A habit she had picked up after her best friend came after her about wringing her hands into the hems of her tops and skirts. She had to do something with her hands as she waited, so she drummed her fingers and listened to the way her freshly manicured nails tapped against her phone case.

She was early. She knew she should have been late, made Sasuke wait for her instead of the other way around but sitting around waiting for their meet up time made her antsy.

It had been Sakura’s idea to go out to dinner. Sasuke had suggested a movie but she wasn’t a fan of movie theaters for dates. If she was going to watch a movie it would be at home where she could be in her comfy pajamas and cuddling on her couch.

But there had been too many “dates” in her small apartment and she was starting to feel confined considering she only went out when she needed to go to school or visit her family.

So Sakura suggested dinner so that Sasuke wouldn’t feel like he had to feed her that evening and after a long week at uni, she was in no mood to cook herself.

The sun is almost all the way down…he should be here soon…

Letting out another sigh, Sakura gave up on waiting and headed inside the pub on her own to grab a table. She would just have to text Sasuke so he would know where to find her.

Sakura paid no mind to the other patrons, just requested a table toward the back of the shop if possible and followed the waitress.

Sitting down and setting her cross body bag down, Sakura looked around the room and then back at her table. Perhaps she should have chosen a seat at the bar. It was much more casual than the informal setting already was and maybe that would make her feel more relaxed. Sitting at her table that was meant for four patrons there were only two logical options. Either Sasuke sat directly in front of her or in the seat to her left right next to her.

Sitting next to him felt like something high schoolers would do. Not that she would know from personal dating experience. She had never been one for dating. Sakura had attended an all girls school and had received the occasional confession from classmates at her cram school but it never went anywhere.

When she went out for drinks with members from a circle she was a part of she observed the couples and how they interacted but when she had started dating a boy from the same circle they never got past the texting and phone calls before bed phase.

Academics had always been the priority for Sakura and now as a young adult in a relationship, her partner made everything so easy for her by being so accommodating. Sasuke never asked for much, just that she took care of herself during the day when he couldn’t be with her.

He probably would have been fine if we ordered a pizza, Sakura chuckled inwardly as she took her reading glasses out so that she could read the menu. She could order ahead and the food would be ready by the time Sasuke showed up. Ikayaki would be good…and some karaage and definitely some gyoza. I should order some cabbage for all of this fried food too.

Sakura’s drink arrived around the same time she received a text from Sasuke that he was crossing the street and would be arriving soon. She replied that she was seated toward the back of the shop and waved her hand to call for a waitress. In the middle of ordering their food a second waitress appeared.

“Excuse me, ma’am. There seems to be a bit of a mix up.”

Sakura was fuming as she and Sasuke walked toward the station. Not once in the past few years had she ever noticed that the izakaya she and her friends frequented was a segregated establishment.

“This is my fault,” Sakura sighed out, rubbing her forehead with the heels of her palms. “I’m so stupid. I should have asked first.”

Sasuke pulled her hands away from her head and interlocked his fingers of one hand with one of hers.

“It’s fine. I should have expected it.” He pulled her along, never letting go of her hand. “Besides, I wanted pizza anyway. We can just buy some beer on our way home.”

But it wasn’t fine. Sakura let herself be guided across the street and focused on the feel of Sasuke’s fingers against her own. Even in the summer heat, his touch was welcome. Despite the clamminess and sweat, Sakura felt safe being held by him.

“Isn’t that a━”

“Yeah, it is!”

The poor excuse for whispering caught Sakura’s attention. A pair of college aged girls openly gawked at Sasuke and she wouldn’t have thought anything of it━Sasuke was a beautiful person, of course they would stare━if it weren’t for the look of disgust that washed over their features when their gaze drifted down to Sakura and Sasuke’s joined hands.


“Don’t stare too much.”

One of the girls noticed Sakura looking at them and grabbed her friend by the elbow and turned her around. They continued to whisper harshly to each other even as Sakura and Sasuke had long past them. A quick look over her shoulder had Sakura catching them staring at her again.

It was hypocritical of them to fawn over Sasuke, but then be disgusted with her for having a relationship with him.

Humans had a strange look but don’t touch policy when it came to vampires. It was alright to appreciate their good looks. It was alright to think about what one would do with a vampire but it wasn’t okay to actually follow through.


Sakura curled her arm around Sasuke’s elbow and laid her head against his upper arm. She remembered now why she preferred to meet him in the safety of her apartment no matter how suffocating it felt to be indoors day after day.

“Tired?” Sasuke nudged her slightly to get her attention. “We can grab a taxi instead.”

“No, I can deal with the train.”

Sasuke looked down at her and cocked his head slightly to the side. He must have seen something he didn’t like because he tugged her closer so they stood at the curb.

“Nah, let’s get a cab.”

“Why don’t you ever invite me to your place?”

Sasuke’s eyes widened and he almost choked on his tea. Sakura had been quiet for most of the night and while that had caused some concern, he knew she would speak up when she was ready. He just hadn’t expect her to ask him about his apartment.

Sakura has turned and propped her elbows on the back of her couch so she could face him. He set his mug on the counter and leaned over it, bracing himself for more questions.

“Do you live in a vampire only residence? Am I not allowed on the premises?”

“Yes and no.” Sasuke chewed on his lip. “I’m not hiding anything if that’s where you’re heading with your questioning.”

“I wasn’t thinking about that but now that you brought it up—“

“I’m not,” Sasuke cut her off, speaking firmly. “My friends have a habit of breaking in whenever they please and I would rather they didn’t interrupt the time I spend with you.”

“Do your friends know about me?”

“Karin does which means they all do. She wants to meet you.” Sasuke grabbed his mug and sat back down on the couch with her. “But she has no filter and will use that as a chance to embarrass me.”

“So that means if I wanted to, I could spend a night at your apartment.”

After their failed dinner plans Sakura had done some research on different establishments in the city. Over half of the restaurants and entertainment facilities were segregated and another quarter of them were human only while the remainder were vampire only. It was strange how she never took notice of that until it affected her.

“I guess you could.” Sasuke set his mug on the coffee table and wrapped an arm around her waist, pulling her closer so she was in his lap. “My leasing contract didn’t state anything about humans being forbidden. But I think that’s because humans wouldn’t typically want to live with vampires.”

“I would want to live with a vampire.”

Sakura turned so she could hook her arms around his neck. She traced the line of his throat with her nose and ghosted kisses against his jawline. She molded her lips with his as she settled herself so that she was straddling his lap.

“I wouldn’t be opposed to it. Depending on the vampire.”

“You know,” Sasuke murmured as Sakura continued to press open mouth kissed down his neck and sucked at his pulse point, “we never checked if I was allowed to be here either.”

Sakura paused and pulled away, giving him a contemplative look.

“Oh my god…you’re right, we didn’t. I should go check my contract.”

Sasuke snatched her by the waist before she could remove herself from his lap. He snuggled his face into her chest and muttered, “That can wait until later…”

“Spoiled,” Sakura teased him, running her fingers through his hair, brushing them against the pointed rounds of his ears. Sasuke hummed against her sternum when she played with his hair. He pressed his face deeper against her chest and splayed his fingers against the small of her back.

He never acted as if he cared about the fact they were technically different species anymore. After their one week fall out months prior, the two of them had been almost inseparable.  There was a designated space in her dressers and closet just for Sasuke’s things. An ashtray sat on the banister of the veranda. His toothbrush sat right next to hers in the holder in the bathroom. He even had discreet pouches of blood stored in her refrigerator for the week in the month she wasn’t able to feed him.

And Sakura wouldn’t have it any other way.

Gently turning his face up to hers, Sakura pressed a kiss to his lips, ever so grateful that he was there with her in her little apartment.

“I love you,” she breathed against his mouth, pulling back for air. She cradled his head in her hands and decorated his face with kisses. “I love you Sasuke-kun.”

He made her burst out in giggles when he pushed her back on the couch and wedged apart her legs to settle in the cradle of her thighs. Sasuke kept his eyes on her face as he trailed open mouth kisses down her torso, pulling down her cotton shorts in the process to show her how much he loved her as well.

Sakura groaned, sliding her arms out in front of her on the table top. She was using the time before her lecture started to research more on integrated locations.

“What’s up with you?” Yamanaka Ino, her best friend, asked her, bringing their iced coffees to the table. “Is school really that frustrating? You should just drop out and get married like I did.”

“You didn’t drop out,” Sakura rolled her eyes, “well, not exactly. There’s nothing wrong with withdrawing to take over your parents’ shop. Still can’t believe you married that weird customer.”

“Sai-kun’s a bit eccentric but loveable.” Ino took a prim sip of her iced latte and then turned a sly smile at Sakura, blue-green eyes twinkling mischievously. “So what’s the real problem? Because you’ve been looking up date spots.”

“How—what? How did you even—“

“I used the reflection from the shop window to look at your laptop monitor. I thought you were finishing up a report for your afternoon lecture at first but that’s not like you at all.”

Sakura’s face burned with embarrassment. She covered her face with her hands to hide the redness creeping on her cheeks. Because of her school schedule and Ino’s work schedule, it had been easy to hide the fact she had been involved with someone for over a year. She had never expected Ino to find out now before she could figure out a way to confess her partner wasn’t human.

“My boyfriend’s birthday is coming up.” Sakura peeked at Ino’s face between her fingers. “And I don’t know what to do for it.”

“Take him to a love hotel,” Ino responded with a straight face.

“Don’t be ridiculous!” Sakura whispered harshly, throwing a napkin at her.

“What? If you’re stuck just give him your v-card. He must be something if you’re actually worried about his birthday.”

Sakura hid her face behind her hands again and asked God what had she done to deserve such a loud and bold friend that didn’t care about the setting when it came to topics of conversation.

She mumbled behind her hands and Ino reached over the table to pull her hands away from her face.

“Stop that! I can’t hear you when you mumble like that.”

“I said,” Sakura coughed and then lowered her voice, “I already did.”

Ino pulled back and gawked at her, eyes wide and jaw dropped ungraciously.

“Shut up.”

“It’s the truth,” Sakura muttered, making herself smaller in her seat. “We’ve been seeing each other for almost a year now…”

It wasn’t a lie technically.

In a month it would be a year since they had met although they hadn’t started an intimate relationship until much later that hadn’t gone beyond the walls of her apartment.

“And here I thought you wouldn’t have sex with anyone until your wedding night.”

“I wasn’t going to wait that long…”

“Haruno Sakura, you wouldn’t let a boy hold your hand until you had been talking to him for three months. And we were twenty.”

“I’m just selective.”

“Well,” Ino huffed, “this guy must be really special then.”

“He is,” Sakura admitted softly, chewing on her straw.

“So why haven’t I heard about him?”

Sakura choked on a sip of her coffee as Ino stared her down. Ino propped her elbows on the table top and laid her chin on her delicate fingers clasped together. It’s a familiar sight, one Sasuke uses and guilt pools in Sakura’s stomach.

Ino was her first real friend when she entered university━her first real friend ever considering she never made any effort in high school after years of being taunted for her proud, high forehead.

“I just…”

Sakura began to wring her hands in the hem of her shirt and Ino snapped her fingers in front of her face. Sakura glared at her, batting her hand away.

“You might get upset if I told you about Sasuke-kun.”

“Well at least he has a name.” Ino rolled her eyes but smiled reassuringly. She waited expectantly for Sakura to tell her more. Sakura chewed on the inside of her cheek and took a deep breath.

She told Ino an edited version of events, not wanting to let her know that she and Sasuke had slept together before they had even discussed their feelings for each other. It didn’t take long for Ino to badger her for more details and pull it out of her and the two of them almost got kicked out of the shop for causing a scene when Ino’s voice reached an inappropriate volume that had Sakura shouting back.

“So he eats you and then he eats you━”

“Really, Ino? Really?” Sakura cut her off before she could saying anything crude. “And technically he drinks my blood, so not exactly eating me.”

“He’s still consuming some part of you,” Ino stated matter of factly. “Still. Who would have guessed that you would be a bigger freak than me.”

“Don’t make me regret telling you.” Sakura snapped her laptop closed and laid her head on top of it. She still had another hour before class but she had exhausted her eyes searching from site to site.

“Huh. But that means a love hotel might really be your only option then.”

“What?” Sakura sat up and gave Ino a quizzical look.

“Sai works in these things. He’s one of the only humans at the law firm he works at. Love hotels are one of the only integrated establishments around town for obvious reasons.” Ino tapped on her chin thoughtfully and then snapped her fingers. “I’ll talk to him and see if there’s anywhere classier you guys can celebrate at.”

“Sai is a lawyer? I thought he was an artist?”

“Art is his true love but being a lawyer is what pays the bills.”

“And let me guess, you thought telling me he was an artist was more romantic?”

“Do you want my help or not?”

It was the third night that week that Sakura had fallen asleep on the couch while reading her textbook. It wasn’t until Sasuke was sorting their laundry for the wash and had asked her a question about one of her blouses that he had noticed she had fallen asleep.

He gathered her books and papers and organized them on her coffee table and shut down her laptop. Scooping her up he carried her to bed and made sure she was tucked in.

Summer break would begin in a week but she still had an exam before she could go on holiday.

She’s getting tired so easily lately…

Sasuke brushed hair away from her face and pulled up the sheets up to her chin. He had come over before his shift at work to spend time with her, even if it was just to be in the same place. It was the week in the month he wasn’t supposed to drink from her so he didn’t mind that she had fallen asleep before he left to work but it worried him how fatigued she was.

Their trip coming up would be a good way for her to relax after a busy term. One of Sakura’s friends had found a ryokan that catered to vampires that also allowed human guests. It would be a long trip but at least the two of them would be alone with no worries about work or school.

I should make a shopping list.

Sasuke went around the apartment and took note of the stock of her items. He wrote down what was needed in the kitchen and wrote down laundry detergent and fabric softener because they were almost out.

Huh. That’s odd.

Sasuke shrugged closed the medicine cabinet over the bathroom sink. The box of sanitary napkins was halfway full like it had been after last month.

It must have been a light week.

With a yawn, Sakura checked through her oversized purse one more time to make sure the tickets for the Shinkansen were still in her pocketbook.

“You okay?”

She couldn’t see his eyes through his sunglasses but she knew Sasuke had to have been looking down at her. It was sunset but the light was still too bright for his sensitive eyes.

“I’m just sleepy. I can take a nap on the train. Would you mind?”

“I have my earbuds, I can listen to music. And I might sleep too.”

Sasuke tugged her closer to him and she leaned against his arm. They waited a few more minutes and finally it was time to board.

“Sir,” an attendant called out to Sasuke, “I’m sorry but you cannot sit in this car. It’s a human only car.”

“What?” Sakura pulled out their tickets and showed them to the attendant. “But when I bought the tickets no one told me that the cars were segregated.”

“There must have been a misunderstanding.”

“I know what happened,” Sasuke sighed. “When you bought the tickets the clerk assumed your companion was human as well. Are there any integrated cars we could exchange our tickets for?”

“Unfortunately not for this line,” the attendant apologized. “I don’t believe there are integrated train cars in Japan yet.”

“I’ll go sit in a vampire car then.”

“That can be done but we only have space in the unreserved cars at this time.”

“Of course you do.”

“I’m sorry Sasuke-kun.” Sakura tugged on his sleeve, looking down at her feet.

“It’s fine. I’ll see you when we reach our destination.”

Two hours of passing LINE messages back and forth is how they spent their time until they reached the station. They then switched to the subway which gratefully had no more segregation issues they could run into. They rode in relative silence only breaking it when Sasuke took Sakura’s travel bag from her to carry it.

By the time they had reached their ryokan, Sakura was no longer in the mood to try out the hot springs available at the resort.

“I messed up again.”

Sakura had waited until the nakai had finished giving them information and left before dumping her bag on the tatami. She hid her face behind her hands to cover the tears of frustration that were welling up.

“I already knew there might be complications. We already ran into the same problem before and yet I still didn’t double check.”

No matter how much she tried to blink them away, she couldn’t keep the tears from rolling down her cheeks. They pooled against her hands and slipped between the space between her fingers and her face. She was so angry with herself for being so stupid and forgetting that no matter what there would always be a barrier between her and Sasuke.

Strong arms wrapped themselves around her and pulled her into an embrace. Sasuke rest his chin on the top of her head and stood there quietly. Slowly, Sakura wrapped her arms around him and hugged him back, crying softly into his chest.


“Not really,” Sakura sniffed. “This isn’t how I wanted to celebrate your birthday.”

“We technically have another 2 hours until it’s officially my birthday.”

“Well if you wanna get technical then,” Sakura giggled. “What do you wanna do? I can stay up for another few hours easy.”

“We can take a bath,” Sasuke suggested, a teasing lilt to his voice, “in the private onsen the nikai so kindly pointed out.”

“Oh, can we now?” Sakura giggled some more and then sighed. “I’m tired though so can we keep it to just a bath?”

“I never mentioned anything else,” Sasuke feigned innocence.

“It was implied and you know it.”

“Don’t you think you’re overdoing it?” Sasuke raised his voice so that it could be heard over the hair dryer.

Sakura hummed in disagreement and ruffled his hair as she waved the hair dryer over his head. When she was satisfied with the dryness of his hair, she shut off the cordless hair dryer and placed it in her bag. After she had finished drying her own hair, Sasuke’s was still dripping and she needed to intervene.

Slumping against his back, Sakura draped her arms over his shoulders so they slipped down his chest. She sighed dreamily, and nuzzled her cheek against his head. The bath had done its job of relaxing her body after the long trip but what really had relieved her stress was how Sasuke let her do as she pleased in caring for him. He didn’t even argue when she had done the unnecessary task of helping him tie his yukata properly.

“I’m not going anywhere.”

“Huh?” Sakura’s cheeks warmed up as Sasuke pulled her arms off of him to pull her around in front of him. He sat her in his lap sideways. Of course he had figured out why she was taking any opportunity she could find to put her hands on him.

Sasuke wrapped his arms around her and tucked his head into the space between her neck and shoulder. His lashes tickled her skin with every blink.

“I’m not going anywhere,” he spoke against the crook of her neck.

Sakura gave a shaky exhale and breathed in the minty scent of Sasuke’s usual soap that still lingered on his skin.

“What do you want to do? We could go for a walk in town or we could…” Sakura’s voice trailed off as Sasuke tugged on her obi so that it became loose. “Or we could do that.”

“Why did you bother with underwear?”

“W-why wouldn’t I put underwear on?” Sakura spluttered as Sasuke slipped her yukata off of her shoulders. “Can we at least put out the futon?”

“I set it out while you were busy drying your hair.”

“Oh, so that’s why you were still wet even though you got out of the bath before I did.” Sakura giggled as he pressed hot kisses to her shoulder. The scheduling would have been different considering it was a ryokan that catered to vampire guests. “So impatient.”

“Ssshhh…” Sasuke shushed her, ghosting his fingers over her bare thighs. He slipped a hand below the waistband of her panties, skimming past the downy pink hair, and stroked lazily at her folds.

As he set to making her comfortable, Sakura focused on divesting him of his own yukata, a task he complicated by batting her hands away when they got in the way of the attention he lavished her with.

“Sasuke-kun, you’re being difficult,” Sakura accused him when he let her catch her breath. She reached for his obi again, but he shifted to trail kisses between the valley of her breasts and down her stomach. “I’m supposed to be spoiling you, remember?”

“It’s not my birthday yet, you can wait.”

“You’re being incredibly selfish right now.”

Snorting, Sasuke nudged her thighs apart with his shoulders and got to work lapping at her core. Wrapping his arms under legs and back around, he held her down by her waist.

Dragging his lips away from her folds, Sasuke sucked on her inner thigh and Sakura felt a sharp nip on the fleshier part. Sasuke gave a sure lick to the punctures before moving on to the other thigh and giving it the same treatment.

“Turn around,” Sasuke demanded even as he was already bringing her leg over to twist her body around so that she was on her stomach.

“Bossy, bossy.” Sakura wiggled her hips as she propped herself up by her knees and forearms.

“As if you don’t enjoy it.” He went back to stroking her folds, slipping his middle finger into her core and pumping it in and out.

With Sakura turned away from him, he had easy access to one of the more sensitive parts of her body, her back. Leaning over her, he inserted a second finger and thrust deeper as he pressed a kiss first to her nape and then down her back. His pace was slow as he concentrated on feeling the way she trembled beneath his lips.

Keeping her distracted with the sensation of his teeth scraping against her shoulder blades, Sasuke used a single hand to loosen his yukata and pull down on his boxer briefs. Sakura had continued to rock her hips against his hand, the walls of her core clenching around his fingers signaled how close she was to climax.

Swiftly, Sasuke pulled out his fingers and before Sakura could voice a complaint, he thrust inside of her and slowly sank in as deep as he could go. He filled her slowly and she let out a guttural groan at the feeling. Taking hold of Sakura’s hips, Sasuke grinded slowly against her. He slipped a hand around her thigh and reached between her legs for her bundle of nerves and traced lazy circles around it.

“Really?” Sakura huffed, twirling her hips to try and get his hand to shift closer to where she wanted him, but Sasuke evaded her clit. “You’re being a pain in the ass, Sasuke-kun.”

She yelped when he used his knee to spread her legs further apart and began to jackhammer into her. Her hands scrambled for purchase on the futon. Sakura clutched the material and braced herself for the combined onslaught of Sasuke pounding into her while he played with her little hardened nub.

It never came, because as soon as her hips had grown accustomed to the pace he was setting, he turned her so she was on her back. He lowered himself so that his forearms rest by her face, caging her head. Taking the opportunity in front of her, Sakura cupped his face with both hands and kissed him, grateful that he opened up to her tongue without provocation.

They continued at a steady pace until Sasuke adjusted his body so he could glide his hands down her sides and cupped her backside. He tilted her at an angle that had her crying out. Wrapping her legs around his waist, Sakura slipped her arms around his back, nails scraping down his shoulder blades as Sasuke thrust harder and faster to chase his own release.

Warmth filled her and Sasuke slowed his thrusting to a deep grind, holding onto her tight as he spilled completely inside her.

Sakura giggled as Sasuke trailed kisses over her face, still not removing himself from inside of her. She brushed his bangs away from his face and sighed dreamily.

“Happy birthday Sasuke-kun.”

Rubbing her eye with her fist, Sakura slumped into her seat at the donor center. It had been two weeks and she was still having difficulty adjusting back to her schedule after being nocturnal for a week for her trip to the onsen.

The only positive was that she was still on summer break and could use her trip back to her hometown the following week to adjust back to her day time schedule.

“Let’s get your vitals while we wait for the results of your test, Haruno-san.” The medical assistant smiled gently at her as she wrapped a blood pressure cuff around Sakura’s arm.

Sakura yawned for the fifth time during her visit and the medical assistant stopped typing on her computer to give her a concerned look.

“Are you feeling fatigued, Haruno-san? We may need to give you some more supplements and possibly a month break from donor duties.”

“Oh, no! I’m just sleepy.” Sakura smiled reassuringly. “I’ve been staying up late now that I’m on vacation.”

“Well, we will know when your blood results come in if we need to make any━”

“Excuse me?” A second medical assistant knocked on the wall of the cubicle. “May I speak to you for a moment?”

Sakura’s medical assistant frowned but excused herself, stepping away from her station. Sakura swung her feet to distract herself from the low whispers from around the corner. Minutes later her medical assistant came back with a packet of documents and a folder.

“Unfortunately Haruno-san it appears that you will need to cease your donor duties effective immediately.” The assistant handed her the documents she brought in. Sakura quickly scanned the paperwork, her lower lip trembling and her heart beating faster with every word. “We can take care of it in house if you would like, but you don’t need to make any decisions now. We will contact the vampire you are assigned to and let him know that you will not be working as a donor until further notice.”

“May I tell him instead?” The question came out so softly that Sakura wasn’t sure the tech had heard her until she reached over and took her hand in her own and gently patted the top of it.

“Although this usually happens with our married donors, it’s not a rare occurrence so we do have back up plans for situations like yours. Vampires know when they sign on for a warm donor that there’s a possibility that their assignment may change so you don’t need to worry about disappointing your vampire.”

The medical assistant reached over to a drawer under her station and  pulled out a few pamphlets. She looked over them and handed two of them to Sakura.

“We will make arrangements for Uchiha-san. There’s no need for him to know that you will be stepping down as his donor due to pregnancy.”