WFLO Chapter 2

drop me a line on the word vine

💕 Darling 💕: I may have committed crimes last night

🌸 Wifey 🌸: oh no

💕 Darling 💕: Tenten dumped Karin

🌸 Wifey 🌸: OH NO

💕 Darling 💕: So there was drinking involved. So I was drunk.

🌸 Wifey 🌸: How is it that usually you are incapable of getting drunk but somehow you manage to blackout when the four of you go bar hopping?

Water Ho: Do I even wanna kno why u have handcuffs?

💀 Edgelord 💀: ?

Water Ho: Someone handcuffed me to the pipes under ur kitchen sink and I’m pretty sure I’ve been here all nite

💀 Edgelord 💀: You better not have peed yourself


Karin U. changed the group’s name to “FOUR HUNGOVER FUCKS”

The Tolerable Uzumaki: Everyone still alive?

Sasuke U.: unfortunately

Water Ho: W o w

The Tolerable Uzumaki: I woke up in Sasuke’s tub where’s everyone else?

Sasuke U.: …are you still in my tub?

The Tolerable Uzumaki: I cant be bothered to move

The Tolerable Uzumaki: [ATTACH:IMG]

Water Ho: 😂

Water Ho: r u stuck 😂

The Tolerable Uzumaki: Thank Christ Sakura left her spa pillow here last time she visited

Sasuke U.: …and that your midget ass fits perfectly in the tub

The Tolerable Uzumaki: It’s too early for you to be completely intolerable Sasuke

Water Ho: thats just who he *is*


The Tolerable Uzumaki: Why is Suigetsu handcuffed lol

Prettiest Boy: No clue

The Tolerable Uzumaki: Why haven’t you uncuffed him yet

Prettiest Boy: I’m not in my apartment

The Tolerable Uzumaki: You ASSHOLE you left us to go get a burger didn’t you??

Prettiest Boy: No

The Tolerable Uzumaki: Then where the fuck are you?

Prettiest Boy: In the parking lot

The Tolerable Uzumaki: ???

The Tolerable Uzumaki: Don’t leave me on read hoe where the fuck are you

Prettiest Boy: I have no fucking idea why or how

Prettiest Boy: But I woke up in the backseat of my car

The Tolerable Uzumaki: Omg that’s right

The Tolerable Uzumaki: You said you missed your wife and then left

Little Red 💓: Your husband is an idiot

😇 Sasuke’s Saint of a Wife 😇: Sigh…did he get something pierced again?

Little Red 💓: No

Little Red 💓: Maybe

Little Red 💓: I haven’t seen him yet

Little Red 💓: He passed out in the back of his car because he was planning to drive to you

😇 Sasuke’s Saint of a Wife 😇: Oh thank God he passed out



Karin U.: He was locked in his car lol

Prettiest Boy: I wasn’t locked in my car

Prettiest Boy: I was just severely disoriented

Karin U.: Will you come back inside already? Sui is threatening to cook bacon

Soggy Boy: Yeah lol I should never be allowed in a kitchen who cuffed me in one

Prettiest Boy: …when did I get bacon?

Prettiest Boy: Did we steal bacon?

Karin U.: I think we bought groceries last night. Like plural. We stocked the fridge.

Soggy Boy: Whoo! We r productive when drunk

Prettiest Boy: Are we sure we paid? I woke up spooning a traffic cone and 3 wallets

Soggy Boy: Dibs on the wallets

Soggy Boy: Also the cone I might need that

Karin U.: We’re not keeping the wallets dumbass

Karin U.: I’m going to shower and I’m stealing your wife’s clothes Sasuke

Soggy Boy: Lol will they fit

Karin U.: We’re the same height asshole

Soggy Boy: yeah but not the same size ur…smaller

Karin U.: Sasuke, Suigetsu is sexually harassing me AND your wife

Prettiest Boy: Whack him with a pan it’s not like I use them

Sasuke Uchiha: Are you awake?

Sasuke Uchiha: Jūgo we’re going to grab something to eat do you want us to grab you something?

Sasuke Uchiha: Jūgo

Jūgo: Dude

Sasuke Uchiha: Okay wtf has Jūgo’s phone

Jūgo: Lol it’s me Sui

Jūgo: It was in my pocket

Jūgo: 😂😂😂

📷 _whirlygirly_ has added to their story for the first time in a while

😇 Sasuke’s Saint of a Wife 😇: pls send me that pic of Sasuke and the burger thanks 😘

Little Red 💓: It’s kind of sick how much you love him

Little Red 💓: [ATTACH:IMG]

Little Red 💓: I can’t believe this man eats his burger with a fried egg and pico de gallo

😇 Sasuke’s Saint of a Wife 😇: And pepper jack cheese! I eat mine with avocado

Little Red 💓: You guys are sick

😇 Sasuke’s Saint of a Wife 😇: Says the binch that uses a knife and fork


Water Ho: Well Big Man isnt at our apt

Water Ho: How is picking up Karin’s stuff from Tenten’s place going

💀 Edgelord 💀: She threw a toaster

Water Ho: Daaaaamn now i wish i went with her instead

💀 Edgelord 💀: lol just look at my Snapchat story

Soggy Boy: so not only did you throw a toaster but you also knocked over a bookcase

Red Midget: Did you find Jūgo??

Soggy Boy: and we thought Sasuke was the drama queen

Soggy Boy: Remember when he thought Sakura broke up with him and he locked himself in his room and just listened to The Smiths for 4 hours until he found out she didn’t break up with him? AND IT WAS JUST THAT 1 SONG

Red Midget: Did you find Jūgo?

Soggy Boy: depressing fucker

Red Midget: SUI FOCUS

Soggy Boy:

Soggy Boy: that fucking song


Sasuke U. joined the group

Karin U. joined the group

Suigetsu H. changed the group’s name to “Jūgo Search Party”

Suigetsu H.: On a scale from Jūgo auditioning for the university’s acapella group to Sasuke and Sakura eloping and being SECRETLY married for 3 months

Suigetsu H.: How bad was last night?

Red Midget: Mr. Uchiha finding out that Sasuke was in the ER and no one told him bad probably?

Suigetsu H.: How about Great Uncle Madara being in a whole different country without telling his family, bad?

Red Midget: The flowers arriving late for the Obito/Sasori wedding, bad?

💀 Edgelord 💀: why the fuck is my family the scale?

🦈 Sui 🦈: Did Sasuke send you that video?

Mrs. Sasuke Uchiha 💍: Omg yeah

Mrs. Sasuke Uchiha 💍: You guys are being nice, right?

🦈 Sui 🦈: I think Sasuke’s version of being nice involved pointing out that the coffee table was also hers and watching her drag it out the door

🦈 Sui 🦈: She kind of got stuck cuz she had to flip it on its side

🦈 Sui 🦈: But also we’re kind of busy looking for Jūgo

Mrs. Sasuke Uchiha 💍: what do you mean you’re looking for him?

🌸 Wifey 🌸: How drunk did you guys get last night

💕 Darling 💕: I woke up in my car

🌸 Wifey 🌸: And lost your friend apparently

💕 Darling 💕: I don’t understand how this always happens. He wasn’t at the drunk tank. He’s 6 foot 6, how do we lose someone that big every time we get smashed?

🌸 Wifey 🌸: Lol he’s over here. He’s been helping us bake.

💕 Darling 💕: What

🌸 Wifey 🌸: Yeah he showed up confused af

🌸 Wifey 🌸: You also sent me $150 through Zelle and the memo said “don’t let me make bad choices”

“Jūgo Search Party”

Sasuke U.: He’s with Sakura???

The Tolerable Uzumaki: How the actual fuck??

Water Ho: Big Man is where lol

Sasuke U.: Yeah I checked my bank statements because of all of that food in my kitchen and then my Uber account and apparently I ordered an Uber and Jūgo took it

Sasuke U.: No more fucking drinking for us

Water Ho: 😂😂😂

The Tolerable Uzumaki: Hoe you really think I’m going to give up alcohol?? LOL

WFLO Chapter 1


She should have stopped him a few drinks ago.

And all of those shots were definitely a mistake.

Sasuke Uchiha was passed out and Karin wasn’t sober enough to worry about the way she was dragging his body as she pulled him by his legs.

Suigetsu was suppose to be holding Sasuke’s arms but he disappeared once they got outside. Karin wouldn’t be surprised if he got himself picked up and taken to the drunk tank.

I should have stayed home and cuddled with Tenten, Karin grumbled inwardly.

She propped Sasuke up so he was leaning against a streetlamp and sat on his other side so his head could roll over onto her shoulder.

“Ah, shit.”

Karin pressed the power button on her phone two more times, hoping it would come to life. No dice. Her battery had drained a while ago as she overzealously added snaps to her story.

She rummaged through the pocket of Sasuke’s utility jacket and pulled out his phone, glad that he finally switched to a smartphone instead of the flip phone he used last semester.

“Here we go.”

Karin pressed Sasuke’s thumb on the home button on his iPhone and unlocked it. She was originally going to order an Uber to get them to her place but the feeling of tape on the back of Sasuke’s cell phone case was bugging her.

“What the fuck?”

Karin squinted her eyes and then removed her glasses before putting them back on when she remembered that she couldn’t see without them.

“Return…to…Sakura?” Karin frowned trying to remember what she knew about her friend.

They had become part of a group in their first semester when Suigetsu had forced them all to work on a project together. Karin wasn’t friends with anyone in university yet so it helped that Suigetsu dragged Jūgo over to her seat at the lecture hall.

Sasuke had been walking by, probably trying to figure out how to do all of the work on his own, when Suigetsu wrapped an arm around his neck and sat him next to Karin.

They were stuck with each other ever since.

Karin scrolled down Sasuke’s contact list until she found a Sakura with blossom emoticons and a sparkling heart next to the name.


Karin dialed the number and right before she realized what time it was, “Sakura” answered.

“Can’t sleep?” A sleepy voice giggled.

“No, actually, he’s passed the fuck out.”


“Karin. I’m one of his school friends and I was trying to get him home but that asshole Suigetsu ran off on us.”

“And you’re calling me because…?”

“My phone’s dead and I’m too drunk to remember my girlfriend’s phone number and this idiot apparently has ‘Return to Sakura’ taped on his phone so here I am calling Sakura.”

“You sound very coherent for a drunk person.”

“Thanks. It’s a blessing.”

There was a pause and Karin thought maybe Sakura had fallen back to sleep.

“Are you somewhere safe?”

“Yeah, yeah totally.” Karin pushed back her bangs and took a deep breath. “Do you think you could come get us? I just realized the idiot doesn’t have Uber on his phone and I can’t remember my login ‘cause as I have stated earlier, I am drunk.”

“It would take me forty minutes to an hour possibly but yes. Anywhere you could go for now?”

“University Diner is twenty-four seven I could try and get us there. It’s only a block away.”

“Okay. I’ll try and get there as quickly as possible.”

Karin hung up with a sigh and pocketed Sasuke’s phone. She wouldn’t want to be digging for it later.

“I lost my phone.”

Karin jumped, not expecting Suigetsu to say anything since the last time she saw him was in the bar.

“You didn’t have it when we went out. To prevent any regrets.”

“What was ringing in my pocket then?”

“Nothing you nimrod. Where’s Jūgo?”

Suigetsu went silent. If she wasn’t looking at him she would have thought that he passed out too.

“We lost Jūgo.”

What do you mean we lost Jūgo?

“I left ‘im in a safe place after he fell asleep but I can’t remember where…”

“You had one job Suigetsu.”

“To be fair.” Suigetsu took a long pause before his next set of words. “I’m drunk as fuck.”

“I hate you.”

“Yeah, yeah. So what are we doing?”

“We gotta take Sasuke to the diner. Then you’re going to look for Jūgo.”

“Can’t you just drag him there?”

“Grab his arms, stupid!”

It was a total invasion of privacy. She would kill anyone if they did the same with her phone but Karin was one jager bomb too many in to care.

She was feeling wired from the energy drink but also slightly brain foggy and she needed to entertain herself somehow.

Sasuke was the weirdest person she had ever met. He had created folders for everything. Not a single app was allowed to float around on its own unless they were the apps on the toolbar.

She learned a lot about him though. He had one email account for gaming, another for school, and one for social media. Karin rolled her eyes at the fact that he even bothered with social media apps considering he rarely went on them.

She slid down the booth so her head rest on the top of the seat and sighed. Suigetsu went off to figure out where they had left Jūgo so she was stuck alone at the diner with a passed out Sasuke.

Karin balled up the wrapper for the straw for her milkshake and flicked it at Sasuke’s nose. She was already bored with the games on his phone and although his dog was cute, there was only so much cute she could take before she cried because she was still kind of drunk and there was no puppy around for her to cuddle with.

Opening up the Notes app she thought she would find random class schedules and the like. Karin hadn’t expected to find locked notes.

Why would he lock notes?

Karin attempted to open one but it required a password and she couldn’t use Sasuke’s thumbprint to unlock it.

What would he hide? Photos? Sexts???

Karin gagged and put Sasuke’s phone down on the table. She picked it back up again when she realized she could use the contents of the locked notes for blackmail.

Karin wasn’t fond of scooping out the litterbox of the cat Tenten adopted and she could always get Sasuke to do it for her and a bunch of other errands.

But only if she knew the contents of the locked notes.

“Typical,” Karin huffed, blowing her hair out of her face. Sasuke was the type of person that didn’t need a hint to remind him of his password.

She groaned and stretched out her arms on the table top. Next time she was bringing Tenten along. She was her impulse control. Then maybe she would be at home getting smooches and cuddles instead of babysitting a grown ass man.

No. She would have to drag him back to her place where he would be drooling on the comfy couch she and Tenten coerced a salesman to give them at a discount. And then she would be disgusted. So then she would have to draw on his stupid pretty face with a permanent marker.

In fact, perhaps she could get one from one of the waitresses…

“I got here as quickly as I could!”

A pink haired girl plopped down across from her in the booth and brushed Sasuke’s hair out of his face.



“Your hair. Is pink.” Karin’s jaw dropped in fascination. She squinted her eyes and then backed away with a soft, “whoaaa..”

“Oh wow, you are drunk.”

The girl that could only be Sakura waved over a waitress and ordered a tomato mozzarella panini and cheese fries and a strawberry milkshake.

“He’s going to be hungry when he wakes up,” Sakura explained. She grabbed some napkins and wiped the drool from the corner of his mouth.

“Your boyfriend is a hot mess.”

“Well, he doesn’t usually get this drunk. He doesn’t usually drink enough to get drunk.” Sakura’s mouth quirked to the side as she watched Sasuke’s nose wrinkle up when she smoothed his hair away from his face again.

“I should have realized that when after his fourth shot he shouted something about his girlfriend being his impulse control and slammed three more before promptly passing out.”

“Why did you guys go out drinking like this?”

“Well we just finished a paper and this is the first semester we could actually all go to a bar since Sasuke just turned twenty-one. But tell me how you’re his impulse control. He never talks about you outside of the small updates about what he does on breaks and every weekend.”

“How are you this coherent?”

“Like I said, it’s a gift.” Karin propped her chin on her hands and leaned forward on her elbows. “But please tell me more about yourself and Sasuke. I would like to know some embarrassing things about him while you’re here and he can’t stop me.”

“I don’t think I should.”

“Boo, you whore.”

“Excuse me?”

“Do you know all of Sasuke’s passwords?”

“We believe in trust in our relationship. Of course I know his passwords. We have nothing to hide from each other.”

Karin pulled out Sasuke’s phone and flipped it around to face Sakura.

“Then do you know the password to his locked notes?”

“What are you doing?”

When Suigetsu returned to the diner━without Jūgo━Karin was scribbling on a napkin and the girl on Sasuke’s lockscreen was sitting across from her sipping at a milkshake. Sasuke was still passed out except now he was propped up against his girlfriend and drooling on her shoulder.

“We’ve tried like every possible password Sasuke could have used but we can’t unlock this folder of notes.”

Suigetsu looked at Sakura and then back at Karin. He looked at Sakura again for a full minute before holding out his hand.

“Give me the phone.”

“Okay but if we can’t figure it out how are you going━”

“Got it.”

Karin’s jaw dropped as Suigetsu slid the phone across the table. Where the gray lock screen was before was a picture of Sakura looking out a car window.

“What was it?” Sakura asked, eyebrows pulled down in frustration. She should have known him best.

“Bro code.”

“You still unlocked it, Sui.”

“Yeah but I’m not telling you what the password was.”

“Like you would remember it later anyway.”

“Probs not. That was a shot in the dark.”

Karin started scrolling down and was confused the further she scrolled. They were all just normal candid photos of Sakura. Why would he━


All of the patrons of the diner turned to look at the source of the screaming. Karin shot them all a glare.

“What? What did you find?” Suigetsu attempted to grab the phone from her hand but she slapped his hand away.

“Not for your eyes!” She snapped at him.

Karin broke her glare to peek back down at the phone but then looked back up, her cheeks turning a blazing hot pink. She looked over at Sakura and shielded her eyes with a hand.

“I’m so sorry,” she muttered, handing the phone back to the source of her new discomfort. “The first set of pics looked so normal. I didn’t think he would have those.”

“Sasuke’s got nudes!” Suigetsu gasped, a giant grin spreading on his face. He pointed at Sakura and guffawed. “Her nudes!”

“Will you shut up!” Karin yanked on his shirt hard enough for him to fall into the booth. She looked over to Sakura who had gone paler than she already was.

Sasuke continued to snooze away on her shoulder despite all of the noise.

Karin hadn’t expected to meet so much of Sasuke’s girlfriend on their first meeting.

“I can show you my tits if that would make you feel better,” Karin offered.

“No thank you. I think I should just take you all home now.”

“Sui. Where’s Jūgo?”

“Oh shit! I knew I forgot something.”

Covenant Chapter 4

Chapter Four: New Arrivals

Everything about the mundane world was loud and bright.

Sasuke exhaled through his nose harshly and crossed his arms in front of his chest. He decided right then and there that he didn’t like malls.

“Dude. You have got to relax.” Suigetsu’s voice was thick from the frozen treat he kept stuffing into his mouth. “Get some froyo.”

Sasuke rolled his eyes and went back to his current task: keeping an eye on Sakura. She had dragged him to the mall with Karin and Suigetsu because, in her opinion, he needed to get out more.

With the exclusion of Karin and her familiar, the Hebi coven had returned home a few days after the dinner party. Their High Priest, Orochimaru, had made themself scarce after the dinner, only spending time in their hotel suite or with Lady Tsunade and Dan. Even if Sasuke had the chance to speak with them, he had no real plan beyond blunt questioning to get the answers he seeked.

Out of the corner of his eye Sasuke caught Suigetsu inching closer to a trio of girls chatting away. He reached over and grabbed him by the back of the collar of his shirt and pulled him back. As much as he didn’t care what the man did, Sasuke did care about minimizing Sakura’s stress. If Suigetsu tried anything, Karin would get pissed off and she had a short fuse that had her beating Suigetsu and triggering his liquefying abilities.

“You’re such a killjoy,” Suigetsu muttered.

Ignoring him, Sasuke turned his attention to Sakura who finally exited the body care store she and Karin had spent the past hour inside of. Karin thrust her bag at Suigetsu’s chest and hooked her arm with Sakura’s.

“I’m not your gopher.”

“I am literally feeding you today so make yourself useful and just carry the bags.”

Blocking out the sounds of their bickering he gave Sakura a look and she interpreted it correctly when she told him they had one last stop and then they could go home.

“You need a cellphone if you’re going to be living here.” Sakura grabbed onto his hand and led him towards a store that, fortunately, was clear of people. The shop’s walls were lined with display cases holding cellular devices.

“I have my summons for messages. I don’t need a phone.” Sasuke paused and looked at their hands, fingers laced together, comfortable and warm. “And you don’t have to pull.”

Shaking her head, Sakura insisted that he needed a cell phone. She explained that they were more practical and pushed him away from the cheaper flip phones. He just needed a phone to make or receive calls but Sakura scoffed and found him the same model phone that she had.

“A smartphone is what you need.” She balled her hands into fists and planted them at her hips. “It has apps for navigation and stuff which you need.”

“I have summons for most of that.”

Sakura scoffed, blowing her bangs out of her face in frustration. She crossed her arms in front of her chest and narrowed her eyes up at him. “You’re being difficult. You need a phone and I’m getting you one. Think of it as an early birthday present.”

“Don’t remind me,” Sasuke muttered as Sakura ran off to speak to one of the sales associates.

Usually his birthday was a big affair for the clan. It was one of the days where the focus was all on him and it made his skin itch when all of those eyes were on him. He wouldn’t be returning home for his eighteenth birthday and he had hoped his role as a familiar would be enough of an excuse.

His mother had been upset and her hawk summon nipped at his ear when she had brought Mikoto’s message to him. The letter was lengthy as all of her letters were and its contents had put him on edge.

A member of his retainer would be joining him in the mundane realm and Sasuke knew, he just knew, who exactly would be sent to him. He had barely read his cousin’s name when his mother’s hawk vanished into air before he could send her a reply.

He attempted to send messages using his own hawks but no answer returned until his father sent one of his crows demanding that he stop his foolishness.

In the mundane realm with Sakura, despite not being human, he was just an average teenager but there were times he was reminded that he was exactly what Kakashi sarcastically called him: a young master.

“We should lounge around the pool later,” Karin suggested, reattaching herself to Sakura’s side. Sasuke’s head throbbed every time she wrapped her thin arms around Sakura and pulled her away from him. “Luckily I brought my swimsuit. I need to work on my tan before we have to go back to our stupid underground base.”

He wondered if it was a familiar thing to feel so attached. His brother at one point had an unhealthy devotion to his warlock and now, although it wasn’t toxic, his affection for his witch and her familiar was so strong that at times it felt as if his covenant was all that mattered in the universe.

“You’re all bones.” Suigetsu mockingly gagged. “No one wants to see that.”

“Shut up, Suigetsu!” She rammed her fist against his shoulder and Suigetsu had to force himself not to let the limb burst into a splash of water.

Even with Sasuke’s limited experience with familiars, Suigetsu was a welcome exception to the rule. He was still Karin’s partner but he antagonized her at every turn. Whatever force that bound them together couldn’t force affection.

Sighing, he flexed his fingers on the hand that held Sakura’s only moments ago. It would have been a lot easier if he could just blame the covenant for whatever it was that caused the flutterings in his stomach.

Sakura shifted her gaze from Sasuke’s scowl and back to the tall stranger with the toothy smile. They had been staring at each other for the past ten minutes and she had to wonder if the man’s face was hurting from all of the smiling.

“Go home,” Sasuke finally snapped. He crossed his arms in front of his chest and glared at the man that introduced himself as his cousin.

“You know I can’t do that,” Obito practically sang.

Sakura and Sasuke had entered Tsunade’s manor for a day of lessons only to be met with an exasperated Shizune waiting for them in the foyer. She led them to the conservatory where a tall man dressed in navy blue hakama pants with a long nosed goblin mask on his head was perched on the back of one of the couches. His large black wings were folded behind his back.

They were pitch black like his and Sasuke’s hair and extremely different from Sasuke’s wings. Sasuke’s wings were a lovely chestnut color, speckled with white and black and lined with silver.

Sakura suddenly felt bad for not knowing more about tengu and Sasuke’s family. She had no idea why their wings were so vastly different and if that was significant of anything.

“You’re not staying.”

“That’s not up to you Sasuke-bocchama.”

Kakashi burst into a fit of laughter from his seat in one of the wicker armchairs. “I was kidding but you really are a little master, huh?”

Obito turned his grin towards Kakashi. “He’s the next head of the Uchiha clan.”

“This is fucking hilarious,” Suigetsu said thickly. Sasuke scrunched up his nose in disgust. Why was he always eating or drinking something?

“Don’t you have somewhere to be?” Sasuke snapped at him. This whole situation was testing his patience.

Suigetsu shrugged. “Not really.”

Ignoring him, Sasuke turned his attention back to his cousin. “Why are you here? I’ve been fine on my own.”

“Be glad it’s just me.” Obito held up his hands in defense. “It could have been all of us.”

“All?” Sakura interjected, confused.

“My personal retainer is made up of seven of my clansmen, including Shisui whom you’ve met.” Sasuke’s voice took on a sharper tone when he redirected his attention back to Obito. “We don’t have room for you.”

Obito raised a brow at him and then gestures to the manor. “No room? In this giant house?”

“Sasuke, doesn’t live in the manor,” Shizune explained. “Sakura lives in her family home and commutes for her lessons.”

The grin slid off of Obito’s face and his jaw dropped as he shifted between looking at Sasuke and Sakura and back. Sakura looked over at Sasuke with concern when he groaned and pinched the bridge of his nose.

“Don’t even think about—“

“You’re shacking up with your word weaver!”

Sakura and Sasuke instantly began protesting over the sounds of Suigetsu’s guffaws.

“Man,” he swirled his spoon in his bowl of cereal, “Karin picked the wrong day to go to the spa.”

Sasuke barely looked up from Sakura’s book on arithmancy when he heard her murmur. She had fallen asleep during their tutoring session, her head falling against his upper arm.

It had been a long day for the both of them with the arrival of his cousin. It had been absolutely embarrassing to have to explain to him his living situation in front of not only Kakashi and Shizune but Suigetsu as well which meant Karin would know exactly what had happened even if Sakura didn’t tell her.

In the end, Obito was given a room in the manor. Sasuke spent most of his time there anyway so it was the best decision. He didn’t want the Haruno family to have to deal with yet another guest in their home and to have to deal with yet another extension charm to house Obito.

The manor was large enough and had enough rooms that Obito wouldn’t be noticed if he kept to himself.

“It’s not just a house,” Sakura had explained to him before their study session. “It’s the Senju School for the Healing Arts. It operates like a boarding school like most academies, but most of our students are temporary. The healing arts are extremely difficult to master and most witches choose not to learn them unless they are trying to rise in ranks. Shizune and I are the only witches that have been the true students of the school and that have entered the coven.”

“Is that why the Hebi coven is much larger?”

“Yes. Lord Orochimaru can be just as discriminant as Lady Tsunade but our numbers are much smaller because not everyone can perform the advanced healing arts. Even with a familiar, the control and concentration required make the spells nearly impossible to cast.”

“But you were taken as a student before you summoned me.” Sasuke watched as the corners of Sakura’s lips curled upwards. “And you were already casting spells for it?”

“Any other Elder would have seen my blood status and turned me away before even trying to test my control over my mana, just send me off to another academy.” Sakura had scowled before it melted into a proud smile. “Not Lady Tsunade. She saw how much I wanted it and let me join her school and then eventually, her coven.”

Sakura was lucky enough to live in the same city as the Senju School. She told him that Tsunade saw no reason why an underage witch shouldn’t have the comfort of living with their family. At the moment she was seventeen and even though that made her an adult amongst word weavers, she was still a minor in the mundane world.

She had also explained that in the region they lived in he would be officially an adult without the perk of being able to legally obtain alcohol. Sasuke had rolled his eyes at her and said, “what’s the point of being an adult then?”

Moving carefully as to not wake her up, Sasuke grabbed his new phone and opened up the application for the Internet. Sakura had helped him set everything up and showed him how to use Google to search for things.

Sasuke was tempted to let his brother know that he had a cell phone now. Itachi didn’t have a phone but he knew that Izumi did, even though she couldn’t use it anywhere near their mountain and valley. She had to travel a distance and find other settlements before she could send a text or make a call. But perhaps now that he had his own phone his family could be convinced to deal with a cellphone tower. Sakura could probably fix up his phone to work across realms.

But then again, would he be able to deal with his family calling every day? Sasuke shivered, thinking about how he would be hounded every day.

Sakura shifted and Sasuke stilled, body tensing. She had gotten more comfortable in her sleep and had curled her arm around his, cradling his arm against her chest.

It was fine that she wanted to speak to him late at night. It was fine when she sat with him on his bed, close enough for their knees to touch. It wasn’t new that Sakura would study until she fell asleep reading, but this was an intimacy that Sasuke couldn’t afford.

Her lashes fluttered and she sighed in her sleep as she nuzzled her head against his shoulder. Sasuke had to wake her up. Sleeping in his bed couldn’t become a habit.

There was a level of comfort between them that the Sasuke of four months ago would have been repulsed by. He had loathed word weavers and now he was letting one cuddle with him in his bed.

It was far from proper what they were doing, but he at least knew that his cousin Obito wouldn’t rat him out to anyone else. The younger generation didn’t flaunt it but they didn’t care for propriety the way the older generation did.

And he could always blackmail Obito into silence. He had a lot on his older cousin he could use.

Nudging gently with his shoulder, Sasuke attempted to wake Sakura up. “Sakura.” he reached over and pinched her cheek. “Sakura.”

“No,” she whined and held onto his arm tighter. “Warm.”

“I need my arm back and you need to go to your own room.”

“Spoilsport,” Sakura grumbled but loosened her hold. She blinked dazedly at him and stretched her arms over her head. “I was very comfortable. You should have just carried me to bed.”

A rush of heat crawled up Sasuke’s neck. “You’re heavy.”

Sakura blew a raspberry at him. “I am not,” she replied hotly, more alert. “You catch me without breaking a sweat.”

“That’s due to bursts of adrenaline to save your dumbass before you break something.” Sasuke jabbed at her forehead with his index finger. “Now go to sleep.”

“That’s what I was doing.”

“In your own bed. Or do you want them to make more comments about our living situation?”

Sakura scrambled off of his bed, cheeks flushed a hot pink color. “Okay, you’re right. I’m off to bed.”She gathered her tome and sheets of paper and bid him goodnight.

As soon as Sakura was out and shut the door behind her, Sasuke flopped backwards onto his bed with a sigh. The warmth of both of their bodies and Sakura’s scent lingered on his duvet.

“You’re pretty good at this.” Sakura nodded with approval as Sasuke trapped Obito’s pieces on the shogi board. “If Temari visits us, you could probably challenge Shikamaru a little.”

“God I hate playing with him,” Karin grumbled. “I think I’ve only won, like, once when we were fifteen.”

It was the day before Karin and Suigetsu were due to return back to the Hebi coven’s base and the teenagers just wanted to lounge in the conservatory. Sakura and Karin had collected plants for her to take back home and Sakura had used it as a chance to give Sasuke a lesson on “green” magic.

At some point they decided to take a break and Obito had brought out a shogi board. The man was happy-go-lucky so Sakura hadn’t expected him to be ruthless when it came to his challenges. She would have to message Temari and tell her she found her familiar some competition.

“Hello,” Kakashi greeted, slinking into the conservatory in his cat form and curling himself on Suigetsu’s lap. Suigetsu immediately started scratching the back of Kakashi’s ear without missing a beat in stuffing popcorn in his mouth. “If I were you all, I would steer clear of Lady Tsunade and Shizune today.”

“Uh…” Sakura blinked owlishly. “Why?”

“Because━” an explosion went off in the distance, interrupting him. “That’s why.”

“That wasn’t an explanation!” Sakura snapped at him. “Should we go check on that?”

“Trust me,” Kakashi drawled, stretching his paws and getting more comfortable, “you would rather not.”

Sakura opened her mouth to retort but closed it when Karin placed her hand on her shoulder in a comforting matter. She tapped her glasses with her index finger and then shut them. Sakura watched Karin scrunch up her face and then scoff.

“Great,” Karin opened her eyes and rolled them, “another visitor and I’m going to miss all of the drama.”

Sasuke perked up at the mention of another visitor. When the Hebi coven had come to visit, Shizune had stressed out preparing for the visit a whole week. She had just spoken to all of them an hour earlier and hadn’t mentioned that they were expecting anyone to come the manor.

“Are we—?” Suigetsu asked but was cut off by Sakura.

“Let’s go see who it is!” She squealed and jumped up from her seat, obviously excited. “Maybe it’s a new student. I could have an underclassmen.”

“It’s an upperclassmen,” Kakashi burst her bubble. She pouted, crossing her arms in front of her chest. “Actually, the last time he was a student here, you weren’t even born yet.”

“Who is it?” Sakura turned to ask Karin whom had her eyes closed again and had her face pinched in concentration.

“Red hair. Tiny as hell. Like smaller than me probably—“

“Not possible,” Suigetsu deadpanned. “Are you really scrying right now? You just described yourself.”

“And a blond. Long hair. And fire?” Karin opened her eyes. “Lots of fire.”

There was another explosion and the fire alarm rang and Shizune burst into the conservatory. She picked up Kakashi by his neck and shook him.

“You were supposed to entertain Deidara!”

“Do you know how bad burnt fur smells?” Kakashi squirmed in her hold, shifting back into his human form.

Curiosity getting the better of him, Sasuke caught Sakura’s eye and the two of them took off down the hall, looking for the new arrivals. Karin chased after them, huffing.

“Upstairs!” She shouted and they stormed up one of the twin staircases that led from the foyer to the second floor. “Down the hall in the office.”

The three of them skidded to a stop as the door to Lady Tsunade’s office opened inwardly and the High Priestess stepped out glaring at all of them. She raised her hand up and Sasuke felt all of his muscles tense up. He attempted to move but his body wouldn’t respond.

She had frozen them.

“Why are you running in my house?” She glared at all three of them before her gaze landed on Sakura, demanding an answer from her.

“We heard an explosion.”

“That happened in the front hall, not my office.” Tsunade turned her attention to Karin. “You dare to spy into my private office, Uzumaki?”

Tsunade flicked her on the forehead and Karin broke out of the enchantment that had her frozen and clutched her forehead.


“And you.” Tsunade shifted her focus on Sasuke, an eyebrow raised in confusion. “I didn’t take you for the nosy type. That’s kind of interesting.”

Sasuke scowled, heat rising to his cheeks. Tsunade was only a few years older than his father and when she looked at him with that expression it felt like he was being scolded by a parent. It made him feel like a child and reflecting on his behavior he had been acting pretty childish.

As embarrassing as the slip was, it was also a little liberating.

“Lady Tsunade?”

The three teens turned to face the stranger that just stepped out of the office. A man of about Karin’s height with red brown hair in a slim fit all black suit stared impassively at them. Right behind him followed a slightly taller, androgynous teenager with long blond hair, a mischievous smirk gracing his face. Unlike his companion, he was dressed more casually in a singed cropped top and jeans that were ripped at the knees.

“Children.” Sasuke scoffed, which earned him another glare from Tsunade. “This is Sasori of the Akatsuki coven. He and his familiar will be staying with us as he trains to take up the post of High Priest for his coven.”

Sasori gave them a bow, it was only a slight inclination of his head but Sasuke found himself returning it.

“And that is Deidara or as I will now be referring to him as ‘the reason we will be reviewing fire safety.’”

“‘Sup.” Deidara nodded upwards at them, sticking his chin up.

“He’s around your age—well, close enough since he’s barely twenty—so I hope you all will get along.” Tsunade looked exhausted just from introducing him. “Hopefully now that he has peers in his age group to hang out with, my house has a greater chance of not being destroyed. Again.”

Again? Sasuke narrowed his eyes at the hand Deidara offered to Sakura in greeting. Smoke rose from his palms.

“I make no promises,” Deidara chirped.

Before Sakura could return the gesture, Sasuke grasped his hand and shook it, extinguishing the sparks Deidara was releasing as he tightened his grip. The shorter familiar’s face twisted into a pout as he realized his prank had been prevented. Sasuke squeezed his hand one more time in warning before letting go.

He was going to have to ask Sakura if there were any spells to fireproof an entire building.

Day’s Notes: Momyr on twitter made a beautiful fanart for this fic and I just needed to update this fic. You should check it out! You can find it in my likes on twitter. My handle is pain_somnia.

Updating this earlier than I usually would when I post publicly but it’s my birthday so why not share it? lol

Differential Chapter Thirteen: Stuck (Again)

Chapter Thirteen: Stuck (Again)

Sakura sighed, pushing her head back against the pillow she lay on and exposing her neck in the process. She giggled when Sasuke latched onto it with his lips. He continued to trail kisses up her neck to her jawline, pressing them all over her face.

“Hey…” Sakura whined softly causing him to laugh through his nose before he gave her what she wanted and pressed his lips to hers.

Sasuke caged her head between his forearms, holding himself up with them so he wouldn’t crush her. Sakura loved when he did that. She felt so safe and cared for, especially when he curled the strands of her hair around his fingers as his mouth moved languidly with hers.

“Hey,” Sakura breathed out as Sasuke caressed her nose with his own, “do you think your parents are up yet?”

She stroked his ribs lightly underneath his shirt, bending her knees to pull him closer to her. Sasuke dropped his weight and grinded his hips against hers, rubbing his hardness through their clothes. He pressed even harder against her when she hooked her ankles together on the small of his back, causing a moan to roll from her mouth onto his tongue.

“They probably won’t wake up for another hour or━”

“Sasuke? Honeeeey?”

“Or now,” Sasuke groaned, dropping his head into the crook of Sakura’s neck and shoulder.

“She probably saw your car sitting out front,” Sakura whispered. She raised her hips to meet his and continued to grind them together.“Do you think if we’re quiet she’ll think you’re sleeping and leave you alone?”

“Maybe.” His breath hitched when Sakura’s hands wandered down to stroke his lower stomach near the band of his sweatpants. “What? You’re not ready for her to start stuffing you with breakfast yet?”

“I just want to make out with my boyfriend.” The corners of her lips twitched around that last word. Boyfriend. Sasuke Uchiha was her boyfriend now. Unable to contain her glee, a smile spread across her face. She slipped her hands past the waistband of his boxers, gripping the base of his shaft.

“Keep that up and it won’t end at just making out.”

Sakura giggled softly as he groaned against her shoulder. She tugged on his cock and he kissed anywhere his mouth could reach with approval.

“Sasuke?” They heard Mikoto call for him, much closer than before.

Sasuke rolled over with a groan. “Can you go distract her? I’m going to the bathroom to take care of this.”

Stretching her arms, Sakura sat up and patted herself, making sure that her pajamas were properly on before grabbing his hoodie from its place on his chair and slipping out of his room.

“Sakura!” Mikoto wrapped her arms around her shoulders and hugged her as soon as she reached the bottom of the stairs. “I didn’t know you were coming back home this weekend. Good thing I cooked a lot. Where’s that boy?”

“He went to the bathroom. Said he would be down soon.”

“Huh?” Mikoto quirked an eyebrow up. “Usually getting him up before eleven is a struggle. Oh well, let’s eat up. I swear you’re always so much skinnier when you come back from school.”

Sakura took her usual seat at the breakfast table and let Mikoto pile eggs and turkey sausage on her plate. She hummed at necessary intervals as Sasuke’s mother chatted away, answering any questions directed towards her.

There wasn’t much of a change to how things usually were. This was how Sakura always interacted with Mikoto. It wasn’t even strange that she had slept over the first night of the weekend when she visited. Mikoto didn’t even question why she was wearing Sasuke’s white and navy blue striped zip up hoodie.

It was just an ordinary Saturday morning in the Uchiha household. Ordinary to everyone that wasn’t Sakura.

After her declaration the night before, Sakura was fully prepared to be rejected. Love and sex didn’t have to go hand in hand. Just because it did for her, it didn’t mean it did for Sasuke.

“Me?” Sasuke had cupped her face in his hands and rubbed circles with his thumbs on the sensitive skin under her eyes. “You have me.”

“No, like,” Sakura licked her lips, “actually have you. I want all of you.”

But he had responded with tender kisses and telling her that she had him for as long as she wanted him.

There was no sex last night and Sakura was sure it had something to do with what they had discussed before that, but Sasuke still held her and kissed her and there was nothing to complain about. Not when he made her feel like she was everything.

“‘Morning,” Sasuke greeted them and took the seat closest to Sakura. Nothing out of the ordinary there. His designated seat had always been right next to her.

“Mwuah!” Mikoto grabbed his face and placed a loud kiss on the top of his head. Sasuke grumbled at the contact but made no move to pull away. “Good morning, my love. You’re up early.”

“Someone wouldn’t let me sleep.”

You’re the one that woke me up.” Sakura nudged him with her foot under the table. She had been so warm and comfortable and would have kept sleeping if it weren’t for Sasuke poking her.

Mikoto chuckled softly, pouring herself some tea. “You two are like an old married couple.”

Sakura chose the wrong moment to take a gulp of orange juice and began choking. Sasuke thumped her back lightly until she held her hand up and told him she was good.

Sasuke’s mother had always made comments like that. It started from when she was five and forced Sasuke to play house with her. It got to be embarrassing when Sakura was fourteen and attempting to hide her crush on her son, but now it was awkward because Sasuke had only been her boyfriend less than eight hours.

The both of them had decided to keep it a secret that they were together until they were both back at their university. Being back home for the weekend meant they didn’t have to worry about their friends impeding on their time alone and if their parents found out there wouldn’t be any alone time at all.

“After you finish eating, you’re going to want to clean the snow off of your car, honey.” Mikoto gave him a sympathetic smile. “It will just make it harder to deal with if you wait.”

Sneaking her hand under the table to grab Sasuke’s, she held onto two of his fingers and squeezed lightly. “I’ll help,” she muttered.

“You don’t wanna go home?” Sasuke asked softly, brows drawn together in confusion. Sakura simply shook her head. No one would be home and she wanted to drag her time with Sasuke out as long as possible.

It was a selfish desire she used to make excuses for in the past. Comparing test results, making sure they didn’t do the same project for class, no one was home and she needed to come over, was sent over to help with something, etc. But now she didn’t have to make up any excuse.

A girlfriend could spend time together just because they wanted to.

And she was going to milk that as much as possible.

“Asshole!” Sakura shrieked, shivering as the snow slipped down her back. Quickly, she crouched down behind Sasuke’s car and packed snow into a ball before popping back up and flinging it at her traitor boyfriend.

She had been so kind as to help him free his car from all of the snow only for him to lift her up and throw her into the snow on his front yard. It was soft and she didn’t feel any pain on the landing but it was freezing. It had led to them chasing each other around. Sakura was smaller and her feet easily stuck in the half foot of snow, causing her to constantly fall down.

“Shit!” Sasuke slipped on a patch of snow on the recently exposed asphalt. Taking advantage, Sakura took some snow and pushed it onto his face, completely covering his glasses.

Blindly he stood up and shook the snow off of his glasses. Glaring at her, he stormed ahead, chasing the only bit of color he could see moving in the white world his poor vision created.

“Alright, that’s enough,” Sakura held up her hands defensively. “Sasuke? Sasuke, no! Game over!”

She shrieked yet again, laughter mixing in with her screams as he scooped her up and tossed her back into the snow.

“I win.” Sasuke smirked triumphantly before peppering her face with icy kisses.

“You’re a pain in the ass.”

“Uh-huh,” he murmured, his kisses warming up the more he pressed all over her face.

“Worse than Naruto.”

“Okay, that’s just insulting.” Sasuke withdrew from her and fell on his back. The both of them laid there on his front yard in comfortable silence.

Sakura’s let out a shaky exhale and groped around, reaching for Sasuke’s hand. As soon as she grabbed his jacket, he adjusted his arm so that she could slip her fingers into the spaces between his own.

Eventually the cold would become unbearable, but for now all she wanted was to exist in the moment.

The back of his neck felt cold. He should have ignored his mother, but when he was getting ready to head over to Sakura’s house she called him into the kitchen and sat him down for a haircut. He was lucky enough to escape with the bangs that fell over the left side of his face but his mother gave him no choice about the rest of his hair.

Pulling off his beanie, Sasuke ran a hand through his spiky hair. His head felt so much lighter. It was going to take a while to get used to having short hair again. But it would probably take less time than how long it took to get used to Sakura’s hair changes.

He sat at the bottom of the staircase and untied his boots. He set them neatly by Sakura’s wet sneakers and her wet clothes piled on the tile at the front entrance. She must have stripped completely naked as soon as she got home when they split up to take hot showers after messing around in the snow.

Sasuke scooped up the wet clothes and grabbed Sakura’s laundry bag that she brought from school and took them to the laundry room. He had just started a load of wash when he heard Sakura’s soft footsteps on the kitchen tile.

“Oh, thanks!” She thanked him, beaming up at him and Sasuke had to swallow. Sakura had flounced into her kitchen, barefoot and wearing nothing but tiny pink cotton shorts that peeked from below the white sweatshirt he had loaned her before winter break.

The combination of his old school sweatshirt from when he played basketball and her long hair was enough to remind him of what he wanted so much when he was seventeen. Back before he fucked up and made the wrong decision because he didn’t want to risk anything.

“Wow, I must have taken a longer shower than I thought.” Sakura giggled, standing on her toes and sinking her fingers into his freshly cut hair. “I haven’t seen your hair like this in a looong while.”

“Uh-huh.” Sasuke placed his hands on her hips and lifted her up on top of the dryer. He knew just how long. He had started growing it out around the same time Sakura had chopped all of hers off.

Right after her final recital.

“I brought your stuff over,” he mumbled, cupping Sakura’s elbows. She reached over and hooked her fingers through the belt loops of his jeans. She tugged him closer until he stood between her legs.

“Kind of wish you didn’t.” Sakura scrunched you her nose in distaste. “Now I have to pretend I actually care about working on my paper when we could just fool around all day.”

“You want to goof off?” He slid his hands down from her elbows and onto her thighs. He rubbed the tops of them, finger tips flirting with the hem of her shorts.

“Not like that,” She laughed. “Unless you wanna hop back in the shower right now. Karin says shower sex is shit but that it’s the cleanest for period sex.”

“Oh. I didn’t know you were, uh, on it.” The night before they had kept their touches to sweet kisses that punctuated their discussion. Sasuke had set up boundaries for the night.

“Unfortunately, I’m synced up with Ino. It just started.” Sakura rolled her eyes and hopped off the dryer. “Come on. We can hang out in the living room.”

Sakura’s definition of hanging out involved straddling him as he sat down on the wingback armchair in the living room. It was the same armchair Sasuke used to claim when the two of them and their friends hung out in her living room. The chair he used when his family was invited over.

God. He wasn’t going to be able to sit in this chair normally again.

“You don’t have to do that.” Sasuke wrapped his fingers around her wrist, halting her hand in its path below the band of his jeans.

With her free hand Sakura unbuttoned his jeans. “I know.” She pressed a wet kiss right below his jaw. “I want to.” She dragged her lips down his throat, sucking and nipping. “So let me do what I want Sasuke.”

“Well, alright,” Sasuke groaned as she wrapped her hand around his cock, “if that’s what you want.”

Sakura stroked him, building a nice even rhythm, dragging her thumb across his slit in the upstroke and smearing his precum on his shaft to assist in the glide of her hand. When Sakura tightened her fist, Sasuke took hold of her hips and gripped them tightly as his hips thrust upwards into her hand.

With her free hand Sakura cupped his face, keeping her mouth on his as his moans rolled against her tongue. 

Sasuke could almost feel himself toppling over the edge. Just a few more pumps, a thrust or two and—

“Did, did you just stop?” Sasuke stammered, eyes wide in shock.

“Yup.” Sakura nodded and cradled his face in both of her hands and kissed him slow and deep. “Relax. I’m going to finish you. Eventually.”

“Are you really trying out edging right now? In the middle of your parents’ living room?”

“Maybe.” Sakura’s shoulders shook from restrained laughter. “You’re honest to God pouting right now!”

“Finish me off.” Sasuke scowled, the back of his neck heating up. He wasn’t pouting!

“We have time.” Sakura sighed and wrapped her arms around Sasuke’s neck. “I’ve always wanted to do this.”

Sasuke sighed, his head falling back against the top of the armchair. “Frustrate me sexually?”

“No!” Sakura twirled the short strands of hair on the back of his neck with her fingers. “I meant like,” Sakura licked her lips, “we would tell our parents we had a project or something but really we were just sneaking kisses. Or we would offer to run to the store when they forgot something but really we just wanted an excuse to be alone without them watching us and being, you know, them. Is that weird?”

No, it wasn’t. Because that’s exactly what Sasuke had wanted for them. Back in high school. Now. He had known Sakura had been interested in him for a while but she made it sound like…

“How long have you wanted that for?”

“Hm?” Sakura cupped the back of his neck and leaned in so that she could rest her forehead on his. “It’s kind of embarrassing to be honest. Fourteen maybe? I don’t know. I know in middle school I started thinking about it more ‘cause that’s when everyone started pairing off but when I started to take it more seriously, I started realizing that for me I could only think about you and well, that was frustrating as hell…”

Frustration was something he could relate to. He had years of dealing with the irritation of wanting something he shouldn’t. That same frustration had him focusing on ways to avoid her instead of on something more progressive in regards to their relationship.

He was such a dumbass in high school. He had deprived himself of so much.

Sakura wrapped both her hands around his shaft again and started to stroke him.

So, so much.

“You’re so dirty.” Sakura’s giggles were muffled against his shoulder.


“I mean, you’re mostly incoherent but you say some things that are just absolute filth.” At the confused scowl Sasuke gave her she rolled her eyes. In a breathy voice she moaned in an imitation of him, “Tighter…tighter like your—“

Sakura gasped into his mouth when he shut her up with a kiss, cradling her face in his hands. There was a stutter in her movements as she returned his kisses with just as much hunger. Sasuke couldn’t even feel disappointed when she dropped his cock in favor of looping her arms around his neck and pressing her body closer to his as if she needed to anchor herself.

“You’re going to get dirty doing that,” Sasuke warned her as Sakura took to rubbing against him. His precum continued to dribble out, spreading all over the front of her cotton shorts.

“Hm?” Sakura murmured from the crook of his neck, pressing wet kisses. “I’m fine with that.”

Alright then. Sasuke’s hands slid down from her ass to the backs of her thighs and kept her pressed against him as he stood up from the armchair and carried her to the couch. He nestled between her thighs and went back to kissing her long and deep.

Sakura sighed softly into his mouth and he felt a tingle run down his spine causing him to grip tighter onto the strands of hair curled around his fingers. He liked the way the pink strands looked wrapped around his long fingers. Liked how Sakura’s green eyes sparkled a little more, full of mirth and warmth, when he curled his fingers in her hair and stroked her cheeks with his thumbs.

“I started realizing that for me I could only think about you and well, that was frustrating as hell…”

So much fucking time wasted, Sasuke huffed inwardly. He palmed a small breast, swirling his thumb around a peaked nipple. Sakura gasped when he scraped his teeth against her neck. She wasn’t going to be happy when she found all of the kiss marks he was leaving behind, but Sasuke couldn’t find it in him to give a shit. If she didn’t want to be completely marked up she shouldn’t make all of those encouraging noises.

“Stupid period,” Sakura grumbled before letting out a keening moan. Sasuke snorted, his restrained laughter fumbling the rhythm of his thrusts. He continued to rut against her clothed core, feeling very much like a high school brat as he pressed her deeper and deeper into the couch.

“Pad or tampon?” He asked her, hand stroking the skin around her navel, brushing against the jewelry dangling from her bellybutton.

“What?” Sakura’s face scrunched up in confusion.

“What are you wearing?”

“Tampon, but why do you need to—“

Sasuke slipped his hand under her shorts and underwear. “‘Cause then we don’t have to worry about a mess.”

He couldn’t insert his fingers, but luckily for him—and Sakura—playing with her clit would be enough.

“You don’t have to do that.” Sakura smiled shyly up at him, batting her lashes at him. “I was just fine with you, you know…”

“What? With me dry fucking you into the couch?”

“That!” Sakura pointed at him, completely ignoring the fact her shirt—his technically, but she could keep it—was bunched up over her breasts. “That’s exactly what I mean when I say you’re dirty.”

Sasuke rolled his eyes and ignored her arguments, simply continued to press her deeper into the couch until she was unable to speak anymore. Her breath hitched and she clung tightly to him, moving against him. He slipped his hands under her ass holding her tighter against him as he grinded against her, sensing his release approaching fast.

“Shit! Sorry.”

“At least you didn’t get the couch.” Sakura scrunched up her nose at the mess that was now on her thigh, shorts and stomach. She glanced over at Sasuke and burst into laughter at the panicked expression on his face. “You should see your face. I’m going to take another shower. Although…”

Sakura swung her feet around and hopped off the couch. She shimmied out of her shorts and handed them to Sasuke.

“You can wash those. I’m going to go clean up.” She blew a raspberry at him and shuffled towards the stairs in only her underwear and keeping the shirt away from the mess on her stomach and thighs. He heard her mutter as she  stomped up the steps,“I can’t believe you came all over me. ”

Sasuke laughed through his nose. Leave it to her to act all huffy and make him take care of her laundry. Using the other side of her shorts, Sasuke cleaned himself before tucking back into his boxers and jeans.

“Wash them in the sink first!” Sakura shouted over the sound of the shower running.

Rolling his eyes, Sasuke headed to the sink in the laundry room and got to work cleaning her shorts before the semen could dry up and make it more difficult. As if he didn’t know how to take care of this kind of a mess.

So demanding.

For a moment he forgot how much of a bossy little princess Sakura was. Vividly, a memory of her in one of her recital outfits and a tiara as she stomped her tiny feet to get her way came to mind.

He knew that she would be like this. He had known her for over thirteen years and knew his girlfriend could be as bossy and annoying as she was sweet.

Girlfriend. His girlfriend.

Sasuke grabbed a stain remover from a shelf above the machines and sprayed it on Sakura’s shorts and let them soak.

It seemed the universe did in fact align in his favor. He was going to continue being stuck to Sakura Haruno, but at least now it was in the way he actually wanted to be.

Kingdom For Two Chapter 26

Chapter 26: And So Life Goes On

On Mondays she had three classes. Always early to rise, Sakura did the ill advised thing and chose morning classes. She went to her lectures, met up with Ino and Naruto who would just be arriving on campus and ate lunch with them while Naruto scrambled to finish up whatever assignment he had due that afternoon. She would see them off to their classes and then headed to work.

On Tuesdays she had two more classes and a lab and then headed to the library, sneaking Karin in occasionally so they could study together and so Karin could feel like she wasn’t alone during the week when she was going to the community college.

Wednesdays were the day that she had her Monday classes again and then also had to go to UNIV in the afternoon. On those days she didn’t have work but she, Ino, and Naruto met up with Sai and they laughed at Naruto who was in the middle of Rush week.

Thursdays were a repeat of Tuesdays except it was study group day so they met up at Suigetsu’s apartment for study group time which then turned into movie nights.

On Fridays Sakura had one morning class before she went to work for a few hours and then spent the rest of the day on all of the work she needed to get done before the weekend was up.

Even with doing her work throughout the week the only way she could have her weekends free was if she sacrificed the time she spent with her friends. She would do it. Sakura would spend less time with them if it meant she had free weekends to drive to visit Sasuke.

But he wouldn’t agree to that.

Sasuke had told her that she would make herself miserable if she didn’t see her friends. She would start to feel even lonelier than she already did with him two hours away instead of right next door.

So she went to school, met up with their friends, picked up some shifts at work, and studied. She studied and studied and studied until she couldn’t close her eyes without seeing formulas floating behind her eyelids when she closed her eyes.

Everyday she woke up and went through her same routine. The day didn’t stop, her schedule was never interrupted. School, study, work, friends, repeat. School, study, work, friends, repeat.

And every second of every day she missed him. The ache for him was set deep in her bones. But no matter how much she missed Sasuke, time didn’t stand still in his absence. The Earth kept spinning on its axis, the sun kept rising and falling.

Sakura thought the hard part about being apart would be missing him, wanting to see him and touch him. She hadn’t predicted that the part that would hurt the most was realizing that life would carry on without him as if he weren’t a missing piece in her world.


Ignoring her mother’s call, Sakura continued marching up the stairs and locked herself in her room.

“Sakura Haruno, you need to eat!”

“I’m not hungry!” Sakura shouted back, pulling her sweater over her head. She ran her fingers through her hair to tame any flyaways. She was already late as it was. She settled at her desk and smoothed down her camisole and adjusted her bra.

Sending a quick text to Sasuke she made sure her laptop was set up and ready for their video call.

“I know, I’m late,” Sakura greeted him as soon as his face popped up on her monitor. “Stupid Naruto needed help with his research paper and I swear it’s easier to give a cat a bath than it is to get him to open a book. His professor is insisting on at least two resources that aren’t online ones.”

“How did Naruto get into college again?” Sasuke drawled. He shifted his body so that he was lying down on his side.

“That may or may not have only been possible because of the help of a couple of friends of his,” Sakura teased. “You did help tutor him.”

“I’m surprised he hasn’t had a break down yet.”

“Haha..right…” Sakura averted her gaze and bit her lower lip. The truth was that Naruto did have a break down. She and Ino hadn’t realized how stressed he had been for a few weeks because he was always so upbeat and energetic whenever they met up with him.

They had all agreed not to bring it up to Sasuke because he already had enough on his plate; he didn’t need to worry about Naruto when he was all alone and Naruto was surrounded by his friends.

“So how’s your week been?”

“Please don’t word it like that,” Sasuke groaned on his end. “Dr. Yamanaka does that and it’s getting irritating as fuck.”


“Sorry. It’s been shit. My roommate happens to be the only person in the world that hates music and he’s obsessed with the Hurricanes.”

“No,” Sakura gasped, appalled. The Hurricanes were the rival team to her favorite hockey team. “How does someone not like music?”

“I don’t know but he bitches whenever he hears our neighbors playing it and I would much rather listen to loud music playing than fucking. And they’re always fucking.”

“Oh gross.”

“We’re in the mountains so there’s not much to do unless you can get into the bars so guess what most of the assholes here are doing if they’re not studying?”

“I don’t wanna think about it. I’m just picturing one big nerd orgy.”

“I’m just glad my roommate doesn’t bring anyone over.”

“Speaking of your roommate,” Sakura twirled a strand of hair with her finger. “When does he get back? Do you think—“

A loud knock on her bedroom door interrupted her and she jumped.

“Young lady, you need to eat,” Mebuki called out between knocks. She flinched at the glare Sasuke sent her way.

“I was going to have dinner later,” she said hastily.

“For someone that’s always lecturing me about my eating habits you’ve really been slipping if your mother is home to make sure you’re eating meals.” Sakura dropped her head on her desk and groaned. She covered her head with her arms. “I don’t wanna hear about you passing out when I’m two hours away and can’t do anything about it.”

“Naruto told you, huh?” She peeked up from under an arm.

“Ino actually. She’s convinced that you’ll listen to me.” Sasuke sighed and ran his hand through his hair. “Just go get your food and we can video chat while you eat.”

Opening her bedroom door, Sakura found her mother standing outside of it with a tray in hand.

“He’s not the world,” her mother whispered. “One night of not talking to each other won’t kill you but continuing to miss meals will.”

“He’s not the reason I forget to eat,” Sakura muttered. And it was the truth.

Between work and studying and classes, Sakura was constantly on the move and too distracted with everything to remember to eat. She would be deep into writing a paper and not even notice the grumbling of her stomach.

It should have been more obvious of a problem when her jeans stopped fitting around her hips and were slipping off. It shouldn’t have taken her collapsing and stumbling in the middle of the library before she realized she had a problem.

“So when are you coming to visit again?”

“This weekend. I have an appointment with Dr. Yamanaka and I’m staying the night ‘cause my mom wants to send me back with a bunch of food.”

“Would you have time to hang out?” She picked at her noodles. “Naruto has been planning a surprise visit to you.”

“Should you have told me about the surprise?” Sasuke flipped through a textbook, the corners of his mouth slightly upturned as he listened to her talk. “I’m still technically in trouble for running off on everyone.”

“That was like a month ago and you’re at university, how can you be grounded?”

Sasuke shrugged and continued flipping pages. This is why Sakura preferred to video chat. Sasuke could be on the line for a long time but he had periods were he didn’t have the energy to talk.

“Well, I can always sneak out anyway.” Sakura set aside her half finished plate. “So, again, when is your roommate supposed to get back?”

“Are you really that horny?”

“Yes,” Sakura groaned, dropping her head onto her desk. “It’s been a month. You should have waited for me to be done with work before ”

“Just wait a few more days. That’s what I’m doing.”

“Oh, so you thought I would just have sex with you as soon as you came home, huh?”

Sasuke gave her an unimpressed look. “Oh? And why do you keep asking where my roommate is?”

“Shut up.”

They stayed on the line talking until Sasuke noticed her nodding off and decided that it was time for her to go to bed. It was one of the reasons why he preferred when she used her laptop instead of her phone when they video called each other. Sakura would always try to stay up late and then go to class with only an hour or two of sleep and it was easier for her to get away with doing that if she was using her phone.

“Goodnight, Love,” Sakura murmured and waited for Sasuke to settle into bed.


The last thing she saw was Sasuke pulling a pillow to his chest and curl up under his covers before hanging up.

The week was taking too long.

Sometimes the days blurred together and it felt like there wasn’t enough hours in the day but then there were times that they dragged and didn’t seem to end.

This was one of those weeks.

Sasuke was sure that the weekend only felt like it was taking forever to be reached because he was actually excited. Usually the only good thing about the weekends were that he was promised an entire morning to sleep before he had to drag himself to the library to work on an assignment or to meet his project group.

His parents weren’t too happy with how little he visited. The last time they saw him he was only staying for a bit before he had to go to his appointment with his therapist and then he had to head back to college to work on a project.

If he had purposefully left his flash drive back in his dorm, who would know it?

Trying to spend as little time as possible at home was greatly affecting his ability to spend time with his friends. It had been weeks but Sasuke was still feeling off about being around his own family. It was awkward having to relearn how to navigate through his relationships with every member.

When his mother called to check up on him she always insisted that some of the questions had come from his father. Sasuke didn’t believe her, but he didn’t say anything about it. It wasn’t the way his father was.

Sighing to himself, Sasuke hopped off of his bed and pulled out a long case from the storage space under his bed. He unlatched it and pulled out the keyboard from inside.

Sasuke was starting to realize that sometimes people used words to express what they feel━people like Naruto who forced the world to hear their every opinion and thought. There were people like his mother and Sakura who used soothing touches and gentle, honest words.

Itachi was the kind that hid things to protect you, that was his kind of love. Kizashi Haruno expressed his love through laughter and food. Mebuki with harsh reprimands full of concern.

But that wasn’t Fugaku Uchiha.

Sasuke sat at his desk chair and let his fingers dance carelessly across the keys of his new electronic keyboard. He played a senseless melody before settling into a familiar tune.

Love wasn’t just one universal language. Everyone spoke a dialect of their own and sometimes it was translated into phone calls or video chats. Sometimes it came in care packages of muffins.

And sometimes it came in obnoxiously large and heavy deliveries waiting in the dorm lobby to be picked up.

Mirepoix Chapter 5

Chapter Five: Rice Porridge

With a small whimper, Hinata wrapped her fingers around her mug and took a delicate sip of tea Sakura had prepared for her. From her seat at Sasuke’s kitchen island, she observed the way Sakura easily moved around his kitchen.

Has she been here before? She thought, taking the aspirin Sakura offered her. Sakura slid a bowl of congee her way and Hinata sighed, warming her hands on the hot bowl.

“Marry me,” She murmured, grateful for the warm food. “Wait. Do you know how to make red bean soup?” Sakura nodded, the corners of her lips twitching upwards. “Okay, yes. Please marry me.”

“You’re very easy, Hina,” Sakura teased.

“And yet I’m still having issues with Naruto,” Hinata couldn’t help but grumble as she stirred the contents of her porridge, breaking her yolk and stirring it into the rice. “Okay, this is probably the best congee I’ve ever had. I didn’t know you could cook.”

“I think you’re just hungry and hungover.” Sakura laughed nervously, eyes shifting from Hinata to down the hall where the shower was running. “If he asks, you cooked. Okay?”

Hinata giggled lightly into her mug. “Yeah. As amazing a pastry chef I am, I can’t cook savory food to save my life. At least nothing up to Chef Uchiha’s standards and this would definitely pass. You should have made French Toast if you wanted to pass the food off as mine.”

Sakura groaned and turned to clean up the kitchen. She knew as soon as Sasuke found out that she could cook that she would never hear the end of it.

When Sakura was younger she wanted to be a figure skater and she was good at it. She took to the ice like she was meant to dance on it, blades a perfect extension of her body. Unfortunately for her, the fees were too much for her parents. They owned a small Chinese restaurant and any extra money they had went back to the restaurant or to Sakura’s college fund.

Sakura grew up in that kitchen. As a middle school student she helped her mother run the front of house and as she got older, she helped them out in the kitchen. Originally her parents wanted her to inherit the shop, but Sakura’s desires were elsewhere.

It wasn’t that she hated cooking, but it reminded her so much of that little shop and being bullied for the food she brought to school for lunch and the smell that clung to her clothes and hair. To her it smelled of home. To other kids…

It was easier just to avoid it all.

Sakura moved to settle into a bar stool to eat her own breakfast when the door to the bathroom opened up. Sasuke came out, towel wrapped around his hips, and he was ruffling a towel through his hair. She watched as the muscles of his back, especially his shoulders, moved under his skin causing the ink on his skin to shift.

A small cough had her whipping her head back around, away from the hallway. Hinata innocently sipped at her tea.

“Sorry, by the way.” Hinata drummed her fingers against her mug. “Like, if I crashed in on anything last night. You guys really are cute, that wasn’t just drunk rambling.”

Sakura sputtered, spitting out her tea and burning her tongue. “Sasuke and I aren’t like that! You didn’t interrupt anything, trust me.”

Hinata pursed her lips and frowned at her. Hinata might have been drunk the night before, but she wasn’t blind nor was she deaf. The two of them had been flirting━flirting! And yeah sure, Chef Uchiha was the most attractive human being she had ever seen but he was terrifying and cold. Flirting with him would be as easy as trying to have a playdate between a mongoose and a cobra. But there was Sakura, having proper conversations with him that weren’t work related and he was personally cooking for her.

“You do know that no one else calls Chef Uchiha by his first name, right?” Hinata rubbed her temple. Her headache was only getting worse with how in denial Sakura was. “Not even Neji calls him just Sasuke, even though I’m sure that’s more of a professionalism thing.”

“Naruto definitely has called him Sasuke.”

“That’s because Naruto is rude as heck. I love him, but you already know he doesn’t have the best track record with manners. He calls Ms. Tsunade Old Lady, for goodness sakes.”

“This is probably the firmest and most informal I’ve ever heard you speak to anyone.”

“Well I’m hungover and I’m annoyed.” Hinata’s head thumped against the marble of the counter top. She mumbled against the cold material, “I’m jealous. I can’t even get Naruto to take me on a proper date and you’re flirting with our boss in his condo and he’s cooking for you and giving you his clothes to wear. Which you’re still wearing by the way.”

Sakura laughed nervously and tugged at the hem of the shirt she had borrowed. The shirt completely dwarfed her and the v-neck collar would have hung low on her chest if it weren’t pulled in a way that left a shoulder bare. Hinata rolled her eyes. The girl looked like she had just spent the night in Chef Uchiha’s bed instead of on his couch.

“‘Morning.” Sasuke chose that moment to walk into the kitchen wearing almost the exact shirt that Sakura was and a pair of basketball shorts. He noticed the spare bowl of congee on the counter left for him and his brows furrowed. “Hinata didn’t cook this, did she?”

“That’s just insulting,” Hinata mumbled against her mug, averting her gaze. She didn’t like drawing attention to herself when it came to Chef Uchiha but there was nowhere to hide in his apartment. If she was lucky Sakura would provide enough of a distraction.

Sasuke barely acknowledged her and poured himself some tea. “I’m going for a run by the fish market. Do you need a lift home?”

“No, I’m good.”

“Sakura it’s fine. I can always drop you off after. I just have to go see what the catch is.”

“I can take the train. No worries.

 Sakura waved off his attempts to make sure she got home safely. Hinata rolled her eyes and blew her bangs out of her face. It was like she wasn’t even there.

“I called for a towncar,” she interrupted them, setting her mug down on the counter. “I can get Sakura back to her apartment.”

Hinata was going to be dead on her feet when she had to get to the restaurant in a few hours to start baking the bread for the day. She really needed to lay of the alcohol.

She eyed her boss and then Sakura and how they were barely looking at each other. Something was up with the two of them. It wasn’t really her business what they got into when they were alone but their behavior was suspicious, especially Chef Uchiha’s, and it was almost amusing to watch.

Almost. It was also kind of pathetic. She was glad they at least decided not to get into anything while she was down the hall with an already queasy stomach. Because—yet again—as beautiful as her boss and Sakura were, it wasn’t something she would want to hear and then be forced to picture.

I’m too hungover for this. Hinata spooned the last bit of rice porridge into her mouth. Really, if Sakura could make her some red bean soup she might just give up on Naruto all together and fight—although not literally—Chef Uchiha for the honors.

Hinata hopped off the bar stool and took the empty bowls to the sink. “Thank you for the congee again, Sakura. It was delicious, I hope you to try more of your cooking another time.”

Turning back around she was met with Sakura’s horrified expression and an amusingly shocked look on Sasuke’s face.


Ino usually preferred not to hear any shouting or yelling. It was always so peaceful right before real work actually began. She kind of missed the days when Sasuke actually had a day off. If it was quiet and he was at work the kitchen was typically the worst place to be in the world.

But this was a weird quiet. And it was freaking her out.

“Boss?” Ino waved her hand in front of his face. She needed to know what was on the menu for the day and how the kitchen was going to function.

Sasuke looked away from his desk and blinked at her. Ino was just about to grab Tsunade when he finally spoke up.

“How long have you known Haruno?”

“Sakura?” Ino wasn’t proud of how high her voice went up but it didn’t stop the maniacal smile from spreading across her face. That wasn’t what she expected for him to say but hey, she was curious as to why the two of them were being so weird the last two weeks.

“Never mind. Forget it,” Sasuke spat.

“Oh, no!” Ino shut his office door and blocked it. He wasn’t running away from this. “Why are you asking? Sakura? I’ve known her since we were like in diapers. Our parents were shop neighbors. Why are you asking? Why are you asking? Why?”

“Jesus, Ino.” Sasuke’s eyes went wide. “Breathe.” He ran a hand through his hair. “So you’ve known her a long time.”

“Yep! She’s the reason I realized I wanted to be a chef.”

Sasuke blinked at her in confusion but he was no longer attempting to escape his office. “Explain.”

“Sakura had some difficulty with food. Refused to eat, was always dieting.” Ino shrugged. “I didn’t want my best friend to waste away so I started making some stuff…I liked the way it felt when she finished her meal.”

“Oh. I thought maybe she taught you how to cook.”

“Sakura can’t make western food,” the words rushed out before Ino could reign them in. She realized her mistake too late and tried to turn and flee. Her attempt was cut off when a large hand slammed the door closed.


“So how was Valentine’s Day?” Sakura asked Sai as she picked up her drink order.

“Thanks again for the pudding,” was all Sai gave up about his evening. He gave her one of his unnerving smiles he flashed her way when he wanted to end a conversation and with that Sakura turned to take care of her tables.

The dinner shift was relatively peaceful. As peaceful as they could ever be considering they were a Michelin star restaurant with a heavily award nominated chef. At least it wasn’t a holiday.

There was just one thing that bothered Sakura the whole night.

When Hinata dropped the ball earlier that morning, Sakura had panicked. She was expecting a bunch of questions or judgement of her food. So she left.

She barely got dressed—threw on her jeans and grabbed her boots and coat—and hightailed it out of there without waiting for Hinata and her towncar.

It wasn’t until she was in the train and five stops away already that she realized that she was wearing his shirt still. She had stuffed her shirt and bra into her backpack and fled the apartment.

The night was almost over and Sasuke hadn’t mentioned anything about what had happened in his apartment. It seemed she would be in the clear as long as she headed home with the rest of the staff.

That was her exact plan. She was going to grab her stuff—not bother to change out of her uniform—and just march out. Sakura doubted Sasuke would be interested in making her anything ever again, especially now that he probably thought she was simply lazy.

“I’m too tired to take the bus today,” Ino griped. She pulled her bandana off and tossed it into her locker. “Wanna splurge for a taxi with me and Sai?”

Sakura was just about to agree when her name was called. Even Ino stopped in her tracks, eyes wide and mouth hanging open.

“Sakura,” Sasuke called again.

“Um? Sas—Ino! What are you doing?” Sakura hissed under her breath as Ino nudged her from behind.

“I’ll see you later,” Ino replied and rushed out of the kitchen.

That little—! She’s so going to get it later, Sakura inwardly fumed. She looked around for help and spotted Naruto who looked back and forth between her and Sasuke. She was just about to thank a higher power for his nosiness when Hinata of all people had grabbed his arm and dragged him away.


“Walk me home, Naruto.”

Naruto didn’t need to second guess his decision, especially not when Hinata was clearly giving him an out for the great offense he wasn’t even aware he had committed.

What the fuck is going on today!? Sakura gaped at the retreating couple. She looked around and realized they were the only two left.

Alone. In the locker room. The same locker room she had flashed him in.

I’m going to fucking choke. Sakura grimaced, bracing herself for whatever it was that Sasuke wanted. She couldn’t believe her friends and coworkers had just abandoned her. “Yes, Chef Uchiha?”

Sasuke opened his mouth and closed it. It should have been simple, just thank her for breakfast and move on. It should have been simple, but then Ino had to make a big production out of the whole thing by leaving without her.

He was still trying to process what she had told him earlier as well. Sakura━nurse in training Sakura━came from a culinary background. The same Sakura that would eat cans of corn or freshly baked bread for the bread baskets and call it a day.

She walked into work eating cups of easy mac ‘n cheese like it was the best thing ever for fucks sake.

“Breakfast,” he grunted. Sakura raised an eyebrow warily at him. “It was okay.”

Sakura frowned, lips twisting. “It was okay?”

What did she expect him to say? Sasuke sighed and rubbed his temples with his thumb and ring finger. It was simple, plain boring congee but it was the first time in forever that someone had made him a warm breakfast that he didn’t sit down and pay for━even if he was only an afterthought to Hyuga and her hangover.

And it was good. And warm. And like home.

Shaking that last thought from his mind, he tried to get back to the conversation. “Yamanaka says your parents own a restaurant.”

“Ino shouldn’t have said shit,” Sakura snapped. Sasuke was taken aback by the forcefulness of her words but one quick scan of her face and he could see the trembling of her lower lip and realized her words were defensive.

“Just…thanks. For breakfast.” Sasuke didn’t want to get into whatever it was that had her upset about her parents’ shop. From what Ino had told him there was only happy, warm memories of doing homework in a corner of the shop and stuffing their faces with homemade food. But that was from Ino, of course. It wasn’t Sakura’s feelings about the place. “I thought you didn’t know how to cook.”

“I never said I didn’t know how to cook.” Sakura shifted on the balls of her feet, adjusting her backpack’s strap on her shoulder. “I just don’t cook.”

“Hmm.” Sasuke crossed his arms in front of his chest. He leaned back against the door frame and looked down at her lazily. “Then again it was only rice porridge. Not that difficult to make now is it?”

She narrowed her eyes at him. “What are you getting at?”


He could see her visibly bristle at the implication he was making. It was amusing how rattled she got about an insult to her cooking skills when she refused to cook in the first place. Ino had mentioned that Sakura had a bad habit of sticking to instant food or things that required the most minimal amount of prep.

But if he was right━and Sasuke was confident he was━then Sakura was a cook. And with being a cook, especially a good one, there was an arrogance that was hard to escape. Even if all one made was the simplest, easy to eat meal.

Much to Sasuke’s amusement, Sakura was pretty easy to bait. He could read her thoughts easily, her eyes didn’t hide anything.

“Just because it’s not your fancy,” Sakura used air quotes to emphasize her words, “French cuisine, it doesn’t mean what I can make isn’t excellent.”

Ah. And there it is. “Prove it.”

Sakura glared at him, green eyes blazing. It really shouldn’t be so easy. A normal person wouldn’t rise to it but━

“Fine,” Sakura spat. “I’ll show you.”

Let Me In

Sasuke hated text messages.

They could be convenient, especially because he and Sakura were still living in different time periods of the day, but other times they were just confusing.

Whatever you do, don’t answer calls from the center or listen to their voicemails. I need to speak to you first.

That was the first message Sasuke read in the evening when he woke up. He had noticed the missed calls and text messages from other people but Sakura’s were always first priority. Which is exactly why he ignored the missed call from the center and voicemail.

He had called Sakura right away but she had told him that she needed to speak to him in person. There was a stuffy, thick quality to her voice that made his stomach ache from worry. She hadn’t been crying during the phone call but Sakura had been crying earlier.

“Go home,” Karin snapped, snatching the folders from off his desk. “I’ll file your stuff away but get the hell out of here. Your anxiety is nauseating, you stink.”

“Fuck off,” Sasuke muttered, checking from his peripheral if anyone had heard Karin’s comment.

“This has something to do with your human, doesn’t it?” Karin clutched the folders close to her chest. “She’s okay, right? Humans tend to get sick so easily.”

“She’s fine just…” Sasuke ran a hand brought his hair recalling how easily she had been falling asleep, “more fatigued than usual.”

“Stop drinking so much of her blood then.”

“I don’t think that’s the problem.” Sasuke sighed and looked at his phone. Maybe if he slipped out he could give Sakura a call and convince her to tell him what was wrong. Or take a longer break.

Karin clucked her tongue at him. “Just go. I’ll cover you here. It’s not like anything has happened all night.”

“Call me if anything comes up.” Sasuke shut down his computer. Knowing Karin, she was likely to only call him if someone in the building was dying. One of the leftover symptoms from her long dead amorous affections for him was the preferential treatment she usually gave him. If he didn’t want anyone to bother him, Karin would make sure no one did.

It was a lot easier to be friends with a snarky Karin than an overly flirty one.

“Yeah, yeah. But you still gotta introduce me to your human. I’m dying to meet her.”

Sasuke offered her a soft smile. Sakura shared the same sentiment and, really, the two of them were likely to absolutely love each other and end up close friends.

That was fine with Sasuke as long as Karin and Konan didn’t try and get her to dress like them. As completely unaffected as he was by Karin’s slim figure or even Konan’s much more voluptuous one, he felt that it would be sweet torture to see Sakura parade around in a cropped top that revealed her taut stomach or a mini skirt so short it could pass for a belt.

Just the thought of her had him missing her all over again. They had been back from their trip only a few days and he was already suffering from withdrawal. He had planned to finish his shift and make his way to her apartment to get his fix of her, even if all he could do was sneak into her bed and curl his body around hers for a few hours as she slept.

Sasuke was tempted to stop by his apartment and pick up some more of his things and prepare to camp out at Sakura’s apartment until she visited her family. They found out that he technically wasn’t allowed in her human apartment building but as long as his name wasn’t on the lease, Sasuke was simply the man that came to spend nights with his girlfriend.

No one needed to know that the man was of the fanged variety.

Life would be easier if she moved in with me.

“Oh, fuck me.”

Sakura closed her laptop and pushed it away. Despite the emotional rollercoaster that had been her afternoon, she had fallen asleep quite easily when she got home from the center. Upon discovery that her tiredness was a symptom of being pregnant, Sakura woke up from her nap ready to do some research.

From what she had read, a vampire pregnancy was almost identical to a human pregnancy. There was of course the differences in diet—Sakura had expected as much. She was not prepared for how much sleep pregnant vampires required. They practically went through a period of hibernation.

There goes my plan of finding a part time, Sakura groaned inwardly.

She knew she was going to have to drop out of school, especially now that she was no longer going to be receiving funding from the center, but she had hoped that she could pick up work part time so that she could keep her apartment.

Looks like I’m not just visiting next week but moving back.

Sakura fell sideways on her couch and curled inward. A hand slid over her lower abdomen protectively.

“We can take care of it in house if you would like, but you don’t need to make any decisions now.”

She didn’t need to think long about what she wanted to do. Sakura hadn’t even stepped foot out of the center and she knew that without a doubt she wanted to see the pregnancy through.

Reading the results of her lab work, the only thing that had made Sakura nervous was the wine she had drunk throughout her trip with Sasuke and the few beers with dinner she had knocked back the weeks before. She was sure it wasn’t an amount that would cause any damage but it was still something she felt stupid about.

On the train ride home, Sakura couldn’t help but calculate the expenses that would be coming. She had sent a quick text to Sasuke about needing to talk and immediately began doing the math.

It wasn’t until she was two stops away from home that she realized she had been calculating without taking in Sasuke’s income into consideration.

It wasn’t that she doubted that Sasuke loved her—she just wasn’t sure if Sasuke would want to have a hybrid child with her. The two were completely exclusive from each other.

Considering the world they lived in and the issues of segregation of the species, Sasuke may very well have planned to never have children with her. Why subject a child of theirs to the cruelty of the world?

But I love them.

Their child was a speck, only a couple of weeks old, but Sakura loved them as soon as she saw her hCG levels on that piece of paper. They were her, they were Sasuke, they were love. And she would welcome them into the world even if Sasuke was against it.

She tried to strengthen her resolve and tell herself that she could handle it if he preferred she aborted—that he would have no part of the difficulty of raising a half vampire, half human child. She tried to tell herself that, but her chest ached and her eyes stung from imagining Sasuke’s rejection of the physical manifestation of their union.

I guess it’s a good thing I’m going home for Obon, huh?

All she wanted was to be wrapped up in one of her mother’s home knit blankets with the promise of her father’s homemade dandan noodles—she didn’t even care how spicy it would be, she just wanted home.

“Mama will probably freak out when I tell her that Sasuke-kun has been a vampire this whole time,” Sakura muttered into one of her throw pillows.

There was a soft click from the door to her apartment. She sat up and saw Sasuke slip out of his shoes, stumbling slightly from his haste. Sakura had barely begun wiping her cheeks with the back of her hands when Sasuke was already sitting on the edge of the couch, replacing her hands with his.

“I wasn’t expecting you so soon, Sasuke-kun. I thought you had—“

“I dipped out early.” Sasuke stroked her cheeks with his thumbs, resting his forehead on hers. “Are you okay?”

Sakura sniffed, blinking away tears. “You didn’t talk to the center?”

“You said you wanted to talk to me first.”

Sakura let out a laugh that was broken by a sob she couldn’t reign in. She wasn’t sure that she would have had the same restraint as Sasuke if the roles had been reversed.

It was strange. As soon as she heard the news, she had committed to her decision and had started making plans. She had come to terms with her pregnancy and nothing was going to make her change her mind. Sakura repeated the words to herself and had even prepared a speech for her parents and for Ino.

But now she couldn’t find the words.

Closing her eyes and taking a deep breath, Sakura grabbed one of Sasuke’s wrists and pulled it away from her face. She flattened his palm with her thumb and placed it on her lower stomach. Slowly, opening her eyes she watched as understanding dawned on his face. First his eyebrows scrunched down in the adorable way they did when he was confused and then his eyes widened, mouth falling slightly open as he stared at their joined hands transfixed.

“Birth control pills are ninety-nine percent effective,” Sakura explained. “But considering we’re one of those rare vampire and human couples we should have expected to be that one percent.”

“This is why you wanted me to ignore the calls from the center.” It wasn’t formed as a question but Sakura nodded her head regardless.

“I thought you would freak out when they told you they would need to find you a new donor.”

“I wouldn’t want a new donor anyway. I can survive on cold donations.” Sasuke sat back, pulling her along with him so she settled in his lap. “You stressed me out. I thought you were sick or something.”

“You’re taking this surprisingly well.” Sakura pulled slightly back to narrow her eyes at him. He had begun to rub soothing circles to the small of her back, cradling her body against his.

“It was inevitable.” Sasuke smirked at her, chuckling at the drop of her jaw. “The wrong order, but come on Sakura. As if I would want this with anyone but you.”

Sakura buried her face into the crook of his neck and grumbled, “I was so stressed and you’re acting like it’s nothing.”

“Well it’s not nothing.” Sasuke buried his fingers in her hair and massaged her scalp. Sakura murmured softly, content with the small gesture of affection. “But my sister-in-law is a Daywalker. It wouldn’t be the first hybrid in our family.”


Sakura shifted on the balls of her feet and combed her fingers through the ends of her hair, twirling the strands so they formed curls that rested against her shoulders. She took a deep breath in and exhaled slowly.

“The longer we stand out here, the later we’ll be, Sakura.” Sasuke sighed and shifted the box holding the gift of wine Sakura had brought with her to meet his parents in his arms. He was going to need the wine after his mother found out that he had knocked up his girlfriend.

“You’re going to be just as nervous when we tell my parents next week!” Sakura snapped at him, closing her compact mirror. “You try being the pregnant out of wedlock human girl in this scenario.”

Sakura turned the corner to head to the front gate but then swiftly turned bout almost knocking Sasuke into the high wall that shielded his family home.

“And I know you said your family came from old money, but really this is not what I expected,” she hissed, pointing at the compound walls.

“Yeah, great-uncle Madara didn’t hold back on the extravagance.”

“Stop being so nonchalant about this, Sasuke-kun!” Sakura huffed. She dusted the front of her qipao style fit and flare dress. “Do I really look okay?”

“Good enough to eat,” Sasuke replied dryly.

“Oh, you think you’re so funny.”

“Sakura. You’re so worried about making a good impression, but you’re making us late and my father is strict about punctuality.”

“I’m freaking out, okay!” Sakura wiped her hands down her cheeks. “You said the only one I have to worry about is your uncle, right? But he might not be there?”

“Probably not.” Sasuke stuffed his hands into his pocket and leaned against the wall, giving up on being on time. “Not sure what would bug him more: the human thing or the half Chinese thing.”

“Oh, great. So I’m double screwed.”

Sakura started pacing back and forth, muttering under her breath and second guessing their decision to inform their parents. When she mentioned something about moving to a secluded small seaside town or to the country, Sasuke wrapped his fingers around her forearm and led her to the front gate.

“Come on, my mother is probably freaking out thinking that you decided to dump me instead of having dinner with them.”

Sasuke pulled her arm so that it was looped through his and clasped his hand over hers when it settled on his elbow.

Sakura scowled as she glanced around the compound the deeper they went. “It’s like a small town here. Is that a river?”

“It’s a creek. Once we cross that bridge, it’s just a short walk to the main house.”

Sakura leaned into him, looking around warily. “I haven’t seen your apartment yet and I’m already glad that you live there instead. This place is kind of intimidating.”

Sasuke snorted. “You’re not even afraid because you’re surrounded by a clan of vampires, but because of how wealthy they are.”

“Well when you put it that way it does sound silly.”

He patted the hand that rest at his elbow to soothe her and led her through a grove of trees that blocked the main house from the rest of the buildings for privacy.

They had barely passed the last line of trees when they heard a cry of “Sasuke-kun!”

“What was━” Sakura couldn’t get the question out before she was tackled into a strong embrace by someone. It was no wonder Sasuke had insisted that he carry the gift for his parents.

“You’re so cute!” A woman who looked no older than thirty with a similar face to Sasuke’s gushed, pulling back only for a moment to look at her face before she was wrapping her arms around her again.

“Um, I━” Sakura squeaked when the woman tightened her embrace.

Sasuke sighed and tugged on Sakura’s arm, only for the woman to hold on even tighter. “Okaasan, she’s human remember? You’re hurting her.”

“Right!” Sasuke’s mother loosened her hold but grabbed both of Sakura’s hands in her own as if she were afraid that she would run off. “Come in, come in.”

“I’m Mikoto, Sasuke’s mother,” Mikoto introduced herself, linking her arm with Sakura’s as they walked up the path to the house.

“I’m Haruno Sakura.” Sakura flushed at the bright smile the beautiful woman gave her. She had almost assumed that the woman was Sasuke’s sister-in-law because of how young she appeared. Must be a perk of being a vampire.

“You could have waited until they entered the house before pouncing on her.” A handsome older gentleman was at the entrance of the door giving Mikoto a disapproving look. The way his mouth thinned into a straight line reminded Sakura of whenever she did something that earned her the ‘Look’ from Sasuke.

“And this is my husband, Fugaku.”

Fugaku inclined his head slightly in a bow towards her before turning to Sasuke and reprimanding him. “You’re late.”

“It seems like every time I come here, the house gets further and further away from the entrance of the compound,” Sasuke covered for Sakura, slipping out of his shoes and lining them up next to the neat row on one side of the genkan.

“Come this way,” Mikoto gestured down a hall after offering Sakura a pair of slippers.

“Your father is a silver fox,” Sakura muttered to Sasuke as they followed behind his parents.

“Please don’t.” Sasuke nudged her arm gently with his elbow, but the tips of his ears were tinted red.

“What? I’m just making an observation. You’re going to age really well.”

Sasuke let out a low groan from the back of his throat but chose to ignore her comment and pulled out a seat for her.

“We really should have invited Itachi but Sasuke insisted that just the four of us meet today.” Mikoto clasped her hands underneath her chin in the same fashion Sakura had seen Sasuke do and narrowed her eyes at her youngest son. “I wonder why.”

“After dinner, Mikoto,” Fugaku grunted, eyeing Sasuke as he took a sip of his tea.

Oh this doesn’t look good for us, Sakura cringed inwardly. Doesn’t look good at all.

Surprisingly, dinner had been more pleasant than Sakura had originally thought it would be.

Fugaku appeared as imposing as the vast estate the Uchiha made their home, but he was mostly soft spoken like Sasuke was. Sasuke had told her about what his childhood was like and while his father was strict when he was younger, he had mostly mellowed out as Sasuke got older.

Sakura decided that she liked Mikoto━really liked her. She had calmed down from the earlier excitement and she reminded Sakura of her own mother. She wanted to know everything about her and kept pushing more food towards her.

“You already know all of that, okaasan,” Sasuke muttered, interrupting his mother’s questions about the vacation they had just taken.

Mikoto scoffed and waved her hand dismissively at him. “You told me your version of events which was boiled down to ‘It was nice. I would go again.’ Not exactly what I was looking for. I need details about the place.”

Sakura couldn’t help the giggle that snuck out of her as she watched her pouty boyfriend interact with his mother. The two of them really did remind Sakura of her own mother and herself. Just not as loud as the Haruno women could get.

We’re still the same in the end. Sakura smiled softly at the scene before her. Human or vampire, we have our families and our friends.

After dinner, Sakura insisted on helping Mikoto clean up. Sasuke mumbled something about needing to talk to his father and he left with the older man. It was probably about his change of plans for Obon and that unfortunately he would be traveling to Osaka with Sakura.

“We should have some of that rice wine you brought with you,” Mikoto suggested, wiping her hands on a hand towel. In a mock whisper she added, “It’s Fugaku’s favorite.”

“I’m actually abstaining from alcohol at the moment…” Sakura mumbled, averting her gaze. “For the next two years potentially…”

Mikoto reached for cups and frowned, “I’m sorry, dear. I didn’t quite catch that.”

“You’re, um,” Sakura swallowed and took one of the little ceramic cups from the stack Mikoto was holding and placed it back in her cupboard, “only going to need three of those.”

Mikoto stared at her, eyebrows drawn down quizzically. “If you say so…”

She knew she was acting weird, but Sakura couldn’t just come out and say it. Sure she would have preferred their meeting to have been sooner—at least not only after getting knocked up—but that wasn’t the woman’s fault and Sakura wasn’t going to ruin her evening by dropping the ball in the middle of her kitchen without letting her son be the one to tell her in his own way.

So she kept her mouth shut, too afraid to let their news slip early, and followed Uchiha Mikoto to the living room and helped pour sake for Sasuke’s parents.

“Your son plans to go to Osaka next week,” Fugaku informed his wife while eyeing Sasuke.

“Osaka? But you just came back from a trip in the region.”

“He’s traveling with Sakura who is visiting her family.”

“Oh, my.” Mikoto’s lips curled into a devious smirk and now Sakura knew where Sasuke got it from. “Oh my, my. Visiting the future in-laws, hmm?”

“Yes,” Sasuke answered bluntly. “We will be expecting a new addition to the family in the spring.”

Mikoto’s eyes shone brightly and a squeal began to form in the back of her throat but was interrupted by her husband. “I thought you wanted the ceremony to take place next month?”

“Next month!?” Mikoto floundered.

“Ceremony?” Sakura turned to her boyfriend who was now looking anywhere but at her, his cheeks dusted a pale pink.

“Aa.” Sasuke coughed into his hand. “I know a full moon is approaching this month, but a month will give us time to at least notify her parents and formally meet.”

“Next month!?” Mikoto asked again, cheeks flushed red in frustration. “That gives us almost no time to prepare. If it can’t be recognized legally, it could at least be special!”

“We don’t need something big,” Sasuke protested.

“I didn’t say big, I said special!”

With the two of them bickering, the three vampires almost missed the soft voice asking, “Won’t be recognized legally?”

Mikoto sent a glare her son’s way who simply grimaced in return. Fugaku glanced back and forth between the two of them before letting out a sigh of frustration and pinched the bridge of his nose.

“Unfortunately, Haruno-san,” Fugaku replied softly, his features set in a neutral expression, “inter species marriage isn’t legal in any country. While among our clan you would be recognized as an Uchiha and even in vampiric circles, the government will not recognize your marriage.”

“We would still have a ceremony under Uchiha customs,” Mikoto rushed in to reassure her, eyeing Sakura warily as her breathing came out in quick spurts. “It’s only paper, Sakura-chan.”

It was something that Sakura knew—in the back of her mind she knew—would be impossible, but she had been avoiding the subject. She knew when she was doing research into the segregated establishments that there had to be more laws against her and Sasuke.

Her hand slid from its place in her lap, upwards to her lower abdomen. What did this mean for her child?

Gentle fingers took hold of her other hand. Sasuke interlocked his fingers with her and pulled their hands into a safe cradle with his other.

“She’s a medical student preparing for the MCAT and you got her pregnant.” Fugaku glared at his son. “You realize the position you’ve put her in by being irresponsible?”

Embarrassment caused her cheeks to burn, but Sakura squeezed Sasuke’s hand gently and with resolve told his father, “It’s not Sasuke’s fault. We were being safe but things happen. And the MCAT can wait. To be honest, I had been pushing it further and further back. This baby isn’t an inconvenience, Uchiha-san.”

Silence filled the room and Sakura wanted nothing more than to shrink into the couch. She wasn’t expecting silence. She expected yelling and reprimands or cold indifference. Fugaku’s concern was surprising, but reminded her of Sasuke’s stories about growing up and his father’s expectations.

“A spring child,” Mikoto broke the silence with a gentle smile. “How sweet.”

“They should be due sometime in April.” Sakura returned the smile.

“I am not against this, just to preface what I’m about to say,” Fugaku drew their attention back to him. “And quite honestly I’m disappointed that Sasuke had not considered warning you.”

Sakura winced at the tightness of Sasuke’s hold on her hand. What could it be?

“If you are set in following through with this pregnancy, you must be prepared for the consequences of having a Daywalker child.”

Sakura glanced over at Sasuke through her peripheral. He had a steady glare in his father’s direction, who ignored it and continued to keep his attention focused on Sakura.


“A Daywalker is not simply a hybrid of a human and a vampire,” Fugaku continued. “It is almost an entirely different species, a dhampir. They are rare children born of the union between a vampire parent and a human parent, only rare because it is looked down upon by both vampires and humans to crossbreed. They are viewed as abominations by most, but to a select few that know the true nature of dhampir children…they are something akin to an elixir. While they too have vampiric qualities, their blood has properties that are extremely beneficial to vampires.”

Sakura swallowed, fingers gripping tightly to the satin fabric of her dress. “What does that mean for us and our child?”

“After the ceremony, you will have to move into the compound for your safety. Once it is discovered that you have been impregnated by a vampire, ill feelings towards your union or not, you will be targeted for the baby’s blood.”

“Your daughter-in-law, Izumi-san—?”

“She doesn’t leave the compound unless it is day time or she has escorts,” Sasuke spoke up this time. “It’s a safety precaution, but because her mother is Uchiha, not many know that she’s not a pure-blooded vampire.”

“It is getting late.” Mikoto stood up. “You two should spend the day here. I’m sure you’re really tired, Sakura-chan.” Mikoto held up her hand at Sakura’s protests. “No arguments, young lady. You were nodding off during dinner and I’ve had two pregnancies so I know now that it’s not because we’re keeping you up with our nocturnal lifestyle.”

Sakura grumbled under her breath but nodded in understanding. At the smile that was sent her way, she had the feeling that no one argued with Uchiha Mikoto and came out the victor.

Sighing, Sakura sat down at the engawa outside of Sasuke’s room and inhaled the sweet scent wafting from the flowers in the garden.

“I’m surprised that they didn’t stuff me in a guest room,” Sakura teased Sasuke as he took a seat next to her. Unlike her, he had clothing in the house so he was in his normal sleepwear while she was given a yukata by his mother.

“Kind of too late for that, don’t you think?” He flashed her a smirk.

“Oi.” Sakura nudged his side with her elbow.

“You’re going to be my wife, it would be obnoxious to give you a separate room.” Sasuke took her hand in his own and rubbed his thumb over her knuckles. Before Sakura could voice the question that had plagued her mind since their conversation with his parents, he answered it: “I did know that it wouldn’t be a legal marriage before asking my father if we could perform a ceremony.”

Sakura laid her head on his arm. “You did?”

“I looked into it.”

Sakura perked up at his admission and leaned back to smile slyly at him. “Oh, you looked into it, huh?”

“Shut up.” Sasuke readjusted themselves so that Sakura was sitting between his legs with her back to his front. “Don’t be annoying, I already told you that we simply went in the wrong order. You knew I meant that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with you.”

“Sure I did,” Sakura continued to tease him. She burst out into a fit of giggles when he buried his face into the crook of her neck and blew a raspberry against the flesh there. “Okay, okay, I did. Sasuke-kun, please!”

Sasuke loosened his grip but pressed a kiss to the top of her head. “As long as it’s what you want, you’re going to be my wife. I don’t need a piece of paper to tell me so.”

“Then I guess we’re getting married next month,” Sakura murmured, completely content. “We just have to tell my mother that I’m pregnant next week. Good luck with that.”

“Ah, shit.”

Differential Chapter 12

Chapter Twelve: More Than You Need To Know

Sakura drummed the pads of her fingers against her face. She was hunched over in the sitting area of the pharmacy, not happy to be wasting her time.

What’s the point of messaging people that their prescriptions are ready if you’re just going to make them wait? Sakura growled in frustration, her leg bouncing in impatience.

“Haruno?” The pharmacist called out from behind the counter.

“Finally,” Sakura muttered under her breath. She waited for them to ring her up and she handed them the coupon the OBGYN’s receptionist gave her before she left their office.

Not wanting Ino or Karin to know what she was up to, she had told them she was off to another interview at the associated hospital. Instead, what she really was doing was running off to get her pap smear and a prescription for birth control filled.

The two of them had been unbearable the past two weeks. She would tell them she was off to the library or to a study group and they would both give her knowing looks.

Imagine how they would act if they knew that I’m already sleeping with Sasuke.

Sakura stuffed her packet from the pharmacy into her backpack and headed to the bus stop. She was able to take the university’s shuttle to the hospital where the office was located but had to make her own way to the pharmacy she prefered.

“If you’re going to the doctor, I can drive you there,” Sasuke had offered. If it had been any other doctor she would have let him but for this she wanted some privacy. Even though Sasuke would be her only sexual partner ever, she wasn’t getting the birth control pills for him but for herself.

Hopping on the bus, Sakura took the first available seat she could find. She really needed to consider getting a bike, especially if she planned to find an apartment in the city after the semester ended.

I would need to room with someone, probably Ino or Karin…maybe both.

Sakura opened up her phone and opened up the real estate application she had downloaded. Almost everything in the city was so expensive but it would be cheaper than living in the dorms after she calculated all of the fees.

Sakura was scrolling through single room apartments when her phone began to ring.


“What up, bitch?” Ino drawled through the speaker. “Karin is spending the night at Tennie’s so I’m picking you up from the bus stop so we can go get some dinner.”

“You don’t sound very excited about spending time with me,” Sakura responded with mock hurt in her tone.

“Nah, I’m just careening down Satan’s waterfall right now and I don’t wanna go out but I’m also starving.”

“Any clue where you wanna go out to eat?” Sakura sandwiched her phone between her ear and shoulder as she twisted the top off of her bottle.

“I kinda wanna eat everything and anything so I’m just letting Sasuke sweetie here pick.”

Sakura tried her best not to spit out her water but the next thing to come through the speaker had the water forcefully coming out of her nose.

“I told you to stop calling me that. Don’t you have a boyfriend?”

Only Ino would have no problem talking so casually about her menses in front of Sasuke. Considering she had bled through a sweatshirt of his before, Sakura no longer cared but she knew that Karin would rather die than let a “hottie” know about her monthly flow. The last time she was asked for a tampon in front of Itachi she started screaming to cut off Sakura’s question.

“Oh, you know I love fucking with you, Sasuke sweetie. So how long until you get here? You okay? Something sounded like a fire hydrant exploding.”

“I’m fine,” Sakura coughed. “Soon. I’m a stop away.”

She had no idea how Ino convinced Sasuke to leave his dorm and hang out with her, but Sakura was elated that he was joining them. The three of them had been schoolmates and had been in the same social circle ever since Sakura joined them in the eighth grade but toward the end of their junior year of high school there had been a sort of rift. They still hung out in huge groups but usually Sasuke was off with other people or hanging out with Ino’s ex-boyfriend, Kiba, and Choji.

It was a strange time in their life. Sakura was feeling awkward, feeling so behind sexually than all of her friends. And then when she finally got her answer, Sasuke started avoiding her.

She had wondered if maybe he had figured out what she had herself and decided to keep his distance. But the events of the past month ran into conflict with that theory.

“Are you guys about to make me get back on the bus?” Sakura groaned when she got off at the university bus stop. Ino and Sasuke were standing there waiting for her. She had expected to meet them in one of their cars.

“You know there’s almost never any parking available on Fridays.” Ino pulled Sakura into a hug, pressing her face into the bulge of her chest. “It’s okay, I’ll keep you warm while we wait for our bus.”

“Ino. It’s going to snow at any moment, why are you wearing heels?” Sakura asked, voice muffled against Ino’s peacoat.

“A lady is never seen without her heels.”

“Bitch, you weren’t wearing them all week.”

“Bus is here,” Sasuke interrupted before Ino could retort back. Not waiting for Ino, Sasuke used a hand on the small of Sakura’s back to guide her to their bus.

Sakura looked over her shoulder, searching for Ino’s reaction to Sasuke’s casual touch. She found nothing. Ino just walked behind them as if it were the most natural thing.

Maybe I’m overthinking it? Sakura shrugged and climbed up the bus stairs. Sasuke found an empty seat and offered it to her.

“Ahem?” Ino nudged Sasuke in the ribs. “You could have offered me the seat. I am the one in heels.”

Sasuke just stared at her impassively for a moment. The bus had left the stop before he finally turned away, not answering her.

“Great,” Ino huffed. “Just like old times.”

She was staring and it was irritating him so much that he was grinding his teeth.

Ino Yamanaka had a gift of being completely oblivious when she wanted to be, but then completely observant and sharp when one didn’t want her to be.

For all of elementary school until freshman year of high school, she followed him around and clung to him despite Sasuke rejecting her advances at every turn. At some point Sasuke believed she was an idiot for not understanding his clear disinterest in her.

It didn’t take him long to realize she was interpreting things in a way that benefited her. When they were eight she believed he simply wasn’t interested in girls yet. In eighth grade Ino came up with the theory that perhaps he was interested in men instead. Sasuke couldn’t understand why she didn’t get the clue that he just wasn’t attracted to her physically or as a person without there being something lacking in him that caused the lack of interest.

Tenth grade had Ino flipping a complete one-eighty on how she approached him. She continued to attempt to flirt with him in a way that made it seem like she couldn’t avoid it, it was like breathing. But it didn’t stop her from dating whoever she wanted. The year before she dangled the boys in front of him, trying to make him jealous without the result she wanted. At age sixteen, Ino finally got the hint that was screaming in her face.

Finally moving on from Sasuke, Ino saw something in him that he hoped she never would.

“So, Sasuke sweetie,” Ino absentmindedly braided her hair, “what have you decided on for dinner?”

“Yeah, we should—“

“It’s too early for dinner,” Ino interrupted him. “We should walk around and check out the shops.”

Of course. Sasuke rolled his eyes and looked out the bus window. She never makes anything straightforward and simple.

Ino had run into him on her way back to her dorm, almost quite literally. If Sasuke’s reflexes were slower he probably would have sent her flying when he turned the corner.

Hey,” she had called out to him when he tried to walk away. “Are you still into Sakura?”

Sasuke sighed and laid his head against the arm holding onto the overhead handrail. Leave it to Ino to figure out his secret.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” was his reply, but Ino had dug her nails into his arm when she grabbed, forcing him to stay put.

“I’m trying to help you, moron.”

“Ino, you can’t just drag us around while you shop,” Sakura scolded her. “Sasuke is a busy person.”

“It’s Friday. What could he possibly be busy with?”

“I don’t know, Ino. Homework maybe? Studying? We attend one of the top private universities in the country, of course he’s busy.”

Sasuke tuned the girls out as they argued. Ino was right that he wasn’t going to be working on any schoolwork. He had planned on inviting Sakura over if she was feeling alright after her doctor’s appointment.

Sakura bucking her hips against his mouth was preferable over whatever torture Ino planned for the evening, but here he was, heading into the city with the two of them.

“Alright! Here’s our stop.” Ino yanked Sakura out of her seat and pulled on Sasuke’s arm with more force than necessary.

Sasuke took one quick look at the shops at the bus stop and made a beeline for the Doc Martens store.

“Hey!” Ino called after him but Sasuke didn’t turn back around and entered the store. He knew as soon as he saw the lingerie store that Ino was going to drag the three of them inside.

Ignoring the sales associates, Sasuke examined the wall of boots. The heel was worn out on his own pair and it was a good idea to replace them now that he was out.

“Those look good.”

Sasuke did a double take as Sakura reached over and pulled a boot from the wall.

“Why aren’t you with Ino?”

“She was convinced I went up a cup size and felt me up so I left.” Sakura scowled and set the boot back on the wall before picking up a pair of yellow boots.

“Was she wrong?” Sasuke asked, mostly to see her get more riled up more than actual curiosity.

“She wasn’t but it was rude,” Sakura grumbled. “Sometimes I feel like she and Karin forget I’m a person and not a doll they can do whatever they want with.”

“Hey.” Gently, Sasuke grabbed her shoulder and turned her around to face him. “What did she do? I mean, other than grope you.”

“I don’t wanna talk about it.” Sakura ran her hands down her face and blew a raspberry in an attempt to relax. Sasuke tucked a strand of hair behind her ear and waited for her to compose herself. “She shouldn’t have dragged you out. How did she drag you out?”

“What do you mean you’re trying to help me?” Sasuke scoffed, pulling his arm out of her grip. Ino wasn’t the type to do something just because she was nice. “I don’t need your help.”

Even at thirteen he knew that she originally became friends with Sakura because she wanted her as an accessory. What better tag along for the most popular girl in school than the prettiest girl in school?

“Fine. You don’t need my help. But Sakura does.” Ino circled around him slowly like a shark. She stopped in front of him and sighed.

“What are you getting at?”

“Oh, nothing.” Ino shrugged and pursed her lips. She crossed her arms in front of her chest and looked Sasuke up and down. “I just want Sakura to finally go out and date someone and Karin got it in her head that better you than some random fuckboy we don’t really know.”

“Sakura doesn’t need your help to find a date.” Sasuke matched her pose and crossed his arms in front of his chest, glaring down his nose at her. “You’re just being nosy.”

“That’s where you’re wrong.” Ino narrowed her eyes at him, jaw jutting out and nostrils flaring. “You don’t know Sakura like I do. Because of your little disappearing act you can’t claim to know her best anymore.”

Sasuke refused to let the guilt show on his face. He knew that in order to protect his own feelings he had hurt Sakura, but that wasn’t anyone’s business but his and Sakura’s so Ino needed to back off.

“Despite that, Karin and I have decided that if it had to be anyone,” Ino waved a hand, gesturing to all of him, “you were the best candidate. So just go with it, ‘cause I know that’s what you want.”

Sasuke shrugged and averted his gaze back to the wall of shoes. “I was just hungry.”

“Well, now you’re stuck with us.” Sakura clasped her hands behind her back and nudged him with her shoulder. It was a light, good humored tap and she smiled that same soft smile that made his chest ache.

“You think we could ditch her?” Sasuke nudged her back.

“What? You want to have dinner with just me?” Sakura fluttered her eyelashes at him in mock flirtation.


“That’s mean, Sasuke sweetie.”

The two of them whipped their heads around. Ino stood behind them, tapping a foot, a small pink shopping bag in hand.

“I hate when she calls me that,” Sasuke muttered.

“You’re ridiculously easy to shop for.” Ino ignored him and with a lazy swing of the bag she handed it off to Sakura. “They’re always stocked in your sizes, you lucky bitch.”

“Please tell me you didn’t buy my something skanky and expensive.”

“Expensive? No, there’s a bunch of sales ‘cause Valentine’s Day is approaching.” Sasuke chose to ignore the way she eyed him at the mention of the upcoming holiday. “Skanky? Please, I’m classier than that, I got you something tasteful. Don’t worry, I know you hate thongs.”

Sakura peeked into the bag and then stashed it into her backpack before Sasuke could see what it was. Whatever it was, it had her cheeks burning a hot shade of pink.

“Can we go eat?” She squeaked, pulling her hood over her head.

“Yeah, sure.” Ino turned to Sasuke and asked him, “Where are we going?”

 Ino wanted Korean barbecue but Sasuke vetoed the suggestion—complaint—and he led them to a spot he liked for hot pot. Ino had looked to Sakura for help but she gave her a sheepish grin and followed after Sasuke. It was cold and Sakura wanted hot pot.

“At least Karin’s not with us,” Sasuke muttered, taking his coat off once they were seated. “She eats as much as Choji.”

“I have to carry snacks with me so she won’t complain about being hungry in the middle of our lectures.” Sakura rolled her eyes and grabbed the menu.

“I should start doing that too. She kept whining in the computer lab and almost got us kicked out.”

“Can we not order it super spicy,” Sakura pleaded. “I’ll die.”

“We’ll get it medium heat, not mild.”

“Is no one going to ask about my preferences?” Ino scoffed, acting affronted.

“We’ll get lots of meat for you, Pig.” Sakura stuck her tongue out at Ino who was seated directly across from her.

The seating arrangements were odd. Ino had practically pushed Sasuke down into the seat next to Sakura after she chose her own seat.

While Sasuke talked to the waiter, Ino kept making faces at her. She raised her eyebrows suggestively and kept nodding her head in Sasuke’s direction. Sakura kicked her under the table.

“Ow! You bitch,” Ino hissed, bending down to rub her shin.

“Stop being weird!” Sakura hissed back under her breath.

“Who’s being weird?” Sasuke asked after the waiter walked away.

“Naruto,” Ino answered immediately. “Kiba says he’s been moping about for a month now.”

Ino was the only person Sakura knew that was best friends with their ex. It was the most amicable break up she had ever witnessed.

“He was dumped, Ino,” Sakura defended him. She knew Sasuke wouldn’t especially from the insult he muttered under his breath.

“He deserved to be dumped.” Ino took a prim sip of her tea. “He was being selfish and only wanted the open relationship to be open for him. Gaara did the right thing and I have never seen him happier. Look at this pic Temari sent me. Lee is so good for him.”

Ino slid her phone across the table. Gaara and Lee were in matching Suna State t-shirts at a basketball game for their university. Gaara even had some face paint on and was smiling, a rare occurrence when he was in crowds.

“Aww,” Sakura squealed. “Well, we always knew Lee was a good boyfriend. He and Neji just weren’t going to last past high school.”

“Doesn’t help that he cheated on him with Naruto at that party,” Sasuke muttered. “He was drunk, but still.”

“God, our friends are so messy.” Ino rubbed her temple with the heel of her palm. “Did anyone that dated in high school stay together?”

“Shikamaru and Temari,” Sakura supplied. “Though, if it weren’t for Temari I think Shikamaru would have been single for the rest of his life.”

“Thank you, Temari,” Ino raised her glass of tea, “for making the ultimate sacrifice and dating the guy voted least likely to get a girlfriend by everyone in our year.”

“How did Shikamaru earn that and not Lee?” Sasuke’s brows furrowed in confusion. “What vote?”

“As confused as the boy was when he was chasing Sakura around, he was at least sweet and girls love romantic guys.” Ino scooted back to make room for the meat and vegetables the server was placing on their table. “I love him, he’s one of my best friends, but Shikamaru isn’t exactly boyfriend material. I’m pretty sure if it weren’t Temari he was dating, it would have never lasted.”

“The girls in our graduating class made a couple of lists during junior year,” Sakura answered Sasuke’s second question as she peeled the wrapper of her straw. “It was so childish, but they divided the guys up by who was dateable, who was bangable, and who was neither. Shikamaru got the most votes for neither.”

“Choji got most dateable, I’m so proud.” Ino wiped a fake tear. “You got must fuckable of course, Sasuke.”

“I didn’t need to know that.” Sasuke scrunched up his face in disgust.

“As if you guys didn’t have your own list,” Ino snapped at him over the bubbling pot. “Kiba tells me everything.”

“Yeah, you guys are the weirdest exes by the way.”

“I don’t care, I’m still pissed off that I ended up as second for most fuckable and in sixth for most dateable. I’m a fucking prize, thanks.”

“Who was first for both?”

“You don’t need to know,” Ino and Sasuke answered in sync. They stared at each other in shock until Sasuke averted his gaze.

“Trust me, hon,” Ino patted Sakura on the arm, “it’s best that you don’t know.”

“You just gave away the answer, and eww.” Sakura shivered. “You would think not dating and making a point not to date would have made me the least sexualized person.”

“And yet, it made you even more popular.” Ino pursed her lips, clearly still feeling bitter about the whole thing. She rolled her eyes and and tied her hair up in a ponytail to get it out of the way. “I’m kidding. You’re smart and nice and hot. You were just so oblivious to it in high school. Still are.”

“I’m not oblivious.” Sakura frowned, feeling a little insulted. “I’m just busy. And I’m, well, you know…the other problem.”

“It’s not a problem,” Ino snapped, nostrils flaring. “Stop saying that about yourself.”

Sakura sank into her seat. It was always the same whenever the issue of her sexuality was brought up. Ino always got defensive—a side effect of being bisexual and also suffering from people pretending her sexuality wasn’t real. She had trusted Ino with that information but now it seemed that Ino was about to expose it in front of Sasuke and that would make things awkward and confusing considering what they had been up to for the past month.

“There’s nothing wrong with being asexual.”

After Ino had dropped a bombshell of a revelation, dinner was the last thing Sasuke wanted. She then made it even more awkward when her boyfriend showed up and the four of them went their separate ways.

The ride back to campus was done in relative silence. He and Sakura sat together awkwardly, both avoiding speaking.

The whole bus ride back he went over his relationship with Sakura and everything they had done since winter break. Did he cross a line he shouldn’t have? Did he make her uncomfortable in anyway? Was she forcing herself to continue their physical relationship? She seemed enthusiastic most of the time, but maybe he was seeing what he wanted to see.

They were halfway up the hill to the dormitories when Sakura finally spoke up.

“Are we going to talk about what Ino said?”

No. “Yeah.”

Sasuke turned around so that he was facing her. She looked smaller than she normally did and the incline wasn’t helping. He walked back down the hill until they were more level to each other.

“Why do you let me—why are we—“ Sasuke covered his mouth a hand and inhaled deeply through his nose. He closed his eyes and then exhaled. “Just…why?”

“Because I want to.” Sakura spoke clearly, determined eyes boring into his, insisting that he believe her. “Besides Ino was only partially right. I’m demisexual. And asexual people can want sex.”

Sasuke sighed, cupping his neck with both hands. He rolled his neck and thought over what Sakura had just said. He knew she wasn’t lying, she sucked at lying. It wouldn’t do any good to fight with her about it.

“I was going to go back home for the weekend tomorrow, but I think I’m just going to head out now. Did you wanna go home?”

Sakura nodded her head and shoved her hands into her coat pockets. “I just need to grab some stuff and my laundry. Meet you in front of Hiruzen Hall?”

“Yeah. I gotta grab some stuff too. I’ll pick you up in like forty minutes.”

Sakura only fell asleep when Sasuke was the one driving. With everyone else, she was always on edge, wary of every little choice the driver made. But not with Sasuke.

With Sasuke behind the wheel, it was so easy to curl up in the front seat and just doze off or watch the trees blur as he sped down the highway. She felt safe.

She always felt safe with Sasuke. And at home. Sakura could sit in his car, the heater turned on high, and ride for hours if Sasuke was the one driving. Just to wander aimlessly without a destination.

“It’s snowing,” she said softly, dragging her finger down the cold window, chasing the fat flakes as they fell.

“It’s a good thing we’re home. Wouldn’t want to drive when it gets worse.”

Sasuke pulled up in front of their houses and parked on the street. He turned the heat off and then the lights before turning the car off and returning the heat settings back for the next time he started his car.

“They’re probably asleep and the chain’s probably up.” Sakura bit her lower lip. “You know them. Early to bed, early to rise.”

While she had texted Karin and Ino to let them know she went home for the weekend, she hadn’t bothered to call her parents, knowing they would stay up to greet her despite needing to wake up before the sun.

“You can stay at my place. My parents are probably asleep too, but it’s not like it’s the first time you would be staying the night. Come on.”

Sakura grabbed her backpack, not wanting to leave her laptop in Sasuke’s car and out in the cold. They moved in silence, carefully unlocking the door and disabling the alarm, they tiptoed up the steps. Sasuke paused in front of his bedroom door and looked back at her. There was a guest room and Itachi’s old bedroom; there was no need for her to stay with him in his room.

No need, but Sakura didn’t want to sleep anywhere else. It must have shown on her face because without a word, Sasuke led her into his bedroom. Sakura grabbed her stuff and headed to the hallway bathroom to get ready for bed.

She took her time brushing her teeth and washing her face. She massaged her night cream into her skin in small circles, dragging out her night routine for as long as possible.

In her fantasies of Sasuke, he was always rough with her and they never looked at each other. He would take her from behind so she wouldn’t have to see his face, but most importantly he wouldn’t see hers. He wouldn’t see the longing.

Reality was so much different. Even when he was pounding her into his mattress, Sasuke treated her with care. And that care scared her. Sakura didn’t want to get comfortable, so used to his gentle ways, only for it all to be taken away.

Sakura closed Sasuke’s bedroom door behind her, making sure to lock it.

Sasuke was already in his bed, turned to the door. He lifted the comforter up, inviting her to join him.

She climbed into bed and he pulled her closer, enveloping her in his warmth. The blankets had trapped his body heat and they smelled like fabric softener. Sakura assumed Mikoto had washed the sheets and comforter earlier, knowing Sasuke would be coming back on the weekend.

Sasuke’s arm wrapped around her waist and he tucked his leg between her thighs as she hitched her leg over his. Sighing, Sakura tucked her head under his chin.

“You’re not going to be weird now are you?” Sakura murmured, adjusting her body so she was curled against him in a more comfortable position. Sasuke ran his hand up and down her back soothingly.

“Can’t say I won’t be thinking about it.”

“Oh,” Was all she could say. She couldn’t blame him for that. It was one of the reasons she never wanted him to find out.

Sasuke could feel her withdrawing, pulling away from him, and tightened his hold on her. “That’s not saying that I want nothing to do with you anymore, Sakura.”

“Then what does that mean?”

“It means,” Sasuke moved his hand up to her hair and massaged soothing circles against her scalp, “I’ll be thinking about what you want. Wondering if what I do is okay.”

“It’s okay,” Sakura responded quickly. She didn’t want him to stop trying to touch her now that he knew. “You don’t have to change anything.”

She buried her face into his cotton t-shirt and gripped the back of his shirt tightly. It wasn’t as close as she wanted to be, but it helped her anchor herself, assure herself that he was still there and that she was still allowed in his bed, in his room, in his life.

“And you don’t have to just think. You can ask me and I’ll always answer honestly.”

“Okay then,” Sasuke pulled back so he could look Sakura in the eye, “what do you want?”

There were many things she wanted. She wanted more time, so she wasn’t always stressing over deadlines. She wanted Ino and Karin to just let her be, she knew what could make her happy. She didn’t need their interference.

Sakura wanted Sasuke. She had wanted him since she was twelve and that want had only grown stronger as the years went by. Even if she was only a friend—a neighbor that irritated him by always getting ahead of him in school. She wanted a piece of Sasuke that was just for her..

But mostly she wanted to be wanted in return.

In the dark of his bedroom, under the covers and smells of home, Sakura whispered, “You.”

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.