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.

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.”

Mirepoix Chapter 4

Chapter Four: Only When I’m Homesick

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The slacks fit too well.

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

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

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

“What Italian dishes?”

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

“You’re not serving the last one.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I’m making that stew, Hyuga.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But the slacks fit too well.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Does she?”

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

“Uh…does Renee’s party count?”

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Please eat something that’s not instant.”

“Shut up, mom.”

The day was going well.

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

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

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

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

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

“Is she bragging or is she actually mad?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I beg pardon?”


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Only when I’m homesick.”

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

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

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

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

I knew he was older but not by five years…

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


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

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

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

“I’ll be out in a sec.”

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

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

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

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

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

“He knows.”

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“You guys are pretty cute.”

Covenant Chapter 3

Chapter Three: Dinner Should Be Charming

Mornings were always loud. And early.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“What did he do?”

“He was molesting underage witches in the coven.”



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Don’t be a smartass.”

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

“I was sent by Shizune!”

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

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

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

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

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

“Are you going to let me back in?”

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“What do they━?”

“You don’t need to know!”

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

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

“Come in.”

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

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

“Do most events require formal attire?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“How did you know what I was thinking?”

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

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

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

“Well that doesn’t help your case.”

“No, you’re just predictable.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Isn’t that a━”

“Yeah, it is!”

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


“Don’t stare too much.”

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

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

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


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

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

“No, I can deal with the train.”

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

“Nah, let’s get a cab.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Do your friends know about me?”

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

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

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

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

“I would want to live with a vampire.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And Sakura wouldn’t have it any other way.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“How—what? How did you even—“

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Shut up.”

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

It wasn’t a lie technically.

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

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

“I wasn’t going to wait that long…”

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

“I’m just selective.”

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

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

“So why haven’t I heard about him?”

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

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

“I just…”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Do you want my help or not?”

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

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

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

She’s getting tired so easily lately…

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

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

I should make a shopping list.

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

Huh. That’s odd.

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

It must have been a light week.

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

“You okay?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

“There must have been a misunderstanding.”

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

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

“I’ll go sit in a vampire car then.”

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

“Of course you do.”

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

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

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

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

“I messed up again.”

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

“It was implied and you know it.”

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

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

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

“I’m not going anywhere.”

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

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

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

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

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

“Why did you bother with underwear?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“You’re being incredibly selfish right now.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Happy birthday Sasuke-kun.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Differential Chapter 11

Chapter Eleven: And So It Begins

Sakura’s eyebrows drew down and she grumbled into the pillow. She made a low whining sound until Sasuke pulled up his quilt over her shoulders. He stroked down the curve of her spine and she sighed, snuggling her face against his pillow.

Sasuke traced the line of her spine down to the cleft of her butt. He paused for a moment there and then began a path lower until Sakura spoke up.

“I’m not that tired. You go anywhere near there and I’ll punch you in the throat.”

Ignoring her, he flattened his palm and squeezed.

“Hey!” Sakura reached over and pinched his arm.

Sasuke sighed and turned his head to where his alarm clock sat. Or had once sat. The space at the head of his bed was empty, all of the items having fallen off earlier. He had probably knocked them off when he held onto the headboard to keep it from smacking into the wall.

Or when he tossed Sakura up onto the bed.

He knew it wasn’t the smartest place to perch his things but it kept him from having to hop off of his bed to turn off his alarm.

“What time is it?” Sakura murmured, rolling onto her side. She curled into him, sliding a leg between his. Sasuke drew her in closer, tucking her head under his chin. She would have been warmer if she got up to put her clothes on but she had a habit of lying around naked in the aftermath.

Sasuke wasn’t sure if he enjoyed that or not. Her nudity was counterproductive to things he wanted to get done.

“Not sure. My alarm clock fell.”

Sasuke felt her head shift against his body and then heard her snort.

“Your glasses are all foggy on one side.”

“Yeah that happens.”

“I should get going,” she exhaled, but made no move to leave. Instead she curled back into Sasuke, wrapping an arm around his waist.

It was quiet for few minutes and Sasuke was sure she had gone to sleep.

“Oi.” He shook her shoulder gently. “You can’t stay here naked. My roommate is going to come back eventually.”

Shino had been preparing a mug of something when Sasuke was pulling Sakura into his suite style dorm. Sakura was barely a foot inside when Shino was taking his mug and his cellphone and leaving. Sasuke could only assume he went as far as one of the dorm building’s communal areas considering he had shuffled out in his house slippers.

Sasuke wasn’t even sure if Shino had remembered to take his key card for their dorm. He would have to text him when Sakura left.

“I don’t wanna go back yet,” Sakura mumbled against his chest, lips brushing on his skin. “Ino and Sai are watching one of those ocean documentaries.”

“You like wild life documentaries.”

“Yeah, but Ino doesn’t. So who knows when documentary and chill will slip into the chill part of the evening.”

“Documentary and Chill?” Sasuke snorted. Leave it to Sakura to call it something as dorky as that.

“Don’t laugh, it’s cute!” Sakura insisted, slapping him lightly on the chest. “She’s trying so hard with this guy and when have you seen Ino put any real effort for anyone before?”

He had to think back to their middle school days. He wasn’t very fond of Ino but if Sakura was there then so was she. Of course it didn’t take long to realize that the girl had developed an annoying crush on him.

She had even forced herself to drink almond milk just because she thought Sasuke would like that she was considerate of his dietary needs. For weeks she suffered through dairy alternatives only to find out that he wasn’t the one that was lactose intolerant.

Then why do you drink it? It’s gross.” Ino wrinkled her nose and squirmed in her seat as if she needed to get as far away as possible from his cafeteria soy milk.

You would think they would carry more alternatives to milk considering how common it is to be lactose intolerant.” Sakura set her tray down with huff. “And why does orange juice count as one of my fruit and vegetable portions? I’m already underweight for my age group as it is without them taking away one of my sources of nutrients. School lunch is ridiculous!”

Wordlessly, Sasuke offered her his carton of soy milk. He pushed it with a finger, sliding it across the table top until it hit Sakura’s tray.

He always arrived to the cafeteria sooner than the two of them considering they always ran off to the restroom together when their Algebra teacher released them for their lunch break.

What they needed to do in the bathroom for so long he would never know.

Looking up to check that Sakura accepted the carton was a mistake. He found himself in the receiving end of one of Ino Yamanaka’s looks. The kind that usually had one of her other best friends heading in the opposite direction.

She kept her eyes on him as she bit into one of Sakura’s carrots.

“Pig! Did you not hear my rant literally five seconds ago about my weight?”

“You’re the only ballerina I know that worries that she’s too skinny.”

Rolling her eyes, she focused her attention on Sakura instead and tried to coax her into sharing one of the big chocolate chip cookies with her.

“You even have your milk now to wash it down that was sooo generously given to you by Sasuke sweetie.”

“Don’t call me that.” Sasuke stood up, pulling his legs up from over the attached stool.

There was only so much time he could spend in Ino Yamanaka’s presence. Her only redeeming quality was that she had instantly become friends with Sakura who had moved up a grade level and didn’t have any friends in their class yet.

“Where are you going?” Ino demanded. Sasuke did what he always did when it came to her and continued as if she never spoke up.


This time it was Sakura and with her it was always more difficult to pretend he hadn’t heard her. He paused in the middle of cleaning up his lunch tray and reluctantly answered the question hidden in the call of his name.


“Wait for us!” Ino continued to call after him. She was awfully persistent. Sasuke didn’t acknowledge her and just grabbed his backpack.

“Save us some seats,” Sakura chirped up, not even bothering to look up from rearranging her food on her tray in the order she was going to eat it.

“Yeah, yeah,” he answered her.

“He blew me off again,” he heard Ino complaining to Sakura. “You need to help me figure out what kind of girls he likes.”

He hadn’t heard Sakura’s response at the time. He had picked up the pace, increasing the distance between him and the girls, not wanting to hear Sakura offer her assistance.

“So what are you going to do then?”

They could clean up and go find something to do on campus. Even take the shuttle out to somewhere deeper in the city.

Sasuke had expected Sakura to avoid him when they returned to campus. It would have been karmic payback if she had decided that after coming back from holiday break that she would pretend nothing had happened.

He had prepared himself for that outcome. Sasuke spent the two hour drive back to the city avoiding taking too many glances at his sleepy passenger. If it weren’t for her sleepy sighs and half murmurs that caused his eyes to stray from the road he wouldn’t have believed she was there. Sakura could have made any excuse to avoid being trapped in a car with him, could have tried to stuff all of her things into Ino’s car and driven back with the chatty girl or even beg her parents to drop her off at KU themselves.

But she hadn’t.

“Can I sleep for like a week?” Sakura whined, shifting so that she was resting on her stomach. “I’m worn out.”

“You did ask to be worked out.”

Sakura propped herself up so she was resting on her forearms and gaped at him, mouth opening and closing like a fish.

“Th-that is not what I said!” She spluttered, cheeks burning a hot pink. “ one would believe me if I told them how dirty you are.”

“Would you tell anyone?”

“Hmm?” Sakura hummed, settling back under his quilt.

Sasuke shook his head. The afterglow was not the moment to bring up that conversation.

He watched as she curled up, making her body as compact as possible to keep warm. She nuzzled her face against his chest and sighed.

“I’m not ready for this semester at all. I have to start my shadowing hours now because I finished all of my pre-requisites last semester.”

“How many hours do you have to do?”

Sasuke curled an arm around her waist and pulled her closer. Even though it was winter he still got really warm and kept the heater lower than Sakura liked. She would whine a little and then seek out the warmth of his body.

“I gotta split it between medical related and non-medical related shadowing and then I have to do something medical related that’s not just shadowing. It’s split like ten hours and then five each of the other two categories to round up to twenty hours.”

Sakura groaned and pressed her face into his chest more so that her lips moved against Sasuke’s skin with her words.

“I have to do that every semester from now on on top of everything. I’m going to have no life!”

She grumbled softly, only easing out of her frustration when Sasuke dug his fingers into her hair and massaged her scalp. She exhaled and murmured against his skin.

“At least I finished the reading for UNIV. I hate when they assign reading over the semester breaks.”

Sasuke tensed up at that and paused his massaging circles.

“…you didn’t do the reading did you?”

“I was kind of busy all break.”

Sasuke could feel the skin on his chest warm up just from the contact with Sakura’s face.

“I had my hands full.” He slid his hand lower on her back and downward, cupping the curve of her backside. “Really full.”

“Pervert.” Sakura nudged him until she was free of his hold.

Sasuke fell back against the mattress and watched as she settled one knee on each side of his hips and straddled him. He watched curiously as she nestled his cock between her folds and dragged herself back and forth up the length. He gripped her hips and guided her grinding.

“We should try me on top again,” Sakura suggested with a swivel of her hips.

“Are you forgetting what happened last,” Sasuke exhaled deeply, unsuccessfully hiding a moan as she added more pressure and increased the friction, “time?”

“I’m sure I can accommodate for our size differences this time.” Sakura braced her hands on his sternum and swiveled her hips again. “I’ll just go slow.”

“Yeah, sure.”

“I’m not the impatient one here.” Sakura clucked her tongue at him. “You practically threw me against the wall trying to get me in bed.”

“You’re annoying,” Sasuke panted, covering his eyes with an arm. He didn’t want to get worked up just for her to end up in the fetal position and cursing him again.

“Bet I’m not so annoying when you’re rammed all the way up my—”

Annoying,” Sasuke hissed, grabbing her hips to halt her movements. “We can’t anyway. That was the last condom earlier.”

There had only been one time they had been irresponsible—the day against the washing machine in the Haruno house—and Sasuke wasn’t having anymore repeats. The drive to the pharmacy for an emergency contraceptive was awkward enough, he wasn’t going through the ordeal again by walking to the campus health center.

“Hmm,” Sakura hummed, tapping her chin thoughtfully. “I can use my mouth.”

“No you can’t,” Sasuke groaned. Sakura was attempting to fight the hold of his hands and kept moving her hips back and forth. She was going to be the death of him. “I’m covered in lube from the condom.”

“Right. Ick.”

“What happened to being tired?” Sasuke muttered, rolling Sakura off of his lap. He was already irritated that he had forgotten about the assigned reading and now he had a throbbing erection to deal with.

“The reminder that I’m probably going to be too busy for anything once the semester starts gave me a rush of adrenaline.”

Sakura stretched her arms over her head before sitting up and hopping off of his bed.

“Where’s my stuff?” She picked up her underwear up on top of Sasuke’s printer and slipped it on. “You have a printer? And I’ve been paying to print stuff at the library?”

“You use my printer, you help pay for ink.” Sasuke rolled onto his side and watched as she gathered her belongings from where they had landed around the room.

He chose not to remind her that their first three semesters at KU was spent avoiding each other unless it was absolutely necessary to interact.

“That’s still a better deal than fighting people just to get to one that works at the library.”

Silently agreeing, Sasuke finally slid off from his bed and grabbed his clothing as well. He was hesitant to ask if she wanted to do anything else but he could at least walk her down to the lobby.

“Give me a sec,” he told her as she shrugged on her coat.

“You don’t have to come down with me. I’m sure you wanna you know,” Her eyes shifted down to his crotch and then back to his face, cheeks turning pink, “clean up.”

Sasuke gave her an unimpressed look and slipped on his boxer briefs. Sakura shook her head and used his arm as a support as she stood on her toes planting a chaste kiss on his lips.

“Besides, you can’t waste any time you should be using to do your reading,” she said in a singsong.

“Shit,” Sasuke breathed out. He had almost forgotten about it again.

“Good night, Sasuke.” She stood on her toes one more time to give him a kiss and this time he returned it, before she shuffled out of his door.

He listened to the sound of the door to the suite open and closed before he searched the room for the rest of his clothes. He picked up everything that had fallen, including his cell phone which gratefully hasn’t sustained any damage from falling from the height of the dorm bed.

The first thing he noticed was a missing call from Kiba Inuzuka and a few texts from him and one from Shino.

Considering Shino had been Kiba’s penpal and Kiba had introduced them to each other when Sasuke needed to find a roommate, Sasuke wouldn’t have been surprised if Shino has mentioned to Kiba that Sasuke had a girl over.

I don’t have the energy to deal with this, Sasuke grumbled inwardly, swiping away the notifications. He sent a quick text to Shino to inform him that he was able to come back to their room but tossed his phone on his bed ignoring Kiba’s texts.

He was sure Kiba would try to contact him again the following day. He was like Naruto that way, persistent as hell, but at least he gave him the space after the first few attempts. He just happened to come back like a dog that would keep after it’s owner.

If Shino had described the girl he had been with Kiba would know that it was Sakura and that would explain all of the texts. He would just have to hope that right now was one of those periods that Kiba was annoyed with Naruto and wouldn’t bring up anything to him. That was last person Sasuke wanted to know about what was going on with him and Sakura.

Whatever it was that was going on.

It was still confusing but he did know what it would be disastrous if everyone else knew what had been going on between them before he could clearly define for himself what it was. He was going to need to deal with that soon.

But first, a shower.

Karin was humming and usually that was a bad sign especially before she had any caffeine in her system, but Sakura couldn’t help but find her cute.

When she had come back from her date she had burst through the door of Ino and Sakura’s room and practically launched herself on top of Sakura’s bed. At first Sakura thought she was upset but Karin had just laid there with a dreamy expression on her face. It had clearly been a good night.

She was in such a good mood she didn’t even care about having to wake up early the following Monday for the first day of classes which annoyed Sakura who was still upset over her new packed schedule.

“Where are you off to now?” Sakura questioned as she wrapped her infinity scarf around her neck.

“Comp-Sci. I’ll probably run into Sasuke ‘cause we gotta take most of the same classes.” Karin reached over and adjusted Sakura’s beanie. “Can’t wait to bug him all semester.”

“Ughh, I gotta go to Orgo. Ino has it on different days but we have the same professor so that’s something at least.”

“Why? Because it makes it easier to help her study for tests?”


Karin snickered and swung her backpack over her shoulder. Ino had been a brat the entire night before because unfortunately for her, she had no choice but to take her Organic Chemistry class in the morning.

“You want to grab a real lunch today or just get some doughnuts?”

“Doughnuts require more walking but I’m also craving some real bad.” Sakura took out her planner and groaned. “I can’t. I have UNIV after Orgo.”

“Sucks to suck,” Karin taunted her. “I’m completely free today after Comp-Sci.”

Sakura clasped her hands together and pouted. Karin rolled her eyes and nodded. Sakura threw her arms around her torso and squeezed her tight.

“Thankyouthankyouthankyou!” Sakura lifted Karin up and put her back down. “Make sure to grab some of the maple bacon ones please. And french crullers, those are my favorite.”

“You owe me!” Karin shouted after her but Sakura just waved back at her as she rushed out of the building to make her way to the one housing her class.

Sasuke had half a mind to skip his UNIV class. He had wasted so much energy on spending an entire two hour class with Karin. When he saw her enter the computer lab he had tried to hide behind his monitor but it was too late. She had noticed he was in the room faster than he could duck and she made a beeline straight to the only computer available next to him.

Sasuke always chose the most inconvenient seat so that he would only have to deal with one neighbor. It didn’t matter where he sat, he would learn just fine.

Not that it deterred Karin from taking the seat right next to him.

He was already tired from the phone call with Kiba the night before. He had teased him in between bouts of barely concealed snickering that they could double date but congratulated him. That was the better part of the phone call before Kiba started complaining about Naruto and how he was moping and being clingy because Gaara wouldn’t even look at him.

“That’s not my problem,” Sasuke had told him before hanging up. Kiba of course had attempted to call back repeatedly but gave up finally after the fifth time he reached Sasuke’s voicemail.

He would have skipped but he knew better than to waste any of his allowed absences on the first day of the semester.

Sasuke had finally opened up the assigned reading and read the section he was meant to have read by the first day of classes. There was a small voice in the back of his mind reminding him that Sakura had already read it and that there was a high chance that she had actually finished reading the entire text and made annotations.

The only positive of the mandatory UNIV class was that it counted as the English credits he would need for his degree without actually taking any English courses.

As soon as he entered the lecture hall he headed straight for the back row. It was the least recommended section to be in but it almost always ensured that he wouldn’t be sitting next to anyone unless it was a large class. Even then he would only have one seat neighbor considering he sat in the very last seat in the row.

One by one his classmates filed in, choosing seats as close to the front as possible. Feeling secure in his decision he pulled out his text and notebook from his messenger bag and reviewed what he had read the day before.

“What? You didn’t finish the reading yet?”

Sasuke shifted his gaze to the right and caught Sakura pulling out her materials from her backpack. As soon as she had everything she needed out, she shifted in her seat so that she was facing him.

“Hey,” she greeted him. “Fancy meeting you here.”

For the first time since high school, Sakura Haruno was in one of his classes.

Mirepoix Chapter 3

Chapter Three: Exposed

Sakura scanned the shift schedule one more time. She squinted at the board willing it to look differently.

“Everyone’s working on the fourteenth.” She frowned at the board. “Not a single staff member is off…”

“It’s always like that.” A soft voice just behind her almost made her jump.

The pleasantly plump pastry chef was just behind her, pulling at her long dark hair. Sakura never had a chance to speak to her before but always got the impression that she looked a bit like the petit fours she made. She mainly kept to herself and her station and if it weren’t for the occasional moments when Sasuke would shout at her for moving too slowly, Sakura would forget she was even there.

“Oh, it’s you Hinata.”

“No one ever gets off on Valentine’s Day. It’s our busiest day of the year.”

“That seems a little unfair. What if you wanted to spend the holiday with your boyfriend?”

“You would need to get a boyfriend first, forehead girl.” Ino tossed her jacket over Sakura’s head and immediately started stripping. Hinata pulled her hood over head and covered her eyes.

“This is a mixed gender locker room.” Sakura tossed the jacket back over Ino’s head.

“It’s nothing anyone here hasn’t seen before.” Tenten, the brunette Ino had told Sakura worked as the boucher, opened up her locker next to Ino’s and stuffed her bag.

“You know you like what you see,” Ino teased, reaching over and tickling Tenten’s sides.

“I’ve never been into blondes.” Tenten smacked Ino’s arms away, trying to catch her breath. “Or girls taller than me.”

Tenten pulled out her smock and slid her arms into the sleeves. After she was done she pulled up her pigtails and styled them into twin buns.

“Wait,” Sakura whispered to Ino, “I thought she and Neji were a thing. They always head home together.”

“Nah, they’re just roommates. But I’m sure Neji has a thing for her. Must suck being hung up on someone that━”

“Neji isn’t interested in women,” Hinata interrupted. This time Sakura did jump. For some reason she thought Hinata had walked out already. “He’s just protective of her and vice versa due to solidarity. People tend to make that mistake.”

“You need a bell or something,” Sakura muttered, embarrassed.

“Kiba says that all of the time.”

“Well guess I should expect to hear some griping from Naruto,” Sakura sighed, feeling exhausted already. The boy was a ball of energy and was always talking her ear off whether she actually paid attention to him or not. “He probably won’t be able to see his boyfriend that day either.”

“Boyfriend?” Ino cocked her quizzically as she adjusted her bandana on her head. “Naruto doesn’t have a boyfriend.”

“What?” Sakura rubbed her eyes with her thumb and forefinger. “I could have sworn the produce delivery guy was his boyfriend.”

Ino burst into a fit of laughter and wrapped an arm around Hinata’s shoulders.

“No he’s just super friendly so people think he’s always flirting. Wanna hear something scandalous, Sakura?”

“Ino, no!” Hinata cried. Her voice was louder than Sakura had ever heard it.

“That dumbass hooked up with Hinata on New Year’s Eve. They both got drunk and headed to his place after our staff party.”

Hinata glared at Ino but the effect was lost with her round cheeks puffing out and blooming pink. It was more of a pout than anything.

Sakura tried to recall anything about Naruto that would give her the impression that he was dating the pastry chef. She caught him being friendlier than he should and begging her for treats but nothing that she would call romantic.

“Don’t worry about it.” Ino waved her hand dismissively. “It gets confusing. Right, Hinata?”

Hinata sighed and worried her lip.

“I keep thinking he’s asking me on dates but Kiba or someone else usually tags along.”

It was the most disgruntled Sakura had seen her and it made her want to pinch Hinata’s cheek. She and Neji looked so similar but she was so soft that any familial similarities in appearance still made it difficult to tie the two as cousins.

“Well at least Hinata has someone to be confused about.” Ino patted the top of Hinata’s head. “Unlike Sakura.”

“I’m too busy to date,” Sakura huffed.

It wasn’t a lie. She was still a student and all of her free time went to work shifts, studying, and clinicals. Nursing school was enough stress as it was and dating just wasn’t an option.

Sakura never liked hook up culture and had deleted the dating app she had been using. One too many pricks messaging her and the “safe” men she did end up going out with had her turned off from even attempting to put herself out there.

“Yeah, sure.” Ino snorted. “You just don’t want to put any effort.”

“Says the woman who ended up dating a coworker.” Sakura adjusted her tie and grabbed her apron.

“That’s completely different,” Ino grunted as she shimmied out of her skinny jeans to change into her work slacks. “Chefs have, like, no life. You just choose to not have one.”

“I do not,” Sakura denied. “Stop making me look bad in front of Hinata.”

Sakura peered out of her peripheral to where the woman had been standing but the spot was empty.

“When did she━? I swear she was just in here.”

“She does that a lot. Especially when she’s avoiding someone. You’ll get used to it.” Ino had barely pulled out a fresh t-shirt from her backpack when Sasuke had walked into the locker room.

He walked straight to his locker and pulled out his cell phone, typed something, and then put it back. Without even glancing over at Ino he slipped out of the locker room like he had never entered in the first place.

Sakura gestured to the doorway and then back to Ino’s shirtless body. Ino cocked her hip and crossed her arms in front of her sports bra covered chest and snickered at Sakura’s floundering.

“Yeah, the man doesn’t even flinch. I might as well be one of the lockers.” Ino finally pulled her shirt over her head and shrugged her smock over it. “It was a little insulting at first. Would have kept being insulting if he weren’t like that with everyone.”

“With just women or━?”

Everyone,” Ino insisted. “He’s the definition of not having a life.”

“Oh,” she muttered dully.

That wasn’t surprising at all to Sakura. In the few weeks that she had been working at Wisteria Place, no matter how late she stayed past all of the employees and even Ms. Kato, Sasuke was always the last to leave. It could be one in the morning and she was dragging her weary feet and he would be in his office going over paperwork or giving the kitchen one last inventory check.

It was one of the rare moments he seemed almost relaxed. There was no shouting or glares.

Sakura found it a shame he wasn’t like that usually. He was pretty cute that way.

Not that she had time to think about that.

“Neji’s doing that thing again,” Sakura chatted away with Ino as she picked up her food. “Is it really that big of a deal what wine you drink with your meal?”

“Trust me, it is.” Ino nodded seriously and leaned over the service counter. “Don’t let him hear you ask that or he’ll make you go to a seminar.”

“Is it really that bad?”

“I’ll help you with that later. Now,” Ino tapped a bowl with her short nails, “take the soups to the diners.”

“You just wanna wine me up,” Sakura teased her as she grabbed her dishes.

“Oh, you know it.” Ino winked back flirtatiously. She giggled to herself as she plated for service.

Because of work and Sakura being in school she barely got to see her friend. Ino jumped at the chance at bringing Sakura to Wisteria Place when she needed a job. Now they could joke back and forth and talk during breaks.

Ino hadn’t been kidding earlier when she had called Sakura out on not putting any effort to have a social life.

I swear she’s as bad as Chef Uchiha, Ino grumbled inwardly, refusing to flinch as Sasuke barked an order across the kitchen.

At least he was yelling.

It was worse when he wasn’t.

“Quit distracting Haruno,” Sasuke scolded. “You can’t afford to waste time either.”

A “yes chef” was on the tip of her tongue but she  bit back the words, her mind working double time on his earlier statement.

“Oh,” Ino turned to him and gave him a sly smile, “you called a waitress by name.”

“Get back to work.”

Ino couldn’t even feel bad about being shouted at. She just hummed to herself as she made sure all of the plates were clean and ready for service.

Sighing to herself, Sakura massaged the base of her neck where it met her shoulders and rolled her neck. She hadn’t expected to take so long to fold the cloth napkins, but one of the waitresses had a family emergency and left her alone after the rest of the wait staff had left for the night.

“We could switch tasks if you would like to complain,” Neji had warned her off from whining about how many napkins there had been to fold. He had been helping until it was time to gather all of the written checks and match them with what was input into the computer system.

He had left earlier when Tenten dragged him away insisting they hit a club. Neji looked absolutely scandalized when Tenten had mentioned opening up his dating app and “shaking out the cobwebs” in front of Sakura but she pretended she hadn’t heard a thing.

Just because she lacked any sort of sex life didn’t mean she would tease others for theirs.

She should have gone home earlier when Ino insisted. Neji had reminded her that the first shift wait staff could finish up folding napkins but she wasn’t ready to head home yet. Ino and Sai looked so cute walking with their arms linked as they left the restaurant that she didn’t want to intrude and be the third wheel.

They were just as busy as she was and it was difficult for them to get any time alone between working at Wisteria Place and Sai’s time as a resident artist.

If we had showers here that would have been great.

Sakura sighed heavily as she reached behind her back and untied her apron and made her way to the locker room. She couldn’t wait to be home so she could wash away all of the sweat and grime that accumulated throughout her shift.

Going to have to take some uniforms to the cleaners.

Sakura shimmied her shoulders to shrug her button down shirt off. Being the last one to leave at the end of the night had the wonderful perk of privacy. She hated wearing her work clothes on public transportation. Unbuttoning her slacks, she let them drop to the floor before bending over at the waist to pick them up. A cough had her snapping back up quickly.

She spun around and clutched her pants to her body to cover up as much of herself as possible.

“Chef Uchiha!” Sakura squeaked, slamming backward into the lockers. “Oowww!”

She had forgotten about her still healing bruise. It no longer bothered her except when she applied too much pressure to the area. She reached around to soothe the area, wincing at the throbbing.

“Oh, shit.”

Sakura felt a hand gripping her upper arm and another reaching for her hip when she dropped her pants to push Sasuke away.

“No, I’m good! I’m really, really good!” Sakura continued to push until he took a step back. “Just, please, leave.”

“Right.” Sasuke nodded and averted his gaze. “Just let me know when you’re done.”

As soon as he exited the locker room, closing the door on his way out, Sakura fell back against the lockers and slid down onto the cool linoleum floor.“Oh. My. Fucking. God.”

Differential Chapter 10

Chapter Ten: “Exercise”

“And the asshole actually pointed it out!”

Sakura bit on the rim of her paper coffee cup to hold back her laughter. Karin had finally got back to their dorm and the three of them were taking a break from helping her unpack to grab some coffee and doughnuts.

“I know I gained weight during the holidays. Sai didn’t have to bring it up. It really killed the mood.”

“Why are you complaining? It mostly went straight to your tits and ass,” Karin snickered.

“Okay but I would gladly trade with you if it meant I wouldn’t gain weight.”

“I wish I gained weight,” Karin muttered biting down on the straw of her frappe. “But then again, I’m also glad that I don’t actually need to wear a bra.”

“Yeah on second thought, I’m glad I’m not as flat as a board.”

Ino side stepped around Sakura to avoid Karin clawing at her. She used her longer legs to take long strides away from her. Karin gave up and sidled up next to Sakura, hooking her arm with hers.

“I’m surprised you aren’t bitching about weight gain.” Karin nudged Sakura. “You’re usually off on a run twice a day because of some imaginary pudge on your thighs and butt.”

“Yeah!” Ino strolled back, closing the distance she had created. She took hold of Sakura’s face between her thumb and fingers and squeezed her cheeks. “And your face is usually all rounded out after eating too many sweets ‘cause you went back home. But you’re actually kind of….glowing?”

“I just exercised a lot.”

Ino and Karin burst out in laughter earning them both a glare from Sakura.

“You never exercise during the holidays.” Ino wiped at her eye with the heel of her palm. “You turn into slug mode and then end up with chipmunk cheeks after they’re over.”

“Well, I was good this year.” Sakura tossed her hair over her shoulder and kept her chin up.

“That or naughty,” Karin snickered. Her laughter died out when she realized that Sakura hadn’t vocally reacted to what she had said. Usually she would be protesting and tell her to get her mind out of the gutter.

“Hold this for a sec.” Sakura held out her paper cup toward Ino.

“Uh, sure?” Ino took the cup and as soon as she had a proper hold of it, Sakura took off running across the campus courtyard.

“What the hell!?” Karin shrieked. She wasn’t going to attempt to chase Sakura. Despite her shorter legs, Sakura was faster than even Ino.

“Forehead get back here!”

Sakura leapt over a short hedge and continued until she went around the corner of a building and was out of sight.

“Oh wow, she really didn’t want to have this conversation.” Karin tapped her chin with a finger. “Suspicious.”

“What the fuck am I supposed to do with her latte? I hate soy milk.” Ino took a sip of Sakura’s latte and gagged.

“Give me. It’s free caffeine.”

“You’ve got a serious problem.” Ino grimaced as Karin downed Sakura’s leftover latte in one gulp.

“I do actually. I wanted to talk to you guys about my date coming up but the little ho just took off running.”

“Oh. Right. That bartender you said you’ve been texting a lot.” Ino stuffed her hands into her peacoat pockets. “The one that doesn’t know how old you actually are.”

“I think she’s smart enough to have figured out my age when she walked me to the dorm but, like, I don’t want her to back off because I’m not even legal to drink yet.”

Karin sighed, tucking her face into the collar of her bubble coat. She knew it was a chance that Tenten would be turned off due to the fact she hadn’t cleared up that one little fact.

Why do I always have to be into older people? Karin grumbled inwardly.

When she was younger she had a crush on Sasuke that had lasted the fifteen minutes it took Itachi to come home from hanging out with his friends. Karin had followed Sasuke around the whole summer in the hopes of getting some of his older brother’s attention but any kindness he shared was due to her being a family friend.

The summer before she graduated from high school she had gotten a job as a lifeguard and developed a crush on her manager who was twice her age. Almost all of the employees knew she had a crush on the older woman but the age gap was too large for anyone to take Karin’s infatuation seriously.

“So, what? You’re just going to keep using your fake for the entirety of your relationship?”

“Nah. We’ll just see if tomorrow is my first and last date.” Karin shrugged. “And then if I tank the date, I’ll make Suigetsu take me out for drinks and hook up with whatever girl he had his eye on all night. It would be hilarious and make me feel a bit better.”

“So back to your regular weekend plans?”

Karin stopped walking and stared at her feet. The way Ino said it made it seem…sad. She had never had a problem before with hooking up. It was fun and she enjoyed having a healthy sex life.

Sure she would prefer to have a date during daylight hours. And hold someone’s hand. And worry about the best gift to give at holidays. Maybe even introduce them to her friends or her mother.

It would be a nice change.

“I don’t even know what a real date is supposed to be like,” Karin mumbled.

But it was terrifying to think about it.

“You forgot you had to come back here didn’t you?”

Ino had her arms crossed in front of her chest and was tapping her foot when Sakura entered their dorm room.

“Have you really been standing there the whole time, just waiting for me to come back?”

“She asked the same question to the wrong roommates twice before you showed up.” Karin was lying on the couch with a sheet mask on her face.

Ignoring them, Sakura slipped out of her boots and into her red, fuzzy house slippers. When they first brought a cubby for their shoes Karin’s roommate had argued that it was wasting space. Luckily the other roommates liked the idea because it kept them from tracking dirt from outside all over the linoleum floor which meant they had to sweep less often.

The girl didn’t like losing and ever since then Karin’s roommate was always on her case and turning on the lights at night when Karin was trying to sleep.

Sakura had half expected to find their shoe cubbies missing when they came back from winter break considering they left it behind despite being warned to pack up all of their items and take them back home by their resident advisor.

“We’re sorry by the way,” Karin apologized, sitting up to make room for her on the couch. “You usually don’t mind when we tease you like that. It wasn’t even as bad as it usually is.”

“You were acting weird during break too.” Ino sprawled on both of their laps wrapping her arms around Sakura’s neck.

“It’s not exactly something I wanna talk about.”

Ino opened her mouth to say something but Karin pinched her thigh. Shaking her head, Karin soothed the spot with a gentle rub.

“Well then let’s talk about me.” Karin stretched her arms in front of her, interlocking her fingers. “The world doesn’t revolve around you, y’know.”

“Alrighty then,” Sakura rolled her eyes, “what does Princess Karin want to talk about?”

Karin sighed dramatically, shifting her body so she could drape herself against Sakura’s shoulder.

“I was all alone in Kusa while you guys were having fun hanging out every day. And no one thought about poor, little Karin…”

“Shut up!” Ino used a throw pillow to smack her in the face. “You couldn’t have been that lonely considering you have a date tomorrow night and you just got back.”

“It was still lonely!” Karin smacked her back with another one of the throw pillows. “It was just texting. Not like she drove all the way to Kusa to visit.”

“What are you guys doing?” Sakura, not wanting to be a casualty in their pillow fight, grabbed Ino’s pillow mid swing and stuffed it behind her. “Hopefully not going to a bar, right?”

Karin bit her bottom lip and gave her a sheepish grin and a shrug. Sakura groaned and pinched the bridge of her nose.

“Eww! Don’t do that.” Karin gagged and pulled Sakura’s hand away from her nose. “That’s Sasuke’s thing. Disgusting. We don’t condone Sasuke-ish actions in this house.”

“You’re such a drama queen.”

“They’re going bowling,” Ino giggled, “which is hilarious considering Karin is really competitive for someone with no hand-eye coordination.”

“Shut up!” Karin pushed Ino off of her lap so that she rolled onto the floor. Turning to Sakura, she worried her lip and wrung her hands into the hem of her sweater. “Did I fuck up by letting her pick what we’re doing?”

“Wow, you’re really hung up on this aren’t you?”

“Is no one going to ask me if I’m okay?” Ino grumbled, rolling onto her side.

“No,” Karin and Sakura answered in sync.

“I just want this to go right for once,” Karin explained, nudging Ino with her foot. “So, I don’t know, I guess I’ll take this slow for a change.”

Slow? Sakura bit the inside of her cheek. Why did it seem like everyone around her had a much better handle on their love life than she did? Well, everyone except Naruto who she had heard made a fool of himself his first week back at school by chasing after Gaara. It was something about Gaara’s birthday but Sakura didn’t get all of the details.

“Does hooking up first lower the chance of a relationship forming?” She muttered just loud enough for her friends to hear.

“I wouldn’t say that,” Ino treaded carefully. “Sai and I were supposed to just be a one time thing but that ended up as something.”

“And then there’s me who usually runs in the opposite direction if I see an old hookup somewhere,” Karin offered with a shrug. “It’s different for everyone.”

“Why do you ask?” Ino narrowed her eyes suspiciously.

“I was just curious.” Sakura looked past Ino’s shoulder, no daring to look her in the eye. “Because of Karin’s predicament.”

“Okay…?” Ino pursed her lips. It was likely she was going to bring up the conversation again.

I fucked up, Sakura groaned inwardly. No way is she going to just drop it.

It’s cold as balls!

Sakura cupped her hands in front of her face and breathed on them for warmth. She hadn’t planned on going for a run but she had insisted she needed the exercise when Ino picked up a call from Sai.

“No, go ahead invite him over,” she argued, pulling on a pair of leggings. “I’m probably going to stop by the gym too so take your time.”

She was trying to be considerate but mostly she wanted any excuse to escape the dorm room where Ino could corner her into having a conversation she really didn’t want to have.

Using the excuse of much needed exercise, Sakura had changed into her work out gear and headed out. Exercising was more of an old habit than an attempt at staying slim. She was used to being active and staying still for too long made her feel restless.

During her ballet days if she weren’t at the studio or using the open space of the Uchiha family’s den she would be out running or at the gym to stay trim. She needed to stay in shape and stay conscious of her weight. There was a time she was obsessed with staying thin.

It didn’t help that she wanted to look good for a certain someone. A certain someone that started to randomly ignore her halfway through high school.

Sakura shook her head and turned a corner, not wanting her thoughts to stray anywhere near that period of her life.

“Ah, fuck.”

Of course she would end up in front of Sasuke’s much nicer dorm building. It wasn’t as if she had planned on it but somehow her feet still carried her there.


And of course as soon as she realized where she was Sasuke would be exiting his dorm, pulling his hood over his head.

“Oh.” Sasuke stood before her. If he was surprised to see her no one would have ever known with how still his features were.

“I’m just out running.”


Oh? Really. Oh? Is that all I’m gonna get?

Sakura shifted her weight on the balls of her feet. Leave it to Sasuke to make her feel like her skin was too tight with just a single word.

“Ino has Sai over  so I thought maybe I should get some exercise in to give them some privacy.”

Sasuke crossed his arms in front of his chest and nodded, more to let her know that he was listening than anything else.

“But I could skip the workout,” Sakura offered nonchalantly. Her insides were squirming with his lack of response. “Or not.”

She attempted to side step around him when a hand shot out and grabbed her wrist. She stared at him quizzically before his fingers slid down and intertwined with her own. Without saying a word he led her inside the lobby of his dorm.

Sasuke grabbed the clipboard from the front desk and filled out a line.

“Suite 302B.”


“ID card?” The clerk asked Sakura.


Sakura took out her student identification card and handed it over. The clerk had barely stuffed it into the binder for guests when Sasuke was leading her down the hall to the elevator.

Not like she needed the run anyway.

Kingdom For Two Chapter 25

Chapter Twenty-Five: It’s A Long Drive

The days were long but they were also quick. The days were blurring together and Sasuke wasn’t entirely sure what the date exactly was. If it weren’t for his mother constantly reminding him of how he needed to get to packing and shopping for his new dorm he wouldn’t even have been aware of how quickly his move in date was approaching.

“Why are you even moving into a dorm?” Sasuke cut Naruto off in his ranting. He had come over to play video games in the media room and had started whining about how his mother was constantly on his case.

“Life would be easier don’t you think?” Naruto rolled his eyes. “No fighting for parking or waking early as hell to fight against traffic and make sure I get to class on time.”

Sasuke snorted. The excuse sounded reasonable but he knew his spoiled friend had played his parents.

“As if you would sign up for any classes before lunch time.”

“You’re right I wouldn’t.”

They were quiet after that, only the sound of buttons clicking and the upbeat music coming through the speakers filling the room.

“You’re going to come back on weekends, right?”

Indra Otsutsuki College was only a two hour drive away. Sasuke could technically drive up to the city every weekend and spend two days visiting his family and friends and getting his laundry done at home and letting his mother stuff him with home cooking.

But the chance of that actually happening was very low.

Four hours of driving would cut into valuable time to study or work on assignments. As much as the idea irritated him he knew he would have to join at least one study group if not more depending on what his professors were like. Most students would only be free on weekends to meet up.

On top of the drive, Sasuke would be coming up to see Dr. Yamanaka which was more of a priority than seeing his friends according to his parents. He wasn’t going to drive up on a Saturday and ditch his psychiatrist when that was the whole point of driving up to the city in the first place.

“We’ll see.”

It needed a new radio and when the seasons changed she was going to have to wait almost an hour for it to warm up properly but Sakura was already in love with her car.

“It’s red,” Ino giggled. “Can we call it Ladybug?”

The little Bug was adorable and compact, perfect for city parking. Sakura had cooed over it the whole weekend as her mother gave her a refresher on car maintenance in the parking lot behind their family’s café.

“Has Sasuke commented on your car yet?”

“He called it ‘fitting’,” Sakura made air quotes with her fingers, “whatever the hell that means.

“I think that’s your boyfriend’s way of calling you cute,” Sai guessed. “And small.”

“Oh!” Ino gasped. “We should call it Karin Jr. because you know, it’s red and small.”

“I’m not naming my car after Karin and she will probably kill you for the explanation to that suggestion.”

“How are you going to fornicate in it?” Sai asked. “Does Sasuke even fit in the car? That’s some kind of gymnastics.”


Sakura’s face heated up as Ino burst into a fit of laughter. The way Ino’s eyes kept flitting over to Sai the whole time Sakura was showing off her car should have been a warning that he was going to say something inappropriate. After years of dating Ino had developed a sixth sense for when Sai was about to say something to embarrass one of their friends.

“I’m going home!”

“Oh, come on Sakura.” Ino tugged on her arm to keep her from storming off. “Sai was only kidding.”

“No, I really wanna know how that━”

Ino elbowed Sai and gave him a look that had him shutting his mouth tight.

“No I have to go home anyway. There’s some stuff I wanna get done before Sasuke leaves this week. He’s gotta move into his dorm and then has orientation stuff on Monday.”

“Oh. Are you guys doing anything special before he leaves?”

“Why is it inappropriate for me to bring up their sex life but not you?” Sai interjected before Sakura could answer.

“Because that wasn’t referencing their sex life,” Ino groaned, wiping a hand down her face. “At least that wasn’t my intention.”

“Yeah, leaving now.”

Sakura waved behind her as she made her way to the driver’s side of her car. She could hear Ino reprimanding Sai through the car window. Something about minding the subject of conversation when they were on the sidewalk in front of her parents’ shop.

As much as they liked to tag team against her she was going to miss seeing them everyday. Ino was going to the same school and they tried to align their schedules to match and to have the same classes but it wasn’t possible to completely match up. And then Sai was going to the art school. The school was in the city and shared campus grounds with Senju University, but outside of scheduled meetups they weren’t going to be able to run into him as often as they used to.

Naruto was having the same struggle. The three of them had tried hard to get into the same classes but they were only successful when it came to their required UNIV courses that all underclassmen had to take.

“I’m going to fail if you guys aren’t in my science credit with me!” Naruto had wailed when he realized he was going to be alone in his Biology class. Sakura and Ino had been able to calm him down only after thirty minutes of assurance that they would get together to study.

Sakura was already missing everyone even though most of her friends were going to be going to schools nearby. All except one.

And she was going to miss him most of all.

The summer between high school and college was supposed to feel more monumental than it did. At least that was what Sasuke assumed.

Left and right all of his classmates were packing up their things and salivating for their first taste of real freedom. No more curfews or parents breathing down their necks.

But all he felt was numb to it all.

Going away to school didn’t feel like he was going to be any more free than he was at home. It didn’t feel like freedom to be alone and far away.

“You have everything ready?” Itachi asked, sliding a teacup across the bartop.

“Yeah I’ve got everything packed up and just sitting in my car.”

“You’ve got swipes for food. Make sure to use them. Hm?” Shisui stared him down from where he was standing by the sink cleaning vegetables in a vinegar wash.

It was always odd watching Shisui in a domestic setting. Sasuke was used to Itachi or Izumi working around each other and acting like real adults. Shisui never really had that chance when they were at his parents’ house.

Sasuke just had to remember that it was Shisui’s apartment first before Itachi moved in. He was so used to the three of them as a unit he sometimes forgot they were individuals.

“Izumi still at work?”

“Yeah,” Shisui replied as he moved on to slicing ingredients. “Unfortunately she couldn’t get the day off because she wanted to save her free day to see you off.”

“You guys are still coming to see me off?” Sasuke’s mouth quirked to the side and he bit his lower lip. Although Shisui and Itachi still saw his dad at work and his mother was visiting them at their apartment often the three of them hadn’t come over the entire summer.

“Well, father and mother did invite us,” Itachi answered. He averted his gaze, looking at his teacup instead of Sasuke, and drummed his fingers against the ceramic cup.

“Is that,” Sasuke shrugged his shoulders as he tried to find a better way to ask and failing, “okay?”

“Father has been,” Itachi looked up at the ceiling and then off to the side as if the refrigerator would grant him the answer, “oddly accepting.”


“Yeah, it’s kind of freaky…” Shisui shivered and shook his head. “I expected him to either ignore us or say something awful but he’s just…living life as usual. Except occasionally he’ll check in and it’s so awkward. I think I’m in trouble when he pulls me into his office and it’s literally just to ask how Itachi is doing.”

“That’s…really confusing.”

“You’re telling me.” Shisui sighed and prepared a wok for stir-fry. “I have so much anxiety now.”

Itachi laughed and poured himself more tea, taking out his medication he needed to take with his meal. Shisui served a portion for Itachi and then a much larger portion for Sasuke.

“Eat up kid.” Shisui glared, gesturing with his fingers to his eyes and back at Sasuke to say he was keeping his on him.

Sasuke rolled his eyes  and made a show of taking a bite of chicken. The more Sasuke tried to eat, the blander the food tasted.

Dad accepted Itachi as he is…

Sasuke pushed his food around his plate with his fork.

That’s kind of…irritating.

“He makes it look so easy,” Sakura grumbled, forcefully capping her paint pen. She grabbed another color and shook the pen so that the paint would flow to the tip.

She followed in parallel to the previous color as much as she could, trying to keep her lines as straight as possible with no wobbles.

“At least my handwriting is nicer I guess.”

Sakura sighed and grabbed another color, tracing over the lettering she had drawn on the CD with pencil. When she finished she threw her hands up in the air in triumph. She tilted her head to the side and examined her work.

“Oh, he’s going to laugh at me.”

Sakura burst into giggles. She knew she was no artist but she was sure she did a good enough job. It was her third attempt at trying to decorate the CD and it was the best of the set.

I hope he likes it.

Sasuke lifted his fork full of pasta and let it unravel, letting it plop down on his plate. He twirled his fork to gather some pasta and repeated the process.

“Stop playing with your food,” Fugaku grumbled. He hadn’t commented on the dish of choice but his lips had tightened into a straight line and practically disappeared when he noticed the vegetarian dish.

Sasuke didn’t have to wonder why that was the case even though his mother had prepared a dish he liked that just happened to be vegetarian.

“I’m packing some up so you can have it for dinner when you get to your dorm,” Mikoto offered. Her eyes shifted down to his plate of  where he was mashing zucchini and roasted tomatoes with his fork. “You’ll remember to eat right?”

Sasuke shrugged and went back to twirling his pasta around his fork. He twirled it and twirled it, attempting to gather as much pasta as he could.

“It will probably be late,” Shisui attempted to answer for him. “He’ll probably unpack all of his stuff and then crash right after. Sasuke will probably end up eating his dinner for breakfast.”

“I’ve never been to Otsutsuki College but the campus photos look beautiful,” Izumi budged in, taking the cue from Shisui. “It must be exciting, getting away from the city.”

“You’re going to do fine.”

Sasuke lifted his head at the sound of his brother’s voice. Itachi gave his usual gentle reassuring smile. Sasuke nodded but made no attempt to join the conversation.

Lunch had gone like that the whole day and if Sasuke didn’t block out the noise for most of it he would have probably stormed off. The amount of attention he was receiving was making his skin feel tight and the spaces between his fingers itch.

Normally during meal times discussions centered around work or Itachi’s health. Seldom did they come around to talking about Sasuke━and that’s what it was, about him not with him. It didn’t really seem to matter if he was there or not.

So he checked out.

I should just leave early…

It wasn’t like there was really any reason he should spend more time at home. He watched them all greet each other awkwardly and then sat through lunch where they bumbled through the topic of Sasuke’s university life.

All of my stuff is already in my car anyway.

Izumi gave him a wavering smile as she picked up his plate, helping his mother clear the table. Off in the great room, he could hear his father criticizing Shisui’s apartment and asking him and Itachi when they planned to move a more suitable apartment, closer to the hospital and with more room. His mother burst into a peal of laughter and Izumi apologized repeatedly about something to do with the kitchen sink.

Scooting his chair back, Sasuke removed himself from the dining room and made his way to the foyer. He grabbed his keys, gripping them in his fist so they wouldn’t jingle and give him away. As silently as possible he slipped out the front door, shutting it softly. Without turning back he made his way to his car. Rounding the hood to get to the driver’s side door.

He would have smoothly made his getaway if it weren’t for the fact Sakura was leaning against the side of his Jeep.


“Figured you would try to take off without saying anything.” Sakura rolled her eyes and stood on her toes, looping her arms around his neck. “I love you but you’re such an idiot sometimes.”

“Well,” Sasuke wrapped his fingers around her wrists, “I gotta go before they figure out what I did.”

“You were going to leave me hanging weren’t you?” Sakura narrowed her eyes at him, lips pursing. “And here I am with a gift for you.”

“Gift?” Sasuke quirked his mouth to the side. He had said his goodbyes to his friends the day before, not sure if he was going to be able to before he left and Sakura hadn’t said anything about a gift.

“Yep, it’s already in your car actually. Check the passenger seat.” Sakura tugged, keeping a hold of him and pressed a chaste kiss to his mouth. “Don’t leave me hanging when you leave. Call or text me after you’ve settled, ‘kay?”

“Aa.” Sasuke nodded and gave her another quick kiss before pulling out of her embrace. “But I really do have to go now.”

“Yeah. yeah. I should get going to before they find out that you escaped.”

Sasuke snuck into his car and pulled away as he put his seatbelt on, rushing out of the driveway and out of the cul-de-sac.

“Just going to put this on silent,” he muttered tossing his phone on the passenger seat.

Groping around his hand met with a plastic CD case. He flipped it to look at the clear front and in Sakura’s bubbly handwriting it just read “i love you” in all lowercase letters over a colorful spiral pattern.

Well, I’ve got a long drive ahead of me, he chuckled inwardly taking the disc out of its case. It’s always going to be a long drive…