Take Me Now, I’m In Too Far part 1

She was going to kill Karin. And her stupid boyfriend. She was going to kill Karin and her boyfriend and then take back the armchair she let them have as a moving-in-together gift.

Sakura wasn’t that surprised when Karin told her she was moving out. She had been spending so much time at Suigetsu’s apartment, it was as if she had already moved out months ago. It was only a matter of time before the two of them would officially move in together.

Karin had been considerate and had found her a new roommate before she gave her the news. And although Sakura wasn’t too keen on the idea of living with a stranger—a man at that—she was willing to put up with it for her friend’s happiness.

At least for a few months while she looked for a new place if possible.

Unfortunately for Sakura, she couldn’t set a day to actually meet her new roommate before he was set to move in. Their schedules conflicted most days so Karin went ahead and took care of all of the necessary paperwork and was present when he moved in. With how things had begun, Sakura assumed she wouldn’t meet her new roommate until her day off.

She hadn’t expected to run into him as she was leaving for work at the bakery at three in the morning and he was coming home smelling of booze.

She definitely didn’t expect to see her ex boyfriend holding a key to her apartment.

“You’ve got to be shitting me,” Sasuke muttered, running a hand through his messy, jet black hair.

You’re my new roommate?” Sakura scoffed, wringing her hands in the scarf she was attempting to put on on her way out. “How did you not know that I was Karin’s roommate?”

Sasuke looked at her impassively for a moment, as if mulling over what he wanted to say before pushing past her and saying, “I’m going to bed.”

“What? We’re not even going to talk about this?”

“If we start now, you’re going to be late for work,” he called back to her without turning around. “Can’t have that can we?”

Sakura scoffed but couldn’t retort. He was right. If she missed her bus she was going to have to wait for the next one and it would cause her to be late.

She wanted nothing more than to bang on his bedroom door and demand that he come out and speak with her. How could he just go to sleep!?

“We’re talking when I get back!” She shouted, grabbing the front door. Sakura waited but there was no response. She growled in frustration and slammed the door behind her on her way out.


“Have you been taking your anger out on dough again?” Ino commented dryly between page flips of a cake catalogue, pointing out cute designs to the toddler sitting on her lap and cooing.

Sakura rubbed her temple with the heel of her palm and sighed. It was one in the afternoon and she had spent the day busy working on custom orders. At the moment she was sitting through a consultation with her childhood friend who needed to order a birthday cake for her son, Inojin. She had tried to throw herself into baking and packaging orders but now that there was a slow down where it was only her and two of the shop clerks, her mind was free to think about how her ex was now living with her.

“You know how Karin moved out and found me a roommate?”

“Uh-huh, it was kind of unexpected. Isn’t it a little early though? They’ve only been dating for━”

“Sasuke is the roommate she found me.”

“Holy━sorry, honey.” Ino interrupted herself and covered her son’s ears. “Holy shit!”

“I wanted to call her and chew her out but in her defense, she doesn’t know he’s my ex-boyfriend.” Sakura slumped in her seat, took a fork and dug into one of the cake slices she brought out for tasting. “When I did get a chance to talk to her earlier, she said that apparently Suigetsu is best buddies with him and Kiba. Kiba and Sasuke were rooming with their friend Shino but the lease was coming to an end and Shino was moving away for a teaching job and Kiba decided to move in with his fiancée. So━”

“So Sasuke needed a new place quick and conveniently Suigetsu knew a place close enough to his workplace and with someone that desperately needed a new roommate.”

Sakura tossed the fork over her shoulder in defeat and dropped her head into her hands. Ino reached over and patted her arm in a comforting manner.

“I give you guys two weeks.”

“Two weeks for what?” Sakura lifted her head up to narrow her eyes at Ino. “Before we kill each other?”

Ino covered Inojin’s ears one more time and said, “Two weeks before you’re fucking.”

“Ino!” Sakura sat up, looking affronted, hand clutching the front of her apron.

“You guys used to go at it like rabbits,” Ino gave her a sly smile, “and it’s not like you guys broke up because you grew to hate each other.”

“That was years ago, Ino.” Sakura rolled her eyes and pushed the cake slices closer to Inojin. He immediately sank his fingers into the cake and ate from his hands. “He’s probably moved on anyway.”

“It was the stupidest break up.”

“I know it was, but we were so busy and our schedules never aligned. It was frustrating.” Sakura sighed and stared off into space. “It’s been four years…”

Ino took out some wet wipes and cleaned Inojin’s chubby fingers. “So what are you going to do?”

Sakura shrugged. “Nothing.”

“Nothing?” Ino looked at her incredulously. “You’re just going to live with him and not do a thing about it.”

“I didn’t even notice he was there for three days already.” Sakura shrugged again. “And our schedules never sync up. I really don’t think it will be an issue.”

“Unless he brings someone home,” Ino said the words slowly so Sakura couldn’t miss what she was telling her.

“He’s not as insensitive as that.” Sakura crossed her arms in front of her chest. The action was to get as close to hugging herself without actually doing it.

The truth was that the Sasuke she knew wasn’t insensitive. But she didn’t know this Sasuke; a Sasuke that was twenty-five instead of the twenty year old she knew and loved.


The new apartment was a lot closer to the tattoo parlor he worked at than his old place. It was one of the things that sold him on it when Suigetsu mentioned that Karin was moving in with him and leaving her old roomie without. That and the washer and dryer included in the apartment which meant no more paying at a laundromat or to use the communal laundry center.

Sasuke wasn’t too keen on sharing a space with a woman he didn’t know but Karin insisted that his roommate was clean and quiet and that with her work schedule he wouldn’t be running into her except on Sundays when her bakery was closed.

Bakery.

That was the first sign that had him want to put the pen down and walk away. Because baking is what she wanted to do for a living. But what were the odds that Karin was talking about her? There were tons of bakeries in the city and Sakura didn’t own one the last time he checked.

But that was five years ago when she was nineteen and too young. She was still pretty young to be a business owner but with Sakura’s tenacity there was a highly likely chance that she would have her own shop. And wasn’t that one of the reasons she had been saving every penny she could when she started working?

Shaking his head of all of those thoughts, he had signed the documents that would transfer him as the new leasee replacing Karin.

It wasn’t until he was moving in that Sasuke found out who exactly Karin’s roommate had been.

Suigetsu and he were bringing in boxes while Karin gave him a tour of the apartment when he saw the photos on the wall. Anyone could dye their hair pink but what were the odds that another pink haired woman around Karin’s age would have gone to Catholic school for high school and wore the same uniform that Sakura used to prance around in.

“Sakura is pretty sentimental so she has photos all over the apartment,” he distantly heard Karin explain as he examined all of the photos that were lined up in the hallway leading to the bedrooms. “Come check out the bathroom. It’s pretty big ‘cause the washer and dryer are set up in there. There’s a door to block out that area from the toilet and shower cabin for some privacy. It’s frosted glass but you can’t really see what’s going on on the other side.”

Karin hadn’t been friends with Sakura when the two of them had been dating so he couldn’t fault her for not knowing but Suigetsu did know that Sakura was his ex.

An ex he was still kind of hung up on.

Which is why after work he headed to the bar with Kiba and Tamaki, Kiba’s fiancée. They were supposed to celebrate him finding a new place but after Kiba asked why Suigetsu wasn’t there, Sasuke explained that he was banned from their usual bar for a few weeks because he let him move in with his ex without warning him.

If he was lucky he would never have to run into Sakura while he was living there. Because wasn’t that the cause of their breakup before? With her busy culinary school schedule and apprenticeship and then his work at the parlor running into late at night, they barely saw each other.

So stumbling in slightly drunk and a little high at three in the morning, Sasuke didn’t expect to see her on the other side of the apartment door in the middle of bundling up for the November cold.

Sakura still looked like she did at nineteen but different at the same time. Her face had lost most of the roundness of youth, but her figure was no longer as slim. She was still on the thin side, but unlike Karin who was all sharp edges and harsh angles, Sakura had filled out either with age or from eating one too many of her own cupcakes.

Sasuke ran a hand through his hair before tucking the arm it was attached to behind his head. He was finding it difficult to stay asleep which was all he had planned on doing before work for the day. Sakura had said something about talking later and he had been dreading having to have the conversation. He vaguely recalled saying something snarky about her running late for work. No doubt she would be upset over that.

The conversation was going to happen. But considering he would be gone before she came home from work, who knew when it would actually take place.

If he was lucky, she would wait until they were home and not find him at work like she used to.


When Sasuke first met Sakura she was wearing all of the cliche warning signs.

He was busy sketching when she strolled into the shop. Sasuke was supposed to be manning the reception desk and was likely to get bitched at by his cousin’s best friend for not paying attention.

“Hey,” greeted a cheerful voice.

Looking up from his sketchbook, Sasuke blinked in confusion at what he was seeing. Before him stood two teenage girls wearing the dark green tartan patterned pleated skirt and white button down shirt of a school uniform. The blonde one had a sweater wrapped around her waist but the slightly shorter girl with rose gold hair had a cream colored school cardigan with the school crest emblazoned on the left side of her chest.

“Our Lady of Sorrows is seven blocks,” Sasuke pointed out the door, “that way.”

“We have an appointment.” The blonde girl blew a bubble with her gum and popped it. “The school day also ended like an hour ago, dude.”

Raising an eyebrow, he flipped through the appointment book and asked, “names?”

“Ino Yamanaka and Sakura Haruno,” the girl with the pink hair answered, pointing at the girl that matched the names she gave. “We have an appointment with my cousin Sasori.”

Looking down the schedule log there it was. The new piercer did have an appointment with an Ino and a Sakura.

“Aren’t piercings prohibited at catholic schools?” Sasuke asked, eyeing the uniforms.

“Yeah, but you can’t get caught if you get them where the nuns can’t see them.” The pink haired girl winked at him, green eyes sparkling mischievously.

“What kind of piercings are you getting then?” He asked, taking out the waiver forms.

“Belly button for Ino.” The blonde girl raised her hand and took her form and filled out the form.

He turned to Sakura and waited for her answer. Her lips turned upwards at the corners in a coy smile.

“Hips.”

Even now, if Sasuke closed his eyes and concentrated on the memory of Sakura swiveling her hips as he thrust up into her, he could see the jewelry twinkling at him as she dipped her hips.

A lot of years had gone by since that first encounter and Sasuke was no longer the shop slave he was during his apprenticeship and Sakura was no longer that rebellious catholic school girl.

It didn’t stop him from wondering if her dermals were still in place or if after all those years her skin rejected the piercings and they had to be removed.

“What’s up with you, kid?” He felt someone ruffle his hair and he swatted at the air. The only one that had the courage to do so was Konan, one of their piercers.

“Nothing,” he replied, sanitizing the tattoo bed before his next client showed up.

“His ex girlfriend found out he lives with her,” Kiba cackled from his work station. Sasuke took his discarded gloves and threw them across the room until they hit him with a smack. “Ow!”

“Why would that be a surprise?” Konan asked. Sasuke made himself busy taking needles to the autoclave to avoid responding.

“She works baker’s hours,” Sasuke heard Kiba responding for him. “They have opposing schedules so Sui’s girlfriend took care of everything.”

“Good luck with that.”  Konan went to the reception counter to check the appointment book. She had already moved on from the conversation.

I’m going to need more than luck, Sasuke grumbled inwardly.


Sakura drummed her fingers against her mug, nails clinking against the ceramic. She knew Sasuke wouldn’t get home until late so she called the co-owner of her bakery and asked her to oversee the baking of the everyday  goods the following morning.

While Sakura mostly ran the show in the kitchen—Hinata being too soft and gentle to command the staff—she was mostly the cake artist and worked on custom orders. It was a lot more relaxed than the job she had as a pastry chef for the high end hotel in the city, but it still demanded a lot of her time.

She could spend hours of her day just to work on a cake that would still take her three days to make all of the components for it.

It wasn’t until one in the morning that the front door creaked open, keys jingling as they were pulled out of the lock.

“You stayed up.” Sasuke toed his boots off and lined them up next to hers. The leather work boots were of a popular brand so they hadn’t alarmed Sakura despite them being part of Sasuke’s signature look.

Sakura stood up from his seat at the couch and wrapped her oversized cardigan tighter around her body. She hugged herself, feeling exposed in her pajamas. “I said we had to talk.”

“There’s not much to talk about.” Sasuke tossed his keys on the kitchen island. Sakura grabbed them and placed them on a wall hook next to her own set of keys. “I need a place to live, you need a roommate. That’s it.”

“That’s it?” Sakura asked, voice soft and slow, urging him to re-examine their situation. When he continued to stare at her impassively, Sakura scoffed.

“I didn’t know you were Karin’s roommate until I was moving in.”

“I know.” Sakura ran a hand through her hair, pushing her bangs back. Sasuke wasn’t a liar. At least the Sasuke she knew wasn’t a liar. “I know.”

“So is this the end of the discussion?” Sasuke’s eyes drifted from her to the hallway behind her. It was late and all he wanted was to get to bed. “I don’t really see any problem with us living together. You didn’t even notice that I was here for three days.”

The problem is that I never got over you. “Alright, if there’s no problem then let’s go over the rules.”

“Rules?” Sasuke gave her a blank look.

“Yes, rules. Karin and I had them and now so will we.”

“Okay.” Sasuke crossed his arms in front of his chest and leaned against the island. “What are your rules?”

“Rule number one: no fucking on the couch.”

Sasuke’s eyes went wide and he choked on an inhale. “That’s a rule you guys had or is that one you made for me?”

“That was an actual rule we had.” Sakura shivered in disgust. “Suigetsu has a very pale ass.”

“Yeah, everyone’s seen more of Sui than they’ve ever wanted to.”

“Rule number two: toilet seat needs to be put back down after use.”

“Okay, that’s definitely one you made up for me.” Sasuke stood you straighter and looked her up and down. “Do I get to make rules too?”

“I will consider them.”

“Alright.” Sasuke was silent for a moment as he pondered. “No obnoxious noises such as vacuuming when you know the other is sleeping.”

“That’s reasonable.” Sakura sat down on one of the bar stools at the island and took out her notepad. She took out a pen and wrote down a few lines. “I do my laundry twice a week━Wednesdays and Sundays, usually around noon. Having a schedule kind of helps out ‘cause the laundry room is in the bathroom.”

They went back and forth writing down rules and going over each other’s work schedule. Sakura tapped the pen on the table and took a deep breath. She didn’t want to step on any toes or be misunderstood but she needed to bring up an uncomfortable topic.

“No overnight guests.” Sasuke raised an eyebrow and in a rush to recover Sakura blurted out, “for either of us! At least not without a heads up. I don’t want to be walking around in my underwear and there’s a stranger in my home.”

“Why would you be walking around in your━?”

“I sleep like that sometimes!” Sakura snapped, cheeks heating up. “I wake up to use the bathroom or get water and I’m too drowsy to consider pants.”

“Why do you sleep in your underwear if you get cold easily?” Sasuke’s face scrunched up in confusion.

“I come home too tired to change so I just sleep in my underwear.” Sakura stomped her foot. Sasuke raised an eyebrow. “Don’t judge me!”

“Just remember that I live here now and will see your ass if you decide that pants are too much,” Sasuke yawned, “effort. I’m going to bed now.”

Sakura watched him head to his room with a frown on her face. It wasn’t until she heard the lock on his door click that she let out an exhausted sigh.

Does he have to look cute when he’s sleepy?


“Is this too much for a three year old’s birthday?” Sakura sat back and looked thoughtfully at her sketch with her chin resting on her fist.

Hinata shrugged as she continued to pipe buttercream flowers. “I mean it’s more for Ino, isn’t it?”

“God,” Sakura rolled her eyes, “it really is. I’m sure Inojin would be happy with a dinosaur on a cake instead of a dinosaur made out of cake.”

Hinata giggled softly as she continued to make a bouquet out of cupcakes. She was working on cupcakes for a bridal shower. Sakura had helped her with the structure to make it appear that it was suspended in the air and now all she had to do was decorate it.

When Sakura had met Hinata, the young woman wasn’t the best baker. It was an issue of confidence and being unsure if it was the best decision she had made. Upon discovering that Hinata had a few years to become a successful baker or get married to a man her father chose, Sakura took her under her wing and when they were ready they used Hinata’s trust fund to secure a location.

At that point Sakura already had a reputation for her cake sculptures so they lucked out.

Just because Sakura couldn’t be with the person she loved, it didn’t mean she was going to watch someone give up on their dream and marry someone they were forced to.

“So how has Tinder been working out for you?” Sakura drawled as she took out the ingredients she was going to need.

“I prefer Bumble, actually,” Hinata mumbled, face flushing pink. “You know it’s weird describing myself as pleasantly plump. Usually I would just say fat or chubby.”

“But you are pleasantly plump,” Sakura teased her. “And good call on Bumble. Message any guys?”

“I might have,” Hinata muttered under her breath, face turning a dark shade of red.

“Oh, you dirty slut.”

“We only met for coffee!” Hinata insisted over Sakura’s laughter. Sakura waved her hand at her and tried to reign in her laughter. It was quiet in the kitchen until Hinata said, “I wouldn’t have minded though. He has such pretty blue eyes.”

Sakura only stopped laughing when Hinata threw buttercream at her face.

The assistants walked in from the front of the shop to find Sakura covered in pink and purple frosting, armed with a piping bag full of green frosting, and Hinata shielding her cupcake sculpture.


Sakura was exhausted by the time she got home. It was one of those rare days where she didn’t get home until late. There was so much math and engineering into creating cake sculptures and trial and error.

She slumped against her apartment door and groaned. She had just unlocked the door but had no energy to push it open.

“You’re almost there, don’t pass out now.” Turning slightly, Sakura mumbled incoherently at the sight of Sasuke holding a take out bag. “Jesus Christ, you’re dead on your feet.”

“Carry me,” Sakura grumbled.

Sighing to himself, Sasuke handed her the bag of takeout and crouched down, scooping her legs up and cradling her. “How the fuck did Karin deal with you? She’s twiggy.”

“Suigetsu was usually around or she’d drag me across the floor.” Sakura opened the bag of food and examined the contents as Sasuke set her down on the couch. “Anything I’d like in here?”

“I thought you would be sleeping, but I have some stuff you could tolerate.” He grabbed two plates and brought them to the coffee table and began to serve her some of his food. “Do you ever take a break?”

“I have a day off tomorrow technically.”

“But you’re going to go to work.” Sasuke shook his head, unruly hair swaying around his face. “Typical.”

And with that Sakura lost all desire to eat despite not having had anything to eat all day except for some bread and tastings.

“Hey, where are you? It’s getting weird just sitting here. I can order right now if you’re nearby.”

“Oh, shoot! Sasuke I’m sorry but I’m still at work.”

“Wasn’t today your day off?”

So what if she was a “workaholic?” If she were a man no one would see anything wrong with how much she worked.

She knew that eventually she was going to be faced with reminders of what a shitty girlfriend she had been, but she had hoped that she would be alone as she looked back on all of the mistakes she had made.

Sasuke had forgiven her for the first missed date but once he had been stood up a second, third, fourth, fifth time he stopped making any plans for them.

“I gotta take this coat off,” Sakura mumbled, fumbling with the buttons. Sasuke reached over and helped her get free of her coat and then hung it up on the hooks by the door. If he was going to be this nice for the duration of the time they lived together, the shittier she was going to feel.

“Karin said you owned a bakery. When did that happen?” He handed her a plate full of food, much more food than Sakura would have served herself, but one look from Sasuke had her clamming up and taking the set of chopsticks he placed flat across her palm.

“A few years ago…” Sakura swallowed a bite of dumpling. “It was kind of an accident.”

Sasuke raised an eyebrow and paused in his chewing. Sakura laughed through her nose and explained to him how she had met Hinata.

She had been working at the same high end hotel she had done her apprenticeship when Hinata had been hired on the spot. The tiny, plump woman was quiet and stuttered when speaking to her coworkers because no one wanted her there.

Hinata had been hired because of her last name—the hotel being owned by the Hyūga family—with no references nor any culinary school training which was required to work at the Michelin star hotel restaurant. Due to the fact they were around the same age and because she was the newest hire, Sakura was tasked with watching over the woman. No one else would take up the responsibility thinking that Hinata would hold them back.

Sakura just couldn’t leave Hinata alone. She reminded her so much of herself when she was younger. She helped to train her during her off time and guided her through the French techniques that Sakura had been trained in.

The desire to learn and the drive was there, hidden under the fear of failure.

Sakura moved on to work at a custom cake shop where she could use more of her artistic abilities. Eventually the owner was ready to retire and was willing to sell the store to her.

She wanted to own her shop one day. It was part of her goals but brick and mortar shops were expensive. If it weren’t for Hinata’s trust fund she would never have been able to afford the shop. The two of them had kept in touch and when Sakura found out that Hinata was on her way to quitting being a pastry chef, they made plans to go into business together.

Sasuke listened to her story, never interjecting but nodding at certain intervals and slight facial shifts showing that Sakura still had his attention.

“So what have you been up to?” Sakura asked, digging through the leftover noodles in one of the cartons.

“I still work at the same shop. I moved out a few years ago. Funnily enough it was my mom that was on my case not my dad.”

“Really?” Sakura was genuinely shocked.

When she had last seen Fugaku he wasn’t the biggest supporter of Sasuke’s chosen profession. He had paid for him to go to art school, not to waste his talent working at a tattoo parlor. His mother, Mikoto, was the one that had always been his personal cheerleader.

“I think it was all of the new ink,” Sasuke gestured to his sleeve covered arms, “that really did it for my mom. She always made faces at them and commented about what kind of girl I thought I would be attracting with them.”

I always liked your tattoos. Sakura shrugged and stuffed noodles into her mouth to keep from commenting out loud.

When Sakura was just freshly eighteen and finishing her final year of high school, Sasuke was the exact kind of guy her grandmother had wanted her to stay away from. She had left money behind in her will for Sakura to attend the same school she and Sakura’s mother, Mebuki, had attended.

Our Lady of Sorrows was a Catholic private school that Sakura’s parents wouldn’t have been able to afford without the money her grandmother had left behind. She had probably hoped that Sakura would go to private school, be abstinent, go to college and then medical school and then eventually marry a doctor.

It was too bad that Sakura preferred to be in the kitchen with her father a lot more than she cared for her school. If they had let her stay in public school there may have been a better chance of her focusing on her studies and eventually going to medical school like her grandma had wanted her to. Sakura had been miserable at Our Lady of Sorrows, her only solace being Ino and baking.

And Sasuke.

Sasuke had been the kind of cliché salvation a teenage girl fantasized about. And she still couldn’t believe that at one point in their lives, she had been his.


Ino cut off the boy that usually sat at the desk in front of Sakura and slid into the seat, a manic look in her eyes. “Guess what?”

“I’m not playing this game,” Sakura laughed, completely ignoring the boy that was frowning at Ino.

“Well, fine. Be boring.” Ino huffed, blowing her bangs up and letting them flop back on her face. “But anyway so I was talking to your cousin Sasori━”

“Ino, he’s way too old for you and he’s gay. And you have a boyfriend.”

“That’s not why I was talking to your cousin, Billboard Brow.” Ino flicked Sakura’s forehead. “But anywho. So I went to visit your cousin at that parlor he’s working at now ‘cause I wanna get those piercings you wanted for your birthday━no arguments. They’re on me. We’re going after school.”

“That’s awfully generous of you.” Sakura pursed her lips and narrowed her eyes at her. “Is Sasori giving you a discount?”

Ino scoffed. “I wish! That miser,” she grumbled. Ino shook her hair out and then smiled slyly at her. “But that’s not even the best part.”

Sakura rolled her eyes. Ino was really milking the big surprise. She was too impatient for this and the homeroom teacher would show up soon.

“Remember that mega hottie from the public school at the student showcase down at The Factory Art Center?”

Sakura groaned, dropping her head onto her planner. How could she forget? She was just lucky that he hadn’t seen her run straight into a wall because she had been so distracted. The only good thing that came about that was that Ino met her boyfriend Sai that day. And that the boy hadn’t noticed her accident.

It had been a student showcase for the senior students in the schools in the city and Sakura and Ino attended for extra credit. Sakura had been mindlessly looking at all of the pieces until a tall boy wearing all black with messy hair had caught her eye. She had barely heard Ino call out “Dibs!” before she ran into one of the pillars because she wasn’t paying attention to where she was walking.

Ino had given up chase and did her best friend duties by checking up on Sakura. Luckily for her, a different dark haired boy had seen the whole thing and had come over to help out and Ino got her older boyfriend anyway.

“That was almost a whole year ago. Why must you remind me that I embarrassed myself in front of like, seven different senior classes.”

“Mega hottie works at the parlor your cousin does. He’s an apprentice-slash-shop slave.”

That, Sakura hadn’t expected. She had seen his work and expected him to go off to art school and then maybe come back to The Factory Art Center to be a resident artist or for him to even switch tracks and work at Glass & Iron━he did have some lampwork and some welding work as part of his showcase.

“So what?” Sakura swallowed. The grin on Ino’s face was foreboding.

“So,” Ino reached over and played with the ends of Sakura’s long pink hair, “someone is going to take her cute butt down there and finally meet him.”


“Sakura.”

Sakura blinked at the hand that waved in front of her face. Sasuke looked down at her with concern. She looked just about ready to pass out in her noodles.

“Are you okay? You should probably get to bed.” He would just have to clean up everything on his own. And if she tried to go to work on her day off, he’d call the tiny red terror━Karin or Sakura’s cousin, Sasori━to force her to rest for once.

Sakura rubbed her eye with the back of her little fist and murmured, “I should. Thank you for the food.”

She was so small and tired, Sasuke just wanted to scoop her up and bundle her up in her blankets. But then he remembered that she would be going to her own room and he would be going to his and there were four years between now and when he was hers.

Did she still curl herself inward like a cat when she slept? Bury herself under three blankets that weighed almost as much she did?

He could help her to her room and find out. She was dead on her feet and would probably need him to keep from stumbling and running into a wall. It would be so easy to just curl his arm around her waist, pull her closer to his sturdier frame.

It would be easy, oh so easy. And that’s why Sasuke left her to her own devices.

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