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Cradle

By Alison Jane P. de Silva

Humor / Romance

Return

He came home one uneventful evening.

Sakura was in the kitchen finishing up their dinner and Sarada was preparing the table. While Sakura had just finished her shift in the hospital and Sarada's genin mission and training with Team Konohamaru was done for the day, it didn't surprise them when the doorbell rang early that evening. It didn't happen everyday, but it was a common occurrence that a messenger would come and Sakura would have to answer to a request for her presence elsewhere. It came with her position in the hospital and her reputation as one of the best medic nin in the village. They were both used to this.

This time, the woman was busy cooking, so she called out to her daughter. "Sarada, would you get the door, please?"

The girl had just finished her task - two sets of plates and utensils on the table. She said "Hai, Mama." and obeyed dutifully.

Sakura listened intently, expecting Sarada to call out to her and say that she was needed in the hospital or something along those lines.

Instead, she heard her daughter's delighted shout of "Papa!" and Sakura froze.

She let go of the ladle she was stirring the miso soup with and went to follow her daughter to the front door. She was met by the sight of Sarada turning towards her with a big grin, the girl's arms clinging loosely to a familiar figure's waist. Sasuke raised his head and looked back at her with a small smile on his face, his hand resting on their daughter's head as he said, "Tadaima."

Sakura smiled back, walking towards her husband and her daughter. She reached out to rest a hand on Sasuke's cheek, then she finally said, "Okaeri."

Sarada smiled up at her parents, then stepped back to let her father inside. Before Sasuke can pick up the traveling bag that rested by his feet, Sarada had picked it up as Sakura ushered him in.

"So what brings you home?" Sakura asked, closing the door behind them. Sarada had gone ahead and carried the bag towards the living room, holding it like a hostage.

"I have news for the Hokage, a report on my mission." Sasuke said, intentionally vague. "But I wanted to drop by here first."

"Perfect timing! I'm making dinner. You go report to Naruto after." she said, voice firm, leaving no room for arguments.

"I'll set another plate!" Sarada announced happily as she dumped Sasuke's bag on the couch before bounding towards the kitchen ahead of her parents.

Sakura hurried back towards her cooking then, adding ingredients now that they had another person joining them. Sasuke took off his cloak and laid it out on the couch with his bag, then also took his sword and put it down with the rest of his things.

As Sakura sped up her cooking, she glanced at her husband and asked, "This news of yours - is it good or bad?"

Sasuke regarded her shortly, then looked at Sarada who was also watching him intently. "Good." he said. "It's good news."

His wife and his daughter both beamed at him then, and he didn't fight the small smile he returned.

Over dinner, Sarada talked about her day in training, Sakura shared some stories about her day in the hospital and Sasuke obliged them with short answers to questions about his trip home. The question of 'How long are you staying this time?' didn't come up. All of them knew that the answer depends on how his meeting with the Hokage will turn out, and also because they didn't want to think about him leaving just yet.

After dinner, Sakura and Sarada saw him off with encouraging, hopeful smiles in their faces. They told him to say 'hi' to Naruto for them as Sakura handed her husband a house key, and Sasuke answered with his usual, "Aa." as he accepted.

He told them not to wait up for him.


The lights were out when he came back. The house was silent as Sasuke shed his cloak and made his way towards the bedroom.

He stopped momentarily when he saw Sakura and Sarada curled up together on one side of the bed, keeping enough space free for him.

Smiling to himself, he changed into more comfortable clothes before joining them under the comfort of the covers, lying on his side so he can watch his wife and daughter sleep. He raised his hand and brushed strands of raven hair from Sarada's face. The girl shifted a bit as his fingers lingered on her pale cheeks, but remained fast asleep. When he lifted his eyes from his daughter's face, it was only to meet his wife's sleepy gaze.

"Hey." Sakura whispered, and she smiled hazily when Sasuke leaned over to press a kiss on her forehead. "How did it go?"

"It's done." he answered just as quietly. "We'll be alright now."

"That's the best news I've heard in years." the rose-haired kunoichi said as she reached out to stroke his hair and then pull their daughter closer. "We'll tell Sarada tomorrow. Together."

"Aa. Together." Sasuke nodded, resting his arm over his wife and daughter, closing his eyes and allowing peaceful sleep to claim him.


In the morning, Sarada woke up alone on her parents' bed, to the sounds of bustling in the kitchen. She rushed downstairs, finding her father setting the table and her mother serving breakfast.

When they told Sarada the good news, that Sasuke won't have to leave anytime soon (at least until he was given a new mission, and Naruto himself said he'll make sure his best friend gets the break he deserves), the girl smiled the brightest smile Sakura had ever seen in her daughter.

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