Sakura is a grown woman. She's fought in a war, she's killed international criminals, she's healed an entire army. She's the second person currently living to master the Yin Seal, and she's only one of two to have a summoning contract with the slugs of Shikkotsu Forest. She's the director of Konoha General Hospital. She's a world famous shinobi and medic. She can literally burn tumors out of people's bodies with her bare hands.
And her husband can't put on his shirt.
Sasuke is standing there, in the early morning light, not struggling with the sleeves but absolutely struggling. Sakura can tell from the way he moves that he's having trouble with phantom pains in his left arm. She can see his nubbin twitch to help the fingers of his right hand and he curses under his breath at himself for not being able to do it.
She watches, because Sasuke doesn't like to be helped. He's stubbornly independent in a way all the people Sakura loves are. So she watches with her sleepy eyes. She turns her head to the clock by their bed; it's around six, and the sun is shining. She's surprised he's still even home. He delivered a lengthy report to Naruto the previous day and Sakura had come home to the familiar feeling of his chakra within the wards of their shared apartment.
He had been his stony self, but there were places for smiles. He was endlessly amused by the dying tomato plant she kept trying to grow on the windowsill, a Mrs. Ikki to Kakashi-sensei's Mr. Ukki. Kira had been happy to see him, had purred up a storm, and leapt onto his shoulder demanding immediate scratches. Sasuke adamantly insisted that he hated the cat even though he was the one who brought him home from one of his many exploits outside the village.
He firmly attested that Kira had latched onto his side and refused to leave. Sakura was inclined to believe him; that cat was too damn clever. It had to be a ninken, like the Inuzuka dogs, or at least it was bred like they were.
Abruptly, Sasuke sits down at the edge of the bed. Sakura raises an eyebrow at him. His face is scrunched up in displeasure, but the back of his neck is bright red. He's embarrassed. She doesn't move to help him, but instead moves her foot from underneath the sheets to rest it on his thigh. His right hand immediately rests on the curve of her ankle, and some of the tension eases out of him.
"What do you want for breakfast?"
Her voice rises up through the silence. Sasuke stays quiet as he calms down. She can see the way he's using his therapist's method of counting backwards from one hundred whenever he gets upset. Sakura makes a note to remind herself to thank Tsunade for the mandatory psychological treatment every shinobi was subjected to after the war. It's already helped her husband in an invaluable way.
Sasuke rubs his thumb over her ankle three times clockwise and three times counterclockwise; another grounding technique.
"I want omelettes," Sakura says. "With ham."
She hears the sound of the bell on Kira's collar an instant before the cat leaps up onto the bed. He presses his blind face into Sasuke's side, rubbing his cheek against his stomach.
"I think Kira wants ham, too," Sakura says.
Kira purrs, and the sound rumbles deep in his belly. Since Sasuke "accidentally" brought the cat home, she had done some research on the furry beasts. Their purrs apparently stimulated healing. Not for the first time since Sasuke returned with the cat, Sakura is sure the blind thing sought out Sasuke and thought, 'This one is in desperate need of healing' before latching onto his side.
She and the cat have a lot in common.
"He'll shit for a week."
It's the first thing he's said since she's woken up, and Sakura takes it as an immediate victory. She smiles and eases herself up until she's sitting beside him. She's on his right side, but she doesn't make a move to help him with the shirt. It's stuck around his neck; he'd given up on getting it down over his shoulders.
She had done an incredible job for a field healing with he and Naruto, but her reserves had been low and she hadn't been able to reverse all the nerve damage. Naruto never complained of his chronic pain outside of their rehabilitation sessions, but Sasuke had always been the type to suffer in silence.
Sakura knows that Sasuke's arm aches worst before it rains, or when there are lightning storms happening. She knows his emotional triggers are his mother, and the little sister that died in the womb during the Massacre. She knows he's still having trouble processing Itachi's wasted years, and that the pain is easier for him to ignore when he's in the middle of a fight. When he's still, it's debilitating. He's always in the most pain when he's at home. It makes an unfortunate amount of sense.
So she understands why he keeps moving, why he visits for short days, and counts herself lucky when he's back for a week like he is now. She doesn't begrudge him his coping mechanism, especially because she knows he's learning new ones in therapy. One day, he'll be well enough to stay for years. One day, when they have children, Sasuke will be able to stay in Konoha and help her raise them.
But healing is slow and bumpy and awkward. There are setbacks as much as there are leaps forward. Sakura has a temper, but she is a healer and she knows patience. Not every wound can be healed with chakra. Some need time.
"Then I'll give him chicken," she replies airily, lightly poking him in the side. "I know that's what you want anyway."
Sasuke grunts at the poke, and Sakura takes the opportunity to gently pull his hair back out of his eyes. His sole black eye looks tired, and there are wrinkles around his temples that are less from stress and more from chronic pain. She tucks his hair behind his ear, and wonders if he'll ever wear an eyepatch over his Rinnengan. He'd look like Kakashi-sensei, which would be hilarious all around.
"You need a haircut," she says.
"So does the cat."
"I'll take you both to the vet and let the Inuzuka sort you out."
Sasuke narrows his one black eye at her in a crinkle that Sakura knows is reluctant mirth. He thinks she's funny, but he hates to admit it.
"But first," Sakura says, "breakfast."
She gets to her feet and stretches out her back. There are a couple of satisfying pops and cracks and she hums in pleasure at the loss of tension. Then she turns, and with widely telegraphed movements, Sakura tugs the shirt over Sasuke's neck and leaves it on the bed. Kira meows in protest when the cloth brushes too close to his back.
"Now we match," she says, scooping the cat into her arms. "I think I want bacon."
Kira likes her less, but he does like her, and he tidily paws his way up until he's perched on her shoulders. She's reminded of those awful missions with Tora the cat, and wonders if being a ninken was what made him so damn difficult to catch.
Sasuke, who had been astonishingly red faced the first time Sakura had ever worn anything less than a shirt in front of him, grunts and gets to his feet. He places his hand on her hip in a rare show of affection, safe because they are in private. He rubs his thumb over the puckered skin of a scar there, won in her battle with Sasori so many years ago.
"Don't yell at me if grease pops on your nipples," he says.
Sakura rolls her eyes and with one hand, scratches the neck of the cat on her shoulder.
"I like to live dangerously," she replies.
Sasuke snorts at that, but he follows her as she heads into the kitchen. And when she challenges him to an egg cracking competition, he wins.
The morning is slow and easy. And after a little bit of time, she helps him put his shirt on.