Did Sasuke Uchiha deserve this kind of happiness? No, he probably did not.
As far as he's concerned, and if accountability would have been imposed after his premise, no, in his opinion, he probably wouldn't even consider being in the position of deserving this kind of happiness. Even though he did contribute a large part to this situation and has therefore also opposed his own premises, he swore to himself that his decisions would no longer be determined by his own feelings, although he seemed to ignore his presentiments. It was not clear whether this situation was caused by an unconscious decision on his side or by a resistance that he actively led. Even now – the day of birth of his first child getting dangerously closer - he did not know whether it had been the right decision to avoid listening to his own mind and ignore everything he thought was right.
Yet, what use has it ever been to listen to this mind at all? His mind forced him at young age to make decisions that he has to carry with him at all times and that still chased him up to this day. Like the loss of his arm for example. On some days Sasuke did not wish to be disabled. Many years without his left arm taught him to live without one, yet this thought did not like to leave him. Especially now this thought seemed like an everyday echo, that rung in his ears at all time and would constantly take over his mind. During the day it was easier to not drift off into thoughts that distracted him from his assigned duties. He trained his body and his mind to keep at least the rest of his body fit, whilst not wasting thoughts on his long-lost body part. During he night, however, these thoughts plagued him distinctively. Whilst not being able to fall asleep – in virtue of dreams caused by failed revenge, anger and fierce wrath - the task of ignoring everything seemed significantly harder. Fear, fatigue and exhaustion did not allow him to fall back into his very own endless nightmares. Staying awake felt good, his subconsciousness wasn't able to attack him while he was in control of his mind. Even now – a whole decade has passed – he had to fight against his very own being. An endless battle he didn't want to lose again.
Sasuke was never someone who liked to indulge in dreams. "What if..." is an unfamiliar and strange concept for him, that he did not deserve. The past is in the past and cannot be changed – he does know this far too well. Yet – perhaps due to the recent changes in his life – the loss seemed so much more painful to him than before.
He didn't care for the longest time – his arm, was only his arm. He had a second one, he wasn't in need of the other to protect the people he needed to protect – even if he knew that those don’t need any protection by him anymore. The only people in this world who still meant something to him surpassed him in terms of strength a long time ago, even though he would never say this out loud. Maybe it was the last chunk of arrogance in his body, that still doesn't want to accept this fact. (He realized again, that his very own character seemed to work against him at all cost.)
Sasuke was painfully aware of the fact that at this state, neither Naruto nor Sakura needed him for protection. Both engaged in the training of a mighty San-Nin, both owner of inhuman physical strength. Not only that: even mentally, they were far ahead of him. Strength did not only mean to contest in fights and to win those. He painfully learned that in his own personal development. Strength was also to acknowledge his own weaknesses, and to work with them. It means to show those feelings and to pronounce them rightfully. His friends were all very able to fight and to also win. They were powerful, no questions asked, no that's not it. His friends didn't need any protection – both had the ability to protect themselves. At this very moment his unborn child was the one who was in desperate need of protection. The protection of a loving father.
Ever since he received the news from Sakura, he lay awake at night much more often, haunted by old and new nightmares, old and new fears. Not only that, to his own surprise he realized more and more how often he finds himself – during the day, after waking up, after dinner, after training, meanwhile and before – lost in thought and completely absent. Sometimes he catches himself staring into space for several minutes, which silently has been observed with concern by his friends. Sakura was used to his mute inaccessibility and usually finds comfort in it, but even she can't wrap her mind around his odd behavior. While shaking him out of his trance, wondering why he does not listen to his name after minutes off her calling him, concern never leaves her face.
His calm and clear perceptiveness (which are perhaps just nicer descriptions for his extreme introversion and social incompetence) are features that describe him. He was no man of great words, he was known for that. Nevertheless, this condition he found himself in, was remarkably unremarkable. It was like he was not part of this world; his own worries seem to fully occupy him.
His eyes wandered from the large, blooming shrub, which he has been focused on to be able to concentrate fully, to the origin of his wifes' voice. It was unclear to him, how long she had stood before him. In fact – he was probably too engaged in his own thoughts again, to realize that she called for him. With a glance at her figure he immediately knew, what lay in store for him. Her right hand was laid on her hips for support, her frowning face twisted in-
Was it worry? Anger? It was very tedious for him to decipher her facial expression, even though Sasuke knew her for almost half of his life. Sakura was very open with her feelings and had no reason to hide anything from him, so it was even more devastating how Sasuke became bitterly aware of how difficult it was for him to interpret her feelings. Her eyes were like an open book and seemed to illuminate their interior outward, especially in comparison to others. So, it was kind of reasonable, that it did still killed him from time to time, once he assumed something again that she didn't want to imply. Another point on his list for the future that made him worried sick.
Maybe it was just the face of disappointment for him – he wouldn't blame her.
When Sakura realized that her husband was again among the living, a shadowy kinda smile formed on her lips, her eyes still sharply focused on him, with that particular look. (At this point his lack of knowledge killed him bit by bit.)
Once she enjoyed his full attention, she came up to him and put her hand on his head. He did not know how long he had been sitting in the same place, but it must have been for so long that all his dark hair has now absorbed every sun rays and is now burning hot in contrast to her cool, healing hand. Judging by how intense the sun shined on his head today, it would have been almost noon.
"Are you done meditating? I didn't want to disturb you. "
Even before he could answer her question, she throwed her head back and eventually wailed jokingly about how hot it was already (even though it was just the beginning of May) and asked herself how she would handle this kind of heat in the next few months, while being heavily pregnant. The warm sunshine had light up her face, the first drops of sweat formed on her temples.
He took her hand, which had previously been stroking his dark curls, into his own and answered by saying, that he was already done.
To encourage him to get up she stretched her other hand towards him, but Sasuke had an entirely different idea and pulled her down to the ground, so that she was sitting right in front of him. There were only a few inches left between them. Confused about his unusual behavior, her eyes widened. Her bright green eyes seemed to want to pierce him down, so she could get a reasonable explanation for all of this.
He can't say he wasn't used to that look. Sasuke was a man of habit. Some would compare his life to a dreary existence and he could often agree with them in silence. He did carry the weight of the past on his shoulders. Dark dreams, which would often wake him up and leave him with overflowing sweat and a heavy breath, are a daily reminder. Sleepless nights are also the reason for the deep red eyes he has, while accepting the next dangerous mission, he is assigned to. Not being able to forget his past, stops him from talking to anyone for days, because his own thoughts tie his chest up and leave him breathless. This also may be the reason why he found peace in this stoic routine, in everyday life and in his idle monotony. It felt good being able to sit in front of her, to look deep into her eyes and to feel a sense of well-being - to find a home in her.
He would lie by saying that Sakura was the solution to all his past problems. Some parts of his past are well-hidden, and he has no intention to talk to anyone about them. He had long realized that no person in this world would rescue him from his burden, because he had to learn early on that people in their most natural state carried no answers but only more questions. His nightmares did not disappear into thin air, he would scream and cry in the middle of the night, a fine layer of sweat covering his whole body, without remembering them.
(On those mornings Sakura would rub her equally red eyes, while she waited for her coffee to be finished. She knew he hated being approached about those things, because the shame of keeping her up all night, neither in control of his body or mind, overwhelmed him.)
For far too often he couldn't contain his blind rage, his hands smeared with blood from training. While being isolated from reality it was way easier to unconsciously escape into old thoughts. On bad days she would be the one to heal his hands because he could not apply the bandages on his own, his whole body penetrated by a nasty tremor.
Their arguments ended in blind shouting for far too many times, his own feelings absorbed and bewildered him, the only coping mechanisms he knew were wild rage and fury or an engaging cold of feelings.
She did not understand him, he was often too lost.
He could injure, even kill, within seconds without batting an eye. Immediately afterwards he would fall into a state of utter indifference, his empty eyes were a constant part of himself now.
Fights with her, however, were of a completely different nature. She was loud and stubborn and not afraid of conflict. If she was bothered by something, she acted on it. Knowing this he also learned through the years that he doesn't want to be bothered by those – or in fact any confrontations at all. But with her this was harder, than he ever imagined. If he didn’t want her to ignore him for weeks (this did happen a lot of times in their young years), he had to learn to question his own actions and his said words, taking the feelings of others into account. Even though she couldn’t understand him (as so often) she let him breathe. Only with her help, he could try to learn from his deeds. She gave him time and space to be able to change and develop. She gave him the strength back that has been taken away from him over the years, and that's also that what he wanted to show her today. He knew far too well that he was very fortunate - in every other parallel universe, in every other life before and after his time, he should consider himself fortunate, because deep down he knew that he did not deserve any of this. Neither Sakura, nor his still unborn child, nor the chance of a fulfilled life.
Her expression of astonishment gradually turned into a seemingly knowing expression, if he could count her impish smile as an indication. Maybe he was wrong again, that wouldn’t be the first time. But it soon became apparent that she was indeed a very capable shinobi, her keen mind and her impressive empathy made her very aware of those things.
While she shut her eyes tightly she said: "Maybe I should meditate too, don't you think? Perhaps it will help with the pain. " She turned her head to the side. He could basically feel, how she was trying to relax her mind to reach a state of total concentration.
Sasuke wasn’t the only one who had to deal with old demons. Although Sakura preferred to use other ways of coping with stress (nothing was more relaxing than good old deconstruction), she wasn’t averse to mediation as a path to inner reflection. Meditating was an inevitable part of her everyday life, it helped her in maintaining a clear mind in every possible situation. A lot of healing techniques required a state of inner peace, and sometimes this meant to push own sinister demons to the back of one's mind to grant someone the opportunity of life.
But it doesn’t seem like today is the day – for now meditation doesn’t seems like a suitable solution to her current problems. She quietly sat in front of him for a few minutes until he felt how she slowly moved her fingers, which still had been wrapped in his. He studied how she raised and lowered her chest in an irregular rhythm, he could literally feel how hard she tried to forget the pain, that tormented her for the last couple of days.
With pinched eyes she tried to focus her concentration one last time before she turned her head to the ground with a look of disappointment and a deep sigh.
She assured him that her condition was normal, that pain like hers occasionally occurred during pregnancies, and that she steadily controlled her own state of health, out of fear that she could overlook something herself. He trusted her, that was not the problem. The problem was that he had to look at how much she was suffering in addition to not being able to do anything to take her pain away. The feeling of powerlessness was overwhelming and reminded him of old, almost forgotten memories - moments, in which he could have helped her, and yet chose not to – his profound egomania often stopped him from following his own path. His subconscious tortured him, his own self-hatred grew with each passing day, often blaming himself for causing her pain, even if he knew there was no rational reason for thinking this way. He knew it was not a matter of rationality, it was a fight between his own subconsciousness and his true self.
To distract himself from repetitive worries and losing his own mind, he stroked the back of her hand with his thumb. She was well and strong. Her hand was warm and soft and familiar, he was used to feel the heaviness of her hand in his. The steadiness of his wife was one of the things that helped him in keeping his mind steady, and for that he was thankful for.
As she stared at his face with very clear eyes, he realized how small the gap between their faces was. She was so close that he had to avert his gaze. Some kind of burning sensation crossed his body, it captivated his whole frame and strangled him, he wasn't able to breath anymore. Every millimeter of his body felt like it was broiling hot and tense. With a quiet voice she asked if he was experiencing an episode right now. He squeezed her hand tighter and brought it nearer to his body, glad to be next to her, just so he could shake his head.
He sorrowfully remembered his lost arm and thought about how stupid decisions of the past are still chasing him on daily basis. His very own choices, made out of stupidity, violent temper, bitter disappointment and furious revenge. His now non-existing left arm, a constant reminder of never losing himself ever again. A reminder that he isn't alone in this world, that there are people who will take care of him, that there are people who will recognize his faults, and who aren't afraid to be vocal about them.
Sasuke's mind was slowly drifting away, but judging from Sakura's look in her eyes, she didn't have the heart to drop it, not today - her usual friendly eyes were now filled with fire and action. "What's your name?"
Even if it did hurt him that up to this date she sometimes didn’t believe his own judgment about his mental health, he kind of couldn't blame her. Too often did she misinterpret his mental absence and therefore wasted a lot of time trying to understand him. She now prefers to put a lot thought into smart confrontation and straightforwardness instead, even if did hurt. This seemed like a curse and a blessing at the same time – today probably the latter.
"Where are you?", she immediately jumped to the next question.
He knew this game far too well, but so did she. Though today it felt harder than normal to remember the rules. It seemed to be impossible to think clearly, with remorse he felt how the self-built wall around him was slowly destroying itself. This was the case on some days, but that did not mean that he didn’t fight it on a daily basis. Even though his mental health improved day by day, he far too often found himself in those moments. His subconsciousnes punished him with a mental relapse, in which he could do nothing else but to fall back into old patterns.
With a faltering voice he tried to assure her that he had everything under control, so he answered: "In our garden, in the backyard of our property."
She urged him to name and describe three objects in his direct environment. It was probably her natural persistence that did not let her give up so fast, so she frowningly continued her interrogation. It became more and more difficult to listen to her. Her words were gradually turning into muffled noises - as if he was drowning underwater, and she would miserably fail in freeing him from the clutches of the sea.
It felt like an eternity passed them when he gave her his answer. Maybe it was an eternity, he couldn’t tell anymore. "A shovel."
"Kunai," he added.
It seemed as if he lost all sentences, all words, sounds and noises. Speaking was straining and difficult, his tongue wasn’t able to move anymore. It strongly felt like failure, albeit remembering everyone saying that he shouldn't think like this. Old habits die hard.
The game was over, he knew that. "Are you all right?"
He did not know what to answer to this question. It occasionally felt like his mind and body weren't connected, like he was an outsider, an observer of his own life. This was one of those moments. Not one part of his body was able to give his wife any form of confirmation. But, as often happens, it seemed like he couldn’t escape his destiny. Whatever he did, he hurt her, and that’s why he deeply loathed himself. She laid her heeling hand on his cheek.
Sasuke did not know when he began to close his eyes. In retrospection he realized that his subconsciousness was probably trying to protect itself, or so he thought. The whispered words of Sakura slowly infiltrated him. Her words faintly reminding him of a long python, covering his lungs and trying to strangle him. The truth hurts – to be confronted with his own fears even more. His previous inner emptiness was now filled with a mixture of self-hatred, anger and confusion. Two extremes he could possibly never escape. Her voice echoed inside his head, reminding him that there was someone who cared enough to not let him drown in his own personal delusions. For the second time today, he recalled his lost arm and remembered that he wanted to become strong enough for her, with or without his left arm. The same strength he felt and recalled, the same strength he had to relearn with difficulty, the same strength she had shown him, when needed. Nothing was worse than coming to a standstill, he knew that far too well. He realized years ago, that it hurt him to wallow in the past and to fall into old patterns. It was as if he was granted a second chance, that he once again did not embrace, because his heart was far too hurt and branded for accepting this opportunity. He decided that he was tired of giving up. Sakura gave him time and space to breathe, which was necessarily needed. She allowed him to make mistakes, even if he strictly avoided them. Now it was his turn to show that all her efforts weren't in vain, even if it tormented him. He had to accept his past and learn from it, to be able to use his remaining time reasonable and look ahead. While opening his eyes, the world seemed a little bit brighter.
"I am worried about you and about our child." He wasn't finished. "But most importantly I am most concerned about whether I'm able to become a loving father. " He knew that he did not share all too much, yes he saw that, but these words were the only words that made sense to him right at that moment. He felt how her hand brushed his cheek, her other one embracing his right hand, drawing small circling movements on the back of his hand with her thumb. The ripe tomatoes on the vine, he previously had been targeting while meditating, now stood out with their intense red-yellow color - soon they would be able to harvest.
With a simple movement, she turned his face in her direction and so he was greeted by her smile - as if she knew how much courage it took him to open-up and reveal is fears, deeply hidden in the dark.
"Nothing I will tell you now will set your mind at ease." Friendly but brutal sincerity, that described Sakura at best. She said, "I know that. It's not the first time I've been talking to you. Sometimes I think you forget how long we've known each other, and sometimes I think you're forgetting yourself while you're at it." She kissed his forehead as if she wanted to take his thoughts away.
And she showed him once again how well she did know him, by soothing his worries before he was even able to utter them. Maybe she even knew all along.
"You're no longer the man you used to be, your past isn't the only thing that defines you." Her hand engulfed his more firmly as she wanted to give her words more meaning. He knew her hands and she knew his. He knew all the horrible things she had ever done, every crime, every murder, every wrongdoing. And she knew his.
She added, "I wish you wouldn't question every gift you receive, asking yourself if you are deserving of it or not." With a gentle gaze she eyed his strangely fitting mismatched eyes, and ended up kissing them, as if to remind him to not cling to his past and to consider seeing something from a different perspective.
She now framed his face with both hands. Getting lost in each other's eyes was calming, although it was quite challenging from time to time, often feeling like he needed to avert his gaze. He briefly met her look, dumbfounded by the sincerity one can find with just a brief glance at her eyes. She was like an open book, he envied her at times. For a long time, only silence surrounded them, she kept staring at him, like she was looking for an answer in his eyes - the only thing that accompanied them was the sturdy wind and the stinging, warm sunrays. Their silence sounded so much louder in comparison to the distant voices of the lively city nearby their house. Her smile did not escape her face. With a firm voice she invaded his mind, her words echoed up to his heart: "I do not know how it is to be a mother, much less of how to be a father. However, one thing I do know is that you won't be alone, I will be here with you, through the changes and hard times." So lastly, she kissed him gently on the mouth.
He will probably never recover, ever again and maybe lose his mind in the process of battling his inner demons. Maybe his fear will never leave him. No one will ever really know, neither Sakura nor him. But he will do everything in his power to maintain this happiness, so that it was impossible for him to ever miss this chance of a full-filled life. Even if it meant opening up to someone, letting someone into you mind, and exposing your own deeply hidden weaknesses, and thus being your most vulnerable self. It was worth it.