She's staring into the mirror, right back at herself. She can just see the edge of the curse-seal on the curve where her shoulder and neck meet, and she touches it, gingerly, with her fingertips. If she presses, it hurts, a dull throb that feels better than it should. It's almost a ritual, to touch the seal, trace it with her fingertips, then trace all of her scars, oldest to newest. So she stares at herself and follows the map of her life, pale lines and redder ones, until she finds the last one. It's still raw and puckered, and it itches. She scratches a fingernail across it, looking down at her stomach, and that's how he finds her, naked and dripping, scratching her newest scar.
"You weren't there when I woke up," he says, and he doesn't say that he'd been so scared he couldn't move.
"I couldn't sleep," she says, and she doesn't say that she'd been so scared she'd nearly screamed.
He runs his fingers along her sides, tickling her skin, and she looks at him through the mirror. His face is nuzzled against her hair, and she can barely see a smile on his face. "You smell good," he murmurs, breathing in deeply, and if she was anyone else, she would blush. Instead, she grabs his hands, holding them still on her hips.
"You're up early, why?"
He pouts at her, then twists his hands so he's holding her small hands in his large ones. "I have a mission. It's short, I should be back by tomorrow night." He kisses her neck. "Will you be alright? Kurenai said she could come and check on you, if you want."
"I'll be fine," she says a bit too harshly, and he stares back at her through the mirror.
"Of course." He doesn't say she's lying.
"I will be." She doesn't want to say she wants to die. "I'm sorry you have to work so much," she says in a softer tone, apologizing without apologizing, and she leans her head back against his chest. "You still have classes, and missions on the weekends..."
"It's fine," he says gently, forgiving without forgiving. "I didn't want to leave you yet, but Tsunade said you should be fine." He kisses her shoulder, her neck, her curse-seal, and she shivers. "Get dressed while I shower," he mumbles against her skin, "and you can walk to the gate with me."
Her eyelids fall and she bites her lip as his lips move against her seal with every word. "Stop," she groans, trying to grab and twist his fingers. He steps away with a laugh, laughing harder when she tries to glare at him and fails. "Shower," she commands, and he peals off his faded, now-wet pajamas with a mocking bow.
He looks good when he's in full gear, she decides, just like she does every time he leaves for a mission. She always forgets that he's more than a teacher, that he's nearly as strong as she is. She forgets, and each time she remembers, it's with mixed-emotions. The stronger he is, the more likely he'll survive his missions, and the stronger he is, the more likely he'll die on his missions.
"You look nice," she says, leaning up to kiss him on the cheek, and he steadies her with one hand, his pack hanging from the other hand.
"You always look nice," he replies, and she decides that's just like him. He's always like this, nice and courteous. Perfect, really, and she loves and hates it. "I'll have to beat the boys back," he concludes with a smile, and she laughs.
"You're too nice," she whispers, and she means it. He's too nice.
"I'll be back," he says. He doesn't say that he probably will be dead, that the mission's too hard for him, but they need the money. He doesn't say that he's scared.
"I'll be waiting," she says. She doesn't say that it's her fault that she's hurt, that she can't go on missions, that she lost the baby. She doesn't say that she's scared.
They don't say that they love each other.
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