profounder

Sepp Blatter says he's leaving FIFA presidency

Just days after being elected to a fifth term, FIFA President Sepp Blatter announced he is stepping down from his post at world soccer’s governing body amid a major corruption scandal. “We need here a structural change of a profound nature,” Blatter told a hastily-assembled news conference in Zurich. - The New York Times

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Because cities are reluctant to raise taxes on the wealthy to pay for law enforcement, officers are often assigned citation quotas upon which their jobs depend. This would be troubling enough on its own—but more disturbing is the fact that most of the petty crimes these cops issue tickets for are just a prevalent across the societal spectrum. And yet police departments overwhelmingly choose to extort funds primarily from the poor, minorities and other vulnerable populations who can least afford it, often with profound and disastrous consequences which would not be present for others.

Our conversation about race is stuck. Let me explain the frustration, what we can do, and what I’d like you to know

Physical Traits Of The Signs (based on personal experience don't take this so seriously k thanks)

Aries: Soft hair, wide eyes, athletic build, wide forehead and brows that stand out
Taurus: Breathtaking smile, usually on the taller side and profound cheekbones
Gemini: Round face (baby face), cheeks that ball up and a smirk
Cancer: Messy hair, and most cancer guys I know have blue eyes (?)
Leo: Thick hair, confident stature and a wide smile
Virgo: Thin, willowy, graceful and strong hands
Libra: Sparkly eyes, dimples and overall attractive
Scorpio: Intense eyes, unique style and cool hair.
Sagittarius: Tattoos, long legs and large/ medium eyes
Capricorn: Strong hands/ arms, brown hair/ eyes and glasses (?)
Aquarius: Casual style and kinda looks like a mermaid (?)
Pisces: Wide smile, large nose and roundish face.

Those who know they are profound strive for clarity. Those who would like to seem profound to the crowd strive for obscurity.
—  Friedrich Nietzsche, The Gay Science

Researchers Find Missing Link Between the Brain and Immune System

Full article at NeuroscienceNews.com.

Implications profound for neurological diseases from autism to Alzheimer’s to multiple sclerosis.

The research is in Nature. (full access paywall)

Research: “Structural and functional features of central nervous system lymphatic vessels” by Antoine Louveau, Igor Smirnov, Timothy J. Keyes, Jacob D. Eccles, Sherin J. Rouhani, J. David Peske, Noel C. Derecki, David Castle, James W. Mandell, Kevin S. Lee, Tajie H. Harris and Jonathan Kipnis in Nature doi:10.1038/nature14432

Image: Maps of the lymphatic system: old (left) and updated to reflect UVA’s discovery. Image credit: University of Virginia Health System.

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The Most Well-Designed Gardens in the World

Amazing flora is an important draw for some garden visitors, but for many others, the design of the space is the main attraction. In the book Reflections: Gardens, which was published by Roads in March, readers get a taste of incredible designs from around the world, both classic and modern. Together, they present a picture of the vastly different and uniquely stunning approaches to these ubiquitous natural places.

Variety in garden design is frequently determined by the climate and culture where it is built, said Stephanie Boner, Roads publishing director, who edited the book. “Desert Botanical Garden in Arizona would be an extreme example of how the climate affects the aesthetic of the garden, but, needless to say, this has a profound effect on any garden.”

(Continue Reading)

Sepp Blatter’s Statement’s  full transcript:

“I have been reflecting deeply about my presidency and about the 40 years in which my life has been inextricably bound to Fifa and the great sport of football. I cherish Fifa more than anything and I want to do only what is best for Fifa and for football. I felt compelled to stand for re-election, as I believed that this was the best thing for the organisation. That election is over but Fifa’s challenges are not. Fifa needs a profound overhaul.

While I have a mandate from the membership of Fifa, I do not feel that I have a mandate from the entire world of football – the fans, the players, the clubs, the people who live, breathe and love football as much as we all do at Fifa. Therefore, I have decided to lay down my mandate at an extraordinary elective Congress. I will continue to exercise my functions as Fifa President until that election. The next ordinary Fifa Congress will take place on 13 May 2016 in Mexico City. This would create unnecessary delay and I will urge the Executive Committee to organize an Extraordinary Congress for the election of my successor at the earliest opportunity. This will need to be done in line with Fifa’s statutes and we must allow enough time for the best candidates to present themselves and to campaign. Since I shall not be a candidate, and am therefore now free from the constraints that elections inevitably impose, I shall be able to focus on driving far-reaching, fundamental reforms that transcend our previous efforts.

For years, we have worked hard to put in place administrative reforms, but it is plain to me that while these must continue, they are not enough. The Executive Committee includes representatives of confederations over whom we have no control, but for whose actions Fifa is held responsible. We need deep-rooted structural change. The size of the Executive Committee must be reduced and its members should be elected through the Fifa Congress. The integrity checks for all Executive Committee members must be organised centrally through Fifa and not through the confederations. We need term limits not only for the president but for all members of the Executive Committee. I have fought for these changes before and, as everyone knows, my efforts have been blocked.

This time, I will succeed. I cannot do this alone. I have asked Domenico Scala to oversee the introduction and implementation of these and other measures. Mr Scala is the Independent Chairman of our Audit and Compliance Committee elected by the Fifa Congress. He is also the Chairman of the ad hoc Electoral Committee and, as such, he will oversee the election of my successor. Mr Scala enjoys the confidence of a wide range of constituents within and outside of Fifa and has all the knowledge and experience necessary to help tackle these major reforms. It is my deep care for Fifa and its interests, which I hold very dear, that has led me to take this decision. I would like to thank those who have always supported me in a constructive and loyal manner as President of Fifa and who have done so much for the game that we all love. What matters to me more than anything is that when all of this is over, football is the winner.”

on that same note – i remember listening to the black parade on repeat and crying when i was 15 because my friends were mean to me at the mall. and it helped me so much and i felt a profound connection to the music. it seems so trivial now with all the shit that comes with adulthood but it wasn’t then! it meant something to me then and the (more traumatizing, more awful, seemingly more black parade-worthy) experiences i’ve had now don’t change that. stuff means different things to you at different stages in your life and there’s no shame in the way you used to connect with it.

OMG, FAT?!?!?

I believe, I’ve just experienced the most profound non-scale victory (NSV) possible. After 37 years on this earth, and almost all of those years believing I was FAT and always feeling FAT!
The other day, I had a baseline interview for a research project at Stanford. One of the questions was, how many days in the last (various) time period did you feel fat? It wasn’t until I pondered this question that I realized, it was gone?!?!?! I was in disbelief! I know that I have fat on my body, but I do not believe I am fat or feel fat, at all. I was astonished! I would not have been more shocked, realizing I had not been breathing for the last three days, but was surviving nonetheless. Feeing fat has felt like a fundamental part of me. A part that I assumed would always be with me. It didn’t change in the past when I had lost weight. Even after I had lost 100 pounds in high school, I still believed I was fat (140 pounds) and felt fat. I thought feeling fat was as much a part of me, as my curly hair, sense of humor, and my religious identity. Yet, it has vanished and, I’m still me. I’m actually the happiest me, I’ve ever been.
(The non-intelligent box never acknowledged this monumental loss.)

In deep gratitude and love,
Xoxo
Sara Michelle

https://www.facebook.com/Publicdisplayofselflove

http://publicdisplayofselflove.tumblr.com/

people in high school used to tell me all the time like… “nothing u tweet n shit ever makes sense” and I’m like “? cuz u retweeting fake frank ocean accounts n paraphrased drake lyrics is so profound u lil bitch” like they would straight up tell me “i unfollowed/unfriended u cuz …. “ & i’d be like wait wait wait 1) who are u 2) why are u acting like i care 3) *screen shot of one of rihanna’s diss tweets* 

The Darkness sucks

The Darkness sucks.

-

They have been sitting for what feels like forever. It’s like the old times, sitting for days and days

-

“Finally,” a voice says.

“Cas?”

-

A swoosh of wings

-

Steady ground beneath their feet

-

“You’re safe now,” Cas says.

“Cas how did you…” Sam asks. They hear Cas sigh.

“I searched through the profound bond of Dean and me. It took me a while, I am sorry.”

“Cas… It’s okay. We’re glad you found us,” Dean says. He doesn’t know what to do or say. The Darkness is everywhere, and he doesn’t like it.

“You found them?” another voice asks.

“Crowley?!”

“The one and only.” They can almost hear him grinning. “Don’t shoot, I have an explanation,” he says before Dean can even get out his gun.

They sit down at the table in the library, and Crowley explains how Rowena cursed Cas after she got free. How his eyes went all bloody and how he almost tried to kill Crowley. He had been tied to a chair for days, only able to talk properly every few hours.

How Cas had searched for Dean and Sam, and how he finally had mastered himself above of the curse. He was stable enough to actually go out and search.

“So, he’s got us. Why don’t you leave?” Dean asks as soon as Crowley is done.

“Calm down,” Sam tries. “He’s helped Cas.”

Always trying to be the good guy, Dean thinks. But okay, he will let Crowley stay with them.

-

The first day back in the bunker is weird. Sam and Dean have had dark times before, when the light wasn’t working. But this is nothing like it. This is pure darkness, everywhere.

They turn on a lamp. It works, but it only lights up an very, very small area around itself.

Sam says they should save the energy for charging their phones.

Dean tries to make dinner for Sam and him. The food burns because he doesn’t see if it’s cooked well enough. They eat it anyways.

The first night isn’t that bad, they go to their rooms, and fall asleep.

-

The bad part comes the next day, when they wake up and they’re not fully awake yet. It’s dark and it won’t get light.

“Sammy?” Dean yells

“Dean, it’s okay, I’m okay,” Sam yells back and Dean calms down a little. They don’t shower.

In the kitchen, Cas has made both of them breakfast, bread and coffee. It is not much, but it is something.

“So,” Dean starts. “The Darkness, huh?”

“It was the only way to remove the Mark, Dean,” Cas says. He sounds as desperate as when they were trying to get it off.

“Does anyone have any idea what the Darkness is exactly?”

“I don’t think anyone does,” Cas replies. “Lucifer was created before me, and he had the mark already when I was there. I only remember him passing it onto Cain.”

The day is long and none of them have very much to do. They assume there will be evil outside, but they can’t hunt it. They’ve hunted in the dark before, but even the strongest lights don’t reach far enough.

-

It’s a few days later and everyone’s getting more miserable. Crowley just mocks on Rowena all day, Cas sits in a chair, staring off in the middle of nowhere. Sam spends his days reading for as far as it goes. Dean can’t do anything. He walks around in the bunker all day, and at night, he doesn’t sleep for more than a few hours.

-

Unknowingly, they have started to improve their hearing. They know exactly who is doing what by just listening.

-

Avoiding each other is harder than it seems in the Darkness. Sometimes, they accidentally bump into each other, all lost in their own thoughts.

-

It’s 5am and Dean is awake. He suddenly listens and hears footsteps coming to his room.

“Cas?”

“Yes, Dean. It’s me. Your hearing really has improved,” Cas replies.

“It has,” Dean says, not knowing what to say.

“Dean, I know you’re not okay. I can feel it through our profound bond,” Cas then says.

Of course he could.

“I’m okay, I’m fine, I’m- who am I kidding? You’re right, I’m not okay, Cas. I can’t take it any more. Sam can read his books, you and Crowley both have your things to do but me… I don’t know,” he tells Cas.

He feels the mattress dip with Cas weight when he sits on it.

“I can’t hunt, I can’t clean my baby, because she’s in a godforsaken field, I just walk around all day and when every terrible day ends, it changes in a night where I can’t sleep.”

He knows he sounds selfish, but he can’t stop himself now.

“I just can’t take it any more. Cas, the Darkness… it’s not good. I feel it in my veins, it’s not good and I can’t do anything about it, I can only stare in it all day.”

Cas sits closer and suddenly he feels an arm around his shoulders.

“I know I’m being selfish, but I just… I can’t help anyone, not any of the people out there, not you, not Sammy, not even myself. I spent so many years saving people, and the past year, the only thing I did was letting people get killed, bitch to Sam, try to keep you two from removing the Mark, and now that it’s gone I only put everyone else in so much more misery.”

“Dean,” Cas says. And then he is silent.

“Dean, it’s not your fault.”

He doesn’t believe Cas.

“I know you don’t believe me, but someday you will. I know this darkness sucks, but we’ll fight it. You, Sam and me. Together,” he tells Dean. And for some reason, a little bit of hope starts to grow.

He allows himself to snuggle into Cas, now that Cas can’t see him almost crying.

“It’s okay to cry sometimes.”

Of course

He doesn’t cry. But he does fall asleep in Cas’ arms that night. And the next one. And the following nights.

-

The Darkness sucks.

But the good thing about it is that no one can see Cas and Dean holding hands when they walk together until it’s time they tell Sam and Crowley.

You never know how similar or how different you are from another person until you take the first step with a simple “Hello”.

Conversations can often be shallow ones or deeply profound, it all depends on the person really. Life has meaning when we share emotions and thoughts, even if they are as random as they could be.

Give yourself permission to listen, and share your story with others. Bottled up emotions never lead to change, nor freedom.

Be always grateful for those who are willing to listen, we never know how many lives are changed for the better.

For Everything ch. 1

Rated: T for violence, language and some sensuality)

*read more at: https://www.fanfiction.net/s/10872132/1/For-Everything*

( Description: All he had to offer her was a broken soul and a life of distance and trial to redeem it. Love, Sasuke thought, is not a rational thing. Post War. The Revival of the Uchiha Clan.)

“Love is that condition in the human spirit so profound that it empowers us to develop courage; to trust that courage and build bridges with it; to trust those bridges and cross over them so we can attempt to reach each other.”

-Maya Angelou

Chapter One: Distance

(22 ANT* Hokage Tower)

Kakashi Hatake, the Sixth Hokage of the Hidden Leaf Village, kept his solitary gaze fixed upon the floor of his office, quietly trying to evaluate the situation as well as keep himself level-headed. It wasn’t common for the Copy Ninja to lose his natural calm, but the events of the evening had put him on edge.

The sapphire night sky had long faded into black behind the glass windows of the Hokage Tower, and he was sure that time was progressing into the early hours of the morning.

“And there is nothing else?” Shizune asked from her where she hovered over his unoccupied desk. “You’re sure?”

“Yes, that’s all.” Sakura replied. “I’m sure.”

The strain in the kunochi’s voice made Kakashi snap out of his daze-like state and glance up from his perch on the west wall of the room. While Shizune was occupied over several stacks of paper, Sakura’s was looking directly at him, her gaze pleading.

She wanted to go home.

He couldn’t blame her, this investigation had gone on for hours now, and what had happened to her that evening was surely starting to take a toll on her. She looked completely exhausted.

The Hokage lifted himself from the wall and took the two strides to stand beside where the rosette was sitting, placing a comforting hand on her bare shoulder.

“Alright,” Shizune began, “I have a few photos that I am going to need you to look at…”

“I think that’s enough for tonight.” Kakashi spoke up, content to see the relief in Sakura’s eyes.

Shizune, determined and unaware, continued to dig through the criminal files she had arranged over the desk. “One of those monsters got away, Lord Hokage, we have to…”

“Shizune.” Kakashi addressed his assistant with more finality.

The raven-haired woman’s head darted up angrily, her brows knitted together tightly, and her mouth open and ready to retaliate. However, her anger was quick to dissolve at the sight of Sakura’s weary state and she immediately chastised herself.

“I’m sorry, I wasn’t paying… we can finish this tomorrow, of course.”

“Please,” Sakura replied gratefully. “Thank you, Shizune.”

She felt Kakashi give her shoulder a gentle squeeze, like he had used to do in her genin days. “Let’s get you home.”

Sakura accepted her old sensei’s outstretched hand and let him help her to her feet. As she stood, her head began to spin, undoubtedly from the medications Shizune had given her, but she kept her feet firmly planted to the ground. She was determined to get home, and by the Kages, she was going to walk there herself.

“I don’t want you staying there alone, I’ll leave some ANBU guards to patrol your…”

Before Kakashi could finish, the doors of the Hokage Office were violently thrust open, slamming against the opposite walls with loud, startling blows. The room fell into a stunned silence as the five ANBU present took aggressive stances, habitually, prepared for an attack.

“Where is she?”

Sasuke Uchiha entered the room as fierce and lethal as ever, his mismatched eyes rigid with hostility. Under his heated glare, the ANBU filtered out of the ex-criminal’s way without so much as a word.

Behind them stood his wife.

“Sasuke!” Sakura breathed his name in surprise and relief.

The Uchiha’s gaze found hers immediately and softened in relief, the Sharingan and Rinnegan fading back to a familiar onyx color. He was before her in an instant, his rough and bandaged hands taking hold of her face tenderly, oblivious to the prying eyes of the seven around them.

“Are you alright?” he asked softly.

She nodded slowly in the caress of his hands, giving him a small reassuring smile. “I’m alright.”

He then brought his right hand down between them to the slight swell of her stomach, questioning her silently, eyes shaking with worry.

“She’s fine.” Sakura told him in a hurried whisper, immediately surprised that she had called their three-month, unborn child a “she” without so much as a second thought… it was still far too early to tell. “I mean, the baby is fine, Shizune checked us both over personally.”

Sasuke nodded, exhaling a shaky breath as he let his forehead rest against hers.. Sakura brought a hand to rest over his, feeling the slight tremor of his fingers as they cradled the small life growing within her.

He had been terrified.

Sasuke lingered with her like that for a few moments, relishing in the warmth of her touch, the beat of her heart and steadiness of her pulse.

She was still with him. She was safe. She was alive.

The thought that he almost lost her, lost their child, made the storm inside him escalate dangerously as he remembered the reason they all were standing in the Hokage Tower. Straightening, he turned to face Kakashi, all tenderness and concern gone as his hostility resurfaced ten-fold. His dark glare asked the Hokage two very simple questions:

Who? and Where?

Kakashi knew he would have to tread carefully with explaining everything to Sasuke. The Uchiha heir was a stick a dynamite waiting to go off. He calmly dismissed Shizune and his ANBU guards, so he could be alone with young Uchiha couple.

“It was rogue ninja.” he began to tell Sasuke. “From the Leaf with a vendetta against the Uchiha clan, undoubtedly.”

“How many?” Sasuke asked lowly.

“Four, we managed to capture three of them.” Kakashi replied.

“One escaped?” Sasuke stated in disbelief.

“Hence why the others are still alive.” the Hokage told him with a sort of edge to his voice. Had the circumstances been different, he’d have killed anyone who dared threaten Sakura without a second thought, however answers were needed. He understood Sasuke’s rage, he just simply couldn’t comply to it. “They’ll be interrogated, by tomorrow we should know more.”

“Where are they being kept?” there was no mistaking Sasuke’s dark intentions.

“Sasuke…” Kakashi began to try to reason.

“Where are they?” Sasuke seethed, in no mood to be lectured, wanting the situation to be dealt with immediately. He wanted to see the men who broke into his home and attacked his wife when she was vulnerable, who dared to attack his family. He wanted to find them and make them suffer in the way they feared most.

“There is nothing more to be done tonight, Sasuke.” Kakashi told him evenly, a slight warning in his voice.

“Like hell there isn’t!” Sasuke countered angrily, not heeding his former sensei’s warning, nor content with his decision.

“Sasuke.” Sakura spoke softly, breaking the growing tension between her husband and the Sixth Hokage. Sasuke felt her come to stand beside him, perfectly placed to stand between them if necessary. Her small hand sliding up his shoulder made him reluctantly look down to meet her jade green eyes, that were silently pleading for him to stop.

He was upsetting her.

That was enough to sway his bitter resolve, at least for a moment if nothing else.

“I want to go home.” she told him softly, reaching for his hand.

Sasuke exhaled heavily, letting her capture his hand in her own, before nodding in submission. His first priority was her, her and the baby. The rogues could wait. He turned back to Kakashi though, unapologetically.

“Tomorrow.” he promised bitterly.

Kakashi nodded in agreement, always awed by how Sakura seemed to managed to tame Sasuke’s inner beast. “This will be dealt with, I promise both of you, I don’t take this lightly.”

“Thank you, Sensei.” replied Sakura gratefully.

“SAKURA!” a familiar, raspy voice cried from down the halls, followed by the rapid clatter of feet stampeding toward them.

Before Sakura knew what was happening, she was wrapped in the orange clade arms of her friend and former teamate, Naruto Uzumaki.

“We came as soon as we heard Kakashi-sensei’s transmission, are you okay!?” he asked rapidly, giving her an affectionate squeeze.

“I’m alright, Naruto.” she mumbled from where her face was trapped in the folds of his jacket.

“Careful, dobe.” Sasuke bit out lowly. “The baby.”

He had a point, but Naruto was hugging her safely around the shoulders. His own wife, Hinata Hyuuga, was seven-months pregnant and he had enough scoldings from both Sakura and Tsunade to know how to be careful.

“Oh, sorry!” Naruto pulled away, holding her at arms length, his eyes watering with nervous tears. “Your baby is okay, right? Everything is okay?”

“Yes, the baby is fine, I’m fine, I promise.” she reassured the blonde, giving his forearms a grateful pat.

“Oh, good.” Naruto let out a breath of relief, letting his arms fall to his sides. “I was so worried, teme left before I even heard the news…”

“I’m taking her home.” Sasuke interrupted, taking Sakura’s hand back in his own.

“Right!” Naruto nodded. “I’ll take care of the mission reports, so no worries there, and I’ll have Kiba come with me to take your place on the squad.”

“Hn.” Sasuke replied. He hadn’t given his uncompleted mission a second thought.

“Thank you, Naruto.” Sakura supplied for Sasuke’s lack of gratitude. She had gotten used to offering more appropriate responses for her husband.

“Come on, let’s go.” Sasuke said, leading her toward the door.

She cast a grateful glance toward Kakashi over her shoulder, once again he had leapt in and saved her life. “Thank you again, Sensei.”

Kakashi nodded. “Get some rest, Sakura.”

As soon as they were alone in the halls, Sasuke’s arm found its way around her waist, pulling her snug against him, allowing his dark cloak to fall over her bare shoulders. They remained silent as they ventured into the cold streets, and Sakura was instantly grateful for him sharing his cloak and the warmth of his body to shield her from the cold, night air.

She glanced up to see her husband staring straight ahead into the darkness, his inner conflict clear. He was furious and frightened, and though a passerby could never tell, Sakura could see he was losing grip on his outward calm.

“I’m alright, Sasuke.” she tried to reassure him, to drag him away from the tragic memories his dark past, where his troubled mind had undoubtedly strayed.

He didn’t reply

“Sasuke.” she tried again, giving his forearm a gentle shake.

He glared into the night, unwilling to meet her gaze. “I shouldn’t have left.”

(17 ANT, Hidden Leaf Village)

He opened his eyes to a white ceiling, tinted blue by the night that seeped through the square windows near his hospital bed. Someone must have opened the drapes, for they had not been open when he had awakened briefly before. Outside the moon was full, its white glow casting an almost surreal atmosphere in the ordinary hospital room. Beyond the moon he could see the stars from where he lay, billions of them transparent in the crystal clear sky.

He continued to gaze into the heavens, alone with his thoughts and his sins, and the heavy weight of shame and guilt hovering over his chest… as opposed to the unfamiliar lightness of the left side of his body where his left arm had been severed off. He unconsciously lifted his right hand across himself to feel the vacant space and the stubbed edge of his elbow, still not quite used to it’s foreign feel.

Unlike the heroic Naruto, the loss of his arm was a more than just punishment for what he had done. It wasn’t enough to atone for all his sins, but it was at least a start.

Speaking of the dobe, he could hear his soft snores from where he lay asleep in his own cot at the other end of the room, just as he had been the first few times Sasuke drifted in and out of consciousness. He envied the knucklehead’s ability to sleep so soundly. Being back in the Leaf had only heightened his awareness of how out of place he truly was, how much he had wronged his home land and the all people in it.

He was a traitor.

He was restless, whether he slept or not, slowly unraveling the more he was left alone with his inner demons. He wanted to try to stand, or at the very least sit up… he hated hospitals, he hated being in them… there was always the smell of death and the showcase of human vulnerability.

The sudden clanking of heels in the halls interrupted his thoughts, making Sasuke turn his head toward the open door, where a few medics were darting past, pushing a stretcher that carried a suffering and wailing ninja who had several shurikans embedded inside of him. There had been post-war hospital ruckus reoccurring since he and Naruto were brought in, however, his interest was kept this time around by a certain kunochi breezing past the door, coming to the other medics’ aid.

Sasuke felt his throat restrict at the array of ivory, jade and rose-quartz standing only a few yards away from him. He hadn’t seen Sakura since the end of the battle, and any time he had briefly awakened, she hadn’t been present. Though the fresh daffodils placed on his and Naruto’s bedside tables indicated that she had been visiting regularly.

Her hair was pulled back and she was wearing a white medical kimono… even from a distance, Sasuke could see the shadows under her eyes and the slight stagger in her step, yet she still took hold of the stretcher and control of the situation with vigor and authority.

“We don’t have time, I’ll start working on him now, let’s get him upstairs and stabilized.” he heard her order, and soon the group of medics disappeared out of his sight, further down the hall.

Every couple of hours he saw Sakura run in one direction or the other, like a wild woman on a mission to save every soul wounded from the battlefield.

Was his heart not so heavy, he might have smiled. He was proud of her, proud of how far she had come… her potential fully realized. He had seen it when they were kids… when her white skinny legs dangled from the top of a tree during their chakra control exercise, when her nose was buried in a scroll when they were on the road for a mission, when she jumped in front of him to save him from Gaara…he saw what she could become.

Her strength, intelligence and compassion had only grown. She had blossomed into one of the most powerful ninjas he had ever seen, with no clan legacy, no powerful bloodline, no demons sealed away inside her… only through her hard work and raw talent.The admiration he had for her advances however, only made him even more shameful… She had reached so high, while he had fallen so low. Everything she had done was to try to save him, while all he had ever done was bring her pain.

Her tears the night he left, the pain in her eyes when they had tried to retrieve him from Orochimaru, their attempts to kill each other after his battle with Danzo, the way she looked at him in fear and despair afterward…

He didn’t deserve her forgiveness, though she had given it to him anyway.

Feeling a dull ache in his head, he closed his eyes, willing himself to rest… to find refuge from the pain and his troubling thoughts.

Hours later into the night, he sensed Sakura entering the room, as silent and graceful as a ghost. He glanced over to see her standing over Naruto, checking his monitors and vitals, a clipboard tucked snugly in her elbow. Her shift must have been over, for she was wearing a red coat and had a handbag hanging over her shoulder, looking ready to leave.

He watched through lidded eyes as she smiled at her blonde team mate’s snoring and peaceful form, running her fingers through his golden tresses affectionately.

“Baka…” he heard her murmur softly.

That sight was enough to make him turn his head back toward the ceiling and let his eyes drift close, the tug of a long forgotten emotion pulling away at him. He knew in his heart that Sakura’s feelings for Naruto were not what she felt for him, yet seeing them with each other… knowing how far they had come together, how close they were… made him feel like he was standing miles away, distant and forgotten. It was a feeling greatly warranted, but he could not help but feel regretful.

Finished with Naruto, he heard her approach his side. He laid still as she hovered over him. She was probably checking his monitors as well. As she worked silently, he could feel her hesitance, the tension in her shoulders, the unsteadiness of her breath. His hair did not receive a careless ruffling from her, nor did she give him an easy smile, but she did linger. He could feel her eyes travel over him, quietly and contemplatively, searching for answers.

A minute passed and he felt the gentle touch of her cool fingers ghost over his right hand, the feather-like touch sparking a fire beneath his skin. Far too quickly, however, she pulled away, making to leave with a quiet sigh.

Something snapped in him, something awakened his senses and made him panic. The thought of spending another moment in darkness without her, the thought of her walking away, the thought of remaining distant when she was an arm’s length away made him act. Tightly and suddenly, he snatched her hand in his, making her start and let out a short gasp.

His eyes snapped open to see her jade eyes as wide as saucers, staring at him stunned and confused.

“Sakura…” He pulled himself up to sit, unsure how to convey the foreign feelings within him. All he knew is that he didn’t want her to go.

Recovering from her shock, her brows began to furrow in concern. “Sasuke, what’s wrong? Are you okay?”

“I…I’m fine.” he lied.

Despite his pathetic reassurance, she began to scan him over for open wounds or torn stitches. “What is it then? You need to rest.”

All he could do was gaze at her, trying to find some solace in her eyes as everything inside him began to overflow…

The guilt, the shame, the pain, the loneliness. The things he’d done… he’d spent so long in the dark, so far from home, manipulated by wicked men. There was no comfort, no peace… only anger and pain. He was a traitor, a criminal, a fallen man… he’d failed everyone.

His family…

His brother…

Kakashi…

Naruto…

Her…

“Sasuke.” she murmured quietly, sitting down at the edge of his bed, the pain in his eyes making her heart ache for him. “What is it?”

“I…” he tried again, ashamed that his voice was shaking, ashamed that his words were caught in his throat. “I’m sorry… I…”

“I know.” she told him consolingly, gripping his hand tightly. “It’s okay.”

As she brought his hand to rest over her steadily beating heart, he felt the tears begin to fall. Her compassion, her love before him, opposing his sins, opposing the darkness like a brilliant beacon of light…it was too much.

“I know.” she repeated as her free hand found its way to the curve of his neck, her touch cooling his hot skin.

He collapsed into her then, his head falling into her shoulder as she encased him in her arms protectively, lovingly.

And he wept, openly and vulnerable. He wept for the family and the life he had lost. He wept for the family and life he had left behind. He wept for the brother he had killed. He wept for the years he had spent in waste. He wept because now he could fully see the evil he had done, and there was nothing he could do to change it.

“Its alright, I promise.” she whispered. “I’m here.”

He stayed like that in her arms, listening to her beating heart and soft breathing until the pink hues of dawn began to envelope the night sky.

She was here. She was still here. She had not left him like he had left her.

Thank you. He wanted to say, and to keep saying for the rest of his life, because it would never be enough.

Thank You.

(22 ANT, Uchiha Compound)

They had come after dark, several hours after Ino and Sai had gone home. Sakura had been reading on the sofa, quietly listening to the rain outside as it splattered in a comfortingly mantra against the round windows. Sasuke had been gone on his mission with Naruto and his squad for the previous three days and his absence this time had been different than it had ever been before.

This was the first time he had left her since she had found out she was pregnant.

I’m not going.” he said stubbornly, walking past her, his decision final.

“They could really use you.” she replied softly, following after him, reaching for his arm. She didn’t want him to go, but Naruto had asked him personally, and there was no reason he shouldn’t, she was only three months along.

“Yeah, they can also live without me too.” he replied with a shrug as they entered their bedroom.

“I’d be fine, you know, I could even have Ino or Ten-Ten stay over with me.”

He rolled his eyes as he removed his shirt and pulled back the sheets. “Why so adamant to get rid of me?”

Sakura shook her head at such an idea. She dreaded every moment they were separated, but she still wasn’t going to keep him if he wanted to go. She was not helpless.

“I’m not,” she began, making her way to her side of the bed. “But, you must be restless, you haven’t been on a mission for nearly a month… I don’t want… I don’t want to ground you.”

“Tch.” He muttered, reaching across the bed and pulling her against him, letting his lips linger over hers. “You’re so annoying.”

“Sasuke.” she countered seriously, pulling back, ignoring the butterflies in her stomach that would take flight whenever he would do that.

“I’m here because I want to be, Sakura.” he replied just as seriously.

“I don’t want you to think you can’t go on missions.”

“And, I don’t want to leave you unprotected.” he replied.

She almost wished that Tsunade hadn’t explained the risks of being a pregnant kunochi to both of them. It had put the Uchiha heir even more on edge, then when she told him of her condition. It was true, being pregnant made her vulnerable. She was unable to use too much chakra or perform any jutsus, as it would put too much stress on the baby. Over exerting herself, or chakra depletion could very well be fatal for herself and the child.

But, the young kunochi had also shed her weak and helpless skin a long time ago and didn’t want him to think she couldn’t take care of herself.

“But, I’d be fine.” she repeated.

He sighed letting his forehead rest against hers, shaking his head at her stubbornness. “Look, I’ll think about it, alright… let’s just get some sleep.”

Perhaps she had tested fate too much, trying to make sure she wasn’t a burden to him, because the moment she sensed an ambush of rogue ninja surrounding her home, she had never felt so helpless.

Unable to use her full strength to defend herself, the only best option she had was to hide. Luckily, she did have her radio to the Hokage Tower, though she could only hope backup would come in time. Stealthily, she had jumped into the storage bunker of the kitchen and locked herself in, cursing herself for her own stupidity.

“Sakura?” Kakashi had asked on the other side of the radio to her endless relief.

“Sensei, I need help…”

He had been on his way before she could even finish. However, he had almost come too late. A moment later, she had been discovered. A masked ninja had ripped open the bunker, grabbed her by her hair and yanked her out. Chakra or no chakra, she was not going to be rendered helpless, she sent a right hook into the masked ninja’s face, thoroughly shattering his nose.

Before there could be any retaliation, Kakashi’s kunai had hit the attacker in the center of his stomach a moment later.

The click of their door opening brought her back to the present as Sasuke led her into their home, their hands still intertwined. Sakura breathed the familiar smell of her drying herbs from the kitchen and the old books that covered the entire north wall of the living room.

It felt good to be home.

However, she was apprehensive as Sasuke flicked on the light switch, knowing their usual orderly home was not as he had seen it last. The window in the living room was smashed open, glass everywhere, one of the bookshelves knocked over and the table and chairs of kitchen sprawled on the ground in disarray.

Sasuke swallowed thickly at the sight, his hand tightening around hers. He led her to the couch in the center of the living room, encouraging her to sit. She complied as he wrapped the thick green blanket she had been snuggling in before the attack around her shoulders. She was still in her bed wear with only a red sleeveless top and sweat pants, and the night air was blowing through the broken window, giving her goosebumps.

“Thank you.” she mumbled softly. She took in a shaky breath trying to get a hold of herself, this wasn’t the first time her life had been threatened… however it had been the first time her baby had been. Something told her it would not be the last.

“Relax.” Sasuke told her softly, kneeling down before her, keeping hold of her shoulders. “It’s alright now.”

She nodded, scolding herself ruefully. Just moments ago she was trying to convince him of the exact same thing.

“Do you want to talk about it?” he asked. “If it’s too soon, you don’t have to.”

“It all happened fast, Kakashi came before they could do any harm.” she told him with a shrug.

“Did you recognize any of them?” he asked.

“No, they were all wearing masks.” she replied with a shake of her head.

Sasuke nodded in understanding.

“I’m sorry.” she mumbled a moment later.

His brows furrowed. “For what?”

“…I made you go. I encouraged you to. I told you I could take care of myself and the minute you’re gone I let this happen… and…”

“Don’t start.” he said adruptly, standing up to ignore her ridiculous apology. He moved to shut the drapes over the broken window to block out the cold air. Leave it to Sakura to blame herself for being attacked when she was vulnerable and pregnant. He rolled his eyes. God forbid she’d ever make a mistake without beating herself up about for the next few years. He hated when she would punish herself for no reason.

“But…”

“It’s not your fault,” he turned to face her, frustrated he even he had to reassure her of that. “Not surprisingly, this happened because of me, it’s because of my family name that they attacked you, it’s because of me you can’t be safe in your own home. So don’t you dare turn this around on yourself by apologizing to me!”

Her gaze fell to the floor then, and he knew instantly he had spoken too harshly. With a frustrated sigh he ran a hand through his disheveled hair, and took the seat beside her.

He gently turned her chin up to look at him. He sighed heavily as he gazed into her sea-foam colored eyes he loved so much. “You know I suck at this.”

Sakura nodded again, giving him a small, rueful smile as she leaned her head against his shoulder. “I know.”

He presses a gently kiss to the top of her head.

I’m sorry.

I’m angry.

I want to kill those men for what they tried to do.

I was afraid that I lost you.

I was afraid we lost our child.

I was afraid I would lose my family a second time.

… He wished he could say, but didn’t know how to. Voicing his feelings was still a struggle to him in so many ways. He communicated best in silence, in lingering stares and gentle caresses. He was better at showing how he felt.

So, they sat together in a peaceful silence, simply taking comfort in each other’s warmth. As time ticked by, he felt his wife begin to relax against him, and a while later, even start to drift off to sleep against his shoulder.

“It’s not your fault either.” she whispered against his neck, when he thought she had been sleeping for a while. “Nor your family’s.”

He shushed her softly, just wanting to hold her and forget about everything.

Till the morning at least.