Sai

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This chapter was beta-read by: Sakura's Unicorn

"I want to have another baby."

Sai blinks once, then twice, and glances up from his sketchbook to consider his wife. Even after almost thirteen years of marriage, he still has difficulty figuring out when Ino is joking or not. Judging by the lack of smile on her face or the mischievous crinkle around her eyes that he associates with her showing humour, she is being serious.

One mystery solved, Sai considers her words several times, trying to pick up on any linguistic emphasis or context. She wasn't in the middle of a conversation with him or one of her long-winded, chattering reports about her day, so it's hard to decipher. Given the topic – babies – it's fairly straightforward to extrapolate what has her preoccupied.

Sakura and Sasuke's pregnancy announcement.

Why this would lead her to want to procreate for a second time, though...

Again, Sai reviews what he knows of his wife and her relationship with Sakura and makes another logical conclusion.

"Do you mean to intensify the ongoing competition between you and Ugly?" he asks with genuine curiosity.

"Of course not!" Ino snaps, twin spots of rouge appearing on her cheeks which suggest she's not being entirely honest. She tends to wear the same expression whenever Inojin asks if he looks too feminine, all while vehemently insisting the opposite.

It's the only time Ino ever lies.

One of the main reasons that they suit each other so well is because they are both blunt and to the point. Sai has his reasons (his upbringing and difficulty with social cues) and she has hers (her lack of patience for sugarcoating the truth).

"Tact is just not saying true stuff," she sniffed when he once asked her about it. "The only time you should lie outright is if it'll save your life."

Given previous examples of those lies (such as when commenting on Chōji Akimichi's weight), Sai was confused as to why she broke that rule for their son.

"Because it's something that bothers him, and I don't want him obsessing over it while he can't do anything about it," Ino had replied. "If he's anything like my father, he'ill end up at least three inches taller than you and bulkier. Feminine looks will so not be an issue for him. But try telling him that now and he'll still hate what he looks like, pine for how he might look in the future, and possibly be disappointed in the end. Then he'll have even more self-confidence issues. Trust me. It's easier to tell a little white lie and distract him with more important stuff, like training, until he's through his teens."

After reflection on her words, he supposed it was true. Inojin is not a boisterous child. His disposition is far closer to Sai's than Ino's which is a bit of a relief because, sometimes, Ino is frightening. But at the same time, without undergoing the training to harden himself, Inojin is a lot more delicate in his sensibilities than Sai.

The boy is almost a reflection of who Sai might've been if he'd had a real family to grow up with.

"I suppose I must trust you on this," Sai decided then. "Appearance was never a concern for me growing up, but that doesn't mean Inojin will react the same."

Ino beamed in gratitude, and that was the end of that matter.

His instincts for stretching of the truth remain shaky, but he likes to imagine that he has evolved some intuition when it comes to his wife.

And he noticed that she was uncharacteristically silent when they left Naruto's home after their dinner. More than that, the distracted silence continued over the past three days. Sai didn't bother her, as she seemed like she was deep in thought. Besides, if anything ever bothers Ino, she never makes him sit there, guessing; she tells him right away.

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