Ino

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This chapter has been beta-read by: Sakura's Unicorn

It's really a fortuitous accident how they all come together.

Ino's stomach is behaving itself for the first time in a week, so she drags Sakura out of the clinic for lunch. Along the way, they run into Hinata, who is running an errand at Tenten's shop. They rope her and the Konoha weapons mistress into joining them. Upon reaching their favourite café, they find Temari and Karui already sipping tea.

It's a small matter of bringing several tables together and suddenly they're having an impromptu lunch party. While they order their appetisers, Sakura quells everyone's curiosity.

"It's a boy," she reveals. "We did a scan two weeks ago but couldn't see anything, so I got Shizune to do another for me yesterday."

There is a chorus of "Congratulations!" all around.

"I bet Sasuke's pleased," Ino remarks.

"Oh, you know him. He barely says anything," Sakura says, shaking her head fondly. "I can tell, though. If he were the type, he'd be skipping."

Everyone laughs at that image.

"How's Sarada taking it?" Hinata asks.

The smile on Sakura's face fades a little.

"I honestly don't know. Which is weird because I've always been able to figure out what's on her mind. She's usually so much like I was at that age – heart on her sleeve and all. But ever since the news about the baby, it's like living with an adolescent Sasuke. She says she's fine, but I don't think she's smiled for real in months."

"Hopefully, she's smart enough to talk her feelings out instead turning rogue and becoming an international criminal," Karui remarks, a trace of lingering bitterness to her voice. Despite the years that have passed, she has not forgiven Sasuke for his kidnap of her sensei. By now, they all take these occasional comments with a grain of salt. Even Sakura remains quiet, although her jaw tenses a bit.

"So, you're porking on the pounds," Ino declares, deciding it's time for a change of topic. Sakura may be forgiving by nature, but hormones have a funny way of popping up at the most inopportune moments—not a good thing when you have monstrous strength and a hair-trigger temper to begin with.

Ino is intensely curious what her first pregnancy was like and how Sasuke survived it.

Her best friend makes a face. "I didn't look this pregnant last time," she complains. "With Sarada, you could look at me from the front and never guess."

At twenty weeks, Sakura's condition is obvious to everyone. She has swapped her usual fitted clothes for leggings and looser sweatshirts. Ino suspects the latter belong to Sasuke because Sakura's been too busy at the clinic to go shopping for maternity clothes lately and Ino's been too stomach sick to invite her.

"Look on the bright side, Forehead – this is probably the only time in your life your breasts will be bigger than Hinata's."

"Ino!" Hinata flushes to the roots of her hair, glancing around to see if anyone else in the café is paying attention to their impromptu get-together.

Sakura sticks out her tongue. "How's your appetite doing, Pig? Still losing your lunch whenever you smell yakitori?"

While Sakura has entered the much lauded second trimester, Ino is only half-way through the first and still has to fight the random fits of nausea.

"At least I'm not so sick that I was practically put on bedrest the first three months."

"I was not on bedrest! I just...took a lot of naps!"

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