Ino

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19

"I still can't believe he has pink hair," Ino says, gazing at the swaddled baby in her best friend's arms.

"You and everyone else," Sakura agrees. She looks exhausted – her own rosy mane is limp and tied out of baby's reach, and her skin seems much paler than normal. Tired or not, however, her smile is genuine and happy. "Except for my Dad. He says he predicted it from the start."

"Grandpa says Dad owes him money," Sarada chirps from her spot right beside her mother. "And Dad must have been super confident about the baby having black hair, because he never gambles."

Ino laughs at that, but a moment later falls silent when baby Itaku yawns and shifts. The three women watch with bated breath as tiny fingers escape his blanket and settle in his mouth.

"He's a beautiful boy," Ino tells Sakura. "Even with the pink hair. And hey, it looks like he won't get your forehead."

"There's nothing wrong with having Mom's forehead," Sarada points out, her own identical forehead wrinkled in a frown.

"Anyway, how are things with you?" Sakura interjects, reaching for a cup of herbal tea from the table between them. Neither mother can drink anything caffeinated at the moment.

"Ugh, two more months of this," Ino complains. "And lately all I want to eat is soy nut butter."

"With what?"

"Nothing. Just soy nut butter. Straight from the jar."

"Sounds appetising." Sarada wrinkles her nose.

"But otherwise everything's good?" Sakura asks. "Sai and Inojin are doing well?"

"Mm hm. They're doing the nursery today – because unlike some people, we didn't want to repaint it more than once." Sakura sniffs. "They're drawing pictures on the walls. Sai says he wants to surprise me. I said, if none of them come to life, I'll be surprised."

"The fact that that's something you need to worry about..." Sakura shakes her head, shifting in her own chair. An expression of discomfort passes over her face.

"Here, Mom, I'll take him," Sarada offers when she notices this, expertly taking the baby and settling him into the crook of her arm.

"Thanks, honey," Sakura smiles wearily and massages the ache out of her arms.

"And here I was under the impression you could lift mountains," Ino jokes.

"Not right now," Sakura chuckles. "Maybe after another month of sleep..."

"It doesn't look like sleep is doing you much good so far."

"Thank. Keep in mind, I am still recovering from the birth."

"But Shizune and Lady Tsunade said there weren't any complications."

"Oh, there's weren't. But it still took a lot out of me."

"Oh, come on," Ino scoffs. "You're Haruno Sakura – the woman who punched out a god. I know childbirth's not a picnic, but it can't be harder than some of the stuff I've seen you do. Or heard you can do."

"Yeah, well, take into account how much control I needed so I didn't accidentally crush him while he was being born," Sakura suggests.

Ino blinks. She never considered the ramifications of Sakura's strength in non-combat situations.

"Oh."

"Exactly. It felt like I was fighting myself for a few hours," Sakura sighs.

Ino shudders as she realises exactly how wrong the birth could have gone. "Geez, what did you do the first time?"

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