Author: asteriskjam PM
Moved Out. Kicked Out. Been Out. Three teens with no place to go? Oh god. Moving in has never been so awkward. [SasuSaku] [NejiSaku]Rated: Fiction T - English - Romance/Humor - Sakura H. & Sasuke U. - Chapters: 3 - Words: 9,302 - Reviews: 98 - Favs: 88 - Follows: 128 - Updated: 09-08-07 - Published: 07-31-07 - id: 3694877
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Notes: I know. It's like SELF-IMPOSED DEADLINE? You chap my ass! Argh. Sorry, readers. Been busy with, er, life I guess.
Anyway, here's the next chapter! These things just get longer and longer as we go, ne? (All your reviews seriously keep me going.)
And she couldn't stop staring at him.
"...What?" (Sakura would soon learn that Neji loathed being gawked at.)
"...You..." Was all she could manage to interpret in the jumble of thoughts that was her current stream of consciousness.
He raised a brow before muttering, "--Want to be shown to my room."
"Yes." He nodded, as he about faced and headed for the stairs. Before taking that first step, he turned to her once more, countenance as indifference as always, "You might want to attend to the Uchiha."
"Ah!" She yelped again. "N-Neji!...-san! Wait, Sasuke-kun gets the room with the bed!"
His clear eyes narrowed at her, "'Room with the bed'? There's only one room with a bed?"
She scoffed at him as she raced for the stairs, "Yes, well, I just moved in today as well, thanks."
"Why should he get the bed? Need I remind you, that without me you wouldn't even be living in this house?"
"Yes, and we're all very grateful, Neji-san." She mumbled, as she paused momentarily on the staircase. "But Sasuke-kun's sick. (Am I the only one who notices this?) And sick people always get priority in this house." She climbed the rest of the way up and before she stepped off the top of the stairs, she called a polite, "Please make yourself comfortable." over her shoulder.
She heard Neji's grumble followed by the soft squeak of sofa cushion springs.
Slowly making her way over to the living room space, she sat down upon the other unoccupied couch and an awkward silence settled upon them.
She was just about to start up some conversation when--
She was famished. She was beat. She was still damp with rainwater. And she could tell Neji was trying to hold in a condescending laugh.
And he allowed a muffled cough. As she got up and made her way to the kitchen, he finally spoke, "So, what's with the Uchiha?"
Surprised, she answered, "His temperature's decreasing. He just needs a little water and some sleep--"
"No," He interrupted. (Apparently he had been absent when his etiquette teacher had explained the fundamentals of polite conversation.) "I meant, where the hell did you find him? He was soaking and was obviously ill."
As she set her kettle of water upon the stove and turned up the flame, she sighed, "...After I left the grocery store, I found him...hunched over on a bench, letting rain drench him from head to toe. It was strange. I almost did a double-take when I realized it was him burning up against my shoulder." Then she went on a little clumsily, not really sure it was her place to discuss such things, "...After his return and everything, I thought he'd just want to keep to his apartment most of the time."
To her relief, he didn't respond with sarcasm or with any sort of biting remark. In fact, he didn't respond at all.
She made a quick change of subject when the kettle whistled. She would cut to the chase. "Neji-san...Why did you agree to this...arrangement?"
In response he heaved a sigh of exasperation, not bothering to turn in order to look at her, "It was...convenient for me, Haruno. I was going to stay with a comrade of mine for the time being. That is, until I could find myself proper residence. Which, believe me, wouldn't take much time or effort seeing as how the Hyuuga Clan has connections in real estate." As she poured the hot liquid into her Instant Noodles Styrofoam cup, Sakura rolled her eyes at his utter lack of modesty.
Finally, his torso circled to face her, a daunting smirk upon his expression, "But you looked really pitiful standing there in the rain...so I decided to be generous and thus, offered you the assistance you needed."
The pink haired girl huffed, face going red with irritation. Her, pitiful? And him, generous?
His eyes swooped around the area for a second, then finally stopped on her as his lips turned downward in a frown, "I obviously didn't know what I was getting into."
"Wait just a minute there, buddy." She hissed, hand going instinctively to her hip, "I'm grateful. Really, I am, because without your oh-so-generous name signing we wouldn't be under a roof right now." She gave him a look, "But you're being seriously rude--"
"Well, maybe that's because you're being seriously inhospitable."
Emerald eyes narrowed, "And I'm not about to tolerate your apparent dislike for me in my house!"
He gave her a smug smile, "...Don't you mean our house?"
Sakura let loose a not-very-feminine growl, but the more mature part of her took reign, knowing he was right. She should be grateful so she didn't reply. (Verbally at least, because her usually dormant Inner-self was currently stabbing an image of the Hyuuga.)
Stirring the noodles in her cup, she walked over to the couch with as much grace and haughty indignation as she could muster and soon, began to eat.
Rather…consume like she hadn't eaten in the 17 years she'd been alive.
"…Don't you think you should breathe between bites? People usually do so when they don't want to choke." He mumbled amusedly, "It's called manners."
"Yes, well." Sakura bit, slurping up the final noodle, "Maybe you should think about not making sarcastic remarks every few seconds." She stood when she was finished, and she gave him a sugar sweet smile before ascending the steps, "It's called shutting up."
Neji frowned, not as enthused.
The pink haired girl came back down, a set of pillows and blankets in her hands.
"This'll have to suffice for the night, Prince Hyuuga-sama." She deadpanned, "We'll buy beds and other homey goods tomorrow morning."
She handed him his pillow and blanket and set her bundle on the couch he wasn't occupying. "Wait here, I'm going to take a shower."
Neji, in reply, looked at her oddly.
"What?" She questioned, pausing.
He glared lightly, "…My dinner?"
Sakura blinked at him, pointing at the plastic bag she'd left on the kitchen counter. "I just bought some Instant Ramen…"
The Hyuuga sighed, undoubtedly in complaint at having to eat such a cheap meal, "…I guess, that will have to suffice."
He conceded. But he wasn't moving.
He only continued to stare at her. "Well?"
And then, it hit her, "No way! I'm not your maid! Make it yourself!" Prissy little Hyuuga Neji-kun had been born into the rich-ass Hyuuga family. Of course, he must of have had culinary servants prepare his meals.
His clear eyes grew sharper under furrowed brows, "You're the girl! Why don't you take care of it?"
Yes, she'd forgotten how old-fashioned Hyuuga tradition was too.
"Hey, we're not in the Dark Ages anymore, Neji-san. Just because I'm the girl doesn't mean I'm responsible for every little household chore!"
He was looking at her like she'd just spouted ridiculous nonsense. "But I've never made Instant Ramen before." (Even when mentioning his shortcomings he had to sound superior.)
And she looked at him similarly in turn…before bursting in a fit of giggles, "…Seriously?" Even her four-year-old cousin had successfully made Instant Noodles before. "Well then you're about to learn!" She quickly grabbed up the pajamas and toiletries she'd retrieved from her bag, openly laughing in Neji's (red!) face as she made her way to the upstairs bathroom. "There are instructions on the lid!"
He threw her a cool gaze, as if her earlier teasing hadn't affected him in the slightest.
She managed a smile, "Well, bathroom's yours. I suggest you take a shower before you catch pneumonia."
He was hesitant at first, but eventually he agreed, grumbling as he climbed the stairs.
In small steps, she quietly made her way to Sasuke's bedside, green eyes boring into his ill form and her ears tuning in to the slightly irregular pattern of his breathing.
It was total instinctive action on her part when she brushed a damp bang from his forehead.
However, it was also instinctive action when she dropped a kiss on his brow.
(Highly unnecessary instinctive action.)
Sakura mildly slapped her mouth, berating herself for the latter move.
She was over him. Seriously. Entirely.
And it had been so since she vowed to will her feelings away on her 14th year. It'd been a slow process. Lots of memories and nostalgia and on occasion, tears. There had also been extensive training with Tsunade-shishou, because besides attaining the strength to retrieve him back, besides being able to prove something to herself, the sparring and knowledge-gathering offered a useful distraction. (In a way, Sakura felt training had also beaten the emotions out of her.)
Sakura sighed, tucking a stray hair behind her ear.
A month ago, Team 7 had found him immediately after he managed to kill his brother. After she healed him (helped him recover from near death, really), she, Naruto, Kakashi, and Sai had managed to drag him back home.
She'd stayed at his bedside the majority of his two-week (really, 9 days because Sasuke was incredibly impatient about these kind of things) stay. Few words had been exchanged; only routine check-up inquiries, polite greetings, and, on occasion, quiet small talk had been exchanged between them.
Nothing about why he left. (She already knew.) What he had done. (She didn't want to know.) How he felt to be back in Konoha. (She could imagine.)
And most of all, what he was going to do now that he was here.
Sakura exhaled exasperatedly, dabbing at the light sweat on his brow. Surrendering to the fact Sasuke needed his sleep and that she couldn't very well shake him awake to interrogate him, she walked out the door, shutting it as gently as possible.
Her lingering curiosity, which could only be fed with his answers, would have to wait.
Silently and almost awkwardly, they settled into their respective couches.
Sakura remained awake a good 15 minutes.
So sure, as she'd been on various missions she'd grown accustomed to falling asleep to the deep breathing of teammates she barely knew.
This was a whole new level of different. (Read: awkward.)
That is, falling asleep to the deep breathing of someone she barely knew.
For at least eight entire months.
As she forced her eyes closed, she idly realized that it was necessity to get used to it.
As she groggily sat up, she took in her surroundings through half-lidded eyes. Living room…couch…house…Neji…
Sakura rubbed her eyes, blinking repeatedly. Her memory then finally caught up with her.
Right. He was currently the established 'guardian' of the Amaterasu House.
Sakura snorted lightly, lifting the covers from her body. Like she needed one. All of Konohagakure knew how very capable she was at looking out for herself.
She folded the blanket and primped up her pillow, setting them neatly upon her couch.
Green eyes reverted back to Neji, the pompous, arrogant, high and mighty, stick-up-his-ass—
He was sleeping.
(Sakura wasn't much of a morning person, really, so her usually active brain worked a little slower.)
She remembered him from back in their genin days, of course. He'd always been better looking than most guys but his normally condescending, everyone-is-beneath-me eyes kind of retracted from any hotness-potential he had.
(Or maybe she'd been too in love with a certain other resident prodigy to give his appearance any serious contemplation.)
However…with his soft-looking chocolate hair in a little disarray, his features relaxed, facial muscles still, his brows not drawn in their usual furrow, he looked almost…cute.
Sakura promptly blushed, damning her hormones.
…And his smooth, white skin. How the hell did he juggle nice skin, soft hair, and ANBU duties? You…! You total un-…man!
She unconsciously leant in a little closer. His pores were so damn small too—
Quick arms went to grab behind her head, pulling her close. A kunai that seemed to have spontaneously generated appeared at her jugular, dangerously close to breaking skin.
Her breathing was coming in short gasps.
Clear eyes opened to look up angrily into her emerald ones.
"Haruno." He realized, dropping his weapon. His tone still retained that derogatory edge and she crossly reprimanded herself for thinking him attractive in any way. "Don't sneak up on me like that."
"You were sleeping! I wasn't sneaking up on you! I was—" she cut short, about to say 'enviously admiring your anomaly-free facial features!', "…swatting a bug off your forehead!"
He rolled his eyes, getting up from the couch and fixing his pillow and sheet in a similar manner. (He even made his bed better, she recognized, irritated.)
"I can't believe you don't even have a spare futon in this place…" He grumbled.
"Would you quit complaining already? I said we'd get the stuff today, didn't I? So get ready. After I check up on Sasuke-kun's condition, we can go out. Maybe pick up breakfast or something."
She walked over to her bag and pulled out her toothbrush. Neji looked to his suitcase and did the same.
"Hey! Ultra-soft, end-rounded micro-bristles!" Sakura grinned, referring to his shiny new toothbrush. "So you did take my advice."
The Hyuuga scoffed in reply.
She stepped over to his bedside, about to lay a hand on his forehead when—
His arm shot out and up, his hand, a vice grip on her wrist. Familiar, furious eyes opened to the world, a mix of power and adrenaline emanating in her direction.
Dark eyes blinked at her, lighting with recognition.
She hissed, snatching her hand away and tending to the redness his rough fingers left on her forearm. "Why do you shinobi have to be so damn edgy all the time?"
Ok. Stupid question, she knew.
But her wrist kind of hurt. Seriously.
"Sakura." He finally breathed. "Where the hell am I?"
"You're in my house." She sighed, wondering whatever happened to simple 'Good Morning's. "Well, the house my grandmother left for me in her will anyway."
His eyes made a quick evaluation of the room and his jerky posture relaxed when he deemed himself in no immediate danger.
"Though, it should be me asking the questions!" Sakura exclaimed, "I found you in a state of near-pneumonia last night, in the middle of a storm! Care to explain?"
He characteristically 'Hn'-ed. "Like that's any of your business."
Again with that none-of-my-business-crap, Sakura thought. Was it so wrong that she cared for the well-being of others?
"Yes well, I took you in! Doesn't that count for anything?"
"No one asked you to." He deadpanned.
And she'd been so worried too--!
"Well, I'm going." He muttered as he sat up, throwing the covers off of him.
"Hey, wait a minute Sasuke-kun!" She bellowed, his ungratefulness feeding her fire, "You—" She tried to think up an insult, a threat, anything to get him to stay put. Finally, "If you leave this room, you'll be undermining my official medic-nin status! And…and under the terms of your probation, you have to take orders from the Hokage (at all times), any higher-ranking shinobi (while on a mission), and any medic-nin that has treated a recent injury/affliction."
She breathed deep, continuing, "I let you get away last time, but don't go expecting me to immediately release you when you'd been so sick the night before."
Sasuke glared harshly at her but she didn't budge. "Go to bed. Doctor's orders."
And like a good little Uchiha, he followed. (Albeit, there was unmistakable loathing in his eyes.)
She sighed, tossing him a stern look, "I'll be back in a little while to buy a couple of beds or futons or something. I'll bring some breakfast."
She tried a smile (To which he growled), "We'll talk when I get back."
"Wait…" He called, "There's another presence in the house."
"Oh, yeah." She mumbled, remembering the other jerk she'd left downstairs. "That's Neji-san."
She didn't bother answering to Sasuke's disbelieving expression.
"I'll explain later."
I mean really.
She'd only ever imagined furniture shopping with a longtime boyfriend or a close roommate.
But with a man she barely knew, who was under the false pretense of her guardian because they both (well she, anyway) had been extremely desperate the night before?
Not so much.
At least, it didn't really look like they were together. His longer legs allowed him to generally walk faster than she could, so he kept ahead. As discourteous as it was, at least she was spared the awkwardness of having to walk directly beside him.
As they entered the more congested part of Konoha, she was ambling by with her usual ease, waving hello at citizens and shinobi they'd pass along the way.
No one seemed suspicious of anything.
Sakura smiled. It was as if nothing had changed, nothing was out of sorts. The status quo was as ordinary as it always was--
The screech echoed through the town, turning heads.
Sakura and Neji whipped around and she heard him curse under his breath.
There stood what Sakura had initially thought was a gang. That is, till she realized they were all women, ranging in age from little 7 year-old Keiko-chan who'd lived down the street, to Kurosaki-san who'd been running the Oishi Superstore for 43 years.
All of them donning shirts with Neji's face printed smack dab on the front.
"Your fanclub?" Sakura questioned laughingly.
"Obviously." He hissed, before disappearing in some random direction.
She blinked angrily before following shortly after. "Hyuuga!"
Another hiss, "Quiet! Let's go."
"Hm…" she mumbled, huffing to match his strides, "Do they attack you in public all the time? Or is today a special occasion?"
"I have no freakin' clue." He grumbled, picking up the pace when he heard their screeches in the backdrop. "I've known of its existence for some time." He said, referring to the group of drooling females trailing after them, "But they've never been this…aggressive."
Sakura exhaled exasperation. She'd dealt with aggressive fan girls before. Way back in the day when she had been an 'independent' (both she and Ino had been 'independents') Sasuke-fan girl. She had to fend off groups of Uchiha Sasuke fan girls (scientifically called 'mobs') from her man.
She allowed a quite giggle. Those had been the days.
"Quick, here!" He suddenly spoke, breaking her veil of nostalgia. They ducked behind an open door. Luckily, the herd of squealing girls swarmed through without noticing and the two shinobi breathed sighs of relief.
"Pancake House!" Sakura happily chirped, finally discovering what location they'd stumbled into. She ignored the way Neji rolled his eyes. "C'mon. Since we're already here…"
She sat herself at a booth, not caring if he followed her or not.
(But she granted him a small smirk when he appeared before her moments later.)
She averted her eyes, turning her gaze to the menu in front of her.
Just yesterday, she remembered, they'd had a conversation of bare minimum politeness, in which, despite the fact they barely knew each other, he hadn't restrained his biting remarks and she had stormed out, beyond irritated.
And now, just 12 hours later, here they sat face to face at a pancake restaurant, roommates about to purchase some furniture together.
She coughed lightly, "Er…your fanclub's pretty enthusiastic. Bigger than I had expected."
Neji sighed, pearl eyes glancing over the menu, "When the Uchiha left, his fans basically dispersed to find some other avenue of interest." He sneered, "Namely me."
Sakura chuckled openly, a barrage of images, mostly of Neji being attacked by amorous females, passing through her mind.
He frowned with her blatant mocking, but his features quickly turned devious with a smirk, "I'm actually sort of surprised you're not trying to molest me."
The statement was so unbelievably ludicrous, it took her huge mental capability about 3 seconds to process. 3…2…1…
"WHAT?!" She bellowed, cheeks heating up with a combination of embarrassment and indignation. "WHY…" (she had a little trouble believing what she was pretty sure she'd heard) "WHY THE HELL WOULD I MOLEST YOU?"
The customers at the pancake place stared at her, some even going as far as to gasp out loud, but the pink-haired kunoichi was oblivious to the fact she was causing a scene.
He sent her an icy glare, a clear warning to 'sit the hell down' before continuing, "Well, aren't you an ex-Sasuke-kun fan girl? That must mean you're my fan girl now, right?"
"Don't look down on me!" She shouted, flustered, "I'm not that easy!"
He cocked a brow, "So you still chase him around?"
Sakura shook her head wildly, "NO! No! I—" she took a breath when she finally felt eyes on her. Softer (though still as passionately) she admitted, "I'm over him! I've been over him for almost 3 years now!"
"Calm down." Neji grumbled, leaning back in his seat, cool clear eyes on her. "I was only joking."
The green-eyed girl relaxed a little.
"Anyway," He grunted, thumbing once more through the menu, "I wouldn't want someone who held unrequited feelings for me to be living with me."
Sakura considered his opinion, "Yeah. That would be awkward." A lot more so than it already is, she thought edgily.
"And," He continued (to Sakura's surprise. Since when was the Hyuuga actually willing, not only to talk but to start up conversation?) He threw her that condescending smirk of his, "If you did happen to fall for me, don't expect me to give you the time of day."
"Erm, excuse me…" mumbled a hesitant outside voice. Both shinobi looked to the sudden presence, a mousy waitress with a notepad in her hands and a blush across her cheeks. Her eyes met with Neji's and she looked away, the pinkish tint darkening. As Neji continued to gaze at her in that indifferent manner of his, Sakura grinned smugly.
"I—would you—" She gulped a little, "…And your girlfriend like to order?"
Confused green eyes darted about, looking for the girlfriend that this waitress was going on about…
The only people within earshot were Neji, the waitress, Akio (as her name tag claimed), and…
"ME?" The pink-haired kunoichi squeaked, incredulity tingeing her voice. "I'm not his girlfriend--!" She proclaimed, emerald orbs narrowing with the insinuation.
The Hyuuga merely scoffed, slightly ticked with the waitress's audacity, "What part of her looks like my girlfriend?"
Akio blushed harder, bowing in apology, "I—I'm sorry! It's just that I—It looked like—"
Neji deadened the bite in his expression, the woman reminding him of his cousin in mannerism. "Go on."
The female bit her lip, "Ah…I don't normally make these kinds of assumptions, it's just—" She looked around, "Let me explain…"
As she scurried off, Neji and Sakura looked quickly at each other in question before turning back to find the waitress returning, a newspaper in her hands. She dropped the notepad on their table, fumbling quickly through the pages.
When she came upon what she was looking for, she lay the paper on the table, finger pointing to the headline:
Hyuuga Heir: Looking for Love!
Sakura's eyes widened, pupils scanning the article with trained quickness.
"You've read right, ladies of Konohagakure! Hyuuga Neji, prime candidate to the title 'Head of the Prestigious Hyuuga Household', has been, as of yesterday, looking for a suitable fiancé! Seems too good to be true? Well, Hyuuga Hiashi, current household leader and Neji's uncle, doesn't seem to think so. The esteemed, elder shinobi not only confirms the story, but, has in fact instigated the release of this article! He had met briefly with me yesterday, with every intention of spreading the word.
"In order for my nephew to understand what it takes to be head of the family, he needs to start one of his own." Said the wise Hyuuga-sama.
Now for those of you who don't know who Hyuuga Neji is (What? Have you been living under a rock?!) here is some basic info about our stoic, totally eligible bachelor…"
The article continued from there describing every one of Neji's supposed appealing traits, but Sakura could figure enough.
This was why he'd been kicked out. Why he'd been so evasive when she'd asked. Why his fan girls were being unusually persistent. His uncle had wanted him to find a fiancé.
She looked to the Hyuuga, surprised amusement bubbling in her throat, only to come across a livid, fuming, teeth gnashing, fist tightening Neji sitting across from her.
"Uncle…" He seethed.
Before she could say anything further, the Hyuuga jumped from his seat and stormed out the door, the pink-haired kunoichi blinking in his wake.