Author: Annie Sparklecakes PM
AU. She had been a 5 on the scale for too long: not pretty, not ugly, just Sakura. That was, until Kiba strolled into her life and proclaimed her a 10. But what’s the price to pay for beauty, and is it worth it? Sakura's not so sure.Rated: Fiction T - English - Drama - Sakura H. & Kiba I. - Chapters: 8 - Words: 27,755 - Reviews: 313 - Favs: 264 - Follows: 136 - Updated: 04-27-09 - Published: 01-05-09 - Status: Complete - id: 4772102
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
I haven't had a real fic – as in, not collab, not TDB – to update for almost a week, but I pretty much lost my mind, I was so bored. Thus, this fic was born! Although actually I've been considering it for a while. Anyway, I'm trying something new with this fic, and that includes no romance. So just because it's under Kiba & Sakura, doesn't mean this is KibaSaku. They're just the main characters.
Blanket disclaimer: I own nothing someone else does.
"Nice. The brunette? Eight."
Sakura shook her head, exasperated, and started down the stone steps of the North Building. They were at it again.
It was a chilly morning, and she had forgotten her jacket at home, so she pulled her Organic Chemistry textbook tighter to her chest and quickened her pace to Sarutobi Hall – named for the most generous benefactor and once-Dean of Konoha U – for her Psychology lecture.
She passed the two boys sitting on a black SUV in the parking lot, and they eyed her. Sakura felt her heart lurch with dread.
For a moment they didn't speak. Then, simultaneously:
"They did it again, didn't they?" Ino said the moment Sakura slid into the booth at their favorite pizza place. She already had a pie waiting, plain cheese. Sakura immediately reached for a hot slice.
"Hm?" She took a big bite, blinking up innocently at her best friend.
Ino sighed, sipping from her Diet Pepsi. "Rated you."
Sakura lowered her pizza onto her plate, and turned to her own glass of Regular Pepsi. The ice in the glass clinked against her teeth in the silence of their corner booth.
She didn't have to answer.
Ino shook her head, nibbling at her crust – she had started eating while Sakura was leaving her two-hour lecture. "I don't see why it bothers you. They're idiots."
That was easy for Ino to say. Ino was, on average, an eight, with regular nines and the rare seven. Blonde, blue-eyed, and vivacious, she was the prettiest girl Sakura had ever known. Her smile was stellar, her skin smooth and pale, and her body unfairly perfect.
But Sakura… Sakura was a constant five. Not pretty, not ugly. She was unremarkable which, with her pink hair and green eyes, shouldn't have been possible. But maybe her clothes were too simple, maybe her face was too plain, or her smile too low-key. Whatever it was, the only ten Sakura could have gotten in her life was by a guy that wouldn't rate girls.
Still, she didn't like to bother about it. In her first year at Konoha U, when she was introduced to the rating system, she was heartbroken over her score. But nearly two years later, she had learned to accept it and move on. There were worse things.
Which was why she shrugged in response to Ino's comment and asked, "Did you finish your Forensics paper last night?"
Ino blew out a breath. "No. I guess I have another all-nighter waiting for me."
Sakura smiled, sucking some tomato sauce off her finger. "I can stay with you. I'll do my readings."
Ino beamed. "Have I ever told you how much I love you?"
Sakura would have responded, but it was then that the door swung open behind her, there was a loud burst of laughter, and she turned.
And there was Uchiha Sasuke, coming in with three of his friends. Uzumaki Naruto, Sasuke's closest friend, was right beside him, sunny smile lighting up the entire pizza parlor. Behind them were Nara Shikamaru and Akimichi Chouji. Shikamaru was half-smiling, glancing up at the menu above the counter, while Chouji had his wallet out and ready.
Ino laughed, and Sakura immediately turned back to face her, cheeks hot with embarrassment.
"Aw, look who's blushing!" She glanced over at the quartet interestedly. "I didn't know lover-boy ate food."
"Ino," Sakura hissed. "He'll hear you!"
Ino scoffed. "Not likely. Sasuke is oblivious to all things female."
This was true, but Sakura still glared at Ino for being so loud about it. She could hear them at the counter. Naruto was ordering, while Shikamaru and Chouji searched for a table.
Sakura eyed the empty table by their booth and held her breath. Could they be so lucky?
Yes. Yes, they could. Shikamaru shuffled to the table and slumped in the seat nearest Sakura, looking exhausted. Chouji sat across from him, setting down two glasses of coke. Sakura looked away before he could notice her gaze. Ino smirked at her from across the table.
Naruto and Sasuke followed soon after, carrying a plain cheese pizza, just like theirs. Sakura tried very hard to ignore them, but she couldn't, at the same time, bring herself to speak. Ino seemed content to watch Sakura squirm, eyes glinting with amusement.
They were speaking, and Sakura felt wrong eavesdropping, so she checked her watch, then shifted her attention to Ino.
"So today, in lecture—"
Sakura broke off, and both she and Ino turned towards Naruto. He was sitting beside Shikamaru, waving, as if they couldn't see him in his blindingly orange t-shirt.
"Hey, Naruto," Ino called back smoothly. Sakura stared – she had spoken to Uzumaki Naruto about two times in as many years; how did he know her name? – until Ino kicked her ankle, and she winced, snapping to her senses.
"Ow! I mean, uh, hi, Naruto." She smiled at the table. "Hey, guys."
Shikamaru lifted his glass in silent salute to them, and Chouji greeted them more exuberantly. Sasuke flicked a glance at them for only a moment, then turned back to his BlackBerry, where he was reading a message.
Sakura's smile widened – ridiculously, she knew – and Ino stifled a grin.
"Wanna sit with us?" Naruto invited.
Like she could eat around Sasuke. Besides—"No thanks. I have a tutorial soon."
"I have a paper," Ino added, scrunching up her nose.
Shikamaru, surprisingly, spoke up. "What class?"
"I took that last term." He shrugged. "I could help, if you want."
"Really?" Ino broke out into a wide, beaming smile. "That would be great! I don't need you anymore, then, Sakura."
Sakura rolled her eyes. "Nice."
Sasuke was trying to hide a smirk. Naruto and Chouji were flat-out grinning. Ino didn't seem to notice, but Sakura raised an eyebrow at them – just as Sasuke met her gaze.
His eyes were dark and flat and made Sakura avert her eyes, as if she had been caught doing something shameful. She wiped her mouth with her napkin, took a final sip of her drink, and slid out of her seat, shouldering her book bag.
"Leaving already?" Ino asked.
"I need to drop by the bookstore. Wanna come with?"
"I think I'll pass."
Sakura laughed. "Thought so. Later, Ino." She turned to the other table, keeping her gaze carefully on Naruto's blond head. "Bye, guys!"
There was a chorus of Bye, Sakuras from behind her, but she didn't turn back.
If Sakura was a five and Ino was an eight, then Sasuke was, by all rights, the perfect ten. The only ten. Pale, unblemished skin, angular features, spiky dark hair, and deep black eyes made Sasuke the prettiest, most perfect boy Sakura had ever seen.
Not that she had ever really talked to him. they had a few lectures together throughout the years, and both of them were smart enough to know each other, but that was as far as their relationship went.
She looked through the titles on the spines of the books on the shelves in the English section at the back of the store. she was taking Children's Literature, which involved a lot more work than she had expected, but was still rather enjoyable, and needed The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe.
Lewis, Lewis, Lewis… There! On the top shelf sat a pile of books, and Sakura reached up, stretching – and couldn't make it.
She huffed. Why pile the books so high no one could reach them?
She tried again, fingers barely skimming the middle of the stack of books. If she took one from there, the whole pile would come tumbling down. The bookstore owner, Yamato, wouldn't be happy about that.
That was when a large, tanned hand appeared over hers, plucking the very book she needed off the shelf. Sakura bounced back onto her heels and glanced up. Third-year Inuzuka Kiba was holding out the book to her.
Pretty boys were a dime a dozen at Konoha U – though maybe none quite like Sasuke – but Kiba wasn't just attractive. There was something darker about him. he was a mystery, but not in the brooding style of Sasuke, or the quiet way of Neji and Sai. He was unpredictable – people flocked to him, but no one was close to him.
But he was smiling at her as he handed her the thin paperback. "Sakura, right?"
She smiled back automatically. "That'd be me." How did he know her name? "Thanks," she added, gesturing to the book.
"No problem." He fell into step beside her as she picked her way through the crowded aisles towards the cash register. "Where're you headed now?"
"Um." Why was he following her? Sakura checked the sleek, silver watch on her wrist. 2:38. "I have a tutorial in twenty minutes."
"Are you free now?"
Sakura stopped in her tracks to stare up at Kiba, baffled. They had never even spoken before and, if she was honest, Sakura had to admit that she was a bit afraid of him.
Kiba waited patiently for her answer, but all Sakura could do was sputter.
Finally, she managed, "Uh, yeah. I have nothing to do."
"Great. Want to get a coffee with me?"
Sakura had enough caffeine in her from the soda, but there was nothing better to do, so she nodded. Kiba grinned at her again, and she felt her heart skip a beat. Whatever else Kiba was, he was certainly charming.
She paid for her book, tucked it into her bookbag, and followed Kiba out the door and into the elevator. The food court was up only two floors, but the elevator ride seemed agonizingly long. There was nowhere to look but at Kiba, and Sakura didn't know what to say. Luckily, the elevator was large; they moved to opposite sides, staring each other down silently until the elevator stopped and the doors swooshed open.
"What do you want?" he asked as they headed for Starbucks.
"White chocolate mocha," she answered automatically.
Kiba shook his head. "That's not real coffee." But he stepped up to the cashier anyway, and pulled out his wallet. Alarmed, Sakura did the same.
"I'll pay. You can carry the drinks."
"What kind of gentleman would I be if I did that?"
Sakura smiled. "A twenty-first century one." She slapped down a bill before Kiba could move. He looked both impressed and exasperated, and as they walked to a table, he pressed her to let him pay her back.
"It feels very weird to let a girl pay for me."
"Well, now you know how the girls feel."
She still felt awkward, but Kiba was surprisingly friendly, and Sakura felt herself relaxing as she sipped from her Styrofoam cup –
"Hell, that one's a two. Maybe point-five."
Sakura flicked a glance at the group of boys sitting at the table next to theirs. Kiba was watching her when she looked away.
"What, no comment?"
"I didn't know when I came here that rating was practically Konoha U's official sport," she admitted, setting down her drink. "I've gotten used to it, though."
"Yeah?" He folded his arms across his chest and leaned back in his seat, appraising her. "Ever join in?"
"No way," she said, appalled by the very suggestion. "It's demeaning and hurtful and wrong."
"It's all in good fun," he said. A smirk was tugging at his lips and he raised an eyebrow. "I'm guessing you've gotten a bad rating?"
Sakura glared at the table and didn't answer. "You could say that."
"Five and a half."
Sakura bit her tongue so she wouldn't start ranting. Even if she was used to it, she wasn't happy with the rating she heard all over campus.
Kiba was watching the other boys and the girls they were rating. "Those boys have very low standards for beauty," he said lightly. He glanced at Sakura. "What?"
Sakura shook her head, disgusted. Et tu, Kiba? She stood, snatching up her half-full drink. "I should get to tutorial. Bye."
She still had twenty minutes. She would just wait outside the door – better than staying here with Kiba. As it was, he didn't seem to mind. He stared up at Sakura, the corner of his mouth twitching as if he was fighting a smile. What a jerk.
Sakura spun on her heel, drink sloshing around in its cup, and walked straight past the table of boys they had been watching – and straight into their line of fire.
Sakura felt their eyes on her, considering, and she straightened, blinking her long-lashed eyes slowly, trying not to be too obvious—
"Five," they agreed. Sakura sighed.
Behind her, she thought she heard Kiba laugh.
After her tutorial, Sakura was done classes for the day, and she began the trek to the library, to finish her lab and assigned readings before heading toward the bus, and home. She had lived on campus for her first year, but after that, she had chosen to move into an apartment building with Ino.
It was as she was waiting at the bus stop, hands in pockets and ears turning red, that she saw Kiba again. He was standing around with a bunch of his friends, and didn't seem to have noticed her. that was fine by her.
Her breath was coming out in little white puffs. She wished she had a jacket. She could almost feel herself icing over.
"Just a tad," she said evenly, meeting Kiba's gaze head-on. When had he wandered over?
He unwound the dark blue scarf around his neck and beckoned her closer. She stepped back instead, shaking her head.
"No, I'm fine. My ride will be here soon." She glanced up the street, biting her lip, and hoped she was right.
"Just let me be a nice guy," he pressed. At Sakura's skeptical look, he sighed. "I'm sorry about before. I didn't realize it upset you so much."
She glanced up at him, trying to judge if those brown eyes were sincere, but it was dark out, and the streetlight they stood under cast his face into shadow, and the firm set of his mouth was unreadable.
Sakura pulled away when she felt the warm weight pressing on the back of her neck, and reached up to pull away the scarf.
"Don't," he said. "It's my way of apologizing."
And then with a small, strange smile, he turned and walked back to his friends. Sakura turned at the headlights coming up the drive, to see her bus finally arriving, and Sasuke approaching. His eyes were on her, and Sakura wondered if he had seen the exchange between her and Kiba. She hoped he hadn't gotten the right idea.
The bus came to a halt, the doors opened, and as Sakura stepped up with the quickly-forming crowd, passing Kiba and his friends, she could hear them ticking off numbers. Kiba was silent, until one faceless voice urged him to participate.
Sakura felt the back of her neck prickle, and she glanced back. Faces were turned towards her, and Kiba's eyes gleamed in the evening light as his gaze met hers. Sakura's breath caught. They were rating her? After all she had said?
She didn't need to hear it. She put her hand on the rail and stepped up onto the bus, but even so, she could hear Kiba's voice clearly, could almost see his lips forming the word…
I know this sounds very typical of me so far, but I promise there's a twist. I'd love to know what you think so far! Review!