Battle over, war done, burials finished.
Sasuke kind of wished it wasn't, because then the situation wouldn't be nearly as awkward as having both his old team and his more recent one altogether around a campfire trying to get to know each other. Thankfully, the "Sai" guy that had replaced him was elsewhere, or this would have been even more awkward than it was already.
(At least introducing Naruto and Karin more formally and revealing that they were related was already taken care of. Granted, it had been done by Kabuto and Orochimaru, but at least it had been done.)
"Well, this is fun." Kakashi eye-smiled at them all, seemingly without a care in the world. Sakura and Naruto glanced at him, though Sasuke's glare was absolutely poisonous.
Suigetsu seemed content to just sit back and watch them all. Asshole.
"Alright, that's it. Somebody start talking." Karin broke the silence, as irritated as she usually was. She rounded on Naruto, who seemed to start panicking. At least that made sense; most of the women Naruto interacted with on a regular basis were prone to violence, and he wasn't exactly keen on fighting back. Karin pointed at him, eyes narrowed. "You. You talk."
"About what?" Naruto seemed to be playing it safe… or as close to safe as Naruto could play it.
"Well, let's start off with something you might actually be able to answer without too much trouble: got a girlfriend?"
"I—no!" Naruto blushed. "I mean, I'm kind of hoping, but no!"
"Boyfriend?" Karin asked after a second.
"Non-binary significant other?" She continued without hesitation, remarkably blunt.
"No!" Naruto stared at her, mouth open in shock at the sheer lack of tact that his 'cousin' was displaying. "Why do you even care?"
"Because I'm apparently the only family you have left, and that means certain questions are obligatory. This is one of them." Karin narrowed her eyes again, glancing between him and Sakura. "You're sure that—"
"Yes, I'm sure!" Naruto blanched, glancing at Sakura. "There was a while where I kind of… never mind, the point is, no."
Sakura snorted, taking over the sentence for Naruto. "There was a while where he liked me, but I've never felt that way about him. I care a lot, yeah, but… not like that."
"Yeah." Sakura nodded, slapping Naruto across the back. "Then again, if Hinata's actions over the last few months have been any indicator…"
"She doesn't… I mean, I…" Naruto's face was bright red as he buried it in his arms and groaned. Sasuke was just glad that no one was focusing on him. "Hinata-chan's family is, like, really, really strict."
"I don't think her dad would mind." Sakura mused, tapping a finger against her chin. "And her sister wouldn't either, I think."
"Yeah, but there's, like, an entire council of old fogeys there!" Naruto waved his hands around in the air as though that would make his point stronger. He narrowly avoided smacking Juugo in the face. "And they probably don't want her to date any non-Hyuuga, even if they do like me, 'cause if stuff ever went any further, then there would be arguments over which clan kids would go to, and which clan name we'd take, and which clan name the kids would take, and about the Byakugan, and I'm still kind of scared of her dad 'cause I remember Neji being super protective and I'm pretty sure Hinata's dad is like ten times worse."
"Naruto." Kakashi glanced up from his book, looking his student right in the eye. "Breathe."
Naruto just whined and stuck his head back in his arms. "I mean, Hinata's really nice and all, and I know she likes me a lot, and I think it could probably work out but her family's just full of, of, of assholes!"
"Go ahead and ask her out." Karin snorted and leaned back in her seat, surprisingly not toppling off the log she was on. "Anyone who tries to object, well… you've got me now. And while I may not be on your level when it comes to fighting, I was one of Orochimaru's students. I can make creepy work for me."
"And if things don't work out with Hinata-chan, there are plenty of other girls that would like to date a war hero." Sakura nudged him, grinning.
Sasuke's main concern right now was trying to figure out why Suigetsu wasn't stirring up trouble yet. This much silence for this much time with that much of a smirk was bad news and it was really putting him on edge.
Naruto mumbled something as he pressed his head into his arms, face burning again. Sakura glanced around the circle in askance, but it seemed like no one else had caught what Naruto had said either.
"Uh… what was that?"
"…not a girl…" Naruto's voice floated up.
Sakura bit her lip, seemingly about to burst into giggles. "Um, who's not a girl?"
Naruto lifted his head up and stared at the fire, avoiding Sakura's eyes and pouting. "There is someone other than Hinata-chan that I've got in mind, but… not a girl."
"Really, now?" Sakura's grin was positively wicked, and Sasuke was pretty sure that Karin was smirking, but he didn't want to check. "Who?"
"Even more issues than dating Hinata-chan." Naruto shook his head. "Bad idea."
"You can tell me." Sakura poked him in the shoulder.
"Yeah, but not them!" Naruto gestured at everyone else in the circle. Kakashi seemed a little affronted at his inclusion. "They'd tell!"
"If they do, I'll beat their faces in." Sakura promised.
"Even Sasuke and Kakashi-sensei?"
"Even Sasuke-kun and Kakashi-sensei." Sakura nodded, smiling. "Now, who do you have in mind other than Hinata-chan?"
Naruto sighed, glancing suspiciously around the circle, and then started glaring at the fire again. His voice was a low mumble when he finally said the name, and it was a bit of a reach for anyone to hear, but hear they did.
Sakura blinked, then smiled. "Wait, really? Oh, you two would be adorable together."
"Wait, isn't that the Kazekage?" Karin asked, frowning when she got nods of confirmation. "Yeah, I can see why that would be an issue."
Sakura winced. "Yeah, inter-village dating is allowed, but with one, or both, being Kage… Mm, that's a testy issue. Still, Naruto and Gaara would mesh well together."
"I'll take your word for it." Karin snorted. "Anyway, what about you, Pinky? You got anyone?"
"You care because…?"
"Humor me." Karin crossed her arms. "If this keeps going on like it looks like it will, I'm going to be spending a hell of a lot of time with y'all. So let's see if I can't get to know you a bit."
"Hmph." Sakura smiled, chuckling a bit. "Alright, I'll buy that for now. As for me… I don't really know. Lee, maybe? I mean, I've been turning him down for a while, but he hasn't given up, and he's a pretty nice guy… mostly I just didn't feel like dating because I was still angry about Sasuke ditching us and all, but now that that's taken care of… yeah, maybe Lee. Or Ino."
"Wait, Ino?" Sasuke couldn't help himself. If his two most fervent Academy fangirls ended up together… well, that was certainly a heavy dose of irony, right there.
"Yeah, Ino." Sakura laced her hands and put them behind her head. "I've always kind of liked her, I just didn't really think it was that way until a year or two ago when I realized that I might not be as straight as I'd always thought I was."
Sakura shoved him off his log.
"Moron." Sasuke muttered under his breath, though he didn't miss the looks that Kakashi and Sakura sent him. What, couldn't he even get away with that anymore?
"What about you, then?" Sakura asked, nodding at Karin. "You keep asking about us, but you haven't told us a thing about yourself. Neither have those two." She gestured at Suigetsu and Juugo.
"Juugo's too scared of his own powers to start a relationship with anyone and the dumbass wouldn't be able to woo a goddamn rock." Karin stated bluntly and without hesitation.
Sasuke didn't even blink.
"The hell, bitch?" Suigetsu demanded. "Like you could get any! Flat chest, flat ass, flat personality! You'll probably end up in a pity marriage!"
The response was near-instantaneous.
"Get over here so I can punch your face in, asshole!" Karin snapped, standing up with a fist raised.
"Suigetsu, stop provoking her." Sasuke ordered, putting a hand up to his head. Karin had been right next to him all night, and her sudden shouting had been a surprise. "Karin… just, sit down or something."
"Tch." Karin dropped heavily onto her log, still giving Suigetsu the evil eye. "Fine, if you're so capable, who are you going after?"
Suigetsu blinked and thought it over. "Uh… Huh. I don't really know. Met a guy during clean-up that seemed kinda interested, though."
"Name?" Sakura asked, finally speaking after a full minute of just watching Taka with an infuriating smirk on her face.
"Uh… Inuzuka Kiba?"
"He's straight." Naruto immediately said. "I asked, once. Sorry, dude."
"Damn." Suigetsu made a face. "Guess I'll just wait and see, then."
"Why did you ask if Kiba of all people was straight?" Sakura asked. "I mean, there's no reason why he couldn't be gay or bi or something, but… why him? You never bothered to ask me if I was straight. Why Kiba?"
"Okay, let me rephrase that. I asked him out, once." Naruto stuck out his tongue. "It was only half-joking, but yeah. He's straight. Now, moving on…"
Naruto turned to Juugo, who immediately seemed to grow uncomfortable. "Um… no one in mind. I want to get my Kekkei Genkai under control before I try dating or anything. I don't want to hurt someone by accident."
The original Team Seven glanced at each other and shrugged. Sakura nodded. "Fair enough."
Then, of course, she got an evil little smile on her face and turned to the only other girl there. "Alright, no more dodging the question. Karin, right? What about you?"
"I have only ever liked one guy, and he's oblivious as fuck." Karin said, snorting. "Either that or gay and trying not to let me down too hard, which I doubt."
"Who?" Sakura asked, though there seemed to be some suspicion in her voice. Sasuke rolled his eyes and stared at the fire. Maybe if he ignored Sakura enough, she wouldn't ask him about whether he liked anyone.
Sasuke didn't look away from the fire for several seconds, but then there was snickering and groaning and even an "Oh my god, are you fucking serious?" and he didn't really have any choice but to look up and see that the entire circle was either facepalming or staring at him.
Sakura seemed to be trying to stifle a smile, but it wasn't working at all. "Uh, Sasuke-kun? She pointed at you."
Sasuke blinked. He blinked again. He glanced at Karin, who looked as unimpressed as usual. He looked back at Sakura.
"Excuse me for a second." Karin's voice was sugary sweet, and when Sasuke looked at her, her smile was inordinately cheery. She stood up, walked a few feet out from the circle, and proceeded, to start banging her head against a tree. "You. Are. Such. A. Fucking. Moron. I. Swear. To. Fucking. God. Sasuke."
"You're going to give yourself a concussion!" Sakura called not-so-helpfully, but there was far too much amusement in her voice.
"That's the point!" Karin shouted back, though she did step away from the tree and come back to her place in the circle. Her forehead was raw and red and covered in tiny bits of bark, looking more than a little worse for the wear. Then again, she'd been hitting her head against a tree instead of a wall… trees were rougher surfaces and all…
"Do you want me to take care of that?" Sakura offered, pointing at Karin's forehead. Sasuke's head was still a little off-kilter from the supposition that Karin of all people liked him, trying to put the pieces together in a way that did not result with a big fat 'WHAT?' as his answer.
"What the hell, sure." Karin grumbled, waiting for Sakura to come over instead of getting up herself.
"Uh… Sasuke?" Naruto's voice was sing-song, and if it weren't for the fact that he was sitting at least three or four feet away, he probably would have started waving his hand in front of Sasuke's face in order to get his attention. "Earth to Sasuke…?"
"I hear you, dumbass." Sasuke snapped back, more or less on autopilot.
"Oh, so you're alive. Good to know." Karin mocked. Sakura snickered again, nearly done with the healing.
"How did you not notice?" Suigetsu asked through his own laughing. "I mean, it's not like the bitch's been subtle about it."
"What did you just call me?!" Karin sprang up again, and with Sakura no longer there, her aim was unimpeded. The rock she threw at Suigetsu flew true and went right through his head.
"Suigetsu, just… don't." Sasuke pinched the bridge of his nose. "And anyway, she never acted the way that the fangirls back in the Academy who liked me did. She didn't do the squealing and the heart-eyes and the '-kun' or any of that."
"Ah yes, that would be a little thing called denial." Suigetsu snickered, ignoring Karin's angry retort. "Or maybe subtlety? If she's even capable of being subtle, that is."
"Suigetsu, I'm am going to shove a kunai so far up your ass you'll be tasting metal for weeks."
"Can we get back to the subject?" Sakura interrupted. "I'm having fun watching Sasuke flounder around and not know what to do."
Sasuke shot her a poisonous glare, but was sidetracked by Naruto, who oh holy hell WHY?
"Wait, so is Sasuke oblivious or gay? I always thought he was gay. Since when is Sasuke not gay?" Naruto was pointing at Sasuke accusingly.
"I never said I was gay." That was literally the only response Sasuke could come up with for such a random accusation. "I don't think I ever even implied I was gay. Where the hell did you get that idea?"
"You never liked any of the girls!" Naruto wasn't quite shouting, but he was getting there. "Not even Sakura-chan! And she's super pretty!"
"I was twelve! I didn't like anyone! I hated the world and everyone in it!" Sasuke protested, not even understanding how the argument had gotten to this point from just Karin admitting that she liked him.
Oh, wait… that was… back when they were alone those two times… that was… that was flirting.
"I don't think I'd mind it if you were gay. Not my type, but I could dig it." Suigetsu drawled, milking the situation for all it was worth, and maybe breaking Sasuke's brain a little in the process because if both Karin and Suigetsu liked him—
"Well, how about you just tell us what your sexuality is, then?" Kakashi broke the awkwardnes (or maybe just made it worse) with a small snap as he closed his book. He eye-smiled right at Sasuke. "Shouldn't be too hard. Just think about whether you think of guys or girls or both when you jerk off and that should get you started."
"Kakashi-sensei!" Sakura sounded affronted, and Kakashi very narrowly avoided the fist that flew through the area he had previously been occupying. Naruto seemed to be torn between laughing, being sick, and bemoaning the fact that all his teachers were perverts.
Sasuke grew increasingly uncomfortable as things calmed down, and everyone turned to look at him. Sakura finally broke the silence. "Well?"
"Don't what?" Naruto asked, trying to figure out what he was saying.
"Don't do… that. What Kakashi said."
"You don't… masturbate?" Sakura blinked. "Wait, Sasuke, are you ace?"
"Ace?" Sasuke stared at her. What did cards have to do with anything?
"Ace. Asexual. Not experiencing sexual attraction to anyone. And as a result, probably not experiencing any of the side effects of sexual attraction." Sakura blinked. "You just… you don't ever get hard? Not even morning wood?"
Sasuke probably would have blushed had he been prone to doing so. He shook his head.
"You've never experienced sexual attraction to anyone at all?"
"Huh. That's... unexpected." Sakura shrugged. "Whatever. Not my problem anymore."
"So you're just… never going to have sex? Not even just to check?" Naruto made a face. "That's… weird."
"It's not weird, Naruto." Sakura admonished him. "If Sasuke doesn't think about sex, then he doesn't think about sex."
"I'll do it when it comes time to have kids." Sasuke muttered, still uncomfortable. "But I just… don't really like the idea of it."
"Just my luck." Karin muttered, palming her face. "Are you aromantic too?"
Sasuke blinked and, since Karin was still covering her eyes, turned to look at Sakura in confusion.
"Aromantic. Romantic and sexual orientations aren't always the same. A person's sexual orientation can be one gender, but their romantic orientation can be both, or a person can be asexual while still wanting to find someone in a romantic sense, just not going any further than cuddles, hugging, kissing, etc." Sakura shrugged, "Basically, she's asking if you think you're also not attracted to anyone in a romantic sense."
Sasuke blinked. "I… no?"
"No, you're not attracted, or no, you're not aromantic?" Sakura attempted to clarify.
"No, I'm not… aromantic." Sasuke made a face. "I think."
"It can take some time to figure out." Sakura nodded, a surprisingly sympathetic look on her face. "Ino taught me a lot about this sort of thing so that I could understand the psychology of all the gender and sexuality stuff before I started working with gender reassignment surgeries and the like. Ace and aro are often the ones that take the longest to realize sometimes, because some people can't tell if they're actually ace or if puberty is just taking a long time to kick in."
Sasuke blinked at her, then turned to Karin. "I'm… sorry?"
"Not your fault. It's usually a result of genetics and hormones; if you are that way, it wasn't a choice, and it's not something you can change, and it's not a problem." Karin muttered. She finally pulled her face away from her hands and turned to look at him. "So what now? I mean, it looks like you've finally found out the thing I've been trying to hint at for literally years, so what do you plan to do?"
Sasuke resisted the urge to wince. "I… don't know? I was planning on offering all of Taka places to stay in what's left of the Uchiha compound if going nukenin didn't make me lose my inherited properties and liquid assets anyways, so…" He frowned. "I don't know if I still have the clan assets, though. I wanted to check before offering."
"You still own everything; it's just access that might be a problem. And some of it might be demanded as compensation or fines for some of the stunts you pulled." Kakashi said, flipping a page in his book, which had made a reappearance…at some point.
"Doesn't say much about what you're planning to do about my so-called confession, dumbass." Karin told him, leaning back and crossing her arms.
"…Think about it?" Sasuke hedged, the statement coming out as more of a confession, because really, it was Karin. He cared about her, yeah, but… well, actually, she seemed annoyed by his lack of… that, but it didn't look like she was holding it against him. "Wait, so… you don't mind the not-sex thing?"
"I'm a sixteen-year-old girl." Karin deadpanned. "It would be pretty damn surprising if I couldn't take care of that for myself by now. Is it a bit annoying? Yes. Can I handle it? Yes. I'm not going to ditch you just because you can't get it up, moron. I'm more concerned with, you know, whether or not you actually like me back?"
"I…" Sasuke glanced around, slightly panicked, because, again, this was Karin. She'd been... tolerable. Decent. A comrade. This was a girl that he actually had been working with for several years now, even if it had only been closely for the past few months, and that he thought he'd known fairly well, even if he wasn't privy to all her secrets, and apparently hadn't picked up on what everyone was saying was a lot of hints. He cared about her, yes, but… could he actually be a boyfriend to her? "…Yes?"
"So you wouldn't mind if I were to kiss you at random or hug you in public?" Karin asked, seeming somewhat calculating.
Sasuke thought about it a bit. Kissing didn't sound bad, really… "Yeah, I think that would be… okay."
"Great, so you won't mind this."
And then she pulled him over to her and kissed him.
Sasuke's eyes were wide, and even though he knew that they were supposed to be closed, he just… she was kissing him. There was someone kissing him and he didn't mind and this was something he wasn't prepared for.
The only person not cat-calling them right now was Juugo. Suigetsu and Naruto and Sakura and even Kakashi were all getting into it.
He'd rip them limb from limb later.
When Karin finally pulled away, he couldn't really do more than sit there and… "Okay. That was… um."
Karin raised an eyebrow and stood up, walking away. "It's getting late. See you tomorrow."
Suigetsu waited until she was out of earshot to talk. "Yeah, she's totally going to be freaking out about this in her tent now."
The rock that flew through his head proved that Karin was not, indeed, out of earshot. So did the distant, angry shout of "SHUT UP, DUMBASS!"
Sasuke still hadn't moved.
"You liked that, didn't you?"
"Shut up, Kakashi."