[A Ninja's Parents] Epilogue + omake (crack!epilogue)
Disclaimer: I don't own anything.
Sakura sighed, before putting the book down on the table.
Anko had run away again. And if Sakura hadn't had to deal with this for well over a year now, she might've been upset about it.
Oh, technically, Anko wasn't calling it 'running away', but rather 'going on a mission'. But her girlfriend was a bigger collection of neuroses than Sasuke, so it wasn't as if Sakura had ever really expected anything else.
It'd still hurt when she'd realized that Anko had run away, that first time around. More guilt and worry than abandonment though, and now it felt more like exasperated resignation with a brief stab of annoyance at the likely cause.
Naruto had volunteered to put itching-powder on Kiba's underwear, and Sakura hadn't had the heart to turn down such a honest offer for assistance. Why, just for that, she'd made sure that Kiba was still wearing his underwear when she stripped him and hung him from the Hokage tower by his ankles.
Kurenai had been in charge of deciding when to let him down, seeing as how she was also somewhat annoyed at her student for poking Anko in one of her neuroses. They were, after all, old friends. And for all her bluster, Anko was kind of sensitive about some things.
Mostly, those things seemed centered around things that were kind of triggered by her relationship with Sakura, which was probably a hint as to why Anko kept running away. Abandonment issues, commitment issues, insecurities-... It didn't help that Anko never seemed to be able to assume anything other than the worst of either herself or her surroundings.
Some days, Sakura wondered which one of them was supposed to be the 'angsty teenager' in their relationship.
Sure, Anko had an amazing body and Sakura was quite happy to stare at it for hours as it stretched and flexed during her morning routine, but that didn't mean that Sakura only wanted her for that. She wanted to be with Anko because Anko was really soft to cuddle up to, because Anko looked at her like Sakura had recently descended from the heavens with a halo around her head, because Anko could make the dirtiest jokes with a completely straight face if she really wanted to, because Anko got into weird fights with her snake-summons about who got to cuddle with Sakura the most-...
Sakura loved her because Anko was the person she wanted to spend the rest of her life with. Sex or no sex. Sure, it might've been even better with sex, but winning the lottery is no less fantastic just because you have to pay some of it back in taxes. And Anko was very much one-in-a-million, as far as Sakura was concerned.
Of course, no matter how many times she told that to Anko, it was very hard to convince the woman's feelings of that, even if she could understand it logically. Which was why she kept having nervous breakdowns about these kinds of things, and instead of having those breakdowns by spending a few hours crying in the shower like a sensible person, Anko decided to use them as an excuse to run off on missions.
Sakura could admit that ambushing her girlfriend in the shower in order to try and explain why breakdowns in there were better-... well it hadn't been one of her better ideas. Mostly because she'd nearly died from blood-loss at actually seeing Anko naked.
That woman's body was a weapon of mass destruction.
But it was also a two-edged weapon, because – in no small part due to Anko so enjoying teasing people – the people around them kind of assumed that she was 'making use of it'. And she was, Sakura very much enjoyed resting her head in Anko's lap, or hugging her close, or cuddling close as they napped somewhere. It was just that apparently the 'usage' that Sakura was getting from her girlfriend's body wasn't enough in the eyes of some conceited individuals.
And one of these days, Sakura would figure out who the hell came up with the idea that all lovers needed to have sex, and she would travel back in time and murder them.
But even if she was perfectly understanding of why her girlfriend ran away, that didn't make it any less boring to wait for her.
Groaning at the knowledge that she'd run out of books again, Sakura flipped onto her back on the couch. She'd gone to all this effort of breaking into Anko's apartment – not even Anko had the key to Anko's apartment, because apparently keys were security-risks – and she didn't feel like leaving just yet.
She glanced over at the window and the sunset happening beyond it.
She'd been gone for three days now, which probably meant that she'd be arriving any moment-...
The slightest flicker of familiar chakra at the edges of Sakura's senses.
Smiling softly, she raised her hand in greeting as the window slipped open without a sound. "Okaeri, Anko."
Anko stilled, her eyes getting a little bit wet at the edges, visible even from this distance, before she answered in a soft and almost disbelievingly awed voice. "Tadaima, Sakura."
She didn't much care that her girlfriend was covered in dirt and long-dried blood, just motioned her over so that she could hug her properly.
She was home again now. She always came home with time, and Sakura wasn't going to let her ever come back to a home without her in it. She loved her far too much for that.
Temari still wasn't entirely sure how they'd managed to swing Gaara's nomination to Kazekage. Sure, he'd been the only one even remotely qualified for the position, power-wise, but it was kind of absurd the way that he'd managed to be chosen for it.
Ignoring the fact that her brother had changed beyond their wildest imaginations after meeting Ino, the nomination had mostly come down to petty politics and the simple understanding that with Konoha and Suna allied, their alliance would be a prime target with both of the Villages leaderless.
Konoha had lost their Sandaime, Suna had lost their Yondaime. Konoha elected Akimichi Chouza for Hokage, and Suna elected Gaara for Kazekage. Combined, the two Villages probably made the impression of a reasonable and fairly unimpressive man, with a maddened attack-dog at his beck and call. For the other Villages, that had been enough of a deterrent to not begin trying to press their borders.
That didn't stop in-Village politics from making a nuisance of itself, but Gaara was far too intimidating to challenge directly, and by the time people started to not flinch whenever he glanced their way they'd already gotten used to following his orders. As for Chouza, he'd apparently dodged around some of the wariness from the other clans about favoritism of old alliances by setting up a betrothal between his only son and the Hyuuga clan.
Temari would've probably been a little bit more disturbed by that, if she hadn't heard Ino gush on about how adorable Hinata and Chouji looked. It was possible that they were merely putting on a show, but to be able to deceive a Yamanaka who knew them personally? No, Ino might come off as more than a bit weird sometimes, but she was nearly impossible to lie to.
Temari was pretty sure Kankuro had managed it, once. Something about where he got his war-paint, and him not admitting that it was in the same store that sold make-up for kunoichi. So... probably a lie by omission, and which it was entirely possible that Ino had simply pretended not to realize in order to let her boyfriend's older brother keep a little bit of his dignity intact.
That girl could be scarily perceptive, and if she said that Hinata and Chouji were hesitant and adorable and completely head-over-heels, then Temari was just going to shrug and agree with her. From what she'd seen on her own visits to Konoha, the two of them certainly seemed to get along well, at least.
However, there were other problems on the political side of things, and half of those came down to there being a lot of rebellious grumbling from Ino's father about her dating the Kazekage. Different Villages meant divided loyalties, and it was rather blatantly obvious that it would be Ino moving to Suna, rather than Gaara moving to Konoha, which meant that Ino wouldn't be able to be the Yamanaka heir anymore.
Not that it seemed she cared overly much for the title, and from the way that Ino had started to feel nauseous in the mornings-...
Well, Ino's father would definitely be insisting on that marriage someday soon, and Temari wasn't sure if she was hilariously anticipating it, or wincing at the mere thought of the headache that it would undoubtedly become.
Yamanaka Inoichi was the kind of man who'd definitely cause a fuss about realizing that his daughter had already 'sealed the deal' before actually getting married.
Temari smiled as she sorted through some more paperwork. She was going to be an aunt in a few months.
She could hardly wait.
Hayate wasn't sure if he should feel outclassed by his student or not. On the one hand, there was the fact that Sasuke had actually asked his girlfriend to marry him – and bought a house for them and their future family, but that was mostly Sasuke being weird – whereas Hayate hadn't really gotten around to even thinking about marriage despite moving in with Yugao a long time ago-... It should leave him feeling inadequate, right? But on the other hand, it was more that Sasuke was a prude than that the young man was a romantic.
Apparently, having been raised as heir to a clan, the idea of 'dallying outside of marriage', regardless of the circumstances of not marrying, was something to frown upon. Which translated into Sasuke asking Isaribi to marry him after basically being together for like a month. Isaribi seemed quite happy with the arrangement, but Hayate knew very well that if he'd asked Yugao that question at that time in their relationship then she would've figured out a way to trip him down a sewer-drain for being annoying.
Different relationships were different. But still-... he couldn't help but get the feeling that he should be worried about losing to Sasuke.
Sure, Naruto's relationship was eerily reminiscent of Hayate's as far as romance went, so it wasn't as if he wasn't aware that it was mostly Sasuke being strange. But it still made him wonder whether or not he ought to be getting around to buying a ring one of these days.
He wanted to spend the rest of his life with Yugao, and she returned his feelings, but he wasn't going to assume that marriage would be on the table until Yugao started to actually drop hints about it. Which she hadn't been doing – Hayate had even gotten help to properly translate Yugao-speak from some of her friends, and she seemed perfectly content with their relationship as it was.
As for his students and their love-lives-... Well, he'd already long since sworn off wondering about what Anko and Sakura were up to, but he'd still been exposed to them enough times to know that they were happy together. Sakura's parents didn't seem to mind it terribly, though they'd apparently had some long words with Anko about their age-difference.
Hayate distinctly remembered Naruto mentioning that there'd been some pointed comments from Sakura about how old her parents had been when they'd had her older sister, before her parents had thrown their hands up in surrender. So Hayate was feeling vaguely proud of his student's ability to resort to blackmail in order to get what she wanted from life.
Beyond that, Hayate also knew that Sakura usually stayed at Anko's apartment, and Isaribi had officially moved in with Sasuke in his house – the one that he'd bought the moment she'd said 'yes' to marrying him, because apparently children should be raised in a house rather than in an apartment, and Sasuke's thought-process was kind of strange. Naruto usually still stayed at the Haruno house, though. Partially because Tenten's teammates weren't the type to approve of 'scandalous' behavior such as them moving in together, but mostly because Tenten didn't seem to mind crashing at the Haruno house when she wanted to spend time with him.
Hayate knew for a fact that Naruto still had an apartment of his own, even if he only visited it a few times a month. But he wasn't entirely sure why the boy insisted on keeping it around, considering that he wasn't even using that place to stash dirty magazines or something – Inuzuka Kiba had done some gleefully enthusiastic investigating on the subject.
So Naruto and Tenten reminded Hayate a lot of himself and Yugao, whereas Sasuke and Isaribi reminded him a lot more about some awkwardly stiff betrothal that kept devolving into acting like newlyweds whenever they thought that nobody was looking, Sakura and Anko though-... Hayate wasn't entirely sure of the intricacies of that mess.
Anko had issues, and Sakura didn't mind them. That was about the extent of thought that Hayate had allowed himself to have about his oldest student and her much older lover.
He also knew that Ibiki had given Sakura a talk about 'keeping Anko happy', because apparently Hayate's old teammate thought of the crazy woman that his student was dating as something like a little sister.
All in all, their relationship seemed a lot more unstable than anything Hayate had experience with, but he had no doubt that they made each other happy, so he sure as hell wasn't going to think too much about it.
Hayate sighed, resigning himself to keeping an ear to the ground to see if Yugao's attitude towards marriage saw any change in the future, knowing that if it did, he'd have to consider her ring-size. He loved her, and it wasn't like he was planning on stopping any time soon.
The first time Tenten realized that Naruto and his teammates had a tendency to sleep in a pile whilst wearing only their underwear, she'd been kind of startled.
She hadn't really been alone in that though, because it'd only really come up during a dinner between Sakura's parents and everyone else. Or rather, Isaribi, Anko, herself, Sasuke, Sakura, and Naruto. The three teammates and their three girlfriends – to be honest she'd been more than a bit intimidated to realize that Sakura's date for the evening was Mitarashi Anko, because she couldn't really compete with that kind of sex-on-legs even if she wanted to.
The reason it'd come up was that Team 7 had kind of collapsed on the couch, and when Isaribi wondered if it was normal for the three teammates to sleep like that, Sakura's parents had told them about their usual sleeping-arrangements.
Isaribi had been confused, but had kind of shrugged and written it off as weird-ninja-culture-thing. Tenten herself had been thinking about all the jokes she'd be able to crack about Naruto sleeping around with other men, and how hilarious it'd be to see her own teammates' reactions to that. And Anko had looked kind of hesitantly insecure.
It wasn't until nearly a year later that Tenten finally figured out that Anko was both asexual, very insecure about it, and hopelessly in love with Sakura, despite her own commitment-issues. From there, Tenten was willing to guess that Anko had been worried that Sakura would find her inadequate in comparison to the platonic cuddle-time she could have with her teammates.
Not to mention jealous of the fact that Sakura had people whom she was that close to. Anko had Ibiki and Kurenai, and no matter how much they apparently loved the woman like an annoying little sister, they weren't always on the best of terms with her.
Beyond that, neither Tenten, Isaribi, or Anko, were ever invited to sleep in the puppy-pile of Team 7. Mainly, because Naruto couldn't handle the sight of people in their underwear without screeching and running for the hills – he was easily embarrassed, and Tenten was more than willing to tie him up before undressing herself, it was kind of cute how he struggled to not look. But Sasuke was also the kind of guy to spit acid at people for looking at his fiancee, and that included his somewhat acid-resistant teammates. Sakura just always preferred cuddling up with Anko on her lonesome to sleeping with the boys.
Something about Sasuke being an asshole, and Naruto drooling on her. Either way, it meant that though the puppy-pile still made an appearance even after Sasuke went completely crazy and bought a house. Usually though, Sasuke spent the nights at the house he shared with Isaribi instead of at the Haruno house.
If Tenten were to guess, she'd label the feelings Sakura's parents had on the subject to be something like the bittersweet realization of their kids moving out. What with Sasuke having his own house and Sakura sleeping over at Anko's apartment more often than not. Even if Naruto still treated the place as his actual home instead of the mostly-empty apartment that he used in order to store his collection of ramen-cups.
It was a very impressive collection, and Tenten understood perfectly well why he needed an entire apartment dedicated to it.
Tobi stared out over Konoha from his position on his old jounin-sensei's head.
The Moon Eye plan was temporarily on ice, and along with it so were the plans to capture the jinchuuriki. Pein wasn't thrilled about Tobi's decision on the matter, but he obeyed. As he should.
There'd been a new development, and Tobi really needed to investigate it fully before he could move on with the plan.
The Moon Eye plan was a violent kind of plan. Not unnecessarily so, considering that the violence would finally be able to bring peace to the world, but violent nonetheless. People would resist it, and there'd in all likelihood be a war to see it through.
Haruno Kazuto explained it as the psychology of change. Something about how a better tomorrow that was out of their control was always going to be resisted by humanity who wished to see a better tomorrow come into existence slowly. Not because they didn't want that change to happen, but simply based on the idea that they wanted change to come slow enough to the world that they'd be able to change with it. So that they wouldn't be entirely excluded from that better tomorrow that they so dreamed of.
Tobi was pretty sure the man was a hopelessly idealistic optimist, but he was interesting to talk to. Always willing to debate the details and philosophy of a peaceful world and how to get there.
Tobi supposed that Kazuto's trust in the 'future through their children' was largely based on how he himself was a father. But the man had already lost one daughter to the cruelties of the world, and he still seemed capable of believing that the future was slowly but surely growing brighter with every passing day.
Perhaps it was that steady kindness which reminded him so much of Rin, perhaps it was his logical arguments, perhaps it was the random bits of trivia he'd sometimes blurt out in the middle of their discussions-... Tobi felt his face heat up as he remembered Kazuto's gently smiling face, before shaking his head.
Regardless of the reason, Tobi couldn't quite help but to listen. To listen to him speaking about peace coming slowly, carefully taking one step at a time towards a better future. Small sparks of kindness slowly growing into an unstoppable firestorm that could change the world all on its own.
No matter how much time and effort he'd already put into the Moon Eye plan, no matter how many horrible things he'd already committed himself to for the sake of a peaceful world, Tobi couldn't help but think that the world Kazuto dreamed of with such a kindhearted smile would be a beautiful world to see for himself.
So... just for now, he'd wait a little bit longer.
A/n: The End.
That's right folks, the whole Big Bad's plans are completely derailed, because Tobi is tsundere for Kazuto, and they have long debates over these kinds of things whilst Kazuto is out shopping for groceries and stuff.
Also, as for Yui and Kazuto and Asuna? As far as everyone knows, they're her biological parents (she looks similar enough, and they've never claimed otherwise), which would mean that from all appearances, Asuna gave birth to Yui when she was like ten years old, with Kazuto being eight. As in, they're ridiculously young parents, and probably don't have a lot of ground to stand on about at what age people are allowed to claim adulthood (and telling Sakura, after all this time, that Yui was adopted in order to stop her relationship with Anko would only be shooting themselves in the foot).
This is a very different epilogue than the one I'd originally written. Mainly because the unintentional genre-shift from the second chapter took the original epilogue into the cracky territory of "Sakura the oblivious harem lead", which was hilarious but kind of not at all suitable for the story.
This crack!epilogue is made available to you by the omakes below. Enjoy, and thank you all for your reviews.
WARNING: Crack ahead
Whilst Hayate generally stayed away from Naruto's practices with Tenten, that didn't mean he could entirely ignore them. Especially when he needed to fetch Naruto for something.
Still, at least the two genin were usually pretty easy to find. All he had to do was follow the sounds of clashing steel, and the high-pitched shrieks of terror. There was sometimes also mad cackling, but only if Tenten was either in a very good mood, or very annoyed.
To be honest, the sheer sadistic glee that Tenten sometimes displayed was nearly as big a contributor to Hayate staying the hell away from her practices with Naruto, as the knowledge that Gai had taken to hiding in the bushes in order to supervise them.
Tenten's attitude actually reminded him eerily of Yugao sometimes, except with less attraction from his side and a lot more creepiness. Though if that meant that Naruto had somehow inherited his taste in women was anyone's guess. He certainly seemed to think that a girl trying to stab him in the face was a girl worth staring at whenever she bent over to pick up her weapons.
Not that Hayate was ever going to bring that up in conversation, because he really didn't need to know these things.
"I'm just going to nick his vital organs a little!" Tenten roared.
"What about my non-vital organs?" Naruto's voice drifted hesitantly to Hayate's ears.
"They'd have it coming!" Tenten answered.
Peeking around a tree, Hayate saw that Gai was keeping Tenten restrained as she desperately tried to wriggle out of his grip and attack Naruto.
Considering that Naruto wasn't running, and was instead looking utterly confused, Hayate decided that perhaps he could-...
"Ah, Hayate-san!" Gai boomed his way.
Hayate hung his head, surrendering to the inevitable of involving himself in a fight between two hormonal teenagers. "Yo." He put on a polite smile. "I kind of needed to fetch Naruto-kun, but is something the matter?"
Hayate had long since learned to be unfailingly polite with Gai. The man didn't need any reminders of Kakashi's death by him trying to brush him off, and besides that Hayate didn't really want to risk Gai putting any focus on him beyond 'polite sensei to my own student's sparring-partner'. Anything beyond that could be dangerous, because then he might actually have to spend time with him, and that'd be awful on multiple levels.
"My name isn't 'Bun-chan'!" Tenten yelled, nearly spitting the nickname at Naruto, and thus helpfully explaining the current problem.
Naruto visibly flinched backwards, but apparently that didn't stop him from making it worse. "How about 'Bun-sensei'?"
Hayate sighed as Tenten's struggles increased with a new and even more murderous roar.
It was nice to see that his student had seemingly recovered from losing both a teacher and the closest thing he had to a grandfather. But that didn't make it any less pleasant for Hayate to realize that today was going to be one of those days.
"Naruto!" Kiba skidded to a stop next to them. "Since when is Sasuke nice to anyone?!"
Naruto glanced over at the other boy, looking utterly confused. "Huh?"
Sakura frowned, a little bit worried. "Are you okay, Kiba-kun? Do you have a fever or something?" She reached over and placed her hand on his forehead, then leaned her own forehead on the other side of her hand to check his temperature properly.
Kiba shrieked a little, flailed his arms, turned red, and hurriedly took a few steps back. "W-What the hell are you doing?!"
Sakura tilted her head, a little bit confused at the extreme reaction. "Checking your temperature."
It was the same kind of thing she'd do with Ino or Naruto or Sasuke. Except part of the temperature-test in regards to Sasuke was whether or not he'd succeed in punching her for invading his personal space-... Ah. Right. She wasn't really close enough to Kiba for that kind of behavior. Oops.
"Ah, sorry. I didn't think." Sakura admitted sheepishly.
"Whatever! What's this about Sasuke being nice?!" Naruto demanded.
Kiba startled away from staring at her, and turned back to Naruto. "Right. Yeah! I saw him at the hospital talking to some girl with bandages! And he didn't even threaten to hurt her for walking around injured or anything!"
"Oh." Naruto deflated. "That's just Isaribi-chan. She doesn't count."
Sakura made a face. "Don't say it like that, Naruto. It sounds bad."
"But she doesn't!" Naruto whined. "He's always nice to her, so she doesn't count!"
Kiba made a really weird expression. "Wait, Sasuke has a crush?"
Sakura opened her mouth, closed it again, shared a glance with Naruto, and then they both shrugged in unison.
Sasuke was fucking weird.
"You're pregnant." Sasuke said bluntly.
"Wha-?" Ino stared at him with wide eyes.
Sasuke glanced back at her. "It's a thing that happens when people go at it like rabbits." He explained sarcastically.
Ino's face turned completely red. "We're not-!"
"Clearly, you are." Sasuke rejected her argument, waving the results in her general direction. "Which is a political nightmare, I'm sure." He added in a voice that clearly meant that there would be no sympathy to be found with him.
Ino made a small whimpering noise. "Umm... can you keep a secret?"
Sasuke snorted a laugh. "There's a thing called patient-confidentiality, yes. But if your father charges in here to ask 'how', I'm going to tell him that you've been having wild exhibitionistic beach-sex without the water-front."
Ino opened her mouth, then closed it again, before making an annoyed noise. "You're a horrible person."
"It's one of my many virtues." Sasuke agreed absently.
Frowning at him, Ino finally snorted a laugh. "You're just lucky Isaribi-chan is too nice for her own good, or she would've dumped your ass ages ago."
"So you keep saying." Sasuke hummed, not paying attention.
Shaking her head at the annoying medic-nin, Ino turned her attention back to the important subject, mainly that he wouldn't tell her dad that she was pregnant. Which was mostly important because they were allies with Suna and it'd be a terrible shame for her father to cause an international incident by attempting to assassinate the Kazekage in public. "So I'm not going to have to blackmail you into keeping this quiet?"
Sasuke frowned. "You have blackmail on me?"
Ino grinned, somewhat sickly as she kept her hand on her stomach. "Isaribi-chan isn't a very good liar."
Sasuke glared back at her. "Neither is Chouji."
Ino made a face, realizing that he could probably match any blackmail she had on him tenfold. Chouji was such a goddamn gossip. "Fine fine."
And with another sigh, the heir to the Yamanaka clan and the future mother of the Kazekage's children made her way out through Sasuke's door.
Political nightmare indeed.
Sakura smiled at Lee. It was kind of hilarious the way he'd flirt with almost anyone. Though probably nowhere near as entertaining as the fact that Kiba and him would almost always end up trying to out-flirt each other.
Glancing over to where Hinata and Chouji were talking softly under the tree, Sakura wondered again how in the world she'd ended up being the only girl of the Konoha 12 who was still single.
Ino spent most of her time either in Suna or on missions, Tenten spent most of her time picking fights with Naruto and then beating him like a drum until he was exhausted enough to drag off to some secret corner, and Hinata was engaged to the Akimichi heir.
It'd really come as a surprise to most of them to see those two engaged, but they appeared quite happy with each other, even if it was something that their parents had originally arranged in order to keep the political climate stable somehow. Though nobody had ever bothered to inform Sakura that their political climate had been unstable, so it was either a preventive measure or someone was covering something up. Probably a bit of both, but it was hard to say in a ninja Village.
Regardless, it felt a bit weird that she was the only one of her classmates who were single. Sure, a large portion of the reason why Kiba and Lee were flirting with her was purely because she wasn't spoken for – or willing to shove a yard of razor-wire down their throats for being annoying – but she didn't think that she was unattractive. So it was still a bit weird to having basically been single forever.
It wasn't even that she was a powerful kunoichi, because she'd seen Naruto following around Tenten like a pathetically love-struck puppy. Even when she bombarded him with sharp weapons of all kinds and cackled about it. Though admittedly, there was the distinct possibility that much of that stemmed from Naruto having some kind of masochistic tendencies, but Sakura didn't like thinking about her teammates' sex-lives.
Beyond that, sure, maybe her closeness to Naruto and Sasuke could be intimidating, but they were more like brothers than anything else. Everyone could see that, considering how both of them were dating different girls. And how Sasuke had finally asked Isaribi to marry him, after nearly a year of everyone having to get used to dealing with their awkwardly romantic moments. Though he had moved disturbingly fast to marriage once they'd actually started dating.
Sakura wondered briefly if her being single might be because her brothers were overprotective little shits who were going behind her back to scare off potential suitors, before dismissing the thought with the realization that Sasuke would've been up-front about it, just for the sake of being an asshole.
Then again, she was technically surrounded by a lot of people who liked to flirt with anything that moved, so it might be due to that. Not that she could understand why anyone would find harmless stuff like that to be intimidating. It wasn't like any of them were being serious.
Lee liked cute girls, Kiba liked any girl who could swing their hips, Ayame liked people who actually paid for their ramen, and Anko liked anything that bled. As for the other two, well Kankuro was using her for practicing talking with 'the girl of his dreams' – whom Sakura wasn't sure if he'd met and been unable to talk to, or hadn't met but wanted to be absurdly prepared for – because he was a hopeless romantic. And Neji was mostly using her as a sounding-board for figuring out how to compliment girls without sounding like a total dick – it was a work in progress.
So it stood to reason that Sakura always ended up being flirted with, even if it wasn't anything serious.
Not that she terribly minded Ayame giving her extra helpings of ramen or the way the older woman had a tendency to drop things to the floor and then bend down to pick them up very slowly, or Lee and Kiba's hilarious squabbling, or the way that Anko would bounce on her heels whilst not wearing a bra, or having Kankuro write her flattering letters for practice, or even Neji's sometimes adorably awkward attempts to sound like a reasonable human being.
She still wasn't sure why everyone else kept calling her an 'oblivious heart-breaker', but it was probably some kind of inside-joke.
It was kind of amazing how far his three socially awkward students had come.
One was engaged to be married to the cute girl whom he'd once upon a time tackled to the ground because he'd thought she was injured. Another had ended up dating the girl he'd been crushing on ever since the first time she'd filled a training ground with weapons in under a minute. And the third was an utterly oblivious heart-breaker who still hadn't noticed that the 'flirts' around her were only flirting with her. With the obvious exception of Anko, who didn't flirt with other people any longer, because Sakura had smiled at her at some point and now she was stalking his oldest student like an overly affectionate puppy.
A scantly clad puppy. Which was a little bit weird considering the age-gap, but nobody really wanted to try commenting on Anko's sexual preferences any more than they wanted to spend extended amounts of time around Gai.
Hayate wasn't sure if it was hilarious or sad, watching the real-life harem lead smiling disarmingly at the people around her and having them melt into a giggly goo. Not that it helped that both of her idiot-brothers had a tendency towards the overprotective side of things, or that said harem-members were still fighting amongst themselves over who got to spend time with her.
But at least he wasn't Asuma-senpai, having to juggle the son of the Hokage and the girlfriend of the Kazekage and fatherhood, all at once. Poor bastard.
Instead, he just had to deal with him and Yugao being invited to the Haruno family's house every now and then. Which wasn't really a bad thing, considering how Asuna was an amazing chef, and there was usually some kind of entertainment involved. Mainly dealing with how the various people of Sakura's harem kept trying to get an invite to the occasion without letting anyone else take part – usually it resulted in a few of them being invited at once, which always caused some interesting fireworks. It was like watching a train-wreck.
Considering a few of the stories that Sakura's parents would tell him, she'd definitely inherited her charm from her father.
But still... on the subject of relationships, one of these days he really should figure out how to give Yugao that damnable ring that he'd been carrying around in his pocket for the last year-and-a-half.
If it weren't for the fact that Sasuke's proposal had been absurdly successful considering the effort put into it, then Hayate would've really considered asking for advice. It took a special kind of insanity to drag the girl to a jeweler-shop and ask her to pick a ring her size because he had shit to do and couldn't be bothered with it – hell, he hadn't even actually asked the question so much as Isaribi had figured it out on her own and agreed on the spot.
Hayate shook his head and sighed. Maybe he should just leave the ring somewhere for her to find and hope for the best? But that sounded an awful lot like something Neji would've tried, and that poor kid was still very much single, even if that could at least be partially blamed on Sakura's ridiculous level of obliviousness.
"I like you!"
Sakura blinked and glanced up from her reading to see Kankuro standing in front of her. His face was red, he was fidgeting, and he had such an earnest expression on his face that Sakura was a little bit startled by it.
"I know I'm not-..." He trailed off, frustrated. "I'm not really all that good looking, and I can be kind of an idiot, but I love you!"
Sakura felt her heart swell a little, and she smiled at him. "That was really good, Kankuro."
Kankuro opened his clenched eyes, staring at her with heartfelt relief.
"There was lots of passion in that. You're gonna charm the pants off of her for sure!" Sakura praised him honestly, still feeling a little bit moved at Kankuro trusting her enough to practice these kinds of things on her first.
Kankuro nearly burst into tears, he was so relieved, but then Lee and Neji appeared out of seemingly nowhere and started to drag him away.
"Sorry to interrupt, Sakura-chan, but Kankuro-san is late for his Youthful departure!" Lee smiled cheerfully at her as he waved, even if it looked a bit strained underneath the apparent hurry they were in. "But don't worry, we'll escort him to the gate with all due haste!"
A little bit stunned by the boys' rapid words and the fact that they were really already hurrying out of sight, dragging a flailing Kankuro after them in the dirt, Sakura waved after them in a bit of a daze.
Kankuro must've realized that writing letters was very different from talking to someone in person, and had probably been trying to figure out how to best phrase it all this time. No wonder he'd been stammering and walking into walls whenever she talked with him. But still, whoever Kankuro's dream girl was, she was really quite lucky to have someone so dedicated to making their 'first meeting' flawless.
Making a face to herself, Sakura admitted that she still thought it was a bit silly to wait for the confession until he was actually supposed to be leaving to go back to Suna, since it meant she didn't really have time to give him a lot of feedback on it, nor would he really have time to fix any problems she pointed out before trying again. But maybe he'd just been caught up in talking to everyone else too, since they were all really interested in talking with the Suna-nin about various things?
Sakura finally dismissed those thoughts with a shake of her head and returned to her book.
She'd never understand boys.
Sasuke sighed as the two idiots staggered in. "What is it this time?"
Neji lifted an unusually colored arm, face pale but his expression neutrally resigned. "Poison."
Rolling his eyes at them, Sasuke reached for his gear. "Can't you people go five minutes without trying to kill each other?"
Lee made a noise of protest, but it looked like his jaw had been broken, so it wasn't a very articulate one. Neji just bristled like always. "We were only making sure he got to the gate in time."
Sasuke knew exactly how much time Kankuro had had available. Namely, they were supposed to leave by evening, not by early morning. But he also knew that trying to argue the point would be completely useless.
The competition within Sakura's harem was fierce.
Still, Sasuke frowned as he ran a diagnostic on Neji's arm – Lee, and the world around him, could survive without being able to talk for a while longer. "Pretty sure a lot of people have had things to say about your enthusiasm. And it seems it's about time for another one, because I'm pretty sure this was meant to be lethal."
Both of the idiots attempt to make innocent faces, probably because they wanted Kankuro to take the fall for escalating to lethal force. Despite the blatant fact that everyone in Sakura's harem kind of did that whenever they felt like it, which was damn near all the time. No matter how many stern talks their surroundings had with them.
"We'd never use lethal force on Ayame." Neji tried to defend himself.
Sasuke raised an eyebrow at the Hyuuga. "Did you or did you not hog-tie her and throw her over the wall of Konoha?"
Lee fidgeted uncomfortably, having never been even a half-decent liar. Neji just looked a little bit more constipated than usual.
"She started it." Neji said mulishly.
"Yes yes, I've heard it before. She deliberately poisoned your food, served Sakura good alcohol – I mean, that stuff was seriously expensive, you know? – and then flashed my perverted teammate a whole lot." Sasuke tried to recall the series of events that had led to that particular trip to the hospital.
Naruto had taken great offense at having Ichiraku's attacked, though after everyone had calmed down a bit and Ayame been forced to confess to ruining good ramen-... Naruto had learned to deal with it. Grudgingly.
In hindsight, Sasuke shouldn't have made that statement directly after having healed Lee's jaw. It put him right next to the man's mouth.
"Sakura-chan isn't a pervert!" Lee exclaimed straight into Sasuke's ear, sounding horrified at the accusation.
Sasuke rubbed his ear and glared at him, but very deliberately didn't break his wind-pipe in retaliation – he'd never attack a patient that wasn't resisting treatment. "Please, that girl couldn't be kept from staring in a temple." Which had made that mission really awkward, because there'd been a lot of men without shirts, and she'd had issues focusing on their actual enemies.
He loved her dearly, but Sakura was very much a hopeless case of hormones. Which she thankfully didn't aim Isaribi's nor Tenten's way, because apparently they'd landed themselves deep enough into 'family'-territory that she could change in the same room as them without drooling.
It would've been annoying to have to smack the closest thing he had to a sister whenever his fiancee wore something revealing. If Isaribi wanted to wear something revealing, Sasuke wanted to be able to dedicate his full attention to watching her wear it. Or possibly plotting the closest route to the nearest place where he could help her with not wearing it.
Still, despite the hopelessness of Sakura's sex-drive, she'd somehow managed to also be absolutely clueless about people actually trying to get into her pants. So she just stared, longingly. And drooled.
Which made people assume that she was either a horrible deviant or an innocent princess, even though both assumptions were wrong. Sakura was simply a clueless pervert who was attracted to everything that moved.
One of these days, Sasuke was sure he'd catch her staring dazedly after a fruit rolling downhill, with wanton lust in her eyes.