Chapter Nex: Anko Eats Dango
"Go ahead, braveheart."
"After you, ravenbutt."
"No, you're the one who had all the mouth earlier, go on."
"Screw that, you think I'm an idiot?"
"Your entire being is literally based around idiocy—"
"—so this right here should be right up your alley."
"Just do it."
"No! You do it!"
"I have pride."
"You have cowardice, that's what you've got."
When Sasuke shrugged, Naruto could just about punch the Uchiha for his surprising lack of care. The two of them had been standing just outside Konoha's premiere dango shop for the better half of an hour, partly arguing, partly shifting about in wait for the other to make the first move.
"Cowardice is bringing up a plan and then catching cold feet at the starting line," Sasuke said icily, hands buried deep within his pockets.
Naruto adjusted his hitai-ate with a determined snort, glaring his cellmate from head to toe. "Hey, hey, back up—I only made mention of it—you're the one who said "Hey, let's go over there right now and see!' like you had some sort of plan."
"That's nowhere near what I said, you gigantic ass," Sasuke snapped. "What I actually said was we should think of something before just heading over there, which is exactly what you did, and I followed. Because I caught a case of your dumbass-itis."
"All I'm hearin' is "Naruto, I'm a coward who can't find his balls, please help me.""
"I can most definitely help my foot find your ass."
They were in there…the person Naruto and Sasuke had come to see, to hopefully talk to. Finding out where she liked to lounge about during her down time was ridiculously easy thanks to some close observation to what she always seemed to be eating or snacking on whenever they saw her.
"She's in there," Naruto said idly, nodding at the entrance. "Just inside, less than twenty feet away."
"You say twenty, but I swear it feels like half the world away," Sasuke muttered.
"Yeah, right? How does that even work?"
"It's called nerves, dead-last. It can skewer your views no matter how clearly you see things."
Silence reigned between the two awkwardly shuffling genin with nothing but the playful winds and staggeringly loud conversations from the throngs of people around them to concentrate on. Really, anything was better than actually thinking about what they had come here to do.
"Wait…we can go in there, right? Like, it's minor-friendly, isn't it?" Naruto wondered.
There was something pitying about the way Sasuke turned to stare at his cellmate. "Did you seriously just ask that? It's a dango shop, of course it is. It's everyone friendly."
Squaring his shoulders, Naruto nodded and started forward, making a motion at Sasuke who stood stiff, no doubt shocked by Naruto's sudden advance. "C'mon, we're doing this."
And he led the way inside. The interior of the shop was larger than they were expecting given the modest outside appearance, but there were booths lining the walls and a number of occupied stools at the bar. The most delicious, mouth-watering fragrance floated through the air, perking nostrils and igniting stomachs, and the entire place was lit with a hazy orange light from several lanterns hanging from the ceiling. Boundless chatter and conversation ruled every other noise from the throngs within, from the happy, well-fed occupants lifting their glasses and toasting to whatever occasion had brought them here today.
Yet none of it—not the warmth, the smell of food, the strange sensation of being amongst family—none of it compared to the way both Naruto and Sasuke's stomachs clenched when they spotted that familiar tan coat and spiked purple hair in a pixie cut. She was sitting at the bar, unceremoniously tearing into a bowl of fresh dango, her fourth bowl given the three empty ones around her, and oddly, or perhaps wisely, the stools to her immediate left and right were vacant.
That made sense. Everyone in Konoha was privy to the madness that basically coated the chakra belonging to Anko Mitarashi. Everyone knew her jaded background, everyone knew the sordid details of her story…and everyone knew she was not to be trifled with.
So the vacant stools made sense to the smart ones.
Unfortunately, as Naruto and Sasuke took up residence on either side of the infamous kunoichi, smarts wasn't something that they dabbled in.
From left to right Anko turned, glancing from the blonde then to the Uchiha, her cheeks bulging with dango, before she faced forward again, focusing intently on her food and polishing off the entire bowl in a matter of seconds. It wasn't until after she had set down her chopsticks and thumped the countertop twice to signal for more that she finally acknowledged their presence.
"Hmhm…the both of you at the same time, eh?" There was something sinister about the way she smirked. "Alright, this'll be a new one for me, I'll admit that, but hey, Im open-minded. So who's got the front and who's got the back?"
Looking past the manic kunoichi, Naruto shared the briefest of confused glances with Sasuke, receiving only a shrug. "Er—what? What do you mean who's—"
"Ah, so that's not what this is about?" Anko interrupted and she "tsk"ed with some faux disappointment, bringing her hands together in prayer when the wizened yet burly old man behind the bar slid another bowl of dango sticks in front of her. "Itadakimasu….Then do tell, what's the village pariah and the king of angst want with little ole me?"
Puffing out his chest, Naruto thumped his fist on the counter just like Anko had done, and when the bartender approached, he fixed the older man with a very determined, very awkward leer. It didn't last long when the bartender merely glared the genin down, his snow-white mustache twitching over a frown of steel. Naruto seemed to deflate where he sat. "Um…c-can I, uh...what she's eating, I—me too, that bowl there…p-please?"
"I…" Sasuke's hand was in the air, but only partway, clearly not wanting to draw unwanted attention to himself. "I would also like a bowl. Sir."
The bartender ignored Sasuke like he was nothing more than wallpaper to continue glaring Naruto down, even going so far as to lean forward which caused Naruto to rear back and slip off his stool.
Following his heavy collision with the floor came a loud, "OW!"
Glancing off to the side, Anko did nothing but snort, turning to the bartender with a familial grin. "Good show, Kenichi. Go ahead and get these two a bowl, put it on my tab."
With a snort and the barest hint of a nod, Kenichi moved away to fill Anko's order. It took a few moments for Naruto to reclaim his seat, muttering a string of curses as he righted himself, his whiskered cheeks aflame with embarrassment.
"Thanks," he grumbled, pouting.
Anko merely nodded in response, focused far more on coaxing a succulent ball of dango from the skewer using only her tongue. She lapped at the side, swirling it all over the surface and drawing it closer and closer to the tip of the stick. Her movements were agonizingly slow, and her tongue was so pink and slick and dextrous, that neither Naruto nor Sasuke realized they were staring so intensely until the ball disappeared into Anko's mouth and she "Mmmm"d to herself, a hand to her cheek.
"Simply orgasmic," she cooed with a body-quaking shudder. "I swear there's no better place in all the villages that can whip up some prime dango like Kenichi. It's a family recipe, ya know, passed down through the generations and crafted to utter perfection. Half my salary goes right to this place every time I get paid and—"
Naruto had faded before Anko got the third word out, and judging by the way Sasuke's eyes had glazed over, he was right there beside Naruto in Dazeville. The way this kunoichi ate, the way her every action seemed to flow with a sensual flare…it was distracting, the way her tongue worked, the way her lips glistened after being licked clean of the dango's zest….
Something wet, warm, and sticky met Naruto's cheek and he froze like a deer in the headlight, his mind stuttering to a halt. In all his ostracized life, Naruto had never been kissed, he had never known the warmth of another in any capacity—he had never even been on the opposite end of a fond stare, so right now…the sensation of having Anko's lips against his cheek, against his skin, was causing his heartbeat to spike. They were so soft, and this close she smelled so sweet, so much so that the scent of her was all he could take in—and he did, inhaling with force—
Again, Naruto jumped, and Anko pulled away with a rolling laugh. There was a bowl with four skewers of dango in front of him, the house special. A bowl sat before Sasuke, too, but he was too preoccupied in gawking at Naruto, jaw clenched and eyes wide.
"Enjoy 'em," Kenichi grunted, then moved off down the bar to quiet a drunken pair of Chunin who had just broken out into a rousing, and off-key, chorus of "99 bottles of beer".
"I'm sorry, I'm sorry," Anko was struggling to get out between giggling fits, "it's just—you were so hooked on watching me eat, I couldn't help myself!"
Naruto had a hand over the spot where Anko's lips had graced his skin, face hued a brilliant crimson. Thankful for a distraction, anything to keep his eyes from wandering back to her lips, he turned to his dango, picking up a skewer and hungrily snatching off two balls at once.
This only caused Anko's expression to grow more feline, complete with half-lidded eyes. "Oho…lemme guess." She leaned over until their shoulders touched, smirking when he twitched. "That was your first kiss, wasn't it, kid?"
The choking fit that suddenly overcame Naruto would have likely claimed his life if Anko hadn't thudded him over the back.
"Yeah, that was your first," she surmised easily, and she turned so swiftly to focus on Sasuke that all the little Uchiha could do was pause mid-bite into a dango ball when he was struck with the full-force of her venomous gaze. "What about you, King Gloom? Surely you must get your fair share of admirers, yes? What with such an attractive attitude and no doubt healthy outlook on life."
Naruto scoffed. "HA!"
"I…" Swallowing all in his mouth, Sasuke gave a noncommittal shrug. "There are a few…."
"You gotta understand, Anko-san," Naruto said between chewing, "when Sasuke says 'a few' what he really means is 'throngs', or 'heaps', or 'big ass boatloads'—"
"Thank you, Naruto," Sasuke hissed through clenched teeth. "Like I said, Anko-sama…just a few. I've certainly never kissed any of them."
There was something like contemplation framed on Anko's face, heavy consideration for something she didn't openly say, that was slowly replaced by a snort and a grin. She reached for her little saucer of sake, throwing her head back and downing it in a single gulp. "Woooo, that's the good stuff, damn! …And as for you, Mr. Angst—"
She brought two fingers to her mouth, kissed them, then pressed them to Sasuke's lips, all in a blink, too fast to catch but slow enough that Sasuke was able to glean the barest of aftertastes from her sake.
"Dude," said a stupefied Naruto, so close yet sounding three villages away to Sasuke who would swear his everything had disconnected.
"A reward," is how Anko, now smiling broadly, chose to sum that up, "a reward for that flattering honorific. I'd have preferred Anko-dono but I get it, it rhymes and rhyming sucks, so! There's your first pseudo-kiss from a proper lady."
Her words had adopted a certain flighty inflection, hardly there but most definitely on the edge of her words. No doubt the sake was starting to do its job.
Moving his lips experimentally, as if trying to verify that they were indeed his, Sasuke was left speechless.
"So tell me," continued Anko dreamily, expertly twirling a dango skewer betwixt her fingers, "if you two kunai sandbags aren't here to get me thrown in jail for two counts of drunken statutory, please…enlighten me…what are you here for?"
It seemed everything Anko did, Naruto was bound and determined to imitate to show he was on her level, worth her respect, and so when he wound up stabbing himself in the hand with his own skewer after failing to twirl it correctly, Anko went near ballistic with laughter, arms around her sides and legs kicking.
"Oh my God, oh my God—stop!—STOP!—you're gonna make me piss myself ahahahaha!"
Sasuke had quickly moved to the groaning blonde's side and snatched the stick out, immediately smacking him over the back of his head afterwards. "You idiot! Knock it off already!"
"Oh, right—like I meant to stab myself, you jerk!"
After waving off the napkin Kenichi had surprisingly offered, Naruto jammed his injured hand into his pocket, knowing his internal tenant would take care of it soon enough. He could already feel that healing warmth overtaking the wound and flashed Kenichi a quirky grin. "It's fine—really, I'm alright, thanks—UMPH!"
He nearly fell off his stool for a second time when Anko threw an arm over his and Sasuke's shoulders, bringing them in until they were all cheek to cheek.
"I knew the two of you were standing outside for the longest time," Anko revealed with a toothy smile, able to feel how both genin under her tightened up. She expelled a lofty giggle, purposefully shifting her weight from foot to foot so as to bump them with her hips. "How did she know, you must be wondering…right? Simple. The two of you have some very distinctive chakra, and I'm a very sensitive woman, I'll have you know…." She nuzzled her cheek against Naruto's. "You, whiskers, have one of the most bleakest chakra signatures I've ever felt, you just kinda ooze this festering miasma that I find most comforting."
A spasm of terror rolled down Naruto's spine, leaving him bereft of air, his eyes widening to reflect the horror those words had struck him with. Did…did she know? About the Nine-Tails? She couldn't have possibly gleaned that simply from—no…no, he was overacting, she was just…nothing but a coincidence…..
The nuzzling had switched and now Anko's cheek was making friction with Sasuke's. "Mmmmyeah…as dark as the day your entire world was flipped on its head," she sighed, and Sasuke became very still, so still that the sound of his beating heart was nearly audible. "It's pitch black, almost like tar, but smoothed—you've got it controlled but your blatantly sanguinary desires are permeating it like a poisonous exhaust. Absolutely heartwarming to me."
While a sort of euphoric shiver shook Anko from head to toe, Sasuke quickly found Naruto's eye; the blonde looked rather sickly and pale and Sasuke knew he could not have looked much better given that impromptu chakra analysis—but the two of them nodded regardless.
If there existed any doubt before this moment, it had been swiftly snuffed out and now they were absolutely certain.
"A-Anko-san," Naruto stuttered.
"Anko-sama," Sasuke called.
When Anko merely smiled to let them know she had heard and was indeed listening, Naruto and Sasuke swallowed, gathering their nerve.
"We want you to train us," they said in unison.
The smile that began to distort Anko's face was ostentatiously clown-like, and she slowly began to lift her head, the faintest thrums of laughter reverberating in her throat.
"I thought you'd never ask...Although, what about the third wheel to your fucked up tricycle, Sakura Haruno?"
The shrug that Sasuke offered was perhaps his single most coldest act to date, followed by words just as equally frigid, "I...don't care?"
"This was sort of a rush decision, to be honest," Naruto admitted in tones suggesting that, like Sasuke, he couldn't care less. "Didn't have much time to tell her but she'll probably jump on board once she finds out her precious Sasuke-kun is in."
Before Sasuke could retort, Anko playfully ruffled their hair. "Ooooo, a threesome, then! You two are just bringing me all sorts of surprises!"
"...I'm kidding, sheesh. Let's go."