a/n: Big thanks to everyone who reviewed! Every comment was wonderful and encouraging. Writing for a new fandom usually freaks me out, believe it or not. The manga I partly borrowed the plot from is Zettai Kareshi, by Yuu Watase. I love it, and I recommend everyone to read it when it comes out! Also, I'm very sorry about the long chapter wait.
Two. Love at First Sight
It was a Monday morning and the postman had the gall to be irrationally early with the mail. As a result, Sakura was lying on her back on her porch with the contents of her package glomping her.
"Fiancee!" Sakura cried out. Her outburst would have been a full-blown scream had her lungs not been obstructed by (what she assumed was) a 140 pound teenage boy. "Are you insane!"
The boy pulled away from her and stared into her mint eyes with bewilderment, his smile evaporating in favor of lips in a half parted stupor. "Aren't you Haruno Sakura?"
"You're prettier than I had hoped!" he chirped with a grin. Sakura could feel the blood leave her skin and as he closed in on her again, she scrambled out from underneath him. She was contemplating kicking that idiotic grin off his face when a human shaped shadow loomed in on them and with trepidation, she raised her eyes.
"Is this your boyfriend?"
Sakura was suddenly overcome with the feeling to run off screaming. It was only rational, especially after seeing her rival, Ino, smiling wickedly and making suggestive movements with her eyebrows.
"N-no!" Sakura stuttered, but Ino was already approaching the boy. Her feline-like eyes narrowed and she trailed them up and down his body before nodding, closing those eyes in satisfaction.
"I don't care whether you approve!" Sakura screamed, ready to pulverize the blonde. She was hindered, however, by the boy locking his eager little paws on her.
"Hear that? Now we can get married!"
"Are you insane?"
Perhaps it was all the yelling, or finding a guy in a box that claimed to be her husband, or even Ino's perfume, but Sakura could feel the blood rush out of her head and she swayed. Luckily, as she fainted, the boy caught her.
"Sakura-chan, I don't understand why I have to walk so far away from you!"
"Shut up," she ordered, wishing she suddenly hadn't woken up. Then, she wouldn't be forced to walk with this... this thing. She couldn't refer to him as anything else, especially after hearing the story from her mother. The sad truth was that the peppy, round-faced, bright-eyed, gregarious boy following her like a mutt was really her fiance.
When her father had died, Haruno Natsumi had feared that no one would want to marry a fatherless child. Therefore, she had applied for a 'Mail-in Fiance', aka Naruto. She wasn't exactly sure how the system worked, but it assigned her with the most compatible suitor when she turned seventeen. Then, all her mother had to do was give authorization, papers were signed, Naruto was mailed, and her life was thrown away.
What puzzled her was why Naruto was involved in such a despicable program. Didn't he have any dreams or hopes of his own? Didn't he even care who he would marry? What if she was some ugly hag?
Casting a glance over her shoulder, she could see him sulking and instantly felt her heart clench with sympathy.
Maybe I was being too hard on him, she thought and stopped. Naruto continued to walk until he noticed an obstruction in his way and lifted his eyes to meet with hers.
"I'm sorry about earlier," Sakura said, smiling. She held out her hand. "Let's be friends, okay?"
Instantly with the invite, Naruto grinned and nodded vigorously. "Of course, Sakura-chan!"
To her dismay, she could see tears of joy in his eyes and she turned to the side to grimace. This guy was weird. Then again, he came in a box. Maybe he had hit his head or something while the postman was bringing him over.
They continued to walk, both of them silent, until Sakura was harshly shoved forward. She would have fallen had Naruto's quick reflexes not caught her before she hit the pavement. While he helped her up, she cast a cold glare over her shoulder.
"Ino-pig!" she growled, clenching her fists. The blonde girl smirked, her teal eyes almost glowing eerily, and then stepped to the side where Sakura was given a clear view of Uchiha Sasuke walking up the hill and right towards them. As usual, he was in his indifferent godliness, ebony hair styled in utter perfection, dark eyes reminding her of midnight pools, his black t-shit snugly tight with its typical band logo on it. Oh god, and if he saw this... this fashion disaster tagging along with her, she would never be able to look at him again!
Eyes widening and heart's pace accelerating in panic, she grabbed Naruto by the left wrist and began to run away from the approaching attractive punk.
"S-Sakura-chaaaan," Naruto cried out, stumbling while she pulled him along.
"Just run!" she snapped, causing Naruto to start pouting. Once she was completely out of breath, she stopped and the pair fell onto the lawn on the building grounds. Panting, there was little energy left in her to even contemplate what she would do with Naruto and how she would prevent Sasuke from finding out about him. This was all her mother's fault for insisting that Naruto accompany her to work.
"Before he came to you, he had been a Jounin. It's not fair to him to be deprived of his job just because you're selfish, Sakura."
Yeah...who's the selfish one again?
"I doubt you'll be allowed to do missions," Sakura voiced her thoughts outloud, knowing that they had to be the truth. After all, Konoha was a tight-knit village -it wasn't like they would immediately accept some stranger into the community, nonetheless to participate in important missions.
Feeling suddenly guilty for smiling about the possibly ostracizing the boy, Sakura cast him a glance and noticed that his gaze seemed completely disconnected. Had he even listened to anything she had said? He almost seemed like a robot or something...
She blinked and abruptly stood up, Naruto following suit. He looked down at her with that blank look before smiling -dare she say it?- sweetly. "Is there something wrong, Sakura-chan?"
She shook her head, knowing that there was no decent way to find out whether he really was a robot. He had come in a package, seemed half-dead, and her mother seemed to be overjoyed having seen him. Was he one of those mail-order robots she had read about in science-fiction novels? And... and then he would have a malfunction and try to kill her, and human-kind!
"Sakura-chan, you look so afraid of me!" Naruto exclaimed, his expression becoming worried and features softening. "Have I done something wrong?"
"N-no!" she stuttered, forcing a smile, though a nervous one, onto her lips. "Uhm, let's just forget this and go see Tsunade-sensei."
Finding his enthusiasm unnerving, Sakura tried to reassure herself that hopefully, Tsunade would be able to find a productive solution to the entire mess. She had been trained under her guidance for the past five years and had grown closer to her than she was with her own mother. If there was anyone who would get her out of possible marriage to this Naruto, it would have be her.
"Sakura-san!" some Jounins greeted when they passed her; however, upon sighting Naruto, nearly all of them stopped and began to examine the new addition to their village. Sakura had hoped there would be some apprehension regarding Naruto, but instead, the Jounins were quite friendly -no, not quite... overly friendly.
"Ah, you must be Naruto-kun!" one of them exclaimed, holding out his hand. "We've heard so much about you! It's an honor knowing that you will be working for the Leaf, now."
And then, in an unrecognizable flash, Naruto was swarmed with questions, all which he answered fluently in his own colloquial way. They would never have been able to leave until noon had it not been for Sakura grabbing Naruto roughly by the collar and dragging him away. While she stalked to their destination, some of the Jounins began to laugh and one even shouted, "Good luck!".
It better have been for Naruto, she thought bitterly. Something was certainly amiss.
The pair climbed the winding wooden staircase and then journeyed to Tsunade's room, which appeared like a battlefield more than an office. Papers were strewn everywhere, piles of books were stacked like pillars and Tsunade was passed out on her desk, as usual.
"Tsunade-sama," Sakura gently chided, stepping up to the desk. "Tsunade-sama...!"
"Nngh...I'm not ready for school..."
"This is your Hokage?" Naruto looked skeptical. "It's kindof pathetic."
"This is your fiance?" was the response before Sakura could think of the two words, 'shut-up'. Tsunade had lifted her head, a groggy expression on her face while papers peeled off of her damp skin. There was a red stamp on her cheek and the imprints of inked words on the other but Sakura dared not to say anything. It wasn't because she feared Tsunade, she was merely sick of the woman's constant slacking.
"You know him?" Sakura asked, somewhat weary about the answer.
"Heh, do I know him..." Tsunade shook her head. "Uzumaki Naruto, Earth's most lazy ANBU..."
"Eh, what surprises me is that he is also one of the most valued nins..." She held out her hand, a smile coming onto her normally tired face. "Welcome, Uzumaki. It's quite an honor that you're joining our team!"
Sakura's instinct wanted her to slap Naruto's hand away from her sensei's but instead, she watched mournfully as they shook hands.
"You won't regret it!" Naruto voiced cheerily and winked at Sakura. She glared in response.
"Eh, seems like Sakura really likes you!" Tsunade said with a wide and perverted grin. Sakura had a feeling that if she died now, it would be a good thing. "You two make a good couple!"
"Ah, yes, the mission. It seems that you've been relieved of all missions for the time being--"
"WHAT!" Her breath instantly became stagnant. "But... but my mission--"
"Ah, I've already reassigned someone to cover your position. Erm..." Tsunade leaned over and began to rummage through various folders on her desk. Eyes lighting up, she pulled out one and handed it to Sakura. Quickly she snapped the folder open only to see the visage of Ino-pig staring right back at her.
"Sensei!" she cried out, taking a faltering step back. "Please, please don't put her with him! Please, anyone else!"
"Sakura, I don't have anyone else--"
"Naruto and I will do it! Please, just this once--"
"You and Naruto will work with Sasuke?" With her skepticism she raised a perfectly formed eyebrow and rested her chin on her fist.
Sakura nodded and was ready to continue to defend her proposition when there was a knock at the door. A moment later, none other than Sasuke himself stepped in with his usual bored expression.
"Where the hell is my partner?" was his first demand as he crossed his arms and waited impatiently for the Hokage's answer. His eyes seemed to take in everything in the room except for Sakura and including Naruto, where his dark orbs focused upon. "Who the hell is he?"
"Sasuke, meet Sakura's fiance, Naruto. Naruto, this is Uchiha Sasuke, who you and Sakura will be working with--"
"And who is Sakura?" Sasuke asked, staring straight past the girl in question. Naruto found himself frowning at the other boy's stupidity and pure disregard for respect and angered, he stalked up to him. Sasuke stood a foot higher than Naruto, but that didn't stop the golden haired boy from glaring into Sasuke's face and poking him in the chest.
"Don't disrespect my fiancee!" he growled, causing Sasuke to smirk.
With a single push Naruto was on the ground and Sasuke was wiping his hands on his jeans, as if he had touched dirt. He turned a disgusted face to Tsunade and inclined his head to the fallen Jounin. "I'm not working with him."
"It's either them or Ino-"
This new break of events caused Sasuke to start and for the first time, he seemed to notice Sakura, who was staring at him with pink cheeks and a coy expression. His eyes then drifted down to Naruto, who was scrambling up but tripping on his shoelaces. An image of Ino then came into his head and his resulting loss of breath as she tackled him in her infamous death-hug.
"These two are engaged, right?"
Tsunade nodded, a small smile gracing her lips.
Sakura wasn't sure whether she wanted to laugh or cry with his proclamation. Naruto, however, chose shouting.
"I will not work with him!" he cried out, lashing at the air and casting a deadly glare at the other boy. "No, no, no!"
"Naruto, shut up!" Sakura hissed, quickly jumping at him and wrapping her arm around his neck. With an angelic expression she turned to Tsunade and laughed nervously. "He's just in awe of Sasuke-kun's wonderful abilities."
Sasuke snorted. "Whatever. Just don't get in my way. You two are just coming to hold my stuff."
"Sasuke..." Tsunade warned while Naruto continued to seethe. Sakura, however, didn't seem to have a problem with being Sasuke's servant and as he left the room, she continued to stare at him with loving eyes.
"You have to behave yourself in front of Sasuke-kun!" Sakura cried out the moment they left, adding emphasis to her words by whacking Naruto across the head. The boy whimpered, his oceanic eyes quickly filling with tears.
"But Sakura-chan, he insulted you!"
"I don't care!" she snapped, walking quickly to increase the distance between them. "Sasuke-kun is Konoha's number one Jounin and it's an honor to be able to work with him!"
"Err... what is this mission exactly?"
"It doesn't matter -you're not going!"
"But I thought-"
"I just said that so Tsunade would allow me to work with Sasuke," Sakura said following a sigh of exasperation. Naruto faulted for a moment but he covered up his dismay by smiling widely.
"Ah... but Sakura-chan...Uhm..."
"Spit it out!"
"YOU DON'T EVEN KNOW WHAT IT IS!"
Naruto blinked twice. "Well, Tsunade-baachan was going to tell me but you dragged me off so fast that--"
"How the hell should I know!"
On the porch of Sakura's home lay several boxes and suitcases while some men loaded the contents of her room into a truck. Her mother stood in the doorway, smiling contentedly to herself as she watched the progress and her daughter's belongings get carted off.
"Mother, what the hell are you doing!" Sakura cried out, wincing for a moment and rubbing her throat. All this screaming was beginning to have horrible side effects; she felt like someone had taken a grater and ran it repeatedly along the inside of her throat.
The woman in question seemed to suddenly notice Sakura, blinking and opening her mouth in an expression of delight. However, the daughter was pushed to the side in favor of the future mail-in son-in-law who Mrs. Haruno proceeded to squeeze the life out of.
"How was your day, dear?" she asked while Naruto desperately tried to breathe. "I heard Tsunade-sama gave you that mission and that you're in charge of it! I'm so proud of you! I can't believe I've been so blessed to have you in my family, I--"
Pulling away, Mrs. Haruno gave her daughter an irate look. "Sakura, screaming isn't very becoming for a young kunoichi."
Whipping her arm to the side, Sakura gestured to her depleting belongings. "Where is my stuff going?"
Mrs. Haruno blinked. "To your home, of course."
"I live here."
"Not anymore!" A wide grin plastered onto her mother's face. "From now on, you're going to live with Naruto!"
Sakura frowned and looked around, as if expecting someone (maybe even Ino) to jump out from behind the fences the scream, "Got you!" and then go into a lengthy discussion about how this was all a cruel, cruel joke.
So she waited.
Naruto scratched his side.
Mrs. Haruno crossed her arms.
And the men loaded the last of her belongings onto the truck.
"You don't marry your daughter off to a mail-in fiance!" she cried out, swaying slightly. Naruto caught her by the elbows but quickly released her following a well-directed death glare that literally caused him to start fearing for his life. He cast a wearied look to Mrs. Haruno but the woman didn't seem unnerved.
"Sakura, Naruto, come inside for some tea before you leave!" she chirped, taking Naruto by the elbow and leading him inside the house.Sakura could feel an oncoming migraine. What had she done to deserve any of this?
a/n: It's been almost 5 months since I last updated, so I would understand if no one is reading this. Again, I'm really, really sorry. Writer's block is a beastly thing, but now I actually have an idea about where I'm going with this -not to mention I have a renewed passion for Naruto.