Two AM Toasts
A/N: - Hi, hi. This is a little Team Seven bond thingy that I've had in the back of my mind for some time. The story takes place right between Episodes 101 and 102 (the endeavor to see Kakashi's face and the mission to the Tea Country to escort Idate.) I don't know if any significant amount of time passed between those two episodes, but let's pretend, huh?
Essentially plot-less and pointless. Consider yourself warned.
SCB readers:- This is primarily for y'all, cause I feel so guilty that I can't update a a little sooner. Chapter Seven is just about finished; it just needs to go through the editing and betaing process. Let's say y'all will have it by Friday, Saturday for the latest. :-)
Disclaimer: - I do not own Naruto. Do you?
"This is stupid," Sasuke reiterated, frowning as he trudged alongside his teammate. It was about the sixth time that night that he had made that statement. And for the sixth time that night, Naruto replied,
"Then why did you agree to come, baka?"
The blond made no further comment. The scathing glare that was shot his way assured that. He did, however, stick out his tongue at the side of his mouth, which Sasuke blatantly ignored. The scowl that had previously occupied the dark-haired boy's face happily took up residence once again, a little peeved at having been pushed off in the first place.
Konoha's streets were hushed, and the air was still, making for an eerie atmosphere. The luminescent moon hung suspended in the firmament, the milky white light that it cast off giving the inky black canvas of the night sky a lighter, pewter colour.
Sasuke looked up at that glowing orb, and sighed. Naruto was right, of course. When the idiot had appeared at his bedside twenty minutes ago, 'whispering' that he had a really fun way to strengthen their teamwork, he could have fried him with a Katon no Jutsu and rolled over.
…..He could have, if he hadn't been awake all along, tormenting himself with shadowy, bloody images that played in a phantasmagoria behind his closed lids. He could have, if he hadn't been pervaded with an abysmal loneliness that clawed at his heart and mocked him mercilessly. He could have, if he hadn't been aching for some company, any company of any sort to drag him away from his disturbed thoughts.
So here he was, at two o'clock in the morning, walking next to Naruto, heading towards Sakura's place. They arrived at said kunoichi's house in a few minutes. The Haruno residence was a formidable, two-storied building, light brown in colour. A small, pretty little balcony jutted out over the entrance from the second floor. Glass sliding doors and pink curtains led into a room.
"That's Sakura-chan's room," Naruto said, pointing.
Sasuke shrugged, and folded his arms across his chest.
"So?" he said. "Wake her up and let's go."
"Erm…..yeah," said Naruto, a little uneasily. The truth was, he wasn't so eager about awakening Sakura-chan. It was two o'clock in the morning! She might get angry and…..hit him. That was never pleasant. Of course, when she found out what it was all about, she would be thrilled. Absolutely tickled. Really. But in the beginning? Yeah, she'd hit him, alright. Naruto sidled his eyes to his teammate.
Heh, heh, heh.
"You wake her."
Sasuke did a rather comical double-take.
"What? No way. This is your idea."
"Yeah, but when you agreed to it, it sorta became your idea too. Besides, I woke you, so it's only fair that you should wake her. It's like, the natural order of things. Plus, it's also kinda like…..er…..strengthening our teamwork. Yeah."
Sasuke glared at Naruto, and tried hard not to think about what the blond boy had just said. If he did, it might start to make sense.
"Come on, Sasuke. You don't want to disturb the natural order of the world, do you?"
Sasuke glared harder, before unfolding his arms. He might as well do this now, or they'd be here all morning. He usually wasn't this complaisant, but God, it was two o'clock in the morning.
He gave Naruto one last glower.
"I'm not going in her room."
"Yeah, yeah, sure, sure."
Sasuke hunted around with his sharp eyes for a good stone. He found one, and tested its weight in his hand. Feeling incredibly asinine, like some idiot Romeo calling to his beloved Juliet, he threw it at the doors above him, with enough force to make a good tap, but not enough to break the glass.
The curtains moved, ruffled by some wayward wind, but other than that, no life stirred within the room.
Sasuke got another stone. He was never going to forgive Naruto.
This time, the stone elicited some response. There came a small yelp, and a muffled thud. Sasuke and Naruto winced simultaneously. They heard some irritated grumbling, peppered by a few choice curses. Silence. Then, a voice went, "Ack!" and there was another thud, followed by more foul language. Sasuke and Naruto glanced at each other, their eyebrows travelling upwards. Finally, a light clicked on, and the glass doors slid open.
Haruno Sakura stumbled unto the balcony, eyes heavy with sleep. She swayed and tottered a bit before reaching the edge and holding on with an iron grip. She was dressed in a light green tank top and baby pink shorts, with a red and white robe thrown over her shoulders. She at once beheld the Uchiha survivor and the Uzumaki orphan, but did not quite register them until a few moments later. The look that crossed her face then was much like the one she had worn when, in the bell training with Kakashi, she had come out of the forest to find Sasuke buried up to his neck in the ground. He hoped she didn't scream and faint like that time.
Sakura shook her head, narrowed her eyes and tried to make sense out of what she was seeing.
The brunet held a stone in one hand, while the blond wore a cat-like grin and carried a picnic basket. Sakura shook her head around some more. Was she so tired that even her dreams were mixed up? Sasuke was supposed to have the basket in hand, along with some flowers, and definitely no rock. And Naruto…..wasn't supposed to be there at all.
"Good morning Sakura-chaaaaaaaan!"
Right. So it wasn't a dream, she concluded as Sasuke hit Naruto over the head for being so loud. Sakura was about to contribute to the disturbance of the peace with a lengthy, loud tirade at Naruto for awakening her; what, was he even stupider than she thought, it was two-fifteen in the morning, what in the hell could he possibly want with her, the idiot, and why did he have to drag Sasuke-kun along with him, and…..Sasuke-kun?
Yes, Sasuke-kun, Inner Sakura verified gleefully as her outer self stared down at the blue-haired boy as if just seeing him. He was the one who threw the stone to awaken us from our slumber. Could this mean…..romantic time? Sakura immediately brightened with that possibility. She clasped her hands under her chin and gazed down at her love, starry-eyed.
Her hopes crashed, burnt to a crisp and died a horrible death when Sasuke shifted uncomfortably and said,
"Don't look at me. This is all his idea."
Thumb-jerk to Naruto.
She pouted, and folded her arms.
"We're going to strengthen out teamwork, Sakura-chan. Wanna come? It'll be lots of fun."
Strengthening their teamwork? At two-fifteen in the morning? Sakura's left brow made a dainty arch and her mouth twisted into something of a frown. This was absurd, and farfetched, even for Naruto. It was freezing out, and they'd had a hard day of training the day before. What was he thinking? And if her parents found out that she'd snuck out during the night, she'd be in big trouble.
But still, it did sound like it could be fun. That was the thing with Naruto. Things were never boring around him, that was for sure. Besides, she was wide awake now, and it would be hell to try and get back to sleep. And Sasuke-kun was going. She couldn't miss out on that. No way.
Her mind was made up.
"I'll be down in five minutes."
"So, where are we going?" Sakura enquired. She was now dressed in her usual ensemble, but had chosen to keep on her 'Fighting Spirit' robe.
"The river," supplied Naruto jauntily. He grinned, and the marks on his face stretched back. "Yosh! This is gonna be great!"
The short trek to the banks of the river was mostly uneventful. They saw a few ANBU patrolling the rooftops who paid them no mind, and encountered a couple shinobi coming back from late missions. For the most part, Sasuke was stoically quiet as usual. Occasionally, he 'hn'-ed or 'aa'-ed when Sakura posed a question to him or made a comment ("Isn't the sky pretty tonight?" "I hope this is going to be as good as he says."). Naruto more than made up for the silence in between.
They did have one curiously bizarre incident. As they were passing a dark alley, (you know, the kind that you glance at, shudder, and then walk faster in an endeavour to get as far away from it as possible) they heard sinister laughter of the crazed, revenge-seeking quality. A baritone voice seeped out of the shadows.
"Ahh…..Kakashi's students. Those brats. It was they who helped in thwarting my revenge. And it is they who must now reap what was sown. They must now pay. Retribution will be sweet! Mwahahahaha!"
A punier, subservient voiced piped up.
"Yes, aniki, they are but children. What can they do in the face of your mighty power?"
A third voice, no less meek or minor than the last.
"And this time, they do not have their sensei to save them."
By this time, Team Seven had stopped to listen with quizzical looks on their faces.
The leader once again spoke.
"With my ingenious, invented smoke-bomb that shall make them laugh, hiccough and cry, all at the same time, I shall easily conquer them! Moya Brothers, move out!"
The genin watched with almost bored interest as a vaguely familiar man in a green and grey ninja suit leapt out into the street, striking (what he probably thought was) an impressive, daunting pose. Two others, similarly garbed, followed to stand behind the first, twisting their bodies into amusing positions. After a bit of squinting, the adolescents realized that they spelt the word 'Moya'.
"Genin of Konoha, subordinates of Hatake Kakashi, prepared to be destroyed!"
Three pairs of eyes blinked, unimpressed. Sasuke was the first to walk away, shoving his hands in his pockets as he made an annoyed sound in the back of his throat. Sakura hurried after him, casting a last, perplexed look back at the trio. Naruto stayed a bit longer, trying to remember where he'd seen these three ugly men before, but it just wasn't coming to him. So he ran after his friends, planning to ask them.
"Ah…..brother," whispered a side-kick from the side of his mouth, desperately trying to keep his balance, "I think they're ignoring us."
He was rewarded with a punch to the head.
"I can see that!" snapped the head Moya. "We will just have to intimidate them a little."
He stepped forward importantly and pompously.
"Hey, you kids! We are going to defeat you this night!" Pink, blue and blond; three heads turned to face him. Ah ha! Was that fear, or exasperation he saw framed in their eyes? He opted for the more satisfying of the two.
"Yes, I shall crush you all for ruining my chances of beating Kakashi! Starting with that short, overweight girl with the un-coordinating clothes and the jaggedly cut hair of an absurd colour." The head shinobi turned to his brothers, nodding knowingly and ostentatiously.
"You see, that's how you do it. You have to incite their anger, one by one, and that anger will blind them. It will be easy to carry out my smoke-bomb plan from here." He emitted a superior, ominous laugh, failing to notice that a certain pink-haired kunoichi was advancing with blazing fire in her eyes.
Overweight? Un-coordinating clothes? Jagged hair? Inner Sakura fumed. He shall know pain.
The first roundhouse kick dropped them all to the ground. In a flurry of hair, clothes, legs, arms, kicks and punches, Sakura laid waste to them with a vigor born of fury. Screams and yelps escaped the mouths of the attacked. One of the brothers tried to escape the tussle, and she grabbed him back with a shriek of rage. She was by no means finished.
When the cherry blossom (how deliciously delicate and deceptive) was finally done with them, it was not a pretty sight. Sasuke and Naruto sweat-dropped, and took a few cautionary steps backwards as she gave the tangled, bloody heap a last kick. She turned, and smiled brightly, evidently in a much better mood. When her companions stared at her in disbelief (mixed with a healthy amount of fear), she shrugged, and said,
"It's the robe."
Damn right! Inner Sakura roared. Fighting Spirit!
They turned to walk away.
"Wait!" a voice cried out. "We are not defeated just yet!"
Somehow, the trio of incompetent shinobi had managed to bring themselves to their feet. Sasuke emitted a sound of acute aggravation. He sighed.
"Come on, Naruto. We'll handle it this time."
The Kyuubi frowned, not really wanting to be held up in getting to the river.
"Eh…..alright." He ran off to put his basket down at the side, placing it on the sidewalk almost reverently, then rejoined Sasuke.
The head Moya glared at them imperiously (the effect was rather lessened by his blackened eyes).
"Ha! You're very confident. Well then, take th….."
"Katon: Goukagyuu no Jutsu!"
The colossal flame that Sasuke conjured took care of them quite nicely. After, Naruto stepped forward, took some rope out of his pouch and proceeded to tie up their scorched remains deftly. As he did, he posed a question to his friends.
"Hey, do we know these three from somewhere? They look awfully familiar."
Sakura spared the beaten shinobi a glance.
They made it to the river soon after. The water gurgled quietly, skipping and splashing over rocks. Naruto plopped down on the slightly damp, grassy bank, and waited for his comrades to do the same. Sasuke lowered himself almost resignedly, and Sakura settled between the two boys.
"So Naruto," she said, clasping her hands in her lap, "what's this oh-so-great way of strengthening our teamwork that you had in mind?"
The Kyuubi vessel grinned.
"Only the best!" He put the basket in the middle of them and rubbed his hands together gleefully. "Guess what's in it, Sasuke."
A slim brow arched in skepticism.
"I will not," he stated firmly.
"Oh, don't be such a killjoy. Sakura-chan, why don't you take a guess?"
The cherry blossom shrugged helplessly, and glanced around at her surroundings a bit, as if they might provide the answer.
"I don't know. Food?"
"Yes, yes, but what kind of food?" Naruto wore a distinctly vulpine smile as he slowly lifted the lid of the basket.
The kunoichi's eyes narrowed shrewdly, and she sighed exasperatedly.
"Don't tell me it's….."
"Cup ramen!" the blond yelled with decidedly too much exuberance as he whipped the lid off of the straw basket, revealing three partially covered paper cups. Steaming air rose in billows from them, and Naruto inhaled the spicy fragrance as if in a trance.
"I know what you're thinking," he said half-dreamily. "What better way to cement our alliance than to bond over a meal of hot, tasty miso ramen?"
The silence that followed was quite deafening.
Sakura bit her lip and sidled her eyes to the side.
Sasuke directed his gaze heavenwards and tried to recall exactly why he hadn't maimed Naruto in explicit, tortuous ways when the boy had appeared at his bedside at almost two o'clock in the morning.
In a few moments, he was able to remember why, but that didn't diminish his irritation in the slightest.
"Naruto, you're an idiot," he said flatly, still looking up at the sky.
"Yup," Sakura agreed wholeheartedly before the accused could comment, nodding her azalea head to emphasize. "But you're a special kind of idiot," she added somewhat affectionately as she helped him unpack the food. Said idiot grinned sheepishly and scratched his head, both pleased and relieved that she hadn't decided to punch him.
A particularly cold gust of wind swept past them, and Sakura shivered, rubbing her hands over the goose-bumps that rose on her exposed flesh. Sasuke noted this, and unfolded his arms wordlessly, getting up and wandering off in search of firewood. A few minutes, and some hand seals later, they had a small fire going.
"Arigatou, Sasuke-kun," Sakura smiled. "It's really chilly tonight."
"Alright!" said Naruto, separating his chopsticks. "Let's eat! Itadakimasu!"
"Wait a minute," said Sakura, holding out her hand. "Why don't we make toasts?"
"Yeah, giving thanks. A cementation of our alliance; signs of goodwill; stuff like that. Why don't you go first Naruto, since this was your idea?"
"Okay……..To good food, the kind that warms your stomach and your heart."
"To teamwork, the kind that gets you out of bothersome situations."
They turned to Sasuke to finish. The blue-haired boy brooded for a moment, then closed with,
"To friends, the kind that wake you up at two in the morning…..the kind that bother you incessantly…..the kind that you really need."
They all grinned, a real smile gracing even Sasuke's lips.
A few minutes later, Sakura paused in mid-bite.
"D'you suppose we should've invited Kakashi-sensei?"
Naruto practically blanched.
"Hell no! He wouldn't have gotten here until noon!"
A/N:- Me, being funny. Almost a joke in itself, really.