A/N: Hello everyone! I was on a writing rampage and thought I'd update early. Besides, the beautiful autumn weather put me in a really good mood. Don't you love that? Haha anyway, please enjoy the update! As always, these chapters are all dedicated to you!
Special thanks to the following:
C.A.M.E.O.1 and Only
Defender of the Light
Redemption of the Heart:
Her Last Precious Moments
Sakura seemed to be in a daze as the group stood comfortably talking. She was still sensitive to the fact that everyone seemed to sneak a look in her direction when they thought she wasn't paying attention. She understood that by now, everyone in the whole village knew of the new threat and that meant her soon and sudden departure from all of her beloved friends. Damn that Ino pig with her loud mouth. Sakura smiled sadly, knowing that no matter how much gossip flew out of that girl's mouth, she was still true to her title as best friend. She had volunteered even before Sakura had even known she would leave, to escort her and keep her company in alien territory for the first month. Truly on a real friend would accept such a task. Sakura drew in a slow breath. Do I really want everyone to be sad to see me go? It's not fair that this is happening, but it would tear my heart to pieces if I saw them suffer. Suck it up Sakura, you're better than that. Let's give them the most wonderful five days ever spent with you. Sakura felt her new found courage bubbling up inside her as she stuck her hands into her pockets and approached the group closer.
"Guys! I hear that there's a new joint a few blocks down and I hear they have the best chicken don ever! You guys want to go?" Everyone looked somewhat hesitant to join in on the little trip. Sakura then noticed Naruto shove his hands into his pockets and surprise, surprise...empty. "Of course, this will be my treat." Sakura mustered up her best smile. Inside, she knew that this smile was only half genuine. Sasuke watched her contently as she lazily hung her arm around Naruto's shoulders. Sasuke stood rooted to his current spot in the now quieting street. He was about to turn around and leave when he felt a rough hand land on his shoulder.
"Why aren't you coming? Free food!" Kakashi smiled under his mask, sending his eye into a familiar crinkle.
"I don't leap at every opportunity for free food." Sasuke grumbled.
"Aw come on, don't bash on me, I rarely get treated out." Kakashi answered putting his hands up in defense.
"Oh, is that why somehow you always seem to disappear when the bill comes around? Oh I don't know every time it's your turn to pay?" Sasuke stated flatly, closing his eyes in mild frustration. "I just don't like this situation."
"It's getting under your skin too huh? She's trying her best to cope with it. I think we all owe her the same. You love her don't you?" Kakashi spoke thoughtfully scratching his chin characteristically. It all made complete sense in Kakashi's head and so it must be blatantly obvious for Sasuke too right? For a split second Sasuke's eye twitched. He had been caught off guard by his statement. How is it possible that his former sensei stated something so confidently like it was fact, when inside his own heart, he had no idea what to make of her. Sasuke stood silently glaring at his former sensei as he watched him irritatingly tap on his chin with a long finger. "Like I said, if you love her, you should make it easy for her."
"You make it sound so damn easy." Sasuke's anger was rising with each statement. He was slightly disturbed that he was even discussing his feelings towards Sakura with his former teacher, but more than that, in the open. No even more so than that reason, he was discussing it out loud. That in itself seemed to be a sacrilege. "What could I possibly make easy? In her life, anything concerning me is complicated." Sasuke thought for a moment before hesitantly adding the next word, "and hurtful."
"And why is that?" Kakashi asked with no particular interest in Sasuke's reason. He knew why things were always complicated between them. Hell all of Konoha knew why things were always tense between them. In short, Sakura loves Sasuke, Sasuke loves Sakura but is too damn stupid to make anything of it.
"It's…always complicated because I don't feel the same way she does." Sasuke was interrupted by a cough from Kakashi, but could have sworn he heard bullshit. Sasuke cleared his throat before continuing. "Ok, so I like her but it just wouldn't work out. I mean, if I make things easy for us now, how hard would it be to let her go. You know how emotional she is, she'll die if I leave her." Sasuke said looking at his feet as he kicked around a small stone on the dirt path.
"See that's the thing Sasuke. Sometimes I wonder how dense you kids can be." Sasuke shot him a death glare as his former sensei bashed on his intelligence. "Who says you have to leave her?" With that said, Kakashi was gone with a familiar poof of smoke. Sasuke frowned. He never did like it when Kakashi was right. But inevitably, he was always right.
x X x X x X x
The restaurant that Sakura had suggested was bustling with customers. It seemed as though the whole village was out to try out their don. The group sat at a large round table that had a rotating glass shelf for the foods that most groups liked to share.
"Order as much as you want! Remember, I'm paying so tonight is the one night I'll be letting you all take advantage of my beaten up little wallet." Sakura smiled as she picked up a paper menu. Naruto sat carefully eyeing the menu for any form of ramen. His eyes rested on a special miso ramen and his eyes seemed to bulge. He smiled happily placing his menu back on the table.
"Hinata-chan!" Naruto cried. Everyone turned their heads to the entrance, which caused the pearly eyed girl to blush. She waved shyly. Sakura smiled and motioned for her to join them.
"I'm so glad you stopped by! The more the merrier! Oh, I'll grab another chair. You can take mine." Sakura said happily as she walked to an empty round table situated close to the entrance. She stood up and let Hinata sit in her own seat as she headed towards the door. She stopped again, when Sasuke appeared in the doorway. "Sasuke….I'm glad you changed your mind! I thought you decided to just go back home. I'm glad you came too." Sakura said. He nodded at her response and looked past her at the busily chit chatting group sitting at the main table. Sakura noticed how packed the table was, and there wouldn't be enough room for the both of them to sit. She turned and grabbed the attention of a waitress who was clearing off a booth.
"Um, excuse me, is it possible to put two tables together? It seems our group just got bigger." Sakura asked.
"I would miss, but there aren't any tables left." As if on cue, Sakura turned back to the empty table that she was going to steal a chair and found two couples occupying the round table. "You and your friend can sit in the booth I just cleared off. But that's about the only option I have for you guys. Sorry about that." The waitress said before moving back into the kitchen. Sakura bit her lip. She was going to be sitting secluded from the rest of the group with Sasuke, the man who never really spoke a word to her unless necessary.
"Well I guess we have no choice. Care to join me at the booth?" Sakura smiled pointing to the newly cleaned booth by the wall. Sasuke shrugged and followed behind her as she walked over to their table. They both took a seat and Sasuke scanned the menu. He took a quick glance towards the table occupied with their friends when his eyes came in direct contact with Ichigo. Apparently, he had been watching the whole scene and didn't seem to like it by the looks of the scowl spread across his handsome face. Sasuke was feeling a bit playful, as he gave a slight smirk and salute with his hand. He turned his attention back to the menu. A minute later a slightly chubby and middle aged waitress came by to take their order.
"So what will you dearies have?" She asked loudly snapping her gum.
"Um, I'll have the chicken don with a side of miso soup." Sakura said handing back the menu. She looked at Sasuke, waiting for him to answer.
"Do you sell liquor here?" Sasuke asked. Sakura raised an eyebrow at his request.
"Yes we do, everything from wine to sake and beet." The waitress answered still writing down Sakura's order on her notepad.
"I'll take a sake." Sasuke said handing back his menu.
"You shouldn't drink on an empty stomach." Sakura said concerned. Her eyebrows had started to knit slightly, and Sasuke seemed to lose his will power as he watched her face fade from content to worried.
"And I'll have the same as her." The waitress nodded and scratched in another order without looking at the two and walked away back to the counter.
"Sake? I didn't think you'd be drinking. What's the occasion?" Sakura asked curiously folding her hands in her lap. Sasuke shrugged.
"The rest of them seemed like they were in the drinking mood. I just figure a bottle of sake wouldn't hurt." Sasuke said casually. Sakura looked surprised and turned back to their table of friends and found them all digging into their orders but also noticed how a porcelain sake bottle sat at the right of each occupant. She almost choked as she saw they had already taken the liberty of ordering alcohol. They really were bent on emptying her wallet. Sakura cleared her throat and licked her lips.
A few more minutes of silence passed by before a good looking waiter came back with a tray of don and sake. He placed the two orders of don in front of them along with the soup and placed two sake bottles and two small matching shot glasses.
"Oh, we only ordered one bottle of sake." Sakura corrected their waiter pointing at the second bottle that had been placed on her side of the table.
"That one's on the house miss. Couldn't resist," the waiter answered with a wink. Sakura blushed as he walked away. She was ripped out of her embarrassment by the sound of wood snapping. She looked back to Sasuke to see that he was boring wholes into the back of the waiter with his eyes, while holding a pair of chopsticks that look like they had been snapped, crushed and then ground into a fine woody powder. Sakura smiled sheepishly as she handed him an extra of utensils.
x X x X x X x
Dinner wore on and although Sakura had wanted to give the sake back, she couldn't resist a free drink. The bottle was almost completely empty whereas Sasuke's was empty long before her last few bites of dinner. She stretched lazily as she felt the effects of food coma from all the rice. She rubbed her belly happily as she put her chopsticks down. Sasuke watched her face. He noticed how the soft glow of the restaurant lights illuminated her pink stained cheeks. Her face never failed to give away her condition when intoxicated. He smirked as she looked up to meet his gaze and found her face was graced with a brilliant but still slightly drunken smile. He cursed inwardly when their little staring contest was interrupted when Ichigo came to sit in the booth. He sat on the edge of the leather booth, using his hips to push Sakura further in. She looked confused and surprised but moved in regardless.
"Ichigo! Did you enjoy dinner?" Sakura asked.
"It was delicious. Konoha seems to have the best spots for enjoying a good meal and drink." Ichigo stated. Sasuke grunted at Ichigo's choice of words. Always kissing ass. Sasuke went to take a sip of his water but stopped midway when he noticed Sakura's face go beet red. He couldn't see anything from her elbow down because the table blocked off the view, but Sasuke wasn't dumb. Sasuke knew that Ichigo was holding her in some way, and his guess was that he had somehow snaked an arm around her waist. "Sakura, it seems that everyone is done for the night." The three looked back at the table and found that Shikamaru and Ino had left, most likely to go at it like wild animals. Seeing that Kakashi was also nowhere in sight, that left Naruto and Hinata. Sakura sighed heavily. It seemed that their group of friends had a curse with alcohol, which was splitting up during the course of the night without saying goodbye. "I was wondering if you'd care to take a walk around. The moon is bright and it's cool out."
Sakura was about to answer when she was cut off by a loud 'thump' and a yelp and grunt courtesy of Ichigo. Ichigo grimaced before standing up from the booth. "Actually, I forgot I had to go work on some of the mission papers." Ichigo said rubbing the sore spot on his knee that Sasuke had kicked.
"Oh okay then, I'll see you tomorrow then." Sakura smiled waving to his retreating form. She watched him leave and sighed. "A walk would have been nice." Sakura sighed again before stretching her arms above her head and heading off the bathroom.
When Sakura came out of the bathroom, she found that the restaurant was closing up shop, and all her friends had left. She frowned before moving to the counter, preparing to pay for the night's meals when the clerk stopped her.
"You're boyfriend or whoever paid for the two tables." Sakura blinked a few times with her wallet open and ready to be emptied but found her feet automatically going to the door. She stepped out just in time for the restaurant lights to shut off. She found her attention resting on the bright silver moon that hung in a sky scattered with glittering stars. She smiled fully for the first time today. She took in a deep breath of cool autumn air and proceeded to the head out, opposite direction of the Uchiha manor. She wanted to take a walk, and walk was what she was going to get.
"You shouldn't walk at night alone." Sasuke said stepping out of the darkness. Sakura yelped as she jumped in fright.
"God Sasuke! You gave me a heart attack!" She yelled putting a hand over her heart in an attempt to calm it. "I'm going to take a walk by the bridge, would you like to come with me?" Sakura asked sweetly. Even, through the dim light of the moon, Sasuke could see the pink that tinged her cheeks and again he couldn't seem to reject her.
"It's dangerous," Sasuke said sternly, remembering that it was the exact spot that had gotten them in danger in the first place.
"That's why I'm with you silly." Sakura laughed looping an arm through his. She giggled and proceeded to drag them off into the darkened scenic spot.
x X x X x X x
Sakura found her spot on the railing and jumped up with wobbly feet to sit on the wood. Sasuke just stood next her leaning on the railing for support as he propped his elbows up. They rested there on the bridge that overlooked the small stream in comfortable silence, each just appreciating the clear night.
"Are you going to come to see me off when I leave?" Sakura asked softly. Sasuke glanced at her sideways as she asked. She just smiled and looked down at her feet dangling off the railing. "I would be really sad if I didn't get to say goodbye."
"Sakura…." Sasuke wanted to say that he would see her off as she left the village, but he wasn't sure if he was ready to commit himself and say that he would actually leave his home as well to be with her. He wanted to give her a fair answer but found himself failing. He turned to face her and lifted her face by her chin. Maybe it was the alcohol, but he found his body and his heart in control for once. He had never done anything so intimate with her but it didn't feel wrong. Sakura looked into his eyes, the moonbeams that hit her eyes seemed to make them glow in the darkness. He dragged her chin gently closer to his face. They were so close he could feel her breath tickling his face. He saw her eyes slip shut and her cherry lips slightly parted ready for the kiss. Sasuke closed his eyes too, closing the distance between their lips only to have his eyes fly wide open again. Sakura toppled over on top of him, completely asleep. Sasuke growled. She had too much to drink and was now in the state of being unconscious.
Weren't people supposed to have a higher chance of having a successful kiss when they're drunk?