Notes: Name of the coffee shop is entirely thanks to the CFUD OOC IRC channel and especially thegrimwombat. This story betaed by ismile.
One day Sakura looked at Lee and thought, "Wow, he's kind of hot."
It took a while for the shock and horror to set in and she immediately started trying to repress the memories of ever having thought such a thing. Sadly, her powers of repressing were on the fritz that day.
'Lee's being hot' seemed to be one of those thoughts she couldn't unthink. She crossed the street to get away from him and that didn't help (though it did make him look sort of sad).
It wasn't necessarily a bad thing to think. Lee was a nice guy and if Sakura found him attractive for just a moment there wasn't anything wrong with that. He wasn't ugly - sure he wasn't pretty like Sasuke but he was pleasant enough to look at.
In fact, by the time she got home Sakura was convinced that her momentary lapse in judgement hadn't been a horrible experience and she'd be fine with it as long as it never happened again.
The problem was, the next time Sakura saw Lee it happened again. He was just running past her (Neji walked behind him looking amused, Tenten was looking vaguely annoyed) and all of a sudden she was wondering what he looked like naked. When she realised what she was thinking she buried her head in her hands with horror.
She shouldn't be thinking about him naked! He was too, well, 'Lee' to think of like that. He wasn't popular or stylish - he liked crying and hugging other men and he got into fights when he was drunk. Although, at least if he was naked he wouldn't be wearing that awful green jumpsuit...
No! she told herself. She wasn't going to allow herself to think that way.
On the third time that week that she found herself finding Lee attractive she decided something had to be done about it.
This was an important mission. Sakura put on her most efficient outfit and snuck out of her house. She bounded over the rooftops under the cover of night and made her way to her destination as quietly as possible.
When she got there she rapped on the window.
"What is it?" asked an irritated voice.
"Ino, let me in," Sakura hissed.
Ino opened the window and looked at Sakura like she was a crazy person. "Forehead girl, what are you doing?"
"I need you to help me with an important dilemma," Sakura said. "It's desperate."
"All right, come in," Ino said.
Sakura crawled through the window and arranged herself on the bed next to Ino.
"So, what's the big catastrophe?" Ino asked.
Sakura turned completely in Ino's direction, looking her completely in the eyes with intense focus. "How do you stop yourself being attracted to someone?"
Ino's face lit up with glee. "You have a crush on someone? How cute!"
"Shut up," Sakura whined.
"Who is it?" Ino asked.
"Someone horrible," Sakura answered.
"Come on, tell me," Ino pleaded. "I'm helping you out of the goodness of my heart. The least you can do is tell me who it's about."
"Fine," Sakura said, rolling her eyes. "It's Lee."
"Really?" Ino asked incredulously.
"Really," Sakura insisted. "So what should I do?"
"Go out with him," Ino answered.
"What? How will that help?" Sakura asked.
"It'll go horribly and you'll get over this random crush."
"But what if it doesn't go horribly?"
"Then keep going out with him. What are you complaining about? He's nice and he likes you. You could do worse."
The next time she saw Lee she was determined to carry out her plan. She was a little afraid to approach him, though - he and Gai seemed to be having an important and loud conversation about youthful exuberance or something and she didn't want to interrupt them.
She was just about to turn around and walk away when Lee called out to her. That decided things - now that he'd seen her she had to talk to him.
"Hello, Lee-san," she said brightly as he came towards her.
"Good morning, Sakura-san," he greeted. "You're looking lovely today."
"Thank you," she said, feeling herself flush. She idly drew her hair out of her face.
"Lee-san, I need you to do something for me," she said in a determined voice.
"Anything, Sakura-san!" he exclaimed.
"Go out with me," Sakura said. "Tonight. On a date."
Lee blinked at her. Sakura thought this might be the first time she'd ever seen him speechless.
"Lee-san?" she asked, starting to get worried.
A sweet, shy smile slowly stole over his face. "I can do that," he said, softly.
Sakura found herself starting to smile in spite of herself. "Okay. Good."
"Ino," she muttered, looking in the mirror as she smoother her hair, "this better work."
She straightened, brushed her outfit flat and nodded to herself.
"I can do this," Sakura assured herself in a strong confident voice. That didn't stop her from feeling like something was tickling her insides.
The doorbell rang decisively and Sakura ran toward the door."Be careful," her mother said as she barely missed knocking something over.
Sakura opened the door. Lee was smiling in a way you'd only recognise as nervous if you knew him well. He looked nice. Sure, his outfit was blindingly green and Sakura suspected he'd gotten Gai to pick it out but, somehow, he looked nice.
"Let's go," Sakura said, slamming the door behind her as she sped out of the house. Lee followed obediently.
She led him to the Shurikenbucks in the middle of Konoha. They ordered and sat at the table in the corner.
"So. How have you been?" she asked.
"I have been wonderful," he answered. "Have you been well?"
"Yes. Tsunade's been teaching me lots of interesting stuff. Have you been training hard?"
"Very hard. I still have a long way to go before I catch up to Neji. I must simply put in more time and effort in training and I will make it!"
She smiled at this. She really did admire his optimism. It was a large part of what made him Lee.
He smiled back at her.
"I'm sure you'll give it your all," she said.
"Always! Any less is simply not good enough."
The serving lady came by with their orders. Sakura's drink was warm and chocolaty, topped with layers of cream. Lee's drink was orange juice.
"Lee-san," Sakura said, incredulous, "you ordered orange juice on a date."
"It's very healthy," he said. "Plus, caffeine stunts your growth."
"Not if you only have it occasionally," Sakura said. "It won't kill you to have a cup of coffee, Lee-san."
"Which one of us is apprenticed to a medical ninja?" Sakura asked pointedly.
"I... Could I maybe have a bit of the cream, then?" he asked bashfully.
Sakura scooped up a bit of cream with her spoon and held it out to Lee, who leant over and ate it off the spoon, blushing all the while.
"It's good," he mumbled.
"But orange juice is very healthy, Sakura-san," Lee said. "Also, it is quite tasty. It has many benefits."
"Well, yes, but orange juice just isn't se..." Sakura trailed off. "Keep drinking orange juice, Lee-san."
It was a small hope but, maybe if Lee stuck to orange juice she wouldn't find him attractive.
Half an hour later they'd talked about health food and trade with Sand and she'd refused to let him pay for her.
"I can pay for it, myself," she insisted, expecting him to raise a protest.
"How modern and independent! Your self-sufficiency is truly admirable!" he gushed. "Truly, you are a strong and capable person."
She dropped her head in her hands. Why did he have to be such a dork? And, more importantly, why did she think it was cute? She was starting to think there was no hope for her.
"Come on, Lee-san, I'll walk you home," she said.
The afternoon was bright and breezy. The leaves blew past their feet as they walked slowly along the footpath. Their hands gently brushed with each step.
"I had a nice time," Sakura admitted.
"Of course I had a wonderful time!" Lee exclaimed. "Every moment spent with you brings me endless pleasure."
They stopped walking. Lee tilted his head back to look at her in query. There was something about his face that drew her closer. Quickly, while the urge still had a hold on her, she kissed him. His mouth was soft and warm, gently parting under hers. When she pulled back he looked shocked for a moment before a silly grin took over his face.
Well, that failed at being horrible.
"Do you want to go out with me again sometime?" she asked.
"Yes," he answered, nodding enthusiastically.
"Well, see you later then," she said and turned to walk home.
Mission failed. She still thought he was attractive and she wanted to go out with him again. That was not her plan. Yet somehow, she really didn't mind.