A/N: For Valentine's Day. Inspired by the prompt at 52 Flavors: the currency of hope. Slightly AU, of starving college kids, but it's still Sasuke and it's still Sakura and it's still twoo wuv. Dialogue may be slightly difficult to follow, so apologies. Warning for possible OOC-ness in Sasuke because of freaky verbal diarrhea, OOC-ness in Sakura for (I don't know) having a spine, and also caution to not drown in the following sap. Happy readings, happy Valentine's Day, much love, and would be absolutely giddy if you reviewed.
"It can't possibly be healthy for you," she tells him, leaning over the counter to peer anxiously in his face. He scowls, because she's annoying like this, worrying over trivial nothings, and really, what's it to her anyway? "When'd you go to sleep last night?"
"Feh," he says, huffs, sighs, because what business is it of hers? – "Feh," shoulders hunching a little, though it's not like he's being defensive or anything – this is Sakura. Still, his head lowers fractionally, enough that his bangs fall forward, over his eyes. It makes him look twelve, she thinks, twelve and young and boyish – and she remembers when he had worn his hair that way, bangs and spikes, cool and emo. He's older now, grown-uppish – face a little thinner and cheeks a little sharper and eyes a little harder and jaw a little squarer, keeps his hair long, ties it back. That had been her doing - wheedling and whining, pleading him not to cut his hair short, because Sasuke-kun has very nice hair. Shut up, he had said, like always, like forever, you're annoying, and complied. Less barber bills, he had scowled, and she had giggled, because who used phrases like 'barber bills'? Annoying, he had repeated, glared, almost smiled – and keeps his hair long, now, ties it back, tucks his bangs behind his ears (because he's older and cares about peripheral vision, and that hadn't been her doing.) Girly, Naruto jibes some days, but Naruto wears orange and blue, so what does he know? Sasuke likes his bangs (sakura likes them too maybe sort of kind of he not really hoped), and they are useful sometimes, like now, not meeting and not avoiding this café-waitress-turned-torture-interrogator's gaze.
"Sasuke-kun," Sakura is needling, and he turns his head to one side, turns his head away. She's used to this, though, and raises a hand, pokes him in the shoulder. He hisses in annoyance, but not really, because Uchiha Sasuke doesn't settle for hissing when he's annoyed. And this – this is Sakura, who's always been strange, or weird, or maybe special. Something. "Sasuke-kun," she whines, insists, grouses, and continues to poke. Damn, but the girl has sharp fingernails.
"Ten-ish," he mumbles sourly, because it's none of her business, nosey woman.
"Hmm," she hums, drawing back a little, but not enough, still invading his personal space, still too close, too near. She smells like shampoo and soap and open windows and fluttering curtains and dandelions (which smell rather bad) – smells clean, and it's a little sharp, the smell, but he doesn't find it necessarily displeasing. Something twinges in the back of his mind and he frowns, because it's happening rather frequently, this twinge thing. He thinks it has something to do with her, probably the onset of the aneurysm he's sure she's causing him. Feh. "Well," she says, thoughtful, "six and a half hours of sleep isn't bad. I'm not displeased. It's not good, mind – and you really should take better care of your health, Sasuke-kun, but I'll take what I can get."
What she can get, he thinks, and frowns at her in what is meant to be a 'quizzical' expression. The best his facial muscles can manage, however, is 'disgusted' and 'homicidal' – that isn't so bad though, because she's known him for a very long time. He hasn't progressed to his 'psychotic' frown, which means that all is well, and she does take what she can get. It's enough, this – he comes for coffee Thursday mornings and Tuesday afternoons, comes bookbag slung over one shoulder or a pair of running shoes, muddied and old, dangling from his left hand. It's enough – because this is Sakura, and this is Sasuke. This is maybe a tentative friendship or a very long acquaintance. Or maybe this is just her serving him coffee, or maybe it's not – but this is Sasuke and this is Sakura, and this is them. This is enough.
(enough she thinks says promises enough he hopes wishes prays)
He looks tired these days, which is why she is leery of serving him coffee, why she gripes after him and his health and how much sleep he's getting and how it's never enough, and why is Sasuke-kun such a compulsive Java-programmer and doesn't he know it's not sane to get up before the crack of dawn in order to go for some five mile sprint through the woods and is it even possible to sprint five miles and really, what the hell? He takes all of this in his usual disgruntled, antisocial fashion, but he still comes, and talks, and stays to finish his coffee – some days, stays a little after, some days, orders a second cup, some days, waits and walks her home.
"So –" she smiles, because Sakura is a cheerful girl, and thinks Sasuke-kun deserves more smiles. " – when's the next meet?"
"Friday," he grunts, not meeting her eyes, but not avoiding them either. Sasuke-kun is strange like that, she thinks, or weird, or maybe special. Something.
She wipes the counter with a slightly distracted air, and he, frowning (frowning frowning always frowning) but not quite irritated, lifts his cup to accommodate her. "Friday," she says, squinting vaguely at some point over his right shoulder. "It's going to rain."
"Aa," he says, because he's known that for weeks.
"How's the course?" she asks, eyes refocusing on him, and he's not sure he likes it, not sure he doesn't like it. Sakura's – a girl, he thinks, floundering, a girl, (with cooties 'tachi-nii said and sasu-chan looked up really? and) yeah – yeah.
He shrugs, noncommittal, "Steep."
She sighs, and throws the rag down, leans on her elbows, lowers her head to meet his eyes. He looks at her with some reluctance, because she's annoying, this girl, and he's Sasuke, this boy, and he doesn't quite know what to do because she really does care.
"Muddy, then," she says, quirking an eyebrow at him, "slippery and wet, so bring a sweatshirt, hear? I don't want you catching a cold or –"
He huffs impatiently, because he doesn't need her telling him what he already knows – he can take care of himself, he does take care of himself, he's been taking care of himself since he was eight years old, who the hell does she think she is?
"Aa," he says, nevertheless, "Aa."
"And cleats – "
"Spikes," he tells her, with a pained look, "Cleats are for soccer. And stuff. I have spikes."
She waves a dismissive hand, tells him, "Yeah, yeah, they have little things on the bottom –"
"You're so damned annoying," he hisses, voice low and hostile, and glowers some more when she smiles perkily at him. "Annoying," because obviously she hadn't heard him the first time.
"Walk me home today?" She asks him, instead, and he tells her brusquely, "No."
She shrugs, because she's used to that. Maybe he'll change his mind, and maybe he won't, but it's all right either way, because he's here, right now, of his own free will and talking to her, looking almost, almost (maybe kind of sort of not really but she hoped) as if he enjoyed it.
"Hey, hey," she raps her knuckles against the counter, and he looks up at her with a what-the-hell-do-you-want-cretin look."Didn't I tell you to put that away and practice the ancient and noble art of polysyllabic conversation? Stop reading. You're going to ruin your eyes and end up like Hatake-san. Yeah – depraved and giggling like some nancy girl – and a libertine and debauchee and – "
"What?" And she is really comparing him to that pervert idiot, isn't she? But he drags his eyes off his paper, slides it slightly to one side. Slightly, because he's not conceding anything, he's not accommodating anyone, he's especially not listening to her.
"Mm-hmm," she nods, refilling his mug with decaf, and he scowls because hadn't he asked for espresso? "Tsunade-shishou said so, and she would know – "
"She's a cardiovascular surgeon," he wrinkles his nose at her, because that's what it is – a nose wrinkle too good-hearted for a sneer, and she feels something warm bubbling inside her heart. "Not an optometrist. She – "
"Hey," she points at him, because her mother had told her that it was rude to point at people and Sasuke is a stickler for decorum and proper conduct, "when you have a coronary – "
He wrinkles his nose at her again, and returns to his essay, which she's sure is comprised entirely of words no less than four syllables in length. (And indeed -'A dissertation of reverse engineering: of nondeterministic trajectory, irreversible trajectory, and reversible trajectory'.) She looks at him a moment, because he is a very well-formed, good-looking boy, fine-boned and pale-skinned and of rather grave mien. She looks at him, because she's feeling very fond of him at the moment – and she supposes that while normal people had their special smiles and special songs and special places, Sasuke shares with her his special sneer that isn't so much a sneer at all, and she wonders why she's so ridiculously happy about it.
"The heart has its reasons," he says, vaguely, not looking up from his paper, "whereof reason knows nothing. Pascal. Why are you making that face, anyway? You look stupid."
Your mom, she wants to say, but this is Sasuke-kun, and she doesn't think he'd react well to that. "Are you – what, like a mind-reader?" He gives her a look, eyes half-squinting, and she remembers that they had been talking about coronaries. But – Sasuke-kun, she thinks, reminds herself, doubts.
"...At this point, the average human being would expound on that 'no' and articulate exactly 'how' he has reached that conclusion." There's that half-squinting expression again, which (she supposes) for most people meant 'I'm confused' and for Sasuke-kun meant 'wtf'. She's not used to this high-blown language herself, but he seems half-amused, and she likes that.
"I – am not the average human being, a fact of which I know you are aware, and I will thank you not to lump me together with the rest of mediocrity in the future." She wonders if he's mocking her, because Sasuke-kun does not speak like this (or speak in general.) But – Sasuke-kun, she thinks again, and cannot be certain. Elitist meanie, she thinks, and is reassured, because Sasuke-kun is such a curmudgeon, and she wonders what it would be like to grow old with him?
"You are the reason why even some herbivores eat their young."
"The price of genius is often – "
"...Aa. We'll go with that if it makes you happy."
"You've never cared for my happiness."
"You sound bitter, there, Sakura-chan. But certainly I have. It makes you happy to think that I care for your happiness, and so I let you indulge in your little fantasies and labor under such delusions –" And he is mocking her, because he's included grandiose hand-gestures – but there's no furrow between his brows, replaced by something extraordinarily clear and bright and gentle in his eyes. And she wonders exactly what he means, because Sasuke does not mock the truth.
"At very little personal cost."
"We are all humanitarians, Sakura, do not think otherwise – some of us are just more capitalistic about it than others."
"You're very full of yourself."
"And you're looking rather pretty today. Come along – I have class in twenty minutes, and I don't want to be late if I'm walking you home."
"Oh – wait – but you don't – " She's confused, terribly, terribly confused, because hadn't he just – and pretty? –
He sighs, impatient, "Look, I pass your house, and you're pretty efficient as far as anti-fangirl charms go. I'm not doing this because I'm madly in love with you so don't get any ideas – why are you making that face at me?"
"Women are complicated creatures, Sasuke-kun."
Later, she comes to his meet Friday, and it does rain, and he scowls at her and asks why she's there, as if she doesn't come to every one of his meets. She smiles perkily at him, because Sakura-chan is a cheerful girl and Sasuke-kun deserves to be smiled at, even if that does end in a preposition. Later, he shoves his umbrella at her, and snarls that he's already wet anyway and he's not being a gentleman, she's just being stupid, showing up, and why is she making that face at him? Later, she takes him by the wrist and he snarls some more and calls her "so damned annoying." But when she drags him to jump into puddles with her, he doesn't pull away, doesn't pull back, doesn't refuse. Later, she returns his umbrella and he asks her why she's making that face again. (I – hope, Sasuke-kun. Hope.) He calls her annoying and doesn't try very hard to hide the small smile that somehow slips out.
And later, forever, she pours him coffee and he walks her home.
So, yes, Sasuke runs cross-country, if any of you were confused, because he's insane and hardcore. And the whole "reverse engineering and nondeterministic trajectory" crap is about computer engineering, which is what Sasuke studies, because, you know, computer programming Java and coffee Java and I make the worst puns EVAR.
Right. Um - review?