The Best Bad Day of My Life... Take care what you ask for. Naruto makes a bet with Sakura... Just how hard can it be to avoid someone who's always ignoring you anyway? Sasuke+Sakura. Implied Neji+Tenten, Naruto+Hinata, Shikamaru+Ino, and Kakashi+Kurenai. Loosely implied Tsunade+Shizune.

---------- The Best Bad Day of My Life ----------

"I can't believe that Ojii-chan mistook me for a pumpkin," muttered Naruto somewhat dejectedly. Such an excellent opening line for a story, but anyway -- Kakashi, Sasuke, Sakura, and Naruto were returning to Konohagakure from a rather boring mission that Tsunade had assigned them.

Silence had become commonplace amongst the four person team at some point after that sixty year old farmer had tried to bash a particular teenage Uzumaki boy in the head with a shovel, crying out the very panicked, "Evil mutant pumpkin! I told them! I told them all that they were real!" While Sasuke and Sakura got Naruto to safety by driving back the evil mutant pumpkin out of the old nut case's house, Kakashi tried to explain that they were the ones he had hired. It had been a rather... eventful day, to say the least.

Still, regardless of all that, Sakura felt happy and the like. It was nice to do missions as a team; for a long time, she had begun to wonder if Team 7 would ever be whole again. It was a long story how they got Sasuke back from Orochimaru, and Sakura didn't feel like thinking about it. Anyway, suffice it to say that they had done just that and everything was pretty much back to normal.

Except...

Sakura had felt slightly uncomfortable around Sasuke lately, probably because Sasuke seemed to feel out of place around Konoha. She still talked to him the same way, smiled and called him Sasuke-kun, and even asked him out once or twice. It wasn't so common anymore, and she had pretty much stopped being pushy -- she was tired of making him feel uncomfortable or agitated with her by pursuing a relationship with him. That didn't mean she didn't want one, she just hadn't driven it to a deep, deep hole in the ground.

As the four stopped just inside Konoha's main gate, Kakashi bid his students goodbye and whooshed himself away to Kurenai knows where. Sasuke, Sakura, and Naruto stood there for but a second before Sakura broke the uneasy silence.

"Ah, Sasuke-kun. Do you want to come with me to get something to eat?" she asked with a cheerful smile that caused Sasuke to avert his eyes to a less interesting tree. Naruto raised an eyebrow when Sakura's expression fell a bit and Sasuke started to walk away.

"No thanks," he muttered, as one would expect from the raven haired Uchiha, "Can't you ever just leave me alone?"

Sakura felt her heart crack down the middle. She frowned sadly as Sasuke disappeared from sight, and she suddenly feeling like moping. Naruto observed her depression quietly as she turned to go home herself. However, a Naruto that had been plotting something sinister(not literally -- it wasn't that bad) spoke up just in time to catch the emerald eyed kunoichi's attention.

"Hey, Sakura-chan!" he exclaimed, folding his arms behind his head like a pillow. Sakura glanced back over her left shoulder at the blonde haired nitwit, a somewhat dejected frown placed on her lips.

"Eh?" she mumbled, waiting for the boy who'd been like a very irritating little brother to her to say whatever he had to say so she could go on about her day. Naruto closed his eyes for a second before cracking a grin.

"I'll make a bet with you," he suggested, extending an index finger and looking downright confident. Sakura turned around and placed her hands on her hips to implore him to spit it out. He realized and prepared to speak. This was going to be very risky, as he was about to put everything on the line...

"If you can avoid Sasuke entirely for one whole day -- twenty four hours -- then I won't eat ramen for a week! And if you don't accept the bet, then I'm gonna tell Tsunade Obaa-chan your little secret!" he said, drawing a gasp of surprise from his pink haired friend. She had no choice, but what kind of terms were these? He would give up ramen? His very source of survival? To make her... avoid Sasuke? This confused her.

"And if I fail?" Sakura raised an eyebrow. She didn't really get how Naruto eating ramen affected her, but she may be able to negotiate. She had to come up with something after all -- she certainly couldn't let Tsunade find out about that...

"You have to buy me a whole week's supply of ramen!" announced Naruto and Sakura frowned a bit. That would cost her whole payment from this last mission... His deal wasn't quite to her tastes yet. Naruto realized that and waited to hear her conditions.

"If I succeed, I get to tell you what to do for a whole month," she bargained. Naruto seemed slightly thoughtful, before a sly smirk caught his fox like expression.

"If you fail, you have to kiss Sasuke!" he daunted, folding his arms. Sakura blushed a bit before narrowing her eyes.

"Fine! And also if I fail, then you have to ask Hinata out on a date!" she retorted, making Naruto rub his chin a bit. It seemed like a lose-lose situation for him, but he'd been planning to ask Hinata out on a date anyway.

Things were definitely in his favor. "You drive a hard bargain, but it's done! So if you succeed, I eat no ramen for a week and you tell me what to do for a month. If you fail," he paused for a second, making a look of realization dawn on Sakura's face, "You buy me a week's supply of ramen, I ask Hinata out, and you have to kiss Sasuke!"

And he was off... to eat ramen. He left the poor girl with only a few parting words, "The bet starts tomorrow at 8:00 A.M.! Remember, you can't ask him out or anything and absolutely no Sasuke-kuns... Good luck!"

Sakura fell onto a nearby bench when she realized just what she'd agreed to. She had to ignore Sasuke completely for one whole day; she couldn't call him Sasuke-kun, she couldn't even look at him... The magnitude of their bargain was a lot heavier than it had first seemed. If she were to lose, she not only had to forfeit a lot of money to buy ramen, but she also had to... to... to do something unthinkable. She had to do something that Sasuke would never allow. She had to... kiss him.

So, she just had to win... right?

It couldn't possibly be too hard to avoid someone who always ignored her anyway... right?

Right?

Covering her face with her hands, she groaned inwardly.

"I'm doomed."

-----

At 8:05 A.M. the next morning...

It was already a dreary day when Sakura approached that ever so familiar little bridge where Sasuke already waited. Naruto hadn't made it yet, but Sasuke was early as usual. She frowned as her little bet with Naruto played over and over in her head like a broken record. This was going to be a very, very bad day. But, she just had to ignore him, right?

Walking onto the bridge, she leaned her forearms onto the railing to stare out at the water and smiled as she let the sudden breeze toss her short pink hair about. Sasuke watched her with little apparent interest in her presence. Something was strange though -- she hadn't even greeted him. She hadn't offered him a big smile and said good morning... She just walked by him and started staring at the water.

Somehow, for some unknown reason, he felt a little bit offended.

Was something wrong with her? Did she have a secret she wasn't telling him? Had she gotten a boyfriend or something? Sasuke felt his stomach churn slightly and his eyes narrow a bit as he stared at her back a bit uncomfortably. "Hn," he voiced aloud, surprised when Sakura didn't glance back over her shoulder to ask if there was something on his mind.

He couldn't take this silent treatment. A bead of sweat perspired on his forehead as he swallowed and prepared to speak himself. He had to find out what was going on, as much as he knew he would probably regret it later. "Sakura," said Sasuke simply. However, the sound of her name didn't get any reaction at all from the floral named kunoichi.

Sasuke's frown deepened a bit when he realized that she had ignored his statement. His heart was pounding as he restrained the urge to yell and get her attention. Then he heard... what was that? Humming? She was humming to herself! She was definitely keeping something from him. If she had decided to date Naruto or that green clad weirdo, he was going to kill them...

Wait, why would he kill them?

For that matter, what reason would he have to inflict harm upon their frail masses in general?

Because of Sakura?

Sasuke had no idea what was wrong with him, but he was beginning to concern himself a little too much over something trivial. Sakura just hadn't heard him. That was why she didn't say anything. He just had to speak louder...

"Oi, Sakura," he repeated her name, this time causing her to glance back at him only slightly, her smile fading into a serious frown.

"What is it, Sasuke?" she inquired in a very plain voice. Sasuke felt his stomach swirl as his lips parted. He was appalled and confused all at once as his mind raced to figure out what was happening. Had she just called him Sasuke? She always called him Sasuke-kun, how could she call him anything else?

"What's going on?" he queried, folding his arms.

Sakura raised an eyebrow. "What do you mean?" she asked, genuinely not knowing what he was talking about. She would have figured he'd be overjoyed that she wasn't annoying him today. He had asked why she wouldn't ever leave him alone. But instead, he was trying to talk to her? Things really had gotten skewed by that bet...

But this had nothing to do with that. Oh, no. This was about Sasuke acting weird. What was his problem suddenly?

"Why didn't you answer me before?" he asked, allowing himself to calm down a little. Maybe he'd been right, maybe he'd just been imagining things or maybe Sakura just hadn't heard him. He watched as she turned back around to look up at the pretty blue sky.

"I wasn't paying attention. Was it important?"

Sasuke felt his lip trembling. Normally, anything he said would be important to her. Had Sakura found someone? Had she gotten over him? Sasuke's train of thought stopped on that one. What if she had gotten over him? What if she didn't like him anymore? He turned to grip the railing in his hands, casting his ebony eyes down toward the water below.

Had he lost Sakura?

Lost? He'd never had her to begin with. She had always had a crush on him, but he didn't reciprocate those feelings. So, why would it bother him if she was over him? Maybe he had taken her crush for granted. He had never even considered the possibility that she would just... stop liking him...

It wasn't terribly long before Naruto showed up with a silly grin, and then about an hour later, Kakashi appeared with Icha Icha in hand. As soon as he looked at his team, he knew that something was going on between them. Sasuke seemed upset about something and Sakura seemed to be... ignoring Sasuke? What was weird about that?

He didn't heed it a lot outwardly, but he knew that he had to do something. Putting Icha Icha away, he stuffed his hands in his pockets and spoke up to get everyone's collective attention. "We have a training mission today since there is nothing Godaime Hokage-sama needs done. Training Ground #8."

No complaints arose, not until Kakashi got to the next part of their little training mission. He curled his eye into a smile as he continued to speak through that perma-mask of his. "We'll be teamed in pairs of two. Sasuke will be Sakura's sparring partner, and Naruto will be mine," he assigned. Sakura felt a whole new wave of dread wash over her, and Naruto decided then that she wouldn't be able to succeed at avoiding Sasuke. She had no choice but to spend time with him, so she would slip up at some point...

Swallowing, she raised her hand. Kakashi nodded to implore her to speak. She bit down a little on her bottom lip before asking, "Um, can Naruto and I switch partners?" Sasuke felt that odd feeling in the pit of his stomach again.

She out right wanted to avoid him.

Kakashi didn't have to think before replying, "Nope. That's your assignment, so live with it." He watched as Sakura's expression dropped. What was wrong with her? Normally, she would have seen this as an opportunity to spend time with Sasuke. He had to find out if Naruto knew what was going on, because he knew something was going on.

Oh, and something it was, indeed.

So, the four headed to the appropriate training grounds, and the two assigned pairs split up so they were just far enough apart to be out of one another's sight. Sakura felt her heartbeat speed up when she realized that she was alone with Sasuke; it was such a shame that this was the very day she couldn't spend time with him.

Sasuke frowned just slightly as he slipped into a loose fighting stance. Sakura bit down a little on her tongue; she didn't want to fight him -- even if it was just sparring. He looked so serious, and she had to do the same. Swallowing her discomfort with this, she took a stance of her own.

"Koi," muttered Sasuke, motioning for her to come at him. She complied, running in and throwing a right punch. He threw up his left arm to block before dropping into a sweep kick that Sakura hopped over to avoid. She then attempted a left backhand that he ducked under before bringing up his left leg in a knee kick. Sakura pushed both of her arms downward in a descending block to stop it from connecting, before backing up and attempting a right side kick.

Catching her leg in one hand, Sasuke pulled it slightly causing Sakura to stagger. As she attempted to regain her balance, he grabbed both of her shoulders and pushed her down, planting her back against the grass. A little flustered, Sakura pushed his hands off and spun around to lock her legs around his back, somehow using plot protection to flip him over onto it. He quickly sat back up into a kneel and caught the elbow Sakura shoved toward his stomach, before bringing his right leg around in a kick. Unable to block, Sakura squinted and braced, but was hit with nothing in this purposely poorly coordinated fight scene.

After a second of quiet, she cracked her eyes back open to see that Sasuke was staring at her with his usual frown of dismissal, a small gleam of what she almost identified as curiosity evident on his face. He seemed to be glaring right through her, obviously done with the whole sparring thing.

"Are you hiding something from me?" he asked, abruptly. Sakura turned away and quickly tried to think of something. She couldn't exactly tell him about the bet -- then he would know she was still the same annoying girl she always had been. Maybe if she could ignore him all day, he would be proud of her... or something.

"N--No, of course not, Sasuke. What would I be hiding?" she asked. There it was again. No kun, dang it.

"Hn," muttered Sasuke as he pushed himself up to a standing position. If she wouldn't tell him, he'd just have to find out some other way. Maybe if he followed her all day...

That would be the plan.

Meanwhile, Kakashi interrogated Naruto.

"What's going on with Sasuke and Sakura?" he asked bluntly the minute they were away from the two aforementioned ninjas. Naruto rubbed the back of his neck and laughed nervously. Kakashi didn't budge and just waited.

"Sakura-chan and I... kind of made a bet," he admitted rather easily. Kakashi raised his only visible eyebrow, and Naruto finished explaining the little plan. Kakashi, now well informed, shook his head -- he had to let the others know, too. Sasuke was now the only member of their team who didn't know -- he kind of felt bad for the boy...

"I see. No wonder Sasuke is confused," he observed. I'll have to see how this goes... he decided, before choosing to call off the training(he would just tell everyone that he had other business -- which, he would have very soon)...

-----

Sakura felt her shoulders slump as she stopped walking in front of the park, lowering her eyes to the ground as she allowed her thoughts to drift onto the matter of Sasuke. Maybe he really would like her better if she were more distant; she wasn't sure she could stand acting so... dismissive around him all the time though. She was still a good seventeen hours or so away from succeeding. It was hard to believe that she'd only managed to keep this stupid charade up for seven hours...

Up on top of a nearby building, Sasuke watched Sakura in interest. He'd been following her ever since Kakashi had left to attend some kind of business, but he hadn't noticed anything outstandingly suspicious. She had stopped by the flower shop and talked to Ino(and Shikamaru, though Sasuke had no idea why he would be at a flower shop), she had bumped into Tenten and Neji(who seemed to be on a date, not that Sasuke particularly cared about that), and she had even ran into Hinata long enough to talk about Naruto for a while(that Hyuuga was such an odd girl, with strange hair, and weird tastes... she was perfect for Naruto).

Everything seemed pretty normal, other than the fact that Sakura seemed kind of... depressed. Had something happened to her? Maybe she was... it couldn't be. Maybe it was because he had said he wanted her to leave him alone. Maybe she was finally tired of him acting cold to her. Maybe she was finally tired of him saying no every time she asked him for anything. Maybe she was tired of his rudeness. Maybe she was just plain tired of him.

It was then that the bewildered Uchiha decided he had to do something. Now, if he could only figure out what that would be...

Sakura groaned as she leaned her head against a tree, her eyes falling closed. She just had to continue doing this for the rest of the day, then she would be off the hook. Maybe she wouldn't even see Sasuke for the rest of the day...

Little luck, the poor Haruno girl had.

She had just started to walk into the park when Sasuke appeared less than two feet in front of her, hands stuffed in his pockets, and wearing his trademark expression. "Oh, hi Sasuke. I need to get home--" she began quickly.

"It's only three o'clock," he cut in, narrowing his eyes sharply. Sakura panicked a bit and began glancing around nervously. She had to figure out some way to get away from him...

"Sakura."

"W--What?" she asked a little uneasily, still avoiding eye contact to the best of her ability. Sasuke's lips curled into an impatient frown.

"Let's take a walk," he suggested, nudging his head toward the park. Sakura could have sworn her heart stopped; had Sasuke just willingly asked her to spend time with him? Something was off, there had to be some kind of catch... Well of course, the catch was that she couldn't go anywhere with him. She wouldn't have been surprised if Naruto had put him up to it -- not that he would have done anything Naruto told him to. She was getting way off subject.

Shaking herself out of her stupor, Sakura shook her head negatively and started to brush past her teammate. "No thank you; I'll see you tomor--" she began, but paused when she felt something constricting around her wrist. She glanced down to see that Sasuke had caught her hand and was staring down a path in the park. Her cheeks flushed a lovely shade of pink when Sasuke gently tugged on her hand to make her follow.

"I won't take much time," he promised, hating himself for saying it. It was like he was the one craving her attention -- it was so unlike him, but then her behavior was so unlike her. Maybe he really had lost his mind -- maybe he'd lost his mind years ago and just hadn't realized it yet. Or maybe he had realized it, but didn't really care. He ignored the little thought and just walked, pleased when Sakura didn't try to pull back or anything, allowing him to lead her.

Sasuke swallowed nervously as he felt sweat perspiring on his head -- he wouldn't have been terribly surprised if it exploded. This wasn't going to be easy; in fact, it was probably going to be the first time he'd ever apologized to anyone. He wasn't happy about that, but he had to do something before Sakura distanced herself from him completely. Honestly, whether or not he wanted to admit it out loud, he did have some admiration for her. He was proud of her development, he was glad to be back around her, and maybe he even... liked her a little.

Just a little.

Or maybe he even liked her... a lot.

Just maybe.

After walking a considerable distance, Sasuke stopped and bowed his head a bit. "Sakura, I... I'm..." he stammered, not really sure how to say it. Sakura tilted her head a bit and blinked a couple of times, not sure where this odd behavior of Sasuke's was coming from. She'd never seen him so flustered. "What I'm trying to say is..."

"I'm sorry."

Sakura's lips quivered a bit and she suddenly felt a bit faint; it wasn't possible. Sasuke was apologizing... to her? The world must have ended or something -- or maybe she was just dreaming. No, that wasn't it. Sasuke's hand felt too real. What if Naruto was watching? He would surely use this to declare himself the winner of their bet...

"Why won't you say anything?" he asked finally and Sakura blushed, just realizing that she hadn't said a word. Why was this so important to him, anyway? "Why have you been ignoring me? Do you... hate me?" He didn't even think about what he was saying before he had already said it -- a tip he hadn't wanted to pick up from Naruto. He chose to wait and hear her answer, since he'd already asked the question...

"N--No, of course I don't! How could you even think that," she murmured the last part, knowing exactly how he could. She'd been ignoring him and trying her best to avoid spending time with him. At any other time, she would have been overjoyed for the chance to spend two minutes like this, but now...

"Why have you been avoiding me, and why did you change what you call me?" he continued his questions as he turned toward the pink haired girl, piquing her curiosity. She hadn't figured he'd ever even paid attention to the little kun on his name; she'd gotten so used to saying it, she was pretty sure that's why she felt so weird...

She sighed before starting to ask, "Why is this so important--"

Before she could say anything else, Sasuke caught both of her wrists and pulled her close enough to place their lips together. Sakura gasped slightly in surprise, her thoughts going haywire trying to figure everything out. She found it hard to believe that any of this was really happening, but then... Sasuke had just kissed her, or maybe not. Maybe she was hallucinating, but it sure seemed real... Her cheeks immediately lit up the instant realization dawned on her. Well, so she'd definitely lost the bet -- but she'd technically just paid for part of it...

Pulling back, Sasuke did his best to decipher what he'd just done. He hadn't expected to do anything that rash; after all, kissing was one of those bad things that would make him weaker. There were so many things like that -- things that made him weaker(like Sakura)... or did they? Maybe he just thought they did...

"Sasuke-kun..." Sakura mumbled, and Sasuke felt himself relax a little. Ah, that sounded better. He sighed inaudibly before averting his eyes from hers.

"I... care... about you," he admitted quietly, somehow managing to find those precious little words. Sakura's mind swirled as she tried to comprehend everything that was happening... He did seem mildly uncomfortable, talking about such a sensitive subject though. It was like he was doing what he was doing as a last resort.

She had to ask, "Sasuke-kun... Is this because I was trying to avoid you? I didn't think you would care--"

"Did you think I wouldn't notice that your personality completely changed? I was starting to get concerned," said Sasuke, barely above a whisper. "I didn't know if it was because of something I did or said. It was driving me crazy."

"I'm glad to know I have such an effect on you," she said with a more characteristic smile and a wink. Sasuke frowned a little.

"Hn."

"So... do you want to get something to eat?" she asked, clasping her hands together behind her back. Sasuke seemed to think about it for just a second.

"No."

Sakura's expression dropped a little; how did she know he would say that... Maybe nothing had changed at all, even after all of that...

"Sakura."

"Hm?"

"Do you want to get something to eat?" he repeated her question, confusing the heck out of her. If it was anyone but Sasuke, she would have slapped her forehead at the idiocy. But whatever, she didn't mind accepting it.

"Yes, I do," she said, her lips curving back up into a happy smile... "This is the best bad day of my life..."

-----

"I didn't expect him to actually start following her," muttered Kurenai as she, Kakashi, Gai, Neji, Tenten, and Lee all sat atop the building adjacent to the Ichiraku ramen(where Naruto and Hinata just happened to be getting a bite to eat). Kakashi flipped the page in his book, before sneaking a quick glance at Kurenai.

Gai and Lee exchanged Nice Guy poses(complete with gleaming teeth). "That is the power of youth! The young pebble could not bare the change in the tide and took to fixing the river!" Gai announced, losing everyone present but Lee, who seemed very adamant in agreeing.

Neji sighed as Tenten yawned. "Are we done here, yet? I want to go back to training..." he said, bringing a smile to Tenten's face. She liked training, because it gave her plenty of time to spend with Neji. She had already managed to get his attention and they were kind of dating now, but maybe the whole avoiding thing could work out even better for her...

"Hey, Kakashi said that Naruto said that Sakura was keeping some kind of secret from Tsunade," mentioned Kurenai, "What... was it?"

Neji pulled out the aforementioned secret and handed it to Kakashi before dismissing himself from the roof along with Tenten. Kakashi held the picture up so Kurenai could see it. Her eyes widened a little and she blushed faintly.

"I--I--It's... Godaime Hokage-sama..."

Kakashi's eye curled into a smile.

"... And Shizune..." he finished for her before patting her on the back to get her to regain her composure. She had been in for some shocks before, but... wow.

"Sakura apparently took it to prove something to Naruto and Ino about Godaime-sama. She was very worried that if the Hokage found out about it, she would be in trouble," explained Kakashi. "That's why Sakura couldn't refuse the bet.

Kurenai laughed slightly. "I wonder what would happen if I showed everyone that one picture I have of you--"

"NO!" Kakashi uncharacteristically yelled and waved his arms about frantically. "Have you forgotten why I wear this mask?" he asked, holding his hands over the dark covering for added effect. Kurenai seemed a bit amused by that.

"To hide your face. Why else would anyone want to wear a mask?" she inquired calmly. Kakashi allowed the subject to fall like a rock tied to an anvil by a chain under gravity twice as heavy as theirs from the top of a twenty story building during a rain shower.

He then continued to read Icha Icha as Kurenai lowered her eyes to the young girl she thought of like an adopted daughter. She was really very happy for Hinata and Naruto -- they made a nice couple. They seemed so happy.

"But, you know..." Kurenai started to speak once again, once again drawing Kakashi's attention. He turned his head lazily toward her.

"I wonder why Tsunade has to ask Shizune to cook for her. As Godaime, she should know how to prepare a simple meal..." she muttered, her thoughts drifting back to that picture, "And I wonder why Sakura was so worried about Tsunade finding out that she took that picture..." Kakashi returned his eye to his book, happily reading.

She certainly wouldn't have been saying that if she had seen the other picture...

---------- Owari: The End ----------

Disclaimer & Copyright Information:
I do not own Naruto (© Kishimoto Masashi); however, I am the author of this story. If you have comments or suggestions, leave a review or send me an e-mail. Doumo arigatou, for reading my writing!