Disclaimer: Not mine. And I have no money.
Symbols of Femininity
In Which Girls Talk
It was an enjoyable mission, full of danger, excitement, and giggles. Only three kunoichi of their caliber could pull it off correctly. With a smile here and a twitch of clothing there, their opponents fell one after another. Only they were left. Only they were victorious.
Haruno Sakura surveyed her reflection carefully. The emerald green dress she'd battled over her hips now clung to her waist. In made her appear slender and hid the bloating that she knew was there. Her clean hair was soft and pink curls swayed about her face teasingly, the strands brushing a meticulously powdered face. She brushed them back with manicured fingers and smiled reddened lips contentedly.
Looking to her right, the medic saw her best friend, Yamanaka Ino, pulling her last blue ribbon tight through her white dress. Instead of clinging to her waist, it was tight across her chest, making her bosom appear even shapelier. Her hair was up in a curling mass upon her head with a few tendrils framing her face. Her blue eyes nearly popped out of her head with a white dress shot through with ribbons that matched them.
To her left, the white eyed Hyuuga heir was nervously dabbing the last of her lip gloss on. A grey silver sleeveless sheath wrapped her body and she was scared of what the reaction would be when people saw her. Normally conservative, she was obviously feeling exposed in the dress her friends had found for her. Her make-up was almost nonexistent, opting for a barely there feel. Her hair was still short enough that not much could be done, but they'd weaved silver ribbons throughout it to hold it out of her face.
Gazing into her own mirror again, Sakura grinned mischievously. They were ready. "There's a party happening out there girls."
Ino met her eyes in the reflection. "It's just needing us to be perfect." She blew a kiss at the mirror.
Hinata stayed hesitant. "I don't know. Maybe I should change." She pulled at the side of her dress, fidgeting.
Ino turned to stare at the smaller girl. "Are you kidding? You look fantastic! After all the trouble we had getting you in that dress, there's no way I'm letting you out without seeing some reaction from those blunderheads you call teammates." She pointed at Hinata's hair. "And those ribbons! Don't even get me started."
Hinata swallowed and nodded.
Sakura had watched all this with a calculating gaze and now she gave a small smile. "Who are you nervous about seeing tonight? Which one of the boys is it you are crushing on?"
Pushing a finger into the air Sakura declared, "Alright. Process of elimination!" Thinking hard, she decided, "It's not Chouji. As far as I know, your interaction with him is minimal."
Ino watched, interested, as Sakura began to slowly pace in the dressing room they were in. Hinata looked like she wished she could disappear into the floor.
"It may be Shikamaru… I can see how you'd admire and respect him." She paused delicately. "Also, he's incredibly hot in those netted shirts."
Sakura spared Ino a glance before going on. "I'm pretty certain its not Sasuke. I believe you would find him more intimidating than attractive…"
A delicate pink eyebrow raised. "Really?" When the shy girl nodded, both other girls broke off into hysterical laughter. "Okay then. You think Sasuke's hot." She tapped a finger against her lips. "However, I'm sure he's not who you are nervous about seeing—"
A knock came at the door and Sakura moved to answer it.
Seeing her friend occupied, Ino gladly took up the game. "So I think that leaves Kiba, Shino, and Na—"
Hinata was a deep red and Ino was thoughtful as they turned to Sakura's shout.
She was pointing a finger at her blond teammate and was a little red in the face. "I don't care if the sign says girl's dressing room. Just because you do that disgusting jutsu of yours doesn't mean you have the right to come in!"
Said blond teammate was currently female and attached to Sakura's arm. The boy's clothes looked ready to pop off the busty female at any moment and the kunoichi seemed desperate to get him out of the room. "C'mon, Sakura-chan. Can't I get ready with you other girls? The guys are giving me a hard time."
"No! I am not going to hide you from the others. You probably deserve whatever it is they do. You probably pulled some prank on Sasuke and made him mad." She detached him from her arm. In a poof he was male again and leaning up against the door, nearly towering over her.
He had grown since graduating from the academy. That obnoxious foxy prankster kid with the sad past was now a perpetually in trouble teen with bright blue eyes and a beautiful happy disposition. He made it no secret that his team saved him from turning down a lonesome path. They had become family to him.
Sakura was both happy and sad about this facet of life in Team 7. It was good that he wasn't chasing her with proclamations of love everyday now. He confessed to seeing her as a great sister. His female twin. It was bad in that if she saw him as a brother, it was a hot one. A devilishly attractive brother that she wished she weren't related to. He had caused her no end of grief by shamelessly flirting one minute then turning into an understanding brother the next. Her hormones could barely keep up.
At the present moment though, he was aggravating one of her last nerves allotted for the day. Trying to sneak into the girls' dressing room was not acceptable. He was going to have to learn that sometimes she needed time with just girls like Ino and Hinata. No matter how much Ino bitched and how much Hinata blushed… Hinata!
Twirling, Sakura stared at the young Hyuuga with gauging eyes. She was beet red and pushing her two index fingers together. Eyes averted, she was trying to make it not obvious that she was watching the blond in the mirror. He didn't even notice. Sakura and Ino did. The blond girl looked close to exploding.
Turning back to her teammate, the pink haired medic bestowed a dazzling smile on him. He straightened from leaning on the doorframe and smiled tentatively back. "Ready to go?"
'Hmm'ing to herself, Sakura shook her head. "Sorry Naruto, Hinata still needs a little work. We'll be down in a few minutes."
Leaning around her, he looked at the shy girl. When she met his eyes he flashed a daring smile. She twirled away from him to face a knowing Ino who put a hand out to steady the girl. "You all look beautiful." He winked at Ino and looked back down at Sakura. "The gang is getting restless without their ladies, Sakura-chan. Kiba was saying that you all looked fine when you got here." He raked a hand through his blond hair. "How much longer do you think you will be?"
Thinking quick, Sakura put a hand on his chest and pushed gently. "Just ten minutes, Naruto. If we're not back in ten minutes, you guys start the party without us."
He nodded and began to walk away. After a few steps he turned back and smiled softly at her. "You do look great tonight," he said. "All three of you."
She returned the smile, a small blush fighting its way onto her cheeks. "Thanks, Naruto. That will help."
He nodded one last time and walked off, hands slipping inside his pockets.
Closing the door, Sakura took a second and leaned on it, sighing. His butt looked great in the pants she'd gotten him last Christmas! Shaking her head, the medic turned her mind to other matters.
Ino's voice held enough surprise for both of them.
Advancing on the slowly nodding girl, Sakura looked around for something orange while Ino began pushing her sleeves up her arms.
Preparing for a party with all the Rookie Nine had been their mission but it seemed the parameters for success had changed. It was obvious that they would get paid best by making Naruto notice Hinata at least once tonight without the girl fainting.
The night was over. The party a success. Naruto was walking a blushing Hinata home. All other boys had gone without breaking into fights. Ino and Sakura were now soaking in the tub at Ino's parent's house cheering their happiness.
It was all quiet for awhile until Sakura sighed. Lazily Ino looked at her friend. Seeing the look on her face, Ino asked, "What's wrong, forehead? Hinata's being walked home by Naruto, Sasuke didn't call you worthless, and Chouji graciously gave up the last chip to Kiba tonight." She stretched her arms above her head. "Great success for the Rookie Nine's 5th birthday, I'd say."
Sakura didn't turn to look at her ex-rival. The Rookie Nine's 5th birthday. That's right. We all became Genin together 5 years ago. I was 12 and naïve. So much has happened since then. Our teams have been through so much. And yet… She took a deep breath. "Ne, Ino-pig?"
Ino paused in the middle of a back stretch. "Hmmm?"
Green eyes closed. "Do Chouji and Shikamaru treat you different?"
There was a small splash as Ino's hands hit the water. "What do you mean? Different because we're at the end of puberty? Because I'm a kunoichi? Because they've known me since we were kids?"
Sakura waved a hand to encompass it all. "Yea. That."
Ino's eyebrow lifted. "That's a question out of the blue, forehead." Leaning forward, she asked, "Trouble in Team 7?"
"I don't know," the medic replied. "Maybe." She hung her head. "I'm afraid they don't treat me like…"
"Like a medic?"
Sakura shook her head.
"Like a sister?"
Sakura shook her head a little slower.
"Like a woman?"
Sakura stayed still.
Ino leaned back. "This is deep, forehead." Her blond head fell back on the edge of the tub. "Let me think a minute."
Things were quiet for awhile again. Ino had picked up on Shikamaru's habit of thinking through things. Not all things like the Nara did. Just the important ones. And this was important.
When Sakura started thinking about leaving the tub due to pruny skin, Ino's blue eyes popped open. "I can't help you." And she got out, leaving behind a gaping pink haired girl.
Taking a moment to recover, Sakura jumped out after the blond and twirled a towel around her body just in time. Ino opened the door to the bathroom and walked down the hall, her own light pink towel covering her. Practically chasing her friend, Sakura slid into the bedroom and stared hard at Ino.
"That's it?" she nearly screeched. "That's all you have to say?" When she got no response, Sakura suppressed the urge to smash furniture. "Ino-pig! This is important to me!"
Ino pulled on a nightshirt and sat on the edge of her bed, toweling her hair. "I know it's important, Sakura. And I wish there were something I could do, but there isn't. This is a problem every team has to face their own way."
Nearly pouting, Sakura sat on the bed beside her. "What do you mean?"
Ino met her eyes from under the towel. "What do you think happened tonight when Naruto started coming onto Hinata?"
A smirk crossed Sakura's face as she remembered. "Kiba almost spit out his drink and I think Shino was glaring for the rest of the night."
Ino shared the humor even as she disagreed. "That's not all though." Sakura looked confused. "They realized that their little Hinata is a woman." She checked herself. "Or she will be someday soon."
Sakura shook her head. "I don't follow. She's always been a woman. We all have."
Ino raised a finger. "Uh-uh. We have always been girls. Our dear boys know how to handle us as girls. That's what they are used to."
The other kunoichi was beginning to understand. "They don't know us as women…" Well, wasn't that just a can of worms?
Ino nodded. "My team knows me and accepts me. You saw tonight Hinata's is well on its way. All circumstances in consideration, it makes sense that Team 7 would be behind."
"We haven't been complete for as long."
Ino grimaced at Sakura's low voice. Turning, she threw her friend an extra nightshirt to wear. "Well, you're complete now. It's time you caught up to the rest of us." Punching Sakura in the arm as she passed, Ino went to turn out the light. "You show those men of yours that you are a woman they should be proud of."
Sakura slowly pulled the shirt on, pulling off the towel and throwing it in the corner. Naruto, Sasuke, Kakashi… Show them I'm a woman? How the hell do I do that? Inner Sakura held no answers. Ino was crawling into bed and would no longer talk.
How was she supposed to show a pervert, a prankster, and a returned traitor that she was a mature woman?
As she was drifting off to sleep, the only answer she had come up with was bashing all their skulls in with her strength until they recognized that she was an equal.