Just What I Needed 2
Author's Note: THIS IS THE END! GAH! So weird. Thanks to...well, EVERYONE, of course, including Dana, Claire, Frumpy, and the reviewers who were so sweet and helpful. This story took OVER FOUR YEARS to finish. I'm glad I went in this direction instead of pursuing the whole dark Itachi deal. There are a lot of things I regret about this story, but I'm glad I wrote it. Once again, thank you to everyone!
"Hey, wait a second, guys. Sai's mom is calling me!" Naruto called as they flew through a red light. Jeers and various "your mom" jokes were passed as Naruto attempted to block them out.
"Hello, this is Uzumaki!" He yelled above the din that everyone else was making. "What? Beach house? Wh-where?!" Naruto cried frantically. He set the phone down for a second. "Guys, she said he finally picked up his phone!" He rejoiced, and brought the phone back to his ear. "Alrighty, so...okay...left onto the interstate...okay..." Naruto repeated the directions out loud so everyone else could hear them. When he hung up, Kiba grumbled in irritation.
"That's in the opposite direction! Damn, that's gotta be at least a four hour drive!" He groaned. Shikamaru sighed loudly.
"Troublesome..." He muttered.
Sasuke said nothing; he was too busy making a u turn in the middle of the road, causing at least three accidents as he went. Shino, Chouji, Neji, Hinata, Naruto, and Shikamaru winced, clutching whatever and whoever they could. Meanwhile, Lee, Kiba, and Akamaru were thrown across the back, screaming as they went.
"It was a good choice, putting them in the back. I don't think I could handle the noise otherwise." Neji commented. Seeing as he was squished in between the door and Chouji's formidable girth, he was quite safe and barely had to hold on.
"Why don't we just meet Sai and Sakura halfway, and take Sakura home from there?" Shino's muffled voice came. Naruto nodded enthusiastically.
"Good idea, Bugs!" He called. Shino's knuckles bleached.
"I told you not to call me that..." He warned darkly. Naruto grinned stupidly, and Hinata sighed.
"Call you what? Bugs?" He asked in total oblivion. Shino smacked his forehead, but abandoned pursuing a better nickname.
They got ahold of Sai's cell phone number and arranged to meet halfway at a small cafe. Everyone cheered, mainly because that meant less driving. Meanwhile, Sasuke's stomach was in knots.
What he wanted to do was kill Sai and take Sakura and kiss her, but...he couldn't just go and do that, for obvious reasons. She was probably furious with him and didn't want him anywhere near her. Maybe she had even given in to Sai and was dating him now...although that thought alone made Sasuke see red in his fury.
"Don't worry, Bastard." Naruto said, apparently sensing Sasuke's distress. Sasuke shot Naruto a glare, but then, Neji spoke up.
"Yes. Despite your obscene lack of skill and finesse in driving, you are certainly more suitable a boyfriend than Sai. I'm sure everything will fall into place. It is destiny, after all." He said stiffly. Sasuke rolled his eyes.
"You know, despite your obscene gayness, you are certainly not a terrible guy." He retorted scathingly. Neji bristled and moved to hit Sasuke, but couldn't move because Chouji's fat was in the way.
The rest of the ride was loud and filled with dirty jokes and teasing towards Sasuke, who bore it all with a glower as he drove wildly. Now that they knew where Sakura was and knew she was safe, he didn't have to drive quite as dangerously, which was a nice change for his passengers. Everyone relaxed more and more, as Sasuke's anxiety increased. He ran through all possible scenarios in his head, trying to come up with an appropriate reaction to every possible outcome. Unfortunately, any possible outcome that he came up with that involved him not winning over Sakura made him furious and incapable of coherent, civilized speech. He'd have to work on that one.
Sakura's stomach bubbled with nervousness as she watched the scenery fly by. Sai's driving was careful and law-abiding, so she felt safe enough to stare out the window and lose herself to her thoughts. After eating, her hangover was a little bit better. She had tried to neaten herself up in the mirror, but Sai had so sweetly told her that no amount of primping could save her now; she was just too ugly.
And then, quite suddenly, Sai spoke up.
"I want to be friends with you, Sakura." The use of her name and not some 'affectionate' nickname startled her. She glanced at him. He continued. "For a couple of years now I've been on lots of medications...I was in an accident. They make me flat and I almost never feel any emotion anymore. I hate it. But something about you..." As they stopped at a red light, he looked at her carefully. "...Perhaps it's your ugliness. It spikes my blood pressure in fear." He joked, and Sakura fake-glowered, punching him in the arm.
Well, that explained a lot. She grinned at him.
"I want to be best friends with you—howabout that?" She said, smiling happily. Sai's mouth quirked into a smile.
She felt a little bit better now, but it didn't solve her problems with Sasuke. As if Sai had read her mind (and she was beginning to think he really could), he spoke again.
"Don't worry about Uchiha. Really." He said. Sakura sighed.
"I don't even know what I'm going to say. I don't know if he still hates me or not. I don't know if...agh." She groaned. "Nothing has ever been easy with him."
"It probably never will be!" Sai said brightly. "You'd better get yourself together soon though. We're about to meet up with them."
Sakura gasped, clutching the door. Had two hours gone by already? She had been getting pretty comfortable around Sai...could she stand two whole hours stuck in a car with Sasuke?
They pulled into a parking lot for a strip mall that had a movie theater, supermarket, and a cafe. Very few cars were in the lot except for a large SUV that had many bumper stickers concerning dogs. 'My dog is smarter than your honor student,' and 'my dog can beat up your dog' were just a few examples. Sakura rolled her eyes. That was definitely Kiba's car. Definitely.
"Let's go in before you make any children cry, hag." Sai teased, pulling Sakura into the cafe by the hand. She gulped nervously, running her free hand through her hair and straightening her shirt. She could do this. She could do this.
Inside, Sasuke, Naruto, Hinata, Kiba, Shikamaru, Lee, Neji, Chouji, and Shino were all crowded around two tables, scarfing down food wildly. When the bell rang signaling their entrance, everyone looked up. Sakura was standing next to Sai shyly, looking down and twirling a short piece of hair around her finger.
"SAKURA-CHAN!" Naruto screamed deafeningly, jumping up and nearly throttling Sakura in a hug. Hinata said in an oddly loud voice the same thing, and the other guys greeted her and Sai in varying levels of enthusiasm.
Except for Sasuke. He remained in his seat, clutching the paper coffee cup in total and utter shock.
She had been holding hands with Sai.
He watched Sakura hug everyone and apologize for making them worry. Naruto told her about how worried Gaara was until they'd lied and told him that she was merely staying at Hinata's house. Akamaru barked and licked Sakura's face, causing her to laugh loudly. It was all a merry scene, and it occurred to Sasuke that it was better to act like a normal adult and behave maturely...
But he really didn't care.
He stood up and stalked over to Sai, who was smiling and staring at Sakura. He grabbed him roughly by the shoulder.
"Well?!" He demanded. Everyone fell silent. Sai looked at Sasuke and waved him away.
"Stop acting like a moron and go hug your ugly girlfriend. I'd also recommend apologizing." He said loftily, and then returned to patting Akamaru and asking Chouji about who had won the manliness contest the previous evening. Sasuke stared in shock at his lookalike. Everyone returned to chatting and asking Sakura about her night, as Sasuke lifted his gaze to Sakura. Their eyes met and their gazes locked, making Sakura redden.
"Hey...Howabout we all go back with Sai, and The Bastard drives Sakura-chan home?" Naruto suggested, and everyone agreed eagerly, namely because they had aged at least ten years thanks to the paralyzing fear of being in a car with Sasuke. Sasuke and Sakura sputtered disagreements, but everyone waved them away.
They all exited the cafe and Sasuke and Sakura were ushered to Kiba's car. They said their goodbyes, and ran off to Sai's car, leaving Sakura and Sasuke to stand alone, in complete silence, in the parking lot next to the car.
It was cold and the wind was blowing. Sakura rubbed her hands up and down her arms, and looked everywhere but at Sasuke. Sasuke fidgeted with the car keys, seemingly enthralled by the activity.
"So...um..." Sakura began. Sasuke looked up at her cautiously, and the jingling stopped as he held the keys still in his fist. She let out a shaky breath. Sasuke glared at her.
"Do you have any idea how idiotic you've acted?" He demanded harshly. Sakura winced, nodding.
"It was stupid. I know." She conceded. Sasuke clenched his fists.
"It wasn't just stupid. It was the dumbest thing you've ever done!" He raised his voice. Sakura glared.
"Well you've been acting really stupid too lately!" She yelled back. "You haven't been listening to me at all and have been just assuming stuff!"
"I can't help it!" He yelled, throwing up his hands in the air. "I felt humiliated; like everyone knew about you and Sai except for me, like I was the only one in the dark about it!"
Sakura stared at him heavily. "Do you really think I have so little pride that I'd just go and cheat on you?" She asked quietly. Sasuke looked down, humbled again.
"No." He said quietly. Sakura sighed in exhaustion.
"I have a huge headache, I've been wearing this outfit for over twenty four hours, and I haven't had anything decent to eat in about that. Can we just...put this crap behind us?"
Sasuke nodded, and just as she was about to speak, he reached out, and enveloped her in a warm, tight hug. Sakura flinched at first, but then wrapped her arms around his neck.
"Don't worry, Sai and I are just friends. He didn't try anything, and nothing bad happened." She said softly. Sasuke exhaled.
"Good. I was going to kill him if he did try anything." He said, smirking, as they pulled away. Sakura laughed.
She snatched his hand up and they walked back into the cafe, smiling. They were back together again. Everything was right with the world again.
--Six Months Later--
"Thank GOD that's over!" Neji said loudly, massaging his forehead. Everyone else voiced their agreement as Naruto fiddled with the radio. The graduation ceremony had finally ended, with a few hitches, of course. Naruto had decided to go commando under his graduation robes, which had been revealed during a burst of wind as he'd accepted his diploma. Akamaru had run up on stage and attacked Tsunade when she'd given Kiba his diploma, and Sakura's fanboys had nearly crushed her on her way to the podium, much to Sasuke's displeasure (read: raging, epic fury).
But it was over now, and now the gang was on the way to Sai's beach house to stay for the weekend. Once again, Kiba's car had come in handy, and despite the girls having to sit on their respective boyfriend's laps, they had made it work.
"Shikamaru, you look a little melancholy. What's wrong?" Tenten asked from her spot on Neji's lap. Shikamaru glanced up from looking out the window.
"Eh, nothing." He waved flippantly. Chouji snorted.
"Stop lying. Guys, he finally told Ino he liked her!"
The car fell silent.
"You like that slut?" Kiba asked in disbelief. Everyone murmured similar sentiments. Shikamaru bristled, until Sakura shouted at everyone to be quiet.
"What'd she say, Shikamaru-kun?"
"She said I was an idiot." He grumbled, crossing his arms over his chest. "But she likes idiots, as she pointed out."
No one knew what to say.
"So...what does that mean for you? I'm lost here." Naruto said, scratching his head. Shikamaru glared.
"Don't look at me! I don't know either! She said that, and then she kissed me, then she hit me, then mentioned something about me already having a girlfriend, and then she ran away. Troublesome woman..." He shook his head, but there was an unmistakable smile playing on his lips as he resumed staring out the window.
"WELL. That's not...odd, or anything." Sasuke sneered. "She must have been talking about Temari."
Everyone laughed, and chatter resumed. Sakura smiled contentedly, resting back against Sasuke's chest. Sasuke was gripping her possessively as he argued with Naruto about what station to leave the radio on at. As per usual with their crowd, it was hectic, chaotic, very, very loud, and of course, happy. Everyone was laughing or smiling or talking animatedly, even Hinata. It made Sakura beam with happiness.
After the catastrophe that winter, she and Sasuke had grown even closer. They'd been accepted at the same university, and planned to room together. Tenten had managed to catch Neji's eye (it had taken a lot of threatening, love potions, and many, many knives), and Temari and Shikamaru had dated briefly. Hinata had finally worked up the courage to ask Naruto out, and he'd said yes, admitting to adoring her. This made Shino and Kiba sad, because they had always really liked Hinata, but they found girlfriends for themselves eventually. Sai still obviously had feelings for Sakura, but he'd dated other girls in the meantime, and was planning on going off the medications soon. Lee still hit on Sakura shamelessly, and hadn't found another girl he liked quite as much, but he seemed fine. Chouji had admitted to liking Temari, and Temari had dumped Shikamaru for Chouji.
And of course, there was Kakashi.
Sakura blushed when she remembered earlier that morning. Right before the ceremony, Kakashi had caught her alone, and had given her a warm hug. They'd laughed about how funny the year had been. He'd congratulated her, and told her that he couldn't have been more proud of her. She'd called him a pervert, and that had been that. Sakura couldn't have asked for a more perfect goodbye.
And now they were on their way to the beach, to enjoy a weekend of relaxation, before they all went their separate ways. Luckily, both Sakura and Sasuke were staying in Konoha for the summer. Somehow, Sakura knew the summer was bound to bring plenty of surprises for them.
"Sakura. You're grinning to yourself." Sasuke flicked her nose, bringing her back to the present. She laughed, flicking him back.
"I'm just happy, that's all." She sighed. Sasuke rolled his eyes, and returned to yelling at Naruto for some reason or another.
She felt like she had changed so much in the past year. She had gone from being a shy, dorky, lonely girl to someone who was happy and confident. And really, it had all started with Sasuke, she now realized. He had been her first real friend at her new school...and ever, really. He had helped her when she'd needed it, and had listened to her when she'd needed to vent. He had kept her company, and made fun of her when she'd needed a dose of reality. Really, he had been the perfect fit in her new life here in Konoha. He had been...just what she'd needed.