Look! Another story that is not an update of "Festival!" ::bricked:: I'M SORRY. I'll work on an update when I graduate college in...um...four days? Yes. This is another LJ keyword fic (keyword being "camera"). I hope everyone enjoys.
How Many Words Does a Picture Say?
"Naruto. Stop it."
"What? I'm smiling!"
Sakura lowered the camera, her eyes flat and her mouth turned dramatically downward in a scowl. She understood that Naruto wasn't used to wearing the Hokage robes yet—only a week had gone by since his initiation ceremony. He'd been fighting to don those robes—and the responsibility that went with them—since he was a kid, so he had every right to be excited and giddy now that his dream was realized.
Hell, she was excited and giddy for him.
But still. She wanted him to have a nice picture for visitors to admire, and at the rate things were progressing—or not progressing—she wouldn't get one before the next equinox.
"You're not smiling," she said in a pained voice, rotating her wrist to ease the stiffness that settled there after nearly twenty minutes of holding the camera in the same spot. "You're…" She made a few sweeping, circular gestures in an attempt to articulate, which prompted Naruto to tilt his head and stare at her as if she had grown appendages where they didn't belong. Her scowl deepened. "I don't even know how to explain it. But that's not smiling, Naruto."
Seated in a red plush armchair that they'd dragged in front of the fireplace and turned at an angle—she insisted on a cozy backdrop—her old teammate and good friend—best friend—rested his chin against his palm, his expression a mixture of petulance and mischievousness.
"I don't think you're being fair, Sakura-chan."
Her brow creased.
He may not know how to smile correctly, but he knew how to smirk. She made a mental note to pummel him later, once she'd snapped a satisfactory photo and didn't need to worry about mussing up his hair. Or bruising his jaw.
"You should at least show me what I'm doing wrong so I can fix it."
Screw the jaw. She was going for the jugular.
Of course, she ought to have expected him to do something like this. They'd known each other for years, after all, and spent a good majority of those years learning one another's quirks, among other things. Given the opportunity, he'd trap her in compromising situations because the trickster in his nature loved seeing her squirm and rant and rave. He told her so himself.
Never mind that she was basically inviting him to do so when her guard was down.
Naruto fixed her with an exaggerated pout, his upper lip completely hidden by his lower.
"Awww, Sakura-chyyyaaaan. Come on. Please?"
She felt her resolve begin to fray around the edges.
"No," she said again, stubbornly. "I refuse." Her face would look ridiculous if she were to emulate that thing he called a smile. His face always looked a little silly, so it didn't matter as much for him.
Well…okay. Maybe his face didn't always look silly.
"I am Hokage now, you know," he pointed out, folding his arms over his chest. "I could just order you to do it."
Sakura quirked an eyebrow.
"You could." She switched the camera to her other hand, and flexed the free one. "But then you'd have to deal with the consequences."
Oh, he outranked her, certainly, though his affection for her, coupled with her brute physical strength and rather short temper, gave her quite a bit of leverage, a fact they both knew well.
He coughed, shifting around in his chair.
"Forget I said that."
"So…why are we taking this picture, again?"
Sakura let out an exasperated breath.
"Because it's important."
Naruto, never comfortable sitting in one position for an extended period of time, slouched forward with his forearms on his thighs.
"Why is it important? I can look in the mirror if I want to know—"
"The picture isn't for you, idiot," Sakura interrupted, her patience almost at its limit. "It's for display at the Administrative Building."
She neglected to inform him she planned on making copies for herself and their friends. What he wasn't aware of wouldn't hurt him.
Naruto appeared to have reached some sort of conclusion; he had a triumphant gleam in his eyes.
"Which means it's important enough for you to help me with my smile, right?"
Sakura considered whipping the camera at him, but then she'd have a broken camera and no picture to show for it.
And…Naruto would have a broken head.
She took the less destructive route and glared at him.
So much for that leverage.
"Come on," Naruto wheedled in a singsong voice. "Admit it, Sakura-chan, you lost. Let's see your impression of the best Hokage that's ever Hokaged." He motioned at himself with a thumb, grinning cheekily.
If she weren't in the middle of sulking, she'd laugh at his corny catchphrase like she'd done countless times before—it had become an inside joke between the two of them.
She bit her quivering lip anyhow, as a safeguard.
"Do I have to?" Futile, really, but she figured she'd try.
Naruto made a pretense of thinking by holding his chin and averting his gaze to the ceiling—she about lost her battle with laughter then. This was definitely one of those times when his face looked silly.
"Hmm…in light of previously stated concerns, I believe the answer is…Yeah. You do."
"Fine. But don't laugh at me."
He held up a solemn hand. "Scout's honor."
Sakura squared her shoulders. Better quit stalling and get on with it, or she'd be here all day. He'd keep her captive until she honored her loss.
"All right, all right. Ready?"
He nodded eagerly, gripping both armrests in anticipation.
Willing herself to focus and disregard her pride, she did the best she could to reproduce the expression he'd been using. His mouth was bigger than hers, so she couldn't stretch it as wide as him, and the shapes of their faces were different—his cheeks were slightly pudgier than hers, and she had a taller forehead—but somehow she pulled it off.
Naruto was silent for roughly a minute. He turned beet red, and eventually the exertion proved too much for him to handle.
In other words, he broke his promise.
"Holy shit, Sakura-chan," he wheezed amid strangled breaths, "you looked like you were…you were…Gai or something…"
"Well you looked like him first!" she shot back, as red as Naruto by this point. "You told me to show you, so I showed you!"
"I don't look like Gai," he said, still giggling.
"And I do?"
"No…but you did…"
She stamped her foot, half tempted to throw a tantrum and storm out. The memory of the last tantrum she ever threw, when she was Tsunade-shishou's apprentice, rid her of that notion. Needless to say, the Godaime did not tolerate tantrums, even though she threw some spectacular ones herself.
Besides, Sakura was twenty. She outgrew all that nonsense years ago.
One can dream, anyway.
Crossing her arms, she waited for his mirth to run its course.
"Are you finished?"
He wiped his eyes and scrubbed his face with a corner of his sleeve.
She shrugged off his apology with a distinctly unfeminine snort and started fiddling with the camera's zoom function.
"Sit up straight," she directed, watching him through the viewfinder. "And fix your collar. It's lopsided."
Because he'd already irritated her today, he obeyed without hesitation or protest.
"Is the hat okay?"
"Perfect," she said absently, zooming in just a little bit more. "Now don't move an inch, and smile like a normal human being, please."
Sakura rolled her eyes. He made it sound as though smiling was an Olympic sport. It wasn't that hard, was it?
And then she got an idea.
"You know the way you smile at me? Do it like that."
"Oh. You should've said so earlier, Sakura-chan!"
Yes, she probably should have. But she didn't think of it earlier. She didn't remember that, when he smiled at her, he did it with his entire face, as if his mouth alone wasn't enough to express the happiness he felt.
When she peered through the viewfinder again, there it was.
Her finger hesitated above the shutter button a moment, and then she pressed down.
"Sakura-chan...that's the Gai picture, isn't it?"
They stood in the foyer of the Administrative Building, examining the blown-up and framed photograph mounted on the wall.
Naruto had his nose scrunched up and his hands tucked in his pockets. Sakura twisted a piece of her hair around her fingers.
"I realized it was a more honest representation of your personality." She poked his side. "You're Hokage because you're you."
He blushed and muttered something unintelligible, and slung an arm around her shoulders.
"Lunch? My treat."
She hugged him about the waist.
"Wait…are you saying my personality is like Gai's?"
She didn't tell him she had her own framed picture of him set on her dresser, a picture that she wasn't going to share with anyone, not even him.
The smile in that picture was hers to keep.