AN: Yeesh, this is long overdue. My apologies for the wait. This gets pretty crackish XD
The bowl flew against the wall, the plastic bouncing right off as noodles and broth flew all over it, giving the eggshell white a nice new puke shaded coloring.
It then landed, the sound echoing throughout the ramen stand as several heads turned to look at the boy, mouths agape.
Sai's arm lowered to rest comfortably by his side, and with careful precision, he turned on his stool, faced Sakura, and said, "I am very upset," with a rather large smile.
And with the same amount of measured movement, he pushed himself out of his seat, paid for the thrown meal, and left without another word.
Sakura could do nothing but blink, eyes trained on the empty chair. To her side, she heard a slight long-suffering sigh from Yamato while Naruto continued to slurp noodles, a muffled "Anyone going to eat that?" being uttered between bites.
Despite the 'little noodle tantrum', as Sakura had coined it in her head, the training session later that day between the remaining members of Team Kakashi had been going perfectly normal.
Perfectly normal until Sai decided to discard his shirt, that is.
Yamato, who had been sparring with taijutsu against him while Naruto worked on chakra refining exercises and Sakura developed a new genjutsu, had the misfortune of baring witness to this.
Sai froze his kick a centimeter from Yamato's face, making sure he had Yamato's complete attention before speaking.
"I have to discard my clothing now, senpai. This exercise is causing my very masculine physique to overheat."
Yamato's large eyes grew larger, "Um, I suppose it's fine to take a quick break," he said in a very measured voice, taking a step back from the bottom of Sai's sandal.
Sai smiled, "Thank you senpai," he said cordially, a hand flawlessly tugging down his zipper.
Somewhere there was the flutter of doves' wings as Sai tossed off his shirt, a ray of sunlight peeking out of the clouds.
Yamato's right eyebrow rose.
The discarded shirt wafted like a feather on the wind, gracefully descending onto Sakura's head.
Sakura, who had been maintaining a very fragile balance of concentration need for her new genjutsu as this happened, therefore panicked when her vision suddenly went black, thinking she had miscalculated and rendered her ocular senses blind.
"Kai," she said her fingers flying into the release hand sign.
A bead of sweat trickled down her forehead, "KAI!"
Naruto looked up from his meditation to stare at his female teammate in confusion, "Sakura-chan, what are you doing?"
"Naruto! I need you to disrupt my chakra flow, my genjutsu backfired-" Sakura said, her voice even despite her rising panic.
"Sakura-chan, there's a shirt on your head," he said flatly, blinking owlishly as Sakura's hands quickly clawed to the top of her head.
"Oh, right," she smiled, "I knew that."
"…of course, Sakura-chan," Naruto said, quickly making himself preoccupied with his absolutely fascinating meditation.
Sakura took a deep breath, feeling incredibly stupid as she realized that she hadn't fried her retinas and that it was just Sai's shirt on her head-
Sai's. Shirt. On. Her. Head.
Confused, she looked across the training field where Sai and Yamato had been sparring.
The sight that greeted her was…confusing.
While the pair had been previously engaged in an intense taijutsu match, they had now ceased fighting in order for Yamato to scratch his head and for Sai to, well, pose.
And that's all he appeared to be doing. The pale boy was constantly flexing his well-toned arms, bending over in a way that highlighted his abdominal muscles just so, and an intense yet pouty look on his face made him reminiscent of the men on those trashy romance novels Ino was so fond of.
"Ah, Hag, I noticed that you've taken an interest in my body while I participate in a grueling spar," Sai said cheerfully, somehow managing to wave while showcasing a bicep.
"Sai…what are you doing?" Sakura asked, looking at his face and only at his face.
"I am demonstrating my male prowess," he said with a smile, "I hope you notice that my physique is far more attractive than Yamato-senpai's."
Yamato frowned, feeling rather insulted. Not that he wanted Sakura staring at his bare chest, but he still felt the sting of his precious masculinity being threatened, "Sai, there's no reason-"
"I am much more emasculate and stronger than him," Sai continued, now moving on to lunges.
Sakura's jaw dropped, not exactly understanding what was going on, and feeling pity for poor Yamato-senpai as he flushed a deep red.
However, that pity was discarded when Yamato, having enough of Sai's insults, threw off his jounin vest, followed quickly by his shirt.
And that's when her eyes bugged.
Although she wasn't bothered by seeing her teammates bare-chested, she was the field medic for their squad after all, there was something about the circumstances that made her feel incredibly…uncomfortable.
"I just remembered…Tsunade wanted me for something," she muttered, quickly standing up and walking away from the training field while Sai and Yamato began doing push-ups.
Sai halted in order to watch her go, then gave up completely after she was out of eyesight.
"Ha!" Yamato cried victoriously as Sai stopped, before seeming to realize himself. He coughed awkwardly and pulled himself into a sitting position, "Achem, well, I'm going to go…check on Naruto then," he said slowly, excusing himself.
Sai's face assumed its blank mask, a thoughtful look appearing in his eyes as he bent over to pick up his discarded shirt.
Uchiha Sasuke knew when he was being followed.
It would be ridiculous if he didn't, honestly. His entire life had been rife with followers, from prepubescent girls to cutthroat Hunter nin, and upon his return to Konoha he had added ANBU probationary squads to the list.
But this type of following felt different.
For one, it wasn't very subtle.
"Hello Sasuke-kun!" Sai said cheerily from behind him.
Sasuke grunted but didn't stop walking, his face falling into a frown. It figured that upon his return the kunoichi and former teammate he had grown to respect had dropped the nickname only for a creepy, abdominal baring man to pick it up.
"I am keeping an eye on you," Sai continued.
Sasuke's annoyance was well kept under control. He had a low tolerance for his replacement on Team 7 to begin with, and ever since he had been literally dragged back to his home village the artist shinobi had done little to earn himself into Sasuke's limited good graces. He was very adept at ignoring things, however, and so far that is how he had managed to coexist with the incredibly annoying Root member.
His refined saunter and ignore technique was cut off when Sai suddenly appeared in front of him. He was smiling that intensely unnerving smile of his that made Sasuke almost miss Kabuto, and Sasuke gave a heavy sigh, preparing to reprimand the replacement-
And then he felt the slight sting of a black glove connecting with his cheek.
Sasuke's face remained blank and tight-lipped as Sai quickly placed his glove back on his left hand.
"I propose a duel for the Hag's honor. I would enjoy fighting you at sunset in front of a crowd of onlookers to bear witness to your defeat," Sai said in a well-rehearsed voice, bowing politely.
Sasuke's nose wrinkled as he looked at the bowing Sai, to the glove that had backhanded him, and back to Sai. Dark eyes met dark eyes in an intense stare down.
And Uchiha Sasuke didn't even blink as he gracefully sidestepped the bowing artist shinobi and continued on his way home, making a mental note to set more exploding notes under his welcome mat.
Ino smirked as she read her copy of Icha Icha Paradise: Kunoichi Battle of Glory! placed strategically behind a flimsy romance novel, loving the violent fight taking place between the hero and her nemesis. It had been a slow day at the Yamanaka Flower Shop, and because of that she had time to catch up on her reading after finishing her duties.
The ringing of the bell placed above the door alerted her to the presence of a customer, and Ino quickly set the book- and the erotica it was covering- page down on the counter top.
"Hello, welcome to Yamanaka Flowers," she said in a perfectly rehearsed tone, her smile widening when she saw who her visitor was, "Oh, Sai-kun! So nice to see you!"
Sai smiled politely, "Hello Gorgeous-san, I was wondering if I could ask you for a favor."
Ino grinned, more than happy to help out the handsome boy, "Of course, Sai-kun!"
Sai's smile stretched, nimble fingers pulling out a well-worn romance novel from the utility pack he used for his art supplies, "I have finished reading this and was wondering if I could borrow another one? I'm afraid it wasn't sufficient."
Ino, eying the novel that she had never read and therefore was amazed that Sai had actually wanted to borrow, cleared her throat, "Um, sure, Sai-kun. You really read the whole thing?"
Sai smiled, "Of course, Gorgeous-san."
Ino gracefully took the copy of Pirate's Tryst: A Sunset Love Triangle from Sai's outstretched hand and swapped it out for the book that was hiding her porn without Sai seeing the telltale orange cover, "Here Sai-kun, this one's one of my personal favorites," she said with a forced smile.
Sai gingerly accepted it, "Thank you. Your expression of trust and friendship is most appreciated," he said before exiting, his eyes quickly taking in the summary on the back.
Ino watched him go, shrugged, and went back to reading her smut.
Kakashi let out a rather unmanly giggle as he turned the page of his novel, the sun shining on his back as he waited outside of the Hokage Tower. He was supposed to be in a meeting with Tsunade about ten minutes ago, but out of politeness he decided to wait another ten minutes, that way he could appear when she was expecting him.
Despite being distracted by his book, Kakashi noticed when Sai approached him, his peripheral vision taking in the grave look on younger man's face.
"Hello Sai," he greeted between page turns.
"Kakashi-senpai," Sai returned with a nod, before doing a very, very strange thing.
Kakashi was used to rather…unorthodox methods of communication from the artist shinobi, but he wasn't expecting a gloved hand on his thigh as Sai sunk to his knees and lowered his head.
Then, giving out a well rehearsed speech, he began, "I know I am not a man of status, and surely you have your reservations about letting me, a man of no value, into your household, but-"
"Sai, while this is all very…interesting, I'm a little uncomfortable," Kakashi said bluntly, removing the hand that Sai had put on his leg. "Also, I haven't the slightest idea what you're talking about," he said with a smile that caused his eyes to close and the skin around them to crease.
"I'm here to ask for your consent," Sai said easily.
Kakashi rose an eyebrow, "Consent for what?"
Sai seemed puzzled that he was even asking, "Consent."
"Alright," the jounin said with a shrug, going back to reading.
Sai gave his rehearsed smile, "It means very much to me that the man who is Sakura's fatherly figure gives his consent."
Kakashi's eyes widened at that one, and he actually looked away from the page, "What?"
"It is important that I receive your consent?" It had meant to be a statement, but at Kakashi's gaze it morphed into a question.
"I'm not Sakura's father figure," Kakashi said, "That would be her father," he finished matter-of-factly. Despite the fact that no one in the village had actually met Mr. Haruno, giving the impression that one was just supposed to assume his existence.
"Besides," continued Kakashi in a calm voice, "I'm not old enough. I'm only twenty fi-"
Sai gave him a reproachful look.
The look stayed.
Not a facial muscle twitched.
Sai's face remained stoic.
Kakashi sighed, admitting defeat, "Thirty."
"My books inform me that it is wrong to lie, Kakashi-senpai," Sai advised.
"I have to go," Kakashi said quickly, "Important Hokage meetings and all that."
And with that, the jounin vanished in a swirl of leaves.
Sakura found herself shaking off the utterly bizarre behavior of Sai as she walked into her office at the hospital for her break. Well, perhaps it wasn't so much shaking off as it was repressing it to the back of her head until she could figure out just what the hell was going through his head.
People like Sai didn't throw food and tantrums when they were upset. People like Naruto threw food (though she had to admit, it would be unlikely in this case, since the food in question was ramen). People like Sai filed it away, repressed it, and let it leak out in a more controlled fashion.
And people like Sai didn't pose and flex while they worked out. That was more up Gai and Lee's alley.
Something was off about her teammate, and Sakura resolved to figure out what.
As if on cue, there was a polite knocking on her office door that Sakura had long associated with her artistically inclined teammate.
"Come on in," she said, there was a guarded edge to her tone, however, expecting something insane and dramatic if Sai's earlier actions today were any indication.
"Hello Hag," he greeted politely, before unhooking his tanto from its holster on his back, "I would like you to unsheathe my sword."
She blinked, "What?"
"It is important that you take my sword from its sheathe with your hands," he said calmly, the small blade in his outstretched hand.
Sakura, very confused, took Sai's tanto and pulled it out of its sheathe, the schwunk noise the motion made the only sound in the room.
"…was that an enjoyable experience for you?" He asked after a few moments.
"Um…sure Sai," she said guardedly, still wondering what was going on as she dumbly sheathed the small blade.
"Are you sure? Your lady softness is supposed to writhe in ecstasy-"
Okay, this was getting incredibly weird, "Sai, what the hell are you talking about?"
"I'm attempting to strengthen our bond," he explained, "Gorgeous-san kindly lent me this manual on understanding girls-"
As soon as she saw the cover, depicting a long haired blond man tearing the bodice of a dainty woman in front of a setting sun, she groaned. Suddenly everything today made sense. The tantrum Sai threw at the ramen stand, the competitive shirtless exercising, the somewhat traumatized look Kakashi had when she had teasingly called him old man when he left Tsunade's office. Quickly, she grabbed the novel from Sai's hands.
"Sai, that's not a manual."
Sai blinked, "But Gorgeous-san told me that it explained relationships-"
"Ino-pig is a liar, and I'm pretty sure she only uses these to hide her porn," Sakura said bluntly. There was a pause as she watched Sai digest this.
"…I should be reading pornography instead?"
She winced, "I'm sure you've had enough of that, given your phallic obsession," at seeing Sai's bewildered look as he tried to process things, she sighed, "Sai, if you want to strengthen your relationship with someone, it's probably best if you don't use guidelines."
He stared at her blankly.
"Um, okay. Let me see…" she struggled to find a way to describe this in a way that would be easy for Sai to understand, "You know when fighting enemy shinobi, the rules you learn at the academy only get you so far?"
"Well, strengthening a relationship is like that. You can be prepared for elemental ninjutsu, but sometimes the enemy has a poison technique that you don't know the antidote for," she said with a smile, "Only experience helps."
Sai put his hand to his chin thoughtfully, "Improvisation is a tool of the shinobi?" he ventured.
Sakura grinned, "Exactly. People are like that, you never know what they're going to do."
"I see," he said evenly, and the office room was quiet before he asked, almost shyly if the blush on his cheeks was any indication, "Hag, would you mind if I go with you to the library?"
Her grin stretched, "Of course not…Sai-kun."
His eyes widened at that, and the smile he gave back almost reached his eyes.
And as the pair went to enter to the library, Sakura faltered mid-step, mind finally realizing something.
Sai had asked her to unsheathe his sword! Cheeks flaming, she looked over and prayed to whatever deity was listening that he had no idea what the implications of that meant, and the two wore matching blushes when they sat at their usual spot.