The dark haired shinobi's brow furrowed as he tried to make sense of the words on the page in front of him. While this book was fascinating, what it spoke of was extremely foreign to him and some of it was hard to understand, yet every page held enlightenment and opened the young ninja's eyes to possibilities he had never even considered.
The book seemed to answer many questions he had regarding interacting with other people, especially with the opposite sex who were indeed contradictory creatures and nearly impossible to read. Perhaps he had been going about things all wrong and it certainly would explain the negative and often violent reactions he got from some of the females he tried to associate with.
So engrossed was he in his reading, he missed entirely the few people that were shaking their heads silently in dismay as they passed, whispering behind their hands to each other that he would surely turn out just like his team leader if he kept reading that sort of thing.
He finished the last page of the book and sighed, closing it with a snap as he leaned back in one of the many wooden chairs in Konoha's public library, his brain sifting through the information he had just ingested. He would have to go back and reread some of the more intriguing parts and then gather more books to continue his research. If the methods in this book proved effective, he would be able to strengthen his bond with his team, namely the frequently violent female, and make them a more efficient unit.
Sai stood from his seat, taking the orange jacketed paperback with him as he departed. Once he was done studying this book, he would have to go ask Kakashi-sempai for more. It seemed there were endless ways to interact with a woman in order to strengthen a bond with her and he had not done any of them. It was no wonder their team performance had been disappointing lately.
Why, just last week Naruto had given their position away to the enemy in an embarrassing display of disorder when he had lost his temper and yelled at him from their hiding place in the trees. Sai had nearly lost an eye to the kunai that had been hurled in their direction by an enemy nin. The last thing they needed were two members of Team Kakashi earning the nickname "Cyclops".
Really, Sai didn't understand what Naruto got so worked up about. He had merely commented on the size of Naruto's penis and the blonde had instantly flown into a frenzy, yelling obscenities and alerting the enemy to their presence.
The ink user had seen his male friend change in the locker room more than once so he wasn't saying anything that wasn't true. Apparently having a small penis was directly linked to being an angry individual. The theory made sense considering women had no penis at all and the majority of the ones he knew were usually angry, violent and all around frightening.
Once he was done with his research of the female species, he would go find Sakura. Surely she would agree to anything that made their team function better as a unit. She seemed to get along just fine with Naruto but he knew that they already had engaged in some of the activities described in the book he held, or at least that's what he'd heard from Sakura's loudmouthed friend in the flower shop.
The annoying blonde girl had been giggling and speaking enthusiastically to a kunoichi from another team as Sai sat on a bench outside the shop, sketching various images onto the pad of paper he always carried. He couldn't help but hear their excited voices as Sakura's friend informed the girl with twin buns on her head that Sakura and Naruto had gone home together after a particularly rambunctious night at the bar. Sai had vaguely remembered being invited but had opted to stay home and put the finishing touches on a painting instead. It appeared his team had decided to partake in bond strengthening activities without him and he regretted his decision not to go.
Neither Sakura nor Naruto had ever said anything about it in his presence but he could detect a subtle shift in they way they acted towards each other. The blonde wasn't quite so whiney and seemed to beg less for her attention and she didn't act quite so violently towards him, refraining from hitting him over the head even when he said something stupid. It was really quite interesting watching them interact, but Sai felt that it was all he ever got to do; watch from the outside as if he were behind a pane of glass.
As he walked out into the bright Konoha sunshine, the artist was determined to formulate a plan that would bring the three of them closer together. It wasn't like he was jealous of the fact that the two got along better with each other than with him. He simply wished for his team to be close knit to provide better mission results.
Tucking the book under his arm, Sai decided to track down the silver haired man that had lent him his research material. While the book had solved some aspects of the female enigma, it presented others and his team leader seemed to be quite knowledgeable on the subject. How could he not after reading all those books? Sai shuffled off to the training grounds in search of the silver haired team captain who probably had his nose buried in a book at that exact moment.
Sai had been right in his predictions of where to find the older man and what he would be doing this time of day. Kakashi was perched high in a tree, back slouching against the thick trunk and legs dangling lazily from a branch. An orange book similar to the one Sai had under his own arm currently had the elite ninja's full attention.
Sai stood at the base of the large tree and looked up at his team captain who had to know he was there. It was not easy to sneak up on a shinobi of Kakashi's caliber. However, the masked man continued to read on as if he were oblivious to everything else in the world. Sai wasn't surprised. His team leader was often like this when reading his books and now the artist could see why. They certainly were fascinating.
"Excuse me, Kakashi-sempai!
At the sound of his name, the Sharingan user finally lowered the book that had been covering his face and glanced down at the ground.
"Why hello there Sai," he said, giving the younger man a friendly eye crease. "I wasn't expecting to see you since we don't have team training scheduled for today. What brings you here?"
The stoic ninja held up the borrowed copy of Icha Icha Paradise.
"I have a few questions about this book sempai. It seems to me that women are complex and confusing creatures and I would like to better understand them."
Kakashi couldn't help but grin beneath his mask and replied, "Yeah, you and every other man alive."
The silver haired ninja dropped from his perch to land soundlessly beside the newest member of his team. He was glad the young man was finally taking an interest in the opposite sex. After all, the kid was already twenty and the time for his hormones to kick in was way overdue. Kakashi had begun to wonder if ROOT had conditioned the sexual impulse right out of the pale skinned artist, but then was pleasantly surprised one day when the young artist had asked to borrow one of the books he was always reading. Kakashi was only too happy to oblige and it seemed the novel had further piqued Sai's interest in women.
"Chances are you will never be able to understand women completely," Kakashi stated. "Their moods are constantly shifting and just when you think you can predict them, they change all over again."
Sai's brow furrowed in contemplation. "So what can I do to get along with them? Most of the time it seems that they only want to interact with me through acts violence."
Kakashi chuckled as he settled into a lazy slouch against the tree, crossing his arms casually over his chest. It was true that Sai was anything but a lady killer. His people skills were horrible at best but it didn't help that the women he saw the most were Sakura, Ino and Tsunade; three of Konoha's most short tempered and fiery willed females. No wonder he associated the opposite sex with pain.
"It's all about being sensitive Sai. You can't just blurt out whatever comes into your head. Doing so will put you in the same position as Naruto who suffers Sakura's wrath almost daily."
The artist looked down at the book in his hands and then back to the Copy ninja.
"So if I am sensitive towards women, I'll be able to participate in the acts described in these books?"
Kakashi wasn't sure to laugh out loud or cry for the poor kid. Despite being a battle hardened killer, he was utterly clueless when it came to handling everyday life.
"I'm afraid it's not that simple," he said, shaking his head. "Seducing a woman is even harder than interacting with them. You have to make her feel comfortable around you and gain her trust. Otherwise, she'll never consent to anything more intimate."
"I see," Sai said thoughtfully. "So these intimate acts, they strengthen the bond between the people who partake in them?"
Well, yes," Kakashi said, a little surprised by the oddity of the question. "Sex is often treated casually, especially among shinobi, but some women place tremendous importance on it. Strong emotional ties can be formed between two people so be careful about whom you choose to pursue. Women often put a greater emotional emphasis on sex than men do and that's how women end up getting emotionally hurt."
"Hmm…interesting," the artistic ninja mused, appearing to think over what Kakashi had said. "So…for this bond to form, does the woman have to reach completion? All the woman in the stories always seem to."
A slender silver eyebrow arched upwards into his hairline. This kid really was a strange one, but given the fact that Sai had been raised for the sole purpose of killing without showing weakness or humanity, Kakashi figured the least he could do was satisfy the young man's curiosity by answering a few questions and hopefully set him straight.
"Well, she doesn't have to finish but it certainly helps. However, getting a woman to achieve orgasm is not as easy as these books make it seem. It takes skill and patience and a lot of communication with your partner. You have to focus on her needs and not your own or she will never reach her peak."
"I see," Sai said with a nod of understanding. "So what can I do to make sure she finishes? Should I use the methods described in this book?"
The dark haired shinobi flipped open the book to a particular scene that had intrigued him, complete with a coinciding illustration on the opposite page.
Kakashi stepped away from the tree to peer over the younger man's shoulder before he chuckled and nodded.
"As a beginner, I would recommend using simpler methods, but don't think she likes to be touched only here and here."
The ninja emphasized his point by pointing to the drawn woman's bountiful breast and the trim path or hair between her legs.
"Touch her everywhere using your lips, teeth, tongue, fingers, anything. Be creative but be respectful of her. The situation may change and you'll have to adapt, just as if you were fighting an opponent. Use your instincts and your own originality and you'll probably have her coming back for more."
"So, there is no single method for giving a woman an orgasm…" Sai murmured, repeating the fact almost to himself.
"Sex is not a science," Kakashi chuckled in amusement. "But once you've had some practice, you can try something a little more advanced, something like this."
The Copy ninja flipped open his own orange book to an illustration that made Sai's eyes go wide. He stared at the detailed picture, his head tilting a little to the side as he tried to make sense of the two intertwined bodies on the page in front of him.
"Wouldn't that hurt her?" Sai finally asked
"Not if done right," Kakashi answered.
The masked man could almost see the wheels in his head turning and he couldn't help but wonder what this socially inept ninja was planning.
"Would it be possible for you to lend me this book as well? This subject is quite intriguing and I'd like to research it further if that's all right with you," the ink user said.
"Sai, I have a whole apartment full of these books and you're welcome to them. We can go there now if you want and we can talk more on the way."
The younger man nodded and gave his sempai one of his smiles that was almost certainly fake. Kakashi didn't think the kid even knew how to smile for real, so far repressed were all of his emotions.
The Copy Nin clapped his team member encouragingly on his black clad shoulder. He wasn't sure if he was being completely responsible at the moment, educating an ex-ANBU member in the joys of sex and then letting him run rampant through Konoha, attempting to seduce women without having a real concept of how to properly socialize with others.
Sai would probably earn himself a slap or two when he said the wrong thing to the wrong women but hell, isn't that how everyone learned? Yes, Konoha's shinobi were weapons of war but that didn't mean they weren't human too and Kakashi was tired of sitting back and watching one of his own team walk mechanically through life because he believed there was no other way to live.
As the two of them began to make their way toward Kakashi's apartment, the silver haired man couldn't help but wonder if Sai's sudden interest in women was spurred on by one in particular. He was about to ask but then decided he probably didn't really want to know. Whoever it was, he couldn't help but feel a little sorry for the poor girl.
He spotted his target almost immediately. The pink hair made her easy to pick out among the throng of people at the crowded bar and he pushed his way towards her to take up the empty barstool at her side.
Sai wasn't used to interacting in crammed environments. His work in ANBU hadn't required him to interact with more than the occasional partner or work as a three man unit. A lot of times he worked solo on missions and slipped from shadow to shadow under the cover of night, melting into the darkness and never alerting anyone to his presence. If things went as planned, nobody ever noticed he was there, not even the few he had been sent to assassinate until the kunai was at their throat, but by then it was already too late.
Being a permanent member of team seven however was a different thing entirely and Sai often found himself unsure of what to do in a social setting. Although he would have been more comfortable talking to Sakura somewhere secluded, he supposed he should be thankful for the medic asking him to meet her here. There had been more than one occasion in his research material where the male and female made first contact in a bar such as this before moving to more a private location and engaging in intimate relations. Kakashi-sempai had even mentioned that people went to bars for the express purpose of finding a partner for the evening so perhaps Sakura desired the same thing he did and wished to express it by inviting him here. After all, isn't that how things started when Sakura and Naruto had gone home together? So far, things were going smoothly.
After his chat with Kakashi, Sai had visited Sakura at the hospital where she was helping out for the day. She had seemed quite surprised to see him but was too busy to talk properly and had suggested they meet later after her work at the hospital was done.
As he took his seat, the dark haired artist discovered that after reading Kakashi's books, he was seeing Sakura in a whole new light. He noticed the way her lips closed over the rim of her glass as she sipped her sake and the way the muscles along the slender column of her throat contracted as she swallowed. He noticed the curve of her breast and swell of her hips, and though neither were as impressive as the women in the Icha Icha illustrations, they were still pleasing to look at. What really caught his attention however were her legs as they dangled off her stool. They were long and slender and well defined without being overly muscular. Her knee high black sandals hugged her calves like a glove, accentuating their shape, and the bit of bare thigh that showed below her skirt suddenly seemed far more intriguing then it had the day before.
Despite the fact he was constantly calling her a hag, he had always found her aesthetically pleasing from an artist's perspective and had sketched her a few times when he didn't think she would notice and beat him to a pulp. But before, he had viewed her as a team mate, a comrade. Now he was looking at her as a woman and couldn't help but wonder what places on that smooth toned body would bring her pleasure if touched just right.
"Hey Sai," Sakura said with a smile as she poured herself another glass of warm sake.
The kunoichi had turned twenty not too long ago and it seemed she was taking full advantage of her new legal age. The pink haired woman noticed her teammate's eyes shift to the half empty bottle and sighed.
"It was a long day at the hospital," she stated, bringing the glass to her lips once more.
Sai simply nodded although he wondered why working an apparently longer shift warranted extreme alcohol consumption. Perhaps he would ask Kakashi about it later.
Sakura put down her glass and let out a satisfied sigh as she felt the liquid burn her throat and warm her stomach.
"So, what is it you wanted to talk about?" she asked, turning to face him.
"Sakura, I am deeply concerned about our ability to function as a team, not just you and I, but Naruto too."
The medic rolled her jade colors eyes and sighed, this time in exasperation.
"Despite all that extra training he got from Jiraiya, he still acts like a complete idiot sometimes. I can't believe he tried to pick a fight with you in the middle of a mission and totally gave away our position. He could have gotten us all killed!"
Sai nodded solemnly as he watched Sakura take another swig of the clear liquid in her glass.
"But it's not just Naruto," he said. "All three of us are lacking a base connection that allows us to operate flawlessly together. However, you and Naruto seemed to have a connection that's far deeper than anything I have with either of you and it shows. You instinctually know how to work with each other on missions and during combat, and while you two don't always utilize it, it still is apparent."
"Well, that doesn't really surprise me Sai," Sakura said, picking up her glass once more. "Naruto and I have known each other since we were kids and have been on the same team together since we were twelve. We underwent training together, countless missions together, and I think our mutual desire to bring Sasuke back tied us closer than anything. You can't just expect that type of bond to form immediately with a new member. It takes time."
While Sakura had a point, there was something else in the equation. She had allowed Naruto to connect with her not only emotionally, but on a physical level as well. If what he overheard from Ino was true, their bodies had been united as one and they had formed a whole new type of bond with each other, a bond he longed to establish with his team mates as well.
"I know that," Sai answered calmly, fixating his dark eyes on the pink haired kunoichi. "But I couldn't help but notice that the bond you have with Naruto has grown even stronger lately. You two get along better and you execute commands better. I was wondering if what happened between the two of you could happen between you and me."
Sakura seemed to stiffen in her chair, her green eyes growing wide before darting off to the side and avoiding his onyx gaze.
"I don't know what you're talking about," she mumbled before retreating to her drink again, holding the glass to her lips so she wouldn't have to look at him.
Sai was confused. Why had she become so withdrawn at the mention of her altered relationship with Naruto? She was acting like it had been a negative experience yet, from the way they acted around each other, he guessed their time together had been quite enjoyable. Perhaps she didn't want anyone to know what had transpired, but that didn't make sense to him either. If their coupling resulted in better teamwork, what was there to be ashamed of?
This must be a perfect example of a woman's moods shifting. Sakura's frame of mind had changed almost instantly at the mention of the apparently touchy subject and now he would have to adapt to the situation just like Kakashi had said he would. Perhaps a change of scenery away from the crowds and cigarette smoke would help her open up.
"Do you want to go for a walk?" Sai asked suddenly as his female team mate drained her glass.
"A walk? Where to?" Sakura asked skeptically, reaching for the sake bottle only to discover that it was empty.
"Anywhere is fine. It just seems a bit crowded in here."
"It's not crowded. You're just anti-social," Sakura said with a giggle, her mood once again fluctuating. Sai wondered if all women were this unstable.
He noticed she was about to signal the bartender for another bottle and reached out to her, closing his hand gently around her wrist. He had been taught the effects of alcohol on the human body during early training. Poor judgment, slowed reflexes and memory loss weren't side effects any shinobi should wish to attain but everyone seemed to drink anyway. Sai personally never touched the stuff and if he was to coax Sakura into physical union tonight, he didn't want her experience dulled by alcohol that could potentially weaken the bond formed between them.
"You don't need another bottle Sakura," he said, his voice gentle, but firm.
Sakura stared at him in surprise and for a moment, contemplated shaking him off roughly and ordering another round, but in the end relented and gave him a small smile.
"Ok," she answered simply.
Sai responded with a smile of his own though his was undoubtedly fake, his eyes squinting closed, hiding the fact that the smile did nothing to warm their dark depths. She wanted to see him smile for real, just once, yet she doubted the ex-ANBU even had the ability.
Her team mate stood and held out his hand to her, fake smile still intact.
"Shall we go?"
Sakura allowed him to pull her up from the stool and guide her through the smoky room toward the door. Despite the fact that he was completely clueless when it came to life outside of shinobi duty, he still had some good qualities in him.
They emerged into the cool evening air and Sakura filled her lungs with it, welcoming it after the murky haze that had filled the bar. The moon was nearly full and bathed the village in soft blue light. Sai's pale skin practically glowed alabaster under the moon's radiance, emphasizing his face, midriff and his right arm which wasn't covered by his odd half jacket.
They meandered for a while, chatting casually although the conversation usually ended in Sai becoming confused to what exactly they were talking about. In so many ways, the dark haired man was just like a child; eyes barely opened to the world around him. He had an innocence about him that seemed so out of place considering he had the capacity to be deadly and ruthless. Sakura found the revelation to be simultaneously frightening, endearing and a little sad.
After a bit, they came to the red bridge on which she had spent so much time with Naruto and Sasuke in their youth, usually waiting for their chronically late sensei to appear. The water flowed silently beneath them but all around were the sounds of frogs calling in the night.
Their walking slowed and came to a stop and Sakura leaned casually against the guardrail, her elbows resting on the wood behind her as she looked up into the darkened sky, marveling at the moon and its brilliance.
Sakura was preoccupied with the blackness above her and didn't notice Sai watching her silently. His eyes drifted over her from head to toe and he decided that she really was rather attractive and was glad that the teammate he planned to couple with was so easy on the eyes.
"Sakura, do you agree that Team Seven's lack of cohesion is a problem?" he asked softly.
"Well yeah, it's pretty obvious isn't it?" Sakura said without shifting her gaze from the stars. "Some days we mix just about as well as oil and water."
"If there was a way to fix the problem, would you do everything you could to help?"
"Of course Sai, but solutions aren't that easy, it's not like we can—"
The kunoichi cut her own sentence short as she felt as she felt her team mate's presence draw much closer to her. He was so close that she could feel the warmth radiating from his body. He was indisputably invading her personal bubble when usually he kept his distance and Sakura, in her slight alcohol induced haze, didn't know what to make of it.
"Good. That's exactly what I wanted to hear Sakura."
The pink haired woman barely had time to react as she felt his hands come up to lightly cup her cheeks, trapping her face in his grasp as his lips descended on hers. His body pressed against her, pushing her back into the weathered wood of the bridge. Her eyes grew wide as she realized just what exactly was happening. Sai, the out of place, socially retarded weirdo, was kissing her! Hadn't they just been talking about solutions to fixing their poor performance as a team? What the hell did this have to do with anything? And why was she standing there like a statue as he brushed his lips over hers without her consent in this ridiculously romantic setting?
Regaining her wits, she pressed both hands on the artist's chest and shoved him away. He stumbled backwards in surprise and eyed her quizzically. She wasn't supposed to act like that. The women in Kakashi's books were always reduced to needy, wanton creatures at the first kiss but his own rendition seemed to be having little effect on his female teammate. In fact, it seemed to anger her. Maybe his kissing technique was lacking.
Sakura gingerly touched a finger to her lips as if they burned from the contact before turning incredulous and infuriated eyes on the dark haired man in front of her.
"What the hell is wrong with you?" she practically screamed before wiping her mouth savagely with the back of her hand. "What made you think that it was ok to kiss me?"
The singing of countless frogs grew silent at the sound of her angry voice. The stood bathed in moonlight with only the occasional buzz of a night insect sounding around them.
"I thought you said you would do anything to improve our performance as a team," Sai said after a moment, genuinely confused by the medic's outburst. Hadn't she just said she would willingly help in any way she could to enhance their teamwork? Maybe the alcohol she had consumed earlier was already affecting her memory
"I did," Sakura replied. "But I don't see what the hell that has to do with kissing!"
Sai tried advancing on her again, reaching out his hand to take hers.
"Don't you see Sakura? If we join our bodies, then the union of our minds will follow. We will be able to strengthen our bond and become a better team."
For a moment, Sakura just stared at him slack jawed. What the hell was he talking about? Joining their bodies? He didn't mean…
Sakura's eyes flicked down to her hand held in his and then back to his face which was currently displaying one of his false, squinty eyed smiles. She didn't know too much about the newest member of her team but she was pretty sure he was completely ignorant when it came to sex. He couldn't even have a decent conversation for crying out loud.
She tried to jerk her hand away but Sai just pulled her towards him, wrapping an arm around her lower back and kissing her again. This time the press of his lips was more forceful and insistent but Sakura would not be subdued.
She wrenched herself away and balled her hand into a fist, intending to deliver not just a slap or a solid punch, but a slightly chakra enhanced blow that probably would have sent him straight through the wooden bridge and into the stream below.
Years of ANBU training proved useful as Sai nimbly avoided her attack, dodging to let her follow through with the attack and connect with nothing but air while he easily maneuvered behind her.
His research had never reported a woman reacting so violently to attempted seduction, but then again, none of them were Sakura. What should have been an effortless process of stoking her passion and leading her home to his bed was proving to be quite a tricky task. Circumstances had changed once again just like Kakashi had warned and now he would have to adapt once more. It seemed a more forceful method would be needed.
Sakura whirled around on her opponent, chakra infused fist poised for attack, when she saw Sai making the final hand signs for an unknown jutsu. She moved to strike him in the chest and prematurely end his attack but his fingers were already glowing with chakra.
She glanced to his face warily. She still knew so little about what he was capable of and had no idea what attack he planned to use on her. After his completely unforeseen attempt to kiss her, Sakura had no idea what to expect from him anymore.
She lunged at him again, intending to strike him low at his center of gravity but he was already moving away from her and the alcohol had taken the edge off her fighting abilities. Her fist grazed his hip and while it threw him off balance, it didn't knock him down. He recovered immediately and was already behind her before she could turn. She gasped when she felt his fingers come up to her temples and rest there with a surprisingly gentle touch considering they were in the middle of a fight.
However, the tingle of his chakra told her she'd been caught by his attack and instantly she felt consciousness slipping away. The world dissolved into black and soon she sagged heavily in her teammate's arms.
The dark haired artist let out a sigh. Why were women so difficult? He hadn't wanted to resort to this but apparently it was necessary with a person like her. He gently hoisted her unconscious form over his shoulder and began walking towards the edge of Konoha where his current residence was. On his way there, he only passed one other couple, out taking a late night stroll. When they looked quizzically at the slender man with a body slung over his shoulder, he simply offered them a fake smile and stated,
"Too much to drink."
Their sympathetic looks were enough to assure him that he was no longer suspicious. At least all the sake she had consumed was good for something.