Title: of déjà vu and des-tee-nee
Pairing: SasuSaku and ShikaIno
Disclaimer: (Not) mine. D:
Dedicated to: HPBabe91, because I want to thank her, and it's her birthday, and she is uber-awesome. :D Have a Very Happy Birthday. Hope this is to your liking.
I love the rain, I swear. Just not on days like today.
Haruno Sakura trudged wearily along the walkway that led to her apartment building, damp pink locks clinging fast to the curve of her cheek. It had been one of those days - the kind where she wondered why she even bothered getting out of bed.
Stupid bastard. After all this time, he's still underestimating me...
She sighed, fishing her keys out of her pocket, and banishing all thoughts of arrogant pricks from her mind. Whatever. The important thing was that she was home. She stepped inside, flicking the light switch on. Her boots were left to dry near the door, and her thoroughly soaked white coat was thrown into the closet, doomed to be forgotten until the next rainy day. She crouched down to pick up her mail, muttering to herself all the while.
Bill…bill…invitation to Hinata-chan's…bill…bill…and…
She paused. What was that last one?
Amidst the usual clutter of utilitarian white envelopes, was a bright purple missive, decorated with green glitter, and the odd yellow sparkle. Smack dab in the middle in bright pink ink:
Who in the world…? Well, it was a silly question. There was only one person who called her obachan. But why would Ayame-chan be writing to her? Still, the mental picture of her blonde, blue-eyed godchild brought a smile to her face.
The thought of her sweet smile was almost enough to drive out the thought of that stupid Uchiha bastard.
ANBU my ass…the only reason he even got the post was because Kakashi-sensei vouched for him…so what if I haven't been offered a slot? That's no excuse for calling me weak!
Startled by the sound of her own low growl, Sakura looked down, surprised to see that her fists were tightly clenched, half of the yellow sparkles crushed in her palm. It figured. Sasuke didn't even have to be around and he ruined things for her.
Furrowing her brow, the medic-nin absently made her way into the kitchen to make some tea. She slit the envelope open and began to skim the contents of her best friend's daughter's letter.
How are you doing?
I hope you are well. I have to tell you something, Sakura-obachan. At first I did not now why I was telling you but Kaachan said something about déjà vu and bribed me with pretty markers so I did.
Sakura-obachan, the boy on your team is very pretty. Not Naruto-ojichan.
He has very pretty hair Sakura-obachan and when I saw him I told him so. He made a scary face. When I told Kaachan about it, she said it was a smirk, and it wasn't scary it was hot. Otouchan wasn't very happy about that, and he called her troublesome again, and she's still yelling and -
Anyway, Sasuke-ojichan said it was déjà vu.
Sakura-obachan, what is déjà vu?
Whatever it is, I told kaachan that I love him and she said that I have to tell you because he belongs to you.
Sakura-obachan, I thought Iruka-sensei said manslaves were illegal in Konoha...
Kaachan said if you do not want him, then I can marry him and eventually have babies with him (even if I still don't really get how that's supposed to work.). So if you do not want him, please let me know, because I want him and I want to marry him because of his pretty hair (and because he looks a little like my Kenji doll. )
His head is very shiny, Sakura-obachan.
Sakura snorted. It's also very big, Ayame-chan, and it's filled with entirely too much hot air.
Please tell me soon so I can pick out a dress.
P.S. Can you bring me cookies when you come by? Thank you.
Sakura didn't even notice as the letter slid out of her hand, and fluttered down to the kitchen floor.
She was too busy laughing.
"Coming down with something, Uchiha?"
The former avenger slid a sideways glance at his rival for Konoha's biggest fanclub.
He scoffed, knowing better than to think that the other man had asked out of basic human compassion. No, they had a mission coming up, and Neji only wanted to ensure that he wouldn't be a liability.
"Shut up, Hyuuga. I'm not in the mood."
"Still sulking over that fight with Sakura-san, then? When will you learn..."
"You saw that?"
"You were in the mission office, Uchiha. Everyone saw it."
He took a small sip of his water, and looked back at Sasuke.
"If she's so damned 'annoying' as you put it, perhaps you wouldn't mind if I took her off your hands."
"Touch her and die."
"So stop complaining and just apologize. Suck it up."
Sometimes, he wondered why he even bothered having friends. His prior experiences with Naruto should have taught him a lesson.
He was startled out of his thoughts by the feel of an insistent tugging at his pants. He turned around only to come face with…
"Um…down here, Sasuke-ojichan."
The Uchiha cringed at the honorific. It was nice to know that Ino (and maybe Shikamaru, he wasn't quite sure, yet) held no grudges, but really, did she really have to encourage her daughter to call all of the male members of their old class that? It brought back entirely too many memories of families, and lost ones, and murderous, bastard brothers and—
"Uchiha. Your internal monologue. Turn it off. It's scaring Ayame-chan."
Shaking the dark thoughts out of his head, he turned back to the Nara, who was shuffling awkwardly on her little sandaled feet. Idly, he wondered where Ino or Shikamaru were, before spotting them a few feet away ordering food at the counter.
"Was there something you needed?"
The young girl, who was acting uncharacteristically bashful, seemed to have trouble meeting his eyes. Finally, after a moment's deliberation, she bowed and pushed both arms out. In her hands was a disturbingly familiar-looking pink envelope, decorated with pink glitter, red blobs that he supposed must have been drawings of tomatoes—she must have spoken to her mother, he thought, distantly—and a copious amount of red hearts.
"Please accept this as a token of my affection!"
Neji choked on a bite of his ramen. At any other time, Sasuke would have ridiculed him for it, but right now, he was too busy being (internally) horrified.
She turned to her mother, blue eyes alight with some of her usual excitement.
"Did I do it right, kaachan?"
Nara Ino smirked at the deer-in-headlights look on her former obsession's face.
"You did wonderfully, Ayame-chan."
Shikamaru looked at the scene before him, and groaned at whatever deity was listening.
"Why do none of the women in my life allow me a moment's peace? This is troublesome."
From where he sat, his forehead resting against Ichiraku's counter, Sasuke couldn't help but agree.
Sakura hummed softly, a basket of cookies hanging off of one hand. She sighed contentedly at the soft drizzle. Then storm clouds showed no signs of dissipating anytime soon, but Sakura wasn't complaining. She loved the heady smell of damp soil, and the peaceful realization that any impurities that had been hiding themselves in the earth were now being washed away. Like it's being reborn, she mused.
Like she, Sakura, had been. And if one haughty, egotistical, uptight jerk still didn't realize it, who cared? Sasuke's standard of strength didn't necessarily have to be her own.
"You? ANBU? You're not made for that kind of job. You're too soft."
Still, she thought sadly, it hurt that her motivation for improvement still hadn't seen her growth.
I'll have to tell Ayame-chan that her precious Sasuke-ojichan is a blockheaded idiot with more looks than brains.
She came to a stop in front of a pale green house and knocked on the front door. A moment later, it opened and a blonde head poked out.
"Forehead! Come in out of the rain, you're soaking wet."
Sakura rolled her eyes at the old insult and looked for an old rug to put her muddy boots on.
"Where are Shikamaru, and Ayame-chan?"
Ino took the basket and led her into the kitchen, where she began to make tea.
"Ayame-chan's in her bedroom, probably writing another letter to Sasuke. Shika-kun's at the missions office with Lee and Tenten-chan."
"No rest for the weary."
"You're telling me." Sakura fiddled with the hem of her khaki skirt. Ino watched her closely, knowing full well the cause of her best friend's discontent.
"Still sulking over Sasuke?"
The blonde huffed and blew a tuft of hair out of her eyes.
"Sakura, he's an idiot. We realized this when he left us for that snake-freak twelve years ago, and he has confirmed it many times since. What makes you forget this important little fact now?"
"Oh, God. Still? I totally knew it. Even if you denied it all those times, I saw through your lies."
Sakura was saved from answering when she heard the pitterpatter of footsteps.
The pink-haired woman caught her goddaughter mid-flight and swung her around before sitting back down and settling her on her lap. Ino merely looked on, amused, and poured her daughter a glass of milk.
"So, Ayame-chan. I read your letter."
"…are you angry, Sakura-obachan?"
"And why would I be angry, Ayame-chan?"
"Kaachan said that you and Sasuke-ojichan are tied together by the red tree of des-tee-nee," she said, stumbling over the foreign word. She looked up at her godmother again.
"Sakura-obachan, what's des-tee-nee? And why aren't there any red trees in ojiichan's store? I would like a red tree of des-tee-nee. Do you think Sasuke-ojichan likes red trees and destiny?"
She was obviously excited about something—probably her stupid uncle, Sakura thought sourly—Ayame usually spoke with a certain amount of finesse.
"I think you mean the red thread, Ayame-chan. And destiny…well, destiny is something that we cannot escape."
The little girl looked confused.
"Like when I can't get out of my bedsheets in the morning? Is that des-tee-nee?"
"…no, sweetheart. But anyway, tell me about your," Sakura looked around to see if anyone was listening, then continued in a stage whisper, "crush."
"Sakura-obachan! He might hear you!"
"Ayame-chan, Sasuke-kun is probably out training. Or deflating his fat head." She muttered the last part under her breath. Ayame , however, was having none of it.
"Sasuke-ojichan is the best ninja."
"Who told you that?"
"Sasuke-ojichan. And then Naruto-ojichan heard him, and tried to kick him in the head, but Sasuke-jichan dodged it because he's the best and Naruto-ojichan flew into the Hyuuga gardens again. Hiashi-sama was not happy."
"Anyway, Sakura-obachan, I need to know. Do you love Sasuke-ojichan, too?"
"That as—?" At the look on Ino's face, Sakura reevaluated her choice of words. "No, Ayame-chan, I do not. Your Sasuke-ojichan is an insensitive, chauvinistic—that means he hates women, Ayame-chan, so watch out!—arrogant, painfully proud man who still can't acknowledge that I'm not the same girl who used to kiss the ground he walked on! He doesn't know how to do laundry—you remember, don't you Ino-pig? When his washing machine exploded because he put too much detergent in?—and yet he mocks me because I'm not in the most elite shinobi organization in Konoha! Ha! Me? In love with that donkeyhead? No, Ayame-chan. He's all yours."
The little blonde looked at her, and Sakura had the uncomfortable feeling that she was being carefully dissected. Soon though, she began to smile.
"That's good, Sakura-obachan. I asked him to take me to the park tomorrow." She turned to her mother. "I'll be back before dinner," she said, almost as an afterthought.
Shikamaru, who had come back in time to hear the tail-end of the conversation, turned around and walked to his favorite cloud-watching site.
Sometimes, it was a bigger headache being the father of overly precocious Ayame-chan, and the husband of overly…everything Yamanaka Ino, than it was being the head strategist of Konoha's ANBU squad.
Uzumaki Naruto was laughing.
And damned near attracting the attention of everybody in Ichiraku.
"Shut up, moron. Your cackling is slowly destroying my eardrums."
The bright-eyed blond shrugged affably, and went back to his noodles.
"I have to say, I'm a little offended. Ayame-chan picked you over me?"
"It just shows she has taste, dead last."
But, true to his lack of attention-span, Naruto wasn't listening.
"Hey! Sakura-chan! Over here!"
Sasuke nudged his best friend in the ribs.
"Shut up, Naruto!"
"Not my fault you stuck your head up your ass…again."
There was no time to respond. Sakura was standing in front of them, eyes determinedly avoiding Sasuke's.
"Hi, Sakura-chan! What's up?"
"Nothing really, Naruto."
Sasuke got tired of being ignored rather quickly.
She glanced at him briefly, while Naruto excused himself to get more noodles (and to watch the show from a safer distance).
"Sorry, I don't acknowledge assholes." She smirked. "Besides, you have a girlfriend now, Sasuke-kun."
"Jealous, Sakura?" He smirked, before realizing his mistake.
"Of a six-year old? Not really, Sasuke-kun. But, just think. If you'd been a little less of an asswipe, your first date would have been with somebody you could kissgoodnight. You know, without crouching." It was unreal, the effect she had on him. She had simply lowered her voice on the word kiss, and suddenly, he suddenly felt the urge to pull at the high collar of his shirt. Maybe that was why he kept giving her such a hard time.
She leaned in, her pink tongue darting out to moisten her lips. She rested her hand lightly against his cloth-covered chest and brought her lips close to his ear. When she spoke, he felt them move against his skin, and tried—unsuccessfully—to suppress a shiver.
"If you break Ayame-chan's heart, I'll shove your head through six layers of bedrock."
She pulled back.
"And I don't mean the one on your shoulders."
At six o'clock the next evening, Uchiha Sasuke was standing on the doorstep of the Nara house, hands stuffed in his pocket.
He rang the doorbell, and tried in vain to remember any reason—besides the real one—why he would agree to this.
The door opened to reveal Nara Ayame, dressed in her favorite dark blue dress and white sandals. She had curled her hair, and…were those her mother's earrings?
He took in the pretty picture she made and almost smiled.
Behind her, Shikamaru stood, a smirk on his face.
"I never thought I'd be having The Talk this early. And with you, of all people. But, whatever. I guess this is the part where I lay down the ground rules."
"Sasuke-ojichan, could I ask you a question?"
The Uchiha paused, and looked down at his companion. Really, she was much more tolerable than her mother had been at her age. More tolerable than any women he knew, really.
Especially that annoying pink-haired one.
"Why are you not dating Sakura-obachan?"
Sasuke proceeded to (very gracefully) choke on air.
Ayame sighed. Her mother told her that when one was starting a relationship it was very important that there be only two people in it. When Ayame had explained that "of course there are only two people in it, kaachan! Me and Sasuke-ojichan!" her mother had shaken her head and proceeded to explain that her Sasuke-ojichan was an idiot and that he was in love with Sakura-obachan. He just didn't know it yet. Or was "in dee-ny-ul." Ayame then asked where that was and what the weather was like there—it still hadn't stopped raining, and Ayame was getting sick of it—and her mother had answered that "it must have been nice and clear since your otouchan spent a good four years there."
Sasuke, who had finally recovered, looked at her incredulously.
"What makes you ask that?"
"Just answer my question, ojichan."
"I-I…no! Your Sakura-obachan is annoying! She's overly sensitive, and she's stupid, and she still hasn't figured out why her last three dates have ended up in the hospital with second-degree burns. She can't cook anything—you remember when she managed to burn water, don't you Ayame—seriously, who does that? She's unreasonable about her long work hours, and she gets insulted when I tell her she's not dirty enough to be in ANBU with me! So no, Ayame, I do not love your pig-headed Sakura-obachan!"
He was breathing heavily by the end of his rant.
Ayame was looking at him, calculatingly.
"That settles it, Sasuke-ojichan."
"Settles what? What just happened?"
Ayame folded her arms across her chest, looking eerily like an Ino from a different time.
"First of all, ojichan, I didn't ask you whether you loved Sakura-obachan. I asked why you weren't dating her. Second of all, you and and Sakura-obachan think exactly the same way. It's scary."
Sasuke jerked to attention.
"Did your…I mean…your Sakura-obachan…was talking about me?" He tried desperately hard to sound like he didn't care.
"Don't pull that with me, ojichan." She sighed.
"This isn't working out. I think you'd better take me home."
"Are you…are you breaking up with me, Ayame?"
She patted his hand.
"It's for the best, ojichan."
Sakura sat on the Hokage Mountain enjoying the feel of raindrops sliding down her skin.
"You'll get sick out if you're not careful."
"I took her home."
She didn't look at him he sat down next to her.
"What are you doing here?" She had never been the kind of person who could easily forget, even if it was Sasuke. Sometimes, that just made it harder.
"I'm not weak."
He didn't respond, and it made her angry.
"Did you hear me, Sasuke-kun? I'm not weak. I can break boulders with my pinky if I so choose, and smash mountains with my fists. I train just as much as you and Naruto, and…"
She wiped away a tear. Or a raindrop. She couldn't really tell. She added that to her list of reasons for loving the rain. It made it easier to hide her "weakness."
"I'm not weak, Sasuke-kun. I might have been before, but I've changed. So don't tell me I can't do ANBU."
He surprised her, taking a lock of hair that had been in her eyes and tucking it behind her ear. She looked at him, surprised.
"It wasn't an insult, you know? When I said you were soft…Sakura…I…"
He looked at her, dark eyes smoldering.
You are the only part of me that has not been stained red. I don't want you there.
"You don't belong in ANBU, Sakura, and I am glad for it."
"...you...you just can't stand it when I'm mad at you, so you say all that sweet stuff to make me melt. Admit it. "
"Or are you sick? You're never nice to me unless you're sick."
"...shut up, and enjoy it."
He awkwardly laced his fingers through hers, and squeezed.
And, never one to question an order from her"superior"
(unless he was being a donkeyhead...again)
she squeezed back.
"Are you sure you're all right, Ayame-chan?" Ino looked worried. It was her baby girl's first heartbreak—by the same guy, honestly, what was it about him?—and she wasn't sure she wanted to leave her alone just yet. Admittedly, Ayame looked all right. Right now, she was sitting at her desk and writing…
"Ayame-chan? What are you doing?"
Her daughter smiled.
"Just writing a letter."
I'm writing to ask you about Neji-ojichan…