title: The Dating Game
authors: the fanon blanket
pairing(s): …SasuSaku, NaruKarin, maybe some others.
summary: "Aa." Kakashi's lone eye crinkled in amusement. "It would appear that the two of you are doing 'The Dating Game…"
disclaimer: So, um, none of it is ours. NONE.
notes: So! It took a bit longer than expected, but in our defense, we've written other things in the meanwhile. I hope this chapter induces some roffle-fits. :)
Naruto hummed Mission Impossible theme song as he stealthily stepped into Shikamaru's room. It wasn't hard really, since Shikamaru's mother loved Naruto – most people did – so when he told her Shikamaru had asked him to pick something up, she immediately led him inside.
He continued to hum until—
"Would you shut the hell up already?!"
Naruto cringed as Sakura's naturally piercing voice rang through his ears, seeming to be louder than usual. Suddenly, he regretted putting duct tape on the button that now kept him in constant contact with Sakura and Sasuke's matching walkie-talkie. "Ow…" he moaned painfully.
"Okay, now, Naruto—"
"OI!" The blond rolled his eyes when Sasuke spoke, and let out an annoyed huff into the microphone. "It's Agent Foxy—"
"Um, no!" Sakura interrupted. "We decided you'd be Agent Spanky Pants, remember?"
"Yeah, but we also said that if I was Agent Spanky Pants, then you'd be Agent Crunky," Naruto fought back. If anyone was watching him, they'd probably think he was insane with the way he was standing in the middle of Shikamaru's room talking to nobody in the dark. "I mean, it is only the laws of biology, Miss Total-Light-Weight-Who-Gets-Plastered-After-One-Shot-And-Sings-Bad-Terrible-Horrible-Karaoke—"
"YOU SHUT THE HELL UP!"
Sasuke grunted into the walkie-talkie to voice his annoyance.
Naruto scowled, and on reflex, made the finger only to remember Sasuke couldn't see him, thus he settled for voicing his thoughts. "Aw, fuck you, Agent Cockatoo—"
"Stop calling me that, idiot."
"But it suits your hair—"
"Yeah," Sakura interjected. "I thought we agreed he was Agent Pretty Boy."
Naruto snorted and gave a sardonic laugh. "Yeah, sure, like I would actually call that loser a Pretty Boy." He paused for a moment and then a smirk made its way onto his lips. "And besides, the one that we agreed on was Agent Queer of Hearts—"
"I'll kill you."
Sakura sighed loudly over the walkie-talkie.
"Agent Spanky Pants, just shut up and get the guitar."
Naruto frowned then. "You forgot to say 'over', Agent Crunky, over."
"We had a whole conversation about codenames and none of us said 'over'. Does it really matter?"
"YES, AGENT CRUNKY, IT DOES MATTER. YOU SHOULD CARE, OVER."
"Well I don't care, over."
He paused before smiling and muttering under his breath, "…Your mom does, over."
"…IF YOU DO NOT SHUT THE HELL UP AND GET THE DAMNED GUITAR RIGHT NOW, YOUR LIFE WILL BE OVER!" Sakura screeched back. "OVER."
With a frown on his tanned face, Naruto looked around Shikamaru's room to find the wooden instrument. The walls were painted a nice light blue, towards the top, along with the ceiling, with fluffy white clouds on them, too, but towards the middle and downward, they were a leaf green. He remembered the last time he were in Shikamaru's room, the lazy brunet had explained that when he was in the midst of repainting his walls green, he got lazy and that finishing the job would just be too troublesome.
"Did you find the guitar yet?"
Naruto rolled his eyes at Sasuke's tone. He didn't like it. Naruto took issue with Sasuke's damned holier-than-thou attitude. It was annoying.
"Tch, did you find your sex drive yet?" Naruto muttered back. He rummaged through Shikamaru's clothes which were all strewn across the room. He cringed at a pair of dirty socks he came across, and thought it'd be best not to touch the pizza box that was sitting on the floor.
"I'll kill you."
"You've said that to me twice now in the past three minutes, Agent Emo Bastard. Get a new line, seriously!" Naruto grunted and went over to Shikamaru's bookshelf, looking through the books and DVDs that were stacked there. "And I mean, with what, the Power of Emo? What, Sasuke? Are you gonna show me how to slit my wrists properly?"
"OH, MY GOD!" Naruto suddenly yelled.
"What?! What's wrong?!" Sakura questioned. He could hear the concern in her voice but paid it no heed.
A wide grin pulled at Naruto's lips. "HOLY CRAP, BASTARD! SHIKAMARU HAS NASTY, NAUGHTY NURSES PART FOUR!"
The moment the words came out of his mouth and he heard Sakura inhaling deeply, Naruto knew he'd probably be in need of a hearing aid in the near future.
The Dating Game
Take It Like a Man
Sasuke winced at the sheer volume in Sakura's dulcet tones, and then glared.
"Right next to you," he reminded her snidely. "So loud. And annoying," he said, as an afterthought.
"Shut the hell up, Swiss-Miss."
Sakura met his angry glare with one of her own, breathing heavily as she tried to regain the oxygen she'd lost while yelling at the moron. Sasuke wished she'd quit it. Her gasping was doing all sorts of interesting things to the green button-down she was wearing, and that drop of perspiration he couldn't help following with his eyes was dipping down into the hollow of her throat, leaving a slight, damp trail in its wake. It didn't help that she'd left the first two buttons undone in a concession to the heat wave. When she made a move to unbutton the third, he decided he'd had enough.
Sakura looked at him, clearly confused.
"Breathing," he said, instantly regretting how ridiculous it sounded in open air. "It's loud," he clarified, after clearing his throat. Clearly, the heat wave was causing delusions.
Sakura furrowed her brows at him for a moment, and opened her mouth to reply, but ultimately, decided against it.
"How much longer does that moron need?"
"He should be back soon," she replied, though it sounded distant. There was something else on her mind, but before he could think to ask her about it, she turned to him, a question on her lips.
"Sasuke, do you read porn?"
Almost as soon as the words left her mouth, Sasuke felt the tips of his ears heating up, and knew instantly that they were now a flagrantly embarrassing red.
"Why do," he said, voice cracking on the second word. Stupid monosyllables, he groused internally, before opening his mouth to try again—and this time, with dignity. "Why do you ask?"
"I was just wondering, is all," Sakura replied, playing with a lock of her hair. "I mean, I'm sure all guys do, but you don't exactly have any hormones, so I mean—"
Sakura stared at him as though he'd grown a second head.
"I have hormones," he retorted, almost defensively. Sakura smirked.
"Really now? Let's go down the list, shall we?" Ignoring his clenching fists, Sakura began. "You definitely don't get enough serotonin, since you don't smile very often—the rare times that you do, small babies, and baby animals alike start to mewl in terror. While we're at it, we can strike dopamine off the list, since you don't seem to get any particular enjoyment out of food, and as far as I know," she continued, her voice growing softer, "you don't get any happiness from being sociable. And well…" Sakura said, her voice trailing off. "Then, there's your libido…"
"That isn't a hormone," Sasuke said tightly.
She was looking at him now, with an emotion that he could not identify. There was certainly realization there, as though she was just now waking into awareness—an epiphany—a dawning sort of understanding, and a wistful sort of distance. But there was something else, too, a sadness that he almost called longing.
"No, it isn't," she said, still speaking so softly that he had to strain to hear her. "But still. There's no desire here, is there?"
For a moment, there was nothing but silence. Sasuke shifted uncomfortably in his seat, wondering at the sudden tension in the air. Sakura avoided his eyes—she knew that continuing along the same vein would only make things more awkward—and lifted the walkie-talkie to her lips, intent on asking Naruto about his progress, when a shrill scream filtered in from the living room.
"You total bitch!"
Sasuke groaned at the sound of shattering vase that followed the exclamation. Sakura looked at him, suddenly apologetic.
"I'm sorry, Sasuke. It must be a pain having them over for this."
He waved off her apology, glad that the unease had dissipated.
"Whatever. I'm going to go make sure that those harpies don't break anything. You—stay."
"What am I, your dog?"
As an answer, Sasuke said nothing, only pausing to pat her head absently as he walked into the catastrophe that used to be his living room.
"What the hell is going on here?" Sasuke asked, scowling, as he entered the fray. He cocked his head to the side clinically as he took in the scene in front of him. As Ino and Karin were rolling around on the ground, he noticed that their shirts half-off, and sent a smug I-absolutely-have-hormones-watch-me-as-I-prove-it mental note to Sakura. From the scratches on Karin's cheeks, it looked like Ino hadn't taken the redhead's attempts at choking her with her own blonde hair too kindly.
Sasuke shuddered—he was so very glad he had a penis. At least boys fought with fists instead of pointy fingers. He turned to Temari who seemed to be egging Karin on in her fight against the other blonde.
"Where's Shikamaru? He was supposed to keep all of you in line."
Kin looked up from her textbook—Machiavelli: On Social Class and Class Conflict, the standing-room only class taught by Orochimaru-sensei—to answer, as Temari and Tayuya, who'd just come out from the bathroom, seemed to be more occupied with the mêlée on the floor.
"He went out for a cigarette break."
Sasuke glowered, but said nothing.
"Where's," panted Ino, "Sakura?"
"She's in the kitchen," he replied indifferently.
"Recovering from your recent love-fest," Tayuya asked slyly.
Sasuke was as responsive as a stone fox.
"What are you talking about, exactly?"
"You'd have to be an idiot not to see it."
"But then," interrupted Ino, "Sasuke-kun's never been the sharpest crayon in the box. At least not when it comes to this."
Karin sat up, the argument now mostly forgotten. She'd deal with Ino's comments about Naruto's inability to help her with their own project—"he's forgotten how to get anything but himself done—and don't think I don't blame you for his distraction, you total whore!" Here was a chance to dig for information about Sakura's strange behaviour the other day.
"That's definitely true," she murmured, pushing her glasses up on the bridge of her nose. "Definitely not the freshest tomato in the garden—much to Sakura's disappointment, I'm sure."
"He's an idiot, isn't he? And probably asexual."
"Oh, absolutely. Didn't you see him the other day when she fell in his lap?"
"What kind of guy wouldn't cop a feel? He just sat there, like 'oh, some girl just fell into my lap, so I'm gonna sit here and wonder why she's not getting off, instead of snogging her brains out, or I dunno, maybe some touchie-touchie. By the way, I am a nineteen-year-old male.' " Ino twitched.
Karin nodded emphatically.
Sasuke gaped at the two of them for a moment, before shaking his head.
"Weren't the two of you fighting just now?"
Ino and Karin looked at each other.
"Whore," Ino offered lamely.
Sasuke rolled his eyes.
"So Sakura-chan, what are you wearing?"
Sakura rolled her eyes at his stupid question as she stirred her freshly cooked instant ramen. "Naruto, I'll kill you."
"Kidding! Kidding!" She heard Naruto let out an annoyed sigh over the line. "Fine, so what are you doing? Make conversation with me, I'm bored, Sakura-chan!"
She slurped up some noodles while walking over to the backyard deck. It was a particularly nice place during the day, especially when it was sunny. The doors to the backyard deck were simply long panels of glass. Ignoring Naruto's banter, she continued walking over to the door, sliding it open and stepping outside, enjoying the nice October breeze. It was sunny outside that day, with a clear blue sky and clean fresh air. It was on days like these when Sakura appreciated the relatively secluded area the Uchiha brothers called home. Their backyard was fairly large, and led into a forest and a small ravine.
Sighing comfortably, Sakura put her ramen and chopsticks down on the deck table and curled into the chair she chose, contemplating a tan.
"I really appreciate you ignoring me," Naruto declared sarcastically. "Seriously. I was even being nice. All I did was ask what you were doing—"
"I'm eating," Sakura muttered into the walkie-talkie. "I'm eating ramen."
"…Are you hitting on me?"
With a growl, Sakura threw the walkie-talkie across the deck and successfully landed it in the rose garden Sasuke's mother had put there during the summer when his parents were living in the house. She winced, noticing a few bent flowers and told herself that she'd plant some bulbs there next week.
Sakura picked up her food and began to munch on her noodles in a relatively peaceful silence, not really caring about the possibility of the girls eating Sasuke alive or whatnot. When she finished, she placed the empty cup and chopsticks back on the table. Yawning, Sakura pulled the sunglasses that were resting in her hair and put them on properly as she lay under the warm sun.
Her peaceful quiet was interrupted by the sound of the door sliding open and someone stepping onto the deck.
Propping herself up on her elbows, Sakura turned her head slightly and bit back a moan at what she saw.
Oh, my God!
"Good morning, Sakura," Itachi greeted when he saw her.
HELLS YES, IT IS A GOOD MORNING! Inner Sakura cackled as Outer Sakura shamelessly allowed her eyes to wander over Itachi's form behind her dark sunglasses.
Everything seemed to cling to his body, Sakura noted as she fought the urge to gawk, from his black shirt to his shoes. She found her cheeks heating up from the sight of his muscles rippling beneath the form-fitting tank top and the way his cropped pants stuck to his body like a second skin.
Don't stare at his crotch. Don't stare at his crotch. DAMNIT STOP STARING AT HIS CROTCH!
Sakura swallowed painfully and diverted her gaze to the wooden floor. "Good morning, Itachi. What are you up to?"
"Just some morning yoga," he replied calmly, gesturing to the mat he was holding that Sakura failed to notice earlier. "Would you care to join me?"
Inner Sakura was having a seizure. Hun, I can think of something else I'd rather join you in.
"Um…" Sakura smiled at him politely as she shook her head. "No thanks. I'm busy."
He raised an eyebrow at her in a way that made her want to swoon. "Oh?" Itachi eyed the empty ramen cup on the table. "Are you sure? I think it could do you well."
"…Excuse me?!" Sakura hissed, taking extreme offence to his words. Instinctively, she glanced down at her flat belly, frowning at the way her tank top was hugging her hips. She was petite, damnit, and she so was not fat! How dare he say such a thing?! Sakura stomped towards Itachi and poked him harshly in the chest, resisting the urge to run her finger down his hard muscles. "I will have you know that I am totally in shape."
Itachi smiled patronizingly. "Ah, I am sure you are."
"I am!" Sakura huffed, about to have a childish temper tantrum. She scowled at him and lightly slapped his arm. "I go jogging every other morning, you know. And I'm on the school's volleyball team. And I do yoga everyday! Ha, I even drag Naruto with me to my Saturday morning classes, so the joke's on you, buddy!" With a triumphant and smug grin, Sakura placed her hands on her hips while staring Itachi down. "Take that!"
Sakura gulped uncomfortably as she felt his eyes rove along her body. He lifted his gaze to meet her eyes and a smirk pulled at his lips.
"I think I'll need to see some proof to believe that."
Neither Sakura nor Itachi noticed when in the midst of their banter, Sasuke had stepped onto the deck with a calculating stare focused on them. He stared at his brother for a moment before frowning at Itachi's outfit.
"Yoga, again?" Sasuke inquired, sounding rather pained.
Itachi closed his eyes momentarily and ran a hand through his long black hair. "It's healthy." His smirk reappeared once again as he returned his younger brother's stare. "But you already know that, don't you Sasu-chan?"
Sasuke's cheeks flushed and Sakura stared at her friend confusedly. "Huh?"
"Sasuke used to do yoga as well," Itachi explained with a cruel smile on his perfect lips.
"What?" Sakura couldn't contain her giggles as she stared at Sasuke incredulously, ignoring the blatant glare directed to her. "Are you serious?"
"Our mother used to make us do it with her when we were kids," muttered Sasuke as he glared at Itachi for revealing the secret. "Stop laughing—"
"I'm sorry!" she apologized half-heartedly. As her laughter faded away, Sakura moved away from Itachi and over to Sasuke, placing a hand on his shoulder. "Really," she continued, struggling to sound genuine. "It's nothing to be embarrassed by, Sasuke-kun! I mean, I make Naruto do yoga with me. Maybe you should come with us one time!"
"It's good for you!"
He continued glaring.
"Fine, fine…" Sakura raised her hands in a mock-surrender. Before she could control herself, Sakura grinned at him in an almost seductive manner. "But I'll have you know, I am very flexible."
She felt validated at the sight of Sasuke blushing and swallowing in what was most likely nervousness. There was a light sheen of sweat on his forehead and she was absolutely positive it wasn't from just standing in the sun. As his Adam's apple bobbed, Sakura rejoiced.
And then she remembered Itachi was still there.
Oh, okay, I am a whore, Sakura mentally wailed. I am a dirty, dirty whore. Did I seriously just flirt with one guy and then move onto his brother? Ugh, I am going to hell…
"I…" Sasuke cleared his throat and regained his composure. His blush faded and he went to his usual impassive expression. "I'll go get Shikamaru. Naruto's back already."
She nodded slowly. "Sure."
When he left, Sakura turned around to apologize to Itachi for just about ignoring him but frowned when she saw him across the yard and entering the dirt path for the forest.
Sakura sighed and tried not to think about what she got herself into.
"All right! We're finally gonna start our project," Naruto exclaimed, bouncing on the balls of his feet in his excitement. Sakura rolled her eyes, and placed the video camera on the ground to make room for her beloved megaphone. Sasuke tried hard to stifle a snort.
Ino shot him a dark look as she swept her blonde bangs behind her ears.
"Idiot! This isn't your project, remember," she reminded him pointedly. "We haven't even started ours, yet."
"God, are you ever going to give him a break about that? No wonder you agreed to being on The Dating Game—this is probably your one shot at a relationship, huh," Karin muttered under her breath.
Ino looked at her, blue eyes narrowed with a thinly-veiled threat.
"What are you implying, you stupid cow?"
Evidently, Sasuke mused, as he watched with wary eyes, the truce from earlier had been long forgotten.
"What was that, you bleach-blonde witch?"
Just as Ino was about to pounce, Kin cleared her throat.
"Pardon me for interrupting your…witty banter," she said snidely, lip curling in distaste, "but some of us have places to be, and can't afford to waste time."
Temari nodded in agreement, though she had been watching the confrontation with more than just casual interest, while Tayuya outright scowled at the deterrence of bloodshed.
Naruto pouted. Just when things were getting good, Kin had to go and interrupt.
"Anyway," Sakura continued, clearing her throat, and ignoring the screeching feedback that came with her shrill pitch. "Back to the point." She opened her mouth, and then paused. "Actually, maybe we should explain the whole gist of this set-up."
"That'd help, Forehead," Ino said lowly, still stewing over Karin's comments.
Sakura ignored the old insult, and smiled serenely.
"For as long as they have been around," she began, "dating game shows have long favoured the idea of masculine agency. That is," she continued, now picking up steam, "they have long implied that a woman's place is—"
"You're wrong," Shikamaru said slowly, his eyes still shut, and head still tipped back against Sasuke's backyard porch. "If dating games were proponents of masculine agency, then the women wouldn't typically be the ones who chose the winner, since that is after all the definition of the word agency, at least in this case, isn't it? Then again, you would have known all that, if you'd done more research and less ki—"
"Anyway," Sakura said loudly, drowning out the rest of Shikamaru's words with a dark look. From her vantage point in front of the group, she could see Kin nodding her agreement with a thoughtful look, Temari's slow smirk, and Ino's sudden giggle-fit.
She snorted. What the hell did they see in him?
"Thank you, Shikamaru," she said, imbuing the words with more frost than a blizzard in mid-winter.
"Want some Icy-Hot to help with that burn?"
Sasuke sighed and pushed his right arm out to stop Sakura from tackling Naruto for his quip. He'd better be getting some sort of eternal reward at the end of his life, he thought irritably—it was the least God could do for making him suffer the indignity of sharing the same breathing space with such…bumpkins. Clearly, if anything was going to be done today, he would have to take charge. He nabbed the megaphone out of Sakura's suddenly stiff hands, and cuffed Naruto on the back of the head. The blond looked anything but offended. If anything, he seemed to leer at Sasuke with what looked like a perverse sort of camaraderie.
"Hey, Sasuke! I knew you had it in you! I knew that your priss-act was just you playing hard-to-get! You love the ladies, don't you?"
Sasuke twitched when Naruto continued to grin at him in that irritating, loud, obnoxious way he seemed to specialize in doing.
"What the hell are you talking about, dumbass?"
"Take a look at where your hand landed when you went to stop Sakura-chan from attempting to pummel me."
Sasuke arched a brow, and flexed his right hand experimentally. He was surprised to hear the startled squeak that came as a result of his reflexive action, as well as the gasps of Shikamaru's harem. What was so—
Then, he paused.
There was something…soft underneath his hand. Rather like a pillow, he mused. Rounded, perhaps, and just big enough to fill the palm of his…
He was squeezing Sakura's…bosom.
Sakura had a Dilemma.
In one hand—and she ignored how her Inner cackled over how thoroughly appropriate her word choice was—the potential Love of Her Life was holding her in that…oh so special way lovers did, though granted, generally they did this sort of thing in private. Recent trysts with Itachi aside, Sasuke was the epitome of all her girlish fantasies, the dream she'd never quite given up for lost.
On the other hand, he was groping her.
The bastard didn't even have the common courtesy to at least ask her out on a date first!
She didn't know whether she was more upset about that, or at the fact that he'd actually screamed—screamed!—in what sounded like horror that any part of his precious person had come in contact with her…heart.
She felt herself stiffen at the thought, her arms rising to rest against her chest.
Unfortunately, she'd forgotten that Sasuke, due to what she could only assume was immense shock, had yet to remove his hand.
Sasuke's eyes twitched as he felt his hand digging deeper into forbidden territory. By now, Naruto had gotten past his amusement and was staring, mouth agape, blue eyes wide at the spontaneous—and infinitely awkward—porn scene in front of him. Finally, he regained control of himself, shaking his head to rid it of his daze.
"He—hey, you two! Save that for later, all right? Sasuke's room is like, twenty steps away, and I'm not really up for a free show. Why don't we just get back to the project?"
It was as though he'd emptied a bucket of water over their heads. Instantly, Sakura's arms released Sasuke's hands from their hormonal death-trap, and the two spent the next few minutes staring determinedly at everything except each other.
It was, Naruto decided, more than just a little funny to watch.
Ah well, he'd tease them about it later.
"Now that the Playboy preview's over with," Naruto said, waggling his eyebrows pointedly, "let's start over. Basically, ladies, we are making you work for our little Fairy Prince." Here, he threw a wicked look at Shikamaru, who had not moved from his lounging position.
"Please, Naruto," Sakura said, rubbing her temples and avoiding Sasuke's eyes. "Let me finish."
Naruto's face fell.
"Fine. I'll just go talk to Karin, then."
He bounded to the back of the crowd to where his red-haired girlfriend was waiting, and proceeded to sulk at having the megaphone taken away. Sakura ignored the theatrics.
"As Naruto said, the four of you ladies are going to be given a few…let's call them tasks. I mean, you've all read the fairy tales—yet another symbol of Man's domination—right? There's always some epic quest the Prince has to undertake, in order to get his True Heart's Desire." She sighed a little at this, while behind her, Sasuke mimed gagging.
"Anyway, you're going to be doing the same thing. Today," Sakura declared, "we're wresting control away from those chauvinistic bastards! You guys," she said, including Kin, Ino, Tayuya and Temari, in her sweeping gesture, "are going to show everyone that women can fight for Love just as hard as men do!"
An awkward silence and a muffled snore from Shikamaru was the only response she got.
"Your first task," he said, determined to avoid Sakura's eyes for the rest of his life, "has been taken from The Frog Prince. In it, the titular character has to retrieve the princess's precious golden ball, in order to obtain her happiness, and her favour. We've taken something of equal value from Shikamaru," he said monotonously, ignoring Shikamaru's sudden grunt of protest, "and hidden it in the forest behind me. Your first task is to find this item, and deliver it to your…princess with as little damage done as possible."
"Within one hour."
Naruto ran up to the front again, unwilling to be left out of the explanation.
"Yeah, one hour," Naruto yelled loudly, flush with enthusiasm. "And we'll be getting all the action with Sakura-chan's trusty video camera!"
Sakura shook her head at his volume, but said nothing, clearly resigned to a life without functioning eardrums. She looked at the "contestants" in front of her— at Kin's calculating eyes, Temari's confident smirk, Tayuya's bloodlust (or, well, maybe that was just plain lust—Sakura couldn't really tell), and Ino's fluttering hands.
"Are there any questions?"
Again, only silence greeted her query.
"All right, then. Let the games begin."