Disclaimer: I have no legal rights to any of the Naruto characters or settings. Just for fun, no profit involved. Sadly...
Warnings: Yes, this is Shounen-ai meaning boyxboy love of the sasu/naru variety. Probably will not be anything explicit.
Rating: T for language, slight violence, and non-graphic adult situations. If you think I should up it, please let me know.
A/N: I started writing this somewhere during all those filler episodes, lost interest, then decided to pick it up again a little while back. It's set in the Naruto universe, but goes AU from the fight at the Valley of the End. It probably will not be a very long story. Sorry I couldn't think of a better title! As always, constructive criticism is welcomed and appreciated. It's been awhile since I last wrote fanfiction, so hope this isn't too obviously rusty... Also, no beta, so I apologize for any errors.
Gentlemen Prefer Blonds
"He's hardly even listening to me!" Sakura's voice, despite the distorting effect of the wire it was transmitted through, was clearly frustrated. "I don't know what to do. He's scanning the room while I talk. He hardly even batted an eyelash when I came over here."
"It's okay, Sakura." Kakashi's voice was also somewhat tinny. "We've got time. If this doesn't work out, we can just try out something else tomorrow."
"Where is he now?" Sasuke interjected.
"He went to the bar to get another drink," answered Sakura. "He's been gone about five minutes." Her tone was dry when she continued, "I don't think he's in any rush to get back here."
Sasuke looked across the table to Naruto. Although the bar they were in was only dimly lit, his teammate's blond hair was as bright as ever. "Do you see him?" he asked.
Naruto shook his head. From where he was seated, he could clearly see the small, round table at which Sakura had accosted their current target. She was sitting there alone, a very large bag on the stool next to her, but he hadn't yet spotted the target at the bar. Maybe he'd gone to the men's room or something.
"I don't know, this asshole didn't even try and look down my shirt," Sakura continued, sounding affronted. "Maybe we should get Ino in here. Her seduction skills were always top of the class. And lots of guys prefer blondes anyways."
Barely paying attention as Kakashi attempted to reassure Sakura, Naruto subtly shifted his head from side to side. He didn't see how any normal male could object to Sakura's outfit. He himself had certainly tried to look down her top when the team first met up for the mission. The jeans she was wearing looked like they were practically molded to her body, and the black tank was tight enough, and low-cut enough, to display the girl inside it to her best advantage.
And yet there was at least one male in the room who seemed totally oblivious. Well, maybe two, Naruto decided. Sasuke hadn't seemed all that impressed either, but he assumed that was because his rival was a cold-blooded bastard. Their target, on the other hand, was slightly more inexplicable.
The man they were after was a second-rate nin from the Village of Hidden Grass. He had stopped in Konoha yesterday and was there just long enough to steal some sort of clan scroll from the Inuzukas. Tsunade had not told them what information the scroll contained, just told them to return it, posthaste. Adding that she didn't think it would be very hard, since the nin had been sloppy enough to leave his scent all over the compound. They had successfully tracked him to the next town over, where he seemed to be enjoying a leisurely day or two off. Naruto frowned in irritation. The man was clearly barely competent, and how he had managed to even break into the Inuzukas without being caught was beyond him. Kiba had just turned slightly red and refused to answer when he asked him point blank.
As long as the scroll was unopened, they didn't want to kill the nin. Although he had perpetrated the first offense, lethal retaliation might be…diplomatically problematic. Tsunade had told him that if he wanted to be Hokage, he was going to have to learn that killing people was not the solution for everything. Hence the seduction techniques. Or failed seduction techniques. He sighed and looked away from Sakura.
He wished that Kiba had come with them on the retrieval mission, instead of Sasuke. Unfortunately, he was too clearly a member of the Inuzuka clan, and they didn't want to alert the target that they were on to him.
"Ah. There he is," Naruto's voice was low, but Sasuke could see the focus in his teammate's remarkably blue eyes.
"What's he doing?" Sasuke's back was to the bar, so he could only watch the room as it was reflected in Naruto's facial expressions. After several reconnaissance missions, the team had decided that this was best. Naruto had to face the action or he would get squirmy, but at the same time he needed someone to block the room from watching him; when he got excited his face was still too easy to read. Especially for a ninja. Although Sasuke didn't like to have his back to the room, he considered his other senses to be sufficiently alert enough to keep him aware of any significant changes in the atmosphere of the room behind him.
"Talking with the bartender." Naruto sipped from the water sitting in front of him, his eyes fixed on the dark-haired shinobi currently ordering sake. Suddenly the grass nin spun around, his eyes locking on Naruto's.
"Oh shit," Naruto cursed, "he caught me."
The grass nin crooked a finger at the teenager, and Naruto blanched slightly.
"What's going on?" hissed Sasuke.
"He's beckoning to me. Dammit."
"You'd better go, Naruto," Kakashi's voice warned over the wire. "Try not to blow our cover."
"I know." Naruto stood from his seat and made his way over to the bar, weaving carefully around half-full tables and pushed-out chairs. Alone at the table, Sasuke shifted in his seat so that he could watch the boy at the bar. Briefly he wished that the place was better lit. It was hard to see details from where he was sitting. Sakura, too, was quiet, sipping on her drink as she watched Naruto approach their target.
As Naruto neared the bar, he could feel himself sweating. Rookie mistake, he berated himself. How could he have let himself be caught staring like that? He was supposed to have learned some subtlety in the five years since he had graduated from the Academy. Nervously, he raised his eyes to the face of the man lounging against the bar.
"Some sake for my friend here," the other shinobi said to the bartender. As the man turned to get Naruto's drink, Naruto appraised the target. Taller than himself by at least a couple of inches. Probably near Kakashi in height. Trim, like most shinobi, long straight nose, a thinnish mouth. Dark hair framed an oval face, and hazel eyes were looking at him, their expression piercing. Well, at least now he was sure that this was the right target. The man in front of him fit the description in the mission perfectly. He was pretty sure that Sakura would have olfactory confirmation by then anyhow. In any case, even his civilian clothing couldn't hide the fact that the man in front of him moved like a ninja.
The mouth quirked up slightly at the corners. "See something you like?" he teased, leaning closer to Naruto.
"Wh-What?" Naruto hadn't been expecting that. He had been sure that the other man had marked them as ninja.
"You've been staring at me all night, gorgeous," answered the other man. "I was starting to think you were never going to come over." He rested fingertips lightly on the shorter man's wrist, than ran them up to the shoulder and back down again, an action that caused the blond in front of him to look rather flustered.
"Well," said Sakura over the wire, "No wonder he wasn't interested in me."
Naruto tried to collect his wits, made even more difficult by the voices in his ear.
At their table, Sasuke straightened. He couldn't believe his ears. That man, the target¸ was hitting on his blasted teammate. He squinted a little, trying to see through the gloom; although he couldn't see Naruto, he knew the exact face that went with that stuttered "what." His eyes would've widened to an impossible extent, and his head would be canted slightly to the left. In fact, Sasuke knew Naruto's tones and expressions surprisingly well. Surprisingly thoroughly. He told himself that it was natural for a sharingan-user to memorize all his teammate's expressions, and was careful never to ask himself if he had memorized the expressions of everyone on his team, or just of one knuckleheaded blond.
He craned his neck a little, wishing he could see better. The slight haze of smoke in the air was distorting his view, and he needed to switch seats if he wanted to watch the bar without straining his neck looking over his own shoulder.
"Your friend's looking over here," the Grass nin murmured to Naruto, using the opportunity to advance slightly into the blonds' personal space. "Think he minds?"
"Huh? Oh." Naruto glanced over his shoulder at Sasuke, and nearly had to fight back a snicker at what he saw. The Uchiha was currently turned half around in his seat, his eyes, though hard to see from the bar, were clearly fixed on Naruto and the Grass nin.
"Nah. He's fine," Naruto continued, laying subtle emphasis on his next words. "He doesn't care. He'll probably turn around any minute now and go hit on some girl or something." He lifted a hand and waved idly at the boy now sitting alone at their table.
Back at the table, Sasuke frowned. Hit on some girl? What exactly was Naruto trying to tell him?
"I guess he does prefer blonds, after all," came Sakura's voice.
Oh. Sasuke got up and walked over to her table. Out of the corner of his eye, he could see Kakashi doing the same. Good. If they timed it properly, they could make it look like a casual meeting. Two guys attempting to hit on one lone girl at the same time.
Back at the bar, Naruto allowed a faint smile to cross his face. Now his team was gathered together, and he didn't have to worry about Sasuke sitting alone at the table like some weirdo, waiting for him. It gave him more time to work with.
At the table, Kakashi grinned at his two subordinates, and then switched off the mike he was wearing, although leaving the earpiece on so that they could still hear what was happening at the bar, motioning to the other two to do the same. No need for them to broadcast everything they were saying to the blond; it would only distract him. They still needed to monitor his conversation though.
"Looks like it'll be okay," he said casually. "Naruto's a pro at this sort of thing."
"What do you mean?" asked Sakura. "A pro?"
"Well," Kakashi said, "he has been seducing men since he was twelve years old." He nearly laughed aloud at the sight of the faces that greeted that statement, his one visible eye curving into a happy arc.
The Uchiha, always first to recover, got it first. "You mean…Sexy-no-jutsu?"
"Oh," said Sakura, and then thought of another objection, "but that's as a girl. Does it…I mean…when he's a guy?" Her voice trailed off uncertainly.
"Watch," said Kakashi, gesturing towards the bar. The bartender had just set another small jar of sake in front of their target.
With a smile, the man tipped the contents into a dish, then handed it to the blond, using the opportunity to step close to him. If he got any closer, he was going to step on the blonds' toes. "Here," he said, smiling into wide blue eyes, one hand offering the beverage, the other reaching forward to lightly caress Naruto's cheek.
"Boy, he sure comes on strong," commented Sakura. "And here I thought he was shy." Sasuke gritted his teeth. For some reason, he was having the urge to go and enforce some personal boundaries between Naruto and the Grass nin. The blond hadn't rejected the caress at all, instead leaning into the other man's touch and smiling at him with an expression that, on any other face, Sasuke would have classified as shy. He tried not to growl.
"Besides," continued Kakashi, "how many times has he gotten Neji to take him out for ramen this week?"
Sakura's jaw dropped. "What?!" she exclaimed. "You mean he's seducing Neji for ramen?!" She giggled at the thought of yet another Hyuuga falling victim to the blonds' apparently irresistible charms. Maybe liking Naruto was genetic, like byakugan or something. "What else has been going on while I've been training with Tsunade?"
For the past several years, Tsunade had been mentoring Sakura in the arts of the medic nin. Her training had severely reduced the amount of time that she had spent with the rest of team seven, but every now and then old team seven would reassemble to do missions like their current one.
"Well, I don't think that either of them is aware that that's what he's doing," Kakashi answered, "but it's pretty entertaining anyways. Who knew he'd be so good at handling the Hyuuga?"
This was so much fun. Kakashi could practically feel the waves of shock roll off the dark haired ninja sitting next to him as he caught the thinly veiled innuendo. He got the impression that the Uchiha had not cared to look too deeply into Naruto's increasing friendliness with the village's other number one rookie.
As Sakura answered, Sasuke stopped listening; he was too busy counting. He knew that he had seen the blond wheedle ramen out of the Hyuuga three times that week already, and it was only Thursday. And it had come to a total of, let's see, he paused to reflect, seven bowls, not that he was counting. Dammit.
At the bar, and completely unaware of all the revelations that Kakashi was currently seeing fit to divulge to his old teammates, Naruto downed the sake, tilting his head back. The Grass nin's hungry eyes fastened on the expanse of throat offered to him, until Naruto set down the small dish.
"Thanks," he said, licking his lips. "I was thirsty." His smile was open and candid.
"Indeed," said the Grass nin, his eyes now firmly fixed on the mouth of the blond. "Would you like another?"
"Hmm," Naruto paused to think, "maybe something a little more…exciting?" There was a sudden husky quality to his voice. The target just raised a brow.
"Whatever you want."
"How about a martini?"
The target ninja just nodded, and signaled to the bartender.
Back at the table, Kakashi chuckled some more. "That was a good choice."
Sasuke frowned. "What's his tolerance level?" he questioned.
"I'm sure he'll be fine," said Sakura, the pink-haired girl's eyes never leaving the sight of her teammate, of Naruto of all things, busily seducing an enemy nin. She would never have thought he'd be good at this sort of thing. Naruto was never subtle. Although, she supposed, in seduction, it didn't pay to be too subtle. The whole point, after all, was to catch the eye. And Naruto had always known how to be eye-catching. She just didn't know he knew to be eye-catching in that particular way.
But he had just licked his lips while holding the gaze of the target in a way that was highly suggestive, and now he was breaking the gaze to tilt his head and look up from beneath his eyelashes, another classic move. Geez, it was almost like he had been listening in on the seduction lectures that she and the other kunoichi had had to go to when they were just learning to be ninjas.
"I never knew he could be so…so…" Sakura trailed off, again. Naruto, true to his nickname, had managed to surprise her again. After their years of working together, she had thought she knew everything there was to know about her blond-haired teammate. Okay, she admitted that she didn't know him quite as well as she knew Sasuke, but it was hard to garner the sort of detail that her hormonal, obsessed, and thank god much younger self had learned.
Not that she wasn't still hormonal and obsessed, but she also wasn't stupid. Sasuke had yet to take her up on any of the ludricusouly-suggestive-her-mother-would've-dropped-dead-if-she'd-heard-them hints she'd given him over the years. She was starting to think it was time to look elsewhere. After all, a shinobi's life was uncertain, and, hot as Sasuke was, she didn't particularly want to die a virgin.
Besides, if Sasuke kept frowning the way he was at the moment, his forehead was going to be hopelessly wrinkled by the time they were twenty-five.
Kakashi caught her eye. "He's just barely getting started," he told her. His only visible eye closed, and she wondered if he had just winked at her. With the bandanna tilted over his other eye in lieu of his usual forehead protector, it was impossible to tell. "Watch this."
Sakura turned her eyes back to the bar. While she had been lost in her thoughts, apparently Naruto's martini had arrived. She watched wide-eyed as the boy plucked the toothpick out of it, examined the olive, then twirled the tip of his tongue around it and popped it into his mouth. A second later he pulled it out, caught it with his teeth and sucked it off the stick. Sakura heard a strangled noise across from her, and looked over to see an expression of apoplectic shock on Sasuke's face. He looked like he was going to pop a vein. She knew, just knew, that Kakashi was sporting a light blush, even though the mask he was wearing should've hidden it from her view. She herself had suddenly decided that the bar was getting a little too hot.
And their target looked like he had died and gone to heaven. He was happily watching the blond in front of him, his own drink forgotten. He reached out a hand and rested it on Naruto's hip, pulling the other man slightly towards him.
"See," said Kakashi, chuckling happily. "What hot-blooded man wouldn't want that?"
"Well," said Sakura, "Maybe a straight one?" Although, she was starting to feel a little less certain, since a glance around the bar showed her that she and her table weren't the only ones who were currently looking at the couple at the bar.
"Oh, Sakura, Sakura," Kakashi shook his head at her, "you're still so young. When you get as old as I am, you'll learn that very few people are one hundred percent straight or gay or any label you want. Most of humanity is out for anything it can get."
"Are we actually going to learn any information this way?" Sasuke suddenly demanded, breaking into their conversation. "Or are we just going to sit here and watch Naruto be molested for the rest of the evening?"
Kakashi shot his student a glance. "Give him time, Sasuke," he said, his glance lingering pointedly on Sasuke's hands, which at some point had gripped the edge of the table so hard that his knuckles were white.
Sasuke grunted and tried consciously to relax his grip. He had decided that this was officially his least-favorite mission of the week. Hell maybe even month. He hated seduction missions. They always took so much damn time. He sighed, and fixed his eyes on his blond teammate.
It was funny, Sasuke had always assumed that he knew Naruto better than anyone else, just as Naruto knew him better than anyone else. Now he was discovering a whole other side to the blond, a side that he'd had no idea even existed. Naruto was crafty, he'd always known that; countless missions had been successful due to the other's last-minute strategizing. But apparently Naruto could also be subtle. And delicate. And, his mind whispered, very, very seductive. Even from a distance of over thirty feet.
Sasuke groaned and propped his head on his hands, trying to avoid looking over at where Naruto was. It was going to be a long, long evening, and there was nothing he could do about it. Short of, you know, actually walking up to the Grass nin, ripping off the hand that was still resting on his rival's hip, punching him square in the face, tossing him out of the bar, and beating him until he agreed to take them to wherever he had stashed that scroll. He smiled at the thought.
Across the table, Sakura and Kakashi exchanged glances at the very, very scary expression that had suddenly crossed Sasuke's face, before deciding that they probably didn't want to know. They both settled more firmly into their seats.
"Oh I'm sure I could…keep up," as Naruto's voice purred seductively over the wire, Sasuke realized that he had lost track of the conversation. "I've always had amazing stamina..."
"Is that so…"
Sasuke decided that he was glad that he had temporarily lost the thread of the conversation. Bad enough that it seemed like the newly acquired husky quality of his best friend's voice was starting to echo in his mind in a way that he didn't want to think about. Worse, he realized, that he really didn't want to listen to that voice being used on somebody else. Across the table, he could see Kakashi and Sakura beginning a critique of Naruto's techniques.
They stayed at the bar an hour longer, before leaving to make the return to Konoha. While within a reasonable distance, it still took them nearly two more hours of tree-jumping before they were back in their own village.
"He was the right guy, right Sakura?" had been practically the first thing Naruto had said once they were safely travelling through the trees.
"Yep," she'd replied, holding up the uncharacteristically large bag she'd been holding all evening. "Kuro-chan says it's definitely the right smell." From inside the bag, a small yip sounded in what was unmistakably agreement and a small black dog poked its nose out of the bag in order to nod enthusiastically. The puppy was one of the Inuzuka's and had been lent to them for the purpose of identification.
"Good," the blond teen replied. "I'd hate to have had to listen to him all that time, and then it turn out he was the wrong one. He fit the description though, so I was pretty sure. Plus he said he was in town on business for a couple days, and that he is waiting to meet his partner."
"Ah," said Kakashi, "That'll be the person he's selling the scroll to, then. Good, that gives us," he paused, and his eye twinkled merrily at Naruto, "or should I say you plenty of time to work. By which I mean work it." His mask twitched, glee evident in his voice.
Naruto just sighed. He certainly had made a hit with the target, even managing to worm a date out of him for the following evening. In the meantime, Sasuke decided his frustration was due to the fact that they would have to waste yet another day on this pitiful excuse for a mission. He glared at his teammate and told him as much.
"Whatever, you bastard," Naruto told him, "If things are going too slow for you, you seduce him."
Sasuke shut up, dark eyes noting that Naruto looked slightly tired. Not that the other ninja would ever admit it, of course, but the blue of his eyes was slightly dimmer than usual, the lids drooping just a fraction lower, giving him away.
"I thought you did an excellent job," said Kakashi, voice sounding as if he were smiling.
"Thanks," said Naruto drily, "I suppose you would know best." Kakashi just beamed back at him. He turned to see Sakura. As soon as he caught her eye, she blushed faintly.
"Ehm," she laughed nervously, "I'll see you guys tomorrow evening!" With that, she walked off, moonlight glinting off of pink hair. She had to get home; she was dead tired.