Title: 7 Sinful Dates of Haruno Sakura
By: Dr. Destructo
Disclaimer: Still don't own NARUTO and I'm still not profiting from this work in any way. Shocked, I'm sure.
Summary: Sakura's dating history.
It was like a fairy tale. For Sakura, once she finally achieved her childhood dream of a date with Uchiha Sasuke, it was everything she'd hoped it would be... for about 15 minutes. He looked gorgeous, having adorned formal robes and sash. The restaurant was wonderful, full of pleasant music and smells and ambiance.
Then, he started talking.
For a while, Sakura just nodded, a false smile frozen to her face. 'He's been in Sound for over two years. He's a horribly traumatized boy. He's really hurting on the inside,' was her mantra. But the more words that came out of his mouth -- things regarding women, regarding the strength of kunoichi, regarding the proper structure of families and the strict adherence to custom such a noble clan as the Uchiha required -- the more she wanted to hurt him on the outside, too.
To her credit, Sakura rallied valiantly in the name of true love and pale, slender necks. Sakura admitted that she was looking forward to her career as a strong kunoichi and not quite boasting on having gained recognition as an expert in certain medic-nin circles. Sakura even restrained herself from pointing out the obvious -- that her mentor was the Hokage herself. She was a creature of subtlety after all.
Afterwards, as she related the whole evening to Naruto over ramen, Sakura noted that the blonde laughed a little louder at her antics and didn't even protest when she oh-so subtly asked for some help paying off the damages she'd caused to the restaurant.
When the dark prince of her dreams and fantasies turned out to be more rough than diamond, Sakura found herself at a loss. It seemed that her previously destined romance had come and gone, leaving her with a reconstruction bill and a reputation as "high maintenance." So it was totally surprising when Rock Lee had smashed through a hospital window just to "dynamically" offer her a smattering of flower stems and a proposal for dinner two weeks later.
Dinner was a rather loose term, especially since Sakura would have described it less as a date and more as a test of willpower. The opening of doors and asking if she was cold or not hadn't bothered her. The all-you-can-eat curry buffet Sakura found herself drug into like a refugee escaping rabid wolves was a little disconcerting but easily overlooked. Even Lee offering to procure her food for her lest she accidentally be burned by stray grease wasn't unendurable.
No, Sakura had spent more than a couple years receiving, hell, NEEDING that level of protection. And since then, she had learned to deal with male ego and gently deflate it. Okay, maybe she was still working on the gently part.
The point Sakura started grinding her teeth was the fourth time Lee referred to her as "Konoha's Delicate Flower!" It only got more tiresome from there. The spontaneous attacks at nothing. The occasional testing of her food and drink for poison. And Lee's repeated proclamation of protecting her FOREVER. Sakura had been trained by and grew up in a team of nutcase fanatics. Porn fanatics. Vengeance fanatics. Gambling fanatics. Even a Hokage and ramen fanatic. Lee outdid them all.
When Sakura gave him the "let's just be friends" speech at her doorstep later, Lee frowned for a moment and then smiled and declared he would run a thousand laps in penance for the poor date and was off at a sprint before she could explain. Sakura later had to regale Ino with her mad dating adventures after Naruto seemed to always have something come up when she mentioned it to him.
Sakura was pretty sure she and Hyuuga Neji dated for about two weeks. Finding herself alone at lunch once Naruto (finally!) started dating Hinata, Sakura approached Neji after a mission debriefing. And for a while she and the Branch House Hyuuga prodigy ate lunch every day.
They talked about shinobi subjects, about literature, about politics, about topics she never really got a chance to discuss with her other friends. Sakura and Neji even had dinner at the restaurant with the wall Sakura had destroyed and repaired.
Then he invited her to dinner at the Hyuuga compound.
From the moment Sakura entered the clan estate to the moment she left, Sakura felt as though she had been under a microscope at full magnification. Reinforcing that image had been Neji, whose normally dry sense of humor had seemingly vanished. Gone too were the interesting topics of conversation as whenever Sakura attempted to broach one subject or another, she found the conversation immediately directed or halted by Neji under his uncle's curiously indifferent gaze.
"That went well," Neji told her once outside the Hyuuga walls.
"No, it didn't," Sakura had corrected softly.
The next day, when Naruto popped up out of nowhere and asked if she wanted to get some ramen with him and Sasuke, Sakura agreed without hesitation. She and Neji still occasionally had their intellectual conversations, but they never had lunch alone together again.
Sakura didn't know who to loathe more: Tsunade for passing on her bad luck, or Ino for taking advantage of it and roping her into the bet in the first place. Not that Sakura couldn't have called off the date. She could've. And not that Aburame Shino wasn't a nice guy. He was.
He also had a few hundred chakra devouring insects living in him AT ALL TIMES. Which, arguably wasn't as dangerous as having a giant, village-destroying demon sealed into a person, but it was a bit unnerving. With nothing else going on in her social life, though, Sakura had gone along with it. Unfortunately, she ended the evening feeling like she could've had a more meaningful time with her medical texts. It didn't help that Sakura had psyched herself out by thinking she heard buzzing throughout the outing. All in all, Shino was okay to hang out with, and he never seemed phased by any of her outbursts. In fact, he didn't really seem phased by anything.
When he thanked her for the date, Shino gave HER the 'let's be friends' speech. So thunderstruck was Sakura, she barely caught his amendment that Naruto seemed to be single again.
Literally bumping into Akimichi Chouji at the hospital when checking on Ino (not her fault this time!), Sakura ended up catching up with the large man while waiting for their mutual friend to regain consciousness.
Trading funny Ino stories and more than a few snack cakes he'd brought along, Sakura and Chouji basked in nostalgia and fun times past. In fact, they apparently were loud enough to have Ino march from her sick bed and tell them to be quiet. Thoroughly chastised Chouji continued his visit while Sakura gave Ino a brief once-over before leaving for the rest of her rounds.
After her evening bath, Sakura dressed in her lightest pj's and mused about having so much in common with Chouji earlier. Then, fully thinned and ready for her scale, Sakura blanched at the numbers flying past her eyes. With a nervous swallow, she vowed to keep her meetings with Chouji brief and never around food. Sakura had enough trouble staying fit despite her ever-increasing ramen intake without adding snacks and barbecue to the challenge.
Best friends --even former rivals-- should be there for each other and show solidarity, or so Sakura thought. Which was exactly why she and Ino were hopping from bar to tavern to club, knocking back the occasional drink and flirting dangerously. Well, Sakura was flirting but she was pretty sure Ino was putting her psychological torture methods to work. Sakura, not accustomed to a raucous night life, sighed in relief when Ino dragged her towards a booth in their current, hole-in-the-wall stop.
Only after being practically tossed into the leather cushions did Sakura look around and notice the two Shinobi already at the table, one whom she'd nearly collided with. Nara Shikamaru merely rolled his eyes at the kunoichis' antics, while Naruto gave her a toothy grin. Sakura puzzeled, however, at being seated next to Shikamaru while Ino cozied up to the other blonde ninja.
At first Sakura smiled and laughed to herself at how silly Ino made herself look, pressing into Naruto's side and obviously faking interest in his conversation. Until Ino whispered something into Naruto's ear that left the demon vessel blushing and scratching the back of his head in embarrassment. Not bothered in the least, Sakura pointedly dragged Shikamaru into conversation on a topic even she didn't remember. Her catty smile at Ino froze when the blonde kunoichi unbuttoned her top, asking everyone if it was hot in there of was it just her?
Naruto, recognizing the violent glint in Sakura's eyes, offered an ironic plea for level-headedness. He was thusly the first victim of the ensuing melee. From there, neither Sakura nor Ino had a firm recollection of events, but the invoice for repairs, dried mud, and several twenties stuffed into their respective shuriken holsters gave them both fairly strong hints.
It had been two weeks since Sakura had celebrated her final growth spurt and changed out her scarlet vest and bindings for an oh-so coveted B-cup and a showy, sleeveless tunic. It had also been two weeks since Naruto had stopped really looking at her when they spoke. She hadn't caught him staring at her cleavage yet, but he must've at some point to be so deliberate about avoiding it.
Figuring that Naruto was perverted enough to probably have hidden clones ogling her for him, Sakura felt completely justified in coating all of his clothes with itching powder during a sparring match. Not being cruel enough to have him running through the village naked, Sakura had conveniently scheduled the practice session just between the two of them and near a stream. It wasn't a particularly deep stream, which Sakura felt fell under the clause of turnabout being fair play.
Within minutes the powder was agitating the blonde enough for him to toss his jounin vest and shirt. Sakura resisted leering at his sweaty, exposed chest and pressed her advantage. It didn't take long for the young man to shed his uncomfortable pants as well. Naruto had nice legs, but that wasn't what allowed him to send her tumbling with a successful leg sweep. No, that honor had been reserved by the continual "adjustment" of his toad-themed boxer-briefs. Sakura persevered in the name of competition, but the nearly nude shinobi kept alternating between scratching himself and landing hits.
Having finally had enough and blushing up a storm, Sakura just blurted that if his underwear was that itchy he should just take the damned things off.
"Normally I don't put out on the first date," Naruto said with a grin, "but throw in a couple bowls of ramen and I'm all yours, Sakura-chan." Upon reflection years later, Sakura mused that the loud blonde was all bluster. He could never wait for the second bowl.