Sakura daintily sipped on her glass of water. After all the champagne she'd consumed in her nervousness of the prospect of speaking to Sasuke (and, of course, their absolutely necessary hotel pre-drinking that, in retrospect, was completely illogical because hello, open bar), water was the best idea for her. She squirmed in her seat uncomfortably. The table was quiet. Save for her, Sasuke, and Mikoto, its other seats were empty. People were dancing and mingling (and drinking) as small hors d'oeuvres were brought around.
Sakura couldn't understand why she felt so nervous.
She had known the Uchiha family since she was a toddler – longer than she'd known her three best friends! Her own mother and Mikoto Uchiha (and Sakura's Aunt Kushina) had all been very good friends back in high school and college, passing it on to their children. Although Naruto didn't grow up in the same town as Sakura and Sasuke, Sakura knew the boys were both really good friends. Sakura and Sasuke, however, attended the same elementary school, the same high school, and even the same university but nothing. Moreover, their families were neighbours up the lake where they both had cottages, and, more often than not, scheduled their trips up their so that they could spend them together. Sakura recalled how at one point, when she was a manipulative ten-year-old, she tried pretending that she was drowning so that Sasuke would give her CPR, but Itachi was the one who saved her instead.
(Not that she minded, of course.)
"So, Sakura, whereabouts do you live during the year?" Mikoto asked.
"I have an apartment about ten minutes from campus," Sakura replied. She couldn't help but feel relieved about how close she was to her school. A lot of other people had it really bad.
"What is your roommate like?"
Sakura snorted. "I live with my friend Karin who is…" She sighed and shook her head. A smile tugged on her lips when she replied, "Karin's great. She used to be in pre-med with me but somehow switched over to journalism. She's a great roommate. She always does the dishes because she knows I hate doing them, and in return I cook her food. She's very… strong-willed. Whenever her boyfriend comes over, she just bosses him around. It's actually hilarious."
"Suigetsu, right?" She'd almost forgotten Sasuke was there.
Sakura glanced at Sasuke and raised an eyebrow. "You know him?"
Sasuke nodded. "We're both in engineering."
"Cool," Sakura replied, not too sure of how else to respond. She probably should have just asked questions about what specific type of engineering he decided to go with but she sort of knew her answers already. She knew from Suigetsu (who was a chemical engineer) that Sasuke was in the mechanical engineering field and that the two were actually friends; she'd just been playing dumb. She cleared her throat awkwardly. "Are you, um, still living with Shikamaru?"
"He is indeed," Mikoto answered for Sasuke, much to her son's dismay. "That boy is just such a darling. Whenever we come to visit, he's always bustling around the apartment picking up after my boor of a son." She patted Sasuke's cheek affectionately. "You're so lucky to have such an energetic roommate, Sasuke."
Sakura only looked at her confusedly. Shikamaru? Energetic? Something wasn't right.
Sasuke scowled at Mikoto. "Shikamaru is a lazy shit, mother. He's like… Naruto. Although not as annoying."
Sakura laughed. She was about to make a comment but was interrupted:
"HARUNO, GET YOUR PASTY ASS OVER HERE RIGHT NOW!"
She barely contained her wince. Sakura looked to the dance floor where Ino was standing, waving her arms to urge Sakura to join her. Sakura cringed when she heard a certain song playing and realized just what her dear friend had in mind.
"Come on!" Ino shouted, clapping her hands in anticipation as she approached the table. "It's Thriller! We have to dance to this."
"Uh." Feeling Mikoto's amused stare and Sasuke's confused look, Sakura squirmed. She smiled at Ino uneasily. "Oh I'm so sorry, Ino! I don't know the dance." She prayed Ino would take a hint.
"WHAT?!" Clearly, she did not. "Don't lie, Sakuface! I mean, you are the one who taught me the dance in seventh grade, remember?"
Sakura tried not to. She chuckled awkwardly and began fiddling with the tablecloth. "Um, Ino, I think that you've mistaken me for Tenten since I do not know the Thriller dance."
"Oh, yes, I know which dance you're talking about." Mikoto sighed whimsically and let out a small giggle of her own. "I remember the music video for it used to scare Sasuke very much," she said, not noticing the furious and embarrassed glare Sasuke was shooting her. "But he got over it eventually."
Ino promptly pulled out a chair and sat down. "Sasu-chan was afraid of little zombies? Seriously?"
"Well, when Itachi was in eighth grade, they were doing a musical and had to learn the dance," Mikoto told them. She went into her purse and took out her wallet to look for some photographs of the young pair of Uchiha brothers. "He taught the dance to Sasuke, too."
Sasuke shook his head slightly, trying not to curse his mother.
Ino laughed and then looked at Sakura. "See, Sakuface? There's no need to be embarrassed! If two absolutely beautiful pieces of male specimen – oh, and kudos to you, Mrs. Uchiha – then there is nothing wrong with knowing it, too!"
She shot up from the table and ran over to Sakura and pulled on her arm.
"Now come on, let's dance!"
Count Me In
5. don't stop til you get enough
Hinata Hyuuga was sobering up.
According to her cell phone, it was only about nine in the evening, ergo she still had about five or so hours' worth of alcohol to pace herself with. And according to Ino, since Sasuke was paying for their hotel room, they should take advantage of the mini bar, pay per view, and room service.
She sat down at the bar and took a few breaths to calm her spinning head.
"Ugh," she groaned out, struggling to keep steady in the high stool she sat on.
"Are you okay?"
She looked to the side and if she hadn't sobered up, she most likely would have given him one of her dirty lines.
He had chestnut-coloured hair, maybe a shade or two lighter than her cousin's. He wore a well-pressed, black suit like more of the men in the room, but what made this boy stand out was the pair of black sunglasses he donned.
Suddenly, an idea came to Hinata's head.
"I'm fine," she said with a slight slur. "I'm great, seriously. Seriously!" Hinata then smiled at her brightly. "But I have a question for you…"
"Oh?" He sat down in the stool beside her, seeming to have much better posture. "And what is that?"
"Um… you're random and unbiased, right?"
Tenten was enjoying the show.
After Ino had forced Sakura to do the Thriller dance, Sasuke's mom had told the boy to dance with Sakura. A nice slow song was on and the two were awkwardly avoiding stepping on each other's feet and struggling not to make eye contact.
"Oh, they are so cute together!" Tenten gushed to herself.
"They are, aren't they?" She jumped slightly at the smooth and masculine voice. Turning her head, she saw Itachi Uchiha standing beside her, a faint smile on his lips as he watched his younger brother dancing. "I always knew she had a crush on him." Itachi sat down on the chair next to Tenten's. "When they were younger, she pretended she was drowning to trick him into kissing her, I assume."
Tenten's eyes widened and she giggled. "Seriously?"
He nodded and chuckled at the fond memory. "Although I didn't figure that out until I performed CPR on her and found out she was okay. She seemed rather disappointed that Sasuke hadn't been the one to save her."
Inwardly, Tenten cursed her friend for having scored so awesomely. Outwardly, she laughed at Sakura who was jumping up and down on the dance floor, clutching her left foot, whimpering and glaring at Sasuke who most likely stepped on her. Mentally wishing Sakura good luck on her conquest and then turning away, Tenten's brown eyes gleamed predatorily as she gave Itachi her full attention.
"I never properly introduced myself to you. I'm Tenten," she said, not so subtly moving a bit closer to him.
He smiled dazzlingly and Tenten almost swoon. "I'm Itachi," he told her once more, "but I think you already knew that."
Tenten nodded. "Yes, I did."
They stared into one another's eyes for what seemed like an eternity until Itachi broke the silence. It was in no way awkward or uncomfortable, in Tenten's opinion. If anything, it just seemed tense, but in a good way.
"So tell me," Itachi began, grabbing two champagne flutes from a passing waiter and handing one to Tenten, "what is this little road trip you girls are on?"
It took Tenten a moment to process his question as she was too entranced with his lips. "Huh?"
He smirked, most likely aware of the affect his sheer presence had on her. "Your road trip?"
"Oh!" Tenten shook her head in efforts to shake herself out of her stupor. "Oh. Yes. The road trip…" She paused, looking at him questionably. "The road trip to Suna." Tenten pursed her lips as she thought about the trip but came to no conclusion as to what to say. "Well… it's just a road trip, really. We just wanted to spend time together."
Itachi nodded. "I see."
Tenten sighed and her arms shot out as she spoke, nearly hitting a person passing by. "We want an Adventure—one with a capital freaking A!"
"Ah. One of those."
"Yep. One of those."
Tenten couldn't keep the giddiness out of her voice or the large grin of her face. Itachi Uchiha was positively gorgeous and she was sure that if she were capable of making coherent conversation in his presence, he would be very charming as well.
"Just out of curiosity," he drawled in his silky smooth voice that made Tenten's knees go weak, "how old are you?"
The smile on her pink-painted lips widened. "How is that relevant?"
"Hn," Itachi replied with a sly smirk and a shrug.
Tenten waited a moment, hoping to come off as coy and absolutely not desperate. "I'm legal." She cringed, cursing herself for saying the only thing on her mind. "I mean, I'm twenty"
"Are you now?" Her chocolate eyes widened when Itachi moved closer, putting his hand beneath her chin and raising her head to meet her gaze.
Wow. WOW. I don't think I've ever met anyone so bloody gorgeous!
"Well said." Itachi smirked and Tenten bit her lower lip to contain her dazed smile as well as she could. "Would you like to get out of here?" he asked smoothly.
He didn't have to ask twice.
"You're really nice, Shino," Hinata said with a smile as she patted his hand. He had introduced himself as such minutes before and had kindly listened to every drunken slur that tumbled out of Hinata's mouth. "Really! I'm surprised you haven't just ditched me."
He simply pushed his sunglasses up and nodded. "I do what I can, I guess."
Hinata's grin widened. "Could I, um…" And almost immediately, her smile faded and her cheeks burned red. "Could I tell you my life story?"
The words came out in a confusing jumble but he seemed to comprehend her fine. "Pardon me?"
"Could I tell you my life story?" Hinata repeated, this time with more confidence.
Shino raised an eyebrow. "You can't be a day older than twenty." Her wince told him that she was even younger than that. "How much could have you have to say?"
Hinata only laughed. "Well, I suppose that's true. I'm actually nineteen – although I'll turn twenty soon! Sort of." At his confused stare, Hinata sighed. "I'm sorry. See, when we were fifteen, my best friends and I made this list where we wrote down twenty-one things we wanted to do before turning twenty-one. And, well, one of mine was to tell a stranger my life story."
"I see," Shino eventually replied. They sat in silence by the bar for a good moment before Shino nodded. "Very well. You may tell me your life story."
Hinata beamed at him.
"Well, it all started—"
"This is so awkward," Sakura mumbled, not quite caring if Sasuke heard her of not – which he did, clearly, considering he was right in front of her, with his hands on her hips as they danced as per his mother's request. At Sasuke's grunt of agreement, Sakura cringed and smiled at him uncomfortably. "So—"
"I'm sorry about your car."
Sakura blinked. "What? Oh. That. Yeah, whatever." She shrugged. "I mean, obviously that sucks, but I'll deal… You're paying for it, so there's not much left to say."
He nodded. "Right."
They swayed in the most awkward of silences and Sakura prayed that the ground would swallow her up, which, of course, was an impossible dream. Perhaps Ino would pull a classic Ino and act like a complete hot mess and would require Sakura's assistance to find her way to the bathroom, hold her hair back, and then keep an eye over her during the night. Yes. Glancing around the room oh so subtly, Sakura spotted the blonde at the open bar giving Hinata an equally subtle thumbs-up. In the blonde's hand was a wine glass that, naturally, Ino immediately downed as a shot. Sakura almost grinned as she waited for Ino's impending alcohol poisoning.
"So, um, how's summer school?" Sakura asked. Making small talk was easier than dealing with the painful silence. It wasn't fun but it was certainly the lesser of two evils.
Sasuke immediately scowled. "Boring." Sakura laughed. "Shikamaru isn't even at the apartment anymore so I'm pretty much by myself all the time."
Sakura raised an eyebrow at him. "I thought you liked your solitude?"
"Not when it means being alone with homework about industrial ergonomics."
"…I have no idea what you just said."
Sasuke rolled his eyes. "Point being, summer school is boring as hell."
"Poor baby," Sakura teased, poking his cheek. "Maybe I'll come visit you. I'm pretty sure Karin is still living up there though. She's doing an internship at Senju Press this summer."
"Yes, she's there," Sasuke confirmed. "So is Suigetsu. Believe me."
Understanding, Sakura laughed. She had no doubt in her mind that her loud roommate and her boyfriend probably made sure Sasuke didn't drown in all of his textbooks and notes. "Then I won't need to visit, I guess."
"You still can."
They both seemed to notice how quickly he replied. Immediately, Sasuke looked pointed at a spot to the left of Sakura's head while she focused on how silky his tie looked. They moved around, their pathetic attempt to "slow dance," whilst praying for the song to end. Really, this was one long song, Sakura mused with a grimace.
Strengthening her resolve, Sakura attempted to start conversation once again. "So—"
"You told me you love me."
Naturally, Sakura froze.
Her feet stopped moving and her eyes widened immensely. One hand fell away from Sasuke's broad shoulder to point at him accusingly. "Oh, my god!" she shrieked. "That wasn't even remotely subtle! You can't just say things like that!" She punched Sasuke's shoulder and paid no heed to her grunt of pain. "What the hell is wrong with you?!" Sasuke grabbed her wrist before she could do more damage and quickly twined his finger through hers. It wouldn't do to fight in the middle of the dance floor. When he stared down at her pointedly, Sakura only pouted. "Well… you failed classes because you were distracted." She sneered at him. "What was troubling you, Sasuke?"
He blushed. "I was just having a bad month."
"I'm telling the truth."
"I'm sure you are."
He frowned at her curtness. "I'm not trying to pick a fight, Sakura." The song they were dancing to finally came to an end. Sasuke tightened his hold on Sakura when she tried to get away from him, forcing her to dance for one more song. "I'm trying to finish our conversation from your birthday—"
Sakura winced. "You really don't have to!"
"—because you ran away before I could say anything." Sasuke almost chuckled at her tightly closed eyes. "Sakura, look at me."
Sasuke sighed. "You're being childish." When she ignored him, he poked her forehead, prompting her to open her eyes to glare at him.
"Ass," she muttered.
He shrugged. "You still love me." When he saw the redness creeping back to her cheeks and the way she was looking around the room as if pleading for someone to save her, Sasuke stopped dancing. He gently cupped her cheeks as he rested his forehead against her. "And I love you too."
And before she could reply, he kissed her.
"I have one sister. Her name's Hanabi. Right now, she's fourteen. She just started high school this year. She's smart. Really smart. She's disgustingly smart, actually. I almost hate her for it, almost please don't tell anyone I said. I'm only telling you because I don't know you. You're Random and Unbiased and I am eternally grateful for that. Do we get along? Well, to be honest, we just don't get anything together. We really just coexist, for lack of a better term. She's there and I'm around, you know? We're not close. I'll pick her up from school or make her dinner or help her with her homework, but we're not close-close like sisters should be, you know? We don't talk. I don't know how to talk to her.
"My parents have always liked her more. She's… she's perfect, really. She's smart, she's pretty, she's athletic, she behaves.
"Granted, I behave as well, but my friends are a little more… rambunctious – like, to the point that my dad thinks I'm just like them and that that is not a good thing.
"Oh, right, my parents.
"Well, they're divorced. They divorced when Hanabi was three, actually, so I was around eight-years-old at the time. It was for the best. Really, they were two people who, again, were simply coexisting. There's no bad blood between them, almost naturally, I suppose there's some lingering bitterness, but I don't think anyone cheated or something equally heinous. Anyhow, my father got custody of Hanabi and I and he was the one who raised us. My father is very… stern. He's not unkind – or well, he's not cruel, but he treats me well enough. He wasn't very pleased when Sakura, Ino, and Tenten showed up – I'll tell you about them after – but he let me leave with them anyway. He's not a monster, but I know if someone asked him who his favourite daughter was, it certainly wouldn't be me. He never treated me cruelly, but we never ever managed to connect with one another. I never understood why. Sometimes I think it's because I look just like my mother. But at other times, I get it. He just connects better with Hanabi. They're both very similar. He just… He has expectations.
"And I have a cousin named Neji. He's important here because, well, he's always been around. He's more like a brother than a cousin, I guess. He's a year older than me. He's actually dated my friend Tenten. Again, she comes later. But yeah, they had a thing and let's just say my friends aren't really too keen on crashing family events at my place since he's bound to be there. Again, like with my sister and my father, we aren't particularly close, but Neji is just so protective. Once, I was at a bar with everyone and this guy came up to me. He wanted to buy me a drink but I told him that was okay. He accepted it and was probably about to walk away but Neji just came between us and stood there. It was sweet, really, but also kind of embarrassing.
"I live with Neji, actually.
"We go to school together. We're actually both in the same program. Accounting. I'm lucky. He goes through everything first and then coaches me on how to get through all of my classes. Neji's the best. I'd never tell him that to his face, but I'm glad he's around. He's just really great.
"Yes, yes, I know I have to tell you about my friends.
"…oh, god. My friends. I don't even know where to begin."
Itachi managed to tear his eyes away from Tenten's heaving chest for a moment to frown at the folded pieces of paper scattered around the room.
"Are those cranes?"
Tenten cringed. She knew having a "crane fight" while pre-drinking and dressing up was a terrible idea.
Laughing awkwardly, she pulled Itachi's lips back down to her own to distract him.
"Well, there's Tenten. She's the oldest among us. She's super fun. She loves running around and being super active. She jogs, can you believe that? Like, she actually gets up at dawn and runs. I mean, who does that? Okay, fine, lots of people do. But Ino always complains about how Tenten jogs every morning and makes her feel fat. Tenten reminds me of a mama bear. She's super protective of us, but she loves to act like being older makes her super wise and experienced. It's funny, actually. I adore her. She's always up for some kind of outing, whether it be going to the beach, attempting to make a pizza from scratch – and I emphasize the "attempting" – or a random decision to take Krav Maga classes.
"Oh, and there's Sakura. Sakura's super tough. She doesn't take people's shit and she tends to be a little violent when she doesn't get her way – which, actually, is quite rare. She just has this way with people where she manages to manipulate everyone into doing what she wants. It must be the fake smiles. She has what we call her "fake voice" when she gets really high-pitched and sounds like her IQ dropped a little. Or, well, a lot. It's funny to watch her talk to people she doesn't like. That's when she uses it. I suppose it's because she's really smart that she can do that stuff. That girl is definitely gonna go places, that's for sure.
"And Ino. Ino's… Oh, Ino. She's hilarious. She's so bold, that girl. She takes what she wants and never takes no for an answer. Ino stands up for herself and is just so damn daring. She's extremely assertive. She's gorgeous and she isn't afraid of talking to strangers. Wherever we go, people just flock to her. She's just so magnetic, really. Like, all the girls just compliment her on her style and every guy in the room tends to salivate over her. She's not vapid or anything. Granted, she's not the sweetest girl, but if you're her friend, she's loyal to the boot.
"Ha, ha, I could never choose between the three of them! They're all my favourite.
"Sometimes I wish I was more like Ino though, I guess. If I had to choose one, that is. She's so confident and assertive.
"Jealous? Well, jealous is such a gross word. What about… okay, fine, we'll go with jealous.
"I suppose I should just be honest with you since, like I said, you're Random and Unbiased. So fine, yeah, I'm jealous. But I still love her.
"I love all of them."
Note: And finally, your real update. So I've made an outline for this entire story and it will be a grand total of eleven chapters, assuming I don't change anything. It'll feature a guitar-playing Kiba, a hippie, van-travelling, pot-smoking Akatsuki, and more Sasuke/Sakura than any other pairing because I am ohwhatsherface. But don't worry, after this chapter the Sasuke/Sakura will take the backseat for a while since this is a friendship!fic first and foremost.