Warning: This fanfiction will eventually describe mature content in graphic detail. You have been warned.
Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto or any of the characters Kishimoto has so imaginatively created. Unfortunately.
NOTICE: I have re-done the ending for this chapter, so anyone who read it previously, please note changes before the next update.
Sakura hadn't liked him then. And she certainly didn't like him now. He was an infuriating jerk whose countenance was perpetually adorned by a smile so fake she felt she could puke upon viewing it. And he was always dressed in that black jacket thing that was far too short for appropriate male attire, leaving his pale midriff open for everyone to view.
But that was not all, oh no, it definitely wasn't. It was his general personality, his innate self, that emotionless attitude which he always radiated. Yes, that was it: that indifferent demeanor in which he treated her with was the never-failing source of her irritation.
Or perhaps it was just the fact that the first time they had met, he had called her an ugly bitch, and then smiled after the completely unnecessary comment. At least that time, she had been able to respond by decking him in the face and sending him soaring some thirty feet through the air before he crashed into a large nearby tree.
Uh oh. That didn't bode well. Sensei was screaming: she had better pay attention before she found herself flying unceremoniously through the concrete walls of the Hokage's office.
"Yes?" she replied meekly.
"Pay attention!" was the terse response.
Sakura allowed herself an inaudible sigh, glancing over at the individual who had elicited her brief daydream. Damn, the little jerk was still smiling that nauseatingly repulsive smile. She wished she could sock him.
"Alright" began Tsunade, "I have a tricky mission for you two. Here." She tossed the mission scroll to Sakura, who caught it and rolled it open to read. Sai watched impassively as the pink-haired jounin scanned the scroll, which, judging by the golden specks which shimmered as she held it up to the light, was manufactured with paper of considerable expense.
"A precious heirloom of the Fukazawa family was stolen from our client. Our target is a man named Michio, an S-ranked missing nin from the Hidden Village of Rain, whom Mr. Fukuzawa claims stole the pendant from his residence last week. You may have heard of him before" stated the Hokage.
"Michio…" Sakura turned the name over in her head a few times. It did seem a bit familiar. Where had she heard it before?
"He's a man who slaughtered an entire convoy of shinobi from his own village in order to obtain a considerable sum of money from the Land of Water. A traitor and mass murderer who is on the top of countless bingo books" described Sai matter-of-factly.
Sakura gaped at him.
"Precisely" Tsunade nodded slightly in approval, "Very impressive, Sai. And seeing as you know so much, I'm sure I do not need to remind you not to engage him in any way. He is classified as an S-class criminal for a reason. Do you know the ranks and number of people he massacred in that group as well?"
"The party he slaughtered was comprised of four jounin and six chuunin, all killed without a struggle" responded the pale jounin, without missing a beat.
"Exactly. Needless to say, he is a dangerous man"
"I would have liked to send more people, but frankly, at the moment, you two are the only ninja available with the expertise and experience necessary for this task"
"We can handle this, Tsunade-shishou, don't worry" Sakura assured.
"I know. I'm counting on you two, Sakura, Sai. Go, discuss your plans. I want to see both of you in my office, unscathed, in seven days' time"
At this, Sakura glanced over at her mission partner once more, who gave her a slight smile as their gazes met. Sakura wanted to hurl him out the window.
"Yes, Hokage-sama" they replied in unison.
As the door to the Hokage's office shut, Sakura turned tersely to confront Sai. Unfailingly, he met her gaze with a small smile. Damn it, all she wanted to do was wipe that annoying grin off his face with a well-placed punch. Discussing plans with this maddening freak was the last thing Sakura wished to do. Willing away her now-conspicuous glare proved harder than she had imagined. Sai appeared not to notice her predicament.
"Alright Sai," she said with forced calm, "How bout we walk over to the ramen parlor right now and discuss what to do over some food?"
"Okay" he responded expressionlessly, and then accompanied his reply with another phony smile.
Sakura could feel her valiantly-attained calm threatening to leave her. If this kept up, insanity would be a looming prospect.
The walk to Ichikaru was incredibly tense, at least on Sakura's part. Sai, as far as she could see, remained blissfully oblivious to the uptight manner she had adapted as she walked alongside him. Well, that was reassuring. Perhaps he'd forgiven her for slugging him in the face. If that was the case, and she could somehow miraculously learn to cope with his exasperatingly malicious personality, she might actually be able to complete this mission without losing her mind.
"You know," Sai said, interrupting her wishful contemplation, "I think I still have some slight bruises from that time you punched me in the face a few weeks ago…"
Darn. He hadn't forgotten. Time for an attempt to redeem her previous actions.
"Well, Sai" responded Sakura defensively, "You did call me an ugly bitch, I'm afraid I don't deal so well with unreasonably mean comments"
Sai smiled sweetly. If Sakura's self-control was a balloon, she had just accidentally let go of the string.
She cut him off by grabbing him and shoving him against the wooden fence, which creaked in protest to the sudden force pushing against it.
"Okay, listen, Sai" she said angrily as she gripped his shoulders with her straining fingers, "Don't get fresh with me. If I see you smile so falsely at such inappropriate moments one more time I'm going to leave a lot more than bruises on you, got it?" She clenched her fist in front of his face for added effect.
"Why?" he asked, and for the first time since she had spoken to him (which, she realized, couldn't have totaled up to more than ten minutes), she detected the teeniest twinge of confusion in his voice, and then immediately it was gone.
"A smile is the best way to make good first impressions" he continued matter-of-factly, "I read it in a book"
Sakura fixed him with an incredulous stare. Really? Was this boy serious? Who read about smiles in books? He was a nutcase, that was for sure. All thoughts of maintaining her saneness fled.
"I can't believe this!" she screamed, "No one reads about smiles in books! Are you even human?"
All he did was give her an utterly bored stare. Wonderful. Now she was so angry she couldn't even speak anymore.
"I was trained to have no emotions," he said plainly, "I don't know what feelings are; I can't feel them. All I can do is read my books and hope to get my portrayal of them right"
She hadn't expected that coming.
So maybe it wasn't his fault that he had an one hundred percent I-don't-care attitude. All of her past irritation with the boy drained away as she realized. Well, maybe not all, since she still couldn't completely forgive him for the bitch comment, but for the most part she could understand a little more of where he was coming from.
"I'm sorry, Sai" she told him quietly, "I didn't know. I…I guess I assumed the worst of you"
She gave him an apologetic smile, and released her deathly grip on his shoulders. Upon viewing her grin, the corners of Sai's mouth reflexively lifted, only to stop himself in alarm, apparently fearing the decidely frightening wrath of the pink-haired kunoichi. Sakura chuckled at his panicked reaction.
"That's okay, Sai, for now, you can continue to do that fake smile of yours"
"Okay, freaky" he said cheerily.
Damn. Way to kill the mood. Thank god they hadn't gotten to the ramen restaurant yet or his face would be submerged in a steaming bowl of slimy noodles right now. Sakura sighed miserably. It would definitely take quite some time before she could tolerate him. Hopefully, she would learn before suffering from a massive heart attack.
"Screw you, Sai, let's eat" she said grumpily. Grabbing his pale hand, she dragged him towards Ichikaru.
R&R please, thank you.