A joint project between mlle anna and Sailor Silver Moon
All general disclaimers apply.
Everyone knows that people unconsciously pick up the characteristics of their mentors. That's why Naruto has a frog-shaped wallet and a perverted jutsu. That's why Sasuke has homicidal urges and a tendency to scare little boys. And that's why I've suddenly become the Legendary Sucker and could really use a strong drink
Note: So, on a whim, I decided to check the email account I devote specifically to and what do I find but a shiny new chapter from miss Sailor Silver Moon. Wonderful surprise, indeed.
Chapter 7: Caught speeding
Sakura wasn't sure how she had ended up eating with the entirety of Team 10 but was grateful for the chance to add something other than ramen to her diet. Ino had dragged them all to the new western style barbecue restaurant that had opened last month. Shikamaru couldn't be bothered to protest and Chouji was more than happy to lead the way once the word "barbecue" had reached his ears. Sakura reasoned that since (as far as she knew) neither of the boys had been complicit in the shinobi debacle masquerading as a bachelor party, she really couldn't object to their company. She was also fairly certain that neither of them had any plans to redecorate her apartment, which only brought them higher into her favor.
But why Sakura had thought spending more time with Ino would be anything less than painful – there was no sane explanation.
"So, Forehead, have you booked a venue for the wedding yet?"
"Ugh, Ino-pig, can we spend just one meal without bringing up how messed up my life currently is?" Sakura leveled a lackluster glare at the blonde. Ino didn't seem fazed.
"When is the last time you had that head of yours checked? Are you seriously complaining about being engaged to one of the most eligible bachelors in the village? How is it that you get Hyuuga Neji while I'm stuck with pink-tinged hair, tweedle-dee and tweedle-dum?" Ino shot two glares at her teammates.
"Animal magnetism?" Sakura joked morosely. "When I go outside, squirrels stick to my clothing."
"Sakura! Be serious!"
"I am being serious," Sakura took a deep breath and weighed the option of telling Ino the truth or listening to her gripe some more. "We're not really going to get married, Ino-pig. This is all a misunderstanding."
Ino narrowed her blue eyes speculatively. "You're not going to throw me off the scent that easily. There is no way you can't be ecstatic about being with Neji! He's a prodigy at everything – imagine how he must be in bed."
Sakura caught a fleeting grimace flit across Shikamaru's face. Clearly, the lazy genius wanted to be here as little as she did. "Ino! There. Is. No. Wedding. Neji and I are nothing to each other." She enunciated each word slowly for the blonde's benefit.
"His uncle hired a priest, Neji had a bachelor party and Sasuke is looking even more grumpy than that time Chouji ate his tomatoes – are you seriously in denial about this?"
"It's not denial," Sakura sniffed as she picked up a piece of pork. "I'm just very selective about the reality I accept."
Ino opened her mouth to speak, but surprisingly it was Chouji who beat her to the punch. "Perhaps Sakura would enjoy her meal more if we were to discuss a different topic?"
Sakura smiled brilliantly over at the chubby boy and tried to think of something to divert the conversation to. But it was hard to focus when Ino was gritting her teeth while eating and kicking Chouji under the table. A glass table – everybody could see.
"Focus on your kebabs, Chouji, and I'll take care of the conversation," Ino snapped before Sakura could successfully navigate to a safer topic. "Sakura is clearly in denial about her feelings for Neji and is quite possibly about to mess up her life unwittingly."
"I don't know what you are-" Sakura started to mumble another denial but was cut off before getting very far.
"Describe Neji in three words. Whatever three pop into your head first." Ino commanded imperiously.
Sakura blinked once, paused and replied "Arrogant. Clan. Moody." There was no way in hell that she was going to admit that the three things she had immediately thought were 'brilliant, warm and sexy.' Never mind that explaining Neji was warm to sleep on would most likely give Ino an aneurysm.
"I'm not buying that for a second. You've been teammates with arguably the most arrogant, broody clan member of all of Konoha. None of those things really bother you. And that pause means those weren't the first things you thought of either."
Sakura cursed that the normally dense Ino was incredibly perceptive when it came to anything related to gossip, attractive shinobi or making Sakura feel like a fool. Unfortunately, the issue at hand was the trifecta.
"Ino, just let it go."
"No, Forehead. You have to be crazy to not be attracted to Hyuuga Neji!"
"Ugh!" Sakura groaned, "When it comes to him, crazy isn't that much of a stretch." She jumped slightly when she felt a warm arm slide around her shoulder unexpectedly. She turned her head slightly and saw the man she had been avoiding since the bachelor party debacle: her fiancé.
Neji rubbed his cheek against hers affectionately (completely out of character and most likely in an attempt to revenge himself for the geisha trick) and corrected, "I'm rich, so you have to say I'm eccentric."
And Sakura was forced to accept the possibility that those twisty, squiggling things that appeared in her belly at his contact might actually be feelings for Hyuuga Neji. But damned if she was going to let Ino know! Sakura scooted sideways on her bench and shook Neji's arm off of her.
"Don't ever touch me in public again." She growled at the brown haired genius who looked entirely unconcerned at her actions.
"So, in private it's ok?" Neji asked innocently, timing his comment so that Ino spluttered into her tea. "I mean, you did seem alright with it the other night." He trailed off, enjoying the rising color in the medic's face. There were few things as amusing as Sakura, Neji was quickly discovering. It didn't take a genius to realize that she was as deadly as she was beautiful, but he couldn't resist teasing her. Nothing had ever captured his interest as much as this slip of a kunoichi. Perhaps Hiashi-sama wasn't out of his right mind in trying to add her to the clan. She would be a nice splash of color in the drab mansion.
"Okaaaay. This lunch is officially over," Sakura unceremoniously shoved Neji off the chair and stood up swiftly. "I'll leave you to pay the bill, Ino, since it seems I took care of the entertainment portion." The blonde was still hacking out a lung and couldn't protest as Sakura grabbed Neji's arm none too gently and guided him forcefully out of the restaurant.
Sakura dragged the unprotesting shinobi towards the relatively secluded bridge that Team 7 usually used a meeting point before letting him go with a huff. "Hyuuga! What am I supposed to do when you.. you…" She spluttered, at a loss for words at his behavior. There were several endings to the sentence that Inner Sakura was suggesting.
'When you nuzzle my neck like that and my head goes all blank.' 'When you wrap your arm around me and my heart tries to leap out of my chest.' 'When you remind me of how natural it felt to sleep snuggled up with you.'
"When you embarrass me in front of a whole restaurant like that!" Sakura ignored her inner voice and valiantly tried not to think of how terribly attractive Neji was with that lazy smile spreading across his face.
"I'm not very good with advice. Can I interest you in a sarcastic comment?" Neji replied, cheekily.
Sakura gaped. Neji took advantage of her slack-jawed reaction to reach up with a hand to slowly push her mouth closed. He couldn't really be blamed if he let his hand linger on her chin or if he felt the need to push some imaginary strands of pink hair off of her face. He idly contemplated how soft her skin was and found his thoughts straying to her twitching lower lip. Perhaps he would…
Sakura blinked rapidly when Neji, who had begun to lean in, paused and tossed three shuriken backward contemptuously. The screech of metal crashing against metal immediately followed and Sakura jerked her head up to see three sets of kunai and shuriken fall harmlessly to the ground. Neji spared the kunai on the ground another disdainful look before cocking an eyebrow at the source.
Sakura frowned and glanced at Neji again. First multiple levels of sarcasm and now condemnatory shuriken-throwing. Apparently there was a whole range of skills that she needed to work on.
"Sakura-chan!" Naruto waved enthusiastically at her, looking especially pleased with himself, though a little singed and covered in splotches of orange paint that were hard to distinguish from his normal outfit. Walking next to him was Sasuke, looking as if someone had kicked his cat.
That was always how he looked though.
Sakura spared the kunai another glance and recognized them as the perpetrators of evil upon her poor hapless couch. She slowly did the mental calculations of trajectory. Then she re-calculated it again before frowning. That couldn't be right – why was Sasuke throwing pointy objects directly at the back of Neji's head?
Were Sasuke's long-dormant hormones awakening and focusing on, of all people, Neji? Sakura scrunched up her nose in distaste. For all her jokes about taking after Orochimaru, she had never truly suspected that Sasuke's indifference to her was the result of playing for the other team. Wait, no. Sasuke had aimed for Neji. So that meant… a vast amount of trouble, most likely. Sakura sighed at the homicidal tendencies of her teammates and wondered how much paperwork she was going to have to deal with when yet another restraining order was filed.
"Uchiha, you do realize it's treason to try to assassinate fellow Konoha shinobi, correct?" Neji placidly commented, ignoring the murderous waves coming off of Sasuke.
Naruto laughed nervously, "That's just Teme's way of saying hello. It's one of those things he picked up in Sound. If he throws a Katon fireball at you, it means he wants to know how your day is going."
Sasuke shifted his glare to include Naruto.
"Anyway, Sakura-chan, I wanted to let you know that your bathroom is all fixed."
Sakura hadn't been aware anything had been broken; she quickly decided that she didn't want to know what Naruto meant because it probably had something to do with his singed appearance.
"Let's train. Kakashi has an A-rank mission for us." Sasuke grunted at her, making it very clear that 'us' did not include any members of the Hyuuga clan.
"I'm afraid you won't be taking my fiancéeout of the village anytime soon, Uchiha. We have quite a few arrangements to complete and besides, you wouldn't want to risk making her miss her own wedding, would you?" Neji placed a possessive hand on Sakura's elbow and began leading her away from her teammates, ignoring the flash of red swirling in Sasuke's eyes.
Sakura tried to process the encounter that had just taken place for a few more moments before deciding that Sasuke and Neji could work out their issues about her fake wedding on their own. Heck, she hadn't even finished working out her own issues about her fake wedding.
"Um, Hyuuga-san," Sakura began as her fiancé continued to gently but forcibly drag her towards the shopping district.
"Neji," he interrupted.
"Huh?" Sakura blinked, unsure of what he was implying.
"If we're going to make this believable, you are going to have to call me by my given name, Sa-ku-ra." He emphasized each syllable of her name deliberately, glancing back just in time to catch the faint blush that he triggered in her face.
"Neji-san," Sakura began again but was interrupted once more.
"That's still too formal."
"Neji," Sakura hesitated, "-kun." Since he showed no signs of correcting her again, Sakura continued with her original question. "Where are we going?" They had reached the upscale portion of the area, where the goods were exquisite, but the prices inhibitory.
"My lord Uncle wishes for us to continue with the preparations for the wedding."
"Oh god, do we have to buy more coffins?" Sakura exclaimed in mock-horror. "I haven't even received my first order yet!"
Neji actually deigned to roll his eyes at her before stopping in front of an opulent kimono store. He let go of her elbow and opened the door for her. Sakura hesitated for a minute, wary of the Hyuuga clan's latest scheme, but since Neji would never let her finish all the seals for the transportation jutsu, she was effectively trapped. Sighing, she stepped into the store and was immediately greeted by the proprietor.
"Haruno-san! We have been expecting you, please follow me. Would you care for any refreshment?" In the blink of an eye, Sakura was trundled off to the rear of the store, her protests falling on deaf ears.
Neji followed behind the bustle at a sedate pace, well out of arm's range from the pink-haired kunoichi. He found himself being led to an ivory couch by another salesperson and accepting a glass of champagne. The sounds of Sakura's shrieks reached him despite the closed door to the changing room. He suppressed a smirk at her inability to use chakra-enhanced strength to defend herself against civilian women.
He gingerly took a sip from the champagne flute to calm his nerves a bit before sliding his other hand into the concealed pocket of his pants. His fist closed around the small object there and he paused to once again debate the intelligence of his plan. Originally, the idea had formed as a reaction to that damned Uchiha's arrogant claim on his fiancée, but he realized he was becoming dangerously close to being attached to the pink haired girl.
"If you laugh, I'm going to pound you into the earth," Sakura growled as she was urged (read: forcibly ejected) from the dressing room.
Neji looked up and blinked. Sakura was dressed in a fully embroidered white wedding kimono. Her hair had been twisted up despite its short length and a few tendrils escaped to frame her pale face. But what caught his attention the most was how her green eyes seemed to jump out at him against the background of the snowy fabric. It was like reading an open book: embarrassment, bashfulness and hope all flit across her eyes as she awaited his reaction.
"The sleeves are too long," She finally muttered, attempting to break the silence that permeated the room. "And they didn't have matching shoes in my size," she confided to him, lifting the hem of the kimono a little to reveal her black uniform boots underneath.
In spite all of this – or perhaps, because of it – Neji couldn't help but smile. Seeing her in this dress, it was easy to understand why Hiashi-sama thought she would make a good addition to the clan – she was beautiful, intelligent and completely beguiling with her innocence. Here she was in the most expensive wedding store in the village and she was concerned about her boots? She was utterly amusing. Neji stifled a smile and took two steps forward to stand in front of her.
"Sakura, shut up, will you?" he intoned, causing her to make a face at him.
"I'm sorry, your highness, shall I go get you your coffee and tea now?" She replied, mockingly.
Shaking his head slightly in amusement, Neji withdrew his left fist from his pocket and he heard her sharply intake a breath as he knelt before her and opened the little velvet box that contained his mother's engagement ring.
Looking up at her from on one knee, Neji had to wonder if he wasn't beginning to fall for his fiancée. That was the only logical explanation that he could come up with for the sudden and overwhelming decision that he couldn't let anything or anybody prevent this wedding from taking place.
To be continued by anna
Sailor Silver Moon: I do apologize, dear readers, for the delay in this chapter. The fault lies with me alone – and anna gets all the credit for spurring me to write this once again. Last we met, I was given a coffin, some jealousy and some icha icha posters…and I return with a grumpy Uchiha, a shiny (if not exactly new) ring and some squiggly feelings from Neji.
Leave us a line and anna will bring you Chapter 8!
anna: Chapter 8 will conclude our joint project.