A/N: Ohai guys! Yes, I wrote you guys a long-ish oneshot. Well, longest I've ever written...when I first started it (meaning the first two sentences), it was supposed to be a sad strory, then I got tired of writing those and it just kind of morphed. M for language, kids. Good reviews are appreciated...;)
DEESCLAYMURR: I own the Faygo and SweetTarts next to me. Naruto is still an ongoing project; it seems Kishimoto-shishou isn't very susceptible to bribery...
They're my boys. They've been my boys for nine years, ever since the moment I first met with them as a genin team when I was still a fresh young 12-year-old with a forehead bigger than Fire Country and a chest flatter than paper. I know them better than I know how to control my own chakra, and I know their strengths, weaknesses, dreams, fears, and personalities like no one else. They know I know them this well.
So how dare they even think I don't know that something's bothering them just by how they eat their ramen...
Yes, that's right. The four of us are sitting here in Ichiraku on a lovely, warm May afternoon, and they're pretending like they're A-OK, even though Naruto's eating like a bird and Sasuke-kun's glorping the ramen down like he hasn't eaten in months, and Kakashi-sensei's pulling back his mask and dropping the noodles in two by two. It's very puzzling, almost offending, that they think I wouldn't notice the sheer abnormality. See, normally Sasuke and Naruto switch roles, whereas the former's barely picking at it and the latter practically inhales it, and Kakashi-sensei causes a random distraction and swallows the whole bowl while we aren't looking. But no, they're all doing the exact opposite and they're acting like it's just a normal day.
Combined with a canceled date last night, this whole weekend makes me desperately want to throttle some poor unfortunate soul to Europe.
I looked across the table to scan the faces of my three boys (or men, but they're not really acting that mature right now). Sasuke's face was apathetic as usual, but there was some odd expression behind his eyes that almost looked hesitant about something. Naruto, on the other hand, is not quite as skilled at masking his emotions, and there was a clear expression of guilt on his face that made me exceedingly shifty about him. And Kakashi's lone eye was wider than normal, making him look quite skittish.
Yes. Skilled at face reading am I, worship me you must.
Thinking back, I remembered this exact same train of events when Sasuke and Naruto broke my straightener during the latter's attempt for a 'Yondy look', and they hid the poor broken hairstyler in a box of heels. I didn't find the damn thing 'til Ino's Christmas party a month later, and smashy-smashy soon occurred.
I looked down at my own ramen bowl, rather neglected due to the attention my examinations required. Picking out a glob of noodles with my chopsticks, I brought it to my mouth in preparation for a swallow when I spot the object of last night's failed date.
His name was Zukaro, and his hair was a sandy brown not unlike Chouji's, or maybe even light enough to be like Temari's. His eyes were a dull dark blue, and his features were soft and undefined. He was actually rather babyfaced, cute in his own way. The bad thing was, he was kind of on my sour side, because last night he called me with the unfortunate news of cancelling our date on account of being deathly sick, and he was up and about looking rather healthy now.
With some lovely maiming in mind, I called his name, sliding off my stool. "Zukaro! Over here!"
Funny thing is, the moment he saw me, he did a complete 180 and walked off with a frantic look gracing his stupid baby face. My mouth dropped open in complete, utter, and justified indignation.
I looked back, noticing my boys' head snap forward the moment I do. This means they saw that, and are acting like I didn't notice them. Oh, they were guilty alright.
I plopped back on my seat.
"Did you see that? My GOD, what an asshole! Deathly sick—what does he take me for? I'm never trusting men like him again!"
"Hm." They all said—in unison. Now it was definitely getting creepy; they never said anything unison, if they ever said the same thing it was all a jumble. I didn't like the feeling I got.
"It's like, what does he expect me to believe? That he was magically cured overnight? I think he'd need me or Tsunade for that. And he declined my help when I offered it to him like a good person! I mean, who blatantly denies medical help when they're DEATHLY SICK?! Nobody who's telling the truth, really!"
The nice thing was that I knew them so well, I knew when they were pretending to ignore me. Isn't that great?
At that precise moment, I started to get really shifty and skeptical. Watching Zukaro, talking in unison, pretending to ignore me—something had to be going on, and I couldn't sit here without doing something about it. So, obviously, I took action.
"Did you guys see Zukaro at all yesterday?"
I seriously doubt that.
"Are you sure? Cause if you did, that would give me even more evidence for rights to kick his ass."
"If there's something you guys aren't telling me, you know you can say it. I won't mind. Anything?"
They all tensed only slightly, but I am too observant not to notice. Any shinobi worth his/her salt would notice that, the shinobi race in general was superior at noticing such stuffs.
"Not a thing."
I suddenly felt very, very sly, like a cat who had a mouse caught easily and right where she wanted it.
"You guys wouldn't have anything to do with this, would you? Did you talk to him at all?"
They shook their heads frantically, but then they saw the look I was giving them, and they looked at me like men truly caught. Inner Sakura (who I previously thought I had gotten rid of once and for all, but things change) started screaming violently that the three males in front of me were the ones that truly needed maiming, but not put so nicely. They're fucking with my love life! was the only coherent thought to run through my mind. They're fucking with my love life, and scaring all the boys away, and it's a good thing I already had sex because I'm never going to date again! But never mind that, before I deal with that issue I have some stupid idiot teammates to seriouslyinjurepossiblykill.
Then, Thar She Blows.
"WHAT THE HELL?! I DON'T NEED YOU FUCKING WITH MY LOVE LIFE! I'M NEVER GETTING A BOYFRIEND NOW, ALL BECAUSE YOU HAD TO GO AND FUCK WITH A POTENTIAL SUITOR!! WHAT WAS WRONG WITH HIM?! I DEMAND YOU TELL ME! SPEAK, DAMMIT!"
I pounded the counter with my Insane Strength™, a crack formed, and they cringed and stared at me. I death-glared back at them. After a brief staredown, it was Naruto who was the brave speaker.
"H-he wasn't good enough, Sakura-chan."
How the HELL am I supposed to be mad at that face?!
I drew in breath to yell at them, when the words registered. He wasn't good enough. I don't know how, but that little sentence calmed the raging beast in me and reassured me that they were just looking out for me, which was really really sweet.
But that didn't change the fact that they potentially ruined my love life.
I glared at them.
"And what, pray tell, made him not good enough for me?"
"Well, Sakura-chan," Kakashi coughed. "He's rather cowardly, for one. We confronted him and he couldn't even meet our eyes."
"HE'S JUST SHY!"
"And he's a crap shinobi, too! Konohamaru knows the guy an-and says he couldn't even hit the bullseye board in kunai practice! He's not worth a kunoichi of your caliber, Sakura-chan. Tsunade even says you've probably surpassed her by now!"
Sasuke snorted into his drink, and Naruto elbowed him in the side. Sasuke choked on said drink, and I hit him on the back so hard it sent him flying into the countertop, stool scooching after him. Mmm, strength.
"So is there anything else you want to unrighteously blame him for?" I grumbled.
Sasuke looked back at me with a hard look.
Due to my completely and utterly obnoxious and life-threatening teammates, currently Sasuke in particular, I regret to inform you that I will be losing you soon, possibly within the next four and a half minutes. So goodbye, old friend.
"Uhm, Sasuke, you might want to think of a new reason...or at least back up."
Aah, so Naruto is smarter than I thought he was. My fists clenched so hard blood started to leak from my palms. I was skirting the edge of a second explosion.
"I. Know. He's. Babyfaced." It was barely a whisper when it came out of my mouth.
"And you decided to date him anyway. See, Sakura-chan, a good-looking girl like you needs a man with sharp, defined features. Someone like me, or Sasuke. Not Kakashi-sensei, he's old."
"Someone seems to be forgetting that Kakashi-sensei is right behind them."
"ANYWAY, someone like me."
"Not a chance in hell."
"Well, how about on Earth?"
"NO, NARUTO. Why are you asking me, anyway? Things not going too well with Hinata?"
"Erm, anou..." Naruto grimaced. I frowned. The idiot really liked Hinata, and was supposed to ask her out. Sasuke's right. He really is a dobe...
"Every time I try to talk to her, she always runs away!" Naruto cried. Kakashi-sensei rolled his eye (yes, eye).
"That's because she's nervous, Naruto. Learn to understand women." he reprimanded.
"But it feels like she doesn't like me!"
"Weren't we talking about Sakura?" Three heads turned towards me. I put my chin in my hand innocently.
"Oh, don't mind me. Just focus on Naruto and his love life, which still exists." My nose scrunched in the cutest face I could muster, my eyes making the little 'n' shape Kakashi's did in his cheery moments.
"Look, Sakura, he wasn't good enough. We're going to judge every guy you date from now on, so get used to it." Sasuke grumbled. I narrowed my eyes at him, like I often seemed to be doing.
"You know what I need to do? I need to date someone who's strong enough to face you three—someone like Neji," I said with my finger on my chin. That was actually a good idea...
...At least, I thought it was until Sasuke stared at me with a glare cold enough to freeze the sun.
"You're not dating Hyuuga."
Naruto looked more dumbstruck, and I knew for a fact that he couldn't make a face as cold as that unless he lost his soul.
"N-Neji?! Next to Sasuke, he's the biggest ice cube in Konoha! You can't go with him!"
"He has hair down to his behind, Sakura. Not very masculine, therefore not good enough. And besides, isn't he going with Tenten?"
"Fine then, KIBA!"
"He has claws and smells horrible."
"You don't like dogs."
"Green spandex jumpsuit."
"Bushy brows, bowl cut."
"Possibly gay for Gai."
My (PERFECTLY NORMAL SIZE) forehead smacked against the counter as I groaned. This really sucked.
"Great. This is wonderful. The only people I have left for lovers are my teammates. Fantastic."
"Isn't it?" A voice came from behind me, and I twisted on my stool to meet it. I was met with a fake smile and a lot of midriff.
"Good day, Hag."
The emotionless boy took a seat next to Kakashi, ordering pork ramen as Naruto turned to ask him a question.
"Hey Sai, know a guy by the name of Zukaki?"
"Zukaro as in, Ferochi Zukaro? Sure I do. His brother Ligato used to be in Root,and I met the kid once. Useless guy, really. Couldn't throw a kunai if his life depended on it. Kind of babyfaced, really."
Naruto smacked the counter rather loudly. "See what I mean? Sai, don't you think he's not good enough for Sakura-chan? He asked her out."
"I wasn't aware that was possible, I thought her face would scare men off." Cue fake smile. "But he's not good enough for anybody, really. So I guess he's not."
I huffed, saving Sai's ass-kicking for later. "Just because he isn't that talented in weaponry doesn't make him 'not good enough'. After all those guy-less years, I learned not to be picky, maybe you should too. I'm leaving."
Slamming down payment for my ramen, I slid off the stool as gracefully as I could and somewhat stomped away in the direction of my apartment, crowds parting for me as I went. Hell hath no fury like a woman called ugly.
It may seem surprising to some, but I don't get asked out often these days. Sure, it's a mutual agreement between many that I am pretty, strong, and smart, but guys seem to gravitate towards Ino and Hinata and even Tenten (which does not go over very well with Neji, I hear). And though it may seem quite emo, I can't help but think that since I never get asked out, what Sai says might be kindasortapossibly true (I know, I really am emo).
I was pretty happy when Zukaro asked me to dinner the other day. He wasn't really my cup of tea, but like I said, I learned not to be picky. I accepted and suggested Wednesday, which was yesterday, and he said something about picking me up at six. And, of course, that's where the stupid men in my life come in, scaring him off and such.
As I got to my apartment, I didn't bother taking out my key and just collapsed on a chair on my 'porch'.
It wouldn't do much of anything whining to them about how I rarely get propositioned anymore and that if they keep doing what they're doing I'm never going to have a chance. Let's see, how to fix this problem...
Can't think of anything. So before I do that, I should find Zukaro and talk to him. I don't hate him anymore, poor guy must have been scared out of his mind faced with the three of the strongest shinobi in the village.
Making up my mind, I got up and descended the stairs with a new resolve to apologize to Zukaro on behalf of my team's overall behavior. At least Sai and Yamato weren't present, then he'd probably be shitting his pants. Oh, I need to find him soon!
I started down the street with searching eyes, surveying the Thursday market crowd for a flash of sandy brown hair and a babyface. Weaving through throngs of people, I finally found him at an umeboshi stand, and I called his name. His eyes flashed with something frantic, and he started to run away, but I reached him and caught him by the arm before he could. Apologizing to the umeboshi guy, I asked him if we could talk and didn't wait for an answer as I led him out of the crowds and behind a civilian apartment building.
He looked scared to death as I faced him. I think he even flinched as I put a hand on his shoulder.
"Look, Zukaro, I am really, really sorry for my team's behavior. I am one of the very few people whom they let kick their ass, so if you can tell me exactly what happened, I can determine how much I need to." I made sure my eyes were purely sympathetic. I could almost feel him cowering under my touch.
"The-they told me not to-to tell you," He looked like a frightened puppy, it was almost pathetic!
"Don't worry about them anymore. Leave it to me. Now, can you tell me what happened?"
He gulped. "Well, a-after I talked to you, they came out of nowhere! Like, out of the shadows, literally! And the mas-masked one asked me what business I had with you, and I told them I asked you o-out, and the tall blonde one with whiskers was like 'uh-uh, you're not good enough', and then—then the black-haired one pushed me against the wall really, really hard and told me to stay the hell away from you and he was so scary cuz his eyes were red! And I-I—"
"Shh, Zukaro, it's alright. That's horrible, I'm so sorry! I'll beat the shit out of them, don't worry. I'm sorry this couldn't work out." It was like talking to a child. He had to be a chuunin at absolute best.
"Y-yeah, me too, Sakura. Cuz you're like, really pretty and nice and—"
Our heads snapped over to see Naruto's head peeking out from the side of the building, and Zukaro jumped and ran like hell. Great, ruining another moment for me.
He smiled when he saw me walking towards him, but it disappeared when I gave him a sour look and walked past.
"Go away, Naruto. You're ruining everything right now."
At first, I thought what I had walked into was a brick wall, but then I realized brick walls didn't have pale skin.
"I thought we said he wasn't good enough, Sakura." I looked up at Sasuke defiantly and realized he could be pretty scary even without his Sharingan, but I wasn't trained for nothing. I was so pissed off by this point, I channeled enough chakra into my hands to push him hard enough to send him flying into the building behind him. I brushed past Kakashi, Yamato (when did he get here?) and Sai, who tried to catch me by the waist, but I just pushed him off and stomped my way back home. I ignored Naruto's calls, hopping onto the roof of a kimono store and picking up speed.
It was time for an appointment with Dr. Ben and Dr. Jerry.
I really need to do the dishes.
This was definitely true. Seven bowls were piled on top of each other on my coffee table, along with six dishes, three cups, and plenty of silverware. I was in the middle of the season finale of a really horrible Chinese soap opera, and I was doing an awesome job of feeling pretty fat.
I sighed, looking down at my frumpy outfit. Bunny slippers, pajama pants, and a bathrobe with no bra or shirt. It almost screamed 'Come Rape the Redneck', for God's sake. My hair was sporting knots of all shapes and sizes (due to all the extensive pulling and scratching), and what little makeup I wore that day had collected in smears and trails under my eyes. I must have been very beautiful, indeed.
As I yelled at the stupid characters on the show ("NO, WANG! HE'S CHEATING ON YOU! NOOOOO!"), my mind was actually perusing the possibilities of a nice late night training session to work off all that delicious food. And I decided on it when stupid Wang chose Jun Feng instead of Lao Chung in the end, and I promptly turned off the TV.
Putting on my red shirt, shorts, tan skirt and Boots of Awesome, I ran a brush through my hair (which took me a good five minutes, by the way), washed my face and bounded out the door, ready to destroy some poor unfortunate ground. I inched down the steps and took off running on my toes, sprinting all the way to the training grounds in the middle of the city.
I hopped the chain link fence with ease, landing in a feline pose on the grass below (like a true kunoichi, thankyouverymuch). Straightening, I scanned the area for any presences, shinobi or not; all I found were a couple of squirrels on Training Ground Three.
Good, I'm alone.
I tried fruitlessly to restrain my (FRESHLY BRUSHED!!) hair as the wind whipped it in my face. If it were any other time and if I were slightly less pissed, I might have enjoyed the 'sexy troubled heroine wind-in-face' look, but right now that was kinda the last thing on my mind.
I finally reached the most open space I could find. Everything that had happened in the past day and a half (getting ditched, finding out my friends caused it, losing my love life, scaring Zukaro away forever, Wang choosing Jun Feng) came to the front of my mind, and it all just magically brought my chakra to my fist and against the ground.
Across town, notoriously heavy sleeper Sarutobi Konohamaru wrenched himself up in bed.
I hopped up into the air to avoid falling between the cracks in the rocks, and watched as nearly the entirety of Training Ground Eight crumble. I let out a scream.
Landing on a boulder, I stood and blinked at the wreckage surrounding me. Boy, did Tsunade teach me a lot.
I hopped over to Training Ground Nine, where there were targets on the trees. I pictured one as Sasuke, one as Naruto, one as Kakashi, and even one as Sai for his earlier comment. I pulled out four kunai, channeling chakra into them and sending one sailing through each tree (yes, through), creating a hole in the bullseyes. I cackled evilly and sped excitedly towards some sparring dummies on the other side of the field.
The smell of grass and dirt perpetually wafting around the training grounds slowly disappeared, and I got a rather strong whiff of a different smell. It was more like snow, and cologne, and...I sniffed.
Do I smell tomato?
Then, the dummy I was happily beating the shit out of was kicked to this side, and a silhouetted figure jumped in and took its place, blocking my hits with its own. I wasn't fighting a potato sack full of sand anymore; this was a human being. I furrowed my brows, stepping it up. That smell is so goddamn familiar...
I blocked a shot at my collarbone and ducked to deliver a kick to the face, but my foot was caught and twisted around. I gasped lightly; this person was a little too fast for my liking.
Channeling Special Medic Chakra into my fingertips, I pulled loose, flipped up and struck one, two, three spots on Unknown Person's arms, quickly stepping away. He should have been done for, but one roll of the shoulders and he was using those arms again. His nervous circuits should have been completely shut off...did I miss?
"What, you think I spent all those years with Kabuto and didn't learn anything?"
I hopped back about fifty feet, my mouth wide open in indignation. I didn't need him here; in fact, he was the last person I wanted to see. I shut my mouth again, though; I didn't need to look like an idiot, either.
I turned and pushed chakra into my feet to leave, but a blur of black flashed in front of me and I ran into what felt like a brick wall for a second time that day. Next thing I know, two hands have an iron grip on my arms and I'm staring Sir Asshole straight in the face.
"Why are you always running away?"
I didn't answer. I didn't think he deserved it. Instead, I just looked him right in his eyes defiantly. He sighed.
"You're still mad about what we did, aren't you, Sakura?"
BEEP Cannot answer, silent treatment activated.
I've heard a lot of dreamy, breathless speeches about Sasuke's 'molten pools of onyx', and since he'd left I had rolled my eyes at every one, but it's kind of hard for a girl to keep air in her lungs when on the receiving end of the look he was giving me right now. I do believe he knew this, because at the moment that ever-hated, ever-beloved smirk was sitting on his thin lips.
"Don't listen to what Sai says."
"Then what's your problem?"
What could I do? I exploded.
"YOU! My problem is that I don't get asked out much anymore, and because of you and Kakashi-sensei and Naruto it'll never happen again! I lost my love life because of stupid Sasuke-kun, and idiot Kakashi-sensei, and dumbass Naruto!"
I ignored the temptation to pound the rock-hard chest in front of my face in my anger, opting instead to stomp my foot and create a few less than minor cracks in the earth. Sasuke, of course, was doing nothing to soothe my rage by giving me a 'we've-been-over-this-before' look.
"Look, Sakura, we've told you about five times already that he's just not good enough."
I cocked my head and raised an agitated brow, wondering just how repetitive he could be.
"Oh, and I suppose you are?"
They were warm. For a while now, I had expected that they would be cold and dry and that if I ever got the guts to do it, it would be sparkless. But no, Sasuke's lips were warm and wet, and he kissed with this kind of possessive hunger that made me once again aware of his hands on my arms, holding them there. And screw sparkless—there was enough electricity to light up Fire Country in that kiss. It might have been the suddenness of it and/or the shock debilitating my brain and making it send my limbs the wrong message, but something weird drove me to wriggle my arms free and wrap them around his neck, finally participating myself.
With his hands now unoccupied, I soon found them tangled in my hair. That was evil, he had to know about my sensitive scalp. But what did I care? I just pushed myself against the broad expanse of his body, toying happily with the edge of his shirt.
I shoved down the urge to groan when he separated himself from me, our faces an inch apart and swollen, well-kissed lips nearly touching again. I could feel his hot breath against my lips, and slowly, a smile curled onto my face. What he said next was a whisper, but I could still clearly hear the tones of his smooth, deep voice through it.
"Actually, yes, I do believe I am."
And then, when I should have been pissed out of my mind at being taken advantage of and immediately started bashing his head in, I giggled like a schoolgirl and muttered something half-incoherent about his voice sounding like melted chocolate. And I shrieked at being transitioned from vertical to horizontal, finding my lips reoccupied and my body bridal-style in his arms.
"C'mon, let's go do your dishes."
How the hell...?
Yep. That's the end of that one... Hope joo laike.