Title: Rivals

Author: paws-bells

Beta-ed by: MelissaRose85

Characters/Pairing: Haruno Sakura and Uchiha Itachi

Type: One-shot (Complete)

Genre: Romance/Humor

Word Count: 1446

Theme: LJ Community, 50-shinobi theme #41, Rivals

Rating: T (Contains content not suitable for children)

Disclaimer: Naruto belongs to Kishimoto-san.

Summary: Ramen-verse Non-Massacre AU. Rock Lee has a new rival, but Rock Lee will not give up, for the love of Sakura, he will persevere!! Crackfic, almost definitely!

Created on: 06/09/08

Completed on: 07/09/08

Chapter Last Revised on: 20/09/08

He didn't quite notice the incredulous amount of suitors she attracted until a few weeks after he had admitted to wanting to spend more time with her.

It had started out so subtle at first; the little, admiring glances that she always received as she walked by, small, seemingly innocent excuses used to gain her attention, no matter how brief, and interesting snatches of conversation to pique her curiosity and make her smile.

She always lent an attentive ear to those who wanted to speak to her; therefore it really wasn't hard to get her attention at all. That was part of the reason why he hadn't noticed at first how popular she was, especially amongst males their age. The other part was mainly due to the fact that, since he had always been unconcerned and apathetic to the courting habits of others, it had taken him awhile to realize that some of those nin were subtly flirting with Sakura, right under his very nose.

It had taken a blithe comment from his younger brother for him to finally 'wake up and smell the roses,' but wake up he did. Sasuke had made some off the shoulder remark about how tolerant he was of the men who seemed to flit around Sakura all the time and the odd statement had been enough to make Itachi pay attention.

True enough, there always seemed to be some faintly interested male around her, be it a patient, a civilian, or a nin. Maybe it was her cheerful nature, maybe it was the fact that she was a medic-nin with a particularly gentle bedside disposition, maybe it was even the rare fact that she was actually a very powerful kunoichi in her own right, but there was no denying that there was something completely genuine and guileless about her that attracted attention like nothing else could.

Sometimes, she would be showered with seemingly innocuous 'Thank You' gifts for her gentle care in the hospital; other times, she would be asked out for a meal in order to 'repay her help and kindness.' And he also found that most of the time, she didn't reject those advances out of politeness, and it had taken a bit more silent observation for him to come to the conclusion that she appeared more or less oblivious to her suitors' true intentions.

Of course, it was slightly unfair to band all her suitors together into one big clump of inconvenience to Sakura. They varied in terms of affection; some harboring the smallest crush on the vibrant pink-haired female, some completely embarrassed and stuttering with tinted cheeks whenever she spoke to them, and of course, there were those on the other end of the spectrum, who whipped out the big guns and openly pursued Sakura with great enthusiasm and vigor.

Enter Rock Lee.

Founder and President of the Sakura Appreciation Society, proud Blue Beast of Konoha, Taijutsu Specialist, appalling green spandex-wearing eccentric Jounin and staunch defender of Youthful Squirrels and pink-haired kunoichi alike.

And yes, he had been the first to confess his love to a stunned Sakura when they were only pre-teens, as well as progressively once a year for the next nine years. Sakura was only faintly shocked now whenever the bowl-headed, bushy-browed Jounin professed his love to her at periodic intervals. She always put him down gently though, which, unfortunately for her, only served to make him more determined to win over the 'delicate Cherry Blossom' for himself.

Lee was understandably not so happy when it finally reached his ears that his dear Sakura-san had been seen spending a lot of time with an older raven-haired male.

And that was how Itachi gained his first rival ever—all for the love of one Haruno Sakura.


"Uchiha Itachi-san!!" The energetic Lee had sprung upon the blandly indifferent ANBU when the Uchiha had emerged from the Hokage Tower with his younger brother in tow, his enthusiastic cartwheels and handsprings, followed immediately by a dashing Dynamic Entry, made random passersby gape with disbelief.

The apathetic Uchiha heir had flinched almost imperceptibly in reaction to the possible threat, whereas Sasuke merely stared stupendously at the spandex-clad male.

Lee did not notice; he was busy executing a few spins, high kicks, and jumps, no doubt to boost his youthful spirit and confidence. Then, after a suave turn that had the younger Uchiha looking on with growing disbelief, the Taijutsu expert leveled an accusing index finger at the long, raven-haired heir.

"Uchiha Itachi-san!" he barked out again with great authority. "My fellow club members have informed me that you have been spotted near our fair Sakura-san no less than eight times in the past two weeks! Exactly what is your purpose and why do you insist on needlessly basking under the glorious attention of our fair Sakura-san so?"

"…club members…?" Sasuke echoed, mildly disturbed. He had heard the rumors, of course, and it would really make sense that Lee would be the leader of Sakura's fanclub, if there was one. And also, Lee's speech was as outrageous as ever. Sasuke really couldn't imagine his stoic brother basking anywhere.

"…" The elder Uchiha merely looked at the younger bowl-headed Jounin with his usual expressionless stare. Any random nin would have assumed that the ruthlessly efficient ANBU captain was hardly intimidated by the antics of one lovesick Taijutsu specialist. Sakura would take one look at that same expression and come to the simple conclusion that Itachi was actually at a loss for words, and had no idea whatsoever how to proceed with this strange situation.

An excellent warrior and strategist Itachi may be, but a man well versed in communication and people skills he was definitely not.

It really was a good thing that his silence was rather intimidating most of the time, and problems like these normally chose to straighten themselves out quickly before he even needed to interfere.

Like now, when Lee had finally decided that enough was enough; Gai-sensei was right, the Uchiha clan may be full of hip and cool people but he should not be deterred! He was on par with them; he was a Genius of Hard Work!!

"Yosh!!" the bushy-browed man yelled loudly as he withdrew his offending digit and pumped his fist into the air in a great show of genki spirit. He looked at Itachi, the great fires of determination burning in his glassy black eyes and…promptly rampaging out of control due to his passionate love for one blithely oblivious pink-haired kunoichi.

"I have no doubt that you are attempting to court the beautiful Sakura-san, now that you have finally realized all her fine attributes and her wonderful, kind personality!" Lee declared loudly, easily as deafening as a loudhailer as he announced his findings rather grandly to the pokerfaced Uchiha. "But you are not the only one, Itachi-san!! I have been subtly courting our lovely Cherry Blossom for nine years already, and surely I have the advantage!!"

In the background, Sasuke snorted. "Lee, you are about as subtle as Orochimaru in a pink tutu."

It was most fortunate that the spandex-clad man had not heard the younger Uchiha's snide comment. After all, it was rather difficult to hear anything above the clash and roar of the imaginary marching band that cheered him on in this Duel for Pure and Innocent Love!!

"Yosh!!" Lee roared enthusiastically again. "From henceforth, you and I will be Rivals for Love! For Sakura-san's sweet affections, let's have a fair and Youthful competition to remember!!"

With one last fancy pirouette, and a few handsprings thrown in for good measure, the energetic and vigorous Lee turned and dashed down the street at full speed, kicking up a whole cloud of dust in the process. Sasuke didn't really mind; at least all that dust was obscuring the appalling sunset that had appeared out of nowhere, as well as the explosion of sparkles that were floating around, heralding the other nin's dashing departure.

"…He is completely nuts," Sasuke muttered, glancing briefly at his brother's reaction as he did so.

Itachi merely blinked slowly, and then, almost as if nothing bizarre and downright disturbing had just happened, continued to walk on in his usual quiet, deliberate gait towards his clan's holding.

Sakura would have to explain what rivalry this Rock Lee was going on about with his ridiculous speech of youth and love, for he surely had no idea whatsoever what the other nin was talking about.

The younger Uchiha stalked after his brother, but then a sudden thought occurred to him and made him smirk with unholy amusement.

At least Lee didn't try to induct Itachi into that damn fanclub.


Questions That I Would Like To Answer Before You Ask:

I would really like to say that I have no idea where this came from, but I would be lying if I said that. As mentioned in the summary, this is sort of a crack fic. Do not worry; not all of the Ramen-verse sequels are going to end up like this!

Next up, my apologies for slaughtering Lee's character somewhat; I do love the guy and all, but at the same time, I just can't resist making fun of him, haha.

And I fully agree with my beta; poor Itachi needs a hug. He really is so abused all in the name of Sakura, and that's not going to end anytime soon either, the poor man.

…I am a really bad person!


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