For Izzle on her Sweet Sixteen. Hope it's being awesome, darling! ILU FOREVER.
And props to anyone who can guess which manga I'm into right now? :D
Frosting on Top
When Kiba told Sakura he was going to make her fall in love with her, all Sakura said was "Right. Could you show me your arm?" He had been sparring with Naruto, while she and Sasuke discussed battle plans for their upcoming mission. Not particularly interesting conversation, but they loved their work.
"Ouch." Naruto snickered, scratching at the bandages Sakura had patched over his cheek. "She never even rejected me so fast."
Sasuke looked amused, and not a bit smug, as he pointed out, "She's never rejected me at all."
Sakura sat back on her heels, finished stitching up the gash on Kiba's forearm, and brushed her sweat-sticky hair back from her forehead. "It's hot outside, huh?"
"I'll buy you ice cream – every day," Kiba said. Sakura just looked at him for a long moment, then laughed, just a quick breath.
"Don't tempt me," she said, but her eyes were bright. She wasn't taking him seriously, Kiba knew. But he had warned her. It wasn't his fault she didn't listen.
He couldn't be held responsible for knocking her off her feet.
She was late for work, and everyone who knew Sakura knew to get out of her way as she ran to the hospital, half-eaten banana in hand.
Well, everyone but Kiba. He stepped right into her path at the last second, so Sakura banged right into him, nose hitting his shoulder roughly before she bounced back. Kiba, of course, took the opportunity to catch her around the waist. As if she couldn't balance herself. She was ninja.
"Sneaky," she complimented, rubbing her nose.
Kiba grinned modestly. "Not enough for you, though."
"I'm very smart."
"I know." He sighed, feigning frustration. "It makes it really hard to seduce you."
She felt her cheeks grow hot, but said, trying to keep her voice light, "Oh, is that what you were doing? I hadn't noticed." She stepped back and made to brush past him, raising a hand in farewell. "Try harder."
In a move she should have expected, Kiba turned to catch her by her upraised wrist. She blinked, startled, as he pulled her gently back.
"Well, that's hardly fair." His voice was very low, and Sakura was conscious of all the curious stares on them. "You're not even giving me a chance."
"Well, Sasuke has done me irreparable damage," she said dryly. "I can never love again. Sorry!"
"Very funny." His grip loosened on her wrist, but Sakura didn't pull away, just looked down. His fingers were very tanned against the pale underside of her wrist, and they were so long, overlapping where they met in their hold. There was a scar on his middle finger, and without a thought, she brushed a finger along it. Her chakra flared and the mark disappeared.
"I'm late," she said, breaking away. "We'll talk later sometime." She half-turned to wave as she continued on her way, picking up her pace. "Bye, Kiba! And remember—" She giggled behind one hand, obviously having too much fun—"Pet names are golden!"
Kiba smiled ruefully as she sped away, and she thought he was, actually, kind of cute.
Hinata asked Sakura to meet with her for lunch, and she agreed immediately, even if she was surprised. She and Hinata got along well, but it wasn't common for them to meet for a meal – especially at the overly-shy Hyuuga's request.
So why didn't she realize before she saw him that Kiba was probably behind it all?
Even before she reached their table, Kiba was leaning back in his chair, grinning like the cat that swallowed the canary. She didn't particularly like the imagery.
"Blushing already?" Kiba asked, cocking an eyebrow. "I haven't even said anything yet!"
Sakura pretended she didn't know what he was talking about. "Did you bully Hinata into this?"
Hinata smiled up at her, and Kiba knocked her shoulder with his. "Nah, Hinata's not scared of me anymore."
"Well, I am," Sakura said, making a big show of reaching into her pouch for a "safety" kunai.
"You wound me. I'll be good."
"I never touch a woman without her consent, Cupcake."
Sakura choked on her own spit. "Cupcake? Seriously?!" she asked incredulously.
"I thought it was fitting. You like?"
Sakura rolled her eyes. Hinata laughed quietly, signaling to a waiter, and catching Sakura's attention. Green eyes flitted about the high-class restaurant with interest. When she went out to eat, it was usually at Ichiraku. Obviously, a Hyuuga would be accustomed to better standards.
"Classy place," she observed, propping her chin on one palm, elbow on the table. She looked to Hinata, a wicked little smile flitting about her lips. "How'd you sneak him—" She nodded at Kiba—"in here?"
"He's been here before." Hinata sounded amused by their banter. "Several times, actually."
"Yeah, they love me here," Kiba said, and something in his voice made Sakura drop her arm and look at him, only to find him watching her with intense brown eyes.
"Um," Sakura said intelligently. Kiba had never rendered her speechless before; not a lot of people really could, except Sasuke. And that was only because he made her so mad she gave him the silent treatment, since nothing else worked on him.
Lucky for her, the waiter finally arrived just then.
"The service is going down, Natsu," Kiba tsked, but he didn't pay him any mind. His eyes were on Sakura, curious, even as Hinata tried to get his attention. Sakura smiled, bemused by the attention.
"Hey, you," Kiba barked, narrowing his eyes. "Stop checking out my girlfriend!"
Sakura turned wide eyes on him, and Hinata rattled off an order for all three of them, then turned to watch the fireworks explode as Natsu scurried off, with an embarrassed apology to her.
"Funny, I wasn't made aware of our relationship," Sakura commented idly, running a finger over the rim of her glass of water.
"Really?" Kiba frowned. "I thought I sent out notices to everyone…"
"Ha ha," she deadpanned. "I don't like funny guys."
"Well," Kiba drawled, tossing a wink at her, "Maybe you just haven't met the right one yet, Cupcake."
"Still at it?" she sighed. Kiba gave her a devilish little smirk, and her insides squirmed.
He didn't let up for the entire meal, making subtle gestures and comments about her, and not-so-subtle ones about them, and Sakura was so swept up by trying not to let him catch her off-guard again that it took her until the end of the meal to notice Hinata had disappeared.
"Oh, she left ages ago," Kiba said, reaching for the bill. Sakura batted his hands away.
"What? Why?" She took out her wallet, but Kiba had the money counted out faster.
"Why do you think?" he asked, already on his feet and tugging at Sakura's elbow. He hustled her out of there so fast she had no time to think.
"Hey – wait – " She planted her heels firmly on the ground so he was forced to stop, and protested, "I was going to pay!"
"But Kibaaaa—" she began, mortified.
"Tell you what," he cut in, tugging on her hand to get her to move again. Grudgingly, she fell into step beside him. "When it's your turn to impress me, you'll pay." He paused, then smiled down at her, almost bashfully. It was a new look for Kiba, with his messy brown hair and facial tattoos. "I promise you it won't cost much."
Awwww. "I, um…" And she didn't know what to say. Again. Dammit. "I… don't get it," she finally confessed, going for honesty.
"What's there to get it? I'm trying to sweep you off your feet." He stopped to look at her, shoving his hands in his pockets and looking strangely serious. "Is it working?"
Finally, she wound her voice. "You're missing two things: sweets and stars."
He smiled, back to roguish old Kiba again, and she felt something loosen in her and she could breathe easy and he said, "Fair enough," so she nodded at him, mouth dry, and then they parted ways.
Until he appeared at her window in the middle of the night.
"Why are we here?" Sakura asked, gesturing around her. Here was in the middle of the forest bordering Konoha, in a small clearing with moonlight streaming down, where the trees rose so high and so far apart that if she tilted her head back, she could see, way up above them, a sprinkling of bright stars.
Kiba ushered her to a picnic blanket, where she sank to her knees, completely nonplussed. It was midnight, she was tired, and Kiba had woken her by knocking on her window, telling her that he had something for her.
"I'm here to woo you," he said. "I don't know why you came."
She had to laugh at the word woo coming from Kiba's lips, but she said, "I'm a sucker for surprises. But I meant… why the forest? Why midnight? I'm starting to get very creeped out."
"I told you, Sakura," Kiba assured her, very seriously, "I never touch a woman without her permission." While she burned red under the cover of darkness, he added, "And this is where the stars are brightest."
"Romantic," she croaked, embarrassed.
Kiba shrugged, taking out two napkin-covered packages from his pockets. "I thought so."
Sakura watched curiously as he unwrapped the items, revealing pink and brown and white frosting. Multi-coloured sprinkles showered to the dark blanket by her knees, and she broke into an excited smile.
"Yeah, sorry, they got a little deformed…" he muttered, rubbing the back of his neck and holding one out to her.
"Cupcakes!" she sang again, reaching delightedly for the proffered treat. "This," she said, running her finger through the frosting and lifting it to her lips, "is very original." She licked the frosting off happily. "I approve."
"That's always good to hear," he replied, taking a healthy bite out of his own. There was a smear of frosting on his lip, and she pointed to it helpfully. "Thanks."
They finished their cupcakes in comfortably silence, and when they finished, Kiba balled up the wrappers and napkins and pushed them deep into his pockets. He shuffled closer, until their shoulders knocked against each other's.
"I gave you your sweets and starlight," he reminded her.
"Do you always take everything so seriously?"
"If it's important enough."
"We've never even talked, Kiba," she reminded him.
"Yeah, we have!"
"Yeah. Until I told you I would make you fall in love with me," he pointed out, and she was silent, considering this. He was quiet too, and their soft breathing filled the night air, blending with the chirp of the crickets and rustling of leaves in the wind, and the gentle movements of the forest animals, all of whom seemed to be thinking this over.
"Clever," Sakura finally said.
"I have my moments. So. Do I pass?"
"Do I qualify? Am I worthy of you, Cupcake?"
She laughed, and touched his hand lightly. He laced them together, flashing a smirk when she raised an eyebrow at him. "Is it so hard?"
"You have high standards."
"Well then, what does that tell you?"
"Tells me you're probably worth it." He paused for a moment, then turned to face her more fully. She remained staring straight ahead. "I never kiss a girl without permission, Sakura."
She finally turned, inhaling sharply. "That's kind of sudden."
"I think I love you. You, of all people, should understand that."
Sakura shook her head, laughing slightly. "You're impossible." And she leaned forward to kiss him on the cheek – just to spite him – but he moved his head, so she moved hers, and his lips were hard on hers and his hands with their long, tanned fingers were surprisingly gentle, resting lightly on her shoulders, and he tasted like cupcakes and the starlight was bright and beaming and winking down on them as he left her speechless.