title: a farmer's dozen
summary: AU. FLUFF. SasuSaku. In which—despite being His Own Worst Enemy—Sasuke manages to get his mack on. "I, uh, really like the way you shuck your corn."
notes: So that one time when I wrote that one story and said that I'd never ever go crackier than that, ever , because even I have my limits?
Well, I lied.
And now, I'm going to take advantage of this AN to take us all on a trip to the Department of Backstory.
This piece was inspired by three things. The first was the trip I took today to what constitutes farm country, where I am. I chipped my nail polish. D:
The second thing that inspired this was a little game by the name of Farmtown. While I do not play it myself, the second the concept for this piece came to me, I LOLed—attracting some very strange looks, as you can imagine—and thought of three very special people.
And, finally, if you look very, very closely—or well, not really, because I have the subtlety of a sledgehammer—this piece can also be considered a gentle nudge to canon!Naruto.
Anyway, enough of my babble.
warning: Innuendo! Lots of it. Also, beware my own personal brand of awkward. Or well, Sasuke. Incidentally, I would also like to throw in the possibility for OOC. :D
disclaimer: Naruto isn't mine.
All things considered, Naruto thought, things were all right here, down on a farm—it was safer than he had expected, anyway.
Beyond the possibility of a stampede in the pigpen, and a riot in the chicken coop—both occurrences, the owner assured them, almost impossible as there were farmhands who kept an expert eye out for those sorts of thing—the small farm they were on, located on the outskirts of Konoha, was a relatively safe place to have a mission. There was barbed wire to keep out intruders of the thieving sort, and both he and Sasuke were more than enough take the brunt of an enemy assault, so he was unworried on that account.
He turned to his two teammates, who were staring at him with polite disinterest, a smile of self-satisfaction making its way across his face.
"It's all right, Sakura-chan," he said slowly, as though he were speaking to a particularly slow child. "You'll be fine here. Nothing will hurt you."
Sakura arched a brow in question, while beside her, Sasuke settled for an impatient grunt.
"Why would I be worried, when we're on a farm, Naruto," she asked simply, as though that explained it all. "Akatsuki's gone, Konoha's in the process of being rebuilt, and Orochimaru's probably in the vicinity of Sasuke-kun's tummy, the pervert. There haven't been any disturbances in six months, and frankly, the worst I've had to treat at the hospital was Shikamaru's toe, and he broke that when Ino-pig not-so-accidentally dropped some potted hydrangeas on his foot when he told her he was going out with Temari last Tuesday. The only reason we're even on this mission is because I bumped Konohamaru's team from the mission's line yesterday, because you two said you were getting cabin fever. Which brings me to my last point: in case you haven't noticed, we're on a farm. Why would I have any reason to think that I wouldn't be fine? And why would you?"
"Well," Naruto said defensively, "you never know. I'm just trying to look out for you, you know."
Sakura shook her head almost fondly.
"I can take care of myself, as you should know."
She walked past him and into the farmhouse where their tasks were waiting.
Sasuke, for his part, hesitated, and turned to Naruto, an unreadable expression on his face. After a few moments of consideration, he spoke.
"You," he said, his voice almost dismissive, as though he were stating a fact, "are an idiot."
"And you," Naruto returned cheerfully, "are in love. So we're about the same. You'd better tell her, by the way," he continued conversationally. "Today, even. I can't take the stupid emo angsty-face you put on whenever one guy or another even so much as says hello to her in the morning. It puts me off my ramen."
"Idiot," Sasuke repeated, in case Naruto had misheard him the first time. One could never be sure, he thought—not with Naruto.
"You used that one already!"
They'd been called in to help with the harvest at a small, nearby farm. It was the peak of the season, so there was, Hiro the farmhand told them, much to do that day. Hiro had assigned Naruto the task of assisting in plowing the field. The latter had agreed, thoroughly pleased with his "kick-ass" job. He'd even gone so far as to taunt Sasuke with what he saw as his "overwhelming maleness." Why else, he'd wondered aloud for Sasuke's benefit, would Hiro have assigned him the job?
Sasuke hadn't taken the bait initially, but when Hiro wasn't looking, he'd given Naruto a quick hit to the back of the head. Sakura had smiled a little at their individual reactions, but had to beat back a blush when Hiro assigned to the two remaining members of Team 7 the task of carrying bales of hay into the farmhouse.
Sakura bit her lip as she heard Sasuke behind her, grunting as he hefted a bale of hay onto his shoulders. It was noon, and the sun was at its peak, but it would have been a lie to attribute the almost-permanent blush on her face to the heat.
Her green eyes were drawn to the bit of black fabric lying bunched up in an empty corner of the loft.
Sasuke, she remembered, had taken his shirt off.
Sakura almost squeaked at the thought, and wondered if the way she'd tried to avoid looking at him had been terribly obvious. There was, she decided, only so much a girl could take, and the thought of him, flushed with exertion, with his miles and miles of muscle, and pale skin that had absolutely no right to be that flawless after all he'd been through, and oh, now he was calling for her.
Really, how was she supposed to concentrate with him standing there, half-naked and…breathing?
"—kura? Oi, Sakura?"
This time, Sakura did squeak.
He looked at her strangely, and wiped away the sweat on his brow. Sakura felt her mouth run dry.
"I've been calling your name for the past five minutes." Then, he gestured to the unmoved stack behind her, still waiting in the sunlight.
"Hiro says the rest of those are needed for the horses later, so we're to leave them out. He wants us to help him with the produce next."
Sakura nodded, and started toward him, only to have her foot catch on the metal end of a hoe someone had left on the ground. For a few moments, she flailed for purchase, cursing herself for her clumsiness. She was a kunoichi, after all; she thought she had more grace than this. She stopped suddenly, suddenly aware of a steadying presence—more specifically, at the large, warm hands resting on her waist.
For a moment, Sakura forgot to breathe.
"Are you all right," he asked, with only the barest hint of irritation. It was then that she realized that her own hands must have fallen to rest on the planes of his chest—she'd felt his question as clearly as she'd heard it. The rumbling purr was enough to make the flush on her face come full-force, and the feel of his hands on her bare waist made her feel almost faint.
"Yes," she said, her voice husky. Inwardly, she cursed her eternal awareness of him, at her inability to forget what he had been—what he still was, if she were honest with herself—to her.
Sasuke was silent for a moment, watching her intently with his dark eyes. Then, as suddenly as he had come, he was gone again, releasing Sakura so abruptly that she almost fell.
It was only when Naruto bounded in, only moments later that she realized why.
"Hey guys," he said, panting. "Hiro sent me here to look for you…"
Naruto trailed off when he suddenly felt the previous moment's awkwardness closing in on him. Almost immediately, he gave Sasuke a significant look, and smiled widely.
"What's going on," he asked. "Did I miss something big? Sakura-chan, did Sasuke tell you about—"
"Hiro wanting us to help with the produce," Sasuke said loudly. "Yes. Yes I did."
Sakura eyed the two of them suspiciously. She was too used to them to not know when they were hiding something from her. The only question was what they were hiding.
But before she could question either of them, they turned away, almost in unison, with Sasuke only pausing to pick up his discarded shirt. Together, they walked in the direction of the fields, bickering in low tones. This left Sakura alone to wonder whether she'd only imagined the barest hint of pink she'd seen on Sasuke's face before Naruto had arrived.
"And you call me dead-last? What the hell are you waiting for—a written invitation? She's waited for you for five freaking years! It doesn't get more obvious than that!"
"Shut up, idiot! She'll hear you. She isn't deaf, you know."
"Yeah, well it'd save you the trouble of growing a pair and actually telling her, wouldn't it?"
"I was getting there before you interrupted."
"Yeah, yeah, whatever. Hiro said you'd be going to the tomato patches by the way. Try not to have an orgasm. I don't think Sakura-chan'd be as hot for you if she saw you gagging for, uh, fruits."
"…Have I told you lately that I hate you?"
If awkward situations were the only sort of thing he had to look forward to whenever he was left alone with his pink-haired teammate, Sasuke decided he'd rather face what was left of Akatsuki bare-handed, and shackled with chakra-draining instruments from the ANBU Torture and Interrogations Building.
Death, at least, was quicker than mortification, and, Sasuke thought privately that it would have been a lot easier to resign himself to that, than the unlabelled, and undefined feeling he'd taken to getting whenever he was around Sakura.
He paused in his work—and in his ruminations—to in admire the view. So close to his mouth, to where he could literally taste it—red and plump, blessed with the perfect shape.
A piece like that, he decided, would only be juicy.
He shook himself out of his thoughts, and turned to where Sakura was looking at him. Her brows were furrowed and she was biting her lip, concerned.
"You got a bit quiet. I'm, uh, done here," she said, moving away so he could see the three large baskets behind her, full up to their brims with green zucchini. Sakura herself was holding another in her hand, and as he watched, she seemed to be…rubbing it?
Sasuke tried very hard to swallow past the lump in his throat.
"Sakura," he said, in a strangled sort of way. "What, are you doing?"
Thankfully, she seemed too preoccupied with the attention she was paying to the vegetable in her hand, to notice his voice.
"I'm rubbing off a stubborn spot, Sasuke-kun. All the others have been pristine, but this one is just—ah!"
Apparently, she'd been rubbing it too hard, since one crack later, the zucchini had split apart in her hands.
The noise had the second—unfortunate; even in his dazed state, Sasuke would never call one of Naruto's sudden appearances anything but—side-effect of bringing Naruto over to their corner of the vegetable field.
"What was that noise," he asked upon his arrival. "Sakura-chan, are you all right? You aren't hurt are you?"
Sakura shook her head.
"I'm fine, Naruto. You didn't have to come all the way over here. I was rubbing one of these zucchini clean," she said, ignoring his startled squeak. "And I just snapped it in half," she continued, raising the two pieces up to show him. "That's what the sound was."
She hefted one of the baskets into her hands, and smiled brightly at them.
"How about I go ahead," she offered. "You guys can finish up here, and I'll be back to get the baskets, OK?"
At their mumbled agreement, she turned, and made her way back to the barn where Hiro was waiting to take the goods.
As soon as he was sure she was out of earshot, Naruto turned to Sakura and smirked.
"Don't," Sasuke interrupted gruffly. "Just…don't."
Naruto looked offended.
"I didn't even say anything yet," he said defensively. Suddenly, he smiled, and reached down to untie the orange track jacket around his waist. Alarmed, Sasuke took a step back. Naruto did not notice, seemingly intent on untying his jacket. Once he'd undone the knot, he offered it to Sasuke, wordlessly.
"Here," Naruto said, almost gleefully.
Sasuke felt his lip curl in disgust.
"Why would I want that," he asked, making the last word sound like the vilest curse,
Naruto, however, was unperturbed. Indeed, he looked as though he'd been expecting—even hoping for—Sasuke's reaction.
"Well," he said, "if I had your problem, I'd take whatever I could get no questions asked."
Sasuke arched a brow in question.
"My problem with Sakura," he said, at once making the words a question and a statement.
Naruto shook his head, and rocked back and forth on his heels.
"Nope. The problem in your pants."
Sasuke took the track jacket without another word.
If Sakura wondered why Sasuke walked in with Naruto's jacket tied around his waist, she didn't ask. Another reason, Sasuke supposed, that I love—
Think so highly of her, he corrected himself, hastily. He suppressed a growl of frustration. If he couldn't even think it, how the hell was he supposed to say it?
And why the hell did he have to? She should have known, shouldn't she? He made it obvious enough.
Or well, fine. Maybe there were better ways to show Sakura his affec—regard, than by glaring at the men who dared approach her when he was within village limits, or by whispering death threats to potential rivals, or purposely allowing Naruto to get one good punch in during their training matches so there'd be a reason to see her at the hospital.
But Sasuke didn't know many of them, and the ones he did know were fraught with uncertain outcomes.
He'd noticed, after all, the way she'd carefully distanced herself from him since his return. She'd never been cold, of course. But the hero-worship, and the fangirling had given way to respect and friendship—two things he didn't know how to take, coming from her. There was no sign of her former affections, and though there were moments when he thought he saw her looking at him in that same way she had so long ago, she'd never approached him directly, had given him no indication that he was still her most precious person.
It was then that the object of his thoughts approached him, looking almost apprehensive.
"What," he said, a bit harsher than he'd meant to.
"You're squeezing those blueberries in your hand, Sasuke-kun. Just thought you'd want to know, is all."
She turned away from him then, and walked back to her own corner of the mess hall where she was rinsing the green beans.
Sasuke felt his shoulders drop imperceptibly, and when Naruto came in from talking to Hiro, he shook his head sharply, in the universal symbol of "don't even ask."
"OK. Seriously? You are so far past the Land of Ridiculous that you're probably in undiscovered territory. You are that sad."
"It isn't that easy, idiot. And I'm never going to be able to tell her, if you keep popping up."
"Well, sorry. Ass. If you weren't so slow about it, it wouldn't matter."
"Oh, just go away."
"OK, look—we're at the corn. Look, I am a desperate man. I am tired of your Emo. If you want, I will fake a heat stroke, and not bother you for the rest of the time that we're here. Just you promise me you'll tell her, already."
True to his word, Naruto had bowed out of the corn, choosing instead to help the other farmhands with feeding the cattle.
By now, the sky had turned into the dusky gray-purple of twilight, and Sasuke and Sakura were in the cornfields, with two buckets each at their feet—one to catch the refuse, and another to hold the corn. They worked, for the most part in silence, peeling the husk and silk with unpracticed, but nonetheless, efficient hands, only stopping every so often to check on each other's progress.
It was, Sakura decided, the sort of mindless work most conducive to thinking. Thankfully, the years had been kind enough to make it easier to do that—even with one Uchiha Sasuke looking as broodingly handsome as he always did, in such close quarters.
He truly was breath-taking to look at, Sakura thought wistfully, blushing at the memory of him half-shirtless in the sunlight. And even if he had been acting strangely lately—like earlier, she remembered, with the blueberries—she couldn't have been happier to have him back in Konoha, and, perhaps more importantly, on Team 7.
Where he belongs, she thought simply.
She looked at up at him, and was startled to see his eyes trained on her. A quick look into his basket showed that he hadn't touched an ear of corn in the past five minutes.
Why did this have to be so difficult?
Sasuke groaned inwardly as Sakura's green eyes watched him expectantly, clearly waiting for him to finish his sentence.
And he would. He'd tell her because if he didn't, he'd never hear the end of it, and Naruto would only become that much more insufferable. He'd tell her because if he didn't, he'd have to wear track jackets around his waist for the rest of his life. He'd tell her because if he didn't, he'd have to glare all the way through Sakura's perfect wedding to her perfect groom—who, by the by, wouldn't be him—and watch resentfully as she had green-eyed children that weren't perfect because they weren't half-his, and—
Maybe, just maybe, he wanted to tell her for himself, too—for Happiness's sake, if he could be allowed, for the first time in his life, to worry about it.
So he would tell her.
Sasuke took a deep breath to prepare for the metaphorical leap.
"I like the way you shuck corn."
Sakura looked at him, confused, but before she could ask for clarity, he went on.
"What I mean is," he said slowly, "it's very rhythmic. Your shucking."
She gave him an odd half-smile, before tucking a loose strand of hair away behind her ear.
"Thanks, Sasuke-kun. I, um, like your shucking, too. It's…very nice?"
"And," he went on, as though she hadn't spoken, "I would like to shuck corn with you, some time besides now. In Konoha," he finished, looking away. "Or we could do something else. I don't care, or whatever."
It took a few moments for the words to register in her head, and ignoring the fact that all the vendors in Konoha shucked the corn for their own patrons, Sakura took her own, tentative leap.
"Sasuke-kun," she said, almost breathlessly. "Are you asking me out?"
Slowly, a smile made its way across Sakura's face, and without warning, she dropped the ears of corn she was holding, and launched herself into Sasuke's arms.
Startled as he was by her sudden movement, Sasuke only had time to stop himself—and consequently, Sakura—from falling over completely.
The end result was an undignified sort of sprawl that had Sasuke holding himself up by his arms behind him, and Sakura spread boneless over him—a pink-haired blanket with bottle-green eyes.
She looked up at him, and regarded him almost solemnly.
"That," she said impishly, in direct contradiction to the look in her eyes, "was the most awkward date proposal I've ever gotten. I hope you're proud of yourself."
He huffed irritably, and tried to look everywhere but at her.
"You could be decent enough to give me an answer, you know."
She smiled softly, in the same way she had when they had only begun—at thirteen when they'd been all-but-strangers at the beginning of their story.
"Yes, Sasuke-kun. My answer is yes."
This came out a lot fluffier than I had imagined, and as usual for me, a lot longer.
Please, take a moment to tell me what you think! :)