Disclaimer: I don't own the Naruto characters
AN: Just a little SaiSaku oneshot set in a possible future after Sasuke's return to Konoha.
In the end, it would always come down to the basics. People got to know each other, they connected, then they got separated, they clung to that bond, strained it to the point of breaking… and then, they just expected it would return to the former status.
Alright, maybe it wasn't always that way. But at least where Sasuke Uchiha was concerned, this seemed to be the only way. Especially, if the connections concerned where those with his former team.
In Naruto's case, things were crystal clear. Obviously, he couldn't let go of his first love – which was very convenient, after all at least in this relationship he wouldn't need a penis. Sai still didn't understand his team mates' reactions when he had stated those absolutely clear facts. Naruto nearly choked on his ramen and started coughing crazily, Uchiha's right eye started twitching and his hand involuntarily wandered to his sword, and the hag had screamed and afterwards punched Sai in the face, and afterwards she hissed at him telling him to stop talking rubbish. Later, she had talked to him in private and explained that Naruto and Uchiha were friends – sibling-like friends, but definitely not lovers or otherwise sexually involved. Sai had begged to differ, which only resulted in her fist ending up in his face again.
Further investigation had led him to Ino, who cleared up his so-called misunderstanding by telling him the official version. Supposedly, it was the hag rather than Naruto who had tried to get Uchiha back out of disappointed and immortal love, while Naruto had been after her for the same reason. Sai found that amazing, after all in this relationship, too, Naruto would obviously be the girl…
The only question was if the hag was romantically interested in Naruto or Uchiha – both possibilities would explain why she reacted so violently when confronted with the obvious connection between those two… Then again, she was violent on a daily base, so an explanation wasn't exactly necessary.
To clear this question, he had asked Ino for clarification. She had laughed and only said, if the hag was still in love with Uchiha – after all those years and after all the things he had put her through – she really had to be damn stupid. Fortunately, Sai had understood the relationship between the girls well enough to translate the sentence: obviously, the hag was still completely and irrevocably in love with Uchiha.
What a pity. She had such an enormous potential.
So, Sai had started to make a plan to get his team's confusing relations in order – no matter how often Uchiha would protest to being a part of the new team. Sai would confront Naruto with his feelings for the hag and talk him out of having them, then he would make Uchiha fall in love with the hag… well, that part obviously needed some fleshing out, but it would work. Maybe he should look into love potions…
Anyway, he had to be optimistic and believe in his brilliant plan. It was hopeless enough without him doubting it himself. So Sai summoned all the fake enthusiasm he could bring up and left his room to look for Naruto.
Just as expected, Naruto was at Ichiraku's, three empty bowls in front of him and one still filled with Ramen.
"There you are!" Sai said and smiled at Naruto.
„What do you want, Sai?" Naruto asked with a healthy suspicion.
"I have to know whether you love Uchiha or the hag." Sai explained.
"What?" Just why exactly did Naruto always have to overreact? Sai was pretty sure that Ichiraku-san wasn't too happy about having to wipe Naruto's soup off the counter…
Sai gave a dramatic sigh. "You love the hag?"
"Don't call Sakura-chan a hag!" Naruto protested. "And what do you care?"
Sai frowned, although his smile never faltered. "Was that a yes?" he asked watching Naruto. "Are you all right? Your face has become so red."
"I… I… you… what is this about, anyway?" Naruto shouted.
„So that's a yes." Sai remarked.
"That's not what I –"
"And you do not love Uchiha." Sai asked again.
"What? No, I –"
"Did you grow a penis by now?"
Sai's smile grew. "I only wanted to see if you were still listening."
Now, Naruto stared at him in disbelief, his mouth open. Sai decided to use the opportunity to finally explain his plan.
"I want to help the hag. After all, it's not a secret that she is in love with Uchiha. So, I decided to assist her to throw her self-confidence and independence out of the window and become Hag Uchiha."
Actually, it was entertaining to watch Naruto's eyes seemingly getting bigger with every word – shouldn't they fall out or something by now?
"Wa-wait a second, what are you saying? Sakura-chan still loves him?" Naruto asked unbelieving.
"Ino told me." Sai explained. „Trust me, women always talk about this kind of stuff – usually while brushing their hair, massage their naked backs and afterwards-"
"You read the perverted sage's books, didn't you?" Naruto asked.
Sai nodded. "I tried to understand romantic relationships and Kakashi provided me with his collection."
"Did it work out so far?" Naruto inquired.
Sai hesitated. "So far, my attempts only ended in getting beaten up or yelled at… but I'm confident."
Naruto sighed. "I thought as much… damn."
"Don't feel sad." Sai replied. "You never had a chance to begin with, most girls prefer a partner who has a-"
"Stop it, will you?" Naruto interrupted – quite rude, in Sai's opinion, but he didn't argue and instead elegantly changed the subject.
"Anyway, we should help the hag, shouldn't we?"
"Stop calling Sakura-chan a hag!" Naruto yelled again.
"Don't you want her to be happy, no matter how much of her potential she's wasting by doing so?" Sai asked.
"Of course I want Sakura-chan to be happy-" Naruto began.
"Great, so you can help me?"
Sai sighed. Sometimes, Naruto was just too slow. "Just don't do anything. And don't worry about the hag ending up as a desperate housewife in Uchiha Manor, after all she'd be happy then, also you'd never had a chance anyway, seeing how you don't have-"
"What the hell is your problem?" Naruto yelled.
Sai thought this was a good point to leave. After all, part one of his plan was a complete success!
Unfortunately, the hard phase was only about to begin. How exactly was he supposed to make Uchiha fall in love with the hag? Maybe he should have recruited Naruto to help him – after all, he himself wasn't even on friendly terms with the traitor… team member. Uchiha was a member of his team and not a traitor. …okay, he had betrayed Konoha, and…
Whatever. Also, if he had sent Naruto, the idiot only would have been confused about his own feelings and probably he would have destroyed everything. In the end, Uchiha would have fallen in love with him, which was definitely something Sai had to prevent – what was the point, if the hag was alone at the end? No, he couldn't let that happen under any circumstances, after all the whole plan was about her happiness!
…to solve his team's confusing relations, exactly… that was it… so…
How could you make someone fall in love with a girl? Even harder, with the hag? There had to be some way… Or at least someone who might know… Sai thought about all the girls he knew. Some of them must have managed to make someone fall in love with them.
The hag. …bad example.
Ino? Still trying to impress that Nara-boy.
Hyuuga-girl? What was her name… Hinata? No, she was still too busy running after Naruto und hiding, whenever he only looked into her general direction.
Tenten? Happy single.
That Suna girl? Same thing, just as that kunouichi that helped them look for Kabuto, Mitarashi-san…
Well, there was Team 8's teacher, Kurenai-sensei, who had actually made it in the romance department. But even Sai was sensible enough not to ask the young widow.
What about that other Kunouichi, the one Uchiha had brought along? Ah, right, lusting after Uchiha herself.
Wasn't there anyone in Konoha who could help him? Or was he maybe not approaching this the right way? Maybe he should start to ask the guys who were in love and try to figure out, how their girl managed to make them fall in love?
…probably he shouldn't ask Naruto, or he'd fall for the hag again.
Time for step two!
"How did you fall in love with Ino-san?"
"What?" Nara stared at him in disbelief.
"Well, obviously you're in love with her. I want to know why." Sai repeated his question.
"What? I'm not…" Nara started his denial.
"Look, I don't have time for this. I'm not gonna tell her, I just have to know how she made you fall in love with her." Sai explained quickly.
Nara still hesitated, which actually was quite disappointing. Sai really had hoped he wouldn't have to use such low tactics, but the world left him no other options.
"Well, if you don't answer my questions, I will tell her." he threatened, all the while showing the most gentle smile in the world.
Nara started cursing, but Sai only got the word "troublesome".
"So, why?" he insisted.
Nara sighed. "I'm… I'm not sure…"
"That doesn't help." Sai stated.
"She's so damn troublesome." Nara muttered.
"…you fell in love with her because she's troublesome?" Sai asked confused.
"No, she…" Nara sighed again.
"Is it about looks?" Sai asked. "Do you think she's attractive?"
With interest, he watched Nara blush. "Well, she's… I…"
"Was that a yes? That's interesting… that means the hag actually has a chance." Sai commented. "Anything else but attractive and troublesome?"
"That's not it!" Nara protested. "She's…" He hesitated and Sai waited patiently. Nara sighed a third time. "You just can't get rid of her…"
"I always thought that was a negative attribute." Sai said.
"I just can't stop thinking about her." Nara confessed. "She's troublesome, and loud, and sometimes I want to throw her out of the window… but… she's Ino. She's dominant, she just has to have everything her way, she's… she's driving me insane!"
Well… okay, thanks for your help." Sai said and was gone as fast as he had appeared.
Apparently Ino and the hag had more in common than he had thought. Hag was about as ugly as Ino was, she was definitely more troublesome, louder, and she was also driving him insane!
…Uchiha. She was driving Uchiha insane too, right?
About this, Sai actually had to think. Sakura was acting so different around Uchiha… She might drive Sai insane, yes, but around Uchiha she was nearly tame, or maybe she just didn't dare to be so aggressive with him as she was with Sai or even Naruto. Boring. Sakura was way more entertaining when she was screaming or communicating with her fist! So, did that point even count regarding Uchiha? This definitely called for further investigation.
He turned around and looked up, just to find Sai standing in front of him.
"Hey. What is it?" he asked.
"Oh, it's nothing. I just wanted to talk to you." Sai explained. "It's about Hinata-san."
"What about her?"
"Oh, she's fine." Sai said. "I only wanted to know what's so special about her."
Sai sighed. Why did every single person in Konoha have to be so dense? "What is so special about Hinata-san that you fell in love with her."
"What? How…" Inuzuka started.
"I won't tell her." Sai replied. "Let's keep this short, what do you like about her?"
Inuzuka blushed. "I… she…"
"Look, I won't tell her if you hurry with your answer. It's important, and it's for a good cause, okay?" Sai said quickly.
Inuzuka glared at him, but still, he talked. "She's so… She needs someone to protect her…"
"So you just feel protective of her?" Sai asked.
"That too. But there's more to it. She… She used to be so weak. So completely helpless. Can you imagine what it feels like to see someone that weak – and then watch her become stronger, and braver with every day? And even if I'm not the one she became strong for… well, at least I'm the one who helped her to become strong. And I'm proud when I see her. Or when I see that despite everything she always stayed so gentle and caring. She's… she's incredible."
Sai frowned. He only had held contact with the ninjas his age for a short time. He never had seen how weak the girls must have been before. From the first time he had seen Sakura, she had already been strong, but even now she had tried to become stronger… for Uchiha, of course.
The bitterness of this thought genuinely surprised Sai.
But this point wasn't very helpful either. From what he was told, Uchiha had always thought Sakura's old weakness to be extremely annoying, and he never commented her new strength.
Again, Sai sighed. Who else could he ask? Maybe he should really ask Naruto to understand what was so amazing about Sakura…
Then he realized that there was another person he could ask about exactly this. A grin appeared on his face. No way he'd give up now.
"Hello, Eybr… er… Lee."
"Sai! It's great to see you – how are you?"
It was refreshing. Lee was probably the first person he had talked to today that didn't immediately get suspicious.
"I just wanted to ask you something. Can you tell me why you fell in love with the ha… with Sakura-san?" Sai asked.
Lee stared at him in surprise for a second, then he actually beamed.
"Sakura-san is incredible! She is strong and beautiful – she's everything the spirit of youth is! She never gives up, and she's do everything for people she cares about. She's so pure, and…"
Sai started to ignore the rest of Lee's blabbering. Of course, Sakura had all these good sides, but none of them seemed to have impressed Uchiha so far. Also, Lee ignored her temper tantrums, her anger management issues, her never ending mood swings, her inability to handle criticism, her tendency for violence… Basically, every single thing that made Sakura interesting. What was so great about that soft angel he saw in her? What should anyone see in gentleness and an allegedly pretty face? Where was the challenge? And… what should Uchiha see in her? Did he only see that boring, nice girl she played in his presence? Well, of course he never showed interest in her! What was so special about Sakura without all those annoying little details that could drive people insane, that challenged him again and again, always kept him on edge… what was Sakura without every single quirk that madder her so unique – so… Sakura!
And why the hell had it taken him this long to see the answer?
"Also, I think I'll never forget how Sakura-san… Sai? Where did you go? Sai?"
Five minutes later, Sai was standing in Sakura's room. "I have to talk to you." he said completely serious. He didn't even have his usual smile on his lips.
Of course, that only made it more disappointing that Sakura threw a book at him. "Stay outside, you pervert!" she shouted.
With a sigh, he left the room and waited under the window. After five minutes he was sure he had waited long enough and jumped back into the room. "Are you dressed now?" he asked.
"How dare you?" Sakura hissed. The towel that had covered her body before was now on her bed and she was wearing her old red shirt and a black skirt. The blush still hadn't left her face completely and her anger made her eyes flash.
"Calm down, after all I could have walked into the bathroom."
Sakura's risen fist told Sai that maybe this wasn't exactly the most diplomatic answer available.
"I'll knock before coming in next time?" he tried.
"You better." Sakura replied. "What do you want?"
"I have to talk to you." Sai said again, just as serious as before. "I've been thinking, and I've come to the conclusion that you shouldn't waste yourself on Uchiha."
The anger abruptly left her face and was replaced by surprise. "What? What are you talking about?"
"It's simple." Sai explained. "You have a lot of quirks and attributes that could make people fall in love with you. You're insufferable, troublesome, determined, stubborn, always try to become stronger, care about people, and you're not too stupid for that matter. But around Uchiha, you're simply boring! You're not loud, you're not annoying, you're just silent, tame and submissive. For some things Uchiha says, you'd throw me or Naruto from a bridge. But not him. You're not yourself around Uchiha. You drop everything that makes you special, just for Uchiha. And even if you don't think of him as a traitor – he's just not worth it. That's why you should forget your feelings for Uchiha. Even if he should love you, it would be a waste. You're way too good for him!"
Sakura stared at him. "Sai… what the hell?"
"I want to stop you from doing a horrible mistake." Sai said with determination.
He had expected protests, maybe a punch, definitely anger.
Now it was Sai's turn to be surprised. "What… Sakura?" he asked.
Again he saw the flash in her eyes, but this time it was amusement. "I wasn't going to make a mistake. And I know that Sasuke-kun doesn't love me – we are friends, and that probably won't ever change. Whatever makes you think I was still in love with him?"
"Ino knows I'm over him. After all, I really had to be extremely stupid to still chase him." Sakura said.
"That's exactly what she said." Sai agreed smiling.
Her smile disappeared, however, and her right eye started to twitch. "And of course you immediately thought I still love him?"
Sai nodded – and took a step backwards, just in case she would become violent again.
But she only sighed and put her palm against her forehead. "You're insufferable." she said.
His smile became smaller, but more honest. That was just the reason why Sakura was interesting – he could never tell how she would react…
"So, hag…" he started. "In case you really aren't interested in Uchiha anymore…"
"How often do you need to hear it?" Sakura asked with slight annoyance in her voice.
Sai hesitated. True, the advice was from one of Jiraiya's books but it was from the only one without a warning label…
"Do you have plans for tonight?"
Sakura's eyes widened and the smallest hint of a blush appeared on her face. "What?"
"Tonight." Sai repeated. "May I invite you for dinner?"
"Like… a date?" Sakura asked uncertain.
Sai nodded. Right now, he was really grateful for his Root training – otherwise, he never would have managed to keep his face calm. Sakura looked at him sceptically. Now he had to be strong, unyielding, no blinking…
A playful smile appeared on her face. "Well… I guess I could give you a chance." she finally decided. "As long as you behave yourself."
Sai laughed. "No. I will be me and drive you insane, and you will be you and drive me insane. If we're lucky, we'll reach the same level of insanity and it will work."
Sakura stared at him in disbelief, then she sighed and shook her head. "You're unbelievable." she said.
Sai nodded. "We make a good pair. I see you at seven?"
Sakura rolled her eyes, but she couldn't quite hide her smile. "As if I hadn't known you before… Of course you will!"