I met him at the bookstore.
There I was, sipping on what little was left of my white mocha, wincing at the telltale signs of a burn on my tongue. I reached for what appeared to be the last copy of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies when someone's tanned fingers grazed my knuckles. On instinct, I threw my hand back. In the process, I dropped the empty cup which was in my other hand (no, I don't know how, thank you), but whatever.
I freaked out – so what? I am not used to strange men grazing my hand.
That's just awkward.
"Oh, sorry," He Who Touched My Hand said, sounding genuinely apologetic.
I looked to my right and openly stared. He was a boy, obviously. I think I could've been able to tell if I had looked at his hand long enough before creeping away; I've always been uncomfortable with people (much less strangers) accidentally touching me. He had a cute smile and dimples to join it. When the left corner of his lip lifted and on the other side, he bit his lip, he looked like a little boy who got caught by his mother trying to sneak a cookie before dinner. He scratched the side of his head – blond – and laughed awkwardly.
"That was probably creepy," he said, laughing a little. "Someone touching your hand like that?"
Rather than replying, I blinked. I wasn't sure what to say, really. 'Yes,' came to mind, but that would've been weird. And rude.
"Sorry," he repeated. His blue eyes drifted to the empty cup on the ground. "Aw shit, you dropped your coffee. Okay, I'm an asshole." He chuckled some more and his smile only got prettier. "Can I buy you a new one?"
"Uh…" Realizing how stupid I sounded, I cleared my throat and shook myself out of my stupid stupor. "Sure. Yes. Thanks."
He then took Pride and Prejudice and Zombies off the shelf and held it out to me. "I believe this is yours."
I took it (give me a break! I'm suffering through a zombie phase – they're just so awesome). "Not yet. I still have to pay for it."
He nodded and stuck a hand out with an almost shy grin. "I'm Naruto."
And that's how it began.
part one: sakura
Naruto wasn't my type. I knew this the moment he looked at me.
I'm not stupid. I know that I'm pretty – I'm not drop dead gorgeous in the way Ino or my sister are, nor do I have that cutesy vibe that Hinata gives off, but I am on my own level of pretty. I don't mean to sound arrogant, but I think most people are generally aware of their level of attractiveness. I say I'm about a seven (not arrogant at all, see?). Honestly, I think it's the hair, but I've gotten plenty of compliments on my eyes.
The moment Naruto looked at me post creepy hand grazing, I could tell he was somewhat interested, and his invite for coffee only confirmed it.
But like I said – he's not my type. He's not the sort of guy I'd normally go for.
I had my first boyfriend when in senior year: Gaara Sabaku (who conveniently also attends Konoha University). I didn't see him that much but we're civil with one another, thankfully.
My second boyfriend I dated my first year of university. He's really just a bad memory for me that I truly hate discussing because I kind of sort of turned him to the dark side. Or in other words, I turned him gay. We're still friends though, as monumental as that may be given that I should hate him for the epic bruise he left on my ego.
The point is that I've always gone for the Strong and Silent type. While I like funny guys, I've never had a serious relationship with one. I've been asked on dates by a few but never accepted.
(Read: Rock Lee, freshman orientation.)
"So… he made you laugh?"
I glare at Ino and flick a raisin at her. I don't really like raisins in my oatmeal muffins. I'm okay with them in my apple muffins, but I prefer oatmeal ones either alone or with chocolate chips. Raisins in this muffin only ruin it, quite frankly.
"But you're Sakura Fivehead Haruno." That bitch. "You're a masochist or something." She looks so confident while saying that – almost as though she was right, which she isn't. "You don't date guys that make you laugh… That's not natural."
Hinata shakes her head with a sigh. She's the good friend, unlike that stupid blond who thinks we're practically sisters. "Ino, leave Sakura alone. You're blowing things out of proportion. Again."
Ino snorts. "No way!" she crows. "Sakura has made this epic change from her usual preferences! We have to blow things out of proportion."
Ah. The main reason I've always hated coming by Ino and Hinata's dorm. Ino blows everything out of proportion. Seriously. She over-exaggerates everything. She believes every teacher hates her if she doesn't do well on an assignment, assumes people are 'watching' her way too often and always, always thinks if a guy looks her way, they are hitting on her.
I'm not kidding.
Example Number One
We were sixteen and taking the bus over to Hinata's, which would require us to take a second bus when we got off by the mall. I got on first, kindly asked for a transfer and sat down as Ino whined that I was 'ditching' her. Really, she was stupid and didn't prepare her change before, when we were still waiting.
"Would you like a transfer?" the old man asked, smiling kindly.
Ino blanched at him (but nevertheless nabbed the transfer). "Hi, uh, minor here, buddy," she hissed, looking at him as though he were the scum of the earth.
With her final words said, Ino sat down, but not before receiving incredulous stares from everyone on the bus.
When she tried talking to me, I pretended I didn't know her.
Example Number Two
Then there was that time last year when Ino came over to mine and Karin's apartment. Karin's boy toy of the moment was coming out of the shower and walking into the kitchen to get a drink. Ino and I were conveniently chowing down some cereal at the time.
"Yo," he greeted, nodding at us.
When he walked away, Ino stared at me, looking a little nervous. "Oh, Sakura, I hope Karin won't get mad…"
I was baffled. "For ogling her boyfriend? Nah, I do it all the time. Especially when she's with Itachi. Now that is some serious hotness—"
"That guy was totally hitting on me!" Ino cried, as if I hadn't said anything.
"Ino… he said 'yo'," I told her in disbelief. "He was not hitting on you."
Ino sighed. "Trust me, Sakura. I know when guys are hitting on me."
Example Number Three
"Oh, my god, Sakura!" Ino wailed, dropping down across from me in the library. A good number of people working sent scathing looks our way and I conveniently slipped a little lower into my seat to avoid their glares. Ino slammed down her books and picked a paper off from on top of them. She waved it around, likely trying to make me see something on it but that was quite difficult given how much she was moving it. "LOOK AT THIS!"
Someone tried to make her shut up but Ino flicked a nut from my muffin at them.
"Sakura, ugh, my history professor so totally hates me!" Ino cried out, dropping the paper and pointing to the bold, red 71. She slapped her hands on her face. "Sakura, look at that!"
I raised an eyebrow at the moron. "Isn't that he essay you were supposed to work on that night you decided it'd be fun to try a mango margarita from every place possible?"
The point is that Ino is a raging Drama Queen.
"I think Sakura really likes this guy," Hinata says, nodding. She smiles at me and gives me a pat on the shoulder. "Good for you, Sakura, for deviating a little bit."
"Thank you!" I tell her. If Ino and Hinata were those cartoon angels and demons on your shoulder, I'm sure you can tell which one would be the devil. "This is why I like you better!"
Ino rolls her eyes. "Oh, shut up." She sighs and pulls a chocolate bar out of no where. "Okay, so fine, you may actually like him. What's his name again?"
"I do not 'really like him'," I clarify with a frown. "I mean, he seemed pretty cool and I'd like to get to know him, I guess, but I don't 'really like him'!" Ino prepares herself roll her eyes again (tch, Ino is just so rude), so I cut to the chase, forgetting to give them his name. "Look, the reason I brought this up was because he asked me to have dinner with him to," cue finger quotations, "get to know me better."
"That's so nice," coos Hinata.
I nod. "It is. I said I'd bring one of you so he said his best friend so we could double." I grin and do a clap. "So…"
And finally, we get to the point.
Hinata seems to consider my offer. "Hm, well when is it?"
"Oh." It's not a good oh. "I can't, Sakura," Hinata says, frowning. "I'm sorry… I have a paper due tomorrow and…"
"I understand." I smirk haughtily. "You're no Ino."
"What's that supposed to mean?!" Ino shouts. A pillow comes my way but I dodge it with my ninja skills. "Sakura, are you trying to say something rude and debasing toward my reputation because if that is the case, I will conveniently decide that tonight is the night I ban all of my past procrastinator habits—"
"Not at all," I smoothly interrupt, flashing my million dollar smile. "I love you, Ino. You and your failure habits make my life."
Ino smirks haughtily and flips her hair over her shoulder. "Yeah, I thought so." Then she hops off her bed and runs to her closet, opening it and flailing a little. "Oh, I haven't actually gone on a date-date for so long! This is going to be awesome, Sakura. What should I wear? Where are we going? When—"
"Calm down, Ino," Hinata chides with a laugh. "I'm sure Sakura will explain everything if you let her speak."
"But…" The dumb blond pouts, likely thinking she's cute, and sneers at me (obviously jokingly), "she's a loser!"
"We're going to Papa Kaka's tonight," I say as I flop back on Ino's bed. I really like Ino's bed. She doesn't have the crappy sheets like most people. She brought hers from home and they're silky feeling and just plain awesome. "Try not to dress like a whore. I know you can't help it, but please refrain—ow!" I cringe and swat the shoe off my head. Since when did Ino of all people have decent aim? God! "You suck."
"Papa Kaka's?" Ino repeats, raising an eyebrow. "Seriously?"
I shrug because that place is awesome – I don't know what Ino's problem is! "I like their spinach cheese dip, okay?"
"Ha!" Ino snorts. "More so you're being cheap and want your discount."
Ino cries out when I throw the shoe back at her. "Woman, you're getting free food. What's wrong with you?"
"Well—" Ino seems ready to complain but manages not to do so. Wow. Miracles do happen. "Actually, I just bought this totally cute dress last weekend and I've been looking for an opportunity to wear it. Okay, I'm now cool with this date."
"Lovely," I mutter wryly.
Hinata gives me a curious stare. "You don't seem happy about the date, Sakura…"
"No, no, I am!" I shake my head and seem like I'm trying too hard to convince otherwise. "I am happy. I just…" I shrug. "I feel like something is going to go wrong tonight."
Ino giggles and when I look at her, she's already changed into a blue dress. "Like your date chooses me over you?"
"No, Ino, you complete loser." She continues with her moronic laughter and I roll my eyes. "Look, just be at Papa Kaka's by six, okay?"
She nods. "Yeah, yeah. Gosh, Fivehead, stop worrying so much! Everything will be fine."
Tch. It better be.
I am one of the sad, sad people who worked at Papa Kaka's.
I got the job in my first year of university because I was up for anything to make some money (except drug dealing, stripping and all that jazz, obviously). My parents, a lawyer and surgeon, told me when I was applying for schools in my senior year that if I wanted to go, I was paying for it myself – I was an adult now. Unfortunately for me, I couldn't get money from those student assistance programs, thus I got a job.
Don't get me wrong. I'm giving Papa Kaka's a bad introduction, but it isn't that terrible of a job. The uniform is flexible – wear black and look presentable – and the tips are always great. My boss, the owner of this place, Kakashi Hatake, is very cool – totally laidback. He could care less if you come in a bit late and he allows you one free meal per shift, drink included!
It's mostly a matter of what we called the 'Kaka Crew' (yes, even with all the customers we get, we have time to think of something that stupid and no, it wasn't me who came up with the stupid, stupid name).
Every Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday evening (and on the random afternoons or Saturday mornings), I worked alongside people like Shikamaru Nara and Kiba Inuzuka – Konoha University's resident sluts.
(No. Seriously. Kiba's track list can beat Ino's any day of the week.
…not Karin's though.
I like the two. They make work fun and are always enthusiastic with customers (okay maybe not Shikamaru) but still. They're great and loveable and awesome but only for so long.
"Ew, what are you doing here?" Shikamaru whines.
"Shut up, jerk." I twirl in my bar stool and flick a random crumb at Shikamaru, who's the bartender here (note: I'm a hostess and Kiba's a waiter). "I'm waiting. I have a date."
He raises an eyebrow disbelievingly and even stops pretending to work. "Really now?"
It's then that Kiba decides to stop doing his job and take a self-declared break. It's still around 5:30 P.M. and it's randomly Tuesday so we're not as full as we'd be usually. He plops down in the chair next to me and slaps the table. "Wait! What's the gossip?"
I roll my eyes and ignore him. "There is no gossip, Kiba."
Kiba's one of the before mentioned funny guys who tried asking me out but failed. That was a while ago but thankfully there's no awkwardness between us. Now he just likes to make fun of me all the freaking time for my lacking love life and how I apparently 'missed out' by turning him down. Yeah, right.
"Sakura apparently has a date," Shikamaru says bluntly, smiling ever so slightly.
"Shikamaru!" I shriek, glaring. "I hate you!" Taking a few notes from Ino, the drama queen of the century, I cross my arms on the counter and bury my face in them. "I'm telling Shiho you have crabs," I threaten, though it comes out rather muffled.
"Ew! That's nasty."
We ignore Kiba. "Whatever." Shikamaru probably just shrugged. "We broke up, anyway. I dumped her last Saturday."
I ready myself to call Shikamaru every word synonymous with 'complete freaking jerk' but am interrupted by the smoothest, most sexy voice.
"Ah, Shikamaru, ever the whore."
Okay fine, maybe the word choice and doesn't match the utter gorgeousness of the voice but still – it's hot. I lift my head and smooth my bangs away whilst praying I didn't get any marks on my face from pressing it against my crossed arms. Looking to my left where the person stood, I see—
"Damn," I can't help but murmur.
Thankfully, it is the most quiet thing I have ever said in my entire life and Kiba is still going on about Shikamaru's apparent crabs because if he heard me, that'd be embarrassing because oh, my fucking gosh, this guy is gorgeous. I think it's his hair. I like his hair. It sort of defies gravity. Or his eyes. Those are hot. Intense. Damn. Or, maybe, most likely, it is the tease provided by the top two buttons of his dark shirt which are conveniently undone.
That's definitely it.
"Sasuke," Shikamaru says, nodding his head in that typical guy-saying-hello sort of way.
The hot guy, Sasuke, sits down on the stool one seat away from mine. "Yo."
"What are you doing here?" Kiba asks, sounding confused. Or well, more confused than Kiba usually sounds.
Sasuke groans and if I put it out of context, my mind wanders onto naughty territory. "Tch, the idiot dragged me onto another one of his little missions." Then he frowns at Slut and Sluttier. "Aren't you guys supposed to be working?"
I snort. I can't help it. "That's what I've been wondering."
Then he looks at me.
"Er…" Before I can stop myself, I blush and feel a freak out coming my way. "Sorry. I'm Sakura. I work here as well with these idiots. Well no, not tonight. I'm not working tonight. Tonight I'm just here because I'm supposed to—"
He smirks, cruelly taking pleasure from how bloody flustered I am. "Sasuke," he says simply, interrupting my rambling.
"Hi." After getting over the initial oh-my-freaking-gosh-he-just-told-me-his-name thing, I managed to speak. Sure, all I did was utter a greeting, but really, what else can I say? I look stupid as it is; I doubt there's any going back.
His smirk seems to grow wider.
Damn. I totally somehow found a way to look even more stupid.
So we talked.
Not for as long as I would have liked but we talked and I couldn't help but being flirty and scooting over into the chair beside his.
It started off slightly awkward but when we established that we both went to the same school, we managed to branch out a little bit. Apparently he was in my anthropology lecture but I never noticed given that there are hundreds of us in there. He works at the videogame store at the mall, likes tomatoes and anything that has them in or on it, lives off campus and usually commutes but often stays at his friend's place.
He looked cold and didn't have the kindest intonation but I knew it the moment I moved onto the chair that was between us earlier.
Sasuke is my type.
Sasuke is most definitely my type.
I snap back to reality and out of our conversation, however, by the sound of my phone ringing.
"Excuse me," I say, smiling like a moron. He nods and I accept the call. "Yep?"
"I can't find you! Fivehead, I swear, if you're standing me up, I will totally—"
Drama Queen. See?
"I'm at the bar," I tell her quietly and then hang up. I put my phone on silent and shove it in my purse then look back at Sasuke, ready to flirt it up some more. So fine. Maybe I'm an ass. I'm here for a date and while waiting for him, I'm coming onto a stranger, but—
I turn around to give the dirtiest look to the asshole that's interrupting us but stop short.
I don't bother to wonder how he didn't notice me from behind (come on I have pink hair) and instead observe Naruto.
I smile at him to be nice and let my eyes wander. He looks pretty adorable and I'd say he looked good if his shirt wasn't orange. His slacks actually look clean, as does the rest of him, save for the little stain (twenty bucks says it's from today's lunch) on his collar. In his left hand, however, are flowers.
Astonished, I blink.
Are those for me?
"H—here!" he shouts – actually shouts – most likely out of nervousness. It's easy to see how red his cheeks are right now. "I got you roses."
And so he did. "Thank you, Naruto." I get off my chair and receive the roses, and against my better judgement, wonder what kind of flowers Sasuke would get me. Or would he even get me flowers? Probably not. Totally not. My type would never get me flowers unless they did something terribly, terribly heinous like smash my laptop. My type doesn't do romantic gestures.
To be nice, I make a show of smelling them.
"You're early," Naruto states, staring at Sasuke. "That's a change." Sasuke merely shrugs and doesn't say a thing. Naruto sighs and looks back at me, slinging an arm over Sasuke's shoulder, almost making him fall off his seat. "Well, Sakura, this is my best buddy in the whole wide world—"
"That's what you think."
All I can do is blink, once again completely flabbergasted. There I was totally flirting it up a guy I was ready to slowly turn Naruto down for only to find he was my date's best friend. I laugh nervously and scratch my head, praying Ino would make an overly dramatic entrance and steal everyone's attention.
Instead, she calls me again.
When I pick up, I wince.
"Oh, my god, Sakura, please tell me that that hottie in the black shirt is my date because if so, you are officially the best friend a girl can have."
I cover the phone with my hand and smile. "Excuse me for a minute?" They nod and I walk a few steps away. "Ino," I mutter into the phone when I'm a good enough distance from them. "Ino, you loser, your date is cancelled."
"What?!" Ino shrieks. "What do you mean it's cancelled? Who's that super, unbelievably sexy man standing with the blond that gave you flowers then?"
"My future husband," I reply bluntly. "You can't have him. I call dibs."
"…WHAT DO YOU MEAN YOU CALL DIBS?!"
Typical Ino. She never can just accept things.
"Ino, please," I hiss, glancing back at them to see the two, unsurprisingly, just being idiots. "I'm serious here."
For once in her life, Ino manages to stay quiet. But of course, this silence must be broken. "Seriously? You're gonna ditch your date for a stranger?" She snorts, sounding a little bit disappointed in me and my character, but I know she doesn't care that much. "Way to pull a page out of my book. Okay, whatever, Fivehead. I've seen hotter."
"Thanks," I tell her, grinning at the entrance to this section of the restaurant where Ino most likely is (I can't confirm though given I can't see her… where is she?). "You rock."
When we hang up, I slowly walk back to Naruto and Sasuke who seem to be in the middle of a playful yet heated argument. Typical boys.
"Was that your friend?" Naruto asks, completely ignoring Sasuke in favour of me. To my surprise, he seems genuinely concerned. "Nothing's wrong, right?"
I shake my head. "Uh, Ino – my friend – can't make it."
"How come?" Sasuke questions. Suspiciously.
I gulp and laugh awkwardly. "Oh, uh, well she… uh… pimple."
Sasuke raises an eyebrow, still suspicious. "A pimple?"
I nod eagerly. "Yes. Ino is very, very self conscious like that and won't leave her dorm if she has a pimple." And that is so not a lie!
"You don't mind, do you, Sakura?" Naruto actually thinks I'm going to ditch Sas—them. Them. Oh, god, I am horrible.
"Of course not," I reply, smiling brightly. "Let's just have dinner."
Naruto laughs. "You don't have to ask me twice!"
Then something happened that I was not expecting.
His best friend, all night, had my attention.
Ever heard the song Switch by Jazmine Sullivan? :D