This fic is the first in a series on 4 disconnected oneshots featuring the theme 'The wooing of-' The entire series is pretty much my contribution to Valentines Day, as well as a Valentines Day gift to my friend and faithful reviewer Mari Santoro (or just Mari), who has reviewed every work of mine – even the ones she didn't like. Thank you so much Mari, you don't know how much I appreciate that! You make writing fun, and even though I don't always answer on time I've enjoyed our PM conversations as well.

Happy Valentines Day Mari, I hope you get lots of chocolate!

Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto

(WARNING! I WILL USE THE WORD WOO A LOT! Its such a funny word isn't it? Woo, woo, woo… hahaha)

-

-

Two years, five months, ten days, six hours, fifty three minutes, and two ½ seconds ago Sasuke Uchiha appeared at the entrance of Konoha. None were more surprised than his faithful friends and teammates the lively Naruto Uzumaki, and the lovely Sakura Haruno.

Naruto, true to his dramatic form, had gasped and stared as his cerulean eyes filled with tears. "Sasuke…" he choked "Is it really you?"

The blonde took a stumbling step forward, unable to believe his eyes. "Sasu-"

He was cut off by a pink blur. "YOU BASTARD!"

Thus, a chakra laden fist to the jaw ruined Sasuke's tear-filled entrance.

He had to admit, he deserved it.

Still, he had expected Sakura to cry and Naruto to punch him, or both of them to cry. Rubbing his sore jaw, he allowed himself to be toted to the Hokage's office. People lining the streets stopped to point and stare. He ignored them and hoped that the merciful Hokage would heal his broken jaw.

The anbu explained the situation as best as they could. To Sasuke's surprise the Hokage merely laughed, ordered another bottle of sake, and scheduled a meeting for later that evening. "We'll decide your fate then." She said, her amber eyes sharp.

Whatever.

The council had himmed and hawed for an hour. His jaw was throbbing but thankfully healed. He listened stoically as they threw verbal daggers at him. 'Traitor' 'Disgusting' and other such adjectives accompanied their animadversions of his character.

He had to admit he deserved that too.

His sentence was harsh, as he expected. The council had originally suggested hauling his pasty white ass in jail, but after much bargaining on the Hokage's side they decided to put him under 'village arrest.'

"Absolutely under no means must you leave this village!" Tsunade thundered.

The sentence was for three years. He scowled.

"Would you like to spend those three years in prison?"

Fine, three years.

"Furthermore for the first year you will be wearing this chakra suppression bracelet. It pretty much drains you of chakra. You will have enough to live your day-to-day whatever, but you cannot activate any jutsu."

His left eye twitched.

"If you behave, we will remove the bracelet at the end of your first year. During ALL three years of your 'imprisonment' you will be monitored by a chosen ninja. That shinobi is Naruto Uzumaki." This time Tsunade couldn't hide her vindictive smile. "When he goes on a mission you will be monitored by a small team of anbu. Naruto is now your chaperone. Where he goes, you go. If I catch you without him your ass goes to jail, do you understand?"

"Hn."

-

-

Naruto whipped his head frantically, glancing between his ex-teammate and The Hokage. "Whaaat?"

"I said you will chaperone him on his-"

"No, no! I get that!" He hollered, "What I don't get is WHY ME?" He jabbed his finger in his former teammate's face. Sasuke looked annoyed. "That asshole tried to kill me! Why should I watch him, huh? Can't you find someone else to be his babysitter?"

Tsunade sighed, lowering her face in the valley of her folded arms. "Because…" she said, her voice muffled "because you're the best ninja we have. Sasuke poses a giant threat to the village, so we need the best and bravest for such a high maintenance job." She leaned up and tried desperately to keep a straight face.

Naruto fell for it hook line and sinker. His face lit up "Really?" he asked, awestruck.

Tsunade bit her lip "Really, really."

"Okay then, I'll be this bastard's babysitter. Come on."

She heaved a loud breath "More sake please."

-

-

Two years, five months, ten days, six hours, fifty three minutes, and two ½ seconds had passed since then. Naruto had used every moment of those long two years+ to brag on how Tsunade explicitly trusted him with the difficult task of caging the Uchiha.

Sasuke in turn, hated his life. When Naruto wasn't on a mission he was inhabiting the ramen stand. He quickly realized there wasn't much else to the moron's life than this.

Disgruntled he once again became a known presence to the people of Konoha. They knew that wherever you found the noisy blonde you would see his dark haired friend in the background trying to blend in with the shadows.

F.Y.I. it didn't work.

He met his replacement. He had seen the strange pale skinned shinobi before, but now that he was up close Sasuke decided that he didn't like him.

"So you're the guy who had his whole family killed by his big brother." Were Sai's first (official) words to him.

First impressions last forever, or so they say, which might explain why Sasuke carried a resentment of Sai for the rest of his life. His eyes narrowed at the smiling young man.

Naruto, sensing tension, quickly intervened "Hey-hey! That's not nice, Sai! Apologize!"

"Why?" That sneaky bastard had the nerve to look confused "I was merely stating a fact. Is it impolite to tell a person what you know of their history?"

Naruto was genuinely confused. He folded his arms, scowling "I don't know what you just said – but I think you should apologize anyway!"

"Could you please let me know what I have done wrong? I didn't kill his family it was his brother. Shouldn't his brother apologize?"

Sai's miserable life was mercifully spared by the appearance of the fourth member of Team 7. Sakura appeared out of nowhere, panting and out of breath, she offered a weak smile "Sorry I'm late guys, things got really messy at the hospital."

Sai offered her one of his famous fake smiles "No problem, ugly."

Her smile fell "Sai, what did I tell you about insulting people? Sometimes I swear you're not as socially retarded as you pretend to be. It's like you do this shit on purpose."

You could have knocked Sasuke over with a feather right then and there. He was stunned to see that Sakura:

Ignored him, blatantly he might add.

Did NOT kill Sai for insulting her

Took charge of the situation

Swore.

She had matured, well obviously, but he hadn't expected this much of a change in her. He scanned her, his eyes momentarily lingering on her slender legs and developed chest before he realized: Little Sakura was all grown up now.

He felt like a pervert just thinking it. He heard the familiar 'poof' as a puff of smoke appeared in their midst. The smoke slowly thinned to reveal the fifth and final member of Team 7.

Kakashi tilted his perverted book in a lazy salute "Yo."

"You're late!" Naruto pointed his finger accusingly.

Sakura shook her head despairingly, her pink hair flopping in what Sasuke considered to be a distracting manner. "Must we relive this routine every single day?"

Sai continued to smile obliviously. Sasuke suspected that he was dropped on his head as a baby, repeatedly.

Kakashi's dark eye crinkled in a lazy smile. "Ah this is nice," he sighed, ignoring their hostility "All my favorite students … oh and Sai" he added "... together again." The ink haired artist just smiled some more. "Well since we have nothing better to do, I guess we should train."

"Ne, Kakashi-sensei, Sasuke has a chakra suppr-suppree-supproo… chakra-blocky bracelet on!" Naruto jabbed his finger right under the Uchiha's nose.

"Oh." Their teacher nodded his head slowly, considering "I guess we can just do straight up taijutsu then. No ninjutsu, genjutsu, or chakra use at all."

"But sensei!" Naruto and Sakura whined as one.

"But-nothing. Come on kiddies, its time to see what you children can do."

-

-

Sasuke was paired against Sakura much to his dismay, while Naruto attempted to take out all his anger on Sai's eternally smiling face. Kakashi sat somewhere in the background on a stump giggling behind his nasty little book.

The Uchiha wasn't sure what to expect as Sakura slipped on a pair of black fingerless gloves. "I won't go easy on you." She warned him.

He wanted to roll his eyes. Since when did SHE think she could match up to HIM? It was ridiculous, really. "Hn."

The old Sakura would've waited for him to make his move before trying to find a way to avoid it or crying for help. This new Sakura charged him straight on, cocked her fist back, and let it fly.

His chakra was blocked but his reflexes were still as sharp as ever. He pivoted on his heel, moving himself out of the path of her lethal fists. She followed up with a short twirl, using the momentum of her body to jab him with her elbow.

Sasuke decided now was a good time to back up. A good ten feet away from each other, they stared the other person down. There was no admiration, fear, or anxiety in Sakura's eyes, only cold calculations. He realized that was how me must have looked to her.

He gave a slight sneer "Is that all you got?" he said, which was more than he had said to her in the past five months.

-

-

Snapping out of the memory he glanced at his teammates surrounding him. Ichiraku Ramen had turned into something of a designated meeting place for the Rookie 9.

Shikamaru Nara was complaining while eating ramen. Chouji Akimichi was trying to con his best friend out of his bowl of ramen. Ino Yamanaka was complaining even louder than Shikamaru, because apparently ramen is 'so fattening.' Sai smiled while inadvertently insulting everyone around him. Neji Hyuuga tried to create a human barrier between his shy cousin and the obnoxious Hokage-wannabe. Hinata Hyuuga, in turn, was blushing while sharing small talk with those around her. Tenten was chatting with Lee and Kiba about weapons distribution amongst kunoichi. Shino was practicing the art of eating with a huge collar covering his face. Sakura sat in the middle of all this chaos, smiling serenely.

Sasuke tried to pretend that his gaze wasn't drawn to his pink haired teammate. It was painful, forcing himself to watch his noodles instead of her glowing features. She looked so happy, a small selfish part of him wondered why she didn't look like that around him anymore?

During the past two years he had been observing her. Oh hell, he was stalking her. Every time the team gathered for a meeting his dark eyes scanned the horizon for her figure. He watched her whenever he was sure others weren't looking, and from these observations he came to accept the new Sakura.

She was fierce and loving at the same time. She balanced out the team in a way no other kunoichi could manage. She was an excellent kunoichi with a mean right hook. She was beautiful, and hell, he could easily see himself enacting 'operation revive Uchiha clan' with her.

Which got him to thinking. Why not?

"Sasuke? Are you feeling okay?" someone flapping hand came in direct line of his vision. He jerked back. It was Tenten.

The whole table watched.

"Yes." He said a little sharply.

"Okay." She grinned, "It's just that you were looking kinda creepy."

Naruto guffawed "But Tenten, that's how he always looks!"

Kiba, Chouji, and Sakura chuckled at the blonde's joke. Hinata blushed. Neji shook his head, and the others resumed their simultaneous slurping.

Honestly that sound was getting on Sasuke's nerves.

He let out a low breath. Now that he had decided on Sakura the only question was how? How could he manage to woo her? How could he get his teammate to believe that his intentions are true?

'Hey Sakura, let's go to my house and make some hot monkey love' Nope. He shook his head vehemently.

'I wanna knock you up'

'Let's get jiggy with it.'

Why did all of his propositions sound like a bunch of Jiraiya's old puns? He had seen a lot of the Sannin since Naruto insisted on visiting him at least once a week. Sasuke suddenly regretted those visits.

No, a woman like Sakura would need to be eased into this relationship. She had feelings for him before; he could only hope that they all hadn't disappeared with time.

Sakura laughed lightly and rest her hand on Neji's shoulder.

Sasuke's eyes nearly fell out of his head. What? She was interested in the Hyuuga? He felt disgusted and disappointed and pissed off all at the same time. Of all people…

The Hyuuga reciprocated to her laughter with what was probably a cheesy pickup line. This time both of them shared a laugh and a smile.

Sasuke felt ill.

-

-

"Naruto."

"Eh?"

"Is Sakura dating the Hyuuga?"

"I don't THINK so… ew, why would she?"

"Hn."

-

-

They weren't dating, good. His next plan of action was simple. He had to lure Naruto's relatively uncomplicated mind into believing that he wanted to visit Sakura.

"We haven't seen the others in a while." Sasuke mildly commented one day. That was quite an understatement. He had spent nearly a week going between Naruto's smelly house to the ramen shop and back again. It seemed the Hokage had no immediate use for the blonde ninja, which was unfortunate for the Uchiha. He hated being cooped up, especially in a house that smelled like ramen and old socks.

Naruto, whose face was buried in a book (what sort of book, I'd rather not say) emerged looking baffled "What? Yes we have! We just saw Kakashi and Sakura…" he counted on his fingers "A couple days ago!"

"Nice to know you can still count."

"STOP INSULTING ME! I GAVE YOU FREE RAMEN DIDN'T I?"

Sasuke glanced down at the withered and expired pack that his 'friend' had slid in his direction. "I'll pass."

"YOU'RE GETTING ON MY NERVES!" Naruto smashed a bowl of milk against the wall. "I'm sick of seeing you all the time! I'm gonna go visit Sakura-chan! And don't you follow me either?"

The dark haired young man resisted the urge to smack his forehead "I have to follow you, you're my…chaperone…" he said the word 'chaperone' through gritted teeth, looking as if he were in pain.

"Oh dammit it all. Come on then."

Perfect.

-

-

"Ne, what do YOU Guys want?" Was Sakura's cheerful greeting as she opened the door. Her green eyes listlessly scanned both her teammates, her gaze lingering on Naruto's face as she once again ignored Sasuke.

Seriously, this was getting a little old.

She moved aside, gesturing for them to enter.

Sakura's apartment, in comparison with Naruto's, was spotless clean. It looked like it should be on the cover of a Home and Garden magazine. Scented candles made for a relaxing environment, and Sasuke felt his muscles slowly relax.

He seated himself on the couch between his obnoxious teammate and his new interest. They shared idle banter about mission requirements and the latest gossip in Konoha, while Sasuke just nodded his head or grunted at the appropriate moments.

He watched Naruto. The moment he was waiting for should come in just a few seconds. 3…2…1…

"DAMN I HAVE TO PEE!"

"Why do you feel the urge to announce that?" Sakura snarled, but pointed towards her bathroom "And make sure you wash your hands!" she added as an afterthought.

Inner Sasuke was doing a victory dance. Outer Sasuke was bored out of his mind. He waited until he was sure the moron closed the door behind him and almost snickered when he heard it lock. Did he really think anyone wanted to see him?

"Sakura," he let her name flow from his lips, tasted it on his tongue.

The pink haired girl in turn was surprised to hear him say her name like that. 'What the hell is going on?' she thought suspiciously.

She turned to answer him and nearly fainted in surprise when he scooted closer to her.

Sasuke wondered if he was laying it on too thick, but then again, he WAS an Uchiha. It didn't matter. She would probably be stunned into submission.

Sakura, in the meanwhile, was flabbergasted that Sasuke was now sitting so she could feel the warmth of his leg against hers. What was going on in his mind? His eyes were as mysterious as ever, offering no answers. She swallowed loudly.

He could sense her nervousness, and felt his lips tilt upward slightly. Too easy. "Sakura…" he said her name again, noting the slight flush appearing on her porcelain cheeks "What's wrong? You don't look so well…" the fingers of his left hand brushing the warm skin of her flushed cheek. He drew them back slowly.

"Sasuke." She growled through tightly clenched teeth as his finger tips lightly brushed her clothed thigh "What do you think you're doing?"

He smirked and leaned in, his lips brushing against her ear. "What do YOU think I'm doing?" he breathed.

She swallowed loudly again and tried to suppress the shiver that racked her spine. What the…

The sharp slam of the bathroom door jolted her out of the spell. She leaped across the room, holding her kunai pointed at him "You're n-not my teammate!"

Sasuke rolled his eyes and then activated his Sharingan. No matter how impressive the transformation jutsu, no one could imitate the Sharingan.

Sakura would have sighed in relief if she weren't so darned confused! Why was SASUKE, Mr-antisocial-asexual-attitude himself laying the moves on her? This had to be some kind of sick joke, or maybe he had grown so bored with his life he decided to mess with her emotions. Her face hardened into a fierce mask. "I don't know what the hell is going on with you, but I want you to leave me out of it! Understood?"

Sasuke kept his Sharingan activated. He knew how drawn she was to his kekkei genkai. "I don't take orders very well." He smirked.

She glared at him.

Naruto entered the room, scratching his backside. "Eh? Why is Sakura-chan pointing a kunai at you?"

"I was showing her a new defensive stance." The Uchiha lied as only Uchiha's could. He nodded curtly at his gaping teammate "Perfect." He rose to his feet "Ready to go, Naruto?"

"But we just got here!"

Sasuke hated resorting to bribery, but he knew he needed to give Sakura her space…for now. He lowered his pride "I'll buy you ramen."

Naruto's blue eyes lit up "Really?" he asked, unaware that Sasuke was a missing-nin/prisoner therefore he didn't have any money on him. "Okay, see you later Sakura-chan!" He dragged his dark haired friend out the door.

Sakura waved a little weakly, the kunai dropping out of her hand with a clang. "Bye…" she whispered.

-

-

They saw Sakura the next day when Naruto checked into the hospital for a broken leg, which turned out to be a sprained muscle.

The medic, who was NOT their pink haired teammate by the way, was less than impressed. "Crybaby." She said disparagingly. She was familiar with the terrible trio, Naruto especially as he frequented the hospital in hopes of seeing his friend. "Just go easy on it for a day or two and you should be fine." She removed her glowing hands from his injured limb.

Naruto smiled sheepishly "Hey thanks!"

Sakura stepped into the room, her eyes focused on the medical chart in her hands. Her walk was absentminded as she lightly brushed against objects she would have usually avoided. Her now long pink hair was pulled into a messy bun and her eye brows were furrowed in concentration. "Miya? I was wondering where you put the…" her business voice trailed off as she caught sight of the room's occupants, more specifically, Sasuke.

"Um…" she said.

"Hi Sakura!" said Naruto.

"What were you going to ask me?" asked Miya.

"Hn." Sasuke grunted.

"Nothing," the medic suddenly blushed so her cheeks match her hair "I-It was nothing… bye." She scurried out the room, nearly knocking over a lamp.

"That was weird." Naruto said, filling the silence that followed.

"Tell me about it." Miya agreed.

Sasuke just smirked.

-

-

Sakura, being a skilled kunoichi, was utilizing her shinobi skills to the max. In other words, she was avoiding Sasuke like the plague and it was working.

The Uchiha was not dismayed, not in the least. He had expected her to avoid him while trying to sort out his intentions and her feelings on said intentions. She would probably confront him in another week or two. All he had to do was sit back and wait.

However, as we all know, Sasuke Uchiha is not a very patient man.

He would have to trap her. It was difficult since she was accepting missions left and right while he was still confined to the village.

She would have to come home sooner or later, and when she did he would be right there.

Of course fate had thrown a wrench in his plans. Naruto. The idiot milled around the village uselessly and slurped ramen like it was going out of style. Sasuke's only hope was to see Sakura during a Team 7 training session.

She had returned to the village the day prior and insisted on working the day AND night shift at the hospital.

Salvation came in the form of his sensei, who walked around aimlessly with his head buried in his book. Sasuke and Naruto were at the ramen stand at the time when Kakashi passed by. The blonde hadn't noticed, of course, but Sasuke did.

"I'll be right back." He muttered, sliding his untouched ramen over to Naruto as a peace offering/bribe.

Naruto nodded happily as he slurped down an extra long noodle.

"Kakashi." Sasuke said in his usual deadpan, but his teacher's trained ears caught the word.

"Hello Sasuke, are you being a good little boy?"

Sasuke's eye twitched. He decided to ignore his teacher's barbs. He had been on the butt end of a lot of insults since he arrived in Konoha. It seems the gray haired man held a grudge against his student. Whatever. "When are we going to train again, as a team?" he got straight to the point.

"I didn't know you cared." Kakashi rubbed his masked chin thoughtfully "I guess it HAS been a while. Maybe tomorrow."

He disappeared in a puff of smoke and that was all Sasuke needed.

-

-

He was to face off against that idiot Sai. The Uchiha Avenger cursed his fate while his 'teammate' watched him with that simple look on his face.

Fine, he would just take out his frustration on him.

-

-

"SASUKE! DID YOU HAVE TO TRY AND KILL SAI?" Naruto lamented as they carried their teammate's beaten body to the hospital.

Sasuke said nothing. Sakura, who walked on his other side, shook her head despairingly. She had used up most of her chakra fighting Naruto and was therefore of no use to their injured friend. She wondered what angered Sasuke enough to make him pulverize Sai?

"This is fun." Kakahsi said cheerfully.

"Yeah, because you're not CARRYING HIM!" Naruto roared. No one trusted Sasuke with Sai and Naruto had the demon fox to heal his injuries so he was naturally dubbed 'the Sai carrier man'. "Sometimes I hate you."

The silver haired man flipped his hand carelessly "Perfectly understandable."

-

-

"Sasuke? Why did you do that to Sai?"

They were standing outside the hospital, it was dark outside and Naruto had already gone home with Kakashi following. Sakura had watched her dark eyed teammate all day and still couldn't read him. What could possibly motivate him to behave so violently? Why did he do that-that THING at her house? Suddenly Sasuke didn't make any sense.

"I wanted to." Was his curt reply.

"What about at my house?" she decided to get straight to the point. She folded her arms against the cold breeze that followed her statement. A pair of anbu walked by, nodding their heads to her in greeting, she smiled.

"I wanted to."

She huffed out an annoyed sigh "That's IT? Really?" She didn't know whether to be angry or relieved.

"No…" Sasuke said honestly, still looking at anything but her "what I meant to say is because I want you."

Sakura's entire body froze. She stopped breathing. She could only gape helplessly at her mysterious teammate. How many times had she fantasized him saying those three words to her? How often did she write her name Sakura Uchiha on a blank piece of paper, desperately wishing for it to be true?

"What?" she gasped.

He glared at the wall to his left then slowly dragged his gaze to her stunned face. He didn't feel like repeating himself. Then the new Sakura surprised him once more. She began to laugh, a derisive angry sound.

It was his time to ask "What?"

"You…" she chuckled, the fond smile on her face a little too fond "you're an arrogant asshole."

This was not how things were supposed to go. He didn't let the surprise register on his face.

She continued mercilessly "If you honestly think for ONE minute that I would come running to you, well, you've got another think coming! You think you can just waltz into my life and have me fall into your arms like a whiny needy little girl? Oh hell no, I don't think so." She chuckled again. Her eyes sharpened "It's about your clan isn't it?"

Uh oh.

"You need a girl to help you revive your clan, so why not use the girl who used to be in love with you? You asshole." She spat harshly "Let me tell you something" she jabbed him in the chest with her forefinger "Your stupid clan can stay dead for all I care because I sure as hell am not reviving it! Especially not with a disgusting asshole like you!"

Slap.

Sasuke watched, the right side of his face turning red from her palm, as she stormed off.

Well, that was unexpected.

-

-

"Let's go see Sakura-chan!" Naruto crowed one morning.

"No."

"Why not? I thought you WANTED to see visit her, now you're changing your mind? What's up with you? Is it that time of the month?"

"Shut up. I said no."

"Why not?"

"Because…because I don't think she wants to see me."

"Oh."

"…"

"…"

"WHAT THE HELL DID YOU DO TO SAKURA-CHAN?"

-

-

To say that Sasuke felt morose would be the understatement of the year. He honestly hadn't expected such a…violent reception.

He knew there was only one thing to do.

Naruto promised to wait at the end of the street while he slowly walked up the stairs that led to Sakura's apartment. He had been trying to talk to her for the past three weeks and she had stealthily managed to avoid him at every turn.

It was time for him to take action. His clan needed it.

He raised his fist to knock on the door when a familiar hand grabbed his wrist. Unfazed he slowly turned his head "What do you want sensei?"

Kakashi leaned against the doorpost and shook his head "Me man, you woman, mate now." He grunted in a caveman impersonation. "That is not the way to woo a girl, Sasuke." He chided, returning to his mild voice.

"What do you care?" Sasuke hissed.

Kakashi looked aghast "I care about my students welfare, and their love life is part of that. You can't just march up to her and expect her to accept you."

Sasuke wanted to explain that he HADN'T just marched up to her, but decided to keep his mouth shut.

"Women are a lot like solving a puzzle. The pieces are all scrambled and some of them are upside down. All you have is a picture to go by, and even then you are uncertain. Sometimes you feel inundated as you look at all the steps you will have to go through before you reach your goal. But then you pick up two pieces and put them together. Then you find the piece that connects to that." Kakashi let out a low breath, tilting his head up, his lone eye watching the ceiling "Sometimes progress seems ridiculously slow but it's still progress, until finally piece by piece you reach the end."

Sasuke was silent for a long moment, his emotionless. His teacher watched him during that silence and realized how grown up his students really were. He missed the days when they were all cute and there was less drama.

"I…I understand." The Uchiha nodded slowly at his teacher in acceptance.

"What?" Kakashi looked surprised "You really do? Because I was just stalling for time while Sakura sneaked out her back window."

Sasuke's eyes widened "You what?" he hissed dangerously, kicking the door down and bursting into her apartment. It was vacant. He raced towards her bedroom where the window was pushed up as high as it could go, making an easy exit.

"Dammit."

Kakashi just pocketed the bribe money and smiled behind his mask. They still had a lot of growing up to do.

-

-

The long awaited day arrived. The day when Tsunade proclaimed that Sasuke had lived out his sentence and could now reside in Konoha as a (mildly restricted) citizen. She signed a scroll her, shook hands there, and told Sasuke he was free to come and go as he pleased and that he could always register for the Chuunin exams.

He bowed, thanked her politely, and walked out the door feeling free and strangely empty at the same time.

Because at the end of the day, he really had nowhere to go.

-

-

"Naruto, may I stay with you?" Sasuke hated himself as he abandoned his last shred of pride. The truth was, he could easily pick a home within the Uchiha compound but he didn't want to. Not anymore. The solitude, the dark memories, it would be too much for him.

The blonde stared at him in shock which slowly turned to surprise and then glee. "Of course you can." He said warmly, instead of hollering as the Uchiha had expected.

Sasuke sat beside him and ordered a bowl of miso ramen.

He would never say this aloud, but, it was good to have friends.

-

-

It was also good to have a ridiculous amount of money waiting for you in the family vault. Sasuke decided it was time to put that money to good use. He felt a little ashamed taking so freely of the goods, but then when he remembered that it was all for the clan and he felt a little better.

-

-

One of Sakura's many talents was the gift of holding a freaking long grudge. She also could recognize her teammate's chakra from miles away. All of that was helpful in her ardent quest to steer clear of the Uchiha.

She went for a walk around Konoha, mindful that Sasuke was on a mission, and drank in the sights of a sunny spring day. She smiled at people she recognized and even the people she didn't recognize. She purchased a new kunai holster and sat down on a bench to watch the people walk by.

She decided she was hungry. There was a nice little sushi place two blocks down.

The hostess at the small restaurant greeted her warmly and offered her a nice little seat by a sunny window. Finally at peace, Sakura ordered her food and chewed the fish, determined to enjoy her day.

She finished her food and waited for someone to pass her the bill.

She waited for five minutes before heading towards the person in charge. She had eaten a few times before and was confused by the slow service. The brown haired man blinked in surprise when she demanded she be given her food bill.

"Why Sakura," the man smiled warmly, a strange twinkle in his eye "A mysterious young man came here not too long ago and covered all your dining fees for a year."

She nearly passed out right there. Feeling dizzy she asked in a weak voice "Did he have dark hair? And dark eyes?" and was he smolderingly sexy?

"Yes that's the man. I don't recall his name but he seemed to be a very powerful shinobi. That was so nice of him, is he a friend of yours?"

Sakura shook her head wearily and stumbled out the door.

-

-

The same thing happened to her at every restaurant she visited, Ichiraku Ramen included. She didn't know how me could afford it, but somehow he ensured that she could eat out for free.

She was automatically suspicious. What were his motives? Did he think free food could pay for sex?

"Damn Sakura," Ino said wistfully "I wish someone would do that for me. That is so cool, and kind of weird – just like Sasuke!"

"Shut up Ino." She muttered as yet another restaurant refused to let her pay.

"You have to admit, it's kind of sweet." Her friend pointed out with a mouthful of noodles.

Sakura couldn't hide her small smile. "Yeah… I guess it is."

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The pink haired girl resolutely visited every restaurant in Konoha, testing the Uchiha's resilience. He had covered all of them, save one.

Feeling strangely relieved, she smiled at the host whom she had just interrogated before confirming that yes, she would be eating here.

He nodded, eyeing her strangely before leading her to a booth in a quiet corner.

She stopped him, grabbing his arm "This table is set for two."

"Yes…" he said, waiting for the punch line.

"I'll only need one." She wanted to roll your eyes.

"Oh, you're eating here alone?"

"No." A completely different voice interrupted "I'm eating with her."

Sakura's eyes nearly fell out of her head. She didn't know Sasuke returned from his mission today. Even though technically he was still a genin, Tsunade made good use of his skills with the Sharingan.

He seated himself across from her, looking decidedly bored in the romantic atmosphere.

"What are you doing here?" Sakura all but snarled.

"Eating."

Fine. If he was going to give her one word answers then she would ask questions that mattered. "How did you know I was here?"

"The owner informed me."

"You!" She gasped, outraged and kind of freaked out "You have people spying on me?"

"How else would I get to talk to you in person?" It was a question, but the deadpan that he asked it in made it sound like a statement.

Sakura folded her arms and huffed as the waiter placed two ice cold glasses of water on the dark wood table. Speaking of things dark… she met his eyes across the table "Okay Uchiha," she pointed her fork at him, wishing that she hadn't left her kunai holster at home "you've got me here. What the hell is this all about? Are you telling me you're going through all this effort so you can have your way with me?" she visibly angered as she spoke the last sentence.

Sasuke knew he was treading on dangerous ground. "In a manner of speaking…"

Had she not been so prone to having angry fits, she would have heard him voice that this wasn't all about sex. However, because she was an angry person she flipped the table over, roared for him to stay the hell out of her life, and stomped out the once classy restaurant.

It was then that the Uchiha decided that he'd had it with trying to woo her. If she didn't want him then fine, just fine. He had better things to do anyway.

At least, that's what he tried to convince himself as he walked the long way back to Naruto's house.

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The Chuunin exams flew by. He completed each task with ease and destroyed his opponents with a feline grace that left his required teammates quaking in fear.

He tossed the olive colored Chuunin vest under his bed.

He requested the highest missions his rank would allow and completed them on time. He became the perfect shinobi and slowly worked his way into the village's good graces once more.

Sasuke had thought about the second part of his life's goal on many occasions. It would be too easy to lure one of these eager girls into his bed. It was what he should be doing. Instead his mind traveled to Sakura, who now decidedly hated his guts.

What a strange twist of fate.

It wasn't like he WANTED to hurt her feelings; he just needed her to accomplish his goal. He wanted it to be her, not one of these stupid floozies. He would marry her of course. The Uchiha clan was an honorable clan and would not approve of relations outside of marriage. He would try and make her happy. He would let her name their daughters while he chose strong names for their sons. He would buy her nice things every now and then, just to ensure that she wasn't too miserable. She would cook for the family and he would ensure their protection. Maybe one day when he finally unthawed he would learn to love her, if not tolerate her.

Ah whatever, he didn't care.

At least that's what he tried to tell himself. Then he saw her. Yet again another twist of fate. She was standing outside the flower shop talking to her obnoxious blonde friend. She was smiling and running a hand through her silky long hair and looking quite lovely while she did so, of course he would never say that aloud. His heart beat loudly in his chest.

He was a trained shinobi and therefore was painfully aware of the many men whose gazes lingered on her a lot longer than they should have. He noticed the way her eyes crinkled a little at the corner when she laughed and how she waved her hands wildly to emphasize each point. He decided he liked the way she would nibble on her lower lip when she was thinking about something, or how her eyes grew wide when Ino said something that shocked her.

Yes, Sasuke could quite easily see himself spending the rest of his life with her.

Ino was distractedly watched the scenery as her friend described a recent training accident when she caught sight of the dark haired Uchiha lurking not too far from them. She continued to scan the village, pretending she didn't see him. She nodded and said "Uh huh" to something Sakura said and scanned the background once more.

His eyes hadn't left Sakura.

Ino's lips curled into a devious smile. Almost everyone in the village knew that Sasuke was, at some point, pursuing the young medic. What no one else knew, and what Ino was just realizing, was that Sasuke was in love with her. It was so evident in the way he stared at her, protective and longing all at once. It was just like a soap opera! Interesting. "Hey Sakura?" she said, cutting her friend off "Sorry I just remembered I was supposed to bring Chouji's training wraps. I borrowed them yesterday and told him I'd wash them for him. He's going to be so mad." She lied quickly and efficiently. "I'll see you around okay?"

Sakura smiled "Okay, hurry before he searches your room!"

The other girl laughed and ran off, the smile remaining on her face even when she was a good distance away.

Sasuke, in the meanwhile, saw this as an opportunity to make his move. "Sakura." He moved in quickly before she could escape him once more.

Her heart skipped a beat before she remembered that she was pissed off at him. Her green eyes narrowed "What do you want?"

He had one last chance to woo her. There were a thousand things he could say at that moment. He could apologize, he could snap at her, he could make an excuse and walk off, or he could try and be honest for once. Oh what the hell, she already hated him. He placed his hands on both sides of her face, and before she could protest or try and kill him, he kissed her.

It wasn't perfect. There were no fireworks or soft music in the background. A pleasant warmth crept throughout his body. It wasn't perfect, no, but it felt right.

Sakura was stunned. What the hell was he-

Sasuke angled his head slightly so to kiss her better.

-oh never mind. Her mind went delightfully blank as Sasuke held her close to him in the warm sunshine where anyone could see them.

He pulled back, his face just as surprised as hers. "I would marry you first."

"Wha?" Her mind was still reeling from the feel of his warm lips against her.

"You thought that I would just use you to fulfill my goals." Sasuke carefully explained, "I plan to marry you first."

His dark eyes did that unfair smoldering thing where they rendered her completely useless.

"Buh…" was her reply.

Sasuke smirked, enjoying the fact that his skills could make her speechless. He tried to contain his composure as his heartbeat continued to pick up speed. He liked holding her in his arms, he decided. It was comfortable. He liked knowing that he could protect her and make her happy and give her all the things in life that she could ever want.

She probably still hated his guts though. Perhaps he should take things slowly.

"Meet me at Ichiraku's tonight at 7." He instructed, "Wear something nice."

"Our first date is going to be at a ramen stand?" she asked disbelievingly.

Sasuke looked appalled "No. The place I plan to take you is far nicer. Consider it a surprise."

Sakura, for the first time in years, smiled warmly at him- which did nothing to help his over palpitating heart. "Okay."

He kissed her one more time to prove his interest (and because he really, really, really, really, really, really wanted to) and walked off the trademark Uchiha smirk on his face, leaving a stunned Sakura behind him.

Consider her wooed.

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End Story

Ha-ha, I just had to add that last line in there. I hope you guys liked it, but I especially hope Mari did. The next one coming out is: The Wooing of Hinata Hyuuga (NaruHina)

Question: One of these is going to be AU. Which should it be, the ShikaIno or the NejiTen? Please vote!

And don't forget to review!!!!