School has sucked up all my free time. This took me forever to finish but I got it done. =) I know I shouldn't have, but I tweaked Sasuke's personality. It's AU though so can't I take a little artistic license?
The quaint Italian restaurant was bubbling with activity. The waiters rushed around, delivering orders and refilling glasses, the host showed people to their seats, friends chattered amiably over their meals of pasta and aged wine. The soft melody of jazz music floated through the restaurant, mingling with the warm comfortable atmosphere and delectable aromas emitting from the kitchen. A couple intertwined hands over their table, their faces close and bright with love. A pink haired woman watched longingly from her table as they kissed, a wishful sigh escaping her lips.
Ino briefly spared Sakura a glance before she turned back to her shrimp linguini. "Done with what?"
"This! Being miserable! I'm sick of being an ex-girlfriend. I'm sick of acting a certain way so that a guy will like me: controlling what I say, controlling how I eat, controlling how I move—do you realize how annoying it is to be conscious of your body language? I'm tired of trying to make men like me. I'm tired of taking painstaking measures to keep my relationships alive. Ryuu was the last straw. I can't take it anymore!" She slammed her palms on the table.
"So I'm taking myself out of the game. I'm done with guys." She took a swig of her wine. TenTen, seated to Sakura's left next to the wall, nodded absentmindedly as she waved a dismissive hand. "Sure, sure. By this time next week you'll be gushing about some new guy you've met." Sakura scowled at TenTen who was busily devouring her ravioli. "No, I will not! This time I truly mean it. I'm so tired of this stupid cycle. So I'm officially done dating. I'm going to be single forever." She nodded confidently to herself.
"You're being a little dramatic, don't you think?" Ino commented, her gaze fixed on the dessert menu she flipped though.
Hinata skeptically eyed Sakura from across the table. She was no quitter, everyone knew that. She had had her mind set on finding 'the one' for about 3 years now, the man she would love forever. The only problem was that once things became official, Sakura couldn't stay with a guy for more than a few weeks average. "Is it me?" she'd ask in desperation as she therapeutically ate ice cream from the carton, eyes rimmed red. "I do everything I'm supposed to: I love, I cherish, I sacrifice; what am I doing wrong?"
Every Friday night when they met up for their weekly dinner together, Sakura would either be elated and shining, babbling on and on about her boyfriend or sullen and depressed with heartbreak. The cycle was just as frustrating to the girls as it was to Sakura. It had come to a point where Ino, TenTen and Hinata hated to see her happy on a Friday because they knew that in two weeks or so, they would find Sakura curled up in her bed, eyes puffy and heart broken, refusing to leave her loft until they managed to drag her out to a party, or dinner, or a club where Sakura would find "Mr. Right". Again. And so the cycle went.
Using her elbow, Hinata nudged Ino next to her. "I think she's serious."
"No she's not. Don't believe her." TenTen dismissively commanded as she tried to chew the food in her mouth.
Sakura shook her head. "No, I'm serious."
"So, no more dating at all?" Hinata inquired suspiciously.
"What about 'Mr. Right'?" TenTen teased.
"I've decided that he doesn't exist so I'm done searching for him. I'm taking myself out of the game, for good." She nodded matter-of-factly.
"Yeah and I'm a size double zero." Ino snorted before taking a bite.
Sakura glared at her, her bottom lip jutting out in defiance. "I'm serious!" She looked at the three unconvinced gazes of her friends. "I really am!
"Do you really think I can put up with this never-ending cycle forever? Finding 'Mr. Right' and doing everything I'm supposed to only for him to dump me in public or to find out he's married or to walk in on him cheating with another girl...or guy for that matter." She took a gulp of wine. "Let's not forget the convicted felon I managed to pick up. He was quite the catch. I'm done. No more men for me."
Ino rolled her eyes before speaking. "So what, are you switching to girls now?" Sakura made a face.
"What? I'm just trying to find some solid facts I can actually grasp since I can't comprehend why anyone would want to stop dealing with such delicious, sexy, stunning—"
"All I'm saying is that I'm done dealing with men. Maybe I'll join a convent or something." Hinata quietly chuckled. TenTen snorted. Ino choked noisily on her of wine. Sakura furrowed her eyebrows. "What?"
"Hack-bleh-ack hrmh, convent? A convent Sakura? You're bullshitting me right? I know you're in denial and you think you really can give up men, but this is borderline ridiculous." Ino laughed, softly fanning herself. Sakura pouted angrily.
"You think I couldn't do it?"
Ino looked her directly in the eyes, one eyebrow cocked. "Honey, you couldn't survive an hour in a convent."
Sakura huffed. "If I tried—"
"Don't kid yourself." Ino cut her off abruptly. "You love wine, swearing, fashionable clothes and most of all sex. Just the fact that you'd be abstinent for the rest of your life should've stopped the idea from ever crossing your mind."
TenTen sipped some wine and nodded in agreement. "You obviously can't be a nun, you know that. Why would you even think of it?" Sakura sighed.
"I haven't had a relationship that's lasted longer than 3 weeks. I'm going to end up alone and childless anyway, why not have some meaning in my single life?"
"So maybe you've had some bad breakups." Sakura's sharp accusing glare trained on Ino. "Alright, huge understatement. You've had a myriad of shitty breakups. But even if you've had some bad experiences, you can't just give up now and become—a nun." She said the word with disgust and a dramatic shiver. "You're only 25. You're young, smart and sexy. Why would you waste your life devoting it to religion? If you ask me—"
"What Ino is trying to say in her blatantly insulting way is that you don't want to be a nun. And we all know you're not really gonna stop dating: it's your life. So stop trying to convince yourself." TenTen commanded before turning back to her food.
"But I'm tired of being dumped! I'm tired of men! I just want to be happy!" Sakura buried her head in her arms on the table.
"You will be happy Sakura once you find the right guy. And the only way you'll find him is if you keep searching." Hinata encouraged.
Ino nodded while munching on her food. "Seriously. We're in Greenwich Village. You can't tell me you're sick of dating rich sexy upper class men. 'Cuz I'm sure as hell not." Her eyes locked onto a passing man.
Sakura made a face and beckoned the waiter for another glass of wine. As he filled her up she turned to her girlfriends. "Like I said before, I'm sick of dating all men. They're all shit. I do everything a good girlfriend is supposed to do and they never appreciate it. All I need are you guys and my good friend Brunello di Montalcino." She sipped heartily at her wine.
"Maybe the problem is you." Ino suggested much to Sakura's chagrin. Seeing her hurt face, Ino quickly amended. "Not you, yourself per se, but your habits. You tend to think things out too much. Like you said earlier, while you're on a date you're thinking about your body language. You have this—this manual in your head that you think you need to follow to the T in order to make a relationship work and you get more and more frustrated the more it fails. You're being too anal; loosen up a bit! Stop thinking about how to make a relationship work and just do it. That's your problem."
Sakura stared shocked at Ino. She thought the problem was her? Out of all the most ridiculous things she had heard come out of Ino's mouth—
"You also have an uncanny ability to pick out douche bags." TenTen added to which Hinata and Ino nodded in agreement. Sakura gaped at them all as they turned their attention back to their food, as if they hadn't just compressed all the complications of her many disastrous relationships into two simple causes. Like this wasn't new at all. "Wait a second—"
Suddenly, a man rounded the corner; a bright blonde haired, strikingly blue eyed man wearing a dashing light gray suit with a few loosened buttons on his pale orange dress shirt, revealing the definition of his muscular neck and teasing onlookers with a peek of the smooth contours of his collarbones. Hands in pockets, he waltzed down the aisle towards his table, passing Sakura's in the process. He briefly scanned the table and like a gentleman, tipped his invisible hat to the ladies with a smile before rejoining his friends. For a moment, there was silence.
"Who. Was. THAT?" Ino asked unbelievably. "I wish I knew..." Hinata said longingly, straining her neck to locate the mystery man. "What a bad time to take yourself off the market Sakura." TenTen stated before she turned away to aid in the search for the man. Ino added: "Seriously! He looked like 'Mr. Right' to me!" Sakura tried to fight the nagging urge to aid in the search.
"Good God there's more of them!" Ino exclaimed before the men at the table turned their attention towards the exclamation. All three girls ducked their heads. "How could we not have noticed a group of sexy men sitting a couple tables away from us?" TenTen hissed from her place hiding against the wall. "Maybe they just got here?" Hinata suggested, scooting closer to Ino to be hidden more in the booth. "No, no. I would have seen them walk in. The door is in my clear view." Ino said, her hand covering her face that was pushed against the table.
Sakura found herself becoming hopeful as her friends squealed and drooled over the "glorious men" behind them. Maybe she could bear to date one more guy..."Sakura, peek at them. Are they still looking?" Ino asked.
Unabashedly and full of hope, Sakura turned around to the limit that the bench allowed. The promise of perhaps discovering "the one" had always excited her and despite her best efforts, she could never manage to quench the feeling.
While her table was stationed against the wall, these men sat at a round table placed in the center of the restaurant. They sat directly under a light, their handsome faces illuminated with the glow. There was a long-haired brunette, the blonde from before, another brunette with shorter hair pulled into a ponytail and a black haired one. He was staring directly at her.
"Yeah, they're still looking." The hopes immediately drained out of her and she was left feeling unwanted and miserable, again. None of them were "the one". She could tell.
"Aren't they amazing?" Ino gushed.
"They're no 'Mr. Right'. I've dated their kind before. Nothing new." She sighed in defeat.
"Well of course you've dated their kind before: you've dated the majority of the male population already." Ino commented snidely, followed by Sakura's irritated growl.
Ino shrugged. "But if you're really not interested, to each his own. You'll never see me passing up the chance to chat with some handsome men."
"So what are they like?" Hinata inquired. Sakura leaned in, prepared to dish out all the details.
"The blonde's an adorable idiot kind-of-guy. They lack common sense and intelligence but it somehow works to their advantage because some women find them charming in an immature-childlike kind-of-way." Sakura smiled impishly. "Adorable idiot guys are generally well endowed." "Sakura!" Hinata gasped, her cheeks flushed with red at Sakura's words.
"Now that brunette with the long hair, he is packing. The thing is, he's got a horrible personality. Cynical, over analytic and humorless. You know, high-on-his-horse kind of guy. Ugh. They're so hard to deal with that sometimes the sex is barely worth it." She paused reminiscing. "Only sometimes though. Most of the time, it's amazing."
"What about the other two?" Ino inquired. "Ponytail is the bum kind-of-guy. Lazy and doesn't care about much. They won't take a girl out anywhere unless it's mandatory. They're usually average sized but experienced so the sex won't be bad."
"And the dark haired one?" TenTen asked. Sakura took a deep breath before she began.
Naruto sat down at the table, a suppressed smile on his face. "Does going to the restroom always make you so happy?" Neji asked with no interest, his eyes still trained on his Blackberry. "That's not what I'm happy about." Naruto said, his tone clearly withholding information. He bit his lip and began to fidget excitedly in his chair. "Don'cha wanna know what I saw?" he asked teasingly. "Just tell us Naruto before you explode." Shikamaru sighed. "Chicks! Hot ones! And there's four of them so there's enough for all of us!"
Sasuke, who had been physically forced to come to dinner that night and was acting particularly sulky, suddenly showed interest in Naruto's babbling which hadn't faltered since their arrival at the restaurant. "Girls, you say?" he asked with interest. Naruto nodded excitedly with a grin on his face. "Hot ones! They're sitting only a couple tables away!"
At that moment, the foursome heard a shout. "Good God there's more of them!" The four men at the table diverted their gazes to the source of the cry in time to see three heads disappear from sight. Shikamaru cringed. "If they're all that loud, it's not worth the trouble." He gazed up toward the ceiling, bored and ready to leave.
Sasuke kept his gaze on the table, particularly the back of the only head that hadn't disappeared. Suddenly, she turned around. She was beautiful with green eyes and pink hair that she had twisted into a tight bun on the nape of her neck. The look in her eyes was wishful and her eyes sparkled with excitement. Within a moment, the excitement drained out of her eyes and she swiftly turned around once more.
Sasuke frowned slightly. That wasn't the usual reaction he got from women once they caught a glimpse of him. She was going to play hard to get, a game he rarely got to play.
"I think it's about time that we expanded our little party of four, don't you think boys?" he said as he stood.
"Now you feel like being social? It was only a minute ago that you were grumbling and pushing your food around like a child, complaining about how you didn't want to be here." Neji noted thoughtfully, updating his calendar. Sasuke swiftly plucked the Blackberry from his grip before turning it off and placing it in his inner coat pocket as Neji scowled.
"That was a minute ago. I've had a change of heart. And now my heart is telling me that those four ladies are in need of some gentlemanly company. Shall we boys?" Sasuke urged, pushing his chair in and walking towards the table.
Naruto looked up after him for a moment before hurriedly pushing back from the table. He spoke to the still seated men at the table. "If we don't hurry up and get over there, he'll take them all for himself just like he did last time." He scurried off.
Neji sighed as he stood. "Are you coming?"
Shikamaru gazed tiredly up at him before standing. "I guess I have to. Might as well meet Sasuke's new girlfriend now and get it over with."
Neji nodded as they began to walk. "I'm hoping that one of these days; he'll encounter a woman with sense enough to reject him."
Shikamaru snorted as they approached the table. "That'll be the day. Women are extremely masochistic creatures."
Sasuke walked along the row of booths against the wall, hoping to make an unexpected appearance. He could almost see their reactions: their surprised gasps, cheeks tinted red, eyes sparkling as they gazed upon him.
Their conversation wafted softly through the air towards him. Pausing, he listened to the hushed voices of the women before he made his entrance. Just to know what he was working with.
"And the dark haired one?" he heard one of the females ask. He smiled to himself. Perfect timing. "Him. Where to begin...?" he knew that this voice was the challenging pink haired one; the criticizing tone was a dead giveaway. He was particularly interested in her opinion of him.
"He is a Narcissus kind-of-guy. I'm talking monumental ego. These guys think they're God's gift to man." Sasuke smiled to himself. She was right; somebody like him only came around every so often.
"They're conceited, selfish, rude,—"True, true, true,
"Arrogant, rich, high maintenance,—" True, true, true,
"And they're total womanizers; they're usually involved with several women at a time."
He had to admit, she was good. This was the most accurate first impression he had ever heard. "But the thing is, it's all a cover-up to the fact that,"...? "Their penises are miniscule."