of bubble tea, sushi, lists, memories, and meetings
Disclaimer: Naruto? Yeah right.
Inspired by: rawrchelle. And a certain string of embarrassments.
Dedicated to: Megan and Enzo—my awkward sibs from another mother. Or two.
Sasuke Uchiha worked several odd jobs throughout his life.
He had seen lots of things working in various restaurants and retail shops. The elderly couple on a sweet date, the teenage lovers' spat leading to their break up (the girl immediately hit on him afterwards), the wedding anniversaries, birthdays, blind dates, consolations, and reunions.
Sasuke had seen it all.
This latest job at a bubble tea cafe was a break. The owner was a friend of his mom's and was more than willing to pick him up from school and take him to work. She let him use his breaks as time to do his homework, sometimes extending it when he wasn't paying attention to the clock, too engrossed in writing his midterm paper to realize he needed to stop.
His older brother Itachi thought it was hilarious that Sasuke, the most anti-social, not-people-friendly person in existence, worked a job that required he interact with people on a regular basis. His mother immediately chastised Itachi, telling her youngest child he needed the social interaction his work provided him with since he insisted on earning money for himself in his free time.
Despite his parents' comfortable life style, he knew the move from Japan to the United States ten years ago was a bit of a strain on their carefully kept finances. He worked simply to save up for a car, to save up for his tuition at the University of Michigan, to save up for a bit of money in his pocket.
So on a day like any other day—working to carve his own place in the world—he saw her for the first time.
And for the next three years, she became a regular fixture in his life.
The door chimes.
The shade of the cafe is a welcome relief on his eyes after being in the bright spring sun. The owner ushers her young son and daughter in after him. Shouldering his backpack higher on his shoulder, Sasuke's gaze sweeps over the tables.
There is a middle aged, unshaven man slowly eating a dish of Pad Thai by the window. A pile of papers lies under his elbow. He looks like he hadn't slept in days.
There is an old woman and her younger daughter glaring at each other over a plate of lo mien in the back corner.
There are two high school students and an older woman (Mother? Sister? Aunt?) sitting at the table behind the low wall that separated the seating area from the ordering line. Each person has a cup of different flavored bubble tea while three forks rest at the edge of a plate of fried banana crepes. One glance at their uniforms tells Sasuke they are students at Bishop's, the private Catholic high school in the city.
At sight of the last table, Sasuke's thoughts take a bitter turn. They were lucky to have everything and not have to work so hard to get what they wanted.
If they had stayed in Japan...
He couldn't think like that. Staying in Japan was out of the question.
All heads turn to look at them at the sound of the door chime. The auntie working the lunch shift sighs in relief when she sees them. The woman with the two Bishop's kids stares at him with a strange half-smile on her lips before turning to the younger girl seated beside her to whisper something.
Her head snaps up, and Sasuke looks her for the first time.
But more strange.
Her mouth frowns upon looking at him before saying something to the woman. Her male companion turns around to look at him as well before saying something to her that makes her snicker.
What strange people.
Sasuke walks into the cafe on a Friday afternoon.
"Hey man." His American co-worker Aaron greets him. "I've got the funniest story for you."
Sasuke grunts to show he's listening as he washes his hands in the sink.
"So two weeks ago, this girl and her friend pull up in a freakin' Z Roadster to get some bubble tea."
"That's... so funny, I'm laughing." Sasuke answers sarcastically.
Aaron shakes his head. "This is the funny part: her friend was looking for you."
Sasuke frowns. "What'd she look like?"
"Dark brown hair cut weird—you know, one side longer than the other— and about chin length, pale skin with freckles, really big hazel eyes."
He thinks about it, running the description against a list of people he knows. "Don't know her."
"Maybe you know her friend." Aaron suggests. "She was really cute. Long raven hair, Japanese, had the coolest green eyes I've ever seen."
Immediately, Sasuke recognizes the description. It's the Bishop's Girl from three months ago.
"Don't know her either." He shrugs as he wipes his hands dry with a paper towel.
Why are you looking for me?
Or are you?
For the better part of his senior year, Sasuke avoids working the weekday shift, claiming he needs the time to work on end-of-the-year projects before his high school graduation.
Summer comes and Sasuke can't avoid working the weekday shifts anymore.
The memory of that girl unsettles him. But he hasn't seen her for a little more than a year.
A black Nissan 350Z pulls up to the small cafe before someone hops out from the driver's seat and casually walks inside. She takes off her sunglasses and stops in front of the register.
Sasuke, preoccupied with organizing the register and counting how much is inside the drawer, grunts, "I'll be with you in a minute."
The lilting voice sweetly tells him, "It's fine."
When he's done, Sasuke looks up and feels his insides freeze.
"What can I get you?" He forces his mouth to move.
They make eye contact but her gaze shifts up to the menu. She orders two drinks—a strawberry and passionfruit slush with boba—before pulling out her wallet, a purple Pocchacco wallet he hasn't seen on a person since he was a kid, to pay.
Her phone rings, the chorus to the acoustic version of Breaking Benjamin's "Diary of Jane" blasting from her back pocket.
"Oh crap." She swears, attempting to pull her phone out while giving Sasuke her money.
"Hello?" She answers in a clipped voice.
"I'll get those for you shortly." Sasuke automatically tells her.
She moves the phone away from her mouth and smiles. "Thanks," She beams at him before walking off to a table to take her call. "Ino, I told you already-"
Even as he makes her drinks, he can't help himself from trying to eavesdrop on her conversation.
"Hold up chica, Sai's calling." She pushes a button at the same time Sasuke turns on the blender to make the strawberry slushie.
"God, you're insufferable... I need to go; Ino's on the other line."
Sasuke pushes a button the machine to seal off the drinks. She gets up from her table, still on the phone.
"Your order." He pushes the plastic cups towards her.
"Thanks." She says around her phone before grabbing two fat straws and poking them through the plastic. "Where am I? Buying boba." She replies into her phone as she walks out the door. "Oh shut up, I know I have an addiction..."
He learns she has an incredible sweet tooth.
And an insatiable bubble tea addiction.
The next time he sees her, two weeks have gone by. Aaron tells him (again—he seems to have a horrible memory because he's already told Sasuke months before) about a green-eyed girl with a sweet voice and an even sweeter ride. Sasuke recognizes the description but says nothing more than, "Yeah, I've seen her."
Itachi calls in the middle of his shift.
"What do you want, Itachi?" Sasuke snaps into his cell phone.
"Tsk, tsk, tsk. Is that any way to treat your older brother? You should be addressing me as Itachi-nii."
"Whatever." Sasuke grunts. "What do you want, Itachi-nii?"
"To talk." His brother answers simply. "See any girls you like? I hope so. Okaa-san is starting to save up money."
"For what? And since when is she not saving money?"
Itachi chuckles. "Touche. But she's saving up money for you."
"Try an emergency stash in case Otou-san kicks you out for being gay."
"You're the gay one!"
"I believe the correct term would be bisexual."
"Which just proves how much of a whore you actually are."
"I've never slept with a man. I've only admitting to finding a few rather attractive. Which, according to Deidara, does not constitute bisexuality."
"Then what is it, Oh-Great-Vagina-Lover?" Sasuke mocks, thankful for the empty restaurant.
"It's an admirable trait in men. Quite rare, actually. Heard of it? It's called humility. You could use some, Sasuke."
A flash of light coming from outside catches Sasuke's attention. Someone pulls up to the cafe in a silver Toyota Prius.
"Itachi, I need to go and do my job."
"Hey, if it's a girl, get her number."
"I'm not going to go around picking up girls for you to sleep with."
"Baka. Not for me. For you. Then Okaa-san will stop contributing to her In-Case-Sasuke-is-Gay fund. You know, you really should date a girl."
"Goodbye Itachi." Sasuke snarls before shoving his phone into his pocket.
Two girls emerge from the front passenger and back doors before she steps out of the driver's seat. The Bishop's Girl says something to them as her car beeps locked. One of the girls—an unnatural blonde if her Japanese build was anything to go by—pumps her fist in the air before jumping the curb and wrenching open the door, leaving her two companions to follow her at a slower pace.
The first thing he notices as he watches her through the window is her hair.
The raven color is streaked with cherry blossom pink.
Strangely enough, it looks good on her.
"Oh my God, Sakura," The taller of the trio scans the menu. "You guys actually have boba. In the middle of nowhere."
The raven-cherry pink girl glares at her.
"We're in Canton, Ino, not Iowa."
"Hey now," Ino defends herself. "You never know. I live in California with our thousands, probably millions, of Asians. You expect tea shops."
"Let me repeat," Bishop's Girl sighs. "We're in Canton. Twenty minutes away from a big university. That alone gives us diversity."
The third girl tuns to her. "What's good here?"
"I dunno. Everything? I like passionfruit."
"Oh my God Tenten, they have pineapple!" Ino shrieks.
Sasuke resists the urge to roll his eyes. Is this girl seriously that stupid? The other two sigh.
"Ino, it's not like we're in the middle of nowhere or something. Of course they'll have pineapple." The panda-looking one rolls her eyes.
Bishop's taps her foot impatiently. "Are you ready yet?"
"Go first chica."
She steps up to the counter and gives him a smile that says: Tourists, right?
He smirks faintly, mentally agreeing. "What can I get you?" He asks her, fully expecting the usual passionfruit slush with boba.
"I'll have a passionfruit... green tea with boba. Large please."
"Four fifteen." He rings up her order.
Just as she pays for her drink, her phone rings. This time, her ringtone is the Pokemon theme song.
"Hello? Oh hey Neji."
She walks away from the counter. After a heated conversation with whoever called her, she hangs up and falls back in line beside Tenten. The brown-haired teen looks at her. "You're back?"
"Neji." She sighs as Tenten moves aside. "Hi, sorry, I'm back."
"It's fine." Sasuke tells her.
"Can I have a large coconut slush?"
"You want boba?"
She looks back at her two companions. "Oh come on, Saki, you know you have to get boba."
She slides a five in his direction. Sasuke drops her change in her open palm before walking off to make their orders.
He makes the Bishop's Girl's drink first, calling out her order once he seals the cup. She bounces up to the counter and thanks him before taking a seat at a table. Over the sounds of the blender and the sealer, Sasuke catches snippets of their conversation, an easy feat in a restaurant with only them in it.
"Neji is such an ass." The Bishop's Girl grumbles. "Practically demanded for me to hurry up just so he can see Tenten."
"Oh God." Ino groans. "Really? That's a little rude."
"No... really?" Sakura shoots back sarcastically. "And then he asks me to bring him boba. I wish I wasn't such a nice person."
"Oh, Saki, you know you couldn't resist someone in need." Tenten grins.
"Right. Because boba deprivation is such an urgent matter."
"Hey... it is to me!"
When they leave, Sasuke smirks.
He likes her attitude.
The cafe was for sale. Shortly after the Bishop's Girl's last visit, it was sold to a new owner who immediately closed the place for renovations. Sasuke was out of work but he wasn't jobless for long; the Japanese sushi restaurant the next street over hired him immediately.
His observation and training week at the sushi house brought in familiar faces.
"Hello again!" The owner waves to the woman. "Welcome back!"
The woman greets him back with a smile. Sasuke recognizes her from that first meeting... the one who stared at him with a strange gleam in her eyes and was seated with the Bishop's Girl and that other boy.
Speaking of the other boy, he stood next to her. "Kaa-san," His deep voice sighs. "Can I go now? I dropped you and the girls off like you asked."
"Don't be such a jerkface, Sai." The girl with the dark brown hair chides. What was her name—Tenten?
"Can it Panda-chan. I wanted to take the Z but Sakura ran off with it before I could tell her."
Sasuke smirked. So he wasn't the only one who thought this girl's hairstyle made her resemble a panda. Good to know.
"Oh fine Sai. I'll get Sakura to pick us up. She's at Shogun on the next street over anyways." The woman names the Japanese hibachi restaurant before crushing her child to her breast and allowing him to exit.
The hostess, Ms. Chu, seats them at a table by the wall. After they order their drinks, the owner stops by and exchanges a few words with them. Catching their waiter before he reaches their table, Mr. Kim, the owner, tells him to get them an order of edamame on the house.
"They're frequent customers," Mr. Kim explains in an undertone to Sasuke before heading to the back, "So remember their faces. We love to reward loyal visitors."
Sasuke nods briefly to show he understands. Remembering faces won't be hard for him, especially if they appear often.
Right before the end of the main course, the door to the small restaurant opens and in steps a familiar head of raven and pink. Sasuke's back stiffens in his chair, waiting for her to notice him, but she doesn't.
"Hello! How many?" Ms. Chu asks.
She shakes her head and explains she's joining her mother before walking over to their table and taking a seat.
Sasuke can't help but follow her with his eyes from his observational post by the cash register.
Who are you?
The last weekend of August was Sasuke's third week working at the sushi place.
"Hello!" Ms. Chu calls out her customary greeting. "How many?"
It's the woman and that girl.
She ushers them to a table for two in Sasuke's seating area.
"Sasuke, they're all yours." Ms. Chu tells him cheerfully, pushing him away from her register.
He takes a breath to collect his racing thoughts (Why are you everywhere I go? Is this some kind of joke, a sick coincidence, or are you stalking me?). "What can I get for you to drink?" Sasuke asks, his tone deceptively friendly.
The woman does not seem to recognize him as she orders a water with lemon, but the girl's green eyes widen before something in her gaze shifts and she places an order for hot tea despite her mother's disapproving stare.
By the time she hands Sasuke their sushi order form, Sasuke realizes that the Bishop's Girl knows exactly who he is and where they've met before.
"By the way," Her mother asks him after they place an order for green tea tempura ice cream sans whipped cream. "Did you used to work at that bubble tea cafe? What was it called, Sakura-chan?"
"Tapioca Express." The girl mutters, glaring at her mother.
"That's it! Did you?"
Stunned, Sasuke nods. "The owner sold the restaurant and it's under renovation." He explains.
"Oh! Do you think you'll go back once they're done? My daughter loves that place."
If looks could kill, this woman would be dead.
"She's the one who recognized you, after all."
His gaze shifts to the girl. She smiles sunnily but her eyes were still shooting daggers at her mother.
"Only because I go there so often." She answers softly.
"I don't know." Sasuke answers the woman's question. "But thanks for remembering me."
He feels like slapping himself. Why did he say that anyways?
She probably thinks he's a total dork.
The next time he sees her, it's October.
She comes into the restaurant requesting a table for a party of five—Ms. Chu seats them in Sasuke's area.
Something is up, judging by the way Sakura (with her strange hair and greengreengreen eyes, it's easy to remember her name) and her guy friend debate about seating arrangements before the rest of their party shows up. She takes her usual spot at the end facing the kitchen.
"What can I get for you to drink?"
She looks at him before glancing at her friend in alarm. "Um... hot tea."
The guy orders a Coke.
"Pepsi okay?" Sasuke asks boredly.
"Yeah." He answers, grinning at Sakura.
She leans forward to whisper something to him but unlike the bubble tea cafe, the restaurant's usual chatter drowns out everything she says.
She comes back the next weekend, requesting a table for a party of six. The flamboyant blonde and the pretty Korean girl from the weekend before are with Sakura again but they are also joined by a couple and a muscular, jock-looking kid.
"What can I get for you to drink?" He asks.
One look at her stunned expression makes him chuckle.
Why does he even bother asking?
The weekend of Halloween, she visits twice.
On the thirtieth, it's her parents, an aunt and her grandmother. They see each other but Sasuke is not waiting on her table.
A part of him is relieved.
A part of him is disappointed.
He hears his co-worker rattle off their order. Sasuke smirks when he hears the call for six orders of smoked salmon nigiri. He already knows that three of those orders are going straight to Sakura's stomach.
The next day, Halloween, she shows up with her brother. They're both dressed for the holiday as students from that manga his cousin Yuki likes to read, Vampire Knight.
His co-worker, a foreign transfer student named Ga Eul, shares an amused grin with him.
Sakura glares at her brother, arguing heatedly with him as they sit down.
"Can I get you something to drink?" Sasuke cuts in.
She sighs. "Hot tea."
"Sierra Mist. We're ready to order, by the way."
They really were frequent customers if they already knew they served only Pepsi products.
She orders udon and her brother orders shrimp tempura. It's not until he's about to take the order back to the kitchen that Sasuke realizes he forgot to ask them about the tempura.
"On that tempura order, you don't want any vegetables, right?"
The boy looks at his sister in confusion. She sighs. "Yeah. He just wants shrimp."
"I'll have to ask the kitchen if they can do that." Sasuke replies, even though he knows they can.
She frowns slightly. "They usually can, but yeah... get back to us about that."
Sasuke asks the cook, who laughs in his face and calls him silly for even doubting their ability to accommodate their customers.
Running back to their table, he kneels by her side and goes over their order one more time. Sasuke knows he's just using the tempura as an excuse to talk to her. She answers his queries softly, refusing to meet his eyes.
Sasuke realizes then that he makes her nervous.
"She looks cute." Ga Eul comments leisurely to him half an hour later. "I wish I was that tiny to look that good in that uniform."
"You know what they're doing?" Sasuke asks as he watches them.
"Cosplay, right? I didn't think anyone in America did that."
"Sai!" Sakura kicks her brother under the table. "How dare you get ice cream on my masterpiece!"
"Whoa." Ga Eul peers in for a closer look. "She made that? She's good."
"I swear to God, if you got anything else on that, I'm going to cheerfully kill you."
She comes in frequently during the holidays, usually with her large group of friends, her family, and sometimes a crowd of Japanese kids she calls "the mini Yakuza."
Sasuke usually ends up being their waiter.
He starts making lists about her, lists of facts drawn from their conversations around the table. Sometimes, he thinks he actually knows her from those lists alone.
Like... Sasuke knows she highlights her hair cherry blossom pink and has worn green contacts since her freshman year at Bishop's to further distinguish herself from her identical twin brother Sai.
Her full name is Sakura Isabel Asako Suzumura Haruno. The Isabel came from her mother's college roommate, a Spanish transfer student. Her friend Lily (the one who matches Aaron's description of the girl who was with her in the bubble tea cafe so long ago) calls her "Sakura Five-Catholic-Middle-Names Haruno" whenever she gets exasperated with the girl.
Her current major is creative writing, but she's thinking about double majoring in biochem and English. She wants to be a doctor but she wants to write as well. Sakura and her friend Christine, a nursing student, joke around about opening up their own clinic if she ever went pre-med.
She's eighteen and a freshman at the University of Michigan—Sasuke's dream school. He can't help but be a little jealous since he's stuck at the community college until he can transfer in to U of M and has enough to pay his inevitable student loans.
She shares a Toyota Prius and a Nissan 350Z with her brother. The two interchange based on what they feel like driving. Although it usually ends up in a bloody fight for the keys to the Z.
She and her entire circle of friends are obsessed with anime. And they cosplay at conventions together. From stolen glances at pictures passed around the table, Sasuke knows they're pretty good at their craft. The twelve of them went to school at Bishop's together, with the exception of Christine, who went to Canton High.
On the side, Sakura loves watching Korean dramas and listening to K-pop.
She scored a 32 on her ACT and it got her grounded for two weeks.
Her favorite band of all time is Paramore while her favorite author is Karin Slaughter.
She plays the piano and takes guitar lessons from Sai.
Her nickname for him is "the Anime Paper Boy," not in reference to is attractiveness, but due to the fact that if she stuffed him into any cosplay of her choice, he'd look exactly like the character. At this, Sasuke has to smother his laughter. Doesn't she realize that by calling him an "Anime Paper Boy," she is also indirectly complimenting him? Wouldn't an anime-obsessed person realize that by now?
Although Sasuke's favorite fact about her is the one about her complete lack of a love life.
Never been kissed.
Never been in love.
Never had a boyfriend.
It makes him wonder if in some alternate universe, he could be the one to change that.
The next time he sees her walk in with a girl he's never seen before, Sasuke knows there's something different about her visit.
It was the Saturday before Valentine's Day and everyone who had walked in was on a date to celebrate the holiday.
Her companion, an older girl she calls Shizune, turns around every so often to study him before Sakura reaches out and slaps her on the arm.
He's not their waiter tonight. Han, the new guy, has taken over the wall area.
"There's no way in hell I'm letting you date a twenty-one-year-old." Sasuke suddenly hears as he walks by their table carrying a carafe of sake.
Sasuke tenses. Is she taken?
Why does he even care?
"SHIZUNE! I don't even like him! Besides, you wanted me to profile the Anime Paper Boy, so I am. I'm guessing twenty-one because of the sake."
Sasuke smirks and he feels himself relax.
Doesn't she know you only have to be eighteen to serve alcohol?
"He's cute though. Not my type."
"Right. Because your type happens to look like Justin Timberlake."
"Shut up Sakura."
That night, he knows he has her attention.
And that she's also making lists about him.
Sasuke can't help but feel ridiculously pleased.
(I wonder what she's written?)
She comes back in April, the weekend of Easter, for a party.
A large table for ten is set. Judging by the squeals and the "Oh my God, you're here"s, this is a reunion of some sorts.
Han, overwhelmed by their number and their energy, begs for Sasuke to help him out.
"Take pity on me and help out a friend."
"You're not my friend." Sasuke points out bluntly. "You're my co-worker."
Han gapes at him in disbelief. "Then starting today, we're friends who happen to be working together. And friends help out friends."
Sasuke is tempted to say no.
"You're here! I miss you soooo much!"
But the sound of her voice makes him reconsider.
"Fine." Sasuke consents. "But take all their drink orders. I'll help you out with serving dinner."
"Deal." Han breathes a sigh of relief. "I owe you man."
The pretty Korean girl (he figured out her name was Kira), Lily, Sakura, and Christine all sit in a line down one side of the table. Sakura isn't sitting at her usual place at the end of the table because Christine beat her to that seat.
"What can I get you to drink?" Han asks them.
He knows what she's going to get.
(Hot tea—his mind whispers.)
True to his word, Sasuke helps Han serve dinner.
"Sakura!" He hears Kira hiss. Suddenly, Sasuke feels three different gazes trained on him. He ignores them.
"Dude." Han gapes during a break. "Does it always get this busy?"
"Only on Friday and Saturday nights." Sasuke shrugs as he leans against the sushi bar counter.
"Waiter!" Another table calls for Han's attention.
"Damn. Listen, can you get that large table's dessert? Green tea tempura ice cream-"
—Sasuke immediately knows who ordered it before Han says—
"-For the two Asian girls."
"I'll be there!" Han hollers back. "Thanks Sasuke."
He sighs as he heads back into the kitchen. "Whatever."
Sasuke finds the dessert easily enough and picks it up, remembering to grab two spoons on his way out. Setting it down before Sakura (only because she's closer and easier to get to—his mind rationalizes), Sasuke hands them both a spoon and leaves them to their dessert.
He comes back to pick up the empty plate.
"Can I get you anything else to drink?" Sasuke asks the people at one end. Her end.
She is drinking the last of her tea when she sputters and starts coughing. Instead of rubbing her back to ease the fire in her throat, Lily nudges her hard in the ribs, making Sakura yelp in surprise.
"I'm dying here and all you can do is put me in more pain? What kind of friend are you?" Sakura shrieks, completely unaware of Sasuke's nearby presence.
"I'll take a glass of water." Christine says, catching Sakura's attention.
When her head turns to look at her friend, she catches sight of him staring at her. Immediately, her head whips back around to look at her smirking friend.
"I hate you oh so very fucking much."
"Love you too Sakura."
She comes in May for Mother's Day.
Mrs. Haruno beams at her daughter when Sasuke appears to take their drink orders.
Sai shoots his sister a pointed look. She sighs and shakes her head.
As the Harunos eat their usual dessert (green tea tempura ice cream), Mrs. Haruno stops him.
"Excuse me, but what's your name?"
Her husband sighs at his wife's antics while his children share horrified (embarrassed) glances.
She comes in July to say goodbye.
The mini Yakuza walks in an hour and a half before closing. Sasuke recognizes all of them as customers to the restaurant at some point or another, together or with their respective families, during the year.
There's Sakura, Sai, a gangly teenage boy with weird, long brown hair, a girl with purple highlights, and a lean, bleached blonde boy.
Sasuke looks at them and notices the way the blonde seats himself next to Sakura, pushing Purple Highlights to the next chair over, making her protest angrily. Sakura says something—a reprimand, judging by her slight frown—to the blonde. He rubs the back of his head and gives Purple Highlights an apologetic hug.
Sasuke stands in between them at the corner as he takes their orders for drinks.
"God, I don't know what to get. I only have a twenty on me." The Weirdo peruses the menu.
"It's on me guys." Sakura tells them.
"Seriously?" The blonde's eyes go wide. "God, Saki, you're the best!"
Sai chuckles at his sister as she ponders her words further.
"Am I going to regret this?" She asks Purple Highlights across from her.
Her friend giggles. "Maybe? But seriously, you are the best."
He watches them throughout their visit, since the other two patrons are not half as entertaining. They all lean their heads together, whispering and occasionally laughing.
"Naruto!" Sakura swats him on the arm as they lean back in their chairs. "That's sick!"
"I'm a teenage boy." Naruto answers smugly as the others laugh.
Sasuke watches those two in particular. What is their relationship? Why does Naruto subtly flirt with her and the Weirdo doesn't? Why does her smile seem brighter for Naruto and not for the others?
He's not jealous, only curious.
Purple Highlight's eyes light up.
"Green tea ice cream, please." Sakura smiles.
Ms. Chu rings up their bill. Just as she's about to key in the ice cream, Sasuke stops her.
"Put it on the house."
"What?" She asks, confused. After all, this is Sasuke Uchiha they're talking about, Mr. I'm-too-cool-for-everybody, as Han put it once.
"Just do it. Deduct it from my pay if you really feel like charging for it."
"Are you sick?" Ms. Chu gapes at him as she rips the receipt out from the printer.
Assembling the folder (sushi order form stapled to the printed receipt in the left pocket), Sasuke answers curtly, "Do you remember that lecture Mr. Kim gives everybody about remembering frequent customers' faces and rewarding their loyalty?"
"What about it?"
"That's what I'm doing."
Ms. Chu lets out a laugh. "Oh. I thought this was your way of making a move on that girl."
Sasuke freezes for just a moment.
"Don't be ridiculous." He mutters as he walks away from the register.
When he hands her the bill and she scans the items on the receipt, Sasuke remembers to tell her the ice cream is on the house.
Her shocked expression is priceless. But she collects herself.
"Thank you!" She smiles brightly at him in appreciation.
Sasuke walks away feeling smug.
Can you make her smile as bright, Naruto-dobe?
When she walks into the restaurant dressed in a t-shirt that reads, "It's safer to assume I'm a NINJA," and a pair of black shorts, Sasuke can't help but stare.
There's something different about the way she looks.
Maybe it's standing next to her friend that emphasizes her lack of height.
Maybe it's the dazzling silver ring on her right middle finger that catches his attention as she sweeps a stray hair out of her eyes.
Maybe it's the way she keeps gesturing to her legs, forcing Sasuke's gaze to follow her arm movements.
He helps Han set up a table for fourteen at the edge of Sasuke's serving area. Ms. Chu waves them over. Predictably, Sakura takes a seat at the end.
She's gone when Sasuke asks her friend what she wants to drink. When she comes back, Sasuke finds her chatting with her friend and watching the door.
"What do you want to drink?"
She jumps before swiveling around to face him. Her eyes go wide with surprise before she smiles and says, "Hot tea please."
Her flamboyant blonde friend walks in through the door carrying a black dress. Behind him, Kira carries a dark t-shirt in her arms. Both are dressed in some otherworldly outfits. It takes Sasuke a moment to realize that they're wearing the exact same clothes from the poster hanging on his anime-obsessed older brother's wall. Moments after, a regularly dressed teen and a (Man? Woman?) person in black and white follow them to their table.
"It's about time you got here." Sakura jumps out of her chair.
"Quick—change. She'll be here any minute." Kira hands Katy the bundle in her harms and gestures to the dress in the blonde's hands.
Sakura takes the dress and runs to the bathroom. When she emerges five minutes later, Katy runs into the bathroom next.
Sasuke sets down her cup of tea. "Thanks." She murmurs, stripping all her jewelry off.
More and more people in costume join their table.
"SURPRISE! HAPPY EIGHTEENTH BIRTHDAY LILY!"
Lily laughs. "You guys..."
Throughout dinner, he hears his name often. It's not difficult to eavesdrop on their conversation when they're sitting two feet away from his usual post by the cash register next to Han and Ms. Chu.
"Sakura!" A guy on the end hollers. "Lily would like for you to hit on the Anime Paper Boy as her birthday gift."
Her jaw goes slack.
"Oh hell no. Not when I just ran up and down Twelve Oaks looking for a stupid stand that doesn't exist."
"Sakura doesn't even like him." Christine reminds the guy.
The flamboyant blonde turns to her. "Saki sweetie, you should!"
"No! That's your sick fantasy, not mine! You just want me to date him so you can say that I am!"
"But he's one damn fine catch!"
"You're gay, Mark. You think every Asian guy you run into is a catch."
"But it's true! Especially in this case."
"Stuff it, Mark."
Sasuke feels a chill go down his spine when he makes eye contact with the blonde.
He's been hit on by lots of girls before and has several phone numbers written on the back of receipts collecting dust in the back room. But this is the first time Sasuke has ever been hit on by a guy.
Dinner goes by without further mention of Sasuke's nickname. He stands at his usual post by the register with Han. They're close enough to listen to and entertaining enough to be worth listening to. There is no limit to what they discuss. One minute, they're discussing the gay nightclub in downtown Detroit and the next, they're talking about the best way to drive to Canada. Sakura and Katy compare Kira to famous and beautiful Korean celebrities, pulling up pictures on Mark's iPhone as reference before Kira changes the topic to the last episode of Kuroshitsuji, sparking a heated rant between the two Asians. Then, Mark starts up on Sakura's nonexistent love life.
"Sakura, I don't understand you sometimes."
"What's there to understand?"
"You're freakin' gorgeous—"
"—That's true—" Kira interjects.
Sakura shoots her a withering glance. "Oh you shut up. You're prettier than me by a long shot."
"—And there are lots of guys hitting on you but you don't want any of them. I don't get it. Are you waiting for something?"
"The Paper Boy!" Kira giggles, making Katy laugh out loud.
Her glare intensifies. "Can it you. The Paper Boy has nothing to do with this."
"You should date him!" Mark urges. "Oh Sasuke... I love you..." He sighs dramatically.
How the hell do they know my name? Sasuke wonders to himself, feeling like his privacy has been intruded upon.
"I already told you: I am not hitting on or dating a complete and total stranger. For starters, that's super creepy and I am not a creeper like you, Mark. Besides, how do you know his name?"
My thoughts exactly. I knew there was a reason why I liked you.
"Um... you told me."
"Right. My mom asked. That's embarrassing."
"Oh I know!" Kira's face lights up.
Sasuke doesn't hear the rest of their conversation because another table has called for his attention.
(Sasuke hates being called 'waiter' like he was born to serve)
"-could you bring us some lemons?"
What the hell do you need lemons for? You don't have water.
"Sure. I'll be back." Sasuke answers coolly.
In the kitchen, Paolo the cook stares at Sasuke like he's grown another head.
"Oh I don't know, but nothing is impossible if it accommodates the customer's needs." Sasuke sarcastically throws Paolo's own words back at him.
The cook lightly glares.
"I liked you better when you didn't speak." Paolo grudginlgy hands over a small plastic dish of lemon wedges.
When he passes by their party ten minutes after the lemons incident, Mark grabs his attention.
"Can I ask you a question?" Mark grins.
"Sure." Sasuke answers easily, moving around to grab an empty cup on the table to refill it.
"Do you think she's pretty?"
Sasuke pauses and looks at who Mark is pointing at. To his amusement, his finger points directly at Kira.
"Not me! Not me, you moron! You were supposed to ask about Sakura!" Kira flails her arms, her face red.
Sakura laughs. "Good move, my dear gay bestie. Kira needs someone to boost her self-confidence."
Sasuke gives them an amused smirk before quietly answering, "Yes," and walking back to the kitchen to refill their friend's empty cup.
When he returns to his usual post, they're discussing how to retain some semblance of dignity.
"I should have never told you that plan and just done it myself." Kira grumbles as Sasuke swipes Sakura's empty tea cup off the table.
"More tea?" He asks Christine at the opposite end.
She nods gratefully and hands him her tea cup.
When he returns, Mark grabs his attention again. Sasuke stops beside Sakura, setting down a new cup of tea by her hand.
"Got another question for you."
"Shoot." Sasuke nods.
"Do you think she's pretty?" He points to Sakura.
"Mark!" She screeches, her face red.
Sasuke glances down at her and smiles faintly at the sight of her embarrassed face.
He answers softly before running back to the kitchen for no reason whatsoever.
"What's up with you?" Han asks him, carrying a platter of sushi.
"Nothing." Sasuke answers abruptly before smirking triumphantly to himself.
"Sasuke! Can you take this to table twelve?" Paolo yells.
When he walks by the table again, Katy, Kira, and Sakura's faces are hidden from view with a bewildered Mark laughing at them.
"I'm embarrassed to be in the same company of you." Sakura mutters.
After that embarrassing incident, Sasuke continues to see her throughout the year.
In March, she walks in with Shizune, Purple Highlights, Tenten, and Ino.
"Happy Birthday Sakura!" Purple Highlights hugs her as they enter the sushi house.
She grins sheepishly.
"Thanks Hinata. Although, was it necessary to lock Sai in a closet on his birthday too?"
"Oh screw your brother." Ino replies flippantly. "Because what we want to accomplish cannot be done in the younger twin's presence."
She frowns. "Ino..."
"Over here!" Ms. Chu waves them to their table in the center—Sasuke's serving area.
Han grins when he sees them and gives Sasuke a nudge in the arm.
"You should talk to her."
Sasuke gives him a look.
"Oh c'mon man." Han cajoles him. "You know you want to. Quit being such an anti-social freak and grab the girl's number. She's practically in the palm of your hand."
"She doesn't even like me." Sasuke points out. "And she's not in the palm of my hand."
"Just go. Strike up a conversation."
Sasuke sighs before heading over to their table. They haven't noticed him until he clears his throat and asks his customary question.
"Um... Sprite." Shizune requests.
"Sierra Mist, okay?"
"Dr. Pepper for me!" Tenten bounces in her chair.
"Lemonade, please." Hinata says.
Ino looks up over her menu. "Just water."
"Lemon with that?"
"Sure, why not?"
Finally, his favorite.
Sakura smiles wryly. "Is there really any point of asking me anymore?"
Smirking, Sasuke answers, "I'll be back with your tea."
He brings them their food.
"Anything for dessert?"
"Can I see what you have on your menu?" Shizune asks.
Sasuke considers telling the girl that bringing her a menu was pointless since he could just tell her but he decides against it. Returning a few moments later, Sasuke wordlessly hands it to her and leaves.
"Paolo, make an order of green tea tempura ice cream." Sasuke walks back into the kitchen.
"Got it, kid. Say, is your girlfriend in today?"
"I have no idea what you're talking about." Sasuke replies over his shoulder.
"One ticket?" Sasuke asks as they polish off the rest of their dessert.
"Yeah. And give it to me please." Sakura requests.
"Oh no." Shizune chides her. "It's your birthday. The birthday girl does not pay."
"Watch me." Sakura shoots back.
Ms. Chu rings up their ticket. "Hey, it's that pink haired girl's birthday, right?"
Sasuke shrugs. "I guess so."
The ticket prints out and Ms. Chu rips it out from the machine.
"Tell her the ice cream is on us." She smiles as she staples it to their order form.
Sasuke grabs the folder but Ms. Chu holds him back.
"Be sure to wish her happy birthday. And get her phone number." She laughs at him.
The back of his neck grows warm.
"Whatever." Sasuke mumbles as he walks away.
He hands her the bill as she requested. Shizune makes a dive for it but Sakura holds it out of reach.
"This is so unfair. You're shorter than all of us but we can't even snatch the bill away from you." Shizune pouts.
"Get over it." Sakura laughs as she sticks her card in the folder and hands it back to Sasuke.
Han swipes her card, taking a moment to read the name printed on it.
"Sakura Haruno, huh?" He grins suggestively as the receipts print out. "Pretty name."
He says nothing.
"By the way," Sasuke mentions as he hands Sakura back the folder. "The hostess wishes you happy birthday. And that the ice cream is on us."
She looks up from reading the receipt.
When he comes back to pick up the folder, they stand up to leave.
"Thank you for coming!" Ms. Chu waves.
They wave back. "Thanks for having us!" Ino yells back.
Sasuke opens up the folder, preparing to input the numbers into the computer. His eyes widen slightly at the generous tip (thirteen dollars for a sixty-three dollar meal) but he thinks nothing more of it.
An impression showing through the receipt catches Sasuke's attention and he flips the small slip of paper over.
Thanks for everything and for helping make this birthday memorable. :)
Something else catches Sasuke's eye. Another note scribbled at the top of the stapled order form is addressed to "the Anime Paper Boy."
She's totally going to kill me for this, but here's her number: 7346724468
Han peers over his shoulder and claps him on the shoulder. Sasuke winces at the contact.
"I knew you could do it." He grins.
He's about to throw away the order form, but he stops to tear off the note and slips it into his pocket before tossing the rest of the form in the trash.
Maybe just this once.