What's this? A humor fic? Where I make fun of Sasuke? Then I pair Naruto with another boy? I really need to write a fic where Naruto isn't one half of the pairing.
Have I worked on PTPF? Why, no I haven't, but thank you for asking. Why not, you ask, especially when this appears to be a completely new and different fic? To which I reply, because other authors do. If other authors jumped off a cliff, would I? Yes, of course, but that is because I can fly.
Title: The Losers Game
A/N: This was written 4 years ago. I want to hear no critiques about what happened in canon time line since then.
Rating: PG-13ish for the time being.
Disclaimer: No, I am not a Japanese man, although people say I look like one.
Summary: Sasuke's inconsiderate capture and return to Konoha upsets the momentum of Team Kakashi.
Warnings: Boys with special feelings for other boys.
Had he planned on returning to Konoha? No, he hadn't. Did he come willingly? Yes. Although that was more because he could tell when there was no point in fighting if the end result would be the same.
At least that way he could be conscious and walk through the gates.
At the trial, Kakashi was chosen to speak on character behalf. Perhaps they figured it was as impartial as they could get while having someone who actually knew him well enough.
Then he was placed into a prison cell after they pretended to debate about giving him the death penalty. Maybe they would, but not before they plucked his eyes from his skull or forced him to reproduce.
Or was he subject to delusion when it came to estimating how valuable the sharingan was to Konoha? Orochimaru had made a big enough deal over it, of course, it wasn't until Kimimaro had become crippled by disease that the snake sennin had begun to look elsewhere.
Still, there was the rumor that Orochimaru's eyes had first landed on Itachi. Not that it really mattered who had Orochimaru's interest because the estranged sennin was in Sound, which right now, was a very long way from Konoha and Sasuke.
It was probably ridiculous how easy the younger Uchiha found himself getting off, considering.
Solitary confinement for three months to include a prison term totaling a year at the most was the sentence. This was to be followed by very strict parole and confinement to the village, which included no less than a four-man squad of ANBU tailing him for the following five years.
It was all done very quietly, the whole affair, and everyone involved in his capture and trial were subject to an order of secrecy under penalty of death. The details of his punishment weren't to leave the room where his sentencing took place. The reasons behind that, he didn't know, but he had a strong suspicion that it had to do with politics and to an equal or lesser extent, the Akatsuki.
More precisely: Uchiha Itachi, who was still very much alive.
He was prepared to have regular doctor exams in the future, in particular, concerning his eyes, even if it hadn't been announced to him yet.
Probably regular checks on his curse seal, too.
It was with a great deal of surprise that when only six months had passed that an escort appeared at his cell, introducing themselves as ANBU squad seventeen, and explaining that he would be in their custody for the time being.
In other words, he was free to go.
He hadn't had any visitors because he wasn't allowed to, nor was he given a cellmate, because he was deemed 'too dangerous'. So in reality, the three months in solitary compared to the three months out differed mainly in that out of solitary, there was more lighting and he at least saw the guard when his meals were delivered. In solitary, they had been slid through a slot on the door.
He was led to the office of the Hokage, blindfolded, because ANBU knew alternate routes through the buildings that weren't authorized for general knowledge, much less a convicted traitor.
Two ANBU walked ahead of him, two behind.
When they stepped into the office, however, he was pushed down into a seat and then they retreated.
"You can take off the blindfold."
He reached behind his head and tugged at the knot until the cloth loosened and fell away.
She was expressionless, elbows on her desk and hands folded together.
Orochimaru rarely mentioned his former comrades, but he had said that she was one to watch out for. Use caution when dealing with her.
He suspected on some level, the snake sennin may have feared her. She shifted, and he tensed, until he saw her grab a packet of paper and pick it up so she could read it.
"Uchiha Sasuke, you are hereby released from imprisonment into the hands of ANBU squad seventeen. You are placed on probation for a period of no less than five years. During this time you are not to leave the village under any circumstances unless I personally instruct otherwise. You will not engage in terrorist activities against Konoha. You will not attempt to contact any associate from Sound or her allies. You will not engage in a career as a shinobi, instead you will find other employment… Jeez, how long does this thing go on? You've got the gist of it, right? Good, sign on the line, initial and date it."
She pushed the stapled packet of paper across the desk and handed him a pen.
"There's three copies there, make sure you get them all."
After he had signed his name all the required times, she took the papers back, removed the last set, which consisted of a few pages, and re-stapled them.
"This is your copy, become familiar with it. Stay out of trouble and good luck. Dismissed."
She said this all in a very business-like tone, not once changing her expression from neutral. He had been expecting… something different. Maybe a scolding?
The four ANBU flanked him again as he stood up. They were ushering him to the door when her voice halted them.
"One more thing. Team Kakashi has been informed of your return. Try and play nice."
There was a smile on her face like she was the predator, and he was caught in a trap he couldn't see.
Not sure what he was expected to do, he nodded and was led out.
Kakashi had the foresight to know he would need pills strong enough to control migraines for the week.
"So you knew."
"We've been over this, haven't we?" he asked, flipping through his book.
"You testified at his trial and you didn't tell us, Kakashi-sensei," Sakura said, her voice taking on a very dangerous tone as she entered the conversation.
"Hokage's orders." Ah, yes, one of his favorite scenes. Dog-eared, even.
"When we kept saying it was important for us to train so we could bring back Sasuke, you knew he was already back, and you didn't say anything!" Naruto growled.
"It's important for you to have proper motivation," he replied, mostly ignoring the two, as he re-read a passage for probably the twentieth time since he had bought the book.
"Kakashi-sensei, I can kill you with a single punch if I really wanted to."
"You'd have to catch me first, Sakura."
"I'm sure Naruto will help hold you down." There was a hasty agreement to that statement from the blonde.
"That might present a problem for me."
"It might," she agreed.
He set the book down and looked at them gravely before a cheery expression took up the visible quarter of his face.
"Well, with all that energy you two have this morning, why don't we put it to good use!"
One could almost see dancing hearts above his head.
Naruto was very sore after training, so he decided that he could probably use some Ichiraku ramen.
When he got to the stand, he noticed a shinobi with dark hair seated.
"Back from your mission, I take it?"
"You missed out on training."
Dark eyes swept over him.
"You look like shit."
"Kakashi was getting revenge, I think. So that would be why."
"I think you misunderstood me. I meant that you usually look that way."
"You're lucky that I'm too tired to pound your face into the back of your head, Sai."
"Not that you could, considering the size of your-"
"Hey guys! How was the mission, Sai?" Sakura sat down on the other side of Naruto, sounding far more chipper than she looked.
"Great! I didn't have to see your ugly face all week."
Sai was very fortunate Naruto was in between them.
The two original members of Team 7 ordered their food, and tried to keep from falling asleep at the counter.
"So he's back," Sai stated, not needing to say who. The two beside him immediately stiffened before forcing themselves to relax.
"Yeah…" Sakura said, staring at the countertop.
Sai's vision was focused on Naruto, whose eyes had narrowed as he drummed his fingers on his leg.
When he decided that Naruto wasn't going to say anything, he continued, "Kind of anticlimactic, isn't it? You've been training like dogs to bring him back, but he's simply arrested and brought in. Does that mean you've wasted the last few years of your lives?"
Despite all the time he spent with Sai, Naruto still wasn't always sure when the other shinobi was saying things to purposely piss them off or because he didn't know any better.
This was one of those times.
Naruto was spared from answering when their food was set in front of them.
Sasuke soon found that the team that led him out of his jail cell was not his permanent set of watchdogs. After some inquiry, he discovered that they and two other teams were on a rotation.
He hadn't been given any names to identify any of them, whether real or made up, so he assigned each ANBU a number. He had spent a week with one-through-four, and tomorrow he would be meeting five-through-eight.
He still had not seen anyone he had known before his departure. Although he had received a message from Kakashi telling him to expect a visit sometime during the second week.
He figured he'd see his former instructor in week four.
So far, his return was incredibly boring. He had attempted to go to the library the third day, but he was denied a library card. He was given some bullshit of needing to have occupied his current address for so much time.
So then he filled out a request for a card with one of the offices in the Hokage building –he wasn't sure which, because the form was retrieved by one of the ANBU. The man must have been just as bored as he was, because he had volunteered.
By the sixth day, he had received the card, but it was to be kept in the hands of the ANBU team assigned to him, and they would also be selecting and checking out his books for him.
They had thought it was hilarious to bring him children's books. Of course, by the end of the day, he had ended up reading them, and so had two of the ANBU.
They wouldn't even let him have paper and something to write with, because one of them knew of a shinobi who used his artwork to battle by using chakra to more or less, bring the drawings to life.
They didn't even let him use a knife to spread butter. In fact, according to what they had decided, he was really only authorized to sit on the futon in the middle of the room all day. They were only slightly more lenient.
It wouldn't be so bad if the assigned apartment at least had some decoration. Every wall was bare and aside from the couch in the living room, the only other furniture in the apartment was the sleeping mat, which wasn't really furniture at all.
It was really just the kitchen and the living room which were, basically, the same room, although clearly separate, a bathroom, and a bedroom.
He wasn't even allowed in the bathroom by himself, which was more than a little awkward, but he did his best not to show it, while the ANBU did their best not to look.
The first few nights, he really didn't sleep because it was difficult when you were being watched, but he eventually just got too tired. It helped when he determined that they weren't going to try and kill him out of spite.
Aside from their paranoia, he really could've done worse. They didn't treat him badly, although they occasionally tried to use him to relieve their boredom by serving him meals that had all been dyed blue or moving the couch each time after he sat down on it or other really crappy pranks.
Even that probably wouldn't have been so bad, except that ANBU number three had a habit of whistling "The Pied Piper" on the few occasions they left the apartment and they got into formation.
Maybe the next team could at least get him some decent books.
Kakashi showed up the second week as he said he would, surprising Sasuke. What shocked him even more was he had brought his team with him. All three of them…
Number six answered the door when the knock was heard, and after a brief conversation in hushed tones, Kakashi stepped in, followed by the rest of his team.
Sakura was the first one in after Kakashi, looking a little nervous. Naruto followed her, his expression annoyed and directed at the last one to enter.
If Sasuke's memory served him correctly, his name was Sai. He had barely met him, hardly enough to form much of an opinion, but he generally disliked most people, so he therefore disliked Sai.
"Good afternoon, Sasuke," Kakashi said cheerily, at least being polite enough not to be reading his book, for the moment.
He could see the hand itching at the small pack on his waist where he kept his reading material.
Sakura was trying to smile at him, and faltering.
Naruto was giving Sai one final glare, then turned towards him. For some reason, Sasuke felt annoyed, mostly by the presence of his 'replacement'. There was no reason for Sai to show up.
"Good afternoon," Sakura finally said, voice lowered and with a trace of sadness.
She had wanted him back, hadn't she? Then why did she sound that way?
"Welcome back, bastard," Naruto, at least, sounded normal.
He stared at them. He wondered if they knew he hadn't wanted to come back, hadn't intended to. He wondered if they suspected that he planned to escape this miserable village as soon as everyone's guard relaxed.
Itachi's heart was still beating, after all.
Knowing he should reply in some way, he nodded his head. It seemed enough to satisfy them.
Sakura was the first to move, seating herself on the couch, but not too close to him, as if he might grab her wrist in his teeth and bite. It was… not what he had expected from her. She tried to smile at him, but it failed before it even fully formed and if she couldn't plaster on a smile that she didn't mean, then she must've changed, somewhat.
Naruto walked around to the back of the couch, leaning on it with his elbows between Sasuke and Sakura, letting his arms hang down in between them.
"Have you eaten lunch yet?"
His eyes focused on the blonde boy –almost a man- who wasn't really looking at him, but more at his own hands.
"Then let's go out to Ichiraku, if you can leave, that is."
To his surprise, Sakura readily agreed, flashing Naruto a quick smile, looking relieved, and why, he wasn't quite sure.
Again, he nodded his head, and the first hint of a smile lighted on Naruto's face.
He saw, out of the corner of his eye, how Sai's plastic grin widened slightly and he thought it might crack.
It was the quietest meal Sasuke had ever eaten with his former team. On his left, Sakura would keep trying to start a thread of conversation, but cut herself off before she could finish the first sentence every time.
Kakashi was reading, but Sasuke knew he was watching. If common sense didn't tell him that, then his training did.
Naruto, who was sitting to Sasuke's right, was busy eating and trying to ignore Sai, who was on the blonde's other side.
Eventually, Naruto began to slow in his eating from the virtual inhalation he had been engaged in.
"You can eat as much as you want, but it's not going to make your penis any bigger," Sai said, placing a hand on Naruto's shoulder to make sure he had his attention.
Sasuke's gaze fell to the hand on Naruto, and it must've lingered a moment too long, because when he glanced up, he noticed Sai looking at him with a strange light in his eyes. For a moment it appeared as though the boy had stumbled onto some sort of puzzle and had decided to put it together as soon as he looked at the picture on the box.
"Naruto, we're going to the library this evening, aren't we?" Sai asked.
The blonde made a face, but nodded.
"Sakura, you're still coming, right?" Naruto asked, stuffing more noodles into his mouth.
"Yeah, Tsunade-sensei wanted me to research blood clotting jutsus."
Sasuke fought against raising an eyebrow. When he was still a member of Team 7, they had never really done much of anything together, and there's no way he ever would've imagined Naruto in a library.
They ended up making small chat around him, mostly consisting of Naruto and Sakura, before they all decided they were done and they got up, followed by the ANBU team in the corner getting up, and returned to the small apartment.
Kakashi explained that they had to get back to training, and they were about to leave when Sasuke made a snap decision for a reason he didn't really understand.
The girl turned toward him as she stopped heading out the door, causing Sai to stop who was behind her, and Naruto to run into Sai, who smiled and made a rude comment about Naruto's abilities as a shinobi and the relation it had to the size of a certain part of his anatomy.
She looked at him expectantly, not ecstatic like she might have once been, but looking slightly uncomfortable, and maybe a little apprehensive.
"Yes, Sasuke… kun?" He noticed how she forced the suffix, but ignored it for the moment.
"When you go to the library, could you get me a book?"
"What kind of book?"
"It doesn't matter. I'm sure you can pick out something I would like." It was the closest thing to a conversation Sasuke had since before his incarceration in a Konoha prison.
She smiled, hesitantly, but it was a genuine smile.
"Sure. I bet Naruto could help me."
"Yeah, we'll find something for you!" Naruto said, flashing him the first real smile since he stepped through the door earlier that day.
Sasuke didn't return either of their smiles, but nodded.
"So that was awkward," Sakura said once Kakashi had disappeared off to wherever it was that he went. Naruto and Sakura had always felt it was best not to ask.
"I'm actually kind of glad that it's over," Naruto agreed, sheepishly.
"Is it because he has a bigger pe-"
"No, Sai, it's not!"
"He doesn't have a bigger penis? I didn't realize they made them that small."
"But, he's back, and that's the important thing, isn't it?" Sakura smiled, completely ignoring Sai.
"Yeah. He just… I…"
"I know, I didn't know what to say, either."
"He probably didn't want to spend his time talking to someone as ugly as you, anyway."
"This wasn't how I pictured it happening."
"Me neither," Sakura agreed.
"Well, there's always next time! We are the unbeatable Team Kakashi plus Sai!" Naruto said, thrusting a fist into the air and grinning widely, as much for his benefit as hers. Her mouth spread wide across her face and she giggled. Sai smiled and mentioned something about how he was necessary due to Naruto's inadequacies as a shinobi.
When they stepped foot inside the library, they felt more determined.
"I'm going to the medical section. I'll meet you two at our table."
Naruto nodded at her before following Sai to whatever section he felt like visiting that day.
Unsurprisingly, Sai headed towards the reference section where he usually went for researching human social interactions. What made Naruto pause was when after making a couple of selections, Sai also grabbed one on romantic relationships.
"Have a girl you're interested in?" Naruto laughed. Sai just smiled at him before walking over to the table where they usually sat. Naruto snickered on the way back, grabbing a few magazines from one of the racks as he sat next to Sai. Sakura was already studying, but looked up when they sat down, her eyes falling to the same book that had caught Naruto's attention.
"Who's the girl?"
"I thought I saw something earlier and I want to see if it meant what I thought it did," he said, smiling.
The two original members of Team 7 shot comments back and forth about it for a moment longer before being absorbed in their reading material.
Sai flipped through the pages of his book, confused by much of it, unable to see any reasoning behind many of the traditions. There was a brief section on jealousy that he read word-for-word, and felt a genuine smile spread across his face.
He scanned through the rest of the book until near the end, when he saw a section for same-sex relationships.
His interest was caught for the rest of the time they spent at the library.
When they visited Sasuke the next day to take him out to lunch and force conversation into his ears until they bled, they also brought the books they had checked out for him.
Naruto shoved a stack of fashion and teen girl magazines at him, smiling wide and snickering. Sakura smacked him on the back of the head, but Sasuke noticed the pull at the corner of her mouth as she tried not to grin as well.
Then she handed him a book on the local wetlands, a history on the last shinobi war, and a volume from the Icha Icha Paradise series.
He raised an eyebrow at the last one.
"You could stand to loosen up, Sasuke-kun," she said, a teasing glint to her eyes.
He blinked at her, before placing the book down on the couch.
"Kakashi didn't come?"
"He said to meet him at six tonight," Naruto said, waving a hand in the air.
"Which means nine, and we'll have night ops training," Sakura explained, dismissively.
Sasuke didn't reply.
Again Sasuke found himself sandwiched between Sakura and Naruto, as if they felt they had a better chance of grabbing him should he decide to escape and should the ANBU at the exits lose their touch. Sai sat on Naruto's right like the day before.
This time, however, Naruto and Sakura managed to fill up the silence with chatter. They seemed to have decided that the best way to get over awkwardness was to just have a conversation with each other instead of trying to think of things to say to him.
"They closed down the weapons shop near my apartment," Naruto mentioned, twisting some noodles around his chopsticks.
"Yeah, I heard that. They were bought out by the guy who owns the shop near the chunnin administration building. You didn't like the owner of the one near you, though, right?"
"He didn't like me. The one near the chunnin building? He's married to the woman who manages the bakery near the Hokage tower, isn't he?"
"I think so… or maybe it's his sister. Why are we eating at Ichiraku again?"
"It's his wife. I like her, she usually gives me a couple extras when I get a dozen of anything. Said I remind her of her nephew. Because I like ramen and you never spoke up when I decided we were coming here."
"I didn't know she had a nephew. For some reason I always thought she had been an only child. Next time we'll go to Takahashi's, they're having a special on yakitori this week."
"That's next to my art supplies store," Sai spoke up.
Sasuke glanced briefly at the dark haired member of his former team.
"Then it's settled. Takahashi's," Sakura said, looking at Naruto for his agreement.
"Fine by me. That's where you get your art stuff? Do you want to stop there?"
"I need more inks."
"Can you do tattoos?" Naruto asked.
"I've never tried it. Do you want one?"
"No. I'm just wondering what you do with all that ink, because I thought you just bought some last week."
"I don't see you use it that much."
"I don't use it only for jutsus. I make regular drawings, too."
"Anything. Things or people I see."
"People? So do you draw me?"
Sasuke's eyes shot to the dark haired shinobi again.
"No, I'm eating."
"Well, later. You can do it before we go to meet Kakashi tonight."
"Fine, come with me to my apartment when we're done eating," Sai answered, then his eyes landed on Sasuke's, who realized he had been watching the artist longer than he had intended. Sai smiled, and put an arm around Naruto, who threw a glance at him before resuming his meal.
Sasuke glared without really knowing why.
A/N: I don't know what happened to my usual writing style, but this feels off, somehow. Not entirely sure why.
I think Sai has almost completely desensitized me from the word 'penis'. Almost.
If you couldn't tell, I was practicing conversation writing.
I already posted this on my LJ way back when. This is meant to be 3 parts long. I am currently writing the third and I need to go over the second before posting.