~A Dangerous Game~

Chapter VIII: Too Hot, Too Crowded
(Too Jam Packed with Sexual Tension)

(AN) Thanks a bunch to my readers, and extra thanks to those of you that review! I make sure to read every review – I get great pleasure and inspiration to continue writing out of reading that you guys are enjoying my story, and I put great consideration into any constructive criticism I receive. Please R&R and enjoy!

Sakura had not packed to go clubbing.

In fact, looking at the rumpled pile of clothes strewn across her bed, it appeared she had packed to relive the last month of her life, instead. Sighing, she accepted that this is what she got for packing the first things she could see, which happened to be the most recently worn and cleaned clothes that she'd hung up in her closet only a week ago.

She would have had to have gone back approximately six months, four days, and roughly three hours to find something she wore clubbing.

To be fair, when she had been packing to leave with Sasuke, clubbing had been nowhere near the top of her mental list of things she expected to be doing on this... adventure. In fact, Sakura pondered as she pulled a pair of slim jeans out of the jumble on her bed, it had been very close to the bottom of her list. There had been a higher probability that she would contract some sort of strange, tropical disease first.

Or be shot, dead. For no good reason at all.

Naruto had rushed upstairs only minutes ago to tell her that Sasuke was going out to a club and would take her with him so she could get a break from being cooped up in this house. Yeah, right. She knew Naruto was a bit frazzled by her need to adjust his clearly flawed organizational system. There was only so much time she could spend poring over that manila file and researching before he eyes and mind started to beg for mercy.

Ten to one Sasuke had lost a coin toss or an arm wrestling match and was getting shackled with her. Because, and she was absolutely certain of this, Sasuke didn't want to go to a club. He probably was meeting someone to discuss something of possibly grand and imminent importance, and didn't want her to complicate it in any way.

God, what kind of contact wanted to meet at a club, anyway? Sakura huffed as she dug around in her pile of clothes, searching for the jade green shirt that went with her selected pair of pants from her last date with Takano. She had dressed up all cute for coffee and a movie and he had stood her up. Sakura eyed the scoop neck of the shirt and the v-dip in the middle; it was one of the most sensual shirts she owned, and it had been wasted on the fool.

"Well, might as well get some use out of it now," Sakura muttered to no one as she slipped out of her sweatpants and loose t-shirt and into her jeans and sleeveless green top. Looking around, Sakura pilfered a dark brown belt from one of her other pairs of jeans and looped it around her hips, securing the buckle in front.

With her clothes now covered, Sakura went back to bemoaning that she had not packed to go clubbing and the cruel irony of the fact that it was somewhere Sasuke, of all people, needed to be. Was there a bartender there who collected all the local gossip? Was Sasuke going to go into some shady chamber, the door made of strings of plastic jewels and sequins that swooshed as he entered, and go talk to an extremely rotund foreigner surrounded by men in black or men wearing tropical flavoured shirts?

...Perhaps she had seen too many movies full of stereotypes. Maybe, Sasuke just wanted to dance and eavesdrop... people tended to yell in clubs, anyway, right? Sakura shook her head at the image of Sasuke dancing in a club – it just did not look right. Try as she might, the image just would not form.

The pink haired surgeon looked forlornly at her shoe selection. She had a meager pair of worn black flats and her running shoes to pick from. As if she could wear the later; she'd stick out like a sore thumb and blow Sasuke's cover for all she knew, going into a club with him and looking like she was fully prepared to book it at any second.

"Hey, Saaakura, is everything okay in there?" Naruto's dampened voice came through her closed door, "That bastard's going to – oh you know it's true, Sasuke, don't scowl like that if you know it's true – leave without you if you aren't downstairs soon and you're gonna miss your night out!"

Sakura sighed and ran her fingers through her hair as she padded over to the door and opened it to her blond friend. He was leaning against the hallway wall across from her door, looking only slightly anxious to get her out the door and to her fun.

His face brightened up at the sight of her and all anxiety seemed to be temporarily forgotten.

"Saaakura, you look damn fine!" The blond cooed at her, his eyes roaming up and down her figure in the over the top and flirtatious way that was so trademark Naruto. When his eyes settled on her bare feet, Sakura slumped against the door frame dramatically and heaved a heavy sigh.

"I don't have shoes for this," she admitted dejectedly, thinking longingly of her fully shoe loaded bedroom back home that was still decorated in her fancy footwear from her assault on Sasuke. It was stupid that she was so hung up on such a small detail; a detail Sasuke would never even take notice of unless she was wielding it as a weapon. But still, she wanted to look good, and she did not want to dwell too long on what that actually meant.

Naruto looked pensive for half a second before he straightened up and flashed a 1000 watt grin at her.

"I have an idea! Come with me," Naruto said cheerfully, reaching back and wrapping his large hand around her wrist and pulling her behind him, paying little attention to the confused and slightly murderous looks she was sending his way. She did not like being dragged. Dragging was a Sasuke thing to do.

Sakura followed him into his vibrantly orange room and over to his closet. He had deep brown sliding wood doors that were coated in a varnish that made the doors look glossy and cool and she just wanted to... hug them.

As she was considering whether Naruto brought her here just so he could cheer her up with his pretty closet, Naruto slid open one of the doors and riffled around for a bit, before pulling out a lidded box of a rather substantial size.

Curiously, Sakura watched as Naruto carried the box over to his bed and set it down atop his blankets. Ruffling the back of his hair, her friend looked at her surprisingly bashfully, as if he wasn't quite sure what to say.

Sakura slowly approached the box and, casting one last wary glance at Naruto's slightly pink tinged cheeks, she lifted the lid off the box.

She stared agape into a box full of beautiful and gently worn shoes.

"They're, um, Hinata's," Naruto said with a small smile playing on his lips, "she left them here a while back because she couldn't take them with her while she travelled, but I'm sure she wouldn't mind if you borrowed some."

Sakura was already admiring a gorgeous black 2-inch heel, but stopped to stare at Naruto as his words finally made it to her brain.

"You and Hinata are seeing each other...?" Sakura gasped, a combination of surprise and glee. Thank you Hinata! She would have to give the dark haired beauty free reign of her own shoe closet the next time she had her friend over as thanks for this footwear rescue. Provided she ever had a next time.

Naruto smiled shyly again, bouncing back on his heels and playing with the carpet with his toes.

"For awhile, yeah," the blond admitted, "we see each other whenever we're in the same country. Which isn't all that often, y'know, but it's great when we are."

"I had no idea!" Sakura clapped her hands together, delighted. Smiling fondly at Naruto, she said, "You two are so good for each other. I'm just surprised I didn't hear about it before now."

Naruto winced slightly, "We hardly get the time to see each other these days, so we didn't want anyone to make a big deal out of it. I'm sorry I didn't say anything to you, though."

Sakura shook her head, pulling one of her best friends in the whole world in for a hug. It was obvious the blond was still feeling bad about her reaction to finding out he hadn't told her that he and Sasuke were keeping in touch.

"You absolutely don't need to apologize. Hinata didn't say anything either and I totally understand." Sakura pouted, looking up into Naruto's blue eyes in disappointment. "I didn't know your work had you travelling so much as well, though..."

Naruto rubbed the back of his neck as he smiled down at her and said, "You'd be surprised what my work calls for at times."

Sakura scrunched up her nose as she stepped away from Naruto and found the matching pair to the black heel. "I'll bet, ick." All that ramen. So much ramen. Did he know how bad that was for his heart?

"At least I don't have to cut into people on a daily basis," Naruto joked, giving her a shove out of his bedroom door now that she had her shoes in hand. "Now go catch that jerk before he leaves without you!"

Sakura slipped on her shoes and descended the stairs, slightly relieved to find Sasuke standing there, still waiting for her. He looked... God, it was so not fair that a man could look that good. Dressed in dark pants and a black dress shirt with the top few buttons left undone, the man was either woefully unaware of his sexuality or purposefully trying to appease every woman in existence.

Was he trying to seduce whoever he was meeting? Or, like her, was he just trying to blend in with the crowd? Maybe it was just her, but it would have to be a pitch black room for her to miss him.

Starting to feel self-conscious, Sakura noticed that he was staring at her feet. After a perplexing moment, she laughed and glanced down at her shoes. So he did notice the details.

"These aren't mine," she said, smiling up at him as he stared back at her, his face not giving anything away, and yet she was relatively sure she knew why he was staring, "in case you're wondering why this pair escaped being thrown at you."

"Hn." Sasuke nodded, and Sakura took this as a good enough confirmation of her suspicions.


She thought he had been staring at her shoes.

That, in the grand scheme of things, was infinitely better than what he'd actually been thinking.

She looked good. Too good. With her pink hair and low cut neck-line, she'd attract way too much attention from the club's patrons. It was a bad idea to bring her along. Sasuke conceded, however, that it was a worse idea to let her stay at Naruto's and root around in his things in a strange fit of organizational need, lest she find something she ought not to.

Had she been like that in high school? It appeared that his going out of his way not to notice had been a serious tactical error on his part. He'd have to get on remedying his lack of knowledge of her as soon as he returned from his meet.

When had she acquired sexuality? Why was he noticing? These were the thoughts occupying his mind when Sakura had assumed he was fixated on her dangerous shoe choices. He had instead been fixated on his overwhelming desire to get as far away from her as possible, as quick as he Goddamn could.

In his line of business, sexuality was a weapon of manipulation. In the Game, attraction was a weakness – it's how you got destroyed, and seduction was the manipulation tactic of choice. The players put it on and turned it off thousands of times in a career in order to get what they wanted. He himself had done so more than a dozen times.

But this – his being 'intrigued' by this woman from his past, was out of his control. He was clearly exhausted. She was an evil, chatty, shoe-throwing beast, and an unfortunately necessary nuisance to his mission. It pissed him off that she was holding on to his attention even this long – no woman who wasn't a target ever had. Not since this same girl, ten years ago, had managed to penetrate his thoughts – briefly – when he was a naive teenager. She had been flitting across his mind far too often since she had spoken with him in the kitchen several days ago. Distance clearly needed to be kept.

Removing his hands from his pockets, he inclined his head towards the door.

"Let's go," he said curtly, opening the door and watching as Sakura glanced up at him curiously as she stepped outside with a quick wave to a relieved Naruto. This was going to be a long night.


The music was loud and pulsating around them as they entered the club, the force of the bass making the floor vibrate noticeably beneath Sasuke's feet. Multi-coloured strobe lights were flashing around, illuminating the dance floor and the crowds of people huddled close together, dancing and grabbing and sweating.

Not wanting to lose Sakura in the throng of people and suffer having to find her, Sasuke reached out and took hold of her elbow, glancing down at her dimly lit face as he did so. He was a little bit surprised by what he saw.

She had her nose scrunched up in what he could only interpret as distaste for the general environment. She took that moment to shoot him a look, and he quirked a dark eyebrow in response. She mumbled something, likely an answer to his look, but he couldn't hear it over the music blasting through the air.

"What?" He said loudly, leaning his head down closer to hers to be able to hear her better, before he stopped to contemplate if he even cared about what she had to say. Still, his interest had been piqued by her facial expression. Was a club not her scene? Somehow he had thought it would be, given her choice in friends.

Moments after that thought became fully formed, Sasuke discarded it. The last thing he wanted was for anyone to ever lump him in the same category as his idiotic blond teammate.

Sakura, evidently as surprised as he was by his apparent interest in what she had said, finally inched closer to him and lifted her lips closer to his ear. As she spoke, he could feel her warm breath caressing his ear, starkly different from the humid air being recycled about the club.

"I don't like clubs," she said, "they're just... too noisy, too crowded, and too..." she trailed off, momentarily distracted by the couple dancing closest to them – their bodies grinding together and with wandering hands, "...too jam packed with sexual tension."

Sasuke couldn't help the smirk that made it onto his face at her appropriate commentary. He had often felt similarly, but work was work... Thinking about work, Sasuke grabbed hold of her elbow tighter and began to pull her towards the bar, attempting to ignore his own tension that had surfaced at the feel of her breath on his ear. Fuck. It clearly had been too long.

"H-Hey!" Sakura grumbled in startled confusion, her arm held out awkwardly as he tugged her across the club.

Finding a vacant bar stool, Sasuke sat her down firmly, before leaning in closer, bracing his arms on the counter, and boxing her in. She gave a startled gasp as he dropped his head just above her right shoulder.

"Listen carefully," he stated, speaking coolly into her ear, "there is someone here I need to speak with. I know you're not here because you desperately want to dance."

Sakura, still encased between the privacy shields formed by his arms, heaved a sigh and slumped forward, bracing her elbow on the counter and resting her chin on her palm. To any onlookers, they were just like any of the other couples in the club – intimately close, and maybe just a little tipsy. This had been his going plan since he knew he was bringing her along.

His being so close so as to notice the way she smelled, which was unfortunately absolutely delicious in comparison to the overwhelming fumes of the rest of the club's guests, had not been in the plan. Jesus God, what the fuck was wrong with him?

"Naruto doesn't like my organizational habits, so he pawned me off on you, right?" She said in a voice that confirmed to him that this wasn't a thought to newly cross her mind.

"Hn," Sasuke confirmed her suspicions and got his mind back on track. Not that he had any substantial doubts that she was here on other pretenses, but he still felt a miniscule amount of tension leave his body knowing that she was on the same page and he wouldn't have to babysit her.

"Sit here. Order a drink. I'll come get you when I'm done. Don't talk to anyone." He told her in a firm voice, but only loud enough for her alone to hear.

"And if someone talks to me?" Sakura questioned, tilting her head to look at him, their faces becoming intimately close. For a moment, her bright green eyes opened a fraction in surprise at their proximity, before she quickly regained her composure. But it was enough of a moment that it didn't go unnoticed by him; she wasn't nearly as skilled as he was at hiding reactions.

Her eyelashes were very... long, now that he was this close to her face. She was still staring at him, and it was obvious to him from her initial reaction that she felt something more than surprise within her when she realized how close their faces were.

How close their lips were.

Shit. This woman was a complication in and of itself – the last thing he needed was to have her harbour any kind of sexual attraction to him.

...He was drawing too much attention to the two of them now, the longer he spent in such close proximity to the pinkette without kissing her, as any onlookers would be expecting him to do. Needing to leave her in order to avoid creating added complications, he said a little too coldly, "then get rid of them. It can't be that hard."

Pushing off the counter, Sasuke shouldered past a dancing couple and disappeared into the crowd on the dance floor.


Sasuke leaned against an interior wall, adjacent to the crowded dance floor, and folded his arms loosely across his chest, channelling confidence and nonchalance. He projected with experienced ease the image of an overly confident man taking his time assessing which of the willing ladies on the dance floor he was going to steal for himself as the evening went on.

This spot had one of the best vantage points in the club – he could see the front entrance at one o'clock, and the fire escape on the west side of the room through the throngs of civilians, while simultaneously keeping the extremely popular bar easily in his peripheral vision. It didn't complicate matters that a head of pink hair was extremely easy to pick out in a crowd.

Too easy, Sasuke thought, carefully keeping any semblance of a frown from marring his perfectly concocted mask. He needed to finish this meet with a little more speed than usual, wary of the target Sakura's blatant presence in this club could paint on both of their backs. He shouldn't have caved to Naruto's pressure and brought her here. She could compromise the whole Op if someone had tailed them.

Sasuke took a calm inhale of breath. He knew he had nothing to worry about – no one had tailed them. He had been careful to take an overly complicated route through the busy city streets, weaving unnecessarily through underground tunnels just to be thorough. He was extremely confident in that regard. And yet, there was a nagging sensation pulling at the back of his mind as he watched a heavyset man with a hair line that was beginning to recede, take up a seat on the bar stool to Sakura's right.

"So you brought your girlfriend with you this time, did you?"

Sasuke did not so much as blink as the soft, feminine voice inches from his left ear signalled that his contact had arrived. Did not attempt to compliment the woman on how 'perceptive' she was, taking note of his constantly keeping the pinkette and her new best friend, who appeared to be trying to instigate a conversation, in his line of vision.

Big fucking deal. Anyone with even the basest of observation skills could assume that woman would be capturing at least his continuous partial attention.

Because of that God-awful head of hair.

Was why she was so eye-catching to everyone.

For no other reason other than that.

Sasuke almost broke his perfectly indifferent expression with a frown at how fucking stupid he was being in his head, trying to justify his own accurate assessment. For the love of fucking God, he clearly needed some sleep. And Sakura needed to make that fucker sitting beside her move on, because he was blocking Sasuke's line of vision of the relatively small but significant space between her and the front entrance.


"I would have thought you were smarter than that, bringing a girl into the Game," the woman, whom he had known only as Naomi for the past ten months, sidled up beside him, playing the part of the willing women who was seeking adventure with the handsome stranger in the bar. He did not have to so much as glance her way to know that she was dressed provocatively, as was her usual M.O.

In the game of seduction, Naomi, as Naruto often put it, held the "ultimate high score." She was beautiful. Too beautiful, and she knew it with every fibre of her miniscule being. With her deep brown eyes and long dark brown hair that poured over her shoulders, drawing attention to her ample, and very calculated, tasteful display of her chest, she could easily wrap a grown man around her finger.

Any grown man that wasn't Sasuke Uchiha. In her long list of conquests, she had yet to add him. Despite the genuine sounding cheer and interest that oozed from her whenever they met, he knew it pissed her right the fuck off that he didn't ever volunteer to do some extracurricular 'deep cover' work with her.

He knew the women in the Game. He knew what, and who, they often did. He wasn't going to be one of them. It wasn't that he had no interest in sex for the sake of sex. He absolutely could do that civic duty without so much as buying her a drink if he felt like it. But he didn't. These too beautiful, too calculated women did nothing for him.

He brought his thoughts back to Naomi's latest commentary in which she insulted his intelligence for bringing Sakura along; said in a sultry voice that he knew covered for her snarky feelings on the matter. But he would not be bated into bringing Sakura into this conversation. The less this viper knew about Sakura, the better for them all.

"You said you had some intel for me about the Snake." Sasuke said, blatantly ignoring her question and scanning the room again for any new faces.

The Snake.

No one in any agency or underground organization knew much about the mob boss who ran the most brutal, hardcore criminals in the country. His power and reputation was far reaching – his alias was enough to make grown men, guilty with failure, turn their own guns on themselves. When it came to the country's garden show of scum suckers, the Snake's notorious ruthlessness was more than enough to keep his underlings loyal and in the Game.

T:7 had been trying to unravel his identity and breakdown his networks for years. They never had a clear shot of his face – never had a solid idea of his location. If they could take out the Snake's immediate camp, fuck, Sasuke could just retire in a couple of years. The rest of the network would topple like dominos.

The Snake dappled in some small scale business – working the Black Market, theft, some government espionage. But he spent most of his time on murder. Assassination. Acts of terror to cause mass casualties and political upheaval, upsetting the equilibrium.

For what? That was the billion dollar question. No one seemed to know what the Snake really wanted – what his motive for murder and large scale shit-disturbing was. Sasuke was hoping that tonight's meet with his manipulative contact would shed some more light on that front.

Naomi had 'serviced' some men on Snake's crew while she moved her piece in the Game, gathering intel and eliminating anyone she deemed to be expendable. He assumed from her asking to meet him here tonight that she had finally picked up some valuable info that he could work with. In exchange, Sasuke and his team didn't hinder whatever operation she was running from this club. He didn't know what that was, but he also very often didn't give a shit.

He did give a shit that Sakura hadn't yet managed to make the large man beside her move his ass and piss off. His presence was fucking with Sasuke's vantage point. He could barely see her. He wasn't worried about her so much as he was worried about her doing something stupid that he was too far away to prevent. At least, he wasn't worried about her much.

"There's been a lot of chatter," Naomi said, placing a familiar hand on his shoulder and leaning in to brush her lips against his ear as she spoke, "that the Snake is planning something big."

"Like what?"

"It's not immediately clear," she admitted, hardly audible over the pulsating bass of the new song blasting out of the speakers, "but word on the street is that it has to do with trafficking. Drugs, maybe."

Sasuke was suddenly starting to feel like his time was being wasted. Drugs? Like he gave a shit about drugs. That was business Sasuke and his team was already very well aware of. He shot her a scathing look this time, heavy on the 'you've-got-to-be-fucking-kidding-me'. Was this her big tip?

"Don't get your panties in a twist," she practically hissed at him, her nails digging into his shoulders just enough to let him know that she didn't appreciate his glare, but not enough to break their characters for the club's onlookers.

"A couple of underlings are shook up about it – they want out."

Out? Now Naomi had his full attention.

No one ever got out of the Snake's grip. Not if they didn't want to live in fear and looking over their shoulders for the rest of their extremely short lives. What, Sasuke wondered, was scary about some drug trafficking, enough to spook the grunts? That was something he would pay a lot to know.

There's been a lot of chatter that the Snake is planning something big.

"They'll never live long enough on their own to make it out alive." Sasuke said what they both clearly had to know by now. The grunts wouldn't make it out of their hidey-hole before they got a hole clean through their head if word got out that they were trying to leave the business.

"Obviously," Naomi agreed with a slight shake of her head, before locking her extremely serious chocolate eyes with his dark ones. "That's why they want to cut a deal. If you give them protection, they're willing to talk about what's going to go down."


Sakura took a deep pull of her beer as she listened to the... substantial man beside her go on and on about the weather; his life story; her vibrant and rare shade of hair colour.

"Is it natural?" he asked her, his hands continuously running up and down the sides of his pint, cool and damp with condensation, "it's absolutely beautiful." He was nervously playing with the droplets of water while he attempted to flirt with her. Was her really so naive and nervous?

God, was this what things had come down to? She was extra baggage for the man she used to fancy herself in love with, discarded at the bar, being flirted with by a man who could very well be twice her age, and was very definitely more than twice her size. And, for the life of her, she just did not possess enough skills as a frigid bitch to be able to make him move.

And lord, did she ever want him to move. He had managed to plant himself directly in her line of sight of Sasuke. Now, if she wanted to see if he was still talking to that gorgeous brunette, she would have to blatantly swivel her chair and maybe stand on her tippy-toes. Oh man, if she had third wheeled a date and was then caught staring, she was going to feel extra crappy by the time this night was over. Was there any other reason for him to be meeting with a well endowed, way-more-good-looking-than-Sakura, woman in a scene like this?

Although maybe, Sakura pondered as she drowned herself in another pull of misery induced drinking, the woman was a femme fatale. Maybe, she was actually someone Sasuke worked with.

Or slept with.

Sakura exercised every ounce of self-control she had not to let her head thump down on the scratched wood counter and groan exasperatedly at the pathetic woman she was becoming. What did she care what or who Sasuke did? It wasn't like she and Sasuke were anything. It wasn't like anything had changed since high school. In fact, Sakura bemoaned as she glanced towards the man beside her and still couldn't catch a glimpse of Sasuke's ebony hair, things had pretty much only gone further south where they were both involved.

At that thought, Sakura blushed a burning shade of pink and stared down at her drink, suddenly very fascinated by the bubbles coming and going. Less than 20 minutes ago, when she had turned to look at Sasuke while he spoke, and his lips had been so close to hers... her thoughts had definitely gone south. Way south. So south that she wanted to kick herself for letting her attraction to Sasuke resurface without so much as a... a compliment from the man.

And now the man beside her was staring at her like he had finally said something right, something to make her blush. Was her hair naturally that colour? Good lord.

"Yes," she croaked out finally, "yes it is."

Please, she begged inwardly, please don't ask if you can see for yourself. If it came to that, she was going to have to pull an Ino and hand this guy and his gee-wiz play his ass. In the mood she was quickly falling into, still thinking about Sasuke's lips and still worrying if that brunette knew what they tasted like and still pissed that this man blocked her line of sight, she was so going to snap like a twig under a monster truck if her buttons got pushed.

And her hair was definitely a button.

"I've never known anyone with real pink hair before."

Sakura ran her left hand up her cheek and kneaded her temple, tilting her head a small amount to the right and inwardly begging for this night out to end as she gave the man her best "you don't say?" look in her repertoire.

In the corner of her new peripheral vision, Sakura caught a glimpse of long blond hair out on the dance floor. Frowning, Sakura turned her head back to face the bar and tried to reason out the sudden foreboding feeling that was beginning to creep up her spine.

It was only because she had been thinking about Ino, Sakura attempted to convince herself. That's why any amount of blond hair would make her immediately think of her best friend.

But that hair was really, really long. And really, really blond.

Gulping nervously and with palms that were beginning to sweat a bit, Sakura tried to sneak an inconspicuous glance over her shoulder, back out at the dance floor.

And there, lit up by the club's strobe light, and heading straights towards the bar – to her – were Ino and Ten Ten, dressed up for a night out at the clubs.

"SHIT!" Sakura cursed violently as she hastily threw herself off the bar stool and onto the floor. Down on her hands and knees, Sakura frantically looked around her, but all she could see were shins and too high shoes as she muttered a foul mantra of "shit crap shit fuck shit shit shit!" under her breath.

Why were they here?! There were more than enough clubs in Konoha for the pair to be out crawling. Why THIS one? Why THIS night?

The sound of a voicemail went off in the back of Sakura's mind as she wondered in horror what the stickiness on the bottom of her hand was.

Ten-Ten and I are hitting up the clubs over in the next city sometime this week. You should come with!

No way. No freaking way.

Sakura had to get out of the club before she was spotted by Ino and Ten-Ten, who were literally going to be on top of her if she didn't get her lobster crawling ass up off the floor and high-tailing it towards the door in the next few seconds.

If she was spotted by them... after she never returned that voicemail, and never showed up to work, which Ino no doubt would have tried calling next to get a hold of her – there would be questions. So many questions. And God forbid they see Sasuke.

Sakura would be in shit. Deep, deep shit. She knew she was already hindering whatever operation Sasuke was working on. If the one night he takes her with her anywhere she messes it up just by existing, she was never, ever, going to be able to live it down.

And more to the point, if her being seen by her two close friends drags them into this danger with her and ends with either of them getting hurt, she was going to die a thousand deaths.

With that thought, Sakura launched herself up off the floor, ignoring the absolutely baffled look from the tipsy man above her, and booked it towards what she thought was the general direction of the exit.


What the fuck?

Sasuke was having a hard time believing his eyes.

A flash of pink – he had Sakura back in his sights – and then she was gone. Gone. Just like that.

Adrenaline, a small dose of anxiety and a metric ass-load of pissed off started pounding through his system as he tried to scan the room, looking for her. He had told her to stay put. Not to move. And she couldn't even follow that one simple instruction.

But he had seen the look on her face when he had finally regained a full visual of her. It was only for a fraction of a second, but he had seen it.

Fear. Full-blown fear and concern had marred her features before she disappeared into the crowd. What had happened? What had she seen? Had she been made?

Sasuke felt his anxiety levels ratchet up another notch as he suspected that maybe she'd recognized one of the goons that had broken into her house. If that were the case, she was not going to be okay on her own. Even though they were relatively new to their gig, they were skilled enough for her.

Sasuke absolutely did not like the bead of fear that had settled in his gut as he thought of Sakura, out in that crowd, alone with those bastards from Konoha.

"Set up a meet," Sasuke ground out to Naomi, who merely raised a delicate eyebrow at his tense speech, "for two nights from today. At the apartment complex under construction on 6th. I'll meet them there and hear what they have to say."

"I'll let you know when it's done." Naomi cooed as she backed away into the crowd, and Sasuke wasted no time in launching out into the sea of people, unceremoniously pushing between dancers and drinkers as he tried to keep his cool and find the troublesome pinkette.

She's not in trouble. He told himself. She's not made. We weren't followed.

But still he couldn't stamp down his got-a-bad-feeling and replace it with disgust for her inability to follow simple instructions. She was not a stupid woman. There had to be a good reason why she ran.

And there had to be a good reason for why he was being anything other than calm and calculating about this turn of events. This Op could be finally getting somewhere, he told himself. If it were to be compromised...

A flash of pink, and Sasuke was on her in a nano-second. Grabbing Sakura by her shoulders and hauling ass towards a somewhat secluded corner by the front entrance, Sasuke shoved her against the wall and slammed his hand down beside her head, telling himself that he was releasing his anger over her leaving her stool, not fear over losing sight of her.

"What in the fuck are you doing?"

Her green eyes were staring at him in wide eyed panic.

"Sasuke!" she gasped, "we have to get out of here. Now."

"Why?" he countered, his voice cold and harsh with frustration. Even though she looked panicked, and even though he should probably believe that whatever she was running from was legitimate, he had to know the details. Because if he knew what she was running from, he could probably figure out if she risked running into it, too.

"They're here!"

"Who?" His onyx eyes narrowed, and he quickly made another cursory glance about the room for the thugs from Konoha.

"Ino and Ten-Ten!"

"What?" Ino and Ten-Ten. He knew those names. Why did he know those names?

"Ino. And. Ten-Ten. My friends – they're here, in this club!" she ground out, casting a frantic glance over his shoulder, "and if they see me, if they see you, we are going to be subjected to a never ending world of questions. Worse than what I did to you, Sasuke."

"And you're going to end up with two new additions to Naruto's happy home because if they get seen with us, and they risk getting hurt, I am going to personally kill you." She added with a fierce glare.

Jesus H. Christ. Just what he needed.

Sasuke looked around again, about a foot lower than he had previously been scanning, and he saw them now, too. They looked about what he would expect them to look like after almost ten years, and they were close, too close, and bearing down on the door they were practically next to. Sasuke did the math in his head and, cursing low under his breath, realized that they wouldn't be able to make it out the door without being seen.

He didn't need this. He absolutely didn't need this. And Sakura was staring at him expectantly, as if to say, "if we get caught, you can have the luxury of doing all the explaining. You ass."

What a goatfuck.

Exhaling a breath of intense frustration, he backed Sakura as far into the poorly lit corner wall as he possibly could, and tried to use his large frame to shield her from view. Those women hadn't seen him since high school – he would bet his career on the fact that they wouldn't recognize him now, in this poorly let entranceway.

But what they would recognize was the vibrant pink of their good friend's hair, who they no doubt saw on a semi-regular basis. He had to hide her more, and he was swiftly running out of options as they got closer.

He knew what he had to do.

Bracing his left forearm against the wall next to her head and covering as much of her hair as he could with his right hand, Sasuke leaned in and covered her body completely with his.

This was the only play available to him. A public display of affection in a shady corner of the club. Most people would look away or steer clear. He was 99 percent sure it was going to work. It only had to last until the women cleared the front door in less than a minute.

He could feel Sakura's ragged and nervous breath tickling his throat as he bent his head down and, with only the slightest hesitation, captured her pink lips in his.

For a long moment, she was frozen in place, her lips unmoving as he kissed her lightly, just a press of his lips against hers. But then it was apparent that she realized what was happening, and good God, she started kissing him back.

One of her hands gripped the open collar of his dress shirt, the other still splayed against his chest from when she was urging him to leave the club. He was hyper aware of every part of her body, but also extremely distracted by the feel of her soft lips moving against his, by the attraction he could feel buzzing through her and straight into him as she gripped his collar tighter and subconsciously pulled him closer.

When she opened her mouth to him and brushed her thigh against his, he felt all his tension shoot straight down into his groin. His grip tightened in her hair and he kissed her longer, harder, his mouth practically devouring hers as he tasted the drink she had been having at the bar.

And for the first time in his career, Sasuke's mind went completely blank.

(AN) As per usual, I apologize for the long wait between chapters! For any of you readers who were internally pooping chickens in fear of me making Sasuke dance at the club... yeah, there was no way I'd be able to write that. Him getting groovy was never on my to do list. That said, I hope you guys enjoyed what I actually did want to happen!

Please leave me a review – they are my fruit, and I am pacman. :D