tell me a love story
"—ra...? Hey, Sakura!"
I jump and spin around. "What? What's happening? Who's on fire? What?" In my scramble, I accidentally knock over a canister of straws and a stack of paper coffee cups.
I am not, how should I say, smooth.
My boss, Kurenai, a lovely woman with flyaway hair and exquisite red eyes that are currently narrowed in anger, plants her hands on her hips. "What are you gawking at, girl? There are customers waiting to be served."
Sure enough, a line of five or so people has gathered at the counter, and none of them look to be in the best of spirits. Probably because I haven't given them their coffee yet.
Yes, that's me, Haruno Sakura: catering to the caffeine fix of the masses. Glamorous, I know.
I cringe. "Sorry. I was just—"
"Just nothing! Help those customers now, or you're fired!" She storms away.
And the award for tact goes to… But I shouldn't judge her. She's pregnant. (Damn that Asuma for starting this mess.)
Anyway. I paste on my biggest, brightest, Joy to the world! smile and rush over to help the customers—none of whom, might I add, tip me.
People suck. I hate them all.
Except I don't, because the reason I was spacing out in the first place is…Him.
He's sitting at a small table near the window, sipping black coffee and reading a thick stack of papers. Tall and lean and muscular, even the tiniest move he makes seems graceful and calculated, a new pose for the camera. And he could definitely be a model, with his sexy bed-head, gorgeous eyes, and angel features.
O, he doth teach the torches to burn bright!
(A little Shakespeare for ya there. On the house.)
Of course, my ogling is in vain. Someone who looks like that would never have any interest in someone who looks like me. My best friend Ino, maybe. But not me—not that I'm ugly, or even plain-looking. I think I'm rather pretty, with soft pink hair and nice green eyes. But I'm not a knockout. And Him? He's a god.
If I had other fabulous traits, maybe they would fill up the deficit and leave me worthy of Him. However, I'm clumsy and quirky and quite broke, thanks to med. school; I slouch, and I use too many placeholders when I talk, and I'm not terribly outgoing.
On the other hand, I'm rather smart. Also, while not everyone always agrees with me, I think I can be pretty damn hilarious. (A serious character flaw, that.)
Still, it's not nearly enough for Him. Maybe a watered-down version of Him, with scrawnier arms and closer-set eyes and hair that's not nearly as nice. But not Him.
Sighing, I reach under the counter, into my bag, and pull out a manila folder. We've reached the dead-zone of the evening, when customers stop coming in and instead trickle out. There's still about half an hour left before I have to close up, so I open my file and extract a thick sheaf of papers.
I'm writing a novel, you see. Well, actually, I already wrote it, and now I'm in the process of editing it. It's a tale about a down-on-her-luck but still well-intentioned heroine, and her journey through life and love, littered with symbolic irony and poetic justice.
Yeah, I know. It sounded better in my head, I must admit. But.
Scribbling with red ink, I don't notice the time until it's already ten minutes past closing time. Crapcrapcrap. Hastily securing my manuscript together with a clip, I shove it in my bag (not bothering to close it), and approach Him hesitantly. We're the only ones left.
His eyes slide up to meet mine. Wowwww. I swallow. "Uh, it's time to close." You sexy, sexy man, you. (Thank God for mind-to-mouth filters. I don't think anyone has ever needed them as much as I do.)
He nods once—more an inclination of his head than anything, really. He gathers his things, in the process dropping his pen on the floor.
"Oh, here—" I bend down to pick it up, but he does too, and we bang our heads together. I accidentally bump the table, and his unfinished coffee is knocked to the floor, as well as the papers he was reading. Everything I have tumbles out of my open bag.
Dear Jesus, could you do me a solid and just kill me now? Love, Sakura.
He just stands there for a moment, staring at the mess, then turns his gaze to me, looking deeply unimpressed. "Well done." His tone is flat, yet somehow still implicative of profound sarcasm. Still, his voice is deep and rich and smooth, like the very best chocolate.
I turn scarlet and drop to my knees, hastily grabbing my stuff and his before the spilled coffee can soil them. "I'm so sorry," I mumble to the floor.
(A box of tampons was in my bag, and for about ten seconds it was right there on the ground for him to see. Awkwardddd.)
I meekly hand him his sheaf of paper. He doesn't even look, just takes it wordlessly and places it in a file, which he closes with a very definitive snap. He settles it under his arm and just walks away, out of the coffee shop.
I stare at his back (well, okay, his ass—you would too, don't even deny it) until he's out of my sight. Jerkface.
But man, what a hot one.
Only later that night do I realize that oh shit I have the wrong papers. (Then again, I probably should have seen this coming, because that's the way my life works and all.) Strangely enough, while I don't have my manuscript, I have a different manuscript for a novel.
Weird, but one thing's for sure: somewhere out there is a blasphemously attractive man with my manuscript. He will, no doubt, laugh at it.
I moan and curl up on my bed, hugging a pillow.
I don't expect to see Him ever again. He's not a regular customer—as far as I know, he only ever came in that one time. So I'm completely surprised when, a week later, I'm scrubbing the counter and look up when someone approaches and—
And find Him. I blink. Well, hello, there. I do hope you've come to ravish me.
He watches me dispassionately. "You're Haruno Sakura?"
I recall that I wrote my name all over my manuscript in case of just such an event. I peer down at the nametag pinned to my shirt. Hi, I'm Sakura! I look up and beam at him. "Why, yes I am!"
He looks far from amused. (Tough crowd.) Unceremoniously, he hands me my manuscript. I take it, blushing. "Um. Thanks." Luckily, I kept his in my bag, so I'm able to give it back to him. "Sorry about that."
I eye him apprehensively. "You didn't, um, read it, did you?" Please say no please say no please say—
"I did, actually."
Well, that ship has sunk.
I deflate. "Oh…" Then again, maybe this is my chance to get feedback. Peering up at him through my hair, I pose timidly, "So what did you, uh, think?"
He meets my eyes dead-on. "It's crap."
… Man, tell me how you really feel. I wince and gather together the shredded scraps of my self-esteem. Yeah, well, your face is crap.
(Except that it's, you know, not. At all.)
"But," he continues, "it has potential. You've got voice. You're funny." It sounds a little strange, because he says all of this in an expressionless monotone.
I perk up. "You think so?"
He quirks an eyebrow. "I'm Uchiha Sasuke."
"DUDE. Holy. Crap."
His mouth twitches, just a little. Uchiha Sasuke is the owner of the Uchiha Publishing Company. Think big. Really big. You want your book to be a bestseller, you go to him. I realize that the manuscript he was reading must have been one that someone submitted.
I bounce up and down. "So hey, does this mean you might wanna publish it?" Please say yes please say yes please say—
"Possibly. With a lot of work and editing."
Better than nothing. Way better than nothing. I grin at him. "Awesome." I extend my hand over the counter. "It's very nice to meet you, Uchiha Sasuke."
After what looks like a moment's hesitation, he takes my hand. "Sasuke," he corrects. His hand is large and cool; mine vanishes in his grip.
I smile, not the usual smile I have for people facing me from across the counter, but a smile that's real and genuine and, why deny it, entirely smitten. "Sasuke," I agree. When he releases my hand, I use it to point to myself. "Sakura."
A pause. "Sakura," he acknowledges, dark eyes glinting, and—
And, God, my name has never sounded so good.
I show up at his office at noon the next day, as he instructed. After giving my name to the secretary, I'm ushered into his office immediately.
Upon entering, I stare. Okay. Coolest. Office. Everrr.
The room is large and spacious; one wall is constructed entirely of gleaming glass, granting the most incredible view of the city. His mahogany desk is big and modern and gorgeous—he sits behind it in one of those imposing, official chairs that informs you, in no uncertain terms, that the person sitting in it is very important, indeed.
Two less magnificent chairs are placed across from him. Without looking up from a paper he's reading, he motions for me to sit in one. I do as beckoned, and—ohmygod it swivels. I love swivel-chairs! I spin around in it happily.
… Until I notice his look. Immediately, my revelry comes to a halt. "I, ummm." Terribly professional, I know.
I think he might be amused, but he doesn't comment on my antics. Instead, he has me work on revising my writing, with his careful guidance.
Sasuke knows a lot and is really helpful, but I can't really concentrate. His office is too big, too official; it makes me feel all insignificant and whatnot. (Also, the swivel-chair is very distracting.) I fidget. I waffle. I fade in and out of focus.
He notices, and sighs, rubbing at his temples in a way that makes him seem much older, and weary. (But oh, it's so sexyyyyy—) Abruptly, he stands. "Come with me."
I jump up immediately. I would follow this kid anywhere. (Kind of like Peter Pan.)
He leads me out of his office and out of the building, saying only to his secretary, "I'll be back." She nods, no doubt used to his curtness.
Trotting to keep up with his long strides, I nudge him playfully with my hip. "Is this a field trip? Are we going to the aquarium? I love blowfish—they go like this." I puff my cheeks out. Sasuke, looking at me out of the corner of his eye, looks like he wants to smile, but doesn't say anything.
A moment later, I try again. "So seriously, though, where are we going?" And will there or will there not be blowfish? These are things I need to know.
I pout. "I don't want to see, I want to know."
At his sharp look, I shrink. "Um, just kidding. I'll wait and see." Mr. Crankypants I add silently.
He leads me to a small diner on the corner. It's small and unassuming, and unusually quiet for this time of day. He sits me down in a booth and pulls out my manuscript again. This time, I can focus.
It's kind of like Sasuke knows exactly what I need. Even with my manuscript, he offers advice where I need it, and explanations when I don't understand something but am too embarrassed to mention it.
Still, I would have thought a big-shot like Sasuke wouldn't be involved in the actual, gritty editing process. I mention it to him.
He glances at me cryptically. "You need all the help you can get," is all he says.
It kind of makes me think that maybe, just maybe, he might like me too. Just a little.
And damn, wouldn't that be something.
We've been working on my manuscript, slowly but surely, for the past two weeks. Sasuke helps me, and steadies me, and makes me focus. He adapts to my crazy med. school/coffee shop work schedule, and we end up meeting obscenely early in the morning, outrageously late at night, and at all points in between.
Because I can't concentrate in his office, we work at cafés, parks, libraries. He gives me his work, home, and cell number. "In case," he says.
Inadvertently, I learn all the little things about him, the bits and pieces that make up the whole. I know that he doesn't sleep well. I know that he loves tomatoes. (Hey, there's no accounting for taste.) I know that he never goes anywhere without headache medication. I know that, at the end of the day, he'll sometimes pull out reading glasses. (They're totally nerdy, with thick black frames. He looks so hot in them. It's the weirdest thing.
When I commented on his nerd glasses the first time, he scowled and put them away. Like he's self-conscious or something. It's so adorable.)
I know that he runs his hand through his hair when he's frustrated; I know that he rests his chin on his clasped hands when he's thinking. I know that he rarely smiles, hardly ever laughs.
It's become my mission in life to cheer him up. I tease him, poke him, shamelessly pull out all the stops just to get him to smile. When he does, God, it's the most beautiful thing. (The kid could star in a Crest commercial.)
He reads over my shoulder a lot. I'll be sitting there with my manuscript and he'll come up behind me, his hand the lightest touch at my shoulder, and lean over me, his lips by my ear, my cheek.
I'll turn my head slowly, and his face will be right there, and I swear to God, so many times it looks like he wants to kiss me, and boy do I want him to, and he'll move closer, and closer, and—
Something always holds him back. It's such, such fail.
But you know what? I'm in love with him anyway.
(Yeah, that's right, I went there.)
My novel is complete! Win. And Sasuke is going to publish it. What a softie. (Though, really, it would kind of suck for him if he went through all that trouble with me and then didn't publish it.)
We're in his office, and he's just told me the news. After bouncing around, screaming, and gibbering like an idiot, I'm so happy I don't know what to do with myself.
Except. Wait. There is one thing I really, really want to do right now. (Well, two things, but getting it on with Uchiha Sasuke on top of his desk is a pretty remote possibility at this point. So I go for that slightly more plausible one.)
I trot over to where Sasuke is sitting behind his desk. "Hey, Sasuke…"
He doesn't look up. "Hn."
"Can I sit in your chair?" Cue big, pleading, look-how-adorable-I-am-don't-you-feel-compelled-to-give-me-what-I-want? eyes.
"No," he answers flatly.
I tug at his sleeve. "Please, Sasuke? Just for a few minutes." I tug again. "Sasukeee…" (Comments on my shamelessness are entirely unnecessary, thank you.)
"… Fine," he says gruffly. "If you'll stop bothering me." SCOREAGE. He gets up, and I slide in. Yesss.
Making myself comfortable, I beam at him. "You know, I might need to rethink my profession. Being a doctor is cool and all, but I don't think I'd get a chair like this. And do I look important and imposing or what?"
His lips slide into a reluctant half-smile, and he opens his mouth—
Naruto, an employee of Sasuke's and, incidentally, his best friend, barges in. "Yo, bastard, I just got a—"
Upon seeing me in Sasuke's chair, he blinks. Then gapes. He looks from me to Sasuke, then repeats, his eyes sliding back and forth, back and forth. (Kind of reminds me of pinball.) Finally, they rest on Sasuke.
"Dude. She's in the chair. You won't even let me sit in the chair!"
Sasuke glares at him. "Get out, Naruto."
Naruto gives him a look of disgust. "I mean, I know you've given her special treatment from the start, but I didn't know you were this wrapped around her little—"
"Get out!" Sasuke throws a book at his head, and the blonde beats a hasty retreat.
I turn to him. "You've been giving me special treatment?" I knew it. Score one for my feminine wiles.
He ignores my question in lieu of another topic. "You've been invited to be on a talk-show to discuss your novel." He names a very popular show—not Oprah, unfortunately.
I start bouncing up and down in his chair. I'm going to be on TV! I'm going to be on TV! I'm—oh shit. I'm going to be on TV.
Suddenly overcome by a chronic case of stage-fright (oh God, I'm having sixth grade chorale concert flashbacks), I look to him anxiously. "You'll be there, right?" Sasuke makes everything better. He's like chocolate. (And just as yummy.)
He gives me a quizzical frown. "No. I'm your publisher, not your publicist."
I panic. "But you have to be there! I can't go on TV without you there! Sasuke!"
He hoists an eyebrow. "You'll be fine. You don't need me."
"Yes I do!" I wail, and, abandoning his chair, run over to where he's standing. "Remember when you promised to never, ever abandon me?"
His eyebrows draw together in irritation. "I promised no such thing."
"That is so not even the point!" (Silly boy.) I fist the front of his shirt in my hands, staring up at him. "Sasuke, please. Don't make me do this alone. You can have your chair back!" (Do I strike a deal or what?)
He looks at me for a few long, long moments, and there's… there's something in his eyes. He lifts a shoulder, sighs. "If it's that important to you."
"You are that important to me!" I assure him, thrilled. He isn't going to abandon me! I love not being abandoned! I love it almost as much as not being hungry.
His eyes widen at my wording. I wince, realizing my error. The awkward silence, it burns! I ignore it by throwing my arms around him. "Thank you!" Mmm, he smells good. Like… like… good-smelling stuff. And hot guy. Yeah. Yeahhh.
Sasuke hesitates but, after a moment, shifts his arm in such a way that it could maybe kind of possibly oh please please please be considered around me.
And it's the start of something beautiful.
You can guess what happens from there: Sakura goes on the talk-show, accidentally reveals to the world that she is a Soviet spy, and has to flee the country, living out her days on a remote tropical island, sustaining herself on coconuts and unrealized dreams...
... Awkward Silence?
But so yeah, found this on my computer, cleaned it up, here it is. May or may not be continued, but for now, will be labeled as complete. (:
Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto. I have not even read the latest... thirty or so chapters. If Sakura ended up dying, please don't tell me.