A/N: This is my new story. I hope you'll like it! :)

Huge thanks goes to my beta reader ― who wants to stay anonymous ― for being so nice and fixing up this chapter for me! :)

. . . . .

Summary: A bet can lead to many things, but can it bring love? Sakura's innocence is in question, which only serves to drive Sasuke over the edge. After all, anger will always be the one thing that triggers his actions.

Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto!

~.~.~.~.~.~.~.~.~.~.~.~.~.~.~.~

Claimed Innocence

1st Chapter: The Bet

Sakura swore that her life was going in a direction she never considered realistically possible. Honestly, she had to admit to herself that 'never' was not the right word, because at one time she definitely desired for this sort of outcome. However, after everything that happened in the last three years, she stopped dreaming like an immature twelve year old. Those dreams were just a part of her past. Slowly she came to learn that life was not a set of colorful dreams, especially not when Uchiha Sasuke was involved. After witnessing a different reality, she finally learned to not delude herself with impossible things. She was no longer the same girl ― there were no similarities between that naive fool who believed in fairytales and the woman she was now.

Nevertheless, sometimes fate did not play fair and she had to accept that as a part of her life.

Everything started with the incredible mess created by her so called best friend, Ino. It was one of those weeks when everything turned upside down right from the start, and ended in an immeasurable chaos.

*.*.*.*.*.*.*

The summer had just begun, but apparently the weather change was so drastic that it actually ruined everyone's daily routines. Almost every villager was taking the day off, all of them hoping to cool off under the shade of a tree or by enjoying a couple of cold beverages. In other words, the day was unofficially proclaimed as an off the chart vacation.

To make it worse, Ino was completely annoyed because of it. This was one of the days she managed to convince Sakura to take a break from her work at the hospital, but the blaring sun had to ruin everything. As she walked down the street toward her friend's apartment, she held an open palm above her eyes in an utter attempt to shield them from the piercing sunrays. The fact that she also started sweating like a pig was of no help, either.

"This sucks. Now, I must find a fun way to cool off that won't melt my makeup," she thought in defeat. She focused her mind on it, but she could not think of a good plan to fill their day and at the same time be exciting enough for Sakura to start accepting her invitations with much more eagerness.

"Yo." The sudden greeting coming from Genma startled her out of her thoughts.

"Geez, Genma, you scared me," Ino gasped, as she clutched her chest. Upon noticing his unusual attire, she asked shockingly, "What in the world are you wearing?"

His answer was a cocky smile. "My favorite blonde in the whole village… this must be my lucky day!" he exclaimed, as he eyed her up.

His choice in clothing was way too casual for a Jounin, but she told herself that she should not have been surprised at all. After all, this was Genma and nothing was ever normal when it came to him. Besides, it was really hot outside, so it was understandable why he was clad only in shorts with his shirt hanging around his neck. The most noticeable detail, however, ― at least, to Ino ― was his handsome bare chest covered in sheen of sweat.

Her eyes were practically glued to the glorious sight, but she suddenly realized that she had to compose herself, before she gave him the wrong idea. But, that was beside the point, because she was definitely not impressed by the mischievous look he was sending her way. That look told her enough already, that he was certainly up to something ― something that was terrible, but usual for him.

Ever since she and Sakura turned eighteen, Genma's attitude toward them changed drastically. He became bolder in his advances and definitely more straightforward with his suggestions. Sakura's fiery temper rarely shut him down, and it only served to turn him on. And Ino, on the other hand, felt as if her blow-offs tempted him more than serve their purpose.

'If only Asuma was alive,' she thought bitterly. 'He would've scared him away for life.'

Still, she was more than capable of taking care for herself. But, that never prevented Genma from acting a bit more casual with both her and Sakura. He never breached the line they set for him, but he still teased them enough to irritate them.

"Genma, I'm not in the mood, so just leave me alone," she casually dismissed him, and continued walking.

However, he was persistent for some reason and turned to follow in step right next to her. "Ah… I'm hurt, Ino," he playfully teased. "Is that the proper way to greet me?"

"I told you already! I'm―" she started, but he interrupted her speech.

"Too bad," he said, his eyes glinting humorously. Apparently, there was something going in his head that humored him, so he kept teasing, "And, here I thought that you would be interested to hear about the lake party I'm hosting."

Those words made her stop in her tracks. "What! You're hosting a lake party?" she asked in astonishment, her blue eyes shining with excitement. At that moment she realized that this could be exactly what she was looking for. "Please, tell me it's today," she begged with a pleading look.

"Of course, it's today… haven't you noticed how hot it is?" he asked, mocking her surprise.

She rolled her eyes at his sarcasm that irritated her so. "How in the world did you get permission for this?" she asked curiously.

"I have my ways," he answered in the most roguish way possible, his eye glinting with some form of self-fulfillment.

"Forget it. I shouldn't have asked," she dryly commented, her eyes narrowed. Even if she appeared irritated, she was still incredibly curious as to exactly what he did to pull this party off. It was widely known that the Hokage had to give consent for any party hosted by a shinobi that worked for the village and there was no way around it. But, she was sure that he wasn't doing something forbidden.

She observed him suspiciously for a few seconds. 'I guess Shizune couldn't resist his charm... or he bribed Tsunade with a few bottles of sake,' she thought.

"So, when does the party start?" she finally asked, because she couldn't help herself ― an out-door party excited her.

"In two hours," he shrugged. The look on his face was rather smug, being the host an all.

"Great!" she chirped excitedly.

Genma looked at his watch and made a stunned face. "Oh, shoot! I'm late… I still have a few more people to invite!" he exclaimed urgently looking back toward the road like he was in a hurry, which only gave one suggestion ― the party was not a small gathering for a few selected people ― that much was obvious.

"So, it's going to be big, huh?" she asked, hoping to hear a positive answer. She really loved parties, especially when they were crowded.

"You'll see." He winked at her, flashing a seductive smile.

Ino rolled her eyes at him, wondering when he'd realize that she was not interested. However, despite his irritable attitude, she gave him silent praise for his good looks and his taste in women.

He looked at his watch for a second time, and he bounced on his feet as he realized how late it was. Then, he waved in haste, and ran down the road.

Ino took that as her cue to go and share the incredible news with her friend. She was sure that even Sakura would be ecstatic to hear about the party. The only thing they had to forget was that Genma was the one hosting it.

Her excited musings came to a halt. Genma forgot to tell her something, she realized, once he hollered from behind her, "Hey, Blondie!"

She felt her anger rising at that little nickname he gave her. It was always Blondie with her, and Pinky with Sakura. Unable to suppress her fury, she turned to give him a piece of her mind, but he beat her to it with his own shout.

"You better be there and don't forget to invite Pinky for me!"

Before she was able to bite an insult at him, he was already gone.

"He'll never change… he's such a pervert!" she muttered angrily, as she stomped in the direction of Sakura's apartment.

*.*.*.*.*.*.*

Big was definitely the understatement of the century. Practically every Konoha shinobi was there ― at least, the ones that were not on a mission. Even Tsuande was taking a day off, sitting at a table under the biggest umbrella near the lake.

"This is nice," Ino hummed pleasantly. She was having way too much fun just sitting near the lake, with a cold drink by her side and most importantly, wearing her favorite bikini.

"Sure is," Sakura agreed eagerly. "Best day ever!" she added, before putting her sunglasses on in order to shield her eyes from the piercing sunrays.

"Too bad we have Genma to thank for it," Ino groused.

"Oh, right… I don't like the idea of thanking him for anything," Sakura couldn't help but agree. "He might take it the wrong way."

They were both not pleased with his advances, so anything that served as additional encouragement was a definite no-no in their hand-book.

"We can always just skip the pleasantries," Ino suggested casually.

"I like that," Sakura said, a playful smile grazing her lips.

Ino snorted a laugh at who she saw coming toward them. "Speak of the devil."

The ladies-man himself came to stand over them with his hair dripping wet.

"Hello, ladies!" he greeted. "Are you having fun?"

"We are!" Sakura said, a huge smile spreading on her lips. She told herself that there was no harm in being honest, even if there was a possibility that he would think of it as flirting.

"I'm glad," he said, his lips lifting in an inviting half-smile.

Sakura suddenly became very aware of his hand on her shoulder. "Take your hand off of me!" she spat impatiently, shooting him with a warning look.

He quickly removed his hand, his expression displeased. But, in the next instant he already forgot about it and asked eagerly, "Would you ladies like to join us in a game of volleyball?"

"No, thank you," Ino snapped.

"Oh, c'mon!" he flirted.

"Genma, just forget it," Sakura growled, rolling her eyes in exasperation.

"Okay, I can take a hint," he said, acting like he was hurt by their rejection, and lifted himself on his feet. As he moved away from their table, he called, "By the way, I love your bikini, Pinky! You should wear it more often." He winked at her suggestively over his shoulder and walked away.

"Urgh… he sure has a knack for ruining my mood," Sakura grumbled, slamming back into the chair.

"Tell me about it," Ino agreed, as she rubbed sunscreen on her shoulders.

"SAKURA-CHAN!"

'Naruto?' Sakura scanned her surroundings for her teammate. She spotted him running toward them, lowered her sunglasses, and smiled affectionately at his obnoxiousness. It was definitely not unexpected to see him so chipper, especially since now he had a really good reason to be happy.

"Hey, Ino!" greeted the blond, upon reaching their table.

The huge smile on his face was contagious, so Ino flashed him an equally big grin. "Hey, Naruto!"

He kneeled right next to his teammate. "This is so cool!" he said, but as he looked at the huge crowd he frowned. "Too bad the bastard is on his first ANBU mission and missed all this," he dejectedly shared his thoughts with Sakura.

She just smiled sadly at his words. If she was being honest, she would have admitted that she missed the Uchiha. However, she was trying very hard to suppress her feelings and forget about him ― all so she would be able to protect her heart from further suffering.

Seeing the sad smile on her face, Naruto tried to cheer her up. "So, we're going to greet him at the gate together on Friday, right?" he asked, hopefully.

If he hadn't given her such a sweet smile, she might have just kept on thinking about the unrequited love she suffered from. Instead, she thought that Naruto would always be her savior, always there to remind her that at least they brought him back.

"Yes, definitely," she finally answered, her lips lifting into a gentle smile.

"It's really nice that we're back to being a team," he said, settling on the ground beside her and sighing contentedly.

"It really is, Naruto," she agreed, joy filling her heart. She was really grateful that she could, at least, see him back in their lives and doing well. The years he spent away from them were incredibly torturous for her, so this was definitely more than she could ask for. With time she'd learn to live with her love pushed in some faraway corner of her heart.

After some time of just sitting beneath the scorching hot sun, Ino broke the silence. "Hey, forehead… I got an idea!" A wicked smile lifted her lips, as she played with the fresh thought in her mind.

It did not take much time for the pink-haired girl to recognize that look on Ino's face as something highly unwelcomed for her. 'Oh, no.' She was used to her friend's iniquitous ideas to the extent of learning that the end result was never good. "Why don't I like the sound of this?" she grumbled under her breath.

"Don't worry; it's nothing we haven't done before," Ino assured her, attempting to persuade her friend. Besides, the smile on her face was too vicious to be considered innocent.

Sakura sighed lazily, a sure sign that she was giving into the temptation to at least hear what Ino had to suggest. "Okay, spill it!"

The blonde smile triumphantly, as she practically bounced in her chair out of excitement. "I bet that you won't be able to beat me in a spar on the lake!" she screeched, making both Sakura and Naruto flinch.

Sakura stared at her, her brows narrowing into a scowl. "Oh, no! I'm not having another bet with you," she disagreed with much resolve.

"Why?" Ino asked, her expression portraying surprise and slight disappointment. She thought that Sakura would jump at her idea, but she definitely did not expect a flat out rejection.

"Because, if you don't remember the disaster from last time, I certainly do," Sakura explained casually, before she leaned back in her chair in an attempt to ignore Ino's incoming pleadings.

"Singing on the streets at the top of our lungs is hardly a disaster," Ino argued.

"I disagree, because it was in the middle of the night and so off-key, that even after six months I still want to die from embarrassment," Sakura spat out angrily, her mind going over the incident. Accepting that drinking bet was definitely a mistake ― because even if she won she still made a fool out of herself.

Naruto snorted a laugh, but Sakura shut him up with her fist and fierce warning, "Naruto, stop sniggering like a moron!"

He brought his hands up to rub the sore spot on his head. "Sakura-chaaan," he whined, "you don't have to be so mean! It was funny."

"Whatever," she grumbled lowly, the menacing look in her eyes never ceasing to burn. Then, she turned her full attention on Ino, determined to prove her point.

Ino appeared unconvinced. "You're exaggerating, Sakura. I don't think that anyone even recognized us."

"Maybe not you, but I had to deal with the consequences for a whole month," Sakura seethed the words through her teeth.

Ino rolled her eyes at Sakura's words, thinking that it really was no big deal and spoke disbelievingly, "That's not true."

"Well, my patients never forgot to ask me if I was one of the silly girls that sang in the streets at ungodly hours," Sakura pointed out, wishing she could forget all about it.

"They called us silly?" Ino's mouth hung open in astonishment. If she ever tried to describe that drunken behavior, she definitely would have never called it silly ― and, she never considered herself silly, or Sakura for that matter. "They don't know what real fun is," she added, for good measurement.

"So, what are we betting on?" Sakura asked, her tone betraying her curiosity.

Ino looked at Sakura with surprise. "Oh… so, now you're interested, huh?" she asked, her tone self-satisfactory.

"I'm just curious," Sakura said innocently, trying to cover up her true feelings. In reality, she was really interested in the challenge set by her friend.

"Fine, be that way!" Ino spat out, hating it when her friend feigned disinterest. Afterward, she answered simply, "The loser will have to suffer a certain punishment set by the winner."

"That doesn't sound so bad," Sakura admitted, at which Ino smiled hopefully. "Besides, we haven't sparred in a while. It should be entertaining."

Her acceptance made the blonde truly wound up. "See, I told you, it'll be fun!" Ino clapped her hands excitedly.

"This is going to be awesome, Sakura-chan!" Naruto chimed in, a blinding smile stretching his lips.

Sakura glared at him for acting so cheerful about it and ordered him to pipe down, "Naruto, don't get too excited!" before turning her challenging gaze on the other blonde. "And… Ino, don't you go wild with any ideas. I won't let you win!"

"As if I'll go easy on you!" Ino smiled in return, accepting the challenge with much eagerness. Her bright blue eyes glinted excitedly.

"Hey, guys!" Naruto shouted at the group of people surrounding them. "You're not gonna believe what Sakura-chan and Ino are about to do."

"NARUTO!" hollered Sakura, her fist clenched in anger.

But, it was too late, the damage was already done. After that loud announcement everybody would be curious to hear about their bet.

*.*.*.*.*.*.*

Naruto's loud mouth served its purpose. The good thing was that both girls didn't notice the number of people that watched them spar. If it was any different, then they wouldn't have been so completely immersed in it.

It was a full-blown brawl. They engaged in a taijutsu battle right from the start. The water was splashing beneath their feet, rising high enough to make their hair wet. They kept the battle above the surface the whole time.

Tenten's job was to referee the battle. She was so focused, that she barely sensed Neji's approach. He placed his hand gently on her lower back, surprising her.

"You startled me." She playfully hit him on his shoulder. "And, you're late."

"Whatever," he muttered disinterestedly, but then his eyes widened a tiny bit. "What's happening here, anyway?" he asked curiously.

"Ino and Sakura challenged each other and I'm their judge," she explained simply, her eyes never leaving the two figures on top of the water.

All of a sudden, Lee screamed over the loud cheering of every other male shinobi that was present, "GO, SAKURA-SAN, MY YOUTHFUL FLOWER!"

The Hyuga shook his head at his teammate's antics, not even trying to comprehend what was going through his head. He turned toward his girlfriend and asked, "Is this for another one of their famous bets?"

"Yup," she chirped. In her opinion, these types of challenges were the best.

Neji nodded absently. "What did they bet on this time?"

"It's a loser-pays-the-price bet," she answered simply, her brows scrunching up in concentration as the girls plunged underwater.

"Tch, total waste of time," he grumbled, crossing his arms over his chest. Nevertheless, he was still interested in the battle.

After all, Sakura and Ino were well-known for never taking it easy when fighting against each other. That was one of the reasons their bets were so famous.

Ino was the first one to resurface and after making sure that she was safely standing on solid ground, she readied herself to use her clan's technique on Sakura. Her body slumped on the ground with a thud, while her rival was still trapped underwater.

A whole minute passed before Ino regained control of her own mind.

However, there were surprised gasps heard from all around, once Sakura broke the water surface. Her face was red with anger, as she held her hands pressed over her bare breasts.

Ino ignored her, as she walked on the water surface in search for something. Soon after, she held Sakura's bikini top in her outstretched hand in triumph. It was the object that brought her victory, so she felt that she had the right to tease Sakura with it.

It became obvious to everyone present that the battle was already over. Everyone could see that Ino used her Mind Transfer Jutsu to make sure that Sakura's hands were occupied, making her incapable of forming any hand signs or using her super strength.

*.*.*.*.*.*.*

Everybody was gathered around the two girls, who were still wet from their fight and panting from exhaustion. However, Sakura was the only one that held a towel around her body — out of sheer embarrassment. The spectators all wanted to finally hear the punishment given by the blonde, who was known to be very vicious when it came to these kinds of things.

"Sakura, I am sorry… but she did incapacitate you," Tenten spoke in a somewhat apologetic tone. She felt bad for having to proclaim Ino as the winner, after she pulled out that dirty trick. However, the rules were that anything was allowed, so she didn't have a choice.

"It's okay, Tenten," Sakura assured the girl that she definitely did not blame her for it. But, no one said that she couldn't take out her irritation on her best friend. After all, using her Shintenshin no Jutsu in such a way was a low blow in her opinion.

"It was a lucky shot, Ino-pig! Don't get your panties in a twist," she spat, while glaring heatedly at her.

"Oh, but, I'm not… it's just that I will enjoy the moment when you'll complete the punishment," Ino gloated openly, without feeling any remorse.

After hearing those words, Sakura's face scrunched up in frustration.

"Forehead, accept it… you just lost… so, now, you'll have to do as I say," Ino added in a nonchalant manner, acting as if Sakura was more than exaggerating.

"Fine! Let's just get this over with," Sakura finally gave in. She figured that it would be better to put the whole bet past her, so she could get on with her life.

"Are you really sure you want to hear it now?" Ino asked, faking consideration for her friend. It was quite obvious to everybody that she was enjoying herself a bit too much. However, no one knew that she was doing this for a reason.

"Better sooner than later," Sakura answered with much confidence. She was not willing to show weakness in front of the blonde and definitely not scared of what was coming.

"That's fine with me," Ino spoke, her voice a bit too high for it to sound innocent. Her smile twisted mischievously. There was a whole plan developing in her mind and she was feeling quite smug for thinking of something so brilliant. She was positive that a certain Uchiha would be welcomed home with quite the surprise.

"Ino-pig… I'm waiting here!" Sakura raised her voice in a commanding way. She really hated it when Ino reveled in her victory.

"Alright, alright," the blonde spoke in a dismissive way. She then straightened her composure and laid out the bomb for all to hear, "Sakura, your punishment is to dirty dance in a bar of my choice on Friday night!"

"WHAT!" she shrieked, her green eyes bulging out in horror.

As for the guys, let's say that most of them were quite pleased to hear her punishment.

*.*.*.*.*.*.*

Sakura should have known that once Ino suggested for them to have a bet that things would definitely go wrong.

She regretted for ever accepting the challenge. She never believed that Ino would be cruel enough to ask from her to pay the price of losing by doing something so incredibly embarrassing.

That is why she dragged the blond aside and attempted to reason with her.

"Ino, I can't possibly do that!" Sakura shrieked in utter horror. She decided that if Ino was in the mood for some public humiliation then that was her problem and she would not be dragged into it.

"Scared, forehead?" Ino asked, mockingly, expecting some form of reaction from the pink-haired kunoichi.

"You wish. I just can't... it would ruin my reputation," she stated simply, as if that statement was enough of a reason to impact the blonde's twisted logic.

'She really is way too innocent for her own good,' Ino thought dejectedly, deciding to play dirty. "What reputation, Sakura? The fact that you are still a virgin?"

Sakura's eyes rounded in mortification. She blushed out of sheer embarrassment, while looking around herself to see if someone heard the improper comment. She considered this to be her lucky day, because apparently no one was looking at them. Trying to master her best look of anger, she glared at the girl standing before her and whispered harshly, "Ino-pig, don't say stuff like that. People can hear you."

Ino dismissed her words with a disinterested expression. "Whatever." She then wiggled her eyebrows in a mischievous way. "If I were you, I wouldn't have waited for that ice-cube to pop my cherry."

"Keep your voice down!" Sakura hissed, as she stared disbelievingly at her friend. "Besides, I'm not waiting for Sasuke-kun." She tried to cover her true feelings with that statement, but the way she said his name was proof of what lay in her heart.

Ever since he came back to the village she was tortured by his presence. His cold expressions, the distant look in his eyes — it was obvious that he just wanted to be alone. However, as time passed things started to change and he was no longer distancing himself from everyone. At first she felt elated, but everything came crumbling down to pieces once she realized that even if he changed he would never treat her the way she wanted him to. He rarely talked to her, for crying out loud.

Yet, despite his detachment, he lately started to act in a very peculiar way. His behavior was a definite sign that she was no longer being ignored by him. One the contrary, she could hardly dismiss his intense stare. Even at the moments she caught him staring, he did nothing to break the strange act and he was always looking at her with a strange look in his eyes that she was just not capable of understanding.

Ino caught the pensive, but sad look in Sakura's eyes. "Keep telling yourself that and one day you might believe it," she whispered, feeling sorry for her friend. After years of witnessing Sakura grow, she should have guessed that things would turn out this way. Sakura was way too emotionally fragile for her own good and it was all because of a certain cold bastard, who always treated her with inconsideration. The sad thing was that he would always be the one person that had the most influence over her emotions.

"Ino, I am completely over him," Sakura said, trying to fool even herself.

"One word, forehead... denial," Ino pointed out, hating the fact that Sakura was trying to lie to her own heart. "But, back to more important things," she skipped to the initial reason for their heated conversation. "Are you up for it or will you chicken out again?"

"Ino, if you really think that something as pesky as saying that I'm a chicken would change my mind, then you are seriously deluded." Sakura felt quite sure of her ability to resist anything thrown at her. However, she did not expect what followed next.

"Well, then... what if I told your dear Sasuke-kun of your little escapade at the midnight picnic party last year?" Ino asked with fake innocence.

"You wouldn't dare!" Sakura screeched in horror. She didn't want to remember that terrible incident, when in her drunken state of mind she yelled at the top of her lungs that she loved only Sasuke and that no one could even compare to him. At the time, she was thankful that Ino was the only one that witnessed it, but now she was not pleased at all.

"Try me!" Ino flashed a dangerous smile.

Sakura's anger burst free. "Bring it on! I accept your challenge!" she shouted. "You are going down, pig!"

Ino knew that at one point Sakura would yield. After all, she never backed down from a challenge set by her lifelong rival.

"We'll just see about that!" Ino smiled triumphantly. She congratulated herself for having such a brilliant mind. 'This just might work out as planned,' she thought, as a fresh new feeling of hope enveloped her whole.

TO BE CONTINUED…


A/N: Thank you for reading! :) I really hope you liked reading the chapter as much as I enjoyed writing it! Please, leave a review! It would mean a lot to me. :P