It's a oneshot. It's kinda long. Sorry.
Happy reading, though.
Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto.
Who would leave her flowers? Red roses, at that. A lot of red roses. Twenty-four red roses, to be exact. She'd returned from her lunch break to find the bundle of red sitting right in the middle of her desk. A few questions to various personnel left her with no clues as to who had left them, but a bevy of nurses casually strolling by to get a glimpse. Like it was such a rare thing for Sakura to get flowers. Please. Naruto had handed her a wilted daisy just the other day, plucked straight from the hospital's flower garden. Granted, it still had dirt clinging to the roots, and it was a preemptive move on his part, to butter her up so he could ask her a favor (could she please write up his mission report for him?), but it was still a flower, given to her. Not such a rare occurrence.
But still, who would have possibly left her a giant bouquet of I-love-you-passionately flowers? As far as she knew, Lee was the only one who declared his love for her on a regular (loud) basis (or at all), but he wouldn't be sneaky about leaving flowers for her. No, he'd leap into the foyer of the hospital, strike a pose and yell out for all to hear that he was youthfully delivering flowers to his own beautiful flower. Yosh.
Though it seemed unlikely that the culprit was Lee, she couldn't definitively discount him. Deciding that she wasn't going to get any work done anyway until she figured out where the damn flowers had come from, she decided to make a list.
First name, obviously, Lee. She put a question mark next to his name, then thought about who else could have done it. Naruto. Again, unlikely (as he was in love with Hinata), but she couldn't leave anyone out for now. Now, who else? Sasuke, Neji, Shikamaru. Gai? Dear God, she hoped not. Kiba, Choji, Shin. Kakashi? Asuma? Genma? Oooh, possibly Genma. He's smarmy that way. Maybe someone from a neighboring village? Gaara? Kankuro? Maybe he'd fallen in love with her when she'd saved his life. It's been known to happen. Hero worship, or something like that. She seemed happy with her list, then added, as a final entry, 'secret admirer'. That seemed to be most likely, since she honestly couldn't picture anyone on her list actually giving her flowers. Once she did figure it out, though, she was going to give them hell, because this was damned annoying.
She glanced at the flowers again, which she had carefully scooted off to the side, and a sudden idea struck her. Ino! Holy damn, her family only runs the only flower shop in the village, so of course she'd know who bought the flowers. And, being the gossip that she was, it was a safe bet that she wasjust dying to tell someone.
Sakura decided to take off early, and made her way to Ino's flower shop. This would be cake. Ino never could keep any sort of secret, especially not if the person she was supposed to keep the secret from was right in front of her. She always had to be the first to tell anyone anything. Sakura smiled smugly to herself. Problem solved, just like that.
Only it wasn't. Problem seemed determined to remain unsolved. Ino wasn't talking. She fairly vibrated with excitement, but was adamant in her refusal to tell Sakura what she wanted to know. It wasn't just the death threat that kept her silent, either. Well, alright, that was mostly it, but she also stayed quiet for the sheer joy of upsetting Sakura. It's what friends do (sometimes). At any rate, upsetting Sakura was a great past time for Ino, so this time, at least, she'd keep the secret. For now.
The bell over the door tinkled, and in a bored voice, Ino recited, "Welcome to – ah!" The second she saw Sakura, she slapped her hands over her mouth and squealed. Her blue eyes were bright with the knowledge that she knew something Sakura didn't.
Sakura just smiled in greeting. She'd try to be blasé at first, as though she hadn't received the ginormous bouquet. "So," she tried, "how's business?"
It seemed to take Ino a few moments to get herself under control, so that the first thing she said wouldn't be the secret she was determined to keep. "Business is fine," she smirked.
"Good, good," Sakura nodded. "Couldn't help but notice a bunch of roses are missing from your stock. Somebody in trouble, huh?" She waggled her eyebrows in that come-on-you-know-you-want-to-tell-me way.
"Wouldn't you like to know."
Sakura narrowed her eyes. "Who bought them?"
Ino shrugged. "I don't know what you're talking about."
Sakura nearly growled. "You damn well do, too. I returned from lunch to find a huge pile of red roses on my desk, but no card. So spill."
"You know who bought them, though."
"I didn't say that."
Sakura was getting frustrated. "If I give you a list of names, would you at least confirm whether or not he's on there?"
"So sure it's a 'he', huh?"
Sakura blinked. "Of course it is! Who else would… Why would a w-… What the hell, Ino?"
Ino was having way too much fun, but decided, from Sakura's panicked look, to throw her a bone. "Yes, Forehead. It's a 'he'."
"Aha!" Sakura exclaimed. "So you do know who he is."
Ino nodded sagely. "You know him, too."
Sakura paused, then pulled out her list and scratched out 'secret admirer'. As she studied the list, she didn't notice that Ino was doing the same until she heard her friend snort.
Sending Ino a vicious glare, she crossed Gaara's name off the list. Ino went back to studying the list; Sakura studied Ino and smiled triumphantly when recognition sparked in Ino's eyes. "So he is on this list."
Ino knew she'd given herself away, so she didn't bother denying it. "Yeah, yeah. He's on there. I'll give you another clue: he's local." Meaning she could cross Kankuro off her list, too. "And it's not Shikamaru." Ino just had to make that perfectly clear.
Sakura thought she was making some headway. From a list of 15, she'd already crossed off four names. If she thought about it a little harder, she was sure she could cross off more. Or she could just find everyone left on her list and, under severe duress, simply make them tell her if they had or had not placed flowers on her desk. She wasn't quite in the mood yet to cause bodily harm to every guy she knew, so she decided to play along for a little bit longer. Whoever had given her flowers had gone to at least some lengths to give her a mystery to solve. For now, at least, she'd investigate.
She looked at Ino again, hoping her friend was ready to spill the beans. "Any more clues for me?"
Ino wasn't spilling anything. "Nope."
"You suck," Sakura informed her best friend.
Ino just laughed. "I love you, too!"
Sakura waved, "Yeah, yeah. I'll see you later."
Their group of friends, plus most of their senseis, were planning to meet at the local pub later, an event that had become a weekly tradition. Those who were not out on a mission met up every week to drink, laugh and just have a good time together. Come to think of it, everyone currently on her list would be there tonight. Hopefully, she'd have this damn thing figured out by then.
Finding a comfortable shady spot, Sakura sat down and studied her list. Start with Naruto. With some thought, she crossed off his name. Like Lee, he really lacks the subtlety to pull off something like that. If it had been Naruto, he would have been pestering Sakura as to whether or not she'd received anything. Not that he'd buy her I-love-you-passionately flowers anyway. He was pretty much ga-ga over Hinata, so, yeah. Not Naruto.
Five names. A third of the way done.
Ok, Lee. Yeah, no, Sakura decided. Lee would never have secretly left a bouquet of flowers for anyone. He's all about announcing himself, and, honestly, he probably would have made a competition out of it. Something like, "Yosh, I'll run 200 laps around Konoha for each flower presented to you, my flower of youthful springtime." Or something equally odd. As her day had been exceptionally quiet thus far (screams of agony from her patients notwithstanding), she decided to cross him off, too.
Six names. One a roll. Score.
Gai. No. Just no. She didn't even want to think about it.
Seven names gone.
Kakashi. Chances are if Kakashi wanted to give her flowers, he'd take the Naruto route and yank something out of a surrounding flower bed (though he'd be thoughtful enough to actually knock the dirt clods off the roots). Kakashi was pretty much a cheapskate, and 24 freakishly red roses was not cheap. Also, why would he give her flowers anyway? Having known her since she was prepubescent, that would be awkward as hell. So, no Kakashi.
Eight names, little over halfway done. "This isn't so hard," Sakura muttered.
Next name: Asuma. Well, hell. Why had she put his name on there anyway? He's married. And any married man knows it's in his best interest to stay faithful. Especially if that man is married to a kunoichi. They know things. Hurtful things.
So, nine names gone. Hell, if she'd put a little more thought into making her list in the first place, it wouldn't have been as long as it was. So who's left? Genma, Choji, Shin, Kiba, Neji and Sasuke.
She looked at the next name: Genma. Hmm. Would he? Or wouldn't he?
"Sakura!" Naruto's jubilant yell interrupted her. She glanced up to see him and Sasuke headed her way. Hurriedly, she scrunched up the paper and thrust is behind her back as she stood up to greet them.
"Hi, Naruto, Sasuke." Sasuke merely grunted.
Naruto grinned. "What're you hiding?"
Sakura shook her head. "Hiding? Me? Nothing. Why would I hide anything? I have nothing to hide. What's going on?"
Sasuke snorted and reached behind her at the same time as Naruto. Both made a grab for the paper as Sakura whipped her hands around to her front. She was milliseconds away from shoving the paper down her shirt when both of her wrists were grabbed and Naruto snatched the balled up paper out of her fist.
"Damn you," she snarled. "Why are you so nosy?"
"Why are you trying to hide it from us?" Sasuke asked quietly. She didn't answer and he simply stared at her as Naruto flattened out the pilfered paper and read it. He looked up at her, confused.
"It's just a list of names. Mine's crossed off. Is this your murder list?"
Sakura glared. "Yes, you ass. I've already killed you." She turned to Sasuke. "You're next."
Both boys just grinned at her and that's when she knew. They knew. They knew what the list was and why she had made it.
"Who did it?" she bellowed.
"Whoa, Sakura, calm down!" Naruto handed her the list. "You make it sound as though someone broke into your apartment. It's just flowers."
"Just flowers? Just flowers? It's two dozen blood red I-freakin'-love-you roses. First of all, they mean love. That means someone loves me, and I want to know who, damn it. It's about time I get some love, too. Second of all, they're wicked expensive." She narrowed her eyes and turned to Sasuke. "Come to think of it, you have a lot of money."
"I do," he acknowledged.
"Spent any lately?"
"Bought some tomatoes earlier."
"Can I see the receipt?"
"You guys suck."
"What'd I do?" Naruto whined.
"You," Sakura ground out, stabbing a finger into his chest, "are participating in this scheme against me." She pouted prettily. "I thought we were best friends."
"W-we are," Naruto stammered. He had a distinct weakness against both Sakura's puppy-dog eyes and her I-thought-we-were-friends attack. He tried not to look at her, instead focusing on something over her left shoulder, but she just continued to stare at him. And the inevitable happened. He caved.
Naruto's shoulders slumped in defeat. "Alright, I give. It's …–" Sasuke's fist shot out and connected with Naruto's jaw, sending his head snapping back and abruptly cutting off his sentence.
"What the hell?" both Naruto and Sakura demanded. "That hurt, ass," Naruto murmured, rubbing his sore jaw.
Sakura glared at Sasuke. "Why'd you do that? Do you enjoy seeing me this frustrated?"
Sakura huffed. "Fine, if you aren't going to help me, go away before I hurt you."
"As if you could," Sasuke taunted. She hit him. Hard. In the face. He should have expected it, really. It was glaringly obvious that her already short fuse was, at this point, nonexistent. But, being Sasuke, he has to have the last word. And, being Sasuke, he had to taunt her. It's what he did. And he did it well.
She regretted the action immediately. It wasn't his fault she was so frustrated. Or was it? She didn't figure he'd answer her honestly – or at all – if she simply asked him if he'd bought her flowers, so she didn't even bother. With a deep sigh, she healed both Sasuke's and Naruto's sore jaws before turning back to her crumpled paper. They mumbled their thank-yous.
"If you guys aren't going to help me, which you should, because we're teammates, then can you give me a hint?"
"It's not Genma."
That was a bit more than a hint, but she wasn't going to complain. It was another named crossed off her list, and that was just great.
"No? Damn." Did she just see Sasuke stiffen? A trick of the light perhaps.
Naruto snorted. "You really thought it might be Genma? When has he ever bought anything but condoms for a woman?"
"Point taken," she said. "Kind of a bummer, though. He's hot." Nope, not a trick of the light. Sasuke definitely stiffened. 'Aha,' she thought, with a gamine smile.
Naruto glanced over the list again. "I really can't believe some of the names you have on there. Gaara? Seriously? And Gai?" Naruto dissolved into a fit of laughter.
"Shut up," Sakura growled. "Just covering all my bases. As you can see, most of the names have been crossed off. I only have five names to go."
"And then what?"
"What," Naruto asked, "are you going to do once you figure out who it is?"
"Ah, well," Sakura smiled. "That depends wholly on who it turns out to be. You know, Neji is one of the most eligible bachelors in the village. I'd marry him in a heartbeat."
Naruto glanced sideways at Sasuke, and noted that Sasuke was looking less pleased by the second. "Ahahahaha," he laughed nervously. "What if it's Choji? Or Shino?"
Sakura hmmed, thinking. She was pretty sure she knew the identity of her flower delivery guy, simply by his reactions to the current conversation. Still, she doubted she'd get any sort of definitive answer out of him (because Sasuke was all about being ambiguous) so she wasn't going to just completely assume it was him (though it would be pretty much awesome if she was right – because, you know, she already loved him).
"I wouldn't tell them no," she finally answered. "We could date awhile and see how it goes." She grinned at her boys, completely enjoying the nervous glances Naruto kept shooting at Sasuke as well as the annoyed expression on Sasuke's face. Oh, yes, she knew now who'd given her the flowers. And he knew she knew, but he wasn't going to be the first to back down. So be it.
"Well," she chirped, "if you guys will excuse me, I have five guys to go talk to. Oh, make that four. Guess I can cross off your name, huh, Sasuke? Since you only bought tomatoes. If I'm not mistaken, that's Neji over there. See you later!" She strolled away from them, basking in the fury floating off of Sasuke in waves.
"Neji!" she called, fully aware that the other two were still staring at her. Neji stopped and turned to her when she called his name. He smiled at her in greeting and Sasuke nearly hit the roof.
"So," she began, placing her hand on his arm. "Bought any roses lately?" Neji raised an eyebrow in confusion, looking down into Sakura's upturned, flirty, smiling face.
"Pardon?" He looked over her head at the seething Sasuke and quickly guessed her game. Never let it be said that Neji ignored a chance to provoke Sasuke. Ever.
He gave Sakura his most charming grin ever. "Roses, you say? Red ones?"
Sakura nodded, surprised. Was... was Neji playing along with her? Doubt crept in. Or did he actually buy her the roses? Come to think of it, Neji had a lot of money, too. He could easily afford two dozen red roses.
Knowing full well that Sasuke could hear him (and see him), Neji covered Sakura's hand with his own. "What do you say we go have dinner and discuss red roses?"
Sakura wasn't as sure in her conclusion anymore. Sasuke? Or Neji? Neji had just started pulling her along when Sasuke exploded.
"It was me, damn it!"
Naruto was gaping at Sasuke, unable to believe that he'd actually cracked, and so easily, too. Sasuke had told him that he'd meant to leave Sakura flapping in the wind for a while because, well, he really enjoyed irritating her. Her every expression was so easy to read, and he was fascinated as they fluttered across her face. And, most of the time, he wasn't afraid of her temper as he was faster than she was. He'd wanted her well frustrated and confused when he surprised her with the second part of her gift. Because he was in control. Always.
Interference, however, was not to be had. Especially interference from Neji. Neji was handsome, from a prominent clan, and Sakura had already stated that he was one of the most eligible bachelors in the village. It probably wouldn't take much effort on Neji's part to sweep her off her feet. Damn if Sasuke would allow it, though.
Both Neji and Sakura had turned back at Sasuke's outburst.
"What was you?" Sakura asked, feigning innocence. A lesson had to be taught here, and she was going to teach it. Sasuke Uchiha ought to learn that Sakura would not merely follow his every whim. He had to bend a little, too. And bend he would. Even if she had to break his back (she'd fix it later). (Maybe.)
Was she really going to make him confess that he'd bought her two dozen I-really-really-freakin'-love-you roses? That, yes, he had a romantic side (albeit a very small romantic side)? That the aloof and uncaring Uchiha was actually just a big damn sweetheart?
Why yes, yes she was. In front of witnesses, no less.
"I bought you the roses."
A chorus of "aws" erupted from a growing crowd. Really, where had these people come from? The street was empty not five minutes ago. He couldn't help but notice Ino standing right in the front row, and he had his answer. Once reading the scene (they were pretty close to her shop after all), she'd no doubt issued an invitation to all within earshot to come see the humiliation of Sasuke.
Sakura had let go of Neji's arm (after gratefully smiling at him for playing along) and stepped towards him. "What roses?"
He decided he'd kill her. Then his reputation as an unemotional hardass could be preserved, and he could get on with his day. Beside him, Naruto snorted his amusement. Sasuke decided to kill him, too. Maybe Neji, too, just for the hell of it. And Ino. Why not make it a streak?
"You damn well know what roses."
Yep, definitely had to kill her.
Sasuke was developing a tic near his right eye. Sakura thought it was fascinating. How long had he had that? Still, she decided not to push him further, as his eyes held a definite murderous gleam. With Naruto being closest to him (and not hiding his amusement whatsoever), she could easily figure out Sasuke's first victim.
However, she decided to get one last shot in. "Thank you, for the very beautiful you-really-really-freakin'-love-me roses. It's very sweet." Her voice was not as quiet as he would have liked. In fact, it wasn't quiet at all.
The "aws" chorused again, louder this time. A few were in a lower register, coming from some men. The tic intensified. Great, now everyone knew he was a closet softy, buying roses and whatnot for the girl he loved. He should have just knocked her out and dragged her home. (At this point, killing her was still an option. He'd find love again, he was sure.) He couldn't believe she'd turned the situation around on him. Instead of him enjoying her frustration, she was enjoying his humiliation.
She finally took pity on him, and closed the distance between them, so that the rest of the crowd wasn't as privy to their conversation. Standing in front of him, she grinned up into his murderous face. He tried really hard, but he couldn't maintain his anger. He smirked at her.
Again, the "aws".
With a growl and glare thrown at the crowd, he grabbed her wrist and dragged her away. She just grinned and waved, giggling when most of the crowed (even Neji) waved back. When they were finally alone, he stopped and turned to her.
He stubbornly remained silent, so she decided to speak first. "How long were you going to let me wonder?"
He cleared his throat. "If you hadn't figured it out, I had planned to tell you tonight, with part two of your gift."
"Because you would have killed someone if you hadn't figured it out." His tone of voice implied a huge "duh".
"No, stupid. I mean, why did you give me those flowers? And what's part two?"
He crossed his arms across his chest. "You really need to ask?"
"So," she grinned. "You really-really-freakin'-passionately-love-me, huh?"
He cleared his throat again. A faint pink tinged his cheeks. Her eyes widened. Sasuke was nervous! How adorable was that?
"Well, yes, I do, but it wasn't my intention to send you such a blatant message. I was aiming for just a simple 'I love you'."
"Would it have killed you to include a card?"
He shrugged. "Maybe. But then I wouldn't have had the joy of watching you get angry and annoyed."
"You're a sadist."
He grinned. "Maybe."
"So..." she trailed off. He raised an eyebrow. "What's part two?"
For his answer, he simply leaned down and sealed her lips with his.
A quiet chorus of "aws" sounded. The damn crowd had followed them, but they were trying to be quiet. With a snarl, Sasuke broke away from Sakura, intent on doing some serious harm. Sakura simply grasped his face and kissed him again. He totally deflated, the crowd completely forgotten. With a wave of her hand, she shooed them away.
When they were finally and truly alone, he broke the kiss and leaned his forehead against hers.
"I love you."
She giggled. "Never would have known you have such a sweet side. The village had no idea, either."
It wasn't too late to kill her. And the village. He'd get away, he was sure of it. Tsunade might understand.
She seemed to understand the direction of his thoughts. With a small smile, she said, "I love you, too. Really-freakin'-passionately-love-you."
He smirked, a smug air settling about him. Of course she loved him.
"You know," she said, offhandedly, determined to deflate his ego. "It's a good thing you spoke up when you did. I was just about to proposition Neji."
"… the hell?"
"Thanks for the flowers." He stood frozen as she walked away.
He ran after her; she smirked. He'd be trained in no time.
"Hey...", he murmured. What just happened? When had he lost control? Had he ever had it? After the day's events, he wasn't so sure. She was damn sneaky. Making him confess, making him unsure, making him jealous. He smirked. For the rest of his life, he'd happily buy her giant bouquets of I-really-really-freakin'-love-you flowers and put up with the "oohs" and "aws" of the crowds and occasionally give her the upper hand (though it was more likely that she'd already have it).
Because he loved her.
He still might kill her, though.
A/N: Um. This started with a doodle. Yeah, so. It's 4:30 in the morning, so that's going to be my excuse for any badness in this fic. There's not much of a plot, and it just kind of goes all over the place, but it's been years since I've written anything, so... I'm still kind of proud of it. I enjoy humor, and that was my ultimate goal here, so I hope a few guffaws were produced... or maybe even a chuckle.
Go figure that I can sit here and knock out a 4,000+ word... thing, but writing a 250 word homework assignment takes me for-freakin-ever.