They finished up another training session. Kakashi, Sakura, and Naruto wanted ramen, Yamato didn't, and Sai also declined. Yamato was surprised, but the others accepted it and headed towards Ichiraku's.
"Why didn't you want to join the others, Sai?" Yamato asked. "You shouldn't decline to join them just because I'm a spoil sport. I just can't handle ramen 24/7, that's all."
"Would you like to get dinner?" Sai asked.
Yamato was startled. "Sure."
Sai bowed. "Thank you for accepting my invitation. I have already reserved a spot in a restaurant I have determined you will enjoy."
"Oh…kay." Yamato chuckled. "Thank you. That's very thoughtful of you." He grinned. Sai had never asked him to dinner before, but Sai never seemed to start small. "How about I treat you, since I'm the captain and all?"
"No," Sai said.
Yamato was surprised. Usually, people leapt at his offers to pay for meals. "Are you sure?"
"Yes." Sai looked very serious. "I have read this is how it is done. I will pay for dinner because it is the proper thing to do." Then he beamed. "Would you like to go to dinner now?"
"Yes," Yamato said gently. He didn't know what book Sai had read now, but it would likely make for interesting evening.
Sai bowed. "Follow me. I will show you the way. I do not know if you are familiar with this restaurant."
Yamato tolerantly allowed Sai to take the lead, running from rooftop to rooftop once they hit the village. The Shinobi Highway, it was called. Often, the street below would become clogged with civilians. The rooftops always provided a quick way for ninjas to get where they needed to go.
Eventually, when they reached the dining and entertainment district, Sai dropped to the street below, landing in a graceful crouch and straightening with one fluid movement. He turned and waved to Yamato, smiling brightly.
Yamato landed on the street beside him, smiling in return. Then he looked up at the building they'd stopped in front of and blanched. It was a blue building as big as a mansion, with a roof like a pagoda, dramatically peaked and curled, covered in pale grey tiles. "Uh…Sai…"
"Yes, Yamato-taichou?" Sai asked, tilting his head.
"Is this place expensive?" Yamato asked.
Sai looked pleased. "I am glad you noticed. Shall we go in? Or would you like to look at the outside some more?"
"Ah, no, that's fine, we can go in," Yamato said, dazed. What is he treating me to an expensive dinner for?
"Alright." Sai took his arm and led him inside the front door. He gave his name to the woman at the reservations desk and received a card, as well as a guide. Their guide, a young woman in a trendy kimono that shimmered blue and green as she walked, led them through the downstairs and up the staircase to the second floor, seating them at a table by a window. The view of Konoha was spectacular from this vantage point.
Yamato looked out the window, then up at the ceiling. "This ceiling is crazy tall. It must be at least a twenty foot ceiling."
"I know you appreciate architecture," Sai said helpfully. "That factored into my decision. This restaurant is a historical building original to Konoha's founding."
"It's amazing," Yamato breathed, looking around some more. He knew it was impolite, but he couldn't help it. "Are these chandeliers original?"
"I believe so, yes," Sai said, smiling.
Yamato was self-conscious all throughout the meal. Sai insisted on ordering for him, picking the most expensive things off the menu, all with that same bright smile. Yamato found himself eating beef he could cut with a fork, drinking the finest sake, and eating micro greens. Who in the world had thought up micro greens? And who had suggested putting them on top of modern fusion sushi?
"Whoever is in charge of these dishes is a mad genius," Yamato said. "This is so weird it's good."
Sai beamed. "Does that mean you like it?"
"Yes," Yamato said. "I love it. I'm amazed that you can afford it."
"I can afford it," Sai said. "This is a once in a lifetime experience. My book said so."
Yamato was puzzled all over again, but he smiled gently. "I'm honored that I get to spend this once in a lifetime experience with you, Sai. I hope you are enjoying yourself as well."
Sai flushed slightly and went expressionless like a deer, a sign that Yamato had punctured his mask. His face might have grown still, but his eyes shone. "Yes."
Yamato let his smile widen. "Good."
When they finished their meal, Yamato sat for a while just looking out the window, admiring the night landscape. The sun had set during their meal.
"What are you thinking?" Sai asked.
Yamato glanced at him. "How happy I am."
Sai's eyebrows rose. Then he looked satisfied. "Good. This is the right moment, then. One must wait for the object of one's affections to become full with contentment before broaching the subject one wishes to discuss."
Yamato was suddenly vastly uncomfortable, and amused. "You didn't have to take me to a fancy restaurant to get me to discuss difficult topics with you."
Sai stood up and pushed in his chair. "That is exactly what my book said you would say. Your words are proof that I have in fact chosen the correct scenario."
Yamato blushed. "Okay…"
Sai came around to his side of the table and got down on one knee.
"What's the matter?" Yamato asked. "Re-fastening your sandal strap?"
"No," Sai said. "This is the traditional posture my book recommends employing when asking this question."
"Um…" Yamato leaned back in his chair.
Sai drew out a small black box and opened it. A gold ring with a silver swirl pattern sat nestled in velvet. The swirl was accentuated with tiny diamonds.
Yamato stared. His mind couldn't process what his eyes were telling him.
Sai looked up at him and smiled. "Will you marry me?"
Yamato stood up. "Oh my god." His mind was racing. How could this have happened? What in the world did Sai read? How am I supposed to fix this? I can't just say no, he'll be crushed forever and never try something like this again with anyone! If I do say yes, he won't ever try this again with anyone! He'll be stuck with me forever because of some stupid book! Oh god, oh god, I'll have to teach him about divorce – but divorce will –
Sai looked pleased, that small, smug smile coming back. "Yes?"
"Oh my god," Yamato said, near tears. He couldn't seem to choke anything else out. "Sai…"
Sai perked up. "Is it not lovely? I picked it out just for you."
"Why?" Yamato asked. He wrung his hands.
Sai beamed obliviously, only too happy to explain. "My book said this is the way in which to secure someone's love forever. If I do not want to share you with anyone else and I wish for you to be a part of my life forever, then I must propose to you. That is the only proper way to make my feelings clear."
Yamato was shocked out of his panic. "Oh, Sai…" For all the wrong reasons, you're very, very right. He pushed aside his chair and knelt in front of Sai, clasping Sai's hands in his own. "Sai…I accept. I'm not leaving. I will marry you."
Sai flushed and looked very, very relieved.
Yamato was humbled by this proof that in spite of Sai's bravado, he had managed to scare his student. "I love it. It's a beautiful ring. Why don't you put it on me? That's traditional too, isn't it?"
Sai nodded. He gently worked the ring free and slid it onto Yamato's left ring finger. "It fits," he said simply.
"I knew it would," Yamato said. His voice was soft.
Sai closed the box and gave Yamato a shy look. "Do you wish to kiss me, Yamato-taichou? You may do so if the sentiment of this moment moves you."
Yamato laughed and kissed Sai's lips gently. "There. A proper kiss."
Sai touched his lips, self-consciously interested.
Yamato hugged him. Strangely, I'm happy. I'm not scared. Sai's body was pleasantly warm, even if Sai was ghostly pale.
Then it occurred to Yamato all at once: Kakashi-sempai is going to give me hell.
"Why don't we elope?" Yamato asked.
"What is eloping?" Sai asked.
"Eloping is the traditional process of skipping a protracted wedding service and legally marrying right away with little or no witnesses beyond the legal judiciaries," Yamato said.
Sai beamed. "Okay. Do you want to get married tonight, Yamato-taichou?"
Yamato reflected on that. "Yes. I think that would be best."
Sai stood up, helping Yamato up in the process. "Okay. Let me pay for dinner and we shall go."
Yamato looked at the ring glittering on his finger. Thank god for twenty-four hour availability. I don't think we could get away with this if we didn't live in a ninja village.
As it was, they'd barely scrape by. Yamato didn't even want to think about what Tsunade would say. Then again, marriage was said to breed stability, and if Sai needed anything, it was lots of stability.