Chapter Five: Boys and Girls (Are Dumb)
Takahashi Ayame had come to the conclusion that all boys were incurably stupid.
She didn't know how much more she could take. She had done everything she could think of, from changing her hairstyle to trying new makeup to spending her entire month's salary on a wonder bra that was supposed to make you appear three cup sizes bigger (it didn't). It seemed that nothing would attract the attention of her pudgy paramour, Chouji Akamichi.
Utterly frustrated, she thought it might be better to just give up on the idea of snaring a man altogether and commit herself to a life of celibacy. Perhaps, join a nunnery.
Suddenly, a loud noise distracted her from her thoughts. A pink haired kunoichi burst into the shop in a whirlwind of anger and frustration, seating herself at the bar and banging her fists on the counter with dramatic flair. Ayame recognized her immediately as Haruno Sakura, the teammate of her very best customer, Naruto. The brunette waitress opened her mouth to ask for her order when Sakura, very eloquently, smashed her head into the wooden surface of the bar, and wailed, "Are all boys stupid?"
Ayame blinked. She was taken aback. It was not often that a customer walked in voicing exactly how she was feeling at the moment. Now, she was far too shy and much too polite to tell Sakura how she really felt, and that was a big HELL YEAH! Instead, she remained silent until Sakura raised her head and peered up at her through shaggy rose-colored bangs. Her eyes were red and puffy with previously shed tears, dark circles underneath them. The waitress knew that face, she had worn it many times herself. Depression, anger, frustration. Men.
The dark-haired girl frowned. She pitied the woman before her, suffering from a plight not unlike her own, a comrade in arms. She grabbed a couple of teeny porcelain cups and placed them on the bar. She turned her back to the mess of a woman momentarily to take a jug of rice wine off of one of the shelves and filled both cups. "Here," she whispered. She pushed one of the cups towards Sakura, picking up the other herself and sipping at it. The warm taste of the wine soothed her frazzled nerves. She felt less like strangling everyone with a Y-Chromosome, if only slightly.
Sakura stared at the alcohol momentarily, before wrapping shaky fingers around the ivory cup and throwing it back in one gulp. Abruptly, she yelled out to the empty shop. "I am not going to lose!" she huffed, slamming the cup on the counter angrily. "Naruto has liked me way longer than that pig." She said smugly, smirking to herself and tossing her hair, a full transformation from the blubbering mess moments before. Ayame smiled at her. She admired her confidence. "I will have him. Watch me." Sakura grinned. The brunette nodded at her, to show her support.
Ayame was a less than surprised that Sakura had gotten a crush on her blonde teammate. She had suspected it from the way she acted around him. She was rather glad the kunoichi had come to realize it herself, since she knew Naruto had a thing for her, or at least he had. Lately, he had been coming into the shop with the Yamanaka woman rather frequently. Still, Ayame hoped that Sakura could convey her feelings to Naruto in a way that she herself could not seem to communicate to Chouji.
It was at that moment that Naruto entered the shop with the blonde girl, causing Sakura to squeal and throw herself over the bar counter. She scrambled to hide as the two seated themselves at one of the tables Teuchi had installed in the addition he had built in the previous year. Sakura peeked at them from in between the stacks of bowls, glaring.
It was also in that moment that Ayame lost a lot of respect for Sakura.
- 0 -
Earlier in Ino and Naruto's Apartment
"A date, huh?" Ino peered at Naruto over the rim of her glass. She took a sip of orange juice and contemplated his question. They were eating breakfast. It was a simple one of eggs over rice with a side of toast. She hadn't really felt like cooking that morning, but thankfully Naruto was alright with nearly anything that was provided as long as it was edible.
"Yeah!" the other blonde smiled at her sheepishly, "We have been dating for a week now and living together for six and I thought we should try and go out or something." He didn't meet her gaze directly, blushing furiously as he stumbled over his words. Ino couldn't help but smile. Naruto had such confidence on the battlefield, yet he was so sweet and shy when it came to girls and romance. She brought a mouthful of rice to her lips and chewed for a few moments, enjoying the sight of him twiddling his thumbs nervously as he awaited her answer.
Ino swallowed and spoke, "I have a lot of errands today, but why don't you come with me and we'll make a day of it?" she asked. He perked up, looking her directly in the eyes and grinning ear to ear.
"Okay!" Naruto agreed, immediately returning to his food. His previous nervousness forgotten, he began talking a mile-a-minute about anything and everything. Ino sat quietly, listening to him and finishing her own meal. She smiled to herself. She was actually enjoying having Naruto as a roommate and a boyfriend. He may have been childish and rather dimwitted at times, but he was also incredibly loyal and attentive. The devious Yamanaka grinned at the thought of Sakura's face at the brunch barely a week before. She had been infuriated at the notion of the two blondes in a relationship.
Ino had always loved pissing Sakura off.
She would be lying if she said she didn't enjoy the fact that Naruto used to have a crush on her large-foreheaded best friend and now liked her instead. Ino loved Sakura deeply and valued their friendship, but that didn't change the fact that a natural animosity existed between them. They would forever be interlocked in eternal rivalry. Ino had not chosen to date Naruto to one-up Sakura, she genuinely liked him. It was simply icing on the cake that their relationship just so happened to ruffle her feathers.
Naruto finished his meal and picked up the plates on the table. He leaned over to give Ino a quick peck on the lips before running to the sink to wash them. Ino smirked, "You don't know what you're missing, Sakura-Chan!" she thought to herself.
- 0 -
Sakura watched Naruto and Ino from behind the counter with the tenacity of a hawk eyeing its prey. She barely noticed the strange way in which the brunette waitress eyed her before shaking her head disdainfully and walking over to the table to ask Naruto and Ino for their orders. Sakura strained to hear them, but to no avail. She had to be closer. She had to know what they were saying.
The rose-haired kunoichi pushed her body flat against the ground and army crawled behind the counter until she reached the plants by the wall. Using whatever shinobi-skills she could muster, she flattened herself against the wall and hid behind the fauna, inching closer to the table where the couple was chatting.
"So what is your plan for today, Ino-Chan?" Naruto asked. He thought it would be best if they did his errands first, which only included picking up more instant ramen from Ichiraku. While Ayame filled their order, the two sat at a nearby table to discuss their agenda for the day. Sakura frowned, she didn't like the way Naruto used the suffix chan when he spoke to Ino.
"I really only need to pick up some needles at the weapons shop and a book I specially ordered at the bookstore." Ino explained, "I figured once that was done we could get some ice cream or something." She tucked a stray piece of golden hair behind her ear casually as she spoke. She was dressed informally in a flowing light blue dress made of light materials that swirled around her. It cut off just above her knee and she had paired it tan sandals that had just the slightest bit of a heel.
"Oh, that sounds fun!" Naruto replied, enthusiastically. Sakura could see him getting visibly more excited, his legs jittering beneath the table with his anticipation. She glowered at the couple. She was going to follow them and see if this whole "relationship" thing was for real. She needed to know if Naruto had really given up on her
Ayame came staggering out of the back room, a huge case filled with instant ramen packages, labeled with the Ichiraku logo, clutched in her skinny arms. She began to make her way back to the table when she stumbled a little, the box nearly slipping from her grasp. Like a flash of lightning, Naruto jumped to his feet and caught the box, "I got it Ayame-Chan." He told her, lifting the case from her arms with one hand as easily as if it were made of paper. "Thank you very much." He set the case down on the chair he had vacated and fished his frog coin purse out of his pocket. Clicking the gaping mouth open, he tugged a few bills out of it and slid them into her hand. She smiled gently and thanked him. He didn't notice that she was glancing past him at the plants on the wall. Sakura pushed a finger to lips and shushed her.
Ayame shook her head again and walked back behind the counter.
"Well, now that we have this we can get going, right?" Naruto asked, picking up the case and placing it on his shoulder. "I'll run back to the house quickly to drop this off and meet you at the weapons shop. Sound good?"
"Yeah, that's great." Ino said, pushing herself up from the table. She placed her hands on the table and leaned over it, puckering her lips. Naruto took her cue and leaned down to give her a kiss. It only lasted a second, but it was enough to make Sakura want to rip Ino's lips off. Naruto broke the kiss, blushing deeply, and rushed out the door at top speed. Sakura ground her teeth. She looked daggers at her best friend, hoping her glare might ignite Ino. The roseate kunoichi pursed her lips. She had to bite her tongue to keep from screaming.
She watched Ino as she stood silently for a moment, watching the door. She was also blushing lightly, humming like a schoolgirl. The blonde shook her head and smiled to herself, skipping out the door without so much as a word to the waitress.
Ayame watched the plants expectantly.
Sakura shot up from behind the plants, a few leaves sticking haphazardly in her hair. Her face was twisted in an expression torn between depression and anger. She stomped towards the door, stopping abruptly to look over her shoulder at Ayame. "Thanks for the drink!" she snapped at the brunette, before exiting the ramen shop with purpose. Ayame watched her go, smiling to herself while she scrubbed the bar counter.
"Absolutely perfect for each other." She thought to herself, grinning devilishly.
- 0 -
The Weapons Shop
Sakura entered the weapons shop, glancing around her to make sure that neither Naruto nor Ino spotted her. Luckily, she didn't see either flaxen haired individual. It seemed that she had arrived before both of them, so she slid quietly in between two of the aisles and peeked around the corner, waiting patiently for one of them to arrive.
She nearly jumped out of her skin, whipping around to find herself face-to-face with the brunette weapons expert. "TenTen!" she exhaled, relived. "I thought you were someone else." Sakura explained, running her fingers through her hair, exasperatedly. She pulled a leaf from her hair and wondered momentarily how and when it had gotten there, but quickly dismissed the thought and tossed it aside.
A smile played on TenTen's lips. She gave the pink-haired kunoichi a once over, scrutinizing her with pinpoint precision. She met her gaze and grinned, "You're doing something bad!" she said in a sing-song voice. Sakura flushed, was she a psychic or something?
"I" she began but the brunette cut her off, wagging a finger under her nose.
"You can't fool me!" TenTen grinned, her voice melodious with excitement. Sakura cursed her bad fortune, of all the people she could have run into while tailing Naruto and Ino, it had to be the little dual-bunned gossip. "What are you up to? Can I come?" TenTen asked her, bouncing on her toes eagerly.
"I" Sakura began, but her voice died in her throat when she heard the tinkle of the bell at the entrance of the shop. Without thinking, she rushed over to the end of the aisle with TenTen hot on her heels. She slowly peered around the edge and saw Ino entering the store. The blonde looked around the entrance area, obviously searching for someone. Sakura gnashed her teeth and prayed she had the willpower not to attack her on the spot.
"Oh, it's just Ino-Chan." TenTen stated lamely, noticeably disappointed. It was quite obvious she had been expecting someone much more exciting. She leaned over Sakura, deciding to invite Ino along on their little excursion. "H!" she started to call the blonde, but Sakura whipped around and slammed a hand over her mouth. Ino glanced around for the source of the noise for a second, before dismissing it and walking off in the opposite direction towards the needles.
It took TenTen a moment to register the shock of being silenced so abruptly before she began to put two-and-two together. Her big, fawn-colored eyes widened with the realization of what was going on. She tried to speak, but Sakura still hadn't removed her hand. Angrily, she stuck her tongue out and flattened it, running the expanse of it across Sakura's palm. "EWW!" Sakura yelped, whipping her hand away from TenTen's face and wiping it vigorously on her tanned skirt.
"Why are you tailing Ino?" TenTen demanded, "And keep in mind if you don't tell me, I will find out anyway and I may just tell Ino-Chan I saw you here." TenTen smirked. She licked her lips. If gossip was food, she would be bigger than Chouji. A few more teeny pushes and the walls of Sakura's barely standing resolve would come crumbling to the ground.
Sakura bit her lip and began to shake. Her pent-up emotions were finally beginning to take a toll on her. "II" she began, stumbling over her words, unsure of where to begin. She knew how incredibly crazy she looked right now. Hell, she was basically a stalker. Her face reddened visibly at the thought.
TenTen raised her eyebrows and wiggled them playfully, taunting her. Suddenly, she snapped. Her will broken, Sakura found the story tumbling from her lips faster than her brain could keep up with it.
As if a dam had broken inside her, all the feelings she had been wrestling with for the past six years came rumbling to the surface. "I love Naruto." Sakura said, matter-of-factly. The moment the words were spoken aloud she realized how very true they were. Suddenly, this entire endeavor didn't seem as crazy as she knew it was. TenTen stared at her, mouth slightly agape. "I love him." She repeated, "I love him so much it hurts and she took him. She took him before I knew I loved him and it isn't fair. He loved me first!" Sakura seethed.
TenTen was taken aback. She had had some mild suspicions about Sakura's feelings for Naruto, especially since the incident at the breakfast, but she had never actually expected her to say it. A huge, unabashed grin broke out on her face. "Well, good for you for finally admitting it!" the brunette patted Sakura's shoulder affectionately, "That still doesn't explain why you're here, though." TenTen pointed out. She paused for a moment, before asking, "Are you going to murder Ino?"
Sakura's brow furrowed and she frowned, "I was thinking about it." She admitted, not meeting her gaze. TenTen couldn't help but smile at that look of murderous contemplation that could only be worn by a jilted teenage girl. "Naruto is going to be here soon. They're going on a date." the pink-haired girl said the word with venom, "I decided to follow them and see if you know," she struggled momentarily, fighting back tears that threatened to escape, "If he's really given up on me." She finished.
The brunette couldn't help but be touched by her plight, "I'll help." She insisted, touching her shoulder. Sakura looked up to meet the misty-eyed gaze of the weapons expert, fighting back her own sympathetic tears. She raised a rose-shaded eyebrow and quickly dismissed the spectacle as one of the many unknown quirks of Noname TenTen.
"Fine, you can help." Sakura agreed. TenTen let out an excited squeal, moving to throw her arms around the taller kunoichi when Sakura stopped her, "But you cannot tell anyone about this, TenTen. I mean it." She said, sternly. TenTen flashed her a wanton smile, to which Sakura glared and whispered, "Seriously, if any of this gets back to either Naruto or Ino. I will put you through a wall." Sakura snarled. TenTen's eyes widened slightly and she nodded enthusiastically.
"I won't. I won't." TenTen reassured her, still maintaining her thousand-watt smile. She hoped that her voice didn't betray her, since inside she was shaking with fear at the very real possibility of the pink-haired kunoichi snapping her body in twain and tossing it into a dumpster somewhere.
As if on cue, Naruto entered the Weapons Shop.
Alerted by the welcoming chime of the bell, Sakura and TenTen shot to the end of the aisle and peered around the display of shuriken. Naruto had abandoned his usual training outfit and dressed instead in an fitted green tee shirt and black pants. His blue necklace offset nicely against the fabric of his top.
Sakura felt herself blushing. It was almost as if she was seeing Naruto for the first time. Was he always this toned? She wondered to herself as her eyes raked over his chest and down his exposed arms. She forced herself to push the more provocative images rising to the surface to of her thoughts aside and focus on the situation at hand.
"Naruto-Kun, over heeeeereee!" Ino popped out from the aisle at the other end of the shop, waving at the blonde ninja and calling to him in a voice so girly it nearly sparkled. Naruto visibly brightened when he saw Ino, and the Sakura felt her stomach drop. He practically skipped over to her.
Sakura felt a sharp tug on her arm, pulling her from her thoughts.
"Let's go." TenTen whispered harshly, pulling Sakura back up the aisle and towards the opposite end of the shop. "We're never going to hear them over here." the brunette explained. The pink-haired kunoichi nodded to show her understanding. Sakura had to trust in TenTen's superior knowledge when it came to obtaining information for the rumor mill. She followed the brunette as she tip-toed through the store and into the aisle next to the one the blonde-couple was currently residing in.
TenTen took long, slow steps on the very tips of her toes towards the end of the aisle and stretched as far as she could without revealing her location. She pulled a mirror out of the pack on her leg and adjusted the angle until Naruto and Ino were visible. She waved Sakura over.
Sakura stared momentarily, awed at what she could only assume was the greatest unknown asset in all of Konohagakure, the information acquiring skills of Noname TenTen.
Finally, she inched her way over and crouched beneath TenTen, cupping her hand to her ear and straining to hear the discussion between the lovers merely one aisle over. The moment Naruto spoke though she nearly jumped out of her skin. It was in that moment she realized all this effort was really quite stupid, the boy had no volume control.
"Sorry I'm late, Ino-Chan!" Naruto boomed, looking slightly shamefaced. He tucked his hands into his pockets and looked at the ground, treading on his sandals slightly. Ino pushed his arm lightly and he met her gaze. She smiled at him, light blue eyes twinkling.
"Don't worry about it." Ino said playfully, tossing her flaxen ponytail behind her. "I just got here myself, actually." she admitted, "Now what kind of needles do you think I should get?" she asked him, holding up two hollow needles and staring at them intently. "I was thinking I might go a bit thinner. They hold slightly less poison, but they're lighter and easier to manipulate so I could carry more and throw more." Ino flipped the lighter needle in left hand for emphasis as she spoke, rolling it through her fingers with ease and dexterity.
"It would also cost less, since they sell them in bulk, but the lack of poison means that the enemy isn't guaranteed dead, you know?" she spoke quickly, almost as if she was talking to herself but Naruto listened intently, staring at the silvery needles in her hands. "Whereas these larger ones cost more and require more poison, but if I hit the guy he's definitely dead! But there's the problem, these things are weighted and my aim might be off. I'll have fewer shots and might not even hit the fucker!" Ino glowered at the offending weapons her hands, as if they could give her the answers she needed.
Naruto was not too familiar with the use of needles in combat. He had used them a few times at the Academy, but not much since then. He rubbed his chin in contemplation, as if stroking an invisible beard. He stared at the needles intensely, "Can I see?" he asked her. Ino looked up just in time to see him reach for one of the needles in her hand. Her eyes widened slightly.
"Caref" her warning came too late. Naruto yelped as the smaller of the two needles punctured his index finger. A small blush of crimson rose to the surface almost immediately, dripping down his finger and onto the floor. Even for a first-class shinobi, Naruto was still a klutz. Ino hurriedly set the weapons back on the shelf and took Naruto's hand into her own, bringing the finger up to her mouth. "Are you okay?" she cooed, "Here, I can make it better." she reassured him, kissing the tip of his injured finger and taking it into her mouth.
Ino caressed his finger with her tongue, swirling it around the tip of the digit and breathing hotly onto into the cut. Naruto stiffened, his face turning crimson. She suckled gently, just barely nibbling at the base of his knuckle with her teeth and he felt all the blood that was in his finger rush elsewhere. He honestly thought he might faint. No woman should be allowed to be this sexy.
Sakura tried to pounce from her position, but TenTen grabbed her and sat on her shoulders, preventing her from further movement. She proceeded to remove the rose-haired kunoichi's head-band and stuff it into her mouth so that she couldn't scream out the profanity so desperately trying to escape her lips.
Ino released Naruto's finger with a little pop and smiled up at him. "Better?" she asked, her voice seductive. The taller blonde nodded dumbly and Ino smiled sweetly. Sakura wondered fleetingly how she would look without those lips, because she just might rip them off.
"II think you should get the thin ones. They're pretty ggood." Naruto stuttered, unable to think of what else to say. Ino grinned, cat-like in quality. Her eyes glistened with unreadable emotion and Naruto felt his heartbeat speed up. She expertly grabbed a handful of the thinner needles without so much as a pin-prick and held out her free hand to him. He took it and she lead him towards the register.
Sakura ripped the headband from her mouth and glared after the pair, "I'm gonna kill her." she snarled.
- 0 -
The Book Store
Icha Icha Shoten was the only bookstore in Konohagakure. It used to be a cabaret club, owned by the notorious Ero-Sennin that he turned into an adult bookstore primarily to sell his erotic novels. After his death, a local man named Moritaka Hiro purchased the store and renovated it so that is sold all types of books rather than just smut. Out of respect for the deceased shinobi, he kept the name and a small section of erotica in the back.
TenTen and Sakura arrived mere seconds after Naruto and Ino, having tailed them out of the weapons shop and down the street, hiding behind various vendors and plant life. TenTen had even provided a giant sheet painted to look like the fences that ran throughout the streets of Konoha that they could use to camouflage themselves when no fauna was available. She had whipped this item from the tiny pack on her leg; a pack Sakura was quickly learning defied the laws of physics.
For his part, Naruto was completely oblivious to the two women stalking him and his date. Even though they made quite a ruckus, diving into buckets of produce and leaping behind trees like epileptic ballerinas whenever either blonde even motioned to stop or turn behind them.
Ino on the other hand, had a nagging feeling that someone might be watching them, but every time she looked behind her she saw nothing but slightly perturbed shopkeepers and frustrated citizens. She figured it must be "one of those days" and shrugged off her worries.
The two kunoichi slid into the Icha Icha Shoten as quietly as possible, barely cracking the door so they wouldn't ring the little welcoming bell above their heads. TenTen spotted the blondes and motioned towards Sakura. They slithered towards the very back of the store, near enough to keep the couple within earshot, but not near enough to be seen.
Sakura and her dark-haired partner-in-crime looked at one another and nodded the affirmative. They both crouched behind a low shelf and peeked above the stacks of books, watching the pair with complete fixation. Ino still had her hand tucked securely into Naruto's, her fingers interlocked with his. The fuchsia-haired girl frowned, she really didn't like the way he was looking at her.
For the second time that day, Sakura thought her heart was going to stop. Both she and TenTen scrambled to their feet. Thankfully, at that same moment, out of the corner of her eye, she spotted Ino drag Naruto down another aisle of books and out of their line of vision. She sighed, inwardly. At least they won't spot me and TenTen, she thought to herself, relived. Sakura turned to face her newest tormentor.
Sakura's looked up to find a man with shaggy silver hair, like needles made touchable, falling over a covered eye. His visible eye was crinkled up in a smile she was all too familiar with, mischievous and playful. His lips were hidden beneath a mask, but his voice was clear and mellifluous. He was a man who was both her sensei and her friend. Hatake Kakashi.
"Hhello Kakashi-Sensei." She said, thickly. Sakura could barely meet his gaze. She hoped she sounded put-together and not like she was tailing one of his former students as if she was a crazed murder with a mother-complex and an axe to grind.
"Whatever are you girls doing here?" Kakashi inquired, his eye glistening impishly. He had his hands tucked into his pockets, leaning casually against a bookcase. He peered down at them like a cat toying with his pray just before he gulps it down. Sakura felt uneasy, she had seen that look before and it never ended well. She fidgeted, picking at stray pieces of fabric on the edges of her gloves and smiled at him uneasily. There is no possible way he has any idea what we've been doing, she reassured herself.
" TenTen began, her eyes darting around the store for an answer. "here to
BUY A BOOK! Yeah, that's it. Buy a book!" she finished with a triumphant look on her face, as if it were incredibly difficult to have come up with that excuse. Kakashi's eye lit up and the fabric covering his lips curled at the corners with his widening grin.
"Here? In this section?" Kakashi asked. TenTen nodded enthusiastically and Kakashi burst out laughing. Sakura glared at the taller man. What was his problem? She was starting to get pissed. Her week had been unbearable and she was at her limit. The last thing she needed was her former sensei giggling at her and TenTen like a damned schoolgirl.
Sakura snatched a book from the nearest shelf, without looking at it and thrust it under the silver-haired man's nose. "We're here to buy this book!" she stated, nearly shouting. She saw Kakashi's visible eye widen a little as he looked at the cover. His smile became even larger, becoming nearly devilish.
"Bumping Clams" he read aloud, "A Guide to Lesbian Sex. I see, so this is for you two?"
It was in that moment that Haruno Sakura realized she was in the Adults Only section of the bookstore.
Sakura went white. She could hear her heart pounding in her ears. Here she was trying to convince her former sensei she wasn't an insane stalker and now she had managed to make him think she was some kind of sex pervert on par with him. She felt sick. What if he told other people she was a lesbian? God forbid Ino hear. Her thoughts whirred like a tornado of the brain, making it difficult to focus on the situation at hand. She felt a hand on her.
TenTen snaked her arm around Sakura's waist, pulling the pink-haired girl into her possessively and sneered at Kakashi, "And what it was, Hatake? Got a problem?" she asked. She stood on her tip-toes and planted a kiss on Sakura's cheek, causing the taller kunoichi to turn stark white and then an impressive shade of cherry red.
Kakashi chortled. "No, why would I?" he inquired, raising an eyebrow. "I am with Iruka in case you've forgotten." he reminded her. The double-bunned brunette grinned up at him, leaning her head on Sakura's shoulder. The pink-haired kunoichi was frozen in shock, unable to speak.
"Perhaps we should double date." TenTen suggested, teasingly.
"TenTen, seriously! Shut the fuck up!" Sakura snarled. Finally regaining the ability to move, she had disentangled herself from the weapons expert and proceeded to beat her over the head with the lesbian sex guide. TenTen shielded herself from Sakura's blows, laughing like a hyena.
Kakashi wrestled the book away from Sakura and re-shelved it. "I already knew you weren't gay Sakura-Chan. Did you think I was stupid?" he asked her, unable to keep from giggling. "We've been on the same team for quite a few years, I think I might have noticed if you were checking out other kunoichi." Kakashi said, returning his gaze to her. He crossed his arms over his chest and gave her a skeptical look, "Now, why are you here? Really?"
Sakura frowned and looked at TenTen, who remained surprisingly silent. She made a zipping motion across her lips to show Sakura that she would keep her mouth shut until she wanted to reveal her secret. The rose-haired girl appreciated the sentiment and gave her a small smile, turning back to face her sensei with a determined look.
"Let's just say I'm on a personal mission." Sakura stated.
Kakashi kept his gaze level with hers for a moment before silently nodding. He had been around Sakura long enough to know that she would tell him whatever it was she wanted to tell him when she was ready. The silver-haired man fought a smile. He had some ideas what her little secret might be and it delighted him. He patted her head gently and she smiled. "Alright, go for it."
- 0 -
Ino pulled Naruto into the aisle closest to them. The book she wanted wasn't in this section, it was a new arrival on the indigenous plant-life of Kumogakure, and it was a couple aisles to their right, but she wanted a few moments alone with her blonde paramour away from prying eyes. She knew it was crazy, but she couldn't shake the feeling they were being watched.
They walked into the aisle to find another couple browsing for books.
Uchiha Sasuke and Temari were paging through some of the books on the shelves, talking quietly amongst themselves. Sasuke leaned over Temari's shoulder, pointing at a few titles. She shook her head gently and murmured something to him, indicating another book. He nodded in agreement and muttered something in her ear. She smiled.
Suddenly, their keen shinobi senses picked up the presence of others in the aisle. Temari and Sasuke looked up, their faces nonplussed. Naruto waved enthusiastically, squeezing Ino's hand. Ino smiled as well and wiggled her fingers in greeting. She was a tad disappointed that she wouldn't be able to do the naughty things she had planned, but she also knew that her boyfriend would want to flaunt his new relationship in the face of his rival, a compulsion she understood all too well. She didn't mind this time especially, since Uchiha Sasuke had turned her down in the past.
"Hello Ino-San, Naruto-San." Temari said, smiling softly. Though her voice was quiet and her smile innocent, her lips seemed to curve up at the edges almost devilishly. Her green eyes glittered like chips of emerald as she observed the pair. She placed the book she was holding back on the shelf and brushed a piece of sandy hair off her face. "It's good to see you. How are you?"
"Just fine," Ino said, coolly. "We're on a date." She pulled Naruto into her and smiled at the other couple. Ino thought she saw sand-ninja raise an eyebrow, but the look of skepticism vanished in a millisecond and was replaced with a pleased expression.
"That's great." the other woman beamed, clasping her hands together. Sasuke smiled as well, but stayed silent. "We're just here getting baby books. You know, What to Expect While You're Expecting and all that jazz." Temari said, gesturing to the rows and rows of books beside her. "There's just so many to choose from, we don't even know where to start." she sighed.
"We're stuck." Sasuke agreed, wrapping his arm around his wife in a defeated gesture.
"The great genius, Sasuke-Kun is STUCK?" Naruto gasped in faux-horror, his hands flying to his cheeks in his mock terror. His performance only lasted a few seconds before he started to guffaw. Sasuke prickled and the blonde smirked. The raven haired man clucked his tongue in distaste.
"Perhaps I now know what it feels like to be you, eh dobe?" Sasuke sneered. Naruto glared, pursing his lips in obvious distaste. His teammate flashed him a grin. Naruto opened his mouth to retort, but Ino cut him off quickly, hoping to diffuse the situation before it turned into an all-out catfight and ruined their very first date.
"So how far along are you?" Ino asked in an attempt to break the tension. Sasuke and Naruto stopped glaring at one another and refocused their attention on Temari, who had kept that saccharine smile on her face throughout the entire exchange without a single falter.
"Seven weeks." She replied, patting her stomach thoughtfully. She smiled down at the bulge peeking from beneath the folds in her navy wrap.
"Wasn't Sasuke gone three months, are you sure it's his?" Naruto asked bluntly, scratching the back of his neck.
"Naruto!" Ino squealed, slapping him forcefully in the arm. The hit barely seemed to register; he was used to the power-punches of a certain pink-haired young woman.
"It's mine, asshole." Sasuke spat. He rolled his obsidian eyes, implying the absurdity of Naruto's unfounded accusations. "Temari went back home to Sunagakure three months ago and when we had a break in negotiations I went to visit her." he replied, placing a hand on top of his wife's on her stomach and glaring at the whisker-cheeked blonde.
Temari grinned devilishly, "It most certainly is Sasuke-Kun's child. I remember the night quite clearly." She said, her voice sultry. Her emerald eyes glimmered seductively beneath heavy lids and the blonde couple quickly found their heads filled with unwanted images of the Uchihas passionate night of conception in Sunagakure.
Naruto blushed intensely. He hated to picture Sasuke with his wife, because no matter how attractive Temari may be nothing could make him want to fill his brain with image of naked Sasuke. Ino baulked as well, gripping her date's hand forcefully and attempting to control the level of her voice as she excused them from the maternity section, "Wwe have to go, I have a book I need to pick up and we need to continue our date." Ino fought the embarrassed stutter in voice.
Sasuke and Temari beamed as if they had not just scarred two people mentally for life. "Of course, we'll see you later." Temari said, "I have my baby shower coming up soon." she reminded them. The Uchihas waved and said their good-byes as Naruto and Ino quickly backed out of the aisle.
"What do you think of the couple?" Sasuke smirked, wrapping his arms around his wife's back and kissing the nape of her neck. She didn't turn to look at him but reached up and cupped his cheek, her smile suddenly bordering more on mischievous than sweet.
"I haven't decided." Temari said, shaking her head and returning to the bookshelf. "Let's see how your teammate handles it..." she grinned playfully.
- 0 -
After finishing their discussion with Kakashi, Sakura and TenTen had exited the Icha Icha Shoten and started to walk down the street back towards the main part of town. Sakura had not given up on Naruto, despite what she had seen of his date. She knew she could win him back from the clutches of Ino-Pig. However, she couldn't keep tailing them for the rest of her life, nor could she have continued to watch them in the bookstore without Kakashi discovering what she was up to. It was best to call it quits for the day and head back home.
TenTen was less than thrilled to abandon her gossip mission, but complied with Sakura's wishes, mostly out of fear for her physical health. She fluttered next to the pensive kunoichi like a tiny, hyperactive butterfly. It was all she could do to release the excess energy she wanted to waste talking about everything and everyone. They walked in silence for nearly ten minutes.
At that moment, Sakura's ears pricked up. She heard Ino's voice coming from behind them. The pink-haired kunoichi felt a familiar panic welling inside her, she didn't want them wondering why her and TenTen were on this side of town. She grabbed the brunette and tugged her behind a vending station that had an Out to Lunch sign on it, accidently knocking it off its perch. She didn't bother to fix it.
"That was awful! I seriously need some ice cream therapy." Ino moaned, running her fingers through her flaxen mane.
"I could not agree more." Naruto nodded enthusiastically, "I need to wipe those images from my head!" he groaned. He desperately rubbed his temples with his hands, as if trying to wipe the images from his brain. They looked at each other momentarily than laughed. Naruto grabbed her hand and they walked over towards the stands.
"Here's an ice cream stand." Ino pointed out, her voice far too close for Sakura's comfort. Ino leaned over the counter of the stand and her flaxen ponytail hit Sakura in the face. The pink-kunoichi nearly screamed, scrambling underneath the empty part of the stand with the dual-bunned gossip, attempting to contort themselves to fit in such a small space. They held their breath, praying that the blonde woman did not spot them, "But it doesn't look like anyone's here." she said sadly, turning to Naruto.
"If they were out, they would have put up a sign." The whisker-faced boy looked around the top and sides of the stand as well, yet failed to see the two kunoichi hiding beneath it. Sakura looked at TenTen, a desperate expression on her face.
"What do we do?" she mouthed. The brunette bit her lip, her eyes darting around. It hit her. She grabbed one of the triangular paper-caps from underneath the stand and shoved it at Sakura. Sakura struggled with the flimsy hat, trying to tuck her pink hair beneath it. The weapons expert snatched one of the neatly folded, spare aprons and tugged it over Sakura's head, knocking the cap askew. The pink-haired girl fumbled to tie the strings.
TenTen then extracted a giant, black, handlebar mustache from the pack on her leg. Sakura's brow furrowed, lines appearing in her generous forehead. She shook her head, but TenTen ignored her and stuck the hairy monstrosity to her upper-lip forcefully. She then proceeded to pinch her leg, causing Sakura to shoot to her feet, hitting her head on the stand.
Sakura snarled, pulling herself from underneath the stand. "This is NOT going to work." she thought to herself, as she turned to face the couple with a smile plastered on her face. Her pink hair was frazzled, sticking out from beneath the pill-box paper cap haphazardly. She was dressed in a stained navy apron that was falling off one shoulder, revealing her scarlet tank-top underneath. Her faux facial hair was stuck side-ways on her lip.
The moment Sakura stood up, TenTen realized there may have been a few flaws in her plan.
Ino's baby-blue eyes widened momentarily then narrowed in a glare. It took her about three seconds to deduce who had been following her all day, "What are you doing here, B?"
"BOB!" Sakura cut her off dramatically, "My name is Bob. I am new in the town." She spoke in an extremely flawed accent, chopping up her sentences a way she hoped would make her undetectable, but she knew just made her look stupider. Hey, if she was going to make an ass of herself, she wasn't going to do it half way. Underneath the stand, TenTen slapped her hand to her forehead.
"Oh come on, S"
For the second time in only a few minutes, Ino was cut off forcefully, "Hi Bob-San! Welcome to Konohagakure!" Naruto greeted his teammate, his cerulean eyes glimmering. Sakura and Ino stared at him, dumbstruck. There was no sense of irony in his voice. It was quite clear he had bought into her ruse.
Ino bit the inside of her cheek. If Naruto had not realized what an idiot his former-love was, then she wasn't going to let the little witch ruin her first date. Instead, some teasing was in order. The flaxen-haired girl grinned, "Why yes Bob, it's quite nice to meet you. We were wondering if we could have some ice cream?" she asked, batting her eyelashes. "It's our first date today and this guy is just so hot. I need something to cool down!" Ino giggled stupidly, tugging Naruto into her.
"Aww, come on Ino-Chan!" Naruto said, reddening. He smiled sheepishly, scratching his cheek. "Bob-San doesn't need to know that." he seemed more than a little pleased though, and gave Ino a quick peck on the nose. She looked Sakura directly in the eye and grinned. The pink-haired girl ground her teeth.
Sakura clenched her eyes shut, praying for the strength to keep from forcing an ice cream scoop into Ino's eye. "Ja." she said coldly, "It is so nice to see the first loves." the pink-haired kunoichi forced a smile, grabbing the ice cream scoop from small shelf underneath the stand and twirling it in her hand, "What can I get yous?" she asked, gripping the scoop's silver-handle so forcefully it began to take on the form of her hand.
"Can I get a strawberry, Bob-San?" Naruto asked, enthusiastically. He smiled at her. It was the same wide, toothy grin he used with everyone, but Sakura found herself more taken with it now than she had ever been in the past. Fleetingly, she began to question when it had happened. When had she fallen so hard for Naruto? More importantly, why did she have the terrible fucking luck to realize it only after Ino had already taken him?
"Jja." She whispered, in her own voice. Thankfully the blonde vessel didn't seem to notice.
"I'll have a vah-nil-lah." Ino spoke her request with force, sounding out every syllable and pulling Sakura back into reality, a reality where she was currently a badly dressed man with a flimsy paper hat and a handlebar moustache.
Sakura locked eyes with Ino and neither moved for a moment. The pink-haired girl sucked her teeth and nodded. She pushed the top of the freezer up and peered inside. She grabbed pointed-cone from one of the wire stands. Sakura shoveled a scoop of pale ice-cream into the cone and smashed it down as gently as her temper would allow, leaving a set of small cracks around the top and shoved it towards her best frienemy, "Here you goes."
Ino took the cone in her delicate hand and flashed Sakura a smile. "Thank you, Bob-San." she said, tossing her hair. Sakura half-hoped she choked to death on that ice cream. She instead chose to busy herself by scooping Naruto's strawberry cone and handing it to him. He thanked her and she smiled weakly.
"Will you hold this for me, Ino-Chan?" Naruto asked, holding the cone out to Ino.
"Of course, cutie!" the flaxen-haired woman giggled like a school girl, taking the ice cream from him and smiling sweetly. Naruto blushed again, unable to keep that goofy grin off his face. Sakura gripped at the handle of the ice cream scoop so hard it snapped in her hand. She dropped it discreetly to the ground. From underneath the stand, TenTen eyed the metal mess and shivered at her inhuman strength.
"Here, Bob-San." Naruto pulled his frog-wallet out of his pocket and opened it. He tugged a bill out and handed it to Sakura. She nodded her thanks and unsure what to do with the cash, set it in the freezer, closing it with a vacuumed snap. She would add her own money later to pay for the damaged scoop.
Ino handed Naruto's ice cream back to him and he began eating immediately. She smiled and started to lick hers in an overtly seductive manner. She took her time to making broad, circular strokes around the entirety of the cream, leaving just a little bit of white on her lips before darting the very tip of her perfect pink tongue out lap it up. Naruto was mesmerized by her actions, barely able to eat his own ice cream, which began to melt in his hands.
Sakura watched her open-mouthed, THE NERVE!
"Oh, Naruto-Kun!" Ino gasped, "You have some ice cream on your lips! Let me get it for you!" she fussed, leaning forward and standing on her tip-toes she kissed him. Naruto met her lips eagerly, nearly forgetting they were in public. Ino snaked her tongue out and traced the outline of his lips, searching for traces of the invisible ice cream.
The words escaped Sakura's mouth before her brain had time to catch up. She slammed her hands down on the miserable ice cream stand with such force, she left cracks in its wooden foundation. TenTen, all but forgotten underneath, shielded her head and prayed that she survived the next few minutes.
"Bob-San?" Naruto said, his voice inquisitive. He and Ino broke their kiss and turned to face the mustachioed Sakura, who was fuming. Ino smirked, pulling away from Naruto and shaking her head.
"No!" the pink-haired kunoichi confessed miserably, removing her moustache. Naruto gasped, taken aback. He was obviously surprised that the black-mustached man he had come to know as Bob was in fact his former-love Haruno Sakura. Ino gave him a weird look of non-belief as if to say, "Really?" before adding her own over-the-top fake gasp, even going so far as to drop her ice cream.
"SSakura-Chan!?" Naruto struggled with her name, trying to piece together the situation. There was no Bob. Sakura was the one who had served him and Ino ice cream. For some reason she had implemented a clever disguise so that she could approach him and Ino while they were on their date. He gnawed at his lip for a few more seconds before he returned his gaze to find it welling up with tears, "I don't understand."
"Yeah, I'm sorry." she apologized. She dropped her gaze, looking defeated. He could see her fighting back her tears actively now, trying her hardest not to cry in front of the woman he knew to be both her best friend and her worst enemy. Suddenly, he felt like his heart was being wrung out like a wet dishcloth. He hated when she was distressed. Every feeling he thought he had put aside was beginning to resurface and he realized that even if he cared for Ino (and he did), he might still have some feelings for Haruno Sakura.
"Why?" he asked her.
" Sakura struggled, looking visibly strained. She sucked her bottom lip into her mouth and stuttered, "Because I" she stopped abruptly and he watched her close her eyes and take a calming breath. She opened her eyes and met his gaze. Her face was still tear-streaked and ruddy-cheeked, but her eyes shone like emeralds, glimmering with her determination.
"I LOVE YOU, NARUTO!"