“So, are you going to do something, or just stand here and stare?”
There are times when Shisui thinks Itachi is too clever for his own good. Why can't he busy himself harassing his genim team, or fawning over Sasuke's every move? Why does he have to bother Shisui when he's trying to formulate a plan of attack?
“I don't know what you mean,” he lies, arms crossed and gaze never leaving the object of his unrequited affection. Sakura would probably hospitalise him herself if she knew that his seemingly casual spectatorship of the legendary Team 7 was really just so that he could watch her spar. She's breathtaking in combat, never mind all the times she’s patched him up from his misadventures, and he swears she's stronger than Naruto and Sasuke together (but he wouldn't dare say as much with Itachi at his side).
“Pink-haired woman? Medium height, gorgeous green eyes, powerful build, medical ninjutsu skill rivalling Tsunade-sama's? Ring any bells?”
“You think her eyes are gorgeous too?”
He can feel Itachi's glare. “No, but I have to listen to you rambling on about them often enough. Just ask her out. She won't say no.”
“You don't know that!” Shisui argues, before expelling a fraction of the tension building in his body with a sigh. Sakura has just caught Naruto mid-attack and has pinned him to the ground with just her hand. There's honestly nothing she can't do, and Shisui might perhaps be a little in love with her: strength, intelligence, beauty… There’s nothing about her he doesn’t admire. If he thought he had a chance in hell of being taken seriously he'd walk over there right now and ask her out, but the problem with being seen as a joker is that no one takes him seriously. She'd expect a punchline, or punch him for his troubles. As much as he loves admiring her skill and strength, he doesn't want to be on the receiving end of one of her blows.
“Just do it,” Itachi insists, sounding terse. “If I have to watch you mooning over her—”
“I'm not ‘mooning’!”
Itachi raises a slender eyebrow, giving Shisui his strictest look of admonishment, and Shisui feels cowed.
“Okay, maybe a little,” he admits reluctantly.
“It's been months. You need help. I can—”
“—No!” Shisui is quick to insist. “I can do this on my own, I just need to work out...”
He looks towards Sakura again, watching as she fends off a barrage from Sasuke. Itachi's attention turns to the match too, and they stand silently, side by side, admiring the two younger shinobi battling it out.
“If she says 'no’,” Itachi says at length, reminding Shisui of the topic of conversation he’s altogether forgotten as he watched Sakura move, “then I'll treat you to all the ramen, barbecue food and dango you can eat for a month.”
That gets his attention. “A month?”
Shisui falters. That's a generous offer; a suspiciously generous offer.
“She might not have anyone to go to the theatre with this weekend,” Itachi suggests.
“Huh? No way! That's two days away, of course she has a date for it.” He’d briefly considered that idea before discounting it for, that and another good reason: “Anyway, I thought we were going together? I don’t want to break tradition, you know?”
“We can go whichever day she can't make.”
“Oh. You’re okay with that?”
“If it will shut you up and get you to finally ask her out, yes,” Itachi says in a big-brotherly tone he usually reserves for chastising wayward genin.
Shisui considers it for a moment, trying to assess his chances and how he'd word such an… offer to Sakura. He bought the tickets, so it wouldn't be a lie to say he has two, and he can always buy another to go again with Itachi. It's been a longstanding tradition to go to the theatre with him and eat dango afterwards, but if Itachi is okay with this change and they can, as he said, go another night, then there’s only his anxiety over rejection holding him back.
“Three months,” Itachi interrupts.
It's decided, then. Clenching his jaw, Shisui nods. “Deal.”
Because at least if this fails he'll be well fed for the next few months.
Sakura can’t tell if it’s just wishful thinking on her part or not, but it almost seems as if Shisui is there at the training ground to watch her. She can feel his gaze on her as she spars, her skin tingling with a conflicting mixture of excitement and nerves. She perhaps goes a little too hard on Naruto in an attempt to show off, but the blond is nothing if not tenacious, and he gets back up quicker than most would. If anything, he seems grateful, not holding back in his retaliation and keeping her mind occupied for a solid five minutes.
When she pauses to draw breath again, Shisui is still there. He’s talking a little animatedly with Itachi, who gives the kind of sly smirk she only ever sees him share with Shisui and Sasuke. It seems like Itachi has won the upper hand in whatever conversation they were having, but Sasuke’s next attack diverts her attention again.
Breaking free of the low level genjutsu that distracted her long enough for Naruto to gain the upper hand in the next attack, Sakura’s focus can’t help gravitating back towards Shisui. He and Itachi stand a little apart now, Itachi watching Sasuke and Shisui watching… her…
A shiver runs through her, the moment of compromise almost costing her the bout. Unleashing a greater force than normal, Sakura smashes through the shadow clones converging on her, taking out a huge chunk of earth too. He’s watching, she doesn’t want to lose…
She doesn’t. In a few more moves the sparring match comes to a close, Naruto dusting himself off and Sasuke tutting to himself as he inspects his torn sleeve. Sakura, catching her breath, does her best not to look around, towards Shisui, but the urge to look is impossible to resist.
What she sees takes her by surprise. Walking towards her – definitely towards her – is none other than Uchiha Shisui, a grin plastered across his face. It’s not his usual grin either. Usually he comes across as carefree and ready to laugh, but right now… Right now he looks almost shy as he approaches. He rubs at his neck as he stops before her, the corner of his eyes creasing with a genuine, if tense, smile.
“Sakura-san,” he breathes, her name sending a flutter through her chest. “You fought well.”
The praise does something equally as alarming, and her cheeks flush of their own volition. She knows she’s done well – it’s what she trains hard for, after all – but the recognition from Shisui, however succinct, means more than she dares to let on. Knowing her teammates and Itachi might be listening in as they chatter close by, she keep her reply short, a lot more formal than she normally would. “Thank you, Shisui-san.”
He gives a soft breath of laughter. “Don’t thank me, thank yourself! You’re the one doing all the hard work!”
Well, that is true, she knows, but she doesn’t know how to respond.
Thankfully, half a second later, his tone shifts, his hand dropping and curling into a fist at his side. His eyes dart towards the ground, before flickering back up again as he chews his lip, looking at her through long, gorgeous lashes. Such beauty should be criminal; it’s utterly unfair that just one look can melt her heart and render her defenceless.
“There was something I wanted to ask you,” Shisui admits, and Sakura is seized with the urge to try and release whatever genjutsu has been cast on her. For months she’s waited, hoping to hear something like this from him but never getting any nearer to her dream. Shisui isn’t known for being shy. He’s careful and prudent, yes, but never shy. He’s outgoing and always ready with a smile, quick to laugh and easy to be around. Sakura assumed that, if he was interested, he would have let her know in no uncertain terms. She’d tried to tell herself to give up, because if he was going to ask, he would have done it by now.
If he’s even asking…
“The theatre is in the village this weekend and I know you probably already have plans, and I’m not asking you to change them at all, but if you don’t would you, um… Would you like to go with me? As a date?”
Her heart can’t handle the fact he’s blushing, almost tripping over the last three words.
Sasuke, Naruto and Itachi have stopped talking.
Oh god, why did Shisui have to ask her in front of them? Now they’re going to bear witness to her demise.
Her tongue is heavy in her mouth, her heartbeat almost violent with nervous excitement. She knows she’s supposed to form words, to answer him in some way, but even the most basic of functions seem beyond her. Time stretches on too long, and she realises she’s staring, jaw hanging loose as her brain struggles to process what’s happening. He’s watching, waiting for an answer, and her continued silence causes the light to fade in his eyes, his hope withering.
“Uh—” she croaks out, and then almost burns to a crisp as mortification grips her. “I mean ‘yes’! Yes, I, um… That would be, uh…”
Shisui’s face lights up again, his grin brighter than she’s ever seen. “Really?!”
Aware of Naruto snickering somewhere behind her, followed by a dull thump, Sakura nods, trying (and failing) to school her expression. “Yes,” she repeats. “Which night were you thinking?”
“Whichever is best for you? I have tickets for Saturday already, but—”
“—Saturday is great!”
Is her breathing really that laboured? Sakura tries to contain the sudden surge of excitement, fighting to keep her heart rate within respectable parameters.
“And maybe we could have dinner afterwards?”
Shisui grins even wider at her forwardness, gravitating half a step closer. “Yeah, I like the sound of that. Formal wear?”
The thought of seeing Shisui in a kimono is more than Sakura could ever have hoped for. She nods, “Ye—”
—Stopping dead in her tracks when Shisui carefully takes her hand in his. The touch is warm and a little sticky, a tremor radiating from his body to hers, and his eyes don’t leave hers until the very last moment as he bows his head and kisses the back of her hand. His lips are soft, pulling her entire focus to the point of tender contact, and when he releases her she is left almost dizzy.
“Sorry, I’ve been wanting to do that forever,” he says so softly only she can hear, looking back up and fixing her with a gaze of such longing she wonders what else he’s been waiting to do.
As it is, she remembers her teammates, and Itachi. Shisui’s disregard for them is somehow almost as romantic as the gesture of kissing her hand.
“Quarter past three in the market square okay?”
She nods, her hand lowered gently until just their fingertips are touching. Shisui’s grin has change into a smile so sincere it makes her heart ache. It’s a smile for her. “I’ll see you then.”
“I can’t wait,” Shisui murmurs, and she believes it. He then turns away, hand raising to the back of his neck as he gives a nervous grin. “Itachi?”
The pair leave, Itachi giving her an altogether too knowing smile as he goes. Sakura stares after them, not yet ready to face Sasuke and Naruto’s curiosity. For a several moments she allows herself to bask in the surreal interaction that’s just taken place, absorbing the strange fact that Shisui just asked her out. She has a date with the hottest guy in Konoha – in the entire country, in her opinion.
Smiling to herself, she at last turns towards her teammates, expecting to find them staring in disbelief.
Instead she finds them both smirking.
“At last,” Sasuke comments with his trademark dryness.
And, with Naruto bursting out laughing, Sakura launches herself at them.