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September 30th, 2004

Naruto and Sakura had witnessed this ritual many times since Sasuke's eighteenth birthday. Yet every time they saw it anew they reacted with the same great amusement and great horror. Respectively.

Each time they were sent together on a long mission by necessity at some point they would be forced to stay in a town or village. Each time they entered the local inn or tavern this happened. Each time the pair would sit and watch, like it was the first time all over.

Sasuke would come in behind them a few steps and stand while Sakura and Naruto found some where to sit--in order to rest or talk with any congenial strangers they encountered. He would survey the room with a cool, calculating glance. The time for him to find what he was looking for varied from town to town. Sometimes he became so desperate he would use the Sharingan, shading the crimson color with his hand to keep from attracting notice. But no matter how long it took and how much compromise went in on inside him he always found what he was looking for in the end.

Tonight he scanned the room for only ten minutes before he began to move toward his prey. He strode purposefully to a girl around their age sitting with a family that no doubt was her own. When the girl noticed Sasuke walking to her, she blushed and her glance darted around to confirm that he was in fact moving toward *her*. Following this she ducked her eyes down until he stood right in front of her. Feeling his hands covering her own, she was forced to look up in shock. In the seconds between feeling the contact of her hand is his and shyly looking up to see the young man's face the girl felt many things. She felt nervous, alive, anticipatory, pleased...but most of all she felt that this would be the most romantic experience of her life. No--it would be the most romantic moment for any girl in her village. And any moment it would be happening to her.

Finally her eyes reached his face. His posture was slouched and his face was turned away from her, scowling. This was unexpected but she coughed prettily to allow the moment to turn into was it was supposed to turn into. He cleared his throat as well and said in a mutterance, "Would you do me the honor of reviving the Uchiha clan?"

Following this statement the young girl gave up on romance forever. Following this statement, the girl's father made his presence--from a few feet away--known. Following this statement, Sasuke walked away quickly. He could take the older man but a fight would be messy and unnecessary.

Following this statement, Naruto and Sakura scored Sasuke from their seats where the whole scene had been clearly visible.

"He has improved. I think the addition of 'Would you do me the honor of...' is a big step up."

"His bloodline will never continue if he doesn't start looking them in the face and making them believe he is the brooding, romantic, strong, attractive, rich--"

Naruto interrupted this list with a yelp of, "YEAH. WE KNOW WHAT HE NEEDS TO DO."

A while later Sasuke joined his friends with his usual expressionless face. Sakura wisely kept the conversation to practical discussions for completing their mission.

Until of course Naruto snorted out, "You know, Sasuke, you wouldn't be having these troubles if you had spent the past six years being tolerable to the women of our village. But I bet Ino wouldn't even want you now. And of course...." Trailing off, Naruto put his arm around Sakura.

There was a moment when nothing happened. In that moment a voice in Sakura's head shouted, "I can't believe I used to love Sasuke."

Then it shouted louder, "I can't believe I love Naruto."

Then, simultaneously, Sasuke and Sakura attacked.

The Kyubi called foul.

-----

Yes, I do find myself amusing. Sorry. This was written in the twenty minutes between school and work so I'm sure I created new words, improvised facts, and misspelled things. Now to catch up on LJ comments....

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