Sakura is not a fucking samurai, damn it.
She's a shinobi. And while she has great respect for the samurai and their traditions (she's descended from them for fuck's sake, all the way from Flower Country, generations of samurai and fighting women, she knows better than to spit on the sacrifices of her ancestors, who fought tooth and claw and sword to help the Senju win the war, only to dwindle down to Sakura, her parents, and her aging grandmother Aiko) Sakura is still not one of them.
She knows how to wear their clothes, because her grandmother had taught her how to dress a man for war. She had watched Aiko-obaa-sama draw the fabric over and under Sakura's father's shoulders, the mesh, the mail, the armor, and the helmet. The two swords, a bow and arrow.
Still, as she swelters in her own red armor, pink hair pulled back by a pearly white kushi decorated with pearls and Sakura's namesake flower, she wonders why in the fresh fuck she got pegged to be the onna-bugeisha, armed with nagitana and all.
"Sasuke has the attitude for it," she had grumbled, eyes scanning over the mission scroll Kakashi had tossed at her.
"Sasuke's too pretty," Kakashi had said. "It was aggravating enough getting him to wear the false arm for this mission. I'm not gonna put him in the armor, too."
Sakura had rolled her eyes then, understanding and still not liking it. Sasuke, for all his bluster and bullshit, was still figuring out how to work the prosthetic he had been fitted for, for this mission.
Putting armor on top of it would've caused him undue stress that would've made his chronic pain worse, made him grunt more because he refused to complain, which probably would've made Naruto worry, which would have made Sakura even more annoyed than she usually was when Sasuke decided that suffering in silence was still a valid coping mechanism even though they were all twenty-five.
"He's the honey," Kakashi said, tilting his head jovially at her. "And you're the trap."
A likely fucking story at this point.
The revolution that Sasuke demanded, the one that Naruto deserved, the one that Obito had changed sides for in the middle of a war, couldn't happen unless the daimyo just stopped being as politically powerful as he was. Now that could occur in one of two ways; he could quietly step down, or he could be assassinated. Sakura and Sasuke were there of course, to figure out which of the two it was going to be.
Political assassinations weren't exactly in vogue anymore, what with the whole 'world of truth' thing they had going on. Sakura, while not explicitly a fan of the way Shimura silently ran the village, can now see the merits of quietly shoving a senbon through someone's ear when they're asleep; it's effective, and you don't have to talk to them.
"At least you don't have to fuck anyone," Sasuke grouses, touching up his eye make up.
Sakura lifts an eyebrow.
"You don't have to fuck anyone," she replies.
Sasuke looks at her, lifting one finely arched eyebrow. Realization hits, and Sakura groans.
"You are not -,"
"What I do with my husband is none of your business -"
"We're on a mission, why is Naruto even around - ?"
"He's the Godaime's nephew and the Rokudaime's apprentice. Of course he's going to be here."
"Why didn't Kakashi-sensei tell me?"
"He knew you wouldn't like it."
"So what, you're gonna have Naruto pick you up while you're supposed to be seducing the daimyo's son?"
Sasuke dabs his lips with pink lipstick until they're faintly rosy. Sakura can feel a migraine coming on. She doesn't even want to ask who taught Sasuke how to do his make up. He looks the part perfectly; a kagema, an apprenticed kabuki actor, moonlighting because what other ways did you scrape together money this deep into rich Fire Country without having a patron or a rich family?
"If the daimyo's son wants to watch, that's his prerogative."
Sakura tries to scrub the image of Sasuke and Naruto sucking face in front of a forty year old man out of her brain. It doesn't work. She needs bleach, and lots of it.
"You're a demon," Sakura says, "and we're late."
Sasuke huffs, fixing his hair and adjusting the folds of his dark blue kimono around him. He's wearing a low level henge, one that hides his rinnengan in a way that just covering it with his fringe won't. Otherwise, he looks the same. Black haired, black eyed, rosy lipped. Sakura wonders where this Sasuke was when she was fifteen and in love. The Sasuke in front of her now would've deserved her running across the elemental nations to bring him home. He was a knockout.
The butt-bow had been a bad fashion decision on his part. Sakura had reamed him mercilessly for it when they were on speaking terms after the war had been over for a few weeks, and she had knocked his molars out of his jaw and back in again because therapy.
He allows her to hustle him out of his room in the back of the teahouse, one that specializes in the kind of sex work Sasuke is only supposedly doing for the night.
Sakura is 'hired muscle' in the same way Sasuke's a 'prostitute'. She looks the part, and she's getting paid well for even that much. But when it comes down to fighting or fucking, she's not very likely to partake.
She's there to guard the teahouse. To keep an eye on Sasuke (and now apparently Naruto, since the Kakashi in his infinite wisdom decided to send him as back-up after her and Sasuke) and to make sure the daimyo's son is as loose lipped as rumor says he is.
He was apparently the type more interested in fucking than fighting. A real softy, scared out of his mind after the war, but a good man. He wasn't all that concerned about the hidden villages. He wanted to spend his time in this little pocket of Fire Country, doing what he pleased and whom he pleased. He was happy to let the daimyo's power fade into obscurity.
After all, the shinobi had literally just fought a god. And a man who should have been dead for generations. The daimyo's son didn't want any part of that crazy shit, no thank you, not at all.
Sakura already liked him on principle. She, too, would much rather not have to deal with shinobi affairs. And he was his father's firstborn and favorite, more likely to succeed him when the old man finally croaked. Of natural causes, of course. Konoha was actually the nice village now. They didn't do that sort of thing anymore.
But as Sakura watches Sasuke melt into the crowd of other young men (only half as stunning as he manages to be) tittering to each other, while other men from outside the lavish teahouse track their movements, she knows that the assassination route is much faster and much more efficient.
She tries not to be annoyed, even though she absolutely fucking is. The matron of the teahouse (a thick necked, no nonsense woman named Hanako) wouldn't hear of Sakura being as ornately armed as she should have been. Her bow and quiver of arrows and her nagitana had all been left behind in favor of a ninjatō that was small enough for concealment, but large enough for intimidation.
"You'll broil in all that armor," Hanako had said, puffing smoke out of her pipe. "The men are usually well behaved around my boys, so I don't think you'll need it."
"With all due respect, ma'am," Sakura had said, "I'll keep it on."
Even in these parts, there were stories of a pink haired girl who punched god in the head. The armor may not change the color of her hair, but no one would think that Haruno Sakura (molly-whopper of god) would be traipsing around Fire Country posing as a samurai.
Besides, she wasn't really posing. She knew how to sit, how to stand, and how to move in the heavy red plated garb. She had seen her father do it, had seen her grandmother dress herself in it to be able to mimic them now.
None of that changes the fact that there's a lot of fucking nothing to do while she waits for Sasuke to bait the daimyo's son. She stands out front while men pass the teahouse by, peering in through the open front verandah, where young men no younger than twenty sit lasciviously, heads tilted, throats exposed, smiling coyly from beneath their eyelashes.
Some are ignored, but others get picked up with little fanfare. The patrons must get past Sakura to enter. She only turns a couple of them a way; those with weapons are not allowed inside. She has no qualms physically tossing a man twice her size across the street when he tries to push past her. She draws her blade an inch from its sheath, and the man disappears to another teahouse.
Sakura is absurdly protective of Hanako's boys. Sakura is absurdly protective in general. Which is probably why Hanako offered her to stay for a month instead of the week Sakura had requested when she asked the matron for work.
She stands out front for several hours before Hanako's primary guard Rokuro arrives to relieve her. She cracks her neck in thanks, and he nods brusquely at her. They work in shifts, inside and outside of the teahouse. There are only four of them, and when Sakura leaves, there will only be three.
She steps inside, into the air spiced with tea and sex and low laughter. The fucking happens in back rooms, away from the upstairs where the boys who live in the teahouse sleep. The first floor is for introductions, for pretty tea ceremony, for wine and beer and sake; for getting to know each other, or at least getting a feel before heading to the back rooms.
Sakura's eyes scan over the room. She catches sight of Sasuke's henge, his head hanging lowly to a blond one.
'Naruto,' Sakura thinks with some relief. He must have come in behind Sakura, and immediately made a beeline for his husband.
She knows Sasuke can handle himself, but she also knows that this is a specific part he's playing. He won't be able to snatch his wrist out of an offender's grip if he wants to. He'll have to wait for Sakura, or for one of the other guards to do it. With Naruto here, clearly laying a claim from the way he leans into Sasuke's space, no one will interrupt them unless Sasuke is in visible distress.
Already feeling the coil of concern unwinding itself in her stomach, Sakura breathes.
"Are you all alone here, too, Nanako-san?"
Sakura flicks her eyes to the left where she's been approached. It isn't the first time one of Hanako's boys have tried propositioning her. They're usually all only interested in men, but there are several among them who take a look at her hands and her lips and are well aware that there's more fun to be had with a woman who knows what she's doing than with a man who doesn't.
"I'm working," she says.
She barely gives him a glance. He's one of Hanako's alright. He knows her false name, for one, and he's bold enough to approach her. His hair is loose around his shoulders instead of tidily pulled back, dark eyes, green kimono loosely exposing a purpling bruise at his collarbone.
He's just done a service, that much is clear, and it's not surprising that he's trying to pick up someone else. Hanako takes a little less than half the boy's wages to keep the teahouse running. Some of them are itching to buy their way out of the house; if he's one of those, he'll take whatever willing money he can get.
"I am, too," the man purrs, sidling up just a little bit closer. "Why don't we work together?"
Sakura snorts, hand still idly resting on her ninjatō's hilt.
"Maybe when Yoshiaki relieves me," she says, humoring him in hopes that he'll go away.
"But Nanako-san," the man coos, encroaching further still into her space, "I'd really like to get to know you better."
"What for?" she asks, not shifting when he places a tender hand on her armored shoulder.
She doesn't do as much as flinch. His mouth is perilously close to her ear, but Sakura is implacable.
"Because we are leaves of the same great tree," he murmurs, voice low and soft in her ear.
The words are code, one meant to identify one undercover shinobi with another. Sakura turns her head just the barest bit, and then her mouth is nearly on top of the kagema's. When she gets a better look at him now, she can see the silver studs in his ear, the steady blackness of his eyes, the humorous tilt in his brow, the coy smile on his lips.
Shikamaru looks damn fine with his clothes all but hanging off him, with the evidence of someone else's mouth planted on his throat where everyone can see it.
"The tree that the salamander climbs," Sakura replies, her breath against his lips.
Senju Hashirama had been a salamander sage, and that alone was a little known fact outside of Konohagakure's chuunin ranks and above. It was the proper response; identification for identification.
Shikamaru smiles at her, too close, closer than he's ever been to her in the years that they've known each other. He begins tapping and dragging his index finger on the red armor that covers her shoulder, leaning in closer still so that his lips almost brush her cheek.
It's morse code.
'Naruto's back up. Intel gathering. Don't blow my cover.'
"What's your name?" Sakura asks.
"Masato," Shikamaru replies.
"And what do you want to know about me, Masato-kun?"
'Daimyo's son in vicinity. Sasuke and Naruto getting him into a private room.'
"Whatever it is you'd like to tell me, Nanako-san."
"There isn't much to tell."
Shikamaru tilts his head at her, pink mouth looking slightly bitten by someone else's teeth.
"I don't think that's true."
Sakura takes Shikamaru's hand off her shoulder, and rubs the delicate skin on the inside of his wrist.
'Four guards, including myself. One stationed at the front, another at the back. Two inside at all times. One in front room, one in back rooms for rescue if necessary.'
"Do people tell you that you have lovely eyes, Nanako-san?"
"Not often," Sakura replies. "As a child, I was teased for my forehead."
Shikamaru makes a pouting face at that, like he wasn't there for the childhood Sakura's referencing.
"How cruel," he says. "It's not even that big."
Sakura drops Shikamaru's wrist, then reaches out, and catches a few locks of his loose brown hair between her fingers. She rubs it softly; it's soft, perfumed, and well combed. That's already more effort than Shikamaru would put into his appearance in a month.
"And you, Masato-kun?" she asks. "Did the other children tease you when you were younger?"
Shikamaru gives a delicate shrug, one that draws the sleeve of his kimono down almost obscenely low. Her eyes follow the movement, and her eyes flicker over his shoulder. There, she can see them now. The daimyo's guard. Discreet men, all propositioning one of Hanako's boys so they can stay close to their charge.
Sakura turns her gaze back to Shikamaru, who carefully tugs back up his sleeve. As he does, Sakura can see the barest flash of his pale brown nipple. She wants it between her teeth.
"No," he says airily. "I was too boring for that. I spent all my time napping and avoiding my lessons."
Sakura smirks, dropping Shikamaru's hair to place her gloved hand at the column of his exposed throat. Beautifully in character, his breath hitches. He turns his head the barest bit, giving her more access to his skin. Sakura rubs her thumb against the curve of his jaw, using her hand to draw his face down before she presses that same thumb against his mouth.
He bites the glove. Keeps her eyes on hers as he pulls his head back just the barest bit, tugging the glove between his teeth with him.
Sakura pats his face once, and his teeth dislodge themselves. She drops her hand back to her ninjatō and turns her gaze away from him, eyes sweeping over the room once more. Sasuke and Naruto are making their move, and the daimyo's guard won't be long to follow.
In a private room between the two of them, Sasuke and Naruto could get all the information they needed out of the daimyo's sons. But they'd need his guards out of the way.
"Masato-kun," Sakura drawls, "if you're still feeling generous, I think I would like to give you a hand."
Shikamaru smiles at her, and Sakura wonders how well he would stick to his part if she did have him under her hand.
"If you'll follow me, Nanako-san," Shikamaru says, stepping away from the wall and out towards the back rooms where Naruto, Sasuke, and the daimyo's son have disappeared, "I'll show you to a nice room where we can discuss my rate."
Sakura smirks at him, following behind, watching him glide.
"How much will an hour cost me?"
That's all they need, between the four of them. Team Seven could do it in twenty minutes, but with lots of screaming, kicking, and a handful of broken bones. Shikamaru added another forty minutes, but the process would be much smoother with him than without.
Shikamaru looks over his shoulder and gives Sakura a wink.
"For you?" he asks. "I'll only charge half."