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Sakura closed her eyes, letting her lashes flutter, and thought about teeth scraping the skin of a pale throat. She could smell the faint hint of sweat and taste the salt on her tongue. She thought of hands dragging down slim sides and the soft pant in her ear. Sakura imagined hips gripped tightly, fingers digging into wiry muscle. She licked her lips and tasted cherry chap stick and wondered how a pulse would feel under her tongue.

“Are you even listening Sakura?” Ino demanded.

Sakura opened her eyes and looked across the table at her best friend. She offered a smile to the narrowed suspicious gaze.

“Of course Ino.”

“It looked like you were going to fall asleep,” Ino frowned. “Are you sure you’re feeling up to this?”

“I always have time for my friends Ino.” Sakura smiled, letting her eyes crinkle shut. “Just got caught by a thought.”

Ino sniffed but turned back to telling Sakura about how annoying some Suna-nin had been on their last collaborated mission. Sakura didn’t mean to stop listening, but every time Ino swallowed Sakura’s eyes were drawn to the pale column of her throat. She tried to keep the gaze discreet and must have succeeded since Ino said nothing more.

Sakura felt like a man dying of thirst staring at an oasis just out of reach.

.--.

Sakura slipped her fingers beneath the waist band of her panties. She blamed Kakashi. She blamed him utterly.

They had been assigned a mission to gather information in the capital but Kakashi had been called away for an emergency on the border. So he had told them that it was a test to see who could get the information first and left the mission to her and Naruto. Kakashi had known what he was doing by throwing a challenge at them. Naruto’s competiveness and her stubbornness had led to a bet. The bet didn’t really matter, she barely remembered what the prize had been. What had been important had been winning, by any means, to show up Naruto.

Their target had been a minor lord and Sakura had learned about his dirty habit of visiting various brothels around the city. So she had followed the next course of action and went to ask the girls he frequented if they had the answers she needed. That was how Sakura had been drawn in by a back alley girl with liquid silver eyes.

Sakura couldn’t remember her name, as awful as that was. She could remember the deal though. A night with the girl who had a weakness for ninja and she would get her information. Sakura had hesitated of course, unsure of what two women could do alone in a room without a man. She had hesitated, but had been willing.

Sakura had got her information. She’d also gotten nearly a week with a girl with silver eyes and dark hair and soft lips. Sakura remembered the smell of tobacco and the sound of a soft pant in her ear and softer hands on her skin. Sakura remembered the soft whimpers and the curves and the way her mouth opened in pleasure.

It had opened her eyes wide and suddenly. Sakura had found herself unable to look at men after that.

She wondered how she hadn’t realized it before, and remembered bullies with taunts and wanting to fit in so bad. It made sense now, why she had focused on Sasuke. Sakura had adored his slim build and his soft lips and the way his hands looks so delicate.

But one week of endless pleasure in a brothel with a woman whose name she couldn’t remember, and it was like the world had flipped. Sakura wasn’t ashamed. She wasn’t embarrassed or nervous. She was actually more confident then she had been in years.

Now she just had to come up with a game plan.

Sakura brought herself to the peak with her fingers, a name on her lips, and blue eyes in her mind. Afterwards she cleaned herself up, got dressed, and headed out.

.--.

“You can be my maid of honor,” Sakura assured Naruto from where they were crouched in the trees, “Just run interference.”

“Is Shikamaru even interested in her?” Naruto asked peering at the lazy shinobi sitting next to Ino.

“Maybe. It’s not a risk I’m willing to take at least,” Sakura shrugged, “I am more worried about Sai to be honest.”

Naruto gave Sai a squinty look and then gave a decisive nod.

“Got it. How distracted do you want them?”

“I need the afternoon at least,” Sakura said.

Naruto nodded and then held out a fist. She gave it a fist bump.

“Good luck,” he grinned at her, eyes crinkling shut with the force of it.

“I don’t need luck,” Sakura grinned back.

Naruto fell on the party with a wild shout and within minutes Sai, Shikamaru, and Choji were off, pulled away by a babbling Naruto. Ino was blinking, dazed, after them.

“Hey Ino,” Sakura said dropping down into the grass beside the blonde, “Did Naruto come storming through here.”

“He did,” she nodded, looking after them, “Something about a mission.”

“One he made up,” Sakura smiled.

Ino turned to look at her and Sakura’s breath was stolen by how pretty her cornflower blue eyes were in the sunlight. She couldn’t believe she had barely noticed before.

“Some prank?” Ino grinned.

“Hopefully nothing too destructive,” Sakura grinned back, looking at the way the sunlight glinted off of white-blonde hair, “Wanna do lunch while they get in trouble?”

“Sure,” Ino flashed her teeth in a smile.

.--.

Sakura felt a book fall on her head in a thump and shot Kakashi a snarl.

“Mah, you are acting like a stalker,” Kakashi smiled at her over her shoulder.

“I am not,” Sakura said, affronted.

He raised a brow at her and she looked away stubbornly.

“Because sitting in the bushes and spying on someone isn’t stalker-ish,” he said dryly, “Just go and talk to her.”

“I’m waiting for Sasuke to leave,” Sakura said.
Sasuke, sitting in the same Teahouse Ino was at, was acting like there was no one else in the area.

“Sasuke is getting a tad…” Sakura flapped her hand.

“Focused?” Kakashi asked.

“Something like that. Distract him for me.”

“Mah, I thought Naruto was your distraction.”

“He’s not here,” Sakura said.

Kakashi made a humming noise and then gave her a crinkled smile.

“You grow up so fast.”

“I’m an adult Kakashi, I have been for a few years,” Sakura smirked at him, “And you only have yourself to blame for this whole thing.”

“One day you’ll tell me why,” Kakashi said, “Naruto mentioned something about a brothel and a pretty girl?”

“You wanna hear about how a woman helped me realize my sexuality?” Sakura raised a brow.
Kakashi paused. Then shuddered.

“No thank you,” he said, sounding a tad pained, “I really don’t need to know anything about any of your sex lives.”

“I thought not,” Sakura snorted, “Now, go, distract him for me.”

“Fine, fine. Good luck by the way.”

And then he was approaching Sasuke with a deceptive slouch. Sakura didn’t know what he said, but Sasuke stood and followed him away. Sakura was in the tea-house a moment later.

“Oh, hello Ino,” Sakura smiled.

“Sakura,” Ino waved at her, “Come join me. Are you on break?”

Sakura nodded and ordered a set of tea and snacks as she sat across from Ino.

“What have you been working on?” Ino asked.

“I’ve been studying the chakra points in the hand recently,” Sakura said, “We traded for some Intel on puppeteering and it’s quite fascinating how they mold their chakra strings.”

She picked up Ino’s hand to show her some of the spots and Ino listened closely, asking questions. When Sakura’s tea arrived, she didn’t let go of Ino’s hand. Ino didn’t pull away.

.--.

Sakura looked over the small flowering plant and smiled fondly at its leaves. It had little blue flowers budding out of it and Sakura couldn’t help but think of Ino as she watered it.

Sitting on her table sat a small wrapped packaged of specialty cakes, wrapped prettily in blue paper that matched the flowers, matched Ino’s eyes. She had gotten it from Tea country during a mission only days ago.

Not many people knew that the way to Ino’s heart was through specialty sweets, especially ones shaped like little flowers and filled with white bean paste. Sakura had extended her mission by a day just to pick up the highly demanded little cakes.

Sitting beside it was a familiar ribbon. Sakura intended to weave it around her wrist. Ino would recognize it immediately. And maybe she would understand what it meant to Sakura still. What Ino meant to Sakura still.

She watered her little blue flowers, and then grabbed the cakes, the ribbon, and all the confidence she could scrape together.

Sakura had a good feeling about the day.

.--.

Ino’s lips were soft and sweet, topped with cherry lip balm. She tasted like the sweet cakes Sakura had given her earlier. Sakura was overwhelmed by the softness, the warmth, and the sweet smell of lilacs. Ino made an interested noise deep in her throat and pulled Sakura closer by her hair, long manicured fingers tangled in the pink candy floss.

“Go out with me,” Sakura murmured into the kiss.

Ino laughed, loud and abrupt but oh so sweet.

“Dinner?” Ino suggested.

“That sushi place down the way,” Sakura agreed.

“Only if we go for dessert at that little cake shop down the road afterwards,” Ino smiled, lips plump and kissable.

“Anything you want,” Sakura said, chasing those lips for another kiss.

“Is Naruto running a distraction on the boys?”

“Yeah,” Sakura breathed.

“Good,” Ino said, pulling Sakura into another kiss.

Sakura felt alive, felt electrified. She was all heat and passion and consuming love. Ino responded eagerly and Sakura just about cried with joy even as Ino murmured in her ear and caressed her hair. Ino turned her smile on her, blue eyes glittering, and Sakura was drowning.

Somewhere over the field came the sound of yelling. Sakura and Ino, hidden under an old oak tree ignored them, hands grazing over soft skin and the sound of soft sighs in the summer air.

.--.

Sakura woke to the sunlight slipping past her curtains. The air was still, the faint sounds of the market below her apartment filtering in through the glass. Sakura stared at the ceiling for a long moment before rolling over.

Ino looked amazing, dappled in sunlight and sleeping. Her face relaxed, her hair like a pool of gold around them. Ino had always been pretty but she was downright beautiful beside Sakura in her bed.

Sakura slipped from the bed and Ino, so used to her, didn’t even stir. Sakura pulled on a tank top and a pair of shorts before heading downstairs, the faint flickering of chakra acting like a doorbell. Sakura opened the door to find a totally unexpected sight.

Sasuke was standing on her doorstep, arm full of roses. Behind him, Naruto was watching with a sense of morbid curiosity, like watching an explosion. Sakura could sense Kakashi just down the hall as well and knew he was staying a safe distance away.

“Sakura,” Sasuke said, “Go out with me.”

Sakura stared at him blankly. She tried to compute what he was saying and it was like her mind was simply unable to comprehend what had just been said.

“Excuse me?” she asked dumbly.

“Go out with me,” Sasuke said, “And in on a date.”

He shoved the roses in her hand. Sakura stared at him, knowing she was gaping.

“A date,” she parroted.

Sasuke gave a sigh.

“I know I’ve hurt you. I know I was an idiot to leave Konoha. But I want to make up for it. I want to be the Sasuke you loved.”

Sakura stared at him in shock. That was surprisingly nice coming from Sasuke. It was actually well said for how little he usually said.

“Um,” Sakura stuttered, “Sorry Sasuke, but I can’t go on a date with you.”

His lips twitched into a frown.

“What?” he said, something like surprise in his voice, as if he had not thought rejection could be an outcome of this conversation.

“She said she can’t go out with you, loser,” a snippy voice chimed in.

Ino leaned around Sakura, wrapped in her sheet. She grabbed the roses from Sakura’s arms and tossed them back at Sasuke who scrambled for them.

“And roses are tacky,” Ino sassed, flipping her hair over her shoulder, “Now get lost. She’s taken.”

Sasuke’s jaw was slowly falling open. Behind him Naruto was grinning in glee and Sakura knew Ino was his new favorite person.

“You…Sakura…” Sasuke faltered.

“Me and her,” Ino agreed grinning.

Then, as if to prove it, she leaned around Sakura and kissed her. Sakura had no complaints, even as she tugged the sheet up higher over Ino’s shoulders. Ino’s was hers, not any of these asshole’s to ogle.

“Come back to bed,” Ino smiled at her.

“Yeah,” Sakura grinned stupidly.

She shut the door in Sasuke’s flabbergasted face and let Ino pull her back up the stairs.
Sakura regretted nothing.

.--.

Naruto was her maid of honor of course and made nearly everyone laugh by wearing a dress. In male form. Sakura barely noticed because she couldn’t look away from Ino, resplendent in her wedding dress.

Kakashi gave a speech that was so touching people cried, and Sakura heard none of it, too caught up in the way Ino’s laugh sounded.

Sasuke muttered some congratulations and Sakura didn’t reply because she was too busy drowning in Ino’s love.

Sakura found her happy ever after and it was in cornflower blue eyes and white gold hair and the soft twist of Ino’s lips. Sakura found her happiness in her best friend and she regretted nothing but how long it had taken to find love in the woman she had grown up with.