(Friendship Is A (Mutual) Con)
Shikako stares at Sai, the breath for her response caught in her throat, more confused than concerned, but a healthy amount of both.
Sai stares back, guileless.
“… we can work on that,” Shikako finally says, hesitantly. She is angry and horrified–but not at him, it’s not his fault–and it takes effort to keep it out of her voice.
“I’ve read many books on this subject, so I’m quite confident I’ve mastered the theory,” Sai responds, holding up his tablet which proudly displays the title: Love and Other Mysteries.
“… that’s…” this time there is no hiding her skepticism, “Well… think of it as needing field experience. Cooperation leads to teamwork, teamwork leads to friendship, and friendship is a great step towards love.”
Sai nods as if what she’s saying actually makes sense and isn’t something she’s just making up on the spot.
And it’s not like anyone else on the team–besides Sakura, that is–is emotionally competent enough to dispute that.
Shikako realizes she still has her comm on ten minutes after the screaming fight with her brother has already ended.
Mostly because Sai, showing his developing social acuity, quietly clears his throat before asking, “Did he not like your gift?”
She sighs, exasperated and embarrassed with herself and, maybe, a little unapologetically petty at Sai for eavesdropping–let him deal with the audio feedback–but if he had to wade through that awful argument then she does sort of owe him an explanation.
“No, he was grateful for it. It’ll speed up his recovery by months, if not years, and it’ll definitely make his PT easier…”
“That didn’t sound like gratitude.”
Shikako’s chuckle is more bitter than amused, “He’s worried about how I got it, instead of focusing on his own health which is what really matters…”
She sighs again, exhausted. It’s been months of this, she just wants that easiness that they used to have.
“… sometimes love is hard.”
This is their final heist as a team–or as this team, at least: Sakura returning to her previous team, Yamato clearing his name and getting reinstated, and Kakashi finally obtaining the peace that had eluded him for so long.
“Will you be staying?” Sai asks her as he packs up his rig–there is a strange lack of urgency and so he takes his time to stow everything away neatly instead of just shoving things in his bag as someone else drags him away.
“Yes,” she answers, swiftly, simply, no consideration needed. She tilts her head over at Naruto and Sasuke, who are both saying their goodbyes and trying (and failing) to be professional about it. “They need me, still.”
There is a pause as Sai continues to pack and Shikako watches, not wanting to interfere.
“And you?” She finally asks, as the last zipper is zipped.
He shoulders his bag, two hard shell cases in either hand as well, and answers–swiftly, simply–
“I haven’t finished my lessons, yet.”
A/N: I don’t know why this was so difficult for me, anon… it’s not the pairing that’s the problem. I think maybe because this prompt was already asked with a blank check platonic pair and I had to NOT do the same thing here…
Anyway, hope you enjoy!