Do Me a Favor
Sakura Haruno bit her lower lip as she fumbled through the contents of her purse. Her keys were lost in the unorganized mess of makeup, combs, change and various other products she kept in there. Glancing uneasily at the front door, which she had locked with the lock on the doorknob after exiting her home, she wondered if she had accidentally left her keys on the kitchen counter. If that was the case, she wouldn't be able to get in her car or her apartment.
Sighing with relief as they finally turned up – hidden behind her wallet no less – she took them out and unlocked the door to her purple Tommy Kaira ZZ, a birthday present from her boyfriend, Sasuke Uchiha. She sat down in the front seat, carelessly tossing her purse on the passenger side. Her eyes widened when she realized she never zipped the black bag shut. "No!" she exclaimed, fruitlessly trying to reach for it before it fell onto the floor mat and spilled the contents all over.
Sakura shut her door and squirmed over, reaching her right hand out to pick up some of the fallen items. "Great way to start your day, Sakura," she mumbled to herself, frustrated already. If she didn't hurry, she was going to be late for breakfast with her friends.
When she finally gathered everything up and zipped her purse shut, she set it down in the passenger seat again. Brushing a few of her bubblegum-colored bangs out of her pretty green eyes, she turned the keys and started the car. Sakura watched the rear view mirror, making sure she wouldn't hit the mailbox again. Sasuke was furious when that happened. She only had the car for two weeks and she backed into her own mailbox by accident. He rarely lost his temper and was usually calm and collected, but when it came to his cars, that was another story. She rolled her eyes with amusement as she drove down the street. Men and their cars, honestly.
Sakura arrived at the coffeehouse where she met her friends every weekday morning before work only to find that her two best friends were already there. She parked her car between Hinata Hyuga's white Mustang and Ino Yamanaka's blue Dodge Neon. Stepping out of her car, she locked it with the remote control in her key and walked into the restaurant.
Ino saw her right away and waved her over to their usual spot. The trio always sat in a booth by a window where there was lots of sunshine and they could talk. It was always a nice way to wake up in the morning, better than going straight to work. Sakura grinned, sitting down next to Hinata. "Hey, guys," she greeted.
"Morning, Sakura," Hinata said in her usual quiet, shy tone.
"Heya!" Ino smirked. She rested her elbows on the table, folding her fingers across to make a bridge for her chin to rest on as she gave Sakura a suggestive look. "So how does it feel to work for hottie Sasori from high school?"
Sakura's eyes widened momentarily but she quickly masked it with a nonchalant expression. "Really great, actually. He pays quite nicely. So Ino, how does it feel to own your own business?"
Ino gave her usual dramatic sigh, "It's such hard work, but that's what you need to get by in the world these days. Wouldn't have gone far without Hinata here helping me out."
Hinata smiled sheepishly, "It's no problem; we're best friends. A-and, well, you got me a job."
"Of course!" Ino said in a tone that stated it was obvious. "I think it's great having friends working at the spa with me. Or with hair in your case." Ino owned a hair salon and spa called Vollenden. Hinata worked there as one of the beauticians. "I offered Forehead here a job, but no…"
Sakura playfully rolled her eyes, "I already had a job, you know that." Sakura worked at Akatsuki Studios where she was a receptionist for a world famous artist. She went to high school with Sasori, but he was three grades ahead of her and already well-known for his artistic style. Now he was famous in several different countries and known as Akasuna no Sasori to several art collectors. Sasori made enough money to pay Sakura very generously.
"Yeah, yeah," Ino smiled, waving her hand a couple times in dismissal. "So, I was thinking…" she began, her tone turning into the suggestive one she had used before. "Temari finally got permission to reopen that old night club. Vollenden isn't open on Sundays and Thursdays so I offered to volunteer to… spice things up. What do you two say?"
"That sounds like fun," Hinata agreed. "I think it would be neat to help Temari decorate and hire people."
Sakura paused, mentally going over her schedule. "I have Sundays off, too, but I'll have to ask Sasori about Thursdays. It's pretty random sometimes."
"I'm sure he won't mind, he knows Temari," Ino pointed out.
Hinata nodded, "Don't worry, Sakura. Even if you can't, well… you can still come with us on Sundays. A-and we can show you what we did the Thursday you were gone."
"Good idea, Hinata," Sakura said pleasantly. It was nice to see that Hinata was finally coming out of her shell. Back in high school, she couldn't get out a sentence without stuttering or tripping over her words. She blushed frequently, too, and was usually unable to have eye-contact with the person she was speaking with. Sakura and Ino befriended her from elementary school and slowly helped her get more confidence. Now that they were adults, Hinata finally began showing her true colors, and it was a really nice change.
Ino took a sip of her cappuccino before continuing. "So… I hear someone has a twentieth birthday coming up…"
Sakura chuckled lightly, playing along, "Oh, I wonder who that could be."
Ino and Hinata were giggling, but the blonde was the one who managed to speak first. "Hinata and I think maybe we should celebrate extra special this year. Do you know what Sasuke's doing for you?"
Tilting her head to the side, Sakura gave her a confused look. "Sasuke's doing something for my birthday this year?"
"No, I mean, are you two doing anything special?" Ino asked, rewording her question.
"Oh, no, not that I know of," Sakura replied. "It's usually just like any other day, but he wishes me happy birthday and gives me a present."
Ino sighed in envy, "Yeah, like that beautiful car out there." She shook her head once and returned to the subject at hand. "Hinata and I were thinking about having a girls' night out or something like that this year, what do you say?"
Sakura raised an eyebrow, "What do you have in mind?" Before either could reply, she continued. "I don't have much free time these days, girls. I have work at Akatsuki and school at the university."
"How's that going?" Hinata asked politely.
"Really well, thanks," Sakura smiled. "As soon as the semester's over, I'll have two years in."
"That's great and all," Ino started, "but you've got to celebrate your birthday… I mean… it's your birthday, Sakura."
"No buts," the blonde grinned. "Leave it to me, I'll take care of scheduling and planning since it's your birthday. I've got a month to work this out, so it's not a problem. Plus, I'm not tied down with college like you are."
Sakura frowned slightly but didn't complain. "Okay, but don't put too much effort into it. It's not that big a deal."
"Don't worry," Hinata told her with an encouraging smile. "Ino is really good at this stuff."
"Yeah, I know," Sakura grinned. "Well, I'd stay longer, but I have to get to work. I was late."
"We noticed," Ino laughed. "Ask Sasori out for me again."
Sakura nearly dropped her purse after just picking it up. "Ino, you pig! I'm not going to ask my boss if he'll go out with you!"
Ino sighed, "It was worth a try."
Sakura rolled her eyes, trying to act offended, but to no avail as she felt the corners of her mouth tug upwards. "All right, I'll see you two later. Same time tomorrow – and this time I won't be late!" she promised. Sakura waved one last time and walked out the door. She unlocked her car, got in, started it up and headed to the studio.
Sakura was always at Akatsuki Studios first, which was why she kept her keys at close reach even after locking her car once she got out. She approached the building's front door and unlocked it (after several minutes of trying to remember which key it was). Hanging her white trench coat up on the hanger, Sakura started turning on the lights.
The studio was painted mostly white – Sasori said colored walls would take away some of the presence of the art in the room – but it really didn't need much decoration. There were several marvelous paintings adorning the walls, each with an exorbitant price tag. However even Sakura would admit she owned some of her boss's masterpieces in her home. Along some of the walls on their own stands were sculptures, descriptions that Sakura had proudly typed herself, and a few other works of art, some of which weren't for sale.
Sakura casually sat down at the front desk and turned on the computer to start the day and enter her time card. It was Friday, and that was always a good day. Musing over what she was going to spend with her paycheck (after bills and groceries were taken out), Sakura didn't even notice the bell on the door chime as someone came in.
"Not paying you to daydream, Sakura," Sasori said in his normal, perfectly serene tone of voice as he closed the door behind him.
Sakura jumped and gave a nervous laugh, "Err… yeah, sorry about that."
"Any calls?" he asked, stopping at her desk. He looked exceptionally tired today and even leaned on the desk slightly, propping his head up with his hand, elbow on the white desk. This was strange behavior for him; usually Sasori was always so calm, his facial expression perfect and angelic.
"No, I just got here a few minutes ago," Sakura replied as she logged in under her username on the computer. She looked at him with concern in her eyes. "Are you feeling all right? You look beat."
"Stayed up late," Sasori sighed, running a tired hand through his short, crimson hair. He stood up straight and looked at her again, "I've got a file I left out from yesterday, think you can organize it for me?"
"Sure, no problem," Sakura nodded.
"Thanks," he said. He was about to head up the stairs to the second floor, where he did most of his artwork, when he stopped, remembering something. "Oh, Sakura, I need you to deliver something for me."
Sakura gave him a confused look, stopping her typing on the computer for a moment. "Okay, where to?"
Sasori took an envelope from his pocket and handed it to her. "The address is on the front – shouldn't take you too long."
"Okay, when do you want me to deliver it."
"Anytime is fine, just tell me before you leave so I can cover the phone."
Sakura gave him a smile and said, "Sure thing." Sasori nodded and walked up the stairs, leaving Sakura to her work. "Okay, I'll organize this file and then deliver this letter." She stopped for a moment, feeling curious. Glancing at the stairs to make sure Sasori was indeed on the second floor, Sakura picked up the envelope he left on her desk and examined the address. It was to an apartment building, but it certainly wasn't one of the nice ones like what she had. The address was brief – it lacked Sasori's usual elegant script and appeared to have been written slightly… sloppily or perhaps in haste. The only name on the address was 'Deidara.'
She paused, thinking for a while. Deidara… The name rang a bell, but she couldn't put her finger on it. Before she could ponder the matter further, the phone rang. Time to get back to work.
"Akatsuki Studios, Sakura Haruno speaking, what may I do for you?"
Sakura cringed when she heard her friend's voice. It was undoubtedly Naruto Uzumaki, another of her friends she had kept in contact with from high school. "Naruto, I'm working now; you know you can't call me."
"Sorry, Sakura, I forgot. Listen, I heard from Ino that we're doing something cool for your birthday and-"
"Ino said what?" Sakura asked, surprised.
"She said she told you she was planning it!" Naruto sounded slightly panicked, but quickly reverted to his usual hyperactive self. "Not important! Anyway, Sakura, I was wondering what you wanted for your birthday this year."
Sakura rolled her eyes, smiling despite herself. "Naruto, I just got done saying, I can't talk right now, I have work to do. I've got to organize a file for Sasori and then deliver a letter."
"He works you too hard!"
"No he doesn't, this is the best job I've ever had, now let me get back to work, Naruto." She wasn't irritated with him, Naruto was just over-protective. He knew Sakura was happy with her job.
"Okay, but call me later so we can talk!"
"Sure thing. Bye bye!" Quickly hanging up the phone, Sakura sighed with relief. Naruto was fun, but a bit difficult to deal with sometimes. Focusing on the task at hand, she began sorting through the different documents in the folder Sasori had given her. It was mainly filled with meeting times between him and his clients, so all she had to do was organize them by the date they were to occur on.
With a slight frown, Sakura realized why Sasori was so tired lately. He was only twenty-three and yet half the world and their mother (as Sakura put it) was begging for a moment of his time – or a piece of his artwork. It had to be tough.
Putting on her head phones, Sakura put her Kelly Clarkson CD that Hinata had bought her in her CD player. She kept the volume on light so she could hear the phone if it rang again and got to work on organizing that folder. It looked as if Sasori had one to two meetings with clients or other buyers nearly every day. Sakura looked at the stairs with a frown; what a difficult life. It was no wonder he hired her.
When Sakura was about a quarter's way through organizing the folder, the phone rang again. She paused the CD player and answered it. "Akatsuki Studios, Sakura Haruno speaking, how may I help you?"
"Yes, I'd like to set up a meeting; I'm interested in one of the pieces for sale."
"Sure, do you have a day and time that is convenient?" Sakura asked politely, though judging by the schedules, she wasn't sure if the guy would get in during that same week.
"Is there an opening this week?"
I knew he'd ask, Sakura thought. Damn it… "Well, I'm sorry sir, but this week is booked solid. However next week there's an opening on Tuesday if that works for you."
"Tuesday is fine. Is there a free slot around one p.m.?"
"Let me check." Sakura fished through the file folder just briefly scanning the dates and times of the meetings. "Yes, one o'clock is fine. I'll set up the meeting for Tuesday under a Mr.?"
"Nara. Shikaku Nara."
"Sure thing, Mr. Nara, the meeting is set. Thank you."
After hanging up the phone, Sakura sighed. She just organized another meeting to give Sasori even more stress. It was her job though, and Sasori was paying her to do it, after all. Going back to the folder, she finished organizing the rest of the meetings in order of dates and times. "There, now I'll deliver this letter and when I get back, I'll input these on the computer."
Pushing in her chair after she got up, Sakura walked to the bottom of the stairs and called up. "I finished organizing the folder! I'm going to deliver this letter and I'll input the data on the computer when I get back." She heard Sasori's slightly muffled 'thanks' and took that as a sign to head out, wondering if she would remember this 'Deidara' person if she saw him in person.