Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto.
"Oi, teme! Over here!"
Sasuke briefly closes his eyes and counts to ten before turning in the direction of his best friend's booming voice. The blond is waving at him in the VIP section several rows down. He's visibly tipsy already, cheeks flushed as he leans over his chair and spills popcorn over the laps of innocent bystanders in the row behind him.
"I can see you!" Sasuke snaps, beginning to make his way down. "Watch your hands, idiot. You're getting food everywhere."
Naruto belatedly realizes the mess he's made and proceeds to sheepishly apologize to the people behind him. They glare and mutter to themselves but otherwise don't seem too perturbed.
Once he's joined the blond, Sasuke nods his head in greeting at the line of men on Naruto's other side—Neji, Sai, and Shikamaru, to name a few—then makes himself comfortable. After a moment of contemplation, he unzips his jacket and tosses it over the back of his chair before settling in; for one, because it is a bit warmer out than he thought it would be, and two because he secretly loves showing off his jersey. It's Japan's standard women's soccer jersey—navy blue (his favorite color) with three white stripes on each sleeve. His has the number seven written in bold, and, most importantly, the name Haruno emblazoned brightly across the back.
(He's never been so proud to own a piece of clothing in his life.)
"I can't sit still for shit," Naruto tells him, nearly shaking with anticipation beside him. "It's almost like I'm the one about to play, yanno? I can't imagine what the girls must be feeling right now."
"They're probably a lot calmer than you, dumbass," Sasuke retorts easily, but it's half-hearted at best. His own nerves have had the best of him ever since Sakura left his place earlier that morning. He feels jittery, pumped full of adrenaline. Even though he's not the one who trained day after day for the last nineteen years of his life to make it here, it truly does almost feel like it's his game that's about to start. He thinks the fact that he's been by Sakura's side for nearly as long and gone to every single one of her games since he met her also has something to do with it.
"I still can't believe they made it," Naruto continues as if the Uchiha never spoke. "I mean, I do, of course. It's our girls after all, but holy shit this is unreal."
Sasuke can't help but agree. This is the largest stage their team has ever played on—figuratively if not literally, and just a few years ago it seemed like a far-off dream to the team members and the rest of the country alike. Japan's women's national soccer team has never made it to the FIFA Women's World Cup finals before, and while they performed increasingly well over the last decade they still weren't quite up to par.
That was, however, before three young, talented players from Tokyo University's women's soccer team were drafted three years ago. They've been unstoppable ever since.
"Fuck fuck fuck I'm so nervous." Naruto's right leg bounces up and down, shaking the entire bench.
Sasuke's just about to make a scathing remark to make him stop when Sai beats him to it and comments, "The game doesn't even start for another hour, Dickless."
"I know that, dumbass. I always just get so excited and—HEY GUYS LOOK IT'S HINATA! HINATAAAA! Oiiiiii! Over here!"
Sasuke winces, solemnly thinking he may have to get his hearing checked when this is over, while the blond leans over the railing and flails like an idiot, trying to get his girlfriend's attention.
"They're warming up, dobe," Sasuke mutters. "Let her focus."
He says this even as his eyes flash from player to player until he sees a familiar, bright beacon of pink hair, and he can't help the upturned corners of his lips as he takes her in.
Haruno Sakura walks onto the field like she owns it—all five foot four inches of her confident and comfortable, as if she were born to play. She's walking beside her best friend and the team's star forward, Yamanaka Ino, smiling and laughing as they pass a ball between them. Her green eyes are full of fire, back straight and proud. Sasuke doesn't think he'll ever get tired of seeing her in her element.
True to Naruto's incessant screaming, Hyuuga Hinata—the most reliable sweeper he's ever seen and a monster of a defensive player, fascinatingly at odds with her naturally shy and soft-spoken nature—is walking on the right side of the group, closest to where they're seated. Her head whips around and Sasuke can see her blush even at a distance as she waves back.
"I LOVE YOU, HYUUGA HINATA!" Sasuke curses himself for not buying those ear plugs he saw yesterday. The blond's voice could surely cause an avalanche at this point. "You're gonna do great! Go kick some ass, dattebayo!"
Hinata's red as a tomato. Her teammates laugh and pat her on the back, but the smile she tries to hide with a curtain of her hair is undeniably happy.
Their entire row of friends stiffen at once and gulp deeply, wholly fearful of the blonde lady stalking toward them on the field, murder in her eyes.
"If my strongest defensive player faints because of your idiotic ass again," snarls Senju Tsunade, the team's head coach and also the boys' worst nightmare, "I will rip your dick off and shove it so far up your ass you'll taste it in the back of your throat. Now shut the fuck up and let her do what she does best." She's glaring at him from below, and with a crack of her knuckles she finishes, "Are we clear, Uzumaki?"
Naruto lets out a meek, "Clear," and it's only when Tsunade's moved away that they can finally relax.
"Jesus fuck, she's terrifying," Kiba whispers, and they all nod in agreement. Tsunade is a stern coach but she treats her players with the utmost care and consideration—which consequently involves her threatening the lives of anyone who messes with her girls.
A sudden increase in noise throughout the stadium draws Sasuke's attention. The crowd has begun cheering enthusiastically, and Sasuke's confused for a moment before he sweeps his gaze across the stadium and realizes what it is that has them so excited.
They're playing a video on the jumbo screens—a clip of the post-game interviews from Japan's semi-finals match against South Korea, which ended with a brutal score of 5-0. Sakura scored three of the five goals, further solidifying her spot as the team's ace player and earning her an MVP title.
And it's Sakura, it seems, who has captured the audience's attention so raptly. Her interview is currently showing on the screen, and she's radiant.
Sakura answers the reporter's questions with a beaming smile, sweat glistening on her face and neck, green eyes exhausted yet bright with energy. She makes a stunning picture, as Sasuke and the entire Japanese crowd seem to recognize. It's obvious that she's a fan favorite—young, naturally beautiful, and quite honestly the most talented midfielder in the whole tournament. Sakura flashes the camera her trademark toothy grin and throws up a peace sign before the TV screen switches to a commercial.
A few male voices sound especially loud behind Sasuke's left shoulder, yelling and chanting her name—a roar of "Sakura-chan, Sakura-chan, Sakura-chan!"—and he glances back at the group of ten or so men responsible for the noise before crossing his arms over his chest and settling back into his seat with a smug curve of his lips.
Beside him, Naruto stiffens and turns to fix the men with an icy glare. Pointing a furious finger, he barks, "Oi! That's Haruno-san to you, you hear me! Don't be calling her so familiarly, you bastards!"
Sasuke hears the offending group grumble and grow silent. "Leave them be, Naruto," he says, watching as the source of their affections practices one-touch shots on the goal below. She's light on her feet, following through the shots with a clean arc of her foot.
Naruto splutters indignantly. "B-but—that's your woman, teme. Shouldn't you defend her honor or something? Those bastards are nearly salivating over her!"
Almost as if sensing that they're speaking about her, Sakura turns her head in their direction. She searches the crowd for a moment before spotting them, then smiles and waves a hand. Her smile grows soft when she locks eyes with Sasuke. Cheesily she makes a heart with her hands, beaming as she holds it out to him, and he can't help but chuckle quietly at her antics.
"Let them salivate all they want," Sasuke replies, content with the attention she's shown him. "I don't blame them."
If this happened three years ago, he might have had a different reaction. At the start of Sakura's professional soccer career Sasuke found himself playing the part of the jealous boyfriend far too often. He was not a stranger to her receiving male attention before and was always certain of her loyalty to him, but finding an increasing number of random men wearing her jersey at their games was hard for him to handle at first. Not to mention the fact that many of her male fans flirted with her every chance they got, and Sakura was honestly too kind—and oblivious, he noted—to reject their advances with any real gusto.
The advances only grew in number and fervor as time went on, especially when she became part of the starting line-up at the young age of twenty-two. It was around that time that Sasuke decided once and for all that his jealousy was irrational. He would only become more and more frustrated as time went on, after all, and in reality—underneath all his possessive instincts—he was proud of the attention she was receiving. Sakura was the hardest working person he knew and she deserved to be showered with endless support more than anyone. He wouldn't let his jealousy take that away from her.
And besides, Sasuke thinks, eyes never leaving her as she continues warming up, he's the one whose arms she falls asleep in every night. He's the one she's loved since they were kids, the one who's been by her side through thick and thin.
These men can cheer for her all they want—it'll never change the fact that Uchiha Sasuke is Haruno Sakura's biggest fan.
He's also, he thinks as he brushes his hand against the velvet box resting in his pants pocket, hopefully her soon-to-be fiance. He fully plans to propose to her after the game today, winning team be damned.
(He has the utmost faith in Japan's victory, though. He can feel it in his bones.)
For now, however, Sasuke makes himself comfortable in his chair. He orders himself a beer, makes casual conversation with the other proud men beside him, and waits for the game to start.
"Gather 'round, girls! Let's go!"
Any whispers that might've lingered in the group die down at Tenten's shout. Silent and serious, they group up around their team captain, watching her intently.
Tenten fixes them each with a level stare before finally breaking the tension by saying, "We have worked hard to be here, ladies. Each and every one of us has earned the right to be on this field time and time again."
There's a hushed agreement from the girls. Heads nod, smiles flash. Excitement is tangible in the air, energy vibrating between them.
"No matter the outcome of this game, know that I am proud of you." Tenten's voice rings with sincerity, loud and commanding. "This country is proud of you. We are the first Japanese team to make it to the World Cup finals, and that in itself is an incredible feat."
A few girls whoop at this, a few others clap. Several shift back and forth on their feet, needing some form of movement to channel their mixed nervousness and exhilaration into.
"This might very well be the most important game of our lives. I know what you're all capable of—what we as a team are capable of—so let's show the world who we are."
Then Tenten grins, hungry and eager. "Let's kick some ass, ladies. We've got a World Cup to win."
Tenten yells a hearty "Hands in!" over the sound of their cheers. They bring their hands in together, break, and after winning the coin toss they're spilling onto the field, thrumming with excitement.
Haruno Sakura allows herself to bask in the cheering of the crowd as she steps into position at the center mark. The sound fills her with adrenaline, sends fire coursing through her veins. The smell of turf wafts through her nostrils and the sun blazes overhead. Being on the field is a delicious feeling, one she doesn't think she'll ever get tired of.
Sakura positions the ball at her feet and turns to gaze at her teammates around her, almost in disbelief that they've made it this far. Ino's at her usual post as left forward, jumping from foot to foot to keep her blood flowing. As their striker, she's undeniably the quickest on the team—Sakura's never seen a sight more beautiful than Ino sprinting downfield, her long blonde hair flying behind her as she outruns their opponents.
"Don't screw up, Forehead!" Ino calls. The blonde grins evilly and winks, causing Sakura to laugh.
"Over my dead body, Ino-pig," Sakura growls back. Their familiar banter always soothes her nerves before a game. They've been best friends and teammates since they were six years old, and together they make one hell of an offensive duo.
Opposite Ino stands Sabaku no Temari, one of the older players with a feisty attitude. Sakura can say this because she's seen the woman whip her husband, Nara Shikamaru, into place more times than she can count.
Past the three ladies who make up the rest of Sakura's midfielders and at the very back of the four-man defensive team stands Hyuuga Hinata. She's quite possibly the sweetest human alive and an absolutely unbreakable wall on the field. Truly, the amount of goals Hinata has let past her is insanely low. As the sweeper she's the last line of defense before the goalie—her role is crucial to their team, and she never fails to impress Sakura with her ability to halt even the sneakiest, most talented forwards in their tracks.
Rounding up their team is Hyuuga Tenten—their resident goalie and also the team's oldest player at the ripe age of thirty-two. One of the most passionate players Sakura's ever seen, Tenten has earned her spot as their team captain through countless years of dedication and hard work. Her love for the sport shows in everything she does, and Sakura couldn't ask for a better woman to lead them.
The referee calls first for the opponent's goalie, then for Tenten, who throws up a hand to signal that she's ready.
And in the few split seconds before the game starts, Sakura looks into the crowd and finds her gaze locked with a pair of dark, heated eyes. Their owner sits in the very front row next to the field, gazing at her intensely. He has his arms crossed over his chest, legs spread, and Sakura feels any trace of doubt and anxiety left within her drain away as she takes him in.
Uchiha Sasuke is her lucky charm, her rock, and he damn well knows it. He is also without a doubt the man she plans to spend the rest of her life with. He's been to every single one of her games, believed in her when no one else did, hugged her while she cried and told her she was amazing even when she was at her lowest and wanted nothing more than to give up.
Sakura thinks of him, and she thinks of the game ahead of her, of the blood and sweat and tears that have led to this moment. With her team behind her and the love of her life supporting her in the crowd, she truly feels invincible.
She sees Sasuke's lips tilt into a small smile just as the ref brings the whistle to his mouth in the corner of her eye. Sasuke nods at her, a simple gesture that only she can read: you've got this, it says. You're going to do amazing. Believe in yourself. I love you.
Sakura can't restrain her answering smile as she nods back at him. She takes a deep breath, feeling the energy of the crowd around her, the passion of her teammates. The sun warms her from head to toe and she thinks that she's never been more ready for anything in her life.
Sakura shifts into position. The world seems to hold its breath for a moment, waiting—
Then finally the whistle is blown, and the game begins.
A/N: This was such a blast to write. Who can resist the idea of our favorite girls kicking ass on the field while their significant others support them from the sidelines? (Yes, that's Hyuuga Tenten for you; she's happily married to Neji in this story. And Ino is dating Sai, though their relationship isn't mentioned.)
I hope you enjoyed! :) As always, your reviews mean the world to me, and I'd love to hear what you thought.
P.S. This story isn't historically accurate at all as Japan actually won the FIFA Women's World Cup back in 2011. It is a work of fiction, through and through. Also: Sakura, Hinata, and Ino were the ones drafted from Tokyo University, just in case that comment was a little too vague.