sum. SakuraXNaruto SakuraXSasuke

a/n: sorry for the delay!!




Kakashi sighed, pinching the bridge of his nose with his thumb and index finger, he tilted his head back. Sakura pursed her lips, while furrowing her brows. The posture was unfamiliar to her and the rest of the cast, could Kakashi really ever be…tired of drama?

"Just…take five everyone. No leaving the theater though!" he called.

Sakura sat on the edge of the stage, glancing at the door she looked back at Kakashi. He was beginning to worry her, he was her favorite teacher and it bothered her to see him perplexed. It made her nervous for the play…and other things.

Pushing off the edge, Sakura walked over to Kakashi. His head was still tilted back, reclining himself on his chair with his eye, or rather the only visible eye, closed. Sakura leaned over and tapped his forehead with her forefinger.

"Kakashi-sensei…" she mused. When he opened his eye, she smiled at him. "What's wrong?" she asked.

He sighed loudly, setting his chair down, he sat up straight. Running his hand through his sliver hair than running his hands to the side of his head. "We perform in a matter of days…and now my masterpiece is ruined…"

Sakura shook her head, "No…! It's…umm." she glanced at the stage to the cast that sat around, waiting for the five minutes to be done.

Kakashi chuckled, "It's bad." he finished, "Seriously, if this cast wasn't so promising and you three weren't in this play…I would have dropped this years play…" he stared over Sakura's shoulder and than back at Sakura.

"I just don't understand the sudden change in the Principal. He, himself, passed the play!" he muttered. "He's never been so uptight…"

Sakura shifted her eyes to the table, "I'm wondering the same thing…" she murmured.

Kakashi smiled wearily, "But we're going to have to just get on with it…be resilient through this injustice…" he glanced over his shoulder, "Hopefully they have cooled down if they haven't killed each other…"

Sakura furrowed her brow at the comment and Kakashi apologized. He brought his arms up, resting his chin on his hands. "You can go get them. Please, we have to go through their scene anyway…"

Sakura nodded, "It'll be okay, Kakashi. You'll see." she offered him a smile and he smiled half heartedly back.

"Mm. Yeah." he answered.

Sakura laughed softly and jogged over to the double doors, her hands rested on the metal push bar. Just as she was about to push the door open, she rested her ear against the door. She hoped that they weren't fighting or yelling at each other.

She could hear talking, but it didn't sound angry…or a conversation between two people. Slowly, she propped the door open. The talking became slightly easier to hear, she held her breath as she recognized the voice. It was hard not to…

Orochimaru smirked, "No, more like…a debt."

Sasuke sneered, "Get on with it, Orochimaru." he gritted.

Orochimaru's face dead panned, which shocked Sasuke and Naruto. His stare turned cold as he spoke again, "I know we're enemies and there's nothing more than wanting to trash you and your gang. But, you haven't heard the recent chat, have you?" he asked, "Rumble's the word and…we need your help."

Naruto glared, "Is this some trick?" he asked.

Kabuto glared back, "Don't be stupid, Uzumaki." he crooned, "Why would we joke? Don't you think it's serious if we actually consider asking for help from our enemy?"

Sasuke furrowed his brow, "Rumble?" he echoed, "Against…?"

Orochimaru smirked, "Rivals. Much bigger than our trivial school rivalry." he sighed, "Rumble over territorial differences. Us against the Akatsuki. Give or take, rumble that decides it all."

Naruto's eyes widened and he side glanced at Sasuke. Sasuke tensed at the rival gang, of course the only thought that reverberated in his mind was vengeful. His thoughts began to swirl around the thought of chasing his brother away…after all the only reason his brother ever stayed in town was because of the gang he was in.

He followed that gang anywhere and everywhere. Gaining recognition everywhere they tread, but always returning to the place where they originated. To the place they thought they owned…this rumble could be everything for Sasuke.

His fists clenched, Naruto could tell this rumble meant a lot to him…and wasn't it in the unspoken oath that their pack/gang was before anything and anyone? It did pain Naruto to put Sakura aside like that…no matter how sure his feelings for her were, he would help Sasuke.

Bros before whores. That had been their spoken blood written oath…

Naruto winced slightly at the quote, Sakura was anything but. Sasuke caught the look of loyalty in Naruto's eyes. Their own rivalry automatically put aside, he knew as much as Naruto that this fight would determine everything. But it also meant many possibilities…like the one if they'd come out alive.

Than there was Sakura, who, (though he'd never admit it aloud) was always on his mind. She had been the reason behind his change of course. The reason why he didn't bother with his brother anymore or the shady business of being leader of a pointless gang.

Guilt rose inside of him as he thought of going back just for a rumble. But, if it meant going against his brother to chase him away…could he really turn it down? Casting another glance at Naruto, he fixed his gaze at Orochimaru and Kabuto.

"Your answer?" asked Orochimaru with a raised eyebrow, Kabuto stared impassively, waiting for their response.

Sasuke took a step forward and gave a curt nod, "Count us in." he extended his hand towards Orochimaru's, Orochimaru glanced down at his hand. Spinning on his heel, he shrugged indifferently. Smirking over his shoulder at them both.

"Great. The day of the rumble is exactly in one week." he answered. Sasuke and Naruto's eyes widened, they exchanged looks.

Kabuto smirked, "Problem?" he asked with a hint of amusement.

Sasuke narrowed his eyes, "No." he answered curtly.

Orochimaru's face cracked into a sly grin, "Glad to see you two come back to your senses." With a chortle, he left them, Kabuto following him and Sasuke's hand hanging in the air. Slowly, it dropped back to his side…had he really expected a returned gesture? He shook his head softly, no, not really.

Naruto sneered at their backs. He hadn't liked the way Orochimaru said they returned to their senses…neither did Sasuke.

Sakura felt sick to her stomach. The feeling was like pure weight dropping on her shoulders, had she heard correctly? Orochimaru and Kabuto practically asking for a favor…and than Sasuke and Naruto agreeing? Her heart seemed to have stopped it's beating, she really couldn't feel it pound in her chest.

And the rumble in a week? Were they just going to not show up to the performance? Or were they going to just drop out? She ran a hand through her hair, slowly in taking air.

Tears seemed to prickle the corner of her eyes. A rumble? She's heard of those before, sure it was a pretty outdated word in her mind, slang and known mostly in the streets, but it still held it's meaning. A street fight, often to the death…

And they had agreed.

She hung her head, pushing back the tears that formed behind her eyelids. What could she do to stop them? She felt like she betrayed them already but listening in on a conversation she wasn't suppose to. And the fight and anger between them? Her fault…

Sakura felt her hands begin to tremble softly at her sides, slowly she gathered herself together. Kakashi was waiting, as was the cast…but the worries didn't cease the constant nag at her mind.

Sasuke faintly heard a noise that dragged him back to reality. His attention turned to the auditorium doors were cracked the slightest bit, why hadn't he heard it before. Signaling Naruto, he walked over to the doors. Had someone propped them open as a sign to tell them to go back inside?

Pulling the door open, he heard Sakura yelp as she was pulled with it. Her hand still latched onto the push bar. Her arm lashed out to her face, wiping anything she didn't want to show them. She smiled at them, acting as if she heard nothing…though she was sure it wasn't very convincing.

"Uh, hey." she greeted, "Kakashi wants you guys back."

Sasuke smirked, "Right. We were just about to head inside." Naruto gave a nod, smiling brightly at Sakura.

"Thanks." he murmured.

Sakura gave a soft nod, glancing at the ground. Sasuke studied her for a bit, how long had that door been propped open? How long had she been standing behind that door? Naruto eyed her, wondering why she had averted her gaze suddenly. The air grew tense and it made him shiver slightly.

Moments like that were rare around the three of them…Naruto smirked, putting his hands to his head he began to slowly walk back in the auditorium. As he walked past Sakura, he tucked his finger under her chin and raised her head to look at them.

"Come on." he smiled and Sakura gave him a warm smile back.

Sasuke rested his hand on her shoulder. Sakura blushed lightly and walked in after the two of them. Even though they calmed her nerves, staring at them walking further away from her, she began to slowly worry again.

Sakura stared at the small calendar she made. She sighed, "Well, Naruto. Looks like today is the last day of my tutoring."

Naruto slumped, "Really?" he sulked, "You mean next is-"

Sakura smiled, nodding. "Yeah-huh. Your mid-term."

Naruto groaned loudly, throwing his head back. "I don't know if I'm ready…" he uttered followed by a sigh.

Sakura laughed softly, Naruto's heart swelling at the mere sound of it. "Sure you can, after all, you have Sakura Haruno tutoring you!" she winked, causing him to blush. Naruto quickly covered it up by laughing along with her.

"Right, but your getting the honor of tutoring Naruto Uzumaki." his fingers twitched, but he followed through his action. Bring his hand up, he ran his hand through her hair. Sakura found herself leaning into the touch, Naruto smirked and traced the side of her face with his index finger. Sakura closed her eyes, her thoughts jumped back to the rumble. What if this was the last time she'd ever get to offer him her help?

Or the last time she'd get to come to his house? She couldn't bare the thought of losing him or Sasuke. But what could she say? Sakura couldn't just plain out tell them she had been listening to their conversation…could she?

When she opened her eyes, she found that Naruto was mere inches away from her face. His eyes were closed too and his lips slightly parted, but this time, Sakura didn't pull back or reel away. Only one thought came to her mind, "This could be the only time…"

Slowly, she began to lean forward as well, closing her eyes. "Naruto."

Sakura pulled back suddenly and quickly before Sasuke entered the room. Naruto slowly reeled back, catching Sakura's blush and mentally cursing Sasuke on his timing. He almost did it too…almost. Sasuke merely shrugged, but smirked at Sakura.

"So how's it looking?" he asked.

Sakura smiled, "Oh, um, good! I think he'll pass his mid-term."

Naruto rolled his eyes, "Can we not talk about mid-term…" he murmured.

Sakura laughed softly again, "You'll do good." she patted his arm.

Naruto straightened up, "Hmm." he glared at Sasuke, "Can you leave so we can study?" he gritted, trying to convey his message of making him leave.

Sasuke pretended to think, "Hn." he shrugged, leaning against the door frame. Naruto rolled his eyes at him but Sakura laughed again. She began to gather her things when she checked the clock.

"That's alright, I have to go anyway." she stated as she put her books back in her backpack.

Naruto stood up and walked her to the door, Sasuke following. She smiled and waved at them before walking down the three steps. Sakura glanced over her shoulder at them before walking off with a sadden look across her face.

Sasuke furrowed his brow, catching only a glimpse. Naruto sighed, shutting the door he sighed. "Jerk." he hissed to Sasuke. Sasuke shrugged, choosing to ignore him. It was sort of like old times, but there was that awkward silence again.

Sasuke closed his eyes, "You don't have to feel obliged to help with this rumble, Naruto." he finally told him.

Naruto's eyes widened, "Uchiha, we may be rivals for a girl's love…but not when it comes to watch each other's back. I'll be there, so don't try to talk me out of it…you'll be wasting your breath." Naruto frowned lightly, "But what about the play?" he whispered, almost mutely.

Sasuke glanced away, he didn't know. "Dunno." he answered honestly, "Hurry with the rumble, rush back…you can still back down. Take the lead…guarantee to live another day."

Naruto rolled his eyes, "Shut up." he sighed, "I'm not backing down."

Sasuke smirked, "Hn. Suit yourself…but we may not make it back alive…your aware of that."

Naruto shrugged, "Yeah." he glanced at Sasuke, balling his fist up, he extended his arm out to his. Sasuke rolled his eyes but lifted his arm, balling his own fist up, he tapped his fist to his.

The week passed by slowly. School was slow and uninteresting, no school rivalry…which pleased a few…but angered the rest. Orochimaru and Sasuke's gang had made a pact not to get in each other's ways until after the rumble.

Sakura seemed to worry more through each day. She yearned to just tell them not to go…but could she face the fact that she betrayed their trust? And did she really have a say in it? It was something that only Naruto and Sasuke could truly understand.

They must have had a reason if they agreed to side with their enemy to defeat a bigger enemy. Their behavior seemed odd to Sakura. They didn't talk much, as if they had too much on their minds…which Sakura guessed they did. They even hardly talked to her, just walked by her, sat by her, hung by her.

That rare awkward silence seemed to be making its self a normal occurrence. Sasuke wanted nothing more than to ask Sakura if she knew…something nagged at him that she knew…but he wanted to tell her. But he didn't want her to worry or get herself involved.

All the while, Naruto debated to just yell during the awkward silence. If anything, silences were not something he liked. He just wanted to yell that they were planning on going to a rumble. Keeping a secret from Sakura was hurting him…and he swore he could read the pain in her eyes. Like she knew…which, he didn't doubt.

Than to top that week, there was mid-terms to study for. Wednesday through Friday they had mid-terms for half the normal school day. Getting released around noon. Naruto and Sasuke didn't seem to fret over the exams, they seemed to careless, but seemed confident. Sakura couldn't help but stress a little, she studied all her notes and crammed before each exam. She felt confident after she took the exam…

The play practice droned on as well, every day Kakashi arrived on time but with listless energy. It seemed to throw everyone's balance off…but it didn't get mentioned by Kakashi during the after practice speech. Sakura silently watched Sasuke and Naruto, wondering what they were going to do for opening night.

The dress rehearsal ran a littler later than most practices, but Kakashi seemed a little more pumped than his normal behavior that week. Clapping his hands together, he called everyone to a halt and over for his speech.

"Now, I know mid-terms have already started…and along with that whole pressure this play is up there. It wasn't my doing to plan the play during mid-terms…so sorry." he clasped his hands together, "And I appreciate you all who have made the time to come here, even during mid-terms. Thank you. So tomorrow is the big day, all our hard work is being performed tomorrow. We are a great cast, never seen a more promising group…" he sighed, "We are indeed sold out…as well, we are only doing one show this year."

He smiled, "So, I will see you all tomorrow. Rest up, practice, arrive on time!" he laughed, "Don't take my example!"

The cast laughed and slowly began to disperse. Kakashi's face faltered, going impassive. His eyes landed on Sasuke, than Naruto and finally on Sakura. With a small smile, he called out to her. Sakura glanced at him, smiling she walked over to him.

"S'up, Kakashi?" she asked.

"Yo." he greeted, "How have you been?" he asked.

Sakura shrugged, "Okay." she noticed his stare and she quickly glanced over her shoulder at Sasuke and Naruto and than back at him. "Oh, fine, Kakashi. Really. Why?"

He shrugged, "Well, Sakura, I may be a teacher…but I'm not blind." he said with a smirk. "Are they planning on ditching?"

Sakura tensed, how had he managed to guess? He began to laugh, "What am I thinking…" he murmured, "I guess I'm more nervous for this play than you all…" he ruffled Sakura's hair, "Well, I'll see you than. Make sure to rest up, okay?" His gaze shifted to the guys before going back to Sakura with a smile.

Sakura's shoulders slumped, "Thanks." she mused.

Sasuke stretched, "Kakashi knows." he murmured once they arrived home. "Sakura too."

Naruto glared, "Do not." he countered, "How do you know?"

Sasuke shrugged, "It's obvious." he murmured, "Have you seen the way he looks at us. As if waiting for us to tell him that we won't show…"

Naruto rolled his eyes, "Whatever. It's Kakashi, anything could be going on in that skull…"

Naruto suddenly went silent, after a moment or so he asked, "And Sakura? How does she know?"

Sasuke stared at the floorboards, suddenly thinking that they need some cleaning…or at least new floorboards. "Her attitude." he murmured, "Her eyes…it says it all."

Naruto nodded softly, "Yeah…like she wants us to tell her…but afraid of what she'll do when or if we do…Should we tell her?"

Sasuke shook his head, "No. It'll worry her, what good would that do?" he sighed, "You can still back down…" he added.

Naruto just shrugged, "Shut up."

Kabuto smirked, turning away from the gathered gangs. Lifting his hand, he dismissed them all. Orochimaru snickered quietly as Kabuto walked over to him.

"How'd it go?" he asked.

"Like planned." answered Kabuto with ease, "Just like Uzumaki and Uchiha, they all agreed with minimal disagreements."

Orochimaru sighed, "Did you tell anyone of the plan?" he asked, his eyes seemed to glow with the thought of it.

Kabuto raised his eyebrows, pushing his glasses further up his nose, "Nay." he answered curtly, "Our gang is the only ones aware of the double crossing."

Orochimaru folded his hands, "Hmm." he mused, "Smart…"

Kabuto sighed, "Will this work?" he asked, "What if we lose more than expected with this rumble against the Akatsuki?"

Orochimaru's smirk fell, but Kabuto eased forward, "They hate you, they'll do anything to kill you."

Orochimaru seethed angrily, pushing Kabuto, "Shut up. Do you question me?" he asked, "If you do, why don't you just go join them?"

Kabuto bit his tongue, "I'm sorry I questioned you." he managed to say. Orochimaru shrugged, grinning like mad once again.

Sakura bit her lip, where was Naruto? Glancing around the classroom, she looked up at the clock. Shaking her head, she bit the tip of her pencil. The geometry exam was about to start and Naruto was nowhere to be seen. He was never this late…

Her thoughts jumped to what the day was. Closing her eyes, she frowned. They were going to skip the whole day? Running a hand through her hair, she put her head in the palm of her hands.


Sakura lifted her head, looking next to her, she smiled. "Naruto, you made it!"

He grinned, "Yeah, I didn't think I would make it!"

Sakura glanced at the desk, biting her lip, "Uh, why were you late, Naruto?" she asked, "You and Sasuke…"

Naruto sighed, "It's complicated…a morning work out gone to over time…" he laughed but Sakura only furrowed her brow. Before she could ask, the teacher entered the classroom and began to explain the exam rules.

Sasuke's hand trembled, slowly he reached into his pocket but bit his tongue and withdrew his hand. Controlling his shaking. He'd quit cold turkey for Sakura…and since he quit his smoking, he didn't have a stress or care in the world.

Until today. It was an unusual sight to see an Uchiha get worked up…his hand clenched and than unclenched. How much longer was Shikamaru and the others going to take? Glancing up at the building's clock, he grunted softly. He couldn't even enjoy the weather.

Hearing the doors open, he glanced over. Seeing Shikamaru and the others following him. He mentally grimaced as Shikamaru had a lit cigarette dangling lazily from his mouth. He slouched over to Sasuke, that same demeanor he'd grown use to. His onyx eyes flickered over the others, Kiba, Shino, Choji, and Neji. He was slightly shocked to see them, but he didn't press the subject of their loyalties.

Usually, his gang was mostly the three of them. Uchiha, Uzumaki, and Nara. Nara was the one who had connections with the others, Sasuke and Naruto rarely talked with them, but knew that they were on their side and wouldn't be swayed by any others. Shikamaru glanced over his shoulder, he must of guessed what he was thinking for he shook a cancer stick from the box and handed him one.

"Don't deny it. Just take one." he murmured.

Sasuke glared at the cigarette but took one. Quickly lighting it, he took a long drag just to calm his nerves before throwing it down and stomping it underneath her foot. Exhaling, he glanced at his gang to notice them staring at him with an inquiring gaze.

He glared, "What?" he barked, his nerves acting out again.

Shikamaru rolled his eyes, "You wanted to talk with us. That's what." he stated with that bored tone.

Sasuke really felt out of it all. Was the fact that he felt guilty for not even telling Sakura? "Rumble tonight. Settles it among Akatsuki. In or not?" he asked bluntly.

Shikamaru smirked, glancing back over his shoulder to the others. They all had the same look on their face, a brooding smirk that told Sasuke they were in. Shikamaru looked back at Sasuke, "Count us in."

Sasuke smirked wearily, the tension somewhat leaving his body, "Like old times." he shook his head lightly.

"Hey Sakura."

The pink haired girl looked up. Her face broke into a soft smile, "Oh, hey Hinata." she greeted, glad to see her friend. "I forgot they combined both lunches…" she sighed. "So how's your exams been?"

Hinata smiled, "Oh…okay. You?" she asked.

Sakura gave a soft nod, "Okay." she glanced around the cafeteria before staring down at her food. Now that she really thought about it, her appetite was gone.

"Is the food bad?" asked Hinata, Sakura laughed softly.

"No…just not hungry I guess."

Hinata gave a soft nod of understanding. "Hey, isn't tonight your play?" she asked with a small smile.

Sakura winced but gave a nod, "Uh, yeah." Hinata furrowed her brow, reaching out she tapped Sakura's hand with her index finger. Sakura looked up, smiling softly. "Can I confide in you?" she murmured.

Hinata smiled before giving another nod, "Anything." she answered.

Sakura pursed her lips, debating on whether telling Hinata or not…but who else? Before she really realized it, Sakura confided in her what she knew about Sasuke and Naruto. The rumble, the rivalry, her worries about it. The whole thing she spilled to Hinata, five minutes later Sakura gave a huge sigh. Feeling much better that she let her worries just go.

Hinata was quiet, Orochimaru and Kabuto weren't trustful…but, what could she do? Her eyes shifted about the cafeteria, was this all part of Ino's plan? She furrowed her brow, if it was…it was time to put a stop to it. Sakura smiled, "Thanks for listening." whispered Sakura, "I'm going to go look for the guys."

Hinata gave a nod, "Alright." she watched Sakura leave before she stood up. Looking about the cafeteria, she spotted Ino talking animatedly with her cheerleaders. Gathering courage, she walked over there with her spine erect and shoulders back.

"Ino," she called curtly, "I need to speak with y-you." she stammered a little at the end but otherwise kept her voice leveled.

Ino raised an eyebrow, lolling her head to the side she rolled her eyes to her friends who giggled softly. "Fine." she answered, "I knew you'd come crawling back…"

Hinata took in a sudden breath of air, "I did not come her to ask to be a cheerleader again." she whispered angrily.

Ino glared at her sharply, eyes traveling over the cafeteria she noticed a few tables stopped talking to keep their eyes at them. Ino lifted her head, nose in the air as she led Hinata to the hallway. Once the door shut, she spun on her. Arms crossed as she glared at Hinata who in turn nervously shifted before gaining confidence again.

"I want you to stop your plan!" she managed to say, "Tell Orochimaru and Kabuto to knock it off!"

Ino rolled her eyes, "I have no idea what you're talking about…" she muttered but Hinata glared.

"Just do it!" she nearly shouted, Ino flinched slightly before catching herself.

Ino scoffed, "Oh your such a melodramatic girl…why should I?"

Hinata sighed, "Because they can die…do you realize that Ino?" she whispered, "Sasuke will…or Naruto."

Ino stood frozen for a moment before shrugging, "Fine, whatever. I don't see what I can do though…" she murmured.

Hinata straightened her back again, glancing to the side she quickly turned and left Ino alone. Ino stared sadly at her retreating back. She had really hoped that she came back crawling…

Ino's eyes searched the hallways after lunch. School was over for the day due to exams, but like she said, she was searching for Orochimaru or Kabuto. Ino really doubted that they'd be in school. Much to her surprise, they appeared down the hall…in their usual location.

Pursing her lips, she straightened up. Her posture telling that she was not afraid, but inside she was quivering. Walking up to them, she stopped in front of them, cocking her hip the side she tried to seem nonchalant.

"Orochimaru, Kabuto. I need to speak with you." she started out. Kabuto smirked as did Orochimaru. Kabuto shrugged, looking up and down the hall he returned his gaze back to her.

"No ones around, what's up?" he asked with a hint of amusement.

Ino shivered slightly, "Uh…well…" she pondered, had she seriously forgotten what she had to say?

Orochimaru chortled, "Yes, Miss. Yamanaka?"

Ino glared, finding the courage again, "I want you to stop this all." she told them sharply. She found that she sounded very commanding, no room for a rebuttal. She smirked at the way she sounded, pleased with herself.

The two did not seem impressed. Kabuto's smirk fell but it was Orochimaru's expression that made Ino nervous. His grin turned into a dead sly smirk, his eyes glittering with malice and delight of such a command from a girl with no power.

Kabuto glared, "And who are you to tell us what to do?" he asked, now stepping forward, slowly he began to circle her…much like a predator would do to it's pray. Ino couldn't seem to breath properly now, her feet not moving from underneath her. What had she gotten herself into now?

Orochimaru chuckled again, making Ino wince. "You see once you ask a favor to us, we don't back down until it's done…besides, this plan goes straight to our hearts." he snickered again, "You see, We can't win by forfeit. That's utterly pathetic. We are strength and need to prove it."

Kabuto stopped in front of Ino, his hand traveled to her shoulder, slowly he began to force her to step backwards as he pushed. "You should have known what you were getting yourself into." he murmured softly with a hated glaze in his eyes.

Finally, Ino's back met with the wall. Her fear escalated in her eyes. How stupid had she been? Why did she think it would work out? She had known full well what they were capable of…what the consequences of her actions would lead to. Yet she done it anyway…and for what?

So Sasuke would go bad again and still not return her love? For a girl she was jealous of to crash and burn? To force her old best friend to became what she wasn't? So she could continue to ignore the growing feelings for that one smoking rebellion that stole a kiss?

For once, everything seemed to crash down as she stared fearfully into Kabuto's eyes. It was like staring death in the face, but much more threatening. His hand traveled to her neck, slowly enclosing around her thin neck.

"How long I've wanted to do this." he murmured, "You've been a pest and to think…jealousy has ended you." his eyes hardened as he gave a squeeze. She yelped, pressing her back harder into the wall than necessary. She was hoping that by some miracle, she'd be granted another chance to see tomorrow…or sink into the wall.

She found no need to struggle, her eyes closed as she found it was hard to stare at his face for much longer. By sheer will power, she forced the tears to stay away…if she was to die, she'd do it proudly. Her fear shook her and she mentally scolded herself.

One minute she was slowly being deprived of air and the next she collapsed, coughing and rubbing her neck. Opening her eyes, her vision was hazy. Was she dead? No…she was breathing even if it was in rigid breaths she was breathing.

"Hey, get up."

Ino's vision doubled and hazed a few more times before it cleared. A blush crept to her face, Shikamaru stood over her. His hand lazily in front of him to help Ino up. Taking his hand, she blinked away tears from both the lack of air and the joy.

Shikamaru looked down the hall, it was empty now. Luckily he stayed at school until dismissed, even more lucky was the fact that all he had to do was show up to have them just go. He didn't have to raise a fist or say anything, the simple glare he gave them made them stop.

He guessed it was the agreement to stay mutual until after the rumble. He was glad that he didn't have to do anything, to be honest he was really not into the whole fighting thing. Though he would if he had to. He scoffed, once again pondering over things.

Why was it always him? "Your lucky." he told Ino after a long silence. "If I hadn't been walking down the hallway when I did you'd be-"

Ino having regained her breath, took hold of his shirt and pulled him down to her. Meeting his slightly parted and moving lips to hers. She silenced him with a kiss, wrapping her arms around his neck, she pressed herself to him. Clinging to him as she kissed him back…

Ino was fully aware of her actions, if anything, she was more earthbound than ever before. She realized all she'd done…yet, she still felt that her pride was too big to do much else except kiss Shikamaru. Something she'd wanted to do since he first kissed her. She wasn't so in love with Sasuke as she once thought…

Shikamaru's eyes widened in surprise. Hadn't he gotten scolded the last time he kissed her?

Shikamaru hated the element of surprise, but when it came like this, he didn't mind. He didn't argue much longer, since he found this might be the last time he'd ever get to kiss a girl. Or breath, for that matter. And he was attracted to the young loudmouth cheerleader, why?

He had no clue. To him, she was a rude, overdramatic, self-centered, loud mouth, lovesick blonde cheerleader, yet, he wouldn't ask for it any other way.

After the moment of surprise passed him, he leaned down, lazily kissing her back with gusto.

Kakashi clapped his hands, stopping all of the casts worries. All their attention was brought back to Kakashi who looked like he needed much rest…or something to take the stress that was obviously weighting down on his shoulders.

Glancing about, he mentally counted. His smile was sincere when he spotted the three main leads, all in costume and ready to go. Sakura was surprised as well, but when they showed up on her doorstep that evening, ready to go she smiled at them genuinely.

"Glad you all made it." he murmured before laughing, "Relax all. This is what you've all been working for. Show them…and relax." he added again. The cast nearly laughed at that, someone should be telling him that he needed to relax.

Sasuke glanced over at Naruto when the cast dispersed to hide back stage. He was surprised to see Naruto showed up in costume, as Naruto was about Sasuke. They hadn't really discussed how they were to escape before the performance began and show to the rumble.

But, they both felt that they needed to please Sakura. After a while, Sasuke gave a curt nod to Naruto and they both stared impassively at one another.

"We may return on time." he murmured, "At least for our parts." he sighed.

"May." echoed Naruto staring at the ground. Sasuke smirked softly, trying to liven up everything that was going on. And here Naruto thought his only problem for the day was his exam on Geometry! Naruto smirked, it'd been a long time since he felt pressured and excited at the same time.

It took a lot to have that kind of combination. "The sooner we leave, the sooner the fight gets on and the sooner we find out if we live or die." answered Sasuke bluntly. Naruto gave a nod, both began to walk behind stage with the others. Discreetly make their way to the exit in the far dark corner.

Sakura had been watching them, her heart began to slowly pound when she realized they were leaving. Of course, it was only a conclusion, but she had a faint feeling that she couldn't keep them there. She turned her walk into a jog, catching the exit door before it fully closed.

Propping it open with a fat stone, she ran after the two. The night was brisk, but the sky was clear. Not exactly dark but gaining darkness by the second. Reaching them, she tugged pathetically on Sasuke's shirt. Falling to her knees on the gravel, she winced at the slight pain that coursed through her body.

She hadn't realized that tears were pouring down her face until she looked up and noticed that his and Naruto's image were blurred by her salty tears. Frowning she shook her head at them, trying to find her voice that seemed to be stuck or lost elsewhere.

"N-no!" she croaked, her emerald eyes were huge and pleading. "Don't go!"

Sasuke put his hand to her head, slowly and regretfully, he softly pushed her away. Sakura looked shocked at him, Naruto couldn't bare the sight of Sakura groveling like that. What pained him more was the fact that she knew and was now shedding tears for them.

They caused her to cry.

Sasuke straightened up, "I'm sorry Sakura, but this doesn't concern you." he muttered, "This is our business." With that he gave a nod to Naruto and they both slowly began to walk away from her.

Sakura stared teary eyed after them, their figures soon began to look smaller until they were no longer in her sights. Her eyes widened and she realized that…that could have been her last chance to tell them, how she felt.

Her hands clutching on the ground, roughly scraping her finger tips, threatening to peel away her delicate skin. Her sobs collected in her chest and she trembled from head to toe. She wanted to scream in anger and yet wanted to just collapse and cry on the ground at her pathetic attempt.

If only she had one more chance…she thought sadly. One more chance to do that over, she would have told them much more than just sit there and stare as they walked away. Squeezing her eyes shut, she hunched over and yelled, "I love you!" as loud as her lungs and voice allowed her to.

After breathing rigidly for another five minutes, she slowly picked her body. It felt heavier than usual but she didn't bother asking why. Wiping her face continuously, she sauntered slowly back to the door that led to the theater.

"The show must go on." she thought bitterly.

a/n:Aww, don't hate me! Anyway, i hope you all enjoyed this extra long chappie...haha, can't guarentee the next one will be this long...but it's well on it's way. Promise. anyway, this story is well on it's way to wrapping up! Maybe two more chapters left...? We'll see. Thanks for reading, please Review! Mucho Gracias:D