Title: Rules of Popularity (1/2)
Genre: Humor/Romance
Pairing: SasuNaru
Rating: M, or somewhere in between of R and NC/17 (for adult themes, language and explicity of some sort)
Length: 2922
Summary: "...and of course he was the football team's quarterback. Who else would the captain of the cheerleading squad be going out with?"
A/N: 1) When I was attending classical dance classes, we didn't have enough males and thus had to cross-dress as boys for performances. And vice versa, as sometimes we had dances in which only girls could participate but boys wanted to dance as well. And no one ever dared to call them gay. 2) I did put in some details about American Football, that can be understood only by those, who know the game. If you don't, just read further, as they have no importance to the story, despite one minor, but important fact. Quarterbacks - are the smartest and coolest guys in the team. And whatever you think at first, this is YAOI.
Dedicated to trekiael, whose comments nearly make me cry. UNBETA-ED.

Rules of popularity

"...and of course he was the football team's quarterback. Who else would the captain of the cheerleading squad be going out with?"
Charles de Ling "The blue girl"

It was a sunny May morning, when Konoha's Salamanders faced Suna's Saber Hamsters in a so-called 'friendly match'. There wasn't an empty seat on the bleachers, but hardly one third of the people present cared for the game itself. Other than that, Konoha's field was overpopulated with two kinds of people of either of the universities – drooling girls, who came to watch popular boys play (though what was the pleasure if they couldn't even decipher one player from another rather than by number on their jersey as all of them were in helmets?) and drowning in their own saliva boys who dragged their asses out of beds at this early hour to see the cheerleaders perform.

Of course, Hyuuga Hinata was neither of the last two, though she didn't like the game much either. Well, of course, her cousin Neji was studying in Konoha University and she wished his team an easy victory, but, honestly, she couldn't find much interest in seemingly chaotic running on the field and was present only because after the match she had to accompany Neji for a visit to their grandparents.

In fact, Hinata wished she could nap through the game, - but it was just too loud in the stadium for this kind of activity. Though, she noticed having glanced down, at Konoha's bench, Nara Shikamaru, the quarterback for the defense (and one of Neji's friends) was sleeping just fine.

When the first half of the game was finally over, Hinata decided to go say 'hi' to Neji and inform him she'd be waiting at some nearby café, rather than in the stadium. Twenty more minutes of that that mind- and ears-torture? She'd rather sit somewhere else and quietly read a book.

"What are you doing here?" her attempt to bring the plan into life was stopped abruptly by one of Neji's teammates and Hinata cursed inwardly her carelessness. Couldn't she just pass Neji a note? Why did she have to try to slip onto the field?

"I-I need to talk to Neji-nii-san…" she stuttered pathetically, her voice dropping in volume and merely a whisper by the end of the sentence. The player, looking really scary in full American Football attire which had always reminded Hinata of medieval armor, with a proud "1" on his jersey, took off the helmet and frowned upon her.

"Nii-san? Are you his cousin, Hinata?"

"Y-yes. Nice to meet you!" she bowed, blood flushing to her cheeks.

But whatever further comment was interrupted by a squeal.

"Hinata-chan!" and a blonde disaster jumped onto Hinata, nearly crushing her to the ground. "What are you doing here? I thought you despised football!"

Hinata blushed again, at the comment being made in front of a football player, but could only smile. Oh, how she hated such awkward situations!

"Yamanaka. Is this a friend of yours?" the still present quarterback (and he could have been a quarterback only judging by his number) eyed them both coldly.

"It's Neji-san's little cousin! And she is my classmate as well!" Ino beamed. She was proud to be accepted into the cheerleading squad for Konoha University – despite the fact that their bore the same name and both were ruled by the same council, for a high schooler to get to cheer for the University team was nearly impossible. "Ne, Sasuke-kun, she can stay on the bench with us during the second half, right?"

The player, thus named Sasuke, threw them a final dark glare and turned around, waving his hand dismissively, and left.

"What was that?" asked Hinata, who always turned bolder when surrounded by friends. Ino lead her to the bench, where the cheerleaders were sitting.

"Oh, that's Uchiha Sasuke!" Ino's voice bore a hint of awe when she spoke of him. "He's the quarterback for the offence. He's a first-year, but already the ace of Salamanders! They've been watching him play in high school and proposed to enter the team at the first day of University. Oooh – and did you notice how attractive he is? I'm in love, that's for sure!" about the attractiveness – Hinata didn't have much to say, as the only impression said Uchiha Sasuke left could be described in one word – scary. Or in two – damn scary. Or in…

They reached the bench and Hinata waved to everyone. She knew some of the cheerleaders – Haruno Sakura, with her hair dyed pink, was also her classmate, while TenTen-nee-chan was a friend (a girl-friend, that is) of cousin Neji.

Ino briefly introduced everyone to Hinata, glancing at her watch. The break was going to end soon, and-

"Okay, everyone, onto the filed!" she heard a soft voice commanding, accompanied by a couple of claps. From behind her appeared yet another participant – and by the differences in the uniform Hinata could only assume that this unfamiliar person was the captain.

The girls got to their feet and scolded features before rushing forward, jumping and shaking their pompoms. The captain – a girl of average height with short blond hair, in red mini-skirt and tight long-sleeved jersey with proud "SALAMANDERS" on it – was undoubtedly the best dancer of them all. While Saber Hamsters' cheerleaders were famous for their costumes and sex appeal, Salamanders' cheering squad had always performed a high class dance, and all – thanks to the captain, for sure.

While not exactly beautiful and sexy, she was incredibly flexible and- well, Hinata could only envy watching the girl fearlessly make acrobatic tricks of the highest quality.

When they returned, fully satisfied, Hinata was still sitting on the bench, having completely forgotten about her desire to talk to Neji. Now it was too late, as the second half started.

"Ne, Hinata-chan, you don't know Naruto-chan, right?" Ino asked cheerfully.

"Cut out the "chan" part, Ino!" the captain spat, left eyebrow twitching. And then smiled to Hinata. "Uzumaki Naruto, nice to meet you!"

"Hyuuga Hinata. Nice to meet you too!" Hinata replied, now taking the chance to examine the blonde. She was rather pretty, but not too much and it strangely fit her. Although there was something about her – some incompleteness – that seemed wrong. While Hinata was scrutinizing Naruto, she took a bottle of water and drank it.

"Now, where are we going after the game?" she asked, not even bothering to watch the play as others were doing. Ino glanced at her briefly and shook her head.

"Too much homework, sorry." Sakura gave out a loud moan, signaling she was against the idea of spending the weekend studying but didn't have any choice. Naruto frowned and sighed. Curious, Hinata dared to ask.

"Are you a University student, Uzumaki-san?"

"Oh, enough with that! Just call me Naruto. And no, why? It's my last year in high school."

Hinata blinked. Konoha University (and High School as well, obviously) was prestigious and there were not many accepted into it; High School had only two third year classes and Hinata knew for a fact, that Naruto was in neither of them.

"Huh? Are you not studying in Konoha?"

"No, no such luck!" Naruto laughed softly. And, preventing further questions, explained. "That's my final year project. Dancing practice… all that stuff." She smiled.

They went on with the talk, not bothering to watch the game, when Naruto suddenly glanced at the field and started asking how much time was it left until the game was over.

The game was over just a couple of seconds ago. Salamanders won by 31 point to 14, the final touchdown scored by none other than Uchiha Sasuke himself.

"Come on, Naruto, work!" Sakura pushed Hinata's new friend off the bench motioning towards the field. And she ran forward, squealing loudly, as the cheerleaders on the bench jumped up, shaking pompoms violently and shouting some incoherent slogans.

All the while, Naruto ran up to Sasuke and jumped onto him, making Hinata's eyes bulge out. Was the girl crazy? Uchiha gave an impression of a person who'd kill if anyone dared to approach him.

But… no, he hugged Naruto back! And in a mere second he took his helmet off, threw it away and passionately kissed the blonde! Now Hinata knew for a fact that Naruto was insane. What girl in her right mind would want to date that cold and scary prick?

"What the hell?!" Sakura exclaimed, having noticed the two making out happily right in front of the whole stadium. "Had he lost his mind? I'm going to kill him!"

"Which one, that's the question," someone noticed and chuckled.

Then, while Hinata was trying to comprehend the last statement, Neji-nii-san came up.

"What the hell was that?!" Naruto shouted as they entered an empty classroom, the residence of the American Football club. He had dragged Sasuke from the field to the University building straight after the game, not even giving him a chance to change.

"Oh, come on, Naruto, you know the deal…" Sasuke said lazily, leaning against the wall and folding hands over his chest.

"That is! The deal," Naruto poked him in the chest, though the impact wasn't anyhow remarkable. "The deal was pretending to be your girl-friend. Pretending, Sasuke. And pretending doesn't include public deep-throating, that is!"

"Oh, come one, Naruto, what is it to you? Just one kiss. And I'm now free of my freaky stalkers for the rest of the month." Uchiha smiled creepily.

"The deal, Sasuke. If you break it in such a minor part, you may break it in another – like in the payment."


"That's it. If you only dare to do something like this again – I'll break the deal. And you can freely choose yourself a girlfriend out of your fan club."

Sasuke narrowed his eyes.

"Don't you dare blackmailing me, Uzumaki. Do it, and I'll tell everyone your little secret."

Naruto stared at him unbelievingly for a second, but then laughed.

"Come on, go ahead. You miss something, Sasuke – there's not a hint of a secret in this situation. Everyone knows – my squad knows, your teammates know… Whom else would you like to inform? The whole University? Sorry to remind, but I don't study here. Want to inform my school?" Naruto was getting calmer and calmer with each passing moment, words now slow and stingy, while Sasuke was as cold as ever, not a hint of emotions on his framed by black hair pale face. "But there's a remark in my personal file that my diploma project is cheerleading performance. Do you think anyone would mind?"

"Will they mind me being your boyfriend?" Sasuke said slowly, his inspecting glare boring into Naruto.

"Sorry to break it to you, but eighty percents of male dancers are gay." Which was complete bullshit, but did Uchiha need to know that? "And the rest aren't homophobes. So even if you present our deal as a true relationship – no one would care."

"Amazing monologue, Uzumaki but you fail to grasp something vital here. If you break the deal, there won't be any more school for you. It's your final year, am I right? Would be a pity to get thrown out of it in the middle of it…"

Satisfactory disappeared from Naruto's speedily paling face.

"As for the kiss – there were a lot of rumors about our relationship coming to an end. To overthrow them we needed to make a little show. Would you like to go out on Monday?"

Naruto had his gender questioned since early childhood.

It was understandable, though, in the period before he had reached six – who on this planet never said "What a cute girlie!" to a young mother and got a laughing "That's a boy!" in reply (it's worse when you say "What a serious son you've got!" and get an angry "She's my daughter!")?

But when he turned six and started attending school - along with choreography classes and was always paired for dances with boys, - that was supposed to be the first call. And those were the years when boys were completely overpopulated by girls (especially in classic dance classes).

And it was not like Naruto had had too feminine features – he had always been your average boy! Well, maybe his face was a bit rounder and hair softer… and eyes bigger… and … and… but anyway, that was just a matter of time and growth and no subject for mocking!.. probably.

That 'probably' got him stuck into same inter-gender state, and he though bearing all the prior accessories of a male, looked neither too effeminate nor too masculine to be at first glance subjected as one.

What lured him into the stupid deal with Uchiha were Japanese education system, which didn't include free high school, and his passion for dancing. When the government program for giving education for talented orphans was considered ineffective and Naruto stopped receiving donations, no part-time jobs could help him collect enough money to pay for the next trimester. And then that Mephistopheles of an Uchiha appeared and suggested paying for the most prestigious dance school in the region with future prospect of amazing work and, probably, leaving the country… 'Poor orphan' didn't even ask what he had to do before agreeing.

He had to pretend to be Sasuke's girlfriend. It's common sense, he had said, that a football player would be dating a cheerleader. Become a cheerleader for Konoha Salamanders and al your debts will be paid in time. All you have to do – be a female cheerleader.

No problem, that was Naruto's reply. Sasuke paid for the last trimester of his second year, while Naruto, in neutral but vaguely girlish outfit met with Sasuke under the scrutinizing stare of Big Bro… Uchiha's fangirls.

But there was not a word about kissing in their deal. Not a single word.

And Naruto didn't like how their deal was turned inside out.

In fact, he liked Sasuke – as a person. He was lonely even in the crowd of friends and admirers, and wherever he went he brought along an aura of nonexistent dark secrets that prevented others from getting close to him. His fangirls were a bunch of weirdos, flooding him with love letters and scaring every girl away… Naruto pitied him and found strange similarity between them…

That was already more than enough for him to fall in love. And – oh, yes – Sasuke was one of the most handsome people Naruto had ever met.

As a result, he refused to bring their fake relationship to something bigger than just holding hands, hugging and going out for coffee and cookies from time to time.

Had he been some pathetic stuttering girl, he might have continued to deny his feelings, or maybe even tried to enjoy that wretched excuse of love sublimation. Might have kept in mind false kisses before going to bed, took pleasure in memorized warmth of other's hand around his waist… But he was a stubborn boy, and wanted either all or nothing. He didn't want to go against his principles in life because of stupid hard-beating heart and fireworks in foolish head.

But as the Uchiha put it – he had only one way out now.

Konoha University and School did have a campus and dormitories, but as Sasuke, having reached eighteen, had his own car, he went home every day.

That Monday, the one after the fateful game with Suna, he entered the parking lot, looking as perfect as ever – spotless white shirt, dark-blue tie, black trousers and jacket with KU emblem on left pocket. And, as usual, followed by a bunch of psychotic fangirls.

Naruto, as it was set in advance, was waiting for him near his car… but not alone. At his side was a short – of the same eight as Naruto, that is – redhead, whom Sasuke, with raising amusement identified as Suna's lineman Gaara. It took him five seconds and three steps forward to remember that Gaara's elder sister was studying in the same school as Naruto. But still that didn't explain anything…



They greeted each other in unfriendly manner, bored-looking Naruto merely nodding in acknowledgement.

"What are you doing here?" Sasuke decided not to waste any time on waiting for an explanation and asked first.

"I came here to inform you, Uchiha Sasuke," Naruto stepped forward immediately. "that whatever relationship we had before is over now." With that he bowed to stunned Sasuke and walked away, Gaara trailing after him like a loyal puppy. Under his still misunderstanding gaze they reached campus gates and walked away.

Sasuke was left alone.

For Sabaku Gaara the whole situation looked utterly stupid.

He had known Naruto long enough to see that moron was most definitely in love with Uchiha. He was good at hiding it – oh, yes – there were no love-sick sighs at the mentioning of the other's name, no shining eyes at the sight of him… but there was a dozen of minor details that could have been understood by best friends only, and Gaara didn't miss any of them. And he saw through the idiot's reasoning. He could have agreed to it if only…

If only he hadn't seen as clearly that the Uchiha was in love as well. Who could not have fallen for Naruto when the latter unconsciously turned his cuteness on full blast (especially when supported by ultra-short cheerleader's skirt?)? But behaving the way he, with all the stupid excuses about some 'fan club', though existing but not nearly as dreadful as Sasuke presented…

Sabaku Gaara never thought of himself as of a cupid.

What we do for our friends…

'Big Brother' is how the spying systems of government are called in G.Orwell's novel "1984"

The second part will be tomorrow/the day after tomorrow, I promise!