Pairing(s): Sasuke/Hinata. Naruto/Sakura, maybe? Hmm...
Relevant notes: Movie star AU.
A/N: For the most part, I've kept all canon friendships/rivalries/storylines (such as Itachi's betrayal) but maybe not all in the same form. And this is a movie star AU, so expect scandals, relationships, bitter rivalries, explosions, sabotage, lies, secrets and maybe blackmail. Maybe.
There will be no bashing of any character. Sasuke/Hinata may take a while to work, but there'll be enough to keep you satisfied (Hopefully!). This story will probably be fairly long (Don't most movies take at least a year to film?) and hopefully I can keep chapters coming pretty constantly.
Chapter One: Persuasion
The cosy little café was quite possibly the most out-of-the-way shop along the entire street- currently holding a total of five patrons- but even then, there was a gentle murmur of surprise as Sakura entered. Ino rolled her eyes skyward, praying the immediate recognition wouldn't go straight to her friend's head.
'Over there,' Ino directed, steering Sakura to a corner table.
They placed their orders for coffee and hot chocolate- Sakura taking a moment to scrawl her name on a notebook for the waiter- and sat back.
'Okay,' Sakura finally said. 'What's going on? You don't often plan little trips like this without an ulterior motive.'
Ino played with a sugar packet, twirling it between her fingers. She met Sakura's gaze steadily, knowing that her friend would become suspicious by any lack of eye contact.
'I heard you were offered a big role recently.'
Sakura sighed heavily, as though she'd been expecting it.
'Not that I want it. It's an espionage film. Working title of 'Dead Drop,' she recited, her tone like that of a bored schoolgirl's. 'Written by Rock Lee and Maito Gai. Directed by Hatake Kakashi. Already hailed as the biggest movie in a decade.'
Ino's eyes widened at the mention of Hatake Kakashi, who'd already directed several blockbusters. She'd heard of the other details, but that one she'd apparently missed.
'Then what are you doing turning it down? Are you crazy?'
'If you'd read the script-'
'Not fully,' Sakura admitted, shifting her arm so their waiter could set down their drinks. She tossed him her trademark- a casual, flirty smile that never failed to send her male fans mad- and stifled a giggle at his reaction. 'But Ino, it's a spy movie. I don't do spy movies.'
'You've never tried.'
'I've never wanted to.'
Exasperated, Ino paused, tugging at her blonde hair. She attempted to recall the other points she'd planned to make.
'This would be a fantastic change for your career. You're being typecast, Sakura. Everyone sees you as only playing teenage roles. I think twenty-two is the perfect age for you to step out of that.'
Sakura took a sip of her coffee, all the while watching Ino warily.
'What's with your concerned mother hen act? Is there something you want?'
Fighting a guilty blush, Ino pretended to fan herself with her hand as though suddenly feeling overheated. She shook her head.
'I just want you to make the most of your opportunities,' she said sincerely, but unable to hold back another wave of guilt. She did have an ulterior motive.
The truth, despite Ino's reluctance to admit it, was that Sakura had gradually become a more talented actress than Ino would ever be. Ino knew that if Sakura heard about Nara Shikamaru's latest stage production, she would attempt to win a role simply to prove she could, and would no doubt be accepted. And the role she would audition for would most likely be the female lead- a part Ino had had her hopes set on for weeks.
'No. I'm not going to do it.'
Frustration rising, Ino couldn't help blurting out the one thing she'd sworn not to say. It was a last resort- a last, last, last, desperate resort- and it was low:
'Sasuke's got a role!'
Sakura visibly brightened at this new revelation. She stirred her coffee thoughtfully, and Ino couldn't help but marvel at the change in behaviour from that of several years ago. The absence of a scream of delight was definitely welcoming.
'Who told you that?' Sakura asked.
'I have contacts,' Ino replied truthfully, but hiding the fact that she didn't know if he'd accepted it. 'Apparently, Tsunade wants the "four biggest names in the movie industry-"' Ino made quotation marks with her fingers- 'and you and Sasuke are two of them.'
'Really? Who's the other two? Naruto, I suppose?'
'Who else?' Ino laughed. 'He's only dominating the action genre right now. And Hinata, of course.'
'Why? Naruto's the only one who's really suited to this type of movie.'
'The publicity, I guess.' Ino shrugged. 'Even if the movie turns out to be utter rubbish, there'd still be plenty of people willing to see it for you four.'
Sakura didn't even seem to be listening; she just gave a vague nod.
'The old gang back together again,' she murmured. 'I like that idea.'
There was a brief silence, broken only by the cheerful jingle signalling a new customer, who gasped out loud at the sight of the famous actress.
'Okay.' She looked up at Ino. 'You win. I'll do it.'
x . o . x . o . x . o . x
The shrill ringing pierced through Naruto's hazy sleep-induced fog, and he clumsily slapped his hand on his nightstand, searching for the alarm clock. Despite hitting the snooze button several times, the ringing continued.
He finally realised that he hadn't even set the alarm clock and that the noise was coming from his cell phone.
'Yeah?' he said, flipping it open.
'Naruto, it's Iruka! Listen, there's a major role coming up that you should look into.'
'What is it?' He clambered out of bed, sensing the enthusiasm in his long-time friend, mentor and agent. The kitchen was a short walk away in his comfortable apartment and he headed there for a quick foray into his fridge.
'It's a spy movie- perfect for you. Tsunade- you know, head of Sannin Productions- is making this one of the biggest films this decade! Maybe even this century!'
'There are four big parts, and she's trying to secure what she calls "today's biggest names" for them all. She didn't even bother with a casting director for these roles. You should be flattered... Naruto, are you listening?'
'Yeah, 'course I am. What else?'
'You're searching for ramen again, aren't you?'
Naruto laughed, fumbling in a cupboard.
'So who's the other three?'
'Hyuuga Hinata, remember her?'
'Sure,' Naruto said, the name conjuring up images of the quiet, somewhat shy, pretty girl he'd met back at the Academy. She'd gone on to star in several critically acclaimed drama films, but Naruto didn't have much to do with that crowd.
Naruto nearly dropped the phone.
'Sakura, doing one of these movies?'
'I'm not sure if she's been confirmed yet, but, yes, Sakura... You still have a crush on her, don't you?'
'There are some things I will never discuss with you, Iruka and that is one of them.'
Iruka's chuckle became oddly forced as Naruto pressed for a third name.
'The third person- well, uh- it's Sasuke.'
'That idiot?' Naruto really dropped the phone then. He grabbed for it, noting a thin scratch on the otherwise unharmed cell.
'Naruto? Did you just drop the phone?'
'Yeah, but it's okay,' he said dismissively. 'I don't get it, Iruka. Hinata, Sakura and Sasuke doing one of these movies? Am I dead? Or dreaming?'
'Still not confirmed,' Iruka reminded him patiently. 'And why are you calling Sasuke an idiot? You two have been friends since back at the Academy.'
'Doesn't change the fact that he's an idiot,' came the sullen mutter.
'So what do you think? I sent the script over a few days ago, but I know you haven't looked at it.'
'Uh, yeah, I've been busy,' Naruto said sheepishly, scratching his head absentmindedly.
'Okay, I'm in. I- Gotta go, Iruka, I just found the ramen!' he said gleefully, holding up a beloved package of the noodles.
'Naruto, movie stars shouldn't eat that stuff all the time. You can afford caviar and champagne, so why don't-'
The only answer was a click and steady beeping.
x . o . x . o . x . o . x
Hinata swung her niece onto the couch, smiling at the doe-eyed little girl as she pressed the phone closer to her ear.
'Yes, she's fine,' Hinata reported to her sister. 'And no, I still don't mind watching her.'
Hanabi laughed and Hinata heard the faint voices in the background die away as Hanabi presumedly left the boardroom.
'Okay, okay. I just thought you might have something to do today and this meeting came up so suddenly-'
'Really. It's fine.'
'Anyway, now that I've got you on the phone: What's this about some spy movie Tsunade wants you to do? Neji just mentioned it to me.'
Hinata crouched down to arrange a blanket over her niece, who'd stuck her thumb into her mouth and was already beginning to slumber. She brushed past the script of the movie in question as she reached out for the girl's stuffed toy.
'I think what you just said should tell you what my answer to an offer would be. A spy movie, Hanabi? Can you see me doing that?'
'No, not really,' Hanabi answered. 'But it would be fun, don't you think? Not like your other movies.'
A little stung, Hinata replied defensively.
'I liked shooting those movies. They were fun to me.'
'Of course. I'm sorry.' There was an awkward pause before Hanabi began again. 'Still, take a break from your serious work. Show the world what I know you can do- that you're capable of taking on any persona, including ridiculous, gun slinging spies.'
Hinata couldn't suppress a giggle at that.
'Me, a spy? Jumping off buildings, breaking into safes, seducing someone?'
'Ah, but just think of who you'd be seducing! Naruto, or maybe Sasuke?'
Hinata blushed a deep crimson at the thought, glad the only witness to her flaming cheeks was a four-year-old. Putting the moves on Naruto would make her so nervous she'd probably end up in a dead faint, and as for Sasuke... She hadn't seen him personally in a couple of years, but he still intimidated her so much the result would be... Well, probably a dead faint too.
'Just think about it, Hinata. I'm telling you, though, this is an opportunity you shouldn't pass by. It's a ridiculous concept, but it's guaranteed to give your name an even bigger boost and maybe even win you a few more fans of your other work.'
The conversation ended shortly after, but her sister's words hung over her. Hinata had worked hard to reach the position she was in now and a challenge of this magnitude would maybe silence those insecurities she still harboured- and those critics whose words never failed to leave her more doubtful of herself than ever.
x . o . x . o . x . o . x
The doorbell rang as Sasuke slammed his fist onto the boxing bag for what seemed to be the hundredth time that half hour. Growling at the interruption and ignoring the trickle of blood along his bruised hand, he left his personal gym to 'greet' his visitor.
'What?' he snapped irritably at the silver-haired man.
Kakashi raised an eyebrow at his obvious annoyance, then at the damaged hand. He pushed silently past his former student and stretched comfortably onto a leather chair.
'What do you want?'
Kakashi made no response but pulled his current reading material from his pocket- the fourth volume of what Sasuke liked to refer to as his 'Perversion Guides.'
'This is not a library. I suggest you get out before I make you get out.'
'You should get that seen to,' Kakashi finally said, gesturing to Sasuke's injury. 'Otherwise you'll end up with a thousand letters from girls asking to kiss the pain away.'
Sasuke smirked, almost involuntarily. He snatched up a roll of bandages he'd left earlier on the coffee table.
'And how would that be new?'
'It wouldn't. But you'll need to look pretty for the cameras soon.'
Bristling at the word 'pretty,' Sasuke dropped onto a chair opposite to the older man and glared at him.
'I already told you that there's no way in hell I'm signing up for that. My standards have never been that low.'
'You haven't heard? It's already the biggest production in a decade, the must-see of all films on the subject, the most exciting news for the movie industry in several years...'
'Filming hasn't even started yet,' Sasuke said in disbelief. 'How can anyone know that it's a must-see?'
'They don't. But I'm directing, so they know it'll be good.'
Sasuke could almost hear a smirk beneath Kakashi's quiet words, but he wasn't sure since the man's odd attire- a mask covering half the face- and his lowered head prevented any confirmation.
'Idiots. Exactly why I'm not doing it. It could be the worst movie in history and those morons will still lap it all up. I do serious films.'
'"Those idiots" are what keep you so highly respected.'
'What's your point?'
'It doesn't matter if the movie has you wearing a tutu. It's already so anticipated that it'll push your name even higher up among today's actors. This means more serious movie offers for you... and more funds for your search.'
Sasuke stiffened at that. The subject was not one often discussed between the two and he resented the fact that it was a good point.
'I take it you'll do it? Good.' Kakashi suddenly became matter-of-fact, shoving his book away. 'Be at the studios on Monday and make sure to read the script. Oh, and that hand- take care of it.'
With a cheerful wave, Kakashi left.
Sasuke clenched his throbbing hand into a fist.
x . o . x . o . x . o . x
'Tsunade, I just got a call from Kakashi. Uchiha Sasuke is in.'
'So that's all of them?'
'Yes, Haruno Sakura, Uzumaki Naruto and Hyuuga Hinata have all been confirmed. They'll be here on Monday.'
The blonde head of Sannin Productions smiled in satisfaction.
x . o . x . o . x . o . x
'All four major stars have been confirmed.'
'Really? I'm surprised the Uchiha agreed to it... It doesn't seem to be his type of movie.'
'He has other motives for accepting the job, I'm sure. The amount Tsunade has offered would certainly be tempting enough to draw him away from his preferred genres.'
'Indeed. Then I suppose we have no other choice...'
'Very well. Send out the word that all plans are to be in motion soon.'
A/N: So there's your major players: Sakura, Naruto, Hinata and Sasuke. I hope the last part isn't too confusing, but it's meant to be at least a little. Also, any suggestions for their characters' names?
If there's any pairing/triangle you'd like to see, tell me, 'cause they'll all work in this AU!