written by: ohwhatsherface
- & -
It was a ritual of sorts between them.
They would eat lunch together, a mutual feeling of wonderment for the other, despite the fact that neither was familiar.
They were merely acquaintances, classmates, and now they were beginning to become close friends.
The first time they ate together, he was carrying a cup of instant ramen, eating it from the plastic package, dry (which she tried one time. She concluded that it tasted better cooked, but it was still okay when it was raw), while she ate the rice balls her mother made for her. The two of them sat on the picnic table that was under the cherry blossom tree. Sakura sat there because that was her favorite spot, and Naruto sat there because wherever his new friend wanted to eat, he wanted to as well.
"Why don't people want to eat lunch with you, Sakura-chan?" Naruto asked, munching on the noodles. "You're really likeable!"
Sakura smiled shyly at the blond boy, and then brushed some of her pink bangs over her eyes.
(Being complimented was scaring her slightly, despite the fact that the kind words were coming from one of the only people who tried to nice to her.)
"T—Thank you Naruto-chan…"
He stuck his tongue out with slight disgust at the nickname.
"Naruto-chan?" the six-year-old repeated with a frown on his face. "Why not something like 'Naruto-kun'?!"
His frown deepened when he felt a shift on the bench he sat on. Naruto turned his head to the side and saw his and Sakura's other classmate from the Academy, Sasuke Uchiha. Naruto bit his lip in frustration when Sakura's attention got diverted to the other boy, who was sitting at the very end of his bench, eating a tomato.
Naruto pointed at him accusingly and opened his mouth to shout at the Uchiha.
"H—Hi Sasuke-kun!" Sakura greeted with a blush on her face, while chewing on her lower lip.
Sasuke looked up from his tomato and nodded to the pink-haired girl. "Sakura-chan," he said. Sasuke looked at Naruto and his nose wrinkled. "Naruto-baka."
Naruto's eyes widened at the insult and he once again opened his mouth to yell at Sasuke, but was interrupted by the melodic and very rare sound of Sakura's laughter. The blond let out a sigh, deciding not to start a fight with Sasuke if he was someone capable of making Sakura laugh.
From what Naruto's (unknowingly and surprisingly) watchful eyes had gathered, Sakura was shy, reclusive (way too reclusive), and didn't smile much.
When he had first approached her to ask if she would let him sit with her under the cherry blossom tree, she had tensed up and began covering her face with her pink bangs. She was sitting down, so he was standing over her slightly when he extended his arm to try and shake her hand. The action caused her to let out a small scream and wrap her arms around herself protectively. It was like she thought that he was going to hit her.
He had gasped at her reaction and frowned in depression. She was just another person who didn't like him, wasn't she? He didn't understand why many people didn't like him. All he did understand was that no one wanted to be around him.
Naruto was once again rejected.
When he began to walk away from her, his hands in his pockets and his head bowed, Sakura stared at his retreating back with wide eyes. The next day, she approached him where he had been sitting on the swing, and asked if he would like to have lunch with her (since no one else would) to make up for assuming he wanted to hurt her.
"W—Why do you eat alone, Sasuke-kun?" Sakura asked slowly and quietly, looking at the boy with interest.
A look of frustration and annoyance crossed his features before Sasuke let out a sigh.
"The girls are so bothersome," he whined in his little boy voice. "They keep asking me on dates and trying to give me lunches! They're so annoying. I don't even like their food!" Sasuke smiled proudly (because he still had innocence and much to smile about). "I only like tomatoes and rice balls!" he declared, "And sometimes ramen."
Naruto perked up when the conversation became about food (specifically ramen).
"I like ramen too!" Naruto shouted joyously. The blond-haired child extended his (second) cup of the said food to Sasuke (momentarily forgetting that the Uchiha was his so-called rival) and smiled kindly. "Want some? It's not cooked, but it's still pretty good!"
Sasuke's eyes widened slightly, the boy surprised by Naruto's sudden generosity. "Thank you…" he said slowly, taking a bit from the cup and then eating it.
He was right. It was just as good.
Sakura pushed forward her translucent pink container of rice balls to Sasuke, her face bowed and covered by her bangs. After taking one (there were three, but he didn't want to be taking food from people since those were their lunches) Sasuke tried to meet her eyes (his mother said it was polite to look at someone when you were talking to them) but her face remained out of view and under the shield of her pink locks.
"Hm…" Sasuke shrugged. "Thank you, Sakura-chan."
She made a small squeaking noise and pulled back her lunch. Her head remained low as she ate the rest of her food.
Sasuke scrutinized the pair of friends with a curious face. He ate alone because he chose to be alone. He didn't have the same interests as boys that were his age, and the girls were kind of scary with the way they always complimented him. Sakura (and Naruto) were both really, really nice, in his opinion, so why did they keep only in each other's company? They were most certainly friendly enough, so why didn't they make any friends? Many of the other kids in their class were all playing games together in their little cliques and clubs, so why were two great people like Naruto and Sakura keeping away?
"Who do you to sit here alone?" Sasuke asked with childlike curiosity in his eyes and his head tilted slightly.
Both of them flinched.
Sasuke frowned, regretting his question, when he saw them both beginning to withdraw.
Slowly and reluctantly, Sakura raised her head and he was finally able to see her face when she put her hands under her bangs and lifted them. Her eyes squeezed shut when he looked at her closely and he noticed tears beginning to form in her eyes.
"E—Everyone makes fun of my forehead," she whispered. "It's really big."
"No one…" Naruto came next. He was staring at the wood of the table with a depressed and confused expression. "No one likes me," he elaborated. "I don't know why, but none of the other kids want to make friends with me. None of their parents want them to either…"
Sasuke's frown grew as they both told him their reasons for finding friendship in each other.
Those were the reasons why no one let the two of them join their little groups?!
He scowled at the stupidity of it all.
"Well we can make our own club!" Sasuke declared with innocence in his voice that would one day fleet. "We can be…"
He thought over it for a long two minutes.
"We can be The Rejects Club!" he said, proud of what he came to.
Sakura and Naruto both stared at him oddly. "B—But Sasuke-kun…" Sakura said slowly. "You're not a reject."
"Yeah you idiot!" Naruto shouted (probably because he didn't exactly appreciate being called a reject).
While Sasuke tried to think over a new name for their little 'club', and while Naruto growled in slight anger for the indirect insult, Sakura finally lifted her head to look at them both, for once in her life, not completely shying away.
"Why don't we just be friends?" Sakura suggested with a smile.
Both boys considered it.