Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto or any songs by musical artists used in this story.
Chapter Thirty-Four: There's A Class for This
"All Battle of the Bands participants, please report to the Music Building, Room 325 immediately," the loudspeaker rang. Sakura sat up, shocked in her seat, drool dripping from the edge of her mouth and falling onto her blazer sleeve. Everyone began laughing. She wiped her mouth, and Iruka-sensei, the Human Anatomy teacher, rolled his eyes, closed them, and nodded. Sakura quickly grabbed her books and dashed out of the room.
"Saku!" Naruto shouted from down the hall. Sakura turned around, and saw Naruto running out of the History classroom.
Sakura beckoned for him to run, and they ran down the hallway to pick up Sasuke from Music Theory, Shikamaru from Wood Shop, and Ino from Choir.
"What do you mean 'he's not here'?" Sakura exclaimed. The Music Theory teacher, who was Naruto's Anko-sensei, shrugged.
"He left class early," she said simply. Naruto groaned in protest, and he and Sakura ran down the hallway again.
The Wood Shop teacher, Zetsu-sensei, seemed wary to let Shikamaru out.
"I mean, he hasn't finished his carving yet," the white-painted side of the odd teacher's face grumbled. Sakura sighed and slapped her forehead.
"Sensei, please, Shikamaru is our manager," Naruto begged, on his knees. Zetsu rolled his eyes.
"Okay, okay," he grumbled. He turned back to the classroom, and beckoned for Shikamaru to leave the classroom. "Go ahead, Nara."
Shikamaru nodded, packed his school bag, and followed Naruto and Sakura out of the room.
"What about Ino? Where is she?" he asked, panting as he lagged behind them.
"We're about to pick her up from Choir," Naruto stated, "But there's a substitute, since Tsunade-sama's running the Battle of the Bands orientation," he added. "So it's going to be hard to convince the sub to let Ino out."
"Whatever," Sakura smirked, "I've got plans. The sub's pretty cool."
"How did you get me out of there?!" Ino said incredulously.
"Power of persuasion," Sakura said brightly. "Mizuiro-sensei's cool with me," she added, running down the hall with the group.
"Where's Sasu-kun?" she asked, almost running out of breath.
Sakura shrugged worriedly, but she didn't show it. Where was he?
"Uchiha-san," Tsunade called from the seats. Sasuke looked up from the wires he was fixing up, and jumped off the stage and bowed to the principal. She rolled her eyes. "No need to bow, boy," she smirked. Sasuke looked up.
"Yes, Tsunade-sama?" he asked. He looked disheveled, his hair messy, tie loose, and blazer hanging off of his now-thin frame.
"I'd really like to thank you for helping set this up," she smiled at him. Sasuke nodded.
"No problem, Tsunade-sama," he said.
"You should get some hard-earned rest tonight," she said thickly. "You look like you've just been run over by a herd of cows."
Sasuke laughed dryly at her comment. Tsunade and her crazy sense of humor. "I'll take you up on that offer after the Battle, Tsunade-sama," he smirked.
"Okay, if you insist…" Tsunade laughed, and she stood up and patted his shoulder. "Your mother would be proud."
Sasuke gave her an awkward smile and walked back to fix the wires.
"Dining Hall, right?" Ino said; panting as they finally reached their destination.
"Yeah," Sakura said, watching as a medium-sized group began to gather around the door. She noticed their fellow Konoha Academy band—Tenchikyou Bridge, which had Neji, Matsuri, and Gaara. Kankuro was oddly missing from the group. Maybe something had happened between the Suna siblings.
"Morning, Sakura-chan," Matsuri, an old friend of Gaara's exclaimed, waving brightly. She was a small girl with mousy brown hair.
"Good morning," Sakura said, stretching a little bit. "Morning, Gaara, Neji, Kiba, Rookie, Rukia," she said quickly.
"Mm," Gaara nodded curtly.
"Sakura-san," Neji bowed.
"You all ready for the Battle of the Bands?" Matsuri said brightly.
"Duh," Naruto interjected. Shikamaru rolled his eyes, and Ino giggled.
"Of course, Uzumaki-kun's always ready," Gaara said indignantly.
"You've got that right," Naruto smirked condescendingly. Sakura rolled her eyes and everyone began laughing.
"Let's just make sure the best band wins," Neji said quickly.
"I second that motion," Kiba added. "Morning, Saku," he added, walking to them. Rukia and Rookie followed behind him.
"Third," Rookie said brightly.
"Fourth," Rukia said strictly, "and can we all focus now? They're opening the doors."
Sakura, Ino, Shikamaru, and Naruto, and the whole Tenchikyou Bridge turned around as two school prefects opened the doors to the Dining Hall. The group of about twenty-eight students filed into the huge auditorium and sat at tables closest to the podium and the small stage.
Sakura fixed her tie and sat down next to Kiba and Naruto.
"Have you seen Sasuke?" she whispered to Kiba. Kiba shrugged.
"I don't know. I think I saw him earlier, but I don't think it was him," he whispered back as Tsunade, the headmistress, took her spot on the podium.
"Good morning, students and guests," she said in her loud, vibrato-like voice. Everyone in the room suddenly silenced.
"Morning, Tsunade-sama!" a kid shouted in the crowd. Everyone began laughing. Tsunade rolled her eyes.
"Lee-san, please don't interrupt me," she said, bemused. She turned back into 'serious mode,' and began to explain the details for the next day.
"According to the special schedule that Moegi-chan is passing out," she directed her pointing finger to the little girl who annoyed Naruto and Shikamaru that one day when Temari and Sakura fought, "You will see the times you must be here, the times each band will play, and the titles of all the songs. Each band will go, one-by-one, alternating between Konoha Public and the Konoha Academy.
"You all had the opportunity to try out in your own consecutive schools to join in this yearly event. I'd like to thank you and Principal Kakazu from KPH for participating. This brings a close bond to both of our schools, and the district. Now, I'd like to call up the student official who organized the majority of this up…Uchiha-san? Will you please come to the podium?"
Everyone's heads turned towards the back of the room, where Sasuke was standing, in his school uniform, thin, pale, and handsome. Sakura smiled weakly at him, and he returned it fully.
Everyone began to clap, and Sasuke took a deep breath and stood at the podium, smiling brightly.
Sakura looked around and saw Temari sulking in her seat.
"Well…ohayo gozaimasu," he said, amused. Everyone smiled in their seats. "I'm Uchiha Sasuke, Tsunade-sama's student official for the Battle of the Bands, which I really don't want to admit."
Everyone began laughing. Sakura giggled brightly.
"I'd like to thank you all for participating, and I'm here to go over the initial schedule for the competition finals tomorrow. Now if everyone would please take out their schedules and read along, please?"
He sounds like a teacher, Sakura sniggered in her head.
"Alright. At 0900, or nine o'clock AM, sharp, all bands have to be in the vicinity of the Romeo and Juliet Theater. All of you know you have to bring all necessary equipment, clothing, and the lyrics for your song. Briefing and 'good mornings,' plus some free breakfast from Mister Donut—"
With 'Mister Donut,' everyone already looked eager.
"—we'll be giving each band time to rehearse on the practice instruments on-stage," he continued explaining, above all the excited whispers in the room. "That being said, after the rehearsal, each band has a lunch break at 1300, or one o'clock PM. All the bands MUST be back by 3:00 PM. We have final remarks at that time, and then bands start getting ready at 4:00. Showtime is at 6:00 SHARP."
Sakura was not surprised by his happy-yet-cold tone. He was usually in his commanding tone when it came to things like this.
"How bossy," Sakura heard a Public High student she didn't know whisper to another. Sakura rolled her eyes and cut in.
"That's my boyfriend you're talking about," she winked. The kid stared at her in horror, and flipped around in her seat.
Naruto and Kiba sniggered.
"Alright…that's all I have to say right now," Sasuke said, shrugging. Tsunade nodded, and everyone clapped as Sasuke stood off of the podium. Tsunade took center-stage again, and everyone instantly fell silent.
"Alright. Everyone has their schedules?"
The group gave a collective sigh and nod.
"Okay, now, all of the music rooms are open; especially the sound rooms for ALL the bands to practice in. Konoha Academy students, you are exempted from your classes," Tsunade announced.
"YES!" Sakura cheered inwardly. Ino felt triumphant, and Naruto looked as if he were in heaven.
"But know you have to make up the work afterwards," the headmistress said sternly. There was a loud groan that then emitted in the room. "Come on, people, and don't be lazy."
Chairs were pushed back into their tables, and over the loud dragging noises and moving bodies, Sakura looked around for Sasuke, but he was already gone.
Where'd he go…?! She pouted in her head. Naruto noticed her confused expression.
"He's at the theater, getting ready for tomorrow," he explained, clapping a hand on her shoulder. "Now let's practice."
"Okay…" she sighed, and the Untitled Dreamers headed on their way to the Music Building, waving goodbye to Paralign (Kiba, Rookie, and Rukia, and their friend Takumi.).
"Nii-san…" Sasuke said warningly, a glare in his eyes as his older brother stood in front of the Romeo and Juliet Theater. "What the hell are you doing here? And you brought Hikari too?!"
"Oh no, he brought along Elmo," Hikari said sarcastically, laughing. She was wearing a black sports jacket, jeans, and a Hollister top.
"Sasuke, don't use that tone," Itachi laughed, punching Sasuke's shoulder slightly. Sasuke gave him an awkward smile.
"Sorry…" he mumbled. "I've got to go work."
"I know, but I know you have a few minutes on your hands," the elder Uchiha said brightly. "Come on, you don't want to talk to your nii-san?"
I have some reasons why. "Erh…I'm busy," Sasuke said, a little coldly. Itachi rolled his eyes.
"Not at the moment."
"You caught me."
"Ano…you guys talk, and I'll get me some water," Hikari said warily, walking off. Itachi sighed and folded his arms.
Once his fiancée was away, he went straight to the point. "Sasuke, I'm sorry. You look like shit right now."
Sasuke gave him a deep scowl and folded his arms in likeness of his nii-san. "I know I do, and what's it to you?"
"I'm your older brother, that's what," Itachi said exasperatedly, "Can't you just accept that?"
"I know you are, but being a brother has its limitations."
"True," Itachi said, bemused. Sasuke groveled at him.
"Why are you here?"
"To watch you and the other bands," Itachi said brightly.
"Are you SERIOUS?"
"You're singing this year too, that's why."
Then it was as if Itachi pulled a trigger and made him snap.
"No one even knows I can sing," Sasuke mumbled, now feeling slightly insecure, but then quickly added, "Except for Sakura-chan, you, Naruto, and Hikari, that is."
"You'll be fine," Itachi patted his shoulder. "Especially with Naruto on drums, and you'll be playing your bass too."
"I suck though," the smaller boy grumbled.
"No you don't."
"You're just saying that because you're my brother. Wait—aren't brothers supposed to bring each other down?"
"Stop being like this."
"Being like what, exactly?!"
"Being so annoying," Itachi playfully poked his forehead. Sasuke rubbed the spot gingerly and glared at his older brother.
"Come on, Itachi, I'm seventeen."
"And I'm twenty-two," Itachi smirked, "Doesn't mean I don't get to have some fun."
"Yeah, yeah…" Sasuke mumbled. "But…thanks for coming anyway, Itachi-nii-san."
"No problem, little otouto," Itachi smiled, and ruffled his hair. "Where's Sakura? Hikari and I have a surprise for her too."
"W-what?!" Sasuke exclaimed. He didn't expect this and gave Itachi a withering look. "Are you SERIOUS."
It was a statement, not a question.
"Yes," Itachi said breezily. He lifted up his two poking fingers, and Sasuke backed away, reacting. Itachi laughed. "It's custom-made for her."
"Ah. She's in the practice rooms right now with the rest of her band," Sasuke mumbled, pulling up the loose sleeve of his uniform's sweater vest, which was slipping off the long-sleeved, buttoned-down undershirt. Itachi raised an eyebrow at this.
"You okay? You look a bit peaky," Itachi said worriedly. Sasuke shrugged. "Have you gotten any sleep lately?"
"Been getting ready for tomorrow," Sasuke explained, tiredly yawning. Itachi rolled his eyes.
"Doing school preparations or your preparations?"
"Calm down, Sasuke, you'll be fine," Itachi patted his brother's back. "Don't kill yourself doing this," he added amusedly.
"Fine," Sasuke muttered. "I'll see you later," he said, starting to walk off, but then he paused, hesitated, and turned back around to hug his brother. Itachi took this unexpectedly, stiffened, then loosened and hugged his brother back tightly.
"Thanks," Sasuke said, his voice muffled. Itachi nodded, and ruffled his brother's hair.
"See? I do care," he said, poking Sasuke's forehead again. Sasuke rolled his eyes, smirked, and walked back off.
"Yeah, that'll sound good," Sakura said, taking out her red pen and scribbling on her notebook. She was turned to the lyrics for Fences, and began jotting down some extra notes.
"And how about bass?" Naruto said loudly.
"Base is super-important for the chorus line," Sakura said, the pen cap in her mouth. "But drums play alone first with vocals. That would sound better, and you strum a chord every few beats."
"Good idea," Naruto said, "But I want to play out more."
"I know, CHORUS LINE," Sakura said, a little frustrated. Naruto backed off a little and sighed.
"Nervous?" he said sympathetically. Sakura nodded weakly. "Oh GOD. You can't be serious."
"I swear, I'm going to screw up in front of hundreds of people," the pink-haired girl groaned. Ino stepped out from the drum set and gave her a condescending look, complete with the pose.
"Excuse me? Sakura, you have a fantastic voice. The odds of you screwing up are a zillion to zip."
"Wow, thanks," Sakura stated sarcastically.
There was a sudden knock on the door, and Sakura jumped, jittery. Naruto rolled his eyes and opened it.
There stood Uchiha Itachi, with Hikari behind him, waving.
"Morning, guys!" she said cheerily. She was holding a huge clothing bag, about Sakura's height.
"Hi there," Itachi said amusedly. "Sorry to interrupt this."
"Oh! Itachi-san!" Sakura exclaimed, putting down her pen and notebook. "What are you doing here?"
"Sasuke asked the same exact question," Itachi grimaced, but then smiled, "Watching the contest tomorrow, and we have a surprise for you, Miss Haruno."
Sakura stared at her boyfriend's older brother. "Are you SERIOUS?!"
"Ugh, you really sound like him," Itachi laughed. He gestured for Hikari to step forward with the garment bag.
"NANI?" Sakura exclaimed. "YOU GOT ME CLOTHES?"
"Well, practically, it's custom-made," Hikari explained. "I came up with the design, and Itachi added some flair."
"You made it?" Sakura said incredulously. Hikari nodded.
"Shut up, and let's look at it already!" Ino exclaimed.
"Calm down!" Naruto exclaimed as Hikari unzipped the bag.
Sakura's jaw dropped, and Ino pushed it back up, eyes wide.
In the bag, on a hanger, stood a beautiful, long and black cloak with red clouds outlined in white. It looked a little loose, but also fit around the waist. Sakura stared at it for a long time.
"THANK YOU SO MUCH!" Sakura tackled the two adults into the wall. Itachi laughed, and Hikari looked pleased.
"It was so not a problem," Hikari giggled. Sakura let go.
"Why, though?" she said, still caught by supreme surprise.
"A token of thanks," Itachi winked, and Sakura sat down and looked at the cloak admiringly. "For helping my brother get back to his old self."
Sakura understood what Itachi meant. She smiled and shrugged. "You know I…I love him," she said, giggling a little bit. "I bet that sounded cheesy."
"No, not at all," Itachi said brightly. "Naruto, I have a new Fender waiting for you in my car."
Naruto stared at him.
"Late Christmas present," Hikari said quickly before Naruto could ask. The blonde shot out of his chair and ran out the door. Everyone laughed, and Ino stood there, staring at the ceiling and twiddling her thumbs loudly.
"Ino, we didn't forget you," Hikari said loudly. Ino's head shot forward, and she raised an eyebrow.
"Oh, whatever do you mean?" the blonde said innocently. Everyone began to laugh. Hikari took out her backpack, and pulled out a sleek case.
"Are those…" Ino said, losing her voice halfway.
"Yep, brand new, Pearl-Japan drumsticks," Itachi whistled. "Polished and handcrafted delicately. Made for banging drums."
"…and they never break," Ino said, holding the case in her hand, opening it to reveal two white drumsticks, engraved with a single word: Pearl.
"Use those to your advantage," Itachi smiled. "Have fun, and break a leg tomorrow," he said, walking off.
Hikari gave Sakura and Ino friendly kisses on the cheek and hugs, and ran off behind her boyfriend.
Ino was holding her Pearl sticks in her hand lovingly. "I'll never wear these out…"
Naruto walked back into the room, carrying a huge guitar case. He looked almost zombie-like and was grinning broadly.
"It's black. And white. And Fender. And SO AWESOME!" he cheered.
"Did you thank them?" Sakura snorted. Naruto nodded.
"Hikari said she was going to put a restraining order on me if I didn't stop, and Itachi said he was going to get Hinata-chan to yell at me. I wonder how he knows about Hina-chan…"
"That TEME!" Naruto muttered. Sakura and Ino looked at each other and raised their eyebrows.
"So it's true then? You're going out with Hinata?!" Ino exclaimed, squealing. Naruto flushed a deep red.
"Shut up," he mumbled, biting his lip.
"How long now?" Sakura giggled. It was nice to see Naruto dating other girls.
"Two weeks-ish," he said, waving his hand a little bit in a 'so-so' fashion.
"That's AMAZING!" Ino screamed, glomping him tightly.
"Ino, stop, you're going to make me die of pain or something," Naruto said, trying to pull her off of him. Ino let go before he began to turn blue, and skipped back to her drum set excitedly.
Sakura put on the coat and twirled around. It was made of deep, black satin and the clouds blended in. "Whoa," she said, amazed. It was flow-like at the sleeves and bottom.
"Come on, let's practice!" Naruto squealed, unplugging his old guitar and plugging in his new one.
Sakura nodded eagerly, and picked up her guitar and stood at the microphone stand.
The Next Day
"Shut the fuck up, Ino, I can hear you," Sakura grumbled, putting her pillow over her head. Ino was already dressed in regular clothing.
"It's eight-fifteen already!" Ino said, throwing a plushie at the pink-haired girl's head. Sakura grabbed another pillow and threw it at her, and flipped over on the bed, staring at the ceiling, eagle-spread.
"Ugh…already?" she grumbled. Ino nodded excitedly.
Sakura turned around to face the ponytailed, short-haired blonde robotically, her eye twitching.
"Oh God, it's today…" Sakura exclaimed, jumping off the bed, and running into the bathroom.
Ino smirked, folded her arms, and went on the computer for a little bit.
Naruto walked on the school grounds outside the girl's dormitories, hands on head, grinning. The cherry blossoms were blooming again this time of year.
"Naruto-kun?" a quiet voice asked. Naruto spun around and grinned, turning a little red.
"H-Hinata-hime!" he stuttered. Hinata blushed a little bit, biting her lip.
"G-good morning," she said shyly. Naruto walked up to her and gave her a soft hug.
"How are you today?"
"Fine," she said brightly. "A-are you ready for tonight?"
"Hell yeah," he said, pumping his fist into the air. Hinata laughed. Naruto smiled and looked around him again at the gardens.
"The sakura are blooming," he pointed out. The purple-haired girl nodded.
"Yes, Captain Obvious," she blurted. Naruto arched an eyebrow at her, and began to snigger.
"You're funny," he smiled. Hinata blushed.
"I—I didn't mean to—"
"I was joking," he laughed, taking her hand. "Want to walk for a bit?"
"YO, NARUTO!" Ino's loud, boisterous voice boomed. Naruto sighed, grimaced, and turned around, letting go. Hinata giggled a little and walked with him towards their friends.
"You're chipper this morning," Naruto smirked. "Where's Shika-kun?"
"Already there," Sakura said, walking up to them. She was wearing a red t-shirt with capris and Vans.
"Ohayo to you too," Naruto said incredulously. Sakura was already carrying her guitar case.
"Where's your guitar?" she asked, pointing to his empty hands.
"I had it dropped off."
"Ah," Ino said. Sakura yawned.
"You ready?" Naruto grinned. Sakura gave him a withering look.
"Ugh…" she muttered. Hinata patted her shoulder comfortingly.
"Don't worry, you'll d-do f-fine," she mumbled confidently. Sakura nodded.
"What are we waiting for? Let's go already," Naruto groaned.
"Shut up, Naruto, we're waiting for the student car to come around!"
"I know, but PLEASE," Naruto went on his knees and folded his hands in prayer, "PLEASE KAMI, LET IT COME ALREADY!"
"Baka," Sakura and Ino said at the same time, shaking their heads and laughing. Hinata chuckled along with them.
Just then, a shiny, sleek black Nissan drove up to the front of the dormitories, and Sakura, Ino, and Naruto piled inside. But before Naruto headed inside, he walked up to Hinata, and kissed her on the cheek.
Hinata, almost zombie-like, brought her hand up to her cheek and flushed red as the car drove away. She waved until they turned a corner.
"That was so CUTE!" Ino exclaimed, squealing her head off as they drove. The chauffer put down the cover between the driver's seat and the back seats.
"Good job, Naruto," Sakura said, patting him on the back happily. Naruto was still flushing red and was smiling awkwardly.
"Yeah, yeah," he said, punching his friend on the shoulder gently. Sakura rolled her eyes and pushed him slightly. They all began to laugh loudly, music playing in the background.
"So Sasuke-kun and Shika-kun are already there?" Ino asked, checking her hair in the rearview mirror.
"Yeah," Naruto said, leaning back. "They're preparing for something, but I don't know what."
"Ahhh," Sakura said, drinking a bottle of water. They drove past a few more administrative buildings and class areas, and finally reached their destination.
The familiar sign read:
The Romeo and Juliet Theatre
She smiled as the car drove to the front entrance area, and there stood Tsunade-sama and Sasuke, looking tense but excited.
She couldn't help but let her heart beat at hyper-speed.
It was show time.
A Sad Note from the Author: ...three/two more chapters to go and it's over. D:. But don't worry, a sequel is in the works!!
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