Disclaimer: I do not own the rights to Naruto or any of it's characters. They belong to Masashi Kishimoto.
"You know Ino…he's not a piece of meat. It's very rude to stare at someone when they are eating," Sakura spoke up finally, her tone obviously annoyed.
Ino, who had obviously been staring at Sasuke, blinked a few times, "Huh? Oh I…I wasn't staring forehead!" she huffed and turned her head away, her cheeks beginning to flare a scarlet red, "I was just…thinking about my studies is all!"
"Yeah right. And it snows in the summertime…" Sakura retorted sarcastically.
A very slight snort escaped the dark haired boy sitting next to Sakura, while on the other side of the table, a burst of laughter was heard from the other new guest.
"Oh man Ino, you were so totally owne-OOFF!"
Naruto was unfortunately cut off by Ino roughly elbowing him in the stomach, bits of ramen escaped his mouth due to the impact.
"N-Naruto-kun!" Hinata cried worriedly, handing him a napkin.
Ino huffed once again, "Don't waste your breath Hinata, that jerk had it coming to him," she said, crossing her arms tightly around her chest.
"S-So…unfair…Why didn't you hit the bastard too? He snorted! I heard him!" he said when he fully recovered, wiping the bits of ramen from his face.
"I have no idea what you are talking about dobe," Sasuke said in a stoic tone, eating his tomato slices as if nothing had happened.
Naruto wasn't about to back down that easily, instead, he pointed a finger accusingly at Sasuke, "You know damn well what I'm talking about teme!" His blue eyes narrowed, "You of all people cannot fool me!"
"Naruto will you sit down…" Sakura finally spoke up as she placed her bottle of water on the table, "Seriously if you keep causing a scene like this we're going to get in trouble."
The hyperactive blond blinked a few times, slowly dropping his head to his hand, "Yes Sakura-chan…" he muttered, a pout still very evident on his lips.
"Well I can honestly say that lunch hasn't been the same since these two became an addition to our table," Tenten, who had been silent up until then, spoke up.
It had been almost two weeks since Sasuke and Sakura actually made up, and in that time...Sakura had somehow managed to convince the otherwise unsociable boy to eat with them, Naruto, who simply had nothing better to do, decided to join them as well after a few days.
"I-I think it's nice that we have m-more people here now…" Hinata spoke up shyly, all the while twiddling with her fingers, her pale eyes focused right on her lap.
Sakura smiled slightly at the sight, it really wasn't often that Hinata had the opportunity to spend time with Naruto, considering Neji was a very overprotective cousin. It was honestly a good thing they had different lunch periods, otherwise there would be endless bickering between the older Hyuuga and the blond knucklehead.
She sighed slightly, 'You'd honestly think they'd learn to get along since they practically see each other every afternoon.'
Shikamaru had told her some stories…Anko-sensei definitely had her hands full with those two.
"So Sakura what are you plans for after school?" Ino asked, breaking her from her thoughts.
"Huh?"The pink haired girl looked up, "Oh uh…what did you say again?"
Ino gave her a look, she was not one that liked to repeat herself, "I asked…what are you doing after school?" she rolled her eyes, "Honestly…pay attention forehead! I don't talk for my own health."
Sakura placed a hand on her forehead, "Could have fooled me."
She didn't pay attention, "Uh…what am I doing after school?"
Ino grinned at that statement, "Your evening is booked as of now, you and I are going shopping!"
"…I didn't agree to that."
"Oh come on forehead! I've been stuck in the house for two weeks with nothing but my books to keep me company!" she put on her best pout face, "And you are saying you don't want to go shopping now that I, your wonderful best friend can do so?" she seemed appalled by the mere thought.
"Ino…I don't think you notice this…because you never do, but you make us shop for hours on end," Sakura shook her head, "Take Naruto, he'll be more than happy to go."
"What?" Naruto suddenly chimed in, "No! No way! Nu-uh! I am not going out shopping for girly clothes."
Ino pouted even more, "Sakura…pleeeeeeeeease?"
The pink haired girl's eyes narrowed slightly in annoyance, Ino always resorted to this, because it always worked on her.
"I just remember. You and I have practice this afternoon Sakura."
Sasuke who had been silent through most of the bickering nodded quietly, "Anko-sensei said she wanted you and I to come to the theatre when school was over."
He frowned then, "You don't remember?"
Naruto began to scratch his head, "I don't remember hearing about th-" he held in a yelp as he felt a something hard stomp on his foot, "D-Damn teme…" he muttered, rubbing the sore area.
It took Sakura a moment, but she saw Sasuke give her a very slight nod…was he honestly trying to help her out?
"O…O-Oh! Oh yeah…what do you know?" she laughed then, "Wow of all the things! Uh…maybe next time Ino. I seriously almost forgot about that."
Ino looked between the two of them, frowning deeply. Sasuke seemed to be spending a lot more time with Sakura lately, more so than he own best friend! Since when did Sasuke start hanging out with girls anyways? All they ever do is fawn over him…well…besides the four girls who sat at this table apparently. Though she will admit she used to at one point, but that was in the past.
"Fine fine," she waved her hand dismissively, "But next time forehead, you will have to go."
Her powder blue eyes than focused on Naruto, Tenten, and Hinata with a smirk,"You three will have to do."
"Wait how do I get dragged into th-"
"Naruto. Shut up," Tenten said, "Ino will force you. Believe me."
"But I had plans to go to Ichiraku after school and-"
"Tough luck. Those plans have been changed," Ino cut him off, her voice sickly sweet.
"Why…why do I always get dragged into these things?"
Hinata simply let out a soft sigh, her face growing even more red.
"You know she's going to eventually make me go with her next time right?" Sakura said as she met Sasuke outside the door of her classroom later in the afternoon.
The two had to go separate ways after lunch due to having different classes, instead she wound up walking to her next class with Naruto, who complained the entire time about how he would only be Ino's personal bag carrier. Needless to say he earned a punch to the arm to shut him up when they were about to enter their last class. It wouldn't be until after school that she would see Sasuke. Since they lived down the same road, it suddenly became a habit that they walk to and from school together. Something that Sasuke actually had started to do unconsciously.
Sasuke pushed himself off of the wall he was leaning against and looked over to her, "Well you looked like you didn't want to go at the time," he shrugged, "If I somehow misread your thoughts, it probably would have been a good idea to let me know instead of allowing me to waste my time," he said simply.
Sakura rolled her eyes, "Blunt as ever I see," she muttered.
"And I suppose you want me to thank you."
"It would be nice."
A sigh escaped her lips as they began to walk down the hallway, "Thank you oh great and wonderful Sasuke! Whatever would I have done without you?" she said sarcastically.
She heard her companion next to her snort, "How annoying."
A laughed escaped her lips, earning her a glare from Sasuke.
"How did you even end up friends with her anyway?" he asked with a tone saying that he really didn't care, though at this point Sakura knew him better than that.
"Who Ino? Oh that's kind of a long story."
"We don't have anywhere we need to be," he shrugged.
"Since when did you become so nosy?"
Sakura rolled her eyes, "You could have fooled me," she grumbled.
After a few moments of walking in silence, she felt it start to grow awkward for some reason. Sure they got along well for the last two weeks, but to be quite honest, when it grew quiet between them, it felt as if she were going to suffocate.
She hated feeling this way, and she hated the fact it was that Sasuke was to blame for it. It also got under her skin that no matter how many times she told herself that she didn't like him in the slightest…her heart would tell her otherwise. Didn't she swear that she wouldn't end up falling for Sasuke like every other girl? Karma must really have something against her with how things turned out.
'How annoying. You're just like every other girl.'
Her palm hit her forehead, she could picture it now. Sasuke would rub it in her face, and she wouldn't be able to live it down. She was also worried that he would stop talking to her altogether because of that…and that thought really hurt.
"Hm?" Sakura looked to him from the corner of her eye, noticing that he was watching her very intently, "Y…Yeah I'm fine.
Sasuke looked unconvinced.
"Really I'm okay!" she shook her head, "I was just thinking about how to start my story is all!"
"Now lets see…where to begin."
By this point they had reached the exit to the school, Sasuke opened the door for her, earning him a nod of thanks.
"Ino and I have been friends since grade school…you see I…uh…" she scratched her cheek slightly, her jade eyes looking to the ground at her feet.
Sasuke peered over at her curiously, "You what?" he asked calmly, in his own way urging her to continue.
"Well I used to be bullied a lot when I was younger actually…" her eyes wavered than, thinking about it made her look uneasy, and it was strange for him to see her that way.
Sasuke frowned deeply, "Bullied?" he repeated, the word felt like venom on his tongue.
It was odd how the thought of her being picked on made his blood boil.
"Yes well you see…" she laughed slightly about it to ease the tension, "I was picked on because I have an abnormally large forehead," she sighed, "It's why I always wear a ribbon in my hair you see. It hides it for the most part. And you know how kids are when they are young. Anyone who is different they pick on," she shrugged, "That just happened to be me when I was younger."
"You didn't stand up for yourself?" It was more of a statement then a question.
It seemed like the sounds of the afternoon had started to get louder to her ears, even the birds who were at the top of the tall trees sounded as if they were on a loud speaker in front of her.
"Well I tried. But you see," she looked to him, "I was a shy person when I was little," she smiled slightly, "My parents weren't around a lot even then, so I didn't have really many social skills when I was interacting with the children in my age group."
He watched the smile on her face grow slightly, "And one day…when those kids started to rip my books apart, Ino stepped in and beat them up."
Her eyes brightened, "She became like my protector of sorts after that. We became very good friends! And she taught me so many things that…I probably would have never learned without her."
Sasuke continued to stare at her.
"I changed because of her…" she said softly, "I honestly owe Ino a lot…she's so strong, I love that about her."
There was a silence between them as they approached her house.
"Anyway…" she adjusted her backpack slightly, "Here's my stop."
She looked over to him and smiled, "Thank you for walking me home Sasuke."
He nodded slightly as she turned around.
She stopped at the bottom of her porch steps and turned around, "Yes? What is it?"
"You are a strong person," he said calmly.
Her eyes widened slightly, "I…" she had to look away to hide the flush that was starting to creep up her face, "S-Strong wouldn't be the word for it…"
She could tell just by that slight grunt that he had rolled his eyes at her.
"You know I don't lie." he said firmly, not taking her indecisiveness seriously, "Both you and Naruto are strong people."
Sakura sighed slightly, if anyone was strong…it would be the boy standing behind her. He was the one who lost his parents after all…she had only been bullied as a child. Compared to losing your parents at an early age…her problems were a walk in the park.
"Thank you…Sasuke," she turned around and smiled, "Really!"
He watched her hurriedly fumble with her keys before she disappeared into the darkness of her own house. Smirking slightly, he placed his hands in his pockets and continued his way home.
Sakura shut the door quietly with her and let a soft sigh escape her lips. Her heart was still pounding as she leaned against the door for a few moments, going over the conversation with Sasuke in her head.
"Why does he make me feel this way...?" she said, placing her hand to her head, "Honestly...this is not what I signed up for when I was given my role in the play..."
She honestly shouldn't be complaining...she was getting pretty much everything a girl wanted. She could openly talk to Sasuke and hang out with him like it was the simplest thing in the world.
After a few more silent moments she smiled once again, "I guess...I'll have to put this on the list as another thing that I owe to Ino."
If it hadn't been for Ino writing her name down for the try outs list, she never would have been able to be friends with Sasuke like this. It seems that in retrospect...Ino really was looking out for her.
She supposed when the blond asked her to go on a shopping trip this time...she wouldn't be so quick to get out of it.
A loud laughter suddenly erupted from the other side of the phone. It had been so loud that Sasuke had to move the phone away from his ear, grunting in annoyance.
"I don't see what's so funny dobe," he said, his tone serious and annoyed.
"It's just that…" Naruto began in between breaths, "That…THAT is all you had to say to her?"
There was ruffling on the other side of the line as Naruto cleared his throat, "'I think you're a strong person,'" he spoke, in an attempt to imitate Sasuke.
"Do you want me to choke you at school tomorrow dobe? You know I will," he calmly, a hint of malice evident.
Naruto was always able to get under his skin, it never failed.
"Sorry sorry!" he said, the laughter still didn't subside, "That's just…not the thing to start off a confession you know?"
His best friend had been the only one he had actually told about his feelings for Sakura, everyone else had guessed, but without a confirmation from Sasuke himself…most people weren't sure.
"And what exactly was I supposed to say in that situation?" he frowned, "Since you apparently have experience in this," he said almost sarcastically.
"Hey if it were me I would have tried to hold her hand to console her, but than again this is the human ice cube we're talking about…"
"...I'm hanging up now."
"Will you wait a second? Geez…first I had to shop for six hours with Ino, and now this? Cut me some slack Sasuke! Though spending time with Hinata-chan was nice."
Sasuke was tapping his pen loudly against his notebook, the blond had called him in the middle of doing his homework to ask about how it went with Sakura, only to pick on him for how he talked to her.
"Anyways teme…if you want to show Sakura-chan that you like her. You just have to be up front about it. It's as simple as that."
Easier said than done.
Sasuke sighed, "And how do I do that? And don't say invite her to ramen. That's something you would do."
"Awwww man! I was about to say th-"
"I know. So I shut you up before you could."
Naruto grumbled on the other end, "Just tell her when you think the time is right. I mean…we all still have a lot of time with rehearsals and what not…oh…speaking of which…maaaan…Neji is always with me during them!"
"Because Lumiere and Cogsworth best friends idiot…and what brought that up?"
He could practically feel Naruto grin, "Because…tomorrow we practice my big song in the play 'Be Our Guest'…and Neji gets to be picked on more by yours truly!"
Sasuke sighed, "You two are both idiots."
Sometimes it was hard to believe that Neji was the mature one.
Tomorrow was really going to be eventful…
A/N: A little break in between rehearsals as you can see from this chapter, but more Beauty and the Beast in the next one woo! So! Now since we are actually coming up to the later chapters in the story, I would love to hold a poll to get an opinion from my lovely reviewers. I would like to know what scene from Beauty and the Beast you would like me to write a rehearsal for next! The only options that I will say cannot be written down is the 'Transformation scene' or the 'Finale,' seeing as how I would like them to be included in the actual performance. Please let me know what you would like to see and the option with the most votes will be used in after 'Be Our Guest.' Hope you all enjoyed!