Sasuke could hear the catcalls, the giggles, and the snores through the thick, faded curtain. He stood backstage, twiddling a bottle of water between his hands. All around him, the members of the Drama Club (which included the entire Junior class, due to Gai-sensei's influence – don't ask), scurried about, doing last minute repairs on the set, dragging trees and buildings into place, and rehearsing lines.
The pale boy sighed, and took a long swig of the water. His throat was getting clammy. He would not admit that he was nervous. It was just a premonition that something would go wrong today.
"If I didn't know any better, I'd think you were chugging down vodka, or something."
Sasuke turned at the sound of the chipper, excited voice. Uzumaki Naruto was climbing down the metal ladder, a huge smile plastered over his face. The clever blond had just managed to repair the spotlight and was heading to the lighting booth. But to Sasuke, his overly zealous smile was enough light for one day. At least it's not as bad as Lee's or Gai-sensei's…Sasuke shuddered at the thought of the dynamic duo.
But Sasuke and Naruto were a duo in their own way. Naruto was bright, blond, and a little slow; whilst, Sasuke was dark, brooding, brunet, and quick and intelligent. Naruto had this uncanny ability to draw others toward him with a smile. Sasuke could scare just about everybody off with a simple look. Everybody, but Naruto, that is.
Despite the contrast, the two became rivals/best friends on immediate contact. Their parent's close relationships with each other even fueled their relationship. Sasuke's older brother Itachi would often joke that the two were a match made in heaven. Sasuke would glare at his brother, wishing he would burn in hell. But the words always played about in his mind.
Naruto was so…distracting.
And the blond had a habit of taking risks and getting them into crazy situations. Like the time they tried to steal Kakashi-sensei's porn. And the two ended up having to listen to him read it out loud upon being caught. Naruto swore that Kakashi was gleefully smiling underneath the folds of that dark mask. Sasuke was too busy tending to his bleeding ears to care.
Then, there was the whole Gaara thing. Somehow, Naruto thought it would be beneficial for both the school community, and Gaara if they dyed his head Sakura pink. "Since he'd be so bright, maybe he'd get more happy, you know!?"
Wrong. Completely and utterly wrong. Sasuke had no idea why he had agreed to such a ridiculous idea in the first place.
The murderous, crazy bastard known as Gaara practically spewed flames out of his mouth. Everyone ran. Sakura considered changing her hair color herself. It wasn't until Neji admitted that his favorite color was pink and that the new look was great on Gaara that the sandman stopped. But Neji managed to convince him to return to his normal looks, and that was that.
Of course, there was also the incident with his brother. In fact, anything with his brother was immediately trouble. Itachi thrived on laughing at Naruto's habits, swearing to Sasuke that if the younger brother didn't marry him, then he would. What annoyed Sasuke most was not the fact that Itachi kept insinuating about their relationship, but of the other part. "I see a green monster," the older Uchiha teased.
But what Naruto did totally shattered the notion of rivalry from his brother.
"Let's hook your brother up! I'm serious!"
Again. Wrong. Absolutely wrong, wrong, WRONG!
Let's just say that at the end of it, Naruto had a whole hour on tape of Itachi making out with none other than the college professor – Hoshigaki Kisame. Fortunately, Itachi was eighteen at the time, deeming it a legal relationship, but it was still…weird.
But none of those experiences were as influential as what occurred that night.
"Nervous?" the blond asked, nudging Sasuke lightly on the shoulder.
Sasuke frowned and denied it. But the shivers still traveled up and down his spine. His throat was still clammy and dry. He took another swig of the water bottle, completely emptying it. Naruto rolled his eyes. "Of course, you're not nervous, you're the great Uchiha Sasuke!"
Naruto pulled the curtain aside a slit, taking a peek at the fully crowded auditorium. In fact, some people had to stand along the walls. The chatter was comparable to that of a football stadium. He grinned like an idiot and turned back to his friend. "Full house. This is gonna be great!" He scanned the crowd once more. "Oh, look. You brother's here."
As if the night wasn't worse enough, Sasuke groaned. "Why?" he asked to no one in particular.
Naruto answered anyway, holding back a snicker, "Oh, and he brought the entire Uchiha family."
The whole world came crashing down on the youngest Uchiha. Again he groaned, and threw his hands up in the air in frustration. "And again, I ask, why?"
"You're the star, Romeo," the blond said, chuckling after his statement. Kiba called Naruto to the lighting booth, saying something about Chouji and a tangle of wires. Not a good combination. "See ya, and break a leg," he called over his shoulder.
"Wish I could right now," Sasuke muttered, tossing his bottle to the nearest garbage can. He checked his watch – half an hour till show time. He'd better get changed fast.
The puffy costume in the dressing room was a perfect costume for the death of his social life.
Romeo and Juliet The powerful, and indeed famous (or infamous, all depending on opinion) story of two star-crossed lovers. Destiny delt it's hand and the result was anything but auspicious for the young couple. The girls giggled and swooned as soon as they heard that this very story was the play for the school year. Sasuke nearly puked.
It was ten times worse to see who got picked as the cast. That time, Sasuke really did puke.
It was only ten minutes to show time, and the anticipation that had begun building up from the beginning of the day was at such a high level, that it could explode. Gai-sensei was sitting in the front row, chewing at his fingertips. "Go, my youthful students! Go!"
Lee, the stage manager was barking orders out. Unusual for someone who was always so kind as Lee, but he was just about as stressed out as everybody. Lee wanted this play to be a success for his favorite teacher. And because he really wanted to get this show going so that he could pick up dinner for Tenten and leave as quietly as possible.
Naruto somehow disentangled his friend Chouji from the wires and clamped the panel shut. He pulled out a clipboard full of written directions and handed it to Shikamaru and Chouji. "If I end up leaving, just take care of this, okay?"
For a reply, he got the loud crunching of chips and a snore. After being friends with the two of them for years, it was as good as Naruto could get.
The blond dashed quickly down the stars, through several corridors, and down one more flight to reach the back of the stage. All sets were in place, and Lee was already introducing the story. He meandered his way to the dressing rooms and knocked on Sasuke's door. Without waiting for an answer, he slammed the door open.
Sasuke was frowning. He wore a blue tunic, leggings and totally medieval boots, and his hair was as spiky as ever. The expression on his face was the opposite of excitement; in fact, it was dread. Naruto laughed, and slapped his friends back. "C'mon. You rehearsed this thing a thousand times. If anybody can do it, I'm sure Mr. Perfect Uchiha Sasuke can."
The teen glared over his shoulder, sighed, and hopped out of the chair. He straightened his tunic. "I just want to get this over with," he muttered.
Naruto figured that was as close to enthusiasm as he could get from his friend. Shrugging, he followed him to the backstage area, where the other actors and actresses stood, awaiting their entrance.
As his was coming up, Sasuke turned to Naruto, fear written on his face. "I don't wanna do this."
The line was said, and Naruto shoved a totally reluctant Sasuke onto the stage, whispering, "Good luck!" and praying to any deity out there to help his friend have the time of his life.
When Itachi heard that his younger brother was to star in Konoha Private Academy's school play, he went hysterical with laughter. All he expected was pandemonium and that something would explode. But no, Act I was almost over, and so far it was perfect. Nothing wrong had happened, and his brother had the lines and actions down to the letter.
This is soooo boring, the older Uchiha thought.
Shisui, his cousin, sat beside him, nonchalantly flipping through the playbill. His mother, Mikoto was crying tears of joy and happiness. "That's my son," she kept whispering. Fugaku wondered what would happen when the whole thing was over. He handed her the third handkerchief of the night.
Itachi frowned, absentmindedly scanning through the pictures on the digital camera he brought for blackmail material. As Sasuke's older brother, it was always his job to teach him street smarts. And the best method, torture and blackmail. Mikoto would say that Itachi caught his devious habits after hanging out too much with the explosive Deidara and the odd cult member Hidan.
Sighing, his eye flickered up as the curtain fell in preparation for Act II. The balcony scene was coming up – Act II part II, he believed. Ha, a kiss. A real kiss instead of the fake one in the earlier scene. This would be enjoyable to watch…
And Itachi wasn't disappointed.
Nothing had exploded. Nothing had gone wrong. Sasuke was surprised. He watched as the stage crew fiddled around with the set, moving things to the appropriately marked places. Lee and Gai-sensei were crying tears of youthful joy. Everybody rolled their eyes, shook their heads and continued about their business.
Ino – the Juliet – bounced towards him, blushing. "So, Romeo. Are you ready for the real kiss?"
She giggled and skipped off, saying something about playing hard to get.
Girls are so confusing, Sasuke thought, shaking his head solemnly. He sighed and braced himself for the torture to come.
Naruto lifted the giant plant/tree/thing and trudged it onto the stage. Lee was already introducing the second act and Naruto was late arranging things. If he was caught on stage, he would be dead!
Suddenly, a blind, love struck Ino backed right into him, causing the plant to slip from his fingers and topple above the rising star. Ino screamed, shrilly and loudly, like all girls do. In a flash, the branch smacked her bimbo head and knocked her to the ground. The curtain would open in about ten seconds, and Naruto already found himself in deep shit.
Outside, Itachi heard the scream. He stifled his laughter. Everybody gasped and stared at Lee, who was on stage, awkwardly smiling. Up in the lighting booth, Chouji held up a sign: Keep Going!!!!!
Lee sighed inwardly, and signaled for the curtain to open. He, the crew, and just about everybody in the building were just itching to see what would happen.
Sasuke said his lines slowly and clearly, as if prolonging the inevitable. Sullenly, he clamored up the tree and hopped onto the balcony. It was Ino's line, and she hadn't said a word.
An awkward silence ensued. Someone coughed loudly in the audience – probably Itachi. Sasuke decided that he would mutilate his brother when he got home.
After a few moments, the boy decided to improvise. "Hello? Juliet?" he called, and opened the well-made door.
Sasuke swore that his heart just ripped out of his chest and exploded into a thousand pieces. He felt extremely dizzy and faint, and the heat was rising to his cheeks. For Naruto sat in the balcony, dressed in Juliet's nightclothes that gave him a disproportionate look. He had hastily shoved a brown wig over his unruly hair; some strands were sticking out from underneath. There were streaks of misapplied lipstick across his cheek. All in all, it was pretty…
The brunet fought the urge to puke, laugh or both at the same time. Naruto pouted in a way that made the situation all the more ridiculous. He whispered, "Look, just play along, okay? Act naturally!"
Sasuke snorted, and wondered what the people on stage and in the audience were thinking now. "Okay…" he managed to whisper back.
Aren't you forgetting something…?
You're going to have to kiss him.
And Sasuke's world came tumbling down for the fifteenth hundred time since he stepped on that stage.
Crap! The word kept repeating over and over again in his head. Crap! Crap!
He had an estimate of ten seconds. Ten seconds to rectify his mistake. Naruto wished he had smelling salts in his pocket. He should've brought some in case Sasuke fainted or something like this happened. Too late for that.
He sat the fichus upright and dragged Ino by the feet off the stage. Abruptly, he stripped her of the nightgown, not even bothering to be embarrassed at the sight. He procured a wig from backstage and quickly set off to the back of the balcony.
Just as he barely got the wig and dress on, the curtain flew open. Yup. He was pretty screwed.
"Uh…we could fake it," Naruto suggested quietly as Sasuke stepped closer. A tomato red blush was across the brunet's white cheeks, and Naruto couldn't help but think how endearing the expression was. Then again, he was blushing himself.
After all, it wasn't right to kiss your best friend. (It was by accident, that last time. It's not like Naruto thought that Sasuke tasted sweet, like strawberries and chocolate. It wasn't like he thought about the soft pink lips after that. It wasn't like that at all).
But the thoughts came rushing in anyway.
A loud catcall instigated the chanting. "Kiss! Kiss!" No doubt, Itachi started it all. Sasuke really REALLY wanted to kill his brother right now, but at the same time, he was grateful. No, no you're not Sasuke. Nope.
"Soo…." Naruto muttered as Sasuke stood in front of him. It was pretty ludicrous; the height difference. Sasuke used to be one of the tallest, and leanest. He stood out, a cut above the rest of the class. However, as middle school and high school passed by, it seemed his growth spurt had ground to a halt. Right now, he was five foot, six inches, and pretty feminine, according to the general masses. Naruto had grown out, lean, but muscular and taller. Everyone agreed that he began to look like his father. Now he was about five foot, ten inches, and pretty handsome – in a boyish way.
The chanting continued. Sasuke closed his eyes, and took a deep breath. Naruto did the same.
All chatter faded to the background as their lips lightly brushed. It was sudden, but Sasuke had backed Naruto up against the cardboard balcony wall, their lips and tongues still clamoring with each other. Not a very good decision, seeing that the scenery was pretty weak.
Their world came toppling down,. Literally.
And Itachi definitely got a good laugh!
Later, after being lectured a thousand times, and receiving multiple detentions, Naruto and Sasuke sat in the empty classroom alone. They were on separate sides of the room, and every once in a while, they would awkwardly send glances at each other. Sasuke clenched his fist and gazed outside, biting his lip until the metallic taste of blood reached his tongue.
Even though the infractions had ruined his permanent record, Sasuke still had to admit that that wasn't enough to make him regret what he did that night. His dark eyes glanced back at his partner in crime, who was smiling cockily, dazzlingly, at him.
Naruto hopped off the heater and trotted towards the brunet. He stared at him straight in the eye, propping his elbows on the desk. "Hey, Juliet."
Sasuke rolled his eyes. "You were the one wearing the dress."
"Touché," the blond stated, pulling Sasuke closer.
Nothing more was said that day. All they did was act naturally.