EDIT: 12/03/2009 - A couple of mistakes have been corrected, thanks to Avestia and S.A. Tsukasa. :)

SUMMARY: Fact: If a girl slaps you for no reason, it means she likes you. But this one punched him in the face, kneed him in the South Pole and left him in a humiliating heap on the ground ...

DISCLAIMER: All canon characters belong to Kishimoto. The AU and the plot belongs to me.

WARNINGS: Alternate Universe, coarse language, female Naruto, SasuNaru, fluff, slight OOCness and just general longwindedness.

A/N: This is just a very lighthearted fic that was clawing to get out. I wouldn't say this is completely a comedy, but I tried to keep things really light and somewhat funny. I hope that I at least make you smile :).

My thanks to Roo, a SasuSaku lover who's given a lot of support and encouragement to my SasuNaru fics XD.

YET AGAIN ANOTHER EDIT: I was told in a couple of reviews that I used too much Japanese and it it ruined the flow of the story. Well, I reread the fic again and, boy - they are so right! So, I editted out the Japanese terms apart from the occassional "dobe" and "teme", and the fic is much better! XD To those reviewers, if you're reading this, then you know who you are and you have my deepest thanks! Your criticism really helped. :)


21st July, Thursday

For once, Uchiha Sasuke was actually feeling happy. Oh, yes, happy as in delighted, absolutely ecstatic. His day had passed by without a single hitch. He had achieved full marks and a couple of bonuses on almost all his tests, his teachers were more pleased with him than ever, there was an almost hundred percent guarantee that he would get that scholarship he had been aiming for, the student council meeting had gone according to plan (and he had had that great opportunity to tell off Sai; that emotionless, weird dude was just irritating!), and, most importantly, he had actually managed to evade his as-annoying-as-a-thorn-in-the-side fan club all day. Not once had he been forced to duck into a shadowy corner to avoid being chased all over the campus by that shameless horde of screaming, drooling barbarians aka girls – and that was a record!

Overall, it had been a terrific day and there was a small, rare smile that graced his face as Sasuke stepped out of the large, double doors of Konoha High after session ended. The smile widened as he breathed in the crisp, fresh air of the late summer and he enjoyed the feel of the soft zephyr and the warmth of the hot sun that beamed down at him. It was as if the weather, too, was celebrating the wonderfulness of his perfect, faultless day.

Of course, he should have realised that it was not meant to last. Life was a sadistic son of a gun, after all, and Uchiha Sasuke was to be its poor, unsuspecting victim today.

The first warning he got was the sound of running feet that came up behind him, but he did not fully register it as he strode leisurely across the school lawn towards the student parking lot. The next warning was a loud, angry yell of, 'Bastard!' which certainly did catch his attention, but it was a tad too late. A hand grabbed his shoulder, the fingernails digging painfully into his skin through his shirt, and yanked with a surprising amount of strength that forced him around and almost knocked him off balance.

'The hell –?!' was all that Sasuke could manage to get out before a fist came flying at him from seemingly nowhere and impacted on his face with a sickening crunch. His brain had barely caught on to what had happened before his assaulter landed another blow with their knees, this time right to where it hurts most. With a yell of pain that he could not hold back, Sasuke doubled over, but the ordeal was not quite over yet. A pair of forceful hands gave his chest one hell of a push and he fell over backwards, landing painfully on his behind. A gasp of pain and surprise escaped him and he ducked his head quickly, expecting another punch, though this time, none came.

What the hell is going on??

'Uchiha, you no good bastard!'

Blinking owlishly, Sasuke stared up at the person who had attacked him. His jaw almost hit the ground. A girl??

She was standing barely two feet away, with her hands resting on her hips and shooting him an evil-eye that could rival the infamous Uchiha death glare. Sasuke gaped at her, simultaneously struggling to understand what had just happened and trying to put a name to her face. He could vaguely recognise the spiky, blonde mess that was her hair, the three scars on each of her cheeks and the sapphire eyes that gave the sky tough competition for blueness. However, what really caught his eye were her clothes: a pair of black, baggy pants and a simple tee shirt that was so vividly orange in colour that he almost burned out his retinas looking at it. Seriously, who wore orange these days?

Tearing his eyes away from it, he looked back up at her furious face. He could recall her now. She was in some of his classes, the non-advanced ones, and was a clown to the core – though "Undertaker" was more suitable for the current expression on her face. Sasuke, however, still could not remember her name. Something to do with fishcakes?

Giving up on her name, he settled for an insult. 'Dobe,' he growled, narrowing his eyes dangerously at her, 'care to explain why in all the seven circles of hell you just attacked me?!'

If the girl had been angry before, she was seething with fury now. 'What did you call me, teme?!' she shrieked at him.

'Oh, you're deaf, now?' He snorted. 'Just answer the question. What the heck did you do that for?'

'Hah,' she scoffed contemptuously. 'So, you're going to pretend you don't know, eh, bastard?'

Sasuke glared at her, thoroughly exasperated and still livid. The pain had not subsided from his body yet. 'I don't know why you found it necessary to physically assault me, dobe! What the hell did I do?'

The blonde looked as if she might just pull her hair out. Or rather, Sasuke's hair. 'What you did was that you were being a complete asshole, Uchiha! You think it's funny, do you, playing with people's hearts? It's just a game to you, isn't it?' She gave him a dirty look, baring her teeth in a feral snarl and she pointed her finger at him threateningly. 'But not everybody's as rich and heartless as you are. Pull another stunt like that ever again and I'll personally make sure that a certain organ of yours is chopped off and force fed to you!'

He did not need to ask which organ she had in mind.

With another angry glower at him, she turned and stormed away. Sasuke stared after the blonde girl until she disappeared around the corner of one of the outer buildings of the school. His mouth hung open before he realised how idiotic he must look and quickly shut it, but his brain was still in a jumble. Her explanation – if that tirade could be called an "explanation" – for beating him up had not cleared up his confusion in the least. Sasuke – playing with people's hearts? Pulling a stunt? What on earth had she been talking about??

Before he could ponder on it any more, he became aware of the oppressive silence that had fallen upon the school grounds. Coming out of his stupor, Sasuke glanced around at his surroundings and instantly wished that he had not as overwhelming humiliation crushed him. The eyes of every single student out on the lawn were locked on him. Most looked shocked that the Uchiha Sasuke had just been pulverised, some look highly entertained, and a few look merely bored. Gritting his teeth, he fought in vain against the soft tinge of pink he could feel spreading over his cheeks as he imagined how he must look like in their eyes: sitting on his backside in a heap on the ground after being beaten up – by a little dumb blonde, no less! The humiliation set in deeper.

The silence was finally shattered by a loud bark of laughter from one of Sasuke's year mates, Inuzuka Kiba. 'Pretty boy just got bitch-slapped!' he howled with mirth, doubling over as he guffawed. Some of the other boys began to join him, but Sasuke effectively shut them up by aiming his invincible death glare at them, especially at Kiba who immediately halted his hysterics and turned away quickly from the angry Uchiha.

'Che, troublesome,' a voice muttered from beside Sasuke and he looked up to see a boy with gravity-defying hair tied up in a ponytail standing over him. 'You alright?' Nara Shikamaru asked flatly, holding out a hand to help the raven-haired boy up.

Sasuke glowered slightly at the question, insulted. Of course, he was alright! He had only just gotten "bitch-slapped" as Kiba had oh-so-subtly put it. Nevertheless, he reigned in his anger and forced himself to accept the hand of one of the few people he could actually tolerate without ending up grinding his teeth. He would have gotten up on his own, but the pain downstairs still had yet to fully fade and he knew that he would probably stumble if he tried to stand up alone, and he had suffered enough mortification for one day.

Without anymore comments, Shikamaru pulled him up. Once Sasuke was sure that he would not fall flat on his face if he tried to move, he turned away with a nod of thanks to his pineapple-haired acquaintance. He ignored the rest of the students, most of whom who were still gawking at him and muttering and snickering among themselves, as he walked gingerly towards the parking lot with his head held high proudly. He winced as he tried not to limp courtesy of the pain in his lower regions, but it was nigh impossible. That little midget of a devil had kneed him really hard!

Well, if Sasuke could not have children in the future, at least he would know who was to blame.

22nd July, Friday

Uzumaki Naruto cackled to herself gleefully as she threw open her locker and began to rummage through the chaos inside, searching for the textbooks she needed for the first class of the day. However, she really could not have cared less if the books she threw haphazardly into her bag were the right ones or not. She was still on high from that super-duper-brilliant-beyond-fantasy prank she had just pulled on her least favourite teacher, Ebisu-sensei.

Heh, that closet pervert! She snickered. All she had had to do was tape a small poster of a gorgeous, naked girl - which she had acquired from a less-than-reputable store - on his blackboard and, the moment he had walked into the "empty" classroom (Naruto had been hiding in the closet) and seen it, Ebisu-sensei had gotten the nosebleed of the millennium! It had erupted from his nostrils like water gushing out of a hosepipe turned on full blast, and had soiled the upper half of his neatly pressed shirt; his neatly pressed, white shirt.

And the cherry on top of the ice cream was that Naruto had gotten the whole thing on video! She laughed ecstatically as she remembered how she had hidden in the closet and recorded Ebisu-sensei's ultimate doom of humiliation with the camcorder she had borrowed from her friend, Konohamaru. Perhaps, she could bribe Shikamaru into hacking into the school website and putting the video up there! Then everyone would finally see what a pervert that I'm-oh-so-pure-and-righteous Ebisu was!

'Naruto!' a distant voice called to her, cutting into her prank-filled inner world.

She leaned her head around her locker door to see a girl with strawberry-pink hair come running down the crowded hallway towards her, pushing people out of her way. A huge smile unfolded on Naruto's face.

'Hey, Sakura-chan,' she sang out happily, slamming her locker shut and heaving her bag onto her shoulder. 'You won't believe what I did today! Konohamaru and I –'

'Naruto, I ... really ... don't care ... what ... prank ... you ...' Sakura panted as she skidded to a halt in front of Naruto and leaned her hands against her knees, trying to catch her breath.

'Whoa, what's the hurry, huh?' Naruto asked, looking down at the exhausted girl.

Sakura raised one finger, indicating the blonde to wait until she had calmed down. Naruto stood still for a total of four seconds before starting to fidget, waiting impatiently for the pink-haired girl's coherency to return.

Finally, Sakura straightened up. 'Is it true?' she demanded, still sounding a little breathless though she was no longer panting.

'Ne, is what true, Sakura-chan?' Naruto's face scrunched up cutely as she frowned in confusion.

Looking exasperated, Sakura pushed away a wayward strand of hair from her face. 'Is it true that you actually beat up Sasuke-kun after school yesterday?'

Naruto's cerulean blue eyes darkened a few shades at the mention of his name. 'Yes,' she answered bluntly.

Sakura gaped at her. 'Are you serious?! Ino told me about it just now. She said that the entire school's talking about it, but I didn't believe her ...'

A proud grin began to unfold on Naruto's face. 'Whole school's been talking about me ...?'

'Naruto!' Sakura grabbed hold of the blonde's shoulders and shook her until Naruto could almost feel her brain rattling around in her head, effectively shaking her out of her fantasies of being the centre of attention. 'I can't believe you! Why would you beat up poor Sasuke-kun?'

A vein popped on Naruto's forehead. 'Poor Sasuke-kun?' she exclaimed, eyes widening to impossible proportions in disbelief. 'God, Sakura-chan, I can't believe that you're taking his side in this! I punched him because he deserved it.' She flailed her arms slightly and began to pace back and forth in front of her friend. 'Ugh, have you already forgotten what he did to you?! He made you cry, Sakura-chan!'

Sakura froze to the spot. 'You mean ...'

'Yes,' Naruto answered with a glower. 'I hit him because of that! For you!'

'Naruto, I ...' Sakura stared at the scowling, blue-eyed girl in front of her. 'I don't know what to say. I ... you ...'

'What?' grumbled Naruto, folding her arms and pouting.

'Naruto,' Sakura began carefully in a soft tone, 'I ... thank you. I really appreciate your concern and all –'

The blonde began to grin proudly –

'– but you really shouldn't have hit Sasuke-kun! He doesn't deserve that!'

And she was back to scowling again.

'Damn it, Sakura-chan! How can you defend that bastard?'

'Don't call him that, Naruto,' Sakura frowned disapprovingly at her, but then her entire demeanour changed. Her emerald eyes widened and filled with sudden horror as she stared at something over Naruto's shoulder, and her jaw slackened.

Naruto's features immediately lost the look of anger and hurt they had been sporting and were replaced with concern. 'What's the matter, Sakura-chan?' she asked anxiously.

'Oh, God, no! He's coming here!'

'Who?' Naruto whirled around and stared at the crowd of students, most of whom were now rushing to get to their classes before the final bell rang.

'Rock Lee!' Sakura whispered at the same time as when Naruto caught a glimpse of prominent green amongst the mob that seemed to be fighting its way through directly towards the two girls.

Naruto began to leer as she turned back to Sakura. 'You know, Sakura-chan,' she said in a mock-thoughtful voice, 'Lee really does seem to like you. Maybe you should consider going on a date with him.' She waggled her eyebrows in a taunting, suggestive manner.

'Are you kidding me?' Sakura hissed, already turning away to run before Lee caught up with them. 'No way am I going on a date with a guy whose eyebrows look like an explosion in a hair factory! Anyway, I'm going before he comes. I'll see you at lunch, Naruto!' she added over her shoulder as she hurried away.

Naruto frowned slightly as she watched Sakura flee. 'At least Lee actually likes you,' she muttered under her breath. 'He's a way better guy than your precious Sasuke-kun.'

'Naruto-san!' Rock Lee's loud voice that positively overflowed with youthful vigour and ear-deafening vibrations sounded right in her ear at that moment and she jumped a foot into the air with a yelp.

'What the –!' she gasped, turning to face him. 'Don't scare me like that, Bushy Eyebrows!' Naruto cried hysterically, clutching at her chest. The green-clad teen with the bowl-cut black hair was someone who could rival even her when it came to hyperactive loudness – and that was really saying something.

'Forgive me, Naruto-san!' Lee apologised dramatically, 'but I just saw the beautiful Sakura-san here not a moment ago! Tell me where she went, Naruto-san, so that I may find her and, once more, try to win over her youthful heart!' He finished his speech with a melodramatic Good Guy pose.

Naruto chuckled a little nervously. Lee was one of those few human beings who could throw even her over with his bizarre antics. 'Ano, she just went to class, BE,' she answered, addressing him with one of the nicknames she had given him (this one was short for – what else? – Bushy Eyebrows).

'Oh.' Lee looked put out. 'Well,' he continued, perking up, 'I shall wait till I see Sakura-san again and renew my attempts of courting her!'

Naruto stared at him blankly. 'Right,' she muttered, wondering what he meant by "courting". Weren't courts the places where two people stand in front of a judge who wears a funny wig (or not) and accuse one another of stealing or something, and in the end, one of them ends up in prison? Was Lee talking about taking Sakura-chan to the court? What was the point of that? 'Well,' she shrugged and shot Lee a sunny smile that made her eyes curve up into an upside-down U each, 'good luck with that, Eyebrows!'

'Thank you!' And just like that, he disappeared faster than her eyes could follow him. An expression of bemusement fell over Naruto's face when she caught a glimpse of Lee disappearing round the corner. That guy with his super sonic speed could give a person whiplash!

But, Naruto realised when the bell rang and she noticed the empty hallway, she would be getting a lot worse than that soon enough. With a curse of 'Shit, I'm late!' she began to run towards her first class.

You know that it is going to be a Bad day with a capital B when the first thing you see in the morning is a vulture outside your window. OK, so Sasuke was not sure if that humongous bird that had been perched on the oak tree outside his bedroom had been a vulture – very unlikely as he had never seen any vultures in Konoha – since he had not been able to take a good look before it took off. But it had been big, black and mean-looking and all that jazz, so he had assumed it was a vulture. Initially, however, he had just shaken it off and thought nothing of it, but when he had come down for breakfast in the kitchen, he had seen a large, black cat outside in the garden, staring at him; omen of bad luck, number two.

Now, Sasuke was a very anti-superstitious sort of person. But in spite of that and having full knowledge that it was only Mrs Next Door's pet cat, he had still felt a little perturbed at having seen two things that insane people dubbed as bad omens within the space of fifteen minutes. Sasuke had even half-expected his tea cup to crack in two during breakfast, but thankfully, that omen of bad luck, number three, had not taken place.

However, it seemed that bad omens he had never believed in had decided to butt into his life. Either that or it was all a stupid coincidence. Sasuke was inclined to believe that it was the latter, but he was no longer sure.

The first sign that this day was not going to turn out well was when he had gotten into his black Mercedes and discovered that it was out of gas – which was really suspicious considering that Sasuke was ninety percent sure that he had had a full tank the day before. With his face resembling a black thundercloud, he had prepared to take the long fifteen minute walk to the nearest bus stop, but then his mother had insisted that his older brother drove him to school. That had really gotten his goat, but he had had no choice for as soon as he had protested, his mother had pushed him out of the door with Itachi, exclaiming, 'Oh, don't be ridiculous, Sasu-chan;' – God, how he hated that nickname! – 'if you take the bus, you'll be late for school! Besides, it won't kill you to spend more time with your brother.'

That last comment was more than enough explanation for the dangerous purple vein that had throbbed in his temple for God knows how long.

So, Sasuke had had to endure Itachi's oh-so-pleasant company for the twenty three minutes it took for them to drive from their house to Konoha High. It was not that Itachi was a bad person. In fact, he could be extremely sweet and kind when he wanted to be. But looking at him from a "brother" or "sibling" point of view, he was the essence of every person's worst nightmare. He certainly was Sasuke's, but the younger would never give Itachi the satisfaction by admitting it. It was bad enough that his brother teased and annoyed him every opportunity he got. He would not give the older the chance to rub it in his face.

The second "Bad Day" sign had made itself known to him immediately after that car ride (during which Sasuke had turned up the radio to ear-drum-shattering levels and pretended that he could not hear Itachi and his innocently casual taunts). An annoying screech of 'Sasuke-kun!' had greeted him as soon as he was out of the car, and he had almost turned around and headed straight back to Itachi's red convertible. His brother's company was more welcoming than that of his fan club's by tenfold.

Nevertheless, he had forced himself to walk towards the school, shaking off the fan girl who had screeched his name when she tried to cling on to his arm. However, the moment he had entered the main building, he realised that he had just jumped from the frying pan into the fire. Before he knew it, he had been surrounded by an impenetrable sea of those screaming girls he loathed so much. Obviously they had been waiting for his arrival. However, this time it had not been to declare their undying love for him, it seemed. They had fawned over him, trying to "comfort" him by calling him a "poor thing", and declaring that that girl who had dared to punch him the day before was a complete vixen who deserved to die.

Unsurprisingly, their mollycoddling and cursing that blonde "monster" had not comforted him in the least. Quite the contrary, in fact, especially when one bold girl loudly offered to kiss his black eye better. He had nearly popped a vein at that.

Getting away from them had been like a journey through a hell-hole and he had been almost late for his first class, but, thankfully, their English teacher was a tardier man than the entire student population put together, so it would not have mattered. The bell had already rung and Sasuke was currently sitting at his desk, ignoring the exaggerated sympathetic looks his devoted worshippers were sending him, and coldly glaring at anyone who dared to stare at his black eye. Itachi had already cracked a lot of "panda" jokes about his bruised eye within the past eighteen hours. Sasuke did not need anyone else to joke about him more.

Sighing, Sasuke looked down at his desk with a frown. First getting stuck with Itachi, then his stupid fan club, and all before first period! His mood was already foul and he was not looking forward to the rest of the day. But surely, nothing worse than his brother and his fan girls could happen today, right?

Or so he thought until the next second when the classroom door was flung open and what looked like an orange whirlwind came bursting into the room with all the force of having been propelled from a medieval catapult.

'Sorry I'm late, Kakashi-sensei!'

Sasuke's eyes widened a fraction. It was that blonde girl who had punched him yesterday. He stared at her now familiar features, taking in the messy blonde spikes that brushed her shoulders and the deep, azure eyes that were still wildly searching for their non-present teacher. He raised an eyebrow slightly when he noticed that she was wearing even more orange than the day before: her tee shirt was of that colour as were the stripes that ran down the sides of her black pants and the pockets on it. Also there was a dark orange jacket tied around her slender hips by its sleeves. What was with this girl and that ludicrous colour? A trademark?

'Kakashi ain't here, Blondie,' Kiba's drawling voice sounded from upfront, shaking Sasuke from his observations. 'He's late, as usual.'

'Oh, yeah, I forgot.' She relaxed immediately, but then frowned at the boy with the red fang-like tattoos on his cheeks. 'How many times have I told you not to call me that, dog breath?'

'Fine then, orangie,' Kiba laughed at her and she made a very rude hand gesture at him just as the door opened and a tall man with silvery hair that stuck up at an angle and an eye patch over his left eye entered the room.

'Easy there, brat,' he chided gently, frowning slightly at the girl who was still holding her hand up, 'it's rude to stick your middle finger at people.'

'But Kakashi-sensei,' she whined petulantly, 'doggy boy started it!' She pointed at Kiba who bared his sharp canines at her. Sasuke, who had been watching the entire exchange closely, rolled his eyes at their immaturity while the rest of the class snickered.

'Well, finish it then, kiddo, and take your seat,' Kakashi answered airily, waving the blonde away from him as he headed towards the teacher's desk.

Pouting, she turned away from the silver-haired man and scanned the class, searching for an empty desk. Sasuke glanced around as well and suppressed a groan when he realised that the only available seat was the one directly to his right. Damn! He cursed mentally. He had chosen to sit at the very back of the classroom deliberately today, in a place where the only people close to him was Hyuuga Hinata on his left and Aburame Shino in front – two people that he knew would not bother him at all. And he had thought that having an empty place next to him would be peaceful, too; no gushing fan girls. But, damn! Now he would have to endure that little blonde's presence for an entire period!

Blame the cursed bad luck.

He glanced up at the blue-eyed blonde and saw that she was now staring back and forth from the empty desk to him with wide eyes. She scowled darkly at him when their eyes met and he returned the look with passion.

'Well, sit down already,' Kakashi said loudly, interrupting their scowling contest. He was sitting at his desk, holding the register at the ready and frowning slightly at the girl upon seeing that she had not moved from her previous spot.

She turned to him with an angry look on her face. 'There's no way that I'm going to sit next to him!' she barked, pointing at Sasuke who glared at her.

The frown on their teacher's face deepened. 'It's the only available place,' he pointed out.

'I don't care. I'm not sitting next to Uchiha!'

'Do you plan on standing throughout the period?'

'That'd be better than sitting next to the duck-butt.'

A vein immediately throbbed on Sasuke's temple and his eyes shot daggers as he glowered furiously at the girl. What had she just called him??

Their teacher rolled his eyes in mild irritation. 'Just sit down, will you? Or it'll be a week's worth of detention for you,' he added lazily when she opened her mouth to argue.

She looked ready to commit murder as she stomped towards the empty desk, seemingly oblivious to the looks of loathing being aimed at her from various girls throughout the room. Sasuke looked just as coldly at her when she dropped her bag onto the floor by her desk and sat down, but she pointedly ignored him and gazed with rapt attention at their teacher. He could hear her grinding her teeth, though.

Soon, Kakashi began to check their attendance. For the first time, Sasuke paid close attention to the names. He had never cared about whom his classmates were before, but he wanted to find out the name of this particular girl who, might or might not, have taken away his ability of siring children.

Her name was called soon after his own: Uzumaki Naruto. Sasuke raised an eyebrow again as he glanced at her once. Hn, he had been right; her name did have something to do with fishcakes. But what sort of parents in their right minds would call their child "Naruto"? She certainly did not look particularly delicious, he thought.

For the rest of the period afterwards, he ignored her too, trying to pretend that she did not exist. But it was hard to do because he was still wondering why she had attacked him the day before. Her explanation of him "playing with people's hearts" had not given him any answers and he was determined to find out the true reason for him getting "bitch-slapped". Had he even done anything that warranted him getting kneed in the family jewels?

His mind lingered on those thoughts as Kakashi assigned them their work before settling down in his chair and pulled out an Icha Icha book, the lewd novel series that he shamelessly read even during class hours in front of his students. Sasuke was still thinking about it twenty minutes later as he tapped his pen against his open notebook with no idea of what he was supposed to be doing. As the minutes dragged on, he pursued idea after idea on how to get a proper answer from that Naruto girl, tapping his pen harder and harder as he thought. As it were, he tapped his pen so hard that he lost his grip on it and it bounced off the hard surface of his desk and whacked the girl in question on the side of her head with an audible thwack!

Sasuke froze as she looked up slowly from the pen that was now lying on her desk and directly at him. He could just feel what was coming up next, like how dogs could sense the approach of impending natural disasters.

He was not disappointed.

'What the hell's your problem, Uchiha?!' Naruto yelled at him. Every head in the classroom turned to face them at her outburst, but she ignored them as she glared at Sasuke who glowered back.

'Is something wrong over there?' Kakashi asked mildly, looking up lazily from his trashy book. Stupid question.

'Why'd you throw your pen at me, teme?' Naruto snapped, chucking the pen at Sasuke and completely turning a deaf ear to her teacher.

'I did not throw my pen at you, dobe,' he growled, picking up his pen from where it had fallen to the ground.

'Did, too! You hit me on the head and it hurts, bastard!'

Sasuke rolled his eyes in exasperation. 'First of all, it was an accident, and secondly, suck it up. What're you, three years old?'

'Are you calling me a cry-baby?!'

'What do you think I'm calling you, moron?'

'You bastard – !'

'That's enough!' Kakashi snapped loudly and the two bickering teens looked up at him to see that he no longer looked bored, but stern and that his visible eye was narrowed at them. 'Detention, both of you.'

Naruto's jaw dropped open and Sasuke gaped at his teacher. Detention?

'Sensei, you can't –!' Naruto began to protest desperately, but the silver-haired man cut her off.

'Oh yes, I can, because you deserve it after that little show you just put on. I'm a lenient man, but you know that I do not tolerate disturbances during my class. And especially you, Sasuke,' he frowned at the raven-haired teen. 'As the class president, you're supposed to set a good example to other students. I never expected this from you! Naruto I can understand, but not you.'

He ignored Naruto's enraged cry of 'Hey! That's favouritism!'

Sasuke said nothing, but just stared at his teacher. He was both furious at Naruto for having landed him in such a situation and ashamed of himself. A detention? That would be the first black mark on his permanent record.

'Both of you meet me here after school,' Kakashi said with finality in his tone as he buried his nose once again in Icha Icha. 'You'll be having detention with me.'

'But – but, Kakashi-sensei –' Naruto stammered.

'One more word and you'll be having detention with Ibiki-sensei. Your choice.'

Naruto shut up at once and Sasuke grimaced. Oh yes, this was a Bad Day, indeed.

'Are you serious?' Naruto exclaimed in disbelief, gaping at Kakashi. A similar outburst was clawing to escape Sasuke's lips, but his dignity held him back.

'Yes, I'm perfectly serious,' Kakashi answered lightly, leaning against the doorframe of his classroom. 'Your punishment is to clean this room up from ceiling to floor. That includes the desks, chairs, cupboards and the blackboard. All the supplies you need are here.' He gestured at a pile of rags, old newspapers and two pairs of brooms, mops and buckets of water pushed against the wall. 'You have one hour and thirty minutes.'

'One and half hours to clean an entire room?' Naruto cried, waving her arms.

'Yes. After all, it is Friday so staying back late shouldn't be much of a problem. But if you like, I can always assign you to clean the toilets, or let Ibiki-sensei deal with you – whatever you like. I'm not so cruel.' He grinned cheekily at them. Naruto scowled in reply, but Sasuke merely grabbed a broom and began to sweep the floor. As degrading as this detention was, he knew it was hopeless to argue. Besides, the sooner he started, the sooner he could get out of the place.

'Good boy,' Kakashi turned to leave. 'I'll see you two later, then. And don't blow up the place while you're at it.'

Naruto heaved a great sigh as she watched the door close, but then she, too, got to work. However, she did not do it in silence like Sasuke. She grumbled throughout it all, muttering about being stuck in detentions with heartless bastards, and how she had missed a great opportunity of cornering Shikamaru and bribing him for something, and a whole lot more, displaying an extremely colourful vocabulary that rather impressed a grudging Sasuke. He would have to look up some of those swear words. Perhaps he could even use them on Itachi later!

However, her constant grousing began to grate on his nerves and fifty-seven minutes later, even his remarkable patience gave out and he rounded on her, snapping, 'Will you quit your whining already?'

Naruto glared at him from where she was scrubbing at the blackboard with a wet rag. 'What's it to you?'

'Your complaints are annoying. And if you haven't noticed, they're not helping you at all. Can't you just shut the hell up and work?'

'I'm complaining because it's your entire fault!'

'My fault? You were the one who started screeching like a harpy at me.'

'You threw your bloody pen at me, teme!'

'And I told you that was an accident, you moron!'

'Oh?' Naruto's voice was scathing now. 'And I suppose that what you did before that was an accident too, eh, bastard? Every little wrong thing the great Uchiha Sasuke does is always an accident, right?'

Sasuke bit back the retort that had been on the tip of his tongue and stared at her, a little taken aback by her words. What he had done before that? What was she...?

'Are you referring to the reason why you attacked me yesterday?' He asked in a low voice.

She merely snorted and turned back to her work, but Sasuke ploughed on. 'You were, weren't you? Well, why did you do it?'

Naruto shot him a dirty look over her shoulder, one that clearly said that he should know the answer to his own question, and began to turn her back on him again, but he dropped the mop he had been holding and stormed forwards. He grabbed her upper arm and, ignoring her outraged yell, forced her around so that she was facing him.

'Why did you punch me?' he growled, looking her in the eye.

'As if you don't know!' she scoffed.

'I don't know, damn it!' He was half-shouting now, on the verge of losing his last drop of patience. 'I have no idea why you punched and kneed me yesterday, and God help me, I want to know why you did it right now!'

'Because you made her cry, you goddamned bastard!' She yelled in his face and Sasuke stared at her, shocked and speechless. She pulled her arms out of his weakened grasp.

'I made her ... what are you talking about?'

'My friend, Sakura-chan,' Naruto growled in a low voice, 'you made her cry with those cruel words you said to her. Any of that ring a bell? Do you have any idea how hurt she was? She likes you so much and then you go and do that – ugh! You're such a heartless jerk, Uchiha Sasuke. God knows why that stupid fan club of yours worships the ground you walk on!' She pushed him away from her before reaching for the rag she had dropped and turned back to the board.

As for Sasuke, he was frozen to the spot, his eyes wide and staring. The proverbial hamster in his brain was running in its little wheel at full speed, trying to make sense of her words. The little cogs in his brain finally clicked together when his memories about that incident, which involved the afore-mentioned pink-haired girl, rose to the front of his mind and his jaw went slack.

'Are – you – serious?' he finally asked, his voice hoarse.

'Do I look like I'm kidding, teme?' Naruto was scowling at him again.

Sasuke shook his head slightly and leaned back against a desk, gaping at her incredulously. 'Damn it, I can't believe –'

'Can't believe what?' she interrupted harshly. 'Did you think that you can just break a girl's heart and walk away? Not on my watch, Uchiha! No one who hurts my precious people gets away just like that. You're lucky, you know. Had Sakura-chan cried more than she did, which was for twenty four freaking hours, I would've killed you and I wouldn't lose one drop of sleep over it!' The look Naruto was giving him now was the coldest, most hatred-filled one Sasuke had ever received. Her eyes shot pure loathing at him and her voice was filled with disgust and revulsion. 'You're a stone-hearted bastard, Uchiha Sasuke, and you don't even deserve the love that all the students and teachers in this school have for you! You don't give a damn about any of them, and why they care so much about a cold fish like you is beyond me!'

Cold, oppressive silence reigned over the classroom after she had finished. Sasuke said not a word and Naruto turned back to her work, pointedly disregarding him and no longer griping. He watched her as she mutely cleaned a desk. His face was expressionless and his eyes were blank, but his mind was in a turmoil. His thoughts were flying in a million different directions and he could not make head or tail of them, but Naruto's words rang in his ears incessantly, gradually blocking out the reflections until all he could hear were her cold accusations, over and over again.

He had never thought that that incident would ever come back to haunt him like this. After that little episode with Haruno Sakura, he had pushed the entire matter out of his mind and not spared it a second thought. And then, this girl whose name he had not even known until today had come up to him and thrown it all back into his face – literally. On top of all that, inexplicable feelings were rising within him: guilt, shame and hurt. Why should he feel culpable and ashamed when it had been that annoying, pink-haired fan girl who had been in the wrong? Why should he feel hurt that Uzumaki Naruto had accused him of being a heartbreaker and a called him a callous bastard? What was it to him what she thought of him?

But her words had sliced right through him and her anger had cut him deep. It did hurt and he could not fight it, perhaps because deep inside, he knew that what she had said was right, from a certain point of view at least. Sadly, his thoughts were still a blurred tornado within his mind, his brain was no longer working and he could not think of a way to defend himself, so Sasuke kept silent for the rest of detention, something that Naruto did not seem to mind in the least. She made no attempt at conversation, not even an insult, and did not badger him to get up off his ass and finish his part of their shared punishment. And when Kakashi-sensei appeared afterwards and let them off, she walked right past him without sparing him so much as a glance, for all the world as if he were nothing more than an insignificant part of the wall behind him.

For some reason, her indifference hurt him a lot more than her hurtful words.

24th July, Sunday

Naruto's wake up call on Sunday morning was a bucketful of ice-cold water that was mercilessly emptied onto her head, turning the pleasant dream she had been having of swimming in a lake of delicious every-flavour ramen into a suffocative nightmare of drowning in a waterfall (was drowning in a waterfall even possible? she later wondered). She shot up with a strangled yell only to discover that, one, she had fallen off her bed sometime during the night, and two, that her mother was standing over her, holding an empty bucket and laughing her head off.

Seriously, with a mother like Kushina, was it a wonder that Naruto was such a prankster? It ran in her blood, for God's sake!

So, she had started off her morning in a rather bad mood (especially when she had been forced to mop up her bedroom floor herself – talk about injustice!), but by the time she finished her breakfast, her spirits had lifted up and she was already planning her day. Hanging out with Sakura-chan was a no go as she had gone on a weekend vacation with her parents, and there were not many other people that Naruto spent her leisure time with. Thus, there was nothing else to do and her mind inevitably turned towards her pranks, which reminded her –

Ebisu-sensei's nosebleed tape! She still had not managed to put it up on the school website and she had to do it before she completely forgot or lost the video – which meant that visiting Nara Shikamaru was number one on today's agenda. He was the only she knew with an IQ high enough to hack into the school network. But she knew that he would not do something like that for free ... Hmm, what could she use to bribe him with?

Her mind was still pondering on that question as she walked to the front door, throwing a distracted good bye over her shoulder at her parents. She was just on the verge of forming a good plan when she threw the door open and all thoughts came to a rude standstill in her mind when she saw none other Uchiha Sasuke on her doorstep with his hand held up to ring the bell.

Uzumaki Naruto's words had haunted Sasuke all throughout the first half of the weekend until he could not hold himself back anymore. The shame and guilt had bubbled up inside him until it had become almost a physical pain. He had barely been able to catch a wink of sleep on Friday night. Finally, Sasuke had been forced to accept that his behaviour towards that Sakura girl had not been acceptable, no matter how righteously furious he had been towards her that day. He had had every right to take out his anger on her, but he had been a little too cruel towards her, he had to admit that.

That was not to say that he was letting her off of what she had done though. Haruno Sakura had invaded his very privacy in a way that, in Sasuke's books, was even worse than reading another person's mail – and that was a crime! First, she had somehow gotten her hands on his e-mail address and filled his inbox with messages of love and devotion and other such crap. At first he had ignored it, though he had been mystified as to how she had found out his personal e-mail address – no one outside of his family knew it! Sasuke had made sure of that.

However, as the days had passed, her messages had grown in number until they became impossible to disregard. He had finally given in and sent her a curt (but polite enough) message asking her to stop sending him emails. A lot of good that had done! He had been forced to change his account in the end, which had been, to put it in the words of a certain pine-apple headed someone, just plain "troublesome". Sasuke had thought that that was the end of the harassment, until he had gotten a phone call a few days later from none other than the pink-haired girl herself. That had been his breaking point. How in the world did she get his mobile number this time?!

He had honestly tried to ignore the calls as well, but all that had resulted in was a hundred text messages or more per day. It was really no surprise that he had finally snapped! What person would not when dealing with a girl who could not take an obvious hint? He had finally answered one of her desperate calls and let her know exactly what he had thought of her – which, needless to say, had not been very nice things. Alright, scratch that. They had been extremely mean and cruel things which had been fuelled by his anger and exasperation.

He had been far too furious by then to consider her feelings. Or maybe it had something to do with his daily interactions with his fan club that had led him to unconsciously believe over the years that they were sort of inhumane. Honestly, they acted like a bunch of screaming, drooling, violent barbarians! Was it his fault that he had forgotten that Haruno Sakura was human?


OK, so maybe it was his fault, just a little bit. That remorse and shame that were currently frying his intestines seemed proof enough of that. He had acted thoughtlessly that day and he now felt guilty because of what he had said to Sakura, all thanks to Little Miss Sunshine. And, because of the fact that he could have no peace of mind courtesy of all those guilt-ridden feelings within him, Sasuke had finally done the only think he could think of to do: leave his house ridiculously early that Sunday morning and head over to the dobe's home, which he had found out thanks to the extra privileges he got as Class President. Sasuke had instant access to the Information Section on the online school network; he had gotten hold of Naruto's address within the space of thirty seconds.

However, he had no idea what to say to her. He ruminated about it all the way to her house. It was a good thing that traffic was scarce on Sunday mornings, else his inattention to the road would have surely resulted in him totalling his expensive car. Unfortunately for him, his mind was still a total blank even when he finally drew up outside the small, white-washed house at last. What was he supposed to say to her? Sasuke had not thought of that when he had left his house earlier. He had done it on a whim – all he had known was that he had to talk to her about the whole Sakura-incident.

He could not turn back now; he was already here. He forced his legs to carry him to the front door and slowly raised his hand to ring the bell. Before he could press it though, a thought stopped him: surely, he did not have to talk to her right now, did he? He could always catch up with her at school, after he had figured out what to say to her. Where was the hurry? Certainly, he could tolerate a couple more days' of guilt –

Before he could finish the thought, the door suddenly opened, startling him, and the vague suggestions of returning home slowly went down the drain. Naruto was standing on the threshold, staring at him with a surprised look on her face. Ah, well, he could not run away now. Might as well as just wing it.

Naruto was the first to come to her senses and work her vocal cords: 'What the frickin' hell are you doing here?'

Well, that was a nice greeting – warm and welcoming.

Sasuke was tremendously glad that he was a quick thinker when the situation called for it. 'I want to talk to you.' There, that seemed harmless enough.

… Or maybe not.

'Talk?' she sneered at him. 'Are you sure you know how to do that, teme? I don't think I've ever really seen you having an actual conversation with anybody. Or am I someone good enough for you to have a talk with? Why, I feel so honoured, Sasuke-kun.' She put a lot of sarcastic emphasis on the suffix.

Sasuke tried very hard not to grind his teeth. Not only did this girl know exactly how to push his anger buttons, but her scathing words were cutting into him – again. Why did this weirdo have that effect on him? He had not given a damn about what anyone thought about him before, but this dumb blonde knew how to make him feel regret and sorrow.

That was not something Sasuke liked at all.

Nevertheless, he repressed his anger. A shouting match here would not do any good. 'It's about that incident with your ... friend,' he forced out through clenched teeth, trying to sound as courteous as he could.

'Oh? You mean Sakura-chan?' She raised her eyebrows coolly at him. 'What about it? There's nothing to talk about, Uchiha. You were being a complete asshole towards her and that's it!'

'Won't you at least give me a chance and listen to what I have to say?' he snapped, his patience thinning as it always did when he interacted with the blonde. When she merely glared at him, he added with some effort, 'Please … Naruto.' It was the first time he had addressed her by her name.

First time he had said "please" to a female, too – with the exception of his mother, of course.

She stared at him for a long moment, lips pressed tight in a hard line. 'Fine,' she finally muttered.

Five minutes later, both of them were walking in the small, local park in Naruto's neighbourhood. It had been Naruto's idea, since there was no way in hell that she would have invited him into her house (not only because she hated him, but because her parents would have had a field day, especially her mother who had been dying for her already sixteen-year-old tomboy daughter to bring home a boyfriend) and also because Sasuke had looked like he did not know how to start his "talk". Naruto had almost snorted at the sight. She had known that the guy did not know how to properly communicate with people!

She was growing impatient, now. Here she was, taking a walk with Uchiha Sasuke of all people, when she could be doing so many other things, like bribing Shikamaru for instance, and yet the guy had not even said a word yet. Naruto reluctantly decided to break the silence.

'Well, you wanted to talk, so start talking. I don't have all day.'

With what looked like a small grimace on his face, Sasuke halted and turned to face her. 'I wanted to say that … you were right … about what you said last Friday. I … shouldn't have said that stuff to Sakura. That was really harsh of me.'

Naruto's eyes widened slightly. 'Did you just say what I think you did? Did Uchiha Sasuke aka Irresistible Sex God of Konoha just admit that he did something wrong?'

Sasuke shot her a dirty look at the sarcasm in her tone. 'Don't push it, dobe. I'm saying that what I did was not right, aren't I? What else do you want me to say?'

'Hmm,' Naruto pretended to think about it. 'How about an apology?'

Sasuke rolled his eyes at her. 'Fine, I apologise. Satisfied?'

'Not to me, bastard! I'm not the one you insulted. Apologise to Sakura-chan!'

The raven-haired teen looked at her sourly. 'And what about the apology she owes me? Am I going to get that?'

'What're you –?'

'You've heard only Sakura's side of the story, Naruto,' he interrupted. 'Maybe you shouldn't make harsh judgements before you hear both sides of the tale.'

Naruto looked at him warily. 'Well, then, why don't you tell me your side of the story?'

Sasuke looked at her, and this time, his eyes were not as hard as they had been before. 'With pleasure,' he answered shortly before proceeding to recount what had truly happened with Sakura. Naruto listened with wide eyes as he told her what Sakura had done. A part of her mind did not want to believe that her friend would do something so low and cheap worthy of the most pathetic of fan girls, but she was well aware that Sakura was one of the ringleaders of Sasuke's fan club, so she knew that it was really quite probable. Also, there was something in the Uchiha's obsidian eyes that told her that he was not lying. His dark gaze bore into her eyes the entire time he talked and nothing in his tone suggested that he had rehearsed his words.

'So, tell me,' he said as he finished his tale, 'isn't that reason enough for me to lose my temper?'

Naruto said nothing. She could not argue with that point; he was correct. What Sakura had done was not right. 'But still,' she said, making a last attempt to defend her friend, 'you shouldn't have called her a "good-for-nothing, harpy-voiced, hormone-driven, salivating animal who can't recognise a hint even if it slaps you across your deformed face, which, by the way, is uglier than a mutant baboon's fat arse".'

Sasuke stared at her, obviously shocked that she could remember the exact words he had said to Sakura. Then, a look of guilt crossed his face and he averted his eyes. 'I know I shouldn't have. I already said that.'

'Because she really does like you –'

'Why does she like me?' he asked abruptly, cutting her off. Naruto looked up at him, slightly surprised at the sharp tone of his voice. 'Why does she like me?' he repeated. 'You're her friend, you would know. Tell me why she drools over me everyday.'

'Because …' Naruto began uncertainly, still taken aback at the sudden change in direction of their conversation, 'because you're … I dunno … handsome, I guess. You're handsome and you come from a respectable family and you're one of the smartest people in school and …' she frowned slightly, trying to remember more reasons as to why Sakura had always claimed to love her "Sasuke-kun" so much, 'you're the class president and you're popular and …' she trailed off.

Sasuke nodded curtly at her. 'Exactly. That's why she claims to like me. That's why all of those pathetic girls claim to be in love with me everyday. But you tell me, Naruto, are those any reasons to like a person? Because I'm handsome and rich and popular? Should anyone like a person for those reasons alone?'

She gazed at him, wondering what he was trying to say. Slowly, she shook her head no.

'No,' he agreed. 'But those are the reasons why your Sakura and the rest of those girls run after me. None of them truly likes me. They don't know who I am, and as long as they don't know the real me and doesn't like me for who I am, then what they feel for me is just pure attraction and nothing more. And that, Naruto, is the reason why I have never given any of those shallow girls a chance, including Sakura.'

He gave her an unreadable look. 'I know that you think I'm a heartless bastard for never paying attention to those girls, but maybe you should look at the situation from my point of view as well. Then perhaps you would see that those girls are in the wrong, too.'

With that he turned his back on her and abruptly left, back towards her house where he had parked his Mercedes. Naruto stared after him, and for the first time, she was rendered speechless. She could not think of anything to say and barely registered his words when he called over his shoulder,

'And don't worry, dobe. If it makes you happy, I'll apologise to your friend tomorrow. But I'm not going to forgive her unless she apologises to me as well.'

25th July, Monday

Sasuke could not believe that he was actually doing this – walking up to Uzumaki Naruto and Haruno Sakura first thing on a Monday morning to apologise to the strawberry-haired girl. But he was a man of his word as well as honour so there was no question of chickening out. He was glad, though, that it was early enough that the hallways were not very crowded yet – less people to witness him saying "sorry". If any of the students that worked on that piece of trash they called the school newspaper were to see him doing this, it would make front page headlines.

Just like him getting bitch-slapped had made the Hot News of the previous edition. Sasuke had not checked, but it was obvious. How else could the news have reached every single student in the school so fast?

As he reached the duo, Sasuke took a deep breath. Though he knew that he had been a jerk, he was still not happy with this. After all, he deserved an apology, too, from Sakura. Said girl looked up at his arrival and her eyes widened with surprise at first before a smile broke across her face and she greeted him with a shy and stammered 'Good morning, Sasuke-kun.' He almost raised an eyebrow at that – shouldn't she be angry at him after what he had said to her?

It was Naruto's greeting, though, that he was looking forward to, though why that was so, he did not know. The blonde met his gaze squarely and, though a look of slight shock flickered behind her blue irises (why was that, though? He wondered. He had told her that he would apologise) she did not say a word to him. However, the look she gave him was not hostile, and though it was not exactly friendly, it was warmer than the ones she used to bestow upon him. For some reason, that gave him a lot of encouragement.

'Haruno-san,' he began in a clipped but courteous tone, 'I came here to apologise to you.'

Sakura stared at him with her big, jade eyes. 'Apologise ...?'

'For – for what I said to you that day ... over the phone.' He paused slightly to get a grip on his voice. He wanted to be sincere, but he did not want to show his guilt through his tone. 'That was utterly uncalled for and it was very wrong of me and I am sorry that I hurt your feelings.'

'Sasuke-kun ... I ... no, you don't have to –'

He silenced her with a firm, but not unkind, look. 'That's all I wanted to say,' he said shortly. He glanced at Naruto who was watching with a look in her eyes that he could not identify. She did not speak to him so he turned to walk away, but stopped when Sakura called to him.

'Look, I ...' she began nervously when Sasuke looked back at her. 'I ... I should probably say sorry, too.'

He raised an eyebrow at her, but inside, he was amazed. He had not expected the girl to apologise to him.

'I guess I went a little ... well, overboard with the, um, e-mails and stuff.' She avoided his eyes. 'I guess I just felt ... desperate,' she finished in a whisper.

Desperate? Sasuke repressed a snort. Well, wasn't that the understatement of the century?

'How'd you get my e-mail and number?' he asked abruptly, seizing the chance to figure out that particular mystery so that he could prevent any more rabid fan girls from exploiting his privacy. The last thing he wanted was to change his e-mail account and/or his phone number again, which was just a pain in the ass to put it simply.

Sakura was frowning slightly now, as if trying to remember something. 'I dunno. There was this man that gave them to me.'

'A man?' Sasuke stared at her, bamboozled. What man that he knew would give a high school girl his personal number and e-mail? 'Who was it?'

'I don't know who he was, actually. I met him outside the school grounds a couple months ago. He told me that you were,' Sakura suddenly blushed but pressed on when Sasuke looked at her pointedly to continue, 'that you were looking for a ... girlfriend and ... that I'm the sort of girl you'd want ... and if I wanted, he would ... give me your number and ...' she could not continue and stared at the floor, cheeks flushed with embarrassment and shame.

The dark-haired teen almost had smoke coming out of his ears by then. There was only one man that he could think of that would do such a thing to him.

'What – did – he – look – like?' he grounded out through his teeth and Sakura looked frightened at the sudden anger that he was exuding. Naruto was looking at him warningly now, but this time, he could not spare any attention to her. Sasuke glared at Sakura when she did not immediately answer. 'What the hell did he look like?!' he snapped.

'He – he – had long, black hair,' Sakura stammered. 'Dark eyes and – and he had a red convertible – and ... he sort of looked like you, but he also had two weird lines on his face and ...'

Sasuke was no longer listening. He turned around and, completely forgetting about the two girls, began to storm away, cursing the fact that there were hours to go before he could leave school.

Because, God help him, when he got home, Itachi was going to die, damn it!

26th July, Tuesday

'Who's the unfortunate bastard that's crawled up your pretty ass and died this time?' was Naruto's crude greeting for Sasuke as she sat down at the empty desk beside him in their fourth period History class that they shared together. He glanced at her, surprised that she had chosen to sit next to him when there were other available seats. Before he could question her decision, though, his mind computed what she had asked and the dark thundercloud descended over his features again.

Naruto raised her eyebrows at the angry look on his face. 'Whoa, someone's really been chewing you out, eh? Who's the bad guy, then?'

'My brother,' Sasuke grunted with a grimace.

He was still furious at what Itachi had done. Thanks to him and his sadistic idea of a joke, Sasuke had had to endure three weeks of endless junk mail and phone calls, and gotten himself a black eye and a blow to the walnuts. What had made him even madder was that, sadly, his brilliant plan to murder his brother had not quite worked out. The moment he had gotten home yesterday, he had spent the first ten minutes cursing Itachi to hell and back in an uncharacteristically loud voice while his brother had just lounged lazily on the sofa, watching Sasuke rant with a bored look on his face. And just when Sasuke had been about to execute his terrific murder plan of wrangling Itachi's neck and hanging him upside-down with his intestines, their parents had come into the room.

If there was anything that Sasuke hated that interfered with his battles against his brother, it was his parents – because that meant instant failure for him. Sure enough, as soon as their mother had stopped Sasuke from jumping Itachi, the older had woven a gag-worthy tale of sweet-talk about how he had "only tried to help Sasu-chan get himself a little girlfriend because, poor thing, he's been alone for far too long." Sasuke would have decapitated him on the spot, parents be damned, but at that moment, his mother had hugged Itachi with a wail of how he was such a sweet, caring brother to little Sasu-chan and that she loved him so very much.

It had not improved his mood a notch when his father had merely rolled his eyes and grunted at him to be more "grateful" to Itachi.

Oh, yes, he should be so grateful about having a sadistic bastard for a brother whose joy in life consisted of nothing but pissing him off. Very grateful, indeed.

'Oi, teme, you there?' Naruto waved a hand in front of his eyes, snapping him out of his gloomy thoughts. Sasuke glanced at her to see that she looked both curious and slightly amused as she gazed at him. 'Daydreaming about killing your brother?' Her lips twitched up slightly and Sasuke realised that it was the first time he had ever seen Naruto smile – at him, at least. 'I do that, too, when people piss me off,' she continued conversationally. 'I especially dream about killing off Ebisu-sensei – he's so irritating, that closet pervert! But, no matter, he'll soon be getting exactly what he deserves! Heh, bribing Shikamaru wasn't that hard at all.'

Sasuke stared at her, wondering just what the hell she was talking about, but decided not to ask. Instead, he pursued the real question in his mind, 'Why are you here?'

'Eh? What do you mean? I'm here for History class, duh! Though I'd really be more than happy to pull a bunk –'

'No, dobe, I meant why are you here sitting next to me?'

A strange expression crossed her face before she quickly schooled it into a mildly annoyed one. 'Is that a crime now, sitting next to Uchiha Sasuke?'

Sasuke looked at her irritably. He was not in the mood for her sarcasm. 'I was under the impression that you loathed me with every fibre of your being,' he answered in an equally satirical tone. 'Why'd you decide to join me all of a sudden?'

Naruto turned her face away from him and said nothing.

The dark-eyed brunet was losing his patience now. 'I'm still waiting for that answer, dobe.'

'Because I wanted to, alright?' she snapped at him, still averting her eyes from his.

Sasuke's eyes widened a bit and he gaped at her, dumbfounded by her blunt reply. That was not what he had expected to hear. Also, he could tell that there was a lot more to that than just wanting, but he knew better than to push her. Instead, he turned his attention away from her and tried to concentrate on the lesson when Shizune-sensei finally arrived, but his mind continued to reflect on her words and his astonishment did not decrease.

His surprise positively skyrocketed when she followed him to the cafeteria for lunch after the lesson and joined him at his table wordlessly. Sasuke stared at her as she casually ate a cup of instant ramen from across him, completely turning a blind eye towards the ferocious looks his fan girls were shooting at her from all over the cafeteria. She did not say anything to him, so he, too, kept his mouth closed. But, once the shock gradually subsided, Sasuke had to admit that he did not mind sharing a table with Naruto. It sort of felt pleasant, even, and though he could not hear her thoughts, he got the feeling that she shared the sentiment.

And thus it was through their silence that a tentative bond began to form between Uchiha Sasuke and Uzumaki Naruto.

2nd August, Tuesday

'Whatcha doing, Sasuke?' Naruto sang, plopping down in the empty chair next to him. It had been one week since she had abruptly joined him for lunch and continued to do so over the following days, and now they were in the library during study period where Sasuke was trying to finish his work on the school network, updating the section on the doings and meetings of the Student Council.

His voice was irate as he answered her without taking his eyes off his laptop screen, 'Go away, dobe.'

'Aw, teme,' she mock-whined. 'I thought you liked hanging out with me?' She looked beseechingly at him and he pointedly avoided looking at her eyes. Naruto's version of the puppy dog look was unfairly effective thanks to her large, cerulean blue eyes which could melt even the hardest of hearts – that included Sasuke's as well. He had found that out the hard way when she had used that most lethal weapon in her arsenal to persuade him to treat her to ramen a few days ago. He had emerged from the ramen stand with empty pockets and mentally scarred for life at having witnessed how Naruto had downed seven bowls of miso and beef ramen within a period of six minutes – without the use of chopsticks. The dobe had no table manners to speak of!

'Sasuke, c'mon, talk to me,' she griped now, tapping at his shoulder. He shrugged her hand off.

'I'm busy.'

'I'm bored!'

'Go bother someone else.'

'There's no one else in here! Sakura-chan has a class right now and the only other person here is that Gaara dude.'

'So, go and chew his brain out.'

'He'll kill me if I do that! Do you have any idea how scary that raccoon-freak is?!'

'Yes, I do, since he just overheard you and is coming for you with a scythe right now.'

'What?!' Naruto screeched and looked over her shoulder. The red-haired, stoic teen in question had his nose buried in a tome that looked scarily like a voodoo book. He did not appear to have even realised that there were two other people in the library with him.

Naruto turned back to a smirking Sasuke who had finally looked away from his monitor. 'That was not funny, you bastard!'

He merely chuckled at her before turning back to the laptop. After a week spent in her hyperactive, joyous company, Sasuke no longer felt surprised at himself at moments like this when he found himself teasing the blonde girl. She had opened up a rather playful side of him, one that he had not even known existed. He found it easier to smile and joke when she was around. True, his teasing was more sarcastic and sardonic than outright fun (blame Itachi's influence for that), but it was a lighter side of him, nevertheless, and he found out that he rather liked it. Naruto seemed to like it, too – except when his jokes were aimed at her.

'Don't laugh at me, teme,' she grumbled, turning away and pouting in a manner that Sasuke found to be rather cute. He ignored the flush that threatened to suffuse his cheeks when he realised what he had just thought.

With another smirk at her, he directed his attention back to his work. However, three seconds later it morphed into a frown before changing abruptly into a look of shock and incredulity. He stared at the screen with bulging eyes. He could not believe what he was seeing.

'What's up with you?' Naruto raised her eyebrows at him before leaning forward to peer over his shoulder. Her eyes widened momentarily before she burst into laughter. 'About time that that video was put up!' she cackled.

Sasuke gaped at her in disbelief. 'You mean, you put this up here?' He pointed at the screen which currently showed a certain teacher of theirs standing in front of a poster of a naked girl taped to the blackboard in a classroom, and getting a nosebleed worthy of being mentioned in the Guinness Book of World Records.

Naruto snorted, still laughing. 'No, I just taped it. Shikamaru put it up on the web. Heh, Ebisu-sensei! Didn't I tell you he's a closet pervert? Now everyone will know the truth!'

The raven-haired boy shook his head slightly. 'Shikamaru put this up on the school website?!'

'Yep. All I had to do was to bribe him a bit and he agreed to hack into the school network. Che, about time, too! That lazy ass! I told him to do it a week ago!'

'Bribe ...? And what was your offer?'

'To leave him alone and not say another word to him till the first snowfall of winter,' she grinned proudly.

Sasuke just stared at her. Uzumaki Naruto was truly unlike any girl he had ever met. Her mind worked on a completely different tangent than most people, from her fashion sense to her very personality. He had only gotten to know her for a week, and during that time he had learnt that she was the definition of tomboy, about her parents, her unique lifestyle, the widely-varied pranks she had pulled on numerous people, the strange ways in which her brain worked and that she had a fox-like dog that she called Kyuubi. All that was barely enough for him to claim that he knew her, but they were enough for him to know that she was a very unusual girl – yet she still managed to surprise him with her bizarre ways even when he was expecting them.

'You're really something, Naruto,' he finally muttered and she leaned back in her seat smugly.

'I know.'

12th August, Friday

The days passed and Sasuke found himself growing more and more used to Naruto's company, and more importantly, Naruto herself. Though she excelled at annoying the wits out of him, he enjoyed having her around. Warmth would fill him up whenever Naruto took the initiative and sat down beside him in class, or joined him for lunch or study period or even walked with him through the school hallways. He was well aware of how his notorious fan club was reacting to this, but he did not care. He also knew that rumours were beginning to circulate about their friendship, but he did not care about that either (though Naruto had blushed like crazy the first time she heard the gossip). All he cared about was keeping up this relationship with the blonde, because being a bit of a loner meant that he had never really shared a friendship like this with other people; but she had changed all that. Naruto made him want to have company, but more pressingly, it was her company that he craved.

Often, he wondered why that was. What was it about her that made him like her so much? Some time passed before an answer occurred to him: it was because Naruto actually saw him. She did not see good-looking and rich boy Uchiha Sasuke like the rest of Konoha High did, but she saw Sasuke – the real person that he was behind his stoic mask. She shared her life with him and learned about his own with genuine curiosity and enthusiasm. He found himself talking about his family and personal life with her and sharing his secrets (including the one where Itachi's gift for his seventh birthday had been the Ultimate Ripper Wedgie of All-Round Mortification – Naruto had cracked up like a hyena at that), and he intuitively knew that she would hold onto them and not spread them around like any other fan girl would. Naruto was different and that was why he wanted her around.

But why did she want him around? That question had no answer as Naruto had refused to reply that day during History class when he had first asked it, but it had never left his mind and as more time passed, Sasuke began to grow impatient. Finally, he decided that he had given her enough time and decided to ask again.

They had just finished a movie at the local cinema to which Naruto had enthusiastically invited him to come with a bunch of her friends. Kiba, Shikamaru, Shino, Chouji, Ino, Hinata, Neji, Lee and Sakura had all looked very surprised when they had seen him arrive with Naruto, but none of them had commented on it, and all acted like Sasuke went to movies with them every Friday. They came out of the cinema, joking and laughing about how the film had been one of the wackiest ever created and the actors had been living versions of your normal Hollywood zombies. Even Sasuke was smiling as he followed the group downtown where they planned to have a huge pizza banquet.

As the gang continued onwards, Sasuke and Naruto fell to the rear of the group. The blonde was choking back her laughter as she watched Rock Lee trying once again to win Sakura's affections. Sasuke smiled, too, but it was more at the sight of the grin on her face than at Sakura's attempts to fend off the green beast.

'Thanks for inviting me, Naruto,' he said. 'The movie sucked big time, but I had fun.'

Naruto laughed. 'Yep, lamest movie ever! But, I'm really glad you came, too, Sasuke. It wouldn't have been the same without you.'

'You really like hanging out with me, dobe?' he asked, seizing the opening to ask her the question he had been dying to ask for the past few weeks.

'Can't you tell, teme?' she asked mischievously.

'Well, will you finally tell me the reason for it?'

'Huh? What do you mean?'

'I mean,' he lowered his voice so that the rest of their friends would not hear, 'why do you like being with me? You never did tell me why you suddenly chose to hang out with me at school and at lunch. You just started doing it out of the blue. I'm not complaining,' he added quickly, 'but I am curious.'

Naruto was silent for a long minute as they quietly followed their laughing friends. Sasuke watched her silently, waiting expectantly. Finally, Naruto seemed to gather her thoughts. 'I guess ... it was my way of saying sorry,' she mumbled.


'Yeah. Because, you know, you were right that day when you told me that I shouldn't make harsh judgements about a person without hearing both sides of the tale. I lost control after learning what you said to Sakura-chan, but I didn't stop to see whether she had done something wrong, too. So ... yeah, I shouldn't have acted like that.

'And then later on when you came up to me on your own and admitted that you'd been cruel to her and agreed to apologise to her ... well, I felt sort of bad, ya know. I mean, I'd called you a heartless bastard and all, but you apologised to her so ... I guess that meant that you weren't so heartless, after all. And I thought that maybe I had been wrong about you being such a cold fish. That maybe I should give you a chance...

'That's why I sat with you in class that day, Sasuke. I was trying to apologise, but I didn't know how to. So, I just went on hanging out with you, trying to think of a way to let you know that I was sorry, but then I began to learn more about you and I realised that you really weren't the person I thought you were. You're kinda cool, actually, Sasuke, and I liked you so I wanted to spend more time with you ... But you're still an expressionless bastard for the most part,' she added with a sudden mischievous smile directed at him, 'but you're not heartless. Sorry I called you that.'

Sasuke looked at her silently, still digesting her words. Her words were warming and flattering, and he could almost feel his heart growing and pulsing with happiness in his chest. A small, gentle smile crossed his face. 'It's OK,' he murmured, looking away from her. 'And thanks ... for letting me know.'

'And, Sasuke? I'm also really sorry about ... you know ...' she pointed at the now-healed eye she had punched and glanced down at a certain spot on the front of his black jeans before quickly looking away with a hot flush on her cheeks.

Sasuke could not help but smirk slightly at that. 'Yeah, you should be sorry about that,' he said, trying to sound indignant. 'It really hurt, you know. But you sure can land a good blow – for a girl. I'll give you that much. I couldn't walk straight that day!'

'Sorry,' she mumbled again, sounding really sincere. 'Um, you're OK, now, right? I mean, you can still continue the Uchiha line and all?' She was trying to joke about it, but he could see the guilt in her eyes.

'Well,' Sasuke said, pretending to contemplate her question. He could feel that familiar playfulness building up inside him. 'I don't really know about that and the doctors couldn't tell either. I think that I'll have to experiment a bit to know for sure.' He shot her a suggestive smirk. 'Wanna be my guinea pig?'

It took a long moment for Naruto to catch his meaning. 'Pervert!' she hissed accusingly, but the furious blush and embarrassment on her face ruined her indignant tone. Sasuke turned away, chuckling.

The rest of the evening passed away quickly. The gang of friends had an enormous pizza feast at a famous pizza parlour and they split up as they headed for home. Sasuke offered to walk Naruto home. Normally, he would have just dropped her off in his car, but since they had gone to the cinema as a group, he had not brought his Mercedes. The two of them fell into a compatible silence as they walked along the streets of Konoha under the twilight sky. The stars twinkled out one by one and darkness began to descend on them. They had almost reached the Uzumaki household when Sasuke suddenly grabbed Naruto by the hand and yanked her into a small side alley between two houses.

'The hell, teme –?!'

'Shut up!' he hissed, peering cautiously around the brick wall at the street. Puzzled and slightly irritated, Naruto peered over his shoulder and saw a group of giggling girls walking down the opposite street. Sasuke slipped back further into the shadows, pulling Naruto with him.

'Fan girls,' he explained when Naruto looked questioningly at him.

She snorted in amusement. 'Are you telling me that you're afraid of a bunch of teenage girls?'

Sasuke scowled at her. 'No, it's just that that particular group consists of the rabid fan girls. Utterly uncontrollable.'

'Damn, teme, you make them sound like a bunch of animals!'

'Sometimes, I do wonder if they're fully human,' he answered bluntly.

'That's so mean, Sasuke!'

'You've seen the way they act, dobe. Can you blame me?'

The bunch of laughing girls soon disappeared around the corner and the two friends headed back out into the street.

'You know, Sasuke,' Naruto said thoughtfully as they made their way towards her little white-washed house, 'before I got to know you, I always wondered why you ignored your fan club. I mean, it's every boy's dream! You could've gotten any girl you wanted, but you didn't show any interest. You do know that a lot of people in school think that you swing the other way?' She raised her eyebrows at him.

'Yes, I know,' he answered with a derisive snort. 'And I also know that I am perfectly straight. Just because I don't go gaga over every girl I see doesn't mean that I swing the other way.'

'Riiight,' Naruto drawled. 'Well, if anyone asked my opinion, I'd say that you don't swing either way!'

'Say what?'

'Really, you have no interest in anybody! You sure you're not asexual?'

He stared at her, wondering if she was being really serious. 'Yes, I'm sure, dobe.'

'Then why haven't you ever had a girlfriend yet?' Naruto demanded. They were standing right in front of her door now, but she made no move to go in.

'You know why, Naruto. I already told you what I think of those girls in Konoha High. They're not my type at all.'

'Then what is your type of woman?'

Sasuke fell silent, wondering how they had ended up talking about this, and thinking about her question. His type of woman? Sasuke had never really thought of that. He had only known that almost every girl he had encountered ever since he had begun his teenage years had been annoying, shrill and drooling. It had always been the fan girls that had approached him. If he had to choose his type, it would be the exact opposite of them. Someone completely different from them, someone who would like him for what he was, someone that he could talk to, someone whose company he enjoyed, someone with whom he could share his thoughts without any taboos, someone like ... Naruto ...

His heart rate accelerated when the realisation hit him like Naruto's punch all those days ago. Naruto was the only he had ever met that fit the "my type of woman" category. She was the only one who had ever managed to spike his interest. No one else had made such a great impression on him. Only Naruto ...

'Why – why are you staring at me like that?'

Sasuke blinked and realised that Naruto was looking at him with large, puzzled eyes that were filled with embarrassment. She was blushing under his intense gaze. Sasuke had not even realised that he had been staring.

Seeing her blush brought back a memory from long ago, back when he had been thirteen and Itachi had tried to give him "love advice". The fact that he had been at the prime of his adolescence had driven him to actually listen to his older brother as he drew out a long list of dating tips (that Itachi might have actually dated girls was a positively scary thought!). Some of them had been the Rules of Seduction, which included looking a girl in the eye without breaking eye contact for a prolonged period of time. 'A simple technique like that can make any girl melt,' Itachi had assured him. Afterwards he had gone on to detail some of the more ... mature stuff that could be done with a girl. Sasuke had punched him across the jaw at that point to shut him up, but it seemed that his brother had been right about that particular technique. Naruto was certainly blushing like mad under the look he was giving her.

A slow smile began to spread across his face as he watched her squirm uncomfortably, her beautiful blue eyes filling with more embarrassment. He decided that he quite liked it that he could make her feel all shy and adorable like that. And since she fell perfectly into his type of woman category...

With a predatory look in his eyes, Sasuke slowly advanced forwards. Her eyes widened and Naruto instinctively backed away. Big mistake. Her back hit the door and she froze as Sasuke took the opportunity to trap her between it and his body by placing both hands on the door on either side of her head.

'Sa – Sasuke, what are you doing?!'

Smirking slightly at the sight of her tenseness, he stepped even closer so that his torso was almost touching her body. He heard her breath hitch at the intimacy.

'OK, now you're really scaring me –'

'You,' Sasuke cut across her smoothly, 'talk way too much, dobe.' And he closed the distance between them and kissed her full on the lips. She froze under his touch and he took the chance to slip an arm around her waist and pull her against him. He let his other hand run down her arm sensually as he moved his mouth over hers tenderly, nibbling and sucking at her moist lips.

Naruto trembled slightly as he stroked her back, but then she tentatively began to kiss back, her hands coming up to rest on his chest. Sasuke smirked inwardly when he felt her respond and he parted her lips gently with his own and deepened the kiss. It was a long time before he finally pulled away, breathing hard and feeling exhilarated. Naruto gazed up at him with dazed eyes, panting slightly. Finally, the cat let go of her tongue.

'What – you – why did you ... what was ... kiss – why ...?'

With another slow, seductive smile, he leaned forwards again and, revelling in the feel of her shiver, breathed in her ear, 'Interpret that any way you want.' He let his lips graze her cheek as he pulled back.

'Good night, dobe.' With a satisfied smile and a bounce in his step, Sasuke walked away. He waited patiently for the outburst that was sure to come.

He did not have to wait long.

'Teme! That was ... that was my ... first kiss ...'

15th August, Monday


The blonde leaped almost three feet into the air in surprise and almost banged her head against her locker door. With fear in her eyes, she whirled around, ready to bolt if it was –

'Oh, Sakura-chan!' she breathed a sigh of relief and sagged against the row of lockers.

The pink-haired girl was looking at her with concern. 'Are you alright, Naruto?'

'Of course I am!' she exclaimed with more than just a hint of hysteria in her voice. 'Why wouldn't I be?

Sakura gave her a look. 'Maybe because you've been acting weird all day, looking over your shoulder all the time and jumping at the smallest noise? You've been acting like the Grim Reaper's been after your blood ever since this weekend. Did something happen?'

'Of course not,' Naruto answered, trying to sound casual. 'I've just been –'

An angry shout cut her off and both girls looked around at the source of the noise. Shikamaru and his long-time girlfriend, Sabaku no Temari, were standing at the end of the hallway, having another –

'Lover's spat,' Sakura muttered, shaking her head at the sight. Naruto watched with bemusement as Temari stormed at her boyfriend while Shikamaru watched her with an expression that plainly said, 'Troublesome.' She had always thought that he had a lot of guts, going out with Temari. Not only was she a tough girl, but she was also the older sister of the ever-so-feared Gaara. Naruto wondered what strings the lazy guy had pulled to avoid being pulverised by that red-head.

Sakura turned away with a roll of her eyes back to Naruto. 'Anyway, Ino just showed me a video of Ebisu-sensei put up on our school website. You wouldn't have anything to do with that, would you, Naruto?'

She did not answer; her eyes were still locked on the arguing couple. 'Why do they do that?' she murmured, almost to herself. 'They have a fight like this at least three times a week! They're so different, but they're still together ... Why do they do that?'

Her pink-haired friend looked a little taken aback at her question. 'I don't know, Naruto ... maybe it's because love is the most important thing in a relationship ...' Sakura glanced back at Shikamaru and Temari thoughtfully. 'They are very different, but maybe that is why they love each other. They trust each other. And if you have that love and trust, you can make it through any obstacles, right? I think that's why those two have been together for so long.' She smiled slightly. 'They fight a lot, yes, but I think they make an amazing match.'

And Naruto, as she watched Shikamaru say something to Temari at which she froze for a moment before she threw her arms around his neck and kissed him, had to agree with Sakura.

But then her eyes landed on a familiar figure with black, duck-butt hair heading down the hallway towards her and, suppressing a screech, she grabbed her bag and took off down the hallway at a speed that would have shamed Speedy Gonzalez, yelling over her shoulder to Sakura, 'I'm late for class! See you later!'

Sakura watched her go with surprise. 'Since when have you cared about being punctual?'

Naruto had been avoiding him.

At first, the childishness of that had amused Sasuke, but when she had refused to answer his calls all throughout the weekend, that temporary amusement had evaporated. First he had grown nervous that she hated him after that little kiss (which really made no sense. She had kissed him back, for heaven's sake!), then a little worried that she might not be well (but her mother had told him that she was "out with friends" when he had finally gone over to her house on Sunday), and then he just felt angry that she was on full out Avoid the Uchiha Mode. He did not know why she was doing it, but the least she could do was answer her stupid mobile phone! Could she at least not do him the little honour of letting him know why she was running away from him?

Thus, Sasuke was not in a good mood when he entered Konoha High on Monday morning. All the happiness that he had gained into his system from that first kiss with Naruto had all gone, leaving nothing behind but a sour taste in his mouth. And that taste had turned bitter when all his attempts of talking to the blonde during school had failed. She sat as far away from him as she could during the classes they shared together, the lunch hour had passed by with Naruto sitting at a distant table wedged between Kiba and Lee, and there had been no sign of her during study period. Sasuke had not even been able to talk to her in the hallways; she bolted the moment she caught sight of him and Sasuke's patience had all but run out.

As a last ditch effort, he decided to capture her after school. He was going to make her talk to him even if he had to gag and bind her and take her to his house and dump her in front of Itachi! Oh, yes, he did have rope and duct tape in his bag. Sasuke had suspected that he would have to resort to desperate measures when she heard gone completely missing in action over the weekend and he had come prepared. She could run and hide, but not forever – sooner or later, she would be in Uchiha Sasuke's unyielding hands!

So, after the bell rang, Sasuke stood leaning against the side of the main building in the shadows, behind a bunch of low chest-high bushes. He knew that Naruto came this way and left from the side gate to go home. He forced himself to keep patient and calm as he watched the campus empty out slowly, but even after the stragglers had finally left, there was no sign of the dobe. Sasuke began to grow nervous. Had she decided to leave through the main gate, today of all days?

Before he could start cursing himself, though, he heard the sound of feet crunching over the grass. The sound was headed his way. Slowly, he lowered himself into a crouch and waited. Barely a minute later, someone walked past the bushes. Sasuke peered over them slightly and caught a glimpse of spiky blonde hair that gleamed like spun gold. Hn, obviously she had waited in school until she thought that he had left.

Guess again, dobe.

In one swift motion, he leapt forward and grabbed her around the waist, clamping a hand over her mouth to muffle her yell of shock. He pulled her behind the bushes and pushed her against the wall, spinning her around so that she was facing him and manoeuvring his arm so that his hand remained firmly on her mouth.

Her eyes widened when she saw who it was and she began to shriek something against his palm and struggle, but Sasuke pinned her body against the wall with his own and pressed his hand harder against her mouth. 'Yell all you like,' he growled at her, a dark look on his face, 'but it's only you and I here, Naruto. No one's going to hear you scream.'

Naruto's eyes widened even more and he supposed that his last words must have spooked her a bit. But he was not going to say that he knew that the Newspaper Club hung around after school for sometime, now, was he?

Naruto stopped struggling and finally fell silent. She watched him warily as he finally pulled his hand away. 'You've been avoiding me,' he accused before she could get a word out. 'This weekend, I know that you weren't sick or out with friends or any of that shit. I don't know why you refused to answer my calls, or made your mother lie to me or just pretended that you'd disappeared off the face of the earth, but I think that as your friend at least, that I deserve an explanation for the way you've treated me, don't you agree?'

'Sasuke, I ... I wasn't avoiding you –' she stopped at the angry look he gave her.

'I'm sure,' he said derisively, 'that you sitting as far away from me as humanly possible during classes, and running away faster than the Tasmanian Devil whenever you saw me today do not count as avoiding me in the least.'

Naruto winced at his harsh tone. 'Sasuke – I ... OK, so I was avoiding you, but please, let me explain...'

He stepped away from her so that she was no longer pinned to the wall and Naruto almost stumbled. 'That's what I'm here for, Naruto,' Sasuke said coolly, ignoring the fact that his hand had automatically reached out to steady her when she had nearly lost her balance. He looked expressionlessly at her with his arms folded, waiting. Naruto winced again at seeing his stoic mask – she really had hurt his feelings.

'Look, Sasuke,' she began carefully, 'I was avoiding you because ... well, I've never done this sort of thing before. I've never even kissed a guy until you kissed me last Friday and ... well, I was ... scared, OK. I didn't know if I wanted this or if this is the right thing. I mean, we're so different and I ... I just didn't know what to thin, what to do! I got scared! I didn't mean to hurt you, Sasuke ...' Her voice softened, 'and I'm really sorry about that ...'

He looked emotionlessly at her. 'You got scared because you're new to this?'

She nodded silently.

The aloof mask held for a moment longer, but then it wilted and was replaced by a soft, slightly chastising look. 'Dobe,' he shook his head, 'it was my first kiss, too.'


He smirked slightly. 'Remember what I told you about never having found my type of woman? Obviously, I've never been with a girl till now, and you're the first person who's ever fitted into my type of woman description so ...' He looked intensely at her and she went red.

'But you know, the least you could've done was talk to me.' He frowned at her. 'You could've just let me know that you needed time to think instead of running away.'

'I know, I know, but I got scared ...'

'What about now?' he asked abruptly. 'Are you still scared? Or have you decided if you want this or ... not?' His voice caught on the last word.

Naruto bit her lip, thinking. Was she still scared? Yes, a little bit, but Sasuke was new to this, too, right? So, what was her decision? Was this the right thing? Naruto contemplated on the question. Her thoughts led towards Shikamaru and Temari – an odd couple that was a perfect match. Weren't Sasuke and herself sort of like them? Different, but still got along in a way...? Was it possible that they could make it work?


Did she want this, then?

Naruto looked up at Sasuke who was waiting for her answer. He was trying to look indifferent, but she could see the nervousness in his eyes. He really did like her. The thought filled her heart with pleasant warmth. No body had ever wanted her, but Sasuke did. For reasons that she could not fathom, he wanted to be with her ... Did she feel the same way about him...?

She remained silent for a moment more before she made up her mind.

'Sasuke ... I think I've decided what I want ...'

He looked apprehensively at her. 'And that would be...?' He was still trying to sound airy and unconcerned.

Naruto hesitated for a moment, but then, fighting the sudden shyness, she roughly yanked at his shirt collar, pulling his head down and caught his lips in a hurried, but soft kiss.

'Question answered?' She shot him one of her customary, mischievous grins.

He looked surprised for a moment, but then a smile spread across his face. Naruto stared; she had never seen such a genuine smile of happiness on Sasuke's face.

'Well, I suppose that answer would do. But you know,' he added with a slight smirk, pulling her closer, 'you still owe me generous compensation for abandoning me for over two days.'

'Is that right?' she retorted, but then remembering the whole "avoiding" thing, she mumbled, 'I guess you're right about that one ... Well, I can think of only one way to do that,' she added with a bright smile.

'And what way is that?'

With a shy smile, she wrapped her arms around his neck and began to lean up. Sasuke grinned when he realised what she had in mind. 'Fair enough,' he said before kissing her enthusiastically.

Somehow, the second one was even better than the first. Perhaps that was because this time, Naruto kissed him with as much passion as he did. She clung on to him almost desperately and he wrapped his arms so tightly around her that he almost lifted her off her feet. Time passed by them unnoticed as they remained wrapped up in their heated embrace, lost in the feel and taste of each other and completely oblivious to the world until –


Both of them sprang apart and looked round only to be greeted with the sight of Sai holding up a camera, and right behind him was...

Shit! Sasuke swore mentally.

The entire Newspaper Club – some of whom looked shocked to the core, a few had stars in their eyes at having found the front page headlines for tomorrow's edition, and the majority ... were rabid Uchiha Sasuke fan girls. And one by one, their bloodthirsty eyes focussed on Naruto ...

Naruto's face drained of colour when she realised that she had just hit No.1 on the Endangered Species list. 'Oh, man,' she muttered, fear clouding her eyes.

On a sudden whim, Sasuke grabbed her by the shoulders and crushed her to him, landing a bruising, possessive kiss on her mouth. He heard Sai click another photograph. He stepped away from her and smirked.

'Run fast, dobe.'

The fear in her eyes grew more pronounced and she shot him a "you-traitor" look. 'Bastard,' she hissed before she ran for her life.

Sasuke leaned back against the wall, laughing sadistically. Eventually he would go and rescue his new girlfriend from his fan club, but for the moment, the sight of that mob of violent females chasing the orange-clad blonde all over the school campus screaming bloody murder was just too fun to watch.



Dobe: dead last; idiot

Teme: means 'You' in a very rude and offensive manner, or can even mean 'bastard'

A/N: So, that was my first attempt at some humour and an AU. Please leave a review and let me know what you think. Constructive criticism will be much appreciated! XD

Edit: 13/04/2009 - Because so many people are putting this on their alerts: this fic is a COMPLETED one-shot, people! There are not going to be any more chapters. However, if you're interested, there is a one-shot SEQUEL coming up; check my profile for more details. :)