Summary: Sakura decided that Ino deserved something real, Naruto was colorblind, and Kiba was a man-whore. And Sasuke? Sasuke's got a stick shoved up his ass.

Again, much thanks to xx. false - deception who, although, has only beta'd this chapter, will beta the whole thing. Because I'm a bitch and she spoils me. XD Check her stuff out, people. She's under my favorite authors.

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"Sasuke!" He turned around to see Sakura chasing him. He waited until she reached him, panting.

He watched her tuck a lock of hair behind her hair. "What do you want?"

For you to fall in love with me, she said with a faint smile. He snorted mentally to himself.

Yeah, right.

"Can you help me with that World Lit. project? I'm kind of stuck."

He rolled his eyes. "Fine."


sticks and stones
i: there were sticks,


"Dammit, where the hell is he?" Naruto cried, clearly impatient. Sakura and Ino glanced at each other; they had only been waiting here for about two minutes.

Apparently, they were waiting for Naruto's childhood friend. Neither of the girls had met him before, because he went to a different elementary and middle school, but, according to the blonde male, they were going to be friends from now on, so they should meet him as soon as possible.

Ino had said that she wasn't looking forward to it. Any childhood friend of Naruto's was probably just as loud, obnoxious, and lacking fashion sense as he himself. She had agreed, but because she treated Naruto like a brother, she thought another friend wouldn't be a problem.

"There he is! Yo, Sasuke-teme!" Said brother-like friend began to wave enthusiastically, and Sakura shifted her gaze in the direction he was waving in. As the figure came closer, she noted dark, spiked hair, and clothes that didn't attract attention like Naruto's bright orange t-shirt.

And when the boy stopped at their group, pulling his suitcase into a standing position, she thought she had never seen anyone so hot in her life.

She felt Ino nudge her ribs. She shot her an I know; we'll freak out later look, and managed to smile.

"Sakura-chan, Ino-chan, this is Sasuke. I know he looks like a completely depressed child, but he's not that bad once you get to know him." Naruto grinned in a way she had never seen before.

Sakura held out her hand when Sasuke's attention focused on her. "I'm Haruno Sakura." He stared at her outstretched hand for a long moment, before he took it in a brief shake. She noted how cold his hand was.

"Uchiha Sasuke."

She rolled her eyes when Ino batted her eyelashes flirtatiously. "I'm Yamanaka Ino. I didn't know Naruto would be friends with such a cool person."

Sasuke didn't even take her hand. And, being Ino, she didn't really notice.

And so after some short introductions and catching up between the raven-haired boy and Naruto, they all headed to their respected dorms to settle in.

"He is so hot," Ino said disbelievingly when the door closed behind them. "I didn't know people like him existed."

Sakura shrugged as she pulled her suitcase to the bed by the window. "I call this one." Their dorm room was small and mediocre—exactly what a dorm was expected to be. "But he looks like he's got a stick shoved up his ass."

Her blonde friend snorted as she began to unpack all of her clothes. "Yeah, but he won't be by the time I'm done with him."

"Did you forget about Kiba?"

Ino laughed at her boyfriend's name. "'Course not. Just because I'm taken doesn't mean I can't ease him up a little, right? And, besides," she began to fill her drawers, "by the looks of it, all of the girls will be all over him, so I need a head start."

Sakura laughed lightly. "Of course."

When they all met up again—this time, with Kiba as well—they spent the afternoon touring the campus. Naruto seemed more interested in the fact that the cafeteria was open from seven in the morning to ten at night than anything. So, soon, the five of them were sitting at a table, chatting.

It was rather uneventful, in Sakura's opinion. She'd rather be checking her e-mail. With that thought, she pulled out her MacBook and began to check.

Sasuke, who was sitting beside her, glanced in her direction—because, clearly, he was bored with the conversation, too. (She wasn't sure, but it had something to do with chartreuse nail polish.)

She skimmed a page-long e-mail from Lee. "So, what do you major in?" she asked Sasuke lightly, barely even registering what she was reading.

"Psychology," came the nonchalant reply. She glanced at him incredulously out of the corner of her eye, and he raised an eyebrow. "What?"

Smiling slightly, she shook her head. "I don't know. I didn't think you'd be the type of person to go into psychology, I guess." For someone who's got a stick shoved up his ass, he was pretty thoughtful.

"What about you, then?"

"Bio-Chem," she said offhandedly, clicking the reply button and typing an e-mail back to Lee. Oh, I'm doing fine. Just settled in this morning, and we're looking around campus right now. Classes start tomorrow. I've met a couple of new friends; they're nice.

He chuckled. "Doctor?"

"Brain surgeon, actually." How are you? It's your second year; have you chosen on a career, yet? It'll be dangerous if you don't, soon.

"Then what do you minor in?"

Anyways, I've got to go; Ino's complaining about the lack of hot guys in the area. I'll talk to you soon. Quickly clicking send before she could feel guilty, she closed the window. Sasuke, having clearly seen this, rolled his eyes. "Ironically, literature," she told him. "What about you?"

"Same."

She raised her eyebrows. "Really, now."

"Does something in my expression tell you that I'm lying?"

She shook her head. "Not really. But…Well, I guess—"

"You didn't think I'd be the type of person to go into it," he finished for her, tone dripping with sarcasm. "And I'd think you would go into cosmetics and designing with that blonde over there." He jerked his thumb towards Ino, and she shrugged.

"We're best friends, but we're different."

She was beginning to think that maybe, Sasuke wasn't so bad after all. Other than being incredibly hot, maybe he had a sense of humor, and the stick shoved of his ass wasn't really as long as she had originally thought.

Until he said, "Your name is Sakura, right?"

She rolled her eyes. "Right."


The next day, after lunch, Sasuke and Sakura made their way to World Literature together. Their teacher was a silver-haired man who had his face buried into a book.

Typical for a World Literature teacher, she supposed.

All of the classrooms, as she had come to notice, had tables made for pairs. After scanning the room and concluding that they knew no one else in the class, they found a vacant table in the back and settled in.

"D'you think this school year will be easy?" she asked, just for a light conversation.

"Sure." He wasn't even putting any effort into his speech as he pulled out his notebook and a pen.

She wrinkled her nose. "Really? It's our first year, though; the responsibility and being away from home is kind of…nerve-wracking." Just thinking about her parents back home made her feel a little homesick. And it was only the first day.

He shrugged. "I'm used to it."

Before he could really ask anymore, the teacher cleared his throat at the front of the room.

"You guys are a lively bunch. Let me promise you, by the time this course is finished, you're all going to have the same shade of hair color and as much enthusiasm as me." There was a moment of slightly stunned silence. "I'm Kakashi, by the way. Nice to meet you all."

No one said anything back.


"I can't believe we have homework on the first day," Ino groaned, nearly slamming her forehead against the table as they had their dinner that night.

Kiba shrugged, draping an arm around her shoulders. "I'm going to copy off someone. Not worth the effort."

Sakura shot him a dirty look. "You're never going to learn anything that way."

"I've been doing it all through high school; I can do it now."

"Kiba's been partying and getting drunk since ninth grade!" Naruto said through a mouthful of pasta. "He can go to class tipsy, and no one would even notice!"

"What are you talking about?" Kiba grinned. "I hold my alcohol so well, I don't even get tipsy anymore."

As her friends continued to bicker, Sakura held her fork between her lips. She needed to brainstorm for World Literature homework; Kakashi had assigned them to write a short story at least two thousand words long, just so he can get to know their writing styles. And it was due the next day.

She thought that was ridiculous. Some people can't just snap their fingers and write. (Given, she was one of those people, but that wasn't the point.)

"No one copies my homework," she heard Sasuke say beside her. She realized that they had formed a formation at their table; on one side, she and Sasuke would sit, and on the other side, from left to right, respectively, was Naruto, Ino, and Kiba.

"Speaking of which, Sasuke, do you have any ideas for World Lit.?" she asked, taking a sip of her apple juice.

"I will once I start working on it."

"Say, do you want to work on it together? It seems like Naruto, Ino, and Kiba are going to do their History homework together, anyway."

"Sure. You don't get to copy, though."

She smiled. As if she could copy a short story, anyway. "Alright. My dorm?"

He didn't even look at her. "Sure."


"I don't want to do this!" Naruto wailed, throwing his History textbook down. "It's just a worksheet, but why are the answers so hard to find?"

Sasuke didn't even look up from the screen of his MacBook. (Everyone has one of those these days, Sakura noted.) "Read it and apply it, dobe."

The blonde frowned before promptly grabbing a pillow off of Ino's bed and chucking it at his head. He blocked it easily with one raise of his arm, and returned to typing. Normally, Ino would've shrieked about him even touching anything on her bed—but she was currently making out with Kiba in the corner of the room—a direction in which she'd rather not look in.

Sakura continued writing her short story. She had no idea what to compose, really—since she wasn't that much of a writer, to be honest, no matter how much she could write—so she went with the typical love story. Girl meets boy, one falls for the other. Said other doesn't care.

And in the end, after everything's through and done, they live happily ever after. It worked every time.

It was then that she received and e-mail from Lee. Letting out a loud and obvious sigh of frustration, she clicked the notification at the bottom corner of her screen. She really didn't want to deal with him—but she honestly couldn't imagine breaking things off with him. It was too cruel.

She heard Sasuke chuckle, almost inaudibly. "E-mail from your boyfriend?"

She raised her eyebrows. "How did you know?"

"Read over your shoulder yesterday. It was a little obvious."

A frown met her features. "That's not nice, you know. Invasion of privacy."

"I just happen to memorize everything I read."

"Just dump him, already." She diverted her attention from her screen momentarily to see Naruto rolling his eyes. "Honestly, he's creepy. Why are you going out with him, again?"

"Because he's sweet, and accepts the fact that I don't feel the same way right now," she replied indignantly. "If he wants to waste his time trying to prove that he's worth it in the end, then fine."

The blonde huffed. "You're never going to feel the same way, ever," he muttered. "Don't give him false hope."

"Are you jealous, Naruto?" she mocked, grinning.

"I ask you out once a month! Is that not obvious enough?" After glancing at his worksheet that he hadn't really been touched for the past hour, he groaned in annoyance. "Ino, Kiba, stop fucking each other over there and help me out with this!"

And, so, doing homework together became a habit for them.


On Friday, exactly five days after he had assigned it, Kakashi returned their homework.

"You originality is appalling, Haruno-san," he said dryly as he handed back her paper lazily. "Good work. Same with you, Uchiha-san."

She smiled when she saw her mark. The classic love story really worked every time. "What'd you get, Sasuke?"

"Ninety-six. You?"

"Ninety-two. If things are going to be this easy throughout the entire year, I'm going to ace this course with flying colors."

He grunted in response, and she was satisfied with that.

Over the past week, she had learnt a little to zip about the guy. He was quiet, conservative, and had a stick shoved up his ass. Deep. But judging from the amount of fan girls that she had seen ever since school started (honestly, they never grew out of it), that was probably what made him so goddamn popular.

Somehow, it made her want to laugh and gag at the same time.

If that was even possible.

That evening, after dinner, Naruto and Sakura sat on the bleachers, watching Kiba and Sasuke's soccer tryouts. Ino was off at her cheerleading tryouts and had insisted that they didn't come, because she would look so much better when actually on the field and in action.

"Hey, Naruto, has Sasuke always been like that?" she asked offhandedly as said Uchiha, complete in his t-shirt, shorts, and soccer cleats, scored his third goal in a row.

"Hm? What do you mean?"

"As if he has a stick shoved up his ass. Does he ever smile?"

There was a pause. "He used to," her blonde friend said, all mirth in his tone gone. "Back when we were about seven, or so."

She blinked. "So…what happened?"

"His dad owned some famous company, and one day, he was murdered." She turned to him, jaw dropping slightly.

"Seriously?"

He nodded, returning his gaze to their dark-haired friend. "They never found the culprit, either. His mom kind of went mad, so they sent her to rehab. He only had an older brother left, but he just does the bare minimum. Y'know, pay the bills, and stuff. Sasuke does everything else."

"That's…" Sakura swallowed. "That's terrible. How does he stand it?"

"I don't think he can. Ever since, I don't think I've really seen him smile properly. The way he used to, I mean."

The way he moved on the soccer field with familiarity, as if he'd played soccer all his life and had a normal childhood like every other person certainly pulled the sympathy from her. She supposed she couldn't blame him for acting the way he did.

But that didn't really change the fact that he had a stick shoved up his ass. It's just that the stick suddenly got bigger.

"I feel bad for him," she said quietly, hugging herself. The zip-up hoodie she was wearing didn't really help keeping the evening chill from setting in.

"Me, too." Naruto leaned forward, having his elbows rest on his knees. "And you know how I suck with advice and consoling people. All I can do is be happy every day, and hope that he's happy, too, in his own twisted way."

She watched as Sasuke returned to the back of the line, and Kiba began taking his shots at the defended goal.

"Yeah."


A/N: Okay, so I have numerous excuses for why this sucks.

1. This is my first AU. Ever.
2. SasuSaku isn't really my OTP—I'm just in a phase right now.
3. I swear, this really is my first AU ever.
4. It's almost pure romance because it's my first AU, which leads to shorter chapters.

And, those who have alerts on Dreams—I swear to God, I'll update. I just need to proofread the last chapter one more time. And I think it's really long, so, because I'm lazy…Yeah.

Inspired by ANGELforSHOW's Like VitaminWater, so check it out.

Reviews and constructed criticism is appreciated.