Sakura stepped outside of Science class and paused, waiting. Sasuke had also been in the class along with Tayuya and Karin. The girls had snickered at Sakura when she had entered and she had made her point by turning to the teacher and, in a clear voice that easily carried to where the two witches were seated, asking pointblank if she could be seated next to Sasuke since she was seated with him in her other class.
The room had gone eerily silent and every head, including Sasuke's had snapped in her direction.

The teacher had agreed and Sakura had had calmly and deliberately taken the seat beside the surprised and baffled Uchiha while shooting a look at Tayuya and Karin which clearly read, "And that's that!"

Sasuke had remained quiet during the lesson but Sakura noted that, every now and then, he would shoot a curious glance her way.


When class was over, Sakura stood in the hall and watched as Sasuke took his time gathering up his things, her temper flared as she caught sight of four different kids bump into him, the last one almost sending him sprawling. A few others hissed words that she couldn't make out but she did not fail to notice the slight wince he gave.

He was one of the last to leave the room and, seeing as she had been one of the first, he was surprised when he heard her voice call his name.

"Sasuke-kun!" She called. Her use of the honorific caught a bit of attention from passer byes, which she promptly ignored.

His head snapped up in surprise. "Haruno san?" he murmured quietly, trying not to attract any more stares. "Was there something you needed?"

She smiled. "No… I was just wondering if you'd join me for lunch. How about it?"

He seemed to momentarily freeze and his eyes widened in shock for a second before narrowing as he stepped back. "I… I can't." His voice was brusque.

"Why not?" She asked, her smile quickly vanishing.

"…I don't go to the Cafeteria." He muttered darkly, clenching his teeth.

She cocked her head to the side. "..Not alone perhaps, but with friends I'm sure that-"

"I'm a loner… I don't have friends." He practically growled, cutting her off.

She seemed unaffected by his attitude as she grasped his hand, saying simply, "You do now!" before she half dragged him down the hall with her.

Sasuke stopped and wrenched his hand free of her grasp. "Why are you doing this? What's in it for you, huh?"

Sakura's eyes widened a bit at the sudden venom in his voice. "Wh-what are you talking about?"

"No one –no one - goes around defending people like me and inviting them to lunch and all that unless it will help their own agenda…" Sasuke glared at her hatefully. "Now what's in it for you?"

Sakura looked at him and an expression of something akin to understanding and compassion flickered briefly on her features before a small, sincere smile blossomed on her lips. "What do I get out of it…? Well I'll tell you, Sasuke-kun…" she reached out and grasped his forearm lightly. As he watched her warily she used his arm to steady her as she drew nearer to him and looked him in the eye as she whispered earnestly, "…I get a new friend!"

Sasuke recoiled instantly, his eyes flashing dangerously. "Don't play games with me!" he snarled. "No one wants to live on the same planet with me, let alone be my friend. Don't think that I don't know what you're up to! This certainly wouldn't be the first time someone's tried it."

"Tried what?" Sakura asked in confusion.

"Stop playing innocent!" he hissed. "I know how it goes. You pretend to be my friend, get me to open up and trust you, maybe even confide in you a bit, then, you talk me into doing something for you. You use me and after I've done whatever it is that you want, you ditch me. Then you and all your little, popular friends laugh over how the stupid loser trusted you and played right into your hands. See? I'm not as stupid as they say. I know how it works!"

Sasuke had been gesturing wildly during his little tirade and only now did he pause to focus on Sakura's face. He froze. Her head was angled slightly downward and her hair hung in her eyes and on her cheeks…were those… tears? He gave her a half puzzled, half angry stare. "What are you trying to pull Haruno?"

Sakura kept her head down and her voice was very quiet as she spoke… "Who?"

Sasuke's eyebrows furrowed. "Huh?"

"Who treats you that way?" Sakura asked.

He snorted. "Everyone, it's just the way it is."

Sakura lifted her head and met his eyes and Sasuke was surprised to see the fury that flashed in her emerald green orbs.

"NOT ANYMORE IT ISN'T!" she thundered. She grabbed his wrist and headed resolutely towards the cafeteria. This time, Sasuke was unable to break loose from her grip which had suddenly become as firm as iron.

Sakura burst through a set of doors and stomped into the cafeteria with a stunned Sasuke in tow. The cafeteria, which was usually filled with animated chatter, went deathly silent with the exception of Sakura's loud footsteps echoing as she strode towards a table in the middle of the room at which two girls were currently seated.

Sakura plunked down into a seat, yanking the stunned and irritated Sasuke down next to her. At the same time, two others joined the table. Sasuke was surprised to see that one of them was Neji, another of the school's "freaks".

Sasuke glanced around, noticing how the room had gone eerily quiet. All eyes were directed at their table. For a moment, no one moved or spoke and then…

An empty pop can hit Sasuke on the side of the head and a voice shouted. "Freaks!"

Other voices chimed in and both boys found themselves being pelted with wadded up papers, empty cans and Styrofoam cups.

"Get lost you rejects!"

"Take that, losers!"

"Weirdoes! We don't want your kind here!"

"Who invited the trash to lunch?"

"EVERYONE SHUT UP AND SIT DOWN!"

Everyone froze as four voices shouted in unison. All eyes left the two boys to refocus on the girls seated at the table. "All of you shut your traps or I will cut out your tongues and rip out your vocal chords; and believe me, I can do it!" Sakura snarled.

"And if one more person throws anything, I swear that person will be missing a limb if not two!" The brunette who had arrived with Neji declared. The girls glared at the rest of the student body, daring them make a sound.

After a few moments, everyone turned away and went back to their original conversations.

The four girls also turned to one another. "Hey Sakura-chan. What took you so long?" A girl with teal eyes and honey-blond hair, pulled back into four, spiky pigtails greeted the pinkette as though nothing had happened.

Sakura's surge of anger seemed to dissipate instantly and she smiled. "Sorry Temari-chan. I had a little delay in the hall, no big deal though." She assured the other girl.

Having recovered from his minor bout of shock, Sasuke's dark eyes skimmed over the people at the table. He was currently seated on Sakura's right side. To his right, was a petite girl with chin-length, sapphire hair; her skin was fair and she had unusual and yet, strangely pretty eyes that reminded him of pearls. Beside her sat the girl called Sakura had called Temari. Next to the blond sat a tomboyish looking brunette whose hair was pulled back into twin buns atop her head. Her chocolate colored eyes sparkled with spirit. Finally, sitting in between the brunette and Sakura, with his long, dark hair and pale eyes, was Neji.

Sasuke wondered why Neji was here and realized that the pale eyed boy was probably wondering the same thing about him. Sasuke, along with everyone else at the school, knew that Neji was a kid who lived on the streets because he had been disowned by his natal family. What people didn't know, was just who his natal family was. Thus, many rumors had been born due to speculation and Neji had been named everything from the child of a homeless beggar, to the son of a Yakuza leader. (A/n: Yakuza is the Japanese form of the Mafia.) Of course, most didn't believe the rumors, but, combined with the fact that he was homeless, they were enough to alienate him from the rest of the student body and to make him a prime target for school bullies. 'Basically,' Sasuke mused, 'He's a lot like me…'

It hit Sasuke that even the 'losers' of Konoha high, shunned one another. They knew, better than anyone, how it felt to have a label slapped on you and instantly be categorized as a freak, yet that did not stop them from treating others exactly the same way.

Suddenly, something poked Sasuke in the shoulder. He glanced up to see Sakura poking him. "Hey… earth to Sasuke?"

"Huh?"

Sakura gave a little laugh at his expression before saying, "This is Hinata, Temari, and Tenten."

Tenten nodded. "Yeah, and this is my new friend Neji-kun." Neji appeared startled at this announcement and his head snapped up to stare at the brunette.

Sasuke nodded to the others. "…Hey."

"Hello Sasuke. Hello Neji. It's nice to meet you both. " Hinata replied in a sweet, shy voice.

"Hey Sasu! Hi Neji! " Temari greeted.

"What's up Sasuke?" Tenten waved.

"Hi there Neji." Sakura smiled.

Neji just gave a small nod.

Sakura looked around the table. "Well? Are we all just going to sit here all day, or are we going to get something to eat?"

Temari nodded. "Let's, I'm starved!"

The girls stood and Tenten sort of forced Neji to his feet and dragged him off towards the line.

"Come on Sasuke-kun." Sakura urged as she pulled him up as well and led him over to the line. Sakura and Tenten ordered and then it was the boys' turn.

"Can I have a hamburger please?" Neji asked politely.

"I'd like a turkey sandwich please." Sasuke requested in just as polite a tone. The students weren't the only prejudice people at the school; much of the staff also treated them with contempt. Often, the lunch ladies would either, ignore their requests and refuse to serve them, or else they would charge them three times what they charged the other kids for the same meals, knowing that the teens would not be able to afford such ludicrous prices. The two were hoping that by being polite, they could manage to avoid another scene, but such was not to be.

The girls all watched in surprise as the lunch ladies' lips curled in disgust and they sneered at both boys. "We don't need to give you anything." The first woman snapped.

"Go eat outside you homeless trash!" one of them snarled at Neji.

"And you're not welcome here either!" Another hissed at Sasuke.

This was followed up by mutters of "worthless" and "rubbish" from the other members of the lunchroom staff.

Both boys winced.

The girls frowned. Tenten was about to say something when Temari stopped her. "Tenten, Sakura, take the boys back to our table. We'll get the stuff." She whispered so that only her sisters could hear.

Sakura and Tenten nodded and pulled the boys back towards the table.

Temari gave a fake smile. "I'll have one ham and one turkey sandwich please…"
The lunch lady smiled and handed it to her.

Hinata went next. "Could I please get a salad and a burger?" she asked sweetly.

"Of course dear." The second lunch lady said, quickly filling her order. "I love your shoes by the way."

"Uh… thanks." Hinata replied and then turned along with Temari as the two of them headed back to the table, both eager to escape the fickle lunch ladies.

They sat down and Temari handed Sasuke his sandwich while Hinata gave Neji the burger, much to the boys' surprise. When Sasuke and Neji tried to offer what little money they had in their pockets, the girls simply waved the money away saying that it was their treat. The boys looked surprised and slightly embarrassed, but simply murmured their thanks before each taking a bite out of their respective lunches.

They ate quietly, listening to the girls' discuss various, random topics. It was strangely peaceful and …normal? Unfortunately, it was only about ten minutes before they were interrupted once more.

"Hey!" a voice called out suddenly. Everyone turned to see a boy with light blue hair walking towards their table, a cruel sneer on his face. Behind him stood a larger boy with orange hair and a frown on his features, a scowling boy with dark hair, and a bespectacled boy with silver hair and a smirk.

Sasuke and Neji tensed and their expressions showed a mixture of hatred, anxiety and dread at the approach of the four.

"Well will you look at that… looks like the losers managed to talk a couple of sweet, unsuspecting girls into taking pity on them and buying them lunch." The blue haired kid called out loudly.

"Really… how low can you two get?" the silver haired boy sneered. Dark haired boy chuckled and the orange haired boy just grunted in agreement.

Sasuke and Neji glared at them but, at the same time, seemed to shrink under the accusing, hate filled stares of the entire student body.

"And they actually have the gall to show their ugly faces in here. What do you think, Kabuto? Juugo? Zaku? Should we teach them a lesson?" The blue haired boy inquired.

Kabuto smirked. "Let's Suigetsu… Let's."

The girls were frowning by now.

"Excuse me." Tenten spoke as she smoothly stood up. "Is there a problem?"

"Yes babe, there is." Suigetsu told her. "You see, these freaks aren't supposed to be in here."

"And why not?" Sakura inquired from where she was sitting. "Is there a rule that says they can't and you can?"

"It's more or less an unwritten rule; it just goes without saying." Kabuto told her with a wave of his hand.

"Don't worry doll. No one blames you. You're new so you couldn't have known." Zaku leered down at Sasuke and Neji. "We'll just take them off your hands now…" He took hold of Neji's arms, wrenching him up before twisting his arms behind his back at a painful angle. At the same time Kabuto's hand lashed out and he grasped Sasuke by the collar, lifting him up from his seat.

'Great…' Sasuke thought, defeated, 'Another thrashing, just what I needed. And in front of the entire student body too… lucky me!"

"Cut it out!" Sakura called as she stood and pushed Kabuto's arm aside, stepping in between him and Sasuke. "Leave him alone."

Hinata stepped forward so that she now stood face to face with Zaku. "Let go of him!" She demanded. "We are having lunch together. You have no right to barge in like this."

Zaku wheeled and glared down at her. "We can do whatever we want!" he growled as he glared down at her petite form. She paled a bit but did not back down. Juugo stepped forward and the two of them towered over her, trying to intimidate her.

Suddenly Temari rose from her seat to stand beside Hinata. Temari was tall for a girl and tough. She actually, nearly looked Juugo right in the eye. The two of them had sort of a staring contest for a moment before Juugo grunted and backed off a bit. Tenten had also risen from her seat and now stood in between Hinata and Sakura. Temari turned a cold glare on Zaku. "If you value your life…" Her voice was soft, yet filled with venom. "You will never behave that way towards Hinata-chan again." She hissed. "Do you understand?"

Zaku shot her a baleful glare but shrugged. "Whatever. I don't care about her. The two of you just get out of our way so that we can deal with the freaks."

Temari's expression changed suddenly and she smiled. But there was nothing reassuring about her smile. It was cold and sinister and her eyes glinted with malice. The other three girls exchanged knowing smirks. When Temari spoke, her voice was deceptively sweet and soft. "Perhaps I didn't quite communicate that warning correctly…" She mused. "Allow me to rephrase it: If you ever treat any of my friends badly," Her voice suddenly rose from sweet and soft to vindictive and acerbic, "I will SLAUGHTER all of you!" her words echoed loudly throughout the room and everyone went silent. The faces of the bullies in front of her displayed shock and a slight fear could be seen, lurking in their eyes. Sasuke and Neji couldn't help but feel a twinge of satisfaction at seeing the kids that helped to make their lives so miserable cringing under the gaze of a teenage girl!

Temari's voice and expression transformed once more back into the deceptively calm façade and she said, "Have I made my sentiments clear and comprehendible enough to accommodate for your limited mental capacities?"

"Who the heck do you think you are to act like you could take down the four of us by yourself?" Suigetsu demanded.

"Who said she'd be by herself?" Sakura inquired stepping forward.

"You wage a battle with one of us, and you have to deal with ALL of us." Hinata asserted.

Tenten grinned and pulled out one of her kunai, twirling it deftly -almost nonchalantly- between her fingers. "How about it? Who wants to meet their death first?"

Temari smirked. "Well gentlemen…" she added a sarcastic emphasis to the word. "…what will it be? Will you leave us alone, or will you give us the opportunity to have a little fun?" As she said this, a slightly maniacal gleam appeared in her eyes. "I do so hope that you will choose the latter."

The four boys looked back and forth between the four, bloodthirsty females. "Uh… I just remembered, we were supposed to be meeting with our Chemistry professor!" Zaku exclaimed.

"Awww, now?" Sakura inquired, looking a bit disappointed. "I was really looking forward to this."

"Yes! Right now!" Suigetsu quickly affirmed. "We better go." The four boys began to quickly walk away, eager to get as far away from the irate girls as possible.

"We'll be seeing you around of course?" Tenten called out in a sugary, yet threatening voice.

"Uh… Yeah, sure… Later." The boys quickly hightailed out of the cafeteria.

Smirking in satisfaction, the girls sat back down and continued to nibble at their lunches as though nothing had occurred and they hadn't just scared the living daylights out of four of Konoha high's biggest bullies.

Sasuke and Neji stared in shock. No one stood up to Suigetsu and his cronies, and if they did, then they most certainly NEVER got away with it without receiving the thrashing of a lifetime! And yet… these four girls had done exactly that.

Sasuke shook his head; this day was getting weirder and weirder.


So, I know that I haven't Ben on here in practically forever and thus I haven't updated in forever either. Sorry about that... college has a way of making you forget about everything else. Anyway, I got a review recently from 'technoninjalover' asking for an update so, here it is... hopefully I'll have another one soon. I've got the next chapter mostly written but I need to go over it and edit it before I actually post it since it's still a bit for reading and I hope you enjoyed this chapter.

Until next time,

~MidnightAnimeAngel