A/N: I sincerely apologize for the late update! I know that there is nothing that I can possibly do to repay you for being patient with me and I completely understand if some of you decided to give up on this story.
The song used in this chapter is "Something in Your Mouth" by Nickelback.
Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto, nor any of the songs used in this chapter.
Someone Wake Me Up
5th Chapter: Love & Regret
The girls were out in the city, with one sole intention in mind. They wanted to spend some quality time alone, without the boys hanging by their side. They planned this day for weeks and once it was finally here, they wanted to fully enjoy it.
First, they had a prolonged breakfast at their favorite restaurant, while chattering like crazy. Then, they eagerly proceeded with the plan for the day, which mostly centered on visiting the clothing stores.
As they walked toward one of the stores, something caught the blonde's attention. She did not waste any time, as she stepped closer to the magazine stall. Her friends just proceeded walking and stopped in front of a store window. She ignored them, or rather her attention was directed somewhere else.
Ino grabbed the magazine and held it right in front of her face. Her eyes were rounded in astonishment because of what she saw on the cover page. If the picture of Takeshi and Sakura holding hands wasn't enough, then the shocking headline definitely was. Without a second thought she flipped through the pages in search for the matching article. The instant she spotted an even greater number of pictures she was even more astounded. Then, she skimmed over the written text, as she desperately tried to process the information.
…Who would have guessed! Our favorite teen idols are actually more than just friends…
…It appears that their collaboration is just a cover up and the truth is that they are very much in love…
…They were spotted holding hands in a secluded corner at Takeshi's favorite café 'Hanabira'. If that isn't the proof we all waited, then what is...
…We wouldn't be surprised if they decided to show up as a couple at the forthcoming Music Awards…
After gaining enough self-control, she finally shouted after her best friend, "Sakura, have you seen this?" She looked up in search for her best friend's face, wanting to see her reaction to the news.
However, Sakura had just recovered from staring at a beautiful display of coats, so her expression was one of slight confusion. "What?" she asked, while looking at the blonde with a somewhat questioning look.
"The new issue of Celebrity Gossip," Ino pointed out, while she lifted the magazine for Sakura.
Once the pink-haired girl realized the gravity of the situation, she already made a move to take the magazine from Ino. "Let me see." As she held it in between her tightly clenched fingers, she scrunched up her eyebrows in slight irritation. The picture did not offer the same amount of annoyance for her as the headline did.
'Sakura goes out on a secret date with Takeshi!'
She really could not believe that they would twist the truth into a lie, suitable enough to guarantee enough issue sales. At first she thought that they would only put the picture in the magazine, but she never thought that false accusations would come out of it as well. Despite that, she told herself that she should not be surprised at all. A moment later she huffed irritably, "I should have expected this."
Tenten took the magazine out of Sakura's hands and once she read the heading her eyes widened in disbelief. "What do you mean you should have expected it?" she asked, already feeling slightly confused.
"I saw the paparazzi hiding in the bushes, but it was already too late," Sakura explained, her facial expression changing into one of defeat. She already felt tired of the number of lies that were being constantly shed out in the press about her.
"What?" Ino shrieked, while she piercingly stared at Sakura. "Forehead, are you trying to say that this bullshit is true?"
Sakura did not like the look of accusation she received from her best friend, so she really could not help herself when she glared in return. "Of course not, Ino-pig!" she shot back indignantly. Then, after taking a calming breath, she tried to explain in a calm tone, "We were discussing the songs we wrote and that is exactly when I noticed the paparazzi."
"But, why is he holding your hand?" Tenten asked, while still looking at the pictures in a way that seemed like she was inspecting something.
"I have no idea," Sakura answered truthfully. She shrugged nonchalantly and added, "I guess that's just how Takeshi is."
"Oh, so he's a touchy-feely guy, huh?" Ino teased her friend, feeling quite smug. She really could not resist the temptation to make a joke out of it. After all, she was rarely presented with such an opportunity.
"Shut up! You are not amusing," Sakura replied in a mocking way, before adding for a good measure, "And, for the record, I took my hand away." Afterward, she crossed her hands in front of her chest and held her head high in a dignifying way. At that moment she felt the necessity to defend her honor.
"I am really sorry, Sakura-chan," Hinata hesitantly whispered. The usually shy girl was not very fond of the entire situation, especially since this did not bode well for the plan she had with Naruto. At that moment, she just hoped that Sasuke won't believe a word of those lies.
"Hinata, don't worry," Sakura addressed her in a reassuring way, while she also waved her hand as if dismissing the entire issue aside. "It's not that big of a deal."
The type of reaction coming from Sakura offered some form of reassurance for Hinata. She believed that since Sakura was not worried, then it could only mean that there was nothing going on between her and Takeshi and that she was not even considering the possibility.
Nevertheless, Ino just had to ruin everything by sharing her thoughts with her friends, "If you ask me, I will say that even a fake relationship with Takeshi is more than welcome." As she said that, a mischievous smile stretched upon her face, but for an entirely different reason than the others perceived.
"Ino, you are so bad!" Tenten said, her voice filled with disapproval.
Ino jokingly accepted the comment, mostly because she was in a fairly good mood. "Thank you for the compliment, Tenten," she sweetly said, inclining her head in fake gratitude.
"That wasn't a compliment," Tenten shot back, even if she caught onto the fact that Ino was enjoying herself a bit too much, despite the seriousness of the situation. Suddenly, she decided to turn her attention toward the pink-haired girl. "Sakura, you actually allow this?" she asked inquisitively.
"It's not like I can stop it," Sakura answered without a second thought. She was already used to these types of situations and she already went through a couple of discussions with Tsunade concerning the possible escape routes ― and it was already proved they were close to zero.
"Well, is there any way to at least tell the truth?" Hinata asked, already hoping for a positive answer.
"Other than my tweets, there is no other way," Sakura said, her facial features twisting into a thoughtful expression. Despite all the previous attempts, she still tried to think of any other possible way, but she was once again left with nothing.
"What about your manager?" Tenten suddenly asked, her eyes beaming expectantly.
Sakura sighed in defeat, before giving her explanation in a fairly soft tone, "She can't give a statement about every single lie they put in those magazines."
Ino did not like the glum atmosphere that was going on around her, so she decided to break it. "I think that if we look at this from an entirely different perspective, it can be quite positive," she spoke, her tone of voice taking on a cheerful note. Her eyes shined in some sort of a triumphant way.
Apparently, Tenten recognized that look, so she exclaimed knowingly, "Oh, I know that look!"
"What look?" Ino asked, while trying her best to play innocent.
The brown-haired girl just shook her head and smiled wickedly at her blonde friend. "The look that clearly says that there is something incredibly evil on your mind," she spoke accusingly.
Ino just laughed in return, before confessing, "Okay, I will admit that there is something going through my mind, but I wouldn't call it entirely evil." However, her eyes shined in a suggestive manner.
"So, spill!" Tenten urged her to speak with an eager voice, while Hinata and Sakura exchanged a knowing look. After all, this type of behavior was quite usual for Ino.
"What could possibly be positive about this?" Sakura couldn't help but ask, her tone displaying her frustration.
"Our dear ice-cube, we all know and love as Sasuke-kun, will combust out of jealousy the moment he sees these pictures," Ino spoke, her eyes glinting in an almost wicked way. It was not that she wanted to see him suffer, but she thought that this could come as a good lesson for him.
"Ino!" Sakura shrieked in open horror. She was entirely disturbed just by thinking about such a possibility. For now, she was quite pleased with being just friends with Sasuke. Every though that would lead her astray from those calming thoughts was not very welcome for her, especially at this very moment.
"What? It's true," Ino defended her previous statement with assured tone, while lifting her eyebrows in slight disbelief evoked by the various reactions she received in return.
Tenten snorted a laugh, feeling positively amused despite Sakura's discomfort, while Hinata was left speechless. In reality, she felt sorry for Sasuke after hearing his side of the story from Naruto. At that moment she just hoped that their plan will help them get back.
Sasuke jaw was tense, while he clenched the magazine in his hands. What he just saw there was enough to make him feel even worse than before. It was not surprising that the written words served as an added irritation for him.
The blond that was sitting across from him, looked at him with noticeable compassion. He could only imagine what was going through his head at this moment. There was a part of him that regretted for deciding to bring the magazine with him and showing it to Sasuke. However, a bigger part of him thought that his decision was the right one. After all, it was bound for the Uchiha to eventually stumble upon the pictures and he thought that it would be better if he was there with him when that happened.
On the other hand, there was something else that disturbed him more. The expression on Sasuke's face was as dejected as the day he found out the cruel truth. He started to believe that the news he just gave him, that centered on Sakura and Takeshi, made everything worse. It was obvious that it added oil to the already burning flames.
"So, how are you coping with this?" Naruto could not help but ask. There was a hidden meaning behind that question and it did not settle only on today's event. He just wanted to know if Sasuke was still thinking about the break-up with Sakura. After giving it some thought he started to doubt that anything might have changed in the prospect of a few days. That was proved by the way Sasuke acted ever since the moment he found out about Sakura's reasons. Apparently, it was hard for him to not put the entire blame on himself.
Naruto's thoughts were somewhat justified once he received a disinterested grunt in response from his friend, "Hn."
Naruto understood that the magazine photos were the least of Sasuke's problems at the moment, even if it was quite obvious that he was disturbed by them. Despite that, the blond chose to avoid the subject of their recent discovery and never speak of the source of Sasuke's initial torment. If this subject brought less pain to his friend, he would rather try to speak about it and offer at least some sort of assurance.
"I think that this is bullshit! Sakura-chan loves only you," he spoke with an assured voice. By saying that he wanted to offer at least some comfort, so he tried to say something that would proffer the same sentiment, but wouldn't have to be directly involved with the issue that bothered Sasuke. "I mean, she always has."
Sasuke was not convinced, even though he did notice the hints of comfort Naruto tried to give him. He was grateful that his friend thought of cheering him up, but there was hardly something that could make him feel less forlorn. "You are right, Naruto. However, I don't think that she still does," he said with a heavy voice. He could only hope that he wasn't the reason for their break-up or for hurting her ― his precious Sakura ― but the painful reality spoke otherwise. He already started to feel awful, as the guilt began to eat him up from inside.
Naruto did not like the words that just left his mouth or the way he sounded while saying them. After a long moment filled with nothing but silence, which he did not take well, he decided to do something about this situation. "Sasuke, please say something," he pleaded with him, feeling severe dislike toward Sasuke's empty expression.
Sasuke inhaled slowly, which seemed like an attempt to settle his emotions. After taking a moment to clear his mind, he asked with a defeated voice, "What do you want me to say, Naruto?"
"Anything," Naruto replayed instantly, while lifting his hand in the air as if trying to elicit some sort of reaction from his friend just by that mere gesture. Receiving nothing in return, he just slumped in his seat and raised his voice. "Just don't go all quiet and broody like that!" His tone was unintentionally accusing, but it was barely noticeable.
However, Sasuke wouldn't have paid attention to it even if it was pronounced, as he just grunted in response, "Hn."
Naruto's eyebrows narrowed in dissatisfaction. "See, you are doing it again," he spoke with much more emotion in his tone.
"Naruto…" Sasuke uttered his name in some sort of an insistent tone. "Just leave me alone." Sasuke tried to dismiss him. He really hoped for a moment of peace and quiet, because he felt a necessity to devote to his own thoughts in silence.
Naruto shook his head, before speaking in conviction, "Being alone is the last thing you need right now." Then, he took his cell phone and dialled a number that was on his speed dial.
Sasuke lifted his head and looked at his friend with open curiosity. "Dobe, what are you doing?"
"I'm calling the guys," Naruto spoke, a huge smile spreading on his lips. He had a look of immense eagerness on his face.
"What for?" Sasuke asked, sounding surprised. His eyebrows were narrowed in slight dissatisfaction, mostly because he was irritated by his friend's persistence. He really wasn't in the mood for anything that was out of the blue, especially not something that was Naruto's idea.
"You'll see," Naruto answered back with a somewhat cheerful voice. He did not plan to let Sasuke brood and wallow in guilt for much longer. In his opinion, there was always a remedy for a broken heart.
Shouts were heard from the backyard at the Inuzuka household. The boys were playing a game of basketball and apparently things were getting a bit too tense in the match.
"So what if I named it Rasengan?" Naruto shouted, looking quite offended. He finally had the chance to use his new move and no one seemed to appreciate it. On the contrary, they all laughed at him. He thought that he gave it a really cool name, but his friends said that it was stupid and he really felt affronted because of that.
"You're ridiculous," said Neji, complete coolness radiating off of him. He really could not contain himself from commenting, because ― in his opinion ― the fact that Naruto named it was utterly absurd and unnecessary. However, he had to admit that the move was quite impressive. It was hard to defend against it, because of the swift way Naruto moved and the complexity of the way he controlled the ball. He had to give it to the fool for thinking of something so unique.
"Whatever, like I give a damn what you think!" Naruto said, but his mood plummeted considerably. He really hoped that they would be impressed and it apparently did not happen.
"Naruto, I think that it was a very youthful thing to do." Lee felt the need to compliment his efforts, since he always thought that when someone tried to achieve something and actually succeeded in doing so, he deserved to at least be praised. In his opinion the move was something that should be definitely appreciated.
"Lee, why the hell are you encouraging his stupidity?" Kiba asked, his voice displaying arrogance like his estimation always mattered. He really thought that sometimes the youth-loving boy was even more stupid than the blonde.
"Shut your mouth, Kiba!" Naruto yelled at him, his glare intensifying tenfold. He took a seat at the ground right next to his best friend, who didn't really look like he was in the mood for anything. Even the others noticed that Sasuke was not showing his usual enthusiasm when playing basketball.
Naruto just decided to ignore Kiba, so he diverted his attention toward his friend. "Sasuke, how are you feeling?" he asked with concern latched to his voice. Then, he tried to read at least one emotion in Sasuke's eyes, but he was shot with disappointment when he saw the blank look in them.
"Never been better," he answered without looking at his friend, the sarcasm in his voice being an unintentional mistake. He really did not want to be interrogated or reminded about the things that made him feel like he was the biggest bastard that ever existed.
"Are you thinking about the new photos?" Naruto asked hesitantly. He felt heavy disappointment because of his inability to help his friend overcome the feeling of despondency.
"Aa," Sasuke responded simply. However, that was not the only thing that occupied his mind at the moment.
"Don't worry! Sakura-chan could never fall for a guy like that," Naruto said with assurance, unable to stop himself. He was somewhat fed up with everything, especially with that idiot and his constant meddling in someone else's life. He really hated Takeshi for trying to stand in between his friends and ruin the chance they had for making up. "I mean, she has you and he hardly compares," he added for good measurement, shooting daggers at the pompous jerk inside his mind.
"Yeah, right," Sasuke answered, hints of the irritation he felt slipping out on the open.
"You don't have to believe me," stated Naruto simply, while adding in his own mind, 'You will eventually.' He was assured that things will work out, especially since he already promised to himself that he will make sure that it happens.
"Every girl in Japan worships the ground he walks upon." Shikamaru was the one that spoke, while leaning against the backboard post. He kept his eyes on the skies above him, enjoying his favorite pastime even while standing. After a short pause, he continued, his tone lazy, but his eyebrows were scrunched in slight irritation, "I witnessed Ino's reaction when his name was mentioned, and it wasn't a pleasant sight."
"Shikamaru, you are not helping!" Naruto shouted, wanting to prevent any additional reasons that could easily become a source of discomfort for Sasuke, no matter how small and insignificant they might've sounded. That is why he chose to say something in order to negate Shikamaru's words. "Besides, if Sasuke shows his face at least once on the internet, the net server will crash."
Kiba observed the entire exchange, but he just decided to stay quiet, until he heard Naruto's interesting comment. "Since when are you so smart?" he asked, his lips twisted in a half smile. By the look on his face, it was clear that he was amused.
"What do you mean? I am smart," Naruto shot back, sounding a bit offended.
"Heh," Kiba chuckled mockingly.
"Hell, Neji can accomplish that. Sasuke will make a chaos of immense proportions!" Shikamaru finally commented on Naruto's interesting way of comparing Sasuke with Takeshi.
"I am scared of that thought," Kiba admitted.
"Too bad those paparazzi didn't catch even a glimpse of his face. We would have known what will be like if million of girls saw him," Choji joked, but it wasn't interpreted as a joke, especially not by the obnoxious blond.
Naruto punched a fist in his open palm. "We just have to find a way to display a picture of him in the public." The expression on Naruto's face was one of severe accomplishment. It appeared that he praised his own ability to think of a perfect plan at the right time.
"I agree! Takeshi has to go down!" Kiba agreed with him, which was one of the rare times he actually did that. Usually they were the ones that argued on regular basis, but he really enjoyed this.
"Don't even think about it," Sasuke spoke, a heavy glare directed at all of them. He was beyond irritated, but this was definitely too much.
"Teme, you are always such a party pooper." Naruto pouted as he crossed his arms over his chest.
"I really don't give a shit!" Sasuke answered with a raised tone, his anger taking over. He really was not in the mood for Naruto's games or any of their help, especially not when their plans included a horde of girls. He was seriously fed up of being chased by stupid fan-girls. What he wanted was Sakura and nothing else.
Naruto took the hint that Sasuke wanted to drop the subject, so he diverted the conversation toward their game. "Are you ready to get your ass whipped again, teme?" A big grin spread on his face, while his eyes glinted in challenge.
Sasuke smirked for the first time that day, forgetting about his torment for just a few seconds. "Usaratonkachi," he muttered under his breath, before accepting Naruto's offered hand and lifted himself up on his feet.
Naruto smiled at him, and bellowed eagerly, "C'mon, let's play!" He felt a bit more relaxed once he saw the change in the expression on Sasuke's face. As he turned and stepped on the playing ground, he lifted a fist in the air. "I will kick all of your asses, believe it!"
Shikamaru just shook his head in disbelief as he followed after them. "Naruto, you can't, we play in teams," he spoke in a lazy tone.
"Whatever, you know what I mean!" the blond answered back, his mind already working on a plan on how to win the second match.
When night came, the girls prepared themselves for their outing at the night club owned by Naruto's godfather. Even if they weren't that enthusiastic about the choice this time, they still decided that it won't hurt to check it out.
They wanted to share a ride to the club, so they sort of ditched the guys. It was their idea for a perfect ending of a testosterone-free day, since the night was already ruined because their plans included the guys.
Sakura was behind the wheel, with the usual black car following behind her. Her best friend did not seem very pleased with that fact, which was particularly pronounced by the constant glances she shot at the rear-view mirror.
"The big guy is in that SUV, right?" she finally asked, unable to suppress her curiosity.
Sakura looked at her strangely, but answered nevertheless, "Yes." However, not a moment later, she added, "Why do you ask?"
The blonde let out an irritated sound, before answering, "It's bothering me. I really have no idea how you put up with his presence."
The pink-haired girl just shrugged nonchalantly, after which she evenly intoned, "I guess I got used to it."
"He's like everywhere you go," Tenten complained, turning to look at the car that was steadily following behind them.
"I agree with Tenten. Whenever I turn to talk to you, he's there," Ino added, her voice sounding heavily displeased. She was a person that loved her freedom and she always protested if there was someone or something disrupting that pleasure for her.
"At least we know that he keeps her safe," Hinata spoke, her voice quiet, but steady. She did not mind the presence of Sakura's bodyguard, as long as that meant that she was safe from harm.
The blonde disagreed, at least with the fact that he was needed at such close proximity. "Yeah, well, I still think that he needs to back off a little bit," she shared her thoughts with the rest, believing that she was right.
"Shut up, Ino-pig!" Sakura shot back. After hearing those words, she really felt the necessity to defend the man, who was nothing but kind to her. "Eiichiro is really nice. If it weren't for him, I wouldn't have been here with you, because Tsunade would have made sure that I was locked up." Afterward, she just directed a piercing look at her best friend, hoping to make a point.
Ino just crossed her arms indignantly, not wanting to admit defeat. However, she did agree with Sakura on that notion. At least, she was glad that she had her friend here with her instead of having to visit her at her home. There was nothing fun about visiting someone at their home and watch them sulk in misery.
Despite her relenting thoughts, she stubbornly droned, "Well, you can't really blame me. If he stops acting like your shadow, I might change my mind." Then, she pouted, at which the other girls giggled.
The guys waited for almost an hour in front of the club, which was where they were supposed to meet up with the girls. They were already pretty pissed off because of their lateness.
To make things worse, Naruto was constantly complaining. "Why aren't we sharing a ride with the girls?" he asked the same question for the millionth time that night, but this time someone had the decency to grant him with an answer ― even if it wasn't really an answer.
"Naruto, if you miss Hinata that much, could you at least stop pestering us about it?" Sasuke practically shouted at him, feeling like he was on edge with his patience.
"I think that you need to make a move or just ask her out already," Kiba nonchalantly commented. His unusual calmness was the result of his own excitement, because this time his wish was granted and they were just about to enter the club of his dreams. It was one of his greatest desires to visit the famous Icha Icha Paradise and it was finally happening.
"Kiba, don't encourage him," Neji warned, his tone biting. He was definitely not happy with the situation, but Naruto's interest in his cousin was not something that pleased him either.
"Neji, you don't have to act like a caveman," Kiba intoned, laughing slightly. He was quite amused with the reaction that came from Neji. However, once he took note of the heavy glare directed at him, he added, "Don't get me wrong. I love Hinata as if she was my own little sister, but she has to get herself a boyfriend eventually!"
Once those words registered in Naruto's mind, images of him together with Hinata started flashing inside his mind. He started feeling utterly nervous because of that and almost lost his enthusiasm to see her.
"Kiba, the dobe is in agony because of you," Sasuke commented with a cool voice, as he looked at his best friend with slightly scrunched up eyebrows. He was in disbelief because of Naruto's reaction. He did not know that he would react in such a way at the mention of Hinata being his possible future girlfriend. He smirked in amusement at his antics.
"What? I did nothing," Kiba said, clearly confused as to why he was being pointed at as the reason for Naruto's unusual behavior.
"You talk too much," Sasuke simply said, not even sparing him a glance.
That gesture served as an irritation for Kiba and despite his previous calmness he still complained heatedly, "Hey!"
"Troublesome," Shikamaru muttered, entirely bored by the situation, while Sasuke still kept ignoring the fuming boy.
"The girls have just arrived!" Lee exclaimed excitedly. He was unusually silent the entire time, but he was mostly preoccupied with his outfit. He really tried to look his best in one of his favorite green shirts and leather jacket.
"Finally," Chouji muttered under his breath, his hands surprisingly empty. Maybe that was the reason he was so relieved to see them arrive.
Sai was as always quietly observing everything that happened around him, while Shino just brooded on the sidelines. He was not that pleased with having to wait so long. In his opinion, waiting for hours for someone to arrive was a complete waste of time.
Watching as Sakura pulled to a stop in front of the club, Sasuke started to feel the raise of goose bumps on his skin. It was an unfamiliar feeling, but he already resented it. He did not know why he felt like that, but his best guess was that he was dreading seeing her. Ever since he saw the magazine article, he felt like he lost her and what made him feel worse was that he blamed himself for it.
"Hey, boys," Ino greeted cheerfully, her appearance catching the attention of Kiba and of course her boyfriend, but the later did not want to comment on it ― at least not in front of his guy friends.
"Hey, Ino! You look rocking hot in those red jeans," Kiba observed loudly, his eyes appreciatively gliding up and down her body. He couldn't help himself, even if he considered her as his friend and nothing more.
Of course, the blonde took that as a compliment. "Thank you, Kiba!" She leaned in to kiss him on the cheek in gratification for his words. Then, she turned to look at her boyfriend and spoke in indignation, "At least there is one of you that appreciates my efforts, unlike some other guy I know."
"Troublesome," Shikamaru just muttered, refusing to lift his hands from his pockets. Then, he just cast a glance at her direction and said, "Ino, you already know what I think."
She angrily turned to fully face him, her hands on her hips. "No, I don't, Shikamaru!" she yelled, not giving a damn if anyone heard her.
"You are actually mad, again?" he asked in disbelief, his voice making him sound bored, which was not far from the truth.
"You really are an asshole sometimes," she said, her face reddening because of the embarrassment she felt. There might have been slight anger there, but only slightly.
"Ino, calm down," Tenten said. "You know you love him." She then laced her fingers through Neji's and let him lead her inside.
"Yeah, yeah," Ino muttered, giving up. Then, she said in a hopeful voice, "But, it would be good if he would compliment me every now and then." She retaliated, so she took Shikamaru's hand in hers and followed after the others.
Naruto and Sasuke were the only ones left outside, since they waited for Sakura and Hinata to finish up with the guy responsible for the guests' cars. They were the last to approach them since they had to make sure that her car was taken to the private parking lot.
"Hi, guys," Sakura greeted, while Hinata just stood there, too shy to speak up. It was Naruto's piercing stare that made her feel a bit self-conscious.
"Hey, Sakura-chan," Naruto chirped happily, without turning his eyes away from the shy girl.
Sakura smiled fondly at the scene and made a step to stand closer to Sasuke, at which he flinched slightly. Luckily, she did not notice, because she was too consumed by looking at the other two. She wanted to give Naruto and Hinata some space, feeling that there was something serious going on.
Hinata fidgeted with her fingers, before hesitantly lifting her eyes to Naruto's. "Um… Hi, Naruto-kun," she spoke timidly, a light shade of pink dusting her cheeks.
"Hi, Hinata-chan," Naruto said, while scratching the back of his neck, which was a clear act of nervousness. After staring at her for a short moment, he finally decided to be bolder and asked, "Would you like me to escort you inside?"
"Um… sure," she said, her lips stretching in a shy smile.
He politely offered her his hand and she took it while smiling brightly. As they walked away, their friends stayed behind, watching the scene.
"Tch, dobe," Sasuke said, a smirk forming on his lips. For just a moment he forgot about his uncertainty around Sakura.
"Stop it, Sasuke!" Sakura playfully hit his shoulder. But, she was not that light in her speech when she defended Naruto. "He is really sweet with her." She melted at the sight of them walking side by side, casting nervous glances at one another. The way she saw it, the scene was one of the sweetest things she had ever witnessed in her life.
Sasuke looked at her, and his eyes were instantly glued to her glowing face. He half-smiled and repeated just to rile her up, "He's a dobe." He was glad that after one look at her, his mood instantly lifted up. It was almost as if her presence calmed him, made him feel relaxed.
Once Sakura lifted her head to glare at Sasuke, she noticed that he was staring at her. The glare was lost on her and the look in her eyes softened.
Sasuke turned his head in a swift manner and tried to distract himself by looking in another direction. But, he was sure that she caught him and he already imagined the smile on her face.
A moment of silence followed, where none dared speak. Wanting to break the silence, Sakura asked, "So, are you planning on going in?"
His response did not consist of words, but of pure action. He just took her hand in his and walked toward the packed entrance. If his gesture did not surprise Sakura, then the way he intertwined their finger certainly did. Little fluttering butterflies filled her stomach and she felt so completely safe by his side.
As they all waited in line in front of the vast gates, Ino turned to share a little gossip with Sakura, but her attention was stolen by the much bigger man.
She huffed in annoyance, and shouted disbelievingly, "I can't believe it!"
Sakura, who was previously distracted by Sasuke's hand still holding hers, looked at her in question and asked, "What?" Her best friend's behavior confused her greatly.
Ino turned and without paying much attention to her own manners pointed rudely at Eiichiro. "There he is… again," she pointed out, intentionally prolonging the last word.
"Whatever, Ino," Tenten tried to dismiss her complain. "Try to ignore him." She hoped that the blonde will finally dismiss the subject and let the man do his job in peace.
"Eiichiro, don't be bothered by her. She can be a real diva sometimes," Sakura addressed the man that stood not that far away from her, being aware that he heard the comment. She really felt sorry for him, having to work for someone like her ― who wasn't in dire need of protection ― and on top of that tolerate her friend's rude protests.
"I heard that!" Ino hollered, sounding displeased because of the little nick name Sakura gave her.
"It is not a problem, Miss," Eiichiro said and smiled politely.
Once inside, they were greeted with an unexpected sight. Pure shock was written upon the girls' faces, while the boys' expressions differed from disgusted to completely astound.
The inside of the night club was decorated with many dancing stages, hanging chandeliers, heavy curtains and dim lights. All was colored in black, with bits of gray and silver. There was a group of dancing girls ― who were practically bare ― scattered around the place, while most of the guests seemed to be men. The heavy rock music blasted throughout the place, adding effect to the appalling atmosphere. Toward the center, there was a huge bar with a number of girls serving the customers. It seemed as if the clothes they wore were barely there, concealing very little.
Naruto was a bit regretful that he ever accepted to bring his friends here, because this was certainly not the kind of place he wanted to take any of the girls. Similar thoughts circled the minds of Sasuke, Shikamaru and Neji, while the rest were pretty much speechless. Sai was the only one that seemed to be particularly curious, so he observed everything with interest. However, there was only one exception to the entire group, who did not think negatively of the place.
"Alright! This is awesome!" Kiba shouted, his eyes rounded in astonishment. He was so excited; he did not know which way to turn first, especially since there were half-naked girls dancing at every corner.
"I already hate this place!" Ino droned, sounding thoroughly disgusted. She wanted to cover her eyes, not wanting to witness any more of those dreadful outfits. She was a fashion expert, and those little skimpy things – most probably made out of leather – were beyond doubt fashion faux pas.
"What the hell is this?" Sakura gasped in open horror. She dropped Sasuke's hand just so she would be able to cover her gaping mouth. This was definitely not how she imagined this place. She thought that it might be a little different ― as different as she thought Jiraiya could be ― but, this was certainly something unexpected.
"Can we… like… leave?" Tenten fought for words. She told herself that she would gladly disappear at the first chance she got and never look back. Since she did not receive a response from her boyfriend ― who stood right next to her with his fists tightly clenched ― she turned to look at him. "Neji?" she asked for his attention, but the way she saw it from her standing point he seemed to be distracted by a rather voluptuous girl dancing just above him.
"Aa," Neji called, sounding unfocused. It seemed as if his voice was a bit strained.
Tenten was raging mad by that point, so she did not waste her energy when she hit him on his shoulder. "Are you even listening to me?" she shouted right in his ear, not feeling sorry for him, not even in the least.
Neji turned and harshly asked, "What is it?" while rubbing his shoulder.
"I'm sorry for interrupting your enjoyment! Please, continue," she sarcastically spoke, making a gesture with her hands as if giving him freedom to do as he pleased. Then, she stormed in a different direction, because she felt like she could use a drink ― or two.
"Tenten," he called after her, instantly catching onto what made her so furious. He was not staring at the girls, but fuming because a certain someone insisted that they should all visit this place. He was trying to decide on who should be the first victim of his rage, while at the same time she completely misunderstood his behavior for ogling.
She ignored his call and looked at her girlfriends. "Girls, are you coming?" she asked, before turning away with finality and stomping toward the sitting area.
"I definitely am!" Ino instantly followed after her.
"Hinata, let's just go after them," Sakura suggested, a defeated look on her face.
"Okay," the shy girl agreed. She did not seem like she was very comfortable just by standing at such a dreadful looking place. She lifted her eyes and glanced at her blond companion with apologetic eyes. "I am really sorry, Naruto-kun."
Then, both girls left.
"Kiba, this is your fault!" Neji shouted, his fingers digging in his palms painfully.
"Let them cool off," Kiba spoke with an amused smile. "She'll be back in your arms in no time."
"Don't play smart with me!" The Hyuga was beyond furious, his eyes accusing. He was ready to lay a perfectly clean punch in the face of the brown-haired boy, but luckily Sasuke was fast enough to stop him. He held him back by his arms, while the blond stood firmly in between the two raging boys.
"Hey, hey, let's not start a fight," Naruto flailed with his hands and hoped that nothing bad was going to happen.
Kiba was also ready to defend himself, but Shino stood right beside him in case he was needed to prevent a fight from happening.
"Troublesome," Shikamaru muttered under his breath, but was fully alert. Chouji was right beside him, looking a bit confused.
"I think it would be best if we got something to drink and in the meantime let the girls calm down for a bit, okay?" Lee suggested with a serene voice.
"I think that Lee has a point," Naruto said, trying to sound neutral. He did not want to add oil to the already built up fire. The situation was already tense enough on its own.
"Dobe, let's go," Sasuke called, while dragging Neji beside him.
He did not seem pleased with the way he was being treated, so he practically seethed, "Let me go, Uchiha." He attempted to suppress his own anger by clenching his teeth and walked in front of the group.
Sasuke exchanged a knowing look with Naruto and they both followed after him. The rest just walked behind them.
"Urgh, I can't believe them!" Tenten shouted, disposing herself heavily upon the long chaise longue ― the entire place was decorated like an old-fashioned castle. She felt so angry at Neji that she felt like the blood was boiling in her veins. At that moment, she just wanted to punch something or better said a certain someone's face.
"Yeah!" Ino agreed without giving herself a second to think things through. "Do they have to ogle like that?" She asked, the question directed mostly at herself, but she still looked at her friends with questioning eyes. She needed assurance that her assumptions were wrong, but none of the three offered that kind of reassurance.
They were all consumed by their own jealousy, so their ability to judge the situation with clear minds was lost on them.
"I can't say that I disagree with you. They did look a bit out of it." Sakura couldn't help but agree. From her standing point all of the boys seemed a little distracted and she couldn't lie to herself that it wasn't because of the dancers. She admitted to herself that she wasn't quite sure what happened.
"A bit!" Ino asked, heavy accusation dripping from her voice. She looked positively murderous at that moment.
Sakura had to relent, so she shouted, "Okay, a lot!" There was one little detail that she caught with certainly and that was the tightening of Sasuke's hand around hers once they walked in. She was surprised at first, but once she followed his gaze, she understood what evoked such reaction. At a different time she might have been confused, but after that grip she was sure that he was affected.
"I need a drink!" Tenten said, already lifting her hand, as a sign of call, toward a girl with a tray in her hand.
Sakura was on the same wave line, because she felt like she needed something to make the feeling of jealousy go away. She did not want it there.
The girl with skimpy clothes was instantly beside them, waiting to take their order.
Ino instantly went into a frenzied mode and started ordering a number of drinks, most of them carrying quite colorful names.
"Ino-chan, please don't do this," Hinata begged, with a weak voice. The other girls' behavior was making her feel nervous. She was scared that something bad might happen because of this.
Sakura looked at her and noticed her trembling hands. She put a reassuring hand above hers and addressed the blonde. "Ino-pig, you are worrying Hinata," she warned, trying to give her a hint that she should keep the order to a minimum.
Ino turned her eyes on Hinata and circled her shoulders with one arm. "Don't worry, sweetie," she whispered. "These are just harmless cocktails." Then, she winked at her and flashed her with a smile.
The shy girl certainly hoped that she was right and that this was their last order. She just wished that the guys would decide to join them soon and put at stop to this before things take turn in an ugly direction, because as far as she knew her girlfriends were never good friends with the alcohol.
Sasuke leaned on the railing, and stared at Sakura from afar. He was lost in his own thoughts, until Naruto nudged him gently. As he turned toward his friend, he noticed the questioning look on his face. He did not feel like talking, so he chose to stay silent.
Naruto let out a heavy breath. "Sasuke, you know… I think that she already forgave you," he gently spoke, turning to look over his shoulder. He kept his eyes centered on his pink-haired friend and added, "I mean, whenever she's around you, she's glowing."
"That doesn't make me feel any less guilty," Sasuke spoke with remorse, his head cast downwards. "The fact that I broke her heart… made her cry…" he couldn't finish that torturous thought.
"Maybe if you talked… tried to apologize," suggested Naruto, his eyes hesitantly stayed glued on Sasuke's face in an attempt to read at least one emotion.
Sasuke breathed out and pressed his palms on his head. He was silent for a moment, while the blond patiently waited for him to say something. When he opened his mouth to speak, the only words that he uttered were, "That's easier said than done, Naruto."
Naruto understood what he tried to say with those words. He knew that Sasuke was never comfortable with expressing his emotions, especially not verbally. A talk with Sakura was exactly what could give him the closure he needed, but that also meant that he needed to confess his own feelings.
"Don't worry, we'll figure something out," Naruto said, while placing a reassuring hand on his friend's shoulder.
Sasuke smirked and not a moment later his attention fell on his surroundings. The expression on his face changed into one that represented displeasure. "Dobe, this was a mistake," he commented conversationally. "We should've never come here."
"Tell me about it," he murmured in defeat. Naruto definitely agreed with him, but there was nothing that could be done now, at least not until the girls decided that they forgot all about their anger.
All of a sudden, a loud booming voice interrupted their conversation.
"Ohoho, look who we have here!"
Just as they turned toward the source of the noise, the blond was engulfed in a bone crushing hug.
"Naruto, my boy!" the man with long white hair shouted right in his ear. He seemed pretty excited to see his godson there.
"Ero-sennin!" Naruto exclaimed once out of the hug, but scrunched up his nose as the stench of alcohol reached him. He looked at his godfather and noticed the rosy color on his cheeks and realized that he was a bit tipsy.
The man smiled at the nickname his godson gave him. In time, he learned to accept it as a term of endearment, but he was definitely amused that the boy still called him a perverted wise old man. He thought that he would've forgotten all about their past adventures when he told him stories and took him to all sorts of places around Japan. He just guessed that Naruto was already used to the nickname that it became a permanent habit.
"What brings you here, my boy?" the elderly man asked eagerly. He did not wait for an answer, because from the corner of his eye he recognized a few familiar faces. He turned slightly in order to better see them, and said, "Oh, you brought your little friends with you."
"Little?" Kiba instantaneously complained. "Who are you calling little?"
"I like this guy," Jiraiya said through a laugh. "You were Kiba, right?" he asked, a huge smile on his face.
"That's me," the boy said and proudly poked his own chest with his thumb. Subsequently, he just leaned in and spoke in an almost secretive manner, "I have to hand it to you… this place is great." A wide suggestive smirk grazed on his lips.
"Oh, you like it?" Jiraiya lifted his eyebrows in surprise. He sounded pleased to hear such words, which was especially pronounced after his lips lifted up in a cunning smile. He put his hand near his lips and leaned in. "I have a few very special girls that can be a great entertainment for you, boys," he whispered suggestively, winking at them all. "What do you say?"
The others just gave up right then and there. If Jiraiya was this enthusiastic, then nothing good was coming. They just had to endure the night the best way they could, but that also meant that a lot of avoiding was needed.
However, Naruto did not plan to let his godfather do as he pleased, so he openly disagreed, "No, we didn't come for that, Ero-sennin." He even tried to discreetly point toward the sitting area where the girls were sharing a few drinks.
"Oh, so you brought the girls, huh?" he asked, a very wicked smile forming on his lips.
"Yes, like we'll go somewhere without them," Naruto said honestly. He really did not want any problems, especially not ones that involved any of those dirty dancers hanging on both of Jiraiya's sides.
"If you ask me, you should," he spoke in a voice that sounded quite nasty. He even suggestively lifted his eyebrows.
Naruto's face scrunched up in disgust and he refused with strong voice, "No, thanks!"
Most of his friends were thankful that he was not that stupid to act like his own godfather, or worse follow his footsteps. They definitely were not feeling attracted to any of those dirty-looking dancers and were particularly not agreeable with the age difference.
"Okay, you can at least accept a few drinks on the house," the old man suggested, trying to make an innocent face.
"Well… maybe a few drinks are not such a bad idea," Naruto sounded unsure. He scratched the back of his head and looked back at his friends, asking for help.
They all hesitated for a moment, but Jiraiya insisted, "Come, come… join me at my table!"
They reluctantly followed after him, but they did not have to wait that long to actually feel regret for making such a decision.
Tenten took a generous sip of her cocktail, but as she lowered the glass on the table she caught a good view of what the guys were up to. If her anger cooled down within the last half an hour, this definitely reversed everything.
At first she just gaped at the scene, but then she couldn't stop herself and called. "Girls, look!"
Ino's head snapped up in an instant. "What?" she asked curiously, but seeing the expression on Tenten's face confused her slightly. After she followed her gaze, she could already feel the fury boiling inside of her.
"The guys… they lost it!" Tenten pointed out, even if it was not really necessary, because three pair of eyes were already staring at the scene.
All they could see was that the guys were looking quite comfortable in a secluded area with a huge number of girls sitting in between them. They were even helping them with their drinks, which certainly did not look like it was just an innocent act.
Shino and Sai looked like they were enjoying themselves with a pair of girls, which was actually true.
One was offering food to Chouji, who seemed quite pleased when he accepted it.
Lee was excitedly chatting with another.
Kiba had a girl straddling his hips, while a huge smile was stretched across his face.
Another girl sat in Shikamaru's lap and even if he appeared bored, Ino was not fooled.
Tenten was trying to maintain her composure, but she snapped the moment one girl leaned in from behind Neji and touched his hair. She noticed the grip he had on his glass, but she thought that it meant something else entirely.
Hinata could not even believe her eyes when she saw Naruto surrounded by three girls. She did not even have the time to see his pained expression, because she already hyperventilated.
And, lastly, Sakura was having difficulty breathing. Her nails dig in the thick material of the chaise longue, her wide eyes focused on Sasuke and the girl that had her hand on his chest while offering him a drink. She was unable to stand the feeling that gripped her chest, so she swiftly averted her eyes at the exact same time he pushed her away. The drink fell with a crash on the ground, but the noise was overpowered by the music.
The girls did not even consider the possibility of misunderstanding, because the way they saw it, everything was pretty much clear.
"What the hell?" Sakura spoke in disbelief, refusing to turn her eyes in the direction of the dreadful scene.
"Ino, can I borrow this?" Hinata asked, as she reached for the blonde's drink. She felt like the room was getting way too hot and she really needed something to cool her off.
"Be my guest," Ino said, while trying to think of something. She felt so angry that she wanted to make them regret, to make them feel guilty for treating them like this.
"Is it sweet?" Hinata asked, but she already brought it to her lips. The bitter taste of the Campari burned her throat. She scrunched up her face and instantly left the glass on the table.
"I'm so sorry, Hinata." Ino looked at her apologetically and offered, "If you want to, I can order you something sweet."
Hinata nodded timidly and agreed with the offer, "I want to."
After making the order, Ino turned to look at her friends and spoke with determination, "Okay, this is getting over the line!"
"We are taking control this time!" Tenten shouted, as she slammed a fist on the table. It was quite evident that she was still very angry.
The blonde already formed the perfect plan and smirked wickedly.
Her best friend recognized that look and recalled a time when they fooled around with a few crazy ideas. At that time, they never even considered of doing that, but now when they were under the influence of alcohol and pretty pissed off, the plan seemed perfect.
"Ino, are you thinking what I'm thinking?" Sakura finally asked, a huge smile appearing on her flushed face.
She nodded eagerly in response, but then looked at the other two and asked, "Girls, are you up for it?"
"Up for what?" Tenten's curiosity sparked. Her mind was hazy because of the drinks she had, but she could feel the adrenaline building up in her veins.
As Ino told them the plan, Hinata almost finished her newly arrived drink. She was exceptionally nervous, especially since the plan seemed a bit too bold for her.
"Girls, I am not so sure about this," she hesitantly spoke, feeling slightly worried because of the look on their faces.
"C'mon, Hinata, you'll be great," Ino reassured her. Then, she stood up and took a final sip from her own drink and walked toward a more crowded area, where a few high tables were scattered.
Hinata followed after her, and asked with a shaky voice, "You think so?"
"Yeah, trust me!" Ino spoke with assurance. "You can pair up with Tenten and I'll go with Sakura." She smiled in encouragement and winked in a friendly way.
"Okay," the girl said and walked beside Tenten.
The brown-haired girl approached one of the high tables and after seeing that they would clearly need help to reach the top, she turned toward one of the guys that stood there. She touched his shoulder and leaned closer to his ear. "Can you help us get on this table?" she whispered sweetly and looked at him expectantly.
He instantly complied and helped them both up. He stared at them with eager eyes and smiled wickedly.
Tenten ignored him, and turned toward her friend. "Hinata, let's rock this club!"
The usually shy girl flashed a small smile and they both started dancing. The way they swayed their hips atop the table, with their high heels on, gripped the attention of many men in the club. Luckily they all wore pants or otherwise their plan wouldn't have been very good if they had too many man looking up their skirts.
Got to meet the hottie with the million dollar body!
They say its over budget, but you'd pay her just to touch it!Come on!
In the meantime, Sakura and Ino found themselves atop another table, because the blonde already used the same approach as Tenten. They shared a wicked smile and let themselves loose with the heavy rock music blasting in their ears.
Dirty little lady with the pretty pink thong
Sakura kicked a bottle with her high heels and the moment it smashed on the ground practically every man that stood around the table had his attention on them both dancing. They lifted their hands up in the air and rocked their hips in rhythm with the music.
Ain't it funny how the honey wanted you all along
Sakura's bodyguard, Eiichiro, was the first that witnessed the girls' little escapade. He was definitely not pleased with their action, but meddling in his client's life was not in his job description. However, he did not plan on letting things escalate to something more terrible, so he decided to approach the boys.
As he walked in their direction, he swiftly measured them all and chose the one that seemed more suitable for the job. He steadily approached Sasuke and did not waste time on pleasantries, but shot directly on the matter at hand.
"Young man, you seem more reasonable than the rest," he said with a firm voice and just with those words he instantly had Sasuke's attention. "I think it would be better if you took care of the girls."
"Where are they?" he asked, his voice composed, but he felt a small tingling inside his stomach that indicated the built up of worry.
The man just inclined his head in the direction of the girls, who were still perched atop the tables. Sasuke followed his gaze and once his eyes soaked in the scene, his mouth fell open.
(you naughty thing)
Your ripping up the dance floor honey
The music registered in his ears only because his attention was caught by Sakura's movements. She was acting like a wild animal dancing like that. Ino was not an angel either. They were both shaking their asses and flailing their hair in wild disarray around them. He felt heavy onslaught of rage after seeing the lustful looks they received because of their provocative movements.
(you naughty woman)
You shake your ass around for everyone
Once his eyes moved a bit to the side, he noticed Hinata and Tenten doing the exact same thing. He did not know what made them all act like this, but he knew that none of the guys would be pleased. He was quite sure that his best friend will be the first one to express his fury.
"Shit!" he gritted out. "Naruto!" he shouted after his friend, his voice filled with anger. As he walked away, Naruto turned in the direction he thought he heard his name being called.
He needed only a few seconds to adjust his eyes to the fast developing scene. "Oh, no!" the blonde shouted and was already rushing in the direction of his love interest.
"What the hell?" Kiba shouted, already on his feet. He forgot all about the girl that not a moment ago had his attention.
(your such a mover)
I love the way you dance with anybody
(the way you swing)
And tease them all by sucking on your thumb
Neji was beyond shocked, but it took him less than a second to rush in the direction of his girlfriend. "Tenten!" he gritted out her name, his temper flaring instantaneously.
"This is definitely not what I signed up for," Shikamaru muttered, but he forgot all about his lazing out. He told himself that he would rather die a thousand deaths than let some nasty men ogle his girlfriend. "Chouji, let's go," he called and his best friend was already beside him.
The others just worriedly followed, trying to keep up with the unfolding situation.
Eiichiro was on their heels, already calling for some back up in case they needed help.
Sasuke was the first one that reached Sakura and Ino.
"Sakura!" he called after her and reached up. He tried to catch her hand, but she just smiled at him and kept dancing. Noticing the light shade of pink on her cheeks, he assumed that she was slightly drunk. He tried a second time and firmly took her hand in his.
Shikamaru and Chouji were finally right beside him, their attention on Ino. They tried pulling her down gently, but she resisted, angrily glaring at them both. She was still mad at them for cheating on her trust. Shikamaru figured that she was going to be difficult as usual, so he decided that it would be best if he and Chouji started apologizing. At that point he was willing to do anything just to make her get down and stop with this nonsense.
It didn't take long for Sasuke to convince Sakura to get down from the makeshift dance podium. He encircled her thighs with his hands, as she placed her hands on his shoulders for support. He nodded with his head as a gesture of assurance that she was safe, so she stepped out of the table and slid down his hands until he had a firm grip on her waist.
She giggled as she leaned her forehead on his. The pink on her cheeks was even more noticeable, now that her face was so close to his. He lowered her further, letting her feet touch the ground. He took a step back, wanting to make sure that she was okay.
"Sakura, you're drunk," he noted, more to himself than her.
"I know," she giggled and swayed a bit, feeling dizzy. She held his hands in hers as a means of support, because when she looked at the ground it seemed like it rotated in place.
He realized that the alcohol was starting to affect her strongly, because she practically fell in his hands.
"I'll take you home, don't worry," he said to her, as he placed one firm hand on her waist.
"Sasuke… kun…" Her head lulled back and he instantly reached to steady it.
"Aa," he breathed in her ear. Wanting to give her assurance that he was there with her, he hugged her close to his chest.
"You smell nice," she whispered, but he heard her because her lips were right at his ear. He smiled fondly, but then his breath caught at her next words.
"I love you…"
He froze on the spot, but not a second later his attention was pulled by a loud crashing sound.
As he turned toward the noise, he took note of Ino leaning against Shikamaru. However, he also noticed that Chouji was already running in the direction of the commotion.
Apparently, the chaos ensued because of Naruto's inability to contain his rage. Everything was perfectly fine, until one man decided to be more bold and gripped Hinata's ass. It was his misfortune that Naruto witnessed everything and already had the perfect momentum to slam a hard fist in his jaw.
"What the hell do you think you're doing, asshole?" he shouted, but the idiot was already sprawled on the ground. Naruto did not care that he was much older than him or that his friends were already directing their fists toward his face. The only thing he cared about at that moment was his precious Hinata.
Sasuke noticed everything, but he felt like it was already too late because the guys with raised fist were closer to his best friend than he was. He still tried to reach him in time, but someone beat him to it.
Two large men stood right in front of Naruto, shielding him from the offenders.
It was Eiichiro's voice that warned, "If you want to mess with this boy, you mess with us first!"
The men were not that courageous in front of the obviously stronger bodyguards, so they backed off a bit and instead turned to help their bruised friend.
Sasuke just smirked in relief. He started to really appreciate the big man, because he proved himself to be very loyal toward his client. Despite the fact that his job was to protect only Sakura, he was kind enough to care about her friends too.
Since the commotion grasped the attention of all the guests, the club security was alerted too. They came a bit too late, but they still wanted to know what the hell happened there.
"It's okay, we got everything under control," Eiichiro addressed them and held his badge up. Once they saw the emblem that obviously meant that he was above their station, they thanked him for a job well done. He still wanted to make sure that the worse was already over, so he said, "But, I suggest you kick these troublemakers out before anything bad happens." He professionally pointed out the group of guys that had the decency to assault a minor.
The guys from the club security were already upon them and not a minute later they were taken outside.
Naruto helped Hinata step down from the high table and hugged her in a comforting way. He noticed that she was slightly shaken, so he pulled back so he would be able to look in her eyes. He cupped her cheeks in his warm hands and spoke with a gentle tone, "It's okay, Hinata chan. It's over."
A few tears escaped her crystal clear eyes and he hugged her for a second time. She felt so much better after being held by him in such a protective way. Her heart warmed whenever he was near her, but at this precise moment she was just glad that he was there to protect her.
After witnessing the entire scene, Ino seriously reconsidered her previous complaints about Eiichiro. From that moment on, she was glad that he was there to protect Sakura, because that meant that her best friend was truly safe.
Tenten was scared because of everything that transpired. She felt guilty for causing this just because of some stupid jealousy, so she desperately apologized to her boyfriend. He smiled at her silliness and assured her that everything was okay and that it wasn't her fault.
They were all glad that it was over and the only thing left for them was to quietly go home. However, no one considered the fact that there were paparazzi waiting for Sakura right outside the club. Unfortunately, she and Sasuke decided to be the last ones to leave by letting their friends walk out first. They did not have much choice either way, because Eiichiro insisted to be the one to take her home and Sasuke did not want to leave her side.
Sasuke walked out of the doors with Sakura right beside him. He had his arm wrapped around her waist, while she rested her head on his shoulder. The cool air that hit her face felt really good against her heated cheeks. She lifted her head and breathed in, the dizziness that clouded her mind drifting away in an instant.
She did not have much time to enjoy the refreshing feeling, because her vision was assaulted by the blinding flashes produced by the numerous cameras. Sasuke tried to shield her by bringing her face closer to his chest, but he could not protect her from the intrusive questions they shot her with.
Sakura, did you have a good time?
Did you drink tonight?
We heard that you danced atop a table for the guests there.
Did you enjoy yourself?
Their loud voices were like piercing needles, making her head spin.
At that exact moment Eiichiro shot out from behind her and Sasuke, and stood just before them. His eyes roamed in search for the paparazzo that she needed protection from most, but the flashes prevented him from having a clear view. He prepared himself to react in case any of them attempted even the slightest of movements toward her.
None of them seemed perturbed by the large man's presence, so they kept asking questions that were meant to provoke her.
Are you Sasuke, one of the heirs to the prestigious Uchiha clan?
What are you doing with a pop star like her?
Are you using her as your play toy?
Sasuke was surprised ― to say the least ― that they actually knew who he was, but he dismissed that thought for a much more important matter. Sakura was much more important than any of those stupid accusations. He pointedly ignored them as he moved slowly toward the car that was waiting for them. The only thing he cared about was bringing Sakura to safety.
Is she only for your entertainment?
Does it cost much to have a girl like her by your side?
That last question held so much hidden meaning that Sakura could not just easily ignore. She could not overlook the words they said about Sasuke, couldn't close the eyes to the accusations. She did not know what came over her, but once they started assaulting Sasuke, she couldn't contain her rage.
She flash stepped in front of the large man and lashed out at the first paparazzo she could reach. He was taken by surprise when he noticed that she took his camera in her hands. A wicked thought flashed through her mind as she laughed cruelly right in his face and in the next instant she smashed it on the cemented floor. She reveled in the feeling of hearing it break.
But, once she adjusted her vision on his face, she realized that she made a huge mistake. It was him, the one that followed her relentlessly, that pushed her toward her edge. She froze in fear while he crooked an evil smile. Once he lifted his hand in the air, she closed her eyes.
Eiichiro was already beside her, trying to take her away from his reach. Just as he moved her and shielded her with his body, a black shade flashed in front of him.
"Don't you dare touch her!"
Everything happened so fast that Sakura was not quite sure that she caught onto everything. But, there was one thing she was certain of, and that was Sasuke's roar that her ears registered before she heard the crack of someone's jaw.
She dared a single glance from behind her bodyguard and saw the man lying on the floor with blood on his mouth and jaw. Sasuke stood above him, but she could only see his back and not his face. However, she could only imagine the infamous deadly glare in those black eyes of his.
"Miss, we better leave, now," Eiichiro spoke with a steady voice and took her hand in his. He led her away from the paparazzi, who were silently observing everything. None dared move out of fear.
Sasuke was right beside her in an instant. He let her enter the car first and then followed after her. As he closed the door, he thought that he recognized the face of one of Itachi's friends among the paparazzi. He turned to glance a final time toward the crowd of men and saw the same guy flashing a wink at him. He just smirked knowingly and shut the door.
Afterward, the SUV just sped away in the darkness of the street.
Naruto drove Hinata to her house, refusing to let the girl go with her cousin. After everything that happened that night he felt very protective of her. They sat in silence the entire duration of the ride.
The girl was too shy to even think of saying something, while Naruto was just plainly nervous. He kept glancing at her, but seeing the blush on her cheeks is what prevented him from opening his mouth. He did not want to make the situation even more uncomfortable than it was.
When he pulled to a stop in front of the Hyuga house, she quietly bid him goodbye and opened the car door. Naruto was so nervous that he didn't even think of walking out and opening the door for her. But, he didn't want to see her leave like that, without him saying goodbye to her in a proper way.
Hinata was about to exit the car when she felt a warm hand upon her own. It was Naruto's attempt to stop her from leaving.
"Hinata-chan, wait," he spoke very gently, something that was not his usual way of addressing people. His soft tone of voice was especially reserved for the girl he always wanted to treat with gentleness and care.
"Naruto-kun, is something wrong?" she asked very quietly, because she was unsure of his reasons for wanting her to stay longer. Just the mere thought of it was making her feel fluttering butterflies in her stomach.
"No, I just wanted to wish you goodnight." He looked away, as a noticeable blush crept up his neck. "Sweet dreams, Hinata-chan," he said quietly while giving her a very sweet smile that was reserved only for her.
She smiled a very sweet smile at him, as a pure shine was making her lavender eyes glint beautifully. "Thank you, Naruto-kun. That is really sweet of you. Goodnight." Then she did something she never thought she would have the courage to do. She leaned in and kissed him on the cheek, at which he smiled broadly and felt sudden warmth envelop his whole body.
As she exited the car and walked away toward the house entrance, he told himself that this was by far the best night of his life.
Sasuke took Sakura to her room. He made sure that she was comfortably sleeping in her own bed and then he was ready to leave. But, something made him stay. He did not want to leave yet, because something was pulling him toward her. He just wanted to grant himself a moment where he could be with her and know that he was there to keep her safe.
That feeling gave him reassurance that he was capable of offering her something other than pain and tears, that he was giving her warmth and love. As he towered over her sleeping figure, she started to murmur dreamily.
"Sasuke… kun…" her whispers reminded him of the three words she said back at the club.
'I love you…' Her confession replayed in his mind like a gentle lull.
"Sakura," he whispered and leaned close to her face. He kept very still, just staring at her sleeping face that was an inch away from his. Then, he let his lips fall upon the corner of her soft ones, as one single thought floated though his mind.
'I love you, too.'
He then lifted himself up, cast one more glance in her direction and left.
Once he was downstairs, he realized that the man called Eiichiro was waiting for him outside. Before he even approached him, the man already opened his mouth and addressed him.
"I'll take you home," he simply said. His statement sounded more like an order than a given option. "She's safe now that she's home, so it should be fine," he explained further and already walked toward the big black car, expecting the young man to follow after him.
Sasuke silently complied, not wanting to argue with the man. He did not mind calling himself a taxi, but he was fine with this arrangement, too.
"You care about her a lot, don't you?" the man suddenly asked, surprising Sasuke.
"Hn," he just grunted in response, not feeling very comfortable conversing with the man about his own feelings.
"I can tell, you know," he then said knowingly, his lips tilting in a small smile. After a short pause, he honestly spoke, "It's good that she has someone like you, because Miss Sakura is a really nice person and she deserves to be loved."
Sasuke was silent for a moment, but then he turned toward the man and said, "Aa, I know."
Eiichiro just nodded in return and opened the door for him. The Uchiha entered the car and allowed himself a moment to think over the man's words. He let his thoughts float toward his pink-haired girl and smiled fondly. He felt truly happy at that moment and even if it was just for a short while he let himself enjoy the feeling.
Deidara triumphantly played with the small gadget he considered as a small price for his relentless efforts. He completed his mission without a flaw and that meant only one thing. It was time for Akatsuki to take their plan to the next level.
His lips lifted in a cunning smile, as he dialed a familiar number. Right after the first ring, there was someone already waiting for his report on the other line.
"Itachi, I have something very valuable, yeah," he spoke through the phone, his voice particularly boastful.
"Bring it at the base," Itachi's cool voice spoke in return. "We're waiting."
TO BE CONTINUED…
A/N: Thank you for reading! Please, leave me a review, because even the smallest of words give me inspiration! Also, your words never cease to make me smile!
I have a few questions that concern the future development of the story...
Do you think that there should be a lemon in this story? More importantly... do you want one?
Would you like to read a flashback of the last encounter Sakura and Sasuke had before their break up?