cinderella, baby, you make me smile.

and when the clock strikes twelve, you take my hand and steal my breath away.

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Sasuke always thought it was inevitable that they would get together when one by one all of their friends paired up. It was pretty obvious, he supposed, something that everyone expected, something that wouldn't be a surprise in any way.

Besides, Sakura was good company. She came to almost every band practice, she made him laugh and she took him by surprise at the strangest of times. It didn't hurt that she was pretty, too; the kind of pretty that wasn't glaringly obvious to the eyes, the kind of pretty that was gentle and didn't settle in until he realized oh my god she's pretty, the kind of pretty that would never dissipate even over time.

So really, Sasuke rather thought that they'd make a good couple. At first glance they might seem clichéd in every way, maybe—the quiet, dark boy with the cheerful, ever-smiling girl—but that wasn't much of a problem, in his opinion, especially because it wasn't so much a cliché, because, well… there was something wrong about the way she responded, when he asked her out.

He had gone to her house to complete their month-long Chemistry project, and once they were out of earshot of her parents, he decided that he would pop the balloon and ask the question—or rather, state his intentions as clearly as possible. He was Sasuke, after all, and Sasuke didn't do poems.

"Let me take you out on a date."

After what seemed to be forever, Sakura only blinked, "A date?"

There was something wrong in her tone, too, something that told him she was about to laugh at his face because oh noooo, this cannot be happening!

Really, if it were clichéd, it would be easy. She would burst into tears and tell him she'd been pining for him all these years already. And oh, how wonderful it was that he finally realized it…

But as it was, Sakura didn't burst into tears—she burst out laughing in a few seconds, and while he liked it when she laughed, he wasn't sure if he liked it when she laughed at him.

"You can't be serious," she smiled and patted his back warmly.

Sasuke felt like a little child, and glared at her. Probably not the best way to tell his best friend of three years that yes, he was deeply infatuated with her, but she was Sakura, for God's sake, and she read him like an open book.

She didn't seem to get it this time, though, as the next thing he knew, she was already humming to herself, tapping her pencil to her chin, eyes focused on the Chemistry paper she was filling in.

"Sakura."

She looked up, and oh, those eyes of her, "Yeah?"

"Let me take you out on a date," he repeated, because really, he was rather straightforward and Sakura was amazingly dense for a straight-A-student.

She blinked and laughed again, "Look, Sasuke, I know you're tired of Chemistry. We've been doing it for days, after all. And I know we rather have chemistry between us, but there is no escape! We have got to hand in this project on time, or I won't be partnering up with you for our next. Got that? Got that!" This time she patted his hand—an upgrade from his back, sort of—and proceeded to get back to work.

Sasuke watched her pencil move on the paper, making a long, curly tail at the end of her 'n' in the word 'hydrocarbon'. He sighed deeply and then scowled.

She looked up again, her bangs falling unfaithfully in front of her face, covering her eyes. Annoyed, she grabbed a hairpin and tucked them on the side of her head, before raising her eyebrows at him, "What's wrong?"

"Nothing," he replied sulkily, and picked up his pencil.

The moment was gone, and he'd be damned if he popped the question—sorry, the statement—three times in a row, only to get all of them rejected.

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"You should take her out to dinner," Naruto advised suddenly, when they were running through the song they would perform next week, "Girls like to be taken out somewhere romantic, you know. Give her presents when there's no occasion. Get the atmosphere right and you'll be set."

Sasuke looked disgusted, while Neji and Kiba snorted loudly. He was Sasuke and Sasuke very rarely took advice from anyone. Besides, this was Naruto. It would be downright degrading if only Sasuke didn't realize that the blond meant well—and that he had a point.

Get the atmosphere right; that was the point. Unfortunately, running on a college student budget, and having spent his several hundred dollars on getting his guitar strings replaced, he didn't exactly have the money to take her out to expensive places. He had the Uchiha money bank behind him, but he'd be damned if he had to use it. Itachi survived all the way through college without once touching it, and Sasuke vowed to himself he'd do even better—or die trying, both were an option.

So he did the next best thing he could: give her presents, take her out shopping. For shoes, because wasn't that what Prince Charming did for Cinderella? Bought Cinderella really beautiful shoes? He didn't exactly remember the story, but he knew it involved shoes.

In the end, Sakura settled for a pretty pair of sexy, black heels from Charles & Keith. She refused to let him pay, however, and Sasuke was only comforted by the fact that it was the pair he had chosen for her.

When she wore the sexy black heels to a party around two weeks later, along with an equally sexy black mini-dress, Sasuke thought he should ask her to dance—it simply was another way to show her just how he actually felt about her.

Sakura, of course, was thrilled and agreed to dance with him. Only after fifteen minutes, she couldn't find it in herself to dance anymore—her feet hurt, hurt, so she took off her heels.

It was only gentlemanly to help her, so Sasuke offered to carry her on his back. Sakura giggled and pounced on him, and it was only after he settled comfortably behind his back that Sasuke realized how much they fit, and voiced that thought.

"I think we fit, too," she giggled, her lips so close to his right ear. As he lowered her down to the passenger's seat of his sexy, black open roof Jaguar, courtesy of his parents for his high school graduation, she added thoughtfully, "You know, we should go to the beach."

"What?" Sasuke asked, bewildered. He slipped onto the driver's seat, the engine roaring into life.

"We should go to the beach," Sakura repeated, beaming at him.

He frowned, "Why?"

"It's a beautiful night," she gestured to the sky—starry, not a single cloud in his view—and then to her dress, "And we're dressed so nicely. Let's go somewhere we can dance barefooted!"

Sasuke did see the point, and he didn't need to be convinced. Besides, she was right—the night was young, the sky was beautiful, and her dress was perfect on her. What more reason did he need?

The beach was empty and the only sound they could hear was the waves when they arrived. Sakura jumped off and ran to the beach, her black heels hanging from her fingers. She stopped and pressed her right foot deeper into the sand, and then sighed contentedly. The sand was warm and wet and grainy on the palm of her feet.

"Come here, Sasuke!" she called out, laughing when he looked at her dubiously, "You pretty-looking thing, don't be such a girl!"

Oh, that did it. He slipped off his shoes and up with her, he grabbed her by the waist, lifting her and swinging her around—"Oh, Sasuke, damn it! I think I accidentally threw one of my heels away!" Her laughter filled the air and when she was set down, she stood on his feet. They were unusually close to each other, and her hair smelled like daisies.

"You," she poked his chest, laughing, "owe me a heel."

"I'll take you out shopping again," he promised easily, knowing full well the truth of his words, "Only you'll have to let me pay this time."

"Ah, what's wrong with me paying for my own stuff?" she asked back smilingly, stepping down from his feet, "I'm a big girl now, Sasuke."

"I know," he couldn't resist adding, "You're quite heavy."

She rolled her eyes, "You could have just told me you weren't strong enough to carry me."

"I am," Sasuke replied, and effortlessly lifted her up again to make a point, hands on her waist. When she laughed again—he knew it; she was tickly over there—he put her down, his hands never leaving.

She looked up at him, silent for a moment, and then broke into a grin, "Let's dance."

He raised his eyebrows, but he offered his hand anyway, the other one settling on the small of her back, "Without music?"

"Can't you hear the waves?" she asked back, taking his hand and smiling as she put her other hand on his shoulder. The next thing he knew, they were dancing already—and all he could hear for a long, long time was her soft humming, the waves washing over the sand, and the erratic beating of his own heart.

Now would be the time, he decided.

"Sakura."

"Yeah?"

"I really, really like you."

She blinked, and damn it, there was that expression again. She broke into another amused grin like she did the first time he asked her out, "Why, thank you, I really, really like you, too."

Sasuke scowled. He was already being so straightforward and yet he wasn't getting the point across. God must hate him.

"That's not what I—"

Her phone rang loudly, all of a sudden, and she immediately broke away from his hold to pick it up.

"Hello?" she said, and then her face relaxed, "Sure, Naruto, let me get him for you."

The idiot. Sasuke cursed inwardly and took the phone from Sakura.

"What the fuck do you want, dobe?" he all but snarled into the receiver.

"How did it go?" Naruto sounded excited and Sasuke really, really wanted to hit him with a baseball bat now, "Did you finally tell her?"

"I was about to," he growled, "And you just messed up."

"Aw, I'm sorry. But I'm sure it's not that bad if she's still with you at 11 PM…"

Sasuke froze, "What time did you say it was?"

"11 PM…?" Naruto sounded confused.

"Shit," Sasuke cursed again, and then hung up.

They had been dancing for one hour already—who would have known? Now she was late to go home and he knew, just knew, that she would get grounded for it. A college student she might be, but her father was still overly protective of her, which was why she still lived at home. Strangely, she seemed to enjoy it, and not hate it the way most people would.

"We're going home," he announced to her, and she simply nodded, hearing the urgency in his voice. They were on their way at once, her right shoe forgotten somewhere on the beach.

They arrived four minutes to twelve and Sasuke was very, very sure that Sakura was most definitely going to get punished.

"Go," he told her.

She looked at him, the remaining pair of her black, sexy heels on her lap, and then laughed, "Aww, are you worried about me?"

"Yes," he growled. As if that was a question.

"It's fine," she said, "Father trusts you quite a lot. I don't think I'll get grounded this time."

He reminded her, "It's almost twelve."

"It's not very nice to have curfews, you know," she sighed and eased into her seat, putting her shoe down on the car floor, and looked for her phone. She had thrown it into the car when they rushed to get her home, and now it was missing.

He retrieved her phone from under her chair and handed it to her, "You don't have curfews on weekends."

"Thanks," Sakura smiled genuinely, "You really know how to make a girl feel better."

"You're welcome," Sasuke muttered, and closed his eyes.

She smiled and leaned forward, dropping a soft kiss on his cheek. His eyes shot open, the digital clock on the dashboard turning 00:00, and he could feel her eyelashes grazing his upper cheekbone, and—

"Haruno Sakura!" a very angry male voice thundered. The fairy godfather. "What the hell do you think you're doing?"

Sakura jumped, shocked, but he could almost swear he saw her eyes gleam with mischief before she turned around and waved cheerfully at Haruno Takeshi, who looked as if he wanted to castrate Sasuke on the spot. The fact that he had a metallic spade in his hands didn't help, either. So much for a magic wand.

"Hi, Father!" she greeted him cheerfully, and then stepped down from the car, her bare feet crossing over the lawn, "Sasuke's just giving me a lift."

"Mr. Haruno," Sasuke nodded politely.

Takeshi spat, "Uchiha Sasuke."

"I apologize for—"

"Save it," the older, green-eyed man snapped, and then pointed his spade at Sasuke, "Just go home."

"Goodnight, Sasuke," Sakura waved to him, her face slightly apologetic, "I'll see you tomorrow."

"I will decide that, Haruno Sakura. Now go inside!"

"Yes, Father," Sakura sighed, and then went inside.

Once she was out of earshot, Takeshi growled threateningly at Sasuke, "One more time and I will personally hurt you, Uchiha."

"Got it, Mr. Haruno," Sasuke replied, slightly in relief, "I'm really—"

"Yeah," Takeshi cut him out again, and then turned around and entered his house.

If Sakura wasn't going to get grounded because she was late, then she was most definitely going to get grounded now. No father ever did enjoy the sight of his one and only daughter kissing a guy in the middle of the night, after all.

Sasuke sighed heavily.

So much for confessing.

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to be continued.

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Any reference to Chemistry is because I have been trying to study Chemistry for the last… twenty hours or so, and I've only got about 3/11 materials down. Less than 12 hours to the exam, too, so yeah… I'm doomed.

This isn't going to be long, though, so I'll complete this in about… two-three weeks, yep. I want to know what people think!