Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto. In my wildest dreams, though, my name is Masashi Kishimoto, and I have suddenly realized that Hinata and Gaara were made for each other and I have to draw a whole new series just for them.

Chapter Five – Thank God for Sakura

"S-s-s-s-s-sakura – " Hinata stuttered miserably, legs drawn up before her. All the blood rushed from her face, leaving it drawn and white. She hugged her legs tightly, and rocked backwards childishly. "S-s-s-s-she – " she tried. She would've tried to form a coherent word again, but a couple of girls walked up the steps, almost noticing her.

"Oh my god, did you see Sakura's outfit? It's like, so hot, I have to get something like that."

"I know! I don't know what it is about her that makes guys fall for her left and right. But I'll be it's because she's not innocent at all. I bet they all like her because she screws her friends behind everyone's back."

"You know, I think even Sasuke is starting to like her. Must be the way she throws herself at them, and that look she gives them."

They continued on. Hinata started thinking.

All the guys liked Sakura because she was impossibly beautiful, talented and most of all (apparently) – s-sexy. Hinata? Pft, even in her mind, she tripped over the s-word. It wasn't something Hinata Hyuuga would say. Maybe she was too innocent. Was that why Naruto didn't like her that way?

xXxXx

Sakura Haruno breathed hard.

That was… so exhilarating. Getting to dump all her worries on that pale bitch, and seeing her reaction? Priceless. She bet the wrench was crying her eyes out right this moment. Maybe she was even rethinking chasing after Sasuke. As she rightly should, seeing how Sasuke was hers.

She walked slower now; having left the little girl a crying wreck was enough for today. Sakura was a little tired. She stepped into the school hallway, and then stopped dead. A horrible thought struck her.

What if what Sakura had told her just made her more determined? What if she went to Sasuke and showed him the nail marks on her arm (which she would definitely do, tattle-tale she was)? She knew guys didn't exactly find violent girls hot. Unless you were talking about Naruto, it didn't make a difference whether Sakura was violent to him or not, he still idolized her. That guy was hopeless.

Okay, so that may not have been the best idea ever.

Shit.

She needed to somehow patch things up with Hinata (highly doubtful), become best friends with her (impossible) and get her not to show Sasuke what she had done to her arm (no way in hell).

Sakura Haruno was in trouble.

xXxXx

Hinata heard footsteps nearing her. She wasn't sure what time it was – maybe lessons had already started. She hoped it wasn't a teacher coming to check on the soft snuffling sounds coming from behind the bushes. That would be bad. She would have to go for counseling, to say the least.

No, wait. Those were heels. A female teacher? Vice-principal Shizune?

Taking a deep breath, she tried to quiet herself. Her sobs had been kind of loud, she realized. Crap! I have to – I have to think of a cover story! Hinata thought hurriedly. My dog died!

"Hinata? You okay there?"

Hinata looked up fearfully. That was the most awful sound she had ever heard in her entire life.

Because Sakura, the person who had (very) recently abused her, was looking down at her, smiling and holding out her hand like they were best friends.

xXxXx

"I – I don't know what to say," Hinata whispered.

Sakura was actually being nice to her.

She had looked bewilderedly at the offered hand. Sakura had grabbed her, pulled her up and let her rest on her shoulder while she walked her to their first class (conveniently, they had it together). The pinkette had then spun some story and fed it to the teacher, who allowed them to visit the bathroom and 'freshen up' were the words he'd used. It was also probably Sakura's cred with the teacher that he'd just let them off without even a word of warning.

And now, she was sitting on one of the toilet seats, a 3-ply Kleenex clutched in her hand. With Sakura by her side, soft hands rubbing her back in a soothing manner.

How had this happened?

"I – I don't know what to say."

xXxXx

"Look, Hinata. I have to apologize to you for what I did just now."

"It's okay, really…" although her tone made it pretty obvious it wasn't. "I can't say I liked it, but I…" she stopped, wondering how she could put this nicely.

"I'm really sorry. I was just upset and angry that Sasuke pays you more attention than he does me. I kind of get jealous easily," Sakura admitted with a Hinata-esque blush. "I mean, I get that you guys have known each other from the crib and that he used to have this mega-crush on you – by the way, he's told me he's over that, no hard feelings – but I'm his girlfriend, right?" She smiled pointedly.

"Um…"

"So let's make up! I think we'd make really good friends, to be honest. I'd even give you a makeover, totally free of charge. I mean, no offense, you kind of need one. Badly."

"T-thanks, Sakura… You're pretty nice."

"Well, thanks too! And I'm really sorry for what I said. Hope I didn't hurt you?"

"No," Hinata lied, feeling her arm throb painfully. To distract Sakura from the pained look in her eyes, she crushed the tissue into a little ball and aimed for the wastepaper basket. Bulls-eye.

"That's pretty cool! And that's great! So I know you probably don't like me much, but I do hope we'll be friends. Great ones, in fact. I think Karin and Tayuya would really like you."

Friends, thought Hinata. I suppose I could… Even though her gut wasn't happy with this arrangement (it was telling her 'Sakura is bad! Don't trust her!'), she had to give her a chance. Who was she to deny anyone a chance to repent?

"Sure," Hinata smiled at her. You know, that bright pink hair? It was actually a little bit therapeutic.

Naïve wench.

xXxXx

"So have you and your friend freshened up, Sakura?" their teacher asked when they got back to class.

"Sure, Mr. Hatake! We're all fine now."

"Great. Take your seats, we're at chapter 16. Page 256, please."

Hinata shuffled into her chair, and Gaara turned to look at her. "What happened?" he asked. "You're crying." To substantiate, he pointed to her slightly red-rimmed eyes. "I was," she corrected. "And I was wrong. Sakura's a really nice person."

"That bitch? Who are you trying to kid?"

"I… Everyone deserves a second chance, Gaara. Even you, even me. Even her."

"That's nice to know."

Before she could reply, a piece of pale pink paper folded in half with the name 'Hinata' on the top (written in dark pink) was passed to her by the person sitting to her left. "It is a most youthful declaration!" he stage-whispered, forcing it on her. She opened it, wondering who would pass messages to her in class (as if the paper and ink weren't a big enough clue).

Hi Hinata! It's Sakura here, in case you didn't know. Just wondering, do you want to hang out this weekend? You can even bring your friend with the red hair along. Tayuya thinks he's kind of cute ;) So call me, okay? You have my number.

xoxo

Sakura

P.S. Please send me a reply back.

She showed it to Gaara, almost triumphantly. "She's really trying to be nice, isn't she?"

"I'm not going."

"Please?"

"…And only because you said 'please'."

Hinata smiled again. Life was looking up. She wrote a quick reply back in her own drab dark blue ink. It was almost a pity to ruin the color scheme, but she just didn't have a pink pen.

Hi Sakura! Of course, I would love to! (: Gaara doesn't mind coming along. And yes, I do, Sasuke gave it to me when we were in grade 2 (: And thank you for being so nice to me! (:

Love,

Hinata

After changing the name on top, she tried to get the same person to pass it back where it came from.

Obviously, practice made perfect – and Hinata just didn't pass notes often enough. The moment she'd stretched her hand out, the person put up his hand and called for Mr. Hatake. Her arm, sticking out, and the pink of the paper attracted his attention. "You there! Hand me that note."

She froze. She'd never been in a situation like this before, what was she supposed to do?

Thankfully, Sakura spoke up. "Mr. Hatake, it's not her fault, I wrote her one first. I'll read it out if you want me to."

"Delighted," he frowned, and after snatching the paper away from Hinata's hand (still in mid-air, frozen stiff), he handed it to Sakura. She cleared her throat and read it out quickly.

"It says 'Hi Hinata, I think Mr. Hatake is the best teacher ever in existence. Don't you think so? And Sasuke is hot' and then 'Hi Sakura! Yes he is, he is a great teacher!'" she said, after which she tore the paper in half and crumpled it up in her hand. Then she turned to her desk mate, who opened his mouth peremptorily. Delicately, she put the pieces into his mouth.

Naruto chewed twice in quick succession and then swallowed.

"Well, that was a lovely conversation. Please remember not to pass anymore notes describing Sasuke's hotness," Kakashi said amidst the eardrum-popping applause the class was giving Sakura.

Back in her seat, she slid down lower as Mr. Hatake turned to give her a I'm-watching-you glare.

Thank God for Sakura.

xXxXx

After school, the boy who had stuck up his hand when Hinata tried to pass him that note stayed back in class, watching everyone file out in a noisy way. Well, almost everyone.

"That was good, Lee. She would've been in really deep shit if it weren't for me," Sakura giggled to the gangly, awkward boy with the bowl cut and perfectly awful green one-piece jogging suit. "So, do you wanna collect what I owe you, honey?"

He swallowed, his Adam's apple bobbing nervously. "S-Sakura… I…"

What he wanted to say was 'I love you! Always have! Your youthful beauty and sweet innocence and beautiful big green eyes have captured my heart! The flower of youth has bloomed most sweetly in you! Please, be my youthful lily!' Lee didn't normally feel embarrassed. He said what he wanted to, when he wanted to.

But this was a special case. Sakura was lovely. He didn't deserve her.

Trying to articulate himself, he opened his mouth. "I…" he started.

"Shh," she whispered, laying one youthful finger on his lips. And without pause, she leaned in and gave him a very gentle, albeit quick, kiss. "Youthful, aren't you," Sakura said quietly to him with sultry eyes she knew he would drown in. It was the ultimate compliment (for Lee, that is).

She… she likes me! Sakura likes Lee! Lee felt like shouting, while Sakura was thinking ugh. He has no fashion sense at all. And that hairdo? It was never in season. He's so gross. Why am I doing this again?

"Sakura Haruno! You are so beautiful! I will not presume to ask to be your boyfriend, but whatever you wish in the future, I will do! Your wish is my command!" Lee finally managed to spit out, overcoming his ardent passion. He brought her hand to his lips and kissed it fervently. Her lips were too sacred for him to defile again. Plus, the hand thing? Mr. Gai had assured him it would win her heart.

Sakura smiled at him.

Right, this was why.

A/N: So how did you find it? You can let me know by clicking on that review button! Yay! Thanks so much (: So basically this chapter is Sakuracentric, I hope it explains her behavior a little. Moving on to Gaara in the next chapter!