'Sup gang, it's your 12748th favorite fanfic author here with another chapter of that one story you haven't thought about in months! Hopefully you still care vaguely about it :)

Sasuke entered the cafeteria with his tray of indisputably unappetizing food and was immediately surrounded by chaos. Students streamed around him, talking and laughing and generally making nuisances of themselves. There must have been hundreds of them. He stood in front of the doorway for a moment, trying not the inhale too deeply lest the scent of blood overwhelm him. Then an older boy shoved him aside with a swear, and Sasuke was startled into walking again.

His mother had made him drink two glasses of blood that morning to make sure he didn't end up biting someone at school; he'd rolled his eyes at her then, but deeply appreciated it now. The smell was strong—in teenagers, it usually was—and it was all around him. However, it didn't seem quite as tantalizing as he might have expected, and he realized why a second later when Naruto appeared at his shoulder with a blinding white grin. Right. Just as a pastry from the corner store doesn't quite give you the same feeling when you've had a Michelin-star restaurant's signature mille-feuille.

"Sasuke! I found you!"

"Hello," Sasuke said, and winced. He'd never been a clever conversationalist, but in Naruto's presence he seemed to become a particularly dull-witted parakeet. At least no vampire would blame him, nor would any other species with a half-decent sense of smell and working eyeballs. There was just no time to think—all of his attention was tangled up helplessly in Naruto's overwhelming presence.

"Where are we going to sit?" Naruto wondered, peering around the crowded cafeteria.

Sasuke's eyes caught on a table of teens wearing those damned black-and-red bomber jackets. They were careless, carefree, sprawled across the cheap plastic seats like kings on jewelled thrones. Sasuke was too far away to be sure, but he thought he saw the redhead from the bus—Satori? Sasori? Yes, that was it—twirling a Juul around his fingers. But even as he felt a prickle of wariness on his neck, Sasuke couldn't help but think that they looked like nothing more than a C-list boy band with an edgy color scheme.

Dangerous thoughts, he reminded himself. One should never underestimate superanima, no matter how tacky their clothing.

He turned. "Let's sit over there," he suggested, and began walking determinedly away from the table of black and red.

Naruto wasn't as oblivious as Sasuke thought, and he caught Sasuke's eye as they walked. "Those guys—yanno, with the jackets—d'you know what's up with them?"

"No," he snapped. Seeing hurt flash across Naruto's face, Sasuke quickly tried to backtrack: "I mean—I—I'm…" He couldn't bring himself to apologize, so he just swallowed and jerked his head toward a table with vacant seats. "Let's—sit."

When they'd set down their trays and taken their seats, Naruto leaned into Sasuke's line of sight and said softly, "It's okay; don't worry about it. It's nothing compared to what I'm used to!" He gave a thumbs-up and a cheery, closed-eye grin. Sasuke gaped. There were so many things wrong with what Naruto had just said that he didn't know where to begin. He was saved from having to reply by a familiar voice.

"Hey, Sasuke, right? From bio?"

"… Hn."

Naruto squinted at the newcomers. "Hey, who are you?"

The dark-haired boy and his round-faced companion sat down across from Sasuke and Naruto. His eyes were narrow and shrewd. "I'm Shikamaru, and he's Chouji. I sit behind Sasuke in biology," he added. Sasuke huffed quietly.

"I'm Naruto!" Naruto responded brightly, smiling widely. Sasuke tried not to stare. He noticed Shikamaru smirking knowingly at him from across the table and scowled as his ears burned. Don't say a word, he tried to convey with a glare. Beside him, Naruto was oblivious to their interaction.

The four of them ate lunch together. Naruto was the loudest, of course, and he and Chouji got along like two otters in a swimming pool. Shikamaru was less animated, but he interjected often, which was more than Sasuke did. Sasuke, unsure of how to navigate the conversation, stayed grumpily silent unless someone spoke directly to him. Something inside him crossed its arms and pouted at the attention that Naruto was giving people other than Sasuke. Another, stronger part of him beat that feeling to a pulp. Sasuke was glad that Naruto was making more friends, he really was!

Maybe—and he would never admit it to his mother, but—maybe he could handle the idea of Shikamaru and Chouji being Sasuke's friends too.

Alright kids, I'm thinking about doing a timeskip after this lil chapter. What do y'all think? If you read this author's note, please review with your opinion on a possible timeskip, how much you care about this fic (if at all), and any other comments you may have. Thank you so much!