A/N: Goddammit, I just lost my first runthrough of this authors note. Yeah, ATLLF new chapter is due out really soon. But meanwhile, read this. Later on, I promise I'll make you cry. Thanks for being so supportive with Tenketsu and ATLLF. You're all super cool.
Disclaimer: This applies to the whole fic. I host no claim to the Naruto franchise whatsoever. I am exercising non-profit use of the plot, characters and setting for entertainment purposes. Thanks.
Please read and review, it helps me out a bunch when you critique my writing! Without further ado, here's Uzumaki!
Uchiha Satsuki, avenger, doesn't love anything, or anyone. Not revenge, not tomatoes, and definitely – definitely! – not Uzumaki Naruto. But when she winds up on a genin team with him, she realises there's more to his smile than teeth and sunshine.
The butterfly effect has been exemplified in a million walks of life, but in this one, it comes into play when Umino Iruka waits at home.
A war is raging outside. A nine-tailed demon fox is swinging his tails and crushing buildings and ninja alike, stomping and roaring like a furious bull.
After hours of warfare, the fox is sealed into a tiny blonde boy, and the Hokage and his wife fall dead.
All details appear to be the same.
In another walk of life, Umino Iruka was an orphan.
But today, his parents come home.
"...Uchiha Satsuki, and Uzumaki Naruto."
Naruto launched up from his seat, expression contorted with indignation. "Iruka-sensei!"
Iruka looked at him exasperatedly. "Yes, Naruto. I know you and Satsuki don't get along. That's the point."
Naruto could have ripped that desk out of the wall and thrown it at Iruka's face that very second. How he hated Iruka. Probably more than Satsuki.
"But Shikamaru and Chouji are together! And Inori and Koji! No one else is with someone they don't like!"
His teacher pinned him with a cold look. "Please sit down, Naruto."
He definitely hated Iruka more than Satsuki.
Iruka finished reading out the project pairings, and the bell went. He left for break with a nod, leaving the children in the classroom to discuss their research projects.
Naruto's head shot up from its slumped state on the desk, shooting a wide grin at Sakura. Her angry face didn't bode well for him, likely, but he tried to keep up the guise nonetheless.
"Ah, Sakura-chan! Good mornin-"
Impressively, Sakura completely ignored Naruto. "Satsuki-san! Do you want to be partners? We can swap... since, y'know..."
The implied comment stung. Naruto huffed, turning his gaze to the front of the classroom and settling his chin on his folded arms. "Yeah, well, I didn't want to be with her either."
Satsuki shot him a cold look from his side. "Like I wanted to be paired up with you, dead last."
"Idiot! Who do you think you're talking to?!"
Lunch came. Satsuki and Naruto both ate alone.
Satsuki had sat down first, and as it were, next to her was the last seat – then again, there was a seat by Takeshi. Naruto had a brief debate with himself, but then he remembered that time when Takeshi had followed him home and laughed at his apartment – now he didn't like her, but Satsuki would never do that -
He sat down next to her. She didn't respond.
"Naruto! What are you doing?!"
Ah, now he knew who the other seat had been for.
"Sakura-chan," he grinned, attempting to remain cheerful but-
"You're not sitting next to Satsuki-san!"
And with that, he found Sakura pushing onto his seat in a surprisingly skillful way that pushed him right out of it.
"Satsuki-san-" Sakura sang, moving her seat closer to the Uchiha.
Sakura blinked. "What? But Satsuki-san-"
Satsuki didn't even turn her gaze to Sakura as she said it, chin settled on the bridge of her fingers as she stared forward, unmoving. "Stand up. Naruto got there first."
Before, she'd not been sure she'd heard, but it was certain now; Sakura was sure Satsuki had said that. She laughed nervously, eyes flitting about the room as she scratched the side of her face nervously. "B-But, uh... Satsuki-san... Naruto's, you know – why would you want to-"
The dark-haired girl finally turned to Sakura, and she wished she'd not spoken. Satsuki's dark eyes made her feel as though she was looking into a very deep and empty pit.
"Hey! Don't talk to Sakura-chan like that!" Naruto cried, launching himself up at the speed of light and pointing an accusatory finger at Satsuki. The girl looked back at him with an expression that could have froze the sun.
Naruto's fury flared like an oxygen-fueled blaze.
"Don't call me that!" He grabbed Satsuki's collar, and she coldly- uncaringly (oh, how that infuriated him!) grabbed his in turn, his eyes angry but hers lightly disfigured from an expression of mild irritation – Naruto imagined it to be the expression you might make at an unwanted fly. "Don't try and help me like you're better than me, you bastard!"
Satsuki gave him a cold stare, the only indication that she'd even heard him a displeased turn of the lips.
It only served to make him angrier, and Naruto hooked her collar towards him, gritting his teeth. "You act like you're so much better than everyone!" His face was too close.
Satsuki's lip curled cockily. "Hn. I'm definitely better than you, dead last."
Naruto slugged her across the face, and the class fell into uproar.
Satsuki's jaw still ached when she turned up to the academy the next morning, and there was an ugly purple bruise to prove it.
Today, Sakura came in before Naruto, but sat by Takeshi instead. For a moment, she had stared tentatively at the seat, shooting Satsuki an apologetic ('-hah-') smile before pulling a seat up by Takeshi and twisting her fingers in her lap.
No one else even tried to sit by Satsuki today.
Until Naruto arrived late, and he sat beside Satsuki in silence. His face was swollen too, his right knuckles bruised more than his left, but his swelling was lesser. Satsuki could have sworn she had hit him harder than that.
Naruto didn't even bother to look at her today.
Not that she cared.
"In this research project, each pair will be studying a figure of significance in Konoha."
"Like Hokage-ojii-chan?" Naruto yawned, fingers tapping on the desk.
Iruka gave him a stony look. "If you want to show that kind of disrespect to our Hokage, stand outside."
"But he is old-"
"-and you are bottom of the class, Naruto. Pay attention." Iruka didn't even look up from his papers, but the comment was harsh. The slump of Naruto's shoulders made it seem like he was reeling from the impact. The classroom resounded from the muffled chuckles and snorts. Naruto muttered something half-heartedly bitter to himself, and then his head turned to the window.
"As I was saying..."
Naruto blatantly ignored him, finger tracing a figure of eight on the desk. It encroached onto her sector of the desk too much for her complete comfort.
For some reason, Satsuki ignored it instead of slamming her fist down on his fingers. They still didn't speak for two weeks.
"I don't want one."
She hated them. Every single one that had come and gone. They'd tried to teach her how to behave like a lady, ikebana ("-because flower arranging is very proper for a kunoichi, you know?"), how to cook foods she'd never eat ('-for the inevitable future when I become a housewife, cooking for my shinobi husband-'), how to dress her 'curves'-
"Satsuki, you know we've got to assign another."
"I don't want one," she stressed, her eyes glinting dangerously and her hands clenching at her sides. Her posture was straight and forced. "I can cook, and I can clean. I managed as a kid. I'll manage now."
-not that she had any; her body was slim and lithe and devoid of any unnecessary fat, her hips a barely visible gradient, and her chest as flat as it'd ever be. Curves. Hah.
The Third sighed, his eyes peering over the steeple of his intertwined hands. "As much as a child, I respected your request to be left alone, upon your genin exam growing closer, it'd be much easier if someone was at home to help you with your training and perform the menial chores so your training can be more efficient."
Satsuki knew it had something to do with her dropping grades.
"My grade dropped because I was paired with Uzumaki Naruto."
The Third's eyebrows rose. "Hm?"
"My grade dropped because of him," Satsuki reiterated, her fingernails digging into her palm. "The boy is insufferable to work with. So I refused."
"You allowed yourself to get a score of zero because of him?"
The young Uchiha simply scowled in response, and Hiruzen sighed, closing his eyes.
"Satsuki. I can't excuse your grades because of that. I know Naruto well, and he's a perfectly friendly young boy. As a ninja, you'll have to go on missions-"
"Then you'll know to never put me on a team with him," Satsuki interrupted. "He is an obnoxious idiot."
"Teamwork is important, Satsuki." Sarutobi's tone left no room for a counter-argument. "Uzumaki Naruto or not. I'll be sending Yumiko over tonight."
Satsuki's mood visibly darkened, her eyebrows knotting her face into a furious glare. Her lips thinned, and she turned around, her hair cutting through the air as she did.
"Feel free. I won't be opening the door tonight."
"I don't want one!"
He hated them. Passionately. There was no one except the Hokage himself that Naruto would trust in his home, cooking his food and cleaning. The last time a guardian had been assigned, Naruto had been somehow both isolated and betrayed.
She had promised to pick him up one day, and he had told all of his friends (could he call them that?) about how he was going to get picked up, too. One by one, everyone had left; Chouji picked up by his plump mother, Shikamaru piggy-backed home by his look-alike dad. In the end, Naruto had been ashamed and alone.
When she attempted to return, Naruto had barricaded the door shut, and never let another one of those nannies, carers - whatever they were - into his apartment.
"Naruto, we've got to assign one. I'm sorry."
"Nuh-uh! I do – not – want – one!" For emphasis, Naruto made a large cross with his arms. "You know what the other ones were like, Ojii-chan!"
"That said, Naruto, the state of your grades is worse than ever before. It's best that you focus your time and energy onto improving them, rather than cooking, cleaning... you know the like. As per your request, I stopped assigning them, but-"
Naruto grabbed tufts of his blonde hair and pulled, yelling. "It's all Satsuki's fault!"
Sarutobi's eyebrows raised, and he drew from his pipe. 'Great.' "Oh?"
"She's the reason I failed that stupid joint project! She is so- so- argh!" Naruto pulled at his hair in frustration, looking to all the world as if he was going to kick the Hokage's desk off right there. "She just drives me crazy! She acts like she's better than me all the time! I don't care if she's a girl or not, I just want to beat the crap out of her!"
The Hokage sighed, a hazy plume of thick smoke spreading out onto the ceiling. "That doesn't mean you should, Naruto."
"If you met her-"
"I spoke to her just before, Naruto. She's just as unwilling to have a temporary caregiver as you are."
Naruto often forgot that Satsuki was also an orphan. He huffed. "Yeah, well, why're you doin' it then?"
"I had a feeling you'd be unwilling," Sarutobi murmured, one hand shuffling through papers on his desk. "I was going to offer you two remedial classes-"
"-but I've spoken to Iruka, and he says that the best course of action is that you redo the project, so this doesn't look quite so bad on your official scores."
"Over this coming holiday, Iruka has requested you and Satsuki work together for two weeks, just like the allotted time for the original project. If you fail it, you two resit the year."
The Third Hokage smiled. "Appreciate this chance you've been given, Naruto. You'd better go tell Satsuki-"
"That fucking bastard Iruka! I'm gonna to give him hell-!"
Sarutobi regarded Naruto with a stern look, but the boy's fury left him oblivious. The Hokage looked at his work for a moment, signing off a document fluidly. "You can get started today." He didn't look up.
The young boy mumbled something.
"What is it, Naruto?"
"What's her address?"
With a wrinkled smile, Hiruzen wrote down Satsuki's address, and sent Naruto on his way.
The sun was setting beautifully over the Hokage tower, and the haphazard shadows cast about Satsuki's windowsill like a silhouette dance.
She was so much more tired than she should have been, and Satsuki found herself spooning tea leaves into a pot. The taste was bitter and too strong, a tinge of sweetness behind the overpowering scent.
The young Uchiha lay on top of her duvet, placing the teacup onto the end table. She stared out of the window for a moment before picking up her book, opening it to the bookmark and letting the slip of paper slide out of the pages. She took a sip of the tea.
Satsuki almost let her teacup clatter to the floor.
"Satsuki, you bastard, open the goddamn-"
After composing herself and knotting her face into an acceptably ferocious scowl, Satsuki yanked the door open so hard that Naruto almost fell to her feet from the force he'd been banging on it with. She gritted her teeth.
'Why the hell do you know where I live?' "What do you want?"
"Hokage-ojii-chan told me to come here."
Satsuki hated Naruto, and she hated ambiguity just as much. "Naruto-!"
To her further displeasure, the blond pushed past her into her apartment. "We gotta redo that stupid project for Iruka-sensei, otherwise we fail."
Satsuki closed her eyes, invisible steam pouring out of her every crevice. 'Failure is not an option. I have to become a ninja, soon, now – to kill him. I can't fail. Even if it means working with this idiot.'
"Oi, what's with the-"
She heard the colossal crash of her bookcase toppling forward onto a young boy, and resisted the urge to give up on her revenge.
"Do you even know how to take care of plants?"
"Hn." Satsuki turned her nose up at the boy, nonchalantly – because she really didn't care! - but took careful note of how he was handling the plant. It was... strange.
Uzumaki Naruto was impolite and clumsy, and completely unrefined. He had no manners, and not an ounce of discipline in his body. But the moment the two had finished clearing up the bookcase, Naruto had taken the potted plant that Satsuki had bought on the spur of the moment and was... doing something that could be described as tending to it.
Satsuki didn't even know what to do upon the sight of the boy tracing the veins of the leaves, testing the soil with his fingertips, examining the undersides of the leaves; she hadn't imagined the boy had the capability to be careful within him.
"The soils not fertile any more. You got any... dunno, fruit skins? Stuff like that?"
As much as she didn't want to listen to a dead last, the plant did look sick, and she did like that plant.
Ten minutes later, and they were arguing again.
"Tomatoes? They're vegetables!"
"They're fruit, usuratonkachi."
"Agh- don't call me that! Get something else!"
"So like- you know."
"Well... what are they?"
Silence. Eyebrow raise.
"I'm asking, okay?!"
"I don't know what you mean."
"What are they?"
"One of those... things. Everyone but me knows!"
"Come on! Tell me the secret!"
"What are you on about, dead last?"
"What's a catra?!"
It was a while until Satsuki managed to sit Naruto down with some appropriate books, and keep his attention for long enough to explain the project.
"We're studying the Fourth Hokage."
Naruto's eyes widened in recognition, and he nodded, rocking back and forth on his crossed legs. "The yellow one, right?"
"Yes. The yellow one."
"No need to be such a bastard about it-"
"Why do you call me that?"
Satsuki knew the answer before it came. 'You act like a boy' or 'You've got a chest like a boy'.
Naruto blinked. "Because you're a bastard!"
That was the first thing Satsuki liked about Naruto.
A/N: CRITICISE ME. PLEASE. Also please forgive the problem with the linebreaks. has the most temperamental linebreaks I've ever used.