Disclaimer: Naruto and its characters belong to Masashi Kishimoto. I do not own Naruto.

Note: In this fic, the Academy school year starts in September, and ends in June.


Giant leaves were hopping on a small volcano. Fish swam happily in the sky. A plate of onigiri danced across a field of flowers-

"Sakura, detention!" Iruka-sensei's voice snapped her out of her pleasant dream, his voice louder than even the shrill screech of the bell. There was a moment of disorientation before she got her bearings. She was in her second period class, only a few weeks after she started the Academy. She resisted the urge to groan as her sensei's words sank in. It would be her third detention this year.

As students stood up from their seats to make full use of the five-minute break between classes, Ino walked up to her desk.

"Why do you keep falling asleep in class, Sakura? I know you're smart. You should know that getting detention is very stupid. You have better things to do with your time than washing blackboards and scraping gum off of the bottoms of chairs."

Sakura scoffed.

"Ino, math class wastes my time more than detentions do. At least I can get some exercise in during detention."

Ino looked her over with piercing blue eyes, her hands on her hips. Suddenly, she grinned.

"I know what you need to do! You need to switch into another math class!"

"What? Why would I do that?"

"You're bored by the math classes, right? I bet a second-year class would be more interesting for you. I know both Shikamaru and Sasuke are taking the second-year class. You should go talk to Iruka-sensei. Maybe he'll move you into their class."

-X-

During her detention that day, she took the final exam for the first-year math class. The next day, she was placed in a second-year class.

The second-years didn't seem mean, but they didn't seem particularly friendly, either. She stood near the doorway nervously, unsure of where to sit. She had had her fair share of bullies. It would be best to sit near the back of the classroom so nobody could throw crumpled balls of paper at her during class. Fortunately, Shikamaru strolled in at this very moment. He took a look at her and said, "There's an empty seat next to mine." Sakura gratefully followed him, and took the seat to his right. The desk was at the back, too.

Perfect.

A second-year girl sat down to Shikamaru's left. Noticing the pink-haired girl, the brunette cheerfully introduced herself as Watanabe Tenten, and insisted that Sakura call her Tenten-san. Huh. Maybe this wouldn't be so bad, after all.

Her belief was supported when Akari-sensei introduced factorials. Finally, something presented a challenge!

By Thursday, she had more or less gotten used to the small change in her routine. Math was now her second-favorite class. As she packed up at the end of class, she noticed that Hyūga Neji had walked up to her. She looked up from her backpack with a cordial smile, keeping both hands on the black straps to stop any fidgeting. She couldn't show any weakness. Neji was the top student in the class, as well as a member of one of the most powerful clans in Konoha. He also showed disdain for every single person in his class. If she acted in a way that caused his disdain for her to turn into dislike, he could make her life very painful.

"Can I help you, Hyūga-senpai?"

Maybe if she just treated him respectfully, he would leave her alone… Maybe she should show a little backbone? There were still four minutes until the next period began, and the warning bell would sound three minutes later. She couldn't count on the bell to save her…

But all the planning in the world couldn't have prepared for the intensity of Neji's gaze. His milky white eyes seemed to stare through her, making her feel more vulnerable than a mouse trapped in the claws of a cat. Her mind, always racing, screeched to a halt.

"You may try to escape Fate, but it will always catch up to you," he finally stated with his usual monotone.

She should have just stayed silent. By Sage, she would have if she had been thinking straight.

"Fate's whisperings have not yet reached me."

Then she picked up her backpack and walked away.

Once her feet had taken her to the Tactics classroom, she resisted the urge to slam her head against the cream-colored wall. What was that saying? All good things must come to an end? Well, she had royally screwed up. At least she could count on her parents to pick out a good headstone for her.