Oh my. A Re-done first chapter!? How could this be!?
Mostly? A lot of people leaving reviews saying my first chapter was bad, and me sooooort of agreeing with them. I've gone back and taken out all references to Naruto being physically abused by the villagers (cause that was pretty stupid), and also changed the scene at the end to more accurately reflect how the villagers treat Naruto in canon.
I've left my Pre-Chapter words in here just as they used to be, because I think they're both morbidly embarrassing and pretty funny. (They're also, like... sort of wrong?)
This is my going to be the first Fanfiction that I actually upload (I've definitely written a few before now that will go unpublished).
I haven't been an active part of the Naruto fandom for some time, but I got a sudden burst of inspiration, and have decided I should probably, y'know, post something I've written for once.
So, here's a Naruto/Sasuke Bromance. I'm not sure where I'll go with pairings, but keep in mind nothing will be going too crazy.
Without further ado, enjoy.
Chapter 1: A Trip down a hill
It was late, and Naruto was alone.
This wasn't new, of course. Naruto was alone far more often than not. His only real relationships were with some of the other kids in his class, Shikamaru, Choji, and Kiba. They, at the very least, actually allowed him to hang out with them, which Naruto supposed was something, given that most people who saw him treated him like a disease.
He couldn't really call them friends though. They always left at the end of the day, when their parents came to get them, and Naruto was left behind, forgotten.
He was walking next to a river that snaked through the middle of the Leaf Village. It was a relatively cool day, though it wasn't like he even changed his outfit to suit the weather.
He watched without any real interest as hues of red's and oranges glittered across the surface of the water.
It's pretty. Naruto couldn't help thinking.
He saw him a second later.
The black-haired boy who'd been the star of their class for as long as Naruto could remember was sat at the end of a pier. He was staring into the water with an aura of sadness hanging around him.
He hadn't truly figured out what it was that happened, he struggled most days to finish his homework without Iruka Sensei's help, let alone figure out a mystery with nothing but vague rumors, but he had been able to piece one thing together.
Sasuke was different.
He was quieter, though Naruto thought he'd maybe said three or four sentences in the entire time he'd known him, and more reserved, even if the only time Naruto had heard the boy raise his voice was when he'd 'accidentally' set his pants on fire. And he would've gotten away with that one, had Iruka Sensei not found the matchbox stashed in his desk.
In hindsight, he really should've put it... anywhere else.
Despite their misgivings, Naruto didn't truly hate Sasuke, even with what he might've said to him. He was annoying, the same as all the other kids in his class who never really got to know him before they made their minds up about him, but indifference was still better than the looks of fear and disgust he got from many of the adults in the shopping district.
So, yes, Sasuke annoyed Naruto, often more so than his other classmates, but he supposed that was to be expected, they might as well have been polar opposites.
But all of a sudden, after having been absent from classes for nearly two weeks, Sasuke had returned, and he'd come back changed.
Naruto hadn't liked him, the new kid who'd walked in that day and sat in Sasuke's seat.
Sasuke seemed to hear his footsteps, his head swiveling up to gaze directly at him. The boy's curious eyes shifted almost instantly, narrowing until he was looking at Naruto with an annoyance that almost mirrored his own.
They didn't speak as Naruto passed by Sasuke's position at the dock, and if Naruto had his way, they never would.
He seemed sad.
He was almost blown away that he'd thought that. He didn't care what Sasuke was going through, he just wanted to get home, eat some ramen, and sleep.
Maybe I should talk to him.
Naruto slowed, he was parallel with Sasuke now, the shadow the sun cast directly covering the boy on the dock.
He kept walking.
He didn't care, not about Sasuke.
Maybe I should go down there.
It didn't matter, he'd just forget about this tomorrow anyway.
I should… I should talk to him.
He didn't. Naruto kept walking…
Directly into a root.
He was falling, that much Naruto knew for sure. It wasn't graceful, he was rolling end over end, trying desperately to regain his footing, to no avail. By the time he rolled to a stop at the bottom of the hill, a foot or so from the water, he was covered in dirt, and grassy residue.
Nothing felt injured, with the exception of his pride.
He pushed himself up and sat cross-legged upon the earth.
"Are you okay?"
Naruto glanced in the voice's direction, but clearly the fall had jostled something in his brain, because he thought he'd just heard-
Sasuke had come over to check on him, and Naruto idly thought that nothing would ever truly surprise him again, because it seemed like Sasuke Uchiha actually cared if he'd been hurt.
He held back a growl. He didn't want anyone, least of all Sasuke, to see him like this.
"What's it to you!?" Naruto shouted in response to Sasuke's earlier inquiry, feeling hot with anger and shame.
Sasuke's concerned expression morphed into one of spite and bitterness at his words.
"Nothing," the boy turned and walked away, sitting back down at the end of the wooden dock. "Forget I said anything."
And now it was up to Naruto to feel bad about how he'd reacted, his own temper having gotten the best of him. He thought of how he could correct the situation, sitting there on the grassy hillside, maybe a few feet from Sasuke, as he studied the look on the young Uchiha's face.
It wasn't sad, like he'd thought earlier.
It was more…
There wasn't anything there, not truly. The lifeless expression seemed to say that the boy was off somewhere else, barely present at all.
It struck Naruto that he often wore a similar expression, as he passed by the crowds in the village, whispering about him just loud enough for him to be able to pick up what they were saying. It had hurt him so horribly, once upon a time, but he'd only been able to let words get to him for so long before he'd closed himself off from the world.
Or, before he'd raged against it with all his might. Until he'd grown spiteful and angry, and decided to take his anger out on them in a way he was sure they'd notice. Pulling pranks on the people who'd been mean to him… Forcing them to pay attention to him, to acknowledge him… it felt good.
But it wasn't the same, either, the look on the boy's face. It wasn't like Naruto's, which had been slowly stripped away at, bits and pieces coming off until it was nothing. No, Sasuke's looked like it had been torn apart in one fell swoop.
Naruto had blurted something out before he even knew what he wanted to say. He'd simply wanted to make that look go away, to make someone who felt like he did… just a bit…
Sasuke turned to face him, though this time his eyes betrayed the fact that he wasn't listening to Naruto at all.
"What do you want?"
Once again, his cheeks felt hot.
Sasuke's eyebrows rose, and some life returned to his face as he tilted his head.
"I said I'm sorry, okay!?" Naruto's face was burning, his eyes closed. he couldn't bare to see Sasuke laugh at him, because of course he would. That was all anyone ever did when Naruto spoke. "I just-"
Now it was Naruto's turn to be curious, and as he opened one of his eyes, he saw that Sasuke was once again looking down into the water.
He didn't laugh?
He'd been expecting the boy to snark at him, his voice filled with mirth. 'Oh, you're apologizing? whatever for, Naruto?'
Before he really knew what he was doing, Naruto had walked over to the dock as well, and stood beside Sasuke.
His classmate stared up at him, clearly annoyed to have been interrupted from his train of thought.
"What do you want, loser?"
Naruto's famously short temper exploded, and he immediately shouted at the boy below him.
"Why you little! Why don't I show you my Shuriken Jutsu I've been practicing, Huh!?"
"Go ahead," Sasuke sneered out at him. "Even from here, it's not like you'd hit me."
Naruto grounded his teeth together but found his anger dissipating. He'd momentarily felt that same rivalry he used to share with Sasuke, as one sided as that'd been, but the look in the boy's eye, that 'I'm better than you' look that used to drive him crazy… it was no longer present. It had been replaced with a look of apathetic boredom.
"What happened to you?"
Sasuke whirled on him, his eyes widening slightly, as if the question was completely unfamiliar to him, or perhaps that Naruto was the last person he had expected to have ask him about it.
"What!?" He was angry, that much was clear, but Naruto pressed on regardless. He'd never been one for subtleties.
"I heard the other kids talking about something, I tried to pick up as much as I could from them," He squinted his eyes, trying to think about what it was they'd said back then, even as it eluded him. "But no one would tell me what actually happened."
He looked right at Sasuke, trying to decipher the truth from the boy's face. He found nothing there, just a harsh bitterness.
"So, I'm just some gossip piece then? I guess you want to be able to talk about me with them, hell, you might even make a friend."
"Oi!" Naruto was really, really trying his best to be nice to the boy beside him, but Sasuke wasn't helping his own case at all. "I'm just trying to figure it out, I'm-"
A second passed in silence.
He knew what he'd almost said, and why he'd stopped himself. Naruto had never been very good at talking about how he felt, or the way he viewed the world and everyone around him.
Just this once though…
"It's really hard." He managed to push past his lips. "Being alone."
Sasuke's eyes widened ever so slightly, before narrowing a second or two later, the boy's face contorting with anger.
Suddenly, Naruto felt his back hit the wooden dock, the wind having been knocked out of him. His head was pounding, and he felt the pain in the back of his skull worsen as the boy atop him forced it down onto the hard wood, his hand gripping Naruto's shirt as he snarled madly.
"What the hell would you know about being alone!"
He could hear them sometimes when he was laying down to rest, the voices of the people in the village, whispering names and insults at him as he walked down the streets, trying desperately to validate himself. He both loved and hated them.
Sure, they were mean to him, refused to let him into their stores and stalls… but they didn't forget about him. They acknowledged his existence, for better or for worse.
He made sure of that. It was all he had, after all.
That hate was so much better than being forgotten.
"You said it yourself, didn't you? That I didn't have any friends?"
Sasuke didn't get off of him, and the grip on his shirt didn't loosen either. But the boy was watching him, waiting to hear what he'd say.
"It's… I don't have anybody."
The grip loosened minutely.
"I've never had anyone. Lord Third said my parents died the day I was born. Everyone in the village hates me, and I don't even know why."
The hand on his shirt let go.
"Sometimes I stop and sit a while, and just think about how much it…" He was pouring out his soul a little, but he liked to think his words were having some effect, so he kept going. "How much it sucks to be alone."
Sasuke was just sitting there now, hands at his sides as he straddled him.
"You just… you looked like you were alone, too."
The boy atop him said nothing as he dismounted him, having decided to sit down beside Naruto on the pier. He was looking out onto the river, and as Naruto himself sat up, he noted that the sun was a bit lower in the sky, causing the last lingering bits of daylight to crest across the water's surface.
Naruto sat up, a foot or so away from where Sasuke was sitting with his back turned away from him. It was his turn to listen now, he thought, as the boy seemed to psyche himself up for something.
"Being alone is the worst hell of all."
He didn't say anything more, even after Naruto waited for a few seconds, so he chose to stand up and walk to where the other kid was sitting.
Sasuke was crying.
Naruto sat next to him, not really knowing what to say. Luckily, Sasuke began of his own accord, his voice scratchy with emotion.
"Three months ago, my brother murdered every single member of the Uchiha clan. I… I was the sole exception."
Naruto had been expecting the worst, but that had still managed to surpass his wildest fantasies.
"He wasn't even showing me mercy, he just… didn't bother killing me." Sasuke's fists and teeth clenched, his knuckles going white. "I was too weak to be worth killing."
Naruto had no clue what to say, he didn't think there was a good response to what Sasuke had said. He was trying desperately to think of something, anything, to say.
"I miss them." It was a quieter voice, barely above a whisper. "There are so many things," Sasuke was breaking down now, his voice quivering, tears flowing freely. "So many things I want to say to them, I just… wanted them to be there for me."
Sasuke stopped speaking after that, and Naruto was left with the boy's small, hiccuping sobs, and the churning of the river beyond them.
Even despite the awkward atmosphere, Naruto decided he'd wait and listen for Sasuke to speak up again, even if waiting and listening weren't exactly his strongest suits.
It wasn't for a few more minutes that Sasuke did speak up again, and by then the sun had set fully, blanketing the two in darkness.
"I don't have any friends in class either." Sasuke said after he'd stopped crying. "Everyone looks at me like I'm some animal exhibit at the zoo."
Naruto almost laughed, because it felt like Sasuke had just described exactly how Naruto had always felt. Whenever he'd walked among the adults in the street, whispering to themselves when they thought he wasn't looking, he'd felt like an exotic creature, like he didn't belong.
It suddenly clicked into place, the fact that they were so similar.
"It's settled then!" Naruto shouted out, and it occurred to him when Sasuke jumped about a foot off the ground that he hadn't spoken a word in at least fifteen minutes, and Sasuke may have forgotten he was there.
Naruto stood up and offered Sasuke his trademarked grin.
"I suppose you and I will just have to be friends!"
The suggestion didn't quite receive the resounding applause he'd been hoping for.
"You and me? Friends? The hell are you talking about loser!?" Sasuke looked like he didn't quite know what to feel, caught in an odd emotional knot.
Naruto had no such problems. He was perfectly capable of expressing himself.
"Would you stop calling me a loser, you loser!" He wasn't quite angry with the boy, he wasn't sure he could be, after hearing all of that, but he couldn't deny being slightly exhausted with him. "It's getting really old!"
"Until you stop being a loser," Sasuke was standing, his hands balled into fists, and a monstrous pout on his face. He looked like he wanted to fight Naruto and hug him all at the same time, "I won't stop calling you a loser!"
Naruto had been wrong, he was able to get angry at Sasuke quite easily.
That one seemed to really set Sasuke off because his cheeks were red. He inhaled deeply, and Naruto thought just for a moment that he was going to call him some incredibly horrible name.
And suddenly Naruto was just confused. He watched quizzically as Sasuke visibly deflated, looking down at the ground a bit sheepishly.
"Sorry? Sorry for what?"
Sasuke looked borderline mortified.
"I'm sorry I called you that, I-I didn't know what it meant," He was fidgeting, like that time Kiba hit him, and his mom had dragged him into the classroom the next day to make him say he was sorry, "The people in the village call you that sometimes, I just…"
They did? He'd never heard them say that, and nothing came to mind when he thought of a fox, other than two red eyes and a snarling mouth he'd seen in a nightmare or two when he was younger.
Probably nothing important.
"Err…" Naruto was at a loss, but figured he might as well milk this for all it was worth, "Well, I'll forgive you, just this once..."
He paused dramatically, before a grin spread across his face.
"But, only if you agree to be my friend!" Naruto held out his right hand, offering it to the boy in front of him.
Sasuke gave him a skeptical look, one which warped quickly into what might've been the first smile he'd seen on Sasuke's face in a few months.
"I guess that's fine."
The black-haired boy reached out and grasped Naruto's hand in his own.
They were both just children, trying to make their ways in an unforgiving world. In that moment, however, they both felt like they'd made a very small, very significant change.
Class the next day was an odd affair.
Everything seemed normal to the three or four students who arrived earlier than Sasuke Uchiha as the boy walked into the room that day. He sat by himself in the middle-left row, taking the window seat, and began his usual routine of aimlessly staring outside. He was lost in his own little world within a minute.
Things were normal.
Most of the other children in the class filed in as per usual, going about their day to day activities, making fun of each other, gossiping, seeing how many rubber bands they could shoot at Shikamaru before he woke up, but everything changed when Naruto burst into the classroom.
Not that him bursting in wasn't normal, because it was easily the most predictable part of the day.
No, it was what the boy did upon entering that turned heads.
He walked to the left of the room, and immediately took the seat next to lone Uchiha.
"Hey, Sasuke!" Naruto gave the other boy his trademark grin and started working on getting everything he needed for the day set up on his desk. "Hey, can I borrow a pencil? I forgot one again."
The boy in question didn't respond, but he did break out of his own head long enough to give Naruto a single, small "Mm" of acknowledgement, reaching back and handing him a rather used object from his bag.
Several students eyes widened, but their gossiping was interrupted as Iruka Sensei arrived, opened the door, and greeted them with his traditional "Good morning, class". The students gave him a rather similar response.
The morning passed by as normal, Iruka was giving them a very basic lesson on the natures of Chakra, Fire, Water, Earth, Lightning, and Wind. He also noted that some families had special chakra natures or skills unique to them.
"A good example of this," Iruka stated, as he was walking around the classroom, gesturing to a small diagram of an eye he'd made on the board, "Would be the leaf's very own Hyuga clan, they have an inherited Dojutsu known as the Byakugan."
Naruto liked to pretend he knew what some of those words meant.
"Why, our very own Hinata is the heiress of the Hyuga clan," He gestured to a small, shy girl sitting in the front-middle row, "Hinata, do you know anything about the Byakugan?"
Naruto, along with the rest of the class, turned towards the Hyuga in the front row, and watched as she began to fidget, casting her eyes down at the table.
"I… I don't know all that much about it, Sensei."
Iruka seemed to realize the mistake he'd made, putting Hinata on the spot, as the nervous girl's face reddened, and she tried to make herself smaller in her chair.
"Ah, my apologies Hinata," Iruka smiled gently, and the smaller girl seemed to sit up ever so slightly. "Here I am, trying to pass off my duties as a teacher, how lazy of me!"
He got a few laughs for that, including a light giggle from Hinata herself, and she wasn't hiding herself in her seat quite so much anymore. Naruto thought she was cute when she laughed, he liked the sound of it.
He was daydreaming now, remembering when he ran in front of her to stop her getting bullied, something he'd had a lot of experience dealing with, and how they'd just beat him up instead. They'd even ripped the scarf he'd been wearing; he'd gotten a cold later that day from its absence. Hinata herself, however, had been nice to him, going as far as to thank him.
He hadn't shown it at the time, but it had meant a lot to him. She was just about the only person who'd ever been kind to him.
"Naruto, did you hear me?"
And suddenly he realized that everyone was looking right at him, snickering to themselves, and Iruka was giving him that look that said he was annoyed, sure, but mostly just disappointed in him.
He hated that look, more than anything.
"Er…" He tried to remember what it was that Iruka Sensei was saying, but all he was getting was the lecture he received after he had nearly broken his leg trying to do a backflip off the playgrounds jungle-gym. "I-It's-"
Naruto glanced beside him, to where the whisper had come from, and was surprised to find Sasuke Uchiha, hands crossed in front of his mouth, trying to act inconspicuous.
He wasn't sure if he should trust Sasuke, this could all be a trick, after all, just yesterday afternoon they had been bitter rivals, intent on grinding each other into the dirt.
But hey, Naruto thought, better than nothing.
"It's fire, Iruka Sensei!"
His teacher's expression instantly became one of surprise, and then, with an odd sense of pride, he smiled.
"Yes, Naruto, that's correct," He walked over to the board, and wrote out two words, and an arrow connecting them, "Wind's natural counter is fire, as Naruto pointed out for us."
'As Naruto pointed out for us.'
Even if he hadn't really come up with it himself, Naruto couldn't help the swell of pride in himself at hearing those words, along with the surprised, and slightly disappointed looks of his classmates. They'd probably hoped to see him make a fool of himself.
Naruto turned to the boy sitting next to him and smiled widely.
The other boy didn't say anything, but he did give him a small, almost invisible smile.
It was late, but for once, Naruto wasn't alone.
He was walking just a bit ahead of Sasuke, as they crossed through the middle of the village's shopping center. This time in the evening, there was the most traffic of the day, as people were getting off of work, or coming back from missions, and coming here to eat, shop, or run errands.
Naruto was excited, he'd never walked with a friend, even if it was just to the small Uchiha's new apartment that Lord Third had rented out for him, thinking correctly that it was probably best for Sasuke not to have to live in the house his parents were murdered in.
"I know this really great place, Oh man! Their ramen is the best, you've gotta try it!"
Naruto skipped ahead a little and turned back around to gauge Sasuke's response.
The boy had this look on his face that screamed that he was uncomfortable, and even in his excitement, Naruto couldn't miss it.
"Um… I'm a little tired…" Sasuke's voice was quiet, like he felt a little bit bad about what he said. "I…"
Naruto had never been very good at picking up on social ques, but even he could catch that one. He frowned slightly, Ichiraku was only a few minutes from where they were, and it was in the direction they were going, so it wouldn't exactly be a huge detour.
But if Sasuke really didn't want to... well, Naruto didn't want to force him or anything, especially since they were just getting to know each other.
He was just about ready to give up and skip the Ramen tonight when he felt something wet drip down his back.
"Woops, sorry kid," It was a ninja, at least Chuunin, if the vest were to be believed, and he'd just poured his drink all over Naruto, "Looks like I need to be more careful."
The ninja's friend beside him made no effort to conceal his snorting laugh.
Naruto wasn't really sure what to do. Sasuke had never seen him get bullied, hell, he was pretty sure no one from his class had, and if he'd thought it was humiliating alone, it was nothing compared to this.
He found anger pouring through him, an anger that charged him, gave him strength. He turned back towards the two ninjas and bared his teeth at them. He wasn't really sure why he took on such an animalistic expression, but it had come to him more on instinct than anything.
The two Chuunin, who'd previously been laughing and pointing at him, now shirked away, a small bit of fear on their faces.
"H-hey!" Drink-guy's friend sputtered out. "The hell d-do you think you're doing!?"
"Psh, k-kids no fun." Drink-guy shouted just a bit too forcefully, turning around and gesturing for his friend. "C'mon."
The two disappeared into the crowd around them without another word, and Naruto was left to process what he'd just experienced on his own.
Why… why is everyone so afraid of me!? He couldn't help wanting to shout, to run up and ask every single person who was walking by. Why do they run away, and call me names under their breath? Why do they pour drinks on me, and refuse to let me buy from their stalls? Why does everyone avoid me like I'm some… disease!?
He found himself growing more and more upset, until a voice called out to him, snapping him out of his head.
He turned around, remembering that he'd been traveling with someone.
The voice had been Sasuke's. Quiet, like he didn't want to set Naruto off, but also firm, like couldn't bear to see him like this either.
"I'd like to go to that ramen place, if that's alright with you."
His eyes widened, for even he, a kid not even a decade old, could tell that Sasuke was trying to make him feel better.
And suddenly Naruto's smile had reappeared, perhaps slightly dimmer than before, but no less real.
"That sounds awesome!"
End Chapter 1
Didn't used to be a note here, but I've put one here to say that the newest chapter, Chapter 59, should also be out once this chapter uploads. Or, at least, like later in the day after this one uploads.
Alright, that's it. See you all... well, from here, I guess I'd see you all roughly a year and a half later?
Meh. See you all next week!