Thank you for reading. I don't want to scare you off, so I will begin yakking properly in the second chapter, should you choose to go on.

Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto or any of its characters (though that would be nice…I think having shinobi would be very useful…)

SPOILERS: If you have not been keeping up with the manga and you do not want any inkling of spoilers, you may not want to read. But it is up to you.

Note: This fic is set 7 years after the Chuunin Exam

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Run From You

            By Doskoipanda

Chapter 1: Friction

It was nearly lunchtime in the Hidden Village of the Leaf, and the sun was high above the outdoor pre-genin class. Several small stomachs had already voiced their approval of the hour, but their young owners listened to their green-eyed sensei's lecture with unwavering attention. She was an excellent instructor—gentle yet commanding—and a chuunin, but she was not officially a teacher yet. That'll hopefully change starting today, she thought. Her class was being inspected and if she passed, she would become an official teacher at Konoha's ninja Academy.

As she began to delve into the finer points of chakra, she was interrupted by a wave of sound that grew increasingly louder and more heated. Gritting her teeth, she tried to continue, but there was no fighting it now. Incoherent yelling and arguing soon clarified as the source approached the outdoor classroom.

Sasuke and Naruto were back.

            "What the hell is that supposed to mean, damn you?!"

            "You'd think you'd know what dobe meant by now, dumbass—"

            "Oh, there we go, there goes that kiss-my-feet-I'm-Sasuke tone of voice—"

            "…this is the way my voice sounds all the time, dumbass—"

            "—oh right, I forgot, that's the way you sound all the goddamn time—"

            "—would you just shut up and stop sounding as stupid as you look—"

            "—why don't YOU shut up for once—"

            "—funny, as I recall, you're the village's number one loudest ninja—"

            "—I can't believe I survived this goddamn mission with you breathing down my neck—"

            "—I had a great time babysitting you too, Naruto. And I'm looking forward to the next time…and the next time after that—"

            "DON'T START WITH ME—"

            "—and the next time after that until you're too old to pass the jounin exam."

            There was a profound silence as the young man with fox-like slitted eyes sucked a deep breath into his lungs. His companion shook his head and shut his deep black eyes in resignation. And then—

            "WHENAREYOUGOINGTOSTOPGIVINGMECRAPABOUTTHETHRICEDAMNED

JOUNINEXAMASIFIDIDN'THAVEENOUGHTODEALWITHWITHOUTYOURSHITFOLLOWING

MEAROUNDFOREVERYGODDAMNMISSIONIHAVE—"

            "You should pass your test, then."

            "YOUHAVEN'TBEENANBUFORVERYLONGEITHERYOUHAVENORIGHTTOGIVE

MECRAPABOUTITYOURGODDAMNSUPERIORITYCOMPLEXMAKESMESICK—"

            Sasuke looked up and watched a familiar figure approach them.

            "—I'LLPASSTHETESTANDLEAVEYOUINTHEDUSTANDWHENIBECOMEHOKAGE—"

            Just what Naruto was planning for that day would never be known, as he was then set upon by an irate Sakura who was letting her inner side have dominance for the moment. Sasuke turned away as horrible cries and fearsome snapping noises assured him that Naruto would be very, very quiet for a little while.

            The black-haired shinobi was not in the clear, however. He quailed inwardly as a demonic-looking Sakura suddenly loomed in his vision. These days, Sakura had ceased to contain her inner self, and the results were not pretty most of the time. It did gave him vindictive pleasure to see people that annoyed Sakura mauled and hung out to dry, but sometimes he was on the receiving end of all that repressed anger, and he did not like that at all.

            "Sasuke-kun."

His heart lifted. If she said his name quietly, it usually meant he was safe.

            "I realize that Naruto can be very trying," Sakura went on"…but could you sink to his level somewhere else?"

            Sasuke raised an eyebrow, which was a mistake. Inner Sakura nearly bowled him over. "I'M TRYING TO HOLD A CLASS HERE, AND I'M BEING INSPECTED! TAKE THAT…THAT…" the hand that pointed at the nearly dead Naruto shook with rage. "…THA…HIM…AWAY! UNTIL THE CLASS IS OVER! MOVE!"

            Trying to look like he wasn't hurrying, Sasuke scooped up the prone golden-haired shinobi and promptly disappeared.

            Sakura huffed and stomped over to her class. Noting that some of the students were shaking, she counted to ten, submerged her inner self, and put a bright smile on her face. "Sorry about that, kids. Now, chakra flows from the center of the body…" As the children relaxed back into listening, she chanced a glance at her inspector. He smiled and gave her a thumbs-up, a long scar visible over the clipboard he held before his face.

            Thank goodness it's Iruka-sensei, she thought ruefully as the noon bell tolled and the children got up with exclamations of joy. At least he understands what I put up with. But she couldn't help worrying.

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            Naruto settled himself against the wall of the jounin office hallway to wait and tentatively brought a hand to his face, wincing as he passed his fingers over his cheek. A bruise was forming, and it wasn't going to be a small one. He smiled, then cursed as a dull throb of pain shot through his face. Sakura was formidable when she was mad…actually, she was pretty formidable when not, as well.

            The thought filled him with pride. The cute little girl that had become his teammate seven years ago had grown so much, had become so strong in body and mind. And he, Uzumaki Naruto, had been a part of that. Though he hadn't an inkling of how much good or bad he'd done, he had been with her while she grew and changed…only two other people could claim to have seen as much as he had. Over the years, his childish crush on her had dissipated into platonic affection. She was as close to him as a sister, and he wasn't reluctant to admit that he felt as much love and pride for her as if he really was her brother.

            So he was extremely contrite when she emerged from the office. Feelings aside, he feared the fist of righteous Haruno rage.

            "Sakura-chan, I'm really sorry about disrupting your class, I wasn't watching….Sakura-chan?" Naruto's vibrantly blue eyes snapped open with worry as Sakura came to a halt before him, head bowed. "What is it?"

            His ears were nearly blasted off as she suddenly whooped and grabbed him in a fierce hug. "I did it, Naruto! I'm a sensei! Look, all the paperwork's stamped and done…I did it!"

            "Of course you did—" Naruto managed to choke. "Like there was any chance of you not getting it—"

            "Well, there was an extremely good chance, seeing as you made me lose my temper in front of the kids," Sakura's enthusiastic hug intensified exponentially. "…and I thought I could lose it, but Iruka-sensei was my inspector, he waved it off, ah Naruto, I did it! Wait'll I tell Lee-san!"

            Naruto fervently wished that she would not. The village would burn in the flames of Rock Lee's intense joy.

            "Where's Sasuke-kun?" Sakura went on, looking around for the quiet Uchiha. "Mou…I thought he'd come to see the results!"

            "Like that bastard would do anything so thoughtful." Naruto's banter took on a bitter edge. Sakura sighed and released him so that she could look into his glowing sky blue eyes. "Did you two fight again?" she asked quietly.

            "When do we not fight?" Naruto's eyes immediately narrowed into trickster slits as he smiled. "Something'd be horribly wrong if we didn't."

            Hiding again, Sakura thought with an inner sigh. He always flashed that certain smile when he was upset.

But she smiled gently at him so as not to worry him. The childish disdain that she had once felt for him had melted away long ago, had given way to grudging and then unconditional affection. She loved the golden-haired ninja fiercely, like the elder sister he never had, and acted accordingly. Over the years they had spent together, she had watched him grow from a brat into a reliable young man, and the time had only strengthened her fondness for him and increased her desire to give him the love that only family could give. So she tried not to hurt him or worry him, unless like today, for example, his stupidity could not be ignored.

            But Sasuke-kun was not so careful.

            "So…mission was bad, huh?" Sakura asked carefully.

Naruto put his hands behind his head in his classic nonchalant pose. "No, it was fine, had to escort a train of merchants into the Fire Country, but Sasuke and I…I mean, he was breathing down my neck the entire way and putting on his goddamn airs…ya know, 'Pay attention, dobe,' and 'Stop making so much noise, dobe,' and 'You suck, dobe,'…..ya know, I think he's forgotten my real name. Anyhow, it pissed me off, and when we got back into Konoha, he started up again, and I…kinda lost it. So…" he opened one eye and peered hopefully at her. "So that's why I was making so much noise…so I'm sorry…'bout disruptin' your class and all."

            She was about to forgive him graciously, but then he smiled a gigantic grin and said, "But it didn't make a difference that you went nuts anyway, I mean, you passed! Guess they don't care about your psycho-demonic-super-ugly-side long as you teach wel—"

            There were several ugly cracking noises and a dull thud, then silence.

Iruka poked his head out of the jounin office, clearly annoyed at the scuffling that had disturbed him. His eyebrow twitched as he beheld an unconscious Naruto crumpled before the office door and an irate pink-haired ninja stalking down the hallway.

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            "Mmmp…pffff…..okawari…." Naruto muttered, lost in a pleasant dream that involved a lot of free ramen. Iruka rolled his eyes and snapped his index finger against the tip of Naruto's nose.

            After screaming in pain, raging over the "childish prank", and some blinking, Naruto felt ready to join the coherent world again. "Where the hell am I?" he asked sourly.

            "The jounin office." Iruka settled down with a sigh to his desk again, where a formidable pile of contracts awaited his inspection. Naruto's eyes widened at the sight. "Geez…you're gonna get fat staying in here reading those things."

            "You could do it for me," Iruka said pleasantly, stamping one for rejection and throwing it into the outcast pile before drawing a small scroll towards him and opening it. He noted that Naruto's eyes clamped shut, hiding his eager nervousness. Iruka wished he had better news for him. 

"So," he began brightly. "I heard you did well."

            Naruto looked affronted. "Of course I did! I do everything well!" He leaned forward. "So?"

            "Behavior in check most of the time, treated the clients with courtesy and caution, even carried some of their wares for them….good marks from your clients…and…." Iruka scanned the rather frazzled scroll. "Full marks from one of the ANBU accompanying you." He stressed the word "one".

            In the wake of the astonishing silence following, Iruka lifted his eyes from Naruto's scorecard and focused them back onto the young man's face. "You know, if you didn't scowl so much, you'd have a lot more luck with women," he said gently.

            It was indeed a black, ugly scowl that twisted Naruto's face. "Stupid asshole." He muttered. Iruka heaved a silent sigh and tossed the scorecard back onto the desk. "I can't imagine why you'd antagonize Uchiha when your test depends so much on passing the field trial—"

            Naruto was suddenly at the desk, reading the scroll. The look on his face grew even uglier as he scanned the parchment. "He failed me?!"

            The answer was obvious, so Iruka did not say it aloud. He rubbed the bridge of his nose in thought, then leaned forward to pick up another contract. "Well, it's obvious that your performance and behavior were fine…except towards Uchiha, I suppose…did you two fight again?"

            Hot anger swelled in Naruto's throat, choking him. The hand holding the scroll shook with suppressed rage. "He…failed me…again…"

            "Yes," Iruka tried to sound as gentle as he could. "And I'm sorry Naruto, but unless I get a pass from both ANBU present on your field trial, I can't pass you for the jounin exam. You know that. So…I really think…that you should try to swallow your differences if only for the sake of the exa—"

            He was not surprised but he jumped anyway as the younger man slammed a fist down onto the desk. Contracts rained to the floor as the Naruto slowly raised his freshly-bruised hand.        "That….goddamn….ASSHOLE," he gritted out. Something hot and thick was bubbling deep inside his chest, a pool of molten feeling.

            "I'm sorry, Naruto," Iruka said again, quietly. "You've got to go through the system just like everyone else—"

            "Then get Sasu….get that ASSHOLE out of the system!" Naruto shouted. "He's the one screwing me over, he's the reason I've had to take two field trials, and now I have to take ANOTHER ONE—"

            "I'm not the one in control of that, Naruto." Iruka reminded him. "And I can't amend the jounin exam committee's decisions, I don't think anyone can."

            The air was hot with Naruto's rage, but…it had to be said. "And there's got to be a reason that Uchiha is marking you down," Iruka shut his eyes and firmly continued. "I know it's not anything to do with your abilities, but if you can't get along with your teammate, then you really can't pass the field trial. The most important thing, especially for jounin, is to be able to work together to accomplish nearly impossible tasks. If it takes failure for you to realize that, then that's the way it has to be. You have to get along with him, Naruto. If you want to pass the jounin exam, you've got to be able to swallow your pride for once."

            Iruka had said the last few lines of his tirade to himself. He knew that even before he opened his eyes. The last of the contracts fluttered off the desk as a playful breeze danced through the now-open window.

            The brown-haired jounin rose slowly and took his time gathering up the parchments littering the floor. When they were arranged in a neat stack on the desk, he walked heavily to the window, meaning to close it. Instead, he braced his hands on the sill and leaned upon them, staring out at nothing and letting his thoughts overtake him.

            Kakashi…you've got to be wrong.

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Thanks again for reading. Please review, as I am new at this and would really like constructive criticism about my writing.