Disclaimer: NARUTO © Masashi Kishimoto.
Word Count: 2133 words
Chapters: 4/6 (two more to go!)
Content: Female!Naruto, slightly-bastardized Sasuke?, mild language, shounen-ai, het, AU.
A/N: Full list of warnings, blather and notes in the first chapter (:
I hope you enjoy! And please let me know what you think! :D
He transformed to Naruto.
"Fuck," he swore and stared at the girl's uniform that clung to his sweaty body. Cross-dressing has never appealed to Naruto before, but now, it only cemented his belief that men looked beyond ridiculous wearing women's clothing.
"Don't panic, don't panic," he chanted to himself. A wave of dread washed over him when he heard an explosion of cheering. Is the game finished? How long did the transformation take? It usually only took 30 minutes, though with this strange circumstances, Naruto wouldn't be surprised if it took longer than usual, just to fuck up his situation some more.
Think, Naruto, think. Which is worse—caught inside a locked girl's bathroom or caught outside school premises?
"I'd rather not be caught at all," he decided stubbornly. He mentally congratulated himself when he found his cellphone in his pocket. After he sent a desperate text message to Tsunade detailing his circumstances, he splashed some water on his face and started running the hell away from school.
Well, he was supposed to run the hell away from this place—
But as soon as he stepped out of the bathroom, he stopped, frozen cold, when he heard foreboding footsteps resounding nearby.
His mind was already tumbling around various excuses he could cough up to anyone who might recognize him, who might ask questions, who might send him to the authorities for being a pervert lurking around in a schoolgirl's uniform. But before Naruto could even exhaust his mind with concocting excuses, he let out a mental sigh of relief when he saw the unfamiliar uniform of the person making her way to the bathroom.
Someone from another school, possibly from their opponent school, equally possibly from a different school who went here to just to see the game. But the reasons for the stranger to lurk around didn't really matter to Naruto, who was only too relieved to know that the stranger wouldn't recognize him at all.
Nevertheless, Naruto kept his head down and his footsteps brisk as he passed by the stranger as he made his way to the school entrance. Tsunade texted him back, a brief message that ordered him to wait for her in the entrance so she could bring him back home without much fuss.
The hallways remained blissfully empty, with everyone including the staff enamored with watching Uchiha Sasuke show off his athleticism in front of his adoring crowd. The thought only made Naruto's footsteps harsher, faster, and that was his mistake.
Thinking about Sasuke has always brought him trouble, and this time, his mind wasn't even prepared to see anybody else, his body wasn't prepared to bump into anybody else.
But he did bump to somebody when he made a turn towards the locker areas.
He had been lucky the first time, but now Naruto's luck had run out.
Because of all the people to see him in that state, it had to be the upperclassman, Hyuuga Neji.
He's My Girl
Naruto forcefully thunked his head against the taxi window, not more than twenty minutes after his unfortunate bodily collision with one Hyuuga Neji. Tsunade was smart enough to bring a hoodie jacket to conceal Naruto's definitely not-girly face, but Naruto had to hold back his complaints and explanations until the two of them reached home, since his voice was decidedly manly enough to be jarring when coupled with his outfit.
As expected from an upperclassman with the best grades in the entire school, Hyuuga Neji immediately understood the situation and moved in swiftly to take advantage of it. Naruto gritted his teeth when he recalled the way Neji's eyes stared at him silently, as though assessing him, judging him.
"It's a small sacrifice, don't you agree?" Neji asked snottily—face carved in a stony expression that Naruto so despised, words delivered in an aristocratic manner that Naruto so loathed—but Naruto didn't have a choice, not at all. If he wanted to keep the secret regarding Naruko, he needed to do whatever Neji asked him to.
But there was still some bit of justice in the world, for Hyuuga Neji wasn't a complete bastard. He offered to keep his mouth shut and to forget their encounter ever happened, and the condition wasn't so bad. Or rather, the condition is rather weird in a sense that Naruto didn't know if Neji actually understood the idea of blackmailing.
After all, Neji's condition for his silence was for Naruto to bring his cousin Hinata out on a date.
That was fine.
Actually, that was more than fine.
Hinata struck him as a shy, but kind girl; Naruto would always welcome any potential friend that wasn't as cruel as the classmates he spent his years with.
The deal was actually too good to be true, which was why Naruto kept on thinking whether he misunderstood Neji's proposal or if Neji was deliberately misleading him. But while Neji was a very haughty and arrogant asshole, he didn't strike Naruto as someone who could be that vicious to someone he doesn't really have anything to do with.
The taxi pulled over in front of their apartment, and Naruto made his way back home, with Tsunade supporting him by his elbow.
Shenanigans with Neji aside, the most important thing Naruto needed to do is to figure out what went wrong with his transformation.
"Someone probably switched the potion with something. Or maybe they tampered with it?"
Naruto was on his knees, crouched in front of different furniture to see whether they could find clues—fingerprints, dirt, anything—regarding the identity of the person behind the break-in to their house. Tsunade was mumbling around and checking the potion's files and running around her laboratory; the least Naruto could do for his guardian is to manage to find something to shed light to this case. He needed to prepare a letter and an excuse for Naruko not being at school for the next few days, too. There will be an upcoming long weekend, so Naruto hoped that they could solve this before the break ended.
"But who would have known about the potion?"
"I didn't finish that potion while I was…" Tsunade trailed off, looking as though she has swallowed something nasty.
"You got an idea?"
Tsunade gave a murmuring assent, eyes narrowed in concentration. "…I think I know who tampered with the potion."
Naruto spent the next couple of days without transforming—it's not like there were classes and the Old Hag needed to gather ingredients for the next batch of potions. Naruto decided that since it's better to just get things over with, he should do his part of his deal with Neji. Then maybe he can spend the remainder of his mini-vacation… observing Sasuke's movements.
Naruto gave a call to the number Neji sent him the other day. The formal greeting ("Hyuuga Residences, good morning" sounded like it's from an office) startled him. He managed to get Hinata's name out, followed by his real name when the person cautiously asked about his identity.
"Uzumaki," the voice on the other line answered after a minute.
Naruto frowned at the decidedly male voice. "You're not Hinata."
"This is Neji." He sounded as though he wanted to add 'duh' or 'no shit' to Naruto's very astute observation. But Neji held back on any insults. Naruto wondered, not for the first time, if this was a trap; there was just no way that something as juicy as Naruto lurking around as a girl (and as the popular Miyazaki Naruko, no less) was only equivalent to taking someone out on a date of-sorts.
"You can meet up with Hinata-sama in front of the WM restaurant—you do know where that is, don't you?—I've made reservations already."
"Whoa, I didn't know you're very overprotective over Hinata," Naruto ignored the jab about his lack of knowledge about popular restaurants; it's not like it's his fault that he's content with Ichiraku Ramen for every single meal, "next you're gonna tell me that you'll tail us for the rest of our date."
There's an uncomfortable silence from the other end. Naruto sighed.
"…I'll see you guys there."
"If I ever see you making untoward moves toward Hinata-sama—"
"Yes, yes, I'll be good. See you there, cousin-complex."
"I couldn't believe it," Hinata murmured, eyes shiny with what seemed like unshed tears, "w-w-when Neji-niisan told me you were back, I… I couldn't believe it. But you're here. You're back for r-r-real, Naruto-kun? Are you…?"
Naruto rubbed his neck, all the while averting his eyes from Hinata's. He dearly hoped that Neji wouldn't pick this moment to spy on them from whichever spot he picked—Naruto didn't even want to imagine Neji's reaction to Hinata's expression. He also hoped against hope that Hinata wouldn't push the matter further. He wasn't prepared with a lie to feed her questions; he wasn't prepared to tell her that he never wanted to return to school, to everyone who loathed him.
What was he thinking? That he could just meet Hinata today and disappear—for forever this time? That he could just recover what he lost, what he willingly traded for a life away from scathing words, that he could just be Naruto again without anybody questioning him?
"Hinata, I need to tell you something—"
He wasn't sure if he could trust Hinata, but she was the sweetest girl he knew, the sweetest person he knew, and maybe she would understand when he told him that he'd never see her again. But as Naruto was gathering his words to perform coherent sentences, he didn't notice that someone more dangerous than Neji entered the fancy restaurant they're at.
But Hinata noticed, because they all belonged to the same school, attended the same classes. Hinata noticed, and today, on the day that Hinata resolved to be more confident and more straightforward because she was meeting a person that she admired for his honesty and cheerfulness—today, Hinata waved to that dangerous person.
And when Naruto looked up, he saw Hinata's eyes that were clear and devoid of unshed tears, eyes that were instead acknowledging and welcoming someone that stood behind Naruto.
Naruto knew who the person was even before he turned around, even before the person spoke up.
"G-Good day, Uchiha-san, Sasuke-san."
Naruto knew that he would have to acknowledge their presence. Social graces dictated those things. Naruto wanted to just run away from this place. Naruto wanted to just return to his home. Naruto wanted to just be Naruko again because everybody loved her, even if she wasn't real.
"Yo, Sasuke… Itachi."
The few times he had crossed paths with Uchiha Itachi, Naruto had always felt an oppressive atmosphere. Today was no different; Itachi still possessed that disinterested look that just screamed 'untrustworthy person' to Naruto. But it was Sasuke's equally disinterested look that caused Naruto's heart to do somersaults. Sasuke's expression mirrored Itachi's well. Too well. It was disconcerting, to say the least.
Itachi exchanged some superficial pleasantries with Hinata—weaving connections between one heir to another—the words escaped Naruto's mind. He was too busy staring at Sasuke; Sasuke was too busy not staring back. Naruto bit his lip; tempted to explain, but there was nothing to explain. This was his choice, just like it was his choice to leave school then, just like it was his choice to join society again as someone born from a figment of imagination. It was his choice—it may not be the best or most courageous, but it was his choice nevertheless.
"…please excuse us then, Hyuuga-san. Sasuke, let's go."
Naruto saw Itachi's hand on Sasuke's elbow; Naruto saw that Sasuke didn't shrug that hand off. And why would he? He may loathe physical contact from his peers, but it was surely different for his brother.
…There used to be a time when he could also grab that elbow, when he could hold on to a pale shoulder, when he could punch the Itachi-like expression off his face, but it was a time from the past. There was no use lamenting the loss of their strange rivalry.
"Is s-something wrong, Naruto-kun?"
Hinata was here with him, and he promised Neji he would give Hinata a day with him. He promised Neji, even if it was under the threat of blackmail, that he would make sure Hinata was smiling today. Hinata liked him, he realized now. Hinata liked him, even if nobody did. Hinata liked him, even if he didn't return her feelings. Hinata liked him, even if he was never going to return.
Hinata liked him.
—even if Sasuke didn't.
"Sorry, I was just thinking of where we can go next."
Hinata liked him.
—even if Uzumaki Naruto was a liar.
To Be Continued
I find it very hard to write in the past tense nowadays—it's the major thing to blame for the lateness of this chapter. I had to rewrite it so many times LOL
Two more chapters to go! Next chapter is what you can call 'Sasuke's chapter'. It will be completely from Sasuke's point-of-view, detailing the events of the past (his past rivalry with Naruto, their time together at school, and how he felt when he realized that Naruto quit school).
Next Chapter: Installment Five
There was nobody that Uchiha Sasuke hated more than Miyazaki Naruko—because she was the one who stole Naruto away from him.
"I stole the potion," the figure on the doorway said, interrupting Sasuke's thoughts, "that's what you wanted, right?"