Notes: (2010) - Delivered some long overdue editing. Enjoy.
Disclaimer: I don't own shit.


Rebound

"Mommy, I don't want to go! Please, don't make me go…! Mommy, please, pretty-please with lots an' lots of sugar on top…I don't wanna…I'll stay home…" the small, pleading voice of a small girl reached for the woman standing in front of her. "M-Mommy…" the girl started to hiccough and sob. "I don't wanna go…"

The mother gave the girl a confused and concerned look. "Sakura, why on earth not? You seemed so exited about attending the Ninja Academy a week ago…that was all you would ever talk about… Sakura…" the mother crouched down so she could see her daughter's face clearly, and then placed her hands on the little girl's shoulders. "What's wrong?"

The girl referred to as Sakura raised a tiny hand and wiped her wet cheeks before she answered. "I…I just…" she sniffed, and her gaze dropped to her feet. She stood there for a few moments before speaking again. "Well, it's…" She looked back up at her mother, and with a sour expression, slowly lifted her fingers to her head. She brushed her tangled bangs that rested on her forehead, and parted them away to show her skin. Sakura continued to stare at her mother, and waited for her reaction.

The woman only looked confused and tilted her head to the side. "Well, sweetie, that's just your cute little forehead," she said as she leaned in and kissed it. "I don't see anything wrong with it at all," the woman gave a soft smile.

A new strand of tears fell over the girl's cheeks. "N-No! Not lit-little!" her grip over her forehead tightened as she wanted to shout, "It's big…big an'…an' huge!" she gasped in between sobs. Her mother wasn't helping at all…Sakura sniffed and hiccoughed, looking away from the woman. She dropped her arm from her face and let it rest by her side.

"Sakura, when have you become so sensitive? I didn't even notice anything wrong with you, what makes you think that other children would?" the mother reassured, figuring out that Sakura was afraid of being teased. "Besides…" she smiled and softly poked her daughter's forehead. "It's not big. Not big at all, it's perfectly normal," she chuckled.

Sakura touched the spot her mother had poked, glaring at the woman. "Th-Then what about those people I heard yesterday? When we were shopping…I heard them say things…like 'That girl has funny hair' and 'Her brow is large' t-too…!" Sakura bit the inside of her cheeks to stifle a few sobs. "If-If I go to the Ninja Academy…everyone's going to laugh at me…" Her shoulders dropped, and she reached over to grip on her mother's skirt.

"Sakura, honey, no one's going to laugh at you—"

"Y-You only says that, 'cause you're my mommy! Mommies aren't supposed to say that their kids are ugly!" Sakura shouted. "Telling me that no one's gonna laugh at me doesn't do anything…!"

The mother stood there for a second, stunned at the sudden outburst, then sighed. Honestly, if you didn't want reassurance, then why bring it up? Though she couldn't bring herself to blame the girl. She was only seven…most girls her age would start becoming insecure about their appearance at this time. Although, try as they might, they have a snowball's chance in hell of ever convincing their loving parent that they're ugly. Her mother gave a small exasperated sigh. Why did she have to start this nonsense on the very first day of attending the Ninja Academy?

"Here…" her mother leaned in closer and flattened out Sakura's bangs all across her forehead. Smoothing out the soft pink locks of hair, the woman looked at her daughter to see an innocent expression on her peach colored face. "See? If your hair is all over your forehead, then no one will be able to see it," she smiled at the girl.

At first the girl just blankly stared at her. Then, slowly, a smile creeped across her face. Yeah…it's perfect. She suddenly threw her arms around her mother's neck, in a thanking manner. "I-I love you, Mommy!" she whispered with excitement.

The mother took Sakura's hands and held them. She looked into her daughter's brilliant green eyes and smiled, no one could possibly even think of teasing this wonderful little angel. The mother thought of all the friends her daughter will be making…today will be a wonderful day for her. She was sure of that. "Well, now that that's settled, Sakura, if you don't hurry up, then you'll be late for your first day of ninja training."

Sakura grinned. "Yeah!"

.o.

So far, Sakura's first day at the Ninja Academy was turning out horrible. She tripped into a small puddle of mud before walking into the building, leaving a few splattered spots on her clothes (and smeared around for when she tried wiping it off), she only realized after the first two hours of class that she left her lunch at home, and already people were making comments about her pink hair. She could deal with brown, damp spots all over her dress and legs, she could starve herself all through lunch, but she hates dealing with ignorant people who are always walking up to her, asking if her hair was dyed or not, and expecting an answer with a straight face.

"So how do you get it that color without making it go all frizzed up and stuff?" came from the eleventh girl that day to point her hair out. It was currently the middle of lunch break, and children were running around, laughing and eating with their newly found friends. Friends that Sakura had not made.

Sakura stood there, flexing her hands in and out repeatedly. "This…" her teeth were gritting violently, and the other girl could've sworn that she heard them crack. "…is…my…natural color!" Sakura suddenly screamed, and gripped her fist into a ball, threatening a punch.

The other girl started to back away slowly, holding her hands out in front of her. "Hey, hey. What's your problem?" The noise coming from them apparently started attracting other children over to Sakura and the girl. They began to walk over and crowd around her.

"Hey, who's this girl? Her hair is odd," said one person who seemed to be a year older than Sakura.

"Yeah, how'd you get it to be like that?" said another.

"I have this one friend, she…she dyed her…her hair like, green…"

"Ew! Green?"

"Did your mommy let you dye your hair? Was she mad? Mine would like, so kill me."

"I don't have a mom. An' my dad wouldn't care if I did somethin' like that to my hair. Maybe I should color it, too."

"You would only mess it up a lot."

"Oh, shut up!"

"So hey, like, why pink? I would so do red."

"Red? I'd do blue."

"Actually, I like the pink idea. I bet I'd get more attention."

"You already get enough attention."

"How long did it take you to dye it?"

"What'll you do if you don't like pink anymore? You can't just, like, wash it off, can you?"

"Um, I think they…I think they sell washable dye…"

The children started gathering around her, touching her hair and asking her questions all at the same time. Sakura started feeling claustrophobia set in, and she hugged herself, hands clenching each elbow. This is a nightmare! I wanna go away…Let me go away!

"M-Move!" Sakura suddenly lurched forward, pushing all the people in her way. When she was slowed down, being so light and frail, she pushed all her weight into her arms and chest, stumbling forward when she broke the wall of random children. Sakura opened her clenched eyes and saw that she was already heading to crash into another person. "Ah!" Before she knew what had happened, Sakura was facing the ground, holding herself upright with her hands, her arms and chest feeling the after-effects of a touching sensation. She shyly looked up to see a boy her age dusting his arms off. He…he wasn't even fazed by her bumping into him! Who was he? And why was he giving her such a cold stare? Either way…Sakura thought, getting up and wiping her legs from dirt, I better apologize. She bowed down and held her hands together politely. "I'm…I'm sorry I crashed into you."

Suddenly she felt a few pair of hands on her back, pushing her. "Idiot! No one ever bumps into Uchiha Sasuke-kun!"

Sakura found herself looking at the dirt again, feeling the same after-effects of the sensation, only on her back. She turned her head up and looked at the two girls who pushed her. "Who?" she then twisted her neck to look at the boy she crashed into. He seemed to be a simple ninja in training, black shirt, dark pants, black hair, black eyes, black sandals, black, black, black. What an awfully dark boy…

Feeling anger tensing up in her veins, Sakura pushed herself upright and stood up. She turned to the girls and spat, "Yeah, well what's so great about Uchiha Sasuke-kun?" she mimicked the last few words in a high-pitched manner. (By then "Uchiha Sasuke-kun" had already shrugged the quarrel off and had left to have a peaceful lunch by himself against an old tree.)

The two girls stood, taken aback by what pinky-hair had just said. "You did so not just insult Sasuke-kun. What's not great about him? He's super-smart, really athletic, cute, and there's just that mysteriousness about him that just makes you go…oooh!" the girls squealed together, and blushed heavily, their hands on their cheeks.

Sakura's shoulders dropped, and her eyebrow started twitching. She didn't see anything so cool about him. Well, partly because these jerks liked him, and she didn't really want to be similar to them. "…I'm outa here," she blankly said, and pivoted on her ankle to leave. When the girls called her to come back and face the consequences, she ignored them.

Suddenly she heard a different voice, one of an older boy, yelling out around to everyone on the field. "Hey! You guys gotta come an' see this!"

Sakura turned around to see the boy, looking to be around age nine, running around and waving to all the other children. "What the…?" she murmured.

"There's this kid here who's aimin' to piss off a teacher! He's hidden a frog in the guy's lunch, you do not wanna miss this!" the boy continued to shout, like as if he were an advertisement. Some kids who were standing around started to murmur amongst themselves, discussing whether they should go see or not. Some had already started following the boy.

Sakura, at first thought, How stupid…but then after a violent grumble from the pits of her stomach, she decided that it could keep her mind off of lacking a lack of lunch, and started walking over to the boy. "Um…where is this taking place…?" she asked in a small voice.

The boy looked over at her and grinned. "You'll have to watch through a window. See, he's serving detention for being stupid in the middle of his class, an' now he has to stay in his classroom with his sensei, an' eat lunch with him. He's snuck a frog in the sensei's lunch bag, and we get to see his sensei's reaction through the window. Follow me," the boy turned around and started running to the side of a building, where a few large windows were visible. Quite a few children were gathered around one particular window, right on the corner of the building. "It's here," he pointed over to the window.

Sakura at first stood behind everyone, and was unable to see anything going on, but then a few people cleared a path for the younger children, and she was able to scoot up to the very front of the crowd. She rested her small hands on the windowsill and squinted her green eyes to observe what was going on in through the window.

She was able to see a tall man with a high, brown, ponytail, and a weird looking scar across his face, which she presumed to be the sensei. And there was another person, being a boy around her age, sitting in one of the desks a few rows away from his sensei. He had taken his own lunch out (a cheap cup of instant ramen) and was grinning deviously, waiting for his sensei to open the prize in the bag. The boy started rubbing his hands together, as he saw the man grab his lunch bag from the side of the desk, hoist it up to lay in front of him, and reached for the opening, not noticing the small twitching in the bottom of the bag. Here it is…Sakura thought. She didn't realize the small smile creeping across her own lips in anticipation.

When the teacher finally opened the sack, all hell broke loose. The frog conveniently decided to leap out of the bag and land right smack-dab on the sensei's face. At first the man was in shock, but then jumped out of his chair, and swatted at his face. As he was grabbing at the frog, he backed away a few steps, and tripped over a stack of papers, scattering them out everywhere, and causing him to fall flat on his back. As he tried to get up, the frog started to crawl down his chunin jacket, and upon feeling the slimy lump of flesh slither down his chest, he yelped out and ripped his jacket off, tossing it to the floor. The frog jumped out and started hopping away, slowly. The boy, however, was laughing his head off, pointing at the sensei.

"You…you…you…" the man was seething, and gritting his teeth violently. "You idiot!" He ran up to the boy and punched him hard on the head. "How dare you insult a teacher! Detentions for the rest of the week!"

The boy started clutching his head, his face wincing. "Ow, that hurt you know!" his lower lip stuck out, and his face scrunched up in a confused expression. "It's not like I put the stupid frog in your lunch…"

"Who else would've done it?" the man shouted.

Without realizing it, Sakura had been laughing out loud for the past minute. "Ahahaha…" her voice trailed off, and she rushed to cover her mouth. Oops...

Some of the children behind her started murmuring, "Shut up, or he'll see us…" but by then, it was too late. The sensei had already turned around and was glaring through the window, with a beet red and angry face.

"You kids stop fooling around and go back to your classes!" he yelled out, his now cracked teeth visible.

Before scampering away, a couple of children turned around and pushed Sakura once again into the ground. "Idiot!" they swooped around and ran the other direction, kicking up dust in Sakura's eyes. She sat on her knees for a few moments, wiping away the grains of sand from her face with her hands. Once again, she was brought back down to her miserable day, and her moment of cheerfulness pried out from between her fingertips. She sighed, and got up, trying her best to clean up her tortured, soiled, dress. Sakura got up and looked behind her once more—the sensei and the boy were already gone from the classroom. She turned around and ran to the other side, in hopes of making it to her kunoichi classes before she was late.

.o.

For the rest of her day, to Sakura, it seemed pretty normal. Only a couple more kids asked her about her hair, and, to her relief, no one noticed and/or commented about her huge forehead. She smiled to herself. It seems that her mother was right…she only needed to hide her worst features, and no one will notice. Sakura made a note to herself to give her mother extra hugs and kisses when she got home.

The last hour of class came and went, and now children of all ages were filling out the front courtyard to the Ninja Academy. Most parents were already there, waiting to greet their children and take them home, but Sakura was left alone. She had to walk. She didn't mind at all, though. It made her feel…independent. She decided to sit on a small rock wall, and watch the people clear out slowly, as she clacked her shoes together repeatedly. It was almost as if this morning had never happened. She didn't remember the crowd of children, the poking her hair, Uchiha Sasuke, and the boy…

Right as the last few families were leaving, Sakura saw the frog boy sitting by himself, silently swinging on an old, rope swing. Pushing back and forth on his heels in rhythm, he intently stared at the ground, with a rather…sad expression on his face. Poor guy…Sakura thought. He must've gotten quite a scolding, an' he probably hasta walk home, too. She looked at him for a few moments, having an argument inside of herself on whether she should go up and talk to him or not. Remembering that she still hadn't made any new friends yet, and deciding that this was the perfect opportunity to make one, Sakura pushed herself off the rock wall with her arms, balanced herself, and started making her way over to the old swing.

When she was standing a few feet in front of the boy, Sakura rubbed the back of her head, and shyly said, "Umm…hi…"

At first, the boy didn't even notice her. He just continued to sit and glare at the ground. Sakura dropped her shoulders, and gave a second call, "Hey, umm…"

Only then did the boy perk his head up. When he did, Sakura suddenly realized that this boy…he had some really, brilliant, blue eyes. She started to stare for a moment, in awe.

"Uh, are you talking to me?" the boy cocked his head to the side, confused.

"Oh! Umm…yeah."

"'Kay, then…"

Silence. For a few moments, they just stood there and looked at each other, both wondering what to say next. Awkward… Sakura hated the silence, and shook her head. "Oh, uh, I was just, um, going to say that, um…" she chocked up on the right words to say. What to do? What to say? I can't just go up to him and say, 'Hey, I wanna be your friend.' He'll just think I'm weird an' leave! Sakura screamed in her mind. "Well, I…"

To her delight (and surprise), the boy wasn't getting impatient, nor did he seem to be in any hurry for her to spit it out. He actually seemed to drink in every second that Sakura was wasting time, directing her attention to him. The more the better, it looked like.

Sakura began to realize that she was getting nowhere with saying "Um's" and "Uh's" repeatedly, and finally got to the point, in her small and shy voice. "I, uh… think you're very funny," her gaze dropped to the ground, and she started playing with the dirt with her toes, her hands linked behind her back.

At first the boy just looked at her, but then he grinned a huge smile that seemed to make the whole world bright and shiny. His eyes sparkled, and his teeth flashed. It seemed to make Sakura happy, herself. "Really?"

"Uh…yeah…" Sakura gained a tint of pink that dashed across her cheeks.

"Thanks!"

For a few, long minutes, the two stood there, smiling at each other. But then, the boy got up from the old swing and started brushing his pants off. "Well…I've got to go, now, so…" he grinned again, gave a small wave, turned around, and started to walk the other way. Sakura desperately wanted to call for him and ask his name, and ask to be friends, but her throat just wasn't obeying to her wishes. All she could do was watch him leave, and hope that she'll meet him again.

Um…bye…

.o.

In the next few days, people had begun to start poking fun at Sakura's forehead, calling her "Ms. Billboard Brow" and other names. On most days after school, she would find herself kneeling next to a bush, crying her eyes out and wiping her cheeks. For a while, she continued to hope that she would see the blue-eyed boy, so he would brighten her day with his smile again. She didn't see him for the rest of the year.

A few months after her first class started, as she was weeping in the local park, she met a girl named Ino, who had told her that her mother was wrong in hiding her bangs, and that she should just show her brow off with pride. She gave Sakura a ribbon, and soon after that, Ino would always brighten her days whenever Sakura was feeling gloomy.

Ino introduced Sakura to her friends, and soon, Sakura became a part of the group. She never worried about being teased ever again, except on a few occasions. Ino always protected her, though. The two were stuck together like glue.

After a few months of being with Ino and the group, Sakura had been influenced enough to start understanding what was so cool about Sasuke-kun, and she herself, began to develop feelings for him. He was smart, he was athletic, and he was mysterious. To the new Sakura, those factors were irresistible. She became a total fangirl over him in the next few years.

By then, she had completely forgotten about the blue-eyed boy. An unwanted memory, stuffed in the back corner of her mind. She was happy now, and nothing could ever be better for her.

Five Years Later

"Naruto! You idiot!" Sakura found herself lunging forward, fist first, and smacking down the head of her new fellow teammate, Naruto. She and the rest of her team were all walking on their way to pull of a so-called 'mission' by weeding a fellow citizen's garden, when Naruto started bad-mouthing the other guy on the team; Sasuke. Stupid Naruto, always talking about how much better he is than Sasuke-kun! He can't even compare to Sasuke-kun's coolness, hell yeah! Sakura screamed in her head.

Naruto clutched his head and winced in pain. "Aww, Sakura, why'd you hit me?" his lower lip stuck out as he pouted. "…Don't see what's so cool 'bout Sasuke-kun." He murmured softly.

Sakura's ear twitched as she heard him say those words, and she flew around to Naruto's face, whipping her now long pink hair around, and yelled out, "You did so not just insult Sasuke-kun again! What's not great about him? He's super-smart, really athletic, cute, and there's just that mysteriousness about him that just makes you go—" she suddenly stopped in mid-sentence, her mouth halfway open. Her eyes started to widen slightly in confusion. "Wait a minute…" she murmured, "I coulda sworn I've heard this conversation somewhere else before…" she started thinking to herself, holding her finger up to her lips.

"Heeey, what's the matter, Sakura? Are you finally realizing that you hold a deep love for me instead?" the stupid, irritating voice of her teammate felt like they were punching her in the face and scratching her eardrums until they turned to mush. She really hated Naruto's high-pitchy voice…

She slowly turned around to face Naruto with a red, hot, angry look. "Me…and, you…?" she started staring at him with a blank look in her eyes, and her eyebrows started twitching. She began to clench and unclench her fists together. "NOT funny, Naruto! You are not funny at all!" she leapt up to him and swung her fist down hard on his head again. "I have no clue as to what kind of idiot would ever even say you're funny!" Damn straight! She shouted to herself in her mind.

Naruto started gripping the top of his head again, his face twisted in pain. "Y-You're mean, Sakura…"

.o.

Throughout the years, the pink-haired girl and the blue-eyed boy would sometimes think occasionally of each other, just to remember the smiles exchanged that day, but they would eventually forget completely about each other. The pink-haired girl was always taught to make and keep friends forever, but in this she had failed to grasp the boy, and instead, grew up in a more girlish environment. The blue-eyed boy was never taught anything, and had grown up playing pranks on people and disrupting the peace of Konoha, in exchange for pep chuckles, short attention spans, and many, many, detentions with his sensei. Both had come to the decision that they would never see the other again, and eventually learned to forget each another. But what they had never known was that they were always together the whole time.

End