This is my second Naruto fanfiction, which I am hoping will be better than the first.
It really means a lot to me if you would review and tell me your thoughts and feelings about this, (no, I'm not a shrink in disguise).
Keep in mind that keeping characters in character is not exactly my biggest strength, but I try. I really do.
Friends come and go, but enemies accumulate.
Hello, my name is Haruno Sakura, and I am a werewolf.
The girl snapped the notebook shut, and sighed, running her fingers through her pastel pink locks. She sat back on her thin, single bed and looked intently at the slats of the bunk above her. "There you go, Kurenai-sensei, an honest and complete account of my life."
Yuuhi Kurenai, the science and health teacher of the orphanage that the Pack was currently taking shelter in had an odd way of contemplating life. There was no sane way that Haruno Sakura could tell her own life story, and not get put into a mental asylum.
After a second thought, she opened the notebook again and tore out the first page, squeezing it into a tight ball of wadded paper. Then she tossed it into the wastepaper basket next to the bunk, and leaving the notebook on the bed, swung her feet over the right edge and into a pair of strappy sandals.
Cautiously, she pulled open the door of their dorm, and was met by utter and complete chaos.
Yamanaka Ino, the official organizer of events, was running around frantically calling out orders and looking like a tornado. Yuuhi Kurenai, nervously trying to keep Ino in check, was failing and looking disgruntled. Half-wrapped cupcakes and pans of baked brownies were all settled neatly into rows on a small table.
The younger children of the orphanage had decided that it was time to play, and had come out trying to steal as many sweets as they could before Ino could whack them with the aluminum bat she was wielding. Sakura sighed, trying not to giggle, and took the bat calmly away from Ino.
"Ino-pig, child abuse isn't going to help the bake sale along."
Ino glared at her best friend, and blew a strand of her platinum blonde hair out of her face. "Well, you could show me a better way, forehead-girl," she panted, sounding exhausted. "You could ask for some more help," Sakura suggested. Ino shook her head violently. "Over my dead body! You know how devastating it would be to ask others for help when I refused it over two weeks ago."
Ino did have a point, but Sakura could never make sense of her friend's unshakable pride. The pink-haired girl lowered her voice, cautiously glanced around, and then whispered into Ino's ear, "There's always the Pack." Ino snorted, a reaction to cover up the fact that she had stiffened visibly. Sakura didn't fail to notice. "No," she replied airily. "I don't want to get them involved."
By "I don't want to get them involved", Sakura knew Ino meant she didn't want a certain lazy young wolf to be helping out, but she kept her mouth clamped loyaly shut. "Alright then," she muttered reluctantly, waltzing down the rickety spiral staircase and dodging around a three-year-old boy with a baseball cap perched jauntily on his head and covered in cupcake frosting.
Her last fleeting glance of Ino out of her peripheral vision was of the blonde looking about ready to swallow her pride and beg for Sakura's help on her knees, but Sakura was too fast. Baking was not in her expertise area.
Downstairs, it was a little less chaotic. "Ohayo, Tsunade-sama," she bowed respectfully before the lounging owner of the orphanage. Tsunade blinked blearily in acknowledgement and fell back into a stupor, lulled by the shafting sun beams settling in through the stained glass windows. Sakura smiled to herself and progressed out of the front door, sitting down on the concrete porch step.
Outside, the air was knife-sharp chilly, but she wouldn't have it any other way. Cars beeped and honked and tried to crush other people's bumpers. Passing pedestrians wrapped in long coats and colorful scarves, despite the unusual sunshine, smiled briefly at her before continuing. One young man of about twenty stopped to wolf whistle.
Sakura calmly gave him the finger.
It wasn't that men in general annoyed her; it was more that too many men as a total had bugged her, and this man happened to have ticked off her boiling point. He shuffled away, looking very embarrassed and slightly angry.
Haruno Sakura had grown beautiful over the past three years, even she, being modest, would grudgingly admit it. It was normal of a younger wolf, but that didn't make it any more comforting. Her pastel pink hair, merely unusual as a child, was now considered exotic. Her green eyes had enlarged and became more soulful. Her face was now pale and angelic, with soft and thin lips and a tall but not gangly figure.
Three years ago, the Pack had found the orphanage on a dark, misty night, on Christmas Eve. Tsunade had welcomed them with open arms, them being modest teenagers with quiet voices and excellent manners who didn't seem to have a home. They had been here ever since.
Sakura often questioned if it had been a wise choice to stay: having to fight the danger and temptation of losing their perfect control, and morphing in front of a human. The werewolf would undoubtedly get a fine meal, but what of it afterward? They would have to run again, and the girl had grown more attached to this rickety old building than she cared to admit.
She frowned, realizing that she was uncomfortable because she was sitting on something. Standing up halfway, she extracted a battered post-it note from her back. In Ino's familiar slanting cursive, it read, "Green, pink, or blue?"
It took her a few seconds to realize what Ino meant, and when she did, she almost laughed out loud. Surely Ino could decide on the color of the cupcake frostings for the upcoming bake sale without her help? It was this afternoon, and if they still hadn't frosted the cupcakes…and there were quite a lot of cupcakes…
She sighed, stood up, and pushed open the huge wooden door of the orphanage again, prepared to tell Ino that pink would probably look most attractive on the chocolate cupcakes and that she should probably frost the vanilla ones with the new chocolate canisters of frosting that Sakura had picked up at the store last week…how forgetful her friend could be…
She was about to start up the stairs, but sucked in her breath instead, immediately reverting to remembering how to consciously breathe.
Uchiha Sasuke was standing at the top of the staircase, leaning casually against the banister, his hair in perfect disarray. Sakura stared at his angelic features, so perfectly sculpted as those typical of werewolves their age group. His coal black, cold eyes, the long, straight nose, the angular shape of his chin, the way that his raven hair fell about his face…
Right. She still had to breathe. Hyperventilation was hardly a way to be cool in front of her crush.
Yes, Haruno Sakura had a crush on Uchiha Sasuke, and it was no small schoolgirl one either. Since the day that she had first seen him, on that fateful day…
She shook her head to clear her thoughts, trying to block the ones about how annoyingly fangirlish her attitude had been toward him from the ages of nine to late twelve. She blushed slightly, breaking her eye contact with him, and started determinedly up the staircase, biting her lip all the while.
Sasuke was amused.
She would be hard pressed to be certain, but she had known the last Uchiha for many years now. Underneath the almost never-changing mask of coldness on his pale face, she was sure that there was a flicker of amusement within his black, emotionless eyes.
She wanted desperately to scream and break into a run, past him or back down the stairs, and to quell the maddening blush that was creeping from her cheeks down to her neck. It was excruciating to squeak, "Excuse me," and sweep past him onto the top floor. Well, er, not sweep, perhaps. More like stumble.
The Uchiha shifted slightly to follow her path over his shoulder, the natural human reaction. Then he merely turned away again and walked down the staircase, serenely calm. Sakura sighed wistfully, wishing that she could keep her cool like that when he was around. "Forehead girl!" Ino squealed. "Back so soon? Oh, you got the note…so you see the dilemma? Alright then, follow me…"
And Sakura was drawn away from her fantasies once again by the chattering Ino, who was as good of a shoulder, distracter, and best friend as you could ever find in the universe.
"My God, Ino, a small country has gone hungry once again from the amount of food that you've stolen from them," a girl with two buns perched atop her head scolded mockingly. Ino rolled her eyes good naturedly. "What, you going tree-hugger on me?"
Tenten, Weapons Mistress, gestured toward the tables, chairs, benches, trays, coffee tables, and portable boxes of sweets. "Seriously, Ino, you've outdone yourself this time." Sakura inwardly agreed. The number of empty frosting canisters in the kitchen was overwhelming. She pitied the person who had to take out the trash today.
"I t-think that it l-looks delicious, Ino-san," one pearl-eyed Hyuuga murmured shyly, looking down and fiddling her fingers. "Though I w-wouldn't be able to f-finish it in a year," she added pointedly.
Sakura smiled as Ino scolded Hinata gently. "How many times do I have to tell you to call me Ino-chan? Or just Ino, if you like. Ino-san makes me sound professional, and professional means you're old." "Hey, watch it!" Tenten complained. The Weapons Mistress had recently completed her martial arts training and was fully authorized to teach lessons if she wished.
Ino rolled her eyes again and bowed to her brown-haired friend. "Of course, of course, you're too old to be old-old. You're ancient." "Don't make me use my machine gun," Tenten laughed. Ino snorted. "Yeah, the one that Bob the Grape made for you when you were three, right?" Tenten pouted. "Bob was my friend!" "Uh huh, until Naruto ate him."
The four girls were lounged around on the upstairs center floor, exhausted because Ino had finally given in and asked for all of their help. Hinata was leaning against the wall, Tenten sat cross-legged on the ground, Sakura slumped into a collapsible chair, and Ino standing with crossed arms.
"Ino, sit down. You're making my blisters ache just looking at you," Tenten insisted. Ino sighed. "I don't want to." Tenten looked slightly taken aback at this answer. It didn't really seem typical of Ino. "Well, OK." She glanced casually down at her gold and silver watch on her thin left wrist, and suddenly exclaimed, "Oh, gosh, I promised Lee that I would train with him today! Ja ne!"
And she sped down the staircase at full sprint.
"Huh, I have yet to meet Lee," Sakura mentioned curiously. "Tenten-chan s-says that he's a b-bit eccentric," Hinata chimed in. Ino raised a delicate platinum blonde eyebrow. "Eccentric? As in crazy-eccentric? A cross between asylum survivor and Jack Sparrow?" Hinata shrugged helplessly while trying to look like she had understood a word of what Ino was implying.
Sakura scowled, getting up and playfully slapping Ino in the shoulder.
"Ah, I'm sure the guy's fine. You're just overly paranoid and judgemental." "Since when?" "Since you became professional and aged two million years." This time, Ino shoved Sakura. Unexpectedly, Sakura flew halfway across the room and landed on the wooden floor, looking stunned. Ino stared at her own hands. "Oops," she said meekly.
And then she was upon Sakura, asking, "Daijoubu?" over and over again. Sakura kept insisting that she was alright, but Ino was in a guilty mood today. Hinata hovered nearby, looking quietly concerned.
"I guess that I don't know our strength these days," the blonde muttered appreciatively. "It's not your average girl that can throw her friend across a room just by flicking them." "You pushed me, not flicked me!" Sakura protested indignantly. Ino smirked. "Whatever."
Hinata and Ino pulled Sakura up, and she sighed, dusting herself off. "I guess I better go change," she decided. Ino raised an eyebrow. "Aw, now you're just trying to make me feel bad. Your clothes are fine!" Sakura raised an eyebrow right back and turned around, revealing a large gash from between her shoulderblades, cutting diagonally across her back and ending right above her right hip. Her skin was undamaged, but the clothes were probably permanently scarred.
Ino giggled sheepishly. "Er, gomen?"
Sakura mock glared. "'Gomen' doesn't even come close." And then she tackled Ino to the ground, going for the kill, (er, not literally), and tickling her relentlessly between the third and fourth rib, Ino's secret weak spot.
Between their maniacal laughter and short bursts of breath, Hinata managed to get past them and slipped silently down the steps, giggling slightly all the while.
"I call you here to announce that our End of Year Festival is facing a slight difficulty," Tsunade's voice rang out over the auditorium. The assembled children and teenagers instantly fell to murmuring.
"We are one performance short of the annual talent show, act number forty two was canceled because of inappropriate content," here she paused and glared significantly at a group of rowdy twelve-year-old boys sitting in the corner, who grinned widely back at her, "and will need to be replaced as soon as possible."
There was even more excited and hushed discussion.
"Also, the band that we booked for entertainment has back out because of a contract deal." She obviously sounded annoyed at this statement. "I think that we'll need somebody else to perform. You don't need to be great, as this is pretty short notice, but you will need at least one song."
Sakura, Ino, and Tenten exchanged knowing glances. Hinata looked down, red flushed over her cheeks. "Are you thinking what I'm thinking?" Tenten murmured. "Well, I can't really be sure unless I morph right now, but I think I've got a pretty good idea," Sakura replied, grinning widely. Ino grinned back at both of them. "Holla!" Tenten raised an eyebrow at her. "What? When you hang out with the lil' kiddies, you have to watch Disney Channel sometime," Ino retorted defiantly.
Hinata shook her head slightly, looking about ready to burn up with embarrassment. "Oh, come on, Hinata! We all know that you can sing!" Ino encouraged her. "Your voice sounds like an angel's!" Hinata blushed even more. "Ino-san…" "Ino-chan," Ino automatically corrected. "…I don't t-think I can…in f-front of all t-those people?"
"Anything is possible, Hyuuga Hinata!" Sakura firmly told her. Tenten smiled warmly. "Especially with somebody that has your voice. I croak like a toad." Hinata smiled weakly at that one, mostly because it was perfectly true.
"Oh, Shikamaru plays percussion, you know," Ino added. "He could help us out." Sakura raised an eyebrow. "I thought you guys weren't talking." Ino sniffed. "Well, we've made up then." "Shikamaru plays percussion? Funny, I never thought of him as a drummer sort of dude," Tenten commented, tuning out Tsunade's further announcements and settling back into her seat.
Ino giggled nervously. "Well, I did say percussion. He can be persuaded to play classical drums once in a while, but it's mostly triangle and maracas and rain stick, and all that." Tenten huffed, blowing up a strand of her brown bangs. "Wonderful. Rain stick boy."
Ino seemed slightly put out at the insult, but bit her lip and restrained from complaining. After all, the rain stick didn't sound all that promising.
A/N: Well, there's the first chapter! Please read and review, it is AWFULLY long.