A Change of Fate
Hello readers (new and old)! Hope you enjoy my take on the alternate beginning of Naruto. For those of you that are re-reading this story, I had gone back to make some much required content and grammar edits (I apologize if you enjoyed the original issue more). Fundamentally, the chapter was not altered drastically.
Disclaimer: I do not own anything related to Naruto.
"..." Inner Self
The wind was roaring outside, making the tree branches occasionally smack against the window panes of the classroom. The small pangs on the window did not bother anyone though- went unnoticed even. The students of the Konohagakure ninja academy were all sitting in their seats and chatting with their neighbours as they waited patiently for their homeroom teacher Iruka to make his appearance.
Suddenly, a big cloud of smoke and a summoning poof sound could be heard at the front of the classroom, signalling Iruka's arrival.
"Good morning class! It's nice to see everyone back from the weekend." he said happily to the class. The class murmured a reply back to their teacher before quieting down.
"As you are already aware, we're having a test today on the 100 Shinobi Rules." he told the class, and some audible groans and complaints were heard among the buzz of noise from the students. Iruka smiled slightly, having already expected the reactions he was going to get.
"However, I will give you ten minutes to review so use your time wisely!" Iruka announced to the class before sitting down behind his desk and looked over his own paperwork. Most of the students immediately began pulling out their notes, some had already started quizzing each other on the 100 Shinobi Rules. And then we have a select few in the class who made no effort to do any last minute reviewing.
Nara Shikamaru: Too lazy to even pull out his books.
Akimichi Chouji: Too busy eating.
Uzumaki Naruto: Doesn't even know where his books are.
Uchiha Sasuke: Confident in his knowledge. No need for further review.
Uchiha Sasuke was this year's "Number One" rookie at the ninja academy. He excelled at every subject in his class, whether it be civilian studies or ninja skills. His academic prowess (and not to mention his rather good looks) has earned him much attention and admiration from a large majority of the female population at the academy. The guys however, all think he's some kind of angsty child with a superiority complex.
Due to Uchiha Sasuke's high popularity, the limelight has never shined on any of the academy geniuses- like Haruno Sakura.
Now the question becomes, "How on Earth is she a genius?"
Haruno Sakura may be your ordinary ninja cadet with no particular talents or bloodline traits, she makes up for it in knowledge. Though she does not possess a photographic memory, Sakura had the exceptional ability to recall passages from texts that allow her to pass exams with flying colours. Besides book smarts and a great memory, her intuition is quite high. As an aspiring ninja, sometimes having good intuition could mean life or death in the field. Despite her abilities going unnoticed by all of her classmates, Sakura had high hopes she would one day become a dependable ninja.
"Hey forehead-girl! Why are you even bothering? There's no point, seeing as you failed half the things in this class!" a girl jeered at Sakura from across the room. Sakura flinched at the remark but did not look up from her books nor made an attempt to respond.
She was used to this type of bullying, as it happened almost every day. It no longer bothered her, as she knew they were baseless insults. No one knew of Sakura's academic standing (aside from Iruka of course), as she had never shared her grades with anyone in the class. When she was asked, she never replied due to fear that her grades would attract unwanted attention. Having had a rather unhappy childhood, Sakura grew up without any friends and a low self-esteem and confidence. The source of the bullying had been and still is her-
Pink hair and large forehead.
"Oh my, is Billboard Brow actually studying?" Sakura heard another girl sneer in mock disbelief. She sighed quietly for the umpteenth time but continued to ignore the remarks. She would never understand how her classmates ever came to the conclusion that she was failing. Admittedly, she does not perform as well during the practical/physical education classes, but she wasn't downright awful. She sometimes wondered why girls had to be so nasty to each other in order to make themselves feel better.
"Alright class! Time's up. Please put all your books away and take out a writing utensil." Iruka told the class as he got the test papers out. Almost half of the kids in the room had a nervous look on their face as they simultaneously did as told.
"I'm gonna ace this test!" a loud voice exclaimed. Sakura turned her head towards the voice, which turned out to be the class troublemaker.
Sakura had always kind of admired Naruto for being so spirited and enthusiastic, even when he is clearly struggling with something or was being punished for pulling a prank or being disrespectful. He tries so hard to catch everyone's attention, even though he may be a bit of an idiot while doing so. There have been times where she wished she was as brave as this boy. In many ways, Sakura felt like she could relate with him on the social outcast level, though she could never bring about the courage to actually associate with him.
"I'm glad you're so enthusiastic about this test Naruto. I hope you do your best!" Iruka responded with a kind smile on his face before giving Naruto the test paper. Naruto took one glance at the paper before his face quickly paled and sweat began to bead on his forehead.
'Crap! I don't know this!' Naruto thought in panic after he had glanced over all the questions. He inhaled deeply before shakily writing some of his best guesses down.
Someone poked Sakura in the back of the head, making her turn around to see who it was. It turned out to be Ino.
"Hey you, try not to flunk this test okay?" she said in a mocking tone before sitting back in her seat. Sakura turned back around with an inaudible 'hmph' and silently fumed as her pencil flew across her test sheet, the answers flowing out easily. One day, she was going to show the world just how much of a flunk she's not.
'That's the spirit girl!' a fiery voice inside her head spoke suddenly.
The voice startled Sakura, causing her head to pop up from her test. She then discreetly glanced around the classroom to make sure someone wasn't actually speaking to her.
'W-what the? Who are you?' she thought back to the voice, suddenly feeling very unsettled.
'I'm... your conscience.' the voice replied in a somewhat suspicious tone. After another brief moment of being stunned by the voice in her head, Sakura decided to block out the voice, seeing as consciences normally did not talk back to you. The fact that a clear and distinct voice was talking back to her in her head was very unsettling to her.
'I must be going insane.' she thought to herself resignedly. As she finished her test, she quickly flipped it over and moved to rest her elbow on the desk and propped her chin up, waiting patiently for the other students to finish. Although the movement was rather small and insignificant, it did not go unnoticed by Iruka. He knew Sakura was one of the brightest students in his class and mentally applauded her for having finished the test in just ten minutes. He had expected nothing less.
35 minutes later...
"Alright class, time's up! Please put down your pencils. Today we're going to try something new. You're going to pass your papers to the person sitting in front of you, and the person at the front will bring it to the back of their row." Iruka instructed as he took out his answer book.
There was some grumbling from the students about the sudden change in routine, but did as they were instructed.
Sakura moved to pass her paper up front- only to have her heart drop when she realized who she was passing her paper to. Uchiha Sasuke. The whole time she waited for the class to finish the test, she had not stopped to see who was sitting around her.
But despite what most people may think, her heart did not drop because The Uchiha Sasuke was going to correct her paper, but because of the consequences that would come with it. No doubt, there were going to be lots of jealous fangirls in the class breathing down her neck.
Sakura wanted to bang her head on her desk at her misfortune and lack of situational awareness. Why was she so unlucky? She mentally sighed. She must have done something terrible to deserve this stroke of luck.
"Are you handing me your test or what?" Sasuke asked impatiently, which snapped Sakura back into reality. His hand had been outstretched to receive her paper, which did not come because she had been too distracted by her thoughts. She quickly handed her paper to him, careful to not make any eye contact before turning around just in time to see Ino glare at her.
"Forehead, I'm warning you. Don't think of this as an opportunity to get closer to my Sasuke-kun!" Ino hissed at her while wearing a fake smile and shoved her paper in Sakura's face.
'It was only my test, not a love letter.' Sakura thought, feeling slightly exasperated.
'Why don't you stick up for yourself?' her conscience asked, sounding annoyed.
'There's no point. They won't take me seriously and I'll just get laughed at. Then, I get punished for even trying to stick up for myself.' Sakura thought back dully as Iruka started reading out the answers.
'Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.' Sakura thought as she marked Ino's answers. It was apparent that Ino had not properly prepared for the test, as there were many blanks and incorrect answers. In the only form of revenge she could give at this current time, she wrote pretty red 'Xs' for every wrong answer Ino got.
Meanwhile, Sasuke just stared at the paper he was marking. The supposed "loser" (after Naruto) in the class had just written a perfect test.
When he handed it back, he decided to actually look at Sakura. She was said to be the class's second failure, though he never bothered nor cared to find out why. In general, he paid very little attention to females mainly due to the fact they were annoying and did not stop talking when around him. He especially avoided the girls that proclaimed themselves to be a part of the "Sasuke Fan Club". Since a majority of the girls in the class are a part of the fan club, he automatically assumed she might have been a fangirl as well. In his brief observation of Sakura, he noted a few things in his mind.
She has pink hair. He briefly wondered if it was a birth defect.
She has green eyes. Nothing wrong with those.
And her forehead?
Sasuke stared at it a second longer. He wasn't sure what drug the others were on, but he was fairly certain it was average size.
Once everyone had gotten their papers back, they were to announce to Iruka what they got out loud as he called their names. Sakura visibly gulped as she had never been a fan of speaking up in class.
'I really don't want to announce my score out loud.' she thought to herself, dreading her turn. What would the others say? Iruka gave Sakura an encouraging smile as he looked at all of his students, though Sakura barely managed to return a weak smile.
'Girl, your lack of backbone is seriously getting onto my nerves.' her conscience grumbled in an irritated tone.
'Great. I'm getting on myself's nerves.' Sakura thought to herself sarcastically. She now wondered if she was potentially schizophrenic, have a split-personality disorder, or just plain crazy.
'That's what you think.' the voice retorted back, throwing Sakura off.
'Of course that's what I think. Why am I even having this argument with myself?' Sakura thought, feeling slightly frustrated with the voice for making her question her sanity. She could feel the beginnings of a headache coming on as she thought more about the voice in her head. For all she knew, she could even be possessed.
"Haruno Sakura!" Iruka called again. Sakura quickly snapped out of her little reverie and looked at Iruka with an apologetic expression on her face.
"I got perfect." Sakura mumbled, her voice was so soft that Iruka could barely make out her words.
"Sorry, could you repeat that please?" Iruka said and shushed some chatting kids at the front of the room.
Sakura felt a blush creeping up to her cheeks from her neck. It had already been painful enough to announce her score the first time But a second time? That was almost pushing it for this super shy and meek girl. "100." she repeated, a bit louder and clearer this time. This time, everyone heard her and whispers started up around the room.
"Forehead got perfect?" a girl on the other side of the room said with a surprised look on her face as she gawked at Sakura. Others also followed her lead and turned to look at Sakura, causing her to slide lower in her seat to try and hide herself from the gawking class.
"It's troublesome isn't it?" a boy asked her from her right. His sudden question made Sakura quickly snap her head in his direction, almost giving herself whiplash with the speed she turned her head at.
"Are you talking to me?" she replied quietly, pointing a finger to herself while unsure emerald eyes stared at Nara Shikamaru.
"Who else? The window?" he shot back sarcastically before turning and leaned back in his chair with his hands behind his head. Sakura had a look of shock on her face. In her 12 years of existence, people rarely tried to befriend her. Very few ever attempted to even have a decent conversation with her, making her social skills rather sub-par for someone her age. Having someone speak to her directly (and not insulting her) was relatively new and refreshing to her.
"N-no, it's just that... no one's ever... said anything to me that wasn't an i-insult." Sakura stuttered back quietly, not even daring to look at Shikamaru. Though Shikamaru could see why she would be so shell-shocked, he still couldn't help but quirk a brow at the girl's timidness. She was almost as bad as the Hyuuga heiress.
"Remember class, your final exam will be a week from now so I hope you will study well for it. Remember to practice all of the Jutsus we have learned so far. Any one of them might come up on the practical part of the exam." Iruka reminded them before the bell rang, signaling the end of class.
Before the 'We-Love-Sasuke' fan club could get to her and grill her for interacting with Sasuke in class today, she gathered her belongings at a quick speed and bee-lined for the door before anyone could give her a second look. However, the thought of going home did not bring her any relief either.
Luckily for her, Sasuke just happened to be nearby when a couple of his fangirls spotted her on her route home. Naturally, they changed targets and went after him like bees to flowers. However that did not mean she was going to thank him for it as he was the reason the fangirls were chasing her all over Konoha in the first place.
As she reached the door to her family apartment, Sakura announced quietly announced "I'm home" before closing the door and started walking towards the kitchen.
"What took you so long?" a stern voice asked her sharply as soon as she entered the room.
"T-There were some g-girls c-chasing after me... so I took a l-longer route home." Sakura explained, her stuttering increasing tenfold as she tried her best to keep her nervousness and fear under control. The woman in the kitchen snorted in disbelief.
"That's why you're going to the ninja academy isn't it? So you could take them on!" she said in a scathing tone. Not a moment later, a crisp smack resounded around the walls of the room as her hand made contact with Sakura's cheek. Sakura held a hand gingerly to the bruised cheek, tears slowly welling in her eyes. Sakura kept her gaze downcast when she responded.
"I-I'll learn to be better... Okaa-san." Sakura said apologetically, barely above a whisper before she quickly walked towards her room. Her only sanctuary. Once there, Sakura finally allowed herself to shed the tears that had been waiting to be freed for the entire day.
Sakura lives with her mother Haruno Leiko, though Leiko is not her biological mother. After Sakura's mother had passed away due to a miscarriage early on in her childhood, her father felt Sakura needed another mother-like presence in her life. Hence he married Leiko with the belief that she would be the perfect mother figure for his daughter. There was no doubt that Leiko was a gorgeous and skilled kunoichi of Konoha and Sakura could see why her father was attracted to her. However, similar to Cinderella (minus the evil step daughters), Leiko was only nice to Sakura whenever her father was around. Whenever he went away on missions, her "caring mother" act went with him. She was a cold and calculating person underneath the persona she puts on for her father. Sakura could not understand how her father had not seen through her facade. She may have the face of a loving and caring person, but her personality speaks a whole other story.
When her father was killed in action on a mission some years back, Leiko became the only family she had left. Leiko had never laid a hand on her before when her father was around, but... things changed rapidly as soon as Leiko was notified of her husband's death. Not only did she become a widow at a fairly young age, but she also inherited the sole responsibility of raising Sakura - a child whom she did not have a shred of attachment to nor love for. If it had not been written in her father's will that Leiko must use his remaining funds for raising Sakura, it was almost guaranteed she would have given Sakura up for adoption. In that respect, Sakura felt some gratitude towards her father's forethought on this matter. He must have known somewhere deep down that Leiko may not stick around should he die.
Still, with her father gone, Leiko called the shots in the house. If Sakura disobeyed her orders or was deemed to have misbehaved in any way, she would be punished. These punishments ranged anywhere from quick slaps to the face to having her meals withheld from her for days. Leiko controlled almost every aspect of Sakura's home and social life - another factor that greatly contributed to stunting Sakura's social skills.
'Look at you. You're pathetic.' her inner self sneered as Sakura examined herself with her bedroom mirror. Sakura hiccupped but did not respond to the insult. Having remained quiet since this morning, her "conscience" suddenly decides to talk- or rather insult her as she checked to make sure there was no swelling or major bruising on her cheek. Sakura really wondered if she had finally lost her marbles due to all the loneliness and oppression.
'I'm not an imagined voice inside your head if that's what you're thinking.' the voice drawled, though it did nothing to soothe Sakura's anxiety over her sanity.
'Oh my goodness, my crazy half is trying to convince me they're not imagined. This is it. My brain's officially broken.' Sakura thought despairingly to herself, completely disregarding what the voice had just told her. If the voice had a face, Sakura could almost see it rollings its eyes.
'Idiot. Did you not listen to what I just told you? Or do you think your brain's too broken to pay attention? I'm telling you, I'm not actually your conscience.' the voice said to her bluntly. Sakura felt her head spin with confusion at the words.
'W-What...? Then what are you?'
'That, I will reveal to you later. But for now, I'm prescribing you some sleep.' the voice told her with a note of finality in its tone. Before Sakura could get in another word, she felt her body move towards her bed before she collapsed onto it and she went out like a light bulb.
To be continued. . .
End note (1/17/18): It's definitely fascinating to see how my writing style and vocabulary has changed since I first wrote this (almost 8 years ago I think?). Hopefully this edit is written better than the last one (but I'm def no English teacher). I definitely cringed at parts of this chapter as I re-read this. I hope you all have enjoyed reading this chapter! More edits/updates to come as I slowly get back into my fanfiction funk.