Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto.
"Sakura-chan! Would you go out with me?" Naruto chimed casually and almost absentmindedly.
It had become a force of habit. Naruto had been trying for so long to gain the girl's affection, dating back since the early days of the academy. Of course, the pink haired girl would rebuff him every time, and he had come to expect it. He had gotten so used to it that he would just shrug it off and try again later.
But it would be different this time. For Sakura, the day had been the worst she had in a long time. She had overslept, and did not have the time to blow dry her hair so she could look good for Sasuke. Then, she didn't even have enough time for breakfast when she realised that if she didn't get out of the house quickly, she would be late. While she had managed to snag a piece of toast, she had dropped it in her rush to get to the bridge where they have their meeting. If that wasn't bad, she realised that it was all in vain just to get to the bridge on time, as Kakashi was late once again. And to make matters worse, Kakashi was four hours late, an hour later than usual. To say she was irritated was a severe understatement.
Naruto asking her out was the worst thing he could do at the moment, and in spite having tried to keep her anger in check, she snapped.
"STOP ANNOYING ME YOU IDIOT! I'VE TOLD YOU A THOUSAND TIMES ALREADY. I WILL NOT GO OUT WITH YOU! YOU ARE STUPID AND USELESS! NOT TO MENTION I WOULD NEVER GO OUT WITH SOMEONE AS UGLY AS YOU EVEN IN A MILLION YEARS! NO GIRL IN THEIR RIGHT MIND WOULD!"
Sakura huffed exasperatedly and stopped her rant before turning around to chase after their other teammate. While she did feel somewhat better after venting her frustration, she wondered whether she had been a bit too harsh. She shrugged off the concern for her blonde teammate and focused on catching up to Sasuke. After all, she rejected Naruto all the time and he always bounced back. Why would this time be different, right?
Naruto however, felt like he had his heart ripped from his chest, then stepped on repeatedly, before being flushed down the toilet. Of all the times Sakura had rejected him, she had never been as harsh as she was now. Sure she had sometimes been rather blunt when she rejected him in the past, but she had never went as far to say that no girl in her right mind would go out with him.
It was worse since he believed it would be true considering he was the container of the Kyubi and all.
Tears threatened to fall, but he would not allow it. He had not cried for years from the hate of the villagers. And he would not cry now. He was stronger than that. But it hurt nonetheless.
Naruto eventually bowed his head down low and sighed depressively. He tried to shake the depressing thoughts from his mind, but to no avail. Sakura's words continued to reverberate throughout his mind.
Eventually, he decided that standing around won't change anything and decided to go home for some cup ramen to help him get over his misery. Ramen always made him feel better.
Though normally he would go to Ichiraku's, but at the moment, he just wanted to be alone, so he could think.
Yamanaka Ino, was a girl admired by many of her peers.
She was beautiful and elegant earning the envy of many kunoichi her age. Her skills as a kunoichi were also not to be dismissed, as she was easily one of the best kunoichi of her generation. While she was not quite as book smart as her rival Haruno Sakura, her skills exceeded the pink haired girl in all other areas.
However, she had one fatal flaw. And that was like most girls her age, she was also known as a fan girl of Uchiha Sasuke.
But despite this she was kind and sympathetic when she wanted to be, at least she liked to think so.
It was something she had picked up from selling flowers in her family shop.
As they lived in a ninja village, a large portion of customers had been ninjas, and more often than not, flowers were bought as an offering to the dead or a gift to the hospitalised than for love interests. And as such, Ino had developed a sympathetic ear for those customers. Because of this, she had never liked to see others in misery especially those she knew.
And when she found Naruto wallowing in misery as he walked down the street, shoulders slumped and head bowed, she couldn't help but to want to help.
She was also immensely curious as to the reason the ever-cheerful boy looking so sad. Not even when Naruto had failed the genin graduation test did he look so pitiful. And thinking of which, she never did find out how the prankster had ended up passing the exam since she had watched him walk out of the academy that day with his head down and without a hitai-ate.
So it was with a mixture of curiousness and pity that she approached the blonde haired boy.
"Hey Naruto, what's wrong?"
"Nothing, just leave me alone" he mumbled softly and continued to walk.
Ino frowned slightly at being brushed of so rudely, but followed after him.
"Come on, tell me what got you looking so gloomy" the blonde girl urged.
Naruto sighed knowing that the stubborn girl won't give up until he relented and stopped walking. There was an uncomfortable silence between them, until Naruto finally spoke.
"Am I really that bad?" Naruto looked slowly up into her teal eyes, before looking back down at the ground.
"Huh?" Ino lifted her eyebrows perplexed at his question.
"Am I really that bad, that no girl would ever go out with me in a million years?" he repeated softly.
"Eh? Did forehead say that?"
Naruto just nodded without looking up.
"Well, you are pretty annoying at times…" Ino blurted out without thought and winced slightly as Naruto seemed to slouch down even more. Making the boy more depressed was not why she had came up to him.
Ino patted him in the back and decided that she should be completely honest, yet be gentle with the truth.
"Look, Naruto, you are really loud at times. And that gets annoying a lot of times. And while the pranks are funny for a while, after a while it just got annoying. And you don't take your ninja training seriously. That's hardly attractive. And you're nowhere near as handsome as Sasuke-kun. And that jumpsuit you wear is really a BIG turn off".
Naruto winced every time she mentioned one of his flaws, though he could help but to think it had been the truth.
"So you're saying that if I'm quiet, a better ninja and didn't wear orange, then you'll go out with me?" Naruto asked hypothetically after a moment of contemplation, looking into her eyes.
Ino grimaced at the thought of dating Naruto. Sure Naruto wasn't a bad guy, but to her, he was simply not the boyfriend material she looked for. Unsure how to respond in a way that would not hurt the boy's feelings, Ino simply looked away and stayed silent.
Despite her silence, Naruto knew what it meant, and took it as a "no" to his question. He sighed and bowed his head once more, still somewhat depressed and began to walk away.
"Thanks anyways Ino".
Ino stood there dumbfounded, staring at his back. What has he got to thank her for? If anything, she probably made him feel even worse than before.
On top of the Hokage monument sat a young boy in deep thought. Naruto always liked this particular spot when he needed to think and reflect on his life.
While his normal train of thoughts when he was here to think would be on why the villagers hated him. But this time his thoughts were on a certain girl and her words to him.
'I should just give up on Sakura-chan… or any girl for that matter.'
The ramen he had consumed earlier did in fact make him feel much better. And now that he had clear his head enough, he began to think.
He realised that he had to make a choice. There was no doubt that it was for the best to stop pursuing Sakura as a love interest. He had replayed all the memorable moments he had of his pink haired teammate in his mind. And came to a starling realisation that he had never felt any signs of affection from the girl. She barely even recognised his existence let alone his worth. Even the girl's rival acknowledged him somewhat, considering she had tried to cheer him up earlier despite failing at it.
He supposed it was one of the reasons why he had been so adamant in gaining the girls attention. Acknowledgement was something he could not live without. It was what his existence and his life dream revolved around. And gaining the acknowledgement from someone that did not acknowledge him was what he strove for.
However, she had not been the only one that did not acknowledge him. Almost the entire village had been guilty of that. And that led him to contemplate the true reason why he had been attracted to the girl in the first place.
After several moments of reflecting, he believed that it began simply as an act to prove himself against Uchiha Sasuke. The last Uchiha of Konoha was the antithesis to Naruto's life. While he had been known as the dead last and dobe, Uchiha Sasuke was known as a genius and incredibly talented shinobi. And the fact that Sasuke had the acknowledgement of many in the village all because of his Uchiha lineage grated on his nerves when he had to fight for every ounce of recognition.
It was natural for him to challenge the one who was the complete opposite to his existence. To prove who was better, to prove that he could change the minds of the villagers. And challenge the boy he did, though so far without success.
But somewhere along the line, he had somehow come to the notion that winning over the Uchiha's number one follower would be the ultimate way for him to prove himself the better.
Despite his initial petty reasons for his pursuit of Sakura's affection, he eventually came to genuinely like the girl. She was intelligent, and it was something he had admired, not to mention she was one of the prettiest girls he knew, despite her large forehead that had been the brunt of many jokes from those of their age group.
He had always known that Sakura would never be interested in him in a romantic sense, especially not when she was so engrossed in gaining Sasuke's attention for herself. But he would always delude himself to think that he had a chance. The stubborn part of him simply would not accept defeat. Especially not against Sasuke.
But it was time he ended his endeavour to win his crush's heart. Sakura had made that perfectly clear that it would be a waste of time.
Though here lies the dilemma. Should he search for and pursue other girls or give up entirely?
Naruto shook his head slightly at the thought. When he came to think about it, he had never really even thought about the kind of girls he liked.
Firstly, he wanted someone mature. Someone that would acknowledge and appreciate him. They would also have to support him in his dream to become Hokage.
But most importantly, they must accept him despite having Kyubi sealed within him.
'But the only ones that fit the bill are women much older than me' Naruto mused.
Not that he minded being with older women. In fact, he could argue that he preferred the company of older women, as long as they accepted him and not hate him.
Naruto supposed that it was because older women are not as shallow as girls his age. Most girls his age were attracted to Sasuke simply because of his looks despite his cold attitude. It was also the reason he did not get along with most girls in his age group.
But Naruto grimaced slightly at the irony, considering he had been crushing on one of the worst offenders for a long time.
Then again, older women are unlikely to even look his way. After all, on top of having Kyubi sealed in him, he was known as an idiot and that's after assuming that an older woman did not mind the age gap. And to top it off, he wasn't good looking, at least according to Sakura and even Ino.
This led him to a decision. He was unlikely to find a girlfriend anytime soon. On the other hand, he was still young. If he did not pursue a love life, then he would concentrate on his neglected training so he could one day become Hokage.
At the moment, it would seem that focusing on training was for the best, and likely give him the most chance for success.
His mind then wondered to his talk with Ino. While it did not help him feel any better at the time, he did appreciate the honesty.
He knew the Yamanaka girl was right. He was loud, and his pranks while funny did not help him become a good ninja.
It had always been a matter of gaining attention. As he did not receive any acknowledgement, he sought it out through different methods by being loud and playing pranks. He even went as far as to wear flashy clothes like the orange jumpsuit he currently wore. Not that he didn't like orange, in fact, he love the colour orange and his jumpsuit.
Still, his approach had been only effective to a certain degree. While he did get some attention, it had all been in the negative sense, and because he played pranks by skipping class, his grades in the academy slipped.
But despite this downside, Naruto received more attention in his entire life, and even with the threat of failing the academy, he could not bring himself to stop.
And despite the lectures on seeing underneath the underneath, few could see underneath this cheerful and idiotic mask he had build up over time by playing pranks. It also served to conceal the sadness that was all too apparent in his eyes to those who knew where to look. If there was anything he truly hated, it was to be pitied. He would rather be hated than be pitied. Not that he would ever be caught brooding like the Uchiha. He'd never live it down otherwise.
Naruto decided that if he were to take being a ninja seriously, now that he had given up on Sakura, things had to change.
Simply, it was time to stop playing the fool.
It would be hard to change as he had acted this way for so long that the facade had practically become part of himself. But now that he had made the decision, he would stick by it.
Naruto also knew right now, he was not a good ninja. His poor performance against his sensei during the bell test had been proof of that. And concentrating on training would help him achieve his life goal to become the Hokage in the long run.
Naruto snorted slightly. What would he know? He was never good at long term planning and strategy anyways. Though he was known to have random bouts of ingenuity.
And what had Ino said about his clothes? Naruto grimaced slightly. He really liked his clothes dammit!
They were his favourite colour. It was his favourite suit after all. Sure, the colour was bright and attracted attention like beating someone in the head with a sign that said 'LOOK AT ME!', but he didn't see the problem with it. Sure it wasn't a colour ninjas wear, but he didn't see anyone complaining about Sakura's bright red clothes. So stealth wasn't really the problem…
Naruto sighed again and looked upwards at the sky and rubbed his face with his hands.
'Perhaps it was time for a change… Troublesome…'
Naruto snorted. He was starting to sound like that bum Shikamaru.
Naruto quickly decided that the moment he returned home, the first order of business was to find something different to wear. After all, if he were to change himself, simply by looking different would help in making him feel and act differently.
He unlocked his door and closed it behind him absently, before walking straight to his room with purpose in his steps.
He slid open his closet and looked at the clothes he had in his wardrobe.
Orange, orange, more orange….
Naruto scratched his head. Aside from a few t-shirts and shorts and several sets of pyjamas, he didn't have anything that wasn't orange. While he decided that there was no problem with orange, all he had for ninja wear were identical sets of the same orange jumpsuit, which he currently wore. And he had already decided that he would wear something different.
But Naruto noted that aside from the jumpsuit, he didn't have anything for a ninja. The several t-shirts and shorts he had simply weren't practical. The fabric and stitching simply wasn't made with durability in mind.
Naruto decided to take out the sets of orange jumpsuit from his closet so he could throw them out later.
But to his surprise he found a large white coat hidden behind several sets of jumpsuits.
It was a long sleeved white coat that went to his knees like a cloak, with orange lining on the inside and a large orange spiral on the back.
Naruto pulled the coat from his closet and rubbed the fabric between his fingers. The blonde smiled fondly at the coat that had been a gift from the Sandaime for his last birthday. His smiled deepened as he recalled that Sandaime had gotten the cape for him after he had made an offhanded remark that he had wished he had a cool looking cape like the Yondaime after seeing a picture of him.
It had been too large for him at the time to wear and even after he had grown tall enough, he had decided that it did not go well with his favourite jumpsuit. He had never worn the cloak and over time forgotten that he had it.
But now, if he was to change, he might as well wear it, otherwise it would eventually go to waste.
Naruto realised that he still had to purchase some new clothes to wear underneath the cape and he groaned slightly. He always hated shopping unless it involved spending his money on ramen. It wasn't because shopkeepers gave him trouble because of Kyubi or something like that. They just ignored him if anything. But it was the fact that he found clothes shopping so damn boring.
If it was anything that Naruto was not, it was not boring.
Deciding to get the shopping done quickly, Naruto left the house in the direction of a store that sold ninja equipment.
He quickly picked out several sets of clothing, paid for it, and returned home.
Once back inside his apartment, he quickly entered his room and deposited the bags of clothing onto his bed.
He then quickly changed into his new clothes, eager to test out his new look like a child with his new toy.
The sleeves of the dark blue, almost violet long sleeve top was a bit loose due to his thin arms. He had never been one to train to increase the size of his muscles, opting for a leaner and more toned body instead. His body and skeletal structure was of a wiry type anyways.
He procured several pieces of string from a drawer beside his bed and tied the sleeve to his arm at the wrist and under the elbow so they clung to his arm and not get in the way during a fight.
The black shinobi pants were slightly loose, but not too baggy. Just the way he liked them, although they were a bit too loose around the waist without a belt.
Naruto untied the knot on the back of his head, removing his hitai-ate from his forehead. He absently brushed aside his bangs that fell over his eyes. He placed the hitai-ate at his waist and used the blue fabric as a belt.
He looked into the wardrobe mirror to check his look. His outfit looked too simple, like the average shinobi. And while Naruto decided that he would no longer actively attract attention, it did not mean he wanted to look and be like the average ninja. He would never settle for being average.
He removed the Hitai-ate, then replaced the blue fabric with orange fabric he torn from his old suits. After spending ten or so minutes trimming and replacing the fabric, he fed the fabric through the loops on his pants and tied the ends securely behind him as a belt.
The demon container then donned his white cape and looked into the wardrobe mirror.
He grinned. He had to admit that he looked quite good in the new outfit.
He was barely recognisable and looked like a new person.
Precisely what he was aiming for. And the more he looked at himself, the more be began to like his new look.
Being satisfied with his new look, Naruto changed his thought to the next part of his change. His training schedule.
He had no idea to go about his training and decided that some research was in order. Naruto groaned slightly at that thought, as he hated to read and study. But he surmised that if he were to become a good ninja sacrifices had to be made. And the only way to make up for the knowledge he did not learn in the academy was to study extra hard.
But on the bright side, he now had access to the ninja archives now that he was officially a genin. The scrolls and books in the archive are much more useful than those from the Konoha public library. All he had to do was to get permission from the Hokage himself.
The walk to the Hokage tower had been weird for Naruto. Most of the older generation villagers and ninja gave him a look that he could not completely decipher. Though they did seem to be a little shocked and surprised.
It made Naruto a little unnerved as he had expected the usual fearful and scathing glances.
Even the younger generation looked at him differently, particularly the female population that gave him looks that were familiar but he had no clue where he had seen it before.
Naruto quickened his pace slightly nervous at the way people looked at him.
'Maybe changing my clothes wasn't a good idea. What was with those looks anyways? Bah, why do I care'.
Gaining permission to access the archives was simple, though the Hokage had been smirking somewhat evilly at him, which further unnerved him.
He quickly left the Hokage's office to the room, which contained the genin level archive.
Meanwhile Sarutobi sat in his seat while smoking his pipe. A smirk etched itself onto his face.
'So he's wearing that cape I gave him. He looks just like you… Yondaime'
The coat had been his plan to get the villagers to change their mind about Naruto. He had been a bit disappointed when Naruto did not wear the coat when he had first given it to the boy. It gave the villagers just enough clues to link to become suspicious of Naruto's relationship to the Yondaime, although not quite enough to prove or disprove anything.
He wasn't going to publicly announce the truth. At least not yet. But it would be enough to create doubt within the minds of the villagers that had treated Naruto poorly. And they would more likely to hesitate in treating the boy poorly.
Naruto gasped slightly in awe at the sight in front of him as he entered the archives.
In front of him were thousands upon thousands of scrolls organised into rows and rows of shelves.
Naruto went to a table at the studying area and pulled a chair from under the table with a lousy squeaking noise and slowly sat down onto the wooden chair.
He rubbed his chin one hand and began to think.
'With the way my training is going now, I won't be able to improve much. What I need to do is find a direction and perhaps some training methods. And while I'm at it, I might be able to find some genin level ninjutsu techniques. And it would be good to find anything that would build on my existing jutsu knowledge. But I won't be able to do much…. It'll take days just to find and read all the scrolls I need. That leaves no time left for actual training. Not to mention the stuff I need to make up for that I didn't learn in the academy. I'll have to cut down the time I need to gather information. But how?'
If only he had extra people to help finding what he need.
Naruto froze in thought. 'Extra people?'
He pondered for a few seconds on the plausibility of his idea before smirking.
'Kage bunshin no jutsu'
Naruto quickly formed the seal and produced 20 clones.
The original Naruto called out an order, "Alright guys, each of you bring back a scroll that you find useful and bring it back within ten minutes".
"Hai!" A resounding affirmative came from all the clones as they all moved in different directions.
The real Naruto then walked towards the isle labelled 'Charkra Basics'.
A few minutes later, the clones each brought back a scroll. A pile of scrolls now lay on top of the table. Naruto then dispersed the clones. A rush of information flowed through his mind letting him know the position of several scrolls within the multitude of scrolls in the archive the clones had spotted that could potentially be useful as future reading.
Naruto blinked slightly and analysed his surprise when he realised he had gotten some of the memories the clones had gained. While the Kage bunshin had been a skill he had only recently learned, he had not realised the technique's ability to accumulate information.
He thought back to the times he had used the jutsu. Aside from the time he used the Harem no jutsu on the closet pervert sensei of Konohamaru, he had only used it in combat situations. First with Mizuki, and the other time with Kakashi sensei during the bell test. Both times he remembered that he had noticed something unusual when he dispersed the clones. He had brushed it aside at the time as he was in a situation which he could not waste time analysing what it was that he felt, as he was more concern with both Iruka's injury and passing Kakashi's test.
But then, the memories he had gotten that time had not been especially obvious that it had been from a clone.
But that may be due to the fact that he fought mostly using his instincts, more so than studying and analysing his opponent. The clones simply didn't use their brain as much, and the clarity and usefulness of the information was not quite as apparent.
He also suspected that at the time he might have confused the extra memories with his own. This maybe because both the clones and himself had been entirely focused on a mutual goal. And clones that perform an entirely independent action to the original should make the memories much more apparent that it had originated from a clone.
Deciding to consult the texts to confirm his suspicion, Naruto picked out the scroll on the table that labelled 'Kage bunshin no jutsu and related jutsu'.
The blonde demon container unrolled the scroll and quickly browsed through the contents.
He had been right. The Kage bunshin did have the side effect of the user learning everything the clone had.
As he continued to read, the wider his eyes became. He was in awe at the usefulness of the jutsu. Since the scroll he held in his hands was from the genin level restricted section of the archive, it did not contain the hand signs and actual training methods for the jutsu. But there was still a fairly in depth summary of what the technique can do and the ways it could be used. There was also some information on related jutsus.
Naruto pondered whether to take advantage of the information gathering capabilities of the jutsu. It felt a little like he was cheating by studying with clones. But the blonde haired boy quickly dismissed the thought. After all, they were ninja, not samurai and swordsmen. Ninja used any means necessary to become stronger.
The word honour shouldn't even exist in a ninja's vocabulary.
Deciding to take advantage of the information gathering capabilities of the jutsu, Naruto summoned twenty clones once again.
Naruto quickly formed the seal and once again summoned 20 clones, which he ordered to pick a scroll from the table and start reading.
By the time Naruto had finished reading the scroll on Kage bunshin, it was already 6 in the evening.
He rolled up the scroll in his hand and placed it on the table in front of him. Naruto looked around him and found that eight of his clones had finished reading their scroll.
Being impatient as ever, Naruto immediately dispersed the clones that had finished reading and a rush of information once again flowed into his mind along with a mild headache.
Naruto shook his head as if trying to shake the pain away, only for him to make the pain more severe. So he simply sat still in his seat and wait till he felt better. He made a note to disperse the clones one at a time, when the rest of the clones finished reading.
By the time the pain was gone, the rest of the clones were done reading their scroll. This time, Naruto dispersed the twelve remaining clones one by one, 30 seconds apart and he was relieved that he did not develop a headache again.
Naruto spent the next several minutes replacing the scrolls he had read to where he had gotten them. Then he returned to where he sat before and reviewed everything he had learnt from the texts.
From the scroll he had found on Kage bunshin he had learned that the technique evenly distributes a user's charkra between clones. The clones disperse after a single hit. Naruto concluded that the clones would be most effective when they don't get hit. This would mean that his clones either should attack from a range using weapons and ninjutsu or engage in taijutsu without getting hit.
Naruto made a mental note to train in speed and dodging exercises.
He also thought that using ninjutsu with clones to take advantage of the divided charkra supply in each clone would be a good idea.
After some thinking he also realised that if overwhelming numbers are to be used to wear an opponent out, then summoning a large number in one go would be more efficient than summoning the same number of clones in successive smaller groups at a time, as each clone would have a larger average charkra supply in the larger group.
The accompanying jutsu for the Kage bunshin were also very interesting to Naruto.
He could easily see the usefulness and versatility of the Shuriken kage bunshin. While he did not know how to perform the technique, he believed that he could recreate it using a mixture of kage bunshin, henge and some trial and error.
And the description of bunshin daibakuha simply made Naruto drool. Exploding clones? It would be devastating if he could learn it. Unfortunately, the scroll did not contain any more detail on the jutsu apart from it being clones that explode and nothing on the inner workings of the jutsu.
Naruto was not discouraged however, and decided that he would spend sometime doing trial and error tests to learn how to make his clones explode. Perhaps he had to make the charkra in his clones unstable somehow.
He had also read the basics of charkra and the composition of body energy and spiritual energy. He decided that further research should be done on this topic as he believed that different jutsu required different compositions of each energy type. Taijutsu obviously related more to body energy, and genjutsu a larger composition of spiritual energy, and ninjutsu likely a more even balanced composition of both. If he were correct, then isolating and utilising the pure form would be more efficient in some cases. And it would be likely that he would become impervious to most genjutsu if he could utilise spirit energy in it's purest form. But it was still merely a theory, and he had yet to prove or disprove his hypothesis.
The scrolls taijutsu training methods he found revealed that weighted clothing was an effective way to improve strength and speed in relatively short amounts of time, though it places the most strain on the body. It was a method rarely used since the likelihood of injury is exceptionally high, making the training unproductive for most people.
Naruto gathered that getting himself some weights while doing lots and lots of running as well as physical conditioning exercises was a good direction for training if he wanted to get strong quick.
He had also picked out some low level jutsu that he could learn. He memorised the hand seals and training method for the Katon: Housenka no jutsu, Katon: Goukakyu no jutsu and Shunshin no jutsu for later.
The blonde resolved that he would practice the jutsus as soon as he can.
But first, it was getting late, and he was hungry. It was time for some ramen….
When Naruto arrived at the bridge the next morning, his teammates had already arrived.
Sakura was as usual pestering the raven-haired boy for a date with no success.
On force of habit Naruto moved to greet Sakura. But he quickly caught himself mid stride, before approaching silently and standing slightly away from the other two.
Naruto grimaced slightly as he realised that giving up on Sakura was harder than he thought. He had to actively watch what he did so he would not fall back onto old habits.
He decided that he should stay as inconspicuous as possible and talk as less as possible, so he won't revert to fawning over Sakura.
Naruto leaned against a post and looked towards his teammates.
Sasuke looked at him and raised his eyebrows a little. Naruto shrugged at him. The Uchiha scoffed and turned away uncaring. To him, no matter how Naruto dressed, it wouldn't make him any less of a dobe.
Sakura gave Sasuke a confused look before looking around her.
Sakura's eyes widened slightly at the sight of Naruto's new look.
She had to admit that it was a big improvement from before. In fact, he even looked good. Not that she would ever admit to thinking that. But what shocked her was that it seemed like the Blonde had arrived for a while, and yet he did not pester her like usual, nor was he as loud as usual. The boy simply had ignored her.
Sakura wondered what had brought on the change and remember what had happened the day before. She felt guilty for being so harsh. While she did not feel guilty for turning down Naruto, she felt bad for being excessively harsh. Even if she did have a bad day it was no reason to take it out on him.
"Err… You look different today, why the sudden change?" Sakura finally broke the silence.
Naruto swallowed the words that were about to blurt out unthinkingly, before he shrugged and just replied. "Just felt like it was time for a change. Sakura".
He inwardly berated himself, as he had to once again force himself not to be quiet and not to brag.
Sakura on the other hand winced and felt a pang in her chest for reasons she did not understand. For all the time she had known Naruto, he had always called her Sakura-chan. Even though she had wished that he stopped calling her that, now that he did, she felt strangely disappointed.
Things stayed silent between the team members after that exchange, although Sakura did occasionally snuck concern filled glances at the blonde.
2 hours later Kakashi arrived to the sight of the team quietly waiting for once.
Kakashi looked at Naruto who had always been the loudest of the group, whom surprisingly did not comment on his tardiness. His single exposed eye widened in surprise as he took in his blonde haired student's new look
If not for his mask, one would be able to see his jaw dropping and mouth gaping.
Naruto looked like… like his sensei….
He wondered briefly whether it was purely a coincidence the boy looked so much like the Yondaime or not. Kakashi quickly regained his composure as he saw the expectant look on Naruto's face. It surprised him even more as Naruto would usually be yelling like a hyperactive child by now. He didn't know whether the sudden change was a good thing or not, so he quickly focused on business and decided to just observe Naruto for now.
"Well, team… We have a mission to get to…."
The chapter is about Naruto's change and his reason for changing. Naruto probably seems a bit OOC and a bit too smart, but I always thought that Naruto isn't as stupid as he looked, mostly uneducated and unfocused, considering some of the plans and tricks he pulled off in fights. Naruto can be surprisingly insightful when paying attention. I believe him creating the Uzumaki Naruto rendan was proof of this. And Kakashi commented on it also. The way I see it, Naruto had enough observation and analytical skills to find the advantage of the technique and modifying the technique to offset his own weakness. Something that could only be done by the most talented ninja.
So, I believe if he was focused more on training, then he could become stronger much quicker. That might explain how he gotten strong so quickly before and after the exams, as he was focused on training to defeat Neji and to match Sasuke after he witnessed him use the chidori.
Anyways tell me what you think. And some advice would be nice to help me improve my writing. I'm getting better at showing the thoughts of characters, but my use of descriptive words and imagery isn't that great, so describing environment, action and the like isn't easy for me.