Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable Naruto characters, settings, etc. are the property of Masashi Kishimoto and Shueisha Inc. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. No money is being made from this work. No copyright infringement is intended.
Chapter One: Uzumaki Naruto has entered the Building
Haruno Sakura had always prided herself on being a rational, intelligent person. Her top grades in the academy reflected that ability. Even if she wasn't adept at executing taijutsu, ninjutsu or genjutsu, she could recognize and explain all the kata for the Academy Taijutsu, all the handseals had long since been committed to memory, and she knew all the five signs of being caught in a genjutsu.
What she didn't know and was about to learn however, was that all of her collective knowledge and common sense was prone to fly straight out of the window a little too easily for her comfort.
The classroom was all a buzz with the news. Uzumaki Naruto, hero of Konoha, was to be joining their class today. Sakura was excited; she had read the story of Naruto overcoming the nine-tailed demon fox countless times. It was such a fantastic story; the most powerful entity in existence being put down by an infant?
Sakura concluded then and there that Naruto must have been a special boy, chosen by destiny to do special things. After all, it wasn't as if anyone could have done it in his place, right?
"Out of the way, forehead girl!"
Sakura flinched automatically and swung her head to the left where Yamanaka Ino stood, mirror compact in one hand, a brush in the other hand. Anger flared up in the pink haired girl's chest. "I thought I told you not to call me that, pig!"
Ino closed the mirror compact with a sharp snap. Her pale blue eyes flashed with annoyance. "Look, as much as it is tempting to start arguing with you, I must be the better woman and refrain," Ino took a breath and continued, not noticing that Sakura's face was turning red with anger, "After all, someone must set a good example for Naruto-oujisama."
'Oh, so that was it,' Sakura blinked, "What do you want then?" She snapped.
"I've decided to take it upon myself to act as Naruto-oujisama's guide to the Academy," Ino declared.
Sakura frowned, her eyebrows lowering in suspicion. Ino was never the one to volunteer her 'oh-so-precious' time for being a model student (even if she was the highest ranked kunoichi-in-training, something which never ceased to grate on Sakura's ego). In fact, Sakura remembered the last three times Iruka-sensei had assigned her to that task. "What about Sasuke?" Sakura asked.
Ino, preoccupied with fixing her hair, did not look at Sakura as she replied, "What about him?"
"What do you mean 'what about him'?"
Ino sighed and gave Sakura a patronizing look. "Sakura," Sakura raised an eyebrow at Ino's exasperated gaze. "Sure, Sasuke-kun is fine and all, but Naruto-oujisama is celebrity! I can't pass that up!"
Ino, apparently deciding that an impromptu match over Sakura's seat was futile, sat down in the empty seat next to Sakura. "I bet he's h-o-t!" she singsonged conspiratorially.
"Ino," Sakura hissed back. "You really are a pig!"
Sakura pushed away the thoughts she had long entertained ever since the rumors of Naruto's enrollment to the academy had crawled out of the woodwork. She would not think of a blond haired, blue eyed prince that would come away and sweep her off her feet! She was not going to succumb so easily! Sasuke was the only man for her! His stoic charms had stolen away her innocent heart and she knew that she would never recover!
To take a leaf from the Boar's book, Sakura...was going to be the better woman.
"Okay, settle down," Iruka-sensei's voice rose over the chatter in the classroom.
Conversation quickly died down, but the anxious tension in the air was palpable. Now that Iruka had his students' attention, he lowered his voice and began to speak once more. "Now, before we move onto today's lesson, we have a new student enrolling into our class."
A girl released a high pitched squeal and it was followed by a flurry of giggles from a gaggle of others. Iruka paused for a second, an eyebrow slowly arching, before continuing. "Anyways," Iruka started again, slightly hesitant, "I'll let him introduce himself."
Iruka moved to the door and opened it. Sakura, since she was sitting in very front row of the hall, managed to hear Iruka say softly, "You can come in now."
Sakura had idly daydreamed about this moment during the times she read the popular stories about him. However, her imagination paled in comparison to the real thing. A boy walked in. Sakura let out a breath she didn't know she was holding.
All she could do was stare at his effervescent blond locks which made him appear as if he was standing in front of the brightest sunlight. His eyes were an electric blue, so intense that she swore they crackled with power. His round cheeks bore fox like scars, a testament to the impossible burden he had carried for all his life. Even his clothes, white long-sleeved shirt with forest green trim and leaf green shinobi-style pants, seemed almost too bright.
A hushed awe descended upon the room. Sakura followed his blue eyes as they swept over the room slowly, glancing at the students who were watching back with blatant interest. The blonde blinked.
And then broke out into a grin that made Sakura's heart leap into her throat. "Hi," his voice was a raspy soprano, "I'm Uzumaki Naruto. Nice to meet ya!"
The classroom immediately burst into noise. Girls were giggling and sighing. Guys were whispering to each other hurriedly. Ino sat up straighter in her chair. "Oh. My. Gawd," Ino whispered breathlessly.
"I hope you will all welcome Uzumaki-san to our class," Iruka began to say, "To help him get acquainted, I am assigning one of you to give him a tour around the Academy."
Ino gasped, and quickly ran her hands through her blond hair, tossing it to and fro. Sakura didn't know whether she wanted to snort or sigh at the display. Ino attracted attention like a flame attracted bugs; it was all too much of a certainty that Iruka was going to call on—"Haruno-san."
Sakura was jerked from her thoughts and she looked up at Iruka. Her mouth parted slightly and her eyes widened. "I-iruka-sensei?" she asked, her voice wavering slightly.
"I'd like you to help Naruto-kun get acquainted with the shinobi academy."
Sakura managed to control her emotions (Shinobi Rule #45) enough to respond. "I'll do my best Iruka-sensei," She looked at Naruto, feeling her face heat up slightly, "Uzumaki-san, welcome."
Iruka nodded, and Uzumaki walked so he was sitting next to Sakura.
"FOREHEAD GIRL!" Ino hissed, steaming mad. "You traitor!"
"Sorry Ino?" Sakura let out a nervous giggle.
'SHANNARO!' She crowed inwardly, 'Take that Ino-pig!'
Class went by quickly. Sakura found herself distracted from Iruka's lectures. It was a monumental event; Sasuke-kun had been the only other person that had made her distracted like this, and even then, it took The Tragic Uchiha Slaughter and the grapevine teeming with rumors to move her mountain of discipline from The Pursuit of Education.
'Pinky?' Sakura snapped out of her reverie to see that the blonde was standing right in front of her, leaning into her face. His face was inches away from her and...'Too close!'
Sakura jerked backwards and she had to spend a few seconds flailing in her wobbling chair, trying to keep from toppling over. She finally managed to swing the chair back to its upright position and she plastered on a smile she hoped was reassuring and giggled nervously.
"Oh, Uzumaki-san, you startled me!" Sakura said, her face turning red as she backed up away from him.
Uzumaki blinked at Sakura, his blue eyed gaze looking slightly bemused. Sakura felt two inches tall and her hands flew upwards to grip her head in despair. 'Come on Sakura, get it together. This is only Uzumaki-san. He's a student...just like everyone else. Nevermind the fact that he is busy holding the most powerful demon in existence in check and probably does not have the patience for you to act like an airhead...'
"Well!" Sakura croaked, shooting out of her chair; her voice sounding way too loud to her. "I thought I should show you the training fields first!"
She fell silent, but the millisecond of silence felt like hours and she felt a desperate need to break it. "But, if you'd rather see somewhere else first...it's okay. It's perfectly okay!" Sakura raised her hands in a placating gesture, "I don't mind!"
Silence again. Uzumaki blinked and then smiled and Sakura's next sentence died in her throat. "You're really weird Pinky," he said, turning around and heading towards the door.
Sakura prayed for The Powers That Were to have mercy on her and smite her on the spot, she was so embarrassed. And there was that 'Pinky' again! "Hey, aren't we going to the training grounds?"
Sakura started at the sound of Uzumaki's voice, once again snapping back into reality. "Oh, yes...coming!"
She quickly hurried towards the door and the two headed into the hallway. While they walked towards the back exit, Sakura calmed down enough to fall into her Academy Lecture Mode, perfected by previous new enrollments. She pointed out various classrooms, providing the blonde information such as what teacher taught what class, and what year the students were in. As she spoke, she would sneak discrete glances at Uzumaki (Shinobi Rule #9: Always learn more about your target without revealing yourself).
The boy was looking around, not saying a word but from the gleam in his eyes, she could tell he was relishing in his new surroundings. It wasn't long before they reached the end of the hall and stopped in front of a double door. Sakura pushed it open and suddenly they were outside.
"We have five different training yards and a dojo." She explained, pointing to the west where another building similar to the one they had just exited lay. "Our class is in training field three for Taijutsu drills today."
With that Sakura turned around and started for the doors again. "Okay, next is the lib—urk?"
She cut herself off when her right wrist was caught in a strong grip. Turning around and looking down, she realized that Uzumaki had taken her hand in his.
She also realized that Uzumaki Naruto was a head shorter than her, which was weird because he seemed much taller when she had first laid eyes on him.
Sakura didn't have much time to file this information in her mind's archive. "Shut up Pinky. Let's go to the training field!"
Sakura could only nod dumbly before the blond began to drag her through the mini-forest of trees and past training field one and two. Sakura had to walk faster than usual to keep from stumbling. She glanced at the hand gripping her wrist. 'Even though he's shorter than me, he has big hands...'
Naruto stopped. "Who is that?"
Sakura pushed the bushes out of her way to see a girl running through a series of kata. Her short, black hair rustled in the wind as she moved from one stance to the other. Sakura couldn't recognize the taijutsu form she was currently going through, so she assumed that it must have been a Hyuuga clan exclusive. "That's Hinata Hyuuga," she whispered. "She's ranked number one at Taijutsu, even better than Uchiha Sasuke!"
Sakura cocked her head in contemplation. "Although, I don't know why...she's never won a spar against him..." Sakura turned to her side, "But Uzumaki-san we shouldn't huh...?"
Once again, Uzumaki had rushed ahead, leaving her to hold a conversation with the air. She looked ahead and saw him cross the bushes and towards the practicing Hyuuga.
Hinata still focused on her kata, reacted accordingly. She whirled around, grabbed Naruto's wrist and tossed him over her shoulder before she realized what she was doing. Sakura, still behind the bush let out a small gasp.
"Ah!" Hinata cried, falling to her knees, beside the downed Uzumaki. "I-I wasn't paying attention and you startled me...I-I'm sorry," her voice was so quiet that Sakura had to strain to catch her words.
The blond newcomer's voice however was not. "Wanna spar?"
Hinata seemed to shrink into herself and she started to fiddle with her fingers. "Ah, I…I'm not that good..."
Naruto sat up, and shot a glance towards Sakura. "So why does Pinky say you're the best?"
"P-pinky?" Sakura heard Hinata stammered, and the black haired girl turned around to see Sakura staring back at the two of them.
Sakura smiled tremulously, not at her new nickname but to reassure the shy girl. "You are Hinata."
Hinata's pupil-less eyes widened. "Y-you're mistaken, I can't—"
The Hyuuga heiress's palm shot out to block Naruto's incoming fist. Sakura saw Naruto grin. "Hinata-chy-an, you're holding out on me!"
He swung again before Hinata could splutter a response. Once again, Hinata was quick in slapping his arm away. Naruto jumped to his feet and Hinata rose to hers. Hinata looked positively scandalized by the whole situation. If Sakura had a mirror, she was sure her expression would have matched the Hyuuga heiress's.
Sakura started towards the two, when Naruto abruptly closed the distance between himself and Hinata. Hinata leapt back and the two of them began a furious exchange of blows around the clearing. Sakura noted that Hinata was on the defensive, but judging by the conflicted look on her face, it looked like she was deliberately holding back, hesitant about doing anything else but block Naruto's attacks. 'Well, I guess Iruka-sensei wasn't lying…' Sakura mused.
"Uzumaki-san?" Sakura called, seeing Hinata's panic-striken face and deciding that enough was enough.
When Uzumaki didn't cease his advances, Sakura rolled her hands into fists, inhaled and exhaled. She knew what she had to do, she just hoped she wouldn't regret it later.
With a burst of speed, she ran and leapt into the air and straight into Uzumaki's side. They both dived into the ground and rolled several feet into a tree. When they had stopped, Sakura was lying on top of the blonde, her forehead pressing into his nose. He snorted and Sakura jerked upwards, but immediately fell back again when she realized her arms were trapped under his weight.
"Hey Hyuuga!" A new voice called. "Sensei wants everyone to meet back at the—what the heck is going on here?"
Sakura was still trying to extricate herself from Uzumaki so she didn't know who had come upon the three of them until Hinata squeaked out his name. "K-kiba-kun…"
"Ah excuse me Uzumaki-san," Sakura grunted in frustration.
"You're heavy, get off!"
Sakura could feel a vein pulsing on her forehead. "What?!"
"Hey, it's Haruno and Uzumaki!" Kiba said, in a surprised tone.
Finally, the two downed students were able to separate themselves and Sakura rolled off Uzumaki so she was lying on her back. "You know," Kiba pointed out. "When Sensei said to show the new kid around…I don't think he meant you were supposed to—"
"Do not say another word Inuzuka," Sakura's voice was low and laced with killer intent.
"Kiba-kun, we should go before Iruka-sensei gets worried," Hinata cut in.
Before Kiba could respond, Hinata grabbed his arm and fled from the clearing leaving Sakura and Uzumaki alone.
"Man, she must be really good!" Uzumaki stood up and grinned, scratching his head as he watched Hinata and Kiba's retreating figures. "Too bad we didn't get to finish sparring…"
'Is he seriously serious?!' A voice in Sakura's head was shrieking.
She entertained a mental pantomime of slapping Uzumaki upside the head, but decided to restrain the urge. For the moment. "Yes, too bad." Sakura snapped, climbing onto her feet.
"Man, lighten up Pinky!"
Okay that? Was officially It for Haruno Sakura. The shiny pedestal that propped up her lofty ideal of Uzumaki Naruto had been utterly demolished. "No, you need to lighten up!" Sakura replied, "Hinata didn't want to spar with you. You were the one who kept attacking her like some…some…!" Sakura was so angry she couldn't find the proper word for Uzumaki in her large vocabulary.
Uzumaki looked at her with a pout that she might have found endearing five minutes ago, but now only added fuel to the flames. "Aw, but she's so shy…"
Sakura rolled her eyes. "Oh! I see! So you were trying to beat the shyness out of her Uzumaki? Give me a break!"
Sakura turned around and stomped towards the direction that Hinata and Kiba had taken. "Hey, weren't we going to see the rest of the school?" Uzumaki called after her, "Pinky!"
Sakura stopped and turned around, giving him her most deadly look. "And for your information Naruto, my name isn't 'Pinky', it's Haruno Sakura!"
Sakura began walking towards training ground three, pointedly ignoring Naruto's sputtering behind her.
Kata – literally means "form". According to wikipedia, kata are detailed choreographed movements practiced solo or in pairs. They are used in martial arts.
Leney's Ending Notes: Yes, Hinata is ranked higher in taijutsu than any of the rookie nine before and after the Chuunin Exams. Surprising isn't it?
I was trying to have Sakura's annoyance with Naruto slowly build until she finally snapped. Naruto can be a bit much sometimes…and this Naruto is just as socially inept as his canon counterpart. Next chapter, you'll figure out why. Or at least, what Sakura thinks is the case.
With that said, keep in mind the point of view for this story is 3rd Person limited. Therefore the objectivity of certain perspectives should be suspect. When I seem to wax poetic on Naruto's cherubic looks, that's Sakura being a hopeless fangirl. Come on, Sakura in canon is a romantic dork. Seriously, who comes up with a fantasy that involves the words: "Your forehead is so charming; Makes me want to kiss it?"
(Although apparently Naruto does…LOL!)