Title: School Days

Author: Scarlet Pencil

Pairing: None.

Rating: PG-13

Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto or its characters. It is the property of Masashi Kishimoto.

Summary: It's a normal day at the Ninja Academy. But Shikamaru knows better than that.

AN: This can be read as a prequel or a side story to my upcoming fic Stray Leaves. It was originally going to be chapter one, but as I planned out Stray Leaves this fic's timeline got messed up. Since I thought it was a decent piece of writing, and I didn't want it to go to waste, I'm posting it as an unconnected oneshot.

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Shikamaru stared out the window, eyes glazed over. Various other students in the class had followed his example, unable to even pretend to be working in the muggy heat. Only Iruka-sensei was unaffected, droning on about chakra molding techniques in the background.

Shikamaru thought about sighing and decided it took too much energy. This really was troublesome. It was obvious the heat was a genjutsu, they were in the middle of autumn after all. Just yesterday his mother had forced a particularly ugly old coat on him. Was he the only one who understood that?

It wasn't like these exercises were uncommon, either. A couple of weeks ago, the students had just been sitting in the classroom, minding their own business, when a hailstorm of shuriken burst through the window. All the shuriken had been blunt, of course, but the 'attack' had served its dual purpose of reminding the kids of the previous lessons and scaring the crap out of them.

That attack had also revealed a lot of information about the academy students in his class. Although he didn't like putting energy into things, Shikamaru had made it a point to observe his classmates then.

First off, Sasuke had followed the textbook classically. He moved out of the range of the glass shards, threw two handfuls of shuriken out the window, and reached for his kunai. By the time an enemy would have penetrated the classroom, as Iruka-sensei later pointed out, Sasuke would have been prepared to fight, dulling the advantage the surprise attack had.

Most of the girls in the class had screamed loudly and hadn't moved. Only Hinata had attempted to follow the textbook. However, she fumbled her shuriken throw, smacking Kiba in the head with them.

The other boys had varied in performance. Shino was probably the best after Sasuke, but most of the boys were busy shouting in alarm and generally adding to the confusion. If it had been a real mission, they would have failed miserably.

Deciding there was nothing he could do, Shikamaru had slid under the desk to avoid trouble. Only to find that someone very unlikely had beat him to it.

Uzumaki Naruto was an enigma of sorts. To begin with, no one seemed to know anything about his family. It was odd, because most of the kids complained or at least talked about their families if they had one. But no one had ever mentioned Naruto's parents being dead either, and orphans tended to get a lot of sympathy because of all the people who had died in the Kyuubi attack.

Another strange thing was the way older people reacted around him. They pursed their lips, and spoke sharply when he asked a question. Shikamaru could remember his mother, uncharacteristically subdued, telling him not to go near Naruto. The treatment Naruto got was far too strict to be punishment for the various pranks Naruto was infamous for. Perhaps Naruto's parents had been traitors to the Leaf? But then why was Naruto in the Ninja Academy? It didn't make sense.

The final strange thing was that Naruto said nothing about any of it. Although it was obvious that the adults disliked him, Naruto seemed oblivious. He just kept his trademark smile on and smashed his way through life.

Very troublesome.

Shikamaru looked up at the clock and sighed. That settled it, he had estimated that about fifteen minutes had passed since he had last looked at it, but it only said two minutes had passed. He began idly estimating when and where the teachers would attack. Probably from behind. There was a possibility they would attack from the windows again, as the students wouldn't expect the enemy to attack from the same direction twice, but Shikamaru was willing to bet on them coming from the back. Troublesome, slipping under his desk wouldn't take him far enough out of the line of fire. The best position would be—

A burst of shuriken sailed through the air, thudding into the desks. Shikamaru dropped out of his seat and rolled into the aisle way. He had almost made it to refuge behind a desk when he saw a shuriken headed towards him. He couldn't dodge it, and Shikamaru scowled. These attacks were graded, and his mother would be furious to hear he got another F. But it was really a pain to actually try to do well on these things. Besides, wasn't the point to not show off your strengths to potential enemies?

Something orange collided with the shuriken, giving Shikamaru enough time to make it to safety. He looked over his shoulder, where a now jacketless Naruto was grinning at him.

"Thanks." Shikamaru mouthed. Naruto grinned in acknowledgment.

Things began to rapidly settle down. Shikamaru apathetically watched as the students began to repel the teachers. He hadn't done too terribly, so he should get a decent enough grade to show his mother. Shikamaru sighed as he settled down next to Naruto. And frowned, glancing at Naruto.

This was the second time Naruto had calmly held back from entering a fight. Normally the boy was eager to show off in front of everyone. But now that Shikamaru thought about it, Naruto hadn't ever joined in any of the teacher versus student exercises. That was really odd. Shikamaru sighed and turned his gaze back to the fight.

He frowned as Mizuki-sensei skirted to the side. What was he doing, separating from the other teachers? The fight was almost over, the teachers normally retreated right about now. Shikamaru watched as the man stopped directly across the room from their hiding spot. Was this a new tactic to keep the students on their guard? But the only people Mizuki-sensei could hit from that angle were Shikamaru and Naruto—

Mizuki pulled out a shuriken from his back pocket, took aim, and threw it directly towards Naruto.

Shikamaru pulled out a kunai and threw it. It was a clumsy throw, and only glanced off of the incoming shuriken. But it was enough to alter the projectile's trajectory; instead of hitting Naruto, it sank harmlessly into the desk.

"Wha?" Naruto whipped his head around, blinking at the shuriken. He had been watching the fight, and thinking himself safe, hadn't seen Mizuki.

"We're even." Shikamaru drawled, standing up. The fight was definitely over, Iruka-sensei was calling the class to order, and Shikamaru noted that Mizuki was nowhere to be seen. As he left Naruto behind, Shikamaru couldn't help glancing at the shuriken. To have embedded itself so far into the desk… it had to be sharpened. Which led to the question, why would Mizuki-sensei intentionally throw a sharpened shuriken at a student?

Shikamaru sighed and walked back to his desk, already tuning out the start of Iruka-sensei's lecture on genjutsu. Everything to do with Naruto was so troublesome.

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