Akane Uzimaki had a strange habit of tapping her feet. She did it whenever she was annoyed, her equivalence of cracking ones knuckles.
Naoki Inuzuka backed up a few steps, eyes fixed on the sandal-clad foot tapping rapidly. He might have gulped, looking up into Akane's eyes, which had gained a very frightening iciness. She glared back venomously.
"I didn't mean to!" He brought up his hands, one of which was still holding a half-empty tin can of paint. Naoki looked at the can as if he had just noticed it, the electric blue flakes around the rim matching perfectly to the large splatter on the girls long-sleeve blue robe top.
Akane carefully placed her bento box on the bench next to her and stood up. Naoki had no idea how awful her payback would be, but he didn't stick around to find out. He dropped the paint can and took off bounding down the hallway. The can crashed into the ground, the paint flying from it like the sparks from the end of a snake-sparkler and spraying across Akane and the rest of the hallway. She brought up her arms to protect her face but her obi, legs, and bento box both got a hearty helping of lead-based paint.
"Aka-chan?" A rather loud, but polite voice asked. Daichi Akimichi was standing in the door way to a classroom, a stack of work books wedged between his arm and side. He took in the incomplete slathering of paint in the hall way and on Akane.
The copper-haired girl groaned, realizing what it must look like. "It…was…" She motioned over her shoulder with her thumb in the direction that Naoki had fled.
Just then a then shrill rang through the academy and Akane groaned again.
"I'm going to be late and covered in paint!" She muttered to herself angrily.
"I can tell Nara-sensei what happened while you got to the bathroom and clean up," Daichi offered, but then he saw the condition of her clothes and added, "Or maybe you should go home and change…"
Akane scooped up her bento box and dumped it in the trash.
"Thanks, Daichi," She said, and turned to go to the bathroom.
In the mirror, she realized why Daichi suggested she go home. I mean, Akane could tell anyone that her clothes had been ruined to the possibly irreversible point, but she didn't carry around a pocket mirror like most of the girls in her class. There were streaks of quickly drying paint in her hair and smears still lingered on her face from the first time Naoki slung the paint across her chest.
Akane checked her wrist watch. She probably could get out to the locker room and back in a few minutes. But she left her sparring uniform at home this morning (She only had hand-to-hand combat classes every other day and took her uniform home to wash because it was starting to smell a little bit funky).
Akane ripped a handful of paper towels out of the dispenser and ran them under the tap.
She rubbed her cheeks raw with the damp paper and made the streaks in her hair less prominent, but they were still noticeable. There was nothing she could do about her outfit, there was a possibly she might have to throw this set away.
Akane went to her classroom and knocked on the door. Nara-sensei slid the door open immediately, as if he'd been standing directly behind it.
"Eh? Daichi told me what happened already," He scratched behind his spiky ponytail, "You need to be dismissed? Or can one of your parents bring you a spare set?"
"Mom's with Tsunade-hime for all of today and I think Dad's at work or something," Akane answered.
"So who threw paint at you?" He motioned with his chin at the rest of the classroom, all of the other students pretending not to listen.
Akane rolled her eyes, directing her gaze at Naoki when they had completed their journey. He still had dried electric blue paint in his hands.
"Alright, you're dismissed for one subject. You have to be back by one-forty-five, right?" Nara-sensei leaned against the door. Akane nodded and he slid the door closed again.
Akane went to her locker and dug her house key out of the side pocket of her side bag. She slammed it shut and headed for the front door.
Her father hadn't come home for lunch, she could tell because there wasn't an empty noodle bowl by the sink and the box of snack cakes in the cupboard was unopened. Akane quickly changed, deciding a shower would take way too long. She brushed her hair back into a high ponytail and was able to get the last of the paint off of her face.
Akane had only eaten half of her bento box, so she opened the snack cake box and took two of the little, spongy pastries. She ate one before she left, locked the door, and was swallowing the last bite of the second when she pulled open the front door of the school.
She stepped into the room and immediately had the feeling of intrusion as everybody turned to stare at her. Akane quickly made her way up to her seat in the very back.
"As I was saying," Nara-sensei drawled lazily, "you're passing exams will be on the 14th, or, for those of you who don't want to figure what day that will be, this Friday. After that, you will be broken up into three-man teams according to your grades and specific skills and assigned to Jounin, who you will stay with until you are promoted to Chunin via the Chunin exam and so on and so forth."
The feeling of intrusion was replaced with one of sheer boredom, one she was sure would have put every one of her classmates to sleep if it had been earlier in the morning.
"-so study. Your exam will be over genjutsu. On another note, open your work books to page 321 and do problems 7 through 25-" Nara-sensei was saying.
"What happened today?" Umeko asked her, wrapping her lips around the straw of her Styrofoam cup.
"Naoki threw paint on me during lunch and I had to go home and change…" Akane trailed off, sipping on her juice box loudly.
Umeko raised her eyebrows so fast it looked like they were making a break for her hair line. "Is that why he nearly pissed himself when you walked in?"
"Hmm, she's cute," Umeko murmured absently, gazing at something across the plaza.
Akane followed to where she was looking. Umeko was staring at Kasogi, who was visiting from the Sand with her father. She was a little younger than Akane but a few months older than Umeko with bright, blood-red hair and dark shadows under her green eyes. Akane's father once said she looked exactly like Gaara-san, only with eyebrows.
"Maybe that means that you'll be accepting any and all missions to the Sand when you graduate the academy," Akane said, snapping Umeko from her trance.
Umeko flushed redder than Kasogi's hair, "Y-yeah, I guess."
Akane smiled, "But I won't be on your team."
Umeko blinked rapidly, "Why not?"
"Because we have the same G.P.O.; my dad said they divide you like strong, mediocre, and weak," Akane recalled flatly.
"I don't think I'll pass! Genjutsu is my worse field. And even if I do, don't they usually have two boys and a girl? That's gonna be boring," Umeko said, faking a depressed tone.
"You'll live," Akane replied shortly, and then she checked her watch. "I have to go. Dad wanted to go to that new ramen stand."
"Don't get anything with fish in it!" Umeko called to Akane as she headed for Eleventh Street. Akane almost laughed. A few months ago, she had taken Umeko to a barbeque restaurant. Umeko got the salmon, ate half of it, and then realized it smelled really weird. It turned out to be rotten.
Tayuya and Naruto, a rather odd looking couple if you asked anybody else, were standing right outside the stand. Akane was very short (a fact she's sort of subconscious about) and didn't even have to bow her head under the hanging paper.
"Do they have anything spicy?" Akane asked.
"Oh, yeah, they do," Naruto leaned around Tayuya on his stool and showed her the menu, "See: Pork and crab ramen with jalapeños." Fish.
Akane nodded. Naruto straightened back upright to stop pushing Tayuya into the bar.
"So, what can I get you?" The cook from behind the bar approached them and pulled a small notebook from the pocket of her apron.
"Um, I want a large bowl of Miso," Naruto flipped his menu over, "And a regular bowl of Pork and Crab with jalapeños, and…uh, what do you want?"
"A large shark fin," Tayuya told the cook. She took the menus and went back to the stove.
"How was your appointment with Tsunade-hime?" Akane broke apart a pair of chopsticks.
"It went okay. A hell of a lot better than the last one, but it still wasn't all that good," Tayuya grunted.
"I went by Neji's house today to train," Naruto announced. He rubbed his hands together in a plotting manner, "One of these days, I'm going to crack his ultimate defense!"
Naruto might have broken out into maniacal laughter to crack a smile out of Akane, but the cook had brought their ramen.
"Are you excited about your exams today?" Naruto crooned from across the table.
Akane looked up from the apple she had just bitten (she was really watching the bite mark turn brown) and gave him an incredulous look. "Nervous is more like it."
"I was excited because I really wanted to graduate." Naruto cut his omelet in half with his fork and shoved one half into his mouth.
"That's because you failed three times already!" Tayuya waved a spatula in one hand and a hot frying pan in the other. She cracked open another egg and dumped it onto the hot metal. "Aka-chan, are you sure you don't want breakfast?"
Akane took another bite of her apple and shook her head.
"You should go," Naruto said, looking at the clock over the stove. "I think they start the exams only fifteen minutes after class starts."
Akane said something that was made inaudible by the chunks of apple in her mouth. She stood from the table and took her bag off the coat rack by the door. Akane was actually the only one who used the rack; Tayuya and Naruto tended to throw their jackets on the couch.
"Oh, right! Aka-chan! You were saying that you were nervous about Umeko not graduating with you!" Naruto shouted from the kitchen.
"I told you to stop listening to me when I'm asleep!" Akane yelled back, yanking the front door open.
"Aka-chaaaan! Maybe I wouldn't have to if you spoke more when you're awake!" He sang, leaning back through the archway just in time to see the door slam shut behind her.
Akane jogged to the academy, careful not to plow over the other small children on their way up there.
She took a seat in the middle of the slowly filling up class room. Umeko plopped down into the seat next to her, groaning and rubbing the back of her neck.
"I barely got a wink of sleep last night," She complained, "I was having a panic attack the entire time. Are you excited?"
"Why does everybody keep asking me that?" Akane asked in a very serious tone.
Umeko had dark circles under her white, pupil-less eyes that made her look more worn out that Gaara-san did most of the time.
"Just nervous," Akane said.
"Who do you want on your team?" Umeko leaned on her palm.
"I don't care all that much," Akane admitted, "Just as long as its not…"
Both she and Umeko turned at the same time to look at Naoki in the very back. He quickly diverted his eyes to the window, looking slightly scared.
"Oh," Umeko nodded solemnly. "Irony is going to have its way and you'll be on his team."
"Don't jinx me!" Akane slapped her shoulder sharply.
Then Nara-sensei trotted in and the mind-numbing buzz of multiple conversations ceased immediately.
He set his bag on the teacher's desk at the front of the room and pulled out a stack of paper booklets.
"Please take out a pencil for the written portion of the exam… Ichigo, can you pass these out?"
Ichigo Umino stood from his seat at the front desk and took the booklets. He circled around, putting three at the end of each table.
"You have forty minutes. The test is multiple choice. Don't freak out," Nara-sensei monotone, taking a seat behind the teacher's desk and pulling an orange paperback book with a slash mark on the back out of his pocket.
Akane flipped scribbled her name on the top line and started reading the questions.
The questions on the first page were easy but it got harder the further back you got. Akane flipped her test over and leaned back, checking the clock. She still had fifteen minutes to burn…
Akane was woken up when the test paper was yanked out from under her palm. Nara-sensei glared at her, added it to the stack in his hand, and moved on to the next row.
Umeko patted her shoulder. "You started rattling off the answers," She laughed.
Akane huffed, "Aw, damn. How many did I list?"
"Just one through fifty."
"The test only had fifty questions," Akane groaned, massaging her temples.
"Okay, the second portion of the test is a practical exam. The practical exam will determine weather or not you graduate but the written exam will go into your final grade, which will determine who your teammates will be," Shikamaru motioned to Mika-sensei and then at the door joining to an empty classroom, "The practical exam will be private and on illusions."
"Yeah," Mika-sensei stood up, "it's in alphabetical order, so Yoshiro Aburame is first…"
"Hey, Aka-chan," Moe Umino nudged her arm, "You're turn is next."
Akane quickly trudged down the stairs, careful not to push Moe in any way (lord knows that girl is clumsy enough and Akane didn't want to be responsible for another scar on Moe's forehead).
Akane slid the door open and stepped in, closing it behind her.
"Hello, Akane-chan," Mika-sensei greeted. She checked the paper on her clipboard. "You remember how to do paralyzing jutsus, right?"
Akane nodded. Mika-sensei walked around the desk and got down on her knees.
"You will attempt a paralyzing jutsu on her," Shikamaru pointed the end of his pencil at Akane, "Start now."
Akane formed the practiced hand signs, running through them quickly. Then she let out a low continuous whistle. Mika-sensei shivered, her eyes widening, and her arms were yanked up above her head as if they were being bound by invisible chains. Mika-sensei screamed…
"Thank you, Akane. That's enough," Nara-sensei griped suddenly. Akane's head snapped to face him, the whistle dying on her lips. Mika-sensei groaned, her arms dropping into her lap and she slumped forward slightly. Mika-sensei massaged her temples with her index fingers.
"Ugh, you pass," she groaned.
Nara-sensei gave her a forehead protector with a green band, "Tell Hideki Yamanaka to come in next."
Akane tucked it into her obi and exited the spare classroom. She punched Hideki in the arm to snap him out of the vivid conversation he was having with Osamu Inuzuka.
"You're next," she muttered over her shoulder, going back down to her seat by Umeko.
"Hey, what happened? We heard someone screaming," Umeko demanded as Akane slid into her seat.
Akane pulled her forehead protector out, set it on the desk, and simply said, "I passed."
Umeko exchanged worried looks with Moe, who's usually wide eyes were round and bigger than saucers.
"So," Nara-sensei said, following Hideki out the door, "You will be assigned to a sensei and two other classmates on Monday."
"E-enjoy your weekend," Mika-sensei puffed, her face whiter than a sheet, "Class is dismissed."
"We're Genin!" Moe whooped loudly as they headed down the street towards the plaza to visit the sweet shop.
"Yeah!" Umeko agreed excitedly, jumping up to wrap an arm around Daichi's shoulder (he was about six feet tall already).
Akane exchanged looks with the Akimichi boy.
What'cha think? Good? Bad? Awesome? Please review, I'd love it. If you don't know, Akane is the byproduct of my other Naruto/Tayuya fics.
A side note: yes, Umeko is gay. But before you ask, no, she isn't in love with Akane. She loves her, she just isn't in love with her.
Chapter two should be up soon.