Disclaimer: I don't own the show Naruto or its characters, coincidentally, I do own three of the characters who appear in this plot. So…HA!
Beta'd by: XoXgaaraXoX
Trained fingers danced over wired strings with skilled ease…not. Each wrong note twanged and reverberated in the still air…followed by a punch to the bed sheets and a disgruntled groan.
So what if he couldn't play guitar flawlessly?
No one was perfect.
Sasuke Uchiha had to learn this long ago when he was still young, naïve and well, stupid to be blunt. Sasuke once believed that he was the only one who lacked ideal qualities. Of course, this was when his older genius brother, prim and proper straight-'a' cousins, and his stiff-back proud father surrounded him. He hadn't quite realized that comparing himself with overachievers wasn't the best thing to do as an eight-year-old. Thankfully, after years of careful observation and logical reasoning, he'd concluded that his brother couldn't possibly be perfect when he lacked one basic thing.
Sasuke exhaled a dark chuckle at the thought of his brother's void of a personality. Of course, he hadn't disregarded the fact that he himself was a cold-hearted, unapproachable and generally a prick; except the reality of it, all being Sasuke never claimed to be flawless.
Something his brother did every goddamned opportunity he got.
The snap of another string cracked a hole in his wall of musings. His last thought echoed and nagged at him as he sucked at the blood oozing from his newly formed cut.
Why can no one be perfect?
If we've been molded in God's image, does that mean God's not perfect?
The Uchiha shook these thoughts out of his head as he peered through his wooden-framed window out into suburbia. He definitely didn't know enough about the Bible to contemplate about life and its ways.
As if on cue, a growl erupted from his stomach: an animalistic reminder that it was past feeding time and that he was still human after all. After a moment's hesitation, he uncrossed his legs and dropped his feet to the laminated wooden floor. He trudged over to his desk chair to grab his black sweater that had been draped over it.
It was the type of sweater those wannabe ultra-artistic girls and guys wore during high school. The gay-lord slim-fitting type that seemed to only come knitted or in turtlenecks. His being the former because turtlenecks made his neck itchy.
He hardly went anywhere without the black jersey nowadays. He considered it his armor. In other words, a way to protect him from the stares and leers that seem to creep their way towards him like flies to waste.
Nausea hit the Uchiha without warning. He was left with the feeling that he was forgetting something crucial and it was making uncharacteristically tense. His marred fingers curled and uncurled themselves as he shifted his gaze uneasily around his small room.
Sasuke suddenly had the overwhelming urge to smash his overly pale head against the wall. He'd just remembered the reason why he felt even shittier than normal, the reason why it felt like his stomach was gnawing at his heart or burning itself into bits in a tidal wave of stomach acid. One look at the idiotic poster plastered on his bulletin board in day-glow colors was a reminder of the shit he was about to dive into.
The almighty Sasuke Uchiha had a fucking swimming competition on December 30th.
Problem was that he had no clue how to swim.
It would've been customary for Uchiha children to learn how to swim by age five. Somehow, his idiotic, stick-stuck-up-the-ass brother managed to convince his parents to postpone the lessons. He told them that at age five Sasuke needed time to, "spread his wings, embrace his childhood; have time to run out into the strawberry fields of love" or some fairy shit like that.
This was, ironically, just before his brother decided to pick up a butcher's knife and brutally behead both his parents in the living room just after teatime. So, here Sasuke was, clad in an oh-so-stylish black jersey. Ready to take on the world…
To think this had all started when that…let's just call him 'dog-bastard' for now, challenged him to a contest one fateful day in the gym.
It had been a sweltering hot afternoon in Konoha's local fitness center. While other muscled males (and females) were doing countless laps in the overly chlorinated pool water Sasuke Uchiha, not one to live down his image as the lone ranger, was doing one-handed push-ups on the pool lawn.
"Oi! Prissy-ass," a gruff, slightly throaty voice found its way to Sasuke's ears.
Usually he would ignore the idiotic brown-haired, canine-obsessed moron. However, that usually led to bigger conflicts and he didn't want to draw attention to himself. So he forcefully lifted his head to show he was listening, choosing to continue working out as he did so. Dog-bastard had been leaning against the side of the gym pool. He was still in the water, arms crossed and head lolling lazily on his biceps, an irritating sense of laziness and boredom radiating off him as he stared at Sasuke.
"Let's have a race, you and me. Right here, right now," the bastardly boy said flashing his elongated canines for good measure.
The rest of the gym members had turned to look at their exchange-some pausing in mid-stroke to witness one of the countless fights between the Uchiha and the Inuzuka that had been occurring ever since Sasuke moved into town at the beginning of the year.
Sasuke's usually dormant mind went into overdrive. His passive face screwed up into a tight scowl. If he gave up this challenge now, he would no doubt be crowned 'loser' like all the other wimps who shrugged off the bastard's challenges. And as tough as Sasuke was, there's only so much name-calling one emotionally unstable person can take. If he accepted, however, he'd have to become a champion-style swimmer in the next five seconds no matter how non-existent his swimming skills were. He decided on plastering a condescending smirk on his face for no apparent reason.
The boy glowered at him through one eye. A droplet of water rolled down the eyelid of the other giving him a sort-of beady-eyed, squinted, rabid dog type of look.
Sasuke sighed deeply and shifted his position so that he was resting on his haunches; the stench of sweat and chlorine filling his nostrils as he inhaled and exhaled deeply.
"I didn't plan on swimming today," Sasuke stated simply attempting to get the boy, rightly named 'Kiba', angry enough to get into a fistfight with him or something.
Kiba raised an eyebrow in disbelief, his fingers scraping on the poolside into a curled fist.
Sasuke bristled slightly at the double innuendo to the insult, self-consciously bringing a hand up to his rooster-tail hair. After much sadistic thought, he settled on glaring daggers at the brown-haired boy and patting around for a nearby rock to throw at his head.
"Ladies…ladies," an uninterested drawl permeated the tension between the boys as a tall, white-haired man with a sweat rag covering his face like a mask slouched his way over to them.
The Uchiha surveyed the man with mild-amusement, his anxiety disappearing slightly with his sudden appearance. The man was wearing a combination of what looked like body armor and clown pants. His hair was spiked upward, and his visible eye was cast downward at the boys.
"I couldn't help but overhear your predicament and thought I could offer my wise guidance." The man reached inside his pocket and grabbed two ridiculously ugly looking flyers, handing them to both boys.
"Let's settle this like men at the annual 'Show-you're-Buff' swim competition in two weeks," the man said, flourishing his suggestion with a charming grin.
The black-haired boy glanced down at the paper as the wacky man handed it to him; his top lip developed a twitch as he observed the funky '70's style font completed with smiley faces equipped with muscular arms on the sheet.
Sasuke curved his neck toward his savior, planning to grace him with an appreciative grimace and a small nod of his head only to find that he had disappeared. Perplexed, he shifted his attention to the boy in the pool who had his eyebrow cocked thoughtfully before nodding eagerly.
He was probably considering that it was a good opportunity to show off the good amount muscle mass he'd built up during the year.
"You're going down, fish brain."
The Uchiha's eyebrows contracted at this new insult. He wracked his brain for a good retort but the notoriously uncouth dog-boy flopped himself backward into floating position and proceeded to flip Sasuke off with both hands before drifting away.
That was the moment that Sasuke decided that it was probably time to drag his ass home, away from Kiba and away from the gym.
Sasuke wiped away the small amount of drool that accumulated during his flashback and focused on the predicament at hand. So, he had exactly one week and six days to learn how to swim, and learn how to swim well. Of which, six hours of each of those days was taken up by his job at the Uchiha firm.
He glared at his cherry-wood desk. Glared at the poster some more. Just generally glared.
Well, shit. He hadn't actually considered how screwed he actually was.
Sasuke knew he needed to do some quick thinking.
The dull taste of bile in his mouth was turning him off completely. A night out drinking his worries away wasn't the greatest thing to do in a predicament as such.
Snapping out of his lethargic state, he grabbed the convenient banana-yellow phone book on his desk and flopped down onto the comfy plush chair in the corner of his room. His thin fingers traced the tips of the pages until he found the 'S' section.
Sasuke had never made bold half-thought out decisions like this in his life. As reluctant as he was to admit it, this was all slightly enthralling.
He began scanning down each page with his eyes. He'd obviously have to find a skilled swimming teacher and one that offered their lessons at night. Reasons being that one, he didn't have time during the day and two, because he didn't want to be seen going for swimming lessons at age twenty-two.
His vision suddenly zoned in on the largest sign on the page. It was practically screaming to be picked. The title seemed simple enough 'Dolphin School of Swimming', with a sub-caption of '24/7 Swim Lessons provided.' But as he looked under the title, he had to shield his eyes slightly from the immense weight of the image below.
Even more offensive than the competition paper, the advertisement made him want to spoon out his eyeballs with--well, spoons. Yet strangely, he was compelled beyond belief. He spotted the address at the bottom of the giant pot bellied dolphin picture and quickly jotted it down. He didn't deem it necessary to call the place as there was nothing he could ask really. The only thing left to do was go there.
The short walk down to his car was surprisingly hassle-free. No pink haired ex-girlfriends waiting to throw his old possessions at him. No stalker-like teenagers waiting outside his apartment door. And even more surprisingly, no creepy glasses-wearing building superintendent waiting for this month's rent.
He exhaled a worried sigh, bemusedly watching the water vapor disparate into the cold air. To be honest, Sasuke was hoping that the swimming instructor would be young, good-looking and female.
It wasn't that he was homophobic. It was more that he didn't want to be taught by someone his age and male. That would just be embarrassing and well, downright weird. The good-looking part was just an added bonus.
As he neared his black sedan, he checked his reflection out in the car window. His black hair was swept in all directions by the cold breeze and his coal-colored, almost lifeless eyes were staring back at him. His top lip curved into a scowl as he noted the black backpack equipped with a towel and swimming trunks hanging off his arm.
The words, 'young and female' became a mantra in his head while he jammed his key into the ignition.
After a short drive down the main road, an orange and blue neon sign flashing the words, 'Dolphin School!' was the only indication that Sasuke had finally arrived at his destination.
He took a sharp turn into the narrow road leading to the parking lot, and decided to choose a space near to the front of the short building.
Peering out the passenger window and through the open doors, he could see a blue hallway leading to a receptionist's desk. The building was brightly lit and he could almost smell the chlorine even while still in his car.
Sasuke took a deep breath trying to calm his nerves. He contemplated grabbing a cigarette from the cubby-hole, but then decided against it; killing his lungs wasn't the greatest way to prepare for a swimming competition.
Deep breaths, yeah…
All he needed to do was go in there and ask for a lesson. Thinking back, he should've probably called and scheduled a lesson when he had his phonebook. But who really took swimming coaching at night? Besides, he would just have to explain his situation to them. They'd have to understand. Right?
With one last reassuring nod, he pulled his keys out and climbed out of his black Civic, slamming the door behind him. The building glowed warmly, almost invitingly.
Sasuke let the feeling of anxiety wash over him for a moment before he stepped onto the paved walkway. The path was engraved with dolphin-like shapes, and led all the way to the woman at the desk.
Each stride he took to the entrance was painstakingly slow, but he couldn't pull himself to walk at normal pace. Sasuke admitted that he was nervous but he wasn't going to show that to whoever his instructor was. He was going to stay cool, calm and collected like always.
"How can I help you?"
Sasuke scowled down at the stern-looking woman in front of him trying to think of a way to voice his needs.
"I need to…"
"Are you here to pick up your son or daughter?" she asked, peering over at him over the rim of her glasses.
"Then you better leave, sir. We can't have youngsters dillydallying around here," she reprimanded, scrutinizing his worn-down appearance through squinted eyes.
"Listen, lady," he began through gritted teeth, "I'm here to learn..."
"Learn what?" she asked dumbly.
"…To swim," Sasuke hissed out, his eyes darting around the baby-blue colored room to the empty armchairs.
The woman's dull expression of polite curiosity vanished and replaced by comprehension. She reached into the drawer and pulled out a bunch of papers, a pen and a clipboard.
"Fill these out while I go call the instructor please, sir."
Sasuke grabbed the papers out of her hands and sat himself down on one of the empty navy-blue seats. The anxiety he felt seconds ago was substituted with annoyance and embarrassment all in one.
The blue paint on the walls was having an odd calming effect on him so he settled his glare on the paper in his hands instead of the old woman at the desk.
"Daddy, it was the coolest thing ever! Naruto held me up and I was like…like…Superman! I swear!"
Sasuke flinched as the quiet atmosphere of the room was broken by a high-pitched voice. Keeping his head bowed, he glanced up at the perpetrator.
It was a young man and a brown eyed boy walking toward the receptionist's desk. The boy, probably about three or four, was excitedly pulling on the guy's hand blabbering away at an insane pace.
"And you know what else?" the boy said excitedly.
"What, Alex?" the man questioned, eyes gleaming with withheld amusement.
"Dad, I think Naruto might secretly be the real Superman," Alex stage-whispered, nodding his head.
"Oh, what makes you say that?"
"I just got a feeling," was the boy's simple reply.
Sasuke resisted the temptation to roll his eyes although he was secretly jealous of the boy's childish antics. Most of his childhood was stolen away from him by his brother.
The boy and father, still chatting amiably, left the building and Sasuke was left alone in the room once again. The oppressive silence returned and the black-haired boy sighed deeply for the second time tonight. So, he turned his attention back to the paperwork again.
Time pooled by slowly as Sasuke was about to sign his name indicating that the school wasn't liable for any deaths in their pool. Before he could start the curvaceous 'S', the red-haired, elderly receptionist meandered back in the room.
"The instructor will be here soon," she informed Sasuke, giving him another look-over before sitting down.
"Better be," Sasuke muttered under his breath, finally flourishing the paper with his signature.
"I'm done," He said while getting up and handing her the papers; successfully tripping over a flap in the carpet while he tried to get back to his seat.
Smooth, Uchiha, smooth.
"So, Mrs. Christine, where's the tyke?" a low baritone of a voice sounded just behind him.
"Well, you see…" the receptionist began.
"What's his name now? Uch-hi-huh?" the pleasant sounding voice cracked slightly as it tried to enunciate the syllables of Sasuke's last name.
"It's Uchiha," Sasuke corrected gruffly, praying to whatever-was-out-there that whoever was speaking wasn't his instructor.
Sasuke stood up onto his feet, turning to face his fate.
The gods certainly weren't on the Uchiha's side today.
Standing before him, was a 6'1", approximately 150 pounds of a Greek god-like looking creature. He had sunflower blond hair, wet and spiked so that some hair freefell around his eyes. His eyes were the same light blue color as the room surrounding him with three linear shaped scars on his cheeks. He was built like a swimmer with prominent abdominal muscles and a lean waist. He was wearing a full bodysuit, the kind that surfers wore, zipped down so that the suit was sitting on his hips.
Sasuke tried to regain his composure and muster up the dignity that he had left by extending his hand stiffly.
The blond only gawked slightly at the paper in his hands before shifting his blue-eyed gaze up to Sasuke again.
"But you're old."
"You've never had young men come in for lessons?" Sasuke asked coolly, crossing his arms defensively.
"We have, but never at your age, actually," the blonde-haired person stated, his tone blunt.
Sasuke squared his shoulders and looked the man up and down. He surmised that they were about the same age, maybe a year or two apart.
"Why aren't you young, beautiful and a woman?" Sasuke blurted out slightly louder than he intended.
"Sorry to disappoint you, tiger. But we've wasted enough time already. Let's go," the man turned and started walking through the double doors behind him.
Sasuke could only stare stonily at his bare back while he walked away.
"Funny, each first meeting with Naruto is never boring," the receptionist said, smiling fondly at Sasuke.
Sasuke grunted noncommittally, repositioning his bag on his shoulders and walking after the rude youth.
"You can get changed in there. I'll be waiting for you in the pool."
Sasuke found himself in front of an open, fairly clean blue locker. His bag was hanging haphazardly off his fingertips and there was an open stall for him to change at his right.
He could tell he was a hell of a lot closer to the pool than he was before, the smell of chlorine stinging the tips of his nostrils.
Sasuke couldn't decide if he was scared or not anymore. The appearance of the blond instructor had infuriated him into numbness but now that he was alone he felt exposed and restless.
He exhaled resignedly and stepped into the small, empty stall, carelessly throwing his bag on the bench. Sasuke knew now, more than ever, that he couldn't reveal any of his anxiety to the blond boy. The idiot seemed like the type of person to rub that kind of thing in his face. Then again, Sasuke had the exasperating urge to do the same to the moron and he'd only known him for less than five minutes.
The Uchiha stripped as quickly as he could, and pulled his never-been-used-before swimming shorts on. They were slightly loose around the waist, but he really didn't care at the minute. The chemical smell of the place was making him nauseous, and weak. He really didn't want to show weakness.