DISCLAIMER – Naruto and Naruto Shippuden belongs to Kishimoto alone. Anything resembling this fic is purely coincidence
"Friendship with oneself is all-important because without it, one cannot be friends with anyone else in the world." -Eleanor Roosevelt
In the village of Konoha, there was a clan, considered to be the most powerful of them all. They were known as the Uchiha Clan. This powerful clan was most revered by almost every ninja living in Konoha, including Inuzukas, the Akimichis, even the Hyuugas. Among the members of this respected, powerful clan, there was a young teenage boy named Itachi, who was considered the most gifted of the Uchihas.
In a forest, not too far from the Konoha Village, Itachi stood in the middle of a clearing, surrounded by the woods. Hiding from the woods was his brother, Uchiha Sasuke. Sasuke grew up looking up to Itachi. Sasuke considered his brother a hero, compared to the Hokages before him. Even now, Sasuke continues to dream about being as great as his brother.
Sasuke helped Itachi by setting up eight targets around the forest zone, with the last one hiding behind a big rock, out of Itachi's sight. Itachi was perfectly calm. Nothing was bothering him. Not the birds, not the winds blowing, nothing. Then, with quick reflexes, Itachi leapt into the air with kunais between his fingers. Itachi's body stayed in mid-air as he threw his kunai with perfect precision. Itachi then took out two more kunais and threw them towards the two kunais in his line of vision. The two kunais deflected off from the first two, causing the set of kunais to fly off in a diagonal direction. As Itachi landed perfectly on the ground, the kunais that he projected hit dead center on each target Sasuke had set up.
Sasuke looked at the target behind the big rock in amazement. "Incredible…" Sasuke thought in amazement, "That was awesome, Brother! You even hit the one in this rock's blind spot! All right! It's my turn now!" Sasuke declared, drawing his own kunais.
"Sasuke, let's head on home," Itachi called out.
"Brother, you said you were going to teach me this move," pouted Sasuke.
"I have a mission to attend to later on," said Itachi, "I need to prepare for it."
"Tch, you're a liar," grumbled Sasuke.
Itachi smiled in amusement as seeing his brother pouting. The elder Uchiha brother motioned for Sasuke to come toward him. Seeing this signal, Sasuke excitedly ran towards his brother, ready to learn this unique move. "Sorry, Sasuke. Maybe next time, okay?" Itachi said, poking Sasuke in the forehead as soon as he was in range.
Once again, Sasuke pouted at this usual habit. Itachi would always poke Sasuke in the forehead whenever he had to blow off a promise. "Just watch me!" Sasuke declared, readying his kunais.
Sasuke ran full speed to try to pull off the same move his brother made. "Hey! Don't overdo it!" Itachi yelled. Itachi's words fell on deaf ears, unfortunately. Sasuke kept running until he accidentally tripped, scraping his knee on the way.
Within the village of Konoha, there was a pink-haired little girl who carried small bags of supplies. The little girl entered his apartment home, where she found her mother chopping some vegetables.
"Ah, welcome home, Sakura!" the mother greeted.
"Hi, Mom!" Sakura greeted back to her mother.
"Where have you been?" asked the mother, "You need to sleep early for tomorrow."
Sakura set her bags on the table, inspecting all the items she bought: pencils, pens, markers, papers, etc. "Sorry, Mom, but I just had to get some supplies for my first day at the academy," explained Sakura, "I'm just so excited about entering!"
"Well, I'm happy for you, my dear," the mother smiled.
"Thanks, Mom," said Sakura.
"Although, I can't believe you're the only one in our family that's going to be a kunoichi. Are you sure you're up for this?" asked the mother.
"I'll admit, I'm a little nervous. What if I'm not strong enough? What if I don't fit in?" asked the concerned Sakura.
The mother set her kitchen knife down on her cutting board and placed a kind hand on her shoulder. "Don't you worry, Sakura," the mother assured, "Just be yourself, and everything will be fine. I promise."
"…Yeah, you're right, Mom," Sakura smiled.
"Now, let's wait for your father to come home, and we'll have dinner together," announced the mother.
"Sounds good!" declared Sakura.
Elsewhere, Itachi was giving Sasuke a piggyback ride. Considering that Sasuke injured his knee a bit, Sasuke was in no position to walk for a while. But while Sasuke was being carried home, he couldn't help but smile to himself. This strange behavior caught Itachi's attention.
"What are you so happy about? Are you happy that you injured your knee and that I'm carrying you home?" Itachi asked.
"No, it's not that," Sasuke answered, "I'm just excited about how I'll be entering the academy tomorrow, that's all." Sasuke smiled to himself in determination. "When I enter, I'm going to give it my all…so that Dad can notice me. He'll count on me, just like Brother." Sasuke thought to himself.
Itachi carried Sasuke home for a lot of minutes. In this time, Sasuke's knee should probably heal by now.
"You can put me down, Brother. I can walk now," Sasuke reasoned with his brother.
"Don't strain yourself, Sasuke," Itachi advised while continuing to carry his little brother. As he walked, Sasuke caught the sight of something, holding a surprised expression on his face. "What is it?" asked Itachi.
Sasuke and Itachi were standing before one of the most well known buildings in Konoha, the Konoha Military Police Headquarters. "Isn't this where Dad works?" asked Sasuke. Itachi nodded in response to Sasuke's question. "I was wondering, why does the Police Headquarters have the symbol of the Uchiha Clan on their emblem?"
"Oh, you never knew about it?" asked Itachi.
"Nope," he answered.
"Well, back then, it was our ancestors in the Uchiha Clan who first founded the Military Police," Itachi explained, "That's why the Police Headquarters has our symbol on their emblem. When it was first founded, the Uchiha Clan were in charge of keeping the peace within the village. Our symbol represents the pride of our clan. Our clan may be small, but even today; most of our people are part of the first squad here, maintaining peace and order in the village. And who better to stop a criminal ninja, lurking within our village, than the Uchiha."
Hearing this story caused Sasuke to be so amazed about their father's responsibility. "Wow. Dad is amazing!" said Sasuke. Itachi continued his walk with Sasuke. "Are you planning on joining the force?"
"You know, I haven't decided on that yet," Itachi answered.
"You should! When I grow up, I'm going to join the force, too!" announced the excited Sasuke, "And Dad's going to be with me at the Academy Entrance Ceremony. It's the first step towards my dream."
Meanwhile, back at Sakura's apartment, Sakura helped her mother cook, while she was waiting for her father to come back home. For Sakura's age, she was a natural cook. She skillfully helped chop some of the vegetables that her mother had laid out, while she was waiting for her daughter and her husband. Sakura was also able to prepare boiling water, which she was need to make beef stock.
"Is Dad coming home late tonight?" asked Sakura.
"Oh, you know your father," the mother said while cutting some beef, "His store gets awfully busy at this time of the day."
"I'm excited about being with him tomorrow, though," Sakura smiled while putting the chopped vegetables in the stock, "He's going to attend the Academy Entrance Ceremony with us."
"Your father would never miss this Ceremony for his shop," the mother smiled to her daughter, "Although he doesn't agree with your decision for being a kunoichi, he still supports you. Which reminds me, why do you want to become a kunoichi in the first place?"
"I haven't really decided on that, yet," answered Sakura, "Half of the reason is so I can learn to stick up for myself."
"What about the other half?" asked the mother.
"That I haven't decided on yet," said Sakura, as she stirred the now-created-soup, "But you know what? I know I'm bound to find it in the Academy."
"Well, I expect nothing but the best from you," the mother encouraged.
The two girls heard a knock on their door. While Sakura was finishing up the soup for her and her family, the mother removed her apron and went to the front door. At the front door, her husband emerged from the outside and walked in, hugging his wife.
"I'm sorry I'm late, Honey," the father apologized, "It was hard to get my customers out of the store."
"That's okay, Dear. Sakura and I made us some soup. Would you like some?" the mother offered.
"Oh yes, I'm starving!" the father smiled, bringing his wife with him to the kitchen.
In the kitchen, he found that Sakura had set up the table with their soup ready.
"Hi, Dad!" Sakura greeted.
"Hello, Sakura! Are you ready for tomorrow?" greeted her father.
"Yeah, I can't believe it's tomorrow," said the excited Sakura, "Are you really going to be there?"
"My customers can either wait for my store to open or get themselves a life. My daughter's Entrance Ceremony is top priority!" her father declared proudly.
Sakura and her parents burst into a small laughter, but Sakura smiled to her father. "Thanks, Dad."
"Now, come on! It's going to be a big day for you, Sakura. Eat up while you can!" said the father.
Later that late afternoon, Sasuke and Itachi finally reached home, where they found their father waiting with a stern look on his face and his arms crossed.
"You're late," said Fugaku, "Where have you been? I need to talk to you, Itachi. Come with me."
Fugaku led his sons to the family room, which oversaw the beautiful garden. Sasuke and Itachi sat at the doorway, with Fugaku sitting crossed legged inside the family room.
"You are truly my son," Fugaku praised Itachi, "You've made it this far after earning the chuunin rank half a year ago. I've decided to accompany you on tomorrow's mission."
"Tomorrow?" Sasuke thought in shock.
"If successful, you're ascension to the rank of ANBU will be guaranteed," said Fugaku, "You understand that, don't you?" he asked as he activated his Sharingan.
"There's no need to worry, Father," assured Itachi, "More importantly…" Itachi faced his brother, as if he was prodding him to speak up.
Taking this signal, Sasuke immediately began to speak up. "Um…Father…about tomorrow…"
"Tomorrow's mission will not only benefit you, but it will also benefit the Uchiha Clan as well," Fugaku interrupted.
Discouraged by his father's declaration, Sasuke held his head down in sorrow. His father doesn't care about his Entrance Ceremony. Already, Sasuke's first part of his dream was already crushed.
Itachi saw the sadness that Sasuke tried to hide. "I'm afraid I can't attend tomorrow's mission," Itachi spoke up.
"What!?" Fugaku almost yelled in outrage, "Are you insane!? You know how important this mission is!"
"Tomorrow, I'm attending Sasuke's Academy Entrance Ceremony," Itachi announced. Hearing this surprised both Sasuke and Fugaku. "It's customary for a relative to attend Academy Entrance Ceremony. Didn't you get a memo?"
Fugaku never realized his other son's Ceremony and sighed in defeat. "Very well. I'll attend the Ceremony."
Fugaku walked out of the family room, followed by his Uchiha sons.
"Sasuke, be sure to ice down your knee, okay?" advised Itachi.
"……Sure," replied Sasuke. Sasuke knew he should be happy that his father will attend the Ceremony, but he was still saddened that his father still doesn't acknowledge him, but his elder brother. "Brother, you're still far away from me…"
In the evening, Sakura was dressed in her PJs, having herself a peaceful sleep.
During her sleep, she began to have a dream. She found herself standing in an unknown world. No one was around. In a distance, she found a boy, about her age, standing with his back turned to her. She was about to approach the boy, until the boy finally disappeared from her sight.
"Who was that guy?" asked Sakura.
In the next morning, on the Academy ground, new students stood around in a formation, with the Third Hokage standing before them, as well as chuunins behind him. Next to the students, stood the parents or relatives attending the Ceremony to show their support.
"Congratulations to you all for entering the Academy," the Hokage announced to the students, "I expect you all to do your best on your dedication to being a shinobi. And I expect nothing but your full support to Konoha."
While hearing the Hokage's speech, Sasuke turned his head to the parents, where he found his father standing among them. Fugaku only held an expressionless look, as if he were uninterested in attending the ceremony, causing Sasuke to feel a bit saddened. Why couldn't he be happy for his youngest son?
After the Hokage's speech, parents came to their children to wish them luck or to encourage them. Fugaku introduced Sasuke to a chuunin instructor.
"This reminds me of when I first took Itachi-kun under my wing," the chuunin recalled, "They truly are brothers." Sasuke smiled in response to hearing the chuunin praise him.
"Please look after him, as you did for Itachi," Fugaku requested.
"That won't be necessary, sir. I'm betting he's a natural genius. There are no students like this one around," the chuunin smiled.
"You give us too much credit," said Fugaku.
"No, not at all," replied the chuunin, "I am expecting a lot from you, Sasuke."
"Become a fine ninja, just like your brother," Fugaku encouraged.
Hearing this "encouragement" only saddened Sasuke. He just wants another "Itachi." Even though he didn't say it, he was still holding Itachi to the highest regard. "Okay…" Sasuke gave a monotone reply.
His time in the Academy was going smoothly. Like the Uchiha that he is, Sasuke paid full attention to the lectures, like a dedicated honors student.
Recess finally hit and half of the class happily ran out of the classroom to play outside. Sasuke on the other hand wasn't much of a playground person. Behind him, he heard a couple of kids musing that he was an Uchiha, saying that he'll most likely pass the class with flying colors. Annoyed, Sasuke stood up from his chair and walked out of the classroom to get some fresh air.
Outside of the classroom, Sasuke was only spending most of his recess by throwing shurikens at targets. Sasuke threw these weapons with full force into the circle. After throwing them about five or ten times, he panted out of exhaustion.
"Why doesn't Dad acknowledge me?" asked the stressed Uchiha. Sasuke continued to relieve his stress by throwing more shurikens into the targets.
Elsewhere, on the Academy grounds, Sakura had a small tray of her lunch. She sat on a bench, enjoying the day with an untouched delicious meal. As she was about to enjoy this tasty meal that her mother made, she never noticed four boys approaching her quietly. From out of nowhere, the first boy knocked her lunch out of her hands unceremoniously. The four boys merely laughed at her for the loss of her lunch.
"Hey! What was that for!? You didn't have to do that you jerks!" Sakura yelled.
"Oh, and what are you going to do about it, huh?" the first boy asked, challenging her. The first boy roughly pushed her into the second boy.
"Yeah, whatcha goin' to do about it, Pinky?" the second boy asked while pushing her to the third one.
"You gonna cry?" the third boy mocked as he pushed her into the fourth one.
"Aw, the crybaby is going to cry!" the fourth boy laughed.
Sakura was caught being literally pushed around by the boys, who continued to torment her and laugh at her. "Stop it!"
"'Stop it!'" the second boy mocked.
"Leave me alone!" Sakura cried.
"Why don't you make us!" the fourth boy laughed.
While Sasuke was practicing throwing his shurikens, his practice was cut short when he heard a girl screaming.
"What's going on?" Sasuke thought.
Sasuke dropped everything on the ground and ran to where the source of the screaming was. Rounding a corner, he found four boys ruthlessly pushing a pink-haired girl around.
"Hey, leave her alone!" Sasuke demanded.
The pushing was put to a halt. The girl was caught in the first boy's hands, who rudely throws pushes her aside. The girl fell to the ground, leaving the boys to approach Sasuke.
"Listen up, pal, this is our territory! Why don't you just run along and play with your toys?" the first boy challenged Sasuke.
"Yeah, go home to mommy!" the third boy mocked.
Sasuke merely stared at them with a cold look on his face.
"Aw, I think he's about to cry!" the first boy mocked. The first boy approached Sasuke in the face and gestured crying. "Are you gonna cry?" the boy mocked.
"I should ask you the same thing," Sasuke replied calmly. Without warning, Sasuke threw a mean right hook to the first boy's face.
The first boy fell to the ground, and much to his humiliation, the first boy was about to burst into tears, due to the pain. The boys tried to get their revenge on the Uchiha, but unfortunately, they had no idea who they were messing with. Sasuke tripped the first incoming bully; the next one, Sasuke countered the boy's punch and flipped him over, and the last one tried to charge at Sasuke. Using his wits, Sasuke immediately moved out of the way, making the third boy run into a wall.
"L…l…let's…g…get out of here!" the first boy declared to his team, whilst trying to fight back his tears. Fearing Sasuke, the boys immediately followed their leader and ran away.
Sasuke sighed in relief and turned around to find the pink-haired girl on the ground. He heard some sniffles coming from her. The Uchiha approached the girl and knelt down to her.
"It's okay, now," assured Sasuke, "They're gone. Are you all right?"
"I…I think so…" the little girl sniffled.
Sasuke stood up from the ground and offered her a hand. "Come on, let me help you up."
The little girl took Sasuke's hand and looked up to see his face. Upon see the Uchiha's face, the little girl felt her cheeks turning red. "…He's so…cute…" the little girl thought to herself.
"What did those guys want with you?" asked Sasuke.
The little girl immediately snapped out of her state and replied to Sasuke, wiping away her tears. "I don't know. They just started picking on me."
"Those jerks…" Sasuke muttered, "I see they also ruined her lunch."
"Yeah, my mom made that for me," the girl sighed.
Sasuke felt sorry for the girl, seeing as how she was just picked on by the four bullies, not to mention having her untouched lunch ruined. Then, he immediately had an idea. "Hey, I know it's not much, but how about I treat you to a snack after school?" Sasuke offered.
The little girl was surprised by Sasuke's generous offer. "You…treat me?" asked the surprised girl.
"Sure! I know a place that you might like," said Sasuke, "How about it? You interested?"
"I…I'd like to!" the girl smiled.
"Oh, that's right, I didn't tell you my name. I'm Uchiha Sasuke. What's yours?" Sasuke asked.
"Sakura. Haruno Sakura. It's nice to meet you, Sasuke-kun," Sakura greeted.
School got out and Sasuke and Sakura walked together towards the Uchiha Complex, where Sasuke found his Aunt and Uncle working at their bakery shop. Sasuke and Sakura walked into the bakery shop together, where his aunt greeted him.
"Ah, Sasuke-chan! Welcome!" Uruchi greeted.
"Hi, Auntie!" Sasuke greeted back.
His aunt noticed Sakura behind him. "Oh, who's this little girl? Is she what I think she is?" Uruchi teased.
"Auntie…" Sasuke chuckled, "This is my friend, Sakura. I was hoping I'd treat her to one of your cakes, if that's okay?"
"Of course, Sasuke-chan. Anything for you and your friend," Uruchi smiled, "Honey, can you get me two pieces of cheesecakes?"
"Two pieces? Who are they for?" asked Teyaki, who was working in the back.
"For Sasuke-chan and his friend," replied Uruchi.
Teyaki smiled. "A friend, eh? Would that be a—"
"Uncle!" Sasuke called out, cutting him off.
Teyaki chuckled out of amusement at hearing Sasuke interrupting him. "All right, all right. I'll have your cheesecakes in just a moment."
Teyaki gave the cheesecakes to the two young children. Uruchi assured Sasuke that it was on the house. After Sasuke thanked his aunt and uncle, Sasuke stepped out of the shop with Sakura, and the two enjoyed the sweet cakes.
"Wow! This is very good!" Sakura said happily.
"I always stop here for a snack after school," said Sasuke.
"Your aunt and uncle are really nice," Sakura complimented, "By the way, you said you're 'Uchiha,' right?"
"Yeah, that's right," replied Sasuke.
"I've heard of that name before," said Sakura, "My dad told me that you guys are the best of the best."
"Well, I'm not so sure about that, but we do get a lot of praises," Sasuke said, scratching his head.
Sakura smiled in amusement. "By the way, what time is it?"
Sasuke pulled his left sleeve up and looked at his watch. "It's about 4:00," Sasuke answered.
"4:00!? Oh, I forgot! I'm suppose to help my mom make dinner tonight!" Sakura said in a slight panic.
"Oh, sorry you stood out so late," Sasuke apologized, "Do you want me to walk you home?"
"Oh, no, that's okay," assured Sakura, "Thanks anyway." Sakura began to walk out of the Uchiha Complex, but stopped at the gate. "Um, Sasuke-kun, can I ask you something?"
"Sure, what is it?" questioned Sasuke.
"Do you know a lot about ninjitsu, taijustu, and all those other things we need to know?" she asked.
"I know quite a few, yeah," answered Sasuke.
"I was wondering, would it be all right if you maybe tutored me every once in a while?" she asked shyly, "We can study together. You can teach me things, and I can teach you something?"
"Well, I don't know if there's anything you can teach me, but as for teaching you those things, sure. Why not?" Sasuke smiled.
"Oh, thank you! You're the best, 'Sasuke-sensei!'" Sakura smiled.
Sasuke and Sakura burst into laughter from hearing "Sasuke-sensei." Sakura waved goodbye to Sasuke before she parted home, leaving Sasuke to head towards his house, with a smile on his face.
Despite not having his father acknowledge him, he did gain something in his first day in the Academy. He gained a friend.
To be continued...
A/N - I apologize if this fic is bad. Honestly, writing is not really my forte. Expect delays since I'm also attending college. Until then, stay tuned...