Disclaimer: I do not own any of the Naruto characters or places. I only own the characters from Earth/our world. Even then, they are based on actual friends of mine.

Author's Note: This story is dedicated to the above-mentioned friends. Without them, this story would not have taken shape. It began as one of those "what would I do if I was in that situation" questions. Since I'm the "writer" of the group, I was voted to put our silly ideas into order and create what you see here. So, here's to the "gang." I shall miss you while I'm at college!! For everyone else . . . enjoy!

Chapter 1: Another Day at School

KATIE

I glance worriedly up at the sky as I walk from my car to the school. It's been raining for the past few days, and though it isn't surprising that the clouds threaten to drop more rain, there is something strange about their coloration. Having spent several years of my life in Alabama, bad weather normally makes me nervous. Shivering despite my fleece coat, I hurry inside.

I sigh as I step into the warm building. Another day at school. Quickly, I spot my crazy group of friends in a corner of the lunchroom -- our normal morning hangout spot. I smile in spite of my weather-induced mood. One can't be gloomy with these people; it's impossible.

A squeal of laughter draws my attention as I trot down the stairs to the cafeteria commons. Kaitlyn had pounced on one of the guys, J.P., and now holds him in something close to a strangle-hold. Her crinkled blonde hair bounces as he struggles to get free for a moment before giving up and standing very still.

She laughs and coos playfully, "Itachi!"

I shed my bag and coat -- hot now that I'm inside -- and circle the table to grab one of her arms. "Oi, Kakashi!" I call over my shoulder. "Give me a hand with your student?"

Laughing, Sam pulls her hands from her hoodie pockets and helps me pry Kaitlyn off of J.P. I then pin the energetic freshman's arms to her sides.

"How many times must I tell you, Sakura?" I chide her in a mock-stern voice. "Itachi is not a doll."

J.P. rubs his throat. "No kidding. That hurt."

Alright, maybe I should explain. My name is Katie. I'm a senior at Knight High School and the unofficial "leader" of our little "gang" -- using the loose definition of the word, of course. We don't go around causing fights or vandalizing property; we aren't involved in any illegal activities. We're just a group of friends.

And nearly all of us are die-hard Naruto fans.

Last year, we noticed that some of our personalities matched those of Naruto character's (if loosely), and we started jokingly calling each other by those names. The joke became a tradition of sorts, and we "retired" some names when their counterparts graduated, gaining more with the new school year.

It's a strange tradition, I admit, but harmless and fun -- especially when personalities turn out to match characters of the opposite gender. For example: Sam is a girl; Sam is also Kakashi. Odd, but it suits her.

Kaitlyn/Sakura continues to struggle for a moment, giggling, but she falls limp and gives up when I don't let go. After extracting a promise that she'll "never do that again" -- a promise that will certainly be forgotten by the next morning -- I release her and wave cheerily at Jessica.

"Morning, Neji!"

She smiles and returns a quiet greeting. We had argued last year whether Jessica would be Neji or Hinata, but we decided that her quietness was more out of calm watchfulness than shyness. She's been Neji ever since.

Someone touches my shoulder and I turn to see Kevin, our resident Rock Lee, named for his bowl-cut and somewhat bushy brows. He also tends to have some overly-cheerful/flamboyant bouts. Kevin holds out his arms.

"Hey, Katie. Hug?" He goes along with our name tradition, but he doesn't use them so much.

I give him a tight hug in greeting and then return my attention to the lunch table. I can see Ashley and Jowan walking our way -- Temari and Tsunade respectfully. Smiling widely, I wave them over and fish my drawing tablet from my bag. I had finished a picture of Itachi (the anime/manga one) and Kimi (a fanfiction character of mine) the night before and am eager to get their opinions.

Kaitlyn bounces up to my side. "Oh! Didja draw something new? Can I see it?"

I glance over at Sam, who is standing behind the overexcited girl. "Did you give her sugar again?"

Sam sends me a wide-eyed innocent look. "Who? Me? Never!"

Jowan and Ashley drop their stuff on the table and I open my sketchbook, flipping past pages and finished and unfinished drawings until I come to the one I want to show them. As I tilt it down for the four of them to see, the building lights flare and vanish. A heartbeat passes before students start screaming and laughing like idiots. I sigh and roll my eyes in annoyance, snapping the book shut.

With that snap, a loud crackle splits the air like machine-gun fire. Real screams echo it as lightning flashes across the sky. The light sears through the high windows, casting jagged shadows and leaving spots dancing in my eyes.

My heart pounds as the light dies -- but doesn't really die. A jagged line of pure white lightning circles the ceiling, with intense blackness within the ring of light. People scatter to the walls; we're near the edge, so we remain still -- not that we can move anyway if we want to. Fear holds us in place.

Lightning crackles through the air like the infamous Chidori, making my hair stand on end. Strangely, though, no thunder follows. What is this? The question burns through my mind as harsh wind swirls within the lunchroom, somehow oddly visible in the radiating light of the ring. The term Rasengan flutters through my mind.

Teachers and school police officers begin to frantically usher students out of the commons, crying for order. Lightning snaps down from the ring edges, upturning tables and chairs. Heat burns my nostrils as smoke begins to fill the air. Kaitlyn clings to me. Sam backs behind us, covering her face with one arm. Ashley pushes Jowan closer to us, leaning past her to shake my arm.

"We have to get out of here!" Ashley yells above the crackling noise.

I nod, but as I move toward the stairs, another bolt strikes nearby. The tile buckles and cracks. We scream. The sketchbook slips from my hands. The lightning bolt bends and twists, suddenly streaking toward us. Light and sound bombards my senses. Kaitlyn's hands are torn from my arms. I lose Ashley too to the chaos.

Then all becomes darkness and silence.