Should have seen this coming... due to the fact that I'm stuck in the story, I won't be updating In My Place anytime soon. In fact, this puppy's DOA. I had an idea, but no story came of it. It's not a Naru/Saku fic, even though it places the two in a very unique position, and the fact of the matter is, the original drafts had Naruto messing with Ino and then something erupting between him and her while he's still stuck in Sakura's body, while another idea was Sakura's trying to get him to pull Sasuke for her; after all, he could do it since Sasuke pays him more attention. Still another idea was the fact that Sasuke's now getting annoyed because of Sakura's sudden disdain for him, and he starts pursuing her, not knowing it's Naruto. And somewhere in there, Hinata shows up.

Too many ideas, no story to back it up, unfortunately.

And yes, to show that this isn't just a lazy attempt of getting out of the story, I'm going to post both versions of Chapter 2 here. Here's the first "Completed" version, since this is the second draft, heavily rewritten.


In My Place

Chapter 2

Naruto woke up. "What the heck was that all about?" he mumbled, scratching himself. He coughed. "For a moment, I thought I was—"

"Sakura, come down for—" The room door swung open, and in the doorway stood a much older version of Sakura wearing an apron.

Both she and Naruto froze. Naruto froze because, 1) this wasn't a dream, and 2) if this wasn't a dream, then, he was really trapped inside of his crush's body. His mind started to reel as this new information came to him, locking him up in a system crash.

Sakura's mother froze because she found her daughter sitting on the floor. Night gown around her waist. Legs spread apart. Hand down in her—

"S-S-Sakura!"

Naruto jumped. "Huh, wha, who—"

"That's—" she started, glaring and face burning darkly. "—the most inappropriate thing to be, to be…" She growled, crushing her eyes tight. With a sudden fury, she spun around, placing her entire back in the doorway.

"Get dressed, and ready for breakfast."

And she was out the door.

Naruto blinked, looking confused as he tried to figure out who that lady was, and why was she so angry with him. He scratched himself, herself, and then paused. He looked down where his hand was, and blanched.

Oh, Sakura was so going to kill him if she finds out…


"Oh, my god…" Sakura mumbled as she looked at herself in the fractured mirror. It was in fact Naruto staring back at her, but she had no idea how this could happen. She looked at her bleeding hand, noticing that it looked decidedly better than what she remembered after trying to put it through the mirror before her. She flexed the fingers, wincing as it did very much hurt, and groaned.

"How the heck did this happen?" She tried remembering if she did anything weird last night, if someone came into her room at night and performed some kind of jutsu. It wasn't as if people switched bodies at random all the time!

She wondered what became of the person whose body she as now inhabiting.

Her horror intensified. What was happening with her own body right now?

Naruto examined himself, frowning and poking at his new body on occasion. He stood naked in the bath room as he waited for the water to warm up. Originally, he had slung a towel over his newly-acquired female body and tried to undress without looking, but after taking forever and having Sakura's mother call out to her, he grumbled, threw caution to the wind, and just looked at himself. Herself. Whatever. As he filed away information and sensations, he kept wondering if this was just the product of some truly spoiled food he ate last night.

"Wonder what's next?" he mumbled, his fingers plying his pale skin. He idly noted just how pale Sakura seemed to be in comparison to his old skin. It was something he never really gave much thought to until now. He then ran his fingers through her knotty mass of cotton candy hair. He grimaced. It would take forever to wash this thing!

Seeing the room steaming up, Naruto decided to duck into the shower. If anything, he'd do better on a full stomach, as he distinctly smelled breakfast being cooked.

Sakura looked at herself, blushing as she did so.

"So, this is what boys…" She swallowed, looking away from her current body's state of undress, crawling into the shower while trying not to think so much about what she was doing. She yelped as the frigid water hit her, and she twice cursed as she fumbled to make it warmer.

She had to get out of this mess, and soon!


Naruto came into the kitchen, dressed, though his hair was still damp. Stupid thing couldn't dry… Immediately, the older version of Sakura glanced at him, along with a thirtysomething year old man who seemed content to remain at the table waiting for the arrival of the eggs, rice, and miso. The woman seemed less than pleased, but wasn't looking at him in that horrid twist of fury and shame now.

"Hey, Sleepyhead," the man said, smiling slightly. "Ready for another day of ninja life?"

"Uh, yeah," Naruto said lamely.

The man looked at him worriedly. "You're not feeling ill, are you?"

"Of course not," the woman who was the spitting image of Sakura said haughtily, depositing food on the table. "She feels just fine, don't you, Sakura-chan?"

Naruto blinked, but didn't say anything. If this was a dream, he was glad he didn't have parents. If they were anything like Sakura's…

He shrugged inwardly and helped himself to breakfast. It was only after a moment of eating that he noticed the two people staring at him. He looked back, confused.

"Is there egg on my face?"

The man smiled wryly. "O-of course not, right, honey?"

The woman didn't smile at all, choosing to look away. "Just the fact that she's now stuffing herself like a pig."

Naruto blinked. What the hell was this woman's problem?

"Well, why would I starve myself to death for? I'm a ninja, and ninja have to eat."

The man grinned. "That's the spirit, Sakura-chan!"

The woman sipped at her cup of tea inconspicuously. "Stop encouraging her."

Naruto frowned darkly. "Okay, what the hell is wrong with you?" he said off the cuff.

Sakura's father gasped, coughing as he inhaled a bit of egg in so doing. Her mother's eyes flew wide, locking onto Naruto's. "That's not something a respectful young lady says, Sakura!"

"Who the he—"

"Sakura-chan! Apologize to your mother, right now!"

Naruto glared at the sweating man, who stiffened noticeably, but to his credit did not look away. He bit his tongue after a moment. Heaving a sigh, he just glanced at the woman. "Sorry… mom."

"That's mother," she said, anger shading her words. "Your apology is accepted." And she returned to her breakfast.

Naruto grumbled, eating his food, though it tasted like ash in his mouth.


Sakura grumbled, eating her breakfast, though she was going to be thoroughly sick of instant ramen and milk. True, he had other food, but most of it just wasn't appropriate for breakfast. Not to mention that everything was some variation of instant cook food.

Didn't Naruto know how to cook eggs or something of the like?

She fingered Naruto's orange outfit. This was by far the strangest feeling she ever had, putting on a boy's clothing. If anything, she would have imagined getting dressed in Sasuke's old clothing, but—

Sakura gasped. "Ohmygod, Sasuke!"

How the heck was he going to impress him, if she was stuck in Naruto's body? And what the heck was going on with hers? She shivered, though it wasn't from cold.


"Sakura-chan?"

The hyperactive ninja trapped in his teammate's body looked up to see Sakura's father wave him over as he was starting to walk out the door. He moved in his direction, though far from willing. As crazy as Sakura's mother was, her father was a total wimp. Him wanting to talk to him about whatever wasn't something he wanted to hear; he might belt the wimp out of him in irritation.

"Sakura-chan, you know I love you."

Naruto cautiously nodded, thinking it would be something his Sakura-chan would do. "So?"

He tried to ferret up the words, but they seemed to fail him. Then he shook his head. "I don't want you and your mother getting into another argument, that's all. It breaks my heart to see two lovely women that I love argue."

Naruto blinked. This was weird.

"Uh, I'll try. Dad."

And instantly, he was all smiles. "Good. Good. Good luck with your missions today, Sakura-chan!"

He grinned painfully happy for Sakura's father. "Sure thing, dad! Bye!" And soon as he could, he ran out of the nuthouse and onto the streets of Konoha. Sakura had to put up with this all the time?


Was this something Naruto had to deal with all the time? Sakura wondered to herself, as she made her way towards the meeting place Kakashi had set them up for today. Not that it'll matter if she was on time or not; Kakashi never showed up on time for anything. And with such lame excuses, too!

And it was all the better that her teacher was always late; being so used to the short way she had to travel left her decidedly unprepared for the longer trek from Naruto's apartment to the Konoha Academy. She could run, but didn't want to draw anymore icy silent glares of dispassionate contempt for her seemingly even existing.

What could he have done that would warrant such attention? She had bumped into someone earlier by accident, knocking loose her items. However, upon trying to help, her hand was slapped away, and she gave her a look that curdled the milk inside her stomach. That wasn't the only one, by far, but it was most certainly the memorable one in her short time of being an unwitting pawn in this bizarre day.

"Why does it seem like everyone hates Naruto so?" she muttered to herself.

Not receiving an answer, she decided to heck with it. She ran.

Sasuke was leaning against a shady tree, hands stuffed deep in his pockets. He heard the thumping footsteps, and disavowed them. He knew who they belonged to.

"S-Sasuke-kun…"

The last of the once-noble Uchiha clan looked up, puzzled. Before stood that obviously bright orange outfit and blonde head of hair. Blue eyes, and those strange birthmarks on his face. He scowled slightly.

"What's your game, Naruto?"

"Uh, I…" He seemed to be lost for words. He then looked to the ground, shoulders slumping. "Nothing."

He snorted, ignoring Naruto. Whatever he was up to, he wasn't in the mood to play with him. Another set of foot falls. He barely glanced to see it was Sakura.

"Oh, it's you, bastard…"

Both he and Naruto blinked, looking up at who they thought was Sakura. Pink hair, red dress, black shorts.

And munching an apple. With a small tray of entrees.

Sasuke could almost hear Naruto's eyes fall out of his head. His weren't much better off, though at least he could hide it quicker.

"Wh-wh-wh-wh—"

Sakura looked around the Uchiha, and her eyes almost popped out of her head. "Uh…" She scratched her head nervously, sweating slightly. "I, ah… got hungry. Hanshu-san's very nice, and gave me these things—" she held up the bag. "—at half-price." She shook her head in disbelief.

"Uh… Sakura?" He heard Naruto say. Sasuke glanced over his shoulder, his brows knitting in confusion.

"Yeeeeah, Naruto-chan?"

Obsidian eyes snapped back on Sakura, as she continued to scratch her head like that idiot.

"…c… can I see you… for a second?"

"Uh… sure… want a snack?"

"No… no snack…"

And without a word, Sasuke's two teammates walked away from the meeting place, disappearing behind trees. He blinked, confusion warring with relief, and surprisingly, anger.

Were they playing a joke on him?


"Sakura-chan?" Naruto said timidly, afraid of the answer he was going to get. If that was Sakura-chan in his body…

"Naruto?"

Naruto nodded slowly, fearfully. He was going to—

CRACK

The pain nearly made him pass out. Tears unbidden leaked down his face.

"Ow! Watch it with your damn fists, Sakura-chan!" He shivered, his entire body trying to buckle on itself. He almost pissed himself, it hurt so.

"Naruto! I'm sorry! I'm so sorry!" He could feel his body comforting him, checking him out. It was extremely bizarre a feeling, even by this day's standards. He looked up to see his old face warped in abject horror, as it examined him, lightly touching the bump forming on his skull. The electric pain nearly made him piss again.

"Your body's so damn fragile, Sakura-chan!" he hissed.

"Well, duh, I'm a girl!"

"…was a girl…" he muttered. She heard him and her face ashen.

"Naruto, how did this happen! What did you do!"

"What did I do! I kept hoping it was just indigestion and a really bad dream!" He clutched his head, wincing.

"…I'm sorry for hitting you, Naruto… I was just… what're we going to do?"

Naruto watched himself collapse onto the ground, already looking spent. He exhaled, trying to will away the pain. It wasn't working like he had hoped.

"I dunno… just don't hit me again, or I'll cry…"

"Oh, god, don't do that!" Sakura sat up straight away. "Do you have any idea what the people'll do to you—me! They hate me into oblivion as it is!"

"Huh?"

Sakura sighed, looking down at the ground. "I hadn't felt this much hate since I was a little girl…"

Naruto blinked. Pushing away the pain was a lot easier now. "What do you mean?"

"Ah…" she looked up, seeing her own face concerned about her. "It's… it's nothing?" She blushed slightly, embarrassed and unnerved. "I… have you always been hated like this before?"

Naruto looked a little depressed. "All my life."

"…why?"

For a moment, the young ninja squeezed his chin. Sakura couldn't help but notice how serious it made her look. She always thought it made Naruto look dumb whenever he did it in his body.

It was several moments before he released his thinking pose. "…okay, I guess I better tell you, since… you might have to face it or something."

"'Face it"?" Sakura's blonde brows furrowed. "What are you—"

"So, here you two are," a voice spoke softly behind them.

Naruto and Sakura both jumped in fright. "Don't do that, Kakashi-sensei!"

"My, my, my…" the masked jonin said, making a tsking sound.

"I-it's not what it looks like, Kakashi-sensei!" Sakura shouted, mortified. What if Sasuke-kun heard about this!

"I-it…" Naruto started, but grinned as he looked at himself. "It's exactly what it looks like, Kakashi-sensei… Believe it…"

For a moment, Kakashi considered falling over. Here he was with Sasuke's number one fan, admitting she and the scorn of her life might have been behaving… inappropriate? And Naruto wasn't bragging about it?

Sakura looked at herself, livid. "N-Na—"

"Naruto," Naruto started, hand on his hip as he played his female role to the utmost. "Don't be shy… Kakashi-sensei won't tell on us. Right, sensei…?"

Kakashi's one eye shifted over from a gaping Naruto to a cutely blushing Sakura and back again. It narrowed slightly.

"All right. Drop the disguises and report to the meeting place. Immediately." Without another word, Kakashi teleported out of the area.

"Uh…" Naruto started, his mouth open.

Sakura blinked, then smiled. "That's it! Let's just Transform into each other!"

Naruto looked at her, a smile creeping across his face. "Yeah, that'll work!"

"Then, what are we waiting for! Let's do it!"

They each formed the seal. "Transform!" And there was a huge cloud of smoke.

Naruto grinned, seeing his hands again. His skin, his clothes! He leapt for joy, turning to face his teammate. "Awesome, Sakura-chan! You're…" His joy fell off the face of the earth.

Sakura just looked like a horrible version of herself. Twisted, decrepit, fat and thin at the same time. She couldn't fool a blind man with a disguise like that!

"Sakura-chan?"

"Uh, heheh… let me try that again…" She made the sign again. "Transform!"

Another burst of smoke. Another crippled Sakura. It was pathetic, looking at this twisted girl stare at him like she was going to cry.

"I, I must be tired… I'll try it again."

Naruto felt the depression suck the life out of him. "Sakura-chan…"

"No, no, I got this.. just…" She concentrated harder, making the sign. "Transform!" Same smoke. Same results.

"Sakura-chan—"

"Transform!" POOF

"Transform!" POOF

"Trans-FORM!" POOF

"Sakura! Knock it off already!"

The warped mimicry of herself started to cry. "J, just some smoke… too much smoke from…"

"Sakura-chan."

She flinched, releasing the distorted version of herself. "Why?" A crying blond looked up at Naruto. He winced, seeing himself cry again after so many years.

"What happened to us…?" She slumped to her knees, hands flat on the grass. "What in the world happened to us?"

Naruto didn't reply, just slowly, awkwardly comforted her, slipping his arm around her shoulders as she started to sob.


Not a hundred feet away, Kakashi leaned against a tree, well-hidden from his students as he listened in on their conversation. He was right to trust his instincts. Not that it amounted to a lot.

Sighing inwardly, he had to go and break up their private moment. The Hokage had to be informed. And then, whatever happened to them be undone.

If it could be undone, that is…


The first version was a lot more silly, with Naruto pranking Ino, citing that "Naruto" might be in love with her. I ended up scrapping it shortly afterwards, settling for this version. I was inspired mainly by the opening scene with Sakura getting annoyed with her mother at the beginning of the third anime episode, and her lonely apartment in the credits of the Shippuden series, which signified that she moved out at some point. I then compiled it with the fact of Sakura trying to cover her forehead with her hair, which made it look even messier, and pulled together a really bitchy woman who's pretty oppressive towards Sakura, and wishes her to become a paragon of womanliness. Basic do as I say, not as I do person.

The naked from the waist-down scene was what catapulted me to doing it more serious. It was more a heavily-embarrassed woman and she was bit snippy at the breakfast table when I first wrote it. The Bitch took off after that.

After a few days of thinking and plotting, there was no way in hell I was going to play with this story. It was... too personal a tale to try and recreate. Not personal for me, but the character journey. Originally, Sakura's father mentions to Naruto that he's not Sakura's real father, who was a ninja that died versus the fox, and he was a poor substitute she married shortly afterwards. It was conversation that would bring her perfectionistic ass back into the scene. Essentially, the story became Sakura-centric, as it was her world we were largely exploring. Naruto eventually moves out and lives with Sakura in his apartment because he's not one to take shit for very long, and Sakura's mother hits every last one of his buttons. Sakura loses it, tries to force Naruto to apologize, goes to do it herself, and gets slamed for being who he is, the fox demon. A real emotional showdown. People are hurt, things change, and ultimately, I don't know what happens afterwards.

In short, it wasn't something I wanted to write. Angsty and moody, sure, but it's nothing like my other moody story, "For Better or For Worst-Case Scenario." At least that one was a lot of fun to throw down because it started off with the everpresent question whether or not Nabiki was pregnant after seducing Ranma due to a failed scheme and somehow getting married to him as a result. This one... it was just depressing. I rewrote the entire thing, which you'll see in the next section.


Sakura was the first to rise. She ran her fingers through her hair, but stopped. She then looked up as far as her eyes would let her, and pulled down on a lock.

Blonde. A strong, vibrant blonde. A Naruto blonde.

This wasn't a dream!

Sakura hopped up from her place on the floor. Her hand screamed in protest as she did so, making her look at it. For a moment, the wound seemed to be… shimmering, as the skin was already far healed. Twisting her foreign hand around, she could scarcely see where the blood had flown freely.

She frowned, not understanding. Then again, it was weird enough to be trapped in her antagonist's –

"Oh, my gosh!" Her eyes shot wider in horror. How the heck was she going to get Sasuke's attention if she was stuck in Naruto's body!

"How the heck did this happen?" Naruto wondered, not for the first or the one-hundredth and first time today. Looking at clothes in the bedroom closet, he wasn't even sure if he should be out in his state of… not-himness.

Someone had to have known just what happened to him, and he needed to get out before Sakura's parents figured out he was not her. There was no telling what would happen if that bit of unpleasantness came out, particularly with his –

His eyes nearly escaped his head. What was going on with his original body? What if the fox inside could somehow have done things so that he'll be able to escape?

Naruto hurridly threw on some clothes, and dashed out of the house. He blew past two people in the kitchen, not even slowing down to hear just what it was they were saying after him. Not that it mattered.

If the fox got out, it'd be disaster for Konoha, and everyone would blame him for it, too…

Sakura felt odd being half a head shorter than normal. She also hated the bright orange jumpsuit that Naruto wore every day; unfortunately, there was no other kind of clothing he had, aside from some shorts and run-of-the-mill tees. What was even odder in her viewpoint was the lack of things like bras and panties. She had none of that on, only wearing his boxers, and that wasn't the most comfortable feeling in the world. His… thing would flop around inside, making her jump as it felt completely wrong in the first place. What if she had to pee? Would she even be able to not pee on herself?

Thinking about things like that made the displaced girl blush. Seeing the first male of her life completely naked was the most bizarre experience she had ever had. The fact that it was Naruto she was seeing naked, as opposed to say Sasuke, made her cry. She didn't want that, to lose yet another first to the blond idiot, even when he wasn't in any position to do the screwing up in person. In fact, she was strongly tempted to just stay in his bed clothes until this ordeal was over and done with.

However, that would have meant that she would then have to go out in Naruto's bed clothes. Also, refusing to undress would mean that she'd start to smell, as she wasn't about to start showering fully clothed. If there's one thing that Sakura didn't want, even if in another person's body, it was to stink.

After all, she needed someone's help in undoing this, and it wouldn't hurt to be clean when requesting such a thing.

Naruto charged down the street frantically racing for his old apartment. He saw nothing but his destination, which would make it forgivable in his mind that he knocked into a few people. However, a slicing pain shook him out of that state, and he winced, clutching at his wound.

Sakura's body was very fragile, he numbly noted.

"Oh, my, I'm so sorry!" He blinked, seeing a female chunin kneeling down to level with the laceration across her shoulder. It was bleeding very quickly. Wasting not a second, she molded chakra, formed the seal, and laid a glowing emerald hand on the cut. It closed, the pain slowly fading to a dull ache.

"My, I'm so clumsy!" she admitted. "Someone just bumped into me, and next thing I knew, I had already cut you. Please don't report me!"

Naruto blinked again, looking at the brown-haired woman in an outfit very much like Iruka-sensei, her forehead protector undone to encumber the whole of her head. She seemed genuinely embarrassed. He blinked once more, as he recalled her face.

She was just another face in the crowd. A crowd of people that limned the walls at the beginning of his academy days. The silent glares and the discordant silence that seemed to echo after him, squeezing his insides, making them crumble into mush. He recalled her so clearly because she was quite pretty at the time. She, in fact, made him long for a mother who was as pretty as her. It was just surprising how much an unknown hate could uglify someone so, when she looked at him for the first time that day…

"Uh, what's your name?"

The woman paled considerably, trembling slightly. "Hamuri Raiko."

"Uh, well…"

She quickly asked, "What's your name?"

He paused for a second, his mind clearly reminding him that he wasn't in his normal body. "Haruno Sakura-chan." He then beamed widely at her, before running off. "Thanks, Raiko-san!" he called out without looking back.

He just heard her reply with something, but it wasn't in his mind to listen. The only thing that mattered at the moment was finding the fox and hopefully not finding it running amok.

Sakura shivered as two more villagers looked at her like they wanted to hang her upside down and skin her alive. While she knew Naruto had gathered a certain amount of enmity from pranking the village, she thought it was far and above the amount of loathing she had been receiving. And not just from the male population. Women glared at her in near, if not greater, proportions of hatred. It made her feel like she was on the outside looking at herself when she was busy despising the blond idiot.

Of course, being that she was trapped in the blond idiot's body… She promised herself that she would be a lot nicer to him from now on. No one deserved to feel like this, not even a happy-go-lucky guy like Naruto.

Her eyes caught hold of another head of blonde, this one being the color of ash, and she instantly perked up. "Ino!" she cried out, relief flooding her body.

The blonde girl looked startled, her pupilless eyes widening in recognition. "Naruto, what do you want?"

"I'm not Naruto, Ino-pig, I'm—"

WHAM

Sakura writhed, nursing her head, where a lump was already forming courtesy of Ino's fist making the connection.

"Who the hell said you can call me, you moron!"

"Ino, listen to me. I'm not Naruto."

The girl sighed, eyes rolling. "Oh, sure you're not. You're his evil twin, or something dumb like that."

"I'm stuck in Naruto's body, Ino-pig! I'm—"

WHAM

Sakura groaned, as she clutched her head again.

"You ever call me that again, and I'll make you suffer, moron…"

Sakura forced herself to look the girl in the eye, or her back, as she was now stalking off.

"Dammit, Ino, I'm Sakura!"

"Yeah, right, whatever…" She made a flippant gesture, never turning back around.

"Ino!" She ran up to catch the girl. The blonde glared hatefully at her.

"Look, Naruto, I don't have time for your stupid little games."

"You think this is a game! I went to bed in my own bed in my parents' house, only to wake up in Naruto's apartment, stuck here in his body like this!" She gestured at her runty form. "You gotta help me, Ino!"

Ino shook her head, and started to walk off. "Look, Naruto, you're crazy. Go see a councilor or something and leave me out of your games."

"Ino!"

The girl turned a corner and continued to make her way towards her destination, completely tuning Sakura out, much to the displaced girl's chagrin.

"Now what am I going to do?"

Naruto slid into a stop as he made it to his apartment floor. Fumbling for his keys, he belatedly realized he didn't have them. Thinking quickly, he slipped his girlish fingers into the doorframe, tugging at it a little.

A thin piece of wire dangled free, and he lifted up on it. A bronze key came free. One that quickly unlocked the door and found itself replaced into the fixture, also pushed back into place.

"Hey, anyone home?" he called out stupidly. He looked around, checking every nook and cranny of his place. It was clear that obviously someone was here this morning. His bed clothes were in the hamper, one of his orange jumpsuits was missing, and there was a plate and eating utensils in the sink. Not that he really noticed any of that; it was the smashed mirror and the small splatters of blood on the floor that clued him in.

What happened? Was the fox in his body already? This was bad… Nothing else looked out of place. The room wasn't tossed, or anything. In fact, it looked like someone had just showered in his bath, gotten dressed, and went out on their merry way.

His stomach gurgled, reminding him that he hadn't eaten anything either. He looked at the clock near his bed. Green eyes moved towards the cabinet. Back to the clock, and then to the stove.

"Why do I have to be so hungry now…" he grumbled. First he had to find himself, then save the village. If he was lucky, maybe he'd get to eat free ramen at Ichiraku's for life, all in gratitude for his heroics.

He nodded and started to head out. His stomach rumbled louder. Naruto blinked, feeling so weak on this next wave of hunger. He looked at the stove, the cabinet, and the clock. Vigorously, he shook his head clear.

"No, everyone's counting on me, whether they know it or not! Be strong, Uzumaki Naruto, believe it!"

Exhaling, he nodded firmly. He resolutely made his way out the door, firmly intent on closing it.

And then came the third rumbling.

Three minutes later, Naruto was hoofing down the street, a cup of instant ramen in each hand and a pair of chopsticks clenched tightly between his teeth. Why was Sakura's body so hungry anyway? Doesn't she eat enough at home?

Sakura sighed, slumped against a shop wall. So far, everyone she tried to talk to was either unresponsive, didn't believe her, or was just belligerent towards her. It was unreal.

"What on earth did Naruto do to everyone?" she muttered, looking at the crowds of people making their way up and down the street, wandering towards whatever destination in mind. Every adult that looked like they could have at least listen to her didn't; either that, or they snarled at her in some manner. Ninja were uncooperative; townsfolk worse.

She was starting to pull her hair out. What else could go wrong?

Her new stomach gurgled, and she nearly doubled over. Why did she have to be stuck in a body that demanded food at kunai point? Couldn't it be on a diet, too?

"You know, you've been hanging around that moron loser teammate of yours, Forehead."

Naruto ignored Ino as best as he could, chowing down on the instant ramen cups. Not that it was easy, mind you, as she liked to talk. A lot.

She also was carrying one of the noodle cups as he devoured the other. Not that she looked happy about being treated like furniture; however, it didn't nearly bother as much as he thought it would in retrospect. He knew that they were rivals or something, but from the way she was behaving, maybe it wasn't such a big deal or something.

Not that he really cared. The village could be under attack at any moment; he didn't have time to waste.

"I mean, who eats ramen in the morning, anyway?"

"Could you shut up, Ino?" he tried to say, but with a mouthful of noodles, it became next to indistinguishable.

The blonde girl shivered. "Oh, god, and your table manners are abysmal, too! I'm starting to wonder if that moron was telling the truth about you being stuck in his body…"

Naruto nearly choked. Ino slapped him hard on the back, helping him clear his windpipe.

"Say what!" Naruto shouted.

"I know. I mean, how lame can you be? I mean, he could have at least said he was the evil twin, like he did a few years ago."

"Like the—" He shot up an eyebrow. "You remember that?"

Ino blushed. "Uh, w-well, it just struck me… like, if Sasuke had an evil twin… you know… what would he be… you know, like?"

Naruto blinked. "Sasuke, with an evil twin? Wouldn't that make him the good twin, then?"

Ino blinked. "…say that again?"

"Ah, nothing, Ino-chan. Where did you see Naruto?"

Ino shook herself out of her disbelief long enough to tell him.

"Well, don't worry, I'll see that he doesn't pretend to be me, all right, believe it!"

He gobbled up the rest of the ramen, dumped the now empty container, and ran off.

Ino blinked, looking at the untouched cup of noodles in hand. She mildly shook her head.

"Naruto would've taken this one, too."

"Crap! I left my noodles with Ino!"

Naruto didn't stop to retrieve them. Right now, he had to find himself, and somehow stop him from wrecking his life.

Sakura mumbled as she walked down the street listlessly. Cold responses, glares, even a spark of killer intent… the last made Sakura shudder and run to the meeting ground. Stuck in Naruto's body or not, her team still required her to be present.

Just how she planned to explain her situation to Kakashi-sensei, she had no clue. Though with his chronic lateness, she was positive she'd have time enough to come up with something.


...and that's all I have there.

It was a LOT lighter than the previous version. I even got to reintegrate the Ino connection this time, which comes off a little oddly in the unpolished version here. Some of my favorite moments were of Sakura having to deal with a dingaling, and the key thing. I just thought, "You know, Naruto's a ninja; let's hide his spare like a ninja, a"nd thus, the door frame was cool, it was light.

It went nowhere. I'm not even certain why that was. The story just lost power after that moment.

So, until something gives, I won't be working on this tale. On the plus side, I'm still writing a story, though it's not exactly a Naru/Saku one. Give it a week, and it should be up. I'm almost done with it, it being a rather long oneshot for me. Basically, a hugeass fight during the Sasuke Retrieval, where I end up splicing one tale I wanted to write, and was crafting, right into the canon arc. Basically, AU characters stuck in canon times. And no, they're not ridiculously powerful, OCs, or both... at least, not the genin in the team. The jonin mentor, however... well, he's from another anime/manga, which I ended up condensing him into ninja terms. Even toned down, he make things look ridiculous, and I love him. You know, in a totally male platonic way.

Anyway. I want to thank everyone for sticking it out with me on this advent. This one didn't pan out, and I'm starting to agree with R.L. Stine. He's a title-first guy. If he has an idea, and not a good title for it, he dumps the whole thing. He's also successful, so go for what works, I say...

...Definitely needed a better title for this tale. Definitely