A/N: It's been a long time coming! Sorry for the wait, enjoy the chapter! :)


Chapter 3: Encounters


It totally sucks that I can't come visit this summer. But mother says that dad needs her by his side more than ever…and somehow, they've stopped fighting for a while. Then it comes back some days, louder than ever. Sasuke, I wish I could come and just stay in Konoha. I like my friends here, but it's just not the same as you. There's a reason you're my best friend, I just don't know why. Just that, you are. And I swear that when I finally come back-and you hug me and welcome me-I'll discover why. I'll make sure to be that best friend of yours again!

-with love,


Sakura waved her arms frantically in the air, smiling as a small laugh escaped her lips. The moving truck stopped at a rather sharp halt that had made Sakura giggle again. She cupped her hands around her mouth, "Nice parking, Shizune!" The truck was half up the sidewalk curb while the rest lugged awkwardly behind it.

Sakura briefly glanced around the neighborhood, they hadn't exactly been quiet. She idly wondered if the neighbors were staring at them right now. Shizune opened the door before hopping out, a small yelp escaping her lips at the sudden drop.

Tsunade, upon hearing noises, wondered outside. "Is she here?" she asked, her eyes darting around until they landed on the crooked parked semi and the black haired disheveled Shizune. She smirked widely, "Nice parking Shizune."

The black haired female blushed, breaking into a sigh. "Well, the workers were taking too long on their unnecessary break and I figured you would be mad if the truck didn't get here on time."

Tsunade sighed as well, "You know me perfectly, and this just means I won't pay them a single penny!" She smiled, placing her hands on her hips. "What a great start to the day!"

Sakura ran a hand through her hair, shaking her head. "How did you manage to get it all the way here?" she asked with a small sigh.

Shizune smiled back, glancing proudly over her shoulder. "Well, it wasn't easy…" she glanced back, "But I learn pretty quick."

Tsunade laughed, "That you do. Now let's get to unpacking…this house is very eerie when there's nothing in it."

Sakura nodded in agreement and Shizune laughed softly. "Well then, come on. I need help opening the back." Sakura smiled softly at her Aunt and Shizune, before jogging to catch up to them.

Sasuke rubbed his head, his fingers digging into his scalp to try and apply relief to the headache. He was dreaming too pleasantly. Too many thoughts of her, he couldn't handle that. Throwing his feet off the side of the bed, he got up for the day. Break feast should be ready soon and he wanted to get something in his stomach. Perhaps that would take his mind off of things.

Wandering downstairs, he found that his mother had finished up a big break feast for the family. A coffee mug cupped in her hands as she glanced out the kitchen window to the neighbors across the street. Sasuke tried to mask his expression of discontent.

Sasuke's mother glanced at him and smiled, "Are you going to stay for break feast?" she asked, Sasuke could see the hope glimmer in her eyes. He figured that his father and older brother had skipped out. Sasuke nodded quietly before plopping himself down in the chair and grabbing a piece of toast.

"Do you know if Naruto is going to swing by for break feast too?" she asked, tilting her head to the side. "I don't want to waste this food…"

"Don't make so much next time." he answered simply, "And I don't know. That knucklehead is a drifter, you know that."

Sasuke's mother shrugged and laughed lightly, trying to keep from showing her sadness. "That's right. Well I hope he does, otherwise I'll have to invite over Haruno."

Sasuke's eyes twitched lightly, he hoped for the first time in his life that Naruto would show his face. "On second thought, he is going to show up." he murmured.

Sasuke's mother pursed her lips, her hands perched on her hips, "Well you just said-" Sasuke stared hard at his empty glass set before him. His mother stopped as she took note of his expression and shrugged it off. "Alright, son."

Hearing the slight hitch in his mother's voice made him relax and feel guilty. He couldn't possibly blame his mother for being the kind person she was. It was more of fate's fault. On a more personal level, it was Haruno's fathers fault for not being able to own up to his responsibilities of taking care of his own daughter.

He scoffed softly under his breath, taking a bite out of his toast. As the first bite of toast slide down his throat and settled in his stomach, he began to let his mind wander again. Small memories of his childhood, the good times with Sakura, the kind he repressed for so long.

Sasuke furrowed his brow as he caught himself, glaring hard once again but at his food rather than the cup. He pushed away his plate, "Never mind. I'm not hungry." he murmured, standing up and excusing himself.

Sasuke's mother furrowed her own brows and nodded. "Okay." she glanced down at his once bitten toast and sighed. "Oh, Sasuke."

"Thanks Mama U! You always make the best waffles!" Naruto smirked and bounced up the stairs. "Heey, Sasuke! Open up the door!" Naruto pounded the familiar door.

Sasuke opened the door and glared hard at Naruto, "Not so loud, you idiot." he grumbled. Naruto raised his eyebrows, lifting his hands in the air. "And haven't you heard of eating in the kitchen?" he asked, noticing the waffle in his hand.

Naruto grinned, taking a bite out of his waffle. "Yeaaah, had I known, I woulda been here earlier! But I digress, we're gonna be late!" he wiped his mouth with the back of his hand, "besides, you have to see something!"

Sasuke narrowed his eyes, but came to the conclusion that any kind of distraction was worth it. "Fine."

"Are you sure, Sakura?"

Shizune smiled softly, pushing a couple of stacked plates into the overhead cabinet. "I'm sure it'll be okay if you take the day off, it's all kind of sudden as it is."

Sakura paused slightly, before giving a final nod and smile back to Shizune. "Yeah, I'm sure." She once again went through her backpack before giving it a mental okay and zipped it up. If she were really honest, she'd tell them that she wasn't prepared. Not by a long shot. But she knew it was better to jump in head first then try and take her time.

Not to mention, she was good when it came to school. She could use school as a distraction, and it seemed the better alternative to unloading and unpacking. Tsunade came in and placed another box on the kitchen table. "And this is the last box for the kitchen!" she sighed dramatically. "This is going to take forever without those damn movers…"

She glanced at Sakura and tried hard not to look perplexed or concerned, "Sakura…are you sure you want to do this?" she asked. Sakura repressed the frown and instead forced a smile.

"Yes, I am Tsunade. If I don't do it now, I won't want to ever—honestly." Tsunade stared into Sakura's eyes, trying hard to uncover anything hidden but instead seemed to give up and shrugged.

"Alright, kid. You know best."

Sakura couldn't help but laugh, and Tsunade cracked a smile. "Alright now, if you're all ready to go I'll drop you off before I do anything else with these damn…boxes."

Shizune raised an eyebrow at Tsunade, "How about I go and take Sakura, and you wait here for the movers?" she smiled when in turn Tsunade raised her eyebrows. "Listen, I know you old friend, and it's only a matter of time before you stay out as long as Sakura and put off all this work."

Tsunade laughed heartedly, "Ooh, old friend do you really distrust me so much?" she gave a long sigh, "Alright, it's definitely for the best interest in everyone. So fine, I'll stay. Besides, I need to give those movers a piece of my mind and put them to work." She cracked her knuckles, "Now off you go Sakura, before this place gets busy…"

Sakura smiled softly, "See you after school, then. Love you." She waved and Tsunade gave them both a small smile in return.

"Have a good day, kid." When Shizune ushered Sakura outside and closed the door Tsunade slumped. "Lucky, lucky. Never did I think I'd actually miss going to school….ugh."

Tsunade glanced around at the unopened boxes, then out the window to Shizune as they drove off and then to the semi moving truck. Giving another winded sigh she glanced at the clock on the wall before saying to no one but herself, "Well, time for a break!" and heading outside to smoke.

"So what is it?"

"Just wait, Sasuke. Great things take patience!" Naruto grinned mischievously. "And this is the funniest thing! …are you sure you haven't seen anything weird this morning?" he asked.

Sasuke gave Naruto a glare, "I don't normally go looking for weird things in the morning, if ever, Naruto."

Naruto furrowed his brow before shaking his head. "Okaaaay, whatever." He smirked again, "Will you at least close your eyes 'til I say to open them?"

Sasuke gave a glare again to Naruto before he put his hands in defeat, "Okay, okay." He grumbled a few things about trust under his breath before he began to pantomime drumming, "Drum roll pleeeeease!" he grinned and motioned across the street.

Sasuke seemed to stare for a really long time, trying to process if he was really seeing what was in front of them. A long semi-truck, probably full of furniture and other oddly possessions, was parked a-skewed along the curb. The front wheel of the trailer was hiked up onto the curb, automatically drawing attention to it.

The trail behind the truck was in disarray, leaving the real story to the imaginations of the neighbors. Several trash cans lie on their sides, while some rolled into neighboring yards and a few bags ripped open. Sasuke took note of the bits of trash that was blowing onto multiple yards and the street.

Naruto glanced at Sasuke and he nudged him, "Pretty awesome, huh?" he asked, his voice hitching slightly as he repressed a laugh, "It's just a damn shame I didn't have a hand in this." He sighed.

Sasuke didn't acknowledge Naruto, only started walking towards the truck. He couldn't explain it, but he felt like he had to check it out himself. Before he realized it, his hand was already touching the side of the truck. He smirked slightly, it wasn't a figment.

The truck really was parked right across the street from his house. The truck really was going to cause a ruckus in the otherwise quiet neighborhood. Public disturbances were a bit entertaining to him, but he would never admit it.

His smirk immediately fell when the other part of the realization sunk in. She was officially his neighbor again and inevitably back in his life. He felt a twinge in his stomach, and anger quickly bubbled to the surface. "Damn it." He mentally cursed, letting his hand drop from the truck.

"Weeeell, Uchiha, as much as I'd like to see this scene play out, we should get a move on before we're—"


Naruto, surprisingly to Sasuke, actually stopped talking. His blue eyes went wide suddenly, a small spark hidden in them, and he smiled as he looked over Sasuke's shoulder. Sasuke mentally grimaced at the look; it was a mix between his mischievous and I-didn't-do-it look. He shifted slightly, turning to glance behind him. Had he been anyone else, he probably would have visibly grimaced or jumped back from the ladies close proximity.

Instead, he politely took a step back, but not before catching a strong whiff of smoke that the lady casually blew out. He tried hard not to let his disgust or annoyance show as he stoically made eye contact with the blonde haired, rather big chested, new neighbor.

The word MILF rang loud and clear in his mind, and of course, it was in Naruto's voice. He resisted the urge to shake his head, trying hard to shake the word from his mind. This was Sakura's aunt and it was disturbing to have had that word come to mind, especially having heard it to begin with from his friend.

Sasuke, as nonchalantly and politely as he could, casually shifted away from her. As he did, he shot a quick glare in Naruto's direction, silently blaming him. Naruto huffed and rolled his eyes at his friend, shrugging his shoulders in a get-over-it gesture. It's not like they were doing anything they weren't suppose to.

Naruto could tell easily tell Sasuke just wanted to go, he knew he didn't do well with talking—especially when it came to neighbors. That's what Naruto was for. But instead of just turning away, he stepped forward, smiling at the lady. "Hey, you must be the new—"

Once again, Naruto was cut off by the woman. "Yes, yes. I'm new, moved in, blah, blah, yadda,yadda." She took a final drag off her cigarette before stubbing it out on the truck beside them. She exhaled another puff of smoke, this time right into both their faces intentionally. She narrowed her eyes and gave a coy smirk, "You two are young, capable guys who look like you might wanna kill some time, right? Why don't you help a nice lady out?"

Before either could object, or even take in what she said before she took hold of both their upper arms and tugged them over to the back of the truck. Without wasting another moment, she took the locks off, tugged and lifted the back easily. Naruto and Sasuke glanced at each other quickly; Sasuke jerked his head back slightly, his eyes narrowing at Naruto's in a glare.

The look not only blamed him, again, for their current predicament, but also told one quick message. Let's go. Now. Naruto caught it immediately, and quickly agreed with him. Screw being polite, he was not about to do some work for free. Giving back a curt nod they both started to slowly back away from the truck and the lady. She turned immediately and they both froze.

She raised her eyebrows and smiled at them, "It's so damn nice of you two kids volunteering to help me out!" she jumped down and dragged them forward once more, knowing exactly what was racing behind their eyes and enjoying every minute of it. "And when we're done, I'll even repay the favor and drive you to school!"

Naruto gave her a halfhearted smile, "Yeah, that's great and all…but I'm already pushing it as it is. And Sasuke here, well, he has a spotless record and you wouldn't want to—"

"You can call me Tsunade, or boss. Whichever is fine with me. Did I say thanks yet?" she smiled, pushing them both forward as if she heard nothing Naruto said. "It's so hard to find good help now days, as you can tell from the still full moving truck." She laughed loudly.

Tsunade placed her hands on her hips as she watched the two slowly ascend up and into the truck. It was her lucky day to find the two teens standing by the truck right when she decided to count how many boxes and items were left to unpack. Hell, she wasn't going to wait for the rest of the moving guys to get there, nor was she going to lug all the boxes in by herself. She smirked to herself; boy was she glad she took that break.

Once they stood in the back, staring at the boxes and other miscellaneous objects that seemed endless, Sasuke and Naruto exchanged looks again. Naruto narrowed his eyes, Hell no! He thought angrily, and clearly enough for Sasuke to understand.

Quickly, Naruto spun around, "Listen here, hag!" he shouted, "We don't have time, nor are we interested in helping you do your work! We have things to do and places to be! And you better believe that we don't do things for free, ever!"

Sasuke turned now, to face Tsunade. She stared simply at the two of them, tilting her head to the side she asked, "Is that so?" as calmly as she could, but Sasuke could see the fire in her eyes that seemed to have ignited by Naruto's outburst.

Naruto seemed to catch it too, or at least start to feel the tension that started to sink in between the three. Swallowing his sudden nerves, he gave a firm nod. "Yeah, so—we're going." He gestured to Sasuke and started to walk to the edge.

Tsunade took a step forward and they both froze, she smiled up at them. "Wrong." She told them, and that single word made them both stay put. Something no adult has ever been able to do to either of them.

Tsunade rolled her sleeves up to elbows, leaning forward she placed her right foot on the edge of the truck and motioned for Naruto to get closer. Naruto furrowed his brow, but shuffled the short distance forward. Once close enough, Tsuande grabbed his collar and jerked him forward, mere inches from her face.

Sasuke lunged forward then, instincts kicking in whenever his friend was in trouble but Tsunade stopped him with one hand outstretched in a stop. Her eyes glanced at him quickly and he scoffed, but stayed put.

Damn her. He thought.

Tsunade focused back on Naruto, "Call me old hag again and you'll see what useless kind of shit I'll have you do to work it off." She hissed, then she smiled, "Consider this a privilege! You're working for me for free. Being respectful of a lady in distress." She stressed the word lady and shoved Naruto back. Naruto stumbled back and fell onto his back.

Tsuande straightened, took out another cigarette, lit it and puffed. "The faster you unload this, the faster you get done. Get it?" Naruto sat up, his hand rubbing his lower back and Sasuke stood simply staring. She narrowed her eyes, "Get it?" she asked again, forcefully.

The two nodded and she smiled, "Good!" She sighed dreamily, "And just think of all the money I'll be saving when I don't have to pay those lazy bum movers!"

The two glanced at each other, and Naruto opened his mouth to retort but Sasuke glared and Naruto shut his mouth. Naruto stood up, "Fine." He grumbled, stomping to the box closest to him.

"Hn." Sasuke closed his eyes briefly and then started following Naruto's lead. At least the bitch had one thing right, He thought angrily, hoisting a box up from the ground. The faster they get done, the faster they were out of the hellhole.

"This is it, Sakura."

Sakura stared out the window at the high school, memories flitted through her mind as she tried to picture what it looked like just a few years ago. It seemed smaller now, but she figured that was probably due to all the students that seemed to hustle and bustle around before either settling on hanging around on the front lawns, or heading into the building.

Every time she had passed by the school when she was younger, the school seemed lonely and monstrous. It could definitely rival the her last high school, and the thought that she'd be able to easily blend in and not stand out too much put her at ease.

Taking a deep breath, she calmly released it before giving Shizune a comforting smile. Shizune carefully watched Sakura, emotions flickering in her eyes and she pursed her lips in a concerned way. Shizune felt that Sakura was unnecessarily pushing herself, neither she nor Tsunade would've cared if she opted to stay at home for a few days, at least until she was settled.

Shizune could see the neutral stare she had adopted, the sadness pushed so far back. Her eyes were never like that, and she wanted to help her out in any way she could. After all, Shizune felt very motherly towards Sakura. She figured that was part of the reason she was here, in Konoha. Someone had to be the adult, and take the proper responsibility.

It was part of the job when she became Tsunade's assistant, and now they were her family and the closest friends she'd ever have. Shizune smiled softly, reaching out she placed her hand gently on Sakura's shoulder.

"I know there's no talking you out of this," she sighed dramatically, which earned her a smile from Sakura. "But it'll be alright, Sakura. You can do this, and I'm proud of your decision—as I'm sure Tsunade is as well."

Sakura relaxed almost immediately, warmth spread through her. It was nice to have their support, their love, and knowing that it'll always be around with them. It was a start to everything new. She hadn't realized how much she really needed, and suddenly she felt stronger. Giving a small nod, she opened the car door and stepped out.

"I'll see you afterwards, Shizune. Thank you."

Shizune waved back, "Have a great day, Sakura!" She was glad to see the genuine smile grace Sakura's face. It had been a while.

They were definitely making progress.

"Hey...! Heeeeey!" Naruto's hands instinctively reached out and tried to grab hold of the steering wheel.

Tsunade tsked at him, a cigarette balanced through clenched teeth. She shot him a glare and smacked his hand away with her lighter. "I got it, ya crazy ass kid…" she grumbled. With a quick jerk, she yanked the steering wheel to the right and the car straightened on the path once again.

Naruto cussed under his breath as he yanked his hand back, trying hard to reign his anger. She was a force to be reckoned with and listened to, the first hour and a half proved that—along with a few red welts randomly placed on his body. Most to the back of the head, sneak attacks before he even knew he screwed up.

Once again, Naruto watched as Tsunade let go of the wheel, jabbed her left knee to keep the wheel in place as she lit her cigarette and cracked open the window. This time Naruto's hands reached out and took hold of the dashboard in front of him.

"Holy shi-!" Naruto pressed himself hard against back of his seat, "Ya know the least you could do is slow down or something…!"

Sasuke mumbled something in agreement in the back seat, having stayed quiet for most of the insane driving and swerving. His own hand was clutched to his back pack strap, almost ripping it apart from the seam while the other hand was digging into the cushion beneath him. And here he had thought Naruto's driving was bad.

His body immediately tensed again when Tsunade slammed down on the brake as she took a turn, the car skidding and tires screeching before replacing her foot onto the gas again. "Almost there boys!" she yelled, puffing smoke.

"If we make it alive…" murmured Sasuke through clenched teeth.

Finally, Tsunade jerked the wheel to the right again, sending the two boys to jerk with the car before slamming on the brakes and parking along the curb. Naruto jumped out as soon as the vehicle stopped, his adrenaline still pumping through his veins. He pushed his hair back from his face before he turned back to Tsuande not waiting another second to unleash his rage.

"Dammit ya old hag, learn how to drive! I almost died back there! How on earth do you even have a license?!" He was fuming now that he was out of her reach, "You are crazy, lady! Craaaazzzzy!"

Sasuke immediately climbed out of the vehicle after his friend, trying to repress the smirk from Naruto's very belated outburst. Brushing himself off, Sasuke adjusted his backpack before heading to the school—not bothering with much else to the lady who had put them through an hour and a half of hell.

Tsunade smirked, "A license? You only need one of those if you get pulled over, kid." She laughed, or rather cackled in their opinion, when Naruto just simply gaped at her. His mouth was doing that very slow fish-gasping-for-a-breath thing and for him that was rare. "Later boys! Trust me we'll be in touch!" Naruto's only response was slamming the car door and she laughed again before peeling out of the drive, tires screeching and all.

Naruto gritted his teeth angrily before turning and following Sasuke into the building. Never had an adult gotten on his nerves like she did and much less had an adult ever been able to put him in his place like that. He didn't like it one bit. As they walked in, the bell chimed signaling the end of the current class period. Sasuke paused, idly glanced at his watch and let out a small irritated sigh. It was going to be a long day, if their morning hadn't already suggested that.

Sasuke's thoughts went array when he noticed a flash of pink, his head automatically turned in the direction and his eyes narrowed as he took her in. Head bent, her ever recognizable pink hair spilling over her face as she looked down at a piece of paper in hand. She stood a little awkwardly to the side, her head lifted taking in her surroundings before quickly looking back down. Probably trying to figure out where her next class was.

Sasuke could have done the honorable thing and helped her, maybe even walked by her and see if she recognized and called to him. His next class was in that direction, but then what? He soon found that he was grinding his teeth together in frustration at the very thought of talking to her. He had made his decision already and he wasn't going to change his mind. It was for the better.

Quickly he snapped his head away when he realized he was still blatantly staring at her from all the way down the hall. His lips pressed into a thin and angry line and with a scoff he once again adjusted his backpack and started walking towards the office, conveniently located in the opposite direction of Sakura.

Naruto didn't notice Sasuke's odd staring or even his awkward pause. He was too busy still fuming over what had happened. "I'll admit, when she first I approached us, I thought it was gonna be something straight from Penthouse forum or something! But to do that?! I mean, come on, right?" He sighed dramatically, keeping pace with Sasuke. "My life, like, just went—fromph!" His hand waved in front of his eyes, "—just flashed right before my eyes. Damn hag."

Sasuke gave a few grunts, indicating that he was listening. Anything to keep him distracted, he hoped that he wouldn't notice. Naruto wouldn't drop it if he noticed, and he really wasn't in the mood for that conversation—if ever.

"Whoa, whoooa, Sasuke." He grabbed his upper arm; Sasuke narrowed his eyes but stopped. "You're not even going to stop and say hello?" Naruto gestured to the pink haired girl down the hall.

Sasuke shifted on his feet, he didn't think Naruto had even noticed her, much less point her out. He swiftly pulled his arm away from Naruto, "No." he murmured, readjusting his backpack, "I'm late." That was all he said before he turned and walked away from him.

Naruto stared after him as he walked away, confused and then glanced down at the girl just a few strides away. He smiled, "Fine then. Your loss, dude." He whispered to himself, and then turned his way towards her.

"Yo, Sakura!"

Sakura paused, her heart pounding suddenly. It was only an hour and a half into her first day at school, how had someone already known her name? Excitement fluttered to her stomach and she dared to hope. Could it be…? Her hand mindlessly went to touch the necklace that was beneath her shirt.

She slowly and nonchalantly took a deep breath; she was ready for this moment. She had gone through it several times mentally, their long awaited reunion. Sakura shifted, turning to look behind her and stared right into a pair of unfamiliar blue eyes. Definitely not Sasuke's.

Instead, there stood a blonde spikey haired guy, a few inches taller than her, wearing a huge grin as if he knew her and they were old friends. It was the kind of smile she'd imagined Sasuke having when she finally ran into him.

Sakura furrowed her brows suddenly, and shifted her eyes from left to right, was there another Sakura at the school? But no, it was just her and the stranger standing in the midst of a semi-crowded hallway.

The blonde boy laughed heartedly, "Yeah, I'm talking to you!" he leaned forward suddenly, his blue eyes widening. "Unless you're name isn't Sakura…?"

Sakura blinked and shook her head, smiling politely. "No, it is!" she laughed nervously, "I just didn't think anyone would know my name already is all!"

The blonde nodded, "Yeah, I suppose that would throw someone off." He crossed his arms behind his head and then laughed. "Oh! I'm Naruto, by the way." He dropped his arms and stuck his hand out towards Sakura.

Sakura cocked her head to the side slightly; she had heard that name before. "Naruto…?" she repeated, taking his hand in hers and giving a firm shake. "It's a pleasure to meet you." Why is that name so familiar? She thought.

Naruto blushed slightly at the feel of her hand in his; he could definitely get use to that. Naruto dug his hands into his jean pockets, rocking slightly on his heel he began to babble about the do's and don'ts of the school. He was a little embarrassed to have blushed so suddenly, he had joked to Sasuke before about going after her, mostly to just get a rise out of the usually stoic Uchiha.

But now, standing before her and actually seeing her up close, he could see she was definitely his type. And now he wasn't so sure if he had really been joking with his friend. This girl was cute, polite, with beautiful colored eyes, perfect height standing next to him and best of all, new to the school. If he was lucky, he could reel her in before all the rumors and his reputation ruined any chance he could get. He had a strong urge of wanting her to know the real him, not the crap that people liked to say about him.

The blush and words of Naruto went unnoticed by Sakura as she thought long and hard about where she had seen that name.

I actually made a new friend today, his name is Naruto. He's a knucklehead, but he's a good guy.

Sakura remembered now. It was in a letter from him, from her Sasuke. Excitement fluttered to her stomach again and her hand fluttered to where her necklace was again. She refused to reveal it openly until she met him again.

She didn't want to ruin anything too soon. She was nervous to see him again, and little scared that she'll be embarrassed if he sees the necklace on her before she was able to explain herself first. Just in case.

She nodded occasionally as she zoned back to Naruto, noticing that he was talking to her. She smiled at him when he stopped, "And that's about all you gotta know about K. High." He smiled and then winked at her, "You can thank me later, ok?" with that, he turned and started to walk away.

Sakura stepped towards his retreating form, "Umm, Naruto?" Naruto paused and glanced over his should to look at her. Sakura smiled and shifted slightly, feeling suddenly nervous. "Thanks, really. But do you mind if I ask you a question?"

Naruto turned slightly, "Yeah, anything Sakura." He tilted his head slightly, "What's up?"

"Well, I was just curious…how did you know me? My name and what I looked like?" she held her breath as she watched dawning cross his features. He turned to face her fully now, flashing a wide grin.

"Oh yeah! Guess I forgot to mention that part, huh?" he laughed and scratched his head, "Sorry 'bout that! But um, I'm a friend of Sasuke's and he told me about you, so yeah."

And there it was. He did get her letter. He was expecting her. Sakura smiled broadly now, "Thanks, Naruto." She waved and turned, heading to her next class with that feeling of excitement making her giddy.

Naruto stared after her, a small bounce in her step and he smiled. "You're welcome." He mumbled. Yeah, definitely my type.

Sakura's giddiness faded almost immediately when she entered her next class. That feeling of slight dread settled right as she reached the door, and she bit her bottom lip as a nervous reaction. It was going to be a long day if she kept getting nervous before every class. Taking a calming deep breath, she pushed her unease down and entered the classroom.

The class was buzzing with before class chatter, unfamiliar faces peered up at her briefly, giving her a once over before continuing with their conversations. Sakura tried hard to appear indifferent and calm and collected, but she felt her face flush with the occasional shift of eyes in her direction. She shuffled over to the teacher's desk and gave him a small polite smile.

"Morning, uhm, Mr. Hatake…?" the silver haired teacher raised his head slightly, taking his eyes off the small paperback novel in his hands. Sakura caught sight of the slightly inappropriate title and shifted her eyes to the desk, feeling her face heat up again. "Should I just sit anywhere?" she heard herself ask.

The teacher smiled, marking his page before setting his book down. "Hang on a moment, Sakura, correct?" he asked and she nodded. "We do have assigned seats," he shifted his hands to the mess of students chattering. "Not that it's obvious." He rolled his shoulders slowly before letting out a long sigh, and then he clapped three times loudly. The chatter ceased immediately and all eyes were up front. "Seats." Still in silence, the students all got up and shuffled around until everyone was seated.

The teacher glanced down at a piece of paper with small squares and names scribbled on it. He hummed softly before pointing to an empty desk towards the back and next to the window. "That spot is open and available Sakura. You are more than welcome to take it." He smiled at her again and Sakura was oddly entranced by how quirky, and not the mention handsome, the English Literature teacher was.

Sakura blushed again, but nodded. "Thank you, Mr. Hatake." She mumbled quickly, her fingers squeezing her binders tighter. She could feel her fellow peers eyes on her, now that they were made to face forward.

"Kakashi, please." He picked up a pencil and scribbled her name on the empty square. "I prefer it by my students, feels more relaxed that way and I'm just odd like that."

Sakura only smiled before she shuffled to her assigned desk. When she finally reached the desk and the stares lessened as she passed, she felt her elf relax instantly. She sighed as she sank into her chair, her legs feeling suddenly weak. It really was going to be a long day if she continued going through that.

She turned her attention to glance out the classroom window and she felt at ease staring at the familiar scenery. Even after years of living in a different place, she never felt at home or comfortable the way she did in Konoha. And everything was still the way she'd remembered them being, from the large blooming trees and folly, to the deep and lush green grass lawns and smoothed cemented pathways.

The different seasons were always beautiful in Konoha, and she could hardly wait for them to pass by. Her English class was going by rather quickly, and Sakura could feel her nerves start to act up again. She knew it wouldn't all go away until her first day was over, and even then, she was sure it would go away until she saw Sasuke.

Sakura shook her head, trying to clear her thoughts and hoped to squash her nerves. She turned her attention back to her teacher and managed to hear his joke and laughed along with the rest of her class. She knew he would be her favorite teacher hands down.

Kakashi just as quick as he was to joke would quickly jumped back to his serious side that was quite strict about his literature.

"Trust me, gang, no one understands your plight against assigned reading more than I do, really. But…," He waved a small paperback book in the air and the class groaned. He lifted his other hand in the air in his defense, "I know, I know. Reading, oh so terrible, oh so horrible! But this is high school. I am the teacher. And you all will have to read it eventually. So why not with me, eh?" The class chuckled and he began to distribute copies out along with a stapled packet of homework questions.

The girl in front of Sakura turned and handed her, her things. Sakura picked up the book and smiled, the dark blue book read The Great Gatsby. The book was one of Sakura's favorites, having read it last year for her last English class. Out of habit, she opened the book and thumbed through the pages and felt herself smile bigger as she caught a few key words.

"Yes, you read correctly my dear class!" Kakashi waved his hands in the air and smirked at his class, "The ever fabled and known, The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald." He clapped his hand, "It's a fantastic book, which I'm sure most of you will enjoy and most likely thank me later. If you've read the book, then you're a step ahead and if you haven't well, that's okay. Either way, we're reading this book and I expect no less than I normally do."

Before he could say anything else, the bell rang and the students began to pack up. "Bring your books tomorrow, we'll do official check out and read. Come prepared! You have been warned." He yelled over the noise and the students murmured their understandings.

Sakura tucked her packet into her folder and then picked up her pencils and binder. A plus about her first day and wandering mind was the day seemed to be going by really fast. Sakura quickly pulled out her class schedule and double checked her next class. When she was sure, she tucked it back into her binder and headed in that direction. Hopefully if she made it early, she'd avoid any more awkward stares from her peers.

Sasuke sat at his desk with an oddly careful plop. He'd managed to get his name and Naruto's excused that morning, telling them they got caught up. Having a spotless record really helped them believe him, but that was his only warning…and Naruto's very last. Naruto hadn't stopped thanking him, glad that he didn't have to spend another afternoon in detention.

He'd also managed to blab on and on about his small chat with Sakura he had. The name spoken out loud alone made him feel odd he couldn't describe it. Not caring who was paying attention, he dropped his head into his hands and rubbed his temples with frantic small circles. Was this going to happen to him every time he saw her? Every time he almost runs into her? Every time his friend mentions her?

Or what of the possibilities of his friend dating her? He had mentioned pursuing her and he had told him he was okay with that. He grimaced and shook his head in anger. What was going on with him?

He idly wondered if he could switch schools. Sasuke scoffed at that. There was no way he was going to let her run him out of there. That was just ridiculous; he had gotten half way through the day without a single class with her or even passing her in the halls. All that was left was lunch after his study hall and then the last half of school. He could do it; he could get through the day. After today, he knew he could face the rest of the year tolerating her presence.

"Sasuke, darling, you seem stressed." A voice purred into his ear.

Sasuke immediately felt hands at his shoulders, thumbs rubbing small circles into his shoulders. With a forceful shrug, he managed to shake the hands and he turned his glare onto the blonde girl behind him. She gave him a smile, let her hand rest on his shoulder before she slide into the seat next to him, her hand running back and forth.

Once again, Sasuke shrugged her hand off. "Stop." He muttered, shifting in his chair efficiently putting distance between them. The blonde rolled her eyes and despite his rejection, still scooted over.

"Don't be mad, Sasuke. I was just trying to help." She sighed, "You know me."

This time Sasuke rolled his eyes, throwing open his binder and dragging his attention to random class notes. "Go away, Ino." He mumbled curtly, not taking his eyes off of his paper.

He didn't have to look at her to know she was pouting at him, he heard her sigh again. "Ohh, Sasuke, you're especially grumpy today." She smiled and leaned forward, resting her chin in her palm. "What's got your delicious boxers in a twist, love?"

Sasuke wanted nothing more than to glare at her and yell at her to shut up and leave him the hell alone. But he knew that wasn't going to work. So instead, he chose to do what he normally did. Ignore. And as always, it was easy to ignore her. He knew that it was his best chance if he wanted her to go away. Anymore words to her and she'd only take that as encouragement to pester him further. But when he ignored her, she eventually grew bored and walked away to chat to her friends.

He was very aware that she was still trying to talk to him, and he shifted his eyes from his notes to look out the window. Sasuke watched the trees sway with every gentle breeze that passed, and he could almost feel the wind on his own face. Putting himself there mentally made him calm down drastically and cleared his mind from everything that had happened.

Even Ino's shrill voice as she continued talking, trying in vain to get his attention or some sort of reaction from him. Sasuke closed his eyes and let a few seemingly harmless thoughts slip through his defenses; memories of his youth. Nights of laying beneath a blanket of stars and lush grass tickling his skin and the steady cool of nice summer night. He thought of the days of watching sunsets, and days of watching the trees shed their leaves, and especially the fun days spent at the local park.

And, of course, all of them with the pink haired girl he shared them with.

Sasuke wasn't sure when class started, or when Ino stopped talking to him and had moved away. He didn't even know when Naruto had replaced Ino, probably having annoyed her away—thank goodness, and was grumbling under his breath on how useless science was.

Sasuke stared intently at him and furrowed his brow, his eyes shifted curiously around the room and he caught the back of Ino's head talking to a few friends. He grimaced and quickly turned away and back to Naruto. Naruto who wasn't paying attention, kept rambling on before he threw his head back and sighed rather loudly in annoyance.

"Naruto?" he asked, finally drawing the attention of his friend. "What the hell are you doing here?"

Naruto stared at Sasuke with a baffled expression, "Uhhh, it's fifth period…?" he cast a quick glance around the classroom before looking back at Sasuke. Naruto quirked an eyebrow, "I always come to your study hall during fifth period science…have been doing for a month now…? Remember?"

Sasuke nodded slowly, shaking his head. "Yeah, yeah. Of course I do, I was just being…sarcastic." He mumbled glancing at his binder.

Naruto sighed but shrugged it off. "Oookay then…" Naruto smiled again before starting off on a rampage again. Sasuke managed to catch the first few words before he zoned him out again. He really wasn't sure what his problem was, or why he was zoning. But his memories were putting him at ease, making him feel happy inside. "…so do you it'll be okay if I do…?"

Sasuke turned his attention back to Naruto when he realized he asked him a question. Naruto was staring intently at him, this time with a slightly guilty and suddenly nervous expression. The look was oddly placed on his friends face and quickly Sasuke tried to rewind the conversation but really couldn't recall anything or even the question. Sasuke composed himself and finally just shrugged nonchalantly.

"Whatever, Naruto. It's fine." He mumbled finally, it was a safe answer. Sasuke trusted him, not to mention Naruto wouldn't ask him something he wouldn't easily agree to. But that nervous/guilty expression did have Sasuke curious as to what he had asked and was talking about.

Naruto didn't seem to notice that he hadn't heard him and if he did notice he didn't really say or care. Instead, he instantly relaxed, his grin stretching back onto his face. "Great! Awesome!" he stood up and gave a content sigh, "You know, Sasuke, it's gonna be a good year. I can feel it!"

Sasuke furrowed his brow but gave a small smirk, "Yeah." He agreed half-heartedly, really wishing he had listened to what he had said and agreed to. Naruto whispered his later and left the classroom a few seconds before the bell rang.

"I hope this doesn't come back to bite me in the ass." He thought in exasperation. He sat in his chair for a few seconds longer, still trying to compose himself and purge all memories and feelings he'd succumbed to during the hour long class. The one feeling he couldn't seem to shake was how completely lost he felt.

Sakura slowly and purposefully placed her textbook and other items in her locker before taking out her schedule again and reviewing it. All day she had stressed about running into Sasuke and the different scenarios, but she'd completely forgotten about one of the worst things about being new.

Lunch time.

She grimaced at the printed words on her paper and sighed. She hadn't seen Sasuke yet, nor had she made any friends. She supposed she could sit with Sasuke, but she wasn't sure if that would sit well with him, she also didn't want to impose, and she wasn't even sure if he had the same lunch period as her. Sakura could already see herself eating lunch by herself at some random table and have dozens of dozens eyes on her. Sakura frowned and slowly stuffed her schedule away and shut her locker softly and dejectedly. She hoped it would be a quick lunch.

"Yo, Sakura!"

Sakura's head jerked at the sound of her name, turning her head to glance around before she spotted the blonde haired Naruto from the morning. Oddly enough, Sakura felt a small sense of comfort fill her and she smiled softly at him. He waved at her excitedly and was quick to reach her. He smiled broadly, "Hey! I've been looking for you, Sakura! I even stopped by your last classroom but they told me you had already left and stuff…" he rambled off and suddenly blushed, averting his light blue eyes away from her.

Sakura furrowed her brow at him, confused as to why he was looking for her. "Could Sasuke have…?" The thought made her suddenly very excited and hopeful. Maybe he had sent Naruto to get her? She knew it was a long shot, but she let herself hope that was the case anyway. "Oh yeah?" she asked, trying to keep her voice steady and even.

Naruto turned to her, suddenly very serious and a little tense. "I was wondering if you wanted to join me for lunch!" he rushed the sentence and Sakura noticed how his face flushed an even deeper red. Sakura felt her own heat up as well and for a moment she'd almost forgotten it was lunch time.

Sakura smiled brightly and relieved, "Oh! Of course, Naruto!" she sighed, her hand fluttering to her chest. "I'm so happy you asked, actually. I was really nervous about getting lunch and not knowing any one to sit with…" She wasn't sure why she chose to say that, it was embarrassing to admit out loud.

Naruto smiled again, "Great!" he threw his arm over her shoulder drawing her close and started to lead her towards the cafeteria. "And no need to worry, Sakura! You know Sasuke and I and you're more than welcome to always eat with us! He said it's no problem!"

Sakura, who blushed again when Naruto put his arm around her shoulders, blushed even harder at the mention of Sasuke. Not only had he mentioned her to a close friend, but he had even talked about her in regards to joining him for lunch anytime she wanted. She wasn't sure how what to make of it, but she felt really happy…and suddenly very nervous again.

Naruto didn't seem to notice, instead he continued talking about his morning and even asked her a few questions about how classes where going for her. She answered as honestly and reserved as she could. She didn't want to complain too much to him, nor did she want to mention how she eagerly looked for Sasuke in just about every class she walked into.

The cafeteria was huge compared to her last school and bustling with hundreds of peers. Several tables were pushed together to create bigger tables for the larger cliques and a few made do with sitting at either smaller round tables or against walls or whatever was comfortable. Sakura suddenly felt even more relieved that Naruto had asked her to join them, seeing the lunch room now only confirmed her suspicions that she would have most definitely sat somewhere by herself.

The smell of food flooded her senses and she finally realized how hungry she was. Naruto continued to give her "tips" on cafeteria food. Telling her what was good, what to watch out for and the always reliable food item on the cafeteria menus, ramen.

Naruto smiled at her and Sakura laughed heartedly, "I'm not kidding!" he laughed as well, "Not even school can ruin ramen. Not Ichirakus…but," Naruto shrugged and handed Sakura a chocolate milk. "It's pretty damn good!"

Sakura shook her head, glad to have Naruto helping her out and making her laugh. They reached the end of the line and paid for their lunches, which Naruto had graciously offered to pay for hers but she politely declined. Naruto gestured to the table towards the far back wall, it was one of the larger pushed together tables, different people sitting around it—some she recognized from classes and others unfamiliar.

She could see different people walking to and from the table and she noted that it was most definitely one of the more popular tables. Sakura tried not to grimace and tried hard to swallow the lump in her throat. She was almost there.

Naruto nudged her gently and gave her a small reassuring smile. "Don't be nervous." He whispered, winking. "No one matters at the table but you, Sasuke and I." With another trademark smile, he led her towards the table and Sakura began to mentally prepare herself.

"You can do this. You can do this! Almost there. Just. Breathe. Oh!"

With a deep breath, she raised her stare from her lunch tray and her eyes automatically and immediately made contact with the deep onyx colored eyes that she'd known since she was seven years old and had dreamed many times about seeing again soon.


A/N: Woo! Next chapter up soon...hopefully. Sorry for all the delay...

Well, hope you all liked! & I cannot thank you all enough for sticking with me! :) 3

Next: Chapter 4: Decisions.