i. Charity Goes Nowhere
(Unless it guarantees meeting the man of your dreams)
Konoha Preparatory Academy was a place of intellect, of scholarly discipline, of imagination and creativity. It was a place famed for its library, filled to the brim with texts both old and new—some, indeed, even dated back to the time of the Ninja Wars. In fact, the debate team often incited arguments about this precise topic. Had there, in fact, been real ninja gifted with the powers of ninjutsu and a wide range of other abilities? Or was it just a myth, a canvas painted by somebody yearning for more to the bloodshed than what there was?
Either way, KPA was a school for those who intended to succeed in major fields once they graduated. Those who would go on to study law, medicine, engineering, aviation, politics—they were the people you would find walking the halls, moving to their next class with the distinct ease of somebody gifted with far more intelligence than an individual person should be allotted.
Haruno Sakura wondered—truly pondered and contemplated—how the hell one Uzumaki Naruto had managed to get into a school like this. Sure, his father might be a high-flying politician who may or may not become the next President of the country if the election campaign went according to plan. But Sakura didn't think that was reason enough for the headmistress to allow Uzumaki Naruto to walk those hallowed halls and completely disrespect everything that KPA stood for.
She also did not understand why the headmistress was so surprised when Naruto rung up about five offences within his first week. Vandalising, spitting out gum, littering, skipping class—it was all very typical behaviour of the boy who she'd had the misfortune of knowing as a child. Now she was sitting in headmistress Tsunade's office, hands folded neatly in her lap and all articles of clothing completely symmetrical.
Two words to describe Haruno Sakura: prim and proper. She was highly sophisticated, according to her loveable father. She had a bright future, highest in the class, completely on her way to becoming the country's most capable doctor. Now, headmistress Tsunade thought that utilising the girl's abilities would be best—not only for her own personal sanity (the sake certainly helped with that), but for the reputation of the school. Uzumaki Naruto, famous politician father or not, needed dire help with his schoolwork. And so Tsunade had picked the most suitable person for the job.
She had forgotten, somewhere in the equation, the girl's temper and irrationality. Which was at odds with the rest of her personality, if anything.
"No," Sakura replied simply, picking at a loose thread on her skirt.
"What do you mean—'no'?" Tsunade's brow wrinkled, hands clenched. "I wasn't giving you the option of refusing, Haruno." And her tone was also quite at odds for the deeply buried affection she felt for the girl—after all, she reminded her a lot of what she'd been like as a teenager. Tsunade reminded herself this did not bode well for the outcome of their argument.
"I'm not wasting my time on somebody who doesn't even care about their grades," Sakura continued, voice completely calm and level. "If he actually wanted to get higher than a C, sure, but I don't understand why he needs tutoring if he isn't even prepared to put any effort in. I have better things to be doing, Tsunade-sama."
Tsunade didn't doubt that she did. After all, the girl had a mighty collection of extra-curricular activities, not to mention the fact her father had recently employed the 'learn the value of the dollar' approach, and had secured her a position at a small café in the posher part of town. The girl still managed to complete every item of homework meticulously, however, and handed all her assignments in a few days before they were due. The headmistress groaned. If, perhaps, her grades weren't so perfect, she'd have something to use against her.
"Sakura," Tsunade stressed the word, hoping the girl would note that she didn't often label people by their first names. "You've got to consider, young lady, the consequences Uzumaki has had on the school. If the reputation of the school were to, say, hit rock bottom… then the Hokage Medical Institute may seek to enrol people from other schools, in place of ours. You could miss a perfectly good chance for your future."
It was playing dirty, she knew. But the only tactic capable of convincing the girl—stubborn as a mule and fiery as a hellcat—would be some kind of threat concerning her future. Sakura was extremely dedicated to becoming a doctor, and would accept nothing less than HMI. It was the only institute that guaranteed a position in one of the country's various hospitals.
The girl paled considerably. "You really think he's that bad?"
"Oh, he's definitely that bad," Tsunade agreed in all honesty. "But I couldn't exactly say no to Uzumaki Minato. It would've been even worse."
"Well," Sakura said in measured tones. "What exactly do I have to tutor him in?"
"Only on Tuesdays and Thursdays, though. And before you make some excuse to get out of it, I talked to your father extensively about it, and he seems to believe that your schedule is entirely free those nights."
Sakura winced. She just knew giving her father a copy of her timetable was going to be a bad idea. She recovered quickly, though. "Fine. Tuesdays and Thursday. Three hours max both days—you know we're supposed to do two hours of homework, and I don't want to be completely exhausted by the time I get home."
The headmistress grinned. That had been far easier than she'd thought. "Four till seven, then. It sounds like a good enough arrangement to me. Basically we just want Uzumaki getting slightly better grades—and perhaps being around you will inspire some form of discipline."
The girl snorted. "You know what, I really doubt that."
Her memories of Naruto from childhood mainly consisted of him pulling other children's hair, stealing their toys, being really loud and obnoxious and declaring to everyone in the vicinity that he was going to grow up and marry his 'Sakura-chan'. She shivered slightly. Unsure whether or not he remembered this, she was hesitant to approach him. Sure, they'd been out of contact for years when he father had moved overseas to get some worldwide recognition, but now Minato seemed to want to be President of stupid Konoha. And that had brought Uzumaki Naruto back to her neighbourhood.
Tsunade grimaced. She was itching to crack open the new bottle of sake she had hidden in her second desk drawer. "Well, Haruno, you gotta try. He's made some new friends, at least—people who might 'inspire' him to be a more model citizen." She chuckled, laughing at some kind of inward joke. Sakura wisely decided to not go there.
"So, do I just turn up on his doorstep Tuesday?" she asked cynically, analysing her manicured fingernails. Propriety came at a price, of course—nothing that a monthly trip to the day spa didn't cover, obviously. And with a father who had a nice shiny credit card for every opportunity? Well, Sakura wasn't left wanting.
"No," Tsunade grinned at her. "He's in classroom 2A now. Iruka should be done yelling at him. Go and talk to him, tell him about the plan."
She narrowed her eyes. "You're enjoying this, aren't you?"
"Every minute of it," Tsunade shook her head, smiling to herself. If there was one thing she enjoyed, it was gambling. And she had placed a rather huge gamble in motion here—if Sakura could somehow discipline Uzumaki before exam time and get him to some kind of adequate academic level, then their school wouldn't suffer the consequences. It was the best bet she had, after all. The suspense in the meanwhile would, naturally, be the best part.
And the excess sake she could justify as a by-product of stress and anxiety.
Sakura gave her a withering look, before picking up her bag and stalking out of the room. She was usually quite respectful, yes, but not when it concerned things like this. This was tutoring Uzumaki Naruto. Not just in Math, but in Economics and History… and Literature and Accounting. Everything there was to know, she would have to teach him. It was hardly fair.
On her walk to classroom 2A, she pondered her now unreliable future with some degree of angst. She quickly drew up a list of pros and cons.
Pros: father will stop annoying me about being more charitable. I can blackmail Headmistress Tsunade at some point… oh, and getting to know Uzumaki Minato better might help my chances at securing a good job. You know, if this all works out.
She heaved a humongous sigh.
Cons? Well, firstly… it's Uzumaki Naruto. And secondly… the guy had a huge crush on me as a kid. Hell, he even publicly declared his love! How embarrassing. And he's so vulgar. Ugh. And not exactly the brightest cookie in the jar… getting him to do his homework will be no mean feat. And now I have next to no time left for myself, between assignments and work and tutoring. It's too much of a liability, regardless of the pros. Therefore this is really not a safe investment of my time.
There it was, clear statistical proof. The cons clearly outweighed any possible positive outcomes. And Haruno Sakura was not a pessimist by nature. In fact, she considered herself to be a rather realistic optimist. If such a thing even existed—which, in her opinion, it did.
She turned the corner, still absorbed in her own internal dialogue, until she reached a rather abrupt barrier. A barrier in the form of a very humanoid shape.
"Oof," she reeled back a little, blinking.
And there, standing in completely handsome god-like glory, was Adonis. Sakura was sure she had just stepped out of KPA and landed some ten thousand years prior, when gods and goddesses roamed the earth freely. But she quickly composed herself upon noticing his glare.
"Excuse you," he said in a voice like velvet, onyx eyes hard, before brushing past her without the slightest inkling of apology. Sakura gulped. Okay, so maybe not Adonis.
…but very, very close.
If Sakura was really one hundred percent truthful, she would admit to being much less of a realist than she claimed. And she would state, quite clearly, that she believed in the concept of Love at First Sight. Or… at least… Oh My God What a Cute Guy I Want Him at First Sight.
And, Sakura noticed triumphantly, he had walked out of classroom 2A.
Was this Naruto's 'inspiring friend' Tsunade had been talking about?
She sincerely hoped so.
PLAN—TUTORING UZUMAKI NARUTO:
Main objective: Ensure he achieves at least a B on all subjects. Some lenience, allow a C on one subject if completely dire. MATH IS PRIORITY.
Side, and vastly more important, objective: …FIND OUT WHO THAT REALLY HOT GUY IS!
New main objective: Seduce. Seduce. Seduce.
Now in action.
A/N: I'M BACK. I'M ALIVE. No, really. After my super extended absence for no real reason except procrastination and a really bad memory, I'M HERE AGAIN. With a new story! And with the intention of updating Kodak Moments ASAP. The second part is nearly done, really. And also updating Sleeping Beauty and Princess Without Her Castle, too, though those will be slower. By the way, Adonis is just this super-cute guy from Greek mythology. So. Who knows why somebody from Konoha knows about Greek mythology. Eh. This is just a little SasuSaku on the side, guys. Wheeeeee. Do not take it seriously. Bitchyposhannoying!Sakura is kind of fun. You know. She's more part one canon than usual. Except she totally doesn't carry around designer handbags in canon. She has that dinky white kunai pack instead. Ehhh.