"My hair is, regrettably, different from the other Uchihas'. Most of the others have a variant of black or navy blue as a hair color. Mine, however, is a lighter blue, likely classified as a light blue-based cobalt. Is this a reasonable hair color for an Uchiha? I should think... NOT. It's well in the range, but it still doesn't fit in. My mother, God rest her soul, had silver hair. Quite unusual in this village, right? My father, who was naturally an Uchiha, had navy blue hair. Their colors must have mixed or something to create my color. It's not exactly a curse, but it certainly isn't a blessing either. After all, when I state my name, the person I am speaking to often cries in surprise, "You don't look like an Uchiha! I never would have thought it had you not said your name!"

I get so tired of that.

Anyway, diary, that isn't really what I'm writing about. I'm writing about a man who... never said that. Everyone else I introduce myself to exclaims that I look nothing like an Uchiha. But this man... he did not. He simply gave a small smile, and kissed my hand. He looked at me, with those piercing but soft eyes, and told me that he didn't think Uchiha women were supposed to be pretty, but that I proved him wrong.

... I think Hong-chan said his name was Orochimaru."

Yuri Uchiha wasn't exactly the rambunctious type, but she certainly wasn't quiet either. In her clan, young ladies like herself were expected to be seen and not heard. With Yuri, it was usually the other way around. You would hear her coming, but you wouldn't be fast enough to avoid being knocked down as she ran with her friends. When reminded (or when she reminded herself), she would calm down and act her age. More often, she acted her height instead of her age. Her height? Five foot one, with most men towering above her. Instead of acting like she was eighteen years old, she acted five.

Today, however, that wasn't the case. She was enjoying a rare peaceful day with her friends, Fu-Ling Haruno and Hong Uzumaki. Hong's family owned the ramen shop (although a man named Ichiraku was trying to buy it from them), and Fu-Ling's family owned a motel in town. Yuri sat together with them on the bench, looking at the men who were passing by. They rated them on a scale of one to ten, depending on how cute the three girls thought they looked. Hong, being two months pregnant (and nursing a broken heart thanks to her child's father dumping her for a hussy), usually dragged the score down, giving scores of negative seven for any random man. The girls often partook in this type of "disgraceful" (as Yuri's brother described it) behavior, but nobody outside of her clan cared. As long as her brother wasn't around to serve as a spying weasel, they were fine to rate as they pleased.

Yuri placed a hand on Hong's stomach, trying to feel something. At only two months along, she wasn't showing that much yet, but Yuri still wanted to feel a baby - though she knew she wouldn't feel anything until Hong was two more months along. "Have you thought about names yet, Hong-chan?"

Hong was busy munching on a stick of mitarashi dango. "Well, I'm thinking Kushina if it's a girl, or Hiroko if it's a boy."

"Ohhh, I hope you have a girl. Girls are so cute!"

"Girls," Hong agreed, "won't leave urine stains on the curtains when you try to change their diaper."

"That's true, too."

"Ooh! Yuri!" Yuri felt Fu-Ling pulling on her sleeve, and it felt like an excited type of pull, like she was trying to show her something. "Look at him!"

Yuri sighed, and decided to humor her friend. "Alright, where is..." She trailed off, because she had just seen the most beautiful man she'd ever seen before. It was a guy about her age, with skin so pale it looked white. His eyes... she couldn't tell from a distance what color his eyes were, but she would guess they were some lovely, exotic color. Jet black hair flowed over his shoulders onto his white robe like a river; it was so long it almost looked as if he could sit on it if he wished to. It appeared to be soft, like silk, almost with the look that it had been drawn on by charcoal. He looked so kind and tender... like he didn't want to hurt anybody, and he wasn't capable of causing pain. That was the kind of man she had been looking for her entire life, since Ichimaru had told her she was old enough to date. "Oh, Fu-Ling." She felt like she was in a dream. "He's so handsome."

Although Yuri couldn't see it, Fu-Ling raised a pink eyebrow. "Um, Yuri?" She made a couple of faces, squinting at the pale boy. It was like she was trying to see how Yuri could possibly find the guy she'd pointed out attractive. "I meant he was creepy."

"Creepy?" Yuri couldn't comprehend that. While Fu-Ling was busy trying to figure out how Yuri could find the man attractive, Yuri was trying to figure out how Fu-Ling could not find him attractive. "Fu-Ling, he's not creepy. I think he would be a... perfect ten." She gazed at him as he bent down to inspect some flowers. When he knelt down, his dark hair fell in front of his pale face like a curtain, to shield his innocence from those who would seek to destroy or corrupt it. The way he moved was almost like he was leading an extravagant, elaborate dance. And the way he touched the flowers! - oh, he was so careful, as if the petals could break off any second; his fingers barely brushed them. The closest he came to actually stroking the petals was that his nails fell against them when his hand moved. "Look at him - would a creepy guy be so gentle?"

"You never know, Yuri," Fu-Ling answered with a shrug. She leaned back and began to play with Hong's auburn hair. As this was one of Hong's pet peeves, Fu-Ling's hands were quickly swatted away. "Sometimes, the most beautiful things in the world are the worst of beasts on the inside - you know, like the Venus fly trap." Fu-Ling instead turned to playing with Yuri's blue hair, which was currently tied into a high ponytail. "It's a pretty plant, but touch a leaf and - snap! You're plant food. Like mulch."

Yuri made a face at Fu-Ling. She untangled her friend's fingers from her oddly colored hair and crossed her arms. "Aw, have you been drinking the water from the pool again? I've told you, people swim in there and every once in a while, somebody goes in it!"

"Hey!" Fu-Ling had a little catfight with Yuri, during which they pawed their hands at each other and whimpered. "I have never done that, as I keep telling you!"

"That's Orochimaru," Hong declared, finally speaking up since they'd seen the new guy. "The guy Fu-Ling thinks is creepy and Yuri thinks is hot - his name's Orochimaru." Anyone who was listening would have thought Hong was just a smart-ass, but Fu-Ling and Yuri had long since gotten used to her mentioning random facts. However, unlike some people, her facts actually pertained to what they were talking about. And this wasn't exactly a random fact - it was just that nobody had asked about it yet.

"Orochimaru," Yuri said dreamily, drawing out all five syllables. She said it like it was the most beautiful song in the world. After saying it, and running over the pronunciation a few times in her head, she decided she liked the sound of it. "What a wonderful name."

"Yeah, wonderful," Fu-Ling grumbled without really meaning it. That usually annoyed people, the way she constantly used sarcasm. At this point, however, nobody was really paying as much attention to how she was saying it, but what she was saying. "It means 'great serpent destruction' or ' great destruction serpent'." She rolled her eyes and sat back, placing her hands in her lap and sighing. "Whatever way you translate it, he's trouble in paradise, I tell ya. If you don't believe me, look up the legend of Yamata no Orochi!"

"I think we have a more serious problem than his name," Hong reminded the pinkette, pointing at Yuri, who was oblivious to their conversation. She had learned to tune them out, and had been ignoring them for the last few minutes, just staring at the white-skinned brunette. "She hasn't rated a guy over eight point six since she rated Hashi Hyuga an eight point nine when he moved in next door to me, and she's never rated a guy a perfect ten before - not even a fictional guy."

"That is a problem," Fu-Ling agreed, crossing her arms.

"He's from the Leaf Village, you know," Hong continued in her know-it-all voice.

"He is?" Yuri felt two things at the moment. One, happiness. And two, plain confusion. Her heart soared at the prospect that he was from her own village. He would be here around more, wouldn't he? That made her so giddy with glee, and she instantly wanted to see him more. But this also tossed her brain into a jumble. After all, if he was from this village...

Why hadn't she ever noticed him before?