A.N. Alright, giving a shot at writing in third person limited. Hope you like this story. Should be interesting, I think. ;)
Apart from the World
One – Silent Sunshine
Naru watched sullenly as the other children played with each other.
They thought she was too shy or stuck up to talk with them. Ha! Shy? Her? Naru was a naturally bubbly person. But, Naru frowned, thinking, Jiji said that the other kids wouldn't understand sign language. Naru had no friends all the school year so far because of the communication barrier between her and her class, and it was already half way through!
It was incredibly frustrating for Naru.
Naru was sure that if the kids her age were more observant they would see. And if they noticed, they would surely say something, right?
Naru couldn't say anything about it.
But after that first out-of-the-blue conversation they would be on the fast track to best friends. Right?
Naru didn't know.
But, she thought optimistically, it was sure to happen eventually!
Naru climbed up a nearby tree in a bout of restless energy. This went unnoticed by all in the schoolyard, of course.
The blonde eight-year-old girl sat on the uppermost branch and watched the other students again. It was the only thing she could do, besides pulling pranks. But she had no supplies with her right now, having been detained by her kind, but strict, teacher. And besides, if she couldn't talk to her classmates, she could observe them, right?
Kiba was sort of like her, she thought. There were quite a few prime differences though, mainly being his mild arrogance and big mouth.
Hinata was a girl Naru thought would be a nice friend. But she was awfully shy and stuttered constantly.
Sasuke was arrogant and stoic; while Ino and Sakura were people she found annoying. Them both and the rest of Sasuke's fan girls.
Shikamaru was lazy and smart, while Chouji was loyal and had a big heart. They made good best friends. Naru absent-mindedly wished she had someone like that, but brushed the thought away.
Turning her gaze to the last figure she recognized from her class, Naru frowned.
The dark brown haired boy wearing a high collar was a mystery to her. His name was Shino and, like her, had no friends to speak of. The others made it obvious they found him creepy, so they stayed away. Naru had heard from a student's conversation that he was an 'Aburame', whatever that was. She didn't know about clan names or the abilities ties to them.
Jumping down form the tree clumsily, she determinedly made her way back inside to the library. It wasn't her favorite place in the world with all those books, but she was willing to give up her lunch break to find out about these so called 'Aburame' and why they were avoided like the plague.
Naru flipped another ninja information book on the floor lethargically. This. Was. Really. Boring. And she couldn't find information on the Aburame clan! Well, at least more than a passing mention.
The blonde got up with an inaudible sigh to put back the books she had looked over and grab some more. Maybe she wasn't looking in the right section?
Naru put away a book titled "Ninja History of Konoha" in the 'N' section. She stood back and looked at the wall of books. Then, she slapped her forehead and mentally berated herself, moving towards the "A" section.
'I've been looking for a general book on all ninja clans. There's probably an in-depth one just about the Aburame available. I'm such a dolt sometimes.'
Sure enough, right in front of her was a ridiculously thin book labeled: 'What We Know about the Aburame'. Naru grinned in victory and took it down from the shelf.
Skipping back to her seat in the corner, she quickly opened the crisply unused book and started reading.
Naru stomped her foot in frustration. That "What We Know about the Aburame" book knew barely anything about Aburames! Really, all it said was that Aburames had a special ability that enabled them to hold colonies of special bugs in their bodies. Just in not as little words.
If Naru was anything, she was curious.
And this did not satisfy her curiosity!
And it sounded really cool to have bugs living in your body, Naru thought. Was that why everyone avoided Shino? Because he had bugs in him?
That was a stupid reason.
Just 'cuz Aburame are different doesn't mean they should be outcasts. And Naru knew a thing or two about being differentand an outcast.
Looking up, she sighed impatiently, pushing her thoughts to the side for a moment. She was waiting to be paired up with another student from her class for their first survival training expedition. Their sensei for their whole time at the Academy, Iruka, was going down the list of pre-arranged teams of two, calling them forward and handing them their Academy-grade tents and food bag. The class had been learning about setting up camp and outdoor survival for two months now, and it was time to put it to the test.
"Uzumaki Naru and…" Iruka started, reading the next team. Naru perked up at hearing her name, "Aburame Shino."
She glanced over at the quiet boy she had been contemplating most of the day. He turned his head in her direction for a second -the only way she could tell he was looking her way because of his dark shades- his expression impossible to read. Then he turned to the senseis and walked forward to take the tent, leaving the food bag to Naru.
As Naru moved forward she heard the usual whispers directed at her. 'She doesn't ever talk.' 'Whatta weirdo!'
Sometimes Naru wished she could talk just to tell them she was mute, dang it!
Naru took the food backpack from Iruka, and gave him a dazzling grin.
"You'll be okay, Naru?" he asked worriedly. He knew she was mute, and was the only teacher kind enough to ask even though Naru couldn't reply. No one thought to learn sign language any more. Well, at least anyone below Jounin level.
The blonde girl nodded to his question, sending the kind-hearted man a reassuring smile.
Joining Shino at the edge of the Academy yard, she grew frustrated again. There were so many questions the curious Uzumaki wanted to ask the mysterious boy about his clan.
A tugging at the back of her subconscious notified her that she was being watched. Glancing at her silent companion, she found him studying her from behind his sunglasses. His tense, closed off stance showed he was thinking hard about something. Not being able to talk has forced Naru to pick up on details like such, whether she wanted to or not. The blonde gave the supposed bug-user a curious look and he shook his head in reply, turning away.
What did that mean?
Naru waited with Shino as the rest of the class was paired up. They were instructed to find a spot to camp for the night in the forest over the Hokage Mountain. Shino moved forward, but instead of following after the other teams that were headed to the mountain, he stood beside the gate and waited for them to pass before turning to Naru.
He was silent for a moment, but Naru had a feeling he was going to say something.
"You are mute."
Naru blinked for a moment. Then she nodded, waiting for what else he had to say.
"None of the others notice, because they are not mature enough to look beyond themselves." He stated.
Again, Naru nodded, this time more sadly.
Shino fell silent again. Naru rocked back and forth on her heels. She supposed that if she could talk she'd ramble on about something to break the silence.
"How do you communicate, then?" he asked, sounding slightly less stiff.
'Sign language' she signed with her hands. He watched for a moment.
"I have never learned sign language." He said after a moment. Then he paused almost uncertainly for a moment. "I am sorry."
Naru was stunned. No one had ever apologized for not knowing sign language. Mostly they just brushed her off and assumed she was fine with not imputing in the conversation.
Then, she grinned brightly at him. This boy wasn't creepy at all; he was actually quite thoughtful of others.
Naru saw his cheeks rise slightly from under his collar and assumed he was smiling back at her. He looked even more comfortable now.
"We should get going. We will be the last ones up there at this rate."
Naru walked beside the brown haired Aburame for a moment, then stopped and tugged on his sleeve. He looked at her through his dark glasses calmly, but Naru had the distinct impression that he was startled. Naru was confused over it for a moment before remembering what little she had learned from the book she read earlier. People usually shied away from Aburames.
"Yes?" He asked, stopping beside her.
Naru looked around for something to write on. A nearby stick sufficed for her purpose.
I know a shortcut, she wrote in the dirt. Shino raised an eyebrow at her.
"You do? Is it safe?"
Naru bobbed her head frantically. Shino seemed to contemplate for a moment, then nodded to her in return.
The girl grinned and started walking towards the mountain, then stopped again and wrote something else.
Do you mind if we stop by my apartment? I need to grab something to write on.
"That is fine, as long as it doesn't take long to get there."
Naru nodded again and resumed walking in the same direction. Her apartment was on the way.
They walked quietly until they came to Naru's run-down living quarters. Naru peeked nervously over at Shino, waiting with apprehension for the insult to her home. But Shino did not say anything. He only surveyed the place as he followed her in, seemingly contemplating once more.
Naru grabbed her orange pen and pad of paper from her table in her one-room place. Well, two rooms, counting the bathroom. Then, as she turned back to her companion, he finally asked a question.
"You live alone?"
Naru paused, and then nodded. Shino looked a tad uncomfortable in asking, like he was afraid of offending the girl.
Naru hurried to reassure him, scribbling a few sentences on her paper and handing it to him. I don't mind your questions. I don't get to talk to people often, so it's fine.
His shoulders released some tension after he finished reading. He looked back up at her and handed back the notebook. Naru moved towards the door and he followed, somewhat hesitantly asking his next question.
"What about your parents?"
Naru paused and almost refused to answer the question. But she had already told Shino that she didn't mind his questions. And she was not going to miss this opportunity to make a friend.
I don't have any.
"They… died, then?"
Naru looked over at him. He was obviously trying to be as gentle and tactful as possible. He knew he was treading on sensitive territory. Yet he was making an effort to keep up the conversation. She'd have to ask him why.
I don't know, she wrote, answering his question, I never knew them. I've been alone as long as I can remember.
Why do you keep talking to me? she asked next.
"I apologize," he said, looking more flustered than she'd ever saw him, which wasn't saying much, "Does it bother you?"
Naru shook her head energetically, cutting him off before he could say more. No, it's really nice, actually. It's just…
"Just what?" Shino asked, following her down the unused path beside the one up to the Hokage Monument.
Naru shifted uncomfortably as she handed him the pad of paper once again.
It's just… No one else has made an effort to keep up the conversation for so long. Most people get bored with reading half the conversation and sorta…
"Brush you off?" He supplied.
Naru nodded again.
"I know how it feels." He said simply, looking away for a moment.
Naru was confused for a moment. He knew how it felt? Why would someone brush off such a thoughtful boy? Naru had only known him for under an hour, and she was sure she really liked him!
Then she remembered (once again) that Shino was an Aburame. She remembered the questions she wanted to ask. She started scribbling furiously, attracting Shino's attention back to her.
You're an Aburame, right? I was reading about your clan today, but the only book I found didn't explain anything! Do you really have bugs inside your body? How does that work? It sounds really cool!
She handed the pad to Shino, who stopped walking suddenly after he started reading. While his shaded eyes flew across the page, Naru noticed that they were now in the forest above the Hokage monument. In the perfect spot for camp, too.
Naru noticed Shino staring at her again. It was like he couldn't quite figure her out.
"You think its 'cool'?" He asked finally.
Naru nodded hesitantly. She grabbed the paper back to write her next message.
I'm sorry. Are you mad?
Shino made a chocked sound when she handed him the paper once more.
"Mad? No, I was just surprised. Most people aren't interested in the Aburame and are irrationally afraid of bugs. Yes, I do have bugs in my body, but it's only a half a colony. I'll get a full colony when I graduate to genin status. As for how it works, it's a special process that we Aburame undergo when we are born. It's not really something I can explain."
Naru sighed in relief when he admitted he was not mad at her and listened intently to his response to her questions.
"We need to set up this tent before it gets much darker out." Shino stated, changing the subject to a more pressing issue.
Naru nodded and happily helped him take the shelter out of the bag. The tent was simple (if a bit worn) and only took the duo a minute to set up. Then they sat at the entrance and wondered vaguely what to do.
Shino cleared his throat after a moment to catch Naru's attention. He raised a hand uncertainly, "I need to do my daily practice with my Kikai bugs. Do you mind?"
Naru shook her head quickly. She was very interested to see how he controlled the tiny insects. She leaned forward slightly to watch.
Shino seemed unnerved at her obvious interest for a second, then shrugged it off, apparently deciding to act as if she wasn't there.
Naru's silent mouth dropped open in unabashed awe at the small swarm of bugs that came out of Shino's sleeve. He waved his arm and the swarm responded accordingly, moving in loops and jagged lines. It seemed awfully complicated to Naru, but Shino only seemed to be concentrating mildly. She concluded that he must've practiced a lot.
After he finished he looked to see Naru's reaction, hoping she hadn't changed her mind and instead thought he was creepy like the rest of the class did. Shino hadn't had friends before, only his family for company. Shino secretly –desperately- wanted someone who would be a friend to him.
When Shino turned to Naru, she gave him a hundred-watt foxy smile. She thought Shino's abilities were super-amazing and told him so on her pad of paper.
Shino stared at the paper for a moment thoughtfully. Then, he looked back up at her and gave a small, sincere smile.
The two watched the sun dip below the horizon in companionable silence. Then, just before Shino opened his mouth to say 'We should get to sleep,' Naru shoved the pad of paper into his hands and looked away, nervously wringing her hands.
Shino looked down and read the last line she wrote. When Naru heard a soft intake of breath, she turned around to face him again, anxiously awaiting his answer.
Wanna be friends?
Shino read it over and over, not quite believing it the first time. The unbelieving, shocked, side of him wanted to think that she didn't really mean it. Then, the logical side of him knew that she wouldn't have written it if she didn't mean it. Shino was very aware that writing something down was different than saying it. When writing something, you have to consciously think about it – you can't blurt it out without thought.
Then, there was a part of Shino that didn't care about logic or shock. That part was thinking: 'This is my chance to have a friend.'
Shino looked up at the girl. 'A good friend.'
Naru was starting to lose hope from his lack of reaction. Maybe she had asked too soon? She had just met him formally today. But Naru was so glad to have someone who didn't judge her right off the bat for being mute, she just couldn't help herself.
But, when he finally looked up from the note, she knew that he felt as much a connection to her and she felt to him.
"Yes." He stated, a hint of a smile in his voice, "Yes, I would very much like to be friends."
A.N.: Hmm? Well? What d' ya think? Longer start up chapter than I'm used to. Plus it's written in third person, which is new for me. I hope Shino's not too OOC. But, whatever. Review please!
Special thanks to S.N. Doucette! She's the one who got me on this idea and gave me her opinions that helped a whole bunch!