Summary: High School becomes much more complicated for Sasuke Uchiha as he grows more acquainted with Sakura Haruno, an athelete with more than one secret to keep.
The characters are very much themselves, with the exception of Sakura. Well, rather than say I changed her, I more or less made her who she would be if she was faced with hardships at an early age. As for Sasuke and Naruto I kept them pretty much themselves, which is intentional since I enjoy them as they are.
The sun had not risen yet over the horizon fully, leaving flakes and flares of pink light over the track and field behind the school. Sasuke apprehensively stood by the gate biting his lower lip in his only physical representation of surprise. The school usually wouldn't open the gate until seven forcing him to wait outside until a janitor saw him, allowing him into the library to read. Today it was already opened.
He didn't question it, stepping inside. The sun slowly began to grow larger in the east, the mist growing heavier with the rising humidity, but Sasuke didn't let it bother him any more than the usual weather would. The fact that the heat was beginning so early in the morning was slightly disturbing but no more than a sign that he should get more hydrated as the day progressed.
The tapping of shoes caught his ears' attention and he froze, standing next to the track field by the locker rooms, nearly hidden in the shadow of the building. There was a rushing sound off to his right which he turned to but couldn't catch in time before a soft plopping sound. The high jump.
Sasuke peered into the mist, squinting his eyes but even then he could barely see the figure in the distance, getting to their feet slowly from the high jump pad. Sasuke could see that the bar, set to at least 5 feet high, was still in tact, which, though no record-breaking height, was impressive for someone at a high school level. Sasuke attempted to see the jumper but couldn't catch a glimpse in the mist and at that distance. His inquisitiveness overtook his desire to see the library and he took a few tentative steps outward, trying to see the jumper.
Sakura lowered her body into a crouch, already warmed, stretched, and thoroughly ready for a brisk run around the track. The hurdles were already in place and gleaming in the early morning light, slick with mist like her skin. She eyed them, her gaze set with determination. A girl as short as her had difficulty jumping over those things at full speed, and she was certainly no different. They were a bit frightening to her, to be honest. There was always the fear of her foot getting caught on one of them, sending her sprawling onto her face. She shuddered at the mental image but geared up nonetheless. She looked at her watch on her left wrist and set it to start in five seconds. In five seconds it would beep loudly and she would sprint around the track as fast as she could, jumping the hurdles in her way and hopefully breaking her own record.
She took a long breath, the sweat already beginning to accumulate on the back of her neck and on the sides of her temples. Beep. Beep.
Sasuke could see her, her body tensed like a spring, pink hair tied back and green eyes blazing from the exercise. He had never seen a more intense glare in her normally spastic eyes. He vaguely heard a beeping sound and faster than his eyes could catch, she bolted like a bullet from a revolver from her crouched position into a full on sprint. Her body moved gracefully, her legs making strong powerful strides and covering as much ground as someone twice her size. She was like a bolt of lightning, and she gracefully cleared the first hurdle without losing a millisecond of speed. He couldn't help but be enraptured by it, the sheer force in her gaze as she practically stared down the next hurdle like an enemy then as she cleared it watch the look of congratulations she'd give herself. One after the other surrendered to the power of her legs and arms, both moving in complete synchronization, yet those eyes devoured Sasuke's attention like a magnet. She seemed hellbent on completing the lap with no mistakes. No flaws.
Sakura flew faster and faster, panting and feeling her body protest with every step yet she was exhilarated at the same time. Her heart began to slowly tell her brain that this was getting dangerous though. Her lungs were overworking themselves, the asthma kicking in at the exact wrong moment. For a moment, the moment before the final lunge and the last twenty feet of the track, she could feel her heart stop, her lungs cave in and wheeze, out of breath. Her feet had already left the ground, but her heart sank as they caught the final hurdle, slipping off the plastic material easily but it had been enough to throw her off balance.
Sakura tumbled through the air like a ragdoll, flipping end over end, her hands blocking her blow enough to roll her to the side, where she continued to tumble until finally, six feet from where she had originally landed, she stopped, panting heavily.
Sasuke tensed and resisted the urge to rush in after her, but she slowly got her hands underneath her body before hoisting herself up. She sat there panting for a bit, and Sasuke watched with smug satisfaction. She fell. Would she cry? Throw a fit? She seemed like the kind of girl who would sob and feel sorry for herself. Most girls were like that at this school...
Her shoulders began to tremble and he shook his head, silently congratulating himself on his correct prediction. But abruptly the sound of laughter not tears struck his ears like a hammer against a gong. She was laughing, clapping her hands at herself like a fool and tears of mirth running down her face. She clutched her stomach she was laughing so hard, slowly getting to her feet and walking back to the hurtle that had felled her.
Sakura looked at the thing like it was an old friend playing a practical joke on her, and she she lifted it back to a standing position, Sasuke could have sworn he saw her patting it with her other hand. Before checking it out of course. "Ho, dang," he heard her laugh to herself, noticing her limb covered with blood and dirt. Her knees were in the same condition as well as her other arm and even a bit of her face. But that intensity never left her eyes for a second. "Well that wasn't so bad. Haha..." She traced a finger over the hurtle again. "I thought that would be much worse."
"No more fear," she whispered to herself. "I can conquer it now."
A noise to her right made her head snap up, red rising to her cheeks. God forbid anyone saw that. But thankfully no one was there. Just her and the empty track field. Even now the mist was beginning to clear.
"Good God, Sakura!" Naruto cried, looking the girl up and down at the lunch table as she stood before him, her lunch tray in hand. Her face, arms and legs were covered in bandages and band aids, and she smelled like ointment.
"What?" she asked with a small grin. "I'm gearing up for Halloween. I'm being a Mummy this year."
"Jesus Christ," the blonde boy murmured while she sat beside him. Ino, Shikamaru, and Kiba voiced there opinions in loud declarative statements, but Naruto made a point of pulling her aside. "Listen, Sakura, if anyone's messing with you, you know I'll-"
"Keep it cool," she hissed with a small laugh. "I'll tell you later what happened, I promise, but it's just embarrassing, alright?"
He leaned back slowly. "Fine..."
The table stopped talking at the sound of Sasuke's voice. No one had even noticed him sitting down with his lunch on the other side of Naruto before now, and the seriousness in his voice was slightly disturbing.
Sakura could feel her face begin to get hot, feeling the severity of his scrutiny.
Sasuke was ever the cool one of the group, rarely speaking and never laughing as the others. He seemed to have other pressing matters to occupy his thoughts. Sasuke had come to the school a few months after the beginnings of Freshman year, an old friend of Naruto's from his middle school days. He'd been intensely popular from day one, catching the eyes and hearts of every girl from class A to Z, and Sakura was no exception. Sasuke was the complete package: good looking, smart, athletic, serious, and capable. His family was rich and of the powerful elite of the city, and as one of the top students of the school, his future looked to be set in gold. Any girl to claim such a prize was sure to have her life set. Many girls tried and failed to hook up with the sullen Uchiha, going as far as to scream and clamor about in crowds, creating signs and banners and generally disturbing all peace. Their love was overwhelming.
Sakura, however, knew her attraction for the silent youth was nothing more than the natural reaction a young female body held for the ideal male. Evolution dictated that the strongest, most capable male was the most desirable for a mate, and her body reacted accordingly. She was a smart girl, top of her class in academics with an IQ surpassing most of the professors in college, and she therefore knew better than to react to the sways of a weak human body. She had her own diminishing body to care for anyway, so she left him alone and pretended he wasn't there. It prevented her from gushing and sputtering about like a fool. However, being spoken to directly from him made that incredibly difficult.
The young Uchiha's black eyes were almost like probes, assessing her mercilessly.
"Y-yeah?" She tried to act natural.
"Where'd you get the bandages?"
Her mind instantly raced with every possible answer to that question. There were so many ways she could go with it. Her heart longed for a conversation with him, anything to keep that gaze, unnerving as it was, fixated upon her. The conditions for which she'd received the bandages made making the decision much easier. She played it dumb. "The nurses' office of course!"
He sat back, disgusted, folding his arms over his chest. "Whatever."
The mood at the table grew darker by the second and Naruto couldn't stand it. "You know what?"
And he divulged a homespun tale of his last visit to the ramen shop down the corner, and at that point the entire table yelled at him to be quiet, burst into a fit of laughter and forgot about Sasuke's eyes. Except Sakura. Though she appeared nonchalant, she could feel him staring at her, and already the hairs on the nape of her neck grew higher and higher.
The high jump. Sakura's favorite track event. She was setting the bar higher today than before at five feet seven inches, and as she stared it down, contemplating if she could ever surmount something over three inches higher than she was, she could feel another set of eyes staring her down. She spun and saw Sasuke again, looking at her for a moment before flicking his head away. He was down by the hurtles, stretching his long legs and hips. Already he was sweating from the high heat, and he held a water bottle to his lips before stretching his arms. He was taller than most boys, a few inches over Naruto and his face was pale and flawless, like ivory. Even the light spray of sweat over his face served to be almost like a glossy finished cast over a work of art. His body was thin yet muscular, the makings of a six-pack bulging from his shirt when he turned his body the right way, which was often while he was moving one arm behind his back, then switching.
Surprisingly he talked easily to Naruto beside him, his lips moving but his eyes darting Sakura's way between every couple of phrases. Naruto either ignored those subtle glances or didn't notice them, laughing hard at whatever Sasuke had said. At this the dark-haired boy smirked, his mouth curving upward. Sakura felt heat rise to her face, and at this point she averted her eyes and looked at the high jump.
This sight, though not nearly as intoxicating, was much safer.
"You ready?" Ino was Sakura's partner for the day, the one who had set up the bar and who had tested the mat to make sure it was ready to catch Sakura's body. "What the..." Ino's eyes glanced over Sakura's shoulder.
"What?" Sakura turned back to the other side of the field toward the hurtles, back to where Sasuke was standing. Again she made sure to avert her gaze from him.
Ino shook her head. "I could have sword Sasuke was staring at you."
Sakura laughed nervously. "I hope not. This is gonna be embarrassing when I fall flat on my face."
The blonde girl shook her head and laughed. "You always say that! Even though you're the best on our track team. How bout some faith in yourself, okay?"
"Yeah, yeah, you ready or not?"
"I've been waiting. Go ahead!"
"You know, this isn't as easy as it looks right? I have to get focused!"
Ino's head shook, her blonde ponytail shifting over the backs of her shoulders. "Just go already, will you?"
Sakura took a deep breath and eyed the high jump again, inhaling through her nose, exhaling through her mouth and repeating the process. She held out a long pointed hand toward the high jump, challenging it. She could feel the eyes of the rest of the students on the field flick their gazes to her. As Ino had said she was the best on the team, which sometimes attracted more attention than she liked when practicing. She closed her eyes, and locked all of them out, especially Sasuke. Of course she was half imagining he was watching too... of course...
Then she took off, curving her steps toward the pole and then vaulting through the air. Her body twisted mid air, the first half of her body making it over easily. It was the control of when to move the feet out of the way of the pole that was the hardest part. Her hands twisted with her, and her feet lifted at the exact right second, barely missing the pole by the tips of her shoes.
She landed with a thwack against the mat, berated by the sounds of Ino's excited screams. "You did it! Sakura you broke the school record!"
The whole track team surrounded the high jump, roaring with approval, as one of them dashed out to get the coach to make it official. They screamed and cheered her name, and she smiled, slowly getting to her feet and crawling out of the mat with a hand from Ino. Sakura could even see Naruto running from the other side of the field to probably tackle her to the ground in excitement.
The voices of her surrounding peers grew louder and louder in Sakura's ear drums, and she blinked trying to take everything in. For some reason her breathing wouldn't calm down despite being relieved from the harsh task of the jump, and she panted harshly in and out. No one seemed to notice, cheering her name as one of the more studious students rushed up with a notebook, recording the time of day, the height of the jump and Sakura's student information, intending to take it to the track coach as indisputable proof. Sakura's eyes began to blur, and she gasped repeatedly, breathing, breathing, breathing but the feeling of not having enough air was frightening her, sending her body into a panic. It was all too much. The record was broken, the people were crowding her, taking her air. Her air... Her lungs were closing up and fast, her heart slowing in her chest. Her brain protested violently, screaming at the rest of her body "More air! More air!"
But nothing delivered. She was shutting down. Sakura's eyes widened and her mouth opened as she tried to heave in air but none would come. She reached out her hands to back the people away, but they only crowded her more, not realizing she was having an attack. Finally Ino seemed to understand. "Sakura?"
Sakura coughed and tried to pull in, yet her lungs would not respond. She grew more afraid, tears brimming in her eyes and falling down her face hot and fast. No, no, no, not now. Please not now. She couldn't die now. Naruto was in the back of the pack, screaming her name, but he couldn't get to her, and she could feel herself falling. Everyone was calling her name, but one in particular rang out and echoed in her head over and over again.
Chapter 1 end.
Reviews are appreciated I suppose.