Here's the first new story from the poll!
Keep in mind that this is the prologue; all later chapters will be three times as long as this one. Ages have been changed, so be on the lookout for that.
Also: anyone who reviews, please put "RING! RING! Banana Phone!" somewhere in your message. I want to see how many people actually read this note at the beginning of the story so I'll know if I'm just wasting my time...
I own nothing; all flames will used to cook Naruto's ramen.
Pease read and review! :)
She saw him for the first time when she was six.
At the time, she'd thought nothing of him except that he was just some random red-haired eleven-year-old whom she didn't recognize. She'd also been a bit upset that he was watching her indifferently as she sat helplessly in the dirt, holding up her arms in a feeble attempt to block the rocks the other girls in her class were throwing at her. An older woman stood near him — his grandmother, she would later learn. When the woman, Chiyo, finally noticed what he was staring at, she yelled at the children to leave the poor girl alone. Terrified, they ran without hesitation. Despite his grandmother's kindness toward the little pink-haired girl, he was the only one that noticed the way she glared after her attackers with a sort of fire in her eyes.
A bright fire. A lovely fire.
One that had the potential to turn the pathetic child before him into a ferocious kunoichi.
And only he recognized it.
His grandmother — one of the six members of the Suna council — had come to Konoha to meet with the village's elders to inquire about a temporary peace treaty, and seeing as he had no other family, she had brought him along as well. They were on their way to the Hokage Tower at that moment, and they had no time to stop.
"Come, Sasori," Chiyo murmured, placing a gentle hand on his back to guide him. She turned, obviously intending to leave the kid where she was. "That child is a Konoha girl; now that she's out of danger, we have no need to help her. Besides — you remember what the Konoha no Shiori Kiba did to your parents." Her frown deepened. "These people aren't worth our time."
But, even as his grandmother led his away, he looked back at the unnamed girl. The way she just sat there, staring after him, frowning, fists clenching in the dirt, messy hair falling around blazing green eyes…
His interest had been piqued.
This girl —
He didn't know what it was about the little pink-haired child, but she was different.
And he intended to make sure she reached her full potential.
His name was Sasori. He was eleven and already a jonin of Sunagakure. Status: A-Rank.
He had planned to leave his village after four more years — at which time he would have achieved the level of S-Rank. He wasn't particularly sure where he's go first, but Rice Country and Tea Country were rather appealing. On his way out of Suna, he'd "collect" the Sandaime Kazekage and pick up any other seemingly powerful shinobi along the way.
However, that all changed the moment he witnessed a tiny, insignificant girl glare after a large group of tormentors as if she were an ANBU intently planning their demise.
He'd seen many things in her eyes — intelligence, undiluted hatred, raw potential.
And the crippling hunger to learn.
So, for the first time in his life, Sasori did something on a whim. He slipped into the citizen records room (the guards were laughable in strength) while his grandmother and the rest of the Suna Council discussed diplomatic matters and such with Konoha's Council of Elders. A genius in his own right, he was able to determine the rough location of the girl's file amongst the thousands. Five or so minutes of searching produced the results he'd been expecting.
Name: Haruno Sakura
DOB: March 28
Hair Color: pink
Eye Color: green
Skin Tone: pale
Last Recorded Height: 41 in.
Last Recorded Weight: 46.2 lbs.
— Mother: Deceased
— Father: Decease
— Siblings: N/A
— Grandparents: Deceased
— Other: Unknown
Currently up for adoption.
Status: Academy Student
Her profile continued on with trivial information such as the location of her last home, her shinobi ID number, and her medical history (admitted into the hospital often with large bruises and cuts, but allergic to nothing). He flipped through papers until he came upon her latest Ninja Academy transcript.
Classroom Attitude: C-
Ah. He nearly smirked. It was better than he'd expected. Her potential was incredible, but she was most likely overlooked for her fragile build and her more noteworthy classmates — Uchiha Sasuke, Hyuga Neji, and the Kyubi jinchuriki, for example. He doubted the teachers gave her the time of day.
She was just a student without a sensei.
But, today, that was going to change.
Sasori was confident that she would accept his offer.
After all, she was exactly like himself: alone, neglected, self-educated, potentially a prodigy (though she had no Kekkei Genkai), and thirty to obtain the knowledge and power necessary to demand respect. Because of this, he knew that she would never pass up an opportunity to reach her goal.
When he left Konoha with his grandmother that afternoon — because the Suna-nin refused to remain in that "despicable village" overnight, he made no attempt to look for Sakura. He merely returned home, gathered his things in the middle of the night, "collected" the Sandaime, and made his way back to Konoha. (It was truly the best place for him to stay, because it was the only place Chiyo would never think to look for him in.) The entire trip took nearly six days, but when he approached the place where he'd first seen Sakura, she was there again.
And he'd arrived at the right moment, it appeared, because she was walking away. Scars glared at him from her arms, signaling that the abuse he'd witnessed had yet to end. He followed her all the way to an abandoned training ground and watched as she relieved some of her frustration by chucking a stolen kunai at a tree. The blade jammed deep into the bark, but her accuracy was a bit off. He expected her to come out with a handful of smuggled weapons and proceed to launch them blindly at invisible targets; instead, she slumped against another tree and slid down to the ground. Sensing his opportunity to harness her potential slipping away, he made his move.
Had he waited a single day more, she would have broken down and given into the nightmare of being weak. She would have then befriended a young blond girl in her class and grown to be an average kunoichi at best.
But because he had acted upon a whim for the very first time, he had succeeded.
Her head shot up as he appeared before her, jade-colored eyes wide.
Her voice was soft, quiet. Much like his own.
"Sakura." She froze at the sound of her name. "I have come to make you a proposition." The immediate suspicion flashing in her eyes pleased him.
"What kind of proposition?"
He approved of the way she watched and questioned him warily, even as he stood over her.
"I will teach you." He wasted no time. "I will teach you all that I know so that you may be able to obtain the respect you so desperately desire."
Her breath hitched somewhere in her throat, heart nearly stopping. His words seemed to register after a long moment, and she finally spoke. "…if you do that," she said faintly, slightly dazed, looking as though she though him to be a god, "I will do anything you ask."
He gave a curt nod; he'd known she would say that. Crouching down before her, he took a strand of her hair and rubbed it between his fingers. His eyes were distant and unfocused. "You will become my tool," he murmured in a deceptively gentle tone. "You will fight for me, aid me when I call upon you. From now until the moment of your death, you will pledge loyalty only to me. Not to this village, and not to your future teammates. Me." His gaze seared hers. "In exchange, I will ensure that you become the most widely-revered kunoichi of your time."
She almost shivered at the lovely tales he wove of such a desirable future. His promises were smooth, seductive. And simply by gazing into his molten hazel eyes, she knew that he could keep each and every one of those promises.
So, without hesitation, without fear, she uttered the two small words that would forever bind her to him.
Come, my marionette, and dance for me.
Dance for me, love me—
And I'll make you beautiful for the world to see.