IV

The New Prince


The walls were plain white and the floor was white marble but the vivd multi-colored paintings and the three crimson decorative carpets - made from an expensive material he couldn't identify - distracted anyone from noticing. They looked so soft Naruto had the urge to stroke them just to feel the material between his fingers. He stared in awe at the plush maroon sofa and chairs, all of them having white throw pillows on them. The sofa, directly facing him, was occupied by four girls.

"Thank you for meeting with us," Hinata said smiling fondly at him.

A circular white coffee table separated him from the girls, beside them four canvases perched on four wooden easels, each covered by a silk black sheet

Naruto would have enjoyed being there if it wasn't for the fact that he felt the eyes of girls inspecting every inch of his body. He straightened his back and buttoned the top of his blazer. It also didn't help that they were all smiling at him as if they were having afternoon tea. He marveled at their clear skin and straight white teeth. There wasn't a blemish in sight but something about the way they spoke and moved was stiff and robotic.

"As if I had a choice," Naruto said, biting his lip in irritation when Sakura's smile grew wider. Naruto had agreed to meet with them after his free period on the condition that they wouldn't harass him if he showed disinterest in the Bishonen club.

Sakura turned to Tenten. "You start first," she ordered. Tenten gave her a two finger salute.

"It's no secret that at Konoha Academy, the school isn't run by the faculty but by three boys," Sakura began, speaking in a clear authoritative voice. While Sakura spoke, Ten-ten got up from her seat and stood next to the first covered canvas to the far left.

"The first being Neji Hyuuga, Hinata's cousin," Sakura said.

With a forceful tug Tenten removed the sheet letting it fall to the floor. Naruto found himself staring at a large glossy photograph of a beautiful boy with long silken hair and soft lilac eyes. The boy's sculpted eyebrows were furrowed in intense concentration, his thin mouth was in a line and his jaw was clenched as if he was taking all of his effort not to lash out at the photographer. He recognized the boy from his geology class.

He's a lot prettier in real-life, Naruto noted to himself absently.

"Neji is the nephew of the Hiashi Hyuuga. The world's best known and most successful neurosurgeon," Tenten said.

Naruto glanced at Hinata, noticing that she was staring at her hands. Her expression was hidden by her long bangs but her shoulders were stiff and her knuckles were turning white. Sakura put a comforting hand on her shoulder and whispered something in her ear. Hinata nodded and looked up again, but her soft smile was gone.

"After retiring from his private practice, Hiashi became and head of Hyuuga Corporation which owns over ninety private hospitals and research facilities worldwide."

They brought me here to give me a presentation? Naruto thought. He felt a strange sinking feeling wash over him. His Godfather had told him not to be discouraged when he encoutered some of the more privilaged students but it was hard when said students kept reminding him that he was from a different world. One he didn't belong in.

"Neji is first in our class when it comes to academics," Tenten continued. "On his free time he enjoys quiet time in his dorm reading the classics." Tenten finished, sending him a fierce smirk before turning on her heel and sitting down.

Ino stood up next. She gave Naruto a genuine smile (the first genuine smile) and then bounced up to the canvas next to Neji's painting. She made sure Naruto's eyes connected with hers before pulling off the thin black material covering the picture.

Another boy he recognized from his geology class. The red head.

Unlike Neji's photograph, the Gaara was only of his profile. His black rimmed jade eyes looked heavenward with a faraway glance and his lips were slightly parted. His crimson hair was slightly disheveled but that didn't stop him from looking absolutely breathtaking.

Has to be Photoshopped, Naruto thought. How else could someone look so angelic but deadly all at once ?

"Gaara," Ino began in a peppy voice. "His father and mother are art dealers who own an impressive private art gallery which includes the work of Van Gough, Da Vinci, Picasso, Rousseau, and of course Warhol."

"Though a little rough around the edges, Gaara is very uh - expressive in his beliefs." Ino grinned, making Sakura roll her eyes. "He is our schools judo, swimming and wrestling champion and he also has numerous piercings and tattoos including the Kenji for love on his forehead."

Naruto raised his eyebrows at that. "Don't tell me, he's the bad boy right?" Naruto asked sarcastically.

The more the presentations wore on the more he could feel his small insecurities grow. Was there anyone in the club that wasn't wealthy, beautiful and talented? What if they found out all there was to him was his face? Even worse, what if they found out about his past? Naruto shook his head. No, there was no way they could find out. Not unless that old pervert couldn't keep his mouth shut.

Sakura stood, releasing Naruto from his thoughts. "Sasuke Uchiha," Sakura said, practically ripping off the black sheet.

"His father is Fugaku Uchiha who is the CEO of Sharingan, the tenth largest media conglomerate in the world." Sakura paused, as if that alone was supposed to impress Naruto. When Naruto didn't say anything she continued. "Sasuke's older brother Itachi created the prestigious Bishonen club as well as numerous other organizations that have helped this school prosper."

Naruto was surprised when Sakura didn't say anything more about Sasuke. No mention of his hobbies or special talents like the others. Sakura remained standing as Hinata joined her by the easels.

"Naruto Uzumaki," Hinata said shyly, blushing madly.

Naruto's mouth parted slightly. "Wait what?"

Naruto gaped in disbelief. He watched Hinata go to the last canvas and pull down the sheet. He could hear everyone else gasp in awe. He himself found he was staring at a beautiful blond girl with long spiked blond hair, bright blue eyes, whiskered marks on her tanned cheeks, and a huge grin that barred perfect white teeth.

"That picture was taken when I was fourteen," Naruto said, his voice hallow. Before he hit puberty. Growing up, Naruto would always attract the wrong attention from men because of his looks. He hated leaving his house (he was homeschooled until he was sixteen) and it was always a struggle if his parents wanted a picture of him. The photo was taken as a gift for his mother on mother's day. He felt a small pang of sadness at the memory. "Where did you get that?" He asked, his voice wavering. Hinata glanced at Sakura but Sakura shook her head.

"Naruto was born October 10th in Cherry Hills Hospital in down town Uzushio. Both parents were successful writers." Naruto's jaw cleanched. "His mother was a bestselling novelist and his father was a professor at Uzushio University with a series of hit science fiction novels under his belt. Naruto loves practical jokes, enjoys watching comedies, and is an avid long distance runner as well as a sprinter," Hinata finished.

"Okay this is really weird." Naruto squirmed in his seat. "Are you guys stalking me or something?"

"N-No of course not Naruto," Hinata reassured him.

"Then what the hell is this!" he shouted, pointing to the photo of himself. "And how did you find out all that stuff about me?"

"It wasn't hard to find out information about you," Tenten answered cryptically. "We know everything about you." Naruto froze.

"Congratulations Naruto, you have been chosen to be the fourth Bishonen Prince of Konoha Academy," Sakura proclaimed proudly, pointing a perfectly manicured finger at him.

"Technically third," Ino corrected. Sakura shot her a glare.

"Why?" Naruto asked hollowly. If what Tenten said was true and they knew everything about his past.

"You're the perfect candidate," Sakura said. "A fresh face."

"It's a chance to make new friends and network," Hinata supplied.

"The job isn't that hard Naruto. Basically, along with Neji, Gaara, ... and Sasuke, you pose for a few pictures, make appearances here and there and attend fundraisers for our school," Tenten explained. "It's sort of like being a spokes model."

Ino sighed, putting her hands on her hips. "You get a lot of free shit too."

Naruto leaned back in his chair, staring at his hands. "No."

The girls exchanged looks.

"Naruto," Sakura began slowly, as if she was afraid to scare him. "Please just think about it. We're giving you an amazing opportunity."

"Do you think I'm an idiot?" Naruto asked angrily.

Sakura regarded him seriously before answering. "No of course not. We think you'd make an amazing asset to this club."

"Sasuke said the only reason you want me is because you've been backed into a corner by Itachi," Naruto said, his blue eyes clashing with Sakura's.

"Did he?" she said stiffly.

"It's alright if you don't want to do it," Ino said softly. Tenten and Sakura turned to glare at her. "We understand."

"Being a Prince is very prestigious honor," Sakura cut in. "The Prince program was started as an after-school club and has blossomed into a lucrative fundraising opportunity. We don't take our recruitment lightly."

"All the money we make goes into funding for extracurricular activities and class trips," Hinata added.

Naruto sighed irritably."But Sasuke –"

"Whatever Sasuke said he said out of petty jealousy," Tenten said, folding her arms. "He wasn't able to carry-out the terms of his contract fully but still wants the benefits. When we tried to out him he lashed out."

"Even if what you said is true, all I want is a normal high school experience," Naruto said. "This sounds like a lot of responsibility."

"There are perks to balance our that responsibility," Sakura replied slyly. Naruto eyed her skeptically.

"We can draft a short contract," Hinata said suddenly. Ino, Tenten and Sakura stared at her. "Two weeks to show you how fun it can be to be a Prince. After the two weeks you can decide for yourself if you want to stay."

"What's so great about being a Prince anyway?" Naruto asked.

"Huge legions of undying fans," said Tenten. "Being a Prince is like being a school idol."

Naruto rolled his eyes. "Don't you mean creepy stalkers?"

"Everything is free," Sakura added. "You won't have to pay for anything for this school. Ever."

Naruto perked up. "Even school supplies and textbooks?"

Tenten smiled. "School supplies, food, school trips and many more. You even get a car."

Naruto flinched as if he had been slapped. A car? Exactly how much wealth and power did this club have?

"I still think you should think about this before you make a commitment," Ino said hurriedly.

Sakura gave her a warning look.

"You get an all access pass to sporting events inside and outside of the school. You also get full membership into any other club you want to join, as long as it doesn't interfere with your Prince duties. Most of all you can access to the ultra-chic Bishonen room," Sakura said motioning around the room. "You're allowed to do anything here. Drink, smoke, or throw a party."

"How can you afford all of this…?" Naruto wondered out loud without meaning to.

"You'd be surprised how much money people will pay for a picture of you with your shirt off," Ino muttered.

Sakura pushed her hair behind her ears and regarded Naruto seriously. "We don't expect an answer right away so we will give you until this weekend to figure out if this is something you want to do."

Naruto turned to Hinata. "It'd only be for two weeks?"

She nodded rapidly.

Naruto took a deep breath, his heart beating softy against his chest. "I'll do it.

Sakura smiled triumphantly, Tenten smirked, and Hinata beamed.

"Are you sure about this?" Ino asked. Naruto paused, locking eyes with her.

"Whose side are you on?" Tenten mumbled playfully.

"You only live once right?" Naruto replied.

Ino gave him a weak smile."People only say that to justify their recklessness."

"Hinata," Sakura interjected, turning to the blushing girl. "Make sure I have a copy of his revised contract by tomorrow to show to the Five."

"I'll get you a draft by tonight," Hinata said. She stopped and smiled shyly at Naruto, blushing. "I look forward to working with you."

"Me too," Naruto said. "So what happens now?"

Sakura smirked. "Tenten and I will go over our proposal to the Five. Hinata will draft the contract, and Ino will get all of your information so we can contact you."

"What if the…Five...don't want me to be a Prince?"

Sakura gave a light airy laugh. "Trust us, they will."

Hinata avoided looking at him and Tenten shifted uncomfortably. Ino however, straightened her shoulders and stared him down. Naruto was alert to the sudden shift in demeanor.

"Your position isn't guaranteed until Sakura and Tenten talks to Itachi," Ino said. "He and the council have the final say in whether or not you're in." None of the other girls tried to stop Ino as she continued, her voice low. "If you get accepted your life is no longer your own, it belongs to the club. They decide what classes you take, who your friends are, and who you date and socialize with. As long as you're part of this club, Itachi and the council own you. I want you to understand that before you decide this is something you actually want."

Sakura sighed, massaging her temple. "Not helping."

"It's really not that bad," Tenten said meekly. "The pros far outweigh the cons."

Hinata nodded in agreement, giving him a small smile. "We'll look after you."

Naruto nodded mutely, suddenly getting the sickening feeling he'd sold his soul to the devil.