As Naruto's official sensei, Kakashi Hatake felt he had a kind of right to look out for his pupil's wellbeing. In fact, that was his job, whether he was on duty or not. And even if he wasn't actively teaching the young kunoichi, even if they rarely crossed paths anymore, he was worried. Of course, in the beginning, he hadn't given a flying fig about her new sensei, this young dark haired stranger. If this shinobi was good enough for the Hokage, what was he to say on the matter?
It had happened a few days ago, when he was piddling purposelessly around on the streets of the Hidden Leaf. He was supposed to meet the Hokage at six o'clock sharp, so Kakashi figured he had a good thirty minutes before he was actually expected to arrive. He was eyeing a new bookstore when a rather unforgettable voice rang through the air.
"So, Sasuke, do you wanna pay for this bowl?"
Naruto Uzumaki had never been the quietest of girls. Kakashi's attention drifted towards the source of the voice, the nearby Ichiraku Ramen.
"What do you think?"
The reply was in a voice that was also strangely familiar to the copy-ninja, but he couldn't quite place where he had heard it before. Shrugging, Kakashi assumed that it belonged to Naruto's new instructor, and stealthily inched closer to the ramen shop.
"Please! I forgot Gama-chan at home, and I just ran out of coupons."
"Well then that's your fault, isn't it?"
"Maybe next time you shouldn't try to take my noodles."
He told himself that this was a normal situation. Student and teacher, eating together after training... together. Something was up, something was... wrong.
Sasuke Uchiha was out of clothes. He hadn't been thinking when he had put Naruto in charge of the laundry, but he certainly wouldn't make that mistake again. It wasn't like he was naked, of course, but the only item of clothing he possessed that wasn't in the wash was a overlarge pair of sweatpants that some 'helpful' old woman next door had given Naruto- her son had moved out, and she was pushing his hand-me-downs onto anyone she could.
So here he was, reduced to rummaging around for something -anything- to wear. Sasuke doubted Naruto had anything his size, but at this point he was desperate enough to check. Crouched on the apartment's hard wood floor, Sasuke was systematically going through each of Naruto's dresser drawers. It was then, when he finally worked his way to the bottom of a pile of t-shirts, that a flash of white caught his eye. Cautiously, the shinobi tugged the article of clothing free, noting the smooth quality of the cloth.
Sasuke stared blankly at the sundress that now hung freely between himself and the wooden dresser.
"So, tell us about your new instructor!"
"Yeah Naruto, you told me you didn't know who he was!"
Naruto gulped, and backed up a little, her panicked gaze swinging over the gaggle of girls that were now engulfing her personal space. Sakura and Ino were at the head of this group, and Ino in particular seemed to be relishing that responsibility. A kunoichi in the back asked for his name, and soon the rest of them were demanding it as well.
"Tell us, Naruto!"
The blonde in question screwed up her face. Truly, she wasn't used to this much non-hostile human attention.
"Uhm... Sasuke... it's Sasuke..."
All heads turned to look at a dark-haired girl blushing off to the side of the interrogation. Hinata must have overheard the whole thing. The originally pale genin's blush deepened, and she began to squirm nervously.
"I-I heard Kurenai-sensei talking about it... with Kakashi-sensei..."
Satisfied, the half-a-dozen questioning girls immediately shifted their attention back over to Naruto.
"So are you guys going out?"
"Are you together?"
The noise level immediately skyrocketed, every girl trying to share her opinions at the same time. But, once again, a lone voice broke through the clamor, this time from Ino.
"Have you guys... done anything?"
Dead silence, and six (actually seven, if you count Hinata) pairs of eyes were staring intently at Naruto.
Unsure how to respond, Naruto's face screwed up even more with confusion. "I don't know what you mean."
Sakura edged forward. "You know... have you guys... done anything?"
Naruto rolled her eyes. If all they were going to do was repeat the question, she was going to be forced to figure out what they meant by herself.
"Uhm, we train together."
A girl to the left nodded. "And what else?"
"We, ah..." Naruto wracked her brains for activities she and Sasuke took part in together. Okay, so besides training they... "Eat together?"
All eyes widened. Encouraged by the crowd's response, Naruto continued. "We go to the hotsprings all the time, at least three times a week. And, uhm, I suspect we sleep together." she finished proudly.
Mouths fell open, and even Ino was left speechless. "You... sleep together...?"
Naruto shrugged. "I think."
"You think." Ino echoed.
Sakura nervously rubbed her arms. "Uh, Naruto, you know what that means, right?"
Naruto frowned. Sure, she knew she wasn't the sharpest kunai in the pouch, but she wasn't dumb.
"Yeah. It means getting into bed, and sleeping."
The girls broke out into sighs of relief. "Oh, so you aren't doing anything important."
Naruto narrowed her eyes. Training was so important! "We do to! I told you, we train!"
Ino shrugged. "Yeah yeah, but what I mean is, are you two, like, involved with each other?"
"I told you, he's my teacher..."
Naruto's fellow blonde held up a hand to silence her. "No. I mean, do you like him, and does he like you?" Ino's eyes narrowed in frustration when she realized what kind of response she was going to get. "Nevermind. What I really mean is, are you guys lovey-dovey and stuff?"
Naruto blinked slowly. "Uh... no." She finally replied simply.
Ino grinned in triumph. "See!" She turned to her five groupies. "I told you!"
She wasn't sure what was going on, but Naruto sensed she was being made fun of. She had to think fast, to redirect the mockery... onto someone else. Naruto smirked, leaning against a nearby store wall. This plan was totally built on lies (as far as she knew), but nothing too bad would come from it. "Well, I wouldn't want to be lovey dovey with him anyways."
Ino smirked. "Yeah?"
Naruto locked eyes with the kunoichi. "Yeah. He's gay, after all."
Okay, yeah. Claiming that someone as 'attractive' as Sasuke was gay, and therefore unavailable, was probably a bad move in the long run. And now she was paying for it.
Naruto slunk through the bushes that surrounded the wooded area Sasuke was currently training in. Crawling on her hands and knees, the young kunoichi stubbornly ignored the rocks that were digging into her bare palms, and the twigs and leaves that were probably crumbling into her hair and down her neck. Naruto stifled a swear word, and continued her incognito mission.
"Prove it, prove that he's gay!"
Well, it wasn't like that would be too hard. It'd only, you know, be kind of impossible, but whatever. That wasn't really important at the moment. What was important, after all, was the humiliation she was about to put herself through. Naruto stopped making her way through the undergrowth, and sat up, gritting her teeth.
Her practiced (and at this point, rather bruised) hands easily fell into the required handsign, and Naruto discretely announced her jutsu under her breath.
"Sexy no Jutsu!"
With a whirl of smoke, Naruto's form transformed significantly. She became taller, her face more defined, and her shoulders broadened. Sense she wasn't trying to knock anyone out, she had clothes on, but they were altered into what she imagined was a cooler and more masculine version of her own jumpsuit.
Damn, if she was a guy, she would've been so freaking handsome.
Naruto ran her, his, hand through his short spiked hair, and grinned mischievously.
Sasuke had been peacefully practicing his kenjutsu. He had been slowly unwinding, working out his problems with every swish of his chokutō, every carefully controlled release of chakra, every efficient flex of his muscles.
Why does Naruto own a dress?
Why would Naruto own a dress?
And so on and so forth. He was reaching a sort of 'if I ignore it, the problem will go away' mindset when something rather unexpected happened.
Sasuke froze, his face falling into a genuinely shocked expression. "Naruto?"
The blonde stopped midstep on his way over to Sasuke. She didn't think she would be discovered so easily, but in hindsight she probably should've found a way to hide her facial birthmarks. But before she could figure out some sort of response, Sasuke's eyes narrowed, taking on a steely edge that she hadn't seen before. The dark haired boy slid into a battle stance, blade ready. Naruto's eyes widened in alarm.
"What are you doing here?" His voice was cold, an emotionless monologue. Naruto searched his eyes, but even with her newfound skill, there was nothing. Only a black emptiness.
Naruto swallowed, and unconsciously held her hands up defensively. "Uhm, Sasuke...?"
"You have to leave. Now."
Confusion ran rampant through the twelve-year old's mind. Naruto forgot about her body's current state. "Sasuke, what's wrong?" she demanded urgently.
"Naruto, what will you do if your younger self sees you?"
Not understanding what was happening, Naruto could only gape, at a loss for words. What was going on? What was he talking about?
"If we had met under any other circumstance, I would've killed you on the spot. Remember that. Now go."
"S-Sasuke...?" Naruto had never been one for stuttering, but this was the exception. She could only hear what he had said echoing in her ears. I would've killed you on the spot. What had caused this? Why was he suddenly acting like she was... an enemy?
"You can't save me, Naruto. So leave." Sasuke's grip on his weapon tightened, and a sort of killing intent seemed to swell out from his presence. "Before I make you."
Wordlessly, Naruto swung around, and mechanically stumbled off into the forest. She crashed through the undergrowth for a ways before gathering her wits and leaping onto a branch, leaping from tree limb to tree limb. The thunks of her sandaled feet landing solidly on smooth bark was the only sound that resonated through the silence. Naruto felt cut off from the situation somehow, like none of this was really happening. Like the horrible nightmares she sometimes had. Coming to think about it, they had only really started after meeting Sasuke. Were they some kind of message from her subconscious, warning her that this thing was actually going to happen at some point?
Sasuke had always held himself back, after all. She had put everything she had into going against him, into training with, and into trying to befriend him. But Sasuke? He had always been aloof, detached. Naruto had thought that was just the kind of person he was, but maybe there was something else involved. Like he had pretended, forcing himself when he had actually hated her the whole time.
Naruto screwed up her face, refusing to cry. There had to be something else going on, and she was going to figure it out. She hadn't realized it till now, but something was wrong with Sasuke.
"You can't save me, Naruto."
Sasuke was eating by himself in the apartment kitchen. Naruto knew that he would eat without him if he didn't come home in time, so Sasuke didn't feel even the slightest shred of guilt for finishing up the last of the onigiri.
Whatever. These had tomatoes, so he would've eaten them all even if the idiot had shown up.
As he cleaned up, Sasuke mused on where Naruto was at the moment. Not that he cared, really, if he was eating with his team, or spending the night at a friend's house. Even if Naruto had gone off without telling him.
Sasuke meandered around the kitchen, at a loss for what to do. Normally at this point, he would go out with Naruto to go grocery shopping, or sometimes they'd hit the hot springs together. And if neither of those, then some night-oriented training. Where was Naruto?
When Naruto was there, it had been too noisy to think about all his problems, but in the still silence that now engulfed the Uzumaki home, all the dark things that Sasuke had started to forget about were slowly creeping their way into his subconscious.
Sasuke had sat himself down at the kitchen table again, this time his head buried into his hands. Why had Naruto (the older Naruto, not shrimp Naruto) shown up today? More importantly, how? Was there another way out of this alternate version of his past? Then again, it was possible that the Eye was messing with him, that this was just another 'test' he'd be subjected to.
And then there was that dress problem.
Heh heh. I'd like to send a biiiiiiiig thank you to everyone who had reviewed. Even if it takes me awhile to reply, I will try my best! Also, a shout out to the people who've added my story to their communities, I really appreciate it! Finally, this chapter isn't as big as I would've liked, but I'm getting there.