A Fox at War:

Chapter 3: Attention Unexpected

Morning came and so did a sharp knock at her door. She ignored both as she curled up in bed in a fetal position cover covering her ears. The only visitors that ever knocked where people selling things or people who where lost. She wanted to deal with neither and ignored it as the knock came two more times. It was when she heard the sounds of her door open she immediately remembered forgetting to lock it. Ready to fend of the intruder violently she was about to roll from her bed and attack till she was halted by the intruders voice.

"Naruko? Hello?" Sakura called but did not need to look hard to spot Naruko bathed in sunlight. She wore panties and a short cut lose t shirt, body curled up snuggling her blank to her chest and between her thighs, her back exposed to Sakura.

Naruko didn't answer but glanced over her shoulder to see it was really her, it was. She turned back to her blanket and buried her head in them ignoring her. She didn't really care why she was here but was sure Sakura would be enlightening her at any moment. Un expectantly Sakura remained quiet and Naruko was forced to glance back at her to see why. Sakura was looking around her room in an expression of concern or dismay. Naruko was amused by the sight, what did she expect stuffed animals and silk sheets? She was a nobody after all, why would she have anything more then a roof over her head.

"I brought you some things." Sakura finally spoke and placed a large bag on the kitchen table. It was enough incentive to cause Naruko to abandon her bed and stand moving towards Sakura. Sakura was taller then her by half a heads height, further proof at how underdeveloped Naruto was. She glanced at the bag curiously and was about to question its contents but Sakura turned it around and began to pull items free.

"I didn't think your outfit would be useful anymore so I bought you another one. This one if from a proper ninja tailor so it will be far more durable." Sakura explained and unfolded it, it was an exact match to the one she had lost the day before. Naruko was confused and it showed on her face as she asked.

"Why?"

"If you hadn't passed then I wouldn't have either." Sakura spoke softly.

"That doesn't explain why you bought me this." Naruko demanded her expression turning hostile. What was Sakura playing at… Sakura didn't answer further and laid the outfit on the table pulling free some general supplied. Brand new kuna and throwing stars, a few packages of explosive notes which alone must have cost as much as the outfit. It was starting to get to her… with each item Sakura pulled free anger and furry welled up inside her.

Sakura's family was well to do… it must have been so easy to simply go out shopping without a care and acquire all those things. But for her it had taken so long… years even to buy her own supplies and here she was being offered them like it was a some trivial matter. It became too much and she surprised Sakura gripping her shirt and forced her hard back against the wall pinning her there. Sakura had stumbled back and tripped so she had slid down to eye level with Naruko.

"Why!?" Naruko demanded as she held Sakura who was frightened and shocked.

"Do I need a reason?" Sakura snapped back angrily in defence. "We are team mates now! If we can't help each other now, how can we help each other in battle?" Naruko was so angered by her words that she pulled a fist back to strike Sakura who reacted defensively by covering her face with her arms.

Naruko breathed rapidly in fury and wanted to scream why now only because they were teammates, why not before when she really needed the help or a friend. But she could not bring herself to, nor could she attack Sakura even if she had hurt her so much with her careless words. Angry she pushed Sakura one last time against the wall and stepped away from her giving her space.

"Whatever…" Naruko hissed darkly not looked directly at Sakura nor the items she had bought her. Sakura recovered slowly from the instant hostility and soon shrugged it off as if it had never happened.

"I hope I got your size right, it was the smallest outfit they sold." Sakura explained and lifted it up to measure it against Naruko's body. Naruko glanced at it over her shoulder then looked away rebelliously.

"It will fit." She admitted feeling no small amount of shame for admitting to herself she truly wanted it.

"Good. The other things here are just basic supplied." Sakura laid the outfit down again then arranged the ninja tools on the table. "I don't know how many you lost or where damaged yesterday… I just had some spares so I thought you might want them." Naruko didn't comment and was lost to why Sakura was suddenly treating her so friendly. It was bothered her enough to actually ask.

"Why are you suddenly so friendly with me?" Naruko questioned softly.

"We are team mates." Sakura replied quickly with the same excuse but Naruko would hear none of it.

"That makes no difference, we where team mates the moment we graduated. Why now after Kakashi's test are you so interested in my well being?" Naruko turned back staring Sakura hard in the eyes refusing to let her escape the question. Sakura's first expression was panic then confusion, then shame. She looked as if she had just betrayed someone but answered.

"I know being a ninja means willing to make sacrifices… but I never thought someone would just throw away their life like that. Yesterday you simply stood there ready to die! Why? Sasuke was wrong to do what he did but you don't even care!" Sakura complained emotionally. Naruko grit her teeth, Sakura must have been sheltered pretty well by her family.

"I care!" Naruko snapped angrily. "But what can I do? I'm weak and unskilled with no linage or clan. He is an Uchiha, he will live to win countless battles while I am just cannon fodder. My life expectancy is only three missions do you really think it matters how I die? Sasuke knows this as well. Instead of simply abandoning me he made use of me and nearly took a victory. I could never have done anything like that on my own, I may not have liked it but because of Sasuke's actions I might have proven a real asset to the village. It's not the matter of when I die but how I die. If I can die aiding the village it's a far better death then simply having my throat slit silently on a battlefield from an ambush I never saw coming." Naruko looked back at Sakura to see if her point had been made but she was greeted with a harsh slap she had not expected. It had been so strong it had knocked her small frame sideways and onto the floor. Naruko griped cheek which stung sharp and dull.

"You really believe what you're saying?" Sakura questioned emotionally but it was rhetorical. Her anger stemmed from the fact Naruko held no self worth or value for her life. She stared down at Naruko flushed with emotion but finally she turned her chin up and said nothing, giving Naruko a look of disgust and turned leaving her apartment slamming the door behind her.

Naruko decided to simply lay there on the floor and cradle her cheek till it numbed. She didn't care what Sakura thought of her, she had no reason to care what a spoiled princess of a well to do family had to say. She would soon learn how cruel reality was for herself when their missions began, maybe then she would see why the best Naruko could hope for was to be used as opposed to simply discarded.

She didn't lay there very long before the oppressive atmosphere of her apartment got to her and motivated her to towards action. She stood, striped and washed before dressing in her new outfit with ideas of training to clear her mind. It was like the original but the materials where far more durable specially the body suit. The bodysuit was much thick other and promised decent protection. It had the unfortunate side effect of gripping intimate parts of her body so snugly that it caused distractions she didn't want, but she would learn to ignore.

Dressing didn't take long and she even restocked her thigh and arm holster with kuna, stars, and explosive notes. Her sword again the last item she equipped slid under her shirt concealed with only the handle poke up though her collar. Mask and headband in place she left her apartment and locked the door.

She had not eaten for a day and a half and she was disheartened to admit such occurrences happened far too often. She sometimes starved herself so she could save more of her allowance for ninja related gear and items. But today she decided she would head into the market district and find some place to eat at. There was the chance she would regret it if Sakura demanded her purchased items back but she would deal with that situation if it came. Right now she wanted to treat herself to recover from the depressing events of the test.

The market district was expectantly crowded with all sorts of people from ninja to commoner to noble. Here everyone was equal if only out of necessity if every commoner was forced to lower their head and bow to their betters here there would be no chance to conduct business.

Her phobia for people was beginning to rise as for the third time someone roughly brushed past or bumped into her. She wilfully tried to ignore it but she was beginning a cold sweat and glanced back and forth in hopes of a clear path to lead to escape from the crowd. She really wasn't good around them; it made it harder to breath. She never knew if any of them would recognize her as a commoner and amuse themselves with berating or even physically assaulting her. They where silly thoughts to have here but in the academy they had been cautions to live by.

Finally she managed to work her way out of the crowd without another collision and slipped into a restaurant. It was lively but small and appeared to have plenty of vacancies. She took a seat in one of the booths after discovering there where no smaller arrangements for single parties. A waitress appeared and placed a menu before her and asked about drinks. She ordered a water and reviewed what the restaurant offered on its menu. To her dismay it was more pricey then she expected but not so much so that she would leave. There where so many things to choice from and it was hard to decided but as the waitress returned and questioned her she pointed out randomly one of the things that peeked her interest.

"They let trash in here now do they?" Sasuke questioned as he appeared beside her. Naruko looked up sharply, why was he here. Sasuke stared at her a moment before slipping into the booth seat across from her. A quick glance around revealed the restaurant had suddenly become crowded and her booth was the only one with any seating left. It was the only reason to why Sasuke would ever consider sitting near her but why would someone like him be eating in a place like this?

Naruko didn't reply to him and simply kept her eyes down and thoughts to herself. The waitress reappeared noting Sasuke's arrival and to Naruko's surprised asked if he wanted his usual and welcomed him back. Sasuke must be a regular here… she made a note of it but kept silent as Sasuke waved the waitress off dismissively with agreement to his normal order.

"Move." Sasuke commanded and Naruko was startled. She glanced up again to find a tall older boy standing beside her staring down at her. He wore the Uchiha symbol on his generic leaf ninja outfit. It was an outfit issued to the ANBU or secret police; whoever he was he was someone important. She was more then tempted to leave all together but the boy was to close for her to scoot out of the booth and she had no choice but to move deeper. He took her seat without a single word to her, she had never felt so trapped in her life. In the back of the booth between two Uchiha…

"Sasuke why do you insist on meeting here?" The taller older boy asked with a deep voice.

"I like it here. Is there a problem with it Itachi?" Sasuke challenged coldly.

"No. not at all." Itachi replied indifferently then questioned again. "A woman of yours?" Naruko felt a flush fill her cheeks in embarrassment and humiliation, and no small part of flattery that she might be considered good enough to be with an Uchiha.

"Her?" Sasuke snorted and smirked. "You're kidding me right? Who would look twice at trash like her." She was forced to bite her lip as her warm fluttering feelings were crushed into painful shame.

"I see." Itachi replied and then picked up a cup of tea the waitress delivered to the table, along with a drink for Sasuke. Both must have been regulars from how much priority she was giving them. Itachi sipped at his tea and Sasuke left his drink sitting un touched. Naruko for an escape from the tension picked up her water and pulled down her mask enough to drink deeply.

"I hear you passed Kakashi's test." Itachi spoke suddenly. "I am surprised."

"Whys that?" Sasuke glared but looked unusually happy. Naruko could clearly see a bond between them but didn't know what it was. Where they good friends… siblings?

"Kakashi is notorious for being the rookie killer. You and your team are the first to pass his test in five years." Itachi explained. Sasuke didn't look surprised but Naruko did.

"Oh is that so?" Sasuke raised a brow. "I wondered why there where so many washouts at the academy."

"Mm." Itachi nodded. "But I am glad you passed. I had been worried. Some where starting to believe he failed students just for the sake of it. I am glad that wasn't the case."

"Worried about me?" Sasuke laughed and it was the first time in Naruko's memory that he had ever done so. "That's not like you brother."

"Really?" Itachi questioned, "You don't think I worry about my cute little brother? You wound me." Sasuke just smirked and Itachi returned a small smile. "So who is your companion here?" Itachi continued and glanced to the side at Naruko who was now like a deer caught in headlights. She gently set her glass down and pulled her mask up over mouth and nose for the small feeling of security it provided.

"A team mate." Sasuke informed "Naruko, she's nameless."

"Strange, I didn't think you enjoyed their company." Itachi looked away from Naruko to stare at his brother.

"Her being here is a coincidence nothing more." Sasuke explained. "Do you think we would share a booth otherwise?"

"No I suppose not." Itachi admitted indifferent to the matter. Naruko wanted to childishly announce she had been here first but such a comment to an elite would defiantly not be over looked. She remained silent and hoped the conversation would steer away from her. Itachi glanced back at her staring with an intensity that made her feel naked. She didn't know why he was staring and he wasn't offering and hints either.

"Don't tell me you have a thing for little girls." Sasuke laughed goading his brother noticing the stare himself. Naruko felt a sharp spike of anger at Sasuke, she was not a little girl.

"You never know." Itachi replied dryly in a teasing manner to his brother as he looked away Naruko Sasuke snorted again but Naruko felt she cheeks burn red with flattery, embarrassment, but mostly discomfort. There where so many serious problems that could be attached to those words, truthful or not. She hoped vainly they where the jest they appeared to be.

"Has your first mission been announced?" Itachi changed the subject.

"The details no, but we leave in a week. What about you, any new missions?" Sasuke replied.

"Yes, I leave tonight. I won't be back in time to see you off unfortunately."

"I'm not a little kid anymore." Sasuke spoke with an edge of hostility. Itachi just smiled softly and sipped his tea. It was about then their orders arrived, the waitress must have put a rush on them. She appeared and handed them out and made it clear she would be happy to rush over and attend them if they required anything more. The meal much to Naruko's happiness was spent in silence. When they finished the waitress arrived for the bill but Sasuke waved her off and told her to charge it to the house. It had included Naruko's meal as well so she quickly attempted to protest but was not given the opportunity. She hoped she wasn't indebted to Sasuke now because of it.

"I will take my leave." Itachi stood suddenly and slipped from the booth. He nodded to Sasuke and cast one last glance as Naruko before departing. Naruko seeing a chance for freedom began to scoot out of the booth as well but to her horror she was stopped as Sasuke spoke.

"Wait." Sasuke not only stopped her with his words but with his leg as he placed his foot on her bench between her and freedom. Naruko was instantly on high alert, panic welled up inside her. Did she offend him somehow… what did he want with her. Naruko looked up at him her eyes not meeting his but she didn't look away from him. "Tell me, what makes you so special?" Sasuke demanded with a sharp tone. Naruko was taken aback by the question. Special… her? It didn't make any sense what so ever. Why was he asking something so ridicules…

"I… I don't know what you mean." She stammered but Sasuke cut her off quickly.

"This is the second time someone stared at you like that. First Kakashi and now my brother, both are very well respected in the village so why would they concern themselves with you?"

"I... don't…" She was cut off again with a harsh tone, clearly he didn't want her to speak right now.

"They look at you as if they are expecting something but all I see is trash. So either you are hiding something or they are and I don't like it. So I will give you this one chance to tell me what it is. If you lie to me I promise you will regret it." Sasuke spoke low and dark his words dripping with so much hostility that Naruko felt physical ill.

What did she do to make him so angry at her. She fully believed in his threat and what terrified her was that even if she told the truth here, that she didn't know, that later he might consider it a lie and take action against her. She stammered and choked on her words as she spoke hastily.

"I… I have no idea what you mean…. I have never met ether of them before…. I am nobody…" She spoke and wanted to say more convincing words but none came to her. The only other thing she could think to do was to bow on her knees and proclaim herself worthless trash… and she would have done so willingly if Sasuke had not stood causing her to visibly flinch. He walked passed the table but her hope he was leaving vanished as he grabbed her by the throat and pinned her to the back of the seat. His hand large enough to almost completely encircle her neck and crush it choking her.

"If I find out that was a lie, you will learn why the Uchiha name is so feared." Sasuke stared into her eyes with murderous intently and Naruko could only give a teary frantic nod. He held his grip for a moment longer before dismissively tossing her aside on the seat and left the restaurant. The other patrons had witnessed it and whispered amongst themselves but recognizing Sasuke as a Uchiha none dared to do more than that. Gathering her wits she rubbed her bruised neck and waited long enough to be certain Sasuke would be gone before she fled on her own.