Naruto's Point of View
Written by: ChibiJinchuuriki
BLEEP BLEEP. BLEEP BLEEP. BLEEP BLEE-
In my half asleep state, my hand automatically presses the button on the alarm clock. Slowly my eyelids open and I find myself staring at the dull beige ceiling, tracing the cracks in the plaster with my eyes.
Today I have to go to ninja academy.
I yawn and turn over, but soon I realize what a strange position my limbs are twisted in and I sit up, rubbing my eyes. I guess I'll have to get up.
Standing in front of the mirror, I gaze back at my reflection. I look the same as I always do. Crazy, blond, spiky hair, familiar blue eyes… but for some reason the person looking back at me in this mirror doesn't ever seem to smile.
I pick up the green goggles on the table and put them on around my head, and then take another look at myself. That's right, that's better. Now maybe I can smile. Tightening the muscles around my lips, I manage to produce a somewhat half-hearted expression of happiness.
Oh you can't go to school like this Naruto… if you don't smile, you won't make any friends…
The thought makes me widen my smile even more, until the corners of my eyes crinkle and it looks acceptable.
There. Now you've got it.
As soon as I finish brushing my teeth, I get changed into my orange tracksuit and I'm out the door. Before I leave, I take a sip of milk from a carton in the fridge but it tastes funny… as I lock the door behind me, I wonder why the milk I buy keeps doing that.
Walking on the path in the village surrounded by shops, I catch sight of Goujiro, the shop owner who sells fish going about setting up the stands. I freeze in my tracks. Goujiro promptly turns around and heads behind the back of the shop to get more produce. Seizing this opportunity, I look left and right sneakily before dashing over to the shop and leaping over the counter. Taking out a black marker from my pocket, I slide open the counter door and start switching the price markers on various types of seafood.
In the end among other things, mackerel were a ridiculous 7900 ryo per kilo and the sign next to the tuna quoted "Last week's rejected fish".
I grin and jump back over the counter. Old man Goujiro still doesn't get it did he? I've been doing this for the past 3 days already and he still doesn't understand why nobody's been buying his fish.
Putting my arms up behind my head, I continue to walk casually around the village. It was almost 8 o'clock and class was about to start but I didn't really feel like going to school, I have much more fun playing pranks anyway. As long as Iruka sensei doesn't come out to look for me, I'll be fine.
It wasn't long before I found something else to occupy myself with. Someone had left 3 big tins of paint just sitting on a bench. I snicker and hurry over to it. I couldn't believe my luck this morning!
Orange, green and yellow.
I pick up the tins and in my mind I begin planning out my ultimate prank on the academy. The west side of the school building has a huge, white, brick wall… perfect for "decorating". I'm so excited, I've been wanting to paint that wall for a while now. Getting my hands on paint isn't easy now since I defaced the Hokage Mountain monument, paint store owners won't sell me any because they know what I get up to. I've even tried using the transformation jutsu but of course… I'm not very good at it and I always end up being discovered since I can't hold it for long enough.
"Hee hee…" In high spirits, I start jogging to school.
On the way, I muse about what fabulous painting or message I should create on the wall. A comical caricature of Iruka sensei? A dashing image of myself? The possibilities…
I make it to the west side of the academy building in record time. Enthusiastically, I unscrew the lids on the paint tins and using a fallen tree branch nearby, dunk them into the paint and commence "decorating" the wall.
In long fluid movements, I mark huge, colourful words onto the chalky-white brick.
"I WILL BE HOKAGE. BELIEVE IT!"
Lastly, I sign my name in big bold letters.
As soon as I am done, the academy bell rings, signalling that class had begun. I barely notice it, too preoccupied in conjuring a new image of Iruka sensei with bulging eyes and buckteeth on the vast canvas before me.
Minutes go by and I'm sure that I've successfully evaded going to class, until…
"Naruto! What in the 5 kage's great names are you DOING?!"
Shocked out of my wits, I knock over a tin of paint, spilling bright chrome yellow all over the concrete.
Absolutely fuming with anger stands Iruka-sensei, face tomato red and steam coming out of his ears.
"Naruto, what is the meaning of this?!" he bellows.
"I uh… uh…" I laugh nervously, trying to diffuse the situation. "I thought this wall needed a bit of redecorating."
Iruka-sensei didn't take any nonsense. "Right Naruto, you're coming with me… BACK TO CLASS!"
The events that ensued involved myself being dragged into the classroom by the ear. My fellow classmates laugh and point… so I flash a grin and laugh it off.
The morning passes quite uneventfully, nothing much happens and as usual, I am bored out of my mind. Iruka sensei is babbling on about the history of the fire nation again, I don't understand why we need to have so many history lessons. Before I know it, my eyes begin to close… and I start dozing off…
I hear something like a textbook slamming on the table in front of me.
"Were you sleeping?!"
"… Yes?" I reply while yawning. "Ninja history is so boring. Can I go back to sleep?"
A vein visibly bulges on Iruka-sensei's head and his eye starts twitching.
"No, you may not Naruto! You will open your eyes, sit up straight and diligently copy my notes on the board this instant!" he snaps.
"Yeah yeah, okay…" I grumble, too sleepy to argue.
Satisfied, Iruka-sensei returns to the front of the class and continues to point at a map of Konoha.
Two girls sitting in the row in front of me turn around and snicker. Ino and Sakura obviously found this amusing.
On the other hand, I return to my slouched position, eyes about to close again until I meet the gaze of a raven-haired boy. He's looking at me with a blank expression, his chin resting on interwoven fingers that hide his mouth and nose from view.
I stare back.
Seconds turn into minutes. Not once did his expression change. I start to wonder whether he really is looking at me, it seems strange how quiet and still he is… I think that maybe he's bored with history too.
It seems like hours, but the bell for lunch eventually rings. Before we all run outside and escape the classroom, Iruka-sensei makes an announcement. He tells us that he has something special planned for us after we come back from lunch.
The manner in which he tells us makes me curious and tingle with excitement. Are we going to be put into teams? Are we finally becoming genin? My mind buzzes with the thought.
Once I was outside in the academy playground however, I felt the same sense of loneliness that I harboured this morning. In desire, I watch as Shikarmaru and Choji mess around in the sandpit. In longing, I watch as Kiba gives Hinata a piggy back and in envy I watch as the raven haired boy eats his lunch with Sakura and Ino.
All I have is my brown paper bag and incredibly bland sandwich to keep me company.
Filling myself with hope and courage, I walk over to the sandpit.
"Hey Shikamaru, Choji, can I make that sand castle with you?"
The boys look at each other and exchange whispers. I could just faintly make them out.
"… Should we Shikamaru?"
"I don't know Choji, my dad told me not to…"
Having made the decision, they shake their heads.
"Sorry Naruto, we uh… have enough people already."
"Oh okay." I say while faking a smile. "I'm sure Kiba wanted to show me something, I'm going to go find him." I lie.
I walk away again and feel stupid for asking.
After this episode, I never do end up going to find Kiba, instead I sit myself despondently down in the corner of the playground and etch drawings in the dirt with a stick. Kiba and Hinata look like they are having too much fun to let me join in and as for Sakura, Ino and the raven haired boy… they sound too preoccupied in conversation to notice me. Or at least Sakura and Ino do, the raven haired boy looks like he couldn't care less.
I am saved from loneliness by the bell.
Eagerly, I run back into class along with everyone else and begin pestering Iruka-sensei for information.
"Come on Sensei; tell us this big announcement already!" I shout and jump up onto a table, trying to make my voice stand out above the other excited, chattering voices.
Iruka-sensei hushes me and proceeded to take the attendance, yelling out the names at the top of his lungs to make himself heard.
"Okay class! I'd like you all to welcome Mizuki-sensei. He is of chūnin rank just like me and a very good friend of mine." Iruka beams and motions for Mizuki to enter the classroom. "Why don't you introduce yourself to the class?"
A man with long, straight, silver hair promptly walks in, donning a feigned smile and immediately goes about surveying the class before him. His eyes scan the room and the smile remains on his face… until his eyes fall on me. For a split second, the smile falters and curls up into what looks like a snarl, an expression of hatred and disgust. His eyes say it all.
There was something about me that he didn't like. I cringe away from his look and my heart sinks.
As quickly as Mizuki's expression had changed however, his eyes move on and resume sweeping over the students, the fake smile slowly returning to his thin lips.
I decide to think nothing of it. I think that maybe Mizuki-sensei had remembered something that he perhaps thought annoying and that he just happened to be looking at me at that moment.
Intently, I listen as Mizuki-sensei explains to us the reason why he is here. He is going to be another coach for today's gym lesson, which I think isn't going to be that exciting but when Iruka-sensei answers Shikamaru's question and mentions that we are going to be using actual ninja-tools, my interest multiplies itself tenfold.
I often dream about fighting with kunai and throwing shuriken in ninja battles, defeating the bad guys and eventually saving the day… it seems like my dream is about to come true today and so I grin with anticipation.
We are all rushed outside, and in no time I am handed a kunai by Iruka-sensei. While sensei explains that we are going to be doing target practice, I hold up the kunai to examine it closely. The shiny metal glistens in the sun.
"Alright everyone, the way to hold a kunai is to grip it strongly at the hilt and position it horizontally to your body. When you're throwing the kunai, put forward the leg opposite to your throwing hand and bend your knees." Iruka-sensei assumes the position himself to demonstrate to the class.
"The secret is to extend your index and middle finger along the top of the blade, which will help with direction and accuracy when you throw it."
With that, he throws his kunai and it hits the center of the target with a satisfying thwack.
"With enough practice you'll find it easy."
The class erupts in claps and cheers. Iruka-sensei smiles and does a brisk bow before waving at Mizuki-sensei, who gets up from leaning against a nearby tree, making his way towards the group.
"Now who wants to go first?"
There was no way that I could miss this dazzling opportunity so I shot up my hand without a second thought. To increase the chances of being picked, I then jump up and down and wave my hand to and fro frantically.
"Oh, oh, pick me!"
But I was not the only one to volunteer. Looking to my left, I see the raven haired boy raise his hand at the same time. Iruka-sensei seems amused and tells the both of us that we can start the class off together.
As we step out from the crowd of students, I shoot a glance at the boy next to me, who smirks. A thought then occurs to me and I can't contain my excitement.
"Wait, does that mean me and him are competing?!"
"Yeah I suppose you can say something like that. Is that fine by you Sasuke?" Iruka asks.
Sasuke. So that's his name. I'll make sure to remember it.
The boy named Sasuke does a nod and then looks at me.
Together, the both of us walk up to the white line a few meters in front of the target boards.
I turn my head to look at him again, sizing him up and noticing that he's very calm and collected, not at all nervous or unsure. He looks like he knows what he's doing… like he's done target practice a thousand times before.
The raven haired boy immediately takes the ready position to throw his kunai, which is so perfect that it earns words of praise from Iruka-sensei. The boy shakes his head and states that he used to go to target practice every weekend when he was little.
For a second I feel way out of my league. I had never in my life done target practice before and now I'm up against possibly the most skilled boy in my class! I had wanted to look cool, stepping up to throw the kunai first, not make myself a laughing stock in front of everyone.
But wait, nobody knows that. For all they know, I could have gone for target practice everyday in my life. So then I resort to lying to cover my obvious unconfident self.
"I used to go out for target practice every day too! Believe it!" I beam.
I turn to face the target board but I could sense nothing but eyes boring into my back. So many people were watching me, analyzing me… including the raven haired boy next to me.
Panic starts to well up in my throat and in desperation I fumble with the kunai in my hand, almost dropping it in the process.
"Uh… uh…" A bead of sweat rolls down my forehead.
I regret not listening to Iruka-sensei when he explained the steps to throwing kunai a short while earlier. I'm positively sure that I'm holding the kunai incorrectly; it feels like my hand is in a strange twisted position, which feels unnatural… not to mention my stance.
Iruka-sensei seems to see right through me in an instant and picks up on my horrible acting skills, informing me in front of the class that my form is completely wrong.
Laughter rings out all around me and my head shoots up in surprise, wide-eyed. I brush off sensei's words nervously and try to deny my inexperience.
Sasuke has a look of cruel enjoyment on his face… like he wants to continue watching me squirm in this difficult predicament. I look away quickly.
I resume fiddling with the kunai until Iruka-sensei sighs and comes over to instruct me personally. It takes a total of 5 minutes but now I'm finally ready.
Sensei steps back. "Okay Naruto and Sasuke, throw when you're ready."
I'm still determined to throw mine first but as soon as the kunai leaves my hands, so does Sasuke's. We end up throwing the kunai at the same time.
Neither kunai hit the target. I cringe.
"What was that for?!"
The boy yells at me but I pretend not to notice.
Iruka shakes his head. "Who wants to go up next?"
I try to beg sensei for another chance but he waves me away. As I sulk to the back of the crowd, Sasuke shoves his hands in his pockets and strolls casually away into a corner, with the blank look on his face once again.
The rest of the day is hardly even worth being present in class. While I stare out the window, Iruka's words just go in through one ear and out the other.
"Okay class, I hope you've all paid attention to what I've taught you today. The locations of all the different nations are very important if you're all going to become shinobi one day. Also, if you all ask your parents… I'm sure they'd gladly help you with target practice whenever they can." I feel Iruka-sensei's eyes on me for a brief second as he pauses.
"… And don't forget, there will be a test on the 5 great nations tomorrow so go home and look through all of your notes from today. Class dismissed." The bell rings shortly after, exactly on time.
My classmates pour out of the school talking, running and skipping. I didn't really have any plans afterschool and so I decide to go to the park, a place I've always loved.
I walk through the gates and head towards my favourite spot.
Today was embarrassing… I think to myself. It turns out I'm not at all fantastic at throwing kunai, or any kind of target practice for that matter. That boy Sasuke must be really good… I clench my fists.
Which is why I've got to start practicing.
I look around for small rocks of suitable size and make a small pile of them before singling out a tree as a target. I try as much as possible to throw them just like real kunai, paying particular attention to my form and stance, making sure that I follow through with my movements as Iruka-sensei had taught me. I continue to throw rocks at the tree until well into the afternoon. Most of them didn't end up hitting the target at all.
It's hard to describe what I feel.
For years… ever since I could remember, I've been looked down upon. The villagers, the people, my classmates… they all look at me as if I'm a walking plague, except for Iruka-sensei and a handful of others that is. I just don't understand why everyone hates me so much. I feel so weak and useless not being able to do anything. I can tell that I'm not like the other children, I have no friends, no parents… I think that in order to get stronger, I must find a way to be powerful, to become the most skilled shinobi, to become Hokage.
After about an hour, I get tired of doing makeshift target practice so I wander over to the swings and sit down. My mind is filled with sad and dismaying thoughts. I swing myself back and forth gently for a few minutes until I hear the sound of people talking nearby.
Looking up, I'm surprised to see the raven haired boy with Ino and Sakura sitting on a park bench a little distance across from me. I quickly look down, keep swinging and pretend that I didn't notice them, but no matter how much I try, I can't help overhearing what they are saying.
I manage to catch a few words that hit me like daggers. I know that they are talking about me.
"Look at him… alone… pathetic… sorry for him." Says one girl.
"Serves him right… trouble… won't make any friends…" Replies the other.
Then all of a sudden, after a long pause from the boy Sasuke, I hear him ask one of the girls for my name. I can't take it anymore, curiosity is killing me so I look up once again.
Sasuke looks as if he is taken by surprise, I can see that from far away, his mouth has formed an 'o' and that he is utterly speechless.
I crane my neck to get a better view but after a brief exchange of words, the raven haired boy just gets up and leaves abruptly, leaving the two girls staring after him in confusion.
I am just as equally puzzled. Why did he react that way when he heard my name? What did he think of me?
I did some thinking of my own and arrive at the conclusion that Sasuke is not all that he seems. From the events that happened today, I can see that underneath that cool and calm persona is a boy who burns with fierce competition. His eyes however, tell of a different story. It seems to me that he has the same kind of isolated loneliness as I do. In other words, we share the same desire for strength and power, though possibly for different reasons…
The light is beginning to fade as the deep orange glow of the afternoon turns into the sleepy blue hues of the evening. The crickets hidden in the grass begin to chirp. I raise my head to look up and watch the stars winking as they slowly become visible in the cloudy sky.
It was then I knew that deep, deep down… Sasuke and I would partake in a similar destiny, that we were tied together somehow in some twisted fate, as if it were etched in the stars themselves.