The boy in the park

Blue eyes and blond locks looked at him. He ignored them.

The gaze was insistent, even as he slowly turned the page of his book. There was a mild breeze, and in the midst of June a cool wind was all he needed —rather than staying at home and hear the incessant nagging of his mother.

So what if he couldn't mould chakra? He could still be a normal civilian, like most of the Konoha population.

Those blue eyes kept their gaze fixed on him. He began to sweat. He finally took a deep breath, and moved his eyes —red— to lock with them. The child couldn't be more than five years old.

Her hair tied in twin ponytails, she looked just like the poster child of 'childhood kid playing in the park'. She had one of those horrifying sunflower dresses you make kid wear when you want to show them off with the 'isn't she cute!' exclamation.

"What'cha doing?" she asked him with a chirpy and high-pitched voice.

"Reading," he replied. He flipped another page, without really reading it all. He skimmed over it —since the girl was still looking at him.

"Why?" she asked once more, putting her index finger in her mouth and biting on her nails —was she chewing on them?

"Why not?" he coolly answered, gazing around the park for whomever the child's mother or father was. He wasn't good with kids. He was caustic, most of the time. The few times he wasn't caustic, he was abrasive. When he wasn't abrasive, he was extremely happy to be left alone or in peace. He had enough to contend with at home, with his younger sister being able to use chakra and all.

The girl seemed to think for a moment, before her blue eyes —cerulean was it? They looked like the sky anyway— stared at him once more with amusement.

"Cuz it's boring! That's why!" she brought her tiny hands to clasp against the side of his jacket. "Play with me?" she asked then.

He looked at the sky for a moment, where the sun was dangling in peace and letting its scorching rays fall against the heads of the imbeciles who thought that running or playing with a ball in this heat was a smart thing to do. They'd all get a heatstroke, and he'd laugh on their tombs.

The mental image made him smirk.

"No," he replied to the girl. "I prefer reading," he then settled his back against the bench and returned to his book. The girl didn't disturb him afterwards for a while. He imagined she had gone off to play with the other kids, or something like that.

He slowly brought down his book from his face, being naturally curious to this slight change to his otherwise boring routine. He snorted and returned to his book a moment later. The girl was playing soccer with a few of the kids, laughing and screaming with them.

He had gone by five chapters, by the time he heard a ragged breathing near him once more.

"Hey!" he lowered his book and looked, raising an eyebrow at the sight of a sweaty and muddied girl. Her blond ponytails looked scraggly, as if someone had pulled them repeatedly. He knew that because his favourite pastime was to pull his own sister's hair after all.

"Hello?" he hazarded back.

"You're not gonna go yet?" she asked him, a smile still on her face.

He looked up at the sky. "There's still light," he answered. The less time he spent home, the less he had to deal with the constant rebukes to boot.

"You're still reading that!?" she made a frowning face, her nose moving in disgust. "What's it talk 'bout?"

"Gardening," he said. He had stopped reading shinobi adventure books —he'd never be one of them. The most he could aspire to become would be a Samurai, and a Samurai in a shinobi village? Who was he kidding…he'd be a grocer or a baker, maybe if he was lucky he'd own a stall at the market or something.

He wasn't even a girl, so being 'married off' wasn't in his list.


"Flowers," he settled for a simpler answer.

"You're strange," the girl crossed her eyes together. "Reading 'bout flowers in the park: there's flowers everywhere!"

The way she was mangling the language in such a natural way slightly irked him, but not more than the usual. She still spoke slightly better than his sister, who was far more obnoxious because yes, she could mould chakra and he couldn't.

It was the hot topic of the day in his house, and it stung.

"Want to look for them with me?" she asked once more, her eyes filled with hope.

"No," he replied. "I prefer reading." He sighed and returned to the book.

There was a moment of blissful silence, as he heard the girl scamper off. A few minutes later —at least, what he believed where a few minutes later— she returned. She hesitated, and then she heard her speak.

"Can I read with ya?"

He slowly lowered the book from his face and looked around. There really was no-one else in the park by then. He sighed. He admitted to himself he didn't really want to waste time running around kicking a ball or stuff like that —sweating? Out of the question— but he wasn't an arsehole.

He brought the book down open on his right knee, giving the girl space to sit next to him on the bench. She quickly scampered on his left leg —perched on it rather, as if it was the most normal thing in the world to do— and then looked up at him expectantly.

It was like having a dog on your lap, only the dog had a pair of giant blue eyes and blond locks of hair, and was looking at you with the sort of excitement and expectation you could expect from a starving puppy finding food in front of him.

Slowly, he brought his left arm around the other side of the girl's body, and holding the book with both hands, he cleared his throat.

"Chapter twelve: of the Chrysanthemum family and its proprieties…"

And that was how Naruko Uzumaki, age five, met for the first time a completely normal teen. It was the start of a friendship that would change nothing, and at the same time, would change everything.