AN: I got such a good response for the first chapter of this story! It kinda surprised me seeing as this was mostly just a way to let off steam. I'm rambling...blame Naruto heh.
A special thank you to everyone that reviewed, you guys are the bomb!
I did check this for mistakes but I'm lazy so I probably missed things when I got distracted. A brief warning, as previously mentioned, this chapter is in Naruto's POV, next chapter is back to Sasuke etc.
What the hell?
Just…what the hell?
It takes me a moment to gain my bearings as I leave the party, grumbling profanities under my breath as I grab the hoodie I came with and march down the street, intent on going straight home and stewing over the whole thing for a good long while. For a couple of minutes, I'm half expecting Sakura to follow me out as she usually does so we can walk home together but I'm not sure if she'll ever forgive me for this.
Why the hell did that asshole of a guy have to get me so Goddamn riled? Who goes around calling people they've never met before a 'moron'? And in that condescending tone?
I think it was the tone more than anything that got me so wound up, so superior, so utterly disdainful, like I wasn't worth the shit on his shoes.
It's not like I don't know that I have a tendency to be a little dense. I'm not particularly observant and I never really meant to embarrass Sakura the way I did but still, did he have to pick on it like that? People slip up all the time, he didn't have to be so damn judgemental and wasn't he just as bad for making a big deal out of something that could have been easily swept under the carpet?
Maybe I shouldn't have hit him.
…Punch like a fucking girl, who the hell does he think he's talking to?
I'm still seething when my phone starts vibrating in my pocket a good half an hour later and, in an uncharacteristic display of pre-cognition, I know without looking at the caller ID who's calling me. Dread swirls unpleasantly through my system as I slide my finger across the smooth screen to answer the call, wincing at the heavy breathing I can already hear leaking through the mouth piece at the other end.
"Sakura," I state in a low voice. "I'm so-
"Don't Naruto, just don't," she snaps at me and I don't think I've ever heard such bitterness in her voice before, not even when I told her she was more like a man than a woman the first time she showed me that she could punch a punch bag clean off of its metal hinge.
I try to figure out how to respond to her obvious anger but there's nothing I can think of to say. She has a perfect right to be angry with me, I should just resign myself to what I'm gonna get from her for making such a scene at the party, for hurting the guy she's into.
"You know how serious I am about him," she starts eventually; when she realises I'm not going to say anything else. "What on Erath possessed you to think it would be okay to hit him? No don't answer that, you weren't thinking, you never are!"
"Sakura," I start saying into the phone, hearing her voice crack at the end of that last sentence.
She can't cry, I absolutely hate it when she cries. She doesn't deserve to feel so awful.
It makes me want to promise her the world.
"Look, I'll go back and apologise. I'll work something out with that jer- that guy alright? Everything's gonna be fine."
"No Naruto. This is a big deal, he's not just going to forget something like that. No-one in their right mind would forget being punched by a stranger. Just drop it okay?"
I can feel frustration replacing the jagged anger in my system making me panicked, fidgety. I run a hand through the thick chunks of my hair and bite my nails as I try and think of a way to make it up to her. I don't have many friends; I don't want to lose-
"Look, I don't think you should come back to the house tonight Naruto, okay?"
It takes a moment for the true meaning of those words to filter though the haze over my mind and suddenly, I'm way too weary to process this properly.
"What do you mean?"
"I mean you should find somewhere else to stay alright? I really don't want to see you at the moment."
Sakura and I share a house with our two friends, the house being a gift from Sakura's grandmother when she passed away a couple of years ago. It's convenient because it's only a mile away from university and the four of us don't get over-charged on rent going through the usual 'student friendly' agencies. If I'd had to find regular student accommodation, I would have had to commute from Iruka's place which isn't really a viable option.
Sakura was kind enough to pick me to rent from her along with her best friend Ino (who I'm pretty sure doesn't like me too much but then no-one ever does initially) and Sai who's on Sakura's art course – he takes a lot of pleasure in telling me I have absolutely no manhood, for some reason, though due to an unfortunate incident involving a broken boiler, Sai's seen for himself exactly what I have down there.
He's just jealous that I'm bigger than him.
"Aw, come on Sakura," I say in my softest voice. If this is an attempt to show how serious my blunder at the party was then I understand, I definitely understand. I'm going to be buying Sakura's lattes for the next 3 months at least if I want her to even look at me again.
"I mean it Naruto," Sakura says resolutely down the phone and I can tell by the tone of her voice that she's set on this.
She's chucking me out, actually chucking me out because I punched the guy she likes.
She knows that I don't have a lot of friends, that Iruka's place is too far away for me to get to this late at night.
Where am I supposed to go?
She sighs angrily into the receiver when I don't say anything and her tone is waspish as she cuts me off with a curt 'goodbye'. I'm left staring at the bright screen of my phone in the darkness, willing the clocks to turn back so I can erase what happened between me and that nonchalant bastard.
I groan angrily to myself and flop down on the nearest bench in the park I've wandered aimlessly into, letting my head fall into my hands.
Why did I get so mad? Was it the way he was looking at me? His eyes were dark, disapproving and totally cold after all. Was it the fact that he just seemed to hate me on sight like everyone always does? Damnit, what did I do to merit that kind of reaction anyway?
His face floats in my mind as I allow myself to fall sideways on the bench and I can't help but wonder what all those girls see in him. Sure, he had a fairly nice face if you're in to perfect symmetry and the contrast of his thick black hair against the pale skin was sort of…entrancing I suppose. He had a slim build, slimmer than me though he made up for that with a further inch or so of height and he was well dressed, meticulously so in fact.
Maybe the girls just like to imagine what it might be like to make the asshole smile.
A cold wind runs across the bare skin of my arms and I shiver, sitting up to pull my hoodie over my head before curling straight back up on the bench, unable to push myself to think of somewhere to go. Who would take me in on such short notice without expecting something major in return? I don't have any cash for a hotel…
Perhaps I should just wait out the rest of the night here and take the train to Iruka's in the morning. That's probably my best option at the moment, certainly not the safest but I'll take what I can get. Thankfully, it's a Saturday tomorrow which means I won't have to ditch any classes and I have plenty of time to consider my next move if Sakura's exiled me for good.
The thought makes me shudder involuntarily.
For all that its worth, I totally agree with that fluffed up prick now, I really am a moron.
Why did I HIT him?
Without allowing myself any further thought on the matter, I make a point of squeezing my eyes tight shut and willing myself to sleep. It's hard going, the sounds of the outside world make me jerk up alertly every few minutes and the wind keeps getting under my hoodie to coax goose-bumps to spring up along my skin. I keep considering the possibility that I'll be robbed or murdered out in the open like this without back up, vulnerable prey to the psychos that like to come out at night but then I'm thinking about that cold bastard again and the way he projected such outright hate at me. The two thoughts seem to merge together and I'm suddenly afraid of callous psychopaths that want to murder me for punching like a fucking girl.
Just before I finally drift off with my face pressed into the hard, cold wood, his face flashes in the back of my mind, projecting a perfect image of the expression he was wearing when our eyes first met.
For that brief blissful moment, there was one other person in the world that didn't hate me and I carefully file that expression away in my mental vault for later examination, something to hold on to when it all gets to be a little too much and I need to remember what it feels like to be acknowledged, even if only for those first crucial seconds.
Iruka opens the door sporting the best bed head I have ever seen in my life and I can't help but beam at him. The man is a legend.
"Morning sunshine," I say, punctuating this greeting statement with a little eyebrow wiggle.
Iruka blinks at me blearily, a mug of sludgy coffee clutched in his right hand like a life line and his eyebrow twitches, a movement that would be imperceptible to those that don't know him very well.
"Naruto," Iruka states, like a toddler labelling nouns and steps aside to let me through, his eyes darting up to the mirror in his hallway as I pass by. I stifle a snicker as he winces at the sight of his gravity defying hair and plop down comfortably at the kitchen table, relieved to be inside after my night sleeping on a park bench. Anyone that has ever slept outside without the appropriate means such as a tent or a sleeping bag can attest to how absolutely awful you can feel when you wake up the next day. This morning was spent stretching out joints so stiff I may as well have died during the night and started to succumb to the effects of rigor mortis, sorting out a neck which twinges uncomfortably every time I try and look to my left side and massaging feeling back into hypothermic hands. Thank God I had enough change from last night to afford a hot chocolate at the train station or I might have had to bypass Iruka's for a straight shot to the morgue.
"Coffee?" Iruka asks in a gravelly voice, holding up his own cup and sucking up the dregs of the vile stuff.
I shake my head. A hot drink would be nice right now, I still need to thaw out but I don't drink coffee on principle. Caffeine does not agree with me.
"Cereal?" I ask hopefully and Iruka jabs his thumb over his shoulder at the little cabinet next to the stove. Triumphantly, I hop up and start rummaging through the contents of the cabinet for the really tasty muesli Iruka always buys as he sets about pouring himself another cup of coffee.
I eye him warily as I straighten again and head to the cupboard for a bowl. Having lived with Iruka for a few years before I went to university, I know that it takes at least 3 cups of coffee for him to get going in the mornings so if this is only his second cup, I've got a while yet to avoid the subject of what happened last night.
I pull an involuntary face as I think about it, remembering the unsettlingly satisfying way that my fist connected with that bastard's delicate cheekbone.
I wonder if I gave him a black eye.
By the time I've grabbed the milk and have sat down in front of Iruka, he's into his third cup of coffee and is beginning to frown at me in concern. I shiver involuntarily, aware that my hands are still a little numb after spending the night on a bench.
Now that it's daylight, I realise how pathetic that is.
"Alright Naruto," Iruka says eventually, sighing slightly as he stares into the dregs of his coffee. "What's the matter? Let's hear it."
I pause with a spoonful of cereal half way to my lips, remembering the look of disdain on that guy's face the night before. It seems kind of like a long time ago now, the night was never-ending after I left…
I sigh, trying not to run my hand through my hair. I've done that way too much since the whole incident last night and I can feel the filth caking my scalp and my hands. I really want to use Iruka's shower.
"Oh God, where should I start?" I whine, going for melodramatic in hopes that I might make this appear a lot less serious than it really might be. This tactic usually works, at least with people that don't know me well. Iruka's eyes simply widen and for the first time, he really looks at me, taking in how scruffy I must appear to be after a night outside.
"What happened?" he asks again, his tone of voice sharper this time.
My eyes narrow.
"Don't panic Iruka, I'm fine, everyone's fine. I just…had a bit of a fight and Sakura got mad, that's all."
"You…had a fight?" Iruka repeats blankly, letting that sink in for a moment. "Was it with that Sai boy you've been living with because frankly, I'm surprised you haven't had a bit of an altercation with him befor-
"No dad it wasn't with Sai," I confirm, shaking my head.
Sai may be a bit of a jerk but he's never actually meant anything he's said, not like that prick did last night.
"It was…actually with the guy Sakura's currently crushing on. He was being a total jackass and I just…I dunno, I just sort of lost it."
Run hand through hair again.
Pause to consider the fact that I'm gonna need to invest in a hair transplant before I'm middle aged if I keep this up.
"She got mad enough to chuck me out, at least for the night so I was really hoping I could use your shower then maybe spend the day grovelling in hopes that she might lighten up," I say with a half hearted grin.
There's a pregnant pause while Iruka digests everything I've divulged, his eyes bugging out comically. Eventually, he rests his elbows on the table and lets his head fall onto his waiting palms. I can't help flinching guiltily when he sighs.
"Naruto, if Sakura chucked you out, where the hell did you go last night?"
My eyes widen in surprise. That was not the first thing I thought Iruka would say after hearing all that. Truthfully, I was expecting a reprimand for making unnecessary enemies after only being back at university for 2 weeks.
The question has thrown me so much that it actually takes me a moment to remember where I spent the night.
"I…sort of…sleptonaparkbench but it was fine!" I try and assure Iruka as he throws me an animated look of the deepest horror.
"You slept on a park bench?" Iruka re-iterates making the question sound like a statement. My hands shoot up defensively but as his eyes start to blaze, I hold my tongue, not wanting to irk him anymore than I already have. Now that I've actually admitted to the piteous truth, I realise just how stupid it sounds.
I really am a moron. Maybe instead of punching that asshole, I should have congratulated him for stating the obvious.
He won't use the word though I know he's absolutely itching to. Anything derogatory to my intelligence never goes down well if he really wants me to listen so, despite the fact that his face has gone an unhealthy shade of maroon, he bites back the word struggling to form on his tongue and lets one of his hands slap down on the hard table top. The spoon rattles in my half empty cereal bowl.
"You should have called me Naruto. I don't care what sort of time it was, I would have come and got you."
For a moment, pure, untainted affection rushes through me, thawing me much better than even the hot chocolate at the station did.
Iruka was worried about me.
It always amazes me when he proves that he genuinely cares, that anyone would genuinely care.
I sound like some sort of crazed emo.
Gotta work on that.
"You don't drive," I point out, shovelling muesli into my mouth and crunching idly, letting the flavours of raisons and whole grains merge in my mouth, swallowing so the mush settles on my slightly troubled stomach.
Iruka's eyes are like knives as he regards me.
"I have friends," he says curtly, meaning that he would have called on Mizuki. I may be an idiot but even I can predict how that would go down. Mizuki would do anything for Iruka – as long as whatever he needs doesn't involve me in some way. The man hates me more than most and that's saying a lot.
Iruka seems to realise the implications of what he just said and scowls as I scoff at him, knowing what I'm thinking.
"Mizuki's not a bad guy you know, he may not…have the highest opinion of you but he wouldn't leave you stranded in the middle of nowhere by yourself at night."
I respond to this dubious statement by getting up from the kitchen table and dumping my empty bowl in the sink. Suppressing another shiver, I stalk into the hallway and head for Iruka's bathroom, noting his almost silent footsteps on the stairs behind me. While I turn the shower on, he ventures into my old room for a set of my spare clothes and drops them on the sink along with a clean towel.
A strained smile graces my lips as I set eyes on my old orange hoodie.
I used to wear the thing constantly while I was in high school so it's a little worn out, and by a little worn out I mean virtually tattered. There are a few frayed holes in the edges with loose bits of string dangling freely down the main body. The colour has faded and the inner fluff has been thoroughly washed out but it fits my shape in a way that clothes only can after you wear them constantly for a long time. It was a good choice considering my night of hell. I need some comfort.
"Whatever you might think of Mizuki, please just call next time, okay?" Iruka says and the slightly anxious tone of voice is sincere.
Suddenly, I have to fight off the violent urge to hug the man, Iruka was always good in a crisis.
I strip off, unembarrassed when Iruka takes a seat on the toilet seat. The guy's lived with me for a long time so he's seen it all before, besides, the two of us get some real serious talking done in the shower. The hot water clears my head so it's easier to process what I'm hearing from him.
"So what exactly did this guy do for you start a fight with him?" Iruka asks while I step into the shower, hissing as the scalding liquid runs across my freezing skin.
"What makes you think I started it?" I ask him innocently.
Even though there is a shower curtain in the way, I can almost hear Iruka rolling his eyes.
"Naruto," he says sternly, like it's a crime to insinuate something like this might be the other guy's fault.
I guess he knows me pretty well.
I laugh sheepishly and reach for the shampoo. Iruka uses this weird stuff for course hair that seems to grant my own hair sentience but beggars can't be choosers. I work in a thick lather whilst thinking about everything that happened.
"He called me a moron and then just…instead of letting it go, he just…purposefully made it worse. I don't know," I say, frowning at my own rashness. I really need to think about stuff before I act but if I get mad that's it. I'm a creature of the moment damnit.
Iruka seems to realise that I've already come to the conclusion that any of his lectures would point me to so he makes a simple noise of acknowledgement, turning his attention to the solution for the overlying problem.
"So, what do we do to fix this?"
Another point in Iruka's favour is that he never hounds me about violence. During my high school years, I was involved in a fair few…quarrels but Iruka never tried to get up on a high horse and demand I quit dealing out punches to those who need it. I've never hit a girl so he doesn't need to worry about that and I've never done anyone any lasting damage so honestly, I don't see the problem. Most of the time, my punches are used a bit like full stops. They make people pause, consider and then continue, something people need to do once in a while and some of the time, they just don't know how.
"I tried to apologise to Sakura but she's pretty steamed," I say regretfully, reaching for the body wash. I try to ignore the pang of panic that shoots through me but it's difficult, I really don't want to lose her.
It's been nice to have someone to talk to.
"Have you tried apologising to the guy you hit? Maybe if he forgives you, she'll forgive you too."
I bristle immediately, my muscles tightening subtly under the stream of water running across my shoulders and down over my concave naval. A growl rumbles up from my throat and I have to grit my teeth to hold in this influx of rage.
"Tch, like I'd apologise to a stuck up guy like him. Goddamn asshole."
Iruka's response to this is a little snippy, like he's running out of patience. I guess I can't blame him, I've caused him a lot of upset this morning.
"Naruto, if you were the one that instigated the fight and let matters get out of control then you need to be the bigger man and apologise."
I'm not sure if it's the fact that I've had a long and highly traumatic night on a park bench or if this whole situation is so serious, anything could be funny but I snicker childishly into my hand as I turn off the shower and grab the towel Iruka brought me.
"Heh, the bigger man," I chuckle as I start to wipe off the excess water. "There was one point when I got up close and personal but I didn't really have time to compare."
Iruka's eyes widen in disbelief for a moment and then, amusingly, his eyes crinkle at the corners in barely suppressed mirth while his mouth pulls down into something resembling disapproval. I watch the warring of emotions on his face, entertained beyond comprehension before he just shakes his head, letting one stray chortle out before throwing my underwear at my grinning face.
"Just get dressed and come downstairs pervert. I've got a few things to do this afternoon but we can grab some lunch at Ichiraku's before I go alright?"
And just like that, all the heaviness laying over my system, all the guilt, the regret, the anger at myself dissipates. I can feel my eyes practically sparkling as my expression morphs into a mask of true appreciation. Ichiraku's is the answer to all of life's problems.
"Seriously? You're the best, I totally mean that and if I ever leave my dirty laundry hanging around or forget to take out my ramen cups or call you up in the middle of the night because I'm stuck sleeping on a park bench again then all you need to do is remind of this moment and I will bend to your indomitable will."
I bow low to punctuate this statement and confirm my undying love of both ramen and Iruka's generosity.
Iruka takes the opportunity, while my guard is down, to hit me upside the head. There's a jovial twinkle in his eye as I look up sheepishly, muttering a pathetic 'ouch' under my breath for show more than as an actual exclamation of pain.
"If you were gonna bend to my will for ramen, you'd suck it up and apologise to the guy but I know you Uzumaki Naruto. You've taken this personally and now there's no way anything will ever be smooth between you two."
"Heh," I utter by the way of admitting to my faults. Once someone gets me riled, it's hard to stop reacting to them so intensely.
Maybe that's one of the reasons people don't like me so much.
"Now for God's sake put some clothes on, I know you're an exhibitionist at heart but even Ichiraku's has a dress code."
Ramen really does make everything so much better.
When I step off of the train at Konoha station and take a deep breath, I can taste the lingering tang of lunch on the back of my tongue and it makes me smile despite my current circumstances. The day has turned into one of those crisp autumn days that crop up when the weather is about to turn and I find myself kicking up leaves as I start trekking towards the university.
Generally speaking, the plan is simple, I'm to call Sakura again today, hoping she's had a chance to cool off about the whole incident, and grovel mercilessly until she takes me back. If she's actually chucking me out long term then I'm heading to the university anyway, I can just start the ball rolling for an emergency room transfer. I'm sure there's someone somewhere that won't charge a boat load of rent for a studio or something…
Flipping up the phone, I take another deep breath and speed dial Sakura. My heart is pounding in my ears as a light click on the other side confirms she's picked up the receiver.
"Naruto," she says and weirdly enough, her voice is scratchy and thick, like she has a bad head cold. There's a painful constriction in my chest as I realise she's probably been crying. She really is serious about that Uchiha ass. If she forgives me, I might have to make it a personal mission to see that she gets a chance with him, even if she deserves so much better.
"Hi Sakura," I say slowly, trying to remember what Iruka was telling me over lunch about pausing at the right places and really listening to what she has to say.
Annoyingly, I can only remember the beginning of what he was telling me, the rest of my concentration was directed towards deconstructing the subtle flavours packed into each pork slice I managed to grasp between my chop sticks or pondering on how they get the egg to float so nicely under the surface of the broth.
Mm…Ichiraku miso pork broth…
"Naruto, are you listening?"
"Huh? Sorry I was-
"Don't. Worry. About it," Sakura grinds out and I can help but pull a face of severe discomfort as I take in the tone of voice she's using.
She hasn't calmed down at all, and distracting myself with thoughts of pork ramen really isn't helping me any when she's trying to be civil and talk to me.
I'm my own worst enemy.
"Look, I've mulled it over and I really don't think you should live here anymore."
The bottom simply drops out of my stomach and I pause on the leaf strewn path I'm currently ambling down, disbelief churning through me.
Disbelief and a crushing sense of finality.
"I…wait, what?" I ask stupidly, my thoughts derailing into a spectacular pile up somewhere in the middle of my mind. I can't quite fathom that she's taken this so badly, can't quite understand that she's willing to write me off as her friend when I had a clash with her crush that couldn't have lasted 15 minutes. I know we've only been friends for a year or so and she doesn't know me that well but…
Aren't I worth more to her than someone she's barely spoken to?
"I saw Sasuke's eye today Naruto and he looked really mad. Normally I at least get a hello and the usual responses but today he…he t-totally blanked me!"
Gnawing guilt is moulding into mounting rage which is devolving back into regret and it's a never-ending pulsing system of tumultuous feelings lurching through my washed out system. All the good that the ramen did when I went to lunch with Iruka is slowly being worn down by the re-emergence of the same issues.
How dare he blank her! Our fight had absolutely nothing to do with her! She was an innocent bystander to our altercation, where does he get off being so…so…
"Bastard," I hiss down the phone, unable to hold my tongue through the haze of red I'm starting to experience. The word tastes hot on my tongue and Sakura's response is nearly hysterical.
"Naruto, I c-can't believe you…you idiot! You've got a week to p-pick up your things alright? I want you g-gone."
I've made her cry again.
Aren't I just as bad, if not worse than he is?
Maybe I deserve to be thrown out of the house. Why should Sakura hold a place for me when all I do is cause her misery?
"Sakura…" I whisper her name down the phone in a voice that's not my own. It's far too soft, far too vulnerable, far too…
For the first time since this whole thing began, words honestly fail between us and I'm left standing on the path with the lazy clouds rolling ahead of me, a settled sky that doesn't reflect the turmoil playing out on the ground. Sakura's bitter sobs stave off the silence and I feel like the worst person in the world.
Eventually, Sakura gets a hold of herself long enough to simply say:
"I'm sorry Naruto," before the phone clicks and the line goes dead, sounding out an obnoxious single note like a flat-lined heart machine.
The wall across from me is plastered with a variety of posters and notes advertising everything from used cars and band positions to old Playstations and rooms for rent. I'm sprawled out in an undignified slouch on the bench across from that wall, glaring out of bleary eyes at the notes and trying to pick out something that might be suitable. Though there are a few places still going (because it's still pretty early in the term), none of them have decent rent and even with the part-time job I hold at the Shushuya there's no way I'd be able to afford it along with student fees and I refuse to ask for a loan from Iruka who's already helped me too much.
The halls surrounding the notice board in the student building are eerily silent but for the student body, it's a pretty weird time of day. It's after lunch time so there are no catered students wandering around and it's still early enough that they're not setting up for the evening activities yet. The building is old though and the hall is high ceilinged and narrow meaning that the sound of clicking heels is carried all the way from across the building so it sounds like someone might come up behind me when they're actually quite far away.
I blink, feeling my eyes stick closed briefly. I'm really starting to feel the crappy night I spent on the bench. Mental note: Take Iruka's advice and call him next time.
When I manage to peel my eyes open there's someone standing in front of me, peering at me with a look bordering on manic excitement and I jump about a mile in the air, toppling off of the edge of the bench to land in an undignified heap.
"Gah!" I yelp in a seriously un-manly manner, throwing my arms up in a bad imitation of a stance I saw Jackie Chan take up once in one of his older movies.
The guy standing above me simply grins and holds out a hand for me to take.
I eye it suspiciously.
"What? Don't you trust me?" he asks after a while and I realise that my blatant suspicion of this guy, despite the out of place, frankly creepy, expression on his face, is somewhat unfounded and to ignore his outstretched hand is something of a social faux pas. Against my better judgement, I accept his open hand and heave myself up, running an automatic hand over my eyes to rub away the gritty residue of half sleep.
The guy frowns, his fairer than fair eyebrows knotting atop his eyes and I mimic his expression, realising when I get a good look at him that I've seen him somewhere before but I'm unable to pinpoint exactly where.
"Are you okay?" he asks. "You look exhausted."
"Mn, rough night," I confirm, trying to throw him a cheeky smile but only managing a grimace instead.
"Yeah, I can imagine," he says sympathetically, angling his body so he's facing the notice board whilst keeping his light coloured eyes trained on me.
I wonder if he's admiring my favourite orange hoodie.
"So what brings you to the student hall at this time on a Saturday?" he asks me amiably, lifting up a sheet on the notice board to check a notice I hadn't found yet.
"Uh…" I scratch the back of my head sheepishly, wondering how much to tell a total stranger, even if this stranger is being weirdly pleasant with me. Normally people don't want anything to do with me after the first few minutes of conversation. Did this guy not get the memo?
"I've kind of fallen out with my housemates," I tell him, deciding to stick to the truth. "So I need a new place to stay and fast. I thought I might find something…what?"
The guy freezes up like something's bitten him in the ass and turns round agonizingly slowly, like the serial killers in the old movies to fix me with an unnervingly hyper gaze.
Seriously, how much sugar has this guy ingested recently?
"You've got to be shitting me," he says in the kind of voice you'd associate with telling someone they've just won the lottery.
"What?" I repeat, alarmed by his tone and his over-excitement.
"Dude, that's just what I came to check out. We've got a spare room going at our place and we need someone to fill it ASAP!"
I feel a stirring in my gut akin to a pleasant spark of hope and briefly struggle with myself. By nature I'm an optimist but there are certain times in life where one has to be a realist first a foremost.
"What kind of rent do you want? If it's in the general ball park of these then there's no-
The guy shaking his head cuts me off. Platinum locks fly around his face until they're in disarray.
"It's a box room," he tells me excitedly. "We only need half rent for it if you're willing to put in with the bills evenly. The house is just over a mile from the university."
It's too good to be true, way too good. What's the catch? Why haven't they already got someone to fill this space?
"It sounds good right?" the guy is saying, practically vibrating in front of me. "And you're in a pinch right?"
The feeling of steady excitement dulls within me as I remember just why I have to find somewhere new to live in the first place but somehow, this guy's smile is infectious and I find myself realising that another opportunity like this might never come along. No-one ever stays talking to me for this long in a friendly manner, not even Sakura managed it when we first met.
"If I agree to this, you gotta promise not to be like…a house of serial molesters or something," I say warily, my words slurring slightly as I struggle to stay completely conscious. At this rate, I'll take anywhere with a bed.
There's a curious twinkle in this guy's eye as he wraps his arm around my shoulder and steers me away from the notice board in the direction of the student registration office.
"Ha! No promises there sunshine," he tells me in a joking tone and I narrow my eyes at him, even though I can tell that he isn't serious.
"My name's Naruto," I tell him through a half suppressed yawn.
"Oh? Naruto huh? I'm Suigetsu, pleased to meet you."
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