Even though no one else seemed to like him or show any interest in him at all whatsoever, he still smiled. And she wondered why. NaruSaku fluffship
“Who is that boy?”
Her mommy was just in the process of leaving the room for cleaning the kitchen after she handed her daddy his supper. And her daddy was in the process of reaching for the paper. And when she asked the question, both of them went frozen stiff.
Her daddy was the first to respond, clearing his throat as he clutched the newspaper with a strange expression on his face. “What are you talking about, darling?”
His attempt of feigning curiosity failed to impress her. She knew he knew of whom she was speaking of. But a sickening feeling crept into her system and she gurgled on her own spit, swallowed, and shoved her plate away from her, saying, “I don’t feel very good.” She pulled her tiny little arms away from her and jumped from the seat, no longer feeling up to playing with them any more.
After taking a bath and brushing her teeth twice, she crawled into her room and into bed and under her covers, thinking.
She had paid a visit to the park that day, after being invited to do so by Ino Yamanaka, a friend of hers from the Academy. It had a been a fun day spent on picking flowers in the fields not too far off, swinging in the swings, and stealing not-so discreet glances at the totally awesome Sasuke-kun.
But then, something strange happened: He appeared.
That oh-so very strange, very weird boy; the boy she couldn’t take her eyes off of, even when Sasuke-kun happened to pass by.
He was loud, boisterous, obnoxious, and… very jumpy. He had a lot of energy. So much energy, it was tiring just watching him. But she had kept watching him anyway.
Yes, he was a weird boy indeed.
So weird was he; with blonde hair and blue eyes. But what made him even weirder were those weird lines on his cheeks. What was he, a cat?
Yes, so very weird.
But no matter how weird he was, she couldn’t tear her gaze away from him.
No matter how tiring it was, she wouldn’t stop watching him.
Why? She mused to herself.
She didn’t know. But it was… appealing.
He was a boy no one seemed to like. Especially at the academy: Not even the teachers seemed to like him. Normally, one would jump to the assumption that it was because the boy lacked talent, but she, on the other hand, thought it was much more complicated than that. She had seen the looks the grown-ups had given him. Didn’t anyone else?
When she caught her mother staring (or more like glaring), it was the stare that she would normally be the receiver of. It was a look that said, “You’ve been a bad, bad girl, Sakura-chan! I hope you’re pleased with yourself. Go, sit in the corner now! You bad, bad girl.”
But she didn’t understand why.
Why did her mommy look at him that way? He wasn’t her mommy’s daughter. She was. He wasn’t her. She was.
And he definitely hadn’t done anything wrong.
Not from what she could tell, anyway.
He was acting funny. He would throw his hands up in the air and make stupid sounds with his hands in his armpits and he would laugh and pull pranks and laugh some more. And the other kids would laugh, too, though it was more at him than with him. And she wondered why.
The boy looked nice enough.
Granted, he was really weird.
But that was what probably made him so… cool. He wasn’t like anyone she had ever met before, even Sasuke-kun. Sasuke-kun was always quiet, and succeeded at everything. That was a cool, a very cool, kind of cool. But he made everything fun. He always pulled pranks, he always failed miserably at his studies, and he always made her watch him without her realizing it. It was so weird, it was cool.
And then she remembered her mommy when it was time to go: She had a rather ugly look on her face. But it wasn’t directed towards her. It was directed towards him. And she didn’t know why.
Briefly, she wondered who his parents were. She never saw them at opening ceremonies, or class celebrations. He was always alone. Why weren’t his mommy and daddy with him like her mommy and daddy were with her?
As sleep began to weigh her thoughts, she decided that she would find out the answer to the question that plagued her mind all day long.
The next morning, her mommy woke her up from the kitchen, pounding on the wall that separated the two rooms. She jumped from surprise, somehow rolling over and falling out of bed, tangling herself in her bed sheets more than she already was. If her mommy heard the very loud “thump”, she didn’t say anything.
As soon as she got herself dressed and seemingly appropriate for outside activity, she declared she was going to go to the park. Her mother volunteered to go with her, but she shook her head with the excuse of, “If I’m going to be a kunoichi and Sasuke-kun’s wife, I have to learn to walk to the park on my own!”
Yes, it was a stupid excuse. And, yes, her parents were stupid for letting her go on her own. But she was a six-year-old girl infatuated with a mystery. And she was cute to boot. How could her parents argue? Though, that still didn’t change the fact that they’d actually let her go off on her own.
Or perhaps they really hadn’t allowed her to leave on her own. Perhaps they just didn’t hear her?
Nevertheless, she reached up and opened the door to her humble abode (whatever that means) and ran off. She didn’t bother look back to see if anyone was chasing after her, she really didn’t care. She was too caught up in the goodness of watching the weirdo for the day.
She lazily let her mind wander off back and forth between the simple vague question “why?” and the seemingly endless happy wave of the boy.
Why was he always so happy? He had no friends whatsoever. He was always alone. And all of the parents of her classmates hated him, too. Their classmates would not so much as bother to play with him, not even she- the one who was so desperately trying to figure out why and who could never stop watching him.
When she finally realized she couldn’t come up with an answer on her own, she puffed her cheeks angrily, crossed her arms over her chest, and stomped her foot repeatedly on the dirt covered road.
This wasn’t fun at all.
She made her way on short skinny legs to the fence of the park. She found the opening gate locked and puffed her cheeks up in annoyance again. She couldn’t reach the metal that kept the gate shut; she was much too short for that.
So, instead of trying to do so or asking for assistance, she began to climb. It was when she almost had thrown her leg over the top of the fence that someone came up and unlocked the gate with a simple flick of the wrist. But she didn’t notice, too engrossed in her fence-climbing. She did, however, hear the creaking of the metal gate and felt the rattling as the gate was shoved aside and hit the body of the fence. She looked up curiously, and heard a rather handsome rumble of amusement (much to her aggravation).
“If you wanted in the park, little one, you should have just asked.”
Her pretty bright hazel eyes met a masked man, a headband covering one of his eyes, his other creased pleasantly. It took her a while before she realized that this man was a ninja, and the headband covering half his face was a forehead protector, displaying the insignia of the Village Hidden in the Leaves engraved in the metal plate that stuck to it. If he was a very friendly person, no other grown-up would know: He had a very, very lazy eye when he wasn’t smiling, and the hair on top of his head made him look unapproachable, what with looking like a wet mop (though, it would seem that the women who passed by would disagree, gawking in the similar fashion she would whenever she saw Sasuke-kun).
She gave the man standing before her a frown. It was a frown that said, “My mommy always tells me never to talk to strangers, weirdo. And you’re a weird stranger.”
The man, though, didn’t seem fazed by this at all as he held out his hand to her. She accepted it, albeit a bit hesitantly (and completely ignoring her mother’s lectures on strangers and safety), and he wrapped an arm around her as soon as she did and hoisted her off the fence. She released a shriek and hung on to him for dear life. The man was a full three heads taller than her father, after all. It felt like the highest she had ever been off the ground (not that she could tell or anything).
He chuckled again and set her on the ground, giving her a brief pat on the head, tousling her head of carefully brushed pink hair. He received a rather mixed glare: She attempted to look threatening, but she was too young to look such; her cheeks puffed with air and flushed red, her lips pouted into a frown, and her eyes childishly glared up at him. But he got the message nonetheless and withdrew his hand from her head.
In an instant, she was combing her fingers through her delicately cute tresses and making sure the bow on her head was fixed the way she wanted. As soon as she was done, she turned on her heel (not bothering with a “thank you”, especially not after rumpling her hair in such a manner) and went to the closest thing that could occupy her time: The Swings.
Much to her dismay, however, it would seem that she was being followed.
“What is such a pretty little girl doing out in the park all by herself?”
She snorted loudly when he said, “little” and jumped into the swing. Unfortunately, she slid out and fell on her bottom.
She grunted and tried again.
She whimpered after her sixth try, giving up completely. The man whom had helped her watched with amusement (or she thought so at least, it was kind of hard to tell with almost 99.9574663 percent of his face covered up). Finally, she said:
“I am not little.”
Now, that wasn’t a very nice way of asking for his assistance, and she could just hear the teasing in his voice as he voiced the one syllable word, “Oh?”
She got up, patting her tan Capri’s sandless and marched away to a tree.
And he followed… again.
Quickly, she turned around, the same look on her face when he ruffled her hair, and shouted, “Why do you keep following me?!”
The man continued his little walk until he reached the trunk of the tree and sat down. He patted the spot next to him. She bluntly refused.
“You’re a freak,” she said simply, crossing her arms across her chest and sticking her nose up in the air.
The man feigned hurt. “Now, now, that’s no way to treat a person.”
“But it’s true!”
There was a moment’s silence, a silence in which she took the opportunity to grace the weird man with her presence, sitting down next to him underneath the old tree… despite her earlier accusations that he was a “freak”. She pulled her knees up to her chest and wrapped her little arms around them.
“What’s your name?”
The man snorted and leaned back against the trunk, crossing his arms over his chest and pulling out a strange orange book. “I thought I was a freak.”
“What are you reading?”
“Nothing that concerns you.”
“What are you doing?”
“I don’t feel like telling you.”
Sakura’s cheeks flushed with anger, her frown growing in size.
“You’re a big poop-head,” she said finally.
“This is coming from a little girl who labels people she doesn’t know as “freaks”,” he said in reply. She glowered at his covered face.
“I am not little!”
This time, she screamed it, and he jumped.
He turned and stared at her for a long time, stuffing his book away somewhere behind him, and sticking his finger under his headband to massage his ear. He sighed heavily, his lazy expression hardening in a way that made her a little frightened.
“Listen, little girl,” he emphasized the words she clearly denied to be true, making her even more steamed, “You ran off from your parents. They're scared, damn it, and want you back home.”
She gasped audibly, her pretty colorful eyes widening in disbelief. He said a BAD word!
She voiced it loudly, pointing an accusing finger at him. “And you don’t care?!”
He shrugged his shoulders, “You’ll hear worse when you’re older.” He grabbed her finger and lowered it. “Now, go home.”
She shook her head, still caught in a stupor over his little “slip”, and still determined to meet the weirdo boy from the Academy. “No.”
He blinked at her, pulling away. “Why not?”
She paused, looking away and stuffing her chin into her arms. “Because I don’t want to. That’s why.”
He watched her carefully, his only visible eye dark and showing any sort of interest to the current predicament, though it really didn’t seem like he cared at all. When it seemed like he would say something, the loudness of laughter and irritated screaming prevented him from doing so. Both of their heads shot up, just in time to see a blonde boy running for his life and laughing uncontrollably with three older men chasing after him.
The girl’s eyes glittered and she shot up to her feet quickly to chase after him.
The man’s eye narrowed momentarily, but he brushed it off quickly, pulling his handy dandy orange book out and flipping through the pages a little too eagerly for a shinobi of only 19 years of age.
She had followed the group of displeased men and very amused boy for what seemed like a little over forever. If she hadn’t started her physical training at the academy for aspiring ninja, it wouldn’t have been long before she gave up chasing after them completely. But, luckily, she was used to running long distances… just not quite so quickly. And it showed when her legs gave way and she tripped over her own two feet.
Pulling herself up slowly, she found her knee, scraped and scratched and bloody, and began to cry.
This was that entire weirdo’s fault!
If he had just come to the park like she had thought he would so early in the morning, she wouldn’t be there on the dirty ground, crying because of a painful wound.
She expressed all of her thoughts in a very loud wail, tears protruding from her eyes like thick and sticky molasses.
Her crying did very little to sway the citizens of Konoha, though; no one bothered to stop and ask her what was wrong; they didn’t seem to care. This thought made her sob even more.
Why didn’t anyone care? They were all acting like a bunch of big, meanie-heads!
She huffed, her cheeks flushed, and stood up on wobbly knees (one more so than the other) and stomped off back to the park. She didn’t need anyone’s help anyway!
When she reached the park, she saw that the stranger was exactly where he left her. And she also found that she had the opportunity to finish her fence climbing before the freak interrupted her. But she didn’t bother doing so; her knee hurt like the dickens now and she didn’t want to hurt herself anymore than she already had.
When she finally returned, she plopped herself down abruptly on her butt and brought her injured knee up to her chin, sniffling loudly. The man pretended not to notice.
“What are you doing back so soon,” he asked, glancing up from his book. She sniffled again.
“I hurt my knee…”
“Ah,” said the man, who set his book down on the ground and turned to her fully. “Well, then, let me see.”
He waved his hands at her to face him and patted his lap. For a moment, she didn’t know if she was supposed to sit in his lap or set her leg in it. But her pondering was pointless; he grabbed her from under her armpits and set her down quite comfortably between his legs. In a very sweet and flattering movement, he extended her scraped knee over his thigh and gave a sigh.
“It’s just a little scratch,” he murmered, brushing his fingertips over the little strawberry.
She flinched and squinted her eyes shut, trying to squirm her way out of his grasp. “But it hurts,” she whimpered.
The man sighed again, shoving his mop of silver hair back with a hand as he stared at her. Then, unexpectedly, he lifted her knee and kissed it with his covered lips and put a bandage on it. “How about now? Does it feel better now?”
She could have laughed, it was probably the weirdest thing she’d ever experienced in her six-and-a-half years of living. He was trying to be a mommy, but he wasn’t the right shape to be one, nor did he have the right body parts, or the voice, and he was too… hard.
Finally, after a while, she said, “You don’t make a very good mommy.”
Needless to say, he was left speechless. His eyebrow rose in consideration for a moment, before he began to chuckle with amusement. “I see,” he said, pulling her out of his lap (though she just climbed back onto it to which he just sighed- now he wouldn’t be able to read his book). “Well, since I’m not a mommy in anyway, shape or form, then you can tell me things you can’t tell your mommy, right?”
She blinked. “What does that mean?”
“Like,” he paused, placing a finger to his chin as if he were thinking, “why you chased after that boy, for instance?”
At the question, her cheeks began to burn embarrassedly. “What boy, I didn’t see a boy.”
Luckily, the stranger left it at that.
Eventually, other kids began to show up, one of them being her friend Ino, and she joined them as soon as she saw them.
The time went by in a flash before she ever saw the strange boy again, and she found herself just as entranced by him as she did the previous day. But today, it seemed like he wasn’t quite as energetic. In fact, he seemed rather upset about something. Again, she wondered why. But before she could go up and asked him, the strange man from before popped up next to her.
“Why does no one like that boy?” Without even realizing it, she found herself asking the stranger the same question she did her parents. She only hoped she would receive an actual answer this time. But just in case, she thought she’d clarify who she spoke of and pointed to the blonde kid. “Every time I see him, he’s always doing weird stuff and is always trying to get attention, but no one seems to care. The grown-ups just stare at him as if he’s a bad kid, and our class mates just ignore him or treat him like he’s stupid. Why is that?”
The man crouched down on the balls of his feet next to her, propping his elbows p on his arms as he watched the boy as well. “Sometimes people get lonely, and they don’t know how to handle it. They’d do anything for attention.”
She stole a glance at him from the corner of her eye. To her astonishment, the man seemed just as intrigued as she. “But why? Why doesn’t he have any friends?” She turned her face fully on him now, her brows furrowed with the frustration of not knowing. “Doesn’t he have a mommy or daddy at home? Why don’t they talk to him or hang out with him? Why is he treated so much differently from me?”
The man gave her a look, one that she couldn’t really decipher because of his mask, and the two of them stared at each other for a long while before he turned his face back to the boy who now sat alone on a swing and scratched his covered nose. She followed his gaze, and she instantly found him. She frowned at the look he held on his face.
“Why don’t you ask him yourself? I’m sure he needs the talk.” And with that, the strange man disappeared with a “pop!”
She furrowed her eyebrows, this time in curiosity. Why would he need the talk? But she followed through with the advice anyway. It’s not like she hadn’t thought about it before.
She walked over to him carefully, slowly. She was afraid of how he’d react if she appeared next to him and tried talking with him. He looked so sad, nothing at all like the boy she had seen just the other day. In place of that happy, bouncy wave he gave came a wave… that just poured the sadness out and invaded everything around him. It made her feel sad, too.
Maybe, she thought, he doesn’t need to talk about anything. Maybe all he really needs is a friend? No one else seemed too concerned with the idea of hanging out with him. The only people that ever paid him any mind were the ones who were always annoyed with him, chasing after him like lunatics bent on wreaking havoc on a havoc wreaker. He was always getting into trouble like that, it would seem.
Perhaps it was just his way of feeling better about himself, to be able to be chased like the other kids always were by their friends…? At the idea, she stopped with hesitation.
What if he wanted her to chase him around?
What would her classmates think if she saw her talking with him?
What would her parents say if they found her with him? Surely, they wouldn’t like the idea and would tell her not to play with him. If that happened, how would he think of her? She didn’t like being not liked, she was disliked for the majority of her first year at the Academy for her forehead, and she didn’t like the idea of having to go through that again.
But she found that she didn’t have a whole lot of time left to make a decision- no matter how slowly she walked to him, she still grew closer and closer. She frowned, furrowing her eyebrows some more as she thought.
It was true that she had been picked on because of her forehead, but that was before Ino had taken her in, and it was only because of her forehead (which was probably the size of a chalk board). This boy, however, had been through a lot more, it would seem; perhaps since he was only a baby. She could only imagine how terribly lonely he must feel all of the time, without any friends or parents who don’t care about you. There’s a chance that what she went through was nothing compared to what he was going through.
She hadn’t even realized she had approached him, until she bumped into the swing he sat in and the two went tumbling to the ground.
Oh, what a wonderful beginning to a potential relationship.
The two cried out and got up at exactly the same time.
He clutched onto his forehead, she her butt (maybe even gingerly rubbing around the skinned area of her previous scrape from earlier that day).
The two looked at each other, and she had the guts to look away.
He, on the other hand, gave her an ugly look.
“What the heck is your problem,” he shouted, giving his forehead another good rub before he stood up. She jumped at the viciousness in his voice and backed away slightly.
“I-I’m sorry,” she stammered, stealing a glance of embarrassment at him.
He gave a muffled “yeah, right,” and crossed his arms over his chest. And she watched as he got back up on the swing and began swinging again. She was relieved to see that the sadness had left his features, even though he gave her an annoyed look, and took the chance to smile up at him thankfully.
“You’re not sad anymore.”
She didn’t know, or even how, she’d said it. The words just kind of tumbled off her tongue and flowed from her mouth. She didn’t know if she should be happy she said it or not. She didn’t know what he thought of it when she said it, either, but his angered look did go away, though he gave her a rather confused look afterwards.
“What?” Yes, he was most certainly confused. But she thought it would be best if she cleared it up.
“Before I came over here, you looked so sad,” she said, crawling onto her knees and placing her palms flat onto her thighs as she looked up at him. “But that’s not so anymore. I’m thankful.”
The boy’s cheeks flushed a light pink before he looked away form her, sticking his nose up in the air. “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he said after a moment, grasping onto the handles of the swing he sat on. “I wasn’t sad.”
The girl gave him a look of mild disbelief. “Oh, really,” she asked, her eyes widening with interest. The boy nodded in response.
“I was just thinking.”
“You looked like you were thinking some very sad thoughts.” The boy’s eye twitched as he looked back at her, his eyes shut into two thin slits, his bottom lip popping out with his frown. She got the idea and backed off the subject. Instead, she held out her hand to him, a cute smile gracing her little features. “My name is Sakura Haruno, age six-and-a-half. What’s yours?”
The boy grinned foxily, his smile reaching from ear to ear and making the whiskers on his face move up under his eyes. “Naruto Uzumaki, age seven!” Somehow, she doubted that. “I like your bow,” he added glancing up at the red ribbon tied in her hair. His comment made her blush with gratification and she voiced it through a very pleased giggle.
His grin only grew wider, and he began talking with her very animatedly through his hands and raising his voice. Many of the things he said were very funny, and she found herself laughing at the many things he mentioned. Actually, everything he said was rather funny- all of the pranks he pulled and how he outsmarted the higher ranked ninja and got away from them; all of his jokes; the things he did. It was hard to believe that such a funny boy wasn’t liked by anyone anywhere.
It was also difficult to believe that such a sad boy could hide his sadness behind a smile. Briefly, she wondered how he was able to do it. No one liked him, and he annoyed them more than amused them. Surely, he knew this, right? So, then, why? How? She wanted to ask, but was afraid of how he would react- similarly to when he denied being sad before? She wondered.
When she stopped responding to his jokes, the boy looked at her with a frown. “Hey,” he said, waving a hand in front of her face, “are you alright?”
Caught in the act, she waved her hands ruthlessly in the air, crying out. “No, I’m fine, I’m fine, I’m fine!” One could only guess how pathetic it sounded, and how very untrue it could possibly be, but no one would say anything, especially those who were naïve enough to believe her- like him.
He smiled in response, obvious relief shooting from him like a tidal wave as he held out his hand for her to take. She stared at it, and reluctantly did so, gripping it softly, surprised by how nice it felt to have a friend that wasn’t a girl (and then she began wondering if holding Sasuke-kun’s hand would feel like this).
“Hey, Sakura-chan,” he asked as he began walking with her. She gave him a small “Hm?” of acknowledgement, stealing a glance at him.
The two of them stopped in front of a small shop, the words “Ichiraku Ramen” splayed on large pieces of cloth overtop the entrance. She blinked and looked at him, flushing tenderly at the sight of his grateful smile.
“I just wanted to say thank you.”
It was amazing at how such a simple thing could change his life.
After that day, she never spoke to him again. He never understood why, he never asked, but he was thankful to her nonetheless.
It was her and her smiles which had made him realize just how determined he was to gain that recognition he had never been given before. It was the day that they had spent the rest of their mid-afternoon and early evening with each other that he realized just how much he craved the acknowledgement he was never given the chance to soak himself in before.
And even if she hated him afterward, he still liked her.
And he’d make damn sure she knew it, with everything he had, too.
It was his job, as the future Hokage, Naruto Uzumaki, to make sure she knew just how much she meant to him.