“Is it just me, or did Hinata’s boobs grow over night?”
“How do you mean?” Naruto snatched the photograph from Chouji’s hands and eyed the image of the well-endowed young woman from Class 3-4. The school’s mandatory blue swimsuit did nothing to hide the curves that made Hinata Hyuuga one of the most sought after girls in the school. So what if she blushed at every little thing, and she barely spoke above a whisper, or that she had a scary-looking cousin that could kick your ass if you warranted it? It was the body that counted.
“Check this out,” Chouji said, as he whipped out another picture of the girl. “Hinata circa Friday last week. Notice the way the boobs curve on the outside as she leans down…fast-forward to the picture in your hands, Naruto, my friend. Notice anything different?”
“Maybe she’s just turning the wrong way or something,” Naruto concluded as he took another bite of his rice cake. Miss Fuyutsuki, the cook/mother hen, had been nice enough to make a few for him this morning. He and Chouji were currently sitting beneath the large oak tree next to the swimming pool. However, it was only junior high school students swimming at the moment, so nothing much to gawk at…unless you were into the Lolita thing.
“Anyway, I’m thinking of joining the Martial Arts Club,” Naruto mumbled as he polished off the rest of the cake and dusted his hands together.
“Whazzat?” Chouji asked, not really paying that much attention as he browsed through his stash. He had a few students to meet after school to make some sales, and finding that darn picture of Ino in her bra…
“I said I’m joining the Martial Arts Club.”
“Why, dude? You said you hated those things.”
To save my butt…and yours too come to think of it, Naruto thought, as he absently traced the band-aid stuck on his bruised cheek, but he said instead. “Well you know…any excuse to kick some ass. And besides, I’ve gotta beef up my resume. Or my uncle’s gonna have my head.”
“Oh yeah…when’s he coming back? Found it!” He waved the precious picture and drooled for a moment over the pretty blonde’s image. “Bam! She’s fine.”
“Next week,” Naruto replied as he noticed the duo approaching with an inward groan. “Shit. Hide those things, douche bag! Karin the Dyke’s approaching.”
Chouji cursed beneath his breath and tried to stuff the envelopes into his backpack, but Karin was quick, so was the dark-haired boy standing beside her. Both were in white gi and the black belt laced around their waists was a clear sign of their status. It wasn’t as if Karin was ugly, Naruto surmised. She was just one of those Sasuke drool-bots that was as loud as she was tall. She was supposedly one of the smartest girls in the school, but that piercing near her jaw and the way her eyes could turn ‘evil’ in a second if things didn’t go her way, had earned her the nickname. Not that she seemed to give a fuck. As vice-president of the senior year class, she enjoyed wielding her power whenever and wherever she could. She smirked and folded her arms across her chest, seeming to sneer at the two boys still sprawled beneath the tree.
“Well, well, if it isn’t the perverted duo. How are you Chouji and Naruto?”
“Fine thanks and you?” Naruto asked sweetly, a false grin plastered on his face. He watched Karin’s cheeks darken and sniggered. It was so easy to get the girl in a tizzy.
“Hello Naruto…Chouji,” Sai greeted with a smile of his own. However, it didn’t quite seem to reach his eyes and Naruto shivered at the sight. Creepy. Sai was in class 3-1 with Sasuke and his cronies. He looked as pale as a sheet most of the time, even though one would assume with the blistering summers they had here, the kid would have gotten a tan by this time, but apparently not. Sai was usually quiet most of the time – a killer artist though as his work was almost always featured in the main hall of the high school, and he won several National Art competitions and what not. He liked to keep to himself, and many assumed he was more into the guys than girls, since he didn’t seem really interested in courting the members of the opposite sex. No wonder he and Sasuke were a couple…if the rumors were true. They seemed alike…in a way.
“So Naruto…are you coming with us?” Sai asked.
“Yes,” Karin replied with a more genuine smile. “Juugo told us the wonderful news this morning. You’ll be joining the team, right?”
“Uh…” Naruto cursed inwardly. He had deliberately avoided the group this morning, thankful that Sasuke and his crew weren’t in his class or he was sure he wouldn’t have escaped meeting the captain much sooner than he would have liked. He still had to think of a way to bring up the whole signing-up-and-letting-Sasuke-give-him-a-break type deal.
“…follow us…” Karin was saying. “Sasuke’s in the dojo too.”
But I don’t want to see that bastard! Naruto wailed inside as he rose to his feet slowly. However, he couldn’t delay the inevitable. Their conversation was bound to happen sooner or later, why wait? “See you later, Chouji,” he began, but his plump friend was already on his feet.
“This, I’ve gotta see,” Chouji said with a smirk as he shouldered his backpack. “I should let Shika know too.”
“Hey, this isn’t a freakin’ convention!” Naruto growled, although his cheeks darkened with embarrassment. “You don’t have to call the whole school.”
But Chouji wasn’t listening and Sai and Karin were already beginning to lead the way. Naruto sighed and placed his hands behind his head, staring at the heavens and wondering if he could have a quick smoke without the teachers catching him. Soon enough, the familiar chants and cries from the karate students filled his ears as they made the turn and approached the long low bungalow that housed the school’s quite accomplished Martial Arts Club. Over the years, Konoha High’s students have been tops in tournaments all over the world – the proof lay in the number of trophies and awards that were housed in a single (but quite large) room in the building. It was a tradition that was to be upheld at all costs and team captain Uchiha Sasuke was not about to let his school or his dojo down.
Naruto and Chouji were made to take off their school shoes as they were ushered into the building. The wooden floor felt cool beneath Naruto’s feet, but the action was fast and furious in the different sections before him. There seemed to be beginner and intermediate classes with colored belt students being taught by a few black belt instructors, one of whom was Neji Hyuuga…the scary cousin of Hinata that would have must likely killed Chouji and Naruto if he ever discovered they had half-naked pictures of his relative. The other instructor was Rock Lee, an eccentric kid in Naruto’s class that liked to yell as loud as he could when it came to normal conversation. Naruto figured he was prime for being an instructor like this – how else could he exercise those powerful lungs of his?
“In here,” Karin said, holding out an arm to stall Chouji from entering. “Team Taka members only,” she added with a smug smile before sliding the door shut in his face.
What a bitch, Naruto thought with a light shake of his head, only to gawk in undeniable awe and admiration and what was taking place before him.
The room was smaller than the others, but not by much. Important-looking scrolls with spiritual or motivational inscriptions, Naruto was sure, lined the walls along with solemn faces in photographs of previous masters who had risen to great heights as a part of Konoha’s tradition. Juugo, donning two band-aids on his forehead and cheek (which was still swollen by the way), was seated at the other side of the room, along with Master Hatake Kakashi – the head of the Martial Arts division for the school. Their gazes, like Naruto’s, were trained on the battling duo in the middle of the dojo. Kicks and punches were thrown so fast, Naruto had to concentrate long enough to know that the flurry of bodies belonged to Sasuke and Suigetsu.
“Sit,” Karin whispered as she motioned for Naruto to join she and Sai on the floor. “Awesome, isn’t it?” she asked in a slightly breathless voice. “It’s beautiful to watch them fight.”
Naruto wasn’t sure if beautiful was the word to describe it, but it was something….powerful alright. He had never seen Sasuke fight before…had heard rumors about it…but seeing it in person…phew. It seemed like the boy was releasing flashes of lightning from his body. He was just that fast.
“Hai!” came the firm, but low command from Kakashi, causing the boys to fly apart, Suigetsu with two spins in the air and a light thud on his toes…Sasuke a single spin, landing on his toes before settling down with a deep breath. Sweat rolled off their heaving bodies, hair plastered to their forehead and cheeks as their eyes blazed with the thrill from the spar. Naruto could feel his body thrum with barely suppressed excitement. Was this really the Martial Arts Club? All he had imagined was the boring routines he had noticed in the main building, but in here…it seemed as if he was watching something special and unique. This wasn’t just fighting. This was something entirely different- the way the Martial Arts was really supposed to be.
He loved it!
“Karin and Sai, your turn,” Kakashi said, glancing over at the new visitor with a small smile. So, he’s finally here. Just what are you made of, Uzumaki Naruto?
“Yes, sensei,” came the quick replies as the two rose to their feet and took their positions in the middle of the dojo.
Sasuke reached for his towel and a bottle of water at the side of the room, only to freeze as he finally noticed who was sitting there. If his heart had been racing during and after the spar with Suigetsu, Sasuke was sure it was bound to leave his chest and fall to the floor any minute now. Hoping the blush that was flooding his cheeks would be attributed to his exertions; he wiped his face and winced as their gazes finally met. He couldn’t read the expression in Naruto’s eyes, but at least it wasn’t disgust or hate, so that was a good thing.
“So you finally showed up, eh?” Suigetsu whispered as he sat beside Naruto with a smirk. “Welcome to the mad house.”
“Thanks,” Naruto whispered back, hoping that Sasuke wouldn’t sit beside him. He gave an inward sigh of relief as he noticed the dark-haired boy moving towards his sensei and Juugo. Unfortunately, this meant that he would have to keep staring at Sasuke since they were directly opposite each other. Shit.
“Ready…” Kakashi was saying as Karin and Sai fell into their stances. “Begin!”
Naruto couldn’t resist the gasp of amazement that escaped his lips as an explosion seemed to occur right off the bat. Karin and Sai had moved so fast towards each other….their blows so precise and direct, that the sound of flesh against flesh was mind numbing. For all her dykeness and general bitchy attitude, Naruto had to give it to the girl, she was kickass. Like Sasuke and Suigetsu, watching Karin and Sai move around the dojo was a lesson in concentration and focus. Like bullets, they were relentless in their blows, even though it didn’t seem like they were hurting each other, but just enough to know that if they were going at it at full strength…body parts would be damaged pretty badly.
Man, he wanted to be a part of this. He couldn’t believe he had been missing out all this time!
“Hai!” Kakashi said, ending the match after a while. “Take five, class. Uzumaki Naruto…come with me.”
Naruto half-stumbled to his feet, grinning at the panting Karin and Sai. “Great spar, guys.”
“Thanks,” Sai replied with a smile that looked a bit more genuine. “Can’t wait to see what you did to give Juugo that bruise on his cheek.”
“Yeah, it’s been a long time since I’ve seen Juu with an injury,” Karin replied with a light chuckle as she drank thirstily from her water bottle. “Can’t wait to see you in action, Naruto.”
Naruto had the grace to blush as he stepped through a door which led into Kakashi’s office. The man was now sitting behind his desk, which was cluttered with papers and books, a desktop computer and photographs of himself and a rather pretty purple-haired woman.
“Have a seat, Naruto,” Kakashi invited with a warm smile. Naruto did as he was told, really taking a look at the white-haired man who was considered a mystery to many students in the school. He always wore a skin tight black mask that hid his mouth from view and one of the rumors floating around was that he had an infectious disease likely to cause death if exposed for even one second. Naruto didn’t buy that very much.
“So you’ve decided to join us, hmm? Or better yet, Team Taka.”
“I guess,” Naruto replied with a light shrug. No…wait a minute…wasn’t he supposed to use this as leverage for Sasuke? If he signed up now, he couldn’t back away, and there was no way he could give Sasuke his ultimatum. Ah for fuck’s sake!
“You seem conflicted…still thinking about it?” Kakashi asked with a raised brow. “Juugo tells me you’re as good as the rumors say. How else could one of our fastest fighters get hit by you…three times?”
“Maybe he was too slow and wasn’t going at full strength, how should I know?” came the mumble.
“But Juugo says you weren’t using your full strength either…so…would you like to fight me first to see how good you are?”
Naruto’s eyes widened at the challenge and then he frowned, wondering if this was a test. “You want me to…fight you…the master of Martial Arts? Sure. So I can get my ass kicked in front of everyone, eh?”
“You should have more confidence in yourself, Naruto,” Kakashi replied with a good-natured chuckle. “Sasuke praises your skills and swears you can give me a run for my money.”
Naruto’s cheeks flared with color. How the hell did Sasuke know about his fights anyway? And besides, who was he to brag to everyone or anyone about his skills? Although…he did have to admit that it felt sort of …good to know that Sasuke thought so highly of him.
That’s because he wants you in THAT way, his mind screamed as a painful reminder. Of course, he’s going to butter up everyone so you think he thinks you’re that awesome. Sneaky bastard.
“Well?” Kakashi asked as he glanced at the clock on the wall with obvious impatience. “Want to give me a shot?”
“I don’t have a uniform,” Naruto muttered, deciding that if he was going to get his ass kicked, he might as well do it in style.
“Oh, not to worry, I’m sure we can find something in your size,” Kakashi replied as he rose to his feet and opened a cupboard Naruto hadn’t even noticed, behind him. “Here you go…” He tossed the clear plastic bag in which a white gi was encased. “The locker room is two doors on your right when you leave the office. Can’t miss it.”
Naruto nodded and rose to his feet. He took a deep breath and clutched the uniform to his chest. “Be back in a few,” he mumbled and dashed out before he could change his mind. He barely glanced at the curious looks that came his way from the other fighters, especially the pleased look on Sasuke’s features as the dark-haired boy had to thank Juugo again in his mind for what he did to persuade Naruto to join them.
“Man, I wanna fight him next,” Suigetsu said with a whoop as he stretched out his arms. “If he could kick your ass, Juugo, I want a piece of him.”
Juugo chuckled, but Kakashi interrupted with a light smirk. “I’ll be taking him first, unfortunately.”
“What?!” came the unanimous cries from his students. Sasuke rose to his feet, looking aghast. He had hoped he’d be the one to fight Naruto first. “But…sensei…”
“You’ll get your turn eventually, but for now…if he’s to fit into the team, I need to know his skill level.” Kakashi frowned lightly in thought. “There’s so much energy stored up in that kid, it’s threatening to burst if it’s not channeled properly. Hn. I dare say if he went at full strength, none of you would be standing after a single punch.”
“Whoa…” Karin whispered in awe. Maybe she ought to set her sights on Naruto now. He was cute…in a wild sort of way.
Sasuke gave a reluctant nod, knowing full well what Kakashi meant. He had witnessed Naruto fight twice, and what he had seen had sent goose bumps of not only fear at the monster he had unleashed on his opponents that night, but a strange and almost perverted thrill of pleasure at how every punch and kick had affected him. He wanted to feel that again – fighting or fucking Naruto, Sasuke had no doubt it would be one hell of an adrenaline rush.
“Here I am,” came the familiar voice that had the fighters staring at the blond who was strolling towards them still adjusting his belt. Sasuke felt lightheaded as he noticed the brief expanse of Naruto’s chest exposed and kicked himself inwardly as he forced himself to look passive and intent on the match at hand. He barely felt Karin press herself against him as they all settled down to watch their teacher and the newcomer.
“Don’t hold back too much,” Kakashi said as they bowed to each other in respect. “I won’t break…and even if I do, I’ll know you’re more than ready for our rivals. Ready, Uzumaki Naruto?”
Naruto smirked and fell into a stance…or rather he mimicked Kakashi’s stance. He had never taken a formal fighting class, so he wasn’t really sure of the protocol. “Ready, sensei.”
What happened next sent Naruto flying into the dojo wall with a sickening thud. He blinked and shook his head, wondering just what the hell had taken place. “What the…?”
Kakashi seemed to still be in the same position, although his hands were joined at the wrist, his fingers curved as if forming a bowl with his hands. What kind of a blow was that?
“I’m sorry,” Kakashi said, although he sounded anything but. “Was that too fast for you?”
“Fuck…” Naruto muttered and stood up slowly. He took a step and then blinked hard again as his vision seemed to double. His stomach tightened and a pain he could not explain exploded deep within him. “Urgh!” He fell to his knees, panting harshly. What ….what was happening to him?!
“Come now, Naruto,” Kakashi cajoled with a slight edge in his voice. “That can’t be all you have to offer. I know you’re much stronger than that. Come at me with all you’ve got or else…”
“Shut up, you sonofabitch,” Naruto growled as he stumbled to his feet. He dashed towards Kakashi with an angry howl, only to find himself flung against the wall again. His vision went dark for a moment, and he could barely hear Karin’s cry of ‘you went too hard on him, sensei!” in the background.
Great. Talk about getting an ass-whooping so quickly, Naruto thought with a groan as he took several deep breaths to gather himself. He lifted his lashes slowly, and for some reason, found himself searching for and finding Sasuke’s eyes. What was he looking for? Some kind of encouragement to go on? Wasn’t it Sasuke who had gushed to his sensei that he was ‘such-an-awesome-fighter’? What was he doing lying on the floor like a scared chicken afraid to stand up to finish this? He wanted to prove not just to Kakashi that he was good, or to the other fighters that he could be a part of them, but especially to Sasuke – he wanted the dark-haired boy’s claims about his skills to be validated. Hell, he wanted to be acknowledged.
“Well? Is this it?” Kakashi asked with an exaggerated show of disappointment. “And here I thought…urgh!” He barely dodged the blow intended for his jaw, but grunted in pain as Naruto had quickly followed that with a knee kick to the older man’s stomach. Naruto wasn’t done yet for he seemed to do a headstand and with his feet, gave a series of kicks to Kakashi’s torso that sent the teacher skidding across the floor and into a heap against the opposite side of the room.
“Huh.” Naruto huffed and spun to his feet, crouching and watching with a smirk of satisfaction on his features. “Don’t count me down and out yet, sensei.”
“Whoo! Way to go, Naruto!” Karin applauded in delight. “You were…watch out!”
But Naruto had seen it coming as his gaze had been trained on the immobile figure all this time. Faster than ever, Kakashi had risen to his feet, and seemed to fly towards Naruto, who leapt into the air to dodge the attack. He wasn’t fast enough though as Kakashi delivered another blow to the side of Naruto’s head. Naruto grabbed a hold of the man’s arm and twisted it sharply, ending with a solid kick to Kakashi’s ribs. All this was done in the space of a few seconds as they both landed to the floor with light grunts.
“Not bad,” Kakashi approved with a smirk. “You just might make me bleed yet.”
“Hah.” Naruto spat with a matching smirk, eyes sparkling with unbridled delight. “Here I come, sensei!”
As they fought again, the rest of the team watched in awe, none more so than Sasuke whose features still looked impassive, but within, he bubbled with pleasure at the sight before him.
Naruto, Naruto, Naruto…you have no idea how beautiful you are, do you? God, I can’t wait to get my hands on you – to show you just how much pleasure you bring to me.
“Yeah!” Suigetsu screamed and waved his hands as Naruto now stood panting over the prone figure of Kakashi. “Finish him, Naruto!”
“Yeah! Finish him!” Karin repeated. Yep! It was official. She was now gunning for Naruto. She was sure he didn’t have a girlfriend, so who knows? She just might have a chance with the blond hottie.
Naruto looked sheepish and scratched the bridge of his nose as he listened to the approval from the others. He couldn’t remember the last time he had the peanut gallery applaud his efforts after a fight. This was new…and he liked it actually.
Kakashi sat up, albeit gingerly (Juugo hadn’t been kidding when he said Naruto’s blows were painful as hell) and smiled warmly. “Looks like they approve, Naruto. So…what do you say? Will you join Team Taka? Your skills are still rough, but we can help polish them and make you a much better fighter.”
Naruto looked into the weird colored eyes of the older man (one seemed gray, the other a light chestnut) and then glanced towards Sai, Juugo, Karin and Sasuke whose gaze seemed to dare and yet burn right through his soul. He wanted to…but yet…
“Just one thing, sensei,” Naruto finally said. “I’ll join on one condition.”
“Oh? What’s that?”
Naruto folded his arms across his chest and nodded towards Sasuke, who now looked flummoxed as all eyes now seemed to be trained on him.
“I’ll join as soon as Sasuke takes back his ultimatum.”
“Ultima…what?” Karin asked in bemusement. “What’s that all about?”
Sasuke felt his ears burn with humiliation and he glared at Naruto’s smirking visage. Jesus! So this was the whole reason for…
“Fine,” he grated through clenched teeth. “I take it back. Happy now?”
“Tremendously,” Naruto replied with a wide grin. “And with witnesses, you can’t back out now, Sasuke. Haha!”
Kakashi shook his head. “I don’t know what that’s all about, but as long as you’re now a member of the team…you can begin by scrubbing the floors with Sai. Welcome to team Taka, Naruto.” He patted the teen’s shoulder, trying to stifle a chuckle at Naruto’s incredulous expression at the thought of scrubbing the floors on his first day.
“Nice to have you on the team,” Suigetsu said as he held out his hand for a handshake, only to toss Naruto over his shoulder and to the floor. “Haha! Got you!”
“Why you…!” Naruto pounced on the laughing boy, while Karin watched their antics with a giggle.
“We feel much more complete now, don’t we, Sasuke? ….Sasuke?” She spun around as she received no reply, only to notice that the other boy was no longer with them. She dashed out of the dojo just in time to see Sasuke angrily kicking at the wall with a loud curse that seemed torn from the depths of him.
“What’s his problem?” Sai asked quietly as he stood beside his teammate.
“I don’t know…” came the quiet reply. “But methinks it has something to do with that ultimatum thingy. Whatever it was…it must have meant a lot to Sasuke.”