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A Troubled Mind by preoccupied

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DISCLAIMER: In no way do I own, or claim to own, Masashi Kishimoto's Naruto... This particular story idea however, is my own picked from my own head.

WARNINGS: Language, perhaps some OOCness

Chapter notes: A/N:REvamped. I have a fun story here that I really want to share. Please let me know what you think!

WARNINGS: Language, perhaps some OOCness
Fitting In

Chapter One


Feathers fell so slowly it was as if they had stopped in time. Torn bed sheets and pillows lay haphazardly among upturned furniture and debris. Sweat dripped from both boys as they watched eachother. Somewhere in the night, beyond the broken window pane of the raven’s room, an owl cry went unheard. Nothing could break the tension of disbelieving blue eyes regarding an increasingly uncomfortable Uchiha Sasuke.

“Y-you-“ The blond stammered, unable to find the right words, clutching at his torn shirt. His mind was racing, trying to make sense of the confession he just heard. His voice was not as even as he would have liked, “You can’t be serious!”

Sasuke glared, a light blush barely tinting his cheeks, but his own voice letting no emotion show. He looked down briefly at his bare, muscled torso, before giving Naruto a pointed look. ”Do I look like I’m joking?”

Naruto would have laughed at the thought of the dark teen cracking a funny, if he wasn’t still so shaken from the assault moments ago. A long second passed with Naruto simply staring in apprehension. Sasuke remained still, and Naruto wondered if he were holding his breath. Why is he telling me this? How did he think I’d react... He didn’t realize he was subconsciously backing toward the door. Then he had a terrifying realization, Sasuke would not admit this if he weren’t going to do something about it! He’s actually trying to- His mind broke with fear. H-he ... he wants...!

Naruto’s eyes darted toward the exit and Sasuke spoke with urgency. He couldn’t let him escape. Not with his secret uncovered. “Naruto!’

The blonds’ eyes snapped up, his fear apparent in their depth.

“If you try to leave here, I wont hesitate to stop you.” He let his voice fall into a deadly tone. “I will do it.”

“Yeah! Like I don’t know!” Naruto all but screeched. He really wished the hyuggas would come home soon. “I swear, if you even try to touch me I will make you HURT.”

Sasuke smirked, a glaze coming over his eyes. “Just the way I like it.”

~One week earlier~

"Who touched my ass?"

Laughter ensued and was drowned in the onslaught of bad music and a foggy mind. Even his own voice sounded far off to his ears. Wide beams of smoky light cut through the dance floor sending shadows twirling. Reveling in the disbelieving looks he was receiving, Naruto swam through the scene, stumbling over imagined obstacles. Reveling at the reactions because they held no undertone of disgust.

He admits he had never been a heavy drinker, -and only inwardly admitted to having never been intoxicated- and to his favor he was proving to be quite an entertaining drunk .

It was a week ago that Naruto moved to this small town. His guardian had made a bad name for herself in the larger city for borrowing money and gambling it away and, randomly over breakfast one morning, announced her need for a change of scenery. The movers were there within the hour. He didn't complain, however. In fact, Naruto was thrilled. He was still a year and a half away from graduation, so he had plenty of time to make up potentially lost credits from switching schools mid year. As for friends, well... what friends? He was picked on daily, though it was true he made himself an easy target. His teachers no longer paid him any attention despite Naruto's loud claims of having matured and wished to take education more seriously. And where people had once pointed and chuckled over his failures and over used and stale pranks, there was no longer any laughter. Only cold, blank stares of exasperation. Used up comedic relief.

There were no goodbyes to be said and when he and his guardian packed up, no one watched him go.

His main downfall was he craved attention. In any form. The lengths he went to in order to receive it were ... often on the extraordinary side. Sometimes people would get hurt, and most of those times, it was Naruto. Besides, no one liked an out-lived prankster, the ass-man. Take a bow and go home already, it's uncool to fool people into publicly humiliating themselves.

Yet here he was, surrounded by people who encouraged it!

He had decided to take the first few days after enrolling in school to unpack and settle in before starting his classes. He opted not to miss the mid-year school dance, however, wanting to get a preview of the crowd. Also, a good first impression has a better chance flying in a party setting than in the classroom. His guardian had given him constant lectures on the importance of fitting in here. The move was strenuous on their already depleted funds.

It turned out to be a good decision, though, and far more than he had hoped for. Mainly thanks to the conspiracy of a guy who hates sober mingling.

Naruto had entered the school gym late, dressed in a comfortable pair of faded blue jeans and a button down white shirt. As a rule, Naruto doesn't brush his hair, and his livid blond locks sticking up at haphazard angles drew several eyes to him. Particularly those belonging to a guy in need of a favor from someone needing to prove themselves. Naruto, with his hesitant entrance and searching eyes had "new kid" practically written on his forehead. An easy catch. A tall lanky boy, indifference plastered on his face, introduced himself as Shikamaru.

He drawled his greeting, taking a mild interest in the blond's own and admitted that he found school dances too dull to deal with. It was then, conveniently, that he mentioned the alcohol that he had stashed in the bushes outside, cold and alone. It didn't take much to convince Naruto to risk his neck and smuggle it in.

"Why can't you just, well, open the door and go grab it?" Naruto asked after being told the location of said bush.

Shikamaru sighed, cocking his head to the side. He didn't come across as the type for giving long explanations to seemingly obvious situations. "The teachers stand at the doors to make sure none of the students leave."

"The party's in here. Why would we leave?"

"To do exactly what I am asking you to do. A kid leaves, they can't come back in. No little stamp or sticker, just out for the rest of the night."

"How am I supposed to get out, then?" He furrowed his brow, missing something.

"I have a reputation already. You on the other hand, are new and no one has any clue as to your intentions. I'm sure if there is some sort of ... emergency ... you'll be allowed a few minutes of air." Naruto only blinked, and shikamaru sighed again and drawled, "Look, I don't care what you do, just do it already. I'm about to have a seizure from boredom and if I have to spend one more minute talking to you my IQ might drop."

Naruto found it fascinating how this boy could deal out insults with such a calm, even tone. That was his first impression of Shikamaru, and as far as Naruto was concerned this was pretty much a friendship. His first friend. It didn't matter what he had to do to make this fly.

Not only did he actually make a companion, but more followed. His second, and Naruto's favorite, was a loud-mouth named Kiba. When Naruto had returned from his mission with his pants and shirt stuffed with the liqour filled water bottles he'd found in the bushes, the boy nearly stripped his clothes off.

"You are my HERO!" The boy howled, hands fishing in Naruto's shirt. Naruto opted to do the honors when it came to removing the two below his belt, but it was impossible to keep the guy waiting. Kiba was on all fours at his feet reaching up his pant sleeve. At least he had the decency to share, Naruto thought as the boy held up a bottle. "You've earned this, dude. Wiggle your leg a little .. this last one's stuck."

New friend three and four, introducing themselves as Shino and Choji, each gave him a pat on the back. Shino was a tall guy with a straight back and a slight dip to his head, as though compensating for his height. He wore grey dress pants and a nearly knee length black dress shirt with small circular shades. Choji was round and squinty-eyed with light brown hair. He carried himself with a slight bounce in his step as though nothing, including his size, weighed him down.

"That was some funny stuff back there." Choji grinned, balancing his bottle in an armload of snacks. "Missus, miss! I'm gonna faint! You gotta open this door and let me out!!" Everyone laughed as Choji replayed Naruto's tactics.

Naruto shrugged it off, relieved that it was all in good humor. "I was almost convinced that she wouldn't go for it. I can't believe I had to actually fake hyperventilation before she gave me a break."

It was almost too simple, Naruto looked from face to smiling face, and it just kept getting better. An hour passed and he had failed to restrain himself from embarrassing a few of the locals. It had started with 'accidentally' bumping a guy into another, making their lips clash together. Then he had the nerve to wander through a group of girls and scream 'spider!', causing an uproar and a scattering of heals as girls fled. He was a little confused when an eager Shino apeared by his side inquiring of the insect's whereabouts. To his utter amazement, however, no one cursed him, glared or even slapped him. They all just laughed.

It felt good to be himself again.

His new friends started daring him to do outrageous things to unsuspecting dancers. Things in which he was well practiced. Head light and bottle nearly empty, he climbed up the collapsed basketball net and began throwing grapes at the dancers from above. One of the chaperons threatened to throw him out after that, and he decided to cool it down a little.

The school gym swam around in his fishbowl vision as he drained the last drop of alcohol concealed in his water bottle. The faces became one mix of colors all sharing the same rush of a voice. All except one.

Something pink kept bobbing in and out of his vision...

The night wore on and momentarily everyone was laughing at a ninth grade student stumbling about. Naruto had given him his empty water bottle refilled with punch and convinced the kid it was vodka. The boy, running on a placebo drunk and flirting with everything insight, provided quite the entertainment.

"Excuse me. Um ... ex-excuse me, miss?" The boy addressed a girl in an auburn dress.

"Oh, hi." She turned toward the voice with her full lashes batting and met half lidded eyes. "Uh- are you drunk? I don't smell alcohol."

"Hush, let's talk of other things, doll. I've a question for you." He managed to sidle closer to her and give her an adorable suave look he couldn't quite pull off.

"Really? Okay, I guess..."

"Yes, you see-'hic, scuse me. I was just wondering if you give strangers to, I mean -'uhp, blowjobs to strangers."

"What? No!"

His smile widened as he held out his hand. "Well then, we should become better acquainted." In a flash he was lying on the gym floor seeing stars, a large lump forming on his head.

Some people are are just too easy.

Naruto took this moment, as the guys were now laughing their asses off as others were tending to their flattened friend, to mosey on over to the snack counter. He was now happily munching on some sort of pastry.

"Uzamaki!" He spun around to the familiar name, his own, and tried to focus his eyes on the one called Kiba. "That was a brilliant plan Shikamaru had, wasn't it? I'm glad you had the balls to smuggle it in here." Naruto nearly spilled to the floor when Kiba dealt his shoulder a congratulatory blow. Trying to right himself he stepped back to catch his balance and rammed into the snack table, splashing punch over the food.

"Shit, Kiba!"

"Pft! It'll dry." The boy shrugged, pulling Naruto back to a steady standing position. "Hey, care to offer us some more entertainment? The night is still young."

"I don't know... I'm still a little dizzy." He rubbed his head, suddenly very uncomfortable with the fact that the other teen seemed to be holding his alcohol better.

"It'll pass. Come on," He continued enthusiastically. "If we can convince that stuck up ass, Neji, over there to play the funnel game, we can poor punch down his jeans when he's trying to balance the spoon on his nose-"

Kiba continued to chatter as Naruto's eyes crossed the room. His vision once again passing over something ... rather pink. "Hey. Who is that girl?" He cut the other off.

"Hm? Wh-what, why? Who cares? Lets make Neji piss himself!"

Naruto wasn't listening. Eyes lazily focused forward and past Kiba. He begrudgingly followed Naruto's gaze. "Oh, that's Sakura." Noticing the slight gleam in the other's eyes he decided to elaborate, taking on the tone of a reporter discussing wildlife. "She's a high-standards girl living a pampered life with few concerns. Her purse is lined with silver and only silver will keep her down," He gave the blond a nudge in the ribs. "You interested in losing your wallet? It doesn't look like she's with anyone."

"I don't know." and he wasn't lying, looking a bit sheepish,his face and neck still warm. "She's really cute."

"Good enough for me." He winked. Before Naruto could reply Kiba was pushing him across the dance floor, unceremoniously hacking through the crowd.

"Kiba! Jeezus, what do you think you're doing!?" He dug his heals into the ground and managed to come to a stop.

"What's the big deal?" Kiba grunted, pressing his cheek into the blond's back to help with the effort. "Just giving you a little push in the right direction."

"You don't understand!" His eyes wide, Naruto pinned Kiba with a deathly serious look. "If I fall flat on my face, all the girls at school will know by tomorrow and I'll be that retarded new kid that no one wants to talk to, let alone date!"

Kiba seemed to think this over for a moment. "Well..." he said at length. "Naw, this'll be worth it. If not for the entertainment."

"Don't think so! Not tonight. I'm going to stick to what I know." He dodged out of the other's grasp and began to make his way back to the snacks.

"Hold on." The other boy snagged the blond's collar and pulled him back around in an smooth arc. "You're not chickening out, are ya?"

Naruto paused and gave Kiba a long, measuring look, eyes narrowed. "what are you saying?"

"I'm saying ..." Kiba smirked. "That you should go talk to her. I dare you."

"Ha!" Naruto released himself from the other's grip and squared his shoulders. "I never back down from a dare. Just watch. I'll have her swooning over me!"

With that, Naruto disappeared into the crowd. Kiba ran to get the attention of the others and they all stood snickering -save for the tall, quiet Shino- by the far wall and watched. Each with a grin, waiting for him to mess up.

Calm down, Naruto, caaalm down. His heart raced in his chest as he neared the pink haired Sakura. He'd never seen anyone with pink hair at home, save for the prostitutes and some of the girls at the tattoo shops he passed. Sakura didn't look like a punk or a prostitute, not in that soft white dress. The sight just didn't make sense to him. His mind reeled slightly as he considered the possibility that she was a cyborg, or something from 'the Fifth Element'. What am I getting myself into? This was a big mistake, I don't know anything about girls! Shit, shit, shit! I'm almost there and I don't even know what I'm going to say!!

He didn't have to say a word. When he reached the girl, who was standing with two others and giggling about what Naruto assumed to be random girl gibberish, she turned and looked straight at him. Her eyes where the brightest green he had ever encountered. Her soft looking skin framed by the waving curls of her pink hair made her look like a blossom to his fuzzy eyes. And that smile! Naruto watched silently as the other's lips moved, oblivious to the words, and was confused when her features shifted from a warm smile to a look of hesitation.

"... Um, hello?" She raised an eyebrow at him and he snapped out of his unhealthy absorption.

"S-sorry." He stammered, rubbing the back of his neck in awkwardness. "Did you, er .. say something?"

"She was asking if you're okay. What's with the stare?" A blond with a high ponytail cut in first, giving him the same quizzical look as Sakura.

"Uh..." Don't panic. Shit this was a bad idea, I'm going to humiliate myself. His eyes swept the crowd as though searching for something to say. He'd never been in this situation before. He'd never even thought about what he'd do if faced with a pretty girl ... god ... he's never really thought about pretty girls at all! Then his eyes fell over his new friends, all gathered around the snack table. Watching him. Ack! I've got to do this. I can pull it off!

"I'm just ... stunned ..." He began slowly, coming back around to be met full on by deep green eyes. "I knew I had to talk to you when I spotted you from across the room, but I ... I ..." He shook his head, trying to gain some semblance of sentence structure and forced out the first witty thing that came to his mind. "Are you free tonight, or do I have to pay?" He heard the blond one chirp with a single incredulous laugh before he realized the insult in his words.

The girl named Sakura's eyes widened and her lips parted slightly in surprise. The look lasted for only a moment before she brought her hand up to her face in embarrassment, cheeks tinging with a hint of pink. "Oh my god... " She stammered, glancing at her shoes.

Her two friends exchanged glances, the blond with the high ponytail nudged Sakura with her elbow and motioned the brunette with double buns to follow her. "Good luck with this one." She rolled her eyes. "We're going to go get something to eat, Sakura. Catch up with us later, k?"

Now Sakura was full out blushing. Her fingers played at the seems of her white dress as she tried to fight off the heat rising to her face. She seemed utterly lost for words. Naruto couldn't tell if she was embarrassed or red with anger that her friends left her alone with a loser. Probably both.

"My name is Naruto, by the way." He offered sheepishly, trying to open up a dialog despite his failure. "I'm new here." He tried on his best smile.

"Yeah, I was wondering who you were." She looked up, her green eyes still bright but with reproach. "You hit me with a grape..."

His face fell. "Right, um, sorry about that." He scratched the back of his head, growing increasingly uncomfortable. Here it comes, I can feel it. Back off! Why are you even talking to me?

"It's not a big deal. I'd rather you apologize for assuming I'm a whore." She shrugged her lithe shoulders, meeting his eyes. Now, his turn to blush, he became a bubbling fountain of jumbled words, "Oh THAT? No I, you see, it wasn't like. I say dumb thin- I never mea-"

Holding up her hands, a small smile gracing her lips, she spoke over the flustered blond. "Hey, do you want to dance with me?"

Silence. "What?" Shock spilled from Naruto's every feature

This made Sakura dip her head again. "Well, I mean, that is what you came over to talk to me for, isn't it? Not just to embarrass me in front of my friends, I hope." She was playing with her dress again. The fact that she was as nervous as him didn't quite register with the blond.

It took a moment -a long moment- before it clicked. "Right, yes!" He cheered, relaxing visibly. "Ahem, I mean I'd love to."

It wasn't a slow song, but the two danced together all the same. Naruto gingerly slipped his hands about Sakura's waist and lit up as she put hers around his neck.

This was really nice. He couldn't believe his luck! Not only did he make four friends, but he, Naruto Uzumaki, was dancing with a someone; her attention full on him. Throughout the act he couldn't think of a single intelligent thing to say, even though the liquor had completely worn off, relying on only nods and smiles to get Sakura through her end of the nearly one-sided conversation.

The dance ended sooner than he would've hoped, and he was ecstatic when she asked him for another. She talked easily after a while, telling him what life is like in this small town. Her general opinion was that it was dull, but she and her friends often took road trips to the neighboring city for shopping. Being an eleventh year and bright, she had already had her licence for over a year now and was legally able to drive her friends out of town. Not that the rule stopped others anyway, she confided. The school they attended was the only high school for miles, and held grades eight to twelve after which students would move elsewhere to continue their education. and there was always a party to go to on the weekends. This was mainly because there wasn't much else to do, and almost everyone here knew each other since grade school.

He was just about to tell her what it was like to live in a big city when Sakura's attention shifted over his shoulder. With his hands still around the girl's waist he looked back. A younger girl, maybe by two years, with long brown hair was talking on her cell phone.

"What's that?!" She kept her voice loud so the listener could hear her over the terrible popular-teen music that was reverberating in the gym. "You're outside? Alright, I'll be out in a sec!"

Naruto turned back to Sakura to find her eyes wide and excited. "What's going on-" His question fell on deaf ears as the girl whipped out of his hands and left in a blur of pink leaving Naruto with arms poised as though the girl had never left, his face contorted in confusion. Then, against any realm of reason that Naruto could possibly understand, the room filled with a colossal squeal as girls ran past him towards the exit doors.

"What was that all about?" he mumbled to the four when he reached the snack counter.

"Hmph." Shino pulled off his shades and rolled his eyes. "Deathboots."

The other's looked just as sour, but Naruto couldn't suppress a grin. His features wrinkling in a what the hell are you talking about way. "Come again?"

The lanky Shikamaru crossed his arms. "There are some things you'll have to get used to around here." His voice was lazy but held a certain serious tone. "One of those things is that no matter how interested a girl is in you, they are ALL holding out for one guy."

Although his after-buzz was completely gone, Naruto continued to grin childishly as he snickered the word. "Deathboots?"

Shikamaru nodded and returned the grin. "Go see for yourself."

Out in the parking lot, just beyond the designated exit doors from the hallway leading to the school gym, an old black mustang idled. Leaning against the hood, dressed in black jeans and a Metallica tee-shirt, was a peeved looking seventeen year old boy. His jet black hair dangled in his eyes and stood straight out in the back. His boots, as implied, were black, thick, and of the ass-kicking variety. Two short spikes jutted from the toe of each boot and Naruto could just see the start of a thick metal buckle at the hem of the boy's jeens.

Naruto had to squeeze past thirty or more girls just to see out the windows. They were crowding the door and calling out to the boy. One of the chaperons, keeping a close eye to make sure anyone who left didn't come back in, stood by the wall looking pained. Naruto felt for him, this was pretty painful.

"Sasuke! Babe, why aren't you coming in?" Came a high pitched voice right in his ear.

"Come dance with me." another chirped.

"Sasukeee!! I'm so glad you came." followed shortly, among the thousands of other words he couldn't pick out and tried to ward his ears from.

The noise levels caused Naruto to wince. How can one guy be so popular?

A small girl with long, flowing, straight brown hair shoved angrily through the crowd, her face scrunched in annoyance. Naruto recognized her as the girl Sakura had looked at right before taking off. Opening the front doors and rolling her pale eyes at the screaming horde, she trudged out to the waiting boy.

"You just have to pose in front of your car like that, don't you?" Bitterness seeped out of her even voice as she approached the car. "Are you begging to be gang raped?" She mocked him with her steady gaze. So pale, those eyes.

The boy shrugged. "Just tempting the beasts. They wont leave their little party, though, so I feel safe at this distance."

The smaller girl just stared. "Can we just go home already? You're late as it is and mom's going to pitch a fit. If father has already left the dojo I will practice on you!"

As the girl opened the passanger door Pantera's 'Walk' came flooding out. She groaned again and begrudgingly got in. The black haired boy smirked before gracefully sliding into the driver's seat. When the old black mustang pulled away the girls all deflated, staring after it. As they filed back to the gym they poked and chided each other for acting like a damn lovesick puppies. In a few moments they were gone and Naruto was left to stare after them, bewildered.

Naruto blinked, wondering how much of that was a nightmare. From the corner of his eye, he noticed Sakura reappeared at his elbow.

She smiled sweetly up at him. Any hint that she had just ran out on him to ogle another guy abandoned. "Hey there handsome," she chirped, as though the encounter with deathboots left her overly energetic. "So... where were we?"



end chapter.
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