[8] Meeting Raven-Hair

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I twirled the rock in my fingertips as I walked along the dirt pathway. Maybe it wasn't such a good idea to bring it out here in the open, where everyone can see it. It's too easily spotted, and its constant blinking doesn't help; but with it around my neck, it's close enough to me that no one can just snatch it up. Besides, if it's a necklace, then I won't have to carry that bag around with me everywhere when it's unnecessary. Too many people marveled it already in such a short period of time, from when I first walked out the door with it to when I walked out here; I have to be careful.

I came across a lake on a hillside, where there was a small dock on the edge of the water. There sat a boy, who had one knee tucked up into his body and the other leg hanging freely over the surface of the lake, yet not touching it. He looked over the water solemnly, as if reminiscing about something sad. I stopped at the top of the hill, noticing that it was the raven-haired boy that kept staring at me at the academy earlier. I hadn't learned his name, although I was really curious about him.

Slowly descending the grass hill, I stepped onto the dock, the boy never looking back until I started speaking. "Hi."

He turned his head, his eyes slitting at the very sight of me, and he made a "hn" noise, as if allowing me to sit. I moved to the edge of the dock and sat down, my toes barely touching the surface of the water. I looked straight ahead, but I could feel the boy's eyes on the back of my head.

I suddenly turned to him, causing his face to twist up in embarrassment. "You were at the academy today, right?" I asked.

He composed himself and dropped his voice. "Yeah," he snapped.

"Right. I saw you staring at me."

He glanced over quickly, but then swiveled his head over in the other direction. "Why would you assume that I'd ever acknowledge a stranger like you?"

I frowned. "I don't know. You tell me."

He seemed surprised at first, but tried not to show it. "I never meant to acknowledge you. Leave me alone."

I "hmm"ed for a second. "What's your name? I'm--"

"Tomiko, I know," the boy said lazily. He hesitated. "It's Sasuke. Sasuke Uchiha."

"Sasuke? Nice to meet you," I said, holding out my hand. "It's kinda creepy having some weirdo I don't know staring at me. It's a relief to know that you're not some stalker."

Sasuke stared at my hand with disgust, not making a move to shake it. "I'm not so sure that you aren't a stalker."

"Fair enough," I said with an airy laugh, dropping my arm. Sasuke stared at me with confusion, and he just smirked; it was quickly wiped off his face. This kid couldn't have any emotions, could he?

"You should be training," he affirmed.

I shrugged. "I can find time. I have a handy jounin living next door when I need him, anyway."

"A jounin?" he inquired. I nodded.

"Yeah, but he's a lazy ass who probably won't help me, anyway."

It was silent for a moment. "...I could..." he muttered, picking his words carefully, "...help you train, if you want me to."

My head snapped up. "Really? Why would you do that?"

He grumbled. "Why do you have to know everything?" he muttered, pronouncing every syllable with precise scariness. "I just feel like it, okay? But I'm only teaching you the substitution and cloning jutsu. Nothing. Else."

I lifted my hands in surrender. "Fine, fine, jeez. If that's what you want, I guess I'll let you be my teacher." I clapped my hands together and bowed my head, jokingly saying, "Thank you for guiding me out of my path of failure and ignorance, Uchiha-sensei."

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