Naruto could see Sasuke waiting on the bridge ahead. But for the first time, Naruto’s thoughts weren’t on how lucky Saskue was or how much he had to train before he could ever beat someone like that. He still had that little fluttering in his chest when he thought of Aiko nee-chan.
So caught up that he almost forgot to respond to Sakura when she came bouncing up. Sasuke had been staring at him curiously, not that either ever did acknowledge each other’s presence with a “hi” or a “good morning”, but at least Naruto would give him the usual glare. Today even that was missing. He even had forgotten to try to get Sakura to acknowledge his presence. “Naruto” the voice cut sharply thoughts his thoughts. He looked up. To Sasuke’s surprise even the irritating look wasn’t there. Naruto’s expression was perfectly normal with something he couldn’t explain lighting up his features.
Even Sakura stopped trying to get Sasuke to answer her and stared. “Did something happen?” Naruto opened his mouth to answer, then stopped. What could he tell? Even he was confused. Just having her there had driven out his mind the reason she had come to stay. “Roommate. My new roommate” It sounded odd and very wrong somehow. In the time between having tripped over her suitcase and her “have a nice day” smile this morning, she wasn’t a roommate, she was special Naruto couldn’t help but feel that something about her was so familiar. So safe and reassuring. Yes that was it- she was reassuring, like something positive in his otherwise morbid life.
“Huh? Roommate?” Sakura started, trying to work out Naruto’s expression. She suddenly seemed to notice Naruto’s face for the first time. She couldn’t even remember a time when he’d been serious and normal, like Sasuke. Watching him now she noticed for the first time the deepness of his blue eyes and a glossier sheen to his hair. His face wasn’t wrinkled up with worry about something or someone, the frown lines were not in their usual place, he wasn’t scowling at Sasuke. His stance was relaxed and dreamy, he wasn’t bubbling around, unable to stand still.
Even his clothes seemed to look brushed down, not wrinkled like when he would usually just grab them from the dryer and put them on. She was still staring at him when suddenly Kakashi- sensei arrived. “Yo” He looked quizzically at Naruto , as if waiting for him and Sakura to yell their usual, “Your late” and then “Liar” neither of them did. Sasuke was still stating at Naruto.
“Well” rather surprised and puzzled by the lack of responses from his team, he cleared his throat. “The house paining job that I spoke to you guys yesterday... it’s to go ahead after all shouldn’t take that long, then we can do some more training”. He trailed off again when he realised that only Naruto showed any sign of listening. And his expression itself was unusual. Usually Naruto waited to hear what the mission was, he would complain bitterly then would start yelling why couldn’t they get some decent C or B ranked missions. But today he stood, almost to attention and his expression was serious.
Kakashi thought whether he should go over and shake him then decided to savour this sudden new attitude while it lasted. Everyone was quiet on the way to the client’s house, Sasuke because he lost interest, but he did keep glancing at Naruto, and Sakura because she was still trying to understand Naruto. Kakashi seemed to be enjoying the moment of absolute silence, knowing that it was very rare. But he also was eyeing Naruto warily, as if expecting him to do something even more uncharacteristic.
The three’s wariness grew more when Naruto started to whistle cheerfully when he set about paining his part of the house. He was quite except for the whistling, he didn’t even show any signs of trying to compete with Sasuke. That was when Sakura at least started to have misgivings is this really Naruto, this is scary.
The tall silver-haired Jounin caught sight of her suspicious glare in Naruto’s direction and had to muffle his laughter. It was almost lunchtime when they had finished. Kakashi looked up at the sky where the heat of the middle day sun beated down on Team 7. “Ok, I think we’ll pick up training after lunch, it’s too hot now and you have all been too quite today. See you all in the old training field near the river”. By now extremely puzzled, he glanced once more at the loudest, golden haired student, then his eyes creasing cheerfully, he vanished. Sasuke and Sakura suspicions that something happened to Naruto were confirmed when he smiled at them and said that he would see them later that afternoon, then he actually turned and ran. “What was all that about? Muttered Sasuke as he started walking home, leaving a gaping Sakura standing in the middle of a field.