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Thursday, June 26, 2008

Almost Perfect

Almost Perfect
Author: Arcynic

Rain splattering against the windowpanes. That was the first sound Uzumaki Naruto heard as he awoke from a dreamless sleep. Groggily rubbing his eyes, the blonde youth let out a long yawn before lazily getting out of bed. An icy coldness shot throughout his entire body as his bare feet hit the tiles lining the floor. Repressing a shiver, for a real shinobi should never show any sign of weakness, Naruto made his way to the bathroom, still half asleep.

Groping blindly for his toothbrush and toothpaste, for his normally bright blue eyes were still closed, Naruto brushed his teeth to the rhythm of the falling rain. Opening one eye groggily, Naruto happened to glance at the corner of the mirror in front of him, where he saw the reflection of a small circular clock... reading 8: 30...

The time having effectively woken Naruto up, he promptly spit out the toothpasty foam from his mouth, rinsed, changed, and ran out the door as fast as humanly possible... or perhaps a bit faster...

Now if we were to look at this objectively, Naruto, as well as the rest of team 7, should realize that their teacher, Hatake Kakashi, is not the slightest bit punctual in their meetings, and therefore, one could take a leisurely stroll to the bridge of Konoha, perhaps taking along an umbrella if it were raining outside, as it was today.

If we were to look at this subjectively, however, we then realize that when in panic, Naruto goes by instinct, and not by thought... of course... the times that Naruto ever goes by thought are few and far between. In any case, Naruto ran all the way to the meeting place of team 7, the Konoha Bridge, in the freezing rain which began to fall harder and harder by the minute. Out of breath and somewhat tired, Naruto walked onto the bridge to face... no one. He was confused for a brief moment until he recalled a conversation among team 7 yesterday.


"All right team, tomorrow there will be no missions, understood?" The gray haired jounin told his younger genin students.

"Why not Kakashi sensei?" Haruno Sakura asked green eyes alight with mild curiosity. Naruto was far more expressive however...

"WHAAAAAT?? HOW COME??" To the young blonde's outburst, all Kakashi could do was shrug noncommittally.

"Just don't forget, all right Naruto?" Kakashi asked him, his one visible eye crinkling merrily. Naruto in turn frowned sulkily as he crossed his arms over his chest, "Yeah yeah, like I'd forget."

End Flashback

"Guess I forgot." Naruto mumbled to himself, now thoroughly soaked by the rain. Shoulders slumped from the disappointment of no new and exciting missions for the day, the young genin walked slowly back into town.

'Maybe I can con a bowl of ramen out of Iruka sensei then...' Naruto thought to himself, drool already mixing with the endless water pouring onto him from the skies. Now renewed with vigor from the thought of a steamy bowl of miso ramen, Naruto began to run to the residence of his former teacher. It was halfway there that Naruto recalled another fleeting memory from a few days ago.


"Ehm... Naruto?" Umino Iruka asked the younger boy next to him.

"Humgh?" Naruto looked up at the older chuunin; mouth stuffed with slippery ramen noodles.

"I'm going to be gone for a few days, okay? So you behave yourself."

Naruto gulped down the rest of the noodles and looked at his ex teacher in mild annoyance. "I'm not a little kid anymore, sensei." He grumbled in a way that didn't prove his point.

Iruka smiled sheepishly, "I guess not." but he patted Naruto on the head affectionately nonetheless, as a father might do to his child.


Slowing his run to a slow paced walk Naruto gave a slightly remorseful chuckle. "I guess today is all about forgetting things." Changing direction with a new resolve, Naruto smiled his trademark fox like grin.

Who said he couldn't eat ramen all alone? It wouldn't hurt to pay for himself once in a while... With those thoughts in his mind, Naruto once again power ran to his favorite place ramen place, the Ichiraku.

He arrived there quite quickly, fueled by the thought of mouth watering ramen, steaming hot to get rid of the chilling cold that came from being out in the rain so long. However, upon trying to open the door, Naruto found that he couldn't. Perplexity and irritation spread through him like wildfire as he spotted a white piece of paper attached to the door, though nearly as soaked as Naruto himself, the paper was still legible.

"October 10th-- The Ichiraku will be closed for renovations until the 15th. Signed, Satoshi Ichiraku."

Naruto smiled tightly as he finished reading the paper aloud. 'Of course... there had to be something else I had forgotten right...? Like my own birthday?' He laughed hollowly as he slowly made his trek back home.

'I should have guessed it... after all... Kami sama doesn't see me fit enough to have a loving family, so why should I expect even a nice happy birthday for once in my life?'

Feeling warm water running down his face and knowing instantly that it wasn't from the rain, Naruto angrily wiped at his face as he suddenly began to run home... After all, a real shinobi should never show any sign of weakness...

Naruto arrived home soaked to the bone from the ice cold rain, with his blonde hair matted to his face, and usually cheerful azure eyes replaced by somber and red rimmed ones. Not even bothering to change into a clean and dry pair of clothes, he walked straight into his bed, knees curled slightly. He didn't even seem to notice that his whole bed was becoming waterlogged, and even if he did, he didn't move an inch. It was then and only then that Naruto let his suppressed tears flow freely as the rain fell steadily down upon his roof.


Knocking, knocking and the ever present sound of rain were what Naruto woke up to for the second time today. He buried his head into his pillow and pulled the still damp covers over his head, shivering.

"Naruto! Naruto?"

He blinked. 'Sakura chan?' Naruto rose slightly from his bed, turning in the direction of the door. Upon catching his reflection in a mirror however, he grimaced at the bloodshot and slightly puffy eyes. 'I don't want Sakura chan to have to see me like this.' And with that thought, Naruto curled back into his bed, hoping against hope that she would think he wasn't home.

"Narutooo!" Sakura's voice was slightly muffled through the door, although it didn't hide the note of worry in her voice. Despite that fact, however, Naruto continued to ignore her, though not without feeling a twinge of guilt. There was a shuffling outside the door and then a deeper voice mumbled something incoherent.

'Sasuke's out there too? Then there's no way I'm gonna let him see me either.' Naruto stated firmly to himself, after all, his pride was on the line.

He heard Sakura's voice mumble something back to Sasuke, and then hesitantly, Sakura called through the door once again. "Naruto... we have food."

His ears perked.


His stomach grumbled, Naruto hadn't eaten all day.

"Miso ramen."

With this statement, Naruto's stomach finally rebelled against his mind and he found himself hungrily walking towards the door.

'Traitor' His brain grumbled to his stomach, which could only growl back in meek protest. Naruto opened the door tentatively.

"HAPPY BI..." Sakura's happy greeting died in her throat as her green eyes widened. Never in the entire time she had known Naruto had he ever looked in such a state of despair. Sasuke too was surprised, though he hid it much better than Sakura did with his emotionless onyx eyes. Naruto on the other hand, had his eyes fixed on the bags they both held in their hands, for once not having the courage to meet their eyes.

A slim hand was placed on his shoulder and Naruto curiously looked up toward Sakura. "Why don't you go and take a shower? We'll fix everything up, isn't that right Sasuke kun?" She asked, placing a small smile upon her face. He could only nod after seeing Sasuke do the same.

Turning the nozzle in his shower, Naruto was suddenly met with a blast of steamy water. He stood there for a moment, relishing in the warmth that the water provided him with.


"Sasuke kun..." The pink haired kunoichi trailed off as she began to chop up various vegetables while also preparing the noodles. Feeling Sasuke's dark eyes on her back, she continued knowing she had his attention, "Have you ever seen Naruto look so..." She frowned not knowing exactly how to word it.

Fortunately, Sasuke seemed to understand what she meant, for he stopped cutting his own vegetables and replied, "Aa... I've never seen it either, or even thought it was possible." That answer didn't seem to help Sakura any, thought she doubted any answer would have. They both paused as they heard the shower stop abruptly. Sakura sent one last worried look at Sasuke before they both resumed their chopping.


Naruto idly wondered what he was going to do about his clothes. They were still damp and it would not do him well to wear them after just having gotten warm again. He contemplated asking one of his 2 team members to get some clothes for him and opened the door cautiously. What he found was a clean pair of his usual orange jumpsuit folded neatly under a black fishnet shirt.

He smiled.


Upon entering the kitchen, Naruto was met with the lovely aroma of miso ramen. Sakura was busy ladling the soup into 3 bowls while Sasuke brought over glasses filled with water onto the table. Sasuke noticed Naruto's presence first, and poked Sakura softly on the back to notify her. She blinked, then smiled.

"Oi, Naruto! Perfect timing! Let's eat, ne?"

"Itadakimasu!" They all said together before they dug into their ramen. Naruto's eyes widened the moment he swallowed a mouthful of the ramen.

"Sakura chan! This tastes just like the Ichiraku ramen... no... Better!" Naruto exclaimed.

The pink haired kunoichi blushed slightly and held out a victory sign, "I took lessons from Satoshi Ichiraku himself after all." As Naruto busied himself with his ramen, Sakura sighed under her breath. Naruto was... well... Naruto again, and Sakura couldn't be happier.

'Sasuke is happier too I'll bet.' Sakura smiled to herself as she also began to dig into her ramen, after all, her diet could allow this small splurge today.


"It's time for presents!" Sakura exclaimed happily as the trio put their empty dishes and glasses into the sink. Naruto blinked. "Presents?"

"Of course! Today is your birthday after all!" Sakura exclaimed excitedly as she held out a pastel pink wrapped present towards Naruto. He took it wordlessly, for he had no words to say. He couldn't believe that Sakura and Sasuke had remembered his birthday, hell, he was surprised they knew it at all!

"Sakura chan... ari-"

There was a sudden rustling of leaves as a familiar gray haired jounin appeared in front of the three, cutting off Naruto's thank you.

"Kakashi sensei?!" Naruto exclaimed in surprise.


"You're late!" Sakura yelled at their jounin instructor, who merely sweatdropped.

"Oi Naruto! Happy Birthday!" He said to Naruto, flinging a neatly wrapped present in his direction.

"Now Sakura chan, where's the food?" Kakashi asked eagerly, smiling through his mask.

"There's none left."

"What? How could you be so cruel Sakura chan?"

"You were late." She deadpanned monotonously.

Naruto chuckled as he watched the exchange, his spirits having been greatly lifted over the past hour or so. He heard a snort next to him and Naruto took a sideways glance towards Sasuke who was smiling for a change.

"Kami sama must really like us." Sasuke's voice was soft but Naruto heard it clearly.

'It's true... even though... even though Sasuke and I grew up without a family... in some strange way... these are not just my comrades or friends... team 7... is my family. Sakura always looks out for me like a mother or a sister... Kakashi sensei is like an older cousin of sorts... and Sasuke... We fight and argue a lot, and we're constant rivals... but... we're also like brothers... Team 7... really is the best gift ever given to me...'

Returning the smile, Naruto nodded, "Aa... he must like us a whole lot."


"Hm...?" Without looking at him, Sasuke tossed a somewhat strangely wrapped present at Naruto.

"Happy birthday..."

Naruto's azure eyes widened in shock, but slowly softened as his mouth quirked upwards into a half smile. All of team 7 was here to celebrate his birthday, he had just eaten the best miso ramen in the world, and even Sasuke was being nice to him... Naruto's birthday had just gone from horrible to... perfect...



Well... almost perfect.

And outside, the sun shined brilliantly against a field of blue... perhaps one last gift from Kami sama...


Bunni: Well... I overdid it again... This was supposed to be a short oneshot... maybe 5 pages at max... but well... here we are at 10 pages...! I suppose it's all right, considering that this is my first Naruto fanfic. Why a birthday fic for Naruto though? Because today is Uzumaki Naruto's birthday of course! HAPPY BIRTHDAY NARUTO!

Well, I hope you enjoyed it and I'd also like to know your opinions on how I did for my first try. I'm sorry for the ooc-ness as well as the name of the Ramen place which completely eluded me so I'm not sure if it's right... I try to stay away from ooc-ness but I haven't watched or read Naruto for a while... and plus... I like my version of Sakura better than how she really is...

Reviews would be greatly appreciated and cherished!

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