“The new kid is cute,” Ino says as she takes the seat across from you. Her tray of food is filled with chips, cookies, a bowl of sweet corn, and a carton of milk.
“Oh, really?” you say uninterestedly. You don’t want to tell her about how you were staring at him in the hall (or about how you got caught). You think back to the shine on his tongue, the silver circle against pink; you don’t want to tell her about that, either.
“Yup,” she continues. “I’ve got English with him. Super cute. He’s really funny, too, though he doesn’t talk a lot. I mean, he talks to say something funny, and everyone laughs, even the teacher smiles! He tells him to be quiet afterwards, but whatever, he still thinks the new student''s funny. But, other than that, he doesn't really say much."
In the middle of her spiel, Sakura had taken a seat next to you; her tray of apples, corn, milk, and ham sandwich doesn’t look as fun as Ino’s, but seems less likely to cause a state of bloatedness and mad diarrhea.
“So, anyways, yeah, he’s really cute,” Ino finishes.
You and Sakura both glance at each other.
“Wow,” Sakura grins, starting on her apple first. “Sounds like you’ve got quite the crush, Ino.”
“What?” the blonde scoffs, but you see her sideways embarrassed glare. “Ugh, whatever. Can’t I just admire the local eye-candy?”
“Sure you can,” Sakura says, and laughs.
“He really is cute,” you say softly.
Ino grins at you. “See? I’m not the only one who thinks so!”
At your school, gym is co-ed. It’s too small to be otherwise, but there are still rules in place to separate the boys from the girls: different lockers (that’s a given), different coaches, and different sides of the gym. You aren’t sure what the big fuss is, considering the gym uniform they give everybody is atrocious and two times too big for anybody.
Everybody lines up in rows for roll call. In the midst of “Present,” and “Here,” and “Yes, Coach,” you hear the boys’ coach call out a name: “Naruto Uzumaki?”
That’s his name, you think, remembering what Ino had said at lunch.
“Naruto Uzumaki?” the coach says again.
Even if Ino hadn’t been blabbing about him for the entire lunch period, you would’ve known that that is his name due to the fact that there aren’t enough people in your school to populate an apartment complex (okay, a bit of an exaggeration, but whatever). Everyone knows everyone; you all grew up together. You aren’t the only one who thinks this, because everyone pauses to look around for an unfamiliar head of hair.
“Playing hooky on his first day, eh?” the coach murmurs, making a mark on his clipboard.
You are surprised at the feeling of disappointment in your stomach.
“Holy shit, that’s amazing!” someone says over your shoulder.
You look up and your eyes widen by a centimeter. If you were anyone else, you would’ve blabbered and dropped your pencil and notebook, maybe even fall onto your butt — but you are you, and you are quiet with people you don’t know, even with people who have the clearest blue eyes you’ve ever seen, with hair as frenzied and yellow as wildflowers.
Naruto Uzumaki is behind you, his hands on the back of the bench. You can smell his cologne; it is light, and it brings images of wood and warmth.
Of all the places, you meet him for the first time at the park. Though it is a small town, what are the odds of that?
You close your sketchbook quickly when you see that his eyes are still on your drawing, suddenly feeling as though he is peering into an intimate part of you.
“No joke,” he says. “That’s crazy good. I can’t draw anything like that even if I had a million lifetimes to practice.”
No one has ever complimented you so thoroughly before, but you don’t often show your drawings to people.
“Thanks,” is all you manage to mumble.
He grins, taking the other end of the bench. There is a good foot and a half between the two of you, not that you are complaining; that’s how you like it. He slings his arm across the back of the bench, his fingers inches from your shoulder. The buzz in the space is something you are very aware of.