Naruto Fan Fiction ❯ Crown of a Rubber ❯ Chapter 1

[ T - Teen: Not suitable for readers under 13 ]

Chapter 1
Sounds of feet running made the ground tremble beneath its heavy and inconsistent weight. Shoes squeaked against the floor as it ran from one end of the room to the other end and back again. Arms swung back and forth, trying to gain balance at the shift of weight from one leg to another. The air was tense with soundless determination and renewed strength that differed with every step. Finally, a whistle broke the silence with its loud screech. Every person on the court stopped and a few fell down on their bottoms as others stood around awkwardly, all staring intently at the person holding the whistle. It was their coach.
Their coach, unnerved by the amount of eyes on him, tugged his hat off his head to shake off the sweat lying in it. “Alright, people, we still need to work on your stamina, you all run like snails! Even my grandmother can run better than you, but you all did a good job today. You're done for the day. Practice is over, hit the showers!”
The boys mumbled amongst themselves as they walked to the changing room. It wasn't until they entered the changing room did the atmosphere finally change. A brunet loudly sighed, opening his locker with sheer will. He was tired out of his wits and wanted nothing more than to go home, take a shower and sleep. He turned to his friend on his left, a blond, who was in the middle of taking off his shirt.
“This sucks. Why do we have to practice like this every day? It's only badminton, for fuck's sakes.” The brunet scoffed. “And he says his grandmother can run better than us. Yeah right.”
The blond grinned, pulling his shirt over his head, revealing a lean, tanned body. “Aw, is Kiba jealous of an old grannie?” He slipped on his orange tank top, and slammed the locker shut, shoving his used and sweaty clothes into his orange duffel bag. The brunet wrinkled his nose at him.
“Dude, Naruto, what is your obsession with orange? That's disgusting.” He, too, rammed his clothing into his bag and signaled to his blonde friend that they could leave now. They started for the door and soon after left the building. The chill of the cold gave him goose bumps and he shivered. “Holy shit, it's cold.”
Naruto rolled his eyes. “It's not cold, you're just hot.”
Kiba grinned widely, “Why thank you.”
With a hard punch to his friend's arm, the Naruto snorted. “You know what I mean, dumbass. You shouldn't have walked out in a t-shirt.”
With a scowl, the brunet pointedly stared at the other's shirt. “You're wearing a wife beater!” he accused, not amused.
The blond shrugged his shoulders, and smiled. “I can handle the cold, you can't. I can't help it if you're such a wuss!” With that said, Naruto, the taller of the two, sped up his speed and started jogging down the sidewalk. With an angry look, Kiba jogged after his friend.
“I'm not a wuss!” he yelled. The jog soon turned into a chase for the blond's blood, who laughed obnoxiously as each attempt of a grab failed and he managed to escape to his house, free of scratches and bruise marks. “I'll get you tomorrow!” came the loud holler from outside the blonde's property.
The blond rolled his eyes as he closed the door behind him. “I'm sure you will,” he mumbled mockingly as he took off his shoes. “I'm home!” He dropped his bags by the kitchen floor and rummaged through the small fridge, then frowned at its contents. There were hardly anything that could be considered edible besides the crackers and milk. He checked the expiration date of the milk and sighed. Even the milk was expired.
“Dad!” he shouted, “Did you forget to do the grocery shopping?” When no one replied back at him, he marched up the marble stairs and opened the first door to his right. “Dad?” he looked around the room but only seeing books after books, piles after piles. His lips twisted into a pout and he stomped his feet against the ground. Not only was he tired from practice with that hellish coach, he was starving. There was nothing to eat, and his dad didn't do the damn shopping like he promised he would. With a scowl, he slammed the door shut and did not feel the slightest inch of guilt when he heard the books fall, probably all over the desk and floor.
With a brave look, he grabbed the carton of expired milk and tightly closed his eyes, then downed it in one gulp. A shudder ran down his spine and outwards and he could practically hear his stomach trying to digest the liquid. It gave him another shudder just thinking about it. He grabbed the box of crackers and started munching on it, trying to qualm his hunger. “I'm starving,” he whined out loud, trying to stuff as many of the tiny squared-shaped snack as he could into his mouth. He slammed the empty box down onto the kitchen counter and hung his head. “This isn't working,” he whispered harshly to himself, slightly angry at the irresponsibility of his father before sighing again, letting it go.
He didn't have to wonder where his father went, he already knew. Probably with her again. It made him angry just thinking about it, so he stopped. Instead, he grabbed his backpack to head upstairs to his room, leaving the duffel bag behind. He could always come back down for it later, he decided. Once in his room, he dropped his bag next to the table on the floor. He hated desks; instead he had a kotatsu table. They were more convenient and they were Japanese, more the reason to get one. He was obsessed with anything that was Japanese, and it doesn't just stop at their language. He had a wide collection of mangas lying all over the floor and on his table, not to mention the many shelves he made himself on top of his twin bed in the corner. Anime DVDs lay on his bed and beneath it for all he knew, and posters of female cartoons were all over his walls, some more crooked than others. He really liked the culture, and he didn't mind if everyone knew. What he did mind, however, was people mocking him because of it.
He sat down and pulled the books out of his bag. “What do we have here,” he muttered, flipping through the pages of his agenda and grimaced. “Math homework, just what I need.” He readied his pencil and started writing in his notebook. Ten minutes later, the utensil was dropped and he flopped onto the carpet-covered floor. “I give up, it's too hard.” His fingers tapped against the ground, his mind deep in thought. He sat back up soon after. “Maybe I should get a tutor.” He pondered on the subject, trying to think of someone who would be the most suitable teacher. One who was smart in math and capable of teaching him without confusing him. With that thought in mind, he closed his textbook and put away his books, knowing he'll get an earful tomorrow for not doing his work.
He glanced over at the clock and blinked. “Wow, that's late. I should be heading to bed now.” He crawled into bed, his mind slowly drifting off. He was more tired than he initially thought. A couple of hours later, the thought was no longer there. Instead, it was replaced with a physical soreness that appeared overnight. The blaring sounds of the alarm woke him up and his muscles screamed in pain as he rose to shut it off. With a groan, he looked at the clock then out the window. It was hardly sunrise. Then blinked again as he looked at the clock.
“Isn't there practice this morning?” He bunched his eyebrows together and slowly his brain caught up and his comforters flew off the bed and onto the floor. He jumped past the mess of the floor and into the washroom. Multitasking had always been a great skill of his. With a toothbrush in one hand and a hair comb in the other, he finished in record time and got dressed then rushed out the house, leaving with a shouted salutation.
By the time he arrived, he was barely on time before the coach would rage at him. He was lucky he decided to dress up for practice instead of his usual school clothing. It saved him from being late. Kiba, however, laughed at his misfortune and knew from Naruto's disheveled state that he had obviously woken up late this morning. With a flip of a finger, Naruto told his friend off and walked onto the court, ready to run. He didn't particularly like badminton. In fact, he found it boring and a waste of his time but his friend begged him to join. He didn't even consider it a sport. It was for sissies; for boys who weren't accepted into teams of real sports, like football or basketball. Yet here he was, and he was regretting that he had agreed to join the team. They've been running since day one and did nothing but run. It was getting on his nerves but he wasn't allowed to quit. No, he wasn't going to quit until these try-outs were done and over with. He had to prove that he could make the team and quit the team because he was just that good, and badminton was just that easy.
“Alright, girls,” the coach started, knowing very well that they were anything but girls. “Today, instead of practicing all the runs and having you whine like the sissies we all know you are, we'll be visiting another school. There's a small tournament going on around this time of the year, and I decided it's time to show you what the real world of badminton is like. It'll give you real motivation for sure. Then the real try-outs will begin.”
Kiba raised his hand his hand uncertainly. “Uh, sir, weren't we trying out the past couple of days?”
The coach snorted loudly and tapped a knuckle against the side of his head. “Hell no; that was to make those with no athletic abilities run away with their tail tucked between their legs. The real deal starts today afterschool. For now, get your asses on the bus. Their practice should start soon.”
At the back, a student who was feeling rather confident said in an arrogant voice, “Don't we need to get permission slips signed by our parents?”
With an irritated sigh, the coach glared at the students standing in front of him, most were cowering in fear by the time he spoke again. “Do you need mommy and daddy to hold your hand while you play badminton as well?” The students shook their head, some with wide eyes and others shaking in their boots. “We don't need permission for anything. You're all old enough to walk and talk, I don't need to coddle you like little babies. Now get on the bus. The last thing we need is to be late.” Everyone started shuffling into the bus as the coach counted heads, wanting to be sure of the numbers of students before heading out. He didn't want to come back with a couple of students missing. He shuddered inwardly at the thought of the red faced principle. He didn't want that at all.
The blond took a seat in the back with his friend who gleefully took the spot by the window. With a loud cackle, Kiba turned to face Naruto.
“Dude, this is so awesome!” The brunet exclaimed loudly before looking back through the window and watched the scenery speed by as blobs of colours. “A real competition and we get to watch it for free! This is going to be great, I just know it!”
Naruto rolled his eyes. He forgot what a badminton freak the other was and wished he had come late to school this morning. He had better things to do then stand and watch two people whack their sticks at a flying ball and call it a competition. Heck, even golf was more interesting than badminton, he was sure of it. At least it didn't make him sleepy half-way through!
Suddenly, the blond felt a strong pull from the scuff of his shirt and was jolted closer to the window. His eyebrows shot high up past his hairline and he glared at Kiba. He opened his mouth to yell at him when his friend suddenly screeched into his ear. Naruto could feel his ears ringing and hoped to all that is mighty that he didn't lose his hearing.
“We're here! Look, we're here!” The brunet started laughing loudly and banging the window with his closed fist. The blond could only sigh as he roughly pulled his friend's hand away then smacked the brunet on the head. He didn't understand what was so great about badminton that made the brunet go bat shit over it.
“Yeah, yeah, I see.”
And see he did if the widening of his eyes were any indication. He didn't know there were any middle schools this big. If he did, he would have applied there. Instead, he got to go to a shitty school that, in his opinion, had lousy teachers and moronic kids he was forced to call his classmates. An example of said moron would be the idiot jumping up and down next to him. Again he wanted to know, what was so great about badminton?!
Suddenly he was shoved off his seat and onto the floor. With a grimace, he lifted himself back onto his feet. “Dammit, Kiba, what the hell was that for, you idiot!” He turned to glare face to face with his friend who had disappeared. In fact, he thought as he looked around. Where was everyone else? With a loud curse, he realized he had been daydreaming for too long and had been left behind.
“Thanks for being a great friend, dipshit,” he cursed the brunet under his breath, grabbing his duffel bag and leaving the bus who left the second he stepped off. “Probably to find a parking space,” he said to no one. He looked around but could find no one who went to his school. With a roll of his eyes, he turned to walk into the school. Hopefully someone could lead him to where the competition was taking place. That's where they're more likely to be since it was the reason why they came to this school in the first place.
Or so was his intention until loud whipping sounds reached his ears. His left eyebrow rose in curiosity and with one last glance at the school doors, he marched off into the direction where he last heard the racket.
He turned the corner and his breath was caught in his throat. There was a boy seemingly around his age with dark brown hair and dressed in a pair of shorts and tee. It wasn't the appearance of the other boy that surprised him, however, but what the dark haired boy was doing. With a racket in his right hand, the raven dropped the birdie and lifted it into the air to the other side - directly into the birdie's open container. The raven then pulled out another birdie from him pocket and flicked his wrist, the one wielding the racket, and once again it went into the container. Neither of his lifts had hit the outlines of foot-long, cylinder-shaped plastic.
Naruto blinked in shock. That was the first time he'd ever seen anyone do that. He didn't even think it was possible, but here was the kid who proved him wrong over and over again without the slightest idea that he was being watched. With a decision in mind, Naruto stepped out from his hiding spot and called out to the raven.
“Hey, you, what's your name?!”
No answer. He tried again and still there was no reply. With an irritated snort, Naruto went forward and grabbed the raven by the wrist, effectively stopping the other boy from hitting the small ball of cork and it hit the ground seconds after. After releasing a regretful sigh, the raven turned to look at Naruto.
“What do you want?” Came the low voice and Naruto reflexively grinned.
“Hey, you have an accent!” he said, then winced when the glare became harsher and the raven yanked his arm from the blond's grip.
“If you will excuse me, I have to go.” The raven sneered and Naruto narrowed his eyes.
“Hey buddy, I was only pulling your leg, no need to be such an asshole.”
“I am not your buddy,” the raven emphasized, “nor do I have time to waste with an idiot.”
Ouch, Naruto thought. He knew he himself was an ass at times, but this guy meets the mark! “Chill, I was only being friendly. Geesh, you need to remove that stick shoved up your ass or you'll never have any friends.” At this, he winced. Maybe he was being a little harsh.
The raven then gave him a wide smirk. “Friends? Why would I want friends?” he spat out the last word as though it was a bad after taste. “Only losers who are scared of being alone have friends.”
At this, Naruto knitted his eyebrows together. Well, that wasn't nice, he thought. He didn't have to go as far as to call everyone else losers just because he didn't want friends.
“At any rate, you are in my way. Move.” The raven shoved him aside and bent over to pick up his birdie. Naruto, who felt insulted, raised his foot and booted the hunched over boy on his rear end and sent him sprawling on the ground.
“What the fuck was that for!” Even with his accent, his voice came through strong. Naruto could feel sweat pouring down the back of his neck and he swallowed as furious eyes met his.
“U-uh,” he stuttered, not expecting such a strong reaction. He licked his lips and pocketed his hands. “W-well, you don't have to be such an asshole, y-you know?”
“So you kicked me?” If this was any other time and he wasn't being stared at with such a murderous intent that nearly had him wet his pants, he would have laughed out loud. The Asian boy really had a strong tone, making him sound like he was saying `so you keeked me?'
Naruto scratched the back of his neck, a habit that he exhibited when nervous. “Well, I'm sorry?” except he wasn't apologetic at all. He found it funny and if he wasn't on the receiving end of the glare he'd be smiling right now.
The raven snorted and got to his feet. “Whatever. I don't hang with losers.”
Resisting the strong urge to mock the boy, Naruto pursed his lips. “Why do you keep on calling me a loser? Is it because I have friends?”
“No,” the other boy replied.
With a curious expression Naruto asked, “Then why?”
The other boy looked at him from head to toe then rolled his eyes. “You can't play badminton,” was the short statement.
The blond gaped at the raven headed boy. Was he fucking serious? Naruto threw his hands into the air, exasperated. Was everyone obsessed with badminton or something? What's so great about it? Anyone can play badminton! Anyone can wave a stick around and smack the flying shuttlecock onto the other side of the net. Heck, he could do it in his sleep!
“You're shitting me,” Naruto growled, displeased. “You called me a loser because you think I can't play badminton?!”
The raven shrugged. “I shit you not,” although it sounded more like he was saying `I sheet you not' but at that very moment, Naruto didn't really care. He felt insulted. “And I don't think; I know you can't play badminton.”
That just pissed off the blond even more as he grabbed the other boy by the collar of his shirt and pulled him up to his height. “I bet I can play better than you can,” he snapped, knuckles white from his hard grip.
The other boy was not fazed. Instead, he scowled. “Why don't we test out that theory?”
Never did it cross Naruto's mind that he had never played badminton before, nevertheless held a racket. Instead, his rage took hold of him and he agreed, releasing the raven who stumbled back a bit.
“Deal,” the blond hissed. “Same time and a week from now at this school; they probably won't mind lending me their court to beat your sorry ass.”
The raven boy smirked at him. “We'll see about that. Loser owes the winner a favour.” They shook hands on it, both trying to break the other's appendage.
In the midst of trying to overcome the other, neither had seen the female until she was a couple of feet away from them. “Sasuke, there you are!”
Shocked at the sudden appearance of another person, both released their grip at the same time. Naruto glanced over at her and had to double take. She was definitely something else, he thought, his hands made a move to flatten down his hair down.
If the Asian boy noticed, he didn't say anything. Instead he stepped forward and nodded towards the girl. Naruto couldn't help it, he broke into snickers.
“Sasuke? Your name is Sasuke?!” He cracked up, his voice loud and it vibrated through the area. He stopped when he received a hard elbow to his side and grimaced in pain. “Shit, you stinking-“
“Let's go, we'll be late for the competition.” The raven boy interrupted him then turned to walk away with the girl who gave him a small smile before hurrying after the boy. “Don't chicken out next week!” he called over his shoulder.
Naruto rolled his eyes. “Don't worry, I wouldn't miss out on kicking your ass for anything!” then mentally sniggered to himself when they were out of sight. “Heh, he had a cute accent,” he muttered, then with a shake of his head he turned to walk to the school and towards the place where the competition was taking place.
By the time they got back to school again, Naruto was nervous wreck. He knew he was the one who challenged the other into a match, but he didn't think the raven boy would be that good! Hell, he thought the boy was a beginner like him, although he should have guessed by the way the Asian easily lifted the birdie into the container that he was a pro. Well, according to the fans watching the competition, Sasuke was at least national level. A national-level pro he had challenged.
He banged his head against the soft leather of the chair in front of him in the bus. He could still remember the match he saw Sasuke play against the other unknown player. That could've been him, he thought, as he remembered how badly the unknown player had lost. It made him shudder to remember the power the raven boy had displayed. He probably wouldn't even last a second on court.
“Shit,” he softly mumbled. That was a mistake on his part. He was too hot-headed and he knew it. He had undermined badminton and now karma came back to bite him on the ass. Talk about bad luck. However, he was not one to give up.
By the time the school day had ended, the blond was in the teacher's room begging the coach for some aid with his situation.
“Not a chance, kiddo, this is your problem.” The coach shook his head at Naruto, hardly a glance in his direction. “You should've thought about the consequences before you issued the challenge.”
Naruto bit his lower lip, trying to reign in his anger. “I know that, but it already happened and I need help! You're the coach, aren't you? Can't you help me?”
The coach finally looked at him in the eye and sighed. “Since we started late this season, we won't be able to attend any matches anyway. I guess I might as well invest some of my time into helping you-”
But!” the coach stressed, “but you have to do everything I say. No complaints, you hear me, brat?” The coach crossed his arms and stared at the blond until he broke out into sweat. He curtly nodded his head and the coach sighed. “Alright, get changed. I'll see you out in the court in five.”
“Oka- wait, what? Now?”
The coach glared at him and he found himself lowering his head submissively. “When else, you buffoon! Your match starts a week from today, of course now and the rest of the mornings and evenings of the week until your competition!”
Naruto cried inwardly as he could feel his free time slipping away from his fingers. “Yes, sir.”
He stood there as the coach continued on staring at him until he barked out “What are you waiting for? Get going!”
With a loud squeak he made his way to the changing room and changed into a pair of shorts and t-shirt, then shuffled his way out onto the court. Was it always this big? He thought to himself. Damn, he wished he could revoke that challenge now, but it was too late and the coach had just stepped in to the room.
I really, really regret this, was his last thought before he immersed himself into the training the coach had set up for him. By the time practice was over it was past ten o'clock and he was too sore to even want to move another inch.
“My sore, aching muscles,” he whined, stepping out of the school building and walked on home, not bothering to change out of his sweaty clothes. He wanted nothing more than to slip into bed and sleep for another eternity. That was how the rest of his week went. He would wake up early, go to practice then to his classes then back to practice. By the time he would arrive home, he would snack on some left-over dinner that his father had thankfully left out for him before rushing off to see her again, and then attempt to do his homework before giving up and head to bed. There was no time for a social life, not that he really cared. For the very first time in his life, he was going for a goal and that made it more enjoyable than anything. That and the fact that he was starting to really like badminton.
When the match finally came, he was practically on his toes. Excited yet nervous at the same time with a mix of anxiety, he made his way to the other school. Despite what he had said on the day he challenged Sasuke, he didn't want it to be broadcasted and have a big crowd watching them as they played. It was already nerve-racking as is.
“And here I thought you would have chickened out by now,” the accent hit him strong as he stepped on court and he scowled.
“Shut up, accent boy. I'm going to kick your ass!”
To his relief, they were the only ones there. That made it easier for him to move around without feeling like he was being watched like a hawk.
He took out his newly bought racket and birdie and stood in the center of the court. With the raven boy watching, he smashed the shuttlecock on the ground and stared at it until it stopped lolling around. He smiled widely, he was serving. Naruto looked up at the other boy who nodded at him and got into place. He took his place on court and tried to remember the rules. Singles means long court and skinny sides. He nodded to himself then looked at the other side of the net. He was supposed to get it past the net line, if not it would be a lost point. Very carefully, he placed his right elbow by his hip and lowered the racket until it nearly reached the ground. With his left hand, he held the shuttlecock in front of his racket and released it, then flicked his right wrist. It soared into the sky and reached the far back. However, it wasn't a hard shot to hit nor was it a hard shot to return and soon it was back on his side of the court again. He ran to his right and swung the racket over his head, hitting a clear. Then a lift as the birdie was smashed. Never would he have thought he could have this much playing badminton.
Seeing his chance, he smashed the birdie into the corner and managed to score a point. The very first of many, but it wasn't enough to win him the game.
“Heh, knew you couldn't win,” Sasuke smirked, even as he was panting. Naruto rolled his eyes as he crashed against the floor.
“Yeah, yeah, you bastard, you win,” the blond admitted. “Still, I managed to get a dozen points, ain't that something? It's only been a week since I started too-”
“What?” Came the deadly tone, and Naruto found himself hesitating as a harsh glare froze him in place. “You started a week ago?”
Naruto nodded slowly, not understanding the problem. “Yeah…I mean before I challenged you, I never even held a racket! And look at me now!” Naruto laughed loudly swinging the racket above his head wildly. Sasuke, however, did not share his enthusiasm. Instead, he was deep in thought as he stared at the blond. “Why are you staring at me? It's creeping me out, yo.”
Sasuke slowly gave Naruto a once over again, but this time, he smirked in satisfaction. “Remember the bet, idiot? Losers owe the winners a favour?”
Naruto flinched. He had hoped the raven would have forgotten about it by now, or at least remembered when he left the area.
“Y-yeah, so what?” he said defiantly, jutting out his lower lip.
Sasuke grinned. It was a weird look on him, Naruto decided, but it was adorable in some strange sense.
“I have one for you.” Naruto could feel doomsday coming closer already as he sighed loudly and nodded. “I want you to attend Konoha High.”
Naruto screeched loudly as he jumped onto his feet. “What? Are you out of your mind? Why should I go there?!”
“Because, moron, that's where I'll be going,” Sasuke stated bluntly, staring at Naruto in wonder. “I want you to join the Badminton team with me. We could team up and play doubles.”
Naruto blinked. He wasn't expecting that at all.
Sasuke, seeing the doubt in the blond's eyes, immediately added, “If you enter you'll be able to see the pink haired girl you saw with me a week ago.”
Again, Naruto was confused. What did that girl have to do with anything? He sighed though, a promise was a promise.
“Yeah, yeah,” he said, and then went to put his rackets away before a thought entered his mind. Wasn't there a math portion on the entrance exam for Konoha? Shit, he swore to himself. “Uh Sasuke, not to burst your bubble or anything, but I suck at math.”
Sasuke shrugged, already finished with packing his things together. “That's not my problem. I'll see you later, idiot.”
If looks could kill, Naruto decided, Sasuke would probably burst quicker than a popped balloon. He was going to have to start cracking; math had always been his worst subject.
About a month later, Naruto was rummaging through his mail. It had been three weeks since he had taken the entrance exam for Konoha high and another three was spent staying up late nights studying if not practicing for badminton. Still, he had yet to receive a letter from…his eyes widened dramatically. It's here. The letter was here, he thought. With shaking fingers, he dropped the other envelopes on the kitchen table as he held the letter above his head in delight. Without so much of a thought he brought it down to his face and kissed the envelope. Well, it definitely looks better than it tastes.
Time for the moment of truth, he decided. He licked his lower lip and sliced open the side of the envelope with his nails then pulled out the paper. He closed his eyes tightly as he unwound the thrice folded paper and open his left eye to take a peek.
“WOOT!” He yelled, howling into the air. “I got accepted! Hells yeah! Kiss my ass Sasuke!” He cried, the letter crumpling from his grip. “Dad! Hey Da-” he stopped mid-word. He forgot his dad wasn't home - hadn't been home since last night. The excited look melted away and was replaced with an expression of disappointment. What was he so excited about anyway? He thought to himself, it's not like anyone cares. His dad already had someone else he cared for; he probably couldn't wait to get rid of the blond.
Naruto shook his head of the depressing thoughts. There was someone who cared, someone who wanted to see him get into Konoha. With that thought in mind, he started prepping himself. Summer break started today and he definitely did not want to waste it by moping. No, there were a lot of things he had to do this summer, badminton being one of them. If he wanted to beat the raven haired boy, he was going to have to get in shape.