Chapter 7: I, Your Father, am an Expert Negotiator
While he didnt expect much from his classmates, Wu would be lying if he said he wasnt disappointed by their performance. Most of them used the same inefficient fighting style, but even that flew out the window after the first blow connected.
Of his twenty-six classmates, the only people Wu attributed as having any value as a Shinobi were Akimichi Choji, Inuzuka Kiba, and Aburama Shino. Choji was a bit lazy, but he wasnt afraid to quite literally throw around his weight, using his entire body as a weapon. Kibas style was coarse, but he made up for it with sheer ferocity. Shinos style was passive, but his ability to remain calm and intercept strikes left his opponent feeling helpless.
What disappointed Wu the most were the heirs of the Yamanaka, Hyuga, and Nara Clans. The heiress from the Yamanaka household, Ino, was the same girl that had been screaming the loudest in support of Sasuke. Her accuracy with thin wooden needles known as Senbon was commendable, but they had no stopping power. The moment her opponent was able to close the distance, she slipped away and immediately gave up, remarking about how she would have won if the Senbon were authentic and that she didnt want to dirty her new dress.
Giving Wu an even worse impression than Ino, the heiress of the Hyuga Clan, one of the most powerful and prestigious Clans in Konoha, lasted a grand total of five seconds before crouching down and covering her head, tears building in the corners of her eyes. However, as pathetic as Hinatas display was, she may as well have been the Hokage compared to the heir from the Nara Clan, Shikamaru.
The moment Shikamaru and his opponent formed their respective seals, the apathetic-looking Nara stepped out of the circle, eliminating himself from the spar while groaning about how troublesome it was. If he werent doing everything he could to integrate into his position as a member of the Sarutobi Clan, Wu would have stepped forward to give the pineapple-haired brat a few smacks with his bo staff.
Fortunately for Shikamaru and the rest of his classmates, Wu took hisrole very seriously. Hiruzen wanted him to play nice with his classmates, so that was what Wu intended to do. After all, he might be eight years old, but he could easily imagine what Hiruzen was thinking when he elected to place him in a class filled with heirs and heiresses…
Following their morning sparring session, the students of Class 3-A were given an hour to socialize and eat lunch. Some went off in search of their former classmate, while others broke off into the groups they had formed over the past two years. This included Kiba, who joined a group consisting of Choji and Shikamaru, so Wu was left with Kaia.
Though Kaias performance had reduced her value in the eyes of Wu, he gladly accepted when she invited him to eat together. She might not be an heiress, but she was related to the Inuzuka Clans matriarch through her mother. Thus, even if she couldnt fight, Wu determined that she had at leastsome value.
Unaware of Wus thoughts, Kaia was giddier than usual as she dangled her feet beneath the picnic table they were sharing with two otherlow-value individuals, Uzumaki Naruto and Hyuga Hinata. Wu had noticed the former standing off the side, watching the other children with a listless expression on his while Hinata was staring at him at a distance with an oversized Bento Box in hand. It wasnt difficult to imagine their situation, so Wu acted as an intermediary, first inviting Naruto before extending a similar invitation to his little stalker.
After the initial awkwardness of Naruto being the only one at the table without any food, Wu pulled out his plus-sized Bento and suggested, “I packed some extra food, hoping to bribe people into being my friend. If its okay with the three of you, how about we split what we have…”
Without any hesitation whatsoever, Kaia beamed and replied, “If thats what Aniki wants, Im happy to share~!”
Though he was a little taken aback by Kaia referring to him as her Aniki, Wu just nodded his head before shifting his attention to Hinata.
Spotting her lifeline, Hinatas face briefly lit up before Naruto turned his attention to her, causing her to shrink into her seat and mutter, “T-Thats fine with me…I…I also prepared extra…”
Nodding his head a second time, Wu seized the initiative to shift one of his trays to Naruto, teasing, “Eat up. Just remember to pay me back once you become Hokage, okay”
Blinking in surprise, Narutos brain appeared to stall for a moment before an enormous grin appeared across his face. He was originally planning to refuse the groups charity. After all, he didnt have anything to offer them in return. Wus teasing words were the slight push he needed to overcome his embarrassment, his eyes watering slightly before he closed them and replied, “You can count on it!” loud enough to draw hate-filled glares from several other groups of children…
After parting way with the trio of outcasts midway through lunch, Wu meandered his way over to an overcrowded table occupied by seven gossiping girls. There was another table nearby, but instead of moving over to join the sole occupant, Uchiha Sasuke, the girls observed him from a distance, giggling and chattering away with star-filled eyes.
Noticing Wus approach, the girl closest to Ino gave the platinum blonde a gentle nudge with her elbow, eliciting an aggravated, “What do you want, Suzume!” for her troubles. Before Suzume could answer, Ino spotted Wu, her previously bubbly expression morphing into a progressively pissed-off look.
Waiting until Wu was close enough that she wouldnt have to shout, Ino narrowed her eyes further and asked, “What doyou want After the way you treated Sasuke, youre lucky we dont beat you up and bury you up to your neck in the flower room.”
Before answering Inos question, Wu both stunned and confused the girls bysitting down on empty air. One of theweaknesses of the Adamantine Body Technique was that the user was unable to move the limb they were using it on. Thus, by adhering the soles of his feet to the ground, adopting a seated posture, and thenfreezing his lower body in place, Wu was able to create the illusion he was sitting on an invisible surface.
Taking advantage of the girls stupor, Wu adopted the expression he used to get the most prominent reaction from Kurenai, narrowing his eyes like a predator and adopting a faint smile as hepurred, “First of all, I wanted to apologize. I wasnt attempting to offend you, but that doesnt change the fact you were offended by my actions. For that, I apologize.”
Without rising from his seated position, Wu closed his eyes and lowered his head ever so slightly, patiently awaiting the girls response.
Taken aback by Wus words and actions, not even Ino knew what to say. She might be a spoiledprincess, but she was still just an eight-year-old girl. In the face ofgenuine sincerity, her usual haughtiness was quickly supplanted by awkwardness and then embarrassment.
Acting as the proverbial straw that broke the camels back, the pink-haired girl, Haruno Sakura, meekly whispered, “D-Dont you think we should forgive him, Ino-chan…” She was located at the far end of the table, barely able to avoid slipping off, but her diligent nature compelled her to speak out.
Hearing Sakuras appeal, Ino exhaled an overly-dramatic sigh before staring at Wu with furrowed brows, her tone sharp as she begrudgingly responded, “Fine. Ill forgive you, just this once. Howev-”
Before Ino could finish, Wu raised his head to reveal a relieved smile as he replied, “Thank goodness. Its my goal to try and befriend everyone in our class. Im not sure what I would have done if you all started hating me over a simple misunderstanding.”
Prolonging Inos silence, the person closest to Wu, a girl with raven-black hair, slit-like eyes, and a bob-cut reminiscent of Hinatas, asked, “What do you mean, misunderstanding”
Without missing a beat, Wu asked, “What else could it be If youll recall what our Sensei said, barely a month has passed since I came to reside in Konoha. I harbor no anger or resentment toward anyone and just want to be the bestme I can be. While it is true that I referred to the Uchiha heir asduck butt, I intended it as more of a playful barb than anything. It was never my intention to upset him, much less any of you.”
Left at a loss for words, each of the seven girls just stared at Wu as if he was speaking a foreign language. Looking at things from his perspective, it was easy to deduce they were the ones at fault. However, as children werent exactly known for accepting responsibility for their actions, none of them knew how to respond.
Having fulfilled his objective, Wu gave a curt nod before rising to his feet and adding, “Im going to go and apologize to Uchiha-san now. I doubt he will accept it, so please dont hold it against me if he starts viewing me as a rival or something similar. In exchange, Ill do my best not to antagonize him too much during our spars. Deal”
Since they still didnt know what to say, each of the girls exchanged looks with one another before directing their collective gazes to Ino. She was the leader of their little group, so if anyone was going to say something, they concluded it should be her.
Feeling pressured by the gazes of her friends/followers, a tiny bead of sweat formed on Inos brow as she forced a cramped smile and said, “I—I meanwe understand. Just…just try not to bully Sasuke-kun, okay Hes been through a lot…”
With his expression visibly softening, Wu lowered his head and softly replied, “I understand…” before rising to his full height and adopting a radiant smile as headmitted, “Conversing with a bunch of cute girls is surprisingly terrifying. I can feel my heart pounding in my chest…”
Placing his hand over his heart for emphasis, Wu pretended to exhale a relieved sigh before regaining his smile and saying, “See you around.” in a chipper tone. Then, without waiting for the group to respond, he made his way past them, willfully ignoring thethreatening look directed at him by the lonesome Uchiha.
Since there were more than enough seats at Sasukes table, Wu sat across from him, his expression mimicking the Uchihas severity as he softly asserted, “We need to talk…”
Narrowing his eyes, Sasuke replied, “I have nothing to say. You should just go back to those losers and make yourself comfortable. Its only a matter of time before I discover the weakness of that technique. Youre just another stepping stone on my path to becoming strong…”
Disregarding most of what Sasuke had said, Wus expression livened as he perked up and asked, “Oh And what are you doing to grow stronger If we compare notes, you might be able to crack my technique quicker. How about it…”
Though he was initially planning to dismiss the annoyingly social idiot, Wus performance during their spar was still fresh in Sasukes mind. The brown-haired buffoon had some fairly useful techniques in his employ, so there was at least a little merit in trading notes.
Linking his fingers in front of his mouth, Sasuke slouched forward slightly to state, “I wont teach you anything, but Ill answer your questions if you first answer mine…”
As only weaklings and cowards feared having their techniques stolen and used against them, Wu grinned in response to Sasukes ultimatum before leaning forward, imitating the moody Uchihas posture as he mused, “Ask away…”