A Surprise Entrance
The group of ninja were walking along the path, each lost in their own thoughts, save for Shikamaru and Kiba, who were talking back and forth about Kibas latest involvement with troublesome women. Shino walked along silently behind them. Every once in a while he would be greeted by one of his bugs, who were busily scouting the area ahead for any signs of the caravan, or enemies. Naruto plodded along, hands in his pockets, thinking about the past few days. He was tailed by a very irate-looking Akamaru, who, in order to vent his frustrations, began to trot around the group taking passing snaps at butterflies who were lazily flying about. This prompted giggles from the final member of the mixed squad, Hinata. She spent most of her time blushing slightly, and staring at the back of Narutos head. Every once in a while, she would activate her Byakugan and scan the surrounding area.
Theres a stream up ahead. called Hinata.
Shikamaru looked at her, and she nodded to him. Then well set up camp off to the side. He indicated off to the right with a hand motion.
Naruto had finished gathering the firewood he was told to get and started back towards the camp. The sun wasnt too close to setting yet, so he could afford to nap for an hour or so. He dropped the bundle of logs to the ground and took place up against a tree a few feet away. Within a few minutes, the thoughts in his head quieted down to a dull roar, and sleep overtook him.
Naruto awoke to the sound of scratching. It was coming from a bush behind him. One second and two spent Kunai later, a field mouse scurried past him into the clearing. He had a front row ticket to a battle; or, to put it in better context, a slaughter.
CLICK! CLICK! Two ants were gone. Another few clicks, another few ants swallowed. Naruto watched silently as a few more field mice appeared and engaged in the same activity. Probably brothers and sisters
Some minutes later, the ant trail had all but disappeared, and the engorged mice sauntered off into the grass, save one. It was slightly thinner, and had one eye missing. It caught the few remaining stragglers with ease, but was halted by a sudden sound. Naruto heard it. A wasp flew lazily into view. On such a warm day, such a wasp would be helping chew wood into paper for its nest, but this wasp didnt want wood. It wanted the mouse.
Within the tiny, yet very sensitive ears, the mouse could clearly hear the wasp hovering a few inches away. It leapt, gnashing its teeth together, hoping to taste the succulent wasp meat. But, its hopes were dashed against a rock as the wasp nimbly dodged it. Sensing the wasp coming in for an attack, the mouse skipped a pace away, barely missing the barb coming within millimeters of its fur. This duet lasted for several minutes, before the mouse, hungry and out of energy from emaciation, couldnt dodge quickly enough. The wasp landed upon the mouse; gripping its fur tightly, it thrusted its spike into the mouses back. A tiny squeak of pain later, the wasp detached itself and flew off.
However it did not get far. It was met in midair with a large beetle. And then another, and another. Then ten, and another ten, until the wasp disappeared inside a veritable swarm of beetles, as did the mouse. The beetles receded, leaving an empty husk of a wasp, and a tiny, eviscerated mouse.
Naruto knew those bugs preceded Shino, and waited for him to make his entry.
Despicable creature... Shino stepped into view on Narutos right. That certain type of wasp doesnt carry a stinger with poison. Instead, it lands on its victim, usually societal animals, and injects them with eggs. The mouse, thinking its been injured goes back to its burrow to lick its wounds, unknowingly bringing a payload of death. He scooped out a trough of dirt with his hands. The initial host usually dies within three to four days. He placed the mouse in the trench and buried it. But, not before being torn open and the parasites to find a new body to invade, until they have grown into adult wasps, usually killing around a dozen creatures apiece.
Using that poor beast to unknowingly corrupt and destroy its brother and sisters
Naruto said to no one in particular. He looked up at Shino, and then rose to his feet. He picked up the firewood, noticing the sky had grown much darker. Thank you Shino
he said, shifting the bundle in his arms and strolled off towards their camp.
Naruto entered the clearing where his comrades sat, waiting for him. He dropped the wood next to the already going fire. Hinata breathed a sigh of relief when she saw Naruto uninjured.
had a lot to think about. Naruto answered their unasked questions, Shino gave me even more to think about. He looked at them with sullen eyes. Im sorry if I worried you. He sat down looking straight into the fire as if it held every answer to every question he had.
Dont worry Naruto-kun, as long as youre okay. She blushed and put a caring hand on his shoulder.
He halfway turned to her and smiled, causing one of Shikamarus eyebrows to rise.
Im going to bed. Naruto stood up.
Everyone looked at him as if he just said he could fly.
Without dinner? Kiba asked.
He paused for a moment while opening the tent flap. I lost my appetite back in the forest. And then he disappeared.
They looked at each other speechless, and then to Shino as he walked into sight as if nothing were wrong. What did you DO to him? Kiba asked.
I found him watching a couple of animals fight. Shino sat down, and related to them what had happened, unaware of the silent tears falling out of Narutos eyes ten feet away.
Naruto awoke to blackness. He tried to pull his eyes open, but all the crying the night before had left the salt in his tears to dry his eyelashes together. He channeled chakra into his ears, making them more sensitive than before. He could hear the two humans and one dog sleeping beside him. He sat up, but this movement caused Kiba to shift and Akamaru to raise his head and look at him.
he put a finger to his lips, Im going to the stream to wash my face. He whispered to the dog.
Akamaru put his head back down and Naruto stole out of the tent. Slowly and silently, he made his way to the gurgling off to his right. He used the sound of the stream to navigate and maneuver his way in between the trees, causing a flashback:
Doton: Tsuchi Ayatsuri no jutsu (Earth Release: Earth Manipulation Jutsu)
Naruto covered his eyes with a bandana as Takashi positioned himself on the far side of the maze of earthen posts he had just created.
Follow the sound of my voice
Naruto concentrated, cocking his head to one side, so that his ear was towards his teacher. He smacked into the first pole. Rubbing his ear, he tried again with the same result.
Picture in your mind, as if you were using your sight
Naruto tried to forma a picture in his mind. Another pole met his temple.
Takashi sighed, If you cant do it normally, then channel chakra into your ears.
Naruto funneled chakra into his ears. After the initial burning sensation of pushing chakra through passageways that had not been built up yet had passed, he suddenly got a picture in his mind. Black posts on a green background. He decided that the black posts, were the earthen ones. He slowly weaved his way in and out of them.
Youre getting it. Takashi said, the sound making everything in Narutos mind become a crisp and clear image. When his voice died away, so did the picture somewhat; it became blurry and distorted. Resorting to the background noise, and focusing on it, he was able to get a better image. Arriving in the center of the maze, he found out that he couldnt see much of anything anymore. The posts had absorbed most of the sound. The only thing he could see, was the tops. Ill just walk across the top. He had thought to himself. With that thought Naruto leaded up and gracefully landed atop one of the posts. Within thirty second he was on the ground, taking off his bandana, and looking at a smiling Takashi.
Thats enough for now. You are a quick learner. You didnt completely finish the exercise, but you got to the end in half the time it usually takes my students.
Hey! Who were your other students!!!!???? yelled Naruto, eager to hear of his teachers exploits. However Takashis face became stone and he walked away silently.
It was that night that Takashi had shown Naruto the scratched Hita-Ite. It was that night when Takashi had told the story of his pupils, and how he had once been a Jounin teacher for the Village Hidden in the Mist. It was that night that he told Naruto of his pupil, and of Zabuza.
So Naruto walked, his chakra-charged ears picking up anything and everything. Within five minutes he was at the stream. He located it very easily, seeing as how it made a lot of noise. So much so, that he had to shut off his extra hearing, and use his normal hearing. He squatted down, splashing water onto his face and rubbing it into his eyes, trying to dissolve the salt that glued them together. Slowly he wedged his eyes open.
As the world finally came into focus, he looked in the water at his reflection. He saw bags under his eyes. Those eyes that looked almost nothing like the ones that were once shining with his
passion of youth
Thats when he noticed something strange. Peering deeper into the water, he saw something circling him high up in the air. Hm? he turned his head around and craned his next to look up. Sure enough there was a very large white bird circling above him. He squinted, barely able to see it in the morning light. Then he noticed something else odd. He was not alone. He slowly turned his head and eyes to lock onto those of his pale-eyed teammate.
She sat there in the stream, trying to cover herself up, with her arms covering up as much as possible, and her body sinking as low into the water as she could. But, she started wide-eyed at Naruto, red as can be, and shaking so much she was cause the water to ripple around her.
Narutos mind stopped. All the tiny Narutos suddenly dropped their boxes and stared up at the screen of what Naruto was actually seeing. The stood, eyes wide and mouth agape, until finally one had the sense to run to his Fight or Flight controls, and mashed the Flight button.
They were frozen in the place for a good thirty seconds, silently staring at each other. Naruto finally stammered out a shaky Sorry
ad then disappeared in a plume of dust.
Hinatas brain was in overload as well. After Naruto left she blacked out, only to wake a second later when her head hit the water.
. she couldnt even finish his name.
Somewhere in the back of her mind a small Brave Hinata was whooping for joy. However, the large Shy Hinata just pushed her into a locked closet, and continued to stare out of Hinatas eyes.
It was a good ten minutes before she got out of the stream; of course using her Byakugan to keep a lookout for anyone coming near.
She arrived back at camp with everyone sitting around the embers, eating breakfast. Kiba and Akamaru were talking and yipping back and forth, completely oblivious to what had transpired a few minutes ago. Shikamaru laid on his back shoving food into his mouth while watching the clouds roll on by. Shino just sat there, sunglasses always staring forward. And then Naruto, with an almost full plate of food next to him, was staring into the fire as he had been doing lately for the past few days.
She grabbed some of her food, and sat a few feet away from Naruto. If he knew she was there, he was doing a great job of hiding it. The tension was so thick; one could cut it with a Kunai.
Finally after a breakfast of silence they packed their stuff and left northward again. Neither of the two even made eye contact for the rest of the day.
It was late in the evening a few days later, when they came upon a large gathering.
What the hell is this, her entire village? Kiba yelled.
Halt! Stand and be recognized!
Taking the role of foreign dignitary, Shikamaru took a step forward. Greetings. My name is Nara Shikamaru. He indicated himself, and then his comrades, These are my comrades, Uzumaki Naruto, Hyuuga Hinata, Inuzuka Kiba and his dog Akamaru, and Aburame Shino. He handed the guard their official mission document.
After giving the mission document a good once over, and then a curt nod, they headed into the large camp. Get settled in; then come find me, and Ill take you to the princesss quarters.
They entered the monster of a tent in which the princess lived, and gaped in awe. All manner of blue, green, and gold, festooned the walls. There had to be about twenty people; servants and guards, and then a white curtain; behind which sat the princess. There was a long table off to one side, with dozens of dishes and drinks. Akamaru and Kiba were already drooling and ogling at the food.
These are the Konoha Shinobi your father hired to protect you princess.
came a tiny voice from the other side of the curtain.
A waste of my time and money, if you ask me. I already have dozens of guards and servants at my beck and call.
Shikamaru could see Naruto seething next to him, glaring at her silhouette and clenching and unclenching his fists. Easy Naruto
he thought to himself.
So much food
. Kiba whispered to himself as he and Akamaru both licked their chops in unison.
Dont touch any of that! Thats MY food!
All of it
? Kiba whined
Of course not, what do you think I am, fat? Whatever I dont eat will be thrown away. Akamaru whined and his tail drooped low. You may leave. The silhouette waved them off.
Shikamaru heard a low growl being issued from his right, but not from Akamaru. He looked over to see a seething Naruto. The red wisps of chakra were already starting to roll off of him, and his eyes had turned as red as they can get, at least until Hinata had sensed this too and put a hand on his arm and said his name softly. He looked at her, the redness fading; he stomped out of the tent leaving his teammates and a dozen guards sweating quite profusely. It was understandable. The older ones were in Konoha when Kyuubi attacked, and the ones who could sense chakra, knew this certain chakra. A few sank to their knees as they felt the chakra recede, thanking whatever gods they worshipped. Even the princess could feel the pressure in the back of her mind, untrained as she is. Shikamaru even saw Shinos eye twitch a few times.
You dont understand how lucky you are that were here to protect you. You dont have to like us, Kiba walked up the step to the curtain, ignoring the pleas of the guards, he ripped it down, revealing a stunningly beautiful blonde-haired, blue-eyed girl behind it,
but, you sure as hell are going to respect us. He spat out.
She nodded dumbly, and they exited the tent.
When they got to the two tents, they saw Narutos battle gear lying in a neat pile next to the fire with his Hita-Ite displayed openly on top.
Ill go find him. Shino offered.
Shikamaru nodded, Then well eat and go to sleep.
Hinata set up her things inside her tent worrying about Naruto.
Naruto wandered through the camp blowing off some stem. He knew he was extremely close to losing it on her. He wasnt close to completely losing like he had twice with Takashi, but he sure as hell would have given her a large piece of his mind.
He was walking until he came upon a semi-circle of all sorts of cages. But what drew his attention was the largest cage off to the left. He slowly walked up to it his eyes locked with the snow-white tigers. All at once he could feel all of the sadness and loneliness that the tiger had felt all of its life.
Hey! Youd better be careful! a man yelled to him as he jogged up. He motioned to the tiger with an iron rod, Hell take your face clean off if ye give him the chance. He turned his attention to the tiger, Hey! You werent buggin this guy were ye? he raked the bars with the rod in his hand. Mangy beast
he raised his arm back, only to have his wrist engulfed by Narutos hand. Naruto applied a little pressure and snapped the mans wrist.
The man yelled, a stream of curse words leaving his mouth, What did ye do that for? he cried as he cradled his arm. A crowd had started to gather.
Naruto didnt even look at him. He just stared directly at the tigers eyes. You had better get that looked at. Go to my tent, youll find a blue-haired girl. Tell her everything that happened, and shell fix your arm. He approached the bars putting his hands around them.
W-what are you doing? the man yelled hysterically.
Naruto ignored him. He was spellbound by those eyes; he bended the bars outward creating a hole for the tiger to exit out of. People were staring wide-eyed at this strange man for two reasons: he was bending steel bars with naught but his hands; and he was freeing some strange animal; a deadly one.
I know this isnt your home, but go; be free. He said softly to the tiger, who growled softly in return and trotted off into the trees.
I will not stand for this! the man cried out.
Naruto lowered his head until his nose was almost touching the mans. He glared straight into the beady eyes, I dont think that youre in a position to stop me. You had better hope we dont cross paths again; as far as Im concerned, youre lower than pond scum.
Naruto left and stalked back to the dual tents, and sat down on his mat, which was rolled up and waiting for him to use it. Hinata looked at him, Naruto-kun
we have to
He looked at her with pained eyes, Please, not tonight. Can we talk tomorrow?
She half-sighed, half-smiled, Of course.
Naruto thanked her and went into his tent. Using the roll as a pillow, he fell asleep instantly.
Morning came too early. By the time Naruto awoke, most of the camp was lined up in the caravan. Within the hour, everyone was ready to leave.
Hinata up front, Naruto a few yards back, Shikamaru behind him, Shino, and then Kiba and Akamaru bringing up the rear.
Around noon they took a break, bringing the caravan to a halt. Since Hinata was up front scanning with her Byakugan for traps and enemies, Naruto had to go up to see her.
He found her around a bend about fifty yards ahead of the caravan.
You know, you shouldnt be alone like this. She jumped at the sound of his voice.
He shook his head, Dont be. You were right last night we DO need to talk. About earlier that day, and about yesterday morning.
She blushed at the mention of the incident, Youre right, I should have told someone I was going to take a bath. It was just so early, I thought no one would be awake.
I probably wouldnt have if I hadnt
hadnt been crying the night before. He looked off into he forest and missed her eyes widen. Im going to leave soon. Her eyes got even wider. After this mission Im leaving, maybe for good. I have some unfinished business to take care of.
he shook his head, Sasuke can rot for all I care. Hes not my brother anymore. My brother died when he left me to become the very thing that he despised most. He shook his head again, No. There are larger things than Sasuke and the Akatsuki.
What could be worse than them?
I cant tell you
he could feel the presence get depressed. But about yesterday morning
his stomach clenched, I realized that Id developed feelings for you
Shy Hinata shrunk a little bit, and the door burst open via a Brave Hinatas kick; biting her nails watching to see what would happen next.
but, thats why I have to leave. Like I said a while back, I cant let anyone into my heart again. Anyone who gets too close is destined to die a gruesome fate. She was on the verge of tears. I wish I had realized your feelings a few years ago when it could have made a difference. Im sorry
he turned around and took a step towards the caravan.
Hinata fought through her tears. Who are you
He turned around Hm?
Y-youre not the same Naruto-kun I admired when you left four years ago. What changed you? Tell me
He sighed, knowing that he had to tell her. You arent going to make this easy for me are you? she shook her head. He knelt on the ground, and she mirrored him, her knees inches from his, her eyes looking pleadingly into Narutos. It started after Jiraya died-
OKAY! Thats enough of that! I thought there was going to be some kissing going on! Who doesnt like a bit of a sappy love tragedy? a voice called out from the trees.
About time you showed yourself
A figure leapt out of the treetops and landed of the road in front of them; clad in a simple green robe, with a black rope belt. Purple eyes stared out from under the hood hungrily.
Oh so you noticed me? I guess I should have known that I couldnt slip by the all mighty Number Three.
? Hinata asked.
Oh right. I forgot our dear sweet Naruto-Kuns girly-friend. Yeah, he was about to tell you all about it wasnt he? Dont worry, Ill tell you all about it once Ive killed him. He smiled revealing gnarly yellow teeth.
Are you under orders? Naruto asked.
No, but theyll reward me highly for bringing the head of a traitor; probably with your position.
I guess it never did settle well with you that I moved up to Number Three in two years, when youve been Number six for fifteen. He turned his head to look at Hinata. Activate youre Byakugan. Remember my Kaze no Rokujūyon Hira (64 Hands of Wind)?
The figure interjected, OH so this girl is a Hyuuga? She was going to replace my partner, Number Seven? Fitting, yet ironic; to replace a Hyuuga with another Hyuuga.
Enough. You know I hate banter and explanations. However, I am about to show Hinata the full potential of my Kaze no Rokujūyon Hira (64 Hands of Wind).
The figure smiled again, Very well. Lets proceed.
Naruto motioned forward as he motioned for Hinata to back away from him. Your move, pawn. he injected as much venom into the last word as possible, knowing it would play on Number sixs hatred of being used. He grinned.