KONOHAMARU HIDEN - MISSING IN ACTION SINCE APRIL 22ND 2017
CHAPTER 1 - MONKEY
"You can come in."
Konohamaru entered the Hokage's office. Nostalgia hit him like a raging truck. But that's not important now.
He was summoned by Kakashi- sorry, the Sixth Hokage- by the utmost importance.
Doesn't he usually summon Naruto for these special missions? Like the moon quest? Konohamaru smiled proudly. Man, at least he finally got a promotion in rank. Should've gotten it straight after the War ended, quite frankly. No one would've complained, that's for sure.
"Please sit over here, Mr Sarutobi." Kakashi's secretary said. Konohamaru wanted to snigger but couldn't. The rumours he heard about these two, oh boy...
Duty first. He went towards the Hokage's desk, politely waiting for the leader of the leaf ninjas to speak.
"Hello Konohamaru. You've grown quite a bit since the last time I saw you," Kakashi said, obviously wanting to break the ice.
"Thank you Sixth," Konohamaru replied. "I assumed, judging by the urgent message, you summoned me for a mission?"
"Perhaps. But not quite."
Eh? Is he trying to imitate his late grandpa or something? "Pardon me Hokage, but I don't understand what you're saying."
The Sixth cleared his throat. "Let me explain. You have access to the Third Hokage's items, is that correct?"
"Well, yeah, I have access to grandpa's storage shed, but so does dad and Aunt Kurenai. What does this have to do with me?"
Kakashi continued. "You see, there is a seemingly plain item that belonged to the Third, which contains a secret scroll hidden within. My intel says it was located in a monkey figurine that belonged to him a long time ago."
A monkey statue... oh yeah! "Does it have cymbals attached to its hands? And did the figurine have a pipe in its mouth?"
Kakashi's eyes gleamed. "The very same." he said. "I need you to retrieve it for me. This scroll is very important. Only a direct heir of the Sarutobi clan can retrieve it."
Konohamaru hesitated, but he had to say it. "Errm... I sort of already gave it to someone."
You couldn't tell if you didn't know him, but the Sixth immediately relaxed after hearing that. Gave you a fright eh, old man? Konohamaru sniggered.
"That doesn't matter. At least we know it's location. You have to bring it to me until sunset. Understood?"
Konohamaru didn't want to disobey the Hokage of all people, but he had to ask this question.
"If I bring the statuette here, does this mean we're gonna have to break it?"
Sure, it didn't belong to him. But it did belong to his grandpa once. He hoped they didn't have to...
"What we'll do with it we'll see later. Right now, you need to retrieve it as soon as possible. And one more thing," Kakashi added. "Naruto mustn't know about the scroll. Understood? This doesn't concern him. This is a part of your inheritance as a Sarutobi. You must understand that."
Konohamaru looked at Kakashi. He didn't see the Sixth with a such a serious face since the meteorite showers. Or since the War, if you want to be precise...
Konohamaru nodded. "Understood, Sixth. I'll be right back."
He nodded out of curtsy, then left the office after the secretary told him to. After he left, she looked at her boss.
"Sixth, are you sure it was wise to not tell him about the Sword of Kusanagi? Maybe he would've been more motivated to retrieve the item like that."
Kakashi shook his head. "The less he knows for now, the better. We don't know if this scroll is actually in the statuette after all."
"But, didn't you say before that your source is 100% reliable?"
"True, true. But I don't believe intel completely until I see proof of what is said. Strong enough rumours often tend to be mistook for facts."
She nodded, understanding perfectly what he meant.
CHAPTER 2 - DUMMY
- BZZZZZZZZ -
After ringing a few times, Konohamaru knocked sternly on Naruto's apartment door. That's weird, he's usually here at this hour.
"Oi, Naruto! It's me, Konohamaru! Can I come in?"
He panicked. Was he interrupting someth-
The door opened slightly. He could hear sounds of wooden planks getting punched on.
"Come, come, come on in Kon! You gotta see this. Check it out!", a Naruto clone enthusiastically showed up, before disappearing with a loud *poof*
At least. Konohamaru sighed in relief. He didn't want to become part of the village gossip that he dared to annoy everyone's hero, he thought whilst gulping.
Konohamaru walked in. Naruto was in his training gear, looking slight exhausted. He patted a huge wooden post with sticks sprouting out from every area.
Konohamaru looked at it sceptically. So much for the statue comment. Now that looks like junk, he thought amusingly.
"What is that?" Naruto beamed.
"It's a new invention. Lee created it during the War to keep the demoralised divisions in shape and focused during the calm hours. He calls it the Muk Yan Jong. I'm his first official customer!" he said triumphantly, with a smile that could cheer even the dead.
Konohamaru looked at it again. "It looks like a wooden dummy."
"My thoughts exactly," Naruto chuckled. "Lee loved that term though. Still, he said he was gonna sell it to the market under the other name for now, makes it sound more professional. He also asked me to test the first prototypes. Check out this metal leg!" Naruto said.
He then went into more detail, about its proper origins and its features, like a child with his new toy.
"Cool!" Konohamaru exclaimed, after sitting down. He leaned inside. "Is that another one?"
"Yeah but that's the dead dummy. This one's got a little spring in it. I like this one better," Naruto said, whilst sipping on a bottle of water. Konohamaru did the same thing, having also one on him. One of the new policies of the Rokudaime was to always carry one in battle and off duty. No exceptions.
Well, 'Lord' Kakashi always liked water alot...
Boy. It's been almost three years since Kakashi replaced Lady Tsunade. And it still feels weird calling him that.
A thought struck. "How on earth is he going to sell these products though? Lee isn't exactly popular. He's even poorer than you! No offence by the way."
"None taken," Naruto replied. "I was gonna follow a suggestion Hinata told me."
Oh? "Really? What did she tell you now?" Now Konohamaru was curious. He asked, with an obvious Cheshire grin on his face.
"Hmm," He could've sworn his friend's face flashed beetroot red for a few seconds. "Well, she told me if Lee could sell these products with my face on them, people would be more encouraged to buy them, even just for leisure purposes. Like that, Lee and his invention will be able to have an extra push with both potential ninja and non-ninja buyers," Naruto scratched his face nervously. "It's all her idea really."
Konohamaru nodded solemnly. "So, in other words, you'll sponsor him?" He took another sip from his bottle. Man, it sure is hot for a wintry day...
"Yeah, but I won't get a penny. To be honest, I don't need it much."
Konohamaru spit his water out. Thankfully, nothing precious was hit. "Are you kidding me Naruto? You're the village- no, the world's hero! Your name alone makes people go nuts, either out of respect or fear! Remember the Tobishachimaru?" Naruto grimaced, but nodded. "Hell, you and Sasuke are practically known all over the world!"
He continued. "Anyone would gladly die in order to use your image for any kind of promotion, no joke! The only reason the noodle shop you love to go to doesn't use it, is because you specifically told them not to. And you, of all people? Not needing some money? C'mon." Konohamaru looked at his idol sceptically.
Naruto scratched his neck. "Eh, it's not about money really. I owe Lee a lot. I want to repay him somehow. This is great for the future of Taijutsu as well. Perhaps this will inspire people like him with inherited low chakra to build it up through Taijutsu before giving up completely on becoming a ninja."
There he goes again. Thinking of the progress people can access through the new tech coming from the War. Konohamaru now smiled.
"I see… you think the other one is better for beginners? Like, for the students in the academy?"
Naruto smiled back.
"You're thinking like me now! Yeah, the spring less one should be better for beginners. But I like this one better. That's why I'm testing it more. It's a hell more advanced and challenging. Plus, it helps me to relax and focus on my Taijutsu indoors. I'm also thinking of making some basic Taijutsu lessons for online purposes, but the DSL is making things a little difficult..."
Konohamaru kept smiling. Then he remembered the reason he dropped by. Whoops! The monkey statue!
"Say, Naruto? Remember the monkey figurine I gave you that belonged to my grandpa about a month ago?"
"Yeah?" Naruto asked.
"Well, apparently, there's a sec- section of it that needs serious repair. I know I gave it to you to keep it, but if you give it back a bit, I'll return it in a wink of an eye. A week tops." Please tell me he didn't notice my slip-
"That's okay," Naruto smiled. "It should be somewhere on those shelves over there. Maybe in the top section. That's the last time I remember seeing it," he said, before he continued practising his martial arts.
Konohamaru looked at the shelf. He wouldn't admit it, but he kinda envied Naruto right now.
He remembered the days when he was just a loud, obnoxious brat, bombastically announcing his presence to everyone in order to impress whoever he can. Even those people who treated him like he was the devil incarnate.
Konohamaru sighed. He wasn't ever pampered or spoiled like how he was when the Third was alive…
He still admired Naruto though, even all the way back then. Hell, if it weren't for him, he'd probably still be the same spoiled brat he was many years ago.
I would've dishonoured all of my family by now, I'm sure. Dad, grandpa, uncle... maybe even mum and Kuroda.
Kuroda, in case you didn't know, was the Sarutobi's family cat. Konohamaru would rather piss off his parents than his cat. He was one mean-
Dammit, he still couldn't find that bloody statue. Look at all of these luxurious items. You'd think Naruto was the son of a feudal lord or a crown prince. So many unopened presents to choose from too, mostly coming from all those ladies who gave him the items before the now famous moon mission. And plenty of them came from outside of the village too! Konohamaru sighed again. Talk about being a thirsty man in a desert whilst watching another man drown... ah, there it is-
Wait. That looks odd. What are all of these comics doing in the trash?
"Yeah?" Naruto stopped briefly, then resumed. "Didn't you really like this series, the Nirvana one? I remember you recommending it to me more than once. Why are half of these volumes in the bin?"
For a second, Konohamaru swore there was a huge flash of lighting behind his best friend. It felt like he just asked if he could go out on a date with his girlfriend. Why was he so scared? Naruto paused, turning towards Konohamaru very slowly. Damn, if looks could kill!
"Ah, those. Simple really. I didn't like how the series ended up, so I decided to remove the parts where it began to rot. Should've quit it sooner honestly. I think I'm gonna give them to charity. Like that, it will be better than what I was originally going to do with all of them," Naruto said, as calmly as a rattlesnake.
"And what were you going to do with them?" Konohamaru blabbed.
Oh no, he did NOT just say that out loud-
"Burn them up-ttebayo~"
Was that Kurama for a split second? All Konohamaru could do was stare.
Sh-should I be amused or frightened? His face looks terrifying. Burn them up? They're just a bunch of comics… what kind of a reaction was that?
Konahamaru was tempted to ask again, but stopped himself this time. He'll have to make his own research on the matter. He could also swear Naruto muttering should've quit it when they got separated a few seconds later but didn't press on the matter.
He quickly changed the subject. Konohamaru could tell when to hold them and when to fold them.
"I found the statue. I gotta go quick. You need anything from outside?" he said.
"Nah, I'm good." Naruto replied, his smile returning. He resumed his research on the wooden dummy.
"Thanks pal. See you again soon!" Konohamaru rushed outside. Naruto nodded, then used the post again, increasing his tempo. He made a quick backdrop, applying a little extra strength.
Hearing a loud noise, Konohamaru looked back quickly. He saw that Naruto unintentionally broke the metal leg. He immediately started panicking.
Should he stay or should he go?
"Oh uh. It happened again," Naruto said, whilst sweating a new river. "Lee isn't gonna like this…"
Walk away slowly. Maybe he won't notice… just a little bit more…
RUN. RUN LIKE HELL. RUN.
After what felt like hours, Konohamaru stopped for air. He felt super exhausted, but he had a mission to complete. He'll check what's so special with the statue with Kakas- wait, is that what he thought it was?
Konohamaru looked at the sky. He had until sunset. Surely quickly entering this store would do no harm to the mission...
Half an hour later, Konohamaru left the bookstore. Damn, no wonder Naruto was so pissed. Now he understood him.
Well, time to go back to Kakashi's office and-
Hang on, his bag was feeling too light. He quickly emptied its contents. Where did it go? Where did the monkey go?
OH NO. Konohamaru checked everywhere, but the monkey statue was gone. What was he going to do now-
"Looking for this, shorty?"
Aw hell naw. He recognised that voice instantly. He looked on the side with a glare only a cat would envy. Or even Kuroda.
A girl 'roundabout his age was dangling the monkey statue above him, whilst standing on the comic book store's sign.
Of all girls Naruto had to go rescue, really...
CHAPTER 3 - SHORTY
"Hello shorty, long time no speak. How are you doing~"
There she was. Hanabi Hyuuga. The younger sibling of Hinata, Naruto's bae. The Hyuuga sisters were as different as night and day.
As in one was a walking angel, the other was a devil in disguise.
That's a compliment. She's more like a fox. Konohamaru mused. Don't get me started now...
"Okay, that wasn't funny. Now give it back."
"Give you what now?" she stared from the sign. "Is that how to address a dear old friend?"
Konohamaru glared at her. "I'm not in the mood, Hanabi. Did you take the statue away from my bag?"
"Statute? What statue?" Hanabi played it innocent. "I never mentioned or took any statues."
"Oh don't you double speak on me." Konohamaru replied. "You always had a habit of steal items from me all the way back from the academy!"
It's true. And for some reason, she only stole from him. At first it was only pencils. Then she stole his scarf, only to return it days after.
Then she stole other things...
Like my lunchboxes. Konohamaru remembered. Heavens knows how many times she did that!
And when he told Master Iruka only once... "I think she likes you!" he said, with a knowing look. Pah!
"True, true. But hey, ever since you met my in law, you calmed down a notch. It's been no fun for a trickster like me." she face palmed dramatically.
Oh god damm- wait. "In-law?" Konohamaru had to ask. Did she know something he didn't?
"Oh come on, shorty. It's only a matter of time now," Hanabi landed from the sign. "Do you think I'll make a good aunt?"
Konohamaru opened his mouth to speak- "Scratch that. I'll be a great aunt." Hanabi's eyes shined. "Their children will toots love me, that's for sure."
Usually he'd put up with her ramblings. Especially after... he shook his head. No need to remember the main objective of the moon mission now.
"Hanabi," Konohamaru said. "This is serious. If you took my monkey statue, please return it. I need to give it to-"
"Ahhh," Hanabi cooed, "You mean this?", she brought the monkey statuette from behind her back.
"Hey, get that back!" Konohamaru dashed for it. No dice. He could hear Hanabi's laughter behind him.
But this time... it didn't annoy him? Huh?
"You said that you didn't take that away from me!" Hanabi tsked.
"No no. I said I didn't take a statue. You never said it was a monkey statue."
Konohamaru pulled his hair in frustration. Now that annoyed the heck out of him. How was he ever worried about her again?!
"I'm serious. Give it back!"
"And I'm serious as well," Hanabi cut him off, suddenly looking at him with a stern face.
Whoa! Konohamaru thought. That's almost like how Naruto looked at him earlier! Although Naruto's was actually scarier...
"I seem to recall lending you a book of mine two months ago. You haven't given it to me back." Oh.
Oh! The Gita Govinda book? Shit, that's true!
He did ask Hanabi to lend it to him for research purposes. But for the love of him, he had no idea where he last saw it. Then, last month, she got kidnapped by the so called 'Lord of the Moon' ... or by a frigid asshole, as Sai called him once. He shuddered when he recalled what exactly he did to her up there... thank heavens the mission was a success.
Crap. He's getting distracted from his own objective. Gramps would be most displeased.
He bluffed it up.
"Hey, you're the one to talk! You're the one always stealing my stuff!" Konohamaru stated. "So what if I didn't give it back on time?"
Hanabi looked at him disbelievingly. "You're still butthurt over a few lunchboxes, shorty? That was just sport. Besides, I always returned your items back."
"But not my lunches!" Konohamaru recalled.
"Oh yeah. But I never ate them. Your reactions were filling enough." He sighed. You can change the spots...
Enough of this. "Give me the monkey back."
"I said give it back to me!"
"You're in no position to bargain, shorty."
"Give me my statue back!" "Onsei jokyo no jutsu!"
NO I HAVE TO GO TO THE HOKAG- KAKASH- KAKA-
KAKA-WA? Konohamaru held his throat. He tried speaking again. Nothing came out!
He turned immediately towards Hanabi, anger clearly on his face. Hanabi smiled back sweetly, as if she did nothing wrong.
"That was the voice removal jutsu. A very advanced genjutsu technique," Hanabi explained. "That technique is a speciality of the Hyuuga clan. No amount of pain can bring your voice back. I basically muted you off- like a T.V. screen!"
Konohamaru couldn't believe it. He took a deep breath, and screamed at the top of his lungs.
Nothing came out. Just a puff of air. Hanabi golf clapped. "Nice effort. Seven out of ten!"
Konohamaru became desperate. He first pointed towards the statue. Then his throat. He then outstretched his hand out in frustration.
"You want your beau~tiful voice and the statuette back right? That's two favours I'm afraid," she reasoned. "Don't make me add three more hours~"
Three more what? Konohamaru mouthed unconsciously.
"You're under my jutsu's effect for at least three hours, dummy." Damn Hyuuga and their lip reading talents!
"That book belongs to my sister. You know, our conquering hero's precious sweetheart?" Hanabi stated. "That book was also a first edition. You know very well how my sister is with books... you see, if you misplace them, she can get very mad. And you won't like her when she's angry," Hanabi gulped. "Seriously."
Konohamaru stared. What does this have to do with him? He mouthed unintentionally.
"Everything," she continued. "You see, I shouldn't have lent you the book to begin with. So I had done you a huuge favour. Now, you have to return it. Simple!"
Konohamaru looked incredulously. Hanabi put a finger on her chin, wondering what to do next.
"Ooooor, since you cannot return the book right now... and I've got your statuette right here... which, judging by your reaction earlier is very important..." She clapped her hands together, as if a lightbulb showed up above her head.
"I got it! For the time being… you've got to entertain me," Hanabi smiled, like a shark towards its prey. "It's payback for what you lost for me."
Konohamaru still couldn't believe it.
He tried running away. Bolt it! Bolt it!
BAM! He felt part of his pressure points close one by one. Damn, that hurt!
"I think I already told you, Mr Sarutobi," Hanabi said, whilst tsking disapprovingly. "You're my entertainer for the time being. Can't let you get away now~"
Konohamaru could only stare from the ground, as Hanabi's shadow loomed above him. Dammit, if only someone could save him from this witch.
CHAPTER 4 - MESSAGE
The Wild Boar was a very famous restaurant, frequented by both ninjas and non-ninjas in Konoha.
Its popularity rose after the Pain Invasion and kept rising ever since. It wasn't always posh, but it wasn't raunchy either. On one particular table, six people sat on it, obviously currently going through a triple date. You'd be forgiven to think it was more of a family reunion though, with how loud and happy they all were.
"I'm so glad we all agreed to this," Ino said. "It was a great idea of yours Chouji, to meet up here. It's about time you finally introduced us to your finance really. We'll get to know each other in no time!"
Chouji looked like he could sweat mountains of buckets. You'd think he was introducing Karui to his parents, not his closest friends. He whispered towards the red-haired beauty. "It was all your idea really."
"Quiet dear, or they'll hear us," she swiftly replied. Chouji immediately obeyed.
"Who would've thought that you'll be the first to tie the knot between us three?" she also said wistfully. Her boyfriend paid no attention.
"And I'll continue on my research," Sai said. "Say, I remember you being in the Second Division- Miss Karui, was it? Did you meet during the War? Is that how you and Chouji met?" he clicked his pen on, ready to write on his notepad. Karui looked at him quizzically, but said nothing on the artist's awkwardness.
Maybe this is how Leaf Ninjas interrogate these days. I heard worse rumours. Fine, she'll play along.
"Yes, actually. He was fighting five undead ninjas at once. I stopped a near fatal attack before helping him defeat them. Then… I introduced myself, I suppose."
Chouji sighed, giving Karui big, gooey eyes unashamedly. Sai wrote down that detail too.
"Oh, a rescue romance? Where did I hear that before?" Temari purred, looking directly at Shikamaru.
Shikamaru pretended not to hear that. How embarrassing…
In that precise moment, Hanabi and Konohamaru entered the restaurant.
"And what exactly made you fall for Chouji himself, Miss Karui?" he continued. "Was is his dashing good looks, his perseverance against adversity or his position as the direct head of his clan?" Ino patted his hand, making him pause his writing. "What?" Sai asked. "He's clearly out of her league. I had to ask."
Okay, this is getting interesting. Karui mused. "Well, as you see..."
The younger teenagers stood by the bar. The bartender looked at them curiously.
"Do you want a drink first?" Hanabi asked sweetly. No, I want you to let me go! He mouthed.
"Cola it is then!" Hanabi exclaimed, dragging the boy with her. Konohamaru face palmed. Damned comics! He should've gone straight to Kakashi!
"Two colas please," Hanabi said. "Room temperature as well," The bartender prepared the drinks. Konohamaru couldn't believe it. He was technically being kidnapped right now. Why did no one care?
Hey, bartender! He tried saying whilst flailing his arms around. PLEASE I NEED YOUR HELP! He slammed his arms on the table.
The bartender didn't flinch. Instead he said, "Young sir, if you do that again I'll be forced to make you pay for any damages, child or no child." CHILD? WHAT DO YOU MEAN BY THAT? I'M OLDER THAN I LOOK AND I'M THE GRANDSON OF-
"Oh, don't pay attention to him." Hanabi smoothly said. "He cannot talk, as he's a mute. He likes his cola with ice." The bartender nodded understandingly.
MUUTE?! He angrily mute-said to Hanabi. "As you can see, he's very emotional about it."
He noted. "I'll add the ice then," Konohamaru let out a voiceless scream. Hanabi patted on his shoulder. "Don't worry, I'm enjoying this too."
Konohamaru looked around like a sad clown. If that was possible. Suddenly, he spotted a familiar pineapple shaped ponytail.
Hey, that's Shikamaru. Shikamaru! Over here! Oi-!
Nothing. He was too engrossed in whatever conversation he was having with his friends. Konohamaru thought quickly.
I can clone myself out of this! He prepared the signs-
"I seem to recall locking on your pressure points. But hey, you can try for a miracle anyway. On second thought, do continue. Impress me," Hanabi slyly said.
Dammit! He forgot that! Konohamaru cursed loudly, knowing nothing will come out his mouth. "Language, language!" Hanabi laughed.
The bartender found that exchange sweet. "Ah, young love," he said to himself.
Konohamaru sighed. Then, an idea struck. Eureka!
He quickly wrote a code with his blood on the napkin provided by the bartender whilst Hanabi wasn't looking. Who's impressive now, eh?
He stopped quickly when Hanabi looked at him. Oh no, tell me she didn't notice...
"You may be mute, but you're no animal," she said. "Take a straw, or your cola's gonna taste like ice."
He grabbed it quickly, taking Hanabi by surprise. Shit, shouldn't make his plan obvious... err, thank you?
Hanabi smiled. "There you go, it wasn't so hard, was it?"
Konohamaru smiled back, but not because of the conversation. When Hanabi looked away, he put his quickly put his note in the straw. He didn't manage to write all of the message on time, but he hoped Shikamaru would figure out the rest on his own. That man wasn't a genius for nothing.
Help me Shikamaru, Konohamaru thought to himself whilst aiming the straw shot. You're my only hope!
"Ow," Shikamaru shook his face. "What was that?" everyone asked simultaneously.
Temari picked up the note. She opened the contents, giving it to her boyfriend. "They're lines with blood. It's code but... it sounds like gibberish."
Konohamaru looked at the bopping black ponytail nervously. Did he aim right?
"It's very short though." Shikamaru stated.
"What does it say then, professor?" his girlfriend teased.
He leaned into the note for a closer look. "It says HELP ME SHE-WITCH HAN-Han? Witch?" Shikamaru said.
Everyone was confused. Instantly, the group started rambling their theories.
"Maybe it's code for Huns," Chouji said. "It could be a message signalling help about them. They've been making a lot of noise lately around the borders."
"But the Huns haven't attacked directly in years," Karui retorted. "And as long the Cloud is led by Raikage A, they could only dream of puncturing the borders, much less invade them again."
"Maybe there are witch-doctors involved WITH the Huns," said Sai. Everyone oohed in agreement.
"Shush, let me think," Shikamaru asked. "She-Witch, Han, help, help…" He stared at the note intensely.
The blond haired fighter couldn't help it. "Sounds like you when you get sand all over your hair back home."
Shikamaru looked up. "I got it."
Konohamaru saw Shikamaru's head rise up suddenly. Yes, it worked! He smiled. Hey, Shika-
"This is my subconscious, directly screaming at me for help," he concluded, throwing the note away. "That's my conclusion."
Temari snorted. "That's not what you screamed at me last night." she mirked, whilst sipping her coffee nonchalantly.
Immediately, Shikamaru's table was invaded with howling and table slamming, like a pep rally on speed. Even Karui, a newcomer, got an air horn seemingly out of nowhere to join the action. "So that's what an ice burn looks like," Sai nodded, whilst jotting down a few more notes.
He shook his head incredulously. "And here I thought I had allies…"
Konohamaru kept staring at his potential saviour. No! What are you doing? Hanabi's right he-
Hanabi wrinkled her nose at the noise. "You know what? Never mind. Let's get out of here, Kon," She paid for the drinks, forcing Konohamaru to come with her. "Bunch of barbarians 'round here." Konohamaru looked back in despair, hoping one of Naruto's friends would notice his struggles.
He slumped in defeat as they exited the restaurant, whilst hearing Ino loudly proclaim, "Welcome to the family hon!" as they left the building.
CHAPTER 5 - STANDS
Hanabi dragged Konohamaru out of the restaurant by his scarf. "Now, where shall we go next?"
Konohamaru's brain was running out of ideas. What did he do wrong? What did he do to deserve this? Why him? And on a holiday no less. All he wanted to do was complete this mission and go home- wait a second.
Didn't he see Hanabi dangle his statue towards him for a split second before talking to her?
Dammit, how did he miss that, it was right in fron-
"I know! We can go to Arashi's! They say it's a very nice place," Hanabi exclaimed.
He was about to protest. But then, a lightbulb of his own showed up above Konohamaru's head.
Maybe if I distracted her for a bit, I'll be able to pilfer the statue and run for the hills, he thought.
"You can try technically but, you can't. I've been the undisputed top runner of my class for the past two years now. No one beat my record yet~"
He couldn't believe it. You can read minds now?! he voicelessly exclaimed.
"No, but your face says it all. You are very easy to read, Kon."
And like that, Konohamaru's mind checked out. He waved the white flag.
That's it, I give up. He sighed. What do you want?
Hanabi smiled. "I'm glad you asked! Told you we were gonna work things out," She looked ahead. "Forget about the restaurant. That's boring. Let's go ice skating!"
Ice skating? In front of all of those people?
Ice skating with HER?!
NO WAY. Konohamaru flailed his arms like a mad man. This was not part of the agreement!
Instead of disheartening her, Hanabi acted like she had just received a bouquet of roses and chocolates directly from every ladies' favourite bachelor, the Kazekage. His fangirls made Naruto's look docile.
"So you do agree with my terms! Glad to sort things out," Hanabi smiled. "Remember, if you do not entertain me, you will not get this back~"
She showed the monkey statue off. It clanged its cymbals together, almost to mock him.
Konohamaru just stared. Is she testing my patience? 'Cause it's going run out pretty soon, and the day is not exactly young...
Hanabi stared back, looking almost disappointed. Hah! Showed you! Konohamaru could barely keep his face straight.
"Hmm. You'd think you'd show more enthusiasm in getting it back. Are you-?" she gasped, obviously exaggerating. "Are you enjoying my company that muuch?"
"Good to hear!" she exclaimed. "For a second you had me worried there."
"I haven't seen that face in years!" Hanabi laughed. "Reminds me of the good old days-" she stopped herself.
Why was she so silent all of a sudden?
"Forget that. Those weren't good days. They never were."
Was she talking to herself again? He had thought she stopped doing that-
"Let's go to the market before we reach the park! I hear they've got good prices this week!"
Konohamaru sighed. It's just three hours. He said to himself. Three, very long hours...
He started walking towards the marketplace. He hesitated to look back. What, was she expecting him to carry her there or something?
"Way ahead of you, shorty!", he saw her run towards the square. "Who comes last pays the mask!"
Oh goddammit! Konohamaru dashed forward. He didn't even have his wallet on him!
Hanabi patiently waited for her escort - yes, escort- as he dragged himself near the War Memorial fountain. It had familiar faces carved on the big monument in the middle, as it had many names of the ninja and civilians that died during the Fourth Ninja War. It was the first statue officially erected after the Sixth's inauguration.
"Told you I was the fastest," she said with pride.
No kidding. Konohamaru panted out. He could barely feel his lungs! Or legs, for that matter.
"Okay, let's take a looksie! Check out all of these stands! We could spend days here!" she teased.
Konohamaru glared. "I'm only joking~", she said, as she blew a raspberry towards him.
He looked at the stands. There really were a lot to choose from. Carnival games, clothes, jewels, masks, ninja pets, candy floss...
I'm not paying for any masks.
"Aw, but you came last!" Hanabi exclaimed. "It's okay though. I don't like them anyway."
They ventured a bit more inside. Konohamaru looked down. Hey! Money! And quite a lot too...
He picked it up. Maybe it belongs to the sweets stand. Sir-!
"Say, you heard the news? Apparently Master Bowlcut wants to add his product to the market. And guess who's going to sponsor him?"
Even though the monkey statue was finally in his sight and the candy floss looks really good too he couldn't help but eavesdrop this particular conversation.
"Let me guess. The 'saviour' of our village? The one who brought nothing but misery and disaster since the day he was born?"
Anger started to rise in Konohamaru. But he said nothing. Saying something would gratify people like them.
Calm down, ignore them. Naruto would do that...
Then again... how do these people still exist? Naruto was- no, is a goddamn hero! How can they still talk about him like this?! What more do they want?
"Yeah. Look at that goddamn fountain. Blergh. You'd think he deserved that recognition or something. It's not like many, many others died during the War apart from his own precious circle of friends."
He cannot believe his ears. Pain surged in his heart and all the way down his spine. I'm not hearing this, lalala, ignore them, don't say a word...
"Yeah, you'd think only that white eyed loser from the freak nest died, what with that special funeral they made for him. Pathetic really."
That's it. YOU TAKE THAT BACK! Konohamaru shouted with all his might. YOU TAKE THAT BACK INSTANTLY YOU-
Konohamaru looked incredulously at Hanabi. They're badmouthing-!
"I know," her voice was as cool as ice. "They're not finished yet."
But-! She held his shoulder. Hanabi never stopped looking at the storekeepers. Konohamaru could only stand and listen.
They truly weren't finished. They complained more on the bias the current Hokage and the 'so called war hero' had towards a certain Uchiha, whom should've been rotting in the Blood Prison for life according to them, how the Hyuuga were overrated, inbred freaks who should've gone extinct by now and how quickly people forget how much trouble Naruto caused ever since he was a child. It sounded like badly kept nails being slowly slid down on a very old chalkboard.
Konohamaru could barely keep his cool.
"Seriously, I remember him trying to steal a mask from my pa right over here," one of them sneered. "Now he's the world's everlasting hero. C'mon."
"Yeah. Everlasting," The other nodded like a jack in the box. "Everlasting like my-" They laughed together, obviously proud of their stupid jokes.
"Ah." Hanabi said suddenly. "I thought these people looked familiar," she smiled sweetly towards Konohamaru. "I'll be right back. You stay right here."
Oh thank god. Konohamaru sighed in relief. He wasn't sure to last one more word from those horrible people. If you could call them that, he added.
She went towards their stand. Wait. Konohamaru suddenly remembered. They don't like Hyuugas-!
"Could I have that fox mask please?" she asked, as sweetly as a kitten. "The white one, if possible."
"Sure." Where did their nastiness go? Hypocrites! "That would be 10 yen. Now, buzz off."
Hanabi took the mask. Then she smiled.
They didn't have a chance.
In a matter of flashes, the stand was completely ruined. All of the masks, which thankfully contained no fūinjutsu seals, were utterly demolished.
The store-owners' faux-curtsy towards their ethnic client disappeared with the stand.
"You goddamned freak! Look at what you've done to our stock!" One of them barked towards Hanabi. "You'll pay it! You'll pay for all of it!"
"Yeah!" The other spit out. "Just because your precious hero is dating your inbred gawk, doesn't mean you can parade your authority on us!
Hanabi said nothing. She stared at them with her piercing, lavender eyes.
CHAPTER 6 - WEAPONS
It seemed like all festivities going on in the background came to a halt. Everyone was looking in the direction of the now dearly departed mask stand. Konohamaru grimaced, but not because of the onlookers.
It literally took Hanabi destroying the stand in order for people to notice these guys? Is everyone deaf or something? He fumed in anger. Heavens know how much these two said in the background before they came along.
Konohamaru went in front of Hanabi, startling her. YOU TAKE BACK WHAT YOU SAID! ALL OF IT!
"Aw, look at that! The brat has a mute friend!" one of them said in delight. "Is that all who you could befriend, you pupil less-"
"Is everything alright here?"
All of them turned around quickly. Konohamaru recognised the person instantly. So did the two cowards. After all, it was hard not to recognise one of the many War heroes, Naruto aside. The mask sellers stared at Hanabi with glee, thinking they had found their saviour.
"Lady Tenten! This brat over here destroyed our stand whilst we were doing our business! She attacked us without any provocation! Look, she's holding the mask we sold to her as we speak!"
Without provocation?! Konohamaru said in disbelieve. You literally just called her a freak-!
Dammit! That's right. He was still under the influence of Hanabi's genjutsu. Tenten, it's not what it looks like, I can vouch for that!
He hoped she could understand him. Still, he was more than a little worried. Tenten was one of those ninjas that did not originate from a clan that was initiated from the First Great War onward. She came from humble origins, like the Nara and other similar clans. Shikamaru and Ino came from clans like these. Ninja like Sakura were even more humble, having just a family name and their own developed skills to rely on.
Said self-made ninjas needed the direct permission of the Hokage in order to officially start their own clans. Civilians that happened to not be invested in the craft felt a bond towards ninjas that were closer to their roots and vice versa.
"That brat over there happens to be the younger sister of the future heir of the Hyuuga clan, Hanabi Hyuuga. And I happen to know her pretty well. A self-controlled person like herself would never attack without any means of provocation. It goes well against what she was taught. Isn't that right?"
Hanabi nodded solemnly. "Yes, Lady Tenten."
No such luck here. Konohamaru couldn't help but smile, which infuriated the tormentors.
"Now wait a second here! Everyone saw her directly attack us! And our stand was still destroyed! Completely with our stock! Our stand has always been right here, in the same spot, since the Nidaime's administration! Act 12 of the Shinobi Godaikoku Trade Act states that if we civilians are attacked by an undisciplined ninja without provocation, they have to pay us back tenfold!"
"Yeah! We deserve respect too! We did nothing wrong!"
Konohamaru looked at Hanabi. Say something! he told her, knowing she'll understand him. You did nothing wrong, not them!
Hanabi stayed silent. Was she feeling guilty for breaking their stand?
Tenten was having none of it.
"Act 15 also clearly states that if a high-ranking ninja was provoked, or pushed into force by unwanted aggravations by non-ninja dealers, they have a right to destroy part of their possessions as compensation. The higher their status in society, the more they are allowed to do that."
Before the store owners can retort, she cut them off, with a glare resembling a hawk's.
"Don't think I didn't hear what you called Hanabi earlier and what you said before. All what you said can be used against you. Especially the rather nasty stuff you both said, which directly goes against the actions of the Rokudaime and the former Hokage as well."
Both storekeepers gulped loudly. Hah! Now you're screwed!
"I also seem to recall you talking about Sasuke Uchiha's pardon and dissing the 'questionable' verdict he received from all five Kage, including the Sixth. If you'd like, I can personally take you to the newly built Hokage Residence and start a jury there going against the ruling. You'd have to face all five Kage at once though."
"This isn't fair," one of them said. "This is all in your kind's favour."
Where did your respect for Tenten go, you slimy frog? Konohamaru said, momentarily forgetting the bullies cannot hear what he's saying.
Tenten laughed it off.
"My kind? We all come from the same tree. You should've learnt that by now, at least from the War. The War we fought for you." Both glared at her with very nasty looks. Any lesser person would've crumbled under the pressure. One of them muttered under his breath rather nice words towards Tenten. "Shall we go now? I wasn't kidding before. And I also heard what you said towards me, as I have very, very sharp ears, my friend."
They started elbowing each other out of frustration. Now they'll start blaming each other. No need to feed the trolls.
"We won't get a fair trial. All you ninjas are biased towards each other," one of them sneered.
"That's what's convenient for you to say, right?" Hanabi finally spoke. "You used to pick on my sister as well a long time ago. Don't think I didn't recognise you." One of them gasped in surprise. "That's right. You were beaten by a six-year-old many years ago," Hanabi smiled. "I wonder if the others know...?"
"Oh and one more thing." Tenten added. "When Sasuke's actions were pardoned, all libel against the Hokage till then were pardoned as well. Do you wish to go against that as well...?"
One of them raised their hands in defeat. "Okay. We'll pay everything." The other glared daggers at him, wanting to retort yet again.
"My offer still stands," Tenten reminded, in a sweet tone. "You say one more word, I'll take you straight to the Sixth. Shall we go?"
They both stayed silent.
"Good. Glad to settle that," She then raised her voice. "Nothing to see here! Everything has been resolved!"
Everyone in the background resumed their work or their fun. The two offenders started to pick up the remains of their stand, grumbling to one another. Tenten took Hanabi and Konohamaru as far away as possible from the two.
They reached the memorial fountain again. Lady Tsunade's statue gleamed in the clouded sunlight.
"That's the third incident those idiots were involved in a fight. Somehow, no matter who's involved in their bullshit, it's never their fault. At least they'll stay a little quiet now. If they'll show up with their crap again, I'll send them straight to the Military Task Force myself."
Right. The former Police Force of the Uchiha has been restored for three years now. It was Lady Tsunade's last official act as Hokage. Now they're called the Military Task Force. Anyone can be a part of it, even the non-ninja members of Konoha. The Uchiha symbol has been kept in the revamped crest due to the Force's origins. Konohamaru suspected Sasuke was also involved in the revival somehow.
"Thank you Tenten. I really appreciated your help," Hanabi said. Konohamaru nodded in agreement.
"It's not a problem. Your sister and I have been close friends for years now. And-" she stopped herself. "And you did nothing wrong. Remember that."
Hanabi nodded, a sad smile briefly showing on her face. Konohamaru looked at the two quizzically. Did he miss something...?
"Anyway, before you go elsewhere, want to see my shop?" Tenten asked. "It's just been completed a week ago. Soon there'll be the official opening!"
"Your weapons shop?" Hanabi looked like she had just received a puppy for the Rinne Festival. "We'd love to! Right Konohamaru?"
Like he had a choice. He nodded, less enthusiastically. I still regret going to the comic bookstore...
"Let's go then!" Tenten smiled. "I have prepared the Sage Tools display as well. It's solid crystal. I'll get the three sacred items themselves soon..."
As Tenten and Hanabi discussed weapons in detail, he couldn't help but notice the monkey statue was within his sight again.
Konohamaru gulped. Should he risk it...?
CHAPTER 7 - SACRIFICE
They exited the shop. Hanabi was still rambling about what she and the renowned weapons master had discussed earlier, complete with star eyes towards the Sage Weapons display. Konohamaru wished he could sigh, but that would bring attention.
He didn't have the guts to go for the monkey statue. Not with Tenten around...
Hanabi smiled and waved the veteran ninja goodbye, her eyes smiling beyond her expression of joy. Then, when Tenten left her sight, her face dimmed considerably.
"Kon? Can I trust you with a secret?"
He turned his head towards Hanabi. Depends how heavy the secret is, he mouthed.
"Well..." she looked behind, checking if the shop owner had finished her final check up or not.
"It's about Tenten," she continued. "She and my sister were... close. Still are, mind you but... not as much as they could've have."
This intrigued Konohamaru. Tenten was one of Hinata's earliest friends, everyone knows that. What's weird about that?
"The thing is..." Hanabi sighed. "Let's find somewhere open. I'm feeling like I'm being watched."
They walked until they sat down on the first bench they saw. Konohamaru stared silently, unsure what to do next. What should I do? I'm no therapist. Still, he waited for her to continue. "The night before the Ten Tail's attack, Tenten came to her for a request."
He urged Hanabi to carry on.
"It's best if I explain properly. Remember, what I'm telling you now is between you and me..." She cleared her throat. "When Lord Hisashi, my father, went missing during the last part of the War, the responsibilities of the Hyuuga clan were unofficially on my sister's shoulders. With our leader potentially dead, Project Eagle Eye was activated. Everyone had to protect the chosen heir of our clan. Main, branch, any generation who can fight. Myself included."
Konohamaru absorbed this piece of information, clearly remembering Hanabi being sheltered with the young and civilians during the War. But you were with us no? In the lower shelter, during the attack? Perhaps she had forgotten... or maybe that frigid asshole gave her a severe case of brain freeze. Hanabi mirked.
"Kon, Kon... we Hyuuga work differently than the other clans. I had my own duties to fulfill during the War."
Now that I think about it, Hanabi was pretty emotionless during the blitz... despite her direct family potentially dying on the battlefield-
Instantly, everything clicked. If who, or what he saw, was a clone of Hanabi, then- wait.
You mean you where there? In the actual field? Konohamaru muted-screamed. The hell's wrong with your clan?! You could've been-
"Killed, yes," Hanabi confirmed. "It's not like you don't know the dangers of being a ninja, shorty. We Hyuuga embrace that danger. It's what helped us survive."
Konohamaru was afraid to ask, but he had to. Does... did the Fifth know?
"About my father's disappearance? Yes, and she helped to recover him. About Project Eagle Eye? No. Not until the War ended anyway."
Konohamaru stared in disbelieve. Hanabi shrugged off his empathy, mistaking it for pity.
"It is a brutal practice, I admit. We used to lose clan heirs like flies, they say. This is why the branch clan existed originally. Like that our direct heir will always be backed up and protected by our own elite soldiers. Their role got... diluted only in recent times."
Hiruzen's heir stayed silent. Noting that, Hanabi smiled at him as sweetly as possible.
"If it comforts you, this is only activated in extreme circumstances, like if there is a chance we lose our chosen leader during a great conflict. And nowhere else."
Konohamaru folded his arms, not liking what he was hearing. What did Tenten request?
"Since Neji couldn't be released from his duties as a branch member of the Hyuuga clan aside from... traditional means," Hanabi paused, "She went directly to Hinata, as the designated heir, asking for her permission to marry him."
This took the young ninja by surprise. Err- what?! M-marry?
"Yes, marry, Kon," Hanabi said, clearly amused. "You'd be amazed what a War can do for people's resolutions. She was willing to do anything in order to marry him, even though he was from our 'lowly' branch clan. Naturally, my kind hearted sister said yes. She even promised to be their witness."
He knew what was coming next.
"And then the Ten Tails launched its final attack. We had protect both Naruto, Konoha's hero and my sister, our heir. Some... loses had to be made."
Konohamaru sighed. Neji's sacrifice was big, and not just because he protected Hinata and Naruto. His death gave the remaining platoons much needed motivation to keep on fighting in order to ultimately win. If it weren't for his sacrifice, the War and the world as they knew could potentially have been lost forever.
That's why his funeral was given such importance, despite what those mask sellers said. He was the vital pivot that lead the Shinobi Allies to victory, everyone who lived those times as a solider knew that.
Konohamaru looked at Hanabi. She was on the verge of tears. But she wasn't finished yet.
"My sister regretted not making a quick ceremony for the two before Neji's demise. But Tenten bore no ill will towards her or our clan. She almost died wielding the Sage Weapons to ensure victory as well. Thankfully, our healers saved her. It was the least we could've done for her. Whatever happens, even if she settles down with another clan, she's one of us." They stayed silent for awhile.
What if you died too? Konohamaru asked. And had Hinata died, you would've been the new heir, no? So why risk yourself-
"No way," she said instantly. "My sister is stronger than me. And she had to live, no matter what. At least we all found comfort in that."
More silence. Suddenly, Hanabi got up from the bench, tired of the heavy subject.
"What a dull, grey day! It looks like might snow soon!" she looked up, giving Konohamaru her back. "You still owe me a skate, shorty! Come on, chop chop!"
Wait! Konohamaru said, as Hanabi dashed in front of him. Oh heavens sake!
He dashed towards the park, where the ice ring was.
CHAPTER 8 - ICE RINK
Due to the holiday, many people were already at the park for a stroll or two. The ice rink, made out of the frozen river, was invaded with children of all ages. On the side, near the decorated entrance, two veteran ninjas were keenly discussing their future goals.
"I tell you man, you'd be perfect for the Task Force," the canine featured person said whilst holding a pamphlet. "You've always been the best tracker between us three, Shino. And this is coming from a member of the Inuzuka clan, that's saying something. You always got us out of trouble since the early days. Hell, you could've been part of ANBU by now if you wanted to. So, why the academy?"
The more silent, reserved looking ninja adjusted his dark sunglasses. "Like you Kiba, I made my time on the battlefield. I feel like I need a change," he drank a sip from his cup of coffee. "Plus, I always wanted to become a teacher. I want to pass down what I learned to the next generation."
Kiba mirked. "You know, you could always find a girlfriend and settle down if you really want to do that..." he wiggled his eyebrows suggestively.
"There will be time for that," Shino pulled up his hood. "For now, I need to recover. My eyes are not what they used to be."
Kiba looked at his long time colleague sadly. The War's toll practically made Shino need high risk operations regularly due to his unique genetic makeup, which makes his body a literal hive for chakra controlled insects. His placement in the Fifth Division was not kind to him or other members, as it was one of the divisions that suffered the most losses. Kiba shuddered when he recalled the Aburame's deadliest technique, the Insect Sphere. Thank heavens he was on our side...
He remembered something else that a certain green spandex lover told him earlier. "You know, I heard they're developing new technology at the Land of Waves. Some sort of augmented visor that helps visually impaired people? Don't ask me if there are versions available for us ninjas though. Lee told me about it."
This peaked Shino's interest. "I'm listening. Tell me more."
As they talked, a petite girl with a pony tail ran athletically towards the entrance. They nodded towards her in recognition.
"Hello guys! If you happen to see Shorty, tell him I'm near the ice ring," she said, jogging on the spot. "Just point towards my direction if he looks confused. He needs to come as soon as possible. Thanks~"
She waved and winked towards the elder ninjas. They smiled, as they were both used to her mischief behaviour.
"Hard to believe she and Hinata are siblings," Kiba noted. "She was always the most extroverted between the two."
"She wasn't always like that. She was more the quiet type before Naruto knocked some sense into her cousin a long time ago."
"Really? I always remember her like this," Kiba pouted as he jolted his memories. "Now that you mention it..." He recalled seeing her for the first time next to Hinata's father, during the infamous battle between Naruto and Neji. She looked serious, glum... and not someone to mess with.
"Right! I saw her before the Konoha Crush started!" he snapped his hands. "What, did Naruto change her attitude with his fists too? He has a habit of doing that."
Before Shino could reply, a familiar looking spiky haired boy approached the park entrance. He looked severely out of breath.
Konohamaru looked at Kiba and Shino like they were bearded angels. H-help m-eeeee~
Both veterans pointed at the back of them without hesitation. They thought Konohamaru was simply lost.
"Hanabi went that way. She's waiting for you near the ice rink."
"Go," Shino said. "It's rude to keep a lady waiting."
The young lad looked like he was on the verge of tears. He dragged himself towards his destination. They took no notice, continuing where they left off.
"You think these new accessories are also optic?"
"One could only hope."
"Oooff! Why are you so stingy! Are you going to skate yes or no?"
A pig tailed girl was on a bench alongside a spectacle wearing boy. He scoffed for the penultimate time. "I told you Moegi, I am not skating. It's not for me and you're not convincing me otherwise." The orange haired girl tried again despite his complaints.
"Honestly Udon, what happened to you? You weren't this boring when we were part of the K. Army Corps..."
"That was a long time ago, Moe," the brown haired scholar swiftly replied. "I told you, I'll take you everywhere today but skating and I'm sticking to what I said."
"You big meanie!"
"Say whatever you want, I'm not moving."
Moegi huffed in annoyance. Then, she saw a familiar looking kunoichi on the ice ring. "Say, isn't that Hanabi the werido?"
Udon stared at his friend's direction lazily. "Yeah, and? Maybe you can go skate with her."
"Naaaa," she said, curiosity taking her interest. "Why is she here? She's usually not into these events. She always says they 'bore her to tears'."
Udon didn't want to indulge. "Maybe she's got a date this time. Perhaps you've got some competition?"
"Naaaa, sorry. Not into girls," she stuck her tongue towards her teasing classmate. "Still.. it is rather odd to see her skate on her own-" The brown haired girl flicked her ponytail on the side, almost out of annoyance. "Wait a min... is she waiting for someone?"
"She is probably on a date. Mystery solved," Udon stood up. "Say, I'm hungry. Wanna have a bite from the kiosk or-"
Moegi grabbed Udon from the collar. "This is big!" she said, her gossipy self taking over. "Hanabi, on a date?! With whom, with her shadow?"
Udon sighed. Moegi was always a little jealous of the quiet sibling of the Hyuuga heir. Not that she stayed quiet for long... a strong candidate popped up in his head. After all, he made the most sense. "I bet it's Konohamaru."
Moegi frowned at the prospect. "No way! They never liked each other! And she always used to pick on him!"
"Barely," Udon retorted. "And it was mostly small items she teased him about, like his lunchboxes."
Everyone in class knew Hanabi did that for attention. Except...
"Exactly! What's to like! That is sooo unladylike," she kept rambling. "There's no way Konohamaru would date such a girl... she was such a loner..."
Blah, blah, blah. Udon cleaned his glasses. Hanabi skated a little near the edge of the river, always looking upwards.
She really did look like she was waiting for someone.
He smelled an opportunity. "Wanna bet?"
Hanabi skated a bit more towards the edge. Did she exaggerate? What if he gave up and went home? She looked at the monkey statue. "Maybe you weren't so important after all..." The statue clapped it's cymbals in response.
I don't want to be alone today, of all days. Sis needs some time off too. I-
She stared up, a familiar looking figure looking around for her. She gave a genuine smile towards it. "Thank you monkey. I'll return you soon enough." The statue made a laughing noise as she hid it again. "Hey! Shorty! Over here!" she waved towards the scarf wearing boy. "You need to buy some skates first or you'll slip!"
Konohamaru caught his breath near the kiosk. "Are you alright sir? You need help?" Konohamaru shook his head, knowing they won't understand him. He looked towards the Hyuuga princess. She waved towards him. He sighed, hoping the nightmare will be over soon. He pointed towards the skates, showing them the money he picked up earlier. He went towards the rink. "Thank you sir, have fun!" the customer service people told him happily after giving him change.
Yeah, yeah. He wore them unenthusiastically, dreading what was coming next. I bet she'll have something in min-
He could only see the floor. His foot was up in the air, his head hitting hard on the ice. OW OW! Where did that come from?
"Really Kon, really?" A familiar voice showed near him. "I thought you knew how to skate. Why didn't you tell me?"
Konohamaru glared at the feline looking girl. Of course I can skate! He stood upright to prove her wrong. Less than a second later, he was in the exact same position again. Hanabi clapped at the display. "If you're trying to make me laugh, you're succeeding!"
He growled in frustration. He got up, sitting on his butt. Dammit, the ice is stone cold...
He crossed his legs on the floor, putting his hand on his face. Then, he raised it towards Hanabi.
She found it cute, but she won't say it. He's probably freezing as we speak...
I've entertained you enough. He pointed towards the stash were the statue was. Gimme my statue back as promised.
Hanabi nonchalantly started at her watch, tsking in the process. "Not even an hour passed here... you've got three to entertain me, remember?"
Konohamaru sighed, expecting that to be her answer. She was always stubborn, goddammit... he got up again thanks to the implanted iron stands. Hanabi approached him by the side. "You know, you're never going to skate properly if you attach yourself to those things," she said whilst smiling. "Allow me." She skated in front of him like a pro. Konohamaru couldn't help but notice that the current ponytail suited her. He didn't like what she did to her hair a few years ago, even out of necessity.
Where did that come from?
"Now you try," Hanabi stopped gracefully, waiting for her escort to follow her moves by imitation. "I was very slow on purpose. Just move your knees forward and relax. It's easy!"
Easy for you to say, Konohamaru grumbled by himself. "Yeah, you have to unlearn what you usually do with chakra feet. Think of it as a new technique!"
He looked at his wobbly legs. A new technique, huh... he left go of the railing, flailing his arms in the process. ARRGH!
"Oh, my sister does that too. You don't know how much she panics on ice... come on, you can do it!"
Konohamaru tried as hard as he could, but fell on his ass many times. All times, the lavender eyed kunoichi kept encouraging him. He finally stood upright and skated a bit. Hanabi smiled towards him. "See? It wasn't that hard! I knew you could do it." Konohamaru smiled a little. He won't admit, but he was starting to enjoy himself.
She made a different pose. "Now, watch carefully. This is..."
Suddenly, whispers started to rise up around them.
Look, that's them! He's such a gentleman! They're sooo cute together! Awww!
Konohamaru saw a few pretty girls cottoned up together, all with starry eyes staring in one direction. Only one person in the entire village had this effect on women. Could it be...? He slowly stared towards what they were looking at, hoping against hope that there was indeed his best friend on the ring.
In fact, it was him. He was wearing his snazzy black outfit, complete with orange gloves, a fluffy hood and an overly long red scarf.
But he wasn't alone this time.
"Easy does it, don't stiff up like before," the fair headed brawler could be heard saying. "That's better. There's nothing to worry about-ttebayo~"
His girlfriend however, didn't look as confident. "D-don't you dare let go of me," she said in anxiety. "It-it's so slippery!"
"Oh no I won't," he smiled fox-like. "You'd probably kick my butt if I do. But I'll have to in a minute, otherwise you'll never learn."
"N-no! I f-feel like a deer on ice!" Hinata stared up from his black sleeve with an uncharacteristic pouty face. "You make everything look so e-easy..." He laughed a little, finding their current situation amusing after all what they went through together.
"You're adorable. You make facing advertises look easy and this is were you find trouble?" Her still shaking physique said it all. Naruto couldn't help it. He laughed his heart out at her expense. She started laughing with him, her troubles all but forgotten. In her laughter, she almost slipped again, but Naruto caught her on time.
"You will fall now and then, it's normal," Naruto reassured her. "But you need to bend your knees forward, not backwards. That's what you're doing wrong!"
Hinata smiled at her lifelong ray of light. And if I fall, you will always be there to support me... she relaxed momentarily, remembering Naruto's guidance.
"Don't look at me now, I fell countless of times before I learned," Naruto gave her the smile she fell hard for. "The secret is to never give up!" The heroic figure's face softened as he looked at Hinata's efforts to impress. Just like how you never gave up on me...
"I'm letting go now. You can do it!" he skated a little away from the black haired dame. She managed to stay upright, but started to flail her arms in panic. "A-am I doing right?" she flailed less, but she still was feeling a little silly.
"See? You're improving! I bet you'll be as good as me in no time! Just don't panic and you should be fine. Now, put your arms shoulder level and-!" Many girls swooned in the background but he only noticed one girl's smile, despite her constant twitching to not fall.
It distracted him a little, against all efforts. "A-and... err..."
Awh, how mushy. Hang on, I think I'm gonna puke. Where's the paper bag?
"Hold it." Naruto's mood darkened instantly. He took a quick trip to his inner space. Not now Kurama!
The nine-tailed kitsune smiled lazily. You forgot to switch the monitor off. I'm merely entertaining myself.
"N-Naruto? Are you okay?"
He was brought back by Hinata's plee for assistance, as she resumed flailing her arms to keep her balance. She managed, but barely.
"Sorry, must've zoned out," Naruto scratched his trend setting military buzz cut in apology. "Now, move slowly towards me..."
Hanabi didn't look too impressed. She stuck her tongue out in a gag motion. Secretly though, she was happy for her sister. At least she improved her fashion a bit... doesn't look like she just got out of bed anymore. She was tempted but won't interrupt their sweet moment together, not even for trolling purposes.
She had a reputation to maintain, true, but there was time for that. She turned her head to talk to Konohamaru. Her barely learning skating companion had other ideas though. He literally saw an EXIT sign hovering above towering ninja's head. It IS him!
Konohamaru skate-dashed towards the couple, not thinking clearly.
He suddenly felt jolts of pain around his body. He felt shocked at first, then he stopped feeling anything altogether. I-C-CAN'T-M-MOOOOOOOVE- he thought, as he couldn't even move his lips.
What the hell just happened? *(Studio Pierrot Attacks! It's super effective!)*
Hanabi suddenly came back from her auto-pilot mode. She was in her attacking Praying Mantis stance.
Oh no... what have I done?
She looked at Konohamaru. She would've laughed if the situation wasn't serious. He had one knee and one arm raised towards everyone favourite sweethearts, his facial expression looking like it came straight from a comic book when describing a heart-felt reunion that went wrong. His mouth seemed to be frozen in a wrinkle making frown. Were those tears? I didn't... she looked around them.
Apparently she was so fast, people thought he was playing the Mannequin Challenge. He's good, some whispered.
To do that on ice... impressive!
Wow, he makes it look effortless!
Bet it's to impress his girlfriend...
Is he an entertainer? Some even tossed a few coins towards him.
No time for these games. "K-Kon! I'm so sorry! I didn't mean- you moved so suddenly and- I-I didn't think straight. I didn't mean to, honest!" She meant every word. Konohamaru couldn't reply. A few more tears went down his cheek. Out of anger? She thought sadly.
Not exactly. That was literally all he could do in that state. But she didn't know that.
Hanabi shoulders slumped, her mischievous mood all but gone. She done it this time. She done it real good. She went towards the spiked haired boy, cursing her natural lighting reflexes for the first time in her life. At least she had to limit the damage she inflicted. She moved the other arm in his pocket, changed the raised one into forming a thumbs up and turned that frown upside down. Thankfully, he wasn't a drooler.
What's going on now? Konohamaru thought in defeat. Hang on-!
Using the pocketed arm as pivot, she skated towards Naruto and Hinata, holding Konohamaru besides her. He looked like he was thumbs upping everyone.
As for the two famous lovebirds, they were still in their own world, unaware of the onlookers around them.
Is she taking me to Naruto? Konohamaru hoped against hope. I'll forgive her if she does. He tried speaking to her, but was still frozen.
It's too bad that I-can't-friggin-mooooooove!
"Huh?" Naruto was the first to notice the odd couple coming towards them. "Oi, Hinata? Isn't that your sister?"
"Hmm?" Hinata looked at her boyfriend's direction. "It is! That's Hanabi! But wasn't she- and she's got a friend too- wait a minute... is that a boy?" They looked at each other, both assuming the same thing. Naruto's smile went from sly to cheshire in seconds.
"I know the little fella. Leave them to me," he smiled a toothy fox-like grin.
"Well... she IS my sister. Be gentle okay?"
"You're too kind," he shook his head out of amusement. "You're supposed to torment siblings back in these situations. Look, this is how you do it..."
Konohamaru suddenly felt conflicted. Why is Naruto smiling in that manner? Surely-
Naruto skated towards them, his smile saying it all. Oh no. DON'T THINK HE THINKS I'M-
"Kooooonohamaruuuu~," Naruto skated towards the two misfits, Hinata following slowly. "You didn't tell me you had a date today!"
The young boy felt he could die right in that instant. No! That's not what happened! Hanabi took my statue and-
"You rascal! And right under my nose!" Naruto thumbs upped back, thinking his friend was frozen in joy. "You don't need to be shy now! Say something!"
Yep. That's enough.
He felt his soul leaving his body right then. That's it, that's good enough. You can swallow me whole now, river. Just do iiiiit.
"Sorry Naruto, we didn't expect you here. That's why he's like that," the white eyed witch told his hero confidently. "He's just so happy right now, he literally can't speak." She smiled in a manner that Naruto's old frog master would envy.
But she was wary of the person behind the village hero... the only person who could read right through her poker face within seconds.
Hinata eyed her sister worriedly. "You're supposed to be at home today, Han. That's what you told me you were gonna do. I had my mind at rest you were there." Hanabi kept smiling her cat like grin towards her elder sister. Please don't notice my nervousness sis...
"If it's true, why didn't you tell me anything? You usually love to share these details with me. This is really unlike you..."
Hanabi didn't show it, but she was sweating buckets right now. Dammit! I can't fool my sister for long! She's gonna figure out I fu-
Naruto laughed loudly, his humour cooling the tension around them, slapping the younger Hyuuga on her back, breaking her from her trail of thought. "I like you! Hanabi the angler! I bet you were the one to ask Kon out! Should've expected it. He always needed a nudge up."
NOOOOOOO! The poor boy yelled internally in despair. He felt like crying his heart out in sorrow, which he did.
His thumbs-up, grinning -feel the youth- imitating pose said otherwise. The tears of 'joy' coming out of his eyes didn't help either.
Naruto lifted his hand to form a fist bump out of his usual encouraging self. Hanabi looked at it at first, then returned it. A small smile formed on her lips. "Thanks," Hanabi replaced her arm around Konohamaru's arched one, "We gotta go. Too many eyes here. You understand, right?"
"Not to worry, you'll get used to it," the war hero smiled in sympathy. "You'll appreciate the quiet moments more though!" Hinata nugged his ribs playfully.
"Take care Hanabi," the slender kunoichi assured. "Just... please. Tell me if you need anything."
"Will do sis, thanks," Hanabi smiled. She meant the last one. She'll need her help if her escort stays frozen like that.
Konohamaru could only stare as his saviours waved at them enthusiastically, unaware of his situation. They looked more distanced by the minute.
Freeeeedooooooom... nooo, please, come baaaaaack... wrrrryyy...
The small crowd around them dissipated not soon after, having their live heroes gone for a midday snack.
Hanabi's smile disappeared as they vanished from her sister's view. She looked around for the nearest bench. She needed a break.
And to face the music...
Moegi couldn't believe her own eyes. No! It can't be! Come on! Those two? But...?!
"No way, I must be seeing things... surely..."
Udon smiled like a winning lottery man. "I knew it," he cleared his throat. "My darling, I believe you owe me some money." He accepted Moegi's grumbling whilst she rummaged through her wallet with a smug smile. "A pleasure, madam."
Will Konohamaru ever reach Kakashi's office?
How in the everlasting name of science did Konohamaru's eye colour change from hazel to blue in his late teens?
And what is Enma doing in the bushes?
Tune in next time, when the author finally stops being lazy and updates this series!