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Here With You

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Here With You

Ichi

Sakura Haruno stared in disgust at her spiky-haired comrade as he slurped up ramen noodles. His facial expression only held pure bliss while he ate. "Geez, Naruto. You eat like you haven't eaten in a billion years," The pinkette muttered with a scowl. In reply, Naruto only gave her his foxy grin before returning to his meal. Sakura sighed and pinched the bridge of her nose to restrain an upcoming headache.

The always-silent Sai decided this was his chance to speak up. "So, Naruto… I heard the Hokage is looking for a new assistant," He informed causing his friend to slowly stop eating. The Jinchuriki lowered the bowl from his lips.

"So?" Was Naruto's simple reply.

Sai frowned a bit at his reaction. "So? You can be around the Hokage and see her in action, idiot," Sakura butted in with her usual nagging tone. Their blonde teammate pondered the thought and quickly shook his head. "Nah. All Granny does is paperwork and complain at Shizune. And if I decide to take Shizune's place, then Granny will complain at me… even more," Naruto shuddered at the thought of Tsunade pummeling him for bringing her the wrong type of liquor. He found himself rubbing the bruise he'd received three days ago from her.

Sakura gawked at him. "Oh really? Well, good thing I already signed you up for it," She smiled victoriously and squinted her emerald eyes at him. Naruto's face instantly turned into a disgruntled cringe. "WHAT! Sakura-chan, are you crazy? What would you go and do that for?" He exclaimed as he flailed his arms around frantically. His actions immediately made the female angry. She gritted her teeth in annoyance before hitting him over the head.

"Calm down, idiot! If you ever want to be Hokage then you have to observe the good and the bad," Sakura hissed, rubbing her slightly aching knuckles.

"Gah! Fine, fine, fine! Sheesh, Sakura-chan, why do you have to be such a man...?" He muttered.

And then suddenly, it hit him.

Why do you have to be such a… man!

A now greatly scared Naruto turned in his seat to see a fuming Sakura.

"NARUTO, WHAT DID YOU JUST SAY," She screeched while giving him a dangerous look.

The spiky-haired blonde sweat dropped before jumping out of his seat and running out of the ramen stand. Sakura followed behind him with an obvious killing intent. Sai just remained in his seat with a smile and decided he'd pay for his friends.

Meanwhile, Naruto ran the dirt streets of Konoha as his raging comrade was chasing him. "Ah! I'm sorry, Sakura-chan. I didn't mean it! It just sorta slipped," He called back to her, hoping it would help his case.

Unfortunately for him, it didn't. Sakura just looked as if she were even more offended and quickened her pace. "Narutoooo! When I get my hands on you, I'm going to beat you to a pulp," She bellowed. The sunny blonde also boosted his speed and continued to dodge the civilians in his way.

Until…

BAM!

An assortment of fruits and vegetables went flying in the air and quickly hit the ground. Naruto fell on to his backside with a loud thud. He groaned while rubbing his back before standing up to see a platinum blonde girl on the ground whimpering. Naruto suddenly began to freak out.

"Gah! I'm sorry," He apologized before summoning shadow clones to pick up her groceries. The girl rubbed her head and looked up at the clones before letting out a terrified squeal. Naruto blinked in a confused manor at her. That's when he realized she was still on the ground. He held his hand out to her and smiled slightly. The platinum blonde reluctantly took his hand before he hoisted her onto her feet.

Naruto got a full look at the female before him. She looked as if she was around his age, she was wearing a purple sundress, some ordinary sandals, and her hair was in a loose ponytail. But what captured his attention the most were her eyes. They were a unique shade of blue that sparkled beautifully. He seemed to be almost captivated by them. "I-It's alright," She whispered with a large blush on her cheeks.

He couldn't help but laugh at how much she reminded him of the Hyuuga heiress.

"Hey! What're you laughing at?" The still unknown girl questioned with a slightly raised tone. Naruto blinked and took back his recent thought. She was more on Sakura's side instead of Hinata's. "Eh, nothing. Sorry about bumping into you again. Here's your stuff," He said while gesturing to his shadow clones that had retrieved her store bought items. The clones held up her stuff for her to take, but the girl only began to tremble and slowly step back.

Her pretty blue eyes were now showing a familiar emotion to Naruto.

Fear.

Naruto quickly dismissed the clones and caught her groceries before they could fall to the dirt ground. His platinum-blonde acquaintance tried to muffle a small 'meep' noise at the sudden puffs of smoke. Naruto cleared his throat before looking at her with full concern. "Are you alright?" He asked, handing her the bag of items. She nodded and took the things.

"Thank you… I have to leave now. Goodbye," She mumbled in a full flustered-like voice as she turned around.

Bump!

"Woah! Sorry! I wasn't expecting- …NARUTO," A far too familiar kunoichi said before pounding one of her fists into her palm. Blue energy formed around her assaulting right hand as she reared it back. Naruto was preparing to run for his life, but instead, a shriek stopped both ninjas from their actions. They both turned to see the blonde civilian sobbing hysterically before running away.

The team seven shinobi and kunoichi stood there for a moment trying to comprehend what had happened. Sakura was the first to speak.

"Huh... Who was that," she asked while watching the blonde girl run away. Naruto did the same until she disappeared into the crowd. He turned to his teammate and rubbed the back of his head. "Eh, some villager. Funny, she seems like she's our age and I've never seen her before," he muttered.

Sakura shrugged. "Oh well, maybe she's new to the village," she replied before turning away.

Naruto mentally sighed in relief over the fact his teammate had forgotten why he had run into the girl in the first place.

"Oh, and by the way…" The pinkette whispered.

Suddenly she spun around on her heel and punched Naruto's left cheek. He went soaring back, landing in a tower of boxes. "Never call me a man again, bakaaa!!" she yelled while stomping away from the injured adolescent.

Naruto groaned as he picked himself up off the ground.

"Sheesh, women are so troublesome," came a lazy voice. The Kyuubi container turned around to see Shikamaru Nara standing there. Naruto quickly agreed, "Yeah, you said it. So, what are you doing right now?"

The lazy nin pointed at him. "I was told to inform you that you have a new mission. It seemed pretty important if you ask me."

Naruto grinned widely. "Ah! Really? Okay! I better get going. Thanks, Shikamaru," He chimed before darting away.

Entering the Hokage's mansion was always such a thrill for Naruto. He knew that every time he was here, his experience would rise drastically. It was as if everything in the manor made him happy and filled him up with hope.

"ENTER!"

All except one thing…

The sunny-blonde slid open the door and stepped inside the office. He saw the fifth Hokage sitting behind her desk. Shizune stood by her right side, and a slightly familiar man was on her left.

"You rang, Grandma? I'm all ready for my mission. Are we talking A-rank, B-rank, or Oh! S-rank," Naruto questioned, obviously running his mouth. Tsunade glared at him with a very annoyed look on her face. "Must you do this every time I assign you to a mission," she stopped and sighed, "Anyway, I have called you here because Mr. Yamanaka is leaving on a very important assignment," she stopped to gesture to the tall, blonde who nodded to Naruto.

After this, she continued, "His daughter is a very fragile young woman who has a very special case. You will be watching out for her while Mr. Yamanka is away. Do I make myself clear?"

Naruto groaned slightly after she was finished. "But, Grandma! I don't have time to babysit some kid…!"

Tsunade rose from her seat and slammed her hands down on her desk. "Naruto, you will do what I have assigned y-…" she was cut off by the man, who slowly walked over to the Kyuubi container.

The Yamanaka put his hand on Naruto's shoulder and looked him in the eyes.

"Please, do this for me… My daughter, she doesn't know how to live by herself. She's too scared of ninja," he whispered while lowering his hand.

Naruto blinked before cocking his head to the side. "Wait… if she's scared of ninja… then why are you hiring me, a ninja, to watch her," he asked, scratching the back of his head. Tsunade calmly sat back in her chair and gave him a sincere look. "Well, since you seem to be more empathetic with others, we thought you could teach her how to not be afraid of ninja. Ya' know? Show her that all of us aren't so bad."

The spiky-haired adolescent gave a grin.

"Alright! I'll do it!"

His answer made everyone smile. "Good, you start tomorrow. Visit her in the morning at the Yamanaka residence, you should know where that is," Tsunade said. Naruto nodded in reply. He gave a reassuring look to the tall blonde man. "Don't worry about a thing! I'll look after your daughter! You can count on me," the younger of the two exclaimed before walking out of the office.

"Thank you, Naruto…"

That night, the Uzumaki boy sat in the middle of his bed, a bored look on his face. He was reading a book about the dynamics of ninja tools. Naruto yawned, before tossing the piece of literature aside.

He lay back on his bed and stretched out. How he hated being home, not doing anything. Kakashi-sensei was always going on about how rest was important, but it just seemed so time-consuming. Especially when he could be out getting stronger and stronger.

Naruto stared up at his ceiling, slowly getting the urge of closing his cerulean eyes, and falling into a quick sleep. However, he couldn't… a certain young woman kept infiltrating his thoughts.

The beautiful girl he'd seen today had bothered him a bit. How had he not encountered her before? The only logical explanation was what Sakura had said. She must have been a newcomer to the Leaf.

Suddenly a smile sprung upon his features. If he ever got the chance to meet this girl again, he would give her a special tour of his home village! Naruto found himself chuckling before he closed his eyes and fell asleep.

The next day, Naruto walked out of his house, already dressed in his usual orange garb. He began walking the streets of Konoha. Which were already bustling with villagers. Some nodded in greeting to the sunny-blonde as he made his way past them. Naruto kindly returned the gesture.

He continued making his way to the Yamanaka compound.

The adolescent then started truly thinking about this mission. How was he supposed to coax a child who was scared of ninja? He quickly dismissed the thought as he remembered that Granny and the Yamanaka man were counting on him. Naruto nodded to himself with pure confidence before walking up to the compound's porch.

He knocked and took a step back as he waited.

The door cracked open, revealing a platinum blonde with crystal eyes.

The same one from yesterday !

"Huh !? I-It's you…!" Naruto was taken aback and pointed at her.

She flinched slightly at his sudden gesture.

Naruto, who was feeling like a complete idiot, overcame his shock and apologized. "That's alright… Come in," she said while walking away. The golden-haired boy nodded, entered the household, and shut the door behind him.

He still couldn't believe that the girl he had just met was his client's daughter. Now it all made sense, why she was so scared when he'd summoned clones.

Naruto decided to take in his surroundings. Her home was very nice and very clean. Scrolls were tucked away neatly into shelves, and no sign of trash anywhere, unlike his living space…

He looked over to see the Yamanaka girl sitting at a table doing absolutely nothing. Naruto raised an eyebrow at this, but he decided to join her. When he sat down, he could feel the girl's eyes upon him.

So, he returned her gaze.

"What's your name," Naruto asked with a small smile. She looked away while brushing her bang back. "…It's Ino," she replied.

"That's a cute name!" He complimented with a wider grin.

Ino blushed and turned towards him, "Thank you… and you're Uzumaki Naruto, right?"

He nodded, "That's right! Konoha's next hokage!"

This made Ino's expression soften a bit as she gave him a warm smile. "That's good that you set goals for yourself," she said while cupping her hands in her lap. After that, the conversation seemed to drop leaving the two sitting in a very heavy silence.

"Well, I really don't know how long I'm supposed to be here…" The blonde male muttered, rubbing the back of his head. Ino's eyes lowered and she shifted slightly. "Oh, you want to leave already?" She whispered.

Naruto piped up and waved his hands around frantically. "N-no! It's not that. I just don't know what I'm really supposed to do here. Grandma-Tsunade didn't really tell me anything, but to come and keep you company till your father gets back," he explained, trying to reassure the girl.

Ino stood up, tucking her bang behind her ear. "Ah, well. If you want, you can go."

Naruto also rose up from his spot, while studying the girl in front of him. She was doing her best to mask her disappointment, but Naruto could see right through it. "Hm ! I have a better idea. How about we go out to the village, you and me! Sound like fun?" He suggested with a huge grin on his face.

His sudden proposal made Ino look very shocked to say the least.

She also looked very skeptical…

"I don't like wandering around the village… unless I'm with my father," she said, before fumbling her fingers. Naruto cocked his head to the side. "Huh? But yesterday I saw you all alone," he replied.

Ino nodded, "That's because I had lost sight of my father and was looking for him."

Her explanation made him recall how frantic she was when they had met. Even before he had summoned his clones and seeing Sakura's almighty wrath. Just thinking about it made Naruto shiver. In his trail of thought, he hadn't noticed Ino was still standing there looking very awkward.

"Ino…" Naruto whispered in a low voice.

His sudden mood change made the platinum blonde a little scared, to be honest.

"Y-yes?" Was her small reply.

Ino saw a sharp, serious look in his deep blue eyes.

"I'll protect you." He said with full intent in his voice.

"…!"

The Yamanaka teen gaped at what had just been said.

All she could do was nod in response.

Ino herself didn't understand what she was thinking. It was as if his words had put her conscious to rest as he laughed, and grabbed her hand, leading her out of the house.

- Ichi: End. -