Naruto had a problem. He had a very big problem.
"I think I floated from down there?" He asked himself while taking a glance down the stretch of river. Nothing but dozens of trees greeted his eyes. He squinted them together to achieve a better view but his results were lacking. The trees merely became more blurred versions of themselves.
He turned his head to the left only to receive the same view. He repeated the process of squinting his eyes again, getting similar results to his first attempt. Confusion swept through him while he began to scratch the back of his neck.
"Is everything okay?" The boy turned around to see Tiffania staring at him with worried eyes. A large grin immediately sprung up on his face while he shook his hands in front of his face.
"Yes! Everything is perfect!" The boy shouted before flashing the girl two thumbs up. His reply seemed to appease her as she sent him a smile of her own before continuing to look around. With the girl's attention off of him, the smile dropped from Naruto's face. In its place now stood panic.
"Where the hell am I?" The blond thought to himself while staring at the river. A few minutes ago he had been ecstatic to return home with his new friend. Now, he had no idea where home was.
"I should've paid more attention in geography class." He groaned to himself before sucking in a deep breath. Panicking now would get him nowhere. He needed to keep a clear mind. Straight thinking was his best ally at the moment.
"Okay, let's try to figure out where we are." The blond thought to himself before glancing around at his surroundings. His eyes were met with trees and trees … and more trees and even more trees. A few weeks ago, if he had been in this exact situation, this would send him into a panic. Now though, his mind was clear.
"Trees mean I'm still somewhere in Fire Country. That's the only place with this many trees … I think." The blond frowned at the afterthought. He shook away the frown with a rapid shake of his head before slapping at his cheek. There was no time to doubt now. He had to go with his gut.
"I had to travel Northeast to get here. I think the river flows to the west so that means we have to go east!" The blond shouted in his head before turning to Tiffania.
"We have to turn east!" The girl nearly jumped out of her skin at the sudden sound of Naruto shouting. She turned around and saw that the blond was now pointing at her with a large grin spread across his face.
"East?" She parroted and received a rapid head nod in return. She could do nothing but nod along and trust her new friend. She was clueless in her knowledge of where they were heading.
"Do you have all your stuff?" The boy's question stopped her nodding and made her turn to look down at the ground behind her. There sat a bulging green bag full of her belongings. Her eyes scanned over the visible contents for a few moments before she nodded to herself. Everything seemed to be in order. If anything was missing, it could be replaced. Living in the forest had left with an impermanence attitude toward her stuff.
"Great. Let's go." She offered the boy a quick smile before reaching down to pick up the bag. She stopped herself when a tan hand came into view and grab the bag out of her reach. The sudden appearance of the hand shocked her and nearly made her yelp as she looked up to identify its owner. She was surprised to find Naruto was now standing on front of her, holding her bag over his shoulder.
"I thought…" The girl turned her attention behind her and saw that Naruto was still standing in his original spot. Her attention switched forward to check if the Naruto holding her bag was still there. Her eyes widened when she saw that the blond was indeed still in front of her. Her attention switched between the two blonds over the course of several moments while her eyes grew with each switch.
"Are you ok-"
"That is so cool. How did you do tha-" Tiffania came rushing toward to the Naruto closest to her while the words came rushing out of her mouth. Unfortunately for the both of them, the girl misjudged the distance separating them and smacked head first into the boy. Instead of rebounding off the boy, she was surprised to find that her vision instead became consumed with smoke while she faced little resistance. She managed to slow herself over the next second before turning to look back at the Narutos. The blond duo was now nowhere in sight. Only a single Naruto stood staring at her with a small smile on his face while her bag of belongings sat back on the ground. The shock on her face grew in tandem with the blond's smile as she stared.
"There were two of you. What happened?" The answer to the girl's question appeared with a puff of smoke next to Naruto. When the smoke cleared, an exact copy of the boy could be seen standing by his side. The clone's existence was short-lived when the original Naruto slammed his fist into the clone's temple, expelling it in a cloud of smoke.
"There are my clones. They aren't the strongest…" Naruto trailed off when Tiffania appeared in his face in an instant. The girl's eyes were nearly glowing while she stared up at him in amazement.
"That's amazing. I've never seen somebody make clones." Naruto couldn't help the light blush and chuckle that left him at the girl's words. Heavy praise wasn't something he received on a regular basis, making him not quite use to receiving it.
"Yeah … it is, isn't?" He responded while scratching the back of his neck. He became aware of the small distance between his face and Tiffania. Her eyes were still filled with wonder and it didn't seem like she had any plans on moving. A nervous tension began to build up within his stomach while his mind attempted to conjure up a way to diffuse the situation.
"Well, let's get on the road!" Naruto shouted a little too loud while creating another clone to replace the one Tiffania had destroyed. The creation of the new clone managed to break away the girl's focus on him, a fact that filled him with much relief. The clone reached down and picked up the bag before turning to face the duo.
"Ready?" Tiffania responded with a strong nod of her head. She didn't want to admit it but the amount of excitement in her was greater than anything she had ever experienced. Even if the duo spent the next months wandering out lost in a forest, she couldn't wait for it to happen.
"Alright! Let's go then."
They were lost. She knew that they were lost but that didn't ruin her mood. Not much could get her down with Naruto around.
"Should be a little more this way." She turned her head toward the blond when she heard him mumbling. She had to stop herself from giggling at the sheer confidence radiating off of him. After an hour of walking aimlessly, sometimes even managing to back track to their previous locations, the girl had been able to deduce that the blond wasn't so sure of where they were headed. He had managed to keep the atmosphere light though with his bright attitude and jokes. If there was one thing the boy was good at, it was making her smile.
He wasn't so good at geography, though.
"Hey Naruto." A rush of panic shot through the boy at the sound of his name. Had he been discovered? Had the girl finally realized that he had no clue where they were headed? Was she going to be angry with him?
"What's being a ninja like?" The boy blinked before relief flooded through him. He hadn't been caught … yet.
"Being a ninja is the best thing ever!" Naruto shouted in response. "Everything is great … except for D-rank missions. All the other times, you're learning cool stuff like making clones or you get really cool missions. One time, I got to help a princess save her country."
"Really?" Tiffania responded while that same look of admiration overcame her eyes again.
"Yeah, really. It was pretty hard." Naruto began to go over the basics of his time in the Land of Snow with some slight embellishments. Instead of escaping prison with the help of his time, he managed to do so with the use of some shadow clones and great ingenuity on his part. Plus, his final fight with Doto didn't end with him in the hospital but with him standing victoriously over the man's unconscious body.
Tiffania ate it all up. Even with the details he didn't change, the girl loved every bit of what he said. Every few moments, she would ask some question that would end up prolonging their conversations. By the time he finished telling the full story, the two had been talking for a full hour.
"That sounded amazing but really dangerous. Are all missions that dangerous?" She asked with worry bleeding into her voice. She didn't want to lose her new friend to the dangers of these ninja missions.
"Sometimes but you don't have to worry about me. I can't handle myself." The blond flashed her a bright smile along with a thumbs up. The gesture seemed to appease her worry a little as she gave him a small nod before returning her attention to her surroundings. She blinked in shock when she realized where she was. Naruto was in a similar state as he looked upon the new landscape.
"Is that a beach?" Tiffania questioned. Naruto nodded his head because there was indeed a beach standing in front of them. A quick look behind him showed the treeline of the forest they had walked out of.
"Do we have to go over the water to get to your village?" The feeling of someone's eyes on him had never been so intense in his life. Naruto could feel himself begin to sweat despite the innocent and curious gaze of the girl in front of him. A large part of him knew, despite his supposed lack of geographical skill, that Konoha was nowhere near a beach. Yet a part of him, an even larger part, demanded he continued his journey over the water.
"I think so." His hasty reply was met with a nod and a smile from Tiffania. The smile didn't stay for very long when the girl turned to face the water once again. The curves of her lips twisted downward while her eyes ran over the choppy waves of the beach.
"How are we going to get over the wat-" Her words turned into an incomprehensible shriek when she was lifted high off of her feet. She looked down and saw that she was now In Naruto's arms. A quick look in front of her showed her that they were approaching the water at a swift pace.
"I don't have a change in clothes." The girl shouted as they came closer and closer to the water. When the boy didn't slow down, she closed her eyes tight in resignation. She had to accept that she would be making the rest of the journey soaking wet.
Surprisingly, the water never came. After several seconds of having her eyes closed without getting wet, the girl opened her eyes. She gasped when she looked down and saw that she was overtop of the water. She watched Naruto's feet slam on its surface as if it was solid ground. With each step he took, she thought they were doomed to fall in yet it never happened.
"Waterwalking. Another awesome part of being a ninja." Naruto shouted over the rushing wind of their movements. Tiffania glanced down at his face and saw that the boy had one of the biggest grins on his face yet. Despite the fact he had given her a heart attack by picking her up, she found herself returning the grin with one of her own. The grin morphed into laughter as the sprinkle of water tickled at her feet and the wind left her hair blowing in the wind.
Naruto really did know how to make her smile.
AN: Yes, I'm continuing this fic! It lives! For ground rules, this will be a romance heavy fanfiction. It will be almost 100% focused on the development of Naruto/Tiffania relationship. Second, it will take place in the Naruto universe. I know some will be disappointed by that but I wanted to do the fic justice. Last, chapters will straddle that 2k-3k area. I'm working on six fics at the time and I don't want to get swamped in writing too much.
Anyway, hope you all enjoyed the chapter. Review with any questions, concerns, comments, etc.