Eight year old Sakura stopped with a frown, already knowing who it was. She adjusted her fairy wings a bit as she let out a big sigh. Her short pink hair was pushed back by a crown and the pink dress sparkled as she turned around.
"Naruto!" she cried, pointing her wand at him. "I told you already that I can't go trick-or-treating with you!"
Naruto came to a stop, a frown dotting his face. "But... I thought you said that because I didn't have a costume! So I made one!"
Sakura glanced at his costume with a raised eyebrow. He had shredded the bottom of some old pants, tied a sash around his waist and thrown on a white t-shirt. His blond hair was hidden under something that resembled a scarf and he had one eye covered with a circle of black fabric tied to a string.
"What are you supposed to be?" Sakura asked.
Naruto looked down at himself. "A pirate..."
Sakura eyed him skeptically and then let out a sigh. "Whatever... just, don't let my parents see you, okay?"
Naruto smiled broadly and followed after her. It was really his only chance in the year to play with the other children. With everyone in costumes, it was hard to tell who was who so he could escape the constant glare of the adults. And so long as he was with Sakura, then the other kids might not be as mean to him.
She ran ahead, not waiting for him so he had to hurry to keep up. Not that that was hard, he was practically skipping as they moved towards the academy where the rest of the children had assembled.
Ino turned around first and the two girls simply stared at each other with open mouths.
"YOU!" they yelled at each other, each pointing at the other's exact replica of her Halloween costume.
"You said you were going to be a princess!" Sakura cried.
"I am! I'm a fairy princess!" Ino yelled back.
"So am I!"
While the two girls bickered, Naruto looked nervously at the rest of the group. He didn't recognize most of them but they knew who he was.
"Who invited the loser?" one of them said.
Sakura paused momentarily in her fighting to turn to the boy. "I did. You got a problem with that?" The boy looked at her for a moment before shaking his head.
"You can't just invite someone to join our group," another girl piped in. "He has to prove himself worthy."
"Eh?" Naruto asked, scratching his head. "What do you mean?"
The girl looked back at her friends with a nod. "You have to pass a test."
Naruto turned quickly to Sakura, hoping she would say something when his greatest fear was realized. From around the corner, the great Uchiha Sasuke had appeared and most of the girls there had quickly dropped what they were doing to lavish attention on him. He was sure he'd lost Sakura for the rest of the night.
"Unless you're chicken..." the girl started, obviously more intent on tormenting Naruto then anything else.
Naruto's head whipped back. "Chicken! I'm not afraid of anything!!"
The girl smile and whispered something to the rest of the group. They nodded and beckoned Naruto to follow them. They led him down a few winding roads, away from the rest of the crowd until it was only them standing in front of a giant house.
"This is the most haunted house in the entire village," the girl said. "No one goes near it on Halloween because the only people inside are ghosts. If they catch you, they'll lock you up in their basement until you become their ghost servant."
Naruto nodded mutely, completely buying into the story the girl was telling him.
"But, if you go inside and can find some candy," she said, "then we'll let you go out with us tonight."
Naruto looked at the huge house with a frown. He believed in ghosts, any rational person would. But he wasn't afraid of them, though, not really.
"So? Are you going or not?"
Naruto nodded and quickly pulled himself up the wall. The number one hyperactive ninja of Konoha was not going to let a little thing like ghosts stop him. The rest of the group quickly hurried around the wall, watching as he disappeared over it.
Naruto landed on the ground with a soft thud. Looking around, he realized he was in the middle of a garden. The October moon reflected on a koi pond and a light breeze wove through the dying leaves on the trees. Using the ninja skills he had learned in the academy, Naruto deftly avoided making any noise as he climbed up onto the porch. He snuck up to the shoji door on the side and slid it open only to find himself face to face with a ghost.
With a yelp, Naruto fell backwards and landed roughly on his back. The ghost, however, appeared to have been frightened more since it took off running. A few seconds later Naruto heard a loud bang that could only be a very solid thing hitting the ground.
Cautiously, he snuck up to the door and looked inside, scanning the hallway. Near the end the ghost was sitting on the floor rubbing its ankle.
"Umm... are you okay?" Naruto asked tentatively. He didn't know ghosts could get hurt. The ghost nodded a few times and stood up. "Hey! You're not a ghost! I've seen you before... you go to the academy too!"
The little girl bobbed her head a bit and then started to step backwards in retreat.
"Wait!" Naruto cried. "Did the ghosts capture you?"
She paused. "Ghosts?"
"Yeah, they said that there were ghosts living here," Naruto recited. "And that if they catch you, they'll lock you up in their house until you become their servant."
The little girl let out a small giggle. "That's not true... this is my house."
Naruto's eyes opened up wide. "All of it? Wow!" He paused. "Hey... what was your name?"
She started to tap her fingers together. "Hin... Hinata."
"Hi! I'm Naruto!"
"I know," she said before blushing and twiddling her thumbs a bit more.
"Why aren't you out trick-or-treating with everyone?" he asked.
Hinata frowned a bit. "I'm not allowed... my father said... I should stay home and train..."
Naruto frowned. "But every kid goes out on Halloween!"
"But... I don't even have anyone... to go with..."
Naruto nodded. "Yeah neither did I. Well until this stupid dare..." He paused for a moment and his eyes lit up. "I've got a great idea!!"
Close to ten minutes later, the group of kids outside was a getting a bit nervous. They didn't really want to have to explain how they had lost Naruto, even if their parents didn't like him. Plus, they knew this house was not inhabited by ghosts but by the equally scary Hyuuga family.
The door suddenly opened and Naruto came spilling out. He started to run towards them, waving his hands frantically.
"RUN! IT'S COMING TO GET US!"
The kids looked at him with pure fear that was only magnified when a sheet covered ghost came out the door. Its arms were outstretched and though it wasn't saying anything, the kids were frozen in fear. What finally broke them was the fact that it came right at them despite the lack of eyeholes in the sheet.
The group of kids screamed and took off running while Naruto stayed behind and laughed. Hinata came up to him slowly and took the sheet off her head. She looked at him for a moment before she giggled a bit herself.
"That was great! Thanks a lot!" Naruto smiled, finally collecting himself. "So you want to go out now and get some more candy?"
Hinata looked back at the door with a frown. "Ano... I really can't but..." She paused and reached into her pocket. She pulled out a few pieces of sugar candy and held them out.
"You should have these," she whispered.
He looked up her with a smile. "Thanks! This is the first time I ever got candy on Halloween!"
Naruto looked up and saw Sakura standing at the end of the road surrounded by a crowd of sobbing classmates.
"WHAT DID YOU DO!?"
Naruto put a hand to the back of his head. "Ummm... well you see..."
And he took off running. Sakura was only a few feet behind him, waving her wand like it was a sword. Hinata waited until they had completely faded out of view before popping back inside her house. She looked at the sheet in her hands with a smile and clutched it to her chest before shuffling back to her room.