Note: I had expected this to be about 2 pages, and then it grew, and grew, and grew... Please note that I proof read this myself, and am currently looking for a proof reader
The Best Time Of Year
---The Best Time of the Year---
While most kids' favorite day of the year was their birthday or Christmas, Naruto's favorite day was, without a doubt, Halloween.
He discovered this miracle holiday when he was five. He first noticed strange costumes and decorations being put up in store windows. Things like clown outfits, princess dresses, vampire get ups, and Chuunin, Jounin, and ANBU outfits that could fit young kids. Things like brightly coloured bags, fake spiders, skeletons and bats, black and orange silly string, and strangely shaped flashlights.
He did the normal thing he did to find out what was going on in town (when the old man wasn't readily available to explain it to him). He eavesdropped.
He still didn't quite understand what all the grownups where saying. Something about a holiday coming from 'over there', and about how exited their kids where, and how their kids where going to look adorable in the costumes. Failing to understand what was going on from the adults, but understanding the event centered around kids, he headed to the playground.
Sitting on his swing, he pretended to be invisible while listening to the exited chatter that was around him. Apparently this holiday coming up was called 'Halloween'. On Halloween night you get to dress up and go to peoples houses. If you say 'trick or treat!', the people of the house would give you candy.
Naruto slowly made his way to his small apartment, thoughts of Halloween flying through his head. He slowly came to a stop in front of a store with costumes in the window. He stood there indecisive for a few moments, until he was roughly pushed aside by a hurried citizen.
"Watch it kid!"
Naruto gave the guy the best evil eye a five year old could give. Then he glanced once more and the shops window and decided to risk going in.
His eyes grew with wonder as he looked at the wide variety of costumes available. He snapped out of his trance as a shout broke the stillness of the shop.
"Oh!! Daddy, daddy! I wanna wear this one!" a blue eyed girl with short blond hair was pointing at one of the ANBU costumes hanging from the rack. The father, a tall man (to a five year old), with long hair the same colour as his daughter. He pretended to hum and haw over the outfit as the little girl watched anxiously.
"I don't know. It's rather expensive," upon hearing the mans' words something inside Naruto's mind clicked and his stomach felt cold.
"Come on daddy!" the little girl begged, and then proceeded to give the age old tactic of 'kicked puppy eyes'. The man gave a friendly sounding laugh and admitted his defeat as his daughter cheered.
The rest of the conversation between the girl and the man had not reached Naruto. He had had a revelation. In order to get one of these nice costumes he had to use money. The only money he had was set aside for such things as food and rent. He stared blankly at the price tag of the costume he was standing in front of. He didn't even notice as the man and girl were walking out of the store with their new purchase, the girl chatting excitedly. The mans' smile faltered for a split second as he passed the young boy. Then they were gone and the store was quite once more. For a moment.
"Hey! You! Kid!" Naruto blinked and looked at the shouting person, "Yeah, you! What the hell are you doing in here? Get out you damn brat!" he wasn't sure if it was the store owner, or just a sales person for the store, and he didn't care. He took a risk coming in, and had stayed too long to be safe. Making a dash for the exit he suddenly screeched to a halt. On one of the racks was a ghost costume, which consisted of a sheet with two holes for eyes and a painted on smile. Growing exited once more, he continued to the exit as the shop keep began to shout again.
---Ghosts, orange smiley faces, and icky things---
Once he was out of the store he ran straight home. When he was inside he bounced up and down while he tried to decide what he wanted to do first.
"Costume!" he suddenly shouted, then made a mad dash to his bed room. Tripping twice on random items left out on the floor. He gave a triumphant laugh has he pulled his white sheet off his (unmade) bed. Sure, his spare blanket was pink but it would be worth the embarrassment. Besides, it was almost winter so it would be covered by his comforter soon anyways!
Running back out of his bedroom, tripping a few times more, he dropped the sheet beside his kitchen table. Then he went and pulled a box over full of paints, sparkles, constructions paper and a wide variety of other art junk the Hokage gave Naruto. And then promptly regretted giving as he saw the mess Naruto was able create (all over the walls, the floor, and somehow the ceiling).
Digging through the box Naruto gave a loud 'Ah, ha!' as he found what he was looking for. Pulling out a pair of scissors (the old man had given him a pair of safety scissors, but Naruto found them to be useless and had succeeded in his quest to find a real pair.). Naruto held the scissors over his head for a moment and he basked in his victory.
He then picked up the nice white sheet and cut a hole around the middle of the blanket. He looked with satisfaction at the triangle-ish shaped hole that made one ghost eye. Wanting to make sure the eyes where even, he put the blanket on and looked at his apartment through one ghost eye. He gave a happy giggle. Pin wheeling his arms around until they found the outside of the blanket-soon-to-be-ghost-costume, his hands felt around his head until the felt his other eye. Giving another laugh he pulled the blanket off, making sure not to let go of the spot the next eye hole would go.
Once more holding the scissors, Naruto cut out another triangle-ish eye. He once more donned his ghost costume. Standing up, he looked out of his slightly miss-matched eye holds and took a step forward. And promptly tripped on the sheets.
Naruto gave a surprised squeak and his attempts to catch himself ended up with him getting entangled in the blankets. Struggling to put his costume back on right, while uttering words a kid his age had no right knowing, he looked once more out at his room through the oddly shaped holes.
"Damnit! It's too long!!" He sat there and huffed for a minute before a picture of the scissors came to his mind. Looking around he spotted where he had dropped the desired item.
Careful not to get tangled up once more he retrieved the scissors. Sitting on his knees, he made sure he wasn't resting on the sheet. His arms poking out of the sides of his half way made costume; he peered through the eye holes, gently took hold of the front of the costume and quickly cut a large portion of the bottom. Standing up, he gave a satisfied smile as the bottom of the sheet no longer touched the floor. So what if now half of his shoes could be seen and if the edge was jagged? He proceeded to do the same to the back half of the sheet.
Now done he set the scissors on the table, and then started to spin around wildly, enjoying the feeling of the sheets flying around him. After the dizziness got to him, he walked like a drunk back to the table, laughing childishly. Taking the costume off he placed it carefully on the table, smoothing it out until the face area was perfectly flat. Still slightly dizzy, he made his way back over to the box filled with craft supplies. Digging around he found some black paint and a rather beat up brush.
Back at the table and sitting in front of his costume, he scrunched his face in thought. How should he make the ghosts face look?
"Ghost go 'OooOoooOoooh!', right?" he asked himself. "Right! He should have a moaning face!" nodding to himself, Naruto carefully opened the bottle of black paint, dipped the brush in the thick substance and started to paint a wavy 'O' in the area he thought the ghost mouth should go. The tip of his tongue peeked out of his mouth as he concentrated.
"There!" he proclaimed proudly as he looked fondly at his work. "Now I need to..." Naruto muttered to himself, trailing off. Jumping off the chair he began to explore his apartment. "Where is iAh, ha!"
The boy held up the paper bag. He knew he had one somewhere in the apartment. The old man always said he should throw stuff out, but even as a kid he knew that as soon as you threw something out, you need it.
Bring the paper bag that he got at who-knows-what store, to the kitchen he tossed it on the floor. Once more he dug through the craft box, bringing out more paint, sparkles, glue, and random items like interesting buttons and cotton balls.
He sat in front of the plain bag surrounded by his supplies for a full ten minutes, trying to decide how to decorate the bag. He wanted it to look like one of those bags that you could buy in the store.
Now, what did those store bags have that he should put on his? Bats. Spiders. Skeletons. Um. Weird orange things with smiling faces on them. What were those things suppose to be anyways?
Finally, he decided what he wanted to do. Grabbing the orange paint he began to paint one of those strange smiling faces on the front of his bag, as close as he could remember them looking. After that he began to paint small bats and spiders on the space remaining. Finished with that side, he began to blow on the wet spots in an attempt to make it dry faster.
"Good enough," he nodded to himself with a grin as he tested the paint, finding it still sticky. Flipping it over he then painted a large ghost, and then some more spiders and bats. Picking up the finished work (a slight imprint of the one side on the floor for the old man to groan over later), Naruto gave a bright smile. To him, it was the best looking bag out there.
"Now I can go Trick or Treating!" he proclaimed happily, when something else dawned on him. "When is Halloween?"
Naruto had to do something he hated. Wait. Apparently Halloween was on the 31. And that was still almost a whole week away!
He filled his time by admiring the blue eyed ghost in the only mirror in his small apartment. And the blue eyed ghost admired the little boy in the sheet with holes for eyes and a painted mouth in return. He had also decided that the bag needed sparkles. And now the sides of the bags where covered in a multitude of shinny colours. And the Hokage had another mess to mutter over the next time he visited.
Finally the day came. All the kids in Konoha buzzed with excitement, some wandering around town already in their costumes. Many of the teenagers where having last minute meetings to look over their nightly plans (did they have enough eggs? where was the best place to scare some of the younger kids?).
Naruto spent his morning in the usual way. He went to the playground and sat on, what he believed to be, his swing. Only this time instead of watching the other children with a longing look, half wishing to be noticed half wishing to be ignored, he was smiling to himself. Every now and then he would look with wonder at some of the costumes the other kids brought to show off. But mostly he just listened to them talk about where the best trick or treating was going to be, and made plans on how to hit as many houses as possible.
For lunch, Naruto decided to treat himself to ramen. After all, he had saved money by making his costume and treat bag. He deserved it! With this thought in mind, he headed to the Ichiraku. Outside of the shop he stopped and stared in awe and the decorations that had been put up sometime during the night. It looked like a haunted house.
"Hey! Hey!" he nearly shouted once in the shop and sitting down, "Miso ramen, please!"
"Ah. Naruto," the ramen stall owner said in his forever jolly voice. "You're here earlier then usual. Beating the rush?" Before Naruto had the chance to answer, the cook had gone to make Naruto's order.
As he waited for his meal, Naruto looked around at the decorations. His legs swung back and forth in excitement. Finally his food came and he happily dug in.
"Like the decorations?" the ramen man asked, and Naruto replied with a rapid nodding of his head. The cook gave a laugh. "That's good to hear!" he appeared in thought for a moment. "What are you planning to do tonight?" he asked Naruto with a cautious tone.
"I'm going trick or treating! I made myself a ghost costume! It looks great! You should see it!" Naruto proclaimed proudly, nearly bouncing in his seat.
The chef blinked then gave another laugh. "Well then, you'll have to come show me! I'll even have something for your goody bag!"
"Ah! Really? Really! That's great!" Naruto this time did shout, and then went back to blissfully devouring his food.
The cook watched Naruto eat for a few minutes, and then his eyes trailed to the customers that were slowly trickling in.
"Hey, Naruto," He said to get the young boys attention. When he was sure Naruto was listening to him, he lowered his voice so the others couldn't hear. "How about this Naruto? You don't let anyone else know it's you under the costume, huh?" Naruto gave him a curious look, "You know, see if they can guess who it is? Kinda like a joke!"
Naruto looked at the ramen man for a moment, and then a smile slowly spread over his face.
"Heh heh heh! That sounds like fun!" Naruto spoke in his normal voice.
"Now, remember. It's our secret!"
Naruto gave a happy nod.
Shortly after five, Naruto saw from his look out spot by the window that people where starting to go trick or treating. Already wearing his ghost costume, all he had to do was grab his bag and put on his shoes. And, of course, do one more check that his costume looked okay.
Smiling at his reflection in the mirror (though it couldn't be seen), Naruto headed out. He decided not to go to the houses nearest to him, and instead walked to another block. He looked around at the large amount of kids out looking for free goodies with their parents. There where even a few other ghosts (Naruto thought his costume looked much better then theirs). He went to his first stop and knocked on the door.
As it began to open he loudly proclaimed, "Trick or treat!"
The lady on the other side of the door smiled at him. "Well, now! Aren't you a cute ghost!"
Naruto was, needless to say, offended. "I'm not a cute ghost! I'm scary!"
The lady gave a laugh. "Of course, of course! I'm sorry. I just think scary things are cute!" With that said the women dropped two suckers into Naruto's bag.
"Hey, thanks!" He said happily, and gave his bag a little jingle.
The lady looked up, and seemed confused for a minute. She then took a quick glance around as if searching for something. "Hey, little boghost. Where is your parent? You're not out alone are you?" She said, her voice starting to sound slightly cross.
"Huh." Naruto uttered, not sure what to say, slightly shrinking back.
"You go straight home and get one of your parents to go with you! It's dangerous to be out alone at night at your age! Even if there are lots of other parents out tonight!"
The lady smiled again. "Good boy!" then her attention was diverted as a group of kids (with an adult watching over them) came to the door.
Naruto slowly walked back to the sidewalk. He didn't have anyone to watch over him. And he didn't want an entire night of questions and comments like that. It didn't take him long to figure out a plan. He spotted a large group of kids going from house to house, comparing treats that they got from each stop.
He spotted the girl he saw in the costume store. He could tell it was her despite her ANBU costume because of the hair colour and length. Not to mention her voice. There was along some guy whose head looked like a pineapple (dressed as a cat), some fat kid (dressed as one of those smiling orange things), some kid with messier hair then his (dressed as a Jounin), a girl dressed like little red ridding hood, a boy dressed in a black cloak, a female vampire, and a werewolf. And most important to Naruto, a grown up who looked like he'd rather be at home sleeping, and not paying close attention to the group.
He went up with them to the next house that they were hitting. From what he could see of their bags they hadn't been out long. After the 'ooohs' and 'awes' of the adult handing out candy they left and went to the next house. Naruto's presence was accepted before it was even really noticed.
The first to notice and comment was the pineapple head.
"Hey," he started, liked he'd rather be at home too then out here getting free candy. "what are you doing?"
"What's it look like? I'm trick or treating!" The pineapple head just gave a snort and continued on his way.
"Hey!" The blond haired girl gave a sudden shout, making everyone jump. "Chouji! You're not suppose to eat the candy 'till are parents check them!"
"But I'm hungry." The boy decked in orange claimed.
"Ino's right, Chouji." The adult said, and then pulled out a small bag of chips from his pocket. "Here. You're mom figured this would happen."
"Alright!" The boy shouted happily as he took his chips and began to eat, again. The girl shook her head, but remained quite, while a couple of the other kids giggled. This passed without Naruto's notice as the grown ups eyes landed on Naruto and stared for a moment, making him shuffle. Then he stood up and proceeded to look like he'd rather be sleeping.
"Ghost," the girl dressed like riding hood started, "where'd you get that bag?"
"I made it!" Naruto said and smiled with pride (though no one could tell).
"Really?" she said with a curious tone. "I like it. It's shiny." Naruto's smile grew and the bag covered with the sum total of two bottles of sparkles glittered in the remaining light of day.
The evening went on and night soon arrived to greet the group of children with bags so full they could barely carry them. Even the lazy boy was looking slightly pleased.
The guy dressed as a werewolf began to howl at the moon that was slowly rising as they made their way to the center of town. The boy with messy hair joined him, and actually beat out the werewolf.
The girl dressed as a vampire started to chase around the girl dressed as red riding hood, threatening to drink her blood. Riding hood ran in circles and giggled insanely. The boy in the black cloak went 'swishing' everywhere, while Ino tried to convince Chouji that he should wait to eat his candy. Pineapple head and the adult looked like they just wanted to go home. Naruto just basked in it all.
They group reached the center of town (much to the adults' relief) and the kids (minus one) grasped in awe. There was about a hundred of the orange smiley faces in a pile. But they were smaller then normal and didn't have smiles carved into them yet.
A women stood on a stand next to the pile and shouted in a loud voice. "Alright everyone! It's time for use to carve pumpkins! We have all the stuff you need, and people to help you if needed. You can carve anything you want on your pumpkin! And don't worry, there's enough here for you all, kids!"
The children buzzed in excitement as they mad their way to find a seat on the multitude of benches that where prepared for this event. The adults formed groups of their own and discussed what items of candy their kids had gotten that would end up in their stomachs instead.
Naruto got shuffled in the rush and ended up sitting away from the group he had traveled with that night. Instead he sat next to kid dressed in a weird red and blue outfit, and a pink haired girl dressed as a princess. The carving tools where already waiting on the table, and the pumpkins where soon passed out. The tops where already cut off for the kids. Naruto turned his around in his hands as he admired it.
"So it's a pumpkin," he muttered to himself.
"Alright, kids! What we do first is take off the top, that's right, and scoop out the insides!" This was followed by many kids making grossed out noises and laughing at the feeling of pumpkin insides. "Then we take a marker and draw what we want the face to look like! Then we cute it out and presto! There's a volunteer at each table if you have any questions or need any help!" The women then stood there and watched with a smile as the children carved their pumpkins.
Naruto gave a laugh as he scooped out a large handful of pumpkin innards and tossed them into the bowl provided. At another table someone missed the bowl, and a pumpkin guts fight erupted. The woman jumped down from her stand to help the caretaker of the table calm things down. Naruto finished cleaning out his pumpkin and glanced at the girl beside him. And then blinked. She was still working slowly working on her pumpkin insides. Picking out the few seeds and placing them on a napkin that was suppose to be used to wipe yourself up.
"What are you doing?" he asked curiously, startling the girl who then blushed and lowered her head.
"I'm picking out the seeds. My mom likes to cook them and eat them."
"Oh! That's neat! Eh heh. If I'd've know, I would have given you mine!"
The girl looked up in surprise and gave Naruto a brilliant smile, which made his heart skip a jump. "That's okay, thanks! This will be more then enough."
"So, uh, what kinda face are you going to put on your pumpkin?" He asked in an attempt to start a conversation. "I'm going to put a scary face on mine!"
The pink haired girl gave a little laugh. "I'm going to put a smiling face on mine."
A few minutes of silence passed as they drew the faces they wanted on their pumpkins.
"Do you like...pumpkins?" Naruto asked, feeling rather lame.
The girl gave another smile and nodded. "Yeah! I like the colour orange. It's bright and warm and can catch anyone's attention. And you put a candle in the pumpkin and it can light your way!" the pink haired girl stated.
Naruto felt his cheeks get hot, and felt glad no one could see his face. He liked this girl, she was nice.
"So, you like pumpkins?" she turned the question back on him.
"Yeah. The face is always the same." He replied in a serious voice.
She looked startled for a moment, and then gave a giggle. "That's true."
The two of them then turned their attention to carefully cutting out their pumpkins. Naruto finished his and held it up to admire. It looks a lot like his ghost costume's face. He turned once more to the girl, wanting to show her his finished product. He stopped and watched as she bit her lip in concentrations, working on the toothy smile she had drawn.
"That looks good." he said truthfully.
"Thanks." she took a look at his. "Yours is cute!"
Naruto decided she was another person who thought scary things where cute.
"Now I just need to add the finishing touch!" She stated while Naruto watched curiously. The pink hair princess took off her tiara and placed it on the pumpkin.
Both of them started giggling.
"Now she's a princess!" the girl gasped.
"Then I'll guess I'll have to protect her!" Naruto stated proudly.
"You can't protect her!"
"Huh? Why not?" he asked, feeling slightly hurt.
"Because you're a ghost! Princesses are protected by knights, not ghosts!" She said with a know it all voice.
"Then I'll just have to become a knight!" he stated proudly.
She gave him a curious look. "How do you become a knight?"
Naruto blinked. "I...don't know.."
"Well," she said, her know it all voice coming back. "you can't become a knight to protect a princess if you don't have a princess to protect, so then I guess you'll just have to take her!" the pink haired girl held out the crowned princess pumpkin to Naruto. Once again his face felt hot.
"You're...giving her to me?" the girl nodded, and Naruto had to blink rapidly to keep the tears at bay. "Then I'll give you him!" Naruto suddenly said loudly, drawing a few stares. He handed the moaning pumpkin to her. She blushed the same colour as her hair.
"He may just be a ghost right now, but I swear someday he'll become a knight and make you happy!" she gave him another brilliant smile.
It was a good day.
---On My Way---
The pumpkin carving over (with minimum chaos), Naruto began to head home. Through the crowd he spotted the group he had come with. All of them looked as exhausted as he felt. He briefly considered joining back up with them, but then remembered the ramen shop. He had told the ramen man that he'd show him his costume! Carefully holding the plastic bag which held the princess pumpkin he quickly made his way to Ichiraku.
Once there he entered the shop. It was far past the busy hour, and there where only two costumers left in the store.
"Ha! You're here! I was beginning to think you weren't coming!" The Ichiraku owner stated in his loud voice, that rivaled (and sometimes surpassed) Naruto's.
"Of course I came! You said you were going to give me something!" Naruto said in his equally loud voice, making the other costumers there shake their heads in amusement (or disgusts. Loud noises aren't friends to drunken people).
"Of course, of course! Did you have fun trick or treating?" he asked.
"Uh, huh! I got lots of candy! Like my costume?" he asked as he gave a spin.
"Ah! How cute!" the shops waitress came out of the back and noticed Naruto. Naruto wondered why so many women thought scary things were cute.
"It's not cute," the ramen man chided. "it's quite frightening." Naruto beamed with pride.
"Ah, of course." she nodded with a small smile, and then went to see if the other costumers wanted anything.
Naruto then held up his full bag to show the ramen man. "See? See? I made it myself!"
"That's, uh, very good." he said as he eyed the amount of sparkles. The bottom of Naruto's ghost costume now had a sparkle of its own from the bag. "Now, I promised to give you something, so I better give it to you before I forget!"
Naruto's eyes lit up with excitement and he ran to the counter. The chef held out to Naruto a little bag decorated with dancing skeletons. Naruto carefully put down his bag so it wouldn't spill, and the pumpkin so it wouldn't get injured. Eagerly he looked inside the small bag.
"Wow!" Inside was a couple of packs of instant ramen and a large chocolate bar. "Thanks!"
The ramen man gave a chuckle. "I'm glad the night went well for you. Now it's late so you should get home." And with that he went and started a conversation with another attention of the restraint, who looked not too pleased with the attention.
Naruto got another surprise when he got home.
"Ah! Old man! What are you doing here?"
The 'old man' gave him a smile. "I heard that you went trick or treating. Did you have fun?" and then the third Hokage heard a retelling of Naruto's Halloween experience. During which he checked Naruto's candy (which Naruto claimed he was doing so he could steal the good stuff for himself), and commented on the mess the making of his trick or treat bag made.
Soon enough the Hokage left for his own home and Naruto's costume and bag was hung carefully in the closet. The Third had also put a candle in Naruto's pumpkin and lit it for him. It was now gently watching over him through the dark as he crawled into his bed and fell asleep.
Note: It annoyed me that Christmas stories where being put up already. Not that I hate Christmas or anything, I just think it should wait until Halloween has at least been over for one day! So I decided to write a short Halloween story for Nartuo. And I got this.