The soap fell from Naruto's lax fingers.
His jaw dropped open. His eyes shut, then opened again. He had not seen a mirage.
Again, a certain part of his anatomy reacted, almost as if it had a mind of its own. A chill ran through his body, as if he had stepped on a live wire.
"Naruto-kun…… I've been following you…… waiting until you were c-c-cornered…."
Hinata held Naruto's pants in her arms. That was trouble. Even though he had scrubbed his body, the clothing was still rich in pheromones. But, at least the suspended trousers covered up part of her body.
The pants fell to the floor, close enough to still do their damage. Hinata gingerly stepped into the shower with Naruto, who pressed back against one corner.
"Uhhh…… your skills are admirable, Hinata. So is your…." He swallowed, almost saying 'body.' He held his arms out in front of him. "You don't really want to be here. It's pheromones. They are causing this." Hinata must have stayed close enough for the hormones to work, without letting him know that she was there.
She was better than he would have thought...
"I know. I saw Shino's bottle break. I was carrying one too." The white-eyed girl bit her lip, her eyes tormented, but her subsequent smile leaving no doubt what her body wanted.
Naruto but his hands on Hinata's shoulder, holding her back. But, she took them and slid them down to her breasts.
"Yikes!" Naruto moved his hands back to her shoulders, feeling as if he had touched red hot coals. "You have to fight this Hinata. I don't want to hurt you."
Hinata closed her eyes and parted her lips. She trembled, looking like she was trying to resist. But, her willpower was no match for biological imperatives.
"You would never hurt me, Naruto-kun…." She leaned all of her weight towards Naruto, trying to press her body against his. "M-M-Maybe I don't want…… m-m-maybe I don't want to fight this…… I l-" Hinata clamped her mouth shut, then took a step back. Her deepest feelings for Naruto gave her just enough strenght to prevail, if only for a few seconds,
Seeing that brief respite, Naruto tried to slide past Hinata, his back against the shower wall. But, she resumed her attempts.
The anxious ninja tried to think of some trick. Nodding his head, he found one. It might sound bad to her later, but he could explain his reasoning.
"Hinata. This is no place for something so special. Why don't you go wait on my bed in the far room. Don't worry about my clothing. I'll clean that up later."
If she walked past the effects of the pheromones, he could toss out his clothes and put a stop to all this.
Hinata hesitated. Her eyes went wide, but then became sultry. Licking her lips, she said "Time and place don't matter, Naruto-kun…… as long as it's with you…." She bent her neck and bit his arm.
"Owww!" Naruto jumped. When he did, Hinata ducked under his grasp and grasped him in a hug with her arms and legs. Blushing up a storm, Naruto thought of another ploy.
"Well, it matters to me, Hyuuga Hinata. That is, if anything I want matters to you…." He picked her up in his arms. "I'll carry you…."
"Ummm…." Hinata became still for a moment. She clenched her fists. But again, she relaxed, wrapped her arms around Naruto's neck, and began nibbling on his throat. "Hurry!"
When Naruto placed Hinata on her back, cushioned by the pillows on his bed, he quickly ran out of his bedroom and closed the door. Grunting, he slid a heavy piece of furniture in front of the door.
"Now, you stay calm in there!" Naruto admonished Hinata. "I am not about to do anything to take advantage of you!" He sighed, realizing just how excited he had actually felt there for a few moments.
Picking up his clothing, he headed for the nearest window. As he did so, he heard pounding on his bedroom door. Hinata was pretty strong: the large set of drawers teetered on its front legs, almost falling over. But, the pounding became weaker and weaker, then ceased.
Holding his breath, Naruto threw his things out of the window, not watching where they fell.
On the street below, a middle-aged man in a one-piece work suit went about his duty as a refuse collector, pushing a large cylindrical garbage can on wheels. He picked up the discarded clothing…… looked up at the window they had come from…… then shrugged.
He put them in his container.
He was in for some interesting times.
Meanwhile, Naruto stood in the middle of his living room, trying to think how to deal with a very awkward situation.
"Hinata, are you OK? I got rid of all of the clothing. I'm going to go wash my hands. Everything should be fine then."
There was no answer.
"Hinata?" Naruto was worried. She might just be embarrassed, as the pheromones must be wearing off bit by bit. He hoped that she hadn't done anything to herself out of shame.
After washing up, he put her clothing in a neat stack, just in front of the door. Saying a brief prayer, he pushed the furniture out of the way.
"Hinata? Hey, are you there?" Still no answer. "Listen to me Hinata, you did nothing wrong. You weren't the only one acting that way today. Tsunade was too. And Kurenai. All of the girls." The silence stretched on. "I won't tell anyone what happened here today. I promise."
Naruto began to feel very guilty, even though he hadn't done anything wrong. He could only imagine what Hinata must be thinking.
"I've put your clothes in front of the door. I'm going into the other room. If I don't hear anything from you in five minutes, I will check to make certain you are OK.
He heard the door open and closed, then ran his hand through his hair, feeling relieved. Then, it struck him.
He was standing there with nothing on!
"Stay in the bedroom for a few minutes Hinata!" He called out, heading to the dresser.
The door to his apartment flew open.
Kurenai walked in. There were other women in the hallway behind her, but Naruto was too shocked to notice. He covered his nether regions and backed towards the dresser.
"A little privacy, please!" He managed to shout.
"He's in here…… naked," Kurenai said loudly. "And Hinata's in the bedroom!" She began to advance on Naruto, her face flinty and frightening. "If he has taken advantage of her, I'll whiddle him down to two legs instead of three…."
Tsunade pushed her way into the room. Shizune was by her side. Both looked very grim.
Soon, countless women filled the room, backing a naked Naruto into a corner. Suddenly feeling more defiant than sheepish, Naruto moved his hands, turned around, and began rummaging through his drawers. Pulling out some clothes, he remained facing away, but began getting dressed.
"Poor Hinata…." That was Sakura's voice. "That could have been m-m-me…."
"That could have been any of us," Tsunade said. "If anything actually happened. We don't know that yet…."
"We may have gotten here just in time!" Kurenai said, fiercely. "Hinata? Are you OK? Come on out, you're among friends…."
"We won't let anything happen to you." Shizune said, trying to read Naruto's face and posture. He didn't act like he was guilty of any indiscretion.
"Yeh! And we'll let you take the first cut, if you like…." Anko grinned, but her eyes wouldn't have looked out of place on a Hell Hound.
Naruto began to get pissed.
He didn't care how many women faced him down, or how powerful they might be as a whole.
"It's OK to come out Hinata, but you may need to wait a moment. The way everyone is talking, I may need to kick some asses. You probably won't want to see that." He turned to Tsunade first. "I didn't come begging for an A-class mission…."
The Hokage frowned, but her cheeks colored some.
"I didn't give the sperm sample that someone tried to get." He stared at Shizune.
The medical ninja blushed, then looked away.
"I didn't offer to tattoo 'Love God' on someone's privates!" He scowled at Anko.
The dark-haired shinobi just shrugged. It was no big deal.
"I didn't get all hot, then ask Lee if he wanted to watch." He shook his head, catching Sakura's eyes.
The pink-haired girl looked like she wanted to melt and seep between the cracks in the floor.
"What DID you do?" Kurenai said, in no way deterred. "Why isn't Hinata coming out?"
The door opened.
After a few moments, Hinata stepped out, hand at her mouth.
She didn't seem able to look at Naruto. She had a hard time looking anyone else in the face as well.
"Hinata!" Kurenai stepped over to her friend and one time student. "Are you alright. Did he touch you?"
Hinata swallowed hard, then nodded her head.
Everyone in the room gasped, cursed, or shook their heads. Despite that, Naruto still stood tall, daring anyone to blame him for anything. He knew that he had done nothing wrong.
"Yes… he did… but ummm…." Hinata looked away.
The women all began muttering louder and louder. Naruto felt an urge to defend himself, but decided to let Hinata speak.
"He put his hands on my shoulders, to hold me back," Hinata faced the wall, and leaned her head up against it. "I…… ummm…. " Hinata stopped. Tears began to roll down her face. "I put his hands on my…… my…… my breast…… but he took them away…." She shook harder and harder.
Naruto blushed. He took a step towards Hinata. "It's OK, Hinata. You don't have to say anything. Nothing happened, and you didn't do anything wrong. I won't tell them a thing. It's none of their business."
The women all called out questions to Hinata, overwhelming the embarassed girl. Naruto stepped towards the women, putting his arms over his chest. "Leave Hinata alone…."
Hinata shook her head, but looked over at Naruto, grateful for his words. "I tried…… I wanted to…… if he didn'tstop me….." She obviously felt a need to get things off of her chest. And, she wanted to defend Naruto. "He picked me up and carried me into the bedroom…" She trembled. "He put me on the bed, then…."
Kurenai took out a number of shuriken. Shizune placed her hand on the jounin's arm, then shook her head.
"Let her talk," Tsunade said in a voice only Kurenai and Shizune could hear.
"Then he left the room, and blocked me in. I was banging on the door. I wanted…… I wanted to…." Hinata began sobbing. "He…… he wouldn't let me out…."
Naruto set his jaw.
"It was pheromones, if you haven't heard word of that yet. I showered. My clothes went out the window." He frowned. "I think everyone owes me an apology."
Kurenai looked down at her feet. Shizune smiled. Sakura was still too embarrassed to speak. The other women in the room remained silent.
"Uh huh," Tsunade said. "Maybe for some things. There will be other things for us to discuss, I think." She shook her head, then narrowed her eyes. "A 'Swamp of the Underworld' in the busiest street of Konoiha's busiest district. A need for remodeling the Medical Center. Damage to one of the temples. Charred portions of the landscape. Dead and destroyed livestock…."
Naruto pointed to Anko. She just shrugged again.
"I could go on," the Hokage said. "The Hospital clinic will be treating scrapes, cuts, bumps, and bruises for the next few weeks!"
"You left out the Library," Kurenai said, not looking as if she were ready to take any of the blame for that fiasco.
"I did what I had to do to…… well…… you know…." Naruto coughed. "You should all be thanking me! What would some other guys have done?"
That had the women all shuffling their feet for a moment. Hinata looked over at Naruto, a look of adoration on her face. That and gratitude. She was feeling terrible now, but things could have been much worse.
"Speaking about that!" Naruto stepped over to Tsuinade and looked her in the eyes. "We're going to need to get the true story out, so I don't have everyone trying to kick my ass…."
Hinata stood up straight, then walked over just a step behind and to the left of Naruto. She was twiddling her fingers. As a witness to the precipitating event, she felt it was her duty to speak.
"I…… I was with Shino…… I was with Shino and Kiba, helping to carry the bottles." She hung her head. "Kiba dropped his bottle, and Shino caught it. But…." Hinata looked over at Sakura.
"What?" Sakura snapped out of her embarassed silence. "I would have caught the bottle, if Naruto hadn't pushed me out of the way!" She was not about to take any blame whatsoever.
"Hey! You were the one who ran into Shino!" Naruto sneered.
"Because I saw you coming!" Sakura spat back. "Geeez. You're such an pest!"
When the story was finally straightened out, Tsunade spoke.
"I told you before that a ninja has to sacrifice himself for the good of his village." She spoke very solemnly, but with a touch of amusement in her eye.
Why was it always Naruto who found himself in these situations?
"I'm afraid we won't be able to clear your name. In fact, I am going to ask everyone who knows about the pheromones to keep them a secret for now."
"WHAT!" Naruto's mouth fell open. He marched over to the Hokage, almost nose to nose with her. "What kind of nonsense is that, Old Lady?"
"What do you think would happen, if the men in this village found out there was a substance that did what the pheromones did today?" Tsunade's look was very pointed.
"They…." Naruto's eyes went wide.
"Exactly!" The Hokage said. "You were very responsible…… something that's hard to believe…" She chuckled, reaching out to ruffle his hair. Then, bending over, she whispered in his ear. "Thank you. Keep that up, and you will deserve to take my place some day."
She stood back up and continued.
"Some guys would use that kind of thing to their advantage. Either to make money, or to…." Tsunade didn't need to finish the sentence. "I'm surprised this kind of things hasn't happened before. There are going to need to be strict regulations put into effect. That, and a number of safeguards…."
There were a few moments of silence, where everyone waited for someone else to speak.
Surprisingly, it was Hinata who spoke first.
"Th-Th-Thank you, Naruto-kun…." She glanced at him briefly, then looked away, blushing.
"Huh?" Naruto put his hand behind his head. "Oh, yeh! That's OK, Hinata. It was no big deal for Uzumaki Naruto, right?"
After that, Shizune came over and said a few quiet words to Naruto, apologizing, then thanking him for his gentlemanly behavior. Kurenai came over as well. After she said she was sorry, she stood staring at Naruto, making him feel self conscious.
"I misjudged you. Hinata really likes…." She bit her tongue, realizing what she nearly let slip. "You could have taken advantage of Hinata. You could have done that to any of us, but it would have hurt her most of all…." She smiled. "Your sensei might be disappointed in you though…."
"If you had touched me when I was under the influence…." Anko walked up, unapologetic. She made a cutting motion at waist level. Then she smiled. "If you want to help me finish my tattoo, though…." She grinned. It had the hairs on the back of Naruto's neck standing on end.
He couldn't tell if she was trying to make him feel on edge, or really meant what she said.
Sakura didn't say anything to Naruto. He brought her hand to her mouth, exclaimed "Lee," and ran out the door.
Various other women offered their apologies, or seconded Tsuande's and Kurenai's praise.
"Hey! Granny Tsunade!" Naruto thought of something. "Does this mean I can't explain things to any of the guys?" He went on to describe his run ins with Shikamaru, Neji, and Lee.
"Hmmmm." Tsunade rubbed one of her arms while thinking. "Kiba and Shino already know. I trust Shino. Kiba…… Kiba may need to be threatened…… he has a big mouth…." She pursed her lips. "As for Neji? It's hard enough to pull things out of him, so he's fine. Shikamaru, too. Just tell him to be discrete. Though…… if he knows, that means Choji will also know…." She sighed. "Lee..." She stood tapping her foot for a few moments.
"Bushy Eyebrows is very excitable, but also very responsible. If I tell him the honor of Konoha is at stake…" Naruto scratched his head. "If I tell him that Sakura's honor is at stake…." He nodded, smiling.
"Alright." The Hokage gave Naruto a piercing stare, then held up one finger. "No one else, for now…… especially anyone who isn't shinobi!" She grinned a wicked grin. "If I hear that you blabbed, I will personally write out a bill for damages…."
Naruto laughed, until he saw her face. Reflexively, he patted the pocket where his frog purse was. It was gone. Not just empty, after his gift to Choji, but missing.
"What's wrong?" Tsunade asked, seeing the look on Naruto's face.
"Froggy's…." Naruto screwed up his face. "My frog purse. It's gone. It…." He remembered where he saw it, but he had been to busy to take notice of it. "It's at the Temple near the large oaks." His eyes went wide, and he trembled. "I…… I can't go back there…."
Tsunade raised an eyebrow, but Naruto shook his head.
"I…… I will…… I will get it for you, Naruto-kun…" Hinata offered.
"NO!" Naruto said loudly. "DON'T GO NEAR THAT PLACE! " Then he looked away.
Tsunade looked at Shizune. They would have to find out the story behind that. The temple workers had mentioned damages, but nothing else.
"Naruto-kun?" Hinata made a steeple with her fingers.
"NEVER MIND!" He felt bad when he saw her jump. "I can get a new money purse, Hinata…. but, thank you…."
The thought of those Tantric women showing certain books to Hinata threatened to cause a nosebleed.
Anko and Kurenai looked at each other, having thoughts similar to those that Tsunade and Shizune had.
"In any case, until some of the furor dies down, it's a good idea that you stay in the dormitory." Tsunade sighed. "It might also be good to post a guard or two…."
"NO WAY!" Naruto bristled. "I'm not some kind of criminal. And, I don't need to be protected like some kind of baby!"
"Oh?" The Hokage smiled. "Is that your pride speaking…… or your stomach…."
"Well-l-l-l-l-l-l-l-l…." Naruto put his arms behind his back, looking sheepish for a moment. Then he frowned. "It doesn't matter. I'm not just going to stay in my rooms!"
"Even if we have Ramen delivered…… all you can eat…… at the village's expense?" Tsunade smiled.
Naruto froze. His hands twitched.
Then he smiled.
"OK. A Hokage has to do what is good for everybody! I will take note of that. Just be certain there is pork….. shrimp…… beef……" he went on, listing practically every flavor available. "It doesn't hurt to be safe, I guess…."
"Yes…." The Hokage winked at Shizune.
Shizune began looking around the room, in rather exaggerated fashion.
"Huh? Shizune? What are you looking for?" Naruto looked concerned, when the medical ninja stopped every so often and sniffed the air.
"You got rid of the clothes…… but did you clean the floor where they sat?" Shizune kept from smiling. Tsunade winked to Anko and Kurenai. They all hid smiles as well.
"N-No…" Suddenly, Naruto felt a little nervous. He didn't know just how strong the pheromones might be.
"Then…." Shizune shook, then closed her eyes. Smiling, she swayed on her way to Naruto. "You might not be so safe after all…." She licked her lips. "He's mine…."
Someone moved too quickly to see. It was Hinata. She stood between Shizune and Naruto, her arms straight out from her sides.
"Run, Naruto-kun! I will protect you…."
Naruto tensed up, until Shizune began laughing. Tsunade and the others joined in, causing Naruto to look from one to the other before catching on.
Shizune reached out and pinched his cheek. She looked at Hinata and smiled.
"VERY FUNNY!" Naruto said before muttering under his breath. That only made everyone laugh longer and louder. Struck by Hinata's reaction, he turned to her and said "Thanks, Hinata."
Hinata blushed prettily.
"Ummm… you're welcome, Naruto-kun…."
But, Naruto's thoughts didn't stop there.
"Hey, Hinata?" He rubbed the back of his neck. "You kept showing up a lot. Nobody else did. How did you keep crossing my trail?"
Anko laughed. "He's not the sharpest kunai in the shop, is he?"
"No, it doesn't look that way." Kurenai nodded.
"But, we wouldn't want him to change, would we?" Shizune grinned.
"Not at all. Not in that way, at least!" Tsunade chuckled. Then she led the others out of the room. Stopping there, she kept a neutral look when she spoke. "Hinata, you are being assigned as Naruto's guard until I have a chance to check the jounin duty roster. I'll send over your replacement a little later." Then she left.
Hinata stood in the middle of the room, rubbing her fingers together. Naruto looked at the door, then Hinata, and back at the door again.
"Oh, and I'll make certain there's enough food for the both of you," Tsunade said, sticking her head back in the room. When she left, she shouted. "Shizune, make certain the order is enough for ten people. No, knowing Naruto, make that a dozen. Hinata needs to eat, too…."
When the footsteps had finally faded, Hinata spoke without looking Naruto in the eyes.
"Thank you, Naruto-kun…."
"I didn't invite you, Old Lady Tsunade did," Naruto said somewhat brusquely.
"I….. I didn't….. I didn't mean that." Hinata did look up then. "I mean….. when I wanted to…… the pheromones…." She blushed. "And what you said…. trying to make me feel good…."
Naruto rubbed his head. He wrinkled up his nose and made an odd face.
"Uhhh….. well….. you know…." He frowned. "I just did the right thing, that's all. It's not as if I did anything heroic!"
Hinata shook her head.
Her face clearly said otherwise.
Naruto didn't know what to make of that. For some reason, he felt good inside. He stared at Hinata's face for a while, grinning. Realizing what he had been doing, he tried to look away.
But, his eyes kept coming back to her.
Was that because he had seen her naked, and touched her….
No. It wasn't that. She looked really cute standing there, that shy smile on her face.
"If…… if I'm bothering you…… I can eat outside of your door…." Hinata twiddled her fingers. "You probably don't want to see more of me today…… after…."
Naruto was surprised that he actually did want company. He also wanted to make certain that Hinata was going to be OK. But, that didn't mean that he wouldn't indulge his mischievous streak.
"No. I would like you to stay." He was amazed at the look on her face when she heard that. But, it didn't stop him. "The table's covered with my laundry, so we'll need to eat off of something else…."
"The kitchen counter?" Hinata asked.
"I was thinking….. maybe….. the shower…." Naruto laughed for two minutes straight, seeing Hinata's reaction.
Eventually, when her face no longer resembled a sunset, Hinata found her voice again.
"Naruto-kun…… is that the way….. is that the way you treat someone….. you might like…."
Naruto stood frozen himself for a moment. Then he nodded his head.
x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x
It was near lunch time.
The village streets were packed with people.
Everywhere that Kiba looked, he could see women making up a fair part of the crowd.
"OK, Akamaru…… here goes nothing…"
The young shinobi took a small stoppered bottle out of his pocket. Grinning, he twirled it in his hand, watching the clear amber fluid make bubble, then settle down.
He had taken some of the liquid out of the bottle he had been carrying, when Shino hadn't been watching. Seeing how the events unfolded around Naruto had gotten his mind working in devious ways.
Maybe Naruto had been willing to pass up a chance of a life time, but he wasn't!
"Girls, get ready for the Juujin Bunshin!" Kiba shook his finger at Akamaru. "You only get to watch!"
He took out the stopper, then liberally splashed the solution all over his clothes and skin. Trembling with youthful anticipation, he walked down the path, passing close to every woman he saw.
"Shit! Wasn't the stuff in my bottle the same as the stuff in Shino's?"
Akamaru barked twice.
How was he supposed to know?
Kiba frowned. Maybe it just took time for the stuff to work. Good things were worth waiting for. But, after fifteen minutes without as much as a smile, he began cursing again.
"I wonder if that batch was f-cking defective?"
Akamaru began yapping, louder and louder. He wasn't answering his companion. Something was happening.
A massed yowling noise grew louder and louder.
The dog's eyes went wide. He snorted, then took off running as if his life depended on it.
"Hey! Akamaru…… what's wrong…." When Kiba turned and looked behind him, he swallowed hard, then began running himself.
From all conceivable directions, each and every tomcat in Konoha was converging on Kiba.
x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x