The Next Day Chapter 3: The rose and its thorns

Naruto concealed himself in the bushes and merely waited. It had been a while since he had sparred with a friendly opponent whose abilities were unknown to him. He was breathing heavily and the excitement ran up and down his spine.

'What is she going to do?'

His senses were keenly alert as he silently drew a kunai.

'Ah!'

Naruto bit his lip to keep from crying out as he felt a small pricking sensation on the back of his neck. Assuming it to be a thorn from the bush, he reached up gently to pull it out and was surprised to discover it was much longer than an ordinary thorn. Pulling it out quickly, he discovered it was not a thorn but a white rose, a rose with a short, sharp stem. Naruto raised an eyebrow at this but his concentration was broken when another rose flew at him and lodged in the right side of his hand. He was quite accustomed to pain by now and therefore instead of grimacing he grinned. Now he knew what to expect from Yuki's attack and had a vague idea of her location. Slowly he began inching to his right, preparing to launch a shuriken in her direction.

'Wait, what?'

Naruto whirled around as he sensed something heading toward him from the left. He attempted to block but was overwhelmed as a cloud of the roses enveloped him, striking from all sides. His reflexes quickly caught up, his right hand flying with the kunai and blocking all of the remaining roses.

'I guess it won't be that easy to figure out where she is,' Naruto laughed to himself, impressed.

There was a brief pause and then the roses began to fly again. While blocking, Naruto began to channel the kyuubi's power to help him determine the source of the roses. All of his senses now as enhanced as Kiba's, he suddenly began to detect a faint sound amidst the whirring of the roses. Nervous, gasping breaths…behind him!

Without leaving the bush, Naruto generated one of his weaker rasengan attacks and spinning around, hurled it in the direction of the noise. When the dust cleared, he saw Yuki, lying on her back with an expression of resignation. Hurrying to kneel by her side, he heard her softly whisper, "I told you, Naruto, I'm no good."

"That's not true!" Naruto laughed sheepishly, rubbing the back of his head. Yuki looked doubtful. Naruto became more serious.

"No, really! That attack is…How did you learn to do that?"

Yuki shrugged.

"It's just something I've always been able to do," she said, looking off to her right. Naruto, too, stared in this direction as he thought.

'That attack was just like his! I never thought about it.'

"Anyway, Yuki, that was really good, especially considering you haven't been able to practice in such a long time. Look, I want to keep doing this…Please don't give up."

Naruto looked directly into Yuki's eyes with piercing sincerity. There was no denying that look. Yuki nodded, a weak smile coming to her face. Naruto smiled broadly and gently picked her up, carrying her back to the house.