A/N: Sorry everyone, this is probably the last chapter. I've run dry of ideas. Let's hope this comes out good! (Sniffle, Hinata gave me quite a scare for a while.)
Chapter 12: Multiple Shot Mode
Naruto stumbled out of the woods a frantic and sweaty hour and a half later, Hinata in tow.
"Oh wow," he sputtered out between breaths, "Didn't think it'd ever come to this point with you."
Hinata blushed deeply; she was surprised at her own daring. "Me…me neither," she said softly.
The blond Genin smiled at his girlfriend and pulled her along by the hand back towards the village. He gave a perverted grin and looked back at Hinata. "I'm not complaining though," he said, "And I wouldn't complain if it happened more often."
Hinata felt herself waver in and out of consciousness very rapidly. "A-a-ah…I-I…" the lavender-eyed kunoichi began to mumble, "U-u-um…" She trailed off when she realized she could not find words to express her thoughts, which were, understandably, a resounding "YES".
Naruto chuckled at her flustered reaction and picked up his pace. "You don't have to answer," he said. Hinata nodded with relief. The two walked in relative silence back into the village, the streets were fairly empty; only a few late-night workers were seen walking about. Naruto pulled Hinata along the path towards her house but suddenly felt resistance. He looked back at her and saw her standing, almost defiantly, looking at the ground and blushing softly. "Um, is something wrong, Hinata?" he asked.
"I…I was just…wondering if…I-I c-could just stay at y-your house…tonight…" she said with some difficulty.
Naruto looked at the ground for a second, lost in thought. He had no problem with it; he simply didn't know how Hiashi would react to this. "I'm perfectly ok with it Hinata," he began, "I just don't know how Hiashi will react to it."
"I'll tell him; I need to pass by to get some stuff before I head over to Tenten's anyway," said a voice from behind. It was Neji, with Tenten at his side.
Naruto thanked Neji. "That'd be really helpful," he said. Hinata thanked her cousin as well.
"Don't worry about it," said Neji simply, "I'll see you guys later." He and Tenten walked off.
Naruto turned around and walked off with Hinata back to his house. "That was nice of Neji," he said happily.
"It's good that he's stopped trying to kill you too," said Hinata, smiling.
Naruto laughed. "Yeah, that's definitely good too," he said. The two arrived at Naruto's house and plopped onto his bed without changing. Naruto yawned. "Jeez, I'm tired," he said sleepily.
Hinata giggled and kissed him softly. "I can only imagine why," she said, blushing a bit.
Naruto blushed back. "You're unpredictable, you know that?" he said, smiling.
Hinata moved closer to Naruto and hugged him, resting her head in the familiar spot on his chest. She felt more comfortable here and felt herself becoming sleepier and sleepier. Naruto smiled softly and hugged Hinata back, resting his head on his own favorite place, the crown of her head. Within a few minutes both of them had fallen asleep.
Hiashi sat in his study, working quietly when Neji came in to inform him what Hinata had done. Hiashi nodded and continued working. Neji gave a slight smirk at the Hyuuga head. "No fight Hiashi-sama?" he asked, a bit intrigued.
Hiashi looked up and gave almost a soft smile. "That boy has saved her life at great risk to his own," he explained, "To be so restrictive and commanding when he has shown such respect for her would be careless paranoia."
Neji smiled. He could remember his own careless paranoia. He bowed and left the room. "Let's go Tenten," he said simply. Tenten nodded and smirked at him.
"That went well," she said airily.
"Hey, if I can learn," said Neji, "He most certainly can." Tenten chuckled.
The day rose gray and cloudy. (A/N: I love days like these) Naruto frowned a bit. It had been cloudless the day before; now it was cool, with the smell of coming rain in the air. He yawned and stretched a bit and looked down to see Hinata still lying against his chest. He smiled softly; he had to shower but didn't want to wake her. He continued to lie there, wondering they should do for the day. He couldn't help thinking that some event was supposed to occur during the day. For a few more minutes he furiously contemplated what he could do with Hinata, which unfortunately led to increasingly dirtier thoughts. He stopped thinking and blushed deeply.
'Jeez, I've been hanging out with Jiraiya too much,' he thought to himself.
Hinata stirred suddenly and looked up to Naruto sleepily. She felt something poking her thigh. She smiled and blushed a bit and said, "Naruto-kun, you've been with Jiraiya-sama too much."
Naruto began laughing and relaxed a bit, "That's what I was thinking before you woke up."
Hinata kissed Naruto and got out of bed and wandered over to the bathroom.
Naruto smiled and then realized that she had stolen his idea. "Hey! I was gonna shower!" he called to her in mock anger.
Hinata opened the door a bit and poked her head out with a tempting look in her eyes. "You can join me if you like, Naruto-kun," she said seductively.
Naruto shivered with joy. "You have something like an on/off switch don't you?" he joked back. Before he could start towards the bathroom however, a knock came from the front door. "Eh…I better answer that. You enjoy your shower," he said, a hint of disappointment in his voice.
Hinata nodded, a bit disappointed to; she didn't tell Naruto, but she had woken up a bit aroused as well.
Naruto walked over to the front door and opened it. "Oh, Sakura-chan! Whatcha doin' over here so early?" he said to the pink-haired nin.
Sakura raised an eyebrow. "You didn't forget that there's a village wide scavenger hunt today, did you?" she asked the forgetful blond.
"Well, if I say I did, will you be angry?" he asked tentatively.
Sakura chuckled. "It's too early to be angry," she said, "You got off lucky. Anyway, Tsunade told us that we had to participate to encourage other ninja in our age group to join."
Naruto nodded. "What time then?"
"Uh, in about fifteen minutes actually," said Sakura.
Hinata chose this moment to come out, wearing a damp white t-shirt that excellently showed off her figure (and then some) and a pair of white panties, drying her hair innocently. "What's in fifteen minutes, Naruto-kun?" she started before noticing Sakura. "Oh, hi, Sakura-chan!" Hinata smiled at her.
Naruto felt scared. "Ah…Sakura, don't get the wrong idea," he said with growing fear in his voice.
A vein in Sakura's forehead throbbed slightly. "Eh…I'm just not going to ask," she said with some trouble. "Fifteen minutes Naruto." She stopped. "See you there, Hinata," she added more easily.
Naruto breathed out. He thanked Sakura and closed the door. "Alright, I completely forgot. Guess we better go to that, huh, Hinata?" he asked.
Hinata nodded and continued to towel of her hair. "Yeah, we probably should," she said.
Naruto nodded and told Hinata he was going to go shower.
The couple walked casually towards the Hokage's tower to receive their instructions for the scavenger hunt. After a short while they met up with Shikamaru, Temari, Neji and Tenten who no doubt had the same objective in mind. The group talked casually for a while and entered the tower. They were allowed immediately to head to the Hokage's office.
Tsunade was finishing some paperwork and looked up at the group of nin. "Ah, you've arrived. Excellent. And Naruto, you're actually on time for once!" she joked.
Naruto grinned sheepishly, "I can be on time when I want to."
"Only if Sakura threatens you," Tsunade remarked knowingly. She cleared her throat, collected the papers on her desk and sat up. "As you all know, the village wide scavenger hunt is today and I do believe Sakura had told you that your participation was encouraged."
The nin before her nodded.
"Be that as it may, there has also been a slight snag in the set-up—we have far more older Jonin out on missions today than was expected and therefore I need all of you to distribute and hide the items the participants will be looking for," concluded the Hokage.
"What the hell's the point in participating then Obaa-san?" blurted out Naruto.
Tsunade's temple pulsed once; she snapped back, "Show some respect Naruto! You'll only be responsible for a handful of items; you can still find the items your friends and the available ninja have hidden. Keep in mind that some items should be easily accessible for Genin, some for Chuunin and a few for Jonin." She looked at the entire group before her for any hint of confusion.
Naruto gave a start. "Wait, so…we have to hide these items with jutsu?"
Sakura replied this time. "Of course baka, what'd you expect? Were you going to hide the items behind lamp posts or crates or something?"
Naruto mumbled something indistinct and said no more.
Tsunade smirked slightly and then said authoritatively, "If you have no further questions, you have one hour to hide the items on the list you'll be given on your way out. When you have finished hiding the items you were assigned meet in the center of the village for your scavenger list."
The nin bowed and left the room. Naruto grumbled audibly as he left.
Naruto found it easy enough to hide items from the Genin, but the Chuunin and Jonin level items that had to be hidden were proving more difficult than he expected.
"What the hell Obaa-san?" he murmured, disgruntled, "How am I supposed to hide this crap?"
He had hidden the Genin level items (a simple kunai, a potted plant and a box of mushrooms) in places that some focus, physical training and a rudimentary understanding of Genjutsu could quickly reveal. When it came to Chuunin level items however, (an empty ramen bowl, a small, broken television and a bottle of scented lotion) Naruto had a bit more difficulty.
"Hmm, well," he said to himself, "Maybe if I swap the light bulb with the lotion bottle and use Genjutsu to make it seem like the lotion is actually the bulb…" He smiled. "Hey, that's actually a pretty good idea!" He climbed the pole and unscrewed the bulb and then disguised the lotion as the bulb. He then screwed the lotion back into the socket. "Alright, this'll work perfectly," he remarked, immensely pleased with himself.
When the items had all been hidden away, Tsunade gave the participants a list of items to be found. Finding items and returning them to the center of town allowed participants to earn prizes, most of which none of the nin whom had hidden away the items found particularly stimulating, apart from one item that so blatantly existed so the older nin would participate it might as well have had a flashing arrow above it: a trip to a world-class hot spring resort.
Soft murmuring rippled through Naruto's group of friends: the trip allowed for one guest. Naruto didn't see what the big deal was.
"I don't get it," he said to Hinata, who was only half-listening, "There's a hot spring here. Why would you want to go to a resort? It sounds like it just adds fluff that gets in the way." When Hinata gave a less than stimulating answer ("Perhaps") Naruto turned his attention to Shikamaru, whom he was sure would share the same sentiment.
"It would just get in the way, but as troublesome as it is," replied Shikamaru to Naruto's remark, (he looked around to make sure no one was listening), "Temari will kill me if I just laze around. Naruto grinned sheepishly. 'So much for male dominance,' he thought.
Nearby, Naruto could hear Rock Lee professing his desire to take Sakura with him, who actually seemed somewhat interested for once. She had expected Lee to say this, but the fact that he had decided on her and not Gai-sensei made a difference. And it was a world-class resort. Gai seemed totally unperturbed by this decision, as he had his own ideas in mind.
"Kakashi! What could be a better place to have a rematch than that resort? After a hard day's challenges and losses, you could relax in the hot spring!" he said loudly to the broom-headed Jonin.
"Uh, right. Whatever you say," said Kakashi a bit embarrassedly, looking up a fraction from his usual dirty novel.
The lists were finished being handed out and Tsunade announced the start of the hunt. The contestants ran, jumped and poofed away in different directions. Naruto ran towards the restaurant district of the village, where the large amounts of clutter seemed to be perfect locations for items. He regarded his list, which read:
NOTE: Any nin that helped hide items are forbidden to recover said items lest they be ejected from the hunt. Please locate the following:
~Purple, deflated soccer ball
~A pair of bright orange panties with the character for "evil" written on the rear…
Naruto looked up from the list. There were dozens of items to find, not counting the nine he had hidden away. "Why orange panties though?" he said aloud. A voice next to him chuckled. Naruto looked to his right: it was Gaara, of all people.
"Gaara?" asked Naruto.
"I hid those, interestingly enough," the sand nin explained.
"How?" asked Naruto incredulously.
"Oh, they'll turn up," he responded cryptically. He ran off in another direction.
Naruto kept running, more confused than ever.
It turned out, or so Naruto thought, that the other nin didn't want to hide the objects as much as he had wanted to. Most of them hadn't even disguised them, just placed them amongst more of their kind or in hard-to-reach places. He had found, among several other items, the panties Gaara had hidden when Kakashi showed up, walking out of a small restaurant, still reading. They had been hidden on the back of Kakashi's left shoulder and disguised as simply the symbol for evil.
This turn of events dissolved into an interesting situation which had Naruto stalking Kakashi for over fifteen minutes, trying to get close enough to dash forward, tear the delicate off and poof away before Kakashi could react. It had failed, of course and Kakashi had caught Naruto and almost hurt him, thinking him to be an assailant.
"Naruto? The hell are you doing?" he asked, dangling the blonde idiot by his foot.
"YOU'VE GOT WOMEN'S DELICATES ON YOUR SHOULDER!" shouted Naruto in frustration at having failed a simple sneaking mission.
Kakashi patted his back and felt nothing. Naruto worked himself loose, turned his dense teacher around and tore the panties off his back. He spun Kakashi back around and brandished the unmentionables in front of his face. 'YOU SEE?" he said loudly. At this time, a group of girls had chosen to walk by and take in the scene of Naruto waving orange underwear in front of Kakashi and began laughing and hurling invectives at the two. Naruto gave a groan of annoyance and ran off, leaving his teacher utterly confused.
Meanwhile, Sakura had taken to finding Naruto's items, as they would most likely be the most obvious. This was not the case. She had found an inexcusably large amount of pathetically hidden items, but none were on the list Naruto had been given.
"Wow, it looks like that baka actually tried to hide the items well," she said to herself, a bit impressed.
Neji and Hinata were barred from using their Byakugan in the hunt, and it proved to be taking its toll. Neji was an excellent ninja and adept at sensing chakra signatures even without the bloodline trait, but because so many items were hidden without chakra, it was like finding a needle in a haystack.
He couldn't get too angry though, as he had decided to simply put items in hard to reach places that required physical skill more than anything. "Damn it. Didn't ANYONE use chakra?" he cursed aloud. Suddenly, he noticed something. The light post was emitting the faintest signal of chakra. He grinned to himself. Someone had after all. He looked up at the post and saw the light bulb. It was the source of chakra. Perfect. However, night had fallen, and the light posts turned on by schedule at a certain time.
Now was that time. The light post sent a surge of electricity into the socket, and as poor a conductor of electricity that plastic is, the sheer amount of it burst the bottle, shattering the Genjutsu and leaving Neji to contend with a slippery, lilac-smelling mess, most of which had taken residence upon his face and chest.
Rock Lee seemed to have been the most competent for this scavenger hunt, what with the items being hidden in places his amazing stamina allowed him access to, but Lee was a tirelessly predictable man: a good-natured, determined man, but a predictable one nonetheless. After finding three items hidden high atop the streets on roofs, he expected the remaining items would be hidden cleverly with chakra-based jutsu and took to carefully examining and overturning every possible item that could have been disguised as something else. He found nothing in this manner.
At roughly eleven o'clock, the hunt was nearing its end: the easy and medium items were found very easily by the less experienced Genin and Chuunin, and only the Jonin-rank items remained to be found, but because they were hidden away in places only the hider would have expected to find them, very few of them had been found. Naruto returned to the center of the village to find a rather depressed party waiting for him. No one had found more than four items, and half of the people had used their significant other as a source to find the items they had hidden. Kakashi hadn't found anything at all and looked damned proud.
"Actually, I found about twenty items trying to get away from the other scavengers," he said to a stunned group of nin, "But I'm not exactly interested in going to a hot spring resort, and even less interested in having Gai pester me until I invite him."
Naruto dumped the items he had found into the basket with his name on it. He had found eleven items, half by luck, the other half by…actually, he had found everything with luck. While running around trying to escape the giggling girls who continuously called him a pervert, he had taken to using roofs and other places off the beaten path to navigate the town and in doing so found many of the items Kakashi had passed up.
He turned back to the group and surveyed them imperiously; "Almost none of you hid your items in creative ways! The most creative I found were panties on Kakashi's shoulder! What the heck? Why didn't you get creative?"
Neji took this opportunity to speak, his face covered in lotion. "That is because when you hide things in light sockets, they explode."
The group of nin burst into laughter, drowning out Naruto's sincere apology.
Tsunade quieted the nin and began to speak. "Well, seeing as Naruto found the most items, and from what I've heard, the only person who actually tried to hide the items, he and one guest get to head off to the resort."
The group of nin mumbled congratulations to Naruto, but remained too absorbed in their self-loathing to say much else. Naruto put his arm around Hinata and whispered something into her ear that made her go beet-red, but nod vigorously. The only words any nin near-by could catch was: mixed bath…public indecency…good thrill.
"Naruto-kun, a hot spring resort is meant for relaxation," said Hinata nervously.
"That's for when you're older. When we're through with this vacation, you're going to need another, and probably bed rest, because we sure as hell won't be using a mattress for rest," said Naruto mischievously. Hinata blushed bright red again and gave a small nod and indulgent smile.