Naruto wouldn't let them take her away. "You can't have her! She's mine! All mine!" Tayuya felt the same way. NaruTayu One-shot.
He knew they were all getting suspicious. But still, Naruto clung to the faint hope that they would just overlook it, and forget about it. What did they care if he acted strange?
To be sure, he was now one of Konoha's top shinobi, and so he was an important asset to the village, to be well looked-after. But he could take care of himself. Why did they have to get all weird just because he didn't eat at Ichiraku's so much, or because he didn't spend all day every day training, or because he had turned down a few opportunities to eat with Sakura?
Even Naruto, naturally dense and slow to recognize things that didn't involve deadly peril, noticed the odd looks he got every time he did something differently than he would have done a few months ago.
Tsunade had stared at him when he turned down the month-long training trip with Jiraiya. What was so odd about that? There wasn't anything they could do out there that they couldn't do just as easily here. The Hokage had just gaped awkwardly until Naruto excused himself from the room.
And Sakura had openly gawked at him, mouth wide open, when he had turned down her offer to go to lunch. Naruto was in a hurry, anyways, and he had eaten not so long ago. What was her problem? Did she think that he would cling to his childish infatuation forever? He had moved on.
Which brought him to the root of the problem. Well, it wasn't really a problem. Yet. Not until the others found out would she be a problem. And Naruto was prepared to do whatever it took should that come about, to make sure that she was kept safe.
Naruto unlocked his front door, which he had replaced shortly after bringing her home many months ago, walked inside, out of the blazing bright sunlight, and locked the door behind him as he entered. The sturdy door, reinforced with steel girders, had been necessary. As had been the replacement windows, and the new blinds.
He set the groceries on the kitchen table for a moment, and sighed. He didn't really feel like putting it all away, but he knew he had to.
Naruto barely flinched when a pair of warm arms wrapped around him from behind, hands reaching under his arms to grip his shoulders. He felt her soft body pressed against his back, and the heat of her face nuzzled into his shoulder blades. The scent of some sort of tropical fruit entice his nose, the familiar scent of her shampoo. No doubt she had just taken a shower, which would explain why she was so warm, even against his usually overheated body, and the scent of exotic fruits that Naruto certainly had not purchased at the store.
"Naruto, you look tired. Why don't you lay down, and I'll put away the groceries?"
He smiled, in spite of his exhaustion, and turned his head to try and see behind him. All that he could get a glimpse of was her red hair, which shimmered a little in the dim, unlit kitchen, with reflections of what little light came in from under the blinds.
"That's alright, Tayuya. It won't take long." He felt one of her arms remove itself, and he frowned a little at the faint cold that he felt where her arm had been. "I just got some flour, and fruits and vegetables, some milk, and…"
The arm reached around his body, and a finger pressed itself against his lips. "I'll take care of it, Naruto. You do all the work, and make all the money, and bring everything here. You keep my secret, and you are so much nicer than I could ever have deserved, what with how I treated you those first few weeks…"
Naruto wanted to speak, but her finger applied slightly more pressure on his lips when he considered it. Tayuya knew him well. Resigned, he instead reached up and took hold of her hand, kissing her knuckles softly. "As you wish, Tayuya."
The red-head laughed, and extricated herself from the taller blonde. "I shouldn't have to ask to do something for you, Naruto. Just let me be nice every once in a while." She moved gracefully, gliding over to the bags on the table, sorting their contents before placing them each in their own place.
Despite Naruto's rather elementary medical skills, she could walk again. And well. The blonde was quite pleased with himself in this respect, though he wished he could have done more for her. He still remembered the stricken look on her face, as she realized that walking was the extent of her abilities with her legs. Even jogging would be too jarring, disturbing her weaken bones and muscles. Her life as a ninja was over.
As Tayuya finished, she saw the direction of his gaze, and knew what he was thinking. She frowned, disappointed that Naruto so often beat himself up over her inability to run or jump. She was so pleased to be able to stand and walk, she could hardly express it. If only Naruto would really, truly believe her when she said that she was content, when she said that she didn't need anything more.
And that did not pertain only to her legs. Tayuya was content with her life here, in Konoha, as well. With Naruto, who had so patiently healed her after the terrible injuries she had received, who had put up with those first, horrible weeks, when Tayuya had been a bitter, ungrateful, savage, fiery-tempered fury, cursing him and striking him and doing everything she could to hurt him, mentally and physically.
Her life here, as simple and as quiet as it seemed, was a relief, now that Tayuya had time to really consider it. She had no missions, she had no obligations, and she had no responsibilities. Tayuya didn't really even have to do anything around the house, except to dress and feed and bathe herself. Naruto would always take care of everything, if she let him, and would never complain.
It was probably around the end of her first month here, Tayuya supposed, that she had fallen for him. Although to everyone else he was a brash, loud little boy, Tayuya saw the side of him that no one else witnessed. The quiet, contemplative side. The sad side. The side that made the present-day Tayuya want to cradle him in her arms and mutter sweet nothing in his ear.
And so she did, as well as she was able with the larger blonde ninja. Edging him over towards the couch, she got him to sit down. Then, when she had seated herself, she gently leaned him over, until his head rested in her lap.
Tayuya whispered words of thanks and admiration as she ran her fingers through his rough, spiky hair, massaging his scalp and rubbing random patterns around his head. Once Naruto seemed relaxed, she spoke up.
"You really need to stop blaming yourself, you know. I'm just so happy to be able to walk, and to walk without pain. Please don't beat yourself for not being a perfect medic. It's a wonder you were able to do this much for me, Naruto."
The blonde closed his eyes, and Tayuya began to pet his face, gently rubbing his sensitive whisker marks with a single finger.
"I like it here, Naruto. And I like you, Naruto. And I am perfectly content to spend the rest of my life like this. I enjoy living here… with you." She forced the words out. She had to make Naruto see that she was happy. Seeing him in pain hurt her so much.
Naruto cracked his eyes open, looking rather drugged, probably from her continual stimulation of his whiskers. "I'm glad, Tayuya, but… I don't think it can last forever, like this."
Tayuya frowned. He wasn't thinking of sending her away, was he? Her movements slowed, and Naruto noticed immediately where her thoughts had gone. If he was clueless to everyone else, he was not so to her, after spending so much time in her presence, these last three months.
"It's not that I want you to leave, Tayuya. I would never want that." Tayuya's hands resumed their normal speed. Good. "It's just that other people are noticing how I act, now. Because I'm a good ninja, they pay more attention. They notice when I spend more time at home, and they ask funny questions… or they stare at me, with suspicion in their eyes." Naruto closed his eyes, basking in the warmth of the red-head's attention. "I'm just afraid that you'll be found out, I guess. I worry about it a lot."
Tayuya nodded in understanding, though she knew he couldn't see it. She delicately drew a fingertip along each whisker on the upturned side of his face, smirking slightly as Naruto shivered in pleasure.
A sudden knocking at the door interrupted their moment together. Naruto sat up immediately, and began straightening up the room a little, handing Tayuya a brush that had been lying on the floor nearby.
Tayuya shot him a worried glance as she hurried out of the front room, and climbed the stairs as quickly as her legs would allow. Once Naruto heard her shut the door to her room, he walked over and opened the front door.
Sakura stood nervously in the doorway, glancing around Naruto into the darkness of his home. She couldn't see much, since it was so very dark, especially compared to the bright light outside.
Naruto squinted at her, and queried, "What do you need, Sakura?"
The pink-haired medic-nin resisted the urge to frown. This was just for everyone's peace of mind, right? He had been acting weird, and so once they all saw that there was nothing, wrong, there wouldn't be any problems. It wasn't like Naruto had anything to hide, right?
"Erm… can I come in, Naruto?"
Maybe it was just her eyes, but Sakura could have sworn that Naruto's gaze had quickly swept around the area outside before he slowly nodded. "Sure, Sakura. Have a seat anywhere you like." He gestured toward the couch and two chairs in the living area not far from the doorway.
Sakura walked over and sat on the couch, leaving plenty of room for Naruto. She took special notice when Naruto locked the door behind him, and then took a seat in one of the chairs. Surely that wasn't suspicious, right? Locking the door was just common sense, right? And sitting on the chair was just a way to avoid an awkward situation, right? Or maybe he had given up on her… but for who? Naruto didn't seem the type to give up completely. If he had passed her up, there had to be someone else. But no girl in Konoha had ever noticed Naruto give them more than a passing glance.
Sakura closed her eyes, and tried to clear her thoughts. Tsunade was counting on her to find things out for sure. Taking a deep breath, Sakura was about to speak, when she noticed a faint, tropical scent.
Shampoo? Naruto didn't look wet at all. He didn't look like he had showered recently. And this was a girly sort of scent.
"Naruto, what it that smell?"
Naruto feigned confusion, even as his mind raced to come up with an answer. How could he possibly explain such a thing? Failing to come up with a good answer, he pretended ignorance. "What smell?"
Sakura's eyes widened. How could he not notice this? His nose was far superior to any normal person's, and barely inferior to Kiba's. "What do you mean, Naruto? How can you miss it?"
Naruto scrunched his nose up and sniffed, pretending to concentrate on smelling. "I don't know what you're talking about, Sakura. But anyway, what did you want?"
Sakura stared at him for a moment before she remembered herself. That was so unlike Naruto, getting straight to business. It was so… suspicious. Maybe Tsunade was right. Something had to be up.
"Naruto, you've been acting… strange lately, and, well, we're worried about you." Sakura almost stopped when she saw Naruto's eyes narrow dangerously. This wasn't good. He was angry already? She hadn't even gotten to the worst yet. "We don't know what to make of it, but you've been different ever since a while ago. We want to know why."
Naruto stalled for time. "Who is 'we' and why is it any of your business?"
Sakura flinched at the clipped tone in Naruto's voice. "I'm here on behalf of Tsunade. Everyone has noticed it, though, Naruto. You don't train as much. You don't eat ramen as much. You don't horse around as much. You don't…" Sakura couldn't bring herself to show that she had noticed his lack of recent attempts to woo her. "You don't act the same. Why?"
Naruto saw it, the perfect card to play here. If Sakura and Tsunade went for it, he might be in the clear. Perhaps for good. "I'm growing up, Sakura. I've finally started listening to everyone's advice. People tell me to eat stuff other than ramen, people tell me that I shouldn't train all the time, people tell me I need to be more serious. And I finally did. So everyone's been staring at me for the past months like I've grown a second head or something. What's so wrong about maturing a little?"
Sakura felt abashed. "I'm sorry, Naruto, we just…" She couldn't believe it, in hindsight. This was exactly how they'd always told Naruto to act, and when he did, they'd taken it as a sign of a problem. How silly. "It's just… we didn't really expect you to change, Naruto. I guess, I guess that we didn't really want you to change that much, even when we said otherwise."
Sakura gathered her courage, and then pressed a little further than she needed to, embarrassed to know that Tsunade would be listening to this from just outside, via the tiny microphone Sakura wore under her shirt. "So you don't really need to stop being silly, or…" Sakura took a breath, "asking me out…"
The killer intent from upstairs was quickly controlled, but Sakura couldn't have missed it. She gasped, and suddenly she found herself looking into the angry red eyes of the blonde ninja sitting across from her. Angry, and scared. Frightened.
Sakura tried to calm him, but she knew he could feel the others converging on his house, their chakra signatures closing in, making him feel trapped, threatened…
Cornered. Sakura knew that any sudden change could set himoff.
The front door burst into splinters, and Tsunade walked in, looking strangely serious, considering that it was Naruto, her favorite knucklehead, that she was speaking to.
"What have you been hiding, Naruto?"
His red eyes narrowed fiercely, and his lips drew back, exposing sharp teeth. "Tell them to get back." He waved his arm around, indicating the ninja outside. "Tell them all to get back."
Tsunade shook her head. "There should be nothing you need to hide, Naruto. Don't worry, they won't hurt whoever it is unless…"
They both heard the windows upstairs shatter at the ninja entered quickly, and Tsunade lunged toward Naruto.
Just a bit too late. The blonde skipped the stairs and leapt straight up, blasting the ceiling out of the way in a controlled burst of red chakra.
Sakura heard the quick sound of hand-to-hand combat, and several groans as ninja were knocked out. An unconscious body fell through the hole in the ceiling, and landed on the carpet with a dull thump.
Naruto grabbed Tayuya, and jumped out of the already-shattered windows, landing in the street below. More ninja, some of them ANBU, gathered around him in a circle, containing him. Cornering him.
Tsunade bolted outside, and saw the girl held in Naruto's arms. Tsunade felt sure that she had never seen her, but she seemed familiar somehow.
Shikamaru emerged from the shadows next to the house, and Tsunade turned to him. "Nara-san, do you recognize this woman? She feels familiar."
The shadow-nin's eyes widened as he saw her face, framed with shockingly red hair. "She's one of the sound ninja we fought on the mission to get Sasuke!"
Tsunade's eyes narrowed. So that's where she had heard of her. Now that Shikamaru reminded her, she remembered the mission report, and the description of the red-haired flute user who had supposedly died after being sideswiped by Temari.
"Naruto! You've been keeping an enemy in your house for months?!" Tsunade was incredulous. Why would her idiot grandson in all but blood do such a thing?
Naruto snarled, holding onto Tayuya in a sort of bridal style, while she clung to his shirt with a death grip.
Tsunade spoke in a low, controlled voice. "Naruto, you can't do this. Give her to us."
Naruto's snarl turned into a vicious growl. "You can't have her! She's mine! All mine!"
And he sprinted away so quickly that he blew by the surrounding ninja before they could move. He raced the walls of Konoha, jumped up on top, and then vanished into the forest without a single look back.
Tsunade and Sakura could only stare in horror as the gathered ninja and ANBU took off after him.
Naruto held Tayuya's face as they sat together in their small hut, located in a village far from Konoha. "Are you sure that you're okay living out here, love? I'm not exactly inconspicuous, even out here. They might find out about me and come to get me, even if you stay here at home all the time…"
She kissed him sweetly on the lips, and Naruto forgot what he had been talking about. She caressed his cheeks with both hands, and, looking straight at him whispered softly, in an echo of his words just days before.
"They can't have you back. You're mine. All mine."
So… yeah. Another one for the NaruTayu crowd. Who are the most appreciative of my reviewers, which is why they get more. That and I do so like NaruTayu. I just wish there were more. Written by other people, I mean. It's no fun to read my own works.
It was hilarious. I was looking up NaruTayu earlier today, and under some sort of search settings, I got a page where 4 of the first 7 results were my NaruTayu works. Heh.
So anyway, let me know what you thought of it. Constructive criticism will help me improve. Flames will amuse me, but not contribute to better writing. Short notes just to let me know you read it are also appreciated. Thanks.