The Deception of the Peony
Author: Violet Garnets
Warnings: Language, light perverted humor
Disclaimer: Masashi Kishimoto owns Naruto, and I am merely borrowing his characters for creative and entertainment purposes.
Summary: Naruto's certainly not an idiot, but sometimes the symbolism and multiple layers of certain things goes over his head. This includes certain silver-haired jounin, jewelry, festivals, and flowers.
Note: This happens to be inspired by storm_light's prompt. As you can see, this is quite longer than one-hundred words.
"What's on your face?" Kakashi asked as his student entered the room.
Naruto stared at his teacher, surprised. "Where?"
Kakashi traced the outline of his own lips on his mask, completely amused. Naruto's blue eyes bulged. Furiously, he began to wipe at the red lipstick on his mouth.
"Shit!" He swore between wipes. "I forgot! Sakura and Ino coerced me into a 'practice session' before the mission!"
"Mission? Practice session?" He raised a fine silver eyebrow. "What kind of mission needs a young shinobi to wear lipstick?"
"I badmouthed Tsunade, and now she wants me to cross-dress while I bodyguard this princess at the festival," the blonde grumbled petulantly.
Kakashi shook his head, but stopped midway. Naruto could almost see the gears reversing in the man's head, although he wasn't quite sure why. "Naruto?" Kakashi asked, his tone not betraying any significant emotions. "By cross-dress, will you have to wear a yukata too?"
Naruto nodded reluctantly.
Dark eyes lit up. "Oh, well, have fun!" Kakashi said, almost singsong, before disappearing in a cloud of smoke. The blonde shook his head, and resumed his fruitless attempts to remove the lipstick.
A few evenings later, Naruto was in the Fire Country capital, and extremely irritable despite the festivities around him—or rather, her.
With Sexy no Jutsu and the make-up skills of Sakura and Ino, Naruto looked like the ordinary girl: the blonde hair was tied up in an elegant bun, whiskers were well-concealed. Sakura and Ino had retracted their earlier threats after he agreed to be relatively cooperative. They gave him a tiny amount of input and let him pick his yukata.
Surprisingly, he had found one he liked (not that he would actually completely admit it). It was a crisp, light gray, and tiny ocean-blue flowers drifted across the cotton fabric as if blown by the wind. Ino had been surprised by the choice, expecting him to grab the bright orange one with the flowers that looked like fire. But Sakura…she only grinned; a bit impishly, and asked why Naruto had chosen that one, the one that was gray. He found himself blushing at her implications, and had excused himself to prepare.
So what if he developed a tiny little liking for their former teacher? It didn't have anything to do with changes in clothing choice. Did it? Well, it didn't matter anyway. Kakashi was back in Konoha, and Naruto had a job to finish.
So there he was, at the festival, watching the girls from a distance. Ino and Sakura, now grown women, finally reconciled and left their childish rivalry behind. They got along just swimmingly with each other and the young Princess Haruka. The three women joined in a lively dance, laughing and twirling away, their hair bobbing up and down. Naruto was content to stay in the background. It was difficult enough to just walk around in the constricting yukata. Dancing would take way too much effort.
A wolf whistle drew his attention, and Naruto adjusted the obi around the yukata before walking over to the man that called. "Anything wrong, sir?" Naruto almost gagged at the feminine, "flirty" tone he took on. Being a girl for more than two minutes reeked. He never realized how much of a burden breasts were…
"First of all, I think your outfit looks a little uncomfortable. Maybe you should take it off," the man said, waggling his eyebrows. While not ugly, he was obviously uneducated and boorish, even more than Naruto himself. His arm had already wrapped itself around Naruto's slim waist.
The shinobi wanted to laugh at the situation, absolutely sure this guy would not act like this if he knew the full situation, but as it was…Naruto opted just to sock him one in the stomach. A girlish giggle escaped as the guy gasped for breath.
"Why, you little bit—" As the creep rose to strike Naruto, he was just as quickly sent back down by another figure.
Naruto felt a tad insulted by the interference. He was just getting ready to give the guy a shiner too… As he opened his mouth to say something cheeky, he realized just who it was in front of him. Sure, the guy was wearing a blue yukata with yellow butterflies on it, and there was no mask on his face, but all the other features were unique to one person: silver hair flopped gently to one side, a dark eye-patch covering the left eye, and a sliver of a scar peeping out from under the eye-patch. It was unmistakable.
"It's really impolite to raise a hand to a woman, you know," Kakashi said. Naruto didn't register the jab at his masculinity; he was too preoccupied with wondering just why Kakashi wasn't wearing his mask…it was weird seeing a very handsome face match up to that voice. "If you continue on acting like that, I suggest you stay down there. Are you alright, miss?"
It took Naruto a moment to realize that the last statement was directed towards him. "T-thanks," was all he managed to stammer out. What was he supposed to do? Did Kakashi know that the woman he was speaking to was actually his student? Naruto did tell the man he was going to be at this festival…but what reason did Kakashi have to be here? Backup wasn't really needed for such a job. He finally settled on a relatively safe question: "What are you doing here?"
"Same thing as you, I'm just enjoying the festival. It's not everyday the daimyo turns seventy."
Naruto snorted, forgetting the female act. "Thought the old guy'd be dead by now, the way his wife is."
Kakashi laughed, and Naruto was taken aback by how…natural it sounded. "That is quite true; do you know the daimyo's wife personally, miss?"
All right, this was strange. Would Kakashi take an act this far? He looked like he honestly believed that the person he was speaking too was a stranger on the street. And come to think of it, Kakashi had never actually seen Naruto's Sexy no Jutsu…the pervert definitely would be out cold seeing a female Naruto nude… Then again, Kakashi was a pretty good actor. This was all too confusing. Naruto decided to play along.
"I actually wait upon the daimyo's niece, Princess Haruka." A slender hand gestured towards the circle of dancers. Kakashi nodded, and as his silver hair fluttered in the wind, Naruto suddenly felt a little dizzy.
This man was handsome, the features of his face defined and likable even with the pale scars crisscrossing across his face. Seeing his face without a mask made Naruto— God, he needed to get out of this female disguise as soon as possible before the hormones got to him—or, as he really thought about it, he could take advantage of his situation. Now he had a chance to do things he never dared to do before… "I'm…Hikaru. Thank you again for helping me out," Naruto murmured.
"It was nothing, I do what I can to help pretty young ladies," he replied, smooth and suave as ever.
Naruto—or Hikaru – smiled. "Well, isn't there any way I can repay you? Are you hungry?"
"No, I wouldn't let a woman pay. Maybe if you were a man. But I would like some company for the rest of the evening. Would the princess mind if I stole you away?"
"Just give me a moment, please…um…your name?"
"Botan*. Go ahead, I'll wait here."
Naruto nearly flew over to where Sakura was. Catching her attention, he motioned her to join him.
"Anything wrong, Naruto?" she whispered, half out of breath. Her cheeks were a healthy pink, just like her hair. Naruto briefly admired her beauty, before relating his story to her. Her green eyes livened up, and she did her best to discreetly steal a look at their former teacher. "No way! I can't believe he's here! And…wow…he's kinda…hot. No wonder you like him."
Naruto's cheeks burned at her comment. "Shut it," he muttered darkly. "Why do you think he's here anyway? It's not like we need backup."
She only giggled. "To flirt with you, of course! What are you waiting for? Haruka's safe with us. Go! If you score big, let me know!" Sakura pushed him away, and rejoined the crowd before he could say anything more.
He groaned, and resisted the urge to run his hand through his hair. Maybe he should just inconspicuously disappear and go back home to Konoha…but Kakashi would probably notice if a young girl tried to run away from him. Should he just go with it, and act like a girl? Ah, what the hell. He was wasting his time angsting out all the possibilities. He was never good at being wishy-washy anyway. Screw it all, he was going to act like a girl and he was going to enjoy what could possibly be his first and only date with the man he had a massive crush on. And with that, he dove straight into his role as Hikaru.
'Hikaru' strode over to the stand where 'Botan' had been waiting, and greeted him with a pretty smile. "Thank you for waiting, sir."
He smiled back, and the blonde felt a flurry of sensations running through his heart. "No problem. Shall we go?" Kakashi held out an arm and Naruto took it gently, blushing as he did so.
They walked along the pathway, and chatted about everything but their personal lives: how beautiful the flowers were, the state of the capital, the daimyo's health, and so on. It was obvious both relished speaking about trivial matters. Naruto really couldn't remember a moment like this in Konoha, where the conversation never trailed back to missions or training. They stopped at the little stands, sampling foods from each region of the Fire Nation and admired the goods merchants held out to them.
"Excuse me, sir," an elderly man stepped out in front of Botan, a cheeky smile barely hidden underneath his moustache. "Would you like to buy something for your pretty companion?"
"What exactly are you selling?"
The old man moved out of the way to allow the pair a better look at his merchandise. "Jewelry, all handmade."
Deep down, Naruto was hesitant, almost afraid of Kakashi giving something to Hikaru. Wouldn't that cement Kakashi's feelings for someone else? But at the same time…Naruto wanted any display of affection or even liking possible from this silver-haired man, even if it was gained through misleading means.
The blonde obeyed, breath trapped inside as a warm hand caressed his cheek. After a moment's fiddling, the man pulled away, examining the look.
The merchant appeared at Kakashi's side, and frowned. "Excuse me for being so insolent, but…isn't that necklace a little masculine for a woman of her delicacy?"
"Really?" he replied, smirking. "What do you think, Hikaru-dono?"
Naruto held up the thin silver chain around his neck, and examined the pendant closely. Overlapping spirals of silver created the outline of a drop of water, and a single sapphire lay inside it. For some reason, it made him feel a little…nostalgic.
"Well," the old man conceded, "the sapphire does match her eyes. And it's quite feminine, now that I look at it. Would you like to purchase it?" Kakashi had the money out in an instant.
"No, you really shouldn't buy this for me," Naruto said softly. If you really knew who you were buying it for, you'd change your mind. "Please reconsider."
"Sorry, it's a bit too late for that," Kakashi grinned as he dropped a few more coins into the merchant's hand.
Naruto did the only thing he could; he huffed in silence as they walked over to the stream. Little children were lighting candles and placing them on little rafts, biding their time until the fireworks display began.
Kakashi chuckled a little. "I always thought women liked receiving jewelry. Are you different, Hikaru-dono?"
"You don't even know the first thing about the person you gave this to," the blonde mumbled, fingering the pendant absently.
"Really now?" Kakashi laughed again. "Well, stop me once I head in the wrong direction. Alright?"
Naruto said nothing.
"I'd say you're naturally a blonde, because there isn't a single trace of dark roots. You usually don't attend festivals or wear yukata, since you looked so uncomfortable when I saw you. You can take care of yourself, judging by the way you took care of that guy. Anything so far?"
Sullenly, the blonde shook his head, and continued to play with his new necklace.
"You like to smile. You're caring and considerate. You try your best at everything, no matter what it is."
"Now you're just naming off generalities. All this could apply to anyone, at face-value," Naruto scoffed. But the other's response made the younger one choke.
"Well, how about this: You fight with more spirit than anyone your age, anyone in the village. Your dream in life is to protect your precious people. And…your first kiss really doesn't count."
Suddenly, the space between them seemed to close, although neither moved. Naruto looked up, half-terrified and half-anxious, with wide sapphire eyes. He dropped the necklace from his hand, and let it fall against his chest. "B-b-botan?"
With a lightly serious grin, the man whispered, "It's Kakashi to you…Naruto."
Naruto's surprise converted into flabbergasted anger. "You-you had me act like a girl the whole evening when you knew who I was?" He attempted to point menacingly at Kakashi, although the carefully painted and decorated nail kind of ruined the effect.
"It'd be a poor job if you suddenly started acting like yourself when you look that, wouldn't it? And you and I both got some good practice in acting like someone else."
"But you didn't need to pretend—"
"If I had told you who I actually was, you would have dropped the façade anyway."
The blonde huffed, still confused. "Why, though? Why keep it up?"
"Well," Kakashi exhaled audibly before continuing, "two shinobi on a date is much more awkward than two civilians, isn't it?"
It took the 'female' a moment to process all of that. "We…were on a date," he sighed hazily, speaking more to himself than the other. "Why would you—"
"Seventeen years old and you still have all these questions for your teacher? Perhaps I haven't taught you well."
"You didn't answer my question," Naruto accused.
Kakashi shrugged. "I like you, that's why. Why else would I come all the way here just to spend an evening with you and give you something nice?"
"Oh. Well, thank you. For the gift and, you know, everything." Naruto blushed as he tripped over his words. He hated how even though he already stopped acting like a girl, he felt more feminine right at that moment than ever before. He felt like he had an obligation to give something back to Kakashi, but what exactly?
Then, floating innocently down the stream, a peony caught Naruto's eye. There was something about its vibrant crimson color that pulled him towards it. Bending down, he scooped it up in his hands, letting the water seep down through his fingers. "Here," he murmured, presenting it to Kakashi. "A botan for Botan."
Kakashi covered his face with his hand, chuckling. "Are you really sure you want to give that to me?"
"What's wrong with it?"
"Oh…absolutely nothing at all," he responded breezily, an impish grin plastered across his face. He took the flower from Naruto's slender hands, and tucked it inside his obi. "You should probably get back to your mission. If I'm not mistaken, the fireworks display would be a prime time to attack the princess."
Naruto groaned. "Shit, really?" Without a farewell, he dashed away. Kakashi watched him with a crooked smile, then turned his view upwards as the first fireworks exploded in the sky. They were magnificent, and for a moment, a brief moment, looked a bit like red peonies before they disappeared into the infinite night sky.
"Wait…that's it?" Sakura raised an eyebrow, her green eyes large and perplexed. She paused in her work, letting the pen float over the mountain of papers.
Sitting across from her on a table, Naruto shrugged. "What do you mean, 'that's it'?"
She sighed. "You guys are so bad at this. There's supposed to be some culmination of passion or something. Why didn't you kiss him?"
"Why would I?" He looked downwards, playing with the necklace Kakashi had given him two nights earlier.
"Um...because you like each other?"
"Would you just go and kiss Sai if you two liked each other?" The blonde retorted, knowing full well he hit a chord.
The medic-nin returned to her work, pointedly ignoring the question. "So all you guys did was confess your feelings and give each other gifts? How borin— wait…what kind of flower did you give him again?"
"A peony," Naruto replied nonchalantly. "A red peony. Why?" He realized Sakura had dropped her pen and was, at the moment, attempting to stifle her laughter. She shook almost violently, her pink tresses waving around wildly. "What?" The woman shook her head, choosing to continue her giggling fit than answer him.
Finding the situation hopeless, he decided to leave, Sakura still laughing as he did so. "Women are weird," he grumbled.
Even when he finally made it to his apartment, the blonde's thoughts were still toiling over the paradox of the red peony. What was so funny? Were peonies uncommon? Was it strange to give another man a flower? Well, that didn't matter, because it was strange to like Hatake Kakashi in the first place. "Damn it, why won't someone just tell me?"
"You could just ask."
Naruto jumped, and immediately assumed a defensive stance. But upon realizing it was just Kakashi sitting at the table, he relaxed—a little. Being around the jounin always made him a little tense, in a kind of strange, relatively good way. "The window?" he asked, attempting to gloss over his previous surprise.
"It's a bit easier to unlock than the door. So, what are you curious about?"
"Ah, well, um…you know, it's not a big deal actually," he chuckled sheepishly, running a hand through his hair.
Kakashi cocked his head to the side, and briefly Naruto imagined his teacher as a small child. The strange idea made the person in front of him a little less intimidating. "Come on, I'm interested now."
There was something in the copy-nin's timbre, perhaps its mellow richness, which made the normally stubborn Naruto concede.
"What, exactly, is the meaning of the red peony I gave you? I told Sakura and she laughed like an old hag." The blonde exhaled loudly, as if it took a lot out of him just to say those two sentences.
A smile appeared from under Kakashi's mask. Naruto couldn't exactly describe it, but it made him feel a little fuzzy, out of focus. "Red is rather obvious, don't you think? It's passion, or love."
"Oh. Right. But why would Sakura laugh about that?"
"I don't get it, then."
"She was laughing about the symbolism of the peony. It represents the female reproductive organs."
Naruto's mouth made a little 'o' while his eyes made big ones. "So…I…"
"Essentially, you metaphorically gave me your virginity," Kakashi continued smiling as he pulled down his mask and pulled up his hitai-ate. His expression struck the younger one as predatory,. "I think it's about time I claim my prize, too."
Uzumaki Naruto only had six words before Hatake Kakashi claimed his 'official' first kiss.'
"I'm going to bottom, aren't I?"
*Botan is actually a name Masashi Kishimoto considered for Kakashi's character, meaning "peony".
My deepest apologies for the strange use of pronouns in this story, I had trouble referring to Naruto as 'she' when he viewed himself as a man in a woman's guise. It just didn't make sense to me.
Also sorry the format is similar to my other one-shots, but I really can't break out of it for now. If I was a director, I suppose you could call this and other one-shots the formulaic romantic comedies. But I am working on a more serious story, which should hopefully turn out well and be a little more original.
Anyway, hope you enjoyed! Constructive criticism is always appreciated.