Title: Party Favors
Claimer/Author: This story is written by and belongs to Emmy Kay.
Summary: It's Shino's engagement party. With Naruto invited, what could go wrong? NaruHina. Mildly fluffy. Frothy gooniness. Oneshot.
Disclaimer: Naruto and all affiliated characters belong to Kishimoto Masashi. This story is written without permission and for personal/fan/nonprofit entertainment purposes only.
Personal note: Story could take place a little after "A Prior Engagement" and "Coming of Age" but doesn't have to.
One blue eye cracked open to focus blearily on the clock. "Oh – sh-!" A young blond man jerked right up out of bed and began flinging on some clothes that he found laying on the floor. Naruto Uzumaki was a master of any number of the shinobi arts, but housekeeping? Laundry? Forget that. Nor would he be mistaken for any kind of fashion plate. Nor was he a 'riser and shiner.' Double down on the forget that.
He patted himself down before he left the house – keys, check; wallet, check. He was supposed to do something about his wallet. Wallet. Wallet. He jogged a couple of blocks before it hit him. Flowers!
He stepped into Yamanaka's – without the least idea of what to buy. Ino gaped at him for a moment, as she could never remember him entering the florist shop before, then dropped into her Madame Store identity. "What would you like to see?"
"I dunno – something nice – to bring to a party."
"Oh," she said, brightening with recognition. "You're going to Shino's engagement party."
Naruto nodded, running his eyes over the colorful array of plants and cut flowers throughout the shop.
"How about that?" He pointed to a small cactus in full, red bloom.
"Uh – uh, I don't think so," she replied. "How about daffodils?"
"Too yellow." While Ino raised an eyebrow at his comment, she remained silent as he indicated another flower. "This one?" He liked the orange tiger lily.
"No," Ino said, decisively.
"This one?" He indicated a cluster of bright orange and yellow faces surrounded by dark rounded leaves, marked as "primrose."
"No." Ino argued. "I can't let you take that to Hinata's place."
"What's the big deal? Aren't flowers just flowers?"
"Flowers are not just flowers!" Ino's eye twitched, a vein popped out on her forehead. "Flowers have a language – whether you know it or not. I refuse to let you send the wrong message – that is my sacred duty as a florist!"
After another few rounds of pointing and rebuking, the throbbing vein on Ino's forehead got bigger and bigger. Then Naruto's hand landed on a pot of small blue flowers. "Yes," Ino agreed, with some relief. "Forget-me-nots would do it."
Naruto stepped onto the landing after hiking up several flights of stairs and knocked on the door. He could smell something sweet and rich seeping from around the doorframe. After a minute, the door opened onto a domestic vision – a dark-haired young woman cocooned from chin to ankles in an enormous frilly apron, under which peeked a pair of pink and white bunny slippers. "Irassaimase, Kurenai – Oh, oh - " the welcome petered out a little breathlessly when she noticed who was at the door. Hinata flushed becomingly. "N-Naruto-kun. This way." She pointed inwards.
Hinata's apartment was a small, rectangular studio, which might have seemed a little cramped if not for the soaring high ceilings, and the large windows with a full view of the rather threatening sky. A partial, low wall broke off the kitchen from the rest of the apartment. In the kitchen, cabinets ran all the way up to the high ceilings. A sliding glass door led to a small balcony, on which grew shelves of herbs.
"Hey, this is for you –" Naruto handed her the pot of flowers, now circled with a large pink bow.
"Oh, they're lovely." Hinata smiled with genuine pleasure. Then she placed the pot in a prominent position on the half wall to the kitchen. Maybe, he thought, there is something to be said for Ino's 'language of flowers.'
"So…." Naruto looked around the empty room with some surprise. "Where is everybody?"
Hinata hesitated. "You're a little early."
He looked at the clock set in her small oven. 11:15. "Oh. Heh. When I left the house, I thought it was a five to one. It must have been 11:05."
"I thought I told people one o'clock," she said, a little doubtfully. "Anyway, Kurenai-sensei and Asu-kun will be here soon to help me get ready," she said, as though anxious to make up for the lack of company.
"Well," he offered, "I'm here – so I could help, too."
"Are you sure?"
He shrugged. What else was he going to do with a couple of hours? "Sure."
"If you could help me do something with this…." Hinata turned away and pointed to the bed, the one big piece of furniture in the apartment.
"What do you want to do about it?"
"Could you figure out how make it a couch?"
The bed was actually a futon mattress sitting on was a large metal frame, which Naruto realized during an initial inspection, could fold up into long bench-type seat. A small toolbox sat against one of the legs.
"I think," she bent over slightly as she pointed to the spring-loaded hinge, one hand on her thigh, "that's where it folds. It looks like maybe there's a catch and hook here – "
"So you've never made this into a couch?" Naruto interrupted.
"No," she said, taken a little aback. "But I have thought about it. When I got it out of storage at Hyuuga House – it seemed so practical, even if it was a little old."
"Okay." He opened the toolbox.
"I don't think you'll need more than the screwdriver – " Hinata thought out loud.
"Okay." When Hinata persisted in hovering, Naruto felt a twinge of annoyance. Did she think he was a total moron, not capable of folding a futon in half? Honestly. "Hinata, I bet you're really busy, maybe you could go and take care of party stuff. I'll take care of this." His tone implied 'party' meant 'girly' and somehow transformed the word 'this' into something deeply masculine and mechanical.
"Oh, right." She began to backpedal. Then she stopped. "Do you think you could move it? To there? Against that wall?" She pointed to the windows.
"Okay," he said, suddenly wondering what was so wonderful about that position.
"It'll make more room."
"Right," Naruto nodded, clearly dismissive.
"It'll be really helpful," she wheedled. "Thank you so much. You are being so helpful."
"Yeah, yeah," he muttered, but couldn't help grinning.
Hinata disappeared into the kitchen. A clone would be very helpful right now, he thought, and activated Kage Bunshin no Jutsu. Together, the two of them pulled the futon off the frame, and individually inspected the hinges, poking and prodding.
The doorbell rang, and Hinata hurried over to the door to open it. "Irassaimase, Kurenai-sensei, and Asu-kun."
"Hina-chama," Asumaru said, launching forward and hugging Hinata about the waist. He was the spitting image of Asuma, his long-deceased father, at the same age.
Kurenai cleared her throat. "Oh, sorry," Asumaru said, sheepishly, stepping backward to bow formally. "Good morning, Hinata-san."
Hinata waved the honorific away. "I don't mind," she smiled, and then knelt and leaned forward to hug Asumaru and press a little kiss on the top of his head. "Why don't we go into the kitchen, and you can help me?"
"Hello, Kurenai-sensei," greeted Naruto, waving from behind the futon.
"Naruto – I didn't notice you were here." After taking in the obviously new pot of blue flowers, she turned to Hinata, and raised her eyebrows.
For some reason, this made Hinata blush and shake her head. "Naruto-kun just came early to help."
"Yeah," he grinned sheepishly, "I just looked at a clock wrong."
Asumaru shot Naruto a superior look, to which Naruto exclaimed, "What! As if a squirt like you can tell time better than me!"
"Boys!" quelled Kurenai, with lowered eyebrows to both males. After a moment, she handed Hinata a large package. "Here are those extra dishes you wanted to borrow. So, where should we start?"
Naruto spoke up. "I could help too, Hinata. I'm almost done with this futon anyway." He released the clone, and draped his jacket over the back of the couch. He tested it, and while it seemed to settle and creak a little bit, it seemed fine.
He joined Kurenai and Asumaru in the kitchen as Hinata pulled some bundles of fabric in a variety of colors out of a drawer.
The fabric turned out to be aprons. Kurenai was in bright pink, Asumaru in short navy, and then he snapped his open. It was enormously white, liberally embroidered with red calico hearts of varying sizes, and across the front was stenciled 'Kiss the Cook.' He eyed Asumaru's plain denim apron covetously.
Asumaru caught that look and stuck his tongue out at Naruto. Kurenai either didn't see or pretended not to see as she turned her head away and cleared her throat.
"Sorry," Hinata apologized, really sounding like she meant it. "It's the only one I've got left." Then she added, "It was a gift from a favorite great-great-aunt."
"Ah, it's all right." Naruto pulled the apron on with enough fake heartiness that even he believed it. "I'm manly enough to handle it."
After washing their hands, Naruto and Asumaru sat down at Hinata's small kitchen table. They were to ice Shino's and Junko's names on little heart-shaped sugar cookies. Asumaru got the sugar sprinkler, and seemed envious that Naruto got the pastry bag of icing.
Naruto stuck his tongue out at the boy, who stuck his tongue out at Naruto and also pulled the lower lid of his eye down. At Hinata's quick glance, and Kurenai's exasperated "Boys!" they both grinned at being caught. They settled down to decorate the little cookies in good spirits.
The doorbell rang, and as Hinata and Kurenai seemed involved in a rather complicated salad maneuver, Naruto jumped up.
It was Shino. Behind him, Naruto could see a young woman, several inches taller than Shino, with purple hair cut into a shoulder-length bob. She wore a modified bolero jacket over a full skirt that ended at the knee. Shino intoned, "Junko-san, this is Naruto Uzumaki. Naruto, this is my fiancée, Junko Kagame."
Junko smiled warmly, "Are you Hinata's boyfriend?"
"Ah, um," Naruto stuttered. Then he saw something he would never forget.
Shino leaned toward Junko until their heads nearly touched, and where other people might have whispered, Naruto could have sworn they buzzed. Shino pulled back.
"Sorry," Junko waved off her previous comment. "I didn't realize – I thought if you opened the door – in that apron – " she shrugged.
"Let us join Hinata inside." Shino entered the apartment, obviously familiar with its layout.
That started the avalanche of guests. Sasuke and Sakura arrived together, she commenting on the rain outside, Sasuke quietly hanging their wet coats on the rack by the door. When Naruto came up to greet them, Sasuke drawled, "Nice apron."
As Naruto gathered up enough wit to respond beyond yelling 'Jerk!', Asumaru trotted by and chirped, as only a young child could, "Only Naruto is manly enough to handle it." Naruto patted Asumaru on the shoulder, smirking at his old teammate.
Shikamaru and Temari didn't seem like newlyweds, the way he went to join his friends and Temari went into the kitchen to provide assistance, carrying with her a big pack of specialty Sand Village sweets.
Ino and her latest fiancée arrived with a large case of beverages. After spotting the little pot of blue flowers, she winked at Naruto. He suspected there was something funny about that wink, he just couldn't figure out what.
Kiba and his sleekly pretty girlfriend came in through the door, arguing about the weather. "Like cats and dogs," muttered Kurenai to Shino as Naruto walked past, carrying a tray of drinks.
"What?" Naruto asked.
"Just talking about the rain outside," Kurenai replied innocently.
"I don't think it's that bad yet."
"Just you wait," she said, with a hint of darkness. Then Asumaru claimed her attention and she turned away.
Naruto saw Hinata take Junko and introduce her to everybody else at the party. He was impressed by Hinata's unobtrusive but excellent hostessing style – for all her being so shy, she really knew how to get people talking. Maybe it was that formal Hyuuga upbringing.
Once established, Junko was very funny, if surprisingly forthcoming. When asked by Sakura how they met, Junko was honest. "Matchmaker, of course. But when I met Shino – I just knew." She cast her eyes across to the goggled man across the room. Then she smiled and waggled her fingertips toward him. To Naruto's surprise, Shino almost – almost – seemed to blush. This made Junko smile wider.
Choji and his very petite girlfriend arrived, a little late. Taejeun apologized profusely, indicating they had just come from her parents' restaurant, the Korean barbeque place. Choji carried in a couple of very large platters, some of them still steaming. These were placed next to the riceballs, gyoza and salad that sat on the various tansu Hinata used as tables. As Hinata protested, the girlfriend smiled affectionately at her sizeable man. "Where Choji's concerned, it's always better to have more food," she said, fondly patting his massive arm.
After making sure his girlfriend was comfortable, Choji made them both plates of food and sat down. The futon couch creaked wearily, and Naruto caught Hinata's concerned visage from across the room. He gave her a thumbs-up as the couch remained upright.
People ate, drank, and congratulated the engaged couple. After a couple of hours, the guests slowly trickled out, each bearing a little box of cookies.
As the last person left, Hinata leaned against the door, and sighed.
"You throw a great party," Naruto complimented, as he walked in from the kitchen.
She seemed startled that he was still there. Her face eased into a pleased expression. "Thanks. That was nice, wasn't it?" They looked at each other and shared a smile. "Thank goodness Choji's girlfriend brought all that food!" She seemed surprised by an enormous yawn.
Hinata blinked, owlishly. "I think I'm just a little tired. I got up very early this morning to get everything done for the party."
"Yeah, you look wiped out," Naruto said, tactlessly. "Why don't you put your feet up? I'll take care of the rest of the cleaning." While his own dishes sat in the sink for unknowable lengths of time, he didn't mind doing party dishes at all. It just seemed an extension of the party, somehow.
With a bare token of resistance, indicating just how tired she was, Hinata sat down on the futon, curling her feet under her.
"Hey, Hinata, isn't it funny? How Shino and Shikamaru are the first among us to get married? Not counting Ino – you never know about Ino – but Shino, weird, right?"
Not getting an answer, Naruto looked past the half-wall into the living room. Hinata had slumped over and slid off onto one side, eyes closed, long strands of her blue-black hair falling over her face. She was really cute when she was asleep, Naruto thought.
With the dishes done, Naruto took off the apron and figured he would just let himself out. He looked around for his jacket, and then realized that Hinata was laying on part of it. He tried to pull it out. She rolled with the garment's movement, just enough to pin his hand under her side. Alarmed, he jerked away quickly. Hinata clutched his jacket to her body. Her head fell back, and she began to snore.
Naruto scratched his head. He wanted his jacket. He tried to pull the jacket out of her arms. A sleepy grey eye fluttered open, and then shut. A little grin curled around the corner of her mouth, and in a voice so suggestive it was like a velvet lick up his spine, she purred, "Na-ruu-to." He released the jacket as if it just bit him. This allowed Hinata to sleepily gain a fresh grip on the fabric. Then she lapsed back into sleep with a breathy sigh.
He couldn't believe his ears – not with his eyes telling him it was really Hinata – a girl he'd known his whole life – sleeping there. Naruto had never, ever heard anyone say anything in quite that tone before – didn't even imagine it was possible. Flabbergasted, he didn't know what to do.
He looked out the window. The rain was bucketing down – he couldn't just leave in his t-shirt. He really wanted his jacket. But he didn't want to wake her up. He especially didn't want her to wake up while he was trying to grab it away - and maybe look like some perv hanging over an innocently sleeping girl. No way.
After re-assessing the situation, Naruto realized the jacket was also stuck in the crack where the futon folded behind Hinata. So he would go the other way – over the hill, so to speak.
He used his chakra to walk the wall, and then, carefully, he lowered his weight onto the futon. The springs creaked. He halted. The springs quieted. He had to put more of his weight on the futon to reach the jacket. The springs creaked some more. He began to sweat. Finally, he thought he might as well go for it – if he was fast enough, he could get his jacket and be gone before Hinata woke up.
Quickly, he got a grip of the jacket as the creaking of the futon increased. With an abrupt shudder and a jolting spoing!, the spring-loaded part of the frame holding up the futon broke off from the rest of the metal structure and tossed Hinata towards the wall.
Instinctively, Naruto reached up and snatched her out of the air, pulling her towards him, causing him to lose concentration so his feet became unstuck. The both of them hurtled to the floor. The last thing he saw were Hinata's eyes; enormous and rounded in shock as she realized she was about to land right on top of him. Then the momentum of the frame caused the futon to flop down on top of the two of them.
For a moment, in the near total darkness provided by the thick cover of cotton-covered mattress, Naruto and Hinata breathed, both a little heavily. The fall had knocked the air right out of him. He felt the slightness of her body on top of him, the tension of her muscles against his, the tickling of her hair against his chin, the pressure of her forearms as they lay folded into his chest, and inhaled the sweetly sugary smell that clung to her.
Funny how hard he found it to get air. It must be the added weight of the futon on top of both of them. Must be.
"Naruto?" she said, experimentally.
"Yes, Hinata," Naruto replied, subdued.
"What just happened here?" She seemed surprisingly calm. Too calm? Naruto wondered. Verging on hysteria?
"Uh, Hinata," Naruto said, carefully.
"Yes, Naruto?" replied Hinata, patiently.
"I think it's time you got a new futon."
Hanakotoba = the Japanese language of flowers. (from wikipedia)
Cactus = lust/sex
Daffodils = respect
Orange lily = hatred/revenge
Primrose = desperate
Forget-me-not = true love
#3 of the 30 kisses challenge = "jolt!"
The story sort of came out of nowhere. I'm quite fond of comedic battle of the sexes sort of thing - à la Hepburn/Tracy, with some slapstick thrown in for good measure, which is ultimately, probably, where some of the inspiration for this came from. Please let me know how it went.