Story: Uzumaki Apprentice
Naruto sighed tiredly as he watched the object of his annoyance chase after the Fire Daimyo's Wife's cat for the tenth time in as many days. It wasn't the same subject from Naruto's own Genin days; the insufferable pest had long since been stuffed into the ground. No, this was an all new menace for an all new generation, Naruto mused.
For all his misgivings Naruto wouldn't have traded places with anyone in the world. All was right in the world, and all that junk. Konoha's enemies lay buried deep in the ground, and the age of Ninja was quickly approaching its end. If the world continued to evolve the way it had during the past thirteen years, then the young black haired girl growling in front of Naruto would be part of the last generation of a dying culture.
Uchiha Makoto was the only daughter of Uchiha Sasuke and Haruno Sakura, now known as Uchiha Sakura. She had inherited her father's genes quite thoroughly; black hair, black eyes, pale skin, and all. There were few visible traces of her mother in her. When asked though, Sakura would insist that the young Uchiha had inherited her chakra control.
Makoto was short for her age group, standing an inch or two below the average height. Her hair was in most cases tied into two ponytails with white ribbons, part of a gift from Naruto, her godfather for her seventh birthday. The actual gift had consisted of a dress and a pair of cat ears, the ribbons had been part of the packaging the gift had come in. To Naruto's dismay, she had preferred the ribbons on the box over the outfit itself. On the few glimpses he had into Makoto's austere bedroom in the following years though, he couldn't help but notice that the cat ears were still among the few items she left out.
On the rare occasions that Makoto let her hair down, the ribbons remained a part of her hairdo, braided through her left bang. Despite their constant use, the twin ribbons remained in remarkable condition. It probably helped that Makoto was a genjutsu-oriented instead of a ninjutsu junky like both her father and godfather.
To Sasuke's displeasure his daughter had taken after her godfather in the attitude department.
The young girl in front of Naruto could very well be the last of her family to be trained in the ninja arts. Officially at least, Naruto doubted that the girl's father would allow his family's profession to die so easily. Not that he'd allow it to happen. As far as Naruto was concerned, his nindo still held true.
It didn't help that the young Genin had perverted it by insisting on completing the same mission over and over again. It was Naruto's own fault, really. He had allowed his student to pick any mission that she wanted, provided that Naruto acknowledged that she was capable of succeeding.
Really, she couldn't have expected him to allow her to go on a B rank mission five months out of the Academy, even if she insisted that she was ready. It hadn't helped much that she had been trained by her father since she was old enough to walk, and for all intents and purposes had the skills for such a mission. Naruto, however, still held onto his conviction that she still lacked the practical experience.
For that, he was suffering.
He couldn't simply revoke the privilege from her. That would be giving in, admitting that his resolve was weaker then hers. No, he'd endure. But should her father find out? Naruto grinned to himself. Then she'd wish she had gone with his way all along.
After all, Sasuke could be a downright bastard when he wanted to be, not to mention Sakura could be an A-grade bitch herself.
"I have contained the target."
Naruto sighed as the voice of his goddaughter crackled into his earpiece. He reached up and lightly pressed a button on its side, activating the relay capability. "Yes, I'm aware, I can see you. Is there any reason you're using the comm?"
"Because it's fun." Makoto replied mockingly.
"Roger that." Naruto could understand the sentiment and despite his feud with the twin-tailed girl, went along with it. "Has the cat been properly subdued?"
"Of course." came the 'innocent' reply, along with a saccharine smile as Makoto approached him, a struggling white cat in her arms. Naruto noted that it wasn't so much struggling against its captor as much as something else. If Naruto hadn't known better he could have sworn...
"Did you use your genjutsu on the cat?" Naruto asked flatly.
A nervous grin was his answer.
"I might have used a minor," she stressed the word. "Illusion to capture it."
For a moment, Naruto retained his stoic expression, before it cracked and revealed an amused smile.
"Good call," Naruto praised as he reached down to the shorter girls head and ruffled her hair, or tried to at least. He hadn't managed to do much, seeing as it was tightly bound into two ponytails. Makoto smiled brightly at the action, and didn't seem to mind at all. In fact, she seemed pleased.
Naruto smiled down at the dark haired girl for a moment before reaching up to his breast pocket and unclipping the top of one of the scrolls. He thumbed the edge of the scroll and extracted a thin slip of paper with a series of characters inscribed onto it. He spread it out between his fingers and gently pressed the backside of the tag against the feline's forehead, sending a small burst of chakra into the cat. It fell silent, a now blank piece of paper adhered to its skull.
Makoto hummed to herself as she pushed the cat Into Naruto's hands and dusted strands of cat hair off of her hands. Naruto stared down dispassionately at the sleeping cat in his hands before grimacing and setting it down, and making himself comfortable.
"So!" Makoto exclaimed, clapping her hands together. "Do you want to head home now? I want to get home and train. There's a new genjutsu I want to try out!"
Naruto smiled bemusedly at the girl's enthusiasm. Truthfully, he'd rather not go back to Konoha just yet. He was in no rush to be the test subject of Makoto's newest genjutsu. It wasn't that he didn't want to help her exactly, quite the opposite; there were still only so many times you could allow someone to unfettered access to your mind before it began to become disconcerting, especially when they were on a trial-and-error basis to determine best method for freaking you the fuck out.
Naruto was almost willing to concede and request a B ranked mission: the key word being almost. "Alright, let's head home," Naruto grinned. "If you're a good girl on the way back I'll treat you to some ramen, alright?"
Makoto gave a superior laugh. "No way, when we get back I'm treating you to ramen, Naruto-sensei!"
Naruto grinned. "Is that so?"
Makoto paused for a moment and considered what she had said, before viciously shaking her head from side to side. "No, no, I mean, you can treat me all you want." Makoto reached to the back of her head and scratched nervously, laughing tentatively.
Naruto's expression softened and he chuckled. "Let's head back to Konoha then." He gestured for the younger girl to follow, and a moment later kicked off the ground. Makoto didn't miss a beat and within seconds was beside Naruto, keeping up with his pace.
"This is fun, isn't it? Makoto asked after a few minutes of silence. "Spending time together like this."
"As fun as hunting down this damn cat can be," Naruto acknowledged. He didn't need to spare a glance at his student to know that she was pouting and was about to throw another one of her B-rank hissy-fits.
"Well if you'd just let me go on a B ranked mission it wouldn't be that way, would it?" Makoto complained loudly.
"Genin are only allowed to take D and C rank missions, officially." Naruto paused for effect.
"But, you know," he continued, "My first C rank mission ended up being an A rank mission." He took a moment to glance back at his apprentice. "What I mean to say is, sometimes C rank mission escalate into B and A rank missions."
Naruto's lips quirked up slightly. "Of course, D rank missions have never been known to jump ranks, so while you and I were playing with this pest," he lifted the cat up from under his arm into Makoto's view. "Some other lucky genin squad is probably in the middle of a C-Rank that's turned into a B-Rank."
Makoto's eyes widened in stark realization. "Y-you mean we could have been-"
Naruto grinned victoriously, and for a moment wondered why he hadn't simply told her in the first place. "That's right, we could have been ambushed by enemy ninja already if we had been doing C-Rank missions." Naruto teased his student, briefly taking a glance ahead to correct his path through the tree tops.
"But," Makoto began to protest only to stop at the look that her blond-haired sensei gave her. Black eyes narrowed and their owner fell silent sullenly, before, grinning widely. "When we get back, forget training! Let's go on a C-Rank mission!"
Naruto burst out laughing and returned a grin. "Now you're speaking my language, Makoto-chan!"
"I'll race you!" Makoto shouted to Naruto in challenge before she surged past Naruto and began to rapidly create a gap between them. Naruto momentarily protested before his lips fell into an amused smile. With a burst of chakra through his limbs Naruto lunged forwards after Makoto, careful not to 'accidentally' drop an unconscious cat from his hands.
The rest of the journey passed in a blur. The young Uchiha was too focused on being the first to reach Konoha's gates to talk to Naruto, not that Naruto minded. The occasional lapse in conversation was good for his internal monologues. He made it a point to at times quickly catch up to and pass Makoto, if only to keep her on her toes and push her further. Her stature compared to Sakura was acceptable, but it wasn't anything compared to what both he and Sasuke had been capable of at her age. Though, the comparison was pretty unfair to her. She was neither a Jinchuuriki or as obsessed as Sasuke had been. For all intents and purposes, besides the bloodline and training she had received from her father she was as normal a Kunoichi as possible.
The High and Mighty gates of Konoha appeared just beyond the horizon. Makoto had noticed immediately and increased her speed. Naruto likewise began to move faster. She might have been his goddaughter, but there was no way in hell he was going to lose to her in a race. Naruto quickly managed to overtake Makoto and, after flashing her a grin -to which she literally snarled-without pause, halted his movement and swung an arm directly into Makoto's trajectory.
The shorter girl, mid-leap, couldn't react in time, and found herself gasping for air as Naruto's arm hooked around her midriff. Naruto drew upon the momentum the girl had generated and quickly exhausted it with a spin, and threw the shorter girl carelessly over his shoulder and began to casually walk towards the gates of Konoha. He pointedly ignored the struggles Makoto put up as she pound her hands on his back and futilely tried to kick him.
"Put me down!" Makoto protested, "This is embarrassing!"
Naruto just grinned.
The renovations that Konoha had gone through since the confrontation with Pain had reshaped Konoha into a spectacle to behold. Where Konoha had once been situated on a stable flat chunk of bedrock, with Pain's destructive jutsu, the land was now in shambles. The village had since been rebuilt to fit the contour of the land. This was not to say that Konoha had not reformed the terrain; quite contrarily, Yamoto's Mokuton abilities, a unique combination of Gaara's sand between some of the late Sarutobi Hiruzen's mud techniques, and unflattering amounts of fire, they had been able to stabilize the flow of the land.
Naruto gave a carefree laugh as his feet touched the ground in front of The Uchiha's household, the captive on his shoulder had ceased struggling and protesting, resigning herself to her fate for the moment. Naruto shifted Makoto off of his shoulder and set her down in front of him. His smile widened at the embarrassed look upon her face, compounded by the stark blush on her cheeks.
"Shouldn't we be at the Hokage's tower?" Makoto asked after a moment of silence."You still have to hand in that damned cat, don't you?"
Naruto nodded, "I'm going to go hand in the kitty and then I need to talk to Baa-chan for a bit to straighten some stuff up for tomorrow." The blond haired Jounin squinted his eyes and glanced up at the sky. "It's almost twelve, so meet me at the usual training grounds in around two hours." Naruto looked back down at his student. "Is that enough time for you?"
Makoto narrowed her eyes and sighed, clearly aggravated. She turned around and walked closer to the front door of her house and turned to face Naruto, "Don't make it sound like I'm the one who's never ready Naruto-sensei; I'm ready to go right now!"
A pair of hands went up in defeat, "Ah, you caught me out Makoto-chan, I'm tired from the mission and I need a little rest to recover in time to train you."
Makoto gave Naruto a look of disbelief before declaring; "I don't believe you! You'd better not be late, or else.", reminding Naruto of how her mother used to yell at Kakashi in much the same way.
Naruto dropped his hands down from his form of mock-surrender and smiled at his genin. "No one could stop me from being there for you." Naruto promised.
Makoto grinned and pulled open the door to the Uchiha's house, before entering and closing the door behind her. Without waiting for the door to fully shut Naruto had already initiated his Shunshin technique and, two seconds later was outside of the Hokage's tower in a burst of smoke and a swirl of wind, dispersing the smoke as fast as it had been formed. The red, stained-wood tower stood out in contrast with the rest of the village. It was as it had been prior to Konoha's restoration.
Without much thought Naruto pushed open the doors to the tower and stepped inside. The lobby was fairly empty. Besides the clerks there were less than a dozen loitering people, only one or two with hitai-ate, the rest were civilians, or at the very least off duty.
Naruto approached the front desk and smiled down at the operator, a cute brown haired girl named Nanami, if Naruto remembered correctly.
"Good Afternoon, Nanami-chan," Naruto greeted with a wave. He was treated to a bright smile in return.
"Good Afternoon Naruto-san!" Nanami chirped happily before taking a glance down at the sheet in front of her. "You're here to hand the cat in, aren't you?" She pointed to the bundle of fur in Naruto's hand. At the Jounin's nod she herself nodded. "You know where to go, and you don't need me to show you, so is there another reason you're talking to me?" Nanmi's smile widened, showing a set of pearly white teeth.
"Ah, you caught me Nanami-chan," Naruto said with amusement, "How did you manage to find out that I only accept missions so that I can talk to cute girls like you?" he teased. His efforts were rewarded with a brilliant scarlet blush on the clerks cheeks. Said clerk quickly hid her face behind a stack of papers.
Naruto laughed and waved her off, "Talk to you later, Nanami-chan!" Before walking towards the stairs leading to the second, and beyond floors of the tower. The second floor of the tower was his destination. It was the 'Mission Centre' where missions were requested, issued and visited upon completion, whether it be to inform the village that a mission had been completed correctly, or to hand in the item that a mission had specified, or in some rare cases, a person.
The Mission centre had changed from its first incarnation, but not by much. There was still a desk on the side of the room, with various people lined up, some collecting money, some handing money out to ninja. Behind the desk was a wall lined with boxes, and in each box there was a pile of neatly placed the middle of the desk sat a familiar person, who, as they made eye contact with Naruto twitched.
Naruto smiled broadly and approached the Godaime Hokage.
"Baa-chan!" Naruto greeted the blonde haired Hokage happily before flinging the bundle of fur in his arms towards one of the clerks, careful to peel off the seal that was tacked to its forehead as the cat sailed away from his hands. In mid flight the cat came to life. The poor clerk that Naruto had thrown it to was immediately clawed on as the cat landed on his chest.
"Where's the smaller brat?" Tsunade asked in a deadpan, by now accustomed to her secretaries being mauled bay house cat from the sheer number of times Naruto requested the mission.
"Home," Naruto answered before pointing towards the now scratched and bloody secretary. "Mission Accomplished. Can I get a C rank mission that has a high chance of escalating ranks?" Naruto punctuated the request with a winning smile.
Tsunade quirked an eyebrow before she glanced down the listing in front of her. "Any reason why?" she asked in a not-quite detached manner as her eyes flickered down the list, one by one.
Naruto leaned over the desk and twisted his head in an attempt to read the mission listings. A moment later his head snapped backwards and a sharp pain registered on his forehead as Tsunade's finger flicked his forehead.
"Don't be such a brat."
Naruto frowned at the older woman and rubbed his forehead lightly. "That hurt," he protested sourly.
A quirked eyebrow met his statement. "You're a man now, I expect you to be able to handle a small tap like that."
"A small tap that could break someone's arm," Naruto muttered under his breath before, at Tsunade's look brightening up and smiling back at her.
Tsunade sighed before reaching behind to a wall of scrolls and, after a moment of searching pulled out a single blue scroll. She placed it on the desk between her and Naruto before withdrawing her hand.
Naruto peered down at the scroll curiously, before looking back to Tsuande and asking. "What's the mission?"
"Locate and retrieve a stolen painting," Tsunade supplied before leaning back in her chair and smiling.
"What's special about the painting?"
"Nothing," Tsunade answered before after a moment continuing "At least, according to the information they have provided to us."
Naruto's eyebrows rose. "That's pretty special."
Tsunade chuckled. "It really is."
"No special meaning for their family or-"
"Just an ordinary painting." Tsuande repeated. "No ties to the family, or special symbolism, simply a painting."
Naruto folded his arms across his chest. "And it was stolen?"
"Out of everything in the mansion it was the only thing stolen." The Hokage confirmed.
"That's pretty... Interesting." Naruto admitted. "How much are they paying to have it retrieved?"
"A fair bit," Tsunade admitted, "Enough for a B ranked mission, but considering the Information they provided It was determined that it was a C rank mission."
It didn't take Naruto much thought to determine his next words, "I'll take it," he decided before collecting the scroll off of the desk.
Naruto turned away from the Mission Desk and began walking back towards the stairs, he turned his head back to Tsunade and smiled at her. "I'll get this done as soon as possible, and I'll tell you what's special about it, alright Baa-chan?"
He didn't hear her reply, if she even gave one.
Naruto hummed to himself as he walked down the stairs towards the bottom floor of the tower.
"See you next time Nanami-chan!" Naruto waved his hand half heartedly at the cute brown haired clerk, who blushed and refused to look at him-- although that could have been because of the person in front of her, who was speaking to her, before he reached up to the solid wooden door and pulled it open.
Pale Lavendar eyes mimiced the action. Soon afterwards a soft, almost invisible blush registered on pale cheeks. Dark blue, almost black framed a perfectly shaped face. Naruto's eyes couldn't help but flicker down in response to the gentle slope of neck which inevitably ended at a leaf hitai-ate. Naruto's almost let his eyes wander further downwards but managed to return his eyes back to the appropriate position.
"Hinata!" Naruto greeted happily, before stepping aside and motioning for her to enter the tower. She followed his directions, stepping inside of the Hokage tower. "Good Afternoon Naruto-kun," Hinata said softly as a affectionate smile appeared on her lips. "How are you?" she asked.
"I'm good," Naruto answered with a grin. "How are you, Hinata?"
"I am well," she answered politely. She glanced around momentarily before turning her gaze back to Naruto. "Where is Makoto-chan?"
Naruto blinked. "I told her to go home early to rest up." He explained as he slipped the mission scroll in his hands into one of the many pockets that adorned the front of his vest. "We're going to train in a few hours."
A pleasant, almost adoring smile fluttered into existent on Hinata's lips. "You're a very good sensei, Naruto-kun."
Naruto blinked before his cheeks tinged with a light blush. He reached up and scratched his cheeks, letting a light laugh out. "Thanks."
Naruto paused for a moment before wracking his memory for a name, after a second it came to him.
"How's Hanabi-chan?" Naruto asked grinning. "Still cute as ever?"
Hinata's smile faded slightly, she opened her mouth to speak.
"Do I appear cute to you, Uzumaki?" a demure voice from behind Naruto started him.
Naruto spun around and was immediately greeted by another semi-familiar pair of lavender eyes which startled him.
Over the past ten years Hanabi ahd bloomed from a slip of a girl into an attractive young woman.**
"Hanabi-chan," Naruto greeted with a nervous laugh. "What a… coincidence?"
"I am here for a meeting with one of the clan heads." Hanabi explained calmly, she offered Naruto a calculating look. "Do you have any plans for this evening?" the question itself was innocent enough.
Naruto momentarily reflected inwards, he didn't have any plans to speak of. After finishing up with Makoto's training he'd imagine he'd probably get something to eat- and if trends continued as they had, pay for Makoto's as well, before heading home to sleep. He really didn't have any plans to speak of.
"I don't," Naruto admitted.
Hanabi smiled politely, "Would you like to have dinner with Onee-san and I?"
"I'd be honored, Hyuuga… sama." Naruto added on after a moment of consideration.
Hanabi nodded with a pleased expression on her face. She paused for a moment, and her eyes glided down over the front of Naruto, taking in his appearance, her nose crinkled in, dare Naruto say it? Disgust. "Please wear something appropriate for this occasion, Uzumaki."
She bowed politely. "I look forward to dining with you. Please do not be late."
Naruto blinked slowly. "I won't be," Naruto answered after a moment.
Hanabi turned away and walked towards the stairs, Naruto watched as she ascended them, and soon was out of sight.
"Please do not think badly of her," Hinata said after a moment of silence. She fidgeted momentarily. "since she became head of the Hyuuga clan she's been under more pressure to act more befitting of her position." Hinata's hands drifted towards each other.
Hinata's eyes widened as Naruto's hands firmly grasped her own, stopping them from touching. Naruto smiled unabashedly at Hinata. "It's alright, Hinata-chan, I can understand her." He gave her hands a gentle squeeze and let go. "So don't feel nervous," he chided her, to which she nodded, smiling ever so slightly.
"She still hasn't caught up to your height," Naruto noted with an amused tone. "That must annoy her."
Hinata giggled and nodded.
A moment of pleasant silence followed to which neither Naruto or Hinata cared to break. But soon enough it was.
"I should probably catch up with Haabi-chan." Hinata said with a rueful smile.
Naruto nodded and smiled. "I'll see you tonight then?"
Hinata smiled brightly and nodded. "I look forward to it."
Naruto watched with a smile and silence as Hinata walked past him and followed the same route that Hanabi had taken. Out of the corner of his eye, Naruto caught a stare to which he winked. Nanami blushed and ducked her head as Naruto walked out of the Hokage tower, his laughter following behind him.
It was a few hours later, one and a half to be precise, that Naruto found himself waiting at his and Makoto's usual training grounds. He had only been waiting a couple of minutes before a familiar head of black hair appeared in front of him with a bright smile.
"Right on time!" Makoto exclaimed happily she reached across the distance between herself and Naruto and poked his stomach. "You're too early. Show up late for once."
Naruto gave a bark of a laugh. "And give you reason to complain?" He flicked Makoto's forehead lightly. "I don't think so."
Makoto pouted and rubbed her forehead lightly.
"Ready to begin?" Naruto inquired. His response was an enthusiastic nod.
A moment later Makoto jumped backwards and landed a good five yards away. She immediately settled into a combat stance and a moment later a vision of red blossomed into life within her eyes along with twin tomoe in each eye.
"No Sharingan," Naruto chided Makoto lightly. "That comes later," he reminded her.
The Sharingan in Makoto's eyes faded away without so much as a twitch from her. A moment later she flung herself forward towards Naruto and within a split second Naruto brought his arm up and blocked a vicious kick aimed at his head. Makoto didn't miss a beat as she withdrew her foot and a moment later slammed her fist into Naruto's face, only to grimace as Naruto's palm countered the attack directly.
Soon enough Naruto went on autopilot, every now and then correcting an error Makoto made, whether it be from incorrect positioning or an inappropriate attempt. "Come on Makoto-chan!" Naruto protested, "You're usually much faster then this!"
Makoto tensed for a moment, and her eyes narrowed. A moment later Naruto grunted in surprise and his head snapped to the side as Makoto's foot snapped into his jaw. Naruto jumped away from Makoto and frowned. He absently massaged his jaw, gauging Makoto critcally. His eyes widened in recognition.
"You used a genjutsu," Naruto accused sourly.
Makoto laughed sheepishly, reaching to the back of her head and scratching it lightly. "You caught me," Makoto said.
Naruto concentrated, and a moment later he broke the genjutsu's hold on his nervous system.
"Which one was it?" Naruto asked with a smile. As Makoto opened her mouth to answer Naruto spoke again. "No, wait, don't tell me. It was the Delay?"
Makoto grinned and nodded.
"So that's why you turned on the Sharingan," Naruto murmured under his breath, looking at Makoto appraisingly. "Very sneaky," he praised, before grinning. "You know what this means right?"
A momentary look of confusion passed over Makoto's face before her eyes lit up in understanding, and a moment later horror as Naruto vanished from his stationary position. Makoto lunged to the side, barely avoiding Naruto's hand as it passed over where her head had been. Makoto's head snapped back to Naruto and her Sharingan flared to life within her eyes. A flurry of fists and feet rushed towards Naruto, who, with some small amount of difficulty, managed to block and parry each and every strike.
"You're just making it harder for yourself," Naruto taunted with a grin before lashing out at Makoto with his foot. It came as barely a shock as Makoto slipped beneath it and managed to knock his foot out from under him. Makoto's success was shortlived as Naruto's hand planted itself on the ground, and in a single stroke his foot sweeped into her side.
It was a troublesome thing, fighting against a Sharingan using only taijutsu. There wasn't really any incentive for Naruto to come out on top, besides keeping his pride. If he didn't keep it within a decent hit to miss ratio, and Makoto told her father he'd never hear the end of it. Still, unless he made it a point to Makoto that using the Sharingan wasn't the best way to train she'd keep on using it.
Naruto tensed his muscles for a moment, and then moved.
While Makoto's sharingan may have been able to keep up with him, her body, as agile and flexible as it was, was still unable to react in time.
A sharp yelp of pain erupted from Makoto's throat as a hard calloused hand slapped against her posterior, sending her jumping a few feet into the air from the sheer force of the blow. Makoto crumbled forwards against the grass and whimpered, her hands reaching back and gently covering her backside.
"No Sharingan during Taijutsu practice," Naruto chided the young Uchiha. "That's cheating."
A whimper of embarrassed pain was Naruto's only response along with a minor flinch.
Naruto's expression cracked soon enough and he sighed, before crouching down beside Makoto. "Sorry," he said after a moment of debate, and placed a hand on Makoto's shoulder, giving it a gentle squeeze. "I overdid it." he admitted.
Makoto eventually turned her head to face him and glared silently, her eyes watering lightly.
Naruto pouted. "Don't give me that look!" Naruto protested, "You were asking for it!"
She continued to glare.
Naruto sighed again. "Fine, how can I make it up to you?"
Makoto's glare remained for a few moments more, before it was gone, and along with it, the Sharingan.
"Well..." Makoto began shakily, averting her eyes from Naruto.
"Well...?" Naruto pressed on lightly.
"You can kiss my ass," Makoto finished. sending Naruto a triumphant look.
Naruto raised an eyebrow, before raising his hand.
Makoto quickly scrambled away, her cheeks blushed pink and sat down on the ground in front of Naruto. Naruto didn't miss the flinch that the girl gave at the action.
Naruto sat in front of his student, crossing his legs. He pulled out the scroll in his pocket and smiled at Makoto before tapping it with his finger. "This is a C rank mission, we're leaving tomorrow morning."
Makoto eyed the scroll with an unreadable look.
"What's the mission?" she asked quietly.
"We're to find and retrieve a missing painting." Naruto explained as he spread the scroll out in front of him.
"That's it?" Makoto said flatly. "I thought you said you'd get a good mission?" she frowned.
Naruto raised an eyebrow. "This is a good mission, it's exactly the kind you want."
Makoto's expression became confused. "But.. you said it was a missing painting."
Naruto smiled happily and nodded, "I did, now, come closer and look at how much they're paying for such a simple mission." He flipped the scroll over to allow Makoto to read.
Makoto slipped forwards onto her knees and crawled closer to Naruto, stopping with just enough distance to read the writing on the scroll comfortably. After a few moments Makoto's eyebrows rose. "Wow." she stated. Her eyes flickered past the scroll to Naruto, before moving back again. "So it isn't a simple mission?"
"Doesn't look like it," Naruto agreed with a grin.
After a few moments Makoto returned the grin and brushed Naruto's hands out of the way before slipping forwards into his lap and twisting around until she sat against him, with her back against his chest. " 'cause my butt hurts," Makoto explained before she shifted and got comfortable in Naruto's lap.
"Aren't you getting a bit old to be sitting in my lap?" Naruto asked out loud.
Makoto shook her head, causing Naruto to crinkle his nose as her hair flickered against his nose. "I'll never be too old to sit like this," she declared, before summarily snatching the scroll out of Naruto's hands and reading it.
Naruto blinked, before shrugging his shoulders. "If you say so."
"I do," Makoto insisted as she read the scroll. After a few minutes of reading Makoto finally handed the scroll back to Naruto and leaned back against Naruto's chest. "That didn't say anything about who stole the painting!" Makoto said indignantly, puffing her cheeks out.
"We're going to be meeting the clients tomorrow and getting the details from them directly." Naruto explained, resting his chin on top of Makoto's head. "As far as I am aware they don't know who stole the painting or why, the last part is pretty sketchy."
Makoto hummed her agreement. "Gotta be some reason, or else they wouldn't spend so much money getting it back, right?"
Naruto grinned. "Exactly."
"Where is Otafuku?" Makoto inquired, "Is it far away?"
Naruto shook his head. "It's just over seven and a half miles south east of Konoha." He answered.
Naruto pressed his hands against Makoto's back and gave her a light push off of his lap. Makoto pressed her feet into the ground and stubbornly tried to remain in her spot on Naruto's legs. Naruto gave a small smile before he slipped his hands under Makoto's arms, or atleast tried, Makoto immediately squeezed her arms close to her body and gave a small laugh.
"Fool me once!" Makoto said after a moment.
"Shame on you," Naruto agreed before suddenly exploding in a burst of smoke.
Makoto yelped as her backside hit the ground and, at the ensuing laughter from behind her pouted and turned around, glaring at her blonde haired sensei. "That was cheap," Makoto protested, absently rubbing her posterior.
"All's fair," Naruto insisted tauntingly, before gesturing for Makoto to stand up. "Come on, let's continue."
Makoto stood up and dusted her shorts off, before setting her hands upon her hips and giving Naruto a defiant look.
"We have a mission tomorrow," she stated, before smiling in a sickly sweet way. "Aren't you supposed to rest before a mission?"
Naruto blinked before reaching up and scratching his cheek. "That's true I suppose." He hesitated. "Alright, we'll give it a miss for today, but when we get back," his warned playfully, giving Makoto look that promised unpleasant things.
Makoto laughed it off and waved her hand. "So!" She began happily, "Naru-chan! Come to our place for dinner, I'll make you ramen!"
Naruto stared down at Makoto's excited expression dumbly for a few moments before speaking. "I have plans already," he admitted. "Can I get a rain check on the invitation?" he asked feably.
Makoto stared at Naruto in numb disbelief. "B..But ramen? What…no, who do you have plans with??" she demanded to know, stepping forwards to Naruto and folding her arms across her chest.
"The Hyuuga," Naruto answered, offering Makoto an apologetic smile. "I met Hinata and Hanabi when I went to turn in the mission and was invited."
"Can you come over before or after?" Makoto pressed on. "Mother hasn't seen you in weeks! She misses you," she paused and frowned again before puffing out her cheeks in a cute fashion. "I don't like that woman, she's up to no good."
Naruto stared at Makoto for a moment before bursting out into laughter. Makoto glared at Naruto and pounced on him, hitting him lightly on the chest. "It's not funny!"
As Naruto's laughter subsided Makoto's light hearted thumps stopped.
"Hinata isn't a bad person," Naruto assured Makoto, placing his hand on her head and tussling her hair lightly. "And Hanabi, her sister invited me to dinner, not her," he went on to say, before giving one of Makoto's short twintails a light pull, earning himself a swatt on the arm.
"I don't trust her," Makoto mumbled under her breath as she turned her gaze down.
A gentle nudge on the chin brought Makoto's eyes back up to Naruto's. Crystal blue eyes twinkled in a soft amusement. "Chin up," Naruto ordered playfully. "I'll always be your sensei, no matter what."
Makoto smiled weakly and nodded before wrapping her arms around Naruto's neck and giving him a hug. "I know," she murmured, "But I still don't like her."
Naruto's smile dulled ever so slightly out of Makoto's view. He wrapped a reassuring arm around her and gave the young Uchiha a gentle squeeze.
Neither Hanabi nor Hinata had given Naruto a definitive time to arrive. Hanabi had said 'for dinner' but dinner could have been from late in the afternoon until late in the evening. In the end, Naruto decided to play it safe and arrived just before six in the evening.
The rebuilt Hyuuga clan grounds were almost a complete replica of what they had been before Pain's attack on Konoha had obliterated the infrastructure. Whether it was a decision made to make a statement or because they couldn't have been bothered to come up with a new design, Naruto didn't know.
As it was within minutes of setting foot inside the clan grounds Naruto was quickly met and greeted by Hinata, who was still wearing the same outfit she had donned at the Hokage tower minus her hitai-ate. Naruto smiled at Hinata and waved at the white-eyed kunoichi.
Hinata returned the smile as she approached Naruto. "Good evening, Naruto-kun," Hinata said quietly. She gave Naruto an apologetic look. "We forgot to give you the time for dinner, I'm sorry."
Naruto laughed and waved the apollogy off. "No need to apologise, it was Hanabi's fault after all."
Hinata bit her bottom lip. "All the same..." She trailed off before gifting Naruto with a whimsical smile. "Dinner is going to be served in half an hour, you came at a good time." She gestured behind her. "Please follow me, Naruto-kun." she murmured.
Naruto gave off a laugh and slung an arm over Hianta's shoulders, pulling her closer to him as he began to walk in the dirction she had motioned towards, forcing Hinata to walk along with him. The blush that Hinata gave off had not gone unnoticed by Naruto. "Don't be so formal, Hinata-chan!" Naruto chided her lightly, and as she opened her mouth he brought a digit to her lips. "And don't apologise!" he insisted.
Hinata's cheeks darkened again and she nodded.
Naruto nodded in approval and dropped his finger from her lips.
Naruto stopped walking and stared at Hinata's face in mild surprise before it clicked in his mind.
"Hinata-chan!" Naruto exclaimed happily. "That was good!" he praised.
Hinata giggled softly and as they approched the front door of one of the larger buildings situated on the Hyuuga's grounds she with the utmost care removed Naruto's arm from her shoulders. Naruto didn't protest the action and dropped his arm to his side. Hinata stepped forwards and opened the door for Naruto.
Naruto blinked, before wondering alloud. "Isn't the guy supposed to do that?"
All the same Naruto entered the house.
The room was pretty plain as far as decorations went. A few scrolls laid bare on the walls. They were the attempt of the Elder Hyuuga to recreate some of the works of art and history that had once been a point of internal pride to them. As far as copies went they were quite good. Naruto couldn't really tell the difference between the newer creations and the rare few that had been salvagable from the ruins.
But apparently they could.
Probably because of the Bykakugan.
Or something like that.
In the middle of the room a modest square table sat. Rather small and not what Naruto had expected at all. Though it looked to be high quality, the varnish really brought out the growth patterns of the wood. Eventually Naruto's eyes pasted the table itself and were met with a cool familiar gaze.
Naruto stared mutely for a moment before his mind was able to seperate the figure before him from the room itself.
Hanabi sat on the opposite side of the table, motionless and demurely, every bit the noble head of the Hyuuga clan she was. Hiashi had done a good job of raising at least one of his daughter's, Naruto had to admit as his eyes traced the contors of Hanabi's neck. Hanabi wore an elegant white tinted kimono with faint lillies of gold. It was held together by a lavendar sash around her waist.
A faint smile, almost a smirk appeared on Hanabi's lips and Naruto snapped his eyes away from the path of descent they were on and made contact with the Lavender's of Hanabi's eyes. He smiled widely at the younger woman in front of him and lifted a hand.
"Good evening Hanabi-cha….sama!" Naruto corrected himself.
Hanabi inclined her head and gestured to the seat opposite her. "Please, take a seat, Uzumaki-san."
Behind him Naruto heard Hinata close the door with a faint click. Naruto walked forwards towards the table and sat down in front of the Hyuuga clan head. A moment later to his right Hinata took a seat. Contrary to what Hinata had said only minutes prior, the moment that both he and Hinata had taken their seats a door to the back of the room opened and a series of Hyuuga entered, each holding a single dish in their hands.
In a minor flurry of activity plates were set on the table. In front of himself Naruto found a bowl of white rice and a side dish of steamed vegetables. In front of both of the Hyuuga sisters sat the same thing, Naruto noted quite quickly that his portion was slightly bigger than both of the girls. It was a nice gesture; on whose part, Hinata or Hanabi's, Naruto didn't know, but it was nice all the same.
Naruto gave an appreciative smile to the departing Hyuuga and reached for the chopsticks that had been set down along with the plate. A sharp look from the hostess stilled Naruto's hand, and a moment later Hanabi picked her chopsticks up from the table and began to eat. The moment that the steamed vegetable- carot, touched her lips Hinata mimicked the action and Naruto soon followed after.
Dinner with the Hyuuga turned out to be a quiet affair, after a few small almost mistakes, which were stopped by little more than a sharp look the meal went smoothly. Naruto had to admit that he enjoyed the meal. While he would never say it out loud, and if pressed would flat out deny it until his last breath, he had enjoyed the meal as much as Ichiraku's ramen.
Throughout the entire experience Naruto remained quiet, though at one point he had almost initiated conversation he had thought better of it, it almost felt like it would be rude to. As the last course came and went Naruto set his chopsticks down on top of his plate before quietly speaking. "Thank you for the meal."
Hanabi inclined her head and not a moment later the back door opened again, and in came three of the people who had served the meal. They quickly collected the dishes from the table and replaced them with three small cups and a single bottle of what Naruto assumed to be sake. The bottle was quickly picked up again and small amounts of the liquid was poured into each of the cups that sat on the table.
"Thank you," Naruto said out of habit as the Hyuuga poured the sake into the cup in front of him. He received a kind smile in return.
Naruto didn't wait for Hanabi to take the first action this time, without hesitation he brought the cup up to his lips and in a single motion poured the fermented rice wine into his mouth. The liquid burned it's way down his throat and settled in his stomach with a pleasant burn. A pleased sigh escaped Naruto's lips as he set the cup back down on the table and met Hanabi's gaze. A cool disapproving look met Naruto. No words were exchanged and hanabi took a light sip of her own cup.
"When do you intend to take over the role of Hokage?" Hanabi asked suddenly, and by her standards, bluntly.
Naruto blinked in mild surprise, it took him a few moments to calculate a response. "When Oba-schan is ready to retire," he answered easily, before asking a question of his own. "What brought that on?"
A light shrug was all the answer Hanabi gave before taking another small sip.
"You may drink more," Hanabi said after a moment of silence.
Naruto nodded and reached for the bottle, at the same time he turned his attenttion to Hinata. "How was your day, Hinata-chan?" he asked pleasantly as he poured some of the sake into his empty cup.
"It was good," Hinata answered quietly, as she craddled the cup of sake in her hands, she had yet to take a drink from it.
Naruto nodded acceptingly, before sparring Hanabi a glance. "And yours, Hanabi-chan?"
"It was a productive day," Hanabi said after a moment of consideration. She smiled ever so slightly as she brought her cup up to her lips and took a third sip. She glanced down into the cup after a moment before extending it towards Naruto.
The gesture pretty much said it all cosndiering that Naruto still held the sake bottle in his hand. With a small measure of care Naruto poured the sake into Hanabi's cup, before, as the level neared an invisible marker on the inside of the cup, he stopped and set the sake bottle down on the table.
Hanabi brought her cup closer to her and took a small sip before setting it down on the table in front of her. "Was your day productive, Naruto?"
It took Naruto a moment to answer. "It was, in a way," he admitted, "I've finally got Makoto-chan to want to do C rank missions." A disgruntled look over came his face. "I remember when I was a Genin I couldn't wait for a C rank." Naruto chuckled lightly. "I think I spoiled her, she expected to be on B rank missions by now."
At Hanabi's questioning look Naruto explained further. "Since I wouldn't, well couldn't get B rank missions she decided to be mutinous and request only D rank missions." A raised eyebrow followed. "...I let her choose what missions we take."
Hinata smiled ever so slightly at Naruto's right at the flat look that Hanabi gifted Naruto with.
"What?" Naruto protested. "It worked in the begining," he insisted.
A soft laugh passed from Hanabi's lips and a warm smile finally appeared.
"That's very considerate of you."
"Well, I am her godfather," Naruto said honestly. "I don't want her to hate me, you know?"
"She's lucky to have you," Hinata said quietly.