Chapter Twenty-Three: Prelude to Love and Festivals, Part 2
Crowds weren't Konohamaru's thing.
In fact, he hated crowds. The reason being, they tend to associate people like things to be compared.
As a person rooted deep with high expectations and relation to the Sarutobi household, he had a name to live up to. At least, that's what MANY of the villagers view him as, the grandchild of the Sandaime Hokage, Sarutobi Hiruzen, who was the Shinobi no Kami (God of Shinobi) master of all forms of ninja combat.
It was a name that terribly weighed down on him. The Sarutobi name was a name that bore the banner of legends on their backs, etched with a long history of excellence. His great grandfather, Sarutobi Sasuke, was a famous ninja of his own right as was his dearly departed uncle, Asuma, a member of the Shugonin Junishi (Twelve Guardian Ninja). Many of the villagers expected great things from the grandson of the Sandaime. Konohamaru was, after all, a ninja of the infamous Sarutobi household.
It brought a lot of anger out of him at that. It turned him into the spoiled brat that he was until four years ago. The fact that he had a name to live up to was sickening. It didn't view him as Sarutobi Konohamaru. It told him he was the Sandaime Hokage's grandson. He could only imagine what kind of pressure Kurenai's off-spring would have when faced with these facts alone.
But even though he had a certain disdain of crowds, sometimes though, he had to deal with it. It's not like he was the only one who had a problem with dealing with them, Naruto had to as well. Where he was looked at as the honourable grandson of the Sandaime, his mentor was viewed as the opposite. Naruto, who had always been a subject of scorn for much of his youth, took the judging eyes of the crowd with nothing but a stride. He would simply choose to ignore it or prove them wrong. Throughout his youth, or from what Konohamaru could gather from his mentor, it would often lead to the latter rather than the former. He would always challenge people and show them that they wrong. Most of the time, he failed at that, but sometimes, brilliance would work its magic in ways that would leave people shocked and with Naruto having that confident smug that clearly tells it all.
To say his achievements throughout his career as a shinobi far exceeded of what he was when he was a mere academy student would be an understatement. He had blown past his set expectations with a rampaging summon and burned all false and negative assumptions to the ground.
Defeating a chuunin at twelve (Mizuki), outsmarting an experienced fighter who was considered a member of the seven swordsmen (Zabuza), surviving against a known S-class criminal (Orochimaru), summoning the toad chief at the earlier stages of his training with Jiraiya, beating a Jinchuuriki that manifested his powers to an extent that he seemed almost invincible (Gaara), learning the Rasengan in a week that took the Fourth Freaking Hokage three years to come up and master. And that was just during his first year of being a genin!
Compared to the blonde's accomplishments, his seemed lukewarm.
But he couldn't deny that Naruto, despite his lacking skills, despite his notoriety for being an idiot and despite his countless failures, all of it paled in comparison to his achievements. No one in the entire history of the Shinobi nations has reached a higher pedestal past Naruto in terms of his strength during and after the war at a tender age of sixteen. He became the most dangerous man alive. Whereas his father was known as the Yellow Flash and to a more gruesome extent, the Butcher of Iwa, Naruto was known as the Scarlet Tempest or simply, 'The Maelstrom' as a testament to his lineage that the crest on his back symbolized.
So amidst the people squeezing in and trying to get a view of the wonderful and colorful floats, the reeking smell of sweat and BO coming from the people in the middle of a sweltering day, he had to bear the crowd as if he was going through a war. Today was one of those days that they had to be on guard and be swift, ever vigilant of their most nefarious foe that seek to capture the hearts of people in a spell-binding oath.
At the current time, it was his shift.
"Sempai… I know that I'm being so sudden since we just met over a month ago, but ever since we've met, you've been so nice to me and really showed me how to have a good time…"
Konohamaru's hearing was quick to pick up the voice of his dangerous foe. With a swift turn of his heel, the brunette turned his back and grabbed one smoke bomb from his pouch. The brunette placed it between his middle and index fingers as his eyes squinted to look for his enemy.
"What I'm trying to say is, that I…"
With dexterity tried and true, the brunette spotted his targets. Both were facing each other, just behind lamp post. No other person was currently present there, so it was good that there were very few people around.
The small pellet exploded with black smog escaping between the teenagers. But just as they were about to get out, they instantly fell to the ground in a heap.
The brunette had been asked to carry smoke bombs mixed with sleep inducers. Naruto's clones made it the night before when they were out and looking at the festival, so he had plenty to spare.
Konohamaru grabbed his cell phone from his pocket and called over the logistics division that the school had set up earlier.
"Yeah, I got two students knocked out here. I don't know why, must be the heat. We're located at the southern sector, near a lamp post with a clock on top; get here as soon as you can." The brunette lied. He then looked over to the clock with much anticipation as his shift was about to be over.
He did not appreciate the fact that his current job was putting him in an awkward position, seeing teenagers hormonally charged like that.
'Good grief, am I going to be like THAT?' The brunette thought with a shudder. Not that he was thoroughly scared of the fact that he saw people older than him being that… Frisky, but what actually made him blanch out was the desperation that people would put into great lengths when it comes to intimate relationships.
He hoped that when he grows up, he never comes to that.
The brunette soon was relieved from his post when one of the people he had seen during the meeting yesterday walked up to him and told him he could go. Konohamaru, who was wearing the standard Konoha uniform, gladly accepted and went away, happy to be gone from the heat for a while.
He told himself that he needed to relax for a moment as he sat by a park bench after getting a cold can of juice from the dispenser under a shaded area and sighed in relief.
"Have to relax first, and then I have to go find Negi and the others. I bet Naruto-nii forgot to remind Negi about warning the girls not to try anything today." He told himself and took of a few sips from his juice while gazing at the Sakura trees around him.
Speaking of Naruto, the blonde mentor had earlier created at least a hundred copies of himself to scour around the campus earlier in the day. Konohamaru was then given a signal torch if he ever was in trouble. The brunette didn't look convinced when he sent the clones out, he may have set them up as outposts throughout the academy, and the delegated task to him has become almost obsolete, it would mean that Naruto would most likely goof off all around the place. It was his nature after all.
With all of the points well guarded by his clones, disguised as people he could remember, the blonde was having a field day all around the festival like a kid who just opened and consumed a whole bag of sugar.
"WILL YOU PLEASE STOP ALREADY? I'M BEGGING YOU, ITS ALMOST TWO MONTHS WORTH OF MONEY YOU GOT FROM ME!"
The vendor sobbed as he pleaded Naruto to stop after popping up another balloon and yet won another prize to add to his pile. Said vendor was already down on his knees and hugging the blonde's leg, as if his house was being taken away from him.
Naruto popped another balloon.
The vendor just bawled.
Feeling pity on the man, Naruto left him with three prizes that he thought were a bit excessive (The human sized Teddy Bear being one of them).
After this display of near perfect marksmanship and almost driving the poor vendor out of business, many owners of the nearby game stalls shuddered when Naruto walked to their general direction and clung on to their money for dear life.
The blonde, who had by then started giving away prizes to any person that he met along the way (Although innocent on Naruto's part, many of the girls that he had randomly given a gift would find his gesture romantic and would react with either a blush or flirting with the oblivious teacher).
Naruto, who had inadvertently fended off another girl with his careless choice of words, managed to meet up with Negi and Chamo as he made his way towards his class.
"Naruto-nii, you're here early! Shouldn't you be doing your shift right now?" Negi asked and Naruto nodded with a grin.
"Yep, I got all seven points guarded by my clones. There are at least several of them disguised as different people if you're wondering."
Negi looked quite jealous of Naruto's ability to multitask. He could go on in different places all at once, which was why he didn't have a problem in going to the events that the girls practically begged him to come with. And with the benefits that this certain cloning technique possesses, it would be as if Naruto himself was at every event that he promised to go even though technically, he would be goofing off to god knows where.
"Wow, I wish I had that ability, Naruto-nii. Then I could go to all the events that my students kept asking me about." Negi said in astonishment and Naruto simply shook his head at it.
"I wouldn't recommend it. Kage Bunshin halves my chakra for equal distribution to the clones. Because I have a whole lot of it, I can create as much as a thousand. Apart from possibly one other, only I can practically use it like it doesn't have anything harmful in it. You could probably make five but that's about it. Make more and you'll die."
Negi paled at that while Chamo's mouth almost hit the floor. Naruto may be more of a powerful beast than they thought. He could certainly stand toe to toe with Evangeline, and it would certainly make sense that this much power should only be compared with the doll master herself.
"Well, enough about me, what are you two doing?" The blonde asked as the two tried to regain their composure from that astonishment. The red head replied, "We were about to make our way to the haunted house to see the girls and how much their hard work paid off."
"Oh yeah, that reminds me, remember what the principal warned you about?" Naruto mentioned, remembering the principal's warning since yesterday.
"You three should watch out for yourselves."
Negi tilted his head to the side at that. He wondered just what the old man had meant. Naruto answered for him, "Weird, huh? Anyway, just to be on the safe side, don't let any of your students get close to those seven spots and 'throw the cards down at the table', if you know what I mean."
"Throw the cards on the table?" Negi asked as to what allusion Naruto was playing at.
"Confess, Negi! Confessing on these seven spots! You want one of your students to be mindless love slaves for the rest of their lives?" Naruto asked, rather incredulously at that. Negi shook his head slowly at the thought. Naruto's mind had never crossed the fact that Negi might become a victim too.
They made it to Class 3-A's event which ironically enough for the past few weeks, was a haunted house. Naruto could have sworn somebody was taunting him and reminding him about that adult store they visited a few weeks prior thinking it was a haunted house itself.
"Negi-kun, Naruto-sensei, we're over here!"
Sakurako and Yuuna both waved at them when Konohamaru was right at the front of the line by the entrance. Obviously though, Naruto and Konohamaru's attentions weren't on the highly detailed entrance that led to the house of horrors, but on the risqué outfits that each of the girls were wearing.
"You know, I could have sworn this was a haunted house. Aren't you girls supposed to be scary looking?" Naruto said, bending down a little and eyeing both Sakurako and Yuuna who blushed under Naruto's discerning gaze.
While Yuuna was looking like a very sexy werewolf that shaved its fur from her top and midriff down to her legs, Sakurako was wearing what Naruto would call the half-pint's (Evangeline) fetish for leather.
"Because of your help, we've managed to establish the 'Heartbeat Haunted House'! It's a huge success!" Yuuna shouted.
"We also require a five hundred yen pay if there's any form of inappropriate touching!" Sakurako chimed in, earning a look from Naruto that clearly tells him that he was surprised.
"You do know putting that fine only encourages them more, right?" Naruto clarified as he looked back at the men who were stuffing five hundred yen coins into their pockets hurriedly while Naruto simply gave a frown as he looked back at Yuuna and pointing with his thumb at the line behind them.
Yuuna just shrugged.
Konohamaru raised his eyebrow at this, "Are you sure that it's because of the haunted house that they're going to? I don't really see it that way."
The people behind the three suddenly voiced their opinion with Negi's group taking cutting in line all the way to the front. Sakurako immediately apologized.
"Oh, we're sorry, these three are our teachers!"
Everyone seemed to have stopped at that when Sakurako explained to them.
The two girls then led them inside, the sounds of the speakers hissing and wailing of a random voice was the first to greet them as they looked around. Barely, Naruto could make out the brick walls as nothing more than paper mache. It looked real enough, he guessed. Then, to each door waited three girls from left to right, Akira with her role as a modest school girl wearing the traditional sailor uniform, Makie, a dark kimono and blood red obi, complimented with her hair decorations, her hands were clasped together at her front as she bowed deeply. Ayaka was different from the other two, though. Whereas Akira's attire was simple or wasn't as covered as Makie, hers was a western night gown reaching up to her ankles and covering her feet, the sleeves covered the lower part of her shoulders, showing her creamy white skin underneath, along with the upper half of her chest (certainly it was sizeable enough for one of her age). Naruto mused that if Jiraiya was here, he would have given a nod of approval. Then again, even his sensei might freak out about Ayaka's… preference, if you will.
Behind the three girls placed three doors complimenting their costumes. The one behind Akira was a door with a glass window near the top, signalling its school like setting (School Curses) from what the sign says, it had the highest fear factor, apparently not cute (?) and a very high love-love factor (?). From Makie's, it was a traditional shoji sliding door with the same traditional white rice paper placed in between the thin wooden frames placed on top of the door frame was a sign that told them its theme, Traditional Japanese horror stories that had a mediocre fear factor (again, Konohamaru's reaction was basically tilting his head in confusion), one star for its cute factor (?) and a mediocre love-love factor (?). Finally, behind Ayaka was a plain wooden door. No windows, no rice paper, and not even a sillohouete from behind the scenes. At the top it read, "Gothic Horrors" and a very low scare rating, a low love-love rating, but with the highest cute factor.
"Now, you three, select whatever door you want to go in!" Sakurako commanded, Negi looked quite nervous but before he could even decide, Konohamaru raised his hand as if he wanted to ask a question.
"Are you sure we're in a haunted house? I get the feeling that this is more than just that."
Naruto solemnly nodded at this, "You may be right about that one, Konohamaru. The whole rating thing is terribly confusing. It's as if groping isn't really forbidden and stuff."
Naruto had a few tangles with reading instructions to the letter. The Chuunin exam was enough of a testament to that. Nobody in here ever said that touching was forbidden yet everyone was neither stupid enough nor ballsy enough to pull it off. Then again, the fine was rather, lenient to his liking so maybe the girls were thinking that it was fine to be touched? Or is it they were THAT kinky?
Naruto shook his head at the thought. No. These were his students! Pure maidens that were subtly looking for some but not outright deliberate enough to offer their bodies in the process!
His musings became short lived at that when Sakurako suggested that Negi would do the honours of picking a door first.
"That's crazy! You would want Negi-sensei enter the haunted house?" Makie voiced her protest over the matter. Obviously, there was clearly something wrong in sending a boy into something like this. Ayaka agreed to her statement, much to the nod coming from Konohamaru.
"He'll easily get scared and he'll immediately cling to somebody…" Suddenly realizing their opportunity of taking advantage of Negi in the dark, Ayaka and Makie looked at Negi with predatory stares, the kind of which of how a hawk or eagle saw a tiny little mouse about to be eaten.
Konohamaru kept looking between Negi and his two admirers and noticed how much tension (and fear) was currently escaping through the air. Naruto was simply keeping quiet and watched with mild fascination (and fear) as Negi took Akira's side and went for the door with the school curses.
Naruto inwardly laughed at the scene as Ayaka and Makie felt like they were shot down horribly, from a ten year old at that.
Now that left two doors for Naruto and Konohamaru to choose each. And seeing as Ayaka's mood turned sour, Konohamaru did not want to deal with a broken hearted woman right now simply because he didn't know how to deal with a broken hearted woman.
"I choose the Traditional Japanese horror theme, please!" Both of them mentioned at the same time.
Konohamaru foresaw this. It wasn't as if Naruto's irrational fear of Ayaka was unknown to him, so it was unsurprising that Naruto would choose either Akira's door or Makie's. And although it was quite insensitive on his part, Konohamaru was getting tired of Naruto's shtick when it came to Ayaka, that guy needed to forget all about Orochimaru, it wasn't as if he was going to reincarnate anyway, he's still stuck in that sword Itachi used to seal him for eternity.
"Oh my, Makie, you're quite popular with our two senseis right now, aren't you glad?" Yuuna teased and nudged the girl's shoulder earning a blush and a pout coming from Makie. She really wanted Negi to choose her. But maybe she was too enthusiastic in coming on to the boy, which was probably why he chose Akira, who had no lingering feelings to Negi.
"It looks like we'll settle this with a fight then." Konohamaru looked serious as he eyed the blonde who merely glared sideways at him, if one were to look closely, they would probably see a bolt of electricity clashing in the middle of master and apprentice.
"Stupid apprentice, I'm telling you to drop it, let your master have a break from the disturbing mental images." Naruto said, trying to sate his patience on Konohamaru with gritted teeth. But nonetheless, he complied with Konohamaru's offer.
Naruto and Konohamaru never looked that serious in front of the girls. Most of the time, Naruto looked carefree while Konohamaru always looked so detached as if he didn't have much to care for. But now, they could actually feel as if Naruto and Konohamaru's spirits were on fire, showing both their determination and resolve, how they were close to killing the opponent that stood in front of them.
The girls and some of the guys at the front row visibly tensed. Two teachers were about to duke it out in front of their students? What the hell was the world coming to?
"Defeat means death!" Both of them shouted and reeled back the girls were about to stop both of them when they were several inches away from punching each other's lights out.
"JAN KEN PO!"
"Paper beats rock!" Both hands were paper.
"Scissors beat paper!" Both were Scissors.
"Rock beats scissors!" Both were Rocks.
Several of the girls and some of the boys fell down all around the duo as they battled it out in a game of pure chance.
It finally stopped when Konohamaru drew rock and Naruto drew scissors.
"I win!" Konohamaru gloated in front of Naruto who was shaking in frustration.
"Do over! Best two out of three times!" Naruto demanded but Konohamaru would have none of it.
"Haha! I beat you fair and square Naruto-nii! Now take your medicine like a man!" To this, Konohamaru pointed to the blonde as he flinched and took a step back.
A moment of consternation escaped within Naruto as he was deep in thought at the sudden loss. Looking back at a stoic Ayaka and a smirking Konohamaru, Naruto looked glum as he sat on a fetal position and began poking the ground with his index finger.
"I-I just can't do it." The blonde muttered and began shivering when he was starting to remember the times Orochimaru was playfully twirling his neck around and constricting Sasuke with it, except, it wasn't Sasuke who was the prey, it was him and it wasn't the snake Sannin that was coiling his legs with his hideously long tongue out in the open, it was Ayaka and she was twirling her head around him.
Naruto held his head and was shaking, "May God help us all!"
By now, Konohamaru was inside and was quietly (if bored) looking around as Makie took him in the horror scenario of his choice. Being a ninja, he had at least a better awareness of his surroundings like how he should expect something coming out of that Tatami mat any second. An idea suddenly popped into his head as he grinned. He snuck up behind the Tatami mat, careful to not being noticed by Makie that he strayed from her tour.
He snuck up behind the Tatami mat and awaited his would be victim to pop up any minute.
It was then that a disembodied voice began to speak, "Many tales that involve Yokai circulated throughout the Edo period at a time when the Sengoku era had ended and Tokugawa Ieyasu took reign. Forged from the tales of the Heian period due to their bourgeois lifestyle and the dark whisperings of the Hyakumonogatari Kaidankai (One Hundred Ghost Story Night), one of them was a Yokai that thirsts for vengeance for the mistreatment and abuse she has received in her entire life."
Konohamaru then smirked.
"It is said that this Yokai haunts men in the darkness, prowling aimlessly, looking for a victim unlucky enough to go near it."
The floorboards creaked and the Tatami mat slowly gave a sound.
The brunette seemingly still, naturally blended in the darkness as the lights became dimmer and dimmer. A manic laugh then echoed all around.
"Beware of its manic laugh, for as soon as a man replies with a laugh as well, the Harionago (Needle woman) will hunt him down to the ends of the earth and torture him until his death!"
Just then, a girl in a white robe popped out expectantly under the Tatami mat, her ebony hair was completely dishevelled, covering the entirety of her face as her hands reached out and was leaning forward.
The girl stopped her acting though, when she saw literally no one in front of her. Maybe the person ran away when she popped up and scared the poor guy/girl away?
A tap on her shoulder caught her by surprise and she turned her head.
When she did, however, Konohamaru was there making faces and scaring the living daylights out of her!
"Give me your soul!" Konohamaru said in a creepy voice.
Ako suddenly shrieked.
Makie hurriedly went back to where the audible scream came from and saw Ako almost to the brink of fainting while Konohamaru was holding him up with a bead of sweat at the back of his head.
"She's surprisingly easy to scare." Konohamaru mentioned.
On to Naruto's side of the haunted tour, he kept his reasonable distance (About five meters) from the class representative who was looking quite depressed. Of course, this somehow had the effect of Naruto unknowingly catching up to the girl and the blonde jinchuuriki looking surprised when he bumped into her.
The contact was brief but it was enough to put a tingle in Naruto's spine up and down in pure abject horror.
'Oh God, my predecessors back in Myobokuzan must be delivering this punishment because I toppled over the statues! I already put it back in place! Wasn't that enough?'
"Naruto-sensei, am I ugly?"
That question caught him off guard that it caused him to flinch.
Nonetheless he had to give an answer, so answer he did.
"Uh, no… What ever crossed your mind that you were ugly? You're really pretty when you look at a mirror, class president."
Naruto felt like he complimented Orochimaru. Seriously, he wanted to bang his head on the wall and he was close to doing so. Unknowingly, rivers of tears were slowly escaping his eyes.
'Ugh, I feel so dirty.' Naruto thought in disgust. He sluggishly tried to keep up with Ayaka's pace.
"T-Then why did Negi-sensei…"
"You were probably too eager and Negi felt something seriously wrong was about to happen if he stayed with you." Naruto quickly cut off, dismissing another prank held together by the twins as they walked.
'Think of something positive.' Naruto chanted that mantra in his head over and over again as he was tempted to clasp his hands together for a better effect. It didn't mean that what he thought was friendly.
'Kiba getting decked by Sakura for mistakenly hearing that she was an ironing board, yeah, that's good.' Naruto mentioned and a grin slowly crept up his face. He remembered that one. Apparently, people should never mention the word 'flat' or anything remotely similar to it around Sakura when she's either near Hinata and Temari or when she's having her period. It did not end well when both happened in the same time while Kiba thought about buying a brand new ironing board and the implications that came along when he asked Sakura for some advice.
He got it alright, a trip to Konoha Hospital for two weeks and a compound fracture was just a bonus he received from being slammed with the item in question, along with the confusion and terror that Kiba had gained from Sakura.
"B-but… Isn't it the best way to express your affections?" Ayaka asked and cutting off the blonde from memories he was rather fond of.
"True, but then again, that type of action tend to turn the recipient off."
Another memory invading his thoughts, this time, in the form of Sasuke almost stripped down to the bone because of his Fangirls. The face of the Uchiha was as priceless as watching the old pervert get smashed in the head with Tsunade's fist.
"I honestly don't have an answer for that because I can barely understand this whole attraction thing. But if it makes it easier for you, I've been rejected by the same girl I've been pinning on for at least more than a hundred times." Naruto answered and grinned.
'Of course, the punches to the face were can be a little overboard, though.' He added as an afterthought and a sense of phantom pain lingered on his left cheek.
Now that had Ayaka's curiosity spinning.
"You kept your admiration to the girl you liked even after she said no for more than a hundred times?" Ayaka asked, rather incredulous of the fact. Naruto simply shrugged.
"It's because back then, I had a shallow view on what love is. Even if you persist, if the answer was no, then what can I do about it?" Naruto said and shrugged, this time his hands in his pockets.
"We learn a lot of things when we get to experience love. There was one time when I stopped and asked myself why she kept rejecting me even though I've done a lot of things for her and paid attention to her, I feel like it was a wasted and meaningless effort. Just when I accepted the fact that she would never love me, she goes around and admits that she DOES love me." Naruto said, and this time, that irrational fear was slowly dissipating from his thoughts.
"Then eventually, the one that you love will surely love you if you persist?" Ayaka asked, looking hopeful but stopped when Naruto shook his head with a melancholic smile.
A memory of that snowy day suddenly invaded his thoughts, as he spoke with Ayaka. His goofy expression earlier was now replaced with a smile dashed with sadness.
"A lot of the things she said about her feelings were lies. She didn't really have any sort of romantic feelings for me. Its funny isn't it? I thought for sure that when she said those words to me, I'd be the happiest man alive, instead I was angry. She wasn't just lying to me, she was lying to herself. I couldn't just live with myself if I just went along with her like that." Naruto said and finally, for the first time, he touched Ayaka by her hair and began to tussle it with a much brighter smile.
"It's funny also, that to think I could ever find some sort of kindred spirit with you. But in my case, my fear of rejection was overshadowed with something else." Naruto then let go of the girl's head and continued to walk. Ayaka simply looked on silently at the blonde before finally asking her question, curious of what Naruto had meant.
"Overshadowed with what, Naruto-sensei?" Her words finally got out. Naruto stopped before turning back to Ayaka.
"Nobody has what it takes to defeat loneliness. It's an experience that no one should ever have. My greatest fear was dying all alone, in a dark room, with no one even crying for me. I don't want to go back to that kind of place, a place where every waking moment of my life, I've had no one to lean on."
It was weird. Somehow, bearing his soul like this made him forget about his long standing thoughts of Ayaka being a hotter version of Orochimaru. Instead, he was seeing a woman standing before him, looking for something to help her in her time of need.
Ayaka glanced at Naruto with a newfound respect. Who ever knew that their goofy sensei had a deep side of him? Especially one so empathic to other people as well?
That established image of a bright and energetic teacher was replaced by a much different visage than what she had expected. In her eyes stood not a laidback person, she was now staring at a mature boy, with years of heartache and pain, collected and formed into a single person. Standing now before her, was not Naruto-sensei, the weird and all around goofball of Mahora academy, but Naruto-sensei, the teacher possibly wise beyond his years and one who has a deep sense of understanding about his own life and how he refused to give in.
Ayaka was not sure what to say to her sensei, but she somehow felt compelled to apologize.
Just before she could open her mouth to say something, a scream was heard that eerily sounded like Negi's. Naruto, for the first time in Ayaka's presence, laughed heartily.
"Well, looks like Negi couldn't handle the scare factor. Let's get this over with and see how my cute little kohai is doing." Naruto mentioned and Ayaka pushed the thoughts of apologizing to Naruto some other time.
When they finally made it to the main attraction, Naruto was instantly laughing that he clutched his stomach in pain.
"DON'T LAUGH! I'LL KILL YOU!" Evangeline shouted.
"H-how can I help it? You try so hard to be scary that you look cute instead of terrifying your customers! Maybe I should go back again and pay the others so I could see you again!" Naruto pointed and laughed once more at Evangeline's expense. The little girl was shaking with fury as she restrained herself from summoning another axe of thunder from slamming on the blonde.
Ayaka paused for a moment and shook her head. Perhaps Naruto was more mature and to an extent, can give out much more life lessons than Negi, but he sure can be mischievous and much more childish than Negi as well.
"When I get out of here, the first thing I'm going to do is shove a spear to your gut, Uzumaki!" Evangeline threatened as Naruto waved at her with a laugh while walking towards the exit.
When he made it outside, Konohamaru was scratching the back of his head and was profusely apologizing to the class about making Ako faint. As another token of apology, Konohamaru promised to go to their concert.
"Real smooth there, Konohamaru, I never thought you would go back to your pranking ways when you were ten." Naruto mentioned with a sly grin, the brunette simply glared at his master before he retorted.
"And you aren't?"
"I'm not denying that, am I?" Naruto asked grinning from ear to ear as Konohamaru scowled.
"I just got bored." He said, Naruto simply replied with a grin.
"Right, you got bored. Tell me, are you feeling relaxed in Mahora?" Naruto asked. Obviously there was something going on with Naruto's head. Konohamaru replied with a question to the blonde.
"Why? What does that have to do with…?"
"Just answer the question." Naruto quickly interrupted with an irritated expression. Konohamaru answered him truthfully. He looked away from his master and turned back to the class members who were doing everything they can in managing the haunted house. Konohamaru sighed and sat down on the floor while Naruto leaned against the wall.
"In truth, I've never had this much fun in my entire life. I know that this is just a temporary thing set up with the dean and that eventually we'll be leaving as soon as you discover a way for us out of here. But regardless, it's going to be hard telling them our goodbyes."
'I'm sorry Konohamaru, but you're probably going to stay here for a while. I've dragged you far too much with my problems.'
"We'll be staying here a bit longer than I imagined then. With some things recently coming up, I can't come up with a seal right now to take us back." Naruto decided and Konohamaru suddenly stood up, eyes wide from Naruto's statement.
"What are you talking about?"
"There are a lot of things I need to do before going back. Some loose ends need tying up and I don't feel like leaving them undone." Naruto mentioned vaguely at this as he went away.
"Where are you going?" Konohamaru asked and Naruto shrugged at his apprentice's questioning.
"Somewhere fun, if you ever have some sort of problem, there are clones here that are in disguise. You should be able to identify them when you see them."
"Yosh, Neji-kun, today is the day you will taste defeat! Prepare yourself!" A boy with a thick set of eyebrows and a bowl cut, clad in a green jumpsuit a green flack vest, bandaged arms up to the elbow, and orange leg warmers, declared and pointed directly to another boy with straight black hair wearing white loose fitting clothes and some sort of sash on his waist. The boy was simply glaring at the Bruce Lee clone before accepting the challenge.
Most of the spectators watched and quickly noticed how composed the other boy was as he entered into his stance before he spoke, "Then come at me, Lee! Let us see once and for all just whose youth burns brighter than most!"
Everyone had a bead of sweat falling from the back of their heads.
"Yosh, Kakashi, my eternal rival! I challenge you to a match!"
"Huh? You say something?" The person in question asked but his attention not focused on his book anymore as the other Bruce Lee clone shook with fury.
"KAAHHH! My eternal rival is so hip! Very well then! Let us decide this match with a game of charades!"
Needless to say, nobody would be able to confess their feelings in this place not with that Bruce Lee looking person kept pestering the one with the mask.
3-A's Haunted House booth:
"I'll take note of it." Konohamaru said before going to the infirmary. He had heard Negi was currently resting there and he felt like he could use the nap as well. Last night was one hell of a roller coaster. Maybe a nice nap would be the perfect thing to make him relax.
As Naruto headed to Chao Bao Zi, he couldn't help as his features darkened. He knew it was risky, but it was time to confront Chao about the whole mess. He might be going against Negi's word, but he needed to know just how much Chao knows.
Right now, Konohamaru had just had the pleasure of seeing Negi who was talking to the library trio when obviously Negi was standing right here with them.
Negi had pointed out the obvious loudly but was quickly silenced by Setsuna who dunked the boy's head behind a large mascot.
"Just what happened?" Negi asked obviously confused, trying to make sense of why it was ten in the morning when his cell phone had indicated it was eight in the evening.
Setsuna, ever the composed girl, had stated on what she observed about the issue.
"I don't exactly have enough proof to state what really happened since there has been no magic like this ever recorded to have ever been achieved."
Chamo quickly added his conclusion in to the matter, "Most likely, we've travelled back into the past for a few hours with some sort of time machine."
"Then that would explain Negi standing over there. We accidentally created a paradox." Konohamaru stated, hand on his chin and thinking rather deeply.
An important factor to remember about time and space Ninjutsu was, no matter how many times people try, a jutsu to send people back in time was impossible. Peering into the future was the only thing that could even remotely resemble a way to manipulate time and that is where the limits end. A time and space Ninjutsu only lasted for Nano-seconds and even then it takes a huge chunk of chakra and a ridiculous amount of requirements or at least for any other person not Uchiha Madara.
If a jutsu existed like that, then there's a high chance that many people would be scrambling to get into the past and do things that they wanted to a future that would suit to their liking, a nightmare of the worst kind.
But this? This was something only science fiction nuts could only dream to have. A way to actually travel through time! Granted, it was only for a few hours back but it was still amazing!
"I-I want to go to the period of the dinosaurs!" Negi exclaimed, his eyes shining with mirth and wonder of the device lying in his hands.
Konohamaru and Setsuna shook their heads at this while they watched Negi. He was still a child after all.
But he had to pause for a moment there. The machine that sent them back through time was a gift coming from Chao, the person that Naruto told him to be careful with. He knew he couldn't use it just like that. There might be something in the watch and Chao's gesture that would have another motive than just being grateful.
"Just giving it away has already been suspicious enough, though. Something like this should have caught on the interest of the research institute. I doubt that Chao would suddenly give something like this out of the goodness of her heart." Konohamaru voiced out and Setsuna had to agree with the brunette.
Negi, however, looked like a kid on Christmas Morning as he held the watch in his hands.
"This is wonderful! How can you not trust your student? With this, our problems are solved!"
The boy spun around and held the item in his hand high.
"Why are you spinning around so happily? Have you been infected by the idiots in our class?"
That brought Negi out of his reverie as the voice of his master pierced in his ear as if his alarm bells started ringing. He turned his eyes towards the source of the voice and sure enough, there stood Evangeline wearing a very frilly dress with Chachazero by her side.
Evangeline's eyes were trailing from the boy's expression down to the item he had been hiding in his hands.
Evangeline smirked, "Well, well, well, it feels as if you're hiding something from me. Could it be that item in your hands is the thing in question?"
Negi fidgeted and started sweating bullets, he was already stuttering.
"O-Oh, no, this is…"
Evangeline's smirk grew, "Hiding it makes it even more suspicious. I feel that there's something powerful inside."
It was then that Evangeline's features turned intimidating on to the boy, "Hurry up and hand it over. What's the matter? I won't take advantage of it."
Negi could feel that the vampire was lying, and just to add fuel to the fire, Chachazero helpfully added, "Negi's possessions are master's possessions and master's possessions are master's possessions."
That did it. Negi sprinted away as Setsuna and Konohamaru in his wake all the while screaming apologies to the vampire.
Once they were gone from Eva's sight and came to a consensus to look for Chao, the quartet had managed to bump into Naruto who was looking at the stands left and right, apparently looking for someone as well.
"What the- Negi? I thought you were taking your time resting at the infirmary?" Naruto asked in obvious surprise as Negi, Chamo, Setsuna and Konohamaru all appeared before him. The blonde then turned his attention to Konohamaru and asked a question.
"Didn't I just talk to you a few minutes ago, Konohamaru? I specifically remember that I hindered all your Jutsu capability since last night."
Chamo, Setsuna and Konohamaru looked at each other and then looked back at Negi as they somehow contemplated if they should tell Naruto about the strange predicament they were in. They all looked at each other and nodded. It would be safer if someone like Naruto was informed of the situation as well.
"I'm sure Naruto-aniki has no problem keeping secrets. If anyone can keep them safe, then it's him." Chamo vouched in confidence for the blonde and they all looked serious as they began to talk.
A few minutes later, Naruto was raising an eyebrow at their explanation and the quartet all looked sheepish at it.
"Okay, fine. If it makes you feel better, I'm looking for Chao as well." Naruto finally said and all of them looked flabbergasted, well probably except for Konohamaru.
"Just like that, you'll believe us?" Setsuna asked incredulously while Naruto was grinning.
"Well, you guys have no reason to lie to me, so why should I suspect you all as hiding something fishy?" He then added, "Anyway, since you guys came from the immediate future and I have no way of telling who's who, I suggest you put on distinct costumes as disguises, you never know just who might recognize you if they saw you together with the recent past you wearing the same uniform." Naruto told them and pointed to the costume shop. Chamo looked like he had something planned ahead.
It doesn't take a genius to figure out that a bunny suit would be cute. To children, it is a common rule that they wear a full bunny suit with a hoodie that had two long pairs of ears at the top.
But to girls in their late teens or so, it's different.
Or that's what Chamo's logic is.
To him, a girl's curves are wasted on modest clothing. If they have a hot body, then there was no reason to hide it!
Setsuna may only be fifteen but she had a nice pair of creamy white legs. Or so that's what Konohamaru thought. For Chamo had insisted she wore a very revealing bunny outfit, showing off her thin and creamy white thighs.
"Hey, Konohamaru, nice get up!" Naruto said with a grin that clearly said he was mocking him.
Konohamaru glared at the boy and gave a simple middle finger before turning back to his two companions with the same costume. The boy looked like a furry dressed for business, a Victorian era suit but with the coat being red, complete with a top hat, a monocle, a pocket watch and a rabbit's snout with whiskers. The brunette looked like a rabbit anyone can find in a children's novel.
Needless to say, Naruto would never let him live this down.
"By the way, Naruto-nii, why are you looking for Chao? Didn't you say last night we needed to avoid her?" Konohamaru asked, curious as to what Naruto really did want.
"I need to know just how much she knows about us." Naruto said and all traces of a smile left his face as they walked and began searching for Chao. Both of them were unnerved by that fact. Chao leaked information, in their home, that was as dangerous as inviting another nation to war.
"T-That place looks suspicious!" Negi pointed to an attraction that had a flashy sign above that said, 'Galaxy War'.
Naruto had an expression on his face that clearly said he didn't look convinced as did Konohamaru. Setsuna chastised the two as Negi being a child so they let this slide.
"Yeah, but does he have to give such a bold faced lie like that? I mean, with that Time Machine of his, he pretty much has all the time he needs." Naruto said before entering the main room.
Once they got out Negi was sheepishly scratching his head while muttering, "Well that was fun, but she wasn't there at all."
"No shit!" Konohamaru shouted away before kicking a rail out of frustration. The resulting action bent the metal bar and caused Konohamaru an aching foot, forcing the boy to jump while Naruto pointed and laughed.
Negi's expression turned serious when something had caught his attention. He frowned and pointed to the next attraction.
"That place looks suspicious!"
Konohamaru's eyebrow twitched while Naruto sighed.
"You know, Negi, why don't you just be honest and tell us that you want to have your fun before your date. You don't have to get our hopes up." Naruto commented dryly as Negi looked rather sheepish as he looked quite ashamed at what he did.
"B-But… Who knows? Maybe Chao-san really is inside it! And it's not a date!"
Naruto shook his head before flicking Negi's forehead. The boy in question grimaced and winced at Naruto's gesture and looked like a child who was just scolded.
"What do you take me for, Negi? I'm not THAT much of an idiot." Naruto commented as the child looked sheepish at what Naruto said, but still persisted that they continue their 'investigation of suspicious places'. Not that Naruto could ever have the heart for letting Negi be a kid once in a while, he just found it irritating that Negi would use poorly made excuses.
The group, except for Negi, finally sighed in resignation when the redhead excitedly pointed out to the blimp. Naruto sighed at this once more and he asked Negi once they got into the airship, "What so special about someone who can fly take a ride on this?"
The airship then took off slowly, and they watched in mild fascination as the blimp took off. When they got into a fairly reasonable height, Negi had answered, his eyes never leaving the scenery before him.
"It's not the same when I'm flying on my staff, I don't have to concentrate when I'm in here, and the wind doesn't have to get into my face." Negi said, marvelling at the picture perfect view below them.
Setsuna watched Negi's expressions, looking rather marvelled at everything around him. Chamo had stated once that Negi never had the chance to go to any amusement park and be a kid.
"Naruto-nii, are you alright?" Konohamaru asked while the blonde in question had his back turned from the viewing area, hugging his legs and shivering.
"I-It's just… It's my first time riding something like this in the sky and I don't have any particular attachments to it. Can we please go down now?"
"What? You aren't afraid of falling several hundred meters below but when taking a ride with something like this, you chicken out?" Konohamaru asked and the blonde vehemently denied the accusation.
"NO! It's just I don't particularly have any sort of liking to it. The truth is I hate it! Now get me down!" Naruto shouted as he was close to having a breakdown.
Setsuna, rather than looking concerned, was now giggling as she watched the scene unfold.
"What's the matter, Setsuna-san?" Negi asked, looking at his student who was now watching the two ninjas that were arguing.
"Nothing, it's just that it's quite rare for us to be enjoying something like this."
Negi looked thoughtful for a second and then agreed to Setsuna, "Now that you mention it, I guess it's true."
"It's so calm that I get to enjoy the festival, and it's all thanks to you three, Negi-sensei, Konohamaru-sensei, and Naruto-sensei." She said with a smile. Both master and apprentice stopped arguing and then looked at Setsuna who had a sincere smile on her face.
"Thanks to all of you, I've managed to talk to Konoka-ojou-sama and be friends again with her along with Asuna-san. You have my eternal gratitude. Negi-sensei, Konohamaru-sensei and Naruto-sensei now all have special places in my heart." Konoka bowed deeply at the trio as Konohamaru scratched the back of his head and looked away, a look of embarrassment present on his face.
Naruto shakily waved his hand with a wry smile and refused to even stand up.
"I-It's not really us who you should be thanking though, Asuna-san helped as well."
Setsuna shook her head and answered, "But if you haven't opened my eyes, I would have forever been blinded from the things I deemed precious in front of me. So, I'm really happy that I got to meet all of you."
"Y-Yeah, look, I'm really happy that you're thanking us and all, but please, let me get DOWN!" Naruto said as his eyes were slowly starting to water.
Ever the lewd and perverted rat, Chamo was quick to ruin the scene with a comment, "No matter, how I look at it, it's sort of like a love confession. Though with Setsuna is confessing to all three boys at once."
"You're imagining things, Chamo. Setsuna isn't some girl that would have the audacity to go after three boys at the same time." Konohamaru mentioned in a deadpan voice and Setsuna vigorously nodded her head in agreement. The ermine simply grinned even further.
"But she said that you have a special place for those three in your heart." Chamo reiterated and this time, he made a kissing gesture much to the chagrin of Setsuna.
"O-Of course they have a special place in my heart! Negi-sensei is cute and Konohamaru-sensei is very reliable! Not to mention Naruto-sensei is a very mature person despite his behavior! Besides, I only have feelings for Konoka-ojou-sama!" Setsuna vehemently defended herself this time, unknowingly digging deeper and deeper to her grave.
Chamo grinned, a wide, stupid and an all knowing and shit eating grin.
Negi asked her directly, "So it's like that, eh?"
Negi was looking oblivious to what Chamo was pertaining to but somehow, he was looking at it differently than what Setsuna had thought.
"Y-You don't have the right to say that, Negi-sensei! W-Who do you like more, Asuna-san or Nodoka-san?" Setsuna asked and Negi suddenly took a step back at that question.
"W-Why are we changing topics?" Negi asked as Setsuna took this chance to corner the redhead.
"Then who do YOU have feelings for?"
Naruto lectured Setsuna, albeit rather weakly at that, "S-Setsuna, don't pester a kid about things like this. Y-you should know better, Negi doesn't have a full grasp of what kind of relationship you're talking about."
Setsuna then turned to Naruto and pointed at him, "Then who do you have feelings for, Naruto-sensei, Konohamaru-sensei?"
"I'll answer you when we get down on the ground." Naruto replied feeling queasy.
"Err are we talking about as in love? Well, I don't think I have any sort of feelings for any of my students. Of course, they're all cute, but then it's not really appropriate, teacher-student relationship and all." Konohamaru said offhandedly.
Konohamaru had to ask himself why a lot of people disregard that ethical subject.
"I-I need to go to the toilet!" Negi was immediate on trying to get away in the awkward situation. He did not want to answer that question.
"Well, somebody sure looks happy." A new voice interrupted them, and the three seasoned warriors turned around to face Chao, still wearing her Chao Bao Zi apron.
Her smile never wavered. That didn't help ease the anxious feelings that Konohamaru and Naruto were currently feeling.
"So how does it feel to time travel, ne?" She asked, Setsuna however, looked unsure.
"I felt that you needed to experience it yourselves so I put sleeping pills in your tea, though I never expected Konohamaru-sensei would tag along for the ride. I apologize for what I did." To this, she bowed
"She put sleeping pills on your drink too, Konohamaru?" The blonde asked his fear of the blimp was overtaken with this new event. Konohamaru shook his head.
"Not everyone has your stamina, Naruto-nii. I was just too tired and felt like I really needed some rest."
Now the time for questioning began. Konohamaru was about to ask a question when Chamo beat him to it.
"A time travelling spell… No matter what kind of genius you are, a normal human cannot succeed in making any means to travel through time! Just who are you, Chao-san?"
"You want to know my real identity?" She asked, everyone who was talking to her had noticed a small spark in her eyes, as if they triggered something from the girl.
"I am a woman of mystique and wrapped in a veil of many identities!" She started as he pointed to herself before she continued, "Sometimes, I'm a Chinese inventor full of mystery, a treasure box inside class, or even a mad scientist!"
"I can be the number one genius of the academy, and the boss of the most popular Chinese stand, Chao Bao Zi!" By this time, Chao had removed her apron and tossing it upwards.
"My real identity is…"
Konohamaru, Naruto, Setsuna and Chao all leaned closer to the girl. This was it; Chao was going to reveal her true identity. The quartet, metaphorically speaking, was all at the edge of their seats as they listened intently to the girl before them. If Chao was about to reveal who she was, then at least it could have a chance to learn of the girl's background even if it was just a small summary.
Anticipation, climbing up, Naruto listened in closely with wide eyes as Chao took a deep breath and shouted at them.
"… An alien from mars!"
"Like hell, you are!" Setsuna shouted in indignation, swatting Chao's head with a paper fan from out of nowhere.
Naruto simply had a bead of sweat at the back of his forehead as did Konohamaru, although the brunette was the one who spoke outward, "I listened intently for something like this?"
"Well, there are a lot of things in your class that puts it on the weird scale above any other class here. You've got robots, Ninjas, mercenaries, vampires, half-demons and even spirits. And technically, Konohamaru and I are aliens that aren't from this world. So I guess it kind of goes without saying that we really shouldn't be surprised by now." Naruto consented to them as they all sighed.
"That's right, aru! Naruto-sensei agrees with me and their aliens as well, my kindred!" She then approached Naruto and Konohamaru and hugged them both. Then like a child who got praise, Chao pointed to Setsuna with that 'I'm better than you' look. It was childish, though, so Setsuna saw no reason to be angry at her classmate. She was weird enough as she is.
By this time, Setsuna was the next to ask a question her hands inching slowly on her pactio card, by now, her eyes were sharp, showing her distinction to her resolve, "What is your real intention? If you betray Negi-sensei's trust, then I simply can't forgive you."
Chao taunted Setsuna once more, "When you try to threaten people in a cute costume, it really looses the intended appeal, you know. Though, it does suit you, ne."
This time, Setsuna did react, although a blush was present on her cheeks, "Shut up!"
By then, Chao had laughed and quickly assured the group that she had given the watch to let Negi simply enjoy the festival, though she couldn't guarantee that she wouldn't betray Negi's trust which was something Naruto and Konohamaru didn't look forward to. That was already a warning sign.
Chao, who had by then noticed Naruto and Konohamaru tense reactions, simply sighed and leaned back. "I can tell by your faces that you're really concerned, Naruto-sensei, Konohamaru-sensei. But rest assured that whatever it is your thinking, I don't exactly know. Fellow aliens have to keep very good secrets after all!"
She said this with a reassuring smile before she continued, "Besides, Negi-sensei is related to me, in a way, he's a very precious person. I won't hurt him."
"Are you certain of that?" Konohamaru asked. The brunette's eyebrow was raised in doubt. Chao gave a simple nod.
When they finally landed, they all went to say their goodbyes (Chao handed over a manual to Negi about the time machine as well) until only Chao and Naruto was left behind, promising to Negi that he'll catch up. With that, Chao asked the blonde teacher something, his back was turned against his student.
"Sensei, have you ever heard of this strange tale?"
Naruto raised his eyebrow, "What tale?"
Chao closed her eyes, and a smile crept up to her face as she told him, "I remember my mother telling me this story when I was a girl."
She then began her tale, "There was once a group of three people, bound together by sad memories of their past. They were an odd bunch, a quiet boy, wise beyond his years, reformed from the darkness that he once came from. A man, who willingly chose himself to be a sacrifice even if it meant being hated by the people of his home and a boy chosen to wield the burden of the entire world on his shoulders."
Naruto's eyes widened as Chao continued her story, "They were bound by these things, each understanding the other to a mutual friendship, bonds baptised in flames. In their time, they went by and did many great things, good deeds that saved everyone. They had a view of the world unlike any other, for they saw both the ugliness and beauty in which they reside. They roamed the lands, doing good deeds to simple villagers, ventured from one country to another unopposed. They fought demons and evil mages, slew beasts of great power in a time of unknown plight. They were heroes, men of valor and inspiration. In the end, after they slew the beasts, they vanished, said to ascend to a plain beyond mortal reach. As their tale drew to a close, the boy who carried the burden of the world left behind a relic for the people to remember them by."
She then held out a book, black in covering pages with the words written on the hard bound cover, "Advent of Three."
"In this book contained every single deed, accomplishment and journal logs of the three heroes, given to the son of the Thousand Master and passed on to every descendant that has come of age."
Naruto suddenly felt his blood turn cold as Chao inwardly grinned seeing the boy's surprised expression. Now, she only needed one more push to get Naruto's complete attention.
"Many of the people consider the existence of these three heroes as a myth, thought for aggrandizement of the house of the Thousand Master's descendants. But the lore is indeed present, and this book is the proof of that. Sensei, do you know who the author was of this very old relic?"
Naruto felt the color of his face draining as he kept staring at Chao, his knees buckled but held firm to the ground he stood on. He was afraid of what answer it might be but he just had to ask.
"Who wrote it?"
"The Scarlet Tempest, Shinku Arashi, Uzumaki Naruto."
To be continued…
Done and done!
You might be asking, why would Naruto write about it in a document in the near future?
Well, that's a very important plot point I will address in the far future, so be sure to check this back if you get confused when I do address it!
Also, check out my Fairy Tail/Naruto crossover titled, "Crossing the River Gates: Rubicon's Flow" and Big three crossover, "To Be a Hero"
Please be sure to leave a review!