* Looks at some specific reviews* ...well...shit...sorry. Frame that word, cause I don't type it often...and mean it.
Naruto retook his stance as he stared down his opponent. He could tell she wasn't having a good time. Tenten never did like taijutsu, which was kind of plain to see with her love of weapons. She always had a few kunai on her, even though she really didn't need them yet.
Some would think kunai were only available to ninja.
Ninja would point and laugh at them before telling them to shut up.
Kunai, of varying quality, were made by almost every blacksmith in the lands, and most didn't turn away potential money whether they be ninja, civilians, samurai, or even nuke nin.
Of course, there were civilians that tried to regulate or prohibit kunai sales, citing the evils of kunai and al the people they kill. The last group had a lot more steam under them, but they were robbed and killed, on their way to the capital, by a group of thieves because none of them had any weapons. An absolute was written into Konoha law afterwards, stating all people have a right to defend themselves with any means. Of course, you had to know how to use them, but that's another matter entirely.
Tenten was currently trying to land a blow on Naruto and frustratingly failing. Every time she threw a punch, he would direct it to the side and try to throw her off-balance so he could either pin her or go for a quick strike as she tried to get back on her feet. He wasn't using the other methods they had been taught by Kaa-san. She had seen what those could do.
"Alright you two, I'm gong to teach you taijutsu. It's a form that served me well when I was a genin and all the way up until I learned chakra scalpels."
Tenten was skeptical.
Naruto was-" Cool! What's it called? Fox style? Dog style? Ooh, Wolf style! Better, Superhappydragon style!"
" Pfft, hell no. Where in Kami's name did you get all those stupid names?"
" Dunno. They kinda just rambled off the top of my head...like they've been used before...way to many times".
Rin shook her head, " You want styles with stupid names, go that way-", she pointed to the east, " -Or you can join those Hyuga or that idiot Gai. I'll be teaching you something that's been around a little longer than both, Judo"
" Gentle Way? Isn't that kind of a stupid name too?", Tenten quipped.
" Yeah. But it's killed more people than Juken and Goken combined, so it's kinda earned it...anyways..."
She was waiting for that," Why, yes, Naruto, taijutsu can kill. Allow me to demonstrate some of the forms of Kōdōkan goshinjutsu with Atemi Waza. These are NOT to be used in sparring. Luckily, we have a volunteer"
Tenten looked around in confusion, " Uh, you do?"
" Yup..", a minute later a clone appeared with a pinned woman, before throwing her to the ground, " ...In the form of this.." lady", that I found sticking an explosive note booby trap into Naruto's mailbox this morning"
"...", this couldn't bode well. Kaa-chan was never lenient with anybody that went after him with the intent to maim or kill.
" I-I swear! I didn't do anything!", the woman pleaded as Rin looked down at her with things neither of the kids wanted to think about.
" Ohh? Then maybe you'd like to open that mailbox to prove that"
The woman's begging stopped as the blood drained from her face.
"...That's what I thought, now get up"
Rin's tone brought the woman shakily to her feet as she stared at Rin in fear. It also caused Tenten to backstep, having never seen Rin like this, unlike Naruto who was still wary.
A smirk played briefly across Rin's face before it settled in an eerie impassiveness, " Now punch me in the face"
All three look confused. Did they just hear that right?
" Did I talk in some foreign language you can't understand? I said punch me in the face"
The lady was at leat a little intelligent. This was a jounin telling her to punch her in the face. Something bad was going to happen.
With a shriek of hysterics, the woman pulled back her arm and threw a punch right at Rin's face.
It was only a fraction of a moment later that Rin redirected the punch, grabbed the arm below the elbow, and used it to pull her into a knifehand strike right to the throat.
The woman dropped to the ground and clawed at her throat a second later.
" This, is one of the restricted Atemi Waza. It is used only when you want to kill your opponent", Rin explained calmly.
Tenten's hand flew to her mouth as she stared in horror at the woman thrashing uselessly on the ground, only high pitched wheezing coming from her.
" What I did was very simple. I collapsed her windpipe, meaning she is no longer able to breathe. Atemi Waza are strikes to vital points. This is one of the easier ones to do"
Naruto couldn't bear it anymore," Kaa-chan, she's going to-"
"-Usually, someone has about two or three minutes of oxygen in their system, so the death is slow, but with the way she's thrashing about, I'd say she has about 25 more seconds before she blacks out, and another 8 before complete brain death."
Tenten looked up at her in horror and panic as the woman's thrashing became less and less, yet, she couldn't form words.
" There are a couple ways to prevent this. If the person is smart enough, they'll know to use a kunai or other sharp object to give themselves an emergency tracheotomy. If they're not-"
She reached down with a glowing green hand and bluntly pulled her windpipe back into shape, allowing the woman to gasp for air a fraction of a second later.
" -they better have someone around who can, or a medic-nin handy, otherwise they're dead where they drop."
" Y-you alm-most killed her", Tenten finally stuttered
Rin waved nonchalantly, " Almost only counts in explosive notes, like the one still in Naruto's mailbox. Anyways, now that she's had time to catch her breath..GET UP", Rin's mood shifted instantly.
"*cough* N-no. I-I can't. I (coughcough*I CAN'T*coughcoughcough*".
" Wow, you really want to open that mailbox don't you?". Rin mocked.
"-or maybe...you want one of your kids to open it?"
The woman went dead silent, not even coughing, as she slowly looked up at Rin in utter horror. Even Tenten and Naruto were shocked beyond words.
" Maybe your daughter, perhaps-"
"-oh, what was her name? Ah, Aika. Maybe you want Aika-chan to open it up-"
The woman was shedding tears uncontrollably now, "-n-no! Please-"
"-as you watch, helplessly, from afar, as Aika-chan finds out what her precious mommy left in there"
With a torrent of sobs and whimpering, the woman got back up on unsteady legs..
" Now. Punch. Me", Rin ground out.
The woman clenched as she threw the punch, trying to prepare for pain, or death, or both.
She wasn't prepared as her arm was caught again and quickly bent the wrong way at the elbow.
The scream was deafening.
* I hour later*
Rin watched as they wheeled her punching bag into the ER. She'd live, albeit with a few painful reminders for the rest of her life. She was lucky too. If Naruto hadn't angrily shouted at her to stop, she would have kept going for at least a few more rounds. Now came the important part, explaining what had just happened.
She turned around to see an angry Naruto and a tearful Tenten. Neither of them could look her in the eye.
She figured as much. She had planned for it afterall. It was a lesson she wanted them to know.
" Well, now that our abuse toy is in the hospi-"
" What the hell is the matter with you?¡-"
Ah, there it was.
"-You beat that woman to near death! And the things you said were disgusting! What's worse, you acted like you enjoyed it!", Naruto verbally thrashed the woman he thought he knew so well.
" The way you smirked when you did those things, and what you said about her daughter! You were like some murderer!".
She listened to the things he yelled at her, and even though she knew they'd be said, it still hurt. They had an incomplete picture of what she was, and they filled the gaps in with some imaginary ideas, only to have them ripped apart and see the truth.
" You're right, Naruto. I shouldn't have beat her..."
Naruto's rant stopped cold as he stared up at her as if it was the understatement of the year.
"..by law, I should have killed her as soon as I saw what she was doing"
Both looked at her in complete shock.
" That's how assassination attempts are dealt with. You kill the assassin. And I would have. Kami, if you knew some of the things that went through my mind as I saw her setting up that trap meant to kill my son. I wanted to kill her in the most brutal, slow, painful way possible. But I didn't. Do you know why?"
Both numbly shook their heads.
" Because I remembered her being a single mother after her husband was killed 6 years ago. If I had killed her, I would have made two more orphans in Konoha, for one very stupid mistake on her part. So, I compromised, and turned her into a shuddering mess for the next few months. And yes, I enjoyed it"
She crouched down to their level, " I hurt her for trying to kill you, and it felt damn good. That's part of me, the part of a professional murderer.. You seem to forget, Naruto, that I was a trained killer long before you were even born, and I still am. That is what a ninja is. And as ninja, you are going to see friends and loved ones do terrible things and make terrible faces. You're going to see them spill blood in brutal manners, see them go through emotions at times that make them look like monsters, do things unspeakable to get the job done, possibly even torture, and you're going to see the haunted looks on their face when it's all over."
Both of them were teary eyed, " Why did we have to watch?"
" To wipe any false illusions of what a ninja is from your thoughts. Kids tend to see ninja as righteous warriors, bound for fame and glory, when in reality everything is grey instead of black and white, good and evil, and the only way you draw fame is from how strong you are and how many people you've killed. Most of the "legendary" shinobi you've heard of have body counts in the thousands. If you become ninja, inevitably, you will become trained killers as well, and you will use your skills to kill, maim, cripple, and threaten, just like I did.. Remember this, do what you know is right, and if an alternative presents itself, take it. Threatening someone with something horrible is usually more effective than actually doing said horrible thing, if you're even capable of doing it that is."
"...s-so when you threatened to kill her daughter", Tenten finally spoke up/sniffled.
" She attempted to kill my son. I think the idea of her having to watch her own daughter die from her stupidity is a fair trade off from the idea of having to pull Naruto's remains out of a crater. Plus, it did it's job in getting her back up to take her punishment. Now, she has Naruto to thank for sparing her from me, she still has her children, and she's not going to jail or the chopping block", she replied as she got up and looked back at the ER doors.
"...What would have happened if she didn't-"
"-I would have killed her where she laid. I have no sympathy for someone that doesn't put their own wellbeing before their child's.", Rin cut Tenten off with a blunt reply.
" ...Is it worth it?"
Rin's eyebrows rose as she turned to Naruto, who was staring at her dead in the eye, " Is what worth it?"
" Is becoming a ninja worth seeing stuff like this?"
"...That's a question that has to be answered by you and only you. Only you can decide if it's worth it. For me, it was, for others I know, it wasn't.", she replied. At least they were asking questions.
Tenten looked at the ground, " So..how many people have you killed?"
Rin sighed, " Two hundred and seventy six. I haven't seen much combat in a half dozen years so mine is lower than most. Just don't go asking every ninja you meet that question. It can be pretty personal."
Silence reigned over the trio until Naruto let out an exasperated sigh, " Can we get back to training? All this heavy stuff is giving me a headache."
Rin narrowed her eyes at him, " Are you going to just shrug it off?"
Naruto crossed his arms, " You said I'd have to find out myself if it's worth it, and I won't find that out until I actually become a ninja. I was born around ninja, I was raised by ninja, I've befriended ninja, so I'm sure as hell going to become one. Isn't that right Tenten?"
Tenten looked up at him in confusion, " W-wha-"
" -We'll both become ninja and find out if it's worth it. After all, it's what we've been working so hard to find out, we're not going to get cold feet before we even get into the academy. We'd be no better than civilians."
Rin watched in fascination as Tenten went from confused to determined, " Right...after all, I'm not just practicing to throw my weapons into dummies...so darn right I'm going to be one."
Naruto nodded in satisfaction and then remembered something, " Besides, my first reunion with you was you sawing a guys head off and then hugging me covered in blood. I guess I shouldn't have been as shocked as I was"
" Then why were you?", Rin asked, prodding the boy into admitting something.
"...I guess it was seeing the fear and hearing her plead and beg, and then finding out she even had kids. I mean, I know she tried to kill me...but.."
Rin chuckled as she knelt back down to ruffle his hair, " Somewhere in that perverted interior, you have a good heart. Don't lose that, but don't let people exploit it either, especially when it's a fight for your life. As much as the other guy has to lose, you have just as much here, and I'm not going to see your funeral."
" ...Alright, I think taijutsu training can wait for a day. There's something else that, as a medic, I'm going to make sure my own children can do. First Aid.", Rin proclaimed.
Naruto looked warily at her, " You're not going to use a live practice doll are you?"
Rin scoffed, " Of course I am. Unfortunately I only had the one that I could beat up, so we'll just have to get by with treating simulated injuries on Taiga".
" That, I think we can do", Naruto sighed along with Tenten.
The woman fully recovered two months later, smarter, and more grateful for what she still had.
* End flashback*
" Alright you two, that's it for the day", they heard Rin call out from under a tree as she got up.
If there was any doubt left that she was pregnant, it died when her belly started inflating, which is why she had her jacket closed instead of open like she usually had it.
Not that it helped much. Sure, it wasn't peaking too badly yet, but you could still tell.
" Tenten, I swear to god, if you hop on a kick again, I'm going to weight your sandals down with lead", Rin chastised.
Tenten's cheeks blew up in a pout, " Well it's hard not to. He's such a shorter target than I'm used to-*smack*". Tenten leaped up on her toes and her eyes widened as a hand smacked her butt.
" I may be shorter, but it makes harassing you so much easier!", Naruto declared before running off, Tenten hot on his trail.
" I'll teach you for smacking my ass!"
" Such dirty language from such a young lady!"
" You're one to talk, hypocrite!"
Rin shook her head. They used to be a lot calmer. Now they were always picking on eachother. She knew better than to think it was anything less than friendly. As soon as they weren't near eachother, they got bored. One of the many things that changed in the last two months.
" Flashback, Middle November"
"ACHOO! *sniff* uguuu"
Naruto shook in revulsion. She just sneezed on him!
" Tai-chan, cover your damn mouth when you sneeze!", he admonished as he wiped it off with one of the rags he brought in.
" Sowrry", she nasaled out as she fell back into the pillow. Naruto sighed. Honestly, why did he have to take care of her?
Oh, that's right. Because Kaa-chan slapped a quarantine sign on the door and told him to "make her better" before she came back.
He slapped a cold rag to her head...not that it would help much with her fever, he just liked her reaction.
" Eeeeek! It's cooold!"
" That's the point"
" But it's coooold!"
" Grrr, fine. I'll go find a fan or some-ara?", he paused, after pulling the cloth off, when he saw some green marking on her forehead, which was apparently hidden before, under makeup.
" Hay Tai-chan, what's with this weird tattoo on your forehea-"
He was cut off as she grabbed the cloth out of his hand and slapped it back on her forehead.
" Oh, it's nothing. I gotta go ge..get somethinggg..in the bath-" she diverted as she got up, made it three steps and started passing out. Naruto made sure she did it in the direction of the bed.
What a reaction.
He pulled the rag off her head to look at it again. He then got a notebook and sketched it. It kind of looked like a seal. Once he had it drawn, he put the rag back on. She'd be out of it for a while.
* A couple days later*
Naruto was in the middle of making miso soup when his front door burst open. A figure in a gas mask commando rolled into the apartment before popping up and spraying everything with can upon can of disinfectant
" Kaa-chan, aren't you going a little overboar-OI!", he complained as she sprayed him too.
" Nope! I'm not catching that crap. Especially when it's not just me I'm worried about!", her semi-muffled rebuttal came from behind the gas mask, before giving him one good final spray, much to his annoyance, " Where is the walking plague machine anyways?".
Naruto wiped the disinfectant off his face before responding, " Holed up in our-err my bedroom. Apparently she's feeling good enough to drag the TV and one of my game systems in there. She better not overwrite my save data again...speaking of Taiga...", Naruto picked up the notebook from earlier and showed Rin what he drew, " This was on her forehead under some makeup. Do you know what it is?"
Rin was silent as her arms slunk to her side, " So she does have one", Rin mumbled. Naruto waited patiently for an answer.
" That...", she started as she sat down, "..is called the Caged Bird Seal. The Hyuga clan uses it as a sort of slave collar."
Naruto's shock was evident, " But she is a Hyuga, isn't she?"
Rin nodded, " Yes, but the Hyuga are split into two families. The Main family and the Branch family. The Main family puts it on the Branch family to control them."
" So...Taiga is from the Branch family?"
Rin shook her head, " No. She was from the Main family."
Naruto looked confused, " Then why isn't she with them? And why does she have that seal, they use, on her forehead?"
Rin got back up, " That, you'll either have to ask her, or find out by yourself. I think I know why, and it wasn't to hard to figure out. Anyways, I'm here to give her a booster shot, and I need your help.", Rin stated as she displayed a syringe.
" You do?", he asked in surprise, to which Rin nodded.
" She hates needles."
Oh boy. She could be hell on legs when there was something she didn't like.
Rin crept up to the door," We'll sneak in and catch her by surprise", Rin mumbled.
Naruto looked at her with a questioning look, " I know she's an airhead, but she's still an anbu. How are we going to "catch her by surprise?", he quoted physically with a skeptical tone.
Rin harumphed, " Obviously, you've never seen the "Santa Claus came early" tactic."
"...There's no way...let's just get it over with", he groaned.
They both got ready to burst in as Rin cracked open the door-
She opened it up the rest of away. They found her crouched over and snoring as a puppy did circles on the TV set from her leaning on the controller.
" Well...that makes things easier. An explosion could go off and she wouldn't wake up", Rin sighed.
" Why do you think I'm able to tie her up all the time. Heck, this one time I got bored and started putting things on her. I got a really funny picture of her with a bucket on her head and holding the can of whipped cream I used to make a beard on her."
Rin almost stuck herself with the needle as she held her sides, trying to stifle her laughter. After she managed to calm down, she just walked up and gave her the shot while Naruto tuned off her game and laid her down into the bed.
He saw that she had reapplied makeup to her forehead, but not too well, as a section of green still remained to be seen by him and Rin.
" Poor girl", Rin mumbled upon seeing it, but Naruto heard her.
Once Rin left to "decontaminate" herself, Naruto decided to fridge the soup and do do a little investigating. He was sure he could figure it out if he just found another Hyuga. It was made easier now that he didn't have to stick to one part of the village.
He found them in the "Rich Bitch" part of town and started observing.
* An hour later*
Naruto reentered his apartment. Kaa-chan was right. It didn't take him too long to reach a conclusion.
Compared to all those conceited, uptight assholes, Taiga stuck out like a sore thumb.
Even the ones with their foreheads concealed had sticks up their asses. Naruto could already paint a picture of what happened, and it made him angry.
Sure, she was airheaded, clutzy, a bit dim, and a bit of a...ahemslutahem..but she was loyal to a fault, caring, fun loving, and she put up with so much of their crap and still hung around them...
The next thing Naruto felt was guilt. He'd be lying if he said he never saw her as an annoyance. It's not like she could help it. It's just the way she was.
These were the thoughts he had as he walked into the kitchen and found her sitting at the table in her sick, miserable state...and flimsy nightgown.
" Huuungryyyy. Feeeed meee", she groaned out.
Naruto snorted, " Alright Zombie-chan. I'll go find you some fresh brains-"
"-or maybe some soup would be better."
So Naruto reheated the soup.
" N-nanda?", Taiga questioned as Naruto pointed a spoonful of soup at her face.
" Say aaah"
Taiga pouted, " I can at least feed myself. I'm not a ba-gmm!" Naruto stuffed the spoon in her mouth when he was an opportunity.
As soon as she tasted the soup, she caved and just let him continue feeding her.
* A few days later*
Taiga was back to good health and antagonizing Rin on duty.
Naruto, on the other hand.
"ACHOOO! Guuuuuhh", he groaned as he plopped back down into bed.
It was apparently amazing to Kaa-chan that he was sick.
He was around Taiga for days! Why wouldn't he get sick?¡ Honestly, did she think he was immune or something?
At least he wasn't throwing up anymore. That was a good sign usually.
His semi-councious musings were interrupted as he heard his front door close.
Ugh. If it was Kaa-chan here to spray him with disinfectant again, he was going to pull that gas mask off and cough right in her face.
" I'm back Naru-chan!"
Ah, it was Tai-chan
" Now I can take care of you for the rest of the day!", her voice got closer until she opened the door.
" Sempai even game me this nurse outfit to wear. Isn't it so cute?"
Naruto tried holding his blood in his head. Oh it was cute alright...and latex. How was she even walking in those boots?¿
" She even said I could keep it! It's kinda tight in the chest though", she added as she poked at them, then looked curiously.
" I wonder what these buttons are for? *Snap,snap,snap, *Boing*. Ahhh, that's a lot better...Naru-chan? Eeek!"
Naruto was leaned over in a pool of his own blood. Funny how she could kill with kindness.
Rin flipped the ingredients in the wok as she listened to Naruto help Tenten with caligraphy at the dining room table. The girl had taken an interest as soon as she saw Naruto make a sealing scroll.
Rin knew why. Tenten's love of all things pointy and sharp became obvious as soon as she moved in, especially when Rin had to liberate her cutlery set from her...four times. She finally caved and gave the girl her own kunai set.
She had seen too many kids jump around in joy like that to say she's never seen a kid jump around in joy like that.
Of course, her collection had grown from god-knows-where, to the point she couldn't carry them all anymore. So, of course, she wanted to learn how to store them...oh and explosive seals...how could she forget the gleam in Tenten's eye when Naruto mentioned explosive seals...
Luckily, she would be entering the academy tomorrow, and then her obsession would be Asuma's problem, who's class Rin was sure to enroll her into.
It's not like she was eager to get rid of her for the majority of the day. Tenten had become a great part of her family. She wished she had adopted her sooner...before she started exhausting a lot easier because of the ever-increasing bump in front of her and her still healing injuries. She couldn't keep up with the squirt anymore.
So, until she finally pumped the next kid out, she would gladly take a supportive role, especially after being forced into maternity leave... after what happened.
Asuma blinked at Naruto, " You want me to take you into the next town to go shopping?", he asked for clarification.
Naruto nodded eagerly, " Christmas is coming up, and I want to get Tai-chan something special, but none of the jewelry stores around here...deserve..my patronage"
Asuma sighed. He knew that would be the main reason, " I don't know Naruto. I have to look after Tenten too, and I have to work on the baby room-"
"-oh no you don't!", an annoyed voice proclaimed from the table, showing Rin in her uniform without the mask, holding a cup of tea while glaring at Asuma, " You've been working on that room for a month, even though it was finished in the first week! If you add anything else, there won't even be any room for the baby!"
Asuma huffed indignantly. There was plenty of room! He measured it himself!
" This isn't going to be anything like you last "present" to her is it?", she asked suspiciously.
It was Naruto's turn to huff, " What was wrong with getting her a nightgown?"
" You can read a book through it!"
" So? She loves it!"
" She's not the only one who loves it!"
" So you love it too?"
" It does add that amount of pointlessness that makes it even more erotic", Asuma admitted. All three were silent as they blushed. This was Taiga after all.
" No. I'm not getting her anything like that...that's what White Day is for. I want to get her a necklace."
Rin's eyebrow quirked at this, " Kinda going all out don't you think?"
Naruto shook his head in the negative, " She's been helping me train in taijutsu..",
He had even won against her...in his mind...that was still collecting itself, at the time, from the single kick that took him down. The same mind that was sorely irked as she panicked out that she didn't think he was "that slow".
Yeah, she was good, and fast about it too.
" She even taught me a ninjutsu!", he proclaimed, to Rin's and Asuma's shock
" She did?¡", Rin cried out, to which Naruto nodded
" Yup! Doton: Doryuheki ( Earth Release: Earth Encampment Wall)!"
Rin palmed her face. Giving a kid ninjutsu. Great idea...but then she wasn't doing any better by teaching him Shunshin she guessed.
" Not only that, but it seems like she never has any money of her own. What the hell does she do with all of it?"
Rin shrugged, " She puts it into an account for some reason or another. She would never tell me why."
It was a mystery for a later time.
" Then, lastly, all the crap we put her through and she still hangs around us. Anybody else would have hated us by now...or be a complete machoist-"
" Yeah, that."
Rin thought for a while with a guilty expression, before pulling out money of her own and handing it to Naruto, " Make it a really nice one, from the both of us."
Naruto nodded vigorously, " Can do, Kaa-chan."
Asuma took that as a sign that he was taking him, and sighed. There was four cubic feet he could have done something with in the baby room after all.
" Sempai!", Usagi burst through the door with a swirly eyed Tenten under arm. Rin had her doing target practice out in a training field instead of tearing up the back yard again.
" Ox says there's reason to believe an infiltrator got into the village!", Usagi exclaimed as she set down Tenten, who started crawling for the bathroom. Asuma quickly helped her so he wouldn't have to clean the floor.
Rin shot up out of her seat, " Finally some action! It's been way too boring lately. Let's go find us a mole!", she declared as she grabbed her mask off the table and followed Usagi out, but not before turning to Naruto, " Don't have too much fun out there, and you better get going before they lock down the village."
With that, they ran out the door. Asuma had been trying to get her to take maternity leave, but she stubbornly refused, stating she wouldn't until it started weighing her down.
*An hour later*
It only took them a little while to get to the next town. The town itself was, in a sense, a middle man for the shadier merchants to trade, sell, and converse with more "respectable" merchants that frequented Konoha.
It was also a well known smuggler stop, so one could find almost anything, for a price of course.
So, a jewelry store was pretty mundane, but that's where we find our travelling trio, looking at necklaces.
" This is boring."
Asuma looked at Tenten with surprise.
Did a member of the female gender just call jewelry shopping, boring?
Naruto and the saleswoman were just as shocked.
"...What?", Tenten blurted out in confusion.
" I figured you'd like jewelry", Naruto replied.
Tenten huffed as she crossed her arms, " All it is, is shiny, glittery junk that doesn't do anything but look pretty. I don't see why girls go so nuts over it for."
Naruto chuckled hysterically. Asuma as well, while the saleswoman covered her ears and audibly tried to convince herself that it was all a figment of her imagination.
Tenten grumbled to herself as Naruto started searching again.
" Ahah! This one is perfect", Naruto proclaimed, pointing at one in the case. They all looked to see a small, bejeweled tiger on the end of an elegant gold chain.
The saleswoman looked skeptical.
" Uh, are you sure? It costs fifteen thousand ry-*flash*-oh", she conceded when Naruto pulled out the money
Ninja families, go figure.
" Can I have it engraved as well?", he asked.
" Of course. What did you want it to say?"
Naruto thought hard about it until he smiled to himself.
"~Ahhhhh~", was the unanimous agreement around the table after diner. It was still the best food made in Konoha, and cleaning up after the meal was a bargain price to pay for it. Too bad Asuma was still stuck at the Academy doing who-the-fuck-knows to prepare for class tomorrow.
" So, are you going back home after you're done Naruto?", Rin inquired, as he took a stack of dishes away from the table.
" Nah, not yet. I wanted to visit Tai-chan before I got home...you know, keep her up to date. Did you want to come with?"
Rin shook her head, " I visited her yesterday...so you can go ahead. Don't get into any trouble on the way there", she joked half heartedly.
Naruto and Tenten conversed back and forth as the trio walked back to Konoha.
" You didn't get me any jewelry for Christmas, did you?", Tenten asked with accusation.
" I already got your present. So, no, it's not jewelry."
" So what is it?"
" I'm not telling you. That would ruin the surprise."
" Aww, come on."
" Fine. I got you a set of leather thongs."
" No you didn't!"
" I got you a book on self bondage."
" I got you Super Happy Puppy Adventure 3."
" That's Taiga-chan's thing!"
" I got you a t-shirt that says " I bugged Naruto about my Christmas present, and all I got was this lousy t-shirt."
" Hmph!", she pouted as they walked the rest of the way to the gates.
" Halt!", the familiar gate guard proclaimed, " Identify yourselves."
Asuma sighed, " Kotetsu, you just saw us leave a couple of hours ago."
" We have an infiltrator in our midst. How do I know you're not him?"
Asuma deadpanned, " If he's already in our midst, why would he be trying to get in instead of out?"
" You could be his reinforcements for all I know."
" And you could be too, positioned here to bog down incoming shinobi and provide an escape route." Naruto countered.
"...touche", Kotestus replied, with narrowed eyes, before the voice of common sense decided to step in.
" Knock it off Kotetsu. You know damn well it's them. Stop harassing people just because you're bore-*BOOM*"
All five snapped their heads towards the giant plume of black smoke.
" What the hell was that?¡", Kotetsu shouted out.
A worry popped into Naruto's head, " What if it's from the guy Kaa-chan is chasing after?"
This made the other two worried as well.
Against better judgement, they all ran towards the smoke cloud. What they found was a building with the top half in shambles, and Rin yelling at the medic-nin trying to treat her due to the fact all of her clothes were mangled and she was bleeding...alot.
Naruto walked past a very beautiful, pink haired woman as she talked mockingly and defiantly to someone. He guessed not all visits were sad ones. He brushed it off and looked for the person he came to visit...though he knew where she was, since he had visited numerous times before.
Tenten and Naruto stared in shock at Rin as Asuma tried calming her down. She was a mess. Worse than that woman she beat up.
"-we had him cornered, but he had an explosive strapped to himself-", she mindlessly explained as she kept looking through the debris, still reeling in shock from the blast and the injuries.
" Rin, you need to be looked at by the medics-"
" I'M FINE GOD DAMMIT!", she shrieked as she collapsed on the ground, fresh tears rolling down her bloodied face.
It was a couple seconds later that Naruto found something wrong. Very wrong.
" K-kaa-chan...where's Tai-chan?"
Rin's eyes widened in horror, like she had just realized Naruto was even there. It might have been the case. Her mouth opened to say something, but nothing came out.
" We have a body!", one of the recovery teams shouted for assistance to his team.
Naruto's vision lagged as he slowly turned to them, seeing them pulling out a woman in shredded anbu gear, and a painfully familiar head of dark blue hair splayed across her bloody face.
Naruto went numb as his eyes fixated to her, hardly feeling it as someone tried to turn him away to shield him from the sight.
This was just another simulation wasn't it? Another one of Kaa-chan's gut wrenching lessons right?¡
As the recovery team freed her body, her head rolled to the side, staring directly at him with a look of...nothing.
He heard a scream to the side of him, Someone hadn't shielded Tenten in time...they were too busy worrying over the one who was unresponsive, until everything hit him like a lead brick, and he broke down.
" Hey Tai-chan", Naruto started as he talked to the grey stone that displayed her name. He started telling her what had been going on as the events of her funeral still played in his head.
Naruto looked around himself, trying to avoid looking at the casket in front of him. Through tear-laden, puffy eyes, he scanned through the people who came to pay their respects.
Kaa-chan was a mess, emotionally and physically. Bandages covered a good portion of her, and the parts that weren't had nasty bruises somewhere or another. She was propped up on a crutch as well, in fact, the only part of herself that was unscathed was her stomach, which she had shielded from the shrapnel as she jumped away from the blast.
Naruto looked around again. Of course, Taichou and Tenten were there, along with the rest of Kaa-chan's command and the Sandaime. Alot of Inuzukas came as well.
But that was it. No Hyugas to speak of. Even upon her death, they refused to pay their respects. They had earned Naruto's ire, to say the least.
" Are you alright Naruto?", he heard from Kaa-chan, who he looked up at.
The first time he saw her in the hospital, he had frozen on the spot. She looked worse without the blood and the idea of seeing such a strong figure in his life in such a state was a shock to him. Even now...and she was crying too...
He couldn't talk, all the emotions were coming back. He shook his head in the negative and clamped onto Rin as fresh tears started pouring out. It was only a little while later that they started the funeral service.
Naruto finished speaking and did a prayer in front of the grave.
It still hurt, even now. It hurt even more when he had to box up all of her things at his apartment, the memories playing in his head...
He stared at the carving in the stone. They had adamantly refused to put the Hyuga name on it, considering her visible past with them, so they came to a consensus, as a sort of final Christmas present, since leaving the necklace on the grave was asking for it to be stolen.
It's too bad they couldn't have given them to her in life. Inuzuka Taiga was such a fitting name for her, even the Inuzukas agreed.
With a final goodbye, Naruto made his way home as memories churned inside his head.
I already have the omakes typed up, but I figured it would be kind of an atmosphere kill if I posted them along with this. I'll post them later.