Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto or The Melancholy of Suzumiya Haruhi.


To Please You

Third Installment

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— July 22 —

...

Was there anything worse than this?

Naruto swatted away at the spider that decided to lower itself from the winged statue towering over them. Despite the fact that the statue was that of an angel it did nothing to the atmosphere — the graveyard was still as gloomy and creepy as it can be and the angel statue seemed to add to that. He turned to his right and noticed that Haruhi was still reading the tombstones lined in front of them — Naruto definitely needed to buy her new reading material if she resorted to reading gravestones.

"What are we doing here exactly?" Naruto looked over Haruhi's shoulder, wanting to see what the girl was so interested in.

Haruhi hushed at him like she could concentrate more in a graveyard without his yapping — how she can concentrate on a task surrounded by the dead and a creepy fog was beyond him. Why was there a fog anyway?

"I'm looking for someone."

What's the use with them dead? Unless she was planning something illegal — grave robbing was definitely something he didn't want to get into. "Are we going to be digging up graves?" Please let the answer be a no. N.O.

That question got him the look from Haruhi. "Are you an idiot?" She gestured to the graves surrounding them. "We aren't here to disturb any spirits."

Really? Haruhi not wanting to chase after spirits, looking for monsters — and if they weren't digging, that meant no treasure. "So what exactly are we doing here?" Although it was a relief to know they weren't doing anything too wild (aside from visiting a grave yard and looking for the dead) he would be a little disappointed if they were just reading grave stones.

Haruhi turned the flashlight towards her face, and with that devilish grin, successfully frightened Naruto — only slightly though, he was going to be a ninja and they don't get scared from lights on faces.

"SOS Brigade test of courage!" She looked sternly at him. "We are going to stay the night here in the grave yard — you better fight your fears and not run away!"

Okay. He didn't expect that but he brought it upon himself for wanting a bit of excitement. "Okay, but what's with looking for a dead person?"

The smile on her lips widened. "I heard some stories from the kids in my neighbourhood—"

Naruto felt a twinge in his chest from that revelation — if Haruhi had other friends would she leave him? He shook the doubts from his head. Haruhi was here with him and no one else — anyway, what sane and normal child would have the guts to hang out with Haruhi? He was pretty confident that he was the only one who could handle her. I mean, there weren't any other kids who decided to visit the graveyard to play. He was pretty sure that he would be the only one to hang out with her if she continued on with her belief that sleeping in graveyards and chasing after monsters and ghosts were fun.

"—that there is a man buried here that haunts this place looking for children."

Ghosts that were after children? Yeah. What great way to spend a Friday night. At least it could be considered training — can the ninja academy count these as missions and skill building credits? "And we want to find him why?"

"We're going to sleep beside it!" Haruhi had a wide grin on her face — it was bordering to maniacal really, with it splitting her face and her eyes gleaming.

Right. Of course. What better way to test courage than by sleeping beside a child kidnapper's grave. "Yes, right, very stupid of me to ask." Naruto whispered as he followed Haruhi weave through the grave markers.

They walked further into the graveyard heading closer to the woods. The part of the graveyard was not very well kept. There were tall grass and weeds everywhere, and the cool thick fog close to the ground had given it a more eerie ambiance, and the hooting of the owls was making a creepy soundtrack for their little adventure. Naruto looked around at the dark woodlands, he couldn't shake the feeling that someone was watching them.

"Found it!" Haruhi waved him over excitedly. "Fuji, Takaru."

Naruto inspected the stone, there wasn't really anything written aside from name and date of birth and death. There wasn't even a picture on it like the other tombstones had. If there was a haunting they wouldn't know it was Takaru until the ghost started stealing them away in the night.

"Stop gawking at the tombstone and help me out with this tent!" Haruhi was preparing their camp area close to the woodlands. The tombstone was still in their sight so if there were any ghost activities from it, they wouldn't miss it.

"So did those kids tell you what the ghost Takaru looked like?" Naruto turned his attention to Haruhi as he secured the last stand for the tent. "We would need to know what he looks like so we can spot him." Before he can grab us from our tent.

Haruhi furrowed her brows as she tried to recall the details. "The kids said that he was middle aged, with long hair in a ponytail and a scar from his left eye to his neck." Haruhi had looked a bit fearful, but it was quickly replaced by excitement — must be from her faulty sense of danger. "They say he got the scar when the child had turned the knife on him to escape from being eaten by Takaru."

"Is this for real?" Now he was a child eater? That couldn't be for real. Demons eating children yeah, but this guy was a human. The story must have been exaggerated to keep children in line — he had witnessed the many of the villagers using stories about monsters to keep children in line. Naruto kept his hurt at bay when he recalled stories about him being a monster, Haruhi was the only one who seemed to not hear that story... and he hoped she never would.

"All legends have to start from somewhere, so it has to have a bit of truth in it." Haruhi set up her sleeping bag on the right side of the tent.

Naruto looked outside of the tent towards the grave before drawing the opening to a close with the zipper. The tent window would be enough to keep their watch, he wasn't going to endure the cold nights of the graveyard — and he definitely did not want that fog to creep in. "Well, hopefully it's not all true. I don't really want to be dinner."

"Don't be a coward." Haruhi punched him on the shoulder, a challenging look on her face.

Seeing how the other events had gone down, he was pretty sure he will not be the only one scared through the night. Although, he was going to keep that little detail to himself — admitting to his own fear to a girl was just embarrassing (besides, he was going to get rid of that once he was trained as a shinobi) and telling Haruhi she was a coward was just suicidal.

"I'm not. I'm just being honest." He rubbed at his shoulder — sometimes Haruhi didn't know how much strength she can sometimes have in her punches. "If it's a ghost that preys on children and might eat them, then there isn't really anything I can do to protect us." Naruto knew it was hopeless to reason with Haruhi about health and safety — there might not be ghosts (not having seen a solid proof) but there were demons and psychotic people; children alone in a graveyard seemed like a big sign of 'Attack Me' to all the crazies out there.

"You are a shinobi, you can fight this thing — and you'll be facing more dangerous people in the future so don't wimp out from a ghost."

Naruto had to actually agree with her there — it was just six years ago that the village was terrorized by a fox demon. So he may possibly have to do these kind of things... But that would be when he was a trained shinobi. Not a little boy with no weapon or techniques to take down a ghost or demon or even a crazed homicidal man or woman.

"Well I still don't know how to keep a ghost at bay — I haven't started shinobi training you know."

"Don't worry so much. I'm your captain and I got that covered." Haruhi brought up a couple of sticks. "I think it said in one of those spiritual books that if you make a cross with this it should keep evil at bay."

Haruhi handed Naruto the sticks, which he looked at with a lot of scepticism and uncertainty. He'll just use these as weapons... a ghost would have to grab them to drag them away in the night, so he might be able to hit the ghosts with these—or themselves if they go through the ghosts. But it might be better to be unconscious than go through the horrors of being eaten by ghosts.

Haruhi made herself comfortable on the spot beside him and watched the scenery before them. If it were not in a cemetery and maybe there was a more pleasant atmosphere — like those bonfires and woodlands that didn't have ominous fogs and no dead people — it may have been a very fun camp out. But no. Haruhi had to ruin fun by adding danger to the mix to have excitement — she might not even know the concept of danger and just believe it to be a very adventurous time.

"So what do we do before then? I'm thinking the ghost will show up around midnight—" Naruto didn't mention that it was stupid for them to be at the graveyard as early as six at night or being at the graveyard in the first place. "—we'll need to do something fun before then."

"Ghost stories!" Haruhi spoke through a mouthful of potato chips — she should have brought her own instead of eating his stash. "You better make them good!"

Why did he have to do all the work? Naruto sighed as he racked his mind for a story that would suit Haruhi's taste... Or he could make it so scary that she wouldn't want to stay in the cemetery for very long, or even be back here again. He knew what people said about him, the stories of being a demon and monster — he didn't want to encourage those stories by visiting gravesites.

"Okay. If I tell this story, no interruptions—" He gave Haruhi a warning look as she had opened her mouth. "—No interruptions, or it will ruin the story."

"Fine." She huffed as she settled herself more comfortably on a sleeping bag across from him. "Just don't bore me to death."

Funny.

Naruto followed Haruhi's lead and had situated himself more comfortably in his own sleeping bag, ignoring the glare that Haruhi sent his way for taking too long to entertain her. He didn`t think that friendship was supposed to have such an unbalanced give and take relationship — well more give-give, Haruhi preferred to be have things done her way more often than not.

"One night..."Naruto began his story.

everyone in the house was sleeping soundly. The parents were sleeping in their bedroom with the dog slumbering on its bed beside their own, and the little girl was sleeping in her own bedroom—dreaming of pleasant things.

"Is this a scary story?" Haruhi raised a brow at him in annoyance — really? She was the one annoyed?

Naruto glared at her. "Can you let me finish before you judge?"

Haruhi had graciously let him continue with a little nod of her head. If Naruto knew that he was just going to be in a graveyard sitting in a tent with Haruhi telling ghost stories, he would have just suggested watching horror movies in her attic or basement. If she wanted a bit of a scare, that would have been safer. At least they wouldn't be as cold; the chill in the air was freezing his bones.

"So she was dreaming of pleasant things..." Naruto continued

The girl's room was dark, having opted to try sleeping without her night light. The only light that the room was provided was from the full moon illuminating through the window. From within the shadows, the door slowly opened, the soft noise waking the girl in the bed.

Seeing the door opened she looked at it curiously. Were her parents awake and coming to check on her? Or was it her puppy? She waited for the door to open some more, but it stayed still. No other movement.

"Mom?" The girl whispered.

The door moved opened a bit more, but it wasn't enough for her mother to fit through, nor did she see her mother's face or her father. She sat up in her bed. "Mommy?"

A shuffle was heard throughout her room, like someone crawling.

She rubbed the sleep from her eyes smiling, it was just her puppy. Sitting up in her bed, she was about to call on her dog to hop onto the bed — but a strange shadowed silhouette had appeared instead.

Naruto felt a grip on his arm and noticed that Haruhi had scooted over to him while he was telling his story — in the process of squeezing the blood out of his arm with her death grip. "Scared?"

All he got was a punch.

Naruto chuckled to himself before resuming. "She stayed silent..."

not wanting to make a noise and bring the attention of the strange creature that was at the foot of her bed. She crept further on her bed, her back drawn up against the headboard, with the blanket tucked close to her as a shield. She watched scared and anxious at the shadow. She suppressed a squeak as she heard and saw it shuffle along the foot of her bed. The shadow head bobbing up and down as it crawled from one side to the other in a lazy pace, the only noise being her breathing and the shuffling of the creature.

The little girl drew her feet close and almost cried when the noise she made had drawn the shadow's attention. She tucked back into the head board, closing her eyes, hoping it would ignore her — thinking she was asleep.

"That's stupid — she should have screamed for help!" Having Haruhi so close to him, Naruto was pretty sure his ear had been damaged with her voice so loud in her fear.

"She was scared — scared people end up frozen in fear." Naruto didn't want to remind her of the time where she was cowering behind him in the forest of death and that damn attic.

"Just continue already!"

Naruto was annoyed, but he couldn't concentrate on that much when there was a chill in the air. He rubbed at the back of his neck, the tiny hairs having risen from the chill — and he still had that feeling that someone was watching. Or maybe the graveyard was just creeping him out. He drew a blanket around him — stupid cemetery. "She slowly opened her eyes..."

and the face was looking at her from the side of her bed. Her throat seized up. The shadow continued to look at her with its eerie white eyes. She didn't take her eyes off of it, not wanting to take miss its next move.

She jumped slightly in her bed when the creature had quickly moved its head, turning its attention to the right side of the room. She followed its gaze and all she could see was her bookshelf in shadow.

Haruhi's whimper interrupted the story again — for a person who wanted to be told a scary story, she interrupted a lot.

"Do you want to hear the story or not?"

Haruhi pinched him in the arm. "I do. So why'd you stop?"

Naruto just absently nodded his head, drawing the sheet around him and looked out the tent window. He couldn't shake the feeling of being watched — which was crazy because they were in a cemetery. Seeing no one in the gravesite, he drew his attention back to Haruhi. He may just be feeling the affect of his own story telling.

Pathetic really, getting scared of his made up story?

He'll keep that to himself. Don't want Haruhi to know.

"There was nothing wrong with the bookcase..."

aside from her books there was nothing in the shelved that was out of the ordinary. She turned her attention back to the creature at the foot of the bed, and saw that it was still looking at the bookshelf. She looked at the bookcase, searching from one shelf to the next for anything that was strange.

There was nothing but shadow.

She caught site of a strange item on the shelf. She hadn't remembered having a ceramic figurine there — the shadow moved.

She followed the shadow in the shelf, and there it was. She saw the figure of a small human form in the shelf. It was a shadow body with pure white hands and white feet. She trailed her eyes upwards, creeping up the arms to the neck—

A white mask.

The face was smiling at her.

"The en—" Naruto received a hard punch on his shoulder. "What was that for?"

Haruhi glared at him — and in her slightly huddled and shaking form, she still looked intimidating. "That's for making a stupid story."

"If you're not scared, then let go of me." He shook his arm to loosen her grip on him — if she was going to punch him, there was no way that she was allowed to be close. "Go back to your side of the tent."

Haruhi didn't hesitate for long, and started crawling over to her side, huffing along the way — he was pretty sure she was cursing him under her breath. Naruto watched in amusement when he noticed she had drawn her sleeping bag a little closer to his.

So she was scared eh?

Naruto couldn't help the evil grin that drew up on his face. She was going to hate him, but he definitely won't stop him from pulling his little prank. Oh if he just had a camera. He drew a shaky hand up, pointing over her shoulder. "Ha-Haruhi, wh-what is that?"

Haruhi froze in her spot, not daring to look over her shoulder, her face expressing her panic—she was definitely going to kill him after this. "Naruto?"

Oh this was good. "Don't move." He whispered to her. "You don't want it to notice you."

She inched closer to him, but stopped when he gave her a look. "What is it?"

"Don't look behind you." Naruto was fighting very hard to get stop himself from laughing and ruining his entertainment. Haruhi was looking so scared it was beyond amusement. "Just don't move okay?" If being a shinobi didn't work out, he might have a chance at being an actor. He can attend those normal schools and participate in plays; it definitely should be something to think about.

Haruhi shivered in her spot, but didn't move an inch — which was really surprising because Haruhi had never followed what he said before. He was definitely going to make a note of it in his calendar.

"Na-Naruto."

Was it weird of him to find her scared voice cute? Amusing even?

"It's holding my leg."

He couldn't hold down a snicker, thank goodness he was able to make it sound like a cough or else he was sure that he was going to get more than a punch — but the girl had a very good imagination.

"Naruto! It has my leg." Tears were in her eyes. "I'm scared."

Haruhi was crying.

This wasn't funny anymore.

"Hey, nothing's got your leg." Naruto smiled at her. "I was making the whole thing up." Haruhi didn't stop crying — maybe he shouldn't have played this trick on her, no matter her brave front, she wasn't all that tough — she was a girl afterall.

"Naruto, it's got my leg."

"I told you I was making it up, nothing's got your leg." Naruto pointed at her leg, there was nothing there — just her and her sleeping bag. "I see nothing holding you — I was lying when I said something was behind you."

Her leg twitched. "Naruto!" Haruhi cried.

Naruto looked down at Haruhi's leg, there was no hand that he can see — but hearing her whimper, he needed to get rid of whatever it was that he made her believe. He assessed her leg again, there was nothing but shadow. He crawled over towards her, prepared to fight off whatever it was she thought had a grip of her damn leg.

Her leg twitched.

"Naruto!"

What was that? He looked closer at Haruhi's leg — something that was quite a challenge when Haruhi had ended up squeezing him in fear once he got close enough. But back to serious matter, there was something definitely strange going on. He started to usher her towards his sleeping bag, maybe getting her to move would have her stop believing that something was holding her damn leg.

As she started to crawl, he noticed that her right leg stayed where it was, just having it extended straight when they got to his side. "Don't be stupid Haruhi, move your leg. There's nothing there, just move it."

She muffled her tears, as she tugged on her leg. She was being stupid; just because his scary story had shadow monsters, didn't mean that the shadow on her damn leg was one. Maybe he should've told her at the beginning that the story was made up so she wouldn't be in this stupid encompassing fear that seemed to play tricks on her body.

Shadow.

Her leg had a shadow.

This was unreal.

He took hold of Haruhi's leg and pulled it, the leg didn't budge from its spot and she had squealed when the shadow had gripped tighter on her leg that he could see the suppression. The shadow grew larger and he started to make out the shape of a hand and an arm emerging from the dark.

"Don't look Haruhi."

It was just a story.

He made it up.

The shadow figure emerged until the head, neck and shoulders were out with one arm clearly having a solid grip on Haruhi's leg. The disfigured face of the figure was smiling at him — a scar from his eye to his neck and hair tied back, this was Fuji, Takaru. The man smiled at him and pulled on Harurhi's leg.

Haruhi screamed in his arms as he tried to prevent her from being pulled into the shadows. "Naruto!" She gripped tighter around his torso.

Takaru was here to take his best friend away. He adjusted his grip on Haruhi and leaned back — he wasn't going to get her. "Don't look Haruhi." Naruto whispered as hugged her closer. "Whatever you do just don't look okay?"

Takaru sank deeper into the shadow pulling Haruhi along with him — her leg was already knee deep into the shadows. Naruto looked around frantically, he needed something to hold onto so they wouldn't be pulled in — but they were in a damn tent, there was nothing but tent to hold onto and that wasn't much for leverage.

Both of Takaru's hand was now on Haruhi's leg, and they were inching up as he drew her deeper into the shadow.

"Let go!" Naruto kicked at the hands — it wasn't effective in loosening its grip but now he knew that he could physically harm it. He kicked frantically at the hands, but it wasn't affected by the pain and with all his kicking, he wasn't able to pull back and Haruhi had been drawn deeper — both her legs were in.

Takaru's eyes peaked out from the dark floor, his body having immersed itself back into the shadows aside from his arms and head. "She's mine."

Haruhi looked up at him, her tears clouding her eyes. "Don't let him take me."

He felt so useless. This was why he didn't like doing these things, didn't want to partake in these dangerous adventures. Haruhi had a penchant for attracting a lot of trouble and danger that he had no way to stop it. This wasn't the fake ghost in the attic (this wasn't some overgrown bat) and there was no traitor jounin that would attract the Hokage to this location. No one was going to help them out this time.

And why the hell was some stupid superstition for children real in the first place? Isn't it supposed to be some crock parents make up to scare their children to behave?

"Don't let it take me."

"I won't let him take you." I don't want them to take you away. Naruto gripped harder but Haruhi kept slipping away from him — and she knew it.

"Naruto, don't let him take me!" Haruhi was pleading, her tiny hands gripping at his clothes at his arms at the sleeping bag — anything, anything that will keep her from sinking into the dark.

I'm not strong enough.

I'm just a kid.

I'm going to lose Haruhi.

He was going to lose his friend. He was going to be all alone again. He won't have someone visiting his place and decorating his house with girly things. He wasn't going to have someone dragging him around town making him spend money on books about princes and damsels. He wasn't going to have someone buy him presents — even if it was occasionally bought with his own money. He wasn't going to have someone to go on dangerous adventures with.

He couldn't lose Haruhi.

He wasn't going to lose Haruhi.

There was no way he was going to lose Haruhi.

Naruto and Haruhi, that's the way it should and would be.

"She's mine!" Naruto heaved back, drawing up all his strength, all his will, his entire being into keeping her. That bastard wasn't going to drag her anywhere. "You're not going to take her away from me!"

...

...

Sarutobi stiffened in his seat. He knew that aura signature anywhere — it may have been brief, but to have just an ounce of that power free even for a moment could mean trouble for anyone. He drew up his hat and signalled his hand to the right, the ANBU knew the protocol.

Sarutobi just hoped everything was okay as he left to follow the trace.

...

...

"Naruto?" Haruhi held onto him tighter.

Naruto hugged her closer. "You're safe." Whatever happened whether it was real or their wild imagination powered by the graveyard and the story or whatever supernatural, they were safe and for some freak accident, he was able to save Haruhi. "It's gone, we're safe."

Haruhi just nodded into his chest, not relenting her grip on him; which was good because he wasn't letting her go either — they just went through some weird stuff and which probably will traumatize them for a while. But of course they just couldn't stay here hugging, he didn't want to stay here longer than they already have. And he was definitely going to work on having Haruhi not partake in anything too dangerous for a while — most definitely, there would be no cemetery trips.

"We should go." Naruto pulled them up to stand. He didn't care much for packing, he was shoving things in their bag and seeing as Haruhi wasn't complaining, it was alright to do so. He just wanted to leave as fast as possible and he was pretty sure Haruhi didn't want to stay in the cemetery any longer.

"Naruto?"

Haruhi clung to Naruto quickly, bringing Naruto into defensive — but thankfully it was just the old man. The bastard shouldn't have done his shinobi tricks, they were still on edge. "What are you doing here old man?"

"Is everything okay?" the Hokage assessed them.

Naruto snorted. "Well yeah, you were late for the action but everything is fine now." Haruhi drew closer to him. "Look, we have to go now — the graveyard isn't such a great place to be." And they shouldn't have been here in the first place. He levelled Haruhi a look. "And definitely not a place we would be visiting again."

Haruhi lowered her head in understanding.

"So we're going to go back to her place now." Naruto waved the Hokage goodbye. The old man was acting a bit weird — staring at him and such...maybe he knew about the ghost? Anyway, he wasn't going to investigate. They needed to go back home.


A/N: Hope you enjoyed reading this.