Author Note: To make two things clear: Naruto is 12 in this fic at the start. I won't be addressing that in text; so Hinata and the rookie group have just graduated, and Tenten, Lee, and Neji are 13. Also, this is a second challenge fic for me.
Challenge Info: Naruto finds a sword in the woods, and when he picks it up, he is startled when it talks to him. The sword's name is Shape-Shifter, and, like his name implies, he can take any form he wants. The sword befriends Naruto, and makes a deal with him: if he can learn to wield him properly, Shape-Shifter will help him gain true happiness. The main problem with this is that Shape-Shifter changes his form at least thirty times a day, due to getting bored with staying in one form for too long, and he is stubborn as well, so Naruto must learn to think the way Shape-Shifter does, and be prepared for whenever he changes form on him. While he will allow Naruto to choose a form for him to turn into, he won't change into it if Naruto can't think of something 'satisfying' to be. Rating: anything you want it to be. Pairing: NaruHina.
Now that that's out of the way, enjoy! And yes, I know I changed where he found it, the challenger is fine with that.
Naruto had come to a realization of late. Namely, that he had a problem. What problem could the best shinobi in Konoha have, you're asking? Well, in a nutshell, his problem was his taijutsu. Or rather, his lack thereof. He wasn't bad at thinking on the fly and launching attacks when least expected, but as for a style? Not happening. He'd tried several of late, and absolutely none of them had worked. That's how he found himself where he was now. The blond knucklehead found himself in a weapons shop. He'd thought long and hard about his problem, and, in spite of being a ninjutsu specialist, he had decided to try mastering a weapon, namely a bladed one, to cover his taijutsu weakness. He'd decided to try for a half-length blade.
Naruto almost chuckled at himself. Since when did he think of "covering his weaknesses" and such? Oh well, he didn't really care. He knew a certain kunoichi, Tenten, who would be willing to train him in a blade; all he had to do was find one. So it was that he was here looking at weapons in a small shop. He had been wandering around a slum of Konoha when he happened upon a large sign declaring "WEAPONS", so he went to investigate. He had found everything in here from kunai (damn good ones too), shuriken (again, very good quality), and exploding tags and the like to clubs and full-length swords (all of excellent quality or better). But what he was looking for was a half-length blade, not a full-length one. And naturally, he hadn't seen even one of those. Well, this was certainly frustrating.
As he wandered around the shop, he kept catching a glimpse of something out of the corner of his eye, but when he'd look where he thought it was coming from, it would be gone. He shrugged. As it happened, his movement brought him closer and closer to whatever he was glimpsing until he was right where he thought it was. He still couldn't pinpoint it, though. He sighed; that was getting annoying, and the lack of what he was looking for was getting old too. He saw whatever it was he kept half-seeing again. This time he turned and spotted something. And what he saw was quite shocking.
It was a half-length blade, just what he'd been looking for since he came in here. That was irritating, but that wasn't what was so shocking about it. The blade was nothing special when you first looked at it, just a half-blade sword, no point, a typical handle, though the handle seemed just a bit long for a sword that size. The end of the handle was carved in the shape of an open eye. Like everything else in the shop, this blade was exquisite to say the least. The weapon seemed to have been carved, blade and handle together, from a single piece of metal. The handle was wrapped in the finest leather Naruto had ever seen. The guard, also that same metal, jutted out from the blade and went in a swirl much like the ones Naruto had on his jacket. That would have been enough to catch his eye if the blade had not already done so. It had, however, done so long before he even noticed the design of the guard or the leather on the grip. The blade itself had caught his eye. It was blue. It was the same blue as Naruto's eyes, in fact. That's what he'd been spotting out of the corner of his eye all along. That odd blue color had been distracting him for some time now; now that he had found the source, though, he decided that he was going to get this weapon. He grinned; mission accomplished.
He went over and wrapped his hand around the grip of the weapon and got an all-new shock. Well, first off, there was a small electrical shock when he touched it, in spite of the leather, but secondly, the eye on the end of the pommel seemed to be staring at him. Then he heard it.
"Hello, young man." Naruto looked around, trying to find the source of the voice. He saw no one anywhere near him; the only other person in the shop was the proprietor, and this voice was obviously not his. He was probably 90, and this voice was that of a much younger man, maybe even a woman, given the high pitch of the words. Naruto looked at the sword and the eye was looking straight at him. "Yes, that was me you heard," the voice said; Naruto dropped the sword. "OW!" It said, rather annoyed. "What did you have to do that for? Come on, pick me up."
Naruto wasn't sure what to do at first, but he eventually leaned over and picked up the sword. "What in the world are you?" he asked it.
"My name is Shape-Shifter. I've been trying to catch your eye ever since you came in here. I just didn't know what in the world you wanted. Please, get me the hell out of here," the sword's voice said. Naruto found he rather liked the voice; it was rather imperious at moments, but pleasant for the most part.
"What's in it for me?" he asked; he wasn't being rude, he was just curious.
"If you'll get me the hell out of this shop, you'll be able to wield me, both in practice and battle. And I'm quite the weapon, seeing as I can turn into whatever the hell you want me to, or whatever I want to," the last part was said with a bit of a snicker. "And if you take me, no one but you will be able to wield me unless you either die or prove yourself unworthy to wield me."
"And what would I need to do to remain worthy of you?" Again, Naruto was just curious. He had already decided to take the sword up on its offer.
"Well, remain loyal to your village, your friends, things like that, and always do what you believe is right," the sword answered. "I think that's about it, really. I may not have many standards, but I'm not very lenient on the ones I have either, just so you know."
Naruto chuckled. "You've got a deal. Do you have a sheath here somewhere?" The eye seemed to look at one that was laying under where the sword had been hanging. Naruto picked it up and saw it was the right size for the sword; he slid the sword into it and carried both to the checkout counter. The proprietor looked at him. "How much for this sword?"
The man looked at the blade a moment, then suddenly realized what it was. "By all means, you can take that. I was hoping someone would take it. If you want it, it's yours. Wield it well, young man."
Naruto was surprised, but he wasn't about to argue about that. "Awesome! You're the best! Thanks!" he said, and with that, he left, carrying his new weapon. After he was a little away from the shop, Naruto looked at the sword in his hands and chuckled. "I'd always heard the best things in life are free. Looks like it's true, huh?"
"I'll take that as a compliment," Shape-Shifter answered his rather rhetorical question. "Oh, and by the way, no one but you can hear me, so don't talk to me too much or people will think you're nuts. Now, I need a stretch." So saying, the sword extended itself until it was longer than Naruto was tall, then shrank until it was no longer than a kunai. "Ah, that felt good," it said, chuckling.
"Wait a minute," Naruto said. "I know you just got a lot bigger, so why didn't you get heavier; or lighter when you got smaller for that matter?" The only thing still the same about the weapon, the eye in its handle, looked up at Naruto.
"Well, see, I only have a certain amount of material to work with. I can change into whatever the hell I want, so don't worry, but no matter what I am, be it kunai, club, sword, half-sword, or house-and yes I can do that-I'll weigh the same amount. Want to really impress someone, pick me up when I'm in my house form. They'll wonder when you got so strong," the sword said, chuckling. Naruto smiled; he already liked the sword. He hoped he'd continue to get along with it as well as he had so far. "Anyway, I'll change into things you suggest-which you can do just by picturing what you want me to be and gripping my pommel-but only if I find the form satisfying. Oh, and be careful, the metal I'm made from has some rather unique properties. That's why it's blue. But I'll tell you about those later." Naruto swore, if the sword had a tongue, it would have been sticking it out at him at that part. He laughed.
"Well, Shape-Shifter, I'll see what I can do about giving you satisfying forms in the future. And as for the special qualities of your metal, I'm sure we can cover that in time. For now, though, just stay in your kunai form, all right? I need to get you home for now."
"All right. Just don't take too long," it said.
Naruto nodded, stuffed the kunai in his pouch, and headed for home. When he got there, he took the blue blade from his pouch and set it against a wall. It immediately morphed into a rope javelin, the eye on the handle, the metal stretched into the rope as well as the blade on the end. Naruto chuckled and shook his head at it. This was certainly going to be an interesting weapon to learn to wield. He thought a moment, then realized that if he learned to truly wield this weapon, he would be nearly invincible; after all, it could turn into literally anything it wanted. There's no weapon out there that doesn't have a weakness, so if he could learn the counters for each weapon, he could turn this one into that counter if he faced a weapon, and bingo. He chuckled. And having seemingly found a new friend in the mix didn't hurt, either. He smiled at that thought. Then he started to laugh. Soon he was laying on the floor, crying from laughing so hard. The weapon, which was now in the form of a club with spikes extruding from it, looked over at him.
"What is so funny, you lunatic?" it asked him.
Naruto, still laughing uproariously, gasped out, "I never thought I would find myself friends with a sword, or a club for that matter." The last part was added as he saw the weapon's current form. As he thought of that, he laughed even louder than before. For some reason, the expression "join the club" went through his head at the idea of being friends with one, which set off that new wave of laughing.
It took Naruto about an hour to calm down enough to do anything normal. Once he had, he got up and went to get his shower and crawled into bed. He laughed quietly to himself about his new friend even as he was falling asleep.
The next afternoon, Naruto could be seen walking through Konoha's streets with a new weapon strapped on his back. For some reason, it had been quiet this morning, and it seemed satisfied at present to hang on his back as a sword about the length of Naruto's arm. It seemed to know that changing shape where others could see was probably not a good idea just now, so it retained its form with only a few grumbles of boredom. Naruto was already rather adept at ignoring those.
Naruto was meeting Tenten today to show her the new weapon and ask her if she'd help him train with it. From a little research (namely, asking Hinata who asked Neji) he had learned that Team Gai trained at Training Ground 60 every morning and stopped about two in the afternoon, so he was on his way there now.
Arriving at the training ground, Naruto didn't know he had an audience (Hinata was following him). He saw Neji, Lee, and Tenten packing up to leave. He called out, "Hey, Tenten!" She looked up and saw Naruto. She didn't know the boy well, but she didn't hate him. She gave him a friendly smile.
"What's up, Naruto?" She noticed the sword on his back. "New sword? Where did you get that?"
Naruto pulled it out and showed it to her. She gasped when she saw the blue blade, never mind the exquisite quality of the weapon. Then Naruto chuckled and a moment later, he was holding a club, then a rope javelin, then a mace, all of them blue. Tenten looked at the blond boy with a curious expression.
"Don't ask. Just know that it's all one weapon. I was hoping you could help teach me how to wield it." Tenten thought about this a moment, then nodded. Tenten heard a small movement in a bush and chuckled, recognizing the movement as Hinata's.
"Tell you what, Naruto, I'll help you train with this on one condition." Naruto looked at her, apprehensive but curious. Tenten pointed at the bush where she knew Hinata was then leaned in and whispered to Naruto. "Go over to that bush and ask out the person hiding there. She can help you train, too; hell, I'll train you both if you want." Naruto looked at Tenten like she was insane. Tenten just chuckled. "Don't worry, Naruto, I know who's over there; she'll say yes if you ask her out, I know; hell, she's been wanting you to ask her out for years. Plus, I think you'll find her very pleasant to be around if you give her a chance." Naruto still thought Tenten was insane, but he finally nodded and went over to the bush she had pointed at.
Parting the bush, Naruto looked in and saw Hinata standing there, a blush on her face at being found. "Oh, it's you, Hinata. What are you doing here?" Hinata fainted. Naruto wasn't sure what to do, so he just picked her up and carried her out into the clearing, where Tenten was waiting for him. "I asked her what she was doing here and she fainted," he explained to Tenten. "When she comes to, I'll ask her on a date, fair?" Tenten smiled and nodded. "All right, then, while it's still a sword, what can you teach me about that?"
Half an hour later, Naruto was annoyed as hell with the weapon. It had changed at random from a sword to a club to the rope javelin it seemed to like so much to, at one point, a two-by-four plank. Naruto had to laugh at that one, but it was getting frustrating never knowing what the weapon was going to turn into next. Once, when Tenten was showing him how to do a sword maneuver, the contrary thing turned into a box. Another time, when she was showing him how to use the rope javelin, it turned into a club. That one resulted in him smacking himself in the face with it. Luckily, it didn't have spikes that time, or he would have had a serious problem. Finally, after half an hour of very annoying training and Tenten laughing a good bit, Hinata finally woke up.
Naruto heard Hinata's voice as she awoke and muttered something. He looked over at her and smiled. She actually was cute when she was waking up like that. The confused look on her face just made her all the cuter. He had a sudden urge to hug her for some reason, but shook it off. He walked over to her.
"Hey, Hinata," he said, smiling. Hinata looked up and, seeing Naruto, blushed deeply. Her fingers started to press into one another. Naruto chuckled. "Hey, Hinata, I was actually wondering, would you like to go out on a date with me sometime?"
Hinata gasped. Was this real? Naruto had just asked her on a date? And had done so in those exact words at that. She pinched herself; when nothing changed, she had no choice but to guess it was real. "I'd love to!" she answered, surprising herself that she didn't stutter at all. "But, I thought you liked Sakura, Naruto?" She was almost hoping he wouldn't answer that.
"Well, I do, but she's so hung up on Sasuke, I know I have no chance there. Besides, Tenten's training me, she offered to train you too, by the way, and she said if she was going to train me, I had to ask you out. Plus, you're really pretty and I would be truly honored if you'd let me take you out," Naruto said, smiling one of his true smiles at the shy girl.
Hinata processed what he had said, thinking over all of it. So he realized that he had no chance with Sakura. That was good. Tenten had told him to ask her out? That was surprising, but she shrugged it off. The last part, he had said she was pretty and that he really wanted to go out with her! She smiled, blushing. "It would be my pleasure, Naruto," she told him.
"Good. And would you like to train with us too? Tenten said she'd be happy to train you, too, if you want." Hinata nodded at that. Naruto held a hand out to her to help her up; she took it and let him help her. He released her hand far too soon for her taste, but she didn't complain. The two walked back over to Tenten to resume training; on their way, Naruto showed Hinata his new weapon and explained that it could change shape. Like Tenten, Hinata was curious where he got the weapon. Naruto chuckled at that as the two rejoined Tenten. "Well, it seems you two are both curious where I got this. After we're done here, I'll take you both by there, all right? Maybe you could get some new stuff there, too; they have really good weapons there."
Tenten was curious how he knew what a good weapon was, but given the quality of the one he had, maybe he had an eye for such things. She and Hinata both agreed to go there after training, and the three got back to said training.
After another hour, another very frustrating hour for Naruto and a very amusing one for Tenten and Hinata, the three were ready to go. This time, the only really irritating change the weapon had made was when Naruto was trying a club maneuver and the thing had turned into its rope javelin form; this resulted in Naruto getting his legs caught in the "rope" and falling flat on his face. Tenten had laughed uproariously at this, and even Hinata had giggled at it. Naruto, though annoyed, realized it was funny and chuckled with them. Once they were all ready, Naruto somehow convinced the weapon to turn into a kunai again and stuffed it in his pouch, trusting it to stay that way for a while at least.
Naruto led the two girls across town into the slum area where he'd found the shop. He went straight to it and found it easily. He led them in. Tenten in particular was surprised; these were the finest quality blades she'd ever seen. Naruto certainly knew how to pick them. Hinata ended up buying a handful of kunai and a few shuriken, and Tenten found a small scythe somewhere and bought that. They all told the proprietor that they'd be back again and left.
Naruto walked Tenten home first, then he and Hinata walked off together. Once the two were alone, Hinata turned to Naruto. "You know, you don't have to take me out if you don't want to, Naruto. I won't be offended if you don't want to," she said, her nervousness getting the better of her.
Naruto chuckled. "Don't worry about it, Hinata. I really do think you're pretty, and I'd love to get to know you better, so taking you out is perfectly natural. As for Tenten, she-" he was cut off as he heard his pouch rip. "Ugh, that stupid thing." He picked up his kunai and shuriken and put them in his other pouch, then looked at the only thing still on the ground. Shape-Shifter had chosen a hell of a time to morph into a mace. His left pouch was ruined; he'd have to replace that now. As he glared at the weapon, it turned into a metallic version of Hinata, about six inches tall. Naruto chuckled. Then it turned into the half-length sword it had been when he found it, sheath and all; Naruto picked it up and put it on his back, then turned back to Hinata. "Come on, let's get you home, so I can get this stupid thing home before it destroys something else," he said, smiling.
"All right. So, anyway, what were you saying about Tenten?" Hinata asked.
"Honestly, I don't remember what I was saying. But really, don't worry about her, I would have refused if I hadn't been willing to take you out anyway. So when should we go? Tomorrow night?" He was still smiling at Hinata, who was blushing furiously.
Hinata smiled at Naruto and answered, "Tomorrow night would be great, Naruto." As she said this, they arrived at the Hyuga Estate. "Well, this is my stop. I'll see you tomorrow night, all right, Naruto?"
Naruto chuckled. "Sure, see you tomorrow, Hinata." As the two parted, Hinata into her home and Naruto down the road toward his home, both were thinking the same thing, though for two different reasons. They were both thinking that the future was going to be very interesting indeed. Hinata was thinking this because of her impending date, and Naruto was thinking it because of his new weapon. Neither one knew just how right they were.