Konohagakure no Sato.
Almost three years had passed since he had last laid eyes on the village of his birth, and at first glance not much had changed.
'Wow… they got baa-chan's face on the monument. It looks good there.'
"Oi, you ready for this, Gaki?"
"Yeah, let's get it over with."
"Look, Naruto, it's not your fau-"
Naruto interrupted his companion, but did so in a rather quiet tone. "Yes it is, Ero-sennin. You and I both know it. If hadn't been so impulsive this wouldn't have happened. I just hope that baa-chan doesn't kill me when she finds out."
"You ready for this? If you want to go, I'll do the Henge for you. I know that you can't hold it for very long yet when you are distracted," Naruto's companion asked, while placing their hand on top of his head, right between his fuzzy red ears.
Naruto leaned into the touch slightly, since that place was rather sensitive, and nodded.
"Yeah, let's get this over with."
Having made their way through the village without any trouble, and without running into any of Naruto's old friends, he and Jiraiya, for that's who his companion was, presented themselves before one of the most powerful people alive, in more than one sense of the word.
Senju Tsunade, genius of medical ninjutsu, possessor of freakish strength, holder of the Slug contract, student of the late Sarutobi Hiruzen, kunoichi of the great Sannin, and Godaime Hokage of Konohagakure no Sato, looked nothing like one would expect of the person who held those titles.
She barely looked a third of her age, had problems with alcohol and gambling, and was currently passed out at her desk, drooling on some paperwork.
For her benefit, she did wake up when she heard the door open, though not fast enough to prevent her visitors from seeing the end of her impromptu nap. Still, she tried her best to ignore it, and forged ahead as if it hadn't happened.
"Che, it's about damn time you two got back. You're only a month late….." Tsunade told them, all the while glaring at the pair. "What took so long?"
"Uh…..well….we had a, uh, bit of a minor, uh, setback, and that was the cause of our delay," Jiraiya sputtered out.
Finally paying attention to her senses, Tsunade noticed something was wrong. "What do you mean, 'minor setback'? And why are you holding a henge over Naruto?"
Her gaze flew between the two nins standing before her, trying to figure out what was going on. "Jiraiya, what happened?"
Jiraiya just sighed, and began his tale.
"About six months before we were supposed to be back, I ran out of things to teach him. So, in what I thought was a stroke of brilliance, I presented him to the toad elders to see if he could learn Senjutsu."
"Okay, I follow you so far, but why the sadness? Shouldn't that have been a good thing?"
"It was, until we got their answer. After doing all their tests, they found that, due to the Kyuubi, that Naruto could never learn Toad Senjutsu."
A pitying look came over Tsunade's face, along with a feeling of immense sadness. Though she herself had not learned senjutsu, she knew how powerful it was, having seen Jiraiya in action before.
The tale then continued, this time by Naruto, "That night, the fox called to me, and I visited it in my mindscape. We had communicated like that many times before, and actually got along almost decently. Anyway, he told me that I could possibly learn Kitsune Senjutsu instead, and then told me how to go about contacting those who could test me in it."
That confused the Slug Princess. "Only summon creatures can teach Senjutsu…..are you telling me that there's a Kitsune contract?"
"Yeah. It hasn't been active for like a hundred years or so, but it does exist. Anyway, once I contacted the foxes, I was presented before their council, and tested. I passed."
Tsunade thought that he would've been happy at that bit of news, but the look that Naruto had was rather bittersweet.
"They began teaching me right away, and for the rest of the six months before we were supposed to return, I tried to learn Kitsune Senjutsu. It was extremely difficult, and at the end of the six months I had almost nothing to show for it."
Based on his expression, Tsunade was beginning to get an idea of where he was headed with his story.
"So I snuck out on my own, to get some more practice in. I had a decent enough control over the nature chakra normally, but I was very frustrated that night….."
Naruto trailed off, and Jiraiya continued. "You remember what I told you of my Senjutsu training, right? How that if I had failed to control the nature chakra, I would turn into a toad statue?"
Tsunade nodded, and Naruto started speaking again, though his voice was low and broken. "I was so frustrated and angry that I tried to force the nature chakra. It worked at first, until I realized that I had pulled too much, and that I couldn't control it anymore."
A growing look of shock, horror, and sadness crossed the face of Tsunade, as well as that of her assistant, Shizune, as they realized what Naruto had done. "I lost it," he sobbed, "I was taken over by the nature chakra."
All was silent for a few minutes, save for Naruto's labored breathing, until Tsunade asked a question.
"Well, if he lost to the nature chakra, why isn't he a statue of a fox?"
Noticing that Naruto was in no state to answer, Jiraiya spoke, "Kitsune Senjutsu and Toad Senjutsu are different. Being overwhelmed by Toad Senjutsu turns you into a statue. Being overwhelmed by Kitsune Senjutsu doesn't."
Naruto picked up the narrative again. "No; failing at learning Kitsune Senjutsu turns you into a kitsune. I'm not human anymore."
Naruto locked eyes with Tsunade at that point, and the kunoichi could see the self-loathing in his eyes. She could feel the anger, hatred, and disappointment that Naruto had at himself as if it were a physical thing. She also noticed something else. It registered to her also as hatred, but not at himself.
'Does he…no, there's no way…he does. He thinks that I'm going to hate him for this. Hell, he probably thinks that we'll all hate him for this…'
Standing up from behind her desk, Tsunade went and faced Naruto. "Naruto look at me." Once she had his gaze, however reluctantly it was given, she said, "Naruto, I don't care what you did. I'm not going to hate you. I never have, and I never will."
"But baa-chan, I fucked up. I ran off without thinking, did something stupid, and I fucked up. I fucked up bad….."
Realizing that there was still more to the story, she looked at Jiraiya. "Drop the henge, Jiraiya. I have to know."
Jiraiya sighed again, and dropped the henge, allowing the human form of Naruto to vanish in a cloud of smoke. When it cleared, it revealed the true consequences of Naruto's mistake.
Where there had just been a boy of fifteen, there now stood a large fox, whose shoulders reached Jiraiya's waist. He was looking away from her, clearly ashamed of what he had become. Still, she managed to get him to look at her, and as soon as she saw those brilliant blue eyes of his she knew in her heart and soul that Naruto hadn't changed at all where it really mattered.
Dropping to her knees, she threw her arms around his neck, pulling him into a hug. The action clearly shocked the blue-eyed fox, as it was about the last thing he had expected. Eventually, though, Naruto gave in to the hug, and pressed his now reddish-brown head into the side of hers.
After a good while had passed, Tsunade backed out of the hug. "Well, this can't be all bad news can it? There has to be some good coming from this right?"
"I don't know yet, baa-chan. I only stabilized a few days ago, and I haven't had a chance to figure out what I can and can't do anymore."
Having sat on the floor after breaking the hug, Tsunade stared off at nothing in particular, until she asked, "Stabilized? What do you mean by that?"
"I….. I don't contain the Kyuubi, anymore. After I lost to the nature chakra, and became like this, the seal was pretty much gone, and I had to release it or it would've killed me." Seeing the growing look of horror on the Hokage's face, he added, "He can only come here if called, baa-chan. Kyuubi is the boss of the kitsune contract after all. Besides that, since he's been sealed up in people for like the last fifty years or so the fox clan he's in charge of is a mess.
Anyway, my chakra was so unstable for those three weeks that I could barely even move. It still hasn't settled completely; that's why Ero-sennin had to hold the henge for me on the way here."
They all trailed off for a while, each of them thinking different things, until Tsunade asked, "What do you want to tell your friends, Naruto? At least one of them comes by every day asking about when you'll be back."
While Naruto thought, Tsunade took the time to study Naruto's new appearance. His fur was a dark reddish-brown, and she also noticed a black band of some sort hanging around his neck.
She also noticed a difference in his eyes. They retained the same shade of blue they had when he was human, but the pupil was now slit vertically. Interrupting Naruto's train of thought, she asked him what the band was.
"That?" he asked back, tilting his head back so that she might be able to see it easier. "That's my forehead protector."
And so it was. It seemed that even not being human any longer had shaken his faith in being a ninja of the Leaf.
"And the necklace I gave you?"
Jiraiya promptly pulled the item in question out of his pocket. "It don't fit anymore, and the Gaki didn't know if he could still keep it."
Tsunade just took it from him, and after untying the forehead protector from Naruto's neck, proceeded to tie the necklace to the fabric of Naruto's leaf. Once it was on, she tied it around his neck again.
Placing her hand over it, she said, "This necklace is yours, Naruto. You won it from me a long time ago, and it is yours to keep, regardless of what form you take, as you will always be Uzumaki Naruto to me."
Naruto couldn't help himself anymore, as those words meant a very great deal to him, and a big fat tear began to form in his eye, before slowly running down the fur of his face, to fall silently to the floor.
"A..arigato, baa-chan," Naruto eventually whispered out.
It was turning into a truly tender moment, until there was a knocking at the door.
"Tsunade-sama, Yuuhi Kurenai's team 8 is here to see you," the secretary said through the door.
"Just a minute," Tsunade replied, before turning to Naruto. "Well, what do you want to do? I can try to stall for you, but I won't be able to lie to them forever."
"No, they deserve to know. I don't want to lie to them. They deserve the truth."
"All of it? Are you sure?"
"Might as well. There's no point in hiding it anymore."
"Alright," she said, before turning to the door, "Send them in."
When team 8 entered the Hokage's office, they were very much surprised by what they found there, though each of them were surprised for different reasons.
For Kiba and Akamaru, it was the presence of the large fox sitting on the floor next to Jiraiya. For Shino, it was the presence of Jiraiya himself, and to Hinata it was a mix of both of those, and the lack of something else. She knew that Naruto had left with Jiraiya over two and a half years ago, and knew that seeing Jiraiya meant that Naruto was back.
Tsunade looked at the three chunin before her. "Where's Kurenai?" she asked.
"Kurenai-sensei was not feeling well this morning, and has not for the past few days," Shino replied. "She also expressed to us her belief that we are more than capable of completing any assigned mission without her presence if need be."
Based on the fact that Shino had answered, Tsunade assumed he was currently acting as team leader. She also noticed Kiba, Akamaru, and Hinata all looking at the fox in her office, though they had different expressions while doing so. Kiba and Akamaru looked a little on edge, and were eying the fox carefully, even though its eyes were closed, as if it might attack them at any moment.
Hinata, on the other hand, only had curiosity on her features. She knew that anyone, or anything, for that matter, that was allowed this close to the Hokage wasn't considered a threat, so she wasn't afraid of it.
'Still, that crystal hanging under the forehead protector looks familiar…it reminds me of-'
At that moment, the fox opened its eyes, and looked at the three chunin in the office. All was silent for a moment, until they all heard a voice.
Every head in the room turned to look at Hinata, for she was the one who had spoken. They all realized that she had locked gazes with the fox, and was starting to walk towards it.
When Naruto heard Tsunade call for team 8 to come in, he moved a little farther away from the door, and closed his eyes. He listened to her ask where Kurenai was, and heard Shino's answer. While the insect-nin was speaking, he could feel their eyes on him, but it didn't feel as bad as he thought it would. Kiba and Akamaru were eyeing him warily, though he didn't think they would attack him, and Hinata was looking at him with curiosity, while Shino's gaze was indifferent.
Well, they all were until he looked at them, and heard Hinata speak his name. He honestly had no idea how she realized it was him, as he looked absolutely nothing like when he had last seen her. He also understood, somehow, that she was more stating his name than asking it.
He looked away from her again as she approached him, and didn't look back until she was kneeling right in front of him, with her teammates still staring from behind her.
"Naruto-kun?" she asked again, her voice barely audible to those in the room.
"Hai," he whispered out, and after a moment or silence, was once again wrapped in a hug, this time by the young Hyuuga.
"Th-that's Naruto? What the hell happened to him?" Kiba asked, barely able to believe what his eyes and nose were telling him.
"Yes, that is Naruto. He encountered some…complications…..while he was on his trip, and this is the result."
"What's going to happen to him, Hokage-sama?" Shino asked.
"I… I don't know, Shino," she replied, sighing. "Due to circumstances which I cannot reveal to you at this time…"
"Baa-chan," Naruto interrupted, "It's ok. Tell them. I want them to know.
The conversation following that statement from Naruto was a real eye-opener for team 8, especially Hinata. She had been aware of Naruto's treatment in the village for a long time, and now she knew the reason why. She also couldn't believe the short-sightedness of the civilians in the village.
As the conversation wound down, the question of where Naruto would stay came up, and Shino and Kiba were both hesitant to offer him a place to stay, as they were not sure how their clans would take to the Naruto-fox.
"I…..I'll take him, Hokage-sama," Hinata whispered out.
"Hinata, while I respect your attachment to Naruto, I do not believe that your father will allow you to house him amongst your clan."
Hinata just kept staring at Naruto. "Then I will not take him to the clan, Shino-kun. I will stay with Naruto-kun even if I must do it in a tent on one of the training grounds."
All of them were stunned by the tone of Hinata's declaration, as none of them were expecting her to be so determined about it.
"Alright. If Naruto is ok with it then I will entrust his care to you. Naruto?"
Naruto was still trying to recover from the shock that had hit him after hearing Hinata say that she wanted to take care of him, but eventually managed to say that he was fine with it.
"Why though?" the fox asked. "Why would you go against your father like that? Why over me?"
Those in the room who knew of Hinata's crush/love of Naruto all looked at her after Naruto asked his questions, unsure of how she would answer.
"Do you remember, back in the academy, when you would feel like you were being watched outside of class?" she whispered out instead. Still, everyone in the room was able to hear her.
Naruto turned his face away from everyone, as those weren't times he was very fond of remembering. "Y-yeah, I remember. Nobody liked me back then," he said quietly, the sadness readily apparent in his voice. "Everyone ignored me, and glared at me, thinking I was the Kyuubi."
"Not everyone, Naruto-kun. I watched you back then as well, though I don't think you ever realized it. I was careful to keep myself hidden from you."
Naruto looked back at her, "Why?"
"You are everything I'm not. You are loud, confident, powerful, and you believe in yourself. You always have. I used to be none of those things. I was shy, timid, and hesitant. My father used to call me a failure, an incompetent. I had no self-confidence.
But you, you had all of those things that I lacked. You-"
Naruto cut her off, tears beginning to well up in his eyes. "I was none of those things back then. What you saw was a front that I put up to hide the broken child that I was."
Hinata in turn cut him off again, leaving the rest of those present speechless. "I know you don't think so. Still, if you had not had those traits, would you have gotten back up every time you were pushed down? No, if you had not believed in yourself, then you would have given up long ago."
"You still haven't told me why yet though," Naruto asked, trying to turn the conversation away from his troubled childhood.
"You were always there for me in the past, whether you knew it or not. You cheered for me when I faced Neji, and you helped restore the minute amount of self-confidence I had before the Chunin Exam finals. You have helped me many times, please allow me to return the favor, and help you."
Naruto looked like he wanted to say something else, but the looks he was getting from Kiba, Akamaru, and Shino convinced him that it wasn't a wise course of action to do so. Still, he knew there was something else going on, and vowed to himself that he would get to the bottom of it at some point in the future.
"Alright, Hinata-chan, I'll go with you."
Hinata just hugged him again, though this time her face was closer to his left shoulder. "Thank you, Naruto-kun," she whispered back, though it was muffled slightly by his fur.
Having gotten Naruto to agree to stay with Hinata, Tsunade paged one of her secretaries to summon Hinata's father, and then prepared to run damage control for when he actually showed up.
Hyuuga Hiashi was a very stoic person. He possessed much patience, as well as iron control over his emotions. After all, he was the Head of the Hyuuga.
Still, he couldn't help but feel flustered when he received summons to the Hokage herself. It wasn't often that a clan head was summoned to her, and when it did happen it usually meant that a member of their clan had gotten in trouble for something.
It was surprising to him how quickly his child's weakness had gotten her in hot water this time. She had not left the compound more than two hours previous, yet here he was, entering the Hokage tower, to sort out whatever mess she had shamed herself with.
Upon entering the Hokage's office, he was quite surprised to find his weak daughter's teammates present, as well as Jiraiya of the Sannin, and- was that a fox next to his daughter?
"Daughter, step away from that animal. It is not safe," Hiashi told her.
Kiba and Akamaru just glared at the clan head, while Hinata, who had moved to stand next to Naruto while waiting for her father to show up, replied with, "I'm sorry, father, but I am unable to do so."
Hiashi just glared at his eldest offspring. "I am your father and your clan head. When I give you an order I expect you to follow it. Get over here. Now."
"She will do no such thing," Tsunade interrupted. "You will do well to remember, Hiashi, that both you and your daughter are ninjas under my command, and as such any order I give takes precedence over one of yours.
Now then, your daughter has been selected to host the representative for a possible new summon contract for the village. The representative will be here for an indeterminate amount of time, and requires lodging in the meantime."
Having not yet made the connection between the fox and the aforementioned summons, Hiashi asked, "Where is this representative?"
Tsunade motioned to the fox in her office, and Hiashi just sneered at it. "Konoha is in no need of such a summons, and even if it were, my eldest child is far too weak to be worthy of the honor of playing host to one."
"Since when do you have the right to dictate the policy of this village, Hiashi?" Tsunade bit out, while glaring at the clan head before her. "Last time I checked, I was the leader of this village, and I have decided that we do in fact need such a summons in this village. Also, I have personally selected your daughter to be the host, and the Kitsune Summon representative here does not object to my choice. Do you understand?"
Hiashi glared at his daughter, and the fox she was standing next to, making no effort to hide his hatred of both, "Then I regret to inform you that I cannot allow my daughter to offer the Hyuuga compound as lodging. Due to our past history with various kitsune, I would not be able to guarantee their safety."
Despite the fact that Hiashi was acting smug about his response, Tsunade had another plan all set and ready to be used in the event of this very thing taking place. "That will not be of consequence, as I had realized this already, and have planned accordingly. Hinata will play host, at an alternative location of my choosing. This is the mission I have assigned her, and due to its nature it is of indeterminate duration. You will be notified upon its completion."
Knowing that her tone indicated dismissal, an inwardly outraged Hiashi glanced briefly at his daughter, before storming out of the office. Well, storming for a Hyuuga anyway. To any outside observer Hiashi looked mildly irritated.
Still, Hinata had caught the glance he sent her way, and it promised much pain and suffering upon her return to the compound, something which she was definitely not looking forward to.
As soon as the door had closed behind Hiashi, Tsunade hung her head and began to massage her temples, exclaiming, "Ugh, I hate him."
Unfortunately, the only person to hear her was Jiraiya, as the rest of them were listening to Kiba's thoughts on the clan head.
"No offence Hinata, but your father is an asshole. He has no right to treat you like that."
Shino also decided to add his input. "While I do not agree with the language of our teammate, I also feel that your father's actions were out of line."
Hinata didn't respond, being too wrapped up in the fact that her father had called her weak, again, and this time in front of not only her teammates, but also in front of Naruto, Jiraiya, and the Hokage. The overly mortified chunin just collapsed to her knees, unable to support herself any longer.
She was brought out of her self-pity when something wet touched the side of her face, causing her to look up, right into Naruto's eyes.
"I still don't know why you have agreed to help me, but I thank you for it. Hey," he called out when she looked away, trying to keep her looking at him, "I don't care what you father said, it takes guts to stand up to Neji like you did. It may not matter much to you, but I think you're strong."
Much to Naruto's surprise, Hinata threw her arms around Naruto again, this time crying openly. "Th-that means a-a lot, Naruto-kun. Th-thank you."
After giving the distraught chunin a few moments to regain her composure, Tsunade moved on. "Alright. Naruto, how long do you think it will take for your chakra to stabilize?"
"At the rate it feels like it's going, I'd guess about a week, maybe more, I'm not really sure."
"Let me know what you find out, ok?"
Naruto nodded, and then added, "Were you serious about the whole summon thing? I'm not really sure if I'm allowed to do that. Most of the kitsune I've met don't like me, since they blame me for Kyuubi being gone for so long."
"Well, I hadn't really thought about it. I just needed a reason to give to Hiashi, and that was the first plausible one I came up with," Tsunade replied sheepishly.
"I wouldn't mind becoming a summon, but I don't know if I'm allowed to, or if any of the other foxes would agree to it."
Tsunade nodded in acknowledgement of Naruto's statement, but didn't look up from rummaging around in her desk. After several minutes of digging through the files in said desk, she emerged with a map.
"Aha! I knew this was still in here somewhere. Anyway, since Hinata's father obviously doesn't want Naruto on his property, he and Hinata will have to stay somewhere else. Since Naruto's old apartment isn't a viable location either, I have selected this alternative," Tsunade said, while indicating to a point on the map.
"It's on the edge of one of the old abandoned training grounds, and nobody really goes out there anymore. It's far enough away to be private, but still within a reasonable distance of the rest of the village."
"Hey, I know where that is," Naruto added, "It's where I learned kage bunshin. I also became a gennin there."
"That's good, now I don't have to have someone escort you both out there. Anyway, I want you and Hinata to go out to the cabin there and relax until your chakra stabilizes. Once that happens, I want you to figure out what it is that you can and can't do. Until then, you're both on leave."
Turning then to Hinata's teammates, she said, "What the two of you do in the meantime is up to you and Kurenai. If she feels that you can keep doing missions without Hinata, then go for it. If not, that's fine too. If you want to help Naruto once his chakra settles down, go right ahead."
Turning back to Naruto, she added, "I'm going to start telling your friends a basic version of what happened. I'm not sure exactly which details I'll give them, but it won't be all of them. I'm not going to tell them where I'm sending you either. Not until you know what you can still do, at any rate.
Also, I have no idea what that cabin has inside of it, so be prepared for anything. Hell, I don't even remember why it's there." She then handed Hinata a voucher. "I'm putting this on the books as a high-B training mission, so feel free to get whatever you think you need. Just show whoever you're buying from that voucher and they'll charge it to the village.
"Arigato, Hokage-sama," Hinata replied, before Tsunade turned to Shino and Kiba.
"I'm sure that I don't have to tell either of you, but don't tell anybody where Naruto is. He isn't ready to face the village yet, and he's not going to until I decide that he's ready. Understand?" getting nods from both of them, she continued. "Alright, one last thing. Kiba, I need you to go find Kakashi. Shino, go find Asuma. Tell them both that I need to speak with them as soon as they are able to get here. Hinata, Naruto, I am expecting you both to get to that cabin without being found. It's not of ultra importance, but it will make everything easier that way. Any other questions? No? alright then, dismissed."
Once Kakashi and Asuma arrived in the Hokage's office, she got right down to business, laying out Naruto's situation.
"Uh, Tsunade-sama, I'm not really sure how much help I'll be here. I did sign the monkey contract, but I've never really used them for anything."
"That's fine, Asuma, you still have more knowledge than others. The four of us are the most experienced with animal summons that I know of, and anything you can add, even if it's second-hand information, will be immensely helpful."
"Maa, might I suggest inviting Gai? He's contracted with the turtles."
"That's fine. Get him up to speed, and then talk to your summons, see if you can find out anything. Hell, ask Anko if she has any ideas. If you think of anyone else, ask them. just make sure to impress upon them to be discreet about it. We don't need the whole village knowing about it.
Naruto and Hinata's trip to the abandoned cabin was filled with a somewhat awkward silence, as neither really knew what to say to the other, and they were also slightly depressed. The fact that they were taking the long way there through the other training grounds didn't really help either, as there wasn't anything going on in the background to distract them from the uneasy silence they were traveling in.
The silence continued until they reached the cabin, with Naruto slightly in front of Hinata the whole way there.
"So this is where you learned kage bunshin?" Hinata asked, breaking the silence finally.
Naruto just nodded, and then said, "Mizuki convinced me to steal the Forbidden Scroll of Seals after I failed the genin exam, and told me about this place. He told me that if I could learn one technique from the scroll, I would pass, as if it was some kind of make-up exam. Anyway, I took the scroll, came here, and learned kage bunshin. Iruka-sensei found me right after I finished, and them Mizuki showed up right after him, and tried to kill us. I used kage bunshin to beat him, and Iruka-sensei gave me his forehead protector, promoting me to genin.
I also found out about the Kyuubi here, that same night. Mizuki told me about it, with the intent to kill me while I tried to come to grips with it, I guess."
"Mizuki did that? I never knew…." Hinata replied softly, as she opened the door to the small cabin. Glancing around inside, she immediately noted that it had three rooms, most likely a bedroom, a bathroom, and main room that combined the kitchen and seating area. Quickly activating her byakugan, she confirmed the layout of the building, as well as the fact that the cabin did not have electricity, but it did have running water. It was also very dirty.
"Well, home sweet home, I guess." Naruto said as he walked in, though Hinata could tell he was less than impressed.
Hinata just walked over to a window and opened it, allowing the sounds of the forest to enter the cabin, as well as some much-needed fresh air.
Naruto of course started sneezing as the dust picked up, which made Hinata laugh at the fox, as he started trying to glare at her between his sneezes. That just made Hinata laugh harder.
"Go wait outside, Naruto-kun," she asked the fox, once he stopped sneezing. "I'll let you back in once the dust is gone."
Naruto nodded, and went back outside to find a comfortable spot to take a nap.
AN: well, what do you think? this story came to me when i started thinking about all the times that naruto does something really dangerous with really bad consequences if he fails, but he always manages to pull through. well, this time he didnt.
also, i realize that it kind of just cuts off, and leaves you hanging, but that's because it isnt done yet. i do intend to finish it, though im not sure when it will happen. this is also my first time writing kiba and shino, so tell me what you think of them.