The early morning light was bright as he moved around the shop. The many bottles behind him shined with various shades and colours as the light struck them, creating a varied spectrum of colours that boggled the mind and made many people wonder about how he ever managed to know what each and every one of them contained.
He held up a glass, within the glass lay something strapped, sweating light. The liquid it contained swilled around lethargically in the faint sunlight under his gaze, the glinting surface throwing highlights onto his face like veins of quick gold.
He drained the glass the studied it as the alcohol made its way down his throat, making it tingle, then the after taste kicked in, spreading warmth throughout his body as the spicy aftertaste lingered in his mouth as he turned the glass over in his hands, examining the roughness of the ground areas and the slickness of the unetched parts. He held it up to the sunlight and smiled to himself while setting it back down on the bar.
He ran his hand along the smooth mahogany wood of his new bar, polished to a smooth finish it also shined in the orange light of the early morning. He looked up to see the windows, still with shutters closed, blocking out the rest of the light from coming into his store, he breathed in the calming smell of the forest and the chill of the morning air.
The forest that surrounded Konoha was always quiet at this time of the morning. It was like some strange transition, with the nocturnal animals returning to their various dens and nests to sleep the day away, while the rest of the forest still lay half asleep in their own beds. The town always seemed quietist at this time of the morning and he loved it, the silence gave him a measure of calm and tranquillity.
He was brought from his musings when his door opened and someone stepped in
"Good morning Naruto-san" the girl said as she smiled and walked over to him
"Ah Tenten-san, good morning" he responded.
Tenten was the adopted daughter of the man who owned the shop next to him. Naruto would willingly admit that having his store next to a weapons store and a food store next by was probably a bit strange, but honestly it had been cheap and he had needed a place to set up shop before the summer really hit and people began to really move about again. She had her hair up in two distinctive buns that made her easy to spot from quite a distance. She was dressed in her usual clothes of a pink sleeveless blouse and dark green pants that clung slightly to her slender legs.
"Is it ready then?" she asked with a smile and he sighed, leaning back on the counter
"Just about" he told her and she nodded
"You open now then?" she asked, her eyes sparkling and he laughed
"Not quite yet Tenten-san, you know it'll be open tonight. So come back then and I'll give you something good" he told her and she grinned up at him
"Promise?" she said and he smiled again
"Of course I promise. Just don't expect this all the time" he warned her and she nodded
"Still I'm surprised you managed it all so quickly" she said as she looked around the store, it felt warm with the orange light bathing it all.
"So am I, however I'm also surprised that you're so eager to become an alcoholic" he said with a soft smile and she wacked him lightly
"It's not that" she huffed "is just that…" she trailed off and Naruto put a comforting hand on her shoulder
"I know Tenten-chan" he said softly "you don't need to explain it to me" he told her and she smiled gratefully up at him before he turned away and finished looking over the rest of his store, nodding in satisfaction
"You okay?" she asked him and he nodded once again
"I'll be even better once business gets underway, but I'll see how that goes tonight" he said and she tilted her head
"You've been handing out samples and the like haven't you?" she asked and Naruto nodded
"Though I had other people do it, they know it's by me but I didn't give it to them, don't want to scare them off after all" he said with a small smile and she hugged him before walking off, shouting her farewell over her shoulder as she exited the store, obviously going to help her father with setting up his own store before the early morning rush occurred and ninja's from every corner of the town arrived on the scene to prepare for whatever new mission they had been given by the authority that was the Hokage.
The late afternoon light one again bathed his store as he put the last of the polished glasses into the cabinet behind him with a small clink of glass upon glass. He sighed to himself as he looked around the store with a critical eye, making sure it all looked neat and tidy, especially after that brawl last night. There were two men who were highly unlikely to ever see the inside of his shop ever again, even if they begged on hands and knees.
He leaned back on his counter and sighed to himself, closing his eyes and leaning his head back onto to be brought out of it by the sound of his door opening. He looked to see Tenten walking over to his bar looking rather put out. He sighed to himself and walked behind the bar to pick up a glass and a bottle without even looking at what it was, popping the cork off and pouring some of the liquid into the polished glass, it was a faint honey colour and smelt of flowers on a spring morning.
"Team again?" he asked her while putting the drink in front of her. He knew that she did not often drink, but when she looked like that he usually gave her something light just to loosen her up a bit
"Yea" she nodded with a sullen look, gently picking up the glass, a small smile lit up her face as she sniffed the liquid inside of it
"Spring?" she asked and Naruto nodded
"Yep, made some this morning considering how good the weathers been thus far" he explained while putting the re-corked bottle in its place among the many bottles
"You still haven't named it yet then?" she asked and he shook his head.
It was a bad habit of his, to never name any of what he made. Not that it really mattered to him, he had quite the memory when it came to what bottle continued what and what it did, he did spend almost all his free time making them after all.
"You should think about expanding" she said to him in a soft tone, probably knowing what his response would already be
"You know I won't risk it, besides, the shops also part of the experience I want to provide. If I expand I'll lose that appeal and then it won't ever come back" he told her quite serious while leaning his arms on the counter, watching as Tenten sipped at her drink and sighed with eyes closed
"Good?" he asked and she nodded
"As always" she replied and Naruto simply nodded in return
"Well then, unless you want to be given a headache I suggest you leave before I open the place up" he said to her while patting her should gently and she sighed
"You can always come back after I've close up shop, you know I won't mind" Naruto told her while flipping the sign on his door and pulling both shutters up
"I know, but I think I need some sleep tonight" she said while stretching and he smiled at her
"That so?" he said lightly and she huffed
"Just because I'm a ninja doesn't mean I don't get tired" she said with a pout and he laughed
"I know that Ten-chan, I'm just saying that if it gets too much you can come here" he told her and she nodded
"Thanks Naruto-kun" she replied and he nodded as the first customers began to walk into the shop
"See you late then" he said, leaning forwards to lightly kiss her cheek
"Later" she replied with a smile, leaving her glass on the bar as she walked off, disappearing into the crowd of people that were walking into his store, chatting quietly to one another.
He picked up her glass and lightly tossed it into a wash basin under his bar, being careful not to break it as he turned to see who his first customers were.
Tonight was a 'ninja only' night, one of two that occurred throughout the week. Though his shop needed to pull a profit the same as anyone else he knew that there were very few obvious places that allowed for just ninjas to sit and drink without at least one civilian around them. He suspected it was because they got nervous having such powerful and dangerous person in their stores without a witness to back them up if something happened, and that certainly did not help ninjas relax if his experiences were anything to go by.
"Good evening" he said politely with a soft smile, his eyes quickly darting across them all as they moved past and sat down at their usual table. They were the jonin's of this town, or the well known ones at least. He knew that the graduating classes would be out tomorrow and as such they were all probably here to have that last taste of freedom before they became shackled to the runts, as they so often referred to the kids. Though it was more the men than the two women at the table, not that Anko was taking any student mind you. He nearly shuddered at that thought.
"Good evening" one of them said as they walked up to the bar. It was Anko and Kurenai, the only two he could really stand, Asuma and Kakashi had nearly been kicked out last week, only Kurenai had prevented him from doing it, but they were walking a fine line/
"Good evening ladies" he said with a charming smile "the same?" he asked as he opened the cabinet under his bar while Kurenai nodded
"How ya been Naru-kun?" Anko greeted him with a teasing smile and Naruto smiled back
"Hello Anko-chan" he said "I've got some of that stuff you like, Hearty Punch or Ale?" he asked and she grinned at him while looking thoughtful as he handed over the sake bottles to Kurenai
"Have a good evening" he said with a smile and Kurenai smiled warmly back before moving back over the group, Naruto did not miss the glare Asuma sent him as Kurenai sat back down next to him, Naruto just shot him a glare back, warning him. He turned away as usual.
"Still don't like them huh?" Anko asked him as she sat down in front of him and he sighed
"You know I don't" he told her "and what will it be?" he asked in his patient tone and she blinked
"Hearty Punch" she said and he smiled
"I thought you'd say that" he said while pulling out a glass that felt warm to the touch and was filled with a deep red liquid that smelt very aromatic of fruits with a hint of bitterness to it.
"Holiday stuff?" she asked with a grin as she sniffed it and grinned. It was not often, she had once told him, that she every found something, be it a drink, person or food, that she would or could take the time to enjoy, so he was glad that she enjoyed it so much.
We all need something to enjoy, he thought to himself as she took a gulp of it, gasping with wide eyes as she swallowed
"So strong" she nearly gasped and Naruto laughed lightly
"I did warn you last time" he said and she chuckled
"I never listen" she said and he sighed dramatically
"Oh how well I know that" he said and she laughed in reply
"Why do you let them in here if you don't like 'em?" Anko asked Naruto who blinked before shrugging
"Because they're paying customers, and Kurenai pleaded their cases" he told her as he pulled out several glasses and set them down in front of him
"Really? I'd just get rid of them" Anko said bluntly and Naruto chuckled at her annoyed expression
"Don't worry about it Anko-chan, you know you can stay here a while" he told her and she sighed while sipping on her drink. Naruto turned away to wave at a man, looking tired and grizzled, who had just walked in and retreated to one of the darker corners of his shop even though the lights were on.
The shop was designed in such a way that one side was brightly lit and warm while the other, while still warm, was darker and so gave those over there a bit more privacy.
"What happened?" he asked Anko while pulling out a bottle of his Bull Brandy, a viscous liquid that was rather strong and tasted slightly bitter with an aftertaste of something nutty, motioning to the man with a raised eyebrow the man nodded and made to get up but Naruto shook his head and walked over, handing it to him along with a glass
"Thanks" the man said with a rough voice and Naruto shook his head, the man handed him the money, Naruto split it and gave half back. The man looked at him strangely
"I know" Naruto said and the man's eyes widened before he smiled slightly and nodded
"Thank you Uzumaki-san" he said, bowing his head slightly and Naruto shook his head
"Take your time" he said and walked back to the bar to Anko who was looking at him strangely
"Anbu" he said and Anko blinked before looking over at the man again who seemed to be staring at the bottom of his glass as though the answers to all the world's problems lay at the bottom of that glass.
"Something like that"
"How'd you know?"
"I listen, and after seeing him a few times I knew he wasn't having the easiest time with it" he explained and Anko nodded in understanding while taking the final bit of her drink and holding out her hand for more, a pouting expression on her face making Naruto laugh slightly while taking her glass and refilling it
"You only get one" he reminded her and she huffed while handing him the money "thank you Anko-chan" he said with that soft smile and she looked away while sipping her drink, ignoring the table where her 'comrades' were gathered.
"I'm annoyed" she suddenly said
"I gathered that" Naruto responded, her tense posture had given her away.
"I' m still not allowed" she told him and he sighed while pulling up his own stool and sitting in front of her. The night was young so it would not get bust for a little while yet.
"Did you speak to him about it?" Naruto asked with a concerned expression on his face
"Yeah" she muttered and Naruto rubbed his face before sighing
"Are you sure it's what you want?" he asked and Anko paused before nodding
"I think it'll help" she explained and Naruto nodded to himself
"I see, if that's what you think then that's fine" he told her before sighing himself "don't rush it, you know how the council feel about people like you and me" he told her and she nodded, looking a bit upset. Naruto sighed and refilled her glass once again
"What should I do?" she muttered and Naruto hummed to himself in thought while keeping an eye on the door as it shifted and swung open and three men walked in, laughing to one another, the middle one appearing to be the youngest of them all, as they walked up to the bar
"Doomshine please" one of the men said and Naruto sighed while shaking his head and handing over a bottle while taking the money
"Do it outside please" he said, remembering the last time someone had been made to drink that almost a month ago now.
The three men walked back outside, not three minutes later retching could be heard along with a shout of 'disgusting' that made Naruto smile and chuckle to himself.
"That the stuff?" Anko asked him and he nodded
"Yep, something so rancid and sickness-inducing that the Anbu use it as a rite of passage" he said and Anko nodded before sighing again
"Don't worry about it, you have more respect than most people in Anbu at least" he told her while sitting back down
"But I want more" she told him seriously and he sighed before pinching her cheek, making her scrunch up her face and glare lightly at him
"We all want more, just take your time Anko-chan, there's no rush yet" he told her while removing his hand as she pouted and rubbed her cheek while glaring at him
"Don't do that again" she said with a threatening tone and he raised an eyebrow at her while taking hold of her glass "no" she shouted while grabbing onto it "I'll be good" she muttered, eyes pleading with him while she looked like a kicked puppy and Naruto snorted in amusement while letting go of her glass
"Yay" she said gleefully as she took another gulp of the strong liquid.
Naruto watched her for a few moments before looking up as Asuma and Kakashi approached the bar. He fought back the instinct to glare as they approached
"Sake" Asuma said as he and Kakashi reached the bar. Naruto saw Anko roll her eyes and turn away from them and Naruto had to agree with her sentiments
"Money" Naruto responded with an air of coolness about him that he specially reserved for customers like this. Both Kakashi and Asuma looked at him before putting the money on the counter. Naruto snatched it up and counted it before grunting and pulling out several bottles and putting them on the counter.
"Geez" Asuma muttered as he turned away and Naruto frowned at him
"Excuse me" he said, causing Asuma to turn around
"What?" he asked quite rudely and Naruto's frown deepened
"What exactly is your problem?" Naruto asked with a level tone and Asuma turned to him
"My problem? My problem is that you don't seem to respect any of us here, despite what we do..."
"Save the crap" Naruto interrupted him "I don't care that you're the Hokage's son, or that you were in the twelve ninja whatever, or your friend over there can copy things without working for it" he said coldly, causing the whole room to freeze and watch him and Azuma
"Wha...?" was as far as Asuma got before Naruto interrupted him again
"You earn respect douche bag, and I have no respect for those who demand it" Naruto told him levelly
"We keep you safe" Asuma said slowly, as though mocking Naruto, he took no notice
"So does every other ninja here. You think your special or something?" Naruto asked as though talking to a child
"Don't mock me" Asuma growled while glaring at Naruto intensely
"Get out" Naruto said as he felt the last vestiges of his patience snap
"What?" Asuma asked as though he did not quite understand
"Get out of my shop. I will not have someone like you in here" Naruto said calmly
"You can't just..."
"I can" Naruto interrupted him again "and if you resist I am well within my rights to throw you out of here with force. You have been nothing but disrespectful since you first came in here, Hatake-san as well, but Kurenai pleaded for you both so I let you stay" he told them bluntly "but it appears you don't learn. So, get the fuck out of my shop and don't even try setting foot in here again" Naruto said, voice low and eyes dark as he watched Asuma who was gritting his teeth in irritation.
Everyone held their breath and Naruto's hand edged to an object hidden under the bar just in case. Asuma snorted, spun around, and marched out of the shop without so much as a backward glance. The room seemed to relax again
"I apologise for that" Naruto said, bowing his head slightly "enjoy the rest of you evening" he said to everyone while sitting back down in front of Anko
"You were rather confident weren't you" Anko said as he did so and he looked at her
"If he had started anything then it would reflect badly on him, since he's military" Naruto explained "and also..." he trailed off and pointed over to where the Anbu member was sitting, a kunai just about hidden under the palm of his hand. It was obvious that he had been quite ready to take Asuma out if he had tried anything.
"Good to have friend huh?" Anko asked sarcastically
"Nope, just people who owe you favours" he replied with a light smirk as they continued to talk.
Eventually the time came for Naruto to close up shop. The Anbu member had already left, and at least several dozen people and passed through the doors since he had opened them. Kurenai and Anko's group left quietly, though Anko stayed behind, still not quite finished with her bottle of alcohol as she waved Kurenai off.
"That was an interesting night" Naruto muttered as he shut the door, put the shutters down, and flipped the sign around
"You could say that. I'm sure word will get around though" Anko said while smiling teasingly at Naruto who snorted
"I'm sure the civilians won't care; hell I'll probably get even more popular" he said and Anko agreed with him. After all, many ninjas were like Asuma and Kakashi, becoming rather arrogant once they felt they had proved their worth, never quite realising that people like Naruto existed, who did not care if you were gods son, until you proved yourself personally, then you were the same as everyone else in the world as far as he was concerned.
"Very true. Anyway I enjoyed the show" Anko said with a child-like grin and Naruto sighed while nudging the basin, wondering whether or not to bother washing it that night.
"It wasn't meant to be for spectators" he said as the door swung open. Anko turned around and opened her mouth, obviously to say something rather blunt and probably offensive
"...Oh it's just you" was all she said when she realised it was Tenten who folded her arms and huffed
"Well sorry about that" she said with a slight sneer and Naruto frowned when Anko went to say something back
"Stop it" he said and they both looked at him before Anko sighed
"Sorry Naruto-kun" she said and Tenten nodded, muttering her own apology as she walked over and sat next to the purple haired jonin.
"You two need to chill out" he muttered while pouring Tenten her own drink
"You let her drink?" Anko said in mock surprise and Tenten glared at her while Naruto sighed and decided to get on with washing up, as sitting listening to the two of them bicker was not his idea of fun.
"You let her stay here? Isn't she usually drunk by this point?" Tenten's voice said, neither of them apparently realising that Naruto was no longer in front of them.
"At least I can actually hold my liquor" Anko said
"At least I'm sober half the time"
"At least I'm not a virgin"
"...That was low" Tenten growled, Naruto felt inclined to agree
"So what if I am? At least I'm not a..."
"Stop!" Naruto nearly shouted from where he was, interrupting Tenten who was about to say something that would of probably led to bloodshed.
"Sorry" the two girls muttered and Naruto sighed as he came back round the bar, drying his hands with a cloth that he stuck on the counter before sitting in front of the girl's again.
"So, who wants to tell me their sob story first?" he asked overdramatically and Anko smiled while rolled her eyes and Tenten giggled at him
"Not me" Anko said while standing up, swaying a bit "I need to get to bed" she muttered
"IT?" Naruto asked and she nodded with a grin that made Tenten shiver
"See ya Naruto-kun, Tenten-chan" she called out as she left through the front door
"I'll never understand you two" Naruto said as he refilled Tenten's cup. Tenten just blinked at him
"What?" she asked, sounding a bit confused
"About how you two can be going for each other's throats one moment and then acting like best friends the next" he said as he put the various bottles and washed glasses away.
"That's just how we are" Tenten said, Naruto got the impression that she was shrugging.
"Yeah well, I'm just glad you two don't go at it when customers are here" he said and Tenten looked at him
"Aren't we customers as well?" Tenten asked with a curious expression
"Cute. Anyway, yeah you are, but neither of you seem to pay me very often" Naruto said, ignoring Tenten's blush at his compliment
"You know I would if I could" she huffed and he nodded sarcastically
"Sure" he said and she pouted, looking annoyed
"Whatever, I've gotta go as well" she sighed
"Mission or training?" he asked
"Training again" she said, looking rather upset at the prospect
"Cheer up" he said with a smile "I'll be here tomorrow as well" he said and she sighed before smiling at him
"Thanks Naruto-kun" she said and he waved her off as she left his shop, leaving him to clear up the last of the mess.
The next morning Naruto was awoken by light on his face. He stretched, feeling several joints pop, before climbing out of bed and deciding to get on with his day.
After dressing himself in his usual clothes he headed down into his basement after making sure the ground floor was clean, and nothing had happened during the night. As he had discovered, people were not above breaking into his shop in order to try and steal a bottle of what he produced, though often it was other bars and clubs that wanted the concoctions, presumably to boast their own sales and pull customers away from Naruto's store. He counted himself lucky that he was a very light sleeper in that respect.
He descended down into the basement and took a quick look at his various stocks of ingredients, ranging from spices to grape to plant extracts and actual plants. Once that was done he began to process of brewing another few bottles of some of his finer beverages, such as the ones Anko and Tenten had taken the night before. He swore that he was too soft sometimes, after all such drinks were not cheap to produce, either money or time wise.
The basement itself was bone dry; all the better for making sure nothing went wrong with brewing. It was large, almost the size of the entire ground floor above his head and on one side was filled with shelves while another held various bottles with various liquids sitting inside of them, still fermenting quietly away. Otherwise it was virtually empty, no papers anywhere to record what his recipes were or when or how he had discovered them.
It often surprised people when he told them that no records existed of any of his recipes, he had them all stored in the safest place of all, his head. Though some had labels with small notes on them even those were only known to Naruto as he often wrote them in code, depending on how well he felt the drink would sell, and he usually had a good sense of that. Hence why he stoked so much of certain drinks, although others simply required ingredients that were far too rare to simply be brought on a whim. Those drinks were usually worth a damn sight more than the others and so were locked away in his 'private reserves'.
Once his usual checks were finally done he moved back up stairs, locking the solid oak door behind him, and walked out the front door, quietly closing the door behind him and locking it before walking along the nearly deserted path towards a small flower shop that was quite well known for its size.
"Ah good morning Uzumaki-san" the owner greeted him as he stepped in, green eyes watching Naruto as he leant on the counter
"Good morning Yamanaka-san" Naruto replied
"Here for the usual?" Inoichi asked and Naruto nodded
"Gave the last few bottles away last night" he said with a sigh as Inoichi grabbed a few bags from behind him and put them in front of Naruto
"Gave them away?" Inoichi asked as though the very phase confused him and Naruto chuckled
"Just because you don't get any doesn't mean others don't" he explained and the man chuckled
"I don't drink that much anyway" he admitted while rubbing his chin, looking a bit distracted
"I think that's more to do with your wife" Naruto said and Inoichi chuckled a bit
"Probably" he admitted before smiling "oh, you know my daughter passed her test yesterday?" he said with a proud twinkle in his eyes and Naruto smiled at him, still leaning on the counter
"Really?" he asked, deciding to play along if only to kill time, not that it really bothered him
"Yeah, we're so proud" Inoichi said with a grin and Naruto chuckled while shaking his head
"She with those two then?" he asked and Inoichi nodded "hmm, from what you've told me she won't be bored" Naruto told the man who nodded
"Especially since Shikamaru is so like his father" Inoichi muttered to himself as footsteps rang throughout the house
"Morning Tou-san" a voice rang out as a blonde haired girl came through the back door, dressed in purple, and hugged Inoichi who hugged her back briefly
"Morning hime" he replied and she blushed
"Good morning" Naruto said with a smile, seeing her glare at her father while shifting uncomfortably
"You could have told me" she huffed. Inoichi wisely said nothing at the rebuttal and simply turned his attention back to Naruto
"This is her, say hello Ino-chan" Inoichi encouraged his daughter who straightened out her dress and turned to Naruto before bowing
"Good morning...um" she trailed off, not knowing his name and Naruto bowed back
"My name is Uzumaki Naruto, your father speaks highly of you" he said formally while smiling at Inoichi while Ino blushed once again
"Like what?" she asked a bit suspiciously and Naruto shrugged
"How proud he is of you" he said bluntly
"Oh" was all she could say while blushing, then "haven't I seen you before?" she asked and Naruto nodded
"Probably" he agreed while nodding slightly
"Uzumaki-san owns that small bar just down the road" Inoichi explained to Ino who blinked and looked at Naruto hard
"How old are you?" she asked seriously and Naruto chuckled
"Eighteen" he replied and her mouth dropped open
"No way" she muttered as Naruto continued quietly chuckling to himself
"I get that reaction a lot" he said
"But you're so...so..." she was at a loss for words
"Yes I look older" he said, finishing her sentence and she blushed
"Sorry" she muttered and he waved her off
"Don't worry about it"
"Are you a civilian then?"
"What's with all these questions?" he replied light-heartedly "yes I am" he told her while her father looked on, appearing a bit apologetic
"But you're so strong" she muttered before blushing again
"Thank you Ino-chan" he teased her and she huffed
"Don't call be that" she muttered and Naruto laughed again
"Well as much as I'd like to stand here teasing you I've got to get back" he said while taking the sacks and handing over his money "thanks again Yamanaka-san" he said and Inoichi shook his head
"Please don't worry about it" he said and Naruto left the shop, waving to Ino who seemed to be thinking about something rather deeply.
That night Naruto was surprised by the how quiet his store was. Usually within a few minutes of opening people virtually flooded in, especially when he opened to the civilian population. However tonight appeared to be some kind of exception and Naruto found himself leaning on his counter while sighing softly to himself, pouring himself a shot of Bourbon, a soothing herbal brew with a hint of citrus and berry flavours, one of his more potent drinks, despite the apparently innocent taste.
"You sure this is the place?" a muffled voice suddenly said from outside the door and Naruto raised an eyebrow, wondering who was outside his store, moreover, why they were not coming in.
"Yes I'm sure" he heard Ino's voice an sighed to himself, realising that she had probably got the idea in her head to celebrate like an adult now that she and her classmates were technically adults in the eyes of law. Sometimes having a good reputation among ninjas was difficult, especially if it happened to attract the wrong sort of attention.
"Just go in pig" someone snorted and Ino's annoyance could almost be felt through the door as she twisted the handle and walked in, looking more confident than she actually was
"Good evening Ino-san" Naruto called out to her as more people followed her. He realised that many of them were clan heads, not just that, but the last Uchiha was with them as well, looking disinterestedly around his store, as though the whole world was something beneath him. Naruto shook his head and turned his attention back to Ino
"Hello Naruto-san" she returned his greeting, standing in front of the counter while her 'friend's' all sat as a group around one of the larger tables in his shop
"What'll you be having?" he asked her while motioning behind him "though I'll warn you, my stuff isn't the cheapest in the world" he told her seriously and she nodded while passing over a number of bills
"Just sake for now then" she said and Naruto nodded, counting the money quickly while passing over the bottles and dishes
"Be careful" he warned her "I don't want to have to take you, any of you, home because you all had a bit too much" he told her and she smiled at him
"Don't worry Naruto-san" she said and walked off with a confident smile that made Naruto frown, he decided to keep an eye on the lot of them just in case they really did do something stupid. After all, the last thing he needed was the various clans, and the civilian council, breathing down his neck because of some stupid kids.
The door opened again as the kids began to drink and Tenten walked in. Cutting the group a glance she pulled up a stool and sighed as she collapsed on the counter. Naruto smiled
"What's the matter?" he asked "drink?" he said after a pause and she nodded while holding up two fingers to signal 'a bit'
"Teammates" she muttered under her breath and Naruto sighed
"Take a break if you're getting that annoyed with them and their fighting" he told her bluntly and she chuckled dryly as he tried to select a drink for her
"I wish I could" she muttered
"Want me to talk to Gai-san?" Naruto asked and Tenten blinked before shaking her head
"It's no use. That man doesn't know the meaning of 'overkill'" she said and Naruto hummed, agreeing with her as he finally selected her a decent drink.
"Well hopefully this'll make you feel better" he said while pouring some of it into a polished glass
"What is it?" Tenten asked, looking at the liquid inside, sniffing it timidly an blinking at how strong it seemed
"Bourbon" Naruto explained a Tenten nodded absently before sipping it, blinking at its strength
"It's a bit strong" she muttered
"Wait for it" Naruto said with a soft smile as Tenten blinked once again
"Sweet" she said, sounding surprised and Naruto nodded
"Took me a while to get it right, but I think it's good"
"How old?" Tenten asked and Naruto shook his head
"It doesn't matter" he told her, meaning she would not understand the difference making her huff before she continued sipping at her drink, sighing as her muscles began to relax slightly
"What's with them?" she asked Naruto while motioning to the group gathered, chatting rather loudly, not that Naruto minded all the much.
"Graduates" he told her and she hummed to herself
"Wonder if I used to be that noisy?" she muttered to herself
"I don't think you were. Then again you always were quite mature" Naruto said and Tenten blushed slightly.
"You let them in here?" she then asked and Naruto sighed
"Don't really have much of a choice; the only thing is I need to keep an eye on them"
"Why?" Tenten asked while looking back at them again
"Their mostly clan members, or heirs to clans" he told her and she nodded in understanding as they got even louder still
"Their rather noisy" Tenten pointed out and Naruto frowned at them
"I know, but even I can't do much against a bunch of clan heirs and the last loyal Uchiha" he explained while sitting in front of her and she nodded again
"You don't like him do you?" she asked while finishing her glass and pushing some money onto the counter as Naruto poured her another glass
"Nope" he replied "as far as I'm concerned he'll never be able to match his brother" he said and Tenten looked at him
"Why's that? What with the council helping him an' all?" she asked and Naruto sighed while waving to several patrons that moved away from the larger group of young ninjas and sat on the other side of the room.
"He's arrogant. That is a critical weakness that'll kill him in the end, it's happened far too many times" Naruto told her as a young woman approached the bar. Naruto smiled charmingly and stood up, moving over to her
"What can I get you tonight?" he asked her as she smiled back and pointed to several bottles behind him
"Those please" she said and Naruto hummed while taking them down and handing them over along with several glasses, taking her money.
As none of his bottles were labelled it was sometimes a guessing game for the patrons as to what they would get with any of his drinks. Not to say any of them tasted bad, it was just that you were never sure what effects or taste you were going to get once you chose a drink.
The woman smiled at him again before walking back over to her companions while he sat in front of Tenten again
"What about the others?" Tenten asked, carrying on their conversation, Naruto hummed in thought for a moment
"Most of them are alright, but ones like Sasuke and Kiba get on my nerves" he told her
"What about Neji-san?"
"Him as well, though I suspect he has his reasons for being like that" Naruto replied as he turned to the group, frowning to himself, they were getting a bit too boisterous for his liking and he stood up "be back in a moment" he told Tenten before walking off to deal with them.
"Excuse me" he said in a level but firm tone, most of the tables occupants ignored him and he frowned to himself before moving directly into their line of sight
"What?" Kiba, the Inuzuka clan heir said loudly, getting everyone else's attention onto Naruto
"Stop" he said calmly "you are disturbing my other customers" he told them
"You're just a civilian" Kiba said dismissively and Naruto twitched
"I am also well within my rights to physically remove you from my shop. Should you resist and injure me I can take you to court" he told Kiba calmly, a challenging glint in his eye that made Kiba swallow softly
"Sorry" Shikamaru said with the same tone as Naruto as he looked around the group
"Good, sorry for the interruption" Naruto said before moving back to Tenten and sitting down
"Not afraid huh?" she said with a smile and Naruto grunted back
"I'll be glad to see them leave" he said before noticing Anko moving over to them "good evening Anko-chan" he said with a smile. She just huffed and sat down hard next to Tenten who, for once, did not say anything to the clearly annoyed woman.
"Stout" she said and Naruto hummed, pulling a bottle out of a cabinet underneath the counter marker 'PR' and pouring her a glass. She sniffed it and sighed
"You two are turning into alcoholics" he told them and the two women glared sharply at him, making him chuckle
"Bloody IT" Anko mumbled and Naruto sat back
"Didn't go well?" he asked and she shook her head
"Tough bastard" she muttered while Tenten obviously tried to move a little away from Anko. Naruto did have to admit that she was slightly intimidating when angry.
"What about your boss?" he asked and Anko shook her head again
"He wasn't in today, he was out getting some other poor sod to talk" she said before hitting her head on the counter "this is gonna kill me" she muttered and Naruto chuckled, patting her head as she pouted
"There there Anko-chan, I'm sure it'll be fine" he reassured her "after all, it's not like your boss sits under the councils thumb" he said and she sighed while nodding
"I know, but it still annoys me, I'm meant to be the best after all" she muttered before shooting a sharp glare at the genin's table
"Ignore them Anko" Naruto told her and she glared at him
"They're too noisy" she said bluntly and Naruto nodded
"I know but I can't throw them out and I don't want you to kill them" he said, sounding half-joking and half-serious
"But my head" shed whined while trying to look cute and Naruto rolled his eyes as he saw Ino and her pink haired 'friend' walking up to his counter
"What can I get you girls?" he asked as they arrived in front of him as he stood up
"...I don't know" the pink haired girl replied while looking at the bottles behind him and Naruto raised an eyebrow
"It's expensive" he told her and she nodded while showing him the money in her hand. He nodded and turned around, taking a moment before pulling a bottle from the wall and handing it over along with a few clean glasses
"There you go" he said while taking her money
"Can I have..." Ino started and Naruto shook his head
"You lot are far too noisy, I really just want you lot to leave" he told her bluntly as she gaped at him
"Your distracting my other customers. And Anko-chan here would want nothing more than to murder the lot of you, so please, just take the drink I gave your friend and not get too drunk" he told her and she huffed
"Tell him then" Naruto interrupted, shrugging his shoulders "I'm sure he'll be pleased to know that I stopped you all from getting too plastered" he told her and she pouted but it was clear she understood "anyway most of you have got meetings tomorrow right? Try doing it on a hangover" he said and she pulled a face
"...Fine" she eventually said and Naruto sighed
"I'm fine with you coming by yourself or in small groups, but you're too noisy, that's all" he said and she nodded while walking off as Naruto sat back down and sighed to himself
"You handled that well" Anko said and Naruto sighed again
"Not the best night" he sighed and Anko nodded in agreement
"So why are you here?" Anko then asked Tenten, sounding as though she was trying to pick a fight; Naruto just sat back and let them go at it, watching it grow increasingly heated as he frowned. They usually never went beyond words and tone, but it appeared that the days annoyances coupled with the alcohol in their systems was making them more hostile than usual
"Stop" he suddenly ordered them, causing them both to blink and turn to him, pissed off expressions still on their faces
"What?" Anko asked too sweetly and Naruto shot her a glance
"You two need to chill out alright?" he said and the two women glanced at each other, then Naruto, before taking a couple of deep breaths each
"Sorry Anko-san" Tenten said and Anko looked away before sighing
"Sorry Ten-chan" she replied and Naruto sighed
"I think you two need to take a brake every once in a while. And need to stop drinking" he told them, taking their bottles making them both pout at him, looking like a couple of kicked puppies
"Give it back" they then whined in unison, Naruto stopped himself from twitching at the creepiness of it all as he shook his head
"No way. Take what you've got and then go home and sleep" he told them firmly
"Yes dad" Anko muttered sullenly and Naruto lightly wacked her head
"Be good" he told her, playing along as she held her head
"Meanie!" she shouted, drawing some attention as Naruto laughed at her
"Sorry Anko-chan" he said while rubbing her head making her grin like a kid as Tenten laughed loudly at them.
"Well then, let's go" Anko said after a few minutes, her glass being empty an Naruto not willing to give either of them any more
"Goodnight Anko-chan" Naruto waved to her as she walked out, Tenten just stared at her glass
"You look like a thirty year old alcoholic" Naruto told her and she huffed at him, pouting again
"Not funny" she muttered as Naruto chuckled
"Well I thought it was" he said as the genin's finally left the store, much to everyone's relief as they all sighed
"You gonna let them in like that again?"
"Nope" Naruto replied seriously "anyway that Uchiha just seemed to suck all the life away from those around him" he told her and she chuckled to herself "I don't need something like that here, I could probably stick him in a corner and not be able to see him" he told her and she shook her head in amusement.
"I don't think he'd take to kindly to that" she told him and Naruto shrugged
"Doesn't matter none to me, the military council can't touch me and the civilian council are all patrons of this place so I like to think I can get away with a little more than most other people" he said and she sighed before finishing the last of her glass
"Goodnight Naruto-kun" she said with a smile as she walked away, leaving Naruto to sit and ponder to himself quietly, only to light sound of various conversations filling the air as finally more and more people began to pour into the shop, including Inoichi, who looked less than pleased
"Uzumaki-san" he greeted him as he walked up to the bar and Naruto looked over at him
"Good evening Yamanaka-san" he replied
"Was my daughter in here?" he asked and Naruto nodded
"She was. Along with all of the other graduates, save for the heiress of the Hyuga clan, which is understandable" he said, muttering the last part to himself as he thought of the head of the Hyuga clan and suppressed a shiver.
"And?" the man asked in a level tone, even as his eyes seemed to darken. Naruto blinked and smiled at him
"Don't worry Inoichi-san, I stopped them before they had too much" he told him and the man looked at him a while before finally nodding
"Alright then" he said before sighing and sitting on the stool he had been standing next to "something strong, it's been too long since I got a chance to drink" he said and Naruto nodded, quickly pulling out a bottle from his PR stash and putting it in front of the man
"This should be to your tastes" he said before pouring him a glass, smiling as he moved on to other customers.
Hey guys, here's another idea that was running around my head for a little while, hope you enjoyed it.
And if you want more please Read & Review, thank you.