Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto
The Fox Across the Lake
The first time she saw the creature was after another harsh day with her father.
The training session was harsh, it was not her sister who would usually be her sparring partner today, but her cousin; Neji. She never understood why he was always so cold to her, but when he was chosen as her partner she knew it would be anything but pleasant. She tried really hard not to show any type of weakness even when she came to her absolute limit and fought with all her might, unfortunately she got hit too hard on her side that she fell and didn't even try to get up. Her father, Hiashi, only shook his head in disapproval and shouted at her to get up. It took her quite a while for her to do so. By the time she stood up, he had said that it was time to stop for a lunch break. Instead of joining them, however, she decided that a walk around the village would do her some good. She knew her father thought little of her and she knew that her little sister and cousin were better than her in almost everything, she knew that they spoke of these things when she was not around and she knew that everything was true.
The child stared at the ground and winced with each inhale of breath she took. There would be a terrible large bruise there at the side of her chest later on if not sooner. As she roamed around aimlessly she watched the people go about their business; children talking about ninjas and adults speaking of rumors heard from others about those in missions. She passed by the gates soon and was surprised to see that there were no guards stationed around the area; there was no one around and it was as quiet as the still night. Not a single bird whistled their songs, the wind didn't stir and the silence was thick. Curiosity piqued inside her, but she was never one to leave the village without an escort. In fact she was supposed to have an escort whenever going outside her home. Taking a quick look beyond the gates she went on to go back the way she came or at least tried to. When she turned around, she saw a boy staring at the sky with a bitter expression on his face and a noticeable mark of whiskers on his cheeks standing a few feet away from her. He looked so angry that she feared he would be mean to her if she made the wrong move.
'I should just go the other way.' But it was impossible, he was right in her path and the fact that there were other routes didn't even cross her mind; the awkwardness of the situation clouded her thoughts. Bringing her arms close to her chest, she braced herself to approach him and hoped he wouldn't care to bother with her.
Her steps were soft, but they reached the boy's ears easily and he snapped his head in her direction, his eyes alert and glaring daggers at her. Hinata flinched and stared back at him. "Um..." Her voice was soft, but the moment it reached him there was a giant puff of smoke and from it darted a bright yellow fox no bigger than the puppy that Kiba had around him, yet it's body was a little longer and it's tail fluffier with a white tip at the end. It darted past her to disappear out the village. The sudden movement startled her, but what startled her the most was the flash of silver shooting by and the sound of a sharp cry piercing her ears.
"Damn, it got away..." A deep gruff voice said from above her atop a generously tall tree.
"Yeah, well it won't be the last time we see it. Least now, we know that it's the kid causing so much trouble." Another one answered, but it was softer compared to his companion.
"Fast little thing ain't it? Ya think it's the big one's cub?"
"Could be. No denying the coat." The two chunin jumped down to collect the slightly bloody kunai they had thrown at the fox and looked down at Hinata who looked at them cautiously. "You shouldn't be here, kid. The fox could've gotten you." The man with the soft voice, went down to her level and lightly pat her head.
"The fox? You mean the boy?"
"It wasn't a boy, it was a fox." The man chuckled and gently sent her off home. Hinata glanced down to see the small thin trail of blood leading past the gates and despite what the guards said, she couldn't help but feel sorry for the small fox. The little time she spent out only made her feel more lonely than ever, but the encounter with the strange boy lingered lightly on her mind throughout the walk back home. When she did get home, she wished she never left in the first place. Her father was there, staring down at her with a cold gaze.
"Where have you been?"
"I went out... for a short walk around the village." She tried to keep her eyes on him, but there was something forcing them to stay on the ground. His eyes narrowed at her words, but other than that turned away and called her in to resume their training. Luckily, Hanabi was there so it wouldn't be so painful.
Night had soon fallen and almost everyone in the village had gone to sleep except for those on guard or heading out for missions and Hinata. She was sitting in her room in the darkness with her shirt lifted toward the moonlight to see the damage she had endured from Neji. As she suspected, the bruise had gotten large and was a dark purple blotch. Despite it's appearance it really wasn't as bad as she thought. Sure it hurt, but there was nothing so serious about it, at least she hoped. A soft sigh escaped her as she let her shirt fall back into place and remained seated, her thoughts wondering through the events of earlier and the event with the strange fox. She wondered why the guards had chased him off if he was just a kid, er... cub. She didn't know why, but she felt concerned over its well being and wanted so badly to see if he was all right. The kunai did hit him. Making up her mind she quietly stood and walked over to the hall and entered the kitchen where she knew there was medicine in a cabinet somewhere. If there was one thing she knew, it was how to stay absolutely quiet. After finding the medicine she grabbed the nearby gauze and with added caution slipped out the front door, careful not to make a single sound.
The idea was reckless and something that her father would be furious about, no doubt, but there was a sudden excitement to it. She smiled at the thought that she would be able to help someone even if that someone was an odd colored fox. She grabbed a small bag, placing the items inside and packed a little food. Instead of going through the front gates, she had found a small gap not too far from her home that a group of kids had made and though she was not sure where it headed, she was sure that it was not far seeing as the others still go through it from time to time.
It was dark, but the moon, though not full, was enough for her to look ahead and memorize the path. She always thought the forest of trees and animals were frightening, but when looked at a different angle it was beautiful and calm, possibly a place of comfort even. The walk through the bushes and trees was soon cut short in a clearing where there lay a giant lake. The water was calm with the light of the moon caressing its surface, the picture would have been perfect were it not for the soft ripples of disturbance growing in size from the other side. Following it's path, Hinata found that the cause of the distortion was in fact the same yellow fox lapping up the water in large gulps. He didn't appear to notice her presence yet which would have given Hinata a chance to get closer, but there was no way for her to get through the water without getting wet. Looking back up she let out a sharp gasp at seeing the fox staring straight at her.
She crept closer to the water carefully and saw her reflection look back at her. The water was clean and cool to the touch making a shiver go through her small body, but now that she had come this far she couldn't back down. She knew that the fox boy had a wound and judging from the red staining his fur, it hasn't been taken care of.
"I guess it's now or never..." With an uneasy look she took off the pack and held it above her head. She threw her sandals off so as not to get them ruined and ventured further into the cool lake slowly. 'Father's not gonna be happy...' The mere thought was enough to banish the cold from her nerves as she gently began to swim across, a tiny hint of fear gnawing at her deep inside. The fox though tense, did not move from his spot and as she came closer she could see that his eyes were a beautiful bright blue. The water swished and swayed with her movements until she finally came to the edge and crawled out. The short time in the water had warmed her a little or at least made it tolerable, but now that she was exposed to the silent winds, the temperature dropped farther than when she had entered. A whimper escaped her and a pointed ear twitched in response.
She set the bag down and inspected the contents by laying them out in front of her. Thankfully everything was dry.
"Here..." She lowered her hand to the ground, palm up and tried to get him closer. A sharp growl broke the silence and yellow fur bristled all over the fox's body making his tail bushy. Hinata flinched, but didn't relent. "I just want to fix your wound... I brought some medicine so that it wouldn't hurt any more." She got the small container out and opened the lid to show him the ointment. The growling stopped and the creature crept a little closer to take a look before raising his head to look at her.
"Ma says not to take things from strangers. Especially from people in the village."
Hinata's eyes widened at the sound of his voice. "Y-you can talk?" The fox's eyes narrowed suspiciously.
"Yeah. So what?"
"Oh, no I didn't mean anything rude about it, I was just surprised."
The fox sat back with a confused expression, head cocked to one side, eyes wide and not a moment later a large puff of smoke burst from it. "Why would you want to help me anyway?" He asked, waving away the dust with one hand. The boy was back only with the ears and tail still intact, sitting right in front of her and waiting for an answer. None was given.
Hinata had lowered her head still thinking of the question. "Well... I saw the kunai hit you. So I..."
"Oh that." He picked up his white shirt with a spiral flame in the center to show the small gash that had marked the side of his stomach. "It's not that bad. It'll go away if I lick it." Hinata peeked at the wound and did not seem convinced. It was still bleeding and if nothing was done it could get infected.
"But that'll make it hurt more if you do that." The boy glanced at her and noticed her eyes trained at the painful scratch, a hand hovering just above his middle as if to touch it. As soon as Hinata realized how close she was she jumped back for adequate space. Just by looking in her eyes he could tell she was true to her words and by the faint smell coming from the container made from the healing herbs found deep in the forest, the same herbs his father would collect sometimes, proved her intentions.
"Hehe, you're a funny one! I've never met someone who was honestly worried about me!" He smiled wide at her. "Well, aside from ma and pa." He picked up his head and pretended to think for a moment. "Ok!" He smiled again and moved slightly to the side, his tail curling close to his thigh.
"Oh, y-you'll let me?" He nodded to her, his eyes completely closed.
Finally granted permission, she turned to face the materials she had. She was no medical ninja, far from it, but she did have basic knowlege on how to treat some injuries. She took a small rag and dipped it in the water, squeezed all the excess liquid and brought it close to the seeping wound. This was usually the hard part; cleaning it.
"Ow!" She flinched at his loud voice and instinctively looked across the lake to see if anyone in the village had heard. Obviously, there was no one in sight.
"Sorry!" She whispered and continued to clean off the blood. The bleeding had thankfully slowed. Placing down the now dirtied rag, she picked up the medicine and gently began to slather it on the cut. The boy flinched upon contact, a shiver flowing through him at the chill of the pain all the way down his spine to the tip of his tail. It was only a moment, but it was very unpleasant until she finally wrapped it up. "There."
Looking down he could see that everything was neatly done. "Thank you uhh..."
"Ah! I'm Hyuga Hinata." She bowed lightly.
With a puff of pride and a point of his thumb the boy introduced himself. "I'm Uzumaki Naruto!" He grinned, exposing a pair of small fangs and seemed to pounce on the girl when in fact he swiftly leaned forward to touch his nose to hers; it was faint and gentle akin to a feather. The act was sudden and fast that Hinata couldn't process what had happened. He was so close that she almost fell.
"W-what was that?" She stammered, a faint blush coming over her.
"It's to show that you're my friend! " The bright fluffy tail was wagging lightly as he spoke. "Pa always said that friends help each other, so that must mean we're friends!" He stretched his hand out to shake her hand. Hinata stared at it in confusion. Aside from the few adults, Hinata never actually had a true friend before. The sight of his small hand held out for her was one of promise that it made her smile. Tentively she brought out her own hand.
Their hands touched and Naruto was quick to close his around hers in a firm grip.
'I guess I'm not so useless now that I've helped a friend.'
A/N: A fic to my sis. A one-shot, but I'm starting to think it could be more... I'll give that a week's time for a response. Never made a Naruto fanfic, but well here it is. Hope some enjoyed.