Advertising by :


Saturday, February 28, 2009

Shadow of a Doubt

Author: muishiki

I don't own these characters.

Plus, people don't tend to like what I do in the Naruto universe anyway, so who cares?


How would Konoha's most surprising ninja learn the delicate art of sexual pleasure? Why, with a (shadow) friend, of course!

Shadow of a Doubt

"Does something seem off with him to you?"

"Off? Who? Where?" Sakura spun in her chair, trying to make out who Ino was pointed at with her chopsticks. She squinted. It was Naruto. He walked into Moritake's restaurant and took a booth in the back corner. Alone. Hmm. He never came into Moritake's. He looked a bit nervous, glancing around the restaurant, unable to relax.

Ino chewed thoughtfully on the end of her chopsticks. "I bet Hinata's happy he's back."

Sakura shrugged. "Probably. I wonder what he's doing here, though."

The question answered itself when Hinata came into the restaurant and made her way over to Naruto's table.

"A date?" Ino smirked at Sakura. "I was totally right."

"What do you mean?"

"Did you see the bounce in her step? She's totally into him."

"Well, duh. Everyone but Naruto knows that."

Ino put another piece of food in her mouth and ruminated for a bit before swallowing. "You think we should tell him?"

Sakura shook her head. "No. It isn't our business."

Ino let out a hmph and turned back to her meal. Sakura knew that sound. It meant Ino thought they should make it their business. Sakura ignored her.

Naruto flopped back onto his back with a satisfied grunt, spent and sweaty.

"That was much better than I thought it would be."

The girl next to him snorted and sat up slightly to rest on her elbows, doing nothing to cover her nakedness. "For you maybe." She looked down between her spread legs, feeling their combined fluids leaking out. "Oh man, that's so gross. I can't believe I let you talk me into this. I should just kill myself now so that I don't have to think about what you just did to me."

"Quit being such a drama queen." Narurto rolled over onto his side. "You talked me into it, not the other way around. Besides, you were just as enthusiastic about it a few minutes ago."

"Yeah, but now..." She waved briefly at her exposed body.

Naruto's own body twitched in response to the sight.

The girl arched an eyebrow at him as she watched his body respond to her nakedness. "You're kidding, right?"

He shook his head. She groaned and flopped back on the bed, covering her eyes with the palm of her hand. "Fine. Whatever... just... don't do that grunting thing, okay? It's really creepy."

"I don't grunt!"

"Yes you do. You make this ungg... ungg sound when you're close. It's really not cool."

"Whatever." Naruto grinned and rolled back onto his knees, ready and excited for round two. Except, it never happened as the door to his apartment shuddered from a solid blow to the latch. He was grateful he'd thought to reinforce the latch with steel plates years ago, but he could hear that the wooden frame had splintered.

He jumped out of bed and covered his exposed manhood with a pillow as he searched frantically for some clothing. Naruto turned to the woman occupying his bed and made desperate hand motions, willing her to understand that she needed to disappear post haste unless they both wanted to die. Unfortunately, she didn't act fast enough. Another kick landed, and the door to his apartment flew open, torn from its hinges as the stress proved too much for the frame. It crashed to the floor, the wind from its passage blowing some of his scattered clothing towards the bed still occupied by his lover. The thud from the door's landing echoed in the room. Naruto gulped as he looked up from the door into the furious eyes of Hinata Hyuuga. Her chakra formed a visible aura around her body, and her left leg was still extended in the snap front kick she'd used to knock down the door.

Her eyes didn't flicker back and forth between him and the very naked woman still lying on the bed behind. He could easily see the veins bulging around her eyes as she stalked into the room. He knew that with her enhance vision she probably could see all the gory details of what just occurred. His clothes were piled on the floor at the foot of the bed, haphazardly kicked off in the rush to join in the fun. The blond woman slowly got off the bed, warily regarding Hinata as the kunoichi stalked across the room towards Naruto.

"Wow," muttered the girl, "She's really pissed, isn't she?"

Naruto didn't even bother to answer, choosing to ignore the moronic comment from his partner in crime. Instead, using one hand to clutch the pillow covering his nakedness, he stepped in front of the blond girl and held up his free hand in a gesture of supplication.

"Hinata... This isn't what you think it is!"

The lavender haired kunoichi narrowed her eyes at him. "Then tell me what this is, Naruto." She crossed her arms and started tapping her foot, her chakra aura only growing larger, if possible. "Because to me, this looks like my boyfriend is having sex with some bimbo. If that's not the case, I'll be really relieved." She cracked her knuckles. "Otherwise, I might have to get mad."

He opened his mouth to answer, but was cut off as the girl him smacked him in the back of the head.

"Just tell the truth, you idiot."

Naruto turned to glare at her, but in this case she was right.

"Do you want to sit down?" Naruto pointed at the bed. It was still glistening with the fluids from the carnal acts that had taken place moments before.

Hinata glared even harder. "Are you kidding me?"

Naruto grinned sheepishly. "Right." He heard the girl muttering behind him, calling him all sorts of unmentionable names. "Do you mind if I get dressed, at least?"

"Oh, so you'll give her everything you've got but won't even show me?" The anger in her tone was apparent, but so was the hurt.

Naruto sighed. "Hinata-chan..."

"Don't you dare 'Hinata-chan' me, asshole!"

"We've only been dating for two weeks! Did you expect me to sleep with you that quickly?"

"YES!" She shouted.

Naruto looked at her in shock. The girl peered out from behind Naruto's back and looked at Hinata in shock. Hinata realized what she said, and her face immediately turned bright red as embarrassment warred with her anger.


Then the naked girl chimed in. "Oh man! It's dripping down my leg!"

Righteous fury reignited, embarrassment totally forgotten as she focused on the object of her anger. Then her eyes widened in shock.

Naruto held up a hand. "Will you let me explain?"

Hinata backed away from him in horror.

"Hinata..." He reached forward, trying to take her hand.

She batted his hand away and wrapped her left arm protectively around her right side as she clutched a long forgotten wound, her eyes still staring at the woman behind him. Confusion, anger, hurt, and betrayal were all apparent in her eyes. The veins around her eyes relaxed as she released her Bakyugan. "Naruto... You..." She choked up, turning away from him, her anger spent. She let out a sigh and her shoulders slumped forward, defeated. "How could you?" She didn't wait for his answer. She bolted out the door, leaving the two alone in the apartment.

Naruto turned around. "I can't believe I let you talk me into this. I knew it was a bad idea." Naruto scrubbed at his eyes.

The girl glared at him. "You're the one who talked me into it, idiot." She sat up fully. "Don't just stand there! Go after her!"

Naruto nodded and dropped the pillow, pulling on his clothing as fast as he could. "You should come too. She'll never believe me if I can't prove it."

The blond sighed. "Right. I'll get cleaned up and grab some clothes. I'll wait here until you can find her. No point running around until you know where she is."

"Good point. Hopefully, this won't take long." He didn't even bother to look back as he sped out the destroyed front door of his apartment, desperately seeking signs of his girlfriend.

Naruto sped through the streets of Konoha, stopping every thirty seconds or so to create a batch of shadow clones and sending them outwards in a ripple pattern. The clones spread out, searching the city for his girlfriend. It really didn't take him much time or thought to do it; the action was so natural it left him plenty of time to reflect on how he got into this mess in the first place.

The problem had been his overactive imagination. It was really useful most of the time. He was at a disadvantage compared to other ninja his age because he didn't know a lot of techniques and he didn't have the technical skills most of them took for granted. But he did have an amazing amount of stamina, a capacity to improvise, and the creativity to utilize both in ways most other ninja couldn't imagine. Usually, that was a good thing. It kept him alive in a number of situations.

For example, his use of the Kage Bunshin, or shadow clone, technique. There was a reason it was a restricted technique. Most ninja, if they knew it, tended to use it selectively and with hesitancy. It was an incredibly useful technique to be sure, but the major draw backs - the multiple memories were confusing, it was a massive chakra drain, and the relatively weak nature of the clones - meant that there were other clone techniques that were better suited to most combat situations. It was best left for reconnaissance missions, message running, or other times when staying out of combat, or transmitting knowledge, was more important than putting down a foe. Even then, because of the amount of chakra necessary to make a clone, most ninja preferred to use less chakra intensive means.

For battle, you had other clones, like a mud or water clones. They could take more damage and took a lot less chakra to utilize. Sure, they were less stable over a long period of time and didn't have the nifty benefit of transmitting memories to the user, but many times you didn't want or need the memories, anyway. They were a distraction and caused massive migraines. Plus, most ninja didn't want to share chakra with their clones so that the clone could use techniques anyway. Clones were designed to be disposable.

Fortunately, or unfortunately, depending on your view point, no one had told Naruto that. That's why his own creativity had ended up biting him in the ass.

Naruto had been frustrated with the limitations placed upon his shadow clones. The fact that they could be dispelled from a single hit limited their usefulness against foes like the Akatsuki. They were all seasoned ninjas with incredible powers and techniques. They knew that the perfect defense against a shadow clone rush was an area of effect attack with splash damage; it didn't matter how strong it was, as long as it hit the clone, it could dispel it.

It took someone like Itachi a whole lot less chakra to wipe out a hundred clones than it took for Naruto to make them. Over a long battle, he couldn't afford to waste that much chakra against an opponent that skilled. Bum rush tactics didn't work - he needed to be smarter than that. In a battle with Itachi, he'd lose, even with the Kyuubi supplying an insane amount of chakra. The next time he faced a member of the Akatsuki, he wanted to be able to surprise them with an improved version of his technique. One hundred clones beating on a foe was nice, but one hundred clones beating on a foe that couldn't be taken out with a simple fire jutsu was even better.

And so began the quest to perfect the shadow clone. It had to be durable, able to use chakra itself, and independent of the original creator. Funnily enough, or perhaps not, it was Hinata herself who provided the breakthrough. Naruto had been trying for the better part of the week to try and get around the fact that his clones kept poofing with the slightest physical damage.

When he got back from his training with Jiraiya, the first thing he did was have a lunch with Hinata at that fancy restaurant that all his other friends liked. He'd been uncomfortable there, but it had been nice to see her. It had been a bit strange at first. He wasn't sure why he wanted to have lunch with her, but it seemed right. She'd been happy, though, and that was all that mattered. She'd agreed to spar with him in the mornings. He would have been blind not to notice the woman she'd turned into during his absence from Konoha. She was still quiet and weird, but she had awesome chakra control and didn't seem to mind his presence. In fact, sparring with her had improved his chakra control tremendously, as she had these wicked abilities to shut down his tenketsu from a distance.

And, due to her Byakugan, his clones never really stood a chance. Every time he created a swarm of them to try and herd or distract her, she picked them apart with ruthless efficiency that no one else had come close to matching. He could eventually overwhelm her with sheer numbers, but it took a lot of chakra to do it as she had that nearly perfect defense of the Hyuga clan down pat.

After one particularly draining session, he collapsed on the ground near where Hinata was recovering her breath.

"Hey, Hinata?"

She looked up and arched an eyebrow, showing she was paying attention. She was still breathing too hard to really reply verbally, so he continued.

"How come you can always tell which ones are the shadow clones?" he asked.

She shrugged, and rattled off a rather complex explanation about a "chakra matrix" and "chakra flow" and a bunch of words relating to anatomy and physiology that he couldn't hope to understand. She trailed off in her explanation as he looked at her blankly.


For whatever reason, that set her off. She ended up laughing so hard she ended up gasping for breath. It took him a long time to calm her down, but when he finally did she began to explain it to him. He knew that she could see chakra pathways and tenketsu in the body; everyone knew that. What he didn't know is that she could see chakra in exclusion to other things if she focused enough. A normal human body looked the like the skin had been removed, but muscles, chakra pathways, and tenketsu shone to her eyes as they all utilized, transported, or expelled chakra.

But his clones didn't do that. They were a shell, a chakra manifestation that lacked an anchor. Because they had no anchor, they could move independently from the creator and weren't limited by distance. However, they also had no substance, and the slightest disturbance to the shell of the form - the chakra matrix, in Hinata's terms - then the whole thing collapsed and the chakra lost cohesion.

Basically, his clones were just chakra balloons, and the slightest injury caused them to pop. It was great to know why it happened, but he didn't have the slightest clue as to what he could do with it.

He started playing with the technique, summoning up hordes of clones to experiment and brainstorm with. They tried a lot of stuff, some of it stupid, some of it intelligent, but most of it a waste of time, looking for ways to increase the amount of damage a clone could sustain before poofing out of existence. They tried altering the amount of chakra used to create the clone, the numbers, even the clothing.

In short, they tried about everything, but hadn't had much success so far. That's when one of the clones suggested combining techniques. Rather than using more chakra to create the clone, would it be possible to use less chakra to make the shell, but then give more chakra to the clone itself to use techniques? Naruto reasoned that the clone could reinforce itself from the inside out with chakra, rather than trying to create a more durable clone out of thin air.

They tried many different versions of this, too. They poured a lot of chakra into the clones, or just a little. They tried to modify how many clones were created while using the same amount of chakra, varying the numbers between a lot and a few.

They learned a lot over the months of experimentation. He could effectively change how much chakra each clone was charged with, meaning that he could either create a bunch of shadows that effectively could only do taijutsu, or a few clones with enough spare chakra to do techniques or make clones themselves.

That alone had been worth the effort. Being able to surprise the enemy with clones that could create their own shadow clones could pay big dividends over the course of a battle. They still hadn't been able to solve the durability problem, though.

He'd tried some of his new super clones on Hinata later during a sparring match. She destroyed them easily, but commented that the ones filled with chakra looked funny to her. When he asked her to explain this time, she shrugged that they didn't seem right, because even though they had lots of chakra, it wasn't moving like it should in the body. The clones were just vessels filled with chakra. They had no system for keeping the integrity of the whole intact.

And so Naruto did something he was loath to do. He studied. He learned a couple of other clone techniques, then enlisted the help of Sakura to study anatomy. He thought that if he understand the underlying structure of how the body was formed he'd be able to create a shadow clone with durability.

And, even though he hated it, he started taking after Jiraiya. He studied bodies. Male bodies, his own body, but also female bodies. He didn't peek in at bathhouses or anything, but he started noticing the subtle differences between males and females - how they shifted their weight, maintained balance, and used their muscular systems to accomplish feats of ninja derringdo.

And he started to play even closer attention to Hinata. The occasional morning sparring sessions transitioned into regularly scheduled events, and then, after many months, daily sessions. They hung out more, and he picked her brain for more info about the flow of chakra through the body. More than any of the other girls he watched, she was the one he preferred. He liked hanging out with her, and on the rare day when they couldn't spar, was generally bummed until he saw her again.

Jiraiya smirked when he told him about it, and Tsunade got all teary-eyed and gave him a crushing hug. That had been uncomfortable, because Naruto couldn't help but notice her rather... generous assets when his face had been smothered in them.

The months passed, and he still kept up on his project to create the perfect shadow clone. He created hundreds, even thousands of shadow clones with enough energy to make several more themselves, and they spent their time experimenting when he wasn't able.

It was safe to say that nobody had ever explored the problem as thoroughly as he had. Around his seventeenth birthday, his team had been deployed with Hinata's on a search and destroy mission. Her team searched, Narurto destroyed. It was an S-class mission, and things had gotten quite hairy towards the end. Naruto had been forced to unleash the Kyuubi's chakra and send a wave of Kyuubi maddened shadow clones into a vastly superior force of ninja in order to buy time for the rest of the team. The carnage wasn't pretty, but he'd managed to make it out with wounds that would have killed a normal ninja but were a mere annoyance to him.

He would have killed them all, but Hinata hadn't been so lucky, though. Even though she fought amazingly well, she ended up received a kunai to the right lung, forcing him to retreat so he could get her to safety. It was a sucking chest wound, and for a while it had been touch and go as her lung had collapsed and she was slowly drowning in the fluid building up in her relatively healthy lung.

He'd been forced to tear off her top in order to dress her wounds. That was the first time he saw her naked. But it wasn't the last. He'd been forced to change the bandages and clean the wound many times before he finally managed to get her to a healer, and the image of her body had been burned into his mind.

He was more determined than ever to perfect his shadow clones after that. He spent day and night working on the problem, knowing that if he'd been able to create a better version, Hinata wouldn't have been so seriously wounded. He could have protected her.

But Naruto, being Naruto, could only stay serious for so long. After several days of playing around with various configurations in his apartment, one of his clones got bored. It broke out the Iroke no Jutsu, effectively turning it into a female version of his shadow clone.

Naruto and the rest of his clones all got a big kick out of it. After that, it became a game to see which clones could turn into the closest simulacrum of his friends. Naruto wasn't sure who thought of it first, or if maybe, they all thought of it simultaneous. But, the clones all looked at each other, and the henged clones started to remove bits of clothing.

He had a lot of trouble sleeping that night. Not because he was disturbed, but because he realized he had access to a virtual fantasy library of images he could use for those times when he needed to... blunt the edge on his kunai, as Jiraiya would say. The problem was, that like any male teenager of seventeen, Naruto was horny. It hadn't helped that he'd just spent three years training with one of the world's biggest perverts.

And he couldn't get the image of Hinata out of his mind. Finally, he couldn't stand it anymore. He got up, walked to the bathroom, and made one clone. He and his clone both looked at each other for a bit, and then, it changed. Into Hinata.

Naruto did what any red-blooded male in a similar situation would do.

He got aroused. He felt guilty about it, of course, but it didn't stop him from doing what nature demanded. Later, when he recovered, he summoned another clone, and they had talked. Rather, they had an philosophical debate, touching on all manner of topics - global kunai price spikes, food shortages, the nature of good and evil, whether free will existed, and did fate or destiny matter.

But mostly, they talked about these topics to avoid the topic that was really on their shared minds.


Finally, Naruto just bit the bullet. Why was it so embarrassing to talk about, especially since he was talking to himself? "So, if, you know, I had sex with one of my clones, wouldn't that technically not be sex at all, but, you know, like masturbating?"

His clone frowned. "Yeah, but still skeevy."

"I know, but, I mean..." Naruto blushed. "I'm not about to go out and buy one of pervert-sensei's skin mags."

"Yeah," said the clone, "and besides... they are expensive."

Naruto and the clone spoke together, "And since it doesn't cost me anything to create a clone..."

They nodded in agreement.

"But its still creepy."

Naruto nodded in response to his clone's comment. "Yeah."

The clone looked at him, eyebrow raised. "So... you wanna?"

"I don't know..." Naruto trailed off. It was so awkward, and at the same time, much more enticing than just trying to actually try and get one of his friends to sleep with him. Especially Hinata. So, he resolved to try it, at least once, and make sure no one ever found out about it.

And so a many months passed. Missions were completed, fighting against the Akatsuki went forward, and Naruto perfected the Rasengan. He grew closer to Hinata, and as dense as he was, he learned to recognize that she like him, just like he like her.

When ever he needed relief from the tension, his shadow clones were there to provide the distraction. Curiosity killed the cat, but in Naruto's case curiosity brought the fox to the cat. The tension between him and Hinata was palpable, and he wanted some release that wasn't just a cheap floor show.

It took him a while to build up the courage, but eventually he tried to have sex. With himself. That is to say, he tried to bed one of his clones. But, they remained of the distinctly "look, but don't touch" variety. The first bit of penetration resulted in a "poof" and a rather disgruntled, and still aroused, Naruto.

It was frustrating, but they managed to work around it, because his clones still had hands and mouths. Sure, it wasn't the ultimate payoff, but it was a damn sight better than most seventeen year old ninjas had access too.

The problem with his shadow clones percolated in the back of his mind, always looking for a solution. He got back to Konoha from a mission on his eighteenth birthday. He had just completed an S-class mission solo, and was celebrating at Ichiraku's ramen stand with Hinata. Her team was out and didn't have any planned missions for a bit. She sat listening to him, her eyes sparkling as he told her about his daring exploits and reckless abandon that made the mission doable. After dinner, he was walking her home to her compound when she pulled him aside in an alley, tossed him against a wall, and soundly kissed him.

"Happy Birthday, Naruto-kun."

She then slipped away with a smile, leaving him stunned. Gone was the shy girl he had known when he left, replaced by this quiet, but fiercely determined, woman who stole his breath away. They started dating after that. Hinata seemed determined to make up for lost time and was affectionate to the point of being aggressive. Naruto loved it, loved having her with him, and loved spending time with her, exploring their relationship together.

But they were never able to actually find enough time alone to do more than simple necking, and the frustration was really starting to hamper his effectiveness.

And then he had his breakthrough. It happened in a casual conversation with Hinata. They were talking about some technique, but the word matrix had come up in the conversation. Naruto was reminded of the first time he asked her about his clones, and how they were missing an internal matrix. Something clicked, and so eager was he to try his new idea, he hastily ended his date with Hinata so he could find somewhere private to experiment.

He'd always created the shell, or the external matrix of his clones first. That was the way the technique worked. Even though he'd gotten much better about making chakra matrices after nearly two years of experimenting, he'd never tried to build his clones from the outside in. He rushed back to his apartment, carefully thinking over what he needed to do in his mind. By the time he got back, he was practically brimming with excitement.

He failed, of course. It was much harder than he thought, but he knew he was close. The first clone he made didn't poof out of existence. Rather, it sort of... fell apart, then slowly dissolved. He spent the whole night trying and failing.

The next night he called Hinata and begged off their date, giving her some flimsy excuse about having something to do. He was just so close that he wanted to perfect this first, so that he didn't lose his train of thought and not figure it out. It wasn't until the third night that he actually got it right. After two whole years of trying and hundreds of thousands of clones later, he made his first perfect shadow clone.

The clone had chakra and could use as many techniques as it had energy for, and even after its energy was expended, it endured. A kunai barely slowed it down at all. In fact, you had to disrupt the chakra matrix completely to dispel it, and the matrix was sturdy enough that that it still remained battle operational for almost fifteen or twenty seconds after taking a fatal wound.

It took about twice to three times as much chakra to make and more time than a normal shadow clone, but it was worth it. He set to practicing, seeing how many he could summon, and how long they lasted. It seemed that even with his nearly limitless chakra supplies, there was a limit to the number of the clones he could create. But, because each clone could produce their own imperfect shadow clones, he could effectively double the maximum number of clones he could create and manage.

It was a huge break through. Naruto didn't care how strong you were. Ten thousand clones could take out anyone.

One of his clone suggested they celebrate. It henged. And it looked just like Hinata, down to the scar beneath her right breast. Naruto didn't want to, but then again, he really did.

And he did. And then Hinata found him in the act of making love... to himself.

A burst of memories entered his head. There! He changed directions immediately, heading off to where one of his shadow clones had spotted Hinata running away. He made another shadow clone and it tore off into the night, heading back to his apartment. He turned on the speed, and reached the clearing she was heading for only seconds behind her.

"Hinata! Wait!"

She turned around, and even at this distance Naruto could see that she'd been crying. She stopped though, and faced him, body poised to run again.

She stared at him, her lower lip trembling. "What did you do?" She asked.

Naruto sighed and hung his head. He didn't have to answer right away, because his clone arrived, followed closely by the perfected shadow clone he'd left back at the apartment.

Hinata backed away in horror. "What have you done?"

"Hinata! Please! Just... Let me explain!"

She paused, but seemed willing to listen.

"Do you remember that time I asked you about why you could always see my shadow clones?"

She nodded, unsure of why he was steering the conversation in this direction. "Yes."

He took a deep breath. "Turn on your Byakugan."

Her eyes narrowed.


He could see the veins bulge around her eyes. Good. "Now, I want you to look at the person who looks like you. What do you see?"

She didn't turn her head - there was no need. She could see the clone perfectly clearly. "What am I supposed to see, Naruto? I don't understand. All I see is a girl who looks just like me. A girl you were making love to. It wasn't me, Naruto. Do you understand how much that hurts?"

He took a step forward. She took half a step back. He stopped. "Just... look closer. Look at her chakra. What do you see?"

Hinata frowned. "I don't see what you're..." She trailed off, then frowned as her brow knitted. "What... Naruto? What is this?"

He took another step forward. She didn't step away, choosing instead to study the clone.

"It's a shadow clone, Hinata."

"That's impossible."

He shook his head, knowing she could see it. "No, not impossible. I've perfected it. I've been working every day since that discussion to make a shadow clone that was more durable in a fight. You gave me the clue I needed to do it."

She bit the corner of her lip. "But why?"

He stepped forward. "I wanted to protect you. I didn't want you to get hurt again, like when we were together on that mission that gave you the scar on your ribs." He was close enough to reach forward and touch her, and he did so, lightly drawing his index finger along the outside of her shirt, tracing the scar that showed where she had nearly been killed on his watch.

She shivered and stepped away from his touch. "Don't."

"I'm sorry."

Hinata crossed her arms under breasts, still looking at the clone. "Can I destroy it?"

He nodded. She pulled out a kunai and threw it into the clone. It made no attempt to dodge and the kunai lodged itself in between the fourth and fifth ribs on the left side of its body, right above where the heart should have been located. The clone grunted and pulled out the kunai. There was no blood, but a slow leak of chakra exited the wound. It tossed it back to her for another shot. This one took it in the neck. Again, it reached up to pull out the kunai, but before it could do so, it collapsed in a puff of smoke, leaving the kunai standing point first in the ground.

Naruto shuddered as the memories of that experience crowded into his brain. The kunai and the sensations it had produced had been... very unpleasant. He'd have to remember that.

Hinata stared at where the clone had been standing. "Naruto... that technique..." She trailed off.


She shuddered. "Don't ever tell anyone about it, Naruto."

It was his turn to look puzzled. "Why not?"

She looked up at him. "Do you even realize what you've done?"

He cocked his head. "I made a better shadow clone."

She shook her head. "No, Naruto." She looked at the kunai. "Even with my eyes, I thought she was real. She looked human. She had chakra coils. She... died." She shuddered. "You made a clone. A real, live, living being. It's the perfect assassination technique. It shouldn't be possible."

Naruto didn't know what to say, so he said nothing. He was simply staring at the kunai. So he never even saw the blow coming that took him in the jaw, sending him to the ground.

He looked up and saw a furious Hinata standing over him. "I'm still pissed at you, Naruto!"

"Hinata! It's the same thing as masturbating!"

"No it isn't!" She kicked him. "She had my body, you asshole!"

Naruto blocked the next incoming kick and grabbed her ankle. With a mighty yank, he pulled her off her feet. Unfortunately, he didn't have the leverage he needed to get her clear of his own position. Instead, she crashed to the ground on top of him. There was a flurry of arms and legs as she continued to punch him from the ground. He was relieved about that. As long as she wasn't using Jyuken strikes, she didn't really mean to hurt him much.

He grunted as a knee found a particularly sensitive spot. With a growl, he reach up and grabbed a handful of her hair, and with a yank, pulled her head back. He used the momentary change in leverage to roll on top of her, pinning her body to the ground as his free hand snaked out and grabbed her wrists.

She glared up at him as she tried to break his grip. Her struggles were useless, however, as he had her completely entrapped. "Who said you could use my body for your fantasies?"

He glared back. "Would you rather I be thinking about someone else?"

She narrowed her eyes at him. "It isn't right."

"I already apologized." She squirmed some more causing him to grow uncomfortable as he realized exactly what position he was in. "You might want to stop that."


"Just trust me."

Hinata didn't listen and tried to break his grip again. She stiffened, then stopped struggling as she realized what she was struggling against.

"Naruto... let me go. Now." Her voice was small. Frightened, almost.

He nodded and let go, leaping to his feet. She sat up slowly, keeping a careful eye on him. He crouched down, out of range of a physical attack. He knew she could probably send one of her distance Jyuken strikes at him before he could dodge from this distance, but it looked like her anger was spent. She pulled her knees up to her chest and hugged them, resting her chin on her knees as she looked at him.

"So, how long have you been doing that?"

Naruto flushed. "Tonight was the first time."


He nodded, embarrassed. "I didn't mean to do it. It just... sort of happened."

"Why didn't you ask me, then?" He barely caught her whisper. Even to his enhanced hearing, it was faint. But she was blushing furiously, no longer looking at him.

"Hinta... I..." he trailed off. He'd already made a mess of things, so he had nothing else to lose. "I wanted too. God, for the longest time. Ever since I came back, really. But... I just didn't know how to. I'm not good at this stuff."

"And you think I am?"

Silence stretched for a bit. "What happens now?" He asked.

She shrugged. "I don't know. I'm still really upset."

He sighed. "I'm sorry, Hinata."

"Yeah. Me too." She moved to get up. He stood first, and offered a hand down to her. She regarded it coolly for a second before refusing the offer, standing up on her own. She ran her fingers through her hair and grimaced. "That hurt, you know."


They trudged through the woods together, neither really talking. The walk was not a long one in terms of distance, but it certainly was in terms of comfort. Hinata avoided looking at him, and he tried to avoid looking at her. He failed miserably.

Finally she got irritated. "What?"

"Sorry. I'm just..." He shrugged. "Do you want a shower before you go home?"

"And where would I do that?"

"My place?"

She stopped and looked at him. "Do you really expect me to go to your place after this?"

Naruto opened his mouth and was going to say something, but stopped. "I guess you have a point." He decided it was the safest thing to say. She didn't say anything, and he followed her again as she started walking. She didn't say anything else until they cleared the forest. But when she did, her question surprised him.

"What was it like?"

"Huh?" He asked intelligently.

"The sex, stupid. What was it like?"

Naruto tried not to grin, but he couldn't help it. She frowned up at him, and the smile left his face. "Hmph." With that, she turned away from him and walked faster. He trailed behind her, cursing himself for being so stupid. He was so wrapped up in self recriminations that he almost walked into her when she stopped suddenly in front of him.

He looked up in confusion, and realized that they were in front of his apartment. There was a very awkward pause. Not knowing what else to ask, he said, "So.. um... Will you want to spar tomorrow morning?"

Hinata turned and looked up at him. "You have no clue, do you?"

"What do you mean?"

"Nothing." She ran her fingers through her hair, grimacing as a clump of dirt fell out. "On second thought, I'll take that shower after all. Is the offer still open?"

He nodded enthusiastically. "Yeah. Come on." He turned to walk up the stairs, reaching back to grab her hand unconsciously. She hesitated, but didn't pull her hand out of his grip. At the top of the stairs, he let go and walked into his apartment. The door was still on the floor.

"Sorry about your door."

He shrugged it off. "It's okay. I would have done worse. At least I can still use this." Without a word, two shadow clones sprung into existence and ran forward. One grabbed the door, and the other went to his tool chest and pulled out some tools. The pair immediately set to work on repairing the door.

Hinata raised an eyebrow. "Neat trick."

"I've gotten much better with them. Lots of practice over the last couple of years." That was the wrong thing to say, though, because she blushed and looked away. "Um... Tea?"

She shrugged. She'd been in his apartment before, but never really in a situation like this. Rather than allowing herself to become uncomfortable with the situation, she moved to the kitchen bar and sat down. Even with the events of tonight, Naruto was still her... she didn't know. Friend wasn't the right word. It wasn't strong enough.

Naruto made tea quickly. He set a steaming mug in front of her. "Do you want first shower?"

"I don't care."

Another clone popped into existence right next to him. "If you don't mind, I'll go first. You can keep talking to me," he pointed at the clone, "while I'm in the shower."

It felt weird, but she'd talked to his clones before. "Okay, I guess."

Naruto moved off into the bathroom. She nursed her tea slowly, looking around the apartment. It was messy, but not nearly as bad as it had been when he was an adolescent. Books and scrolls lay about in piles on the floor, and his dirty clothes were shoved into a corner. But, his bookshelf was arranged neatly, and she could see the empty spaces in the books that belonged to the collection that was on the ground. There was a small bureau that held his clothes and a small night table with some photos on it. Even from here, she could tell that one was of his genin team, one was of Tsunade, and surprisingly, one was of her.

One of the clones was discretely tidying up the room as she examined it. She frowned as it stripped the sheets from the bed and tossed them in the dirty clothes corner. It sort of gave her a sickly grin, and marching over to the clothes, picked them all up and put them in the clothes hamper next to the bathroom door. She grunted.

She turned back to her tea. "You still didn't answer my question."

The clone sitting across from her blinked as he sipped his tea. "Which question?"

"What was it like?"

"What?" It looked at her. "Oh. Right. That."


Naruto squirmed in his chair. She arched an eyebrow. "Well?"

"It was... good." He cocked his head. "I mean, how am I supposed to compare? I'm still a virgin." He frowned. "I think, at least. I'm not sure if this counts as sex, you know, since it was technically me."

"Nice try. It counts."

"Why do you think it counts, huh?"

"Because. She had a real body."

Naruto shook his head. "No, your wrong. It didn't. It was just me with an illusion on top. It had the same form as my other shadow clones. It was just... more durable." He cocked his head. "Anyway, I'm sure the real thing would be way more fun."

Curious, she asked, "why do you say that?"

"I mean, I have no idea what sex is like for women. How are they supposed to act? What is it supposed to feel like? My clone was basically just lying there. I mean, I don't know if it was anything like the real thing or not. Plus, it was me. I knew it was me. It wasn't exciting like it would be if it were you. It was exciting because I could pretend it was you, you know?"

Hinata flushed. Thankfully, she didn't have to respond as the bathroom door opened and the real Naruto stepped out. He was freshly washed and wrapped only in a towel, held in place with his left hand. He stopped when he saw her, embarrassed.

"Oh... Um.. Sorry."

She stared a bit. She couldn't help it.

"Um... Do you want your shower now?"

She snapped out of her trance. "Ah, right. Yeah." She frowned and looked down at her clothing. It was covered in dirt from their impromptu wrestling match on the forest floor. "Do you have any spare clothing I could wear?"

Naruto nodded and moved to bureau, pulling out some baggy sweatpants and an old T-shirt. He offered them to her, still holding his towel closed. She slipped into the bathroom and turned on the water, the clone's last sentence still playing around in her head as she stepped into the shower.

She joined Naruto at his kitchen counter after her shower. While she was in there, he had sent a clone to a laundry mat to wash her dirty clothing, and it wouldn't be done for another half hour, at least. A self conscious silence fell between them. Hinata, for her part was worried about the clothing she was wearing; it was too big for her, and without proper supportive undergarments it didn't really provide the amount of decency she was used to. For his part, Naruto was embarrassed that he had upset Hinata, not to mention the way he had done it.

So, they simply sat at the counter, sipping tea and watching the minutes click by on the clock. They exchanged some small talk, and generally tried to figure out where their relationship stood in light of recent events.

Hinata greeted the clone's return with a sigh of relief. It had her clothing in a bag, clean and dried. She took it from the clone silently, slipped into the bathroom, and changed. When she came out, Naruto walked her to the door.

"Will I see you tomorrow? At the sparring ground?"

She paused. "I don't know."

He nodded, expecting that. "Well, I'll be there, if you decide to show up." He leaned in to kiss her, like he might have normally done, but she backed away slightly. Naruto sighed and stood up straight again.



"Just how badly did I screw up?"

She shrugged. "I can't tell, yet."

"Fair enough."

She left, not even bothering to say goodnight.

Naruto was waiting in the clearing when the sun rose. Three hours later, he was still waiting. Hinata hadn't show up yet. By lunch time, he was ready to give up. He left a clone behind, just in case she decided to show up later.

In the woods, Hinata watched with her Byakugan as Naruto left. He'd waited longer than she thought. Uncertain, she turned and took to the trees, following Naruto with her eyes.

"Does something seem off with him to you?"

"Off? Who? Where?" Sakura spun in her chair, trying to make out who Ino was pointed at with her chopsticks. She squinted. It was Naruto. He walked into Moritake's restaurant and took a booth in the back corner. Alone. He never came here alone anymore. Not since he got back and started hanging out with Hinata, at least.

"You know, now that you mention it... Where's Hinata?"

Ino chewed thoughtfully on the end of her chopsticks. "Hmm... wonder what happened there?"

Sakura shrugged. "None of our business."

Ino leaned forward. "Are you kidding? Of course it is." She put her chopsticks down on the table and sprang up from the table. Sakura cursed as she realized what Ino was going to do. She leaned forward and tried to grab Ino's shirt, the the blond girl was too quick for her. She winked at Sakura and sauntered over to Naruto's booth.

"Alone today?"

Naruto looked up and grunted.

"Mind if I join you?" She didn't wait for him to give permission. She sat down anyway. A second later, a frustrated Sakura joined her. Ino smirked and slid into the booth a bit so Sakura could sit down as well. Naruto gave them both an annoyed look. Ino looked around the booth and with false innocence, asked, "where's Hinata? I didn't see her come in."

Naruto shrugged. "Don't know."

This caused Ino's eyebrows to raise. Naruto always knew where Hinata was. She looked at him closer, noticing for the first time that his characteristic optimism seemed to be missing. He looked tired. Worse than that, he looked... defeated. Ino leaned forward. "Naruto... what happened?"

He looked at the pair of girls across from them. Ino was attractive enough, and at one point he really thought he love Sakura. But... who was he kidding? They weren't Hinata. Not even close. He closed his eyes and sighed. "I messed up."

"What did you do?" That was Sakura's voice. Concern.

He shrugged. "Not important. But, I did something stupid, so I've got to deal with the consequences." He gave a mirthless little chuckle. "Didn't think you'd hear that from me, did you?"

The two girls across from him both shook their heads. He decided he didn't want lunch anymore. He got up and moved out of the booth. "Sorry, but I don't think I'm hungry anymore." He slid out of the restaurant, leaving two thoroughly confused girls behind.

"Sakura... what in the hell just happened?"

The pink haired girl shook her head. "I don't know, but it had to be pretty bad. I don't think I've ever seen Naruto this sad before."

Ino nodded. "Come on. Let's go find Hinata."

Sakura hesitated.

"Come on..." Ino urged.

"Oh, Alright. Let's pay the bill first, though."

Hinata saw them approaching, of course. With her Byakugan active, there was no way she could avoid it. Sure, she could have avoided them, but then they would have been even more determined to track her down. So, instead, she simple stood still until the two girls could catch up. The three of them fell into step together. Ino immediately started chattering, and Sakura chimed in every once and a while. Hinata mostly stayed silent, giving non-committal answers only when absolutely necessary.

Eventually the conversation died off as Hinata took no part in sustaining it. The quiet stretched until Sakura finally was forced to address the real reason they were walking with her.

"Hinata, are you alright? What happened with Naruto?"

Hinata shrugged.

Ino jumped in. "Come on, Hinata. You can tell us. We're your friends!"

Again, she shrugged, but didn't answer.

Confidence flagging, Ino tried again. "I mean, you should see him, Hinata. I've never seen Naruto like this. He's, like... legitimately sad. It's creepy to see."

She paused at this. Naruto, sad? She considered it. Hard to imagine, but still... Eventually, the reached the gates of the Hyuuga compound. The other girls didn't really have an excuse to enter, so they left her at the gate, no closer to understanding what had happened.

Hinata spent the night thinking. The midnight bells tolled, but still sleep wouldn't come. It had only been a week since she'd discovered Naruto with... a copy of her. She'd been avoiding him since then, watching from a distance, like she used to do when they were younger. He hadn't tried to find her, but every morning he went to their normal sparing ground and stood watch until either lunch time or a mission took him away.

When he wasn't there, he always left a clone. She kept thinking about that night, turning over events in her head. The bells chimed two o'clock. Sleep still didn't come.

At three, she gave up, knowing that sleep wasn't going to come this night. She got up from her futon, got dressed, and slipped out of the compound. She didn't have a destination in mind. Rather, she simply slipped into the night, turning on her eyes and turning off her mind, allowing her body to decide for itself where she wanted to go.

So she wasn't surprised when she found herself in front of Naruto's front door some time later. The frame had been patched, but the door still hung slightly askew. Picking the lock wasn't hard to someone with her eyes and skills. She pushed the door open and snuck inside. Naruto was asleep on the bed, dressed in a pair of boxers and a tank top.

She wasn't sure how long she watched him sleeping. She started when she realized that he was no longer asleep, instead calmly watching her standing in the middle of his apartment.


She nodded her head slightly.

He sat up in bed, throwing the covers back. He stood up and walked to the center of the room, stopping in front of her. She didn't resist when he wrapped her in a hug, pulling her to his chest. "I missed you," he mumbled into the top of her hair.

She wrapped her arms around is waste and squeezed him tight. She missed him, too. He gently released her, and taking one of her hands, led her to the bed. She hesitated. He noticed.

"Don't worry. I promise to behave." He gave a rueful grin. He sat down and patted the side of the bed next to him.

She nodded. She believed him, even though part of her was still hesitant. She sat down as well. He scooted backwards, till his back was against the wall and turned on to his side and lay down. Even in the dark, she could tell he was watching her.

I made it this far, she thought, I might as well talk to him.

She lay down as well. Neither of them said anything, though. Eventually, they drifted off to sleep.

Hinata woke with a start, not recognizing where she was at the moment. The light was entering from a different direction than she was accustomed to, the ceiling was unfamiliar, and the bed was much softer than her own futon. Then she felt the arm draped across her stomach. She turned her head slightly to see Naruto staring at her from just inches away. He smiled. It was a shy, hesitant smile, but she could she the real warmth there. The happiness. Knowing she caused it made her happy, too.

"Good morning."

She smiled back. "Hi."

"Thank you."

She shrugged. "I couldn't stay away any more. I missed you."

His arm tightened around her waist, pulling her a fraction closer to his body. She understood. She looked up at the ceiling. "I've been doing a lot of thinking."


"I'm still mad. But, not at you. Not anymore. At myself."

"Why's that?" Naruto propped his head on his elbow so that he could look at her face.

She chose not to answer his question. "Did you know I used to stalk you?"

He laughed. A soft laugh, but it felt good. She missed that laugh, she realized. "No. Really? When?"

"From the first days in the Academy. You were everything I thought I wasn't." She wrinkled her nose. "And you told me I was quiet, dark, and weird."

"Not weird." He grinned. "Quiet, yes. But determined, I think. Stronger than me in a lot of ways."

She shook her head. "I always looked at you as an example of strength. I used to follow you all the time. Watching you get back up after every humiliation, every defeat, wishing I was strong enough to do that. I wasn't even strong enough to stand up to my baby sister."

Naruto didn't say anything.

"I've never had a lot of self confidence. I've always been afraid. And yet you would take on the world if you had enough reason, even if you knew you couldn't win. I love that about you. I always hoped that if I hung out with you enough, maybe a bit of that would rub off on me, and maybe, just once, I could be as confident as you seemed without wondering what everyone would think. So I followed you around."

"Did it work?"

"No. But it didn't stop me."

"Why did you stop, then?"

She shrugged. "I didn't. You left. I didn't see you for three years."

He chuckled. She watched his Adam's apple bob back and forth as he laughed, just inches from her face. It was so tantalizingly close. She'd hadn't lied. She really had done a lot of thinking in the past week, analyzing the event in her head, reviewing her reactions, trying to understand what had happened.


She needed to know.



"Why me? I mean..." She trailed off. She blushed, and so did he. "You could have made that clone to look like any girl in the world. Why me?"

Naruto swallowed. Her eyes followed the motions in his throat before coming back to look him in the eyes.

"When I sat thinking about it, I realized that it was flattering. You could have had anybody, or any body, in the world. And yet, it was me you chose. I need to know. Why me?" She asked again. She stared at him, willing him to answer.

Naruto closed his eyes. "I'm... not sure."

He saw the disappointment in her eyes. "Just... let me explain, okay?"

She nodded, but her eyes still displayed hurt.

"I'm not sure why I don't want any of the other girls. But... I'm sure I want you. I don't know why that is, but its you I think about all the time. Its you I want to protect. You're one of my precious people." He frowned. "No, I think that isn't right either. I think you are my most precious person. I want to protect you more than anyone else." He sighed. "I don't know why, though. I just know it hurts to be away from you, and when you get injured..." he trailed off.

"What about Sakura. Don't you love her?"

Naruto snorted. "Sakura? She's my friend."

That seemed to satisfy her. She closed her eyes, a slight smile on her lips.



"Last week, one of your clones said you imagined that I'd be into it."

"Yeah. I remember."

She rolled over to face him. "Do you want to find out?"

Confidence. It might not have been a declaration of love, but then again, she didn't need it. He could have had anyone, but he chose her. In away, that was the most flattering compliment she'd ever received. She just wish he'd been a little less bone headed about it.

"Umm... Yes?"

"Good." She kissed his Adam's apple. "Now's your chance."

Naruto flopped back onto his back with a satisfied grunt, spent and sweaty.

Hinata rolled over and lightly draped an arm over his chest. She smiled down at him and arched an eyebrow.


Naruto grinned. "That was... just no comparison."

"Good." She leaned in and kissed him, deeply. Her hand slid down, finding that he was already recovering. She pulled back. "You can use this body anytime you want. Next time, just ask me."

"I'll remember that." He rolled over, pushing her to her back so that he loomed above her. "Hey Hinata?"


"I..." He trailed off, suddenly uncomfortable.

She traced a finger down his jaw line. "What is it, Naruto?"


"Shh..." She put a finger to his lips. "You don't have to say anything now."

He nodded, grateful. He grinned around her finger, then opened his mouth to bite gently on her fingertip. "Can I have your body?"

She smiled up at him. The clone was right. She was into it, and it was incredible.

"Does something seem different with him?"

"Different? Who? Where?" Sakura spun in her chair, trying to make out who Ino was pointed at with her chopsticks. She squinted. It was Naruto. He walked into Moritake's restaurant and took a booth in the back corner. Alone. Hmm. He still hadn't repaired things with Hinata?

Ino chewed thoughtfully on the end of her chopsticks. "I wished Hinata would tell us what is going on."

Sakura shrugged. "None of our business." She turned back to her meal. The sound of a bell drew her attention to the front door. Hinata strolled in, heading towards the back table with Naruto.

Ino and Sakura exchanged glances. Hinata was walking... differently today. It was hard to pinpoint, but to trained ninja it was obvious. She swaggered. That was the only way to explain it.

"Do you think?" Ino asked.

"No." Sakura shook her head. "She wouldn't!"

They watched in shock as Hinata slid into the booth next to Naruto and kissed him firmly. On the lips, in public.

"She did!" They both squealed. The two girls watched as the couple flirted their way through lunch, totally oblivious to the world around them.

Ino nodded. "They are totally into each other."

Sakura snorted. "Into each other's pants, maybe."

"Beyond the shadow of a doubt. But look at them. They are just so... cute." Ino paused. "You think it will last?"

Sakura frowned. She knew Naruto better than anyone. Well, she thought, except for Hinata, maybe. The thought made her smirk. Did she think it would last? Who knew. Ninja died in the blink of an eye. With a nod, she said, "I think so. You know what? I hope it does."


No comments: