He looked at the manga with a pen twirling in between his fingers.
'He's supposed to be here soon,' he thought, fair skin stretching a bit as he did smile. 'It's been… An entire year since we met… How'd it happen?' He thought in total confusion, short mop of messy brown hair jumping as he blinked at the idea. "Hmm… I guess his tastes are more refined than I thought," he said to himself with a small chuckle and smile.
Brown eyes behind slightly oval glasses moved to his bag and he reached in and pulled out a large notepad.
He flipped through several pages and looked, proudly, at the manga panels he'd cleaned up recently.
"H-He said the dialogue's a bit rough but I don't think most people dislike cheesiness."
His long-sleeved white dress shirt ruffled as he put his pen to paper before comparing the manga and the clean draft.
He focused with a hum as he looked at the main character before another face came into his mind. He shook it away with a shaky laugh. 'That's going a bit far, he's not a superhero… still…' He blushed before putting down details.
A long black coat that had been modified from some of the school's old Gakuen uniforms, a short-sleeved white dress shirt because he liked his 'freedom'... He chuckled.
Black pants of the same uniform, nothing crazy there, but his shoes had been an odd strike against the school's curriculum.
"If I paint 'em brown, they won't ever notice-dattebayo!"
He chuckled as he put that down as well.
Now, the face… his 'friend' had always been so full of vibrant energy… so different from 'still' things he liked to draw.
But it was that very liveliness that had made him considered him, a normal-looking, if not nerdy, boy his friend.
"Whatcha drawin', buddy?"
"Oh… Well, it's kind of embarrassing but he's my hero… a-and my first friend, so it's kinda-"
"Well, I wouldn't go that far," he said, adjusting his glasses before he blinked. 'Wait, who have I been-"
"Gross, gross!" Came the voice from before and he blinked to see…?! "Still, this ain't bad there, chiefy," the girl before him said with a sneaky smile.
Her skin was caramel-brown with amber eyes that had a reddish tint to them. Her hair was long and black with the bangs by her forehead seemingly adjusted to only be halfway across, leaving a good part of her noggin exposed.
Wearing their school's white dress shirt with the sleeves rolled up, the female uniform's dark blue skirt, the opposite of the boy version's black pants, and a pair of brown school shoes, she grinned sadistically as she held his notepad up in wonder.
"Hehehehe~ This is a hero? He looks like a school student," she noted, turning the paper side-to-side.
"Hehehe~ You messin' with him, Hayacchi?" Came the call of another girl from this one's table.
Having long, slightly wild, unkempt orange hair that was brighter at the edges, her skin was white and her eyes an almost brighter orange than her hair.
"Eh, I was curious what he was so happy about," she said as she grinned at his work. "As it turns out, there's a hero at this school!"
"W-Wait, no, that's what I-!"
"That so?!" Came one of the other girls at the table who he considered with a twitching eyebrow.
Her face was… he would never insult someone because of their looks but… she had a sort of 'vacant-minded' look that he could believe she was this pack of females' comic relief character.
Having dirty blonde hair set in two chin-length pigtails, with three bangs over her forehead, her eyes were hazel-colored and her dress shirt also had the sleeves rolled up while she u-unbuttoned the top few buttons?!
"Let me look! I always wanted to see a real hero!" She cheered as 'Hayacchi' grinned before finding the notepad taken from her hands in second. "Eh?! Ninja!?"
"D-Don't just take people's stuff like that," the original boy said with some confidence. 'Naruto, please, I need you, like, now!' He couldn't keep this up!
Especially because these all seemed like super-aggressive g-girls!
"Eeehhh?" Came the voice of 'Hayacchi' as she turned her quickly-turning ominous gaze on him. "You want to fight so badly, huh?!"
"E-Eh!? W-What? No! I don't fight people!" He said, hiding his notepad away from her with a blush and eyes looking at the exit which was quickly blocked by the orange-haired girl from before. "I'm boxed in!?" He shrieked as the first one chuckled with evil intent.
"Hmm, you shouldn't tease someone so badly," came the last girl of the four-'man' group they had.
"This is revenge, Sakura-chan!" Hayacchi declared with wiggling hands as the boy paled.
Sakura giggled as looked on, her brown eyes gleaming with amusement as her chin-length yellow hair fell over her head in slight waves. Her skin, like the Hayacchi's, was brown but more of a hot chocolate kind of tint.
"C-Come on! You wanted to fight me, right~" Hayacchi stepped in close towards him as he stood up in fright. "Let's do this!" She jumped him as his mouth opened in horror-
"Alright, how about no?" Came a male voice from her side, the girl blinking as she was held in the air by the scruff of her neck. "Let's not do that today, yeah?" The voice said as she lowered to the floor like a… like a child?!
"Who's the wise guy?!" She shouted as she turned on the person, finger raised, before blinking as the earlier boy burned bright red, gasping.
"N-Naruto-kun!" He said in horror as a familiar blonde smirked at him.
'He looks exactly like the picture!' Hayacchi thought with interest before looking back at the glasses boy, 'Nao-shi'.
The boy before them had fair skin and bright blue eyes that even outshined her orange-haired friend's! His hair was even more blonde than her other friends'!
It was spiky-stupid, she decided, as the guy, Naruto, looked at the group with a raised brow.
"So, I'm gonna ask why you were giving my friend a super hard time. He's not used to this! One at a time!" Naruto Uzumaki said as Hayacchi blinked at him.
… Then she blushed. "Excuse me?! Gross, gross, gross! Control yourself you perve!"
"Ain't you a black kettle?" Hayacchi's eye twitched as she heard her 'brightly-haired' friend snicker. "Looking at what you were about to do, I'm more worried about Nao-shi needing to get a restraining order."
"EHY?!" Who did this punk think he was!? "You think you could take me?!"
"I know I could take you, princess," he said with a widening grin that her hackles raised at.
"... She's like a cat," Nao-shi whispered before jumping as the girl's eyes locked on him. "Oh, wait, what?! I didn't say anything!" He said but shot him the stink eye.
"Don't think this is over, Naocchi," she threatened… weirdly before turning to Naruto. "This ain't over, either, baka-urchin."
"... Excuse me?! You want to hang from the flagpole?!" Naruto's eyebrow twitched dangerously. "Don't mind me, little lady, the men have places to be. I'll leave you to check your nails, buff your toys, and go to sleep at 4 pm. Bye~" He said, pushing 'Nao-shi' out the room. "Pft, so easy."
"You're dangerous as always."
"It's one of my talents."
The orange-haired girl chuckled a bit as she placed her hands on her hips. "Seems like Hayacchi met her match, Yoshi," she said to the 'vacant' girl who gasped.
Hayacchi's eyebrows ticked as a vein throbbed onto her forehead before fire rose from her feet. "THIS ISN'T OVER YOU DAMN SEA-URCHIN!"
"So, why were you late?" Nao-shi asked Naruto who chuckled nervously.
"Would you believe me if I said that I got caught up chasing a thief?" The blonde asked and the boy's eyebrow rose. "Naoto, dude, trust me, it was crazy! Check the news!"
The now named 'Naoto' blinked before doing just that. "And… Y-You were telling the truth?!" He gaped as Naruto chuckled.
Gangster Saves the Day!? What is This!?
"Wait, hold on, what did they call me?!"
Naoto adjusted his glasses with a chuckle. "Well, you don't exactly dress like a normal student."
"Naoto, dude, I'm like the kindest person in the world."
'That's true,' Naoto thought with a smile before his glasses gleamed. "But you keep disobeying the rules, what else would people think?"
"... I…" the blonde's face screwed up into an expression of defeat, head slumping. "Dammit, man, don't do that to me."
"Hm," Naoto smiled as the two of them made it to the Art Clubroom. "It's just-"
His hand reached to open the door before Naruto stopped it, his face flat and stone-like, as he turned to look at him.
"Naoto… Is your president in there?"
"...?!" He burned bright red. "U-Um, no, actually! She's got other responsibilities a-and she's not! She and the other seniors are at cram school."
"Oh, thank God."
The two went in before finding their places in the room.
"Are you really alright with this, Naruto?" Naoto asked as the blonde grinned, shedding his jacket before finding a place next to him with a smock, similar to the one Naoto was wearing. "I know you're more of the physical type."
"It's fine, besides, you need more members as is," the slightly shorter boy said with a chuckle, holding a pencil. "Now, come on, let's do this!"
Naoto smiled. "Alright, so, as always, you can draw, paint, or do whatever you want in this room. Whether a fruit, an odd animal by the window or furniture."
"Or us," the blonde said and Naoto snorted.
"Y-Yes, or 'us'."
They went to work, pencils in hand.
Naoto found these moments comforting, he wouldn't lie.
Naruto's presence made him feel safe, like a big shield. He was a protector by his own words and Naoto knew that well.
"Are you all done?" Came the sight of a familiar blonde as he walked up to the group of hecklers, Naoto sniffling as he hid his head away from them. "Something funny here beside each of your faces? Because trust me, those things you call looks are hilarious."
"Your hearing's super bad, too?! Man, who could have seen that coming?!"
"You got something to say to us, you damn delinquent?!"
"Yeah," they froze as his eyes narrowed, ice within a nice Summer day. "I've got a lot, wanna TALK?"
They ran like dogs with their tails between their legs.
"It's always bastards like that who get my blood boiling," he grunted before turning to Naoto. "You alright?"
The glasses-wearing boy blinked at him. "H-Huh?"
"... I-I'm fine, I'm used-"
"Nope!" The blonde flicked his forehead and he grabbed it in disbelief. "You shouldn't be used to that, no one should. If those guys pick on you again, I don't care how it looks, you come get me and I'll set 'em straight."
"W-What?!" He didn't understand, who was this weird blonde. "... E-Even if I did that, it wouldn't… make things better, would it?"
"Don't let your pride get in the way of your feelings," the boy said with a look of resolution that shocked Naoto to his very core. "People act like relying on others is a bad thing but it's not. No one gets anywhere on their own, remember that."
He smiled calmly as they drew some more.
Once 30 minutes passed, he stopped them.
"Okay, let's see…" Naoto hummed at his friend's drawing. "I always thought about it but, Naruto, you're really good at drawing still life."
The blonde's painting of the other side of the room… Something about it made Naoto smile. Like he was capturing life even frozen still.
Of course, it was rather blurry around the edges and outline but he could tell.
The boy, who hadn't been that good at drawing in the beginning, after a whole year, was coming together well.
"Heh, thanks," the blonde said before they looked at Naoto's. "And someone keeps having super-realistic styles… but, did you find that thing I thought about?"
Naoto adjusted his glasses with a small frown, looking up in thought. "N-Not yet… I didn't understand at first… but do you really think it's lifeless?"
"Well, that's the wrong word. I think you haven't found what you really like drawing."
"Really?" Naoto blinked. "What could-"
The door slammed open as a familiar pair of girls came into view.
"Surprise, nerds!" Came the bright-haired one as Hayacchi's eyes snapped to Naoto, the actual nerdy-looking boy jumping in fright. "What two, lively, young men doing alone in an empty classroom?~ Not getting up to BL, would we?"
"The hell are you talking about?" Naruto asked as the two slunk in with intent. "And what are you up to, this time?"
"Quiet, delinquent boy!" The shortest in the room, the brown-skinned girl, shouted at him, pointing dramatically. "Don't think we haven't heard the rumors!"
"R-Rumors?" Naoto blinked in total confusion. "What rumors… this time?" He asked and the two girls blinked.
"Wait, this time?" The orangette asked in confusion. "Hold on, how many rumors are there?!"
"Well… There was that one time I was considered the leader of a gang," Naruto said in thought, crossing his arms.
"That one has to be true!" Hayacchi said.
"No, that one was because Naruto got caught up in helping a member of one's parents," Naoto answered, confusing them.
"Um, pretty sure if you're helping a gangster, that's kind of cut and clean," the bright one said.
"N-No! Just because you help people doesn't make you a bad person!"
"E-Eh?! That's a confidence I didn't expect."
"Hehe~ Nao-shi can be tough when he has to be," Naruto said as the other boy blushed before adjusting his glasses.
"... Gross," Hayacchi said with a flat face. "What's with this happy atmosphere?! You're bullying him, aren't you?!"
"What?" Both boys blinked in confusion as the bright-haired girl chuckled nervously.
"I think we got the wrong guy," she said to her friend who blinked in confusion.
"... We did?"
"Yup. Still, aren't you two a couple of misfits?" She grinned as she looked at Naruto's drawing. "I bet you two could commit to a comedy routine with how you act."
Naoto smiled shakily. "A-Are you any different? You're tall and bright-haired w-while she's-"
"Not gonna save him?" The orangette asked with a smirk as Naruto snorted.
"He got himself into it this time, gotta let him grow from this."
"Who are you calling short?!"
"I-It was just a comparison!"
"Hehehe, this looks like fun," she said as her friend was red in the face as she poked Naoto in super-rapid power fashion. "She's never teasing boys… Hmmm."
"What? You think you got something?" Naruto wondered as she smirked.
"Ehh… Maybe," she grinned. "Name's Maki Gamou, my friends call me 'Gamo-chan'."
"Naruto Uzumaki, Nao-shi just calls me 'Naruto' so it's pretty relaxed," he shot back as she chuckled.
"So, Nao-shi is quite a name."
"Well, his name's Naoto but he's got the glasses. Like, death glasses from an anime we watched," he smirked as she grinned. "So, he's 'Nao-shi'."
As Naoto and Hayacchi turned to their friends for back-up, the two blinked at the odd… camaraderie the two were currently sharing.
"W-What's this feeling of being left out?" Hayacchi wondered as Naoto adjusted his glasses.
"T-This must be what it's like to watch people with charisma interact," he noted with a shaky expression. "It's weirdly scary."
Yep, it was.
"... Gross," she said with a sly grin as he slumped. "Hahahaha! Chill out! Chill out!" She emphasized each phrase with a slap on the back. "Hmmm, neee, neee, what year are you in?"
"O-Oh? Well, I'm a sophomore."
"So, you're my senpai?"
"I-I guess if that means you're a freshman."
"Hm, hm, hm, gross."
"Why's that gross?!"
"Hmm~" She grinned before looking at his drawing. "So, you two are just in here, drawing? That's boring."
"I-It's the Art Club," he grumbled before looking at his drawing. "And… W-Well, Naruto said that my drawings, as of late, have been… he won't say 'lifeless' but he thinks I'm not passionate about the specific things I draw."
She hummed, looking at his picture of a plant. "Well… It's just a plant," she said as he sighed before getting up.
"Come, look at Naruto's."
They did, all four of the teens looking on at the blonde's work.
"... I-It's kind of weird," Hayacchi said in total confusion. "It's not boring?!"
"I-It's weirdly full of life, I guess," Naoto said as Maki hummed, cupping her chin in thought.
"It's… They've kind of got a point," she said to Naruto who rubbed the back of his head with a chuckle.
"I guess it's the way I think about doing it," he said. "When I see a still image… I'm not thinking about it as a still image, ya know?" The three blinked. "Because there's no such thing as an image that's absolutely perfect 99% of the time. So, I think about everything around it and me. The sounds outside, the birds, the students passing above, and even the sunlight. It's all a part of the picture, I can't ignore that."
Naoto blinked at him. "... Liveliness… maybe?" The blonde grinned. "I guess, in a way, you really can capture liveliness in a drawing. I just don't know how I could do that," he said while his friend shot him a thumbs-up.
"... Wait," Nagatoro blinked before rushing into Naoto's bag. "But this one is totally different!" She said, holding up his-!?
"Put that down!" Naoto said with a completely red face as Naruto blinked at the photo.
"Huh, who's that?" He wondered before Gamou's eyes shined. "There's no face, dude. That coat looks cool as hell, though, ya know?"
"It does, doesn't it?" She asked slyly as Naruto nodded. "Like, man, real-life has never looked so awesome."
"God, you're clueless."
"Nothin'," Maki could see her mileage in this. "So, what do you think of this one?"
"This feels more like Nao-shi's style," Naruto said as Naoto blinked.
"What?" He didn't understand.
"Nao-shi, I know you like still-life stuff but maybe you're better at drawing people or even just moving things," the blonde suggested and the taller boy blinked. "Have you tried?"
"N-No… Not really," he said as he looked at the drawing. 'Real life, basically?' The idea was ironically horrifying.
Real life wasn't kind to you! It wasn't… So, why would he be any good at it?
"... Hmmm," Hayacchi hummed as she observed the image before grinning widely. "Then let's do that!" She said with a grin as Naoto jumped.
"Yeah, time for you to get more real-life experience!" Maki said with a smirk. "You boys should probably get good at it!"
"Heh," Naruto chuckled. "I guess, we're not taking up your time, huh?"
"Nah, Sakura had to go and see her boyfriend, and Yoshi is gonna go and walk her dogs!"
"Alright then, if you're up for it, let's do this!"
Naoto blinked. "I… guess," he grumbled as Hayacchi's mouth widened into a Cheshire Grin. 'She's going to be a pain, isn't she?' Naoto had a good feeling that she would be.
They quickly arranged themselves as the girls… brought in a couch?
"Where'd that come from?" Naoto asked.
"I got it from the Handicraft Club, they weren't exactly using it," Hayacchi said as Gamo-chan grinned.
"So, we'll be a bunch of Frenchy models for you two! We've got a casting couch!"
Both boys choked in unison and Maki's grin grew sly as Hayacchi blushed before following suit.
"Oh?~" Naruto choked as Gamo-chan came forth, his head turning to the side as she sidled up to him. "It sounds like you two know what that is."
"I-I have no idea what you're talking about!" Naruto said with a nervous grin. "Now, let's-"
"Hm, hm, hm, senpai! You're a perv!" Hayacchi said as the boy looked away from her, face far too hot for him to respond. "Why, what would I say to such a depraved person?"
Yes, this was their win-
"Wait… How do you two know what the 'casting couch' is?" Naruto asked in confusion, cheeks red as Gamou flinched with a shaky grin on her face, cheeks reddening. "So, you guys bring it up and we're the perverts?!"
"H-Hmph, I guess they're w-wilder than I thought," Naoto said as Hayacchi froze, face growing neon red as her expression shifted to horror and embarrassment. "How g-gross-!"
"Don't you dare!" She tackled him.
"W-Wait, I ple-"
"Y-Yeah, you can't go around calling girls perverts! That's unmanly!" Maki said with some composure but Naruto slammed his hand on the side of her head and her facade broke in an instant, face bright red. "I-Idiot, you can't just do t-that!" She said as his face got closer, just as red as hers.
And it was, at that moment, that the familiar pair of Yoshi and Sakura appeared in the doorway.
"Hey, guys-!" Sakura cheered, shirt untucked before she blinked as Yoshi's face grew bright red.
"Ugeh?!" She made a misunderstanding noise that caused the room's four occupants to glow bright red. "W-We're sorry!" Yoshi made to close the door but Sakura stopped her.
The not-single girl's eyes glowed as she chuckled ominously. "Now, let's not give up on this LOVELY moment," she said with a big grin. "Goodness, you all, you should have said you were going to… well, what were you doing?"
Hayacchi had frozen above Naoto, his wrists in her hands and to the floor as she sat on his stomach.
Naruto and Gamo-chan's situation spoke for itself, though with how close their faces were… Hm, hm, hm!
The blonde kept slamming his head into the wall with Hayacchi as Naoto covered his face on the couch, Yoshi's embarrassed prodding not doing him any favor.
Maki, finally, was facepalming as Sakura teased her to kingdom come.
So, clearly, no art was done that day.
Naruto sipped his drink before clearing his throat. "So, we'll agree that never happened, right?"
"I'm not forgetting!" Sakura said with enthusiasm as the others choked. "You all had such a perfect environment and this is how you're going to make things happen!?"
"S-Sakura-chan?!" Yoshi squeaked with her face tucked towards her drink. "M-Maybe this was a bit…" She blushed bright red.
"Hmph… fine," the blonde gyaru looked put out. "No, seriously! How'd you all even end up like that?"
"... W-We just wanted to draw," Naoto said, head on the table as Naruto chuckled nervously.
"Yeah… We were trying out different styles for Nao-shi," he admitted as Gamo-chan hummed, drinking some coffee. "We think he'd do better looking at real-life things."
"Hmph, his other ones are boring," Hayacchi emphasized before grinning. "But the one be had in the library? That one has some energy in it," she said as Naoto slammed his head down, face red, as Naruto pat his back with a snicker.
"Seriously, though, I have to look at that again because it was awesome."
"D-Don't do that, please."
"So, you decided action in the clubroom was necessary?" Sakura implied as the group blushed. "Hm, hm, hm, I kid, I kid. Well, how about you all watched people from the school roof and draw from there?"
Naoto picked his head up. "That… doesn't sound so bad," it meant a decent amount of privacy as well as, possibly, a lot of subjects.
"Alright, sounds like we're good then," Naruto said with a smirk before noticing Gamo-chan's gaze. "Yo?"
"Hmm, call me crazy but you don't strike me as the artsy type," she said with a finger bouncing at him, one eye closed. "Like, talk about gap moe."
"I don't know what that is," he said. "But, well, I joined because Nao-shi joined, I join MMA Tournaments on my own time so I don't have a club at school," Naruto explained as Maki and Hayacchi perked up.
"You fight… No, wait, that's a stupid question," she realized as Maki snickered. "What kind?"
"Oh, well, boxing, tai-chi, things that had lots of palm strikes, and so on," Naruto explained with a grin. "I'm actually going to be going to a tournament next week."
"Hmph," Naoto smiled. "Naruto is at the top of the Intermediate circuit, h-he's probably going to be a pro in the coming years."
Maki blinked at that before looking up in thought.
"Hehe~," The blonde said as Hayacchi looked taken aback. "While violence is not always the answer, knowing how to protect myself and other people is important."
"..." She hummed, rolling her drink between her hands. "... Meh."
"Sounds like a fun time," Maki said with a chuckle. "You got tickets?"
"Well, I could print some out, I get as many as ten guests and my parents will be out of town for the month. So, if you guys want."
"I-I'm going," Naoto said.
"This sounds awesome!" Gamo-chan said.
"Hm, hm, hm, I'll be there. My boyfriend can come, right?" Sakura asked and the natural blonde nodded. "Actually, I'm curious, Naruto-kun, who does your hair? That color is so perfect!"
"N-No, Naruto's hair is naturally blonde," Naoto explained and Yoshi, Sakura, and Gamo-chan balked.
"No way!" The orangette said as she came over and spread the follicles on his noggin to see nothing but yellow at the roots! "Dude, that's not fair!"
"Hehe, being honest, I'm part Italian and American as well as being Japanese," he explained as the others blinked while Naoto nodded.
"Um, yes?" Naruto said unsurely to the brightly-haired one. "Half Japanese, quarter everything else."
"Hm, hm, exotic," Sakura said with a pleased smile that the four found unsettling. "Then, you must have flown all over."
"Eh, I mean, kinda, heh. I've been to the good ol' Big Apple."
"America!" Yoshi declared with a big grin. "The place where all the different types meet!"
"Yep and I've been to Sicily in Italy."
"Damn, what kind of food do they get besides spaghetti and meatballs?" Gamo-chan asked as she messed with his hair. 'It's way too soft,' this wasn't fair!
"Well, there's the risotto, gelato, lasagna, ossobuco alla milanese."
"What?" The girls blinked.
"It's a dish," Naoto explained. "H-His mom will typically share some with us. It's a deer-based food."
"Whoa, so, paisen, you've been eating good!" Yoshi said and Naoto chuckled nervously.
"Honestly, I've tried making it and it's hard," he said as Gamo-chan looked curious. "Thankfully, Kushina-obaa-san shared her take on it with me."
"Hey, pass that here," the bright-haired girl said as she reached for his phone. "Let me look at that."
Naruto snorted before pulling out his phone and going to his files. "There, better?" He said as he showed her his screen.
"Hmm… Man, wine, you guys gettin' crunk up at your houses?"
"I-It's not like that!" Naoto mumbled.
"Hehe, just joshing ya, I've had to use wine for cooking, too. Not even a fan of the stuff outside of it."
"You cook?" Naruto asked and she grinned smugly.
"And she's so proud," Yoshi noted as Sakura smirked, eyes reflecting the blonde and orangette.
'Hm, hm, hm, hm, well, well, good chemistry,' she thought with excitement. "Hmm! Then, tomorrow, we should all eat in the Art club room when you guys are drawing!"
"E-Eh?!" Naoto choked while Hayacchi grinned widely.
"I like where this is going!" She said as Naruto chuckled nervously.
"Well… I'm not against it."
"Then we're set!" Gamo-chan said as she finished doing the small braid down to the side of his head, confusing him. "... yeah, that's good!" She said, framing his face with a football goal post-like gesture with her hands. 'I think I did too good,' she thought with a slight blush.
And then he grinned and she choked.
'TOO GOOD!' She couldn't do this that much more.
Her heart couldn't take it! How was he both cute and hot at the same time?!
"I have too much power," she said, looking at her devious hands.
Sakura smirked with a raised brow. "That so?" Maki jumped before blushing further.
"D-Don't get any ideas."
She didn't believe her. "Then, we'll meet up tomorrow after school in the Art room."
"I'm all in." Naruto.
"Of course~" Damn that Sakura.
"... F-Fine, fine, God, I hope this goes well." Their resident nerd, Naoto.
"Good! I've got a recipe to try!" Maki said with a grin before grabbing her bag and saluting the group. "Later!"
"Then I'll leave, too," Sakura said as she got up. "I've had to hold off on a date and I'm in need of my snookums!" She declared before skipping away.
"... U-Um," Yoshi blinked in confusion. "Well… I'll head out!" She said before rushing away.
"Hmph, I guess we've got a weird day ahead of us, Nao-shi," Naruto said as Naoto nodded, adjusting his glasses.
"This will be… new."
"What's that supposed to mean?" Hayacchi asked as both rubbed the back of their heads. "... Hmph! Later, Gross Bros," she said with a grin as she walked off.
"Bye, ya pervert!" Naruto said back at her and Naoto chuckled a bit as the girl froze in horror.
Her return was swift. "It's Hayacchi!" She shouted to the blonde who smirked before pointing at Naoto who flinched. "And for you, it's 'Nagatoro'!"
The now revealed 'Nagatoro' ran off, leaving the two boys to blink.
The following morning, Naoto yawned into his hand, back in school uniform as he walked down the street. He carried his usual art and school bags but had another one on his back.
'Naruto didn't wake me up like usual, he must have slept in,' he thought, never noticing the dark figure behind him. 'Well, I hope he can bring something, I brought this-'
Naruto Uzumaki considered the sandwiches he'd made before packing them away, in his 'custom' uniform.
"I hope they don't expect some sort of cooking master," he said to himself, packing away the omelet sandwiches that were filled with cheese, turkey bacon, and tomatoes. "... Hold on, who's by the do-"
The doorbell rang and the boy blinked before he went over to it from the kitchen, passing the living room and a staircase to the next level of his home, and answered it.
"Yo… Oh, hey, Gamo-chan," the blonde said as the orangette blinked with a slight blush, both from how easily he said her nickname and the fact that he kept the braid. "I'm surprised to see you here. I'm pretty sure I overslept."
"Ya did but I've got an empty class for my first one," she said with a chuckle. "I figured I'd come to this place to see what the Legendary Gangster is about."
"That's your title," she said, showing him her phone and the article she'd had on it.
"... These guys have way too much time on their hands."
"Alright, well, I'm about to go but come on in. No one but me is home, anyway," he said, leaving the door open for her.
Maki hummed before coming through and closing the door behind her, taking off her shoes as she entered his home. "Your 'rents go away often?" She asked, taking a seat in the living room.
It was a decently large square area with a Large Flat-Screen TV by the wall of the front door. It was bordered by two long couches with one recliner and had a decently large carpet on the floor but most of the ground floor was made up of wooden panels, giving the place a homely kind of aesthetic.
The kitchen was open and one walking pathway, on both sides, separated from the other parts of the home, taking up a good-sized corner of the first floor.
"Nah, this month was supposed to happen earlier but they got held up at the government building," he said, surprising her. "Oh, yeah, my parents are agents," Naruto elaborated as Gamo-chan's mouth fell.
"Hold on, you're fam's with the feds?!"
"Dude, that's crazy!" So some high-class kid was at Kaza High?! "So, wait, you're not, like, super loaded, are ya?"
"Well, not really, but my parents don't have debt, so," Naruto shrugged and she let out a breath of relief. "We just don't buy much stuff. My mom makes our clothes and I can typically fix up our appliances and stuff that breaks. Add on that my dad's a wiz with computer stuff and we're pretty good."
What were they, a family of specialists?
"That's crazy," she said as he chuckled in the kitchen.
"What about you? You have crazy family secrets?"
"I'm from the Yakuza," she said straightforwardly and the 'UWAH!?' from the kitchen got a snicker out of him. "I kid, I kid… mostly."
"And that means?" Naruto asked.
"Well… all I know is that my old man's dad used to be a big shot but gave it up when my dad was born. He handed the group over to somebody and cut himself out of it. He visits sometimes," she said with a chuckle. "Old man Saru's not exactly small-time, he because a politician, but he's probably the best grandfather I've ever had."
'Saru?' That was odd to him.
Old man Saru… that tasted right on his tongue.
"Well, I'm glad, I did notice you can sit kind of weird sometimes," he said as she blinked, letting her head hang back over his couch's back edge to see him chuckling. "Not just that, of your friends, you're, like, the only one who wears their uniform the right way."
His eyes widened. "Whoa, hold on, how could you notice that? Well, I mean, when did you notice?" She asked because he was observant as hell.
Was this what an agent's son was like?
"Well, it was when we first met," Naruto said as she gasped. "Yeah, it's hard not to notice that Nagatoro was short and hers was untucked. Yoshi's was all forms of wack and Sakura… Sakura tried," he said with some thought as Maki snickered.
"But I'm prim and proper."
"I bet your old man put super manners into you."
"Hehehe, you'd be right!" She said. "He always said that it showed status and stuff but I think he just liked watching me suffer."
"Hmph," the blonde chuckled before lifting his bags. "Come on, I've got everything ready," he said before looking at the big backpack she'd brought. "You get that recipe right?"
"Yup! It took some time and I didn't have the right wine," she said with a smirk. "But I think I did it."
"Can't wait to try it!"
"Well, come on. The faster we get there, the faster we can hide this in the Art club room fridge."
They left as soon as he locked up, walking down the street with their bags over their shoulders.
Naoto grunted as he and his… aggressor, made it to the school.
"Hehe~ Let me see if the others are around to back me up," Nagatoro said with a widening grin. "Hm, hm, hm… Eh?" She blinked at the response she'd gotten from one of her texts to Gamo-chan.
Me and Naru are on the way, just wait by the front, alright?
"What's she doing with your buddy-buddy?" She asked Naoto who blinked.
"She's with Naruto? Wait, who?"
"... The orange one!" Naoto remembered as Nagatoro snickered. "But… Why is she with Naruto?"
"... I don't know," Nagatoro realized with some confusion. 'When the hell did you get to his house?' She wondered with a growing blush before the sound of waving and greetings reached their ears.
"Sup!" Came Yoshi's greeting as she and Sakura came to a stop by the waiting two, large bento box-sized wrapped boxes in their handkerchiefs. "Hiya, Paisen!"
"H-Hi," he said as she sniffed the air before coming around to his side. "Yes?" Naoto asked before she grinned at his 'food' bag. "Oh, yeah, tell me what you made!"
"U-Um, well, I figured since you all never had it before, and Naruto's not much of a cook, I made risotto," he answered with a smile and the girl took a deep sniff before shivering at the smell.
"C-Can I have some right now?!"
"What?! No! We've gotta wait," the glasses-wearing boy said before she lunged at him, holding onto his back. "F-For the love of! No! Wait-!"
Then the girl froze at the feeling of something ominous behind her and jumped off while shivering.
"... Hmph," Nagatoro huffed before prodding her senpai. "I bet you loved that."
Sakura simply smiled as she took ten pictures of the entire event.
'This is good material,' she said with a chuckle, prepared to put her phone away… before she saw something amazing. 'No, this IS AMAZING!' Sakura thought with no shame as she held her phone out and snapped a dozen pictures!
Of what you might ask? Oh, nothing more than her normally 'strong' friend, Gamo-chan, blushing like an idiot as Naruto carried her on his back to the school.
The boy came to a screeching halt before chuckling as she grumbled a bit.
"I told you I was fine," she mumbled.
"And I told you that we'd be late and I don't want to be the reason," he said before grinning at the others. "Sup!" The blonde said as he came over, a large suitcase full of their things. "Sorry, I slept in and Gamo-chan came by so I was the reason we were late."
"... Okay…" Naoto said slowly with a raised brow, Nagatoro following suit. "... So, you carried her all the way here?"
"T-That's not what happened," Maki said with a blush. "W-We were making good time, he just couldn't help himself," she tried to regain her composure with the joke, maybe make the blonde feel embarrassed… but it wasn't working.
"Once again, we'd be late."
"Why are you so dense?"
"I think it's genetic."
"Yeah, a mutation," Maki said with a huff before patting his shoulder. "Alright, let me down, let me down. Unless you want me to be late."
"Right, my bad," Naruto said as he crouched with everything in tow, letting her off. "But, man, either you workout or you have a killer metabolism because I didn't feel a thing!" He said with a hearty chuckle.
Completely ignore to the mental state he'd just put Maki in.
'W-Whoa! Slow down there, big boy, what's with the compliment?!' Or was he that type of idiot? '... I-It's been a while since a boy gave me a compliment.'
Wasn't the last time in early middle school?
Then she heard a shutter and froze, mechanically turning her head to see Sakura and Yoshi with their phones out.
Her face went bright red. "Y-You guys?!"
"Hmph, so, we should probably go inside the Art club room before it's too late," Naruto said with a grin as he walked towards the school. "I think I remember."
So, as he walked off, Nagatoro and Naoto were left there, stunned, by the amount of idiocy on display.
"... I-I thought that only happened in manga," Naoto realized in disbelief as Nagatoro's mouth dropped. "I-Is this still real life?" He asked in shock and awe.
"I-Is he a perverted idiot?!" Nagatoro asked him in total confusion. "Tell me! Is he an idiot?!"
"I-I… I know he calls himself one but this is ridiculous!"
"That dumb blonde!"
Naruto blinked when, come lunchtime, Naoto shot him a look of total bafflement.
Eating his ramen, something the other boy had clearly seen him do before, the blonde was left baffled himself.
Then several trays landed next to the two, leaving both to turn and see the Gyaru Gals, as Naruto started calling them, sitting down.
Nagatoro by Naoto followed by Yoshi while Maki sat next to him with Sakura at her side.
The carrot top cursed in her head. 'Why am I being so weird about this?' It was a single compliment!
Sure, it'd was very nice to be told she was weightless to a cute guy, especially one she knew was fitter than herself.
But come on, she wasn't some lovedumb idiot! She had class! As her grandpa said.
No person is worth just a first look, especially if they're someone you like!
"Ugh," she held her head under her hands and groaned.
"You alright?" Naruto asked and she groaned louder, getting a nervous grin out of him. "I'll take that as a no."
"She's fine, just indecisive, senpai," Sakura said and Naruto snorted.
"About nothing!" Maki said as her head snapped up and she glared at the grinning Sakura. "Nothing is wrong, I'm just not feeling too hot."
"What, you got a fever?" Naruto asked as her eyebrow twitched. "Might want to go to the nurse then."
"That's helpful but, uh, no thanks," she waved it off before eating her food. "Mmm… Mmgrrmmmm," Maki mumbled as she ate aggressively.
"Hmph… Hehe~" Nagatoro grinned slyly as Maki was mid-bite.
Lighting! 'What the hell is she doing, looking like that?' Gamo-chan put down her spork for safety. "... Come on, out with it, you're gonna explode like that."
"It's nothing~ I'm just thinking… should we do nude modeling?"
Naruto choked on his juice as Naoto slammed his fist into his chest. All the while, Maki's eyebrow twitched as a volcano erupted in her head.
"What?!" The three shouted at her and the little devil girl smiled smugly.
"Well, I mean, we've gotta stimulate the boys, Gamo-chan…" She whispered with slightly red cheeks herself but her focus was on. "Why, senpai over there is probably drooling at the idea."
"Can you not, you shameless little pervert?" Naruto uttered with contempt as Nagatoro gaped at him.
"I am not."
"B-But you're the one who keeps coming up with this stuff," Naoto mumbled but her gaze went to him. "H-H-ieee?!"
"I see, I see, the nerd's getting a backbone is he?" She asked dangerously as Naruto snorted while Maki chuckled shakily.
"R-Right, are you sure you're not trying to say something, Nagacchi?" The carrot top asked and a dark aura formed over the small girl.
"I told you I hate that nickname."
"Heee~" Gamo-chan smirked, groove back. "Well, don't blame us when we call you out for your crap."
"My crap, alright, I see you," she said with a sadistic grin as Maki looked at her oddly. "Hey, Naruto-senpai, did you know that Gamo-chan was lying when she said she didn't have a fever?" Nagatoro grinned as Naruto frowned and Maki paled.
"W-Wait, no, she's a liar!" She said as the boy stood up and she jumped out of her seat to step back. "D-Don't you dare, Naruto! I'll kill you! They'll never find your body-Eeeeeeey!"
The boy was quicker than she imagined, lunging at her and literally sweeping her off her feet in two seconds before he caught her in his arms.
"Alright, guys, I'll take her to the nurse's office," he said calmly as he walked away with a girl in his arms, leaving the entire lunch hall to gawk at him.
Sans one Nagatoro, who was cackling maniacally.
"Hahahaha! I have a weakness to exploit!" She said in victory before her gaze turned on Naoto who flinched before sweating bullets. "Hey, paisen?"
"I-I should probably-" He tried to get up, hands on the table, but another pair slammed down on his own, leaving him trapped. "W-Wait, N-Naga-Eeeeeeeee!" Naoto shrieked as one of her hands slipped off before going for his armpit.
Yoshi blushed at the sheer audacity of her friends!
"S-Saku-chan, I'm lost!" She said quietly but Sakura merely grinned, patting her shoulder. "E-Eh?"
"Everything's going according to plan, Yo-chan, trust me," Sakura said as she crossed on an item on her list on phone before closing it. "All of it."
Naruto rubbed the back of his head after Maki smacked it, the girl with her arms crossed and the boy with his hands now raised in surrender.
"Hmph, you're an idiot, baka!" She grumbled at him, face red but full of distaste. 'Fucking, Hayase!' Maki was going to ream that little hobgoblin when she got the chance! 'And now I'm feeling all freaking weird because he cared!'
Sure, he was an idiot for falling for Nagatoro's words but Naruto had seemingly been concerned before and Nagatoro had picked up on it, using it to her advantage.
"Ugh," okay, yeah, she felt a bit bad for hitting him. "Alright, alright, damn, I'm sorry I hit you," she admitted as he looked up at her with bright blue eyes. 'This guy is gonna drive me insane.'
Don't look at her like that! The joy that sprung to Naruto's face had her blushing like a goddamn idiot!
"Well, I don't think you should be the one to say 'sorry'," he said, taking the blame as she huffed.
"You're right, I'm gonna wring that little gremlin's neck!" She said with a wide grin. "... Hm, hm, hm, hm!"
He sweatdropped. 'I seriously don't understand girls,' that'd always been an issue in his past life.
He'd simply never expected to have to deal with it in his second one. Dammit, Ashura and your reincarnation bullshit.
Seeing a vending machine down the way, he perked up.
"Alright, we're both sorry, wanna get a drink to apologize over?" He asked her and she blinked before humming. "My treat."
"... Damn, you drive a hard bargain," she said with a smirk before pointing dramatically. "Lead the way, Naruto-senpai!"
"Hmph, alright!" He grinned as he ran off. "Oh, you can just call me 'Naruto', by the way!" Naruto told her before skidding to the machine, never seeing how Maki froze.
Her cheeks reddened. 'Stop landing these criticals, man!' Maki seriously didn't get it.
Who was this stupidly charismatic and didn't know it!?
"Alright, gotcha black coffee," he said as he tossed her the cool can. "I'm an orange juice person myself."
She looked down at the drink before shrugging and popping its top.
Maki would deal with it one of these days.
The end of the school day came quickly, leaving the group to congregate in the Art club room.
"Alright, buds and troublesome buddies," Maki said as they placed all their wrapped bags on a borrowed foldable table. "Lay 'em out on the table!"
Naruto snorted as he and Naoto put theirs down. "Dramatic much?"
"It's a gift."
Nagatoro grinned widely as she put down a pot while Yoshi put down an aluminum-foil-covered plate and Sakura brought them all drinks, two per person.
"Hmm, let's go around the table," Sakura said with a grin before looking at Naruto. "Naruto-senpai, you're first."
The blonde chuckled. "I can't really cook so I just made some omelet sandwiches, yeah?" He said, opening his wrap to show a large Tupperware container with half-cut sandwiches.
"Nice!" Yoshi said with excitement. "Mmm! Nothing's as simple, and good, as eggs!" She declared before opening her wrapped container. "And, well, I made little octopus sausages!"
The group saw her plate full of the happy-looking octopods, Gamo-chan snickering at some of the derpy faces on them.
"I'm liking it, I'm liking it," the carrot top said before sneering at Nagatoro who looked smugger than the smuggest little pringle. "Show it, you little hobgoblin."
"Nice try," Nagatoro said before revealing her small pot full of rice porridge. "I've got some good ol' rice porridge. It's got chicken stock and some potatoes in it," she said proudly. "It's a killer mix in my house."
"Heh," Naoto rubbed his head. "Your turn-"
"Nah, paisen, you go next, I have to go last," Gamo-chan said with a shooing motion.
He raised a brow before shrugging. "Well, I made risotto, Naruto," the taller boy said as he revealed it. "I-It's also got chicken stock but also has vegetables in it, think of it like an inside-out pot pie."
"Hell yes!" The blonde cheered with double thumbs-ups. "Let's see if you can't beat that, Gamo-chan."
She flushed a bit but Maki grinned as she unwrapped her medium-sized ceramic container. "You're damn right I will!" She said before picking up the lid. "Feast your eyes on majesty, bitches!"
Naruto's mouth dropped as his nose smelled it. "Oh… Oh no, my one weakness! And it's done well!" He shrieked in horror as the carrot top grinned like she'd won the lottery.
"Yup! Took about five tries but I got it down, me thinks," she said. "Now, it's time for our taste test contest!" Maki said with a fire in her eyes as Nagatoro's eyes widened and she squeaked.
"Should have known you'd have this coming, ya gremlin!"
The girl looked horrified. "I can make my way through this, you gorilla woman! Trust me, I've got this!" Is what she said but she panicked. 'Damn that gorilla woman!' She had to lock in her votes!
She took one look at Naruto… and slumped. 'I'm not grabbing his vote any time soon,' the boy was too upright which was annoying knowing the rumors about! 'Then I've gotta lock in paisen,' that should be easy… Wait. "Hold on, who's getting involved?"
"All of us, of course," Maki said with a chuckle. "Paisen and Naruto worked way too hard for this."
"Ehhh, you could count me out, I'm not exactly cooking like you guys are," Naruto said but the carrot top chuckled.
"Nah, you had to cook those eggs, it counts."
"... Alright, let's see how I do!"
Her chances were tanking!
"Hm, hm, well, I'll stay out of this then. It'll be fair with the five of you," Sakura said, secretly recording it all. 'Yes, my Love Stories are going to be amazing!'
Watching these two pairings made her life so exciting!
"Alright, who's gonna test the food first?" Naruto asked and Gamo-chan grinned.
"It's gotta be you, then, since it was you who sparked this idea," she said and he chuckled before nodding.
"Alright, what's-" Gamo-chan smirked, stopping him as she had a spatula and knife in both hands. "Okay then."
She served him some of the dish before Yoshi brought over paper plates and plastic sporks.
"Double it up," Maki said and the pigtailed girl nodded before a good bit of the food was given to him, Yoshi giving Naruto the plate. "Alright, plate up. We had to warm it up in the microwave, unfortunately, but it should be good still."
He nodded before taking off a piece of the deer with a decent amount of ease. "It's so tender," he realized as Maki snickered. "Alright," Naruto popped the serving into his mouth. "Hmm…?!" His eyes widened before he swallowed.
They all waited with bated breath.
"It's so freaking good! What the hell?!"
"Hell yes!" The brightly-haired girl fistpumped. "That's high praise from the Italian!"
Nagatoro's eyebrow twitched before she rushed forward only to reconsider it.
Gamo-chan → Senpai → Her → WIN!
Her eyes shined and she slid over to Naoto.
"You're up, senpai!" She said and he jumped in confusion.
"E-Eh?" He blinked before rubbing the back of his head. "A-Alright, though it probably doesn't compare."
"Nah, bro, your cooking is also top-notch," Naruto said as he finished his food, shocking Maki whose head snapped to his empty plate. "You should try, too, Gamo-chan, see how he compares."
Maki hummed in interest. "That's praise from Naruto, that's not easy to shake off."
Naoto blushed, adjusting his glasses, before bringing his container over, the contents appealing in a macaroni and cheese kind of way.
Sharing Naruto out a portion, he went for another plate only for Maki to ignore it.
Taking the blonde sophomore's spork, she ate some of the food. "...?!" Her eyes widened in disbelief. "Holy hell, he was right! You've got the perfect consistency when it comes to risotto… wait, there's a slight sweetness in it… apples?!" Maki's eyes widened as the tallest in the room chuckled.
"Y-Yeah, it's like apple zest. Using the skin, I just ground a bit of it in to add a refreshing taste, like a mini palette cleanser."
"That's genius!" She said as Naruto chuckled.
"My spork, please."
"Oh, right, here ya go," she said with zero awareness, Sakura grinning behind her cameras, taking it away from the two before Gamo-chan found out. "Dude, that's impressive."
"I always liked cooking," Naoto said as Naruto took a bite.
"Mmm! Dammit, I have to choose," the blonde said in horror as he looked back and forth between the two dishes. "... Risotto… Occo… Gaahhhh! Dammit, Nao-shi, I've gotta be honest. Gamo-chan's was my favorite!"
"Hmph, I don't hold it against you, that's literally your favorite food," Naoto said with a chuckle. "It's fine, I'm glad I got your consideration even after that."
"Yea, his food's scary," Maki said before grinning aggressively as she looked at Nagatoro. "Man, what's less than second-place feel like?"
Nagatoro's hackles raised before she brought her food forward. "Now, time for mine! I'm sure it'll blow that gorilla woman's food out of the water!"
He hummed before trying it. "... I'm sorry but, uh, nice third place?"
She collapsed in defeat even as Naoto tried to assuage her.
He looked at her rice porridge before taking some for himself.
"Hmm… T-This isn't bad, you know?" He said as she shot him a look of despair. "T-That is, you clearly put an effort into this, it's got a good texture and I bet you let the chicken broth salt it, right?"
"Then it should be fine!" He said with as much confidence as he could muster, Naruto throwing a thumbs-up from behind. 'Be confident! Be confident!'
Then the girl performed some form of parlor trick as she snapped up from the floor back onto her feet like some sort of zombie… or M**heal J***son impersonator!
"... Huehue, senpai… that was super gross!" Nagatoro said as he choked, holding his heart. "Hahahaha!" She wiped a tear from her eye. "You described it so professionally, I almost forgot you were senpai! That's so WEIRD!"
As the two performed, Naruto held his spork in his mouth as Maki leaned onto his chair.
"They don't see it at all, do they?" She asked.
"Not a bit," he answered. "Hmph but, seriously, yours was, like, easily as good as my mom's and that's scary," Naruto said as she snickered. "You'll definitely make some lucky guy extremely happy one day, I can guarantee that."
Maki's mouth struggled to not split into a grin. 'Dammit! Dammit! Dammit! Dammit!' Stop saying that cheesy crap so easily!
She was completely weak to it coming from you!
"H-Haha, yeah, well, I'm kind of rough around the edges, I'd say," she said with a finger scratching her cheek. "I mean, the last time I even got a guy's attention was probably the first year of middle school."
"Huh? That's weird," he said, looking up at her with those powerful eyes of his. "You're an amazing cook, super cool, you clearly care about the people around you, and you provide support for your friends and I'd bet family, who the hell wouldn't approach you?"
Her mouth set into a grin without any of her input as her cheeks erupted into a red color.
"H-Hah? I-I mean, that's nice to say but I, uh," she was flubbing it!
H-How?! How had he done this to her in two days?!
"And, despite what Hayacchi says, I know she'd beat the hell out of anyone who called you 'gorilla woman'," he continued, not aware of his obvious effect on her. "Hell, I would too! No one says that to my friends, especially not ones who don't deserve it!"
Dammit, she was blushing like an idiot, wasn't she?!
She covered her face as she chuckled, removing her hand to reveal a refreshed expression. "Hehe, you know how to lay it on thick," her last line of defense-
"What do you mean? You deserved to be treated better."
Nope, there it went! Her defenses had been officially trampled!
Her face went neon red and she pawed at her bangs, trying to hide her embarrassment.
Naruto blinked as he saw it.
Her expression, the red on her face, and the way her mouth wobbled in that grin of hers.
"... Cute…" He whispered and she froze as he burned bright red before squawking. "Curenacea! You know, like in the Stories By series!" Naruto recovered as best as he could!
What the hell was that?! How'd he let himself say that without a thought?!
"O-Oh, right, yeah, that!" Maki said as her heart nearly broke out of her chest. 'Fuck!' H-He really just called her cute?!
From the other end of the table, Sakura's mouth set in a smug smirk as she donned a dark aura, phone recording it all.
With everyone calming down, Naruto and Maki doing their best to return to normalcy, the blonde ate everyone's food before giving them the obvious results.
"Whew!" He let out a breath as he pat his stomach. "Man, I am full!" Naruto said with a chuckle, laying down on the couch the two girls had originally brought before kipping up over its back. "Gotta work this off!" He declared as the others ate.
Maki watched as he removed his jacket before tossing it into the air. "?" She blinked in confusion before he took a boxing stance. "What-?"
The article of clothing fell to his eye level and a jab that took her breath away erupted right beneath it, causing it to flutter in the air.
Several follow-up jabs kept it afloat as the others watched as well.
A cross, overhead, high kick, and roundhouse kick kept the act going as the blonde seemed to blur to the other side of his floating jacket.
"Air Pressure Training," Naoto said for them, Maki blinking at him. "T-That's what he calls it. He'll usually use a bunch of leaves or clothes and keep them afloat with a series of combos."
"Yep!" Naruto said as he stopped for a moment, jacket falling below his waist. "It's focus!" He swept beneath it before kicking at it and stopping short, the jacket going up again as he threw several haymakers to keep it at head height. "I've gained the speed but I need the power!" Naruto emphasized by releasing a straight cross that caused his jacket to float for a moment.
"Those jabs… Naruto, those were incredible!" Maki said in shock as Nagatoro looked on, eyes… unfocused.
Naoto blinked at her and raised a hand before lowering it.
He had a feeling this wasn't the right time.
"Thanks," he said as he snatched his coat up before Maki grinned and came forward. "You want a go, too?"
"Hell yes!" She announced and he chuckled, handing her his coat. "Hmm… It's decently heavy," Maki said and Naruto blinked before chuckling nervously.
"Oh, uh, I get it customized to look the same but it's not the normal school uniform. This one's thicker so it's also heavier. Here, a paper from one of our easels," he said, throwing the paper into the air.
Maki chuckled before donning the coat and taking up a stance.
The paper reached her eye level and a cross caused it to float for a moment.
She threw out several jabs that barely got it staying above but it went off target!
Maki kicked out but nearly fell, Naruto's hand grabbing her arm before she did.
"Easy, easy, this isn't as easy as it looks," he said with a smile as she rubbed the back of her head.
"How'd you get it to stay online like that?" She asked, rolling her shoulders. 'This is the difference between a man and woman,' Maki thought as she felt the weight this thing had on her shoulders, draping over them with more space than her back could provide. 'Powerful broad shoulders…'
"Well, I also meditate a lot," he said and she blinked along with her Gyaru Gang, as she liked calling them. "Through that, I've achieved perfect balance and stillness. This is what also helps me paint still things so well, I think."
"What's he on about?" Nagatoro asked Naoto who rubbed the back of his head before adjusting his glasses.
"Naruto's training of his mind is… well, for lack of a better word, very anime-esque," he said with a nervous smile. "Though, I can't say it hasn't shown results."
Naruto grinned before picking up a small paintbrush off one of their easels.
"Watch," he said as flipped it on his finger before allowing it to hit the floor.
Maki had been watching, waiting for the punchline, only for a body to blur past her…?!
Her mouth dropped along with the other girls as the blonde used one finger to hold himself up on the tip, his other arm held behind his back.
"What the what?!" She gaped at him as he chuckled, holding perfectly still. "Eh?!"
"I told you, didn't I?" Naruto said with a chuckle as the others came over. "Through tons of meditation, I have literal perfect balance. I wasn't joking."
Maki couldn't believe him. She wouldn't let it be!
"..." She poked him in the stomach and he trembled, her mouth widening into a depraved grin.
"H-Hey, now! Let's not do that, alright?!" Naruto pleaded but she chuckled, crossing her arms and looking more like a yakuza than he ever did a delinquent. 'Why is she being scary now of all times?!'
"Tickle tickle~" Yoshi copied and the boy began to fold.
"O-Okay, I'm gonna-ACK!?" He said only for a single, soft, poke at his side had his wiggling. "Stop! I beg of you!"
"We don't get his weakness often enough! We have to do this!" Maki said with a grin as she poked him in the stomach. 'Yup, he is firm as hell,' well, a little 'extra' for her!
The two poked him to no end and, quickly after, the blonde laid on the floor, defeated as Maki stood above him, looking triumphant.
Then she remembered that she was wearing his coat and hummed as she adjusted it on her shoulder, buttoning up the middle. "Yep, way too big," she said with a snicker, looking at herself in a mirror. "Ya know, I kind of look like a stereotypical kung-fu guy," Gamo-chan said with a flex before a figure appeared in the mirror. "AAAAHHH!" She tried to get away but it was too late, powerful arms wrapped around her waist and she was trapped.
"That wasn't nice." He said from behind her and she paled.
"W-Wait, Naru, buddy, friendo… we don't have to do t-"
A single, purposeful, poke had her sides nearly leaving orbit.
"Aaaaahahhh!" She jumped before he turned around and Maki paled as Nagatoro's eyes gained a fiendish glint, the short girl standing up and stalking over.
"Hold her right there~"
They didn't, descending on her like a bunch of tickly hyenas!
The two shook hands as their friend laid on the couch, defeat filling the air above her.
"M-My maidenness," Maki moaned, crocodile tears down her face. "M-My vulnerability!"
Naoto chuckled along with Yoshi as Sakura grinned, taking a photo.
"You ask for so much trouble, we might think you ask for it," she said and orange eyes peeked out from similar-colored locks.
As the group walked home, the group realized something.
"We didn't draw again, did we?" Naruto asked Naoto, whose eyebrow twitched.
"No, we didn't," he uttered with a twitching brow.
"W-Well…" Maki chuckled nervously, some red on her cheeks. "Time flies when you're having fun, right?"
"Well actually go to the roof tomorrow," Sakura said with not a hint of her ulterior motives on display. 'Things are going well!' She was sure that she'd nab a few good pictures tomorrow!
"Hmph, I'm ready for anything," Nagatoro said as Yoshi copied her.
"Anything," she said.
"... It wasn't so bad today, I guess," Naoto said as Naruto chuckled.
"It wasn't and we're, what, a bit into high school? I have a feeling things are gonna be fun this year."
Gamo-chan rubbed the back of her head with a grin.
"Mmmm, I'll split off from here," Sakura said as she jabbed a thumb at the house next to them, this is mine."
"Wait, what?" Naoto blinked before pointing down the road. "I-I live maybe a few blocks down on the left."
"I'm ahead two blocks," Nagatoro said with a grin. "So, we're close, senpai~"
"N-Not that close," he said, adjusting his glasses.
"I live down to the right," Yoshi said. "My place is three blocks away."
"I'm down to the far left," Naruto and Maki said in unison before blinking at one another. "Oh, right."
"They share a brain cell," Sakura teased as Naoto smiled a bit. "Well, well, you should probably walk her home, Naru-senpai."
Maki rolled her eyes… before squawking as Naruto nodded.
"I was gonna do that anyway," he said with no tact whatsoever, the group examining him, again, for where this ignorance of his came from. "... What?" Naruto asked with a cough.
"... Don't become like him, senpai," Nagatoro said to Naoto who chuckled nervously.
"I'm not sure if that's easy to do."
The group separated, Nagatoro going straight, Sakura staying at her house, Yoshi going to the right, and the trio of Naruto, Maki, and Naoto going left.
As the three walked, Gamo-chan grinned at the edge of the sidewalk.
"So, I'm curious, when did you two meet?" She asked as the boys hummed.
"First year, about a month in," Naruto said with a chuckle as Naoto wore a small smile.
"I was getting b-bullied," he admitted as Maki frowned.
"That ain't cool," she said and he looked surprised. "... O-Okay, I know how that sounds to you, from me of all people. But, trust me, I know my boundaries, promise."
"Hehe, I figured, Gamo-chan's a pretty good person," Naruto said with a chuckle as the girl blushed a bit, scratching her cheek with a finger.
'This scenario is getting more-' Naoto was thinking only for his phone to ring. "What?" He took it out and opened it to see… Oh. 'Right, we exchanged n-numbers,' like friends did.
… O-Or those in relationships but he wasn't thinking about that!
It was a text and he sweatdropped at Nagatoro's avid use of custom emojis. 'What is she on…?' He blinked at a question.
Are they being lovey-dovey again?
He snuck a look at the two bright-haired teens before answering.
Yes, it's scary how textbook this is.
Haa! I knew it! They couldn't control themselves the moment they have more privacy!
Naoto chuckled a bit at that before humming.
Did you get home okay?
… Duh, unlike some people, I can RUN!
He scoffed softly, adjusting his glasses.
There's no hurry to your house, is there?
I've gotta clean-up, unlike some people! I like being clean.
… That was mean.
"Yo, Naoto," he blinked before looking up to see Naruto's raised brow. "Dude, we're at your house."
Naoto jumped before blushing as he adjusted his glasses, looking to see that, yes, they were at his home.
"S-Sorry, I was distracted."
"Hmm?~" Maki grinned slyly. "It was something interesting on yer phone, yeah?"
"U-Um! Well, I mean, I was looking at the price of some art supplies," he lied. "I was just admiring the far more expensive stuff before realizing how broke that'd make me."
"Heh, I guess every hobby would have stuff like that," she said with a hum, arms crossed.
"Wait, I'm curious, Gamo-chan, what club are you in?" Naruto asked.
"Oh? Well, I kind of just quit," she said with a nervous chuckle. "I'm gonna have to find a new one, soon, or they'll have me do something I won't want."
"Hmm… Why not join the Cooking club?" Naruto suggested with a grin as she chuckled.
"I like cooking, I do, but I wouldn't want to do it as a club… Or, really, I don't want people potentially forcing me to cook."
"..." Naoto looked down in thought. "T-Then how about joining the A-Art club?!" He suggested and she blinked at him before grinning.
"Ya know… I think Nao-shi has a point," Maki said with growing enthusiasm. "Yeah! And I could just be a model and stuff!"
"... Wait, that'd be perfect, wouldn't it?" Naruto asked Naoto who blinked before cupping his chin.
"... I-I think you're right," he said. "Well?"
"... Heh, guess you guys got a model!" She declared with pride as Naruto chuckled.
"So, we've got a new member now, talk about luck," the blonde said as Naoto smiled before nodding.
"Alright, I'll see you two tomorrow, I guess," he said with a smile. "Be safe going home."
"We will," Maki said as she and Naruto walked off. "Don't go doing pervy stuff, paisen!"
"T-That's not me!"
Naruto snickered as they walked off. "Man, you guys give him no chances."
"That's not an issue, yeah?"
"As long as no one gets 'hurt' hurt, it's fine, Nao-shi needs more exposure to other people outside of me. There are different kinds of people who, despite how they might seem from first-go, will be amazing friends."
"Kind of like us?"
She smirked at him.
They chattered as they made it down the street before passing the blonde's home and continuing on.
"So… I never told ya, did I? About my family having a boxing gym?" She said unsurely and he blinked.
"Nope, don't remember that," he said with a chuckle. "Think I could swing by and fight some of your students?"
"Yeah, I think you can," she said as they walked past a large building before coming to a stop. "This is the Gamou Gym, home to some pretty decent pros if I say so myself."
"Hmph, I bet," Naruto said as he looked at the place. "It's nice, though, seriously. So, I noticed earlier-"
"You do that a lot about me," Maki said with a snicker.
"I do," he admitted. "But, Gamo-chan, you know martial arts, don't you? I mean, I am looking at your family's gym."
"Hmm, yeah, I know lots about boxing," Gamo-chan said with a hand rubbing the back of her head. "Like, I'd probably have the knowledge, and seen enough fights, to break down a decent part of the circuit… I just don't like the idea of potentially getting my face punched in."
"And so am I~," She said fabulously as he laughed. "Come on, home's not too fa-"
"Hmm?" Came a voice from ahead of them and the two teens blinked as a car rolled up to them. "Maki-kun, this is whe… you… are?!"
The man in the vehicle, an old man, gaped as his mouth dropped.
Naruto's did as well even as his eyes watered a bit. "Sarutobi-jiji?"
Hiruzen Sarutobi blinked in disbelief before chuckling.
"Come on, get in, we have a lot to talk about," the former Third Hokage said with a laugh as Naruto rushed in. "Are you coming?" He asked.
"Gramps… you know Naruto?" Maki asked in disbelief as Hiruzen chuckled.
"It's a long story."
Far longer than she'd ever known.
This has been drumming in my head for the past three months or so.
So, here we are. It's Naoto x Hayase and Naruto x Maki (Otherwise known as Gamo-chan, her full name's Maki Gamou).