Today was the worst day of the year. Today was October 10th, better known by Naruto himself as his birthday or The Fox Hunt by the villagers. A day he hated with every fiber of his being. It was the one day of the whole year that the beatings would be at their highest and at their worst. However, he was sure this year would be different in that he was no longer alone. He now had people who really and truly cared about him. Still, his hope would pale in comparison to what awaited him. About as soon as he had entered his living room he saw a letter sitting atop the table. Upon picking up the letter he saw it was the address to Inoichi's main house atop the hill that he had been told weeks before. Having nothing better to do he soon made his way out the door and up the hill. Opening the door to the house as if it was his, which in some ways was true. He did spend alot of his free time inside the house playing or eating with Ino's family. His own home was more for sleeping or training in the backyard. But it was when he entered the living room that a loud chorus of happy birthday's rung out. Atop the table sat a sizeable cake that Choji was eyeing hungrily. Ino stood in the center of the very crowded room and was singing the loudest out of anybody.
"What's going on here"? Naruto asked eyes wide in total disbelief. In one corner stood the ramen cooks Teuchi and his daughter Ayame who, of course, had ramen cooking on a portable stove off to one side. Naruto taken aback couldn't help but tear up at the sight before him now. A year before he wouldn't have ever dared dream of such a thing. Now, however, he stood amongst a crowd of around 20 people who were all busy laughing and playing or telling idiotic stories. He enjoyed every last second of it as he was pushed and pulled from one thing to the next. Shikamaru, of course, wanted a game of Go. Naruto, of course, accepted the challenge happily, and soon after their rematch began. It wasn't long before a crowd formed around the table and soon bets were being made as to who would win the game. Choji alongside Ino had, of course, picked Naruto to win. A fact that upset the lazy boy greatly but he paid them no mind. He would beat the sun-kissed boy this time of that he was sure.
"You cheated. I don't know how but you cheated"! Shikamaru declared to all in the room. Naruto only eyed the boy before him with a puzzled look.
"How does one cheat at Go"? Naruto asked Shikamaru who could only glare hotly before turning away and disappearing into the kitchen.
"What did I do"? Naruto asked utterly confused at the boy's response.
"Nothing, Naruto-kun. Nothing at all". Ino's mother said before placing a nice big slice of cake before him. Once everybody had eaten the various gifts started to be handed out. First came Inoichi's who had gifted him a picture frame depicting them all together. Ino, of course, being right next to him laughing and smiling all the way. He always liked seeing her smile. Every time he heard her laugh his stomach did flips and he would lose the ability to speak coherently for a few seconds at a time. A fact she was more than happy to point out. The next gift or gifts as it turned out was from Choji who had gifted him a dozen BBQ chips. Family-sized BBQ chips. Naruto, not one to upset anybody much less one of his few friends took the bags and placed them off to one side. The gifts just kept on coming and Naruto kept taking them happily until at long last the sun had long since set and the moon and stars ruled the sky. The many small dots of light dotting the night sky made for a picturesque setting for all who still remained in the house.
"I had a great time today Ino-chan". Naruto said after most of the guests had left for their homes to go to bed. Each of them wishing him a good night as they all left one by one over the past few hours. Choji having to be taken home by his father as he was fast asleep after an eating contest that saw him down fifteen bags of chips, four whole pizzas, and nearly half the food set aside for the day. Naruto, of course, winning by all of one slice of pizza.
"It was nothing really Naruto-kun. I was happy to do it". Ino replied happy to see the boy smile on what she knew was the day he hated the most. His own birthday. The mere thought of hating one's own date of birth was a truly upsetting thought. However, the hug she was soon taken into made her face a deep red color that made her all but forget the sad thought she had just had.
"N...Naruto-kun"? Ino asked worried for the boy upon hearing the boy start to cry.
"Ino-chan I...I". Naruto began before Ino put her arms around the crying boy and held him close.
"Shhh...it's alright. I completely understand...it's fine...everything is fine". Ino said softly as she rubbed his back. It wasn't long only a few minutes in fact that the boy began to pull away. The loss of him in her arms made her feel a great sense of loss for some unknown reason.
"I should go Ino-chan". Naruto said before turning to the door. He had only taken a few steps before Ino turned him around and planted a kiss on his lips. Naruto taken aback by the act moved away from her his eyes wide.
"I...Ino-chan w..why did you do that"? Naruto asked the girl before him. She, in turn, could only utter nonsense that he couldn't make out.
"Ino-chan...are you ok"? Naruto asked moving slowly closer to the girl with a look of worry on his face. Ino did her best to not meet his gaze.
I...I shouldn't have done that I'm sorry". Ino said feeling very stupid for even doing that. No matter how nice his lips felt nor the overpowering sense of happiness upon finally doing it.
"No, it's... I...I liked it..it's just". Naruto began before seeing Ino turn to face him after nearly a full minute of her dodging his gaze.
"Just what Naruto-kun"? Ino's voice held a deep need to know the answer.
"That you liked me. Liked me in that way...Ino-chan". Naruto says rubbing the back of his head in much the same way his father did as a kid. She was about to reply when her father walked back inside the room.
"Naruto-kun you're still here? I would've thought you would be gone by now." Inoichi asked the boy. He had come to clean up after the birthday party and didn't at all expect to still see the birthday boy in the house at this late an hour.
"Yeah, Inoichi-san I was just talking to Ino-chan but I should be going. It's getting kind of late but thank you again. I had a great time today". Naruto said before departing the home. As soon as the door had closed behind him Ino eyed her father with utter hate in her eyes before walking out of the room not once looking at her father. Inoichi all the while was at a loss.
"What the hell did I do". He said to himself.