Notes: These shorts were once posted up on my Dreamwidth journal and now they're coming together in a little collection here.

First off is an extra I typed up that's set after Namie's Christmas visit to her parents' graves but before the main event in chapter 26/Twenty-three while I had writer's block. Not really spoiler-ish. From December 2014.


Snow in Konoha was a rare thing, but only because, if circumstances were appropriate, it only happened once or twice a year in the coldest months of winter and, on occasion, the beginning months of spring.

It was cold. Very cold. Most weren't accustomed to it, as the weather in the Land of Fire tended to be of a more temperate climate at its best and desert sauna hell at its worst. Many of the citizens were severely lacking in their cold weather wardrobes and suffered because of it, either remaining inside, well away from the frost, or simply bearing with the cold when they had business to tend to.

But, despite the level of comfort, it was welcomed.

It was a winter wonderland that brought about an ephemeral change to the village, blanketing rooftops in a soft powder of white and bleaching the three hokages' heads on the cliffside; dusting the streets a glaring pale and piling up in drifts like pillows for the children to play in.

Of course, the pile-up also presented several opportunities for young genin to undertake D-ranked snow-shoveling missions to simultaneously make navigating the streets simpler while also maintaining their duties.

...But not much work could be done when a large group of children gathered around an abundance of snow.

"Take that, you brat!" Namie growled as a handful of dense, packed ice was let loose, aimed precisely at a certain Inuzuka's face—and only managing to narrowly clip him on the chin as he fortunately dodged the assault at the last second. It was a retaliation attack. The boy had been the one to start the festivities by flinging snow everywhere and she was only responding in kind since he'd caught her offguard and did the same some few moments before, numbing her nose.

"Wah, scary! Strawhead, lighten up, okay?!" Toboe griped, sticking his tongue out once he'd regained his balance and rubbed at his face, only feeling a slight sting from the hit.

"Don't call me that." The blonde shook out her hand, scoffing when her snowball missed its mark, and reached down to cobble together a new one. A hand dropping lightly onto her shoulder stopped her mid-action, however, and she glanced up sharply at her orange-haired teammate.

"Namie, we have work to do. Let's not get wrapped up in this now," Kasuga muttered, smiling nervously under the girl's mild glare. But it wasn't as if she could see his smile, and his words were muffled. Much like the others, the medic boy was bundled up in a coat and scarf all the way up to his nose, like an Aburame in any other season, with a puffy hood over the rest of his head. Namie knew he tended to dress up in more layers than the others even in the warmer months—it must have been that he was susceptible to the cold.


Kasuga moved his hand up to to knit, deep-green scarf and pulled it away from his face so that she could better hear him. "Well, wouldn't it be better if we finished up here before playing with everyone?"

There was a sigh from somewhere behind him. "It's still coming down. I don't think we'll make much progress either way." Kakashi held his gloved hand up towards the falling swirl of snow flurries while he leaned against the handle of his shovel, having ceased his own work when it became clear that those of the other team present, as well as his own teammates, were slacking off. He wanted to finish up the mission as soon as possible, too, but there was no way he was going to be the only one to handle the work while the others did nothing.

"The street's pretty much clear anyhow, I mean, look at it," Toboe shrugged, stuffing his hands into his coat pockets. A yip of agreement came from somewhere above his head, under his lumpy, misshapen hood, where Kurocha huddled, safely away from the cool air. His own shovel lay abandoned near his feet, left forgotten in favor of the more fun possibilities of the current weather.

Namie scowled in distaste before sighing and pulling her slightly-misformed knit mitten (a present from Kushina, who'd briefly taken up a knitting hobby that didn't last even if her amateur, poorly-made-but-charming attempts at it did) back onto her dominant hand, abandoning her plans of getting back at her former classmate, for now. "Nah, Kasuga's right. Not to mention Kakashi looks pissed..." she lowered her voice on the last comment, but by the look her shorter teammate shot her, it didn't go unheard. She shrugged and glanced out towards the other team, catching Suzume's irritated eye briefly and grinning a little. "Oho, Suzu-chan's mad, too! Better get to work, Inuzuka!"

"We should be done already," Suzume commented, though her even tone was somewhat forced after hearing that nickname from the blonde.

Toriichi hummed as he worked his shovel into a pile of snow and tossed it aside, resuming their task. "It won't take much more. I'm tired of it, too, but we're nearly done."

"Sheesh, you guys are all sticks in the mud." Though Toboe complained, he snatched up his shovel nonetheless and went about relocating the snow.

"Stop griping about it. It's easy work." Namie also resumed work, tossing a shovelful of frost in the russet-haired boy's direction haphazardly, while Kasuga sighed and shook his head in the background, returning to the mission at hand as well while the two troublesome genin engaged in another childish battle. Some things just couldn't be helped.

With the six young ninja working together, it didn't even take ten more minutes for them to complete their objective and, soon, the walkways were more or less free of a pile-up of snow.

"There! All done; freedom!" Toboe cheered, throwing his arms up into the air.

"Not so fast. We still have to report," Namie grumbled, setting her shovel over her shoulder as she watched Kakashi walk on ahead, aiming to get things over and done with quickly—and probably to remove himself from their company. For being the youngest, he was definitely more focused and responsible. And totally antisocial.

"That, um, wasn't so bad, was it? Compared to what we usually get, this was almost a break." Kasuga fidgeted with his grip on his own snow shovel as he glanced out at the cleared street.

"Huh, so what do you usually get in Team One?" Toriichi wondered, meandering closer to the more experienced genin as they headed towards the administration building.

"Oh, well, um—" The medic stuttered as he tried to gather his thoughts and list out the types of missions Hiroto had them undertake, caught unawares by the question. "Things like...escort missions. U-um, cleaning. Guard duty. Catching escaped animals. I'm—I'm sure your team will eventually get missions like that, too, Toriichi-kun."

"Yeah, and then Inuzuka will go and mess things up." Namie shrugged her shoulders and spoke casually despite her words.

"He doesn't mess up a lot, surprisingly," Suzume countered, pushing her glasses up the bridge of her nose and aiming a very slight glare at the blonde from beyond her fogged-up lenses.

"Hey, hey, Strawhead, don't judge me!" Toboe hurried to the blue-eyed girl's side and pointed to his forehead protector, frowning with such exaggeration that one of his canine teeth poked out from between his lips. "See? I'm a genin, too, so I'm on the same level you are."

"Oh? Is that really so? Why don't you prove it, then, dog breath? You're the one who said you'd come and challenge me again once we both got the same rank but it hasn't happened yet." She cracked her knuckles and a slight grin raised the edge of her mouth as she eyed him keenly. "So, come on. Or are you scared?"

"'re instigating again," Kasuga sighed, eyebrows furrowed.

"No way! I'm not scared, stupid, I'll take you on one-on-one right here, so let's go!"

"Sure, it'll hardly be a challenge. I'll send you packing with your tail between your legs—"

"And you're falling for it, Toboe-kun." Suzume also shook her head, pursing her lips in disappointment.

"Those two are impossible. At least she doesn't make him cry anymore, though," Toriichi shrugged. "Imagine if they were on the same team together..."

"I don't think they would have passed." The curly-haired girl pressed a gloved hand to her forehead, rubbing away an oncoming headache.

Kasuga laughed uneasily. ", you're probably right."

Kakashi glanced over his shoulder at the lagging group and did his very best not to roll his eyes. "Oi, let's get a move on. There'll be plenty of time to argue over petty things later. Time better spent training, probably, but to each their own."

"Ah, right. Sorry, Kakashi-kun," Kasuga apologized, grinning slightly, then turned to his other teammate who was just about nose-to-nose with the Inuzuka, cool and arrogant while he was fired up. Intervention was the best choice, now. "We really should hurry, Namie." He lightly grasped her arm, drawing her away from the challenge, otherwise they would antagonize each other forever—and quite possibly start hitting each other with shovels.

"Right, right." Namie snubbed the Inuzuka by turning away and ignoring him, returning to her teammate's side instead.

"Oh, you—" Toboe reached out to snatch the girl's scarf and pull her back to their conversation, but Suzume shook her head.

"It's not worth it, Toboe-kun. You two can settle things at a later time."

Toriichi smacked his teammate on the back. "Besides, she'd probably beat you up. I've heard Team One's been having round-robin style training matches with a bunch of other genin teams lately. They're not doing too badly."

"I know, I know, jeez. Whatever..." Toboe scrutinized the small blonde girl as she walked beside her tall teammate and chatted on with him about some thing or another.

She was dressed in a ridiculously insulated, dark blue coat that doubled—maybe even tripled—her size (because it was probably a hand-me-down from her brother) and made her look like an overstuffed bluebird, especially with her thin legs sticking out from the bottom of the jacket, covered in some sort of pale leggings. Her scarf was a jarring pink that clashed with her color scheme, and it was a bit clumsily made, matching her gloves, and there was a loose yarn that tended to snag on things and nearly caused her to choke herself once or twice throughout the day. Once had been his fault.

Despite her foolish appearance, her skill level was apparent. The way she held herself had changed since the first time they'd met. Since the last time they'd fought. She was sturdier; surer. Even with that bulk of garments, she would be able to move as stealthily as ever.

She was strong. He could sense that. But that was why he wanted so badly to fight her again and see just how much had changed; how far he was lacking or how close he was to her own level, so he could surpass it. He didn't know why, or when it had even come to be, but she was something of a benchmark for him. Or, at times, a driving force. Even if he could never reach her level, he would continue to try. All because of their stupid sparring matches during their time at the Academy.

But...interacting with her was also fun. Exciting. Unlike with others, he was able to get a rise out of her and start a fight, verbal or physical. Of course, it didn't always happen this way and she ignored him and easily wrote him off if she wasn't up for that kind of thing and when she did, it made him a little disappointed. But when shewas, she rose to the challenge and gave back as good as she got.

In a way, he...admired her.

"You watch her a lot." There was a rustle from his side, where Suzume readjusted her scarf, and her gaze was focused forwards when he turned to glance at her.

Toboe harrumphed and scowled. "I have to study my opponent. It's learning, learning."

"Is that it? I see."

Toriichi hummed as he caught wind of the conversation. "Is that really it, though? Namie's getting kinda cute. If it wasn't for her personality, I'm pretty sure she'd get asked out a lot." He paused. "If you wanna, you better not wait, Toboe. I mean, sometimes even I've thought about it..."

"No way, Tori, don't be an idiot!"

"Well, she looks pretty close with that teammate—Kasuga-kun."

"That's just dumb. And I already asked her about that. They're just teammates."

"I'm just sayin'... One day she'll have a boyfriend."

"Gross. Her? So gross!"

"Don't say things like that, Toboe-kun. Especially about Namie," Suzume cut in, frowning a little.

Toboe threw his hands up. "But Strawhead is so ugly!"

"Who's ugly?"

Somehow, after another squabble between the two fiery genin, the group made it to their destination and reported their completed mission.

Kakashi left them all quickly, eager to be rid of their company and do something more productive with his day, and Suzume, Toboe and Toriichi had other business to tend to regarding their team, so they were forced to part ways as well, leaving only Namie and Kasuga to stand alone in front of the building in the snow.

"I was kinda looking forward to a snowball fight, you know..." the blonde breathed out, a little crestfallen, as she shoved her hands into her pockets and kicked at the snowy ground. "Do you have to leave now, too, Kasuga?"

"Ah, no. The rest of my day is free because of the—" A snowball smacked him soundly in the side of the head, "—weather." He took a moment to brush away the remnants of the powdery frost and frowned. "Namie, that was a little...uncalled for." Her only response was a grin and all he could do was sigh as she bent down to form another handful of snow that would no doubt be tossed at him in the next few moments. He took a step back. "Please don't—" Whump. Flecks of snow exploded in the air as the second ball crumbled against his chest. "Namie—" He moved back again, but another snowball collided with his coat and sprayed white powder everywhere and all the blonde did was grin and slowly approach him, armed with more projectiles, and all he could do was continue his retreat and plead her to stop. "I'd really rather not—" Swoof. "I said I—" Poff. "Really, this is—" Whomp. "Namie," Kasuga enunciated, stressing each syllable heavily to show his disapproval as he struggled to evade the volley of snowballs, backpedaling and then eventually turning to run, but as he did so, his foot caught on a snowdrift and he toppled to the ground, and the stumble was only made worse when she hit him while he was down.

He was a patient person, really. A peaceful one, too, who avoided conflict and did his best to mediate rocky situations, but really. This was just too much.

"Oh—Kasuga, crap, I'm sorry, I was just playing around. Are you—"

As soon as he heard the clomping of her shoes against the snow, approaching in worry, he turned around and flung a well-aimed snowball towards the blonde, effectively catching her offguard and landing a hit directly against her hitai-ate, earning a startled yelp of surprise and rare expression of stupefaction.

"Namie, sorry, but please run." A nervous smile.

And then another snowball was thrown her way, narrowly missing her head.

She grinned before following his words without hesitation, sparking a one-on-one snowball fight throughout the streets of the village.

It was difficult to notice before, but because of the training the team had been put through over the past few months, along with the fact that they'd never sparred against each other directly, Kasuga had grown considerably with his physical capabilities and was able to hold his own quite well in their scuffle.

When both were clearly out of breath, they came to an understood truce and simply collapsed on a nearby bench beside each other, beginning to shiver as the cold caught up with them.

In this fight, there was no winner. By the time they'd exhausted themselves by running and pelting each other with snow, dodging and retaliating, sometimes darting between the residents who lined the streets and leaping behind trashcans and streetlights, their noses were numb and red from the cold. Their fingers were also near-frozen, but gloves and mittens had long since gone forgotten and were lost in the snow somewhere in their wake.

Namie dug through her pockets with stiff fingers before sighing. "I must've dropped my gloves. Kushina-nee-chan's not gonna be happy."

Kasuga looked up from his slightly stooped position where he curled in on himself to keep away the cold and warm himself up, breathing onto his chilled hands, and furrowed his brow. "We can maybe go look for them?"

"Nah, it's fine. But they were pretty warm... well, it's no loss, really." She grinned, shrugging her shoulders in a what-can-you-do way.

"I lost mine, too. I'd lend them to you if I still, um, had them."

"No way, I'd make you keep them for yourself if you tried. I still have pockets."

"But that's...well, I mean, the best way to warm up quickly is—I guess I could show you. Can I see your hands?"

"Sure." Namie twisted her torso so she was more or less facing her teammate and held her hands out towards him limply, raising an eyebrow in curiosity as she watched him reach out to gather them both between his own, carefully—probably because of the skin contact they didn't usually exchange. 'Friction, huh?'

Sure enough, he began to massage them, eliciting warmth from the body heat, and even went so far as to breathe warm air onto their joined hands, all the while focusing on them calmly, with a peaceful, nostalgic expression. Like most of what he did, it was an oddly parental gesture. Caring. Gentle. And a little embarrassing.

"My grandmother used to do this for me," he mentioned offhandedly, eyes still downcast, watching their hands. "I've been intolerant to the cold weather from a young age, so one of the first things I learned from her was that applying friction is a good way to break the chill. Of course you can rub your own hands together, too, but I always thought it was warmer when someone else did it for you..."

Namie said nothing as she sat transfixed, eyes also locked on their hands, noting the way his pale skin contrasted with her slightly-suntanned fingers. How his hands were bigger than her own, if only slightly, but noticeably, and how they didn't even tremble or hesitate as they rubbed against a girl's hands, when usually children of that age avoided such forward skinship because of "cooties" or just general aversion to the opposite sex by embarrassment and uncertainty. Kasuga was different. Mature, but naturally so, for his age. Selfless and thoughtful. Not only that, but this was probably the first time she'd heard him speak for so long about a precious memory, because the way he spoke of his grandmother alluded to the idea that she was no longer in this world.

When she didn't reply, Kasuga glanced up in concern to meet her somewhat mystified blue gaze, and he seemed to become self-conscious of his actions, instantly stopping and awkwardly clutching her hands, stuck between wanting to let go but knowing that her hands were still cold and finding himself unable to, and fretting instead. "Oh, s-sorry. I probably should have asked if you were okay with something like this, I-I mean I guess it's a little...well...maybe it would be better if you were a little kid—I mean, you're certainly younger, but not that young—I'm not trying to treat you like that or anything, Namie, but..." he trailed off in a mumble, eyebrows drawn upwards, as an embarrassed flush spread across his cheeks, more exaggerated than the redness brought about from the weather, when he realized what exactly he'd been doing and to whom, coddling her like a small child.

"It's fine." She dismissed his worries easily and managed a small smirk. "You're a really good guy, Kasuga. Maybe one of the best."

"Wha—n-no, I just—I'm not—"

"Thanks for putting up with me. And looking after me."

His blush deepened, reaching his ears. "It's's nothing, really."

"Nope," Namie hummed, pulling her warmed hands away from between his and moving to her feet. "It's definitely something." There was a soft smile on her face, tender, grateful, and for a moment he was dazed by the expression. But the moment vanished as soon as it came and a bright grin replaced it. "C'mon, let's go find those stupid gloves before it gets dark."