Here we are, for chapter 2. Enjoy.
It was an hour later when Kiba and Lee awoke and ventured outside to meet up with Naruto and Hinata. Naruto was still sulking a little by the front of the inn, and Hinata was doing her best to try and cheer him up. Kiba glanced at his two comrades.
"You guys about ready to go?" He asked. Naruto didn't even spare Kiba a glance, and Hinata glanced up at him apologetically and then back down to Naruto. He cocked a brow as he glanced at Hinata. "So what's wrong with him?" He asked.
Hinata quickly filled him and Lee in on why Naruto was feeling a little down. When she finished, Kiba let out a frustrated sigh.
"Look Naruto, so what if they don't celebrate Christmas. It's not like they have to." He said.
Naruto's gaze met Kiba's. "I understand that, but it's not like they don't want to celebrate it. They don't know about it."
"So why is it bothering you?"
Naruto paused for a moment. "Because…well, because it's Christmas. Who wouldn't want to celebrate it?"
Kiba shook his head in frustration. "Believe it or not, there are people that don't like Christmas, Naruto. We don't have time for this. We need to get back to the village and report back to the Hokage, so we can go home and celebrate with our families."
Naruto folded his hands across his chest. "I'm not going home…not yet."
Everyone's gaze snapped onto Naruto. Lee and Hinata exchanged worried glances. "What?" Asked Kiba.
"I'm going to stay here and try to teach them about Christmas." He replied.
Kiba rolled his eyes. "Do you hear how ridiculous you sound?" He asked.
"I don't care. I'm staying, you guys can go home. Just let Tsunade-baa-chan know what I'm doing. I'll be back tomorrow."
"We can't just leave you, Naruto." Protested Lee.
"Sure you can. It's not like I have anyone in Konoha to spend Christmas with anyways. I usually just spend it home, alone. At least this way I could do something useful." Replied the blond. He glanced past Hinata to watch two boys throwing snowballs at each other.
Hinata felt a sudden rush of guilt and an urge to embrace Naruto in a hug. Had she known he was spending Christmas alone all these years, she would have done something for him. Surely she had to know he was alone on Christmas, with the way the other villagers had treated him. She should have gone over to his apartment and given him a present or something.
"And what are we supposed to do?" Asked Kiba stubbornly.
"I said you guys could leave without me. I'll be back the day after Christmas. I promise." Replied Naruto. His fierce gaze locked with Kiba's, and they entered into a stare off.
Kiba caved, snarling. "Fine, if you want to waste your time here, then far be it for me to stop you. Come on Hinata, Lee, let's get out of here."
Kiba turned to leave, but stopped when he didn't hear the crunching of snow following him. He glanced back to see Hinata and Lee.
Hinata's expression was as apologetic as she could get. She bowed. When she spoke, it was full of resolution. "I'm sorry, Kiba-kun, but I'm going to stay here w-with Naruto-kun and help him."
Naruto looked up at Hinata, sincere surprise on his face. "Hinata…."
She blushed crimson and smiled warmly, which Naruto returned.
"Me too." Announced Lee.
Kiba rolled his eyes. "You guys can't be serious. Do you not know what day it is?"
Lee nodded. "Yes. It's Christmas Eve. It is a time for helping others, and I want to help Naruto's Christmas wish come true."
Naruto blinked a few times. "Thanks, Lee."
The green beast gave Naruto a thumbs up. "Don't mention it."
Snow began pouring lightly through the sky, and clouds were beginning to accumulate, threatening to grow darker later on in the day.
Kiba glanced up at the weather and pointed up at the sky. "What do you guys think you're going to accomplish in one day? And with another snow storm on the way?"
Naruto rose to his feet, and locked eyes with Kiba again. "We'll pull it off somehow."
"Christmas is the time for miracles." Chimed Lee.
"Kiba-kun, please stay and help us." Pleaded Hinata.
Kiba had to avoid making eye contact with her, or he would surely cave. "I have to get back to my family, Hinata. You know that. We have celebrations we save just for today. Traditions, you know?" He paused for a moment. "What about you, Hinata? What about your family? Won't they be mad?"
Hinata stiffened, as if she hadn't thought about that at all. She glanced nervously at the ground, and Naruto was sure she was going to give in and go with Kiba.
"Well...it w-will probably upset them a lot…but I want to do this. I want to help Naruto-kun, and everyone else in this village, no matter what happens." She said firmly. Her voice betrayed her, though. It was obvious that she was afraid of disappointing her father, and she knew the consequences.
But Kiba also knew how much Hinata loved Naruto. She would do anything for him. He sighed in defeat. "I'm heading back, with or without you guys. I'll let the Hokage know what's going on. I can't imagine she'll be too happy."
Everyone nodded, said goodbye and Kiba left with Akamaru, disappearing into the darkness of the woods.
"Kiba-kun!" Called Hinata, in hopes he would reconsider.
"Don't waste your breath, Hinata. We don't need his help." Said Naruto, folding his arms, still staring in the direction Kiba had left.
Lee turned to Naruto. "So what are we going to do now?"
Naruto grinned at Lee. "We need to go and see the leader of the village again. After all, we only have one day to teach everyone about Christmas."
"I'm sorry, what is it you want to do again?" Asked Asuka Kenji.
The Konoha Shinobi had come into his home in the center of the village, and were now standing in his small office. The stuffed heads of panthers and wolves adorned the walls, and the floor was chestnut color. Snow had already started falling, and was now coming down harder, but nowhere near as bad as yesterday.
Naruto gestured widely. "I want to try and give everyone in the village the Christmas experience." He said.
Asuka scratched his head, and bit his lip in a mix of curiosity and thought. "And how would you go about doing this?"
"It's simple. Just gather everyone for a meeting, and I'll tell them how to celebrate Christmas." Explained the blond.
"I'm sorry, but can you elaborate?"
Naruto fumbled to find the right words, but thankfully Hinata stepped in to save him. She politely explained many of the customs of the holiday, such as exchanging presents, decorating the home and streets, and telling of Christmas stories. She spun her explanation so well; Naruto couldn't help but be impressed.
After Hinata's explanation, Asuka closed his eyes and nodded. "Yes, I see. That does sound interesting, if I do say so myself. Tell me, when is this holiday?"
Lee, Hinata, and Naruto exchanged a look and sighed. "It's actually today." Said Naruto.
"Christmas is split into two days; Christmas Eve and Christmas Day." Said Lee quickly, noticing the bewildered look of Asuka.
"Yes, but the real Christmas holiday isn't fully celebrated until tomorrow." Chimed Hinata.
Asuka folded his arms and made to speak, but began coughing instead. He grabbed a handkerchief and coughed into it. His wife came quickly into the room and handed him a cup of water, which he took quickly and downed it in one shot. He cleared his throat, and handed the cup back to his wife. He thanked her, and assured her he would be fine. She took it and vanished from the room.
"I apologize for that. I tend to get a little…under the weather with this cold weather." Said Asuka. "Now, where was I? Oh, yes. I don't mean to sound rude, but how do you expect us to make preparations for a holiday that is going on right now. From what you told me, it's a pretty grand event."
Naruto gave him his best reassuring grin. He gave a thumbs up. "Leave it all to me. If you can gather everyone in the towns square, I can get this party started."
Asuke smiled kindly. He was obviously a very polite man, from the way he handled things. Naruto felt he could trust this man, even though they had only met this morning. "I won't lie, this prospect does sound interesting, but to be honest, I'm not sure if the other villagers will go for it."
"But sir," Spoke Lee quickly, "Christmas is a holiday about spending time with the ones you love, and letting all of your loved ones just how much you care about them. You have a fun time with them, and do many family activities."
"I understand, young man." Asuka sighed, and seemed to mentally debate. He didn't do it long. He locked eyes firmly with Naruto. "I can't promise anything will come of this, but it couldn't hurt to try. I'll call the meeting when the snow lets up in a bit, in about an hour. Is that okay?"
Naruto smiled at his friends and turned back to Asuka. "You bet it is. I'll use that time to prepare my speech. Just you wait old man. This is going to be a Christmas you won't forget!"
Naruto, Lee, and Hinata returned to the inn and retired to the dining room, collapsing in front of the fireplace. They talked for a while about how they would go about doing the Christmas celebrations. Hideo brought them hot chocolate, which they happily accepted and thanked him.
Naruto sipped on his, but burnt his tongue. He set it aside and leaned forward to reply to Lee's question. "What do you mean?"
"What we going to do about decorations, like ornaments and stuff? It's not like we can get our hands on them right now." Said Lee.
"We can do some handmade ornaments. I bet the kids will love it." Replied Naruto.
"Like what?" Asked Lee.
"We could do paper machete snowflakes." Suggested Hinata.
"Yeah, and those paper angel things. Do you know how to make them, Hinata?" Asked Naruto.
Hinata blushed and nodded. "My mother and I used to make them all the time for Christmas."
Naruto paused. "I thought you said your family didn't celebrate Christmas?"
Her gaze drifted towards the floor. "We don't anymore. Not since my mother passed away."
Guilt washed over Naruto. He had made Hinata think about something sad on such a great day. Some friend he was. "Sorry, Hinata."
She shook her head. "It's fine, Naruto-kun. My father only celebrated Christmas because it was her favorite holiday, so after she passed on, it depressed him, so we stopped celebrating it."
Naruto felt even more guilt. He would make it up to her. A fire suddenly flared to life within Naruto. Not only was he going to give the gift of Christmas to the small village, but now he was determined to make it his personal mission to give Hinata the best Christmas he could, by any means necessary.
The time passed quickly, and before they knew it, they were standing besides the village leader in a wooden gazebo at the center of the small village, calling all residents over for an emergency meeting. A few people seemed startled, like there might be an actual emergency, which made Naruto feel a little guilty. Hopefully they would calm down when they realized there was nothing dire going on.
The snow had subsided mostly. It was flurrying now, and the sun was trying to peek out in between the clouds. With any luck, the weather would stay this way until tomorrow.
"My friends, please gather around, I wish to address you all as soon as possible." Continued Asuka, gesturing widely. His wife was also going around and gathering the villagers.
Naruto counted about 50 so far, which meant only about ten to fifteen people still weren't here. Soon would be his moment of truth. Could he convince a group of people he never met to embrace a holiday off of his suggestion? Maybe Kiba had been right, and this was a waste of time?
He shook those thoughts out of his mind. He was going to show that selfish jerk up.
After a few more minutes of waiting, the rest of the villagers filed into the group. The children were huddled close to their parents. Even Hideo was there, standing next to a beautiful brunette woman holding a small infant in her arms. He smiled at the three of them, and they waved in reply.
"Is everyone accounted for? Yes. Very good. Thank you for gathering like this at such a short notice." Said Asuka politely.
"Is there something wrong, Asuka-san?" Asked a man in the crowd. "Are we in danger?"
Whispers spread like wildfire through the group, and Asuka raised his hand to silence the crowd.
"No, nothing like that. As some of you know, we have some guests in our village today, and they informed me about something that I think you all would enjoy very much." Spoke Asuka.
Naruto was impressed with the way he worked. The entire audience was hanging on every word.
Asuka gestured to Naruto, who now felt a little intimidated, since all eyes were now on him, sizing him up. He felt butterflies. "This young man's name is Naruto, and he is from Konohagakure. He wishes to speak to you all, and I ask that you listen." He placed his hand on Naruto's shoulder, and helped him step forward. "Go ahead." He whispered.
Naruto gulped and took a glance back at Lee and Hinata. Lee gave him a nod and thumbs up, while Hinata smiled at him warmly and nodded, mouthing "you can do it". He took in the crowd, and waved back at the young kids who waved at him.
"I know you!" Came one kids voice. "You were the guy from the snowball fight."
"Uhh…hi." Said Naruto. He took a deep, relaxing breath and opened his mouth to speak. "Umm…I wanted to…umm…okay, how about this. How many people here know what Christmas is?"
No one in the crowd raised their hands. Lee did, however, but quickly withdrew it feeling embarrassed.
"I thought so." Muttered Naruto.
"What's Christmas?" Asked a man in the front. "Some kind of weapon?"
There was a gasp in the crowd.
Naruto shook his head quickly. "No, nothing like that. Christmas is a holiday. A certain day of the year."
"What's so special about this Christmas?" Came a voice in the center this time.
"When is it?" Came another.
"Err…well, it's today." He answered. Again, the crowd began talking. They quickly got silent, and began watching Naruto intently again, waiting for him to begin speaking again. "And…uh…I wanted to try and help you guys celebrate Christmas."
"Naruto," Spoke Hideo, "If today is Christmas, how are you going to help us celebrate it? We would spend half of the day learning just how to do it."
"Oh…umm…oh yeah, sorry. Christmas is actually two days. Today is Christmas Eve, and tomorrow is Christmas."
Hideo (as well as just about everyone there) seemed confused. "What's the difference?" He asked.
"Well…Christmas Eve is the day when you get all of your…preparations for Christmas ready, and then the next day you have the full celebrations." Replied the blond.
Hideo nodded in understanding. "Okay, but how do we celebrate it? What are we supposed to do?"
Naruto suddenly realized what Hideo was trying to do for him. He was leading him in the right direction of the speech, trying to help him navigate this tough passage of words. He felt thankful, and felt a little more courageous.
"Okay, so Christmas is all about spending time with the people you love, and showing them just how much you care." Said Naruto. He went on to explain how the holiday worked. He explained about the decorations, the special types of food and treats, the music, the Christmas Tree, and of course Santa Claus and the presents (which the kids were immediately thrilled about) he would deliver to the children, as well as those gifts that people give to each other.
"Are you serious?" Asked a boy in a green parka. "There's an old man that delivers presents to good children on Christmas?" Naruto said yes. "Then why hasn't he visited us before?"
This was kind of a sucker punch to Naruto. Should he tell them the truth? He had seen how the little kids had lit up at the sound of Santa, and didn't want to ruin it for them. The parents seemed a little skeptical as well. No, he couldn't let their hopes be dashed. They would find out eventually, but not today.
Thankfully, Hinata saved him by stepping forward. "You see, Santa only comes to those who celebrate Christmas. There was no Christmas spirit here, so he didn't know to come." She said, with surprising confidence.
Naruto smiled at her, thanking her, to which she blushed and smiled back.
"Yeah, I'll believe it when I see it." Replied the boy. His mother slapped him up the back of the head, and told him he's being rude.
"I don't mean to sound rude, but isn't this a little last minute notice?" Asked a villager from the front. "Would we even have time to celebrate this holiday properly?"
Lee stepped forward this time. "My friend, it is never too late to celebrate Christmas."
"Is it fun?" Came a woman's voice.
"Yes, I promise." Replied Lee.
The villagers began talking amongst themselves, and Naruto began to fear that they might decide to not for it. He didn't know how he would react if that happened.
However, as the villagers kept talking, Naruto could hear and see just how excited they were getting for this. The women were talking about how they could cook a giant feast, and the kids were talking about the toys they wanted, while the men were mostly discussing the work to getting this all accomplished.
Naruto turned to Asuka, who grinned at him. "It would seem that everyone here is in agreement. I'm not surprised. All of us here are very close, and we are open to new experiences. I hope that this becomes a tradition that we all come to embrace."
Naruto nodded. "I hope so too."
Hideo stepped forward. "Naruto, I think we are all in agreement. We would love to try this Christmas experience out." The group gave a positive cheer. "But we will need your guidance. What should we do next?"
Naruto, Hinata, and Lee glanced at each other and nodded, grinning.
Naruto smiled and folded his arms. "Anyone know where we can find a good, tall tree?"
TO BE CONTINUED….
It went from being a one-shot to being a four chapter mini-story. This is mainly so that I can get the chapters out quickly, with it feeling to me like an actual short story. I'm also kinda busy with my own holiday plans, so I want to get out the parts of the story to the site as quickly as possible. Hope it's cool with everyone.
Just so you know, this story was originally supposed to be published last year, but I got really sick and couldn't finish it before Christmas. I'm not sure if anyone noticed, but the first chapter and the first part of this chapter was written last year.
Please review. They really mean a lot to me. I really appreciate the feedback.