Chapter 25: I, Your Father, am Liberated
“Dont touch anything.”
Since it was a little too early for dinner, Tenten invited Wu up to her room on the second floor of the Higurashi Tool Shop. The wall furthest from the door was covered in weapons ranging from sai to a large spiked mace, but the rest of the room was fairly typical of a young girl in her teens. At least according to Wus experiences.
Rolling his eyes, Wu retorted, “It was one incident, Tenten. When are you going to stop bringing it up”
Crossing her arms, Tenten looked like she wanted to retort but ultimately shook her head, saying, “Forget it. Just sit on my bed or something until I get back. I wont be more than a few minutes.”
Finished with what she had to say, Tenten turned to leave but stopped when Wu flatly pointed out, “Youre forgetting a change of clothes, dango head…”
Inhaling a deep breath, Tenten stood straighter as she turned around to stare at Wu with a reddening face. In response, the latter just wiggled his eyebrows, adding, “Youre welcome.” in a teasing tone…
Resisting the urge to raid Tentens panty drawer, not because he was interested in them but just to annoy her, Wu relaxed on her bed with his hands behind his head. He generally preferred sleeping on firm surfaces, as it was better for his posture, but there was a certaincharm to making himselfat home in places that were generally off-limits.
Finished with her quick shower, Tenten opened the door to her room and immediately exhaled a sigh. She used to think Wusshamelessness was fairly charming. Now, it frequently left her feeling exasperated…
Rising to a seated position, Wus brows perked up as he saw the clothes Tenten was wearing. Ninety percent of her outfits consisted of some kind of qipao, so it was rare to see her in something asfashionable as a pale-pink sweater-hoodie that left much of her abdomen and lower back open to the air. She had a sleeveless, matte black top that covered everything from her lower rib cage to her neck, but it was a prettyrisque outfit for someone whose mother taught them to dress modestly.
Noticing Wus gaze gravitated toward her navel, a nervous tension began to build in Tentens body as she averted her eyes and asked, “How does it look This kind of fashion is pretty popular these days…”
Instead of responding to Tentens question, Wu lowered his steely gaze from her faint abdominal muscles to the toned thighs protruding from her form-fitting brown shorts. The effort she had put into her training showed, so he decided to humor her, responding, “It certainly fits…”
Returning her gaze to Wu, Tenten flatly inquired, “Is that what passes for a compliment in that monkey brain of yours…”
As Tenten currently had her hair down, still damp and extending all the way to the small of her back, Wu couldnt retort by calling her a dango-head. Instead, he replied, “It is. If you were fat, it would fittoo well. If you were too skinny, it would bekind of loose. As you are now…its just right…”
Though Wus words were more than a little unorthodox, Tenten found herself swallowing hard. Wu was the only boy, well, excluding her idiot Sensei and teammate, who frequently complimented her. He could bereally annoying at times, but his words had a way of making her feel like an ordinary girl, not some weapon-obsessed freak…
Making her way over to the bed, Tenten sat down next to Wu, the weight of her body distorting the mattress and causing their bodies to touch a lot more than she intended. Despite this, she didnt attempt to move over and create some distance between them. Instead, she leaned a little closer, a knot forming in her throat as she softly inquired, “Hey, Wu-kun…have you ever kissed anyone”
Seemingly oblivious to the tensions present within the room, Wu surprised Tenten by nodding his head and revealing, “Three people, technically four. But the last one just kissed me on the cheek, so Im not sure that counts.”
With her right eye twitching slightly, Tenten adopted a smile that didnt quite reach her eyes as she uttered, “Dont tell me it was those girls that kept going over to your place to train…”
Since she asked him not to tell her, Wu remained absolutely silent. If she had pried just a little deeper, she would have learned that the kissing took place due to a treacherous pastime known as the Kings Game. Wu, Kaia, and Hinata hadnt known the rules, so they got baited into playing by Ino and her accomplice, Sakura. The game began innocuously, but it wasnt long before things developed in a dangerous direction, the result of young minds acquiring forbidden knowledge and going through puberty…
Exhaling a sigh, Tenten was about to turn and move away from Wu when he surprised her a second time, asking, “You dont want to…” in a curious, almost innocent-sounding tone. When she turned back, she found him gazing directly at her with his almost luminous golden eyes, unblinking as if he was expecting something.
After inhaling a deep breath, Tenten exhaled another sigh, admitting, “I do. Its just…I kind of wanted it to mean something, you know… I might not be girly, but I expected totrade firsts with the boy I liked…”
Instead of trying to pressure her, Wu surprised Tenten a third time by replying, “I get that. It is a shame, though…of the girls Ive kissed, youre the only one I ever seriously considered doing it with. The rest just kind of happened…”
Though his words sounded like lip service, Wu was speaking truthfully. If hispride hadnt been on the line, he wouldnt have kissed any of the girls he was training. The person that had kissed his cheek had also done so of her own accord, so this would have been Wus firstintentional kiss…even if it was just to cover his bases.
After hesitating for several seconds, Tenten released a frustrated groan and grabbed the hair at the sides of her head. This wasnt going anything like what she imagined in the shower, but she also really wanted to give it a try…!
Looking at Wu, Tentens expression became uncharacteristically serious as she asked, “Do you like me”
Instead of responding with words, Wu nodded while holding Tentens intense gaze. He felt like she was trying to see through him, but without some kind of Dojutsu, that was impossible. His persona had been refined over four years of careful interaction. At this point, he doubted even the old man could deduce his actual intentions.
After clenching her jaw several times, Tenten abruptly shouted, “I like you too!” as if it were some kind of battle cry. Her face immediately went red, but she continued toglare at him as she said, “If youre serious…lets be boyfriend and girlfriend from now on. Youre the only boy Ive ever liked, and youve been a good friend these past few years. I think we can make things work if we continue to support each other…”
Narrowing his eyes, Wus expression appeared to soften as he asserted, “Thats one of the things I like about you, Tenten…youre a very sensible and earnest person. Im happy I was able to meet you…”
Since Tenten had already started to lean closer to him, Wu mirrored her actions until their lips eventually overlapped. Things remained that way for several seconds, almost as if time had frozen. However, that was as far as they went as Tenten pulled away, her hazel-brown eyes swimming around in their sockets as she turned away and meekly muttered, “Then I guess its official…glad to have you”
Exhaling a soft chuckle, Wu surprised Tenten with a chaste peck on her cheek before replying, “Lets continue doing our best…” in a smoldering tone. For a brief moment, he nearly reached out to touch her abdomen, but, feeling it was a little too soon, he compromised by grabbing her hand and giving it a gentle squeeze. He frankly wasnt sure if he had made the right decision by choosing Tenten as his potential life partner, but thats one of the more important lessons Wu learned these past few years. At times, life just kind of happened…
Spurred by Wus words and actions, Tenten closed her eyes and leaned in for another kiss. She also had absolutely no idea what she was doing, but she couldnt deny the feeling of longing in her heart and the butterflies in her abdomen…
With his preparations complete, Wu, garbed in an outfit that could give Naruto a run for his money with howloud it was, turned to Hiruzen and asked, “Are you sure about this If I discover that the outside world is more interesting, I might not return…”
Exhaling a light chuckle, Hiruzen surprised Wu by replying, “Thats fine. Though I imagine the young Higurashi girl will be disappointed, I believe that, even if you were to gorogue, you would never go out of your way to harm the village. Take care on your travels, Wu-kun. And remember, even if you venture to lands far beyond, Konoha and Jigokudani will always be your home.”
Clicking his tongue, Wu turned away from Hiruzen and muttered, “Damn you, old man…” before taking off at a blinding speed and vanishing into the nearby treeline. However, despite his efforts to suppress it, Hiruzen caught the smile that had briefly graced Wus face before he took off like a yellow bolt of lightning. Wu might never openly admit it, but Konoha had become a home to him…at the very least, it was a place he could return to if ** hit the fan…
Though the continent comprising the Shinobi World was colloquially known as the Elemental orFive Nations, there were actually a total of nine prominent countries and thirty-eight minor ones. However, except the Lands of Earth, Fire, Lightning, Water, and Wind, the borders of the other nations were constantly shifting as various minor countries were either created or destroyed.
With Hiruzen giving him the option to choose where he traveled first, Wu stopped at a random crossroads before pulling an ornate, 180cm long bo staff from his Storage Pouch. The moment he did so, his feet sank nearly a full centimeter into the dirt as, despite how thin it appeared, the staff in Wus hands weighed approximately 8,000kg. Its base resembled stained redwood with accents of gold near each end, yet, despite the best efforts of Konohas R&D Department, they couldnt even take a sample from it. As far as they were concerned, the staff that had split apart the stone statue that Wu apparentlypopped out of was utterly indestructible.
Placing the staff on one of its ends, Wu released his hand and allowed it to fall freely. It embedded itself into the ground upon contact, but he was able to call it back to himself by simply extending his hand. Thus, with the end of the staff leaning toward the North, Wu decided that his first target would be a recently established village known as Otogakure, the Village Hidden in Sound. They would be participating in this years Chunin Exams, so Hiruzen had requested that he investigate them if his path happened to take him North.
With his destination set, Wu took a moment to observe his surroundings before grinning like a demon from Hell as he reached into thebottom of his Storage Pouch and produced a pair of stylish, red, and golden greaves that perfectly conformed to the shape of his forelegs. He had to remove his sandals, but the moment he did so, Wu felt abreeze against his soles before leaping high into the sky. Then, the moment he reached the peak of his jump, pale golden clouds formed beneath his feet, allowing him to continue bounding through the sky at virtually no expense. And boy, did it feel great…