A Rival Appears!

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"Hehe, I'm also worn out from today's bridge work," Tazuna said cheerfully as they were finishing dinner. He seemed to be in a really good mood. "At any rate, it's almost complete." The moment their plates were cleared, Naruto and April immediately slumped forward to rest their heads on the table.

"Father, don't over do it, okay?" Tsunami said. "Naruto-kun and April-chan, too."

"Mmhm," Kakashi agreed with a smile, giving April a pat on the head as Naruto started to nod off. The two of them had really pushed themselves to the limit with this training.

"..." April said, blushing slightly, as she avoided his gaze, suddenly feeling a little shy. She noticed Inari was staring across the table at Naruto rather intensely. "!" She was a bit startled when tears began to form in his eyes.

"Why...?" Inari asked as the tears fell.

"!" Naruto said, taken aback when he opened his eyes and saw the look on the younger boy's face. "What...?"

"Why do you guys bother to try so hard!?" Inari demanded, slamming his hands on the table. "No matter how hard you train, you're still no match for Gatō's men!! No matter what glorious claims you make or how hard you work, when facing the strong, the weak will only end up getting killed!!!' The room was so quiet you could have heard a pin drop.

"..." Everyone stared at him in astonishment.

'Who's he think he's calling weak...?' April thought, chagrined.

"Whatever, kid... I'm not like you," Naruto said.

"We're not gonna let ourselves be killed off that easily," April added aloud.

"Shut up!! It pisses me off when I watch you!!" Inari snapped. "You don't know anything about this country, yet you're being so nosy!! What the hell do you know about me!? I'm different from you two, always clowning around and acting so cheerful—you don't know how hard life can be!!"

'Uh-oh...' April thought when Naruto twitched next to her. There was no way Naruto wasn't going to snap after hearing that.

"So, it's okay for you to pose as the star of a tragedy and cry all day?" Naruto asked sternly.

"!" Inari gasped.

"Just keep on crying forever, you idiot! You little sissy!!" Naruto snapped with a sharp glare that cut straight through Inari.

"..." The crying boy was stunned into silence.

"Naruto! That's too much!!" Sakura yelled. "Why don't you say something, too, April!?" Was she just going to let Naruto get away with something like that? Normally she would be the first to scold him!

"..." April remained silent. It might've sounded harsh, and he could have worded it better, but... she thought that was something Inari needed to hear.

"Hmph!" Naruto said defiantly, stomping out of the room in a huff.

"..." Kakashi glanced from his retreating student to Inari, who was still sitting at the table and crying, gritting his teeth in frustration. Well, that could've gone better...


Once he felt Inari had enough time to calm down, Kakashi went to have a little talk with the boy, but soon discovered that he had been beaten to the punch.

"Hey, mind if I join you?" April asked Inari. He didn't say 'no', so she decided to just take that as a yes and sat down next to him on the porch, looking out over the ocean. "You know, Naruto didn't say that out of spite. He just doesn't use his head sometimes."

"..." Inari hugged his knees.

"Tazuna-san told us about your dad," she continued quietly. "... When I was younger, both of my parents were murdered right in front of me." They had died protecting her during a home invasion. Inari's eyes widened as he gasped in shock and finally looked at her.

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