She was the one with the large frontal squishy bits that didn't take well to heavy boy bodies squashing them, or square boy jaws digging into them thinking they were pillows, so she was also the one who slept on her side at the very edge of the mattress, instead of being used as a second mattress. So when someone knocked at the door, she was the one Kyuubi could, and did, kick out of bed. Of course.
"Don't tell me you're only waking up now, it's ten AM!"
Naruto blinked her bleary eyes until they cleared and smiled a greeting at Sakura-chan, who stood on her doorstep looking impatient. Then she yawned and scratched her itchy belly, where the waistband of her boxers dug in. " 's vacation."
"No, it's not a vacation, it's an adjustment period. We're adjusting you. Go get dressed."
Naruto blinked slowly. "Uh, we?" Oh, right. She glanced back toward the bedroom, where the other Naruto was no doubt still trapped under Kyuubi, and cursing his terrible fate, if he wasn't asphyxiated yet. "... Do you want me to get him?"
"Naw, we don't need any 'him' today," said another female voice. Ino's head popped in from the side of the door as she leaned past Sakura, and she looked her up and down, and back up again. Naruto squirmed.
"Uh, hi Ino. Whatcha doin here?"
That toothy grin looked a bit much like one Kyuubi might make. Naruto stepped back, suddenly, somehow, awake enough to be worried.
"Oh, I'm just a consultant."
Pushing Sakura aside, she stood in the doorway, hands on her hips, taking in Naruto's bare legs and boy boxers and too-large shirt that she only wore because Kyuubi stole the blankets and it got cold otherwise. Naruto caught herself trying to smooth her bangs self-consciously.
"Hm. We've got our work cut out for us here." Another wide Kyuubi grin. "This is going to be fun. Welcome to the best half of the human race! Get dressed, we're taking you shopping."
Naruto waited for the vague dread she felt to morph into girlish excitement. It didn't happen. She sneaked a glance at Sakura, who stared back stonily, arms crossed.
Oh well, maybe she just needed to wake up a bit more. Naruto lifted her hand in surrender. "I'm going, I'm going. Gimme a minute." She started for the bedroom.
"And change out of that shirt!" Sakura called after her.
Naruto grumbled under her breath. What was wrong with that shirt? She'd only been wearing it two days. It didn't even smell yet. It was just kinda rumpled. She smoothed the wrinkles down with her hand, but they refused to flatten. With a sigh, Naruto gave in.
The pants fit, sorta, if she didn't mind them hanging weird around her waist -- at least the legs were short enough not to bunch at her ankles. The shoes were too big, though, and if she didn't want to slip around when she tried to fight, there was no real choice. That poor frog wallet was going to take a beating today. Wincing, she stuffed it in her pocket anyway.
"I'm taking the jacket," she informed Naruto, because they only one had of those. He opened a bleary eye and mumbled something she couldn't make out, lifting a hand to wave at her, 'hello' or 'I heard you' or 'yeah, bye' or something in between. Kyuubi bit his chin and growled like a grumpy old man, and pushed his face against his neck again, hiding from the weak light that came from the open door. For a second Naruto wanted to dump her clothes and crawl back in bed with them to doze for hours, skin to skin.
But, yeah, Sakura-chan, Ino.
She stepped in the bathroom to throw some water in her face, wash her teeth super-quick, went back to the door, and was promptly greeted by twin disapproving "Naruto!"s.
"Don't you have a brush?"
"Um." She blinked, touched her hair. It didn't seem spikier than usual -- oh, right. "I have a comb," she replied, and turned around to go get it.
She couldn't take a step before something caught her unbound hair. Sakura was glowering at her. She tugged Naruto back over the threshold and snapped her fingers at Ino. "Brush."
Ino produced a little folding brush from ... somewhere, Naruto wasn't sure, and then her hair was being attacked.
"Why is it so thick?" Sakura complained, tug-tug-tugging at the ends, as Ino laughed under her breath and closed the apartment door. Naruto made a whimpery noise and hunched her shoulders. "And stiff, that's really weird -- it never looked stiff when Naruto used that stupid jutsu. What did you do to it, washed it with soap?"
Ino clucked sadly, curling her own sleek, soft locks around a finger. "Criminal."
"Ow -- Sakura-chan -- it's how my hair's always been!"
"It didn't look that way before, though," Ino replied, eyebrows quirked.
Naruto pouted at her, and yelped as her head was instantly yanked back into alignment. "Well, 'course not, it wouldn't look sexy otherwise."
"That makes no sense," Sakura countered. "Your hair is now made of normal Naruto hair instead of sexy no jutsu hair? Then where the heck does that come from?" From the corner of her eye Naruto could see her glaring at Naruto's chest.
Naruto grumbled under her breath. "Like I know! Maybe that's just how I'd be if I'd been born a girl, too."
Naruto couldn't really see Sakura's face from there, but Ino could, and Naruto dearly wished to know why the hell she'd just started laughing.
"Oh, poor Forehead girl. Alright, that's enough, she won't have any hair left at this rate."
Naruto gingerly felt her skull through much flattened locks and didn't lose a second scampering down the stairs after Ino, before Sakura decided she needed a braid or three.
A half-hour later and she was starting to think perhaps it hadn't been so bad to stand there having her hair torn out at the root.
Their first stop was a lingerie store, where Naruto was ogled strangely when she unzipped her vest and her boobs kinda... flop-bounced out. Which was admittedly very distracting. Naruto knew she was distracted, and they belonged to her.
"What size was your last bra?" the saleslady wanted to know.
"Hah, she doesn't remember her shoe size," Ino replied, just at the same time as Sakura said, "She lost all her clothes in a fire. Tragic accident," and Naruto blinked up from the spectacle of her bouncing boobage and said, "Oh, never had any. I used to be a guy."
She ended up getting kicked from both sides and gaped at, for exactly one second before the saleslady blinked slowly, said "I see," and pulled out her measuring tape.
Sakura and Ino boggled. The saleslady said, "Well, we are in a ninja village," as if that was an explanation. Which, on second though, Naruto admitted it kind of was.
Getting measured by the saleswoman was okay. Ish. If a little ticklish. Actually trying things out was something else entirely. Two-thirds of anything in her size, if not more, came with underwire included.
Underwire, she felt, had been invented by Morino Ibiki as a counterspy thing, because who can get anywhere torturing a girl to make her spit out all her secrets when she's used to having steel digging in her boobs every day of the week.
"Do I even need a bra?" she whispered to Ino in the changing room, taking advantage of the fact that Sakura was hunting for more implements of torture at the other end of the shop. "Look, they're perky!" She bounced on her toes, for emphasis.
"I see that," Ino replied drolly. "Seriously, they won't stay perky long if you let them hang. Do you want to have them flop down to your knees by the time you hit thirty?"
Naruto grimaced. "Hell, I almost don't even care if they did. This is torture!"
Sakura joined them and dumped another armful in the cabin. "When you fight you'll smack yourself in the chin," she said in a dry tone.
Naruto winced, conceded the point, and went about trying the next.
Lace was scratchily evil. Nothing came in orange, only peach-ish at best. Half the things in her size were made for grannies -- which she wouldn't have given much of a damn about, except that Sakura and Ino huffed at her.
"You are not leaving this shop without at least one pretty bra," Ino announced. Doomed. Naruto was doomed.
Eventually they found the holy grail. Somehow. Naruto was making a beeline for the cashier when she was reeled back in by the hair again.
"Now we check out the sports bras!" Sakura announced brightly, with a lot of teeth.
"What? There are sports bras?!" There were. Lots. They didn't even have any underwire. Or frills. They were all sensible and good for containment purposes. "You're telling me that now?!"
"Of course. All girls need cute stuff, and if we'd told you first you wouldn't have gone anywhere near the balconettes."
Some days Naruto wasn't sure why she liked Sakura-chan so much. She was an evil mastermind in cute disguise.
She pondered the matter all day, dragging herself from shop to shop and then being herded back to Ino's house to try on all the clothes Ino didn't wear anymore and which she was generously willing to hand over.
By the time Ino and Sakura had scrubbed her face clean of makeup for the fourth time (an integral part of dressing up, apparently!) she had her conclusion.
She loved cute girls. Glossy lips were kissable. A little bit of lace could really enhance a cleavage. High heels and thin ankle straps were sexy.
If she had to do any of it on herself she was going to self destruct.
Shopping was hell. Figuring out what flattered her body shape was hell. (Everything she gave 'yeah!'s to was vetoed as too sleazy or hopelessly out of fashion and she still had no idea what was wrong with orange and sky blue together.) Applying makeup was... guess what... Hell.
The whole process was slow-going and required huge attention to tiny details and hours spent in the bathroom staring in the mirror and ARGH.
"Oh god I want to diiiiie. Give me a penis back."
Sakura clucked at her. "Stop moving, your braid will be crooked."
Naruto let out a tortured whine and went still. In one hand, it was a little amazing how thin the strands Sakura was braiding together were, and watching Sakura's slender fingers comb through her long blond hair in the mirror was, well, kind of hot. In the other hand, ow ow motherfucking ow. Naruto's giddiness at being in close quarters with two pretty girls for so long was either dead or hiding so deep under she couldn't feel it anymore.
Maybe she was turning straight. Uh. Becoming straight. ... Adjusting to... still being straight... as she'd always been?
Just in the other direction?
Damn it, how the hell did that work?!
"I think I'm gonna cut it all off," she grumbled. Ino and Sakura froze and stared at her in the mirror. Naruto tried not to feel guilty. "All that hair, it's annoying to deal with! It gets all over the place and this is the third time you do the braid thing and it's just a huge pain in the ass!"
"Pulling it back into a ponytail isn't so hard, really," Ino replied. "Give it some time to get used to it."
"Yeah but why should I wait to get used to it, when I'm ALREADY used to it being short?" She crossed her arms, gave them a mulish look.
Sakura and Ino exchanged a long look, the kind that Naruto had learned usually heralded another 'get naked, we're redoing your whole wardrobe from the ground up.'
Then Ino smiled and leaned over Naruto's shoulder, so close their cheeks almost brushed.
"Because Sakura will let you feel her boobs."
Naruto and Sakura both went "What?!", though Naruto's was more utterly floored and Sakura's more warpath-y. She drew herself up on her knees to glare down at her best friend, eyes throwing sparks.
Ino rolled her eyes up at her, caught the unraveling end of Naruto's braid, and swished it under her nose.
Speechless, Naruto turned in her seat to watch the byplay. The mirror had to be lying, Sakura couldn't be... reluctantly... getting convinced.
She wasn't sure how else to interpret the sulky pout on her teammate's face, though.
Ino was still carding the end of Naruto's braid between her fingers, coiling it around long fingers and rubbing her thumb along the locks, as if testing how sleek it felt.
"Naru-chan needs to get something from this. It's not fair otherwise. And you're both girls, aren't you? It wouldn't be the first time a girl touched your -- mmph."
Even through Sakura's hastily applied hand, Ino was laughing, eyes gleaming in amusement. Sakura's face had gone pink. Naruto swallowed, mouth dry. Alright, so maybe being locked up with two girls determined to use her as a living doll was closer to paradise than hell after all. Lesbian shenanigans? Really?
"Well, unless ..." Ino looked at Naruto, a doubtful little frown on her face. "Do you like girls or guys now, by the way?"
"Girls!" Naruto blurted out. Oh god this couldn't slip between her fingers, she'd never recover. "Of course girls! Girls are awesome!"
"Really," Ino repeated doubtfully, tapping a finger against her lips. Naruto nodded desperately.
Sakura groaned and sat back on the floor heavily, and started massaging the bridge of her nose. "Why the hell are we even talking about this? She's Naruto. Naruto likes girls."
"Naruto is a boy, for all we know maybe she could have just gone straight in the other direction."
"I didn't!" she assured them earnestly.
Sakura sent her a sidelong unimpressed look, cheeks still flushed -- so cute Naruto was almost distracted enough to miss what she said. "You do realize this is not helping convince me that letting you touch me would just be innocent exploration, right?"
"It's really interesting that you shifted from male to female in both body and mind," Ino mused, "and yet your orientation didn't vary a iota."
"Why should it have?" Naruto grumbled, watching in puzzlement as Ino shifted her weight on her knees and leaned to reach a pile of magazines.
"Tadah!" She brandished a magazine, held open on the centerfold. "Now what do you think of that?"
The model was a pretty young thing with sensual lips, dark wisps of hair shadowing the eyes, standing all coy and suggestive in a half-undone white kimono. The front gaped open on a pale, utterly flat chest.
Ino leaned in and purred, "Doesn't he look a little like Sasuke?"
... He really kind of did, at that.
"Oi, Ino, will you stop trying to break -- huh. ... Naruto?"
Sakura was staring at her. Naruto couldn't look back, caught by the photograph.
Sasuke had taken to wearing kimonos like that, hadn't he? White, too. Gaping open like that. Gah. Gah.
"That's not enough to prove anything!" Sakura exclaimed, face gone as red as Naruto could feel her own was. "So what if she thinks the model is pretty, of course he's pretty--" She flipped some pages, brandished the magazine under Naruto's nose again. "Here!"
Naruto scrunched her eyes closed in self-defense. Ino laughed, poked her in the ribs. Cracking an eye open, Naruto risked a glance.
"Urk. Okay, that one, no." Naruto opened both eyes, feeling like she could breathe again. The guy on the page was ... handsome, she supposed, but all beefy and stuff. "I guess Sakura-chan's right, that other model guy was just girly-looking. I'm still stra-- a lesbian."
She took the magazine from Sakura's hands, turned a page, vaguely curious, but trusting again. Haha, nothing to fear there.
The model was shirtless, but his arms were encased in dark gloves that almost reached his very masculine shoulders. Naruto flung the magazine away.
"You know," said Ino calmly, "I was just saying all that to mess with you. I didn't think I was right."
"Go die in a ditch," Naruto whimpered back, hands pressed over her eyes. "I like girls, pretty girls, curvy and cute and girly girls. I always have, always will. Giiirls. Uzumaki Naruto likes girls."
"Alright," Ino said soothingly, patting her back. "You like cute and pretty." She paused, smirked. "That boy was cute, wasn't he?"
"Gnnrgh." Naruto wriggled away from her, tucking herself between Sakura and the dresser. "Sakura-chan, why's Ino so evil?"
Sakura was watching her, but with a strange expression Naruto couldn't interpret.
"Ah." Sakura shook her head, as if to forcefully clear her thoughts. "Ino's always been evil. I don't think anything can be done for her at this point."
She dropped a hand on top of Naruto's head, patted it, a little brisk but mostly comforting. Naruto blinked her confusion at her. "Um. Sakura-chan?"
"Maybe the kitsune thing turned you a little bisexual," she said abruptly. "There's nothing wrong with that."
"Maybe you were bisexual from the start," Ino said, voice serious and thoughtful and lips smirking. Naruto glared at her. "Alright, perhaps you weren't," she conceded, "but I always thought the way Sasuke polarized people's attention meant his relationships with boys tended to contain that little note of homoeroticism..."
Naruto let out an inarticulate cry of protest. "H-homowhat?"
"Iiino-chaaan," Sakura sang between clenched teeth as Naruto flailed her hands, "We do not talk about homoeroticism around my teammates."
"That was when all your teammates were guys," Ino countered. "And we're not talking about Naruto being into guys anymore, we're talking about everyone being a little Sasukesexual at the edges."
Naruto's panic ebbed a little. If everyone was affected, well, that was different, less personal. ... not that she thought it was right! "He's just -- I don't know, interesting. So okay, people get interested. It doesn't have to be sexual!"
Ino laughed a little. "Okay, okay. So... You don't think he's pretty?"
Naruto's cheeks started to heat up again. "He's Sasuke!" she protested. "He's like my brother. He's even more like my brother than Naruto and Kyuubi!"
(... and what she did with the two of them was just weird kitsune, used-to-be-one-person stuff. It didn't count.)
"Alright, alright," Ino said, thumbing through another magazine, unconcerned. "What if Sasuke was a girl?"
"... I am never letting you dress me up ever again," she said, because it was either that or saying 'yes, oh god yes', because the mental image that popped in her head at the thought of Sasuke as a girl -- god. She'd be built kind of like Sakura-chan, she thought, maybe taller but all slender and elegant and -- and Sasuke.
But Sakura-chan loved Sasuke and it felt like something Naruto had always known. Weren't there rules in those cases? It felt like she was being disloyal, both toward Sakura-chan because she was the person Naruto liked, and as Sakura-chan's friend for ...
For liking the same guy.
Sakura picked up the end of Naruto's braid and started to comb it apart with her fingers. Naruto scratched at the back of her neck and tried to keep still. She didn't like the strange silence that had fallen in the room.
"So, um. Sakura-chan likes playing with hair, huh?"
Sakura let out a little chuckle, though she didn't look up from her task. "Yeah. It's fun. I like coming up with cute hairdos."
"But you keep yours short," Naruto replied, confused.
"Well, yes, it's more practical like that." She looked up, gave Naruto a smile. Teasing as it was, a little melancholy lingered at the edges. "You're lucky, you know, there's that rumor that Sasuke-kun prefers girls with long hair."
Naruto stared at her for a second. Then she grabbed for Ino's scissors, growling. "Okay, this comes off now."
Just. Just -- stupid hair! And stupid Ino! And stupid herself for that weird twinge about stupid Sasuke, and stupid Sakura-chan for thinking she would ever --
"WAIT NO I LIKE IT TOO HERE."
Naruto flexed her fingers a bit. Sakura-chan went "Ow." Naruto obligingly dropped the scissors, whose round finger-hole parts were digging in Sakura's boob.
She flexed her fingers again, a bit.
"Alright," Naruto said, a little strangled, "if you insist."
Sakura's breast fit all nice and snug in her hand. Firm. She squeezed a bit, cautious.
"Ahem." Naruto needed a few seconds to tear her eyes away from the soft swell of flesh she was gently kneading. Sakura-chan's face was the reddest she'd seen it yet, and she looked anywhere but at Naruto's eyes. "So. Haircut?"
"Oh. Right." Naruto blinked. She could feel Sakura-chan breathing under her hand.
"Okay. The hair stays."
Sakura let out a long breath through her nose. "You are such a guy. Alright! Hands off, turn around, tilt your head down, no fidgeting."
"Yes, ma'am," Naruto said.
A last squeeze for the road. Let go. Turn. Get her hair pulled out at the root by that devil brush. Flex her fingers, open, closed, open, closed.
She didn't even mind that Ino spent the next ten minutes laughing herself breathless.
Naruto -- the other Naruto -- opened the door to her when she came back, giving a wary look at the bags hanging from her arms. "So..." A wince. "How was your day?"
... How had her day been, she wondered as she drifted past the boys and inside the bedroom, dumped the clothes bags. Hm... Shopping was boring. Dressing up was brain-breaking. Girl talk was terrifying.
"Sakura-chan let me touch her breasts," she said dreamily.
Naruto tackled her to the floor and noogied her until she had to wonder if she'd have any hair left for Sakura tomorrow.