“Hey Pig, he’s here!” I yelled to Ino. We had invited Naruto over to Ino’s place. She was the only one with parents and a house other than Hinata and we didn’t want him to see her at that point.
Ino was in the hall after greeting Naruto and inviting him inside. She sat him down in the living room and waited for us to join her.
“How are you feeling now?” Tenten inquired. She brought a plate of ice cream and chicken nuggets from a restaurant she loved and offered them to him. “Tell us everything about you because we want to be your friends!”
In the next hour or two, we learned he had lived a life similar to Tenten’s and mine. We learned his outer shell of happiness was a cover for his insides of crumbling despair. He didn’t say those words exactly but as he spoke, two of us were able to realize how he felt because of our similar experiences.
Ino usually focuses on surface knowledge. She doesn’t dig deeper so she listened to the words coming out of his mouth as Tenten and I noticed his feelings. They were easy for us to understand due to us not having families and growing up on the streets, we could usually tell if a person was angry or sad.
We all realized that Naruto liked Hinata and she basically broke his heart. Now I have an idea. We should get him to be happy again. To prove to him that he doesn’t need her to be happy. To let him live his own life. Ugh, that sounded too cliché. We are going to make him happy again!
“So, what do you like to do?” probed Sakura.
“Well,” Naruto answered, “I’ve never read a book except for school projects so I’d like to try that. Ooh, how about making more friends! Eating ramen, I’ve always wanted to go on a vacation!”
“Ooh! Me too! Have you heard of the beach before?” Tenten spoke.
Ino’s eyes widened as the orphans conversed. Her family went on trips to mountains, beaches, and big cities. Her father was on a trip with her mom at the moment and their nanny was taking care of the house and Ino. One of her favorite things to do was read and she always has had enough friends to fill two buses. She suddenly felt as if she had neglected two of her best friends by not paying attention to how their lives were going.
“I’m hungry Ino-pig! Do you have any sugar cookies?” Sakura asked.
“You ate them all last time. Besides, it’s all you eat! You and your sugar cookies are like Tenten and her ice cream and chicken nuggets and even like Naruto and his ramen!” Ino screeched.
They went on like that for the evening and through the night, laughing, singing, talking, and hoping things would get better soon.
I woke up the next morning to see the adorable, content, smiling faces of the three family-less kids sleeping next to me. Today, I decided, I was going to do something nice for them.
It was 6 AM and I always was an early riser. I picked my way through the house carefully and silently to not wake them. I grabbed some of my favorite books and put them on the table. Next, I slipped outside to the grocery store next to our local flower shop. I bought some microwaveable chicken nuggets, ketchup, ice cream, Ichiraku’s to-go microwaveable ramen, and a box of pink sugar cookies.
I was shocked to see that together, they all cost less than my weekly allowance. After leaving the newly bought items at home, I went to interrogate the owners of the store.
“Why do sugar cookies, chicken nuggets, ice cream, and ramen cost so little in this store?” I asked Umino Iruka.
“Ah, yes. I’m surprised you noticed. They are discounts for three of our most regular customers. They don’t have a lot of money so we lowered the prices on the days they buy groceries or else they’ll insist on paying the full price,” he answered.
“Naruto, Sakura, and Tenten” I muttered under my breath.
“You know them then?” he asked.
“Yes. They are some of my truest friends. I just bought the same things for them this morning because that stayed at my house for the night and I wanted to do something nice for them.”
“You’ve grown into an amazing young lady Yamanka Ino.”
“Thank you! I must be off, they’ll be walking up soon.”
As I raced the clock back to my house, I couldn’t help but feel thankful to Iruka for letting the kids eat their fill. I decided not to tell them that they lowered the money just for them because I didn’t want to have them pay so much because if they find out, they will try to pay more.
I felt a wave of relief that they hadn’t woken yet and I still had time and then I remembered that I had to open the shop today. I almost cussed under my breath as I ran for the third time in two hours to flip on the lights, turn the open sign and unlock the door.
After asking my nanny to man the counter, I stepped back into the room moments before Sakura’s eyes strained open.
“Hey Ino,” she yawned. “What time is it?”
“7:15 AM, just in time for my surprise! But, wait for Tenten to wake to. Oh, and Naruto,” I added.
As soon as Sakura shook the two awake, her eyes started gleaming and she told them quickly about the surprise. They leaped out of their makeshift beds as soon as they understood Sakura’s quick, excited rambling. I decided to just get it over with now so I could go take over the shop from my nanny.
They walked carefully into the room with their eyes covered as I had instructed them to do. They looked like children, so carefree and excited that I just wanted to hug them all.
“Okay, you can open your eyes now,” I told them as soon as they had reached the table.
I almost died . All of them hugged and thanked me as soon as their tired faces gazed upon their favorite foods and the huge pile of books, their eyes gleamed. Then I was lost in a ball of crying, thankful orphans.
Through the day, they all helped me run the shop. We had fun and talked so much that our lungs were collapsing and our tongues were sore. I looked at their happy faces and was satisfied with my gifts. They all deserved everything I had given them and more.