A/N – Well I've finally gotten around to finishing this off. At the end of chapter 6 I said I'd take a month or two. It's almost been five months now, but here's the ending.
Naruto throws the door open and immediately begins to take in the surroundings. The three leaf ninjas find themselves in a large, expensively decorated chamber of sorts. Two sets of marble pillars flank a thick red carpet that cuts a straight path through the middle of the room. Towards the back of the chamber are two or three steps, putting the rear of the chamber on a higher level than the front. Several oil paintings line the walls and the red carpet leads through to a relatively small door at the back of the chamber.
The whole setup reminds Sakura of the audience chamber of some kind of western palace. In front of the little door are three guards standing at attention wearing the same uniforms as the ones 'appropriated' by Naruto, Sasuke and Sakura. The three young shinobi march stiffly up to the guards on duty.
"Good job guys, grab some sleep," Naruto says, his voice and actions not betraying the laughter he's desperately holding inside.
"Have a good one," the lead guard replies and as one man, the guards salute the three leaf ninjas. Sasuke, Naruto and Sakura salute back, and the now off duty and soon be unconscious guards begin make their way past the ninjas. Soon to be unconscious because as they pass by the disguised children, they each receive a quick backhand in the back of the neck. As a result of their treatment, the guards collapse with nary a sigh.
"Too easy," says the blonde ninja with a broad grin as he dispels his henge in the traditional puff of smoke. Sakura and Sasuke follow suit.
"I don't suppose you'd keep your whining quiet for a while?" Shoots back Sasuke, in a low voice. Naruto glowers and opens his mouth to deliver his rebuttal but fails to get any words out before Sakura manages to clamp both her hands around it.
"Not now Naruto! Let's finish the mission first," the pink haired shinobi hisses. Slowly Naruto's red face returns to normal and Sakura releases her grip. Now suitably calmed, Naruto nods to Sasuke, who's been holding his hand over the door handle for a few second now. The Uchiha prodigy lowers his hand…
And the door handle turns with no apparent physical input. The three ninja's leap backwards, hands diving into weapon pouches.
Meanwhile, the blue haired heir of the Hyuga is searching for a suitable hiding spot for the unconscious bodies she's dragging along behind her. Looking up, she takes note of several wooden braces running above her head - apparently the construction of the castle hasn't been completely finished yet. Using a little bit of chakra to assist herself, she leaps up into the bracing and quickly ties the unconscious guards down. As she drops silently back to the ground, a muffled thump from the antechamber earns her attention. Hinata quickly activates her byakugan jutsu and peers through the closed door.
The sight she is greeted with is definitely not one she expected to see. An overly large person is standing in the far doorway and six inanimate figures, three of which have Konoha headbands, are lying on the ground. As Hinata stares, her heart rate increases and tiny beads of sweat begin to form on her forehead. Panic begins to sweep through the normally calm and collected mind of Hyuga Hinata.
He incapacitated Sasuke-san, Sakura-san and Naruto-kun in one move! Hinata's breathing becomes ragged as she continues to think to herself. What should I do? I should… I need to rescue them. But how? Should I wait?
Thousands of thoughts fly through Hinata's head as she grapples with her options.
Yes. I should wait. He doesn't know that there's more of us. He's way too… He's obviously too powerful for me to fight anyway.
The sweat begins to collect on her forehead now, and her palms become greasy from sweat. As the white eyed ninja prepares to get back into the ceiling braces, movement inside the room halts her motion and causes her eyes to widen in panic.
I am stupid! Hinata mentally curses herself as the figure begins to move towards one the prone leaf shinobi. Why did I think he was going to leave them alone? Hinata forces herself to calm down and her short ragged breaths become longer and steadier. Quickly formulating a plan, she reaches into her equipment pouch with a shaking hand.
With one last deep breath, Hinata forces the door open and barges into the antechamber. Before the unknown opponent can react to her presence, she brings both hands together in a simple seal and releases her chakra. "Bunshin no jutsu!"
With five bunshins running interference alongside herself, Hinata raises her arm and hurls a smoke bomb between her new opponent and the prone forms of Sasuke, Naruto and Sakura. With her byakugan, Hinata can still clearly see her opponent and is silently relieved when it apparently stops in confusion.
"Ah yes," booms the voice of her opponent. "I was wondering if the fourth member of this pathetic assassination squad would show it's face soon."
Hinata ignores this and continues to move towards her teammates, with her clones fanning out until they're evenly spread along the width of the room and keeping pace with her. Just as she reaches the point where Sakura is lying on the ground, still breathing but unconscious, her byakugan eyes warn her of a massive surge of chakra through her opponent's chakra system. Hinata stares for a second, amazed at the size of the swelling pathways.
"Your little smoke trick won't work on me! Have some of this!" Hinata watches through the smoke as the person crosses his arms in front of his chest and swings them out wide. As he does, Hinata's attention shifts from the actual arms themselves to the huge wave of normally invisible chakra that has flown out from them. If not for her blood limit, Hinata realizes that she would not have stood a chance against this technique. As it is, she finds it hard to prepare a defence against such an enormous flow of energy. Gathering as much chakra in her hands as she possibly can, Hinata lunges forward with both palms extended, attempting to expel as much chakra in front of her as she possibly can.
As the wave makes contact with her palms, the blue haired ninja screams in pain, but fortunately for her the chakra wave breaks on her palms like a wave breaking on a rock. As the rest of the energy sweeps past, it blows away the smoke from the smoke bomb and easily dispels her bunshins. Hinata shifts her weight onto her back foot and her shoulders slouch. The blue haired shinobi's shoulders rise and fall noticeably as she takes several deep breaths.
"Impressive," thunders the voice of Hinata's opponent. "Your friends fell far too easily to that technique."
"Wh-Who… are… you?" Hinata replies though desperate gasps for air.
"Ahh, how forgetful of me. I am Shigeru Shinbo." Shinbo pauses for a second and cocks his head thoughtfully. "Well I do believe that that was your last request."
With that, Shinbo crosses his arms in front of his chest and Hinata spots the tell tale pumping up of his chakra pathways. Hinata automatically stops her heavy breathing and slides into a gentle fist stance. Feeling slightly more prepared this time, she begins to channel chakra into her hand. Shinbo stares quizzically at her for a second and then chuckles.
"Dear me. I had almost forgotten that this little trick won't work on you. Well now I guess that I get to use a different technique now. Perhaps you will provide me with a bit more entertainment than your friends." Shinbo grins and lowers his crossed arms slowly.
Hinata's byakugan reveals to her an incredibly amazing scene. Shinbo's chakra pathways, rather than shrinking back to their normal size, continue to widen. Hinata gulps and shifts her stance slightly as her opponent begins to grow in size, easily doubling his initial size in ten seconds and still continuing to grow.
What is this thing? Hinata retains her slightly nervous face as thoughts churn through her mind. She had seen members of the Akimichi clan in action before, but none of their multisize jutsus ever involved increasing the chakra pathways and hence chakra flow. Rather they converted spare chakra into body mass. This increased chakra flow throughout the body of her opponent as well as the extra body mass acquired was going to make this fight incredibly difficult, Hinata realized. And on top of that, she still had to save the rest of her team.
As Shinbo's growth slowed, Hinata judged that he was going to end up two and a half times bigger than he started. The size of his chakra pathways is not good. They're as thick as a finger!
"Come on, little lady. I'll let you have the first strike free," booms Shinbo, before he lets out a loud gaffaw. "Right here!" He bangs one fist on his chest and grins. Hinata sizes up the situation.
One direct hit with the gentle fist over the heart is all it takes to kill a person. I'll take this opportunity.
Having made up her mind, Hinata races towards the overly large Shinbo, her hands held at the ready. As she closes within his arm reach, the grin on the warlord's face widens and he lashes out with an incredibly fast fist. Hinata, having anticipated trickery however, reacts even faster and drops low to slide the remaining metre or so to bring her in reach of her opponent's torso. With her left arm held out in a protective manner, Hinata thrusts her whole body upwards on a forty-five degree angle, and shoves her open palm right into the upper ribcage of her opponent, who is looking somewhat shocked at this turn of events. Upon contact, Hinata forces her built up chakra out through her palm.
The young woman is rewarded with a staggering cough from her opponent. Hinata coils her leg muscles to leap out of range when suddenly Shinbo's mouth opens.
"That tickled missy," he whispers menacingly. With that, the clenched left fist of Shinbo swings around like a snake and collects Hinata in the lower right ribcage. Hinata feels at least one rib cracking before the transferred momentum slings her across the floor and into a pillar.
Did he not even feel that strike? The Hyuga girl ponders as she groggily drags herself upright. As she stares back at her grinning opponent she realizes why. The gentle fist, while extremely damaging, relies on the disrupting the chakra flow of the opponent.
The amount of chakra I can use in my gentle fist technique is not going to be able to disrupt any of his larger chakra pathways. Hinata nervousness begins to increase again, and the physical signs of the emotion begin to appear. Still, she raises her hands back into the gentle fist stance, ignoring the blood that is slowly trickling out of her mouth.
The warlord roars in laughter. "You still want to fight?" Shinbo grins and rushes in at Hinata. She barely manages to dodge his first strike and as a result of being forced off balance easily has her legs swept out from underneath herself. Shinbo looks down menacingly and begins to speak.
"I hope you aren't relying on your friends to wake up and help you. The technique that you managed to counter overloads the chakra pathways and causes internal damage when the pathways begin to leak. They won't be waking up for a good six hours or so, and even then, they'll hardly be in a state to help you," he gloats. "Not that it matters. Goodbye." The oversized Shinbo brings a gigantic foot down towards Hinata, who quickly rolls out of the way and taps the calf of the giant as she rolls back to her feet. This has little effect however - it merely causes him to pause for a second.
Meanwhile, on the floor, despite Shinbo's previous claim, a certain blonde haired leaf chuunin groggily opens his eyelids and displays a pair of unfocused blue eyes to the world. Unable to move the rest of his body, his glazed and uncomprehending eyes stare towards the fight. Through a foggy veil of concussion, Naruto slowly comes to the realization that one of his teammates is attempting to fight some sort of giant. And is taking a lot of hits as well.
"Hi…na…ta?" Naruto seems to have regained use of his mouth, although it appears his mind is still cloudy. As he watches Hinata take yet another punch to the stomach, his fingers slowly begin to clench into fists. "Hi…na…ta," he repeats, again without much understanding but a much stronger voice.
Hinata struggles to her feet for the fourth time in as many minutes and comes to the conclusion that she's drawn Shinbo far enough away from her teammates and more importantly, Naruto-kun. As Shinbo closes in on her yet again, she attempts to dart past him towards the prone leaf ninjas. Her speed seems impossible given the injuries she is carrying, yet it's still not fast enough. Shinbo grins and lashes out with a backhand which catches the young Hyuga in the back of the head and sends her flying headfirst past the group she was trying to reach.
"Did you really think I hadn't seen through your pathetic little plan?" laughs the giant Shinbo. As Naruto watches this happen, a ray of thought pierces the fog in his mind.
Suddenly the body which he could not move, and the mind which he could not control worked themselves into action.
The young Hyuga heir braced herself for a head on collision with the marble wall of the antechamber, an impact which she realized would probably drop her firstly into the world of unconsciousness and then into death. I'm sorry Naruto-kun. As Hinata feels herself collide, she instantly tenses up. Then a split second later confusion invades her mind. Whatever she's collided into isn't quite as hard as a marble wall and her forward motion hasn't stopped. Opening her eyes, she looks up into the face of the person she was silently apologizing to milliseconds earlier. Naruto throws his arms around the back of the white eyed girl and latches on tight as he struggles to kill their momentum before colliding into the wall.
Sparks fly from blue sandals as the blonde ninja tries to grip onto the floor using chakra. Eventually the struggling leaf chuunin brings himself and Hinata to a halt and falls over backwards, landing in a sitting position. He is slightly surprised to find Hinata's face buried in his chest, but shrugs it off as a result of their sudden deceleration. It is when the girl haltingly pulls her head back to look at his face that he double takes. Hinata's bloodied face looks up at his with tears in her eyes. Naruto takes a split second to assess her injuries and is horrified at the extent of them. He can see several dark patches of blood staining her jacket, the uncovered areas of her legs are showing huge purple bruises, blood is slowly bubbling out of her mouth with every breath and several cuts on her face a leaking blood. Regardless, the heir of the Hyuga clan, arguably the Leaf's strongest clan, opened her mouth to speak.
"N-Naruto-kun, I'm sorry," she whispers, her voice dry and hoarse. "I couldn't save everyone." Naruto looks directly into her face, amazed that she can still speak after the punishment she's taken.
"Don't be sorry. You bought enough time for me to recover. And now I'll kick his sorry butt for doing this!"
Hinata smiles weakly. The conviction in his voice makes Hinata feel better, despite, or maybe due to, her lack of blood. Riding on a high of courage mixed with adrenaline, she opens her mouth. "N-Naruto-kun," she manages to get out, "I really… really like… you. Will y… you go out… with me?"
Naruto's eyes glazed over in shock. Although he liked the girl in front of him in his own way, this seemed really stupidly sudden to him. He didn't know she liked him enough to ask him out… After almost dying to save him and his team… Naruto began to realize how thick he really was.
Naruto's eyes focused again and he made a gentle sound of assent while nodding his head. Hinata sighed and struggled to bring her head up to his. Upon completion of her task, she swayed forwards and let her lips brush against his, a small cough transferring some red liquid from her mouth onto his lips, and then her head fell limp on his shoulder, unconscious. Naruto's eyes glazed over yet again as he tried to remember all the times he had talked to or even seen Hinata.
If he didn't count the chuunin exam, he only had memories of her at the academy, where she had been quiet and timid. She was beginning to show an adventurous streak now, but was still fairly quiet. Come to think of it, on his first day at the academy, she was the only one to not have a dig at him in some way. He wondered if it was because of her nature or something else.
As the blonde haired ninja gently laid the unconscious form of Hinata face up on the ground, he wondered how his life was going to change with a girlfriend. Naruto knew one thing though, he was willing to put his all into it. To do otherwise would simply be against the nature of the great Uzamaki Naruto, future Hokage of Konoha.
"Ahem? I hate to interrupt…"
Naruto stands up slowly, while licking Hinata's blood from his lips. "Let me tell you something," Naruto growls, his tone laden with anger. "I'm going to finish you off in a minute. I suggest you don't touch my friends, especially this one, or you will die instantly."
Shinbo grins. "Trying to protect your girlfriend eh? First of all boy, as well as commanding this army, I'm a warlock. I borrow power from all sorts of demons. Right now I'm more powerful than you can imagine. In exchange for this power, all I need to do is crush Konoha. I don't know how you managed to get up so quickly after my chakra wave, but it's irrelevant. You are an insect to me."
Naruto's eyes narrow as he spits out his reply. "First of all, you bastard, she's not my girlfriend. Yet. At the moment Hinata is important to me because she was the first person to recognize me, and I was an idiot for not noticing it. Secondly, get bent."
Shinbo closes his eyes and crosses his arms in front of his chest. In response, Naruto brings his hands in front of his chest and forms the tiger seal. Red chakra begins to swirl around the human container of the demon nine tails fox and slowly collects to form a fiery aura. At the same time as Naruto releases his seal with a yell, the oversized warlock swings his arms wide apart. If Naruto had byakugan eyes, he would have seen a wave of chakra at least twice as dense as the one the Hinata faced several minutes ago. However, lacking those eyes, Naruto simply waits to see what happens.
When the wave reaches the blonde haired ninja, his red aura flares up silently for a second, and then returns to normal.
"What?!" thunders Shinbo as his wave shatters upon the chakra of the kyuubi. "Take this!" The warlock rushes in, throwing a blindingly fast fist towards Naruto. The ninja dodges with apparent easy, and continues to dodge easily as Shinbo attempts to bury Naruto in a flurry of closed fist and foot strikes.
"What are you!?" roars the giant in frustration as he continually fails to land hits on the blonde chuunin of the leaf. Naruto grins while dodging a veritable hailstorm of blows. "Mister warlock, I'm the human container for the nine tails fox demon. As much as I don't like assassinations, this is personal now. And your minute is up."
Naruto ducks back out of range and brings his hands in front of his face in the all to familiar crossed finger pose. It takes the young ninja the merest fraction of a second to mould the required chakra and he promptly releases it.
"Kage bunshin no jutsu!"
In an explosion of billowing smoke, seven clones appear around Naruto. Shinbo, now looking incredibly frightened, is surrounded in a blink of an eye by six of the clones. Naruto holds out his right hand to the remaining clone, who begins to thrust his hands in and out around it. Meanwhile, the other shadow clones have begun their assault on the oversized warlock.
"U… za… ma… ki!" Three of the clones have just levered the giant into the air with the use of three blue sandals to the lower torso. The other three clones leap into the air after Shinbo.
"Naruto!" Courtesy of a fist to the back of the head from each of the airborne clones, the giant is launched towards the real Naruto, whose right hand contains a glowing red ball of spinning chakra.
"Rasengan rendan!" Naruto is slung directly towards the incoming mass by the bunshin he used to create the rasengan. As both warriors move on their collision course, Naruto brings his right hand around and drives the churning ball of energy straight into head of Shinbo.
As Naruto lands, all his shadow clones disappear in a cloud of smoke and he smiles as the headless body of Shinbo lands on the ground, slowly shrinking back to it's normal size. The young ninja then swallows, the coppery taste of Hinata's blood lingering on his tongue for a few seconds after the actual liquid has passed down his throat. Naruto breaks out in a foxy grin as the red aura fades and dies.
A/N – Woo! Done. There'll be a short epilogue up when I feel like getting it done, but this is pretty much it. I'd like to give a big thanks to everyone who read it and a bigger thanks to everyone who reviewed it. I'll probably go through the whole thing at some stage as well and fix up some formatting errors etc, but once again I'm incredibly lazy, so don't expect it to happen in the near future, just in case you really care :p
Once again, thanks for reading and I really hope you enjoyed it, this whole thing has been an experience for me.