Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto, Hinata does! Hinata, Naruto and all other characters likenesses are the Intellectual Property of Masashi Kishimoto, Shonen Jump and several other Japanese and international companies responsible for the production and distribution of the Naruto Manga and Anime. Kudos to all the parties involved except the company that owns the rights to distribute the Naruto Anime in the US, because they haven't released it yet. This story was written and distributed without written consent and is not intended for commercial gain.

This was one silver haired ninja who had run into the wrong group of female Ninja. They weren't his targets at all. They were a particularly unlikely group to be together this far away from the village. Obviously they were returning to their home of Konoha. But why were they out here in the first place?

Farthest from him was Kurenai, a tall dark haired woman who notably possessed red eyes. His information on her though sparse suggested that she favored illusionary techniques, though the fact that her clothing was adorned by wide strips of cloth wrapped around her decorated with a thorn pattern suggested that her clothing might be as functional as it was decorative. Her face went from congenial to almost passive when she saw him; her eyes only narrowing slightly

Next was a young fifteen year old girl. The sweater she wore concealed her maturing frame. Her jet black hair, pail complexion and nearly white irises revealed her as a member of the Hyuuga clan. Hinata Hyuuga, according to his carefully gathered data was of little threat and no consequence. Though she was the clan heir she was generally considered a disappointment and treated accordingly. Consequently she lacked confidence in herself as evidenced by the pained look of shock and fear that began to spread across her face as she noticed him.

Just in front of her a tall blond woman began to narrow her eyes. She was a medical specialist who knew some interesting enhancement techniques if the size of her bust and the fact that she appeared to be 20 something despite the fact that she was in her late 50's was any indicator. He knew from firsthand experience that she could overpower a grizzly bear as easily as a kitten. She was the most dangerous.

Finally in front with her head turned was the pink haired Sakura. His experience from the chuunin exams two and a half years ago indicated that she was a ninja thoroughly grounded in the basics without significant strength or skill. The looks on her companion's faces caused her to jerk her head back and send her hand to the shuriken pack on her leg. Her reaction time was good, but she still posed no threat.

The Sound Ninja Kabuto had been spotted by the wrong party. Now he had to determine how to best complete his mission. His heart beat sped up in anticipation of the fight that might be about to commence. Two insignificants, one of moderate threat and one of significant threat faced him. Could he defeat them if it came down to it?

He could not let this party find the Village of Hidden Sound. The Hokage could hardly afford to chase him deep into enemy territory, she was too important. Neither would it be prudent for her to attempt to return home unescorted. She could send the Jounin, Kurenai to track him but that would weaken her already weak escort critically. So if he could escape without confrontation he could double back and pick up his intended quarry. Could he do it?

"Oi! I promised to kill you, didn't I?"

Chapter 1: Full Strength

Tsunade hated diplomatic missions. When she got back home she would have a mountain of paperwork to do and reports to read. Sure she got to relax in luxury at the village's expense, but she wasn't allowed to gamble! No gambling and piled up paperwork, that's what these missions meant to her.

The mission was over now and in the end she wasn't even needed! She just sat there in her official capacity while various daimyos settled everything. Official capacity as a seat warmer she mussed. It had been a complete waste of her time, and now she would have more paperwork! She hated paperwork!

They were halfway home traveling the on footpaths through the forest. The plan had been for her escort to be all female so as not appear important or suspicious. While on the main roads they had all dressed the part of lower-class women on a trip. They dressed normally now that they were on the less traveled footpaths through the forest.

Tsunade had left Shizune in Konoha. As two of the best Medical Ninja she felt it best she leave at least one in Konoha at all times. She had brought her apprentice Haruno Sakura who was walking in front of her. The young woman behind her was Hyuuga Hinata. She had grown as much as Sakura had. When Tsunade had first met Hinata her looks had just screamed "squeeze me I'm cute." Since that time Hinata had gotten taller and her cuteness had melted into a soft, elegant beauty.

Hinata had been without a team since her two teammates Kiba and Shino had both become Chuunin last year. Tsunade hadn't been able to find a team for her so she had been assigned to various teams and missions since then. Tsunade had brought Hinata as well as her former Jounin team leader Kurenai to round out her escort.

She really needed to do something about Hinata. She felt bad about her failure to get her assigned to a new genin team, but truth be told Hinata was well qualified to be a chuunin herself if she just had a little more confidence. Her combat skills had grown over the last two and a half years to bring her well above genin combat level. She had a tendency to unbalance teams. Most genin deferred to ninjas more powerful than themselves. They just didn't know how to react to a ninja twice as powerful as themselves that always acted so submissive. It had a tendency to ruin the team's whole dynamic. Tsunade had been forced to juggle her around teams. Consequently Hinata had managed to save three different teams during failed missions. Hinata never seemed to get past the dejection of another failed mission to realize she had single-handedly saved her teammates lives.

Tsunade looked back at the shy genin behind her. She was walking with her head down exuding a lack of confidence. Even her cloths she chose to wear broadcasted it. The girl always wore a baggy sweater over her shirt to hide her figure. The poor girl wasn't very well endowed and it seemed that she was self conscious about that as well. She should probably slap the puberty fairy. Tsunade toyed with the idea of showing her a jutsu that would enhance the size of some of her particular assets, but there was a risk that if they grew in later that she would be noticeably artificially big. Well if Hinata didn't feel comfortable accepting a commendations for saving the lives of her teammates, because their mission had failed she probably wouldn't take unnatural enhancement well either.

She glanced back at Kurenai before looking forward. Tsunade had discussed Hinata's lack of confidence with her in hopes that as Hinata's former instructor she would know how to help. They had never come up with anything, though Tsunade knew she was holding something back. When she had asked what she wasn't telling her Kurenai simply said that it was currently impossible to use and they would have to find something else.

Surely the girl didn't feel weak. There were currently only two or three genin that Tsunade could think of that might be on her level. How had Seriu described her? He said she was like a force of nature; she just kept getting back up. Konohamaru had said she was like a monster. Tsunade was sure that he meant that as a complement, but she would have to talk to him about you do and do not speak about someone who had saved your life.

Maybe she could use Hinata's grasp of politics to help her. It had after all been Hinata's idea whispered into her ear and then quickly relayed to the daimyo that had saved the talks. Shinobi were seldom used for diplomacy, but perhaps she could find a way.

She was idly wondering if she could make helping with her paperwork sound like a reward when she suddenly realized that they weren't alone. Someone was up ahead of them. She narrowed her eyes as she saw him.

"Oi! I promised to kill you, didn't I?"

They had just entered a small clearing when she had spotted him and those words had come out of her mouth completely unbidden.

Tsunade's words caused Sakura, who had just finished turning around, to jerk causing her hand to miss the kunai in her holster. Sakura had never heard her sensei speak in such a scary voice. Her voice was almost dripping with hate. Sakura was taken aback, this person was a sound ninja, but what could he have done to upset Tsunade so badly?

Sakura apparently wasn't the only one who was surprised. Hinata spoke up hesitantly. "Ano, what did he do?" the shy girl asked.

"Surely you can't still be mad about that." The silver haired traitor yelled. "You can't expect us to go through all the effort to bring two people back if you don't fulfill your half of the bargain," continued the sound ninja as if lecturing.

Tsunade's response came in almost a whisper. "You almost killed him," she growled with her head hung down. Her voice while barely audible seemed to be dripping with even more venom then before. Her companions were anxious and confused.

Kabuto desperately wanted to keep her talking and off balance while he figured out a way to escape while still being close enough to pick up his intended targets, then he heard her response.

"What?" he asked incredulously. "You know that that demon must be destroyed before it falls into the wrong hands or decides to go on a rampage on its own!" Kabuto yelled back instantly as if it were the obvious thing.

"That boy is not a demon," Tsunade replied; her voice growing louder and bolder by the moment. "He is a brave shinobi of the Leaf!" Her head jerked up as she yelled the last few words out.

"Sensei," Sakura interrupted cautiously. "Who are you talking about?"

Kabuto's Voice rang out in response, "I can't understand why you let that thing live. Not only that but you keep such a dangerous secret from your own children." Turning to face Sakura Kabuto's face took on a conspiratorial looking grin. "You see little girl…"

"You will not tell her!" Tsunade's voice rang out interrupting him.

"Tell her that her friend Naruto is a demon," Kabuto taunted. "Or that the Fourth was such a weakling that he couldn't defeat the Kyuubi and had to seal him away inside a baby boy," Kabuto continued. Tsunade seemed to become even more agitated at these words. 'Perfect' Kabuto thought, if he could push her more he could be able to escape cleanly. "Or am I not supposed to tell her that every time she's been around him she has been in constant danger of being killed by that demon inside him?"

Sakura was dumbstruck. Hinata looked shattered and it was all that Kurenai could do not to rush over and embrace the poor girl. "Poor Naruto," the little girl mumbled almost inaudibly before her voice was drowned out by the Hokage's reply

"The Fourth's seal isn't so weak. That monster was permanently imprisoned inside of him. There is no way he can ever be released, and there is NO danger that he will take over Naruto!" the Tsunade's voice screamed out in reply.

'That silly girl actually looks relieved' Kabuto thought looking at Sakura. Noticing Tsunade's eyes had all but glazed over Kabuto determined that this would be his best chance to escape without conflict. "Believe what you like, but don't worry. If you are too weak to do what's needed, we'll take care of it," Kabuto said while turning.


The deep woman's voice was powerful and commanding. It sounded more like it had come out of the throat of a beast than a woman. It froze the fleeing ninja in his tracks. Tsunade was shocked that she'd yelled out without realizing it.


Tsunade was speechless. Those were the exact words in her heart, but she was sure she hadn't spoken them yet. It wasn't until she saw Hinata chasing a kunai flying toward the grey haired sound ninja that she realized that she hadn't spoken either of the last two statements! Sakura and Kurenai were both yelling for her to stop, but before Tsunade could react Kabuto had charged forward and she knew that she would be too late.

Kabuto had just begun the seals of the teleportation Jutsu he would need to escape when he noticed the kunai racing toward him. He instinctively jumped to the side to miss it when he suddenly realized he had been given the perfect opportunity. Landing on one foot he launched himself back at Hinata who was in fast pursuit of the kunai she had thrown at him.

Kabuto knew that all he had to do was debilitate this girl and the other three would likely be so busy trying to save her that they wouldn't be able to chase him until he was already gone. He formed his chakra scalpel in his right hand. All he had to do was throw a knife handed strike at her throat across her body so she would dodge to the inside. The scalpel would slice open her jugular vein and he would be able to escape while everyone was busy trying to save her.

He executed the strike perfectly, but instead of simply side stepping the attack Hinata sung her arm in a wide arc to parry his arm too far away for the scalpel to hit and began to counter with a palm strike to the stomach.

Knowing that he had to finish this fight fast he jumped flipping over her arm. All he had to do was land behind her and make a quick stab for her lungs. As long as he didn't kill her instantly they would have their hands full and he could get away. Twisting in mid air so he would land facing her he lunged forward, however Hinata had stepped through with her strike and was able to continue the motion spinning around and intercepting his strike with a crescent kick that sent a jolt of pain through his wrist. She followed through with the same palm strike as before.

He was had just been able to barely twist away from the strike when pain hit him in the stomach. Without thinking he jumped back into the sound of the other ninjas beginning to charge him. Without even looking first he jumped into the air flipping and twisting so that at the top of his arc, above were Hinata stood he was upside down in the air facing the oncoming women. He breathed in and blew out a large could of poison gas.

Sakura, who was the farthest behind in the mad rush to join the fight stopped, skidding with her heals and brought her forearm up over her mouth before she replaced it with a handkerchief. Tsunade jumped high and back landing behind Sakura also covering her mouth with her arm after taking a deep breath while in the air. Kurenai, who had been first to charge after Hinata, knew she was in trouble. She had instinctively taken a deep breath and held it when she saw what was happening, but she had been slightly two slow and had inhaled a small amount of poison as she was jumping back. She jumped back again and forcibly exhaled. She landed on her back her lungs already on fire.

Tsunade's head jerked back and forth as she decided what to do. She dove at Kurenai as she yelled, "Sakura, you have to help Hinata!"

"No," Hinata's quiet voice came floating through the still standing poison mist. "I said I would stop him," her steadily getting louder as she continued to speak. "And I will not take back my words; that is my ninja way!" she declared. Sakura only stopped for a moment and then began to try and find a way around the mist.

Seeing Kabuto performing some sort of jutsu in the air Hinata twisted and charged for where she estimated he would land. Landing with his back to her and immediately twisting his body the sound ninja barely avoided her palm strike as he jumped back still feeling a sharp pain in his kidney. Doing so, he managed to clip her in the head with a stiff crescent kick as he spun a round. She went down, but not before being able to land a chakra powered palm strike to the inside of one of his knees.

On the ground he placed both hands on the affected knee using a medical jutsu to suppress the pain. Jumping back up and using chakra from his left hand he began healing the damage to his wrist that had been caused by her first kick at the beginning of the confrontation. Exasperated he wondered if she had eyes in the back of her head. It was then that he heard Tsunade's order.

"No," Hinata's quiet voice climbed up from her position on the ground. "I said I would stop him," her steadily getting louder as she climbed to her feet. "And I will not take back my words; that is my ninja way!" she declared as she reached her feet

That was when he saw them; her eyes. His mind immediately filtered out how fierce and determined they looked, along with the grim look on her face; immediately showing him what he needed to see: byakugan. The Hyuuga family blood limit. That was how she had been able to react to him while he was behind her and how she was able to avoid the chakra scalpels. Suddenly the sharp pains he'd felt on those near misses made sense. Her family's fighting style was said to attack internal organs.

Kabuto realized that because he had known she wasn't a threat he hadn't taken into account her specific fighting techniques. He was actually pretty lucky he had landed that kick to her head, or he would have taken a bit more damage before he could have gotten a debilitating strike.

Reassessing the situation he realized that Tsunade presumably had begun to treat the Jounin who had inhaled the poison if she had sent Sakura to help Hinata. He could escape now, but if he didn't he would have to revert to his plan of giving this girl a debilitating injury.

Slowly he began to heal the damage to his stomach and kidney. That was the instant she charged palms out again. She planted her foot down with her body turned sideways from his extending both palms out from her body her legs spread wide and squatting in classic horse stance shoving one palm toward him. As he stepped to her inside attempting to kick her in the face she allowed herself to continue her motion down and around, ducking underneath his blow in a low spinning sweep. Jumping to avoid the sweep Kabuto brought his arms above his head and attempted to smash both of them down on the previously timid girl's head. Hinata put her whole body into the palm strike she sent to intercept the blow by extending her arm above her as she stood straight up. Seeing this at the last moment Kabuto opened his hands and pushed chakra out his palms in an attempt to ward off her chakra enhanced counter attack. As their hands collided he bent his elbows and extended again launching himself back away from her.

His body had begun to ache in numerous places from the near misses of the Hyuuga girl's 'gentle fist.' 'Gentle my butt,' he thought. That had to be one of the most misleading names he'd ever heard now that he'd fought against it. It was still insignificant he thought as he reached into the pouch he kept behind him for a pain suppressant. He would have to go without he realized, because she charged him the second he began to reach behind him.

Predictably she attacked him with another palm strike. He knew near misses would eventually take their toll on him. To avoid this he reached across his body and grabbed her wrist, twisting and kneeling in front of her with his back facing her. Her left palm moved toward his back, but it was too slow to prevent the tug he gave her arm from sending her over his back and onto her own in front of him. It did however manage to graze his back causing small, painful spasms.

Angry he thought that she must send a continual amount of chakra out her palms. He was wrong; Hinata didn't waste chakra like that. She only used chakra on blows that she intended to connect and if it was deflected too wide she would let it go to conserver energy.

Hinata rolled with the throw from her forward shoulder across her back to the opposite hip allowing her to turn and face her opponent again with just a quick swivel of her hips. She charged back in instantly this time hoping to catch him off guard. He deflected her arm wide again, but this time she managed to reverse the grip and turned stepping back under his armpit sending him onto his back. She had to jump to avoid his hands. She couldn't tell what he was doing with the chakra in his hands, but she knew she didn't want him to touch her ankles with it.

On the other side of the mist Sakura had finally gotten to the edge of it and was running around it to get back to Hinata. She berated herself again for not only running the direction the wind had blown the mist, but also along the side that it appears that sound S.O.B. had blown out more mist. She should have paid better attention. It's the first few moments of a battle that are the most critical she reminded herself hoping she would be able to get to Hinata in time.

Tsunade had just finished with Kurenai's lungs. She wasn't in danger of dying anymore, but she needed rest. But rest was something that Kurenai was unwilling to do while her student was battling to the death with an enemy ninja. Judging that the mist would likely clear before she could get around it Tsunade turned to yell at the stubborn Jounin.

"When the mist clears I'll go save her, but you have to rest!"

"Hokage-sama, I can't…"

"You can and you will! If you don't rest here I'll knock you out myself!"

Tsunade looked back through the fading mist. It would be safe for her to run through if she held her breath in just a few moments. Sakura was nowhere to be seen. She hoped that the girl was ok. Currently Hinata and that infernal sound ninja were squared off looking at each other. Kabuto was breathing heavily but Hinata was bent over panting, almost gasping for air. From what she had been able to tell through the mist Hinata had barely been able to keep up and that murdering Kabuto had been slowly picking her apart.

Kabuto was becoming upset. He was trying to defeat that girl while expending as little chakra as possible. But every time he sped up she matched him. He had barely been able to stay on top of in this fight and was wasting far too much chakra. He still had a whole other mission he needed to complete. The girl had coming at him so relentlessly he hadn't been able to escape. Now that the mist was thinning he would have to revert to his original plan of giving the girl a debilitating injury. It shouldn't bee too hard, he had been wearing her down throughout the whole fight. He hadn't been able to give her any serious internal injuries, she always seemed to squirm out of the way when he was using his chakra scalpel, so he hadn't been able to do more than cause minor hemorrhaging and rips in her muscles, but the girls hits and near misses had begun to give him aches all over his body. It was over now though; a couple of exchanges ago he had managed to puncture one of her lungs. The girl had impressively still been able to fight, but she'd been slowing down. He'd put an end to it now.

Hinata had managed to get several solid hits in, especially when she had started leading with her left hand. She had caught him flatfooted the first time she had done it. She did it again on the next exchange and he hadn't been able to block it completely. On the third exchange he had managed to block the left hand completely, but missed the left foot that clipped him in the head. The sound ninja had excellent recovery techniques but she could tell that the damage to his chakra circulatory system had begun to take its toll. His recovery time was dropping steadily.

Hinata didn't know what he had been doing with the chakra in his hands, but she'd been extra careful to avoid it when possible. It would be impossible for someone without the Byakugan to attack the chakra circulatory system, at least not without extensive training from someone who did. That attack a little while ago had some how affected her insides; she couldn't breath. He had to be attacking her internal organs. Human anatomy is fairly well known so it's quite possible for anyone to create techniques that could damage internal organs.

Hinata was no medical specialist, but the Hyuuga had techniques that allowed one to affect the chakra circulatory system to improve healing. She started sending chakra to the areas around and trough her lungs in a way that she could only describe as massaging.

She needed a few moments for her lungs to begin to recuperate, so she decided to let him make the first move. She wouldn't let him get away to hurt Naruto-kun though. Desperately she wracked her mind for a plan. With his recovery speed on the decline she could probably beat him if she did things the painful way, but that was a last resort and didn't constitute an effective plan.

Kabuto calculated that the damage too her lungs should have become debilitating enough by now and charged her. The mist was clearing and it was now or never. Another small puncture in the lungs should be easily accomplished now and would fit his needs perfectly. He'd have to rest a bit before engaging his target, but as long as he didn't kill the girl instantly he should get away fine.

Hinata took up the charge instantly, but he was too fast. She knew she wouldn't be able to avoid the chakra in his hands this time as it sped to the other side of her chest. She leaned back attempting to duck the blow and roll backward. She wouldn't have made it if a kunai hadn't thunked into ground between them causing him to jerk his hand back.


Tsunade charged through the mist holding her breath with her arms over her eyes and mouth. She had seen Hinata and Kabuto charging each other and knew Hinata wasn't going to be able to beat him. She also knew she wouldn't get there in time, but she had to try. She heard a loud 'thunk' as she was running followed by the sound of a body rolling, but couldn't uncover her eyes for another couple of steps. Had Sakura made it in time? It was while she was uncovering her mouth and eyes that she heard the loud voice.


Tsunade opened her eyes and looked to her right in time to see Hinata rolling back and then come to a stop, both feet and one hand skidding on the ground. In front of her Kabuto had jumped back from the kunai that was embedded deep in the ground. That hadn't been Sakura yelling, that voice defiantly belonged to a man. Tsunade stepped to her right so she could keep her eyes on Kabuto and see who this new stranger was. That was when she first saw him again after two and a half years.

Naruto was standing in the branch of a tree glaring at Kabuto. 'He's gotten taller' was Tsunade's first thought. Not finished growing yet; he was head and shoulders shorter than Jiraiya. He wore an orange jacket that was just like he used to wear, but it was a little too small for him. It hung high enough to show a black cloth belt wrapped around his waist several times and didn't make it all the way down his arms. Instead of Orange Cargo Pants he wore Navy Blue pants that were tied with black strips around his lower legs matching the hand wrappings that he wore around his hands and forearms. His face bore the most interesting changes though. It still bore the whisker marks on his cheeks, but his face had lost its chubbiness. He'd kept his hair short, but he was beginning to resemble the fourth more and more.

"Hey Naruto! No friendly banter, no talk about old times; just a death threat? I though after all we had been through I'd get more than that." Kabuto's words snapped Tsunade out of her reverie.

Kabuto had finally found his quarry, but there should be one more. It would be difficult to deal with Naruto with just Jiraiya around. Having Tsunade and her two remaining nuisances would be difficult. He wanted to keep Naruto talking, something usually pretty easy to do, while he thought up a plan.

"First you attacked Tsunade-ba-chan. I told you I would never forgive you for what you had done. Did you think that attacking more of my friends would make me change my mind?" Naruto yelled the last bit out as he shook a fist. Unfortunately his sudden rush of emotion caused him to fall off his branch. He landed in an ungainly squat with one hand on the ground.

Sakura arrived just in time to see Naruto fall and seeing the current stand off she leaned over hands on knees to rest next to Hinata's crouched form. Tsunade sighed, mumbling "baka," under her breath. Sakura struggled valiantly, if unsuccessfully to keep from giggling. Hinata couldn't help but grin as she stood up. "Thank you," she muttered softly.

Kabuto had used the pause in conversation to grab the food pill from the pouch he wore on his back. He knew he'd need it if he was going to fight Naruto. He almost dropped it when he saw Naruto fall. Sighing loudly he put the pill in his mouth and began to chew. Knowing that his mission stood a better chance of success if he could get Naruto to chase him away from everyone else, preferably away from his instructor who had just walked out of the tree line behind him to yell at his student, Kabuto searched the recesses of his mind for a way to do so. A grin lit up his face as he performed the medical jutsu he'd created that would allow him to turn the food pill he'd just eaten into energy he could use instantly to enhance his speed and strength. He had come up with a way to get Naruto to chase him. It was perfect; all he needed was to get that Hyuuga girl to attack him again.

Turning to Hinata who had stood up, but still seemed to be breathing heavily he began to implement his plan. "It's a good thing the idiot here showed up, you were about to die a disgrace, proving your own uselessness," Kabuto taunted her in a snide voice. "I can't decide if it's ironic or just plain sad that the Hyuuga heiress would be the weakest member of the clan," he continued. "As if you could actually stop me from doing anything I wanted, I am insulted!" Kabuto yelled, his tirade continuing. "So tell me are you willing to die for your ninja way?" the sound ninja asked with a snide grin.

"It takes more strength to live something than it takes to die for something," Hinata's reply came out between gasps for breath.

Before Hinata could continue Naruto yelled out. "Hey your fight with her is over; I'm your opponent now."

"No!" came Hinata's somewhat weak yell interrupting what was likely to become a long speech. "I said I would stop him, and he won't lay a finger on you!" Hinata's said as forcefully as she could.

"But Hinata, you aren't in any shape to fight, let me fight him for you," Naruto replied worriedly.

"I will not take back my words!" Hinata said more forcibly, leaving the other half of that statement they both knew unsaid. Naruto's brow furrowed, he didn't know how to deal with this situation if it was a matter of nindo.

"I will not allow you to fight Hinata-chan," Tsunade's voice rang in.

Ignoring her Hinata turned to face Kabuto. "You were right about one thing, it is a good thing that Naruto showed up," she said her words coming more easily now. "When he left I promised my self that I would get stronger too so that when he got back I could show him how strong I had become." Hinata's words seemed to strike a chord in Naruto's heart causing him to turn to face her, whispering her name questioningly. Hinata continued on as if she hadn't noticed. "I also promised that I wouldn't use my full strength until he was there to see it," Hinata stated her voice growing more even and confident. "It was going to be difficult to defeat you without it, but my ninja way is to never to take back my words," Hinata finished her statement at almost a yell her breath now coming evenly and easily.

Sakura was stunned and speechless as the once seemingly incapacitated Hinata walked away from her in perfect fighting condition. Tsunade and Naruto both leaned back in shock at the sight while Jiraiya just stood their appraisingly. All of their attention was suddenly shifted back to Kurenai as she started to grunt as she moved to stop her one time pupil.

Kabuto couldn't believe the idiocy of it all. They were going to let him fight her without protest. Everything would work according to plan now. He had trouble hiding his grin.

Hinata reached down to her waist and pulled the jacket she was wearing over her head and threw it away. All eyes were suddenly drawn to her chest. Hinata hadn't expected to take of her jacket that day and was only wearing a small spandex tube top. 'This girl must have tipped the puberty fairy,' Jiraiya thought as he examined Hinata's no longer weighted down breasts.

Everyone's head jerked in unison toward the sound of a loud crunch when Hinata's jacket hit a small tree and crushed it. That is all but Jiraiya who couldn't take his eyes off Hinata's bosom. Jiraiya almost grabbed his pad to start taking notes before he stopped himself. He would have to burn everything into memory so he could write it down in his notes later.

Hinata found that the only way she could suppress her mortification at being so scantily clad was to keep moving. Everyone's eyes returned to her as she knelt down on one knee and reached under the cloth wraps around her calves and pulled out two more weights. Jiraiya had leaned forward, unable to keep from leering at the poor girl's posterior and legs showing through her tight pants when he suddenly found Naruto's elbow in his stomach. The heavy sounding thump of the weights hitting the grass left everyone, including Kurenai and Kabuto speechless.

Kabuto was still in a state of shock when he found himself nose to nose with the fierce looking Hyuuga girl then found himself cratered in a tree. He barely came to his senses as she came charging him with a look of fierce determination more fitting a monster than her smooth features. Jumping too the side to avoid her palm he heard the tree he had landed against explode into a shower of splinters.

Stunned Kabuto just stood there as the splinters scratched him, his face betraying his shock, until the sharp pain of her not so gentle palm strike filled his side. Kabuto attempted to jump away, but was forced to step back to avoid a branch from the tree that had just exploded. Jumping over the tree as it fell; Hinata sent Kabuto flying again with a kick to the back of the head.

Able to react for the First time Kabuto rolled with the fall coming up facing an again charging Hinata. He threw a kunai straight at her. Suddenly she was in the air coming down toward him. With a smirk he threw two handfuls of shuriken stars at her. He stood there watching as the girl began a spin, but was forced to step back as the swirling sphere of chakra that surrounded her in the air sent the shuriken in several different directions, one of which was straight back at him. Continuing to spin as the cloud dissipated; Hinata swung one of her legs out, chakra being expelled from it like it had been in the kaiten, divination whirl, she had just used. The attack hit him in the side of the jaw, undoubtedly breaking it and sending him flying past Tsunade who had to lean away to keep from getting hit.

The sound ninja flew right over Kurenai's body, but she couldn't take her eyes off of her former student. She hadn't seen her fight so determinedly since that first Chuunin exam. And she'd never seen Hinata with such a fierce face. It almost frightened her to see the most kind and loving girl she had ever met become so fierce, but she knew why. Even the most docile of animals will become vicious for that same reason.

Hinata began to slowly saunter toward the vile sound ninja in the most intimidating way she could manage. Her face showed a grim, fatal determination. Kabuto saw all of this as he pulled himself out of the crater in the tree. Quickly Kabuto began the seals he would need to escape. Seeing her mistake too late Hinata began to run at her enemy as she reached into her leg holster for the last of her shuriken stars. Hurriedly she threw her last three at the departing ninja. Tsunade had to jump out of the way of one of the stars that weren't heading exactly toward the target. The grey haired ninja disappeared in a puff of smoke just before one of the stars embedded itself in the tree just behind where his head had been. The other two struck other trees behind it quickly thereafter.

Other people might have yelled or cursed at this, but Hinata just came to a stop and began to look and feel dejected while everyone else just stared in varied states of shock. Naruto, however almost instantly came to his senses. "Ero-Senin, we have to go after him," Naruto yelled as he began to move toward where the sound ninja had last been standing. As everyone else finally registered what had just happened, Naruto stopped and faced Hinata. "That was incredible Hinata, you've gotten really strong." "You'll have to let me train with you when I get back," his words brought a familiar warmth to her cheeks. Naruto didn't notice because he had turned his head back to his eccentric master. He was breathing in to yell at his sensei, who had yet to move from the spot he was standing. At least he wasn't still leering at Hinata.

"Naruto-kun!" Hinata's voice rang out. "Let me go with you," her voice came out in a rush.

'Go for it,' Sakura's inner voice cried out.

Kurenai grinned and chuckled slightly on the ground as she mentally cheered Hinata on. Looking back and forth between Kurenai and Hinata Tsunade realized what she hadn't been told. Realization dawned on her and her face lit up with a grin. Scheming soon followed.

"Err…. You do realize it's a trap don't you?" Naruto asked bashfully. Tsunade and Sakura did a double take and Hinata just let out a slight gasp. Jiraiya put one hand on the back of his neck and let his head droop down, resigning himself to the explosion that was about to take place.

What?" Tsunade yelled. "You were about to intentionally walk into a trap!" Tsunade came stomping up to Naruto. Hinata seemed to cringe for Naruto. Naruto however simply began to laugh nervously as he put one hand behind his head.

"Well that's the thing about traps," he began to relate. "They keep your enemy overconfident because they know that you're walking into their trap. They'll show you things that they shouldn't or stay when they should run away, because you're in their trap and they figure they've got you so it doesn't matter. Then all you've got to do is beat them up."

Tsunade had almost reached Naruto when she turned and bellowed at the man that was supposedly his instructor and guardian. "You were going to let your student knowingly walk into a trap?" she shouted incredulously. Furrowing his brow and leaning back as if searching for the right words, he never got to speak, because he was interrupted by his student.

"It was his idea," Naruto piped in. "We weren't able to find Orochimaru's hideout and the three years until he can take over Sasuke's body is almost up. So we figured if we let Kabuto lure us into a trap at his base we could find out where it is and take Sasuke back." Naruto's words all came out in a rush.

While Sakura was touched Tsunade only got angrier. Bellowing at her fellow Sanin she began her lecture as if she was addressing some very obnoxious students. "You job wasn't to search for Sasuke and Orochimaru. I have other people doing that. When I asked you to take Naruto-kun I asked you to keep him safe from the Akatsuke. Now I want you to tell me what reason you could possibly have to take the person you were protecting into a dangerous situation like that. Why were you not only taking him deep into enemy territory, but knowingly walking into a trap with no chance for support?" Loudly taking in deep breaths she waited for his reply.

Trying to interrupt Naruto began to speak: "Tsunade-ba-chan, we don't have much time, Kabuto will…."

Naruto was stopped by Tsunade's hands squeezing his cheeks as she brought her face within an inch of his. Hinata gasped, leaning back and bringing her arms up in a warding gesture. Tsunade's began to speak quietly and in an artificial voice, much like what one might use to address a baby or small child. "Naruto-kun, I need you to be quiet now so I can hear your sensei explain time me why I shouldn't kill him!" The last two words came out in a squeak.

Jiraiya put both of his hands out in front of his chest fingers splayed as if to hold her anger back as Tsunade turned to glare at him. "You see he was so dead set on finding Sasuke that searching for him was the only way I could keep him from running out on his own," he began to explain stuttering. Seeing that his explanation so far didn't appear to be enough he continued. "It's been a great training tool! The boy has learned a great deal about gathering information from people, tracking and spy nets." Still not enough to placate the woman he began to stutter worse. "Showing how something would help find Sasuke and bring him back was the only way I could get him to pay attention to lessons on tactics and learn techniques that he thought were boring." He was laying it on a little thick but he was trying to avoid the nuclear pounding he felt coming on. These kids would tell their grandchildren about how the fifth Hokage had pounded him so badly that he couldn't look at a woman without feeling pain for months. Make-Out Violence number 5 would be delayed for a year!

Tsunade could tell that Jiraiya was just trying to avoid another one of her butt whuppings, but what he said was likely in essence true. He had been tracking Sasuke to keep the reins on Naruto so he could protect him. He likely was also hoping that Naruto could save his friend where Jiraiya had been unable to save his own.

That was all well and good, but he was not taking her little Naruto-kun into this trap. She put her foot down! "Alright, but you are not walking into this trap," she yelled.

"But, Oh-ba-chan…" Naruto began only to be cut off by an irate Tsunade.

"You are ordered by your Hokage to return to Konoha immediately. That is final!"

"But…" Naruto began again.

"I will not have my plans sabotaged by two overeager, hormonally driven, overgrown teenagers!" Tsunade yelled cutting him off again. This time she really did put her foot down, crushing a rock in the process.

Naruto and Jiraiya seemed to be satisfied by this, or at least set back. Naruto knew that Orochimaru wanted him dead bad enough to set this trap again. He'd have another chance to find Sasuke. Jiraiya didn't want his butt handed to him, so he elected to act contrite until it appeared Tsunade had forgiven him.

They were all about to turn and leave when Hinata, her hands held nervously in front of her bowed low. "I'm sorry Naruto-san, I failed again," she said humbly. Clearly taken back Naruto lost his balance for a moment. "Ah, what do you mean Hinata?" the dumbstruck boy asked after he turned to face her.

"I let him get away, after I said I wouldn't let him go. I made a mistake and he got away. I failed to keep my word." The poor girl seemed to be on the verge of tears. Naruto looked confused, but the pain of another affected him the way it always did.

He responded in a loud voice. "You don't need to apologize, you didn't promise not to let him go, you just said you wouldn't let him go and you didn't. He got away because of luck. Besides if you kept him from running it would have ruined the plan," Naruto answered in a rush. "You did great…You kept your word and fought him with everything you had. You'll get him next time for sure….unless of course he runs away as soon as he sees you. Ha. Ha. Ha." He chuckled nervously at the girl who was beginning to look up in front of him. "Yeah, I bet you scared him so bad he wets his pants the next time he sees you," Naruto kept going apparently not seeing the blush on the poor, embarrassed girls face.

Knowing that it would take some effort to stop the boy before he ran out of gas on his own Tsunade left the boy to his barrage of complements while she made sure Kurenai was ready to travel. Naruto hadn't been able to stop by the time she was done, so she had needed to yell at him to get moving or be left behind. Not smart enough to be left behind with the blushing girl, they had both hurried after.

Naruto had spent the whole trip grilling the two young ladies for information about themselves and their collective friends. Things had gone well and Hinata had reacted positively under the attention. Everything was going wonderful until Naruto had asked Sakura for a date. Tsunade had been about to go back and pound him for ruining her plans, but Sakura had used the strength she had gained training under her to send Naruto into a tree. This had earned Sakura several complements from the boy. Unfortunately one was to compare her to 'Old-Lady-Tsunade', which had earned him another trip crashing into a tree courtesy of 'Old-Lady-Tsunade Aeronautics and Pain ltd.'

Tsunade spent most of the trip scheming. Now that she knew what Kurenai had been holding back and she had Naruto back she could begin working on Hinata's confidence issues. But was she acting out of her concern for her subordinates as Hokage or was she playing the scheming match maker.

Jiraiya, seeing the crooked grin that adorned her face kept quiet. He was even too scared to get out his note book to take down notes for his book. He would just have to go over the recent events in his head until he burned them into memory for his next book.

End Chapter 1

After reading a fair amount of Naruto Fanfiction, I got tired of reading stories where on his own Naruto went from not noticing Hinata to cleaning her tonsils in 20 minutes or 2 paragraphs. Now I can see Hinata suddenly doing this, she's wanted to for most of her life and if she ever managed to gather the courage, I imagine sparks would fly. But even if Naruto finally did notice I suspect it would still take a little bit of time for him to make a move and for things to progress.

Well I decided I didn't have a right to complain if I couldn't do any better, so here's my attempt.