With that Tsunade left, followed closely by a grinning Sakura

"I'll be right back, you two… Make yourselves comfortable"

With that Sakura swept out the door as well, leaving two blushing ninja behind her.

Naruto and Hinata stared at each other for a moment before both blushed slightly and looked away. Tenkichi, Unknown to the shinobe in the room, was rolling his eyes at the blatant display of mutual and unmentioned attraction. An uncomfortable silence settled on the room as Naruto tried to decided what to say next. Hinata had planned out what she was going to say, but was trying to gather her courage enough to actually say something. Coincidently both opened their mouths to speak at about the same instance, but the little phoenix beat them both to it.

"Well? Are you going to use the feather or not?"

With a grimace that he directed at his feathered visitor Naruto carefully reached over and pulled his backpack up next to the bed. Pulling out the feather he looked it over before experimentally waving it over a deep bruise on his arm.

"Um, nothing is happening Tenkichi-san"

The phoenix nearly fell backwards off the headboard in exasperation, and Hinata had to stifle a giggle at the sight.

" Oh for the love of… Look, you have to channel a healing Jutsu though the feather, it acts as a focus, its not some 'magic wand' you can just wave around and cause things to happen."

"What's a 'Magic Wand?"

Tenkichi rolled his eyes again and Hinata found it MUCH harder to keep from giggling

"Never mind. You, Girl."

"Her name is Hinata." Said Naruto crossly.

Tenkichi ignored him and continued speaking.

"Do you know any healing Techniques?

Hinata gave a small nod.

"Good, grab the feather before that idiot manages to hurt himself with it, then use any healing Jutsu and pick the feather up, it will automatically channel and Amplify the natural flow of chakra from healer to patient."

It was only the matter of a few minutes time before Naruto began to notice a change, it started gradually, and it grew in strength, until Naruto could literally feel his muscles knitting themselves back into place. Noticing the shocked and then interested look on Naruto's face Tenkichi spoke again, choosing his words with care as he remembered that Naruto had told nobody about the Kyuubi.

It's your tenant's fault

Startled Naruto looked up with a questioning look

The more often a Phoenix focus is used on you, the stronger the body responds to it. Meaning that because of your former tenant we could claim that you have several years of structural repair, especially considering some of the injuries you've recovered from. Your body is naturally in tune with it, so it works far better on or for you.

Nodding Naruto closed his eyes and let the warm tingling sensation of the Jutsu wash over him. It took only moments for Hinata to finish, unfortunately for he Sakura chose that moment to walk in.

"Hyuuga Hinata! What in Kami's name are you doing to Naruto?"

Hinata jumped and blushed, trying to hide the feather behind her back. Naruto Opened his eyes, indignant at having what amounted to a Jutsu massage interrupted.

"Go away Sakura, Hinata was just helping me heal faster."

Quirking an eyebrow Sakura smirked.

"Is that what they call it nowadays?"

Both Hinata and Naruto Blushed, and Naruto protested.

"Aw, come on Sakura-san, Hinata isn't that kind of a girl. She was using the feather as a focus for the Jutsu."

Sakura was about to make another smart remark when Tsunade spoke up from behind her.

"And what Jutsu would that be? What have you to been doing?"

Hinata's blush deepened again, but Naruto didn't seem to know when to stop.

" Come on Nee-Chan. You and Sakura are as bad as Ero-Sennin."

Tsunade's face darkened at the comparison to Jirayia, and Naruto hurried on with his explanation.

"It was just a small healing Jutsu… for the bruises."

Tenkichi found the interaction rather amusing, but it had gone on far to long for his taste.

"Well, I can see that nothing worth staying for is happening here either… I'll check back tomorrow. Maybe you'll be up to something worthwhile by then."

Bowing slightly Tenkichi disappeared in a puff of red flames. Sighing Naruto shook his head and then looked at Hinata before rolling his eyes. Hinata giggled again at Naruto's reaction. It took just a moment for the two of them to realize that neither Tsunade nor Sakura had moved a muscle since Tenkichi left. Naruto stared at them silently for a moment before deciding that something was odd. They were both looking slack-jawed at the place where Tenkichi had sat moments before. Naruto had just decided to say something when Tsunade moved quickly foreward.

"Sakura, did you see that?"

Sakura to was now rapidly approaching the place where Naruto's friend had sat.

"Yes Tsunade-sama. There was a trill of birdsong that seemed to be directed at Naruto, and then the bird burst into flame."

Turning on Naruto Tsunade put on a stern face

"Now Naruto, If that bird was annoying you that badly you could have just asked us to get rid of it for you."

"Yes, there was no reason to set it on fire." Sulked Sakura "You probably just killed a one of a kind rare species."

Naruto traded confused looks with Hinata.

"But, But I didn't do anything to it."

"Come now Naruto," said Tsunade "Sakura and I were both standing right here. Do you honestly expect us to believe that the bird just Spontaneously burst into flames?"

Naruto stuttered for a moment before answering

"It… It did though! That's how they travel!"

Sakura was now looking worriedly at Naruto before pulling Tsunade aside.

"Tsunade-sama, we may have to check for head trauma. Naruto is obviously delusional, setting birds on fire and then claiming he's helping them travel is NOT rational."

Tsunade nodded and gave Naruto a briefly sympathetic look. Neither knew about Naruto's improved hearing though, and their comments questiong his sanity did not sit well with him.

"I'm telling you it's TRUE!"

"Of course Ototo," said Tsunade, as she gave Naruto the old Number forty-seven smile… the one reserved for the delusional.

"Don't worry about it." Said Sakura mimicking her teacher "We'll just keep the birds away for a while and you can tell us all about…"

It was then that Hinata intervened

"A…Anno Hokage-sama, Sakura-san, But N… Naruto is telling the truth."

Surprised, Tsunade and Sakura both turned to the blushing Hyuuga heir

"Hinata!" Admonished Tsunade "I know that you feel responsible for Naruto Injury's, but that is no reason to support his delusion"

Sakura was frowning at this point as well

"Seriously Hinata, how can you support such a wild statement?"

Now Naruto may have learned Poise, etiquette, and patience over the last couple of weeks, but for some reason he just couldn't sit by and listen to Tsunade and Sakura slandering Hinata. Himself he could handle, but not somebody whose confidence was as fragile as Hinata's.

"Now Listen Here Baa-Chan." Said Naruto angrily "She's not lying, and I'm not delusional. Hinata, show them the feather."

Hesitantly Hinata brought the feather foreward and handed it to Tsunade. Both Tsunade and Sakura gave Naruto a questioning look before examining the feather.

"It's quite lovely Naruto, but I really don't see how this feather could prove…"

"Use any healing Jutsu while you hold it. I just DARE you."

Tsunade and Sakura both shared guarded looks.

"Alright Naruto, if you agree to drop this nonsense when nothing happens then we agree…"

"I'll do no such thing. I fully intend to prove that the phoenix exist."

Again Tsunade and Sakura shared a look. This time it was Sakura that spoke.

"Naruto, I don't know where you got the story of the phoenix from, but there is no such thing."

Naruto was quickly turning a rather dangerous shade of red that had nothing to do with neither embarrassment nor heat.

"Use the Jutsu. I dare you."

Shrugging, Tsunade did just that. She hadn't really expected anything to happen so she was surprised when the feather first absorbed her Chakra and then released it at several times the strength through it's tip. She immediately stopped, and then proceeded to repeat the process with several different Justus's before replying.

"Alright Naruto, I can't deny that you have found a rather remarkable feather, but I still don't see how this explains your belief in phoenix."

Naruto sighed, his anger quickly dissipating.

"You need proof? Iron clad indisputable proof?"

Tsunade shook her head sadly

"Naruto don't worry about it, just a couple of short tests to see exactly why your believing fairy tales and then you'll be free to go."

Naruto had relaxed when he heard 'Don't worry about it' but the fact that Tsunade was once again disbelieving him made him angry again.

"You want to know why? I'll TELL you why. CAUSE I CAN SUMMON THEM!"

Shaking her head Tsunade prepared to put old number forty-seven back on when Naruto sat up in bed (exposing a mighty buff looking chest I might add)

"I'll PROVE IT!"

Biting his thumb Naruto ran it over the tattoo of a feather on his right forearm. (He got the tattoo when he received the phoenix blood) Tsunade had noticed it before but had assumed that it was nothing more than an inking, that is, she assumed it until Naruto Yelled out,


There was a bright flash of light and then Tsunade and Sakura blinked at the sight of the bird that had burst into flame moments before as it sprang into being. Looking around, a slightly annoyed Tenkichi turned to Naruto

"What do you want? Ready to do something exciting?"

Naruto spoke aloud for the benefit of Tsunade and Sakura who were once again staring in awe.

"The old Bat and the young Idiot over there don't believe that you're a phoenix."

Tenkichi turned his head to look at Tsunade and Sakura

"They don't believe it hmm?"

There was a brief burst of flame and then Tsunade felt something settle on to her shoulder before a voice spoke in her head.

So you don't believe in Phoenix? That's a pity, because I believe I am. I really should do something to you for doubting, but to be honest that would be a rather crappy way of thanking you for finishing the healing job we started. Therefore consider yourself warned. The boy is serious, he's one of us now, and we don't take kindly to people disbelieving the blood. Understand? Good.

With those Parting words and a quick grin for Naruto Tenkichi once again disappeared in a puff of flame (Singeing Tsunade's hair as he left). Again there was a shocked silence into which Naruto smugly grinned before adding.

"Believe me now?"

Nodding numbly Tsunade stood and motioned for Sakura to follow her. just before she left the room Tsunade turned to Naruto and said, rather numbly.

"I'm sorry I doubted you Ototo, I'll have some food sent with a nurse." With those words Tsunade left leaving behind her a grinning Naruto and a (once again) blushing Hinata.

As our hero was fighting with Tsunade, across town another fight was shaping up.

"Ino, stop that. I've been well enough to feed myself for two days now."

"Oh, come on Shika-kun. Mom said you're well enough to leave today if you want to, just let me have a little fun."

Sighing Shikamaru opened his mouth and allow Ino to put a rice ball in it for him.

"Ja gnow, dish ish really Troublshome."

Smiling, Ino replied.

"Yes, I know. That's why I'm doing it."

Shikamaru rolled his eyes and swallowed

She's been doing that since the first day. If I didn't know better I'd swear she's enjoying herself FAR too much. 'sigh' At least she isn't one of those troublesome fan girls. Who KNOWS what would have happened if one of THEM got their claws on me.

Shikamaru had just opened his mouth for another bite when Chouji slammed open the door to the room


Shikamaru and Ino had both jumped when the door opened, and both had blushed at the slightly compromising situation they found themselves in. Luckily Chouji seemed to be too winded to have noticed Ino with a chopstick full of food halfway to Shikamaru's mouth. Shikamaru recovered his composure first.

" 'Sigh' so troublesome. What news Chouji? What's got you so excited?"

Breathing deeply Chouji held up one hand in a futile attempt to buy himself some time. Unfortunately Ino had recovered by this point.

"Come on now, Surely your not THAT tired, I know that you supposedly get your stamina from food, but your endurance should be higher…"

"Ino… wheeze… Fuck you…wheeze. I burned too much… wheeze… Muscle when I wheeze fought that guy. Wheeze I'm not … wheeze… Recovered yet."

So Shikamaru and Ino waited Patiently (or rather Impatiently on Ino's part) for Chouji to recover his breath enough to speak properly. After what seemed a lifetime Chouji finally got his breathing back under control

"It's about Naruto."

Both Shikamaru and Ino looked down at the floor.

"Chouji" Said Shikamaru Roughly "Why On earth do you want to talk about him?"

"Ya" added Ino as she wiped away a tear "Why would you bring him up?" (She had heard from Hinata that He died on the way back from Suna)

Chouji looked from one to the other before the beginnings of a smile tugged at the corners of his mouth.

"He's alive."

The reactions that Chouji got weren't at all what he had expected. He had thought that he would get a smile from Shikamaru, and possibly an excited squeal from Ino. What he got instead was a dark look and more tears.

"Chouji, You've always been a good friend to me, so I'm going to tell you this now. That joke is in Very bad taste."

"But… But its true!"

At his comment Ino just cried harder. Chouji opened his mouth to explain when Ino cut him off.

"N…Not any hic Anymore. He… He died protecting H Hic Hinata on the way back from Sand."

Shikamaru had opened his mouth (Possibly to shout at Chouji for upsetting Ino, although the thought would have shocked him) But he shut his mouth and gave Ino a considering stare instead.

Did I miss something? Hasn't Naruto been dead for more than three weeks now? He died on the mission to bring back Sasuke didn't he?

Ino had pretty much managed to clean up her tears by this point, and, seeing the confused looks on the faces of her friends, sat down to tell about her Mission to Suna.

"Look, I told you before, focus. If you can't keep your focus even your Sharingan are only another flashy trick."

Sasuke growled in frustration. It had been two days since the odd girl had found him spying on Sakura and Lee on their date. Frankly it had been two days of the purest hell for him. Sasuke had gone to bed late that night wondering how his life had gotten so screwed up. It was a surprise therefore when he had been woken by somebody throwing a large amount of VERY cold water on him.




"oh Saaaauuuuuske?"




"Next time wake up the first time."


"Rule one, when I talk you don't"

Sasuke glowered at her from where he sat on the floor of his room

"Why the hell should I listen to you?"

Sebeki had just stood there. After a moment (and a VERY sharp look) she replied.

"I'll let you get by with the comment this time, but from here on you will address me respectfully during training time, or else you will have your ass handed to you. As for why you should listen."

Sebeki Pulled a scroll out of her pocket and tossed it at him.

"Until your regular instructor can be spared I'm going to be your sensei. From now on we will be up with the sun. We will start with three laps around the village followed by 100 sit-ups, and 100 pushups. This will be followed by chakra control exercises. After that we will either spar, or I will assign you additional exercises. From the time you wake up to the time I say you're finished for the day you will address me as Saratobi-sensei. Once we're done I suppose that I can settle for Sebeki-san. Try to get any more intimate than that and you'll beg for death before I'm done with you… You have no questions because I don't trust you to think for yourself yet. Meet me downstairs in five minutes and we'll begin."

It had started badly, and had gotten even worse. He had scanned through the scroll enough to realize that she was telling the truth about being his teacher. Unfortunately he hadn't much cared for her attitude. Being the bright person he was, he decided that it was a good idea to knock her down a few pegs, and the moment she had turned her back he had struck, or he tried to strike anyway. He had launched a spinning kick at her head, but it never connected. With an ease that can only come from experience, Sebeki had reached up, caught his leg, and then promptly flipped him square on his ass. Sasuke of course wasn't the kind of person to take things like that sitting down (no pun intended). He had activated his Sharingan just in time to feel the blade of a kunai on his neck.

"Lose the lights Ototo."

Sasuke growled low in his throat, an almost animalistic sound.

"Lets get one thing straight woman. I. AM. NOT. YOUR. LITTLE. BROTHER."

Executing a perfect leg sweep, Sasuke had managed to knock that annoying red-haired bitch on her ass as well. Jumping quickly to his feet Sasuke prepared to repel her next attack. Therefore he was shocked when she started laughing.

"What the HELL is so funny?" he snarled

This comment caused Sebeki to laugh all the harder. She was now laughing so hard that tears were starting to form in her eyes as she answered.

"Y..you are J..just the Oddest… M… most h… hard to read. A…Arrogant son of a…"

Sasuke saw red again, and launched himself at the prone girl. Consequences be damned, he had every intension of Killing that wretch of a girl. Therefore he was surprised when her tears instantly seemed to dry up leaving nothing but a triumphant glitter in her eye. Having dove at her he could only watch in horror as she rolled to one side, leaving an explosive tag where she had been laying. Luckily his reflexes were good enough to avoid hitting the tag directly, but he didn't have enough time jump clear before the tag exploded sending him flying backward into the wall of one of the abandoned houses in the Uchiha sector. The impact was enough of a shock to daze him momentarily, and by the time he had regained his bearings Sebeki had already managed to bind his arms and legs to the wall using plants instead of rope. Sasuke had struggled for a moment before realizing that he was caught fast. Had he been just a little stronger he could have broken free, and if he had recovered just a little faster, the vines that bound him wouldn't have been thick enough yet. Unfortunately there was nothing he could do.

"I guess that our first lesson will be on the element of surprise."

Sasuke directed a baleful glare at his captor. For the first time he gave her a once over in daylight. Tall and lithe, Sebeki had a strong face, and hair so red that it was nearly brown. She had decent 'proportions', but her breasts were a little small for Sasuke's taste, the air of absolute confidence she exuded more than made up for that however. She stood about five foot eight inches, and if he had to guess Sasuke would have said she weighed about a hundred pounds. (It was closer to One twenty five. Muscle weighs more than fat you know) the thing that caught his attention the most however was her eyes. They were a lightish sky blue that was almost gray, and although they gave her an air of innocence they also seemed to bore right through you, seeing the secrets you most wanted to keep hidden. She wore dark green pants that were neither loose nor tight, and a lightweight short sleeved Blue jacket with her family seal on the shoulder, which she left open down the front revealing a darker blue shirt beneath it. As she realized that Sasuke was giving her a once over the amused twinkle had returned to her eye. Spinning in a circle (her eyes laughing) Sebeki walked over to Sasuke.

"Well, Do I meet your Approval Ototo?"

Angry as he was Sasuke couldn't help but blush a little bit at being caught checking her out.

"Look, will you stop calling me that?"

Sebeki laughed out loud again, a melodious, nearly crystalline laugh that floated in the air.

"Tell you what, we seem to have gotten off to a bad start."

Cutting Sasuke free Sebeki held out a hand.

"The name is Saratobi Sebeki, I'll be your temporary Instructor Until Kakashi returns."

Rubbing his shoulders a little bit to get his circulation back Sasuke grabbed her hand and shook it.

"Uchiha Sasuke, and I guess I'm stuck with you."

Sebeki laughed again. Before replying.

"Good, now that introductions are out of the way you should know that I was completely serious about our training schedule. Lets get through warm-ups and then we'll talk a bit, I suppose that if I'm going to teach you I should know a little bit about you."

End Flashback:

Sasuke dodged as Sebeki threw a half dozen shrunken at him, coming up he launched a fireball attack before trying to distance himself from his teacher with a Kawarimi.

At least I'm learning something. Pity she forbid me to use my Sharingan, some of the techniques she's using might come in handy down the road.

Over the last two day Sasuke had found Sebeki to be a brutal, but fair teacher. She pushed him to his limits and beyond, but she would never demand anything of him that she wasn't willing to do herself. As time past Sasuke found himself liking her more and more. She was still a hardheaded witch of course, and he had no intension of giving up on Sakura, but at least with Sebeki around his loneliness wasn't quite so profound. Seeing Sebeki walking slowly through the dust raised by his attack Sasuke watched as she scanned left and right, as though preparing to either attack or escape at a moments notice

She looks like some big cat stalking her prey

Sasuke chuckled under his breath

"I guess that the prey would be me."

Sasuke jumped half out of his skin when a voice above him replied

"Right in one Uchiha-san."

Acting on reflex Sasuke threw three smoke bombs onto the branch he was standing on before placing two explosive notes and leaping away. Spinning he stood in a defensive stance and waited for Sebeki to come flying out as the tags exploded.

"Now what was that about Sasuke?"

Whipping around Sasuke was surprised to see Sebeki standing behind him with a wide grin on her face and a Kunai to his neck. Eyes darting between her and the demolished tree he asked only one question.


Eyes twinkling, Sebeki re-holstered her kunai.

"I used a bunshin. Tomorrow I think that we'll work on sensing the difference between a bunshin and a living person."

Looking up Sasuke estimated the time to be approximately twelve o-clock. Returning his weapons to their pouches he raised an eyebrow.

"We're quitting a little earlier than usual aren't we?"

Shrugging Sebeki turned and started walking away.

"I figured that you might want to go see that Naruto fellow, I was instructed to tell you that he is in the hospital, room two twenty three. Ja ne Sasuke."

Sasuke stared at her departing back in shock

He's Back?

That uncomfortable silence had sprung up again, and Naruto wasn't quite sure how to break it. After Tenkichi had surprised Tsunade into leaving he had disappeared himself, that was almost five minutes ago. Sneaking another look at Hinata as she sat staring at her lap, Naruto couldn't help but wonder what she was thinking. Hinata herself was trying to find the words she needed to tell him how much she had always admired him… She had managed to compromise that much at least. It wasn't the same as telling him that she liked him, but at least it was a start.

Besides (and she blushed a little at the thought) If I tell him that I admire him, he might just take the Initiative and ask ME out. I admit it's a long shot, but there is always a chance.

As Naruto snuck his look, Hinata was just beginning her fantasy about the romantic dinner he would invite her to, how he would casually mention that he had never really liked Sakura… In fact she was just getting to the part where he would propose (after confessing his undying love of course) When Naruto himself spoke up.

"Neh, Hinata-san? How long have I been out?"

Naruto kicked himself mentally, He was fairly certain that he had asked that before, but it was the first thing that came to mind other than 'why are you still here?' That one had sounded (to him at least) like he didn't want her around. Hinata started at the question, and quickly pulled herself out of her fantasies with a blush. (Why do YOU think she's always blushing around him)?

"I…It's been about a week and a half since the fight on the road from Suna, Y…you've been in bed here for about three days now."

Naruto Pondered over that thought for a moment, thankfully Hinata found the courage to ask a question of her own.

"A…anno Naruto-kun, but um… Wh… where did you go after that fight?"

A Single tear formed in the corner of Hinata's eye, and slowly trickled it's way down her cheek

"I… I thought that you died."

Without thinking Naruto reached up and brushed the tear away,

"I was in the Phoenix realm, Believe me, they had quite a lot of trouble patching me up."

It was then that both of them realized that Naruto still had his hand resting on Hinata's cheek. Naruto quickly pulled his hand away, and both wore Identical blushes as they tried to sort through their thoughts.

N…Naruto-kun t…touched me? Hinata was thrilled He… He wiped away my tear, does that mean that he likes me? Or does he just feel sorry for me because I'm crying?

Hinata was worried about me? So worried that she cried?

Naruto was both ecstatic and a little ashamed He was overjoyed that someone cared enough about him to cry when she thought he had died, and a little ashamed that he had been the cause of her misery. It came as a shock therefore when both voiced the same word at the same time.


It both looked startled, but Naruto, being the loud one spoke back up first.

"I'm… I'm sorry that I worried you Hinata-Chan. It was reckless and thoughtless to leave like I did, I can't believe that I didn't see how traumatic that could be."

Hinata was blushing again, for a moment she had been worried that she had let her feelings for Naruto slip out, but thankfully he hadn't noticed

"I'm… I'm sorry that you had to see me like this, I… I know that I'm not that strong, B..But y… you shouldn't have to p… put up with a B…big c…c…crybaby like me."

With that Hinata stood out and started to run for the door. She had gotten no more than three steps however when she felt a strong hand grip her wrist.

"Hinata" said Naruto in a low voice "don't go please. You are not weak, nor are you a crybaby. Your obviously happy to see that I'm alright, and tears of joy are OK."

Sobbing and laughing at the same time Hinata sat back down and tried to get her emotions under control. wiping her eyes Hinata couldn't help but feel a little embarrassed, she was making a scene and she knew it, but at least Naruto still didn't realize that she liked him. Finally getting back enough control to at least reply Hinata gave Naruto a tremulous smile.

"Its… it's just that I've always looked up to you Naruto. Y…you've been my inspiration and my role model. When you… you died I thought that I had lost you. It was like someone had ripped the sun from the sky."

Slightly embarrassed Hinata was quick to add

"I'm not the only one either. All of the rookie nine, all of your… your friends felt that Konoha had lost something special. I was overjoyed to find that you were still alive… and when I ran into you in Suna and you revealed yourself to Ino and Ten-ten as well, they were both very happy as well. Then when you… when you died again protecting me…"

Hinata's voice trailed off both because she was coming dangerously close to revealing her feelings, and also because she could still remember the pain. She remembered it Quite Vividly. Naruto was overcome with emotion as well. What Hinata had just told him was a revelation, and the knowledge that he affected the lives of so many people overwhelmed him. After a moments silence Naruto looked at Hinata. It was a Big gamble but…

"would… Would you be terribly offended if I asked you for a hug Hinata?"

Hinata was shocked and Naruto could tell it. Her eyes had gone round and she was blushing again. Naruto Hastened to add.

"Just… just as a friend. You don't have to if you don't want to, it's just…"

Naruto was cut off as Hinata did something that would leave a blush on her face even days later. She leaned over and hugged him.

It may be just as friends for now Naruto, but someday I'm going to find the courage to tell you, and when that Happens I'll get to hug you as much as I want."

Shikamaru and Chouji stared slack jawed at Ino. They had been like that for a least a minute and Ino was beginning to shift uneasily under their combined gazes. Finally she could take no more. Giving them both 'the look' she drew herself up, going for as much height as possible (surprising what you can do while seated isn't it)

"Well, Its true."

Shikamaru was the first to respond

"But that… that's incredible. You mean that Naruto has been alive this entire time? Why didn't he tell us? Why didn't YOU tell us?"

Ino shifted uncomfortable under his penetrating gaze.

"He made me swear not to. Besides (She hung her head again) it doesn't matter anymore. He died protecting Hinata on the way back from sand. Whatever rumors Chouji heard are probably just word finally reaching here that he was seen in Suna."

Chouji shook his head.

"No, what I heard is no rumor, although there is an interesting one about him appearing at sunset wreathed in…"

Chouji trailed off under the scrutiny of his fellow teammates.

"Err. What I told you is from Asuma-sensei, He said to tell you that Naruto is currently in room two twenty three, and that if Shikamaru is mostly recovered we should go pay a visit."

"He's ALIVE?"

Nodding Numbly to Ino, Chouji turned to look at Shikamaru

"are you well enough to go for a walk?"

Shikamaru looked from Ino to Chouji.

"Give me enough time to get dressed. If that troublesome kid is back we defiantly need to go see him."

whap whap whap

Two hundred ten, two hundred eleven, Two hundred twelve

"Hey lee,"

Pausing briefly Rock Lee stared at his teammate Ten-ten.

"Good morning Ten-ten-Chan, Neji-san, How are you?"

Neji and ten-ten shared a brief look

"we're fine lee, in fact we came to see how you are."

Lee scowled at the ground for a moment.

"I am… well enough."

Turning back to the post he had been kicking Lee continued his workout as Ten-ten and Neji shared a look.

"Lee, I need to ask you something"

Whap Whap Whap

"And I want you to know that it's only because we are your teammates that we ask this"

Whap whap whap

"But are you alright? You haven't been yourself for days now."

Ten-ten waited patiently for several moments until it was obvious that lee had completely ignored her question.

"Come on lee, you can talk to us"

whap whap whap

Is this about how Sasuke seems to be chasing Sakura?


Lee stopped hitting the log, his last attack had snapped it nearly in half as his anger driven fist made a five-inch depression in the center of the post. Breathing hard he turned to face his teammates, and without realizing it Neji moved slightly in front of ten-ten to better defend her if lee lost control of himself. Although normally chipper and upbeat, Neji had seen Lee in a rage (usually when drunk) and Neji knew that if lee went berserk, he could seriously injure his teammate without remembering a thing. Slowly lee's face came back under his control, and Lee's body lost a little of it's 'wound spring' tightness. Looking at the ground Lee scuffed one of his shoes against a stone. Before answering in a miserable voice.

"Ya, I'm just worried Sakura will leave me for that… that…."

Lee's face had been starting to go red with anger again, but he visibly tightened his hold on his self-control.

"I am worried that she still has some infatuation with… Him."

Stepping around Neji (and flashing a thankful smile at her teammate) Ten-ten walked foreward.

"Lee-san, Don't worry to much about it. If she would really give up what you are willing to give her on the chance that Sasuke is worth trying to save don't you think she'd have done it on the first day?"

Lee Brightened for a moment before his head dropped again.

"Not if she was trying to keep from hurting my feelings. There is still an attachment there Ten-ten, and I'm worried that the fact she could have the (and he somehow managed to make the would sound filthy) GENIUS Uchiha following her around on a leash will weaken any feelings she has for me."

Cupping his face in her hands Ten-ten tilted Lee's face up till his eyes met hers.

"If she is really that shallow lee-san, then you are far to good for her, but I really don't think that this is the case. How was your date last week?"

Lee smiled at the memory

"Quite good Ten-san, I believe that we both had a wonderful time"

"Have you asked for another since then?"

Lee's eyes went round

"Oh no, I wouldn't want to rush her! I would hate myself if I pressured my darling Sakura-Chan into dating me when she didn't want to!"

Ten-ten sighed a little

"Lee-san, asking for a date a week is not pressuring her, In fact most girls would probably be worried they had done something wrong if a week past and they didn't hear from their date."

Lee's eyes showed Panic before hung his head

"Then Sakura-Chan must think that I hate her… I've ruined the only chance I had."

Shaking her head again ten-ten lifted Lee's chin up so he would look at her again.

"I think not lee-san. Find her sometime today and tell her you had a wonderful time, perhaps casually mention that you have tonight open, and that the two of you could have dinner together if she isn't busy."

Smiling again Lee stood back up

"YOSH! I'll do that Ten-san! And If she says 'no' then I'll do 500 one legged laps around Konoha with each leg, and if I can't do that I'll to 600 push ups and sit ups, and if I can't do that…"

It was then that a blur of green flew through the clearing stopping as it reached the three ninja.


Lee Smiled at the enthusiastic and inspiring message that his Sensei had pronounced for the world to take notice of. He really REALLY wanted to join his sensei in the celebration of youth but…

Lee Bowed to his teacher rather than hugging him as he usually did.

"Gia-sensei, your words of wisdom are an inspiration to us all, I am truly blessed by Kami-sama to have such a wise and noble leader as you for an instructor."

Gia frowned.

What is wrong with Lee-san? Is he ill? Why is he not expressing the fires of his youth? And what has my Poor Misguided lee done to his beautiful HAIR? Where is the stylish Bowl cut?

Lee couldn't help but frown, there stood his beloved leader with tears streaming down his face muttering something about 'diminished fires', and 'stylish cut'. It took a moment, but Lee soon realized that he hadn't fixed his hair into the stylish bowl-cut that his Sensei sported, He had set it in wavy spiky look that Sakura-Chan liked so much. He was about to apologize when Gai broke down. Grabbing his poor lee Gai started crying onto his shoulder.

"Lee, Lee, Who has done this to you? Where is your Burning spirit and your stylish hairdo? Who has vandalized you like this lee-san?"

"S… Sensei, I… I am sorry, but. But this is how my dear Sakura-san Likes my hair to look, and she said that I needed to practice speaking in a slightly less expressive tone of voice."

Gai stood shaking his head, tears streaming down his face.

"Oh, my poor lee-san. You have let my rival Kakashi's girl dampen your spirits?"

"NO GAI SENSEI, MY SPIRIT OF ETERNAL YOU… Err. I mean, My spirit of eternal youth shines as brightly as ever, But my dearest Sakura-san told me that I should make it shine through my actions and my eyes rather than my hair and voice. That is why I have been training twice as hard since I started dating her. To me, she is worth it."


Surley Sakura-san will understand that I cannot hide my flames of youth completely




Sakura stood leaning on a tree at the edge of the clearing, Smiling and shaking her head at the same time. She had come to ask Lee if she had done something wrong on their date, and had ended up hearing his conversation with ten-ten and Gai Instead.

Well, I guess I can't expect his to change all at once, but at least he's trying. Hmmm. I wonder if he's right about me still liking Sasuke-kun. (Mental flash of a confused Inner Sakura staring back and forth between the new and Improved lee, and the returned and disgraced Sasuke.) They both have a certain charm, and both seem to be devoted to me… I can't help but wonder if Sasuke just doesn't want to lose former number1 fan girl, or if he truly feels something for me. Lee on the other hand has made it known for quite some time now that he is utterly devoted to m, and I can see how hard he is trying… Hmmm, Sasuke on a leash, or lee by the heartstrings… decisions decisions…I think Lee gets the first chance. I really did enjoy dinner the other night and…

Sakura's thought were interrupted however when Gai stopped hugging lee long enough to yell


Neji remained where he had been standing during ten-ten's talk with lee, hands in his pockets. The only change that proved he was listening was the fact that he arched an eyebrow eeeeever so slightly. Ten-ten giggled a little at Neji's display before dutifully moving a step or two closer.


Now what is all this about? Thought Sakura to herself


It took a few numb moments of silence for the words to sink in… then lee jumped straight up in the air


Lee's outburst, although far from what Sakura was trying to shape him into, had a mobilizing effect on the rest of his team. Acting quickly the four of them moved rapidly in the direction of the Konoha hospital. Had any of them looked back they would have seen Sakura Appear resting against the tree

Well, I guess they know now Naruto, Hope your ready for company.

"Oh man am I bored! Bored bored bored bored BORED!"

sitting quietly and trying to hold a discussion with his bugs, Shino raised an eyebrow at his teammate. Noticing this Kiba broke into a tirade

"How the hell can you sit there so calmly? I mean Kurenai sensei was NEVER this late!"

Shino shrugged, he didn't much care for the way the teams were divided up either, He had rather liked being around Hinata. She at least knew how to keep her mouth shut.

I should never have asked for a temporary sensei to be assigned to the two of us before the team re-arrangements took place. I most certainly wouldn't have if I had realized that they'd assign us THAT one.

"Kuso, I'm going to KILL Kakashi-sensei when he finally gets here. He left the two of us waiting her for THREE HOURS! THREE! Do you know how much I could have gotten done in that amount of time? I could have been training, or sleeping or eat…"

Shino, unfazed by Kiba's ranting tuned him out again

I think that I will have to speak to father about our sensei's constant tardiness. What does he DO for three hours every day at the stone of the fallen? 'sigh' at least he's not sleeping in or something…but still, you'd think that if he said to be here at seven he would COME at seven…

"… or Reading or… What? What's with the funny look Shino? I DO read sometimes."

"… Porn magazines don't count Kiba."

"HEY they aren't ALL porn mags… I mean um…"

Turning a bright shade of red, Kiba had lapsed into silence for all of thee seconds when the two boys heard a soft 'poof' behind them. There, standing with his nose buried in the dirty book he always carried was their temporary sensei.



Yelled Kiba. Shino said nothing, but the sudden swarm of bugs that flared up behind him gave Kakashi an adequate picture of the bug users feelings.

"Gomen, Gomen, but you see I Got lost on the road of life today. I was helping an old lady get her cat out of a tree when these B ranked missing nin came bursting out of the shop across the street, so of course I had to help chase them down because the ANBU were all busy fighting a giant pretzel that was threatening to over salt all the food in town."

Kakashi shifted a little at the killer intent he felt radiating from Shino, but both of them sweat dropped when Kiba spoke up with.

"Oh, well that's OK then."

I can't believe that somebody actually fell for that.

Thought Shino

I must be losing my touch if he believed that!

Though Kakashi.

I can't believe that I let this guy order me around

Thought Akamaru

"Anyway, I just showed up to tell the two of you that practice is cancelled for today. Ja…"

"Wait sensei!" yelled Kiba "Why is practice cancelled?"

"Hmmm? Didn't I tell you?"

Shino and Kiba sweat dropped again

"Naruto is still alive, he's in room two twenty three in the hospital, I figured that you might want to go see him. Well, Ja ne!"

With that Kakashi 'puffed' out of existence again.

"The dobe is alive?"

Whispered Kiba. Shino on the other hand was a VERY hard person to shock. It made sense to him; his bugs had already informed him that somebody with a very strong chakra was staying in the hospital, and that although the chakra was very familiar they couldn't quite place it. Turning Shino started walking toward the hospital, he was trailed by a stunned Kiba who for once was to wrapped up in his thoughts to be shouting.

Hinata and Naruto had broken apart a second before, a blush staining both of their cheeks.

"Thanks Hinata, I really needed that."

"N… no problem N…Naruto-kun"

Naruto smiled his trademark grin again and was about to comment on how cute Hinata looked when she blushed, but at that moment the doors to his room flew open, and two glaring Kunoichi stalked into the room.


they both screamed


Blinking Ten-ten and Ino turned to face each other, and the two of the swapped glares, still in Sync both of them asked

"Why would YOU care?"

Both blinked again, and Naruto and Hinata struggled not to laugh. Trailing behind the two followed the rest of the rookie nine (minus Sasuke)

'sigh' "How are you Naruto?"

asked Shikamaru. Both ten-ten and Sakura turned to glare at him for daring to interrupt them.

"Women are so troublesome"

At this comment the two of them spared a single look at each other. Turning Ten-ten crossed over to stand by her teammates, as they entered behind the rookie nine. Ino then turned to look at Sakura who was standing by the door. It only took a minute before both broke into Identical Homicidal grins and began cracking their knuckles.

Ahh, it's so nice having Sakura for a friend again, now I have someone to help me 'motivate' Shika-kun

I do SO enjoy having Ino for a friend again, Now I have an excuse to help her beat up Shikamaru again! (Hell YA!)

Naruto watched in amusement as the two girls advanced on Shikamaru who was looking more and more nervous by the second

"Um… Ino, Sakura, Still injured here, you can't hit an Invalid can you?"


Screamed both girls as they bashed him over the head.

"If you're well enough to make stupid comments like that you're well enough to get hit."

Said Ino

"Besides" added Sakura "We might managed to knock some sense into you sooner or later."

From the floor Naruto heard

"But I do not waaaant to go to Schooool today mommy! I want to stay home and bake Cookies with yoooou."

"I think you might have given him a concussion." Said Ten-ten with a small frown

"Nah," said Sakura "He'll be fine. That hard head of his should protect him from pretty much anything."

"Still, You might have hit him just a little harder than necessary" said Naruto with a small chuckle

This comment refocused everyone's attention to him Luckily sitting in a hospital bed Naruto didn't seem QUITE as impressive as he had in the Raman shop. Don't get me wrong, he was still a heartthrob in the making, but ever since Kyuubi had taught him chakra suppression, he didn't radiate Quite the same feeling of pure undiluted Power that he had before. The girls still thought that he was hot, it was just that he was no longer Undeniable… not that any of them would turn down a date if he asked. Of course the fact that he was still half naked, (he had no shirt on.) might have had something to do with the wandering eyes. The guys however had no problem with him, he was still the same old Naruto…(errrrr Kind of. The Important parts like attitude anyway.) Silence reigned for a while again before Kiba spoke up.

"So Dobe, what happened to you? You seem. Errrr. Taller."

Naruto flashed his foxy grin. (slight blush on the girl's faces)

"Well you see…"

With that Naruto launched into a story telling them what had happened to him since the fight with Sasuke, He left out a few pertinent details of course, Like Kyuubi and his encounter with the phoenix and Berra. He had introduced Kyuubi into the story as 'Kyubito' and had claimed that he met his new sensei while he was in the wood training. He did mention Hinata's help in suna though, and couldn't help but give them a blow-by-blow account of his fight with Rekku, explaining away his Phoenix blood as part of a latent bloodline. After he was finished the other teams took turns telling Naruto about what they had been up to, they told him about training, and complained about getting low class missions while he had all the luck. None of them were stupid enough to envy the fact that he fought an S class Missing nin though. All in all the group spent about eight hours catching up on each other's lives during the month since Naruto's 'Death'. Before the group slowly drifted away again leaving Naruto and Hinata alone in the hospital. It was only a few moments after the rest left that Tsunade came sweeping into the room saying that she had finally found the time to give him his physical.

"Neh nee-Chan, What about Ero-Sennin and Kyubito? I really wouldn't want anyone interrupting again."

"Tsunade gave a small smile, Oh don't you worry about those two, I've found a way to keep them occupied."

Across town in a broken down little shack two men sneezed.

"Now what do you think that was about Kyuubi-san?"

"Somebody is probably talking about us, Now hurry up and break that seal on the door so we can get out of here."

"You could help you know."

"I'm afraid not, that old hag has me pegged, she swore that If I helped you get us out she'd impose a fate worse than death on me."

"Oh?" asked Jirayia suddenly interested "and what would that be?"

"she swore" said Kyuubi with a shiver "That she would order the Raman shops not to serve me,"

Jirayia's eyebrow twitched


"I suppose that I could live with that although it would be hard, but on top of that, the old hag swore that she'd tell the bars not to sell me any alcohol either… I mean, I can live without one or the other, but BOTH… she's just going to far there."

Jirayia was appalled

"I never told you the worst part Jirayia-san. She swore that she'd burn all my working note for my book too…"

"That old flat chested HAG! Don't worry Kyuubi-san, I'll break us out of here."

Back at the hospital Tsunade smile to herself,

"Alright Ototo, Up you get, take it easy though, your body will probably feel a little weak."

Making a seated bow Naruto gave Tsunade a foxy grin again.

"As you command, so do I obey Hokage-sama."

Whipping the blankets off Naruto swung his legs off the side of the bed and carefully stood up. Thankfully Hinata had been ready this time, and was looking at the floor. Unfortunately, Her angel and her devil were having a bit of a fight

(Come on Hinata-san, one little peek won't hurt, It's not he minds right? He would have told you to leave if he didn't expect you to look)

(No don't Hinata-san. Naruto-kun trusts us not to, otherwise he would have asked us to leave! Besides, do you remember what happened last time?)

(Exactly my point twinkles, come on Hinata, Surely YOU remember the dreams I sent you?)

(And what naughty dreams they were to, You really should TRY to be good at least)

(Oh come ON, you could have stopped those dreams if you wanted to and you know it., You enjoyed them just as much as Hina-chan and I did)

(well maybe, but that still doesn't make it right)

(Uh huh, and those posters hanging in your room of Naruto-kun wearing nothing but boxers are right)

(…How did you know about those?)

(Oh PuhLEASE, I'm Evil, do you really think that I'd stay out of your room?)

('Blush' Oh what the hell, Go for it Hina-chan. Only a little one though)

(You heard your good side 'Evil Grin' Go for it!)

Well, Perhaps just a small look,

Raising her eyes slowly Hinata prepared to drop them quickly, the only problem was that once she saw Naruto she could only stare, mesmerized.

"Alright Naruto, Now I'd like you to Raise Both arms straight above your head… Good, OK, now touch your toes…"

(Wow, I knew he had a good body, but DAMN. I'm going to have to replace the picture on the back of your eyes Hina-chan, This shot of Naruto-kun's Backside while he's touching his toes is WAY better than the one of him stretching)

(I'd… I'd tell you not to… But. I… I can't tear my eyes away)

(heh, don't worry, I'll give you a duplicate for your room)

(…'Blush' Thanks.)

Finally waking from her stupor, Hinata quickly dropped her eyes again and surruptiously wiped away the blood that was trickling from her nose.

"Alright Naruto, I think that I can give you a clean bill of health. I should warn you of course that the village has been alerted to the fact that you still live, so I wouldn't venture outside without an escort for a couple more days, But outside of that I'll let you roam town provided that you report back here every night."

"Thanks Nee-Chan… Maybe I'll ask Hinata if she wants to get dinner or something."

That simple sentence was all the more that Hinata could take, and before the darkness rolled in again Hinata faintly heard her devil give a cat whistle and yell.

(You go HINATA!)

Tsunade was about to tell Naruto that she thought his suggestion was an excellent one when the two of them heard the sound of something hitting the floor. Turning, they both recognized the sleeping form of Hinata.


Shaking her head Tsunade walked over to where the Hyuuga Heiress slept.

I've really got to start checking to make sure the room is empty Before giving Naruto his checkups from now on.

Bending over Tsunade pretended to be checking Hinata's temperature as she wiped away the trickle of blood for the poor girl.

"Well, Naruto I'd have to guess that it's to warm in here for her, I'm just going to get her changed and then let her spend the night in the other bed OK?"

Blushing Naruto nodded before yawning

"Ya, it is getting kind of late. I think that I'll turn in."

Turning Naruto climbed into bed and tried not to pay attention to the rustle of clothing coming from the other side of the curtain strung between the two beds

Not a hentai, not a hentai

A picture of Hinata In her swimsuit swam Before his eyes.


Tsunade came out from behind the screen a moment later and grinned at the sight of Naruto laying with his eyes wide Open and a blush staining his cheeks.

"Good night Ototo, Sweet dreams!"

Fighting hard to suppress a laugh Tsunade strolled out the door leaving behind a sleeping Hinata, and a Very confused Naruto.

Heh, all in a good nights work for a closet pervert. Sweet dreams Naruto, I'm sure you'll have them now.

GAH! HENTAI, Heh, I don't know if I'm up to writing out any sections of Jirayia-san's books, but if I do I'll make certain to dedicate that section to you.

Wow.. 18 and a half hours? and you plan to re-read it? I didn't realize I had written so much. I'm flattered, Thanks for the review

Enough Naru/Hina in this one for you? as for Kyuubi-san's books... I really don't know.

well thank you. I'm glad that it meets your approval.

eeerrrm.. that type of scene might not be happening for a while. thanks for the review though.

it's odd that the site won't let you regester. Have you tried recently? I know that there have been a couple of major updates.

I swear not to dissipear untill all my fics are done. (and as I have a couple that I haven't started yet it'll be a while) thanks for the review.

AmberFox and Lyell:
oh that hurts, that REALLY hurts. I would never abandon a fic, I may Kill it at some point if I over power the characters to much, but I swear that even if it was a really crappy one they will ALL have an end.

Dragon Man 180:
I'll have to add it to my list of 'One shot's to write" Just for you.

To Everybody That didn't see your name above:
I am so sorry that I didn't manage to reply to you, but there were over thirty reviews to the first chapter, and I'm in a bit of a rush. I'm leaving on a week long vacation today and I wanted to get this chapter posted for everyone before I left. Thank each and every one of you for taking the time to review for me. I realize I took Aweful amounts of time to get this chapter done, but hopefully it was worth it. Thank you all, and keep the reviews coming. thanks.