Faith of the Heart


Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto or any of the characters from the anime or manga. (Duh)

"Speech"

'Thoughts'


Author's Note (Added 12/22/2007): While I do not own Naruto or any of the characters or other aspects of the story created by Masahi Kishimoto, I do own this story. Do not plagiarize my work.

"plagiarize: verb 1. take (the work or an idea of someone else) and pass it off as one's own. 2. copy from (someone) in such a way."

The reason I added this note is someone has seen fit to copy the entire first chapter of Faith of the Heart word-for-word and post it as their own. I'm talking literally "copy and pasting" the entire chapter, and not just borrowing a few passages or rewriting it in their own words. For the record, don't do something like that without my permission. I will find out, and I will make it your problem. I don't mind people getting ideas and inspiration from my stories to use in writing their own original stories. However, if you're too lazy to write your own story don't steal someone else's and try to pass it off as something you authored. I thought that was a no-brainer, but apparently there are people who don't get the concept.


Chapter 1: Return to Konoha

"Hehehe! So they've added Tsunade's ugly old mug to the mountain," Naruto laughed to himself. 'When I become Hokage, I'm going to make sure my face on the mountain is smiling. That expression makes Baa-chan look like she's constipated or something.'

"You've grown a lot, haven't you, Naruto."

'I haven't heard that voice in a while,' Naruto thought as he looked back over his shoulder from his perch on top of the utility pole.

Sure enough, sitting on the rooftop of the building behind Naruto was Kakashi, little orange book in hand.

"Yo," Kakashi said as he lazily raised his free hand in greeting.

"Kakashi-sensei! You haven't changed at all," Naruto exclaimed with a grin as he leaped onto the roof next to his former sensei.

Kakashi was about to respond when another figure ran up the utility pole and gracefully vaulted into the air before landing next to the blond-haired teen with hardly a sound.

"Seems like Naruto isn't the only one who grew up. It's good to see you again, Hinata," Kakashi said with a warm smile that was clearly evident though his mask.

Hinata blushed slightly at the small compliment before smiling and bowing slightly toward Kakashi. "It's good to see you, too, Kakashi-sensei."

Kakashi took in the new appearance of the two teens he hadn't seen in over two and a half years. Naruto looked like he'd finally had his growth spurt and caught up to, if not surpassed, the rest of the Rookie Nine in height. The trademark whisker marks were still there, but the teen's face had lost almost all of the baby fat he'd had when he left Konoha. Jiraiya's training had done wonders for Naruto's physique, as well. Kakashi could tell he'd packed on some muscle. The most unexpected change was in Naruto's clothing. Jiraiya or Hinata had apparently talked some sense into the blonde about his color choices for mission clothing. Naruto was wearing dark gray cargo pants and ninja sandals along with a black t-shirt. Over this he wore an unzipped waist length black and dark gray jacket. Kunai holsters were strapped to each leg, and his ninja supply pouch. Kakashi could also make out a harness under Naruto's jacket that hid a single scabbard containing a pair of short butterfly swords when the wind blew open his unzipped jacket. The only orange visible on the outfit was on the spiral-shaped clan crest on the shoulder and back of the jacket. The cloth of Naruto's Konoha forehead protector was now black instead of blue and held his slightly longer and more untamed blond hair out of his face. What amazed Kakashi the most was how much Naruto reminded him of his former sensei. If it weren't for the difference in attire and Naruto's whisker marks, Kakashi would swear he was looking at a young Fourth Hokage.

Kakashi turned his attention to the other teen. Hinata had also changed greatly since the last time he'd seen her. Unlike Sakura who developed a rather slim figure or Ino who had grown tall and leggy, Hinata had a more curvy, yet athletic, build. She'd also grown her hair long and it now reached down past her shoulders. While Hinata's choice of clothing was more modest than what a lot of kunoichi wore, she seemed to have abandoned the baggy jacket that hid her features in favor of a hoodless, more form-fitting tan jacket that she wore unzipped. Under the jacket, Hinata wore a black t-shirt, a tan pair of cargo pants that reached midway between her knee and ankle, a kunai pouch on her right thigh, and a leather belt that had her gear pouch attached. However, the biggest change Kakashi noticed was in how Hinata carried herself. She still blushed when complimented and had the same gentle air about her, but she held her head high and looked him right in the eye when he spoke to her. The two and a half years training and traveling with Jiraiya and Naruto had obviously done wonders for the girl's confidence. Kakashi chuckled to himself, 'Kurenai is going to be pleased.'

Kakashi's amusement turned to surprise when he finally noticed how the two teens were standing. Hinata was leaning slightly against Naruto, who had his arm around the girl with his hand resting at her waist.

"I take it you finally figured it out," Kakashi asked his former pupil with a nod toward Hinata.

Naruto got a big grin on his face, squeezed Hinata closer, and comically nodded his head really fast like a little kid who'd just been asked if he wants ice cream.

"Damn, now I have to buy Asuma's team a week's worth of dinners," Kakashi said with a sigh.

"Wait a second! Did you and Asuma-sensei bet on whether or not I'd figure out how Hinata-chan feels about me?" Naruto asked.

Kakashi simply replied, "Yes."

"And you bet against me?!" Naruto asked with an expression on his face that was midway between shock and anger.

Kakashi just shrugged, "It seemed like a safe bet at the time. They just got back from a mission too. Choji is going to be ravenous."

Naruto's eyes were twitching in annoyance and a vein was clearly visible on his forehead.

Meanwhile, Hinata was struggling to keep a straight face. At first she had been surprised that Naruto was acting so upset, since he didn't seem to have a problem admitting he should have noticed her sooner. Then she saw a familiar gleam in her boyfriend's eyes and quickly realized what he was up to.

Naruto reached into the pouch on his belt to retrieve a green book the same size as the orange one Kakashi still held in his hand. "And to think I had a surprise for you, Kakashi-sensei," Naruto said in an amused voice as he taunted his former sensei with the book.

"WHAAAT?! You… H-how… Th-that's…" Kakashi just stared wide-eyed at the book in Naruto's hand, Icha Icha Tactics,

"Maybe I should just hold onto this for a while, since you'll be too busy taking Team 10 out to eat this week to do any reading," Naruto said.

"Naruto-kun, you could give the book to someone else if Kakashi-san doesn't have time to read it. It's only three more months until it's officially released. I'm sure he doesn't mind waiting," Hinata played along. 'I can't believe I just said that!'

"Hmm, you're right, Hinata-chan, I bet that closet pervert, Ebisu, would appreciate this as much as Kakashi-sensei," Naruto said with a thoughtful look on his face. On the inside, however, Naruto was laughing his ass off. 'Way to go, Hinata-chan! We must have corrupted you more that I thought.'

Kakashi finally managed to compose himself. "You know, Naruto, you're absolutely right. As your former sensei, I should have had more faith in you," Kakashi said thoughtfully as he tentatively reached for the book.

Naruto's smile returned in full force, as he handed the gift over. Kakashi grabbed it and scooted back with the book close to his chest like he was afraid Naruto would try to take it back.

"It's really boring, but I think you'll like it. It's the first new book in the Icha Icha series in three years," Naruto said.

"Baka. A kid like you wouldn't understand the beauty of that book. It's still a rare unreleased item too," Jiraiya grumbled as he stood on the street next to the utility pole Naruto and Hinata had run up. 'Still, I can't believe our sweet, innocent little Hinata just bullshitted Kakashi,' Jiraiya thought as he and Naruto made eye contact while grinning like proud parents.

Kakashi spaced out and felt like he was going to hyperventilate for a moment when he first opened the book. He'd been waiting for so long for the next book to come out, and here in hands he held the first copy in Konoha. The cover art was exquisite. The blurbs by the reviewers claimed it was "the author's best work to date' and 'guaranteed to give a nosebleed to even the most perverted readers.' It also looked to be twice as long as the next longest book in the series,Icha Icha Violence.

"Oh, Kami. Jiraiya even signed it," Kakashi gasped. "To Kakashi, my biggest fan and most loyal reader. Jiraiya," Kakashi read aloud.

"This is the best gift anyone has EVER given me, Naruto," Kakashi exclaimed as his one visible eye began to mist up.

Kakashi looked up then sweat dropped when he realized he was talking to himself. Naruto and Hinata were already walking down the street with Jiraiya discussing where to each lunch. He hurried to catch up.

" Right! Next stop Ichiraku's for ramen," Naruto shouted as he pumped one arm in the air. Hinata was walking along side the blond smiling and laughing at his antics.

Kakashi and Jiraiya followed the couple at a more sedate pace as Kakashi read his new book.

"As promised, I'll leave Naruto in your care," Jiraiya said quietly as he walked next to Kakashi.

The younger man looked at the sennin out of the corner of his eye and nodded.

"Do you know what Tsunade plans to do about the girl?" the Toad Hermit asked.

"She wants to place Hinata on my team along with Naruto and Sakura. It shouldn't arouse any suspicions," Kakashi answered. "I'm a person short of a full team, and Team 8 is currently inactive. Kurenai is pregnant and has asked to be assigned non-combat duties. Kiba Inuzuka has been working with another tracking team, and Shino Aburame is training with his clan for the next jounin exam."

"I'm sure being on the same team will make my two apprentices happy," Jiraiya chuckled, "You've probably noticed how they've grown rather 'fond' of each other."

Kakashi sighed, "Yes, I lost a wager with Asuma over that. However, I'm concerned about placing them on a team together. It seems like it puts Hinata needlessly at risk."

"No, I agree with Tsunade, it's necessary. Naruto can use much more of his 'tenant's' power than before, but it's an unstable power. He can barely control three tails of its power without losing control. Any more and his tenant's instincts take over. If that happens the only things that can stop him are Hinata or one of these seals, and I can't guarantee the seals will be one hundred percent effective," Jiraiya said as he handed five paper seals over to Kakashi. "More importantly, I'm afraid we're not going to be able to hide the Hyuuga clan's little secret for much longer. When that information is revealed those two's best chance of survival is going to be each other." Jiraiya let out a sigh. Kakashi looked over and noticed how worried the normally jovial sannin looked. "There's a good chance Akatsuki may make an attempt on Naruto soon. I'm going to leave in a day or two to see if my contacts have any new information."

Up ahead, Naruto and Hinata had come to a complete stop and Naruto was pointing down the street. "Sakura-chan! Granny Tsunade!"

"Eh? Naruto? Hinata?" the pink-haired teen asked in surprise.

'I'll give him a freebee on the name thing, just this once,' the Hokage thought wryly while smiling at the blonde and his training partner.

Sakura also smiled warmly at her former teammate. However, when Naruto ran up to the two women Sakura was startled when she noticed something.

"You've gotten taller than me!"

"Yeah, I guess I have," Naruto replied with a smile.

A nervous looking Hinata walked up to Naruto and Sakura. Naruto mentally kicked himself when he realized why. Sakura may have been his friend and teammate, but she was also the girl he'd had a crush on for years before he finally noticed Hinata. And despite her newfound confidence, Hinata probably still felt apprehensive about how he and Sakura would react to each other. In an effort to reassure her that she had nothing to worry about, Naruto put his arms around his girlfriend and kissed her on the top of the head. He could feel the tension in Hinata's body relax somewhat. Never the less, he made a mental note to have a talk with her about it the first chance he got.

"Hinata! Wow! You look incredible," Sakura squealed.

"Hehe, and it looks like someone's got a boyfriend," Sakura teased with a mischievous grin on her face as Hinata once again blushed. "It's about time you figured it out, baka," Sakura added as she took a playful swat at Naruto.

"So, I've heard," Naruto responded jokingly.

"Naruto-niichan," a voice rang out from behind the teens. Everyone turned around to look.

"Oiroke no Jutsu!" A very beautiful, and very naked, brunette haired woman stood in front of them on the sidewalk smiling seductively at the group.

Suddenly, the woman disappeared in a cloud of smoke to reveal a grinning eleven year-old boy wearing a long scarf.

"How was that? A real drool of a jutsu, wasn't it," Konohamaru asked.

"Konohamaru, I'm sorry. I'm not a kid anymore. From now on you shouldn't use that jutsu either," Naruto said in a serious voice. Konohamaru had a shocked look on his face at hearing his idol's words.

Sakura blushed and looked at Naruto with a slightly sad smile. 'So Naruto hasn't just matured in appearance. This makes me feel a little sad,' she thought while reminiscing about what things use to be like before the members of Team 7 when their separate ways. 'You really have become amazing, Naruto. Hinata is so lucky,' Sakura thought with a sigh. 'I'm sure you've come back with a lot of really great new jutsu too, right?'

All of a sudden Naruto began to yell, "Such a jutsu is now mediocre, Konohamaru! Behold! The new perverted ninjutsu I've been developing!! Here we goooo!!"

"Perverted Ninjitsu? You BAKA," Sakura screamed the last word as her punch plowed into Naruto's face and sent him flying before he impacted the street.

Sakura grabbed the now bloodied and bruised Naruto by the collar and began shaking him violently.

"I HAVEN'T SEEN YOU IN MORE THAN TWO AND A HALF YEARS AND WITHIN TWO MINUTES, YOU JUMP STRAIGHT INTO THAT! MORON!! I THOUGHT YOU HAD GROWN UP, BUT I WAS WRONG! YOU HAVEN'T CHANGED ONE BIT! WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU'RE DOING, ANYWAY? YOUR GIRLFRIEND IS STANDING RIGHT THERE. DID YOU EVEN THINK ABOUT HINATA'S FEELINGS," Sakura screamed at Naruto.

Kakashi grabbed said girlfriend by the shoulders to stop her from running to Naruto's aid. "Don't worry, Hinata," Kakashi told the worried Hyuuga in a calm voice. "They use to do this kind of thing all the time. Besides, Naruto's pretty resilient, and Sakura wouldn't seriously try to injure him, other than the odd lump on the head. He'll be fi…"

A loud boom interrupted Kakashi as Naruto once again slammed into the pavement, this time leaving a crater.

"Ouch! That had to hurt," Kakashi winced. "Okay, well, Naruto's still pretty resilient."

'Hey, hey, Sakura, calm down. Konohamaru's terrified," Jiraiya said careful as he tried to avoid being caught in Sakura's wraith. Konohamaru was trembling in fear and clutching the back of Jiraiya's vest.

Sakura took a deep breath dropped Naruto to the ground and stomped back to the group.

Naruto got up fairly quickly, and was instantly glomped by a concerned looking Hinata, who had finally been released from Kakashi's grasp.

"Okay, that's enough catching up on old times," Tsunade said. "Kakashi."

"Right," Kakashi said as he closed his new book. "Sakura. Naruto. Well, it's been a while hasn't it? Hinata, this is my first time to work with you, but I'm looking forward to it. The three of you will come with me on team-related missions from now on. It'll be different than it was before with me or Kurenai," Kakashi said. "It's no longer teacher and pupil. Starting today we're equal Konoha shinobi."

"But first," Kakashi said as he held up three bells, "I'm interested in seeing how you three have developed."


Author's Notes:

So there you have it, the first chapter of my first fanfic. Any reviews are welcome, but no flames please.

The main pairing is going to be Naruto and Hinata, that's not going to change. The chapters as I have them planned are going to get progressively further away from the canon storyline as I go.

Naruto's new outfit is basically his Part II outfit with dark gray in place of the orange and the jacket worn unzipped.