Okay, I know that this chapter has taken a long time to write and update. I've had a huge problem with viruses recently and lost all I'd done when my computer was formatted. HIGHLY ANNOYING! Oh well, thanks to all my readers and reviewers, and again to Narai Moroha for all his hard beta work. I've placed a refresher paragraph for the previous chapter so everyone won't be lost. Enjoy the last chapter! Please review if you do. Thanks and NJOY!!!
Disclaimer: Do you think that if I stalk Masashi Kishimoto-sama I will be able to steal the rights to Naruto? If so, I just might do it for a few years... At the moment though, I don't own Naruto. TT.TT
Last time on 'Time To Tell': Naruto and Hinata spent the better part of their week together planning pranks and avoiding their angry victims. Naruto's team left for their mission, and he told them all that had happened between himself and Hinata. Kakashi started to say that maybe Naruto's heart was telling him something about how he felt for Hinata after Naruto revealed the picture taken by Tsunade. Upon arrival at Tazuna's house, Naruto was surprised to find out that the entire mission was a diversion just to get him out of the village for his birthday, and that the two scrolls were meant for him in the first place. Kakashi and Sakura threw him through the door after saying happy eighteenth birthday.
Naruto hurtled through the opening doorway, screaming obscenities at his two laughing team-mates. Fortunately for him, he had a cushioned landing as he sprawled on the floor and his 'cushion'. For one person, unfortunately – depending on how you looked at it that is, that cushion just happened to be her. All Naruto could see was the indigo hair and smell the faint smell of lavender and jasmine. Her startled gasp was quickly drowned out by all the shouts and laughter ringing throughout the room.
"SURPRISE!!!" shouted the army of friends that had come to Naruto's birthday party, before rolling on the floor and laughing at Naruto and Hinata, who were still staring in surprise at each other.
Only four people weren't laughing at Naruto and Hinata's awkward positions. Two pairs of hands reached out and grabbed Naruto off from the surprised girl beneath him. As Naruto was being set back upon his feet, he looked around the room and was highly surprised to see so many people there for his birthday. 'Wow!' thought Naruto. 'There's so many of my friends here... they all came... for me.'
All around the room were his friends from Konoha. It appeared that it had been Kiba and Neji that had lifted him off from the now bright red Hinata. They were now helping her back up to her feet whilst Naruto looked on in awe at those surrounding him. Lee and Gai were both hugging each other and going on about something to do with 'springtime of their youth!' as they watched Hinata. Tenten was looking at the two with an exasperated expression on her face. Shino was looking on at Naruto with as stoic an expression as you could have while fighting the urge to do something as frivolous as laugh. Kiba was growling slightly as he cast backward glances at Naruto, and he was fumbling with something that he'd just placed in his pocket. Kurenai was looking at Hinata happily, remembering all the time she spent with Asuma. Ino was laughing as hard as anyone at Naruto and Hinata, but once she calmed down enough, she kept casting quick nervous glances at Kiba. Shikamaru kept sighing and shaking his head, occasionally giving a slight chuckle and ducking away from Chouji. Chouji was in hysterics, causing those around him to duck the food spewing from his mouth as he laughed.
Also around the room were Tazuna (drunk as ever) and his beautiful daughter Tsunami, her son Inari, Iruka, Jiraiya, Shizune, Teuchi and his daughter Ayame, Anko, Ibiki, and lastly, some official looking old man. All were laughing at Naruto and shouting out their Happy Birthday's.
Naruto looked around the room and saw that it had apparently been decorated for his birthday. There was a banner hanging on a wall, with bright orange letters saying, "HAPPY BIRTHDAY NARUTO!" There were also two food tables against the one wall. One was laden with chips, drinks and every other sort of good thing imaginable to the two hungriest ninjas in the room, Chouji and Naruto. The other, much to Naruto's delight and his stomach's growling, was laden with several types of Ichiraku's special ramen. The smell of it was driving Naruto insane with hunger. Naruto was brought out of his awe at the sounds of a strange song being sung by all those present, even the old man that Naruto didn't know. Naruto had heard the song before whilst on his two and a half year travels with Jiraiya. It was in some strange language where they apparently sing 'happy birthday to you' over and over.
Naruto laughed as they came to a close, Lee and Gai bringing up the final notes in their highest pitched loud voices. They fell into each other's arms and sobbed at its beauty shortly afterwards. One by one, all the people present came and gave Naruto their gifts and a pat on the back, or in one embarrassed kunoichi's case, being pulled into a fierce hug that had her collapsing to the floor with a red face and a smile to light up the room. Before anybody could laugh too hard, Naruto picked her up and carried her carefully to the one couch left in the room where he lay her back down. All the laughter died down when they saw how Naruto gently brushed back Hinata's bangs from over her eyes. Naruto was brought out of his thoughts by Sakura, Ino, Kurenai, Shizune and Tsunami's "Aww!"
Naruto looked around as though surprised to see all the people still there. He grinned sheepishly and rubbed the back of his head. Lee was looking at him with nothing but admiration for his 'smoothness', whilst all the girls just grinned devilishly. Naruto gulped when he saw those looks... he'd had enough of those looks when he had worn one himself right before pranking someone. The last few people brought their gifts, and Naruto had to make a mental note to burn Gai's green suit gift, Lee's 'super miracle eyebrow grower', and Jiraiya's books.
Finally, he turned to look at the last person in the room to approach him. He gave the old man a beady eyed stare, trying to figure out just who this man really was. When the man noticed Naruto's confusion, he just chuckled and bowed. "Naruto-dono, there is no need to try discern who I am. We have never met," he said, a smile stretching across his face and making his wrinkles more pronounced. "My name is Kouzoku Hikari. It is an honor to finally meet you, the one who saved this country nearly six years ago. I am the feudal lord for the Wave Country."
Nobody had been introduced to Hikari in the time that they'd been there, so it was understandable that silence followed this pronouncement. The silence was finally broken by Ino, who was looking at the old man as though he was insane. "Nani?!" shouted Ino. "You mean that that sign wasn't a joke? I know that Naruto is strong now... the strongest here, in fact... but six years ago he was the weakest of us all!"
Hikari looked at Ino and put a thoughtful look on his face. "That's not entirely true," he said softly. "Six years ago, Naruto-dono came to this country with his team. We were having a hard time with a business man named Gato, who was trying to take over this country using thugs and intimidation. He hired a small group of ninja to kill the man responsible for trying to build the Great Naruto Bridge, because if he managed to complete it, this country would be saved."
"But how did Naruto save this country? He was weaker than all of us!" said Ino incredulously.
"It was because the people had lost their faith in themselves that allowed Gato to gain so much control. Gato killed all those who stood up to him, and so nobody dared to do it again until Tazuna-san started to build the bridge," said Hikari, and then he pointed to Inari. "Naruto inspired Inari to believe that heroes do exist, and they do so every time someone decides to stand up for what they believe in and for their most precious people. Inari then inspired the people to fight back, and we won our homes back from the jaws of certain death."
"Wait, you said that there were a group of ninja that were hired to help Gato," said Chouji, or at least after it'd been translated through the muffled sounds of the food in his mouth, by Shikamaru lazily from his corner. "What happened to them?"
"From what I've been told, the one was a ninja by the name of Momochi Zabuza, a missing-nin from Kirigakure (Hidden Mist Village) as well as his apprentice, a boy with a powerful bloodline named Haku. The other two nin were defeated long before the group arrived in the village when they attempted to ambush the group. Kakashi defeated Zabuza in their first encounter after being freed from a prison technique by Naruto and another team-mate named Sasuke... or something like that."
Ino quickly gasped at hearing the name and looked at Naruto and the others from team 7. It had long been known never to mention him around them. It was a taboo name that would leave them in a funk whenever they heard it. Naruto looked down for a moment, but quickly returned to the same cheerful look. Sakura looked sad at hearing the story again, remembering the whole thing wistfully. Kakashi had a look of determination on his face...what could be seen of it over his little orange book, that is. After the growls coming from several female occupants of the room, not to mention a vast quantity of killer intent, Kakashi quickly put the book away.
"The day that Naruto and his team finally beat Zabuza, Gato also decided to betray him. Up until that point in the fight, Sasuke had been beaten by Haku, and Kakashi was having a hard time fighting Zabuza through the mist," said the Daimyo. "From what I've heard, when Naruto saw that Sasuke had fallen, presumed dead, Naruto went on a rampage and defeated Haku easily."
"S-Sasuke-kun l-lost?" asked Ino, stunned. "And Naruto beat Haku e-easily?"
She'd long since given up her stupid crush on the traitor, but she couldn't deny that he'd always been strong. For Naruto to defeat someone that had already beaten Sasuke when they were new genin, it was no small feat.
"Yes." said the Daimyo calmly. "Shortly after that, Haku jumped in front of Zabuza to stop Kakashi killing Zabuza and lost his life instead. When Gato showed up and treated Haku's body with less than the respect he deserved as an honorable shinobi, and betrayed Zabuza at the same time, Zabuza attacked him. Zabuza lost his life in the process when all the bodyguards fought to protect Gato."
"But how did Naruto defeat someone who Sasuke had lost to?" asked Kiba. He looked around the room and was surprised to see all the jounin senseis and other adults suddenly looking anywhere but at himself. Neji, Sakura, Hinata and Shikamaru were all behaving in the same strange way. Naruto was sweating bullets too. 'Wait, does this mean that this is what Hinata and Sakura found out about Naruto? Why are Shikamaru and Neji acting the same way? Maybe this isn't it.'
Jiraiya finally spoke up and blew the doubt of what the details were out of Kiba's mind. "That is a Konoha S-classed secret. You are forbidden from hearing about that unless Naruto or the Hokage reveal it to you." he stated with a warning. "You might be a jounin now, but that is a secret that you are not to be told of."
"Yeah, right," said Kiba with a laugh. "An S-classed secret about Naruto? That's a good one. I'll find out, and besides, I owe Naruto a bit of payback for a little prank he pulled. INO! Do it NOW!"
Everyone turned to the blonde kunoichi and were horrified to see the familiar seals that her hands were already flying through and the mischievous grin on her face. Shikamaru, Neji, Sakura and Hinata all tried to grab Ino to stop her, yet it was too late, even for their old senseis. Shikamaru only had enough time to shout out his "NO! STOP IT INO!" before Ino's body slumped into his arms. The group turned to see Naruto, who had surprisingly also fallen to the floor.
Kiba began to laugh raucously until he felt the death-glares being sent into his back as he watched what had happened. "What?" he asked the room airily. "Okay, so it is weird that Naruto also fell down, but now I can find out what he's been hidin-"
Unfortunately, he was unable to complete his sentence as he was sent reeling by the sharp slap that had come from Hinata. As he got up, he was surprised to see the sheer anger coursing through her eyes. He wasn't left standing for long, however, as a shadow suddenly grabbed a hold on him and sent him running and diving into a hard wall nearby. Sakura picked him up and was drawing her glowing fist back to hit him when they heard a voice to freeze blood coming from Naruto's mouth.
"Hahaha! It's been a long time since I've been able to talk to anyone besides the brat," said the voice. "It's a pity that I can't control the body, though. Damn!"
"H-how?" asked Kakashi with a major hint of fear in his voice. "How can you talk?"
"Hahaha! Are you scared of me, mortal?" asked the voice sadistically. "You are truly worthless, Hatake. That girl's technique never took me into account. Stupid, stupid girl. I can't control Naruto, but I can have fun with these two before I lose this control. If you interfere now, all of us will die; don't touch them!"
"SHUT UP!!!" roared a very pissed off Shikamaru as he gazed down at Ino's unconscious form. "Let them GO!!! Haven't you done enough damage already?"
All he got in reply was the laughs coming from Naruto's mouth and the confused stares from all the older Konoha nins; all of them were wondering the same thing: 'When did he find out?'
Ino was surprised to find that she wasn't in control of Naruto's body. When she'd opened her eyes, all she'd seen was many dim corridors and a wet floor. She was up to her ankles in the strange water covering the floor. She was a little frightened too... never before had her jutsu cast her into the mindscape of the person like this. It had always allowed her to see from the victims' eyes and control their body. There was also a sense of incredible power filling the place, drowning out all other thoughts and sounds. She jumped when a voice not belonging to Naruto called out to her.
"Come, child. Welcome to my home. You needn't be frightened of me." said the voice softly. "Come closer... feel the way to me. I've longed for contact for eighteen years, and I would simply love to meet you face to face."
"W-who are you?" asked Ino, now beginning to shake. "How can you talk to me? You're not Naruto."
"Hahaha! Thankfully, I'm not Naruto," stated the voice cheerfully. "I have many names, but I have not heard many of them for years and years. Just know that I am closer to Naruto than anyone could ever dread to be. I am the one that you wished to hear about when you came here. Come see me, for I can't come to you. I can't wait to meet you, beautiful girl. I believe your name is Ino... not a name for a gorgeous woman like yourself, Ino-chan!"
Ino, now reassured by the simple flirting, started to walk forwards. She chuckled at the insult about Naruto.
"No, Ino! Stop!" shouted out Naruto's voice suddenly from out of the distance. "Don't go anywhere near him! He wants to hurt you! He'll eat you if he can! He's evil!"
"Ino-chan, this is what you wanted to know about, but he's trying to stop you from doing so," said the mysterious voice calmly. "I can't wait to meet you."
Ino laughed at the apparent terror in Naruto's voice and began to sprint to the place she could sense to be the source of the voice. All of a sudden, she ran into a massive room. One wall of the room was just a set of barred gates with a small paper seal set high onto it. The water on the floor gave a shudder as she reached the room, and it seemed it came from behind the bars in the first place. Ino could hear Naruto's voice calling frantically out to her, telling her to stay away from the cage.
"Come closer, dear one," said the voice. "Come closer to the bars, for I haven't seen such a beauty in many years. When you come closer, I will too and then we can be properly introduced."
Ino walked tentatively towards the bars. As she came closer, she began to see a faint red glow coming from within the cage. The sense of overwhelming power grew the closer she came to the bars. Fear began to tear at her again when she saw the faint outline of a massive red eye forming.
"Who a-are y-you?" Ino asked again once she'd reached the bars.
"Ah, you probably know me as Kyuubi, you pathetic, foolish child!" roared Kyuubi as he suddenly lunged at the bars and slammed his snout against the bars in an attempt to rip into the screaming girl.
The mindscape faded from Ino's vision, the last thing she saw was Kyuubi's livid mouth wide open in the most evil laugh she'd ever heard.
Back in Tazuna's house:
An ear-splitting scream was heard all of a sudden from Ino's mouth as tears poured from her eyes. Her entire body was shaking violently from her terror and sobs. All of a sudden, Shikamaru was holding her around her shoulders. He began rocking her back and forth, whispering soft words of comfort into her ear. "He can't hurt you... he's locked away... its okay... I've got you now... don't worry... you're safe with me now... it's alright..."
Naruto slowly came to, and was surprised by the sight that met his eyes. Ino was sobbing in a heap with Shikamaru holding her closely and saying something into her ears. He heard Kyuubi laughing hysterically inside himself and groaned at that dark omen. He felt masses of killer intent being directed towards the terrified bundle of ninja struggling in a corner. When Naruto saw Sakura refocus herself on the terrified Kiba, and pull her glowing fist back again, he launched into action. He immediately appeared in between Sakura and Kiba, putting a stop to the secret attack that had been incoming from Hinata too.
"What the HELL is going on?!?!" Naruto shouted. "Why are you trying to attack Kiba? And what happened to Ino? Did he do something to her?"
Sakura stopped her fist just in time. Her face was a livid red from her rage at Kiba, but she calmed down when she saw that Naruto genuinely didn't know what was going on. "Don't you remember, Naruto?" she asked, and when he shook his head, she continued. "Kiba convinced Ino to invade your mind to find out what your big secret was. She must have seen everything, because erm... your erm... other side... came out and started taunting us. Both you and Ino were unconscious instead of just her.
Naruto's face suddenly looked stricken as he realized how close it must have been to a major disaster. 'What did you do, you stupid fox?' Naruto asked Kyuubi. 'What have you done to ruin my life this time?'
As Naruto looked to see what was happening to Ino now, he was glad to see that Shikamaru was holding her and she seemed to have calmed down immeasurably. She was still crying into Shikamaru's shoulder, but now the sobbing was silent. Kyuubi's laughter became even louder as Naruto started to rant at him, spewing every foul curse his mind knew at the accursed fox. Finally, Naruto lost it.
"SHUT YOUR DAMNED PIE HOLE, YOU STUPID FOX!!!" Naruto shouted, only realizing too late that the words had not been in his mind. Worse yet, because of where he was looking it appeared that he'd shouted them at Ino. Gasps and Ino's continued sobbing were Naruto's only reply.
Naruto started fidgeting when all the killer intent previously aimed at Kiba switched over to him. "What did you call her, baka?" asked Kiba, now feral at the insult (A/N: In Japan, it is the biggest insult you can give to a woman to call her a fox. Basically you are calling her a slut and a demon. The "compliment" from the west originated from the legend of the Kyuubi who would transform into a beautiful woman and seduce a married man as a prank.)
"It wasn't her!" Naruto defended quickly. "I wasn't talking to her!"
"Well then who were you talking to?" Kiba shouted. "Who were you calling a fox?! And what happened to Ino inside of you? And whose voice came out of your mouth? Don't think that you've escaped telling us that!"
Kiba noted that all the older shinobi present suddenly began fidgeting again. Suddenly, a giant hand descended onto his shoulder and grabbed on. He was hoisted off his feet and turned mid-air to face a very angry Sannin. A sphere of swirling blue chakra appeared in his palm as Jiraiya leaned his face forwards so that Kiba could clearly see the aged lines on his face. "I thought I told you to leave it alone!" Jiraiya hissed in a deadly whisper. "Give me one good reason not to kill you now. If anyone here's an idiot, it's you."
Naruto raised his hand and pulled Kiba down. He sighed as he turned back to the room, finally noticing the shock that those not in the know about Kyuubi, as it were, wore on their faces.
He sighed, and then began his tale. "I'm really sorry for ruining your time here, everyone."
"No!" said Hinata, who suddenly appeared by his side and began to rub his back comfortingly. "You haven't ruined anyone's time. Kiba did that. Are you sure that you want to tell everyone this? It's your birthday; you don't have to do it, you know."
Naruto smiled at her, and chuckled slightly at her blush. "It's okay, Hinata-chan. I was going to tell everyone anyway. No time like the present!" he said cheerfully. "By the way, did you know that you didn't stutter this time? That was great!"
He snaked an arm around her shoulders and pulled his comforter a little closer. He looked at all those present and sighed. "Everyone, I think it's time you all hear Konoha's two biggest secrets, or at least I think so," said Naruto. He looked at Kakashi, Jiraiya, Kurenai, Gai, Shizune, Neji, Sakura and finally Hinata, before continuing. "So, a week ago I found out who my parents were."
Tsunami smiled at Naruto and the blushing red girl held tightly by his side. Inari had ceased his flirting with Tenten when he heard Naruto mention his parents. "Wait, what?!?" said Shikamaru. "I thought you were going to tell everyone about Him."
"You know?" asked Naruto. "How do you know about the baka? Who told you?"
"You did, baka!" said Shikamaru lazily. "You told me when you stopped Gaara from killing Lee. Troublesome."
Lee looked up when he heard that. "Naruto, the flames of your youth burmphh!" Lee started but was quickly silenced by a hand over his mouth courtesy of Tenten.
"Ohhh!" said Naruto. "I remember that!"
"Who were your parents, Naruto, and who is the 'baka' that you're talking about?" said Shino from his quiet corner. "I was informed that the nature of your origins was never known."
Naruto grinned as he looked at all the people from Konoha around the room. Of everyone there, only Jiraiya, Shizune, Kakashi, Neji, Sakura and Hinata knew. They all gave him an encouraging nod, or at least Hinata gave him a small squeak, before he continued. "They were known, but only by the select few that could be trusted by my father," said Naruto. "It was done for my protection as he had many enemies."
"Wait a minute, you mean to tell me that you've known for a week and you never told anyone?" asked Kurenai, a surprised look adorning her face. "I wanted to give that to you as a birthday present, but I couldn't find that out no matter how long I searched."
"Thank you, Kurenai. It means a lot that you would do that for me." said Naruto with a genuine smile. "You would not have been able to find out because although my parents were married, it was done in secret because of my father's enemies."
"Who were his enemies Naruto, and tell us his NAME!" said Tenten, now straining against Lee's attempts to rant loudly. Neji sighed before he began helping his girlfriend restrain their team mate.
"His main enemies were anybody from Iwagakure, but there were even some amongst the Konoha elders and families," said Naruto with pride evident in his voice. "He was better known as Yondaime."
Mixed reactions followed this pronouncement. Kiba burst out laughing and pointing at Naruto while rolling on the floor. He was the only one laughing, though. More gasps followed the name than any other thing that'd happened before. Most people wore shocked looks on their faces, whilst some were calculating. "It's true, by the way. As his old sensei, I was one of the few that were entrusted with the secret," said Jiraiya. "Naruto really is his son. It's not really that hard to believe when you look at their looks, healing rates – although Naruto has other healing capabilities far beyond that of his father, and even their insane chakra capacity."
"YOSH!!!" shouted Lee, finally free from his team mates. "That's great, Naruto-kun!"
"My mother's name was Udeshi Hisoki. She was a chuunin and best friends with both Hinata-chan and Sakura's mothers," said Naruto, not noticing the smirk on Sakura's face.
'He's finally getting it into his head that we're more like brother and sister.' thought Sakura happily after not hearing the usual 'chan' suffix. 'SHANNARO!'
"Your mother was Hisoki?" asked Iruka with tears in his eyes. "She was an amazing woman, Naruto. She helped me decide to begin teaching when I was old enough."
Naruto smiled at Iruka before once again hardening his gaze upon Kiba. "Kiba, do you realize what you almost did back there with Ino?" he said coldly. "Let me give you a small taste what could have happened."
"No Naruto, don't!" said Jiraiya quickly. "You mustn't use that power!"
"Relax, Ero-Sennin!" said Naruto. "I'm not going to use it at all. I don't need to."
Kiba looked on in fear as Naruto turned back to him. "Kiba, you know that I'm the strongest shinobi in this room," said Naruto. "Well, the truly strong shinobi hide their true power. Here's a taste of what I've been hiding all these years...AND YOU ALMOST UNLEASHED IT!!!"
Naruto formed a seal and closed his eyes to concentrate. A small wind picked up in the large room as Naruto began to glow a blue color. Tongues of blue flame-like chakra tendrils whipped up the wind in the room, creating a near gale force wind. Wave after wave of the purest blue chakra radiated off from the glowing blonde. The force of the chakra output was so great that everyone in the room started to be forced back, along with all the tables and chairs. Naruto even started levitating slightly, having been pushed up off the unyielding floor. Only one person seemed to be able to come close to Naruto. She stayed close to him, despite her indigo hair whipping around her face painfully.
The wind eventually began to die down until it ceased, while Naruto came back to the floor. When he finally opened his eyes, he was surprised to see all the shinobi in the room staring at him in shock. Everyone had known he was strong, and the older ones knew of the Kyuubi, but to do that with just his own chakra was incredible. Naruto was unsurprised, however to see Hinata looking at him as if she'd known all along; a small smile graced her lips as she looked up at him.
"That was just a taste of what I have," said Naruto to the stunned Kiba. "That's also not to mention the baka that spoke to you all. Compared to him, that was nothing. Had he been released, you'd all already be dead."
"Who was that, Naruto?" asked Chouji. "He was insane."
"Simply, that was Kyuubi," said Naruto. "My father never killed him as you were told. Also, I was never treated as the hero my father wished me to be."
"K-Kyuubi!" said Ino, now recovered from the shock. "That m-monster w-was the K-Kyuubi? He nearly killed me!"
"I'm sorry, Ino," said Naruto calmly, but with a hint of sadness. "Yes, that was the Kyuubi. He was the stupid fox I shouted at. As you know, he really is a fox. I never meant to insult you."
"Ohhh!" said many of the people present.
"My father gave his life to stop the Kyuubi, but because he couldn't defeat it, he was forced to seal it into his son... me," said Naruto. "After I'd used Kyuubi's power in my last mission with Hinata-chan and Sakura, I told them and I was in return told about my parents by Tsunade-Baachan. Please know that I'm still the same guy that you all know. Nothing has changed except how much you all know about me. Remember though, these are Konoha S-class secrets. No-one may speak of them to anyone who doesn't know except for Baachan and me."
The aging Daimyo flinched at the name for one of the most powerful people to come out of Konoha. He looked around the room and saw that everyone present was beginning to understand how Naruto beat Haku. He gave a slight cough to gain everyone's attention. "Naruto-dono, if I may, you still have two presents that need to be revealed... the scrolls," he said. "That is unless there is nobody else to ask any stupid questions about the fate of that evil fox which I'm assuming you have locked up tightly?"
Naruto nodded, happy to see that everyone seemed to be okay with the information. He really had many friends, and he was glad. 'Phew!' he thought with a big smile. 'That was easier than I thought it would be. Now, what's in these scrolls?'
He picked one out at random and just looked at it. His hand began shaking in his excitement... just looking at the scroll could tell him that it was important. Before, when he'd first received the scroll, he'd thought it was because it was supposed to be for the Daimyo. Why did it look so official...was it just to fool him, or was it actually that important? He sensed Hinata peeking over his shoulder as he held the scroll. He turned slightly to her and smiled as he snaked an arm around her shoulder again. He completely ignored the growls from Neji and Kiba and the perverted giggles from Jiraiya.
He peeled back the scroll and gasped when he saw the contents. Inside was a letter from Hyuuga Hiashi and several numbers. "Nani?" he asked Hinata. "Why did your father write to me?"
"Ano, Naruto-kun," squeaked the bright red, yet very cute Hinata. "I d-don't know. Read it."
Naruto began to read the scroll. His hands began shaking even harder as he read. Eventually, Hinata had to take the scroll from him so that she could continue reading. A small cough behind the two of them reminded them that there were other interested people in the room. Naruto looked at Hinata with a smile. "Go on Hinata-chan," he said. "You read it. I can't because I'm too excited, and I want to hear you read."
Hinata nodded as she turned to face everyone in the room. At first she squeaked out her words, especially when Naruto rubbed her shoulder with his hand that still hadn't left her. She coughed slightly, and then began to read aloud:
Naruto-sama, if you are reading this then you should by now know who your parents were and what they did before they died. Before your father died, he asked me to watch over you and to look after your inheritance (the actual amount is recorded below) with the intention of giving it to you on your eighteenth birthday. I have done so, and it is now all yours. By now, you are probably one of the richest bachelors in Konoha. Your parents were quite wealthy before they died, and had many things they wished to pass on to you.
The first, of course, is the financial inheritance. I have been investing it for years, and it has multiplied several times over. Your parent's house is also available for you to live in, although if you'd prefer it, you could easily afford a new house here in the clan districts. I don't know which you would prefer, but I can imagine that without the whole village becoming aware of the Kyuubi and accepting you, many – especially those of your generation – would resent your taking your parents' house. By the time you read this, I will have spoken to Tsunade-sama and I'm sure that she will have given a genin team a D-rank mission to clean the place up. She will also have given the keys to someone with you whilst you read so you can go and see the place. Considering my daughter's feelings for you, as I'm sure you'd have figured it out by now, I will ask that they be given to her. She should be happy to deliver them.
Naruto looked expectantly at Hinata and she blushed as she reached into her pouch to give Naruto a rather large bunch of keys. When Naruto looked at everyone else in the room, he was surprised to see the shock on all their faces. He threw his head back and laughed hard at seeing their faces. When he eventually calmed down, he turned back to Hinata so she could continue reading.
The second thing is all your parents' techniques. Your father gave me a scroll detailing the technique for the Hiriashin no jutsu that gave him the name 'Konoha's yellow flash'. He desired that it would become a family jutsu that only your descendants would be able to perform. The scroll is a blood seal scroll, so I can't open it and use it myself. I believe that Jiraiya-sama will most likely help you to learn this technique. I look forward to the return of the yellow flash to Konoha.
Your mother also gave me a few techniques for increasing chakra control which she said I could use to help the Hyuuga grow stronger on the condition that I teach you on your eighteenth birthday too. She knew what her husband was intending to do with you once Kyuubi arrived, and though she was heavily pregnant, she came to me and asked this of me. She was aware of the fact that Kyuubi would likely give you poor chakra control, and so she needed to make sure that there was someone to teach you. She had a feeling that she would probably not live through the Kyuubi's attack. She had a gift for those sorts of premonitions, and others learned to treat them with respect. I will begin teaching you the moment you come to me for the lessons. They have helped me greatly so far... my Kaiten was never as draining as what it was after I learned these control techniques.
You have vast potential, and my daughter tells me it's your greatest dream to become Hokage, and surpassing them even. She tells me that you do it so that you can protect all those close to you, as well as to prove the village wrong about you and therefore your father. With these techniques, that should be an easy thing to do. You will also need the backing of the village council. You have the backing of the Hyuuga clan, and I've spoken to others too. So far, all I've spoken to have agreed on the condition that you cease pranking them and that you be taught proper etiquette with the elders. I'm glad that your pranks ceased already when you graduated from the academy, but in my opinion, should you ever decide to 'use proper etiquette' with the elders (i.e. Publicly embarrass them), I'll give you my full support because of the way they've treated you over the years.
P.S. By the way, I've just returned from speaking to Tsunade, which you so loudly interrupted saying that you've returned from the mission and that you've told Sakura-san and my daughter about Kyuubi. I am glad that my daughter is someone you have become able to trust, and I am honored that you chose to tell her first. I am very proud of the way that you've both turned out, despite the way that I've treated her and acted towards yourself in the past. I've asked Tsunade that you come and see me after she has told you of your parents. I have much to speak to you about.
P.P.S. I'm glad that without reading this scroll, you've been able to embarrass the elders. They won't be able to look anyone in the eye for months. Most of all, I'm glad to have been able to be a part of it.
Naruto was grinning from ear to ear as Hinata finished reading. He was going to learn his parents' jutsus, and he had a new place to stay in. He'd heard about the Yondaime's mansion, and even seen it once or twice. The place was huge, and the only thing left to worry about now was about how he was going to fill it again. His grin widened at remembering what Hiashi had told him about his being glad that Hinata was someone he could trust, as well as that he had the support of the clans to become Rokudaime Hokage.
"That was you?!?!" shouted Chouji with a laugh. "I haven't laughed that hard in months. The elders looked ridiculous."
Naruto bowed and caused Hinata to bow with him. "Why, thank you Chouji," he laughed. "But I couldn't have done it without the help of Hinata-chan and Hiashi-sama."
Everyone laughed for a bit, but Kiba was rolling on the floor again. Neji just shook his head and smirked. Shikamaru was just muttering something about "troublesome" under his breath. Lee and Gai were being restrained from their "youth" rant by Tenten and Jiraiya, the latter of which developing a headache from the beating he'd received from Kurenai for his earlier perverted giggling. Eventually they all calmed down enough for the Daimyo to speak up. "Naruto-dono, you still have another scroll to read," he said with a smile. "This one I was told about, so I know the contents. It details how my country will have their protection from now on. If you'd like, I can read it aloud for you."
"Thank you, Hikari-sama." said Naruto. He reached into his pouch to fetch another official looking scroll and handed it to the Daimyo.
Hikari cleared his throat a bit before beginning to read. The further he read, the wider his smile grew, until he was grinning almost as broadly as Naruto. The second scroll was from Tsunade:
Naruto, Happy Birthday. I've watched your growth for several years now, ever since you came with Jiraiya to find me and bring me back to Konoha to serve as Hokage. I have been meaning to write this scroll to you for more than a year already, and I just used the mission you are currently on as an excuse to give it to you. I decided that I would give my gift to you on this mission when Sakura first proposed it. Congratulations. I'm sure you will like this gift, as well as the one that Hiashi told me he needed to give to you.
When you used the Rasengan for the first time at age twelve, I knew that you were going to grow into a powerful shinobi. You've proven me correct on that count for all these years, and I have acknowledged your strength before the council many times. Thank you for growing as you said you would on so many occasions. You've proven me correct in my decision.
It is my wish, alongside the Fire's Daimyo that the Fire country and Wave country be allies in trade and power. That is why we need someone who can protect all the people without the neglect that some would give to one nation or the other. You are the right person for the job, and until the alliance treaty is signed by all relevant parties, I ask that you protect the people of Wave country as another mission. The people there already see you as a hero for a mission you went on as an early genin, so I'm sure that anyone would be glad to accommodate you.
For this mission, I suggest two team mates. Considering the success of your earlier mission, I suggest you select Hyuuga Hinata and Haruno Sakura to accompany you. I have already informed them, as well as their parents, and all have agreed.
Naruto looked up at Hinata and Sakura to see them smiling back at him and nodding. He nodded back at them and grinned. He hugged Hinata closer, still having not released her. He turned back to Hikari who had stopped at that point. When he noticed, Hikari continued to read.
You will also need to wait in Wave for the treaty to arrive so that you can sign it too. If you're confused by that, remember that I said I'd acknowledged you in front of the council? Well, they have agreed. Upon your return to Konoha, I will personally be taking you under my wing and training you in the delicate and exciting art that is being Hokage. Congratulations, Rokudaime Hokage.
Naruto shouted out in shock at hearing that. His mouth and eyes were impossibly wide open. A small fly threatened to fly into his mouth until a giggling Hinata waved it away. Shizune laughed too at seeing Naruto's face, but decided to change it. "Naruto-kun, all she's just told you now can be summed up in one word: Paperwork." she said and laughed harder at seeing the shock turn into a scowl. "I'm speaking from experience here."
You really have earned it. The only reason you aren't Hokage already is because of the obstinate elders. The Hyuuga, Akimichi, Aburame, Nara, Inuzuka, Yamanaka and the other smaller clans have already given their approval, but now it is finally official. Next on the agenda is only your training in what the Hokage needs to do. I never received that because of Sandaime's death, but all the Hokage's before that, apart from my grandfather, did. We have much work to do.
A couple of those close by chuckled softly all of a sudden upon hearing Naruto grumbling about paperwork and lazy grannies at that point. That stopped very quickly when Naruto heard the next lines of the scroll, and everything finally sunk in.
By the time you return, the work will already have begun on the Hokage monument to carve your face into the mountain. Mine took longer to appear there because of all the restoration efforts after Orochimaru's attack, but hopefully by the time you arrive, things will be well under way. I look forward to seeing your face alongside mine, Hokage-sama.
You have inherited the will of fire far beyond anyone else in your generation. The real meaning of strength is something that you have learned through your years of pain and rejection. You seek to protect those you care about, as well as those who've caused you nothing but pain for many years. You know the meaning of true strength, and you've been protecting the village as the Hokage should for all your eighteen years. This village, as well as myself, owe you our gratitude.
With all the love of your favorite Baachan (This is the ONLY time I will ever say that accursed word) and those loyal to you in the village, thank you, Uzumaki Naruto.
A small sniffle came from Naruto as a tear slid down his cheek. It had been so long since anyone actually thanked him for what he'd lost out on as a kid. In fact, the only people that he had ever heard thanking him were Iruka, Sandaime (shortly after he'd found out about Kyuubi), Kakashi and now Tsunade. Naruto looked up at all those in the room and saw all present nodding their heads solemnly in agreement. Kiba, eager to appease Naruto, seemed to be even more enthusiastic than Lee and Gai. Naruto smiled at them all through his tears. He smiled appreciatively when a small hand reached up from beside him and brushed the tears away. Comfort flooded him again as he looked at Hinata's beautiful (if a little red) face, and he was eternally grateful.
The next note that I have to say, I know that you might not like. The only two people allowed to speak of your special circumstances are yourself and the Hokage, namely me. I detest the way that some of the villagers and even some of the shinobi have treated you over the years. I will be putting an end to that. The entire village shall be informed by the time you return from your mission. I know that, if the younger generation sees you for who you truly are, the older people will change their ways. All that's needed is that they be told in a logical manner, and I know that many will come around. It's time the entire village treat you as the hero you are.
Enjoy your birthday, and hopefully your mission too, Naruto.
Silence filled the room once Hikari had finished reading the scroll. Hikari rolled the scroll back up before handing it back to the stunned Naruto. Naruto took it with numb fingers and returned it to his pouch. Everyone was staring at him, waiting for his response.
Kiba suddenly broke the silence. "Wait," he said. "The only reason that you're that strong is because of the Kyuubi. If it weren't for him, you'd be really weak. Why are you becoming Hokage? I don't understand."
Naruto looked back at him and couldn't help but give a sad chuckle. "Kiba, I'm surprised that you of all those present here don't understand the real meaning of strength," he said. "Would you be anything as strong as you are now if it weren't for Akamaru?"
Kiba shook his head as he thought about his partner and best friend that sat waiting outside. "No," said Kiba. "but that's different."
"Yes," said Naruto. "it is different, but not in the way that you think. If it weren't for that accursed fox, I would have become Hokage long ago. He actually weakens me. Do you have an annoying voice trying to tell you to kill everyone at every time in the day? Do you have nightmares about the fox wiping out the entire village every time you fall asleep? How is your chakra control? Mine is pathetic because of that fox's chakra continually mixing with mine. With the vast amount I have, do you really think that that's not come with a heavy price? For all the training I've done, I should be many times stronger than I am now... but not from the amount of chakra. It's from where true strength comes from."
Kiba looked at Naruto, finally beginning to understand what he'd been through. "Why is that, Naruto?" he asked.
"Friends. Precious people. Family, and everyone in the village," said Naruto sadly. "If it weren't for the fox, I would have had them for a long time already. Protecting them. That's where real strength comes from. That's the meaning behind the three man team, and more importantly, true strength. I have all that now, but that's not without plenty of hard work that few here have had to deal with."
"YOSH!!!" Lee screamed. "A genius can always be beaten through hard work!"
Everyone in the room packed out laughing at Lee's exuberance. Finally they all calmed down enough to notice Naruto shaking slightly. "-hic- What do you have to say about all -hic- that, Hokage-sama?" asked Tazuna. "I once said that I would never acknowledge -hic- you even if you became Hokage. I -hic- take that back. -hic-"
Naruto continued to shake slightly as he looked up at the room, an unreadable expression on his face. "N-Naruto-kun?" asked the shy Hinata from beside him.
"YATTA!!!" shouted Naruto as he whipped around and picked the suddenly red Hinata up and began swinging her around. "I'M FINALLY THE HOKAGE! YATTA!!!"
Hinata squeaked again when Naruto slowly lowered her to the floor and gazed into her eyes; a fierce look of happiness shone in his eyes that matched her own. Before either knew it, Naruto was leaning into her and she was closing her eyes waiting. Their lips connected, and a force unlike any they'd felt before erupted through their entire bodies. Neither thought about the fact that they were in a room full of shocked people as their kiss deepened. Naruto poured all the passion he had in him into the kiss, and Hinata all the love that she'd had for years. Naruto's arms wrapped around her waist and pulled her tight against him as her own arms wrapped lightly around his neck.
Before Naruto could deepen the kiss any further, his danger sense went off the chart in alarm. He broke the kiss, much to Hinata's disappointment, and turned to face the room full of stunned people. He chuckled slightly and rubbed the back of his neck in embarrassment until he found the source of the killer intent directed at him. It wasn't really that hard, as Neji never usually had a face quite as red as that. "Unhand my cousin!" he roared at Naruto. "Tell me I did not just see you kiss her!"
"That's not all he's done," said Kiba after finding his voice and fumbling in his pocket. "He slept with her too! Look, I have a photograph that fell out of his pocket!"
"NANI?!?!" shouted Neji.
Much to Naruto's horror, and Hinata's embarrassment, Kiba pulled the photo out from his pocket and showed it to the room. Once all the women present had seen it, they joined the guys in saying an exaggerated "AWW!!!" and laughing at the two bright red subjects of the photograph.
Hinata turned to Naruto and stuttered out to him, "N-N-Naruto-kun? I-I Th-th-thought y-you were g-going t-to g-get r-r-rid o-of it?"
Naruto only just managed to catch her before she hit the floor, and he picked her back up. He placed her back on the couch that she'd occupied a little earlier before turning back to the room. "That was a prank that Sakura and Baachan pulled," said a nervous Naruto. "We didn't actually 'sleep together' sleep together!"
"I don't care!" shouted Neji. "It's your birthday, so I gave you a ten seconds head start to run. That time is now up. I'm gonna kick your ass, Hokage or not!"
Naruto ran as fast as he could before Neji charged right after him. The only thing faster than them was the sound of the following laughter.
For the rest of that day, Naruto had been chased all over the beautiful countryside by Neji. The other people from Konoha had left the following morning after congratulating Naruto and wishing Hinata, Sakura and Naruto good luck. The mission that they were now assigned was in fact nothing more than a holiday mission that was well deserved after their last eventful one.
Before they'd left, Kakashi had made certain to go and visit the graves of Zabuza and Haku. They were honorable shinobi that had made many mistakes in the past, but had ultimately made up for them. Naruto was wandering alone as he walked up towards the small monument. It was time he made his visit, and besides, it would give him the chance to sort out his feelings about that kiss... that awesome, sweet kiss. He was worried about what to do with her now, how to look at her even.
He sighed as he crested the hill, but grinned as he saw the kunoichi standing there already. She'd been missing since a little after lunch, and it was now the late afternoon. He walked up to her slowly and stood beside her.
"Sakura, I wondered if this was where you might be," he said softly. "I need to talk to you. About yesterday. About that kiss with Hinata-chan... gomen-nasai."
"Don't say that. You meant that kiss, and you don't take back your words... and that means your actions too," said Sakura as she took a seat on the soft ground. "Besides, I'm glad that it happened."
"But Sakura, I thought you knew how I feel about you and then I kissed Hinata-chan," said Naruto as he sat beside his friend and team mate. "I still like you! I'm just really confused."
Sakura smiled as she looked over at Naruto finally. "Naruto, you don't like me. You love me, but not in the way that you think you do," said Sakura. "You love me like you do a sister. The way that you feel about me is the way that a brother is supposed to feel about his sister."
"Nani?" said Naruto. "But I think that you're smart and pretty."
Sakura laughed cheerfully. "Naruto, thank you, but a brother is supposed to think and say that."
"But I think you're really, really pretty."
"That's what a really creepy brother is supposed to think."
"What do you mean, Sakura?" asked Naruto, seeing the teasing and not retorting. "What do I do about Hinata-chan?"
"Naruto, did you notice that you've stopped calling me 'Sakura-chan?'" she asked. "What I'm trying to say is that perhaps you really do love Hinata as you thought you've loved me for all these years. If I'm wrong, tell me how you really feel about her."
"I... I... can't," said Naruto. He hung his head before looking at the distant sun beginning to set. "Maybe I really do... I can see you as a sister, but I can't see her as one. It's different with her... I can't even act like normal around her anymore... I haven't spoken to her since yesterday. Maybe I do love her."
A small gasp behind them followed by a thud from someone falling out from a tree was all the forewarning that Naruto had to alert him to the presence of Hinata. He looked around in shock to see her rubbing her back as she stood back up again. His shock grew tenfold when Sakura spoke up from beside him. "See, Hinata... I told you that he felt the same way about you, didn't I?" she said, laughing slightly. "Now Naruto, don't be angry... I told Hinata to wait for you in that tree... I knew you'd be coming along shortly. You found out how she felt in the same way, so I thought it was only right that she find out that way too. You two would never have figured it out without everyone's help... sheesh! That was a lot of hard work."
"Nani?!?!" said Naruto rather loudly. "You PLANNED this?"
"Yes," said Sakura rather simply as she stood to leave. "Now, if you two don't mind, I need to go and you two need to talk. Good-bye, otouto, Hinata."
Naruto glared at her retreating form. He swore he saw a small trail of smoke rising off from her red top where he'd been trying to burn a hole with the glare. He turned to the bright red and grinning Hinata who was standing close by nervously. He smiled at her and patted the ground beside him.
Hinata slowly moved closer to him. 'Where should I sit?' she thought. 'I don't know whether to sit next to him or a bit further away.'
"I'm sorry Hinata-chan. Is your back okay?" he asked gently as she lowered herself to sit. "You can sit closer than that if you want... Kyuubi is the one that bites, not me."
She decided to sit a little apart from him... close enough that he would be satisfied and far enough that she wouldn't faint. The whole issue was tossed out the proverbial window when Naruto scooted closer anyway. He sat close enough to her that he could see every detail of her red face, and began to notice her desperate panting for breath. The setting sun cast a warm glow to her hands that automatically rose in front of her. He reached out and lowered them back down. Hinata began hyperventilating even more when she noticed that he hadn't let them go. She began hoping desperately for that blessed darkness to claim her vision so that she could feel that peace of not knowing again. It didn't come... for once in her life, the fainting that she now hoped for refused her wish.
"Hinata-chan... gomen," he said softly. "I'm sorry I've been distant since I kissed you. I also didn't mean for you to hear everything like that."
She ducked her head as a happy tear made its way down to her chin. "Do y-you really l-l-l-love me?" she asked, surprised when Naruto wiped the tear away as he'd done before. "Why... how c-can you like m-me?"
"Easy!" said Naruto loudly, but calmed down once more when he noticed Hinata jump in fright. "I like you Hinata-chan... I've felt this way for a while ... since that mission to the Greenery country when that Iwa-teme threatened you, but I didn't understand it. I liked you long before then, I think. Is this feeling I have for you love? It's more than a feeling... I want to be around you all the time, but I'm happiest when you're happy. When I'm with you, I know everything is okay. Is that love?"
Hinata couldn't speak. All she could do was hyperventilate as she felt Naruto's cool palm against her cheek that had stayed after wiping away the tear. More tears came after finally hearing more of the way that he felt about her. She nearly swooned when he brushed another tear away.
Finally, Hinata found her voice. "I-I d-don't know, Naruto-kun," she whispered. "I r-really d-don't know."
Naruto smiled at her. "I know that what I feel for you I don't feel for any other girl I've met. I never felt this way for Sakura... it's really different and I still don't understand it. I think I do feel like a brother to her." he whispered back. "With you it's different. I want you to be happy, and I know that I'm safe when I'm with you. You're really beautiful yet you were amongst the first to really show your care for me."
Hinata pulled back slightly at hearing the words. A sad look marred her face for a moment as she looked at him. "N-Naruto-kun, is that why y-you like me? Just because I showed c-care for you?" she asked. "Or is it because of the w-way I look? Just because you saw me in the w-waterfall all those years ago, d-doesn't mean that you should like me j-just f-for the way I l-look."
Naruto's eyes widened as he looked at her. She realized what she'd let slip a moment too late and gasped. Her mouth remained uncovered as they stared at each other because her hands were still held warmly in her lap by Naruto's other hand. A trickle of blood came out of his nose as he looked at her, sudden dawning realization crossing his shocked face. Finally, much to Hinata's relief, the darkness reclaimed her vision and she slumped against him. Naruto sighed as he held her protectively against his chest. He gazed out at the setting sun and thought about his answer.
It took a few minutes for Hinata to finally begin to stir. She nuzzled into his chest a bit, trying to take in all the scent that she could before realizing that she'd smelled it before. She squeaked when she heard Naruto chuckle, but when she attempted to jump away, Naruto only gripped tighter to her shoulders. She opened her eyes to see all the reds, oranges and yellows of the beautiful setting sun against the white of the clouds. Naruto was lying against a tree with Hinata by his side with her head on his chest.
"So, that was you?" said Naruto softly. "The mist was so thick that I couldn't make out who it was... only what you were doing and the way you moved. That was truly beautiful, Hinata-chan."
Naruto hugged her tighter when he felt tears soak his jacket. "Don't worry, Hinata-chan..." he whispered gently into her ear. "No matter how beautiful you can ever be, no matter how strong you will ever become, and no matter how much you love me... I think I like you because of you."
She managed to look up into his smiling face as he hugged her against him as he rested against a tree, and she just smiled at him. "Why?" she asked simply.
"Before we left, I promised Sakura I would find out how I feel about you," he said as he gazed longingly into her eyes. "She told me to treat it as a mission."
Naruto watched as a great sadness filled her eyes. Before a tear could escape them, Naruto quickly cupped her cheek with his hand and began to stroke it carefully. He chuckled softly as he looked back out over the bay towards the setting sun. "Don't feel sad, Hinata-chan," he said. He looked back into her opalescent eyes and smiled. "I was dense... I still am dense. But know this... It stopped being a mission the moment I saw you again. I loved spending time with you... just being with you and learning more about you."
"Are you r-really in l-love with m-me?" asked Hinata as if afraid of the answer.
"No," said Naruto. "I don't want to be in love with anyone like that again."
Tears began freely making their way down her cheeks as a sob escaped her lips. She buried her face in his strong chest to stifle her sobs and dug her fingers into his dark jacket as if to never let go. She resisted when she felt him trying to lift her face back up to look at him, but eventually he won. She was surprised to find that his smile had yet to leave his face. A flicker of anger coursed through her until a completely different sensation covered her senses. Hinata could taste the ramen that Naruto had eaten for lunch on his lips as he kissed her softly. Hinata melted into the kiss, just savoring the warmth that Naruto seemed to give.
Naruto chuckled a little upon breaking the kiss to see her eyes still closed and her cheeks a blazing red. He brushed the errant tears away before finding his voice. "I really liked Sakura... I thought I was in love with her," he said as he looked into her eyes. "I was wrong. I never really loved her like that. She is a sister to me now. I guess she's always been."
"B-but then why did you k-k-kiss m-me now?" she asked.
"Because I think that I really do love you, Hinata-chan. I think it's real this time." said Naruto. Hinata's eyes opened wide again in shock as she slumped against Naruto. Naruto just hugged her close and kissed the top of her head, waiting for her to come back to consciousness. 'You're amazing, Hinata-chan. You're just so... kawaii. Aishiteru (I love you), Hinata-chan.'
A few moments later, Hinata awoke and just rested against Naruto, loving the feel of the blonde's strong chest. She brought her one hand back up to his chest and lifted herself up a bit as she turned to gaze into Naruto's cerulean half lidded eyes. Naruto smiled at her and brushed a few strands of hair out from her eyes, tucking it neatly behind her ear. He never took his hand away, but just held her cheek as he lost himself in her eyes. Slowly, both leaned forwards until their lips were mere inches apart.
"Aishiteru, Naruto-kun," whispered Hinata.
"Aishiteru, Hinata-chan," whispered Naruto as he closed the gap and took her lips in another soft kiss.
Hinata felt Naruto's comfort flow into her through their connected lips. She in return gave all the passion her small frame contained. They lost themselves in the sensations of the kiss, loving the feel of the other's warm lips pressed against their own. Hinata gasped a little in surprise when Naruto's tongue flicked against her lip. That was all that Naruto needed to deepen the kiss as his tongue began exploring her mouth. Hinata moaned a little and decided to do the same to Naruto. Her tongue began licking against his lips and Naruto granted her entry. Their tongues massaged each other's for a while before they began gasping for air.
They broke the kiss and panted for a while before opening their eyes again. Naruto looked into her eyes again before bringing her close once more. This time, they made their kiss a little softer, yet just as passionate. Naruto reveled in the warmth that Hinata so easily provided. He had his best friend in his arms, the comfort that only someone he loved and that loved him in return could provide and, best of all, someone to love with all the love that he had never been allowed to share before. Naruto was content.
One hour later, Sakura returned to find the couple fast asleep against the tree. She gave a small giggle as she watched them and took out her camera. She also unrolled the blanket that she was carrying and, after snapping several pictures, covered the two. 'How did I know that they would be here like this? I must be just that good. Shannaro!' she thought as she smiled at them. "Good night, Hinata... Goodnight, otouto."
Epilogue: Upon their return to Konoha, the team was happy to find that many people now waved happily to them long before they arrived at the gates. Hundreds awaited their return to the village and they began cheering the group. Naruto was at first a little put off by the sudden change until Hinata gently reminded him that that was what he had always wanted. Naruto began waving enthusiastically back to them all and jumping up and down in excitement.
Many of the younger people in the crowd raced forwards and picked Naruto up and hoisted him onto their shoulders. They were determined, it seemed, not to allow Naruto to walk back into Konoha on his own two feet. Naruto quickly grabbed onto Hinata's hand and pulled her up next to him. The people held her up and carried her alongside Naruto. He smiled at her warmly as happy tears began streaming down his cheeks and held her hand tightly in his own warm ones. He pulled her hand up and kissed the palm lovingly. A chant began growing louder and louder as the crowd carried them forwards. "rokudaime! Rokudaime!! ROKUDAIME!!! rokudaime! Rokudaime!! ROKUDAIME!!! rokudaime! Rokudaime!! ROKUDAIME!!!"
It seemed that Tsunade had come through with her promise to help change the way the village viewed Naruto. As the crowd carried Naruto and the bright red, yet ecstatic Hinata, forwards, Tsunade came into view. She wore the biggest smile that she had ever done as she watched the way the village had finally acted the way Naruto had always done with them. As they all approached, she turned and pointed the Hokage monument out to Naruto. Naruto turned to see high scaffolding on a part of the mountain that had previously been blank. Now, however, it held the start for the happiest face of all the Hokage's before. It looked so much like his father's face, the only differences being the expression and the whisker marks on his cheeks.
When Naruto looked on his father's face, it looked different to what it had always done before. Before, it had always appeared to be strong, stoic and yet caring. Now, however, it looked proud and really happy. The village was finally doing as he'd asked them to do and treating Naruto as the hero that he was. As soon as the welcoming party arrived back in Konoha, a massive party started. The entire village was welcomed, and with the promise of free booze and dancing, everyone came.
Naruto grew to become known as 'Konoha's Pranking Flash' and served as the Hokage for many years. Treaties were renewed, and many more were signed. For his whole time serving as the Rokudaime Hokage, Naruto always maintained that if it weren't for his friends and loved ones, particularly his wife (Hinata… who else?) then he would never have made it. He would thank them all daily and he made sure that the village understood the meaning of true strength so that should anything ever happen to him, there would never be a shortage of Hokage candidates.
Closing Authors notes: Again, I'm really sorry that this chapter took so long to complete. I HATE computer viruses! Oh well, thanks to all those that have read and reviewed so far. I love you all! I swear I do! Oh well, please review and tell me what you thought. I know that there was a fair bit of OOCness this chapter, but I did it to have a little fun with the characters. Hopefully you had a little fun there too.
I have started my c2 already and I have sent out several staff invites. If you have a completed NaruHina story or if you've beta'd one, please review/PM me and tell me so I can invite you too.
On another important note, I already have another two stories planned… or at least I have an oneshot collection planned with a full length fic to be written alongside it too. If you like my writing style or you enjoyed this story, place me on author alerts or fav's ;) and you'll get an alert email telling you when they arrive. You can place me on alert by checking the boxes at the bottom of the review window.
Thanks again to all my wonderful readers and reviewers. NJOY!!!
12011 Words. If you'd like to see the stats up until the point that I updated this fic with this chapter, go see my profile. Finished.