This chapter is dedicated to my good friend: FictionReader98. It is official now, Ninja Clash is now apart of the Legacy series.

Legacy of the Rasengan III
By: Tellemicus Sundance
Chapter 1: A Hero's Return

Six months after Legacy II
Konoha, Hyuuga Compound

The sun had long since risen, showering its bright and unbridled power down upon the mortals below. In the warm summer morning, it was a wonderful start to what would clearly be a quite hot day.

Most of the people of Konohagakure were either still asleep or just waking up at this point. The many children were already up and about, most already in their classes at school or the shinobi academy. A good portion of the shinobi themselves were also just starting their days in their own unique ways.

But the people who were very much awake already were the early-risers. In the training fields, a few of the more hardened or determined shinobi and kunoichi were already hard at work in their training. Shopkeepers were already up and about, preparing for another day of earning a living for their families. The sentries outside the gates of Konoha waited impatiently for their shifts to end so they could retire for the day after a long night of boring duty.

Crawling out of her comfortable bed, a certain dark-navy haired kunoichi yawned as she stretched. It felt very good to have a nice stretch after a comfortable sleep. It was just a shame that she couldn't have continued on in dreamland for just a little while longer. So she could continue to feel the touch him gently caressing her with all the love of his heart.

Hinata could not understand why she was having such dreams recently. She had not even seen him for quite some time now. Yet in her dreams he was always there, exactly as she remembered him being from their previous encounter. If she hadn't already long since known that she was in love with him, Hinata might have been more concerned with the...contents of her dreams.

A bright blush lit up Hinata's cheeks as she remembered the latest highly inappropriate dream she just had. Gently but firmly shaking her head in an attempt to clear it from such thoughts, she quickly dressed into a heavy bathing robe and made her way to her clan's personal hot spring. She was going to need a nice long soak after such a dream.

Inuzuka Compound

Kiba sat with his mother and sister at the table in their home. Their breakfast was practically inhaled almost as quickly as it had been set on the table. As a family apart of a clan heavily influenced by their canine companions, not much was spoken between them as they ate.

The youngest of the Inuzuka wouldn't have spoken much to the others had they tried to start a conversation anyway. He was either too focused on his food or what he planned to do with his day later.

He knew that neither his team nor he had a mission today. Perhaps he could talk Shino into having another spar with him. Then again, it might be better not to since he had a few other errands to run. Like purchasing more supplies to restock his lost shuriken and kunai. And he still needed to get himself a new set of clothing since his current attire was quickly being worn out and torn up.

Nodding to himself, he made his choice.

Besides, Shino would start getting irritated with how often Kiba's been trying to spar with him anyway.

"Don't forget to get some more food for the pups," his mother reminded him as he stood up with all intents to leave.

"Hai, hai," he muttered dismissively as he left the room.

Walking towards the gate of his clan's compound, he was quickly joined by Akamaru. The large canine let out a loud bark as a greeting before sliding his nose under Kiba's hand, demanding some attention.

Glancing down at his long-time friend, Kiba grinned somewhat sadly. It was only recently that Akamaru had fully recovered from…that mission. The mission where he had come to a very unfortunate realization about himself; he wasn't ready for that kind of responsibility yet.

That was why he'd willingly demoted himself as a Jounin, once again becoming a Chuunin. He had realized during that…mission that though he had the capabilities, he lacked the experience needed to be an effective Jounin. It hadn't taken him long afterwards to realize that his competitive desire to outdo everyone else, especially Naruto, had led him down that path. He had sworn to himself that the next time he became a Jounin, he'd be fully qualified and ready for it.

A loud bark from Akamaru tore Kiba from his musings. Yes, he reminded himself. It was time to get back to his errands.

Dango Bar

Like any other morning, Team Ten was meeting at their favorite restaurant to discuss their plans for the day. Only this time Shikamaru had brought a visitor with them. A noticeably pregnant Sabaku no Temari sat in the booth next to him.

Against everyones' advice, even a direct order from the Godaime Kazekage himself, Temari had decided to continue her duties as a kunoichi for as long as she could. But now that she had passed the four-month mark of her pregnancy, she could no longer safely use her chakra. With her infant connected to her, they now shared her chakra reserves. This meant, if she were not careful, she could easily drain away her baby's very small reserves and kill it unintentionally. And raised in a society in which all life was precious, she would never allow herself to have an abortion either.

"How can you stand to eat some much of that stuff, Temari-san?" Ino couldn't help but ask in disgust.

Ino was dressed in purple form-fitting shorts, a sleeveless shirt that only reached partially down her stomach so that it showed off her toned abdominal muscles, and fishnetting along her elbows and knees. Her hair was still quite long and in its usual ponytail. Unlike many of the other shinobi or kunoichi of Konoha, she no longer seemed to wear her hitai-ate…unless she hid it underneath her clothing somewhere.

Stacked in front of the soon-to-be mother were three empty bowls of spicy-beef curry, with her still working on the fourth. The young woman glanced at the Yamanaka for a moment before shrugging her shoulders and returning to her meal. At least her pregnancy cravings were primarily for curry, if it were something else like ramen (Kami forbid!) she probably wouldn't have survived for very long in her opinion.

"At least it's not ramen," Shikamaru muttered, voicing Temari's thoughts.

"What're ya…gonna…name it?" Choji asked between bites of his barbeque steak.

The once 'pleasantly plump' Akimichi was the most noticeably changed of the trio since their initial days as shinobi. He now wore armor similar to that of his father and was covered with large muscles where fat had once dwelled in such quantities.

Pausing in her consumption, Temari considered the question. "I haven't really thought about that yet," she admitted unabashedly.

"You should name…it 'Curry' after…" but Choji never got to finish his statement as he found his hand jabbed viciously with the young woman's chopsticks.

"I will never name it after food!" Temari snapped, a little too loudly than was necessary. "It's disrespectful to the child and to me!"

But Choji wasn't really paying attention to her rant, instead looking for his missing utensils that he'd dropped. Before the Suna-kunoichi could start descending into another one of her hormonal rants about how males in general are 'so insensitive and arrogant,' Shikamaru let out a loud sigh which drew her attention instantly.

"I heard you were given the task of being Sunagakure's liaison for this next Chuunin Exam," he said, praying that she'd take the bait.

"Hai," Temari said, settling down considerably. "It was one of the only things Gaara-kun could find for me to do these days."

All of Team Ten knew without a fraction of a doubt that a proud kunoichi like Temari would never accept being retired so early in life without trying to continue her career for as long as possible. Shikamaru even had a sneaking suspicion that she was growing more and more bored with herself as she was further restrained from being able to go on B- or even C-Class missions anymore.

"Ano, Temari-san," Ino said, somewhat hesitantly. "I think you should consider not doing missions anymore."

Snorting somewhat indignantly, Temari made no reply. None was needed; they knew she'd never take that suggestion without a 'just cause.'

Haruno Residence

It was with apprehension that Sasuke stared at the door in front of him. Behind this simple wooden structure lived a person he had grown to deeply respect and care for. Under normal circumstances, he would never have felt so awkward. But this person had quickly and nearly-effortlessly become the center of his dreams and hopes for the future.

Taking a deep breath to steady himself, his patented cool and indifferent demeanor slowly returned. It would not do for him to be seen as nervous in front of her. And despite whatever she may now feel for him, he refused to be seen as a lovesick teenager. Such an image would forever taint his pride as a shinobi and a young man.

Knocking firmly on the door, he stepped back to await her arrival. He knew she was inside; her chakra signature was so unique to him that he could identify it even in a crowd of kunoichi.

Glancing off the side, he stared down unseeingly at the grass next to the doorstep. In his mind, he tried to put together the strange puzzle that had been gradually building up since he met her. How and when did he realize that he…needed her?

He knew it hadn't started when he first saw her in his second year at the academy. At age nine and having been orphaned for just less than two years, he never been more alone in his entire life than then.

The academy class had just started that day, with another of Naruto's usual pranks on Iruka-sensei. Iruka had started the class with reading out of the textbook on how the Shodai Hokage had been able to unite the various and highly uncooperative clans to form the foundations for what would become Konoha. Sasuke had little interest in the subject since he thought that the history lessons would not aid him in his ambition to avenge his clan.

Then he saw a hesitant hand rise into the air. It was Sakura, who had been quite naïve at the time about clans and their rivalries. She had asked a simple question: why couldn't the clans have gotten along, especially since they all had a special gift that no one else in the world had?

That simple question from her was what first drew his attention to her. But then over the course of the coming weeks, she had quickly become a member of his 'fan club.' He had been slightly dismayed to learn that such a smart girl would suddenly join such a stupid thing. As she grew more and more infatuated with him, he grew more and more distant since he didn't wish to associate with anyone who wasn't going to try to help him become stronger.

Then fate stepped in.

They became teammates. Once exposed the horrors and rigors of actual shinobi missions where they could potentially die and with a bit of help from Naruto and her own mistakes, she finally began shaping up to become a respectable kunoichi. It was somewhere during this time that she had taken an unnoticed step into his badly-worn heart and began healing it.

It must've been during their mission to Wave Country, on the bridge. When she had been traumatized by seeing him seemingly die at the hands of that nukenin, Haku, and then awoke to find him kneeling over her. She had given him his first true kiss; the accident that had led to his highly unintentional 'first' kiss with Naruto was one of the memories he dearly wished he could lock away and never see again!

And though they had not kissed since, neither of them could truly forget it. Yes, it had been that simple act that had created a special link between them. A link that would eventually lead Sakura to calling him her best friend, a link that would cause him much grief and irrational jealousy during their mission to Snow Country, a link that had continued to grow and strengthen as they aged and matured. He respected her talents and abilities unconditionally. She accepted him for who he was, undaunted by the villagers' briefs that he was traitor until recently.

It had only been recently, around the time of Konoha's ambush on Orochimaru's research facilities, which he had begun to see her as something more. He had been afraid at first to think that she evolved from someone he was good friends with to someone much dearer; not that he'd ever admit to being scared about anything. But as his feelings began to rapidly grow and change, he had been forced to admit the truth, to himself at least.

He, Uchiha Sasuke, was in love with Haruno Sakura.

He was so caught up in his thoughts, Sasuke failed to notice the door open to expose the aspiring medic-nin and kunoichi of his silent musings. A small smile spread across her face as she noticed his distracted expression.

Though her attire hadn't changed much in last few months, Sasuke had gotten himself a completely new outfit. He now wore a white, long-sleeved shirt with blue trim, and a pair of standard black Jounin pants. Fastened securely around his forearms, triceps, shins, and his chest was standard issue ANBU armor.

Interestingly, he had cut out a piece of the back of the shirt so that a portion of his flesh was exposed. On any other shinobi, this would've seemed highly ridiculous, but for Sasuke it was practical. This was especially true with the fact that he may need to draw upon his curse seal's second level at any given moment. Coupled with his chokuto at his waist, he now gave off an aura befitting a serious Jounin of considerable renown that he carried around.

Clearing her throat loudly, Sakura's small smile widened slightly as she watched his flinch before looking back up at her.

"Ready to go?" he asked, a little too quickly. It did not escape Sakura's notice that he had the faintest of blushes on his cheeks when he said that.

Nodding, she closed the door to her home and started to walk away. When her boyfriend drew up beside her, she said, "I wonder how Osamaru-kun's been lately. I haven't seen him for a few weeks."

"He's not making Kurojin-san's life very easy," Sasuke said quietly as they turned and started walking down the crowded street.

Glancing at Sasuke, Sakura said, "Are you so sure, Sasuke-kun? Last I heard he was being a perfect angel."

"That was before one of the villagers 'mistook' him for one of their babies," the Uchiha Jounin muttered darkly. "She takes him with her everywhere she goes now."

Catching his tone, Sakura stopped and turned to face him as she said, "What happened? I didn't hear about that."

"Yukina-san had dropped him off at day-care center while she went to work," he began. "When she came back, he wasn't there. She came to me and we went searching for him. It's a good thing I wasn't the one to find him…That man who took him would've lost a lot more than his pride that day."

"What happened?" she asked, not liking the dark look in his eyes. The trio scars over his right eye, courtesy of Naruto two and half years ago, made his anger all the more frightening.

"…Yukina said the man said something like 'the child deserves far more to have a father like myself.'" Turning, Sasuke glared hatefully down a nearby alley. "The worst part was that he left his own son at the day-care as well."

"That—that's awful!" was all Sakura could utter in disbelief. "What a horrible man!"

Slowly returning his gaze to the pink-haired kunoichi, he gave a small but deeply satisfied smirk. "I do believe that he's still recovering from his injuries in the Konoha Hospital. Tsunade-sama promised to bring the man up on charges of neglect and a few…other things."

Catching his hidden meaning, Sakura returned his smirk with one of her own. Continuing their journey, they decided to head to Ichiraku Ramen Shop for breakfast. For some reason, they were both in the mood for some good ramen.

Main Gate

An odd-looking pair came to a halt just inside the main gates of Konohagakure. One of them was quite easily identifiable due to the unique clothing he wore and his long, shaggy white hair. Strapped to his lower back was a large scroll, just underneath the traveling rucksack he carried. And if those distinguishable traits weren't enough for him to be recognized, the pair of red tattoo lines running from his eyes to his jaw line and his commonly-perverted grin were dead giveaways.

It was Jiraiya of the Sannin.

Next to him, his teenaged companion and student pulled off his own traveling rucksack and set it down with a loud thud. Ignoring his sensei, he pulled a small surfboard out of his rucksack and quickly bound up the nearest pole with an air of unrestrained excitement and a monstrously large foxy grin.

Uzumaki Naruto had changed a great deal since his encounter with Team Eight several months ago. He still wore his favorite orange pants, but his aged orange and black sweater had been replaced. What he wore in its place was a light-weight black jacket. There had been a design of orange flames lining the lower sleeves when he purchased it. But an unfortunate accident had led him to losing the lower half of his right sleeve.

However, his most favorite additions to his clothing were to his forearms and shins where a set of standard issue ANBU armor that were securely tied and fingerless-black gloves. Strapped to his back was the katana, Seigi no Migite, which he was still seeking the origins of. Since that fateful clash in the desert, he had not once been able to summon out that yellow chakra that he'd used, even with weeks of constant training.

"My, my," Jiraiya observed to himself, watching his newest star-pupil scale the pole in three jumps. "You're certainly in a good mood today."

Reaching the top, Naruto grinned happily down at him as he called back. "Of course I am!" Turning back to the view, Naruto let spread his arms and took a long, deep breath of the morning Konoha air. I'm home.

"Oi!" Jiraiya called. "You're not planning on using the Kazeodori, are you?"

A large grin was all the response he got.

Jiraiya could only rub his face in exasperation as a groan escaped him. Leave it to Naruto to make a 'big entrance' upon his return, and then he grinned. Jiraiya's instincts were telling him that this entrance would probably lead to a wonderful time to catch up on some of his long-overdue research. But first he should probably drop Naruto's bag off at his apartment, if only to save himself from a headache later.

Leaping high and away from the pole he stood upon, Naruto slipped the small surfboard under his feet and glued his feet to it with chakra. Gathering more his chakra, he prepared for what would quickly become a wild ride.

After giving up on his search for clues on the origins of his katana, Naruto had shifted his attentions to another part of the shinobi arts: seals. However, he quickly found that he did not possess much talent in that area compared Jiraiya's previous apprentice. At the time he'd done this, he and Jiraiya had taken a short training vacation down to the beach. What he saw there inspired him to make his newest creation: surfers.

Steadying himself upon the surfboard, Naruto sent his chakra into the seals that covered the metal-plated wood. A blast of chakra saturated the air underneath the board, generating lift. An instant later the chakra began to push the air, which resulted in movement.

As though he were riding a wave of the ocean, Naruto swerved and slid through the air and winds in almost-graceful sweeps. No matter how many times he'd done this in the past two weeks, adrenaline flooded his veins and a loud whoop of pure joy sprang from his lips.

That single cheer was more than loud enough to alert nearly the entire population of Konoha to his return.

Like a rocket, Naruto swept through the air, arms back and his chest down. The rush of the warm morning air was a truly exhilarating feeling, sweeping through his slightly-longer hair and black headband straps. Down below him, he could see the growing crowds of Konoha staring and pointing at him in surprise, awe, and disgust (those that recognized him). A streak of mischievousness cut through him and he dove down towards the river of people.

They split and spread out quickly, trying to escape from his seemingly uncontrolled descent. Grinning like a madman, he pulled up just in time to skim over the heads of those who hadn't been fast enough, spraying them with fierce winds that knocked them over.

Laughing manically, he continued on for a ways, just reveling in the attention he was receiving. In no time though, he noticed that he was being followed by shinobi. Glancing off to the side, he spotted a familiar pair of expressionless animal masks. So, the ANBU have come to play too?

Pulling up slightly, he lazily drifted over the rooftops of a row of buildings and several of the ANBU, waving tauntingly at them. One of them made a leap for him, probably trying to tackle him. But Naruto merely shifted his weight and sent the surfboard into an aerial spin. The spin was enough to not only move him just out of the ANBU's reach, but also send the man flying back the way he'd come from the blasting winds underneath the surfboard.

Continuing on with his original course despite flying backwards, Naruto's laughter intensified as he watched the ANBU crash into his kunoichi partner in a rather questionable position. However, his moment of inattention cost him dearly for he failed to notice the tree branch he was racing towards.

Caught by surprise, he was separated from his surfboard and dropped ungracefully to the ground in a crumpled heap. He lay still for a moment to catch his breath before bouncing to his feet again.

"Naruto?" a familiar voice spoke up from somewhere nearby. Turning, he spotted a familiar face.

"Ohayo, Shizune-san!" he said, grinning widely.

"What are you doing?" the aforementioned medic-nin asked, studying his appearance closely. He had grown so much!

"Having a little fun!" he answered quickly before rushing to his surfboard.

"Uzumaki! Get back here!" a demanding voice cried from a rooftop nearby.

In the span of time it had taken Shizune to glance over towards the rooftop to spot the growing number of ANBU and other shinobi that were chasing after the boy—no, teenager—a fierce gust of wind announced Naruto's departure.

The shinobi were converging on him, trying to capture him like they had done many times in the past. But things were different now: Naruto was in full control of the situation he was in. This was what the shinobi found out the hard way when the blonde took an abrupt, near-vertical climb extremely high into the air.

Almost all eyes in Konoha that had been made aware of his presence followed his climb into the atmosphere into he was little more than an orange and black dot against the blue sky.

Looking down and seeing Konoha was little more than size of his fist, Naruto let a devious foxy grin split across his face. This was the moment he'd been planning and waiting for from nearly the instant he'd first conceived the Kazeodori in his mind.

Releasing the excess chakra that had been propelling him but remaining firmly attached to the surfboard, he let gravity gradually work its magic. Slowly at first his continued on his original journey into the air, then as his speed slowed and gravity increased, he reached the zenith of his climb.

Closing his eyes, he took a breath of the high atmosphere air before arching his body back as he began his decent. Purely for the enjoyment of the fall and the moment, Naruto threw himself into a complex series of rolls, spins, and somersaults. He ended up spinning wildly and almost uncontrollably upside-down, the Kazeodori acting in a similar manner to a propeller, all the while cheering like a fool.

Below him, the earth was rapidly rushing up at him. The dark specks on the ground quickly grew in size and became distinguishable. The Hokage Monument became larger and larger as he fell closer and closer towards the Hokage Tower. Even without his keen eyesight, he could tell that certain old woman was watching his fall in growing concern and fear.

When he was merely several hundred feet above the streets, he whipped the Kazeodori underneath himself and powered it up. In a fit of deafening laughter, he turned his fall into an exaggerated dive, kicking up a cloud of dust as he breezed down the street before rocketing away towards the training grounds.

All his shinobi pursuers could only stare at his retreating form after the two thousand meters of free fall he'd just pulled. One thought ran through the minds of many of them as they watched him disappear into the forestry.

I've got to get one of those! That was their collective thought.

That had been quite an entrance from number one most unpredictable shinobi of Konoha.

Training Ground 7

Neither of them needed to guess where he might be. They knew instinctively, just from watching the general direction in which he'd gone. That was why Sakura and Sasuke were the first ones to appear at a very familiar training ground.

Lying lazily up against 'his' post and clearly dozing off as though he had just finished an extremely exhausting training session was a figure that they had not seen for more than two and a half years. Resting upon the ground next to him was what seemed to be a pint-sized surfboard with an intricate and complex series of seals painted into the wood and a katana with an orange-laced hilt.

Despite himself, Sasuke couldn't help but snort at Naruto's attire. And here he was hoping that he would be the only one among their team that would be using the shin and forearm armor. Well, at least Naruto had chosen to be consistent with his original color scheme.

Walking up to the blonde, Sasuke kicked lightly one of Naruto's heels. "Get up, Sekigan. It's past time I kicked your ass."

Snorting quietly, Naruto lazily rolled his head back to look up at the pair with his single blue eye. "Really now? ...Puh, I see you're still ugly, Kizuato. Though you don't look as much like a woman with those scars."

"Shut up, Naruto!" Sakura barked, a spark of anger slightly overriding her happiness at seeing the blonde again. "He's much better than you will ever be!"

"Ohayo to you too, Sakura-chan!" Naruto said, turning one of his more endearing grins to her. "You certainly haven't changed much! Prettier than ever, I'd say!"

Sakura was momentarily torn between beating the shit out of her long-lost teammate and hugging him to death. And with her newfound strength, she most certainly could perform either one if she wanted to.

Bouncing lightly to his feet now that he'd seemed to have regained his breath, Naruto stood to his full height. In an instant they all realized the obvious. Before, Naruto was without a doubt the shortest among them. Now he stood eye-level with Sasuke and was several inches taller than Sakura.

"My goodness," Sakura said, staring at him in surprise.

"Heh, you're taller now," Sasuke observed, knowing he was pushing Naruto's buttons. His height had always been a sore spot for Naruto when they were younger, especially during their academy years.

Lashing out immediately, Naruto's fist met Sasuke's jaw, knocking him off-balance slightly. "What? You thought I'd be RUNT when I'm FIFTEEN YEARS OLD?!!"

Of course as soon as Naruto had hit Sasuke, Sakura was already in motion. Her own fist slammed into his jaw and sent his tumbling for several dozen meters before he finally to a stop in the dirt.

As he was rolling over, Naruto heard the approach of another shinobi. Opening his eye, he stared up at a very familiar mess of spiky gray hair, a black mask, and the infamously known 'smiling eye.'

"Making friends everywhere you go, Naruto?" Kakashi asked, his wide and happy smile visible even through his mask.

"You have no idea," he muttered as he sat up and dusted himself off. Turning around to face the man while remaining seated on the ground, Naruto's face took on an almost unnatural stoic expression. After a moment of severe contemplation, he nodded to himself and reached into his new, larger equipment pouch hanging from his waist. "I've got a present for you, Hatake…Call it a 'gift of forgiveness.'"

With his back to them, neither Sasuke nor Sakura could clearly see what their teammate had whipped out and held before their former team sensei. But whatever it was seemed to freeze the man in horror, shock, or maybe even disbelief, it was hard to tell. Whatever it was, it sent Kakashi into a fit of uncharacteristic stuttering. And was he...trembling?

"W-WHAT?!!" the man gasped. "You…H-HowTh-This is…!!!"

It was only when they drew up beside the pair that they realized what it was. Naruto held out a green-covered book by the title of Icha Icha Tactics.

"It's the newest addition to the Icha Icha series in over three years," Naruto said, not caring that Sakura's expression had suddenly begun to turn murderous. "Ero-Sannin insisted I read it. It's really boring, but I'll bet you'll still like it."

It had only been that those last few statements that had saved Naruto from having his head being driven two feet underground and allowed Kakashi to tentatively take hold the most precious gift he'd ever been blessed with.

"Reading perverted novels now, Uzumaki?" Sasuke asked, sneering at Naruto's grimace of metaphorical pain.

"I had to!" he whined, sounding very much like the old Naruto they all knew. "It was either that or no ramen—as in none at all—for six months straight!"

"You really are pathetic," Sasuke muttered, shaking his head in exasperation but unable to remove his grin. "You know that, right?"

"I love my ramen!" Naruto snapped, turning around to face away from his friend in a very childish manner.

Oh yeah, things had definitely taken a trip back to the norm for the reunited Team Seven.

Near the Hyuuga Compound

There was a lot of muttering and whispering passing through the crowds as she walked calmly down the street. Hinata wasn't exactly sure what had happened and was straining her ears for whatever clippings of rumors that she could. Now she wished that she hadn't taken quite so long in the hot spring getting...cleaned up, because apparently she'd missed whatever had just occurred.

"…back, can you…"

"…brat should've been…"

"…seen him flying by…"

The only times she had ever heard people muttering in such hateful tones were when…Naruto-kun was around. In an instant, her heart fluttered as her hopes soared into the sky. Was it possible that he was back already? But she'd been told that he'd be gone for three years...

Caught up in her contemplations, Hinata didn't notice who she'd passed until a gentle hand touched her shoulder. Flinching, she glanced over at the gloved hand and quickly followed it up to the face of the person who held her.

Hanging upside-down from the tree that she was currently standing under, his bright blue eye shining with happiness and amusement at her expression, was a clone of her long-lost crush, Uzumaki Naruto. He wore a soft smile as he memorized her features, taking in every single detail, right down the slight dampness of her considerably longer hair.

"Good morning, Hinata-chan," he said, an endearing foxy grin spreading across his upside-down face.

"O-O-Oha…yo, N-N-Naru…to-kun," she finally managed to stutter out, feeling extremely lightheaded all of a sudden.

"Don't faint on me now," Naruto said, his grin widening as a chuckle escaped his lips. "I still can't quite catch you, you know?"

"Remember not to faint, Hinata-chan, I won't be there to pick you up anymore," she could clearly remember Naruto-kun saying those very words before leaving, even after all this time. At that memory and what he had just said to her, Hinata's face lit with one of her patented blushes.

Seeing her reaction, Naruto chuckled again before dropping to the ground. Landing lightly on his feet, he turned and stood in front of her. For a moment, both just stared at one another. It was hard to judge who moved first, but one thing is obvious. By the end of that moment, both of them were embracing the other tightly.

"I'm home," he whispered into Hinata's ear. "my Hinata-hime."

(Author's Note) For some reason, I just felt really reenergized as I was writing this chapter. Maybe it's the thrill of starting a new story or being able to finally introduce a few of my long-suppressed ideas? Whatever the reason, I hope you guys enjoyed this chapter as much as I did.

I wonder how many of you can guess where I got the inspiration behind Team Seven's reunion? But I have to say that I'm happy I was able to keep that whole Icha Icha gift in this story, I just loved that scene in canon!

As you can no doubt see, despite my misgivings for it, I'm keeping Makaze Rekidaishi as a part of the overall storyline. There are quite a few things that occurred in MR that will play a pivotal role in Chuuten, I can promise you that!

Chuuten—Rising into the Heavens
Kizuato—Scar, Naruto's nickname for Sasuke
Sekigan—One Eye, Sasuke's nickname for Naruto
Seigi no Migite—Right Hand of Justice (yes, I changed the name from Meirei no Migite due to several reviewers pointing out some errors in the translation that I made)
Kazeodori—Dancing Wind, name of the surfboard Naruto created to ride the winds with. This surfboard is highly maneuverable and possessing a surprisingly great acceleration velocity. However, it is highly dependant on Naruto's supply of chakra and consumes much of it very quickly. The amount necessary to fuel it for even five hundred meters of flight is greater than many fresh-Chuunin reserves usually are.