The Pale Moon's Love

The Pale Moon's Love

Summary: Naruto comes back after training with Jiraiya for 3 years, to find he wasn't the only one who grew stronger and matured. Naruto goes on a quest to bring back Sasuke and the Akatsuki interfere. However, Hinata's matured and strengthened as well and she won't let anyone hurt Naruto or separate her from him again. She wants to be strong enough to help him; to show him how she feels and Naruto finally understands Hinata…NaruxHina! Rated T!

Here is a 'key' to things you'll be seeing in this story:

"Baa-chan!" Regular speech

'Stupid Pervy Sage!' Thought

: This Break line means a shift of time

--: This Break line indicates a change of Character perspective

--: This Break line indicates a change of time and Character

(Flashback/Dream) (End Flashback/Dream): Indicates the beginning and end of a flashback or a dream.

DISCLAIMER I'm only putting this once people so get it into your heads: I DO NOT OWN NARUTO! Kishimoto-sensei owns the world of Naruto and all the characters! The storyline however, is mine. For the most part, lol. I will mark anything of mine like this: mine!

Chapter 1: Cerulean Seas!

The sun slowly rose above the horizon, casting rays through tree-branches and gently bathing Konohagakure, the Hidden Leaf Village, in its warmth. The cock's let loose their cries, greeting the sun and waking other animals. Dew shone softly on the undisturbed grass and leaves, and some flowers started to crack open as the gentle sunlight touched their closed petals.

In the Hyuga Estate, in one of the fancier housing complexes, lay a sleeping Hinata Hyuga. Her window, which faced the rising sun, was protected by a set of soft white blinds. The blinds were cracked open slightly, and soft rays of the sun made it through the cracks…and gently caressed the sleeping Hyuga Heiress' soft pale skin.

She sighed contentedly, and shifted slightly under her soft white covers. Her long indigo hair was splayed across her pillows and covers, and her soft pink lips raised slightly in a smile. Her pale right arm was raised above her head, and her left arm was resting lightly on her covered stomach.

Hinata's eyes slowly opened, and the faint smile still graced her features. She was fully awake as soon as her eyes opened, aware of everything around her…and enjoying the new day. She still held onto the lingering memories of the dream she had emerged from…holding on to the feeling of warmth and security and belonging that she had in those strong arms. His arms…the hyperactive, yet determined Blond Shinobi.

Naruto Uzumaki…who had been gone three years today. Naruto Uzumaki…the young man she had always had a crush on, but over the past few years she was sure that it was no longer a crush. It was a permanent attachment…no longer small enough to be considered a simple crush.

She could still see the warm blue eyes that had held such love in their gaze as they locked with her pale orbs…and she blushed slightly at the intensity of the look that had been in her dream. She sighed as she realized that she had been woken from her dream by a knock on her bedroom door. She called out as she sat up and wrapped her soft white sheets around her matured form, "Yes?"

"Hinata-sama...your father instructed me to wake you." Came a familiar voice from the other side of the traditional sliding door. Her room was modeled after the ancient and traditional designs. She threw back the covers to her bed and rose from her bed. She hurriedly slipped on a pale lavender morning kimono, tightening it securely to be fully clothed, and then slid open the door.

Standing in front of her, already dressed in his pure white long-sleeved Tunic top and pants. His face was set in a soft and fond smile, which she returned, and he bowed. His headband glinted in the morning light as he bowed and then straightened, and Hinata bowed back as well.

"Good morning, Neji-niisan." She greeted, and his smile made her cock her head to the side questioningly.

"Why are you smiling?" She asked. It wasn't very often he smiled…but when he did it was for a good reason.

"Have you forgotten what today is already…Hinata-sama?" He teased slightly, and immediately a blush crept onto Hinata's fair face. She remembered…how could she not?

"So you're just as excited?" She asked nervously, and Neji chuckled.

"Not in the same way as you, obviously, Hinata. But yes…Konoha hasn't been the same with Naruto gone. I am excited that he'll be back…and things will be as they once were." Neji said, and Hinata smiled. Her smile faded, however, when a question entered her mind. She voiced the question hesitantly.

"N-Neji…do you think he'll remember me?" She asked quietly, and looked down at the ground. That was her biggest fear…that after three years, Naruto would no longer remember her at all.

"Of course he'll remember you. How could he not, after all you did for him…after the mission to get the bug to track Sasuke's scent? He considers you a precious person…and he would never forget a precious person." Neji reassured her gently, and she looked up at him and smiled. She knew the truth of his words, and realized she was being foolish. She bowed her head slightly, but Neji's hand reached out and gently lifted her chin.

"Hinata…he may have been a dunce in his earlier days…" Hinata and Neji both smiled at this. "But I'm sure now that you're both older he'll realize not only your feelings for him…but maybe his feelings for you." He said softly. She blushed softly, and Neji withdrew his hand from her face.

"Now, I've done as your father asked and woken you…so I will leave you to get ready for the day." Neji said, and Hinata smiled as he turned and walked away. Hinata leaned against her doorframe as she watched her cousin walk away from her, down the white hallways of the Hyuuga Compound.

She could remember when she and Neji hardly ever spoke, three and a half years ago. Neji had never spoke with her more than he could, always being curt and borderline respectful with his answers and speech. Then, he had fought her in the Chunin exams, and she had lost. She might have lost, but she had gained Naruto's attention finally that day. His eyes had been on her, he had cheered her on when she felt weak and like she should withdraw. Neji had won, yes, but Hinata had grown.

Then, Neji fought Naruto in the Chunin Exam Finals, and had lost to the blonde. Naruto had spoken to him, and finally reached him inside the dark place of his heart…and Neji had gradually began to change. He had changed in small areas, speaking more and more to Hinata and becoming more pleasant to her. He acknowledged her change, her efforts…and after Naruto had left, he began to spar with her almost every day. He knew she wanted to change, he knew she wanted to be strong for Naruto. Her father had even picked up on her change in strength and resolve, and had finally acknowledged that she was no longer weak. He began to train her himself, showing her the moves passed down through the Hyuuga Main House. He had even allowed Neji to spar with him, seeing as he was indeed the most skilled Hyuuga. Even the council had acknowledged his genius. Now, Hinata was sure that they were as close to a real family as she would ever get. Even Hanabi had warmed up to her, and they spoke often and went on girls days out…and shopped and talked about everything and did things they should have done years ago.

Hinata finally shut her door, and then sighed. Today…she would wait for Naruto at the main gate. She wasn't sure when he would get back…but she hoped it would be today. After all, today was the three-year mark. He had told them that he would be back in three years…and he had never broken a promise before.

Hinata walked over to her personal bathroom, shutting the door behind her, and disrobed. She casually appraised herself in the mirror, and was content that she had indeed grown up over the past few years. She was no longer boyish in stature. She had curves now. Her hips had widened, not too much to be considered large but enough to be considered seductive, and her bosom had grown as well. Her skin was milk-white and smooth, and her indigo hair extended to the small of her back. She went to her smoked-glass shower, and turned on the water. She waited until steam rose in a gentle mist, and then she sighed and stepped into the shower. She took her shower, taking her time so her body would wake. She lathered on her soap, applied her shampoo and conditioner…and stood in the shower and let the hot water beat down on her smooth skin. She stayed in the shower for another few minutes, and then got out.

She grabbed a towel and dried off, and wrapped a towel around her body and her hair. She walked to her room, and then to her closet. She pulled it open and quickly selected her wardrobe. She grabbed her blue ninja sandals, a pair of form-fitting dark blue Capri pants, and then she grabbed a dark blue tee shirt. She almost grabbed her hoody, but decided against it. Today would be warm. So she dressed, and then shook her head. She grabbed one of her two hoodies and put it on. She unzipped it, however, so that way she wouldn't get too hot. It was a soft dark blue hoody with white sleeves and half of the upper torso was also white.

Hinata exited her room, leaving her towels behind, and walked out into the hallways of the Hyuuga compound. She began to make her way to the main gates, determined to wait for Naruto. Once she saw him, however, she wasn't sure what she would do.

Two figures were running as fast as they possibly could, through the forest and towards the Konohagakure Main Gate. One, the younger, was being supported by his companion, but both were running quite fast. The young blond man was barely conscious, and was holding loosely onto the larger and older man at his side.

"C'mon, Naruto. Hang in there, Naruto! Keep running!" Jiraiya urged, panting heavily. His clogged feet made loud clacking noises as they ran onto the main road. Here, it was more open and visible. It would put them at their pursuer's mercy, but it would also get them into view of their destination. And…hopefully the gate guards would see them easier.

"Jiraiya…can't." Naruto mumbled through numbed lips. His skin was pale, sweat beaded his face, and he stumbled. He slipped from Jiraiya's grip and tumbled along the hard dirt ground. Jiraiya skidded to a stop, and quickly darted to Naruto's side. The boy's orange and black jumpsuit was in tatters, and blood poured from multiple cuts and gashes. Jiraiya grabbed Naruto by the slim collar of his jumpsuit and jerked him off the ground and out of the way as several shuriken slammed into the dirt where he had been moments earlier.

Naruto was thrown over Jiraiya's shoulder, and Jiraiya went back to running. His own clothing was in tatters, but he wore shuriken resistant mesh armor underneath his clothing so he wasn't bleeding. He might have a couple of bruises, but he wasn't in the shape Naruto was. Jiraiya could sense two distinct Chakra Presences, and knew exactly where his pursuers were. One on his right, the other on his left. They were both hidden in the trees, keeping up with him as he ran. He drew extremely close to the gate, and screamed out, "HELP! KONOHA SHINOBI INJURED!" He knew that his voice would carry, so he focused now on defending himself.

Two blurs burst out of the tree foliage, the only thing truly visible about them was that they were wearing straw hats with white strips of cloth that shrouded their face…and black cloaks with red clouds printed on them. They both were armed with a single kunai, each holding them in their right hand.

Jiraiya dropped Naruto, and was partially surprised when no sound came from Naruto. Apparently, Naruto was too injured to even protest to being dropped. Jiraiya intercepted one of the members, quickly grabbed his kunai-wielding arm and wrenching it so it pulled the Akatsuki out of his momentum and disoriented him. Jiraiya spun the man around, jerking the arm behind and up with a snap so that the kunai stabbed the man in the back of the neck, effectively breaking the man's arm and killing him. Jiraiya then turned to the other attacker; eyes squinted to track the man's amazing speed.

The attacker darted in, right underneath Jiraiya's guard, and tried to stab the older man. Jiraiya simply sidestepped, and clipped the man in the back of the head with a snap-kick. The man's straw hat flew off, revealing a shining bald head, and he stumbled forward and tried not to fall to his face. Jiraiya recognized his mistake at once. The man realized it as well, and continued with his forward momentum, but with his kunai raised and ready to plunge down into Naruto's defenseless body. Jiraiya sprang forward to try to intercept the man, but was too slow.

The man's kunai slashed downward, and his aim was true. His kunai sliced deep into Naruto's side with a sickening wet sound, and Naruto's eyes rolled into the back of his head. He gasped, his breath a hoarse rattle of surprise, and then twitched. Jiraiya quickly grabbed the man from behind, and wrenched his head around with a sickening crunch. The Akatsuki gurgled in surprise, and then died with his head in an angle it was never meant to bend.

Several ninja appeared, wearing the Konoha headband, and Jiraiya spat in anger at the corpse in front of him. Jiraiya turned his attention to Naruto, and was alarmed to see his orange jumpsuit now almost all red as blood poured rapidly from the kunai wound. Jiraiya fell to his knees at Naruto's side, growling as he ignored the questions from the Gate Guards. He ripped off Naruto's jacket, to reveal dozens of small cuts, and one gash that gushed a river of blood from Naruto's side. Kakashi applied pressure to the wound, using Naruto's jacket to try to soak up and stop the blood flow.

"Damn it! SHUT UP! GET ME A MEDIC NOW!" Jiraiya roared in anger, as the pestering gate guards continued their mindless questioning. The guards shrank back, alarmed at the Toad Sage's outburst.

"Immediately, Jiraiya-sama." Barked one, and he left. The other remaining two stayed silent, unsure of what to do. Jiraiya glowered at them, and realized it was Izumo and Kotetsu, two Chunin who he had known slightly well.

"You two need to find Tsunade. Tell her Naruto and I were attacked by two Akatsuki members on our way back, and Naruto is in critical condition! GO!" He yelled, fighting to keep the desperation out of his voice. He watched as the two regained their senses and nodded, disappearing in puffs of smoke.

Jiraiya kicked the bald Akatsuki member's corpse out of the way with one of his feet, and let a tear fall from his eye. "Damn it…Damn it…" He murmured, and he could feel the balled up jacket in his fist grow soaked from the running blood. "Come on, brat." He whispered. He was oblivious to the girl who had come running.

Hinata had been standing near the gate, anxiously waiting for Naruto, when she had heard Jiraiya yell. She hadn't known it was him, but something in her gut had told her it was. She yelled for the Gate Guards, and they had run out to Jiraiya. Hinata had been unable to run, but rather half stumbled and half-ran to Naruto's side. As soon as she had seen Jiraiya kneeling, she felt icy claws of fear grip her heart, and she felt as if she was suddenly in a very bad dream. Tears gathered in her pupil-less lavender eyes, and she fell to her knees next to Naruto. Jiraiya looked up in surprise, and asked, "Hinata?"

Hinata nodded, unable to say a word as she stared in shock at Naruto's limp form. Jiraiya saw the tears roll down the Hyuuga Heiress' face, and murmured, "It'll be alright. Tsunade will be hear soon. He'll pull through. He's stubborn like that." He said, trying to sound as confident as he needed to be. Hinata didn't even acknowledge his words, as she stared at the blood that trickled down Naruto's pale skin.

Suddenly, in an explosion of smoke, Tsunade appeared with Shizune and Sakura. Sakura was older, her hair still cut short, but now she wore just the same old top and shorts, with a white over-skirt. Sakura, Tsunade, and Shizune immediately knelt by Naruto's side as Jiraiya filled them in. "Naruto and I were attacked by these two Akatsuki. They're dead now, but one of them managed to sink a kunai into Naruto's side."

Sakura grabbed Hinata by the shoulders gently, and Shizune and Tsunade immediately started healing Jutsus and placed their hands on Naruto's wound. Sakura hugged Hinata to her chest, both girls suddenly crushed. They had both been looking forward to this day. Hinata more so than Sakura…but they were both waiting for the blond to return, with great hopes on his return. But, Sakura just got the news that Naruto was in critical condition. Hinata was shaking, tears rolling down her face and landing on her lap. They both watched as Tsunade and Shizune kept their hands on Naruto's wound while their hands glowed green.

Jiraiya sat back, sighing and wiping his face off with his clean left hand. "Damn it." He hissed.

"What happened? How did this happen?" Tsunade barked, clearly angry, at Jiraiya over her shoulder.

"It happened on our way back. Akatsuki, over the past three years, have recruited branch members to their 'original nine' members. Each Original member has seven subordinates. These two belonged to Kisame. We took out four of them earlier. They each wear a ring on their left hands, which are replicas of their Superior's. I recognized Kisame's ring on each of their hands." Jiraiya explained, casting glares at the Akatsuki corpses around him.

"They knew that their time limit was up, their three years, and I guess they decided to stage the attack today. We were hit a few miles back, out of nowhere. These guys were good. Six of them versus two of us, and we managed to take out four before we fled. Naruto was wounded and shell-shocked after using a heavy-duty Jutsu I taught him. He shouldn't have used it…but he did and he paid the price. I half-dragged him off, and we were followed. These two got cocky and I killed them, but not before the bald one stabbed him." Jiraiya finished. Tsunade started to lecture.

"Damn it, Jiraiya! Isn't your spy network supposed to tell you when they're going to attack? You know, so that way you can be ready to protect Naruto when it happens? And you should have protected him more! You should know really well by now, especially after spending three years with him, how reckless he is! You should have—" She yelled, glaring at the Toad Sage. For once, he didn't shrink from her wrath, but exploded in anger at her.

"WHAT THE HELL DO YOU THINK I WAS DOING? I PROTECTED HIM AS BEST I COULD! I KNOW HIM BETTER THAN YOU EVER COULD, TSUNADE! SO DON'T YOU DARE QUESTION ME! YOU HAVE NO IDEA WHAT WE'VE EXPERIENCED TOGETHER THESE PAST FEW YEARS, HOW MANY TIMES BOTH OF US HAVE ALMOST DIED! DO YOU THINK I DON'T KNOW WHAT I SHOULD HAVE DONE? DO YOU THINK THAT I DON'T KNOW THAT MY NETWORK IS FOR TIPPING ME OFF SO I CAN PROTECT HIM? I DON'T KNOW WHY I DIDN'T GET A MESSAGE, BUT I SURE AS HELL AM NOT HAPPY ABOUT IT! DO YOU THINK I WANT HIM TO DIE?" Jiraiya yelled, getting to his feet and shouting down at Tsunade. Everyone stared at him in shock, and Tsunade's eyes were wide. She realized how badly he must be feeling, for him to be this serious and to explode. He had never before yelled at her like this, and she could see the anguish written all over his face. She let her frustration fade away, and looked up at Jiraiya with an apologetic look.

"Of course I don't think you want him to die. I'm sorry, Jiraiya…I'm just so…so…worried about him. I haven't seen him for three years, and here you go bringing the brat back on the verge of death." Tsunade murmured, still healing Naruto's wounds. Jiraiya sighed and ran a hand through his hair. He nodded, and shook his head.

"I know…I know." He murmured back, and contented himself to watch Tsunade and Shizune healing Naruto. He turned to Sakura and Hinata, a look of pity on his face. The two girls were just as panicked, if not even more so, than he was…and they were just holding each other tightly and crying and staring at the blond whom they cared so much for.

Suddenly, Jiraiya felt like the air was being sucked away from him in a vacuum, drawing towards Naruto. Everyone's hair and clothing whipped around wildly, and dust clouds rose up from the intense wind that drew towards Naruto. Then everything grew still and unnaturally silent, and Tsunade asked, "What the hell was that?"

Then, a shockwave erupted from Naruto's body, with a muffled 'foomp' sound, that nearly blew Jiraiya off his feet. At the moment of explosion, the invisible shockwave blew dirt out in a ring around them, and caused a large but shallow crater to form around them. Hinata, Sakura, and Shizune all yelled in surprise, and then the compressed energy that had been released…disappeared. Jiraiya breathed a sigh of relief, and then chuckled. So the brat was still kicking.

"Jiraiya…" Tsunade asked in a shaky voice. Her hands were drawn away from Naruto's body. "What in Kami's name was that?" She asked, and stood and turned to face the Toad Sannin.

"That, Tsunade…is a little trick I taught Naruto. It means that he was conscious enough to apply the move, and that now…everything is fine." Jiraiya laughed, earning a look of incredulity from Tsunade and Shizune. They seemed uncertain, and Jiraiya shook his head.

"I'm serious, Tsunade. He's fine now. He had me worried, because I figured he wasn't conscious enough to pull off the technique. But now…trust me when I say he'll come around in a few hours." Jiraiya reassured her, and Tsunade just shook her head in disbelief.

"Fine…I'll take him to the hospital, and we can wait for him to wake up there." Tsunade said. She was obviously a little doubtful, but she trusted Jiraiya enough and she was even relieved. Sakura stood, helping Hinata up as well, and they both looked down at the blond shinobi. He was still facing away from them, laying on his right side…but they both relished the sight of him. They were taking the older Ninja's word that he would be okay…and they gazed at Naruto with a look filled with hope.

Jiraiya smiled at the girls, and bent down to Naruto. He scooped the boy into his arms, and grunted. The boy wasn't exactly easy to carry around, he was actually quite heavy. Jiraiya straightened, and then started to walk towards the Main Gate. Tsunade, Shizune, Sakura, and Hinata followed him, silent. They had all just had quite a scare. But now…everything was fine, and their favorite knucklehead ninja was safe and he was back were he belonged. He was home.

The first thing that Naruto was aware of…was the smell of antiseptics and disinfectants. He immediately knew where he was. He mentally groaned. 'Aw crap. I hate the hospital.' The next thing he was aware of, were several distinct Chakra presences around him, and the sound of people talking softly. He immediately identified Jiraiya's deeper voice, and then Tsunade's softer voice. He smiled softly, and opened his eyes. His vision was immediately assaulted by bright white, from the room lights and the walls and ceiling. He winced, closing his eyes for a second. He opened them a crack, and allowed them to adjust for a few seconds before opening them again all the way. This time, he didn't wince.

He looked around, and saw that he was indeed in a hospital room, surrounded by monitors and equipment that were not in use, and ten or so feet from the foot of his bed…were a group of people sitting in chairs. Naruto, being propped up on pillows, didn't have to sit up to see what was going on around him. It was a good thing, because otherwise as soon as he sat up people would be all over him.

Naruto recognized Jiraiya to the far right, standing by the windows and murmuring to Tsunade. They both were facing the windows, not looking at Naruto. Naruto glanced out of the window, and was surprised that he got one of the rooms with a view to the Hokage Face Monument. He grinned as he saw that they had carved Tsunade's face upon the mountain, and he almost laughed. He had indeed been gone a long time if they had completed it when they hadn't even started it when he left. Shizune, Naruto noted, wasn't even in the room.

Sitting in the chairs at the foot of his bed, however, Naruto immediately noticed the pink-haired Kunoichi. Sakura had matured a lot, had grown curves and all, and Naruto was sure from the way she held herself more confidently…that she was a lot stronger. She was engaged in a quiet conversation with a girl who had long indigo hair, and who wore a white and blue hoody and a blue pair of pants. Sakura was on the right, and the other girl on the left, facing each other. Naruto did a double take.

'Hinata…' he thought, recognizing the Hyuuga girl, and he was surprised at how much she had grown up. He could only see her from the side, but he could tell that she had indeed grown up into an attractive woman. He could remember her being so shy, and timid…and quite frankly strange. He wondered, not for the first time, if the reason she fainted so much was because of a disease or mental condition…because that would explain her behavior. Suddenly, Hinata stopped in the middle of what she was saying, and stiffened. Sakura asked, "Hinata…what's wrong?"

Hinata's face became extremely red, and she turned her head to the right slowly. She turned to face Naruto, and his eyes immediately locked with hers. Naruto was surprised to notice that, when he had always thought her eyes were just white, her irises that lacked pupils were a beautiful pale lavender. They locked gazes for a moment, before Hinata let out a squeak of surprise, and fainted. She slumped back into her chair, and Sakura laughed. Jiraiya and Tsunade turned around, and saw Naruto awake…and Hinata passed out. Tsunade smiled, and Sakura giggled. "I'm sorry…I forgot how comical it can be to see Hinata faint around Naruto."

Naruto grinned. "Hey, Sakura-chan! You're all grown up!" He complimented, smiling. Sakura blushed, and bowed her head in embarrassment. "Thanks, Naruto. You've grown up quite a bit, too." She complimented back. Naruto looked down, and blushed as he realized that he had no shirt on. Tsunade and Jiraiya walked over to his bed, Jiraiya looking at him with a tough look on his face. Naruto wasn't fooled by it.

"Hey, Gaki…welcome back. Next time though, don't screw yourself over by using such a whopper of a Jutsu. You're lucky I had your back." Jiraiya scolded, and Naruto grinned. This was basically the closest thing to affection that Naruto had ever gotten from Jiraiya. He could tell that Jiraiya had been worried, and now he was extremely overjoyed to see Naruto awake.

Tsunade gave him a smile, and Naruto grinned back, "Hey, baa-chan!"

Tsunade's smile turned into a glare of anger, and Naruto earned himself a punch to the top of the head. Naruto cried out in pain, laughing at the same time, and fell back into his pillows. He clutched at the giant goose-egg on his head, and Tsunade growled at him, "Quite calling me that! I'm either 'Tsunade-sama' or 'Hokage-sama'!"

Naruto winced, gingerly sitting back up. "Yeah…sorry, Tsunade-baa-chan."

A vein throbbed on Tsunade's forehead, and she raised a fist to rid the earth of the nuisance named Naruto. Jiraiya grabbed her fist, holding her back and saying, "Now, now, Tsunade…he just got back from a three-year training trip! Don't make all that time I spent with him, giving up research, have been all for nothing."

Tsunade glared at Naruto. "You're lucky, brat." She hissed. Sakura finally stood and stepped away from her chair, and walked over to Naruto's bedside. She gave him a tearful smile, and wrapped him up in a hug.

"Welcome back, knucklehead." She whispered affectionately, and he closed his eyes and wrapped his arms around her. He had been only with Jiraiya the past few years, without his real friends…and here was the best welcome he could ever hope for.

Naruto's voice cracked as he whispered, "Sakura-chan…" and what was said between them was truly something marvelous. It was completely non-verbal…just communication from their looks that said everything they both knew. Sakura and Naruto shared a bond. Sasuke had been a brother to Naruto, as Sakura was like a sister. Sakura loved Naruto a lot, she had come to realize this over the years with him gone, but he was always like an annoying brother more than anything. She loved Sasuke in a different way than she loved Naruto, however. Naruto realized this, and he didn't bear Sasuke a grudge for it. It had always been meant to turn out like this, Naruto had come to terms with that long ago.

Hinata woke up from her fainting spell, sitting up in her chair and blinking in surprise. She hadn't meant to faint…she hadn't even fainted for years. It was so disorienting, and she was quite angry with herself. She had been so close to fighting it back…and then it won and she had fainted. She looked over at Naruto and Sakura, and watched with wide eyes as she saw Naruto and Sakura's faces inches from each other. There was something going on there, wordless communication and trust that was passing between them. Hinata felt her heart fall.

She should have known that Naruto would automatically go for Sakura. He had always gone for Sakura…always. He had promised to bring back Sasuke, for Sakura. He had done so many things for Sakura over the years, and Sakura just now must have realized this. She had never spoken of affection for Naruto to anyone, so Hinata had figured her oblivious to Naruto's sacrifices. However, here they were wrapped in a hug with their faces inches from each other. Hinata noticed how close their lips were…just an inch or two and their lips would be pressed together. Hinata felt tears well up, and she waited for their inevitable kiss. 'I should have known I never had a chance. I never had a hope to be with him.'

But, to her surprise, Sakura pulled away from the hug with a smile. Naruto smiled back, and then turned to Hinata. Surprise showed on his face. "Oh, Hinata! You're awake now!" He said, drawing everyone's attention back to Hinata. Hinata felt all the blood rush to her face, and she dropped her head and did her familiar fidget with her fingers. Hinata felt her heart beat a thousand miles an hour…and she felt as she had all those years ago before Naruto had left. She bit her lip, screwed up her courage, and then lifted her head. She met his gaze, feeling light-headed, and whispered, "Hello, Naruto-kun." Then…the light-headedness won over and she fainted again. Too much exposure to the boy far too soon.

Jiraiya looked at Hinata in disbelief, as did Tsunade, and Sakura laughed. "Oh, poor Hinata!" She giggled, but she did feel pity for the Hyuuga girl. The poor girl could hardly even stay conscious around Naruto long enough to tell him hello, let alone how she felt. Sakura went over to Hinata and knelt by her side, leaning her back gently in her chair so she wouldn't fall out of it. "It's been three years since I last saw her faint…I forgot how easily she could pass out." Sakura said, and she immediately clapped a hand over her mouth. She winced as she realized how much of a clue she had just dropped, and she sincerely hoped Naruto hadn't got it.

Unfortunately, Naruto wasn't much of a dunce anymore…and everything clicked into place. How she always blushed around him, fainted, stuttered, fidgeted, looked at him with a strangely excited look in her eyes, and why she had helped him with trying to find ways to track down and bring Sasuke back. Naruto's jaw fell open, and his eyes widened. He asked, "Sakura? What…what do you mean that she hasn't fainted in three years?"

Sakura didn't face Naruto, but winced and cursed her stupidity. She shouldn't have spoken her thought aloud. "Uh…it's exactly how it sounds?" She whispered, embarrassed and mortified that she had just dropped a bombshell.

Naruto turned to Tsunade, saw the look on her face that confirmed what he suspected, and then ran a hand through his unruly blond hair in shock. He had been ignorant of the facts of attraction between genders before he went training with his perverted Sensei Jiraiya, but now he understood.

"Wow…I guess I was an idiot for not realizing sooner." Naruto murmured, and Tsunade laughed softly. "Well, Naruto, it was kind of obvious."

Naruto nodded. "I didn't know anything about females or even the art of attraction before three years ago…and it never occurred to me how Hinata always seemed to faint around me. I just figured she did it all the time…"

Naruto was surprised when he heard a gasp. He whipped his head to the side, and smiled when he saw Hinata's beet red face. She was sitting straight up in her chair, and she was doing her familiar fidget. Naruto decided it would be best if he acted as if he didn't understand why she fainted…for now.

"Hey Hinata! I see you still have that fainting problem." He said, grinning. Sakura got up and stood by Hinata's side, trying her best to look like she hadn't just revealed everything to Naruto.

Hinata seemed to shake, and she was able to give a small smile. "Y-y-you've g-grown up, N-Naruto-kun." She said, doing her signature stutter.

He smiled. "Yep." The next phrase flew out his mouth without him even thinking about it. "You've grown up too, Hinata. I really liked you with short hair, but I guess I'll just have to get used to your long hair…but you're still even prettier than before."

There were gasps all around the room, and it was Naruto's turn to have his face turn beet red. Hinata immediately fainted once more, slumping into her chair. Sakura giggled hysterically, while Jiraiya chuckled softly, and Tsunade even laughed. Naruto said, "Oops."

This just caused them all to laugh even more, and Tsunade had to wipe tears away from her eyes. Hinata started to stir again, and everyone forced themselves to stop laughing. Hinata blinked and sat straight up again, and looked at Naruto. He smiled at her, his face still red from embarrassment. Hinata remembered what he had said a few moments earlier, and blushed a crimson red. "T-t-thank you, N-Naruto-kun." She stuttered, and Naruto nodded, trying to keep his mouth shut so he wouldn't say anything stupid again.

Tsunade shook her head, still smiling at the two teenagers. This would definitely be interesting to see how everything played out. "Well, Sakura…please go get Shizune. I'd like her to fetch someone for me." Tsunade said, turning to her apprentice.

"Yes, Tsunade-sama." Sakura said, and went to the door. When she opened it, she gasped in surprise, and then laughed. Shizune walked into the room, carrying a clipboard. Shizune glanced around the room, smiling brightly when she realized Naruto was awake.

"Ah! Naruto!" She exclaimed, and Naruto grinned. "Shizune-nii-chan! He called back, and she walked over to him and ruffled his hair affectionately.

"I'm glad you're back, and obviously doing better than when we first saw you…" Shizune said, and Naruto nodded. He laughed briefly. "Yeah, me too." He replied, and Shizune gave him a kind smile.

"Shizune…I need you to fetch Kakashi." Tsunade said, interrupting any further conversation Shizune might have engaged in. Shizune gave her a questioning look, but obeyed. She walked back out the door, and Sakura and Naruto both asked at the same time, "Why do you want Kakashi-sensei?"

Tsunade smirked. "Well, I need to have you three tested in combat against an opponent." She replied casually, and Naruto and Sakura froze. "Wait a minute…three?" Sakura asked, and Tsunade nodded.

"Yes. You, Naruto, and Hinata. While both you and Hinata are Chunin, neither of you have been on a mission in a while due to other duties. You need to sharpen your combat skills once more, and Naruto needs to get used to working in a team again. He's been out of practice for three years…just teaming up with the perv." Tsunade said, jerking her thumb at Jiraiya. Jiraiya moaned. "Aw, Tsunade, that hurts."

"Shut it." She growled, and she turned to Hinata. "You, Sakura, and Naruto are hereby assigned a 'C' rank training mission with Kakashi Hatake. He will assess your skills, and you are to hold nothing back. Show us how much you've improved over the years." She said, addressing the Hyuuga, and Naruto. Sakura grinned, knowing full well she would be fine. She had been trained by Tsunade herself, after all.

Suddenly, the door swung open once more, and Naruto cried out, "Kakashi-sensei!"

Striding through the doorway, his silver hair standing up and leaning to the left, seemingly defying gravity…was Kakashi Hatake. He grinned from behind his face-mask and slanted headband. "Oi, Naruto." He said, raising a hand in greeting.

"Kakashi…these three are your assignment. Shizune briefed you?" Tsunade asked, and Kakashi nodded. "Yes. She explained everything." He replied, and inclined his head respectfully to Tsunade.

"Well, now that you four know what you're supposed to do…we can discharge Naruto and you can go on to the training grounds." Tsunade said, and Naruto threw aside the hospital covers and jumped out of bed. He landed gently on his bare feet, and then he blushed as he realized he was only in his bright orange boxers. He jumped back into bed with a strangled cry, and threw the covers back over his lower torso. Hinata's eyes were wide and her face a dark red, Sakura was blushing, and the adults were laughing.

"It's NOT funny!" Naruto yelled, exasperated. "Who removed my clothes and where the hell are they?"

Jiraiya laughed. "Well, she was a young nurse. Your age, I think…and she had bright pink hair, green eyes…and a temper like Tsunade's." Naruto and Sakura both blushed a dark red, and Hinata fainted clean away as Jiraiya laughed raucously. Jiraiya reached to a chair next to him, and tossed Naruto a set of clothing. "This is the new clothing you bought. You said you were waiting for your other set to get torn up, so I guess now you get to wear this." Jiraiya said, and Naruto glared at the clothing as it landed in his lap.

"That's only because I didn't want to wear it. There's hardly any orange on it!" Naruto yelled indignantly, and Jiraiya laughed. "That's the point, Gaki."

Naruto threw a dirty look at the man, and Jiraiya shook his head. "All right, we'll wait for you out in the hall." Jiraiya chuckled, and ushered Tsunade, Sakura, Shizune, Kakashi, and Hinata out of the room. When the door closed, Naruto threw back the covers of his bed. He hastily threw on his clothes, eyeing them with disgust. Jiraiya had made him pick out a pair of clothing that wasn't orange. It was mandatory…or he wouldn't train Naruto in a Jutsu.

Naruto threw on the pair of black pants that stopped right at his ankles, and fastened the brown belt around his waist. He fastened the belt, buckling the square silver buckle, and hissed in distaste. He quickly wrapped the bandages around his right thigh, and then attached his kunai holster. He attached his tan pouch to the back of his belt quickly, and then put on his black tee shirt, tucking it in his pants. He glared at the remaining pieces of clothing, and decided to put on his favorite article of clothing. He put his black headband on his forehead, pushing his unruly blond hair out of the way and then tying it into a knot. He debated burning the last article of clothing…but sighed. He had spent money on it and he wasn't going to waste it, even if Jiraiya had forced him to buy it. He donned the jacket, and shivered. He slipped on his black ninja sandal boots, and turned to the door. He walked over to it, turned the doorknob…and exited the room. Sakura, Hinata, Tsunade, Shizune, and Kakashi eyed Naruto in surprise, while Jiraiya nodded in satisfaction.

Kakashi noted that Naruto wore a jacket that was scarily similar to his old team-mate, Obito's, jacket. It had an orange collar, orange cuffs, and orange trim around the front and down the bottom and back. Naruto turned in a circle, holding his arms away from his sides so that they could see the entire jacket. Instead of an Uchiha fan, like Kakashi half-expected, there was an orange swirl mark on the back of the jacket. Kakashi grinned behind his mask. Naruto had at least made the jacket orange as much as he could, and added his own touch. "Looking sharp, Naruto." Kakashi complimented, and watched the blonde's grimace turn into a grin.

"Really? I didn't think it had enough orange…" Naruto murmured, stopping his turn once he faced them again. He looked down at his clothing, and shrugged.

"See, told you it would look fine." Jiraiya boasted, and Tsunade appreciatively eyed the clothing. She nodded in agreement with Jiraiya.

"You look much better in this than the jumpsuit, Naruto." Sakura agreed, and Naruto looked slightly crestfallen. He had really loved his jumpsuits. Hinata giggled, drawing everyone's attention.

"Don't tell me you're going to cry over the loss, Naruto-kun?" Hinata giggled, surprising everyone. Naruto protested defensively. "Hey! Those jumpsuits lasted me a while and they were tough-looking! They were with me through a lot!"

Everyone laughed, earning a glare from Naruto. "Laugh all you want, but those jumpsuits made me stand out!" He growled. Jiraiya shook his head. "You're a real baka sometimes, boy. A ninja isn't supposed to stand out!" He half-yelled.

"Well I want people to recognize me, and that's the easiest way!" Naruto yelled back. Sakura, Hinata, Shizune, Tsunade, and Kakashi watched with amusement as Naruto and Jiraiya tried to yell over each other, until finally they both turned their backs on each other, huffing in anger.

"All right, that's enough. Naruto, go with Kakashi. Same with you, Hinata and Sakura…you three need to get assessed." Tsunade ordered, and everyone nodded in agreement.

Kakashi started to walk down the hallway, and the three teenage shinobi followed in his wake. Tsunade, Jiraiya, and Shizune stood there watching them go. "At least you've gotten him out of that ridiculous jumpsuit." Tsunade commented.

Jiraiya nodded. "You have no idea how hard that was. I had to beat him pretty badly…those jumpsuits are pretty resilient." He said, earning a look of disbelief from Tsunade.

"Oh don't worry, it was just during training." Jiraiya quickly explained, soothing Tsunade's temper before it earned him a whack to the head.

They stood in silence, until the shinobi disappeared. Tsunade took a deep breath. "Jiraiya…I need to know…have you told him yet?" She asked, not turning to look at him. Shizune cast a questioning glance at the Hokage, and then at Jiraiya.

Jiraiya regarded Tsunade carefully, and then crossed his arms over his chest and leaned against the white wall. He sighed. "No. I haven't…and I don't think we should just yet."

"Why not? He's lived without this knowledge all of his life! He's old enough to handle it and deal with it responsibly!" Tsunade yelled, but Jiraiya shook his head.

"No…Tsunade, you haven't been with him as long as I have. I've seen every side of him. The sad, the depressed, the downcast, the faithless…and the angry side of him. I've seen it all. Naruto has mixed feelings about Minato. He respects him, seeing as he is the man who saved Konoha and gave his life for the village. He sees Minato as a hero…but he hates Minato at the same time. He knows that if it hadn't been for Minato…he would have parents. He wouldn't have the Kyuubi inside of him, and he wouldn't have had to leave his friends for these past three years. Naruto is confused about Minato. He sees him as a hero, yet as someone who he can't forgive. He wouldn't wish his burden on anyone else, of course, but he wishes it had never been his to begin with. Having the Kyuubi inside of him, being the target of the Akatsuki all these years…he's fed up with it. He just wouldn't be able to reconcile with the information, Tsunade." Jiraiya stated emotionlessly.

Tsunade sighed. "Maybe knowing it would help…Jiraiya. He has a good heart…he surely wouldn't begrudge Minato for doing it if he knew the whole story."

Jiraiya shrugged. "It's not my problem, anymore Tsunade. You can tell him if you wish. I just can't bring myself to tell him…I'm afraid it would break him." Jiraiya admitted heavily, and got off the wall.

"Let's go watch their assessment. I'd like to see how Naruto handles this." Jiraiya said. Tsunade nodded, as did Shizune, and wordlessly followed Jiraiya down the halls to go to the training fields. Maybe…if she thought Naruto had indeed matured…she would tell him.


Okay, this is chapter 1 of The Pale Moon's Love! I realize, that I have hospital scenes in this first chapter, and in 'Lost in the Green Seas'. Lol. Sorry about that. Lemme know what you think of it!!

Now…I know all of you guys are thinking: 'Oh man…he's gonna do the whole 'Shippuuden' thing again, with the Training scene and everything…'

WELL! I have a surprise for you. As you can tell from me fiddling with the Akatsuki so far…this will follow the Shippuuden storyline VERY loosely. Hardly at all, in fact. So…I'm not going to stick with even the training scene! HAHAHA! Unless, that is, you guys want to see how Naruto and Sakura and Hinata all interact for the first time as a squad…which I myself would love to write. Just let me know…and I might write the training scene. Though, I might not regardless of reviews!