Disclaimer: I do not own the copyrights to Naruto or any other songs or other character references made in this story.

© Naruto – Masashi Kishimoto

Naruto: Three Hearts. One Love

Chapter 1: The Mission

It was the time of summer in the Country of Fire; the sun came up over the forest outside the Hidden Village of Konoha, bringing the warmth of the coming day across all the surfaces that the light touched.

The rays of the sun came through the window of Naruto Uzamaki's apartment. Since his bed was up against the window, he could feel the warmth of the sun against the sheets of his bed. It started at his feet, worked up his legs, and eventually the young ninja began to stir and sit up. He was wearing his light blue pajamas and that same silly black and white cap that had the look of an animal that looked like it was sinking its teeth into his head. Naruto rubbed his eyes to get the sand out and he yawned, but when he closed his mouth he could feel the rotten feeling in his breath, teeth, and tongue.

Getting up from his bed sluggishly he went to the bathroom to do his daily routines; shower, brush his teeth, and then have a little breakfast. Though, to Naruto Uzamaki, breakfast usually meant a little Instant Ramen and milk, but living alone like he did he didn't quite know the joys of a home cooked meal like so many other children and teenagers in Kohona took for granted.

After having his small breakfast, he got dressed in his usual orange and black clothes and headed out rather lazily into the village. There really wasn't that much to do anyway since pretty much everyone that Naruto wanted to do anything with was gone. The one that Naruto wanted to be with the most was his master, the Frog Hermit Jiraya whom Naruto had nicknamed "Ero-Senin" (Pervert Hermit). He was the one who would teach Naruto some of the greatest techniques that no one else in the whole village would know, but unfortunately the Pervert Hermit was always away from the village. That, more than anything, just irritated the living piss out of Naruto, even thinking about it made him grind his teeth in anger and frustration.

Walking rather casually with his hands behind his head and his elbows out as if he were lying on the grass, Naruto wandered through the streets of Konoha. Even his mind wandered on different thoughts, such as the thought of his missing friend. The one who had abandoned Kohona for his own selfish reasons, Sasuke Uchia. Although, there was something else that was bothering Naruto, it never occurred to him until that moment of his casual walking.

It was the memory of the girl that he had loved named Sakura Haruno, she whom Naruto had tried so very hard to gain her esteem and hopefully return of her affections. Unfortunately, she loved another, that other was Sasuke. The thing that really started to twist Naruto was what had happened after Sasuke had abandoned the village. Sakura had come to Naruto just as he was about to head out after him in a small five-man team. She was in tears about what had happened but she begged Naruto to bring Sasuke back.

As he thought about it, he started to wonder if Sakura wanted Sasuke back because the three of them were on the same team, or was it because she was in love with him? It was far more likely that she wanted this request of Naruto because she was in love with him. Yet, like the nice guy that he was, Naruto smiled, gave a thumb up, and promised to Sakura that he would bring Sasuke back.

Just then Naruto had a feeling in him that could only be like heartburn. That flaming sensation that rose in his stomach, through his throat, and into his mouth, and with each inch that it went up it singed into his inner tissues. The Bitch loved him more than me.

Even though Sakura had become more mature in recent times, it still burned Naruto that she did that to him. That she came to him and expected him to be the nice guy that all women always turned down in favor of a total asshole of a guy who'll treat her like shit.

His fingers began to dig into the back of his head as his teeth began to grind, grind, and grind. If he had gone any deeper he would have drawn blood from the back of his own head, but the one thing that stopped him was a voice in the present. It called out to him.

"Naruto!"

Stopping in his tracks, he turned to where the voice was coming from and there he saw the same pink-haired girl that he was thinking about and was making him grind his teeth; Sakura Haruno. She was like a scratch in the roof of Naruto's mouth that would heal if he left it alone but he couldn't, but still he smiled as he looked at her because any attention from the girl that he felt anything for was enough to fill him with hope.

"Sakura-chan." He smiled

Sakura stopped and spoke to him, "Glad I found you, Tsunade-sama wants to speak with us about a mission."

"You and me?" Naruto asked curiously.

"And one other." Sakura answered, "She's already on her way. Come on; let's not keep the Hokage waiting."

* * *

Arriving in the Hokage's office, Naruto and Sakura were met by the familiar faces of Hinata Hyuga who stood before the Hokage's desk, Tsunade's subordinate; Shizune who stood beside the Fifth Hokage herself. Sitting at the desk, she was pouring through scrolls and different papers that talked about the goings on within the village as well as requests from clients for missions. She looked up from her work at the arrivals with her aged golden eyes that were framed in her rather young looking face.

"Ah, Naruto and Sakura, please come in." She instructed as her gaze went back down to her papers.

"What'd you want to see us about, Granny-Tsunade?" Naruto asked casually bringing his hands behind his head.

Tsunade winced at that inane nickname that Naruto had come up for her, but keeping her composure together, she set down her papers and scrolls and began to instruct.

"Naruto Uzamaki, Sakura Haruno, and Hinata Hyuga." Tsuande began, "I have a mission for you three. In the capital city of the Country of Fire, Central, northeast of Kohona, there have been several attacks by a radical group calling themselves The Flaming Sword."

"A terrorist group?" Sakura asked.

"It's safe to say that," Tsunade said as she propped up her arms and hands into a bridge and rested her face against it. "According to the intelligence of both Konoha and Central, this group intends to attack several targets over the next month, but there is no indication of what time or what the other targets are. What we're sure of is that their target is the city hospital."

"Attacking a hospital?" Hinata asked in her mousy voice, "…how horrible."

"Damn right." Naruto grunted as he clenched his fist.

"I'm glad to see that you're in agreement. You're mission is to go to Central and try to prevent these terrorists from carrying out the attack. Also, if it is possible, try to find out their other targets."

"You can count on us." Sakura smiled, "But who will be the leader?"

"Actually," Tsunade said as she leaned back in her chair, "I decided that Sakura should be the leader of the group, since she's the most level headed."

"What's that supposed to mean?" Naruto snapped at the Hokage.

"It means," Tsunade stated bluntly, "That you, Naruto, don't possess the skills or attitudes needed to be the leader of the team."

Naruto's face scrunched as he pouted over the fact that Sakura was made into the team leader.

"When do we head out?" Sakura asked.

"Right away" Tsunade answered, "Good luck to you three."

* * *

Taking the road out of the village, Sakura Haruno, Naruto Uzamaki, and Hinata Hyuga went on their way to the place of their mission. Although Sakura and Hinata had taken the usual attitude towards the mission, Naruto was still stewing about how Sakura was made into the leader. It could be seen in the way his face was scrunched and how he gripped the straps of his backpack as if he were strangling someone's neck. There was also the way that he took his steps, in fact it seemed like he was stomping with the way that his feet came down on the dirt road.

It was about after forty-five minutes after taking this, Sakura had to say something.

"Stop sulking, Naruto." She ordered, but then tried to cheer him up by saying "Being the leader isn't all that great."

"Yeah…sure" Naruto said grumbling out his sentence still grinding his teeth, stomping his feet, and strangling his backpack straps.

Seeing that Naruto wasn't the easiest person to cheer up with simple words and so another method of attack was needed for his sulking.

"Hey lets stop for a little lunch" she suggested.

Naruto smiled a little bit as he stopped in the dirt path and the others settled on a small path of grass under the shade of a great tree. Looking up at the clear blue sky it was easy to see that it was going to be a very warm day. Naruto took out his small canteen to take a small drink of water.

Hinata on the other hand reached into her pack and took out a small bento box that had pickled rice balls in it. Pulling them out carefully with both hands she handed one to Sakura and then finally to Naruto.

"F-f-f…for you, Naruto" she said handing a rice ball to him.

Taking it with a single hand, Naruto took a look at the small snack and saw that there was something very odd about it. Unlike a regular rice ball that was just round and white, this one had yellow triangular slices sticking out the top and small pieces cut very intricately to make eyes, mouth, and most of all marks that looked like whiskers. It was then that it occurred to Naruto that Hinata had made a rice ball that looked like his own face. He had seen something like this before when he, Hinata, and Kiba were on a mission and she had done the same thing. He looked back at Hinata who was blushing, twiddling with her fingers, and looking down at the ground.

"I…I made…it for you." She said to Naruto.

Sakura came closer to Naruto to look at the confection that Hinata had created. At first she was put off by what she had seen, but at the same time she was amazed by the amount of detail that this girl had put into such a relatively simple food item. Still, the fact that the rice ball had the look of Naruto's face wasn't exactly something that Sakura could stomach.

Taking a bite of the rice ball, Naruto took in the deliciousness of it.

"Now that's tasty" Naruto smiled, "You really will make a wonderful housewife, Hinata."

Hinata smiled once again as the three ninja ate the small lunch and enjoyed the afternoon sun, but there was no time to enjoy things for too long, there was a mission that needed to be done.

To Be Continued…