Okay, I decided to make this fic because I couldn't find this type of scenario on the site's search engines and didn't feel like scrolling through a thousand some communities just to look for it. Although, I probably should expand my community subscriber's list someday…

AND I realized that, surprisingly, of all the Naruto stories I have posted up right now, NONE of them actual take place in the original ninja world of Naruto, which is such a shock considering the fact that I love Naruto's world and the customs and mannerisms of it fascinate me, being the fantasy lover that I am.

So anyway, I decided to make this my first ninja-world Naruto fic that is. Also, I've wanted to try writing a SasuxHinaxIta love triangle for some while, but am just now getting around to it, so yeah… Ah well, enough about that, on with the actual story!

I don't own Naruto, otherwise, I'd have been liven' it up right about now… *sigh* If only…

THIS CHAPTER HAS NOW BEEN RE-EDITED/REVISED! (I really just fixed some of the typos I didn't catch before. No real plot changes in this one...)

Summary: At fifteen years old, Hyuga Hinata became the third and final apprentice of the world-renowed drunkard, medic, and slug sanin, (not to mention possibly the world's worst gambler ever) the Fifth Hokage. Now seven years later at age twenty-two, she's still miles behind her two predecessors, Sakura and Shizune, both in medical and ninja skills, and it seems almost impossible for her to ever catch up. But she never imagines she'd have to play nurse to the two Uchiha brothers in order to officially graduate and finish off her medical training. What's worse, a recent overflow at the hospital means there are no more rooms available for them to stay there, and Hinata must move into the old Uchiha compounds for the duration of her time serving them! Meanwhile, she's expected to keep up with her duties at the hospital and formal ninja training, all while preparing to become the next ruler of her clan...

What's a sweet, young girl to do when she's stuck babysitting not one Uchiha, but two?

Chapter One:

The Trainee's Final Task...

The proud and prestigious Godaime Hokage, Tsunade, also one of the three legendary sanin, sat in her office guzzling down a large bottle of sake at an alarming rate. She knew she really shouldn't be drinking during daylight hours, or at all, really, especially since she had stacks of paperwork to do and she'd promised her faithful assistant, Shizune, she'd try to cut back on her alcohol intake. But she felt she deserved it. After all, she'd sent the knuckle-headed Naruto's team on a retrieval mission almost a month ago and she hadn't heard from them in a week or so. Of course she'd begun to get worried!

Despite the way she might pretend to find Naruto intolerable and obnoxious in public, she held a special fondness in her heart for the blonde, that although she might not always openly express, she knew she couldn't ever deny deep down. He was like a brother to her, or perhaps the son she never had.

And along with Naruto, Sakura had also gone on the mission. The Hokage and the pink-haired medic had grown undeniably close over the years she'd spent training the girl. They definitely had a sort of mother-daughter bond, especially since the girl's real parents had died during an S-ranked mission a little over a year into her training. They were both Anbu operatives, and two of the best in the division at that, but they still hadn't been good enough to beat their opponent, who was a special spy hired by Orochimaru to gather information on Konoha's whereabouts and take down anyone who stood in the way.

Unfortunately for the Haruno couple, it had been them who had crossed paths with the intruder as he attempted to cross over Konoha's borderlines while on their way back from a long mission. They'd decided to take a short cut in an attempt to be home for Sakura's fourteenth birthday and surprise her by being there when she woke up.

Sakura had taken the loss pretty hard, and the sting went even deeper when she remembered how she use to tease Naruto and look down on him for not having any parents around to scold him and teach him right from wrong. But her pain had gradually helped her to become stronger, as she had used it as a driving force to push herself and work hard both at the hospital and during training. It paid off, for now she had surpassed even her mistress, the great slug sanin Tsunade, but that still didn't stop the woman from worrying about her apprentice, Naruto, and the rest of the team.

On top of that there'd been an overflow of patients at the hospital lately, and her staff hadn't been able to deal with all the victims' injuries, so she'd had to go down and help out with some of the more severely wounded cases. Therefore, her attention was ultimately divided between fulfilling her primary duties as Hokage, worrying over whether or not Naruto's team was okay and when they'd be back, as well as dealing with the responsibility that came with being a highly-skilled healer. She'd had her hands full for a while now, and the stress was beginning to get to her. She felt that if she didn't do something to relieve some of the pressure, she would surely crack underneath all the weight.

So she went into her secret stash for the first time in nearly two weeks to have a nice, relaxing drink. Maybe it was a little irresponsible to be drinking heavy liquor at a time like this, when so many different things demanded her attention, and the village could be attacked at any time. Then there'd be a need for her leadership and judgment skills, as people would look to her for her wisdom and guidance. But that thought soon fell to the wayside with each mouthful of liquor she swallowed, and by the time her tongue had become immune to the bitter taste, and her throat and nostrils no longer burned from the sheer potency of the alcohol, her troubles and worries had already begun to wash themselves away as they mingled with the temporary, euphoria-inducing alcohol.

Although somewhere in the back of her mind she knew that her problems wouldn't stay gone for long and would soon return along with a huge headache from the hangover that was sure to follow, she chose to ignore it as at least for right now, with the alcohol settling comfortably into her system, such a time seemed to be millions of miles away, when in reality, they were just as tangible as the inevitable danger and shock looming ominously like a dark crimson cloud over the horizon…

Hinata stood stooping over her young patient, her brow furrowed and her pale eyes narrowed into total concentration as she continued to stitch up the genin's side, slowly and carefully threading the needle in and out of the tender flesh as the boy squirmed and flinched every now and again, biting his lip to stifle the groans of pain that threatened to escape his mouth as he tried to be brave for his teammates who looked on from the side with wide, anxious eyes filled with compassion and worry for their friend and comrade.

Though she was using feather-soft touches as she sewed up the boy's side and mended his wound as gently as possible, the fact that it would still hurt was inevitable, as the gash ran straight from his upper chest to the start of his waistline.

Hinata knew she had to be careful with her needlework, and was thankful her hands had grown steady and still with patience and plenty of practice over the years. She didn't want to do a sloppy job and have the cut leave a bad scar once the stitches were removed. They were still young, and although the missions would only get even tougher with time as they got older, she wanted to at least try and spare him some pain for now, as the whole procedure and the path to being a shinobi was already agonizing enough without adding a nasty looking scar to the mix.

She knew that the process would go much quicker and be a lot less painful for her poor patient and his teammates if she could just heal him with a jutsu instead of having to do it manually, but Tsunade had refused to teach her any special healing techniques or allow her to help out with the more complicated and advanced procedures until she finished her apprenticeship and became an official member of the hospital's specially trained medic ninja staff.

She'd come to her nearly seven years ago, begging the woman to take her on as her pupil, saying that she didn't want to cause suffering without trying to do anything to help ease it.

And although Tsunade had initially been reluctant to take on yet another student after already having successfully trained two and beginning to pass the prime of her medical career, as her younger student Haruno Sakura, Hinata's own friend and fellow kunoichi, had said to have already surpassed her mentor's level of skill after just two and a half years of heavy tutelage, Hinata had somehow managed to convince her (with the help of a sad, crestfallen look and a disappointed pout that made her look like a sad little puppy that had just been abandoned) to agree to her request.

Secretly, she had even hoped to impress Naruto by becoming an even better medic nin than his beloved teammate and love interest currently was, although she knew deep down that for her, that would be next to impossible.

But being a member of the noble Hyuga clan, one of the most powerful clans in Konoha and one of the most highly revered ninja families in the entire world, along with possessing the infamous Byakugan 'All-Seeing Eye', a trait exclusive only to Hyuga, she of course had a vast amount of knowledge about the doujutsu and how it worked.

Hinata hoped to apply her knowledge of the human anatomy and the many chakra points it contained to her medical studies, wanting to prevent as much of her patient's pain as possible.

And now that she had studied and reviewed the basics for quite some time, she felt she was finally ready to take her training to the next level and become a full-fledged medical kunoichi. Tsunade also agreed that she had been working very hard and putting in a great deal of time and effort to achieve her goal and though that she'd be ready to take on the final exam very soon, although she still hadn't told her exactly when or given her much information beyond that.

It was all a part of her training as a field ninja, away of keeping her sharp so she didn't fall back on her regular training or forget the ways of the traditional shinobi just because she had a new avocation she was currently striving for. A ninja must always be prepared for anything and learn to expect the unexpected. In this case, Hinata had to remain active in working to further herself in both her chosen career paths if she wanted to remain keen and equally sharp in both areas of expertise.

She finally finished fixing up the injured young boy and allowed him to sit up and put the remains of his tattered shirt back on as she jotted down some notes on a clipboard and filled out some paperwork that would go on the charts and into his hospital records.

Apparently, his team had been sent on a small D-ranked mission to catch a runaway cat, and when they had finally found him, the poor boy had been unlucky enough to catch the unsuspecting feline by his tail and received a rather nasty slashing as a result. It had taken the rest of the team quite a while to get the angry animal off him, hence, the unusually deep scratches that littered his upper torso and lower abdomen.

"Okay, you're all done. You may go and resume training with your team now, but try not to push yourself too hard. That stitch work will only hold as long as you let yourself get plenty of rest and give your body time to recuperate, understood?" she asked gently yet firmly, turning to the young genin and looking him straight in the eyes as she briefly lectured him about how to keep his wound from opening up, getting infected, etc.

"Hai!" he responded cheerfully, vigorously nodding his spiky brunette head and grinning in a way that reminded her of her childhood crush and, now, unrequited love interest.

'Oh Naruto, I wonder how you and the others are doing now… It seems like it's been so long since I last saw you… I hope you haven't run into any trouble and everything's still okay.' she thought nervously, growing anxious at the thought of any harm befalling the knuckle-headed, hyperactive, ramen-loving ninja and his team.

"Good-bye, and thanks again for all your help, Miss!" said the young kunoichi of the team, smiling up at her gratefully and bowing down respectfully.

Hinata gave a small smile in return. "Oh, you're welcome, but it's nothing really. My job is to help and serve the civilians and shinobi of this village in any way I can, and I'm glad to be able to do so," she explained sheepishly.

"Wow! You sound really devoted to your work! I think from now on, I'm going to try to train hard so I can become more like you! A kunoichi is still a shinobi, which is ultimately a weapon to be used however their homeland sees fit, or at least that's what sensei says… But who says we can't be graceful and charming, too? I want to be beautiful, but strong in my own way, not rough and repulsive," said the bright-eyed kunoichi.

Hinata beamed at the young girl. No one had ever looked up to her before and she found it very flattering. Plus, it seemed already at such a young age she understood what it meant to follow your own special nindo to make your way down the path toward being a true ninja. She imagined her teammates were the same, as she saw them nodding their agreement, and then one of them, who seemed to be the unofficial, unspoken leader of the three, came up from behind to ruffle her hair, making her flush bright red and smile giddily.

"C'mon guys, let's go. Satoru-sensei told us to find him and report back as soon as here finished getting fixed up," he said coolly, making a nodding motion toward the lively looking brunette boy still sitting on the bed and swinging his legs before casting Hinata a curt, courteous nod. It was obvious he wasn't the type to waste breath with a whole lot of talking and never said anymore than necessary. It reminded her so much of her own teammate, Shino, the ever quiet bug-nin.

Now it was the female member of the trio's turn to respond eagerly as she nodded her head ecstatically in agreement. "Hai! Great idea, Ryouke-kun!" It would appear the redheaded kunoichi had a bit of a crush on her raven-haired teammate; either that or she was a total people-pleaser. Although Hinata would modestly say that she knew a thing or two about those, seeing as she used to be one (and still was to an extent), and this girl seemed a little too feisty, outspoken and independent for that.

So it was probably the former choice, and from what she gathered, the object of her affections was either much more clueless and dimwitted then he first appeared, or not at all interested, and highly skilled at ignoring her attempts to draw his attention. She felt somewhat sorry for the girl, having some first-hand experience in that department as well. But just like she'd been raised and taught since early infancy, Hinata resigned herself to silently observing and making mental notes of the things that occurred around her.

She watched as the trio made for the door, huddled together side-by-side with the brown-haired boy walking in the middle and his arms slung around either one of his friends' shoulders. Then, just as they'd reached the door, the spirited boy broke away from their supporting grasps, turning around and heading back to Hinata, limping slightly but determinedly. The girl shot him an annoyed look, while Ryouke just rolled his eyes and sighed, but continued to wait patiently all the same.

"Hey, uh, I was wondering, and I realized I forgot to ask, but… what's your name, neechan?" asked Genji, smiling sheepishly with a slight flush tinting his cheeks.

Hinata smiled down at him kindly and replied in a sweet, gentle tone, "Hinata, it's Hyuga Hinata."

"That's a really nice name. I'm Genji Ittoki, in case you didn't know. And those two over there are my teammates, Ryouke-teme, and Yuina-chan." he said, pointing to each of his two teammates.

He motioned for Hinata to come closer and cupped his hand around his mouth as if about to tell her life's secret. She musingly knelt closer to listen. "Don't let her sweet act fool you, though; she's super tough and almost boyishly brutal, sometimes-especially when it comes to training. She's got a mean right hook and a killer roundhouse kick. She's just acting coy to impress you and Ryo-teme over there," Genji explained in a voice that was barely what would be considered quiet.

From behind him, the livid Yuniko was seething in undisguised anger and embarrassment. "Genji… …you baka! I'm standing right here, you know; I can still here you!" And with that, she proceeded to bonk the loudmouthed boy over the head, succeeding in leaving a fist-sized mark that was sure to swell up and would definitely leave a big bruise.

"Ow!" Genji cried. "See! This is exactly what I'm talking about Yuina-chan! Do you always have to be so damn rough and boyish! You hit harder than some of the dudes I know, and that's saying something!" He continued to whimper pitifully.

This statement only seemed to anger Yuniko even more, as she fumed so much her face became as red as her dark, crimson hair and steam could practically be seem coming out of her nose and ears as she tossed her head and snorted, sending her long, black-tipped braid flying around like a whip, and making her seem like a very fired-up bull.

"You baka, you know all the same 'dudes' I do," she said with a low, exasperated growl.

Deciding it was best he seized control of the situation; their older, calmer teammate firmly grabbed a hold of both the girl's arms to keep her from lashing out at the foolish brunette in rage, also succeeding in calming her down at the feel of his stern, reprimanding grip, if only a little.

"Enough fooling around, I think it's time we said our goodbyes and headed to the meeting spot." Ryouke stated in the solid, commanding voice of a leader that held the undertone of 'I dare anyone to challenge my authority' behind the calm, composed, smoothly spoken words. Hinata would recognize it anywhere. After all, she heard her father and older cousin Neji use it often enough.

Hinata simply stood back, watching the dynamics of the team before her play out, marveling at how such obviously diverse people could come together to make one whole, functioning unit. It was a question that had often resounded endlessly in her mind ever since she'd first been placed on a three-man cell with Kiba and Shino many years ago after graduating the academy.

But the thought seemed to stand out the most whenever she was watching her beloved crush Naruto and his teammates interact. Now that was truly a sight to behold... A fine example of how three very different people could somehow overcome the odds and get along, balancing each other out in a complimentary cycle of equilibrium. She found it to be extremely inspirational. But then again, anything involving Naruto seemed to fit the category of remarkable, amazing, unique, extraordinary, or just plain odd, if nothing else.

She watched and waved as the small squad finally left, Yuniko sadly saying goodbye and looking like a downtrodden puppy as she slowly followed her teammates out the door, lingering just within the pale-eyed women's sights outside the doorway with the same pitiful, pouty-faced look for dramatic effect. Hinata, completely buying in to the girl's gloomy act, quickly crumbled, not that she had been building up much of a resistance to begin with.

"Uh, Yuina-chan…" she called out, and instantly, the girl turned to look at her with large, watery amber eyes, only enhancing the whole sad effect. "I'm usually pretty busy, and I may not always be available, but, if you want, you can come and visit me whenever you like… um, that is as long as you have permission from your sensei first and y-you try not t-to cause t-too much commotion…"

The tears seemed to magically dry up, as the redhead's face lit up with absolute glee. "Oh, thank-you Hinata-neesama, I promise I won't be too much of a burden, you'll see! I can be calm and quiet, too!" Hinata smiled sweetly and nodded.

"Hai, now you three had better get going. You wouldn't want to keep your sensei waiting, now, would you?"

Genji scoffed, "Why not? He does it to us all the time!"

Not wanting to waste anymore time, Ryouke calmly led his companions from the room. Hinata giggled to herself as she heard Yuina and Genji's exuberant voices echoing down the hall as they continued to bicker, and then the eldest interrupting in a low, final tone that told them to be quiet. After that, the corridor filled up the space left by the three children's departure with silence. Hinata gave a long tired sigh, leaning back against the cold metal examining table and looking at the clock on the wall.

"Looks like it's finally time for my break." she mumbled quietly, before gathering her things to leave.

Hinata was currently sitting in the nurses' lounge, resting in a comfortable recliner chair and eating her favorite snack, cinnamon rolls. Finally, she thought. a chance to take a brief, but much-needed and well-earned rest!

Little did she know that her break would be even briefer than she thought... One of Hinata's colleagues came charging into the room, panting heavily as if she'd run for miles without stopping just to get there. Hinata took in her appearance and rose up with a startled gasp.

Her forehead was coated in a thin layer of sweat, her face was a sickly pale hue, and no matter how much air she gulped in, she still seemed winded and unable to breathe. The little nurse's cap was sitting crookedly on top of her head and her reddish brown hair was no longer in a neat bun as it had been that morning, but messy and damp with sweat, stray strands sticking out haphazardly like twigs in a bird's nest, and her fringe of bangs matted to her head with persperation.

"W-What happened?!" Hinata asked in unmasked shock. She wanted to believe that it was just something minor, like one of the larger patient's falling down somewhere and the other medics needing some more assistance in picking them back up again, but she was a ninja before she had ever dreamed of becoming a medic, and those highly-acute ninja instincts told her to hope for the best but fear for the worst.

"I-I-It's an emergency," the nurse explained, still panting. "There's no time to explain...Please, you must come with me at once! Lady Tsunade has personally requested your presence and asks for your help in this matter." she finished, her breathing finally seeming to stabalize.

Hinata nodded, quickly following the other nurse from the lounge and to the ER's intensive care unit without another word. She knew that if it was important enough for Tsunade to call upon her, an unofficial, untested rookie medic, it must truly be a very serious and dire situation, in which time was of the strongest essence.

It could just be because Sakura's away off on that mission with Naruto-kun and the others... she told herself.

'But then again, she still would've gotten a better, more qualified doctor, like Shizune-san to handle it, right...? I have a feeling that qualification and experience has nothing to do with it this time. So then, what's really going on here?' she wondered silently.

They reached the room where the operating lights were currently glowing red above the door, telling anyone on the outiside of it not to enter, as they briskly pushed their way in.

Inside the room, Tsunade stood in the middle of the floor with her hands on her hips and a very troubled look furrowing her brow, Shizune standing beside her, reviewing some old medical records with the quick, all-seeing eyes of a highly-trained veteran, and scribbling some new notes down on a clipboard.

Tsunade turned to them as the quietly creaking hinges of the heavy metal doors sounded as the alert to their arrival. "Ah, Hinata, come here, quickly." Her mistress beckoned in an urgent, authoratative voice.

"Hai," the Hyuga female squeaked, hurrying over to stand by the woman's side before she could become even more agitated.

Before she spoke to the lavendar-eyed young woman again, she turned to look at the other nurse, who was still standing attentively by the doors. " Don't just stand there gaping! Bring the recently returned retrieval team here at once and then return to your former duties." she barked impatiently.

The nurse bowed humbly muttering a quick, " Yes, m'Lady," before scampering off to fulfill her mistress' commands.

After she was gone, Tsunade turned back to Hinata and gave the apprehensive Hyuga a startlingly serious stare, looking straight in her eyes. "Now, on to more important topics, like the situation at hand." she said, still not dropping her scarily solemn tone.

"Hinata, in all the years you've spent training under my supervision, you should know that I'm not the type that minces words." She paused, and Hinata nodded. "And so, I'm just going to get straight to the point. As I'm sure you're already aware of, teams Kakashi and Gai, along with the temporarily assembled unit consisting of Yamanaka Ino, Inuzuka Kiba and Aburame Shino led by Nara Shikamaru, were sent on a so-called, unusually high-ranked 'scroll retrieval mission' about a month ago."

Hinata nodded again in comprehension, showing that she did in fact remember. It had been several long weeks, yes, although each individual week felt like another whole month to her. They had seemed just as slow and strenuous for Hinata, without the company and support of her beloved friends by her side, watching her train and encouraging her as she continued to improve, striving to one day catch up with her superiors.

Somehow, though it'd been hard at first, she'd managed to train twice as hard in their absence, and had made signifigant progress as a result, telling herself that, she could surprise all of them with how much she'd improved when they returned. She thought of her longtime crush Naruto, and of her old teammates, Kiba and Shino, along with her cousin, Neji. They had all been sent away on the mission, four of her most precious people.

Neji's team specialized in Taijutsu, and her cousin's superior skills with their family's bloodline limit, the Byakugan, made for a double benefit and excellent tracking system, so of course they had been requested. Naruto's team specialized in Ninjutsu, and Sakura's sharp mind, along with her healing abilities and her advanced mastery of Genjutsu were also considered useful, and so they had gone along.

Then there was the group who specialized in battle tactics and analyzations, and was led by the incredibly lazy Jonin with the genius IQ of 200, Nara Shikamaru. Kiba's stealthy Taijustu combo attacks with Akamaru, who had now grown big enough to have several full-sized passengers ride on his back at one time without slowing him down, had proved to be both useful and effective on past missions, along with the fact that their incredible sense of smell inabled them to pick up a scent that was over three days old, and track down a target, even if it was hundreds of miles away. Shino had been asked to go because of his control over bugs, which could be found in almost any area, and the fact that they could douuble as weapons and miniature tracking devices, able to be deployed and recalled all at her old teammate's command, made him a very handy person to have around. But of course, they hadn't needed her to come along...they never did.

They just offered her sometimes when they went on easy C-ranked missions, and occasionally, a B, just so she didn't feel left out. Other than that, she was the last person who came to mind when they chose teams for the higher ranked assignments. She knew they saw her as a liability, too weak and fragile to hold her own, and she was determined to prove them wrong and let them know she was more than capable of standing up for herself.

She'd started training on her own, working herself to a sweat and beating her palms against a training post, practicing her family's fighting techniques until they were sore, splintered, and raw. She'd go home almost every day with her hands heavily wrapped in bandages and her body battered and bruised as if she had just been attacked, chewed, and swallowed by one of the snake sanin's giant reptilian monsters, then carelessly spit back up again. Despite her efforts, she didn't seem to notice herself getting any stronger, and so she had decided that maybe her talents lie within medical ninjustu, not fighting skills and techiniques.

She remembered her mother telling her long ago, when she was still a little girl, that if she pushed hard enough, and she wanted something badly, stronger than anything else she had ever wanted before, with perserverance, effort, and a little bit of patience, she would one day achieve her goals and reach newer, higher heights than she could've ever imagined possible. The assurance and certainty with which her mother had spoken these words had filled Hinata's heart with hope and determination, though her family's constant abuses had worn away a great deal of her confidence over time, she had never entirely lost faith in her mother's promise, and that one day, it would come true.

'Maybe,' she thought to herself one evening not unlike any other, as she could be found at Team Eight's otherwise deserted training grounds, mercilessly thrusting her palms against the stumpy wooden pole, using the style of the Hyuga clan's "Gentle Fist". 'if I get help from somebody else, somebody stronger like maybe...Lady Hokage-sama, then I could learn powerful new techniques and become strong enough for them to notice my potential.'

She continued her assault on the defenless stump, which by this time, had started to work its way up and out of the ground, becoming wobbly and chipped from Hinata's constant, every day abuses. 'Yes! That's it! I'll ask Tsunade-sama to supervise my training from now on, and then I'll become strong, and maybe even...brave, like Naruto-kun, Neji-niisama, Sakura-san and the others. Would they think I'm useful then?' She breifly stopped her barrage of attacks on the piece of wood to wipe the sweat from her brow, beaming proudly at the thought.

'Or would they still disregard me as a total weakling... a nuisance, as they do now?' Her grin faltered and faded to a frown, and she continuted to pound at the remains of the bark of the tree, her eyes narrowing into a fierce look of determination, a type of fire blazing in her eyes and igniting somewhwere deep within her sole with an intensity she had never felt before.

'...I...I don't care what it takes, I will become stronger! I'll show them that Hyuga Hinata isn't the weak, scared little girl that used to run away and always needed protecting. I'm all-grown up and perfectly certain I could defend myself if I had to. But...it's time they finally started to believe me.'

Hinata was snapped out of her thoughts by the sound of Tsunade clearing her throat, bringing her focus back to the situation at hand. "Anywho, as I was saying, this mission wasn't to retrieve a scroll, as I told you before. This was simply so you wouldn't worry too much about the others, and could focus on your duties, here, at the hospital." Hinata nodded again, but furrowed her brow slightly in confusion.

She didn't quite understand where this was all going...but had an almost bad feeling she was about to find out.

"However, certain...situations have occured unexpectedly, or rather not so whole-heartedly anticipated; but now that my sources have clarified, I feel I am if not obligated, to tell you that Naruto and the others were actually sent off to find Uchiha Sasuke, whom I'm sure you're at least vaguely aquainted with, and attempt, yet again, to find him and bring him back to Konoha."

After hearing this, Hinata began to feel dizzy and light-headed, not sure she was hearing right. Sasuke, Uchiha Sasuke? The same man that'd tried to kill his own comrade, her crush, on at least several occasions, and was so desperate to obtain power, that he'd sought out the help of Konoha's sworn enemy and perhaps greatest threat (besides the Akatsuki), the snake sanin Orochimaru?

Had they really gone after him?!

But if she wasn't supposed to know about all this initially, and Tsunade-sama was now informing her, that must mean that something bad had happened to Naruto's team! Had they run into some kind of trouble with some other rogue nin perhaps? Although, even if this was so, it was unlikely that some normal, second-rate criminals could deter some of Konoha's finest from completing a mission. So then something even more serious must've happened...

"This time though, instead of the mission ending in failure like it has several times in the past, they've exceeded even my expectations, by bringing back not only one Uchiha, but two." Here, Hinata had become thoroughly lost and dumbfounded. Two Uchiha? How could that be possible when it was a well-known fact that Sasuke'd been the only one left alive after the brutal and bloody massacre that'd taken place all those years ago. Unless...

"Apparently, from the reports I've received thus far, they encountered Sasuke and his team already engaged in a serious battle with some members of the Akatsuki, including his older brother, Uchiha Itachi." The color drained from Hinata's face, leaving her as sickly white as a clean china plate. To say she was at a loss for words, would be the world's biggest understatement.

She refused to believe it! How could some of her closest friends and comrades ever even think to bring back a mass-murderer, especially one that was part of an orginization that'd tried to capture and destroy Naruto on numerous accounts.

"W-What?! B-B-But I...I thought he-"

"Yes, and that's exactly why we need him to make a full recovery. So we can get his side of the story and find out what his true motives are. I've already been skimming through some old files the Third Hokage left behind, and with some the information they contain, along with his personal accounting of the story, I'm hoping to shed some light on this and finally solve a mystery from Konoha's past that's been casting a shadow since it started."

And so it begins...I hope this first chapter piqued your interest. I tried really hard to make it original and interesting. I know Itachi, Sasuke, and a bunch of other characters mentioned so far haven't actually appeared...gomen-nasai...they'll show up next chapter for sure, well, a lot of them will, like the Uchiha bros. and team seven, but not everybody, not yet. I don't want to rush things too much; but I am excited to get into the fluffier scenes that will take place later on.