Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto, if I did Naruto wouldn't bother Sakura so much, and would try his luck elsewhere.
Summary: As a child Naruto suffered many small injustices, but occasionally he was met by unexpected kindness and that is where this story will begin, with an injustice followed by a kindness that will blossom in the coming years into something more. Credit where credit is due:
1) Hawk – Story: Hooray for bad Intel
2) Can't remember
From Hawk I decided I really like this pairing, and unlike some out of his age group Hana is only 4 years older than Naruto. From the one I can't remember the two meeting at a young age (if anyone believes they know who this was I'd love to give credit, even if that seems a minor detail).
It had been a good day for the nine-year-old Naruto Uzumaki. His day had started bright and early at 6am with the sun just whispering above the horizon and the feast of kings for breakfast: Instant Ramen, chicken flavor. During the dratted 3 minute wait for it to be ready Naruto did some wake-me-up exercises, as he called them, squats, push-ups, sit-ups, and anything else he could think of, 20 of each. He just managed to build a light sweat when the timer went off and soon after he was chowing down.
By 6:15am he was on his morning jog around the village, of course they wouldn't actually let him out of the village, so he was actually running around the inside wall, taking detours to avoid the guard posts. Luckily he knew the routine of all the city guards better than anyone else in the village did, which was necessary as some few would attack him, claiming they were helping him train. In a way, he had to admit they were helping him, especially when they threw kunai or shuriken, as then he would quickly collect them a run off.
This mornings' run, however, was not met with any 'help,' though he did have a bit of a scare as he passed the Uchiha District when he was sure a young man a few years older than himself had seen him. The villagers all seemed to dislike Naruto for some reason, but the Uchiha were the only ones who consistently risked the Hokage's wraith by actually attacking him. Last year he'd missed a week of school because he'd been attacked by a group of Uchiha youths that had left him in a coma. When he'd finally woken up he was told that the boys who attacked him had been executed and that he'd be best off avoiding the notice of that particular clan in future.
After that day most times when he was attacked an Anbu would show up quickly and take his attackers off to someone named Ibiki. Once in a while the Anbu would then treat Naruto to some ramen at Ichiraku's, where old man Teuchi and his daughter Ayame were always happy to see him.
Getting back to his apartment around 8am he quickly rinsed the sweat off, gathered his school stuff, and set his traps before heading off for school.
When he got to school he found that he had a few minutes to spare, but quickly went to his seat in the back of his classroom as he seemed to get in a lot of trouble if he was even a few seconds late. One time a teacher had hit him so hard some of his baby teeth had fallen out when he was a minute late, and after that day he'd never seen that teacher again.
Nowadays Iruka-sensei was in charge of his class, and he was usually nice, he'd even treated Naruto at Ichiraku's a couple of times (though he never let Naruto have more than two bowls those times). As such, Iruka-sensei was his favorite teacher at school; it was just a shame that he usually worked with Mizuki-sensei. Mizuki-sensei had never actually done anything to him, but Naruto sometimes thought he saw the same look most of the village gave him behind those eyes of his.
Luckily, Mizuki-sensei was out today, and it was all practical learning today. Naruto didn't much like the leaf balancing exercise, but today he finally got it and was allowed to move on to practicing the Academy Ninjutsu like almost everyone else. He was so happy he'd finished the lesson on leaf balancing that he missed Iruka-sensei telling the class that they should keep this up on their own time as it was very important. All he heard was that the class would no longer be studying it in class.
Lunch came and went for Naruto, but luckily today he was able to afford the school lunch at the cafeteria, it always seemed expensive to him, but it did let him stay on the Academy grounds so that when he was finished he could get in a little training. What Naruto didn't know was that he was charged 3 to 5 times what anyone else was charged, but here the cafeteria workers were never caught since they at least gave him good food. Even if they were ever caught they were a private business and thus allowed to charge as they saw fit.
After lunch Naruto went back to class and they started working on the Academy basic ninjutsu's, and Naruto was having some trouble but he was sure he'd get them down in time.
The rest of the day went pretty fast and he was sure he was making progress, so overall he decided today was a pretty good day, that is until he got home. That's when the day went to hell as the door was off its hinges and inside the smoke and fire damage looked like it hadn't left much in one piece. His couch, which had already been old and lumpy, was now scorched, with half the stuffing ripped out; his bed was in the same condition. The walls were either covered in soot or graffiti. Generally everything was in pieces, but he was happy to see his traps had worked, as there was a good amount of blood scattered around.
Sighing Naruto went to gather whatever was easily salvageable that he'd be able to carry, and checked his hide-hole and found the picture of himself with the Hokage, some ration bars that would do in a pinch, and his small tent. This had happened before so he was prepared for it this time, he'd even managed to get a few simple carpentry tools, he'd had to skip meals every other day for a month, but it was worth it. Now he'd be able to fix his place up.
He started on the door, and by 8pm he had his door fixed and the traps reset. He couldn't sleep in his apartment tonight or even for some nights to come, but he'd get everything fixed up again. With a slight smile he took his precious items and tent and left to find one of the less used training grounds.
When he needed to he could get out or into the village without anyone seeing him. He could, but it wasn't easy so he needed to be careful.
It was 10pm before he'd finished his dinner, which unfortunately was one of the ration bars. That night was fairly calm so he didn't setup his tent, instead he just slept under the stars.
The next day was Sunday so there was no school, which meant he could set up his tent and try to find better food. He also made his way back into the village for a couple hours to work on repairing his apartment, and he was at pretty sure no one saw him. That night he had fish and he even had one for the next morning so things were looking up, but the next morning things were going to change.
The next morning Naruto woke up to the sound of yelping. He got up and looked around, after a few minutes he found a young dog or wolf-cub running from a ten-foot snake, but the cub looked hurt and after a few seconds it collapsed and the snake raised up and prepared to strike. Naruto reached into his equipment pouch and pulled out 3 shuriken and thought, please don't let me miss today!
He breathed in a quick breath and releasing it threw the shuriken, in the seconds it took them to fly he was silently praying…and then they struck, killing the snake inches from the cub.
Naruto collapsed a moment thanking Kami he'd thrown straight today, usually that wasn't one of his better skills, as he tended to be erratic.
"Oh yeah! The puppy," he remembered and cautiously approached the injured cub, "Easy, it's okay, I won't hurt you," he said in a soft, calm voice.
The cub yipped at him lightly and bared its' teeth, so Naruto set a small fire and cooked part of the snake. Once it was done he cut up part of it and gently threw them to the cub, and the cub quickly started gobbling them up. A few moments went by with Naruto slowly getting closer, still throwing bits of meat until he is close enough to start petting the little one.
A minute passes by and Naruto hears someone coming through the trees and then a pretty young brunette drops down in front of him. She doesn't look much older than Naruto, but he notices something else, she has strange marks on her face.
She looks around and quickly assesses what happened and smiles at Naruto then says, "Thanks for saving Sanmaru here," and the puppy limps over to her. The girl takes a moment to check Sanmaru over, and then her hand briefly glows green as she touches the puppy and after a moment he barks happily, licks the girls hand, and disappears in a puff of smoke.
Smiling the girl turns back to the boy who looks shocked, and she says, "Don't worry, Sanmaru will be fine. I just did a basic field medic healing jutsu and when I get him home I'll get him all fixed up."
Naruto nods, not that he understands, but he wants the girl to think he does at least. "So what was with him going up in smoke?" Naruto asks.
Looking a little sheepish for some reason the girl explains, "Well, I'm still learning veterinary medical jutsu. All I could really do was take away some of Sanmaru's pain, so I put him in his seal with his brothers so he'd be easier to get home where I can do a more thorough job of it. By the way, I'm Hana Inuzuka," and she smiles a little.
With one of his huge fox-like smiles Naruto says, "Naruto Uzumaki, pleased to meet'cha."
Cute kid, Hana thinks, still smiling. Then she remembers something, "So Naruto what were you feeding Sanmaru when I got here? Some things aren't good for dogs, so I need to know in case he has a reaction later."
Looking concerned Naruto explains, "I was asleep when Sanmaru's cries woke me so I investigated and found that snake chasing him. Well, I managed to kill the snake with some shuriken," he had no intention of revealing he was still learning to throw shuriken, "and then I cut up the snake and cooked a bit. I figured turn about was fair play, if the snake wanted to eat Sanmaru, Sanmaru could then eat the snake."
Hana laughed at the absurd logic of kids (as a 13-year-old genin she didn't think of herself as a kid anymore) and explained that it should be just fine. Looking around though Hana seems confused and asks, "Are you out here alone Naruto?"
Scratching the back of his head he says, "Yeah…I know I', not supposed to be out here but I felt like camping…so…"
The kid really needs to learn to lie better, Hana thought. "…Is that the real reason you're out here?" Now that she thought about it she had seen this kid before, and she saw how he was treated, and now she was concerned for the kid. "It's really not safe out here, especially this close to the forest. That snake could just as easily gone after you as Sanmaru."
Feeling it would be okay to tell her at least part of the truth Naruto explained, "Well…the truth is my apartment got broken into…and the landlord wanted to make sure it was safe before I go back," he finished in a rush. Man, I hate lying to such a pretty girl.
His thoughts must have echoed on his face because Hana quickly turned away blushing. Why am I blushing? He's just a little squirt, and I'm probably reading too much into scents and facial signs, mom said that could happen, but when she looked back he still seemed to be radiating interest, and she turned crimson.
Hana covered her mouth to clear her throat (and cover her blush); "Well the least I can do is offer you a safer place to stay until you can return to your apartment. You did save Sanmaru after all." Then she paled thinking, wait…what did I just say? I can't just offer an outsider entry into the compound, mom wouldn't allow it…but he did save Sanmaru, so maybe it would be all right?
Her confused thoughts' plane as day, Naruto was going to refuse when he looked over at the snake and shivered a little. "Well I guess I could accept…if your family is okay with it," he said smiling.
Hana felt relieved for a moment before the confusion returned, why does this boys' safety mean so much to me? But as soon as she asked herself the question she pushed it aside as wanting to pay back her debt for what he did. I don't know how I could live with myself if I let something happen to any of the Haimaru Sankyaku.
Thus decided, Hana went with Naruto to help pack up his tent and supplies, but before she started to walk away he pointed to the rest of the snake and asked, "Should we really just leave the rest? It seems so wasteful."
Hana smiled and reassured Naruto, "Don't worry about it, nothing goes to waste near this forest," she looks back to the forest surrounded by 44 locked gates she shivered a little. Turning back to Naruto she recovered her smile, though it was a little more strained this time, "If you like I can pitch the remains into the forest, then they'll be gone inside 10 minutes. Otherwise it might take a day or so."
Naruto thinks about it and smiles thinking it'd be cool to watch the snake get eaten so fast, but looking at Hana he says, "I think we can leave it here then."
The walk back to the Inuzuka compound was interrupted at the gates when the chunin guards tried to refuse Naruto entry to the village. Fortunately, a dog masked Anbu showed up and knocked out the guard who was trying to stop Naruto's reentry. Turning to the other he quietly says, "Report to the Hokage when your shift is over."
The other guard gulped and nodded, allowing Naruto and Hana to sign back in…of course Naruto had to sign out and then sign back in, much to Hana's amusement.
Naruto turned and smiled at the Anbu, "Thanks Inu-san." The Anbu nodded and disappeared in a swirl of leaves, making Naruto turn to Hana, "Do you know how to do that? I keep hoping they'll teach us at the Academy, but Iruka just laughed when I asked when they'll teach it to us."
Hana meanwhile was a little slack-jawed and took a moment to respond, "I…don't know when you'll learn it. I suppose it all depends on your Jonin Sensei you get once you graduate from the Academy." She turns to look at where the Anbu was only a few moments earlier, "Naruto…how do you know that Anbu?"
"Oh, you mean Inu-san…hey didn't you say your name was Inuzuka? Doesn't that mean you know him?"
She sweat-drops anime style, "Naruto, each Anbu has an animal mask, but just because that one has a dog mask doesn't mean he has anything to do with my family. I don't even know who is under that mask, no one but the Hokage should."
Naruto scratches the back of his head in thought and thinks a moment before saying, "Okay, that makes sense I guess. Anyway, I know Inu-san because he usually shows up when I'm in trouble. That's probably because the Hokage likes me and thinks of me like an adopted grandson."
Naruto keeps walking, but he doesn't know where the Inuzuka compound is exactly, so he turns to ask Hana which way it is only to find her several feet away, "What's up Inuzuka-san?" He decided to be respectful since he might need to stay with Hana's family for a little while, he only hoped they'd be okay with it. All I need is a place to set up my tent, and if I'm really safe there I should be able to just buy food again…hey! This means I can have ramen again! Suddenly he really wanted to jump for joy, but managed to hold himself in, though his smile was truly a million-watt smile.
This had the dual effect of snapping her out of her funk, and making her blush again. She shakes her head and slaps her cheeks twice, smiles, and says, "It's nothing, come this way," and she walks off towards her home. Hana isn't carrying any of his stuff, even though she offered to carry the tent for him. He'd let her help him take it down, but said it was his and so it was his responsibility. At first she'd thought he was being sexist, but after his explanation she just smiled.
It wasn't long before they arrived at the Inuzuka compound and Naruto loved it at first site. It was big without the imposed grandeur of the Hyuga and emanated with the happy sound of dogs barking. Also, once he entered no one glared or cursed at him like in the Uchiha district, here they just looked on curiously, which he greatly preferred, and none of them looked like they wanted to hurt him for some mysterious reason.
Hana pointed out the kennels and guesthouses to the left of the entry, two small, but distinct training grounds to the right, and straight ahead the main building. It was a nice looking Ranch-style home that looked like it probably had at least as many rooms as his whole apartment building, which was to say about 20-30 rooms not counting community rooms.
When Naruto asked how many people lived here Hana explained that it's wasn't the only house on the property, and that it was actually a combined clan house and home for the head of the clan and her two children which she was, of course, one of.
"Wow! Why didn't you say you were so important Hana-hime?"
Again she blushed, but it got worse when a couple adults nearby heard and roared with laughter. Why does he keep making me blush!? She thought furiously. "Naruto…please don't call me that. It's…not appropriate. The Inuzuka aren't a noble family, and wouldn't want to be." Silently she was begging, please Kami; don't let mother hear him say that! I'll never live it down!
Meanwhile Naruto was confused; I wonder why her cheeks keep getting so red. I hope she's not sick. Thankfully for Hana he let it slide and just asked, "Then what should I call you?"
Smiling again (and gaining control of her blush) she thought, maybe the clan markings are to lessen the obviousness of blushes? Clearing her head of such strange thoughts she says, "Just call me Hana. Actually, other than my mom you should always call any Inuzuka by their first name. My mom you should address as Tsume-sama if in public, but inside the compound always as Tsume, unless she tells you otherwise, got it?"
Naruto nods and they enter the main house in search of Tsume Inuzuka, unfortunately they find her doing clan paperwork, well it's not as bad as Ojii-san's desk.
Hana grabs Naruto and tries to leave without getting her mother's attention, she should have remembered the reason she left the village to train, damn! What's wrong with me today? Dad was the last one foolish enough to walk in while mom was doing paperwork and no one in the village has seen him since.
Before she got the door closed again her mothers' nose twitched, her head snapped up, and she snarled, "WHAT!?!"
Hana winced and Naruto looked about to bolt, but Hana held onto his shirt firmly. Actually, her nails were almost drawing blood through his shirt, but she wasn't facing her mother alone. She quickly explained what had happened and by the end Naruto was squirming to get out of her hands, but Tsume looked a little less like she would bight their heads off. Instead she just said, "Get out…show him to a guest house. And you," she turns to Naruto, "make sure you're here for dinner. 6pm," she looked pack to her paperwork, a clear dismissal, and Hana quickly dragged Naruto away.
"That was close," Hana sighs.
"I swear I saw my life flash before my eyes!"
Hana laughs and rubs his head, causing Naruto to scowl and push her hand away, which deepens her laugh from a light chuckle to something that sounded like a bark. Naruto just shakes his head and lets Hana lead him back to where the quest houses were.
Arriving at one Hana checks and finds that it will do and shows Naruto inside. Naruto steps inside and stops, slack-jawed he can only ask, "How many people live here?" as it's easily twice as big as his apartment, but then he sees stairs to a second floor.
Needless to say he's shocked to hear, "Each of the guesthouses are designed for one family, but as that's just you this will be just for you while you're staying here. Naturally that means that you're responsible for keeping everything in the same condition you find it."
Naruto just smiles while looking around and Hana smiles looking at him, but catches herself before he can see and (predictably by now) blushes. "Well, get settled in and I'll see you at dinner."
"Thanks Hana!" then his smile fades and he looks concerned, "Your mom isn't always like that is she?"
That made her laugh again, I can't remember the last time I laughed so much in a week…well, Kiba's good for a laugh too, and he doesn't make me blush. Still, I think I need to see if mom will let him stay (cue another blush) damn!
"No Naruto. Mom is usually a lot of fun, but she lets the clans' paperwork pile up all month and then does it all at once. Usually everyone knows to stay away from her on her paperwork day, but I forgot due to all the excitement of the day," she smiled and for once it was Naruto's turn to blush. YES! See how you like it, she cheered silently.
Hana waved goodbye and as the door closed Naruto heard her laughter again and thought, I really like her laugh. Once he could no longer hear her laughter he set about getting settled in.
Author's Note – Okay so this is my attempt at a Hana x Naruto romance, here's hoping you like it. So that you know, this story is going to have a time-skip to get to the beginning of the series, but not before a few more things happen, first of all: dinner with the family! Just to let you know I intend to start one more story before I continue any of them, but I should be updating each at least once a month, probably twice or more, but I don't want to promise anything just yet.
P.S. Inuzuka dogs are named after a color, but Hana's three are only ever referred to as the Haimaru (Ash; Gray + boys) Sankyaku (Tripod), so I decided that when referring to an individual member of the trio I'd call them Ichimaru, Nimaru, and Sanmaru (1, 2, 3 – in order + boy).