Chapter 9 : Stirring of the Sacred Element
The next day came early for most of the residents of Suna...even Gaara who begrudgingly got up from the first peaceful sleep he'd had since he could remember. Said Kazekage was rather surprised when he saw a small carrier falcon with a scroll in it's talons with the Leaf Symbol on it. Shrugging he grabbed the scrolls and the bird took flight back to its home. Unrolling the parchment he discovered it was a letter from Tsunade.
I hope this message finds you in good health. Kakashi has sent a message and we are now aware of your new circumstances, congratulations on your appointment as the new one tailed lord. I am sure you will do much better than the previous one that had been sealed within you.
Now, on to other matters. I need your help. As you may have already noticed, Naruto has gained several female admirers, including your sister. However he has closed himself off to certain emotions mostly due to old insecurities, which I am sure you could relate to due to your similar childhoods.
The problem is this, I have many members of the council breathing down my neck because they want to ensure that Naruto's Kekkei Genkai, which gives him an unparalleled mastery of all elements, will get passed on to the next generation and that the Namikaze clan will continue. They are even trying to set up arranged marriages...and we both know how that would turn out.
I don't want my son to be put in a forced situation like this, even if it is for the good of the village. I may be Hokage, but he is the closest thing to a son I've ever had and I will do all in my power to ensure his future happiness. I know he cares for your sister and the other girls but he doesn't have much of a chance to really relax and bond with them here due to some of the more ignorant residents.
As it is I am unsure as to what to do to help him. The council will likely try something to keep him off of active duty until an heir is sired or something along those lines, you can see, I'm sure, where the problems with this could start mounting. Try talking to him if you can find the time. Also have Naruto's team ready to return as soon as possible so a proper report can be given.
Thank you for the help and best of luck.
Tsunade, Fifth Hokage, Konoha.
"Hnn...I talked to him once already, I'm afraid it's all in his hands now." Gaara monotoned. "My friend...it is up to you now. Will you do as you always have in the past and overcome yet another obstacle or will you finally let your inner demons win?"
Kankuro nodded from behind him. "Guess we'll just have to hope for the best. Temari will be leaving with the others to go back to Konoha for her ambassador duties there. We should probably leave things up to her; she generally gets what she wants." He smirked...he almost felt sorry for Naruto...almost.
Gaara eyed his brother lazily; he knew why Kankuro was happy about this. If Temari ended up married to Naruto, thus becoming a member of leaf, it would solidify their peace treaties even better but it would also keep Temari out of his hair...and less lumps on his noggin to boot.
Kakashi watched in mild concern as his former student went through his various kata. Naruto was once again training. A frown was on Kakashi's face as he observed the young Hanyou. His movements were fluid and precise but mechanical...his eyes held no glimmer within them as he continued to train and train...never stopping except to eat, use the rest room or help with some repairs in the village. It was obvious the young man had something on his mind but it didn't make sense as to why he was training himself into the ground, Kakashi idly wondered if Naruto had even slept since he woke the other day.
"AHCOOO!!" Naruto sneezed throwing off his kata. "Damn...I'm beginning to think someone is talking about me, that's the fourth time in the past ten minutes."
He was once again dressed in his usual garb; sealing scrolls in his opinion were one of the best shinobi tools out there since it allowed him to carry damn near anything he needed. It wasn't that he didn't like the Suna made gear that the others got for him, he was just more comfortable in his own things...and he hated wearing shirts unless he had to. Cloaks and Trench coats were okay...but the only thing he used to cover himself other than those were his black wrappings and his scarf since it could hide his lower face. Right now though, his trench and scarf were sealed leaving him in just a pair of baggy black pants with crimson flames coming up the legs. He opted to leave his boots off since moving in sand was easier bare-footed.
"Heh...you have no idea Naruto, I'm sure the girls are." Kakashi thought amused, this was the chance he'd been looking for. "Yo! Naruto, I got a message from Hokage-sama." He said walking towards the Chunin Hanyou.
Naruto dropped his stance and stood up straight as he wiped a bit of sweat from his brow. "Really? What's Mom sent for us now?" He asked curiously.
Kakashi gave him one of his lazy eye smiles and handed him his copy of the order for rest. Naruto took it and skimmed over it, a slight frown crossed his feral features.
"Looks like we need to get back to Konoha soon then, good thing I'm fast transport." Naruto mumbled. "Heh, guess now I know why Gamabunta hate's being used as a taxi. Still...we should probably leave in the morning."
Kakashi nodded. "We've still got to make our report, especially since the Akatsuki is now down two members. Besides it's safer in Konoha..." Naruto gave him a slight deadpanned glare. "...well...for most people."
Kakashi sighed and looked at his former student. "When was the last time you actually relaxed or had a little fun? When was the last time you went a full day without training?" He asked suddenly curious.
"Four years or more...I don't really remember anymore." Naruto answered nonchalant. "I don't think I've stopped training in some way or another since the first Chunin exam we went through, except to rest or heal myself if I was injured." He added as and after thought.
Kakashi shook his head. "Naruto...I know you're not completely human anymore and you feel the need to push yourself but if you keep that up you will eventually burn out and lose the focus that drives you. I've noticed it the past couple of days...you train in an almost mechanical manner, like a machine programmed to do something. In fact when you don't have anything else to do you still train or help make more repairs to the damaged parts of the village."
Kakashi frowned behind his mask. "What are you running from? Is it the girls? You never used to do this...you used to know how to have fun, even when you trained. I know I was never the best Sensei in the past, I will always regret my mistakes with you and Sakura...but I'm here now...talk to me...what's on your mind that is making you train yourself into the ground like this?"
"Sigh...Perceptive as ever, eh...Kakashi-sensei." Naruto thought a bit sourly.
Naruto sighed and glanced about, they were in a pretty secluded part of South Suna, it used to be Gaara's old training ground and no one really used it but him, his siblings and those he gave permission to. Naruto motioned for Kakashi to follow him to some shade provided by a couple of palm trees. Naruto sat down on one of the large rocks as he adjusted his seven tails to keep them out of the bright sun. Kakashi took a seat on another rock sitting a few feet from his former students. Watching as Naruto lazily polished the blades of his swords with a piece of rice cloth produced from his pocket.
"I have many things on my mind...granted I had four long years to think about the chaos that is my life, no matter how much I thought...I could never really come up with any actual answers to several of my problems." Naruto began, his voice slipping into a mix of tired and monotone.
"The Akatsuki was a simple question to answer...I will eliminate them as I come across them. To go hunting for them is nothing short of foolish since I'd likely play into their hands. They aren't stupid...they would have traps set for me, most of them still think I'm that little naive knucklehead that Itachi and Kisame met four years ago. The only problem with taking those bastards out is that no one will let me do it by myself so I have to worry about my precious people and try to protect them while trying to kill those nut-jobs. I may be a Hanyou, but I'm not invincible nor am I perfect...I...get scared thinking about what could happen on those missions. The Akatsuki are very powerful...the ones we just fought were some of the weaker members...I just don't want to lose anyone else. I can concentrate on the missions better if I were to go solo or with just you, Shikamaru or Neji maybe." Naruto frowned.
"Then there's Sasuke, Oto, Kabuto and Orochimaru...I'll never believe that snake-bastard is dead until I've killed him myself. I have no problems eliminating Oto from the map; they are the enemy...simple as that. But when it comes to Sasuke...I made a promise, an ignorant and foolish one that I now regret, to return him to the village. I know you don't want to hear this but he's too dangerous to let live. He's let himself be consumed by his thirst for power, so much so that he is now the puppet of those around him...who knows how far gone his mind is now. The problem is...when I see him next...I plan on terminating him, the council and promise be damned. Killing him will keep Itachi from stealing his eyes and stop the rise of another twisted immortal Uchiha; it will also stop Sasuke from doing the same should he actually be skilled enough to kill Itachi."
"A part of me still wishes that I could save him but I'm no longer stupid enough to believe that Sasuke was a real friend. All I ever really was to him was a stepping stone and a sacrifice to gain the Magenkyo. We might have had a sliver of friendship once...but that died the day he put a Chidori through my damn chest. Just like the ignorant and eternally happy little buffoon I once was died...or rather grew up." Naruto paused for a moment and took a drink from his water bottle.
Kakashi watched Naruto as he listened to the young man. He sighed to himself, he wondered just how much of this could have been avoided had he done things better as their sensei...and hadn't tried spoiling Sasuke because of a debt of honor he thought he owed to a man long since dead. Sarutobi had been right when he said that one was never too old to make mistakes, the trick was to be smart and honorable enough to own up and correct them.
"Gaara...sprung something on me last night...it's made me think long and hard about something and yet I'm still no closer to an answer. He asked me what my intentions were towards his sister. He also mentioned that they wouldn't wait around forever for me to make a decision...since they didn't have the luxury of our...extended lifespan." Naruto said looking out over the sands.
"He's right you know...they won't wait forever." Kakashi sighed. "I was in a similar situation once before with my former teammate...Rin Uzuki. I cared a lot about her...maybe even loved her. But instead of facing the situation I continued to train...and train, worked on developing my Chidori and Raikiri and threw myself into my work in ANBU. Then one day...after finally coming to a decision I had found out that she had been killed in action against some missing ninja from Iwa."
Kakashi gave a slight mirthless chuckle. "I was miserable...first I lost Obito...then your father, who had been like a father to me and then Rin. All because I was too afraid to face the situation. In our line of work...sometimes it doesn't matter how long we want to wait to try and figure something out because we might be dead the next day. I think it was after her death...that I started reading my books. The stories are good and they offer me an escape from bitter reality. It's not something I'm really proud of...but it's about the only way I can keep my sanity...Naruto...please don't make the same mistake I did. If you really care for them...tell them and then protect them with all your might." Kakashi said uncharacteristically serious.
Naruto looked at his former Sensei...really looked at him and considered his words. He saw a man who had lost much and seen more death than most in their lives. He saw a man trying his best to atone for past sins and mistakes, just like how Naruto was trying his best to not make new mistakes in the present.
"How do you feel about them, Naruto? Think about it...don't block or bottle up your emotions and really think about it. Just remember...to them...to all of us, you will still be you...Hanyou, Demon or Human...it doesn't matter to those who count." Kakashi stood up and patted Naruto on the shoulder before walking off...he felt the need for a good stiff drink right now and his friend needed some time to think.
Naruto frowned in though as he looked at his own clawed hands, occasionally forcing his claws out and retracting them.
"How do I feel about them...?" He wondered silently.
"Temari is really nice...a bit brash but I kinda like that about her. She's very beautiful...all of them are in their own way. Temari and Tenten are a lot alike in some ways...both a tomboys but have an odd need for physical interaction...especially with someone they care for. Then there's Yugito and Ino...both of them are natural flirts and very attractive. Hinata is one of the kindest and gentlest girls I have ever met; I know she's been in love with me for a long time too. Truth be told...I really wouldn't mind dating her...the shy bit always was kinda cute. Last but not least is Sakura...she's grown up nicely, works hard and has blossomed splendidly from what she used to be. I will admit that a bit of my old crush is still there...it never really left. But I don't really know how to handle her now, am I just a replacement for Sasuke...or does she really have feelings for me? What about the others? All of them, except Hinata, either ignored me or disliked me when we were younger."
"Though Temari did change her tune a bit after I helped Gaara out. Tenten was always nice but never went out of her way to talk to me. Yugito was different, she thought I was the enemy at first but when I helped her and Nibi out she seemed to become attached to me...flattering in a way, even if I was just trying to help out a fellow Jinchuuriki. Ino and Sakura I was sure they hated my guts. But ever since I returned...they've been really nice to me, they even lost their fan-girl bit...thank Kami. No matter what though, I'd always did consider them friends...I also realize that things change as we grow older...become wiser with experience. But dammit all...I just can't seem to kill my old insecurities...I want to but as ashamed as I am to admit it...I'm afraid. Not so much anymore of rejection...but...of losing them...damn."
Naruto let out a sigh. It was true...he was afraid of losing them. He would rather they be alive and either hate or fear him then be dead for any reason. He wasn't so foolish to think that he was some sort of superman...not like he had when he was younger, he knew he couldn't save everyone...he'd just be damned if he didn't at least try to. But four years of intense training and learning and coming to terms with how harsh reality was had changed him. He honestly expected to spend the rest of his life alone. He had even thought that he didn't deserve such feelings from anyone...he was a demon after all, who could ever love a monster? Jiraiya had done his best to beat that notion out of him but it still lingered and haunted him...just as his past and his nightmares did. Even now he could see the horrors of his past as clear as crystal...not the sugar coated version he gave everyone, but the true terrors he had lived past...the horrors that had left scars on his soul.
Kakashi's words filter back through his mind calming the horrible visions flooding through it. Kakashi had asked him to not make the same mistake he once did...and to protect them. Coupled with his Demonic and Alpha instincts he quickly found that he was more protective of the girls than he thought he would be. Logically thinking...each of them would make excellent mates and he did have a clan to rebuild. He was more than strong enough now to protect them and when he gained his final tail...nothing short of Shinigami could stand against him.
"I know I haven't really been fair to them...especially Hinata, Temari and Yugito, since none of them have ever done anything to me to personally warrant my distrust or unease. But I've been doing this for so damn long now...I just don't know what to do about them...any of them. I don't want to hurt them...but I can't just sit back and let them be sad either...not when I'm the cause." Naruto thought solemnly.
The truth of the matter was...no matter how much his mind might try to convince him otherwise...he cared very much for them...some more so than others. Four years of intense training, self reflection and searching for purpose had opened his eyes to many things. There were times he wanted to kick himself for not realizing how Hinata had felt for him...all that time he spent alone could have been with someone who cared.
It all boiled down to one simple truth...he, Naruto Namikaze-Uzumaki, was scared. The mighty Kitsune Hanyou, Neo-Kyuubi and Most Unpredictable Shinobi was actually afraid. Not for himself, but for the girls. He was terrified he'd get closer to one or all of them only to have one of them ripped away from him. He wasn't invincible, he knew that. He was definitely stronger than most Kage and the majority of the Akatsuki and would continue to grow stronger...but even a god can screw up. He wasn't so foolish as to think he could save everyone anymore, in the real Shinobi world childish notions like that often got one killed. But what if he wasn't fast enough to protect one of them?
Naruto sighed. "Damn the what if's...I'm getting sick of dwelling on it. This isn't me; I'm not a brooder unless the situation clearly calls for that kind of deep thought. The problem is...I'm fucking thinking way to damn much. Kakashi was right...I was damn near ready to think myself out of a golden opportunity."
"I may not be perfect, I have a foul mouth, explosive temper when pressed, I tend to be cocky and I got a demented little fur-ball sealed in me until I assimilate its last tale. I've got the power now dammit...I'm smarter now but I need to stop trying to use logic for everything. I care for those girls and if I'm really what they want then by fucking Kami that's what they'll get!" Naruto's eyes shifted to crimson as a bit of killing intent leaked from him. "And may the gods have mercy on anyone who harms them...because I will not." He added in a demonic tone and sheathed his Katana's.
"Guess I'll just take things as they come and go with the flow, that's always suited me better anyways. Maybe I'll go pick up some lunch before heading back to Gaara's compound." Naruto mused feeling much lighter as he ruthlessly squashed the negative thoughts he had earlier and walked off.
Kakashi smiled behind his mask as he watched from a safe distance. "Good for you Naruto...I knew you'd choose the correct path once you thought on it. Heh...you had me a little afraid there for a minute though...good to see some things about you will never change." Kakashi thought and Shunshin'ed out of the training ground. There was a rare Icha, Icha on sale at the book store and it had his name on it!
Naruto dashed and hopped along the roof tops at high speed, enjoying how his unnaturally tanned skin seemed to ward off sunburns, in truth it was his healing factor that made him immune to the unpleasant effect. As he neared one of the more torn up parts of Suna he halted in his movements.
The sound of children playing caught his ears, making them twitch slightly towards their direction. He frowned slightly...the ruins in this area were quite unstable...it was no place for kids to be playing. A Chakra signature also alerted him to another familiar presence...Hinata.
Curious he hunched down and perched on the rooftop to check what was going on. Two little boys were playing Ninja around a tipsy looking wall as Hinata quickly ran up and began shooing them off and warning them of the danger. The kids soon ran off laughing and Hinata appeared to sigh in relief. Unfortunately a strong gust of wind came up, as was common in Wind Country and the wall began to tip over. Hinata realized as the wall was quickly falling down on her; a sudden surge of panic filled her and froze her on the spot.
Naruto let out a curse seeing her freeze up and vanished in a yellow flash of light only to reappear in another flash next to Hinata and catch the surprisingly heavy stone wall. He grunted slightly from the effort but held it aloft.
"N-Naruto-kun!" Hinata gasped as her favorite blonde hero/crush appeared next to her and caught the wall that was about to crush her with ease.
"Hey, Hinata-chan, I know you don't really mind being a wall-flower but I think this is a bit much...so..." Naruto grunted again and hurled the massive slab of stone.
Hinata watched a bit gob-smacked as the huge stone wall sailed over the Suna perimeter wall and land somewhere harmlessly out in the dessert sands. She blushed a bit at the light wise crack Naruto made before tossing the offending object.
"You okay, Hinata-chan?" He asked in his usual kind tone and she could see his genuine concern for her in his eyes.
She damn near melted on the spot. It amazed her at how frighteningly strong he could be, yet how truly gentle he was when needed. The fact that he had added the chan suffix to her name wasn't lost on her either and it made her blush all the brighter as she poked her fingers together, silently cursing her shyness and for the fact Naruto had to save her when she should have been able to save herself.
"I-I'm f-fine, Naruto-kun..." She stuttered out shyly.
Naruto frowned in concern; he could tell that something was bothering her.
"You're a terrible liar, you know." Naruto chuckled mildly. "C'mon now...I'm your friend, you can tell me what's bothering you. A burden shared is a burden lessened."
Hinata fidgeted a bit more and continued to twiddle her fingers in her usual cute manner. She was blushing deeper now and for the life of her she just couldn't speak. It upset her greatly, she'd worked so hard on her confidence and now when she needed it, it left her hanging. Tears began to prick at her soft lavender eyes, why couldn't she just say what she felt for once in her damn life!?
"I see...from what I can tell, she's upset that I had to save her again, if not slightly ashamed. If memory serves, she has always wanted to become stronger and is always trying to, in hopes of becoming worthy in my eyes. And now, she wants to tell me how she feels...but is too afraid to say anything. Heh, sometimes gaining this level of perception is a pain in the ass...but this time it could actually help. Maybe it's time I took a step. I've always thought she was worthy, definitely better than I deserve. Perhaps it's time she gets what she's wanted for so long." Naruto thought.
Hinata let out a slight gasp and squeak as Naruto came closer to her and wrapped his arms around her. She stiffened for but a second before laying her head on his bare chest. Tears began to leak from her eyes, but this time they were of happiness.
"Hinata-chan...I've known for a few years now, about how you feel about me." Naruto said softly. "I'm sorry...it took me so long to see it. As you know, my life has been pretty rotten for the most part. Somewhere along the way...I just settled myself to the fact that I'd always be alone, first because I am a Jinchuuriki, then because I'm a Hanyou and in the future because I would become a full demon."
He sighed slightly and Hinata remained quiet as she sadly listened to his words.
"I had always thought…who could ever love a demon...a monster? I know it was foolish, but given my life, I think it was an honest and believable deduction. That is why I trained so hard during my time with Ero-sennin. I knew that I would never be accepted or respected. To be honest...it doesn't really matter to me anymore what the ignorant masses think, I have my duties and as far as I'm concerned, they can either accept me or piss off. I trained myself to become a living weapon...not just to protect the village...no, that was never the real reason. I wanted to protect the few precious people I have, the village be damned."
"I honestly thought, that when I came back and all of you eventually learned my secret...you'd all turn against me. After all...it wouldn't be the first time in my life it's happened. Most everyone I've ever known has turned against me in one way or another. But to my surprise...not just one, but all of you, especially you and the other ladies...accepted me and still want my affection. Heh...to be honest...that scared the hell out of me for a while. I was terrified to let any of you close...scared that I might lose one or all of you for some reason or another. But I finally thought about it, long and hard, and decided that I can't live my life based on what if's. I'm much stronger now and I hope smarter." Naruto explained.
"N-Naruto-kun...?" Hinata asked looking up at him in slight confusion not sure where this was going but really hoping.
Naruto looked down at her and gave her his usual kind smile.
"I'm not sure if what I feel for you and the others is love...I've never really experienced that emotion nor do I have anything to go by due to my childhood. But, I know I care for each of you...very much, enough that I would sacrifice everything that I am to ensure your own lives and happiness. And to be honest...I...don't want to be alone anymore. So...if I am truly what you want, I'd be honored to be with you, be it as friends...or lovers." He answered her unspoken question.
Naruto was a bit shocked when Hinata let out a mixed happy noise, something between a sob and a cry of joy. He was even further shocked when she lunged up kissed him...not one of those innocent and chaste first kisses either. Quickly regaining his composure he did what any respectful male would do, he reciprocated the affection.
"Th-thank you, Naruto-kun...I'm so happy. I...I've wanted this for so long...just to be with you." Hinata said softly.
Naruto gave her a slight squeeze. "I know, Hinata-chan...I'm sorry you had to wait so long. I'm still not sure what I'm supposed to do or how I was so lucky to just get someone like you to care for me. It's kinda strange and I'll need some time to get used to the idea...but I'm glad your happy, to me that's all that really matters." He replied absently as he ran his hands through her silky midnight blue hair.
Hinata practically purred as he did this. In this one moment, it felt as if all her dreams had finally come true. Naruto didn't reject her...he welcomed her. She didn't know just what changed his mind, but she was glad it had...for whatever reason it might have happened. She knew of his secret...she'd known for a long time that there was something special about him. It didn't matter to her if he was human, Hanyou or demon...she would love and cherish him all the same...he was after all, her own source of strength.
Naruto was once again lost to his thoughts as he held the smaller young woman in his arms. She felt both strong and frail at the same time. He silently savored the unfamiliar but pleasant feeling of holding someone you care for, a feeling that had been denied him for so long and now...he had it.
"I was a damn fool for nearly passing this up...all because of my own insecurities. In a way I still don't feel I deserve her...or the others. But as Kami as my witness, this I swear. I will protect them with all my power for as long as they will have me...as long as she will have me. They will never want for anything and I will treat them as equals. No one or thing will ever harm them in my presence and should they come to harm when I'm not around...I will hunt down and destroy the one who harmed them...even if I have to rip Elemental Earth apart with my bare claws. This is my pledge...my vow and my promise to you ladies. The ones who saw the person...and not the demon." Naruto vowed silently.
Naruto let out a light chuckle. "Well...this isn't exactly how I figured this sort of thing would happen, but it works."
Hinata giggled a bit. "Yes...it does." She agreed and then a very sly smile crossed her features. A smile that would have looked more in place on Ino. "You know, Naruto-kun...the others will want their fair share now." She added without a stutter.
Naruto blanched slightly. "Oh, kami...they're gonna eat me alive!" He groaned while ignoring his tenants cackling at his discomfort.
"Don't worry; I'll protect you...for a little while at least." Hinata giggled.
Naruto sweatdropped. "Thanks..." He said dryly. "Oh well, at least your not stuttering anymore. Your voice is much more beautiful when you don...mmph...??"
Hinata silenced him by once again trying to extract his tonsils with her tongue...damn if the girl couldn't kiss. Ruefully he realized that the old saying about how it was always the quiet ones was painfully true. It never crossed his mind that five plus years of bottled up desires, repressed hormones and secret admiration could make even a nun a bit randy.
Far above them, perched on a water tower. Yugito Nii watched with a grin. She couldn't have planned this better herself! Now that the Hyuga girl had Naruto's attention it wouldn't take much for her and the other girls to get it either. And with Hinata's help, she was certain that things would flow smoothly, it would just take a bit of time and patience and maybe a few set up situations...heh, heh, heh.
Jiraiya suddenly sat upright from his position in the tree over looking the hot springs.
"Hmm...my pervert senses are tingling! Something interesting is happening somewhere and I'm not there to witness it...I'll bet it's the brat! He's got all those young nubile ladies with him." Jiraiya let out a perverted giggle as he wiped off a bit of drool. "I hope the kid hurries back so I can see what's going on...if I'm right, he'll be a gold mine of research material."
Naruto let out a slight shiver.
"What's wrong, Naruto-kun?" Hinata asked as they walked from a Takuyaki stand. Both had a small box of the octopus puffs and were munching on them.
"Hnn? Oh...nothing...just got an uncomfortable feeling is all. I think someone was talking about me again." Naruto shrugged.
"Why don't we relax the rest of the day? I planned on leaving tomorrow morning so we could be back in Konoha by night fall." He added.
Hinata nodded. "Umm...do we...umm...let the others know a-about us? I'd like to...tell my father." She said a bit nervously.
"That's up to you Hinata-chan. I don't see any problem with letting the other girls know since it seems I really don't have a choice in how many of you I'm going to date..." Naruto chuckled. "...I suppose there are worse fates. Not sure how your dad's going to take it though. If he doesn't like it then it's his problem, now that I got you...I'm not going to just let you go because of some one else's opinions."
Hinata flushed. "I...don't think father will have any problems. He has been one of your supporters for quite a few years now; I think it happened when you changed Neji at the Chunin exams."
"It wasn't that I was trying to change him so much as I was trying to get him to get out of his fate complex and help himself. I'm glad I was able to help him though. If there's one thing I've learned in my life is that things like Fate and Destiny do happen, but it's up to you to change it...nothing is truly set in stone. I'm kind of living proof of that. I was born to become a living sacrifice and for a long time, I really thought I'd end up being alone the rest of my life."
"When I was a kid it was so hard, I spent so many years not knowing or understanding why I was hated so much. To be honest...I used to cry myself to sleep most nights until I finally got tired of it, crying never helped. I guess you could call it stubborn nature, I decided if fate was going to bite me in the ass then I was gonna bite back harder, simple as that. Then on my training trip, I was forced to look deeper, I had to make a choice to either remain a child or to grow up and accept that some things wouldn't change. So I grew up and decided that even if some things never changed, I wouldn't let it get in the way of my purpose or duty." Naruto explained.
Hinata felt another wave of admiration flow through her and then a question she'd been pondering for a while presented itself.
"Naruto-kun...how or why did you choose to become a Hanyou? I've been wondering for a while now." She asked.
Naruto shrugged. "I pretty much told you guys that a while back. Truth is though, it would have happened no matter what due to the way the seal was. I just decided to make it happen sooner since time wasn't exactly a luxury we have in our lifestyles. I wasn't dumb enough to think that the Akatsuki or Sasuke would just wait around until the seal did its job slowly so Ero-sennin and I decided it would be better sooner than later. That and assimilating the Fox-teme's powers and chakra would ruin Akatsuki's plans since extracting a Biju from a Hanyou is impossible and since I started off human instead of a demon I gain a few perks, even once I become a full demon I will still have traces of human in me, just enough to mess up any demonic containment jutsu they have. It also gives me an edge over the Sharingan since it can nullify demonic chakra. No matter what, I will always have my human chakra stores so I guess you could call the whole thing planning ahead. I knew what I was sacrificing but it was better than the alternatives."
"I agree." Hinata said snuggling into him. "I don't know what I would have done...if...if their plans would have come through and I lost you." She whispered.
Naruto sighed. "You're a strong woman, Hinata-chan. It would have hurt for a while, but I know you would have had the strength to go on with your life. Besides...that's pointless speculation now, Akatsuki is powerful, but so am I and I promise you, I will always be here for you so don't worry about things that won't happen anymore." He said giving her a comforting squeeze.
She gave him a small smile but couldn't help but worry in her mind. It was true that he was powerful...damn near god-like to be honest, but even a god can fall. That was why she vowed silently to do her best to protect him...she may not be as powerful as he is or have the advantage of being a Hanyou but she wouldn't let that stop her...not when she'd finally gotten him. Besides...she was sure she'd have help in the form of her female friends and together they all could protect him just as he protects them.
Deep within the realm of the summons a large elderly and wizened looking toad sat upon his rocky throne, he was known as Gamasennin. Next to him was the Toad Summon Boss, Gamabunta.
The ancient sage opened his eyes. "It has begun." Gamasennin said softly.
Gamabunta looked at him and exhaled smoke from his nostrils.
"So...the brats finally coming around then?" He asked.
Gamasennin nodded as he stroked his long beard. "Indeed my boy, the sacred element is stirring within him and awakening ever so slowly. The ladies in him life...six of them to be precise, are the keys. His heart is the lock. Once fully opened the radiance of the sacred element...love, will shine fourth and give birth to a new Guardian. But unlike the previous Guardians...this one will be both Demonic and Devine...a light beyond greatest brilliance, darkness beyond blackest pitch...joined together to form a Shadow beyond the Dawn and Dusk. It will just be a matter of time now and left up to him...Naruto...will you embrace your true destiny or will you deny yourself?" Gamasennin said cryptically.
"I have faith in the kid; he's a lot like his father and his mother. If there's anyone out there that can accomplish this miracle you speak of...it's Naruto Namikaze." Gamabunta assured the elder sage.
"For all our sakes...I hope you are correct my child. Even now, the evils conspire against him and will do all in their power to keep him from obtaining his true full potential. It is not written in stone and even I cannot know what the future will hold but so long as the sacred element is within him and stirring...there is hope." Gamasennin stated.
Gamabunta frowned. "What do you see, old one...what else haven't you told me?" He asked.
"A great evil is also stirring, feeding off of the excess taint in the mortal realm. It's power once sealed by the Nine Guardians. The seal has grown weak due to the loss of the guardians when they became the tailed ones. For now, the tainted one still sleeps but that could change...I do not know if it will awaken or not, but the only one who could stand against it is our young friend." Gamasennin said.
"You...you don't mean..." Gamabunta trailed off.
The elder nodded. "Yes, my child...the lord of Anarchy and Chaos...Kain the Destroyer. Should, Kain awaken and break from the seal, only young Naruto Namikaze with his unique devine and demonic power could ever hope to defeat Kain."
"B-but that's impossible Elder Sage!" Gamabunta yelled. "Kain is unbeatable! It took all nine of the Biju to seal Kain away in the Abyss. If Naruto was to fight him...even with his unique power...it would destroy both! Naruto would burn through his own soul destroying that bastard!"
"Perhaps..." Gamasennin trailed off as he closed his eyes. "But in the end...sometimes sacrifices must be made for the better of all. Naruto understands this and he will know what to do should the situation ever arise. But as I have said, nothing is written in stone..." The elder sage fell into a deep sleep trance.
Gamabunta shook his head. "Kid...I really hope if you ever face Kain...you can once again cheat the fates and make the impossible...possible. If not...I will have lost yet another worthy summoner and friend."
Disclaimer : I do not own Naruto