Falling For Team 8
Summary: Team 8 and Naruto are sent out to protect a wealthy lord and his family, not expecting to find romance along the way. Kiba meets his match, Shino finds himself unexpectedly falling in love, and Hinata has seemingly gained the romantic interest of a handsome swordsman. But what happens when Naruto finally begins to notice her as well?
Hello Readers! This fic can be seen as AU (Alternate Universe) as I'm making it so that the Pain Invasion arc did not happen, so Hinata has not confessed her love to Naruto. I know, I know, how could I do such a thing? But this story does not work if I follow canon. So in the world of this fic, Naruto and the gang have defeated Nagato and Akatsuki, Tobi/Madara/whatever, and all of those other villains. Oh, and they also brought Sasuke back (although, I don't think he'll appear in this fic). I just wanted to get everything out of the way so that Naruto would have no obstacles in his way while he's falling for Hinata. Well, except for the obstacle that comes in the form of my original character (Hey, I have to have some conflict and plot; otherwise I wouldn't have a story). Also, the gang's about 18-19 years old.
Damn, this intro is long. Let's get on with the story!
Chapter 1: The Twins and a New Mission
The Fifth Hokage, Lady Tsunade, sat in her office reading a scroll just delivered by the two youths, one male the other female, standing in front of her desk. They were twins, both with dark brown hair and green eyes. The male was a few inches taller than his sister. His dark hair was long, but it was tied at the base of his skull in a ponytail. A long katana was strapped to his side, the hilt showing signs of wear. He stood with a stoic air about him, patiently waiting for the Hokage to finish reading their request for aid. His sister, on the other hand, while waiting as patiently as her brother, showed signs of eager expectance in her green eyes. Her hair was twisted up into a single bun held together by a pair of metal chopsticks with her bangs framing her round face. She too had a katana, but hers hung behind her back in its sheath.
Tsunade finally put the scroll down and looked up at her two visitors. "We accept," she told them. "We'll take on your mission."
The sister let out a breath of relief she had not realized she was holding in while her brother just nodded and said, "Thank you, Lady Hokage."
His sister opened her mouth to express her thanks as well, but her stomach let out a loud rumble instead. She clapped her hands over her belly, her face growing red with embarrassment. "Forgive me, Lady Hokage. I do not mean any disrespect."
Tsunade held up a hand to stop her from going on. "It's quite all right," she told the girl. "When was the last time you two ate?"
"Last night, my Lady," the brother said.
"But it's nearly noon!" Shizune cried out at the lack of self-consideration the pair before her had for themselves.
The sister gave an exaggerated shrug and said, "My brother here insisted that getting the message to the Hokage was our first priority. Never mind the fact that both of us are about to pass out from starvation."
The brother shot his sister a glare, which she only shrugged off, before turning back to face the Hokage. "She is exaggerating," he said, but right when he said it, his stomach let out a loud growl as well. His sister started to chuckle which earned her another glare.
Tsunade smiled at the exchange between the two siblings. Their relationship somewhat reminded her of her little brother, Nawaki.
"It will take a while for us to get things ready in order to assist you. Go grab a bite to eat and get some rest. Come back tomorrow morning and we should have a team ready for you," Tsunade told them.
The two siblings nodded and bid their farewell, bowing before moving to leave the room. Shizune picked up the scroll and did a quick read-through of its contents. "It looks like this mission will require a team specializing in information gathering and investigation," she said.
Tsunade nodded in agreement. "But this is ultimately a guarding mission. They will need a powerhouse ninja who is strong and dependable," she said as she began looking through shinobi profiles.
"Who will we send out?"
"Isn't it obvious?" Tsunade pulled out Team 8's profiles and placed them on the table. "As for the powerhouse, I think Naruto will do nicely," she said, placing Naruto's profile sheet next to that of Hinata Hyuga.
Hinata Hyuga ran her hairbrush through her dark locks in a few final strokes before setting it down upon her vanity table. She looked up at her reflection in the mirror, her light lavender eyes staring back at her. There was a knock just outside her door.
Hinata straightened her posture as she turned towards the door. "Come in."
The door slid open revealing a branch family member. Hinata offered him a kind smile. "Have Kiba and Shino arrived?" she asked. Team 8 had made plans to have lunch together that day.
"Yes, they have, but that is not the reason why I am here, milady," he told her. "You're father has called for a meeting which requires your presence, Lady Hinata."
Hinata's eyes widened with surprise. "Oh! Oh, okay. Please tell my father that I will be there shortly. I just need to tell my teammates that I won't be joining them."
The branch member nodded, bowed, and left to relay the message. Hinata walked out of her bedroom, sliding the door behind her, and made her way to the entrance of the Hyuga compound. While she walked, she wondered what the meeting was going to be about and why her father and the elder clan members would need her present. Even as the Hyuga clan heiress, they had never required her at these meetings before. But she was of age now. Perhaps her father was finally going to prepare her for her future as the head of the clan. The thought kind of excited her.
But what if they had decided to pass her over as heiress due to her lack of strength and skill?
That thought stopped Hinata in her tracks. What if they were kicking her out of the family altogether? She clutched her hands to her chest, over her heart, as it began to ache. She had been training and working so hard to live up to the Hyuga standards. Was it all just a waste of time?
Hinata furiously shook her head. No, it wasn't. She was pleased with the amount of progress she had made over the years. Then her mind wandered to the very reason, her inspiration, she worked so hard to become stronger and better herself. Naruto. Hinata perked up at the thought of him, a slight blush forming on her cheeks. If Naruto was in her position he would face the clan, head held high, ready to take on anything they would throw at him. She should do the same. Whatever issue the clan had with her, Hinata decided that she will face it head on, despite her fears and insecurities, and she continued walking.
Hinata finally reached the entrance and saw her beloved teammates who were also her dearest and best friends. There was Kiba with his wild brown hair sticking up and the trademark Inuzuka tattoos on his face. Akamaru, Kiba's large white dog and most loyal companion, was right by his side as usual. His large tail started wagging at the sight of Hinata. And there was Shino, tall and mysterious, wearing his usual dark shades and large coat with the hood pulled up.
"It's about time!" Kiba said as she walked up to them. "Let's go and grab lunch! I'm starving!" Akamaru barked in agreement.
Hinata gave them an apologetic smile. "I'm afraid I can't go with you guys. My father has called a meeting that I must attend."
"Is everything all right?" Shino asked.
"Yes, I think," Hinata said, but she was not entirely sure, and her uncertainty could be heard in the quiver of her voice. "Go on without me. I'll catch up with you guys later."
Kiba let out a sigh. "All right, but don't let your dad give you a hard time, Hinata."
She gave him a reassuring smile. "I'll be fine."
Shino and Kiba exchanged a look, but they nodded, and Hinata saw them off before heading back inside. She made her way to the Hyuga family dojo where most meetings were held. Inside her father and some of the main house members and elders were already talking. Hiashi was the first to notice her arrival.
"Hinata, please have a seat," he said, motioning to a spot near him.
"Thank you Father," Hinata said and took the spot he motioned to. She bowed her head at everyone else in acknowledgement.
"Now that you are here we can officially begin. As you know, Hinata, you are of age now, and as the next in line in becoming clan head, there are certain duties that you must do," Hiashi told her.
Hinata nodded for him to continue, but she resisted the urge to wring her hands or bite her bottom lip in nervousness. Okay, so they weren't kicking her out, but she wasn't sure she liked the tone and direction the conversation was going in.
Hiashi continued, oblivious to his daughter's nervous state. "And one of those duties is marriage."
"Do you think everything's all right with Hinata and her family?" Kiba asked his teammate as they walked together towards the Ichiraku Ramen stand.
Shino glanced at his friend and said, "I do not know. Either way, the matter is between Hinata and her clan."
Kiba frowned. "Yeah, but you know how her clan is sometimes. Hinata shouldn't have to deal with that kind of stuff."
"I agree," Shino said. "So if Hinata requires our support or assistance, we will give it to her as friends and teammates should."
Kiba gave a snorting laugh. "Of course we will, and Hinata will be all like 'Oh, I don't want to be a burden to you,' but we'll still help her anyway. Right, Akamaru?"
The large dog gave a loud bark in agreement. The three of them continued on to the ramen stand where they found Ichiraku's most loyal customer, Naruto Uzumaki, slurping up noodles like a vacuum.
Kiba rolled his eyes as he took the seat on Naruto's left while Shino took the right. "Geez Naruto," he said, "what, are you like on your tenth bowl already?"
Naruto managed to put his bowl and chopsticks down long enough to answer him with a wide sheepish grin. "Nah, I'm only on my fifth bowl," he told his friend.
"He just got here," Ayame said with a laugh as she continued her cooking.
Kiba and Shino put in their orders while Naruto finished up his fifth bowl and reached for the sixth bowl of ramen Ayame's father had just placed before him. He gave Team 8 a quick glance over and noticed one of them was missing.
"Hinata not with you guys today?" Naruto asked before he began inhaling his ramen noodles.
"She had clan business to attend to," Shino said.
A crease appeared between Naruto's eyes. He swallowed his food in a giant gulp and turned to the Bug Nin with a rather concerned look on his face. "Is everything okay?"
"I do not know," Shino told him. "She did not tell us anything."
Naruto nodded once and turned back to his noodles, but Shino could tell that the possibility of Hinata having problems bugged Naruto as he didn't slurp up his ramen with the same usual enthusiasm. Shino wondered if that was more meaningful than it seemed.
Just then a pair of voices was heard right outside the stand and Shino looked over his shoulder as two people pushed aside the cloth covering and stepped inside. The bug-nin found himself looking at the brightest pair of green eyes he had ever seen in his life. They seemed to glow like fireflies in the nighttime.
The owner of those eyes wore a smile on her face as she breathed in deeply, inhaling the scent of ramen and broth. "This place smells wonderful." Her companion, a male who looked to be her twin, gave a modest nod in agreement.
The girl took the open seat next to Shino while her twin took the one next to her. Ayame greeted them with a wide smile. "Welcome to Ichiraku! Are you guys from out of town? I don't believe I've seen you before."
The male answered, "Yes. We are here on business."
"Well, welcome to Ichiraku all the same," Teuchi said as he gave Naruto another bowl of ramen. "What will it be for the two of you?"
The girl perused the menu, her green eyes looking at every item listed. "I'm not sure." She glanced up and over at Shino, Kiba and Naruto. "What do you guys recommend?" she asked with a friendly smile.
"Everything," Naruto said with a grin.
"Like that's going to help her decide," Kiba said, rolling his eyes. "I usually get the beef ramen."
The girl turned to look at Shino, who hadn't given his opinion yet. "What about you?"
Shino felt her gaze reach down to the very pit of his stomach. It was rare for a girl his age, besides Hinata, to look at him with such a friendly and warm look. He suddenly felt hotter than his thick coat usually made him, causing him to use his bugs to readjust his body temperature.
"Miso," he finally said.
The girl nodded and gave one more glance back down at her menu. "I'll have one bowl of miso ramen, please," she said. Shino felt a small twinge of pleasure that she decided to go with his choice.
Her brother ended up ordering a bowl of beef ramen, and both Teuchi and Ayame set out to do more cooking, but they needed to wash some new bowls first since Naruto had about eight bowls of ramen already. The girl turned to the three ninja and introduced herself.
"My name is Hotaru," she introduced herself, "and this is my brother, Hiroki." Hiroki merely nodded at them.
Naruto grinned at both of them. "I'm Naruto Uzumaki!"
"Kiba Inuzuka," the Dog-nin said. He patted the top of his dog's head. "And this here is Akamaru."
"I am Shino Aburame," Shino told her when her glowing green gaze turned back to him.
Hotaru… Shino thought the name suited her in accordance with the earlier thought of her eyes being like fireflies when he first saw them.
"It's nice to meet all of you," Hotaru told them with a smile.
Hiroki motioned towards their headbands. "Are the three of you Konoha Leaf Ninja?" he asked.
Naruto tried glancing up at his headband but then turned a giant grin at the twins. "You bet we are!" he said proudly.
"You're looking at the best ninja in all of Konoha!" Kiba said, proclaiming himself.
Naruto scoffed when he said that. "You do remember that I beat you, don't you?"
"That was years ago! If we fought now, I would kick your ass," Kiba told him.
The two of them began arguing about who would win in a fight between them. Hotaru looked amused by it all and she leaned in towards Shino and whispered, "I bet you're stronger than both of them, aren't you?"
Shino calmly ate a bite of his ramen and swallowed before he answered her. "We each have our own different strengths," he told her, "but I will admit that I am stronger than both of them combined in certain areas."
Both Naruto and Kiba heard that remark and immediately halted their argument and turned on him.
"Stronger than both of us combined?" Naruto yelled in slight outrage.
"Shino, I know she's cute and all, but do you have to bring me down like that to make yourself look good in front of her? I'm your best friend, man!" Kiba protested.
Shino merely took another bite of ramen while Hotaru chuckled at the whole exchange. She turned to her brother and said, "They're kind of funny, aren't they?"
But Hiroki was frowning. "So much for the acclaimed Konoha Leaf Ninja," he said quietly to his sister, clearly not impressed with what he has seen. "I hope these three aren't on the team that is supposed to help us."
"Shhh," Hotaru said, trying to hush him, but Kiba heard him anyway.
"You guys are here with a mission proposition?" he asked them.
Hiroki quickly answered with an "It's none of your business" remark, but at the same time Hotaru told him, "Yes. We requested help from the Lady Hokage earlier." Hiroki shot her a quelling look, which she only returned.
Naruto scowled at Hiroki. "Geez, you don't have to be so rude about it. We were just asking."
Hiroki 'hmphed' at him and turned his head away. His sister frowned in disproval at her brother. The earlier friendly mood was completely ruined.
"My brother doesn't mean to offend," she said uncomfortably. She didn't know what else to say and so an awkward silence followed. Hotaru was immensely relieved when Ayame and Teuchi finally handed them their order of ramen. Quietly, she split her chopsticks and began mixing the noodles.
Hiroki brought a clump of noodles to his mouth and tasted it. Immediately he spat it out. "What's in this?"
"What do you mean?" Ayame asked him testily.
He wiped his mouth with the back of his hand. "It tastes awful. This has to be the worst thing I've ever tasted ever!"
"WHAT?" Naruto yelled in outrage. Rude behavior he could ignore, but an insult to his favorite ramen stand was a crime of the highest kind.
Kiba reacted quickly and grabbed Naruto from behind just as he was about to attack. He locked Naruto in place with a super hold, locking his arms with his own. "Calm down! It's just ramen!" Kiba yelled at him. Akamaru began barking loudly.
Naruto yelled and thrashed, trying to break free and ended up kicking the counter in the process. Hotaru yelped in surprise, and she, Shino and Hiroki jumped out of their seats as bowls of ramen were knocked over, broth and noodles spilling everywhere. At the same time, Ayame screamed and lunged at Hiroki, but Teuchi grabbed and held her back as well.
Hiroki's hands instinctively went to the hilt of his sword, but Hotaru grabbed his arm and shook her head at him. "Don't!" she told him and he relented.
"It's—probably—best—that—you—er—leave," Teuchi grunted out as he tried restraining his daughter. "Right now!"
"I'm so sorry!" Hotaru said emphatically. She then grabbed a hold of her brother's arm and pulled him out of the ramen stand.
Naruto broke free from Kiba's hold and elbowed him harshly in the gut, winding him. He then ran out the ramen stand, chasing after the twins. "Hey you! I'm not finished with you!"
Both Hiroki and Hotaru turned just in time to see a swarm of black bugs engulf the blond haired ninja, halting his charge towards them. Their shocked wide eyes followed the trail of bugs to Shino who was deftly commanding them.
"Go," Shino told them. "Naruto won't come after you."
Hiroki turned and began walking away, but Hotaru stayed behind for a moment, staring at Shino. The expression on her face was inscrutable. Shino couldn't tell what she was thinking.
"Thank you," she said suddenly, "and I'm sorry for all the trouble."
"It's all right," he told her. "Go."
Hotaru nodded and hurried to catch up with her brother. Shino kept his gaze on her as she walked further and further away. Just as she and Hiroki were about to turn a street corner, Hotaru looked back at him one more time. Shino had a strong feeling that this wouldn't be the last time he would see her.
Naruto was struggling in the swarm of bugs he was currently in. He hurled curses at Shino, yelling for him to let him go. Shino calmly carried him with his bugs back into the ramen stand where he roughly deposited him onto a stool. Teuchi had finally calmed Ayame down, but she was still steaming mad.
"I can't believe that guy!" she said furiously as she began cleaning up the spilled ramen. "Saying that our ramen was the worst thing he ever ate!"
Teuchi went to the unfinished bowl that Hiroki had been eating from. Surprisingly it was the only bowl not knocked over. He dipped his finger into the soup and tasted it. Teuchi grimaced. "It tastes a little like soap water. In the rush to get the food out we probably didn't rinse this bowl well before we poured the ramen in."
"It was just an honest mistake," Shino said. "So you can drop the matter, right Naruto?"
Naruto huffed and crossed his arms across his chest with a scowl on his face. "Hmph! That guy was still a jerk."
Hinata wandered the streets of Konoha languidly. The feeling of disbelief numbed her entire body, making her feel like a ghost.
The Hyuga family decided that it was time for Hinata to get married. They were now seeking out eligible suitors, someone that the Hyugas could keep under their thumb while still bringing some advantage or prestige to the family. It would be an arranged marriage; no, it was more like a business transaction. Hinata would be marrying a complete stranger.
During the meeting Hinata had wanted to cry out in protest, but it was as if the shock of it all made her lose her voice. She didn't want an arranged marriage. She wanted to marry the one she loved. In truth, she always knew that the likelihood that she would be with Naruto was slim, but she had always hoped. She had hoped so very much.
Hinata was so deep in her thoughts that she didn't hear the pair of voices that were just around the corner of the fence she was walking along.
"Did you have to act that way?" a female voice asked.
"Hmph, it's not likely we'll see any of those people again, so it doesn't matter," a male voice said.
Hinata crashed right into a solid chest as the pair turned the corner. She fell to the ground on her bottom, her hands bracing her fall.
"Oh! Look what you did, Hiroki!" the female exclaimed. "Are you all right, miss?"
"It was an accident, Hotaru," Hiroki said irritably. He extended his hand out to Hinata to help her up. "Excuse me miss, please forgive me for knocking you down."
"Oh, it's all right. I-I wasn't paying attention to my surroundings," Hinata said.
She finally looked up and found herself looking into a pair of deep piercing green eyes. At the sight of her face, Hiroki's breath seemed to catch. His mouth seemed to drop open slightly and he looked at her as if she was the most beautiful woman he had ever seen before. Hinata flushed slightly underneath his gaze. No one had ever looked at her that way before. Gently, she reached for his hand and he lifted her up easily.
"Thank you," Hinata told him.
"Please forgive me," he said again.
Hinata smiled at him. "It's fine." She dusted the dirt off her clothes. "I should be going, please excuse me," she said, even though she had no destination in mind. She didn't want to meet up with her teammates because they would sense something was wrong and ask her about it. Hinata really didn't want to deal with that at the moment.
Both Hiroki and Hotaru nodded at her, and Hinata began walking away. She felt Hiroki's gaze watching her back, making her flush so hard that she was glad that they couldn't see her face.
The next day Naruto was still in a foul mood. Whenever he thought about the previous day's events, it got him all riled up with anger. If he ever saw that Hiroki guy again, he was going to shove a Rasengan up his ass. But he would have to push all of that aside, because he now had a mission.
Naruto made his way to the Hokage's tower and found Hinata just climbing the first few steps of the stairs. His face brightened at the sight of his friend and he called out to her. "Hey Hinata!"
Hinata stopped and turned to look behind her. When she saw Naruto, she smiled. "Hello Naruto."
Naruto grinned brightly as he caught up with her on the stairs. "You got a mission summons too?" At her nod, Naruto excitedly exclaimed, "Hey, maybe we're on the same team this time!"
"Yes, maybe," Hinata said, still smiling.
Naruto felt what remained of his bad mood give way as he stared into Hinata's sweet smiling face. He soon found himself chatting to her companionably, making her laugh every now and then as they climbed the stairs together.
When they reached the top, they found Shino, Kiba and Akamaru waiting just outside Tsunade's office. Naruto felt his bad mood coming back. He was still a little peeved that the two of them had restrained him the other day. Naruto grunted in annoyance at the sight of them.
"You're not still mad about what happened yesterday, are you Naruto?" Kiba asked.
Hinata looked from her teammates to Naruto. "What happened yesterday?"
"A mishap at the Ichiraku Ramen stand," Shino told her. "Someone didn't find the food to his liking and Naruto…"
"Went ballistic!" Kiba finished for him.
"Oh shut up!" Naruto crossed his arms forcefully over his chest. "That guy was a big jerk about the whole thing."
"Yeah, but it was still just an accident," Kiba told him. He turned to Hinata. "There was soap water in the guy's ramen," he said in explanation, and then gave a sidelong glance towards Naruto. "…which was kind of Naruto's fault since he ate so many bowls of ramen and Teuchi and Ayame had to wash everything in a rush." That earned him a glare from the blond haired ninja.
"So it was just a misunderstanding," Hinata said. She looked at Naruto. "It isn't anything to get so worked up over, is it?"
Naruto slowly uncrossed his arms and let out a sigh. "I guess not."
At that moment, Shizune popped her head outside the office. "You guys can come in now."
The four of them and Akamaru lined up in front of Tsunade's desk.
"All right," Tsunade began. "I've called you all here because you are all needed for this mission. A wealthy lord and his family have become targets for assassination. I want the four of you to go guard them while investigating who the assassin or assassins might be."
"They do not have any clues as to the assassin's identity?" Shino asked.
"No, they need help with investigation," Tsunade told him. She looked to Shizune and nodded at her. At this prompt, Shizune walked over to Shino and handed him a file. "Shino, I want you to be captain of this squad for this mission. That file contains information gathered by the client's people. Hopefully it will help in your investigation."
"Yes Lady Hokage," Shino said. "We hope not to let you down.
Tsunade nodded at him. "The four of you will be accompanied by two of the lord's people as you make your way there. They will fill you in on the details of the mission and answer any questions you may have. Shizune, please let them in."
Shizune opened the door and two people stepped in. All four ninja turned around to see who their new partners were for this mission. Naruto's eyes bulged out in angry disbelief and he pointed a finger at them, or rather at a particular one of them.
"YOU!" Naruto yelled loudly.
Hiroki merely glared at him while his sister, Hotaru brought her palm up to her face.
"Oh dear," she said.
Review please? ^_^