The Art of Living and Loving

Aniecä Sophistica

A/N: I don't know where this story is going. This fic starts today, March 28, 2007 (Sakura's Birthday) and it ends when I feel it has been completed. I have no ideas but one to start out on. I have made no plans, and I will just write. This is my first story where I start with nothing and most definitely, it will eventually turn into something. Here we begin. Starting Quote: "What tries to destroy us, but fails, makes us stronger." Now, I begin. ∆ (Location) ∆ - ¤ (Time Advance) ¤ - Φ (Viewpoint) Φ - Ж (Flashback) Ж

Disclaimer: I own only this ideology, plotline and OC's which I'm not sure if there are yet. I don't own Naruto. Someone else does, Masashi Kishimoto. Started: 3/28/07 10:20

- ◊ (1: Mission: Return Naruto) ◊ -

∆ (Konoha) ∆ - ¤ (Six years after Sasuke Departs) ¤ - Φ (Hyuuga Hinata) Φ :: My story, be warned.

I walk down the street, my indigo hair flies in the wind. It's been like this for maybe five years now. I'm Hyuuga Hinata, newly and finally accepted heir of the great Hyuuga Clan. I have my cousin, Neji, to thank for my acceptance. He and I trained hard for the last few years daily for 12 hours to get me accepted and I wouldn't blow that for the world. I did thank him, and I did, that's why he's free from his seal. If only I could do more for him, but I can't, not yet. I don't have that much power, only our Hokage does, she is too bothered with the disappearance of our ninjas six years ago to worry with our clan problems now. Anyway, it's my job, not hers. I'm in power so I have to deal with this. It is who I am, now at least.

"Hinata-sama." A voice called into my office. I looked up from my book to meet the eyes of another Hyuuga, a BRANCH member, called.

"Yes?"

"The hokage calls for you." I got up and went off to her office. Arriving swiftly.

"It's been a while Hyuuga-sama." She called me with a smile on her face.

"Hinata is fine, but yeah, since I finished training under you, Shizune, and Neji. I became good enough to be accepted by my clan, and become heir, as I wanted. That's been almost what? Three years ago?" I asked her.

"Yes, it has. I'm sure you remember them. Those who left and disappeared, right?"

"Hai, He (hope you can guess who) and… Naruto…-kun."

"I thought you stopped stuttering?" She asked me. I had long ago stopped stuttering, well only four years ago. I'm 17, I don't stutter! I wanted to yell, but I had to remain calm.

"It's been awhile." She nodded. "So what's this about?" I asked.

"You've been told to have an arranged marriage." I was choking on the air. "Kidding, well… I need you to bring back Naruto. He's been gone three years in search of you know who (not Voldemort, Orochimaru), but not any longer. He won't return without him but you have to take care of him, all you have to do is bring him back."

"A mission? What about…?"

"Neji is taking over your clan. I already talked to your father. He understands that this mission requires one who knows him."

"And the others?" Hinata questioned.

"It's difficult and none of them are going to be able to find Naruto, track him and capture him to return him like you, as a Hyuuga, can. This has nothing to do with the past, only about you as a Hyuuga Ninja. Do you understand?"

"Hai." I replied. "However I have to ask. Where do you think he is, time frame, as well as any other valuable information?"

She handed me a file. "This is all the information we have gathered about him before and during his absence. That's all we have about it. It's not a big mission, just retrieval. You have as long as you need, but we need him back, understood. I hate to say it, but you are not to return without him."

"Failure is not an option." I said. "It never should be." She smiled.

"I'm glad that you've bettered yourself Hinata but you may have to face the difference between your past and presence when you see him again. Be aware of that."

"I can handle it. Naruto… -kun should be easy to return."

"Don't be so sure."

"I'll be back, soon." I said returning to my office picking anything I need. Neji walked in. "Yes?" I asked him. He stood there watching me as I carefully gathered my things. He was nearly 20 years old now, it's been six years since He left and everyone has changed. Everyone. Even Sakura. Not as much as would be best for her, but still quite a lot. She holds much hostility against Him. I guess that's why we're stopping Naruto from bringing him back.

"I'm just observing. Hinata-sama." I twitched.

"You don't have to call me that." I replied.

"I know, but I should. It's respectful. You know I'd bring a few particular items with you on your way there."

"What and why?" I asked Nii-san.

"Ramen, because he hasn't had ramen in three years and a few items and pictures. I'm sure he'll ask about everyone, and most likely, especially about you, Sakura and the changes that have happened in the last three years. Three years is a long time to be gone. He might not recognize you. He barely did last time and you know. You barely changed compared to the three years he was gone this time. You're a mature adult now Hinata."

"Yeah, which means that I could be getting married soon?" I said in a depressed tone.

"If anyone can beat you that is. I'll make sure that doesn't happen. For you."

"Thank you but most likely it will start when I return, so… I will train as I travel onward. I'm sure you can tell me what to improve on."

"I'm not sure. Keep up with your skills and don't digress. It won't help you." He warned.

"Yes Nii-san. Bye." I said hugging him and running out.

I headed quickly to the location that Tsunade-sama had described. The outskirts of Sound. Orochimaru was still there, and so was Sasuke. Why Naruto had not returned was not listed, but they know he has not been captured and is in fine condition. No images were included in the profile except those of three years ago which won't help me find him. Especially if he's under cover, or in hiding. I sighed, but my Byakugan would know him and that chakra signature anywhere. I would find him. I would return.

∆ (Konoha, again) ∆ - ¤ (Shortly after she leaves) ¤ - Φ (Free) Φ

"So, you're going to go get him?" Kakashi asked. "With two of my team gone and one listed as a med-Nin and not a ninja I don't have a team. What good will Naruto do? Even if he were back?"

"He's a Konoha ninja Kakashi. He needs to return if he's not having success no matter what he wants to do while he's there."

"So why her and not Neji?"

"I think some of the reason why Naruto doesn't wish to return is to face Sakura. If you haven't noticed, Hinata has been very helpful to Sakura in later years, even though Hinata trains very hard with Neji, her father, and by herself. Hinata knows how Sakura feels. Naruto thinks that he can't return without Sasuke."

"I don't think that's it." Kakashi replied.

"What else do you think it could be?"

"I think you want her to bring back Sasuke."

"Maybe I do. Sakura would do better if he returned. Sulking and hating someone she still loves deeply will cause many problems so it is best that she move on, when he returns. He'll need her."

"So why Hinata?"

"I think Naruto is smarter than he was when he was 12."

"Are you talking about her feelings? I think…"

"She blushes pinkish if you mention him. She avoids him in conversations and when it requires her to say his name, she stutters."

"Wow, impressive, you know her even though she's not around much. I still don't think that he'll notice her now even less obvious affection." Kakashi said.

"You never know. I don't think Naruto is as stupid or oblivious as he once was. I think he'll notice what were going on in the past more then the current but that's enough, I think."

"So you're trying to set them up?"

"No. I really do need Naruto back here. If saving Hinata from ending up with some horrible clan dominant and having Sasuke back and Sakura happier are possibly going to result from that. I think it's worth it. Either way, I get the real mission of Naruto returning to Konoha done. I set no time limit so if opportunity comes knocking, I think she'd do it." Tsunade said.

"That's ridiculous, even by my standards."

"You've read Jiraiya's books and that's even more ridiculous." Tsunade said shaking her head. "Three years to retrieve someone."

"You think it will take her that long?"

"A year, the very most." Tsunade said. "That is… if all the things I said happen like I say they do. It starts today, on Sakura's birthday. Her increased speed should get her there about… let's say midnight."

"How is that of any importance?" Kakashi asked.

"Well while we're here celebrating with her, don't you think our strict friendly person in Sound is doing the same?"

"You think that he'll miss Sakura when he realizes it's her birthday. I don't think he'll remember because he never used to. Someone else would always say it then he'd run off to get a present."

"I think time has changed him." Tsunade said.

"I hope you're right. I think that if he hasn't changed since then, it would be quite difficult to deal with him. At least in Hinata's situation there."

"Yes I agree. However, with her new behavior I'm sure she can handle anything that he throws at her. Neji did some assistance with Hinata as well. I noticed she had the distinct scent of ramen on her, a lot of it."

"You don't think?" Kakashi asked.

"I think she was told by Neji, to bring her some. I know that Naruto is going to be appreciative of the homemade meals she is going to bring to him, especially when everyone knows her skills as a female are just equal, if not more to her ninja skills."

"You are such a busy body, Tsunade." Kakashi said shaking his head.

"And you aren't? You came here didn't you? I didn't call you." Tsunade replied.

"Whatever, come on we have a birthday to attend to." Kakashi said, disappearing to go buy Sakura a gift. Sakura definitely didn't like her birthday much. It reminded her of Sasuke. She would most likely cry, as she used to cry. Ever since the day he left, she doesn't cry anymore, she's become harsh to the outside world.

Kakashi arrived in her apartment. "Hinata stopped by Kakashi-sensei. She too is leaving for quite a long while. I can tell. What I don't know is why she would bring so much ramen with her there?"

"There's no ramen where she's going."

"And that is?" Sakura asked.

"To return with Naruto, maybe Sasuke but definitely if Naruto misses anything, its ramen. Even with her Byakugan, Naruto's nose will find the ramen before Hinata can find him. Naruto's senses definitely miss ramen, most likely." Sakura made a faint laughing sound.

"What's going on there?"

"She's bringing Naruto back. Do you want Sasuke back? We can always catch up to her and…"

"Sasuke-kun returning… would make me happy." Sakura said with tears running down her face. "Yes, it would."

"Sakura, you're crying."

"Even a slight chance I may see him again. That is enough to make me happy enough to cry. Isn't that silly, six years since he left, and I haven't cried since then. Sasuke, I'll get you for doing this to me. I've only ever cried when you got hurt, or hurt me. I've been fine, since then. I wanted to stay like that. Excuse me." She said going into another room as everyone gathered in her house.

She sat in her room. "Sakura, may I come in?" Ino asked at her friend's door.

"Of course Ino-pig." She had kept that silly name since then too. Even though she was harsh to the world, some things remained habits for Sakura.

"Um… Hinata is… on a mission according to Shikamaru."

"Yes, I'm aware. They'll bring back Sasuke."

"You are aware that's not the mission." Sakura turned to her friend.

"It… isn't?" Ino shook her head. She would rather not break her friend's spirit since it hasn't been so hopeful for three years, when she heard Naruto returned, for a day, she thought it meant with Sasuke. She had not been told it was just for training. She remembered the day clearly.

Ж (Flashback) Ж - ¤ (Three Years Earlier) ¤

Sakura was sitting in the hospital and then Ino rushed in as the patient she had been working with, left. "Sakura, guess what?"

"I don't know. What?"

"Naruto is coming back."

"Naru…to." Sakura had to focus her thoughts. Her teammate, where had he been? … To get Sasuke? Sasuke! "Sasuke-kun… is coming; Naruto… is getting him."

"Um… Sakura." Sakura began to ignore Ino again. Ino shrugged. "I don't think he would return with Sasuke after three years. He should have succeeded earlier. It's unlikely." Ino said, hoping that her words to her friend hadn't fallen on death ears, as it had seemed.

¤ (A Week Later) ¤

Sakura waited at the gates. Ino had returned to tell her today is the day. Sakura would be the first to see her friends and teammates again. She hadn't left that spot. She stared blankly at the gate. "Hurry." She mumbled.

She eventually, extremely late that day heard sounds. "Sakura, you're here to greet me? Wow, that's nice of you. You shouldn't have slept here, you could have been attacked."

"Naruto, where's Sasuke?" Sakura asked him, with blank eyes.

"I was training with Ero-sensei."

"Eh?" Sakura asked.

"I wasn't going to get Sasuke. Ero-sensei wouldn't let me go get him. I will in another week, promise. I just finished my three years of training."

"Oh." She walked over to her friend and hugged him. Nevertheless, her heart wasn't there, it was with Sasuke… still. "Welcome back. I'm tired."

"Alright Sakura-chan. Good-night. We'll train together, okay?"

"No Naruto. I am a med-Nin now. Without a team that's all I could do. Maybe on my day off. Say hello to Kakashi-sensei when you go to train, alright?"

"Okay Sakura-chan. Bye." She nodded and walked off heartlessly. Naruto's heart fell, seeing his friend like that. He blamed himself. Therefore, when Sakura woke up the next morning, Naruto was gone. He visited his friends and said good-bye before Sakura could even get up. She knew where he was going but she doubted that he'd come back for a while. If he did, it wouldn't be with Sasuke.

Ж (Flashback Over) Ж - ¤ (Three Years Later) ¤

Sakura didn't want her hopes up so she could be hurt like that again. She however had hope in Hinata and Naruto. Working together, with all the strength their together efforts brought, would bring them success. She hoped, at least.

Ino sat down. "Hinata's mission is to bring Naruto back to Konoha. She had no orders to do with Sasuke if that situation comes up. I think that she would bring him back, if she at all could."

"What if she thinks I don't want him back?" Sakura asked.

"He's still a village member. Our responsibility to capture and punish him, like his brother. We are in charge of…" Ino stopped herself.

"They can't kill him. Can they?" Sakura asked desperately to her friend.

"Maybe not, maybe if he kills Orochimaru and Itachi, which is unlikely, he'll be seen as a hero and then allowed to return but… it would be dangerous if he would return for no reason without any means. Like if, Hinata and Naruto brought him back. He'd be trailed as a criminal Sakura. That's what he is."

"But… he's the last Uchiha. They can't."

"You're right, him being the last means they can't honestly, in the right mind kill him, but that doesn't mean his life wouldn't be miserable."

"I understand. I just don't want him dead and his clan completely exterminated. His clan doesn't deserve that."

"They also don't deserve two traitors that are both trying to kill each other as the only remaining members. In my opinion, the only heir that we'll get from his is after he dies."

"Huh?"

"There is no way that he's going to get stronger than Itachi at this pace. Orochimaru is weakening him, not strengthening him Sakura. If he got married, Itachi would come back and kill Sasuke for being weak and his wife…" Sakura cried. Ino hand long ago lost interest in Sasuke. She understood the bitter truth of the situation. Something Sakura always had known, but agreed to when she decided to love him no matter what.

"Sakura wouldn't let that happen." A voice said. "It's troublesome to upset her further Ino. She knows the truth of the matter beyond what you do. Let her be." Shikamaru said walking out of the room. Ino looked to her friend, and left behind Shikamaru.

After a while, Sakura came out and everyone happily, besides the birthday girl, celebrated her birthday. They all tried desperately to cheer her up but nothing worked. The best present of all to get Sakura, was Sasuke. Her beloved lost Sasuke.

Sakura excused herself to sit on the balcony and Tenten stepped out with her. Usually Hinata was the one by her friend's side at moments like these. Hinata was logical and knew exactly what to say to neither upset of give false to Sakura. Tenten was usually to busy with training alongside Neji to deal with Sakura but Hinata had made preparations.

Ж (Flashback) Ж - ¤ (Hours Earlier) ¤

Hinata arrived at the training area. After she finished packing, she had known Neji to be with Tenten training. He always was. They were always together. She showed up in a gust of leaves. "When I'm gone, can I ask you two a favor?"

"Hai Hinata-sama." Neji replied to his cousin.

"Of course Hinata." Tenten replied, more casual.

"Nii-san, as requested. I'd like it if you could please take care of the clan while I'm absent."

"Of course." He said.

"I'll help him as well." Tenten offered.

"Also Tenten, I ask you that if… during the times when Sakura needs logical counseling and advice; could you assist her in that. I know it's a bit more than I usually ask of you both but I want everything to continue as normal while I'm gone. Moreover, you are whom I need to help me to do this." They both nodded, accepting it. "Arigato Nii-san, you too Tenten. Bye, be back as soon as I can."

"Don't rush and do your best." Tenten said waving. Neji nodded as Hinata jumped into the forest leaving on her mission. It was a short visit but they wouldn't let anything happen while she was gone. She would expect things to continue without her. She saw herself as unimportant and wanted success with, or without her. It was a common thought shared among all people.

Ж (Flashback) Ж

"Tenten, do you need something?" Sakura asked.

"Hinata asked me to help you out, in her absence. I hope I can be as kind and helpful as she is to you. I don't do this much so you have to excuse my mistakes." Sakura sighed.

"I don't need anything." Sakura replied bitterly.

"Sure you do. You need the truth, but in a way, that it won't hurt you. Hinata is going to find Naruto and if Naruto will only return after finding Sasuke and bring him, and Hinata is determined not to mess up ever… what would she do?"

"Get Sasuke-kun?" Sakura questioned.

"Exactly. I'm not sure if that's how it will be but most likely Naruto is waiting for Sasuke to be weak enough to capture and bring back but this will save him work. Everyone knows how much stronger Hinata has become since six years ago. She and Naruto, they can do it, I know it."

"You really think so?" Sakura asked, with a slight bit of hope in her eyes, and deep in her soul.

"Yeah and if Hinata starts getting ahead of him, I think Sasuke will realize what Orochimaru's done to him, and then… he'll return so he can be helped to get stronger again, and not weakened. I think he will. I hope so."

"Hope, I miss having hope Tenten." Sakura said staring at the beautiful Sakura leaves that were resting on the trees outside her home.

"I'm sure you do. I know I miss hope as well." Tenten said.

"What do you hope for?"

"Another day better, stronger, happier and easier, hoping those things will be given to me or happen to me; isn't very useful because only I myself can bring those things to me." Tenten answered Sakura.

"Hinata… she's strong but strong enough?" Sakura question.

"Hinata is like Naruto now. She used his philosophies or 'nindo' after all. She is not giving up, never giving up, always being better and look how much she's improved. She's the Hyuuga Heir again and can beat anyone, and is, if I do say myself, a match for Neji. With two people like that, Sasuke, in his weakened state is going to be easily manipulated. Especially with the information that Hinata has. You have hope again." Tenten said with a smile while looking deep into

"Sasuke must return."

"He will… one day. Let's just hope… its one day soon." Tenten said smiling. She felt she had done successfully what Hinata had requested her to do. Now just to keep it up until Hinata returned. Everyday would come with problems and trials Tenten knew, but they'd get through it. Hinata had to succeed, and hurry at the same time.