It was a beautiful end to a beautiful afternoon. The setting sun over the mountains overlooking Konoha painted the skies in tones of red, yellow and purple. A light breeze wifed through the trees. Birds sang happily celebrating the end of another warm summer day.
Walking through a cobblestone path on a well known shortcut to her house though the forested area surrounding the training grounds, Sakura Haruno carried a heavy bag of groceries that she needed for supper. Her mom was on bed rest after a specially violent attack of her allergies.
When Sakura's mom and her went to visit Ino and her mom at the flower shop, she made it her mission to smell every type of flower in the room. Well, that's not a very smart thing to do when you're allergic to pollen. Sakura just sighed, the woman sometimes was worse than a five year old child, but at least she was funny. Sakura smiled a little, and then she felt it: a chakra signature so strong it made her shiver. Then she saw a tall blonde man jumping from one tree to another tree over the path at huge speeds pulling a young Hyuuga heiress behind him by her hand. She only saw them for a moment, if she were to blink she would have missed it. Gone with them was the chakra signature.
Sakura stood there in surprise and finally, after a few seconds, she just shrugged it off and started walking.
About time Hinata got over that knucklehead Naruto and started dating men.
It hit her, she looked back at the spot they had been instants before.
Tsunade was at her desk signing paperwork, as usual. This was the worse part of being Hokage: every single bit of paperwork that involved the village's treasury had to be personally approved by her. From repair work on the chicken coups they maintained to massive spiked steel strips ordered from the Land of Steel to reinforce their walls, every single thing had to be signed and stamped by her. This was due to a law remnant from distant times of corruption, so that no one could deviate funds from the treasury for their own profit. It made sense, she thought, but it also gave her one bitch of a headache.
She heard one muffled "Hi Shizune, long time no see huh? !" through her closed office doors.
Yes, there was only one thing that gave her a bigger headache than signing papers, and it was about to barge into her office.
The double doors swung open fiercely and banged into the walls they were attached to, one of them jumped clean off it's hinges and into the floor with a loud bang, leaving a stumped Naruto looking down at it, holding the Hyuuga heiress's hand as she hid behind his back with a stupefied Shizune in the background.
"Ups, guess I don't know my own strength baachan!" Naruto said as he grinned and scratched the back of his head.
"Na. Ru. To.." Said Tsunade as she gritted her teeth and hid her face in her hands. "Don't call me that!" She threw the candy bowl on her desk at him with all her might, but was surprised as he caught it long before it hit him, which was an impressive feat, to say the least.
"Naruto why didn't you report in earlier? Jiraya was here last night! I wouldn't mind if you reported in the morning but it's almost nighttime!" She screamed at him as she progressively got closer. Then she suddenly stopped and her face became calm. "And why did you bring Hinata with you?" The girl blushed but before she had a chance to answer Naruto did it for her:
"I ran into her last night and I thought I could use her as a human shield."
"Last night?" Tsunade got a bit angry again. "And what exactly have you two hormone-filled teens been doing since last night?"
"Uhh.. Ano.." Hinata blushed even more at the assumption that was made.
"None of your damn business baachan."
"What? None of my damn business? You know what would happen if it was discovered that you, practically my and Jiraya's protegé had been screwing around with the Hyuuga Clan heiress don't you? Hiashi would kill you, and then he would come to kill me, and I'd have to kick the shit out of him and loose command of a whole clan in the process!"
Hinata almost lost consciousness but recovered quickly as Naruto squeezed her hand.
"Woa baachan don't jump to conclusions! Sheesh! She just feinted, I don't know why, and I couldn't have just let her stay out in the cold, so I took her to my apartment! I set her down in the bed and I took the couch! Nothing happened!" Hinata nodded shyly behind him, practically hugging the arm that was holding her hand.
"But I bet you would LOOOOVE it if something happened.."
Naruto ignored the Demon Lord. "Ohh.. And by the way, Hiashi wouldn't do shit, I'd tear him limb from limb!" Naruto said as his eyes flashed red for a moment.
Tsunade definitely got a bit scarred, but she was quick at controlling her emotions. Hinata, who couldn't see his face, on the other hand was a bit curious at this new darker side of Naruto, but she just shrugged it off. It was Naruto after all, and Naruto was quick to defend anyone, even if her father was the threat.
"Oh.. Jiraya warned me about this. Can I see your.. Humm.." Tsunade pointed to her belly.
"Yeah of course you can." Naruto said as Tsunade got close to him and down on her knees.
"Hinata wait outside please." Tsunade asked, she didn't want to leave, but Hinata knew to do what the Hokage ordered. But as she was about to let go of Naruto he doubled the grip he had on her hand, Hinata, with a look of confusion on her face was about to ask Naruto why he didn't let go when he said:
"No. She stays." Now it was Tsunade's turn to sport the look of confusion.
"You sure?" She asked.
"Yeah she's already seen my se- my tatoo." Naruto smiled at Hinata. She didn't know what was going on and didn't like being kept in the dark, especially with things that concerned Naruto, but she just smiled back and stayed by his side.
"Okay then, strip." Tsunade ordered with a sadistic smile.
"Hey, I'm not the kind of guy that drops his pants on the first date baachan!" Naruto replied with a smile of his own, and Hinata just giggled.
Naruto unstrapped his katanas from his back and took off his robe, he then got behind Hinata, put the robe on her and strapped the katanas to her back. "Take good care of those for me would you?" Hinata nodded. She was loving this, Naruto trusted her, and now she was wearing his black robe that was enormous on her small frame, but comfy at the same time. That coupled with the smell coming from it sent her to cloud nine. She could do without the heavy steel blades on her back though, but she didn't mind having them there for Naruto.
Naruto then proceeded to take off his vest.
"Where did you get that by the way brat? We only give them to chunin and jonin." The Hokage asked.
"I inherited it baachan."
"Oh.." Was the single reply coming from her. Naruto was now removing the top part of his jumpsuit which unzipped in the front. As the zipper went down Hinata's face got redder and redder until it went all the way down, just under his belly button and then he removed his arms from within it, leaving the top part of the one pieced jumpsuit hanging as he exposed his torso. Both the women in the room now looked at the black marks on his navel.
Now that she got a closer look at the tatoo, Hinata recognized the marks. She was no Fuuinjutsu expert but she was sure that was a seal, or had once been. It was as if it was ripped in half, Naruto's tan skin crossed the black marks like a bolt of lighting rips apart the darkness of the night, nullifying their power. But what most intrigued Hinata was what the seal once contained.. And why.
"Hmm it seems as Jiraya described." Tsunade said as he got up. "You were very lucky Naruto. Hell, we were all lucky!"
"Damn straight you were.."
Naruto glanced at Hinata and then back at Tsunade. "Umm.. He seems to think the same."
"YOU CAN TALK TO HIM?" Tsunade exploded. Hinata unconsciously hid a bit from behind Naruto's back. Now she really wanted to know what was going on. She thought about asking them but decided against it, if the Hokage had a problem with her knowing she had her reasons for it, and it was never a good idea to defy the Hokage. I'll just ask Naruto-kun later..
"Yeah..?" Naruto said as if it where a widely known fact.
"Why didn't Jiraya tell me this?"
"Umm, yeah, he kinda doesn't know.."
"So Naruto, you didn't think this was something you needed to tell your master and your Hokage?"
"Umm.. What answer won't get my ass kicked?"
"BAKA!" Tsunade exclaimed as she made a fresh new lump on Naruto's head.
"Ouch! I didn't deserve that!"
"Consider yourself lucky! I sent your pervert sensei to the hospital!"
"You're really mean baachan."
"Umm.. Naruto-kun?" They both looked at the shy girl who was being left out of the conversation.
"Co-com-come here." Hinata said gathering all her courage, and gesturing with her arms reaching for his head. Naruto lowered it until Hinata gently grabbed it and pulled it down even more. Eventually she enclosed his head in a hug and kissed the freshly made lump. Then she quickly let go of him, redder than a tomato.
Naruto got up and seeing his questioning look Hinata just answered:
"I-I had to ki-kiss it better."
Naruto smiled widely with tears welling up in his eyes and brought her into a tight hug, making Hinata even redder from having her face against his naked chest. "Thanks Hinata, I mean it."
"You see kit? She cares."
"I know right? It's amazing!"
They stayed like that for several seconds until Tsunade blurted out laughing, then they both looked at her at the same time and said "What?"
"I- I'm sorry-" Tsunade said between giggles. "..it's just.. You two are so cute!"
They both smiled, blushed and let go of each other, this just made Tsunade laugh louder, but, eventually, the laughter died down.
"Ohh thanks you two, I haven't laughed like this since.. Well, since you went training baka!"
"I'm glad you can laugh at our expense baachan."
"Well, now I'm in a good mood Naruto! Tell you what, we'll have your debriefing tomorrow! Meanwhile why don't you take your new girlfriend out for dinner?"
"Wha-? She's not my girlfriend!"
"Why? Isn't she a girl? Who happens to be your friend..? So she's your girlfriend right?"
Naruto was looking back and forth between Tsunade and Hinata as they both seemed to expect something from him. He was very surprised when it was Hinata that said:
"Well? Wha-what is it Naruto-kun?"
"Uhh.. Well... Uhh.. Yeah.. You see.."
Ohh I'm gonna put him out of his misery. Thought Tsunade.
"Naruto you were on a training mission, but it was a mission nonetheless.. Which means you get paid." Tsunade sported an evil grin as she drew a very stuffed toad shaped wallet from behind her back and held it in her hand for Naruto to contemplate. And as she expected Naruto's eyes bulged out and his jaw dropped.
"If you want it, say it." Tsunade grinned.
"Hinatachan'smygirlfriend." Hinata almost passed out when she heard this, and couldn't keep a huge smile off her face, even if she knew that he did it for the money.
"Here." Tsunade tossed him the wallet. Naruto caught it and hugged it. The two women could have sworn they saw his pupils turning to dollar signs for a split second.
"Now get out of here you two, go have some dinner. And I'll see you tomorrow Naruto, I'll send someone to tell you the exact time."
"Okay baachan!" Naruto answered enthusiastically. He quickly dressed himself in his jumpsuit and his vest, but let Hinata hang on to his katanas and his robe as he grabbed her hand and pulled her out the door, or the hole in the wall that was supposed to contain a door. He then stopped and looked back. Answering Tsunade's questioning look he simply stated:
"Like father like son, like master like pupil." And jumped out the window dragging Hinata behind him.
Tsunade stood there looking at the window with her eye twitching. This kid is gonna be the end of me! It's another Jiraya! Wait.. Father? Ohh so he did find out. Tsunade just shrugged and now looked at the door on the floor.
"SHIZUNEEEE!" She screamed as she once again sat behind her desk.
"Yes Tsunade-sama? Ohh! Call the contractor again I guess?"
"Yes that's right.. And he had better give me a discount! He overcharged me for last night's Jiraya hole in the wall."
"Has Jiraya been cleared from the hospital yet?"
"I think so Tsunade-sama."
"Send for him, I have a job that requires his area of expertise. And bring me the strategical analysis that Shikamaru and his clan made, I need to have a look at his suggestions."
"Hai Hokage-sama!" Shizune quickly disappeared following her master's commands.
Those two would be perfect..
Naruto and Hinata calmly walked though the streets of konoha, it was now dark and the streetlights were on, lighting the dark night and giving the whole atmosphere a romantic feel. Naruto let go of Hinata's hand when they got to the street, but still walked very closely to her, and she still had his robe and katanas on her.
"So Hinata, where do you want to eat?" Naruto asked in a low tone of voice, which seemed very unusual for him, but Naruto now thought of the night as a time for seclusion, quiet. He was here with Hinata, this moment was theirs, so there was no reason to speak loudly, these words were meant just for her, and she seemed to pick up on this, smiling. Oh how he loved it when she smiled.
"I.. I d-don't know, Naruto-kun. Ano.. Y-you don't have to take me o-out i-if you d-don't want to." She answered him, in a quiet tone as well.
Naruto still didn't get it why she was so unsure about herself, but decided he should try to help. He got closer to her and put an arm around her shoulders, pulling her closer to him. Hinata blushed only slightly, after spending a whole day with Naruto she was getting accustomed to his presence. The colder night air helped too. Now free from her embarassment she was able to trully enjoy his company.
"Hinata, you don't have to be that way around me. I don't care about what baachan says, I'm taking you out because I wanted to and not be-"
"HEY HINATAAA!" Screamed an enthusiastical Kiba as he turned a corner from another street in front of them, accompanied by Akamaru and Shino. Enthusiastic, that is, until he completed the turn and Naruto came into his field of vision, with his arm over Hinata, then his face fell.
Everyone stopped and looked at the stupid expression in Kiba's face, even his companion Akamaru. After a few seconds he seemed to jump out of his state of trance, and drew a Kunai.
"Hey who the fuck are you and what are you doing to Hinata?" Somehow, Kiba's brain rationalized seeing Hinata smiling like she hadn't in years, being held by a handsome man, while being dressed in a cloak that obviously belonged to him into a threat to her integrity, but the human brain sometimes does this sort of thing.
Unconsciously Naruto moved slightly more between Kiba and Hinata, at the same time protecting her from a threat and affirming his dominance while never taking his arm off her shoulders.
"Wow wow Kiba, calm down, no one's doing anything to Hinata." Said Naruto as he held his free hand open in front of him, with Hinata nodding behind him.
"This is gonna get ugly kit.."
"Why would you accuse a fellow shinobi of something like this so quickly.. Kiba?" Added Shino.
"Fellow shinobi? What the fuck are you talking about Shino?" Asked Kiba retaining his offensive stance.
"That man is obviously Naruto, my insects recognize his scent. And even if you didn't recognize him, the hitaiate should at least tell you he is not an enemy. Hinata seemed to be enjoying herself too. Why? Because she was smiling."
"Thanks.. Umm.. Shino?" Naruto was having a hard time recognizing the bug user. "I guess mutt-boy here hasn't changed a lot in three years.."
"Shut your mouth Naruto! And let go of her!" Kiba screamed as he threw the kunai at Naruto's chest, aiming for his heart.
It was traveling so fast that it would have impacted, Hinata thought, so she moved as fast as she could, and delivered a powerful juuken open palm to the kunai in mid air, disintegrating it. She was proud of herself, she had saved the love of her life, or so she thought because when she looked at her back, she noticed one katana was missing from it's sheath, and before she could ask herself why, she noticed Naruto was behind Kiba holding it to his neck.
Shit, I didn't even see him move. Thought Kiba.
Akamaru was confused, he thought that fox-boy was master's friend like bug-boy and lavender girl, but here they were fighting. He decided to stay out of it until master really needed him.
"Kiba." Growled Naruto. "I don't know what the fuck your problem is with me, but I'm warning you, back the fuck down or you're dead." Kiba couldn't see his face now, and it was a good thing, because his eyes were blood red. Yes, he couldn't see his face, but everyone there could feel the evil intent radiating from him. It made Akamaru shiver, it made Shino's bugs restless, it made Kiba sweat like a pig.. And it made Hinata want to hug those feelings away. After a few tense moments, Naruto felt a small hand squeezing his free one, and like that he calmed down. Hinata was there for him.
"You're lucky I don't report this to the Hokage or Ibiki would have a field day, what you just did here is considered treason. Bye Akamaru, Shino." Naruto said as he put down his katana, leaving Kiba very relieved, and re-sheathed it on Hinata's back.
"Se-see you later Shino." Hinata said as she gently petted Akamaru, and then she walked away with Naruto, holding his hand, only looking back to cast Kiba one last quick look of disappointment.
"Hmm that girl has potential.." Said the Toad Sannin to himself as he observed Naruto and Hinata walking away, while hiding in a nearby tree.
He scribbled something in his notebook as the remaining group walked away in silence in the opposite direction. When he was finished, he stored the notebook inside of his robes and laid back on the tree, thinking.
Yes she has lots and lots of potential. He looked up to the dark sky through the tree canopy. I still think they're too young.. But circumstances make the rules.
He jumped down to the ground and started walking towards the Hokage Tower. Even if they don't make a good team.. She would still be great research material.
Jiraya suddenly stopped, remembering the time when the tried to 'research' Kushina and took a rasengan to the face.
Shit, why does he have to be so much like his father?
He took a detour having the intention of buying some sake to share between him and Tsunade.
Shino and Kiba walked in silence with Akamaru trailing behind them. The bug user was never one to talk and normally it was Kiba that had the job of maintaining a conversation, albeit one full of references to how 'cool' he was. Shino would then reply drawing attention to his massive ego, and to heal the blows that Shino did, Kiba would hit on Hinata, sometimes putting an arm over her, or reaching for her hand, saying something like 'Hinata thinks I'm cool, don't you?', but she would always reject his advances, and then retract inwards, finding some excuse to get away from them.
While she was away Shino would be disappointed in Kiba, and explained to him that Hinata didn't like him in that way, and that by doing this he was just driving a wedge between them. Kiba would state uncomfortably that Shino didn't know what Hinata felt like and that she would eventually come around, but he would take the hint, for some time at least, and when Hinata came back they were friends, talking and laughing, or in Hinata's case smiling a bit. But then Kiba started hitting on Hinata again.
Since they had to be a team, in order to save the bonds they shared and to continue trusting in each other, they were stuck in the "repeat as necessary" setting, because since Kiba wasn't about to change anytime soon, the alternative would be disbanding the group. When Kurenai-sensei was with them, she tried to help, but never got very far with Kiba. Even she was certain that this was the lesser of two evils and decided to stay out of their personal relationships.
Eventually, the dreaded started happening, six months after Naruto leaving, Hinata started training alone for two reasons, as far as Shino saw it: For one, she was getting sick and tired of Kiba's advances that didn't let her concentrate, and, her desire to best herself, to impress Naruto, was getting so strong that she started training far harder than any one of them.
Sometimes they would find her collapsed from exhaustion in the training grounds and would take her to the hospital, but when they went to visit, she was already gone and training again. In the first few months they were always worried about her, they would always check up on her, they confronted her several times, but the only answer they got between panting breaths was 'This is why I'm here'.
When confronting her didn't work, they tried going behind her back: Fist they talked to Kurenai-sensei. She told them she had had a heart-to-heart with Hinata, but she wasn't backing down. After that they tried the Hokage, hopeful she would order Hinata to stop, but she just poured a bit of sake for herself and said 'I know of Hinata's admiration for my gaki, and if it causes her to try to better herself, that's good for her, for her clan and for the village. I will not intervene until her life is in danger'.
Eventually they decided on their last resort: talking to Hiashi-sama, Hinata's father. After the tensest half hour spent waiting for the man in his office, he finally decided to concede them a few moments of his very busy life. When they finished pleading their case he stated 'If my..daughter..is training herself to death, I am glad. The Hyuuga have no use for weaklings.' with this he got up, walked out of the room and let them show themselves out.
They would later find out that was the day Hinata effectively left the Hyuuga complex. According to Neji she never spent the night there anymore, she would only show up about once a week to leave her dirty clothes, take a shower, pack up some clean ones and them she would be gone again. No one had a clue where she stayed, or at least where she slept, but they would last see her training at night and the next morning there she would be again.
Eventually, since Hinata had proven she was able to take good care of herself and she was always well groomed, clean, when she wasn't training, of course, and appeared well fed they just let her be. After Neji informed them that every main branch member of the Hyuuga house had an expenses account filled with thousands upon thousands of ryu they could freely access when they turned thirteen they just threw their worries out the window.
The problem is.. They started drifting apart. They trusted each-other in battle, they had to if they were to stay alive, but they only saw Hinata on missions now, and even there things were starting to get uncomfortable. But now, what was making things so awkward between Shino and Kiba was that they both thought Kiba's outburst would signify the definite end to their team. Neither knew just how right they were.
So awkward that this time it was Akamaru that initiated the conversation with a loud bark.
"Whats wrong Akamaru?" Kiba said in a monochordic tone and stopped , looking back at his dog. Shino did the same.
A series of barks later Kiba turned to Shino and said:
"He's telling me to talk to you about what happened back there with 'fox-boy'." Despite feeling pretty down Kiba was able to chuckle at Akamaru's nickname for Naruto. "He doesn't even look like a damn fox."
"But the name fits. Why? Because he smells like one. I'm surprised you never noticed it Kiba, my insects did."
"Maybe he does, I never noticed it because I haven't really met any foxes, we Izunuka tent to.. avoid them."
"Hmm." Shino decided to end the conversation there because he thought Kiba didn't really want to talk. He continued walking, but he soon stopped again.
"It's not fair." Kiba said in a low tone of voice.
"What's not fair Kiba?"
"Everything." Kiba looked down to the ground. "He blew his chance three years ago, he shouldn't be entitled to another."
Kiba raised his head again to look at the sunglasses of his friend Shino, where his eyes would be, and said something Shino never expected to hear from his mouth:
"This was supposed to be my chance."
When he heard those words Shino remained emotionless, as always, but after a few moments of silence he did something he had never done before and thought he would never do. He put his arm over Kiba's shoulders in a friendly gesture and they resumed their walk in silence with a happy Akamaru trailing behind.
Hey guise, sorry for the long wait.
Quick update: Shit happens, and life kinda got in the way of this fic. I refuse to let it die, but I am low on several things as of late, and unfortunately those things include time and money. On top of that, my beta hasn't been answering me, she must be as busy as I am, so I just let this fic be for a while. I have every chapter finished up to and including chapter eight and am now starting work on number nine, but without a beta, things are harder.
When Caeli returns, as I hope she will, I am sure she will beta this chapter. I will post an updated version then.
I will have a larger, more complete update posted on the A/N/Disclaimer chapter, as I have been doing.
Meanwhile, if someone could find me an calculus ebook with exercises on integration complete with solutions, I would thank you very much (maybe even with some insights about what is going to happen next on the fic), contact me by PM for this.
Now for my comments on this chapter: This one wasn't especially hard to write, that last flashbacky scene with Kiba and Shino just wrote itself. Compared to the others this one has a lot of plot development. Why is Naruto's seal broken? What exactly happened to Hinata? What do the Nara have to do with the story? Who the hell is this monk everybody's been mentioning?
All this and more in the next installments of Our Purpose.
Don't forget to tell me what you think: review people!