Hinata spent most of their last day on the mission in silence. Kiba and Shino could tell that something was on her mind and they each made a mental note to talk to her about it, later.
"We're here." Hinata said when the gates of the client's home town came into view.
When they reached the gates the family came out of the cart to say their goodbyes to the team.
"Thank you for protecting us." Tanaka said while graciously shaking Hinata's hand.
"Our baby, thanks you too." Jade brought Ibuki close to Hinata and the baby held out her tiny arms, as if beckoning for Hinata to hold her one more time.
"May I?" Hinata asked.
"Go ahead." Hinata took the baby from it's mother and held her close. The baby started touching Hinata's face again and Hinata returned the gesture by tickling the bottom of her chin.
"I hope my babies are as beautiful as this one, when I start having kids." Hinata lightly kissed the baby on the forehead and handed her back to her mother.
"I wouldn't be in too much of a hurry for that. You're still a baby yourself."
"I know. My best wishes go with you all. Goodbye." Hinata waved goodbye to the family as they headed back to their house.
"I've never seen you like this, Hinata. I never knew you were such a sucker for kids." Kiba commented while they turned around and made their way home.
"I've loved babies ever since my sister was born. I can't wait until I'm an adult and I can have my own."
"Now that we're on our own, we can go full speed. We should be able to make the return trip in half of the time." Sasuke interrupted.
"Sasuke is right. Let's head home as fast as we can."
"I need to send Naruto a message." Hinata added in her mind.
Speaking of home, One of Hinata's fellow medics in training was giving Tsunade a report of her latest mission.
"I'm not happy, Ino. You went beyond the mission parameters."
"Not like he didn't deserve it."
"That's not the point!" Tsunade slammed her hand against the desk, scaring Ino half to death.
"Sorry... I promise that it won't happen again."
"It better not, or I'll revoke your chunin status."
"Yes, my lady."
"Now get out of here."
Ino walked out of Tsunade's office with her head held low. She passed by Shizune on her way down the stairs.
"Are you all right Ino?" The older woman asked.
"I did something bad on my last mission. Tsunade just yelled at me for it."
"What happened exactly?"
"Well... I was supposed to find evidence of a man cheating on his fiancé."
"Did you find any?"
"Within five minutes of watching him. Then again not two hours later... And again... AND AGAIN!"
Shizune started backing away from the now raging girl.
"AND AGAIN, AND AGAIN, AND AGAIN!"
"Wh-What did you do?"
"I transformed into an adult and seduced him when he went into a bar, then when we got to his hotel room, I broke his arm in five places."
"I would have done worse but Choji stopped me."
"Ino... I don't know what to say."
"I do. THAT A GIRL!" Anko cheered from the bottom of the stairs.
"Oh god." Shizune said.
"Aren't you Hinata's friend?" Ino asked.
"Yep! But that's not important now. Shizune, we just received an urgent message for the hokage. I need to see her right away."
"Follow me then."
Shizune lead Anko to the hokage's office, leaving a confused Ino behind.
"She doesn't seem that bad. Why does Hinata say that woman is crazy?" Ino thought.
"You got a nice ass, Shizune. Ever been with a woman?" She heard Anko say from up the stairs.
"That explains it. TenTen would probably love her.."
Shizune opened the door to Tsunade's office with a crimson face. Tsunade would have asked her what was wrong had Anko not walked in right behind her and casually slapped her rear.
"Thanks for escorting me sweet cheeks."
"I-I've got to go." Shizune ran out of the room.
"Do I need to make you watch the sexual harassment video again?" Tsunade asked.
"No thanks boob lady. I've got an important message for you. It just came from the raikage, marked for your eyes only."
"God damn that boy for his ridiculous nickname." Tsunade angrily thought. She took the message from Anko and read it swiftly. She activated the sound seals around the office before addressing Anko again.
"How would you like an opportunity to deal with the remainder of Orochimaru's forces?"
Anko gained a devilish smile. "It would be my pleasure."
"Almost as much of a pleasure as burying my face in those tits." The sex crazed woman added in her mind.
"The raikage just sent me a map of several of Orochimaru's hidden bases and labs. Apparently the sound village has found a new leader and he's crossed the cloud village."
"What did the idiot do? Fuck the raikage's girlfriend or something?"
"He kidnapped and almost killed Naruto."
"Oh... is he?"
"He escaped due to the efforts of a third-party."
"Your boyfriend is a lucky son of a bitch, Hinata." She thought.
"I'm tasking you with the eradication of the remaining sound forces within the borders of the land of fire. He says that their information is incomplete and it's possible that the sound village has been notified of the compromised bases, but I'm sure that won't stop you from completing your mission."
"I'll find them all, I guarantee it."
"Good. Now about that sexual harassment video."
"Oh come on! I've already been forced to watch that video five times."
"You'll watch it another five hundred times if you can't keep your desires in check."
"Big booby bitch." Anko mentally cursed.
Back with Hinata's team, they decided to take a break along a stream to refill their water supply.
"We're making good time. We should be able to get home by supper time tomorrow." Hinata said.
"I hope my girlfriend is ready for me when we get back." Kiba arrogantly spouted.
"Please don't be shameless, Kiba." Hinata scolded.
"Oops. Sorry, I forgot that you're a prude."
"I'm not a prude, I just think that shameless talk is inappropriate while we're on a mission."
"Compared to miss Anko, Kiba isn't all that shameless." Shino interrupted, remembering the interesting conversation he overheard between Hinata and Anko during the chunin exams.
"You have no idea... I've seen her apartment. It's the most shameless place I've ever seen.
While the three friends talked, Sasuke was sitting on a nearby rock. His thoughts kept drifting to Sakura.
"I wonder if she's even back from her mission yet." He thought.
He started considering how he would confess to her. He didn't fear her rejection but he feared coming across the wrong way. If he just grabbed her and started smooching, like Tadakatsu suggested, he may come across as only caring about the physical aspect of a relationship. He didn't want to know how Sakura might react if that happened.
"Sasuke?" Hinata said, trying to get Sasuke's attention.
"Are we leaving?" He asked.
"In a minute. Kiba wants to give Akamaru a quick soak in the stream. I wanted to talk to you about last night at the hotel. I noticed that you left your room without notifying me. Where did you go?"
"Across the street to a restaurant."
"You really should have told me you intended to leave the hotel. I'm the commanding officer on this mission. I should know where my ninja are at all times."
"Is that my fault or yours? You should have done a better job keeping track of me."
"Excuse me? I'm not your mother, I shouldn't have to keep my eye on you, like a child."
"Tsunade doesn't seem to think that way."
"What did you just say?"
"I know that this mission is a test of my teamwork. I heard you talking with those two when you were in their room."
"Listen Sasuke, You need to understand that"
"That my village doesn't trust me because of the past actions of my clan? I've come to terms with that." Sasuke stood up and started walking away.
"Where are you going?"
"Back to the village. I don't need you three losers around."
"Until we pass the main gates of the village we're still considered to be on a mission. If you break off from the group then I'll be forced to tell Lady hokage that you abandoned your team in the line of duty."
"Go ahead. I don't care what you do."
"... Wait just one minute Sasuke."
Sasuke turned around and stared Hinata down.
Kiba and Shino had stopped any conversation that they had and watched the situation with interest.
"I've never liked you Sasuke. I hated the way you treated Ino and Sakura, and I think your cocky attitude is undeserved."
"If we're being honest, I never liked you eith"
"Shut your mouth and let me finish. Even though I dislike you so strongly, Sakura still likes you. Sakura is one of my best friends. For her sake, I won't let you keep going down the path of arrogance and disrespect that so many members of your clan chose to walk." Hinata got into her gentle fist stance.
"Come at me. I'll show you how undeserved your arrogance is."
"You've never beaten me in a fight, Hinata. Why should I bother defeating you again?"
"If I'm truly so weak then you should have no problem brushing me aside. I even promise not to let the hokage know about this if you win. In exchange, when I win you must be the one to admit your wrong doings to the hokage and graciously accept her punishment."
Sasuke got into his own fighting stance.
"I'll go easy on you since you're Sakura's friend."
"You'll regret it if you do. Shino, Kiba, don't interfere."
"Sharingan!" Sasuke activated his eyes and stared into Hinata's. She dropped to her knees.
"She'll be out for awhile." Sasuke turned and was about to leave when a kunai grazed his cheek. He spun around and Hinata was standing in her stance once again.
"Your eyes may grant you easy access to genjutsu but compared to my sensei, you are weak. I can break any illusion you throw my way."
"Then I guess I'll just have to do this the old fashioned way." Sasuke and Hinata charged at each other and clashed in a taijutsu battle. Sasuke remembered from their childhood spars that attempting to block the gentle fist was a mistake. She would just seal off the chakra to his arms and then he wouldn't be able to use jutsu. Sasuke was put on the defensive, forced to dodge all of her attacks.
"Damn it, she really has improved. I've never seen her fight with such aggression." Sasuke thought as he dodged her attacks, waiting for any kind of opening.
"I will kill you, if you cross me." Hinata kept repeating this line from Tadakatsu's note over and over again in her mind and each time she got angrier and angrier.
"I'M NOT SOME WEAK LITTLE GIRL ANYMORE!" Her anger exploded and she caught Sasuke with a devastating strike to his torso. The force of the strike drove Sasuke a few feet back. He doubled over and started coughing.
"Do you yield?" Hinata questioned.
"You may be skilled enough to neutralize my genjutsu and you may have the edge in taijutsu, but I still have an ace up my sleeve." Sasuke proclaimed as he forced himself back to his feet.
Sasuke started flashing through hand signs at a lightning fast speed.
"Fire style: Grand fireball jutsu!" He attacked her with his signature technique but Hinata stood her ground.
"Water style: Grand torrent jutsu!" She channeled some water from the stream to block the fireball, creating a blinding wall of steam.
"Damn it. I have to lure her away from the water." Sasuke turned to jump into a nearby tree but he was forced to jump back toward the stream by another Hinata coming at him with a palm strike. She landed between Sasuke and the treeline.
Hinata formed a hand sign and the steam condensed back into water and soaked the ground between them.
"Clever girl... You made a water clone when I turned around after the genjutsu."
"Yes. I sent her into the woods because I knew that you would be able to tell the difference with your sharingan. I also predicted that you would want to separate me from the water, so I had her wait for that moment."
"I guess I've been underestimating you a bit. You aren't the same weakling that couldn't win a spar to save her life."
"Unlike you, I've grown as a person. You're still the arrogant boy who lost in the chunin exams. You refuse to acknowledge and learn from your mistakes."
"Keep your analysis to yourself. I don't need your advice. I don't need anything."
"Not even Sakura?"
This got to Sasuke.
"I didn't say that..."
"For someone who claims to not care about anyone, you certainly care about her. What do you think she would say if she caught you fighting one of her best friends?"
"... She'd probably yell my name before punching me in the face."
"If you stop this and admit your mistakes to the hokage, I won't tell her about our fight."
"..." Sasuke sat down.
"That's a dirty trick, using Sakura like that."
"As long as it worked..." Hinata dropped out of her stance, relieved that things didn't escalate too far.
"If I hadn't talked him down, he may have used that lightning jutsu I saw him try on Naruto. I don't know if even the rotation could stop an attack that strong." She thought.
The next day, Hinata and the rest of the team arrived home. As promised, Sasuke admitted his mistakes to Tsunade personally.
"I'm very sorry for my actions. I promise that it will never happen again. I will make sure to always report to my commanding officer on missions, and I will also stick to the group at all times unless otherwise ordered."
"I'm glad to see you taking responsibility for your mistakes. As for your punishment, I'll let Kakashi deal with that."
"Crap..." Sasuke thought. The last time Sasuke screwed up on a mission, Kakashi dumped him on the opposite side of town from his home, with no clothes. He called it stealth training and to Kakashi's credit, Sasuke wasn't seen by anybody, so the training was a success. The right incentive can be a powerful thing.
"You genin can leave now. I have some other pressing matters to discuss with Hinata." All three genin left after respectfully bowing to their hokage.
"I'm impressed, Hinata. You managed to show Sasuke the error of his ways."
"I don't deserve all of the credit. I had a little help from Sakura."
"All I had to do was mention her."
"I see. Well, you still did a good job identifying Sasuke's weakness for her."
"It wasn't that hard. He's been looking at her differently ever since the chunin exams."
"Ok... You still showed great leadership."
"Two members of my team were my personal friends. They would do anything I ask, regardless if I was in a position of power."
"Would you shut up for a second and let me compliment you?! You did good! Now get out of here." Hinata bowed to her hokage and turned to leave.
"Wait. I almost forgot to tell you, Anko wants to see you about something."
"Uh... Is it important?"
"She said it was."
"If you're worried about finding her when she's having sex, don't be. I've got her locked down in the basement forcing her to watch a sexual harassment video."
"... I believe you."
True to the hokage's word, Anko was locked in the basement with a sexual harassment video being played on loop. Anko was asleep at a desk in the middle of the basement, facing the crappy old television that they hooked up for her.
Hinata quietly snuck up to Anko and tapped her shoulder to wake her.
"THE WORKPLACE IS NOT AN APPROPRIATE ENVIRONMENT FOR ROMANCE!" She screamed as she exploded out of the chair.
"The workplace is not an appropriate environment for romance." The video echoed. It would appear that Tsunade had Anko down here for so long that she memorized the whole thing.
"HINATA!" Anko grabbed Hinata in a hug and buried her face in her chest.
"PLEASE TELL ME THAT YOU CAME TO SET ME FREE!"
"I uh... Lady Tsunade said that you wanted to tell me something.
Anko let go of Hinata.
"Oh yeah. I just got assigned to a long-term mission. I'm going to be leaving the village for long stretches of time and I wanted to ask if it was okay for you to house sit for me while I'm gone?"
"You can't trust Kurenai sensei to do that?"
"The last time I asked her to house sit for me, that bitch fucked Asuma on my bed. No one gets down in my territory unless I'm there. I don't need to worry about that with you, since you're such an innocent, responsible, young lady."
"Plus your boyfriend that you're so nuts about is in another country." Anko added in her mind.
"I don't know..."
"I'll clean out all of the sex stuff."
"By clean out, do you mean throw it all in a closet and hang a "do not open" sign on the door?"
Anko smiled and brought Hinata in for another big hug.
"You know me so well! It's like we're real sisters!"
"Do you even have a closet big enough for all of that stuff?"
"... Okay I guess."
"You're the best Hinata!"
While Hinata was being smothered by the luscious mounds of Anko, Sasuke was back at his home, tearing through his closet. He eventually found what he was looking for. He pulled out the same box that his brother had given him all of those years ago. He opened it and held the bow in his hands.
"Still in excellent condition."
Sasuke heard a knock at the door and ran to get it. He tossed his bow on the couch and looked through the peek hole. He was both happy and scared when he saw that it was Sakura. He opened the door for her and she started blushing.
"Hi... I just got back from my mission." She said.
"Do you want to come in and stay for dinner?"
"Yes..." She walked in and noticed the weapon on the couch.
"Are you taking up archery?"
"Thinking about it... I wanted to talk to you."
"About the last time I was here? I'm sorry I walked out on you like that."
"No, you were right to walk out. I've been a selfish jerk for a long time now. I want to change. I want to be social and talk to people. Most of all... I...Want...You."
Sakura was dumbstruck. She stared at him with her mouth hung open in complete shock.
"I've begun to finally realize how much you mean to me and I think that" Sakura tackled Sasuke to the ground and started assaulting his mouth with kisses.
"SHUT THE HELL UP AND KISS ME YOU FOOL!"
Outside, Kakashi read his favorite volume of Icha Icha paradise on Sasuke's roof.
"I wonder how far they'll go tonight?" He casually remarked.
"DON'T EVEN THINK ABOUT TRYING TO PULL OFF MY BRA!"
"That answers that question. Good to see that Sakura has enough self-control to say no to that. They're both still way too young to"
"I KNOW YOU'RE ON THE ROOF KAKASHI!" Sakura screamed.
"Shit..." Kakashi closed his book and disappeared in a poof of smoke.
Back with Hinata, she found a nice secluded spot to write to Naruto.
I'm sorry but this letter is going to have some bad news in it. I met your cousin. I told her all about you and she promised me that she was going to go and see you as soon as she could. The next morning I found a note in her hotel room. It was addressed to me and it was instructions to tell you that you'll never see her again. I think it was written by one of the people she was travelling with. There was a foul mouthed girl who acted shamelessly and there was also a boy. I didn't see him but the other girl called him Tadakatsu. Whoever these people are, they plan to keep you away from your cousin at all costs. They threatened your loved ones ,me included, if you kept on trying to find her. Naruto, I want you to promise me that you won't stop searching for Karin. Don't bother yourself with worrying thoughts about me. If these people come, all they'll find is a righteous fury like they've never seen before."
"Is that a little too dramatic? Righteous fury is so unlike me... I'll leave it in and see what he says."
"I know that one day you'll find your cousin and I hope that when that day comes, you bring her here so I can talk to her again. I liked talking to her.
Best wishes, Hinata."
Hinata sent the letter and made her way home.
Around this same time, Naruto and his new roommate were just about to start training.
"Okay, this jutsu is pretty hard so don't get mad if it takes you a long time to do it. Just watch what I do." Naruto bit his thumb and prepared the handsigns for the summoning jutsu. He slammed his hand on the ground and out popped Gamakichi. He looked at Naruto confused.
"Why'd you summon me?"
"I'm showing my new friend how to summon. He's already signed a contract with the rabbits and"
"Check your mail seal." Gamakichi ordered.
Naruto pulled it out of his pocket and to his surprise it indicated a message for him.
"Just got in a few minutes ago." Gamakichi explained.
"Thanks for the heads up."
Naruto drew a little more blood from his thumb and performed the jutsu again.
Naruto took the message and dismissed the summons.
"What is that?" Haku asked.
"A message from a friend. Practice your jutsu while I go read this."
Naruto ran behind some nearby rocks to read the message while Haku practiced.
Naruto went from happy, to angry, to confused in the course of reading the letter.
"Righteous fury? That isn't like Hinata."
"I like it. It shows that she's starting to form a more aggressive side. You know what that means, right?"
"It means your going to make another lame sex joke?"
"No, it means that she's becoming a stronger person. Not everything is about sex, pervert."
"Sometimes I want to smack you... What do you think about Karin?"
"Tadakatsu has either, truly kidnapped her, or the sly dog tricked her with some sort of lie to stay with him. Either way, we need to find her as soon as possible."
"Naruto?" Haku called out.
"Yeah?" Naruto walked back over to Haku and was amazed at the sight. Dozens of full-grown ninja rabbits, all armed and dangerous.
"Am I doing good?"
Author's notes: And with that, the kid years are done. I'm going to be taking a short break for a few weeks before I start up around the shippuden era. I'm seriously burned out and need to rest my brain before I move forward. I appreciate the support from all of my readers out there and I promise that when I come back, it's going to be bigger and better than before. As always review and flame and all that good stuff.