Rippling Future @airheaded_dude
Challenge

Rippling Future

Chapter 34: Challenge


Yamanaka Ino was staring at her friends as she watched Hinata down another bowl of ramen in a record breaking one minute and thirty seconds. Beside her, Sakura was calming her down all the while Tenten was finding the whole thing amusing.

"Every time I take my eyes off him, I always worry about other girls trying to pounce on him like he's some kind of wounded prey." Hinata mumbled while Sakura was laughing nervously at her friend's statement

"Well, Naruto is a bit of a meddling busy body when it comes to problems of other people, he just can't help but involve himself. It doesn't help that he doesn't notice when girls make an advance towards him and he just lets it happen, unfortunately."

"And that's the problem!" Hinata shouted, seething in rage as Ayame gave a nod and handed the Hyuuga heiress another freshly cooked bowl of Ramen.

"Naruto-kun is too nice for his own good! I know that's one of his best traits but I wish those other women would leave him alone and back off!"

Tenten leaned over to Ino and whispered to her, "I've never seen Hinata this upset before. It's almost like seeing a totally different person."

Ino raised a finger knowingly and pointed out, "Hinata has all these pent up frustrations in her life and her moments of solace, especially around Naruto are always going to be what she thinks is part of her territory alone and as such, seeing or knowing women other than her noticing her boyfriend is a sure sign that can change her attitude."

"Don't know what she sees in that idiot, though." Tenten shrugged, Hinata sharply turned her gaze towards Tenten and showed a photo of Naruto being kissed by none other than the famous Fijukaze Yukie, now known as Kazehana Koyuki.

"Woah, Fujikaze Yukie? The actress? What in the world happened?" Ino suddenly grabbed the photo and read the note that was at the bottom. It was certainly a bit scandalous with how the actress was propositioning their friend. Sakura was laughing nervously again at that, "Well, our last mission was about protecting and safeguarding her…"And Sakura began her tale. She recounted the many times Naruto had unintentionally made Koyuki an admirer from the ship, right up until the very end.

Hinata, who had now just heard of the story thanks in no part of Naruto shivering like a cold dog in a river, scowled even further.

Ino had a hand on her cheek as she leaned on the counter. She had to admit, Naruto was pretty bold and daring with his talks and the way he treats Koyuki. It's almost as if she was envisioning some sort of gallant warrior who was serving the princess.

"Wow, who knew Naruto could be so romantic? Inadvertently, at that. He can beat Sasuke-kun in that department, at least!"

Hinata turned her gaze at Ino and leaked a sliver of killing intent, "You stay away from my Naruto!"

Ino shivered a little, as if she saw an angry and uncontrollable lioness behind Hinata

"R-Relax Hinata, Naruto's not my type. But you have to admit, most women fall for that kind of boy."

Tenten followed suit, trying to placate her teammate's cousin. She knew the Hyuuga to be strict and disciplinarian, but Hinata was different, "Y-Yeah, most of us don't fall for that kind of stuff. Hell, I'm not even impressed by that. I'm not some dainty flower that needs protecting myself!"

"So you're saying he's not good enough for you?" Hinata asked. The two girls had a bead of sweat at the back of their heads.

'Hinata… Is growing to be quite the pain!' The two thought to themselves as Sakura was the one to mediate matters now.

"M-maybe we should just find another place to vent. Talking about that kind of stuff here is..." Sakura looked a bit shifty at that as she glanced to her side seeing more and more people entering the shop, and it was Naruto's male peers where among the crowd about to go inside.

With a sigh, Hinata left a fistful of ryo at the counter and never looked back, in a rush to the hot springs and never giving a glance back

"We should try the hot springs! That'll cheer you up!" Ino shouted as she went and caught up with Hinata along with the others.

Back at the Ramen Shop, Naruto, Kiba, Sasuke and Shikamaru were about to enter and they saw Ayame looking at the blonde pitifully. Naruto just sighed and went to his seat to plop down on with his head on the table.

"I take it you heard what happened?" Naruto asked the Ayame and gave a wordless nod.

"As much as I can from Sakura. Though I can't blame you for what happened." Ayame said this as the four sat down with Kiba and Shikamaru looking confused as to what the two were talking about.

"Can we get any details as to what is taking place? And is this why Naruto is treating us for company?" Shikamaru asked and Ayame spoke like a canary. She even brought out a photo of the blonde that the girls apparently and conveniently forgot in their hurry to have Hinata let off some steam.

Kiba was shaking in fury.

"YOU LITTLE BASTARD! IT'S NOT ENOUGH THAT YOU ARE GETTING ATTENTION, BUT FROM A SMOKING HOT ACTRESS TOO!?" Kiba was wringing Naruto by the neck who was struggling to let go of Kiba's grip just because he didn't feel like putting an effort in it for now.

Sasuke, uncharacteristic of him, tried to deescalate the situation, "Calm down, horn dog. Naruto didn't mean it to happen. I saw it with my own two eyes. A girl could flash herself on the idiot and he still wouldn't know if he was being hit on or not."

Naruto gave him the finger.

"Nice try, idiot, but I don't swing that way."

This time it was Shikamaru's turn to smirk and added, "Yeah, Naruto, didn't you know? Sakura spent at least two weeks at Sasuke's place with just the two of them."

Naruto now free from Kiba's grasp, turned to his teammate and asked, "Wait, you and Sakura spent two weeks with each other and no one else?"

Sasuke raised an eyebrow at this, "Yeah, what's it to you?"

Naruto looked thoughtful for a moment and said, "Well, did anything happen during that? From what Ero-sennin told me, if something like that happened they usually do the thing, you know?"

"What thing?" Sasuke asked, the people around the room all looked at Sasuke as if he was growing a second head.

Now it was Naruto who was looking a bit worried and had an arm around Kiba while mumbling.

"Is he seriously telling us that he didn't make any moves on Sakura during that time?" Naruto asked and Kiba was nodding at the blonde, growing a bit concerned that Sasuke was at the age where something might happen and didn't know about it.

Kiba looked up for a moment and began processing what Naruto was implying and said, "Now that I think about it, Sasuke is as dull as a rock when it comes to these matters. He's as wound up as a shamisen string. He hasn't even noticed that Tamaki's been visiting him for the past month or so."

"Who's Tamaki?" Naruto asked

"What's this about my cousin?" Sasuke asked

Kiba was quick on the draw, "Nothing you should be concerned about, Sasuke! Say, aren't our orders up? Food's about to get cold!"

No way was Kiba going to tell Sasuke about him hanging out with Tamaki.

Shikamaru had a raised eyebrow at the two and then remarked, "You two are awfully acting suspicious right now."

The two brash ninja merely played it off and said something along the lines of doubting Sasuke's thoughts and matters concerning the opposite sex.

Naruto made a mental note to ask Sakura about Sasuke and their relationship for later. Right now, there were other important matters that needed addressing.

Such as the hot, steaming, delicious ramen in front of him.

'Oh sweet, sweet Ramen! Come to papa!'

Only to be interrupted when he was about to put the noodles in his mouth.

"I've finally found you, Naruto-sama!"

Sasuke looked at the source of the voice only to find a girl about their age, a heart shaped face and long straight black hair tied to a pony tail. She certainly had the looks of a stunning girl, prim and proper if her Kimono was anything to go by. But something told him that underneath all of that reserved nature, something like a hungry beast was lurking within.

He turned to his teammate beside him only to find the seat empty, a bowl of ramen untouched at the table and a fat stack of Ryo by the side of the bowl complete with change to weigh the paper down.

The other two were looking at the seat as well with Kiba turning to the source of the voice.

If he was a little jealous earlier, that jealousy was spiking now.

"HE'S GETTING AWAY! TOKIWA, LET'S CHASE AFTER HIM! HE'S GOTTEN A LOT FASTER SINCE WE MET HIM!"

The girl pointed to the rooftops as the others turned to look at where the girl was pointing, seeing Naruto jump from rooftop to rooftop and running as if the hounds of hell were chasing after him like his life depended on it.

Shikamaru looked amused and somewhat confused. Who was this girl that was about to give chase to the blonde? What the hell is happening?

"So this is the person who Naruto said was targeting him from Nadeshiko village. Can't say I'm surprised."

Shikamaru was looking at Sasuke who was watching the two women jump to the rooftops to give chase.

"Targeting him?"

For the longest time, Shikamaru had never seen Sasuke smile, it turns out he can give a sadistic one as well and Shikamaru was a little pertubed by this.

"It's a village of women only, apparently his master pawned him off from a challenge and he was forced to commit under oath. The women there challenge a man they are targeting as prospective husbands."

Shikamaru was a little shaken up at that.

A village filled with women? An entire village filled with strong and apparently relentless women that would take no for an answer?

A village of women like his mother?

Suddenly, the urge to hide in his home was so great that he had left behind a roll of ryo at the counter conveniently forgetting the fact that Naruto was paying for them and began walking away.

Briskly.

Teuchi let Ayame scoop up the money on the counter and began to count the excessive bills left behind by the Nara Heir. The old man sighed as he said, "I wish kids these days would value money as much we do. I mean, we're getting rich by all the money left behind here. But those kids..."

Ayame rolled her eyes at his father at this and began counting the bills, "That's what you're concerned about? At this rate, I'll be secured for life."

Teuchi merely laughed at his daughter's statement and went back to cooking. With business booming as it is, he wasn't about to look a gift horse in the mouth.

"I suddenly lost my appetite after this whole mess. I'm going to find that blonde bastard and tell me his secrets!" Kiba looked fired up and Ayame had to let the boy go, "Oh go ahead, be my guest. With the amount of money your friends left behind I'm sure we can take this much of a loss."

The father and daughter then looked at Sasuke who sat back down at his seat and began eating his ramen.

It was wasteful to leave a meal untouched.


Konoha training grounds:

Shino Aburame was practicing his Taijutsu along with Fuu when they were interrupted with Naruto who had clumsily fell down from the treetops and landing on the ground face first. The blonde looked panicky for a second and looked back before he calmed down. He had a huge lead against his pursuers. It was time to hide and let this all blow over until he can safely return to his apartment.

'Damn you, Ero-sennin!' Naruto cursed his master for all the rotten luck that he was placed into.

"Naruto? Is there something the matter?" Shino asked as he helped the blonde up and dusted himself off.

Naruto looked a bit shifty for a moment and said, "Yeah, nothing too serious. Just some stuff being forced on me and me just wanting nothing to do with it. I just need a place to hide."

"So you're the Naruto guy that Shino keeps telling me about!" Fu interrupted as she went forward and circled around the blonde who was looking at her curiously.

"Ah, you must be Shino's girlfriend I've been hearing about..."

"Fu is not my girlfriend."

"Oh, yes I am!" Fu refuted that statement in lightspeed as she saw Shino being silent for a second, a heavy sigh escapes from the boy as he once again tried to explain social norms to the girl.

"Fu, that is not how he describes what a..."

"What's not true about it? I am a girl, and your friend..." Fu then continued with a huge smile on her face, "You know what that means, right? Girlfriend!"

Naruto noticed that Fu was not going to budge around on this topic seeing her looking so proud and thumping her chest so he quickly just dropped it.

"Can't argue with that kind of logic, Shino." The blonde resorted to teasing. Shino noticed the sly smile escaping from the blonde looked just like how Kiba expressed himself when his teammate kept teasing him with that.

"These topics are of utmost importance to Fu-san if she were to..."

"Naruto-sama!"

Naruto panicked and shrieked to unbelievable levels in his vocal chords. Even ghosts weren't this scary! They weren't supposed to catch up to him this quick!

"GottagoShinoandFubye!"

Naruto was soon out of sight with Fu looking at the blonde and grinning from ear to ear.

"I like your friend Shino, he's funny."

Shino adjusted his glasses and replied, "There's going to be more of that here from now on. The village is always lively with him around."

"Naruto-sama please accept my challenge! If I win, then be my husband!"

Fu laughed heartily at Shino's friend, if she were being honest, she liked being in Konoha more than in Taki nowadays. The shinobi force treated her like one of them and the camaraderie was something to behold here. She had never seen that in her stay with Taki and although there were fewer people that she interacted there, they meant more to her in her stay there than what she had currently. Shino may be her only link to this village but she supposed that would change in time and she was open to the idea that she would be part of Konoha in the future. A community that accepted her for what she was.

Back on the streets of Konoha and near the shopping district, Naruto had landed and looked back and then around him to see any sign of Shizuka and her attendant. None so far, he thought, and gave out a sigh of relief again as he began walking in a brisk pace. He couldn't let down his guard for one second or else he'd be bound and gagged literally and figuratively.

"Naruto-niichan!" Naruto stopped his walk for a moment and saw Konohamaru and his team along with Hanabi who were running up to him.

"Konohamaru? Doing some shopping?" Naruto asked pointing to the paper bag in his arms and a rucksack behind him.

"Yeah, I was buying some stuff for training and then some tools when we saw you. We were actually about to go to the training grounds for some sparring! Would you like to supervise?" Konohamaru was looking at the blonde with expectations and the blonde looked like he was sweating bullets. Konohamaru and his team had heard of Naruto's promotion to Jounin and he was really expecting his senior to make some time for him. But Naruto looked like he was seeing ghosts. That or something was hovering over his shoulder.

"I-I'm really sorry Konohamaru, I'm caught in something right now, maybe next time?" He asked that with a hint of panic in his voice, this went unnoticed by Hanabi.

"Onii-sama, is there something wrong?" Hanabi asked and Naruto froze for a moment and answered, "Nope! Nothing's wrong! Everything is just peachy!"

Naruto's panicky posture gave him away. Hanabi thought that their senior didn't just want them involved.

"Since when did you call Naruto-nii, onii-sama?" Konohamaru asked.

Hanabi answered, "Since he and Onee-sama were officially an item."

As if that was the most common answer that she could think off.

"Oh, Hinata-nee-chan? Come to think of it, I just saw her going to the hot springs. She looked quite annoyed."

Konohamaru then turned to Naruto and said with a frown, "You didn't do anything stupid, did you, nii-chan?"

Hanabi seemed to scoff at it, "Naruto-nii-sama is the most virtuous person I know that is worthy of nee-sama's attention. Surely, you jest, Konohamaru."

Konohamaru was looking quite unconvinced at that as did Moegi and Udon.

After all, Naruto was the one who taught them the Oiroke no Jutsu.

Hanabi on the other hand, found it ridiculous. Naruto was the person that assured her in the past to trust the judgement of her sister and he wasn't wrong then. She realized that Naruto's intuition and charisma was something to marvel at. People follow him, those with strength acknowledge him. To be recognized by one of the Sannin and show prowess in Fuinjutsu was nothing to sneeze at.

Just then, something clicked within Naruto as if an epiphany had hit him.

"That's right! That's a great idea! Good work, kids! After this is over, I am definitely going to hang out with you guys to see your progress! Need to go now, bye!" Naruto then took off faster than anyone could say yellow flash.

Konohamaru and Hanabi looked confused, Udon remarked, "Well he's in a hurry. Must be something serious."

Moegi gave a nod, "Well, he is a jounin and he's currently spearheading the Fuinjutsu teams. I'm surprised he's even giving us the time of the day."

As they began to walk to the training grounds, two women crossed paths with them. One looked like a fully matured woman and the other was a girl that looked about the age of Naruto and his peers.

"Pardon me." She started.

Konohamaru looked at the girl, she looked as pretty as the many women she saw in the village. Perhaps prettier than some of them. She looked quite sophisticated just from her attire alone and Konohamaru's peers looked fascinated with her as well.

"Have you seen a boy, blue eyes and spiky blonde hair..." She then postures as she approximates the person in question's height.

"...About this tall and wearing a fancy looking Haori?"

"Ah, Naruto-nii-chan?" Konohamaru asked which seemed to pique the interest of the three other genin with him.

"Oh, you know Naruto-sama?"

'Sama?' The quartet thought. To address Naruto with such an honorific that he was held at such a high esteem was rare. Was she a fan?

"Yes, he usually likes to hang out at Ichiraku Ramen. But he just went past the market place earlier. I think he's heading to the Hot Spring district? I can't be sure. He was in a rush earlier so I don't know if he's really there or not." Konohamaru answered truthfully.

Who was this pretty girl that is following Naruto? Could she have something to do with why Naruto was twitchy earlier?

Hanabi, just behind Konohamaru, was looking at the girl with suspicion. And sure enough, she dared to ask the girl a question that nobody else in her group would.

"Why are you looking for nii-sama?"

The girl looked at the Hyuuga before her and answered as demurely as she can, "I was tasked in finding him and giving him a challenge as per tradition in my village. I must see to it that I meet him in person."

Hanabi remained suspicious, but she let it slide for now.

"Like Konohamaru said, Nii-sama is heading to the hot springs, whether he is there or not, I doubt you'll be able to reach him on both scenarios."

Shizuka kept her composure and covered her mouth with the sleeves of her kimono.

"Ara, that wouldn't do. But I thank you nonetheless."

She turned her sights to her attendant, "Tokiwa, let's head to the hot springs. I'm sure he'll be hiding in the male's side of the bath. We'll be waiting by the entrance."

"Understood."

'This sounds serious.' Konohamaru thought he was about to give chase when he was stopped by Hanabi.

"What's the matter?" He asked.

Hanabi looked on with a frown as she stared at the back of the two women and replied, "You mean you couldn't tell?"

She wasn't surprised. Konohamaru wasn't able to read much on body language as she did. But the girl's posture told her of one thing.

"Her body was tense, I could tell even with her Kimono on. That grip on her umbrella was telling me that she's excited about something. Like she's itching for a fight."

Moegi was surprised at this, "You can tell from just looking at her, Hanabi-chan?"

Hanabi nodded.

"She's going to fight, Naruto-nii?" Udon asked, already noticing signs of something ugly appearing before them.

"And she's pretty restrained on it too. Almost as subtle as a chuunin."

Hanabi added. Konohamaru then stopped at Hanabi's remarks.

"Should we tell him?"

Hanabi shook her head.

"Nii-sama can handle her. That or nee-sama will. Either way, she's not going to stop and we'll only be obstacles if we try to confront her."


Hot Springs:

Hinata and her peers had just gotten out the hot springs refreshed and relaxed and now wearing Yukatas. Hinata was now less upset than she was at first and she was glad that she managed to work things out with Sakura, Tenten and Ino. She did not even feel any hint of jealousy at all.

That was because working through with their conversations, Hinata had concluded that Naruto, despite his tendency to help people and women in particular, only meant well and that he had no other ulterior motives than to help. His personality was just that he didn't want people to suffer. He wanted to see them thrive, rise above their pain just like he did. And that Naruto was so nice that he always empathizes with those around him.

He was still the sweet, caring and loving boy that Hinata fell in love with ever since they were children. Not that she didn't have problems with the opposite sex either. There were boys and men asking for a chance to his father to court her and she turned them down quickly, always. It didn't matter to her, they were not Naruto. But it was still annoying that the amount of attention that Naruto was getting kept growing by the day.

"I know you're there, Naruto-sama! You can't keep hiding from me! You'll see that I can be quite persistent when I have to be!"

Hinata stopped dead in her tracks. As if glass was shattered to tiny, unrecognizable pieces. She looked at the source of the voice just waiting outside the male's side of the bath and saw some of the men awkwardly walking away as a beautiful woman stood by the entrance and waiting for Naruto inside.

Was Naruto here?

That would be a problem.

Thinking that it was an emergency, Hinata activated her Byakugan and saw Naruto inside the open air baths looking like a scared wounded animal. He was quivering in the baths with his half of his face submerged in the water.

He was also naked.

A trickle of blood escapes from Hinata's nose.

She quickly wiped it off and deactivated her doujutsu.

"Excuse me, miss, can you please wait outside? You are bothering the others and it is making everyone uneasy." Hinata replied with a courteous smile, putting up a front to be civil. The girl looked at her for a second and then smiled demurely at her as well.

Sakura looked a little nervous here while Ino and Tenten were ready to jump out the door and make a run for the hills.

"I'm sorry for causing such a disturbance but I must wait here so that the person in question doesn't escape from my challenge."

Hinata then remembers the story Naruto shared to her about the girl form Nadeshiko village.

So this was Shizuka, the raised ideal Yamato Nadeshiko that Naruto had described that was persistent as a gnat. This lady was harassing her Naruto to fulfill his part of the promise that his master had stupidly arranged him in.

A sigh escapes Hinata's lips as she held her head. Another trouble that Naruto found himself in with no fault of his own.

He was just a magnet for this.

"Be that as it may, Shizuka-san, you are disturbing the peace here. We can take this outside and wait for this person like civilized people."

Hinata inwardly cursed at this slip up. She did not intend for this girl to find out that she knew him.

Shizuka kept her smile as Tenten, Ino and Sakura took a cautious step back. The girl from another village replied, "Ara, I do believe I haven't given my name to you. Could you be Naruto-sama's girlfriend?"

Shizuka could tell that Hinata was a noble. The white eyes, the long flowing purple hair and the poise and dignity of those who were of noble birth. Much like she was. Only that Hinata came from one of the oldest clans in the entire world, the Hyuuga clan.

Hinata felt superior for the first time, a smile, a genuine one, escapes her lips and replied, "Ara, has he told you about me?"

Her hand makes its way to her cheeks and blushed, "I'm flattered. Really. Naruto-kun is such a sweet boy."

This seemed to hit something as Shizuka's smile changed a little with Hinata noticing a twitch and replied, "Yes, he has told me of this wonderful person that he says he can't live without. Ara ara, don't tell me you're bragging about that?"

"Ara ara, surely, you jest. Jealousy is quite unbecoming, no?"

Lightning flashed between the two and behind them were the visage of two hungry and angry lionesses that were facing each other as if fighting over a meal.

The trio behind Hinata had a bead of sweat behind their heads as they all thought, 'You were pretty jealous earlier, though.'

They really needed to defuse the situation before something might happen and this goes south in more ways than one.

Inside the male's side of the bath, Naruto was there shivering like a cold dog in winter as he hugged his knees with a dead look in his eye.

"Hey man, You're that Naruto-guy, right? Why don't you just go out there and tell her off already? She's being a bother here."

Naruto looked around, there was no one in sight. He told himself that he was hallucinating and said, "It's not like she's going to stop. She's here to collect on that stupid promise."

It was then that a person emerges from the water, no wait, a person formed from the water. It was a man from what Naruto could tell and that man had light blue to almost white hair forming and he showed his sharp pearly whites at him.

Naruto almost screamed at the top of his lungs just when he thought he was seeing a ghost. The boy in front of him laughed a little as he went to opposite side of the baths.

"Ah well, what can you do? Maybe my teammate can help you out, the name's Suigetsu by the way."

The boy then shouted to the other side.

"Hey Karin! Help us over here, would ya? Some lady outside's been blocking the entrance here and I really need to get out soon!"

'Karin?'

"The hell are you bothering me, Suigetsu? I'm here to relax damn it! Don't just ask me to go outside and yell at that stupid bitch!"

The sound of the voice was familiar. Naruto was sure of it.

"Karin, is that you!? It's me, Naruto! Help out a family member will ya?"

"Naruto!? Since when did you get back?"

"About a few weeks ago! It's been a busy schedule, didn't have much time to go around the village and relax! I swear I was going to come by and check you guys over but I got a mission as soon as I got home! Please, you got to help me!"

Naruto hears Karin sighs on the other side and replied, "Fine! But you owe me for this, cousin!"

Naruto cheered, "Thanks, cousin!"

Suigetsu looked surprised, "Wow, that bitch is your cousin? From the looks of it, you two are world's apart. She's been such a horrible person to me since we became teammates!"

"Really? She's never been that much of a difficult person. Maybe you've been pushing the wrong buttons on her?" Naruto asked, he definitely didn't know much about his estranged cousin. Only that she was just as much tortured as the rest of Orochimaru's experiments.

Suigetsu shrugged, "Maybe. I just tease her as any friend should and she wallops me hard with that punch of hers. Good thing I can turn to water or I might have been mush months ago."

"Huh, I guess family is more alike than I thought it would be."

Outside, Karin walked out of her side of the baths and adjusted her glasses, staring out at the two women who were just about to maim each other limb from limb. Good thing she made it a point to wear her Yukata as well before heading out.

"Yo, lady that keeps screaming towards the men's baths. Get the fuck outta' here and stop bothering my cousin! He's not interested, ya hear me?"

The five women were now staring at her like she grew another head.

Naruto has a cousin?

As if reading their minds Karin replied, "What? Naruto's my cousin, I'm Uzumaki Karin and that boy inside you're bothering is an Uzumaki through and through."

"Oh thank goodness you're not one of those obsessive fangirls." Ino sighed in relief as she went to Karin as did Sakura and Tenten.

Sakura wanted to hit Ino with a bat, though. From what she could recall, Ino was a fangirl too, just that she was fan girling over Sasuke.

"Excuse me?"

Sakura answered for her, "Your cousin has been having problems as of late..."

Tenten nodded, "Right, he's being fought over by those two over there! It's like a blood bath is going to happen any second now!"

Karin didn't looked like she was disappointed at this, in fact she looked proud at it. She knew Naruto's personality and aside from that and his near roguish good looks, there certainly were people who would find his cousin interesting and intriguing.

"Of course he is. He's my cousin. Any girl worth their chops would immediately notice his charm."

Karin then adjusted his glasses once more and told Hinata and Shizuka, "If you're going to throw hands, then do it in the training ground! Now stop bothering him!"

With that Karin went inside and slammed the door shut behind her.

Shizuka, now a little miffed that Naruto was denying her any audience, decided to agree with what his cousin said.

"You actually believe that woman is Naruto's cousin?" Tenten asked. Sakura nodded, "There's a particular trait among Uzumaki that they have red hair, about as bright as like flowing blood. The distinction of that genetic trait has been passed down from generation to generation. And only some do not display that inherent trait just like Naruto. Though judging from her way of speaking and attitude, the apple doesn't fall from the tree."

"Sounds like a lot of bull but I'll believe you, for now." Ino replied and Sakura began to think further into this.

"Maybe his other parent has a strong genetic predisposition? I mean, blonde hair and blue eyes are a rarity in this part of the world."

The only blonde person other than Tsunade who had to have Naruto's hair color was a Yamanaka and she was pretty sure that if Naruto was a Yamanaka, Ino would have known despite their current knowledge, that could mean...

Sakura stopped thinking. There was a strong implication of a trace she had to look over. She didn't want to think about it for now or she would immediately go into shock in utter disbelief.

Ino, however, was much less reserved on the fact. No blonde person existed outside of the clan in Konoha with so few exceptions. First was Tsunade Senju, the other was...

Ino shook her head, that was impossible, there was just no way!

She forsook blabbing to Sakura just so the one called Shizuka wouldn't get any more ideas for Naruto's pedigree.

Once they were outside, an unassuming Umino Iruka, was hapily walking outside while Sakura, Ino and Tenten greeted the man who was nodding and humming to himself until chains began wrapping around his body in midair.

"Gahh!"

The not so familiar voice of Iruka grunted as he was suddenly pushed down on the ground with his justu dispelling revealing Naruto who was panicking by the second.

Shizuka praised her attendant, "Great work Tokiwa! I knew you would see through to Naruto-sama's deception!"

Tokiwa answered flatly, "Spying on the male's side of the baths is nothing compared to fulfilling my duties, Shizuka-sama."

"D-did you just peep on my side of the baths? I feel violated all of a sudden!"

All the females except for Tokiwa and Shizuka were feeling Naruto's pain with a nod.

Naruto said and a gag ball was placed on his mouth. Naruto let out a scream despite of the contraption in between his lips, struggling and writhing like a fish out of water.

A sudden burst of killing intent escaped around them as Hinata's figure was suddenly surrounded in flames. Shizuka turned to look and a chill went up her spine.

"You dare peep on my Naruto-kun in his vulnerable state..."

A small red bird then appeared in a cloud of smoke on Hinata's shoulders. Hinata was grinding her teeth out in contained rage and righteous fury.

"Not only that, you hogtied him as if he was an animal about to be consumed..."

The red bird looked at Hinata with concern and unease but it could feel that Hinata's anger was focused on something else.

Shizuka could feel her danger senses working on overdrive as she, not wanting to back down, replied haugtily to the Hyuuga.

"A true Nadeshiko must take all advantages that she can. That includes all the tools necessary for a future husband. If you wish to be a proper wife, then you must have a will of pure steel and get the man you love!"

"YOU WANT A WILL OF PURE STEEL!?"Hinata began to walk menacingly towards the two shinobi from Nadeshiko. All around Konoha, shinobi began converging towards the hot springs, mighty and accomplished Jounin like Neji and Sasuke landed on the establishment's rooftops followed by Kurenai and Asuma who were dumbfounded at the scene before them.

"Holy shit it feels like a rabid animal has gotten loose! I could feel it way over the intelligence department!" Anko shouted as she saw the Hyuuga heiress making her way to two unfamiliar and most likely foreign dignitaries.

Two likely dead dignitaries if Hinata could help it.

Anko on her part, scrambled all the way from the intelligence bureau and made her way here when she felt that huge spike of killing intent. She thought it was something terribly serious, until she saw Naruto tied up in chains, a ball gag in his mouth and a blindfold on his eyes. She proceeded to laugh her ass off at the scene.

Meanwhile, Naruto was still struggling being hogtied gagged and now blindfolded.

"Hinata..." A worried Kurenai trailed. She had never seen sweet little Hinata act this way before. It was like a switch was flipped! What on earth is going on?

A finger gently lays on Hinata's forehead. Hinata, for a moment, stopped in her blind rage and saw the Godaime herself standing in front of her. The Hokage herself now had a hand on the Hyuuga's head and calmed down.

"Are you fine now, Hinata?"

Hinata stared at Tsunade and nodded with an awestruck look on her face.

"Good. I don't know what happened, but I suddenly felt a large spike in killing intent a few seconds earlier. Lo and behold, I stumbled upon you and were the one unleashing that much. It speaks volumes of what made you so angry."

Tsunade then turns her vision towards the two foreign shinobi and said, "I don't appreciate the fact that you are tying up one of my most powerful Jounin and village asset. I can overlook this incident and never mention of this again, or I will come over there and make paste out of you two. The choice is yours, kunoichi of Nadeshiko village."

Shizuka looked at the woman in front of her.

Long beautiful blonde hair in pigtails and a beatiful face to accompany the bombshell figure she had, there was no question, this was Senju Tsunade, the Godaime Hokage of Konoha.

She had commanded Tokiwa to release the blonde from his bindings and Tokiwa, knowing she was no match for the Hokage, had released Naruto.

Naruto upon seeing Tsunade and Hinata, scrambles towards to them and hid behind the Hokage. All the while Hinata kneels beside Naruto to assure him.

"I am Shizuka, apprentice of the head of the village of Nadeshiko, I am obligated by right of my village to issue a challenge to Uzumaki Naruto to become my husband!"

Tsunade raised an eyebrow at this and then palmed her face. She knew this was coming sooner or later because of Jiraiya's warning. Unfortunately, Jiraiya was out of the village for now and she couldn't punch him. She would have to wait.

She'll be making a carving of the stone monument using Jiraiya as a chisel once he gets back.

"Look, I don't have a damn clue about your traditions, but Uzumaki Naruto is an asset to this village. He can't be traded nor will he be used as a bargaining chip to pressure foreign dignitaries. As Hokage, I will not budge on this. If you want him, then come and claim him." Tsunade then looked at Shizuka who was surprised at Tsunade's disposition and then turned to look at Hinata who was the same and felt a little betrayed, but Tsunade was nothing but calculating from this point on.

"But he stays here. He will NOT be coming with anyone, anywhere to a place where we don't have jurisdiction. As Naruto is an important part of our forces and also one of the lead researchers of the Fuinjutsu team, he is an integral part of the systems that run this village. But that doesn't mean that I am taking away his right to choose. If he so wills it, he will accept your challenge. But you will leave him alone of he chooses not to." By this, Tsunade once again turned to Hinata and subtly gave her a wink.

The rest of the shinobi had their eyes widened as they all stared at Naruto.

Hinata got the hint fast. She stood up beside Naruto and declared with steel in her voice and fire in her spirit. "If Shizuka of Nadeshiko challenges Uzumaki Naruto for a duel, I will be taking his place. By clan laws, we are free to choose our spouse and anyone who seeks his hand in marriage must settle this dispute amongst ourselves. And settle it we shall. Tomorrow at dawn, I will be the one to accept Naruto's challenge and you will be facing me as the Hyuuga clan's representative."

Tsunade gave a smile and a nod. She then turned to the two kunoichi from Nadeshiko village and said, "You heard her. First thing tomorrow at dawn. Make sure you prepare yourself, Shizuka. I am sure the Hyuuga heiress will be coming at you with fangs bared."

The two kunoichi nodded and Shizuka said to Tokiwa, "Let us find ourselves a place for the night, Tokiwa, I must prepare myself for tomorrow."

She then turned her gaze back to Hinata and then to Naruto.

"Naruto-sama, you know as well as I do that I am NOT one to give up."

With that, she unfolded her umbrella and swirled it around before she and Tokiwa began to walk away from the bath houses and on to an inn.

"I'm sorry, Hinata, you had to get caught up in my messes." Naruto said this as he gave a sigh of relief for a moment as he got up and readjusted his haori. Tsunade shook her head.

"Technically, your stupid sensei is the one to blame. Honestly, that man is just a manchild most of the time." A huge perverted manchild, but Tsunade digresses.

Hinata, with a clearer head this time, offers her hand to Naruto and said, "Naruto-kun, I know its not your fault. I am upset, but not at you, I can never be upset at what you always do for other people. You are a beacon for them, you willingly guide them and you accept them without scorn or prejudice. That is your nature, and that nature is why I am with you now. So don't blame yourself for being you. I am happy that you are you, Naruto-kun, I will never change that about you."

Naruto merely scratched the back of his head and blushed a little as Tsunade looked on with a smile of her own.

"T-Thanks, Hinata." Naruto grabbed Hinata's hand and she pulled him close and into her arms for an embrace.

"Hinata?"

"Don't..." Hinata commanded the blonde and Naruto stopped talking. He remained silent for a moment and then Hinata spoke first.

"Don't talk for a moment. Please stay like this for a while. I need your warmth for now. This is all the encouragement that I need."

Ino, Sakura, Tenten and surprisingly Karin were silently cheering from the background and commanding Naruto to return the hug to Hinata.

"Ick... They are just too sweet sometimes."

Kiba interjected beside his female peers all of them kept staring at the Inuzuka who looked like he was about to ruin this special moment for them.

Karin's teammate, now sitting alongside Kiba added, "Man, I was hoping for a throw down earlier. I have to wait for tomorrow for that? Lame..."

This earned a glare from the female group.

Naruto simply returned the hug, and Hinata's smile grew as she tightened her embrace.

"I'll win tomorrow, Naruto-kun. I'll win and set you free from this challenge."

'And then you'll be mine.'

Naruto looked down on Hinata in his arms and smiled. "Win or lose Hinata, I'll never trade you for anyone else. That's never going to happen."

Naruto then had an idea, "Well, there's still daylight, why don't we go to the training grounds and train some?"

Hinata smiled at Naruto and nodded, "Yes, let's..."

Hinata then added, "And Naruto-kun?"

"Yeah?"

"Don't tell me about Shizuka's fighting style, I intend to win with my full power, on my own."

"You sure?" Naruto was confused by this, didn't Hinata want an advantage? He could literally tell everything now and Naruto was sure that she could beat Shizuka with no problems.

"Trust me, Naruto-kun."

Naruto shrugged at this, "Alright, if that's what you want."

With that, the pair headed of to the training grounds.

Naruto and Hinata went to the training grounds and did a light spar, more focused on Taijutsu than anything else. Naruto had noticed that Hinata had made significant strides in her taijutsu as she now used the momentum of her opponents against them. The flow of Hinata's hand to hand was much different from Neji's where he performed with more direct and accurate strikes, Hinata performed her Jyuuken with better fluidity and less rigid than what Naruto had come to know of the Jyuuken. Hinata's strikes were meant to be as fluid as possible, more in conjunction with her foot work and a lot less about delivering direct blows. Certainly, she wasn't faster than Neji, but Hinata had a more subdued but seriously fatal approach if she were to use her version of Jyuuken for actual combat. She always angled her limbs and feet to drive blows away from her and with that approach, expose a weak point that Hinata could exploit.

Naruto had noted that Hinata's Jyuuken was more calculated than Neji's that figuratively bludgeons the opponent to death while Hinata stabs them.

Hinata had dubbed her version of the Jyuuken as the Jyuuho (Gentle Step) and it honestly brought forth a taijutsu form that was fundamentally every bit as effective as the Jyuuken.

Naruto was impressed and then told Hinata of what he had been working on since his return.

"I'll show you, Hinata."

Naruto sat down and assumed a lotus position. Hinata watched in fascination as she saw Naruto's chakra flared and began building up. It took the blonde two minutes to gather and mix this energy from him. It looked like he was gathering some unknown energy to his chakra coils and then saw Naruto's eyelids turned to orange pigments and his deep blue eyes now were yellow with his pupils turned to bars like a toad's.

Hinata saw his chakra flare to larger portions of itself, circulating all around his body and bursting forth from every tenketsu point that she could see. To the naked eye, Naruto did not display much, other than the changes in Naruto's eyes but the chakra was emanating around him. Hinata watched as Naruto landed a blow to a rock that shattered it to dust. Hinata saw the chakra behave according to Naruto's will and witnessed how his chakra grew in potency and augmented Naruto's hand before he pulverized the large rock into nothing more than dust.

"This is Sage mode. I've recently learned how to enter sage mode during my last months at Myobokuzan. But the flaw of this technique is that it takes me roughly two minutes to get into which is a substantial flaw. In order for it to enter my system, I have to be still and gather as much natural energy as I can and mixing it with my own. It's still isn't battle ready, but I hope within the next few months I can overcome that hurdle and maintain sage mode longer than its intended use."

Hinata had never seen such a technique before. Not even in her wildest dreams. She could tell that Naruto's durability was increased, because not only was the chakra exuding power, it also formed as much as a protective skin for the user. She doubts that she could close Naruto's tenketsu points by conventional means. She doubts that even Neji or her father could do such a thing.

Then, Hinata remembered something, "Naruto-kun, your shadow clones transmit information back to you upon dispelling, am I right?"

Naruto nodded, "Yeah, they transfer information back to me upon dispelling, that and a little bit of my chakra comes back to me. Why do you ask?"

Hinata then answered, "Then that should solve your problem about entering this new mode, right?"

Naruto gave it a thought, "Well, I guess you have a point there, but the waste of chakra would be an issue, though I do have a lot of chakra, it doesn't mean that its efficient."

Hinata then recalls another event in which Naruto had given her a tag before her trial against Byakko.

"Why not a seal? You've given me one before, remember?" She asked and Naruto stared at Hinata with a dumbfounded expression.

A pause.

Then Naruto starts cackling madly and exclaimed, "Of course! I tried doing two separate things when I should be doing this in the first place!"

Naruto slapped his forehead as if he had overlooked such an obvious answer to his problem.

Naruto tried everything to improve upon using sage mode to make it viable in battle, gathering as much as he could and then balancing it only made things more difficult, he had tried merging with the toads forcefully but found out that Kurama's chakra outright rejected them, he then tried to load natural energy into a paper seal but found it so cumbersome that he could only make three of them and the seals petrified the piece of paper in his hands and no matter what he did, no matter how much modifications he used, nothing seemed to work even with Jiraiya's help. He had foregone using shadow clones. Although by principle and practicality, they were his best shot, the chakra usage was wasteful even with his massive reserves and sage mode ended up being shorter than what he would have liked.

So Naruto had a plan now and a seal design was already forming in his head.

Hinata looked puzzled at Naruto's thought process currently but she smiled nonetheless seeing Naruto looking much more exuberant than earlier. She then approached Naruto and told him that they should get dinner together and sit down to talk what was going through Naruto's head. Naruto was all too happy to comply.

Hinata had decided to go to a teppanyaki restaurant who ushered them in and the two found Shino and Fuu enjoying themselves at one table with Anko, Karin, Suigetsu and one Hinata didn't recognize as a large boy that was taller than Chouji on another.

Naruto had introduced her to the new team that was being led by Anko and the three curteously greeted them with Naruto vouching for Karin's statement as being a distant relative of his. Hinata seemed assured at Naruto's words that day about the red head, she thought that there was less competition involved and it eased her mind for a bit.


The next day:

Hinata and Shizuka stood in front of each other at the training ground. Their peers were all present to see them from a distance as the one to oversee their bout happened to be Hinata's father himself, Hiashi.

Behind the man was the presence of the Hyuuga elders and her sister, Hanabi.

Word had reached to the Hyuuga clan of the challenge that Hinata accepted as proxy for the demon container and the elders had taken notice of it. They had seen the progress of the heir apparent during their training and from what they could gather from yesterday's events, they wanted to confirm just how much the eldest of Hiashi's daughters had improved over the last few years.

For years, they were disinterested in her as the future of the Hyuuga clan, Hinata was weak in their eyes. She did not have the attitude nor the necessary ruthless nature that they were known for. To them, Hinata was a shrinking violet, a wall flower who did not seem like she would go far. But what happened since yesterday made them turn to look at the black sheep of the Hyuuga clan in a more neutral light.

Standing before her foe, Hinata went into the default Jyuuken stance. The elders were expecting something else, but if the heiress was resorting to the Jyuuken by default, then their interest had perked up.

Hiashi did not turn to look at the elders, for he knew that Hinata resorting to the Jyuuken would make them look without hesitation. He had known these dismissive men and women in his time as inattentive to the inner workings of the clan for years. He watched them ignore many of the problems that plagued the clan and maintain old and decrepit traditions that divided them for most of their history. Hiashi couldn't help but hold a smirk on his face as he raised his hand, signaling the two combatants to prepare.

Shizuka, seeing the man raise his hand up, had closed the umbrella covering her and held it by the side.

"This match will be no holds barred. The winner is decided when the loser yields or is knocked unconscious."

Naruto looked on in a frown. He had noted that Shizuka seemed to have gained a bag of tricks of her own since facing him a year or so ago. He remembered how nimble she was when she faced him, her skills were nothing to sneeze at, surely. But even he knew that facing a Hyuuga at a taijutsu match was just asking for pain.

The jyuuken was infamous as a lethal and very effective taijutsu style, the familiarity of it spread across the nations and its effects were known far and wide. In fact, it was so common that people rarely did not know of this style used by the Hyuuga.

"BEGIN!"

And the match begun.

Shizuka made the first move, she started her approach by going low and dashing towards Hinata at full speed. Hinata remained still, the veins around her eyes bulging activating her Byakugan. She remained calm as Shizuka closed the distance within them in less than three seconds. Shizuka then performs a thrust with her umbrella and Hinata simply redirected the flow of the umbrella away from her with a small glancing but chakra enhanced parry with her palms, the accessory turned weapon going past at her side, exposing Shizuka's weak point. Hinata then chose this opportunity to deliver a strike to the tenketsu on her shoulder. Shizuka, having good control of her own body, rolled with the parry and spun around as she unfurled her umbrella and used its open form as a shield against Hinata's strike. Hinata looked in surprise as she saw her fingers were flicked away when Shizuka deflected her strike.

Naruto saw this and noted that Shizuka was much faster than she was before. It was probably why she had caught up to him yesterday more than what he had expected. But to see it in person gave him a worrying glance at Hinata.

Hinata, instead of stumbling, used the direction of the parry much like Shizuka and spun around with the aid of her foot work and a small distance was gained between them.

Hinata then decided it was best that she got rid of the umbrella as Shizuka stood up, she twirled the umbrella on her shoulders, all the with her dominant hand maintaining a firm yet gentle grip on its handle while her less dominant one hovered just below the base of the handle.

"Nadeshiko ryu: Amegami no Odori (Nadeshiko style: Rain god's dance)"

Just beside Naruto, Sasuke watched intently with his sharingan, reading the moves used as they happened. He then mentioned to Naruto, "That woman from Nadeshiko has perfect body control. You only see that in good to expert taijutsu practitioners."

Lee couldn't help but agree, "I must agree. Her movements are typical of a taijutsu practitioner. She knows when to loosen and tense up and from the looks of it, she can do it on a majority of her own muscles. Such control can mean that she can match almost anyone in pure Taijutsu alone."

Sakura looked surprised at this, "Wait, so we're not just dealing with some fan girl here? As in we have a fan girl that actually knows her stuff?"

Ino gave a knowing nod, all to familar with that feeling, "Never underestimate a woman who has decided to sink her teeth on to something. They are relentless."

Sakura gave a sly grin and said, "Takes one to know one, eh?"

"I don't want to hear that from you, vice-president of the Sasuke-kun fan club."

Sakura promptly shut up.

Hinata then was the one that took the offensive. She ran towards Shizuka, her palms at the ready and stopped just in time for Shizuka to close her umbrella and swipe horizontally at her front, a hidden blade appearing up at the tip of the umbrella. Shizuka twirled and as Hinata dodged and readjusted her bearings, spinning around and then halting Shizuka's momentum with by sliding her foot forward stopping the girl's spin.

"It's like watching a dance rather than a fight." Chouji commented with the rest of his peers agreeing. They then saw Hinata parry the umbrella once more with Shizuka deflecting a palm strike to the chest, narrowly escaping Hinata's strike.

Shizuka had known of the Jyuuken as a child, a taijutsu practitioner like her would know not to deliberately engage a Hyuuga head on as the style was meant to disable with a single strike. It didn't matter if you could take a hit. A strike from a Hyuuga meant certain doom.

She jumped back and let a hail of kunai escape from her free hand, Hinata, with a simple lean to her right, the kunai had passed and missed her.

She gritted her teeth as Hinata pursued her.

Facing a Hyuuga means to never get within their range. Do not try to block or let her get a hit in. Fighting a Hyuuga meant that she had to be on her toes.

Another palm strike, this time aimed at her shoulder, Shizuka managed to lean back just enough that Hinata couldn't reach her.

A mistake.

Hinata had observed that Shizuka was competent in hand to hand combat. Any ninja worth their salt would now that stalemates will eventually tip over to those that had the necessary thinking to step up. And step up she did. A moment of weakness was seen and in a flash, Hinata struck with her right palm as it gathered air from her momentum.

"Hakke Kusho! (Eight Trigrams Air palm)" Condensed air then escaped a makeshift shell as a wave of air blasted from her palm and was sent towards Shizuka nailing her on the shoulder. Shizuka stumbled back and rolled on the ground, making a small trench as she was sent hurtling back.

Once she stopped she looked at her kimono, torn from that attack alone, but her armor was still intact. She could feel some bruising on her left shoulder but noted that she could still move it. Puzzled, she looked back at Hinata who remained standing and motionless as she remained in her Jyuuken stance.

"I never imagined that the Hyuuga could have such a trick up their sleeves." Shizuka mentioned, dusting herself off and then placing her umbrella on her right shoulder once more.

"The Kusho is a technique that was developed as a way for the Hyuuga to have the necessary range to intercept enemies at a distance." Hinata let another one rip as a wave of compressed air surged ahead and on to Shizuka who immediately opened her umbrella and placed it forward and twirled it as she disipated the attack from the Hyuuga.

"You know, that umbrella of hers is made of pretty strong stuff. I did some digging about that girl's village and let me tell you, that place is a goldmine for chakra absorbent heavy metals." Tenten watched attentively as Shizuka made another advance with Hinata meeting her head on, attacking and counterattacking, once again falling into a stalemate.

Karin adjusted her glasses at this, "That would explain how durable that thing is. Probably weighs a ton."

Suigetsu didn't seem too impressed by it, "But is it as heavy as the Kubikiri Houcho?"

Karin looked puzzled at this, "Why the hell are you asking me?"

"I don't know, I just kind of had to."

"You're a total weirdo, you know that?"

"Takes one to know one."

Jugo felt like facepalming himself at this when Karin splattered Suigetsu's face on the training grounds. Anko was laughing her ass off again. Her team was hilarious.

Shizuka growled, she couldn't capitalize her attacks at the Hyuuga heiress, finding her defense to be much more formidable than anticipated. As Hinata had continued to pressure her, Shizuka saw an opportunity when Hinata went to thrust her fingers to Shizuka's left shoulder.

The foreign kunoichi flipped her umbrella in a reverse grip and tilted Hinata's blow sideways once more, this time, Shizuka followed through. She planted the tip of her umbrella, blade still out, to the ground and quickly used the handle as support and delivered a kick straight towards Hinata's right shoulder. Hinata stumbled back, seeing the flaw of her Jyuho but regained her ground long enough to see Shizuka throw her umbrella upwards. As the umbrella peaked, it righted itself up and began spinning wildly

"Amegami no Odori: Senbon no Hari (Rain god's dance: One-thousand needles)"

A rain of needles thus fell upon Hinata who then spun around in a blur and used her clan technique, "Hakkesho Kaiten (Eight Trigrams Whirl)!"

A dome of chakra then escaped from Hinata as the needles were effectively deflected away from her. Shizuka wasn't done yet though and began weaving through several handsigns.

"Fuuton: Muttsu no Yari (Wind release: Six Spears)"

Six javelins made of wind then appeared beside Shizuka three on each side of her. With a flick of her hand, she launches them at Hinata one by one. Hinata dodged the first by jumping to the side only to stop as the second stopped her from taking another stop further. A third had appeared, this time lower than she would have liked. But Hinata managed to evade in time by jumping. Three more spears lunged at her, narrowly hitting her but managed to evade them all just in time as Shizuka commanded her spears of wind to return to her.

"Wind user, huh? Would expect those to be nearly non-existent from where she comes from." Asuma commented while Kurenai nodded, she glanced back to Hinata, a well of pride escapes her as she sees the progress Hinata has made throughout the years as her student. She then glances back to the Hyuuga group to the other side and noticed that the elders where now keen on watching this match now that Hinata had performed the Kaiten.

"Resorting to Ninjutsu now, is she? I find that this will be much more difficult for Hinata-sama from this point on." Neji mentions and Hanabi grins.

"Neji-nii-sama, from this point on, nee-sama will not hold back."

Beside her, Konohamaru looked at the Hyuuga curiously and then turned to look at Naruto who was watching the fight closely.

He had tried to take some of Hanabi's observation skills to the test of his own volition and found surprised that his role model was looking at Hinata in anticipation.

"Hinata-nee-chan sounds like she's been holding back. Even Naruto-nii is watching closely."

"So you are finally taking this seriously." Hinata mentioned and remained still as Shizuka only gave a nod.

"I was merely testing the waters as it were. Taijutsu alone, I know I could not best a Hyuuga without relying on my bukijutsu to even the playing field. But since you know the Kaiten, I am forced to rely on Ninjutsu and Bukijutsu to keep up."

it was then that Shizuka grabbed one of the wind javelins beside her and started to twirl it around like a true spear. To be more precise, a naginata. The javelin then took form of the intended shape, now glowing blue from the staff to the blade.

Hinata noticed the seals wrapping up on the girls gauntlets. The winds picked up the pace as it swirls around Shizuka.

"Prepare yourself, Hinata-dono. This is my Shippujin no Jinggi (Sacred Treasure of the Storm God)."

Just then, the remaining spears of wind mimicked the weapon in Shizuka's held weapon and turned into Naginata as well.

The Hyuuga elders watched in interest. Anticipating what the heir apparent would do. They were all astonished when Hinata maintained her calm and shouted.

"Suzaku-sama! To me!"

A small red bird then puffs out in smoke and landed on Hinata's head. It then changed form as fire blazed from Hinata's form and the red bird began to be consumed by the flames. Its figure was then changed to a large bird with four trailing tail like structures behind it with its neck extending and turning into a red phoenix.

"Shitenno: Minami no Seiritsu: Suzaku! (Four Guardian Gods: Alignment to the South: Vermilion Bird)"

Fire blazed all around Hinata as her form now sported a pair of red wings of chakra at her back with the feather constructs turning to a lighter orange color. The four tail-like protrusions of Suzaku were all present as well as they were attached to the wings, rising up as at the very tip of these tails had tongues of flame resting on them.

"Long have I waited for this moment. I asked for Naruto-kun to keep of what he knew about your abilities in order to be fair to you. But I also must confess, I wanted to see your best and hope that I will beat you there. Because I wanted you to know, that even with your best, I shall still prevail over you."

Shizuka seemed to smile at Hinata's words, "I see now that you have a certain ruthless nature about you, I cannot help but admire your resolve."

Shizuka tightens her grip on her jutsu and leapt at Hinata.

"But you will see that my resolve will not bend!"

Hinata flapped her wings of chakra as Shizuka approached her, the lance of wind came was over her head as Hinata evaded just in time. One of the tail feathers made its way to Hinata and the Hyuuga grabbed the flame with her left palm.

"Bakushougeki (Burst Palm Strike)"

BOOM!

A loud explosion escapes the area as Hinata let loose the flame from her palm and it expanded in mid air just as Shizuka had turned to look.

Everyone looking managed to brace themselves as a shockwave escaped from the epicenter of the blast as Hinata was thrown back by the force but stabilized her self in mid-air.

'This is an entirely new form. I was not prepared by the impact of that Jutsu. I can't use this here or I might end up damaging the area around me.'

Suzaku replied, 'Each of us are aspects of not just an element but of dominion over attributes. Byakko has dominion over speed, I have dominion over power, Genbu for defense and Seiryuu for...'

'skill?'

Suzaku could not answer straight to its summoner

'A dragon slithers and patiently mauls on its prey.'

Down below, the Hyuuga that were not Neji, Hanabi or Hiashi were looking at the heiress shocked.

They had never seen this kind of Jyuuken before. The ability to resonate with a summon, and apply their taijutsu style to it was a curious case study for them concerning their style.

The Jyuuken itself was effective, but to see it vary from the heiress since the beginning of this match was surprising.

It was no small fact that the Hyuuga were masters of their craft but Hiashi had warned them. Being a master of their said craft was what made them predictable and made their enemies aware of that fact.

Hiashi was no fool. That much, they knew. The man had envisioned for them that there will come a time where their style will become obsolete against the face of an ever changing world. The world knew of their style and more and more strategies were being developed ever since in dealing with the Jyuuken. He had told them time and again, that they needed to see the progress of the style in the hands of the young and that said counter strategies would make the Jyuuken more adaptable.

Now they were seeing it first hand and they have no words to describe such a sight before them.

The smoke and ash cleared, and from the dust and debris, they saw the foreign ninja relatively unharmed, and the five blue spears of wind spinning madly around her.

"A jutsu that can be used for both offense and defense... It is likely you learned that after fighting against Naruto-kun. The wind that must have been conjured up by your jutsu managed to negate the impact earlier. Am I correct to assume this?"

Shizuka made a smile as she turned to Hinata that was floating in mod air, small embers of flames escaping from her fiery wings. She looked like much of the legendary bird as well.

"Your deduction skills are on par. But that won't help you."

Shizuka crouches down for a few seconds, stillness born of years of training, before she leapt at the Hyuuga at a surprising height and she raised her wewapon ovehead and slashed down hard at Hinata who managed to get out of range and flew back as she watched the polearm miss her entirely, the five remaining wind spears aimed their blades at her and Hinata flailed the four feathered burning tails to her front, swatting the spears away from her and sending them flying.

"I've seen enough. Suzaku-sama, Shun-en (Flash Fire)."

It was not a request, but a command.

Hinata did not want to drag the fight on and Suzaku, seeing Hinata grow impatient and probably being affected by its own impetuousness, decided to follow through with what its summoner had in mind.

The tongues of flames burning from its tails grew fiercer and fiercer its orange hue changing to pure white and then just as it reached its peak, it vanished as it was snuffed.

Then, everything went all white and ear bursting explosion escapes from the area.

The area cleared, and the trees caught in the radius of that explosion were now nothing more than ashes wooden trunks burned down, and the water that had come into contact with the jutsu evaporated in a second. The crowd that were watching them had went back farther to escape from the blast itself.

Hinata looked down, and saw Shizuka on the ground, her jutsu dispelled. She had come out relatively unscathed, but some of the singed clothing and burn marks were present on the girl's arms and legs. Her enemy was on the ground, motionless, unconscious.

Hinata turned to her father, who had managed to survive the explosion by using the Kaiten.

Hiashi watched as the flame of wings behind his dauther's back had disappeared altogether and a red bird had suddenly popped on Hinata's shoulder.

"Winner of this match, Hyuuga Hinata."


Kumo:

Nii Yuugito bowed in front of her superior.

The Raikage stood before her with expectations set on his mind. His best shinobi had come home after a seemingly easy but important mission to keep an eye on a rising power by the seas.

It had taken months of intelligence reports and spies sent to this country as he caught wind of a daimyo consolidating power by gathering a paltry of missing nin to do the job for him of gathering all the necessary tools for his power base.

The Raikage, after learning of how his enemies can be as cunning as he, decided for a less direct and careful approach in weakening his perceived foes. Konoha had taught him that lesson. And the ninja that he had assigned to do the dirty work for him had paid the ultimate price for nothing. The family who had suffered from his loss were compensated, but they decided to move away from the center of military power in Kaminari no Kuni and go to someplace in the east.

Ay may have felt disappointment from this, but the man knew that such blunders would happen even if he did stack plan after plan for them.

So now, in the prospect of another belligerent country threatening the borders of his own, the Raikage decided to play the less aggressive game.

"Ah, I expected that you to arrive later than I thought. How did your mission go?"

"In terms of gaining a new ally in trade, we've succeeded in making a deal with Yuki no Kuni." Yuugito answered.

The Raikage raised an eyebrow at this, sensing a 'but' in her message.

"Kazahana Dotou, the former daimyo of Yuki no Kuni, was not deemed as the right person to rule by the noble families and common folk. At our arrival, we could see that the country was entrenched in a civil war with the resistance mainly made up of noble samurai families that disagreed on the future of their country, that was the initial assessment that we could see. With nothing to unify them, these families created alliances of their own and started several heavily uncoordinated campaigns against Dotou that were deemed as failures. I even partook in these skirmishes myself and initially saw that these rebellious folk could not withstand a shinobi raid on their bases of operation. That is, until they discovered the legitimate heiress to the former daimyo's line."

The Raikage became intrigued by his subordinate's words.

Now learning of the political situation in Yuki no Kuni, the Raikage seemed to begin a series of scenarios playing in his head, what he never expected though, came from Yugito's next set of stories.

"An actress that seemed to have been hiding in Hi no Kuni was identified as Kazahana Sousetsu's, the daimyo before Dotou, daughter by one of the family's retainers. It was through his negotiations with Konoha that they thought of finally laying rest to their squabbles and coalesce as a true alliance to fight against Dotou."

"So the alliance has sought help from Konoha? I'm sure you've clashed with them knowing that you were on opposite sides."

Yugito gave a nod.

"Yes, we did. But we ultimately stopped when one of the shinobi from Konoha proposed an idea of a three way trade alliance to halt on what would seem to be a tipping point."

A crisis averted.

The Raikage didn't know if he should feel angry or proud that his shinobi seemed to have handled themselves amicably now that he knew that Konoha was also aware of this belligerent country.

"And what of these shinobi?"

Yugito was silent for a few seconds, the words of Ay were expectant of her. She gave out a reply, "These shinobi, three of them, are young. Not as strong as Kage level yet, but they have the potential to classify as S-Class level threats. One of them, I am particularly wary of. His lineage denotes the name you are familiar with, Raikage-sama. Uzumaki."

Ay paused at those words.

The Uzumaki was a clan that was scattered to the winds. Their legend ended during the Second Shinobi World War. Their country laid waste, their people dead. The Uzumaki bloodline, sought after by their innate sealing ability and the even rarer ability to suppress Bijuu Chakra that were on par with the Uchiha and Senju clans of Konoha. One had suddenly appeared in their radar.

He remembered all those years ago, his father still the Raikage, decided to kidnap the known Uzumaki within Konoha's walls. They had failed in capturing said person and were thwarted by now what he could tell was a young Yondaime Hokage, Namikaze Minato.

The Uzumaki were sought after by their wealth of knowledge on Fuinjutsu and a particularly nasty rumor that would have brought another superpower to rise.

Ay stopped his musings at this as Yugito continued, "It is also to my knowledge, that this boy is also the container of the Kyuubi no Youko."

The Raikage's eyes turned into pinpricks at this realization.

"What... What did this shinobi look like, Yugito? What are his skills? What did you see?"

Yugito held her breath for a second, she took a deep breath, the anxiety of having to carry this revelation for days were not met with solace until she had arrived in Kumo. Yugito had to force to recall of what this particular shinobi looked like and what exactly he could do.

"... Blonde spiky hair, ocean deep blue eyes, three whisker marks on each cheek. If I were to compare this person's looks, I would say that he looks like a replica of the Yondaime Hokage."

Ay clenched his fists. He closed his eyes in anger, trying to control it and failing by the second, "His skills?"

"Kage Bunshin seems to be his favorite and most used skill, he uses it in conjunction to a repertoire of Futon Jutsu and can actually fly and his sealing proficiency can be compared to a master, he also has this jutsu that he names as the Rasengan and from the reports before reaching. He favors strength over speed but that doesn't mean that his speed is lagging. His seals had managed to hold me down long enough to propose the idea. I was supposed to kill him, but his words held merit in considering the alliance and we generally agreed. Any further skirmishes done and it would have probably resulted in him unleashing the Nibi from the seal and transferring it to another. He may very well could tamper with my seal, but he chose not to. So rather than risking the Nibi be in the hands of Konoha, I decided to listen to his proposal instead."

By now, all the alarm bells were ringing in the Raikage's head. The said boy's skill was almost an exact replica of his most hated foe during the third war.

Yugito's decision had been a prudent one. If indeed this boy was an Uzumaki, then it did not bode well with Yugito but it did mean that the boy was foolish enough to not press the advantage.

"And what do you make of this boy's behavior?"

"Idealistic in the least, conniving at best. He finds solutions where neither of us are at an advantage."

Ay nodded. The large and hulking man turned to his assistant.

"Have this boy put in the Bingo Book. Anyone who catches the boy will be rewarded with at least three million. This boy is dangerous."

Ay then turned to Yugito and a question "The complete name?"

"Uzumaki Naruto."

To be continued...


Time to advance this after the first arc. The second arc begins next chapter.

Sorry, Real life caught up again. I'm currently being bogged down by work. I'm thinking of resigning from doing 80+ work hours every week. It's not healthy. I don't think I'm fit for it. I think applying for an 8-5 job better suits me in a small clinic. It gives me a life after work and I don't have to be anxious about what's coming next. My only regret is leaving behind my friend who I helped through with a lot of things. I guess I'll see things first before I finally decide.

Anonymous reviews have been disabled. Login to review. 1. The Stone that Ripples Waters 13228 0 0 2. The Effect: The First Movement 8867 0 0 3. The Effect: The Second Movement 10598 0 0 4. The Effect: Result 7879 0 0 5. Resonating 9957 0 0 6. Full Bloom 10114 0 0 7. Soldier of Fortune 10872 0 0 8. Legacy Awakened 9583 0 0 9. Tranquility 9813 0 0 10. Waves from A Ripple 11051 0 0 11. Flickering Flames 11564 0 0 12. Wilting Flowers 11513 0 0 13. Phantom 10033 0 0 14. Reasoning 9751 0 0 15. This Winding Road Part One 11952 0 0 16. This Winding Road Part Two 17097 0 0 17. Epilogue Book 1 13428 0 0 18. Book 2: Metamorphosis Part 1 10083 0 0 19. Book 2: Metamorphosis Part 2 11223 0 0 20. Metamorphosis END 13460 0 0 21. Legacy Part 1 14797 0 0 22. Legacy Part 2 11298 0 0 23. Legacy Part 3 8616 0 0 24. Inheritors part 1 12113 0 0 25. Inheritors part 2 12138 0 0 26. Inheritors part 3 9565 0 0 27. Succession part 1 9726 0 0 28. Succession part 2 11069 0 0 29. Succession part 3 book 2 END 12168 0 0 30. Book Three Chapter 1: Rebirth 11842 0 0 31. Beginning 10413 0 0 32. Renown 10217 0 0 33. Assault 15002 0 0 34. Challenge 13082 0 0 35. Sublimation 15277 0 0 36. The First Encounter 12700 0 0 37. Three Dragons 10106 0 0 38. The Long Night 12167 0 0 39. The Enemy Within 11032 0 0 40. Chapter 40 9116 0 0