Naruto took a deep breath and gathered his chakra. He had spent the last three years working on this jutsu with Ino and her clan, as well as some of the members of the interrogation division. This jutsu, if it worked how they thought it would, would completely mitigate any need for interrogation, torture, any of that, by simply allowing them to transfer memories between two people, either showing another person one's own memories or reading another person's memories. It wasn't quite as efficient as the Mind Transfer Jutsu, but it also had the potential to be far less damaging on a person's psyche than their current methods of reading a person's mind.
Naruto had about a thousand thoughts in his mind. He had been working on this jutsu for so long, and he still wasn't entirely sure if it would even work. Ino had been extremely hesitant to even allow it to be tested without developing it further. Still, Naruto had told her, and he truly believed it, that without testing it to see what it even did at the current stage, they couldn't work out any more kinks. After all, without seeing what the kinks were, they couldn't know what to fix.
All the same, it was all Naruto could do to not let his nerves get the best of him. After all, he was about to cast a jutsu without really knowing for sure exactly what it would do. As Hokage, he knew he couldn't allow anyone else to do this, but he also was kind of scared to actually do it. To help enhance its potency, Naruto was gathering Sage chakra as well. Once he felt sure he had enough chakra, both Sage and his own, he took a deep breath, ran through the relatively short sequence of hand signs they had developed for the jutsu, took yet another deep breath, and channeled his chakra. "Memory Transfer Jutsu," he said. Nothing seemed to happen.
Shrugging, Naruto breathed a sigh of relief. "Well, at least nothing really went wrong," he said to himself. "We can figure out later why it didn't work." Returning his attention to the never-ending paperwork, he soon was finished for the day.
Upon returning home, Naruto was greeted by Hinata. "Hello, Naruto," she said softly with a happy smile. "How did your day go?"
Naruto chuckled. "I tried to cast that memory jutsu the Yamanakas have been helping me with lately, but it didn't really seem to do anything," he said, rubbing the back of his head. Hinata giggled. Naruto smiled. "At least it didn't hurt anything," he said after a moment. "It is a bit disappointing that it didn't work, though." As he was talking, Naruto busied himself making some instant ramen and sat at the table to eat.
Hinata rested a comforting hand on Naruto's shoulder. "I know you've been working on that jutsu for a long time," she said in her soft voice. "I'm sure it's frustrating to have it not work, but I'm sure you'll figure out what went wrong."
Naruto smiled and rested a hand on Hinata's. "Yeah, you're right," he said with a slightly sheepish look. "The Yamanakas are awesome, after all. I'm sure they can figure out what's wrong with it."
Hinata smiled at Naruto's slight self-deprecation. "And I'm sure you'll be totally useless in figuring it out," she said teasingly. Naruto smiled up at her through a mouthful of ramen, knowing she was just messing with him. Hinata giggled. "Really, though, you're the Hokage for a reason, Naruto, I'm sure you'll be as much help in figuring out what went wrong as anyone."
Naruto laughed in between bites. "I hope so. It doesn't matter who figures it out, I just hope we can get that blasted jutsu to work. It would be a big help in interrogating people. I mean, it's damn near impossible to know if someone is lying unless you can read their mind."
Hinata giggled. "Not like we have too much trouble with criminals anymore," she said. Naruto grinned, knowing full well that was basically because of him. Hinata smiled back, then added, "And if we do, we can always let the interrogation division read their minds."
"Yeah, we can," Naruto said, then added, "but I can only imagine what that would do to someone, having some guy rifling through your memories like that." He shivered. "That's the whole point of this jutsu, we want to be able to see into a person's mind without screwing them up at all."
Hinata giggled. "So, what you're saying is, this jutsu is being made strictly to spare people who have done bad stuff from mental suffering," she said. "That is so like you, Naruto."
Naruto chuckled. "I guess it is. Maybe I'm just too soft," he said back. Hinata shook her head at this. "I know you don't think so, but sometimes I wonder if things wouldn't have been better if I hadn't gone so easy on some of the Akatsuki and what not."
Hinata just smiled. "You wouldn't be you if you didn't do things like that, though," she said with a smile. "And I wouldn't have you any other way," she added.
Naruto smiled at this. "Are the kids in bed already?" he asked. Hinata nodded. "We should probably get to bed soon, too. We have busy days ahead of us tomorrow."
Hinata smiled and rubbed his back a bit. "I was just waiting up for you to get home. I'm exhausted, and I'm going to go ahead and head to bed, actually."
Naruto smiled and stood up. He gave Hinata a big hug and a small, chaste kiss, then patted her back as she headed to bed. "I'll be in soon," he said with a smile. Hinata gave him a playful wave as she went into their bedroom.
Naruto finished up with his ramen, washed up, and went to bed himself. Little did he know how much things were going to change the next day.
The Next Morning
Upon awaking, Naruto found himself in an unfamiliar place. The room he was in was way too big to be his room. He felt like the bed he was in was...too big, and yet not, for him. It took him a moment to realize something else wasn't right. He wasn't alone. There was an arm around his waist, and a warm body was pressed up against his back. He could feel every single inch of that body, especially...certain assets.
He took a moment, trying to figure out what in the world was going on and breathing deeply to keep from panicking, then he tried to sit up. The arm around his waist moved up and pulled him more tightly to...whoever was back there. He did notice, however, that he seemed to have gained at least a full foot overnight. He also felt...stronger than he remembered feeling. His muscles were way more toned, and his chakra...it felt like he had almost twice as much as he had ever had before.
As he was taking stock of this, a voice practically moaned into his ear, "Don't get up yet, Naruto. Let's stay in bed a bit longer."
That voice was familiar to him, but his half-awake mind couldn't even begin to process how he knew it, never mind whose voice it was. The only thing he could focus on was that that voice was clearly a female voice. If his mind hadn't already been on the fritz, he would likely have realized it was Hinata's voice he had heard.
Naruto carefully extracted himself from the arm, trying to not awaken the person behind him. He managed it, only eliciting an occasional moan or grumble from the person holding him. Once he had slipped out of the arm, Naruto stood up and bolted to the bathroom he saw on the other side of the room. Staring in the mirror, Naruto couldn't deny that something was very, very wrong. He looked at least ten years older than he remembered being the day before. But how was that possible?! He didn't look...old, really, probably in his early to mid twenties, but the last thing he could remember was being twelve!
If Naruto hadn't already been in shock from discovering his...sudden aging, he would have gone into shock when he heard a small voice in the room he had just vacated. "Mommy, Daddy?" the voice said. Naruto turned and saw possibly the most adorable little girl he had ever laid eyes on. Her hair was the same color as Hinata's and in a similar cut, but with a single strand going straight up. Her eyes were blue, like his, and she had the same whisker marks Naruto himself did on her cheeks, only she had two on each side rather than three.
The little girl turned to where Naruto was and grinned. "Daddy!" she squealed and ran to him. It was all Naruto could do to catch the girl when she launched herself at him. He picked her up and stepped out of the bathroom. Hinata was sitting up in the bed now, and Naruto got his first look at her. He knew instantly it was Hinata, but she too was much older than he remembered. Her hair, which he remembered being short, was now more than halfway down her back. Her light eyes were trained on him and this little girl.
"Well, so much for staying in bed," she said with a smile. "Himawari, can't you ever let your parents sleep in, just once?" Hinata's voice sounded stern, but she was smiling, so Naruto figured she was just teasing the kid, whose name he now knew to be Himawari.
Himawari smiled at her mother. "I woke up, and I wanted to see Mommy and Daddy," she said. Her voice and her innocent, very young child logic, were both so adorable Naruto felt himself melting. He had only just met this kid, and he already would have put his life on the line to protect her.
Hinata was also smiling affectionately at the kid. Naruto sensed that she would also do anything to protect...their daughter, he figured.
Had Naruto been alone, or had this little girl not burst in when she did, he likely would have been having a meltdown for the last three minutes. Because of the presence of both Hinata and Himawari, though, he hadn't had time to really think and had just been acting for the last few minutes. Now, however, there was a moment of peace.
Naruto set the girl on the bed, backed up a bit, and looked around. Everything he was dealing with finally caught up with his still-sleep-addled brain, and he started to freak out. He would have run, but he had no idea where he would run to, exactly, so he just stood there, panting heavily. At that moment, yet another surprise was laid on Naruto's already taxed brain. A boy who looked just a little too much like Naruto himself walked into the bedroom. "Oh, Boruto, you're up too," Hinata said. The boy nodded. He looked to be about ten, just a bit younger than Naruto thought he himself should be. "Could you take your sister down to the kitchen so your father and I can get ready, please?" Hinata asked.
Boruto nodded and held out a hand for Himawari. The girl hesitated for a moment, then went to her brother, and the two left the bedroom.
Hinata looked at Naruto. "Okay, you," she said after a moment. "I can see you're freaking out. What's going on?"
Naruto took a deep breath. He wasn't used to someone reading him like that. "That's what I want to know!" he said. He noticed in a corner of his mind that his voice was much deeper than he remembered, but that was just one thing in a thousand right now, so it almost didn't faze him.
Hinata raised an eyebrow. "I mean why are you freaking out, Naruto?" she asked.
Naruto took another deep breath, trying desperately to stay calm. "I went to bed last night, alone, age twelve, and I wake up today here, with you and those two kids, seemingly much older, and I have no idea why!" he said, his voice cracking a bit toward the end.
Hinata gasped. "You...don't remember anything?" she asked. Naruto shook his head. Hinata took a moment to think, then said, "The memory jutsu!"
Naruto raised an eyebrow at this. "What memory jutsu?" he asked after a moment when Hinata wasn't forthcoming with any more details.
Hinata sighed. "You've been working on a memory jutsu with the Yamanaka Clan for the past three years, give or take. You tried casting it yesterday, but you said it didn't work. I'm guessing this is the results of that," she said.
Naruto took that in, then asked, "Why would the Yamanaka Clan be working with me on a new jutsu?" He wasn't upset about it, but he was more than a little confused why a clan like them would rely on a relative nobody like him.
Hinata smiled, then responded with a rhetorical question of her own. "Who else would they work with but the Hokage?"
Naruto took in that bombshell. "I'm the Hokage?!" he almost shrieked out. "Since when?"
Hinata paused a moment, then answered, "You've been Hokage for six years now, I guess. Himawari was three when you were inaugurated, and she's nine now, so yeah, six years."
"Wait...I have a nine-year-old kid?" Naruto asked. "Wait...how old am I?"
Hinata giggled. She couldn't help it. Naruto was just too adorable when he was freaking out like this. "We're 30, Naruto," she said back. "You really don't remember anything from the last 18 years?" She was doing her best to remain calm, but internally, she was panicking. Her husband, the Hokage, didn't remember anything about their relationship, their kids, the war they had fought together, nothing? This was possibly the worst thing to ever happen.
Naruto sighed. "I guess I don't. The last thing I remember is...the Chunin Exams, and fighting Gaara," he said after a moment. When Naruto had first awoken, he had thought he was having some kind of hallucination brought on by chakra exhaustion, but now he was far too much awake to believe that anymore. Something had definitely gone wrong, and Hinata's comment about a memory jutsu seemed to fit. Given his last memories, something suddenly occurred to Naruto. "Is Sakura okay?" he asked.
Hinata, not knowing what he meant, responded with the only thing she could say. "She's fine. She and Sasuke are married with a daughter."
Naruto processed that and breathed a sigh of relief. "Then Gaara didn't kill them. Good," he said.
Hinata giggled. "Gaara's Kazekage now, by the way," she said with a mischievous glint in her eye.
Naruto had been shocked one time too many in the past five minutes. His mind simply couldn't take that one. It was just too much. He was never prone to this, but his mind was just so overloaded, Naruto could only do one thing. He fainted. Hinata caught him before he hit the floor and maneuvered him back to the bed, laying him down where he had been sleeping so recently.
Hinata giggled, then breathed a small sigh of relief. "I shouldn't be, but I'm kind of glad he fainted," she said to herself. "I couldn't take explaining anymore to him right now." Taking a breath, she braced herself, then said, "Okay, Hinata, now what are you going to do about this mess?"
A/N: Yeah, yeah, I know, I haven't even updated all my old stories, and here I am starting a new one. This plot bunny came out of nowhere and just wouldn't leave me alone until I wrote it. I hope you guys like the idea. This will focus a lot on Hinata and Naruto rebuilding their relationship and not much on politics or anything like that. Also, Naruto and the kids will be a bit of a focus, too, seeing as he can't really perform the duties of a Kage in his current state. Like I said, hope you guys like it, and I'll try to update it again here soon.