Naruto's Blessings

Disclaimer: I do NOT own Naruto.


Hanabi's eyes went wide for all of an instant before she braced to duck under a roundhouse kick from Hinata, taking aim to strike at the chakra points in the offending leg. But the elder sister jumped back, just enough for the strike to miss as she corrected her stance and instantly set upon Hanabi once more.

While in awe of her sister's sudden confidence and will, Hanabi did not intend to let the surprise be her downfall. That said, with her sister taking this truly serious, she found the one disadvantage she always knew came with being the little sister.

Hinata had a greater height and reach than she did, making it easier to block, misdirect, and evade Hanabi's attacks. Consequently, Hanabi found herself on the defensive straight from the outset. Gritting her teeth as she parried another gentle fist strike, she leapt past Hinata's guard to temporarily eliminate the size gap and strike at Hinata's left shoulder.

The little sister had no idea if she landed the blow or not before Hinata's right hand struck a chakra point in Hanabi's extended wrist and, in near the same instance, grabbed it with a vice grip. Pulling with all her might, Hinata used her sister's momentum to swing her around and slam her in the floor.

Byakugan eyes met with intensity and Hanabi was glad to see she hadn't missed in the shoulder attack. But one point was not enough to stop someone from using the Gentle Fist or their arm. That said, Hinata's arm obviously wasn't as steady as it had been.

Hanabi bit back a grunt of pain as Hinata took strikes at her stomach, around her charka core. Alarms going off through her head, Hanabi kicked her legs up to wrap them around Hinata's arm, clinging to it like a koala as Hinata tried to pull her off. Hanabi quickly disabled the chakra points in rapid succession up and down Hinata's arm, rendering it usel-

Hanabi couldn't help the groan of pain that burst from her mouth as she impacted with the ground hard. What just happened? Hinata had been fine; her legs shouldn't have given out.

And they hadn't, Hanabi realized with foggy approval. Hinata had dropped to the ground, making sure Hanabi's skull impacted with her. While Hanabi was wrapped around the arm, Hinata's own legs were now pinning Hanabi to the limb no matter how she struggled.

Hanabi glared in defeat as she watched her sister's hand move up her back and...disappear? No, not disappear, it was in the blind spot, Hanabi realized and braced herself for the quick jab to the base of her skull, her body going limp.

Hinata pulled her arm free from the motionless form of her sister, rolling her head to pop her neck and examine her wounds. Hanabi's feet had nicked her when wrapping around her arm. Speaking of which, she got to her feet and began reopening the points in the limb, taking a relaxing breath as chakra flowed back into it.

Than the adrenaline wore off and reality finally hit her: she had won.

She turned to her father, who had witnessed the spar with two elders to confirm its result. Despite Hyuuga stoicism, she could see clearly they were at least taken back by this turn of events.

"Father, would you please?" she requested with a small smile, nodding to her sister's body.

Hiashi needed nothing more to re-center himself, walking over to his daughters and kneeling down to put a finger on the back of Hanabi's head.

The Hyuuga blind spot was more dangerous than others knew. It marked a spot that a single Gentle Fist strike into could render the entire body paralyzed from the neck down, permanently if overcharged. It was fortune that the Gentle Fist emphasized fine control and minimum chakra expense with its strikes.

"Congratulations, Heiress Hinata," Hiashi offered with veiled praise and the barest ghost of a smile as he stood, Hinata bowing in thanks and obviously beaming inside more than her smile hinted at.

"Thank you, Father," Hinata accepted as her sister groaned, slowly moving her limbs. "...Sister, are you alright?" Hinata asked in concern.

"I'll get up on my own, just...someone turn me over," Hanabi requested begrudgingly. Their father looked almost- almost!- amused as his eldest leaned down, gently flipping his youngest over. Hinata was relieved to see not only was Hanabi's expression not angry, but she was actually smiling; cocky and pained, but a smile nonetheless. "Well, you finally grew a spine, Sis," she complimented with a chuckle.

"I had some...perspective given to me recently," Hinata retorted vaguely, giggling before looking apologetic. "I'm sorry, Hanabi."

"For what? Kicking my ass? Don't be," Hanabi assured, waving her hand dismissively despite her limp arm looking utterly ridiculous. If Hiashi had issue with the crass language, he had chosen not to voice it.

"No...for never taking you seriously. I was so worried about hurting my sister, that I forgot how little that must make you think of me," Hinata elaborated passionately before bowing her head.

Hanabi's breath caught in her throat as her eyes shimmered. "...I forgive you, Hinata," Hanabi granted in a small voice, before groaning as she forced her body to sit up. Hinata resisted the urge to comfort her sister and tell her to take it easy, but allowed the smaller female to get herself up into a kneeling position. Hanabi smirked as she looked up at her sister with reborn respect. "And thank you, Heiress. WA!"

The Clan Head and Hyuuga elders both pretended to not pay attention to Hinata wrapping her sister in a bear hug. Hiashi nodded for the two elders to leave, having seen what they needed for this.

"I love you, Hanabi," Hinata whispered happily into her sister's hair.

"Hinata. Still stiff. Please let go. My everything hurts," Hanabi pleaded, wincing at the contact.

"Oh!" Hinata exclaimed in surprise as she quickly released her sibling.

"...Love you too," Hanabi answered with a grin before rolling her shoulders and sitting down to rest. "I'm just going to...sit here until I'm good to walk again. Father, is there anything else for the day?" she inquired, hoping for a negative.

"Hinata needs to prepare to meet her team tomorrow, so no," Hiashi reminded, leaving it unstated that Hanabi no longer needed lessons on being the clan head one day. "Hinata, I trust you can handle yourself for the rest of the day?" he asked with a raised eyebrow.

"Yes, Father," Hinata answered, momentarily blushing as she realized Naruto now owed her a date. "I-If you'll excuse me, I'll retire to my room," she requested, getting a nod before quickly departing.

"...So, what did you say to her, exactly?" Hanabi asked, raising an eyebrow up at her father.

"Hinata's change is as much a mystery to me as you," Hiashi explained, his expression softening at his youngest. "Are you alright with this, Hanabi?"

"Losing the title of heiress to my elder sister after she kicked my ass?" Hanabi asked bluntly, smiling wistfully. "Yeah, I'm alright with this."

"You do realize you might end up in the Branch Family in the next few years?" Hiashi reminded with regret that only a handful of people would pick up. The one good thing about Hanabi being the heiress was that he could justify not branding either for much longer than normal, on the principle that Hinata MIGHT surpass Hanabi. Something his own father could have but didn't do with him and Hizashi.

Hanabi nodded with a maturity one her age shouldn't have. "I'll be happy if so, Father. If I go there, it means my big sister really is as strong as I always knew she was..."

Next Day

"Geeze, Naruto. I was beginning to think I lost my best customer," Teuchi joked with a grin as he watched the boy guzzle down a fresh bowl.

"Sorry. I got a little turned around the night before I graduated and, well, something came up yesterday," Naruto said sheepishly.

"Something, or someone?" Ayame teased with a sly smile. "I heard rumors about you pulling along a girl somewhere, Naruto~"

Naruto blushed under the treatment as the shop owner's eye twinkled. "Oh! Is our little Naruto finally growing up? Is it that Sakura girl you've been crushing on?" he egged on.

"N-no," Naruto answered, scratching his cheek sheepishly. "Actually, she had a crush on me...has? Is it still a crush if we're, you know, looking into it?"

'He's so cute when he overthinks things,' Ayame "said" with a giggle behind her hand. "That's called dating, Naruto," Ayame corrected with a cackle at his exasperated look.

"So, when do we get to meet the future Miss Uzumaki?" Teuchi asked wryly.

Naruto groaned under the relentlessness of it all. "Oh, come on, don't be like-"


Cue a blue haired missile taking him off the stool. The chef and his daughter blinked owlishly as they looked over the counter.

"Wow, Hinata-Chan! Warn a guy or we'll both get covered in ramen," Naruto said, smiling through his surprise as the girl positively buzzed with happiness.

Hinata had an almost stupid grin, the lightest of blushes dusting her face while her arms were around Naruto's neck. "I did it! I won! I kicked my little sister's ass and you were right!" she cheered as she held the boy of her dreams close.

"Really? That's great!" Naruto congratulated with an eye smile before realization dawned on him. "And now I owe you a cinnamon picnic," he admitted with a chuckle.

"Umm, Naruto? Care to introduce us?" Teuchi asked while Ayame just stared, looking as dumbfounded as he felt.

"Oh, right!" Naruto said nervously, Hinata blushing harder as she quickly stood up and allowed Naruto to rise. "Hinata, the old man Teuchi Ichiraku and his daughter, Ayame. Makers and owners of the best ramen in the world. I've been coming here for years, so we know each other," he explained with his signature grin. Teuchi was too curious about this friend of Naruto's to catch the crack at his age. "Ayame, Teuchi? This is Hinata Hyuuga, my...friend that I think I'm trying to date right now?" Naruto answered uncertainly.

"I-it's a pleasure to meet you," Hinata answered with a smile and a small bow. "And I think you can call me your girlfriend now, Naruto-kun. I-I mean, if you want to, that is!" Hinata assured before looking worried about overstepping.

'...Holy shit, SHE'S afraid to offend him?!' the daughter-father duo realized in shock.

Naruto laughed a bit at their reactions. "Yeah, I had to tell her to stop apologizing for kissing me," Naruto said with a tease.

"Naruto-kun!" Hinata whined, her face flushing harder as she poked her fingers together.

"And you didn't want to just call her your girlfriend because?" Ayame asked warningly.

Naruto shrugged. "I don't know when or what makes a couple official, sue me," he countered bluntly "And, well, I didn't know if Hinata-Chan would even want me to say that."

The trio all had looks of understanding, though Hinata looked the most upset by it. "Of course I would!" she exclaimed loudly, covering her mouth in shock at the volume. He looked to her in surprise, causing her to glance away with a smile. "I-it's what I wanted most."

Ayame smiled, realizing that Naruto had managed to find a girl that not only liked him but noticed his less than pleasant life.

"...Well, guess I got a girlfriend then," Naruto said cheekily, Hinata glowing giddily in response. The Genin then went wide eyed as he caught the time. "Oh crap, we're going to be late! Thanks for the food; I'll pay you next time!" Naruto promised before running off, grabbing Hinata's hand to pull her along. The Hyuuga heiress would have been more happy about that if she wasn't now also worried about her father hearing she arrived late for team assignments. She was not ruining things that quickly!

The Ichiraku family exchanged looks as the couple left. "Did I hear her right? She kicked her little sister's ass?" Teuchi asked in confusion.

"And it was Naruto's idea," Ayame answered with a nod.

Teuchi just sighed and shook his head. "Ninja. Crazy, all of them."


Sasuke Uchiha quietly sat at his chair as he had done for most of the school year when they weren't doing anything hands-on. He was honestly savoring the time until his two biggest fangirls, Ino and Sakura, showed up and ruined the relative peace. He could tune out murmuring and regular school noises, but it was a little difficult to completely ignore people trying to get his attention.

And while it might be beneficial to consider getting to know some of his female classmates for rebuilding his clan one day, he honestly just couldn't summon the desire to. Not in the sexual sense, though he was still debating his type. He didn't know if puberty hadn't hit the lust phase yet or if it just required the female being moderately powerful. No, the real issue was that he felt it was pointless to consider having a family until he killed Itachi, avenging his old family and not having to worry about losing them to the same man.

He was pleasantly surprised when the door slammed open and his peace was disturbed not by Ino and Sakura, but by a very out of breath Hinata and a triumphant Naruto. "SAFE! We made it on time!" Naruto declared with a sigh of relief. Given how flushed, sweaty, and out of breath his girlfriend was, several students gave them suspicious looks. Naruto raised an eyebrow at all of them. "You all got a problem?" he asked with his arms crossed. While some would normally mock the dead last for his bravado, they all just let it go. No point in getting in trouble on their last day in the classroom. "You okay, Hinata-Chan?" he asked curiously.

"Yeah! I'm fine!" Hinata assured with a bright smile. "I'm just not as fast as you, Naruto-kun."

Most of the class eyed the normally shy girl and dense dead last as they searched for a pair of seats, before they spotted the empty chairs next to Sasuke.

Sasuke raised an eyebrow as he watched Naruto take the middle seat and Hinata sit at the end, the Hyuuga and Uzumaki couple sharing a look before chuckling at something they found funny about the entire situation. It was...different, sitting next to a couple rather than listening to girls trying to be a couple with him. While he ultimately had no real emotional stake in either of his classmates, he could objectively say that they did seem happy with each other for now. Still, how did that come about?

"I'm first!"

And with that, Sasuke looked forward, choosing not to acknowledge the exchange in the back between Ino and Sakura. He mentally counted down from five once he heard the running again, getting closer to him.

"Move it, Naruto!" Sakura demanded as she knocked him off the prized seat.

"What the heck!?" Naruto said in surprise as he looked up from his spot on the floor-


-Just in time see Sakura fall down on the floor, gaining everyone's attention. Even Sasuke, who looked surprised at the scene.

"Who the heck di-!?" Sakura yelled as she turned to glare, only to gulp. Hinata, the wallflower of the class, was giving her a hard stare, her hand still on the chair she had obviously pulled aside.

"This is Naruto-Kun's seat," Hinata said with a frown.

"Naruto-Kun?" Sakura repeated incredulously as she looked over at the boy she pushed, then to Hinata, and back again.

"Something wrong, Sakura-Chan?" Naruto asked, one part cocky, but two parts concerned.

'How did a loser like Naruto get a girlfriend?' Sakura 'said' in amazement.

Naruto was about to roll his eyes until he blinked. Did his brain stall or had Sakura said that without moving her lips?

"Okay, you know what?" Sakura said as she stood back up. "I'm just going to let that one go," she said, brushing herself off. She was a fangirl, but she was also a romantic. She wasn't about to ruin another couple's last day in class. That said, she did turn to send her best "dazzling smile" at Sasuke. "See you soon, Sasuke-kun!"

"Hn," the Uchiha's refusal to acknowledge her only seemed to enthrall her more somehow before heading back to find another seat.

"What was that about?" Ino asked to Sakura in confusion.

"Naruto has a girlfriend," Sakura answered, still a bit surprised herself.

"Well, that's a horrible way to start my ninja career," Naruto murmured as he got back into his seat. "Thanks, Hinata-Chan," he said with a boyish smile that made her weak in the knees all over again.

"O-of course, Naruto-kun," she said, letting out a sigh of relief from having to hold that glare for so long. 'I can't believe I actually did that,' Hinata thought, a touch giddy.

Naruto raised an eyebrow at that comment, but didn't say anything. Partially because he wasn't sure she meant to say that aloud, but mostly because Iruka and Mizuki entered the class.

"Well, congratulations, boys and girls. This'll be the last day you have to listen to our ugly mugs for a while," Mizuki greeted in jest, getting some snickers around the room. 'Or so most of you think.'

"Eh?" Naruto said intelligently, looking at the Sensei oddly even as the rest of the class kept laughing, even Hinata looked amused. 'Was I the only one that heard that?'

"Mizuki," Iruka scolded with a sigh.

"Lighten up, Iruka. Just trying to end it on a high note," Mizuki responded, waving his concerns off.

The scarred Chunnin rolled his eyes before stepping forward to the now silent class with pride in his eyes. "As of today you are all ninja. To get here you faced difficult trials and hardships. But that's nothing, what comes next will be far more difficult. Now you are only Genin, first level ninja. All the Genin will be grouped into three man squads. Each squad will be led by a Jonin. An elite ninja," he informed, getting the complete attention and interest of the room.

"Three, huh?" Naruto murmured, looking to Hinata curiously. To his amusement and endearment, she was crossing her fingers.

"Obviously, we want all squads to be balanced with different strengths and abilities," Mizuki stated as he and Iruka each opened a folder. "If you hear a team number get skipped, pay it no mind, we recycle those," he added on absently as they both started to announce the squads.

"Squad Seven," Iruka read off. "Naruto Uzumaki."

The whiskered youth sat up immediately, wondering just who he was with.

"Sakura Haruno."

"Dammit, a day ago I would have loved that," Naruto muttered even as he heard Sakura groan from the middle isle. He wasn't that smart, but even he noticed the two-to-one ratio for guys and girls on teams so far.

"And Sasuke Uchiha."

"Oh come on," Naruto let his head fall at that, ignoring Sakura's cheering.

"I-it's okay, Naruto-kun," Hinata reassured, trying to smile through her own disappointment while patting him on the back.

"Your Jonin sensei will be Kakashi Hatake," Iruka finished, a bit amused yet pitying Naruto. He'd have to congratulate the kid on finally noticing Hinata though.

"It's fine, Hinata-chan. Good rolls of luck end eventually," Naruto assured with a smile. "Besides, you'll probably get the second most kickass team."

"If you're both done," Mizuki scolded briefly, getting an apologetic look from the heiress and a sheepish grin from the fox-boy. "Squad Eight is Kiba Inuzuka, Hinata Hyuga, and Shino Aburame under Kurenai Yuhi. To the envy of most males."

"Mizuki!" Iruka hissed with an eye twitch, the silver haired Jonin just giving him a look, daring to refute that.

"Huh, don't know Shino, but Kiba's not so bad," Naruto murmured to himself as Hinata looked uncertain. He wondered if it was a cosmic sign that his new girlfriend got a, if Mizuki was to be believed, hot Kunoichi for a Jonin. Then again, he wasn't good at looking into deeper meanings or voicing them without putting a foot in his mouth, so he dropped that.

With another sigh, Iruka just continued on. "Squad Ten is Ino Yamanaka, Choji Akamichi, and Shikamaru Nara under Asuma Sarutobi."

"Sarutobi?" Naruto commented with a blink. 'The old man's kid, maybe?'

'Did they pick them just for the Inoshikacho pun?'

Naruto blinked as he looked over to Sasuke, very sure that was his voice. "You say something?" Naruto asked with a confused scowl.

Sasuke eyed Naruto strangely, not sure if he was genuinely asking or trying to start a fight. Either way, he might as well as be honest. "No."

"Huh," Naruto said in acceptance.

"That's all the squads," Mizuki said, closing the folder pointedly. "Your new wardens will be arriving after lunch. You're all free until then," Mizuki stated.

"Really, Mizuki?" Iruka asked dryly.

"Eh, I say get in enough laughs and smiles for them before reality hits too hard," Mizuki reasoned before heading out. "Oh, and congrats for the last minute couple!" he called over his shoulder.

A few chuckles were had at that, Hinata shrinking in a bit at the attention while Naruto just sighed for an unrelated reason. "Well, if I had known that, I wouldn't have bothered eating before coming here."

Hinata resisted the urge to facepalm, realizing they didn't have to run here if Naruto hadn't gotten a last minute snack. "Want to go for a walk, Naruto-kun?"

Naruto shrugged. "Yeah, no point just sitting around here," Naruto agreed as he stood before looking thoughtful. "Hey, Hinata-Chan? You know what Inoshikacho means?" he asked curiously.

"Umm, I think it's something to do with Hanafuda cards?" Hinata speculated uncertainly.

Neither of them noticed how Sasuke stiffened, his stoic mask broken through sheer surprise, staring suspiciously as they left.


"And so the Squad romantic dramas start early this year," Hiruzen quipped as he and the Jonin sensei's observed the class with his crystal ball.

"Some of us are already taking bets in the back on how long this one lasts," Asuma commented, glancing over his shoulder as Kurenai rolled her eyes.

"Why are there so many fangirl-types this year?" Kurenai asked with a sigh.

"To be fair, we got a lot of glory-hounds too," Kakashi opined, his one eye staring with interest. "Still, that wasn't in the files. That a new development, Lord Hokage?"

"Very. So much so that this is the first I'm aware of it," the Sandiame mused with a puff of his pipe. "And I'd caution against calling Hinata Hyuuga a fangirl."

"Because her father is the Hyuuga Clan Head?" Asuma guessed with a drag of his own cigarette.

"No, because I've been hearing rumors that she is once again his heiress," Sarutobi answered with amusement.

While no one knew the particulars, many in the ninja corps knew that Hiashi Hyuuga favored his youngest for some reason…until now, apparently.


The pair walked in a comfortable silence as they wandered the area just outside the academy. "Wait, I just realized that you never got a bite with me. Aren't you hungry, Hinata-Chan?" Naruto asked in concern.

"No, I, um, needed a large meal after my match at home," Hinata answered with a hint of pride.

"So, is your sister that good or were you holding back that much?" Naruto questioned with a teasing voice.

"Oh, no, she is good, Naruto-kun. She could probably beat a lot of our classmates if they weren't careful," Hinata corrected.

"Hehe, a real firecracker, eh?" Naruto joked with a chuckle.

"Her name is Hanabi," Hinata informed, almost losing it herself as Naruto snorted hard and grabbed his gut in laughter.

"I have no idea if you mentioned her name before, but that was NOT intentional!" Naruto swore as his laughter died down.

Naruto felt just a little awkward as he noticed Sakura sitting on a bench, looking very crestfallen as she stared at the ground. He scratched the back of his head, uncertain of what to do. He had a girlfriend now, but he didn't hate Sakura or anything, and it didn't seem right to not try and cheer up his teammate.

Hinata caught his look and was thankful that there wasn't a rush of jealousy within her over it. "M-maybe you should go talk to her?" Hinata suggested softly. It was clear Naruto wanted to help if nothing else.

Naruto looked to her in surprise. "You sure?" he asked, getting a nod. "Okay, just remember I'm horrible with words," he cautioned before heading to the pinkete

'No you're not,' Hinata thought confidently

Naruto was about to speak when he heard Sakura "speak."

'How can I think he'd even like me?'

Only, she wasn't speaking.

'I'm scrawny and small, except for my forehead.'

Yeah, her lips were definitely not moving.

'Why was I born with a big wide forehead?'

"It's wide and charming," Naruto said suddenly.

"Huh?!" Sakura's head shot up in surprise before glaring at the boy. "Naruto, what are you doing here? And what did you just say?"

"Your forehead. Yeah, it's big, but I always thought it was charming," Naruto said sheepishly.

Sakura blinked, twice, before slowly pointing behind Naruto. "You do realize Hinata is right there, right?" she reminded blankly.

Said Hyuuga just waved with a smile. "Yeah, yeah, I know that. But you were getting all down on yourself, I'm guessing because of Sasuke, and blaming your forehead," Naruto explained uncertainly.

Now Sakura blushed in embarrassment. "I said that out loud?" she asked in shame.

"Yeah, but look? We're teammates and all, so I just want to make sure you're okay," Naruto explained, pausing before letting out a mighty sigh. "And, even though I have a girlfriend, I figured it might be what's the word? Cardiac?"

"I think you mean cathartic?" Sakura responded, curious to where this was going.

"Yeah, I figured it'd be cathartic to get some things off my chest," Naruto stated cautiously. When Sakura just stared in interest, he took a deep breath. "Sakura, no matter what Sasuke says, you are one of the prettiest girls I ever met, with blossom-touched hair and emerald eyes. Hinata wins cutest every time though. And, unless I'm absolutely wrong, I think you're the smartest person in class behind Shikamaru. And, well, when it doesn't involve Sasuke, you're actually really nice and considerate. So, yeah, any guy would be lucky to have you as a girlfriend," Naruto assured with a sheepish smile.

Sakura just stared with the faintest of blushes. "...For your sake, I hope you have a list of compliments for her as well," she stated, looking away, not sure what to really say.

"Hehe, I've had a few years to think of yours, I've only had a day for Hinata," Naruto said, looking back to said girlfriend that was staring at him curiously. "Buuuut? Cute as a button and it's adorable how she gets worried about everything, even if I'm trying to help her get over that. Definitely stronger than she thinks she is, hair like the midnight skies, and...I'm still working on a good eye compliment. Well, good and original. Not to make a joke, but I think comparing them to the moon would just be too cheesy," Naruto listed off with a grin.

Hinata just blushed with a giddily happy look.

"When did you become a sweetheart?!" Sakura asked in shock.

"It-it's," Hinata spoke up before taking a break to give Sakura a scolding look. "It's your own fault for never giving him a chance," Hinata stated as she looped an arm around Naruto's.

Sakura stared in surprise as Hinata's boldness. "Okay, well, I'm honestly surprised to say that you seem to be a positive influence on her, Naruto."

"I'll try not to take that as an insult, Sakura-Chan," Naruto deadpanned.

"Come on, you're the class prankster. You have to give me that," Sakura retorted before taking a deep breath, giving Naruto a small smile. "Still, thanks, Naruto. I think I needed to hear that from someone," she gave honestly.

Naruto just grinned. "Hey, we're teammates. If we're not watching out for each other, who will?"

"Not to sound desperate, but where did Sasuke even go?" Sakura asked in legitimate confusion.

"Probably back home," Naruto answered, getting looks from both girls. "What? I tried to prank him a few times, and that's about the only place he's at. The guy only leaves for food, training, and school. Which, in fairness, sounds like me without pranks."

Sakura just rolled her eyes at that. "Well, I packed enough for two," she stated, holding up the bento box. "You two want to join me?"

The couple shared a look "We've both eaten some, so split a meal for one in two as a snack?" Naruto suggested.

Hinata smiled and nodded as they took a seat beside Sakura, who started passing out chopsticks.

"So, you just that happy to be with him or is there another reason you're in such a good mood today, Hinata?" Sakura asked curiously.

"Umm, let's just say Naruto-Kun gave me some advice about a family problem that worked out really, really well," Hinata answered sheepishly.

"I bribed her with cinnamon," Naruto answered mischievously.

"Naruto-Kun!" Hinata said, trying not to smile at that description.

"There's a story there that I'm not sure I want to know," Sakura stated warily. "Just tell me it wasn't for anything perverted?"

"Just what kind of person do you think I am, Sakura-Chan?" Naruto asked with an eye twitch.

"A teenage boy with a very eager girlfriend," Sakura answered bluntly.

Despite the light mood, Naruto couldn't help wondering just what was going on. He clearly heard Sakura without seeing her mouth move. How did that work? Its not like he was a mindreader, after all.

As they continued on, none of the trio noticed a pair of eyes watching them from atop the academy. Sasuke scowled in confused suspicion. He knew something was different about Naruto, but that moment had been more than a little off putting. Had that just been a coincident? He shook his head before turning to leave, not willing to get his mind wrapped up in crazier ideas without more evidence

End of Chapter

And there we go, all set up for a fairly different meeting between Team 7 and Kakashi. And Naruto is now starting to get an inkling of what he can and is doing. Also gave him a moment with Sakura to be, as said, cathartic And Sasuke is now getting suspicious This'll obviously, combined with no shadow clones, make a very different and interesting bell test for them all.

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Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!