Author: Riniko22

Notes: The Characters and Places within this story are not mine, and remain the property of their respected owners. As such, I do not own them, nor am I making any money off them. So sad, honored reader, this very tragic tale of penniless author that fell into the spring of drowned …

The characters in this story will likely not act the same as in canon (written or video), so do not flame me about this. Some will have grown up with different influences on them leading them to react in different ways. Advice is always welcome.

Hitotsu ni suru

Chapter 8

Just after the Hokage stepped out of her room, Sakura rushed back into the room with a shamed look on her face. "I am so sorry Ranko-chan; I never meant to embarrass you. I will never be able to make up for exposing you like that in front of everyone. But, if you will allow me to try, I will do anything you ask to make up for it," she finished looking at Ranko with pleading eyes.

Looking over at the girl begging her for forgiveness Ranko could not think of anything to say for a second. It was so unlike anything that usually happened to her that she was stunned and unable to speak for a few moments. And, the memories that she got from Naruto were equally useless to her here.

Seeing Ranko starring at her and not saying a word Sakura was sure that the girl was furious with her and would never want to talk to her again. Dropping her head down in pained acknowledgement Sakura started to turn away from Ranko as her eyes began to water.

As Sakura started to turn away, Ranko snapped out of her momentary shock by the anguished look on the girl's face. Speaking quickly, "Wait, Sakura don't go, please. I forgive you; I was just shocked by your apology. To tell the truth, I'm not used to people saying that their sorry when something like that happens. They usually just turn everything around and blame it all on me. If you will have me, I'd like to be your friend."

As soon as the last word left Ranko's lips, she had the air forcibly crushed from her chest by a powerful glomp. With each second that passed it seemed more and more likely that she would die again. With what seemed like the last bit of air left in her lungs she gasped out, "Sakura-chan, I can't breathe!"

"Sakura-chan, Ranko-chan has accepted your apology I believe you can release her now," Ranko heard a new voice say as the room was beginning to fade from her eyes.

"Yea, fore-head girl, I guess Sasuke-kun is mine now since you seem to like Ranko-chan so much," Ino said in a teasing tone from the doorway.

Just like that, Sakura released Ranko from her crushing hug, allowing Ranko to fall back towards the bed and into blessed unconsciousness as she turned towards Ino.

When Ranko once again regained consciousness a few moments later she saw the new women that had been in the room earlier before her private talk with the Hokage. She was a dark haired woman with the strangest red eyes that Ranko had ever seen. Almost as soon as Ranko had opened her eyes, again the woman had turned focusing her eerie gaze straight into Ranko's eyes.

"Hello Ranko-chan, it is nice to finally meet you. My name is Yuuhi Kurenai; I am a Jounin of the village and the leader and instructor of team 8, which you have been assigned to. In addition, I will also be your host until the Hokage decides that you are familiar enough with the village to handle an apartment on your own. Now, if you are ready to leave, why don't we all have a late lunch and get to know each other better. After all the Hokage had offered to pay as it is to be a formal introductory team meeting for my new team. And of course Ino-chan you are invited as well for helping Ranko-chan and Sakura-chan so much today."

While Ranko was not looking forward to living with a woman full time she was not able to think of any objections to the arrangement that had been decided for her. Moreover, when the woman mentioned that she would be taking them to lunch, the thought of free food overcame any objections that had started to form in her head. Turning to face her new guardian and team leader, she very politely bowed to her and said, "I want to thank you very much Yuuhi-Sensei for allowing my unworthy self into your home and accepting me onto your team. I will strive to prove myself worthy of your instruction and acceptance into your home."

When the young girl in front of her finished her speech, Kurenai was very impressed with how she handled their introduction. It was obvious to her that the girl was an extremely polite young kunoichi; she hoped that the girl would also be as skilled in other areas. It was at this moment that the quiet between their introductions was broken by the loud growl of Ranko's empty stomach. With the formal mood unexpectedly broken, everyone looked in Ranko's direction and began to laugh and giggle good-naturedly at the suddenly embarrassed girl.

"Well, I guess that now that the formalities are out of the way it would be best if we all continue our introductions over lunch before Ranko-chan roars her disapproval again," Kurenai said with the faintest smile to belie the seriousness of her words. "Now, if you would all follow me. We will be meeting our final team member Hyuuga Hinata on the way as her father's messenger delivered a letter that she has recovered from the illness that has affected her over the past few days."

Both Ino and Sakura could guess that the illness that Hinata had fallen to had been caused by the news of Naruto's death. They knew that the quiet girl had a crush on the loud troublemaker and had never quite understood the attraction that she had for the boy. The fact that they themselves had an attraction for a boy that did not return a fraction of the attention that they directed his way did not even enter their minds. Nevertheless, they did admit to themselves now that they knew the circumstances behind the hatred that most of the village had directed Naruto's way that they had blindly mistreated the boy themselves. The fact that Hinata had been able to overcome this and treat Naruto as someone worthy of respect and love made them think that they had been wrong about him all along. Now that he was gone they would made up for this by being there for his sister Ranko and helping Hinata in any way they could.

When Hinata had first heard the rumors about Naruto she had refused to believe them. Her Naruto-kun would not betray or run away from the village, he loved Konoha and wished to protect everyone within it regardless of how badly they may have treated him. However, as the rumors grew and spread she became more worried that something truly terrible may have happened to him. The way that her father had responded when one of the branch family members had reported to him had left her even more deeply worried that the rumors were true. For the first time that she could remember a slight smile seemed to have come over his face for a brief moment, and in that, second she knew that something horrible had happened to her Naruto-kun. It was then that she snapped and screamed in anguish charging at her father. How could he take delight in the death of her beloved Naruto-kun?

Hinata moved with a skill and speed that caught her father in shocked surprise, while she spat her hate out at him for dishonoring Naruto death. She began striking him with a power and drive that she had never before achieved in any of the training matches that her father had subjected her too. Before he was able to react, she had struck him with several damaging blows backed by her Byakugan. And, with each successful strike Hinata could feel the fear of her father and his disabling disappointment in her abilities diminish and eroded away. Before she could deliver a decisive blow, she was knocked unconscious by one of her family's guards who had moved in from behind her.

As Hinata awoke later, she could tell that she had not been dreaming about her attack on her father. She felt sore all over and the back of her head hurt from the blow that she had taken just before everything went black. She found her hands painfully restrained behind her back and in an unfamiliar room. As she lay there in the darkened room she briefly contemplated what her father would do to her, but she quickly realized that she could not find the will to care at this point. The boy that she loved was dead; she was sure of that now and for a brief moment, she felt that there was nothing left to live for. That is until she remembered that Naruto never gave up, if she allowed herself to give in, she would be dishonoring his memory. She would not allow her father to take that away from her, even if he decided that she had to die herself for attacking him.

After several hours of waiting for someone to come and pronounce her fate the door finally opened to her cell. Then a painfully bright light snapped on leaving her eyes blinking and tearing before she was able to notice that someone had entered the room. Looking up she saw that the visitor was her father, Hyuuga Hiashi. She could tell that he was moving stiffly and in some pain, that made her feel strangely satisfied. She expected him to tell her that she would be punished with the Caged Bird Seal or killed for attacking him, but was surprised by what he said. "Daughter it appears that I was wrong about you. In fact, it seems that I may have been wrong about several things. You are not weak as I thought. Don't disappoint me and make me change my mind again." With those words, he turned and left the room. A few minutes later, a guard came into the room and released her arms before leading her back to her rooms within the main house.

The next morning was to signal several surprises for the people of the village. There was a public announcement that the Hokage would be addressing the village later that day with news that he had already delivered to the consul.

Later that day when the Hokage had confirmed that Naruto had died the other night, Hinata had again felt that she had died along side him. She had listened with sadness and pride when the Hokage had praised Naruto as being a hero to the village. That he had confronted and stopped Mizuki, a traitor to the village, and prevented him from stealing a valuable scroll from the Hokage's office and escaping with it at the cost of his own life. He had gone on to tell the village that Naruto had been a very special hero to Konoha all his life. That the Forth had selected his very own son, Naruto to protect the village from the nine-tailed demon fox Kyuubi by becoming its living prison. He went on to say that, he was saddened that those that the boy had protected had treated him so badly. The Hokage had gone on to state that Naruto would be promoted posthumously to genin and given full honors as a hero of the village, having his name engraved on the Memorial stone along side his father and mother.

After the Hokage's announcement, Hinata received a message from her father that she would be required to meet her new Jounin instructor and teammates the next day at 2pm in front of the family compound.

A/N: I still do not feel completely happy with this chapter, but I have rewritten this chapter several times and want to move on. I think the Hokage will be in pain when he receives the bill for team 8's lunch. Let me know what you think.