Codename: ShadowFox - XXVI

Naruto and Hiashi sat in silence, the only noise in the room coming from the overly loud ticking of his clock. I bet he had that damn thing made on purpose just to unnerve people.

"Naruto." Hiashi finally spoke "Is there something you would like to tell me?"

Well its now or never. "Yes actually." God I hate doing this. He bowed his head and apologized "I'm sorry for not coming to you sooner sensei but If I'm here for the reason that I am, then it is true, I am dating Hinata."

Hiashi sighed as he sheathed his sword which he had been cleaning with a cloth "Naruto you know I think of you like a son but there are rules towards courting the heiress of a clan, you know this."

"I do sensei but I didn't know how to go about it considering the circumstances. Hinata and I had hoped she would become chuunin with this exam and we could come to you about our relationship afterwards." Naruto explained though he did wonder how the man found out.

"Which is why I am having this conversation with you now instead of last month."

"Last month!? You've known since then?" Naruto was baffled as he didn't even know how the man caught on so quick.

"While you two keep up the appearance of a student-teacher relationship quite well, my daughter's face betrays her true feelings."

Naruto thought about it for a second before face palming. "Is it her blushing? It's the blushing isn't it?"

"That and Neji may had mentioned that Hinata had found herself a boyfriend whom I had yet to meet. Coupled with her more affectionate gazes at you, it was all the more obvious who that boy was."

"Maaaan and I thought we were doing such a good job too."

"In any case I believe there is something you would like to ask me?"

"Huh? Oh right!" He cleared his throat and straightened his back "Lord Hyuuga, I Naruto Uzumaki wish to formally court your daughter, Hinata Hyuuga."

Hiashi smiled faintly before nodding "Very well Naruto, I give you my blessing. Please treat my daughter well."

Naruto grinned, instantly dropping his dignified pose "Of course."

Hiashi's dim smile grew slightly wider and the shadows under her eyes grew as he leveled a stern look on Naruto "Because if you don't," In a flash of steel and skill the candle that was on the table between them suddenly fell, perfectly cut in half. "I'll show you why no other Hyuuga dares practice swordplay."

Naruto gulped seeing the candle. There were no rough edges or cutting marks on it, just one perfectly clean-cut. Kami above save me from this man, send me an angel and I will forever be grateful!

A knock on the door drew the attention of both men and the door slid open revealing Hinata's smiling face, still in her chuunin jacket. "Father, Naruto-kun!"

"Daughter." Hiashi said with a nod while Naruto stood up and smiled widely.

"Congratulations Hinata, I knew you could do it." He walked over and hugged her tightly while she did the same.

"I'm glad you're safe Naruto-kun." Hinata said with a relieved sigh as she snuggled into his chest.

"I promised you that I would be, and I don't break my promises easily."

*Ahem* Both teens turned back to see Hiashi stood up and walking towards them. "Hinata, I have given Naruto my blessing to continue courting you. The elders known of his rank and status so they will likely see this as a way to strengthen the clan should you two end up marrying."

Hinata blushed brightly at the though of marrying Naruto while he masterfully hid his embarrassment like a trained ANBU. "Hinata I thought you were over at that BBQ place celebrating?"

"I was but Neji mentioned seeing you touch down at the tower so I wanted to find you and have you join us. Though when I saw that you were here I thought you might need some help with father." Hinata answered.

"We shall speak of this more some other time Naruto, go and celebrate your student's promotion." Hiashi spoke, giving them leave.

"Right, we'll talk later sensei. Come on Hinata, let's go meet your friends." Naruto took her hand and led her out of the study. Hiashi returned to his desk and opened a drawer that held a small frame with an old photo in it showing two teenagers. One was tall and stoic looking but you could see a small smile on his face while the other looked like an older version of Hinata, smiling happily towards the camera. Our daughter is growing up Hitomi, since meeting Naruto she's blossomed beautifully just like you did when we met.

The second picture in his drawer was that of his first daughter on the day of her birth. He slid the picture out of the frame and flipped it over 'A gentle flower needs love and care to blossom. Hinata my sunshine, may you shine brightly when you find that love. - Hyuuga Hitomi'

Smiling sadly he put the pictures back in their frames and went to place them back inside of his drawer but hesitated, instead putting up the stands and placing them on his desk where they belonged.

XXX

"Hinata before I introduce myself to the rest of the Konoha Twelve officially I think we should warn Kiba and Shino about it first so they don't freak out on us... well Kiba more than Shino."

Hinata pondered the idea for a moment before nodding "Right, I'll ask Kiba and Shino to meet us outside first."

Naruto waited in the alley while Hinata went into the restaurant to call her two teammates, all three emerging a minute later. "Hey guys."

"Yo! Welcome back sensei!"

"Good afternoon sensei."

Hinata smiled as she went to Naruto's side and entwined one of her hands with his. "Kiba-kun, Shino-kun Naruto-kun and I felt that we should let you two know of our relationship before I introduce him to the rest of our friends."

"What? You mean that you're dating sensei? We kinda already knew."

Naruto raised an eyebrow "How?"

"Well Hinata did always have a lingering scent of you that only became stronger after the month-long training break plus Shino said that his bugs could smell her pheromones on you and vice versa. I asked Shino about it and we both came to the conclusion that your mysterious boyfriend was in fact sensei."

"It is not too surprising. Why? Because we are the only three males our age that you regularly spend time with and neither Kiba nor I are dating you, only sensei is left." Shino said to Hinata as he pushed up his glasses slightly.

Naruto turned towards Hinata before laughing a little "For a secret relationship, it's not so secret is it?"

Hinata giggled as well and nodded "So it seems Naruto-kun." She then turned towards her two teammates "I hope this doesn't cause any problems."

Kiba just shrugged "Nah, I don't got a problem with it. It might be wierd for the other teams but they have like teachers twice our age, sensei is actually younger than both of us so who are we to judge?"

"Kiba is correct, I find no problem in your relationship either and wish you both happiness." The Aburame said with a nod.

Hinata smiled brightly and hugged the two "Thanks Kiba-kun, Shino-kun!"

Kiba laughed nervously as he could see his sensei glaring and him and gesturing towards the Inuzuka's hands, while Kiba made sure he didn't actually touch Hinata aside from a few pats to the back. "Haha uh no problem Hinata!"

Shino also looked uncomfortable but mainly because the Aburame were not the hugging types. Mainly due to most people being creeped out by hugging a walking ant farm.

After Hinata pulled back she skipped back to Naruto's side and took hold of one of his arms "Right then, let's go introduce you to our friends!"

"Right just remember, call me Naruto not sensei. A slip up like that would lead to unneeded questions."

"Got it bro."

"Very well Naruto-san."

The rest of the Konoha Twelve watched as Team Eight walked in with Hinata holding the arm of someone they'd never met or seen before. He was wearing the standard chuunin attire though in black, his long sleeve hiding his ANBU tattoo and he decided to wear his flak jacket for the day and his headband tied around his left biceps where his tattoo would be.

Many were wondering who he was while Ino leaned over towards Sakura and whispered "Woah, Hinata's boyfriend is hot!"

Sakura scowled and pushed Ino off of her "Not as hot as Sasuke-kun" She growled back in the same low volume.

"Everyone, I'd like to introduce you to my boyfriend Uzumaki Naruto." Hinata said with a bright grin while Naruto waved with his free hand. "Yo,"

"Oh god it's another Kakashi!" Sakura groaned, hearing the same laid-back tone in this guy's voice that was eerily similar to her sensei's.

"Well Kakashi and I go way back but I wouldn't go so far as to say I was another him, though we do share many similarities in our behaviour." Naruto said, having heard the pink-haired girl's comment.

"Wait, you know Kakashi-sensei?" Horunei asked Naruto who only nodded.

"Yeah, he was a friend of my dad's. I've also gone on a number of missions with him." Both statements were entirely true, even if they were half-truths.

"So you're a chuunin? You seem to be about our age, what year were you promoted?" Neji asked as he stood up to meet the boy who was dating his cousin.

"Oh I'm not a chuunin, I'm a jounin but to answer your question I was promoted to chuunin when I was eight." Everyone who wasn't in the know was shocked that someone their age was already a jounin. Well all except for one. "Anyway let's have a seat guys." Naruto said as he guided Team Eight to the empty booth and allowed Hinata to get into the seat first.

Shikamaru however narrowed his eyes slightly. Hey Shino what age did sensei get promoted? Eight. That's eight years old... Kiba and Shino's voices played in his head as he remembered what they said during the first day of the chuunin exams.

Three tables were set up near the corner booth so the four teams could talk. "So Naruto, how long have you and Hinata been dating?" Ino asked as she smiled at the couple.

"A few months now." Naruto answered.

"When did you meet?" Ino tried fishing for something more than the vague answer he gave.

"Well I protected her from some bullies when we were six and-" *SQUEEEEEE* "Ow." Naruto rubbed his ear to sooth it after something tried to rupture his eardrum.

Shikamaru sighed and gave Naruto a sympathetic look "I'm sorry about Ino, she tends to do that. A lot. I recommend carrying a set of ear plugs."

"Err right, I'll keep that in mind." Naruto said as he finished rubbing his ear while Ino mouthed a sorry. "Anyway after that I don't know if you remember me or not but I was in the academy with you guys for the first year."

"Huh? Seriously? I don't remember you at all." Sakura said while making a face like she was trying to remember some long-lost memory... that or she was constipated.

Shikamaru closed his eyes and thought back to the first year in the academy, mentally scanning the faces until he came to a boy in black shorts and a red hoodie, his face was obscured but golden hair could be seen sticking out. "Black shorts, red hoodie, disappeared when the year ended?"

Naruto smiled widely "Woah, you've got a good memory huh? Yeah that was me, I hated classes so I took the early graduation exam and passed."

"Sugoi!" Choji said as he finished munching on his piece of BBQ "Then you've gotta be some genius like Shikamaru!"

Naruto chuckled and shrugged "I suppose a comparison could be made, though I am not anywhere near as lazy as any Nara. It's not like the early graduation exam is hard in the first place, it's just the three academy jutsu, score a sixteen out of twenty in weapons accuracy and above average taijutsu."

"Except that they hadn't even taught the three jutsu the first year or weapons handling... or taijutsu." Shikamaru stated and Naruto smirked at him.

"You're right, they don't. I had some training before hand and it was more than enough to graduate."

"YOSH! That must have been some very youthful training!" An exuberant voice shouted causing Naruto to turn only for a look of shock, horror, and revulsion to come across his face.

"Oh god there's another one!" Tenten facepalmed from Naruto's reaction, clearly he's met their sensei before.

"Huh?" Lee asked in confusion while Naruto coughed into his hand in embarrassment from his sudden outburst.

"I mean you must be Lee, Gai's apprentice. I've heard about you from Gai when he would come around to challenge Kashi."

"Kashi?" Tenten asked, unfamiliar with the name.

Hinata giggled "He means Kakashi-sensei Tenten."

"Oh, I didn't know you and Kakashi-sensei were so close Naruto-san."

"Please, just Naruto and yeah like I said Kakashi and I go way back, he was real close with my dad so when he passed away Kakashi kinda raised me like a younger brother." Naruto figured that letting them know that wasn't so bad, it was fine as long as no one found out that he was actually Shadowfox because then he would be compromised and he wouldn't be allowed to return to the Black Ops.

"Ahem." A gruff, masculine sounded behind the group. When they turned most were stunned at seeing the legendary Toad Sage himself stood before them. "Sorry to interrupt your little gathering but Naruto's pressence is required at T&I for a 'special guest' that arrived in today."

"Ah right, I forgot about that." Naruto said sheepishly, scratching the back of his head as he actually did forget to drop off Itachi at T&I. "Well sorry to take off like this but duty calls."

Naruto was about to leave when a thought hit him that had him mentally smirking as he turned towards Hinata "Congrats again on making Chuunin Hina, I knew you could do it." Then in front of everyone he kissed her for a good ten seconds before breaking it off leaving a dazed Hinata sitting in the booth as he left with a giggling Jiraiya.

"Oh my." Ino said with a blush on her face though it was counter-acted by her sly grin that she didn't really attempt to hide behind her hand "Hinata I didn't know you could be so bold, I wish I had a boyfriend that would kiss me like that."

Hinata didn't even respond however as she was straddling the line between daydream and unconsciousness, face redder than their tablecloth. Truthfully Hinata really enjoyed kissing Naruto over the past month and she got better at controlling her blush but being kissed so passionately in front of all of her friends was too much for the poor heiress.

The rest of the girls also had blushes while most of the guys looked uncomfortable, except for Lee who was shouting about springs in youth or whatever. Kiba just grumbled about not having a chance from the start while Shino... he was just being Shino.

XXX

"You forgot you still had him in 'that place' didn't you?" Jiraiya asked in amusement as they walked down the street.

"Ehehe... yeah. Hopefully he won't be mad about it but I couldn't take the chance that he was followed by one of those plant things. It was either he managed to escape on his own power or he got captured." Naruto answered, his eyes scanning the busy streets lazily "I couldn't risk blowing his cover by going easy on him if he was 'followed', while at the same time his part in that organization was complete.

We've learned what we can, where their HQ is at, how best to hit its members and what their goal is. Weasel would be best fit helping us combat them now not gather more information that we already know."

Jiraiya nodded in agreement as he felt that Naruto made the right call on this one. "Well let's just get this over with, I want to hit the springs today."

Naruto chuckled at his godfather "Whatever old man. You're right though I'd like to get back to Hinata so I'll meet you there." Naruto side-stepped into an alley and walked right into the shadowed wall, the shadow rippling like water as he stepped through it.

Jiraiya scoffed "Show off." He said with his arms crossed just before vanishing in a simple plume of smoke.

An hour later Naruto and Jiraiya were called into a secret room inside the Hokage tower as Tsunade finished writing something on a clipboard. When Naruto pulled the Uchiha out of Nocturne he was still entrapped in the shadow orb and he had fallen into a coma after being released.

"Apparently being in that other world of yours did something to his mind and it shut down on him." Tsunade finally spoke after finishing up her diagnostic. "It greatly resembles a mind broken by the Tsukuyomi so it will likely take a few days before he recovers from the mental strain but he should wake up tomorrow."

Naruto chuckled in embarrassment "Yeah that was my bad, I forgot I had Itachi in there and Nocturne is not somewhere you want to be in for long. That place... it feels like your very life is being sucked out of you."

"Luckily his mind only shut down and otherwise his brain is fine. I've also started looking into whatever has been destroying his lungs." Tsunade said to both of their surprise.

"His lungs?" Naruto asked

"Itachi never mentioned anything of the sort." Jiraiya added.

Tsunade frowned "From the looks of it Itachi has been suffering from whatever this is for years. It's almost completely destroyed his lungs, frankly I'm amazed he's still alive."

"Itachi has been dying this whole time?" Naruto thought in both horror and amazement "I did feel like he almost let himself be caught but maybe he just couldn't react in time? It did seem like Itachi had gotten weaker than he used to be."

"Perhaps Itachi knew this as well and decided to pull out of Akatsuki before he killed over. He knows that Tsunade took over so maybe he was hoping that she could find him a cure or at least something to hold him over until Sasuke could kill him like he wanted." Jiraiya thought aloud.

"Well there's nothing we can do about it at the moment so you're both free to go." Tsunade said and they were both getting ready to leave when she suddenly remembered something "Actually no, wait we still have something else."

"What's that?" Jiraiya asked, wondering what else could really need his presence.

"The sand siblings." Naruto's eye shone with understanding.

"Did Konoha and Suna finally decide on the terms of surrender?" Naruto asked and Jiraiya finally understood as well.

"Yes, the siblings will be returned to Suna safely by you two in exchange for a large sum of money and information on their puppet prosthetics to help our wounded shinobi who lost limbs, these were my terms for their surrender and a hawk arrived earlier today agreeing to them."

"How has Gaara been? He hasn't tried to kill anybody yet has he?" Tsunade shook her head.

"No, he's actually been asleep most of the time. Whatever seal you used to pacify the Ichibi seems to have worked perfectly and when he's awake to eat I hear that he's perfectly polite when talked to or simply quiet the rest of the time." Naruto smiled knowing that he helped a fellow Jinchuuriki.

"Good, I didn't want to have to put him down so I'm glad that he's at least recovering from being used like a murder tool by the Ichibi." Naruto frowned as he checked the clock on the wall, the Konoha Twelve likely already left the BBQ place "I should probably go check in on him anyway, I haven't seen them since the invasion a few weeks ago."

"They're held up at ANBU HQ if you want to go, I gave your mask clearance to check in on them some time ago." Tsunade stated and Naruto nodded.

"Well I'll just go talk to them real quick then I'll try to find Hinata again." With a few quick hand seals his regular outfit was switched out for his ANBU armor and mask. "Hokage-sama?"

Tsunade nodded her dismissal and he was gone. "I'm kinda glad that he had someone like Hinata in his life," She said while glancing over at Itachi's prone form "Fast-tracked prodigies like him don't always turn out as well as he did." With that she closed the door to Itachi's secret medical room.

Jiraiya nodded grimly as they walked through the Hokage tower "Well unless you need me for something else I'm heading towards my usual spot."

Tsunade just sighed and waved her hand "Do whatever you want you old perv."

Jiraiya giggled imagining doing exactly what he wanted with the woman next to him before making a quick escape as soon as he heard her growl "Right then, I'm off!"

Tsunade sighed once more, an exasperated look on her face as she entered her office and sat down on her chair "Why did I agree to this shit again?" She mumbled while looking at the stack of papers still on her desk that seemed to have grown while she was gone. "Kami kill me now."

XXX

Itachi had walked for what felt like days, following the sound of music and with each step it got slightly louder.

He was rather concerned that he couldn't use any chakra or activate his sharingan and this world was simply too realistic to be a dream. He coughed into his hand once more, a few specks of blood appearing on his fist.

Itachi grimaced as he held his chest in pain but forged on, ignoring the pain like always, he just wished he had his special tea that at least helped with the pain. He could hear the drums and flutes playing even louder than ever, he was close and he knew it.

He reached what looked like a giant warped, and gnarled version of a Torii gate, he had a bad feeling about it but decided to continue on his journey up the mountain.

He finally reached the top of the mountain and saw that the world simply ended, a jagged cliff face lined the entire mountainside, but more to his confusion there seemed to be parts of the mountain floating in the empty space. He strained his eyes and noticed that far in the distance was another similar cliff face but the valley seemed deep and endless as shadows consumed it.

An ominous feeling drew his gaze upwards as he looked into the sky for the first time, seeing the glowing white moon that wasn't there before. He also noticed that the music had stopped ever since he reached the top of the mountain.

His breathing became ragged as he felt like the entire weight of the moon was bearing down on him only for a slit to appear across it and just as soon as it did the moon opened up to reveal a massive ringed eye that looked like a combination of the Rinnegan and the Sharingan.

"What?" suddenly the eye pulsed and visions clouded his mind, a massive primordial creature of destruction, a war that engulfed the land in flame, demons flooding into the world. When they ended he spotted what looked like a horned woman floating in the middle of the chasm.

A smirk crossed the womans lips before Itachi felt all the strength in his body leave him and he fell to the ground. The woman smiled eerily as she gazed up at the moon "So it begins..."


AN - Happy thanks giving everyone, I hope you all have a good time tonight and please leave me some nice reviews!