Hinata was peacefully asleep, dreaming of having some nice quiet private time with her blonde love interest, when a tapping sound woke her up. Immediately panicked because her traumatic experience years ago, she woke up and was ready to shout out. The only thing that kept her from screaming was her byakugan reflexively activated and showed her it was Naruto at her window.
Is this a dream?
'Uhh... Na-Naruto-kun is here? At m-m-my r-room?' She asked herself. She could see he looked rather impatient and worried, like he was afraid of being caught. 'Makes sense. The compound is rather guarded and if he's caught he'll be at the mercy of people who laugh at the word.' She quickly got up, blushing at him seeing her in a nightgown even though it didn't show much, and opened the window. "Naruto-kun?"
"Hinata I don't have much time so listen carefully. I really need to speak to you about something and you're the only one who can know this. You can't tell anyone, especially your father. I need to see you tomorrow, at a place no one would find us. Can you meet me in Training Ground 27 in the morning as soon as you can get away from your family?"
Hinata nodded. "Of course Naruto-kun. But why? And what happened to your eyes?"
"I'll tell you tomorrow. You'll understand more then." Naruto told her than went up in smoke, revealing he had been a shadow clone.
'Naruto-kun looked afraid. What could scare him? And how am I involved?' Hinata asked herself before returning to her bed, never asking how Naruto could now use clones when just the other day he failed that part of the test.
The next morning Hinata left as soon as she could, which wasn't that hard considering her family didn't really want her around to begin with. The clan wasn't exactly a friendly lot, not even to their own, but Hinata felt like she was the one most singled out for some reason. Virtually everyone she could name and even a few she couldn't looked at her like seeing her was in some way offensive. She didn't understand why, and when she asked no one would answer. Except for Neji, who'd say it was her fate to be treated as such, and Hanabi, who said if Hiashi didn't love her why should she?
She just couldn't understand why her entire family was against her. A couple of relatives was understandable, but ALL of them? Clearly she was not wanted, but why? It couldn't just be because she had been kidnapped by Kumo's scout. She was three and he was a jounin, NO ONE that age could have properly fought back, and after ten years that had to have been brought up at least once. After all, she had never heard of anyone, Hyuuga or not, that could fight a jounin at three years old, so why would anyone expect her to do it?
Whatever the reason, the clan apparently had no interest in explaining it to her so she could fix the problem. That bothered her the most. Everyone looked at her like she was at fault for something, but how could she improve the situation if she wasn't even aware of what was wrong? You don't tell a repairman to fix something without telling them what's wrong with it first. It was almost like they all expected her to just know why she was singled out as the object of their animosity.
Not wanting to think about it, Hinata just headed to where Naruto had asked her to meet him at. It wasn't hard to find, but it was an odd choice of meeting place. It wasn't one of Naruto's unusual places to go, and she made it a point to know all the places Naruto was likely to be at.
Training Ground 27 wasn't one of the popular ones in Konoha. It was a really dense forest, with the trees really close together, used to teach shinobi how to move, hide, and track in tight spots and places with restricted room to move. A good place to hide, if the person trying to find you didn't have a byakugan.
Hinata activated hers, finding Naruto in no time. It had been harder than usual, because this time he wasn't wearing his usual orange jumpsuit. Now he was wearing a simple set of black clothes. Hinata was immediately worried. 'Naruto-kun wouldn't be without orange without a reason. What shook him up so much?' He wasn't wearing Iruka's hitai-ate either, but she wasn't aware he had received it yet so she paid that fact no mind.
Without hesitation, she headed for him, jumping thru the branches for the quickest route. He was seated on a branch so this helped too. She came to a stop on the branch in front of him. "Naruto-kun?"
"Hinata, I'm glad you made it." He replied with a smile, though his eyes showed he was haunted.
Speaking of which, Hinata made sure to double-check his eyes. "Naruto-kun what's wrong? And do you look so miserable? And why are your eyes purple instead of blue?" She asked. One of the reasons why Hinata admired and loved Naruto's blue eyes was that they were always filled with hope and determination. But these eyes, they were different, but not just the coloring. It was as if something had nearly robbed him of his dreams.
"Hinata, I just found out something really horrible, and apparently it affects you too." He told her, bringing out the file. He then held it out for her. "I felt you at least deserved to see what this says. As for my eyes, you'll understand that better after you read this."
The Hyuuga heiress carefully took it from him, and read the title. "This was written by the Yondaime and Sandaime? Where did you get this?"
"In the hokage's office. I had reason to believe the old man was hiding something from me and I got too curious for my own good. Read the beginning, then I can show you the part that applies to you so you can understand it better."
With a single nod, Hinata started to read the document. Thankfully she was a speed-reader so she read through it in a fraction of the time it took Naruto too. Once she got into it, her eyes almost popped out of her skull and she didn't even need to let Naruto show her what she needed to see the most, which was a note written specifically about her by the Sandaime.
We have successfuly created a good sense of hostility towards Naruto over Konoha. The heads of the Uchiha and Yamanaka clans have ensured that the non-clan ninja and civilians feel no desire to help him more than we allow. Surprisingly we did not have to put in much effort. As soon as they heard he contained Kyuubi, the majority wanted nothing to do with him, without any more prompting from us. Of course we did have to affect some to make them be aggressive. I wish we could have done this to the children his age too to further ostracize him, but such mind-affecting jutsu would destroy their developing minds and impede their futures. Fortunately I do not have to, as the parents already instruct their children to avoid him and not befriend him. Some seem to genuinely hate him, while most are just apathetic to him.
However, on that regard there is sadly an exception to the rule. Hyuuga Hiashi's oldest daughter is proving difficult, much like his wife was before we had to put her down before she did too much for Naruto. Most other children are too lazy or obedient to go against their parent's instructions, and thus they ignore Naruto without a second thought. She however actually feels bad for his suffering and tries little things to cheer him up and encourage him to succeed in his naive dream. This cannot be allowed, the boy cannot receive genuine affection or he will learn to see through the behavior of others. Luckily Hiashi declared her expendable like he did his wife years ago so we had permission to risk brain damage and try a genjutsu on her to turn her against him. Unfortunately, it did not work, even after multiple applications. I do not understand why. Unable to force her to drop this in such a manner, Hiashi took it upon himself to destroy the girl's self-esteem until she is too afraid to hold a conversation with him, let alone actually help him. So far it is working, but I fear it will not last long. Maybe I should place her on a genin team with a genjutsu specialist instructor to see if it can at all be possible to find a genjutsu that works on her.
Hinata was aghast. "This... this is abominable! What kind of human being would want such a thing? Your father turned an entire village against you? They all went with it with no objections? Your mother was killed by people she cared about? My mother was murdered? My clan was willing to risk me becoming a vegetable all because they didn't want me to like you? Why? For the love of Kami-sama why?" Tears streamed down her face as she asked this.
Naruto was silent for a brief moment but nodded knowing how much it hurts seeing he too was affected. "Hinata, you didn't say anything about Kyuubi being in me. Why? Doesn't that freak you out too?"
"It surprised me, but after seeing all this that's the least of my concerns. I know you're you Naruto-kun, not a fox, so I'm not worried about that. What I am worried about is what people will do to us. I won't let them try to destroy my feelings for you. I won't!" Hinata answered, much more adamantly than she had ever been in her life. More tears were forming in the corner of her eyes.
Naruto was quite surprised. "You're... most worried about them turning you against me than anything else?" He could tell from the Sandaime's entries and his talk with Kyuubi that Hinata liked him, enough to likely side with him on his plan, but actually seeing it shocked him.
Hinata nodded. "Naruto-kun, you're the only thing keeping me from wanting to commit suicide."
"Suicide? Why would you even think that Hinata?" gasped Naruto.
The white-eyed girl looked away for a moment, but returned her gaze to him, looking like she was already uncontrollably sobbing. "Naruto-kun, you have suffered something I couldn't imagine even in my nightmares, but you're not the only one who's unloved by their family."
Naruto surprised her by coming to her branch to sit next to her. She got nervous but made no effort to put distance between them. "I heard from the file that you weren't exactly favored, but... do they really hate you enough that you'd want to kill yourself over it? And why am I the only thing stopping you?"
"Well, it's kind of hard to say they like me when it's written down right here they were willing, and still are, to destroy my ability to think, right Naruto-kun?" She pointed out, using an example she knew would speak to him right then.
Naruto nodded, and could tell from the look in her eyes there was more on the subject. "What happened to you? You can tell me all of it you know."
"I... I don't know why, but they all just plain and simple hate me. Maybe this is why, because they can't force me to think like them, because I like you and they don't want anyone to like you, especially someone from their clan. Anyway, they... their idea of training me is beating me until I bruise, and they don't even use the juuken to do it half the time. There's a big difference between the actual juuken and simply pummeling someone like a thug. They even make me fight my sister a lot, knowing full well I hate hurting her but she relishes in hurting me. And if that's not enough, they keep telling me to be stronger yet they always threaten me with a seal they know will cripple me further. Overall, it's a pretty clear message: my life has no significance to any of them. If I died tomorrow, they'd smile instead of grieve."
Naruto was surprised to hear this. 'No wonder she's so quiet and keeps to herself in class. I probably would too if I was in her situation, having a family but being hated by them.' He reached out and put his arm around her shoulders to comfort her, and she leaned into his embrace, putting her face into his collar. She was trembling, and Naruto guessed it was a mixture of grief and rage.
"Hinata?" He asked after a moment, getting her to give him eye contact again. He saw she was lightly crying now after telling him all she knows and feels of her life. "You said the only reason you haven't killed yourself is because of me. What exactly did I do?"
She looked at him with an expression he didn't recognize, but was certain wasn't negative. "I've seen you suffer before Naruto-kun. I've tried helping you when you passed out or went to the hospital. So many times I thought if I was in your place I'd pray for death, and yet you're strong enough to keep striving and work towards a better future, for both you and others. I knew that if you could survive your life, I could survive mine. But I don't want to just survive, I want my life to have purpose, and..." She paused for a moment, uncertain about what she wanted to say next but she knew he needed to hear it. "And I want you in my life."
Naruto looked away. "Hinata, after all this, I don't think I'm strong enough to keep going. At least... not the way I had been. I refuse to give this village what it wants from me, but I'm not going to give them the satisfaction of killing me and starting over."
"So what will you do?" Hinata asked, slightly fearful of his answer.
"I'm getting the hell out of here. Kyuubi told me about a place I can go where they can't find me. Not won't find me, can't find me. I'm only telling you this because you're the only person I know who can be trusted. Also, Kyuubi wants to know if you would rather accept his invitation to go with us, or stay he-"
"I'll go." Hinata said with a lot of conviction.
"Just like that?"
She nodded. "What do I have here that's worth holding onto now that I know all of this? Why should I live in a village where the leaders think like this?"
Naruto smiled. "Thanks Hinata. Truth be told, I was hoping you'd say that. I'd hate to leave and have no company, or leave you behind to suffer more."
"Should we tell anyone else?"
Naruto shook his head. "Even with proof, who would take us seriously? The village will spin some lie against us and everyone will side against us because of reputation alone. No one must know, but we'll keep this on us so we can use it against Konoha later."
Hinata thought it over, and nodded. She too could not think of anyone who would believe what she said or wouldn't seek an authority figure later to confirm or deny the validity of their files, and such an action would invoke the wrath of Konoha's complete governing body. "How soon should we leave?"
"Do you have anything that you don't want to leave behind?" Naruto asked.
"Just one thing, something my mother left for me."
"Go ahead and get it, and anything else you need. Meet me above the hokage monument when you're ready." Naruto told her. Hinata nodded and surprised him and herself by quickly kissing his cheek before running off.
Naruto just sat there on his ass rubbing the cheek that Hinata planted a kiss on. Still wondering where that came from, he just stared into nothing and thought more of that kiss... a beginning.
Hinata returned to her clan's compound, wondering if she would ever see it again. 'The real sad thing is that thought doesn't hurt me. This never was my home, just where I was forced to sleep each night. A prison, that's what it is. A prison.' She mentally sighed. 'I guess deep down there's only one thing I'll miss here, and that's Hanabi. Sure, she never really liked me in return, but at least now I know she won't have to take on that damn seal. Then again, now I seriously wonder if she was ever at risk for it in the first place.'
Unnoticed by anyone Hinata walked back inside. The sad thing is she wasn't using stealth to do so. The guards paid no mind to her unexplained return and everyone else was busy elsewhere doing their own thing. But before she reached her room, she did run into someone, Hanabi.
"What are you doing here?" The younger girl asked, as if the older one was somehow trespassing.
"I live here. What more reason do I need?" Hinata replied.
Hanabi scoffed like she was insulted and walked away. Hinata sighed sadly. 'The clan turned against me and they turned her against me too. I may miss her, but no part of me believes that she will miss me.' Pushing that negative thought aside, she went into her room and went through her personal belongings. Not wanting to risk being seen leaving with a pack full of supplies, she instead took all her spare money and a single memento from her dead mother, a lavender stone silver necklace.
"Hinata." Hiashi's voice was heard from her door, making her freeze up before looking towards him. "I thought you went out. Why are you back so soon?"
'Couldn't he at least pretend he's not bothered by my being here?' Hinata asked herself, already knowing it was a moot question. "I... I th-thought about w-wearing Okaa-san's necklace for luck when I g-got assigned my genin team and I w-wanted to make sure it still was where I k-keep it."
For once Hinata was grateful for her stutter. Thanks to her nervous habit it was hard to tell when she was lying unless they were actually trying to find dishonesty in her body language.
Lucky for her Hiashi wasn't. "Very well, though I think it was a foolish choice on your part. If that necklace was lucky your mother wouldn't be dead now would she?"
Hinata was deeply offended to hear her father talk about her mother's death in such a lethargic tone, especially since she now knew he was involved in it. "W-w-well ma-maybe that was so unlucky there's n-nothing left in the necklace but good luck."
"Whatever. Just don't disappoint me when you are assigned." He said before he walked away.
'Don't disappoint him? How on earth can I disappoint him? It's not like I can choose who I'm assigned with. Not that it will matter one bit once Naruto-kun and I are out of his hellhole and away from people like you.' Hinata thought, allowing herself a brief moment of hostility before she stashed the necklace on herself and hurried back outside.
It didn't take long for her to meet up with Naruto again on top the Hokage Monument. "Did you get it?" He asked.
She nodded, and quickly hugged him to regain a sense of comfort and belonging. "Yes. Let's get out of here before anyone stops us. Where will we go?"
"Kyuubi's got an idea, and to be honest it's the best option we have now." He said as he separated from her and they both started running away from the village, going the direction where the defense and look-outs were weakest.
"Where will we go?" Hinata asked again. "Sooner or later we will be noticed missing and anbu will be sent out to bring us back. Since we can't outrun them, where could we go that they wouldn't find us?"
"Kyuubi has a plan, and it's better than anything else I can come up it so what do we have to lose?" Naruto said.
"What is it?"
"Kit, if you want to avoid giving Konoha what it wants, the only thing you can do is leave it." Kyuubi told Naruto.
"Leave it?" Naruto asked.
Kyuubi nodded. "Yes. If you stay you will be extorted, taken advantage of and used until you've got nothing left to give. They will take and take and take until you can't even give them dust. And now that you have a doujutsu awakened, they will feel even more validated in doing so."
Naruto touched the skin under his eyes. "What is my doujutsu?"
"It's something I haven't seen in a long time. The eyes of the only man I ever considered my superior, the Sage of Six Paths. Your clan must somehow be descended from him. Anyway, these eyes are called the rinnegan, and your anguish over this must have awakened them."
"What can they do?"
"A lot to say the least. But since you have them, no one in Konoha will want you to ever use it. They will basically force you to have kids in hopes they get the eyes, but they themselves would never allow you to have something they can't control. Your only chance at a life of your own is to escape. But this won't be like pulling a prank. Even you can't escape the Anbu long enough for it to be worth it. While your skills at escape and stealth are commendable for someone who's self-taught in them, they are not enough to be dependent on. However, I do know a place you can get to where they cannot follow."
"The summons realm."
"It's where we bijuu spent our time before we all were forced into our human prisons. We didn't spend all our time destroying human homes after all. If we did your race never would have had a chance to progress as they have. We relaxed in our own home with some creatures like us. In fact, it was through us that humans learned how to summon in the first place."
"Oh yeah. The old man has a monkey summons. He showed me once. So you know where they come from?"
"Yes. Now, since I'm sealed in here I'm incapable of returning there. However, if you become a summoner I can send you there instead."
"Nice. How do I become a summoner?" Naruto asked.
Kyuubi pushed out a large scroll from inside the cage. "I've been working on this for some time now, waiting for this. It's the new fox summon contract. I had to create a new one to void the old one that had a rather nasty person on it. Once you sign your name on it, you become a fox summoner, in fact the only fox summoner until someone else is included, and then you can be taken to the fox region of the summons realm. There I can assure you that you will be protected and trained properly."
"Sounds good. Right now anywhere is better than here."
"Just to let you know, if the pale-eyed vixen sides with you, I recommend pulling this contract into the outside world and letting her sign so she can escape with you. Otherwise she won't be able to come with us." Kyuubi added.
"I'll let her decide that part." Naruto said before he opened up the scroll. In it he saw a bunch of writing right away written exactly like a real contract, telling him the terms and conditions of being a summoner. The gist of it was that foxes would agree to assist Naruto in matters they could or at least found worthy to assist in, and Naruto would never disrespect them or use them as servants and cannon fodder. Satisfied after seeing no downsides, Naruto signed his name in blood on the first blank space, but he signed it as Naruto Uzumaki.
"Why not use the name your mother gave you?" Kyuubi asked.
"I would, but since 'Naruto' is what I'm used to, I thought signing as anything else would void it." The blonde answered.
"Acceptable. Now, when the time comes I will help you get out of here. Before that, go check on that vixen." Kyuubi told him before Naruto left the mindscape.
They came to a brief stop, and Naruto molded his chakra, adding a small amount of Kyuubi's into it, and the fox scroll materialized into reality. "Kyuubi said you can come, but you have to sign this first."
Hinata took it from him and wasted no time in signing it, her name and hand print next to his. "We're in this together Naruto-kun. We're the only ones we can depend on anymore."
Naruto felt greatly comforted in hearing that, in knowing Hinata had no ill will towards him. For a little while a small part of him had worried otherwise, that she was no different than the rest and she just hadn't been pushed that direction yet. Now that part was silenced. If Hinata was somehow against him, she was putting herself too much at risk for any plan to be worth it. Logically, she really and truly was on his side.
"Thank you Hinata. Now, Kyuubi will be ready to take-" Naruto started, but before he could finish they both were covered in smoke, along with their scroll.
"-us there?" He finished when the smoke cleared. "Where are we?"
"The fox region of the summons realm." Kyuubi told him.
"You can speak to me without me being right there by the cage?" Naruto asked.
"Here I can. My power is strongest here. I can also speak through you with your permission, which will come in handy until I'm released from this seal without harming you. But we'll have to find other foxes to help us on that part."
"Something wrong Naruto-kun?" Hinata asked.
He shook his head. "Nope, just surprised the fox can speak to me directly now."
"Oh, okay. Does he know just where we are?" Hinata asked. The scenery was mostly a clear meadow with nothing in sight except a lot of scattered trees and rocks. In the distance to the west was what looked like a human village, and they were currently standing on a dirt road leading to it.
Naruto was silent for a few minutes, listening to the Kyuubi explain. "He says we're in Shobikou, the fox territory of the summons realm. It's mostly forest and valley, and gets a lot of snow during the winter. He placed us close to where he used to live but not so close we would shock any foxes and make them attack us. He says if we go up to some and show them the scroll they should at least hear us out before doing anything."
Hinata nodded. "Let's look then."
When they got to their destination, both were surprised to see it almost was exactly like a human settlement. In fact, at first glance they thought they saw actual people and wondered if they were taken somewhere else. That worry died as soon as they noticed that all the people sported fox ears and tails of various numbers and colors. Also a large number of foxes of various colors and tail numbers walked around without trouble.
"What is this?" Naruto asked.
"It's a kitsune village." Kyuubi answered. "Remember from legend how kitsune often like to impersonate humans and live among them to avoid being hunted? Well, we've adopted a bit of your lifestyle and made it our own too. Sometimes we even walk around in human form for practice and when having hands and height is needed. All I can say is Inari-sama really likes us."
"Oh, that makes sense." Naruto said then repeated to Hinata who agreed.
The two walked in, and for a while no one noticed, at least not negatively. They received a few friendly waves and hellos from the residents, both human form and fox form, but no one was eyeing them suspiciously.
It didn't last long, for a group of foxes in fox form approached them. "Why are you here, humans? Do not lie, we can smell your true species."
Naruto was a bit nervous but he answered first. "We are fox summoners who were brought here by the Kyuubi."
"Fox summoners? There hasn't been one of those in decades." A fox commented.
"You claim to be connected to Kyuubi-sama. Can you prove this?" The fox that appeared to be in charge of the group asked.
"How can I?" Naruto asked. "Unfortunately a bastard sealed him inside me when I was born and it was only yesterday I even found out about it. I'd let him out but I don't know how. The only real proof I have is the contract right here." He then held out the scroll, patting it for emphasis.
The foxes looked at each other, wondering what to do. "Why should we believe this?"
Naruto then pulled out a folder. "Can anyone here read?"
After giving the file to the foxes, Naruto and Hinata were sequestered in an ordinary building while the fox contract was also being examined. The examiner saw nothing in it to make him believe it was false or invalid, and thus confirmed for the others these two were in fact fox summoners who had to have had a meeting with Kyuubi at some point since only boss summons can write out official summon scrolls. The only question was what to do about them being here.
To answer that question, the next day Naruto and Hinata were brought to a group of foxes that were referred to as the Alpha Pack. The group was apparently the foxes that had been ruling Shobikou in Kyuubi's absense, consisting of a group of seven foxes. At the moment only two were available, both of them were in human form wearing old fashioned kimonos and seated on pillowy cushions. And of course they all had fox ears and tails.
"Please sit down young ones. No need to feel uncomfortable here." A regal-looking woman with long blonde hair that framed her face like Hinata's did but was braided in the back, green eyes, a golden collar around her neck, and a grey kimono displaying white flower petals, said to them. "My name is Nasake. We are part of a group that have been ruling Shobikou in Kyuubi-sama's absence, waiting for his return. The others are busy attending to business elsewhere in Shobikou so my mate and I will handle this for now."
Naruto got nervous seeing them stare at him, feeling like they were scrutinizing him. 'Are they mad at me and my mother's family for holding him captive? Do they plan on killing me to get him out?'
Sensing his fear, Nasake continued. "Be at ease kit. We intend you no harm. From what you've brought to us, we feel we must at least hear you out before we decide your fate. Is there anything you wish to tell us?"
"Well... is there anything about what you read that you didn't understand and want me to clarify?" Naruto asked, this being the safest response he could think of.
"The name references were completely unfamiliar, but we got the gist of it." The other replied. He looked a bit young but still many years older than either of them, sporting short spiky black hair, black eyes, a cobalt collar around his neck, and a white kimono with black stars decorating it. "My name's Shiawase, and I take it you are Uzumaki Naruto, correct?"
The blonde nodded. "Yes, and this is the only friend I have in the world, Hyuuga Hinata."
The girl blushed deeply but bowed. "Hello, nice to meet you both."
"We understand from the record you brought with you that Kyuubi-sama was sealed away inside you Naruto years ago by a man with certain unsavory ambitions, and before that he had been sealed away in two others named Uzumaki as well." Nasake stated. "One thing we did not find was why this happened in the first place. Can you explain?"
Naruto shook his head. "Sorry I can't. I didn't even know he was inside me until yesterday. I didn't even know it was possible to seal demons inside people like that. I think Kyuubi himself might know, but you'd have to ask him directly since I might repeat the answer wrong."
Shiawase put his hand to his chin. "I don't know of a way to remove him from you, but it is a matter we will look into. But until then, let's discuss something we can do something about. Namely, what you expect from us."
"Good sir, we expect nothing from you." Hinata politely told him. "We do have requests, but we do not believe we are in any position to expect or demand anything of you, regardless of our connection to your kind."
"Nice to see someone humble, unlike the last fox summoner." Nasake commented. "Go ahead and state your requests."
"Our only real request is for asylum here, to remain here and not be sent back where we came from. If you recall the file, you should already know why. We're not really sure what we can offer you in return, but we will listen to any requests you have of us." Hinata answered diplomatically.
Naruto turned to her, shocked she is doing such a good job at making a good impression. He on the other hand wasn't but seeing she was raised to be heiress she knew what to do and say.
The two kitsunes in human form shared a look, as if silently communicating. After a moment they looked back to the two young teens. "We have decided that for several reasons we will grant your request and give you asylum here in Shobikou. However, you must understand a few things about this." Shiawase told them, making them relieved and concerned at the same time.
"Humans who can summon are allowed to visit and train in the homes of their summoning partners, however, they cannot live there. Not on a full-time basis. You never see summons living full-time in your world either." Nasake told them.
"We wouldn't really know." Naruto told them and Hinata nodded.
"Now, because Naruto has Kyuubi-sama contained inside him, that might be overlooked. But that wouldn't really apply to Hinata here and it would only work until Kyuubi-sama was released. Therefore, you only have two options if the two of you don't wish to be separated."
Naruto and Hinata didn't even have to look at each other to decide what they wanted. "We're in this together. We knew that when we got into this."
Nasake and Shiawase grinned. "Well then, here are your choices. You can either go back to the human world but be allowed to return yourselves here through a self-done version of reverse summoning in times of crisis or need, or you take the training to become fox sages."
"What's the training?" Naruto asked, thinking that one had more appeal than the other option.
"Training only fox summoners are privileged to, which allows them to be more connected to nature and do things no other ninja could achieve or copy." Nasake told them. "All summons can offer this, but not all summoners are given the offer. They must first earn the right."
"What do we have to do to earn the right?" Hinata asked.
"Trust has to be established first between summoner and summons. Enough trust that the summons feel comfortable even having the human come to their lands." Shiawase explained. "Normally this takes years to establish, but if Kyuubi-sama is vouching for you both by bringing you here, knowing that this training is the only way to let you stay, that should be enough to give you the right."
"What is the training like?" Naruto asked.
The two kitsunes stood up. "Come with us, it will probably make more sense to see it."
Within an hour Naruto and Hinata had reached an enclosed giant forest. Surrounding it were many pillars of stone ringed around it, acting more as boundary markers than any sort of actual barrier. The forest itself looked no different than any of the ones they saw around Konoha.
"This is Kuo, where those chosen to receive fox sage training go to do so." Shiawase told them. "Once you go inside, you are free to stay for as long as you wish. However, and I cannot stress this enough, if you do enter, you can never exit unless the training is complete. If you try, you will be forever turned into a fox."
"Has anyone ever succeeded?" Naruto asked.
"Two people did. Their names were Uchiha Madara, the only person who ever gained the ability to summon Kyuubi-sama himself, and Uzumaki Mito, the only one who was ever able to defeat Kyuubi-sama by herself."
"Wow." Naruto said at hearing his ancestor's achievement.
"Not something I'm proud of, but I'll give her due credit for it." Kyuubi commented, remembering a time other than the creation of the Valley of the End.
"How will we learn? And do we need anything before we go in there?" Hinata asked.
"Food and water will be provided within, as will shelter. Clothes will have to be brought in from outside but fortunately we kitsune can go in and out whenever we want. We just choose not to as a sign of respect to Kyuubi-sama since he's the one who created the fox sage arts here."
"Really?" Naruto and Hinata asked.
"Humans aren't the only ones who use chakra you know. We develop methods too." Kyuubi told his host.
"As long as you think of it as a long camping trip, you'll do fine." Nasake told them. "Inside there, we believe there may be a way for Kyuubi-sama to teach you what to do. If not, we'll check up on you and send for a proper sensei to help you out. But don't try anything without supervision." Naruto for some odd reason felt a stare coming from Kyuubi even though he really couldn't see it.
The two young teens nodded, knowing Kyuubi would be there to guide them. Hinata didn't like the idea of living off the land 24/7, but part of her ninja training was for such situations so she wouldn't be going in blindly. And having Naruto around as company and help would make up for general human luxuries.
Sensing his host's uncertainty, Kyuubi spoke up once more. "You'll be fine kit. You've got nothing to worry about, for you or her."
Naruto lightly smiled and took Hinata's hand in his own. Showing he will be there for her "Let's do it. Together." Hinata smiled and nodded, tightening her hold on his hand too. As the two look into the area only one thing came to their minds, 'When we finish here, Konoha and everyone in it will learn what they did wrong.'
"Hokage-sama, we've got a problem." Hiashi said as he burst into Sarutobi's office uninvited.
'Usually when he says 'we' he really means 'I'.' The old man mentally groaned. "What is it Hiashi? I am very busy you know."
"My daughter has gone missing. Vanished into thin air. She was last seen yesterday but not one of my clansmen has been able to spot her since." The Hyuuga head told him.
Now Sarutobi was a bit concerned. While the byakugan was not incapable of being fooled no matter what the Hyuuga believed, the general concession on it was that if the Hyuuga couldn't find something then it simply wasn't there to be found. "Which daughter, and what are the details of her last sighting?"
"Hinata, the one who for some reason likes the brat and can't be broken of it." Hiashi said with a shameless sneer, disgusted at having to admit he had a connection to someone he would consider 'embarrassing' to actually be a compliment towards.
Hiashi's relationship with his oldest had always been a strained one. His wife Hitomi had always been against Minato's plan to warp Naruto the way he had been, and truthfully she wasn't alone in her opinion. But before she and any like her could do anything about it, anymore than they already managed to succeed in that is, Hiashi and Sarutobi had her killed in her sleep as a message to the others. Death by birthing complications was just a cover.
Unfortunately, her personality had rubbed off on Hinata, as had her belief that Naruto deserved to be treated like a human being. Hiashi had hoped for his daughter's sake she learn to go along with the crowd like every other girl her age did and despise Naruto as well, but she never did. After a while, there came an order to kill her too before she got too close to him, but Hiashi pleaded for an alternative.
"I don't like it either, but my brother sacrificed his life to keep her in Konoha and out of Kumo. To kill her now would make his sacrifice worthless. My wife was one thing, but this is another." He told them when they presented the subject.
As a compromise, they settled for altering her beliefs until she agreed with them. But no Yamanaka or genjutsu user could affect her, for reasons they could not understand. Still refusing to kill her, Hiashi settled for intimidation and tough love, all the while hoping she'd grow out of it. But after years of it not working and only making her a disappointment to him even further, he flat out gave up on her. The only reason he didn't kill her now was because he felt doing so would be admitting he made a mistake in not doing so sooner.
"I last saw her yesterday afternoon when she was looking for some good luck charm, and no one has seen her since. Though to be honest, it wasn't until supper last night we even realized she was absent. We spent all night searching Konoha inside and out to find her and discipline her for this, but to this moment we can still find no trace of her." The Hyuuga head told the Sandaime Hokage.
"That's not good." Sarutobi commented.
"It gets worse Hokage-sama." Hiashi continued, somewhat worried about having to bring this part of the news up. "First, when we looked inside her room for any clues, we found her hitai-ate in her trashcan."
"Her trashcan?" Sarutobi repeated, well aware of the meaning. Hinata for all basic purposes quit her job and insulted Konoha. The only thing missing was a slash across the plate.
"I wish that was all, but it isn't. Considering her misplaced interests in the demon child, we checked to see if she had actually gotten the nerve to interact with him. Unfortunately, we couldn't find him either."
"What?" Sarutobi asked, jumping from his chair and planting his palms on his desk. "He's got to be here somewhere! The boy's too stupid and naive to even consider disappearing, especially now that he's finally considered a ninja! He must be hiding somewhere. I don't know how or why, but he has to be. And we must consider the possibility your daughter is helping him."
"What will we do when we find them?" Hiashi pressed.
"Naruto unfortunately is too valuable to lose just yet unless he proves himself uncontrollable. As for your daughter, I'll leave her treatment to you. But that won't matter until we actually find them." He then took a deep breath. "Has anyone checked Naruto's apartment yet?"
"No one's been inside, but our byakugan has shown he hasn't been inside it recently."
"Did you notice anything unusual?"
Hiashi slumped his shoulders. "I did not personally look, and my retainers only mentioned that he himself was not inside, nothing further."
Sarutobi stretched his arms. "I better go see this for myself."
The Sandaime Hokage left his office with the Hyuuga head following him. In no time he made it to the rundown apartment that was part of a building that should have been condemned and demolished, yet stood since Naruto had to live somewhere and the kennel certainly wouldn't take him.
Having the key to his well-locked place, something he occasionally gave to the anbu to install fear in the boy growing up, he opened the door and disabled any additional traps he helped Narto set up, all to give the boy a fake sense of security he could easily exploit when it served or amused him.
"Naruto?" Sarutobi called out as a token formality, testing for any reaction. He got none.
A quick survey of the apartment showed nothing suspicious, except for two things. The ramen was still in the cupboards, and his own hitai-ate was in the trashcan just like Hinata's.
'Strange, Naruto and Hiashi's daughter barely have any interaction at all. How could they plan something together? It's too much of a coincidence that they would reject being a ninja and disappear separately at the same time. And I made sure Naruto couldn't ever think of betraying Konoha. Yet the evidence shows they had to be doing something together, and it looks like they've decided they're not going to be genin while doing it.'
"Any thoughts Hokage-sama?" Hiashi asked.
"I'm guessing your daughter has tried running from your clan. Why, I don't know, but she did somehow at some time get in touch with Naruto and convince him to get her out of harm's way. Again, I don't know why, but he accepted and they've both decided to forsake Konoha in the process."
"That sounds very unlikely Hokage-sama." Hiashi stated.
"The only alternatives are Naruto approached your daughter instead with plans to desert Konoha, or someone outside Konoha took them both and Naruto put up no struggle." Sarutobi countered calmly. "Both ideas are absurd. We've made sure to mold Naruto's entire thought process in the way Minato told us too. He'd rather be castrated then give up his dream of becoming Hokage."
"And yet my daughter who's barely ever talked to him convinced him to give that up to help her?" Hiashi asked.
"It's absurd too, but all we have to go on are absurd possibilities and this is the most likely one of them all. In any case, we'll never know until we find them." Sarutobi replied. "Gather your best trackers and send them out. I'll do the same with the best of the anbu. These kids couldn't have gotten beyond our range yet. We will have them back and their spirits broken." He added with close to a snarl.
Looking back in the apartment he noticed something odd on the kitchen table. Wondering what it is, both men walked into the kitchen and noticed something that made them run for their lives.
As they managed to make their escape they looked inside to see a paint bomb just now explode. "I think his pranks are getting to us" said Hiashi. Sarutobi nodded, agreeing with the clan head. As he closed, or rather slammed the door, a huge explosion went off inside his apartment, blowing both men off their feet and hitting the ground hard. To make it worse, Naruto's apartment wasn't on the ground floor.
Sarutobi turned to Hiashi who landed face first. "I think he knew we'd be here." The old man groaned.
Hiashi just moaned in pain, his pride hurt as much as his body. And considering that he landed atop a stray rock in the street that just happened to be placed in exactly the wrong spot, his shame hurt quite a bit too.