Naruto stood in front of the shinobi council and waited. He was kind of beat up due to Tsunade catching him. He was brought before the shinobi council to get his review. He stood still and waited for them to speak.
"Alright then, you all saw the fight and you all were a witness to his skills. I will be eliminating myself due to how close we are and to dissuade any bias. We'll start with you Shikaku." Tsunade said. The man sighed and looked at Naruto.
"I was pretty impressed with your tactics. You seemed to have become even more annoyingly clever during your training trip. I do feel that we did not see all of your skills but I know that we will pretty soon. It is because of that, I believe that the rank of Special Jōnin would be best at the moment." Shikaku said. He looked at his fellow members who all nodded at his analysis. That's when the ANBU commander spoke.
"I agree with Shikaku but I do believe that if he gains some experience in the field, with him as leader, will help. I do believe that giving him any missions below C-rank would be a waste of his skills." The person said.
"Alright, as of this moment, Naruto Uzumaki is hereby promoted to Special Jōnin." Tsunade said. Shizune came and handed Naruto his new flak vest. It had more pockets that his chūnin jacket. He couldn't wait to alter it but that was dashed away when Tsunade told him not to. She then faced the council again. "Is there any questions for Naruto?" No one had any questions until a voice rang out through the room.
"Why did you not use the power within you?" the voice said. Everyone looked around when an elder stepped out of the shadows. The person was a frail, old man, who was walking with a cane. He had black, shaggy hair, and his right eye was bandaged. He had an x-shaped scar on his chin as well. He wore a white shirt, with a black or dark grey robe over the top of it covering from his feet, to just over his right shoulder. The robe concealed his right arm. Tsunade narrowed her eyes at the man.
"Elder Danzō, I did not know you were here. Next time, announce yourself or else." Tsunade said with a short tone.
"My apologizes but I was there for the match. I am fully aware that you have some measure of control of the Nine-Tails. I was curious as to why you did not show that ability. It could have gained you full jōnin status." Danzō said.
"If that was the case, I would have not accepted the promotion. I should not be judge on my control of the Nine-Tails chakra. My skills are good as they are." Naruto explained.
"I understand but we would have liked to have seen just how much of its power you can control." Danzō continued.
"We are shinobi elder. Even among those in our village, we do not readily give out such information. Information is important in our lives. Just know that I have worked out the use of the power of the Nine-Tails." Naruto stated seriously. Danzō did not like the answer and was about to push but Tsunade cut him off.
"That will be enough of your interrogation Danzō. I trust Naruto with the power of the Nine-Tails as does Jiraiya. If you have any questions, you may direct them to me." Tsunade ordered. The elder frowned but backed off. With that done, Naruto was excused from the room. He walked away but gave a brief glance to Danzō. He wondered why the fox was reacting to him in a menacing way.
Naruto arrived back at his apartment after celebrating his promotion with Kakashi, Jiraiya, Tsunade, Shizune and Tonton. After a while, Tsunade and Jiraiya were called away to a meeting and Kakashi had to go. As Naruto walked into his home, he stopped and looked around.
"Ino? Are you in here?" Naruto shouted out. He got no answer and went to check, knocking on her door. That's when he saw a note that explained that she would not be home and would be at the Torture & Interrogation Department for the night. Naruto shrugged and placed the note away. Realizing that he was alone, Naruto sat on his floor and entered a meditative position. He closed his eyes and took several deep breaths. When he reopened his eyes he was in front of the cage of the Nine-Tails.
The relationship of the two had improved during the training mission. Jiraiya had left the training of mastering his chakra to the demon. The two would often argue but Naruto was a determined student. He thrived under the beast that enjoyed trying to break him. Their mutual respect for each other had grown and they became partners. They worked well together.
"So, aren't you going to congratulate me?" Naruto asked with a big grin. The fox just scoffed at him.
"So you went up in rank, big whoop. You wouldn't be half the ninja if it wasn't for me." The fox said.
"Still a little bitch huh? That's okay, I know you like me somewhat." Naruto said with a smirk. He suddenly got serious. "So, what was that feeling earlier? You mad about something?"
"It was that man, the one with the bandages. That man is dangerous. He tried something when he looked at you. It was as if he was trying to control me through you. It was something that hasn't happened since I attacked the village." the fox explained. Naruto knew what really happened the night of his birth from the mouth of the fox. Knowing what happened, Naruto's eyes narrowed in suspicion.
"The only thing that can control you is the Sharingan. That shouldn't be possible. Kakashi-sensei is the only one who has had the Sharingan successfully implanted into him and the only person who did it is dead." Naruto said.
"Yes, you are right. Also, I felt something else familiar. It feels like he can bind my power as well and we both know what can do that." Naruto was now really worried about who this man was. What else could this Danzō do and what was he hiding.
"That's going to be a problem. Lucky for us, we dealt with that problem. Took us mostly two and a half years to do it but we did it. Itachi will be in for a surprise when we go up against him again." Naruto said with a smirk.
"That he will. You know, you would make a very good fox. It's too bad you were born human." The fox said. Naruto just gave him the middle finger before leaving. Naruto opened his eyes for a second and sat up. He made his way to the bathroom to get ready for bed.
Tsunade and Jiraiya were facing a major annoyance. It was Danzō and it looked like he was looking for answers.
"I don't know what you want for us Danzō. Naruto is really good at handling the Nine-Tails chakra. Why are you so worried?" Jiraiya asked jokingly.
"You belief in the boy does not sit well with me. What do you know about using the chakra of a tailed beast? By the way you are speaking and your tone, you truly don't have any idea just how much control he has. It also tells me that you weren't his teacher in controlling it. Has he been conversing with the demon itself?" Danzō demanded.
"Even if he has, that's really none of your business. If Naruto and the Nine-Tails are conversing, it means that Naruto has managed to gain the demon's trust and respect. I would think that you would be happy about this." Tsunade said with a bored tone.
"Then you would be wrong and your trusting the boy with the fox brings up questions of your leadership." Danzō stated.
"Well, that's why I'm the Hokage and you're not. I trust Naruto and I have faith that he knows what he is doing. This will be the last I hear of this Danzō." Tsunade warned.
"Very well lady Hokage, I shall leave it alone, for now." Danzō said and turned to leave. He exited the office and the two Sannin released a sigh. Jiraiya faced Tsunade.
"Why do you think he's so interested in Naruto's control of the demon's chakra?" he asked.
"I don't know but I don't like it. Let Naruto know to be on his toes." She said.
"I wouldn't worry. Naruto is no longer that naïve kid. He'll be prepared if Danzō decided to come after him."
Naruto was awakened by a loud banging on his door. Tiredly, he got up and made his way to his door. He opened it and he was surprised to see Shikamaru. He had grown noticeably taller. His hairstyle remains the same, but he changed his earrings from rings to studs. He was still wearing his flak jacket, along with a black long sleeved shirt paired with matching pants and sandals, and green lined mesh armor on his wrists and ankles. Naruto wiped his eyes and faced his friend.
"What's up Shikamaru?" Naruto asked tiredly.
"Sorry to wake you Naruto but there is an emergency. The Fifth Kazekage was kidnapped by the Akatsuki late last night." Shikamaru explained. Naruto quickly woke up at those words. He pulled Shikamaru inside and closed the door. He then faced him.
"What happened?" Naruto asked seriously.
"He was taken by one man, some who used clay to bomb the village. He wore a scratched symbol of Iwa. We don't know any more but we know that they work in two's. Kankuro was reported to have been going after him. Kakashi, Temari and Shizune are waiting for you at the gates." Shikamaru said. Naruto nodded and began to get ready. Before he did, he threw something at Shikamaru. It was a black book.
"There's a section in that book that is labeled 'Iwa'. Check it over and see if the guy that you mentioned is in there." Naruto said and went to get ready. Shikamaru was confused and opened the book. He was surprised to see several tags, each with a ninja village. He turned to the Iwa section and searched. By the fifth page, he found the man that Suna mentioned. When Naruto returned, he was wearing a standard jōnin uniform with his flak vest. His shins were taped and he had a belt tied to his waist. There were two shin guards that covered his forearms.
"Did you find him?" He asked. Shikamaru pointed to the guy and Naruto nodded and fixed himself. "Get that book to granny Tsunade and tell her who we are facing. I'll tell the others as we're going." Shikamaru nodded and the two left his apartment. They both vanished to get to their destination.
Naruto was with Temari, Shizune and Kakashi. They were traveling fast, hoping to reach the border within the day. Naruto wanted to move faster but he was convinced by the others to calm down. He did just that and was moving at their pace. As they moved, Kakashi spoke to him.
"So, we are dealing with Deidara, a missing ninja from Iwagakure?" Kakashi asked.
"Yeah, Shikamaru was able to tell by the abilities he used. Deidara use to be a student of the Sandaime Tsuchikage and was a member of their Explosion Corps. He suddenly turned traitor when he stolen a kinjutsu scroll to learn some sort of jutsu. He blew up several buildings in Iwa and fled. He's an S-rank ninja." Naruto explained.
"And Iwa just gave you this information?" Temari asked.
"When I was with the Pervy Sage, I suggested that we should figure out who else would be in the Akatsuki. With the exception of Amegakure, we managed to get a list of all of the S-rank shinobi from each village. Truth is, we kind of forced some of their hands." Naruto said.
"How?" Shizune asked.
"We gave each daimyō a gold copy of the Pervy Sage's book that was signed by him. Neither the Pervy Sage or I are allowed in Iwagakure or Kumogakure." Naruto said. "I meant to give it to Granny Tsunade but I was kind of busy fighting for my life when I returned." He looked at Shizune who just smirked at him.
"Whatever the case, we have a name to the face. Let's get going and deal with him. I will need all the information that you were able to remember of Deidara's tactics." Kakashi ordered. He nodded and the group continued on the way to Suna.
Tsunade read the book that Shikamaru had just given her. She was impressed with the work that Naruto and Jiraiya did. She took Deidara's page and put it in the Akatsuki section. After that, she continued to look at the book. For some reason, she looked into the Suna section of the book. She didn't really want to believe that someone from Suna would do something to Gaara but something came to her. Who would be the perfect match to deal with Gaara?
It was something that she thought us since learning of Itachi's and Kisame's attempt to get Naruto. She got reports back from her contacts in Kiri about the ability of Kisame's sword, Shark Skin. If Naruto used the Nine-tails chakra, that sword could easily take that chakra away. Then there was the well-known fact that the Sharingan can suppress the chakra of the demon. They were the best choice to go after Naruto and two other jinchūriki that she knew of. So who would be the best match to combat Gaara?
Deidara was actually a good choice due to his Explosion Style and the kinjutsu he stole. He could use his clay to attack from a distance. Knowing that the Akatsuki worked in pairs, who would be a compliment to him? As she searched, her eyes landed on one man. As she read what they got on him, she was sure that it could be him. If it was, then the team that she sent would not be enough. She was about to get a team when one just entered her office.
"Lady Hokage, we have returned within a day due to our youthful energy! Our mission was a success!" The excited man said. Tsunade just smirked at him.
"That's good to here. I'm sorry to say that you will need that energy right now." Tsunade said.
"What is going on?" asked the female.
"Team Gai, you are to re-equip and rest for thirty minutes. Once that is over, you are to immediately leave and back-up Kakashi's team who are heading to Suna. The Fifth Kazekage has been kidnapped by the Akatsuki and your skills would be the greatest asset to them. This is an S-rank mission." Tsunade said with seriousness.
"Yes ma'am." They said and left.
Naruto, Kakashi, Temari and a new face was making their way toward the Land of Rivers. That new ally was elder Chiyo. They arrived in Sunagakure within three days. They quickly made their way to the hospital where Kankuro was in critical condition. When they entered the room, the old woman saw Kakashi and suddenly attacked him. Naruto quickly came to his sensei's defense and stopped the woman cold. They two looked ready to fight if it wasn't for her brother, Ebizō. She then laughed it off and called it a joke.
After that, Shizune got to work. After getting the information from the medics, she used the Poison Extraction Jutsu to pull out the poison that he was effected with. He was still in danger but Shizune had something to make an antidote. Kakashi summoned his hounds to search for the Akatsuki and Kankuro help by giving him a piece of Sasori's clothes. His hounds got to work and found a trail in hours. By the morning, Shizune was able to create an antidote for the poison. She gave it to Kankuro and two more to Kakashi.
They made their way to the Land of Rivers when Temari decided to join them. Not only did she join them but the old woman did as well. After giving out orders to everyone, they were gone to their destination. One of Kakashi's dogs told him that team Gai was on their way. Kakashi sent Pakkun to lead them to the Land of Rivers. A day had passed and they were making good time. That's when all of them saw someone ahead of them. They all stopped and faced the person who was in their way. Naruto looked particularly worried and Kakashi stood protectively in front of Naruto. The man looked at the group and his eyes laid on Naruto.
"Well now, you have become a special jōnin Naruto. This might be more difficult than I thought." Itachi said. The group prepared to fight the rouge and last Uchiha.