Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto
Naruto flexed the muscles throughout his body as he yawned and stretched, slightly disturbing the sleep of his girls. He blinked several times as the effects of sleep began to fade from his system.
Fuu yawned once and snuggled deeper into Naruto's side clutching him all the more tightly to her body.
Opposite Fuu, Karin stretched pushing slightly away from Naruto before she too snuggled deeper into his side. One of her hand naturally sought out one of Fuu's where they entangled their fingers leaving their hands happily entwined and resting on Naruto's chest.
Naruto in response to their affectionate cuddling hugged them both firmly and planted a small kiss on the top of each of their heads.
Karin yawned and stretched one more time before looking up to meet Naruto's eyes. When their eyes met both smiled contentedly. She rolled slightly to get more comfortable to kiss him awake properly as well as herself. Ever since the last chuunin exams this had become their morning ritual and none of them complained about it in the slightest.
"Fuu is sad, you got the first kiss today," she pouted, having also rolled slightly to position herself to kiss Naruto properly.
Karin broke the kiss with Naruto and crawled slightly across his body to kiss Fuu good morning as well.
"Luckiest man ever," Naruto whispered to himself with a silly grin on his face.
Fuu and Karin's kiss ended shortly thereafter with both girls giggling slightly.
"You say that every morning," said Karin.
"Doesn't make it any less true," said Naruto, only to have his mouth captured by an aggressive Fuu who seemed to be properly awake now.
"I suppose not," said Karin, one of her hand rubbing Fuu's back absentmindedly as the girl continue her morning wake up ritual.
Fuu finally ended the kiss smiling happily. She hugged Naruto one more time and rested her head on his shoulder. "They arrive today."
"It's going to be a very busy year. I hope you're both ready for it," he said softly.
"We are Naruto-sama," said Fuu. "We will not let you down."
"I'm glad you're both here with me," said Naruto, giving each girl one more kiss.
"I'll get breakfast started, it's my turn," said Karin, finally separating herself from Naruto and Fuu.
"We'll be out shortly, just going to take a quick shower," said Naruto, sitting up and taking Fuu with him.
Fuu protested slightly until Naruto lifted the girl from the bed and tossed her over his shoulder.
Karin giggled, "Don't take too long, I might get jealous and burn your breakfast."
"We'll be out shortly," said Naruto as he entered the bathroom, using a foot to close the door behind him.
Not much later the three plus Kakashi, Sakura, Sasuke, and Tsunade were waiting at the village gates for the first delegates to arrive, assuming they would keep to their words.
"Uzumaki-taichou, is it absolutely necessary for me to attend? I am missing out on valuable training time."
"Yes it is, Uchiha-san," said Naruto. "Once all the delegates have arrived we'll have a short period of introduction and then you can return to your training with Danzo-san. Until then why don't you just meditate?"
"Mah, Sasuke-kun, be patient," chided Kakashi. "This is important. Plus it wouldn't hurt you to make nice with the Kumo shinobi, they know a lot of raiton techniques."
"Your logic is sound. I will abide this decision for now," said Sasuke, jumping up to a nearby rooftop and sitting down on the ledge overlooking them. He folded his legs under him and closed his eyes to meditate.
"It is still creepy," said Sakura, referring to Sasuke's behavior.
"First delegation is incoming!" shouted a man from the gate watchtower. "Insignia suggests Kiri!"
"So it begins," whispered Naruto. He couldn't help but remember the gokage kaiden and the discussions that followed the challenge.
"All of that's fine and good," said A gruffly. "But do we honestly believe he's going to keep his word?"
"Hell no we don't," said Naruto, forgetting where he was for a moment. "Sorry, we can't trust him to keep his word and it would be foolish to do so."
"So what do you suggest we do then?" asked Mei.
"We prepare for war," said Gaara, his calm demeanor spreading to the room. "Botsuraku will do its job. We'll train and prepare and then we'll take the war to them. In the meantime all of the villages will begin preparation for full scale war. Do everything we can to build up our forces and defend our villages."
"This just gives us more time then," said Mei, adding her opinion on the matter. "Surely he must be aware of it as well."
"I'm sure he's counting on it," said Gaara. "First he plans to crush and capture the bijuu all at once. Then he'll move on the villages. I have no doubt he's counting on making a big show of how powerful he is and how little chance any of us ever really stood. Take today's appearance for example, it was little more than a show of power or an idle amusement to him."
"One he'll pay for dearly," said Mei, hers eyes narrowed in understanding and anger.
"Welcome to Konohagakure," greeted Naruto meeting the six Kirigakure shinobi with a friendly smile. A four man escort team plus the two delegates to the Botsuraku team.
Naruto studied the boy he believed to be Chojuro closely, this was his first time meeting him. He was young, very young and but Naruto could still feel the boy's powerful chakra and the unusual chakra that his sword seemed to be emitting. Naruto couldn't help but be a little impressed with the young man, especially since the sword was nearly as big as he was.
Utakata was exactly as Naruto remembered him but he seemed to be more relaxed than the last time he'd met him, not nearly as tense or angry as he used to be. Naturally Naruto greeted his fellow jinchuuriki with a fist bump.
"How's the fat ass?" asked Naruto, smirking slightly.
"He's says fuck you, it's glandular," joked Utakata in return, bumping fists and grinning back.
"Ready to kick some Akatsuki ass?" asked Naruto.
"Hell yeah," said Utakata, unfortunately it didn't hide the little bit of worry that was in his eyes.
"Are we the first to arrive?" asked Chojuro nervously, the young man looking around wide-eyed at the village.
"Yeah, the others should be here soon. You're welcome to wait with us or one of us can show you to the barracks we'll all be staying in while we're in Konoha," explained Kakashi, joining the conversation. "Though we'd prefer you stick around, we do want to do a short meet and greet with all the delegates first."
"So two months here then we go to Kumo?" asked Chojuro, looking at his surroundings again.
"Let's recap one more time," said Mifune. "I want to be sure we're all on the same page. The team will assemble in Konohagakure in one month. They will spend two months there to be tested and evaluated by SIPA as well as begin some training based on the results of the tests. Is everyone in agreement so far?"
There were five firm 'ayes'.
"From there they will travel together to Kumo's infamous Shimogame for bijuu training for another two months."
A visibly flinched and huffed audibly at being reminded of having to let the details on that particular secret loose. It was necessary but not something he wanted.
Mifune waited once again for five affirmative confirmations before continuing. "From there a short stay in Shimogakure for weapons and armoring. And a month of kenjutsu training, mostly defending against it given that Hoshigaki Kisame will be standing in opposition."
"Yeah," answered Naruto. "This will probably be the slowest part of our training. The tests take a long time."
"Is it really worth it?" asked Utakata. "I mean, what are some tests really going to tell us?"
"A lot," answered Kakashi. "More than you can imagine if truth be told. You know what you've been trained to do through your various sensei and their abilities. For example, say your sensei trained you heavily in genjutsu but you actually would excel more in ninjutsu. Some of these tests will tell you that. Or if you're a taijutsu expert and you've been using a style like goken your whole career, some of these test might tell you that you'd be better off with a different style like suiken or tenken. Granted there is only so much training we can do in a year but you'd be surprised how much you can advance when you're training in things that benefit you most."
"Doesn't that risk undoing our current strengths?" asked Chojuro with a bit of a nervous stutter. It seemed he was a bit unsure of himself in such distinguished company, especially given his youth.
"Not according to the plan. We test and make suggestions but nothing too extremely different from what you're doing now. Like maybe you'd benefit from some iryojutsu training or genjutsu training just to give you an edge. Akatsuki no doubt knows a lot about what you can do now. The idea is to have a few surprises."
Chojuro and Utakata both nodded in understanding.
"This also let's your new teammates know you better. Combination jutsu are something we're going to be working very hard to develop."
"Inbound," called one of the shinobi up on the wall. "Looks like the team from Iwagakure."
"Great," grumbled Naruto. One of the four definitely hated him so this was going to be an interesting experience to say the least.
"From Shimogakure the team will travel to Kirigakure for stealth, assassination and infiltration training. Moving in such a large group will be difficult enough but this is the earliest we could arrange this training given the other priorities."
"If we're to take the fight to Akatsuki at the end of the year then they will need it," said Mei. "My best will be ready for students."
"From Kirigakure to Sunagakure for strategy and tactics-"
"Assuming the team have developed sufficiently to work together and combine their techniques," interrupted Kitsuchi, his arms crossed over his chest.
"Assuming, otherwise they will go directly to Iwagakure for strength and stamina conditioning and collaboration jutsu training," added Mifune, not acknowledging the interruption with more than a small nod.
"That decision will be made by the Kazekage, the leader of Botsuraku, at the end of the training period in Kiragakure."
"There is one small addendum," said Tsunade, she was grimacing due to the glares she received for interrupting given that she had made Naruto her voice in this meeting.
"Oh, and what's that?" asked A, the most annoyed.
"Senjutsu," said Tsunade. "There are members of this group that have summoning contracts, if possible we should arrange time for them to receive training in senjutsu if their summons will allow it."
"Akatsuchi has a contract with the moles, I think he has enough chakra for senjutsu but I'm not sure about his status with them. As soon as I get back to the village I'll get him to work on it until he comes to Konoha," Kitsuchi volunteered. "Adding even one sage to the team would truly make them a force to be reckoned with."
A grumbled. "It would probably be best to focus on that training during the time spent in Konoha and Kumo. For the non-jinchuuriki, there will be a lot of down time while they are at Shimogame."
"We'll push the jinchuuriki through SIPA first so if any of them have contracts they can focus on that while in Konoha," said Naruto, taking control back from Tsunade. "Now, I do have a concern that needs to be addressed." He gave a hard look at Kitsuchi.
"What's your problem?"
"I'm sure you've heard from Akatsuchi and Kurotsuchi as to who I am, who my father was. Are they going to be able to work with me?"
"They've been humbled," said Kitsuchi, seeming to refuse to go into further detail.
Naruto had no choice but to let it go for the time being.
Naruto was about to find out just how humbled they were.
"Welcome to Konohagakure," Sakura greeted the eight shinobi from Iwagakure, four delegates and four escorts. Her taking action relieved Naruto of the duty which he couldn't help but be thankful for.
"Inbound," called again from the lookout above the gate. "Kumogakure."
Naruto grinned at seeing Bee and Yugito completely forgetting the Iwa shinobi. He couldn't help chuckling at the large bruise on Bee's cheek where it was clear Yugito had recently punched him, most likely for rapping too much based on her twitching eyebrow and scowl.
"Welcome to Konohagakure," said Naruto loudly, meeting both Bee and Yugito with a fist bump each.
They met him with equal enthusiasm.
"Yo, Naruto," started Bee with his rapping only to be silenced by a punch to the already bruised side of his face.
"Hello again, Naruto-san," said Yugito politely. "I apologize for silencing Bee-san like that but I am under orders from A-sama to prevent him from rapping at all costs until the initial meet and greet has completed."
"Perfectly understandable," said Naruto, trying to sound as if wasn't the slightest bit abnormal. He was suddenly very glad he didn't greet them with the special rap he'd prepared. "So how was the trip here? Any difficulties?"
"Nah, a small bandit attack but they ran as soon as they realized we were shinobi," said Karui briskly. "Pussies," she snorted as an afterthought.
"So we're just waiting on Suna?" asked Yugito, looking at the various shinobi.
"Yeah, Gaara should be here soon," said Naruto, grinning ever so slightly. "This is kind of cool don't you think?"
"Eight of the bijuu in the same place at the same time. Probably hasn't happened since the shodaime hokage first gave the bijuu to the different villages," said Naruto.
C whistled in appreciation before commenting. "It's a lot of power to put in one place."
"What if this is a trap by Akatsuki to get us all in one place and they assassinate us to turn all the villages against Konoha and then a war starts and weakens all the villages so that Akatsuki can come in and finish us all off and then life on earth as we know will come to an end?" asked Omoi.
"Shut up, Omoi," shouted Karui, one of her hands going to her katana anyway.
"Not cool," said Samui, suddenly scanning her surroundings, one of her hands going to her own katana.
"Relax, everyone," said Naruto. "We're safe here."
The two relaxed slightly but it was clear they were going to be on edge for a while regardless of any reassurances offered.
Naruto couldn't help rolling his eyes at the paranoia but found himself scanning the trees outside the gates briefly. It just happened that as he scanned the surrounding forest he spotted a small shadow traveling along the ground in the middle of the path toward the gate causing him to look skyward.
It was a large disk of sand, upon which Gaara stood with his arms crossed, Temari and Kankuro flanking either side of him.
"Sunagakure," called Naruto loudly, a hand pointing to the sky above the gate then waving with his whole arm.
Gaara's sand platform lowered moments later to the ground just outside the gate. Upon touching down the sand dissipated and was sucked into his gourd.
"Welcome, Kazekage-dono," Tsunade greeted him first formally. "I trust you encountered no problems on your journey here?"
"There were no issues. Thank you for the kind welcome, Hokage-dono," said Gaara flatly, a small flick of his eyes at Kankuro told a different story however though not one of danger but more of annoyance.
"That is good," said Tsunade. "Now that you are here, all of the various delegates have assembled. Kazekage-dono, they are yours to command."
"Thank you again, Hokage-dono," said Gaara with a small bow. He stood straight and took a deep breath before approaching the assemble delegates. "Thank you, thank all of you for being here, for taking this stand. Thank you for joining with your jinchuuriki brethren to combat a threat unlike anything the elemental nations has faced before."
"As you are all aware by now Akatsuki has issued a challenge to all of the villages. Us versus them in a winner take all fight. But do not be mistaken, this is no challenge, no petty game or contest. This is a war and we are the first line and if we've trained well, pushed ourselves further than we've ever been pushed then we'll be the last line as well. A friend once told me that when we fight for others that is when we are at our strongest. I am strong because I fight for my family, my village, and my friends. Who do each of you fight for? What is your reason? Before this night is done I hope you will have all thought carefully on these questions and the meaning of your personal answers. If any of you find that you are here only because you were ordered to be here and want nothing to do with this war then you will be released without obligation or penalty, free to run back home." Gaara paused to study each of the faces of his new team carefully, trying to see what they felt at that moment in time.
"For now, I believe introductions are in order. I am Sabaku Gaara, I like the wind and coyotes. I don't like sushi or my brother's bad jokes. My dream is to see my village prosper." He then motioned to his brother Kankuro.
"Sabaku Kankuro, I like my combat constructs and the long tradition of Suna's war paint. I don't like when my sister calls my combat constructs' 'puppets' or my war paint 'make-up'." Unfortunately for Kankuro his introduction earned several snickers of laughter. "My dream is to surpass Akasuna no Sasori."
Temari stepped up next, slamming one end of her battle fan into the dirt in front of her with her hands resting on top. "Sabaku Temari, I am a proud kunoichi and I act like it. I don't like those girls who think being a kunoichi is only about meeting cute boys, getting married to someone strong and popping out a bunch of brats. My dream is to be a great kunoichi.
Kurotsuchi stepped up next. "Kurotsuchi of Iwa. I like my family. I hate Konoha but I'll make due if only to avenge my grandfather's disgrace. My dream is to become next holder of the Ryutenbin title."
"I'm Akatsuchi of Iwa. I like flying with the old man's technique, or I guess I did. I like a big meal and good company. I don't like murderers like Akatsuki. My dream is to make the old man proud and give him justice."
"I'm Han, I like onsen. I hate everything else. My dream is to be left alone," said Han gruffly, not moving from his spot leaning against a wall.
"I'm Roshi, I like a good sake. I don't like being betrayed by short gnome looking bastards even when they are already dead… sorry, I might be a little drunk already," said Roshi, pausing to take another pull from a large jug of sake that was previously tied to his belt. "My dream to live a little longer and see those Akatsuki bastards burn."
"I'm Chojuro, I like Hiramekarei and Mizukage-sama. I don't like Ao-sempai or his rude comments to Mizukage-sama. My dream…" he stopped to blush horribly.
Utakata shook his head but laughed all the same. Chojuro's crush on the mizukage was almost legendary in the village and everyone but the Mizukage seemed to know about it. "I'm Utakata. I like soap… and water. I don't like dry climates. My dream is to protect those who gave me a purpose again."
Sasuke dropped down from his rooftop perch. "I am Uchiha Sasuke. I like tomatoes and training. I don't like large crowds or fangirls. My dream is to kill the traitor, Uchiha Itachi and restore my clan."
"Hatake Kakashi, I don't really feel like discussing my likes or dislikes. Dream for the future… hmm. I have lots of hobbies," he said all this without once looking up from his little orange book.
"He likes porn and trying to be mysterious. He doesn't like anyone trying to take away his mask or to see what's behind it. His dream is to star in an Icha-Icha novel as the main character so he can read about his many fictional vicarious sexual adventures," answered Naruto for him, clearly not liking the original answer.
Kakashi shrugged. "Sure, you can go with that too."
Tsunade shook her head in disbelief.
"I'm Uzumaki Naruto. I like ramen, Fuu-chan, Karin-chan, and training. I hate the three minutes it takes to make instant ramen. My dream for the future is to become Hokage and make my family proud of me."
"Haruno Sakura, I like fruit cups and training with Tsunade-shisho. I hate when annoying jerks pester me for dates-"
"I haven't done that in years," protested Naruto.
"Doesn't change that fact I don't like it. My dream is to take over the hospital when Tsunade-shisho and Shizune-sempai retire."
"Fuu is Fuu. I like Naruto-sama and Karin-chan and my home in Konoha. I don't like Taki, they did not treat me well. My dream is to continue to be happy here with my new family."
"Uzumaki Karin. I like Naruto-kun and Fuu-chan and ramen. I don't like snakes or bugs," she paused to shutter for a moment. "My dream is to have a family of my own one day."
"I am the Killer Bee, no fool better dis my rap or they'll taste the sting of the Killer Bee." And further introduction was forestalled by Yugito silencing him with a broken jaw.
"Sorry about him. I'm Nii Yugito. I like sunbathing but hate perverts so if I ever catching any of you peeping on me I'll neuter you, clear?" For emphasis long claws sprung from each of her fingertips. "Other than that, my dream is to be an inspiration to young kunoichi everywhere."
"I'm C. I like juice, especially juice boxes. I don't like beer or sake. My dream is to be a good shinobi and one day a great sensei to my own team of genin."
"I'm Samui, I like cool things. I don't like uncool things. My dream… to be cool."
"Shit, Samui, that sucked. I'm Karui, don't fuck with me or I'll kick your ass. Now that was a good introduction, were you taking notes, Samui? My dream is to become Raikage to prove I'm the best ass kicker in Kumogakure."
"I'm Omoi, I like my team. I don't like a lot of things… like if a bee stung Samui and she was allergic and it killer her and then Raikage-sama blames Konoha and all the other villages and big war start then Akatsuki takes advantage of our weakened states and they kill everyone leaving me for last so I can watch them all die before they kill me too and then-"
"Omoi, shut up and stop rambling already," demanded Karui, waving away a bee that no doubt sparked Omoi's ravings of doom and gloom.
"Well, now that we've all been introduced to each other, I believe Hokage-dono has set aside a barracks for us and a number of training fields. Hokage-dono, please lead the way."
"First things first. Bee and Utakata, please follow Naruto, he'll guide you to SIPA. You two are first up. In two days Han and Roshi will be sent into SIPA and two days after that Yugito and Kazekage-dono will go in."
"What about the Naruto and Fuu?" asked Gaara.
"We took advantage of the month lull to push my contingent through testing again. It gives us more training time this way," explained Tsunade, pulling out a scroll and handing it to Gaara. "Their results are inside for you to review. I would suggest after everyone has been tested you read the full results to the entire team or you can read them as you go. It's up to you but having the team know each other's strengths and weaknesses will become very important, especially once you start looking into collaboration techniques."
"I agree it important. But I have some other ideas," said Gaara. "Can I get enough copies of each result so that I can give one to each of the team as the tests are completed?"
"Certainly," said Tsunade. "I'll have them sent to you tonight."
"Thank you, please lead the way."
Naruto meanwhile split off with Bee and Utakata to guide the pair to the SIPA building.
"Doesn't that hurt?" asked Utakata, pointing to Bee's now mostly healed jaw, having a bijuu had to have some advantages and the advanced healing was a big perk.
"Fo' sho'," rapped Bee. "But I gots to be true to Bee."
"But you must know by now she's going to hit you for rapping like that. Why wouldn't you just stop around her?"
Bee grinned. "Let big bro Bee school you fools. Girls play the game and don't let the game play them. She hit, she like, she like, she love, she sex me right up."
"So you're saying her breaking your jaw is flirting?" asked Utakata.
"Fo' sho'," he answered.
Naruto was rapidly shaking his head 'no' behind Bee, trying to warn Utakata off of his advice.
"I think you should reconsider your line of thought," said Utakata. "I highly doubt serious bodily harm equates to flirting in any culture, even one as bloody as our own. And I must ask, has she ever actually had sex with you?"
Bee froze a moment but apparently chose to ignore Utakata's words and kept walking, however he was suddenly very interested in his notepad and pencil.
"I think that means no," said Naruto with a chuckle.
"I think so as well," said Utakata, trying not to smirk too much given Bee could hear everything they were saying.
It was a quiet walk from there only broken when Naruto spoke. "Here we are gentlemen," he said with a grand gesture to a very plain, windowless building that had no security or checkpoints or anything else of notable value, not even a 'keep out' sign.
"This is SIPA?" asked Utakata.
"Boring," anunciated Bee.
"It is rather plain looking," said Utakata.
"Well it was a majorly secret program until this whole Akatsuki crap happened. It's not meant to draw attention," explained Naruto. "Anyway, the nerds will take over once you're inside."
"Thank you again, Naruto-san," said Utakata, walking forward and opening the door for Bee to walk through ahead of him.
"Sure thing, I'll see you two in a week to ten days," Naruto called after them before the door shut tight. He vanished a moment later in a shunshin, leaving swirl of leaves in his wake.