Disclaimer: All HP characters are the property of JKR, the WB, and respective publishing companies and all Naruto characters are the property of Masashi Kishimoto. This is nothing more than a simple FanFiction that I have written. I have made no money from this or any of the other stories I have posted on this or other sites.
Warnings: Mentions of character death, angst and drama, mild to moderate violence, mature content (foul language & mentions of alcohol), and AU. Child!Harry, Powerful!Harry, Intelligent!Harry, NOTstupid!Naruto, Powerful!Naruto, and Protective!Naruto.
AN: This story is self-beta'd; so there may be occasional grammatical or spelling errors that crop up every now and then and for those I apologize in advance.
Chapter 30: Restoration Efforts
December 18, 1986, Early Morning
Konohagakure no Sato, Hi no Kuni
After their camp had been deconstructed and their prisoners had been secured inside of the shed with the same barrier that had protected Iruka's house prior to Danzou breaking it down (the second barrier meant to be an added layer of protection to prevent the six Root members from escaping in the event that they tore down the original barrier), Kakashi and Iruka led the Genin back to the village. Naruto would end up carrying Nanashi since his adopted son had not woken up by the time they were ready to leave and he hadn't felt like waking him up.
Half an hour later (the group moving slowly due to Iruka being on crutches), they reached the outer streets of Konoha and wound their way through the streets towards the Hokage's Tower. As they traveled through the mostly deserted streets, Naruto couldn't help but notice the occasional damage caused to random buildings from the numerous explosions that had rocked the village over the past four days. He also noticed the scattered kunai, shuriken, broken swords, and other abandoned weapons that littered the streets or were stuck into walls.
Surprisingly, the amount of damage done to the village as a whole was far less than the damage that had been done to the village during the Oto and Suna Invasion a few years earlier despite the fact that it had taken far longer to subdue Root than it had to stop the invading force. Part of that was probably due to the distinct lack of a giant three-headed snake summons thrashing about and crashing through everything in its path (including the protective wall that surrounded the village). He imagined the rest of it was due to the fact that Danzou had wanted to rule Konoha and not just raze it to the ground like Orochimaru had intended.
The most shocking (and in Naruto's mind the most troubling) damage was the destruction of the three buildings that had been the Hokage's Tower. The large center building looked as if someone had set off a bomb inside of it, the left hand building looked like something large had stomped on it, and all that remained of the right hand tower was the charred framework of the ground floor. Due to its proximity to the Hokage's Tower, the Shinobi Academy had also sustained quite a bit of damage; though all four walls were technically still standing.
"They busted the Hokage's Tower," Konohamaru blurted out in shock as the four Genin stumbled to a stop the moment the damaged building had come into sight.
"Jijii would be so mad if he was here to see this," Naruto added in a pained voice as he recalled the number of times he'd visited the Sandaime (and the Godaime after him) in his office.
"Not as made as Tsunade-sama was when it happened," Iruka commented wearily as he ran the index finger of his left hand over the scar on the bridge of his nose. "I'm not entirely certain the summoned baku that was responsible for the destruction survived the axe-kick that Tsunade-sama dropped on its head in retaliation for destroying the last remaining buildings that her grandfather had personally built, or rather grown, back when Konoha was first founded."
"Who summoned a baku?" Naruto asked with a slight frown. "Actually; who in the world would even want to have a baku as a summons? Those things are creepy, dattebayo!"
"Danzou," Kakashi practically growled.
"Figures; that teme was an all around creep."
"You can say that again," Konohamaru muttered under his breath.
"Come on, Tsunade-sama is waiting for us," Iruka instructed as he began leading the way towards a large canvas tent that had been erected in the courtyard that sat front of the Academy.
Naruto took one last look at the ruins of the Hokage's Tower before he turned to follow the others. He ducked into the tent behind Kakashi just a couple of minutes later. He was a little surprised to find the temporary command center filled with far fewer faces than he expected given the current state of the village. Tsunade was seated at a folding table with a small stack of paperwork in front of her, Jiraiya was seated to her left with several open scrolls spread out in front of him, and Ebisu was sitting on a bench directly beside the entryway.
"Ebisu-sensei!" Konohamaru, Moegi, and Udon exclaimed the moment they caught sight of their Jounin sensei.
The three pre-teens practically Shunshined to the man's side a split second later and Naruto suspected that this was the first time they'd seen the man since they'd been released from the hospital. Naruto watched the small reunion for a moment before he approached the Hokage's table. Tsunade glanced up to meet his gaze the moment his shadow fell over her paperwork.
"Ohayou, baachan," Naruto quietly greeted as he took in the dark circles under her eyes, the fading bruises that marred her skin, and the handful of bandages that he could see peeking out from beneath her clothes.
"Ohayou, gaki," Tsunade snorted in return as the corners of her mouth curled up in amusement. Her eyes then raked Naruto from head to toe and inspected the sleeping Nanashi before she flicked her gaze over to the three Genin that were still mobbing Ebisu before she asked, "I take it the five of you managed to stay out of trouble the last three days?"
Naruto scoffed as he shifted the sleeping Nanashi so that he could free up one hand to fish the black-bordered scroll holding Mizuki's remains out of his utility pouch. He then set the scroll on the table as he retorted, "Trouble came looking for us twice."
"Who…?" Tsunade demanded as she frowned at the scroll.
"Mizuki-teme. He tried to pass himself off as Iruka-nii but it didn't work."
"Mizuki…? How did he get out this time? I had him placed in solitary confinement two years ago and he shouldn't have been capable of removing himself from his cell due to the security seals and the fact that he couldn't stand, let alone walk after what he did to himself the last time he broke out of prison," Tsunade growled irritably as her frown turned into a scowl.
"He said Danzou let him out. He looked pretty bad but someone must have healed him or given him some potent drugs because he managed to fight me for a bit despite how awful he looked. The teme also knew about Nanashi-kun; said that Danzou told him about him."
"Tch, somehow I'm not surprised that the old bastard had a hand in that as well," Tsunade groused as she picked up the scroll holding Mizuki with two fingers and tossed it at Jiraiya. "Put that in the basket with the other dead traitors waiting to be processed." Ero-Sennin gave her an annoyed look but complied with the order before he returned to the scrolls in front of him. Tsunade then turned her attention back to Naruto to ask, "You said trouble found you twice; who else attacked you?"
"Six guys in blank masks; we left them locked up behind two barriers instead of bothering with them."
"Why didn't you tie them up when they attacked you?"
"Because I didn't actually fight them; they got caught in the trap I'd set in the old shed that sits on that abandoned training ground. The idiots walked right into it."
"Well, that's something at least. How's your little gaki? Any changes since I last saw him?"
"I fine, boss lady," Nanashi groggily answered in Naruto's place as he lifted his head off of Naruto's shoulder.
"I see you managed to find your voice again, Nanashi-kun," Tsunade declared as she pushed herself to her feet and rounded the table so that she could look him over.
I… my voice not lost."
Tsunade chuckled in response to Nanashi's confused indignation over her reference to the long period of silence he'd maintained after waking up from his healing coma. She spent another minute checking his vitals (counting his heartbeats, listening to his breathing, and inspecting his eyes, ears, nose, and mouth) before she asked, "Are you in any pain at all?"
"Are you still tired?"
"Are you hungry?"
"Are you ticklish?"
"Yes," Nanashi automatically replied before he gave Tsunade a weird look for asking him that and Naruto couldn't help but snicker.
"That's good to know, gaki," Tsunade countered with a smug smirk. She then met Naruto's gaze as she instructed, "He will need to stay on bed rest for at least another two days and it will be best to stick him on a light diet until his appetite returns; so, stick to soups, non-acidic fruits, and steamed vegetables and try to avoid greasy or heavy foods."
"Shikaku also asked me to let you know that the two of you are also free to return to the Nara Estate since I know that your complex took a bit of structural damage in the fight and Iruka's house was demolished."
"Tazuna and Inari weren't hurt, were they?"
"No, they'd been evacuated to the emergency shelters with the rest of the civilians when the fighting broke out."
"Any other questions…?"
"Aa, is… is everyone else okay? I haven't seen Sakura or Shikamaru or any of the others."
"Aside from a few broken bones and bruises, they're fine. We were well prepared for the assault on Root and aside from a small handful of casualties on our side; most of the fatalities were incurred by Danzou's forces."
"Yokatta," Naruto repeated with relief, he'd been worried when he hadn't run into anyone; though he knew part of that was because it was still fairly early in the morning.
"Don't expect to run into any of them any time soon though as we did have a high number of injuries and anyone with even a small amount of medical training has been pulled into the hospital to treat the wounded and everyone else has been put to work running missions and cleaning up. Speaking of which; it's time for me to give you your assignment. Oi, brats! Front and center, Team Ebisu!"
Naruto blinked before he twisted around to glance at Konohamaru and his teammates; he'd forgotten the others were in the tent with him because they'd been so quiet. The three shorter Genin were quick to fall in around Naruto (Udon and Moegi on his left and Konohamaru on his right) while Ebisu stiffly moved to stand behind Naruto and Konohamaru. He was a little startled when the closet pervert (who used to hate him – though he hadn't been too mean when Kakashi had made arrangements for the man to help him during the Chuunin Exams) dropped a hand on his shoulder.
"Naruto, I owe you and your adopted son my gratitude for what you allowed him to do for me and my team once we had been found," Ebisu solemnly stated. "We are in your debt for we surely would have died without your assistance."
"I didn't really do anything; Kakashi, Asuma, and the monks were the ones that found you and Sakura was the one that kept you guys alive long enough for Nanashi to do his thing."
"You didn't have to allow your son to heal us to the extent that he did; I'm well aware of just how serious my injuries were before I lost consciousness. The fact that he was able to give me back my leg is a gift I can never repay; he not only saved me from certain death, he gave me back my life because I would not have been able to remain my team's sensei without my leg."
"I happy help," Nanashi piped up as he craned around Naruto so he could peer at Ebisu over Naruto's shoulder. Naruto briefly worried that his son would feel the need to weigh the Jounin's soul but he needn't have worried; Ebisu apparently fell in the same category of being a 'contented soul' (as Death had called it) as Shikaku. And wasn't that a weird thought.
"The proper way to say that would be to say; I was happy to help you," Kakashi corrected from where he was crouched on the ground reading through Icha-Icha Tactics behind Jiraiya.
"Too tired," Nanashi muttered in complaint before he buried his face into Naruto's shoulder.
"You can take a nap later, child," Tsunade declared as she returned to her seat. "Right now, you need to pay attention since you are technically part of Team Kakashi."
"Hai, boss lady."
"Due to the high number of individuals recently placed on medical leave (including half of Team Kakashi), I've been forced to do a bit of juggling when it comes to team formations to insure that we have enough people to take incoming missions. Ebisu, now that you've been cleared for active duty; I'm going to need you to temporarily rejoin the Jounin pool to help cover the higher ranked missions that have been coming in."
"What about us?" Konohamaru demanded with a slight scowl.
"I was getting there, gaki!" Tsunade growled irritably as she gave the kid an annoyed look for interrupting her. "Naruto, since you are the only uninjured member of Team Kakashi currently at loose ends; I'm placing you in charge of Team Ebisu and the four of you will be assigned to handle a quarter of the in-village D Ranked missions that are coming in."
"No…!" Konohamaru protested automatically.
Naruto didn't blame him; he would have felt the same way if not for the fact that being assigned to in-village missions meant that he would not have to leave the village without Nanashi since the six year old would be on medical leave for at least another two days, possibly longer. He did think it was a little weird to be placed in charge of a Genin team when he was still just a Genin himself but supposed she really didn't have any higher ranked shinobi to spare if she was had to pull Ebisu from his team in the first place.
"I don't want to hear a single complaint from you," Tsunade snapped just as Konohamaru opened his mouth to start adding complaints to his earlier protest. "I don't have time for you to have a tantrum over your mission assignment right now. Things are nowhere near as bad as they were after Orochimaru's Invasion three years ago but that doesn't mean we can slack off."
"Gomen," Konohamaru muttered contritely with only a small touch of petulance coloring his voice.
Tsunade eyed him for a moment before she returned her attention to Naruto and continued, "Naruto, due to the fact that the number of Genin running in village missions will be limited, I will grant you permission to utilize Kage Bunshin to help you complete multiple missions simultaneously in order to pick up the slack. My only two stipulations for allowing you to do so are that there is at least one warm body in charge of each mission to keep your clones in line and that you complete between eight and twelve missions per day to prevent a back-log from forming."
Naruto nodded in understanding; while his clones were no where near as easily distracted as they had been when he was younger, it was still best not to leave them unsupervised when assigned to menial tasks (like weeding) that he normally found boring. It was different when they were doing something important (like watching over Nanashi or training).
"Good. You'll report here first thing each morning to grab your missions for the day from Jiraiya and you'll hand in your mission reports to Iruka at the end of each afternoon. Once Nanashi-kun has fully recovered, he'll be joining you so that he can gain some proper experience before Team Kakashi resumes taking missions outside. Any questions?"
"Ano, how long will we be stuck doing stupid chores?" Konohamaru bravely asked with a pouting scowl.
"At least a week, possibly two; it really depends on how long it takes us to clean up the messes and repair the damage."
"Ah man, that sucks."
"A bunch of easy missions for the next week or two means that there will be more time for training once we're done for the day," Naruto stage whispered to cheer the younger boy up.
It worked like a charm and Konohamaru beamed up at him in response to the reminder that Naruto had promised to teach him a new jutsu. Naruto grinned back at him; the blond more than a little pleased to see the twelve year old acting more like his old self after the scare the gaki had given him a few nights ago. There were a few snorts of amusement from the adults present in response to the kid's abrupt one-eighty in mood as well.
Naruto's amusement dimmed a moment later as he realized that there was one person that Tsunade hadn't mentioned when she'd been divvying up their new duties. After a brief hesitation, he asked, "Baachan, what about Sai? Did you already assign him a task as well?"
"He's currently helping ANBU clean out Danzou's underground facility; once he's finished with that, I'll send him your way and you can either have him help with the missions or you can set him to watch over Nanashi-kun while you work."
"Oh, okay. Ano… who's going to watch over Nanashi until then?"
"Shikaku has that covered. If there are no other questions; the four of you can have an hour to get cleaned up, restock your supplies, and grab breakfast before you start work."
"Okay, baachan," Naruto replied before he turned to Jiraiya. "Oi, Ero-Sennin, can you give us our first four missions for the day so we can look them over while we eat?"
"Sure, here you go; you can take these four," Jiraiya replied as he shoved four scrolls in Naruto's direction without looking up.
"Thanks!" Naruto murmured as he tucked them into his pocket before he turned on his heel to leave the tent with his three temporary teammates in tow. He was just about to duck through the flap when he recalled his earlier promise to Konohamaru to have Tsunade fix things so he didn't feel weird in his body. "You three go ahead, I'll catch up to you in a minute, there's something I need to ask baachan."
"Hai, boss!" all three pre-teens crowed as they continued walking.
"What did you need now, Naruto?" Tsunade demanded in a slightly impatient tone.
"There's something you need to know about Konohamaru," Naruto stated in a low voice. "Asuma-san will probably need to know too but I think he already suspects something because of something Konohamaru told me. It's about what Nanashi did for him back at the Fire Temple."
"I'm listening," Tsunade stated as her irritation with the minor delay immediately vanished.
"On that first night, before Danzou trashed Iruka-nii's house, he was having nightmares about that creepy woman stealing his soul and what happened to him when she did. After I woke him up, he told me that he didn't feel like he belonged in his body any more. He said he wished he'd been dead so he wouldn't have to remember what had happened to him. After we talked about it a bit, he's been acting a bit more like himself but he still had nightmares every night."
"There's nothing wrong with him, physically; I checked before he was released from the hospital," Tsunade slowly stated in a slightly pained tone while Ebisu turned chalk white and clutched his heart in response to hearing about Konohamaru's plight. "Has he made any attempts to harm himself over the past few days?"
"No, he doesn't want to die. I was scared he actually wanted to die when he first told me he wished he was dead but that isn't true. He just doesn't like his memories of what happened to him. He talked about being in pain and burning while he was not in his body. He was also scared that that woman would come back for his soul again or that she'd go after his precious people until I told him she was dead."
"Yokatta," Ebisu breathed as a bit of color returned to his face.
"Remind me to have someone give you lessons in diplomacy once things settle down," Tsunade deadpanned as she too relaxed. "If you still plan to follow me at some point, you're going to have to learn a little more tact." Naruto laughed sheepishly at the implied rebuke. "I will make arrangements for him to see to Inoichi after the clean up is finished but I don't know what else I could possible do for him. For now, just try to keep an eye on him and let me know if anything changes."
"Hai," Naruto agreed before he left to catch up with the others.
He found them waiting for him just outside of the curtain wall that protected the Hokage's Compound. All three of the pre-teens looked a little lost as they stared at the remains of the Hokage's Tower. Not that Naruto blamed them; he felt a little lost knowing a large piece of his childhood was gone (he'd spent a lot of time in that tower pestering old man). Two more minutes passed as all three of them stared at the ruins before Naruto let out a soft sigh and began herding the others through the open gate.
"The three of you should go home and get cleaned up before we meet at the Nara Estate," Naruto suggested as he shifted Nanashi into a more comfortable position when he noticed that his son had fallen back asleep. "Once you get there, we can look over the missions we were given while we eat."
"Hai," all three of his temporary subordinates crowed without much enthusiasm; they obviously weren't looking forward to doing a bunch of D Ranked missions.
"First one to reach Shikaku's house gets first pick of the missions," Naruto challengingly drawled as he split away from the trio so he could take to the rooftops in order to save time.
The three pre-teens immediately took off running and Naruto snickered to himself over the little prank he'd just played on the younger Genin; he was going to be the first one to reach Shikaku's house. He'd probably still let whoever got there after him have first pick after he read through the missions; since he would technically be doing all four missions regardless of which one he took thanks to his clones. It would be fun to rile the winner up a bit before letting him (or her) choose though.
He made good time and dropped down onto the streets just a few blocks away from the torii gate that marked the entrance to the vast estate where a small fraction of the Nara Clan lived. There were no guards loitering about the gate but Naruto was not surprised given the current state of the village. It was also still fairly early in the morning and few Nara were willing to crawl out of bed before ten (unless they happen to be night owls and then you'd better not get between them and their beds as soon once they called an end to their day).
As he made his way through the estate, Naruto couldn't help but note the damage that had been done to the fields and gardens that made up the compound. Trees had been toppled, grass had been torn up, flowers had been trampled, the ponds and man-made rivers were clogged with debris, and at least two of the scattered houses had been torched. The deer that usually wandered about the estate were also missing and Naruto hoped they had only been scared away by the fighting and not harmed. Nanashi would be very upset if anything had happened to the deer.
Naruto reached Shikaku's house seven minutes later and he scowled at the slight damage he could see to the house before he climbed up the short flight of stairs leading up to the porch. He then hesitated for a moment when it occurred to him that there was a chance that there was no one home or that they were all sleeping. Normally, Naruto wouldn't be bothered either way but it didn't take a genius to know that the small family would still be tense and on high alert in the wake of the recent conflict that had destroyed a portion of their estate.
"Ohayou, Naruto," Shikaku greeted as he appeared out of the shadows before Naruto could decide whether or not he should knock on the door.
"Ohayou, Shikaku-jiji," Naruto replied as he half turned to face the man; taking in the fact that he was currently shirtless and had bandages swathed snugly around his upper torso and one shoulder.
Shikaku blinked in surprise at the new form of address that Naruto had just given him before his lips quirked up in a little half smirk that said he was amused. He then moved closer so he could reach out to run his fingers through Nanashi's hair as he asked, "Are either of you injured?"
"Nah, we're both fine. Nanashi's still pretty much exhausted though. He's at least talking again."
"That is good news. Have you eaten breakfast yet?"
"No, there wasn't really time to eat after Kakashi-sensei and Iruka-nii came to get us. Konohamaru, Moegi, and Udon will be here soon too; we're supposed to be working together until things are back to normal."
"Best come inside and fix something for the five of you to eat then," Shikaku instructed as he opened the door to usher the two boys into the house and Naruto's attention was drawn to the Jounin's injuries again when he noted how stiffly he moved and the fact that he wasn't using his dominate hand to open the door.
Naruto paused just inside of the entryway so he could ask, "How bad are you injuries, jiji? You're one of Nanashi's favorite adults and if he sees you're hurt…"
"He's going to automatically want to heal me," Shikaku finished with a slight grimace and a sigh when Naruto trailed off. "My injuries are mostly minor and more of an inconvenience than anything; hence why I am here and not in the hospital or working."
"Cracked or broken ribs?" Naruto asked as he eyed the bandages wrapped around Shikaku's chest as the older man began walking towards the kitchen.
"Three broken, two cracked, and six bruised along with a punctured lung and a dislocated shoulder," Shikaku grumpily answered. "So, you're going to have to make your own breakfast since Yoshino was called in to help at the Hospital and Shikamaru's team was amongst those that were sent out to hunt down those of Danzou's subordinates and allies that fled after our little fawn dealt with Danzou."
"Did you already eat or did you want me to make enough for you as well?"
"I already ate."
Naruto hummed out a wordless acknowledgement before he formed a trio of Kage Bunshin to start breakfast. After a moment's consideration, he created five more clones. One was promptly sent outside to keep an eye out for Team Ebisu. Another was ordered to feed the animals and put their things back in the guest room. The last three were then delegated to form a makeshift bed so that he could set Nanashi down and keep him close at hand so the six year old didn't get up to look for him if he woke up alone.
"Did Tsunade-sama inform you that I would be watching over Nanashi-kun while you ran missions?" Shikaku asked once Nanashi had been tucked into his clone bed.
"Sorta, she didn't tell you would be doing the watching; only that you had it covered. How's that gonna work? I mean, Nanashi's pretty much on bed rest for at least the next two days and you can't exactly pick him up right now."
"I had planned to ask you if you'd be willing to leave a couple of clones with me to handle any lifting necessary and to help me with a few things around the house until I heal up a bit."
"I'd have left a few even if you weren't hurt," Naruto absently assured the man as he watched one of his clones juggling a couple of eggs. "Oi! Be careful with those! I have more than enough chores that will need to be done today; I don't need you to be making a bunch of messes on top of that, dattebayo!"
"Ah, quit your whining; it's not as if you're doing any of the work," the clone snarked as he snagged the eggs out of the air and deftly cracked them on the edge of the bowl.
Naruto narrowed his eyes at the mouthy clone and waited for him to toss out the empty egg shells before he dispelled him using the ring side of a thrown kunai. The clone let out a single curse as it vanished into smoke before Naruto replaced it with a new clone. The new Kage Bunshin blinked at Naruto before it shrugged its shoulders, picked the kunai up off the floor and set it on the counter, and took over preparing the eggs for the omelets that were being made for breakfast.
"Anyone else got a problem with their assigned tasks?" Naruto demanded as he eyed the rest of his clones present.
"Nope; we're good, boss," all of the clones quickly replied as they paused and saluted the original before returning to their assigned tasks.
"Do your clones often talk back to you like that?" Shikaku asked in a perturbed tone.
"Nah, they only end up like that if I'm not paying attention when I make them or if I'm tired. A few of them will also get rather weird when I make a bunch all at once. Most times it doesn't bother me but I try not to let them run amok because they get into too much trouble. They kinda remind me of how I was when I was still in the Academy. Only mouthier."
"Am I going to have to worry about any of the ones you leave behind giving me trouble?"
"No, I always take extra care with the ones I make to watch over Nanashi. Especially after what happened the day that we rescued Gaara from the Akatsuki; when the blond guy with the mouths on his hands tricked me with his exploding clones."
"That's good to know; it would be too troublesome to deal with an obnoxious clone or two all day long."
"You have no idea," Naruto snorted in return; he was well versed in his clones' idiosyncrasies and all the ways they could annoy him thanks to the sheer number of clones he'd been using to train the past couple of months.
Shikaku cracked a grin in response to Naruto's comment and then immediately pressed a hand to his ribs. Naruto didn't have to ask to know that the amusement the older man had felt had aggravated his injured ribs; he'd injured his own ribs enough to know it hurt to even think about laughing while the ribs or even just the surrounding muscles were healing. The two of them would end their conversation there as Naruto's clones deposited a plate of food in front of Naruto at the same time as the clone he'd sent to collect Team Ebisu returned with the arguing trio in tow.
"I'm telling you, I was the first one here," Konohamaru insisted as he scowled at Moegi.
"No you weren't, I was here first and both you and Udon arrived at the same time," Moegi countered with an annoyed huff before she scowled back at him in return.
"I would have won if the two of you hadn't grabbed hold of me and pulled me back just so you could touch the porch first," Udon interjected with a slight pout before he sniffed deeply to clear his allergy clogged nose and wiped his nose with his arm to make certain it wasn't dripping snot.
"Actually, Nanashi-kun and I were the first ones here," Naruto corrected with a smirk.
All three twelve year olds fell silent as they digested Naruto's claim before Konohamaru jabbed his finger at Naruto and exclaimed, "You cheated! You tricked us on purpose!"
"Shinobi," Naruto proclaimed as he jabbed his chest with his thumb. "Cheating is part of our job description. As is using underhanded tactics to get one over on your competition. Now, quit yelling before you wake Nanashi up and park your rears at the table and eat your breakfast before it gets cold."
A polite cough from Shikaku's direction drew Naruto's attention at that point and Naruto blinked at the man in confusion before he realized the Jounin wanted him to introduce the new arrivals to him. The sixteen year old frown slightly, since Shikaku should already know who they were. He then shrugged off the strangeness and nodded in response to the silent order.
"Guys, this is Nara Shikaku. Jiji, meet the members of Team Ebisu; Konohamaru, Moegi, and Udon."
"It is an honor to meet you Nara-sama; please take care of us," Moegi politely stated in a somewhat formal tone as she hastily climbed back to her feet and offered the seated Clan Head a respectful bow that Konohamaru and Udon were quick to copy.
"It is a pleasure to finally meet the three of you as well; please be seated and enjoy your breakfast," Shikaku replied with a smile. "And, Naruto, when you leave to take care of the missions you've been assigned today; please leave me five extra clones. You obviously need to go over proper etiquette once more."
"Hai," Naruto replied around a heavy sigh; he was not looking forward to getting the memories of those stuffy lessons yet again.
"Hey, boss, what kind of missions did you get us?" Konohamaru demanded once it was clear that Shikaku wasn't going to say anything further on the matter of Naruto's extra lessons.
"No clue," Naruto replied before he fished the four mission scrolls that Jiraiya had given him out of his pocket. He then took a couple of bites of his food before he cracked the seal on the first scroll. "The first one is a request to clean up the lot where Iruka's house used to be." Setting that scroll aside, Naruto opened the next two one right after the other. "The next one is a request to make deliveries and pick-ups for the hospital during the morning shift to free up the hospital staff. The third one is an urgent request to turn a bunch of trees into firewood from… the Nara Clan. Really, Shikaku?"
"We'd normally take care of it ourselves but those of us who weren't injured are either out on missions or at the research facility working overtime to gather ingredients for those medicines that are in high demand right now; such as pain meds, blood replenishment pills, antibiotics, and burn creams. And the trees are currently blocking our access to the herd; meaning that we can't harvest the antlers we need for several of the medicines the hospital needs."
"Oh, gomen; I keep forgetting that you guys are the ones that make a lot of the medicines and supplements we use," Naruto murmured as he was again reminded that each clan played an important part in running the village above and beyond the fact that they supplied the village with shinobi.
"No harm done, I'm sure clan duties and politics were the furthest thing from your mind the last few days," Shikaku pointed out as he waved off Naruto's apology.
Naruto wrinkled his nose and nodded in agreement; kind of hard to think about everything Shikaku had been teaching him about the various clans of Konoha when he was far more worried about Danzou and his emotionless army doing their best to take over the village and get their hands on Nanashi. He then put the matter out of his mind as he opened up the final scroll to skim through its contents in order to find out what the final chore for the morning was.
"The last mission we were given was to salvage all of the scattered weapons from around the village."
"Those aren't so bad," Konohamaru reluctantly admitted. "Better than hunting down Tora or weeding gardens again, at least."
"Here, here," Naruto agreed with a snort as he recalled the number of times he'd had to catch that blasted cat.
"Who's going to get which mission? Or are we all going to do them together?" Udon inquired as he accepted a dose of his allergy medicine from Moegi after he sneezed into the crook of his arm for the seventh time in a row.
"It'd be faster to split up if boss is going to give us armies of clones to order around," Konohamaru suggested as he carried his dirty dishes to the sink.
"I'm not giving anyone an army of clones; they'd cause too much trouble," Naruto corrected with a snort. "I'll give you ten each and you're going to have to work with them; not just order them around. The person in charge of each mission will also be the one to fill out the initial paperwork and then I'll finish it. Do any of you know how to use or draw storage seals?"
"Yeah, Ebisu-sensei taught all three of us how to use them but he said we're not yet ready to learn how to make our own seals yet," Moegi answered as she got up to help Konohamaru with clearing the table; Naruto the only one still eating and he was almost finished.
"So long as you know how to put stuff in the seals, it should make half of the missions easier since me and my clones can make storage scrolls so you don't have to carry everything around," Naruto stated as he snagged the scroll holding Shikaku's mission. "I'll take care of the trees because the deer are sort of used to me hanging around. Do the three of you know which mission you'd like to take or do you want me to pick who does what?"
"The medics probably won't be happy if Udon does the hospital mission," Moegi hesitantly informed Naruto. "Not with his allergies acting up because they'll be worried about him getting the patients sick even if he isn't really contagious."
"So that leaves you or Konohamaru to take the hospital mission."
"I don't want to go back to the hospital," Konohamaru grumbled as he hunched in on himself.
"I don't mind running errands for the medics," Moegi firmly stated on the heels of Konohamaru's statement.
"Okay, I guess that means that Konohamaru can take the weapon collection mission and Udon can take Iruka-nii's mission."
"Why can't I have Iruka-sensei's mission?" Konohamaru demanded with a slight pout.
"Because your chakra reserves are larger and the one who takes the weapons mission will have to seal far more junk. As soon as I finish getting rid of the trees for jiji, I'll come help you because ten clones won't be enough to cover the entire village because the fighting was all over the place."
That explanation mollified the young Sarutobi and Naruto passed out the mission scrolls before he quickly finished his breakfast so they could get started. Before the four of them headed out, Naruto created the five extra clones that Shikaku wanted him to leave behind for lessons; he'd wait until he was outside to make the rest of the clones since there was limited space inside of the kitchen. Once outside, he didn't hesitate to produce another hundred clones before he handed out their working orders.
"Okay, you ten are with Moegi. You ten will be with Udon. And you ten are to help Konohamaru. The rest of you split into three groups; one to hunt down the trees that need to be cut, one to cut them up, and one to stack the firewood. Don't scare the deer while you work or Nanashi will pout at us." Naruto then turned to the three Genin as he added, "As soon as the three of you finish, check in with each other to see if the others need help. If you don't finish before lunch, pop a clone and I'll send more clones to help you finish up because we'll have to take four more missions this afternoon."
"Osu!" all one hundred clones plus the three pre-teens crowed as they saluted the original Naruto before they took off to get to work.
Naruto watched them go before he reentered the house so he could ask Shikaku what he wanted done with the firewood his clones were making. He also took the time to move Nanashi into a proper bed so he would be more comfortable. Once he finished tucking his son into bed, he dug out the storage scroll holding the spare blank scrolls that Jiraiya had forced him to buy in bulk when he first started teaching Naruto how to make storage seals. Naruto then planted himself on the front porch and began the tedious job of drawing out hundreds of storage seals.
As soon as he had the first four scrolls finished, he sent a pair of clones to deliver them to Konohamaru and Udon so they could use them to seal the salvage they collected. The next two scrolls would then be delivered to his clones chopping up the trees with two new clones that were charged with sealing the firewood into the scrolls as requested by Shikaku. He would send out additional scrolls once he had several of them ready.
After creating close to two hundred seals (ten to a scroll), Naruto took a break from drawing seal arrays so he could check on the clones working on the Nara Estate. He couldn't help but smirk a bit when he found his clones using the technique that Asuma-sensei had taught him to imbue kunai with wind chakra in order to cut the trees into sections. Not only did it make it easier to cut the trees but it also let the clones train at the same time. Instead of joining them, he took an axe off of one of his clones and used it to split the rounds that his clones were lopping off of the trees.
Sure, it would have been easier to use a wind blade but this way he'd get a bit of a workout and burn off a bit of energy at the same time. It also allowed him to work off a bit of the frustration he still felt over being forced to sit on the sidelines while everyone else had fought against Danzou and Root. And lastly, it prevented him from dwelling on which of his friends might have been hurt or worrying about those he knew had been injured (like Tsunade, Kakashi, Iruka, and Shikaku).
He would spend a full hour splitting logs before he put the axe down and checked on the progress his team of clones had made. He was pleased to note that the majority of the trees had already been cut and moved out of the way and all that was left was for them to be split up into smaller logs. A few of the larger rounds could also be left as is so that they could be distributed for replacements when using the Kawarimi no Jutsu or for training posts. Most civilians thought shinobi pulled the logs they used as replacements from the forests or out of thin air but the truth was that most of them carried logs that were stored in storage seal tags that were quick and easy to use.
Those that didn't carry extra logs usually had enough control to replace themselves with other things (like leaves or people) or didn't bother with the low ranked jutsu. Naruto usually just swapped with his clones because it was easier for him than worrying about replacing used logs or worrying about finding something to swap with while in the middle of a fight. He knew Kakashi carried tons of logs and homemade scarecrows on him while Jiraiya just didn't bother to use the Kawarimi because he had other tricks he preferred to use.
After contemplating the practicality of the Kawarimi no Jutsu for a full minute, Naruto refocused on what he was supposed to be doing. He then formed another trio of clones and sent them to check in with the others to see how they were doing and make certain that Konohamaru and Udon both still had enough empty storage scrolls on hand. While he waited for them to send their memories back to him (much quicker than waiting for them to return on foot), Naruto slipped back to the house so he could check on Nanashi.
He didn't even make it more than four feet past the entryway before he found the redhead. He was unsurprised that his son hadn't stayed in bed. He desperately wished he knew where his camera was though. He didn't think he'd ever seen anything so adorable as the scene he'd walked into just now.
Shikaku was stretched out on the living room couch asleep with Nanashi tucked up against his side next to the back of the couch. The half grown phoenix was, in turn, perched upon Nanashi's side and curled up with its (his…?) head under its wing and Nanashi's puppies were sprawled out on Shikaku's legs. Sitting on the back of the couch, one of Naruto's clones was softly reading aloud from the tale of the Bamboo Cutter's Daughter that was in the book of Fairy Tales that Iruka had loaned him.
As soon as he stopped walking, Nanashi's head lifted up a couple of inches as the six year old peered in his direction and Naruto smiled and waved at him. Nanashi smiled back before he settled back down and relaxed against the sleeping Nara. Unwilling to disturb the group any more than he already had, Naruto retreated to the kitchen for a drink of water and to find out if Nanashi had eaten the soup his clones had made earlier. He paused on the threshold of the kitchen when he found the five extra clones he'd left behind sitting at the table working on the lessons that Shikaku had given them.
It was odd seeing them all henged as five different people holding a formal tea ceremony using water. He'd later learn that they had also eaten a formal dinner (without food, since the clones couldn't eat), held a heated political debate, and practiced formal introductions until they were blue in the face when he got their memories. Ignoring the clones for now, Naruto checked the soup pot and found it empty (meaning Nanashi had eaten) before he poured himself the water he'd been looking for.
Naruto then returned to the living room to let Nanashi know he'd be back by lunch time and left one more clone to hunt down his camera before he headed back outside. He would run into one of the other Nara (one he thought he'd seen on guard duty at the torii gate a time or two but whose name escaped him) on his way to check on his clones and the man thanked him for removing the trees before disappearing into the forest. Bemused, Naruto absently ordered his clones to do what they could for the trampled flowers and ruined lawns when they finished with the trees.
He then left the estate to give Konohamaru a hand sealing away the weapons his clones were collecting and sorting. He also sent another pack of clones to the hospital to help Moegi when the clone sent to check on her reported that the medics running the poor girl ragged alongside of his clones. Naruto was rather impressed that the young kunoichi wasn't complaining about how much work she was being given. If they didn't let up, he'd hunt down Shizune and complain to her about it to make them stop because Tsunade would have his guts for garters if he let them overwork one of his temporary charges.
The rest of the morning would pass by in a blur for Naruto thanks to the mind numbing work and his clones' memories. The four Genin would get a short break for lunch before they returned to the Command Tent to pick up their afternoon set of missions. This time they were given a second shift of running errands at the hospital, another clean up site (for a restaurant that had been torched), a sweep check of the emergency shelters to check for stragglers and damage, and a runner to help Iruka and Kakashi deal with paperwork.
Naruto didn't hesitate to claim the hospital shift for himself before he sent Konohamaru to deal with the clean up (since it was a small job when compared to the others), Udon to check the emergency shelters (so he could get away from the smoke that was irritating his allergies), and Moegi to help Iruka and Kakashi (because she'd be able to rest between errands and they wouldn't overwork her). Naruto was so occupied with getting the three Genin set that he never noticed the proud looks Tsunade, Jiraiya, Kakashi, and Iruka were all giving him as they observed his behavior and took note of his decisions.
By the time the four of them finished for the day, they were almost too tired to think let alone summon up the energy to eat or get cleaned up. Naruto ended up dragging the three kids back to the Nara Estate with him instead of sending them home in their current condition. The lot of them would eventually crash in the guest room with Nanashi after Shikaku had prodded them into eating some soup for supper.
The next day would then be spent in much the same way; only Naruto refused to take more than a single shift at the hospital and he doubled the number of lot clean ups they did since those usually only took about two hours each. He also made certain that he took the two shifts of being aides to whoever was helping with mission reports because that was a guaranteed rest period for whichever one of them was given that assignment.
Their third day of clean up would see Nanashi joining them for the morning shift (Tsunade only allowing the six year old to be out of bed for four hours since he'd only just recovered from everything). Naruto gave his son a real easy first mission; helping Hiroko (Chouji's mother) to collect eggs from the Akimichi hen houses (for much the same reason why Shikaku had put in his missions – because the ones that usually took care of it were otherwise occupied). It was even a mission that Awaikage and Kurokage could help on because they could sniff out the hidden nests of those hens that didn't use the nests provided and they were small enough not to frighten the chickens.
That was the same day that the ANBU Corps finally released Sai now that they'd finished clearing out Danzou's hidden bases late in the afternoon. Instead of setting the older teen to stand guard, Naruto had him help with the D Ranks their group was taking and they went from working alone to working in teams of two plus twenty clones per team. The new formations allowed them to complete their missions faster and give them each a little break since they only had to do half the work.
The addition of Sai also saw them getting a few more of the usual D Ranked missions instead of just those dealing with the clean up of the village; such as weeding gardens, walking dogs, painting fences, delivering groceries, babysitting children, or tracking down lost pets. Nanashi was particularly fond of the babysitting missions while the missions that required them to track down lost pets were good practice for him and his ninken. Naruto didn't bother having him help with the dog walking missions though; he was too small and still too leery around large dogs (unless they were black).
Plus he was still learning how to properly walk his puppies.
Not to mention the fact that the puppies were a deterrent on their own since not all adult dogs tolerated puppies; that was especially true of those breeds that were known for their territorial behavior. The only exception were the Inuzuka ninken, since the pups were from Inuzuka stock (the only drawback was that most of the Inuzuka's dogs were fairly huge).
Naruto even managed to coax Nanashi into pairing up with each of the others at least once for a single mission each day; to give him experience working with others. He usually paired his son up with the others when he took a shift at the hospital since having Nanashi work in the hospital for any reason was just asking for trouble due to Nanashi's dislike of healing jutsu. It would also be a very bad idea to let Nanashi anywhere near the injured because of his little habit of healing the wounded without concern for his own health.
He'd even managed to heal Shikaku, Kakashi, and Iruka the moment he saw each of them after Tsunade had declared him fit for full duty. Tsunade had been annoyed by that but Nanashi actually relaxed after he'd healed the three men because he no longer had to hold himself back from healing his favorite adults. Naruto suspected that Nanashi would have also healed Tsunade and Jiraiya if he'd known they were both injured but they were clever enough to hide it from the six year old while the other three had been visibly injured.
Tsunade didn't complain too loud or too long; simply because having those three fully functional took a lot of weight off her shoulders but that didn't mean she didn't lecture Nanashi on the importance of not exhausting himself so soon after he'd just finally recovered from the mess on Halloween and dealing with Danzou's soul. Naruto was just glad that their injuries were fairly minor and mostly healed by the time Nanashi got to them; meaning there had been far less for him to heal than there would have been if he'd healed them right after they'd been injured.
Translations: Japanese to English
Aa – yes
Baku – a chimera-like creature from Japanese mythology that eat dreams
Gaki – brat
Hai – yes
Jiji/jisan – uncle
Jijii/jiisan – grandfather
Osu – typically used by martial artists in a variety of ways including as a greeting, as an acknowledgement, or as an affirmative
Wakatta – I understand/understood
Yokatta – an expression of relief, usually translates as 'I'm so glad' or 'thank goodness!'
AN: I'm not sure if I would call this chapter a real pain or a breeze since I'd been stuck for months after I'd written the first paragraph but once I got past that point, this chapter practically wrote itself. Inspiration for this chapter came from two sources; one was Shadowblayze's Naruto/HP xover called 'The Road to Ruin' and the other came from Challenge King in the form of some rather interesting Naruto/HP plot challenges. So, you can thank both of them for this chapter. =)
Anyway, I'm not certain when the next chapter will be ready as I haven't started it yet, though I do have a rough outline for what will be happening. And it's not for lack of inspiration this time; as I've been bouncing back and forth between various fics trying to finish the partial chapters I have. I also spent a bit of time editing and cleaning up the first thirty chapters and I will be updating those when I am ready to post the next chapter. I was originally going to do that today but I am not in the mood to reformat thirty chapters (which is a tedious pain on a good day).
This is actually the last chapter I will be posting for the year as I'm going to spend the rest of the month focusing on my writing so I can hopefully have lots of stuff to post next year. There's also the holidays to consider and this year I'd rather not spend quite so much time scrambling to get stuff posted like I did last year.
And lastly (but most importantly), I'd like to thank everyone for the reviews, favorites, alerts, and community adds. I'd also like to wish everyone HAPPY HOLIDAYS! ~ Jenn