Author Note

Hi there and welcome to another chapter of Nidaime no Sairin.

As some of you guessed, it's time for the mission in Tea Country. Though, I have in mind a few more ideas to write, before starting said mission.

Please enjoy!


Nidaime no Sairin

Chapter 22 – Tea Country

Beta: Scheffinator


Six months has passed since Senju Tsunade had finally stepped foot inside her family's home village.

Like Jiraiya promised back then, all Hiruzen Sarutobi did was talk to her and set their relationship straight. Sensei and student had talked…though talked was only the beginning. There were curses, insults, threats to just get up and leave and never come back again…but eventually they had reached a compromise of sorts. Of course, the threat of her leaving had arisen when Hiruzen talked about wanting her to be the Godaime Hokage at one point. But the Sandaime Hokage knew a losing battle when he saw one and tried instead to reach some sort of agreement with his only female student. He knew, after all, the grievances of their past arguments about setting up a new shinobi program reserved for medics, that could eventually place one medic-nin in each mission in the future.

Of course, Tsunade wasn't about to settle for only that and despite Konoha's lack of funds for anything aside from the village's welfare, they had worked out a deal regarding her ever growing pile of debt accumulated so far.

It was Hiruzen's secondary goal to at least keep her inside the village for Tsunade to create new roots at the very least and then resume their conversation about his succession later on.

For each shinobi either she or Shizune helped heal in the hospital, Hiruzen would add money to a ledger that would be responsible for paying her creditors.

Of course, Tsunade wasn't born yesterday.

An alive shinobi would bring in revenue for the village and as such, Hiruzen would only be separating a percentage from said income instead of effectively drying the village savings for her benefit. However, and Shizune couldn't stress that enough when she heard about it…the black-haired woman was tired from the same vicious cycle…borrowing money for gambling, losing everything, having to flee from where they were and then find someone else to borrow money for more gambling.

Truth be told, if it weren't for Shizune, Tsunade wouldn't know where she would be at this point. She never expressed much, but Shizune walked away from her life, from her friends, to be with Tsunade the entire time.

Plus, getting back with her friends again, Tsunade had seen how happy Dan's niece was, now back as a Jonin for the village.

In the end, Tsunade was appointed as the Hospital's Head Physician with Shizune as her second in command. Her list of demands, though, made the only remaining hair in Hiruzen's head stand up. When she said she wanted to start a training facility for future medics, Hiruzen thought that she would work something up at the academy for future Genins…not having to spare actual Genins, Chuunins and even Jonins for her classes.

He actually blamed Naruto for this.

The blond Chuunin, now fifteen years old, had reached a growth spurt of sorts and now even topped Tsunade in height. Throughout these six months since returning with Tsunade, Naruto had intensified his training regimen, both in the physical and in the spiritual department. Constantly training and also hanging out with his superiors, Kurenai, Asuma, Anko and Yuugao when she's not in ANBU detail service, one Uzumaki Naruto has participated in many assignments throughout these past six months. Anko had even placed dibs on him every time he's available for her so-called 'juicy B-rank' missions. Aside from that, the Chuunin would occasionally summon a trio of overpowered Kage Bunshins to accompany the other Genins and assist them and even hang out with them, not that they knew about them hanging out with clones sometimes, instead of the original.

Tobirama-sensei's Bunshin technique sure was helpful in allowing him to be at multiple places at the same time.

As to why Hiruzen blamed Naruto…well, it turned out that one day, Tsunade was taking it easy in a café by herself, while studying the book containing the list of active Konoha shinobi and kunoichi.

Naruto happened to pass by the place and got inside to chat.

Tsunade was searching for ideal candidates for her medical shinobi program and asked for his input regarding possible names. Of course, in his mind, his Chuunin comrade Sakura would be at the top of the list, no doubt about it. They went on a couple of missions already and Sakura was really thriving. Her chakra control was excellent for Iryu-Ninjutsu and she was quite the scholar as well. Hinata, as a Hyuuga, was like a human X-ray machine. Her dedication towards improvement was one-hundred percent and while not at Sakura's level, her chakra control would be boosted by learning under Tsunade.

Naruto had also given input about Inuzuka Hana, who was already a vet and Tsunade could even use her in the Hospital. Other names here and there from Genin, Chuunin and Jonin that Naruto knew that could participate. Kurenai had said that Yamanaka Ino was starting to come out of her shell and getting serious about training and Naruto even placed Shikamaru's name. Part of it was for the fun of seeing his Genin teammate complain and another part was that Shikamaru had an IQ that allowed him to do everything he sets his mind to and learning Iryo-Ninjutsu wouldn't be out of his range. Tsunade even remembered that the Nara Clan had their hands on creating the best medicines, so signing up a member of the clan was a given. For sure, Yoshino-obasan would also be thrilled to see her son enrolled in Tsunade's classes.

So, her medic-nin program was formed and Hiruzen just couldn't complain much…he was already celebrating that Tsunade didn't select one of his Jonins.

And just like Naruto predicted, Sakura was a found gem. Hinata, Ino and a grumpy Shikamaru were being tutored by Shizune, while Hana had the vet clinic and would occasionally have time for medic-nin classes. But, Tsunade decided to devote her full attention to training towards the pink-haired Chuunin. When they first met and Tsunade had mentioned that Naruto had vouched for her skills, Sakura was ecstatic. Her senpai had her utmost respect and admiration in more ways than she could count. Plus, with being a Chuunin and all, Sakura just didn't have much time for studies like she enjoyed doing at the academy. It was like a match made in Heaven for her to learn everything she could from the greatest medic in the Elemental Nations and she didn't have enough words of appreciation for Naruto.


=xxx=

It was late at night in a location near Bird Country as the forests around the country's main capital became alive with nothing but blurs of motion.

The four-man Chuunin unit moved in tandem, while silently advancing towards their target, a two-story mansion surrounded by trees and foliage. The Jonin responsible for the assignment, Raido Namiashi, used a shunshin and appeared on top of the tallest tree near their target as he observed the house's security measures. So far, all he could see was the occasional thug doing rounds around the property, but his experience told him never to expect what his eyes told him alone. Another shunshin later and he had called upon the rest of the mission squad for a briefing.

Shino, Naruto, Izumo and Kotetsu appeared through their respective shunshins as Raido began.

"Okay, first things first...our mission revolves around the recovery of an important scroll containing sensitive information from the client. Security measures appear to be scarce, but I won't take any chances. Naruto and Shino..." the two selected Chuunin called, nodded and paid attention. "Naruto's sensor abilities and Shino's bugs shall run reconnaissance first. Once that's done, report it back...based on your report, we shall coordinate the house invasion. Izumo and Kotetsu, you two take point and look out for Naruto and Shino, while they proceed. I shall be overseeing from above." Four brief nods, before the four Chuunin broke in pairs with Izumo following Naruto and Kotetsu performing guard duty while Shino unleashed his clouds of bugs to scout the place.

With Naruto and Izumo, they moved swiftly across the terrain, until they hid behind some bushes closer to the property, close enough for his sensor capabilities to kick in. Izumo meanwhile observed him, while keeping an eye for any movement close to their position. When Naruto next opened his eyes, he looked back to his fellow comrade and nodded, before both shunshined back to their initial position. Once again, the team from the B-ranked document retrieval mission huddled once more as Raido urged Naruto and Shino to report, with Naruto starting.

"Aside from the common thugs doing rounds outside the property, I could sense the usage of chakra inside the mansion, though I couldn't sense anyone inside." Raido placed a thinking hand beneath his chin.

"The client was alerted to the possibility that whoever stole his property had shinobi assistance. Perhaps, what you sensed was someone using a disorienting Genjutsu to trap anyone from entering. Shino, your bugs are immune to Genjutsu, what can you tell us?" The Aburame Chuunin nodded and looked towards the kikaichu bug on his finger.

"Indeed, my bugs have reported the presence of four Chuunin level shinobi hidden inside the house, all of them located on the second floor. Though, I can't state from which village they are from."

Raido nodded and then formulated a plan of attack.

"Okay, then, listen up…Shino, you shall use your bugs for support, while us four shall break inside and retrieve the document. Drain as much of the enemy's chakra as you can, before we can go in." Shino nodded, before releasing the cloud of bugs that hovered above his position. "Izumo and Kotetsu shall enter from the front, while I shall accompany Naruto from the back. Assume that the second we enter, the Genjutsu inside will entrap us, so you'll only have a second, maybe less, to release and engage. Let's move!" The mission's attackers all vanished, while Shino remained from the back, providing back-up. As he saw his comrades advance, so did the cloud of bugs to drain as much of the enemy's chakra as they could.

Naruto and Raido unleashed their respective swords the second they sensed their chakra being invaded. Both released it at the same time, before blocking kunai from the enemy, who showed themselves, wearing the Rain village insignia and their breathing apparatuses. Each engaged with their respective enemy, though Raido took quick care of him. His black sword was dripped with poison and one scratch was enough to render the attacker useless, before he moved in for the kill.

Naruto's enemy was taller and stronger than he was, forcing him to use chakra in his limbs to adapt to the strength. Still, Naruto had more speed and agility in his favor, so taking his fight outside, it wasn't long until Naruto backed away a little, before molding chakra. The enemy watched transfixed as the blond Konoha Chuunin moved his sword in a circular motion and he could see the sword forming an after-image. Still, he wasn't about to let this kid do whatever it is he intended on doing and advanced using speed, while holding two kunai. Once Naruto finished his movement, his body moved in a zig-zag motion and the enemy's eyes widened at seeing the after-image. Naruto then got within the enemy's guard and managed to carve a great slice on the man's chest.

Raido had quickly sealed his kill and then appeared to assist Naruto in dealing with his enemy, though he arrived only to see Naruto using Gekkou Hayate's Kenjutsu style to finish his opponent.

The sword pierced flesh and blood spilled on Naruto's face. The enemy's eyes were wide, before his body hit the ground.

Quickly cleaning the blood from his sword, Naruto and Raido ran back inside the house as Izumo and Kotetsu finished with their enemies, while aided by Shino's insects.

After cleaning the scene and collecting the enemies' bodies, the team then went back to Konoha in order to report the mission's success.


=In Konoha=

The Hidden Village in the Leaves was exuberant at night with many pubs, bars and restaurants alive.

Tonight, Kurenai was invited by Shizune for some drinks. More of their classmates were also invited, though many were either on missions or were otherwise occupied. Meeting inside a specific bar, it didn't take long for them to order a bottle of sake for the table, as well as a sushi platter and some dango. Ever since Shizune returned with Tsunade, she went out of her way to meet up with every one of their old classmates, at least those who were still alive that is. Asuma, Kurenai, Gai, Genma, Raido and many others...tonight was another of her old dinner dates with her girlfriends and Kurenai obliged in her company. However, following Tsunade throughout her previous drunken stupors around the Elemental Nations, made Shizune acquire the taste and it didn't take long for her behavior to become inebriated by it, much to Kurenai's sighing in dismay.

"You know, it's so unfair! So unfair!" A drunken Shizune drunkenly shouted as she kept staring at Kurenai's breasts, hidden by her fishnet clothing. The illusion user could only look sadly at the display. "You're so lucky Kurenai-chan! You're so gorgeous and with a great style to boot." Shizune was practically standing on the table as she looked at Kurenai's face.

"Shizune, I think you've had a bit too much to drink." Shizune cared little and even inclined further on the table as Kurenai lifted her hands.

"So tell me, how is he?" Kurenai lifted her eyebrow in question and Shizune could only giggle, completing her inquiry. "Oh don't give me that look, of course I'm talking about Asuma?"

"What about him?" The question mark was still on Kurenai's face.

"Come on, you were all over him when we were young. It...it was just a matter of time." Kurenai took a few zips of her drink and negated with a smile, much to Shizune's comic displeasure.

"Oh no…yes, we had a few dates here and there, but we both decided that we're both better off as comrades and friends." That only served to deflate as Shizune fell down into her chair.

"Oh dear…but hey, any man would be lucky to have you, Kurenai-chan…I mean, look at you!" There she goes again, much to Kurenai's discomfort, until Shizune starts messing with her hair frantically. "Compared to you, I'm nothing special, you know...and Genma-kun wants nothing to do with me…that bastard…at this point, I will be alone." Kurenai became frantic, trying to control the obviously drunken woman, who was now sobbing with her face buried under her arms.

Meanwhile, Uzumaki Naruto had walked inside the same bar Kurenai and Shizune were at, though he was actually dragged in here by both Izumo and Kotetsu, after their completed mission.

Contrary to Kurenai, the three Chuunin were just having a nice meal together, while Izumo and Kotetsu had a beer each. They were drilling Naruto about what Raido was telling earlier about him using Hayate's technique on their last mission. Of course, while it wasn't technically a secret, Naruto wasn't about to openly scream inside a filled restaurant about what he could do, nor the fact that he was being taught by Yuugao-sensei in precisely Hayate's sword techniques.

Nevertheless, despite the grilling, Izumo and Kotetsu were rather nice to chat to and their constant teasing to one another was quite enjoyable. As a matter of fact, so far, many of the village's Chuunin had opened up to him in their assignments, which was rather nice, compared to how it was before.

After dinner, both seasoned Chuunin said their goodbyes to Naruto and left together. He was about to retire for the night as well, when he heard familiar voices coming from one of the private booths.

He opened up a smile as he saw Kurenai there together with Shizune. Though, at this precise time, he saw Kurenai make subtle hand signs, before Shizune simply stopped moving all together. Quickly approaching the two, Naruto saw Kurenai sigh and get up from her seat, about to approach Shizune's sleeping form.

"Ah Kurenai-sensei, is there something wrong with Shizune?" The voice alerted the Genjutsu using Jonin as she turned abruptly in surprise.

"Oh hi there Naruto-kun…" She blushed slightly at being caught using a subtle Genjutsu on her friend. "It's nothing really, I figured it was for the best to send her to sleep for the night."

Naruto took one short look at Tsunade's second in command and nodded.

"Do you need any help?" Kurenai sighed, now wondering what to do with the sleeping medic-nin.

"I guess I should take her home now…could you help me?" Naruto blinked a couple of times, but complied while he watched Kurenai leave to pay their tab, before returning.

Once outside the establishment, Kurenai and Naruto, now both at the same height, each took one of Shizune's arms and walked throughout the village's crowded streets.

"Do you happen to know where she lives?" Kurenai stopped walking and Naruto looked across Shizune's shoulders to see Kurenai's arms deflate.

"I don't…let's take her to my place, then. I can take care of her, there." It took five more minutes before they managed to take the downed Shizune to Kurenai's house, before she was placed on one of the couches. Naruto then observed as Kurenai rubbed her forehead and passed her hand through her hair with a sigh. "Perhaps, I should go talk to Tsunade-sama about Shizune's drinking problem." Naruto smiled and looked around, before figuring that the woman wanted to be left alone for the night.

"So, I guess I should get going, then." Kurenai looked back after placing a blanket over Shizune. "Goodnight, sensei."

"Wait, Naruto-kun, there is no need to leave right now…I'll make us some tea." Naruto observed as Kurenai went towards the kitchen. "You were on a mission this past week, weren't you? How did it go?"

The blond Chuunin took a seat on the opposite couch from the one Shizune was sleeping on as he responded. "Yeah, me and Shino actually…we went on a mission with Raido, Izumo and Kotetsu." Kurenai smiled, knowing that Shino went along…she did express her opinion that Shino and Naruto would work well together on missions. With the tea ready, Kurenai brought in two cups and handled one for Naruto, while he gave her a detailed report about the mission, even telling proudly that he managed to use one of Hayate's techniques, just like Yuugao-sensei's teachings. They had conversed all through the night, covering many topics, both shinobi related and even non-shinobi related with Naruto laughing about Izumo's and Kotetsu's failed attempts to get a rise out of Shino in their mission.

Kurenai laughed as well, picturing the situation.

Neither Chuunin or Jonin thought about doing anything, but enjoying each other's company, until Kurenai thought best to settle down for the night and let the still snoring Shizune get some sleep.

Naruto then went to his apartment to get some rest.


=Two days later=

Yesterday, Naruto took his sweet time doing practically nothing. Waking up late, checking up on the Nidaime's scroll and having a good meal fixed by old man Kosuke, the blond Chuunin stayed indoors the entire time, resting.

He had only allowed himself some free time to hang out with Shikamaru and Hinata, before resuming to bed and only waking up the next day. Not that he very much needed the rest, it was just that easing his chakra coils was paramount if he wanted to be up and ready when the Hokage called for him. Today, Naruto had simply decided to run some meditation drills, choosing a rather isolated location next to a lake. As such, closing his eyes and focusing on molding his chakra, Naruto took his sweet time passing his chakra through all of his tenketsu, before he had lost his awareness outside and became one by one with his chakra. The feeling of completion just filled his entire being at this point, as his mind became entranced by the feeling of his chakra travelling through the pathways.

However, at some point, the Chuunin started narrowing his eyebrows and sweating in sudden pain at the pressure he was feeling.

The blue chakra that he was so engrossed in feeling…the purity of it all, now became red and filled with anger and malice.

Naruto needn't open his eyes to see that his conscience was no longer seated on the lake, but rather sitting on another water source…deep within the confines of his mind and the location of a resident fox, called Kyuubi no Kitsune.

The growl made his skin crawl as Naruto opened his eyes and stood up to lock eyes with the fox.

"I assumed that in our last conversation, you wanted nothing to do with me." The fox just kept growling while in deep contemplation as he looked at his current jailer.

"Hmmm…and here I believed that after you got trashed by those imbeciles, dressed in black and red, that you would have crawled back in here, demanding me for power by now." Naruto narrowed his eyebrows, remembering indeed the time when Itachi and Kisame played with him the entire time. However, Naruto never expected him to be powerful enough to defeat S-ranked shinobi. Hell, he at this point considered himself skilled enough to take on B, perhaps A-ranked opponents.

"My opponents don't have a powerful mass of chakra inside their stomachs, but that didn't stop them from becoming S-ranked shinobi, Kyuubi." The Jinchuuriki just stood his ground as he now focused on the fox's eyes.

He firmly believed his statement to be the truth, however his shoulder deflated when the fox did nothing but laugh, hysterically.

"Ha…ha..aaha, that's quite precious. A jinchuuriki who does not want anything to do with the Bijuu. Oh how the village screwed up choosing you as my host…"

"Yeah, laugh all you want, why don't you? You're the one who called me here, anyhow." The fox stopped talking as he focused on the midget standing there with his arms crossed, looking all high and mighty.

"As a matter of fact, I did…it's a fact that it makes my skin crawl just by looking at you." With a sigh, Naruto just wondered if the fox just called him here to openly mock him. "However, it irks me even more to have a weak host. You may think you are getting stronger as you grow, but you're still due to face the real powerhouses out there. Not to mention that right now I'm linked to you, so if you die, I will inevitably follow." That information was new, but then again, Naruto was still unable to understand the intricacies of the seal responsible for imprisoning the fox inside of him.

"Okay, so what is it you suggest?" Kyuubi didn't respond, but merely smirked. Naruto saw in apprehension when the fox's energy leaked from within the cage and reached him in less than a second.

As he felt the fox's malevolent energy surround him, Naruto's mind became clouded with anger…the chakra then formed a red shell around him and a tail formed behind him. Still, despite it all, Naruto became so engrossed in his meditation exercises that he had learned how to better control his inner chakra. Right now, he could feel the fox's chakra mixing it with his own, making it stronger, thicker. His chakra coils slowly expanded, allowing an easier flow of energy to pass through and much faster than before.

Naruto wasn't aware of it, though, but the seal responsible for the fox's sealing located on his stomach glowed white…filtering the fox's chakra and turning it into his regular blue chakra.

"Humm, it seems you're not all talk…learning to cope with my chakra, even if it's only one tail's worth, is quite something. Now listen here, I will not stay idle here and let my jailer become weak. I have provided you with one tail's worth of my chakra…however, should I see that you're facing a foe you can't defeat on your own, then I shall give you more and I simply don't care whether you can handle it or not." Naruto now truly wondered just what he had gotten himself into this time, but before he could extend the conversation more, the fox got fed up with his presence and threw him out.

Once he was outside, Naruto got face to face with the purple-haired ANBU, more commonly known as his Kenjutsu sensei.

The fact that her hand was already holding her sword, Naruto could venture a guess that his little skirmish with the fox was felt a mile away.

"Uh hi there, sensei? Long time no see, huh." Naruto said, while scratching his head in embarrassment. By now, his chakra became less rattled and thus more manageable.

"Naruto-kun, since when do you tap into the fox's chakra…" the Chuunin sighed at that, knowing that he just couldn't withhold information from her. For sure, she was going to report this to the Hokage.

"The fox lured me inside and forced his chakra upon me. Hah, the bastard said he didn't want a weak host." The ANBU didn't find traces of deceit from her pupil and as such released her hold on her sword.

"Okay, as long as you're certain of what you're doing, though, you should then report this to the Hokage, so that Jiraiya-sama could take a look at the seal." Naruto nodded with a smile. "Now, the Hokage wishes to see you, so come along." Along the way, sensei and student shared information about Naruto's last mission and how he was able to perform the Oborozukiyo (Hazy Moon Night). It certainly filled the ANBU with delight, seeing that Naruto inherited Hayate's techniques.


=At the Mission Room=

Hyuuga Neji and Higurashi Tenten, now both at sixteen years old, stood at attention inside the Mission Room, waiting for the mission debriefing. Though, it felt strange for them to be by themselves there, since normally any mission would at least take a third member. The elder Hokage was busy just closing his eyes and smoking his pipe. Neji, being the utmost respectful, opted to stay quiet, but Tenten just lacked the patience of her fellow Genin teammate.

"Ah Hokage-sama, can you tell us what we are waiting for?" Hiruzen opened his eyes and leveled a stare at Tenten, which caused her to blush slightly in embarrassment.

"No need to worry, miss Tenten, we're only waiting for the third member to arrive, before we can proceed. I had just sent someone to retrieve him."

A quick knock on the door alerted everyone, before Naruto walked inside with Yuugao in tow. The ANBU in question bowed to their leader, before vanishing.

"Ah good morning, Naruto-kun…now, we can proceed."

"Hai Hokage-sama…" Naruto took notice of Hinata's cousin looking at him from the corner of his eyes, but he paid it no mind as the Hokage started the debriefing.

"Okay, then, let us begin…Chuunin Uzumaki Naruto, Genin Hyuuga Neji and Genin Higurashi Tenten…" Hiruzen initiated by opening the mission scroll. "With Naruto as leader, you three shall participate in a B-ranked protection assignment. Bear in mind that considering the situation, there's the possibility of this mission escalating to A-ranked. In Tea Country, there is a ceremony at the Grand Temple Todoroki every four years. We received the request to escort a runner, who happens to participate at the ceremony. You three are to march straight to Tea Country and receive further information from Chief Wasabi Jirocho. Now, please arrive in Tea Country by dawn." Naruto, Neji and Tenten nodded, before Naruto turned to the Genin.

"Okay then, pack up for a one week mission and meet me at the gates in half an hour." Neji frowned at the sudden order, but nevertheless complied, before leaving the premises along with Tenten.

Naruto already had enough experience with Sasuke and Kiba to know that he would need to exercise leadership.

"Is there something else you need to speak to me, Naruto-kun?" The Chuunin turned to see the Hokage and ushered him to speak in private. The Hokage hummed in consideration and nodded, before walking towards the Hokage's Office where a Kage Bunshin was waiting to report what happened with the Kyuubi just now. The real Naruto had just shunshined straight towards the gates to wait for Neji and Tenten to arrive.


=At the Gates=

Just like Naruto commanded, Neji and Tenten arrived at the time specified and Naruto thought about ridding them of any uncertainties before the mission started.

"Okay, before we proceed towards Tea Country, we need to establish something straight here." Tenten and Neji looked at him strangely. "This is a high-level B-ranked assignment and I just can't waste time having to exercise leadership…so, out with it…you first Neji as I believe I won't have any issues with Tenten." The girl member of the team was surprised at that and she then looked towards her Hyuuga teammate, who stared at Naruto's cerulean eyes the entire time. Memories of their match at the Chuunin Exams immediately came to mind as Naruto practically toyed with him the entire time. But, that was not what bothered Neji the most. No, what bothered him the most was that this guy from Hinata's age was leading them.

"The fact that you're a year younger than us and act all mighty bothers me." Naruto snorted, but allowed Neji to continue. "We have more experience than you and yet, you got promoted to Chuunin."

"I see...and you share his concern, Tenten?" Placed on the spot, Tenten felt torn, but she wanted to back Neji in this.

"Ah, I do…but, Hokage-sama has placed you as the leader, so…" Naruto smiled at them, at least understanding where they came from.

"Well, it's not like I can convince you two of my experience as a leader, but I at least asked for your trust as we advance. Neji, your Byakugan shall be important on this mission to keep a constant eye on our person of interest, so I will be counting on you…and as I remember correctly from the Chuunin Exams, you favor long-range weapons, right Tenten." To her nod, he continued. "We shall gather more data on who's the one we need to protect, so let us go." Usually, with Sasuke and Kiba, Naruto needed to be more forceful, but by the look on Neji and Tenten's faces, it looked like Naruto's words helped alleviate the situation.

As such, the three shinobi started their journey towards Tea Country. Along the way, Naruto had taken the time to ask about Lee's situation, remembering the damage caused by the Suna Jinchuuriki in the Preliminaries.

Tenten had explained that the great Tsunade-sama, in her words, had managed to treat him and Lee is scheduled to make a full recovery in no time. She had even hoped that Lee would be ready for their team to take the Chunnin Exams that will happen in Suna, in a couple of months. Naruto remembered his teammates talking about that. With him promoted, Team 10 would have to find a member to complete the team and Hinata was talking to Asuma-sensei about adding Yakumo to the team.

They had arrived in Tea Country a couple of hours after leaving Konoha and asked directions inside a Tea House about where to find Chief Wasabi Jirocho's village.


Author Note

Ok, that's it for now.

I initially thought about finishing this mission in one chapter, but then a couple of ideas surged, so the chapter would be too long to accommodate the entire mission.

Not much else to comment, I'm afraid.

Please tell me what you think.

Next update: Avalon Bond