Disclaimer – Kishimoto owns Naruto and the characters therein.
And yes, this is the final chapter for this story. See afternote for more details.
Memories Of Others
A Chunin Promotion
"I'm what?" Naruto gaped and on the other side of the desk, Tsunade smirked at him.
"You heard me, you're now a Tokubetsu Jonin, primarily because of your Hiraishin ability. Same reason for Hinata becoming a Chunin. Of course, this is where things get… harsh."
"I'm a chunin?" Hinata whispered. "I actually beat Neji in something?!"
Naruto blinked, then half-turned as the door behind them opened to reveal a familiar figure.
"Brat." Jiraiya mock-scowled as he walked into the room, followed by several others. "You told him yet, Hime?"
"Just getting to it… Pervy-Sage." Tsunade shot back. "Naruto, you are a priority target for the Akatsuki. So is Fu, but her assignment means that she is as safe as she can be while still remaining on active duty. You, however, need to up your game. You have Hiraishin, but there's at least two counters that we know of. You have the Rasengan, but it's apparently still incomplete. Your other skills are good, but need to get better. Jiraiya."
"For the next two or three years, we'll be training you until you surpass us all." Jiraiya said, motioning to the other Jonin who had accompanied him. "Gai will work with you on your taijutsu skills. Kakashi your ninjutsu. Kurenai has volunteered to help you with your weakness to genjutsu while Yugao will be aiding with your kenjutsu. I'll help with your general fighting but not your fuuinjutsu."
Naruto blinked. "What? Why?"
"The Great Toad Sage has decided that he's teaching you the way of seals." Jiraiya admitted. "Said something about keeping an eye on something he discovered when he helped you. I know Hinata's been helping you with reading and writing, but you probably need to make sure your calligraphy is up to scratch before taking the first lesson."
Naruto nodded in shock.
"Cheer up." Jiraiya laughed, slapping the shocked Special Jonin on his shoulder. "You should be honored, we'll all be using your little trick to make damned sure that you learn it right."
"Although the real you will be needed for actual sparring, there is no trouble at all utilising Kage Bunshin for learning the katas." Gai explained, a wide grin spread across his face. "I have been talking to your most youthful fiancee about how learning from both perspectives allowed you to rectify your literacy problems with astounding speed and I believe that the same concept will be truly advantageous for the most youthful study ahead of you!"
Kurenai gave Gai a long, considering look.
"I know." Kakashi sighed. "He does that. One moment, he's goofy Gai, then there's a sudden flash of insight that you're never quite sure about."
"That was not a very youthful thing to say, my eternal rival." Gai frowned.
"Sorry, did you say something?"
"Why must you always be so hip and cool?!"
Tsunade dropped her head into her hands.
"Who is Fu-san being taught by?" Hinata asked, then she frowned. "Hiruzen-sama, correct? He mentioned something about getting a new team."
"It took a while to get the third, but yes." Tsunade nodded. "Sensei doesn't idle very well, he has to be doing something. Giving him a Genin team means he has a reason to keep going, the tough old coot."
"By the way, I'll be heading out soon, doing the rounds of my informants and sources." Jiraiya interjected. "I'll take one of the Kunai with me and I'll be summoning you every so often, either for training or because I want you to meet someone."
Naruto nodded, then a familiar voice spoke.
"Since the others are aiding you, so shall I. Hinata, Ko shall help you to teach Naruto-san the etiquette and protocol needed to avoid causing a war should he meet a high-ranking official."
"Thank you, father." Hinata said with a slight bow while Naruto was sputtering denials and protests before an elbow to the ribs shut him up.
"What are you doing here, Hiashi?" Jiraiya asked, turning to look at the Hyuuga head curiously. "I know that I didn't grab you…"
Hiashi managed to smirk without changing his expression in the slightest. "I am the chief of the Hyuuga clan and Hinata's father. Why would I not be here."
"Good point." Tsunade allowed as Jiraiya was still trying to come up with an answer. "Hinata, although my duties as Hokage take up quite a bit of my time, I do have enough time to train you up as a medic. You won't be the only one, Gai has started Sakura on the path to becoming a combat Iryonin and has asked for my input, so you can expect her to be attending the same classes."
"Understood, Hokage-sama." Hinata managed. "Thank you."
"Don't thank me just yet." Tsunade said with a predatorial grin. "I'll make you the best medic I can… or break you trying."
"I won't break, Hokage-sama!" Hinata declared before blushing and moving slightly behind Naruto. Tsunade's grin widened.
"Excellent, that's the spirit."
"So, Jiraiya, what's the story about the Akatsuki?" Tsunade asked after everyone else had left.
"Itachi sent me a note via one of my contacts, the owner of a sweetshop near Konoha's northern border. All that time he spent learning to fake his Pocky addiction had really paid off. Akatsuki has gone silent because the former Mizukage died in combat, dispersing the Sanbi. Until it reforms, they are simply going to keep tags on the locations of the Jinchuuriki and Biju. Itachi'll send me a message when the Akatsuki decide to go active again."
Tsunade nodded slowly. "Speaking of Itachi, has he awakened his Mangekyo, like Sasuke?"
"The night he slew the clan." Jiraiya confirmed.
"Old Senju records said something about the Uchiha getting stronger by switching eyes." Tsunade explained. "I want to talk to Stoat. He'll need a boost if he's going to back up Naruto once the Akatsuki resume their plan."
As the sky darkened, Naruto and Hinata lay on a rug at the top of the Hokage Monument, Kurama acting as their backrest as they watched the stars slowly appear.
"Chunin." Hinata repeated, her voice filled with wonder. "I made chunin before Neji."
"You deserved it." Naruto agreed. "You realize that this opens up all the solo messenger missions for you… well, the ones the Guard, Kakashi and myself haven't claimed, anyway."
"The Hiraishin does change things." Hinata agreed. "I wonder… could it be used in doorways? Say, one door at home, the other in the Hyuuga compound so I could go see Hanabi whenever I wanted, or she could come and visit us?"
"I… don't know." Naruto mused. "Something like that… a form of stable Hiraishin… connecting places… when I visit Mount Myoboku for my lessons, I'll ask Gama-Dono. He's better at fuuinjutsu than anyone I've ever encountered, so if there is a way, he'll know it."
"He taught father." Kurama supplied. "Father wouldn't have been able to seal his mother away in the moon if not for Gamamaru's lessons."
"Kurama," Hinata said after a long silence, "Is there any chance that you could tell us that tale?"
"Sure." Kurama said with a slight twitch of his shoulders. "But not just you. Tomorrow, I'll tell you both, your Hokage, anyone she deems important enough to listen to the story and, if she wants, Hanabi."
"Hanabi?" Hinata asked curiously and Kurama dropped his head so his jaw was barely above the ground.
"She's the only one who grooms me better than you can." He muttered, causing Hinata to giggle.
"Changing the subject," Naruto declared, "What do you want as your first proper Chunin mission?"
"Messgae relay to a beach." Hinata promptly declared, blushing slightly.
"Message relay… to a… beach?" Naruto repeated curiously and Hinata nodded. "Why?"
"You could join me and we could watch the waves together." Hinata explained as she wriggled slightly to snuggle against Naruto's side. "Maybe go swimming…"
"That would be nice." Naruto admitted.
"We could even build a sand castle." Hinata added. "Or simply enjoy our…"
"FLAMES OF YOOOOOOUTH!"
Both young teens jolted at the cry that echoed across the village, then Naruto started chuckling.
"Dammit, Gai." He laughed. "Way to kill the moment."
"I wonder if it counts as an assassination mission." Hinata wondered, causing Naruto to laugh harder.
Danzo sat in the living room of his home, having been forced out of his normal office.
ROOT, the organization that he'd built from the leavings of ANBU and shaped to be Konoha's blade was no longer his to control. Oh, he could trust Homara and Koharu to use his weapon to aid Konoha's growth, but they wouldn't follow his plan his scheme to topple the other villages and place Konoha at the apex, ruling over the entirety of the Elemental nations.
Danzo rubbed at the bandages over his transplanted eye, the one he had stolen from Shisui before his death. The technique he had used to persuade Itachi that killing the Uchiha had been the only way had still not recharged, or he would have used it on Tsunade to ensure that he retained control of his private army.
Danzo leaned back, his brow furrowed.
He was not yet out of the great game and so long as he still had his contacts, he could still attain his goal.
He only needed to consider the possibilities…
The condemned prisoner screamed in agony as the ash cloud condensed onto him, engulfing him and reshaping until the prisoner's form was replaced with a new one, a black-haired man clad in red armor. Behind the man, a translucent demonic head opened its mouth and exhaled a stream of gas that flowed into the standing figure. A moment passed, then the man opened his eyes to reveal purple ripples.
"Magnificent." Orochimaru purred. "A perfect fusion of the Samsara of Heavenly Life and the Edo Tensei Impure World Resurrection, bringing one of the greatest Shinobi ever back to life."
"And it was your work that made it possible." Pein confirmed as he stepped past the Snake Sannin before bowing to the new arrival. "Greetings, Madara. Welcome back."
Madara looked round, then down at himself, his eyes shifting between the rippled rin'negan and the tri-barred red of his eternal mangekyo.
"Incredible." He breathed. "I am as strong as I was in my prime… if not stronger!"
Beside him, a spiky plant emerged from the ground, then the top split open to reveal the bi-colored form of Zetsu.
"Welcome back, Madara. The plan has hit a delay, but now you are here, things can be sorted out."
Madara's gaze snapped to the inhuman figure.
"The Sanbi has been dispersed. It will be three years or so before it reforms."
"I see." Madara mused. "Three years… What are our resources?"
"All of Amegakure and Otogakure." Pein said, catching Madara's attention. "Welcome to the Akatsuki, Madara. Together, we shall bring a new age of peace to the world."
"Well, that's another day over with." Naruto sighed as he appeared in the middle of his living room, then he paused at an odd noise outside. Moving quietly, he crept to the door, motioning for the clones who had paused in their chores to keep working in order to avoid alerting whoever (or whatever) was outside.
Drawing a kunai, he flung the door open even as he used the hiraishin to teleport to the tag he'd placed at the point where the path from his house entered the woods, dropping into a defensive stance as he checked the front of his house for whatever had made the noise. A moment later, his gaze settled on a piece of cord attached between the front door and the window, a cord which had a piece of wood suspended from it, as well as a paper fan that caught the breeze and caused the wood to bump against the wall.
"Odd." He mused. "That's obviously meant as a distraction, but for what?"
Returning the kunai to his pouch, he stepped forwards and had just enough time to curse.
"Yes!" Ino celebrated as she looked through the telescope. "At last! I got him! It cost me a hundred and eight lemons and a box of paperclips, but I finally got him!"
Naruto sighed as he looked down at the tattered remains of his uniform, then he looked round at the line of trees. Although he couldn't see her, he just knew that Ino was watching, so he tossed off a quick salute before teleporting back to his living room.
While he could admire Ino's ability to finally get him in that trap, he would have revenge.
Sasuke sneezed and looked round to see if it was someone nearby who was talking about him.
When he didn't see anyone, he returned to his previous task of watching for the one man who could truly explain the events of That Night and who could identify the true person he needed to exact vengeance upon, the man who Tsunade had ordered brought before her once he arrived, then a voice full of regret and sadness spoke from behind him.
"Hello, little brother."
"Hello… big brother."
Author's afternote - My muse abandoned me around chapter 54 and thus made the last couple of chapters almost impossible to write, but I feel that I've finally reached an acceptable cut-off point for this story since it's around the time-skip anyway. I have left several sequel hooks in it in case I manage to develop my skills enough to deal with the stupidly large number of characters in Shippuden and thus decide to continue, but it looks unlikely.
As with most of my other stories, if anyone wishes to continue this, then it is up for adoption. PM me and I'll put a link on my profile once the first chapter is posted.
And yep, Ino finally got her own back on Naruto for the trap with the three lemons and paperclip.