Hey! It's me! I'm not dead!
Wow! It's been more than a year! Damn!
For those of you who don't know, I've been writing other Naruto stories, mostly romance and/or real world AU. Check them out! They are: "White Lies", "Mending Hearts" and the one-shot "Sleep with me" you can find them in my profile.
They helped me unclog my writer's block so I could bring you this (It has nothing to do that I finally finished Fallout 4… not at all)
Anyway, I updated the previous chapter's ending to better fit with where I'm taking this story arc.
I also spent sometime proofreading all previous chapters so if you don't know what the frak is going on, now is a good time to give it a re-read.
After Naruto had calmed down he went and sat beside his sister. He warped his fingers around her hand and focused on the rise and fall of her chest.
The way his eyes looked, his mouth curled down, and his shoulder slumped. Jiraiya recognized it.
"Oh— Jiraiya-sama, you're still here… and— him" Hideki looked at Naruto down his nose with distaste in his eyes. He had left the room for a few minutes before returning with some scrolls in his hands. Naruto seemed unaware someone had entered the room, his dull eyes fixed on his sister.
"Yes, I'm still here," Said Jiraiya through gritted teeth, he clenched his fists as he tried to suppress his anger "There is nothing you can do for her? Aren't you the best medic-nin in Konoha right now?" Jiraiya's attempt at keeping the sarcasm out of his voice failed miserably
"Is not that simple Jiraiya-sama," Hideki gave Jiraiya a mocking smirk, Jiraiya narrowed his eyes "the girl has severe internal bleeding, her left kidney, and part of her left lung are missing, her chakra is depleted and it is not recovering, to be honest, I'm surprised she hasn't died already—" the tone he used was one that didn't sit well with Jiraiya.
"Hideki," Said Jiraiya with a dangerous tone making the man wince "let's talk outside" Jiraiya gave Naruto a side glance, and let out a sigh of relief when he realized he was completely focused on his sister.
Jiraiya walked with Hideki outside and closed the door behind him. He spun on the spot and released all the killing intent he had been accumulating.
"Listen to me you piece of shit!" Hideki's eyes went wide with shock, and then fear when Jiraiya grabbed him from the neck and lifted him, his feet two feet from the floor "that brat has gone through so much and you fucking know it! And even though I don't know much about their relationship I'm sure the girl is important to him— you disrespected her in front of him or you don't do your damned best to save her and will kill you" Hideki was struggling against Jiraiya's grip, clawing at his fingers while his face turned purple, when Jiraiya released him he fell into his knees and palms coughing and gasping for air, Jiraiya stared at him and waited patiently as he shakily stood up using the wall as support, he gasped for air again and turned to glare at Jiraiya his eyes wild with fury.
And he shrunk back into himself when Jiraiya glared back.
"I'm glad we understand each other," said Jiraiya in a tone one would use to talk about the weather "now you are going to tell me how to save her," the calm tone Jiraiya used contrasted with the harsh one before. Hideki, still leaning on the wall with his legs shaking glared feebly at Jiraiya
"I- I don't know… maybe…" he rubbed his reddening neck "maybe Tsunade could do it… she— she knows so much better than me…" Hideki made a face as if saying these words physically hurt him
Jiraiya sighed internally, he didn't really want to see Tsunade, he knew she was a mess, even more than himself, but if it meant saving Minato's daughter.
"And why do you think Tsunade can save her?"
"Back in—" Hideki coughed and rubbed his neck "Back in the war, she saved a chunin's life, his injuries were similar to the girl, if there is anyone in Fire Country who could save her, it's Tsunade"
As expected, Hideki still respect Tsunade's skills
"Right," said Jiraiya, there was no other way then? "I need to speak to the Hokage" Jiraiya turned and started walking, then as if he had remembered something he stopped and looked back at Hideki "Remember what I said, Hideki-kun, I was dead serious," and then he walked away leaving a stunned Hideki behind.
When Jiraiya entered the Hokage's tower and explained the situation to Sensei, the old mand took a long time to answer.
"Do you really need him with you?" Sensei was sitting on his chair at the Hokage's office, and he was looking dubiously at Jiraiya. The pipe barely hanging from his lips.
Probably not, he could convince Tsunade by other means, but he knew that Naruto was very similar to Nawaki. That could help. but seeing how his eyes looked, Jiraiya wanted him to have a hand in saving his sister, it would be important for him, Jiraiya knew it.
"Yes" responded Jiraiya simply, Sensei looked at him expectantly, But Jiraiya didn't really want to explain his reasoning, it was such a pain in the ass.
The silence continued for almost a minute, Sensei pinched the bridge of his nose before letting a loud and deep sigh.
"I need a valid reason, I can't just let Naruto leave the village just like that." Jiraiya rubbed his nose with his thumb and looked away from Sensei, alright.
"Naruto resembles Nawaki," Jiraiya said, Sensei nodded and pulled at his beard. he took a long drag of his pipe before placing it on the ashtray. For a moment all the lines on his face seemed to become more pronouced. Jiraiya realized that Sensei was really old and that he should be enjoying his reteirment
"Do you plan to use Tsunade's feelings for her late little brother?" Seinsei voice's was neutral but Jiraiya could hear a hint of acusation, Sensei arched a questioning eyebrow at Jiraiya. "that's sneaky, not to mention dangerous"
"I'm a ninja, after all, Sensei" they locked eyes, for an instant he could see the worry on Sensei's face
"And do you think that will help you bring her back?" Jiraiya just shrugged
"Knowing Tsunade anything is possible, at least it won't hurt having him there" Jiraiya rubbed his chin "I'll keep him safe and maybe teach him a trick or two" the Hokage took another drag from his pipe before standing up and walking to the large window on the side of his office. He stared at his beloved Konoha for a few seconds.
"This is going to generate all kinds of problems," he sighed. Jiraiya knew that, thanks to Naruto's status as a Juinchiriki, Sensei needed to report whenever Naruto left the village to his advisors, this included Danzo. "Alright, you can take Naruto on this mission," the Hokage stood up and walked towards the large window "what was your impression of Haru?"
"There are two options, she is a genius, the kind only born several generations, or she is some kind of spy" the Hokage kept silent for a moment so Jiraiya continued, "personally I think she can't be a spy, considering the way she acted in our little trip, she cared too much for Haku"
"She could be a sleeper"
"And what about this jutsu she used to travel?"
"It has a ridiculous potential," Jiraiya said, "she took us from the east sea to Naruto's apartment in the blink of an eye, I don't know what kind of limitation it has, but it seems even more powerful than Hiraishin, although its disorienting effects can be a liability in battle" Sensei nodded his eyes closed, Jiraiya knew that the man was thinking things through.
"We'll need to consult Inochi and Kakashi when she recovers"
"And about this boy, Haku…"
"He seemed to be some kind of salve— I don't want to think what has the boy gone through but Haru offered to let him live with her and Naruto" the Hokage grunted again looking at Konoha, he pulled at his bread. "We can't return him to Water Country, he saw me kill these Jakal Syndicate grunts, sooner or later the information about Haru would fall on Orochimaru's hands"
"I understand, For the duration of your mission and until Haru recovers he can stay at the orphanage, I'll ask the matron to keep an eye on him" the Hokage finally turned to Jiraiya, then he closed his eyes taking a long drag of his pipe, slowly blowing out the smoke.
"Jiraiya," Jiraiya stood straighter than before knowing an order from the Hokage was coming, an order from his Sensei.
"Bring Tsunade back"
As she walked into Haru's hospital room Hinata became concerned. Since the news that his sister had suffered an accident Naruto had been acting strange, or maybe not, Hinata thought she would react the same if her little sister was hurt as gravely as Haru.
It was weird to see Naruto-kun so still and quiet, she liked the Naruto-kun that was cheerful and loud even if other people thought of him as annoying. The fact that Naruto always was smiling was something that gave her strength, seeing him fail and getting up again gave her hope.
But now this grief-stricken Naruto-kun, she didn't know how to feel about, she wanted to do something to cheer him up, but she wasn't sure what could she do.
It was strange, a month ago she would have never dreamed of talking to him, but now they ate their lunch, walked back home and spent a lot of time together.
It was like a dream come true.
But then, what could she do? how could she make Naruto smile again? She tried to search her memories but nothing came. Her family was extremely taciturn and… some would say cold, but Hinata knew there was something— something in the back of her mind, she tried to remember…
It had happened the night after Uncle Hizashi had been sent to Cloud. A few days after her attempted kidnapping. Hinata had been five years old. She had woken up in the middle of the night with her mouth dry after having a nightmare. Just as she walked to the main kitchen for a glass of water she heard a strange sound as if someone was sobbing.
She peeked through the small gap of the sliding door that led to the second tea room, her father was sitting on the wooden floor, his knees close to his chest and his back to the wall, he was gripping a sake bottle with his right hand while his left forearm covered his eyes.
Despite that, she could see the tears streaking down his face
To say that Hinata was shocked would be an understatement. Hinata had never seen her father cry or even look sad, he had always been the perfect head of the clan, the perfect Hyuga. But now he looked like a broken doll on the side of the road.
Then Mother entered the room. Father didn't move from his place. Mother didn't say anything she just walked gracefully towards Father and removed the bottle from his hand and put it aside before sitting beside him. At first, she didn't do anything, she just had her shoulder brushing his, but then, slowly, she grabbed his hand and gave it a gentle squeeze.
And then her father broke.
He started sobbing as mother hugged him, her hand brushing his hair as his face buried in her chest. Mother started to whisper to Father's ear as she put his hand on her swollen belly. Over time, and little by little father stopped crying and his breathing slowed.
And just like that his normal demeanor returned.
Hinata wondered if she could do something like that for Naruto-kun. Her face started to burn as she imagined herself so close to him, she shook her head, now was not the time to feel embarrassed, Naruto-kun needed her.
She walked towards Naruto-kun and sat beside him pressing her shoulder to his. He turned to her with a questioning look and Hinata wanted nothing more than bolt out then and there. Yet she stood her ground even though her whole body was shaking.
Hinata looked at her lap, then at Naruto's where his hand was resting, she moved her own trembling hand and lightly set it above his. Naruto-kun seemed confused but Hinata was glad he hadn't pulled his hand away.
Hinata's heart was beating so fast that it felt as if it was going to jump out of her chest at any moment, she smiled when she looked at Naruto's confused expression.
"It's—" her voice came out choked and almost inaudible "It's going to be alright Naruto-kun,"
Naruto's expression changed so fast in the span of a few seconds, first, he looked angry, then shocked, then confused and finally her face settled on sad.
"I can't do anything…" He whispered, Hinata held her breath, the tone Naruto-kun used was so desperate and full of misery that she wasn't sure what to say "I'm useless! I'm a failure!" Naruto raised his voice and his eyes started to shine
"Naruto-kun… you— you are strong," Hinata knew it was lame, but she didn't really know what else to say, for Hinata, Naruto-kun was the strongest person she knew.
Naruto-kun stiffened, his face froze, he looked down, his face sad and his normal smile nowhere to be seen.
"I may appear strong to you… but It's just an act— I'm afraid Hinata, I'm afraid of losing Haru-neechan, I'm afraid of being alone like before—" his tears started to flow, then before she could stop herself she warped her arms around Naruto-kun and hugged him tightly.
Naruto went still and rigid as his body tensed, Hinata's chest ached.
"It's alright, Naruto-kun, everyone is afraid, it doesn't mean you are weak…" Hinata ran a hand through his hair and was surprised that it was so smooth "… it means you care…" she whispered as she heard the beating of his heart
"In my eyes you are strong…" Hinata said and Naruto-kun hugged her tighter "Because even though you fail you get up again… for me that's what true strength is" they stayed like that embracing each other for a long time until she heard the door open, she fought the urge to jump away from Naruto-kun, she didn't want him to take it the wrong way, she slowly released him and turned to the door to find Jiraiya-sama looking at them with a grin on his face before sobering up.
"Hey, brat! come with me we need to talk about something…" Naruto looked at Haru, his eyes full of worry but nodded to himself and followed Jiraiya out of the room.
Just as he was crossing the door, the turned to Hinata and gave her a large genuine smile
"Thanks, Hinata!" he turned and followed Jiraiya-sama out of the room leaving a bewildered Hinata behind.
Then she realized what she had just done.
She had hugged Naruto-kun. She had been so close to him that she could still smell the faint aroma of ramen. She had touched his smooth hair and ran her hand through it.
Her face became so hot it felt as she had just caught fire. She covered her face with her hands. Her cold hands became warm in an instant.
Hinata started shaking her head. The only reason she wasn't screaming was that she was aware that she was still in the Hospital.
"What did I just do?" she whispered to herself.
ANBU Cat along with his squad had been given the task of cleaning the Jinchuriki's apartment by Hokage-sama. It was a simple task that could probably have been done by a genin team, but Hokage-sama wanted to keep what had happened there under wraps. Whatever it was.
So while Bear and Bird were cleaning the blood from the tatami Cat busied himself tidying up the scattered books strewn around the small apartment. They spent around an hour doing this before Cat noticed a notebook with unknown letters written on it. He held it for a second before glancing at his teammates. They were distracted with their task. He turned his body so his back was towards them and in a swift motion slipped the notebook into his flak jacket
"I'm finished here," he said as he turned to look at his squad mates, they looked up from their work and nodded
"I don't understand why Hokage-sama sent us" Bird said "This is genin's works" he sounded exasperated
"I'm sure Hokage-sama has his reasons, It's our job to carry his orders," Said Bear "Cat, wanna go to the bar after we finish this? I really need a drink" Bear was finishing moping the floor as she said that
"No, I have something important to do," said Cat in his usual deadpan tone.
"Huh? Does our little Cat got himself a girlfriend?" Cat rolled his eyes behind his mask before responding
"Of course not" He smiled to himself as he felt the notebook secure on his flak jacket.
"Are you out of you out of your mind Hiruzen!?" Danzo smashed his palm on the Hokage's desk, Hiruzen didn't even flinch, Danzo had always been so predictable. Ever since they were young Danzo had a problem controlling his temper in front of him. Despite that, he valued his advice highly. "are you going to let it get out of the village just like that?"
Hiruzen pinched the bridge of his nose as he mustered his patience. "That's right, I think it will be an important experience for him" Hiruzen empathized the pronoun, Danzo just stared at him unimpressed "his escort has offered to teach him a trick or two" Danzo scoffed
"Jiraya." he said in a despective tone "Hiruzen, you are making a mistake, we are risking Konoha's tailed beast for some random girl?" Hiruzen knew that Danzo probably knew who Haru was, he wasn't as senile to think that his old friend didn't have some ANBU still loyal to him. Why he was acting as he didn't know was a mystery for Hiruzen.
"Danzo, I know you know about Haru, so drop it" anyone else wouldn't be able to see the small change in Danzo's expression. Hiruzen knew him since they were kids. "I'm not asking for your permission, I don't need to, if you remember. I am the Hokage," he raised a hand to forestall Danzo protest "You are my advisor, and I value your advice but this time I disagree with it. So drop it." The last words were said with finality, not leaving space for any kind of retort.
Danzo stared at Hiruzen for a few seconds before bowing his head
"As you wish Hokage-sama" then as he looked up at Hiruzen "I hope you don't regret this" then he turned and left the office. He slammed the door shut.
"I hope so too" he dragged on his pipe and let out the smoke as slowly as possible.
As always, he was anxious, every time he had to face his benefactor his body tensed and something heavy sat in his stomach. It wasn't like the man was cruel just for the sake of cruelty, but he could be so cold-hearted and utilitarian that it was always hard to predict how the man would react.
He had been saved –using the term 'saved' loosely— by him, when he was five years old the Nine-tailed-fox attacked the village, his parents and his younger sister died during the attack, some said It had been a miracle that he had survived at all.
It hadn't been a miracle at all.
He still remembered being smothered by the broken body of his mother, she tried to protect him from the falling ceiling of their home. He remembered the blood coming from her mouth as she used her chakra to stop the concrete slab from crushing him, he remembered the smile on her face as she whispered reassuring words.
After being rescued by ANBU his memories became a hazy blur, at the time nobody knew what to do with him, and then, before he realized it he was under the care of that man. there were other kids from his generation that had become orphans like himself, some of them ended up like him.
He owed that man his life, he trained him to become strong and he would repay everything he did for him and more.
That was the reason he was kneeling in front of him, his head hanging low and his face covered with his ROOT cat mask.
"Danzo-sama," he said
"Raise your head" He did as ordered and looked at Danzo, the man's Harsh eyes sent a shiver through his spine and he wondered if he had made a blunder. "I have a problem. Hokage-sama wishes to risk an important asset to our village for the life of the Uzumaki girl" the cold eyes of Danzo became even more gelid. "I remember giving you the task to keep an eye on the girl" Danzo remained silent for a few seconds
"Tell me what you know about the girl, Could there be another reason for Hiruzen to want to save her?" then he scoffed "besides she being the daughter of the fouth I mean."
Cat let out a sigh
"And remove your mask I want to see your face"
Cat stiffened for a second before controlling his own emotions. He slowly removed his mask revealing his face. Blond hair, sharp blue eyes framed by a handsome face. Danzo nodded.
"so, Tenma, what can you tell me?"
"Yes Danzo-sama," Tenma took a deep breath "Haruko Uzumaki seems to be somewhat a peculiar character, from what I can gather she already has some skills of a jonin while lacking some other are bellow even a genin" Danzo made a gesture with his hand indicating that he should explain himself.
"She is apparently using Hiraishin or something similar, yet when I saw her practicing Taijutsu her skills where bellow the Jinchuriki" Danzo frowned and Tenma couldn't stop but shiver "despite that she seems to have caught the eye of Jiraiya of the Sanin" Danzo lips tightened at the mention of Jiraiya, Tenma knew Danzo-sama detested the man.
"How?" Danzo askes
"I'm not sure" he lowered his head but added quickly "it seems there was an accident on their apartment while practicing a forbidden jutsu, for some reason Hokage-sama tasked my ANBU unit with the cleanup" Danzo closed his eyes as he scrathed the scar on his chin.
"There is something more" it wasn't a question, Tenma slid his hand into his flak jacket and retrieved the notebook. He handed it to Danzo-sama.
Tenma has been a shinobi under Danzo for almost all of his life, this was the first time he had seen the man shocked. What passed for shocked for Danzo would be a deadpan expression for anyone else. But Tenma could see it. The minuscule change in his facial muscles was he tried not to widen his eyes. And how hard his jaw's muscles were as he tried not to open his mouth.
Danzo put the notebook aside. Carefully. And then retrieved and empty scroll from his desk and started writing on it.
It took him more than an hour to finish writing. He rolled up the scroll and sealed it with a simple jutsu. He stood up and handed the scroll to Tenma
"Put on your mask, you have a mission" Tenma did as ordered and then accepted the scroll
Cat left the room to find a place where he could read his new orders in private
The more Naruto talked with this Jiraiya fellow the more he realized the man was a total pervert. If he wasn't ogling at the legs of Kunochi at least half his age, he was getting distracted by the porn magazines displayed on some stores.
Naruto didn't know if he should take this man seriously, but old-man Hokage had said that he was one of the strongest ninjas in the village if not all of the elemental nations.
"So that's how is it" he said as they turned a corner into what Naruto knew was Konoha's red light district "What do you think"
A few months ago he would have been thrilled to be allowed to enter this district, now…
"I don't think Haru-nee would like me to be here," he said
"Don't be dumb!" he said as he ruffled his hair, Naruto was surprised that he didn't get angry at the familiar gesture, just who was this man? "I'm talking about coming to the trip!" now they were walking away from the district and into a training ground that he had never visited before.
Jiraiya walked towards a trio of logs and leaned on one as he looked at Naruto. "I can show you a trick or two" then his face became serious "and we can get the person that can save your sister's life"
"Yes I'll go" the words came out rushed, Naruto didn't even think for a second to refuse. Jiraiya grinned at Naruto before walking to him and crouching in front of him so their eyes were level.
"Now strip your shirt off" Naruto reaction was quick as it was understandable. He took several steps back and looked for an escape route
"I knew You were a pervy-sage! But I didn't know you'd swing that way!"
"Shut up brat! I only like voluptuous women, not ugly scrawny kids like you!" he let out a sigh "I need to check— huh —your chakra pathways, so shutup and lift your shirt" there was more command in that last sentence than Naruto had ever heard in his life
"Yeah, yeah, Ok! but if you do something weird I'm telling Haru-nee once she wakes up" then he grinned "She'll kick your ass"
Jiraiya grinned back at Naruto "What? Wont you tell your girlfriend too?"
Naruto frowned for a moment "Girlfriend? I don't—"
"Yes, the tiny Hyuga you were making out with." Naruto face went beet red, Jiraiya grin became almost feral "I can't believe it, in the hospital! In the same room where your unconscious sister is" Jiraiya shook his head "kids these days have no respect"
"Shu-Shut up Hinata is not my girlfriend!" Naruto was breathing heavy, his ears red with either anger of embarrassment. More likely a healthy mix of both "She is my friend! My friend!"
"Then why were you making out—" Naruto's shirt hit Jiraiya right in the face
"WE. WERE. NOT. MAKING OUT." Naruto took a deep breath to calm himself "Hinata was… I don't know…" Jiraiya gave Naruto a sad smile before he spoke
"Hinata? You mean she is the clan heir of the Hyuga?" Naruto mentally stopped in his tracks,
"Yeah, why?" Jiraiya feral grin was back
"Good catch kid, marrying into money is a good option if you don't make it as a ninja" Naruto huffed and crossed his arms
"Shut up and hurry up old man, It is cold in here" for some reason, Jiraiya nodded with approval as if he had just passed a test
"Right, gather some chakra, just gather it, don't do anything with it." Naruto shrugged and made a ram seal as he pooled his chakra as he was shown in the first few weeks of the academy so many years ago
Jiraiya stared at his stomach and started murmuring something under his breath, Naruto could only catch a few stray words.
"mmm, seal … broken … It seems … it will be easier … Mi—to was a genius" he stood up "ok you can stop" then he crossed his arms for a moment and closed his eyes. For a minute he stood like that and then he dropped on the floor his legs crossed and retrieved a paintbrush, ink and empty scrolls and started writing.
Another minute went by before he finished writing. He rolled the scroll and gave it to Naruto
"As you've never been on a mission I thought it would be a good idea to get you some basic tools and gear" he gave Naruto an appraising look before looking towards Konoha's trading district. "you go to the shop's name next to the items and show them the scroll" he grinned "be sure to show them the stamp at the end— if they give you problems show them this" he retrieved something shiny from his pocket and gave it to Naruto
It was a silver coin with the Kanji for oil next to a small Konoha's symbol
"If they give you any trouble, then, show them this, but I'm sure you won't need that" he grinned at Naruto and ruffled his hair, Naruto swatted his hand playfully.
"I need to do some research, meet me tomorrow at the west entrance with everything in that list" with that he disappeared in a gust of leaves.
Naruto scratched his head as he looked at where Jiraiya had been just a few seconds ago
"Research, yeah right!" He walked towards the trading district to buy the gear on the scroll.
It was a long scroll.
Once Cat finally left the room, Danzo opened a drawer on his desk and retrieved an unusual looking book. It was a red leather covered tome. Five golden words in an unrecognizable language, the title probably, was at the top of the cover. A star in each corner. A rectangle more than half the height and width of the cover at his center. It was full of strange looking circular glyphs, more stars and another word. And just below it the only thing familiar. The number five.
Danzo opened the notebook Cat had procured from the Uzumaki's house and compared the scrip with the old book.
That's for today boys and girls. I hope you enjoyed it. I'll try to get another chapter asap but I won't make any promises. Btw Witcher 3 is a really good game.
Now, The Challenge: A chocolate cookie to the first who guesses which book Danzo has, It's pretty easy, to be honest.