Disclaimer – I do not own Naruto!
"If it weren't for me being named Hokage and the relationships that he has with the other Kage, you would have been locked up for a long time. Regardless, I expect you to behave out there." The words held an underlying threat, and it wasn't because he was sure of his own skills against his wayward student. No, there was only one person who could stop her if it came down to it.
"Yeah. Thanks, Kakashi."
Kakashi sighed at the lack of respect she continued to show him. Ever since she was young she never addressed him as "Sensei" or as a superior. He felt a gentle pat on his back and lazily inclined his head towards his more respectful student.
"She'll be alright, Hokage-sama." Sakura paused to giggle at Kakashi's deadpan stare. "Understood, Sasuke-chan?" Her giggles only continued when she noticed the subtle twitch of her teammates eyebrow. She hated the attached suffix to her name but didn't speak up.
"I hope so." Kakashi looked the girl over quickly. Her traveling cloak practically concealed her whole form and her dark bangs covered an eye that held unfathomable power. Her face hardly revealed any emotions, although it was a far better look for her than borderline insanity or despair that Kakashi had seen on it in the past.
"I'm leaving..." Sasuke turned her head to stare at the forested area outside of the village. Sakura hummed to herself before stepping forward with her hands clasped behind her back.
"You suck at goodbyes. You always did." Tsunade's student admonished her with a big smile. "You're not even going to wait for..."
Sakura giggled again.
Uchiha Sasuke hated giggling, especially Sakura's. She narrowed her uncovered obsidian eye at her amused teammate. Ever since they were young, the girl looked up to her to an obsessive degree. However, that changed after certain circumstances and now Sakura made it her personal mission to mess with the Uchiha. Sakura stopped her laughter as she put on a serious face.
"What about..." She motioned to the left side of Sasuke's body and frowned.
"I don't want it." Her tone was clipped. Sakura was reminded once more of Sasuke's unique voice. It wasn't very girly, but it certainly wasn't manly.
"The operation doesn't take much time! He's getting used to it so quickly too." Sakura attempted to persuade her.
"That's not why I don't want the arm." She didn't want to explain her reasoning to Sakura at the moment.
"Is here!" A figure dropped down in between the three shinobi loudly. He rose from his crouched position, and aimed a bright pearly white grin at everyone. Blue eyes sparkled happily as he saw his team. His family.
"Gotta admit, not your best entrance." Kakashi smiled under his mask at Naruto's deflated look.
"I didn't have much time to prepare, Kakashi-sensei." Naruto scratched at his newly shortened spiky hair.
"Jiraiya-sama was a master of entrances, you better work on it." Kakashi reminded him of his deceased teacher's eccentric personality.
"You're right! I hate to admit it, but he had some good entrances. Even if he always announced he was a pervert. Seriously, wouldn't you want to keep that a secret?"
"It was a power move."
"It was dumb."
"No, no, no. See what he was doing was..."
Sakura squinted her eyes in annoyance at the conversation going down between the Hokage and her best friend. As she marched over to Naruto, she had to reach up to grab his dark long sleeved shirt. She admired his new appearance for a moment and his growth spurt did wonders for him.
"You both can argue about 'power moves' later. Sasuke is attempting to leave with such a crappy goodbye." Sakura watched Naruto blink at her for a moment before his face turned comically angry.
"She sucks at goodbyes!"
Due to his entrance and commotion, nobody noticed the Uchiha sneaking away. Sasuke's footsteps became hurried as she heard Naruto's loud voice. 'Just a little farther and I can use my Rinnegan.' Beneath her long bangs, the purple tomoe filled eye widened.
"What kinda teammate are you?!" Sasuke froze when two strong arms wrapped around her torso tightly. Two arms. Her eyes glanced down and saw the white bandage attached to Naruto's right arm. The arm she took from him. She tried to squash down her feelings of regret before stating her demand.
"Release me." Her Sharingan spun into existence. "Now." Her captor became quiet before letting out a loud laugh.
"Nope!" With one word, Naruto lifted her and held her close to him before walking back over to his team. Sasuke tried struggling in his grip but something stopped her. It wasn't his psychical strength. No, it was something else.
The reason she didn't want to see him before leaving.
"Uchiha retrieval mission is a success, again..." Naruto gave a mock report as he presented Sasuke to the pair of shinobi.
"Good job, Genin Uzumaki." Kakashi shot him a cheeky thumbs up and Naruto pouted. Sasuke smirked at the reminder. "Genin Uchiha has been brought back safely."
"Imagine being a Genin." Sakura couldn't help herself as she teased the pair. She missed this. She missed her team being complete. Even if one was leaving again. At least she had Naruto.
Now it was Sakura's turn to pout as Sasuke insulted her. That specific word always affected Sakura.
"Alright, enough joking around." Kakashi stepped up to them. "Naruto, we were saying our goodbyes to Sasuke for the time being." The former Sharingan bearer observed how Naruto released the girl but she remained close to him.
"That's exactly why I'm here..." Naruto paused for dramatic effect, and Sasuke stared up at him with feigned disinterest. "I'm going with her!" That stunned the entire group, even Kakashi.
"Excuse me? Who gave you clearance for that?" Kakashi knew it wasn't him.
"Well, since I'm studying political discourse and relations between the villages, one grumpy old lady told me the best way to learn is to see other Kage in action as well." Naruto explained with a carefree grin. He mentally patted himself on the back for the use of the word 'discourse'.
"Tsunade..." Kakashi should have expected this. She may care for the village once more due to Naruto, but she enjoyed wandering around in her free time. Actually, she had too much free time in the past.
"You got it!" Naruto threw an arm around Sasuke's shoulder. The shorter girl tensed and pushed his arm away.
"This is my own journey, Naruto. You have nothing to do with my sins, so don't get involved and stay away." That was the most anyone's heard her speak all day and Naruto narrowed his gaze at her.
"There you go again with all this talk about doing things on your own!"
"That's because this is for me!" She finally rose her voice.
"Oh yeah? You're just going to walk around with no goal?"
"I'm going to atone for my sins."
"Where exactly? You think every village is going to welcome you with open arms and hugs?" Naruto questioned her. Sasuke grit her teeth and glared at him.
"Sasuke. If I'm with you, we can travel around and visit everyone. You can help people." He tried to reason with her.
"I never said I was going to help people."
"How else will you 'atone for your sins'?"
"I'm shocked you even know what that word means, idiot."
Kakashi watched and compared them to a very dysfunctional couple arguing. 'There's definitely some sexual tension here.' He thought to himself.
"Break it up you two! Seriously, people are staring!" Sakura got between the two and placed her hands on their chests to push them back. Onlookers stared at the odd scene taking place at the entrance to the village.
"Remove your hand from my chest."
Sakura pulled her hand away from Sasuke at the speed of the Yellow Flash.
"You can keep your hand on mine, Sakura-chan." Naruto told the pink haired medic he once had a crush on.
"Remove your hand from the idiot." Sasuke demanded once again.
"Jealous?" Naruto questioned her with a small smirk.
"No. I need a spot to run my Chidori through."
"Okay my little shinobi, I'll sort this out right now." Kakashi intervened for what was hopefully the final time. 'They are extremely dysfunctional...'
"You already told me I can leave the village, Kakashi. Alone." Sasuke was obviously annoyed.
"Yes, I did. I understand that you're doing this to better yourself and to take care of any outside threats. Naruto is right though, the other villages aren't going to be keen on letting you enter due to your past actions. His presence would change that. I don't imagine roaming the Elemental Nations aimlessly will really help you change anything in the end." Finished with Sasuke, Kakashi turned to the blond whiskered shinobi. "Naruto, Tsunade may have given you this idea, but you should've come to me first. You are by far the strongest shinobi in the village and not having you here is a risk."
"The war is over though, Kakashi-sensei. There isn't any more conflict." Naruto, ever the optimist, responded.
"I know you're not that naive Naruto, and that's only true for now. Conflict can always rise up again. This time of peace and you gaining experience are the only reasons I'll allow this. Not to mention, you'll both be leaving Sakura behind."
"Sakura-chan can come with us too." Naruto told him immediately.
Sasuke's hand clenched under her cloak. She did not want that.
"She is the new head of the hospital, she can't leave because of her duties." Kakashi shot that down quickly. Sakura nodded sadly in agreement.
"I took over for Tsunade-sama and Shizune-san, I can't leave..." The poor girl did want to spend more time with her teammates though. Her eyes widened when Naruto's arms wrapped around her and pulled her close.
"Sakura-chan, I can sneak you out of the village if you really wanna come." Naruto whispered in her ear with a chuckle. Sakura hit him playfully on the chest before rolling her eyes. He was such a moron, but she loved him for it.
"It's alright, dummy. It does bother me that you're both leaving after our team finally reunited, but at least you'll be with her. To keep her under control, you know?" She pulled back from the hug and placed herself next to Kakashi.
"I heard that. I don't need to be under your control, Naruto." Sasuke snidely remarked.
"She didn't mean it like that."
"How did she mean it? Since you know Sakura so well..."
"Huh? What's that supposed to mean?"
"Okay! You're both leaving now! Have a nice trip!" Kakashi roughly pushed the two towards the large village gates before they could start another verbal fight.
"I still don't want him to come with me. This is my journey." Sasuke tried arguing with the Hokage.
"Hmm. Hold on to that thought for just a second." Kakashi successfully pushed them outside of the village gates as they turned to him. To their surprise, the Kakashi that was pushing them exploded into smoke. Naruto instantly recognized the technique.
"A Kage Bunshin?" Naruto wondered aloud.
"Be safe my cute little students! Use protection! We love you!" Kakashi yelled as he and Sakura waved. The mighty gates of Konohagakure shut with a loud slam.
Naruto stared with disbelief at the action of his teacher turned Hokage. Sure, he can easily get over the massive gate, but the fact that he shut it on them shocked him.
"Kakashi-sensei! You bastard! What the hell do you mean about protection anyway?!" Naruto yelled at the silent gate. Bristling in annoyance, he called out to his teammate. "Can you believe it, Sasuke?" There was no response. "Sasuke?" He whipped around in an instant and saw the cloaked form of Sasuke rushing ahead.
The last Uchiha moved even faster.
"I spy, with my little eye... something blue."
"I'm not playing. I already told you that."
"I'm not even talking to you! Mind your business."
Sasuke threw a dry look at the one person who understood her the most.
He was also the one who annoyed her the most.
"What? Do you have an imaginary friend?" She tried to taunt him.
"No." He nudged her roughly with his arm, almost throwing off her balance. She was still getting used to missing an arm. "For your information, I have the worlds best partner inside me!" Naruto slammed an open palm onto his stomach.
'Flattery doesn't mean I want to continue playing this childish game.' His lifetime partner commented from inside the seal on his navel.
'Kurama, come on. Sasuke is in a bad mood, so I'm dying for some conversation here.' Naruto pleaded with the Kyuubi.
'The Uchiha girl is always in a bad mood. Since the day you met her she's been like this. Tch, I'll never understand why you're attracted to her.'
'Attracted to her?' Naruto blinked rapidly to quite literally get out of his own head before glancing at his best friend turned traitor... turned best friend again.
"What're you looking at, loser?" She rose a delicate eyebrow at his pointed stare.
"I spy with my little eye, something small and filled with angst." Naruto's cheeky smile set her off.
"Once more I'm shocked you know what a word like 'angst' means. Did they finally let you have a dictionary?" She smirked as his smile deflated.
"Yeah, well at least I'm not short like you. Look how tiny you are."
"I'd feel pity if you were still shorter than me. Don't forget that you were the shortest in our class."
"Everyone grows differently, asshole."
Within the seal, Kurama placed its head down into the murky ankle deep water below. Their bickering was something the tailed beast would need to get used to, which was probably impossible. Kurama would never approve of Naruto's attraction towards an Uchiha of all things. The Uchiha clan weren't even worth eating in the Kyuubi's opinion. Kurama reluctantly focused back on the outside world to hear the nonsense being spewed by the pair.
"-And Iruka-sensei said girls might not even develop in some areas! I mean, you definitely-"
"Finish that sentence and you'll lose that arm again." No one has ever gotten under her skin like Uzumaki Naruto.
"I won't even let you get the chance. I'll kick your tiny ass all over the Elemental Nations."
Sasuke's hand twitched.
The sound of chirping birds filled the empty road leading away from Konohagakure.
"Oh my, this is a welcome surprise. Two of my favorite shinobi came to visit me, how thoughtful." A voice that Naruto still didn't enjoy hearing spoke from its position at a large desk. "You look very dashing with the new hair style, Naruto-kun."
"Really? You'd be surprised how many people don't even comment on it. I wanted to go for something different, ya know? Hey, wait a minute... I still don't like you, Orochimaru." Naruto grin disappeared in a instant when he remembered the actions that this man, woman, snake person took against the village and the Sandaime Hokage. Seriously, it was hard to know what Orochimaru identified as nowadays.
"That's a shame. You are the one responsible for changing the direction of Sasuke-chan's wind. My curiosity when it comes to your special abilities are endless." Orochimaru stood up and approached the duo. His general appearance didn't look too different from usual, but something was off.
"Her wind? She can use wind?"
"Orochimaru." Sasuke cut in, Naruto was a fool. "I require some information." Her tone was rougher than usual. She hated dealing with Orochimaru.
"My Sasuke-chan is as cold as ever. I'm surprised you even came to visit. With Yamato watching my every movement, I didn't expect any Konoha residents around here."
"I told you not to talk about her like she's yours, Orochimaru." Naruto glared at the traitor with disgust. Orochimaru chuckled before placing his hands up in a placating manner.
"Of course Naruto-kun, how can I ever forget that she belongs to you. You've made that abundantly clear in the past." The snake user took some strange joy in seeing the small blushes on their faces.
"That's not what I meant." Naruto rubbed the back of his head in embarrassment.
"Orochimaru, I need whatever intel you have pertaining to villages all over the Elemental Nations. I know you keep records on their potential weaknesses and ongoing issues." Sasuke practically demanded, her Sharingan flashed at her former 'master'. She was glad Naruto didn't notice the slight flush of her cheeks.
"What do you intend to do with this information? Sabotage? Systematic destruction? The possibilities are endless for someone as strong as you." Orochimaru's lips twitched upwards at the angered look Naruto sent his way.
"No! Not even close! I didn't even want to come to you for this, but I followed Sasuke. We are going to use this information to help people." Naruto explained quickly, disgusted at the idea of harming other villages and innocent people.
"Help people?" Orochimaru looked at the Uchiha girl incredulously. "Forgive me, is this one of Naruto-kun's jokes?" He questioned the girl.
"No. That's what… he... we plan to do." Sasuke struggled to stress the 'we' in that statement.
"May I ask why?" His yellow eyes sought for answers on the Uchiha's blank face.
"Sasuke is on a journey of atonement. It's not something you'd understand, Orochimaru." Naruto managed to sneak an insult in there towards the snake summoner.
"I suppose you're right." Orochimaru kept his gaze on Sasuke, her poker face didn't flinch or change. "Well, if it's for such a noble cause, I can't deny you. I have to admit, I'm curious as to where this atonement will take you."
"So am I..." She muttered under her breath. Naruto threw an arm over her shoulder and pulled her close. Sasuke, who was still not used to that kind of physical contact, tensed slightly in his grip.
"It feels good to help people, you'll see Sasuke." He gave her his signature closed eye grin, one that made her avert her eyes. She couldn't stand him. He made her heart flutter.
Orochimaru watched with a hidden look of appraisal. He knew of their history. Friends turned to bitter rivals and then into true enemies for a brief time. Whatever amount of hostility existed in the past when Sasuke heard about Naruto was all but gone now. They understood each other on a level that few could relate to.
He didn't necessarily care for the sappy connotations of their relationship. He was a scientist after all, and a damn good one. His glee for potentially witnessing a child born from the union of these two powerhouses was unrivaled. The sun and moon coming together was rare after all.
"We have to go visit Gaara first. He'd definitely want to see us."
"This is my journey."
"I need the experience and Gaara is a Kage."
"I don't care about your Kage experience. My journey comes first, loser."
"Big words from a tiny girl like you."
The room sparked with electricity.
Orochimaru only continued to smile. He couldn't wait for them to officially get together. For science.
A/N - It is currently August 29th, 2022 and I am editing this story for grammar mistakes (spoiler, I will still miss a lot of 'em) and some dialogue changes so things flow smoother. Yes, I will be uploading a new chapter very soon. So if you see this little message, and actually care, get excited. I'll explain my long break from fanfiction in my updated chapter for those who are interested.