Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto and only use it for entertainment purposes.

In Konoha Tsunade was meeting with the Village Advisory Council. She had to them of Naruto leaving the Village the day before. It was hard to say how they would react. Some actually respected the boy for his loyalty to the Village. Naruto had proven valuable to Konoha for the fact alone he was instrumental in bringing Tsunade to be the Godaime. Others however still despised him because of the Kyuubi. They saw his strength and the fact that he could use the Kyuubi's chakra as a slap in the face to them and those that died fifteen years ago. One thing everyone on the Council was in agreement on was being wary of sending Naruto into the field because of Akatsuki.

With him leaving the Village on his own, those against Naruto would jump at the chance to have him hunted down saying he was traitor. That of course was a lie as there was no one more loyal to Konoha than Naruto. She would be able to counter the charge because Naruto left a trail clear enough for even Gennin to follow. Still he left without orders and that meant he needed to be punished. That would probably be suspension or maybe house arrest, that all depended on how far the Council was willing to push her. They could not override her authority no matter what, they were just advisors and she was the Hokage.

Naruto was resting in a small clearing several kilometers away from the Valley of the End. He had to rest because of the strain his Kenjutsu technique did to his chakra reserves. Normally he would have been able to move further but with the extra strain of the Kage Bushins (Shadow Clones) he created to help carry Sasuke he had to rest. He had given Sasuke first aide after he secured him with chakra binding chains. This ensured that Sasuke would live and would not be much of a threat on the slim chance if he woke up. Earlier Naruto took a Soldier Pill so his chakra was recovering and in a short amount of time he would be able to make it back to Konoha in under a day traveling non-stop.

He looked over at Sasuke's unconscious form and felt sorry for the Uchiha. The only thing his old teammate lived for the past ten years or so was revenge and in all honesty Naruto knew Sasuke would never get it. To beat Itachi Sasuke would have to become stronger than Orochimaru at single combat. For one on one Orochimaru was no match for Itachi because of the Mangekyou Sharingan. That was the reason the Uchiha Clan were the Konoha Shinobi Police Force the Sharingan gave them a superior edge over others in single combat.

In fact the vary reason the Snake Sannin never went after the elder Uchiha was because it would be suicide with the Mangekyo Sharingan. Orochimaru would never allow Sasuke to become stronger than him because then he would never get Sasuke's body. And if Sasuke was not as strong Orochimaru who was not as strong as Itachi, that meant even after everything Sasuke sacrificed for his revenge he would never get the chance to have.

"The question now is what will happen to him after we get back?" Naruto thought. "According to the Law he should get the same punishment as any Nuke-nin, death. However that could be put aside depending on how much influence the Curse Seal had on his mind." His calm face looked up at the sky noting it was getting late so he should be moving soon. He closed his eyes and meditated to check his chakra reserves and found it was at sufficient to make the journey back home. He put his hands into the cross hand seal and spoke, "Kage Bushin no Jutsu." Two clones appeared and picked up the injured traitor and followed the original Naruto as he left the clearing.

At a surprisingly short distance away Kakashi, Sakura, Asuma and his team were following Kakashi's dog Pakkun. They were following the Kyuubi Prison's trail on orders from the Hokage to find and retrieve him. Once Kakashi had informed of the traces of a Genjutsu from Sharingan origins the Godaime concluded the same thing the Copy Cat Ninja did. Either Sasuke or Itachi contacted Naruto. The fact that Naruto had not told anyone lent to Sasuke as the source of the Genjutsu. The promise Naruto made to bring Sasuke back made it personal enough to go it alone.

As the seven traveled it was easy for the dog to pick up Naruto's trail. He was clear to everyone he was anticipation pursuit but because he was not trying to run away he left it for back up to follow. This served two purposes, one it would keep him from being labeled a traitor and Hunter-nin going after him. And two it allowed others to reach him in time if he needed help. The only real punishment he would receive, regardless of what some may want, would be a reprimand for leaving the village without permission.

Pakkun was actively sniffing the air as he led the group. He suddenly picked up Naruto's scent on the wind much stronger than it would have been if it were a day old. That meant that Naruto was in the area, "Kakashi, Naruto is close by? I think he is traveling back to Konoha."

"Do you smell anything else Pakkun?" Kakashi asked.

The talking pug sniffed the air once again. "Yes I smell blood," the group became tense at that, "And something else," he sniffed just to be sure. "I also smell Sasuke!"

"Sasuke-kun is with Naruto?" Sakura asked.

"It is most likely that it was Sasuke that put the old man under the Genjutsu," Kakashi explained. "With the blood Pakkun smelled it is likely the two of the fought. If Naruto is returning to Konoha then that means he most likely won."

"Do you think Naruto killed Uchiha?" Asuma asked.

"Impossible to tell from here," Kakashi answered. "The decay of a body does not set in for at least a day." He turned to address his summon helper, "Pakkun which way is the scent coming from."

The little dog summon took a couple sniffs in the air. "Off to the west I would say," another sniff, "Ten kilometers or so."

"You heard him," Asuma said the young Chunins. The four teenagers nodded and headed off to the west.

Three minutes later the seven came upon three Naruto's standing at the base of a tree apparently waiting for them. Two of the three were holding an unconscious Sasuke in between them. "Sakura-san, he needs medical treatment," Naruto said. It was polite but concise and to the point. Just what everyone that had run into Naruto since his return had come to expect.

"Thank you Naruto, I'll take care of it from here." Sakura said. She went over to her childhood crush as the Kage Bushins put him down. After a through inspection of the unconscious form she determined that Sasuke had three broken ribs, a fractured thigh and a stab wound that went cleaning through the his chest. She could tell first aide had been given and Sasuke was stable but the wound on the chest needed to be closed. With a soft green glow of healing chakra the wound closed on Sasuke's chest first and then a few minutes later the wound on his back followed. "That is all I should do for him now," Sakura reported. "For the broken bones to be healed properly it should be done at the hospital."

"Good work Sakura," Kakashi said. "Naruto, tell us what happened."

Naruto nodded and explained everything that happened from the time the old man knocked on his door to the defeat of Sasuke. After the report Naruto suggested, "We should leave. Orochimaru may come to retrieve Sasuke at any moment."

"Agreed," Kakashi replied. "Dismiss your Kage Bushins in order to conserve your energy. Chouji you and Asuma carry Sasuke."

The Jounin and Chunin made no argument. Kakashi had seniority in the mission because it involved his students. Plus the two of them had the best energy reserves of the retrieval team so they could afford the extra burden. After they picked up Sasuke the Konoha shinobi jumped back towards Konoha.

Hours later they entered through the north gate. From there they split up with Sakura, Asuma and Chouji taking Sasuke to the hospital and Kakashi, Naruto, Ino and Shikamaru heading for the Hokage Tower. The trip through the village was like the trip back, almost complete silence. Only the occasional question from Ino and the response from the men interrupted the quite. When the reached the Tower they were immediately met by two Anbu and taken to the Tsunade. When they entered her Office Tsunade spoke up, "Ino, Shikamaru you two are dismissed." The pair bowed and left without another word. "You two," she said addressing the Anbu, "Can wait outside." The Anbu complied and closed the door behind them. When only the Godaime, Kakashi and Naruto remained she ordered Naruto, "Tell me why you left the village without consulting me first."

"The message the old man delivered to me stated that I needed to come alone," Naruto began. "If I had shown up with any help Sasuke may have run off. I apologize for leaving without permission but I felt it was the best course of action to retrieve him."

"You realize the only reason the Hunter-nins were not sent after you was because you left a clear trail for them to follow," Tsunade said. "And even then there were still several people that wanted you listed as a Nuke-nin and hunted down."

"Yes Tsunade-sama," Naruto answered.

"Then you are also aware I have to punish you for you're actions?" Tsunade asked. She was hoping Naruto act like his old self and complain, showing that the kid they knew was still a part of the man that stood before her. Sadly all Naruto did was give small nod showing he was willing to accept the punishment. "Very well. You're punishment will be a reduction in payment in any mission you take for six missions you go on that are C-class of above as well as confinement to the village until I say otherwise. Is that understood?"

"Yes Tsunade-sama," Naruto answered.

"Good, now tell me what happened when you confronted Sasuke," Tsunade ordered. Naruto repeated what he told Kakashi hours prior. His face maintained the ice like quality through out the report. "Thank you Naruto, you are dismissed as well." Naruto gave a polite bow and left the Office. "He said he only used a burst of Kyuubi's chakra to achieve the thrust and though I believe him…"

"You want to know if I sensed it," Kakashi concluded. "No, I didn't sense the Kyuubi's chakra. But at the time of the fight we were only half way to the Valley of the End. Kyuubi's chakra is potent but even at that distance a burst cannot be detected. So when are you going to list the technique he descried as a Kinjutsu?"

"As soon as Naruto thinks up a name for it," Tsunade answered. "I doubt anyone other than Naruto can that Kenjutsu. Even others like him like Gaara don't have a dual chakra nature." Kakashi gave a small nod of acknowledgment of the truth to the statement. "Now we need to go to the hospital and examine Sasuke. We need to determine what his punishment will be."

"There will be some people that will be upset if his punishment is death," Kakashi warned.

"Sasuke was listed as a Class-A Nuke-nin when he left for Orochimaru," Tsunade responded. "If it was solely his choice then it does not matter what anyone says the Law says he will be executed."

"What about Sakura?" Kakashi asked.

"I've told her the consequences Sasuke would have to face when he was brought back, many times," Tsunade answered. Left unsaid was that Sakura would understand on conscious level but on an emotional level she would be devastated.

When Naruto left Tsunade's office the only thing the filled his mind was what might happen to Sakura once Sasuke's punishment was decided. He could see it in the way she looked at him when she was treating his wounds. She still cared very deeply for Sasuke; whether it was same affection she claimed when they were all Rookie Gennin was still in question. One thing Naruto knew for sure was that back then she did not love Sasuke, not like a lover anyway. He knew this because he experience that kind of love first hand and another thing was they were far to young to know what that felt like.

Thinking about Keiko made his cures the handle on his katana. He inherited it from her just like he did her sword style; it was his way of remembering her and the promise he made when she died in his arms…

Naruto was holding a girl that if not covered in blood would have truly breathtaking to look at. Her once long dark purple hair now was stained with blood, her lightly tanned skin now pale from blood loss, once joyful eye now rattled with the sadness of leaving a loved one behind. "You…can't…die…yet," she gasped. "You…need…to…become Ho…Hokage. Pr…promise…me…you'll…live."

"I swear Keiko-chan, I'll live," Naruto said as her last breath left her body. He gently laid her down on the grown and picked up her katana from close by. Instead of crying out in anger or sadness Naruto did the opposite. He buried his emotions deep within himself and he became like ice. When he looked up everyone around him stopped from the coldness of his eyes. "But you will die," his voice sent a shiver up the spine of the Nuke-nin that was in front of him. The one that killed Keiko…

Naruto corseted the handle one more time, "I'm still living Keiko-chan." He let his hand drop from the katana and made his way back to his apartment.

At the Hospital Sakura was finishing cleaning up after fully healing Sasuke's injuries. As soon as she and the other medics were finished four Anbu immediately came in and took Sasuke away. As the Hokage's student she knew that he was taken to the High Security Holding Cell out among the vast forest behind the Hokage Monument. There the best Seal Experts in the Village, most liking including Jiraiya himself, would examine him. Little known fact was that of the three students of the Sandaime Hokage, Jiraiya was the best when it came to analyzing and producing Seals. It was him that originally came up with the containment Seal that Kakashi placed on Sasuke nearly three years ago.

After a thorough examination of the Seal and just how much it affected the possessor they would determine what kind of punishment Sasuke would face. Depending on the influence the Seal has over the victim Sasuke's punishment would be anywhere from house arrest for a few years to outright execution. When Sakura was first informed of this she tried to protest and swore Sasuke's innocence. Tsunade told her flat out that if Sasuke was a willing participant than only death was the punishment for crimes he committed; abandoning Konoha, attempting to kill a fellow shinobi, working with another traitor, and resisting arrest. "What will I do if he is executed?" Sakura asked herself. She had been asking herself that question everyday for two years and even now she had no answer.

Back at the Hokage Tower Tsunade was meeting with her teammate once again. "You are aware they are going to start moving against you?" Jiraiya inquired. "They can't do it directly but if they can get enough support from the Clans they can put sufficient pressure on you to concede to whatever demands they want."

"I know," Tsunade answered. "But as things stand they can't do anything really. The issue over sending Naruto out into the field has been tabled for now. In their minds Naruto is safe away from where Akatsuki can get to him. The question is, how much of a threat Akatsuki actually is to him?"

"Far less than those old bats think," Jiraiya answered. "With Kakashi and Sakura backing him it would take more than just two of their members to capture him. And from my sources say the members stay pretty far away from each other."

"Have you gotten anymore information on their identities?" Tsunade asked. "With more information we can set up better counter measures."

"Nothing concrete other than the ones we already know about," Jiraiya answered. "Though Suna has said Sasori of the Red Sands may be part of it. I've looked into his abilities and he would fit in terms of strength. It is rumored he was able to fight the Sandaime Kazekage to a stand still."

"If that were true it would be rather impressive," Tsunade answered. "Sensei's old journals said he was a formidable opponent. Up there in terms of the Shodaime because of his ability to control magnetic fields."

"I'll be sure to contact my resources more thoroughly," Jiraiya replied. "I have a couple that I don't normally use because they're more temperamental than Gamabunta, but if they have any information it will accurate."

"Then go ahead and contact them," Tsunade replied. "If you need anything let me know and I'll arrange it. Just do your best to get the information." Jiraiya gave a nod and disappeared in a swirl of leaves. "What will be their next move I wonder?" If anyone were listening they would have wondered if Tsunade was talking about Akatsuki or those against her in the Village.