Kakashi was still catching up on back reports from his time in Konoha, to his frustration. It seemed as if Gai had completely avoided all paperwork, instead forcing all his subordinate and administrative officials to write countless reports that, quite frankly, were more often useless than not. It made these first few weeks back from Konoha rather monotonous... which made the knock on his office door quite welcome.
"Enter!" he called.
Kireme passed through the doorway, a smile on her face. "I understand you have some paperwork for me to fill out?"
Kakashi nodded. "Tsunade-sama sent a few packets of information for you to add to your courtesan-training courses," he replied, pulling out a package wrapped in brown paper. "And I have some paperwork that you need to finish that Gai should have given you... lots of back paperwork, even now."
Kireme laughed. "Yes, well, he was rather... enthusiastic, in his brief moment of leadership, but not especially effective I fear. Mind if I take the secretary's desk to fill out all of this paperwork? The office at the brothel is kind of cramped, at the moment."
Kakashi, thinking nothing of it, waved his hand. "Go ahead."
Kireme picked up the package from Konoha and the identified set of files, then moved on to the smaller desk near the door. She set her stuff down, but then noticed the desk wasn't as empty as she thought. "Hey, there's another file here already."
"What's in it?" Kakashi asked. Normally, files in the office of the jounin-oyabun would have been classified above Kireme's level, but Kakashi felt expediency was more important than the security risk involved.
Kireme saw no outer label, so she opened the file up and started glancing through it. "It, um, appears to be a spare copy of the briefing folder you sent along with Tenten on her recent mission." She continued glancing through it when something caught her eyes. "You really got used to having Naruto-kun around to double-check your assignments, didn't you?"
Kakashi glanced up, surprised. "Um, why do you say that?"
"You never would have assigned Tenten-chan to this mission if you hadn't," Kireme sighed. "You didn't realize you had assigned several young women who haven't completed courtesan training on a mission that will require them to act as prostitutes, did you?"
"What did I do again?" Kakashi asked, unsure he heard her correctly.
"Haven't you read your own bingo books?" Kireme asked. "Or did you just forget to check where it was you were sending Tenten-chan to?"
"Um... refresh my memory about the bingo books?" Kakashi replied slowly. He still wasn't sure what the problem was, but was beginning to understand that Kireme wasn't just blowing smoke.
"I used to live in one of the countries you sent Tenten-chan and Lee-kun to investigate," Kireme explained. "And I know most of the countries in that region were as bad or worse as the one I came from. So, when I was given access to Konoha's bingo books, I checked what they had to say about my homeland. They had it pretty spot-on, so I know if you'd just looked it up you would have seen the problem." She took a deep breath before continuing her explanation. "In the territory you sent Tenten and her people to, the only girls or women walking the streets - at all - are licensed prostitutes out of the local brothels. Outsider women are often beaten and killed if it's discovered that they aren't prostitutes, even if they're completely ignorant of the local laws. After all, 'no woman should ever leave the home of her master. To do so shows she is betraying him, refusing to do her duty to beget future generations, and therefore she is useless and must be destroyed.' Um, I don't think that, with a mission like this one, there's much Tenten or her team can do other than pretend to be prostitutes. The thing is... only Pansuki-chan has completed courtesan training, out of all the girls on that mission, so..."
"It's too late to send a recall order," Kakashi sighed.
"Tenten-chan's a virgin," Kireme pointed out. "She might change that before she arrives at their mission destination - she has a thing for Lee-kun, after all - but no woman with as little experience as she'll have will convince anyone she's an experienced prostitute. And while she's only in her twenties, an inexperienced prostitute of her age in that area will stick out like a sore thumb - if you aren't an experienced whore by the time you're sixteen, chances are you aren't really a whore at all and are 'running from your master' under the cover of being a prostitute."
"Crap," Kakashi sighed. "You're right, I guess - I am too used to having Naruto-kun looking over my shoulder. I was also fairly rushed, as the request for reinforcement was older than it should have been, and didn't research things as carefully as I normally would." He paused. "But like I said, it's too late to send a recall order. The most we can do now is hope that they get out of the situation safely."
"For your sake, Kakashi-san, I hope they do," Kireme sighed. "But I don't really see them getting out of it hurt too badly - they're trained ninja, and very good at what they do. What I'm worried about is the possibility of Tenten-chan - or the terminally chivalrous Lee-kun - starting a bloody war because Tenten-chan needs to defend herself."
The front door of her house opened with more noise than any ninja would ever make... unless that ninja were trying to make noise, like a certain one she knew rather well did all of the time. "I'm home," Naruto called, confirming Sakura's suspicions.
"Welcome back," she said. "I'm in the office." Sakura pretended to be unprepared for the sudden assault he launched, squeeking cutely as she was lifted bodily out of her chair from behind and spun into a tight embrace, lips she was quite familiar with by now crashing down onto her own. Wrapping her own arms around him and squeezing with more force than would normally be comfortable, she returned his affections wholeheartedly. "So," she said casually, once she was able to get her breath back. "How was your day?"
Naruto cocked an eyebrow at her, not believing her nonchalance for a moment. "Long," he replied. "I was missing you terribly."
Ignoring that comment, Sakura - still wrapped in his arms, offhandedly asked, "Have you finally finished the paperwork Tsunade-shishou 'delegated' to you?"
"All I've done all day is paperwork," Naruto growled. "I don't want to think of it any more. I'd rather think of something else... like you, and that interesting ninjutsu trick you tried on me last night."
"Have you completed your invitations to the council for the hokage's introductory banquet yet?" Sakura asked, thinking hard. She was running out of inane questions to ask before she would have to delve into the serious ones, and the mood of the game would be disspelled if she had to ask about the Akadou relocation movement, or the funeral for the late Hyuuga matriarch, or the slow but steady process of reunifying the Hyuuga clan, or anything like that.
"I can think of one invitation I'd like to make to you," he purred, hands rubbing in areas she wouldn't allow any other man's hands anywhere near.
Sakura swallowed. He was obviously winning this one. "Um... are you sure you want to make a special invitation to me? I mean, won't that offend the other clan heads, if they get excluded from the hokage's banquet?"
"This is a different type of 'banquet,'" Naruto pointed out. "And if they ever find out about it, we'll need to increase security around here."
Sakura giggled. "Well, I'm certainly looking forward to it... but given that I'm pretty sure we both skipped lunch, wouldn't you want to have dinner first, and then dessert?"
For the first time Sakura could remember in a long time, Naruto seemed to actually be debating the merits of not eating. Admittedly, even she was looking forward to the 'dessert,' but she'd never known him to turn down the dinner for it, before. It must really have been a long day for him, she thought, amused.
"Naruto," Sakura began patiently. "Last time we started something like this before we ate, you wound up biting me... more than once... and in a very sensative spot. And it wasn't exactly a playful bite, either."
Naruto blushed. "Er, sorry about that. Maybe we should have dinner, after all."
"A very good idea," Sakura agreed. Naruto, contrary to popular belief, would gladly eat things other than ramen, and always kept food in stock that was not of the noodle soup variety... but, as understanding as he was being despite his impatience, perhaps he deserved some of his favorite food after all. "Home-made ramen okay?"
Naruto's eyes widened. "Uh, of course!"
Sakura grinned slightly. "Then you're going to have to let me go. Ramen is easy to make, even home-made, but it does require the use of my arms."
"And that's why I had such a hard time deciding whether I wanted dinner or not," Naruto sighed. "Okay, okay, you win."
He let her go, and followed her into the kitchen. Sakura's mother had initially bought the current Haruno-Uzumaki Estate (as the townhouse was now being called, being the residence of the Hokage's wife... and, therefore, the hokage, although technically Naruto had quarters he could use in the tower, if he needed them) for the large kitchen, which could easily have two or more people working in it at the same time. Naruto, while no gourmet, was a adequate cook, and Sakura was no slouch either. And, even for the home-made variety, ramen was a ridiculously simple dish to make.
"I'll start the broth and noodles," Sakura said. "How about you dice up some naruto fishcake and then get the table set?"
Naruto went into the fridge and pulled out the fish paste sausage that was his namesake. Pulling out a kitchen knife - one of their extremely high quality set of kitchen knives made exclusively in Blossom - he started slicing quarter-inch thick slices. "As much as I like ramen, I've always been a little disturbed preparing this particular part of it up," he sighed. "It casts... disturbing images."
"I like eating naruto, though," Sakura teased, shaking her rear end playfully in his direction, just in case he was watching. "It takes some getting used to, I'll admit, but it can be quite delicious."
"Are you going to torture me all night, or will I get some mercy at some point tonight?" Naruto asked mournfully.
"I thought you didn't want any mercy?" Sakura replied, referring to an earlier conversation during their honeymoon.
Naruto considered that for a moment. "Normally, no, but my patience is already at an edge. If you want to make it through this dinner, I think you'll have to stop."
Sakura nodded, toning down her provocative stance. "Well, I don't want to be bitten quite like you do when you're hungry, again, so-"
"I already apologized for that at least ten times," Naruto interrupted. "And it happened more than a year ago. Am I ever going to live it down?"
"Maybe after we have kids," Sakura said, pretending to think hard about it. "Though I doubt they'd be able to understand what we were talking about until they were at least heading to the Academy, so maybe not."
Naruto rolled his eyes. "Yeah, yeah. Speaking of kids, though... do you mind if I take your ninja team and assign it to someone else?"
Sakura, who had just gotten the water to boil, paused in the middle of adding bonito flakes. "Um... no, I guess not," she said, somewhat sadly. "It doesn't look as if I'll be going on any missions with them, any time soon, is it?"
"Sorry," Naruto apologized. "I know you retired from active duty mostly so that I could have a chance at the confirmation vote. I wish you hadn't had to give up your career to make mine work."
"Who said anything about giving up my career?" Sakura laughed. "I'm just going back to being a medical ninja first and foremost. Besides... we really do need to start thinking of kids of our own. We have that turtle contract scroll I negotiated just for them, and it does sort of obligate us to have children before too long."
"We've got time," Naruto pointed out. "We can enjoy married life without kids for a while."
Sakura stiffened slightly. "Would you be disappointed if we had kids right away?"
Naruto's eyes widened. "Me? No! I'd love kids, someday. Doesn't matter if it's today or five years from now, to me, but I thought you might want some time to enjoy your retirement, first." He paused. "Why? You aren't pregnant, are you?"
"Not yet," she answered, stirring the pot slightly as Naruto finished slicing the Naruto and started collecting plates and cups. "But I deactivated my birth control seals right after we were married. I could get pregnant any day now. I could probably force it, too, if you wanted them now."
"Whenever you're ready for kids, I'll be ready for them," he replied. "Although I think maybe Hinata needs her own kid's cure taken care of first, you know?"
Sakura swallowed. "Um, about that..."
"I've found a... possibility," Sakura dithered, not quite sure she wanted to explain the exact method she found. "See, I was going through archives and medical records and all sorts of other things. Some of the records contradict one another and everything, but I was able to figure out a few things by combining what was in their records, what was in the Inuzuka records, what my own medical tests were telling me, and while those things were sometimes contradicted not everything was. So, I could do a few tests based on these records, and came up with a couple plans, but it's really all based on a few things I have yet to confirm..."
Naruto's mouth opened and closed a few times as he followed the track of her phrase. "Um, I think I followed that. What were the things you believe you found out?"
"Well, it's long been debated whether the Inuzuka used a lesser demon to obtain their enhanced abilities," Sakura began. "The Inuzuka themselves are even split on it, some thinking they did have a demon in their past and others not. So, I spend a while to solve that mystery before I really got through anything else. There are a lot of medical similarities between their blood and the blood of clans which have been affected by lesser demons. However, my conclusion is that there is no demonic influence in their past - while its similar, there are too many things missing that are common to all other demonic enhancements." She paused. "Including our own. I took my blood, and found that kyuubi is changing my blood a bit."
"Uh, so what does that mean?"
"Er, nothing, really. At least not at the moment," Sakura admitted. "For Hinata and Kiba, it could have meant something if only the Inuzuka blood wasn't quite so similar to the blood influenced by demons, but it's so close it might as well be. As far as my blood is concerned... well, I'll get to that."
"Okay," Naruto replied uncertainly, not quite following. "Um, the broth is boiling over."
"Ack!" Sakura replied, dashing over and nearly burning herself to get the pot off the heat before she remembered her potholders. Taking the pot over to the sink, she strained away the bonito flakes, leaving just the broth behind, which she returned to the heat to get boiling again. "Thanks. Um, anyway, after finding that out about the Inuzuka, I went and tried to find any common similarities between their blood and Uchiha blood, and take away the similarities with Hyuuga blood, and maybe I would at least have an indication of what the trouble spots are. However... I don't have any samples of Uchiha blood, and the medical records from the Uchiha clan are either missing or so archaic they don't give me enough information. That has taken what would be the best method for solving the problem off of the table." She paused, putting the noodles into the now-boiling water. She also added some scallions, then took a sample sip of the broth.
Naruto nodded slowly, trying desperately to process everything she was telling him. "Okay, so far you've told me about a lot of stuff you haven't found, and about a few things that aren't going to help you as much as you hoped. Um, so... what is this way you've found of fixing things?"
"Well, um, I'm going to want to do a blood test on you," Sakura continued, checking a clock to see how long she'd been boiling the noodles. "I'll compare those to the medical records for your father, which I found in the Hyuuga archives - though that's about all of interest from your family archives that the Hyuuga still have. We'll need to find the Uchiha archives in order to find the rest of them. Oh, and I'll want to do blood tests on a few other people, too, including my mom - which may require a trip out to blossom. I might be able to use my own blood to find some other way of finding those problem areas, but that'll take time. It may be that whatever I find to fix things will only be usable before Hinata delivers her baby, so I decided to check out a few other things I could work on in the meantime."
"Uh huh," Naruto said, his voice showing that he knew she was delaying, still, though he had no idea just why she was doing so.
She pulled the pot of ramen soup off of the stove, dividing it into three large bowls - two for him, one for her. Then, she grabbed a few eggs out of the refrigerator, cracking them open and stirring the contents into each bowl to allow the residual heat to cook them. "I've had a working theory about all this since finding out about the problem several years ago, but I only recently recieved the materials - and the necessary co-operation from the Hyuuga - to see if there was anything to it. And... well, I'll need to conduct a few blood tests, still, to be sure, but, uh, I think that this idea will work." She set the bowls on the table, where Naruto had already set out chopsticks, drinks, napkins, and the like. "Dinner's ready."
"Itadakimasu!" Naruto called when they were both seated, but didn't immediately set into his food. "Sakura-chan... what are you trying so hard not to tell me?"
Sakura pointed at his soup. "Eat while it's hot. I promise I'll tell you, let me just get to it first." She paused. "I don't think it's anything bad, but it is something... difficult to talk about."
"Why? Is it kinky or something?" Naruto asked cheekily, starting on his first bowl of soup.
"Um, it can be," Sakura replied, flushing slightly. "See, I think if there's a bloodline introduced into the mix that has been enhanced by a demon significantly stronger than the demon the Hyuuga used to 'complete' the byakuugan, the new bloodline will control the lesser two." She paused. "And our kids are going to have had a much, much more powerful demon influencing our bloodline..."
Naruto paused mid-slurp, noodles hanging from his lips. "You mean... if our kids and had kids with her kids, their kids kids will be fine?"
It was Sakura's turn to puzzle out what was said, as she had to follow all of the 'kids' to figure out if he was right or not. "Uh, yeah, basically. We'll still need to check and make sure the insanity triggers for the Uchiha clan are the same as the ones for the mixed Inuzuka-Hyuuga bloodline, and there are other things we need to check on first, but I think it could work."
Naruto nodded slowly. "So... is that the reason you were asking me about us having kids now?"
"Well, that's certainly part of it," Sakura admitted. "Um, but the important thing is... we'll have to arrange a marriage between our child and Hinata's before ours are even concieved, if we try and fix things this way. And there's nothing I can do for Hinata's son or daughter unless I can get a sample or a better record of Uchiha blood, but... well, I figured we could at least tell Hinata that we have something to help. If you're willing to do it."
Naruto paused. "When will we know whether Hinata's kid will be her son or her daughter?"
"The soonest possible is five weeks after conception, but that's not an especially reliable test," Sakura explained. "I think Hinata's passed that point, by now, but I'd rather give their baby a couple more months before checking."
"And... I know courtesan training and medical training gives you a lot of abilities many kunoichi don't have," Naruto continued. "Can you control which sex we concieve?"
Sakura was mildly surprised at the question. True, Naruto was brilliant when he actually tried to understand something, but often he would appear less intelligent than he actually was when a conversation went over his head, like this one should have been. She wasn't quite sure what that meant, although she hoped it was because he was taking this discussion seriously. "I don't have perfect control over that, no," she admitted. "But I can make the chance greater in favor of one or the other, up to eighty percent for boys or ninety percent for girls. I'll ask Tsunade-shishou, however - she might know of a better technique."
Naruto nodded. "Then... we'll wait until we know what we need to have, and have a kid then." He smiled slightly and waggled his eyebrows. "We can practice in the meantime."
Sakura smirked. "Yeah, practice should be fun. But I'll keep trying to solve Hinata's problem so that we don't have to force the issue."
Naruto slurped down the last noodle of his second bowl, took a swig of tea to clear his throat, and grinned. "So... can we get to practicing now?"
"We don't have to if you aren't ready, Tenten-chan."
"Yes, we do. And I'm probably as ready as I'll ever be. I'm just... scared. I've never done this before..."
"Well, niether have I."
"It's supposed to hurt for girls, the first time. That's why I really need the experience now, and as often as possible between now and when we get to those northern countries."
"Oh, quit blushing! You're making me nervous!"
"I can't help it, Tenten-chan, I..."
"Here, let me get started since you can't seem to do it."
"Wow... you... you're gorgeous. I've never seen you like this, before."
"In a bra and panties? Well, this isn't anything more than you'd have seen from my bikini, you know."
"I never saw you in swimwear."
"Really? Surely you have. We've known each other for how long, now?"
"More than a decade. But we've never been swimming, together, so..."
"Well, you'll still get to see more."
"Don't faint on me now, Lee-kun! Buck up and be a man, for once!"
"B-but you... you're naked!"
"I'm just topless! Geez, Lee, don't make such a big production of it. Here, let's get over this stupid shyness of yours. Take that hand, and put it here."
"Uh, there? But-"
"Don't argue with me, just do it!"
"Um, is that sweat?"
"N-no. That's... something else. And it's a good thing. Actually, I meant for you to grab the waistband, not... that. Um, go ahead and pull down my panties, Lee-kun. I want you to see it."
"Er... interesting design?"
"So I groom down there! Now... let's get your spandex off, shall we?"
"Uh, Tenten, what are you doing? Tenten, I - eep!"
"I said don't faint on me! Geez, Lee-kun, you're lucky that I not only like you, but that I'm desperate. Any other girl would have thought were were too much of a hassle to break in, by now."
"Okay... now, I can see as much of you as you can of me. So... are you ready to finish this?"
Nanigoto Izure, listening to the conversation - as well as certain moans and groans - couldn't help but shake his head. He didn't really want to eavesdrop on his sensei and the team leader, but they had needed a guard to make sure they were safe during the moments they would be most vulnerable. Poor Tenten-sensei, he thought to himself. She should have found an expert to help her with this, like she did for me.
Author's note: That last scene was done (up to the end) as pure dialog for a bit of an experiment. I've been wanting to try something like that for a while, and it seems like that one would work as a good one for it, since I'd otherwise have to censor the scene for FFNet folks. No lemons for Lee and Tenten, but enough lime to show you that yes, Tenten is not a virgin any more. Nor is Lee. Hope you enjoyed it.
Note from 1-27-14: It's been a long time since I looked at this chapter, which has been sitting on my desktop (already complete) for years, now. I'd entirely forgotten that Tenten-Lee thing happened. I hope I didn't write myself into a corner. Well, we'll see. Incidentally, if you go to my website (now linked to from my profile page), you will find that the novel I mentioned in the last chapter has been released. It is available in any form of e-book (from multiple providers) as well as in print. I also would really enjoy having a few more people on that forum, in my new mailing list, or liking me on facebook and twitter; it would really help me feel less like I'm talking to myself.
Next Chapter: Naruto sends Ino back to Blossom with some reinforcements and some special instructions. Tenten meets with the madam of a brothel.