Brothers of Sand and Leaf
The moon shone brightly in the dry, clear air while a breeze shifted the sand. In the distance, temporary mini sand tornados would come into being before dying away unnoticed by anyone in the village, who as usual, were barricaded inside their homes. This was a wise decision against the fear of something far more deadly than the desert, a demon that roamed their streets at night in the guise of a human.
Gaara of the Sand.
The sleep deprived, red haired young man was currently standing crossed-arm in front of the stairs that led down to the Hidden Sand councils who were currently discussing something of major importance. Not that the pale ninja cared or even thought about them in more than passing.
No, he was far more interested in reflecting upon his Kanji for 'Love' and the fight he had been in about six months ago. His pale-green eyes never once blinked as he relived the only battle that he had ever lost.
Yet he knew he was being watched, he was always watched. Normally he would kill the watchers painfully, but held his desire in check now. Every time his mother would whisper for the blood, he would remember what his new brother had taught him during their fight. But it was very hard and he did give in every so often.
Silently and without reason he shifted his distant gaze away from the village and stared at the approaching girl that he only vaguely considered his sister. Temari flashed him a nervous smile, adjusting the fan she held casually over her shoulder. Standing the large fan up beside her, she attempted to assume an air of indifference.
Gaara continued to stare at her for a moment, then he looked away. He had been trying to be nicer to Kankuro and Temari, though it didn't always work. But he didn't feel the urge to kill them quite as much anymore, so that had to be something.
"Why did the elders want to see us so late?" a new voice said suddenly and Gaara shifted his attention away from the village to stare at the taller boy who was dressed in an all black jumpsuit, with a bandaged dummy strapped to his back and his face painted with thick purple lines.
"I don't know," Temari answered after a moment, placing a hand on her hip as she turned to glare down at the door.
"Well at least they picked a warm night for this," Kankuro muttered glancing at his sister's clothes in obvious disapproval. Temari caught his gaze and frowned, as if preparing to respond acidly but let the response die on her lips as Gaara shot them both a warning glare.
He could already hear his mothers whispered urging and Gaara didn't feel like testing just how much he was beginning to care about them. Silently the insomniac ninja turned and descended the rough-hewn stones, his scared siblings following behind him hesitantly. Coming to a stop Gaara short, staring at the sand-battered door until it opened to reveal a Sand Jonin.
Tsunade stared out at the gathered group in front her, fingers laced together and elbows resting on her desk. To the left stood the five sand ninjas: a girl and four males. One of whom she knew from the descriptions as Gaara, he really did look insane. Eyes narrowing she shifted her gaze to the three ninjas gathered on the other side of the room.
The fattest one was lounging against the wall munching on chips. The only leaf girl present, who had long blond hair, was currently whispering something to the bored looking, dark-haired male in front who had his arms folded.
Tsunade narrowed her eyes, considering the only combat experienced ninjas currently available. The ones guarding the walls were out of the question for this mission and everybody else was already in the field and not due back for a while. Still she wished that she could send somebody other than Shikamaru, Ino and Choji. This was above an A-ranked mission and considering who the last two members of the five members Leaf team would be, she wanted somebody that could actually control them.
Not that having five Leaf ninjas with five Sand ninjas was exactly a good idea, because despite the progress in relations between the two villages nobody really trusted each other. Actually, Tsunade amended; things are only a little better than open war. Still, she had no other choice and this was a mission that needed to be done quickly.
Thankful before she could talk herself into postponing the mission, which could prove very dangerous, she was drawn from her musings by a loud boisterous voice arguing with a slightly more subdued feminine voice in the hallway through her closed door. Hearing his energetic and loud voice was actually rather good to hear right now, though she knew that by the end of the meeting she'd be more than ready for the silence of his absence.
Tsuande like everyone else in the room jerked when the door slammed open and a pink haired girl, dressed in a red dress and black shorts dragged a furiously arguing blond ninja into the room behind her behind her by the ear. Recovering the Fifth leaned back in her seat, amused to see the expressions on the two adult Sand ninjas.
"Uh, Oi, Hey!" the boy glad in an eye-catching orange jumpsuit said loudly, looking around for the first time at the gathered ninjas. Realizing who was in the room he burst to the front of the room, hands on her desk knocking over a stack of papers. "What's going on here! Uh Granny Tsuande?"
Tsuande bit her lip and balled a fist up, clenching her eyes shut resisting the urge to knock the boy through the building and across the street through another building. Wouldn't be the proper thing to do really, but oh it was so tempting. Opening her eyes she stared at the young ninja who seemed unfazed and was continuing to stare at her expectantly, ignorant of the shock, annoyance or embarrassment he had created in the Leaf ninjas.
Sighing, the sannin took a deep breath relaxing her body the best she could, answering his question in an even tone "You have a mission-"
"Hepph," Naruto said, hands going up behind his head "I've got to train and find out-"
"NARUTO!" Tsuande yelled bolting out of her seat to lean forward, while the boy frowned, staring at her. Chest heaving and aware that more than a few males might just be ogling her chest she lowered herself back into her seat, scowling. She knew that if Naruto wasn't powerful, or she was so fond of him, there was no way he'd have been selected for this mission. He was just too stubborn.
"Please, Hokage-sama," Sakura said politely from her spot near the back, shooting Naruto a dark look "What's the mission?"
Sighing Tsuande composed herself for a moment then nodded continuing, glaring at Naruto daring him to interrupt her. "The Hidden Sand village believes it's found the location of Orochimaru's newest hideout. They've sent a five-man team to check it out, but...it would take them through our territory. Thus their council has asked that we send five of our own ninjas as support."
"Eh?" Naruto said then turned serious, hands falling to his sides.
Tsuande was pleased to see his reaction and she noted absently the intent look on Sakura's face. Continuing on she expanded much of what had been discussed with the Sand ninja's earlier, making it clear to the Leaf ninjas that no fighting among themselves would be tolerated. She had covered the same boring things in a hundred other briefings thus, she gave it almost in a mindless daze. Once finished she dismissed the sand ninja politely and then sure that they were gone she shifted her attention to the Konoha ninjas.
Steepling her fingers together she remained silent for several moments before speaking "This is a very serious mission. I don't expect all of you to return, so please don't take unnecessary risks." They were all silent and Tsuande stared hard at Shikamaru "The Sand have insisted on their own leader for this mission. Frankly I trust them about as far as the Thirds grandson could throw them, so I'm putting you in unofficially charge of your team. If this mission turns into a trap get our people out, preferably alive."
Nodding the black-haired boy shifted his body weight "Something's bothering me Hokage-sama, why us? Orochimaru is way out of our league."
Sighing, the woman leaned back in her seat and crossed her legs staring at them all thoughtfully before answering "The honest truth is you're the only ones available. This mission takes priority over any missions that I could give you and waiting for Jonin's or anyone else currently out on missions would waste valuable time."
"How troublesome." Shikamaru muttered, shoving his hands in his pockets. After a curt nod at the leader who ushered his regular teammates out of the office the buxom blond Hokage stood and walked around to lean against her desk and cross her arms once more.
Silence settled over the three of them, until Sakura finally broke it. "Why are you sending me Hokage-sama?"
"Because," Tsuande answered sweetly "You know the rote skills and have some on hand experience. But you need field experience Sakura-chan, this is a good chance. Besides, you wouldn't be able to focus if I kept you here knowing that Sasuke could be at the other end of this mission." The girl blushed and the Hokage smiled fondly before looking at Naruto who seemed lost in his own thoughts.
Suddenly he seemed to notice her attention and looked at her expectantly. The Hokage glanced at her apprentice who seemed to get the hint and discreetly slipped out of the office leaving the two of them alone. Satisfied Tsunade shifted her gaze back to the blond; she had to have this out with him now. "Naruto, do you know what it means to be Hokage?"
Startled the energetic blond stared at her for a moment before laughing "Of course I do! It means you're the best ninja and everybody acknowledges you."
Tsuande couldn't help but sigh. "Being Hokage isn't about just being the best or everybody acknowledging you." Seeing his frown she was reminded strongly of her younger brother for a moment, which despite her seriousness forced her to smile slightly "Being Hokage is about making tough choices Naruto, about doing what's right for everybody in the village."
"Naruto if you were made Hokage today, right this minute, what would be the first thing you'd do?" Tsuande asked resolved to the fact that she would have to guide him to the answer, despite how satisfying just turning him loose on an unexpecting village would be. The blond did seem to actually give her question serious consideration. That was a good sign; at least she thought it was he wasn't exactly the sharpest kunai in the pack after all.
Finally he snapped his fingers; beaming at her "I get it this is a test right?"
"To become Hokage! I knew I was close, but I should have known there'd be a test so...this it right? Right Granny Tsu-" his excited rambling was cut short however when Tsunade thumped him on the nose, sending him sailing across the room and into a wall. He remained in the impact crater for a moment then fell to the ground groaning. "Owww! What was that for!"
Tsuande snorted "You need to think before you speak...do you honestly think you're ready to become Hokage now?" Naruto sat up rubbing his nose as he tried to staunch the flow of blood, glaring at her darkly. Yes, Tsuande was reminded strongly of her brother and her lover at times, but there were other times where he reminded her of Jairya. Those usually were when she thumped him on the nose, which had become an undiscussed habit between them.
Once he was back on his feet and reasonably recovered she posed her question again and Naruto snorted, crossing his arms. The silence this time stretched on for a long time then finally when he answered Tsuande was rather pleased. "First...I'd have to figure out a way to keep the villagers safe I suppose. Then I'd have to work on the Hyuga Family about that seal because I gave my word...I'd have to keep searching for Orochimaru and Sasuke." He paused smiling brightly, hands behind his head, obviously pleased with his answers as well.
Nodding Tsuande crossed her arms once more, looking at the ground then back up at him after a few minutes "You could be Hokage Naruto, if you could actually think like that all the time. But you've got this selfish need, your promise to Sakura which is admirable, is the only thing that seems to be in your head. This village is damaged, it's holding together because everybody is pitching together. Every ninja that we have is either on defense all the time or out on a mission, every ninja but you. All you do Naruto is turn down missions that the village needs done, because you've selfishly obsessed about making Sakura happy."
"I..." Naruto paused then looked at her closely, his shoulders slumping while he lowered his head.
Tsuande shook her head, knowing that her tone had been harsher than she had meant it to be. But he had to understand and she could only take so much of this, the village needed him like all the other ninjas and he wasn't pulling his weight.
"I just...the old man Hokage..." Naruto stopped looking up at her, his blue eyes seeming to try and convey some silent meaning to her "I'm just trying...I'm sorry," he mumbled at last and lowered his eyes once more. Tsuande remained silent for several long minutes, stunned that he would actually mutter those words and grasp the lesson so clearly. Or at least seem to, she corrected herself. He did have a tendency to learn the wrong things from lessons he was taught. "I won't give up on Sasuke, or on stopping Orochimaru. I will protect this village...and everybody important to me." Naruto said softly then looked back up at her, gaze intent and serious "I promise."
Tsuande couldn't help but smile in fondness at him. "I know you won't and I'll make sure you keep that promise. Just remember that you have to help out more, no matter how stupid a mission seems. I promise anything I send you on is something the village needs done."
Seeing his mood moving into a more upbeat feeling she laughed, then stopped as a wicked smile crept across her face. This was one of those rare moments when Shizune was gone and had left only the personal bodyguards that everybody insisted the Hokage had to have. True there were seals to detect the use of Genjutsu and Ninjutsu, but they couldn't tell who was performing what ability. Her smile grew even wider and if she could have gotten away with it, she'd have rubbed her hands together in anticipation.
"Hey, hey! Granny Tsuande why are you smiling? Hey, what's so funny?" Naruto said looking slightly peeved at being left out of the joke and Tsuande couldn't help but smile even wider.
"Naruto, can you do me a huge favor?" Seeing his interest she continued, pleased with her plan "I'll buy you all the Ramen you can eat in an hour if you do."
"All the Ramen I can eat!" Naruto said incredulously then rubbed his hands together in a rather disturbing fashion. Tsuande chose to over look this however; she was rather fond of him after all. Crooking a finger so that he came closer, she lowered her voice and explained exactly what she wanted.
The apartment was relatively small and dark. It consisted mostly of a bedroom, a bathroom, a kitchen/living room and one spare bedroom that had been transformed into a practice area. It actually, despite how the outside looked, wasn't all that bad inside. Located in a more isolated area of the village, it seemed rather neglected and uncared for, much like its owner. Naruto had discovered the place after running away from his last set of foster parents, well it wasn't so much that he ran away as they had kicked him out and threatened him with bodily harm.
The blond ninja in question was currently sprawled out on his sagging couch, his ninja supplies packed and his food carefully selected. He wasn't about to forget food, especially the ever-ready packs of Ramen. Smiling he placed his hands behind his head, considering the events of the day. This mission was big, bigger than anything he had tried on his own and he was slightly nervous.
He remembered his time in the academy, how he had always managed to mess something up and despite the various missions he had been on since then that fear continued to lurk within his heart. He didn't want to mess up, he knew that he was running out of chances to find Sasuke. Thinking about that he turned his thoughts to Tsuande. Everything she had said to him in private made him feel guilty, all this time of dreaming of being Hokage he had never considered what the actual meaning behind the title meant. He understood it of course and he also understood her implied instructions about 'making tough choices and doing whats right for other people'.
After this mission he would have to readjust his priorties. There was no doubt about it, yes he would still bring Sasuke back...but he had to make the hard choice of putting the village first. It was, he realized, a very mature thing to do and he felt proud about making it. He would be Hokage someday, everybody would acknowledge him and he'd protect this village and everybody that lived here.
Sakura would, well she'd be married to Sasuke. That was something else that was bothering him. He still liked Sakura, still wanted to date her, but now...he was accepting that she wasn't going to be with him. It was a very painful realization, one that he didn't like making. He kept it buried deep in his heart most of the time, pretending like always. He was very good at pretending, nobody could beat him at it.
Sighing he closed his eyes, forcing the familar pains back into the recesses of his mind. Instead he thought about the fun he had had helping old lay Tsuande make good her escape. Oh, he knew that he would be yelled at by Shizune when he came back, but it had still been fun. His mass replication had provided the cover, allowing two transformations to take place unnoticed. One Naruto had become Tsuande and one Tsuande had become a Naruto. After that it had been easy to sneak out of the office and into the busy streets with all twenty of his clones.
He wouldn't have done it if she hadn't offered to buy him all the ramen he could eat, unfortunately she hadn't known just how much he could eat and thus, her entire escape for a bar and casino had been pointless since she had had to spend all of her money to pay for his meals. Still, she had escaped and she as happy about that and the few hours she would have free of all the tedious paperwork she was forced to do, which Naruto completely understood.
He was already planning his own ways too escape when he to became a Hokage.
Stifling a yawn he snuggled into the sagging couch, he really should get up and go to bed. But he was so comfortable and he would be up in a few hours and have to come back down here, so maybe he should stay where he was at. It seemed like the wisest course of action, no use wasting energy after all since he was going to be on a long mission and it was going to be with five people that he didn't particularly care for or trust. Without even realizing it he had drifted off to sleep, his face innocent and snores echoing through the empty apartment.
The dark clothed ninja crouched down, hands pressed against each side of the window and balls of the feet just below the windowsill. Slate colored eyes watched in silence as the thirteen year old girl changed clothes and prepared for bed, he studied every feature of the room and the occupant that he could cataloging it away for future reference. Then nodding to himself he watched as the girl picked up a picture for a moment, then once she had replaced it and climbed into bed turning off the light, he eased himself upright.
Defying gravity with his feet placed firmly against the side of the building he frowned before pushing off noiselessly, performing a back flip to rebound upward heading for the roof of the building. Landing in a crouch he produced a kunai with barely a whisper of movement. Scanning his surroundings he snorted and stood, strolling across the roof to the edge where he paused staring down into the alley.
Silently he leaped across the expanse, moving along the rooftops putting more room between him and the buildings with each passing second. Twenty rooftops away he paused and crouched down once more, within a few feet of the surrounding walls of the village and guarding ninjas. Performing the hand symbol of an owl to mold the required Chakra he whispered his intent "Yoru bijon."
Suddenly the dimness of the moonlit night was replaced with colors as if the entire world was suddenly bathed in sunlight. Smirking he scanned the wall noting the ninjas, then continued on, keeping an eye on the wall as he went. Satisfied he turned away from the outer row of homes and blinked, releasing the technique. Picking up speed he darted from roof to roof till he reached a moderately nice building and landed without a noise on the balcony, kunai still in hand.
Cautiously he moved toward the dark glass of the sliding doors and tapped three times with the weapon. Seconds later he was greeted with four rapid taps and he nodded, rapping an answer out quickly. He moved back slightly, weapon held up in front of him as the door slid open fractionally to reveal a sliver of a dark apartment. Then when it slid open even more he eased inside, not letting his guard down till the door was closed and he found himself crouching among his comrades.
There to the right was Temari, the annoyingly smug fan girl, and her asshole of a puppeteer brother Kankuro. Behind them, hidden in the darkness of the apartment stood the unmoving Gaara and to the left crouched Baki, their team leader.
"Well Sogetsu?" Baki whispered, his unhidden eye studying him closely.
"They're undermanned, like our spies told us," Sogetsu answered softly adjusting his weight on the balls of his feet, aware of the monster Gaara staring at him. "As for this 'team' that woman's sending with us, they're all just rookies that are marginally skilled, like you said."
"What about that pink haired bitch?" Kankuro asked sneeringly and Sogetsu smirked.
Baki nodded his face turning serious "Yes, what about this Sakura and Naruto?" At the mention of those names the room grew somber and Sogetsu was almost reluctant to explain. Glancing up into the narrowing eyes of Gaara he looked back at Baki quickly obviously terrified.
"I watched them after the meeting; apparently Naruto helped the Hokage sneak out of her office. Anyway Sakura and Naruto do seem to be close. They talked for a few minutes after she had berated him for sneaking the Hokage out, and he reaffirmed some sort of 'lifetime promise' to her." Sogetsu stopped and shrugged "What it was about I'm not sure, but after that they went to a Ramen shop to eat. They didn't leave until the sun started to set; they talked for a few more minutes about inane topics with Sakura hitting him over the head eventually. I followed the girl since we seemed to have enough information about the boy."
"Are they a couple," Temari asked quickly and then seemed startled at her seeming eagerness to know.
"No, good friends I would hazard." Sogetsu answered offhandedly, more intent on giving all the information that he could before he forgot it. "Sakura when she got home practiced some Taijutsu and Genjutsu and even a few ninjutsus, but nothing spectacular. But we know from our few spies she's been studying under the Hokage who's the famous medical Sannin, so...it makes sense she'd only practice some simple jutsu's."
Silence settled over them, not that it seemed to matter. Then finally Baki settled back on his haunches, his voice thoughtful "Nothing changes then,"
"Are we sure that this Naruto is-" Sogetsu started to respond, only to be cut off by the harsh voice of Gaara.
"Temari," Baki said quickly to keep silence from settling over them "Don't fail." The blonde fifteen year old girl nodded curtly, not saying anything as she thoughtfully fingered the side of her large fan. The sand Jonin closed his eyes in thought, leaving the others to settle in for the night.
All save one, Gaara remained wide awake and waiting.
Welcome to 'Naruto: Brothers of Leaf and Sand', my first Naruto fanfiction, inspired by Lackey H. I know that with so many wonderful authros already writing fics here that this storymight have been done before. I hope that if nothing else I might be able to enterain you, if not that at least maybe you can enterain me. As long as somebodies enterained, its a success.
Normally I'd have written a few shorter fics (I call them ficlets, meaning anything short enough to not need another chapter) but I'm sadly lacking such ideas. More importantly however is understanding that for my stories/fics/whatever, I come up with a plot first and then add relationships and etc later. I never write unless I have some story to tell. As long as we all understand that, we'll get along great.
Now then, concerning reviews. I know many authors ask nicly for them, some demand, some don't care...I have a unique view point in the matter. Simply put: Leave one if you feel like it. Critism is accepted happily, so is praise, and flames are also accepted since I never pay my heating bill and thus use my laughter over the stupidity of flamers to keep warm. ) Now if you can accept we'll get along. I do however, ask that if you must leave a flame that you keep it rather short as I loose interest quickly in idiocey.
All of that being said let me address the timeframe for when this fic takes place. It roughly takes place after the Episodes of the Anime where Naruto, Lee, Neji and Tenten have went to that village. From there on its AU, since the show is still running and future episodes will render this fic void. As for the Manga, I know its much further along, matter of fact I have been keeping up with it, so for this...consider it an unseen chapter of the manga before the two year time span.
Now, all of that being said ((I trust you all to know that the typical disclaimer would apply to this fic: I.e. I own none of the charactes, except Sogetsu who I trot out whenever I need a ready made character, so if by some off chance you own Naruto don't sue.)) I hope everybody enjoys themsleves and finds this at least mildy enteraining and a special thanks go out to Wandering Druid who gave this a once over for me.
(On a personal note, I'm feeling rather old now. I can remember way back when my introductions/AN's were little more than: 'If ya don't like it go write your own'. Good lord, whatever happened to those days? Oh well, that's it...you can go now...Honest.)
(Really, you can stop reading now.)
(I'm not joking, your free to stop reading.)
(Just leave a review already! Yeesh.)