Chapter One: A Hero to the Village of Konoha

Today was unlike any other day in Konoha, with the possible exception of the inauguration of the last Hokage. The entire town had shown up to see if the rumors were true, and to hear the truth from the ruling council. The air was thick with anticipation as the tall, attractive blonde approached the balcony. Tsunade cleared her throat.

"I wish to announce that Uchiha Sasuke has successfully completed the undercover mission he was assigned ten years ago. He has returned to the village and has provided us with valuable information which we believe will bring the undoing of Orochimaru! Uchiha Sasuke is today to be recognized not only as a citizen in good standing but also as a hero to the village of Konoha!"

The majority of the crowd errupted into cheers. The older jounin of the village gave Tsunade resigned, knowing glances. Sakura fainted and Hinata had to catch her. Naruto was jumping up and down with a mixture of excitement at the return of his friend, anger at not having been informed about the undercover mission, and jealousy as hearing Sasuke called a hero. Ino was staring at Tsunade with a mixture of guilt and delight, while gripping Chouji's right hand, hard. Chouji, indignant, fumbled with his left hand in his pocket in search of a candy bar. Amid all the fuss in the crowd, Tsunade's attention was on only one person, who was acting in a very uncharacteristic way, but whose reaction was exactly as Tsunade had predicted. Shikamaru was staring directly into her eyes with a look that clearly read, "We'll talk about this later."