Don't hurt me! I finally got the new chapter out so enjoy it! Sorry that it's taken so long, I kinda hit a writers block. I was thinking about the pairings for this...might be adding a third wheel to the NarutoxIno angle...dunno yet. Anyway, read and review! I promise the next chapter won't take as long to get out as this one.
Disclaimer no Jutsu: I don't own Naruto, but I do own the plot! Don't use my Narutoverse without my permission, please?
Chapter: Fire and Sand, The Gathering
"So Kakashi-sensei...why are we going to Hidden Sand again?" the blonde asked.
"Like I told you at the Hokage Tower, to chase down Mizuki." the Jounin replied.
"I still can't believe he took off like that, didn't he know ANBU would be after him?" the blonde konoichi asked. The trio had left Konoha as soon as Kakashi's meeting with the Hokage was over. It shocked them all that their first mission would be A-Class, but the Jounin was sure something was going on that he wasn't aware of; especially since the Hokage had paid for the mission out of his own funds.
"I knew there was something off about that guy ever since he was the teacher of my class at the Academy." Sasuke muttered mid-leap. Naruto leapt up beside him, his figure a blur. They had been traveling non-stop since they were out of the village and they were all badly winded, but Naruto still managed to keep the atmosphere light.
"Wow, if a head case like you says there's something wrong with the guy then we'd all better watch out." he snickered. Sasuke just glared and grunted.
"Hey, Naruto. You have to be nice to Sasuke-kun now, remember? You totally lost that bet!" Ino declared as she caught up with the rest of them. "Did you know that, Sasuke-kun? He has to call you 'Sasuke-domo' now!" the girl declared with hearts in her eyes. The other blonde almost fell out of a tree in shock.
"Actually, Naruto did win." the Jounin said casually, saving the blonde samurai. Seeing both blonde's confused expressions, he elaborated. "Naruto was the first one to catch me off-guard and like you three said, it was his plan. If he really wanted to kill me, I wouldn't be here. So, he won...technically." Naruto could barely contain his excitement.
"Hell yeah! You owe me dinner Ino." Naruto said with a foxy grin. Sasuke rolled his eyes and picked up the pace, pulling away from the group.
"Sasuke-kun, wait up! See what you did, Naruto? You made him mad for some reason!" she accused before leaping off, trying to catch up with the Uchiha. Naruto gritted his teeth but didn't try to follow. Kakashi frowned when he saw the boy's expression.
"You know, sometimes a girl doesn't see..." Kakashi started. Naruto chuckled bitterly.
"Save it, someone already gave me the 'happiness is usually right under someone's nose but they don't see it' speech. I'm really starting to wonder if she's worth it..." he thought for a moment before sighing. "I wouldn't care so much if the bastard actually cared about her, but he doesn't. She's just going to end up getting hurt and I can't do anything about it." he said as he looked ahead at the pair ahead of him. Kakashi absorbed this and his eye noticeably sagged.
"I guess. There is a way you can get her attention, make her see you in another light. You do have a 'date' with her, right? I'll give you two some time off once we get to Hidden Sand so you can have a good time." the Jounin said with his usual lazy/happy tone.
"…thanks Kakashi-sensei." the boy said to the Jounin. The older man smiled at the thanks. "Who would have thought a pervert like you could give sound love advice? Will wonders never cease!" the boy exclaimed as he caught up with his teammates. Kakashi grimaced and glanced down at his 'reading material'.
"What does he know…now, back to my Icha Icha! 'The blue-haired girl walked up to the tall woman, blushing as she ran her gaze over her toned body…'" Kakashi giggled like a school girl as the odd collection of ninja quickly made their way to the lands of the sand…
"…that is my final offer."
"No way...15000...no less...
"….half of that….have we...deal?"
"What the heck are those two talking about?" asked a blonde-haired girl. Her and a young boy were standing outside of the Kazekages' door trying to eavesdrop on the muffled conversation.
"How am I supposed to know? If we get caught we're going to be in trouble, Temari!" the boy whispered. He had a wrapped object strapped to his back and was wearing face paint. They both put their heads to the door and continued to listen.
"….yes, we have a deal. Have fun with your scroll, Kazekage-sama." came the voice from inside the office. The pair of sand-nins heard footsteps and hurriedly scurried from the door; they stood sagely to the side of the room trying to look like innocent twelve-year-olds. The silver-haired man that came through the door looked at the two in passing as he walked off. The pair let out twin breaths of relief.
"Ha, thought we were caught..." the boy said. The girls ego swelled for a moment as she struck a pose.
"Like that could happen! We are the number one Genin's in Hidden Sand, no way anyone could catch us spying." she exclaimed. They both were startled by the stray waves of sand that whipped up near them. The familiar feeling of dread welled up from there very souls as they watched the sand increase into a small sandstorm in the corner of the waiting room. They both shook involuntarily at the new visitor. A young redheaded boy stood where there was once a small whirlwind of sand; his cold eyes shifted to the other two ninja. Dark ringed eyes meet the two sand nins. He blinked then walked over to the door of the Kazekages' office with his arms crossed. Temari almost broke out into a sweat as she eyed the large gourd on the boys back.
"...we have an appointment, come." the boy commanded before disappearing into the Kazekages' office. The other two ninja let out the collective breath they were holding and followed him in. The Kazekage was sitting behind his desk looking over a very large scroll, grinning like an idiot. He was completely unaware of three ninja now standing inside of his office.
"...so, that's why he's unbalanced..." At a cough from in front of his desk, the Kazekage looked up from the scroll. His children were standing there, two of them frightened and one of them staring at him with blank eyes. Not for much longer...
"Ah, you all have arrived right on time, excellent. How are you all doing?" he asked. Two of the siblings blinked and looked over at the young redhead. His face was unreadable.
"Um...we're good, dad. You said you had a mission for us? " Temari asked. Kankuro was looking very confused at his point. Gaara sill just stood there with his vacant stare. Even the Kazekage shifted uneasily in his chair. A Kage-level ninja does not let anyone know he has fears...even if one of them is the human container for the One-tailed Raccoon.
"Ah, yes. I did have a mission for you, but I'm canceling it as of now. Your new mission is only for one of you." he turned to Gaara. "Gaara...I have something I need you to do and it's very important to the survival of Hidden Sand." the seriousness in the Kazekage's voice made Temari and Kankuro straighten up, even Gaara raised an eyebrow.
"...and that would be?" Gaara asked with no emotion. The Kazekage quietly fumed. That brat! How dare he be so rude to me! Calm down...he won't be so smug for too much longer, oh no.
"A way to...increase your power. I have recently procured a scroll that will allow me to let you draw more of Shukaku's power. We can begin in a few hours." the Kazekage said. Temari and Kankuro were about to jump out of their skin. Gaara with even more power? That's not something that they wanted to ever see. The demon vessel in question silently pondered this opportunity. It could allow him to get more control over the crazed Tanuki, maybe even let him get some sleep. He slowly nodded much to the delight of the Kazekage and the terror of his siblings...
It was dark, the boy could tell that it wasn't his eyes failing. The only light came from several candles around the area, flickering in the darkness. He tried to sit up, to do something, but found some unknown source was holding him down. Now, he was never one to panic but even this boy was starting to get worried. He tried to tense his muscles, his hand, his leg, anything but it was as if his body was no longer his own.
"Calm down, it's just a jutsu that will restrain you in case something goes wrong." a voice said. The boy darted his eyes around, trying to see the person that was talking even though he knew who it was. He tried to say something in protest to the treatment but like the rest of his body he couldn't get his vocal cords to work. Sounds came to his ears, a low humming. His senses were still his own and he reached out with them, years of training and instinct coming into play. He could feel the massive about of Chakra being gathered, for what the boy didn't know. Slowly a figure made it's way over to him. The boy knew the person standing over him.
"My defenses won't allow you to kill me. Even if I was foolish enough to allow you to suppress my chakra, the sand will not allow you harm me. Already I can feel some control returning." the boy said in monotone. The man hovering above him smirked as he started gathering more chakra into his hands. As he did, the boy noticed hundreds of seals run in lines all over the room. Thousands of them all running into a single point: his stomach.
"Well then, I guess I'll have to do this quickly, right Gaara?" the Kazekage said as he rammed his glowing hand into the boys stomach; his bitter resolve to stay conscious only adding to the pain...
"And what is your business in Suna?" a gruff guard asked Team 7. They had just arrived in Hidden Sand when the sun started to wane in the sky. Kakashi had suggested they all get a room tonight and start the search in the morning. They were currently at the gates of the sandy city being confronted by a very gruff gate guard.
"We are on a diplomatic mission for the Hokage of Hidden Leaf. I have the official documents on me, want to see them?" Kakashi asked in his usual 'I-don't-give-a-crap' voice while reading his precious book. Luckily they had received an actual diplomatic mission to use as a cover to get into Hidden Sand. The guard looked over the paperwork and grudgingly approved. While Kakashi was getting directions to a good hotel, Naruto was taking the time to look around at the construction of the buildings.
"Wow, the buildings here are all the same color, it could fry your brain after awhile." the samurai said as he looked over at a multi-story complex. Sasuke was off to the side with Ino carrying on a one-sided conversation. Naruto gritted his teeth but before he could say anything Kakashi shuffled back over to them.
"Well, there's a place we can stay at the end of this street so we'll be there. Our...'diplomatic' mission will start tomorrow so I suggest you guys don't stay out too late." the Jounin said as he started reading again.
"That sounds good, Kakashi-sensei." Ino chirped happily from her place beside Sasuke. "Eh, I'm hungry though, lets get dinner!" she suggested as she smirked at the Uchiha; Sasuke just grunted. Naruto wasn't too happy with the prospect of spending more time watching Ino throw herself at Sasuke until Kakashi spoke up.
"Well, me and Sasuke can go get take-out or something; Ino, don't you owe Naruto a dinner?" the copy-nin said in a suprisingingly non-lazy tone. The blonde boy gave him a very thankful smile. Ino looked between Naruto and Sasuke and finally let out a sigh.
"Right, right. Come on, Naruto! Ramen I guess, right?" she asked. Naruto looked happy at the prospect but took a minute to think. Wait, wait, wait! Kakashi-sensei said to let her see me in a 'new light'. If we just go for Ramen she'll just see the usual me stuffing my face with Ramen so I've got to pick a regular restaurant...but that means giving up Ramen and that's never a good thing...but if I don't I might not ever get another chance with Ino-chan!
"Um, I was thinking of a more traditional dinner. Maybe a place in an actual building and not a open-air cart?" The rest of the group stared at the boy as if he had grown a second head. Shockingly, Sasuke was the first to speak up.
"Dobe...did you just turn down RAMEN?" the Uchiha said with more emotion than one would think he had in his entire body. Naruto was beginning to get uncomfortable being the center of attention, Kakashi even let his beloved 'Icha Icha Paradise' book slip from his grip and fall to the dusty street.
"It's not that big of a deal! Come on Ino-chan, let's go before these guys have a stroke or something." the boy said in a rush before grabbing the other blondes hand and running down the street; Ino was still too shocked to offer any protest. Kakashi and Sasuke watched the pair run down the street obviously having no idea on where to go to.
"So...I'm off. What are your plans, Sasuke?" the Jounin asked his student. Sasuke just grunted and walked off. "Well, at least I don't have to baby-sit anyone." Kakashi mumbled before heading off to the nearest bookstore to get word on the newest edition of Icha Icha Paradise.
"Unnnn..." Gaara's eyes blinked open. He was vertical and his wrists were sore. He took a quick glance around and found he was in a small room shackled to the wall. What the hell did father do to me? Last thing I remember was some sort of seal...then pain...wait, did I black out? How did they survive Shukaku! The demon takes complete control when I'm unconscious. He stopped his inner monolog for a moment and noticed something even more confusing than him being unconscious; for the first time since he was small, there was no psychotic voice in the back of his mind. I...can hear myself think. Father must have done something drastic to get Shukaku to shut up. Snapping him out of his trance, the door swung open and the small room flooded with light. Gaara narrowed his eyes at the sudden brightness and could only make out a shady figure standing in the door. As his vision got used to the light, he made out the trademark images of his siblings; Temari and Kankuro. Another figure pushed past them, it was their Jounin sensei, Baki.
"So, you're awake. Good, it makes this easier." Gaara noticed that his two siblings flinched but didn't say anything. They seemed to be looking anywhere but at Gaara. "Sabaku no Gaara, you are hereby condemned to death by the Kazekage for your crimes against the populous of Hidden Sand." Gaara didn't show any visible emotion but his mind was buzzing. "You will die tomorrow morning at first light. I'm sorry it's come to this, Gaara. The Kazekage is doing this for the good of the village, you know." Baki was trying to sound upset but anyone with half a brain could tell he was holding back his smugness.
"Really?" Gaara asked as he raised an eyebrow. "How many times in the past has the Kazekage tired to kill me?" the shackled redhead asked. His siblings seemed to be a bit shocked that their brother could say a full sentence but they were still somber and quiet.
"Oh, I don't think we'll have a problem with you now, not thanks to our recent...acquisition of a certain scroll. I'm sure you already notice the effects: your demon wasn't let out when you were unconscious should be the most glaring result. Thought you were smarter than that, Gaara?" Baki said with a smirk. Gaara had had enough of this cocky idiot. He willed his sand to simply crush the man and break his restraints...only nothing happened. He tried again to will his sand to go forth but again, nothing happened. Gaara's eyes went wide and he turned to the man who was now laughing. For the first time since he was a child, he felt fear.
"What did you do!" the boy yelled. Temari and Kankuro took a step back once they saw their brothers rage. They knew all too well what Gaara was capable of when he really looses it but Baki only laughed harder.
"I didn't do anything. The Kazekage mearly increased the points on your seal. Before, you only had a partial seal, that's why you were so...insane, that's the word. Anyway, now that you have a full 8-point seal on that demon of yours, you can't do anything with your sand in the way of defense since the demon no longer has any control over anything that you do, including your sentient sand. To sum up: you can now be killed." Baki said triumphantly. Temari and Kankuro grew wide-eyed and looked at their brother. They were waiting for their sensei to get crushed to death.
"So, that's what the scroll was in fathers' office?" the blonde girl asked. She seemed a bit worried still but was no longer radiating fear. Baki nodded to the pair.
"Yes. That scroll has all the secrets of Hidden Leaf including advanced sealing methods. Luckily we didn't have to do any sacrifices to kill this lunatic because the original seal was already anchored to him. All Kazekage-sama had to do is increase the amount of points on the seal and he's rendered helpless." Baki explained. The man seemed to get an idea and stuck his head out of the door to look for people nearby. After making sure no one was around, he turned back to the pair of sand nins. "You know, you've guys have had to deal with him for years, if you'd like I'll let you work him over for a bit before he's killed tomorrow." Gaara looked at his siblings. He expected them to beat him to within and inch of his life and mearly hung his head.
"...no, I don't think we will." Gaara lifted his head to look at his sister. She was fidgeting, but still had a resolute look in her eyes. "No matter what has happened...he's still our brother. He's going to die anyway, no need to make him go through this as well." Baki frowned but let it go. He turned to Gaara and smirked as he walked out the door.
"Fine, let's get going then. We do have a mission to do in the morning so I'm going to turn in. Crowd control for something as flashy as a public execution is going to be a pain. Maybe you two should go out to eat or something to celebrate?" he said as he was walking out the door. Kankuro looked back and Gaara before following him at a slow pace. Temari was about to head out as well, but Gaara spoke up.
"...thank you, Temari." the boy said as she passed through the door. She stiffened a bit but continued to walk, leaving the demon vessel to ponder his fate...
"Darn it, Naruto! How could you get us lost?" Ino huffed. The object of her ire had led them off down some nameless street in search of a meal. The blonde girl really didn't know why the boy was putting so much effort into this, it's not like he's never had anything to eat before! "Seriously, do you even have any idea where we're going?"
"Umm...nope!" he replied with a grin. Ino couldn't help but chuckle. That's just like him; rushing into a situation without any idea what he's getting into. She smiled mentally. The street they were walking on led to the massive Kazekage tower in the middle of the village. Once the team was inside of the village, Kakashi had ordered them all to take off their hitai-ate's to avoid any unnecessary complications; sand nins were known for their completeness with other villages. To the casual observer the pair would look normal even with the two swords that were tied around Naruto's waist. The pair had been wandering around for a good thirty minutes chatting as they went. The blonde boy was so wrapped up his conversation that he did not even see the other boy who he was about to run into until it was too late. Knocked off-balance, Naruto managed to keep upright but the other boy wasn't so lucky; he fell flat on his back.
"Hey! Watch were you're going!" the boy said as he picked himself up. Naruto studied his face for a moment. He had kabuki pain on that made him look like he was wearing a mask. He also had something wrapped up on his back. He was helped up by a girl, Naruto couldn't help but notice how pretty she was. She was a few years older than he was, maybe 14. Her hair was done up in a quad ponytail, something he had never seen before. She was wearing a light blue dress that was form-fitting, it was also trimmed in fishnet and a giant weapon strapped to her back seemed to frame her appearance. Ino looked over at her companion's glazed-over expression and frowned. I don't believe this, he's practically drooling over her! Jerk, he's out with me and he's doing something like that...wait, did I just say he was out with me? Hell no, this is just a bet thing! Mentally confirming this to herself, Ino nodded her head. Still, even if it's just a bet he shouldn't be undressing her with his eyes...
"Whoa, sorry about that." Naruto said once he tore his gaze away from the girl. He scratched the back of his head and hoped the twilight would cover up his faint blush. Wow! She's something else...wonder if this guy is her boyfriend? No! I'm out with Ino-chan, I can't be thinking about other girls! Bad Naruto! "Guess I should watch out for where I'm going, huh?" he asked with a grin. The other boy dusted himself off but didn't look too mad.
"Yeah, me too. Sorry about that." he said. The pair didn't seem too upset over the run-in, but they didn't seem very happy either. Naruto couldn't help but frown at the girls' sullen look.
"Um...you guys ok? You look really down." he asked. The fan-wielding blonde met the boy's gaze but clenched her eyes shut.
"We've...just had a bad day. Actually, we should get going, we're off to dinner. See you guys around." she said as she walked away from the group. The guy with face paint sighed and followed, but Naruto ran to catch up with them.
"You know, we were just going to get dinner ourselves, can we join you? We really don't know the place all that well, you know? It'll be my treat!" he asked. The sandy blonde looked at him with a confused face then looked to the other boy as if she was asking for his opinion. When he shrugged, she nodded her head and gave him a little smile.
"Yeah, we could use the company." she said. Naruto flashed a foxy smile before following the sandy blonde off, leaving a grateful face painted boy and quietly fuming Ino to follow.
You know, I like this chapter! It may not be that long, but it is one of the more important ones for the story. I really like a TemarixInoxNaruto love triangle! I think I've found the rhythm for this story, so expect more updates. Next time on 'Bushido no Jutsu', Temari and Kankuro sit in for dinner, I'm sure Ino will like that; there will also be another surprise, but I'll keep that a secret. See you next time!