Authors Note: This story takes place a few days after Naruto and company have rescued Gaara and returned from the Sand Village. And for those who don't know, nindo means Ninja Way, or way of the ninja.
"Look kid, you don't really-"
"Look old woman," Naruto growled, standing up and leaning over the Hokage's desk, "I'm going after Sasuke, and you aren't going to stop me!"
Next to him, Sakura sighed and placed her head into her hands, she knew that this wasn't going to be pleasant.
Tsunade narrowed her eyes, "Look kid, you aren't going after Sasuke anymore."
"Why not, dammit!"
"Cause I said so, now get out of here, before I throw you out."
The two of them stared at each other long and hard, neither of them relenting. This went on for longer than a minute, and Sakura quickly became afraid that her master really was going to have to throw Naruto out. Her fears were settled however, as Naruto quickly turned on his heel and stalked out the door, muttering unpleasant things the whole way.
He pushed through the doors roughly, startling the new ANBU officer in charge of guarding the Hokages door. He walked down the halls, ignoring the many people going about their jobs, and the looks they gave him. None of that mattered to him, as he was already formulating a plan in his mind. He would go to the bridge in the Grass country, whether the old woman wanted him to or not. He didn't take time to think on why she would forbid him from going after Sasuke, only that she had done it, and it pissed him off.
He barely noticed the tall, white haired figure leaning against the corner as he passed it.
"Hey kid, what's got your panties all in a twist?" The familiar voice interrupted his train of thought, just as he was starting to imagine himself returning home with Sasuke and rubbing it in Tsunade's face. He looked over his shoulder to see Jiraiya, self-proclaimed super pervert, and his master.
"Ero-sennin," He drawled out, "what are you doing here?"
"Hey, hey," the old man chuckled as he approached his young student, "What's with that look in your eyes? No love for your Master?"
Naruto said nothing, and just continued walking, continued planning. He knew Jiraiya was following him, he just didn't care.
"Guess Tsunade gave you the bad news, huh?" The toad hermit asked in a more serious tone.
Naruto nodded, "She didn't seem to think it was bad news."
"Heh, don't let Tsunade fool you, she's as pissed about this as you are." That got Naruto's attention, he looked up at his Sensei with a questioning face. Jiraiya continued, "Yeah, I guess she decided it was best not to tell you. You see…" He stopped and looked around at the various ninja going about their business in the Hokage's tower. "Come on, let's go this way." He grabbed his young student by the arm and dragged him into an empty, rarely used stairwell. The two of them began descending the stairs at a leisurely pace as Jiraiya continued talking. "You see, the Hokage isn't the only one in charge of this village, she has help from a council of old, wise ninjas. Their general purpose is to help the Hokage with any decision making, specifically with things that deal with war. But, they also have special powers, one of which is to veto certain decisions the Hokage makes."
"Ve…toe?" Naruto asked, scratching the back of his head.
Jiraiya sighed. "It means they can override some of her decisions."
"Oh, right… I knew that." Naruto said, nodding.
Jiraiya shook his head, but continued on. "So far, the council and Tsunade have had no problems together. In fact, since many of the people on the council used to be good friends with the Third, they supported Tsunade in every move."
"Okay, I get it, but what does that have to do with me?" Naruto asked, growing impatient as they neared the bottom of the stairs.
Jiraiya slapped him on the side of the head. "Stop interrupting your Sensei when he's speaking, fool. As I was saying, the council and Tsunade didn't have problems with each other in the past, but now some of them have retired or died and left an old war hawk named Danzou in the lead chair."
"Danzou?" Naruto questioned as the two of them stopped at the end of the stairs.
"Yeah, and unfortunately he's not your biggest fan."
Naruto cocked his head to the side in question, "Why not?"
Jiraiya raised his eyebrows, "Why do you think?"
Naruto sighed, "…Kyuubi?"
"Exactly. He thinks that, as the container of Kyuubi, you are to be nothing but a weapon to use in war."
Naruto's fist clenched, "What does me being a weapon have to do with rescuing Sasuke?"
Jiraiya shrugged, "I'm not sure. Probably a form of control, you want to rescue Sasuke, so he isn't going to give you what you want."
"So it wasn't grandma after all, it was all this Danzou guy?"
"So then all I have to do is kick his ass?"
Jiraiya shook his head, but smiled, "That's a very bad idea. Danzou has most of the council on his side now, and his own special division in ANBU. Plus, if you attacked him it would probably be used as an excuse to keep you from going on any missions at all, whether they include Sasuke or not."
Naruto remained quiet for a few minutes as the two of them stood at the base of the stairs. Jiraiya was worried, whenever Naruto was in a bad mood, he always did something irrational, like utilize his Kyuubi chakra to dangerous levels.
"Look, Naruto," Jiraiya said in a quiet tone, "Don't worry about it, just do the missions Tsunade gives you and don't bother with this Danzou stuff, it'll probably all blow over in a few months or so." He knew it wasn't true. Danzou was actually quite a big threat at the moment, but he needed to tell the kid whatever he could to keep him calm.
Naruto remained quiet with a serious look on his face. Jiraiya opened his mouth to say something else, but was cut off. "Five months."
Jiraiya looked at the young blonde quizzically, "What?"
"I have five months left to rescue Sasuke from Orochimaru. Akatsuki is still after me, and now my own village is working against me. And I only have five months." Naruto gave his sensei a serious look, a look that Jiraiya wasn't used to seeing even after 2 and a half years with the kid.
"Don't worry, Naruto," The old man said, placing his hand on the blonde's head and ruffling his hair. A move that made him more mad, yet smile at the same time. "If all this crap isn't over in four months, you, me and that pink haired girl can go straight to Orochimarus place and kick the front door in, Tsunade be damned."
Naruto just nodded. Sensing that the conversation was over he turned and exited the stairwell, and left the Hokage's tower, leaving Jiraiya alone.
The old man ran a hand through his spiky hair. That was easier than I thought. He turned and looked back up the stairs. Now I just have to deal with Tsunade.
Naruto finally stepped out of the Hokage's tower and into the sunny and warm streets of Konoha. Usually he loved the weather of Konoha. During his travels with Jiraiya, he had been to many different countries and villages, and out of all of them he still thought Konoha had the best weather. That didn't matter to him now. He had too much to think about, which was an unusual feeling for him. It really made his head hurt. And on top of that he was just plain mad.
All he wanted to do was fulfill his promise, yet it kept getting harder and harder. It was times like these that made him want to forget about his nindo, but then he would imagine Sakura's face when she found out that Orochimaru had taken Sasuke's body and it all became easier. He wouldn't give up and he wouldn't go back on his word. Just thinking those words relieved some of the pressure from his head and lightened his heart.
He lifted his head and some of the gloom disappeared from his face, allowing for a small foxy grin. He reached into his pocket and searched for his wallet, he pulled out the full frog and grinned even wider. Just enough to treat himself to ramen at Ichirakus, that always helped when he was in a bad mood.
And so, in a slightly less bad mood, Naruto turned down a familiar street and headed to the old ramen stand.
"That damn bastard! I can't believe he's doing this! That kid probably hates me now, and it's his fault! What's his problem anyway!-"
Jiraiya sat bored in front of Tsunade's desk as she paced around her office, ranting and raving. Usually when she was in such a mood, Jiraiya could be found cowering in a corner, but thankfully her anger wasn't directed at him. So instead of being scared, he was bored, as she continually cussed and spat and raved about Danzou.
"-He's lucky he's so old, or I would kick his ass so hard!-"
At first, Jiraiya had tried to entertain himself by watching Tsunade's breast bounce around as she paced her room, but even that got boring to the pervert after a while. Not only that, but there was always the chance that she would catch him looking, and then he would be scared.
"-Dammit! I just hope Sakura calms him down!-"
Oh, he had tried to tell her that Naruto didn't blame her anymore, that he didn't hate her, but she was too busy cursing Danzou's name to pay attention.
"I'm the damn Hokage! What gives him the right to undermine my position!-"
The sound of movement caught Jiraiya's attention. He turned his head to look at the fallen ANBU member at the entrance to Tsunade's office. He was obviously new to the job, as any seasoned ANBU member knew to never interrupt the Hokage while she was in one of her moods.
Poor guy. Jiraiya thought, wincing as the image of what had happened to him ran through his mind yet again. He'll be lucky if he can continue to be a ninja, or even a full man.
"-I'm not kidding! I'm going to shove my foot so far up his ass-"
A sneeze outside the door interrupted her. The door opened and Shizune, the only one who could interrupt the Hokage without suffering the repercussions, poked her head in. "Excuse me, Hokage-sama, but Danzou-san is here to see you."
"Ah! Ramen really is good for you!" Naruto said, leaning back on his stool and patting his full stomach. Ayame, the ramen girl, giggled at him as she took his fourth bowl away to be washed.
"Naruto, I knew I'd find you here."
The blonde swiveled around on his stool and saw Sakura standing in the entryway. "Oh, hey Sakura-chan. Did you come to get some ramen?"
Sakura shook her head and sat down at the stool next to him. "No, I came to give you our mission statement." She said, handing out a scroll with a letter 'C' on it.
"Mission?" Naruto asked, taking the scroll and slowly opening it, waiting for an explanation.
"Yeah, Tsunade-shishou decided to give us this mission, since we can't go after … Sasuke." She finished off sadly.
Naruto looked up from the scroll and gave Sakura his most optimistic grin. "Don't worry Sakura-chan. we'll still get Sasuke back, I promise."
Sakura smiled, "Rea- Really? You're not mad, or anything?"
"Of course I'm mad, but I don't care what old lady Tsunade says, I'll do anything to keep my promise to you, and get back our friend."
The stand went quiet for a minute as Naruto looked over the scroll, Sakura said nothing, she knew she shouldn't be surprised by Naruto's optimistic attitude after all these years but she couldn't help it.
"This mission is just for the two of us? No Kakashi?" Naruto broke the silence, bringing his teammate out of her thoughts.
She nodded. "He's still recovering at the hospital, so it'll be just the two of us."
Naruto continued reading. "A small village complaining about missing cattle? How is this a 'C' rank mission? Sounds more like a 'D' to me."
"Well, we have to travel to the village, so there's a chance that we could encounter something, I guess. It doesn't really matter, if the mission is mis-ranked then that just means we get paid more for less work."
Naruto handed the scroll back to Sakura. "Well, I guess we should get going."
"Yeah, but I am kind of hungry." She paused, "You know…you did say you would buy me ramen that one time."
Naruto had to think of the time when he had actually volunteered to buy ramen for somebody else, and when it came to him, he couldn't keep the enthusiastic smile off his face, "You mean our date? Yeah, that did get interrupted." He quickly pulled out his wallet, hoping to buy the ramen before Sakura could change her mind. Unfortunately, the empty frog revealed that he had already spent all of his money on himself.
Sakura looked at the empty wallet, then looked up to Naruto's stricken face. "Well, I guess I'll just get something from home. Meet me at the north gate in an hour." She got up and left the stand, leaving Naruto in the same position, staring stricken at his empty wallet.