by Fitzgerald

Chapter 11

Naruto heaved a sigh as he gazed at the massive pile of dirt before him. The results of three days of digging on top of the patrols to catch Jiraiya's niece peeping at the onsen had garnered Naruto a big and deep hole in the backyard of Temari's new house.

'Cause I doubt she'll want to keep me around when Temari finds out the truth,' Naruto thought sadly. 'Yet another kick to the ol' Uzumaki nuts. Well I can always find someplace to crash whenever she kicks me out, hopefully Iruka-sensei won't mind me staying with him for a few days.'

Clenching his shovel tightly Naruto shook his head like a dog shaking off water and said with a slight grin on his face. "Well I figured out something useful about Kage Bunshin and my favoured element so I gained something from this."

"Oy, you lot ready to start sinking the pillars?" Naruto called out to the bunshins down in the hole of what was to be a root cellar.

"Ready over here!" a pair of bunshin's called out in the left corner nearest the house.

Waving another team of bunshin's forward Naruto watched them slowly lower one of the prepared corner pillars into place.

Jiraiya had shown up yesterday and unsealed a whole pile of building supplies and strict instructions. Fortunately he understood Naruto and had painted the ends of the critical posts and beams so all Naruto had to do was match colour to colour.

As the pillar was secured into the hole dug for it Naruto stabbed the shovel into the dirt pile and grabbed the large mallet. He'd hammer the pillar into place while another few bunshins were preparing the quick set concrete.

'Thwack', Naruto imagined the kitsunes face as he swung and struck into the pillar of hardwood.

'Thwack', Temari proclaiming him a monster and wanting nothing to do with him.

'Thwack', Naruto looking on from the outside while another guy in a formal kimono was on stage with Temari.

'Thwack', Instead of a horde of blue-eyed blond haired brats spilling forth from the Academy after driving the Sensei's crazy Naruto was left looking on alone.

'Thwack', Everyone else had somebody but Naruto was alone and no doubt an old pervert like Jiraiya.

'Swing', Naruto paused at the lack of expected thwack of wood hitting wood as he pounded out his frustrations.

Looking up Naruto noticed Temari standing there with the mallet in hand and a set look on her face.

"Let the bunshin's finish up with that pillar, we need to talk," Temari stated before wrinkling her nose. "Wash up first though."

"Alright," Naruto said with a nod and noticed that not only was he dirt covered but he reeked of sweat.

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Washed up Naruto slipped on a clean t-shirt and pair of shorts, his other jumpsuits were drying in the laundry room and the one he had been wearing today was dirty as all get out.

Making his way slowly downstairs Naruto paused at the bottom of the stairs.

'I've been avoiding this for the last three days now, time to face up and tell Temari the truth,' Naruto thought to himself. 'I can't tell her after the ceremony.'

Temari glanced up at Naruto as he made his way into the kitchen and pulled up a seat across from her. The last three days had been difficult with both of them starting then suddenly stopping attempts at real conversation. They had spoken more on the mission than they had in the last three days alone together.

"Is there some reason you aren't talking with me, that you don't want me?" Temari asked using all her experience to keep the hurt from leaking through. She was effectively alone here in Konoha, scant weeks after Suna raided it, and here to fulfil a treaty marriage to keep the peace. Add to that she already had begun thinking of a future with Naruto, making the best of the situation, the silence between them had hurt.

"It's me that you won't want," Naruto said looking down as he clenched his fists. Then bringing his head up and staring into Temari with glowing blue eyes Naruto stated in a low but strong tone, "Gaara and me are alike. We both have."

"We both have monsters inside us," Naruto bit off. "Which is why you shouldn't want me around just like practically everyone does."

Temari just sat there stunned as she processed Naruto's statement, shock showing on her face. It made sense, after all the only other teen Temari knew with chakra reserves equal to Naruto's was Gaara. That second red chakra Naruto pulled out to summon Gamabunta, and fight Gaara. Why Gaara changed after fighting Naruto.

"The Kyuubi, that's why you henged Gamabunta into the Kyuubi," Temari answered as she put the pieces together. "Ichibi versus the Kyuubi."

"Yes," Naruto answered as he sat still, blood slowly flowing from his clenched fists.

Temari quickly ran through the way Naruto was treated, the gazes he got, and all the other details she had picked up from him this last while. "It doesn't press on you does it, the way Shukaku does Gaara."

Blinking at this Naruto paused at Temari's interested tone. "Ah no, well only if I get really, really pissed. Then I start drawing on it unconsciously. Otherwise I have to want to talk with it, and there's no way I want to do that unless I have too. I didn't even know about it until I graduated from the Academy."

"Idiot," Temari said suddenly in an affectionate tone, "you were worried about that. Gaara's infinitely scarier than you. That's why you've been avoiding me these last few days."

Shaking her head Temari stood up, grabbed a basin and started filling it with water. "Lets clean up your hands and bandage them up. It's not like the Yondaime Hokage decided to deliberately seal the Kyuubi in you as a weapon right. He just did it to protect the Village. By the way you fling kage bunshin about it gave you a substantial boost to your chakra."

Watching Temari wash and bandage his hands Naruto just sat there in shock, he had just told Temari something that still scared the crap out of him occasionally and she just brushed it off.

"Well I'm not the best at healing wounds, more like causing them but that should do for now," Temari said giving Naruto a broad grin as she finished bandaging his hands. "Come on lets go blow some cash and hit the cinema there's a stupid kung fu movie playing that should be fun."

Getting a goofy grin on his face Naruto examined the roughly bandaged palms of his hand and said, "Why not, lets get going Temari-chan!"

'Things are going to be all right,' Naruto thought, 'I was making a mountain out of a molehill there. Gaara's way scary than me, chibi-Naruto is much too cute to be anything other than attractive to Temari-chan.'

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"Naruto told me earlier this evening Jiraiya-sama," Temari answered as she ruffled Naruto's hair affectionately. "It explains a lot, but I know there's a difference between Naruto and the demon sealed in him."

"Good," Jiraiya said seriously. "I used doton jutsu's to tunnel out a secure room for your scrolls underneath this place. The access is through the pantry and I'll show both of you how to access it later. First though."

Jiraiya gestured for both Naruto and Temari to sit, letting a small smirk show as both unconsciously moved in closer together. They really did make a cute couple. It was just too bad he couldn't get Naruto into the Oiroke no Jutsu and have the two pose for him in some silky little numbers.

"This is an A class secret," Jiraiya stressed. "You can tell no one unless I give you permission. Kakashi already knows however, so if I'm not around talk to him."

Naruto nodded enthusiastically to show he understood while Temari acknowledged Jiraiya's orders with a narrowing of her eyes.

"An organization of S-class missing nins named Akatsuki is on the move. Among their plans and goals is a plan to capture and secure all nine bijuu. How and why they are planning on doing just such a thing I don't know yet," Jiraiya said stressing the last word. "But they've already successfully captured two Jinchuuriki and extracted the Biju sealed within them. Both Naruto and Gaara are on their list of targets."

Temari stiffened at this, both her younger brother and husband to be were targets of S-class missing nins. That they wanted to take the Biju and use them for some purpose was frightening. What was worse was that two men in her life were being targeted.

Feeling Temari's hand slip into his, Naruto gave it a light squeeze and was rewarded with Temari grasping his hand even tighter.

'Man I've already tangled with Orochimaru and he was just toying with Sasuke and me in the Forest. To face that level of a threat,' Naruto thought concerned. 'I need to improve and fast.'

"So when are we going to train Ero-Sennin," Naruto asked a fierce glimmer in his eyes. "I've got a long way to go if I'm going to be kicking their asses all over the place. Plus when are we going to tell Gaara about these guys."

"You don't back down do you brat. Do you have any idea of the gap between you and the members of Akatsuki is," Jiraiya stated in a mildly impressed tone. "So after you two have the big public hoopla making you an officially engaged couple we'll be going on a little training journey together, just the two of us."

"What about Temari-chan?" Naruto asked instantly.

"I got word your old Sensei and other delegates are arriving in town on the day of the ceremony, I'll have a brief for him to pass onto your brother," Jiraiya answered with a wave of his hands. "Plus with the general shortage of ninja right now Team Kakashi will be getting assigned to the Academy."

"Teaching," Temari said astonished. "They'll let me teach at your Academy?"

"Low risk mission with a good number of other Chuunin around," Jiraiya explained. "Besides which it's the best way for you to tap into the social network of ninja here in town."

Temari nodded at this as Naruto sat there trying to figure out just what Jiraiya was thinking of.

'He's right after all, I'll end up talking with various parents before and after class. A good number of whom will be either active or retired ninja. Academy teachers and medic nins after all are said to be the best-informed ninja of what's going on in town,' Temari contemplated Jiraiya's plan.

"Alright," Temari stated with a quick nod. Then her features turned fierce as she remembered just what they wanted her to say at the engagement ceremony.

"Iruka and Kakashi came up with a little something for the ceremony in question, no point in not spiffing it up a bit, and were inspired by the Wind Maidens. After all any student of mine has to have a fine appreciation for the dramatic," Jiraiya stated boldly as he rose to his feet and struck a pose. "The Gallant Jiraiya may find your pranks childish Naruto but at least you went for big, bold and dramatic ones!"

Opening the scroll Jiraiya tossed her Temari glanced through and a little evil smile of anticipation rose on her lips. The Wind Maidens after all had been a marital order of well, nuns, mikos and those women unwilling to bend to a man in Wind Country. None of the Maiden's who had married to secure alliances had gone as meek subservient brides, their pride wouldn't stand it, no they had gone as equals.

Even though Suna had mostly absorbed them and their traditions, Temari wasn't the only daiteseen wielder after all, the main temple still existed and with it certain traditional ceremonies. Her grandmother had sequestered herself away there over a decade ago shortly after Gaara's birth. This was an engagement ceremony Temari could perform gladly, there was no prostrating herself before Naruto and Konoha.

Yes the promise of heirs was still there, but for herself and Suna also. Pleased, Temari stated happily. "I'd kiss them for this, but since Naruto's already got two perverted role models."

Grabbing Naruto with both hands Temari dragged him onto her lap and started kissing him fiercely.

Slightly startled Naruto quickly began kissing back, opening his mouth to Temari's questing tongue and battling back with his own.

Hands moving hesitantly Naruto straddled Temari and hooked one hand behind her head and started running the other down her back in a slow caress.

Jiraiya just grinned pervertedly, 'Now that was kiss to write about. You're doing fine Naruto. Not to mention Temari will thank me after my month of additional training beyond the Rasengan.'

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Sasuke snorted as he watched the pervert fall for the trap they had set for her. Around the same time of day he had found her previously Naruto sent two kage bunshins, one of which had henged into imitating him, into the outdoor onsen. Shortly afterwards Naruto had bunshins henged into Neji and oddly enough the dead ice user Haku enter the onsen, all the while muttering about bishi's and traps.

Evidence, that apart from Temari, that his teammates were all perverts was provided when Sakura started to leak small amounts of blood from her nose as she whispered commands to Naruto. Commands Naruto thankfully refused due to the looks of disgust on his teammates face. Sasuke unfortunately had a good idea of just what Sakura was urging Naruto into doing, the down side of fan girls as they often left bits of their writings about.

So with the trap set Sasuke could only snort in amusement as the target slipped into a prime peeping spot and started giggling furiously. Unrolling the tag Naruto's occasional teacher Jiraiya had passed along to them, Sasuke nodded to Temari and got the go signal. Suppressing his chakra Sasuke felt Temari's jutsu take effect, letting him glide silently into position behind his target. Slapping the tag on her back and filling it with chakra he let a small smirk edge up, a Special Joûnin she shouldn't have been caught by Gênin, even if he was an Uchiha.

"You've been caught," Sasuke said confidently as the rest of his team joined him on the tree.

"Oy, oy don't even think of breaking the tag as Ero-Sennin made it himself just for you," Naruto stated clearly as he released the bunshins down in the springs. "Revenge for what you did to his perverted books."

"Come along quietly and take your punishment with dignity," Temari stated in a cold tone.

Tsune after glancing at Temari merely nodded, the trouble she'd be in was minor and more embarrassing than anything else. Likely a fine or two but an autographed copy of one her books would get her out of most trouble. Sasuke then quickly manacled Tsune with chakra suppressing cuffs that cut off her ability to mold chakra with her hands.

Sasuke removed the tag and the five of them moved out in formation with Tsune in between Sasuke and Naruto as they headed to the Hokage's tower. An epic fight it had not been, but all in all Sasuke was pleased with how things had gone. Fighting fair wasn't supposed to be in the Shinobi's handbook, something he had been forgetting lately. Hadn't that been one of the rules the Academy had drilled into them a single strike for victory.

Glancing over at Naruto Sasuke had to repress a snort of dismay, while he had been mastering the Academy lessons his teammate was mastering the lessons of surprise, deception, evasion and trickery. Yet for the most part except for the occasional application he had forgotten his hard won skills for acting like a Samurai of legend. Now if he could just harness Naruto's ability to prank and cause chaos, oh yes Itachi wouldn't know what had hit him.

"Why are you so happy," Naruto grumbled as they neared the Hokage tower.

"Just wondering why you're so foolish," Sasuke rebutted.

"Oh yah. Don't call me foolish."

"Why not when you so obviously are."

"So kawaiii!" was Tsune response as she stepped behind the two boys and copped a feel of both boys' behinds.

"Hey," was the shared shout of outrage from both boys as they turned and glared at their prisoner.

Before the street theatre could continue and before Tsune finished remarking quietly to Sakura "Woooh now if only those two would start making...'' Temari had grabbed the prisoner and started marching her back towards the Hokage's tower.

Sasuke merely snorted and continued on his way remarking quietly. "Your a fool for disregarding all those skills you developed pranking the village Naruto."

Struck by the remark Naruto sat there for a few moments before grapping Sakura who was standing there with a blank expression and a bit of blood leaking from her nose after them. Naruto however was grumbling under his breath about developing a version of his Oiroke no Jutsu to affect women perverts. Then about traps as well to get both in one fell swoop.

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After receiving her and Naruto's pay stub Temari let her mission mask drop as she turned about and smiled. Not smirked, snarled or with an air of genuine superiority, but smiled happily especially at Naruto. "Right everybody back to our place there's something I want to do as a team."

Sakura paused and began to indicate her refusal when a pleading look from Naruto caught her and she answered hesitantly, "Yes."

Sasuke however let out a positive sounding "Hnnn" and the foursome moved out through the streets of Konoha letting the summer sun beat down on them.

The normally quiet Sasuke, and loud Naruto were both engaged in silent thought as they made their way towards Naruto and Temari's house. Temari however was pleasantly chatting with her fellow kunoichi about the practical methods of using kunai in battle. Sakura unsurprisingly enough had read a lot, and from deeper sources beyond the usual academy texts.

"So who was correct Hattun or Irika's four rules of using kunai," Sakura asked in a polite but interested tone.

"Neither," Temari said after a moments thought. "Both assumed the user was male and a certain ideal height and reach. Namely themselves. Kizan's five rules are certainly practical enough though if you apply chakra, I usually follow his advice when in combat. Going for fatal instant kill blows when you don't have surprise is a waste."

"Limb strikes to disable and slow then opponent," Sakura said shortly after recalling the passage in question.

"Correct. That's where that weapons user, Tenten right?" Temari paused as she waited for Sakura to correct her or give her the affirmative. "Right she kept trying to engage me at a distance with her weapons when she would have been better off closing the distance and engaging in hand to hand combat."

After reflecting for a moment Temari added. "Not that would have helped I still would have won anyway, but she would have stood a better chance."

Sasuke decided to add his own thoughts to the conversation. "True your close combat skills aren't as strong as your distance skills."

Temari nodded at this and added. "Which is why I make sure to practice those skills with and without my fan. No need to make it a fatal weakness."

The foursome continued on in an amiable conversation about various Shinobi weapons, while the three of them did as Naruto remained quiet and thinking. That was until they entered the duo's new home and Temari gestured for Naruto to start laying the table as she began gathering the materials required for spiced pancakes together.

"Its an tradition I had with my old team. We'd all have spiced pancakes after a mission together before going off to relax individually," Temari said quietly as she moved quickly through practiced motions as she mixed batter.

"Definitely better than ramen," Sakura said quickly "Deserts are the greatest."

Frowning at the shockingly disrespect Sakura showed towards ramen Naruto was about to verbally disagree. However when he looked towards Temari and saw the shy, small but happy smile on her face Naruto kept quiet. So after a deep breath Naruto asked, "Milk alright for everybody?"

Taking the chorus of yeses and the "Hn" from Sasuke as approval Naruto poured everybody a glass as he watched Temari flip the pancakes skilfully about the grill. So much so that he didn't notice Sakura pull it out of his hands and begin mopping the spilt milk that came from his overflowing glass.

The sharp but pleasing scents of the pancakes as they were laid out in the centre of the table brought Naruto's attention back to the world as he sat down and Temari quickly served everyone. With butter slowly melting on them all four gave a heartfelt cry as they began to dig into the treat as one team.

The End For Now

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Author's Notes: Man it's nearly been a year. Well only a few more chapters left to go before I decide to wrap this fic up, I've decided on the direction I'm taking it in.

Other Naruto projects are currently on the pot however, and mostly up at Hawk's TFF.

These include

Yamazakura: Sword of the Wild Cherry Tree; The Fight at the Bridge goes really different. Sakura ends up sealed inside Zabuza's chakra sword wielded by Naruto, and changes roll on from there.

Flash of Orange; Naruto develops Shunpo from Bleach before graduating a year early from the Academy. He's fast, furious, and orange as ever and meeting a whole new team.

Mission Complete; Playing on the common fanon concept of Kakashi playing utter favorites whilst training Team 7; twist is I'm using a logical reason - Kakashi's just a lazy SOB, Naruto trains himself and Sakura up using seemingly ridiculous methods. Cliched yes, funny here's hoping, and using crazy Saotome style training.