-1I'm going to be completely honest here. I am not happy with the way this chapter came out. I hate the lack of scene changes and action. Yet, I had to get this out of the way. There were too many things I was keeping a secret that had to be let out. Trust me, there are still some good secrets and plot twists, so don't you worry about that.
In other news I gave Tenten a surname, how about that? Ichikawa literally translates to "first river." I will make use of the meaning of the name at a later point. Wondering where I got it from? Well, it has to do with the original legend from which Jiraiya and Tsunade come from. Its complicated, but it was as good as any other name. Yes, its a weak reason, but I can't just pull a name out of my… ahem.
After this the plot continues so to speak. More training, fighting and an unexpected mission coming soon!
Disclaimer: If you think I own Naruto you are a sad fool indeed. But I am sadder because alas, you are correct. Naruto and all characters, minus the few I create, are the sole property of the revered Kishimoto.
Tenten was at Naruto's side in an instant. In the back of her mind there was a voice telling her to shy away from the boy, that he was dangerous, but she pushed this thought aside, knowing that it was definitely not true. She was simply still dealing with the effects of the Tsukuyomi.
It was a good thing that Tenten had jumped out of her chair to run at Naruto, for at that exact instant he came tumbling down. As soon as he saw that Tenten was alive and well, he told himself that he could stop. Finally after a full day of running at full charge through the desert and through small shrubs with thorns that had torn his clothes to shreds, Naruto finally could stop.
Tenten caught Naruto before he could hit the ground. She was kneeling down holding his head in her lap, stroking his hair when Gaara and the rest of those present interrupted her.
"Tenten, let's get him to the hospital alright?" Temari was very calm as she said this. Although Naruto had the Kyuubi's chakra to help him, he looked exhausted, which was not normal for Naruto. Gaara agreed as he stood by his sister, looking down and the two Leaf ninja.
Shiro stepped up and tried to take Naruto out of Tenten's grip. At first she resisted, but after seeing the look in Shiro's eyes she understood that he only meant to help. So she followed Shiro, never letting go of Naruto's hand as Shiro carried the boy to the hospital.
She had been sitting at Naruto's bedside for two days now. Shiro had tried to get her to go out to eat with him a few times, but she insisted that Naruto needed her to stay there with him. Food was brought to her by the hospital staff whenever they checked up on the boy. She even slept in that same chair each night as she waited for Naruto to wake up.
During these quiet days she had time to reflect on all that had happened since she left Konoha. Her old team, Lee, Neji and Gai-sensei… it seemed like years had passed since she had seen any of them. Their group was by far one of the strangest, made so by Lee and Gai's antics day after day. One would think that Neji would bring some relief to the situation, but all he ever did was grunt at their stupidity and refuse to have anything to do with them outside of missions and training. True he had become a bit more open after the Chunnin Exams, but Tenten had not been around long enough to really see that side of him.
She wondered what would have happened is she had not gone on this mission. Where would she be right now? Would she still be running after the number one rookie in her class? True, many girls admired him for his skills, not to mention his good looks, but would anything have truly happened between them?
She had fallen asleep so many nights to the thoughts of a happy life with Neji. She dreamed about the day that he would drop the silent act and finally come clean with his feelings to her. It would be a wonderful day, she thought. He would get on one knee, flowers in one hand, the other hand holding her own as he admitted his love for her. Then on missions they would be inseparable. He would always look out for her and she would prove that she was tough as well. They would have made a great couple.
Tenten looked at the still form of the blond lying in front of her. She swept a few of his golden locks that had fallen into his face without his forehead protector to keep them out of his eyes. It had been six months since that fateful day that they left Konoha. He had not had his hair cut once since then and it was getting a bit longer. Not so long that he could tie it in a ponytail though. Tenten would not have allowed that. She laughed to herself at that thought. Still, his face and the way his hair hung in his face reminded her of someone. She just couldn't quite place her finger on it.
She knew deep, deep down that Neji would have never gotten down on one knee for her. He was too proud for that. Not to mention, but he probably never felt the same way for her as she had felt for him. Had? Did she say 'had'? 'Yes,' she pondered, 'we would have never worked and now I don't think I would have wanted it anyway. '
Tenten's mind was wandering yet again. She had been there when the nurses had cut the shirt off of the boy. She wasn't trying to watch, but it had just happened. At that time she had seen something that she had never noticed before. There was a massive scar in Naruto's chest, right above his heart. It scared her to think what could have made that. And why had she not seen it the many times he had his shirt off while they were swimming? Had he also been hiding something from her as she had been hiding from him?
She absentmindedly rubbed the scar that ran along her chest. Yes, at first it had alarmed her to discover that the same creature that did this to her at such a young age resided in Naruto, but she had reminded herself time and time again that though the Kyuubi lived in Naruto, Naruto was still not the Kyuubi. It would be stupid to even think that way, she figured. Naruto was far too kind and loving to hold that against him, especially, when she finally thought about it, it was done against his will.
His cute face was catching the last few rays of sunshine outside as they filtered through the windows. It illuminated his blonde hair and reminded her of how alive he could be. He seemed to spread that life and love of life to all of those around him as well. She just loved how he could bring a smile to her face no matter the circumstance. And how he would defend her at all costs. She loved his bright smile that he only showed to her. Not the stupid smile that he plastered on his face all the time to throw the world off from his true feelings, but the smile that she had seen when he was truly content with life. She may have only seen that smile a few scarce times, but she was determined to see it so many more times. She loved… she loved…
Tenten brought a hand to her mouth as she gasped involuntarily.
Her eyes quickly moved from surprise to affection as she once again used her right hand to cup Naruto's cheek. Using her thumb she gently rubbed the side of his face while staring down at him, so desperately wishing that he would wake up.
And then, he did.
It was subtle at first, so much so that Tenten did not realize it. Naruto's eyes began to flutter as he pressed his face farther against the warmth of Tenten's hand. She gasped yet again as she saw Naruto's eyes open once again to the world, squinting as he adjusted to the light in the room. She resisted the urge to throw herself on him and never let go. She didn't want to have to worry this much ever again. Instead she took a much more normal approach from her point of view.
Naruto caught Tenten's gaze. Naruto was a little dazed, but one sweep of his eyes around the room confirmed that he was indeed in a hospital once again. He spent so much time in these places, he thought. The first thing that came out of Naruto's mind undoubtedly is what broke the mood in the room.
"Man, I'm hungry. Ne, Tenten-chan, do you have any ramen?"
Tenten's eyes went from caring to violent in a split second. Curling her fingers into a fist, she hit Naruto on the top of the head with all of the vent up frustration she had been experiencing.
"Itai! Ten-chan what was that for? You shouldn't hurt a patient!"
"Well, you're already in the hospital so if I beat you, they can treat you right here."
Tenten then got an evil glint in her eyes as Naruto cowered in her wake. Just when he was sure that he was about to receive a beating that would rival Tsunade-oba-chan's he felt arms encircle him. Tenten was now on top of his bed, hugging Naruto with all of her strength. Granted this is not what Naruto had expected. Nor had he ever had a girl his age hug him. He wasn't sure what to do, so he kept his arms at his sides, where they had been previously. When Tenten didn't immediately release him, he figured it would be alright and encircled his own arms around the girl.
"Welcome back Naruto." Tenten whispered into his ear.
"Well guys, I had no idea. So when is the wedding?"
Naruto and Tenten's heads both shot in the direction of the voices as they jumped away from one another.. There in the doorway stood Team 8: Ino, Shikamaru and Chouji. It had been Ino that had broken their reunion.
"Chouji? Shikamaru? What are you guys doing here? Are we back in Konoha?" Naruto peered over Tenten's shoulder to get a glance out the window. Before he could see the miles of sand once again, Ino interrupted.
"Konoha? Baka, we're in Suna." Shifting her eyes over to Tenten who was still sitting on Naruto's bed, Ino said in a casual voice, "Well, too bad for Big Forehead. I was rooting for you two." She finished as she glanced back over to Naruto.
His eyes lit up in understanding. His face turned a bright shade of pink. Before he could answer though another figure appeared in the already full doorway.
"Shiro-sensei?" The two ninja on the bed looked up in questioning.
The newcomer turned his head to Team 8. "I need to speak to my students alone." Then looking at Ino he concluded, "Thank you again for your assistance. I am not sure what I… we would have done without you."
Ino smiled brightly. "Sure thing! But these boys were no help at all! Bye Tenten, Naruto!"
The three left to the grumbling of one lazy boy muttering under his breath, "Troublesome women."
Shiro looked at his two students. "Now, we need to talk."
A lone figure was sitting on the edge of the a tall building within the village. The sun was rising ever so slowly off in the distance. Sounds filled the still cool air as the village roared to life, attempting to get as many things done before the sun blazed harshly upon them. He stared at people as they bustled about: families, couples, children, he watched them all, trying to understand what he needed to do. His silent reverie was interrupted as the sound of footsteps hit the roof directly beside him.
Shiro sighed, "Must you call me that Shizune?"
"Oh? And why are you so grumpy this morning?" She sat down softly beside him, kicking her feet out over the edge of the roof.
She laughed. "And by nothing you mean everything."
Shiro took in a deep breath and sighed once more.
"They've grown since they left the village you know. Especially Naruto. He's almost as tall as me now."
Shiro peered over at her with squinted eyes. "That's not saying much now is it?"
Full of theatrics Shizune gasped and proclaimed, "Oh Shiro-kun. You are soooo mean!" Her face dropped, as did her voice as she plowed on though.
"They deserve to know… about their past. And yours Shiro-kun."
He grimaced at the last part, but nodded his head in understanding. "I know."
Changing the subject and her mood once more, Shizune leaned against Shiro's shoulder. He knew better than to resist and merely sat with her, watching the sun rise. The people continued to move about below them, but time stopped if just for a moment for the two road weary shinobi.
Shiro grabbed the seat that Tenten was obviously no longer using. Pulling it to the foot of the bed, he collapsed onto it, staring at the other two.
"How are you feeling Naruto?"
A big smile adorned the boy's face as he practically screamed, "Great!" He threw his hands into the air to emphasize his point, but as soon as he did, he felt a pulled muscle in his lower back. He grimaced as he rubbed the sore spot. "Well, better at least," he said, rubbing the back of his head with his other head as he grinned sheepishly.
Shiro cut to the chase right away.
"How did you escape?"
Naruto's face showed apprehension as he glanced over at Tenten.
"Kyuubi helped," he merely stated.
"Fine, we will talk about this later. Right now there is something more important." Shiro went silent after stating this, not knowing exactly where to start. Maybe the question was not where to start, but who to start with. Obviously his mind had wandered for too long when Naruto interjected quite loudly.
"Well?" He had his arms crossed. Next to him Tenten was waiting a little more patiently.
"I guess I will start with myself then."
The two teens were both silent now. They had spent many days of their training gossiping about their weird sensei, make conjectures about what he may have been like before they met him. It had been a good way to speed up the days, but they still knew very little about him. Though they both had agreed that he had to dye his hair. Those colors were just not natural.
Shiro breathed in deeply, bracing himself for the revelation that these two were about to receive. Doubtless they would all three walk out of this room as different people.
"First… I will speak and you will listen. No interrupting, no questions, no arguments. You can ask me whatever you wish after I am through. Do you two understand?"
His two students furtively nodded their heads in unison.
"Ok, This story I am about to tell begins thirteen years ago on October 10."
Hearing this Naruto grimaced. Tenten felt him tighten up, but she said nothing as she once again focused on her sensei. The date did sound somewhat familiar to her.
"I had just become a jounin a few days prior to this date. I was thirteen at the time (and very naïve, he added to himself) and had been called to the Hokage Tower to brief my team. We had been receiving reports the entire week about the giant nine-tailed fox tearing up the countryside. The lasted report had stated that he was on his way toward Konoha."
Naruto hung his head. He hated this story. Seeing his reaction, Tenten placed her hand over his and gave it a gentle squeeze. She wasn't sure exactly why she had done it, but Naruto smiling at her was worth it nonetheless.
"Konoha was a mess that day. Villagers did not know where to go and some people refused to leave their houses. It was chaos and right in the middle of it all, Kyuubi showed up. All of the jounin attacked in an attempt to defend the village. Looking back, it was a meaningless slaughter. Not until Yondaime showed up did we even slow the bastard down."
Shiro's let a small smile waver across his otherwise serious face.
"I was friends with the Yondaime. I was able to talk with him because Kakashi, Naruto's former sensei, and I were friends. After our teams began to train together more and more, Yondaime took a liking to me and treated me like a son. My parents had died years before in the line of duty, so he looked out for me when my nii-san couldn't. He was a funny guy, always creating stupid jutsus."
Shiro laughed to himself.
"He even created one that would keep his ramen warm.. Just in case."
"The Yondaime liked ramen?!" Naruto blurted out.
"Yes," he chuckled but then his face turned serious once again. "No more interruptions, ok?"
"Hai," Naruto gave a mock salute. Despite the retelling of the Kyuubi story, he was in high spirits after hearing this fascinating news about the fourth Hokage. Speaking of which, he would have to figure out this jutsu. It could come in very handy.
"As I was saying, the village was in an uproar and people were dying left and right. Yondaime summoned Gamabunta and was able to match up against the fox. However, not even the frog's strength and his own could match up to the demon's bloodlust and power. He had a back up plan though."
Shifting his eyes, Shiro stared sorrowfully at Naruto.
"The Yondaime had perfected a jutsu that allowed for a demon to be sealed into a human being. It had a few problems though, such as the fact that the human had to be an infant. Otherwise, the body's chakra system would reject the demon's chakra and the seal would be ineffective. A baby had to be used so that its body could grow and become resilient to the demonic chakra. Another side effect was the cost of the user's life."
Shiro looked grim at this point.
"Before the newborn could be brought forth though, the fox broke through the walls of Konoha. After a series of more unfortunate events, Kyuubi attacked and demolished a small weapons shop that was located on the outskirts of the village. I left the battle to look for survivors as quickly as possible, but only found a baby girl," his eyes drifted over to Tenten. She could see his eyes glassing over with unspent tears. "I picked her up and ran, my two team members alongside me. The Kyuubi attacked once more though, wounding myself, and killing my two friends."
Tenten was shocked. She had heard bits and pieces of what had happened , but she had never heard it all from an eyewitness. Then it hit her, Shiro, her sensei, was the reason she was alive today. She looked up at him and decided to ignore his command to keep quiet until he finished.
"Why? Why did you come and save me?"
Shiro could not avoid this any longer. It was time for the truth.
"It is true that many other places within the walls of Konoha were destroyed that fateful day. However, that shop was important. You see," Shiro paused and took a deep breath. "It was my nii-san's."
He then went silent and waited for Tenten to roll this information around in her head. Her face took on a look of puzzlement, then shock, and finally understanding. Tenten rose slowly from the bed. Her feet felt unsteady before her as she took the few steps over to where Shiro was sitting. He looked a little nervous, as if he didn't know whether to expect a hug or a slap. He was anticipating the latter. So naturally, it was with great surprise that Tenten wrapped him into a rather awkward hug, seeing as he was sitting down.
Naruto was still sitting on the bed when it finally hit him. His stuttering breath broke the silence.
"Ano, so Tenten is your… niece?"
Shiro shook his head. He was quite content to hold Tenten in his arms. He would have to tell her soon why he had abandoned her, but before he could Naruto interrupted the moment again.
"So," he slumped his head. "The baka fox killed your family too sensei." Sometimes having the fox inside of him was worse than other times. This was one of those times. He had grown used to the spite shown to him by many of the villagers, but what he could not stand was finding out that Kyuubi had killed more of his friend's family. It was a burden he hated to carry. Fortunately it seemed that he would not have to carry it alone.
Tenten moved slowly from Shiro and back to Naruto. He needed the support more than anyone right now. She laced her fingers within his own and looked into his eyes.
"Its not your fault you know."
"No, Naruto, you don't. Its not your fault."
"I'm fine," he sniffed.
"Its not your fault," Tenten persisted. Shiro stayed in the shadows for the time being.
"Damnit Tenten, stop it!" He tried to pull away, to recoil away and relish in his self-pity, but she would not allow it. She cupped his cheek with her free hand and pulled him back into her gaze.
"Its not your fault Naruto-kun."
"Stop it! I know damnit! Stop it now!"
"Naruto, its not your fault."
Now it was the boy's turn to break down and cry. Tenten's shoulder became the new residence for his tear soaked face and she held him like that until he finally did calm down. It took awhile, but Naruto hated crying. He finally pulled back from her, whispering a quiet 'Arigato' as he returned her gaze…
The two quickly blushed as they turned around to face the forgotten occupant.
"Now what did I say about interruptions?" His face stern at first, but he let the façade down and chuckled to himself. "I do not blame you either Naruto. But right now it is pertinent that I finish this story."
"One quick question," Tenten raised her hand in the air like a little girl asking a question. "Do I… we have any other family left?" Her face was hopeful as she looked at Shiro.
"Yes, but before I tell you who, wouldn't you like to hear a little more about our heritage?"
She quickly nodded her head, the excitement almost too much for her to stand.
"First off, let me say that we were a very powerful clan in our own rights before the coming of the Kyuubi. No, we do not have a blood limit or anything like that, but we have always been very proficient at taijutsu and weapons training. So much so that it some of our family members are scary."
"You may have heard of one of them…"
Naruto and Tenten were on the edge of the bed waiting as Shiro baited them.
Naruto's jaw dropped.
"He was your father's father's father. Making him your great grandfather. He specialized in Mokuton, wood techniques. He was one of the few in our family that did not specialize in taijutsu, but he more than made up for it, don't you think?"
Tenten's mind could not handle all of this information. Shiro-sensei was actually her long lost uncle; She had some other family left alive somewhere, Shiro still had not confirmed where though; she was a descendant of the First Hokage. Not to mention Naruto's secret that he had told her only days before. It was all too much to take in. Finally something in her mind snapped. An answer to a lifelong question was within her reach if only she could remember…
"Naruto, what was the First Hokage's name?" Tenten was frantic as she asked this, shaking his shoulders to emphasize the point.
Bopping him on the head, Tenten muttered a quick "Baka" as Shiro's voice stopped the wheels in her mind from turning.
Tenten breath caught in her chest.
"My real name is not Shiro Doragon, it is Ichikawa Shiro. As is your Ichikawa Tenten."
Naruto had always wondered about her last her name. He had thought it strange that she didn't have a family name, but it all made sense now. Reviewing everything in his mind, something caught his attention.
"So, if she is the First's great granddaughter, wouldn't that make her like a princess or something?"
Tenten turned back to Naruto, her face a nice crimson as she did so. Naruto elbowed her in the side.
"Ne, Tenten-hime?" Shiro even laughed at how red the girl had turned. Personally, she couldn't believe that Naruto had just called her that, but admittedly she liked it. 'Tenten-hime,' she could get used to that. Hime… Hime… that sounded familiar, like someone else she knew was called that. WAIT A MINUTE!
Tenten turned her ridiculously huge eyes onto Shiro. At this point he knew that she had connected all the dots.
"I'M RELATED TO TSUNADE-SAMA?"
"NANI?!" Naruto joined in chorus.
Shiro simply grunted as he nodded his head. "She is my cousin, so that would sorta make her your aunt I guess."
"Baa-chan is your aunt?" Naruto burst out laughing at this. He held his side quickly though, his muscles were still sore from the day before.
"Tsunade… nee-chan?" Tenten tried out the words. They sounded funny coming off of her tongue, but she liked it.
Shiro laughed at this
"She would probably love you if you called her that. She is always trying to show off to the world how young she looks and all," Shiro waved with his hand in a dismissing manner. Putting his hands on his knees, Shiro looked more serious than before.
"She doesn't know about you yet. If you would rather me tell her I can, but I suspect she would kill me so… Tenten, I know that this is a lot to take in. And there is still much I have not explained to you and may never be able to tell you..."
At this Tenten looked very sad. From the bottom of her heart she wanted to ask her sensei… no, her family, why he had left all those years before.
"Yet right now, there is something more important to discuss. I have talked about myself and Tenten, but I have yet to tell what I know about Naruto here."
Naruto looked up now, curious as to what this man could know about him that he had not told beforehand.
"Naruto, you have confronted the Atkatsuki before, have you not?"
And Jiraiya told you while you were still in the hospital that they would not be coming after you for several more years, am I correct?"
"Yeah, but how did you know that?"
"That is not important. What is important is why they are coming after you so soon. Do you have any reason why?"
Naruto looked from Shiro to Tenten and back again to his questioner. Was this some sort of trick question? How should he know why those wackos would come after him. So, the best answer he could muster was a simple shrug of his shoulders.
"Naruto, what if I told you that the reason is that they are afraid?" Shiro looked deathly serious now.
"Afraid? Why would they be afraid now? Didn't they always know about the Kyuubi?"
Shiro shook his head at this.
"They are not afraid of the Kyuubi. They are afraid of you, or more specifically what you may become."
"What I may… become?" Naruto glanced at Tenten to see if she was getting any of this, but she looked just as confused.
"They have discovered a secret so guarded, that you were not allowed to know this even after knowing about the Kyuubi."
"They know who your father was and they are terrified that you will become like him."
"My father?! They know who my father is?"
Tenten was silent throughout this exchange. There seemed to be many pieces of the puzzle that did not seem to quite fit right. Yet, she could not shake the thought that Naruto, as he looked now, reminded her of someone. Or maybe it reminded her of a picture of someone.
Tenten groaned outloud. This was too much for her. The person's name was right on the tip of her tongue, but she just could not place it.
"Was, Naruto. Your father is dead, along with the rest of your clan I am sorry to say."
Normally hearing such things would have really depressed Naruto. He hated remembering that he was not only an orphan, but he did not even know who any of his family was. Yet here, right in front of him, was the answer.
"You… you knew him?" His voice held a restrained hopefulness within it.
"Yes, he was a good man. A good shinobi. A good…"
Tenten's face lost all of its color. She remembered who he looked like.