Naruto awoke to blinding midmorning light, reaching up to shield his eyes from the luminous alarm clock. All that greeted him was searing pain as his arm refused to comply. A quick gander at the awkwardly twisted appendage told the genin it was broken. Using his intact right arm he forced himself to sit up, trying to figure out where he was.

The action nearly threw him off the tree branch he was sprawled upon. Clenching his thighs together as he spun was all that prevented him from plummeting almost twenty feet. Now hanging upside down from the branch, he was granted a stunning view of the rest of the Land of Fire's countryside, ending at a rather impressive mountain range, from which rose a pillar of dust and smoke.

"Holy shit," Naruto grinned. "We did it! We really did it!"


Naruto turned his head toward the ground. Standing at the base of the tree he'd gotten himself stuck in was Sakura, wearing an impassive look on her face. The pinkette suddenly took to the trunk, running vertically up the surface of the tree directly at him. Using his functional arm Naruto pulled himself up, turning on the massive branch to face his teammate as she ascended. Once she was on equal level with him, Sakura threw herself at him, grappling him tightly in a giant hug.

"You're alive!" she squealed.

"Easy!" he wailed. "My arm! MY ARM!"

Sakura loosened her grip slightly, pulling Naruto's head to her shoulder and holding him there. "I was worried, you jerk!"

"Get your hands off my boyfriend, you hussy!"

Both Naruto and Sakura let out a surprised squeak as their eyes gravitated back to the ground. Hinata stood at the base of the tree with a large search party, eyeing the two with a bemused grin. Sakura flashed the heiress a playful smirk, squeezing Naruto tighter.

"Awwww, but we were having such a beautiful moment!" she protested. "Can't you come back in say...twenty minutes?"

"Oh no you don't!" Hinata commanded playfully. "Get down here this instant!"

Sakura laughed as she propped Naruto on her shoulders, helping him leap down from the tree. As soon as they made it to the ground Hinata tackled her lover, bowling Naruto over and crashing into the soft earth with him. The blond screamed as his broken arm received the brunt of the assault, causing tears to stream down his face as he held onto Hinata tightly.

"You two are going to kill me," he sobbed.

Hinata silenced his whining with a deep kiss. With careful movements she wrapped her arms around him and pulled him into a powerful hug, resting her chin on his shoulder when she finished kissing him.

"I was so worried," she whispered. "Don't ever do that to me again!"

"Easy Hinata," Naruto chuckled. "I'm fine...well, except for the arm."

"Don't act so carefree!" Sakura chastised him. "We've been looking for you for days!"

Naruto sat up quickly, his eyes widening as he expressed his surprise. "Days?"

"Have you been asleep this whole time!?" Sakura shrieked.

"It's not my fault!" Naruto pleaded. "Please don't break my other arm!"

"Just relax," the pinkette smirked. "We've got a lot of explaining to do."

To say that the rest of the rescue team was shocked by the amount of food Naruto could put away in one sitting was perhaps the understatement to end all understatements. After his sixth helping of whatever food they could find him, the other members of the team were beginning to worry that there would be nothing left for them. After his eighth, they stopped caring, completely entranced by the jinchuuriki's ability to devour food. Hinata remained loyally at Naruto's side, watching over him and handing him food as he requested it. Sakura sat on the other side, keeping a running tally of the things Naruto had eaten and what he'd have to pay to replace, poking the genin's makeshift cast every once in a while to make sure it was holding up. Sitting across from them were a stoic Hatake Kakashi, a bemused Jiyumaru and an exhausted Tsunade.

"So you've...mmph...been looking for me...mrrphle...for four days?" Naruto managed between mouthfuls of food.

"That is correct," Kakashi replied, his singular eye showering Naruto with unspoken praise.

"When you defeated the Black Dragon King, the explosion sent you all flying," Jiyumaru added. "The rest of us had already retreated to a safe distance before that, but..."

"We found Hinata two days ago," Sakura explained. "I'm so glad we finally found you. I was starting to get worried."

Naruto suddenly stopped eating. He quietly swallowed the last of the rice he had been gorging himself on and looked about the group around him, finally settling his eyes on Tsunade.

"Where's Yakusho?"

The small mess tent that the group was sitting in became uncomfortably quiet. Kakashi sighed, closing his eye so his thoughts and feelings could not be read. Everyone else other than Hinata avoided Naruto's searching eyes.

"Where's Yakusho?" he asked again.

"We haven't been able to find him," Sakura finally spoke up. "The others..."

"We're going to have to call off the search soon," Tsunade said decisively. "We can't afford to keep looking for him...and you know why."

Naruto's reaction was not what anyone expected. Instead of exploding in anger at the prospect that one of his friends would be left behind, he remained silent. Hinata looked slightly worried, tugging on Naruto's sleeve gently as she silently pleaded for his thoughts. Eventually he looked towards the wilderness outside the tent with a slight smirk on his face.

"That's all right," he said. "You won't find him."

With that he returned to eating, not saying another word. Tsunade was speechless, trying vainly to make sense of Naruto's actions. She quickly gave up, sighing as she walked out of the tent, leaving Naruto to his sensei and Jiyumaru.

"You've grown up a bit, Naruto," Kakashi remarked.

"You think so?" Naruto asked.

"Yes, but there are more important questions to be answered," Kakashi said, glaring at his student suddenly. "Specifically what you and Hinata were thinking when you jumped on top of a dragon."

Naruto and Hinata blushed sheepishly, looking at one another as they tried to come up with an explanation. Sakura patted her teammate's shoulder sympathetically, getting up along with Jiyumaru to help file reports.

Somewhere in the distance, a single clack announced the arrival and departure of a pair of red geta, speeding off through the canopy, leaving the Land of Fire behind them.

...and as of yet, Ryumoto Yakusho remains unfound. The search was officially called off three days ago. Sakura has become somewhat withdrawn since the announcement, but it has not affected her work. Things are slowly returning to normal...

A few moments later, Jiyumaru placed his pen down and finished his long overdue mission report from the Ryuugakure incident. He did not delight in documenting his friends, nor did he enjoy recalling his experiences at Ryuugakure. There were still so many mysteries involving the Ryumoto clan and dragons, but Jiyumaru would simply have to go on knowing that the majority of them would go unsolved. He also desperately wished he knew whether Yakusho had survived or not. Naruto seemed sure, but...

"Fancy stuff you're writing there, kiddo."

Jiyumaru nearly leapt through his own ceiling. Standing in the doorway to his room was Mitarashi Anko, gulping down some of her favourite treat in the most sinful way possible. Swallowing his thoughts and courage, Jiyumaru cleared his throat.

"M-Mitarashi-san," he said worriedly, "h-how did you get in here without me knowing?"

"First of all, it's Anko," she corrected him. "Secondly, I bribed your guard."

"I knew I shouldn't have let Zurui have a shift," Jiyumaru grumbled. He then eyed Anko critically, a single eyebrow rising as he took a moment to inspect her rather risqué attire. "Wait, just what did you bribe him with?"

"What do you think?" she replied, giving Jiyumaru her smarmiest smile.

Jiyumaru was not amused. His face contorted in fright, shock and horror all at once. "Anko, I know you're more open than most, but..."

"Dango," she sneered, throwing the last of her sugary treats at his forehead. "Now I know where the little guy gets it from, you perv."


"Oh stop your bellyaching," Anko laughed. "By the way, you're getting me some dango to replace the ones I lost. Now!"

Before Jiyumaru could protest, Anko had dragged him out of his room and into the streets of Konoha. Not long after they had disappeared into the crowds, a certain scheming raccoon ventured into his master's room. After carefully analyzing the report on Jiyumaru's desk, Zurui took the jounin's pen and added a post script to the end of the letter:

P.S. You've got great tits, Hokage-sama.

With a skittish cackle Zurui fled from the scene of the crime, making his way into town in order to get a few good peeks at the lovely women that inhabited Konohagakure.