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Kunoichi Returned

The Final Battle. Sasuke summons the Edo Tensei; Naruto counters; Kyuubi, Murphy's Law Incarnate, decides to intervene. "Hey, teme, your mom is HOT." Naruto/Mikoto

Danse Macabre

Blades crash in a shower of sparks.

Cold, emotionless eyes meet.

There is no pontificating, no speechifying, and no half-whispered pleas for reason.

There is just the dance.

There is just the dance, and two outcomes and one truth.

Only one will leave alive.

A jutsu is started, and blue eyes widen in fear.

'The Edo Tensei…'

Oo.oO

"Foolish brother…"

'No.'

"Live an unsightly life…"

'Sasuke, don't listen to him'

"Live in fear, as a coward…"

'No! He's crazy, Sasuke. Do. Not. Listen to him! Damnit, if only my body could still move!

Did you do this deliberately? Grant me enough time for you to steal away my last bit of happiness? Watch you destroy your brother? Watch you subvert my son?'

Traumatized eyes grew cold and determined. Much like the eyes that stared back at him, unholy red light spilling from his pupils

'No…both my sons are dead now.'

With that final thought, Uchiha Mikoto departed from the mortal coil, speeding towards the light at the end of the tunnel, to free her from that pain.

Unfortunately her flight was interrupted.

Oo.oO

Naruto's hands clashed through seals, praying he'd make it on time, as he raced forward towards the whining heir of the Sharingan. This was one jutsu he truly feared.

How could you fight the dead? Especially those you knew? His hands shook and he renewed his focus on performing the counter-jutsu that he had been taught.

Ero-sennin and Tsunade had once encountered the Snake Sannin when returning from a diplomatic meeting out in Hidden Grass. He, along with his Sound servants, had decimated the majority of Tsunade's guard before using the Edo Tensei.

By the time that Naruto's ANBU team had been marshaled and sent out to help the Godaime, all they found was a razed landscape, a broken and very dead Orochimaru, a rotten corpse, and two very shaken ninja. Tsunade hadn't said anything while in public, but as soon as he, Ero-sennin, and Tsunade had entered her 'lair,' as Ero-sennin had dubbed it, she broke down into tears in the embrace of her little brother.

Naruto refused to contemplate the fact that his own feelings were no longer that of a little brother towards his big sister. Because he was pretty sure that seeing one's older sister bend over a desk usually didn't make the little brother's imagination go wild.

He deliberately forced his mind from that avenue, as otherwise his mind could stray there for hours and he couldn't afford to wool-gather in the middle of a fight like this. Tsunade had told him, after she had calmed down, about the Edo Tensei and the possibilities and drawbacks of it, as well as how to counter it.

"Remember Naruto, this summoning jutsu is highly complex and therefore very unstable. If a concentrated—concentrated, mind you, blast of chakra were to pass through the target body as the chakra of the summoned person is attempting to overlay its own pathways, the jutsu should be interrupted." She frowned suddenly, and looked at him. "Did you get all that?"

He rubbed his face slowly as an excuse to block her from his vision. That intense look she had when she explained anything vaguely medical should be banned. She shouldn't be able to get that kind of a reaction from him, in Naruto's honest opinion. However, he actually had the tact not to mention that little fact to the woman in question. After a few seconds of mentally reviewing what she had said, he took a shot.

"Basically, a corpse has no chakra coils. In order to 'revive' a corpse, ya gotta stick chakra coils in there, cuz there aren't any more. So if you keep the coils from either goin' in or stayin' in, there won't be any problems."

Tsunade blinked slightly then nodded.

"Yeah, basically." Then the busty Godaime narrowed her still-red-rimmed eyes and glanced at him. "You've grown up, squirt." Naruto did his best to merely smile, and not let the irrational hope that flooded through him show…too much.

After learning of both the existence of the Edo Tensei and its counter, the blonde had practiced that counter whenever he got the chance. He did it so much it was engrained into him.

However, in the panic of seeing the Edo Tensei used before him and the fact that he had been running solely on Kyuubi chakra for a full minute kept him from noticing the shift in his chakra, the slight change in density and intent. As it was, there was nothing amiss in Naruto's mind as he slammed his hands together into the last seal just before barreling into the coffin that had just been raised by the last Uchiha.

He felt himself then smash into a significantly softer…thing than the coffin, as a bright red light pulsed out. He continued past…whatever it was, feeling it untangle from him, and hit the ground rolling. Quietly thanking Jiraiya for teaching him how to reinforce his skin with his chakra, he tried to get his bearings. The last Uchiha was staring in abject horror at the shattered coffin.

"…ow." Came a muffled voice from inside the remains of the coffin. Naruto froze.

What the hell?

It was only then that he became aware of the fact that the Kyuubi was busting a gut laughing at him.

Oo.oO

Uchiha Sasuke was many things. And while he had little claim on common sense, decency, or loyalty, he was quite intelligent.

He knew that his body was giving out in his fight with the Jinchuuriki that was once his friend. He knew that if the fight continued he would lose.

He also knew that he had a jutsu that would give him the upper hand.

So when the hell'd everything get so fucked up?

He supposed it started with the idiot having a counter for the Edo Tensei. That miserable bastard Orochimaru certainly hadn't mentioned that even being a bloody possibility. That, however, he could have dealt with. And the jutsu clearly was cancelled as he could no longer feel the drain on him to keep the summon there.

So why the HELL was there someone in the coffin, moving around?

He shivered slightly, releasing his cursed form. She couldn't have come back to life, could she? He shivered again as another groan lifted from the wreckage. The Uchiha contemplated running.

No, then the idiot would find her, figure out just what he did, and then there would be no sanctuary for Sasuke anywhere.

One of the things he freely admitted about the blonde moron was that he tended to go berserk when she was threatened. If he found out…he shivered again, and started running through his arsenal of jutsu for the perfect way to destroy all the evidence.

That was when a large section of the remains was thrown off, and a figure stumbled out. The first thing he noticed was the jet-black mop of hair. Then the curvy figure.

Then he saw her face, and any coherent thought was blasted straight out his ears.

"Mo-mom?" He whispered. The orange-obsessed dumb ass, evidentially having heard him, jerked and started glancing between the two of them, his jaw getting progressively lower and lower.

Then he finally stopped, staring straight ahead for a moment, before glancing over at M…mother. He then looked back at Sasuke, with a twinkle in his eye that even now the Uchiha knew bore nothing but ill for him.

"Hey, teme. Your mom is hot."

Oo.oO

"Hey, teme. Your mom is hot."

Mikoto blinked. The last thing she remembered was lying there watching her older son corrupt and destroy her younger. Now…now she was standing in a ruins unlike anything she'd ever seen before. \Shattered glass was everywhere. Strange, box-like steel objects lay randomly across the streets.

And two seventeen year old men were staring at her in shock. Or rather, they were. The blonde, in full ANBU gear, was now looking at the other one, snickering quietly. Her eyes unconsciously drifted up and down the blonde, liking what she saw.

Really liking what she saw.

But wait, what did the other one call her? She glanced at him, and nearly fell on her ass.

He looked just like a younger Fugaku. Almost exactly like him. The only difference was that Fugaku didn't look that painfully arrogant.

Usually.

And hadn't he called her… 'Mom'?

'No…it can't be. It can't be. Can it?'

"…Sasuke?"

Oo.oO

He was going to kill him. He was going to kill the idiot.

He was going to kill the bastard and it was going to be slow.

All of this was his fault. All of it. The summoning was going just fine until the bastard flew in and pulled…whatever the hell he did. Sasuke had been all set to summon the warrior Madara, NOT stare down at the image of his mother.

Did the bastard have any shame? Any remorse? He looked at the bastard's smug smile.

No, the bastard didn't have ANY. Did he really think something so low would affect him, would faze him? Bah. He was an Uchiha. He was elite. The bastard was nothing.

"…Sasuke?" For the second time in as many minutes, Sasuke's brain fried. All thoughts of illusions, deceptions, fox-bastards, everything, were wiped from his mind. He looked back at her hesitatingly, feeling like he was nine again.

She was looking at him in disbelief. "Sasuke, is that really you?" He nodded numbly. She opened her mouth to speak before blinking and looking him up and down with a critical gleam in her eye. She seemed somewhat stunned, actually.

"Just what the hell are you wearing, anyway?"

Oo.oO

"Just what the hell are you wearing, anyway?"

She didn't mean for that to come out. She really didn't.

Hell, this was the first time he had seen his mother in over ten years, if she had to guess a time. Bizarre and laughable clothing should not factor into conversation. Well, not at first anyway. It was just…what the hell was that?

Speaking of laughing, the blonde was doubled over cackling. He glanced at her momentarily, eyes mirthful, and Mikoto felt a jolt of something run through her.

'Hot…damn…' She reluctantly tore her eyes away from the blonde and turned back to her son, who looked like he was barely holding back tears. And her eyes fell upon the hitae-ate. The hitae-ate with a scratch through the symbol of the Leaf.

Missing-nin.

Traumatized eyes grew cold and determined. Much like the eyes that stared back at him, unholy red light spilling from his pupils—

She shuddered in fear, before taking a step towards her son, arms outstretched, hoping, praying that she'd find some sign that her son was still there, hadn't been slaughtered by Itachi's crazed ramblings.

And felt pain like a physical blow when he staggered back away from her, eyes wide with fear.

Oo.oO

It couldn't be.

Could it?

NO!

Whatever was before him acted just like his mother did. Her mannerisms were exactly the same as the times when it had just been herself, Sasuke, and Itachi. When there were no burdens, no expectations. Just her.

It was exactly like her.

This was no illusion.

This was no taunt from the idiot.

This was real.

Fear shuddered through him, and for the first time in his life, he couldn't fight it. He couldn't move on, couldn't overcome it, couldn't remember Itachi's cold eyes staring at him, couldn't move, couldn't couldn't couldn't!

Too much. It was too goddamn much.

He didn't know what to do, know what to say, didn't…

All the memories of what he had done came surging back to him. Naruto's face contorted with pain. Sakura's whimpering. Hundreds of nameless, faceless ninja falling—not to complete a mission, no. Falling to quench the appetite of a ruthless maniac.

Him.

The light had been thrown on his soul, casting every dark deed into the daylight. Judgment had come, and Sasuke longed for the darkness—the black night that he had come to love—to reclaim him, save him from those prying searching eyes.

But the darkness would not come.

He was alone.

She staggered closer, arms outstretched, eyes bearing his doom. Fear tore through his chest, longing jerked his legs, and rage pushed him forward.

The darkness was calling him.

Sasuke fled deaf to a mother's cries.

Oo.oO

Naruto swore as he saw the bastard turn and run.

Just what the fuck was he thinking? Here was what he had to want the most, his family. Family that the bastard had thought dead for over ten years. And he was running.

This was a genius? If so, then Naruto thanked any and every deity that was listening that he was an idiot.

"Sasuke!" Uchiha-san cried out, trying to follow. Tried was the key word. Naruto's eyes widened as she jerked back as if struck, clutching the arm that she had been trying to grab the bastard with. He leapt into motion as he saw that her hand was disintegrating.

Her son might be Orochimaru's favorite boy toy, but she never did anything wrong.

That is, beyond giving birth to two psychotic freaks.

He shook such thoughts as he reached her side, and watched with wide eyes as her hand repaired itself.

Not even the Kyuubi could pull something like that off so easily.

"Are you alright?" No response. Then:

"He's missing-nin, isn't he?" Naruto cursed Sasuke for having to put this woman through the pain of learning her son had turned traitor.

"Yes."

"So he's truly dead." Now that he didn't expect. Wailing, gnashing of teeth, wild-eyed denials, all of those he expected. Quiet acceptance?

What the hell?

"Taichou!" Naruto turned and saw the rest of his ANBU team and the reason he was out here, Sakura's apprentice, approaching. He frowned before calling out to his second-in-command.

"Oi Dog-Breath! Where the hell's Sakura?"

Inuzuka Kiba, in full ANBU uniform, reached him first.

"Huh? We figured she was with you!"

His stomach clenched. 'Did he…no, no he couldn't.' Despite telling himself that, the clenching did not go away. If anything, it intensified.

The bastard used the Edo Tensei.

Edo Tensei needed a dead body.

Sakura was missing.

His fists clenched. 'If he did…'

"What the hell…? Hey, Dead-Last, who the hell's that?" Naruto came out of his reverie to find Uchiha-san standing by his shoulder. He opened his mouth before he stopped, and did what few people believed he could do. He thought before he spoke.

Now what the hell was he supposed to say? 'This is the bastard's dead mom?' No way in hell. There had to be a better way. There has to be.

…screw it.

"Ah…you guys remember the Edo Tensei?" When he saw a trio of nods from the rest of his ANBU team, he ignored the confused looks on Uchiha-san and Sakura's apprentice's faces and continued. "Due to unforeseen circumstances and the Edo Tensei, you're now looking at the formerly deceased Uchiha…" He trailed off, looking at the woman. She glanced at him and blushed slightly.

"Oh, Mikoto." Naruto held her gaze for a moment, before turning back to the team.

"Uchiha Mikoto." He finished, privately thanking Ero-sennin on bended knee for making him read all that fancy crap. It had done wonders for his vocabulary, even though he rarely used it. Then he saw Kiba, and didn't need to see past the feral boy's mask to see the question forming in his eyes. "Sasuke's mom."

There were times he really hated the ANBU masks, this being one of them. Because he knew the looks of shock would have been classic.

'Maybe I should bug Tsunade to somehow make it so captains can see through the subordinate's masks. Hmm…this bears looking into.' With that, he pushed the idea to the back of his mind and focused on the task at hand.

"Alright, when was the last time everybody saw her?"

"It was maybe a half–hour ago, just a little after we got separated." Naruto nearly sighed with relief. He had started fighting with the self-styled 'avenger' for well over an hour.

'Wait…'

"Did you guys say you got split up?" He felt, rather than saw his team-mates stiffen.

"Err…well, you see…" Naruto waved him off impatiently.

"Don't worry about that now. We gotta find out where the hell Sakura is." His team and the apprentice nodded fervently. "Alright. You," he pointed to the apprentice, "stay here with Uchiha-san." She looked somewhat disappointed, but nodded. "You three, standard search procedure. Overlook nothing."

With a chorus of 'Hai,' the three ninja and one ninken disappeared. Naruto looked over to the woman that had been dead less than fifteen minutes ago. "You gunna be alright?" He felt something stir inside him, a longing to protect this pale beauty. He shook it off quickly and glanced back at her. Her lips pressed into a thin line, Uchiha Mikoto nodded brusquely.

He nodded in return, turned, and leapt into the air, too low on chakra to even think about attempting a shunshin. And found himself incredibly thankful for that as a scream rang out behind him as his feet left the ground. He whirled in midair, and spotted Mikoto on the ground screaming bloody murder, her left leg dissolving before her very eyes into a deep red mist.

Swearing, he didn't bother waiting to land and instead rebounding off a nearby wall back to Mikoto's side. He then proceeded to watch in surprise and curiosity as her leg reknit itself back together before his eyes.

'What. The. Hell?'

This was just getting plain old confusing. This was the second time that her body began dissolving. Was the Edo Tensei unraveling? Had the teme fucked up when summoning his mother? Besides, ya know, actually summoning his mother, that is.

"Are you alright?" He whispered, hating how useless he felt at that moment. As the last of her toes reformed, she turned and looked at the blonde demon container.

"Yeah, yeah I am now."

There were shouts behind him and he turned to see the rest of the ANBU team arrive, all of which were tense as hell.

"Taichou, what was that scream?" He rolled his eyes at the overprotectiveness displayed by his team. 'Oh fer…we got separated for a single fucking day! I don't need to be baby-sat, damnit!' As Naruto was mentally ranting about his 'mother-hen of a squad' Mikoto spoke up.

"That would be me." The attention of the group was trained on her in an instant.

"The Edo Tensei's acting weird." Naruto muttered. Then his eyes narrowed as he saw a similarity between the two events. Suspicion took root. Confirmation was needed.

"Uchiha-san, I want to try something. Just try to relax." With that he stood up and started backing away from the Uchiha matriarch, eyes fixed on her form. By the third step, Mikoto was wincing and Naruto swearing as he spotted reddish smoke rising from her foot. 'Sunuvabitch.'

He stepped closer and closed his eyes, mentally swearing up a storm, as he saw the slight injury healing itself. Initial suspicion confirmed. Now how the hell'd it happen?

He stepped up to her side, explaining what he had just learned. "Alright, so it seems that the Edo Tensei works while she's within five feet of me. Go beyond that and it starts breakin' down."

"How the hell'd that happen?" Kiba's stunned voice entered his mind as his hands started flashing through hand-seals.

"I've got an idea, but I ain't sure. Gimme a…" He groaned as the jutsu completed and Mikoto's entire body momentarily turned a soft glowing red. "Well, that clinches it. The cause of this is a big, red, furry pain in the ass." He ignored the confused look that Uchiha-san was giving him, quietly relieved that she didn't recognize him as the demon container.

Once that happened, she would undoubtedly be…displeased to learn that she was stuck with him for the foreseeable future. And for some reason, he really didn't want to see that happen.

"You guys find anything?" The silence answered his question well enough. The clenching feeling returned to his stomach. Or, rather, it had been there the entire time, and now Naruto couldn't ignore it anymore. 'Damnit…if he laid a single fucking hand on her…' He might not have a crush on her anymore, but she was fucking family, damnit!

"—zumaki-taichou. Uzumaki-taichou." The panicked voice of Sakura's apprentice broke into his inner thoughts. He glanced at her, to find her pale and staring at something behind him, down the street. For a second he wondered if the bastard had finally pulled his head out of his ass and had returned for his mom.

He turned, hand drifting to his kunai-pouch. Then he froze.

Haruno Sakura, clothes torn and ripped and her prosthetic left arm missing, staggered closer. She stared at Naruto, relief and hope burning in her eyes—a look completely at odds with how beat up she was. She smiled briefly before her knees gave way and she collapsed across the concrete.

Oo.oO

Uchiha Mikoto frowned thoughtfully. This was…rather unusual. She shifted her hands slightly. Very unusual. She squeezed slightly with her right hand. Then with her left.

'Hmm…'

She glanced over at Uzumaki, considering inviting him over to help. From what she had seen, his blush would be deliciously cute, if nothing else. But no, this was a little too freaky to let herself be waylaid by horomones. With a surge of willpower, she turned her eyes from Uzumaki's rear and back onto the topic that was really bothering her.

Her breasts.

They were too big, damnit! She frowned. Not that she didn't like them that big, mind. But it was bloody insane! The only time she was ever this big was when she had just given birth…to…Itachi…

She quietly thanked whoever was listening that she had been given the foresight to wait to check this until she had an opportunity to herself. Of course, the threat that Uzumaki had given that he would deal with anyone who peeped on her as she was doing her business had helped quite a bit too. With that she slid her thumb underneath the front of her shirt, and pulled it up above her breasts.

Yep, definitely the size they were at when Itachi was born.

From the brief explanation that Uzumaki had given her, the Edo Tensei was a resurrection ritual that brought a person back from the dead, placing them in the body of a sacrifice. Then coupled with a seal, the person's body was restored to its prime and its mind reduced to a berserker state. She shuddered slightly as she considered it.

Merely further proof that her son was truly dead.

With a sigh, Mikoto turned her mind from such depressing thoughts. So if her breasts were the size they had been after Itachi…She quickly glanced over at the blonde who was standing with his back to her, before flipping down her too-small bra and seizing a nipple between two fingers. She squeezed slightly and saw a slight off-white discharge.

And she was lactating too. 'Hmm…'

There was a thundering crash in the underbrush near them.

"Oi! Taichou! We gotta get a move on!" Inuzuka's voice cried out, shaking Mikoto from her reverie. She quickly threw her clothes back on and stepped up to the blonde.

"Ready to go?"

Oo.oO

Naruto was in hell. There was no other explanation possible. He was in hell.

The movement on his back merely further reinforced that fact.

Hell. Dead center, front row seats.

"How close are we, Uzumaki-taichou?" came the breathy whisper in his ear. Naruto did his best to keep his eyes from crossing and cursed the bastard for putting him in this situation.

It had seemed that while Mikoto…Uchiha-san had been returned to life by whatever the hell happened during that faulty summoning, her chakra reserves and muscles weren't quite up to snuff. So the only way to get to Konoha at any decent pace was to carry the reborn matriarch of the Uchiha clan. And since she couldn't be farther than five feet from Naruto at any time, he got to be the one to carry her.

So for the past several hours, he had to deal with a drop-dead gorgeous woman pressed to his back, breathing heavily in his ear, her ruby-red lips…damnit! He was doing it again! For neither the first nor the last time he cursed the onset of puberty. Things would be so much easier without it.

"Ah, damnit!" Then, of course, there was another problem buzzing around in the back of his head. Something was wrong with Sakura. It wasn't something he could put his finger on, but there was something subtly off about her.

He knew it was her. He knew it. Talking to her once she came 'round at the campsite had proved that much to him. But there was something wrong, and the sheer fact that he couldn't put his finger on it was driving him insane.

It was like there was a split-second hesitation, a second's pause, one that seemed like she knew what to do, but her body wasn't listening properly.

"Oi, you alright Sakura?" She flashed him a dazzling smile and waved her left arm, signaling that she was fine. He forced down a flash of guilt as he saw the shattered remnants of her limb.

Another example of how badly he had screwed up with Sakura.

The bastard Uchiha had decided that he was aiming to high by gunning for the blonde jinchuuriki in order to unlock his Mangekyou, and chose to target Sakura instead. Naruto still had nightmares about that day.

Team Seven had been 'reunited' for one final battle, both Sakura and Naruto set and determined to drag the Uchiha's worthless ass home, and the bastard fully intent on killing Naruto. Or so they thought. By the time Naruto realized who the Chidori was intended for, it was almost too late.

With a timely application of shunshin no jutsu, Kage Bunshin, and more kunai than he could count Naruto had managed to waylay the fatal attack. But that didn't keep the Sharingan bastard from shearing off the majority of Sakura's left arm, and destroying her hopes of being a capable nin.

It was that same night that Naruto gave up on any chance that the 'avenger' could be redeemed. Uchiha Sasuke was dead in his mind from that day forward. And he swore he would never let the bastard hurt the closest thing he'd ever had to a little sister again.

And now? The bastard had her locked up in who-knows-where for three fucking days. 'Yeah, good job Uzumaki. Anything else you wanna fuck up?' Mikoto tensed as Naruto launched himself well over fifty feet over the next copse of trees before bounding along the tree-tops, well beyond his team, the chuunin, and …Sakura.

The extra distance between him and his team didn't keep him from hearing their comments, though.

"Aw, hell. Taichou's pissed."

"Goddamnit. I so don't want to be on the clean-up crew for this one. Another face-off with Hebi-junior, Haruno-san captured for three days, and Uchiha-san thrown into the mix? We're gonna be lucky if he doesn't wipe out a small country when he's blowing off steam."

"Is he really that bad?"

"No. Naruto's worse."

"Really, Sakura-sensei?"

Naruto snorted, agitation running through him. His legs tensed and he leapt again, this time carrying him beyond the gossiping voices of his team.

"Uzumaki-taichou? Is everything okay?" Well, it seemed that his little spur-of-the-moment plan to get away from everyone wasn't as well-thought out as he initially intended. Oh well, now to convince the formerly-dead mother of his former-best friend that he wasn't completely nuts.

Yep, definitely in Hell.

Oo.oO

Kurotsuchi Ayeka often thought of herself as fearless. In fact, she prided herself on it. Hell, she'd probably face down Orochimaru without blinking.

Granted, she'd probably be killed before she could even think about blinking, but still.

Even though that was true, as a secretary to the Hokage, there was one thing she and every other worker in the Hokage's Tower feared with an almighty passion.

The ANBU captain sighed and shifted his feet. She did everything she could to not shiver in fear. Now, it was nothing against him in particular. Hell, if it was just him she'd be all over him—as well as at least half of Konoha's female population.

No, what she feared was her boss's reaction to said ANBU. More than half the time she was knocking him through the goddamn walls! She quickly reached under the desk and touched the hard-hat that was hidden under there, just for reassurance.

The ANBU tugged at his spiked blonde hair and shifted his weight again. The rest of his team were performing similar attempts to entertain themselves. Then the young secretary spotted what she had been hoping for since the ANBU team had entered. A panel on her desk, hidden from view by everyone in the room but her, lit up like a beacon as chakra weaved through it.

She looked up and smiled at the ANBU.

"The Hokage will see you now."

Oo.oO

Naruto rarely worried about things. He just wasn't that kind of guy. He was never fond of sitting around and brooding—which was part of the problem he had with the Uchiha heir. His modus operandi—he thanked Ero-sennin once more for making him read all those scrolls: they had some awfully damn cool words—was to deal with the problem, and never let anyone know you had it in the first place.

He definitely didn't sit and brood, like how the bastard was prone to do.

Which made what he was doing all the more rare.

He shuddered as he remembered just what had happened on his way to the Hokage's tower. Mik—Uchiha-san, damnit! Uchiha-san had been pressuring him—gently—but still pressuring him for answers as to what was bothering him. She sounded concerned, and truthfully he was touched by it. However, that wasn't the problem. The problem was what he had felt when she was trying to get him to open up.

After living with a demon Kitsune sealed in his belly, Naruto had learned the hard way how to recognize mental prompts. And he was receiving a strong one whenever Mikoto tried to convince him to talk. And it wasn't from the Kyuubi.

What the hell was going on?

He could only hope Tsunade could figure everything out.

Oo.oO

Tsunade couldn't help but wonder whether Naruto tried to find the most difficult problems he could think of, just to screw with her. There really wasn't much other explanation she could think of. Massaging the bridge of her nose with her fingers, the Godaime Hokage sighed.

"I'm honestly not sure what I can do right now, Naruto. You're certain that there's no trace of any connection between the traitor and Uchiha-san?" The blonde nodded his confirmation.

"There's no sign of any jutsu affecting Uchiha-san's person." Then he paused, before continuing in a slightly embarrassed tone. " 'Cept the obvious one, of course." Tsunade leaned back slightly in her chair, unknowingly drawing Naruto's eyes. She rubbed her forehead in a vain attempt to drive off the headache she could already feel forming.

Tsunade could honestly say she had no idea how to deal with this. How did one deal with a nin that was brought back from the dead? She sighed softly. She could see that either the resurrected Uchiha Mikoto held no ulterior motives or was one hell of an actor. And all the files she could find on the woman reported that, while she had a poker-face only a Hyuuga could match, she couldn't fake emotions worth squat. And she was clearly earnest to return to Konoha's service. But Tsunade couldn't shake the feeling that letting this woman into the village would be a very bad thing.

Mikoto's eyes drifted over to Naruto, and Tsunade's hackles rose. She knew that look—and she sure as hell didn't like it. The buxom blonde forcibly pushed down her possessive instincts and looked back to Naruto.

"All right. I'll see what I can do to reinstate Uchiha-san as a Konoha-nin, and I'll contact Jiraiya and have her take a look at your connection. Meanwhile, what're you going to do in terms of accommodations?" Even with the mask on, she could see Naruto blinking rapidly. She fought back a smile. No matter how much changed, she could always count on Naruto to jump first and look later.

"Ah, Hokage-sama…?" Tsunade tensed slightly and glanced at the dark-haired Uchiha. "Could I suggest—if it's open—the Uchiha Compound? I doubt that Uzumaki-san has the accommodations for more than one, and the Compound would have more than enough room for the both of us." It was a reasonable proposal, really, nice and logical.

That was probably why she disliked it so much. She couldn't reasonably deny it, even though she desperately wanted to. She nodded her assent, trying to fight back the resentment—resentment over what though? It was ridiculous. Shouldn't she be happy that someone was interested in her little brother? Especially after all he'd been through? She pulled her mind from the strange tangent she was on and turned her attention to the other problematic person in the party.

Haruno Sakura.

Naruto had expressed his concern over Sakura's behavior through ANBU hand-signals, but he didn't need to. The evidence was clear enough on its own. Her hesitation, the slight pause as if she couldn't quite recall what she was supposed to do, how she was to act. If it was an imposter, she was a rather poor one. If not, then Tsunade didn't have a clue.

"Haruno-san, in light of your captivity—as well as the captivity of your student, Hasegawa Hana; you will both be quarantined for the next week and examined by the Interrogation Squad until cleared. Understood?" The both of them nodded quietly. "Good. Head down to the Intelligence office—Ibiki will deal with you there." Both the medic-nin and her apprentice bowed and exited the office. Tsunade turned to the ANBU team (and Uchiha Mikoto), and addressed them as a whole. "You're dismissed. Naruto, wait a minute and I'll call up someone to open up the Compound—if that's where you will stay?" Naruto glanced at the Uchiha matriarch, before returning his gaze to Tsunade and shrugging.

"Yeah, it's fine with me." With that the ANBU filed out of the room. A minute later, a chuunin arrived and escorted Naruto and the Uchiha (covered in a cloak, thankfully—Lord only knew what might happen if anyone caught sight of someone that was supposed to dead and buried for a decade. Especially one in the constant company of the blonde jinchuuriki.) out to the Uchiha Compound. Tsunade reached over across the desk and flipped a switch.

"Shizune, can you make sure I'm not disturbed for a bit?" The intercom was quiet for a moment, before the blonde's assistant responded.

"Umm…alright, Hokage-sama." Shizune's voice practically radiated concern and worry. Tsunade rolled her eyes at her subordinate's relentless mothering. It wasn't so bad when they were on the road, hell it was preferable, really. But she was Hokage for crying out loud! Besides, wasn't Tsunade supposed to mother her? The blonde shook her head.

It didn't matter anyway. No matter how much she belly-ached about it, Shizune wouldn't change—and truth be told, the Sannin preferred it that way. It made the world seem a little less…lonely. She shook herself again. When the hell'd she get so introspective?

"I'll be fine, Shizune. I just need a little time to myself, is all." Tsunade said in response to the unasked question. With that, she flipped the switch and leaned back in her chair.

Just what the hell was wrong with her? Sure, she had always been a little overprotective of her little brother, but the way she was reacting to the revived woman was absolutely ridiculous. Hell, she felt like diving over the desk, grabbing Naruto, throwing him onto the desk (or the floor, or the chair, hell—anywhere) and claiming him properl…The buxom blonde paused as the rest of her mind caught up with that last train of thought. Then she pinched the bridge of her nose, trying to will away the mental images that thought evoked—and especially how much they turned her on.

She was obviously spending far too much time with Jiraiya. That had to be the explanation. Problem solved.

…Now if she could only get the image of her screwing Naruto 'till Kingdom come out of her head.

Oo.oO