"You're kidding." Tsunade looked at Jiraiya, trying to understand why his face was so shadowed. The moonlight was one thing but there was something different, something haunted about her old teammate. Surely his marriage couldn't be doing this to him already. Or could it be that...

Already the white haired Sannin was shaking his head, his eyes turned toward the buildings below them. "Hinata told Shino that the Akatsuki were looking for me, though...why go through her? It isn't like our marriage is widely known. Even Naruto is in the dark about it. How would they know?"

Tsunade sighed leaning back against the railing as she turned her own gaze to the night sky. "Neji Hyuga is missing." She said after a long moment. "He didn't show up for an assigned mission. I let it slide thinking he might have gone to watch out for Hinata. He still sees himself as her guardian. However...when Shino returned he never mentioned having seen Neji. It worries me a bit, Jiraiya. The Hyuga boy isn't known to just run off like some of the others. Like Naruto he is dedicated to his ninja ways."

"You think something might have happened to him?" Jiraiya asked, casting a glance over his shoulder before returning his eyes to the one room that still had light pouring out of the window several floors below him. He could see Hinata where she sat on her bed, thoughtfully brushing her hair.

He could see himself there on the bed with her, though the bed in his thoughts was somewhat larger. His fingers were threading through her hair and he was coaxing her to lean back, his lips brushing her delicate jaw and traveling along her slender neck. It would be so easy. She'd whisper his name and her eyes would close. His hands would travel down her shoulders and down her back. It would be so easy to...

"Jiraiya!" Tsunade shouted, dragging him from this thoughts. He glared at her, not wanting to be taken away from his svelte wife, even though he wasn't really with her. "I said there's evidence that he was stalking you. I've beginning to wonder if Neji didn't defect."

"Not Neji." Jiraiya shook his head, partly out of response and partly to clear his head. He turned to face Tsunade this time and didn't see Hinata get off the bed and open the door. Nor did he see Naruto enter the room and pull the curtains closed. "We're grasping at straws I think...trying to make connections so that we can have an answer for all of this."

"It never seems to be over, does it?" The blond Sannin sighed heavily. "It's always going to be one battle or another."

Her old teammate nodded. "Sarutobi-sensei would have called it the shinobi way." He whispered. "This is the life we chose, Tsunade. There is no other path." Jiraiya turned back to look at Hinata's window again, surprised to find it closed. He supposed she'd caught him staring, not that someone else was in her room. That was, of course, until he saw the spike haired shadow cross in front of the curtains.

-4-4-

Naruto Uzumaki couldn't stop staring at Hinata Hyuga. It was causing her cheeks to color a very near neon. But it wasn't stopping him. He'd never seen the dark haired young woman looking so...confident. Even though she looked as if she could pass out at any moment with how near he was to her, there was definitely something different.

"D-did you need something, N-Naruto?" Hinata stuttered, edging toward the wall to keep some distance between herself and the blond haired boy. She was fighting to keep her t-shirt past her knees in the same movement, nearly toppling over as she passed the edge of a rug.

"I heard a rumor." Naruto said, cringing when the young woman stubbed her toe on the bedpost that now separated them.

"R-rumor?" Hinata was certain she could duck down and slide into her sweat pants while he was all the way over there. Strangely, however, she wasn't so worried about her state of dress for her own reputation, but for the reputation she held as Jiraiya's wife. Never mind that no one knew.

"Yeah. You went head to head with the Akatsuki." Naruto said with a nod, still watching her closely. "You saw Itachi Uchiha didn't you?"

Hinata shook her head, feeling better once she'd wriggled into her pants. "I don't remember. I don't know anything. I've already told Tsunade this." She was rather surprised by the note of suspicion in her own voice.

"Yeah I know. But...I've seen Itachi too. I was wondering..." Naruto frowned somewhat, though Hinata wasn't sure why. "Did he say anything about Sasuke?"

"S-sasuke?" Hinata whispered, surprised that he would be bringing up his old teammate. "No. I...don't..." She was struggling with the words, trying to keep the deep relief from her voice.

"Oh." Strangely, Naruto looked rather down hearted by her answer, though it didn't keep him from giving her another once over. Hinata blushed yet again, her cheeks practically purple. The blond haired young man was moving closer to her, closing the distance between them rather easily. The bed post hadn't even slowed him down. "You were amazing, Hinata." He breathed, looking down at her with glittering blue eyes. Their depths held something that she couldn't quite read. That too worried her.

All at once he was impossibly close. So much so that his warm breath was playing across her cheeks and she could smell the rich beef of the ramen he'd eaten not long before he came. A small part of her wanted him to kiss her, but she was surprised to discover that it was only a small part. The rest of her was thinking of her Sannin husband and the way his lips tasted. His kiss was something to be desired. She could see why so many women wanted it. Or was it he that wanted so many women?

She could barely think with Naruto this close. Wasn't this what she had wanted? Wasn't this what Jiraiya had agreed to help her with? She couldn't remember how many years she'd spent wanting this boy to hold her the way he was now. But suddenly... It didn't seem right. She was married and no matter what she'd agreed to, she had a duty to her husband. "Hinata..." The blond haired young man was whispering her name, now so close his lips were touching hers.

"N..." Hinata wouldn't have to say anymore. The door to her room burst open and Jiraiya charged in as if she were being attacked. She was certain he could see the guilty look all over her face as both she and Naruto turned to look at him.

"Pervy Sage!" Naruto all but shouted in her ear, a wide grin spreading over his lips.

"I told you not to call me that." Jiraiya's voice was deep and almost hateful, his dark eyes were narrowed and he didn't look happy to see either one of them. "After your ordeal, I was coming to check on you, Hinata. I can see you're all right." He turned to leave, his back already to them.

"Jiraiya, wait." Hinata didn't even think about the fact that she hadn't stuttered or the fact that she was shoving at Naruto to go after the elder man. "Wait!" She was scrambling to follow her husband, leaving the number one knuckle head ninja to stare after them, his mouth open.

Jiraiya was already out of the building and halfway down the street when Hinata caught up with him. Her tiny fingers rested on his arm as she trotted to keep up, trying to at least slow him down. "J-Jiraiya wait." She was all but gasping having run barefoot to catch him.

"What are you doing?" Her white haired husband stopped in the middle of the street, the darkness of the night keeping her from seeing his face.

"I...I was coming to explain..." Hinata started.

"What are you doing?" Jiraiya asked again. "You had Naruto right there in your room. What were thinking walking away from there?"

"I..." Again the young woman was speechless. She felt so guilty she was on the verge of tears as it was.

"You should go back to him." The Sannin's voice was barely audible, not much louder than Hinata's. "You had what you wanted right there. No need to hold back for my sake. We had an arrangement, didn't we? Remember? You get what you want and I get material."

"But..." Hinata hated herself for not having anything better to say. She sounded so childish, so very immature. She couldn't even defend herself properly. "Master Jiraiya...I..." She kept trying to tell herself to spit it out, to tell him how she felt but she still couldn't speak.

Jiraiya was staring down at her, his shock of hair keeping her from seeing even the whites of his eyes. He was waiting for her to speak, far too silent.

"I'm sorry." It was the hardest thing the young woman had ever said and she really had nothing to be sorry for.

"Don't say that." Jiraiya whispered, his fingers reaching out to push Hinata's silken hair back from her face. He was the one bending close to her now and she found that she wanted him to far more than she ever had Naruto. "Don't ever say that to anyone." He said after a long strained moment, their lips brushing. He was the one to initiate the kiss this time, pulling his wife against him the moment his hands had reached her waist.

Hinata began to realize that a kiss was no longer enough. She wanted more...whatever more was. Her own fingers were now resting against Jiraiya's shirt front, curling into the fabric. The kiss was becoming heated to the point that neither of them could pull away, much less breathe. Slowly the young woman's fingers were moving beneath the fabric touching the flat muscled plains of her husband's chest.

The Legendary Sannin moaned softly, her touch sparking something in him that he'd thought long dead. His thoughts, like hers, were far away from the person he thought he loved. They were right here in this moment and no where else.

His own hands were sliding lower, lifting her up by her bottom so that her legs were wrapped around his waist. Crude or not he was about to take her right there in the street. He wanted her that badly. A faint voice in his head was asking him if he was doing this simply of out jealousy. He completely ignored it.

"Jiraiya!" Tsunade's assistant and long time friend came sprinting from the alleyway, followed closely by Ton Ton the pig. Shizune's eyes went wide as she stopped in front of front of Jiraiya and Hinata but she said nothing about their now frozen pose. She looked away and took a shuddering breath, trying to slow it down enough for her to speak. "Tsunade sent me to find you, sir. It's...They've found Neji."