Here is the next chapter.

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Journey Home

Chapter 8

Holulo was like no city Iruka had ever seen. The place was filled with markets and merchants at every corner of every street. It could fit two Konohas into its boundaries and still had room to wiggle. The lights and noises that orchestrated through the alleys and streets were new sensations for Iruka; they were nothing he had ever seen or head before.

Looking upward towards a large neon pink lighted sign hanging over an inconspicuous door, reading "Candy-Apple Bar", Iruka wasn't aware that the others in his party had dispersed in various directions. This left Iruka alone in a city he didn't know, with a more than obvious appearance of being a tourist.

It wasn't until a removed rowdy patron from the bar began to lean on Iruka for physical support for the rapidly moving world, that Iruka noticed that he was left alone to gawk at the city's bright signs and largely placed posters. With quiet and concerned apologies, Iruka left the man on the side of the curb, out of harms way from passersby and, hopefully, from against himself, Iruka moved out deeper into the city in search of his friends. He was most certainly going to find Ellen, who he knew was the last person carrying his only son, Kichirou.

After coming across three prostitutes, five whore houses, and beyond the patience of counting of bars, Iruka declared the city beyond respectful for his son's innocent eyes and probably the perfect place for Jarayia, the old man would love this place. With new and more unwavering determination, Iruka made his way through the streets towards a small but very strong chakra wave that he recognized only to be his son's.

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It was early morning by the time Kakashi's team showed up at the only city in miles that was able to create day at night, Holulo. With some smooth talking from Kakashi, and some extra money from Naruto's froggy money bag, two rooms were established at a somewhat acceptable hotel on the downtown area of the city.

With all their gear secured and the rooms situated for a shinobi's stay, filled with booby traps and spell hidden jutsus, Kakashi's team began their rundown of the objectives for their mission.

"We will meet Mr. Mtsusha at the corner of Wimbler and Bleach Streets later today at 5pm sharp, at that point we will escort him back to this hotel room before setting off to our drop-off location," Kakashi gave the mission details quickly in an uninterested and bored fashion that he was known for. "And remember to keep your chakra under wraps, we don't know who might be fighting and don't need them analyzing our chakras to be able to make battle plans against us before we know who they are. Questions?" He looked straight at Sakura, the girl always had questions and was always second guessing him in almost, maybe every, decision he made.

"I have one Kakashi," Sakura wasted no time to offer her first question the row of hundreds that she was planning on asking her old sensei. "Why are we meeting Mr. Mtsusha between those streets, when these others," she pointed at the map of the city that Kakashi had laid out across the coffee table that sat in the corner of the room, "would be better choices? And why does Mr. Mtsusha need an escort? Also,shouldn't we leave someone behind to guard the rooms incase the situation for Mr. Mtsusha is dire?"

With an annoyed sigh and a roll of his eye, Kakashi decided to amuse his student and answer her questions his favorite way, "Because those street names are more suitable. Because he asked for one and paid for a Konoha escort. And finally, thank-you for volunteering to stay behind to watch the rooms for the entire day. Any more questions?"

Sakura fell silent; an angry and dangerous aura filled the space around her, making Naruto take a step outside the range of her reach. She had wanted to go shopping before the mission went down, but now Kakashi was going to put her on watch duty for the hotel rooms. Kakashi could be such an ass at times, and it wasn't fair that Naruto didn't get loaded with the same amount of work she had to do now; he was the more useless one in the group.

Not knowing the cruel ranting being done about his character in his pink haired partner's head, Naruto shook his head quickly. Already making plans on where he was going to go before the objective time arrived. The time on clock in the room warned him that he had about five more hours to wonder around the city and buy souvenirs for his friends back in Konoha before he would have to be back for the mission. The sooner Kakashi finished giving out objectives and duties the faster he could go out and wonder.

"Alright, with all that settled, I plan on doing some reconnaissance before 5pm, Sakura you will stay here and keep eye on home base, and Naruto, just stay out of trouble," Kakashi gave Naruto an upside down u-shaped smile with his eye, before casually walking out the door to do his so-called reconnaissance, that both Sakura and Naruto knew was just him hitting up any porn book stores they had here.

"I bet you, Sakura, that they must have hundreds of ramen stands here and with hundreds of different kinds of ramen to try and taste," folding his hand in front of him in a form of a prayer, Naruto's mind began to wonder with all the delicacies and flavors he was about to try. Drool pooled and poured out of his mouth, Sakura had to take a step back to avoid the puddle of drool forming at his feet.

"Naruto, nock it off," Sakura folded her arms across her chest, a stance that Naruto meant he was about to get a lecture from the overachiever in their group, "You need to be more serious about this. We were hired as shinobi, and are expected to act as shinobi. As. A. Responsible. Shinobi. So you can't be acting like your normal self here. Why don't you go out and do some 'responsible' reconnaissance, like what is expected from a shinobi of Konoha." A hurt pout showed on Naruto's face, he wasn't a kid anymore but Sakura was always treating him like one. How was he supposed to prove anything to her if she didn't give him a chance to prove it?

"I know, Sakura. I just need some food before I scavenged the streets, and ramen is just what I need. I was just going to hit one ramen stand and have a few bowls. I promise I'll be a serious shinobi once I have some food in me," long ago Naruto learned that having soft blue eyes paid off when trying to give that hurt puppy eyes look. Everyone crumbled to its power, even Sakura found herself softening to Naruto's teary eyes.

"Fine," she would never admit that she crumbled to this idiot's will, "but you have to be careful. Our client has us escorting him for a reason, so we might have enemies at every corner and shadow." Sakura leaned forward with a menacing look, determined to get the point across, "If something happens and you get yourself into trouble, you're on your own. Don't plan on coming for me to get help, because I'll tie you to a post to make it easier for them to get you."

Naruto hated scary-Sakura, because not only was she mean but she had the strength to pummel you, after training with the fifth hokage for a couple years, if you gave her a reason to. With a quick nod of his head and now finding himself clinging to the walls for dear life, he quickly removed himself from the hotel's room. Before leaving he was given direct orders from Sakura to bring her back some nice souvenirs to give to her friends and that she wanted a nice outfit to wear in Konoha for the next time she came across Ino.

The streets were filled with people of every kind, some of them looking like city had decided to eat them and then spit them out into a garbage bin. Naruto moved quickly through the streets looking for one of the signs to read ramen. He was having no luck on the road he was on, and decided to take one of the side streets. Sooner or later he would have to come across a ramen shop.

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John watched his mother enter another clothing store, claiming that Iruka needed new clothes from the rags he had been wearing for the couple of days in a row. Iruka didn't have spare clothes like they did, so after they had taken baths and cleaned themselves Iruka would be back in the clothes he was just in, though recently washed. John hated shopping with his mother, he wish Mike was still here so he could talk and hang out with him. The thought of Mike had John gasping for air as he tried to be strong and not cry in front of these strangers.

Sometime dearing their shopping expedition, his mother had handed Kichirou over to him so that she could use both her hands when looking at items. Looking down in his arms, Kichirou was playing with a funny looking purple doll that John's mother had bought for the kid to play with.

Sitting on the curb, that seamed to be covered in some black grime down some of its creases, John held Kichirou out so that his feet touch the ground. During the last time him and Mike were playing Kichirou, just before Mike's death, they had Kichirou taking standing and taking baby steps. They hadn't told Iruka yet; the plan was to have Kichirou walk to Iruka from across the room to really surprise Iruka about what his kid could do.

Kichirou didn't much mind that he was now standing on small, wobbly legs by himself, he was far to interested in his doll to care about what he was succeeding into. Hearing someone yell from off in the distance caught his attention, looking at John to make sure everything was okay, Kichirou looked back down to continue to analyze and play with his doll, taking precautionary step toward the only person he knew around him at the moment.

They sat, and stood, quietly with each other in the chaos of people. John couldn't help but wonder what his father was doing at the moment, and how he couldn't have been lucky enough to be with him at the moment. Looking off to the side for only a split second, he turned back to look at Kichirou only to find the kid gone.

Heart pounding wildly in fright, how was he supposed to explain this to Iruka? How was he supposed to explain this to his mother? John looked all around, looking everywhere and anywhere. No Kichirou. Iruka was a trained shinobi; the man was going to kill him for losing his son. His mother was going to kill him for not being responsible enough to watch a kid who could barely walk.

"Kichirou? Kichirou!?" John stood on the curb yelling into the crowd, not to sure what to expect. The kid couldn't talk, let alone yell back with the location of where he was at. John knew was screwed at this point.

"What are you doing, sweetheart? And where is Kichirou?" His mother was standing at the door looking at him, already coming to her own conclusions about the situation. Not good.

"Nothing," John answered to quickly. "And Kichirou is over there," John pointed off in a random direction, "I'll go get him." Like bat out of hell, John was off running off into the crowd, pushing and excusing himself against the people. Behind him, he could hear his mother yelling his name after him. Before anyone could stop him, he was gone. John was now in a frantic search for a baby in a large city filled with dangers, before he would have to head back and explain himself to everyone.

He was going to be in so much trouble.

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Finally, he found a ramen stand. Naruto couldn't have been any happier for himself; it had only taken him about two hours and far too many random turns down streets to find it. It wasn't large like the one back in Konoha, but it sat at least five customers, and at the moment only two people were sitting. More than enough room for him to grab a seat and order some ramen.

Moving quickly to an open seat right in the middle of all the seats, he sat quickly down and began reading the menu that hung from the sign over the counter. The menu was missing some of his favorites, but it definitely had some new ones he never heard of before. If any of them were good, he planned to tell the ramen shop keeper about them so that the man could start working out some new recipes to sell at his stand.

Once the cook and owner of the ramen stand came around to take his order, Naruto had decided he still had enough money to try each of the bowls once. Hopefully they were all as good as the ones back in Konoha. With a surprised look on his face, the owner quickly moved to the back to quickly to make the orders. Naruto didn't think he order too much; he was still growing and needed a lot of food to keep up the energy of a still growing young man.

It only took the man about twenty minutes to bring up the orders, which took up most of the counter space now, but by this time the two customers found it too crowded for their own bowl, had given thanks and had left the entire stand open for Naruto and his appetite. Right away Naruto began shoveling the food into his mouth, he was starving and the ramen really was good. But still not as good as Konoha's ramen.

He had reached his third bowl, made of sauerkraut, sausage, and various vegetables, that Naruto felt someone touch his back. Turning around to see the person who wanted his attention, he found that no one was there. There wasn't anyone close enough to touch him and, without too much worry, went back to eating his food.

This time someone, or something, had touched the side of his leg. Looking over to his right, with some wet noodles hanging out of his mouth, he didn't see anyone again. This had him confused and frustrated. Who would interrupts a man's time to eat?

Something soft landed in his lap. Looking down, Naruto saw what looked like a purple stuffed humanoid doll lying awkwardly on his lap; its arm was torn with some of its stuffing coming out of it. Continuing looking down, Naruto turned to his right again to look at a little kid looking up at him with expecting and eager brown eyes. Something about those eyes reminded him of someone. But who?

"What you want kid? Can't see I'm trying to eat?" Naruto slurped up the noodles, spraying broth on the kid below him by accident. Handing the doll back the kid, Naruto continued his meal of glorious ramen. Again he felt something land on his lap. The doll laid there waiting, with its torn arm demanding attention.

"What you want me to fix your doll?" Naruto looked at the kid, not really expecting an answer and sure enough didn't receive one. "I'm not really good with dolls, you know? I'm a boy; boys don't really play with dolls unless they are about your age." This time Naruto really looked at the kid, it didn't seem like the runt was going to leave anytime soon. At least not until his weird purple doll got fixed.

"Where are your parents?" Suddenly a thought hit Naruto. What if the kid didn't have parents and was an orphan like him. Finding new resolution inside himself, Naruto picked up the kid and sat him on the stool next to him. "Here's the deal, let me finish eating, and you can have some too, and I'll get this weird looking doll fixed," Naruto lifted up the doll by the uninjured arm waving in front of the kid's face.

For such a small kid that still had puffy cheeks, the kid seemed to have understood everything Naruto had said.

The kid blinked once and sat himself looking forward, looking at all the food. It had been the smell of the nice food that had gotten his attention in the first place that made him come over here.

The owner filled a small bowl with some of Naruto's ramen, though a kind man, he wasn't about to hand out free ramen with every cute kid he saw. Placing it front of the child, with the noodles and ingredients chopped to prevent the kid from choking; both him and Naruto watched as the kid reached in with his hands and proceeded to self hand feed himself.

"You better be worth it kid," lifting one of his bowls to his face, Naruto finished the last of his sauerkraut ramen. It had a very strange flavor to it, but it wasn't resolutely bad to the taste buds.

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Ellen watched her son run off into the crowd of people to chase after Iruka's son, at least for her son's sake he had better have been. The boy could be such a handful at times, just like his father.

Holding the clothes and gifts she had purchased close to her chest, Ellen began strolling down the road to the next store of goods. A casual tap to her shoulder had her freeze instantly, what if it were more of those dangerous shinobi out for her family's blood. She quickly mentally prepared herself whatever was about to happen.

"Ellen, where's my son, Kichirou?" Iruka looked into Ellen's face, concern etching themselves into worried lines on his forehead. Ellen released a breath she didn't know she was holding, and instantly felt safe around the man.

"He's with John," Ellen patted his upper arm to comfort the worried father, "They are safe and John won't let anything happen to the little sprite." Ellen believed in her words, even if she was worried that she might regret them later.

"If you say so," Iruka's demeanor seemed to relax at Ellen's last statement; he knew that John was a responsible young adult who would watch over Kichirou with watchful eyes. But something inside him, a father instinct, was telling him that something might not be right with all of this. "But if it's alright with you, can we go find them? I haven't had a chance to hold Kichirou today, and I kind of feel bad for neglecting him like that." Iruka's face crumbled with guilt at his last statement, making Ellen laugh.

"Of course, sweet heart," Ellen entwined her free arm with his, as they walked off in the direction she had last seen her soon run off to.

From the corner of Iruka's eye he thought he saw silver hair standing in hairstyle that he know only one person to have, but when he looked over he didn't see anything other some fur coats out on a sale rack outside a tailor's shop, which sat next to what looked like an adult's book store.

He was seeing things that he wanted to see, what he had thought to be Kakashi's hair had to have been of those fur coats catching his attention with the light hitting them just right. That had to be it.

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Holulo was a maze of a city, streets would end in twenty degree angles which would allow another street to merge with it and make into a new street with a new name. If he didn't find Kichirou soon, he would so lost he wouldn't be able to find his own way out to find help. John was looking under containers and asking every other person if they had seen a kid with Kichirou's descriptions.

"Awe, I believe I saw such a lad enter that stand over there, boy," an old man walking with an old, crooked cane pointed at a small ramen stand off towards the right side of the street. John quickly sprinted towards the location, after giving thanks to the helpful stranger.

He threw the curtains open with a giant sweep of his arms, not sure what he would find. There on the stool, shoving ramen into his mouth with small hands, sat Kichirou. Next to Kichirou was a blonde kid who looked about the same age as Mike was. At the moment the kid was trying to stitch up the arm of the purple looking doll.

"Kichirou! Why did you run off?" John spun Kichirou around so that he was looking into the wide bewildered eyes of a toddler, checking to see if Iruka's son was injured or scratched.

"Oh, is this kid yours?" The blonde looked up from his handy work, looking up at John. Judging and calculating John at that moment, which made John's breath freeze inside his lungs. Kichirou had met up with some kid shinobi. What if the shinobi was with those others? Even if this shinobi was a kid, he was still dangerous.

"Yeah," think, John, think, "he's my little brother." It was the only thing that came up in his mind to say; he always wanted a little brother.

"He doesn't look anything like you," the blonde shinobi stood up, looking at John and Kichirou. This time John knew the kid was trying to analyze the situation, John just had to make sure that he was quicker with words than the shinobi was smart. If all shinobi were smart as Iruka, this kid was going to be hard to trick.

"We have different fathers," John lifted Kichirou up, setting him against his hip like he saw his mother do a hundred times with Kichirou. It felt kind a weird, but this wasn't the time to worry about it. The faster he was able to get Kichirou away from this shinobi the better.

"Oh," the kid with the scratch marks on both his cheeks thought John's words over in his head quietly, "ok." That was it; John couldn't believe he just fooled a trained shinobi. Then again this kid might not be a shinobi after all; he didn't seem to be all that dangerous.

"My name's Naruto Uzamaki." The kid pointed his thumb at himself with a big grin across his face; maybe he wasn't all that bad after all. "I'm a shinobi from the Village Hidden in the Leaf, and I plan to become the next hokage of my village."

This wasn't good. This Naruto kid really was a shinobi. John had to get rid of him before he figured out that maybe Kichirou was his target. He didn't want anymore people he cared about to die. "Nice to meet you, Naruto," John forced a calm smile across his face as his heart pounded crazy in his chest. "My name's John."

"John? That's a weird name," Naruto tilted his head to get a better look at him. He never heard of someone being named something like that before. John had to be from somewhere really far away. That wasn't so bad; Naruto didn't mind making new friends from faraway places. "What's his name?" Naruto pointed at Kichirou, who was trying to get at a noodle on the back of his hand with his mouth.

"His name's….Um, that is…" John looked at Kichirou, trying to think of a name with nothing coming to mind, "His name is….Michael." John did a silent prayer of forgiveness from his older brother, though he doesn't think his brother would have minded.

"Nice to meet you, John and Michael," Naruto reached out a hand to shake John's, with a bit too much excitement. "So, do you guys live around here? This place is humungous and if I wasn't a shinobi, I probably would be lost right about now." Naruto ended his statement with a laugh, unwilling to admit that he was completely lost in the city and was silently hoping they knew had to get back to his hotel. Sakura was going to be furious with him.

"No, we're just visiting," John felt a sweat drop on the side of his head, this wasn't good. He needed to get away from this shinobi, and he need to do it now before the others came in and ruined his alibi.

"Well me and Michael have to get going, have to meet up with mother," John said walking about backwards, not trusting to turn his back to a well-trained killing machine. "Well, see you around, maybe," not if he could help it, "Bye." With a crazy pull of strength and speed, John made a mad dash towards freedom which was as far away as possible from this shinobi.

"Wait," Naruto called out to John's retreating figure, but the kid didn't hear him, "Dang it. I had wanted to ask you about Michael's father. He reminded me of someone." Naruto thought about those large doe eyes looking up at him and the small amount of chakra emitting from him seem familiar also.

Michael could make a good shinobi one day. Squeezing his hands at the frustration at not knowing whose eyes the kid's reminded him of, Naruto noticed that he was still holding the little kid's purple plushy.

Looking at the clock on the side of the little ramen stand, wondering if he had enough time to chase down the kid and return the doll. Damn, only twenty minutes. How did so much time go by? And he didn't even get all the stuff Sakura wanted. Looking at the purple doll, "I wonder if you'll count as a souvenir?"

Naruto looked around the streets, he was still lost. He was never going to make it back to the hotel in time. Sakura was going to kill him by the time Kakashi would actually decide to show up to start the mission.

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Ellen and Iruka had taken another turn down a street that looked just like all the others they had been walking down. Ellen had never been so happy to find out that shinobi could track down others by what was called chakra that inhabited almost every person on varying levels.

About three minutes down this road, they were coming across John and Kichirou sitting on the side of the curb. John looked like he was out of breath and Kichirou was crying and trying to wiggle out of John's grasp in some form of a tantrum.

"What happened? Are you guys okay?" Iruka was quick in picking up Kichirou to check him over, but everything seemed to be right. He hugged his son to his chest, afraid if he let go that he might be once again off on a search to find his only child again. John stood up under his mother's glare, shuffling his feet nervously.

"We're fine, sir," John looked up to meet Iruka's eyes, guild written everywhere on his body. "I didn't mean to scare you both, but you see I wa-"

"It's not important," Iruka interrupted, he didn't want to know what happened and with them both safe, whatever happened while they were off on their own was important. "I'm just glad both of you are safe."

"Me too," Ellen spoke sternly, planning of making John tell her the whole story at a later date. "Well let's go meet with your father, he's probably waiting for us at the hotel." This time as they walked back in the opposite direction, Ellen had her arm entwined with her son's as Iruka tried to comfort Kichirou, but Kichirou didn't seem to want to be calmed down at the moment. That's when Ellen noticed something.

"Where's that adorable doll I bought Kichirou? Did he loose it already?" Ellen looked at her son, waiting for his answer.

John cursed himself for forgetting to take the doll from the shinobi back, but it was too late for that. At least he could tell the truth about that, well maybe a shaded truth, "We lost it." Looking at his mother with an innocent smile, "Can't you just buy him another?"

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Looking at the clock over the cashier's shoulder, Kakashi saw that it was already 5 o'clock in the afternoon. Time sure went by quick when enjoying the peace and quiet without his over zealous team. The know it all Sakura and the maverick Naruto, who caused trouble every direction he went.

Maybe he should have told his team that the meeting wasn't really until 6pm, but getting ready early is a good character builder. With a clean conscious, Kakashi walked out the store with a bag filled heavy with maybe more than twenty books. This store had the triple amount of good books that they had in Konoha.

He couldn't believe he literally spent his entire free time for the day just in about two stores. The first one had a lot more literature, but nothing as good as this second store's selection. The second store had more of the reading that he appreciated.

Looking over to his side, the store next this book store seemed to be having some kind of sale of fur coats. Didn't look like any of it was of high quality, and he wasn't much interested in wearing dead animal fur. Not much of a reason to wear stylish clothes if every moment of a shinobi's life a matter of life and death. One might not have enough time to wonder if the shirt matches the shoes.

With quick calculated leap, he was off jumping and moving on top of roofs and houses. In a matter of moments he would be back to the hotel where his annoying team would be waiting for him. Life could be so cruel.

Not to mention he kept picking up a strange but weak chakra level for the entire day, but because it didn't seem as though the user was trying to hide it, he never bothered to go out and look for the source. It wasn't worth his time, and if anything was going to happen to it, it would probably lead back to Naruto.

The day couldn't end any worse? Kakashi thought with an exasperated thought about what he would find in the hotel, probably Naruto's limp body with Sakura standing over it. He quickly covered up a snicker that was building inside him, and continue pounding towards his destination.

Okay, everyone…Here it is. The next chapter. This chapter took forever. Sorry it took so long, I've been busy with school and work. I figured with all the time from the last time I updated, people would forget all about this story. But I was wrong….people were continually adding reviews. So I decided to use up some of my free time and write this chapter for you all. Especially those who have been leaving behind reviews. Thank you!!

I hope you guys like Chapter 8. I always get nervous about posting the next chapter, afraid that you guys might not like it or something. Please leave a review. Reviews help out a lot! Thanks for reading, and have a happy Thanksgiving everyone.