Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto or Bleach
'fear my logic!'-Normal thought
"Fire is pretty"-summon/Bijuu speak, jutsu use
"Leeroy Jenkins!"-summon/bijuu thought
Break the Silence
Team 8 turned to look as the door behind them opened, and their new client stepped through. He looked about 20 years old, and wore average civilian clothing. Nothing out of the ordinary for a client.
"Team 8, this is the man you will be protecting. You are to escort Idate-san here back to his home in the Tea country. After that, the real mission will start. You will receive the details of this upon your arrival from the head of Idate-san's clan, who is the actual client of this mission"
"Expected threats? And mission time?" Anko asked.
"Just bandits and the like. Chances of encountering enemy shinobi are 15 percent at most. As for the mission time, Idate-san has put it at around 7 to 12 days" Sarutobi replied.
"Sounds good. Okay, Team 8, you heard him. Be at the gates at 1300 hours sharp. Pack accordingly"
"Hai sensei" the three said as they turned for the door. Well, Hinata and Shikamaru did anyway, Naruto just jumped to the window and shunpo'd away.
Naruto was in high spirits as he walked towards the Forest of Death with Hinata and Shikamaru. He knew he could just shunpo there, but he didn't want to become dependant on using it to travel.
One of the odd things about the last week was the fact that he wasn't getting a lot of the glares and sneers he usually got from the villagers. He knew the reason why of course, having gotten a completely new outfit, and the fact that he usually wore his hood up out in public to hide his new demonic features. By this time however, word had gotten around enough so that most people were aware that the 'Demon brat' sported a new look. But even then, having been used to the same hideous orange jumpsuit for several years, and the fact that Naruto's features were usually hidden behind his hood made it so that people still didn't always recognize him. Naruto had known that the glares and general animosity would lessen for a time, then return to normal as people realized it was him in the crimson trench coat. Though looks of fear seemed to become more and more often, something Naruto took a little sadistic pride in.
But Naruto's change in wardrobe and demeanor had caused another change in some peoples' opinion of him. One he had not expected at all.
"Naruto," Shikamaru whispered as he leaned over to Naruto, "One o'clock high"
"Yeah, I see 'em" Naruto replied with exasperation. Well speak of the devil. On top of a building at the one o'clock position, Naruto could just barely make out small bits of hair or a limb sticking out from behind a wall. And Naruto's acute smell could also pick up multiple humans hiding around and behind the trio. All of them female. Over the past week, Naruto had developed a new understanding, and sympathy, for the plight of a certain Uchiha.
"Damn fangirls" Naruto muttered to himself.
In all actuality, while Naruto had considered the possibility of him getting a fanclub thanks to his new badass look and demeanor, he hadn't really expected it. After all, everyone in the village practically avoided him like the plague. Shouldn't that apply to the teenage girls as well?
"Apparently not" as Shikamaru had stated the first time Naruto had been stalked by fangirls. Albeit, the fact of Kyuubi and all of the animosity did result in a much smaller fanclub then say, a certain Uchiha survivor, though they did provide a fair bit of annoyance to Naruto when he was outside of the forest of death. Silently, Naruto profusely thanked Anko once again for letting him move in there.
Thankfully however, it seemed Naruto had taken after his father in his almost foolproof method of evading fangirls. Speed jutsus that no one else knows. Shunpo truly was a blessing, Naruto thought to himself as he turned to his companions.
"Well, I guess I'll see you back at the tower then" he said as he vanished. Shikamaru smirked when he heard the disappointed groans of the multiple girls hidden around them.
Hinata meanwhile was in a cross between annoyance and relief. Annoyance at the fangirls who wouldn't leave Naruto, though also at the fact that she was no longer the only girl to realize Naruto-kun's qualities. His change truly was a mixed blessing. At first she had been a bit terrified that she might lose Naruto to one of those harpies, but Shikamaru had assured her that if she was the only girl that Naruto hung out with, then she had the best chance, or probably only chance as he had put it to reassure her further.
Said Nara sighed as he watched the emotions play out on his teammate's face from the corner of his eye.
''sigh' We have got to get those two together soon, for Hinata's sake at least. Damn villagers, and Hyuuga's too'
Maybe this mission would bring new opportunities. If Shikamaru was anything, he was optimistic, no matter how few people knew that.
Naruto looked around with a small amount of apprehension as Team 8, plus their charge, walked through the main gates of Konoha. It was actually his first time outside of the village so he guessed it was natural for him to feel some at least a little uneasy. He was comforted by the fact that Shikamaru and Hinata seemed to show at least a similar amount of unease.
Hinata… What exactly was it about her? During the academy, he had thought she was just some creepy girl who always seemed to have a fever. Now though…
Ever since Team 8 had been formed-no, ever since his changes, he had felt his attitude towards some of his former classmates change drastically. Shikamaru may have been a lazy bastard, but Naruto now knew that he was smarter then most of their classmates combined. And when the shit hit the fan, he was definitely someone who could watch your back.
He hadn't really seen any of his former classmates save Hinata and Shikamaru since the team assignments. He wasn't sure why, but he just didn't really see a need to interact with them. That and he was pretty sure they didn't even recognize him. And he was pretty sure Hinata and Shikamaru were doing the same. Anko-sensei's training schedule didn't really allow for much free time.
But if there was one of his former classmates that wasn't on his team that he had rethought his attitude towards, it would be a certain pink-haired banshee.
Sakura Haruno… During the academy, he had pursued her affection relentlessly, only to be repeatedly shot down (and often beaten) by the Sasuke-fangirl. During those years, he realized he hadn't really had a reason, other then that she was Sakura, as if that alone justified her worthiness of his affection. But after the incident with Mizuki and his realization of being the heir of Kyuubi, he had been forced to rethink his feelings towards the pink-haired girl. No longer did she seem so amazing and no longer did she seem worth pursuing. Heck, she wasn't even worthy of his attention he had realized. She was loud, annoying, and she pointlessly pursued Sasuke like the banshee-like fangirl she was. Chasing after Sakura had been a plea for attention more than anything else.
Hinata on the other hand… Naruto had to drastically rethink his attitude towards her as well. Whereas before he had thought of her as a creepy, dark girl who seemed to always have a fever, now he saw her in a different light. Her blush was suddenly a blush and not a fever, and it was suddenly cute as well. Her eyes were no longer creepy, but oddly pretty and majestic, like some sort of rare jewel.
His perception of her personality had changed as well. Before, no more than a month ago, he had thought of her as that dark, weird girl. Now, she was shy and timid and peaceful, but strong and graceful at the same time. There was a certain beauty to her as well, like he was staring as an angel every time he looked at her.
He had grown far more sympathetic to her as well, having found out she was not a 'pampered princess' like one might think at first glance at her home, but instead quite the opposite. She was practically just like him. Hated for what she had no control over. In fact, in a way she was even worse off. She had been despised and hated not by complete strangers like Naruto, but by her own family. She was in many ways, a kindred spirit to him. And she had taken the realization of his identity not with anger or fear, but with acceptance and sympathy.
He wondered; is this how he should feel? Was this what Sasuke's fangirls had always been preaching that their object of their affection felt towards them? Was he actually… falling in love with Hinata?
He also wondered; could she feel the same way about him? It was true she was kind and sympathetic to his situation, even in a similar one. So, could she feel the same about him? But then… No one had ever seen him like that before. It was true that she was his friend, but could that develop into something more? His thoughts turned back to all the times he was shot down by Sakura, all the times his attempts at gaining her affection, nay, attention. Would Hinata not see him like that? What guarantee was there that she would feel the same way about him? Would she break his heart just like Sakura had?
Deep inside Naruto's mind, Kyuubi shook his head in sympathy. It truly was a terrible thing that the villagers had done to him. He only hoped that this mission could bring new opportunities for his container and the girl he was fast falling in love with. It was true that Kyuubi cared for the girl as well, but that was just because she reminded him of… her.
The four shinobi and one civilian had been walking for a few hours by this point.
Naruto was chatting with Shikamaru while Hinata and Anko were simply looked around. Their client on the other hand, was walking out in front, seemingly lost in his own thoughts.
This was something that had Naruto a bit curious. Idate had hardly said a word this entire trip. He had only spoken when someone had asked him a direct question, and even then the answers were brief and quiet. It was as if he didn't like talking to them.
Shikamaru had noticed this too apparently as he leaned in close to Naruto.
"You might want to watch him. Somehow, I get the feeling he doesn't like us" he whispered.
Naruto simply nodded in agreement. Anko had apparently heard this too and nodded in understanding along with Hinata. Something was up with this guy, and from Anko's drilling, they knew that this could be anything from simply distrust of ninja's in general, to a full-blown planned ambush assassination.
Though Naruto was doubtful that it could be anything to that extreme. His time in Konoha had taught him a lot about reading people, especially reading different levels of animosity. And he could tell that with this guy, it was most likely a good amount of distrust, but nothing beyond that.
Anko on the other hand, was pondering a whole different question. This guy… he looked… familiar. Like she had seen someone like him before. And that name… Idate. She could swear that she had heard that name somewhere. And the way that the guy carried himself spoke volumes too. His upright posture, the lightness of his steps… This guy had obviously had shinobi training at some point in his life, though he was in no way a shinobi.
'Idate… where have I heard that name before? Wait, didn't Ibiki mention someone like that once? Nah. This guy isn't even from Konoha. Must have been someone else'
But Naruto and Anko didn't have the opportunity to ponder further as their client suddenly did something neither of them was expecting.
He ran off down the road.
And not just any normal running mind you. He ran off along the road like Kakashi when the latest Icha Icha was released, which in normal terms is really, really fast.
"Uh… Did we miss something?" Shikamaru asked to no one in particular as Hinata and Naruto called for him to stop.
Anko was quick to take charge however as she leapt upwards.
"Come on! We'll catch 'em faster if we use the trees!"
The three genin were quick to respond, leaping up after her into the foliage and taking off at high speed. They soon adjusted into their normal diamond formation that Shikamaru had devised. Naruto out front to use his heightened senses, Anko and Shikamaru on the flanks to provide cover, and Hinata in the rear to watch for pursuers. Anko took a small moment of pride at just how well off her genin were. With many parts of their training, she normally opted to let them come up with most of it themselves, like Shikamaru with his strategies, Naruto with shunpo, and Hinata with Juuyken. She would only step in with suggestions when she felt they were necessary. Anko's philosophy with their training was to have them function without her intervention as much as possible, just like if they were a team in real life. She wouldn't always be there to take care of them or give them suggestions, so the sooner that they could function on their own, the better. Anko knew that with many genin, this would be asking for trouble, but with hers, it was perfect.
"Man, this guy is really moving out there. I didn't think anybody without shinobi training could move like that!" Naruto yelled in pseudo-amazement.
"I'm wondering what the hell this guy's problem is" Shikamaru muttered, "I mean aren't we supposed to be protecting him?"
Anko just chuckled. "A lot of people don't trust shinobi, Shikamaru. Mostly, they're people who live out in rural areas, not around big cities or shinobi villages. They just don't know much about us, except we have some 'supernatural' abilities, so many of them don't trust us"
"You sure sound like an expert on that subject" Shikamaru replied.
"Well, it is more or less the same reason why so many people in Konoha hate me and Naruto, only to a much lesser level. They just fear what they don't understand, that's all"
"Yeah, but I don't think this guy fits that category" Naruto spoke up.
"So you noticed it too?" Anko replied, looking to Shikamaru as both boys nodded.
"Wait, noticed what?" Hinata asked as she moved up between her sensei and teammate.
"Didn't you see something odd about that guy? The way he walked, the way he carried himself?" Naruto asked from up front.
"Um… come to think of it, yeah" Hinata said as she began to realize it, "He was walking with that certain lightness and bounce to his step. Almost like…" her eyes widened as realization dawned on her.
"…he's had shinobi training" Naruto finished for her. "That's gotta be why he can run so fast. He's channeling chakra to his feet to give himself a speed boost"
"That's true, but that isn't exactly a very complex technique for someone with shinobi training. Especially when tree jumping can be done just as fast with half the effort. I think whatever training this guy has had, it wasn't anything beyond genin level" Shikamaru put in.
"Well that's all well and good, but I think we have bigger things to worry about, like catching up to this guy. At this rate, I think he might even outrun us" Anko spoke up.
At the sound of those words Naruto looked back to his team, a wicked smirk on his face.
"Well then, if this guy seems so proud of his speed, I think its time we showed him what he's dealing with eh?"
"Lemme' guess. Shunpo?" Anko replied with a similar look.
"Oh yeah. I'd say this guy's ego needs to be taken down a few pegs"
"By crushing his ego with yours I gather?" Shikamaru said with an amused grin.
Naruto himself just glanced up, assuming a thoughtful look before returning the gaze.
"Yeah. Pretty much"
And with that, he vanished as his foot connected with the next branch.
Shikamaru just shook his head as he felt the sweatdrop. Hinata on the other hand, was blushing at the confident and fox-like grin Naruto had given them, and by proxy, her.
Anko though, was thinking back to the instructions on shunpo Naruto had told her on the way from Konoha…
Meanwhile, the aforementioned client of the Team 8 was continuing to run at full blast. Idate had trained all his life since fleeing Konoha as a first class runner. A runner that could win the race for his family, the family that had taken him in when he thought he had nothing left.
He didn't need the shinobi protection, and most certainly not shinobi from Konoha. He still didn't know why he had to hire them in the first place. They wouldn't even be able to keep up with him. That's why he had left them in the dust. To show them, and everyone else that he didn't need their protection.
Idate was broken from his train of thought as he grinded to a halt to keep from running into the boy in front of him. A boy that hadn't been their before.
"Wha-What… How did you…?" Idate stammered. He had left this kid and his team in the dust miles back. How did he catch up to him? And where had he come from anyway?
Naruto simply smirked.
"You're not the only fast one around here buddy" he said in a cocky tone as he suddenly vanished.
Glancing around, Idate tried to find where he could have gone, only to find him waving back at him from a tree a least a hundred yards away.
'He IS fast' the man thought in disbelief. He didn't think anyone could move that fast. And he had been a shinobi for Kami's sake.
Naruto suddenly stopped waving and vanished again. Idate wondered what for when the answer hit him. Or rather the tree.
The collision created a massive rumble through the tree, making Idate wonder if whatever it was had actually gone through the tree.
As the dust settled, Naruto and Idate got a good look at what had hit the tree. And then the latter gaped while the former palmed his face and sweatdropped at the same time. Implanted into the side of the tree, with the usual swirls of confusion/dazedness above her head, was Anko.
Pulling one of her hands from the bark, Anko gave Naruto a thumbs up as a muffled voice came through.
She promptly fell out of the tree and onto her back, her eyes swirling in dazedness. Naruto just shook his head as he leapt down to her, noticing that Shikamaru and Hinata had arrived and were looking over her as well.
"What did I tell you before?" Naruto asked in a scolding tone as soon as he knew that Anko could hear him, "You have to make sure you're going in the right direction when you jump. Otherwise you'll just go smashing into things at a hundred kilometers an hour"
"Yeah, yeah" Anko said weakly as she tried to stand, Naruto and Shikamaru moving to help her. As they did, Naruto got under her arm to help support her and Shikamaru did the same, at least tried to. As he moved under her arm, Anko tried to scratch her sore head, pulling her other arm from Naruto's grasp. Unfortunately, she was still quite a bit woozy from the blow to her head and in no real condition to stand. So since Shikamaru was currently trying to get under her arm, physics and gravity kicked in. The result being that Anko did something that would be natural in her condition.
She fell. On Shikamaru.
"Ow" Anko muttered as she tried to clear her head.
"Uh… Anko-sensei" Naruto said, a bit of a chuckle in his voice.
As said purple-haired women looked to him, Naruto pointed to what lay beneath her.
"I think he needs to breath"
For you see, Anko had fallen on Shikamaru face first. Now normally, this might not be a problem. But considering that it was Shikamaru, it was. Because sense Shikamaru was quite a bit shorter then her, his face was currently smashed into her very… ample… chest.
"Oh" Anko quickly got up, quite a bit embarrassed at that while a red-faced Shikamaru sucked in the much-needed air.
"Gah! What is your problem woman?! You almost suffocated me!"
"Ah, but don't you think that was quite an… enjoyable way to be suffocated eh?" she said with a smirk, referring of course to Shikamaru's flushed face, a face obviously not flushed from lack of air. A blush that only got a deeper red at this point.
Naruto and Anko immediately broke out laughing while Hinata giggled a little at their teammates embarrassment, while Shikamaru muttered something about 'crazy perverted senseis'.
Idate on the other hand was recalling what the old man, the closest thing he had to a father in years, had instructed him.
''sigh' I guess I don't have a choice. He wouldn't like it if I tried to ditch the shinobi he hired. And I guess if they can keep up with me I could use their protection I suppose'
In the trees above them, malicious eyes watched from under a large bamboo shade hat.
UHG FINALLY!! You have no idea how frustrating this chapter was to write for some reason. This whole arc is probably only going to cover another chapter or two, and hopefully I'll have the next one up soon. I've decided to start prioritizing Naruto no Kyuubi as a fic to concentrate on. Now that doesn't mean I'm going to stop working on my other three prioritized works (KOTH, Knightfall, Roku Naruto). Expect more soon.
Read and Review please.