I know what some of you are thinking, "HOLY SH*T!!! SHE UPDATED! #%#^$%$#%*&^^%$$#" So yes, you can either read what I have to say, or read the next part of the story. I say read the next part of the story, and what I have to say at the bottom, instead of wasting your time reading this. Anyway, Sorry for the short chapter, and insanely long wait, lol (I'm pro at procrastination! Go figure). The next chapter should be a bit longer. To sum everything up, this is the night before the carnival. Shikamaru, Sakura, and Naruto are all body guards to Temari who came with people from the sand village. Now everything is being set for the next couple days of celebration. Oh, and yes, you get to find out who was at Naruto's door ^_-

Disclaimer: If you couldn't tell from all the chapters so far…I DON'T OWN NARUTO! They belong to their respectable owners…who don't happen to be me. Otherwise I would be rich, and able to afford college instead of hoping for the best day by day. I own the plot, unless there is something in there that belongs to someone else…in which case, sorry, I used it, but it's technically credited to that person. Either way, I make no money from writing this, so don't sue me since you're not going to get anything anyway. If anything, you can have all my college loans. Now stop reading my rant about how poor I am, and read the story! Enjoy! Lol.


Gratification

Chapter 6: A Shakespeare Setting

"WHA-"

His two-genin accomplices quickly covered his mouth, and pulled him onto a tree branch where they could all watch. They had been observing Naruto for some time now, but weren't expecting to have someone visit him so late at night. Konohamaru managed to struggle free from his fellow ninjas' grasp after a few moments.

"What's he doing there?"

Neither genin responded, but simply watched what was happening in the room where Naruto stood.

In the room, Naruto was also attempting to make sense of the situation as well, "Choji?"

It only took a few more moments before Shikamaru was visible,"Hiya Naruto."

"What are you two doing here so late?"

"As troublesome as it is, this was the only time we were both able to ask you a favor, and explain the situation. Do you mind if we come in?"

"Oh, uh, Sure," Naruto then stepped to the side to allow the two entrance into his apartment.

Shikamaru noticed how unclean the area was. There were ramen bowls piled up in the sink, on the kitchen table, and the trash was full to the top of easy-make ramen bowls. Otherwise, the rest of the apartment was decent. He took his place at the kitchen table, and shoved over some of the trash. Choji joined him, and so did Naruto.

"What's going on?" Naruto finally asked.

"The festival is beginning tomorrow afternoon, and lasting for a few days. Even though every ninja is on patrol, missions, or busy during this time, Choji has a personal mission."

Naruto looked at Choji who was slightly unsure, but looked back at Naruto with the same stoic face, "What personal mission is that?"

Choji was the one who answered; "I was hoping to...er...get a date with Ino..." he blushed slightly as he said the statement.

Naruto had a different reaction however, "I-Ino? You mean the Ino? Your teammate who constantly reminds you that you're a fa-"Shikamaru had been able to anticipate the next words, and leapt out of his seat to cover Naruto's mouth just in time even though the hand he used to push himself over the table was now in a rament bowl.

"Huh? Why did you cover his mouth Shikamaru?"

Shikamaru glared at Naruto for a moment, silently communicating his thoughts before he released him, "I thought I heard something outside, so I had to silence Naruto immediately."

The three genin's outside suddenly felt a chill go up the back of their spines, and ducked down farther down in the tree.

Shikamaru sat back in his chair before continuing, "How troublesome. Yes, the Ino you just described is who Choji wants a date with. And-"

"I get it. I get it. Since I'm the almighty Naruto, Future Hokage, to-be living legend, and, out of all the possible choices, am the only one who is capable of fulfilling your request, it is my duty as a friend to-"

"No."

The room fell silent with both Shikamaru and Choji staring at Naruto as if he were an idiot while Naruto face faulted into the kitchen table.

Naruto popped up,"Eh?" then tilted his head, and arched an eyebrow at Shikamaru, "What?" He had never been shut down like that before.

"We were actually going to ask you to deliver the message to Sakura-san."

Naruto nailed the ground immediately from the response.

"However, certain complications prevented us from using Sakura-san, Neji-san, Kiba-san, and so you became the best choice."

Naruto's mouth dropped, "So I'm the best...A-Alternative?"

"Sure." Choji finally said, disregarding the last statement. Naruto continued to stare at Choji as if he were joking or just plain out cruel for putting his hopes down.

'This is so troublesome...I knew this was a bad idea...' Shikamaru sighed before saying, "Now that you understand our situation, and we have your cooperationno here is my plan."

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The night air was refreshing compared to her room. She had been sitting on the tree branch with her legs dangling for almost an hour now. Naruto's words, earlier that day, in relation to her forehead baffled her to no end.

She noticed she had become more bold suddenly, or maybe even more careless towards Naruto since they kissed. It was as if the barrier which had separated them was broken, but her old habits still got the better of her. This past week or so had been like a roller coaster. There were moments when she felt their relationship was only a mere friendship, and yet there were times when he would simply surprise her with his words and personality. She found herself falling in love with him...only for him to ruin those moments with something else he would say or do.

"You have a large charming forehead...Made me want to kiss it..."

'It's not possible...'

She repeated the phrase in her head multiple times, trying to think of how it was possible for Naruto to have said the exact phrase Sasuke said. Maybe he overheard them, or Sasuke had told him at some point...Maybe he really did think of it on his own, and it was just a fluke...The possibilities were endless. She was finally distracted from her thoughts when she saw a figure coming in her direction.

When the figure was close enough, she could hear a familiar female voice say, "I thought I would find you here."

"How did you-"

"Because it's where we use to come when we were younger."

Sakura smiled softly, remembering fond memories when she used to pick flowers with her ex-female rival.

"What are you doing here?" Sakura finally asked.

"Unfortunately, Forehead girl, you're the only person who can help me with this," she said as she blushed slightly and looked down at her feet.

Sakura couldn't believe what she was hearing, but smiled anyway, "...so...you're consenting to the fact that I am better than you in every aspect?"

"W-What?! I never said that!" Ino retorted as she crossed her arms, "We're still rivals to some extent of course, but if you don't want to help...fine...I'll think of another way."

Her facial expression became slightly more serious, "Okay, okay, what do you need help with?"

The question caused the girl to blush more, "I-I like someone on your team, and...I was hoping since...you know, since you knew him it would be e-easier to...t-to..."

"It would be easier for you to get alone time?" Sakura responded as if she could read Ino's mind. Ino nodded in response, and Sakura couldn't help, but feel as if she had expected this from her former rival.

After a few moments of consideration she finally responded to Ino's plea, "I'll help you out then, Ino-Pig," she continued, "But on one condition..."

"Hm?"

"You owe me."

It looked as if the wheels were turning in Ino's head at that moment. By making this agreement she would be in debt to her rival, but at least she would get what she wanted in the end even if it wasn't Sasuke. A few more seconds, and Ino agreed.

"So who is the guy anyway, Ino-Pig?" Sakura asked even though the choices were limited. It was Yamato, Sai, or Kakashi since there was no way it was Naruto. Both blondes had never quite gotten along since it had been Ino and her who had made fun of him the most when they were younger.

"Don't tell anyone...but it's...it's...um..."

"Yeah?"

"Um...it's..."

"Spit it out. It can't be that hard, can it?"

"Okay. Okay. It's...Naruto."

Sakura felt like she had been thrown into a washer with ten thousand bricks nailing every inch of her body with Ino's voice echoing in the back saying Naruto's name. "Wha-What did you just say?" Why was her mouth suddenly scraping the ground as well?

"Na-Ru-To...U-Zu-Ma-Ki. Naruto. Our class' clown...been on your team since...I don't know- the BEGINNING...He really did change after a few years...I didn't think I would be so embarrassed to admit it, but he has become quite attractive."

Sakura was still trying to register what Ino was saying. Was he really that popular? How was she supposed to respond to that?

"HELL NO PIG! HE'S MINE!!!" Inner Sakura was screaming at the top of her lungs.

'She can't be serious, this is Ino were talking about...change? When did he?' She thought for a few moments, 'I guess he did change since we were younger, but I shouldn't overreact...I mean we only kissed...once...and have been on almost every mission together so far since he got back...and when we were younger...I know him better than she does...why is she waving her hand in my face while giggling? This isn't funny!'

"Forehead girl?" Ino was waving her hand in front of Sakura's face while giggling.

"What's so funny?" Sakura unintentionally snapped back.

"Um..." Ino started laughing at this point, "You should have seen your face. It was priceless."

The last part of what Ino said seemed to knock Sakura out of her current chain of thought. She stepped back slightly confused by her friend's eccentric actions, but finally made the connection between her answer and the laughter.

"Damn it, Ino-pig! Stop messing around, who is it?"

Ino blushed, yet smiled confidently, "Sai."

Once again Sakura felt her mouth hit the ground, but not for the same reasons. Yamato or Kakashi would have been better choices all around, "You do realize that he's not as nice as he seems, right? That he is actually quite vulgar, and doesn't understand it isn't appropriate to vocalize certain thoughts?"

"He seems nice enough to me."

"When he is around people, but not one on one."

Sakura watched as Ino revaluated the situation, "Okay, okay. Maybe I was being a little unreasonable."

"I'm happy you came to your senses," Sakura commented with a sigh of relief.

"I should have attempted much earlier."

"W-What?" Sakura's words were only backed up by her thoughts of, 'Eh...?'

"So are you going to help me out or not?"

'She'll just have to learn on her own then...' With a sigh, Sakura responded downheartedly, "What did you have in mind?"

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The whole village slept peacefully that night awaiting the carnival the next day. Only the Hokage stood restlessly at the window in her office overlooking the entire village. Her arms rested on the window sill as she hunched over it. She had been up for a few hours now enjoying the view. It was quiet, and allowed her to think peacefully for once. The silence was broken by the door to her office creaking open. She straightened up, and crossed her arms as she turned her head to see the intruder only to let down her guard when she saw her fellow sennin walk through the door. His white hair glistening as he came into the moonlight.

"What are you doing up here so late at night?"

"I should be asking you the same question," she responded with a smile.

He only smirked in response, and walked to her side inches away from her. Tsunade was almost uncomfortable with the distance, but wasn't going to complain. Both stood content enjoying the senery until Tsunade broke the silence.

"I don't think I've ever seen you use the door."

"I didn't feel like making you put up your guard at this time of night. Your hits can be extremely painful." He smiled as if he were proud to know that fact, while Tsunade smirked with pride from that comment. Both relaxed once again.

Tsunade smiled knowlingly as she informed him, "The carnival starts tomorrow."

"So I've been told," he too smiled, knowing what was to come, "It will definitely offer a good supply of ideas for my new book."

Jiraiya laughed while Tsunade refrained from hitting him, but felt her eyebrow twitch and vein bludge from annoyance. He was the only one who would willingly admit to something like this.

"If I catch you peeking at any female that's even partically undressed-" Tsunade began saying as she slowly found her form towering over him.

"Easy now Tsunade-hime," he said as he raised both his hands towards her as if to prevent her from hitting him at that moment, "I'll be on my good behavior this time."

Jiraiya watched as Tsunade backed off into her previous position, and felt as if his body had just been spared. She looked away from him, and his words made her turn back to face him.

"Other than that, it will also be a good conclusion to your plan and our bet."

"Yeah...I'll be expecting to go to the hot springs once the carnival finishes."

He let out a merry laugh, "Our date will be the last night of the carnival." He winked at her, "You'll enjoy it. It will be in here if anything."

"In here?"

He nodded, "You'll just have to find out then."

"Humph, we'll see about that." Tsunade crossed her arms, and looked back at the village. Jiraiya took the opportunity to sneak a peek at her through the corner of his eye. Her profile radiated in the moonlight. His eyes trailed down her profile until they stoped on her upper torso. He tilted his head down, and closed his eyes with his same perverted smile finding it's way onto his face.

"Tsunade-hime..."

She rotated her head to look at him, "Hm?"

"I'm happy I had a big-breasted woman as my partner all these years."

Within seconds he was flying over Konoha with a giant shoe print on his rear from Tsunade while she yelled warnings at him from the window where they had both been standing.

The only thought to pass through his head while he soared through the night sky with a smirk was, 'I still got it.'


Yes, Yes, another cliffhanger of doom. XD I thought I should at least post this to give everyone who has been reading this story recently some hope of me continuing…I couldn't quite leave everyone hanging. So yes, this is me hopelessly attempting to finish this story, because some of the recent reviews that were left motivated me to continue. ^_- Everyone who has left a review, I can't thank you enough since it is probably the only reason I even came back to this story in the end. My main focus is to finish this story, and I apologize in advance if the following chapters aren't quite as long as the previous ones. I appreciate the feedback, but I can't do anything about how long I take to post chapters. = ( As much as it pains me, my life can no longer revolve around stories. Also, I'm sorry if I let anyone down with this chapter. I know it's probably not what many expect, but it's how I initially wanted the story to go. Lol, I hope everyone liked my subliminal messages =D Have an awesome day! Now please leave a review!

Update (12/23): Thank you Agent-G! I added more detail to all the sections in this chapter to clarify what was happening.