Agent's Spiel:This story diverges after the failed rescue of Uchiha Sasuke (around Ch. 238), this should be apparent by the end of the chapter.

I started writing the original form of this right around the time that Kakashi Gaiden (through Ch. 244) was coming out. I'm trying to follow canon as much as possible up to that point, but a few things have been changed. There will be some mild spoilers, typically in the form of people or jutsu that have been introduced up through chapters in volumes 35 and 36. The only known spoiler for later than this is the Yondaime's real first name. It is said in this chapter.

There shouldn't be any plot spoilers; I'm just trying to avoid unnecessary original characters and my poor attempts at creating jutsu.

Also, I tend to use the phrase 'Rookies' to describe the remaining Rookie 9 and Gai's team. Genin doesn't technically apply to all of them and I don't like using 'teens' more than I need to so be prepared to see this for quite some time even when they are no longer considered rookies.

Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto or any characters from said manga. They are owned by Masashi Kishimoto and a number of other interested companies.

Happy Ending

Sakura lounged lazily at the side of Naruto's training field waiting for her exuberant teammate to finish arguing with his equally exuberant teacher. The heated argument had lasted almost ten minutes as Naruto tried to convince Jiraiya to let him off a bit early that day so that he could join the rest of his friends. Sakura knew Jiraiya would give in eventually, after all the only reason she had off was that was her sensei had a meeting scheduled with Jiraiya within the next hour. "When do you plan on interrupting?" Neji asked serenely from behind her.

Sakura leaned back and smiled at Team's Gai and Asuma as they lounged against several trees. "Umm…I figure I'll give him another twenty minutes," Sakura shrugged. "Tsunade-shishou wouldn't like it if I sent Jiraiya-sama up there in a bad mood."

"The longer you wait, the longer we have to wait for lunch," Chouji whined.

"But we must wait! We cannot interrupt such a display youthful debate as has been set before us. For to watch the amazing Jiraiya-sama display his wit is a chance that few ever receive," Lee proclaimed.

Sakura wasn't sure she would consider the childish insults being traded back and forth by Naruto and Jiraiya to be a debate, or even particularly witty. Although, she was a bit surprised by the number of different ways Naruto had discovered to call someone a pervert. She was interrupted from her thoughts when she was pounced on by a dog.

"Waiting for Naruto?" Kiba asked, beckoning for Akamaru to leave the girl alone; he still couldn't figure out why his dog seemed to like Team 7 so much. Ever since they had returned from the failed rescue mission, his dog had eagerly sought out the two remaining members whenever they were nearby. It was actually rather endearing that Akamaru seemed to believe the two needed more company. It was also laughable that the dog seemed to feel that he could fill the void Sasuke had left.

"They'll finish their argument eventually," Sakura reasoned, wiping the slobber from her face.

"They'll finish it now," Kurenai assured her, leaving her students with the rest of their friends and walking onto the field.

"How did you all get off training?" Kiba asked.

"Asuma-sensei said he had a meeting and didn't want to see us today," Ino informed her, pointing to Chouji and their temporary teammate, Tenten. Shikamaru's promotion had been followed by a temporary reassignment to the academy to help Iruka-sensei. Rather than cause confusion, Tsunade had allowed Hyuuga Hiashi to take over his nephew's training while Gai was told to speed up Lee's rehabilitation.

"Iruka-sensei told me I was lazy and that I didn't need to bother coming in since they were working outside today. And my father is on a mission so he isn't here to make me train," Shikamaru explained after Ino kicked him.

"Yosh! Gai-sensei and I met extra early this morning so that we could work to our fullest before our day was cut short! And Hiashi-sama was kind enough to let us bring Neji along," Lee added happily.

"Figures," Kiba muttered.

"K-Kiba-kun, we're off for the rest of the day," Hinata reminded him before he could complain anymore.

"Right. So what are you all doing?"

"We were thinking of going swimming," Sakura told them.

"Lunch first!"

"Lunch first then swimming," Ino amended after Chouji's outburst. "You're welcome to join us. We're just waiting for Naruto."

Kiba nodded eagerly and turned back to the field where Jiraiya had stopped pestering Naruto and was now busy trying not to leer at Kurenai. Naruto gave up waiting for Jiraiya to dismiss him and dashed off the field towards his friends. "Let's get out of here before he knows I'm gone," he whispered conspiratorially. Judging by the glare Jiraiya had just leveled against Naruto's back he already knew but wasn't about to stop them.


"What? No Ramen?" Naruto countered sadly.

"You always eat ramen. Barbeque is actually healthier," Sakura pointed out.

"But…Ramen's so good."

"Then get Iruka-sensei to buy you some later," Ino told him before he could argue more. "Let's scram."

Sakura nodded and all eleven young ninja, plus Akamaru, took off away from the training grounds just as Kurenai led Jiraiya by the ear towards the Hokage's office. "Why'd she send you to get me?" Jiraiya grumbled as they approached the large administration building.

"She called us in early but figured you'd be late to begin with."

"Flat-chested wench," Jiraiya muttered. Kurenai glanced at him in confusion trying to figure out if he was talking about her or Tsunade.

"The Hokage's waiting for you," Kotetsu informed her. "In the back office."

Kurenai nodded and released Jiraiya's ear as she headed down a side hallway. Knocking once on the door she entered and bowed her head to Tsunade before moving to sit with Gai and Asuma.

"Kakashi's not even here, why did you send for me?" Jiraiya asked in annoyance.

"Because he isn't here. He was supposed to be back early this morning at the latest. The delay means something happened and I want everyone already assembled when he arrives."

"I'm sure the go-between just distracted him," Anko snickered, gaining baffled looks from the rest of the Jounin and Special Jounin in the room.

"You know the go-between?" Tsunade asked surprise.

"Sure I know her. From ANBU missions," Anko answered dismissively.

Tsunade frowned in confusion before she realized what Anko was referring to and sighed as she sat back in her chair. "So who is this…distracting woman?" Jiraiya leered.

"I'm pretty sure she doesn't like you."

"Eh? Anko-chan, what woman could possibly not like-"

"Tsunade-sama. Kurenai and this woman. I'm sure there are a lot more, but those three I'm certain of. Oh, and Shizune," Anko replied before he could finish.

"Flat chest and Shizune-chan are exceptions to every rule. Kurenai simply-" Jiraiya was cut off again as Asuma pelted a shuriken at his head. "Never mind."

"I thought Rin didn't like him?" Genma added.

"Rin didn't like men."

"She liked Kakashi well enough," Genma reasoned, gaining a snicker from the black haired man Anko had been glaring at before Jiraiya arrived and distracted her.

"My point exactly," Jiraiya snickered.

"Cut it out Jiraiya," Tsunade groaned.

"So are you planning on just standing around waiting for him to show up?"

"No. I'm being forced to finish my work while you all sit quietly waiting him to show up."

"This is such a waste of time. I could have pestered Naruto for at least another hour before letting him go off."

"You're supposed to be training him," Kurenai reminded him.

"He trains himself. All I have to do is give him orders."



Two hours later, Sakura, Naruto and their friends found themselves near Naruto's riverside training grounds. Naruto had immediately gotten his friends as wet as possible before they even touched the river. He had then proceeded to use his clones to lure in Neji and Ino; the former was – in Naruto's opinion – being a tight ass, the latter was busy getting a tan. Okay so he hadn't so much lured them in as jumped them and then tossed them into the river and he wouldn't have succeeded if he hadn't been able to convince Shikamaru to restrain Neji but it was still worth it. And so once all eleven ninja and one nin dog were in the river they were finally able to begin enjoying themselves. For about five minutes.

"Hey," Naruto suddenly stilled. "What's that?"

"Out! Get out!" Sakura shouted following his gaze and noticing the three objects speeding towards them in the water. The Rookies quickly spilled back out of the water and gaped as the water sharks broke onto shore before dissipating. "That was a jutsu," Sakura muttered, looking around. Her attention was drawn away from the river when she heard raucous laughter from the tree line.

"Who the hell are you?" Kiba shouted at the blue-skinned man laughing at them.

Naruto's eyes widened in recognition and he cursed when Ino and Lee joined in with Kiba shouting at their opponent. "Guys. Cut it out," Naruto muttered.

"Heehee! Fox-brat's getting' smarter," Kisame commented as if he had heard Naruto's whisper.

"Can it fish face," Kiba growled, glancing at his dog as he abandoned his partner's side and moved towards Naruto, growling harshly at the man in front of them.

"He's S Class," Naruto hissed in warning before Lee could take off towards Kisame.

"Then give us a distraction," Shikamaru stated casually.

Naruto looked over at him in surprise before turning to Sakura. When she nodded, he performed a quick Kage Bunshin and over a hundred copies of the blond appeared on the beach, a few even standing lazily on the surface of the still river. His taller friends – the entire group really – ducked out of Kisame's line of sight. Shikamaru was crouched in thought, whispering to the nearest copy of his friend while Neji listened closely as well. The clone nearest Lee performed a quick henge and whispered for the real Lee to run for the village as soon as they had Kisame's full attention.

"Pointless," Kisame said almost sorrowfully. "You Leaf brats are all dead. Foxy could change that if he really wanted," he added grinning. Several Naruto clones near the front had paired off and were in the process of forming the rasengan. Kisame had so much fun dodging them he failed to notice the figure speeding away from the beach. "Is that all of you've got? Isn't that Sennin of yours teaching you anything?" Kisame snickered when the clones stopped attacking.

He dodged again when twin drills attacked from the side. They circled around and attacked several more times and Kisame continued to dodge until he got bored and pulled his sword off his back. Without bothering to unwrap the cloth from Samehada, he swung out at one of the whirling masses and sent the ninja in the middle of it flying back into the river. He was stopped from attacking again when Shikamaru's shadow finally crept up under him and stopped him in his tracks.

Ignoring the now immobile Kisame, Kiba dashed towards the river to retrieve Akamaru. Shikamaru's eyes widened when the figure he was restraining collapsed with a splash. Kiba and the dog were flung back into the crowd of Naruto clones as Kisame appeared in front of them. "Oi you gonna give up yet brat?" Kisame called into the crowd of clones. When he didn't receive an answer he performed several hand seals and stated, "Baku Suishouha." He took a deep breath before expelling a large burst of water from his mouth and into the crowd of clones. The water expanded and became more turbulent as it reached them and the majority of the clones were dispelled.

The Rookies were left defenseless without the shield of clones around them and Kisame frowned noticing that one of them was missing. "Clever," he conceded.



Lee skidded to halt in front of the gates and one of the ninja on guard dropped down in front of him. "There's a Missing Nin at the river," Lee breathed out. "Naruto recognized him as S Class. But there's still a group of Genin and one Chuunin down there."

"Who recognized him?" the Chuunin asked.

"Naruto. Uzumaki Naruto. The man looked like a fish and he knew Naruto!"

The man sneered slightly but he didn't question what Lee had said as another ninja moved away from a group of ninja who had just returned from a mission that he had been speaking with. "The Uzumaki kid recognized him?" he repeated.

Lee recognized Kotetsu and nodded again. "The Hokage's in a meeting in the back office at the tower, do you know where that is?"


"Get there and tell her. Don't bother asking permission to enter just go. Where are the others at?"

"The training strip at the river," Lee stated before taking off towards the Administration Building. Kotetsu shouted to two more ninja before taking off, leaving the first man Lee had spoken with to man the gates.

Lee made it to the Administration Building and breathlessly sped through the halls towards the small back office that the Hokage used for more intimate and private meetings. Like Kotetsu had told him, he sprinted past the buildings workers not bothering when they shouted for him to stop. He almost passed the hallway entrance to the office and had to back peddle several steps to move into it. He knocked briefly on the door and entered without waiting for a reply.

"Kotetsu sent me to tell you. A Missing Nin that Naruto recognized attacked us at the river. He was blue and-" Lee was cut off when Asuma, Gai, Kurenai and Jiraiya knocked him out of the way in their haste to head out of the office.

Shizune followed them but only far enough to help Lee stand back up. His lack of prose-worthy speech was a clear sign that he was either exhausted or shaken up. "You said Naruto-kun recognized him?"

"Yosh! Naruto-kun said he was an S Class ninja and that we should be careful," Lee explained as Shizune pulled him back into the room.

"Where'd the kid pick that up? Jiraiya doesn't teach his students to be careful," Tsunade snorted. "Of course that's probably what got all of them killed," she added disparagingly.

Lee stared at the Hokage in confusion before turning to Shizune questioningly. "Just have a seat while Gai and the others handle it," she assured him. "Your friends are smart enough not to get hurt."



Back at the river, Kisame had slowly managed to separate Naruto from his friends. "Come on brat, you're wastin' my time!" Kisame shouted at Naruto. Naruto just continued to glare back and Kisame noticed small whisps of red chakra slowly creeping around the boy's form.

"Time to wrap this up," he declared disappearing again only to arrive in front of the pink haired girl who had remained as close to Naruto as possible. He grabbed her away from her friends and then disappeared again. This time appearing on the other side of the river, waving at Naruto as he dropped Sakura back on her feet.

Naruto moved to dash across the river just as Sakura skittered away from Kisame. Kisame snickered and performed hand seals. "Suiton: Suiryuudan no Jutsu."

Naruto stumbled on the suddenly turbulent surface of the river and moved to dodge until he realized that the water dragon wasn't targeting him. His eyes widened as he sped up towards Sakura, not noticing the second dragon that had risen from the water behind him. He lunged towards Sakura the moment his feet landed on the shore and his force sent both of them out of the way of the first dragon. The second one landed directly against Naruto's lower back just as he pushed himself off his teammate.

Naruto and Sakura could barely hear their friends shouting their names above the roar of the water around them and Sakura bit into her lip when she felt her arm being crushed by the force of the water dragon. And the pain pulled her attention away from the fiery chakra that had surrounded them seconds before the jutsu hit. If the jutsu had managed to crush her arm, she couldn't fathom how much damage it had done to Naruto's back or how he was even still supporting himself above her. The water finally faded away and Sakura managed to look up towards Naruto as he hovered over her, his eyes squinted shut in pain as his breathing came out uneasily, the normally thin marks on his cheeks were darker and thicker than normal and the chakra was beginning to burn.

Kisame snorted when the water slid off the beach revealing the two and he shook his head when Naruto managed to push back so that he was kneeling upright. "Damn kid relyin' on the fox. You couldn't just let yourself be injured so that you could come without a fight, could 'ya?" he asked in annoyance.

Naruto shuddered and fell forward so that he could support himself on one arm while the Kyuubi continued to heal his back. He glared over at Kisame with deep red eyes and snarled as more chakra began to leak out around his form. As more power flooded his body, he slowly pushed himself to his feet and took a step towards Kisame. "Meh, I didn't want to deal with trouble," Kisame muttered, watching Naruto carefully and fingering the wrappings on his sword. "Another one?" he muttered when his fingers suddenly stopped.

Naruto had paused and was gazing at the man behind Kisame who looked like a more scarred version of Shikamaru. The blond pushed his weight onto the balls of his feet and fell into a low crouch. "Naruto, stop moving," Sakura spoke up, bringing his attention back to her. Naruto didn't pull out more of the Kyuubi's chakra but he also didn't suppress it as he stilled and looked back up at Kisame.

"Shouldn't you attend to your teammate?"

Naruto's breath hitched at the voice that sounded next to him and he heard Sakura's belated shout about the new arrival. Naruto whirled onto his feet putting his back to Kisame so that he could stare at Itachi, he remembered too late not to look into the sharingan. The Kyuubi's chakra sank back into his body and he stilled unnaturally as the genjutsu took hold.

Itachi stepped away from him and frowned at Kisame. "You were told not to harm the target," he stated.

"He isn't really harmed," Kisame reasoned.

"The leader has called for us to return."

"'Kay. Let's take the kid," Kisame grinned.

"No. We aren't ready for him. We will not be able to hold on to him. Hatake is here."

To prove Itachi's point, Kakashi appeared in between Itachi and Naruto, shielding the blond from Kisame and Itachi's line of sight. The shadow binding Kisame in place wavered and then shrunk away from him as Shikaku cursed. He gazed at the two missing nin uncertainly when none of them made a move to continue the fight. He saw Itachi's eyes narrow and the blue-skinned ninja disappeared in a splash of water.

All eyes turned to Sakura when she shrieked and tried to gain her footing and push away but when she accidentally put weight on her broken arm she slipped and landed painfully on it. She cringed and shut her eyes, certain that the sword bearing down on her was going to hit. Instead of the sword, she felt a body press into hers and then heard a grunt and a sharp snap, almost the same sound she had heard when her arm had been hit by the jutsu.

"Hey! What's she doing here?" Kisame shouted pointing at the woman who had blocked his strike and looking over at Itachi angrily.

"It doesn't matter. We have business elsewhere," Itachi stated before disappearing. Kisame gave one last look at the woman on the ground pushing up against his sword and sneered angrily before following Itachi's lead and disappearing.

"I thought you were going to stay hidden?" Kakashi stated, turning towards Sakura and the woman in front of her. The brunette had sat up and was busy tending to her broken wrist.

"Show myself or let your student get killed. Would you prefer I made the second choice?" she asked, pulling out a roll of bandages from one of her hip pouches and quickly wrapping it around her wrist. Once she was certain she wouldn't cause herself further injury she moved to kneel behind Sakura and helped her sit back up, carefully restraining the broken arm as she looked closely at it. After a moment, she sighed and shook her head. "I need you to not jostle the arm as much as possible. It's shattered and I can't heal it all the way out here with the supplies I have," she explained.

"I know," Sakura nodded in acceptance as the woman moved the arm so that it was lying in Sakura's lap.

"Alright. I'm going to use a jutsu to numb some of the pain. It messes with the nervous system so you shouldn't try to move around." Sakura nodded and the woman performed a few hand seals, too quick for Sakura to catch, and then lightly touched the base of her neck. The pain from her arm disappeared almost immediately, but she was left with an odd floating sensation. It took her a moment to realize that the jutsu cut off most sensations from the rest of her body as well. The woman slipped an arm under Sakura's knees and another around her shoulders and lifted her easily. "Could you check Naruto's back?" she asked gaining a nod from the woman as she stood up moving towards Naruto, Kakashi and Nara Shikaku who were in the middle of arguing about whether or not someone should be sent after Itachi and Kisame.

"Kakashi," the woman stated in concern when Naruto remained unresponsive to her approach.

Kakashi turned around and followed her line of sight towards the immobile blond. "Naruto?" he questioned reaching out and tapping his student's shoulder. When Naruto flinched away and showed no sign of recognition Kakashi cursed and unveiled the Sharingan. He reached forward and sent a shock of chakra through Naruto's system hoping that Itachi hadn't used a strong genjutsu against him.

Naruto winced and looked up at Kakashi in surprise, finally recognizing him. "Where…where'd they go?"

"Itachi caught you in a genjutsu and they left. Are you alright? The genjutsu was on you for several minutes," Kakashi told him as the woman handed Sakura to him and knelt down in front of Naruto.

She gazed at him for a minute before scooting around and running a hand along his spine. "Toushi no Jutsu," she muttered, running her hand along it again and pushing just a bit of chakra against the skin. She examined the area a bit as Naruto squirmed and craned his neck to watch her. "No bone fragments out of place and everything looks fine," she finally declared standing up and nodding to Kakashi as she gently patted Naruto's shoulder.

Naruto's eyes widened in realization and he turned to thank her but he was interrupted when Jiraiya appeared next to the woman looking at her curiously. "Hey! What's she doing here?" Jiraiya shouted pointing at the young woman with a purple, rectangular stripe slanting across each cheek.

Kakashi sighed as he carefully shifted Sakura in his arms and turned around. His eye twitched when he noticed Jiraiya happily taking in the view provided by the skirt she hadn't had time to change out of. The woman noticed his annoyance and finally turned to Jiraiya, catching his line of sight. "If you don't find something else to look at I'll show you that I hit a lot harder now than I did when I was nine," she assured him.

"We need to head back," Kakashi stated ignoring Jiraiya's presence.

"Wonderful!" Jiraiya declared. "We were just talking about her," he added pointing to the woman. "I'm sure Tsunade would love to meet her."

"I can't. I have to be back in Hifukidake by nightfall," the woman declared.

"Nonsense Rin. An hour to meet with your Hokage isn't too much to ask," Jiraiya retorted dropping a hand onto her shoulder. He ignored a comment that sounded suspiciously like 'not my Hokage' and ushered Rin and Naruto back across the river, leaving Shikaku, Kakashi and Sakura to follow.

Kurenai looked away from Hinata surprise when she heard the group from the other side of the river approaching. "Is that…Rin?"

Asuma turned hearing her statement and gaped for a moment. "This…so that's what Anko meant," he finally answered.

"She's the go-between?" Kurenai hissed in understanding.

"Did you say Rin?" Gai interrupted only catching the first half of the conversation. "The wondrous youth Genma spoke of?"

Asuma nodded before turning back to the woman arguing with Jiraiya as he pulled her onto the shore. His eyes narrowed as Jiraiya glanced back at Naruto long enough to tell him and the other Rookies to get dressed and come to the Hokage's office with Kakashi after they dropped Sakura off at the hospital. The minute Naruto nodded, Jiraiya disappeared with a shocked Rin and Kakashi cursed stepping up next to Naruto. "Grab Sakura's stuff too. We need to hurry," he muttered to Naruto.

"We'll head straight to Tsunade-sama's office," Kurenai stated, herding her students away. She was quickly followed by Kotetsu and the third ninja that had arrived with Shikaku and himself.

Sakura remained completely silent on the way to the hospital, occasionally sending concerned glances to Naruto's pensive form as he trailed behind Kakashi still clutching her bag. The nurse at the hospital took one look at Sakura's misshapen arm and sent them through to another ward. When Naruto moved to follow, he was brought up short by the same nurse. "Patients only."

Naruto nodded in acceptance but Kakashi shook his head and beckoned for Naruto to follow. "He stays with us," was all he told the nurse.

"But the doctor on duty…"

"Come on Naruto," Kakashi stated ignoring her warning.

"Hey Kakashi-sensei, who was that woman?" Naruto finally asked when another nurse sent them into a private room to wait for the medic.


Naruto glared at his teacher's answer and the uplifting of his eye that went with it suggesting that Kakashi was teasing him.

"She's a medic nin," Sakura added, suddenly entranced by trying to pull on Kakashi's hair.

"I know. And she mentioned Hifukidake…isn't that the capital?"

Kakashi looked at Naruto seriously for a moment and then his eye squinted shut again. "I'm glad you remember that much from the Academy," he told the now pouting blond.

The medic came in and Kakashi decided it was time for him and Naruto to leave Sakura. Waving and mentioning that they would tell Tsunade she was there, Kakashi pulled Naruto out of the door. "How does your back feel?" Kakashi asked as they headed towards the Administrative building next door.

"Fine. It isn't even sore," Naruto answered a bit too cheerily.

"Well, I'll still mention it to Tsunade-sama," Kakashi stated grinning when Naruto's pout turned pleadingly towards him.

"Please don't! She'll make me skip training for like a week this time," Naruto argued.

"This time?"

"She thinks I'm too reckless with my healing factor," Naruto muttered.

"You are. That jutsu could have left you paralyzed."

"But it could've killed Sakura!"

"And that is the only reason I'm not yelling at you. However, you should be more careful. Next time the recovery could be longer and you won't be able to dodge another attack or you could get a teammate really hurt when they cover for you. Just be careful," Kakashi reminded him, pointing at the sharingan eye hidden under his forehead protector.

Naruto nodded glumly but couldn't respond when Kotetsu walked up to them. "They moved to the front office so that she could see everyone. They've been waiting and that woman who was with you looks really uncomfortable," he offered.



"What's she doing here?" Tsunade asked gaping at the young woman standing in the doorway with Jiraiya.

"I thought it might be nice if she heads up here and says hello before darting off to that danky capital again," Jiraiya stated, grinning as he still held onto Rin's uninjured wrist. Before Tsunade could retort Anko came out of her shock and jumped Rin, knocking her away from Jiraiya.

"Oi, what was the hold up?" She pouted. "I had to sit in this office for five hours today just because you and Kakashi decided to goof off instead of sending him back here! And you didn't even bring the kid with you!"

Rin blinked and took a moment to register who was on top of her and what she had been saying. "We weren't goofing off," she finally replied defensively. "My informant came to the meeting late because he had been trying to track Kisame. And we ran all the way here."

"What's this about a kid?" Jiraiya interrupted.

"Where are Gai and the others?"

Jiraiya frowned at Tsunade's interruption since it prevented Rin from answering. "On their way up here with their students I'd assume. Kakashi had to take that girl to the hospital because she messed up her arm," he added.

"I'm fairly certain that girl was his student: Sakura," Rin muttered derisively. "Then again you never could remember a girl's name unless she hit you. Should I tell Sakura to smack some sense into you?"

Tsunade snorted as Jiraiya gaped at Rin for several moments speechless. "How many times do I have to remind you that I was drunk that day?" he finally asked.

"Is that supposed to be an excuse?"

"Did you really hit him?" Anko asked eagerly. "I wish I had seen that."

"I was only nine. It didn't do nearly the damage I wish it had. Although it did save him from being hit by Minato-sensei."

"My own student wasn't really going to hit me," Jiraiya retorted.

It was Rin's turn to snort at Jiraiya's claim and she was forced to bite back a retort when Tsunade finally inserted herself in the conversation again. "We'll move to one of the larger rooms so that I can speak with the younger ninja. If you'd all prefer you can wait here. We'll discuss the rest of our business once I'm finished with them."

When Rin didn't follow Tsunade, Shizune, and Lee immediately the buxom blond turned to Jiraiya and said, "She comes with us."

Rin cursed as Jiraiya once again grabbed her arm and pulled her out of the room. This time Anko followed along as well. After a moment, Genma pushed away from the wall and trailed out after them leaving several others to wait patiently until the Hokage returned.

She found herself being shoved into a familiar front office and was about to complain when Anko latched back onto her back. "Did you at least bring me a picture?"

"I told you, we left too quickly," Rin claimed.

"Aren't you supposed to carry pictures of your kid with you at all times? What happens when you want to show a random stranger a picture of him?" Anko insisted.

"Why would I want to show a random stranger a picture of my son?"

"Okay that was a bad example. But what if you run into an old and very dear friend who hasn't seen your son since he was two and you made the regrettable decision to dye his hair? Don't you think she deserves to see a picture of fresh blood once'n a while?"

"How do you manage to be so disturbing and yet not bother me at all?" Rin pondered aloud.

"All that time around Orochimaru and the Uchihas must have addled your brains. That and Kakashi probably," Anko suggested.

"You spent more time around him than me," Rin replied defensively.

"Yes, which is why I am the disturbing one and you are merely unperturbed."

"She's got a kid?" Jiraiya interrupted.

"Who's got a kid?" Asuma asked around his cigarette, peeking in the door to see if he could let the others in. "Oh we're talking about Rin still?" he asked once he saw her inside.

"Do you think I could manage to sneak out the window while they're talking?" Rin asked quietly.

"Nope. I've tried it. Tsunade-sama gets angry; then she breaks things. If you're lucky the things broken aren't a body part," Anko replied.

The tick on Tsunade's forehead had been growing since the moment they had stepped into her office and she was quickly losing her patience at being ignored. "Could you all just get your asses in here!"

"Hey wait, how does he know about your son?" Anko asked jealously.

"He met him at the capital," Rin shrugged.

"How old was he? Did he still have brown hair?" Anko asked turning from Rin to Asuma.

"I don't know…maybe one? And yeah he had brown hair; why wouldn't he?" Asuma asked taking another puff from his cigarette.

"When are you going to undye his hair?" Anko whined, opening her eyes as wide as possible while the Rookies skirted around them to enter the room. Kurenai had entered and was standing curiously next to Asuma.

"Oh! You must be my eternal rival's wonderful-"

"Who's he?" Rin whispered to Anko, not bothering to listen to the rest of Gai's statement.

"Ummm…you might be better off not knowing that…" Anko admitted. "Now about his hair."

Rin sighed and turned back to Anko ready to argue again when she noticed that the kicked puppy look had returned in spectacular fashion. "Aren't you supposed to get worse at that look as you get older?"

Anko smiled widely and Kakashi coughed at the door. He pointed towards the front of the room where Tsunade was sitting rapping her nails against her desk impatiently. "Now that I have all of your attention," she bit out, she was amused to note that Rin and Anko had both blushed like school girls caught gossiping in class. "Have all of those here been checked for injuries?" she continued.

"Aside from Naruto and Sakura the only one to get really get hit was Kiba and it's only a bruise," Kurenai assure her.

Tsunade nodded and motioned for Shizune to check on him anyway. Happy that the boy was being taken care of, Tsunade crooked her finger and beckoned Naruto forward. "What did you do?" she asked as he stepped hesitantly in front of her.

"I'm fine. She even checked on me and said nothing was broken and there weren't any fragments or anything out of place," Naruto told her pointing back at Rin.

"Weren't any…what did you let yourself get hit with?" Tsunade shrieked.

"Umm…you promise you won't hit me? Cuz if you hit me I'll just get hurt and have to heal myself again," Naruto prompted.

"Spit it out."

"It was just a water jutsu."

"The same jutsu that injured Sakura?"

"Yeah," Naruto replied slowly.

"How badly was she injured?" Tsunade asked her voice rolling low.

"It crushed the bone in her arm," Jiraiya spoke up.

Tsunade turned back to Naruto furiously only to find empty space. She located the boy hiding behind Rin and crooked an eyebrow in confusion.

"Umm…Naruto-kun, I'm not sure I'm the best person to hide behind. The last time we were in a room together, she tried to have me demoted. And then she blocked my promotion to Jounin," Rin muttered.

"But she won't hit you," Naruto insisted. "She'd hit Kakashi-sensei to get to me, but she won't hit you," he added.

"I'm not too sure of that. She's been trying to recall me to Konoha since she became Hokage and I've been disregarding the orders," she admitted. "Well…the ones Kakashi has actually bothered to pass on."

"You've been ignoring her? She doesn't like that," Naruto muttered back.

"Naruto, I won't hit you so get your scrawny butt over here," Tsunade hissed glaring at them. Naruto appeared in front of her almost instantly while Anko snickered at Rin. "We had a deal," Tsunade stated. "The accelerated healing is too stressful."

"I remembered that." Tsunade growled and Naruto quickly added, "That's why I only let one jutsu hit me."

"Do you think that's supposed to appease me?"


Kakashi snickered at Naruto's confusion and was tempted to help his student out when one of the other sensei coughed. "Perhaps…we could finish up with them first and then you could yell at Naruto-kun?" Kurenai suggested.

"Fine." Before she could even turn to dismiss him, Naruto had already darted over to stand next to Kakashi and was glaring at Jiraiya for getting him in trouble in the first place. "Now, the missing nin you ran into was an S Class named Hoshigake Kisame from Kirigakure no Sato. He's a member of an organization we've been watching for a number of years and our informant," she paused to gaze piercingly at Rin, "Didn't get the information to us on time. If we had known he was heading here you wouldn't have been left on your own."

Naruto glanced at the woman next to him and noticed the frown on her face deepen. Anko had turned and was frowning at the Hokage.

"How did he know Naruto?" Shikamaru asked in confusion.

Naruto stiffened lightly but the Hokage brushed it off, "Naruto and Jiraiya have run into him before while on a mission. I'm surprised Kisame remembered him."

"Hokage-sama," Shikaku interrupted. "Uchiha was there."

"What?" Tsunade screeched turning back to look at Jiraiya. "Why didn't anyone tell me?"

"I didn't see him…when was he there?" Jiraiya asked.

"Before you arrived," Kakashi answered.

"He stopped Hoshigake and then they left," Shikaku added.

Tsunade glanced once at Naruto and then at the other Rookies. "You're all dismissed for now. If you have any more questions that your sensei can't answer then come and find me tomorrow," she told them. Naruto tried to sneak out with his friends but Tsunade coughed and he was stopped by Shikaku's shadow.

"Genma go get those still waiting in my office. We'll finish up here," she stated. Genma nodded and slipped out the door after the rookies. Kotetsu and several of his friends' teachers were watching Naruto sympathetically as Tsunade approached. Shikaku released the shadow bind just before Tsunade's fist pounded on Naruto's head knocking the boy onto the ground.

"That hurt you old hag!" Naruto shouted in retaliation. He barely avoided the kick aimed at his torso. "You said you weren't gonna hit me," he whined moving to hide behind Kakashi and Rin again.

"Wereyou going to tell me about Uchiha?" she asked directing the question at Naruto and Kakashi.

"I kinda forgot he was there. He didn't try to kill me this time," Naruto shrugged. Anko snickered at the appalled look on Tsunade's face but it faded into a cough when the Hokage glared at her.


"He convinced Kisame to leave and aside from a genjutsu that stopped Naruto from pulling on Kyuubi's chakra he didn't attack anyone or try to take Naruto with them," he claimed.

"Is he telling the truth?"

Kakashi's eye narrowed dangerously when Tsunade turned suspiciously towards Shikaku. "From what I heard. He mentioned something about not being ready for the kid."

"What did they mean by that?" Tsunade asked turning towards Rin.

"I'm not sure. I know they didn't intend to go after him yet. We were supposed to have three years, but my informant wasn't sure why the time limit was set," she claimed. Genma reappeared with Ibiki and four men that Naruto didn't recognize and Rin sighed, moving to lean against the wall. Anko was busy glaring at one of the black haired men.

Naruto looked curiously between them when Rin's eyes widened in recognition. The man grinned for a moment but quickly schooled his face when Jiraiya looked at him oddly. Asuma sighed and blew out another lungful of smoke drawing a glare from Tsunade.

"Naruto wait outside for Jiraiya," Tsunade finally stated.

Naruto frowned and walked out of the office, settling onto one of the benches in the hallway. He remained seated, bored and getting colder by the minute, for half an hour until Jiraiya finally emerged from the office with Kakashi and most of the others. He couldn't see Rin with them. "We're done for today. Behave," Jiraiya ordered before walking on down the hall.

"Let's go check on Sakura," Kakashi suggested. "I'll treat the two of you to ramen."

Naruto jumped eagerly and exited the building with Kakashi. "Hey, hey, what about that woman, Rin? I thought she didn't want to talk to the Hag. Should you really leave her in there?" he asked as they headed back to the hospital.

"She had a bit of business and she figured she would take care of it now rather than come back again."

Naruto frowned at the answer but let it go as Anko suddenly leeched onto his back and asked, "Where ya headed?"

"We have to get Sakura," Kakashi told her.

"And then?"


"Oh good, I'll come with you. This is turning out to be such an awesome day! I got to glare at Taji for like four hours; Rin came back; and now I get to pester her and blondie!"

Agent's Spiel: In order to avoid a lot of confusion I just want to expand upon the setting a bit for this story. Like I said at the top, this takes place after the failed mission to rescue Sasuke. Any spoilers for the later story will come only the form of people who are introduced all the way through volumes 35 and 36 (ending with chapter 326 or so). There won't be any real mention of the Akatsuki's "real" purpose or history. If there's any confusion, please review, email, or pm me and I'll at least try to help clear things up.

Before I get a lot of reviews on Rin. Yes I know canon wise she is probably dead. I wanted a female character who I could base on canon fact and Rin was best the choice as I can look back on her abilities in Kakashi Gaiden and then base her growth on that. If the discrepancy with Kakashi's statement bothers you just pretend that he was exaggerating to prove a point.

For those who read After the Dream, I wrote the majority of this fresh so while the plot will seem similar, hopefully the early chapters won't feel too repetitive. We'll see many more similarities as the fic goes on, mainly because as I got into the later chapters of AtD, I was surer of the plot.

Jutsu (if the name wasn't written in the story I pointed out where it was used; bold means the jutsu is not canon):

Suiton Goshokuzame: Five Sharks Eating [Kisame's attack that drives them out of the water

Henge no Jutsu: Transformation Technique

Kage Bunshin no Jutsu: Shadow Clone Technique

Rasengan: Spiral Sphere

Juujin Bunshin: Beast-Man Clone

Gatsuuga: Dual Piercing Fang [This and the Bunshin above are used in combination. It's the drill attack that Kisame dodges

Kage Mane no Jutsu: Shadow Imitation Technique [Shikamaru uses this to hold Kisame in place. His father does the same thing later to both Kisame and Naruto

Mizu Bunshin no Jutsu: Water Clone Technique [Kisame's Clone that Shikamaru caught

Baku Suishouha: Bursting Water Collision Waves

Suiton: Suiryuudan no Jutsu: Water Dragon Projectile Technique

Kara Shinkei no Jutsu: Blank Nerve Technique [the pain numbing thing Rin does to Sakura

Toushi no Jutsu: Seeing Through Technique/X-Ray (examination) Technique

Tsuukaku no Jutsu: Sense of Pain Technique (It's just the release of the Blank Nerve Technique and isn't normally needed since that technique normally fades)

If I missed any just drop me a line.