Author Note

Hello there and welcome to another chapter of my Hunter-nin story.

As some of you remembered, last chapter Naruto managed to add a new A-ranked missing-nin to his list of achievements, before he encountered Kakashi once more, together with four shinobi from the rest great hidden villages. Their mission was to find him and bring him to Tetsu no Kuni (Iron Country) so that he could be protected from the Akatsuki, of course, not him but the beast residing inside his stomach. It's within the newly formed alliance's best interest to protect Naruto at all costs, seeing as the Kyuubi was the only tailed beast that wasn't captured by the terrible organization now formed by Pein, Madara and Zetsu.

Now, everyone is wondering how he'll react upon getting caged once more.

Check it out…

Chapter 22 – The path of the hunternin

Beta: Kyuubi123

So far, the first co-op mission was a success.

The team formed by all five of the hidden villages had one single objective. Find the Kyuubi Jinchuuriki and bring him to Tetsu no Kuni (Iron Country) where the newly formed alliance could decide what to do with him, as well as provide better protection against the Akatsuki. That was the reason given to Naruto by Kakashi as the six ninjas ran towards their destination as fast as possible. It wouldn't bode well for them if one Akatsuki agent appeared out of a sudden. Being the only one who knew Naruto, as more than just the Kyuubi Jinchuuriki, Hatake Kakashi stood by his ex-student the entire time alongside Naruto's dog companion, though not once did Naruto turn to question him regarding anything, nor did he express any form of dissatisfaction with the situation at hand. Ever since he became a hunter-nin, Naruto became much more reserved towards anyone. He doubted if even his girlfriend Hana knew everything about Naruto now and this worried him.

He knew that Naruto wouldn't accept the situation bestowed upon him by the alliance.

However, seeing as he had yet to hear any form of complaint from the blond, Kakashi wondered if Naruto was bottling everything up, instead. Such behavior wasn't healthy and he wished that the blond would trust him to talk about it. Soon, the group crossed Iron Country's territory as the temperature dropped considerably. The five ninjas of the mission were already used to it, but the blond didn't show any hint of surprise at the change of scenery nor the decrease in temperature. His canine companion didn't either. Eventually, the grand castle appeared in front of him as Naruto observed the army of samurai throughout the vicinity, looking at them. The group stopped in front of the castle's entrance before one samurai opened it. As soon as they entered inside the room where the kages were, the bodyguards returned to the upper levels, leaving Naruto and Mangetsu alone to face the five most powerful ninjas of their respective villages. He nodded briefly at Tsunade, but remained silent with his arms crossed as he waited for any kind of order coming from either one of the other four kages. The silence allowed him time to observe them a little bit.

He knew which village they represented, because of the flags behind them. Firstly, the Tsuchikage or rather the midget form of him as far as Naruto as concerned. He was the only one at the table, apart from Tsunade, that knew who his father was, though Naruto wondered if the man knew that the one who attempted the chunnin exams was the person wearing the hunter-nin mask. From the neutral look on his face, Naruto believed that Onoki hadn't realized his identity yet. He didn't need to observe the Kazekage, hence why his eyes landed on the Raikage for a brief second. The man's stature was impressive and quite threatening, but usually with size comes lack in speed. Lastly, the Mizukage was a woman, a very beautiful one. She was smirking at him and for some reason, he wondered about the reason behind her smiling at a stranger. Of course, he didn't know that she was checking him out from head to toe. Suddenly, the Raikage got up from his seat and addressed the hunter-nin.

"Kyuubi no Jinchuuriki, this meeting prohibits the use of masks. Please remove it so that we can proceed." The look on the Raikage's face indicated that his request was more of an order to be fulfilled. However, the blond remained with his arms crossed as he was a registered shinobi of Konohagakure and only one person could order him to remove his mask. Of course, the Raikage wouldn't see his reason, but that wasn't his problem. Plus Naruto didn't enjoy how the man addressed him. Seeing as the jinchuuriki had yet to remove his mask, the Raikage's patience was beginning to waver. "Is there a problem with what I said? Remove your mask this instant" A snort was heard from within the mask, which infuriated the Raikage. In fact, both Kumo jounins shared their master's anger at the response.

"Only one has the authority to demand such a thing and it isn't you Raikage-sama. Also, my identity is to remain a secret as expected from every hunter ninja or Anbu level shinobi." Despite the seriousness of the situation, both Gaara and Tsunade smirked at the blond. Naruto's lack of respect for authority was known by both of them. Also, in their frank opinion, Naruto was right. Only Tsunade had the authority to order her shinobi around. The Raikage was over-stepping his authority. From his angered face, though, it was clear that he had a different opinion. However, before he opened his mouth, Tsunade was right ahead of him.

"Raikage-dono, his identity is irrelevant to you. As he said, only I'm privy to said information." The Raikage snarled at her for some time, before clearing his throat.

"The threat posed by the Akatsuki forced this alliance to decide for your protection rather than your participation at the war as I'm sure you already have been briefed. Akatsuki's final goal is to use the power of the nine bijuus, thus bringing a new tailed beast called Juubi." Naruto heard a snarl coming from inside him and he wondered why this name was so threatening to the fox. "As such, I have chosen a suitable location for you, which was approved by the rest kages. Each village will choose two high level shinobi that will accompany you. This war is too important for the shinobi life created by our ancestors and keeping the Kyuubi from the Akatsuki's grasp is our main goal." Immediately, the blond was shaking in rage at the prospect of being confined while others sacrificed their lives for him.

He didn't open his mouth to question anything though, as it wouldn't do him any good.

He understood what he represented in the large scheme of things, thus any form of complaint would fall on death ears. As such, he did something that none of those who knew him inside the room predicted. Gai, Kakashi, Tsunade, Gaara, Kankurou and Temari expected him to be outraged, to scream at everyone at the unfairness of the situation. All of them were even considering stopping him from openly attacking the Raikage for what he said. That's why everyone was speechless when they heard the blond's response regarding his situation. "Ok then, when do I leave?" Kakashi narrowed his eyes at the blond for his passive behavior in spite of being neglected like this. However, like everyone present, he couldn't do much with the situation.

"After this meeting, we'll return to our villages, so that each kage can assign the two jounins. In three days from now, you'll be escorted towards the location."

This item was the last one that needed discussing, so afterwards, the meeting was finished. The Raikage was appointed the leader of the alliance and he would decide his generals who for their part would lead a specific army. They appointed Nara Shukaku, jounin from Konohagakure, to assist the leader regarding the strategy and Inoichi Yamanaka, also from Konoha, in order to relay the orders to the generals. In one week's time, the kages would gather once more in order to decide their first course of action and understand everything they could regarding the enemy. Naruto waited behind the doors as the kages finished the last aspects of the meeting. Afterward, the door opened and the kages left followed by their respective bodyguards. Tsunade, Gai and Kakashi looked at the hunter-nin's back. All three of them wondered what was passing through the boy's head when said ninja turned to look at them.

"I guess we're going home now, aren't we?" Everyone was already gone, except them, so Tsunade used this opportunity to talk to him.

"Naruto, I was hoping that we could talk about this first, but the situation called for it."

"Tsunade-sama, you shouldn't apologize for this. After all, I'm merely a tool to be used." The fact that none of them felt any venom in his words surprised them and even brought fear to the mix. Fear that Naruto truly believed that he was merely a tool to be used. "History has shown that to be true, isn't it? Momochi Zabuza regarded Haku as merely a tool for him to use. Uchiha Itachi, as I recall, was a tool used by the village in order to rid Konoha of the Uchiha Clan. I was chosen to be the Kyuubi Jinchuuriki by my father. Believing otherwise would be foolish. It's my duty to follow the Hokage's orders, no matter what happens." As he spoke, Kakashi could imagine Uchiha Itachi behind his ex-student speaking the same thing. Something inside of him saw truth in what Naruto was saying. Despite what he said to Naruto when they faced Zabuza and Haku, rationally speaking, the shinobis and kunoichis of the village were tools to be used by the Hokage. As an Anbu, he sustained situations that no human being should go through. Nevertheless, he couldn't help but feel that he failed Naruto somehow. Gai was surprisingly silent, but Tsunade was using every bit of her strength in order to control her sadness from being made public.

If it was one thing she regretted more than anything it was to accept Naruto's request to become a hunter-nin. It was too late now. She feared that his will was shattered after following the path of the hunternin. Instead of attempting to convince Naruto otherwise, she just nodded and walked towards the door. Naruto, Kakashi and Gai just followed her. No one spoke to each other throughout the trip towards Konohagakure. And the blond appreciated the silence for once as he engaged in a lively conversation with his tenant, regarding this situation.

"I must say I was surprised by your response, or lack thereof. Not that I care much. My only question is…do you truly believe in what you just said?"

'Given these last occasions, I'm inclined to believe…yes. Of course, I was angered by their decision, but I can't do anything about it, now can I? We don't know much about the leaders of the organization, so there is no guarantee that I'll have any chance to win, if we were to engage. In my opinion, the reason behind this is quite pathetic. Jinchuuriki were and always will be the bane of existence. Now, though, they are so intent in protecting me that it almost made me laugh non-stop. Nevertheless, I'm a ninja from Konoha and as such, I can't do anything against an order.'

"In a way, you'll have a lot of time to improve in areas you lack. We could use this time and practice some of those doton techniques as well as improve your knowledge in seals from your father's journal."

'I guess you're right…perhaps getting used to more tails of power could increase our strength. I could even begin to understand the art of genjutsu better and adapt high level techniques that require a lot of chakra into our arsenal.'

"Very true, then I believe this time off will work to our advantage in the end, even though I can still feel that you're afraid of something. Is it fear that you may lose your little girlfriend?"

'It would be a lie if I said otherwise, but being a medic-nin, Hana-chan won't be doing much fighting. At least I hope so.'

They resumed the conversation about their training, before Konoha's walls could be seen.

===With Jiraiya===

Not aware of what happened at the meeting, Jiraiya was inside one of the caves located in Fire Country, two hundred miles north from Konoha. This happens to be one of the places that his team had chosen to gather before missions. With time, the only member of the Sannin who used it was Jiraiya. The place was filled with a lot of memories, some of them bad, but lots of happy ones as well. One of the latter came to mind as he turned towards the cave entrance and remembered how three fresh out of the academy genins, followed by a still young Sandaime Hokage, discovered this little cave. He remembered entering the cave while running, before a very young Tsunade berated him for being so loud. Good times, he smiled. Another memory of his was when Tsunade berated him, when he was caught using the cave together with a brunette chunnin called Kagomi.

He was supposed to be in Konoha right now, until Tsunade returned, but this was dead serious.

Frowning, in sudden seriousness, he initiated a series of hand seals, before opening his mouth as wide as possible. From within, a long tube came out, before it hovered in front of him. On top of what appeared to be a gigantic scroll, was the head of a toad with its arms crossed in a bored manner. Jiraiya reasoned that it was time for a certain student of his to receive what was intended for him even before he was born. He nodded at the toad named Gerotora, before the toad's body opened, indicating the contents of the scroll. Inside, were markings that indicated a high level fuuinjutsu, the likes of which only masters could even understand. Jiraiya placed both hands inside the two squares drawn inside the scroll. For now, the scroll only responded to his chakra, seeing as he was the only bearer of the key to the power given from father to son. Now, it wouldn't be the case any longer, as it was time for Naruto to receive what was rightfully his to begin with.

"Are you sure about this Jiraiya?" Asked the toad, earned a nod from the perverted sannin.

"As sure as I will ever be. Naruto's growth these last few years showed that he is ready to receive it. He's very strong now, probably passed his sensei Hatake Kakashi in skill. However, against the Akatsuki, he'll need more. From now on, Gerotora, your new home will be inside Naruto, as you are the key to him having access to the other half of the fox's chakra." He stopped saying, before tweaking the seal once more. From the corner of his eye, he could see that, from the toad's concerned expression, he didn't agree with it. "Is there anything wrong with what I said or you're just grumpy that you won't be with me anymore?" The toad snorted at the last part.

"No doubt the brat increased in skill, but I have questions on his resolve on things. He barely summons the toads and when he does, it's just so that Gamakichi can deliver the heads of the missing-nins to the Hokage. Also, according to the legend, he should be the one that would bring peace to this land. Instead, he's out there killing one by one. Something about his mentality worries me, Jiraiya. What if the fox takes advantage?" Jiraiya couldn't help but understand the toad's concern, even though the only reason that Naruto didn't call the toads had merit behind it. There are only two known toad summoners within Konoha and that is Naruto and Jiraiya. If he would summon one with his mask on, it would be like taking the mask off, because his identity would be blown. Regarding the second and last concern, though, Jiraiya couldn't find any arguments to use in favor of what Naruto was doing.

It was a dark path he had chosen, the one of the hunter-nin.

"Naruto's resolve in ridding the world of criminals is no reason to be concerned at this point, Gerotora. Also, it's been too long since he first initiated this job and thus far, he maintained his sanity just fine. I believe that the brat will be okay. Our main concern is Akatsuki and how to better prepare Naruto for the future battles. Now, we must find him to initiate the procedure, but first I will return to Konoha and see how the meeting went. Surely, Tsunade must have returned already." The toad just nodded, before vanishing in thin air. Getting out of the cave, Jiraiya summoned his favorite way of transportation. Suddenly, a gigantic toad with orange skin and blue vest appeared in front of him. Jiraiya immediately jumped on top of said toad and, together, they hopped towards Konoha, causing the land to tremble at each jump.

The trip didn't last twenty minutes as the toad landed right in front of the west gate. Jiraiya was showing a smile on his face, completely unaware that his little toad almost killed Tsunade, Kakashi, Gai and Naruto who happened to arrive at the same time. Needless to say, Tsunade was pissed at the pervert and screamed that he should watch where he landed. The pervert heard a faint noise and looked down only to get scared at Tsunade's angered face. He dismissed the toad and met everyone. He was surprised that Naruto was with them as well, but chose to question it afterward. Gai said that he needed to talk with his students, leaving the four alone to converse.

Not even a second later, everyone shunshined inside the Hokage's office.

===The Hokage's Office===

Once inside, Jiraiya received a briefing of what happened at the meeting and frowned a bit at the decision of protecting the last jinchuuriki. He could see the reason why, but in his opinion, Naruto's strength and amount of chakra would be better used on the front lines. Looking at the blond the entire time, who for his part was busy caressing his dog's ears, Jiraiya was caught wondering what was going on inside Naruto's head, just like everyone at this point. If he was in Naruto's shoes, Jiraiya doubted that he would understand as easily as Naruto himself seemed to, or was at least showing. After everything was explained, Tsunade took a long breath in order to relay her decision to Naruto.

"Naruto, because of the decision of protecting you, I have decided to suspend your license as a hunter-nin." The mask was off the minute Tsunade spoke. The look on his eyes was empty as she thought it would be. "Every Konoha ninja who is participating at this war will know what the main objective is, thus your identity was breached. Until the war is over, there won't be a need for you to hunt missing-nins anyway. Now, regarding the two shinobi that will accompany you, do you have any names in mind?" Before Naruto could even open his mouth, Jiraiya volunteered for the first position, earning a nod from Tsunade as she was indeed thinking in sending the pervert as one of them.

Kakashi would be one of the generals appointed by Konoha, so only one position remained.

"I, then, choose Inuzuka Hana as second…" Tsunade was afraid he would choose his girlfriend, but Hana was a certified medic-nin, therefore she would be assigned to Shizune's squad. She hated herself for only giving him bad news.

"Sorry Naruto, but Hana will be with the medic-nin corp under Shizune." Naruto frowned but said nothing. He just nodded and opened the door of the Hokage's office. He turned briefly and gave his second answer. "Choose anyone you want Tsunade-sama…" The door was closed before the Hokage could even call him back. The three shinobi stared at the door for a while, before a collective sigh in distress was heard. Even though the brat changed his ways, he couldn't help but give everyone a nasty headache. Jiraiya and Kakashi, then, turned to Tsunade as she started thinking on a suitable shinobi to accompany Naruto and Jiraiya. In the end, she settled for Yamato as he had experience with bijuu suppression.

===With Naruto===

Walking alongside the blond, Mangetsu stayed quite the entire time. As his companion, the dog could feel Naruto's distress over this mess. As they walked towards nowhere, Naruto was receiving shocked looks from everyone. Ever since he initiated his hunter-nin experience, only a handful of people knew about it. Everyone just believed that the fox brat was gone for good. On his adjacent path, a woman was walking with a bag of groceries on her hand. She had pink hair and she was wearing a red common dress, giving all indication that Haruno Sakura was a mere civilian, not a respected medic jounin whose skills rivaled Tsunade's assistant Shizune. The minute her eyes landed on the man with black leather clothing, Sakura's eyes widened to impossible amounts upon seeing her teammate once more. Two years ago, he left with Jiraiya-sama. She never saw him again. She was shocked, however, when his eyes turned briefly to her, before resumed walking as if she was a total stranger to him.

Marching towards him to demand an explanation, she stopped in front of Naruto.

"What? You leave for another two years and you don't even remember me anymore, what's the matter Naruto? What happened to you all this time and why the strange black outfit? I missed you…."

He looked at his ex-teammate, though, with the same affection that he reserved for someone he met for the first time.

"Get out of my way Sakura, I don't wish to speak to you."

The cold tone in his voice surprised her so much that she barely registered that Naruto started walking again and left. A few seconds later, she turned and looked at his back as a tear escaped from her eyes. First Sasuke, now Naruto. Ever since the Uchiha suffered his penalty, she tried visiting him on several occasions. Eventually, he told Sakura that he didn't want anything to do with her and asked her never to return. Her heart was already shattered there, but at least she knew that Naruto would be there for her, when he returned. Now, it was evident that she'd lost both of her teammates forever.

By the end of the day, every ninja in Konoha, from chunnin and above, knew about the meeting of the kages and the consequences. Tsunade opted to call everyone and gather them, in order to explain everything and, possibly, answer everyone's questions. It came as a surprise to those who knew Naruto's situation, that he attended the meeting. His eyes still showed the hollow expression of a man who had lost his fire, but not once did he cower when everyone looked at him differently. Their feelings were understandable, given that this entire war was only to protect one single individual, even though the logo was formed.

Save one, save everyone…

If Akatsuki were to get a hold of the fox inside Naruto, then Madara could easily dominate the elemental nations. Surely, that did little to ease the minds of the few who believed that the reason behind this war was ludicrous. Naruto even had to endure one chunnin, an old one, who accused him to be the demon and thus, responsible for this occurrence in the first place. The blond just looked at the old man for a few seconds, wondering if any form of response would be relevant at this point. In the end, Naruto explained that Kyuubi wasn't the only bijuu in existence and thus, cannot be solely blamed for what was happening. Even though he was right, the man wouldn't admit it. The rookie 9 only settled for observing the blond enigma and none of them stood up for Naruto, not that he was really expecting anything.

===At the Inuzuka Compound===

It was now night time as the members of the Inuzuka Clan were having dinner and discussing the repercussions of this war. Hana wanted to be with her boyfriend, but she understood her position as one of Konoha's medic-nins. The Inuzuka Family was perhaps Naruto's biggest supporters in Konoha right now, due to his relationship with Hana and the fact that Mangetsu enjoyed his presence, perhaps even more than Hana. Hence why the clan compound was the only place Naruto could go to right now, just in case someone wanted to do something stupid and attack him because of what happened.

Said blond was outside, with his eyes closed. His resolve upon taking the mask of the hunter-nin Shi was to rid Konoha of criminals, thus bringing peace to the village. Now, he was nothing but a prize possession to be guarded. Akatsuki would, no doubt, kill more Konoha ninjas only to get to him. The question he ended up asking himself was if his decision back then was the right one. Sure, this war would occur regardless of said decision, but what if it mattered?

"You can't change the course of history brat. If you could, then you'd stop Akatsuki from existing. What you can do is focus on the present and increase your skills in order to beat those imbeciles." It was quite ironic that this fiery passion didn't come from Naruto, but the fox instead. Something inside Naruto just wanted to laugh at this. It was true, though. The only thing he could do was train and hope that with it, he could finally deal with the organization. For some reason, the fox felt excitement at the prospect of his host becoming stronger. After all, the fox's pride always ruled his thoughts and seeing Naruto beating high level shinobi, some even without his assistance, showed that the blond was a skilled warrior. Of course, these words wouldn't ever leave its mouth.

Naruto just kept outside the residence, until he saw the lights being switched off and Hana appearing behind him. He turned briefly and smiled at her presence, despite everything.

"Naruto, I'm going to bed, are you going back to your apartment?" The blond got up and looked at Hana's pretty face with a smile on his face.

"I was hoping to stay with you a bit longer, if you don't mind."

The woman nodded, before grabbing his hand and taking him to her room with a smile on her face. She missed him greatly since he acquired the position of jounin and left once more to his mission. As soon as Naruto entered Hana's bedroom, the woman locked the door and approached her lover's position, before enveloping her arms around him. This war had many possible repercussions for Konoha and even if none of them wished to think about it, death was always a possibility in the ninja world. This moment could very well be their last and neither of them would waste this opportunity. They started kissing passionately, while Naruto worked his hands around her clothing, smoothly as to not startle her.

The woman was slightly surprised when she felt her bra being unhooked, but smiled and deepened the kissing. After a while, they both wondered why the hell they were still standing and slowly went to bed. Hana stopped the kissing and removed Naruto's black leather jacket, before massaging his muscles. The blond kissed her once more, this time forcing the use of tongue. This act alone increased Hana's hormones as she opened her mouth submissively. Naruto's hands were busy taking off her clothing. Oh how he missed the feeling of her smooth skin and her sexy curves. Hana let out a moan in pleasure because of the massage, before using her sharp nails to rip Naruto's net shirt, promising Naruto a wild night. Even the fox was aroused at what his host's mate did and was about to do.

The next day, Naruto woke up and saw the look on Hana's room after last night. Their clothes were ripped to shreds and some of Hana's sheets were sprawled on the floor. The memories from last night still present in his mind, as he woke up and looked outside the room window, while Hana was still asleep. He didn't remember one time when he had such a night, not even on their first time, was as excited and wild. Rubbing his opened chest a bit, he was surprised to feel three scars, before he remembered that instead of using her hands, Hana used her claws to remove his fishnet clothing. Quite surely, they weren't the only ones enjoying the ravaging act. He remembered the fox giggling like a school girl in heat, while watching everything.

Turning to look at the girl of his dreams, Naruto couldn't help but smile upon seeing her sleeping with a smile on her face. It was such an interesting view for him. It brought warmth to his already cold heart and he figured that only she could bring the best out of him nowadays. Naruto saw the door opening, only to see his "mother in law" standing there with a smile on her face. The state the room was in was quite deplorable and the message was quite clear to the Inuzuka matriarch. Even so, there weren't any reprimands coming from an amused Tsume. She knew how passionate Inuzuka girls could be when excited with their mates. However, the reason for her intrusion wasn't to spy on her daughter and her daughter's boyfriend, even though her closet perverted mind could already picture some scenes, if the wound on Naruto's chest was any indication.

"Do you have some spare clothes, Naruto? I wanted to talk to you about something important."

The blond just nodded, before picking a scroll from his jacket and summoning a new pair of the same clothes he was wearing before. He quickly dressed and met Tsume who was reading a scroll inside the compound's kitchen. Two mugs of coffee were seen at the table and Naruto grabbed one and asked for some coffee from the matriarch, who poured him some, before resting the scroll and the coffee jar, before fixing her gaze on the blond for a while. What she had with her was very important to the clan.

"Naruto, the Inuzuka Clan, as you know, have one single word to live by and that is loyalty; loyalty to the village, loyalty to your teammate, to the members of the clan and the pack. I've seen your relationship with my Hana-chan for a while and I must say that she's never been happier. And for that I thank you…" Before Tsume could finish, Naruto opted to interrupt in a kind manner.

"There is no need for that Tsume-sama. The feeling is quite mutual." Tsume nodded with a smile on her face as she continued what she intended to speak with her 'son in law'.

"Not only are you dating my daughter, but right now you even have one of our ninkens with you all time, isn't that right Mangetsu-chan?" Naruto smiled at the presence of the husky sitting by his side. "We, of the Inuzuka Clan, consider the opinion of our fellow ninkens. As such, someone who is accepted by them, as you were, therefore, is considered an honorary member of the Inuzuka Clan. As such and clan head, it's my pleasure to give you this." When she finished speaking, Tsume picked up a simple, yet beautiful necklace with a small canine tooth. "This necklace represents that you're an honorary member of the Inuzuka Clan and anyone who sees it will know this." Naruto extended his hand and took it from Tsume, before strapping it around his neck.

"It's very nice and I appreciate it Tsume-sama. The Inuzuka Clan has always been kind to me and I have nothing but high regards, especially for your family. Hana-chan is my girlfriend and Kiba is a dear friend who kept my identity a secret all these years, when he didn't need to. As an orphan, I never knew what it was like to be part of a clan and for that I appreciate." His smile reminded Tsume so much of the Yondaime Hokage, calm and collected, with strong, but a peaceful spirit. She was proud of her daughter's choice for a boyfriend.

"There is no need to be so formal around me anymore, Naruto. Now, I believe you have a lot of things to do today, huh?"

Tomorrow would be his departure towards the hidden location where he would be hidden from the Akatsuki. That meant that he only had today to do what he needed to do. That meant restocking on supplies, visiting the hunter-nin division, in order to get a nice and long chat with the boss about his suspended license. Perhaps, he could shed some light over what he should focus on, in regards to further honing his skills. After all, there was no better hunter-nin than the boss. Also, he had a meeting with the Hokage and Jiraiya at the end of the day, therefore he needed to cross every item off his list by then. Also, checking up on his properties might not be such a bad idea. He supposed it would be prudent to at least see if his tenants were taking good care of the apartments.

"Yeah, I do. I think I better speed things up, because I'm expected to meet with the Hokage by the end of the day. Could you tell Hana-chan that I will return afterward?"

"Oh don't worry about her. She has her own duties to fulfill as well, Naruto. Her office doesn't run on its own. I'll be expecting both of you for a nice dinner before the war" Naruto nodded, before grabbing his hunter-nin mask. He was about to put it on, before he realized that his fucking license was suspended. Quickly opening the scroll he used for his clothing, he sealed it inside, before getting up and leaving the room, after saying his goodbye to Tsume. The woman for her part caught the look on his face upon not being able to wear the hunter-nin mask and remembered her husband when he retired from the hunter-nin division and became just a regular jounin. Tsume was sure that he would be as proud of Hana and Naruto as she was right now.

As she heard light footsteps coming down, she realized that Hana was already awake. It was now time to tease her daughter about what happened last night. It will be quite amusing to see Hana's embarrassed face.

"Morning Kaa-san, where is Naruto-kun?" Hana asked as she grabbed a bottle of milk from the fridge.

"He had some business to take care, Hana-chan and asked me to tell you that he would come here late afternoon. Now, I trust that you enjoyed last night if that smile on your face is any indication?" The sudden blush on both cheeks even matched the color of the Inuzuka mark and Tsume laughed uncontrollably at it. "I didn't know you had it in you, sweetie. I saw the claw marks on his chest. Also, the dogs acted strange all night. Care to share the details with your kaa-san?" Despite the heavy blush, Hana took a seat beside her mother and explained how it happened, of course, excluding the heavy parts. Tsume, despite being her mother, was considered her friend. And despite leading harsh lives, women can't help but be women when it comes to the day after sex.

The night with Hana served to ease his spirit as Naruto roamed through the free shinobi pathways; the rooftops. His first item of the agendas was to restock on supplies and fix his sword. Afterwards, he would talk to the boss and see what he had for Naruto, in terms of training ideas. His license was suspended by the Hokage, but that doesn't mean he couldn't interact with the man anymore. After this stupid war is over, he could hunt the rest of the missing-nins. Now, he settled for the items on his agenda. After all, he didn't have much time left.

===Departure date===

The last day in Konoha passed quickly and today Naruto was in front of the gate where he was supposed to meet Jiraiya and Yamato to leave towards the hidden location. He was accompanied by his girlfriend Hana and the couple's three dogs as Hana herself now regarded them. She figured that Mangetsu possibly liked Naruto morethan even she and the other two also enjoyed his company. Regarding Naruto, he managed to do everything he needed to do. He managed to fix the dent on his sword and restock his supplies, a lot of it meant for months on the field; he managed to talk to his boss about this whole situation and received some nice tips for training in the field, regarding the art of genjutsu. The man was right as it was the blond's most glaring weakness.

When smoke appeared next to them, Naruto breathed out a sigh at having to leave Hana and the dogs. He turned to her, first.

"Please promise me that you'll be safe Hana-chan. If you die, then I…." Hana stopped him from completing the statement, by kissing him with passion.

"I'll be safe Naruto-kun, don't worry. You just focus on getting stronger than you already are, just in case the Hokage changes her mind and decides that you should be on the front lines, as I really think you should be. I'll be here when you return and we can be together once more, everyone. I love you Naruto-kun…" This time, tears fell from her eyes, before Naruto gently used his hands to wipe them away. It was hard, nowadays, to get a smile out of Naruto. It was even harder to see that and tears in his eyes for the first time. Hana was the first person who ever said the word 'love' to him.

"I love you too Hana-chan." The sad noise from the dogs below made him smile, before he patted all three of them a bit, obviously focusing on Mangetsu the most.

"You take care of Hana for me, okay?" Mangetsu just nodded with her head, before returning the affection by licking his face.

Jiraiya and Yamato just stood outside the gate, waiting for Naruto to say his goodbyes. It was strange seeing only Hana there with him, seeing as in the past, the blond had many friends. They supposed it was the hunter-nin position that drove everyone away or the fact that Naruto chose to hide his identity from people. None of them knew the answer to this question. It was really a shame that things turned out like this and now, the acknowledgement he fought for in the past was completely shattered. When Naruto appeared by his side, he was looking down the entire time. It was probably because he was still crying over leaving everyone behind.

"Let's go already…" The three vanished like blurs towards the hidden location.

Author Note

A bit shorter than usual, but nonetheless served its purpose.

As I stated before, I won't be focusing much on the actual war, as all my work revolves around the central character Naruto. Next chapter, some major revelations will occur, but I won't be revealing anything yet. I'll leave to all of you to figure out what will happen. Now what did you think of Naruto's reaction? His calm and collected response to Tsunade ended up hurting her more than if she used her own super punch against her. And what every man desires from his partner, someone that can release all the pent up frustrations and assist him. I bet that every closet pervert reader out there could picture some wild scenes between Naruto and a hormone induced Inuzuka Hana. Also, I enjoyed placing Tsume as a different kind of mother, more akin to her nature instincts.

Please review!

See ya.