I do not own Naruto.
Things to know first: This fiction starts during the transition between Part 1 and Part 2 of the Manga/anime, and is my take of what could have happened to the story if Kishi took this turn.
I try to keep the characters within canon as best as I can (throwing in my own jutsu's here and there that I believe that character could do of course.)
Some of the starting chapters are short, but since I was asked in reviews to release larger chapters, this does not happen in the later chapters.
Important: I like to reference previous and on-going events that are happening in both the anime and manga to keep it consistent, you have been warned in advance.
Rated T for generally mild themes across the board, essentially what you have seen/read in either the Anime/Manga is the boundaries I try to keep in this story.
It was a bright and welcoming sunny day in Konoha, the villagers were out doing their daily shopping, and the shinobi were out on their missions assigned for them by Tsunade, the godaime hokage. The streets were full of villagers of all ages, moving along almost like ants through the kiosks and stores. Within the crowd was a young teenage girl with short bubblegum pink hair that reached to her shoulders. She was wearing a long red blouse with round pure white circle markings on her sleeves, back and lower section of the blouse. Underneath she wore knee length black tight pants, along with a kunai holster hidden by her blouse. She was also wearing blue shinobi sandals. Worn tightly over her head, was a red banded forehead protector with the hidden leaf emblem engraved in its centre.
"Sakura-neechan!" The ecstatic voice from a young boy called behind the girl, as she turned around and smiled at her greeter.
"Konohamaru, how are you?" She asked as Konohamaru came to a stop in front of her.
Konohamaru still hadn't changed much, his towering brown hair was held firmly in place with a familiar set of goggles that reminded Sakura of somebody. His long blue scarf blew freely in the air as he came to a halt. The only noticeably difference was his missing baby tooth had finally been replaced by an adult tooth, only that he was missing another baby tooth now on the opposite side.
Sakura looked to his sides then asked still with her smile, "Where are Moegi and Udon?"
"They are at the academy." Konohamaru beamed.
Sakura placed a hand on her hip as she smirked, "Where you should be" she scolded.
Konohamaru feigned innocence, "I don't know what you are talking about, Sakura-neechan."
Sakura rolled her eyes while shaking her head with a chuckle.
Konohamaru then noticed something as he gasped in surprise along with forming a grin, "You got your new gear?"
Sakura blinked then widened her eyes in realisation, "Oh?"
She tapped the steel of her forehead protector a few times in question, "Not entirely yet, Tsunade-sama insists I don't wear the new outfit yet until the chuunin exams...let's just say I couldn't exactly wait on the forehead protector." She admitted with a grin.
Konohamaru nodded in understanding then got to his point, "The reason I am out of class Sakura-neechan, is me, Moegi and Udon were wondering if you could help us with a few tips with the genin exam."
Sakura gave a light gasp in surprise, "The genin exam is happening already?!" she asked in disbelief, and then her eyes narrowed in question.
"Konohamaru...why would you come to me for help?"
Konohamaru gave a wide smile revealing his missing tooth, "Naruto-niichan said you were amazingly smart, and if we needed help with anything, he said you would be more than happy to help us."
Sakura widened her eyes in shock before sighing, 'Typical baka...' She mused as she chuckled.
"Did he now?" she said in amusement.
Konohamaru gave his best puppy dog eyes he could muster, causing Sakura to snicker, "Naruto has tried that on me for years...don't think you are any different." She said flatly through a grin, but chuckled when Konohamaru didn't seem fazed and continued his begging.
Sakura shook her head "What would you like to know? It is not as if I can tell you what they are going to be doing or anything...that is cheating." She said in a matter of fact way.
"We would just like to know a few tips and maybe have somebody that can help Udon and Moegi do henge properly." Konohamaru beamed again determined to get her help.
Sakura raised an eyebrow in question, "What about yourself?"
Konohamaru chuckled and then was about to form his seal for henge, until he remembered a warning Naruto gave him before he left.
'Some women do not appreciate the harem no jutsu, do not under any circumstance use it directly on Sakura-chan...Or our rivalry will end with your death dattebayo.'
Konohamaru ruffled his hair, "Hehe...Naruto-niichan might have taught me." he said innocently.
Sakura blinked in surprise, "Really? Show me."
Konohamaru gave Sakura a brief look over, and then formed his seal.
"Henge!" He announced as a violent amount of dust picked up around him hiding him from view.
Sakura narrowed her eyes, then widened when she saw her own self standing in front of her. Every detail was indisputably perfect, it was almost as if she was looking in the mirror.
Sakura went agape, "W-Wow, Naruto really taught you well." she commented, then blinked in surprise when she heard her own giggle come from the replica, who even placed 'her' hand in front of her mouth to hide her smile in imitation.
'Do I really do that?'
"Thank you for the compliment Sakura-neechan."
'Sakura' beamed, as she 'poofed' back into Konohamaru, "So will you please help us Sakura-neechan?" Konohamaru asked in a pleading tone.
"But you're so good at it, why don't you help them yourself?"
"Err umm...Naruto-niichan's ways are..."
'If I tell her bosses 'procedure' to learning effective henge, she will skin me alive...'
"-Are secret! Yes that's it secret! He made me swear!"
Sakura raised an eyebrow in suspicion to Konohamaru's sudden speedy and stressed reply, but brushed it off and smiled, "...Alright, I will be happy to help, I will come by the academy once I am done with Tsunade-sama for today."
Sakura winced at the memory of what state of mood her sensei was in when she disobeyed her instructions during training.
Konohamaru mouthed an 'Oh' in understanding then asked in interest, "How is your arm by the way Sakura-neechan?"
Sakura, as if just discovering her injury, held her arm that was bandaged from the elbow to over her fingers in a light wrapping out for her to look at.
Sakura then clenched her hand as if testing it, then gave Konohamaru the thumbs up with her hand, "It is getting better, Tsunade-sama mostly healed it so it is no longer broken...but she still is a bit...angry." Sakura admitted, with a slight trace of fear in her voice.
Konohamaru shared a wince, remembering just how violent the hokage was when she was angry, then gave a salute, "If you are not at the academy by sun down, we will come and rescue you!"
Sakura laughed at how serious the young Sarutobi sounded, "Baka! I said she was angry as in disappointed with me, not angry as in wanting to kill me." Sakura said, suddenly feeling like she was talking to a certain blonde shinobi.
Konohamaru shrugged, "Well, just in case." He said cheerfully.
Sakura groaned, "Go back to the academy already, Iruka-sensei doesn't need to spend his time hunting you down again." She barked, causing Konohamaru to jump off his feet and begin running back fast while waving.
"Thank you again, Sakura-neechan!" He yelled as he disappeared around the street.
Sakura shook her head at his antics with a grin.
'He really does act like Naruto.' She inwardly thought, as she resumed her journey to the hokage tower.
Tsunade looked out the window of her office to admire her view again of the new addition to the Hokage Mountain. Even though from this angle, she could only make out the chin, she couldn't help but give a smug grin as she saw her stone face engraved next to Yondaime's. After several moments of admiring the view she turned back and focused on the document in front of her, and couldn't resist a chuckle as she eyed the picture on the top. It was a photo of Uzumaki Naruto, with his identification photo when he became a genin.
She shook her head in feigned disgust, 'I miss you gaki, and it has only been six months since you left.' Tsunade thought, as she flung open the portfolio that the photo was attached to. She sighed as she began reading over the thick medical report once again, while drinking a bottle of sake.
'Jiraiya's last letter informed me that the seal has been weakened, and asked me to check to see if there was any information kept in his history that would be useful.' Tsunade recalled as she flung through the pages and groaned in annoyance.
'While his history seems to have a large amount of information about the seal...curtseys of Danzou's analysis with his own seal master...It doesn't contain anything that we don't already know...'
Tsunade sighed, 'We won't find anything that will help us here.' She concluded, and then turned her head towards the door, when she heard a knock.
Tsunade closed the folder and hid it under a few loose files scattered on her desk.
"Enter." She said aloud in her official tone.
The door opened to reveal Sakura, who bowed her head in respect, "Sorry I am a little late, Tsunade-sama."
Tsunade sighed and dropped her 'act' when she determined it wasn't an official and grinned, "That is fine Sakura." She said dismissively as she gestured for her to sit in the seat in front of her. Sakura obeyed and sat down as Tsunade eyed her bandaged arm.
"How is your arm?" She asked, with disappointment still clear in her voice.
Sakura winced but said nervously, "It- It's much better Tsunade-sama...thank you."
Tsunade gave a loud 'Hmmph' as she looked at her apprentice straight in the eye, "What were you thinking?" Tsunade almost hissed at the now taken aback Sakura.
Tsunade sighed when she realised she just yelled at her apprentice for the wrong reasons and tried again with less annoyance, "Sorry...but why did you try and force more chakra into your arm while practicing to use chakra enhanced attacks...you should consider yourself lucky your arm was the only thing that got hurt."
Sakura looked back up to her sensei's gaze apologetically, "I am sorry Tsunade-sama, it won't happen again."
Tsunade smirked, "Liar."
Sakura gasped and widened her eyes in shock and confusion and repeated, "Really, I won-"
She raised an eyebrow in confusion when Tsunade lightly laughed, "You really are so easy to read." She said in amusement when she calmed.
Sakura remained silent in confusion as if she missed a joke, which Tsunade did not address.
"Now...why did you try and do it when I told you not to because you were not ready yet?" Tsunade repeated with an amused grin across her features which made Sakura relax.
Sakura looked down at her bandaged arm as if the reason was there, then back up at her sensei, "I just wanted to push myself." Sakura admitted.
Tsunade leaned back in her chair and folded her arms still with her smirk, "So I figured....your stubbornness knows no bounds I swear."
Tsunade's eyes narrowed then when she noticed something different about her apprentices head, or more so, what was enwrapped around it.
"...and it seems you cannot even obey your sensei's wishes of not wearing your new attire yet."
Sakura paled and waved her arms, "I-I-I I just wa-"Sakura again stopped when Tsunade laughed.
"You are so easy to tease as well, the red definitely suits you more than your original blue." Tsunade said in honesty once she reduced her laughter to a chuckle.
Sakura flushed in embarrassment, "Ah, I quite like it." Sakura said with a grin of her own.
Tsunade then turned partly serious, "I hope you will follow my other instructions though and not try out your new attire until you attempt the chuunin exams?"
Sakura nodded "Hai, I promise Tsunade-sama."
Tsunade then leaned forward, resting her head on her lifted arms, "So you have decided who you will be participating the next exam with?"
Sakura nodded again, "Hai, I am going to be taking the exam with Ino and Choji."
Tsunade nodded in acceptance, "Good."Tsunade raised an eyebrow in interest though when she saw Sakura hold a hesitant and shifty gaze though.
"Yes?" she enquired patiently.
Sakura voiced her question, "I really feel I should wait for Naruto to return though."
Tsunade smirked, foreseeing this was bound to come up eventually.
"Miss him?" She asked in amusement.
Sakura waited several moments then nodded, "As loud and out of control he is...I can't believe how much I really do. It wouldn't be fair if I left my onl-, m-my own teammate behind." Sakura stuttered, Tsunade noticing Sakura hesitation with saying 'only remaining teammate'.
Tsunade chose to ignore her mistake, and talked with a grin, "How would you think Naruto would feel if he knew he was holding you back for two years so you couldn't progress Sakura?"
Sakura was agape and averted her gaze, "...He would blame himself for it." Sakura said void of emotions and Tsunade nodded.
"He is your teammate, he would not be in the least bit annoyed that you progressed to chuunin while he still remained a genin. I am sure he will be proud of you if anything Sakura."
Tsunade eyed her apprentice's hesitation still clear across her face and Tsunade smirked while scheming something behind her amused eyes, "...We have over two years, I will work something out." Tsunade said full of amusement.
Sakura's ears perked as she met her sensei's smirk with a puzzled gaze. "Huh?" Sakura said dumbly.
Tsunade chuckled, but decided to leave it as a surprise, "I said I will work something out." She said dismissively with a wide smirk, causing her apprentice to look even more puzzled, but she nodded and dropped the subject.
Tsunade then eyed her messy office in a meaningful way that her apprentice had seen time and time again, "Now...your punishment for disobeying my instructions."
Sakura gulped and paled, "Bu-But I-"
"I understand you are keen to get stronger, but that doesn't mean you ignore my instructions, which resulted in you breaking your arm...in case you forgot."
Sakura's shoulders slumped in defeat and nodded, "Hai...what will you have me do, Tsunade-sama?" Sakura said deflated.
Tsunade raised an eyebrow but gave the sentence, "Clean this office up while I go down to the hospital. Shizune has asked for my assistance with a few things, and I won't return for at least three hours."
Sakura tried to not groan, but it escaped the back of her throat and Tsunade chuckled, causing her to lift her eyes in alarm at her mistake.
"I will say though, if your arm starts to hurt, then just ignore my instructions and you may excuse yourself for the day...can't have my apprentice break her arm again because of my doing." Tsunade said knowingly.
Sakura grinned softly and nodded.
Tsunade then stood up and sighed, "Please sort out the mission papers for me, have them ordered by their rank in separate piles." Tsunade said, with a slight hint of apology in her voice.
Sakura nodded then looked around and then looked back puzzled, "Tsunade-sama...where are the papers?" She asked innocently.
Tsunade smiled apologetically when she noticed Sakura had realised with her eyes widening in alarm.
'You got to be kidding me!'
"Why, can't you see the mess around here." She said playfully, patting her apprentice on the head sympathetically, as she laughed at Sakura's even more failed attempt to not groan again.
"I'll do my best Tsunade-sama."
"That's the spirit I want to hear from my apprentice!" Tsunade beamed, while she began heading for the door.
Tsunade opened the door but felt she wanted to say something first, "I am truly proud to see that you are really eager to become stronger Sakura, and I know that you will in time with your very commendable attitude. But I don't want you to kill yourself in the process." She said with a smile to her agape apprentice, who recomposed herself with a respectful bow.
"Thank you Tsunade-sama."
"I told you to stop doing that!" Sakura smiled and raised her head, while watching her sensei leave, closing the door behind her.
Sakura sighed as she began her 'task'. This job was no different to her, it seemed routine really. She had helped Tsunade often enough with these sorts of tasks, and knew the way everything had to be arranged. What seemed like hours to the kunoichi, but was actually only thirty minutes later, Sakura had tidied up and arranged the missions as instructed in separate piles by the desk. The only remaining area to be done was the desk itself, which was a mess. Sakura shifted a file and came across something interesting, which she lifted up to her face. She soon laughed when she saw the familiar face of Naruto, with strange makeup across his body as he posed for his shinobi identification photo.
'You baka!' Sakura mused as she suppressed her laughter and shook her head with a sigh.
'I wonder how his training is going?' Sakura thought, as she sat down in Tsunade's chair.
Sakura then narrowed her eyes in deeper recollection, 'I always have wondered about Naruto's past, even though I never did ask him since I was...occupied.'
She mused, as she remembered how she didn't show any care for him, instead focussing on the now missing Uchiha. Sakura didn't know why, but she suddenly felt quite cold in the room, even though the blazing sun was shining through the windows.
'I really never knew Naruto that well, and I always was mean to him when he only showed he cared...I wish I didn't do that to him, and that is not the only thing I regret.'
Sakura winced at the sudden memory of the night she confronted Sasuke and shook her head, 'I can think about that later, it is not as if I don't think about what I said that night every day.' Sakura mused, as she then focussed on the medical profile in front of her and was about to open it until she hesitated.
'I don't have the right to read this...' She scolded herself, as she placed the profile on the desk, but eyed it.
Sakura eventually gave in and opened it, 'I always wanted to know about how Naruto could heal faster than normal, and how he has unbelievable amounts of stamina...maybe it's a Kekkai Genkai?' She theorised as she opened the portfolio while other thoughts came to her mind, about the certain blonde shinobi.
'What about his parents? Is Naruto really an orphan?' Before she could let her curiosity take control, she tore her gaze away from the very interesting file.
'That still doesn't give me the right to look at this! This is private to Naruto.' She once again scolded herself at her excuse. Sakura emitted a loud groan in frustration, but soon turned her head back blankly at the now opened portfolio.
Reluctantly she started reading, 'I will apologise to Naruto about this when I see him next.' She concluded, although she didn't seem to agree with her thoughts still.
Sakura turned the page and came across a picture which she blushed lightly at with a grin, Naruto as a baby. Her grin and embarrassment soon disappeared though when her eyes saw a strange spiral like marking, almost like a tattoo of some kind on the baby Naruto's stomach.
'w-what is that?' She asked in interest as she furiously read through the beginning notes and froze at the line that read 'Kyuubi Kitsune'. Sakura didn't know when it became so quiet that she could hear her elevated breathing as her eyes began to twitch in shock, while shaking her head slowly in disbelief.
'Th-This can't be!' She cried in confusion as she read over it at least several times.
'The Kyuubi was killed by Yondaime....HOW CAN THIS BE TRUE!?!'She inwardly shouted as she continued reading, each line tearing apart her conflicting belief with the history lessons from Iruka about the Kyuubi's great defeat.
Sakura didn't even know when time flew by to the afternoon as she hadn't moved a muscle as she continued reading.
'I-I...I don't understand.' she thought in disbelief. Everything they were told at the academy, everything written in the history books she read...was a lie? She gasped as she felt an overflow of missing links clinking together in her mind.
Soon some events she never understood suddenly became clear, although she still stared wide eyed in shock at the paper refusing to accept it. 'Oh my god...it's true.'
Her hands began to shake on the edges of the folder that her nails were now digging into with a loud scrunch from the papers. She had no idea how water got on the paper somehow, since there was no sign of a drink or leak in sight.
One year six months later...
Naruto sighed, while scratching his head, "Ero-sennin."
Jiraiya turned his head back, disgusted by his nickname his so called apprentice had dubbed him oh so long ago, "What is it gaki?"
"Why do I have to go with you to see this spy? I could be back at the motel and training!"
"Not this argument AGAIN gaki. I told you, it is important you understand how the spy network operates. You may never run it, you might not even hear about it again after this. Most shinobi would kill to travel with its owner and see how it all happens." Jiraiya quickly glanced back from the road to his blonde apprentice, to make sure he wasn't ignoring him like he did last time.
When he confirmed he was actually listening he continued, "The spy network not only is used for gathering intelligence on enemy countries, they also provide useful information for missions that shinobi, such as ourselves, carry out back in Konoha."
Naruto sighed and nodded his head in understanding, although Jiraiya growled at the easy to determine lack of interest in the blondes gaze, "You didn't understand a word I said did you?"
"Wha?! Of course I did...I just think it's boring."
Jiraiya sighed, but chose to ignore it while looking back onto their path, "Naruto, you also know that we are only six months away from returning back to Konoha. That means you need to start being alert about the Akatsuki. While my sources inform me that they will not make a move on you until then, it is better to be safe than sorry."
Naruto winced and averted his gaze to the ground, "Yeah Yeah, I get it." He said without the usual spark in his voice.
Jiraiya decided to bring up a topic he had 'sort of' been discussing with his apprentice for some time.
"Have you at least thought about what I told you?" Naruto looked up to meet Jiraiya's gaze, as he had stopped walking to pay full attention to his student.
Naruto nodded, "Ero-sennin...I don't know what they would think if they knew, they might even act like what everybody else thinks about m-"
"Gaki! I am telling you that your friends will never judge you like that, you obviously don't know them well enough if you really believe that!" Jiraiya cut in harshly.
Naruto similarly glared back, "More importantly I also don't want to get them into th-thi-this thing! with the Akatsuki. I don't want them to get hurt!"
Jiraiya looked at Naruto Square into his blue eyes, they showed minimal traces of anxiety and something Jiraiya hated seeing, especially in Naruto of all people.
"Naruto, you should trust them, you may be in for a very pleasant surprise if you do and let them in about the Kyuubi. Remember one thing though, you cannot hide it forever."
Naruto gritted his teeth before sighing, "I will think about it Ero-sennin." He said flatly.
'That's what he said last time...typical stubborn gaki!'
Jiraiya decided to continue on their way towards town, as they were already running late, and he knew that it was almost like fighting a Hokage to get a message across into his knucklehead apprentice's brain. Jiraiya had been trying to push Naruto into telling somebody about the Kyuubi, since he knew that despite the blonde's wishes, eventually his secret was going to be found out. By law of the Sandaime, Jiraiya couldn't do the honours for his stubborn student, it was up to his decision to do it...which was why Jiraiya happily pressured his student any opportunity he got about it. Only no matter how much he pushed, Naruto wasn't willing to budge.
The walk towards the town continued unbearably silent after that, as Naruto was deep in thought.
'I want to tell them...but how would they take it? Would they still look at me as they always do, or will they just see me as the fox-teme? Ero-sennin is right though...I cannot hide it from them forever.'
Naruto was pulled out of his thoughts when they entered the town. The streets were packed with people buying goods from the kiosks and socializing.
"Eh? Ero-sennin we are meeting your person here?"
Jiraiya turned and smirked, "It is less obvious when you meet with a contact during the middle of an event...which is why we are meeting our contact in the middle of the day in the busiest part of town."
Naruto nodded in understanding and followed Jiraiya as they journeyed deeper into the busy market place. They stopped in front of a cafe that was surprisingly very empty.
Naruto's eye twitched, "Ero-sennin...how is this less obvious...we are the only people in this open place!"
Jiraiya smirked, "This is where you come in gaki..."
Naruto then looked at his sensei in question, "What do you..."
Jiraiya's smirk increased and his eyebrows rose in amusement.
Naruto finally understood, as he frowned. "As always, using me to help you with YOUR problems Ero-sennin!"
"Consider it training. Now shut up and 'populate' this so called empty cafe. Remember it's for children too, not just adults...oh but while you're at it throw in some amazingly jaw dropping wome-"
"Kage bunshin no jutsu!" Naruto shouted over the top of his perverted sensei's wishes.
There was a loud 'poof' heard, followed by a second set of 'poof's', then the 'empty' cafe suddenly became arguably the busiest cafe on the street. There were numerous families sitting around and a few kids running wild playing tag with the other kids. Jiraiya nodded his head in approval at Naruto's work, then proceeded towards a vacant table and sat patiently and waited for his contact to arrive. The real Naruto casually walked up to Jiraiya's table and took a seat next to him with a huff.
Within minutes a new person walked into the cafe and blinked in surprise at the amount of 'customers' in the cafe. Naruto couldn't really make out the person well from where they were sitting, until the person walked up and sat on the opposite side of the table. The person was a man that was slightly taller than Naruto, he had grey eyes and short red hair. The man probably was no older than mid 20's, and didn't look at all like some kind of spy, but more like an average villager.
"Wow, this place sure must be popular." The man spoke in a cheerful voice.
Jiraiya grinned and gave a look at Naruto, "It must be their main course, I hear their highly recommended for their 'Naruto' fish cakes." Jiraiya emphasized loudly.
Naruto inwardly began plotting revenge for his sensei, but played dumb with a nodding smile, 'You will pay Ero-sennin, you will pay!'
"Hmm, maybe I will have to try some later on when there is less of a crowd." The man said with a chuckle when he looked at a bunch of passing 'kids' playing tag.
The man suddenly stood up more straight and appeared like a completely different person than what Naruto saw earlier, "Have you ever heard of the organisation that used to be run by a man named Gato?"
Naruto's eyes widened in recognition at the name of the man that team 7 saved the wave country from, and it was their first real mission too.
Jiraiya nodded his head, "Ah, I heard that a group of genin and a rogue missing-nin from mist defeated their boss." Jiraiya said proudly, nudging Naruto under the table.
The man nodded, "That is correct. It appears though that the organisation has finally re-established itself with a new leader."
Naruto tensed at the thought of a group like Gato's resuming their terror on smaller countries without shinobi forces.
The man continued, "I do not know their leader's name though, but he has an alias that I hear is osoreoni."
Jiraiya's eyes narrowed in thought, "Demon of fear? Surely this guy can't be serious with a name like that."
The man shrugged, "It appears however the man is targeting Wave country in particular. The builder of the great Naruto Bridge, Tazuna-san, has been receiving numerous threats for his life and his family if they do not destroy the bridge. The bridge, as you know, is their primary source of economy and trade. Ever since the bridge was assembled, Wave has been very popular for its safe trade routes back and forth through the ocean. It seems the organisation owns several of the routes, and is of course making minimal profits from them, so in a sense they are wiping out the competition."
The man paused and added ,"If the great Naruto Bridge falls, Wave country will decline to poverty like it was before that genin team saved them."
Naruto went through numerous emotions in that one speech, when he heard that the bridge was named after him, he had to control himself from shouting in surprise and would have lost if he wasn't overcome with shock, fear, and anger that Tazuna, Inari and Tsunami's lives were being threatened if they did not destroy his dubbed bridge.
"This sounds quite serious, has Tazuna-san already sent a mission request?" Jiraiya said in a firm tone.
The man nodded, "They have sent B rank mission pay, but are not certain on shinobi presence being involved or just thugs."
The man then reached into his jacket and pulled out a document and an envelope, "This is the mission request, along with the payment in advance."
Jiraiya nodded in understanding, "Is there any other news or information?"
The man shook his head, and then changed back almost unbelievably fast to his more cheery self Naruto saw enter the cafe, "Well, I must be off. I hear the lightning country is a nice place for a vacation this time of the year."
Jiraiya grinned, "Well you best be off then! You will have a long journey, but I am more than sure it is worth the trip for the women there alone, no?."
The man said nothing but gave a very well forced smile that Naruto swore was genuine at first glance, and then disappeared out the cafe.
"Who are you, and what have you done with Uzumaki Naruto?!"
Jiraiya nearly shouted into Naruto's ear causing him to cover his ears, "Ero-sennin what the hell!? I am right next to you!" Naruto shouted through gritted teeth.
"Since when do you of all people not jump for joy like the child you are when something as major as a BRIDGE is named after you?!" Jiraiya said with the confusion clear in his voice.
"I was more than thrilled until he mentioned Tazuna-jiji and his family's lives being put on the line by whoever these jerks are."
Jiraiya relaxed now that the answer was clear, "I see...you are growing up a little bit then."
He finished with a grin which was returned, but soon both changed to serious, "Naruto, you will be joining the team that is being sent to Wave."
Naruto's eyes widened but he beamed, "Really?!"
Jiraiya smirked, 'There's the annoying gaki I know.'
"Yes, because I know you are not going to stop pestering me to find out the progress of the mission."
Jiraiya hesitated but then added, "...I also won't be joining you there, as I am going to investigate a potential Akatsuki outpost."
Naruto's eyes widened to the point where they could bulge out and he looked at his sensei in great concern.
"Ero-sennin! I want to-"
"Naruto. I am more than fine by myself, remember you are talking to one of the legendary Sannin!" Jiraiya beamed, but resulted in Naruto sweat dropping, so Jiraiya dropped his failed attempt at humour.
"It is too dangerous for you to be with me on this one Naruto, I don't want to put you in harm's way."
Naruto glared at his sensei, "But you are putting YOURSELF in harm's way for me!"
"For once listen to me gaki! I will still come with you to Wave, but once the rest of the Konoha team arrives I will carry out my task."
Naruto let out his anxiety with a frustrated sigh, "If you don't come back, I will burn your almost finished Icha Icha book, and it will never get published!"
Jiraiya at first went agape in surprise at the 'threat' but soon broke into laughter, "That's not exactly something I would worry about if that ever happened gaki! You will have to try better than that."
Naruto grinned although the concern was still there, "You will be alright though Ero-sennin?"
Jiraiya smirked, "Of course I will, I am the legendary-"
"Yeah yeah I know, you say it EVERY day."
"I tell you what Gaki-"
Jiraiya reached into his jacket and pulled out his just finished Icha Icha book, bound in an orange hard covering, labelled 'Icha Icha Tactics', "You can hold on to this for as long as you want, you can keep it in fact. It's a sample copy the publishers sent me for my approval. Read it when you have time and tell me what you think."
Naruto's eyes narrowed, "I am under age."
Jiraiya snorted at the excuse, "Oh please, don't get me started on your so called 'new found honour' which is obviously a facade for the world to see, Eromaki Naruto!"
Jiraiya laughed as Naruto blushed in embarrassment, "I am not like that anymore Ero-sennin!"
"Not fooling anybody gaki."
Jiraiya said in a sing song way, "I mean it!" Naruto said with more confidence.
Jiraiya rose an eyebrow, "...Have you changed barracking sides?"
Naruto blushed furiously, "No I have not!"
Once the steaming Naruto had calmed down from Jiraiya's tease, Naruto and Jiraiya walked out of the cafe. Once they were clear a loud 'poof' was heard causing nearby people to turn and look and see the smoke leaving the now empty cafe.
Naruto beamed, "Yosha! I may get to see a few familiar faces a lot earlier than expected!"
Jiraiya smirked, "Anyone in particular you hope to see again?"
Naruto smiled wide, "There are many-"
"Oh, sure, and let me guess, not one of them has you wanting to see them more than another, you're a bad liar gaki!"
Jiraiya turned and gave an evil smirk, "Would you like me to guess on one pink haired individual that I know you are dying in anticipation to see again?"
Naruto flushed slightly, "Me and Sakura-chan are not like that Ero-sennin."
"Oh? you seemed to talk very smoothly that time when the three of us went on that mission together."
"I was being sincere!"
Jiraiya laughed, "You are so easy to rile up gaki its hilarious."
Naruto pouted, but decided to give the idea some thought, "...It would be great to see Sakura-chan again though, I wonder how her training with Baa-chan has been going?"
Jiraiya lead them down to the border of the town, and then reached for his map in his backpack. Naruto hadn't stopped his aloud musing though after Sakura, or Kakashi, or Tsunade or...well Jiraiya tuned out after that.
"Konohamaru would be a great refresher to see again on this mi-"
"Konohamaru?! Gaki the kid practically would have just became a genin by now, why would Tsunade send HIM of all people on this mission?!"
Jiraiya rolled his eyes as Naruto began blabbering on about some 'skills' Konohamaru knew, while Jiraiya started trying to find out where they had to go on the map. That was until one skill listed was amplified crystal clear across his aging ears.
"You taught Sarutobi Konohamaru how to do RASENGAN before we left!?!"
"I told him the three steps, but I left it up to him to work out how to do them with a few hints, like you should have done for me!" Jiraiya slapped his own face hard with his hand, praying the trauma to his scalp would cancel out what he just heard.
'Minato's honour just went down the drain...nice work Naruto!'
Jiraiya glanced at the map and said through gritted teeth trying to ignore his new discovery, "It is around a day's trip to Wave, once we have arrived we are going straight to Tazuna-san an asking him some questions."
Jiraiya bit his thumb and rifled through the seals required for his jutsu then announced 'Kuchiyose no Jutsu' and slammed his hands on the ground.
With a loud 'poof' a small toad appeared, "Kosuke, I need you to deliver this mission report to Tsunade as quick as you can."
"Hai Jiraiya-sama!" Kosuke responded and hopped away at unbelievable speeds for a toad.
"Aren't you letting Baa-chan know about what I will be doing."
"Of course, I jotted a note down at the end of the paper, and wrote her this let..ter..." Jiraiya cringed when he saw the letter he was meant to have also sent was still in his hand folded.
"Ero-sennin....I think you are getting too old for this job."
"Silence gaki! I guess I will get Kosuke to do a second trip once he is back in the toad realm."
Jiraiya then began marching in the direction he believed led to Wave.
"Umm...Ero-sennin, you're going the wrong way." Naruto said flatly with his sweat dropped.
Jiraiya cursed as he span around and marched in the proper direction, not even sparring Naruto a look to see the blonde's fox smile at his mistake.
"...Fuzzy Brows would be good to see on this trip to-"
'Oh good god, something tells me It's going to be one of those days.' Jiraiya inwardly sulked.