Author Note: Ok Everyone should know by now I do NOT own Naruto. But for those of you who are new to my writing (rambling) it is unfortunately nothing but the pure and simple truth. I do not own this anime or anything to do with it.
As for the general idea behind this fic it's simple really. I'm tired of looking for realistic mature Naruto fics that actually taken into account the culture that spawned the Anime and coming up short. What I hoped to point out with this story, is the inappropriateness of the usual pairings I see on the website.
Japanese culture during the age of ninja would have found it an insult to give a female into marriage with someone her own age. Therefore, hooking Naruto with any of the kunoichi he became a genin with, would never have happened but especially not with Hinata. The class difference between the two is too great for it ever to have been allowed. That is not to say that there aren't great fics out there with those two paired up. I've read a few very good ones (don't ask me I'm not telling you which ones because I won't hurt anyone's feelings by not including them in the list)but it remains the simple truth that this pairing would never have been approved.
Because I like Kakashi's character, and can't see him settling for any of the immature kunoichi of the village, I decided to make Naruto a female. Naruto's life gives such great room for artistic license it was easy to make his female persona into the type of female who would suit Kakashi. Anyway, that said, I hope you enjoy this story.
Acknowledged and Accepted
Fifteen year old Namikaze Natsu Sukai was in the woods tending to one of her garden patches. She had many of them scattered throughout the Konoha forest. Each one was small and contained only a single type of plant. They were her vegetables and she relied on them to offset the meager foods she could purchase.
Her life had taught her if she wanted to eat a well-balanced diet like other ninja than she had to grow it herself and learn to preserve what she grew or could trap. Yes, she also had traps scattered through the forest which she checked on a daily basis. She knew more about survival than any other nin in the village.
She could fish with nothing more than a wire and either eat the caught fish right away or salt it for preservation. She could hunt with a sharpened stick or a trap made of vines. When she made a kill she could skin it and preserve the hide as well as the meat of her kill. She used the hides to make covering for her floors as well as leather patches for vulnerable areas of her form. These she attached to the clothing she wore to make it harder for her enemies to actually hurt her.
Her traps were not inhumane though as sometimes what got caught was too small; too young to be killed and she knew that injured animals were often preyed on by other predators. So she had learned to kill and use and injured animal her traps caught while learning how to make sure the animals were not injured at all.
Her gardens were small for a reason. The villagers often walked in the woods and if they came across the obvious signs of a garden they might just decide to take it over or stake it out to see who's it was. So her patches of garden never looked quite like a garden to anyone else's eye. Not all of them were of vegetables though. Some were just herbs or flowers. The herbs were for cooking and for medical uses. Those that did double duty, such as tasting good and serving a healing need as well, she took extra care to keep hidden from prying eyes.
She had been doing this for so many years she was really quite the expert at it by now. Her first garden patch had been carrots and she'd planted it when she was six. Back then she hadn't known anything about seeds and gardening so she had just used a stick to tear up the ground and scattered the seeds on the fresh soil. Then she'd used a towel to drag the torn up soil around trying to cover all the seeds up. When they sprouted they were so scattered around she found she had to search for each plant. Since she didn't know how to tell when they were ripe she'd taken to pulling one up every week to see if it was a carrot yet or not. She was a smart enough little girl to know she needed to keep a record of her gardening experiences so she noted down each samples size until she figured out the best time to harvest her carrot patch and how to tell a carrot had ripened. Since she didn't actually manage to find all the scattered seeds there were now wild carrots that grew in that area of the forest. The wild rabbits loved the carrots she'd left to go wild and she found it a good area for acquiring fresh meat. She trapped the rabbits for their soft fur and the meat they could provide but never so many as to keep them from coming back to the area the following summer.
After her carrot patch was growing well she moved on to other types of vegetables. She planted corn which was a lot harder to hide from the curious eyes of the village and led to learning not to make her patches obvious. But even though the villagers who found her corn patch beat her near to death when they found it to be her patch she persevered and learned to scatter all her seeds around and not to tear up the ground any more than necessary to plant the seeds.
Nor had she given up all her produce from that first corn patch. Her one and only true friend had stood guard, as she harvested the corn, to make sure the villagers would not stop her and stayed with her until she was safe inside her home with it. Then he'd provided an escort for her until the villagers forgot about her method of outsmarting the crooked grocers. She still needed to buy things like rice, flour and noodles but her need for meats and vegetables were supplied by her own hard work.
The Sandaime had helped by getting her seeds and even a few fruit trees he thought would grow well. He got her canning jars and containers for freezing her food. He also made sure she had a way to store everything from getting her a chakra run deep freezer to getting a pantry built into her home and a dry goods storage area.
They had several laughs over the confused state of teams that were sent out on missions and told to be on the look-out for a specific plant or type of seed. The teams were told specifically that if the plant or seed was found they were to secure it and bring it home in good condition with instructions for it's care. Some people didn't really care but others thought the request beneath their dignity and Sandaime had to remind them he was the Hokage and just because he didn't say why he wanted something didn't mean they had the right to decide whether or not they would acquire said item.
Natsu kept many secrets from her home village but as big and important as her secret gardens and trapping skills were they were not the biggest secret she kept. Her biggest secret was that the entire village thought she was a boy. Only a handful of people knew she wasn't and she had absolutely no intention of telling them otherwise. She was not ready to give up her last vestiages of control over her life or anything else for them. It was bad enough that she was sent on only those missions the council deemed too damned dangerous for normal nin but she didn't even want to think about what they would do if they knew she wasn't the boy they thought she was. She knew what the villagers would do with that information and she definitely didn't want their idea of appreciation. And she knew if the council found out it would be only a matter of minutes before the village did also.
Long ago she and the Sandaime had decided that when the day ever came that the village found out she would run. She would leave the village and never ever return. They both knew that such an event would begin the end of her life but both felt a life on the run as a missing nin was better than the life she would have in her home village at that point in time. Sandaime had even left instructions for his successor detailing the information and why the decision had been made. Tsunade had reluctantly agreed after only a few weeks in the village and seeing how the boy, Naruto, was treated.
Naruto was Natsu's alter ego. He could come and go pretty much unscathed by the village. People knew he was the demon carrier but after all his ninja training they were afraid to mess with him any more. The only time he had any problems was around his birthday and even the council didn't think it was a good idea for him to be in the village then. Though they didn't give a damn about his life they did care about the villagers so they'd send him out on a mission, usually alone, that would cover most of the month surrounding that date. Funny thing was they never realized Naruto liked the missions he did alone better than the ones where he was part of a team.
If he was alone he could drop his disguise and be Natsu but if they put him in a group then he had to remain in the disguise for the full time. His team was usually upset as well because they were missing the festival in the village. But sometimes he got lucky and he only had a single person with him. That was a good thing to Naruto because slipping away from a single person was relatively easy to do. The only time she didn't like to do it was when the person was someone she knew from her academy or genin days. Because over the years she had spent enough time around those people they'd learned to look past the loudness of her alter-ego and to tolerate being near him. She knew none of them really liked or would miss the orange wearing blond but at least she could sleep at night near them. She didn't have to worry if one of them made a meal or keep a watch for flying kunai aimed at supposed flies or jutsu that went mysteriously off target during battles. In short, though she honestly believed none of them would miss her, she didn't believe any of them would try to kill her either.
Well any of them with one exception. Uchiha Sasuke would and had tried more than once to kill her. He hated her with a passion he had formerly reserved for his own brother. To him Naruto was the source of all his problems. It was to protect Naruto and the Sandaime that Itachi had killed his family and since the Sandaime was already dead by the time he'd learned that he'd had no other outlet for his rage than Naruto. It didn't help that Naruto was stronger than he was. And, to add insult to injury, age had brought Sasuke the full knowledge that he had never really won in a spar against the loud boy. Even when he's resorted to using ninjutsu in a taijutsu battle, he had lost the fight every single time. Naruto just could not be beaten by Sasuke.
He'd first tried to kill him at the Valley of the End when they were twelve and thirteen. Naruto was still twelve but Sasuke had turned thirteen. Sasuke had a curse seal given to him by Orochimaru one of the three legendary sannin. Sasuke had been trying to run from the Leaf in order to go to the Snake Sennin, for the promise of training he believed would grant him the power to finally kill his brother, but Naruto and a group of genin under command of Shikamaru had chased after him. One by one, the group had been fractured until by the time they caught up to Sasuke, Naruto was the only person available to fight him and even then he would have had to let the boy go if Lee hadn't shown up unexpectedly. The appearance of Lee had allowed Naruto to break free from a fight with a guy who used his own bones as weapons, to continue chasing Sasuke. They'd clashed at the Valley and Sasuke had given in to his curse seal out of a desperate need to prove himself better than Naruto. He needed to be acknowledged as the stronger of the two and the one most special because by that point in time he'd thrown everything else away, deeming it worthless. All he had was his standing in the village and he couldn't see that no matter which of them was actually the stronger nin, to the village he would always be better than Naruto. In a way, he couldn't see it because he was too honest with himself to see it. If he knew he wasn't the stronger than he figured others knew it also and how could he achieve his dream if he wasn't even stronger than a deadlast twelve year old who hadn't even entered puberty yet?
But that was another thing that set Naruto apart from his friends. When they'd all been looking for a conquest of the opposite sex, he'd been clueless. Of course, that was on purpose but they didn't know that. Naruto couldn't be interested in a girl because he was just a cover. And if an alter-ego was interested in the opposite sex, it would reflect badly upon the true persona when or if the real person was discovered. For the same reason, Naruto could not allow it to be known if he had an interest in a specific guy. The few people who actually knew of her true identity had asked her but she'd shrugged their questions away without commenting other than to say it was not realistic.
Tsunade had gotten angry and demanded to know why it wasn't as it was the only way she could see that Naruto would ever be able to disappear. Natsu had laughingly laid out a scenario for her and by the time she was finished Tsunade had decided not to ask any more. After Natsu had left the office on her not so secret council given mission Tsunade had proceeded to get rip roaring drunk and cried herself to sleep.
The only other person in the village who knew she was really a girl was her old sensei from the academy. And that was only because she needed to be taught a kunoichi's skills as well as the skills and attitude of a normal shinobi. Iruka had balked at first but Sarutobi, the old Sandaime had explained to him that Natsu trusted very few people and he was one she trusted. He explained that there was no one else to teach her and since they all knew Iruka wasn't interested, at the time in any females, he was the perfect person to teach her about the female form and the mysteries of being a kunoichi. Then he'd point blank asked the teacher if not him than who would he trust enough to teach her? Iruka hadn't been able to think of anyone he'd trust to do the job so he had grudgingly gave in.
And so it had gone. Only Iruka and Tsunade knew she was actually a girl and they did their absolute best to keep it to themselves. Even the Beast locked away in her subconscious feared what would happen to her should anyone else find out her secret. The knowledge scared the demon enough to warn her not to use it's powers if anyone she didn't trust to keep their mouth shut was around. Kyuubi had explained to Natsu that if she were to call upon the Demon for help in a fight the illusion of Naruto would be dispersed and Natsu would be revealed. Kyuubi had said there was a chance that she'd be able to re-erect the henge before anyone noticed the change but sharp eyes might see her true self before it was completed.
And so even at the Valley of the End Natsu had not called on her inner demon for aid. She fought Sasuke tooth and nail but she used only her own power. The summoning technique Jiraiya had taught her had ended the battle because she told the toad to grab the brat and swallow him until they could get back to the village. Though surprised by the request the giant toad did as she requested and grabbed the flying Uchiha with his tongue. Then he'd quickly pulled the struggling boy into his mouth and carefully swallowed him.
Seeing someone else in the bushes Gamabunta had told her to summon one of his brothers to grab that person as well since he also wore a leaf headband. She had and they'd nabbed Kabuto as well. Kabuto had been hiding in the bushes waiting to see if Sasuke would succeed in his endeavor to kill his best friend. He had not been close enough to hear the conversations being held and so was caught with no problems by the second toad. Unlike Sasuke though they decided Kabuto was just a little bit too cagey a bird to be brought back conscious so they knocked him out first. Then the big battle attired toad swallowed him as Gama had swallowed Sasuke. The trio had made their way back to Konoha. Naruto had been exhausted and was sleeping on top of Gamabunta's head when they got back. Both toads spit out their cargo and the screeching of the fan-girls had been enough to make Naruto stir in his sleep. The Anbu who shackled Kabuto and carted him off to the holding cells were laughing their butts off as they also confined the angry Uchiha who was still looking like something from a horror movie.
His fan-girls and the villagers, ignorant peasants that they all were, thought Naruto had done something to the brat and tried to stone him where he slept securely on Gamabunta's head. The toad got angry and bellowed for Jiraiya. When the Sennin arrived, the toad demand to know what had happened to the intelligence of the Leaf village. He demanded to know just what made those stupid fools think the child on his head had done anything to turn the black-haired brat into a freak of nature even the demons wouldn't claim. Having no reasonable answer Jiraiya turned the question on the crowd. They shuffled their feet and hemmed and hawed but no one had any answer they could voice other than that Naruto was the Demon Kyuubi and who knew what that demon could and would do away from the controlling eyes of the villagers who protected each other from it's machinations.
Gama had blasted them all away from him with his roaring laughter. He had declared that if that little slip of a child was a demon then he was a tiny little kitty cat. He had then taken Naruto away from the village to recover and stayed with her until she woke and her chakra stores were back to normal. He knew Naruto was really Natsu because a summoner can not hide under illusions from the creatures being summoned.
When he'd first been summoned he had asked her, in the privatcy of the gorge Jiraiya had thrown her into, why she used the disguise. She had told him her life story and what it would mean for her should anyone in the village find out. She told him of the only two people who knew and why they knew. She also told him why one of those people was not Jiraiya and never would be if she had her way about it. She had already learned enough about the white haired pervert to know he would try and force her into revealing herself just as he'd tried to force her into using Kyuubi's chakra. And his only reason for doing so would be to give him amusement. She did not for a minute believe he would see her pain as anything other than a source of humor for himself.
Gamabunta had reluctantly agreed with her and kept her secret as well. He knew the white haired old man resented the child for surviving when his student had not. He knew that a part of the old man wanted the child to suffer for living through the sealing and though he understood the man's pain he did not share it. But he also knew the old man would never admit that to himself and honestly did think he was helping the child left in his hands. Gama knew Jiraiya would never be the teacher to Natsu that he had been to the Yondaime or even to his foreign genin team. He knew the man would teach the child nothing he had not promised to teach her and that was the Rasengan and the summoning of the toads, both of which she already knew. So he told her to separate herself from the Sennin as quickly as she reasonably could to lessen the chance of the pervert finding out and to make sure she wasn't alone with him any more than necessary even if it meant summoning a pocket sized toad to accompany them.
He then gone back to his own realm and told every toad under his command to make damn sure they did not mention her sex in any way shape or form. She was to be referred to as The Child, Child, or Summoner. He had expressly forbidden them mentioning it to Jiraiya. Even when they thought there was no one else around to overhear they were not to mention her henge or her true name, which he didn't even bother telling his clan. He held to the belief that the less information they had the less they could let slip but since he knew they could and would see her true form should they ever be summoned by her then he had to tell them it was a secret they could not and had better not ever reveal.
Over the years it had become necessary for her to have a small toad with her almost all the time since she never had any idea when or where the pervert would show up. The toad was usually Gamakichi since he was less troublesome and smarter than Gamakatsu who always wanted candy. The little toad had spoken privately with his father and learned exactly why Natsu required more protection by the toads than former summoners ever had and what would happen to her should Jiraiya ever find out about her henge. Kichi was determined to see to it that it never happened and more than once had called out his father to deal with the troublesome old summoner. The Sennin did not understand why his old friend kept popping into their realm without being summoned first but there was no doubt in his mind that the boss really had a grudge against him for some reason.
But unknown to Natsu there was one other person in the village who knew her secret and had helped to keep it for her entire life. Every time there had been the slightest slip in the henge he'd slipped some of his own chakra into it to keep it in place until she could reinforce it herself. He'd watched over her for her entire life from the shadows and he would never stop until they either laid his body in the ground or burned his remains to ash in the field. She was his responsibility to protect and he took the duty seriously knowing full well the consequences should he ever fail to be there when she needed him.
Hatake Kakashi understood why she was hiding herself from the world but a part of him wished it wasn't necessary. A part of him wanted to just let her know with him she did not need to hide. He knew he loved her and would never hurt her in any way shape or form but he also knew she could not ever trust anyone including him. And so he watched over her from the shadows and pretended it was enough for him. And once a moon he went hunting in his wolf form. His wolf demon did not understand why he would not tell the girl of his desire or her role in his life but then the silver wolf was a demon and human emotions were beyond their understanding. Things were much simpler for the demons than it was for humans but then demons were usually brute strength and great chakra. Humans could not measure up to them in either category but they outclassed the demons in intelligence. They were much smarter and a whole lot more devious. And that meant they could be wayyy more inventive when it came to hurting each other.
Now he kept watch as she gardened and fantasized about both of them in a different lifetime where they could have been together as they should have been in this one. He had his chakra signature cloaked knowing she would panic if she picked it up. She tended to her different plants with love and care and as he watched her hands delicately working the soil or plucking damaged or diseased leaves with gentle touches he wondered what it would feel like to hold her and feel that same gentle touch on his own skin. He had been alone for so long that it nearly broke his will as he watched her moving amongst the young plants she had cultivated.
Natsu finished her gardening and went to a nearby stream to wash the dirt off her face and hands. Then she just sat on the shore watching as the sun sank below the horizon. Kakashi had followed her to the stream and was still watching over her as she watched the sun set. He was surprised to hear her whisper, "Kyuubi, I know already. Knock it off."
A few minutes of silence and then she said in the same soft voice, "No Kyu. It would only end up in pain for everyone concerned. My way is for the best and we both know it. Now drop it." Then she set her head on her knees and cried.
Kakashi wondered what was for the best as he watched her cry. He knew what he wanted to do but he also knew he could not go to her. Finally, she wiped her eyes and again bathed her face before standing up. She sighed as she renewed her henge and went back to her home inside the walls of the village.
Since Sasuke and the other genin of her year had become chunnin Naruto had become more and more isolated from the ninja community. The council would not grant her a higher rank than genin no matter how good a ninja she was or how many high risk missions she completed. She, however, planned to change that. Maybe Kyu was right. Maybe it was time for a change. The village might forever see Naruto as only the Kyuubi in human form but maybe Kyu was right and if she could give them a long enough break from her presence they could accept Natsu as more than just the demon she held confined. She decided to put her plan into motion. Now. Tonight. You'd beeter be right about him Kyuubi, she thought to her demon. I am, came the reply.
Changing her mind, about going home she took off for the tower, where she knew Shizune would still be trying to convince Tsunade to finish the mountain of paperwork the Hokage position demanded she do. Tsunade would be doing her best to call it quits for the day so she could go drinking and gambling but as much as Tsunade was a lousy gambler Shizune was her equal in stubbornness. Naruto giggled to himself as he climbed the stairs of the tower and proceeded to the Hokage's office where he could already hear the Hokage whining to her assistant much as if she were the younger of the two.
"Hey Baa-chan," he called, as he automatically danced out of the way of the flying paperweight she threw at his head on reflex. "Came to ask a big favor. Think we can get some real privacy for a few minutes?" he asked, poking his head around the door.
She smirked and motioned for him to come in. He gave her a one minute signal and called out, "Come on in, Kakashi."
Kakashi came out of the shadows, surprise written all over his visible face. Once they were both inside the office, and Shizune had been dispatched to go get Tsunade's dinner, the Hokage activated the privacy shield which would block everything in the office from the eyes and ears of those who were too curious for their own good. Once the room quit glowing, Tsunade indicated the shield was working as it should and Naruto let his henge fall becoming once more Natsu.
"I know I've always said that I don't want anyone in the village to know my true self but Kakashi has been trailing me all day today and so I know he already knows. I don't know how long he's known but it must have been for quite awhile as I only realized this evening his chakra signature is so familiar that I automatically accept it as a part of the background everywhere I go. That means he has to have known for a very long time." She gave the Copy-nin a piercing look and he flushed but nodded in agreement.
"I've known from day one. It was one of the things your father told me before he died and he swore me to secrecy because, although he asked the village to see you as a hero, he knew they wouldn't. He asked me to watch over you from the shadows and protect you from harm if I could But above all I was to make sure no one found out the truth of who you are unless you wanted them to. In other words, I was to make sure your henge did not fall at the wrong time. I have done the best I could but sometimes I just couldn't be there and you got hurt anyway. I'm sorry."
"It's ok. The villagers are stupid but their pain is very real and sometimes great pain leads people to do the opposite of what they know they should. The council made me an easy target and so long as I live here even if the council changes the village will continue to see me as the source of their problems and an easy target for their anger. That will not ever change unless I make it change. But you are suffering as well and it's time that ended." She turned her attention back to Tsunade.
"Tsunade-baachan, I would like to request a month long mission from you, for only Kakashi and myself. Since you know I can be my real self around him without getting hurt I would like to go live as a normal person for a month. If you will allow this I will tell you how to get Shizune off your case about the paperwork. But I'll also take your promise that you will not misuse the information or tell the council about my whereabouts or Kakashi's."
"Hmm. You want to live like a real person? Does this mean what I think it means?"
Natsu titled her head to one side and looked her grandmother type in the eye. "Probably," she said. "I'm fifteen and if the council has their way I won't live a day past my twenty-fifth birthday. That's ten years away, Granny, but that really isn't a very long time you know."
"Stop calling me that Brat. Ok I can see your point but why him? Why not someone closer to your own age, like that ex-teammate of yours who's always driving me crazy to send you both on missions together."
All the color bled from Natsu's face as she heard Tsunade's words. "Please don't ever send me on a mission with him. If you do it will be my death. Because even if I win the fight, he will start, the council will kill me for harming him." Real fear was in her voice and a look at Kakashi confirmed what she said.
Kakashi told Tsunade, "Sasuke wants Naruto dead. No two ways about it. He actively hates Naruto for being stronger than he is and, since Itachi told him the clan was slaughtered to save Sandaime and Naruto from their plotting, he has vowed he will kill Naruto for his clan. Then, to add insult to injury, she brought him back from the Valley without a scratch in his full cursed state which he'd tried to dismiss but Gamabunta wouldn't let him. I think Gamabunta felt if he was gonna be foolish enough to use it then he could show everyone what an idiot he really is."
"Yeah, Gama didn't understand the villagers would blame me for his new look. He honestly didn't think they were quite that stupid," confirmed Natsu.
"I didn't even know why he couldn't dismiss the state," Tsunade said. "I thought he was keeping it up on purpose."
Natsu smiled. "I was nearly unconscious from using so much of my chakra and so I couldn't tell Gama to let him dismiss the state until I woke up. I know everyone thought he went back to the realm he belongs in when he hopped off with me but he didn't. He stayed here to protect me until I woke up and had my full energy stores as well as all my chakra back. He's also invested a lot into keeping your old teammate from discovering my secrets."
"I've never understood why you don't want Jiraiya to know. He is your Godfather, you know," said Tsunade.
"Because first; he's a pervert. Second; he threw me off a freaking cliff to force me into using Kyu's chakra to summon Gama. Third; he refuses to understand Kyu's chakra is not good for me to use. Even Kyu admits her chakra is harmful to me. And finally because he would not keep his big mouth shut about it and that assumes he wouldn't break the henge himself in the middle of the village center just to watch what happens to me as a result."
"Jiraiya knows how to keep a secret, Natsu, and while I'll admit he is a pervert he wouldn't let anything or anyone hurt you. Nor would he deliberately endanger your safety," chided Tsunade.
"Have you forgotten the cliff incident?" asked Kakashi with a raised eyebrow. "She is correct in her summation. He would tell someone and he would force her into revealing herself in front of the village because he blames her for Minato's death. He feels that if she hadn't been born than Sensei wouldn't have been able to preform the sealing and he might not have died because he would have had to find another way of getting rid of Kyuubi." Kakashi sighed and went on in a quieter voice. "I miss Sensei every day but I do not blame her for surviving when he did not. I knew she would survive because that's the only way the sealing would be effective. But Jiraiya, even though he knows her death would have meant the process failed and Sensei died for nothing, will not admit it. He thinks if she gets hurt then she deserves it for living when he died. And you know he has little to no respect for women anyway seeing them as only a body or a tool to be used."
Tsunade sighed. "I had hoped he had gotten past that stage."
Natsu shook her head. "Even Gama says I should not ever be alone with him. Gama made me promise I would always have one of his sons with me so they could summon him should the Hermit ever show up and try to dispel my henge."
"Kuso! Even his own summons don't trust him anymore. That is so sad," whispered Tsunade.
"It's not that they don't trust him. It's more they know him and don't want to see me hurt to feed his need for revenge against me for something outside my control. The Toads do love him but they aren't blind to who he is," Natsu explained. "But back to the mission, will you do it?"
"Hai. I still want to know why Kakashi but I guess he's better than someone who would kill you. However, you will tell Iruka before you go." Natsu smiled and walked over to Kakashi. Standing in front of him, she leaned back and rested her head on his chest, much to his surprise. His arms moved of their own accord to wrap around her form holding her close to him as his one visible eye closed and a quiet sigh escaped his lips.
"I chose Kakashi because he's mine. He always has been and always will be. Nothing more and nothing less. As for telling Iruka-niisan, well I wanted to leave tonight before the council can send me out on another mission they hope I won't return from."
"Oh. I hadn't thought about that. They do seem to have a pattern where you are concerned, don't they? Ok. Go ahead. Get out of here but Kakashi. . . You hurt her and I will hurt you ten times worse. Is that clear?"
"Yes Ma'am. I would never hurt her anyway but I'll keep that in mind."
"Now where are you going?"
"With Tazuna's help I bought a little cabin for myself outside of Wave Country a few years back. Both Jijii and I felt it would be much better for me if I had a safe-house set up that I could run to if ever things got too bad here. So, after Team Seven did their mission there, I got Tazuna-san to purchase the cabin for me that Haku and Zabuza used as a hide-out before they died. He and Inari take care of the place for me and they've hidden the fact that I own it. So I think we'll go there for the month. Can you have Iruka-nii take care of my gardens while we're gone? Some of the stuff should be ready for harvesting soon."
"Ok now about this paperwork. . ."
"Oh two words, Baa-chan. Shadow Clones." She laughed at the dumbstruck expression on the Hokage's face. Even Kakashi chuckled.
"You mean to tell me that all these years I could have been . . ."
"Ahh ahh ahh. You promised not to misuse it. That means you work alongside them. You can have them working with you but no getting them to do it all for you while you go ruin your liver and kidneys and gamble away money you don't have."
"But Natsu. . ." she whined.
"Iie, Baa-chan. I may be the last Namikaze and therefore richer than either of us can comprehend but that doesn't mean I'll ever see a dime of it. The council will do everything in their power to keep me from it and from what we just told you about Ero-Sennin do you really think he'd back my claim to my family name or heritage?"
"Well, no. Probably not," she sighed again reminded once more of her fickle teammate with a very long grudge against an innocent child. That was something she would make damn sure he paid for until he came to his senses.
Unaware of the train of Tsunade's thoughts, Natsu continued speaking. "That means, I would only have my own mission money to pay off your debts and if you go gambling for more than two hours a week you'll leave both of us in the poorhouse. You know the Council would love it if I can't pay my bills from trying to pay off yours."
"Yeah that's true but I would never let you get into that mess anyway."
"So long as I have the food from the forest and my dug-out Baa-chan, there isn't much more that I need."
"Why don't the two of you just use the dug-out? Why do you need to leave the village for this?"
"Maybe when we come back we will do that on occasion but I want to be a female full time for a bit. I'm tired of being a boy all the time around everyone."
"Ok that makes sense. Go. Have fun and I'll tell Iruka in the morning."
Natsu reapplied her henge and Tsunade dropped the shield so they could leave. Now appearing once again as Naruto, Natsu laughed as Tsunade immediately summoned two clones to start on her paperwork.
Kakashi escorted Naruto to his dug-out and waited while he packed his bag and then they went to his place and packed his bag as well. Together they left the village unseen by anyone except the gate guards who only knew they were off on a mission given to them by Tsunade herself.
END OF PART ONE