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Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto, nor will I ever through out this story! ~
"But that's hardly enough time to bring Sasuke back!" Naruto exclaimed furiously, his tan cheeks flushing. Staring deep into the elder's eyes, he could evidently see that they really didn't care.
"You've trained with the best," Koharu snapped. "You spent two years under Jiraiya. Bringing Uchiha Sasuke back should not be too much of a trial for you. Besides, didn't you say you were going to continue to try and bring him back?"
Naruto rolled his eyes. "Yes, I did. But—"
"And, if I'm recalling correctly, aren't you constantly making known your way of the ninja: that you'll never take back your word?"
"Yes, that's right," Naruto admitted grudgingly. Casting his eyes downward, he anxiously wrung his hands, running over the council's demands in his head.
"But what happens if I don't bring Sasuke back in the fixed time?" Naruto pressed nervously.
Koharu adjusted herself in her chair. "If that is ultimately your fate, I'm afraid we are going to have to take dire procedures."
"Dire procedures," Naruto repeated, furrowing his brow. "What does that mean?"
"You'll be banned from Konoha permanently, and your chakra will be sealed," Homura said briskly.
Naruto's eyes widened. "What – no! That's not fair!" The blond whipped around, scanning the Hokage's office, searching madly for Tsunade. "Where did obaachan go?" Naruto demanded. "She can't agree with this…"
"The Hokage has protected you one too many times," Homura said sternly. "This state of affairs has now been put into our hands."
Naruto shook his head in disbelief. This had to be a joke; a big, sick joke. Hanging his head, Naruto clenched his fists.
"When do I leave?" He muttered, weakly admitting defeat.
"Tomorrow at dawn," Homura said with a shadow of a satisfied grin on his aged face. "You'll spend tonight preparing for your journey. And I'd advise you to get as much sleep in as possible, since you'll be leaving early, and I doubt you'll be getting a large amount of sleep in the next four weeks."
"I've been on missions before," Naruto snarled. "I know exactly how to prepare."
"Yes, but this is your first, and potentially last, solo mission," Koharu said. "It would be very unwise of you to underestimate it."
Naruto grit his teeth, but never the less nodded in agreement.
"Very well, you're dismissed," Koharu concluded gravely.
Naruto nodded, and without one further look back at the elders, he stormed out of the Hokage's office.
"Gaki!" Tsunade exclaimed as soon as Naruto had stepped out into the hall. "I tried everything I could, but those damn elders shot down everything I had to say…"
"I know, obaachan," Naruto smiled sadly at the big-busted woman. "But you don't have to worry," Naruto quickly wiped his cheerless expression from his face and replaced it with his trademark smile. "I'll bring Sasuke back in time. I said I would, and I never go back on my word! That's my way of the ninja!" Naruto smiled good-naturedly.
Tsunade, however, did not mirror his happy expression. "How long did they give you?"
"Four week," Naruto sighed, quickly resuming his grave manner. "But they have quite a few leads on Sasuke, so at least I'll know where to start."
Tsunade shook her head. "They're so devious." She let out a growl. "They know Akatsuki is still after you."
Naruto nodded, not meeting Tsunade's gaze. "And they know I'd never be taken alive."
Tsunade closed her eyes, a worried look on her face. "Just be careful, gaki. I'd never forgive myself if anything happened to you."
Naruto moved in, and pulled the older woman into a hug, which she immediately returned. "I know, obaachan. And thanks, for everything."
Tsunade pushed him away and smacked him upside the head. "Firstly, don't call me that." Her face softened. "And don't get all gushy on me; I might cry."
Naruto laughed. "Good bye, obaachan." Turning on his heel, he walked down the hallway to the building's exit. Everything felt illusive; like he was in a nightmare, and the whole lot was just a fuzzy blur.
He could hardly comprehend that he had four weeks to find Uchiha Sasuke, or he would be permanently banished from the only home he'd ever known. Raking a shaking hand through his spiky hair, he sadly walked through Konoha's dimly lit streets. The streets were almost bare; only four or five other people passed him on his walk back home. Once he reached his scarcely decorated apartment, he trudged to his bedroom and threw himself onto his bed, violent sobs racking his body.
It was inevitable. Even Naruto, nicknamed a "dobe", could forecast his fate. He knew he could kiss Konoha goodbye.
Naruko adjusted her rucksack as she followed the busy crowds into the brightly lit city. She felt her eyeballs almost burn up at the sight of all the flashing lights. Sighing, she pushed all downbeat thoughts from her head; after all, this would be her new home now, so she might as well make the most of it.
Scanning the buildings that lined the streets, Naruko searched for any decent looking hotel that she thought didn't resemble a whorehouse. Unsurprisingly, she had to go quite a ways until she found a place she could even consider. Walking into the lobby, she wrinkled her nose; but it was better than nothing.
Stepping up to the front desk, Naruko had to struggle to not outwardly grimace as she felt the older man's eyes wander over her figure, which was hidden beneath very loose-fitting clothes. She had also hid her lengthy hair beneath an old, tattered hat she had found in her dresser when she had been cleaning out her apartment. She knew she looked ugly, but she hardly had time to primp that morning; she had been too busy packing her things away.
"I'd like a room," Naruko said loudly, breaking the silence. "I'm going to be staying for two nights, maybe more."
The man nodded, finally tearing his eyes away from her stature. "Alright. Are you sleeping alone?"
"Huh?" Naruko asked, eyes widening.
"Ah. Sorry – what I meant was do you require only one bed." The man smiled sheepishly.
Naruko nodded. "Oh, ha, yeah, that'd be good. I don't need that nice of a room, either. Just to sleep in, you know?"
"Right," the man agreed with a smirk. "Alright, here," he handed her a tab. "You stay here and sort out your money while I go and open the room for you."
Naruko nodded. Sighing, she rummaged through her bag. Thankfully, obaachan had been friendly enough to supply Naruko with enough money to last her a good, long time. Or, at least until Naruko finally got situated. Pulling out her money, Naruko waited patiently for the man to return.
"Okay, I'll just take the money here," he reached out his hand, happily accepting the yen she reluctantly forked over. "And here's your key. You're room 193, which is down that hallway over there, the very last door on the left."
Naruko flashed him a smile. "Thanks for your help."
"Of course," the man said with a bow. "And please, do not hesitate to ask if you need anything. I'm almost always available."
"Really, that's hard to believe," Naruko said sarcastically before dashing off to her room. Once inside the room, she dropped her bag to the floor and collapsed onto the stiff bed. However, it felt like a cloud to her sore, exhausted body.
"Guh, I have such a headache," Naruko moaned, rubbing her forehead. "Those lights are going to give me a seizure…" Sighing, Naruko stood up off the bed and walked over to the window that faced the busy streets. Sighing, she scanned the crowds. She had no idea what she was going to do for work in a place like this. She couldn't be a ninja; her chakra had been sealed. And she couldn't be a prostitute; she valued herself more than that.
Growling, she searched the streets again, until she caught sight of a billboard that stopped her in her tracks – Modeling. It was just right! She could be a model! When she was made up, Naruko could cause almost any male to swoon and faint due to blood loss. Besides, she already had a bit of experience, thanks to Jiraiya. When she had traveled with him, all those years ago, he had made her pose for a few amateur pictures until Naruko had ended up kicking his ass and burning the photos.
Smiling to herself and feeling a bit more prepared, Naruko quickly stripped herself of her baggy clothes and slipped into another large tee-shirt and cozy pants. Sliding underneath the bed's stiff covers, Naruko fell into a deep sleep the moment her head hit the pillow, planning on going to the modeling center tomorrow.
It was almost funny – going from a male shinobi to a female model. But as long as it would keep her on her feet and out of the streets, she really didn't care. Besides, how bad could being a model be?