Chapter Forty-One: Uzumaki vs Uchiha

"Okay, remember this is a spar." Asuma said. "This is to learn and gain experience. Are you two ready?"

"I'm ready, Asuma-Sensei." Naruko nodded.

"Just start the fight already." Sasuke said impatiently. He was excited to see how he would do against Naruko. For several months now he had been hearing about how amazing and strong she has become since they graduated from the Shinobi Academy. He still couldn't believe she was made Chuunin before him, all because she was lucky enough to catch Mizuki betraying the village. In his opinion anyone could have been the one to discover the plot against Konoha that night.

However, ever since that time rumors about how strong she and her girlfriend had become and how they had helped on the frontline of the invasion of Konoha had been going around, he had been curious what made her so strong. He knew these rumors were exaggerated, most rumors are, but he still wanted to test himself against her. Then she had knocked him out during his fight with that Suna Shinobi named Gaara and practically humiliated him in the process. This was unacceptable in his eyes.

Another thing this fight would show him was if Mizuki and that scientist he had met a few weeks back were right. Was Konoha holding him back? If he couldn't defeat a simple Kunoichi who was promoted by luck, then what chance did he have against Itachi? He and Naruko were of the same age and thus should be on the same level. There's no way that she was stronger than him if they received the same kind of training from their sensei.

"Fight." Asuma said starting the spar.

Naruko watched as Sasuke sprung into action. She saw him grab some shuriken from his pouch and throw them at her; she wasn't worried however as she calmly dodged three of them and deflected another two with a kunai. To her surprise however another five shuriken were hidden in the shadow of the first five and she was forced to jump to her side in order to avoid getting hit. When she landed she saw that Sasuke had closed the distance between them and aimed his fist at her head.

She had enough time to dodge and Sasuke's fist hit nothing but air. As she dodged the attack by throwing her head to the side, she took advantage to counter-attack. She raised her leg, trying to kick him in the stomach. Her attack was stopped by Sasuke, who managed to block the kick with both arms. Still, the kick was hard enough to make him stagger back a few steps. Naruko didn't waste the opportunity and pressed her attack. Before he could regain his bearings, Sasuke had to dodge a punch to the head and another round –house kick by Naruko. Seeing that he needed to create some distance between them he jumped back by focusing some chakra into his legs.

"Not bad Sasuke." Naruko said impressed.

"Hn, you haven't seen anything yet." Sasuke smirked racing towards her.

Naruko wasn't intimidated at the least and started running at Sasuke as well. They met in the middle of the training ground again and Naruko caught Sasuke's fist with her hand, while he did the same as her. With both hands caught, the two stared at each other trying to overpower the other. While Naruko was stronger than most girls and some guys, she wasn't about to risk the fight by trying to gamble on her strength. So instead of continuing the struggle she moved on to her next attack.

Sasuke was standing with his front leg bent so he could put strength into it, while his other leg with behind him to prevent him from slipping back. Seeing this Naruko stepped forward and used Sasuke's knee as a stepping point and did a back flip. In the process however she kicked the boy straight in the chin, making him let go of her and staggering back. Naruko wasn't finished however and she jumped into his guard and delivered a crushing punch to his stomach almost making him lose his lunch. Her final attack, a double punch to the face, was barely evaded as Sasuke regained control.

Naruko jumped back seeing that Sasuke needed some time to recover and she didn't want to lose the advantage she had by running blindly into his attacks. She did let out a small chuckle when she saw him rub his chin and wipe the blood of his bottom lip. She doubted he would be hindered by the attack for long as she had purposely kept back a lot of her strength. This was a spar after all.

"You'll pay for that one, blondie" Sasuke sneered.

"Bring it on, pretty boy." Naruko returned making a 'come on' gesture with her hand.

Sasuke roared in anger at being taunted and attacked once more. His kicks and punches were easily blocked by Naruko at first but it seemed he had started to speed up as the fight continued. Still, he was way slower then Yuugao, Anko or Yamato so dodging was not really a problem. His guard however was airtight and she had trouble finding an opening. She let him keep on his attack in the hopes that he would slip up soon. When she saw his arm go down, she attacked. Unfortunately, it seemed as Sasuke had deliberately opened his guard to lure Naruko in attacking him.

Naruko cursed as she felt Sasuke's knee make contact with her upper thigh and she felt the pain coursing through her leg. It was a fine attack that would hinder her movement for several moments. To prove that his attack had been well planned Sasuke's attacks sped up even more and with her moving being slowed down, Naruko was unable to block the punch to her face and the follow up one that connected to her shoulder. She did however manage to grab Sasuke's arm in she pulled him close before she head-butted him. Both took a few steps back from the blow, halting the match once more.

"Hah, Sasuke-kun is kicking your girlfriend's ass." Sakura said to Haku.

"Naruko-chan hasn't even started." Haku said calmly. "She's been analyzing Sasuke's fighting style. I admit that he has some real talent in the field of Taijutsu. No doubt he'll become very strong but let me tell you one thing right now." Haku said pausing for effect. "Naruko-chan is the strongest out of all of us."

"Yeah right." Sakura snorted.

"Sakura, don't forget that Naruko is already a Chuunin." Shikamaru said lazily. "That means something, you know."

"Bah, you're a Chuunin as well and you get your butt kicked every time." Sakura said glaring at the Nara prodigy.

"Let's just watch the spar shall we." Kakashi said to them.

Naruko grinned as she watched Sasuke recover from her head-butt. She had clearly damaged him as she saw him shake his head to get rid of the dizziness and pain. Her own pain was already gone so she was good to go. Still, in the spirits of the spar she waited until Sasuke was fully recovered.

Sasuke cursed as he shook his head clear. He had definitely felt that one and his head was still throbbing from the pain. Not expecting such an attack had made sure he couldn't brace himself for the pain making the attack more effective. Growling at his opponent he saw her standing with a smile on her face. He seethed with anger at her.

'How dare she mock me?' Sasuke thought. 'She's been taking my attacks like they were nothing. Am I really that weak? Perhaps they were truly holding me back?'

"What's the matter?" Naruko asked confused. "Not going to continue? Forfeiting?"

"Like I would ever forfeit to the likes of you." Sasuke yelled. "You're nothing compared to the might of the Uchiha." His Sharingan flared up and he stared at her with those powerful eyes.

"Sasuke, no use of Kekkei Genkai." Asuma intervened. "If you attack now, I'll stop the match right there."

Sasuke growled but stopped using his Sharingan. He had wanted to see how Naruko would do against the Sharingan but it seemed that he wouldn't find out today. No matter, there would be other opportunities. He grabbed into his pouch and took out a scroll; swiping some blood on the scroll, a simple but elegant blade appeared.

"You're the first I'll fight with this blade." Sasuke smirked.

"I'm honored." Naruko snorted. "Can you even use that?"

"You're about to find out." Sasuke said attacking.

Naruko, who had been taking lessons from Yuugao for months and had been sparring with Haku for just as long, snorted at the form Sasuke used. She easily recognized that Sasuke had no real experience with swords and she dodged the sword with ease. She could tell that Sasuke had received no real training on how to fight with a sword but most likely trained on his own to create his own style.

"It's a nice blade but that's all it is." Naruko said when she evaded another swipe of the sword. "You're a talented shinobi, Sasuke but you're no swordsmen."

"Shut up." Sasuke said.

"Let me show you what it means to fight with a sword." Naruko said reaching into her pouch. Everyone watched as she took out something that resembled a sword handle.

"What's that?" Sasuke snorted. "That's not a sword."

"Oh but it is." Naruko chuckled. She then concentrated some chakra into the handle and a blue, crackling blade appeared from the handle. Everyone but Haku's and Yamato's jaws dropped at seeing the blade and they wondered what it was. When Hinata asked about the blade it was Naruko herself who answered. "This is the 'Raijin'." As she held the Katana shaped sword in front of her lovingly.

"That's impossible." The Jounin sensei said shocked. "The legendary sword of the Nidaime Hokage. It was supposed to be lost from the village for years."

"We took it back from the person who stole it from the village." Naruko continued. "When we returned it to Tsunade-Baachan, she insisted that I keep it and use it as my own."

"Do you realize what this means?" Kurenai breathed. "Stories tell that the one who wields this sword is invincible."

"Sorry Kurenai-Sensei, but that's totally exaggerated." Haku said. "Naruko has yet to win a swordfight against me or Yuugao-neechan. While a sword like this has some advantages, it's the one who wields it who needs to be strong."

"Also if that was true, than we wouldn't have defeated the one who stole the sword in the first place." Naruko added. "Now, how about it Sasuke? Care to test your blade against mine?"

Sasuke looked on in wonder at the marvelous blade in his opponent's hand. He could tell that his own blade stood no chance against it but he wasn't about to forfeit because of this. He gripped his blade strongly and made his resolve. He sped forward and attacked.

Naruko calmly waited for Sasuke to reach her and brought up the 'Raijin'. She blocked the attack and stopped Sasuke from advancing. She could feel the Raiton Chakra grind against Sasuke's blade and she focused her chakra so that the 'Raijin' wouldn't destroy the blade. She had no intention of ruining the blade, which would have an insult to any adversary.

Sasuke could feel the Raiton chakra running through the metal of his blade and it started numbing his hands as he held the blade. Before he could continue his attack however, Naruko pushed his blade away, forcing his torso to be wide open as his arms were pushed upwards. Naruko pivoted on her front foot and made a full circle before she slashed the 'Raijin' across Sasuke's chest. Sasuke screamed in pain as the Raiton chakra ran through his body, giving him a nasty shock. He crashed on the ground, unable to get up due to his body not responding to his wishes.

"That's enough." Asuma decided. "Great match, you two."

Naruko stopped focusing her chakra through the Raijin and quickly put it away before walking over to Sasuke. She stopped in front of him and held out her hand in order to help him.

"I had fun, Sasuke." Naruko admitted. "You were a fun opponent to spar with. If you want some help with sparring with swords I'm sure Haku-chan and TenTen would love to help you. They're much better than I am."

"I don't need your or anyone's help." Sasuke said angry slapping Naruko's hand away.

"I'm only saying that…" Naruko said angry. Here she was trying to be kind and friendly and he threw it back in her face.

"If I were allowed to use my Sharingan, you wouldn't have stood a chance." Sasuke said getting up before walking away. "You were lucky but next time I'll win."

"Jerk." Naruko said when Sasuke was out of hearing reach.

"Don't worry about him Naru-chan." Haku said softly. "Sasuke is just too proud to accept help from others, that's all."

"I don't know why I even bothered to be polite to him." Naruko said angry. "I get it that he wants to avenge his family but why is he so cold towards everyone else?"

"Naruko, amongst all of you it's probably only you and Haku who know how difficult it is to be alone in this world." Kakashi said. "Sasuke has been alone for years, fixated on getting stronger and avenging his family. It has become his goal in life and I'm afraid it's starting to twist his mind."

"Still Kakashi, if he continues like this, he's going to snap one day." Asuma interjected while looking at the other Genin. "We've all seen it happen before and it's never pretty. We'll need to keep an eye on him."

"Don't worry about my student, Asuma." Kakashi said. "Hokage-sama has already instructed me to keep a close eye on him. I will not let anything happen to my student. Besides, Sasuke is stronger than you think and I'm sure he'll manage to find his way."

"I hope you're right Kakashi." Asuma sighed.

After the sparring section was done, the Genin were allowed to leave and train on their own or they could stay and get some help from the Jounin. Only Naruko, Haku, Lee and TenTen stayed and continued to train. TenTen has of course ambushed Naruko about the 'Raijin' and she was absolutely fascinated by it. After several minutes of inspecting the sword she challenged Haku to as duel which the girl happily accepted.

Lee went over to Gai and started training with his role model, while shouting about doing some youthful training.

Naruko however went to see Kakashi and asked for some instructions on her Raiton element. While she was starting to have a good grasp on her element, she still felt like she could make a lot of progress. Kakashi was known to have created one of the strongest Raiton based attacks, the Chidori, and she was sure that he could give her some good tips or ideas.

"Kakashi-sensei, do you have a minute?" Naruko asked.

"How can I help the 'Raiton Megami' of Konoha?" Kakashi smiled.

"Not you too." Naruko sighed. "I was wondering if you had any tips or idea for mastering my Raiton element. You use Raiton Jutsu as well, no?"

"Of course." Kakashi nodded. "What do you want to know?"

"Well, I've been focusing on creating new Jutsu but I'm wondering what other Jutsu exist." Naruko said. "Unfortunately both Yuugao-neechan and Yamato-Sensei are not well versed in Raiton techniques so it's been difficult to find out what sort of techniques already exist."

"Well, like with all the other Chakra elements there are tons of Raiton Jutsu." Kakashi nodded. "For example, there's the Raiton Kage Bunshin no Jutsu. This, as the name indicates, is a clone made out of Raiton chakra that will give your opponent a terrible electric shock when they hit it. It's not an easy technique to learn but I'm sure you'll figure it out."

"Oh, I definitely like that one." Naruko grinned in anticipation. "How do you do it?"

"It's the same process as a normal Kage Bunshin but instead of you normal chakra, you use Raiton Chakra." Kakashi said. "It sounds easy but you'll see that it's a bit more complicated than that."

"Thank Kakashi-sensei, I'll get working on that one right away." Naruko said happily.

"Ah to be young again, huh Yamato." Kakashi said.

"I'm still young, sempai." Yamato said a bit affronted. "So speak for yourself."

"Huh, did you say something?" Kakashi deadpanned while taking out his favorite book.

A week later Naruko and Haku were traveling to the Konoha Hospital to meet up with Tsunade. They had been told by Yamato that they were specifically requested by Tsunade to accompany her on a trip but he didn't specify where they would be going or what the purpose of the trip was. He had only said that they would enjoy the trip. As they came up to the hospital, they quickly moved straight to the office that the soon to be Hokage was using.

"Ah, you're already here." Tsunade said when they entered her office. "Just give me a minute to finish my report and then we can leave."

"No worries, Baa-chan." Naruko smiled and sat down in one of the chairs with Haku at her side.

"There." Tsunade said after a few more minutes. "Glad that's over. Stupid reports, can't wait until I'm done with those."

"Because you think that the Hokage has no paperwork?" Naruko laughed loudly. "Nice one, Baa-chan."

"Shut up brat." Tsunade glared at the blonde but they could tell there was no anger in the glare. "Let's go."

"And where exactly are we going, Tsunade-sama?" Haku asked politely as the neared the great Gate of Konoha. After getting checked out they started their trip.

"Yamato didn't tell you?" Tsunade asked getting a no in return. "We're going to Sunagakure. As my 'promotion' to Hokage is now officially known here in Konoha, we need to formally inform our allies about it as well. As future Hokage, I'm to meet with the leaders of Sunagakure and present myself."

"Oh, Sunagakure?" Naruko said excited. "We've never been there and who knows, maybe we can see Gaara."

"It would be nice to see him again." Haku nodded equally excited. "I wonder how he's been after the invasion."

"Gaara? Suna's Jinchuuriki?" Tsunade recalled as she had been told about the boy. "I remember you girls telling me about him but I didn't know you were such close friends."

"I wouldn't exactly call us 'close friends' but that's only because we never got a lot of time to spend with him." Naruko sighed. "Still, he's a fellow Jinchuuriki and I'd like to get to know him better. He was crazy strong and if it wasn't for your and Jiraiya-kyoufuu's training, it would have been very hard to beat him."

"Well, you'll have your chance now." Tsunade explained. "We should be there for a couple of days so I'm sure you'll get to see him. He's the son of the previous Kazekage after all."

"I'll warn him about Akatsuki at the same time. He's just as much a target as I am so he deserves to know there are people out to get him." Naruko said determined.

"Don't worry, Naruko-chan. You said it yourself, Gaara is strong. He won't be defeated that easily." Haku said supporting her girlfriend. She knew all too well how worried Naruko was at times about Akatsuki.

"Don't forget, you're not alone." Tsunade added. "We won't let them get you."

"Thanks." Naruko smiled with renewed confidence. "How long until we get there?"

"At this pace, about two days. The last part is traveling through the vast desert, which is a pain." Tsunade sighed. "Be careful to ration your water. The desert has claimed many shinobi who thought that they were strong enough to travel in the desert. It's a dangerous place and if you don't pay attention, you'll end up getting lost. Not to mention the scorching heat during the day and cold temperatures during the night."

"Have you been to Sunagakure before?" Naruko asked.

"A few times." Tsunade nodded. "Although it wasn't exactly under such friendly circumstances. Konoha and Suna clashed several times in history, both in the Second and Third Shinobi World War. Suna shinobi were terrifying enemies and some of them were truly magnificent shinobi. One of the most recognizable forces of Suna were the 'Kugutsu Butai' (Puppeteer Brigade) with their amazing control over their puppets."

"Like Kankuro." Naruko nodded. "It's not my style but I can see how powerful they can be."

"A true puppeteer can control several puppets at the same time making them very powerful enemies." Tsunade continued. "That combined with their other forces and we were hard pressed to defeat them. One of the best Puppeteers still known today are 'Chiyo of the Sand'." A scowl appeared on her face as she said that name.

"You don't seem to like very much." Haku inquired.

"Hah, that's putting it lightly." Tsunade snorted. "The two of us have quite a bit of history. During the Second Shinobi World War she kept on inventing new poisons that killed many Konoha shinobi. I managed to create an antidote for each and every one of them but not before they claimed many lives. She's a crafty old witch and not one to take lightly. When it comes to Puppets and poisons she's without a doubt one of the best."

"Wow." Haku and Naruko said impressed. To hear Tsunade talk about someone like that couldn't only mean that they were strong.

The rest of the day went pretty quick and soon night had fallen and they stopped for the night. Haku and Naruko quickly gathered some supplies and made a camp while Tsunade sat down and read some documents. The trip wasn't simply to introduce herself as the future Hokage but also to share information and discuss the terms of the treaty that had been made after Suna's attack on Konoha. After the invasion, Sarutobi and the Fire Daimyo had discussed the terms of this treaty and after all these months, a revision was in order. Konoha had recovered from the damage and thus it was no longer necessary for Suna to keep paying for repairs.

Sarutobi had asked her to discuss the terms again with the leaders of Suna. She was a bit nervous about such a huge responsibility but her sensei was sure she would do great. He had no doubt that she would do what was best for the village. This meant strengthening the bonds with Suna as well, so she was hoping to give Suna some good conditions that would give them some advantage. For some reason she and Sarutobi had no doubt that there alliance would be greatly needed in the future.

When the girls returned she put away the documents and helped prepared some dinner. Over dinner the three kunoichi had a great time telling stories. Tsunade enjoyed telling stories about her time with Jiraiya and how she always used to kick his ass when they were younger. Naruko laughed as she could totally picture a younger Tsunade standing over a downed Jiraiya.

"What was Jiraiya-sama like when he was younger?" Haku asked curiously.

"Oh, don't get me started." Tsunade laughed. "I remember the first day I met him as it was yesterday."

"Do tell." Naruko grinned eager for some blackmail material.

"Well, I had just gotten news that I would be part of a team with two boys under the tutelage of Sarutobi Hiruzen." Tsunade started her tale. "You have to understand that in that time, Konoha was still pretty young and the Second Shinobi World War had only just ended. Sensei was appointed Hokage by my Grand-uncle Senju Tobirama and so I was greatly honored to be taught by such a strong shinobi."

"I just can't picture a younger ji-chan." Naruko giggled slightly.

"Oh, Sensei was a handsome man in his younger days. Many girls tried to catch his eye and get him to ask them on a date." Tsunade laughed at the two shocked faces. "Oh the stories I could tell you about those days until Biwako-sama managed to claim him but those are for another time. Back to my original story; when Sensei introduced me to the other members of our team, Jiraiya's first words were 'Nice to meet you, I'm Jiraiya. Don't worry, you can give me a love letter later'."

"That sounds so like him." Naruko roared with laughter.

"Of course, I kicked his ass for that one." Tsunade grinned. "He was a bit of an idiot and way too forward when it came to girls. He was brash, impulsive, loud and not at all that talented."

"But, Jiraiya-sama is one of the strongest shinobi in Konoha." Haku said shocked.

"True but even the strongest can start out as a total loser." Tsunade agreed. "Jiraiya wasn't a natural born genius but got where he is today with nothing but hard work and the strength to never give up. Throughout all our years together I have never seen him give up on anything. Not once have I heard him say he was not capable of doing something or would he concede his defeat. He become a magnificent shinobi thanks to all the blood, sweat and tears he shed during training."

"You admire him?" Naruko asked.

"Of course! Jiraiya is not only my teammate but he's also one of my closest friends and confidents." Tsunade said surprised that the girls didn't understand how much she cared for Jiraiya. "Don't get me wrong though, I have never been or will be interested in him romantically but I do love him. He was there for me when my brother and Dan died and I know I can count on him no matter what. "

'Jiraiya-kyoufuu is pretty amazing isn't he?" Naruko said proudly.

"When he's not being a pervert." Tsunade deadpanned. "He and Sensei used to go peeking on women in the hot springs together. Of course, Sensei was never caught but Jiraiya got more than his share of beatings by angry kunoichi."

"Did he ever peep on you?" Haku asked.

"Once." Tsunade grinned.

"Only once?" Naruko asked surprised. "With the way he adores you, I would think he would have tried to peep on you more often."

"Oh I'm sure he would love to but he knows what's good for him." Tsunade laughed. "The one time he tried, I caught him and distributed divine punishment. I broke several bones and ruptured a few organs. Suffice to say that when left the hospital after a month of intensive care, he had learned his lesson."

"Wow, you didn't go easy on him." Haku whistled.

"Hell no!" Tsunade exclaimed. "But all kidding aside, Jiraiya is a wonderful man. Dedicated to being a shinobi and protecting his loved ones, and that's why I admire and respect him. If all shinobi were like him then Konoha would be unbeatable."

"You Sannin sure are amazing." Naruko sighed. "It's a shame Orochimaru became such an evil person and caused so much harm."

"Orochimaru was not always the way he was now." Tsunade said softly. "Before he became the twisted man he is today, he was one of the most amazing shinobi I've ever met or seen. He was Sensei's prized student and I have no doubt that he could have been made Hokage, if it wasn't for his desire for power. When we were starting out as Genin, he was a quiet but kind boy, talented in everything he did. He was distant but he warmed up to Jiraiya and myself after a while."

"So what happened?" Haku wanted to know.

"Like so many of us, his parents were shinobi and pretty amazing ones at that." Tsunade told them. "You have to remember that the times were very different that what they are now. War had raged for years and tensions between the hidden villages was still high. It wasn't unusual for shinobi to be ambushed and killed just to weaken the opposing village. I don't know the details of what happened as we were still Genin at the time but one day, Konoha sent out Orochimaru's parents on a high profile mission that went south. Not one shinobi returned alive."

"So he lost his parents." Naruko nodded. "A terrible thing to happen to a young child."

"It was." Tsunade continued. "Orochimaru took it very hard and he become obsessed with power and immortality. He started to believe that strength equaled the number of Jutsu you knew and that his parents had died because they were weak. Starting that day, all he cared about was getting stronger, learning more Jutsu and how to live forever. He become cold and distant once more and no matter what Jiraiya or myself did, we couldn't get him to change. During the Third Shinobi World War he had become so cruel and viscous that nobody outside Jiraiya and me wanted to work with him. Once the war was done, we hardly saw or heard from him. I had left Konoha and Jiraiya was also traveling around but Orochimaru stayed in the village to do his experiments. Only after a few years did Sensei find out about it and took action."

"Ji-Chan said it broke his heart to see the young boy he had helped raise becoming such a twisted person." Naruko said as she recalled some of the stories the Sandaime had told her.

"Sensei was unable to kill Orochimaru and let him escape." Tsunade growled. "A terrible mistake that he regretted ever since but there's nothing we can do about that now. The young, innocent Orochimaru was long dead before that night but Sensei is a kind and generous man and he always tries to resolve things peacefully. Unfortunately, that's not always possible. It's a lesson you should remember, both of you."

"We will, Baa-chan." Naruko and Haku nodded.

"Good. Now let's get some sleep." Tsunade said. "I'll take the first watch, then Haku and then Naruko. I'll wake you up in a few hours."

"Goodnight, Tsunade-sama." Haku said crawling close to Naruko.

It didn't take too long before both girls were sleeping soundly and Tsunade smiled at them. She truly loved both girls and she would be forever grateful that she had met them when she did. Not only did they force her to make peace with her past but they gave her so much love in return. She promised herself that she would do anything to ensure that both of them would live rich and fulfilling lives together and she hoped that they would be spared from the pain she, and so many other shinobi, had endured in their life.

'I'll protect you two with my life.' Tsunade said planting a gentle kiss on the girl's foreheads.