AN: The newest opening theme for RMN comes curtisy of the video game Rune Factory: Tides of Destiny and is the opening song for the Aiden path in the story. Sorry, but don't know who the singer is.

Rave Master Naruto

Rave 61: Return of the Absent Wind


Todoke todoke, yami wo nukete, hikari sasu kimi no moto e

Reach reach, let the darkness leave, let the light enter you

Egao omotte ima mo ikite

A smiling face living now

Koukai ga nai you ni

Without regret

Doumawari shita ano basho kare

I lost weight in that place

Yume oikake naoshita mita

Runing again after a dream

Fuan datta

I was worried

Hitori datta

I was alone

Moshi kimi no egao ga nagereba

If your smile isn't there

Kitto ima mo koduka wa

surely the loneliness

Tsuzuite darou

will continue

Todoke todoke kimi wo nukete

Reach reach, You're leaving

Boku wo matsu kimi no moto e

And I will follow you

Tsuyoi kokoro to kireina me wo

With a beautiful strong heart

Kore kara mo mamoru kara ne

From now on, I will protect you

Shizune hummed a happy tune as she walked down the hall of the Hokage Mansion; a pile of work sheets held to her chest, and Tonton trotting merrily at her side. Why was she in such a good mood? Well, to be honest, she wasn't in a very good mood at all. It all started the night before with a date...

A date she got stood up for, seeing as the guy who had asked her out never showed.

And to make it worse, she saw him flirting with a girl with a much larger rack than her own as she was walking home, leading her to think for who now how many times now, that men were pigs and knowing that, why did she need them in her life?

Because not having one was to depressing she had come to figure. But despite the bad luck from the night before, she was doing her best to look her usual, happy self in order to keep Tsunade from putting her two cents into the matter. Kami knows Shizune had heard enough advice from her mentor to fill a dictionary.

Reaching the Hokage's office, Shizune shuffles the papers so she was holding them with one hand while using her free hand to knock on the door. "Lady Tsunade, are you inside?" There was no response. Had she not arrived yet? It was still rather early so it wasn't unusual for her to not be here yet.

Figuring she could get things started, Shizune opens the door and steps inside with Tonton right beside her. As soon as she closes the door and turns to the desk, she freezes and nearly drops the papers she was holding. For a moment, she just stares then lets out a sigh of exasperation. "I should have known."

Tsunade was already here, or rather it would be accurate to say she never left the night before. Before Shizune was her mentor, sleeping with her head resting on the desk with a bottle of sake in one hand and a ton of unfinished paperwork still on the desk. Obviously, she had decided to clock out early and have herself a little party with only herself in attendance.

Filling her lungs with as much air as she could, Shizune shouts out with all her might "IS THIS HOW A HOKAGE IS SUPPOSE TO ACT?"

Her loud yell wakes Tsunade with a start, making her shoot up with red eyes as she blinks, wondering where the fire was. She then sees Shizune looking at her then a hand goes to her head as she groans from the hangover she was now feeling inside her noggin'. "Not so loud, please" she begged.

"I worry about you sometimes" says Shizune, shaking her head. She then lays the new paperwork down in a chair and makes her way over to a small table with a coffee maker resting on it. "I'll make you something to help with the hangover, then I'll help you deal with the paperwork you have left unfinished since last night."

"You're an angel" says Tsunade, rubbing her temples with her fingers as Shizune begins brewing a needed cup of Joe.

Twenty minutes later, Tsunade sits back, finally feeling some relief as her head ache finally begins to ebb. "You can guess what my night was all about. What about you, Shizune? If memory serves, you had a date last night if I recall correctly."

She remembered THAT? Shizune was hoping her drunken state had made her forget so she wouldn't have to talk about it. "What's to tell other I doubt there will be anymore dates with that particular man."

"Struck out again, huh? Well, you win some and you lose some" says Tsunade.

"Always lose and never win in my case" says Shizune.

"You know, that reminds me of the dream I had the night before" says Tsunade, getting her attention. "It was a funny dream too. The village was located in the middle of a forest, but this forest was itself hidden inside a massive cavern with the only way in or out being concealed by a waterfall. And you were a mother, having just given birth to a daughter you named Yui."

This dream Tsunade was telling her she had experienced catches Shizune's attention. The idea that she was a mother in it filled her with a warmth she had always wanted to feel. And the name given to her daughter in it was the name she had always wanted to give if she ever had a daughter. "And the father?" she asked, curious.

The question makes Tsunade smirk evilly as she had been hoping Shizune would ask. "Jiraiya."

"MASTER JIRAIYA?" shrieks Shizune, finding the idea that she and him would ever be like that. "But he's a pervert and...well, he's old enough to be my father in a way."

"Doesn't matter as I think you both would look so cute together. And imagine, a little you running around with white hair would be absolutely adorable" says Tsunade before laughing as Shizune blushes from embarrassment.

Wanting to change the subject, Shizune quickly says "By the way, have you been to that new restaurant that recently opened up? The one that has all the best Chinese style dishes to eat. The food there is absolutely lovely I tell you. They even give you a fortune cookie along with your order."

"Can't say that I have though if you recommend it, then I'll have to make the time" says Tsunade.

"You really should. Oh, that reminds me" says Shizune as she digs into her pocket and pulls a fortune cookie out, placing it on the desk. "I was given two of them so I decided to share one with you."

"They actually gave you two?" wondered Tsunade and Shizune tells her about the girl who gave her the second one as she was leaving; a girl who then disappeared the moment Shizune's attention had shifted. All she had seen after that was some toad hopping away. "A toad, huh?" says Tsunade before taking the cookie in hand.

"Yeah, weird huh?" says Shizune, glad that Tsunade hadn't asked her what her own fortune cookie had said. 'You will find true love with an older man' had been the fortune and the last thing Shizune wanted was more of Tsunade pairing her up with Jiraiya, even if the idea wasn't quite that bad in her mind.

"I wonder?" says Tsunade before crushing the cookie with her hand, then opening her hand to see a crumpled piece of paper which she then reads. What was written on it makes her smile.

"What did it say?" asked Shizune.

Tsunade just grins as she turns her chair to allow herself to look outside the window. "Oh, nothing much. Just predicting that two of the Leaf's wayward sons would be coming home today is all..."

(outside the village)

"Man, it's gonna be so good to get back home again" says Naruto, taking a moment to stretch while continuing to walk forward as the main gate that led into the Hidden Leaf Village began to appear in the distance.

"Puun" agreed Plue who was trotting alongside him happily.

Jiraiya looks at them both and grins a little. Boy, the people in the village were in for a surprise this day, what with their unexpected return and all. And the changes Naruto had undergone would also be unexpected as well, though they weren't as big as he may have made it sound in his mind.

"It has been over two years since we last were here" says Jiraiya, his head turning back to look at the approaching gate. "Any ideas on what you want to do first?"

"Well, I would like to pay a visit to old man Ichiraku's place and stuff myself full with ramen for old times sake. Would make up for the last few years of eating what the toads consider food each and every day. But I know we need to report in with granny Tsunade first and I would like to see how my friends are doing too. And I need to go by the house and unpack, and I need to visit..."

"OK, OK, I get the message" says Jiraiya. "We both have a lot of things to do back in the village, to say nothing of resuming the search for the remaining two Rave Stones, am I right?"

"Yeah" agreed Naruto with a nod. "I wonder what they have decoded from the Codex since I left? They should have finished it by now, I hope."

By this point, they had reached the gate and they could see several civilians walking both in and out through the massive arch. Just past it, they saw the gate guards whom they checked in with and had to suppress a laugh at their looks on their faces when they had seen Naruto and realized it was, in fact, him. You would think they had never seen someone enter their older teen years before or something?

As they walked down the main street, their destination being the Hokage's Mansion, Naruto notices a water tower high atop a large building and decided to make a pit stop on it so he could get a better look at his home village. With chakra making his feet cling to the walls, Naruto runs up the side of the building with Plue, having senses his intentions, having hopped onto his shoulder to join him, and they make it atop the water tower and they look over the massive ninja village stretched out all around them.

"To everyone in the Hidden Leaf, RAVE MASTER NARUTO UZUMAKI IS BACK!"

"PUUN" cheered Plue in agreement, matching Naruto's loud proclamation to the world.

Down below, Jiraiya could only chuckle at the sight as he shakes his head. "Always rambunctious and so full of energy. Just like his mother, he'll never fully grow out of it."

"That isn't necessarily a bad thing, ya know" comes a sultry voice from behind him, making Jiraiya turn around to see a rather alluring beautiful woman looking at him with seductive eyes. "Hey there, handsome, wanna buy me a drink?"

Jiraiya begins to drool at the sight of her and the offer she had made, in the voice she had made it with, was making all sorts of ideas move through his perverted mind. This truly was a good day to return upon. "Sure, I'll buy you anything you want, my dear."

"Then follow me then, sailor" she says as she turns to walk away, stopping just long enough to look back and wink at him.

As Jiraiya goes to take a step, Naruto lands close to him and sees Jiraiya following after the woman; letting out an exasperated sigh. "Pervy sage, don't we have a meeting slash report to make?"

"We have all day for that, Naruto. Why don't you go see if any of your friends are around and catch up with them and we'll check in with Tsunade after lunch. Just don't be to late now" says Jiraiya before walking, almost floating, off after the alluring woman.

"I'm not the one in danger of being late" grumbles Naruto, getting a nod from Plue in agreement. Still though, no reason to not go do as he suggested. "So, where should we go to first, Plue?"

Before the carrot nosed dog could respond, Naruto hears someone call out his name; making him turn around to see three figures running towards him. "Hey, big brother Naruto. You're back."

"Is that...Konohamaru?" asked Naruto, looking at the boy who now was taller with a Genin headband around his forehead. The other two had to be Moegi and Udon he figured as they come to a stop before him. "Hey guys. You have all grown a bit since I last saw you."

"And we're full fledged ninja's now too" adds Moegi proudly, pointing to her forehead protector.

"Forget about us, Naruto. You're the one who's gotten bigger" points out Konohamaru.

It was true. Naruto was nearly a foot taller, now around 5'7 in height, dressed in black and orange while Eisen Meteor strapped to his back like always. And though they couldn't see his arms, the three genin figured Naruto had to be rather muscular now too.

"Well, these things do happen" said Naruto. "So, anything of interest happen while I was away?"

"Nothing major, but we did have some excitement" said Udon, then Konohamaru begins to fill Naruto in on all the stuff that happened over the last two and a half years. As he does this, none of them notice a shadow come over them from above; cast by a person who's eyes were locked firmly onto Naruto.

"So, you finally came back, you jerk" comes a female voice, sounding angry, which makes everyone look up as something shiny shoots outwards like a whip that Naruto just manages to dodge clear of, leaving it to crack hard against the ground. "You have some explaining to do."

"Then come down here and join us so we can talk this out...Tenten" says Naruto calmly, making the three genin blink as they couldn't see who was there above them as this person had the morning sun directly behind them, making seeing them difficult due to the glare of light behind them.

Tenten hops down, landing a few feet away from Naruto with a sour look on her face. She was now wearing red pants and a white long sleeve top, both having Silver threads sewn into the fabric likely for defensive purposes, Naruto figured. Around her neck was a new Silver item that looked like a merging of the Musica family crest and the Rave symbol.

"So, when were you planning on writing me, Naruto? Don't you think it would have been nice to hear something from you every now and then? You know, like a progress report or even something simple like 'I'm doing fine' every once and a while?"

"Sorry, Tenten. But Pervy sage kept me pretty busy these last two years, ya know. Besides, sending letters from a moving mountain that is hidden away can be pretty difficult. I wasn't able to send Hinata any letters do to not even having a mailing address for Mildian. Not even the toads know how to find it."

"Besides..." he then adds with a grin. "I don't recall you sending me any mail either so that leaves us on even footing, don't you think?"

Tenten glares at him, then sighs and says "Yeah yeah, I know all that." She then cracks a grin at him. "I just wanted to razz you a bit when I saw you again. Welcome home, Naruto."

"Yeah, it's good to be home" agreed Naruto. "By the way, you've certainly grown into a real woman, huh?"

"No more you into a man, it would seem" was Tenten's reply. "And now that you're back, I guess we'll be living together again, huh?"

"I guess so, unless granny has any different ideas for us" said Naruto. "Anyways, how has your training been going?"

"Training? Oh crap, we got to go" cried Konohamaru, remembering they were suppose to be at training ground 3 by now. "Sorry Naruto, we have to get going. "Moegi, Udon, we need to motor or Ebisu-sensei will kill us." That makes the other two pale as they all run off to meet up with their teacher.

"Let's walk and talk at the same time" suggested Tenten. "We can get you reported in with lady Tsunade and maybe run into the others as we go. Then we can go have some lunch or something."

Naruto nods as they begin walking towards the Hokage's Mansion, getting several villagers to look at them, wondering if that was really Naruto having returned to them or was Tenten actually on a date with someone? You know, things like that.

"So, how has your training been going?" asked Naruto.

"You first, whiskers" she said, giving him a playful nudge.

"Well, I've gotten a pretty good hang on using wind style jutsu. I've learned some interesting new fighting techniques from the toads along with other interesting skills and abilities. And my sword skills have improved a great deal as well. Beyond that, just basic improvements to what I already had."

Tenten wondered if one of these toad based skills had anything to do with super long tongue attacks? She'd have to ask him that later. "Well as for me? My Silver Claiming skills have improved and I dare say I'm better than uncle Ganny, though he still has the better experience which is to be expected. And my black smith skills are on par with dad's, though again his experience out paces my own. Other than that, I've improved my weapon handling skills as well."

Naruto nods, wondering if they would have time this afternoon to have themselves a nice little sparring session; see and show each other just how much they had both improved. "And how is the work on Silver Wings coming along?"

"Oh, that big bird thing?" said Tenten. "Well, her restoration is basically finished though uncle Ganny said it will be another few weeks to a month before she'll be ready for actual use. He's worried about a few odds and ends he's checking out right now. Personally though, I feel and think she already is ready for her maiden voyage and he's just worried about leaving me at the controls. You know that only us Silver Claimers can pilot her, don't you?"

"First I heard of that" admits Naruto as neither Tenzen nor Ganrio had said anything about that before he had left. But then, maybe they hadn't known about that detail beforehand either. And here he had wanted to fly the Silver Wings himself. Oh well, he can always dream about it. Now came the question he had really been wanting to ask her.

"So, have you heard anything from Hina..."

He doesn't finish as something big and heavy hits the ground a few yards before them. A giant, man wolf like creature dressed in dark, leather garments that quickly howls into the air before charging at them. Tenten goes to use her Silver, but Naruto stops her by raising his hand while his eyes stay locked on the incoming attacker. The man wolf creature brings a claw up, sending it swinging hard at his face.

And then stops the attack an inch from making contact. The creature then growls at Naruto who, despite the tense moment, remains calm. "Does your mom and sis know you've gotten into their Blood Moon pills again, Kiba?" he asked, a slight sound of amusement in his voice.

"WHAT? You mean I didn't scare you? Not even a tiny bit?" asked the werewolf, getting a no shake from Naruto. "Well ain't that just ducky" says the werewolf as his eyes glow for a moment, then he reverts to being fully human, revealing the face of Kiba which, to Naruto, hadn't changed all that much since he had last seen him. But he had grown taller though.

"Still, it's nice you still remember this form from our preliminary battle though" said Kiba. "Welcome back, Naruto."

"Good to be back" said Naruto as thy clasp hands together. "My question still remains though."

"Oh, right. Since I made Chunin, mom and sis both agreed I was ready for the Blood Moon power so they gave me my own supply of the stuff. Though I am only to use them in emergencies only. So, if you both would be so kind; don't say anything about this to them for me. They'll kill me if they found out I wasted a pill on a cheap trick seeing as these things are hard to make from what I am told."

"Our lips are sealed" said Tenten, knowing how scary Kiba's family could be.

Naruto nods, then it dawns on him what Kiba had said. "Wait, so you're a Chunin now too?"

"We all have made advancements since you left us, Naruto" came another, familiar sounding voice that makes them look over to the side, seeing a figure who was nearly covered from head to toe by a large hooded trench coat. "Did you think we'd stay genin forever?"

Naruto blinks, then says "Is that you, Shino?"

Shino walks forward and nods, then says "You knew it was Kiba despite him being in werewolf form yet you are unsure of me being me. That's a little unsettling that you can't recognize one friend over another."

"Well, in my defense, I've seen Kiba like that before, remember? You, on the other hand, would be harder to recognize as you are doing a pretty good job of hiding yourself beneath your clothes. Only your voice can actually give you away now to be honest."

"He's got you there, Shino" laughed Kiba. "Even I wouldn't be so sure you were you if we weren't teammates and all."

Shino doesn't respond which could either be a good thing or a bad one depending on how you look at it...and him which the latter was impossible seeing how covered he was, even his face was barely visible beneath the hood and the black, goggle like eye wear which had replaced his old sun glasses.

"So everyone has made chunin now?" asked Naruto who then looks at Tenten. "Even you have?"

"Naturally" said Tenten with pride in her voice. "Well, Hinata hasn't made chunin yet but that's for obvious reasons. But I think she'll be advanced upon her return. But the rest of us have all joined you as a chunin to the Hidden Leaf."

"Well, not all of us now" says Kiba.

Before Naruto could ask what he meant, a new voice breaks into the conversation. "Both Neji and myself have passed that title and have become full fledged Jonin ranked ninja." Naruto turns in the direction of the new voice, seeing Shikamaru walking up with a blonde haired girl following behind him Naruto recalled had been with the Hidden Sand Village, though her name escaped him now.

" actually made Jonin? And here I thought you'd be to laid back on even making Chunin, let alone go all the way to Jonin" admits Naruto.

"Well, I figured after everything that happened that I needed to play my part in this whole affair and doing that while remaining a genin would be foolish so I started putting more effort in which made both Asuma-sensei and mom happy. Dad, is just like me and felt it was troublesome."

"So, how are the Chunin Exam preparations going, Shikamaru?" asked Kiba.

"We're a little behind schedule but we should still be ready in the week we have left. Thanks to Temari here that is" said Shikamaru, taking a moment to look at the blonde haired kunoichi from the Sand.

"Like you wouldn't have figured something out to avoid a delay yourself, ya lazy bum" said Temari in her own usual dead pan tone, making Naruto think these two would make a good couple.

"So why is a Hidden Sand ninja here now anyways? If you don't mind my asking that is?" inquired Naruto curiously.

"I was sent at the request of lord Kazekage to act as the Sand's official emissary and help get the Chunin Exams set up" explained Temari. "It was also felt I could use the vacation time as well" she grumbled out quietly to herself.

"How's Gaara doing by the way?" asked Naruto.

"Gaara? Well, let's just say he's staying on top of things back home. He's become quite popular since you helped him find a new purpose in life to strive for. Thanks, by the way, for doing that" said Temari, figuring she'd leave out a certain detail for now as she knew it would make Naruto, whom she heard had dreams of becoming Hokage one day, jealous.

"I was happy to do it too and I'm happy to hear he's doing well" said Naruto.

"Anyways, we need to get going, Temari" says Shikamaru who had already started walking on, stopping only long enough to add "Good to see you again, Naruto. Once the Chunin Exam is over, we'll hang out and talk some more."

Naruto nods, then ask "Say, what about Ino and Choji? Are they doing OK?"

Shikamaru looks back at him and says "You can ask them yourself when they get back sometime tomorrow from the mission they're on with Asuma-sensei and Kurenai-sensei." And with that, Shikamaru and Temari headed off to where ever it was they were heading.

"Speaking of which..." comes Kiba, getting his attention again. "...we have to get going too. We're being sent on a mission with Neji and he's likely already at the gate now, waiting for us."

"Good luck out there then" says Tenten, while Naruto nods.

"Oh yeah, what about Sakura? Has she...did she ever wake up from her coma?" asked Naruto.

Kiba stops and is silent for a moment, then says "Yeah, she woke up a few weeks after you left, but..."

"I'll explain it to Naruto for you, Kiba. You guys need to hurry cause Neji isn't one for waiting around" comes Tenten, getting a nod from Kiba as he and Shino head on towards the gate. With them now gone, Naruto and Tenten continue their own walk towards the Hokage's mansion.

"So what's happened with Sakura?" asked Naruto, worried.

"Nothing major" says Tenten. "She just isn't an active ninja in the village no more is all. After what happened, she just sort of lost her drive and fell into a depression. She eventually got over it and has started working around in the hospital. I hear she's gunning to become a fully trained doctor. I know Kiba asked her to come back as a medical ninja but she said she couldn't. Not until the Sasuke situation had been resolved. Only then, when it was over, could she herself try to move on from that night. To be honest, Naruto, I think she's just scared of it all now. The ninja life and the Dark Bring I mean."

"I don't blame her, to be honest" said Naruto, clenching his fist at his side. Sasuke? He would find a way to save him from the Dark Bring that was controlling him. That Naruto swore to with all of his being. Tenten meanwhile reaches out and pats Plue on the head.

"And what about Lee?" asked Naruto.

"Still all dragonified and scaly though I think he likes it. He and Guy-sensei are on a mission now but I hear they'll be back tonight so expect Lee to come challenge you tomorrow as he has been wanting a proper fight, been talking about it a lot actually, for a good while and he says you are one of the few who can give it to him."

Naruto grins as they reach the main entrance of the mansion, saying "Then if its a fight he wants, I'll give him a fight he'll never forget..."

"Welcome home, Naruto" came Tsunade, happy to finally see him again. It had been a few minutes since they had arrived and Tsunade had wasted no time in making time for Naruto. "I see Jiraiya isn't with you..."

"I doubt I need to tell you the reason for that" says Naruto, giving er a knowing look.

Tsunade shakes her head, sighing in exasperation. "That man...what am I ever going to do with him?" After a moment, she pushes her annoyance aside and says "Well, never mind him for now. Go ahead and tell me how these last two and half years have been for you, training wise."

Over the next ten minutes, Naruto went over in careful detail all that he had done while being trained by Jiraiya and the toads. During his explanation, Tsunade got the feeling he was leaving something out; some sort of secret he was still hiding. But what she was hearing from him made it OK. She could and would learn about the rest in do course.

"And have you been able to tap into any more of lord Kurama's chakra yet?" asked Tsunade.

"Yeah, I can go up to five tails now easily and am close to mastering the sixth. He tells me that he'll grant me a special reward once I make it to mastering all nine but he refuses to tell me what the reward is though" says Naruto.

"Probably to entice you to progress as fast as possible" points out Shizune.

"That's what I'm thinking too" agreed Naruto. "By the way, have we heard anything from Hinata or Itachi lately? Like when they might be returning to the village? Like with Tenten here, getting or receiving messages from Hinata was rather impossible back over on Myoboku. I doubt she had an easier time sending anything from Mildian also."

"We get updates from Itachi every now and then" said Tsunade. "The last being from about three months ago, give or take a week. He said Hinata's training was nearly finished and they both hoped they would be returning to us soon. Take that how you will."

"So they could even be on their way back right now then or even just entering the village itself?" asked Tenten.

"Nothings impossible for magic users" said Shizune.

"But right now, you're probably wanting a mission, huh Naruto?"

Naruto grins at her and says "It crossed my mind. I mean, what better way to get back into the game than a mission, even if it would just be me and Tenten and Plue for it."

"You say that like it would be a bad thing" came Tenten, trying and failing to look like her feels were hurting from his remark. Naruto's response is to just look at her and stick his tongue out jokingly.

"Actually, we'll wait until tomorrow morning before giving you a mission. That way, we can send Lee with you seeing as I'm sure you have plans for him to become a full time member of the team and all."

Naruto looks at Tsunade and says "Well, he is Dragon Race and all and that alone makes him a Rave warrior so him being with us is kind of required."

"I figured as much. But like I said, we'll wait until tomorrow then. For now, do you feel up to a little test to see just how much you really did learn while you were gone? I mean it's one thing to say it in words but another to actually show it in combat?" asked Tsunade.

"I'm game" said Naruto, smacking a fist into an open palm. "But who would I be going up against? Pervy sage?"

"If it's OK, I'd like to volunteer myself for the job" comes a voice off to the side. They turn and find they had been joined by Kakashi at some point during the meeting. "So, will I do, Naruto?"

Naruto smiles at him and says "I couldn't choose a better opponent..."

(thirty minutes later-training ground 7)

Naruto and Kakashi silently stared each other down, the air filled with tension as everyone wondered who would be the first to make a move, though it was being assumed that it would be Naruto over Kakashi. Tenten was cheering loudly at Naruto, telling him he'd better not embarrass himself on his big return home trial and Plue, resting on her head, sucked on a lollipop as he had faith in Naruto.

"Boy, the waiting is nerve racking, huh?" asked Shizune.

"Not as bad as you make it sound" comes Jiraiya from behind her, making her 'eep' out in surprise, spinning around to see him give her a grin.

"Master Jiraiya, when...where?" stammered out Shizune.

"It wasn't hard to know what was going on as I had a little heads up" was Jiraiya's reply, taking a moment to look over at Tsunade. "And I just got here, on time from the looks of it."

"I'm still impressed you knew that woman was a clone I made transformed, Jiraiya" said Tsunade, referring to the woman whom Jiraiya had ditched Naruto for earlier.

"Well, considering how long we've known each other and have and the fact we're also former cell mates, I'd like to think I know you well enough to know when I'm in the presence of a transformed clone you've made."

Tsunade grins at him and says "You got a point there." She then returns her gaze to Naruto and Kakashi and ask "So, Naruto said he had some special training done. Can I assume he means you and the toads trained him in THAT technique then?"

That technique? What was Tsunade referring to wondered Shizune.

"It was necessary" replied Jiraiya. "At the time and even now, it was the only way he could wield that sword properly till he can further improve his physical strength. Besides, you never know when it will come in handy anyways as you can't count on Kurama's chakra to deal with all emergencies, right? Even Kurama himself agreed that it would be a good idea to do."

"Then so do I then" says Tsunade, leaving it at that. At that moment, the battle finally starts...

But it was Kakashi, not Naruto, who made the first move, much to everyone's surprise. He dashes forward, pulling a kunai out and readying it to strike. Naruto responds by pulling out a kunai of his own to defend with, but then is stopped as another Kakashi suddenly appears behind him, placing him into a strong hold that locks his arms in place while the incoming Kakashi, really a clone, stops with the kunai just an inch away from piercing Naruto's heart.

"Always be mindful of your surroundings, Naruto" says the real Kakashi into Naruto's ear. "I would have thought Kurenai or Jiraiya would have taught you that much?"

"Who says the didn't?" asked Naruto as Kakashi feels something press against his back. He glances back and sees another Naruto, the real Naruto, holding Eisen Meteor out with its tip pressed against Kakashi. It would seem they had both had the same idea. "Always be mindful of your surroundings, Kakashi-sensei" he adds, a smirk present on his face.

Kakashi smiles beneath the mask, saying "Not bad. I didn't even see you make a clone beforehand."

"Well, in fairness, neither did I with you. Guess it goes to show both how much I've grown and how far I still have to go" says Naruto, pulling Eisen Meteor back as his clone puffs out of existence as does Kakashi's who then steps back, making some breathing room for them both.

"Not as far as you might think" says Kakashi. "But enough tricks and game playing between us. Lets see what you can really do." And to show how serious he was about this, Kakashi uncovers his Sharingan to allow himself his maximum skills and abilities.

"Agreed" said Naruto before doing something unexpected. He plunges Eisen Meteor into the ground, then steps away from it enough to insure he couldn't take hold of it again quickly.

"Naruto, what are you doing?" yells out Tenten. "Won't you need..."

"Nah, I'll be fine" says Naruto while shaking his head. "Right now, this is a battle between ninja's and I have no need for the Ten Powers least, not yet. Besides, you don't bring in sword into a kunai fight anyways. It's not proper edicate after all."

"Then show me how you've grown as a ninja then" says Kakashi as he rapidly makes hand signs, then releases a large flurry of mini fire balls at Naruto. The others watch, wondering if Naruto would dodge them or if he had learned anything that would allow him to counter the attack while remaining stationary.

Naruto makes his own hand signs, then says "Wind Style; Cyclone Barrier" which makes a funnel of intense wind kick up, swirling around Naruto which easily deflect all of the fire balls away from him, leaving Naruto unsenged and injured from the attack.

"Not bad, Naruto. Wind style jutsu suits your style well. Now, lets try this on for size" says Kakashi, making another set of hand signs before releasing one super massive fireball at Naruto. "Don't think that wind barrier will save you this time."

Naruto knew it wouldn't, not something as big as the flame coming at him was. But this did provide him a chance to test a combination out he had been wanting to try. To everyone's amazement, Naruto rush's at the incoming fire while weaving a new set of hand signs, then suddenly he accelerates and slams into the flame, causing it to be blasted into nothingness from the power behind his action.

Knowing Kakashi and the others would want to know what he had just done, Naruto says "Wind style duo combination: Swift Sprint and Hurricane Charge. Pretty cool, huh? You should see me do that when I'm also holding Silfarion. Made pervy sage crap himself."

Tsunade glances at Jiraiya and sees the uncomfortable look on his face and wonders if Naruto was just joking about that or if he had really made Jiraiya ruin a pair of pants. She wisely decides not to ask as she rather not know to be honest.

"I bet" says Kakashi. "Well, it seems ninjutsu won't be an issue for you...or will it?" In that moment, Kakashi fires up his Lightning Blade, having already been preparing to us it next as Naruto had enacted the wind style combo. Without another seconds wait, he shoots forward like a bolt of lightning, wondering what Naruto would do to counter him this time.

But Naruto appeared to do nothing to stop the incoming attack. He just remained stationary as Kakashi rapidly approached him. Then, at the last moment, Naruto's left arm shot out and, to everyone's astonishment, caught the Lightning Blade with his open hand and held firm.

Kakashi was especially surprised, wondering how Naruto was doing this. As far as he knew, there was no wind style jutsu that could be used to accomplish this feet. But then his Sharingan eye saw the source of Naruto's success.

"A mini-Rasengan?" he said, looking at the marble sized chakra sphere that was acting as a buffer, protecting Naruto's hand from being pierced by the jutsu.

"Pretty impressive, huh?" asked Naruto, grinning. "While the Micro-Rasengan isn't useful in offensive attacks, it sure can be useful as a defensive measure surprisingly."

"So it would seem" agreed Kakashi as he cancels his lightning jutsu, then jumps back while weaving a new series of hand signs. "Water Style: Great Water King Dragon jutsu." The ground before Kakashi erupts as a massive beast made from the water flowing under them comes shooting out and roars before moving at Naruto with furious speed.

Naruto again breaks into a run at the new attack, much like he before with the fire ball, but his speed didn't increase like before as he smashes into the water dragon and, for a moment, appears to be consumed by it. Then the dragon explodes sending water flying outwards in all directions as Naruto races towards Kakashi...

With a Rasengan in hand that was twice as big as the normal one now held in his hand.

"Odama-Rasengan" he shouts as he thrust the attack at Kakashi who responds by jumping back while making a Shadow Clone of himself to take the attack, by him a second to land then jump clear to one side as the clone is absorbed into the massive spiral of energy that goes flying back, colliding and felling several trees before bursting and releasing powerful shock waves in all directions.

"That one, on the other hand, was made for an all out assault. Not bad, huh?" asked Naruto.

"Truly impressive, Naruto. Your mom and dad would be proud if they were still with us today" says Kakashi as he decides to do something he hadn't done in a very long time. Reaching up, he pulls a scroll from his jonin vest and opens it up, releasing the contents; a sword with a red and green colored blade.

"Kakashi's getting serious now" says Tsunade, recognizing the sword that Kakashi had called out. "That's a Leaf Anbu Fire Leaf Blade, only given to those select few who are made captains within the Anbu Black Ops...and forged by the skilled hands of the Musica family no less."

"My family made that, seriously?" asked Tenten. She then shouts out to Naruto "Be careful, Naruto. That's one of my families swords so don't think it will be a slouch of a weapon."

"I heard granny, I know" says Naruto, jumping back and finally taking hold of Eisen Meteor again. "We're having a sword battle now, huh?"

"Your final test from me" says Kakashi. "Show me your blade skills, Mr. Rave Master."

"Your on" agreed Naruto as they charge one another, their blades meeting in a flurry of sparks and flashing steel...

(twenty minutes later)

It had been several tense seconds since the last exchange of blows came between Naruto and Kakashi in a fight that had mainly involved blades smashing against one another, though some jutsu were thrown into the mix here and there, along with of the various Ten Powers forms, to keep things interesting and lively.

"OK, I think that's all for me" comes Kakashi suddenly, raising an hand up while lowering his blade.

"Ah, don't tell me you're giving up, Kakashi-sensei" asked Naruto who was clearly disappointed. After all, he was rather enjoying himself here.

"Not by choice, but I have neither your stamina and endurance...or your high chakra levels. And after all that we've just done, I'm afraid I've hit my limit" says Kakashi who mentally adds 'A lot sooner than I had expected to. Am I getting to old for this sort of thing?'

"Then how about we continue this another time then" suggested Naruto, understanding that he was in a class only Jinchuriki could occupy. Well, maybe Kage could too? Kakashi nods though remains silent.

They both then hear clapping and look to see it was coming from Tsunade who was walking towards them; a smile on her face. "That was an excellent display from the both of you, showing the skills one would expect from Leaf shinobi."

She then turns her attention to Naruto and adds "And I'm glad to see you've become so strong. It fills me with great confidence for the future, both on your duties as a ninja for the Leaf and as the Rave Master."

"Thanks for that, but I can't be letting praise of any kind effect my judgment as I know I still have a long way to go before I will reach Haru's level when he finished his mission" said Naruto, knowing he was still far from being ready in his own opinion.

"Be that as it may, I still feel you are ready for this" says Tsunade as she reveals a scroll and releases the contents within it. It was a new, dark green vest and a piece of paper. "Naruto Uzumaki, as Hokage of the Hidden Leaf, it is my personal pleasure to promote you to the rank of Jonin, effective immediately."

Naruto was stunned, as was Tenten. Jiraiya, Shizune, and Kakashi, on the other hand, simply smiled and clapped their hands as they had known this was coming. "I...I...thank you, granny Tsunade" said Naruto before taking both vest and paper into his hands. "I'll do my best to not fail your trust in me."

"I know you'll be fine, Naruto" said Tsunade, placing a hand on his shoulder. "In fact, I'm so sure about you'll be fine that I here by reactivate Team Rave, effective immediately, with you as the Jonin sensei and Tenten, Lee, and Hinata once she returns as your team. Also, you if need them, anyone else can be added for any particular mission should you so ask me and they are available."

Naruto was speechless for a moment as he hadn't expected to become a Jonin upon his return, to say nothing of becoming the Team leader to boot. "Thank you, Granny Tsunade. But what about Kurenai-sensei? Shouldn't we wait till she gets back before we decide this?"

"Who's idea do you think to make you the new leader was to begin with?" asked Tsunade. "Me and her had talked about this a while back and she said you would make a better leader than her once you made Jonin."

"Besides, Kurenai-sensei may not be able to remain an active ninja much longer anyways" adds Tenten, walking up to stand by Naruto.

"What do you mean by that?" asked Naruto.

"Well, she and Asuma-sensei have been getting rather close as of late and rumor has it that not only are they an item, but they may be planning on starting a family together or maybe they have already started on that front" says Tenten.

"Seriously? Well, good for them I say. Anyways, I guess I'll have to accept the position then" says Naruto as he puts the Jonin vest on, making his advancement official.

"Looks good on you, Naruto" says Jiraiya, feeling proud of his godson for what he had accomplished so far in his life.

Tsunade nods, then says "Come see me in the morning and I'll give your team its first mission, though don't expect anything fancy or important. It'll be something that is meant to get you guys back into the swing of things. And I'll tell Lee about his new position as well when he returns later tonight with you all."

"Understood" said Naruto, then realizing there was still a question he hadn't asked yet. "By the way, how is the translation work on the Rave Codex coming? After two and a half years, I would assume it has to be finished by now."

At being asked this, Tsunade gets a nervous look on her face. "Well, actually..."

"Shortly after you left, we got a request for our translation teams to help decipher some ruins that had recently been uncovered and seeing as you would be gone for a few years, Tsunade decided to put the translation on hold for a bit. Unfortunately, she forgot to get them back onto it after the fact as did the team itself" says Shizune, explaining the little set back herself.

"I only recalled recently and got them back to work on it. Sorry about that, Naruto" says Tsunade.

"Ah, no biggie. I was wanting to wait till Hinata got back and Silver Wings was ready for action anyways before setting out for the third Rave Stone. What's a little more time for that?"

"I'll be sure to have something for you by then, I swear it" says Tsunade. "Now, you and Tenten, and Plue too, should go out and have fun today while you still can. Cause tomorrow, you'll be getting back to work again." And with that, the oldies walk off to return to their duties, leaving Team Rave to go have some R&R time together.

"Sounds like a good idea to me" agreed Naruto, then he looks at Tenten and ask "So, any ideas?"

"Oh yeah, I have a few" she says, throwing him into a head lock and drawing him in close. "Let's go have us a drink to celebrate our teams restoration and your advancement to Jonin status. And Naruto..."

"You better not get drunk and embarrass me tonight?"

(well after dark)

"So, who was the embarrassment tonight?" asked Naruto, carrying a very very drunk Tenten on his back as she was so wasted she couldn't even walk.

"Oh, don't be a buzz kill. Live a little, Naruto" came Tenten, her words as slurred as her breath smelled of booze. Boy, was she going to regret this in the morning when she woke up with a hang over.

In fairness though, Naruto himself had had several drinks himself, at Tenten's forced suggestion. But unlike her, he had a friend inside who would insure he wasn't effected by the alcohol. One of the many advantages to being a Jinchuriki, he thought. Plue had taken two bottle himself and was resting on Naruto's head with rose colored cheeks.

"You know, Naruto. You're looking super sexy to me right now. What do you say we get to know each other in a more personal manner when we get back to the house?" said Tenten, pressing herself up against him as hard as she could. "I can fulfill all the perverted fantasies I know you must have being a boy and all."

"I'm sure you can" returned Naruto. "But lets wait until after you sober up before we do anything like that, OK?"

"If you say so" she says as she yawns. "Boy, is it just me or"

By the time they had arrived at the house Team Rave shared, Tenten was sound asleep and snoring up a storm to boot. Somehow, Naruto knew she would sleep all the way into the morning, then wake up cursing from the headache that would come due to her hang over.

And her being asleep was perfect as he wouldn't have to sneak out with the fear she would catch him doing so now. After all, he had someplace he needed to be. Once he was inside and had placed Tenten down in her bed, he places Plue right beside her.

"Keep an eye on her, buddy. I have someone I need to go see and I'm sure you remember what about."

Naruto then left the house and made his way back into the village. It didn't take long for him to reach his destination where he found someone standing before the front door, obviously waiting for him.

"We've been expecting you, Naruto" comes Ganrio, stepping forward and shaking hands with Naruto. "I trust your training time with Jiraiya was fruitful?"

Naruto nods, saying "More so than you can imagine. But we can talk about that later."

"Agreed" says Ganrio, turning back and opening the door, leading Naruto into the house. "Tenzen is waiting for us below."

As they walk towards the stairs, Naruto says "Tenten says Silver Wings is nearly finished, only needing a few adjustments before she'll be flight worthy. A few more weeks she thinks before we can use it."

"That's what I told her" came Ganrio. "Truth be told though, Silver Wings is ready now, but I want to make one final modification before letting her fly. The problem with Silver Wings is that she can only be piloted by a Silver Claimer. In this case, Tenten. But what if Tenten is unable to fly her in an emergency? That thought has made me decide to make a manual control like mode so anyone can fly her should the need arise."

"OK, makes sense. But why not tell Tenten that then?" asked Naruto.

"Because she gets a kick out of the belief that only she can pilot Silver Wings, besides myself and her dad of course. If she found out about this right now, she understand but would be bummed out and say that it was a waste of time; that nothing like that would ever happen. So, I figure it better to stay quiet on that for now" says Ganrio.

"Tenten also says her Silver Claiming skills and black smithing skills are second to none now with only experience standing in her way of surpassing you and her dad" notes Naruto.

"That she's right on the ball about" says Ganrio as they finally make it to the basement and make there way into the back most room, which was filled with shelves and old books and documents. "In fact, there's only two things she has left to learn from us older Musica."

"And that would be?" asked Naruto as Ganrio triggers one shelf to open up, revealing a hidden door behind it by pulling a book outwards. "Does she know about this?" he asked.

"No, she doesn't" comes Tenzen, appearing in the room from the hall behind them. Welcome back, Naruto. To answer one of your questions, look at the secret door and see if you can notice what makes it different."

Naruto does as told and sees it quickly. "The locks...they aren't Silver. Gold locks?"

"Good eye" says Ganrio.

"Yes, that is our families biggest secret; one Tenten hasn't been made aware of yet. A few generations after Hamrio, the family made the decision to grow stronger and master Gold Claiming which we did. Now every Musica, once they turn eighteen, are told and trained in Gold Claiming to truly master the skill called Claimer. But that's not why you're here though" explained Tenzen before stepping forward and releasing the Gold locks, allowing the door to open.

"Welcome to my secret forge, Naruto" says Tenzen, stepping into the room beyond. "In here, our family forges our masterpieces and this is were I forged them that you asked for as well."

Naruto enters the room with Ganrio following him and he sees five golden containers sitting on a large table with a massive forge beyond them. This room was unlike anything he had seen before, clearly more advanced than what he had seen elsewhere in their home.

"So..." asked Tenzen as he makes a motion with his hands, making the golden lids on each container pop off. "...will they do? Are they good enough?"

Naruto walks forward and looks into the five golden containers. He whistles and says "Oh yeah, these will do very well. Even better than I could have imagined they'd be."

"I'll need both Eisen Meteor and the Rave for the bonding and encoding process. But would you need me to give you the four one one on these items before we begin? And would you like to try them out before hand also?" asked Tenzen.

"I don't need any practice time as the encoding process will insure I know what I need to when the time comes" says Naruto as he places his sword on the table and the Rave beside it. "But a little quick tip on them won't hurt matters either."

"Then I'll explain how they work as I work on the bonding process then" says Tenzen as he picks up the Rave and begins the work...

(the next morning)

"Here" said Tsunade, handing a drink over to Tenten, who looked like crap due to her hangover. "This should clear your head...mostly..."

Tenten grabs the cup and chugs it down with one or two big gulps. She then wipes the excess from off her lips and chin and says "Thanks; I'm feeling better already."

"Tenten, I thought you had sworn off drinking after your uncle gave you some to experience on your sixteenth birthday?" asked Lee, standing opposite her with Naruto and Plue in between them.

"I forgot the after effects. So sue me" grumbled Tenten, not wanting to be reminded of anything right now, especially that night. She just hoped Naruto wouldn't ask as it was rather embarrassing to her.

Naruto wanted to ask, but something in him told him he'd be better off letting it go. Instead, he looks at Lee who had arrived a few moments after they had and says "So you're still sporting the scales look, huh? I would have thought you'd have gone for the Trial by now."

"I have been thinking about that for sometime to be honest" admits Lee. "But there are two ways for me to go about it. One, I could find a Dragon Shrine and do it there with my restored human appearance assured. But this would leave me with less than full power when compared to if I try to undergo the Trial without the shrine's aid. I would gain maximum power should I succeed, but failure results in my becoming a pure dragon with nothing remaining of my consciousness."

"Boy, tough call to make there, huh?" said Naruto, secretly glad he didn't have to make such a choice.

"So, are any of you wanting to be given a mission today or not?" asked Tsunade, getting their attentions back onto her with sheepish looks on their faces. "Now, what you'll be doing is..."

Before she could finish, the door burst open and a Chunin comes running in. "Sorry for the interruption, lady Hokage. But we've just received a message from the Sand Village. They've been attacked..."

Next time on Rave Master Naruto: On a cool, desert night, they came. Their target was the newly elected Kazekage who was also the Sand Village's Jinchuriki; Gaara. Now, Team Rave will have a dozy of a first mission, to save Gaara before it is to late. Be here next time for...

Into the Sand

AN: Well, here we are at last, the second half of RMN has officially begun and I know my readers have been waiting for this all summer. Sorry for the delay, will talk about that below, but I hope chpt.61 was worth the wait, as well as the mysteries that have been introduced here. I decided to start off with my version of the Gaara Rescue arc as I felt it would be a good way to kick things off though there will be differences between this and the manga original version of the arc. After this arc though, things will start to break away from the manga storyline and move into original work (like the fact Hidan and Kakuzu are already dead and all.

Now for the reason why this wasn't released sooner.

As anyone who's been reading my Kingdom Hearts based fan fic, Realm Hearts, knows; I have been suffering some major set backs in my life as of late. In short, I lost my job I had for thirteen years back in April. I spent four months looking before I finally got a new job, which started the day after Labor Day. I lost my home and had to move in with my brother (temporarily, I assure you). I developed a weird and lareg hematoma (basically a uber bruise) on both legs which added several medical bills on top of the bills I already had to pay. My legs eventually recovered on their own without the doctors doing anything to help though I still have to pay them for the visits. And I did get the old bills paid off, leaving me with just the medical bills left, though I have enough to get one paid off now luckily with two more to go (that I currently know of seeing as they may throw in extra fees just to keep me paying them for doing nothing helpful).

Sadly though, this comes after my new job; which was working in the Scholastic's factory packing books into boxes by the way, came to an end. I was a seasonal employee but they fired me because I wasn't working fast enough for them. Considering my speed issue was caused by my leg issues which was caused by working in their factory, me being fired by them is a major slap in the face as far as I'm concerned, especially seeing as the seasonal work was luckily go to end before Christmas anyways. I thought about suing them but it just isn't worth it. Suffice to say, I have been putting in new job applications across town, though I fear I may go another four months or longer before I'm back to work again.

And that scares me as living with my brother and his family is a nightmare; barely eating anything each day has led to to become rather thin when compared to by orignal pudgy appearance. Though being here has taught me several valuable lessons that I will be taking into my life once I get moved out and back to living my life again (right now, I'm just existing, not living in my opinion). And I was wanting to lose weight, just not in this manner though.

Anyways, I may have a new job or two coming my way (I'll know for sure about one of them tomorrow, Thursday) and I'll let you guys know how it pans out in chapter 62.

Till next time, wish me luck...