Okay, I'm not gonna lie. Its getting really hard to write this stuff down. Especially since this is my first fanfic and that I lack the will power to transfer the stuff from my brain and into the computer. Now I know how Mark Twain felt when he took a two year break from writing "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn."
Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto or any stuff belonging to Mark Twain.
Inspiration: A review from a certain someone... and this crazy dream i had a a week before updating the last chapter.
"Hinata! Hinata!" The whimpering girl shivered beneath Sakura as she shook her sleeping form. Sleeping wasn't the right word to describe her at this moment, more like a shaking leaf during a violent storm. Cold sweat ran down Hinata's forehead as she jolted into a sitting position, fully awake.
"Hinata, what's the matter?" Sakura's worried eyes bore into the pale opal of the priestess.
"You were moaning and thrashing about in your sleeping bag," Naruto's voice answered. Hinata didn't even notice him there until he spoke up. He too wore an expression of concern.
Even Konohamaru was beside Sakura. A devilish grin stretched across his mouth, lasting only a brief moment while he voiced, "Yeah, at first, I thought you were having one of those wet dreams until your eyes scrunched up and you began to mutter something about falling." Naruto threw a furious look at the boy and flicked his nose. "Ouch!"
"Are you okay?" Sakura put a comforting hand on Hinata's shoulder.
Her eyes were downcast and she relaxed her fingers. Her grip on the blankets must have been extremely tight because they proceeded to ache as soon as she let go. "I… I had a bad dream."
"Naw," Konohamaru snickered in a daring way. "I could have sworn all that thrashing around was a fantasy about your wedding night- OUCH!" Naruto flicked him again, this time with a little chakra.
Sakura's gaze was still fixed on her. "Do you want to talk about it? That always makes you feel better."
"…No… not yet…"
Sakura was skeptical for a minute, but relented. "Okay."
After breakfast, the group was on the road again. The rain had finally stopped to allow some sunshine, the promise of spring glorifying the dirt road. Since everyone allowed Konohamaru to tag along, he rode with Naruto. Serah didn't appreciate the extra weight of another rider, especially a loud one, but continued onward because Naruto would frequently pat her neck. However, the mare would steer straight into every pothole.
"Gyuh." Konohamaru blanched.
Naruto turned around. "What's wrong?"
"I forgot I don't do well with horses."
"Tough, man… unless you want to walk… Pothole!"
"Hey, don't be throwing up back there!"
Konohamru started turning green. "I'll try. I knew I shouldn't have had seconds. Bleh."
Sakura giggled while Hinata seemed oblivious to the scene. She stared at the space between her horse's ears, contemplating her dream. Was it just a nightmare, or another vision?
Hinata was holding onto a rope, dangling above what seemed like her death. A mass of blue bubbled and splashed hundreds of feet below her. At the bottom, a figure waited for her. What was it? A shark? A demon? A jagged rock?
She knew that if she let go of the rope, she'd fall right on top of that figure. She could feel it coaxing her down from the rope. It scared her. Was that death? She looked up to see where the rope would take her if she simply climbed. At the top of the ladder stood a familiar face: Queen Tsunade. Her lips pursed as if Hinata was going through critical examination. The blonde woman's usually honey colored eyes blazed fiercely at her, then at the ocean of blue below, then at the rope, and then back at Hinata. "Choose wisely," she barked.
What? What was she supposed to choose from? Life or death? Um… Life! Hinata slowly pulled herself another inch up the rope. She felt a tug from the bottom of the rope. Looking back down, she couldn't see anything. Was that figure trying to pull her down? Suddenly, she couldn't move. Try as she might, her muscles seemed glued together. NO! She tried to call out to her queen for help, but it was no use. Her throat shrank back into her chest. She tried to scream, but nothing came out. Panic settled in as she held onto the rope, hovering over the deep blue abyss. Another tug on the rope…
"Yo, Hinata," Naruto's voice interrupted her thoughts.
"…Hmm? Sorry, I was… out of it," She apologized softly.
"Are you okay?" Concerned laced through his blue eyes.
How many times had she heard that question today? Too many times. "I'm fine," she repeated again.
Naruto smiled at her and then pointed up the road. "We're here!" About a mile down the road laid solid white rock. Two enormous wooden doors were propped open, each painted with some kanji letters that were indistinguishable from this distance. Despite the muddy slush that hindered their means of travel, Konoha's gates were grand and inviting.
Two men guarded the gates and silently looked the party over as they rode through. Now came the hard part of their journey, finding Jiraiya. Naruto had explained to everyone that he owned a few apartments throughout the village, but he also tended to spend his time on the outskirts of the city.
The sun had finally peaked through the clouds, allowing Sakura, Naruto, and Hinata to tear off their hoods and bathe in the warmth, though the winter sunlight was haggard compared to the summer's radiance. Sasuke refused to take his off despite the weather's invitation though no one seemed to care. Naruto chuckled since only he knew the true reason why Sasuke became tense. They found a humble looking stable for the horses and gave a gracious tip to the stable hand.
Konohamaru was relieved to be free of the saddle. "Man, I don't know how you guys stand riding horses. My legs feel- whoah!" His knees buckled underneath him and he crashed into Naruto. Luckily, Naruto expected this and was ready to catch his old friend. "Thanks, Naruto. OWIE!"
"What's wrong?" Sakura rounded on the boy, green eyes scanning his body for any injuries.
"Butt cramp! Ooohhh! Owie! How are you guys not like this?" he gestured to his legs and location of his pain. "Don't your butts hurt, too?"
Sakura rolled her eyes and replied, "You'll get used to it."
"Humph, no thanks. I'd rather not ride that thing again. Stupid saddle."
Naruto laughed and helped him to his feet. Feeling hungry, the group found themselves in a ravenousness predicament. Several arguments soon followed regarding their next location; should they eat now or look for Jiraiya first, what kind of food did their appetites crave, is a restaurant better to fill their empty bellies or would a simple and fast food stall suffice, and which is the best? Eventually Naruto won out the battle. The party ate at a simple ramen shop with soup that rivaled even the finest restaurants.
"I want to help you guys," Konohamaru announced.
Naruto set down his chopsticks and wiped his mouth while Sasuke paid for their food. "Why?"
"Because that's just what comes from the goodness of my heart. Besides, why shouldn't I lend a hand to an old friend."
"Konohamaru, do you even know where we are going?"
"Uhh…. around town?"
"Not exactly. We need to check out all of Jiraiya's favorite spots in Konoha, including the outskirts, the springs, and his apartments."
"COOL! I'm soooo tagging along!" The kid pumped his fists into the air, flashing a brilliant yet devious smile.
"No, you're not."
"What? Why not?"
"Because you're still a kid."
"So are you!"
"I'm sixteen and you're twelve."
"That's only four years! And what's so bad about being a kid?"
"If you're mom ever caught me showing you into a hot spring without any adult supervison-"
"Well, your sixteen aren't you?"
Naruto faltered. Konohamaru was a tough and stubborn kid, much like Naruto himself. Though, even he didn't want to deal with himself in a situation like this. The genin even turned the tables around on him. He had to explain to his friend that mentally, the difference is much bigger than their ages. Konohamaru shouldn't be in a situation like this. A hot spring is no place for a kid unless it's empty. Of course, the hot springs are never empty in the winter time. He ran a hand through his blonde hair and closed his eyes, frustrated. An idea came to him like someone turning on a light bulb. It was desperate, but it should do the job.
"Hey, if you don't bug off, I'm going to tell Moegi that you like her."
"Wha…" Fear had spread throughout his eyes. Red pigment crawled from the back of his neck and seeped into his cheeks. His mouth was paralyzed and hung open in shock.
Sakura twitted about, a snicker on her lips. "Aww, do you dream of her?"
"Is she the one?" Hinata giggled. Sasuke nearly cringed. This was one of the reasons why he preferred to stay quiet and pretend like he never listens. The method was foolproof for avoiding questions like these unless Kakashi was drunk.
"NO!" The genin's temperature was spiking and sweat beads started to accumulate on his forehead.
Naruto looked like the cat who had gotten the cream. "Well, do we have an understanding?" In a puff of smoke, Konohamaru was gone. "HAHA! NARUTO UZUMAKI WINS AGAIN! BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!"
"That was cute," Sakura mused.
"That was rudimentary," Sasuke muttered.
"I'm sorry, did you actually want him around where we are going?" Naruto waved his chopsticks in the air and set them back down. The party began to leave the ramen shop and walked about the street.
"I just thought you would come up with something better." A breeze knocked the prince's hood off, allowing his black hair to billow in the wind.
Suddenly, a cry ripped throughout the streets. One became two, two became five, and five became a crowd. Girls burst open their bedroom windows and poured into the street, heading straight for the group. "SASUKE! PRINCE SASUKE IS BACK!" They yelped and squealed to one another, their legs eating up the ground under their lavish kimonos.
"Aw shit," both boys moaned.
Naruto signaled to Sasuke, "The usual spot?"
"Hn," and the prince took off, bounding across the street. Naruto took Sakura and Hinata's arms, leaping onto the rooftops and leading them away from the love stricken girls. The crowd paid no attention to the trio. They had eyes only for Sasuke.
"So that's why he didn't take his hood off," Sakura stated calmly, though her fists weren't as calm.
Grinning like the lucky cat again, Naruto patted her shoulder. "Jealous? You're man's the eye candy for every girl in Konoha and they'll stop at nothing to take him from you."
Sakura glared at him from the corner of her eyes. "Just give me two minutes…"
Hinata rolled her eyes. "They don't know about you Sakura. Besides, most of their reason for this pursuit is simply because Sasuke's a prince."
"Crown prince, to be exact," Naruto corrected and mumbled, "Lucky bastard." A pair of arms wrapped themselves around the blonde. She didn't say anything, but a hug from Hinata was enough to soothe Naruto. "Come on."
They made their way over to an alley where Naruto explained that this was the place where he and Sasuke, as little kids, used to hide whenever the screaming females tried to chase them, or rather, just Sasuke. Usually, after the crowd dispersed, he and the Uchiha would climb the walls in order to jump from roof to roof and then play tag on the roofs. Scarcely, Sasuke would be spotted again. People just didn't look up in order to find a kid.
After about an hour of the trio discussing their mission (to locate and extract help from the toad sage), the dark prince eventually showed up with his hood replaced. "Temme, what took you so long?"
"They had sentries on every corner this time," Sasuke replied. He turned to Sakura, "How long was I gone?"
"An hour!" Sakura moaned. "Should I kick their butts next time? After all, you are off the market."
Sasuke smirked at this and was about to pull her into a kiss when Naruto interrupted, "Oi, we have a mission here! If you don't want to allow a war between our countries then I suggest we keep to this mission." Sakura smacked the back of his head. "Anyway, we should split up. That's the fastest way to track Jiraiya down. He tends to stay in one place for quite a while, especially if he's," Naruto held up air quotes, "'researching' for his next book."
"What does he study?" Hinata asked.
Naruto stuttered, "Uh, well, he's a pervert. He just spies on women for his porn novels."
Sakura cringed, "That's… strange."
"Yeah, that's why I call him Pervy Sage."
"Wait," Sakura said. "Before we left, you said that you knew exactly where Jiraiya-sama is. You said he was at the hot springs."
Naruto sighed. "Yeah, but I forgot that there was more than one hot spring here." He shook his head as if to clear his head in order to make room for a new topic. "So here's my plan. You two," he gestured at Sasuke and Sakura, "Will check the outer edges of Konoha and the hot springs in the southern sector of the village. Hinata and I will check the northern sector while I send some clones to the east and west."
"Got it," Sasuke replied.
"Hey kids!" A voice rumbled from behind. It was Jiraiya stepping into the alley.
"What are you guys doing?"
Naruto faltered. "What are we doing?" he repeated. "I had this master plan that I had been thinking about since we got halfway here in order to find you, and you have the gall to simply show up and prove my plan to be meaningless? Go hide in one of your holes so I can carry out this epic plan and find you again!"
"Hahaha!" his laughter boomed. "Life isn't fair, is it?"
Sasuke acted with a counter. "How did you find us, Jiraiya- sama?"
The said sanin raised an eyebrow and chuckled, "It's not that hard to find you when hundreds of girls scream your name." Sakura grew irritated and her facial expression showed it. Jiraiya was light when he said, "If it bothers you that much, then maybe you should start making your relationship public."
Sasuke scoffed. "It's none of the public's business."
"Oh yes it is, Your Highness."
Changing the subject, Jiraiya invited them to dinner, his treat of course. So, they set out again, but not without stopping by the Uchiha palace of Konoha to freshen up. Everyone needed a good bath, especially since they had traveled so long on horseback.
They requested a private room at the restaurant in case someone recognized Sasuke again. On the way, Sakura gripped Sasuke's hand tightly, watching the streets for any suspicious girls. Amused by her jealousy and strong sense of possession, Sasuke whispered in her ear, "You're getting to be very entertaining, Sakura."
"Well if you hadn't noticed, I am royalty like you." The princess scanned the streets again before declaring, "I am the jealous type."
The prince kissed her hair. "Don't worry, I'm not going anywhere."
As if on cue, a man who was crossing the street began eyeing Sakura. He smiled at her and winked. He was hitting on her. Sasuke snarled at him and angled Sakura away from his eyes. The princess laughed. "It seems you are the jealous type too."
"I'm royalty; I have a right to be possessive." He kissed her affectionately again, glad that they were the ones picking up the rear of the party. Jiraiya and Naruto were talking excitedly and Hinata politely laughed at their sharing of jokes, clutching Naruto.
In the middle of their meal, Jiraiya excused himself to go to the bathroom. The blonde ninja choose this opportunity to give Sasuke a hard time about the incident he and Hinata caught the royals inside Sasuke's bedroom.
"Ha-ha! Temme, you should have seen your face when we caught you guys! You were so red!" Naruto laughed through his rice.
Sakura rolled her eyes, "Well, we weren't doing any of that stuff."
"What stuff?" Jiraiya asked, coming back from his bathroom break. "And why was Sasuke so red? In fact, Sasuke, you're starting to have a bit of pink in your cheeks. So do you, Sakura."
The two said teens stared at their rice. "Nothing," was their only reply.
Jiraiya seemed to be able to put two and two together and chuckled loudly. After taking a swig of his sake, he sighed. "I remember my first love. It was way back when I was about fifteen years old. Now, what was her name? Hmmm."
"She must have been really pretty," Hinata piped.
"Oh, yes. Even now in her fifties, she takes a potion to maintain that beauty of hers. And boy did she have the biggest, roundest…"
"Okay, I think we got the point, Pervy Sage," Naruto interrupted.
"Anyway, her name was Tsunade. A long time ago, she left Konoha to start another village, but I haven't heard from her since."
Silence followed. Each and every teen was staring, eyes wide open, at the white haired man.
"What?" He asked, confused of his predicament.
Sakura spoke up. "That's the name of our queen. And yes, she does take a potion for cosmetics."
"Long, blonde hair?" Jiraiya rubbed his chin.
"Has a diamond on her forehead for a jutsu?"
"It's a small world after all!"
Sakura perked up, "Actually, we have a favor to ask of you, Jiraiya-sama."
"Hmm? And what would that be?"
"Well," Sakura licked her lips and put on a more professional air about her. "Tsunade-sama thinks that Sasuke's the enemy. Some of our spies reported seeing Kabuto and Orochimaru in the area and she got the wrong impression."
"Ah, if I know Tsunade, it's hard to change her mind once she makes a decision."
"Yes, indeed," Hinata agreed.
Sasuke spoke up next. "I've tried sending some ambassadors over to her, but she chased them out. I even tried coming myself-"
"ME TOO!" Naruto interrupted, but the prince continued.
"But the queen refuses to even let me step a foot into her territory."
The white-haired sanin rose an eyebrow, "Wow, I'm impressed that you bothered to go yourself, Sasuke." He turned his attention back to Sakura. "But what do I need to do? I haven't seen Tsunade in years."
"Just talk to her. You were old friends before she left Konoha."
Jiraiya scratched the back of his head, "Yes, but… Again, I haven't seen nor heard from her in years. I don't know how she'll react to me." Silence filled the room and the tension rose. Finally, he agreed. "Alright, I'll see what I can do. After all, there may be war if I don't help out."
So how was it? Tell me! Tell me! Tell me! I love reviews! But they also make me feel guilty when i haven't updated in a while. ha-ha!
Please comment and review!