A/N: This is an official ItaNaru, so I hope you enjoy it. Chapter Two coming soon to computers near you. Or in front of you, as the case may be.
Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto or anything associated with it, including ANBU. Damn.
"Naruto," he was told, "I have a new mission for you."
He asked what rank it was, in typical 'I want to get stronger' Naruto fashion, and was surprised by his lady Hokage's answer.
"It's not ranked, brat. The task I need you to accomplish is classified E:C-R/C according to ANBU regulations - in other words, it's a permanent mission. You're stuck with it until the objective is completed, but seeing as we don't know when exactly that is…"
The moment he heard the listed letters he paused and opened up his mental ANBU Classifications file, sifting through various letters and numbers until he had found the code she had given him.
Espionage: Contact - Repetitive/Confidential.
Translation: A Konoha operative has infiltrated an enemy group and Naruto was his contact - that is to say, the spy passed on all information to the village through the blonde.
Missions of this nature were risky - even more so than usual if it was unranked. That fact alone implied the mission difficulty was above S-rank and only senior ANBU could fulfill it, no exceptions.
It also brought to mind a delicate question that he promptly voiced.
"How long has the ninja been on assignment?"
This was a crucial query; it represented the chance of his death.
A contact operative was never unassigned from a mission - or 'fired', as civilians liked to put it - for doing a poor job or suffering an injury; the assignment was permanent until the disguised shinobi was successfully pulled out after mission completion. It was absolutely unheard of to not complete an espionage assignment, so Tsunade-baachan was insinuating that he'd be stuck with it until the end…or until he died in the line of duty. If this particular ANBU had been on assignment for any good length of time, Naruto needed to know if he was suspected of anything within his particular affiliation and exactly how many contact operatives from his end had been lost over the course of the mission. Hopefully it wasn't too many - less than two was optimal.
Tsunade was silent for a long while before she summoned up the courage to answer his question bluntly.
"This particular ninja has been on assignment for near eleven years, Naruto." He flinched in shock as she went on. "He has infiltrated the highest rungs of his association and is passing off caught contacts as hunter-nins from Konoha."
The jinchuuriki shivered. Eleven years?
"And…how many contacts have been caught?" No small amount of trepidation was visible in his voice.
Tsunade's silence did not bode well. Not well at all. his nerves were fried beyond belief and he hadn't even begun the mission.
No wonder it was unranked.
"Come on, Tsunade-baabaa! How many?"
She took a breath and delivered the statistics emotionlessly. "Naruto, every contact we have sent over the years has been high ANBU. Every single one has been killed without fail." Pausing, she sighed and looked her surrogate grandson straight in the eye. "All twenty-six of them."
Naruto gasped audibly. Twenty-six over eleven years? That was an operative lost every six months.
This had better be one hell of an important mission.
Steadying himself with a hand on the chair next to him, he slipped into Professional Naruto mode. "I'll need to know the operative's identifying features and the organization or village that he serves."
He was smart enough not to ask the name.
ANBU Rule Number Four: Remain nameless and emotionless to the best of your ability.
How he hated that. But as the captain of one of Espionage's best, he was required to follow the rules to the end.
Whoever it is, he must be pretty old if this is such a dangerous mission - they wouldn't have sent a rookie, or even a mid-ranker - and he's been active on that one assignment for this long.
Tsunade's voice broke through his thoughts. "The operative has long black hair and black eyes. He is twenty-four and should be around…hmmm…a little less than one hundred and thirty pounds. I believe he's about three or four inches taller than you. Unfortunately, I can't offer you're his affiliation right now, but it should be obvious enough once you meet him. He'll know who you are; you guys have met before."
Wow, Tsunade-baachan, that was very informative. Why don't you also tell me that he has two eyes and a nose? Geez. I know a billion people with black hair and eyes. Seriously, throw me a lifeline here, would you?
And twenty-four? What the hell? This guy sure is hardcore.
"When do I leave and where is the meeting place?"
The Hokage rubbed her hand over her eyes tiredly and continued briefing the captain. "The location would have to change every time were you to go to him, so he'll just come to you - you'll meet at the east end of the Great Naruto Bridge in the Land of Waves. I trust you know it? Good. I'll want that story later, by the way. Not right now since you leave tonight and need to pack."
Naruto sighed. "And how regularly is this going to be? Getting to the Land of Waves, even at top speed, will take three or four days."
"This will be every month, Naruto, until we pull him out - which, considering how quickly things are progressing, should be fairly soon; maybe three months at the most." The busty blonde had a happier air surrounding her now as she finally released some good news. "And remember, your confirmation code is 'Make-Out Violence' and his is 'Make-Out Tactics'. Jiraiya made the sound argument that nobody in their right mind would actually say that unless they were your contact."
The eighteen-year-old sighed again and gave his Hokage the standard ANBU salute before shunshining to his small apartment to pack.