Hello, my friends in fan fiction land! I know it's been a long time, and I am truly sorry, but it can't be helped. Business has taken over my life, and I have precious little time to write, though my stories are on my mind constantly. I hope you can find it in your hearts to forgive me!

This chapter is annoyingly short, but I know many of you are curious as to where I'm going to take things now that the first part is obviously over. Well, this is an explanation of the basis for the rest of the story, so I hope it will keep your interest. If not, you can walk away knowing that you have completed the first part, and that at least that section had a happy ending.

I hope it won't be so long before I can finish the next installment, but I really can't say for sure. I'm hoping to crank out another chapter of "Dichotomy" this week, as well. Thanks for your continued support of my writing, and hope you all are enjoying the last bits of summer that we have left!

Hinata and Naruto walked into the Hokage's office, hands together and totally lost in each other. Their plans of marriage the only thing on their minds, they almost forgot where they had been going.

"Naruto, close the door and sit down," the Godaime ordered flatly. Naruto did as instructed, noticing that no one else, not even Shizune was in the office with them. This somewhat concerned him, as it meant high-level secrecy was in the works, which therefore meant something dire and dangerous.

"First of all, congratulations on your engagement," she smiled warmly. Before Naruto could yell at her for the ruined surprise, she answered, "Yes, I know all about it. The huge ring on Hinata's finger would clue in a blind man." She winked at the young woman, trying to lighten the mood before she dropped the hammer. She then folded her fingers under her chin, and rested her weary head upon them.

"Naruto, gaki," she sighed, "there's something I need to tell you that I've had to wait until now to speak to you about. It's something that is going to upset you very much, you're going to blow your top, honestly. You're also going to be extremely angry with me, yet again, and I accept that. It can't be helped, though, it's the way I needed to handle this, so please, try to understand my position before you let loose."

Naruto was as tense as a piano wire by this time. He flexed his jaw, and his blue eyes set upon hers as a cat's would on a wounded bird. Hinata finally broke the silence. "Please, go on, Tsunade-sama." She put her hand on Naruto's arm, ready to steady him when he lost his temper.

Tsunade let loose another heavy breath, closing her eyes to speak. "We have gotten word from one of our ANBU trackers working in the distant lands across the ocean to the east. Someone we have been tracking for many months has finally surfaced in a European country called France. That someone, well...that person is Kabuto."

No matter how much he had told himself to hang on and be cool, whatever the news, Naruto couldn't keep himself sane with the mention of the one man he loathed more than anyone. His eyes lost their focus, the rage building within him as the realization of Tsunade's betrayal hit him like a speeding train.

"YOU!" he bellowed. "You allowed me to think he was dead, that the ANBU unit who rescued us had killed him! You lied to me with a straight face for months, all the while that fucking snake bastard has been breathing air and walking around? You BITCH! I ought to gut you like the drunken pig you are for keeping this from us!"

He stood suddenly as he spoke, and immediately five ANBU members surrounded him, ready to kill him for threatening the Hokage. Hinata quickly stood next to him, throwing her arms around him and holding him tight.

"Naruto, honey, stop this now," she begged. "You just openly threatened the Hokage. They can execute you for this. Sweetie, just let her finish. Please, sit with me. I-I'm scared."

And truly, she was. She knew if the ANBU squad had landed in the midst of them, that their next action would be quick and deadly. They had every right to kill the both of them where they stood. Naruto had just committed treason, and it would be justified. She pulled at his arm desperately, trying to urge him back down into his seat. He gritted his teeth and finally sat harshly on the chair beneath him. Hinata slumped into her own chair, finally releasing the breath she had been holding.

"Very good, Hinata," the Hokage praised. "You'll make an excellent wife for him. You're probably the only person who can talk him down like that."

"Thank you, Hokage-sama," Hinata mumbled, looking down at the tiles on the floor. She was upset at both Naruto and the Hokage and still frightened over what was happening.

"Stop the small talk, dammit! So, you've admitted that you've lied to us about Kabuto being alive all this time, so you must have a point. Spit it out, you old hag, you're boring me," Naruto spat at Tsunade. His hands were white-knuckled on the arms of the chair.

"You insolent, snotty shit! Who do you think you're talking to?" Tsunade growled, gripping her desk. "Look, I had my reasons for keeping this from you until now. I'm too pissed off to get into why, I don't think you deserve to know right now. I have a mission for you, S-ranked and totally top-secret. It has everything to do with Kabuto, but I'm about to give it to someone else, since you're acting like a three-year-old who needs his ass paddled."

"Ha, when I was three, villagers were breaking my ribs and fingers for sport. Shove that ass-paddling bullshit up someone else's hole who's scared of it." Naruto couldn't hide his contempt, though the details of the mission had peaked his interest. Hinata cringed at the thought of the abuse her beloved had received as a child, and also at his coarse description of it.

Tsunade growled under her breath, wishing that her glare would actually tear a hole in the younger man who was besting her verbally. She knew it would come to this with his reaction, but they were like oil and water that was on set on fire these days, and no matter how much she loved him, he had become a total pain in the ass. She found that she couldn't keep her composure any more than he could when it came to arguing.

She turned to Hinata, hoping for a more civil discourse. "How is your condition? Are you training now? How long until you think you are mission-ready?" she bombarded the woman with one question after another, trying to keep Naruto from butting in.

"I have been doing much better, Hokage-sama, but I have just started training again. I really can't say how soon I will be mission-ready, but I can assure you that Naruto and I will do everything in our power to make sure I am so we can go on this mission for you," Hinata did her best to sound convincing. Honestly, she was content nowadays to play house with Naruto, and her rehabilitation and training was normally an afterthought most days.

"No, you can't go on any mission where Kabuto is involved. I won't let you," Naruto announced with a finality to his voice and his arms crossed smugly.

Hinata shot him a death glare worthy of the most feared Hyuuga warrior. "EXCUSE ME?" she seethed at him, disbelief dripping from her words. "YOU think you're going to tell ME when I can and can't go on a mission? You may want to back up and re-think that one, mister."

Naruto's eyes got as round as saucers and his mouth hung open when the thoughts in his brain flew away with the frightening look she gave him. "Uh," was all that came out of him, and he bit his bottom lip and slumped down in the chair as if he was trying to disappear.

Meanwhile, Tsunade was doing her best trying to stay up out of the floor as she writhed around in her chair laughing boisterously. One hand gripped her stomach as she let out peals of giggling at the site of shy little Hinata cowing her fiance'. Never had she wished so much that she had a video camera.

After a few moments everyone in the room had recovered. The ANBU members had fallen back to stand against the walls of the room, silently standing guard in case Naruto's temper got out of hand again. Naruto and Hinata sat waiting for the Hokage to continue with the mission particulars.

"Hinata, I want you up to speed and strong enough to fight within a month. I can't give you any more time than that, as we need to move on the information that's been given. If you fail to perform, you're out and I'll have to send another jonin in your place. I don't want to do that, because you and Naruto being a newlywed couple on their honeymoon would make the perfect cover for the mission." Tsunade let that sink in for a moment before she continued.

You will be sent to France, all expenses paid, and will be ordered to follow Kabuto anywhere he goes, no matter how far it is. I want to know who he is dealing with, what he is up to with these people, and as much information as you can glean about their activities before you apprehend him. There's a reason he wanted Kyuubi chakra, and I want to know what it is, and to whom he's trading it," she announced, looking deadly serious.

"Someone is using this chakra, and with it belonging to the Kyuubi, it can't be good what they're doing. If it is being used in tandem with this 'magic' discipline that was used on Hinata, then this may have an impact on everyone and everything, not just our country, but possibly the world. We have to work to stop whatever it is, and we have to neutralize Kabuto.

"So, you have one month to prepare yourselves for an extended mission and to plan a wedding. I want you married and ready for your honeymoon in Europe by the time you are to leave. Can you handle that?" she asked, wondering if it was too much too soon.

It was Hinata who stood, a determined grin on her face. "For Konoha, we can accomplish anything, Hokage-sama," she announced confidently.

"Whatever it takes to stop and destroy Kabuto," Naruto snarled, his hands balled at his sides.

"Good," the Godaime affirmed. "Now get out of here, there's lots to do, and time is flying from us."

The couple bowed and left quietly, the ANBU members following in flashes. Tsunade sat at her desk, hoping she hadn't just damned her favorite couple to an early death. Sometimes she really loathed the power she had over others' lives.