helloEisley: Hi! So this is my new story, Missing-nin Matchmaker. I've been stuck on this concept for a few days and I've been planning a lot ... so I really want to know if this idea is worth pursuing. (A.K.A. if you'd be interested in me taking the story further).
So, tell me in a review! Should I continue?
Chapter 1, enjoy!
Naruto, Sakura and Sasuke all met up outside the Hokage's building.
"What do you suppose Old Tsunade wanted us for?" Naruto asked, scratching his head in confusion.
"I don't know," Sakura mused. "Are we just supposed to go in?"
"Oi! You three!"
All three of them looked up to see Kiba, Hinata and Shino walking over. "Did you get called to see the Hokage, too?" Kiba asked.
"Yeah," Naruto said, shrugging. "You guys, too?"
"I-I think it might have been the entire R-Rookie 9," Hinata mumbled.
Sakura glanced at her wristwatch. "Well then, let's wait five more minutes to see if Ino, Shikamaru and Choji show up before we go in."
Both genin teams waited in silent agreement; in about three minutes, Team 10 arrived.
"Eh?" Ino said, surprised. "It's the whole Rookie 9…"
Shikamaru and Choji only looked on in confusion, mirroring Kiba and Naruto's expressions.
"Let's just go in," Sasuke muttered, leading the way up the steps to the Hokage's office.
Everyone else followed suit. At the top of the staircase, they met Tsunade, who had been waiting for them.
"Hello, glad you all could make it," Tsunade said, a cold edge to her politeness. She'd obviously watched them dawdling at the bottom of the stairs. "Would everybody please wait in the first room to your left this way … except for Sasuke?"
The Rookie 9 exchanged shocked glances as they slowly walked down the hall to the said room, none of their eyes leaving Sasuke as he followed Tsunade into another room.
"What is this about?" Sasuke said, rather angrily.
"It can wait a while longer," Tsunade said airily. "Manners and courteousness before haste, Master Uchiha."
She offered him a drink of tea. He took a whiff before sipping it apprehensively.
"Oh, I didn't poison you," Tsunade assured him. "But I did slip one of my chakra-binding elixirs in there. It's slightly different from the one I tested on Jiraiya, but it will restrain your chakra in a hold that will render it useless and uncontrollable for the next three hours."
"W-What?" Sasuke grunted, dropping the drink onto the ground and attempting to mold chakra in his palm, to no avail. "Why?"
"Because," Tsunade said, "I don't want you to do anything rash when I bring you into this next room with the rest of the Rookie 9."
Sasuke only scowled, hiding his impatience as he allowed Tsunade to lead him back to the first room on the left down the other hallway.
When he entered the room, he was met with the most curious sight. The Rookies were all lined up on one side of the room, staring with fear and confusion and distress at the other side of the room, on which stood none other than the …
Sasuke felt the anger and need to fight twist his intestines in bloodlust as he stared at his brother, Itachi, surrounded by comrades and equals, and he clenched his hands into fists, which did not go unnoticed by Tsunade.
"Remember," she hissed into his ear, "trying to use chakra will only hurt you."
He slowly relaxed and crossed the room to join his team.
"The Akatsuki have been caught," Tsunade said, a distinct triumphant tone to her voice.
"Can you just get on with this?" Itachi Uchiha grumbled.
"Your sentence …" Tsunade said, revelling in the dramatic pause, "is to play big brothers to the Rookie 9."
"WHAT?" Eighteen voices chorused simultaneously.
"Most of the advisory council wanted you to be executed, tortured, pained, humiliated, beheaded, eaten, cooked, burned, beaten … the list goes on …"
"Fine," Itachi snapped quickly, "we accept this."
"Before we go any further," Tsunade said suddenly, "I'd like Itachi Uchiha and Sasuke Uchiha to join me in the next room."
There was a sudden tension in the room as all eyes followed the two brothers, glaring daggers at each other, walking with Tsunade out of the room.
She brought them into an empty room with a decorative coffee table, a vase of daylilies resting on an embroidered doily and two comfortable armchairs.
"What is this, a nursing home?" Itachi smirked.
"Shut it," Tsunade said. "Now, have a seat, boys."
Both males scowled deeply as they sank into the armchairs.
"Talk it out. Sasuke can't form attacks and Itachi is in chakra cuffs. I have no doubt that when I return to this room in fifteen minutes, that Itachi – you will have told him everything and that Sasuke will be … different."
She left with that, leaving Sasuke curious and confused.
"What is she talking about, you bastard?" he snarled at his brother.
Itachi sighed. "Fifteen minutes? Really, she couldn't have given me more time?"
"I … I had this planned from the start."
"To kill the clan? I know that."
"That was all part of a much bigger hand, little brother," Itachi said, his face expressionless. "I despised our clan."
"Your actions have justified that," Sasuke said sarcastically.
"I was consumed with bloodlust before I hit puberty. I was a little boy filled with hate and killing intent, and this made the whole clan … proud." He spat out the last word. "I lost all sense of feelings. I became cold, distant, heartless, and stronger than ever. I was trying to make the clan see that what they were doing for me wouldn't be good for them in the long run."
Sasuke looked up, startled.
"I was hoping they wouldn't do the same to you."
"They did," Sasuke muttered. "They trained me hard, to be like you."
"They were sick," Itachi scowled. "They wanted a killing clan. So I killed them all, and hoped that you would come after me."
"Why did you want to die?"
"Because you were the only one who was supposed to come out of my game plan alive. You were the one who wasn't focussed on power, strength … you were the one I believed could change the clan."
"What clan?" Sasuke said sarcastically. "You've done them all in."
"Exactly," Itachi shrugged. "That was my intention – to have you revive the clan as something new, something … better. And I'd hoped to be able to tell you this as I was dying by your hand … I just didn't think Old Tsunade would be able to take us all in before that happened."
"Full of surprises, aren't I?" Tsunade said, sauntering in. "Well, your minutes are over, Itachi, and I hope you've used them well. How are you feeling, Sasuke?"
The meaning behind her question was evident. Sasuke looked at his brother.
Hearing this, both Itachi and Tsunade brightened a little.
"Beautiful," Tsunade said, smiling lightly as she led them back into where the Akatsuki and Rookie 9 were waiting for them. Both parties eyed the Uchiha brothers as they entered with the Hokage, their gazes questioning and tense.
"So, for this punishment probation, each Akatsuki member will be able to choose their conquest. That is, after we have a round of introductions. Starting with the Akatsuki, everyone announce your name and include three things you happen to like."
There were groans erupting from both ends of the room, but Itachi stepped forward.
"Itachi Uchiha. I enjoy the feeing of sensing someone else's fear, the smell of blood and my coffee black."
The large blond with a ponytail and long bangs obscuring half of his face snorted. "Way to sell yourself as approachable, yeah," he said sarcastically. Itachi shot him a death glare.
"I'm Deidara," the large blond in question declared. "I like art, pottery and arson."
"Because that was so much better," Itachi muttered.
A redhead with brown eyes said, "Sasori of the Red Sand. I like making puppets … studying puppets … and … cows."
He heard a giggle from the Rookie 9. He looked at a petite girl with Hyuuga eyes. Huh…
Another of the Akatsuki stepped up. "My name is Zetsu. I like money, chewy people and observing unique Shinobi."
"You eat people?" a pink-haired kunoichi grimaced.
Zetsu chose not to answer, leaving a disgusted silence in the air between the two groups.
A man with slicked-back gray hair said, "My name is Hidan. I like … to kill, I'm a devoted Jashinist and my favourite food is spare ribs."
The only girl spoke up then. "I'm Konan. I like origami, flower pressing and flame-broiled fish."
The boy beside her said, "Call me Nagato. I like stew, practicing ninjutsu and grilled fish."
The shark-like man with the shaving sword introduced himself as, "Kisame. I like to fight, take care of my sword … and seafood."
The last man merely said, "Kakuzu. Money … people who can think for themselves in battle … and liver for dinner."
Tsunade nodded. "That was impressive." She then turned to face the Rookie 9. "Your turn. Let's start with Naruto's team, Kiba's team and then Shikamaru's team. Go."
"I'm Naruto Uzumaki!" Naruto shouted, surprising everyone in the silence. "I love cup ramen! I love Ichiraku's ramen even more! I also like to compare ramen!"
Everyone in the room dropped a sweat.
"Sasuke. Fighting, training … tomatoes."
This came as a surprise to nearly everyone save for Itachi, who knew Sasuke had a thing for tomatoes since childhood.
"I'm Sakura Haruno! I love the colour pink … and Sasuke-kun … and shopping!"
The Akatsuki looked her over. Her hair was pink, her plaited skirt was pink, her cheerleader-like varsity top was white with a tinge of light, rosy pink on the yellow sleeves that reached to her elbows … and her eye shadow was pink. Also, her shoes were decorated with pink hearts.
"Kiba Inuzuka and this is Akamaru," Kiba said, holding up his dog. "I like dogs, action movies and dirt biking."
"I-I'm Hinata Hyuuga," Hinata said, looking at the ground. "I like the rain … and vintage … and apple strudel."
Hinata liked vintage clothes, and her new style showed it. Both of her legs were entirely wrapped in protective bandages, and over that she wore a black dress with long sleeves that was plain and simple and stopped above her knee. It wasn't tight, but it was form-fitting; of cotton fabric that allowed it to be slightly more flexible than fashionable.
Over the little black dress she liked to accessorize with vintage articles of clothing that varied from day to day, like blouses, wraps, scarfs, throws, cardigans and whatnot.
Today, she wore a white blouse that was slightly loose and puffy with vintage embroidery and strings and hung off her shoulders with short, round sleeves.
She'd also changed her hairstyle. It was straight, but not silky or shiny at all. It was rather blow-dried, and cut in long but choppy layers that gave it a puffy, soft lift. Her bangs were also scattered a bit in layers so as not to seem clumpy, and were violet-blue in colour.
"I'm Shino," Shino said beside her, "and I like to learn about bugs … compare different species of bugs … and eating tangerines."
"Ino Yamanaka. I like flowers and Sasuke-kun too and shopping!"
"Shikamaru Nara. I like to play shougi … and watch the clouds and do nothing." When all eyes turned to the last Rookie, Choji, who was eating and unable to speak, Shikamaru sighed and said, "and this is my pal, Choji. He likes chips, barbecue pork and going out to eat."
Tsunade clapped her hands together. "That's everything. Now, if I could have everyone's attention. To the Akatsuki, while you were drugged and out cold, unbreakable radars have been attached to your ankles. They consume the chakra you try to use if you attempt to make an attack to something or someone or if you're just trying to smash it off of your ankle … and they will hold onto that chakra and render you even weaker. Keep that in mind."
She turned to the Rookies. "And as for the nine of you, remember that according to the Akatsuki radars, I will be able to tell which of you are with your assigned big brother."
"Or sister," Tsunade corrected herself. She grabbed a pile of papers from her desk and handed each Rookie one. "These have your addresses on them. Hold them up like you're a cabby waiting at an airport."
The Rookies stared at her with humourless expressions, obediently holding the papers with their addresses over their chests.
"Akatsuki … you've heard everyone's introductions. Use what you've learned to choose wisely. You will have five seconds."
Itachi smirked. He knew who he wanted already.
Deidara stared at his choice.
Konan gave a small smile.
Hidan looked them over before deciding on the one.
Kakuzu and Zetsu exchanged knowing glances.
Nagato looked uncertain but determined.
Sasori scratched his chin. He didn't know who to choose.
"5 …" Tsunade said loudly.
Sasori started to panic. Nagato made up his mind.
"4 … 3 … 2 …"
The Rookies held their breath and all of them were instructed to close their eyes.
There was a sudden whoosh of wind, and the Rookies' eyes snapped open to reveal the Akatsuki gone, and the papers in their hands missing.
"They'll be at your houses sooner or later," Tsunade explained. "They've taken the address from the person they chose, and if a) they don't show up within a week, consult me, and b) if you receive them with less hospitality than they deserve as human beings, you will be punished accordingly. Is that clear?"
Nine heads nodded in unison.
Kakashi met his team on the usual bridge, and although he was late to the meeting according to the time they'd agreed upon, but his genins were even later than he was.
"What's this? I'm early?" Kakashi joked, looking up from his novel as the three appeared.
"No, you most definitely are late," Sakura confirmed, glancing at her watch. "But compared to us, yes, you are early."
"Hokage's meeting," Naruto grumbled. "We've been assigned to watch the Akatsuki on punishment probation."
"Ah. I've heard rumours that the Akatsuki were caught." The Jonin snuck a glance at Sasuke, who caught it.
"It's been all worked out," Sasuke said offhandedly. Kakashi dropped it and said, "Are you ready for our mission, Team 7?"
The team nodded. "What're we doing today?" Sakura asked.
"We'll just be joining Kurenai's team to escort a group of scholars down to Suna," Kakashi explained. "They'll be waiting for us at the gates, but if the whole Rookie 9 was at this Hokage's meeting, they probably just got organized too. We can take our time."
So as they walked, Naruto and Sakura elaborated on Tsunade's orders concerning the Akatsuki, much to Kakashi's interest. However, the gray-haired Jonin was still rather curious about Itachi and Sasuke.
They met Kurenai, Kiba, Hinata and Shino at the front gate and left after having presented their mission order to the ANBU guards watching the perimeter of the village.
"You're good. Go."
The two teams and their Jonin leaders started walking casually down the path to Suna, forming a circle formation around the group of five middle-aged, though nerdy-looking scholars as they walked.
"You guys can't be older than Old Tsunade," Naruto babbled loudly. "Why do we need to walk with you down to Suna?"
"Because …" one of the scholars said, lowering his voice, "we're transporting a very important scroll containing several forbidden and new seals … that could be very dangerous in the wrong hands."
Naruto's eyes lit up but at the same time, he gulped nervously. He remembered the Sealing Scroll that Mizuki had had him steal from the Third when he was still very young and the importance behind that scroll.
"Don't worry, mister!" Naruto grinned. "We'll protect you with our lives!"
The scholar only nodded and smiled, and the by noon, the cloudy sky had only worsened.
"It looks like it might rain," Kurenai noted to Kakashi, who shrugged.
"Nothing we can't handle. We've been out in rain before, right, Team 7?"
The team only nodded. Kurenai bit her lip, looking over at her team – Kiba was talking to Hinata and Shino was carefully observing the man in front of him.
"Hey, Hinata!" Naruto said suddenly.
Kiba watched with amusement as a slight blush started to show among Hinata's cheeks.
"So I was wondering what you and Kiba were discussing!" Naruto said casually, falling into stride with Hinata and Kiba.
Hinata looked at Kiba. "O-Oh, he was just telling me about h-his weekend."
"That's cool," Naruto said. "Hinata, why are you so quiet?"
"Sometimes I think it's because you secretly hold yourself above us," Naruto said, not really thinking about what he was saying. "Like a Sasuke. You're a Hyuuga and maybe you're just thinking about yourself and just trying to do everything and being quiet and all…"
"Are you kidding?" Kiba shouted. "Hinata is the most polite, sweet-"
If Hinata hadn't grabbed Kiba around the waist and forced a fist of chakra into his gut, Kiba would have pounced and annihilated Naruto at that moment, whose back was turned on the two of them, unaware, and continued walking.
Kakashi, Kurenai and the other scholars looked on with amusement.
Kurenai nudged Kakashi angrily. "Tell your student not to play with Hinata's self-confidence. She doesn't need it."
Kakashi obliged. He put a hand on Naruto's shoulder. "You're going about this all wrong, Naruto; if you want to discourage a cocky soul, give that speech to Sasuke."
"All right, Kakashi-sensei!" Naruto grinned, running over to where Sasuke was being harassed by Sakura and launching immediately into his speech.
"How dare he," Kiba said, glaring at Naruto's back.
"I-It's okay, Kiba … he just doesn't know that much about me … and it's my f-fault."
Kiba looked at her in surprise but didn't say anything, because at that moment they were ambushed.
About twenty masked and cloaked ninja jumped from the bushes, proceeding to attack without any exchange of words between them. Caught off guard, the two teams and Jonin leaders instantly tightened the circle around the scholars and dropped into fighting stances.
Sasuke was able to fend off two and started to fight his third with ease. Naruto was having trouble with one particular difficult ninja and Sakura was nervously remaining close to the group of scholars, watching and guarding.
Shino was leaking his bugs in every direction; Kiba and Akamaru had double-teamed two ninja, using their special jutsu, and Hinata was able to fend off two or three ninjas with the use of her Byakugan and disarming their chakra.
Kakashi and Kurenai were both fighting as many as they could, but the attackers were still outnumbering them. In the end, it was only due to Shino's careful bug-placement strategy that saved them, as four spare ninja started advancing towards Sakura.
She was unable to protect all the scholars and was about to scream until the four ninjas toppled to the ground, drained of chakra and crawling with bugs.
Sakura screamed anyway, and the remaining ninja were instantly clobbered by the distraction. The scholars, teams and Jonin leaders sighed in relief, kicked the bodies into the foliage and resumed on their way without speaking to each other.
It wasn't until Suna that Naruto walked up to Hinata again. "I'm sorry, Hinata, I really didn't mean any of that. I know you're nice and sweet and I was just angry about the Uchiha and Hyuuga and stuff and I don't even know why, but I was just tempted to speak my mind and …"
"It's really all right, N-Naruto, please don't apologize," Hinata said softly.
Kiba glared. Hinata only touched his shoulder lightly and went on ahead to escort the scholars into the Kazekage's building. The boys stayed outside.
"Say anything like that again, idiot, and you'll regret it," Kiba warned him.
"I know. I'm sorry."
Kiba dropped his fist and looked away. After a few minutes of silence, Kurenai, Kakashi, Sakura and Hinata emerged from the building. They joined Shino, Sasuke, Naruto and Kiba and they all set off back to Konoha.
When they arrived at the gates of Konoha again, they met Team 10, also returning from a lone mission.
"Eh? You all just had a mission too?" Ino asked, looking at them curiously.
Shikamaru rubbed the back of his neck. "I guess that was the time for the Akatsuki to move in."
Tsunade appeared suddenly at the gate. "You're very smart, Nara," she commented. "Yes, I've checked the radar. All the Akatsuki are waiting for you. Remember that Konoha genins the likes of you are responsible for displaying pride and hospitality in light of their crimes … common courtesy. Invite them for a drink of tea, feed them well, give them their own rooms … I don't know. Be nice," she threatened.
"We know," they all deadpanned as they set off home, each of them wondering which S-ranked criminal missing-nin they'd be stuck with.
Tsunade found all of the Akatsuki sitting on a rail fence on the edge of town. "So, I've sent all of the genin teams on missions for the time being. You have a few hours to get settled."
Each of them held up their address to show her who they'd picked.
"Fitting choices," Tsunade approved, scanning the group quickly. "I've ordered them to treat you all with respect, but if you don't do the same for them, you will be left to die at the council's hands."
The Akatsuki groaned.
"Yes, you will have to care for these youngsters, as responsible as they are for you, you are even more so dedicated to watching them. Understand?"
Nine heads nodded. "Great. Now, I'll leave and give you time."
As soon as she was gone, Deidara turned back to the group. "So, does anyone wanna trade me?"
"You chose your own fate," Kisame said.
"I'm regretting it now."
"Be responsible for and be watched by a kid …" Hidan muttered. "The two things at the very top of my things-I-never-want-to-do list…"
Itachi shrugged. "I'm not too worried."
"Yeah," Sasori said, "because for you, it's just a cute little family reunion."
Itachi grinned and held up the sign that read SASUKE: 939 8th ST. "Looks like little brother's got a house of his own."
"Well, I'm sure that old hag Hokage's already gone and told all of the Rookies who we picked," Konan muttered.
"Maybe now we'll actually be welcomed," Nagato shrugged.
"Playing big brother is going to be the worst," Kisame groaned.
"It doesn't have to be," Itachi mused. "If I remember, being a big brother was sort of fun."
"Only because you liked messing with Sasuke."
"Exactly …" There was a mischievous glint in Itachi's eyes.
"You want to mess with these kids?" Sasori said, smiling lightly.
Itachi smirked. "Only if you do."
"Let's make this probation for the genins a living hell," Deidara agreed, placing his hand palm-down in the middle of the group. "Who's in?"
"Let's do it!"
helloEisley: So I hope you liked it! Review and tell me what you thought! And if I should keep going with this idea :-) Please?