A man in his 50s screamed. The two features about him that were the most notable was his spiky snow white hair that tied in a ponytail with two shoulder long bangs and the fact that he measured 6'2, basically towering over everyone else. He wore a short green shirt kimono with matching pants, which were loose enough to show the mesh armor underneath. His outfit was completed with metal hand guards, a simple black belt, a red cloak with two yellow dots, and a giant scroll strapped to his back. His cheeks had two thick red lines that came down from his eyes. His forehead was covered by a metal horned forehead protector that had the kanji for "oil." He was Jiraiya, the famed toad sannin of Konohakagure, the village hidden in the leaves...and the author of Icha Icha, the most despised piece of literature known to women.
Jiraiya was currently looking in the crowded streets of Takikagure, the village hidden in the waterfall, for his currently lost student, Naruto. However, the blond jinchuriki was currently nowhere to be seen. The toad sennin sighed as he sat down on a park bench to gather his thoughts.
It had been at least a year after the two have left Konoha for their little training trip. Though they did work on a few things that Naruto desperately needed to learn like his taijutsu stance and genjutsu detecting and dispelling skills, they mostly worked on summoning and utilizing the chakra of the Kyuubi no Kitsune. While it was nice and in all honestly really needed work, stances and genjutsu detection wasn't exactly going to be Naruto's ace in the hole when the Akatsuki came knocking.
But going back to the situation on hand, Jiraiya theorized that it had been about three months after they decided to take a stop at Takikagure. While Jiraiya was both inwardly and outwardly impressed by the gaki's reception, it was about after they left that Naruto seemed to be a little quieter and even taking a few looks back. That was when Naruto began to ask if they could make monthly visits to the village hidden in the waterfall. Every time that the gaki asked that, the toad sennin refused, since it would interfere with both the route he had planned out through the elemental nations as well as the training schedule.
It didn't exactly come as a surprise that Naruto began to nag stubbornly for his strange wish, because otherwise from the short time that he had known him, it just wasn't his way to surrender, not that he even knew the meaning of the word. What did come as a surprise was that he even offered to give up calling him "Ero-sennin", start being more respectable as well as stop pranking him when he was doing "research." Jiraiya had to admit that Naruto referring to him as a "ordinary" pervert was getting old, as well as the beatings he received from pissed off women courtesy of the gaki (not that he minded it.) Whatever was in Takikagure was obviously very important to Naruto.
However, as much as Jiraiya respected the blond's right to keep secrets, his mind was filled to the brim and then some with questions. What exactly was so important to the gaki that he would give up two of the things that had basically defined their…whatever they had? Jiraiya's oh so inquisitive mind, usually used to coming up with ideas that would make civilians cover their children's ears, began to stretch itself as it came up with possibilities to Naruto's new found love for Taki.
Could it have been a new ramen place, one with broth that was more heavenly to Naruto's taste buds that the one in Konoha that he usually went to? As soon as Jiraiya's brain conceived the idea, it rejected it, and ideas that were rejected in the mind of the toad sennin were usually stored in a giant vault to be melted down and reworked for "inspiration." The reason why? Jiraiya may have not have been around Naruto's life that long, but he was around long enough to know that Naruto would commit seppuku rather than admit that another stand's ramen was better than Ichiraku's.
The next thing that came to mind was restocking equipment. It too was rejected, for it would seem stupid to travel all the way to one village just to grab a few kunai and shuriken, even if it was well made and high quality. Naruto was one to be more for quantity than quality anyway.
However, he didn't reject the theory entirely as he took notice of one thing. Every time that they left the village, his gama-chan wallet seemed to be a little lighter despite his holsters remaining the same weight as they did. It was at that point that Jiraiya lost himself and let go of his pervert side to work its own theories.
Jiraiya's eyes expanded to the size of dinner plates as he considered the third idea, which seemed both ludicrous, and yet believable. Somehow, by some accident, Naruto met a girl in Taki, a girl so pretty that Naruto immediately forgot the crush he had on that pink-haired teammate of his with the huge forehead and began to secretly see her behind his back, doing things that the gaki doesn't want him to see. Jiraiya smirked. What a sneaky little fox.
Sighing and getting up, Jiraiya lazily looked around, until he saw something that immediately made him hide behind the bench, giving him a few curious glances from passing pedestrians. The toad sennin took no notice as he tried to take a peek over the bench without exposing his obvious bush that was his hairdo. He had seen Naruto rocking his feet back and forward in front of a small stand as if he was waiting for something, his face scrunched in impatience. Before Jiraiya could go over and confront the self-proclaimed "future hokage," a man appeared behind the stand, holding out two popsicles to Naruto. Slightly bowing his head as he took them, the blond began to walk off, unaware of a self-proclaimed "super prevent" trailing after him.
There were many things that could be used to describe Naruto Uzumaki. Some can say he is extremely loyal, as evidenced by the friendships he had made with his fellow shinobi and kunoichi. Some can say that he is flamboyant, due to most of his clothes being bright orange jumpsuits. Some can even say that he is an intellectual dud, incapable of noticing even the simplest details.
However, the last statement is true - to an extent. When Naruto's brain isn't in combat, it actually becomes quite more perceptive, helping Naruto come up with those crazy, show stopping strategies that we all know and love. However, when it isn't required, Naruto's brain slows down the process, confident that any detail not relating to shinobi, ramen and friendship, is basically unneeded and probably isn't all that important.
In short, Naruto is completely oblivious to Jiraiya's presence.
Jiraiya silently lifted his metal forehead to wipe the sweat off his forehead. He had stalked… trailed the troublesome gaki for a good five minutes, having a few close calls. Luckily, Naruto's detection skills were no match for the awesomeness of Jiraiya's stealth, all ignoring the fact he had to hide in some … insanitary places. It was going to take weeks just to get the smell out of his geta sandals. However, all that would be worth it to discover Naruto's more … clandestine activities.
Quickly looking around them, he saw that Naruto had led him to a huge tree that basically was the cornerstone of Taki's design. Now looking down from his branch, he saw Naruto, still holding the two popsicles no less, sitting against the trunk of the tree, his two legs hanging on each side of the branch. Naruto began to look in Jiraiya's direction, but the sannin managed to press down on the branch low enough for the genin not to notice him. However, a thunk could be heard and Jiraiya became confused. Then voices began to make themselves be heard, so it was only natural for Jiraiya to listen in. The first voice was soft, almost hard to make out.
Five minutes ago…
A lone girl stood on the top of a two story building, staring at the spot of orange in the giant tree. Quickly leaping from the roof, she landed on another, making sure that she didn't disturb anyone. As soon as she reached the tree, she began to run up the truck. Leaping up on a branch, she peeked around, and seeing who she was hoping for, began to straighten herself out.
"You know, I find it amazing that this kid keeps showing up. You'd think that eventually he's going to realize…"
The girl tuned out the Nanabi's voice. She knew it was a hopeless endeavor. Sooner or later, he was going to discover who she truly was, and was going to leave like everyone else. Still, despite that, she held out hope, that he was different, that he wasn't like everyone else.
"Darn it, Fu-chan! You know how I hate you being so formal!"
Fu gave a soft giggle.
"Sorry, Naruto-san. I find it…funny to see your expression."
If so, then she was going to enjoy every last moment she had.
Jiraiya took that moment to peek over and see who was keeping his pupil company. When he saw who, Jiraiya practically had to remind himself of his preference for mature women. The first thing he had noticed was that the girl's hair was a very aqua green color and was tucked behind her ear. Blinking, he thought back to Minato and Kushina as well as Naruto's crush on the Haruno. Did all male Namikaze males have a preference for unique hair colors?
The sannin filed the question in his head for later as he began to examine Fu's appearance. The girl seemed to have a preference for the color white, with every article of her clothing being that absolutely pure color. She wore a tank top that left her navel exposed as well as a miniskirt that had a split on the right side, showing off some ninja mesh covering. Her armlets reached up to the elbows, while open toe sandals covered her feet. Jiraiya had to sigh after seeing Fu's chest.
'Guess all Namikazes also like late bloomers.' Jiraiya sighed.
However, Jiraiya did have to applaud Fu's apparent willingness to show so much of that flawless skin that she had. He could only wish Tsunade dressed like than in their earlier days. In short, Naruto was one lucky son of a gun, not exactly surprising considering whose loins he came from.
As the two talked, Jiraiya leaned in closer. From what he could see, despite the friendly outburst at the beginning, Naruto practically dominated the conversation while Fu just simply nodded and spoke questions and the occasional sound of surprise. In fact, Fu was really just sitting there, only taking a few licks off her popsicle, while just staring at Naruto. From what he was seeing, she looked so… enraptured in Naruto's story. Taking all this information and coming up with a conclusion, Jiraiya groaned as he slapped himself.
'Darn it, gaki. You practically got her in the palm of your hand, and you're too dense to even notice that? That's it Naruto, first chance I'm getting, you will be taught women 101!'
As soon as Jiraiya thought that, Naruto sneezed so loud it basically sounded like thunder. Fu leaned away from the blond, her popsicle now falling towards the ground. Naruto began to look at the giant loogie that was now on his shirt, and then began to search his pockets for a tissue. Jiraiya took that moment to exit.
Naruto groaned. Here he was, talking to Fu-chan, when this super sneeze came out and covered his shirt in snot. What a moment.
Fu recovered her composure.
"Are you okay, Naruto-kun?"
Naruto grunted as he wiped his nose on his sleeve.
"Yeah, just fine."
With that, he stood up and nodded to Fu, slightly scared of what could happen next.
"Come on, we're going back to I'm staying and get another shirt."
It relieved Naruto that Fu's face showed that she was just as uncomfortable as he was.
"Naruto-kun, go do what you have to. I'll stay here."
The blond frowned, placing his hand on Fu's shoulder. Naruto looked down, afraid of what Fu could possibly be thinking. The time spent with Jiraiya made him very aware of what could happen if he made unexpected contact with one of the opposite sex…
"No, let's both go, we're milking this for every last second."
Naruto turned away to leap off the tree, only to be stopped by Fu's hand clamping around his shoulder.
"Maybe we should go by the rooftops. It's faster, and no one has to see your shirt."
Naruto digested the idea, before turning to Fu with a smile.
"Man! Why didn't I think of that? Come on, I'll lead the way."
A door opened to let in Jiraiya into the hotel room. His expression was somber and contemplative, a strange look for the self proclaimed "super pervert." He flopped into the easy chair and sighed as he placed a hand on his face.
'Leave it to Naruto to become friends with all the troublesome people.' Jiraiya sourly thought as he remembered what Shibuki told him.
"Jiraiya-sama, Shibuki-sama will see you now."
Jiraiya nodded as he put a few finishing touches on his drawing, then put away his pencil to walk towards the door. Now Jiraiya may have been an idiotic pervert, but he was an observant idiotic pervert. His notebook revealed his sketch to the secretary, who instantly tensed at the sight. On the outside, Jiraiya gave no reaction; on the inside Jiraiya filed the secretary's action for later interpretation.
"Jiraiya-sama, what a surprise! What are you doing here?" Jiraiya took a moment to examine the appearance of Takikagure's leader. His appearance had changed little over the times he had seen him. His clothes, a simple shirt and pants, were wrinkled and wore. His ink black eyes were red and bloodshot, showing a lack of sleep, which was agreed with the chunin's messy hair. Jiraiya leaned to the side to see three huge stacks of paperwork on the desk.
"Another all-nighter, huh, Shibuki-san?" Jiraiya grinned, which Shibuki groaned as he rubbed his eyes.
"I swear, Jiraiya-sama, it's like my father just took the hero's water just to have an excuse to escape the paperwork. What I wouldn't give to know how your Hokage does it…" Shibuki groaned as he sat down and began to read yet another piece of paperwork.
"Still, I know that you only come for important stuff, so what is it?"
Jiraiya held up his drawing.
"Can I have some information on this girl here? I believe her name is Fu."
The moment Shibuki looked up, his eyes widened for a brief second before returning back to neutral, but not before Jiraiya noticing.
"W-what do you want to know about her?" Shibuki asked, squashing the stutter he had in the beginning. Jiraiya looked back at the door then leaned in close.
"I think her and my oh so innocent student might have a thing together."
Shibuki rubbed his face as he took in the information. Then he looked at Jiraiya, the seriousness in his eyes disturbing Jiraiya for a second.
"Well, what is there to tell? She was recently promoted chunin, likes ice cream and anything really that is edible, and…"
Shibuki actually seemed to pause, actually comtemplating on whether to tell Jiraiya something. Finally coming to a decision, he looked up to the toad sennin.
"She is also number seven."
Jiraiya sighed, now knowing that his wayward student was actually being friends with Taki's own jinchuriki. Then he had to smile. Well, it was Naruto, the kid who had a knack for being friends with the most unexpected of people.
Creak. Speaking of wayward students…
The door creaked open, letting a crack of light through. Jiraiya hid behind the chair, peeking over the top. He had to suppress a snicker as the blade of a kunai peeked through and waved around. When the knife disappeared, Jiraiya could hear whispering and soft foot falls. Seeing the door widen, Jiraiya hid behind the easy chair and waited, hearing the floor creak under the weight of the blond. Quietly getting up from behind the chair, and seeing that Naruto's bare back was to him, he spoke.
"Why, hello there, Naruto. What are you doing?"
Jiraiya could only wish to see Naruto's expression when the blond practically jumped a good two feet while putting on a new shirt. Well, the expression of pant soiling surprise of Naruto's face was probably just as priceless.
"Er-er…Jiraiya-sama-sensei! W-why are you here so early?"
The 'self-proclaimed' super pervert had to restrain the face splitting grin that he got after seeing the gaki in such a nervous state.
"Oh, you know, checking on my favorite gaki. What else would I do?" Jiraiya spoke with a relaxed shrug, before suddenly folding his hands in front of him, creating a very unusual position for the toad sennin to be in. He gave a curious glance to the snot covered shirt Naruto had laid on the bed. Naruto could only shrug.
"Crud happens." Jiraiya shrugged as well.
"Now moving to more…important things, I have to admit, I'm curious about why you're so adamant coming to Takikagure. I mean, it must be nice to have somewhere just to put our feet up, but still… Why not Wave? What about Suna? I'm sure it's pretty nice there at this time of year? So why is Taki so important to you, gaki? Why?" Naruto opened his mouth to talk but was silenced by Jiraiya's hand.
"Wait, don't say anything. Let me see if Jiraiya still has it… Now let's see… Could you have found a new ramen place, one with better ramen than that one you go to in Konoha? Naw, I've seen your type of brand loyalty, you'd probably commit seppuku before that."
Naruto chuckled nervously as he adjusted his collar.
"Could it be new kunais and shurikens? Naw, we passed plenty of ninja stores on our way here… not to mention I can tell you're the kind of guy that likes quantity over quality, eh Naruto?"
Naruto lowered his head, yet Jiraiya hear the blond cursing him out. At that moment, Jiraiya made an exaggerated show of snapping his fingers, and pointing at Naruto's face at the same time Naruto snapped his head up in surprise.
"That's it. You got a girl here, don'tcha gaki?"
Naruto's mouth dropped and spewed denial while his hands waved around.
"W-what? That's crazy, sensei! There's no one here!" Naruto shook his head in disbelief, while Jiraiya frowned. The gaki was good, but he was better.
"Oh, are you sure? Your gama-chan there seems to be in good shape. Perhaps your 'non-existent' girl helped whip it back into shape for you?" Jiraiya accused, poking at the pocket that was holding Naruto's frog wallet. Naruto chuckled nervously as he pulled it out and turned it upside down, letting out a few dust balls, before pointing at it.
"Jiraiya-sensei, with all…respect due, I think you're just having a hangover. You practically cleaned my gama-chan out with booze and... women. Anyways, why are you caring?"
Jiraiya scratched his head.
"Well, Gaki, just wanted to make sure that you weren't…ahem… playing for the other side." Naruto simply tilted his head.
"Jiraiya-sensei, I thought you said it wasn't right to joke about stuff like that." Jiraiya grinned.
"Yeah, when the person's…you know what…is not in question."
Naruto's face turned red as he began to reach for Jiraiya's neck, stopped and began to twitch uncontrollably. Throwing his hands, Naruto began to groan as he walked to the door.
"For the last time sensei, I am straight and I don't have a girl, got it?"
Jiraiya sighed, it looked like he had to concede this round to the gaki. Once the door closed, however, muted voices could be heard. Being the ever-so-curious eavesdropper, Jiraiya pressed his ear against the door.
A few moments ago…
Naruto stared at the ground and muttered to himself as he closed the door.
"Naruto, who am I to you?"
Naruto looked up to see Fu with her hair down, covering her eyes.
"Please answer my question."
Naruto felt a chill run down his spine but ignored it.
"Well…you're my friend, Fu."
A small grunt showed that the green-haired girl even acknowledged his answer.
"Then why did you lie about us, Naruto? … Is that all I am to you? A dirty little secret?"
Naruto, as soon as he heard the last part, tried to argue.
"Hey, Fu, I was just…"
Fu began to mumble.
Naruto tiled his head in confusion.
"Huh? Tired of what?"
Fu lifted her face, showing him the angry tears that flowed down her cheeks. Her fist clenched before rising and rocketing towards Naruto's face.
"Tired of everyone treating me LIKE A SKELETON IN THE CLOSET!"
As Naruto saw the fist rocket towards his face, he instantly knew that the punch Fu was going to give to him was going to hurt. As he looked away, he caught a look of Fu's eyes. He was able to see the emotion in them, a swirling vortex of betrayal and pain that struck him to his core. Idly wondering how Fu managed to hear him, he dismissed the thought. What mattered was that he screwed up, big time.
Fu wasn't thinking straight. Hearing Naruto trying to defend his actions, the green haired girl immediately was drowned in a sea of red. However, even a cover of sangugine color didn't stop her from seeing two blue orbs, two orbs that showed sorrow and regret. Fu slackened the power behind her punch, but it was enough to create one massive bruise.
Jiraiya jumped back as the door exploded inwardly, sending a mass flying into one of the beds, breaking it on impact. The toad sennin was blinking as he took in the destruction.
"Holy… Is the gaki dating a clone of Tsunade?"
Jiraiya then did turned around to see Fu blinking, as if disbelieving what she just done. Tentatively taking a step forward, the girl tentatively stepped across the room, and began to stretch a hand near the pile. Jiraiya snapped out of his daze, and shouted.
Fu turned around to look at Jiraiya, now scared out of her wits and was ready to run away. Jiraiya held out his hands to calm the girl.
"Hey, it's okay. I'm Jiraiya, Naruto's sensei." With that, the toad sennin raised his hand, while Fu looked at it confusedly. Jiraiya sighed.
"It's a handshake, kid."
Fu placed her hand in Jiraiya's and let him shake. Fu looked at the pile of rubble and looked to Jiraiya.
"Aren't you worried about him?"
"Eh, don't worry about him, he should be fine. In fact, I believe he'll be getting back up in three…two…one…"
Naruto burst out of the rubble, into view of now a wide eyed green haired girl and a white haired sennin with a smirk on his face. Naruto sighed.
"I got some explaining to do, don't I?"
"Yes, you do, gaki, yes you do." Jiraiya chuckled, already coming up with ways to incorporate this into his writing.