The Demon Shark and the Fish Cake
Or: There and Back Again
Disclaimer: I own none of the Intellectual Properties represented in this collection of ramblings.
A/N: This took me an inordinately long amount of time to get out, and when my condensed summer classes started up I just really didn't have to time to devote to it that it deserved, so this chapter is more of an interlude than anything, it does advance the plot but not for as long or as far as an actual chapter would.
So, read, review, and tell me what you think.
Naruto's face went from care free to all business the second the door to the Hokage's office clicked shut, taking his place to the right and half a pace behind Mei, standing guard with his senses extended and eyes forward, watching the Hokage and the three other elderly Shinobi in the office and one man twenty one years his senior, all of which he didn't know but had read the intelligence dossiers on.
Mitokado Homura: Sixty eight years of age, five feet four inches tall and one hundred and twenty one and a half pounds. He had grown more militant over the years, not quite to the level of the third man in the room, but he tended to support the cripple more than he supported his Kage. Just like many people his age, he had his sins and secrets he would rather stay just that, secrets. Naruto would have had him executed if he was in Sarutobi's place.
Utatane Koharu: Also sixty eight years of age, four inches and twenty pounds lighter than Homura, she had also grown more militant since her active career, though she still supported Hiruzen from time to time, she also leaned more towards supporting someone other than her Kage. Like Homura she also had various sins and vices that could be potentially exploited. Naruto would have had her put down as well.
Shimura Danzō: Also the age of sixty eight, five and a half feet tall but only one hundred and sixteen pounds. The man was practically a ghost, and that annoyed Kiri's intelligence department more than anything. The key word was "practically", if Danzō knew just how much Kiri knew about him, he would probably be furious. Men like him didn't get mad easily, either. The leader of the clandestine Root ANBU subsidiary, the man had sent a team to try and collect Naruto two years ago. He didn't count on the fact that a certain Uzumaki Kenchi had been teaching Naruto about Fuinjutsu, his little tongue seal was pretty inventive, but extremely crude. Kenchi had broken it in half an hour and applied a different one that made the sealed person unable to not answer a direct question and unable to lie, Danzō had no idea. Seals were so much fun.
Naruto would cheerfully gut the man like a fish in front of the whole world.
Nara Shikaku: Thirty eight years of age, also about five and a half feet tall and around one hundred and thirty pounds, depending on what he had for lunch. Naruto actually liked the man; he had been one of the Hokage's "bodyguards" when he visited Kirigakure no Sato and they'd gotten on well during that time. Scarily intelligent, Shikaku was Konoha's Jōnin commander and, in a perfect world, would take over as interim Hokage if Sarutobi ever fell or was incapacitated in battle, just as Naruto would if the same had happened to Mei. Well, after he had completely wiped whoever had done so from this plane of existence, that is. Naruto knew that this was far from a perfect world, however and that old one-eye would likely move to seize the position given even half the chance. That would be… bad… for the treaty.
Focusing back on the conversation at hand, and idly noting an ANBU operative shifting in his or her secluded watch zone out of the corner of his eye, he knew it had to be a rookie, experienced operatives didn't fidget.
"Mizukage-dono, I am happy we were able to meet again on such short notice after our talks in Kiri, it is good that we can continue negotiations while the topic is still fresh on the mind." Hiruzen started out. Naruto liked the man immensely; he knew that the fact that he was a very prominent Jōnin of Kiri was the only thing keeping Konoha from demanding the return of their Jinchūriki. He also knew that the ninja was as hard and tempered as steel under his public face of a kind old man. You didn't live to be a genuinely cantankerous old man in the Shinobi lifestyle unless you could be as cold and deadly as Haku's Hyōton on a moment's notice.
"Thank you for inviting me to your wonderful village, Hokage-sama, I look forward to our great people being able to work together towards a brighter future." Mei responded with a cultured smile.
Naruto gave a mental sigh; he knew this was going to take hours. Fortifying himself for a long and grueling negotiation session, he started playing a mental game of tic-tack-toe with his resident demon and silently thanked Kami-sama for immortal incarnations of malice and evil.
Tekkai and the twins stood just inside the doorway to their rooms with their jaws slightly agape. When they'd heard that they would be sharing a room it was really nothing new to them, they've had to do it before and they'd most likely have to do it again in the future. They may not like it, but they wouldn't complain. This changed everything.
"This is huge." Tekkai muttered in shock.
"I can't believe we have all this room to ourselves." The twin on the right added.
Walking into the room, they couldn't help but look around in slight awe; this was the type of hotel room that Daimyo would consider opulent.
"Hey, there's a note on the table." The other twin said.
"Let's see what it says." The first one bounded forward and picked it up. "It's from Naruto-sensei!"
"Well, tell us what he wrote." Tekkai encouraged as he staked out his room.
She cleared her throat. "Dear cute little students of mine, congratulations, you have a rich Sensei! Due to the fact that I'm so amazing, and you're my favorite cousins, I decided to spring for your hotel room this time, I know, shocking isn't it?" She paused. "Actually yea that is a little shocking." Shaking her head she continued. "You three have this suit all to yourselves, due to the fact that I'll be "sleeping" with Mei-chan-"
"-He put quotation marks around "sleeping", didn't he?" Her sister interrupted.
She sighed at their Sensei's predictability regarding anything that had to do with the Mizukage. "Yes. Anyway here's the rest of it. "You three have the day all to yourselves while I go to the boring negotiations with Mei-chan and Haku-chan, try not to kill any of the Konoha populace and don't do anything I wouldn't do!" And then there's a little chibi drawing of him giving the peace sign."
"That's it? All he says is "try not to kill anyone?" We've got some pretty broad behavioral guidelines." His sisters both stared at him with deadpan looks on their faces until he got a "eureka!" expression. "Right, it's Naruto, never mind."
"Wait, there's a P.S. on the back." The twin reading the note told her siblings. "It says "P.S. If you, by some chance, manage to get yourselves banned from participating in, or kicked out of, these exams, I will strip the skin from your bodies and bury you in a salt pit – Love Sensei"" The girl finished slowly, her face paling to an unnatural hue of bleach white.
"Yea," Tekkai nodded with a gulp, "that sounds a lot more like him."
Naruto, now seated seiza, with his knees under him, to the right and slightly behind Mei, snapped back to reality as the name "Uzumaki" was mentioned; naturally it was Danzō that had brought it up. He mentally replayed the last ten seconds of dialogue from where he'd stored it. Ninja had to be able to pay attention without paying attention, after all.
"So, the Uzumaki have moved in with Kirigakure. Why didn't they come to their old allies for help?"
"Are you addressing me, elder?" Naruto asked politely. Being a dignitary sucked.
"Who else would I be talking to, boy? You're the only Uzumaki in the room."
It especially sucked when you had to deal with crotchety old men, the kind that weren't funny.
Naruto shrugged and decided to be truthful. "From what Kenchi-Ojisan has told me, no one from Konoha except an unmarked scavenging team showed up and all they were looking for was knowledge on Seals, after he eliminated them there was no one else from the Land of Fire, so we scattered."
He noticed that Sarutobi didn't look even slightly fazed by this news, and he doubted that he would show it even if he was, but he could only assume that the Hokage had ordered it. That was fine; Naruto probably would have ordered the same thing.
"So, why didn't the Uzumaki come to Konoha later? We have had an alliance since the founding of our respective villages." Koharu asked and stated. Naruto was actually starting to wonder where this was going.
"Why would they? There was a war going on at the time, Uzushiogakure was destroyed for our knowledge in seals and our practice of taking in outsiders, even if we'd gone to a hidden village we would have been exploited anyway. We didn't need another battle, we needed to rebuild. So we rebuilt like a Shinobi should, in secret and with stealth."
"Are the Uzumaki going to honor the old treaty and send a member of the clan to Konoha to serve under us?" It was Homura this time, and this had to have been planned, Naruto thought, it was too well orchestrated to not be. And judging by the look in Shikaku's eyes, it hadn't been discussed as a group before the meeting.
"The Uzumaki now belong to Kirigakure no Sato, we serve the command of our Mizukage and no one else. If Mizukage-sama wishes for an Uzumaki to honor the old treaty, then an Uzumaki shall honor the old treaty." Naruto spoke this directly to Danzō, meeting his gaze head on and not flinching for a second, he had no illusions on just who's idea this pseudo interrogation was. There was something about this man that had the Kyūbi on edge for some reason, and he wasn't appreciating it one bit.
Naruto yawned hugely as he and Haku escorted the Mizukage back to their lodgings.
Mei looked over at her lover and rolled her eyes. "Naruto, it wasn't that bad and it wasn't that long, stop exaggerating."
"Speak for yourself, the only way I stayed sane was playing Tic Tack Toe and Hangman with fuzzy." Naruto grumbled under his breath with a pout.
"Chin up, Naruto-kun." Haku started from the Mizukage's opposite side. "You only had to sit through three hours; it could have taken much longer." He paused as if considering something. "And they could have tried more overt and numerous times and ways to get you to return to Konoha."
Naruto scowled at that reminder. "You would think for someone of his… activities… Danzō would be a lot more subtle, don't you?"
A warning glance from Mei silenced them both; they were in a potential enemy's home city, after all.
"Anyway, Naruto, I have one day, tomorrow, to recover and then I must head back to Kirigakure. Utakata may very well be a competent protector of the village, and an outstanding warrior, but he is not an administrator." All three of them grimaced at the memories of the last time Utakata had been left in charge; let us just say it involved a honey badger, some of Naruto's toad summons, Chōjūrō and four training grounds and leave it at that. "I must get back before an emergency that neither he nor Ao can handle crops up."
Naruto got a fierce pout on his face and moved so he could walk backwards in front of Mei. "Are you sure you can't stay just one day longer, Mei-chan?"
Mei looked Naruto in the eye and felt her resolve wavering. "Damn those big blues!" She took a deep breath to collect herself (and to distract Naruto by making her breasts even more prominent) and gave her answer. "No."
Hanging his arms in defeat Naruto went back to his on guard position to bitch some more. "Fiiiiiiine!" He just knew this was going to be one of the most boring times of his life!
Sarutobi Hiruzen sat at his home office going over clan affairs and reflecting upon the day's meeting with the Mizukage.
On one side, the Hokage side, he wanted to demand the return of Konoha's Jinchūriki, as it was, Konoha was the only village without one, and that put them at an extreme disadvantage.
On the other side, the side that had adopted a small, blond, smiling boy as a surrogate Grandson just wanted to give the young man the biggest hug that his old bones could muster and only let go when he was assured that yes, Naruto was indeed alive and healthy.
He couldn't believe how tall he had grown! Minato had certainly been a couple inches taller than most of his peers, when he had finally hit puberty that is, but Naruto had to have shot past his father by about four inches, at least. He smiled as he remembered the passion that Naruto and Mei had shown each other, both in his waiting room and back when he had gone to Kirigakure as an envoy to greet the new Mizukage. It actually reminded him a lot of him and his own wife, Biwako, back when they were younger. Mei was at least as strong, if not stronger, than his late departed wife, especially physically if not spiritually. He knew that that was a relationship that would survive the test of time, given half the chance.
Sarutobi frowned momentarily at that thought. Danzō and the council had been going behind his back again. He had slapped them down extremely hard after the Uchiha debacle. He had to be physically restrained by his ANBU guard at the time, Kakashi, to keep him back from killing Danzō when he'd stormed into the man's home with Enma summoned and in his staff form. In fact, the only reason he didn't break free is that he hadn't wanted to harm his ANBU. Sarutobi Hiruzen was nothing if not completely in control of his faculties at all times.
But that brought up the question. Would the Uzumaki be allowed to honor the age old treaty between the family and Konoha? It was a valid question, and one he had planned on asking Naruto about in a private meeting between the two. Kenchi was getting too old to run the clan, and Naruto was being groomed to take over, as a future clan head, so far along in his instruction, he was expected to be able to sit through a preliminary discussion about such matters, but not make decisions on his own.
He smiled fondly, looking forward to the meeting with his, to him at least, surrogate Grandson.
Sarutobi then gave a small giggle as he remembered the kiss Naruto and Mei shared in his waiting room, and pulled out a little orange book for some bedtime reading.
Danzō looked across his desk in his secret lair at the tool kneeling in front of him. Uzumaki had wormed his way out of being forced to return earlier that day; well he'd have to gather information on them to plan a future venture. The retrieval squad he'd sent to Kiri so long ago never returned; he knew they were dead. The only thing that kept him from panicking was the fact that the seal he placed on all Ne members guaranteed the loyalty of any who might waver from his grand cause. As he dismissed the operative, with the mission to watch over the Kyūbi's team for any weakness that may be exploited, Danzō allowed himself a brief and rare scowl; things were not going as planned.
Shikaku stared at the board in front of him, contemplating his next move briefly while reflecting on Danzō's completely predictable and brash actions during the meeting earlier. Danzō loved to think that he was subtle and a master manipulator. Shikaku, as the Jōnin commander, knew just how heavy handed the old man really was. His base was anything but a secret, the only thing the Hokage didn't have in his organization was a spy. Danzō's training made effective unthinking drones, but it produced absolutely subpar elite ninja, as far as elite ninja went.
He liked the Uzumaki kid, anyone that knew Minato, even peripherally, would immediately know that Naruto was his son; the resemblance was just too great for it to be a coincidence, though he had Kushina's chin. He got a little grin across his face as he remembered Naruto's interaction with the Mizukage back in Kiri when he escorted the Hokage there; it was almost the reverse of Minato and Kushina's relationship. Naruto had Kushina's exuberance and Mei possessed Minato's calm and reserve.
Looking down he moved a piece, earning himself a disgusted grunt from his son.
"So, how was the meeting?"
Shikaku thought about it briefly before responding. "Troublesome."
1:00 P.M. the next day, Mei's hotel room
Naruto was having the time of his life!
Mei-chan had just gotten up to get some ice from their en suite fridge, he was recovering from their last romp (because, regeneration or not, going six times without a break with a Kage was a workout for anyone) and he had a smile that would have to be surgically removed from his face for it to come off.
This was the life, an opulent hotel room, a beautiful and willing woman in his life, and not seeing his Genin team for a whole day!
Wait a minute, Naruto's smile momentarily flipped into a frown; he hadn't seen his Genin team since yesterday… shrugging it off as unimportant he started smiling again as he glanced over to take a more than appreciative look at the Mizukage's posterior as she bent at the waist to get into the freezer, he had better ways to spend his time than worrying about his, as much as he loved them, bratty cousins.
"Are you sure this is a good idea, Sayuri?" Tekkai asked skeptically, looking at the twin to his left with squinted eyes.
She sighed dramatically and gave her brother a condescending look. "Tekkai, if this place was off limits, then there would have been at least a sign and at most a guard. If we aren't supposed to be here, we would have been turned around by now."
"What are you brats doing here?"
Freezing up, all three Genin slowly turned around and looked up. Behind them was a voluptuous, purple haired Konoha Nin in a trench coat, mini skirt and fish net combo that made Tekkai blush and the twins get speculative looks. That outfit could be helpful for their seduction training.
Getting little stars in their eyes the twins proceeded freak out the Tokubetsu Jōnin by grabbing onto both of the Nin's hands and badger her about wardrobe tips.
"Yea." Naruto thought as Mei started back towards him with a bowl of ice, long red hair swaying behind her. "Absolutely nothing could go wrong on a day as good as today."
"So a member of the Seven Swordsmen is your sensei?"
"Yep! Naruto-aniki has been working with us ever since we came to Kiri!"
Anko looked across at the three kids that had treated her to Dango, most likely in a completely obvious attempt to butter her up. Who was she to decline such a generous offer?
"Naruto-aniki? Is he your older brother?"
Sayuri shook her head and frowned slightly. "Kinda, we're related by blood but not that closely, something like third cousins once removed." She shrugged negligently and grinned again. "Something around there."
"Wait, Uzumaki Naruto?" Anko asked intently, her gaze suddenly razor sharp. She'd heard of the man, his entry into the Konoha Bingo Book didn't even have a nickname; it was just "Uzumaki Naruto". He'd even posed for the group of Oinin that was dedicated to taking pictures of foreign ninja. Every village had a photography team like that, and they were generally ignored. She'd never heard of anyone posing for a picture before him.
Especially over the corpses of some freshly slain bandits and the girl he'd been sent to rescue standing next to him with hearts in her eyes as he gave the camera a thumbs up. That Oinin team hadn't had to buy drinks for themselves for a week after they got back with that photo. Apparently Uzumaki had called them out of the tree they were in so they could get a better angle.
He'd said he didn't want to look bad in the Bingo Book. Anko mentally snorted at that; that took balls. Big brass ones.
Sakiko nodded this time, happy that the nice lady across from them had made the connection. "Yup! He's been in Kiri for a little over four years now, he helped end the rebellion there. He was born in Konoha though; but we don't have any idea how he ended up with Kisame-sama."
Anko choked briefly on her latest bite of Dango before swallowing it down and giving the kids a slightly disbelieving look. "Kisame as in Hoshigaki Kisame, the Monster of the Hidden Mist?" At their nod she continued. "The same Kisame that killed a large portion of Kirigakure's military leadership before going Nuke-nin and not only surviving but thriving?"
Tekkai finished his tea and nodded. "Hai, Naruto-aniki was raised by Kisame-sama."
Anko gave the kids across from her a long look before a smile started to stretch across her face. "I might have to meet this Sensei of yours."
Naruto felt a shiver run down his spine as he looked down at Mei whose head was level with his waist and was grinning at him devilishly. He attributed it to the ice she was using on a sensitive part of his anatomy and shrugged it off.
5:30 P.M. That day, Hokage's residence
Naruto grinned as he sat down at a small table with the Sandaime Hokage and his Grandson, he'd heard that the Hokage's daughter had died during child birth, but he'd not met the child yet. The kid wouldn't even have been conceived before he'd taken his leave of the village.
"So, Konohamaru, are you enjoying learning to be a ninja?" Mei opened the dinner conversation. She and Naruto had been invited to a private dinner at the Hokage's residence on his insistence that he be a proper host. Naruto, knowing that many of the old man's brothers and sisters in arms from his time hadn't survived or were in no condition to communicate with human beings properly had urged Mei to accept. She'd been reluctant at first, not wanting any bit of impropriety to be able to be associated with their treaty talks, but like always Naruto had couched his argument while doing unspeakably amazing things to her body, so she'd given in quite easily in order for him to continue.
Konohamaru blushed and ducked his head a bit; he wasn't quite used to women like the Mizukage. "Yes Mei-sama, I'm looking forward to making my Grandfather proud of me."
Mei and Naruto grinned a little at the response as the Hokage's chef, a retired field cook from the Third Great Ninja War, brought in the appetizer of soup. The Hokage himself just grinned and fondly ruffled Konohamaru's hair earning an indignant squawk from the child.
"You've already made me proud Kono-kun." Hiruzen smiled down at his grandson proudly as the poor boy blushed even further.
The brown haired boy suppressed his blush and then looked at Naruto across from him curiously over his soup.
The dinner progressed quietly with the three adults making small talk, Hiruzen enquired about the Mizukage's imminent departure the next day and asked about Naruto's team, who he had only been briefly introduced to during his stay in Kiri. Naruto and Mei likewise asked him how his family was doing, the extended Sarutobi clan, which Hiruzen was also the head of, was actually deeply embedded into Konoha's Shinobi forces. They were one of the more prolific clans in the village.
Konohamaru finally spoke up as the main course, not ramen much to Naruto's disappointment, was being brought in. "Why do you wear so much orange?" The boy asked, his expression slightly incredulous. What kind of Ninja wore orange?
"Because it's orange." Naruto answered confusedly, as if that was all the explanation he needed.
"But you're a ninja, and you're wearing orange," Konohamaru insisted.
Naruto looked down at his chosen outfit, smoothly ignoring his snickering lover and the chuckling Hokage. His "civvies" as they were called consisted of a pair of fluorescent orange cargo shorts, an open front button up short sleeved shirt of the same color and dark blue undershirt. He didn't see the problem with it.
Looking back up to meet Konohamaru's eyes he repeated "because it's orange" stressing the word the same as the child had. "It's the best color on Earth, why wouldn't I wear it?"
Konohamaru either missed or completely ignored the blonde's tone the kid crossed his arms and glared at the Blonde. "Orange is such a stupid color for a Ninja, why don't you wear black or something?"
Naruto glared right back and crossed his own arms. "It is not! When you're as awesome of a Ninja as I am, you can wear whatever the hell you want!"
"Please, I doubt you're that great of a Ninja, a good Ninja wouldn't wear orange!"
Naruto stood up and pointed right into Konohamaru's face, forcing the kid to cross his eyes to look at it, a look of fake indignation on his face. "Listen here, you little brat, I was killing people, successfully, at your age. Until you start taking assassination missions at the age of eight you can stuff it!" With that proclamation he formed a fist and, lightly, bopped the child on the head. Well, lightly for an adult, that is. Konohamaru's face planted in his leftover rice which he promptly pulled out of with rice sticking to his face to see his chuckling Grandfather escorting their guests to the front door.
Konohamaru got a fierce pout on his face as he contemplated what he was going to do about this, he'd always imagined that his Grandfather would come down upon anyone that assaulted him in any way at all with the wrath of a furious God, yet here he was chuckling at his vicious and unprovoked assault! Konohamaru's eyes narrowed and a fierce glare came to his childish face. He would have revenge….
"You do realize that he will try and get you back for that, do you not?" Sarutobi asked with a wry grin as he escorted his guests to the door.
Naruto just shrugged. "Eh, whatever he tries he's welcome to it, I won't file an international incident and I like kids anyway, so it's all good."
Mei grinned impishly and looked up at her paramour. "So, you like kids, do you?" Her grin turned into a full blown smile when he nodded. "Well then, if you hurry up we can go back to our hotel and… practice… if you want." She finished off with a husky whisper.
Naruto got a silly grin on his face and watched Mei saunter out the door and into the night, a little more sway in her hips than usual. Turning to the Sandaime he gave him a blinding smile and clapped him on the shoulder. "Looks like my Mizukage needs me, Sandaime-sama. I'll come by and see you some time tomorrow."
Hiruzen stood there and watched Naruto bound off into the night and pick up the Mizukage around the waist before zipping away in a Shunshin. He closed and locked the door and a sad smile spread across his face. "Just like Minato and Kushina." He whispered as he headed off to say goodnight to his Grandson.
A/N: And that's that. The next chapter is going to be the lead up to and probably the beginning of the Chunin Exams, Naruto is going to go around the village a bit and connect with some people, a little unofficial scouting of their new ally, if you will. It will be longer and more in depth, as usual I'm not going to make any promises on updating it in a timely manner.