Story until now (summary of last chapter)

Team seven's renown had grown in Konoha as they had come back with the news of Suna's alliance proposal. Naruto had started training with Kakashi in arts of Black-ops, and his friendship with Sakura has taken a step farther in the right direction. As Naruto learns more about the last Uchiha of Konoha, and his betrayal to Konoha, it is also revealed that the Uzumaki had a mysterious rivalry with Sasuke. Later Naruto also comes to know of Sakura's feelings for Sasuke, and Ino's cautionary advice that Sakura was in a very fragile state of mind and could break if she goes through emotional trauma like she went through when Sasuke defected from the village, and she felt like he had betrayed her.


Naruto was patiently waiting in the Hokage's office for his perverted sensei to show up. It had been a while since he had met his mentor, who also coincidentally has been his Grandfather figure as well as his friend throughout his entire life, and even though he wouldn't admit it openly, he had missed the pervert in the time he had spent in Konoha, practically alone. Tsunade, on the other hand, was not so patient at all. The pervert had said that he would be back in an hour and it was more than two hours since he had vanished after saying that he had information on Orochimaru and possibly his current location. It had piqued her interest, and now she couldn't wait to find out more about it, which only added to her impatience as she constantly tapped her right index finger against the hard-wood surface of her desk.

"So Baa-chan, why did you call me into your office? If Ero-sannin had any info on the snake wouldn't he want to discuss this stuff with you in private?" asked Naruto, not being able to take the constant tapping of Tsunade's inexhaustible index finger.

"Naruto, stop the act, I know all about your rivalry with Sasuke. Given the fact that you were able to fight him on even ground makes you one of the only people among your age that I would feel safe sending on a search mission. But whenever Sasuke is involved, my apprentice has a knack of jumping in no matter what the odds are. Sai, being an original member of Team seven wouldn't miss this mission either, therefore when I discuss this issue, I want to know your opinion on the whole thing," said Tsunade. She needed more information from Naruto anyway, and that was why the blonde was present.

"If Sasuke is there then Orochimaru is there, and if Orochimaru is there then Kabuto will be there. What makes you think that I and a bunch of Chuunins can just waltz in there, take all of them down and bring back the Uchiha single-handedly? Orochimaru, as you already know, is a Sannin! Kabuto and Sasuke are both high Jounin level Shinobis it is going to be a losing battle, even if there is one," Naruto shot back, he knew that Sai and Sakura were both capable ninjas but the trio that they would be facing was on a whole different level.

"I am not too worried because I am not sending just you and a bunch of Chuunins as you put it. I am going to send one of our most capable ANBU squad leaders, and he is a high Jounin level so calm down. What I want to know is can you handle Sasuke by yourself?" asked Tsunade, she knew that Naruto was beaten by Sasuke, but she also knew that was mainly because he was caught off guard by the Sharingan.

"I think I can take him, but there is Kabuto as well as Orochimaru to back him up, what about them?" asked Naruto, he knew that Kabuto and Orochimaru's combination was one that was flawless, efficient, and powerful. They had nearly taken out both Tsunade and Jiraiya in a straight out fight, albeit Tsunade was hindered because of her phobia of blood and Jiraiya was drugged. If he hadn't been there, they would have surely lost.

"You can leave Kabuto up to Sakura and Sai, together they can take him. I am not too worried about Orochimaru because he still cannot perform any ninjutsu or genjutsu so Yamato should be able to hold him off, maybe even capture him, the only real threat right now is Sasuke," said Tsunade, she gazed searchingly into Naruto's eyes, looking for answer. Naruto looked down, he knew that logically the plan seemed good, but with Orochimaru nothing was as it seemed.

"You should have a little more faith in yourself Naruto, we both know you have become much stronger than you were when you fought Sasuke," said a new voice, and Naruto had to smile. There sitting on the window sill in his classic crouched position was none other than the sage hermit Jiraiya.

"About time you got that perverted arse of yours back here!" shouted Tsunade as she stood up, sending her chair tumbling back, her face red with anger. Jiraiya humped down from the window sill and was frantically shaking his hands in front of him trying to calm her down. To Naruto, it appeared almost comical, one of the strongest ninjas in all the elemental nations shaking in fear from the anger of a woman, who was weaker than him as far as strength and combat prowess was concerned, but also the woman for whom he harbored a secret crush for more than three decades. Over the years Naruto had learned that even though the Sannins got their title together, Jiraiya has become far stronger than his old teammates. He never really showed it but if he wanted, he could take out Orochimaru in a straight out fight without any problem. When Naruto had asked him why he was holding back so much, he had said that it wouldn't be fair to his teammate to fight him when he was weak; he wanted to fight and defeat Orochimaru when the Snake-Sannin was at full strength.

"Hime calm down, I was only talking to Kakashi about Naruto's training and his improvement. You know how he always shows up late, he couldn't be on time to save his life!" said Jiraiya rapidly, he knew that if his explanation didn't come out fast enough, his life definitely would. Tsunade seemed to calm down, but she still had an angry expression on her face as she sat down behind her desk.

"So what did Kakashi-sensei say?" asked Naruto, he was always eager to know how much he had improved.

"Well he said that your black-ops training is going well, you are apparently a very quick learner and you are advancing much faster than anyone he has ever seen or trained," said Jiraiya, it wasn't much of a surprise to him. Everything he taught Naruto, the boy learned much faster than he ever thought possible. "But I have heard some things from Kakashi that I don't remember teaching you, what was that about extremely powerful Fuuinjutsu?"

"Hey that wasn't mine Paa Fukasaku gave it to me, said it was my Grandfather's personal collection of jutsus!" exclaimed Naruto, he knew it was a bad idea to learn things without telling Jiraiya, but Fukasaku had insisted that he learned jutsus that were his by inheritance.

"Hmm, was it a part of the Myoboku library?" asked Jiraiya with his finger tapping his chin.

"No, did I not tell you it was my grandfather's!"

"Where is it now?"

"I left it with Fukasaku, I only got about a quarter of the way through, there were a lot of new things in there to learn, and they were much harder than the Fuuinjutsu you have been teaching me," said Naruto with a bored expression.

"So Fukasaku had been helping you learn it?"

"Yeah, you were away most of the time remember?" said Naruto in an annoyed voice. He was getting irritated with the useless interrogation.

"So what's wrong with him learning new sealing techniques?" asked Tsunade, she never got the pair in front of her, they worried about things that were not worrisome, but took bad news like a cool breeze to the face.

"The big hulking seal on his stomach is what's wrong. Many sealing techniques are intertwined with others, and the seal that's keeping the fox at bay is one of the biggest one I have ever seen, so it is also connected to a large number of other sealing techniques and if the boy learns a techniques that undoes his seal on the stomach it will be catastrophic to say the least," rambled Jiraiya, even he, a Sannin of the leaf, was intimidated whenever he came face to face with the nine-tailed fox.

"I know, that is why I have been making sure of learning techniques that are not related to jinchuurikis at all," said Naruto, abating some of the worry off his sensei.

"Hmm that's smart, well I will have to get that book that way I can teach you some of the stuff too," muttered Jiraiya before he diverted his attention back to the Hokage.

"I remember you saying that he could control the fox's chakra, I have never seen him using it though?" asked Tsunade, she knew first-hand how strong jinchuurikis could get given her participation in the Shinobi wars.

"Yeah, Naruto is able to control about five tails worth of chakra, after that he loses his control over his emotions. We have been working on that but after he came here he couldn't just openly start using the Fox chakra, it would draw too much unwanted attention," said Jiraiya. "Naruto, why don't you use teleportation scroll to go to Myoboku and start practicing on your control?"

"I would but Kakashi-sensei has been driving me to the ground everyday with Black-ops training. I thought I was average at it, but he is a genius and he has been teaching me some of the advanced techniques at stealth and espionage, says they are really useful when taking out an enemy without anyone else realizing that he is gone," replied Naruto with awe in his voice in admiration to the one-eyed Jounin. Jiraiya shivered, who knew what kind of twisted methods that wily man had come up with, Minato had said that he was way more mature than kids his age was and that was over a decade ago. Now he had grown up to be notoriously famous around the elemental nations as the copy-ninja, a clever disguise to his true talents a prodigy among the ANBU and a master at stealth.

"Enough talk, you two can catch up later. Right now I want to know what Jiraiya have found out about Orochimaru!" declared Tsunade, eager and concerned at the same time.

"Fine fine, we will talk later Naruto. What do you want to know hime?" said Jiraiya with a sigh, there was no way to make Tsunade let go of something after she got a sniff.

"Where is he and where is his apprentice?"

"They are in an underground base at the border of Otogakure; I have a detailed map with the pinpoint location as well as the exact coordinates. My spies tell me that they will be stationed there for at least a month because Orochimaru had decided that he will be switching bodies but he won't be taking Sasuke's yet. So they are still going to be there for about three more weeks," Jiraiya nodded as he mentally ticked off all the main points that he had on the other Sannin and his apprentice.

"Are you saying that they have already moved into this base for almost a week now?" asked Tsunade, her expression showed that she had calculated something that Jiraiya had obviously missed. "Damn, then it might be possible that his body exchange might already have happened! There is no way I am sending ninjas in there if Orochimaru can fight at full strength," she shouted.

"Don't worry about that Baa-chan; it takes nearly a month for Orochimaru's body to function normally after he had the exchange done, if what Ero-sannin said was true then he will be a mummy in bandages for about three to four more weeks. The only things he will be able to do properly is walk and jump for now, nothing more than basic nin-jutsu and gen-jutsu, tai-jutsu is totally out of the question," explained Naruto, much to Tsunade's relief. They had a lot of research and data collected on this specific Sannin after all.

"So we can still proceed as planned?" she stated more than asked but the other two nodded anyway. "Good, Naruto you need to go and pack up. Meet us at the main gates in four hours from now and tell Shizune on your way out that I have asked for Sakura, Sai, and Tenzo to meet me immediately," she shouted, as Naruto was already on his way towards the door.

"'Kay Baa-chan!" came the faint reply as the door closed behind him.

"Shizune Nii-chan you got to tell Sakura, Sai, and someone named Tenzo to meet up with Baa-chan right now, she got a mission for them," said Naruto, he was already on his way out when Shizune called him back.

"Wait Naruto, what do you have to do until it is time to leave?" she asked as she shifted through another pile of papers looking for a document.

"Hmm, I was probably going to go for a quick lunch before going back to my place and pack up," he replied, a little confused as to why she would want to know what he was going to do with his free time.

"Does your quick lunch involve going to the hospital by any chance?" asked Shizune with a mischievous grin crossing her face. Almost everyone knew about Naruto's crush for a certain pink haired medic, ironically the only person who was oblivious to the whole affair was Sakura herself. The news had spread quite quickly curtsey of a certain Yamanaka Heiress. Naruto groaned loudly before swearing for the hundredth time that week that he would kill Ino when he met her next time.

"Not you too Shizune Nii-chan, it's embarrassing enough coming from the others, I thought you would understand!" exclaimed Naruto, he had thought that if someone would understand it would be his sister.

"I was just joking but it seems that you do have something for Sakura, good for her! If you are going to the hospital, why don't you give this to her, this will let her know that she has a mission waiting for her." Shizune said moving a folder towards him, which he snatched up, gave a weary glance towards Shizune before running out. Much to Shizune's amusement, he was heading directly towards the intensive care wing of the hospital.

"Sakura, what are you doing?" asked Naruto, as loudly as possible, jumping into her office through the window, giving her a mini-heart attack in the process.

"Naruto! How many times do I have to tell you stop sneaking up on me like that? You almost gave me a stroke!" she exclaimed, her hand on her chest. Naruto caught the pen that was falling off her hand and put it back on the table before giving her his trademark grin.

"Kakashi sensei did say it was good practice to see if you are able to sneak up on fellow ninjas, it seems I am getting good at moving without making a sound, don't you agree?" he asked with a mock thoughtful expression as he sat down across from her. "Are you free right now?"

"Yeah, once I am done with this I am free for an hour I think," she said as she picked her pen up and looked at the calendar to see if her assessment about her schedule was accurate, which it was.

"Good then we can have lunch?" he asked as he set the folder on her desk, and she eyed it before looking up at him with a questioning look. "I'll tell you over lunch, how long before you are done with that?" he asked pointing at the paper that she was filling out.

"About five minutes," she said, shifting her concentration back towards the document she was previously working on.

"So what is the real reason you have called me here?" asked Jiraiya, he knew that Tsunade would not have summoned him had it not been urgent.

"I think Danzo has figured out who Naruto is and is keeping an intense watch on him. Naruto has reported to me that he has ANBU following him all the time, even when he is training and with other Shinobis. I can't confront him on this matter either because he will bring up the security of this village and make me look bad. What can I do?" Tsunade had exhausted all the methods that she could think of but couldn't come up with one solid enough to shove all of Danzo's arguments.

"Don't you think that if he had really figured out who Naruto was he would have asked you to let him join his ROOT division first?" asked Jiraiya. He knew that Danzo would be the first one to try and get Naruto to join him had he figured out Naruto's true heritage and the amount of political power he would hold over the council as well as the village.

"What makes you think he hasn't asked me already?" chimed in Tsunade in a worried voice. Jiraiya's eyes widened, he hadn't thought Danzo would have been able to put it together so quickly, this is going to prove to be a bigger thorn to their side than he imagined.

"This is not good. Did you try to make up a story?" asked Jiraiya, his worry was increasing every minute.

"No, I just said the same story that Sarutobi-sensei said with a little more meat to make it sound more realistic. He being an Uzumaki does not make it any easier; there were only two or three Uzumaki males at the time in this village. What do you have in mind?" asked the Hokage.

"I don't know if anything else will work, let's just go with what Sarutobi-sensei said and try putting off Danzo for as long as possible. I have to talk to Naruto about Danzo's offer; maybe he can come up with something. Why did you assign Hatake for his training?" Jiraiya finally asked the question he had been dying to know the answer to.

"When we tested Naruto, the only thing he was lacking was black-ops training, and if I put him in ANBU, it will give the Danzo the perfect opportunity to make Naruto join his ROOT division with the council's help. Since Kakashi is the most accomplished ANBU operative outside of the ROOT division, I thought he would make the best mentor for Naruto, plus the fact that he was Minato's student only adds to the fact that Naruto will be I good hands. Is there something wrong?" Tsunade was getting angry, not only was Jiraiya avoiding the initial problem that she wanted for him to solve, he was diverting her attention to something as trivial as whom she chose to be a teacher for Naruto!

"Nothing, I just thought that you would be putting him under someone like Asuma's or Gai's regimen. I thought the team that Kakashi handles was disbanded when the Uchiha defected, so I was just wondering why him," said the Toad sage with a sigh, dropping the subject as he sensed that his colleague temper was reaching critical levels, which could pose immeasurable amount of physical pain and health hazard on his part. Tsunade frowned; it looked like Jiraiya was out of his game today.

"So what do we do with Danzo?" she asked again, in a softer tone, she was suddenly feeling really tired as well.

"Hey, have you ever thought if we can take him down?" asked Jiraiya, he had never thought of it before but the old war hawk had to be as old as their Genin-team sensei, if not older.

"What do you mean take him down?" asked Tsunade, not quite grasping the full meaning of the toad-sage's words.

"Do you think that we can defeat him in a straight out fight? I mean sure he probably has a lot more experience than us but his age has gotta be catching up with him, I mean the dude existed as a ninja before we were even born!" said Jiraiya with a glint in his eyes, after all they were the Sannin for a reason, the most established Shinobi in all of Leaf village and Fire Country.

"We probably could take him in a straight out fight but don't you think it would be over-doing it if he was accidentally killed in a sparring session against us?" asked Tsunade putting emphasis on the word 'accidentally', people would definitely question it if the leader of the ROOT Division just happens to die in a spar against the strongest ninjas in the village.

"Yeah, that would look suspicious. I really can't think of a way to make him back off other than proving somehow that Naruto is not Minato's son or by some means threatening that old croon to a point where he will agree to keep the secret until we deem otherwise. I don't think we can do either without alerting other people that something off the hook is going on in the village," responded Jiraiya, wracking his brains to come up with a solution that will be solid enough to convince Danzo, but can be carried out discreetly enough so that only a few people will know what is truly going on.

"Have you found out any new information from your spies?" asked Tsunade, abandoning the thought that Jiraiya will provide a solution to her Danzo problem.

"Yes, my spies say that two new Akatsuki members are out for hunting Hidan and Kakuzu are their names I believe. That duo is notorious because these two were key members when Akatsuki was first formed as they were the ones that took out most of the major obstacles that Akatsuki were facing. Without these two the Akatsuki organization would not have formed, so they are probably extremely strong and very cunning. I would watch out for these two, right now they are moving north towards the Wind country, but Fire is on their list because they want to know whether we truly have a jinchuuriki or not, it seems that their plans will not be fulfilled without the Kyuubi, and he was last seen in Konoha as you well know," said Jiraiya, his face becoming a little ashen at the thought of his beloved student's self sacrifice for the village.

"Do you think we should increase the patrols around the village in case they do decide to come in here just like the time Itachi and Kisame did, about three years ago?" Tsunade still remembered the intense operation she had personally monitored on Kakashi because of the intense trauma his brain had gone through under Itachi's Mangekyou.

"That would probably be a good idea, but even though these two are strong, undoubtedly, I don't think that they are as strong as Itachi or Kisame. Their Duo is the most infamous of them all. You can rest assure that the chances of them waltzing in here unannounced are at best really low, but if those two are spotted anywhere in Fire country, I suggest you send a strong team to deal with them immediately," Jiraiya's seriousness was already a sign that these two were bad business, Tsunade nodded and decided to bring up this issue in the meeting she had that evening with her military advisors.

"You realize that the 10th of October is coming up? Does Naruto know what that day signifies and that Konoha actually celebrates that day as the death of the Kyuubi right?" asked Tsunade, he did not want Naruto to be surprised about anything that involved the Kyuubi, it was a personal matter to the young Uzumaki after all.

"Yeah, he knows all about it, I told him about that when he turned thirteen and he took it quite well for someone as young as him. He did ask me that before he turns seventeen we should tell all the villagers that the Fox is not dead and that he has become the vessel for it," said Jiraiya, a day that he dreaded, a day that was coming up quite fast.

"Do you think we should? How will the villagers take it? I remember that was exactly the reason why sensei wanted to send him away from the village in the first place. I suppose I can do what he asks but it will not be in his best interest. Maybe we should delay the news, he is still new and he will need more time for people to start really seeing him for what he is and not as the fox," said Tsunade rapidly, the lines of worry evident on her face. Jiraiya understood her situation more than most would. Naruto was the first person that she placed her trust in, after decades, she had finally accepted someone as family in hopes that maybe her new family would not give up on her like Nawaki and Dan. Naruto was the only person she had opened herself up to and he had proved to be everything she had expected, it would completely break her if she lost him as well. As for Jiraiya himself, well the boy has taken a part in his heart that nobody had before. He had considered Minato a son and vice-versa due to the fact that the Yondaime had lost his father at a young age. Naruto, who considered Jiraiya like a grand-father, knew that the Toad Sage loved him like he was the hermit's own grandson. For now the only people that Naruto considered family was Jiraiya, Tsunade, and Shizune, and none of them wanted to lose the youngest member of their family because of the arrogance and the stupidity of the villagers and the council.

"Maybe, but this was one of the things that he was most insistent about, I don't think you can stop him even if you tried your best, once he has set his mind to something, you know what happens," said Jiraiya, in a voice that said he had given up trying to go against the blonde jinchuuriki, as he had met failures more times than he cared to count.

"I know, he might resemble his father in looks every possible way, but his personality is a twin to his mother's," Tsunade sighed before taking a deep breath. "Well I have to finish this paperwork, so unless you have some more life threatening issues to discuss, you may leave or I will have to stay awake the rest of the night because Shizune has threatened me that I won't be getting a break until I finish this pile." Jiraiya knew when he needed to be out of his old teammate's path all too well. So he placed the map of Otogakure on Tsunade's desk and pointed out the things that she needed to know.

"Well hime, I hope you enjoy doing that paperwork," said Jiraiya, and jumped out the window before Tsunade threw something at him. As he made his way towards the bar, he saw his student jumping out of one of the windows from the west wing of the hospital. He quickly made his way towards his apprentice; he needed to talk to Naruto before he took off for his mission. "Hey Naruto wait up!" he called as he jumped to the roof top on which Naruto was standing.

"Ah, Ero-sannin what's up?" he asked as Jiraiya landed next to him.

"We need to talk, this is classified," he muttered so Naruto understood the importance of privacy on the matter. He nodded and signaled Jiraiya to follow as he took off towards the place where he was staying; he needed to pack up for his mission anyway. They quickly made their way to Naruto's current home and once they were inside Naruto locked the doors, closed the windows, and made formed a few hand seals so that no one could hear what they were going to discuss.

"What's the matter?" he asked as he went about collecting things that he would need on his mission and dumping them on the bed.

"My spy network is getting closer to discovering more about the Akatsuki, and I think that Pain might be one of my former pupils," said Jiraiya, Naruto froze before he dropped the scrolls he was holding and pulled a chair, dragged it closer to Jiraiya, and sat down facing him, all his attention towards the Toad sage.

"Are you saying that the leader of the organization that is hunting me is one of my own master's students?" asked Naruto, a little note of disbelief creeping into his voice.

"No, the plan for gathering all the Bijuu sprits are not his, as I have said before someone else is controlling him, someone who needs the power of the Akatsuki to get to his goals but has no real ties to the Akatsuki and its ideals," clarified Jiraiya, he and Naruto had already deduced that someone was using the Akatsuki, but had not been able to find what his true identity is. The man was more elusive than any ninja Jiraiya had come across before, and his strength was above any ninja that they have heard of before right now. Jiraiya had said that the man's power was on par with the Shodaime Hokage, perhaps the strongest ninja Konoha had ever had. Many believed that the Yondaime Hokage was the strongest ninja in Konoha, but that was a misconception, the Fourth was the best strategist that Konoha had. He was undoubtedly very strong but, in terms of raw power, the Shodaime and the Nidaime over shadowed their successors.

"So what do you plan on doing?" asked the blonde, he had already guessed what the Sannin was going to do but he held his thoughts until after hearing his teacher.

"I will wait, maybe a few months, see if we get any more intel on them but I am planning on infiltration," replied Jiraiya, there was no doubt in his voice. He would do want was needed to be done and right now Akatsuki was posing to be a threat, not just to Konoha or the Fire country, but all the elemental nations. Naruto nodded, he was in fact hoping that Jiraiya was going to say something like that, it was time they truly realized what they were facing against if they wanted to capture Naruto and extract his bijuu.

"What do you want me to do? I really cannot do much other than keep on going as I am," replied Naruto, he was hoping that Jiraiya was going to suggest a way for him to train to his max without making the people in Konoha realize that he was a jinchuuriki.

"Take your training seriously, master the Black ops techniques to the best of your abilities. Make Kakashi realize that choosing to teach you was not a mistake, and once you have learned all that I will have Paa Fukasaku reverse teleport you to Myoboku to restart your training with the Fox chakra, this time full on, no limits. I will contact Bee as well and see if he is willing to finish your training, after all he has full control of the octopus," Jiraiya muttered the last part, if there was any one strong enough to face this mystery man that was using the Akatsuki, right now that was Killer Bee, the current Raikage's adopted brother. Naruto's grin was of that a child in a candy shop that was giving out free all you can eat candy.

"What about this mission, I would feel a lot better if you came instead of this Tenzo guy that Baa-chan chose to lead us. I can't help but feel that I am putting my teammates in danger because you clearly know how strong Orochimaru is and Sasuke has only improved from what he was. Even Kabuto fights on a level well beyond that of any chuunin. I know that me and Tenzo is probably on par with them, but what about the Chuunins that are coming with us, they have never fought enemies of this caliber, I doubt any young ninjas of this village has," said Naruto in a serious voice, and the worry on his face was enough for Jiraiya to realize just how much he has come to care for the new friends and comrades he has made in Konoha. It also gave Jiraiya immense pleasure in realizing that even though Naruto was a fearsome Shinobi, he still had the heart of a human, and never had he lost sight that humanity came before everything for Shinobis were there to protect humanity and balance in this world. "By the way do you know anything about Tenzo?"

"Yes, a very good ANBU captain and shinobi. He is the one with the Mokuton ability, the only survivor of the cloning process that ended in a disaster as all of them dies except for one," said the Toad Sannin. "He was handpicked and taught by Kakashi in the ways of the Black ops and later became very close friends. I am sure he is more than capable of keeping your friends safe."

"You mean the last Mokuton user in the world is in our team! Awesome, I have got to meet him, man I had been dying to see some cool techniques that were invented by Shodaime himself, this is going to be amazing!" shouted Naruto in glee as he jumped up and down.

"Don't worry kid, I am pretty sure you all will be fine, maybe you will even succeed in this mission," said Jiraiya and Naruto snorted at the absurdity of Jiraiya's suggestion. They had refrained from telling it to Tsunade but the chance of success on this mission was next to nil. There were too many unknown factors to effectively form a counter team. Short of a small army there was very little chance that they will be able to bring back Sasuke alive and without dying themselves.

"You know, I am not worried as much about Sasuke or Kabuto as I am worried about the Sound Four. They took out the Konoha nins without much trouble when they had tried to retrieve Sasuke before, and I know for a fact that in the past years Orochimaru had not let them sit idle and get fat, they have been training just as much as Sasuke. Their skills have grown too, if they are there then…" Naruto trailed off as if he had this discussion before and needn't complete his thoughts for Jiraiya to know what he is thinking.

"If they are then they will die," said Jiraiya with certainty that Naruto had rarely seen in him before. Jiraiya noticed Naruto's unconvinced expression and quickly continued. "Tell me Naruto, have you ever fought one of them before, just one on one?" asked Jiraiya as a small smirk crept on his face. Naruto's brows met in a frown and he shook his head, Jiraiya knew he had never actually gone up against those infamous ninjas before. "But I have, and frankly their notoriety is overrated. I could compare them to the weakest member of the Akatsuki and they still won't stand a chance. I have fought them, all of them against me, and I had breathing room. I have fought you one on one and you nearly beat me to death when you unleashed your four-tailed form with complete control. Trust me kid, against you, they really have no hope. Orochimaru's ability to make jutsus is still gone; you can be thankful for that, and probably the only reason why Tsunade is not sending me out there with you. And finally Gaki, at least humiliate the Uchiha before retreating, show him that his Kekkei Genkai blood is not everything. You, for example, are strong enough to be considered a genius but you are no master mind at jutsus, you just keep trying until you get it down, and that shows that no genius can over shadow a hard worker," Jiraiya finished and he still remembered the day when he had finally surpassed Orochimaru by beating him four times in a row in an all out sparring match, much to Sarutobi as well as Tsunade's surprise.

Naruto nodded a she got back up and packed the things he had been collecting on the bed into three pocket-sized scrolls before pulling out a very ANBU style suit and armor that Kakashi had given him a couple days earlier. The only difference between a traditional ANBU uniform and this suit was that instead of a sleeveless vest it consisted of a full sleeved leather armor, and unlike the gray colors in the ANBU outfit, this one was completely black. "Who gave you that armor, it is almost identical to the standard issue ANBU uniform!" exclaimed Jiraiya, already guessing who was behind this 'gift' to Naruto.

"It was real nice of Kakashi-sensei to get me this new armor, don't you think? My old one was nearly destroyed after half that cave in Suna collapsed on me," said Naruto in a happy tone, admiring the stunningly tailored suit, it was made of top quality armor material but was amazingly very flexible and light.

"Yeah, real nice," muttered Jiraiya, he never really liked that Kakashi, even though he did get into Jiraiya's good graces when Jiraiya found out that it was none other than Minato's favorite pupil that was the number one fan of his famous Icha Icha series. He also gave Kakashi a five-year free supply of any new releases that occurred but he did not like the extra fawning that the silver haired scare-crow was doing around his Godson. "Are you ready?" asked the white haired Sannin as he saw Naruto walk out of the bathroom, donned in the new armor, and looking quite dapper for that matter. Naruto nodded as he finished tying the Konoha headband on his forehead. Together they headed out towards the Konoha gate where Naruto will be leaving in fifteen minutes.

Much to Naruto's surprise, all his new friends were at the gate when he arrived. He noticed Sai was leaning against the wall, a little farther than the rest of the group with Ino fussing over his sword that was strapped to his back. Choji, Shikamaru, Kiba, and Lee were talking with Sakura, while Hinata, Neji, and Tenten were discussing something among themselves. He also noticed a masked ANBU crouched on top of the wall looking towards the horizon but his body language said that he was aware of everything that was happening in his vicinity. Jiraiya had taken to the road once he had noticed that Tsunade with two ANBU was making her way towards the gates along with her assistant Shizune carrying the pig Tonton.

Naruto jumped down from the roof that he was observing, directly in front of Neji and Tenten, beside a more than a little shocked Hinata. "Hey guys, what's the get together for?" he asked with a smile.

"Well we just came to see you guys off; you know make sure you beat Sasuke up even if you can't bring him back. Last time we met him, he and his Sound friends nearly killed all of us, we wouldn't have a chance without Shikamaru's quick thinking and the Sand trio coming to the rescue at just the right time. The bastard nearly ripped Lee's limbs off!" shouted Kiba, there was anger and contempt in his voice showing a deep seated resentment towards the man that he once considered a friend and ally. Naruto noticed all that but kept his thoughts to himself because he knew that there was a medic among them that still shared deep feelings for this remorseless Uchiha.

"Yes Uzumaki, in this we all agree with the Inuzuka. The Uchiha must be dealt with for deserting his village and attacking fellow shinobis and allies. It is true that we know you for a very small amount of time but your dedication towards this village and your endearing antics have earned a place among all our hearts," said Neji without a hint of emotion on his voice or his face. Yet, the people who knew Neji had their jaws lying on the floor, he had never shown a hint of emotion towards anyone, this was probably the first time that they remembered when Neji had even spoken of feelings and emotions. Naruto on the other hand wondered how someone could talk about their feelings with this much stoicism. "Konoha sure was a place of strange people, amazing, funny, great…but weird." The blonde jinchuurikis thoughts came to an end when Tsunade, along with her little party, strode towards them with a ferocious and determined expression on her face. Every one quieted immediately and every one stood a little straighter in the presence of their leader, Tenzo had jumped down and was standing near the wall, his head was pointed towards the Hokage but it was hard to tell where he was looking with his mask on.

"Team Seven, Assemble!" she shouted and Naruto, Sakura, Sai, and Tenzo immediately responded. Tenzo stood in front of the group, directly facing Tsunade with the rest were in kneeling positions, behind him, their heads bowed in respect towards the leader of the Konoha and its shinobis. All the other shinobis stood in attention; nobody had dared to play the slacker card in front of Tsunade after she had beaten a newly promoted Chuunin through three apartments when she had taken her position as Hokage over two years ago. He still couldn't walk without a crutch, and his career as a shinobi was quite over.

"Tenzo, take off your mask. In this mission you will be Yamato, this is not an ANBU mission so everyone under you is your responsibility, take care of them. You have all the information and mission details from Jiraiya and you know what the objective is. MOVE OUT!" Tsunade ordered and four blurs moved into the trees, as it appeared to those standing at the entrance gates.

Hey guys, how was New Year's? Wow it has been so long since I posted! Anyway to tell the truth I had very little motivation to write the next chapter. Why? Because I got Skyrim and Skyward Sword for Christmas and they had occupied my time for more hours than I care to count. Btw, the games were awesome and I still haven't beaten either, so I will be spending more time with them. Plus my computer was all funky and I thought of getting a new one, but I won't until I know for sure that this one is down for the count. Anyway, I was really impressed with the number of reviews I got for the previous chapter, seems like people are starting to notice my story. Woohoo for me! Well here's the next chapter and I am open to ideas guys, any and all would be really helpful, plus I am starting on a new story so ideas for that will be very much appreciated and welcome too. If you want to discuss the story in greater detail, just shoot me a P.M. and plz plz plz review!