Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto

...

Naruto blinked a couple of times, trying to comprehend whether or not he had heard this woman correctly. Slowly he came to the realization that his ears weren't deceiving him before the blonde chef took a seat on the ground opposite the heavily restrained prisoner and said the first thing that was on his mind.

"Why?"

This put Tayuya on the back foot momentarily as she realized that the boy in front of her was actually refusing sex without much of a second thought. Weren't all teenage boys ragging bags of hormones that simply wanted to fuck everything with a hole between its legs? Shaking her head momentarily, she focused her attention back on the blond who was looking her in the eye.

She tried to say something but found that her voice became caught in her throat as the red haired woman tried to figure out the answer to Naruto's question. That was until her impulsiveness kicked in once again as she started swearing at the kid in front of her. "For fuck's sake kid, I just want you to ram that dick of yours up me like I'm a fucking cock sleeve," she cursed.

"That's not a reason," said Naruto not backing down in this matter.

"What's the big deal brat, I offer to tell all my secrets to the village and all I want in compensation is for you to take appendage A and place it in socket B repeatedly and as hard as you fucking can, it's not that bloody complicated!"

"It's not going to happen," said the chef. "Before you shout and scream again, I'm going to go out and play the good guy card straight away and before you say anything the good guy is not the one who sleeps with every woman who asks him to. Things are a bit complicated right now and you having been a part of the group that killed my grandfather figure isn't the best of starts. That however doesn't mean that I'm just going to say no straight away. Everyone deserves a second chance and while yours may take a while to come through it will come, one way or another."

"So what am I meant to do, sit here and wait for months on end as you figure out what to do with me?" asked Tayuya as Naruto got to his feet.

"That's exactly what's going to happen," said Naruto. "It won't be months or even weeks more likely than not. I'll come back in a few days to see if your attitude has changed and we can just sit and talk, think you can do that?"

Tayuya couldn't help but be infuriated by Naruto's words but she remained silent on the matter as her rage boiled internally. Without another word, Naruto left the cell which was quickly locked up moments later by the ANBU on guard. While they had heard the conversation they knew better than to get on Naruto's bad side.

Reaching the exit of the prison, Naruto was about to exit before he could hear Tayuya's scream of frustration resonate through the building, sending many of the other inmates into an uproar. Making a mental note to bring silencing seals for his next visit, Naruto left hoping that next time they met they could have a civil conversation.

Shielding his eyes from the setting sun, Naruto had expected to meet Jiraiya out here but knew that it was kind of a false hope as now was one of the best viewing times for the hot springs. Part of him wanted to get the white haired man into deep trouble but with his path blocked by a blonde haired woman chances were he would possibly be preoccupied later. "Can I help you?" asked Naruto trying to be courteous while hoping that this chat went a hell of a lot better than his last one.

"You're the one who helped my brother, right?" asked Temari as she looked at the boy who was a few inches shorter than her.

"Ah you mean Gaara, yea I guess you could say I put him on the right track," said Naruto sheepishly before he found himself in Temari's grasp, the older girl hugging him with all her might.

"Thank you so much," she said as tears of joy trailed down her cheeks.

"Uhh...no problem?" said Naruto more as a question than anything.

Composing herself, Temari released her hold before wiping the tears from her face, muttering something about how a good shinobi should never show their emotions in doing so before facing Naruto. "My brothers and I are leaving in two days time, Gaara seems to have fallen in love with your cooking," she said.

"I guess it does have that effect first time round," said Naruto recalling the first time he had ever tried the delicacy that he now made on a daily basis.

"Before I go however, I want to thank you for what you did for my family," said Temari. "Would you like to join me for breakfast tomorrow morning, there's a cafe near the hotel I'm staying at that I've been dying to go to but since neither of my brothers wanted to go I wasn't going to go and sit by myself."

"Breakfast...thank god," said Naruto with a sigh of relief which made Temari question if she was missing an inside joke of some kind. "Sure, I'll be there at eight."

"Sounds great, see you then," said Temari as she leaped away before her emotions got the better of her once again.

Naruto merely smiled at nothing for a while before his mood deflated very quickly, knowing that he needed to talk to somebody soon, something that neither Jiraiya nor Kakashi could help with. Knowing that he'd be busy for several hours yet, Naruto jumped off towards one of the training grounds, hoping some meditation would help clear his mind.

...

"I just can't catch a break," said Naruto with his head held in his hands. The sun had long since set and the ramen chef had made his way to his other business where Sasuke had been working. Due to the quietness of the casino Sasuke had opted to close early just so that he and Naruto could have a chat without any distractions. "If any of the other girls see me I'm dead."

"I remember what it was like when I was in the academy, somehow though I think you have it just that little bit tougher than I do," said Sasuke sympathetically. "From the sounds of it though, the stuff I went through was child's play compared to yours."

"You'll get yours one day," said Naruto as he lifted up his face. "I'm actually happy I have you to talk to about this kind of stuff, if I went to either Kakashi or Jiraiya I'll be asked for details...lots of details."

"I would've thought that against either of those two you could have made a grand escape out of a situation like that," said Sasuke which earned a slanted eyebrow from Naruto. "I'm just saying that for a Jonin level shinobi Kakashi hasn't actually shown anything that has really blown me out of the water. Plus from my experience with Jiraiya, I can't actually ever see him getting riled up for a fight when there's hot springs nearby."

"That's cause you've never seen either of them when they got serious," said Naruto with a chuckle. "Pretty sure me and Kakashi could go toe to toe, he'd win in the end just from experience. Jiraiya though, he's on another level altogether. Thought you would've learned that from training with Tsunade."

"Perhaps if I'd done any training with her I could compare," said Sasuke with a scoff. "So far all I've done so far is spar with her attendant on a daily basis."

"And this hasn't been beneficial to you?" asked Naruto with a cheeky smirk.

"Well...it has...it's not quite what I was after though," said Sasuke who had been looking for a get strong quick scheme. As he looked back on the previous days and his training sessions he couldn't doubt that he had gotten stronger but more importantly he had learned what weaknesses he had. Shizune was brutal in her training and whenever the Uchiha would repeat a mistake from the previous day, Tsunade's apprentice would strike with full force in an attempt to break him out of bad habits. Thinking about it, it wasn't that his peak strength was increasing but rather his negatives were being removed, making him a more balanced fighter.

"Sometimes it's better to not be given what we expect," said the blond chef as he drank from his glass before running his hands through his hair. "I don't wanna go home tonight, I know they're all going to be there waiting for me."

"You're sounding like a spoiled child," said Sasuke while he topped up Naruto's glass before leaving the sake bottle on the table knowing that it was going to get more use yet. "I might be able to give you some good news however, wait here a second and I'll show you our finance reports."

Naruto couldn't help but smile at that. Knowing all of the discounts he'd have to be giving those who helped rebuild his ramen stand a bit of extra cash in the pocket would be quite helpful. With Sasuke in his office, Naruto couldn't help but expel a sigh before rubbing his eyes. There was a chance, just a small chance, that he may be able to get into bed tonight without the company of any of the girls. This however was all provided on the chance that either Tenten or Sakura refused to have Kin stay with him alone. The counter balance of this however was the possibility that either or potentially both of the Genin stayed at Naruto's, an idea which made the blond want to tear out his hair. Possibly the best option was considering how late in the evening it was that all of those who could potentially stay within his house had already gone to bed and would permit him to get some well deserved rest without potential distractions. It wasn't because he didn't like their company by any means, Naruto just didn't want to see his actions appear in the next book that Jiraiya published.

Lifting his head, Naruto's ears picked up the sound of two people standing at the doorway to the casino despite the fact the business had been closed for the better part of half an hour. Part of him simply wanted to tell them to head home but without even looking he could feel the power radiating behind him. Reaching over the counter, Naruto's fingers managed to cling onto a couple of clean cups that he placed on the bar top before pouring the uninvited guest a couple of drinks.

"Oh, I didn't expect our target to be so hospitable," said one of the two as they sat down next to Naruto, a blue hand reaching forward and picking the glass up from the table.

"It could be poison," countered Naruto not taking his eyes off of his own drink.

"Could be," they said casually as they drank away, relatively happy to not being treated as the criminal that he was. "I doubt you would have just kept a bottle of poison in front of you for shits and giggles however."

"True that," said Naruto as he drank from his own glass. "Considering you haven't made an attempt to kill me yet you're just here to observe for the moment."

"We can always try and kill you if you wish," they said with a toothy smile.

"That's enough Kisame," said the cold voice of the man who had not yet taken of his drink. "Try not to divulge our secrets and more than necessary."

"Oh," said Naruto while he spun on his stool to face Kisame's partner, the drink still firmly held in his hand. "I think I managed to get all of the information I needed already."

"Believe what you will," they replied with cold red eyes staring into Naruto's. "It seems as if your time being retired has not dulled your senses."

"Retired? I merely changed occupations," said Naruto in a joking manner. "Being within the walls of Konoha would give me the greatest protection was what I had thought. Even with the amount of strength each of you members of Akatsuki have, you'd still have to think twice before taking on the 'will of fire.'"

"Do you truly believe that anybody in this village can stop us?" asked Kisame.

"Yes," said Naruto confidently which caused the man Naruto was looking at to raise an eyebrow, if only the smallest of fractions.

"May I know the name of the one who you believe can stand toe to toe against me?" they asked, wondering if there was somebody else that their organization should be keeping tabs on.

"Konoha." A pause ran through the air momentarily before Kisame burst into laughter, even going as far as to pat Naruto on the shoulder as if they were old drinking buddies. His ally however merely stood there, no emotion being shown across his features while the blond took a sip of his drink before continuing. "If I hazarded a guess, possibly Jiraiya or Tsunade could possibly be enough to handle you one on one. If everybody was fighting as one cohesive unit however, you wouldn't stand a chance. Not even someone like you, Uchiha Itachi."

"This theory of yours, I'd like to test it," said Kisame as his hand reached up for where the hilt of his sword rest.

"Kisame," said Itachi coldly, warning his partner to not do anything foolish. The attitude within the air however changed dramatically when one person reentered the central floor of the building.

"I...ITACHI!" shouted Sasuke in anger as his eyes fell upon his older brother, the papers he had been holding falling to the floor by his feet. Without a second thought, Sasuke pounced forward intent on eradicating his last remaining family member with his own hands. He didn't get far however before he found himself slammed into the floor by the one person in the room he had thought least likely to do so.

"Sasuke," said Naruto in a menacing tone, installing a bit of fear into the Uchiha beneath him. "No."

"No?" shouted Sasuke in his rage, looking up at his brother while trying to push Naruto off of him without any luck in doing so. Naruto watched however as black markings began to crawl across Sasuke's skin, the Uchiha not even seeming to notice that it was happening. "He killed my family and you just want me to sit here and look at him."

"And he will kill you in a heartbeat if you attack him now," said Naruto as he held Sasuke in place.

"I'll kill him myself!"

"Get a hold of yourself!" shouted Naruto as he grabbed the back of Sasuke's head and thrust the Uchiha's face into the floor. "He massacred your family and if you even move from this spot then chances are that your tombstone will be placed next to your father's within the hour. You cannot take him on, I will not watch as you throw away your life."

Sasuke didn't say anything as tears of frustration began to swell within his eyes, being able to read in between the lines of what Naruto was saying, that he was weak. "Congratulations," said Itachi who still hadn't moved from the doorway. "You managed to save my brother's life."

"Shut up you," said Naruto turning his attention back to Itachi. "We could fight you now, hell we may even be able to beat you. The number of lives however that will die in the process is not something I want hanging upon my shoulders. You and Sasuke will fight, it is his right and his right alone. It will not however be here or now."

Kisame got to his feet, his grip upon his blade tightening as he felt anxious for the battle that could shortly occur. "Kisame, we're leaving," said Itachi as he turned his back to those on the floor.

"Just when it was going to get interesting," said Kisame as he visibly deflated, upset with the way the trip turned out.

"Wait!" shouted Sasuke as he managed to get his face out of the carpet. Itachi paused midstep as he looked over his shoulder at his younger brother whose hatred was marked upon his features. "Itachi, I swear, I will kill you."

"I look forward to the day we cross once more," said Itachi before he vanished, Kisame dispersing just as quickly.

Naruto released a sigh of relief as he released his hold on the Uchiha beneath him only for Sasuke to twist around and grab Naruto by the scruff of his jacket. "Why didn't you let me kill him?" shouted Sasuke, the cursed seal still spread across his skin.

"I remember when Itachi defeated Orochimaru, the guy who not only just killed the Sandaime but also defeated you if that seal upon your skin is anything to go by," said Naruto, his face showing only the slightest bit of disappointment within his eyes.

"What...how did you know?" asked Sasuke in disbelief as he forced the markings to recede back into the seal upon his neck.

"You're not the only one who Orochimaru has marked and you won't be the last," said Naruto as he ran his fingers through his hair, Sasuke releasing his hold on the blond. "He marked you because he believes that your hatred for Itachi will lead you to him."

Sasuke didn't say anything as he thought about the marking that Orochimaru had given him. Would he potentially toss away all connections with the village just for the power to defeat Itachi? As much as it left a bad taste in his mouth he couldn't truly deny that he would give up such a chance.

"Let me tell you something though which may suede your mind," said Naruto lifting up three fingers. "Number one, Orochimaru became strong in Konoha. Number two, Itachi became strong in Konoha. Number three, you will become strong in Konoha."

Sasuke slowly took all of this in, even though he had had a lot of expectation put on him by his peers and seniors never had anyone actually gone out and stated that he would get the strength he was after. His moment of reprieve allowed Naruto to place a comforting hand on Sasuke's shoulder. "Three years," said Naruto.

"Three years?" repeated Sasuke unsure what Naruto was referring to.

"We need to get strong enough to fight against everything Akatsuki have to offer in three years," said Naruto before realising he may have said too much.

"Akatsuki?" asked Sasuke quickly picking up on the word he was unfamiliar with.

Running his fingers through his hair, Naruto knew that he made a crucial error but one that would likely needed to have been revealed further down the track especially with the path that Sasuke had been likely to take. "You saw that Kisame and Itachi were wearing the same outfit right?" asked Naruto to which he received an affirmative nod. "That outfit is the getup of the Akatsuki, a group of 'S' ranked criminals. If you want to go against Itachi you're going to be making a lot of powerful enemies."

Sasuke swallowed nervously at that. Thinking over all of the fights he had been in the only one that had been against somebody from the Bingo book had been the scuffle with the Demon Brothers back at the start of the mission to Wave. He had learned from Kakashi that they were classified in the Bingo Book as being 'C' ranked, the lowest rank given. Knowing what his brother was capable of, becoming enemies with a league of people consisting of similar strength seemed like a one way ticket to hell.

"Even with Jiraiya's spy system in place, we don't know how many members Akatsuki have nor do we know their objective but we believe that they will be acting soon, hence the three year time limit," lied Naruto. He could go on to explain that soon they would start hunting down Jinchuriki but he wasn't going to go blabbing on about how he would be a target because of the fox that was sealed within him. "Considering their standards though, having had members like Orochimaru and Itachi among their ranks, we can hope that they only have around six or seven members but that may be wishful thinking. All we know is that nobody is really safe from them. If we'd actually fought those two from before, chances are Konoha may not even exist anymore."

Sasuke raised a hand to his head as he began to realize the foolishness of his actions and couldn't help but internally thank Naruto for stopping him. "What should I do?" he asked.

"Keep training with Shizune for now, every bit counts in the end," said Naruto as he started walking towards the exit. "I'll figure something out by the end of the week."

"Cheers, and best of luck with your date tomorrow morning," said Sasuke waving to his business partner.

"I'm going to need it," said Naruto putting on a fake smile. "Don't tell anybody about what happened tonight, after the death of the third the last thing everyone needs to hear is that more of Konoha's criminals are back. I'll see you around."

Watching as the door closed, Sasuke went to the bar where the glass of sake originally meant for Itachi remained. While he wasn't really one for drinking, at least not yet, he couldn't help but feel the need to calm his nerves. At first the liquid burned as it travelled down his throat but he forced his way past the initial pain before he looked at the remaining liquor and in turn the reflection of himself.

Activating his Sharingan, Sasuke compared his eyes to that of his brother noticing first and foremost that there was a tomoe missing meaning that the two of them didn't even share the same eyes. That was only the tip of the iceberg however and Sasuke had begun to realize that. While he had trained in speed in order to be able to combat Gaara in the Ch┼źnin exams much how Lee had in the preliminaries. When Naruto had forced him to the ground however he hadn't even been able to see the chef's movements, showing the difference in skill between the two of them. Yet while Sasuke had been full of rage towards his brother he had been able to feel something from the hand that held him to the ground. Naruto had been shaking, only the slightest of margins and Sasuke couldn't help but wonder if the teenager was shaking because of fear. If Naruto was afraid of Itachi, considering the strength difference between the two of them Sasuke should have been petrified yet he had been blinded by his hate and anger.

When the two Uchiha brothers met once again Sasuke swore he would not allow his emotions to control his actions.

He would be victorious.

...

Outside the village walls, Kisame and Itachi walked in silence although from time to time the Uchiha could hear his partner grumble under his breath. Unseen by the former member of the Seven Swordsman however, was the smallest of smiles upon Itachi's lips.

...

Hope you enjoyed.

Been a while I know but I've been working on my collaboration project for Team Dragon Star called 'Failings and Misunderstandings.' Give it a read if you want to read some more of my Naruto work.

Bfg10k17: I can't really answer all of your questions otherwise I'll ruin the story. One that I will answer is "He knows so many people on a personal level. Reasons?" His social life (outside of the constant flirting and sex) is pretty much run by the regular customers who come into his bar on a daily basis. From my experience in the hospitality industry, after seeing the same people day in day out you get to know them on a personal level even if you don't mean to. Not sure if this is the same for everybody who works in hospitality but for my country pub yes, yes it was.

Until next time.

Peace