Summary- Sequel to Team Psych. The enemy of my enemy is my friend, therefore the enemy of my friend is my enemy. Naruto just never thought he'd have to look at Danzo that way.
A/n This is more of a thank you than an A/n. I forgot to thank one very important person in my thank you's at the end of Team Psych and I feel just awful about it. So, Nex-thanarak, thank you so much for helping me with this. My story would have fallen completely flat without your help. So, thank you.
Chapter 1- Six Months
One month after chunin exams
Jiraiya, Shikamaru and Sakura had just gotten back from their mission to bring home Tsunade, and, thanks to a brilliant new jutsu Sakura was trying to create, they succeeded in convincing the female sanin to come home and be hokage. A fact they were all relieved by. Including Ibiki who was willing to try bringing the new hokage in on their little infiltration mission which had been going on for just under a month. It was an interesting experience to say the least.
"So... Let me see if I have this straight." Tsunade slowly said to the tense members of team psych, including their sensei, while Jiraiya backed her up, "You four took it upon yourselves to start an unsanctioned infiltration mission into the heart of Danzo's organization. Regardless of the fact that this action could, potentially, lead to civil war?"
The four team members shifted uncomfortably until Ibiki took it upon himself to answer, "Hai Hokage-sama, nut we didn't feel it was something that could wait. Naruto only had a brief window of opportunity to enter Danzo's organization without it being suspicious, and he would have a better chance of spreading whatever knowledge he gained if there was a team backing him. And we took every precaution we could think of to prevent civil war. Including putting into place ways for Naruto to appear to have gone rogue."
The Fifth quirked an eyebrow, "And you didn't tell my predecessor about this... why?"
This time it was Naruto who bravely spoke up, "That was my fault Hokage-sama. I don't trust the Third, particularly with this matter. He hasn't done anything about Danzo in years, and this wouldn't be the first time he let someone he cared about get away with murder. I thou-"
"Watch your tongue brat!", Jiraiya straightened in anger, "You cannot even begin to compare to sensei so you had better speak of him with more respect!"
"Stand down Jiraiya!" Tsunade barked, "I know it's never fun to hear bad things about a loved one, but Naruto is right. Sensei had a chance to take down Oro years ago, but he didn't because he couldn't bear the thought of killing someone he loved, and now look at the mess that snake has caused." She turned back to team psych, "I understand your reasoning, but if you ever pull a stunt like this again, I'll have you jailed. Got it?"
They all saluted and said in chorus, "Hai! Hokage-sama!"
The Godaime winced and waved them down, "Uug, I don't think I'll ever get used to that. Now Naruto tell me what you've got so far."
The blond boy nodded, "I'm still just scratching the surface of root , but from what I can see Danzo-" Naruto's voice went mute even as his mouth continued to try and form the words. When he realized his voice was silent he stopped, thought for a moment then turned to Tsunade, "Do you have a piece of paper I can use?"
The Fifth was confused but obligingly gave him what he had asked for. Naruto started writing as soon as he got the paper and as he wrote he spoke, "So sensei made me go to my fathers house a few.. um .. weeks ago..." Naruto winced and the pen on the paper slipped, before he pulled himself back together and started writing again, "But I didn't find much, aside from the hirashin that is." Everyone in the room straightened in surprise and interest, but the interest soon turned to concern as the Uzumaki dropped the pen and clutched his head in pain.
The Godaime immediately went over to Naruto and did a diagnostic jutsu, "I don't understand. You're acting like you're in a great deal of pain, but I can't find anything wrong with you."
"And you won't. I'm fine." Naruto said.
Then the blond boy handed the paper he'd been writing on over to Tsunade. She read through it once and allowed her eyes to widen, before she read it again out loud, "I have a seal on my tongue. I can't talk of... rot?"the Fifth paused and looked over at Naruto, "I assume you meant to say root there?"
The Uzumaki nodded, "That was my first wince."
The Godaime nodded and resumed reading, "can write but when I think about it it hur-" here the writing trailed off into a black slash on the paper. That was the end of the note. The blond woman looked over at Naruto and asked, "Can you nod or shake your head without it hurting?"
The blond boy shrugged, "I don't know, I've never tried."
"We're going to try it then." Tsunade said, "I'm going to ask you yes or no questions, if it starts to hurt too much to answer them then stop. Alright?" Naruto nodded and the Fifth continued, "Okay, Do you have a seal on your tongue that makes it impossible for you to say anything about root?" the Uzumaki nodded.
"Okay," the Hokage said, "Next question, you can write information about root but you can't think about what or, maybe, why your writing it without it hurting?" the blond boy thought for a minute then nodded. "Did answering those questions hurt?"
Naruto paused tilted his head from side to side and then tried to speak, "It's like writing, I can't think about it."
Tsunade looked thoughtful, "Good to know. Naruto please show Jiraiya your seal." Jiraiya stepped forward and the Uzumaki stuck his tongue out as far as it could go and showed the white-haired sanin the top of it.
"Remarkable." Jiraiya said, "It's beautifully complex. A true work of art."
The Fifth rolled her eyes, "Yes I'm sure it is Jiraiya, but keep in mind that that lovely seal is making it harder for one of my spies to give me vital information."
The white-haired sanin looked suitably chastised, "Sorry. I think I can figure out how to remove it, but it will take time. I'll also need to come up with a dummy seal so that Danzo won't find out."
"Make that a priority Jiraiya." the Godaime said then turned back to Naruto, "Now, what was that you were saying about the hirashin?"
The blond boy's face was blank in confusion before it brightened in comprehension, "Oh! Right, I found the full hirashin seal but you have to be a lightning elemental to use it. For me it's useless. Plus I can't tell Danzo I have it or he'll find a way to steal it from me and teach it to someone who can use it."
Tsunade shuddered at the thought of such a powerful jutsu falling into Danzo's hands, "Well it is a shame you can't use it. But, I want you to guard the secret of that seal with your life Naruto. No one must be allowed to find out about it."
Naruto nodded, and the sound of a throat clearing brought the attention of all back to the other three members of team psych. Especially Shikamaru, since he was the one that cleared his throat, "With your permission Hokage-sama, I'd like to study the hirashin seal and see if I can adjust it to work for a wind elemental."
The Fifth's eyebrows rose in surprise, "Do you think you have the skill to pull off such a thing?"
The Nara shrugged, "No clue, but I've been studying seals since I became a genin and for the last two months I've had the personal training of Ero-sennin in them. I still have a long way to go till mastery, but having the chance to study the hirashin would improve my skill even if I do fail in altering it."
The Godaime hmmed in thought before saying, "I will allow this, but you must swear that that jutsu will never be found because of you."
The shadow user nodded, "I so swear."
Tsunade smiled, "Good, Naruto, as soon as you can, turn the hirashin scroll over to Shikamaru for safe keeping."
"Hai." the blond boy said, as he pulled out a sealing scroll and tossed it to Shikamaru, "It's sealed in there."
"Now that that's settled," the Fifth said, "let's make sure every contingency is in place to keep Naruto safe." For the next several hours the six shinobi did just that.
A few days later Shikamaru's calm observation of the clouds was broken when Naruto groaned, "I don't know what to do. I've been with Danzo for almost a month now and haven't made any progress. He still doesn't trust me at all."
Sakura put a comforting hand over his, "Don't worry Ruto. We all knew earning his trust would take time. You just need to be patient."
The Uzumaki shook his head in frustration, "Time won't fix this! I'm not making any progress with Danzo because I still have ties outside of Root."
"O-oh." the Haruno stuttered, "So, you need to have a falling out with Shika and I to go deeper?"
"That's what it look like." the blond sighed, "Only I didn't realize this until today so I've been blowing off Danzo's attempts to pull me away from you, after all, I'm not about to give up my only link to sanity. How are we going to convince him that I hate you when there is nothing that can be used to create tension between us?"
The Nara's eyes tracked a particularly interesting cloud as he thought over his friends conundrum. This unofficial mission of theirs was just plain irritating more often than not. He glanced over at Naruto and blinked as an idea wormed its way into his thoughts. It would be effective, if he could do it without getting himself hung. Still, he thought it might be worth the risk. With a grunt the shadow user sat up and stretched, "I'll think this over and see if I can't come up with something. In the mean time, just keep trying with Danzo."
Naruto gave a nod, "Alright Shika. And speaking of Danzo, Id better get back. If I'm seen talking to you for too long he might start trusting me even less." with that the blond got up and walked away with Sakura heading off soon after.
Shikamaru let himself lay down again, but while his eyes were focused on the clouds his mind was far away on figuring out how to work his plan. It would be a few days before he cloud implement it without it being suspicious, but in the end he knew it would work. Problem solved, he went back to his clouds, he might as well enjoy them while he had the time.
Two days later the bell above the Yamanaka flower shop door tinkled as Shikamaru walked in and headed straight for the mourning flowers and started looking them over. Ino, who had been watching her long time friend came over to him in confusion, "You know Shika, no of these will send the best message to a girl."
The Nara glared at the blond, "These aren't for a girl. I just found out its the anniversary of Naruto's dads death. I thought I'd get him a flower for sympathy."
The girl quirked an eyebrow, "October 13? Wow what lousy day to have a parent die. A lot of people lost parents today so there's not much sym- wait, did you say Naruto's dad? You know who he is?"
The shadow user shrugged, "Yeah and so do you, it's the Fourth."
Ino froze in shock and then burst out laughing, "You really had me going there for a minute. Nice job Shika. So, who are the flowers really for? And by the way I'd go with roses or lilacs for this mystery girl you're trying so hard to hide from me."
Shikamaru growled, "I already told you these aren't for a girl they're for Naruto to put on his father's grave. Now which flower sends a stronger message of sympathy, the carnation or the gladioli?"
"For sympathy I'd go with the white stargazer lily, but if you want to express grief then the chrysanthemum is best." the blond said absentmindedly then continued, "You're serious aren't you? You really do think that blond loudmouth is the son of our greatest Kage."
The Nara shook his head, "I don't think, I know. I was the first person Naruto told when he found out and now I want to do something to help him through his grief."
The girl quirked a brow, "Even if you are telling the truth, it seems like Naruto would have grieved over the loss of his parents a long time ago."
"The nameless, faceless, idea of parents maybe, but it's hard to grieve for the loss of people you don't know. Now that he knows who his father was, it's like an old scar has been ripped open and is bleeding again. I just want to help my friend get through this." the shadow user said.
"I don't believe this." the Yamanaka whispered, "You do honestly think that Naruto is the Fourth's son. But why? There aren't two more dissimilar people in this village."
Shikamaru snorted, "Oh aren't there? Naruto has already come up with his first original jutsu, and I'm not talking about that idiotic sexy jutsu; but a real, impressive jutsu that I'm willing to do work to learn. He made this jutsu at thirteen, a full two years before the Fourth invented his rasengan. And have you looked at a picture of either of them lately? Their hair and eye color are the exact. Same. Shade. Only genetics can explain that. So yeah I know Naruto is the Yondaime's son. If you don't believe me then go ask our Hokage Tsunade-sama and watch as she tries to deny it but fails. But before you do I'll take a white stargazer lily."
Ino just stared blankly at her long time friend as this knew knowledge was sinking in. Shikamaru used logic to explain this. He only used logic when it was right. Holy crap, Naruto was practically royalty! Oh she couldn't wait to spread this about, but she was brought out of her gossiping plans by Shika asking how much the lily would be, "It's, um, on the house today, and- give my sympathies to Naruto as well." Ino said in a dazed voice. The Nara nodded and walked out of the shop, with the blond waiting until he was out of sight before she rushed out. Oh she couldn't wait to tell someone. This was huge!
Shikamaru watched as Ino scrambled out of the shop with a manic look in her eye and smirked. Objective one complete. Then he headed over to Naruto's apartment and left the flower on the door with a note that read-
'I know this won't make much of a difference with how you feel about your dad, especially on today of all days, but I thought you'd like to know. Your mom's name was Uzumaki Kushina, she died today as well. Kind of a lousy birthday with it being the anniversary of both your parents death's, but I thought that knowing her name might make you feel better. Happy Birthday, and I'm sorry for the loss of your mother.'
Naruto hated his birthday. He hated it with a passion, but this one seemed to be worse than normal. Usually he'd just get thrown out of stores that would normally let him in, and would probably get a few more hateful glares. But this year was different. Several shop keepers had actually come out of their stores and invited him to come and shop there, on his birthday, in public. One had even offered him free stuff!
After heading out of that mainly disturbing situation he ran into one of Sasuke's fangirls and she hit on him instead of just plain hitting him. He shuddered just thinking about that encounter. At the time he hadn't known whether to be confused or horrified. Looking back, he was definitely going for horrified.
He just hoped nothing else weird happened before he could get back to his apartment and hide. It wasn't long after having that thought that Ino marched up to him dragging Sakura behind her, "Naruto! Will you tell forehead that you're the son of the Fourth already. She refuses to believe me and it's really starting to get old."
The blond felt himself go cold in shock, how did Ino know? He thought fast, he needed to convince the Yamanaka that she was mistaken before it span out of control, "Huh? What are you talking about Ino?"
The blond girl rolled her eyes, "Don't even try the whole clueless thing baka, I know its true. Shikamaru told me he found out about your heritage from you, and you can't get much closer to a source than that."
Naruto paled. He couldn't believe it. Surely Shika wouldn't- His parentage was his greatest secret. Shikamaru wouldn't tell a soul, but Ino knew. And as he thought about the strange way many of the villagers were acting he felt his stomach sink with the horrible realization that Ino was probably not the only one to know. She was above all else a gossip, and he had a feeling her tongue had been waging for awhile. He felt ill... betrayed...angry. With a growl he took off, Shikamaru was gonna pay!
In his anger he didn't notice his other teammate trailing after him.
The Nara was wandering the streets waiting for the other shoe to drop when he heard a voice shout, "SHIKAMARU!" He turned just in time to get a fist to his face that sent him flying backwards. As soon as his head stopped spinning he looked up while wiping the blood away from his split lip. In front of him was a seething Naruto. Crushing the small tremor of fear he thought to himself, 'Objective two complete.' Then started to pull himself to his feet, "What was that for?"
The blond was slowly clenching and unclenching his fists in a bid for control as he said, "What was that for! How about for telling the town gossip the secret that I only trusted you with?"
Sakura unwisely chose this moment to cut in, "Wait so you really are the Fourth's son? Why didn't you tell me? I thought we were past all this keeping secrets stuff!"
"Stay out of this Sakura!" Naruto shouted then ignored the hurt look that appeared in her eyes as he turned back to the shadow user, "Do you have any idea what you've done? I've been trying for thirteen years to get out of the Kyuubi's shadow so that the villagers would see me. But thanks to you I now have to pull myself out of the Shadow of the Fourth as well. Now when people treat me well I won't know whether they've finally managed to see past the Kyuubi or whether they're just seeing the Fourth's scion!"
Shikamaru shrugged, "It was going to come out eventually. I figured I'd just let it slip now while it will still help you tame the angry villagers."
"The last thing I want is for the villagers to like me because of a man I hate!" the blond shouted.
The Nara gave the Uzumaki a confused look, "You know you should really cool it. This is a good thing and even if you don't like it the cat's already out of the bag. Besides, It's not like it's a big deal. If anything I've done you a favor."
Naruto gave a shout of rage as he lunged at the shadow user, "I'm gonna kill you!" Shikamaru wisely dodged and took off running, with a murderous jinchuuriki right behind him.
"Wait!" Sakura shouted as she watched her two teammate's take off. With a silent curse she took off after them. She just hoped she could keep her friends from ripping each other apart.
By the time the Haruno caught up to them they were in a clearing outside of Konoha with a growling Naruto caught in Shikamaru's shadow bind. She let out a breath of relief that they weren't fighting yet. But the relief was soon replaced with confusion when the Nara started to talk, "If you'll calm down Naruto I'll tell you why I did what I did."
The blond forced himself to be calmer but he was still shooting a murderous glare at the shadow user, "I'm listening."
Shikamaru sat down on the ground, forcing Naruto to follow as he said, "Remember two days ago when you said Danzo didn't trust you because of us? And that you needed to find a way to make it look like we hated each other?" he paused and waited until the blond nodded before continuing, "Well this is my solution. Now you clearly hate me because I betrayed your trust, and you publicly claimed that you were gonna kill me. Sakura can say she hates you because you never trusted her enough to tell her who your parents were and when she confronted you about it you bit her head off. All in All, it looks like we hate each other, and now Danzo has no reason not to trust you."
The Uzumaki's glare had lost most of it's force, but his eyes were still narrowed, "Alright, I understand your plan, and it's a good plan really, but couldn't you have at least warned me?"
"No." the Nara said, "You better than anyone should know the importance of real emotion. You had to be taken completely off guard or you might not have been convincing enough, and that could have thrown our whole mission into danger. If Danzo thought we were trying to stage a team shattering he would be even more suspicious than before. That's why both you and Sakura couldn't know, it put the mission in too much danger of failing."
Naruto stared at the shadow user for a bit loner before relaxing with a sigh, "You are lucky that I'm in the process of learning how to forgive betrayals, otherwise this really would have been a team shattering."
"So you don't hate me?" Shikamaru asked.
"Hate you? No." the blond said, "But I'm still royally ticked, and don't expect me to trust you with any more personal secrets for awhile. But, well, I still trust you with shinobi secrets. You are my teammate after all, and besides, you care too much about your own neck to risk it by having a loose tongue."
The Nara sighed in relief as he thought, 'Objective three complete. Mission complete.' Then he let the shadow bind fall. Only to feel a punch in the face.
Naruto gave a sigh of relief, "Sorry, I couldn't help myself, but don't worry, I won't attack you again. I just needed to blow off some steam. Sakura, you should probably take a look at his face, I wasn't holding back in either of my punches."
The Haruno rolled her eyes as she headed over to Shikamaru and let her hand get coated in green chakra, "I know I can't really judge you for hitting someone to blow off steam, but I thought I was supposed to be the violent one."
The blond grinned, "Don't worry. You still are, but that doesn't mean we can't sometimes take a meander through your territory. I'm gonna head home. This has been a really weird day and an even weirder birthday. I'm gonna go relax, but I'll send you more info soon." With that Naruto took off leaving Sakura to heal the cracked jaw and massive bruising.
Naruto was staring at his front door,or rather the flower attached to it. He knew it was from Shika they had all long ago memorized the others hand writing so they wouldn't be easily fooled by an imposter. So now, in spite of the lack of signature, he knew who this gift was from. If anything it told him that Shikamaru had meant what he said about it only being a ruse. In a way this note was even an apology. After all he did tell him who his mother was, a piece of information he had lost the clearance to search for after joining Danzo. He felt a small smile come to his face, he was still ticked, but he was learning how to forgive and, if he forgave Shika now it would be easier. So with that goal in mind he headed into his apartment
Four months later
Hinata was steaming. As they ate her father was discussing wether or not they should even try to find another jyuuken instructor for her to see if they could move her beyond the level of hopeless. They spoke of her as if she wasn't even here, or too stupid to understand them. Six months ago she would have taken everything they said to heart, and would have let it beat her down until she lost all her confidence. But that was before she had become friends with Sakura, who taught her that even with her speech impediment her words and ideas were valued. That was before she saw Naruto break and learned that even those who seem strong can be weak.
She had once looked up to her father and thought that he could do no wrong and say no wrong. But she'd learned the danger of putting all her faith in herself on the opinion of one person. Sakura thought she was smart and capable. Everyone in her year thought she was strong. She had come to realize how good she was at jyuuken, to be able to create her own original technique for it at such a young age. The only people who still saw her as the weak child she had been, were the people who should have been the most willing to help her grow, and she was getting tired of taking their crap.
"I think it's time to face the fact that she'll never amount to much as a ninja." the elder said, ""It's fortunate she's at least pretty enough to be bartered for some political strength through an arranged marriage. Perhaps to the lord of the pine county. He's fairly connected."
Hinata's anger froze in it's tracks. The lord of pine country had already had two wives both of which had died under less than innocent circumstances, it was only because of his connections that those two deaths were not openly questioned. Surely her father didn't think so little of her as to pawn her off onto such a monster.
Haishi sat in thought for a moment before nodding, "It would be an advantageous match. Perhaps you would like to be in charge of the arrangements. Hinata is fourteen and-"
Something inside Hinata snapped "NO!" she shouted as she shot to her feet, "I www-will not lettt you mm-ma- marry mme t-to tt-to th-that Monster!" She was out of breath by the time she finished speaking.
The Hyuuga head looked up at his daughter with distain, "Sit down before you humiliate yourself with your lack of knowledge."
"Nnn-no." Hinata said again, "I am tt-tired of y-you t-tt-treat-t-ing me likkke a fffool. I-if yyy-you ww-will nnnot not lissten tto mme I-I wwill ch-ch-ch-challlenge y-you f-for f-for the tttttitle of ccclan head!" her heavy breaths were the only thing that could be heard in the dining room as everyone stared at her in shock.
"I will give you one chance to apologize for your thoughtless words and sit down without any repercussions. I suggest you take it." the Hyuuga head said quietly.
The girl shook her head, "I ww-will not. If y-you will nnnot mmeet my ch-ch-challenge I w-will tt-take this t-to th-the Hokkkage."
Hiashi stood, "I will meet your challenge right now, and when I defeat you, you will marry the lord of pine county without any further argument."
He stood and walked out to the main family's private training ground followed by a fearless Hinata and the rest of the group that had been eating at the table. When they got to the training grounds the clan head turned to his daughter and said, "Watch closely Hinata, I will give you a chance to see what a true ninja looks like before I forever remove you from that profession."
Hinata gave a small smile, "All sh-should www-watch mmme closssely as I ppp-prove I am nnnot w-weak."
The elder who had started all this took it upon himself to be referee, and told the two to prepare themselves. The two combatants activated their Byakugan and the elder stated the rules, "The rules for a battle for the title of clan head are simple. You are only allowed to use Jyuuken. Meaning you can only use pure chakra to attack and defend, no jutsu, including genjutsu. No hard hitting taijutsu either. Use any illegal techniques and you will automatically forfeit and release yourself into the mercy of the clan head. The rules have been stated, begin.
As soon as the match started Hiashi rushed forward palm raised and already glowing with chakra ready to destroy this upstart.
Hinata calmly watched him come and didn't move a muscle. When her father was half way across the arena, her hand twitched, and Hiashi stumbled, then fell. The clan head started to raise himself up with his arms, but again Hinata's hand twitched and Hiashi's arms collapsed pulling him back down with them. With a final twitch of her hand the clan head was out like a light.
For a moment no one moved, then cries of outrage and accusations of fowl play started to fill the air. It was Hinata's grandfather that silenced the cries, "Look at the tenketsu of my sons arms and legs. They're closed. I don't know how but somehow my granddaughter did defeat Hiashi."
They all looked in shock at the proof before them as Hinata's instructor looked over at her in distress, "But how? I trained you, I know you can't do that."
The new clan head gave a delicate snort, "You do not train me. You gave me something to learn and then went off to do your own thing while I floundered. You didn't even ever bother to check on my progress. You just assumed I couldn't do it and therefore teaching me was a waste of your time. Then you'd go and tell father that I wasn't progressing. No wonder he thought I was worthless. Although to be fair, I did try to tell father what you were doing once, he didn't believe me. As for how I defeated my father, I found a way to close the tenketsu from a distance. Let's leave my explanation at that."
Hinata turned to her grandfather, "I would be honored if you would train me in how to be clan head grandfather."
The man smiled, "No, I would be the honored one, and I think you're going to fill the role of clan head well."
One month later
Naruto lovingly brushed the snow away from the stone in front of him, and then carefully traced the words written there,
Konoha's Red Flame
You are missed
Then the blond placed the bouquet of flowers he had in the pot on the tombstone and whispered, "Hey mom. I'm sorry it's taken me so long to find you. In all the drama surrounding finding out who my father was, and then the craziness of the last six months, I guess I just let you slip my mind. That won't happen again, I promise."
With that he turned away and headed toward another part of the grave yard. When Naruto reached this tombstone he didn't brush away any leaves, not that there were any, or place flowers in their vase. This grave was overflowing with flowers and he didn't really feel like his would be appropriate. So, he just flopped onto the ground and the only thing that saved that gesture from being completely disrespectful was the innate shinobi grace Danzo had beat into him.
The blonds voice had a hard edge to it as he spoke to this grave, "Father. I don't really want to be here speaking to you, but Sakura once told me that she thought this would help me work through my feelings, since I couldn't talk to you face to face. So here it goes. I hate you. I can't even begin to fathom what would cause you, my father, to turn me into a monster. I know there are other ways that you could have stopped the Kyuubi, ways that didn't include you sealing that beast into a helpless infant. But you didn't choose one of those ways and I don't really care why."
"I hate you and I don't think that's ever going to change. In the last six months I've made a lot of progress. I'm working through my issues with jiji, not that he knows because I can't really reconcile with him right now. I'm already over my issues with Iruka-sensei, not that I can show him either. Heck, I'm even on good terms with Ibiki-sensei and he had me tortured for a week. But you, I just can't forgive you. I don't think I ever can."
With that Naruto stood and walked out of the cemetery. Leaving with nothing but a black mood.
The walk through the village did little to brighten the blonds outlook. There were some civilians kowtowing to him, calling him "Naruto-sama." and offering free wares. Then there were others who were more hateful toward him than ever. He saw Shikamaru and walked by him with a disgusted sneer while the Nara looked on blandly. Naruto knew why Shika had spilled his lineage, but it still ticked him off with how much it was affecting his life.
Even five months later Naruto still felt flashes of anger at Shika. Things had just been so much easier for him in the village before everyone found out who he was. But he couldn't deny the results, just two weeks after his, "falling out" with his friends, Danzo had started trusting him with more information. Now five months later he was quickly moving his way up to being privy to everything.
His inability to contact his friends had lead to another, unforeseen problem though. He couldn't easily get new information to them. But after a month of scrambling, Sakura had come up with an excellent solution.
"Uzumaki-san." Naruto glanced up when his name was called and saw the root who guarded the entrance into headquarters.
The blond nodded to him, "Seven. Paradise is found in strange places."
"And yet harmony is not found at all." Seven replied as he opened the door.
The Uzumaki grinned, "Thank you."
"These new interrogation ideas you have are very good Ino." Sai said
The Yamanaka grinned as she draped her arms around her boyfriend from behind, "I'm glad you admire my ideas, but isn't there something else in the room you'd rather admire?"
Naruto, who was watching this scene from a shadowed doorway snorted, that wasn't at all forward. The blond was abruptly yanked from the study of his handler by the quiet voice of his sensei, "Disgusting aren't they? Out of all the emotional triggers in the world the hardest to train root away from are simple teenage hormones. Remember that Naruto it may save your authority one day."
"H-hai sensei. I've been looking for you." the blond replied.
Danzo nodded, "Yes, seven told me you were in HQ. Four is waiting to give you your next lesson in emotional manipulation. You should-" the cripple was interrupted by a high pitched giggle from Ino and he glanced over at the odd couple with a scowl, "Your little blond protege isn't working out Naruto. Her constant flirtations are ruining one of my most promising subordinates. Get her in line before I'm forced to do it myself."
The Uzumaki glanced over at Ino with an expression that only betrayed a flicker of concern before turning back to the councilman, "Yes sensei. Don't worry, I'll ensure that this doesn't happen again."
The cripple smiled, "Good, I'll leave you to your leadership exercise then. Four is waiting for you on level two when you're done." the blond nodded and watched as Danzo walked away before stepping out of the shadow of the doorway and clearing his throat. Ino and Sai both jumped up and away from each other as Naruto started to speak in an empty voice, "I see you two are wasting time again. Danzo-sama is not pleased with your propensity to ignore your duties while in one another's company. You should learn control, before control is forced upon you."
The two root grunts paled at the threat and apologized, but the blond boy carelessly waved their apologies away, "Words are meaningless. If you are truly sorrowful then show it by acting with control. Sai you are dismissed to your other duties. Ino, I have something further to speak to you about."
Sai gave a salute and hurried out while both Naruto and Ino waited until the boy was gone before turning to each other. The Yamanaka let out a laugh, "Wow Naruto, you've really been getting better at your acting. I almost believed your 'you will suffer if you do not comply' face."
The boy sighed and shook his head, "Remember where we are Ino, and I wish you had believed it a little more. Danzo's been noticing you, and not in a good way. He thinks you're ruining Sai, and he's told me if I don't get you under control, he will."
Ino paled, "B-but I'm your pet project."
"Yes," the Uzumaki said, "and as long as I can keep you under control Danzo's willing to let you stay my pet project. But you are basically my first lesson in leadership and as soon as I show myself to have failed, Danzo will take over. I need you as my subordinate, not another of Danzo's retrained emotionless drones. So please, for the next few months at least, keep your nose clean and suspend your emotion lessons with Sai. Understood?"
The girl nodded submissively and Naruto continued, "Good. Now to make sure you don't forget this lesson I'm going to assign you to run one lap around Konoha, all of Konoha. I'll see you again in a few hours to report your progress on learning this lesson. Dismissed."
The Yamanaka saluted and as she passed Naruto their hands brushed and something passed between them. Then Ino was off to do her assignment."
Shikamaru looked up from the cipher Ibiki had him working on as Ino came in and plopped down in a chair and said, "I have a new message from Naruto, and this time I'm supposed to be running a lap around Konoha, so I have a few hours before I need to leave to go make myself look sweaty and tired. So, you ready to start in?"
The Nara nodded and pushed the cipher to the side as the girl handed him part of Ruto's coded message. He hated the seal that had forced Naruto to use this barely understandable code. Shikamaru glanced down at the message and quirked an eyebrow,"Fluffy bunnies?" he asked in confusion.
"Hmm?" Ino said without looking up from her own portion of Naruto's coded message.
The Nara sighed, "This stanza it start's with the words 'fluffy bunnies' what is that supposed to mean? That Danzo's cute and cuddly?"
The Yamanaka snorted as she put down her portion of the riddle, "Not likely. Here let me see." the blond grabbed the paper out of the shadow users hand and read the stanza aloud, "'Fluffy bunnies beneath full moon eyes. A broken soul can break a puppet masters hold.' Yuck. Naruto should never write poetry."
"At least not when he's trying to encode messages into it." Shikamaru said, "So what does that stanza mean?"
Ino studied the stanza carefully as she tried to remember everything she knew about root. Finally her face brightened, "I know! One of the members of roots alpha squad wears fluffy bunny slippers. I don't know why, she could probably go around with scratchy cloth strapped round her feet and I doubt she'd notice."
"Right," Shikamaru said in disinterest, "So fluffy bunnies is dealing with this member of alpha squad. 'Full moon eyes' meaning the type of eye someone has maybe."
"Could be." the blond girl said, "But the only people I know in Konoha that have 'full moon eyes' are the Hyuuga, and I doubt they'd let one of their family join root."
The Nara glanced over at Ino, "There are other ways to get someone into root. The death of a branch member on a mission probably wouldn't be too heavily investigated, if it was investigated at all."
The Yamanaka nodded, "True, and I bet this line here has to do with the brainwashing Danzo does."
The shadow user smirked, "And the line about breaking the puppet masters hold. If a Hyuuga was kidnapped and brainwashed, regardless of weather they were main or branch, the Hyuuga clan would remove all political and financial support from Danzo."
Ino grinned, "We're gonna have that scumbag cornered before in no time."
"Yep." Shikamaru said, "I'm glad Naruto was able to make sure you were only given the dummy seal though, otherwise he couldn't be nearly as cryptic in his messages."
The blond nodded, "Yeah me to. That root seal looks like no fun. If I had had to get that to join this mission I would have flat out refused."
"Understandable." the Nara said, "Still I wish we could put that lack of seal to better use, and just have Naruto tell you all this information so that you could just relay it back to us."
The Yamanaka sighed, "Me too, but you know why he can't. The seal works by way of the mind and root matters can only be discussed with other root. The other root think they're talking to another root when their talking to me so their seal doesn't interfere. But Ruto knows he's talking to a spy when he's talking to me and therefore his seal stops him from discussing things freely."
The shadow user waved a hand negligently, "Yeah, yeah I know. It doesn't mean I can't wish though. I can't wait until Ero-sensei is done retooling that seal."
"Oh yeah, I heard that Jiraiya-sama was teaching you advanced sealing by mail. How's that going?" Ino asked.
Shikamaru sighed, "Alright I guess, learning anything by mail is challenging, but with seals... I'm just glad sensei usually comes back to Konoha once a month to report to Hokage-sama and check my progress or I'd be sunk."
The Yamanaka nodded in sympathy then glanced at the clock and gasped, "I've got to go. I just barely have enough time to make it look like I actually did go for a run before I need to get back to HQ. See ya later Shika!" she called as she sprinted out the door.
The Nara smiled after his long time friend before gathering up the translated message from Ruto and heading off to the tower. No doubt Hokage-sama would want this update.
As Ino sprinted through the streets of Konoha trying to work up a believable sweat she thought of how she had come to be a part of team psych's mission. She never thought that just looking into why team psych, who were supposed to hate each other at this point, were passing messages to each other would lead her into this new mission she was doing for her home. Sometimes she hated that she had gotten embroiled into these shadow games. But most of the time she was glad. Not only was she growing quickly under the harsh training of root, but if she had never taken this path then she would have never met Sai. And that-
The Yamanaka was abruptly yanked out of her thoughts as she ran headlong into someone and they both fell to the ground with a grunt. She looked up to see who she had run into and her eyes widened, "Oh I'm so sorry Hinata. Are you all right?"
Hinata looked up with a smile, "I-I'm ff-fine Innno. Y-you?"
The blond girl laughed, "Oh it would take more than a tumble into the street to hurt me. I bet it would take more than that for you too. Miss Hyuuga clan head."
The black-haired girl blushed crimson, "I-it was nnnn-nothing."
The Yamanaka wanted to continue her teasing but she could see how embarrassed her friend was so she let the matter drop, "If you say so. Hey, I'm late for a meeting with my sensei, so I really need to go, but we should grab lunch together sometime."
The Hyuuga nodded, "Y-yes. T-th-that would bbb-be nice."
Ino grinned then waved as she once again took off running. It was amazing to think about how much Hinata had changed in the past few months. She still stuttered of course but she refused to let herself be ashamed of that now. Ino remembered the first time she'd heard the story about how Hinata got her new position, she was ashamed to admit that she hadn't believed them. But it didn't take long for everyone to accept that the girl had earned her title. Poor Hinata had been hard at work playing catch up on how to be the leader of a clan ever since, but she was getting better everyday.
The Yamanaka stopped to catch her breath as she leaned against the side of the entrance of root HQ. Once she had caught her breath she knocked on the door. She was ready to face the lions den again.
Sakura felt a bead of sweat drip uncomfortably down her face but she tried her best to ignore it as she kept her focus on the floundering fish before her as her hands hovered above it while glowing a soft green. This was her twentieth time doing this exercise, but this time she would succeed before the fish died. She was so tired of fish fillets. With a small intake of breath she steadied her chakra and sent it into the fish to coat the two parts of the torn artery next to its heart, and had her chakra gently bring the two ends back together. She exhaled and split the chakra around the artery into two separate forms. One remained as the wall while the other thinned and lengthened into thread.
She felt another bead of sweat follow the trail of the first as she split her focus between maintaining the wall, and using the rest of her focus to carefully guide the thread to sew the two torn ends together in the way Tsunade-sensei had taught her. As soon as the artery was sewn back together she slowly hardened the thread to a more hardy consistency and then carefully withdrew her chakra support from the chakra thread. She held her breath as she waited to see if this thread would hold together or dissolve back into chakra as the last few had.
After several seconds with the thread staying the way it should she let her breath out in a gust of relief, and put the still alive fish back into the pond.
Then she grinned and took off, she had to tell sensei!
Tsunade was eyeing the paperwork before her with distaste as she tried to decide if it would be worth it to just torch this stack and say it was an accident when her younger student came bouncing into the room, "Sensei! I did it! I managed to save the fish using my new jutsu!"
The Fifth smiled, "Well done Sakura. If you had told me six months ago that you could turn chakra energy into solid matter and have it stay that way after the source was removed, I would have laughed and said impossible."
"You did laugh and say it was impossible sensei. Proving you wrong was how we got you to come back to Konoha." the Haruno deadpanned.
The Godaime laughed, "True enough. I still had my doubts about whether your jutsu could be used for healing though. I'm glad to know I was wrong, and I'm proud of you."
The girl blushed the color of her hair, "Thank you sensei. But all those people who said I had perfect control in the academy had no idea what they were talking about. Now I have perfect control. But a year ago there is no way I could have split my chakra and had the two ends doing entirely different things at the same time."
"Perhaps." Tsunade said, "But I think you sell yourself short. Now, I think you deserve to have the rest of today off. You've been working really hard on the fish, and you need a break. So, no chakra use for the rest of today, and no study either. Go catch up with friends or something."
Sakura smiled, "Hai sensei." with that she was off again bouncing through the halls in the afterglow of her success.
The Fifth was happy as she watched her student go. She had no doubt that that girl would surpass her, and she'd probably do it in no time at all. Then her eyes took in the massive amount of paperwork in front of her and she sighed. She pictured orange flames licking around the edges of the stacks and slowly blackening them until they turned into dust, and smiled. Why couldn't she have picked up smoking from her sensei?