The atmosphere was tense, to say the least.
It was late at night, so few customers were left in the shop, those that were left were all ninjas of various levels and descriptions. The cold night air blew in through the open door and stole away the heat of the day, so it became more bearable, the moons silver light entered the darkened side of the room and reflected off of the polished tables and floor, giving the entire area an almost ethereal feel, along with those sat within it, dressed in their usual blacks.
Naruto was standing behind his bar, trying to hold in his irritation, as the two women in front of him tore into one another with all the hate of two sworn enemies, though he knew it shouldn't have surprised him that this would happen. That didn't stop him from becoming irritated by the steadily rising level of noise.
At least the Genin's aren't here, he thought to himself as he watched the two of them with a slight frown
"Or fucking what?" Tayuya nearly shouted "its part of my bloody punishment"
"What? To come here and drink? Some fucking punishment" Anko shouted back and Naruto rubbed his temples as he debated throwing the two of them into a small room together until they learned to get along
"Yeah, snake-bitch" Tayuya shot back "it's the only other place I can fucking go to, so fuck you and what you want"
"Screw you" Anko shouted as her hand shot towards her pouch
"Enough!" Naruto shouted and the two of them immediately froze in place before turning to him "you, sit there" he said to Tayuya "and you, sit there" he said to Anko, both of who took their respective places two seats away from one another at his command "like a couple of children" he huffed and Anko opened her mouth, only to close it as he shot her a look
"She started it" Tayuya said and Naruto looked at her
"I know, but you didn't help matters did you?" he said and she lowered her head "exactly, and both of you will watch your language or I'll throw the two of you out" he said seriously and Anko winced while Tayuya opened her mouth to fire back a retort before noticing the look in his eyes and clamming up
"Sorry" Anko muttered and Tayuya nodded
"Tayuya-san?" he asked her and she turned away
"Sorry" she muttered and he sighed before sitting down
"You two are going to have to learn to get along" he told them as they glared at one another across the empty space between them "stop" he said and they both turned away from each other "I don't care why you hate each other, but if you are going to fight, then at least do it outside or something" he said and Anko looked at him
"Really?" she asked and he snorted
"Yeah right, behave or I will ban you" he said and they both winced at that
"Fine" Tayuya accented as Anko nodded
"Great" Naruto said with a sigh "now that after several weeks you two have agreed to get along I can relax" he muttered as the two women steamed while shooting murderous glances at one another
"So, what's going on with you?" he asked Tayuya who perked up before deflating
"Not much" she said, clearly restraining herself from swearing every other word "I used to have a flute, but that go destroyed" she growled, glancing at Anko
"It was a weapon" Anko said clinically and Tayuya scoffed
"Tayuya" Naruto warned
"Sorry…yeah right" Tayuya corrected herself as Naruto nodded in satisfaction
"Whatever, so I've got no money, a guard on me every minute of every day, and nothing to do. So I'm just great" she said with a growl as Naruto sighed
"Come here tomorrow" he told her and she blinked at him; "I've got something to give you" he said and she blinked before blushing and turning away
"Thanks, Naruto-san" she said as Anko looked at him suspiciously before he frowned at her
"She won't try to escape even if I was to give her the old flute" he told her and she opened her mouth "no it's not, it was destroyed, it's just a simple flute" he cut her off and she pouted at being thwarted once again
"So where's Tenten-chan" Anko asked and Naruto shrugged
"In bed probably"
"I doubt it, as much as it would amuse me, I don't think they'd ever get together in my lifetime"
"You blackmail them and I'll do it to you"
"…I'll be good"
"Good. Then I see Anbu's more relaxed recently"
"Sometimes, the recent arrival of several S-class ninjas, including Itachi, has everyone on edge a little"
"It seems I need to speak to our resident spy-master"
"Because something's going on that affects me, and I have heard nothing about it"
"Are you sure?"
"Of course, chances are is a military matter, but I have ways of getting the information I need
Naruto sat down and sighed as he watched the two women tolerate each other's presence for the moment
"I still don't get why you two won't get along" he said
"She tried to kill the Hokage" Anko exclaimed and Naruto sighed
"I think you'll find that she was just following orders, a soldier, just like you" he pointed out and she flinched back "and you?" he asked to Tayuya who frowned
"Because she won't leave me alone"
"She betrayed him" she said and he sighed
"He's not your master anymore" he pointed out and she nodded
"Old habits" she muttered and he nodded
"Fair enough, but you two are about as similar as Tenten and Temari" he said and Anko balked
"Did I say you would?" he asked and she blushed "exactly, now then it looks like I'll be closing in a little while" he said as a few more people walked out of the store so that only the elite ninjas were left on the darker side of the room "and someone's about to arrive" he said as the doors opened to reveal Tsunade
"Made it" she said as she walked over and sat in-between Tayuya and Anko who appeared surprised at her arrival
"Hokage-sama" Naruto said stiffly with a small bow and she waved him off
"Please, not on my off hours" she said and he nodded
"Which one?" he asked as he pointed behind him as she hummed in thought
"What're you doing here Hokage-sama?" Anko asked and Tsunade shrugged
"I needed drink" she said and Anko twitched
"I-I see" she said uncertainly as she turned away while Naruto put a bottle and glass in front of Tsunade who immediately poured herself a glass
"Shizune wouldn't let me go, so I had to wait until she was asleep to come here" she explained and Naruto nodded
"Well, a drunk Hokage wouldn't be much use" he said and she snorted
"I don't get drunk easily" she defended herself and Naruto nodded
"Behaving yourself?" she then asked Tayuya who bristled at the implications before Naruto cut in
"She's fine" he said and Tayuya closed her mouth before she said something stupid
"Really?"Tsunade asked and Naruto nodded "she was nothing but trouble to everyone except for you" she said and Naruto shrugged
"As I've said before, it's all about how you approach it, being a civilian has its perks you know" he said and she nodded
"Very different" he confirmed and she nodded while he sat in front of the three of them and sipped at his own drink
"You do deliveries?" Tsunade then asked and he shrugged
"Depends on the pay" he replied honestly and she smirked
"Fair enough, to the office" she said and he nodded
"I can do that, providing your sectary doesn't skin me alive for it" he told her and she frowned
"She won't attack you" she said and he shrugged
"Can never be too careful nowadays" he told her and she nodded
"True enough" she muttered
"Does the phrase 'red cloud's' mean anything to you?" he asked and she shook her head
"Why would it?" she asked and he sighed "oh, by the way, an ambassador is being sent from Cloud apparently" she said and Naruto frowned
"Now then, what could they possibly want from us?" he muttered as Tsunade shrugged
"Haven't a clue, but apparently those S-class nin Asuma's team killed had been spotted in Cloud, allegedly planning to kill the two-tails" she said and Naruto frowned
"And they want to thank you? Sounds fair enough, you did save their best weapon" he told her and she shrugged
"We'll see what they have to say, but I'm not expecting much" she confessed and he nodded
"With the past being what it is I doubt they'll want a treaty either, not that we'd be too inclined to sign it after last time" he said and she nodded
"True enough, Hiashi's already making my life difficult over it" she said and he sighed
"That idiot needs to be taken down a few notches, his clan is just as vulnerable as the Uchiha's; there are more slaves than masters after all" he said and she nodded
"We can only hope" she muttered and he chuckled
"Indeed, you heading off?" he asked Anko who had stood up
"Yeah, I've got work and I&T tomorrow" she said and he smiled, kissing her cheek before she walked off with a small blush on her cheeks
He turned to find Tsunade looking at him with a raised eyebrow "brother/sister thing" he told her and she nodded
"She's like a sister to me, it'd just be wrong in that sense, and I don't think mixing military and civilian occupations would be a good idea" he told her and she nodded
"Fair enough, what about Tayuya-san here?" she asked as Tayuya choked on her drink suddenly
"We're not that close yet" he told her
"Yeah, you never know after all, and she is very much like Anko" he said and Tayuya looked away while muttering under her breath
"What of Temari?"
"She's a good friend but nothing more" he told her as she nodded
"Garaa would kill you otherwise" she said and he chuckled
"Probably" he admitted "although I think she'd be good for Tenten" he said and Tsunade laughed
"I'm sure she appreciates the thought" she said and Naruto snorted in reply
"I'm fairly certain she wants to kill me now, but whatever" he told her as she nodded
"Well, I need to head off before Shizune finds me missing" she said and Naruto nodded as she walked off before he sat in front of Tayuya
"You okay?" he asked her softly and she nodded absently
"So long as I have something to do it'll be fine" she said and he nodded
"Fair enough, I have something for you tomorrow. But how are you being treated?" he asked and she shrugged
"I have a nice enough apartment, cook for myself and everything, so it's better than it could've been" she admitted and he nodded
"That's good, though you might ask your keeper to let you go shopping or something" he told her
"Because changing your hair and clothes will go a long way to helping make people forget about you part in our leader's death"
"I thought you didn't care for him"
"I don't, but everyone else did, so just do that. And anyway, you're very beautiful so you shouldn't hide it" he told her as she blushed furiously
"Thank you" she muttered
"My, where'd all that fire go?" he asked teasingly and she pouted cutely
"You didn't want me swearing" she muttered and he laughed while patting her head
"Thank you for indulging me Tayuya-chan" he said as she blushed "but I think your minder wants to leave" he said, seeing the Anbu all stand up
"See you tomorrow" she said before walking off, back straightening and face certainly furious as she walked over to the man, clearing not going to be anywhere near as courteous to him as she had been to Naruto.
The next day Naruto was wiping the floor down when a knock resounded throughout the room.
He looked up from the finely polished wooden floor to the oak door, bolted in three positions at any one time, his paranoia having gone up after the failed invasion attempt by Sand and Sound
"Who is it?" he asked as he unbolted the locks and opened the door, allowing light to spill into the slightly darkened room, the curtains being drawn.
"Me" Tayuya said as he came face to face with her red hair. Behind her stood her handler, a slight frame and wolf mask told him what he needed
"My apologies Uzumaki-san" she said as she glared at Tayuya from behind her mask "but she insisted" she said and Tayuya snorted
"You fuc…" she stopped and glanced at Naruto who watched her with a raised eyebrow before she coughed and tried again "you wanted to come as well dammit" she said stiffly
Naruto could clearly see the handlers eyes widen behind her mask when Tayuya corrected her language
"How the hell?" she muttered with a questioning look as Naruto shrugged
"It's all in how you treat them" he answered before holding the door open "come in you two, I'll get what you need"
He moved to the back of the shop as he heard the scraping of a chair
"Don't do that" the Anbu said and Tayuya snorted
"Or fucking what?" she sneered
"I can still hear you Tayuya-chan" he called out and he could hear her swallow
"Sorry" she replied as he reappeared carrying a carved, long, wooden case along with a silver flask
"These are what you two are after" he told them while putting them both down on the table
"Is that…?" Tayuya asked with hopeful eyes and he smirked before turning to the Anbu
"Payment please?" he asked and she handed him the notes while shaking her head slightly
"How the hell did you know?" she asked him and he shrugged
"It's the only reason someone turns up to me this early"
"When they want something?"
"Pretty much. Either that or they want to take me somewhere, but that's beside the point. It's got the usual stuff within it, I'm guessing that's what you wanted?" he asked her and she nodded slowly
"Thank you" she replied and he waved her off
"Please do not worry about it, you can expect yourself and your team to get a free drink on me when you get back" he said and she nodded
"I'll tell them that, it should put them in high spirits" she replied and he nodded before looking down at Tayuya who was staring at the case
"You can open it Tayuya-chan" he told her and she nodded before undoing the latch and opening the beautifully carved case revealing the wooden flute sitting inside comfortably on the red fabric inside.
She took it out and took in the carvings along the body of the instrument, the balance and weight of it before nearly tearing up while Naruto watched with a soft smile on his face.
"I take it you approve?" he asked her and she nodded as she gently placed it back into the case in front of her before looking up at him as he turned his head and pointed to his cheek, she smiled and kissed him there before standing up
"Well then Uzumaki-san, thank you very much" the Anbu said as she led Tayuya out
"Thank you Naruto-kun" she called out and he chuckled at the soft blush on her cheeks as the two of them left his bar, the door closing quietly behind them as he was once again left alone.
He sighed as he tucked in the chair Tayuya had removed from the top of the table to sit in, not that it was too much of a bother, and it was only this once after all. He heard footfalls on the stairs behind him and turned to regard Haku who was looking at him through sleepy eyes
"Good morning" he called out and she nodded with a small yawn
"Was that Tayuya-san?" she asked and he nodded
"Just giving her and her minder a gift" he told her and she nodded but frowned slightly "jealous?" he asked her and she flushed
"Of course not" she admonished him and he chuckled softly
"Of course, though now that you're up…" he said and she blushed again before running off to go do what she needed to, having slept in late once again, much to his amusement. Considering how different she now acted compared to when she had first arrived with him, being up earlier and going to bed later than him, now she had quite comfortably settled into the civilian lifestyle, though by no means did that mean she had gotten soft.
He had caught her practising with her needles more than once on the rooftop garden she spent nearly all her spare time in nowadays, not that he minded, she was just like Tayuya as in she needed something to help occupy her time in-between the brief flurries of activity that seemed to be present regularly nowadays.
He shook his head as he thought about what the future could hold for the business and the two of them.
The door suddenly opened and he whirled around with a hand reaching for his machete that was not there, having been left under the counter during the previous night.
He relaxed when he saw it was only Tenten, standing there and panting softly, having clearly run to his shop from her apartment building
"Good morning Tenten-chan" he called out as she walked in, trying to talk before he pulled out a chair and pushed her into it
"Take a breath" he told her and she did so, becoming calmer as she looked up at him
"They took Garaa" she then said
Naruto blinked in response, having no idea what she was talking about or referring to "who?" he asked her and she shrugged in reply
"Some guys with red clouds came in the night and kidnapped Garaa while he defended the town" she told him and he sat down across from her with a small frown, folding his hands together in front of him
"I see" he replied quietly "and I guess you know this from Temari?" he asked and she flushed
"How'd you know?" she demanded and he smiled softly
"Because I knew you two had hit it off, so despite my teasing you would both be sending each other messages" he told her and she looked away while muttering
"She's…not happy" she told him and he snorted
"She's feeling about as happy as I would be if you or Anko were taken away" he told her as she blushed again "but regardless, why exactly are you telling me this now?" he asked her and she looked down at her own hands fiddling in her lap
"Because I need to talk to someone before I head out" she told him and he nodded
"I see, your team along with Shikamaru's and most likely Sakura's will be sent out" he said and she looked at him in shock "guess work on my part, though you expression says that I was right on the mark. Well, with all those people you won't have a problem, I highly doubt Garaa gave his attacker an easy time of it" he told her and she nodded
"He crushed the man's left arm and leg" she said and Naruto nodded silently
"That means the man had a partner, well regardless I can only guess at what you'll find when you get there" he told her with open hands and she nodded
"You just wanted to let me know then? That's fine by itself, but I think maybe you should comfort Temari before heading off, it won't do to have her running off into the desert after her brother after all" he told her and she nodded with a heavy sigh
"Good enough for me then. You had best be going soon, the quicker you get there the less chance of Garaa being killed" he told her seriously and she nodded while standing before he hugged her tightly
"Thanks" she muttered as she hugged him back before he released her and she ran from the pub in the direction of one of the many gates around the town.
"Is everything okay?" Haku asked from the stairs and he shrugged
"It is for now" he replied and she moved back up the stairs while he sat down and thumped his head down onto the cool wood of the table
Everything was suddenly happening at once; it made him think of an old war saying that it was 'long periods of boredom, followed by brief moments of terror'. It certainly seemed fitting for what was happening to him so far today; the only thing that could now happen would be the ambassador from Cloud turning up.
Another knock at the door
"Come in" he called and in walked two Anbu members, looking extremely professional
"Uzumaki-san" one with an owl mask started "please come with us"
"What for?" he asked as he stood up to face them
"The Hokage has requested your presence"
"What for?" he asked again, well aware they had failed to answer the question
"The Cloud team has arrived" he said and Naruto frowned deeply
"Clearly answering clearly is not your thing" he muttered and the man stiffened slightly as the other one stepped in beside him
"Lady Tsunade has requested your presence in dealing with the ambassador and his entourage, as it is believed you would be most suitable for this endeavour" the man said and Naruto frowned deeply
"And I don't have a choice do I?" he asked softly and both men stiffened "very well" he growled as he walked towards them as out of his shop into the blinding light of the early morning.
The walk to the Hokage's tower was deathly silent. Neither Anbu had much to say to Naruto who was not exactly in the mood to be making idle conversation with anyone for the moment with everything that was happening so far that day.
A cloud obscured the sun for a moment and a brief breeze carried with it the scent of the forests around Konoha to them. Naruto entered the tower without a glance at Shizune, the two Anbu flanking him causing just about everyone to move out of his way as he walked up to the top floor and up to the entrance of the Hokage's office where voices could already be heard.
"Please go in Uzumaki-san" Shizune whispered politely to him "there only exchanging formalities" she told him and he nodded, noticing his two escorts hand vanished into thin air while he had briefly had his attention focused on the receptionist
"Thank you" he replied politely before entering the room.
It was the same as always, save for several more people were now seated in front of the Hokage who was all dressed formally, though tension was clearly visible in her shoulders and for good reason. In front of her sat an ageing man who was certainly the ambassador, to his left was a younger man who must be his apprentice. It was the young woman to the man's right that made Naruto frown.
She had straight long blonde hair and dark eyes that shone with something Naruto did not quite like. She had a short-sleeved black and purple blouse, black pants, both with designs similar to clouds on them. Purple fingerless gloves and a series of white beads wound around her left hand, along with the bandages around her arms and legs along with red belt around her waist.
"Ah, Uzumaki-san, please come in" Tsunade greeted him warmly despite his own expression clearly revealing his lack of pleasure at being here once again
"Why am I here exactly?" he asked her, disregarding the looks sent his way by the ambassador and others
"To help escort the ambassador and his two aides around Konoha" she told him with a small smile and a look probably reserved for disobedient subordinates
"And this was not discussed with me before hand because?" he asked her with a coolness in his tone that belied the anger he was feeling bubble to the surface thanks to this latest farce by the rulers of Konoha
"Because we did not know when they would arrive" she replied and he shook his head
"Shocking, to have a civilian do the work of the military" he told her firmly and she shook her own head
"The ambassador here is a civilian so it is only fair to have the liaison be the same" she replied to him with a frown of displeasure on her face
"Very well then, I will do as you ask. But do not expect any more favours from me" he told her firmly as she winced, knowing full well what he might do thanks to this latest provocation.
He turned to regard the three spectators
"I am Uzumaki Naruto" introduced himself with a bow as the three looked him over carefully while he did the same to them. The two men were certainly civilian, but the woman was certainly not, if her eyes and smooth movements were anything to go by
"Pleased to meet you" the ambassador replied calmly and Naruto straightened up and motioned to the door
"Shall we then? I will take you around briefly and then return you to your hotel if that is alright?" he asked and the elderly man nodded
"Of course, you must have things to do, being called here out of the blue and all" he said and Naruto nodded, not missing the look the man shot Tsunade who looked both less than pleased and disappointed, though whether in him or not he could not tell for the moment.
"This way then" he said as he led them out of the room and down the tower.
He had not meant to be so hostile to Tsunade; however he was certainly not pleased at having been called out without any warning of any kind to look after foreign delegates that he did not care for any more than his own military or leader.
"You do not seem to care for Lady Tsunade" the ambassador commented as Naruto led them around the village while pointing out the various landmarks
"I have never cared much for the Hokage's here" he told her man truthfully as he pointed out the monument on the tower behind the tower, clearly visible from the park they were standing in
"Then you agreed because?" the man asked
"I did not wish to anger the military, we do live under a dictatorship after all" he told him as the man nodded
"I agree, so what do you do around here, you must be well liked to be elected into this role" the man said and Naruto shrugged
"I do not know whether or not I am well liked, but I work as a bar tender" he told the man who frowned
"Truly?" he asked
"Yes, I own and run one of the most well liked bars here in Konoha" he told the man as he pointed it out to them
"It certainly stands out" the man agreed, what with the three stories and greenery atop the roof it certainly stood out from the slightly grimly buildings around it
"I shall take that as a compliment and not how I think it was meant" he said
"Thank you kindly" the man replied with a small smile "may we visit tonight then?" he asked and Naruto nodded
"No free drinks?"
"I only do that to certain friends and groups"
"The Anbu and a select few around town"
They arrived at the hotel and Naruto wished them well as he turned away, catching the eye of the woman he grabbed her arm lightly as she passed him
"Far too conspicuous" he told her and walked off, aware of her eyes on his back the whole way.
The night arrived in a blur of motion, with the room quickly filling with people when the door opened.
Haku moved through the crowds of people like some kind of ghost, smiling and waving when people called out to speak to her or greet her. Naruto remained behind the bar, watching it all unfold as he awaited the dreaded arrival of the Hokage's guests or the Hokage herself. There was one event he did not need taking place within his establishment.
"More sake" someone called and he pulled out the bottle and glasses, putting them down as he was handed the money, hands moving automatically as his mind remained elsewhere for the time being
"Uzumaki-san" someone called out and he raised his eyes to come face to face with the woman from earlier; he was easy able to tell the room's atmosphere had subtly changed when she entered. She was an outsider and that meant she was an unknown, and everyone in a military state is weary of outsiders
"Good evening" he replied as she sat down in front of him with a sigh while she removed her headband, placing it down in front of her "do you have weapons on you?" he asked cautiously and she looked up at him
"Can I not?" she asked and he nodded so she shrugged and pulled off her holster before handing it over to him as he took it and placed it beneath the counter next to his machete "will I get them back?" she asked with a small smirk
"Of course" he replied professionally "now then, what can I get for you?" he asked her as she eyed the drinks behind him carefully
"How careless, there are no labels" she commented, causing a few customers to frown
"Do not insult me" he told her quietly "the Hokage may care for you lot being here, but I do not, and neither do most of my customers" he told her seriously before straightening up again as she looked at him seriously
"And by our laws I can throw you out of here on my own discretion" he told her firmly
"Don't fear the military huh?" she asked with a smirk
"Of course not" he told her "but perhaps you should" he said as Tayuya and another Anbu member walked in, followed by several more "welcome" he called out. The civilians already beginning to file out.
It was interesting how everything seemed to run like clockwork half the time. The civilians would leave at around twelve and the ninjas would arrive a little after that, as though to give him a little breathing room
"Good evening Tayuya-chan" he greeted the red-headed girl who sat down heavily with a huff
"Naruto-kun" she replied and he smiled before pouring her a drink
"She's one of the special one's huh?" the girl asked with that infuriating smirk as Tayuya ignored her and gulped it down before he refilled it
"People like you" he said as he finished and put the bottle back on the shelf behind him "are the ones I dislike the most" he told her "just because you're a ninja doesn't mean you can't be killed" he told her firmly and she shrugged
"Whatever you say" she said and he shook his head
"Pick something, drink it, and leave before you irritate the other customers please" he told her firmly and her smirk vanished as it finally clicked that he was quite serious with his intentions
"There" she said while pointed to one of the many bottles behind Naruto, he handed it over and took the money before moving off to talk to Tayuya
"Who's that?" she asked him as he sat in front of her
"One of the ambassadors from Cloud here to thank us, apparently" he told her and she snorted
"Stuck up bitch" she hissed and he sighed
"She is, but behave" he told her as he tapped the top of her head gently making her wince
"Sorry" she grumbled and he shrugged
"I'll just be glad to see them gone, I really don't want to, or need to, deal with this at the moment" he said and she nodded in sympathy
"Thanks for the flute by the way" she then said and he smiled
"I'm just glad you liked it, it was impossible for me to find one like your original" he told her and she nodded
"Custom job" she admitted and he chuckled softly
"I figured it was something like that, has Anko seen you yet?" he asked and she nodded
"She came to check on progress" she laughed lightly "her face when she saw my flute was priceless" she admitted and he smirked
"I'll bet, she probably thought it was a weapon or something" he said and she nodded
"Whys she here anyway?" Tayuya asked while pointing to the woman a few seats from her
"I don't know, all I know is she's a well trained ninja, nearly Anbu in skill level" he told her and the woman regarded him carefully
"How'd you know?" she asked haughtily and he shrugged
"Your movements suggest a great deal of experience in hand-to-hand combat, the way your eyes always take in every little detail proves knowledge of ambush locations and the like. Finally, your body is definitely not civilian" he said and she looked away
"I heard you were good" she muttered as she took a sip of the dark liquid and Naruto moved back over to her
"I have had a great deal of practise. But still, why would a foreign ninja come here of all places, a place where other ninjas regularly gather?" he asked and she looked at him
"Because I wanted a drink" she said and he raised an eyebrow
"There are other bars you could go to"
"I wanted something good"
"Thank you, but that still fails to answer the question"
"You are sharp, I'm here to talk"
"My apparent rescue, or the prevention of my kidnapping, more precisely"
"Ah I see, but you should speak to the team that did that"
"But I heard you spoke to the main guy and that's what led them to victory"
Naruto sat down in front of her and folded his hands seriously
"So you're the Two-tail container" he said and she nodded
"Nii Yugito" she introduced herself and he nodded
"So then, what did you want to say?" he asked and she looked down at her drink for a moment
"Thank you, first of all, for helping me" she said and he leant back
"It was not by intention, but you are welcome nonetheless" he said and she nodded
"Also, why do you give advice to ninjas?" she asked him
"Because I am around various groups of ninjas all the time, which makes me a good source of advice. Or so I've been told" he said and she nodded to herself
"But I think there's more to this than a simple 'thank you', you're here to examine how we are after the failed invasion" he told her and she looked down at her drink "also, you're here to talk to me because you know what I am" he said and she nodded slowly
"My demon sensed you when we arrived" she admitted and he nodded slowly
"You want to know why, or how, I live such a normal life" he said and she nodded
"I fought for it every step of the way and threatened anyone who didn't like it" he told her and she blinked before chuckling
"I see" she said with amusement colouring her tone while he leant forwards on his arms again
"It was hard, but it was worth it I think" he admitted and she nodded
"Sorry about before" she said quietly and he nodded
"Just don't try it again and it won't be a problem" he told her as she nodded just as the door banged open
"Naruto" Anko shouted as she saw him and marched over while he stood up, stepping back a little to avoid to finger aimed for his chest
"Why didn't you warn me?" she asked him seriously and he chuckled
"Sorry Anko-chan" he apologised
"What if she had summoned those things of hers again?" she asked him and he tilted his head
"Despite the fact the weapon must be able to conduct chakra?" he asked her seriously while she blushed at realising he knew what he had been doing "how about the chakra restraining seal on her? Or the fact she promised me to not try anything?" he carried on as she blushed redder and redder
"Fine" she finally declared, sitting in-between Tayuya and Yugito as she grabbed the drink he offered her, gulping it down as he blush settled down
"You should trust me" he said and she looked at him
"I do" she muttered
"But you panicked when I gave someone a gift?" he asked her and glared at him
"I said I was sorry" she said and he chuckled
"You didn't, but you did then so I suppose it's fine"
"Good" she grumbled before shooting Yugito a look
"Who's the blonde?" she asked while pointing at the woman who glared at him
"My name is Nii Yugito" she retorted and Anko looked at her before looking back to Naruto who shook his head
"Behave yourself Anko-chan, she's one of the ambassadors from Cloud" he told her and she nodded
"She being trouble?" she asked and he tapped her head
"You and Tayuya are as bad as each other, behave" he told her and the two girl glanced at each other while Yugito sipped at the last of her drink
"Send me a message if you need someone to talk to or something" he told the girl who nodded
"Thank you Naruto-san" she said with a small inclination of her head while both Anko and Tayuya watched her
"Don't worry about it, these red cloud guys appear to be everyone's enemies" he told her and she nodded
"They are. I'll see you tomorrow then Naruto-san" she said
"Oh yeah, where are the other two?" Naruto asked her and she shrugged
"They didn't want to go after all, I think hearing about all the ninjas that come here frightened them off" she told him and he nodded
"Good night, Yugito-san" he told her and she smiled prettily before walking off
"Why're you being so nice to her?" Anko asked
"She's like me" he replied and she gasped
"You mean…" she began to blurt before Naruto put a hand over her mouth
"Yes" he told her and she frowned "don't give me that look, I think you can trust her, she came here to thank me and ask me a question, now that that's been done they'll likely leave after tomorrow" he told her and she slumped down
"Whipped" Tayuya smirked with a chuckle and Naruto raise an eyebrow at her, causing her to shrink away slightly as Anko chuckled
"So are you" she shot back as Naruto sat back down and watched the two girls go at each other for the rest of the night.
The early morning light streamed into the office through the large window, bathing the room in a soft yellow that softened the atmosphere and reflected off of the dark wooden floor and pictures on one wall.
Naruto stood in front of the oak desk with a slight frown on his face, dressed in his usual white button shirt and black trousers, dark shoes and black jacket with silver buttons and thread. He was watching the woman in front of him who was sitting with her head pressed against her folded hands and certainly appeared less than happy with what was going on for the moment. Though he was not exactly thrilled either.
"You wanted to speak to me?" he asked. Having been dragged out of bed around half an hour earlier than usual he was not at all happy with either the Hokage in front of him or the Anbu that had so rudely decided to wake him up, he would not forget that for a while yet, especially since she had simply requested to speak to him at some stage, and nearly everyone knew that he would have been up anyway if they had waited a while.
"I did" Tsunade replied and Naruto waited for her to speak, one hand in his pocket as the other absently fingered a coin, flipping it between fingers as he stood straight, as always.
"Then what is it? I am less than pleased at being here this early when I have deliveries to pick up" he told her calmly as he shifted his footing slightly
"I wish to apologise for what happened yesterday" she said and he nodded
"We honestly had no idea about when the ambassadors would arrive"
"But you already knew I would be the one leading them around" he pointed out "and I was not even informed of that" he said and she nodded
"Correct, though it wasn't cleared with the council until the ambassador arrived" she said and he frowned
"You could have warned me at the very least. I do not particularly care for being viewed as a mere pawn" he told her and she shook her head and sighed before turning her chair to look out over the village bathed in golden light
"You are the same as anyone else here" she said
"But I am no heartless tool" he told her firmly and she glanced back at him
"No, I would not expect you to be, but it isn't as though I ordered you to kill them" she said and he turned his head from her for a moment before locking eyes with her seriously
"That is true, but I see the apple does not fall far from the tree then" he said and he eyes widened slightly "it would appear you and Sarutobi are not so far apart after all" he said as he kept his gaze on her as she turned back around to face him fully
"I am not attempting to weaponise you" she said and he nodded
"But that is more out of fear than desire. Yesterday I was chosen because of several reasons; firstly my dislike of the military is well known and so they would have felt assured that I was not working with you, your decision to not inform me of my role was also used in that regard. Secondly you knew the woman was a carrier like me" he told her and she lowered her head
"Clearly we underestimated you" she muttered and he snorted
"Sarutobi did the same thing. I outlasted him" he told her and she looked up at him with cold eyes
"Is that a threat?" she asked
"From a civilian? Hardly. But you should be aware of my position, please do not enter my store again" he told her and turned to leave
"Wait" she called out as his hand touched the door "I truly do apologise for deceiving you, we decided it was best" she said and he looked back at her
"We have different views on life, you view the village as a tool and set of numbers, I see the day-to-day lives behind those numbers, we are fundamentally different in how we respond to events and actions" he told her and she nodded
"But my decision remains, do not enter my store again please. I accept that you are telling the truth, however my point still remains, if you did not wish to irritate me to this extent then you would have taken appropriate actions. Good day" he said as he walked out of the office, leaving Tsunade to slump noisily in her chair as she rubbed her face and wondered about the personal cost of the job she had undertaken.
Naruto made good time back to his store and ducked in before Haku woke up or the deliveries arrived, neither of which he was keen to miss, especially since he would have to explain the situation to Haku, who would no doubt want to speak to Tsunade herself to sort things out.
He threw his jacket down onto one of the tables and sat down at it heavily, sighing while rubbing his face as he considered having a drink so early in the morning and whether Haku would murder him when she found out.
That night was quiet. Naruto's mood had improved but many people had seen him being taken to the Hokage Tower with the look of thunder on his face, and as such many were trying not to irritate him any more than he already was, despite the fact that he was only angry at the Hokage and those two Anbu who had thought to drag him out of bed stupidly early, the same ones that had picked him up the day before to speak to the Hokage and meet the Cloud ambassadors.
The atmosphere was quiet but not subdued. The two sections of the military split up as soon as they walked in and were served quickly enough, however Naruto was vigilant for the Anbu and Hokage, whom he had banned from entering his store. He was spiteful when angered, though admittedly it took something special to anger him to this extent. The fact that he was being used by the Hokage was not something that sat well with him at all, even if it was to the benefit of the village. He was not a tool. He had spent his entire life fighting against that label and had succeeded, and after Sarutobi's death he believed something might have changed.
The door opened and in walked the two Anbu from earlier, though not before Yugito pushed in ahead of them and took up her seat in front of Naruto.
She looked to him to ask for something but must have seen the look on his face or in his eyes; because she silently closed her mouth and turned to regard the two men she had pushed ahead of to get to the bar as quickly as possible.
"You two" Naruto called out, causing conversation in the room to die suddenly as the two Anbu looked at him
"What?" the older of the two asked harshly and Naruto shook his head while the other Anbu looked on at his partner with a tired look
"You two are banned from here" he told them and a few people tensed.
It was a rare day indeed when Naruto banned anyone from the Anbu. Many of them received special treatment from him and his store, so for him to ban two, fairly new, members outright was something no one had ever seen happened before, let alone expect, though a few older Anbu shook their head, apparently realising what the newbie had done to anger Naruto to such an extent.
"What?" the man asked lowly and Naruto straightened as the atmosphere grew tense "oh, I'm sorry, did I wake you up too early civy?" the man asked mockingly, and more than a few customers frowned at him, some of the Anbu shifting slightly so they were ready if he tried anything.
"That is not the problem. You have are disrespectful to the civilians around you, those who keep you supplied with weapons and kit to allow you your position as an 'elite'" Naruto told the man "and as such I have to ban you. I have no interest in serving one such as yourself" he told the man who took a step forwards, causing many to tense and grip their weapons more tightly
"What about him then?" he asked while pointing to the man behind him
"He has been more forthcoming, so I will make an exception this once. You are, after all, the only Anbu member I have had to ban from here" he said and the other man moved away from the first one who looked rather angry
"You're just a civy!" he roared and Naruto frowned deeper
"Leave, you are disturbing my customers" he said calmly and the man went to move only to find a blade at his throat, courtesy of Yugito who looked at him with fierce eyes
"He asked you to leave" she hissed, not unlike a cat
"Getting outsiders to do you're…" the man started to retort only for someone to stand up and punch him, hard, sending him crashing through the floor
"That's enough" the person barked
"C-captain" the man gasped, clutching his shattered nose as he looked up in fear
"Get out of my sight" he growled and the man scrambled out of the bar while Naruto sighed and nodded his thanks to the man as Yugito sat back down in front of him
"Thank you" he said to her and she nodded, the ones watching her had turned back to their own drinks, having apparently decided that she was no threat to Naruto or to them
"That happen often?" she asked and he shook his head
"Let's just say a lots happened, and I'm less forgiving than usual" he told her and she nodded while sipping at her drink that Naruto had placed down in front of her without really looking
"You really are quite good at this" she admitted, referring to his choice of drink, and he nodded his head
"Practise makes perfect, well, that and having a good memory" he told her and she nodded with a smile even as he noticed someone else outside his door that he had little interest in seeing at that moment in time, having just dealt with one annoyance he was not keen to have another.
"Wait here a moment" he told her, turning to Haku "don't mess up" he told her and she pouted in annoyance as he walked out into the cold night air, breathing deeply as he stood in front of the Hokage who looked more than a little pensive
"Hokage-sama" he greeted her and she twitched slightly
"Naruto-san…I-I wanted to apologise once again for my mistake" she said and he frowned
"We have already discussed this, you must have known that this act would anger me, so why did you do it?" he asked her and she looked away while gritting her teeth
"It was…a calculated risk" she told him
"But you messed up the numbers"
"Yes, myself and the council did not think…" she trailed off
"That I would be so hostile?" he asked her "you must have never heard how I was with Sarutobi then, he gave up with me quite quickly"
"I know, however I hope this has not…damaged our relationship any" she said diplomatically and Naruto looked at the ground for a moment
"Hokage-sama" he said "you and I both know that I cannot really forgive you for this, you have proved to me that you are just another Sarutobi, and I am not kind to those who treat me like he did" he said and she nodded with her head bowed "so, yes, it has damaged our relationship, as you called it" he told her firmly and she nodded
"I understand" she said as she straightened back up and turned to leave "you should know then, that the civilian council have been talking about electing you as their head representative" she told him and he nodded, he had been hearing similar rumours recently as well
"Thank you for the information, I will speak to them soon" he told her and she nodded before disappearing off into the night while he returned to the bar
"Not even afraid of the Hokage huh?" Yugito asked him and he shook his head
"Someone's got to stand up to them, otherwise they would all be like that other guy" he told her and she nodded while he allowed his mind to fill with plans for the coming days.
Sorry for the major delay in writing this, but my Muse died until recently.
For those of you wondering, thanks to Fanfiction suddenly enforcing its rules after ten years of silence, I have moved Dog and Fox and others to Adultfanfiction under the same name, under the same author name as well or EternalVoid
Aside from that I will soon be posting another idea up here soon, so please R&R that if you can.
Aside from that I thank you for your patience and I would also like to take a moment to answer some questions:
1. If you don't like this story then don't read and don't comment please, I only need constructive comments.
2. I screwed with the ages at the beginning to make for a better story, it is easily explained away so it shouldn't present a problem.
3. The relationship with Haku has been decided, however, it is not the main point of this story, it is not a romance novel.
That is all, thank you once again for reading and please do send me reviews to help me make this story better. I should be back to my usual update speed of one chapter a week, so look forward to it.