Disclaimer: I do not own any Naruto characters…

Note 1: Thank you all for reviewing! I'm glad you've all been enjoying it so far!

Lots of people had a lot of questions that ran along the same line so instead of answering everyone individually, I'll just try to answer them all here. If something isn't answered, it'll be because I don't want to reveal too much about it at the moment.

«This was most mentioned: Haruki/Naruto disappearing at the end of this fic. I won't say anything on this right now to keep people guessing.»

«Right now, Shikaku knows that Haruki/Naruto is from the future but he doesn't know that Haruki will disappear once his job is done. Haruki/Naruto's not planning on telling anyone either and that's one of the main struggles he'll have; getting close to people will only hurt them once he leaves.»

«This will be a GEN fic. I will not be putting any pairings with Haruki/Naruto.»

«Hinata and Neji will come up quite soon and they'll be seen interacting with their family.»

«About the Byakugan; in this fic, the Byakugan can tell Kage Bunshins apart from the real ones but most Hyuugas find it quite difficult. I've decided that Hinata will have this skill naturally but in terms of physical strength, Neji is still much stronger.»

«I don't think I want a lot of people finding out that Haruki/Naruto is related to Minato or Kushina in any way at the moment, though that might change in the future.»

«Haruki's mental issues will come out eventually and I'm planning that part around the Chuunin Exams. And since he's a shinobi, no normal civilian means of therapy will really work for him.»

«For now, Shikaku will be the only one to figure this out so quickly. Jiraiya and Tsunade will be told later on, but at the moment, no one else will make the connection.»

«If or when Haruki disappears, it will be within a year, give or take. I'm planning for this fic to span about that time.»

«If or when Haruki disappears, everyone will still remember him. This would be a reason as to why he doesn't want to get too close to anyone, though Kakashi's already stomped on that plan.»

«About Tsunade and Jiraiya; I already have a general idea of what I'll be doing with them in this fic. With Tsunade, both Haruki and Naruto will be involved and she won't return until after the Wave Mission but before the Chuunin Exams.»

«As you will see (eventually), Team 7 will be assigned the Wave Mission at the end of this chapter. And yes, I have an actual plot for that mission.»

«The Genin will eventually all meet and Haruki will be brought up but not just yet.»

Note 2: *IMPORTANT*! The meeting with Kumo in this chapter is based entirely on deathstalker982's idea. Naruto's designated bijuu trainer is entirely his suggestion.

*To deathstalker982: Hopefully, I haven't butchered this part too badly. Thanks for giving me the idea!*

NOTE 3: *VERY IMPORTANT*! Okay, so this is part of PART 2 of one chapter. I've been having a huge writer's block trying to write this chapter so I haven't been able to finish it yet. I promised I'd put something up this week though so I've decided to upload what I could and continue working on the rest. This does NOT mean I'm putting it on hiatus or anything; just that I haven't finished this part. When I do finish it, which I'm not sure when that'll be, I'll post a COMPLETE chapter 8 in place of this.

Note 4: Enjoy!


Chapter 8 –

"The Hokage couldn't have called us earlier or something? Or tomorrow? I was eating dinner."

Kurenai patted her irate friend on the shoulder. "Anko, Sandaime-sama wouldn't have called us at this time if it wasn't important."

Anko rolled her eyes but settled for sulking as they approached the Hokage's office. She had bumped into Kurenai outside the Hokage Tower and, after realizing that they had both been summoned but having no idea why, had made their way up together.

As they stepped into the office, they both blinked in surprise when they saw other shinobi already assembled in the room, a bunch of chairs lined up neatly in the room.

"Yuugao? Hayate?" Anko made her way over to the small group gathered on one side of the office, Kurenai following behind her. "And you four idiots too. What's goin' on?"

Used to her personality, they all took the insult, which was really more of an endearment, in stride and greeted the two kunoichi with a round of nods.

"Not sure," Hayate was the one to reply, straddling a wooden chair with his arms propped on the back of it. "We all got here only a few minutes ago."

As they pulled up chairs as well, Kurenai frowned at Hayate, studying the kenjutsu expert closely for a long moment. There were only the faintest of bags under his eyes and his shoulders were completely relaxed for once. "Hayate?" Kurenai noted the others' grins with some consternation. "You look… better today. A lot better. Did something happen?"

Hayate grinned openly at her. "Oh good; it really is noticeable. I just got out a few hours ago and haven't really seen anyone yet."

Kurenai looked around, feeling completely lost. "Guys, what's going on? Got out from where?"

Anko spoke up again, waving an excited hand in Hayate's direction. "Ya can't tell, Kurenai? Hayate's been cured!"

Kurenai sat frozen in her chair, stunned as she looked from one face to another, all smiling broadly back at her. "You're serious?"

Taking turns, Genma and Raidou explained the previous day's events to her as Kurenai took it in with wide eyes. And then, smiling in delight herself, she congratulated Hayate enthusiastically. She wasn't as close to Hayate or the others as much as Anko was but she still considered them friends and she was grateful to whoever it was that had managed to pull something like this from thin air.

"You all seem happy. What's the occasion?"

They all turned to see Asuma walk in, Gai following close behind. The story was repeated again with no less feeling and Asuma smiled and clapped the kenjutsu specialist on the back before taking a seat next to Kurenai while Gai all but bounced in his chair, proclaiming about the wonders of youth. This continued on for several seconds before Anko shut him up with a well-placed threat to his manhood.

"So does anyone know what's going on?" Kotetsu asked as they all finally settled down.

Asuma shrugged. "I got a message to head to the Hokage's office but nothing more than that."

"That's what the rest of us got too," Izumo nodded, leaning back in his chair. "Wonder what the Hokage wants."

Genma suddenly straightened, eyes focused over their heads. "I'm going to guess that it has something to do with what Haruki was saying the other day. Take a look."

They all turned and then hastily straightened in their seats as the six Clan Heads of Konoha filed in, with Hyuuga Hizashi walking alongside his brother and Inuzuka Hana walking beside her mother. All of them glanced briefly around the office before quietly taking seats on the left side of the room. Hana exchanged a few more words with the Inuzuka Clan Head before rising and making her way over to them.

"Hana-chan, is this about the meeting with Kumo?" Kotetsu immediately asked as she took a seat with them. At her amused nod, he exchanged a bewildered glance with Izumo. "Then what the hell are we doing here? We're Chuunin!"

Hana shook her head. "I'm not sure about the details. My mom just mentioned a summit conference with Kumogakure. But I got the Hokage's summon as well so," She shrugged. "Here I am."

Footsteps at the door made them turn a third time, and the entire room rose to their feet as the Hokage walked in, Ibiki, the ANBU General, and the ANBU Second a few steps behind him. Sarutobi moved to the front of the room while Ibiki veered off, stopping near the back a few feet away from Anko, arms crossed and looking as imposing as ever. The two masked shinobi settled similarly on the right behind the Clan Heads.

"Please sit," The Hokage called from the front, taking a seat himself behind his desk. "This will take a while. Thank you for coming on such short notice."

They all sat down again, attention focused entirely on Sarutobi now. The Hokage looked around before releasing a resigned sigh. "It seems we're still waiting for two more though." He paused before glancing at Hayate. "I heard about the good news, Hayate. Congratulations on the recovery."

Hayate bowed his head respectfully. "Thank you, Hokage-sama."

Beside him, Anko piped up, "Hokage-sama, do you know who gave the doctors the cure?"

Everyone was focused on this exchange now even as Sarutobi inclined his head. "I do, but I believe we both know he has no wish to be identified."

Anko scowled, crossing her arms. "C'mon Hokage-sama! Even a hint would-"

"Leave it, Anko," Genma interrupted from his seat, senbon stuck in his mouth as usual. "Whoever he is doesn't want to be known."

The purple-haired kunoichi snapped her head around to study the senbon-wielder suspiciously. From Hayate's other side, Yuugao spoke up, interest clear in her voice, "Do you know who it is, Genma?"

Genma shrugged. "Just suspicions."

Anko immediately glared. "Well let's hear them then!"

The Tokubetsu Jounin grunted indifferently. "I only have suspicions, Anko. Nothing concrete."

"And you wouldn't say anyway, would you?" Raidou observed dryly. He knew his friend. If Genma was being tightlipped on purpose, no amount of prying would get anything out of him.

Genma smirked around his senbon and proceeded to ignore the dark glower Anko sent his way.

A few of the Clan Heads had blatant interest on their faces but none of them had time to raise their own questions before two voices, muffled but slowly coming closer, drew their attention to one of the office windows.

"-ven know where I live? Only the Hokage knows where I live."

"I used to be a spy. I'm rather good at finding things out."

"Do you have any idea what this is going to do to my reputation? I'm going to give the Hokage a heart-attack!"

"I doubt the old man's gonna keel over just because you showed up only a few minutes late. Now stop complaining; we're here."

A moment later, two shadowed figures landed on the windowsill, silver and crimson gleaming against the evening sky in the light of the Hokage's office.

"Hey old man," Haruki jumped inside, absently tugging his coat back in place as Kakashi followed him in. "Sorry we're late."

The entire room stared, speechless for several long seconds. Kakashi and Haruki exchanged a glance and before turning to stare back.

"It isn't that shocking, is it?" Haruki finally said, exasperation leaking into his voice. "He's still a few minutes late."

Sarutobi was the first to speak, chuckling as he rose to his feet. "True, Haruki, but it has never happened before."

Haruki just grinned a little, nudging the Copy-nin forward. Kakashi looked as bored as ever but there was a pleased glint in his eye as he surveyed the surprised shinobi in the room.

"How in the world did you do it?" Kurenai voiced, astonishment clear on her face. "We'd usually have to wait at least an hour before Kakashi turns up."

Haruki shrugged, stepping further into the office as he glanced back at Kakashi and tipped his head towards the chairs. Wordlessly, Kakashi sauntered forward and took a seat at the end next to Asuma. "I just went to pick him up. Has no one ever thought to do that? He can't exactly avoid a meeting if someone makes sure he gets here on time."

"No one knows where he lives," Genma pointed out, but Haruki caught a puzzlingly thoughtful look in the senbon-wielder's eyes, as if he was thinking about something else entirely as he studied the redhead.

"Ah, well, he lives-"

"Haruki."

The warning came from the Copy-nin and Haruki sighed and shrugged apologetically. "Sorry, can't say."

Again, the rest of the room was watching them with something akin to incredulous fascination and Haruki frowned a little before glancing at the Hokage again.

Sarutobi just shook his head before coming around the desk to stand beside Haruki. "Alright, let's get this meeting started. I'm sure everyone realizes that we are here to discuss the summit conference with Kumogakure. Before we start on that though, some of you still need to be filled in on the real details of what brought us to this point in the first place." He gestured to the Jounin next to him. "As most, if not all of you know, this is Kazama Haruki. He is the one responsible for bringing back Hyuuga Hizashi."

The next ten minutes were spent giving a semi-detailed explanation of the circumstances surrounding the Hyuuga Clan Head's brother as Haruki stood motionless under the other shinobi's sharp gazes, features blank.

When Sarutobi finished, there were varied expressions on each of the room's occupants' faces. The Clan Heads and Hizashi already knew but the other half of the room hadn't and was now staring at Haruki with everything from thoughtfulness to amazement.

"So this is why no one really seems to know you?" Kotetsu enquired. "You haven't been back in eight years?"

Haruki inclined his head, ignoring the part of his mind that admonished him for lying. It was necessary, and he didn't have time to indulge in his conscience at the moment.

"That's amazing," Yuugao remarked, respect evident in her words. "You managed to corner Kumo in less than two weeks and they won't even be able to accuse us of anything in this."

"Yes," Sarutobi agreed. "Which brings us back to the point of this meeting. The conference with Kumo will consist of myself and twelve others. Haruki will be one of course, and we have come up with a list of those who will accompany me as well. The Clan Heads make seven, and Hizashi will make eight," There was a general round of nods from the right side of the room. "Yuugao and Hayate will come as well," Mild surprise flashed across Hayate's face but he nodded a moment after Yuugao inclined her head. "Asuma," Asuma blinked, mildly startled but straightened and nodded without pause. "And Kakashi." The Copy-nin acknowledged this with a single nod though his visible eye slid over to the red-haired Jounin for a brief moment, calculating behind the lazy perusal.

"The rest of you will remain in Konoha on standby in case Kumo tries anything while I am away," Sarutobi continued before gesturing to Haruki again. "One of the things we will request from Kumo is something Haruki and I came up with. I'll let him explain."

Haruki nodded and took a step back, steadying the mild stir of apprehension in his stomach with relative ease. He had long since gotten used to talking in front of crowds.

"Right," He started, noting the attentiveness in every shinobi's expression. "I'm sure you all know Uzumaki Naruto?"

There was a rush of murmurs around the room before Anko spoke up. "He's the demon brat, isn't-"

The kunoichi abruptly cut herself off when cerulean eyes froze over and pinned her with an icy stare. From her right, Kakashi's typical lazy drawl wasn't so lazy anymore. There was just the slightest edge of steel underlying his voice as he spoke.

"Maa, Anko, that 'demon brat' is my student."

It was strange, a detached part of Anko's mind thought. Sharingan no Kakashi was famed for his detached nonchalance and cool head in any situation and often showed nothing but disinterest in everything not directly related to the immediate safety of Konoha. The man was hard-pressed to care about anything on a good day. And yet, here he was, defending one of his students for something Anko had said that she hadn't even meant as an insult. She wondered if Haruki had anything to do with this change.

"That's not what I meant," She snapped back, mostly at Kakashi because Haruki wasn't even frowning and she could already feel the chill trickling down her spine. She almost pitied any poor fool who pissed him off enough to receive the full brunt of that glare. "I've got nothin' against the kid. I can tell a child from a demon, Hatake."

Anko breathed an inward sigh of relief when Kakashi relaxed enough to eye-smile an almost-apology at her. She shot an irritated glare back before turning to Haruki again to check his expression. The frigid stare was gone, replaced by his typically neutral expression again.

"What about him then?" She asked, not quite able to hide a scowl from surfacing on her face.

Haruki had the decency to look apologetic for a brief moment and Anko settled back down with a huff.

"Well then," Haruki continued, his gaze sweeping around the room. "As you know, Naruto is the Kyuubi Jinchuuriki. But right now, all he knows is why this village hates him so much," Cerulean darkened to indigo as he spoke. "He doesn't understand the Kyuubi's power, nor does he realize how strong he can become if he manages to work together with the fox."

"Wait, wait, wait," Asuma straightened from his seat, something like alarm flashing across his face. "We don't want Naruto to use that demon fox's power."

"Why not?" Haruki immediately countered, and several in the office noted the way his shoulders squared, as if preparing for battle. "The Kyuubi's chakra is just another source of strength one can use. The Uchihas have their Sharingan; the Hyuugas have their Byakugan; the Aburames have their kikaichuu; the Inuzukas have their dogs. Naruto and Kurama are no different. Working together, they could become very strong."

"…Kurama?" Asuma frowned, confused.

"The Kyuubi's name," Haruki answered shortly, leaving half the room looking nonplussed. "If Naruto can work together with the fox, his potential would increase even more and Konoha would become that much stronger."

"The Kyuubi tried to destroy Konoha twelve years ago," Tsume cut in flatly, eyes narrowed. "I've got nothing against the brat; my own son is friends with him, but who knows what that monster would do if he could influence the boy."

Haruki opened his mouth before closing it again, mentally calming Kurama as growls resonated in his mindscape. 'They don't know yet,' He reminded the fox.

'Then tell them. This is degrading.'

"Alright," Haruki said aloud, glancing sideways at the Hokage. "I think I'll have to go further back and tell you something else then. Old man, you remember what I said about who was really behind the Kyuubi attack?"

Sarutobi nodded thoughtfully as his gaze swept over the occupants of the room. He had been told of the real mastermind behind several disasters hitting Konoha but he suspected that there was still something Haruki was holding back from him. But the former Hokage had said nothing more on the subject so Sarutobi had not pushed. He trusted Haruki to tell him when he needed to know. "Tell them. But this is an S-class secret. Word of this must not get out."

There was a general round of nods as the Chuunin shifted uncertainly, glancing at each other. Why exactly were they here again? They wouldn't tell anyone of anything they heard here today but it was rare for someone below Jounin to be privy to top-secret information.

"Okay," Haruki nodded decisively. "How many of you know who Uchiha Madara is?"

There were several sharp intakes of breath as all the Clan Heads glanced sharply at one another. Shikaku kept his gaze firmly on the red-haired Jounin. He had already heard about the events of the Kyuubi attack from Haruki when they had gone out for dinner the other night.

"Uchiha Madara was the Clan Head of the Uchiha Clan during the Shodaime's reign, right?" Hayate put in slowly. "He helped found Konoha but he betrayed it in the end. He and the Shodaime fought at the Valley of the End and he was killed in the battle, wasn't he?"

"No," Haruki observed the shock that appeared on several shinobi's faces but there were a few who only looked pensively thoughtful, as if they had suspected this all along. "Uchiha Madara survived that battle. Barely, but he did, and he's still around today. Needless to say, Konoha isn't his favorite village at the moment. Madara's Sharingan has the ability to control Kurama and use him in battle. It was Madara who forced him to attack Konoha all those years ago; it was not Kurama's choice. By the time the Yondaime managed to stop Madara's influence over the Kyuubi, Kurama was already too angry to stop."

Absently, twitching the senbon in his mouth, Genma glanced wryly at his friends. They looked almost catatonic with shock. Then again, he wasn't doing much better. Whatever he had been expecting in the meeting today, it was not this. In his mind, he had imagined the briefing to be something along the lines of we will be meeting with Kumo; get your gear together; meet at the main gates; dismissed. Judging by most of the Clan Heads' expressions, they hadn't been expecting this either.

He turned back to the front of the room, cocking his head to observe the red-haired Jounin standing calmly beside the Hokage. Surely an infiltration mission to Kumo, no matter how long, wouldn't result in uncovering something of this magnitude, so how did Haruki know? He wanted to ask, but held his tongue. There was something… off about Haruki's background and he wasn't sure if the questions he wanted to voice would put him in a difficult position.

As it turned out, Genma needn't have worried. Someone else posted the question before he could contemplate it any further.

"Wait, you got all this in an infiltration mission to Kumo?" Tsume demanded, not understanding the heavy frown that Shikaku suddenly directed her way. "Does that mean they know this stuff?"

"No, no," Haruki shook his head. "I'm good at finding things out and I've done a little digging while I was away."

It was clear that Tsume was not satisfied with this answer but Shikaku spoke up before she could probe further, focusing everyone's attention back to the main point. "Then we know to keep an eye out for Uchiha Madara. But what does the Kyuubi and Naruto have to do with the conference with Kumo?"

Haruki nodded. "The Kyuubi is not just a mindless beast. He has his own thoughts and, in his right mind, would only attack places where human malice has collected and festered since his ability is to detect negative emotions. If Naruto gets in touch with the fox, Kurama could be convinced to work together with Naruto. And if that happens, someone will have to teach him how to wield the Kyuubi's chakra. That's where Kumo comes in. During the conference, we will most likely agree to a diplomat from Kumo to come live in Konoha as a sign of continued peace between our two villages."

Haruki withdrew two scrolls and unraveled them, showing the audience a depiction of the two shinobi he was about to introduce. "This," He held up the scroll in his right hand. "Is the Raikage's adoptive brother, Killer B. I believe he's powerful enough to be ANBU-level but he is named the Guardian of Kumogakure since, in addition to being their kage's family, he is also the Jinchuuriki of Gyuuki, the Hachibi."

Ignoring the startled gasps from his captivated listeners, Haruki held up the scroll in his left hand. "And this is Nii Yugito, a Jounin-level kunoichi and a good strategist, as well as one of the Raikage's most trusted. She's the Jinchuuriki of Matatabi, the Nibi."

Haruki paused and scanned the room, wondering if that had been one too many surprises in the last half hour.

"…Two Jinchuurikis?" Kurenai finally voiced faintly. "But… we've never heard of any of this before!"

Haruki shrugged, rolling up the scrolls again. "Kumo doesn't go around proclaiming it to the world, though they don't exactly hide it either. And it isn't as if either of them uses their bijuu's chakra every time they enter a fight. They're both quite strong on their own. One of them can train Naruto in the beginning steps of contacting Kurama."

"Are you saying that they can fully control their bijuus?" Inoichi enquired, blue-green gaze unwavering as he stared back at Haruki.

Haruki nodded. "Very well too. Both of them are quite adept at working together with their bijuus." A mirthless crooked smile flitted across his features. "They are two of their village's most prized shinobi; Kumo's pride, you could say."

The red-haired Jounin's tone wasn't quite accusing - more reproachful than anything else - but several of them shifted uncomfortably in their seats.

Haruki ignored this and focused on the gathered Clan Heads instead. "I'd like the Clan Heads to agree to this plan before we go ahead with it."

A short silence followed and Haruki forced himself to stay still. It wouldn't do to look too eager.

"I agree to this plan," Shikaku suddenly spoke up, cutting the tension in the air. Inoichi and Chouza both turned to blink at him, mildly startled. It wasn't like the Jounin Commander to acquiesce so easily without going over everything several times first. Shikaku paid them no mind, continuing evenly, "If Naruto can fully harness the Kyuubi's power, it would be beneficial to Konoha, and perhaps even turn the people's views of him to something more positive. Though I believe Naruto to be quite loyal to this village, what with his eagerness to become a Konoha shinobi, having almost the entire population against him is a disservice to both him and ourselves, not to mention it is downright shameful to treat the boy so badly when he is holding back the Kyuubi for us. And whether we like it or not, the fox, though dormant, could one day break free of its seal. Since that is a possibility, I'd much rather have the fox on our side than against us."

Thoughtful murmurs swept the room as Haruki shot the Nara Head a discreet look of thanks. Shikaku gazed back calmly, tilting his head in a miniscule nod. He had meant what he said two nights ago; he wouldn't leave the time traveler to fend for himself anymore. Although he would have to pull the redhead aside later and maybe lecture him a bit about giving him the full details before telling anyone else. He could've come up with an even stronger defense had he had time.

"Well if that's the case, I agree with Shikaku," Inoichi nodded at Haruki. "I'd much rather fight beside- Kurama, was it? I'd much rather fight beside him than against him if it comes to that. And the boy deserves a break from the things the villagers say. Maybe if they see that he can work with the Kyuubi, they'll be more open to his presence in Konoha."

Chouza wasn't far behind as he nodded in agreement. It was widely known and accepted that one concession from their clans really meant three. "Agreed. Konoha would be much stronger with a bijuu on our side, and Naruto-kun would benefit from this as well."

Near the back, Hiashi glanced at his twin, raising a questioning eyebrow. He had already accepted that Hizashi knew something about Haruki that he didn't - like how the Jounin seemed to know so many things that he really shouldn't (he didn't believe for a moment that Haruki had just picked it up by doing a little digging) - and usually turned to his brother in cases like this. "It sounds like a good plan," He commented in a low voice as he studied Hizashi's expression. "What do you think?"

Hizashi just smiled and inclined his head. "I think it is a good plan as well. Naruto working with the Kyuubi would greatly benefit Konoha."

Hiashi nodded, shooting an exasperated look at his twin for the unhelpful agreement. He had been hoping for a hint to the mystery surrounding Haruki, at the very least. Turning to face forward again, he spoke up, "I agree as well. But whoever is chosen should be closely watched."

"Of course," Haruki nodded. "That would go for anyone coming to the village as a diplomatic envoy."

Tsume listened to the other Clan Heads' agreement before glancing impatiently at Shibi. "Well?" She asked in a lowered voice. "What do you think?"

Shibi glanced sidelong at his former teammate and raised an eyebrow. Tsume rolled her eyes. Sometimes, she wondered when she had managed to pick up enough patience to dissect an Aburame's silent-speech. A raised right eyebrow alone had thirty-six different meanings (she had counted). This one meant why are you asking me?

"Because I think it's a good idea but I'm not just gonna pitch headfirst into this like everyone else is doing today," Tsume muttered back. "I mean, since when does that stick-up-his-ass Hyuuga agree so easily to anything?"

This time, Shibi frowned at her (which had fifty-two different meanings), a minute crease in his brow that was only noticeable to someone looking for it. Tsume huffed in irritation. "You got used to my language a long time ago. Concentrate on the important thing here, Shibi."

Shibi finally sighed (and even Tsume had lost count of how many meanings that could amount to; she had given up after ninety-four and had simply memorized the sounds instead) and said curtly, "I agree with this plan. It is sound, and advantageous to Konohagakure."

Tsume nodded, suppressing a sigh of her own as she turned back to the front. Personally, she had no objections, and if even Shibi agreed, she would support this plan fully. But still, there was something bigger here, something someone in the room must know and wasn't telling, and Haruki was smack in the middle of it.

"We agree too," She called out bluntly. "But I'd like a general idea of each one of them before deciding who to pick."

Haruki nodded, mentally releasing a relieved sigh. Tsume and Shibi had been his biggest worries. He hadn't interacted with them very much in this timeline and wasn't sure if his plan would be enough to put aside the suspicions that he knew they both had of him.

"Great. Then," Haruki turned to look at Kakashi. "We'd need to work out some sort of deal with Kumo first, and in this case, Kakashi would get the last word in Naruto's training."

The Copy-nin lifted an eyebrow at this, gaze flickering briefly to the Hokage and then moving on to focus on Shikaku before returning to Haruki again. He had been annoyed when a spark of betrayal had stirred inside him after catching the unsurprised expression on the Nara Head's face once Haruki had revealed the mastermind behind the Kyuubi attack, as well as the short exchange between them after Shikaku had defended the redhead's plan, and it was still nagging insistently at the back of his mind right now. With hidden irritation, he shoved it down and concentrated on the matter at hand. What did it matter if Haruki had told Shikaku first anyway? It certainly didn't concern him. The Nara Head had probably finally caught up to the redhead and had managed to worm a straight answer out of Haruki.

"Whoever trains Naruto will have to do it while I'm there as well," He said instead, voice light. "And my other two students will have to know about Naruto's circumstances too."

Haruki nodded immediately. "Of course, but whether or not you tell them about the Kyuubi should be up to Naruto. He should be the one to choose whether or not they should know."

Kakashi inclined his head in acquiescence. "That sounds fine. I'll take it up with him after the conference."

Haruki nodded again. His younger counterpart would most likely want his teammates to know, nervous though he'd be, but he was sure both Sakura and Sasuke would take it in stride.

"Alright then, moving on," Haruki turned back to the crowd in general. "I'll give you an overview of Killer B first." He pulled out a small booklet that he had spent a few hours filling up with all the things he could remember about the allies and enemies he had had in his former life. "Killer B is very proud of his own power so the first thing to remember during the summit is to not insult his bijuu. Like Naruto can be at times, Killer B can be quite cocky and stubborn, especially in terms of his own strength, and he demands respect from others and asks to be called "Jinchuuriki-sama" and his bijuu be called "Hachibi-sama"."

Haruki paused and glanced up. The entire room looked to be in a unified state of incredulity. Smothering laughter, he continued his summarization.

"He has a, er, special way of expressing his pride through song, more specifically in rap-style. Oh, and he'll even write his rhymes in the middle of a fight, or during an important meeting, even if they're no good, which is usually the case, so just go along with it."

Haruki looked up again. The incredulity had turned into the beginnings of traumatized disbelief. Kakashi was glancing between the booklet Haruki was reading out of and Gai. The taijutsu specialist was the only one who seemed to be completely at ease with Killer B's description. Still trying not to snicker, Haruki returned to his report.

"B doesn't respect anyone who makes fun of rap or his lyrics, so in other words, don't laugh, or mouth off to him, or do anything to offend him if you want to work out a deal to bring him back to Konoha. For his battle skills, he's not the type of person to work with strategies with other people; he was already completing missions that were supposed to be assigned for both him and his brother, without the Raikage's knowledge. The only person B will listen to is the Raikage since he's the only one able to keep him in check. B knows talent when he sees it though, and he respects those with it. A good example would be his fellow Kumo jinchuuriki, Yugito; he really looks up to her for her abilities. B has a very close relationship with his older brother, and the reason behind him becoming a jinchuuriki in the first place was for the sake of the Raikage. He didn't complain, and he's always cheerful and determined, much like Naruto is.

"However, even though he sounds pretty hotheaded, when someone close to him is in danger, he has no qualms about putting himself at risk to save them, if necessary. As far as I know, he has a pretty good relationship with Gyuuki. They don't have any problems working with each other and both of them are damn strong by themselves. As far as abilities go, B's good at taijutsu and kenjutsu, and he has the ability to flow lightning-natured chakra through his blades to increase their cutting power." Haruki stopped for a moment. He was very familiar with B's skills but he wasn't quite sure if they reached the level he knew them to be yet.

"Never underestimate his ability with Raiton techniques," He said at last. "He's a monster with them." He scanned his book. "He has full control over his bijuu, and he's the only living jinchuuriki who can retain his full bijuu form indefinitely." He paused again, hesitating for a moment. "Though when I say 'control'," Haruki clarified. "B and Gyuuki are more like partners than anything else, which makes them even stronger in battle. Anyway, B's also kind and compassionate, so he'd probably make a pretty good teacher for Naruto if we go with him."

Haruki looked up once more as he finished, studying his audience for a reaction. Most looked a little stunned at the summary of Killer B's abilities, but surprisingly, it was Kakashi who spoke first.

"So basically," Kakashi said in an oddly neutral voice. "This Killer B, with his rap and- and lyrics and whatever else he's got, is the Maito Gai of Kumogakure."

It wasn't a question but Haruki contemplated it for a moment before nodding somewhat cautiously. He supposed, in terms of, well, eccentricities, that was true. "Er, I guess so, yeah."

"I see," Kakashi raised one hand, deadpanning, "I don't care who she is; I vote for the woman."

This set off an immediate chain reaction. Beside him, both Asuma and Kurenai raised their hands as well and chorused, "Seconded!"

"Us too!" Yuugao, Hayate, Kotetsu, Izumo, Anko, Raidou, and Hana's hands all shot up.

There was a distinct pause as everyone blinked. Gai looked mildly offended.

"I think Killer B-san is extremely youthful," He announced, much to the visible annoyance of Kakashi. "I would not mind such youthfulness in Konoha!"

"You wouldn't," Kurenai sighed. "What do the Clan Heads think?"

Inoichi chuckled but turned back to Haruki. "Let's hear about the other one first."

Haruki nodded and flipped a few pages. "Er, right, Nii Yugito; she's a hard worker, proud, wise, and a courageous kunoichi. I hear she's also firm and decisive in battle, and thoughtful of her teammates as well. She's younger than Killer B but, like I said before, he looks up to her for her skills. She's a decent strategist, and better at close-ranged combat. Because of the Nibi, she can grow her fingernails and toenails into claws, and she uses fire against her enemies very efficiently. She has the ability to fully transform into the Nibi while keeping her mind, and while she doesn't have complete control over Matatabi, she can control the transformation and how much of the Nibi's chakra she wants to use."

Clapping his book closed, Haruki scanned the room. "Obviously, I don't have as much on her as I do Killer B, but from what I gathered, she sounds like a pretty good candidate as well."

"She sounds like a good all-rounder," Shikaku commented. "Killer B may be very strong but he sounds like more of an offensive type."

"And we want someone strong, not overly strong," Tsume agreed. "This Yugito sounds like the best option."

Murmurs swept the group of Clan Heads while the Hokage glanced at Haruki. "Who do you want here?"

Haruki shrugged, making sure to keep his voice low enough so not to be overheard. "I don't really mind either one. Naruto would probably butt heads with Killer B at first, but then again, he butts heads with most new people. Yugito's the calmer of the two though, and B is..." He trailed off, eyes glazing over a little as memories with that particular Jinchuuriki surfaced.

Sarutobi frowned a little with concern. "You two were friends?"

Haruki stirred, shrugging again. "Allies, friends; we were on pretty good terms." His mouth twisted a little. "He saved my life."

Sarutobi observed him for a few seconds. "He sounds like a good man."

Haruki scoffed. "Drove me crazy sometimes. And he was crazy, jumping in front of-" He cut himself off before his shoulders slumped a little. "He died, to save me," He finished lamely.

Sarutobi said nothing. There really was nothing to say. It wasn't anyone's fault if one ninja died to save another, but there would always be a part of the survivor that would never let go of the guilt that came with it.

"We've agreed on Nii Yugito," Shikaku announced. "She seems more disciplined than Killer B as well, which would probably be good for Naruto."

Haruki quirked an enquiring eyebrow at this. What exactly are you implying here?

Eyes could laugh, and Haruki knew the Nara Head was mocking him right now.

With a mental snort, Haruki straightened and nodded. "Alright then, I'm finished here. Old man?"

Sarutobi stepped forward again. "The summit conference will be held tomorrow at nine in the morning, in the forested area outside of Yugakure. I expect those who are coming to be at the village gates by five, and those who aren't to be in position at that time as well." He paused and the occupants of the office took this as a cue to nod. Sarutobi continued, "I will also need a sweep patrol to head out in front of the rest of us. Kumo will likely do the same. Any volunteers?"

"I'll do it," Haruki offered immediately. He didn't know what kind of reaction he would have when he saw B and Yugito again. Better to catch sight of them first without a group of ninja around him.

Sarutobi nodded, expecting as much. "Pick someone to go with you, Haruki. Not the Clan Heads though."

Haruki's gaze, to his belated puzzlement, jumped straight to Kakashi before Sarutobi had even finished talking, eyes already asking before he could open his mouth. He blinked when he thought he caught a pleased glint flash through Kakashi's lone eye.

"Well?" Haruki prompted more grumpily than he had intended. Distantly, he noted that the entire room had leaned forward with interest again.

Kakashi seemed to ponder his request before eye-smiling at him and holding out a hand. Haruki understood instantly and scowled.

"No."

Kakashi didn't look all that concerned, lowering his hand again. "Then no," He countered easily.

Haruki scoffed, crossing his arms. "I don't needyou to come with me. I could take Asuma then."

Asuma put up his hands, already wary. "Oh no, I'm not getting into whatever this is."

Kakashi's smirk widened behind his mask. "Well then, it looks like you don't have much of a choice."

Haruki's scowl deepened. "This is blackmail."

Kakashi snorted. "That's rich, coming from you. You've been doing the same thing for days."

"Sacrifice is good for the soul!" Haruki retorted crossly.

"I could say the same thing," Kakashi said cheerfully.

Haruki glowered at him. Seconds ticked by as the two ninja waited in a stalemate. The rest of the room waited to see who would capitulate.

Finally, Haruki sighed and Kakashi's expression turned triumphant. He raised his hand again.

"Fine," Haruki pulled out an orange book from his vest, much to the astonishment of everyone watching. "But if you pull this or any other volume out at any time during the summit, I'll show you just how creative my seals can get."

Kakashi huffed but nodded reluctantly. "Deal. I'll even leave it at home." He gleefully tucked his precious Icha Icha away before turning to a bemused-looking Sarutobi. "So, Haruki and I for scouting tomorrow. When should we leave?"

Sarutobi shook his head, half-amused, half-exasperated. Since when did Hatake Kakashi act so childishly? "Four-thirty. You'll start out half an hour before us. Report back before we reach our destination."

Kakashi inclined his head along with Haruki and the meeting came to an end. Most of them filed out the door, stealing shrewd glances behind them as Kakashi and Haruki headed for the window and leapt out into the night.

"Hatake's finally lost it," Anko muttered, shaking her head.

"He's more relaxed and not as distant," Kurenai corrected. "I'm glad he's found someone to relate to."

Anko rolled her eyes, not quite able to hold her tongue. "Yeah, and next thing you know, he'll be handing out sweets to civilian children. What is the world coming to?"


TO BE CONTINUED...

I WILL update as soon as I finish the rest, but please review up to this point and tell me what you thought!

Yugakure (no Sato) – Village Hidden in Hot Water