Sarutobi Hiruzen was tired. He was so very tired. There just wasn't any other way to describe what he was feeling. Ever since Minato had been killed, Sarutobi had been forced to retake the mantel of Hokage so that the arrogant and bloodlusting bastard Danzo wouldn't get a chance at the seat. Danzo, who was once his best friend and greatest rival, was merely a shadow of his former self, never the same when their teacher, the Nidaime Hokage had passed him up for Sarutobi. Even Homura and Koharu treated their teammate differently, and Sarutobi felt all his previous love for them fall into question.
They were his teammates, the ones that he should always be able to rely on. The fact was, however, there was no trust between them, not anymore. Sarutobi was saddened by this, but accepted it. He had ignored the problems for years, letting the council gain power, more than it should have ever had. They used that power in opposition of him, and without a thought spared for the village. In total, they were the cause of the rapidly falling reputation of Konoha. Only the exploits of various ninja of their village kept them from falling into a bind like Sunagakure had.
Now, Suna, in a desperate attempt at gaining that reputation back, had teamed with Otogakure, in a plan to invade Konohagakure. They didn't count on their plans being discovered. Naruto had alerted Sarutobi of a spy, a gennin by the name of Kabuto. Sarutobi hadn't ever even met the so called gennin, which was a sure sign of a spy.
When apprehended, it became obvious that the child was a medic ninja, a very good one. That didn't mean that he could take out two squads of Anbu. Ibiki had enjoyed making the boy crack under torture. Orochimaru's plans were easily recovered. He was meeting with some Sunagakure ninja today to reveal what they had discovered.
The death of the Yondaime Kazekage weighed heavily on his old mind. Sarutobi sighed, he was far too old for this, but it needed to be done. Otogakure was in for a surprise when they went to invade. Without the Suna on their side the Invasion was doomed to failure. Orochimaru wouldn't be any wiser.
As for his pesky council? The civilian version had been disbanded. Homura and Koharu had been replaced as his advisers. They were now only elders, nothing more, and they held now political sway anymore. This was a NINJA village, not a Daimyo's village. There was only the Hokage, and nothing more.
Danzo was also dealt with. Sarutobi felt the need to cackle at his old friend, thinking Sarutobi was unawares of Ne Anbu. The Roots of Konohagakure, as Danzo liked to call them. Sarutobi understood the need for them, he knew that it was necessary, but that was beside's the point. Danzo had used Ne to plan a coup d'état, and take over as Hokage. Sarutobi scowled, this was not something that he could ever allow. Danzo was far to blood thirsty and only wanted war with other nations. There was nothing in his thought process for peace.
Jiraiya had been helpful in getting rid of the old geezer (not that he could talk). Danzo was executed when evidence of his helping Orochimaru was uncovered. Ne Anbu was disbanded. The youngest of them, a boy who called himself Sai, was the only one Sarutobi had hope for. The rest were killed, and the families were notified of what had been done to their once thought deceased relatives. It was a sad day in the life of many clans, especially the Yamanaka and the Hyuuga. Any Uchiha's that had been found were in custody. Sarutobi wished for Sasuke to identify them before deciding if they could be saved (e.i. if they were part of the Uchiha coup d'état, the reason the clan was executed). The other members of various clans hadn't even responded to anything that was said. Inoichi had examined their minds, only to find nothing but knowledge there.
Sai, however, had vague feelings of emotion at random intervals. Sarutobi smiled in happiness at the fact they could at least save one of them. He held not hope for the three Uchiha's. The only reason they weren't dead was because the clan head (Sasuke) was needed for permission. Sarutobi scowled at the reminder of politics.
The elder Hokage sighed as he looked out onto the village. This was the longest month of his life, something he'd never thought possible. Village secrets being leaked, coup d'état's, threats of war, Orochimaru, Jiraiya's return, Team Seven's promotion and mission and the various other mind numbing events. He should have never let the village get this bad, but that was going to end, right here and now.
"Hokage-sama. The Suna Jounin are here to see you now," his secretary called in.
"Send them in Mayumi-chan." Sarutobi chuckled.
Four figures entered the office. Three of which Sarutobi identified as body guards, and one Jounin, obviously of the Sunagakure council.
"Hokage-sama, my name in Baki, of Sunagakure. You wished to speak with us?" Baki was sweating on the inside, did they know?
Sarutobi flicked his wrist, signalling his Anbu to show themselves. "Seal the room, make sure no one over hears this. Scan the three guards," Sarutobi ordered.
Baki watched with wide eyes as his guards had their minds invaded. "Is this necessary?" He was more alarmed by the glare the Hokage shot at him.
"We've discovered spies in our ranks," Sarutobi started. Baki began sweating again. "We captured a young medic name Kabuto. During interrogation we learned of the Invasion."
Baki readied himself to make a break for it. Sarutobi motioned for him to stop. "That is only one reason you are here. Kabuto told us much, but the most disturbing was of Yondaime Kazekage's death."
Baki froze, "That's not possible." He had just spoken the Kazekage, just seen the man's face. How was that possible?!
"I'm afraid it is quite possible when one is my former student, Orochimaru. He was hailed as a genius for a reason, one of them being his ability to kill and replace important figures without anyone ever knowing. He literally steals their faces and uses it as his own." Sarutobi sighed, watching the disgusted looks on the faces of all those present. "I'm afraid your Kazekage has fallen prey of this technique. In other words, you've been played."
"Damn him!" Baki cursed. "We never would have known!"
"Exactly why I hold nothing against you," Hiruzen grinned. "I know that the orders of one Kage are not something you go against. The Invasion is far from your idea and you are merely another victim of my greatest mistake."
"I will inform the elders immediately!" Baki cursed again. "The Invasion was set to go off during the Jinchuuriki fight. When that happens, we will stand with Konoha!"
Sarutobi smiled, "And we will appreciate the help."
"We have an accord." Baki nodded to his guards and they left.
Sarutobi looked up at the monument. Finally, something was going right.
Temari and Kankuro were worried. And frightened. More frightened than worried if they were truly honest with themselves. Gaara had been acting stranger than ever, not speaking of blood and death since the Second Exam and had remained quiet whenever he was in their presence.
To say the least, they expected their little brother to snap and kill them at any point in time. It was driving them all mad.
"Kankuro!" Baki's voice called out. The two siblings jumped, startled. "Temari, where's Gaara? He needs to be here for this as well. We're having a meeting, everyone that came from Suna needs to meet in Hokage's office."
"Why?" Kankuro was frowning, he'd been looking forward to having the day off before training.
"Just do it!" Baki was pissed, it was easy to tell with the glare he was directing at everyone and everything. Something was beyond wrong here, and Kankuro knew better than to argue.
Gaara appeared in the doorway, frowning at Baki, who still seethed silently. He wasn't sure what this was all about, but he knew that their 'teacher' wouldn't miss his presence if it wasn't serious.
"What is it?" Baki jumped at his voice.
"The meeting starts in an hour. Make sure you aren't followed by anyone but Konohagakure ninja, don't trust Otogakure. At all." The council man left, avoiding the door and jumping out the window.
"Well," Temari watched him leave. "That was different."
"Yep," Kankuro nodded.
Gaara remained silent.
"So, the Yondaime Kazekage is dead?" Naruto frowned. "And Orochimaru tricked all of Suna into thinking that the Kazekage had ordered the Invasion? Wow, talk about creepy."
"Naruto's right." Sakura shuddered. "That's beyond creepy. Who would want to wear someone's face?"
"Apparently," Sasuke drawled. "The Snake freak does."
Kakashi sweatdropped. This was far from the point of the conversation. Time to get them back on track or they'd been here forever. This was one meeting that they couldn't be more than an hour late for. They were already working on the hour mark as it was.
"Now, now," Kakashi eye-smiled at them. The up turned eye was the only way that Sasuke and Sakura could tell their teacher was showing any type of emotion. Naruto was forced to try and figure it out from his voice and chakra. "You're forgetting about the very important meeting that's going on, which we are already late for."
"Who's fault is that?" The Uchiha grunted.
"Yeah sensei, you only just told us about it!" Sakura glared at him.
"Don't know about you guys, but I rather get there today," Naruto drawled, walking towards the Hokage tower. "Otherwise, Jiji might get worried and send Ero-sensei after us."
Sakura shuddered, and Sasuke was already walking next to the blond haired boy. Kakashi sighed, no respect. He started walking after his leaving team.
Grabbing onto them, a which Shunshin saw them already in the Hokage's office. Sarutobi was giving them a deadpanned expression, as were the rest of the Konoha ninja gathered.
"Sorry we're late jiji," Naruto apologized. "Someone only just told us about this."
"Five minutes ago," Sakura added.
"Smiling the entire time." Sasuke finished.
"No respect," Kakashi muttered, sulking in a corner.
"We respect you," The chorused, smiling in a rather fake manner. Kakashi glared at them all.
"I'll believe that when pigs start flying," He muttered. "Don't even think about it, Naruto!"
Naruto pouted, "But the look on your face would have been funny!"
Sasuke and Sakura snickered.
Snickering was heard all over the room, Team Seven's antic's amusing even the foreign ninja. Kankuro was studying the three intently. Temari glared at her brother when he set eyes on the female of the team. Really, he was hopeless.
Gaara had only eyes for Naruto.
Sarutobi rubbed the bridge of his nose. "This, for those who don't know, is Team Seven. Hatake Kakashi, introduce your team."
Kakashi looked up from his book, "Did you say something?"
"YOSH! KAKASHI, YOUR HIP AND COOL ATTITUDE INFLAMES MY FIRES OF YOUTH! LET US HEAR THE NAMES OF YOUR HIP AND COOL STUDENT! YOUTH!" Gai's voice made everyone in the room cringe. The Suna ninja stared in shock at the green clad ninja.
"YES, GAI-SENSEI! HIS HIP AND COOL TEAM SHOULD INTRODUCE THEMSELVES TO OUR MOST YOUTHFUL ALLIES!"
"Lee! Gai-sensei! Stop subjecting these poor people to you insanity!" Tenten yelled at her teammates. Neji just sighed next to her.
"BUT TENTEN!" Lee yelled. "THE SPIRIT OF YOUTH BURNS BRIGHTLY WITHIN THEM!"
"THE MOST YOUTHFUL LEE IS CORRECT, MY NOT SO YOUTHFUL STUDENT TENTEN!"
There was silence as everyone watched in horror the the green spandex clad ninja hugged, a rather beautiful sunset appearing behind them. Naruto stood in shock, he chakra actually hitting water and he could hear the birds and smell the salt in the air. "Kai!" He shouted, but the image remained.
Kakashi stared at Naruto, then the sunset. What the hell?
"Neji!" Tenten yelled. "Their traumatizing everyone!"
"Very well," Neji sighed, before tossing both of them apart and shutting their chakra points. It didn't work on Lee, due to his lack of chakra, but it did stun them. "We apologize for them. They're nuts."
"You don't have to deal with them every day." Tenten deadpanned.
"And no, they aren't related. Would you breed with that?" They chorused.
Gaara whimpered, "They scare mother..."
The Suna ninja all turned to him and gaped. Temari and Kankuro looked at the two spandex clad ninja, they apparently even scarred psychotic Bijuu.
"What it the Nine Hells was that?" Kurama whimpered in Naruto's mind.
"They scare the Kitsune too," Naruto said, wide eyed. He still couldn't figure out how the genjutsu had affected him as well. That was scary.
There was silence throughout the room. Ibiki raised his hand. "Can I have them on Saturdays? I have some tight lipped prisoners..."
Sarutobi sighed, of course Ibiki would want to use them. Personally, he wouldn't wish those two on anyone.
"Yes!" Tenten and Neji yelled. "Please?"
"Alright, but if that spreads any farther, I'm holding you responsible!" Sarutobi rubbed his eyes. "Kakashi, introduce your team before they get back up!"
Kakashi rubbed his neck sheepishly. "This is Team Seven, consisting of Uchiha Sasuke, Haruno Sakura, and Uzumaki Naruto. Or, the three devils, as I like to call them."
"Oi!" The three yelled, glaring at their teacher.
"I couldn't agree more," Sarutobi muttered.
"Jiji! Not you too!" Naruto whined.
"What did we ever do to you?" Sakura wondered.
"Hn," Sasuke huffed.
Sarutobi looked at them.
"It wasn't that bad!" Naruto defend them.
"Yeah, Tora deserved it! She'll be fine...maybe..."
"The cat's lucky it survived," Sasuke muttered.
"I rest my case," Sarutobi sighed. "The Fire Daimyo's wife was not happy."
"She shouldn't loss her cat then!" Everyone from Konoha yelled.
"The thing is evil!" A random jounin growled.
"It destroyed my the weapons!" A chunnin whimpered. "Nothing would hurt it! Nothing!"
"It ate my kunai!" Another jounin yelled.
"We have scars!" The gennin yelled.
The Suna ninja stared in shock, while looking around at the room. What kind of cat ate kunai?
"ENOUGH!" Sarutobi yelled. "This is about Orochimaru killing the Yondaime Kazekage and tricking Suna into trying to invade! Not the Demon Cat Tora!"
Temari sat frozen, as did Kankuro. "Tou-san is dead?"
There was silence. Sarutobi walked over to the nearest wall and banged his head against it. Repeatedly.
Jiraiya snickered. "That wasn't how he wanted to tell you lot. But, yes, Orochimaru killed the Kazekage and has been impersonating him. We apologize for you loss."
Kankuro snorted, "Like I care."
Temari elbowed him. "What?" Kankuro demanded. "It's not like he was a father to you either! He even tried killing Gaara!"
Gaara was impassive. "His death does not affect me."
"Thought so." Jiraiya nodded. "Alright, as of now, all S-Rank Secrets from...thirteen? Yeah, thirteen years ago are disbanded."
"And no one told me this?" Naruto wondered aloud.
"Well, Kakashi-sensei was probably supposed to and forgot." Sakura offered.
"Hn," Sasuke grunted.
"What he said." Sakura nodded.
Naruto rolled his eyes. "It is a sad day when you realize that you can speak grunt fluently."
"That it is." Kakashi nodded. "And I resent that!"
"Hn!" Sasuke smirked.
"I resent that as well!"
"I agree, he really his..." Sakura nodded, happily.
"Got that right." Naruto nodded, smirking.
"I hate you all..."
"That hurts, Kaka-sensei. It really does."
"Yeah, sensei, we love you."
"Hn," Sasuke agreed.
"Can we please get on with this?" Jiraiya sighed. "And I mean all of them, Naruto. Even that other one that I still don't know how you know."
Naruto snickered, "The look on your face was awesome!"
Jiraiya refrained from asking how he knew that. "I'd like to introduce to you Namikaze-Uzumaki Naruto, Jinchuuriki of the Kyuubi no Kitsune."
There was silence, before chaos erupted. Jiraiya glared at them all, "And my godson."
The noise disappeared. "Can you teach me how to do that?" Naruto asked aloud. "That would be useful."
"No," Jiraiya sighed.
"Because I like my sanity."
"That's not a reason!"
"Yes it is, gaki!"
"No it isn't, Ero-kyofu!"
"Like peeping on the girls hotspring is your research?"
"Exactly! Wait a minute..." Jiraiya paled. "Damn it, gaki!" He ran.
Naruto cackled, "That never gets old! Have fun, Ero-kyofu!"
There was laughter throughout the room as the Sannin ran from the enraged kunoichi.
"I give up." Sarutobi sighed.
Team Seven looked at him. "You had hope?"
Gaara stared at the blond. He was confused.
"You're like me?"
"Yep," Naruto nodded, smiling happily on his perched. He wondered what his fellow jinchuuriki looked like, but didn't ask. He planned on asking Sasuke and Sakura later.
"You Bijuu does not control you?" There were many ninja listening in.
"Kurama's far to lazy to try and take over." Naruto snorted. "He's still sleeping right now, and his snoring is giving me a headache."
"Kyuubi's name. Kyuubi no Kitsune is just a title. Like how Shukaku is your demon's name, not Ichibi no Tanuki."
"Yeah, still hates the fact that no one ever asked him before assuming that was his name. Pisses him off, but everything pisses him off, so that doesn't really count." Naruto shrugged.
"He likes you?" Gaara felt the need to ask. Shukaku had always felt like he was his mother...which was odd, since Shukaku was male from what he could tell.
"He likes all of his hosts." Naruto deadpanned. "Though, he's only ever had three...including me."
"Three?" Shukaku had hundreds of hosts.
"He doesn't usually attack people. The only three recorded attacks are when some village tried to seal him, the fight between the Shodaime and Uchiha Madara, where Madara controlled him, and the attack on Konoha. He still won't tell me why he attacked, only that someone ripped him from his Jinchuuriki." Naruto frowned.
"Ripped him from his Jinchuuriki?"
"My mother, Uzumaki Kushina."
(The ninja listening in face-faulted, feeling rather stupid.)
"Oh. She's dead?"
"Yep, all Jinchuuriki die when the Bijuu is removed."
"Died sealing the Kyuubi inside of me."
"You say that alot."
"I do not now what else to say."
"Ah, not very talkative are you?"
"Not since Yashamaru."
"My uncle. He blew himself up trying to kill me."
"So, you have siblings?"
"Two elder sibling. They wish I was dead as well."
"You sure about that."
"Yes, father said so."
"The same father that wanted you dead? And you're going to listen to him?"
"That's what I thought."
"Your Hokage likes you?"
"I was a necessity. Not a weapon. It's the villagers that want me dead."
"They didn't succeed, at least."
"You have a defense?"
"How long do we have to keep talking?"
"Until the Hokage and Ero-kyofu unties us."
"Why are we tied up again?"
"They don't trust us to either not kill each other or to not run away."
"Ah. How did they get passed my sand?"
"Probably a seal. Seals can do anything."
"You do remember the giant demon in your head, right?"
"I make seals, but nothing ever seems to compare to the fact that my father sealed a demon inside of me. How do you step out of that shadow?"
"True. You could try and specialize in other things?"
"I'm an Uzumaki. We're seal masters."
"That is a problem, then."
"That it is."
"I only use sand to fight. People can't get close enough for taijutsu."
"Wow, that must suck. What about Ninjutsu?"
"Uses the sand... It's my affinity, I guess."
"You can't do anything else?"
"Katon turns the sand into glass..."
"That would not be useful."
"Fuuton blows it around."
"That would be counter-productive."
"Doton ends up using the sand..."
"That gets us no where..."
"Suiton soaks the sand through and makes it too heavy to use..."
"That would be band..."
"Right, I don't want to know."
"What about you?"
"Fuuton. It's actually pretty rare around here. I'm hoping for Raiton as well."
"'Cause then I could learn Hiraishin, my father's technique. The seals would be easy enough to make."
"That would be very useful. But why not make a version of your own?"
"That's a good idea..."
"How long are you going to keep them tied up?" Kakashi asked, looking at the Hokage.
"For as long as I need to." Sarutobi puffed out some smoke from his pipe.
"That explains why he hated us..." Temari muttered.
"Told you father was a bastard..." Kankuro smirked.
"Did I ever argue?"
"Naruto's going to escape sometime." Sakura frowned. "He's not going to be happy."
"It's for his own good." Sasuke muttered. "He needs this."
"Because he's driving us crazy!" Kakashi and Sasuke growled.
"Especially whenever he's around Gaara!"
"It could be Shukaku and Kurama acting up in reaction to the other's presence..." Sakura suggested.
There was silence.
"There you have it. Kurama probably started singing again."
"The Kyuubi sings?" Iruka looked faint. The other gathered ninja blinked.
"According to Naruto, he's tone-deaf. Only does it when their arguing."
"What does Naruto do in retaliation?"
"He plays the memory of Lee and Gai in Kurama's cage."
"You haven't heard the kitsune sing... Naruto whimpers in pain when he does."
Jiraiya sighed from where he was sitting. This was the weirdest conversation ever.
He couldn't wait until this was over.