I send everyone my deepest apologies for not updating in so long. Things have been more than crazy in my life and I've been in a real funk. So, to cheer myself up, I've decided to cheer you all up and try to get back on top of my updating.

Disclaimer: I own the fic. That is all

Chapter 6

After eating, Kiba decided that he and Sakura should cover as much ground as they could before the day ended. The village that they were supposed to reach was not far off, but traveling at night was something that he wanted to avoid at all cost. It would make them vulnerable and not knowing what the mission entailed, they weren't sure what they could be walking into. Though, they had traveled a lot faster than he thought. At this pace, they would reach the village just before sunset.

"We're too close. Let's not stop to camp and just keep going" he said. He looked back to make sure that Sakura had heard him.

Things had gotten better since their talk during the last stop. Kiba had been being more conscious of Sakura's presence and making small talk with her from time to time. Sakura had also closed a substantial amount of the distance between them and was no longer hanging so far back.

"That's fine with me." Sakura answered. She was walking with Akamaru resting in her arms. She had gotten fond the white dog. It was almost like he understood what she was saying.

Sakura wasn't sure what to make of everything that had happened so far. Sure, things had gotten pretty better between them which was good, considering they were team mates on a mission. But there was still an unsettling feeling between them; at least for her. She couldn't quite put her hand on it, but something was off.

"Mind if I ask you a question?" Sakura asked, speeding up her pace to be next to the dog nin.

Kiba looked at her sideways. "Sure."

"What do you think is going to happen with this mission? Doesn't it bother you not to know anything about it?" Sakura looked up at the sky, thinking to herself for a second. "This could be a set up and we, nor the hokage, would even know."

Kiba smirked. "I had been thinking that since we left the village. Not being able to know the mission just doesn't sit well with me either." Kiba had to admit. She was more perceptive than he gave her credit for. The other female ninjas would have just followed and never offered any type of opinion. Ino and Hinata had proven themselves to be just travel baggage more than team mates on numerous occasions.

"Do you think that…we might be in danger?" she asked.

"Are you afraid?" Kiba asked.

Sakura shook her head. Being in danger was the life of a ninja. She was taught that for every mission, she would have to learn to walk away from the village as if she would never see it again. Yes, it was incredibly hard to walk away from the people that you cared so much about and think that you would never see them again, but it was her duty. She was sure that Kiba felt the same way if not more.

"I'm never afraid. I just don't let my guard down when something doesn't look right." she answered matter-of-factly

Kiba chuckled which caused Sakura to toss a glare his way. For some reason, she felt like he was underestimating her. Kiba smirked. "Calm down. I mean no harm by anything."

Akamaru barked and growled a little at him to stop pestering the young girl and take her seriously. "You're about to undo so much progress." he warned his master.

Kiba nodded, thinking to himself. He really didn't want things to go back to how they started odd. Kiba cleared his throat. "Look, I tend to try and think of every mission as my last or a trap. This one in no different. It just makes me stay on my toes more, keep my senses tight and protect my team mates better."

Sakura raised a brow. "So you feel as though you have to protect me?" she smiled. "I was trained by Tsunade. I may end up protecting you." she said half jokingly.

Kiba stared ahead for a second. He almost laughed out loud at the thought, but caught himself just in time. Hmm, maybe she would protect him, though he would do everything in his power to keep from being caught in such a situation. No need to ruin the moment and say that though.

"You might be right." Giving her a compliment was much easier.

The two of them then fell into a comfortable silence and continued moving. They would make statements at each other occasionally or ask a question, but there was no steady flow of conversation. Akamaru just continued to relax in Sakura's arms and watch the exchange.

When this trip first started, the two of them didn't say anything to each other and now it seemed like they were friends. They were progressing with each other very well, almost too well. Kiba might have taken his mind off of the situation, but Akamaru hadn't. Somewhere Kiba had a mate and the possibility of it being this girl was just as good as anyone else. Besides, he had to admit that Sakura was a pretty likable girl. He wouldn't mind it being her.

Right now was not the time to say anything to Kiba though. He didn't feel the need to make this situation any more awkward than it already was. If she was the one, being together this much would start showing some signals pretty soon anyway. There was no way any Inuzuka male, especially the alpha, could be so close to his female and have the need to be with her.

Tsunade was finally able to get back into the flow of her work and take her mind off of the issue at hand. At least, she was until something else came up. And that something was not going to be as avoidable as before. Shizune looked over at her with her head hung in shame. There was nothing she could do.

"Look, I have already told you, there is nothing that I can do." she looked at the glaring figure before her desk. "There is no need for you to help"

Naruto could not believe what he was hearing. No need for him to help! The mission had been his idea in the first place and she was just going to boot him off of it. Off of his own mission!

"Look old lady, I am not leaving."

It turns out that Kakashi didn't need his help with anything. He just took him to the training ground and say there and read his pervy books. Every time Naruto tried to leave, he would just ask him to perform some meaningless task. Naruto knew something was u when his task was to find the black pebble by the river. Even he wasn't that stupid.

Tsunade made a mental not to kill Kakashi after Naruto had told her that story. He was a ninja for god's sake. He couldn't figure out how to keep one person preoccupied for a while. "Look," she began, going to try and reason again. "There is no need for you to be there. The two of them are capable enough to keep everything under control."

The blonde just glared even harder, his blue eyes piercing. Even Shizune had never seen the boy so serious. "I am going on this mission. It was supposed to be our way of getting out together."

Tsunade wasn't really sure what to say or how to handle this. There was no way that Naruto could find out the situation between Kiba and Sakura, well, the possible situation. She was still holding onto the hope that it wasn't her. Anyway, he wouldn't be as understanding as she was.

Dealing with clans, especially those as old as the Inuzuka was something that took a delicate hand. There were the laws of the village and then there were the laws of the clans and occasionally they clashed. As the hokage, she had to uphold the laws of the village, but had to right to interfere with the laws of the clans. And this was definitely one of those delicate times.

"Look, I'm not sending you on this mission. They've already left and will be returning soon. It would be pointless at this point." Tsunade tried to explain.

"But….This isn't-"

Shizune came up with a way to hopefully appease Naruto and cut him off. "How about we send you on the next mission?"

Tsunade looked at her, shocked that she would even suggest this considering the situation and Naruto looked as though he were considering this.

"We have another mission already lined up for Kiba, so you can accompany him on that. Though, Sakura will be returning to work so she won't be going."

Naruto thought for a second. He really did want to go on a mission with Sakura, but at least getting to accompany Kiba would be just as good. Hell, for a chance to get out of the village, he would even go so far as to accompany Lee.

"Sure, I guess I can settle for that."

"Excellent." Shizune smiled. "I will send for you when it is time." She said and led Naruto out of Tsunade's office.

Once the door was closed everyone sighed. That had ended way better than any of them thought possible. Though, there was still the issue at hand that Tsunade just could not ignore. She looked over at her assistant, glaring.

"You know why we have to send Kiba on these missions. Why would you jeopardize it?"

Shizune swallowed and prepared her answer, hoping that it would make as much sense as it did in her head. "You see, Naruto is closer to Sakura than any of the other girls. Sending him on a mission with Ino or something would be the equivalent of sending him with Kiba and….Lee. There's no way he can mess this up."

Tsunade thought this over. She had a point. With no heavy emotional tie, there really was a slim chance that Naruto would ruin anything. This also would get him out of the village for a while and out of her office too. Shizune had a point.

"I guess you're right." Tsunade admitted. "But if this backfires, I'm telling Tsume that it was your plan to involve Naruto." she added with a wicked smile.

Shizune chuckled, nervously. "Heh heh….ok"

OK, that was just a quick chapter to get back into my writing. Sorry that it was so short, but I promise to make the next one extra long. Feels good to be back in the flow. And I really do apologize for everyone who has been waiting.

So, make sure you review and keep reading. Lol, I have nothing to do all weekend but write. So look for another chapter later tonight.