AN: Hi guys, this is my first attempt at writing ANYTHING, let alone a fanfiction. So any constructive criticism, (and of course praise=P), is definitely welcomed. I really hope you can leave a review telling me of what you think. Anything I've stuffed up or if you have any questions don't hesitate to ask ^.^
It was a pleasantly cool morning as two figures trudged along the forest road to Kohona. They walked one behind the other, both with their heads down in deep thought.
The figure up in front was a tall, well-built man with a long mane of spiky white hair with a horned hitai-ate strapped to his forehead. The amount of baggy clothing the man had on and the huge scroll attached to his back disguised the fact that he well past the prime years of his life.
The second, shorter figure behind the older man was a teenage boy with radiant blonde, spiky hair, dressed in a long dark grey cloak that hid most of his well-defined body from view since it draped almost to the ground, had long loose sleeves and a high collar.
The exception to this covering was a split that began at the front of the waistline and continued to the bottom of the cloak to give more manoeuvrability to the wearer. The cloak was mostly dark grey apart from an orange trimming around the edges and an orange kanji for 'nine' on the back of the cloak between the shoulderblades.
The young man also carried an unsheathed katana on his right hip. The blade's colour was deep black, an unusual colour for a katana. The sword had no visible guard crosspiece and the hilt was quite thin, only slightly thicker that the actual blade. If the hilt had any design it was hidden by white cloth that was wound tightly the entire way up the hilt. Despite the weapon's odd appearance it was obviously not just an ornament, as edge of the blade was visibly sharp; gleaming silver in stark contrast to the rest of the blade.
The boy's usual bright, cheerful cerulean eyes were clouded as he was currently in deep thought as he plodded along behind his teacher. It had been four years since he had been away from his home Kohona. Four years since he had seen all of his friends and teachers.
He wondered how much everyone had changed and how much stronger everyone was now. He smiled brightly as he thought about how incredible eating ramen from his favourite ramen stand, Ichirakus, would be when he got back.
His smile faded as one name manifested itself inside his head; 'Sasuke'. He couldn't believe his battle with Sasuke at the Valley of End happened all those years ago. He could still remember the pain of having Sasuke's chidori ripping through his chest and also the greater pain of realising that his best friend was actually trying to kill him.
The blonde haired boy forced the matter of what to do with Sasuke out of his mind for now, there was nothing he could do about it at the moment. His eyes softened as he thought about reuniting with his other teammate when he got back to Kohona. The teenage ninja reverted back to his natural cheerful mood, something that usually happened when he thought about his pink-haired Kunoichi teammate.
"Naruto!" the white haired man called back to his student, breaking him out of his stupor. "We're about ten minutes away from Kohona, still excited about seeing everyone after four years?" the man said looking back grinning.
"You bet Ero-Sennin!" said Naruto giving his trademark grin, despite the tumultuous thoughts running around in his head. "I can't wait to see how much everyone's changed over the years."
Jiraiya blanched "Even after four years you still can't manage to treat your teacher with respect" said Jiraiya shaking his head in mock depression. "Still, I think they'll be more shocked to see how much you've changed. You're definitely not the same brat you used to be." said the toad Sannin.
"More than you know Ero-Sennin." chucked Naruto. "I still haven't shown you how much stronger I've become in the last year training with Uncle Bee."
Jiraiya's smile faltered as he thought about the past year. When Jiraiya had taken Naruto away for a long term training journey, he originally envisioned it taking about three years so Naruto would be ready to at least survive beinh hunted by the Akatsuki. Then near the end of the three year stint Jiraiya was informed by Kohona's Hokage, Tsunade the Slug Sannin, to leave Naruto under the tutelage of Kumo's jinchuriki, Killer Bee, and come back to Kohona. Naruto was only told the basic reasoning of this decision; so Bee could teach Naruto to control and, if possible, work alongside the Kyuubi to increase his power. However this was more wishful thinking as no-one really expected the Kyuubi to ever be accept anyone enough to lend them it's power, let alone work along side someone.
However, there was another reason the Hokage wanted Naruto to stay away from civilisation, train and be hidden for another year that Naruto didn't know about, and it was that reason that caused Jiraiya's smile to falter. It was well known that the organisation Akatsuki was after the jinchuriki's for the tailed beasts that were inside them. Tsunade had known that if Naruto knew that his jinchuriki friend Gaara was under immediate threat he would rush to help Gaara. Since Naruto himself was now under constant threat now from the Akatsuki and was not actually powerful or reliable enough after three years, letting Naruto get into a confrontation with the criminal organisation was an unacceptable risk.
While Naruto knew that the Akatsuki was going to going after the jinchurikis eventually, he was told a lie by Jiraiya that he had another year to train before the Akatsuki made their move so he would be content to stay training with Bee and stay out of the way where he couldn't be found and captured.
Jiraiya was deeply saddened that he was forced to lie to his favourite student, but he understood the reasoning behind it and agreed it was necessary for Naruto's safety. So Killer Bee had been sent from Kumo to train Naruto in the wilderness to help him ccommunicate and control his tailed beast for a year. Jiraiya had now returned to Naruto one year after leaving him with Bee to take him back to Kohona.
'A lot of things have happened that Naruto doesn't know about. I wonder how he's going to take the news that we lied to him and that we are possibly on the brink of another war?' pondered the toad Sannin sadly. 'And I'd really hate to be the person that has to break it to him that Gaara has been killed.'
Jiraiya and Naruto finally reached the huge wooden gates of Kohona after their long journey. Naruto looked up at the monolithic entrance and smiled,
"Ahhh this brings back some memories!" exclaimed Naruto as he surveyed the village from outside the entrance.
"Ahaha you're sounding like an old man Naruto, you're not old enough to feel nostalgic." laughed Jiraiya.
Naruto scowled at his teacher as they walked through into Kohona, "Shut it you super pervert, at least you got to come back home after three years not four."
Izumo and Kotetsu were the chuunin that were 'guarding' the entrance into Kohona as the bickering teacher and student walked into the village. Izumo was woken out of his lazy stupor as he recognised one of the figures walking past.
"Hey Kotetsu! Wake up! Isn't that Jiraiya-sama the Toad Sannin?" Izumo said to his partner, shaking his shoulder.
"Ughh what…Oh crap yeah it is, but who's the guy walking next to him?" muttered a still drowsy Kotetsu.
"I don't know, but his spiky blonde hair is familiar…Oh my god is it..." began Izumo.
"Yep it's him." interrupted a grinning Naruto who had overheard Izumo's last sentence as he walked past. "How've you guys been without me running around causing havoc?"
"I'll be honest it's been a lot more boring since you left." said a smiling Kotetsu. "Who would've thought I'd miss you pulling all your stupid pranks?"
"Agreed" said Izumo who was still slightly shell-shocked at the sudden re-appearance of the blonde boy. "You've grown a lot Naruto, you're not a little brat anymore. Nice sword and get up by the way."
Naruto smiled, "Yeah I've definitely changed a bit, and thanks, you think I look more mysterious now?" said Naruto as he drew his cloak around him and pulled a scarily accurate expression of a look that a certain S-Class Uchiha criminal favours.
"Still the same Naruto I see" chuckled Kotetsu, "It's good to see you haven't changed that much."
"Ehehe yep I'm still the same lovable prankster I always was, just stronger." said a grinning Naruto scratching his head. "Well I better get going, I have to report to Granny. See ya!" Naruto waved as he jogged off to catch up with Jiraiya.
"Well that was a surprise." Said an amused but bewildered Izumo as he looked on after Naruto as he walked off further into the village.
"Yes, but a nice one. He's changed a lot over the years, I wonder how his friends are going to react." said Kotetsu as he smiled.
Naruto's head was turning different directions so fast as he looked at everything in the village he looked like he was shaking his head.
"Calm down gaki you'll have time to see everything again soon." Chuckled Jiraiya. "Plus you don't want to look uncool in front of your new admirers do you?" as he noticed that quite a few of the girls they were walking past were giving Naruto a thorough looking over and were blushing slightly.
"Come on Ero-Sennin I'm sure they're just curious about me because of my clothes." said Naruto as he scratched the back of his head, embarrassed.
Jiraiya guffawed, "I'm sure you haven't really noticed since you've been away from society for nearly four years, but you've physically matured a lot gaki. I expect you'll be getting quite a bit more female attention from now on. Maybe your beloved 'Sakura-chan' will take notice of you now." said Jiraiya slyly as he nudged Naruto with his elbow.
Naruto looked away. "Yeah whatever. She was deeply in love with Sasuke when I left and I'm sure as hell that hasn't changed. Let's just hurry and report to Granny." said Naruto as he picked up his walking pace.
Jiraiya noticed his student's sudden change in mood. "I guess some things don't change." sighed Jiraiya under his breath as they approached the Hokage tower.
Tsunade the Slug Sannin, the current Hokage of Kohona, smacked her head on her desk hard enough that any normal person would have been knocked out. She'd come into her office this morning to find Shizune stacking about ten trees worth of paperwork on her desk. It had been just over an hour of stamping forms and signing papers and the pile of paperwork hadn't seemed to have diminished at all.
'Damn that gaki and Jiraiya for convincing me to take this job' thought Tsunade sourly. 'I knew I was going to regret it, but that damn Naruto was so convincing'.
Her eyes softened as she thought of the blonde ninja. She missed him more than she let on to anyone; he brought a certain light to her day that made her life that much more bearable. She didn't realise that most people that knew Naruto felt the same way. She was just about to start another gruelling session of paperwork when Shizune burst through her office door out of breath but smiling.
"You have visitors Tsunade-sama!" panted Shizune.
"Hmm why the rush Shizune, and why are you smiling so much?" asked Tsunade curiously.
"Someone's returned from their training trip." Said Shizune still smiling. "I'll go and bring them in now."
'Returned from a training trip? Who's….' Tsunade froze as she realised who the mysterious visitors must be.
As she came to this conclusion Naruto and Jiraiya came into the room, Naruto with a big smile on his face. "Hey Granny it's been a while." said Naruto cheerfully as he walked in.
'Naruto..' Tsunade had a trace of tears in her eyes as she walked out from behind her desk to embrace the young man.
Naruto accepted the hug still smiling. He had missed Tsunade as much as he had his friends while he was away; she was a makeshift grandmother despite her appearances as far as he was concerned. Tsunade pulled out of the embrace and held Naruto at arm's length.
"Kami you've grown Naruto!" exclaimed Tsunade taking in the little-boy-turned-man in front of her. "Everyone's going to be in for a shock when they see you." she smirked.
Naruto blushed slightly and looked away as Jiraiya laughed, "He already caused quite a stir with the ladies down in the village when we walked though. To anyone that doesn't know him he must look quite mysterious."
"I'm sure" said Tsunade as smiled and went to sit back down at her desk. Her smile faltered slightly as she thought about having to fill Naruto in with the information he had missed while training, including the information that had been kept secret from him.
Tsunade shook her head slightly to dissipate her thoughts. 'There's time enough for that later. Nothing major is happening soon so there's no need to ruin the day for everyone by telling him now'.
"So are you just going to stand there or do you mind filling me in on what you've been up to for the past four years?"
Sakura was having a pretty uneventful morning so far. She'd woken up and immediately looked at the picture of the old Team 7 she had on her dresser, just like she did every single morning. She sighed looking at both Naruto and Sasuke, wishing things were simple and happy as they were back then.
Instead of gazing at Sasuke like she had for the first few years of her teammates leaving the village, she found her eyes lingering on Naruto. She had thought it was proof of how much she loved Sasuke by how much she missed him when he left, but she realised that now she missed Naruto even more. Sakura still hadn't figured out what this meant.
Naruto had always been a constant of life for her, she'd never worried that one day he'd be gone. When she found out that he was leaving for three years to train she'd never thought how much of an impact him being gone would have on her.
After about two years of Naruto being away it was like a light had gone out inside her. The only thing that kept her motivated was the fact that she thought Naruto was coming back in one more year. When she found out he was staying away for at least another year to train she broke down crying, in her room of course; she didn't want anyone to think she was weak, everyone else missed him too. She felt so alone with both of her teammates gone. She didn't feel she had anyone to really talk to about anything with. The 'incident' with Sasuke when her retrieval team tried to take him back to Kohona two months ago was still troubling her and had increased her depression. Sakura shook her head violently, she knew thinking back to what had happened when she confronted her crush would only lead to more tears.
It had been four years now since Naruto had left and Sakura was still hoping each day that this was the day that he came back. She never would have thought it before, but she missed his goofy smile, his laugh and his never-back-down attitude. She missed the happiness he brought to the village and to her.
Sakura forced herself to block out the depressing thoughts and focus on her duties. She had been burying herself in her training with Tsunade more than usual this last year. Tsunade guessed correctly that this was to take her mind off Naruto.
At the moment Sakura was on her way to see Tsunade so she could pick up some advanced sealing scrolls to store various medicines in for long missions. She knew that with Akatsuki's plans were coming to a head that there was inevitably going to be fights that Naruto was involved in and she wanted to make sure that she wouldn't be a burden to him.
As she entered the Hokage tower she blushed slightly as she realised she actually wanted to impress Naruto when he got back, something she'd never even thought of doing before he left. She shook that line of thinking out of her head before she confused herself and continued making her way to Tsunade's office.
"I already know most of what happened for the first three years, I want to know what training you did over the past year!" said Tsunade quite irritably.
"Ehh sorry Baa-chan I haven't even told Ero-sennin about what I learnt with Uncle Bee. I guess I'll show everyone some of what I can do after I've met up with everyone again and everything's calmed down a bit." said Naruto apologetically.
To be honest Naruto was quite hesitant about telling anyone just exactly what he could do now, let alone showing them. The fact is that fact he had gotten stronger. A lot stronger. Naruto, while totally confident in his new found power, was still quite amazed at just how much he had improved over the last year. He knew that once he demonstrated his strength everyone, especially Jiraiya, would be wanting an explanation of how the hell he'd done it.
Naruto chuckled internally, 'Now that is going to be an interesting conversation' he thought.
Tsunade was just about to retort when Shizune opened the office door and popped her head in grinning. "Another visitor for you Tsunade-sama." she said, giving Tsunade a wink.
"Shizune seems to be in a good mood today." commented Naruto dryly. He eyes then widened as he heard a familiar voice that belonged to a familiar body coming through the door.
"Tsunade-sama I really need those sealing scrolls now because I'm goin..." Sakura began as she walked into the room and then stopped dead in her tracks as she saw the people in it.
Naruto by this point had turned around to face the door and was staring wide eyed at his teammate as she came though into the office.
He had thought she was gorgeous before but he never imagined how much better looking she could have become over the four years he had been away.
Her young teenage body she had had when he left had been transformed into a killer body of a young adult. She had gotten taller as well, obviously, but Naruto hadn't expected her to look so grown up. He dragged his eyes away from her uncovered, shapely legs and her well-proportioned chest to her face. He almost immediately lost himself in her amazingly deep jade eyes, which were by now almost popping out of their sockets. Her hair had been kept short like it had been before, and her beautiful face was still the way that he remembered it. His heart actually ached as he was reminded of how much he had missed her as he stared at her older yet incredibly familiar face.
Sakura's brain was switching between 'holy-shit-heart-beating-200-times-a-second' and 'complete-shutdown' mode.
'Oh my god he's back.' Was the one phrase repeating itself constantly through her head.
Once she had somewhat gotten over her initial shock she began drinking up everything about his appearance. While his cloak and sword were the first things that caught her eye, she was immediately distracted by how much he had changed physically.
He was now at least a head higher than her and his radiant blonde hair was now a bit longer, hanging down halfway to his shoulders and the fringe flopping over his forehead nearly covering his eyebrows. She blushed lightly looking at his tanned face, admitting that her former small, cherubic team-mate had grown up to be quite hot. Her eyes stared into his and she had to hold back tears at the sight of those achingly familiar cerulean orbs.
'He's really back...'
Naruto now had a bigger smile on his face than he had had in years. He took a step towards Sakura as he started their first conversation in four years.
"Hey Sakura you..OOF!" Naruto had the air knocked out of him as Sakura bowled into his chest wrapping him up in a tight hug. Naruto was completely shocked as Sakura had never iniatiated a hug with him before. However he found that he immensely enjoyed the feeling and definitely wasn't going to complain.
"Sakura.." he began.
"You were supposed to come back after three years you idiot!" Sakura choked out as she buried her face into his shoulder and started crying uncontrollably, releasing all of the emotion she had kept bottled up inside her over the years. Her crying was the result of a mixture of relief, sadness, and joy.
She was immediately enveloped in his warmth Naruto seemed to exude constantly. She was surprised by how comfortable he was to hug as she had never hugged him before. She gripped him tighter as she continued to weep into his shoulder.
Naruto was still trying to take in that his child-hood crush was actually hugging him, and tightly. Naruto had thought she might be a bit glad to see him after all this time but he never imagined this kind of reaction. He was touched by how much she had obviously missed him, so he decided he could be a bit more honest with her about how he felt as well. He returned the embrace, hoping Sakura couldn't feel how hard his chest was pounding, wrapped her up tight and leant close to her ear.
"I know, I'm sorry. I missed you." Naruto murmured.
He felt Sakura nodding into his shoulder as she wasn't up to talking yet, but Naruto understood that she felt the same way. Jiraiya and Tsunade looked at the two friends smiling.
'At least Sakura will be happy again now.' thought Tsunade happily.
'Kami Sakura grew up quickly.' thought Jiraiya while grinning lecherously. 'Naruto's probably having the time of his life.'
The two members of Team 7 finally broke the hug, both secretly reluctant to do so, and moved to stand at attention next to each other. Tsunade noticed that Sakura wasn't the only one who was trying subtly to dry their eyes.
"Well I'm sure that you two want to catch up and that Naruto wants to go and meet up with everyone again so why don't you both have the day off from your duties?" Tsunade asked still smiling.
"That would be great Granny you're the best!" Naruto said with his trademark thumbs up pose.
Tsunade's eyebrow twitched slightly at Naruto's nickname for her but decided to let it go for now. "Still haven't changed that much gaki. Go on then go and find your friends, and I'll be looking forward to seeing what you can do later."
Naruto smirked as he left the office with an under the breath parting quip, "I hope you're ready for it."
As Sakura walked out of the Hokage Tower with Naruto she was unconsciously swinging her arms as she walked and had a slight bounce in her step. She felt better than she had in years and she turned her head slightly to glance at the reason for her happiness. Even though she would be the first to admit that before Naruto left he wasn't exactly the least confident person out there, in fact he was a bit over-confident at times, he looked even surer of himself now. She noticed however that there was a slight change in his confidence from four years ago and wondered what it was. As they entered the village district she realised what it was; looking at Naruto she totally believed he could back up his over-confidence.
'What happened to you over these 4 years Naruto?' Sakura wondered to herself while still gazing at her transformed friend.
Naruto looked at Sakura, "Well I guess you'll have a better idea than me of where everyone hangs out now. You know where they would be?"
Sakura was a bit startled and embarrassed as she thought Naruto had possibly caught her gazing at him, "What? Umm well we could try some food places. Knowing Chouji he's probably dragged at least one person with him for an early lunch." Sakura said with a grin.
Naruto smiled, "Looks like Chouji hasn't changed then."
It was pure luck that this morning was the morning that most of the members of the Rookie 11 that were home in Kohona had chosen to meet up and have brunch. Chouji had managed to convince Ino, TenTen, Neji, Lee, Kiba and Hinata to have it at his favourite barbeque joint. After stuffing themselves they had just walked out of the shop and onto the street when Kiba noticed Naruto and Sakura walking down the street towards them.
"Hey look guys its Sakura, wait who's the blonde haired dude she's walking with…Oh shit is that..Naruto?!" Kiba exclaimed, pointing at the Team 7 members.
The whole group rushed forward to get a better look at the two friends approaching them.
"Kami I think your right Kiba." breathed Ino as she squinted at Naruto. "But if it's him he's definitely grown a bit." Even from a distance Naruto was obviously a head or so taller than Sakura.
Hinata almost fainted on the spot seeing that her crush had returned. 'What in the world am I going to say to him?' Hinata thought, panicked.
"Come on guys lets go and say hi, it's been a while." said Chouji grinning.
Naruto and Sakura were having an enjoyable conversation as they walked through the village. Well, more of a one-sided conversation, as Sakura pretty much the only one talking; filling Naruto in on what he had missed while he had been gone. Sakura felt a slight pang in her chest as she remembered the orders that Tsunade had given everyone regarding Naruto.
All Naruto's friends, teachers and peers were told not to tell Naruto about any of the events regarding the Akatsuki that had occurred over the last year. Everyone was aware now that Naruto thought the Akatsuki were still waiting to make their move. Tsunade wanted to be the one to tell him at the right time after he returned. Sakura knew that Naruto was going to take the news about Gaara's passing quite hard, especially the fact that he had not been told about it.
Sakura was distracted from these thoughts as she noticed the group of friends almost stampeding past everyone on the street as they pushed their way towards Naruto and her.
"Naruto look everyone's coming to see you!" Sakura exclaimed.
Before Naruto could reply, the group of friends suddenly appeared in front of them.
"Naruto! Is that you?" asked an excited Kiba slightly breathlessly.
Naruto turned his head to his fellow ninja and flashed them a trademark grin. "The one and only! How've you guys been without me? You've all changed so much!"
Ino, TenTen and Hinata blushed slightly as they took in Naruto's appearance and saw his handsome face. It was impossible to see most of Naruto's form, his tightly muscled body was hidden from view by his cloak, but he was obviously quite broad shouldered and muscular.
Ino was the most shocked out of the three girls; she had never thought of Naruto as someone who was good looking or even cute before. She had seen him as a friend and nothing else. She now saw with him grown up and not wearing his stupid orange jumpsuit he was quite a hunk.
'He's even better looking than Sasuke now!' thought Ino in amazement.
"You've grown up as well Naruto. You're pretty much the tallest person out of group now!" said Chouji happily.
"Mmm yeah growing up was definitely a good thing for you." said Ino, still looking Naruto up and down as TenTen giggled.
"Right back at you Ino." replied Naruto while gazing at Ino appreciatively, particularly her bare midriff and long, uncovered legs. While Naruto only had eyes for Sakura before he left on his training trip, he admitted (to himself) that Ino was neatly as pretty as Sakura. Her beauty had increased ten-fold over the time he had been gone and he was going slightly red as he continued to stare at the voluptious girl in front of him. Sakura felt a slight twitch in her stomach as she saw the way Naruto was looking at Ino, although she didn't understand why. Why should she care what Naruto thought of other girls?
"H-How long have you been back Naruto-kun?" stuttered a still blushing Hinata.
"I just got back this morning actually. I met Sakura in the Hoka-" began Naruto before a green spandex wearing young man vaulted over everyone and interrupted him by landing in front of him.
"Yosh! Welcome back Naruto! You must agree to have a youthful reunion spar with me right now to celebrate your home-coming!" pronounced a beaming Lee, giving his 'nice-guy' pose.
"Ehh sure thing Lee, I see you haven't changed a bit." said a slightly stunned Naruto.
"Yosh, I am still as youthful as ever!" said Lee still grinning.
Neji stepped forward smiling, "While Lee's way of asking was a bit unorthodox, I agree with him. I think it would be interesting to see how much you have improved after your training trip. I could use a good sparring session anyway."
"Knowing Naruto he probably has at least a few amazing new techniques he wants to show off." chuckled Kiba. "Nice sword by the way."
Naruto grinned, "Well I suppose I can humour you guys then. I guess it'd be nice to have a good morning warm-up."
Sakura perked up at a thought hit her, "Well we're in luck since Team 7's old training ground is close to where we are now." She said with a smile.
Naruto laughed, "Well this is going to bring back some memories. Come on then everyone lets go now since Lee is so desperate."
Naruto was finding it hard to stop smiling. 'It's amazing how good it feels to see everyone again. Things are just like how they were before I left.' He thought happily as the group meandered to the training ground.
News of the energetic blonde's arrival had travelled quickly. A certain man with a mask covering the bottom half of his face and a hitai-ate covering his left eye had decided to see for himself if the news was just a rumour by scouting the village to see if he could find his old student.
Within a few minutes of jumping across rooftops Kakashi spotted the group of Naruto's friends walking towards the entrance of training ground 7. He saw a cloaked, blonde haired young man in the group walking next to Sakura and smiled under his mask as guessed it could only be one person.
Kakashi shushined from the rooftop he was on to appear in front of the walking group. Kakashi noticed that everyone apart from Naruto jumped at his sudden appearance.
"How's it going Naruto?" said Kakashi with his trademark eye-smile.
Naruto stepped forward grinning, "I knew you had to show up at some point Kakashi-sensei! Still haven't taken the mask off?"
"No not yet." said Kakashi pleasantly. "There's quite a few things I want to ask you about, including about how much power you've gained from your training trip, but it looks like your busy with your friends now so I'll find you later."
"You're in luck Kakashi-sensei, we're just on our way to have a friendly spar. Why don't you come and watch?" Naruto said.
Kakashi gave another eye-smile, "That would be great. I'll just quickly grab something to eat and bring it back here to watch." Kakashi replied before disappearing with another shushin.
"Well here we are." announced Sakura as the group walked into the training ground. "Makes you feel nostalgic doesn't it Naruto? This place hasn't changed a bit."
Naruto was indeed feeling nostalgic at that moment looking around at the familiar surroundings. He felt a pang in his chest as he remembered the days that he, Sakura and Sasuke had trained here all just over four years ago. His head lowered slightly as he began thinking about Sasuke and what he could be doing now.
Sakura noticed Naruto's change in demeanour and immediately understood what he must be thinking about.
"Ok then!" she said quite loudly trying to brighten Naruto up. "Naruto and Lee are you guys ready to get started?"
"I'm ready anytime" said Naruto, confidently smiling.
"YOSH! I've waited a long time for this Naruto! I will show you the results of my endeavours to become stronger!" pronounced Lee as he leapt to the middle of the open field.
"Make sure not to tire each out too much." Said Neji as everyone started moving off to the side of the field to avoid getting caught in the crossfire. "I still want to have a spar with Naruto afterwards."
"Actually, me too." piped up Kiba with a grin. "I wanna show you what I can do now aswell."
"Well if you three all want to fight me I've got a better idea." replied Naruto casually. "How about you all fight against me at the same time?"
There was silence from everyone as their brains took in what Naruto had proposed. At first they thought they had heard him wrong. How could he want to fight Lee, Neji and Kiba at the same time? Did he want to get pummelled to a pulp on his first day back in Kohona?
"Umm Naruto I hope your joking." Said Sakura, laughing nervously. "Because otherwise I think that's being a tad over-confident, even for you. Neji, Lee and Kiba have got seriously stronger since you left. Neji is a jounin now!"
"That's good, the stronger you guys are the more fun it'll be!" Naruto said grinning while walking out into the centre of field.
Neji coughed, "I agree with Sakura, Naruto. Three versus one probably isn't a good idea, you could get seriously hurt."
"Who knows, I might last longer than you're expecting." said Naruto, smiling nonchalantly.
Naruto could see everyone wasn't convinced from the uncertain looks on their faces. Naruto sighed, "Look guys, if when we spar it looks like I'm in trouble you can stop ok? Come on I thought you guys wanted to spar, not getting scared are we?" Naruto teased.
Kiba started making his way with Neji to join Lee and Naruto in the middle of the field. "Fine Naruto if this is what you want. Don't blame us if you have to give up just after we start." said Kiba with a grin.
Naruto grinned in return, "I guess we'll find out won't we?" he said, as they all stood ready to fight.
Sakura sighed and shook her head exasperatedly as she watched the scene unfold in front of her. 'Kami Naruto, it's just like you to pick off way more than you can chew in your first fight back, even if it isn't a real one. I'm probably going to have to spend an hour healing you by the end of this!'
Kakashi chose that moment to return with three dango sticks in his hand. He opted to stay unnoticed in a tree overlooking the field as he didn't want to share his treat. Plus he got a better view from up here. Kakashi's eyes widened as he took in the scene in front of him.
'It looks like Naruto is going to spar all three of them at once, is he really that sure of himself? He can't be that much of an idiot to think those three haven't improved a lot since four years ago. What is he up to...' Kakashi thought.
He was interrupted from his thoughts by the arrival of Jiraiya and Tsunade. Kakashi stared at them with a sweatdrop, "This tree is getting kind of crowded." he muttered.
Jiraiya chuckled, "Well we didn't want to miss out on see Kohona's most unpredictable ninja in his first fight back. Even I don;t know what he's capable of now, I haven't been with him for the past year." Jiraiya said.
"Shush you two they're about to start!" said Tsunade irritably. "I only have an hour before I have to get back to the office."
Back down on the field, Sakura, Ino, TenTen and Chouji were anxiously waiting for the boys to start their fight. Sakura was slightly tenser than the other; she didn't want Naruto to make a fool out of himself in front of everyone. She looked at Naruto and was slightly shocked; he looked completely relaxed, still subtly exuding complete confidence. Her fists were clenched as she waited for someone to make the first move.
Lee, Neji and Kiba adopted fighting stances while Naruto stood calmly with his long sleeved covered arms hanging loosely by his side.
Naruto grinned fiercely at his three friends, "Alright, it looks like guys are serious now."
He raised a hand beckoning them with a finger, "Come at me!"
Deep in a huge, hollowed out cave in an undisclosed location, eight shadowy, holographic figures were standing on the fingertips of a monolithic statue. One of the figures with a ponytail cursed loudly, "For fuck sake! Why did we have to have another meeting so soon? It's not like we've captured another Bijuu yet."
A figure that had eyes with ripple patterns in them spoke up, "Quiet Deidara there is an important reason for this meeting."
Deidara thought about retorting, then decided not to as it might not be the best thing for his health. The man with the eyes who was obviously the leader spoke up again.
"We have captured and sealed every Bijuu except for the eight and nine-tails. The eight-tails is still thought to be the hardest to capture as its jinchuurki resides in Kumo. Invading Kumo will be no small task, therefore the eight-tails will be the last Bijuu to capture."
The other shadowy visages remained quiet as the ripple-eyed man continued.
"This means that the nine-tails is now our main target. It has come to our attention that the jinchuuriki has come out of his long time hiding and is currently travelling to Kohona. "
The man turned to two of the figures, which of which was carrying a giant sword. "Kisame and Itachi, you are now no longer in charge of capturing the nine-tails. Preparations for our plan need to begin as soon as possible."
The man's purple, patterned eyes seemed to glow brighter suddenly.
"For this reason, I will be the one to capture the nine-tails."
AN: Just to clear some things up if people were wondering; the five Kage summit has not happened yet and the only Akatsuki members that have died are Hidan and Kakuzu. Sasuke's part in this story will be revealed next chapter as well as information on the events that have taken place during the course of Naruto's training trip. Just to remind you that this is my first try at writing ANYTHING, so I would so so so appreciate it if you left a review telling me what you think of the first chapter. Tell me anything I need to fix up or pay attention to in future chapters. I hope this chapter was somewhat enjoyable and the next one will be out very soon. Thanks=]