A/N – I'm sorry for the epically late update! I've been super busy! I'm not going to bore you with my many reasons… but you can blame school, exams and work. Anyways, onwards!

And with Sasuke, I hate stories when he stays and loses all of his hatred and stuff, he's not going to let go of something that keeps him going for practically the entire show.


To the Rescue

"I'm…yes Kakashi, sending you on a very politically sensitive mission."

Naruko blinked twice and then nodded her head slowly, wondering why Tsunade was choosing to send their team on a politically sensitive mission. They weren't known to be very good in speaking situations. Sasuke and Naruko were too cold, and Sakura was too angry, plus Kakashi didn't seem to care enough to stop them from saying something stupid.

"What is the mission then, Tsunade-Sama?" Sakura asked, hesitating slightly. Like she too realised that they weren't the ideal team to put on a mission like that and was questioning the sanity of their leader, and her teacher. Naruko on the other hand had long since realised that many ninja didn't exactly have much of a reason for doing what they did, and had slowly and very grudgingly accepted it.

Tsunade sighed and leaned back in her chair, her mouth forming a hard line. "I wanted to send two teams, and if I had it my way, it wouldn't be you four…but you're the only one with the skills necessary to go on a mission like this available at the moment. You're going to rescue the Kazekage."

Naruko blinked, stared at the blonde woman like she was crazy and then blinked a few more times for good measure. "Why?"

Tsunade looked like she was resisting the urge to roll her eyes. "Because I said you have to do it, okay. This is an S-Ranked mission; you're going to deal with Askaski. Naruko, Kakashi, don't forget how powerful they are."

Kakashi's lone eye slid over to Sasuke for a brief moment, then it rested on Naruko for a split second longer before focusing on Tsunade, his voice calm but Naruko knew of his concerns. He was concerned about seeing Itachi and how Sasuke would react. He was worried that they'd try and kidnap her because of the Kyubi. Yes, she knew. She wasn't an idiot. "Hokage-Sama, do you think that this team… is the right team for a mission like this?" his voice was heavily lined with an unexplainable emotion, and Tsunade did take notice.

Tsunade gave him a slightly defeated look, but it was gone quickly. "No, you're not. But you're the only team available. You leave for Suna now, go."

Kakashi nodded his head quickly and swiftly gave his three students a look that said, 'meet me outside'. Kakashi disappeared out of the window, with Naruko hot on his heels, the two instantly heading for the roof. When Sakura and Sasuke joined them, Kakashi began what he wanted to say.

"This is an emergency mission, given to the highest skilled team available," Kakashi grimaced behind his mask. Naruko frowned as she realised that she was finding it easier and easier to read the man. "It doesn't necessarily play at our strengths but… I want us all at the main gate in ten minutes, pack as much weapons that you can possibly fit. Pack for a three-week long mission, but heavy weapons. Don't forget your hot-weather, sand-storm, clothing."

Sakura nodded her face a mask of seriousness, Sasuke nodded his head stoically and Naruko stared at him blankly. Kakashi hesitated. "Before we leave, the Askuski are hunting certain types of people; Jinjuriki."

"Like…?" Sakura asked her eyes wide. Naruko nodded her head, a bit more harshly then she originally intended causing Sakura to flinch slightly and Sasuke's face to drain of the small amount of emotion that he presented.

"Like me."

Kakashi nodded his head, seriously, his posture alert and his book nowhere in sight which tipped the whole team off the he was being deadly serious for a change. "You have to be extra careful Naruko. They'll be hunting you too."

Naruko nodded her head carefully, her expression stoic. But on the inside her mind was whirling, what could happen…? The more important question was what could happen to her?

Naruko just found another reason to be a ninja, a better one than keeping her friends safe. She needed to protect herself first and foremost. She needed to survive.


The trip to Suna was harsh; Naruko couldn't ever remember a time where the sandstorms were this bad. Thankfully for the team, Naruko had lived in Suna for a few years, and she was taught how to survive a sandstorm, but that didn't mean that she wasn't delayed.

The best way to avoid any harsh effects of a sandstorm was to wait it out after all. You had to be an idiot to want to charge through something like that.

It had taken a few more hours than it should have to reach the village, but once they got there, Naruko realised how bad things were. Sakura had instantly been ushered away to heal Kankurō, who had been poisoned. None of the Suna staff could seem to heal him, and Sakura had been the apprentice of one of the most talented healers and she'd walked off with a worried but grim expression.

Then Naruko, Sasuke and Kakashi were pushed into a room by the hospital and were told to wait. Naruko had been slightly surprised by the forceful, slightly neglectful treatment they were receiving, but when she thought about it, it made sense. They had no leader, they were lost.

Naruko sighed, and wondered if she could see Akemi before they left. She hadn't seen her sister in years, since she was fifteen and Jiraiya and she went to Suna for a small-ish trip. Naruko sighed, missing the blonde haired woman, and wondering how she was. Naruko sat down next to Sasuke in a huff, waiting for something to happen, as Kakashi leaned against the wall next to Naruko his nose buried in the book that she'd bribed him with.

Suddenly, a random old lady came running out of the room that Naruko knew Sakura was in and hurled herself at Kakashi, the intent in her eyes screamed murder.

Naruko blinked, but didn't bother getting up as Kakashi dodged around the woman. Naruko recognised the woman. She was Chiyo, one of the town elders – although, Naruko didn't really know why she was attacking the white-haired ninja, or why she was there at all for that matter.

"Chiyo-Sama, what are you doing!?" Temari yelled, opening the door, causing the old woman to stop and look at the older blonde with confusion and contempt.

"The White Fang will pay for his misdeeds! He killed my darling son and his wife!" The old woman raged. The White Fang-? Naruko's eyebrow rose with confusion and Kakashi rubbed the back of his head sheepishly. Naruko hadn't realised that Kakashi had had a name like that… Then again, it did seem somewhat familiar to Naruko…

"Ah, that's my father," Kakashi explained and the woman gave him a closer look. The woman suddenly nodded her head, not looking sheepish at all. Instead, she just gave Kakashi an evil eye and Temari sighed.

"Sorry Hatake-San, we didn't mean to attack you, right Chiyo-Sama?" Temari asked the older woman, who just let out a 'humph', not look sorry at all. Naruko attention started to drift off again, slightly upon realising that nothing important was happening. Naruko grimaced, wondering when she would be able to go home and just clean her apartment.

Sasuke made a sound of frustration, glaring at the woman who dared attack one of their ninja and then continued to show no remorse for this fact. "Do you know what you need us for yet? We're busy people and we have important things to be doing."

"Sasuke," Kakashi said warningly, but he went ignored, mostly. Sasuke rolled his eyes, and Naruko watched the new development between their relationship curiously. Sasuke… was different; he'd grown to be very bitter. About what? Naruko would never know. Sasuke had always been a bitter person, Naruko knew this, and he was thirsty for revenge against his brother – but now Sasuke… He was bordering on being disrespectful.

Temari stiffened, and look like she was refraining from glared at the black-haired boy. "Sakura is trying to heal my brother; we will know where they took Garra when he wakes up. He's the one that went after him after all."

Sasuke nodded his head cuttingly and gave her a scornful look like it was her fault that they were sitting there and doing nothing. "We can show you to your hotel room in the meantime, I'll be sure to call you when we need you," Temari said her forehead creasing. "It's called The Mercure."

Naruko nodded her head. "I know where it is," Naruko said, drawing the eyes of the four ninja. Temari nodded her head, and gestured for Chiyo to follow her back into the hospital room. Sasuke stood up at the same time that the two other women began to move.

"I'll help Sakura," he said shortly, going through the door before it swung shut. Looking at the back of the door, Naruko saw a window and realised that was how Chiyo had spotted Kakashi. Naruko's thoughts briefly flickered to who Kakashi's father was and what exactly he had done to get a reaction like that from the old lady.

Ninja never did really make allies when they were any good, perhaps… Kakashi's father was one of those rare good ninja, which was hated for killing family. Naruko frowned, she hated that Ninja seemed to attract so many enemies.

Research seemed to be in order; Naruko wondered if the Library of Konoha would have the correct information? Never the less, Naruko stored the information away in her mind and resolved to search for it at a later date.

Naruko then stood and looked at Kakashi, like she was asking him what they should do next. Kakashi gave her a serious but somehow sleepy look; she wondered how the man did it. "I'll send Pakkun to try and find Garra, but, all we can do is wait."

Naruko nodded her head, wondering if this is what all S-Ranked missions would be like. Naruko couldn't believe that she was back in Suna and all she was doing was waiting for a sign. "Naruko-Chan, why don't we go visit Akemi?"

Naruko raised an eyebrow at the silver-haired man. Wondering if he was being serious, they were after all, in the middle of a very important mission. Kakashi chuckled quietly at the look Naruko was giving him. "I'll be with you, don't worry, we'll be informed if anything happens."

Naruko hesitated, not because she didn't want to see the woman, but because she was worried about completing the mission on time. And with a mission like the one that she was on, time was paramount.

Kakashi's eye crinkled into a smile at her hesitance. "Come on, first we need something that smells like Garra, we should be able to get something from the Kazekage's office."

Naruko nodded her head. "I'll go ask Temari-San, we need to be… politically correct, right?"

Kakashi's mouth seemed to twitch from beneath his mask. "You've been taught to be… tactful."

Naruko frowned at the man. "Are you saying I wasn't tactful before, Kakashi?"

The white-haired man snorted, and pushed the girl towards the door. "Prove to me you've got tact, if not, well… more laps."

Naruko scowled at the man, as she pushed the door open. "I'm not your student anymore, you can't make me."

Naruko slipped through the door, Kakashi right behind her mumbling something that she only caught snippets of. "Thank – Killed – sleep."

"What was that?" Naruko asked, wary if she actually wanted to know what he'd said, as she watched numerous ninja working over Kankuro's body.

"Hm?" Kakashi asked, like he didn't know what she was talking about. "I said nothing."

Naruko shot the older man a wary look, but turned to the worried blonde Suna Ninja. "Temari-San… We were just wondering if…" Naruko started to explain.


"Akemi-Nee? Is that a piano?" Naruko asked, bushing her fingers over the old-looing grand piano that was sitting in the corner of the room, taking up so much room. Akemi beamed at her – trying to ignore Kakashi who was lying across the couch reading porn.

"Yeah! Hiro-Chan… he always wanted to learn, so… I decided that I had to take it upon myself to learn it!"

Naruko's shoulders dropped and she could see how upset the older woman still was over his death, no matter the fact that it had been years. Naruko herself still hadn't completely gotten over the fact, and she hadn't known him half as long as Akemi had.

But he was the first person to truly ever care for her.

"Are you any good, Nee-Chan?" Naruko asked almost cheekily. "I bet it sounds like you singing in the shower. Never meant to be heard."

"Cheeky brat," Akemi said affectionately. Both of them remembering Hiroshi, and how he continuously teased Akemi over her terrible singing and how much the green-eyed woman didn't care.

Akemi looked over at Naruko with a completely fake smile, before realising that Naruko was seeing right through it, so she changed the subject. "You look so grown up now Naruko, and look at that! You're no longer as flat as a board, like me…" She trailed off sounding slightly miserable.

Naruko gave her a tight smile and rolled her eyes at the woman and Kakashi peered at them over his book, his gaze assessing. Akemi noticed this and gave him a disdainful look. "Go back to your porn, will you?"

Kakashi gave the woman an eye smile before returning to his book and Naruko chuckled, but Akemi gave an annoyed sigh. Akemi never really did like people who read the 'Icha Icha' books… And Kakashi seemed to get on the woman's nerves quite a bit.

Suddenly there was a knock on the door, and Akemi practically flew to the door and wrenched it open. "Akemi-Sama, we're here for the Konoha ninja, Kankuro-Sama has woken up."

Kakashi snapped his book shut, and Naruko was next to her older-sister figure in an instant. Finally, she thought, the mission was the real reason she was there after all. "Naruko-Chan, are you ready to go?" Kakashi asked, his voice growing serious and tense.

Naruko gave him a single sharp nod, trying to prepare herself for a long run. Naruko quickly turned back to the green-eyed woman, who was trying to hide her disappointment. "Goodbye, Akemi-Nee."

Akemi gave her a slightly bittersweet smile. "Bring your team for dinner before you leave, will you?"

Naruko's eyes went from Akemi to Kakashi, asking him the silent question. Kakashi rubbed the back of his neck. "We'll see."

Akemi glared at the man for a few moments, and Naruko turned to leave only to get glommed by her sister-figure, and have her whisper one word in her ear; "Please."

She would come back. Naruko nodded her head once, before running out of the house, Kakashi on her tail, as they followed the running Suna Ninja back to the hospital. They'd drifted, and Naruko didn't know how to act anymore – they were both different.

Naruko didn't really know what was going on anymore. She felt lost.


Naruko glanced at Chiyo nervously, wondering exactly why the old woman wanted to come along with them. To the best of her knowledge, the old woman just sat in her house with her brother – only to be called upon when Suna needed their help. That was only in drastic matters too.

Either way, the woman wouldn't elaborate on why she wanted to go with them, and that made Naruko extremely paranoid. Naruko shared a look with Sasuke, to see that he was equally as paranoid as she was. It would have to be around half-way to the hide-out when they got stopped. Or was the better word, stalled?

Naruko hadn't been the first one to sense the intruder; in fact, she'd probably been the last. But that didn't mean she didn't know before he attacked, and she was the most ready to go from defensive to offensive.

Right in front of the group, a swarm of crows grew into a figure, which looked like an older Sasuke, Itachi. Sasuke grew tense, and he glared at his brother heatedly. Kakashi too grew tense, but most likely for a very different reason. "Brother," Sasuke spat.

Itachi inclined his head at Sasuke, and just stood there in their path. Knowing that with Sasuke, that's all he needed to do. Naruko bit her lower lip wondering if they would be able to take him out and get to Garra in time. Hell, they were probably too late as it was.

Naruko had already come to terms with the fact that Garra was most likely dead.

"Sasuke," Kakashi said his eyes trained on Itachi. "We don't have enough time for a show down."

Sasuke inclined his head to the left. "Leave me to deal with him then."

"Sasuke-Kun…" Sakura mumbled in worry.

Kakashi looked seriously conflicted, and Itachi just stood there like he knew that they couldn't leave, even if they wanted too. Suddenly Kakashi backed up a few steps. "You three go on ahead, we'll catch up to you in a minute or two."

Naruko nodded her head seriously. "Come on Sakura."

Sakura looked like she seriously wanted to protest, so Naruko did the thing she knew best. She grabbed the arm of the old lady, and Sakura and disappeared, not giving either the chance to say no.

When they reappeared, at a safe distance from the soon-to-be war zone, Sakura snatched her arm away from Naruko, and gave her a glare. "We have to go back; we can't leave them there alone!"

"No," Naruko responded, her face as blank as a stone. "Kakashi, as our team leader told us to go on ahead, so we will."

"Don't you care that they might get hurt, Naruko!" Sakura almost pleaded, looking very worried for her teammates.

"Come on girly, give the Hatake some respect and follow his orders," Chiyo grumbled, not sounding like she respected the man at all.

"B-but…" Sakura sighed, before getting a determined look. "Come on then, let's go."

Naruko could only raise an eyebrow at the other girls sudden mood change. The three woman took off running again, going off the map that Naruko had somewhat constructed from Kankuro and Kakashi's ramblings. Sakura gave a side glance to Naruko. "Do you know where you're going?"

Naruko nodded her head once. "I have an idea." She said somewhat grudgingly, not wanting to say that she might be completely wrong. Not too long later, they got to a place that looked a lot like a cave but had a massive boulder in the way.

Naruko knew it was the right place because she could sense the Binju chakra. It was something she was fine-tuned to thanks to the Kyubi. The three women looked at the rock for a few seconds, and Naruko drew a senborn from one of her holders underneath her skit and threw it at the rock.

Sakura watched the movement with curiosity and her face turned surprised when the small bit of metal was repelled by a barrier. "How did you…?"

"There's a seal in the top, right hand corner," Naruko said after staring at the rock for a few moments, it was common sense that they'd put another barrier around them.

The other two woman's heads snapped to that corner and Sakura cursed, "I don't know a thing about seals… Naruko?"

"I know a bit," She admitted, traveling with Jiraiya attested to that fact but… she hadn't done very well with the practical use of the things. "This is not something that I know however."

Chiyo shook her head, her eyes narrowed at the seal, she too had no idea. What should they do? They couldn't touch the rock… "DYNAMIC ENTRY!"

Suddenly, Gai and Lee came running into the picture, their teeth gleaming. Gai gave them thumbs up. "We're here to aid my eternal rival and his youthful team~!"

"I love you Sakura-Chan~!" Lee yelled behind him, his eyes blazing, only to get ignored. Gai looked around and spotted the three women and gave them a confused look. "Where are my eternal rival and his youthful student?"

Naruko gave him a cool look, hiding any confusion she may have had, noticing that the brown haired girl – what was her name again? And Neji, Haku's crush, came into the scene, looking slightly winded. "Sasuke and Kakashi have been caught up in a fight. They'll be here soon."

They all looked surprised, and Sakura hesitated for a second. "Gai-Sensei? Do you know what that seal means?" She gestured to the bit of paper, which was almost completely hidden.

Gai nodded his head. "Yes my dear Sakura-Chan! Good you of to notice! I almost didn't! I will look at it…and yes I do know this! There will be four others in a four mile distance, all we have to do is rip them off and the barrier is gone."

Sakura looked sheepish, and Naruko made no move to correct him on who noticed. "I didn't notice it first…" Sakura mumbled, but no one payed her any attention. Naruko didn't like being noticed for her skills. She wanted to blend into the background, even if she knew that bright colours that she wore didn't help that matter. But then again, it did help her matter because no one expected someone who wore something so bright to be intelligent at all. And considering the light blue Kimono that she wore was very far from what you'd expected a skilled ninja to wear, well…

Gai straighten up and turned to his team. "Right! We'll have to go and find them with your eyes Neji! Then, Kakashi's youthful students can get rid of the boulder! You have your head pieces correct?"

The three teens nodded their heads and Naruko watched as they slipped the small electronics into their ears, as did Sakura so she knew when to rip their one off, and then they all took off into different directions. Sakura ran up the side next to the rock and sat down on her hunches her hand above the small bit of paper, waiting to rip it off.

Naruko tensed, ready to break into their hideout and wondered how long it would be til Kakashi and Sasuke to get there. Naruko knew that she would be able to fight a member of the group that hunted her, and she knew Chiyo would most likely be able to as well. But Naruko hadn't had enough time to fully grasp Sakura's new skill set.

Naruko would be much more at ease when Kakashi joined them.

Naruko watched on as Sakura's green eyes narrowed at the piece of paper, looking like she was mentally counting in her head before she ripped the piece of paper off the rock and quickly jumped back to where Naruko and the Sand elder were standing, just out of explosion distance. Nothing happened.

"Nothing happened?" Naruko mumbled under her breath, her eyes narrowing at the rock. Naruko gave Sakura a considering look, which she seemed to understand.

"You want me to punch it?" Sakura asked, Naruko.

Naruko nodded her head, taking another few steps back – she had witnessed Sakura's strength before, as had she seen Tsunade's. Chiyo didn't seem too convinced that Sakura would be able to do anything, but she kept her mouth closed in a firm line. Sakura took a few steps back to get a running start; she cocked her fist and then ran at the rock, punching it in the centre.

Everything was silent for a moment, before a massive crack appeared in the middle of the rock. It wasn't long after that that smaller cracks began to appear in the rock, and almost as soon as Sakura took a few steps back, the massive boulder crumbled. Naruko's eyebrow rose, involuntary. Naruko quickly made her way next to Sakura and with a nod, the two made their way into the cave.

Walking in, Naruko noticed the massive stone statue at the back. She noticed that the only exit was the one that they'd come in. She realised quick quickly that everything was made out of rock, and was deceptively smooth. Naruko's eyes locked onto the two Askuski members standing in front of the twelve stone rocks, which looked like people would stand on, if this was an evil cult organisation movie.

Narrowing her blue eyes at the two, she realised that the blonde one with similar hair to Naruko, was sitting on a passed out Garra. Naruko concluded that the red-head was dead. Naruko felt the beginnings of pity swirl in her stomach before she violently squashed it. She couldn't afford to feel anything in this sort of situation.

"….Well, well, well… What do we have here? Konoha Ninja? And the Nine-Tails as well, huh?" The blonde said with an excited look, and a wide smirk. "I so dibs fighting you, yeah."

"Deidara," The smaller one grumbled. He looked… like a puppet in a black cloak with red puffy clouds. "One each, you know that."

"Neh," Deidara mumbled. "Who cares, yeah?"

"Wait! Is Garra…" Sakura trailed off, sounding worried, but looking strong.

"Dead," the puppet intoned, causing Naruko's eye to twitch. So was the life of a ninja…

Naruko suddenly took a step backwards. "Sakura, Chiyo -Sama, please, take the puppet," Naruko mumbled, Sakura caught her eye, realising what she was going to do and nodded her head. Naruko glanced back up and locked her eyes with Deidara, than she ran.

Naruko darted out of the cave and started running back though the forest in which she'd originally came through. If the two were together and worked as a team, Naruko knew that they wouldn't have a chance. But if they were separated… Well, they had a chance, and Sakura would get the back up by staying behind. Naruko knew she could do this – she needed to test herself.

Naruko knew one of them would follow her; after all, they were hunting people just like her.

Naruko knew she was being followed, because she could sense the man's chakra. He really wasn't being discrete about it at all. Naruko was trying to form a plan for beating said man, but without really knowing how he fought, Naruko had no clue how to proceed.

That of course lasted until a little clay statue was flung at Naruko's back, her eyes narrowed at the little bird for a second, her eyes widening before she threw herself backwards just in time to avoid it exploding. Naruko's eyes were wide.

Deidara jumped off another clay model from the sky as Naruko tensed and landed near where she was standing. He grinned at her happily. "You like my clay models? They're art, you know, art is a bang, yeah!" He made an excited movement with his hands.

"Isn't art meant to be tranquil?" Naruko asked slowly, buying herself some time to think. The blonde haired man pulled an unattractive face.

"Your just like Sasori-No-Danna, you don't appreciate the true meaning of art. Never fear though," his grin started to widen as he said this. "I can show you the true meaning of art, yeah!"

Naruko just gave him a somewhat bored look, before launching at him with her sword raised. The blonde haired man quickly blocked her movement, his slanted blue eyes narrowing at Naruko, before deciding on something.

As the look of realisation dawn on the older man's face, Naruko cursed in her mind and jumped back, expecting something to happen. Although she didn't expect him to jump back too, putting his hand in his pocket. Naruko's eyes narrowed at the hand, but didn't make a move to stop him, just waiting to see what he'd pull out. When he did pull his hand out, it looked like he was holding a frog – a clay frog. A bomb.

Naruko cursed as he threw the damn thing at her, causing her to start running from the man again. "Hey! Don't run! Don't you want to see some art, yeah?" he called after her, she could already see the smirk that so far she hadn't seen leave the man's face.

Naruko didn't stop running; she needed to find an opened place – a field most preferably. She needed to find a place where she would always be able to see those pesky bombs of his, and avoid them accordingly. When Naruko ran into the field, she stopped in the middle and waited. She didn't wait too long before she saw two bird like missiles chasing after her.

Naruko didn't know what would happen if she simply cut the thing in half, would it still explode? Making a quick decision, she made a clone of herself and made it hide in the forest, and make a few more at the same time – you know, just in case. Naruko frowned, readying her sword, and channelling the power of the nine-tails though her hands and into the sword of hers. When the bombs came close enough to her she swung.

Like she expected, the second her attack reached the bombs, they exploded. Naruko quickly switched out with a clone, wincing as the memories of getting exploded filtered through her head. Quickly, so he wouldn't come looking for her, and in the end losing the field that Naruko wanted, she walked right back into the field.

Deidara was standing on the edge with a manic grin on his face, the only faltered a little when he saw she was still alive. He blinked, and then the grin retuned at full force, like he'd decided it would simply be no fun if she hadn't survived.

This was when Naruko realised something. He was a long range fighter – and if she wanted to have a chance at beating him, she would need to be at close range. Naruko quickly threw herself at the man, not letting him even speak a single word and tried to cut his head off.

Each move she made was met on the defensive, but that never changed. He kept trying to get a longer distance away from Naruko, but she wasn't letting him, and he couldn't keep up with her enough to move from the defensive to offensive. That of course didn't mean that Naruko was getting very far – it seemed when he was at a disadvantage, they were almost even. Almost.

Naruko swiped at his head, causing him to duck and his grin to widen again, Naruko narrowed her eyes not realising why he was so happy… "Behind you brat, he's sending them behind you."

Naruko's eyes widened and she switched out with one of her clones stationed nearby, only to watch the clone get blown up. Deidara looked pleased with himself for a second and Naruko used this distraction to launch one of her Kyubi powered swipes at him. He dodged it quickly, grinning. "You're left!"

Naruko's head snapped to the left to find herself face to face with another bomb, how did he-!? Naurko had to throw herself out of the trees and back into the cleaning to avoid getting exploded, but her clothing got slightly singed from the close call, Naruko's eyes were wide.

Before Naruko could stand up again, and get herself together, she felt her sword being kicked out of her hand. She looked up to see the blonde man's smirking face as he laughed quietly. "Art is a bang, yeah?"

Naruko blinked, he was so close to her, but her primary weapon had been kicked near the tree… Think… "I still thing that art should be peaceful."

Deidara grunted at her, like she didn't know real art. "That's not real art, yeah."

Naruko's eyes suddenly widened slightly, and she started to create the Rasengun in her hand. Deidara's eyes widened as he recognised what she was doing, but Naruko lunged for his foot driving in through it.

Deidara fell to the floor in pain, but kneeled back up with a weak grin. "Heh, should have expected that, yeah?"

"No," Naruko said with a small smirk on her lips standing back up. Her eye trained on the man, ignoring everything else. "You should have expected him."

Right then, the sound of birds chirping reached the ears of the 'artist' and his eyes widened drastically right before a ball of electricity was shoved though his chest.

Naruko couldn't really look away from the now dead man, but she looked up if only to stop the crushing amount of sorrow she was starting to feel. Damn Jiraiya and making her feel. She didn't want to feel. The blue-eyed girl looked up to see Kakashi standing there, his red eye spinning, looking at her carefully. He looked like crap, really.

"You took your time," Naruko said slowly. "For a moment there…" Naruko trailed off not really wanting to admit that she was glad he came.

Kakashi gave her a weak, but grim smile. "I… was lost on the road of violence."

Naruko shook her head slowly, and Kakashi gestured for her to follow him. "Let's go see how everyone else is. Sasuke went to go help Sakura, although, he really isn't in the right shape to be fighting."

Naruko could hear the disapproval in his voice. She followed the man a few steps before he fell to his knees. Naruko darted to his side, trying to hide her worried expression. "Sasuke isn't the only one who isn't in the right shape."

"You calling me old, brat?" Kakashi asked, weakly, swaying on the spot and Naruko realised what was wrong. Chakra exhaustion. Naruko sighed.

"Not calling you young, am I?" Naruko mumbled just before Kakashi blacked out. Naruko then grabbed the man's legs and hauled him over her shoulder and ran after Sakura's small chakra.

It didn't take her too long to catch up to them, and when she did, she found Garra attempting to get healed by Chiyo, Sakura standing next to her trying to help, and Saskue out cold behind her… Not to mention the crowd of about one hundred bystanders.

Naruko dropped Kakashi, as carefully as she could, next to Sasuke and Sakura looked up at her with a grim look. "Naruko! You're alright, thank goodness… What happened to…?"

"Chakra exhaustion, I think," Naruko said mumbling the last part.

Right then Chiyo fell to her knees and Sakura was right there to help her. "What's wrong…?"

"I don't have enough chakra…." The old woman said her voice devoid of emotion. "I can't bring him back."

Naruko's mind wandered to the idea of chakra sharing, it was generally frowned upon, but Naruko did have a lot of the stuff. Naruko frowned slightly, looking at everyone mourning around her. She was indifferent about life on most days really… But… Naruko glanced back at her unconscious teammates… He was always trying to show her the benefits of saving people – of helping their allies.

"Take mine," Naruko cut in before she could talk herself out of it. "I have more than enough."

"Naruko… are you sure you-?" Sakura asked hesitantly, like she knew that he didn't fit in with something that Naruko would do. But Naruko had changed; she was trying to be a better person – at least as better of a person you can be when you were a hired assassin.

Naruko nodded her head sharply, looking back for another moment, with one side of her lip pulling up – ha, she could help others when not helping herself, She could be less selfish. Chiryo looked at her for a moment before securing Naruko to use.

It took a little over five minutes, and Naruko was left feeling drained but it was worth it to see Garra's eyes open again, in wonder. Naruko even managed to feel pity as Chiyo left this plane of earth for the last time.

For the first time in a long time, Naruko actually smiled.


"Potato's! Peas and carrots~!" Akemi chanted as she pilled more healthy foods onto Naruko's plate. Purposely ignoring Naruko's delicately blank face at the foods she all but forced her to eat. Sakura sweat dropped seeing the act that the two blondes were putting up, before her eyes flickered over to Saskue who was glaring at his peas like they'd done him a great injustice for being round.

Sakura sighed, causing Kakashi's eyes to momentarily leave his book and look at her before smiling and going back to his book. He was still reading the one that Naruko got for him, causing many to wonder if he was finished it yet – considering he hadn't parted from it since he'd gotten it.

"Have you finished that yet?" Naruko asked, her voice grumpy, as Akemi pilled more carrots onto her plate happily.

Kakashi looked over the top of his book to smile at Naruko cheerfully. "Of course I have, I'm simply reading it again."

"The least you can do is put it away when around children…" Akemi grumbled, glaring at the silver-haired man darkly.

"We're eighteen," Sasuke grumbled looked at the oldest blonde in the room. Sasuke did not appreciate being called a 'child.'

"Naruko's only seventeen," Sakura said helpfully, only to receive a glare from Sasuke.

"And yet… she's the only other one to have read the damn thing."

"Naruko has done what!?" Akemi said sounding seriously annoyed. Naruko then glared at Sasuke, before planning at least twelve escape roots. The one thing that Akemi could never stand was Icha Icha books, and she hated those that read them even more.

"Um," Naruko mumbled, wishing that Sasuke wasn't so much of an idiot.

Akemi rounded her glare on Kakashi, who felt a nice sense of forbidding, and considered jumping out of the window. "You let her read that… that… filth?!"

"It wasn't me," Kakashi said, warily. "Blame Jiraiya-Sama."

Akemi gritted her teeth loudly, and Naruko seriously worried for everyone's safety for a moment. Akemi gave Naruko a scary look. "Never read that…crap again!"

Naruko shrugged her shoulders; she wasn't really planning on it. "I won't."

"You better not, I swear if I hear-!" Akemi then went on a long winded rant that Naruko really couldn't be bothered listening too, and much rather, to glare at Sasuke and Kakashi, who she blamed for getting her into this mess.

Sasuke smirked, apparently pleased with Naruko discomfort and Kakashi just smiled at the roof – him too finding amusement in the situation.


Naruko was wondering around aimlessly, wondering if there was a decent weaponry shop where she could go to get her sword repaired. Being back in Konoha was kind of bittersweet for the young girl – but ultimately, it was what she needed.

Then again, Naruko really did need to get her sword fixed, using the Kyubi's chakra corroded the metal and for that reason she had to be careful, she didn't need the sword to fall apart in the middle of a fight. It was her best weapon after all.

Naruko resisted the urge to groan – as usual, and resisted the urge to copy Shikamaru and mutter his trademark 'troublesome'.

"Troublesome, Naruko what are you doing?"

Naruko turned around quickly to see Shikamaru casually leaning against a building, his eyes following her movements.

Naruko got an idea. "Shikamaru, where do you go to get your weapons?"

"Sharps and Crosses," Shikamaru mumbled. "I can take you there?"

Naruko's lips twitched. "It wouldn't be troublesome, would it?"

Shikamaru groaned and rubbed his eyes. "Of course it is… troublesome women."

Never the less, Shikamaru took her to get her sword fixed.

Kakashi POV

Hatake Kakashi knew he was screwed the second he laid eyes on her. When she'd come back, Kakashi had half expected a colour-blind twelve year old to come back. Not a mature looking seventeen year old, the second her saw her, he knew he was gone.

She looked lovely; those years away really had done her justice. She looked like a female version of her father true, but she had the… body of her mother. Kakashi knew if anyone could hear his thoughts, he'd be murdered in his sleep.

He felt like a paedophile looking at Naruko. All those curves that she didn't bother to hide, that she flaunted even, they were driving him absolutely crazy. Kakashi had always had a weakness for the curvy ones; he would go as far as to label them as his 'type'. She was shorter than he expected her to be, (considering her parents and all) - but that was made up or with the fact that she was incredibly self-conscious about her height – causing her to lash out those who made remarks on it.

It was amusing, really. Kakashi found he could always get a good laugh when mentioning Naruko's height, her reactions were priceless. That should have been Kakashi's first warning.

Not only had her looks matured, and her clothing sense, which Kakashi found way to appealing, especially the way the blue kimono brought out the spark of her eyes… But she had grown as much as a person.

She'd become less closed off, she was opening up; she was trying to connect with everyone. The fact was, Naruko was trying to become friendlier and she was showing everyone her true personality in the process.

Kakashi hadn't known a personality could be attractive until then. She was blank, calm and cool but at the same time she was fiery, bright and sarcastic. And Kakashi was gone, he knew it – there was no coming back for him.

Oh, how Kakashi hoped he wouldn't get murdered for his thoughts. Because that's all they were, thoughts and that's all they could remain as, ever. Because it was just wrong, it was all wrong.

It hadn't taken Kakashi very long at all to fall, it almost happened too quickly, but then again, it had been a long thing coming. He'd gotten to know her though their letters, all because Jiraiya wanted to ensure that she still had ties – friends, but without seeing her and seeing how young she was (despite the fact that he knew her age) he'd fallen, quite hard without realising it.

It was hard to remember at times, when she was so mature that she was ten years younger than him, so he pushed the thoughts aside. But then he saw her… oh hell, he saw her…

Kakashi knew this wouldn't end well for him. Kakashi stewed over this fact for a while now, plainly staring at his book, although he wasn't reading a single word that was written in it, letting his mind find solace in the loud conversations around him. Kakashi resisted the urge to sigh.

It wasn't right. She was ten years younger than him, she was his Sensei's daughter, she was his student – well, ex-student but still. It was wrong. Nothing would come of his thoughts, not now, not ever.

Kakashi tried to ignore the sinking feeling that he was getting with his new resolve, and quickly realised that it would have to be one of the hardest things he would ever have to do. Every time he thought about her, he saw her curves, her small smiles when she tried very hard to not smile but failed anyway.

He saw the shape of her very attractive body… oh hell…

"I challenge you to a drinking contest my eternal rival!" Gai declared gleefully, already quite drunk. Kakashi ignored him, still too lost in his own misery. "Ah! Why are you so cool and hip!?"

Asuma just shook his head, and sipped his drink, eyeing the prospects in the bar but Gemna (who didn't usually go to bars with this particular group) was slightly confused. "He's not paying attention?"

Asuma groan and muttered back; "You get used to it, really."

"Listen to me! Urh, why are you so hip!?"

Kakashi was simply lost in thoughts about how wrong he was, he couldn't actually like his student, his beautiful student… He needed help, he really needed help.

Kakashi slammed his head against the table, hoping to erase his less than noble thoughts of his ex-student from his head. "…He doesn't usually do that does he?"

"Hmm? Only when there's something on his mind," Asuma responded, looking down at his drink and deciding if he was having Gemna in his ear all night and if Gai was looking to fight Kakashi when he was preoccupied, then he was going to need more alcohol.

Kakashi was thinking he needed the same thing. Also, that he needed to bury whatever it was the he was feeling, and never think on it again. If only he could… but he had to try…

Kakashi's hand shot out and stole the bottle of Sake right out of Asuma's hand without asking for it and drank the whole bottle in less than ten seconds. Asuma groaned loudly asking himself why he wasn't with his girlfriend, when all that happened was his alcohol being stolen. Asuma raised his hand and gestured for the waitress to bring him more.

Kakashi stole that bottle too.

Asuma seriously considered that there was something major on the Hatake's mind – he didn't usually drink that much. Gemna just watched the proceedings with curiosity, not realising that Hatake Kakashi was such an alcoholic.

He wondered what he was like drunk…. Right then, Gai's head hit the table with a loud bang, fast asleep. And much to Gemna's confusion, it just went wholly ignored. "Kakashi! Give me my Sake back!"

"No," Kakashi replied moodily, like he'd just been told that Icha Icha was being cancelled.

"Give it back!" Asuma said, his voice growing in pitch. "I want to get drunk too."

Were they really acting like two year olds? Gemna wondered, staring between the two A-Rank ninja as they fought over a bottle. It seemed like they were…?

"It likes me better," Kakashi mumbled, and for the first time, Gemna realised that he was drunk… Such a powerful ninja, turned into a three year old when he got drunk…?

"But… It's mine, dammit!"