Author's Note: Again, the events in this chapter are mostly new material. I'm adding a lot of depth to the story that didn't exist before, but in the next chapter, we'll start seeing some material from the original story.

This chapter was betaed by SingingSparklyKuma.

Chapter 07: Mist, Leaf, and Sand

Jiraya was very uncomfortable making camp in the Land of Water. Yesterday, they had docked in the main island of the Land of Water, and were now in foreign territory. If they ran into a Mist shinobi, they would have to convince them that they are simply peace envoys. Before they left, Tsunade gave him a signed paper with the Hokage's seal, but Jiraya expected any enemies they encountered to be more than a tad suspicious.

"Put out the fire," he told Konohamaru. "It's a little cold tonight, but it's for the best. We don't want some Mist ninja to see the flames and attack us as we sleep." Despite the cool air, Konohamaru followed the Sannin's command and put out the fire, stomping it out to the last ember.

Choji and Iruka were with them as well, finishing their dinner. Iruka had cooked some beans over the fire for them, but Jiraya couldn't eat. He was too nervous.

Why didn't I ask Tsunade to give me a sensory-type? Jiraya asked himself. What he wouldn't give to have the Byakugan scouting out ahead for enemies. Hell, even the Inuzuka clan's dogs or the Aburame clan's bugs would do a good job keeping watch and give the old man some peace of mind.

The leaves rustled nearby, and all four shinobi were quickly on their feet ready for battle. Jiraya had his fingers making a hand sign in case he needed a jutsu. He saw a kunai in Konohamaru's hand, a cooking knife in Iruka's (hey, it was better than nothing), and a chicken leg in Choji's. At least the Akimichi was ready to use his Partial-Expansion Jutsu.

It was a false alarm. Shio walked back through the brush and revealed himself to his teammates. The black-haired Sarutobi was somewhat surprised to see the reaction his allies had, but then he realized he forgot to give the signal. When he went out to scout for the group, Jiraya told him to make a certain bird call when he decided to return.

"Sorry," he said simply, and the others relaxed, all except for Jiraya.

How could he relax? He was way too old to be doing this. He understood the necessity of the mission; heck, he understood why Tsunade wanted him to be the one to offer a peace – any sort of relationship-building wouldn't look complete without a well-known ninja from the village being sent as an envoy.

But still, he was concerned. They were working on stale information. If there was anything he learned in his many years, it was to not get involved in a situation you didn't fully understand. The last news they had from the Mist was of an assassination attempt, and that was months old. Who knows what could have happened?

No one slept well that night, least of all Jiraya. He was happy to wake up and realize that no enemy had slit his throat, however. It didn't take long for them to pack up camp and keep moving. By Jiraya's estimate, they should reach the Hidden Mist by the end of the day.

The morning was quite peaceful. They ended up finding a village that they had to go around in order to stay hidden, which definitely took them a little out of their way, but there were no enemy encounters. They were now close enough to the heavily populated areas that they had to be quiet. There could be a small child or an enemy ninja in any tree.

Without conversation, the day was boring and uneventfully slow. The map that Jiraya had been working off of was clearly outdated when they passed the second unplotted village.

It was about an hour or so after midday when Konohamaru stepped on the branch of a rotten tree, which broke off and sent the man flying down towards the ground with a thud. Jiraya, Iruka, Choji, and Shio all stopped to make sure Konohamaru was alright from the fall. When Jiraya was about to ask if he was okay, they heard another voice.

"What the hell was that?" came a grisly voice that Jiraya estimated was about fifty feet away at most. Jiraya quickly concealed himself in a bush, and Shio was quick to follow suit. Iruka and Choji were the last to hide themselves, but at least they did so before the person speaking showed up. Konohamaru wasn't so lucky.

"What do you think you're doing here?" came a different voice. The two figures came into Jiraya's view. The one who had just spoken was tall but lanky and had short dark-green hair. His face was very pointed, and he was quite homely. His companion was his exact opposite. While he wasn't the most beautiful person to walk the earth, he was certainly something to look at. He had a muscular build that reminded the Sannin of Ibiki, and he had jet-black hair. His face was as well-chiseled as his muscles, and his five-o'clock-shadow completed his tough-guy look.

"We can't let this punk tell anyone that he saw us," the first guy said, pulling out a kunai from his pocked. Jiraya narrowed his eyes. This guy wanted to kill Konohamaru. Well, if he tried, he'd be in for a surprise.

"W-Who are you?" Konohamaru asked, rolling over onto his side. Jiraya could tell that the guy's ankle hurt from his fall, but he had more pressing concerns. Konohamaru looked up at the two men and slowly pushed himself backwards, away from them.

"He doesn't know us," the big guy said with a chuckle. "What a joker."

"Hey, wait a tick," the smaller guy said. "Look at that headband. This guy's from the Leaf."

"Son of a bitch," his partner exclaimed. "What the hell is a Leaf shinobi doing all the way out here?" He hesitated, but then shook his head. "Nah, we still can't let you live. I'm all for whatever your village wants to do to the Mist, but I can't let you go free to tell people that you saw us. It's nothing personal, you understand?"

"You're not gonna win easily," Konohamaru said as his back hit the tree trunk behind him. Using it for support, he stood up, not putting too much weight on his ankle. "You're looking at the grandson of the mighty Third Hokage, Konohamaru Sarutobi."

"It's two ta' one, kid," the big man said with mirth. "It doesn't take a genius to tell you that you're at a disadvantage."

"I wonder about that," Iruka said, coming out from a bush beside the tree that Konohamaru was leaning against. "It looks to me like his odds are improving." Damn it, Jiraya thought. If Iruka hadn't come out early, they could have snuck up on them and captured them for intel on the Mist. They didn't sound like friends to the village, but only shinobi carried kunai.

They don't want anyone to know they're here, Jiraya realized. They're either rogues or enemy shinobi. Could it be that the Stone has decided to pre-emptively strike the Mist? Or is it the Cloud?

Either way, Jiraya knew that these two ninja were on the lookout for more enemies now. If Iruka was hiding, then other could – and were – with them.

"It's a party, is it?" the big guy said with a hearty laugh. "Hey, Jan, how many are there?"

After a second, the other replied. "There's another one near the bush this guy just got out of. There's another behind us, and a fifth a little ways off. None of them seem to be sensory-type." So they have a sensory ninja, do they? Jiraya mused. Well, there's no point in staying hidden.

Jiraya left his bush as Choji did the same. A moment later, Shio left his hiding spot to reveal himself to the others.

Jiraya was able to see the two ninja a little more clearly now. They both had Mist forehead protectors, but the customary slash-through-the-village-insignia of a rogue ninja was present on them. So they weren't another foreign force trying to go under the radar, they were just rogues of the Mist.

"It's five to two guys," Jiraya said, giving them a glare. "It doesn't take a genius to know you're at a disadvantage." The big guy laughed merrily at the use of his words, but the smaller guy was quiet and reserved, analyzing the situation rather than reacting as his partner did.

"I like this guy," he said. "It's a shame I have to kill you."

"Look, we don't want any trouble," Jiraya said quickly before any of his comrades could escalate the situation. "You don't want to be seen or heard, and neither do we. It looks like you have no love for the Mist, and neither do we. There's no need for us to be adversaries when we could help each other out."

The smaller guy narrowed his eyes in suspicion, but the bigger guy was the one who spoke once more. "I'm listening," he told the others. Shio and Choji walked over towards where Konohamaru, Jiraya, and Iruka were standing, so all five were facing the other two.

"How long have you been on the run?" Jiraya asked them.

"When did this turn into an interrogation?" the smaller one asked. "We didn't agree to give you answers or help you attack the village."

"We don't plan on attacking the village –" Konohamaru began, but Jiraya interrupted him.

"Keep quiet, Konohamaru," he said sharply. Please god, let this work. "They've already figured out what we're doing here – it doesn't take a genius. A squad of the villages toughest ninja found outside an enemy village. They weren't born yesterday."

"You don't look too tough, old guy," the big enemy said.

"The name's Jiraya," the Sannin told them. "You might recognize the name. I am world famous, you know."

"Chambi," the big guy said. He nodded his head towards his partner. "This is Jan."

"These are our comrades, Iruka, Shio, and Choji," Jiraya told them. "We just want to know the state of the village. Last we heard, the Mizukage was almost assassinated, and there was talk of war with the Iwa."

"It's not just talk no mores," the big guy, Chambi, said, spitting at the ground. "These idiots want to go and start the Fifth Shinobi World War, more power to them. I ain't gonna be a part of it, I told 'em. And what do I get? Thrown into an underground cell. Four days I was there – no water, no food, had to shit and piss all over myself. It wasn't until Jan broke me out that I finally decided to get out before the Mizukage destroyed the place."

"What do you mean it's not talk anymore?" Iruka said, obviously having caught Jiraya's gist. If these guys knew that they were going to be peace envoys, they wouldn't be too quick to give them information. It would lead to a fight, which could attract more enemies.

"The village is starting to store up on medicines and supplies," Jan explained. "We're getting us a surplus of food just in case Iwa brings the war to us. They've been keeping us off a lot of missions, and they're training the genin in combat instead of allowing them to train on squads. They haven't said anything about war, but it doesn't take a particularly smart man to put two and two together."

"There was some talk," Chambi began, trailing off. "I dunno how much of it's truth and how much of it's stories, but they says that the squads they sent to Iwa to get that assassin was captured, interrogated, and executed by the Stones. They sent us back the heads. Since then, Lord Mizukage has been keeping us from the Land of Earth."

"You think it will come to war," Jiraya surmised.

"It's already been decided," Chambi said. "The only question is when."

"Now what do we get in return for this info?" Jan asked, getting right to the point. "You got what you want, now help us get out of here. No fisherman's gonna give us a boat across. We're wanted men. But you guys could get us off this island, maybe start a new life in Konoha."

"I'm sorry," Jiraya said, cutting off Iruka who was about to speak. "But we still have a mission to complete. I just have one more thing to ask of you."

"Well, you won't get any more out of us," Jan said, glaring at the older man. Jiraya smirked. He knew that Shio had understood what he wanted, and he knew it was the perfect time. Suddenly, the entire forest around them morphed into a pink, squishy, rectangular shape. The size wasn't too big – about ten feet long and five feet wide – but it was enough to serve the purpose.

Jan and Chambi looked around as the fresh air went away, the blue sky was covered, and the five shinobi standing in front of them disappeared as the frog intestines fully materialized around them.

Jiraya smirked as the frog shrunk back down to size. He looked over at his teammates – Iruka and Choji had carried Konohamaru as Shio placed the rogue ninjas under a genjutsu. They were now examining Konohamaru's ankle despite the younger man insisting he was fine. Jiraya looked back at the frog and dispelled it. He didn't need those two now, but they might come in handy later.

That little detour cost them another hour, and it soon became clear that they would have to wait until the morning to arrive at the village. They could still get in a few hours of movement, though, if Konohamaru could truly move.

He wasn't as alright as he insisted, but they were still able to make a bit more movement before they had to set up camp for the night. At least now they had something. The Mist is gearing for war. As Iruka set up the sleeping bags and prepared the dinner meal, Jiraya summoned another frog, Gamatso, Gamatatsu's son.

"Hey there, Master Jiraya," the frog said in the same loud-pitched voice his father had at that age. "What can I do ya for?"

"I need you to report a message back to the village," Jiraya said. The frog nodded his head. "Tell the Hokage that the Mist has been preparing for war. Stocking up supplies, training ninja with unusual gusto, and stopping all missions. Do you think you can remember that?"

"I got ya, boss," the frog said before disappearing to Mount Myoboku. He would probably be able to make it to the village by the time Jiraya and his team got to the Mist. If something happened though, Tsunade would need to know as much as she could about the situation.

Jiraya didn't eat with the others that night. Instead, he decided to go to sleep early. He was so exhausted after that day that the second he got into his sleeping bag, he fell asleep.

He woke up to the feeling of a kunai on his throat.


Sakura, Hinata, Tenten, and Ino were all sitting around Ino's dining room table, two bottles of alcohol open and a poker game already in progress. They had been like that for about an hour, and they still had a little bit of time before the game had to end.

With Sasuke out on a mission with Neji and Shikamaru, Ino, Sakura, and Tenten were husbandless for the present. And while all three of them had children, Sakura was having Ako take care of his brother Fushiki, and Tenten's son Mako was sleeping over at Hinata's with his cousins. Kiba was watching them his last night before going off on a mission.

"I fold," Sakura said, putting her cards face-down. Hinata quickly followed suit – her cards were even worse than Sakura's. Ino and Tenten looked at each other and then placed their cards down.

"I win again," Tenten said, pulling the lot of chips towards her. "You three just have shitty luck today."

"Tell me about it," Ino muttered. Hinata looked over at Sakura with a confused expression, but Sakura just rolled her eyes. Tenten and Hinata weren't subjected to the three-hour rant that Ino went on earlier. But Tenten decided to speak up anyway.

"What's going on, honey?" she asked compassionately. "You've been acting weird all night."

Ino sighed before reaching for her glass of sake. "I didn't realize until today that Temari's gonna be there when Shikamaru gets to Suna."

"Oh, you don't have to worry about that," Tenten assured the blond, just as Sakura had hours ago. "What happened between them was ages ago. It would be like Sakura complaining that Naruto and Sasuke are on the mission together." The pinkette's eyes twitched. While she wasn't making a big deal out of it like her friend was, she was still a little worried.

She knew Sasuke didn't love her. In the last few years, she let herself believe that he had fallen for her, but ever since Naruto came back, she felt his distance. She knew that things between the two of them were probably never going to go back to where they were before Naruto left the village, but it still felt somewhat uncomfortable.

Don't think about that, she told herself. Remember, you're lucky that Naruto's alive in the first place. And he's married. As long as Naruto is with Gaara, Sasuke won't throw away our family. The thing she was more concerned about was the children. How would Ako, Saki, and Fushiki react when they found out about Naruto's history with their father? Sakura saw it as only a matter of time in this village. No one could keep secrets, and this one was a doozy.

Tenten saw the look in Sakura's eyes and immediately regretted her statement. "Y'know…because…" she started to trail off. "Everyone knows there's nothing to worry about with them." She looked at Hinata for help, but the Hyuga just took a gulp of her vodka. "And the same goes for Shikamaru and Temari. You two are just worried over nothing."

"I'm not worried," Sakura insisted. "Naruto's in love with Gaara, and he's one of my best friends. There's no way he'd do anything with Sasuke." What was left unsaid, however, was that Sasuke might not feel the same. And the other girls picked up on that as well.

"And Sasuke loves you," Ino said, momentarily forgetting her own concerns. "He might not show it, but he's like that. You know he loves you."

"Maybe," Sakura said with a nod. "I mean, he's been acting weird ever since Naruto came back, and he's never actually come out and said that he's in love with me. I mean, he gets really romantic sometimes – he treats me to dates, and he takes such good care of me in our bedroom." She shook her head. "I'm probably just making a big deal out of nothing," she said with a small chuckle. "Besides, we're not talking about Sasuke and Naruto, we're talking about Shikamaru and Temari."

"I wish you wouldn't say it like that," Ino said grumpily before sighing. "No, you're right. Shikamaru wouldn't cheat on me or anything; I know that. I just don't want Temari to get any ideas, that bitch."

"Wasn't she the one who broke up with Shikamaru?" Hinata asked, earning a glare from Ino. She obviously didn't like being reminded that her husband wasn't the one to end things between them. "I-I mean…sh-she probably won't try anything, is all."

The room got quiet as Ino dealt out the next hand to everyone. Sakura studied her cards and inwardly growled. Why wasn't she getting any luck today? All she had was a pair of threes! Sakura put a chip in for the ante.

"I raise two," Ino said, placing two more chips to the middle. Hinata matched, as did Tenten. Sakura wasn't going to let Tenten win again, however. She put in the two chips to match, but then smirked.

"I raise two," Sakura said. Ino matched, but Hinata decided to fold. Sakura couldn't blame her – she didn't have many chips left. When it came to Tenten, Sakura saw the faintest hint of a smirk as she put two more in. Sakura growled and looked down at her hand.

It was pretty crappy, and she'd already put in five chips. She didn't want to let Tenten know that she was getting the best of her, but she didn't want to risk too much more on a shit hand. "One," she said, placing a lone chip in the center.

This time it was Ino's turn to take a moment to analyze. As she did so, Sakura reached out to the nearly-empty sake bottle to pour another glass. She didn't realize how much she was going through. As soon as she finished pouring, she knocked back most of the glass. Finally, Ino settled on folding, leaving only Tenten and Sakura in the round.

"I match," Tenten said, placing another chip in the center. Sakura looked back down at her hand, and sighed. She had six more chips left, but she didn't want to lose now. As much as she wanted to win, she couldn't risk so much on a crappy hand. She took another drink of sake.

"One more," she said, placing her next chip in the middle. Tenten didn't blink before she matched. Sakura downed the rest of her glass and poured another.

"Slow down there," Ino said with a chuckle as the last dregs of the bottle spilled out into the glass. Sakura drank the whole thing in one gulp and smiled at Tenten.

"I'm all in," she said, placing her last five chips in the center. She saw Tenten's barely-there smirk fade momentarily as Hinata quietly gasped and Ino looked on with a piqued interest. Sakura wasn't known to be the big gambler of the group. Believe it or not, that title belonged to Ino. When she went all in, she generally meant it.

Except she totally didn't this time, which was weird for her. She could feel all the alcohol she had consumed starting to cloud her judgment a little bit, but she didn't care much. She smirked triumphantly at Tenten's suspicious look. Tenten put five chips into the middle and smirked.

"Let's see what you have," she said to Sakura, who growled and put her hand down: a four, two threes, a jack, and a king. Tenten cursed and put down her hand: a seven, an eight, a nine, and two twos. Sakura smiled with shock. Tenten finally got a shitty hand. She reached out and pulled the entire lot towards her.

"I guess your luck's starting to turn around," Ino commented to Tenten, who pouted for a moment before changing expression.

"I almost forgot," she said suddenly, turning to Hinata. "How's Hiashi doing?"

"I heard!" Ino exclaimed before Hinata could answer. She turned to the Hyuga as well. Sakura looked at them with confusion.

"Heard what?" she asked. The last she had heard of Hiashi Hyuga was that he was angry at his son for not focusing on starting a family.

"F-Father's in the hospital," Hinata said. "It happened today," she clarified after seeing Sakura's confused expression. Today was her day off from the hospital, so she wouldn't have known. "He's really sick. The doctors don't think he'll make it."

"How are you feeling?" Ino asked her, tenderly placing a hand on her shoulder.

"It's hard," Hinata admitted. "But you should see Hanabi – he's a wreck. He was so angry at Father, because he wanted Hanabi to give up being a jonin so he could settle down and raise the family. He was always telling him it was his duty as the head of the Hyuga clan. Last week they had a huge fight over it, and now Father's probably going to…" she trailed off, beginning to sob. Tenten immediately pulled her into a hug, and Sakura would have done the same if she wasn't on the other side of the table.

"What's he sick with?" Sakura asked, standing up. "Maybe I could help. I'll go there now and –" she made to move towards Hinata, but stumbled and fell to the ground, alarming the others.

"I don't think you'll be of any use to anyone right now," Ino said, walking over to help Sakura up. "Maybe after you sleep off this sake you'll go to the hospital and offer to help."

"I'm not that drunk," Sakura said, pushing Ino away so she could stand up on her own and prove them wrong. She stumbled again, but caught herself before falling.

"You can barely walk," Tenten said, shaking her head. "I think it's time to go home." Sakura argued a little bit, wanting to help Hinata and make her feel better, but in the end, Ino and Hinata managed to convince her to let Tenten walk her home. She would need to be back anyway if she wanted to get any sleep before work tomorrow.

As she was walking Sakura home, Tenten wondered why she volunteered. Sakura was barely able to walk in a straight line, so she had to put the pinkette's arm over her shoulder to support her, and the drunk girl was incredibly loud. Sakura didn't get drunk often, but Tenten suddenly remembered why she absolutely hated it.

"And…and then Ako told me that he wanted to hang out with Hakiri –" Sakura began, slurring her words.

"Hariki," Tenten corrected, but Sakura kept going.

"–instead of babysitting Fushiki," she finished, rolling her eyes. "Yeah, 'hang out.'" She used air quotes to express her opinion. "I told him that since his sister was out on her first real mis…mish…mission," she continued, struggling on the word, "he had to pick up some of the slack. I was like," she pulled away from Tenten and poked her chest with her finger, glaring at her, "listen mister…mister bad…bad…attitude…thingy," she trailed off. And then started again, nearly shouting this time. "You're gonna watch your brother and…and you're gonna like it." She stumbled and fell over, and Tenten cursed.

"Sakura," she said as she tried to pull the girl off the ground. "Sakura, get up!" She managed to yank her up into a sitting position, but Sakura looked at her with a miserable expression.

"I don't feel too good," she said. Tenten immediately turned her over, just in time for Sakura to begin vomiting all over the ground, with disgusting sounds to match the visual. Tenten made sure to keep the hair out of her face, but was getting fed up. Why did she ever volunteer for Sakura-duty?"

"Tenten?" came a voice from behind her. Tenten turned her head to see Kakashi walking towards them. "Are you okay?"

"Yeah," she said, grateful that there was someone to help her. "Sakura's just a little drunk."

"'m not," Sakura said in between puking. Tenten rolled her eyes and looked back at Kakashi.

"Here, let me help you," Kakashi said. Tenten immediately looked relieved, and she bowed her head to Kakashi.

"Thank you so much," she said. "I owe you big time." As she spoke, she felt Sakura go limp, and made sure to lay her down on the pavement away from the vomit. It's a good thing she passed out – it made Kakashi's job easier. "Oh, and don't let Ako or Fushiki see her, if you can help it. She doesn't get drunk all that often, and I'm not sure if they've ever seen her like that."

"You got it," Kakashi said, picking up Sakura's body and throwing her over his shoulder. "Let's go."

When Sakura woke up the next morning, the first thing she realized was that she had a pounding headache. Slowly, memories of last night came back to her, and she groaned. She made an ass of herself. Now she remembered why she hated getting drunk. The second thing she realized was that she felt clean. She looked down and noticed that she was dressed in a bed robe instead of the clothes she had worn out last night. The third thing she noticed was the distinct smell of chocolate-chip pancakes wafting through the house.

She got herself out of bed and got something for her headache from her medicine cabinet. She looked at herself in the mirror briefly and grimaced at what she saw. She quickly ran a brush through her hair before putting on slippers and walking downstairs towards the kitchen.

She was mildly surprised as she passed through the living room to see a blanket and a pillow out on the sofa, the piece of furniture clearly having been slept on overnight. She was confused until she walked into the kitchen to see Kakashi standing in front of the stove, making pancakes.

"Kakashi?" she asked, somewhat confused at the man's presence in her kitchen. "What are you doing here?"

"Oh, sit down," he urged her, looking over his shoulder. "Breakfast is almost ready. Ako already left to get his mission from Lady Hokage, but Fushiki will be joining us." Acknowledging her confused look, he smiled. "I saw Tenten trying to take you home last night, and I offered to help. She was concerned leaving you here alone, so I decided to stay down on the couch to ease her fears."

"Oh," Sakura said dumbly as she moved towards the coffee machine to get some coffee. She needed something to wake her up. "Thanks for this, Kakashi."

"It's not a problem," Kakashi said. "It turns out she had to get back home for Mako, because he left Kiba and Hinata's. Oh, and don't worry about being clean; Tenten was the one who cleaned you up and dressed you in that." Sakura blushed, realizing that she hadn't even thought of that.

"Thank you," she repeated. "I definitely owe you one."

"Anytime," he said with a smile as Fushiki entered the room for breakfast.


The caravan had arrived at Suna late that night. In fact, they were lucky that there was a sentry on lookout to alert the Kazekage that they had arrived. They were an entire day behind schedule due to a detour they had to make. They were met at the gates by Temari, who was helping to oversee the reconstruction.

"Naruto!" Temari exclaimed upon seeing her brother-in-law at the front with his genin team. Naruto walked forward and gave her a hug, squeezing her. After not seeing her for a month, he was very excited to see her again, even if she wasn't his favorite person in the world. It reminded him of home. "I didn't realize you were the one who was escorting the caravan."

"Yep," he said with a grin, stepping back. "Me and my genin team." He swept his arms to indicate the three genin standing behind him, and she looked at them.

The first of the three was obviously Sakura and Sasuke's daughter. She had her pink hair and his black eyes. She even looked like Sakura did at that age. Temari wondered how Naruto was handling being her sensei. The kid standing next to her was quite a shock, however. He didn't remind her of anyone, but it's impossible to not recognize the Rinnegan. She'd never forget how those eyes looked when Madara Uchiha used them to bring a meteor down upon the battlefield in the Fourth Shinobi World War. She would have to ask Naruto how this kid got these eyes.

The third child was even more of a shock. She looked like a tomboy with a bored expression. She sported dirty-blond hair and eyes that looked just like her father's. Even though there was nothing as striking as the other girl's pink hair, it was obvious that this girl was Shikamaru's daughter.

"Temari, I'd like to introduce you to Saki Uchiha," Naruto began, pausing after the first name to let it sink in. "Mino Kano…" he continued with another pause. "…and Shikamira Nara. Guys, this is Temari; she's sister to the Fifth and Sixth Kazekages, and my sister-in-law."

Temari was about to greet the three youngsters when the mini-Sakura decided to speak up in a way that reminded the blond very much of her sensei. "You're married!?" Temari noticed that this was news to all three kids and briefly wondered why he never told them he was married.

"Oh, I never mentioned that, did I?" Naruto asked a little sheepish at the attention to his personal life.

"But that's impossible!" Saki exclaimed, looking to her teammates for back-up. "If you're married then why are you in love with mom?"

"What?" came Sasuke's voice from behind them. Temari looked up to see Sasuke walking towards them, followed by Lee. She was slightly surprised to see them, and wondered who else was with the group. Suddenly, she wondered how awkward this visit would be with Sasuke here. It seems that Sasuke overheard his daughter's outburst and was just as confused as Temari and Naruto were.

"Why would you think I was in love with your mom?" Naruto asked, his confusion more than evident in his tone. Temari wanted to hear this as well, but she was distracted when she saw the other two figures approaching from behind. She barely registered the Hyuga jonin who was there, as her attention was completely focused on her ex. This visit would definitely be more than a little awkward.

"Well, Father has been mad at you ever since you were at our house the night before we left," Saki continued, oblivious to the expressions on all the adults' faces. "Isn't it because he's mad that you want to get with mom?"

Surprisingly, Neji was the first to laugh. Temari wouldn't be far behind had it not been for the awkward glance that she and Shikamaru shared before looking away. Sasuke and Naruto were too mortified to respond, and Lee was unusually quiet.

"I'm not mad at Naruto," Sasuke said in a tone of voice that implied he was very mad at Naruto. None of the kids were believing him, and Temari couldn't blame him. "Don't worry about it."

"Why don't we get you guys inside the village," Temari suggested, trying to resolve the awkward tension in the air. "I'm sure you have a good excuse for being late, Naru."

"Don't I always?" Naruto said with his trademark grin. She led the eight Konoha ninja through the gates and the caravan followed, eventually stopping immediately inside the walls of the village. Temari told them to stay there and rest, because when the sun rose the next morning, villagers would help them unload their cargo.

As for the ninja, they had made accommodations in the Kazekage's mansion, which would barely have enough space to house them all. Luckily, Naruto would share Gaara's room, but the four other adults would probably have to manage with two rooms.

As she let the others settle into their rooms (Lee and Neji shared a room, as did Sasuke and Shikamaru), Temari pulled Naruto aside, and brought him down to the kitchen. She immediately raided the fridge for a midnight (well, more like a 3am) snack.

"What's going on between you and Sasuke?" she asked. Her voice wasn't exactly accusatory, but it was certainly somewhat suspicious.

"Nothing," Naruto denied vehemently. "He's just mad because I'm with Gaara and am not throwing him away to go back to how things were."

"So he wants you back," Temari said, opening a box of pastries and taking one out. "You want one?" she asked, holding up the box. Naruto scrunched his nose. "More for me," she said with a shrug.

"Yeah, he wants me back," Naruto said with a shrug. "But it doesn't really matter. You know how much I love Gaara." He gave a pointed look as she bit into her snack.

"And unlike either of my brothers, I also know how much you loved Sasuke," Temari said with a smirk. "You forget that I was there when you and Sasuke were over the moon."

"I don't like what you're implying," Naruto said angrily.

"I'm kidding, Naruto," she said with a chuckle. "I know you love Gaara."

Instead of continuing the conversation, Naruto decided to go upstairs to his room. He was quiet opening the door, but it was useless – Gaara was already awake. Naruto almost forgot about his husband's frequent insomnia. It mostly went away over the last few years, but it seemed tonight was one of his awake nights.

"It's about time," Gaara said as Naruto walked into the room. Gaara stood up and walked over to him, closing the door as he pulled the blond into his embrace. He leaned over and kissed his husband fiercely, for the first time in over a month. He tasted the blond as if it was his first time doing so, and Naruto quickly let himself lose his thoughts and react.

His tongue moved against Gaara's in a skillfully practiced motion. Gaara groaned into the kiss and bucked his hips into Naruto's. He pulled away momentarily. "You're late," he said before reclaiming the blonde's lips in the kiss once more. They rocked back in forth against the door like two horny teenagers until Naruto pulled away.

He pulled his shirt over his head and looked at Gaara with a foxy grin. "What are you gonna do about it?" he asked evilly. Gaara moved to pull his shirt off, capturing Naruto's mouth once more when the article was successfully removed. They were quite loud as they bucked against each other, and Gaara made sure to pull Naruto's bare chest to his own, reveling in the warmth his husband provided.

Suddenly, Gaara pulled them around and began to move them closer to the bed, never once breaking their kiss. When Naruto felt the back of his knees touch the bed that he and Gaara shared for many years, he slowly lowered himself until he was sitting and Gaara was in his lap. He could feel his husband's erection poking him in the stomach, but he knew he wasn't much better. Gaara was practically sitting on his.

Gaara pulled away once more. "I'm topping this time," he said quickly before leaning down once more. Naruto groaned his affirmation through the kiss, and laid down so that Gaara was on top of him. He grabbed Gaara's sleep pants and his boxers, and with one motion, declothed his husband. Gaara was now entirely naked, lying on top of Naruto's half-naked form.

Gaara sat up once more, revealing his leaking cock to the blond. He leaned forward to unbuckle his husband's pants, and Naruto quickly removed them and his own underwear to reveal his manhood in the same condition as Gaara's. Naruto reached over to the bedside table to pick up the lube that Gaara had left out – he was waiting a while, Naruto assumed.

He immediately scooted himself back so that he was out from underneath Gaara. He squirted some of the liquid onto his fingers and raised his legs to reveal his hole to Gaara. He slowly circled a finger around his entrance, making sure to look at his husband with hungry eyes. Gaara's own green orbs held a similar look. After a few seconds, Naruto stuck his finger in his ass, throwing his head back to give Gaara a show.

The redhead seemed to be frozen still as Naruto stretched himself, preparing himself for his first time bottoming in months. It wasn't something that happened often with Gaara, but he was more than willing to do it any time Gaara asked. Soon, he added a second finger to the mix, stretching himself further.

He pumped the two fingers in and out of his ass quickly, trying to get Gaara to react. When he finally looked up from Naruto's ministrations into the blonde's eyes, Naruto saw the sheer hunger. He began to scissor his fingers so that the preparation would end, and soon plucked his fingers from his ass entirely.

"Turn over," Gaara said, taking the initiative and being quite dominant. It was unusual that Gaara got this dominant, but Naruto didn't complain or argue. He turned over, bending over on his knees so that his ass was in the air. Gaara picked up the lube and put a generous amount on his prick before squirting some into Naruto's newly-loosened hole.

Gaara lined his cock up to Naruto's hole and allowed Naruto a minute before he started to plunge in. Gaara threw his head back and groaned as he slowly entered his husband for the first time in months. Naruto was making similar noises, showing his pleasure. It hurt a little bit after such a long time, but it was such a sweet hurt.

When Gaara was finally all the way inside, he allowed Naruto a few moments before withdrawing and reentering with a slam. Naruto grunted as Gaara pulled out and back in, but the grunts soon became moans as Gaara found his sweet spot. Gaara pumped in and out, in and out, in and out, bringing the blond and himself much pleasure.

"I'm mad," Gaara said in between thrusts. "You were supposed to be here yesterday." Naruto grunted as he felt his husband hit that spot again. He didn't want to make enough noise to keep up those in nearby rooms, but he couldn't help himself.

"I guess…" Naruto began as Gaara pounded his ass, "…you'll just…" another thrust, "…have to…" another, "…punish me."

"That's a good idea," Gaara said as he thrust. He didn't waste any time in bringing down his hand on Naruto's ass. The slap was loud and rough, but not too bad for Naruto to handle. Suddenly, Naruto's cock throbbed and he moved his hand to begin stroking his member. Gaara slapped him again, this time on the other cheek, causing Naruto to moan. On the third slap, placed on the first cheek, Naruto choked out a groan, and on the fourth slap, placed on the second cheek, Naruto came loudly with Gaara's name on his throat.

As Naruto spilled his seed all over the sheets, Gaara felt the anal walls contract and expand around his own member, and knew he was so close. He slammed in once, twice, three times before he came into Naruto's inviting ass. He rode out his orgasm, the sound of his balls slapping on Naruto's ass echoing around the room. "Naruto," he choked as his husband's ass finished milking his cock.

Gaara collapsed on top of Naruto, and the blond soon gave and fell onto the messy sheets. "Wanna clean up?" he asked his husband, who was usually very anal (pun intended) about not sleeping in messy sheets. But this time, his husband grumbled something that sounded like 'don't care,' and pulled his husband to him. Gaara's slowly softening prick was still inside his husband, and that's just how Gaara wanted it.

The next morning, Naruto woke up to find that he felt incredibly sticky. His husband had already left the bed, but he left a note behind, telling him that he'd be waiting in the kitchen. When Naruto looked at the clock, he was unsurprised to see that it was well into the afternoon. He quickly got up, got dressed, and made his way downstairs.

It seemed everybody was eating lunch around that time. Shikamaru was eating with Shikamira, Saki, and Sasuke at the table, while Gaara, Neji, Lee, and Temari made small talk near the counter.

"Hey there, loverboy," Temari said, being the first person to notice Naruto. Suddenly, every gaze turned to Naruto but one. "I hope you slept well after last night." She grinned at him, and Naruto felt mortified as everyone except Sasuke and the children started to snicker or smirk in response.

"Shut up, Temari," Gaara said, crossing the kitchen to Naruto, who embraced his husband and buried his head into his shoulder. "Don't worry, the guest rooms were far enough away that they didn't hear anything…well, except for Sasuke and Shikamaru." Naruto lifted his head to look at Sasuke, who was clearly avoiding his gaze.

"So Naruto-sensei," Saki began from across the room, looking at him with a little confusion. "Where's your wife? We haven't seen anyone since we got here."

"My wife?" Naruto repeated, blinking in confusion. He and Gaara moved apart and both faced the girl. Suddenly, Naruto realized. "Oh, I didn't tell you who I was married to, did I?" He stepped back and swept his hands to indicate Gaara. "May I introduce to you Gaara, the Fifth Kazekage, and my husband."

The room was silent for a moment as the two teenagers took in the information. All the adults, of course, knew about this already, but it didn't stop the situation from being slightly awkward. Especially with Sasuke's reaction. He was trying not to make a scene, especially since Saki was picking up on his behavior towards Naruto, but he couldn't help but react just a little bit.

"You're gay?!" Saki asked, quite shocked at this information. Just hours ago, she would have sworn that her sensei was crushing on her mom, and now he was married to another guy? She was waaaaaaaaay off.

"That's not a problem, is it?" Gaara asked somewhat icily. Naruto put his hand on his husband's shoulder, but Saki answered anyway.

"No!" she exclaimed quickly. "Of course not. Mom always said that being gay was normal." Shikamira nodded in agreement. Naruto smiled at their reactions, but Gaara continued.

"And your father?" he asked, looking instead at Sasuke.

"Gaara!" Naruto admonished, subtly hitting his husband in the back. But Gaara ignored him.

"What does your father think about homosexuality?" the former-Kazekage asked.

Saki was completely confused now. Her mother and father rarely brought up homosexuality – in fact, her mother only spoke about it a few times when Iruka and Kakashi got together, and her father hadn't spoken about it at all, as far as she recalled. Did Gaara know that? She frowned. Could that have something to do with the way Sasuke was mad at Naruto?

Suddenly, she realized, what if her father was a homophobe? She tried to tell herself that he couldn't be – he didn't mind Kakashi or Iruka, after all. Then again, Kakashi was like a father-figure to her father, so he might have overlooked it, sort of like a special case. Maybe he didn't make the same exception for Naruto, and this is what caused their fight. It didn't make complete sense, but it was the best theory she could come up with. She looked over at her father and frowned. He looked very uncomfortable right now, like he didn't want to be anywhere near this conversation.

Luckily she was spared from answering when someone else entered the room. This girl seemed to be a few years older than Saki – maybe a little older than Ako – but the weird thing was that she looked a lot like Shikamira. Their hair was similar, even though Shikamira's was slightly lighter, and their faces had a striking resemblance. In fact, she wasn't the only one looking between Shikamira and the new girl.

"Looks like we have company," the girl said upon seeing the kitchen.

"Shiminama," Temari said suddenly. "These are the guests from Konoha I was telling you about."

"Hello Uncle Naruto," Shiminama said, noticing her uncle for the first time. He moved over to hug her, and as she pulled away, she looked over the rest of the people. She was quite shocked to see that one of the girls looked a lot like her. It was a little unsettling, but she ignored it. "Are these your genin?" she asked, surprised that Naruto already had such a high position after being gone a month.

"Yup," Naruto said with a smile. "This is Saki and Shikamira. My third, Mino, is somewhere else. Guys, this is Shiminama, Temari's daughter." People began to introduce themselves all at once.

"How old are you?" came a loud question from the other side of the room that cut through all the introductions. It seemed that Sasuke was the first to react to seeing a carbon-copy of Shikamira, who also happened to resemble Shikamaru a bit. The question made Temari nervous, as it subtly implied what a few others were thinking.

"What's it to you?" Shiminama asked hostilely. "Trust me, I'm too young for you." The 'ew' that everyone else was thinking was left unsaid as Sasuke rolled his eyes at the smart-ass remark.

"How old?" Shikamaru repeated from his seat next to Sasuke, catching on to what the Uchiha was implying. When neither Shiminama nor Temari replied, Naruto took it upon himself to answer.

"Nineteen," he said.

"Almost twenty," the girl corrected.

Shikamaru sat in the corner in stunned silence. Almost twenty. Add another nine months, and it was almost as if she was conceived back when Temari was in Konoha, when she was…

"Temari," Shikamaru all but growled. "We need to talk." The blond nodded and led her ex out to the living room, away from everyone else. When he was sure they were out of earshot, he finally asked the question. "Is that why you left without telling me?" Shikamaru asked. "Is Shiminama my daughter?"

"Yes," she told him.

Author's Note: Oh no, did I just kill Jiraya? Well, you'll have to wait a week to find out. I hope you all had a Merry Christmas (or Channukah, if you celebrate that). And have a Happy New Year! If I'm doing my math right, then the next chapter will be posted in the New Year! See you in the future!

Also, I just realized that the page breaks I put in the fic aren't showing up all the time? I'll try and get on that in the next week to fix things up. I'll just put the regular FFN page break in there, since the ~~~~ one I use isn't showing up.

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