Author's Note: I don't even want to look at how many months its been since I last updated. Nevermind that this is my last year of college. There were other blocks. Like what this chapter should be about. Since we are entering a timeskip because I didn't want to just jump right ahead to Team 7 suddenly being in the same village where Tsunade is. Plot lines ranged from Naruto and Sakura talking to Kakashi and Jiraiya about their timeline in full, to Naruto and Sakura in a bar fight after they find an informat, to Sasuke somehow still being in the Land of Fire a month later (which didn't seem realistic to me). So I settled on this storyline, I hope you will enjoy it. If not, rant at me via review about how that bar fight would have been much cooler to see. Until then, enjoy.


Chapter 7: Memories in Meichong

"Cha!" Sakura shouted as she slammed her one-inch punch into the nearby boulder. The force from her concentrated chakra split the rock clean down the middle, leaving Sakura with a wicked sore hand.

"Damn this body. It didn't used to hurt this much." Sakura cursed, shaking the pain out of her fingers. Her self-conversation was interrupted by the chorus of a dozen Naruto's screaming before exploding into smoke. Sakura didn't have to look behind herself to know that of the one hundred Naruto clones practicing the one handed Rasengan in each hand, another one had exploded and several others were caught in the blast radius. Sakura sighed and reached for one of her homemade Chakra Pills before stopping herself. The medical side of her brain reminding her that she had already used two that day. Any more and she wouldn't be in fighting shape should they be attacked. Try as she and Naruto might, the road to their old strength was a long one, no matter what they did to shorten it.

While the two of them were training in the field, underneath the shade of a nearby tree, Kakashi and Jiraiya were pouring over their worn-out map.

"This isn't good." Kakashi said.

"If I had to pick one gambling town I wouldn't want Princess Tsunade to be in, it would be that one." Jiraiya said grimly.

"She still might not be, we could very well find out that she moved on." Kakashi suggested.

"We can only hope." Jiraiya said before he let loose an ear ringing whistle over the field. "Oy, kids, team meeting!"

Grateful for the break, Sakura dropped her combat stance and Naruto undid all of his remaining Shadow Clones. Before the smoke could even dissipate, the two Academy aged kids had leapt over to their elders and were kneeling like experienced Jounin ready for a briefing. No matter how many times Jiraiya saw it, they never failed to amuse him. Even a month later he still caught himself thinking that they were regular Genin before their body language tricked him into thinking he was teamed up with S-classed Jounin.

"So where to next?" Naruto asked. Jiraiya smoothed out the map and the two Time Travelers could see red ink arrows point out from every village, town, and roadside stall they had stopped to question. Each arrow led to the next spot of civilization on the map until finally converging on one spot where Jiraiya held his finger.

"Meichong. The Village of Vice." Jiraiya said ominously. Naruto and Sakura merely raised their eyebrows in equal confusion.

"Never heard of it." Sakura said.

"Not surprising." Kakashi said. "It is an infamous village officially known for its casinos and strip clubs making it the number one party town in the Eastern Providence of the Land of Fire. What isn't well known is that the town is completely run by the Cola Gang."

"Again, never heard of them." Sakura said.

"Also, Cola Gang. What? Was the Soda Gang taken?" Naruto snickered.

"Laugh at their name for now. Once you have dealt with them you won't be laughing anymore. The Cola Gang is ruthless when they don't get their way. It's part of the reason we allow them to bribe our local garrison. Back when the Uchiha were running our police force, the Cola Gang waged a guerrilla war against squads of Uchiha Jounin and ANBU supporting them. The Third Hokage had to recall the police force back to the Leaf and let the Cola Gang take over Meichong to stop the violence."

That got Naruto and Sakura's attention. Anybody who could disgrace the Uchiha clan was not a group to be trifled with.

"So the plan is that when we get to Meichong, we play things close to the chest. No running off on your own. No starting fights in the street. We pick up whatever information we can get and fly the coop." Jiraiya said.

"You say that as if we haven't been perfectly stealthy ninjas the entire month we've been searching." Sakura pointed out.

"You mean besides that one incident in that fishing village?" Kakashi asked innocently.

"That punk had it coming." Sakura defended.

"Well this time its dead serious. The Cola Gang has eyes everywhere in Meichong. I don't want to take any chances."

"I don't like it. If we came back in time to make the world a better place, why don't we just take these guys out and save everyone the trouble?" Naruto suggested. "All of us together should be more than powerful enough to do it."

"Use your brain, brat. This isn't about us beating them, this is about picking our battles."

"I haven't had to pick my battles since I was 16." Naruto said, making Jiraiya sigh.

"Did he get even dumber in your future?" Jiraiya asked Sakura.

"No, believe it or not, he actually got smarter." Sakura said in a moot tone.

"Hey! Wait, was that an insult?" Naruto wondered to himself.

"Moving on, I'm the only official Sannin on the team and I'm pulling rank. We do this by the ninja scroll, not the samurai manual. Stealthy." Jiraiya declared.

"Fine." Naruto relented. Sakura and Kakashi both gave quick nods.

"Good, let's pack up and hit the road. If we make good time, we should arrive just in time for happy hour." Jiraiya smirked, leaving his three underlings to groan.

In no time at all, they were packed and walking down the dirt road. Just two infamous Leaf ninjas and two unknown Genin chatting away.

"It's so damn frustrating, I've got my right arm within tolerable levels, but my left arm, no matter how much I practice my chakra nodes keep hurting whenever I try any jutsu more powerful than the Rasengan." Naruto vented. His arms held up his head as he and Sakura walked side by side down the road.

"I know what you mean. Whenever I use my chakra enhanced strength, I still feel like I'm punching a rock with my normal strength. It's been a month and I still can't get used to this handicap. It's like I'm drugged."

"Same. I keep waking up expecting to be tall again and it never happens."

Sakura cracked a smile. "True, although, I'm fine with my current height." She said, looking down on her partner.

"Oh you enjoy your three inches for now. Once I hit puberty I will be laughing at you from above." Naruto countered.

"Sure. And I'll be sure to use you to block the wind for me." Sakura smiled.

The two of them laughed like old war buddies, taking jabs at each other. It made the Veteran Jounin Kakashi smile underneath his mask. These two who were to be his future Genin students. They were such spitting images of Obito and Rin, his best friends. It was almost too perfect. They got along so well, yet there was an unspoken distance between them. A wall keeping them always at arm's length apart. And the more he observed them the more he notices subtle glances one gave the other when they were certain the other wasn't looking. It was comical.

Hours later, Team 7 arrived at the outskirts of the city. Right off the bat Naruto and Sakura could tell this was a party city. The sun was setting and the lights were already on. In place of street lamps the streets were illuminated by hangings lanterns with different bright colors for each row. Some red, some orange, yellow, you get the idea. The various shops and stores were painted bright colors as well. Giving the entire place a feel like there was a festival going on that never stopped. In the streets, the people reflected that mood. Men and women huddled together in groups of two or three, serving as each other's drunken kickstand. Men chased after young girls, some willingly and a few that the rest of the team had to restrain Sakura from going after. "This isn't the battle we came here to fight." Jiraiya reasoned with her. Sakura didn't like it, neither did Naruto, but they knew he was right. Instead they tired to focus on other aspects of the crowd. Like the very rampant and open display of drug use. Or the men being beaten up for gambling debts. Yeah, this was Lady Tsunade's kind of town alright.

"We'll split up." Jiraiya declared. "Each of us can gather information in the quarter of the city each and meet back here by midnight. Naruto, you take the gambling district. Kakashi takes the restaurant district. Sakura takes the hotels. And I will handle the red-light district."

"Oh Hell no, Pervy Sage. I'm not letting you waste all your time sleeping with hookers." Naruto snapped.

"What? You said I used to do this all the time when I trained you."

"Yeah, and I'm not gonna let it happen again." Naruto said. "We'll go in teams of two. I'll keep an eye on Pervy Sage. Sakura, you and Kakashi-sensei stick together as well."

"Sounds good." Sakura nodded.

"Fine, just don't cramp my style." Jiraiya said as he led the two of them down the street, leaving Sakura alone with Kakashi.

"So…" Kakashi said.

"So?" Sakura replied.

"How long have you been pining after Naruto?" He asked, making Sakura trip on the flat dirt road.

"What a clumsy girl." One bar fly commented from his alleyway.

"I am not! Naruto isn't!" Sakura sputtered.

"Come on, Sakura. I think I deserve a little more credit than that." Kakashi said.

"How did you know?"

"You made it fairly obvious with all your stolen glances at the boy over the course of the month we've been traveling together. Especially whenever he bends down or takes his shirt off." Kakashi said, making Sakura's cheeks imitate her shirts.

"And you haven't told him?" She asked, dreading the very worst.

"Its not my place. However, I am curious. Word through the grave vine is that the Naruto from my timeline had a massive crush on you. Or so Iruka observed."

"That's all in the past, I'm afraid. My Naruto has been dating Hinata for years, right after the 5th War started in fact." Sakura sulked.

"But you want to date him now. How did that happen?"

"Well…" Sakura said as her thoughts drifted back.

It was a month after the first attacks. The mysterious force of ninjas who had been attacking border villages simultaneously had been identified as an army of united second tier ninja villages. The Chunin team sent to investigate had also made one other crucial discovery; the leader.

Unfortunately, fate dictated that the team had to be Team 7.

It was a nostalgic scene for this formation of Team 7. Naruto and Sakura decked out in their Chunin and Jounin ninja vests respectively, standing in the center of the team while Captain Yamato stood on Sakura's right and Sai stood at Naruto's left. All four of them stood around the bonfire that used to be a peaceful little farming village located a day's walk from the Land of Fire border. Houses and huts were set ablaze by the invading ninja army. The locals had all fled into the mountains after Team 7 managed to warn them. Shikamaru's hunch was right and they managed to pick the next tiny village to be attacked. They had met the army in battle, thanks in no small part to Naruto, and managed to goad the enemy leader into coming to face them himself. Imagine their surprise to see their old teammate and recently reformed friend appearing atop the roof of the main village hut. His glowing red eye and light purple eye piercing the smoke and ash. His own four-man team standing beside him, looking down upon the dumbstruck faces of the last two people to defend him.

"Sasuke…" Naruto said, his fist tightening and his breath hangered.

"Dobe." Sasuke replied casually, as if he hadn't turned over a new leaf after their battle with Kaguya. "This reunion is much sooner than I had planned, but I can't have you spoiling my army's reputation this early in its grand debut. So, I guess we'll have to do this now." He said as he gripped his sword handle with his newly attached left arm.

Sakura was speechless. This was so wrong. It shouldn't be happening. Sasuke had changed. Naruto had said so. Sakura had seen it in his eyes. His heart wasn't poisoned with hatred anymore. He was on a journey for redemption and everything. Why was he here? Why was he admitting to leading this ragtag bunch of murderers? Didn't he understand how bad this looked? Why was he egging on Naruto?

"Why?" Sakura asked. Sasuke's eyes turned to her. Those same hate filled eyes that she saw back before Sasuke had turned good.

"I saw that the little guy needed a hero too, and they couldn't look up to you, Naruto." Sasuke said, not even looking at Sakura's direction.

"What's that supposed to mean?" Naruto demanded as Sakura began to boil.

"That in your quest for peace, you overlooked the little guy. As all great men tend to due. True peace cannot exist with such unbalanced powers. Only by wiping the slate clean can true peace be possible."

"That's nonsense and you know it!" Naruto exclaimed as Sakura continued to boil.

"Yes, yes, its love, unity, and honesty that keeps the peace among the world. Grow up, Naruto. You may have tricked me into believing in your methods, but my eyes are open now."

"Tricked you?" Naruto snarled as Sai and Yamato bent their knees. Juugo and Suigetus also prepared themselves for a fight. Sakura couldn't believe what she was hearing. Her thoughts turned to all the good memories with Sasuke. His small smiles, the times he saved her, his compliment of her forehead, the time he poked her forehead, all the times he left her, the times she saw Naruto lying injured in bed after fighting Sasuke, and now this. Her blood boiled. After everything she and Naruto had been though, all their friends had been through. All the pain and all the forgiveness. Yet it still wasn't enough. Sakura sent chakra bursting through her legs, shooting her at Sasuke like a cannon ball.

"Why, why, WHY!? WHY IS IT ALWAYS, ALWAYS YOU!" She screamed with her fist cocked back like a loaded artillery cannon. Sasuke didn't even flinch as he raised up his Susanoo to block Sakura's punch, but he did when that same punch pushed him back two feet. Through the veil of purple chakra, Sakura met Sasuke's eyes. The look on Sakura's face was one of such rage and betrayal you would think that she was born the reincarnation of the Kyuubi. Tears rolled down her cheek as Sasuke looked at her the same way he would look at a rather annoying door that refused to open and let him proceed on his path. Sakura was so caught up in trying to spot a reaction in Sasuke's eyes that she failed to notice when the red haired Kunoichi launched her chakra chains at the pink medic. The next thing Sakura knew, she was grabbed from behind and twirled around. She gasped and took in the scent of ramen and trees, letting her know that Naruto had tackled her in midair, knocking her out of the way of the chakra chains. A quick glance assured Sakura that Naruto was also unharmed. As he finished rolling Sakura out of the way, he had come out of the twirl slashing with his Rasenshuriken, slicing the chakra chains in two. He then kicked off of Sasuke's Susanoo right as the big guy, Juugo, fired his chakra cannons at the spot where Naruto and Sakura once were.

Upon landing back where they once stood, Naruto increased the size of his Rasenshuriken and held it in front of the both of them like a shield. Just in time for more chakra cannon balls to exploded off of them and for Sasuke to set Naruto's jutsu on fire using the black flames of Amaterasu. By then, Yamato and Sai had already sprung into action. Sai summoning his ink bird to take to the skies while Captain Yamato made a wooden cocoon to defend himself and sent several other wooden pillars to attack Team Taka.

"Sakura-chan!" Naruto shouted to get her attention as the battle broke out. But Sakura wouldn't respond. Her mind was racing.

"Sakura-chan!" Naruto repeated as he slapped her back, successfully grabbing her attention. "I need you with me!" Sakura's eyes immediately met his. "We need our medic ready to fight!" He said, snapping her out of her stupor.

"Die!" Suigetsu shouted as he appeared behind their Rasenshuriken cover, brandishing Zabuza's blade up high. He brought it down intending to cleave them both in two. Instead he found his attack halted by Sakura pinching it between her fingers. The metal cracked under the strain.

"Alright, I'm with you!" Sakura shouted before yanking the blade out of Seigetsu's arms and punching him into a spray of water. She and Naruto then charged at Sasuke and Karin while Sai and Yamato attacked a Curse Seal Transformed Juugo.

The battle was long and arduous, but ended once Team 7's reinforcements arrived en masse. Sasuke and his fellows were forced to flee without either side inflicting major damage to the other team.

As Sai and Yamato went to give their report on the battle, Naruto and Sakura sat alone together as they discussed who amongst them needed to be healed first.

After some arguing, Naruto agreed to kneel quietly while Sakura got to work healing him with her Mystic Palm Technique. He had received the most injuries, but still insisted on Sakura healing herself before him. For several minutes, neither one of them said a word. They both just silently looked upon the spot where they last saw Sasuke before he vanished once again. Neither one of knew what to say. All their hard work from a year ago had been for naught. Sasuke still chose to walk the evil path and wanted to destroy the ninja system, their way of life, the one they both sought to build upon to create a better world.

Sakura had just finished healing the lightning chakra burns on Naruto's back when he spoke up. "Sakura-chan…" He said, his voice tried but determined. Sakura looked up from her work to listen to him properly. "No matter what, I will still bring Sasuke back to us. Promise of a—"

"Don't." Sakura cut him off, his words feeling like a blade tugging at her heartstrings. She couldn't stand the thought of Naruto repeating that stupid promise made to a weak and needy fangirl ever again. She wouldn't have it. Not when Naruto was the man he was, the man who would become Hokage and lead this world to peace. It wasn't even what Sakura believed, its what she knew, as sure as the sun would rise in the morning.

"But Sakura-chan."

"No, Naruto, please listen. If we can both save Sasuke again, that's great, but I want you to promise me something. A new Promise of a Lifetime that supersedes all others." Sakura exclaimed.

Sakura could tell that Naruto wanted to argue, but one look in her eyes quelled him. "Alright, what is this new promise?"

"I want you to promise me that if it comes down either Sasuke or yourself, I want you to choose yourself."

"Sakura—"

"You are the next Hokage, Naruto. Its not fair to anyone if you throw your life away trying to save someone who keeps tearing down everything we've built." Sakura pleaded.

"But Sakura, what about you? You love Sasuke. Don't you want him back?"

Sakura gulped. "I want you to come back more." Another silence passed between them. Part of Sakura wanted to know what Naruto was thinking, but the other part of her was surprised at how easily it was for her to say those words; I want you to come back more. It was the truth, sure, but when did it become so easily for Sakura to say? And why did she care right now?

"Okay, Sakura-chan. I promise." Naruto said, his words relieving the burden from her shoulders.

"Hmmm…" Kakashi said.

"After that incident, the 5th Shinobi World War began." Sakura continued. "The Five Great Nations and the Samurai were slow to respond. They thought Sasuke had merely gathered together a rag tag band of mercenaries not worth worrying about. All it took was the four of us to drive them back, so they sent us and a few other four-man teams to handle any sightings of the army. For months we didn't see Sasuke or his teammate's again, and the number of attacks only increased. Things got so bad that we had to split Team 7 in two. Sai and Yamato heading to defend one village while me and Naruto went to save another." Sakura blushed at those memories. "We spent so much time together then. Just the two of us. Rushing from one remote part of the Land of Fire to another. Sleeping outdoors most nights and, when we could, sharing motel rooms to save money. I got to see so many more sides of Naruto. Watching him save civilians almost on a daily basis. Him fighting all those ninjas. Always having my back. It became so common place I started thinking, what if we could keep doing this forever?"

"Sounds like the perfect life for two ninjas in love."

Sakura smiled. "I thought so. Apparently, Naruto didn't."

"What do you mean?" Kakashi asked, now more invested than he was with Jiraiya's Make-Out series.

"By the time the other nations finally took the threat seriously, Naruto and I had been traveling together for months. I was actually hoping by the time we got back that he would ask me out on a date." Sakura smiled bitterly. "We returned home safe and sound. He went to his apartment, I went to my parents, and the next morning I had to report to the hospital for the day. By the time I ran into him again… Hinata had corned him and asked him out… And he said…"

"Yes. I said yes." Naruto said as he rubbed the back of his head. Sakura just froze in place. They stood together at Ichiraku's Ramen stand. Teuchi and Ayame had retired to the back, leaving the two of them seated in front of their cooling ramen. Naruto with his fifth helping of miso ramen with extra pork and Sakura with her low sodium vegetable ramen. "I couldn't believe it. I mean, THE Hinata Hyuga asked me out."

"That is surprising." Sakura's mouth spoke.

"I know. I mean she is the heiress to the Hyuga's, ya know? Turns out she has had feelings for me for years. Who could have seen that coming?"

"Well she did say she loved you back when she saved you from Pain." Sakura said listlessly.

"Yeah, but I didn't think she was serious. I mean I did, but I guess there was just so much going on back then after Pain that I forgot about it." Naruto said before he stirred his ramen. "Kinda makes me sound like a jerk." He said with a joking smile.

"Yes, it does." Sakura said as she took a big slurp of noodles, making Naruto deadpan.

"Sakura…" He whined. But she wouldn't hear him over her noodles.

"So, you've got a date set with her?"

"Yeah. This Friday. I figure we'd go see a movie, get a meal afterwards. Something original like that."

"Hmmm…" Sakura said as she thought about all the movie she wanted to see once she and Naruto had gotten back. As friends of course.

"Is that okay with you?"

"Huh? Sakura asked, not sure if she had heard that right.

"I said, is that okay with you. Me and Hinata going out?"

"Why—why wouldn't it be?"

"Well you're my teammate. And my friend. My best friend. I just thought… Because its you. I'd check in. To let you know." Naruto said with great care not to upset her.

Sakura thought about it for a good long while. Why should she care? Its not like she and Naruto were dating at this point. She hadn't called dibs. Naruto was his own person. And he had rejected her already in the Land of Iron. She should be happy for Naruto and Hinata both. Now Hinata would get to date Naruto like she always wanted. It wasn't like she had spent months on end traveling alone with Naruto. Fighting side by side with him. She hadn't held his heart in her hand. Or watched him sleep. Or watch him save those orphans because he's so bloody perfect. He wasn't hers. He couldn't be.

"Sakura-chan?" Naruto asked, snapping her back to reality with that endearing nickname he had for her. That "chan" honorific that he didn't use on anyone else. Sakura's eyes met his and her mouth acted independently.

"Of course, its fine, idiot. I think its great that you are finally giving Hinata a chance. Sage knows she has been after you forever." She said with a smile that did not match her eyes.

"Are you sure? Cause I didn't want it to cut into our team's training time or—"

"I said its fine, Naruto. We'll work around it. You just have a great time." Sakura said as she returned her full attention to her ramen.

"Thanks, Sakura-chan. You're the best." Naruto said.

"Hmmm…" Kakashi said. "Were you just remembering something? You spaced out for quite a while."

"So what do you think I should do? Just forget about Naruto and move on with my life, right?" Sakura sighed.

"Oh I don't know. I'm no expert on love." Kakashi said as he patted his little orange book against his thigh. "But I do like to think I am good at noticing subtle cues."

"Where are you going with this?" Sakura asked.

"I just find it curious that for the entire month that the four of us have been traveling together, not once has Naruto ever brought up having agirlfriend." Kakashi said as he turned to head down the street. "If that were a plot point in one of Lord Jiraiya's books, I would pay close attention to it." He said, leaving Sakura a moment to contemplate that idea in silence.


"Oh God, please stop!" A man screamed at Boss Kuzukawa, his cries echoing in the underground basement where the two of them plus two of Kuzukawa's bodyguards watched as a group of Cola thugs beat an unconscious woman. Kuzukawa leaned back into the fold out chair provided for him while his bodyguards held the crying man down on his knees, preventing him from flinging himself over the woman's battered body to shield her from any more abuse.

Kuzukawa sighed. This was the least enjoyable part of his job. Micromanaging. God bless his boys, they had passion, but no imagination. "This could all be over if you just paid me your fee, Takiyama. Your wife didn't have to get her pretty face kicked in."

"I swear to you I'll have the money tomorrow! My shop got robbed! I swear!" Takiyama begged.

"I told you to buy a safe after the last time this happened. Remember? When I was lenient on you? But no, you had to spend it on booze, and now your poor wife is paying for your mistakes. What kind of husband are you?"

"Please, I'll do anything! I'll pay you double, no, triple next time!"

"Oh anything, like I've never heard that promise before." Kuzukawa rolled his eyes as Takiyama's wife coughed up blood.

"Please, oh God what do you want?" The shop owner sobbed.

"I want you to remember this evening, Mister Takiyama. Remember it the next time you think I'll be lenient a second time. And have my payment ready to go on the 4th of every month." Kuzukawa stated as he sat up. He could only take so much torture for one evening. He clapped his hands and the thugs all ceased beating on the half dead woman at once. He then snapped his fingers at one of the thugs. "You, take Mister Takiyama and his wife home. Then send the Doctor to keep her from dying. I don't want this one turning into a vigilante for revenge."

The thugs all nodded. One picked up the unconscious woman while another went to fetch the Doctor. The bodyguards took it as their cue to release the shop owner, who scrambled over to his wife to nestle her bleeding head.

"Next month, Takiyama. I expect all the money you owe me." Kuzukawa said before heading over to the elevator where his assistant was waiting for him.

"Tao? Don't tell me I missed that many calls?" Kuzukawa dreaded. Who knew running a city-wide brothel/gambling empire could entail so much busy work.

"Thankfully, no. Only five. All of them good news. With one invite to a wedding. Some business associate with a daughter. Do you wish to attend?" Tao said as he adjusted his glasses and double checked his all-important clipboard. Kuzukawa passed right by him and hit the third-floor button the elevator. Tao hopped in right as the doors were closing and the lift took them both up.

"Do I know this business associate by first name?"

"You wouldn't."

"Then send a card. A top shelf one. Maybe with one of those 3D paper flowers on the front." Kuzukawa said, holding up his hands to imagine the card.

"It will be done." Tao said as he made a quick note. "Now for why I came down to meet you. I wanted to give you an update on the two new girls." He said with only slight disgust.

"Ah, how are they both doing? Still feisty with the customers?"

"The older one is. Her younger companion has accepted her fate and taken on a submissive attitude. The other one continues to be… problematic."

"Didn't she nearly bite that one customer's dick off?"

"Yes, sir."

"Send her to the BDSM floor. Most pervs would pay top dollar to break in a girl who would resist them. That should solve our unsatisfied customer problem."

"Very good sir. I always wanted to pass on a report from the Leaf Ninja Garrison. Two infamous Leaf ninjas with two children came into the village on an unscheduled visit." Tao said as he pulled out three single page reports he had been faxed.

"What?" Kuzukawa snapped. "These ninjas on a family vacation or something?"

"No, sir. The two shinobi were both male. One of them was identified as one of the Sannin, Lord Jiraiya. The other was Jounin Kakashi Hatake, also known as Kakashi of the Sharingan."

Kuzukawa punched the emergency stop button. "Two of the most powerful Shinobi in the known world enter my city and you tell me about them AFTER the wedding invitation from nobody!?"

"Do not worry, sir. I already ordered the Garrison Captain to ascertain the reason for their visit. By the time we return to your office they should have an update for us." Tao said before adjusting his glasses.

The mob boss growled. "Grrr, next time tell me before giving out orders on your own. You are not the boss here, Tao. I am."

"Of course, sir. I meant no disrespect."

"No, you just proved your idiocy. I have Lady Tsunade, the Slug Sannin, in my employ! What else could the TOAD SANNIN be doing here other than trying to find her and free her?"

Tao stepped back with his clipboard raised. "I'm sorry, sir. I should have made the connection."

"You should have remembered your place!" Kuzukawa snapped. "What of the children they were with? They didn't bring Genin with them, did they?"

"It appears so." Tao said as he showed his boss the final profile report of a blond spiky haired kid with whisker marks on his cheeks and deep blue eyes. "While neither one of the children had headbands visible on them, one of them was identified as Naruto Uzumaki. An academy student in his final year, yet he already has a place in the Leaf Shinobi's official Bingo Book."

"Who the Hell is this brat to get his own Bingo Book page?" Kuzukawa asked as he quickly read over the report. Born October 10th, parents unknown, Kekkai Genkai none, 4 feet tall, average grades in school, etc.

"I don't know sir. But there is a standing order attached to his profile that if he should be found outside of the Leaf Village to return him to the Hokage at once."

"What is he, a dog?" Kuzukawa joked. Tao, as always, didn't laugh. "Whatever. He's valuable to the Hokage. That's something to keep in mind. And what about the other brat?"

"No idea, sir. She wasn't in the Leaf's Bingo Book. She had long pink hair and wore a red ninja dress with black leggings. She must be important though to be in such company."

"We'll see. Spread the word through the ranks. Everyone is to stay squeaky clean tonight. With any luck those Garrison ninjas won't tip off the Sannin and they will just leave on their own." Kuzukawa ordered. "And send Tsunade to the basement ASAP. We can't risk her being spotted accidently."

"Yes, sir." Tao bowed as Kuzukawa pressed the restart button on the elevator. Allowing the two men to stand together in silence for the rest of the ride up.


Author's Note: Yeah. I was about to work on this chapter even more. Add in this fight scene, then some sneaking into a place, a little deception. But then I noticed that this chapter was already 12 pages long. Similar to last chapter. So I decided to throw my patient followers a bone and submit this. Its always tricky juggling how long you want a chapter to go. But I didn't want to end it with Kakashi's talk with Sakura. That felt too short and I had spent too much time trying to connect it to the beginning of the chapter. Whatever, I am two weeks from graduating and I'm nervous.

So tell me what you liked about this chapter. What sucked, what was cliché, and what made you nod in approval. I live off of critiques that boost my ego. Better than any cup of coffee in the morning.

Also, tell me what you think of Kuzukawa. Is he oozing cliché? How can I make him a better villain? Does it even matter?

Thank you to everyone who has favorited and followed me and my story since my last update. And special thanks to everyone who reviewed.