Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto.

How I Met Your Father

Chapter 1: And it Begins...


This chapter is the set up. Bear with me.


The mist shrouded the trees, it was thicker than normal today, but that wasn't saying much for the Mist Village. We practically drank fifteen gallons of the stuff just by walking around town. Hiding in it was just as easy. Staying quiet was practical but not necessarily essential. Most people, even the most skilled ninja had a hard time seeing through the mist.

I could just make out the insurgent down below. The smoke from his little fire wafted upward and left as the wind blew it in our direction. We were nestled in the trees, as all good ninja are trained to do. I could've killed him forty-five minutes ago.

"I'm taking him."

"Absolutely not!" Ichigo hissed, practically spitting on my face. She pointed firmly at him and thrust that same finger at my chest. "Our mission was to gather intelligence, not kill, gather."

Ichigo glanced to her left, "Right Chojuro?"

Ichigo was a very pretty girl with dark indigo hair and intelligent eyes. But, much like Chojuro, she was high-strung and desperately needed to lighten up a bit.

I raised an eyebrow at Chojuro and his mouth hung open as he quietly glanced from me to Ichigo, his glasses beginning to fog. Oh, how he hated verbal confrontations. "That's right…" he finally got out. "But—"

"This is taking too long," I said stretching, adjusting my red fingerless gloves. "You can stay up here if you want, but bowl cut and I are about to have a little chat—"

"Rinmaru!" Ichigo fiercely whispered. "You go down there and I'm…" she glanced around, her ultimatum completely and utterly…gone. "I'm—I'm ending the friendship!"

I spun on her, eyes wide, "You wouldn't."

"I would." Her brown eyes matched my green eyes tick for tack. "Try me."

I sucked in a deep breath, took one glance at bowl cut and conceded. "Fine."

She nodded triumphantly, throwing one long indigo braid over her shoulder.

"I'll just tell my aunt you tried to blackmail me…I'm sure she'd love that." I shrugged, turning my attention back to the insurgent. He'd just started brewing ramen in a cup. I stuck my tongue out. I hated ramen in a cup. This guy deserved to die. "Especially the part where you said she couldn't even catch a husband with three-hundred and sixty-five arms. But…whatever…"

"Rinmaru!" Ichigo started silently screaming and pointing at me, but I paid her no mind. "I didn't say that!"

"I'm guessing I have your permission now? Chojuro?" I glanced back at our comrade. He was older than the both of us. I was only seventeen to his nineteen. He also happened to be a complete and utter badass, but…he lacked decisiveness and confidence. Being the Mizukage's niece—a fact she seldom mentions—I usually took charge even when I was ill-suited to do so. Perks of the relationship. "What do you think?"

"If you think Lady Mizukage will accept it." He said finally. "Go on."

"Cool." I winked at him and dived off the branch into chaos.

I landed behind the insurgent, flicked off his mask and said, "Boo!" loudly in his right ear.

He jumped up, but as bored as I was, I wasn't one to drag a fight out. I hit him square in the back of the neck and he went down, crashing right into his newly made ramen. If he'd been aware, I was sure he would've put up a good fight but I liked to think that there was one thing that separated the Mist from other villages. We didn't like to play games. Even after my aunt took over, that fact still range true. To salvage what was left of the village, I think that fact needed to be even more true.

I backed up the enemy's things and threw his pack over my shoulder. There was no point in riffling through them. He'd tell us all we needed to know soon enough. I drew my hand signs and raised my palm toward the empty space in front of me. I clamped my left hand over my right wrist and said, "Open!" the space began to shake and water came from every direction forming a spinning, long oval in the air. Chojuro and Ichigo landed to the right and left of bowl cut and hefted him up. The portal was now fully formed, the other side showed us the Mist Village containment center. "Let's go home."

/

"No way!" I said, leaning across the table, fighting back a huge grin. "The Five Kage Summit? That's insane!"

"It's insane that it's come this," Ao said solemnly, his head bowed. "Back in my day, we wouldn't have even dreamed of meeting like this."

"Well, yeah," I waved him off and turned back to face my unperturbed aunt. She just looked like it was a regular Wednesday to her. "But still…all five. Impressive. I'm just surprised that that Tsuchikage climbed out from under that big rock of his."

"As am I. I'm even more impressed that the Leaf are so willing to meet with the Cloud after what it attempted to do to the Hyuga Clan." The Mizukage said, taking a sip of sake. "These are dark days."

I took this as my cue to grow just as silent as everyone else. I paused briefly, watching as the elders shook their heads or sighed in consternation. After a minute or so I spoke up, "What now?"

My aunt looked up at me from beneath her bangs, "We prepare. You'll be accompanying Ao, Chojuro and I."

"Excellent!" I leaned back into my chair, resting my hands behind my head. "Do we have any data on the ninja the other villages are sending?"

"None, only that the Kage are bringing two guards each…. while we are bringing three." Ao said. "Chojuro and I will be her main guard while you will be on standby to move us if something goes wrong."

"In other words…" I surmised, "If war breaks out, we want to be the first to have our ninja ready for battle." Nodding, I gave the group the sly smile they came to expect from me. "I can't wait."

/

Three ninja were ahead of us, and by their dress and the shaking of the one in black, they were from the sand. No other village could have been more ill-prepared. Did the desert even get snow? Have they even seen it?

They seemed to notice our approach and slowed down. Once our little group came to a stop, theirs did too. Aunt Mei stepped forward. Chojuro and Ao flanked her. I was at her back, peeking around the three of them to get a better look at that Kazekage I had heard so much about. Ao stopped me with his hand, I flashed him a sweet smile he knew to be a perfect death threat.

"Hello," came a scratchy voice. It was deep and dry, undoubtedly because it was seldom used. "It's good to meet you, Mizukage."

She stepped forward, and you could see the Kazekage's guards tense up at his sides. "A pleasure, Kazekage." She tilted her head, surveying him, "You are young, aren't you? A shame."

Aunt Mei turned to look at me with a slight smile. "This is Chojuro…Ao. And this, Kazekage, is Lady Rinmaru Terumi Asakura, granddaughter of the feudal Lord in the Land of Water."

"I didn't know spectators were allowed…especially those with such strong chakra." The Kazekage said, but he didn't seem to mind in the slightest. It was that voice of his, it was like he was trying to put himself to sleep. I stepped forward.

"I assure you," Mei started, "She won't even be in the room. I like to keep her close—for protection—you understand. She was visiting us, but I thought it would be irresponsible to leave her in the village without my being there. My enemies could use that vulnerability as a chance to attack."

"Understood." The Kazekage agreed. The group grew quiet and I was instantly bored.

I looked from one face to the other. My eyes jumped over paint-face and the angry blonde, not really caring if they were insulted or not (a trait that ran in the family). Finally, my eyes settled on the little red one between them. My lips twitched, and I closed my eyes trying to keep myself from breaking, but my aunt cut her eyes at me and I immediately collapsed into laughter. "Is this really the Kazekage?" I aimed my next statement right at him, "I really thought you'd be hotter."

The outrage on the blonde's face was matched only by the confusion on the paint faced one. I sighed and decided to play the part of spoiled princess, "Oh, well. Can't win them all." I turned to paint face, "What's your name?"

His looked me over, seeming to come to the conclusion that yes, I was attractive and yes, I was speaking directly to him. Lucky boy.

Paint face looked over at the Kazekage, who also seemed to get over his shock. He nodded. "My name is Kankuro." His voice was scratchy too, but in a different way. A bit more nasal, I think.

"Kankuro," I repeated, testing it out like it was a delicacy, "Can you tell me about the Sand? I've never been."

"Well," he started, scratching his head nervously, trying not to crumble beneath my gaze. "It's practically a desert."

I stared at him a moment before I realized it was a joke. "You're too much!" I giggled, hitting his arm. Behind me, Ao hadn't collected his jaw. The Mizukage, of course, was enjoying the show. "shall we go? I don't want to make you all late."

/

I pegged Kankuro for the strong silent type…but the guy could talk…a lot. By the time we'd reached the destination, I'd stopped trying to get information out of him. I was barely hanging on, forcing myself to laugh at every joke, pretending I needed his help to carry on. I could hear Temari complaining under her breath, but the Kazekage was completely silent—dead silent as if he was in deep concentration. I could tell he was a fun guy. Kill me.

We were greeted at the door and they were lead off to a room. I was pulled aside. "I hope everything works out!" I said cheerily to the group, winking at my own comrades.

Kankuro beamed. Temari shook her head at her brother. What the Kazekage did next stumped me. He'd started forward and then turned around to glance back at me, "Thank you."

"What for?" Flirting with your guard non-stop for ten minutes? Calling you a disappointment?

"Your compliment earlier."

My lips twitched into a frown as I tried to remember. "You're welcome."

I smiled eagerly, ninety-nine percent sure I'd actually insulted him, but I wasn't about to complain. "Be safe, Lord Kazekage."

With a nod, he turned and left. Once out of sight, I broke down into a laugh. What a sad, sad, oblivious panda.