Disclaimer : I do not own Naruto.

( Konban wa-Good evening, Demo-but, Arigatou-Thank-you)

The Hush of Mist above Crimson

Chapter One


It was another gorgeous day in the village of Konoha and everything seemed to be running normally. They've received numerous requests from other villages that day; like help with construction in Sunagakure and escorting some government officials to the land of grass.

One request however, seemed more urgent than the others...

A tall woman in a midnight cashmere cloak walked briskly up to one of the wooden booths.

"Hello there, how may Konoha assist you today?"

A young lady with hazel eyes and long brown hair that went to the center of her back asked warmly across the counter. The woman in cashmere had her cloak draped over half her face, making it so all she revealed were her troubled black eyes.

The woman waited patiently for the other's response, assuming from her cloak she was from sand. The masked lady put a small note on the counter and pushed it forwards to the other woman.

Brown eyes questioned her, but she just met the working woman's with expectancy. The girl reached out and slowly slid the note the rest of the was towards her.

Opening it cautiously she cast another strange glance at the woman, now more curious about the request. She read the note silently and the cloaked woman watched her eyes widen in disbelief.

She looked up apologetically to the one in black.

"I'm sorry mam' but Konoha doesn't have the right to-"

"Please," the woman sounded desperate, "we are in great need of your assistance." She motioned behind her to four other cloaked villager's who stood against the back wall.

"Demo-" The brown haired lady looked around before continuing in a quieter tone. "Demo, if your own people can't interrogate the Mizukage, what makes you think Konoha has that right? Or any village for that matter?"

The other woman stepped closer to the counter, resting a pale hand against it.

"At least have someone investigate the death of our previous Mizukage." Her eyes were pleading. "Mist will perish if someone does not intervene."

The lady across the counter sighed and shook her head a bit confused. Brown locks bouncing as she did.

"Alright, I'll take this up with Konoha's Hokage. It's her decision, not my own."

You could faintly notice the tired onyx eyes of the other woman soften.

"Thank-you." She whispered sincerely.

The lady smiled business-like before continuing. "Now, let's discuss payment."

"It is none of Konoha's concern what happens in the land if Mist, a leader does what he sees fit!" Tsunade laced her fingers together, resting her elbows comfortably on the desk before continuing. "How do you know he doesn't have some kind of strategy?" She threw out the idea in need of a good reason.

"Hokage-sama,we need to do something. These people are sacrificing their life savings just to have us investigate a little." The browned haired woman stressed her point.

Tsunade paused a bit to think it over... Impossible.

"Masayo..." She pleaded with her. The girls expression didn't waver and her eyes stayed austere.

The Hokage's face hardened. "Do they really feel that strongly that their Mizukage eliminated the fifth?"

Leaning back in her chair while keeping her hands on the desk, she watched Masayo nod.

After another moment of deep thought, Godaime spoke.

"Fine then. Sending some Jounin to investigate there for a while wouldn't hurt. You said they have a suspect, right. That's not the Mizukage?"

Masayo smiled. "Yes. Thank-you Hokage-sama. I will notify them of your agreement at once."

Tsunade quickly dipped her head as a jest of dismissal.

Masayo turned to leave but was stopped by Tsunade calling her name.

"I would like you to notify Kakashi that I need to speak with him as soon as possible." She allowed herself a small smile. "And tell Shizune to hurry back with my coffee."

"Sure thing." Masayo bowed before exiting by the large wooden double doors. The sound of them closing echoed off the walls making the room seem even more empty.

Tsunade closed her eyes and bowed her head, tired. Strands of blond hair fell loosely in front of her face. She sighed deeply before sitting up again. Grabbing a pen, she slid the A-rank assignment slip board towards her and wrote down these words:

Jounin investigation on the death of

Azamaki Komotaro-

The fifth Mizukage of Kiri no Kuni.

Kakashi walked casually towards Tsunade's office. If he was curious at all why he was being called in to speak with her at this hour, it didn't show. He stepped up to the large wooden doors- the entrance to Tsunade's room- and poised his hand above the door to knock.

He stopped.

"Just come in Kakashi."

Tsunade's voice was dulled by the thickness of the wood. The sound of traditional ninja sandals against hardwood floor parroted off the walls of the spacious room. Kakashi stopped in front of her desk and bowed before routinely placing his hands in his pockets.

Tsunade smiled, moving her chair closer to her desk.

"Thank-you for coming Kakashi. Now, since this mission appears to be so urgent, I have great confidence that your team will be able to get the job done."


"I'll get straight to the point. We've had a serious request about the investigation of lord Azamaki's death just recently in the land of Mist and fog, and have received information on a possible suspect." She held out of piece of paper and he wasted no time in taking the sheet to look it over.

"I need you to find this man, and bring him back to Konoha for questioning-alive. Make sure you stress the importance of that to your group."

He nodded and put the paper down. 'Wait, thats twice now. Group? She couldn't mean...'

Tsunade grew surprised at his silence. "Questions?" She asked, breaking off from her unusual serious tone.

"Actually," Kakashi looked from the paper on her desk to meet her eyes. "Isn't Azamaki the fifth?"

The Hokage took a small breath. "Yes." She stopped for a moment. "He was killed last night."

Kakashi looked back to the paper, still remaining as composed as before. "I'm sorry to hear that." His voice was sympathetic. "You knew him well?" He added casually.

"Not really." Tsunade admitted. "But from what I witnessed he seemed like a very kind young man. He just became Mizukage recently though, after the death of his father so it's kind of difficult to tell what he's like."

Kakashi smiled under his mask, glancing up again. "One more question."

Tsunade nodded for him to continue.

"Is it really necessary for all four of us to go on this mission? Naruto and Sasuke are both Jounins now and do almost all their missions alone. Sakura's only a chunnin and you classified this assignment as an A rank." He sighed, motioning to the paper. "I'm just afraid all of us together might be a waste. I also believe we need shinobi for other assignments as well."

Kakashi stood tall now, around four years after Sasuke's return but a whole seven years since all three were Genins, he was nearing his 34th birthday. He had done nothing but get stronger over the years and his services to Konoha were essential.

The corner's of Tsunade's lips turned up slightly at the mention of Sakura, Naruto and Sasuke- all so successful now. Kakashi must be so proud to have been the master of two of Konoha's most elite ninja and one of Leaf's most successful medics- personally trained by her of course.

"You're right." She finally agreed. "I would prefer if you were the one to stay in Konoha though. Don't worry about Sakura, it's only a little investigation and if things get bad she's always got the other two. Plus...we shouldn't underestimate her."

"That's fine with me, I'm sure those three can handle it."

Tsunade sighed in relief. "Good then, I'll leave it to you to explain the mission to the other members of your party."

Kakashi slid the note towards him so he could look over it once more before picking it up. He glanced back expectantly to Tsunade, awaiting dismissal. He attempted to read her grave expression.

The reason she was taking so long was because she was inwardly debating whether or not she should mention that the new Hokage of Mist- Yukio Komotaro- the elder brother of Azamaki, was also a major suspect.

After a couple of seconds she could sense Kakashi becoming worried so she brushed it off as futile information. It's not like she was expecting them to sneak around in Yukio's business. He couldn't have killed his brother anyway, Azamaki was a skilled ninja. But Hokage's have betrayed country's before...

"Thank-you for your time Kakashi. You are dismissed." She said before her thoughts could complicate her further.

He waited a moment before bowing. "I will have them leave for Mist tomorrow." Kakashi informed her before turning to walk away.

"Arigatou Hokage-sama." He said on his way out.

"Hmm." Tsunade nodded in response. Kakashi put a hand in his pocket again and continued walking calmly out the door, then down the hallway and out into the warm evening sun. He was heading in the direction of Chihiro's forest. Kakashi was sure he would come across at least two of the three he was searching for there.

Sasuke quickly summoned chakra to his feet, jumping back to narrowly miss the glistening kunai knife that shot down dangerously from above. The weapon dug into the soil in front of him, sending stray pieces of dirt flying into the crisp fall air.

Seconds later another dagger came stabbing at his right side. Sasuke's stern face showed his concentration. He Swiftly dodged the attack by backing up into a tree, then, the Uchiha grinned then ducked, just before a rapidly spinning shiruken star dug itself into the rough bark where his head had been moments ago.

Naruto, bored, hopped down from one of the tree's in front of Sasuke.

Sasuke stood, eyeing Naruto curiously. "Giving up already?"

"I guess so." Naruto dumbly scratched the back of his head. "We've been training for almost three hours now and I'm starting to get kind of hungry."

"Fine." Sasuke looked around the forest. "But before we leave, where is-"

Two rocks came flying out of a tall tree, leaves taking on a bright orange at the tips. Both stones were aimed at Sasuke and Naruto. Naruto smiled knowing the source as he ducked along with Sasuke. Both the rocks soared past the boys to tumble at two sandal covered feet. Sasuke and Naruto rose quickly to face the newcomer.

"Sakura! You can come out now, we're finished!" Naruto yelled back to the tree where the stones came from. A young lady with mid-back unusual pink hair jumped down from a tree behind them. She bent he knees when she landed, placing one hand on the ground to steady herself before standing up.

"Konban wa, Kakashi-sensei." Sakura greeted Kakashi with one of her genuine smiles.

Sasuke nodded. "Konban wa."

"Hey master Kakashi. "Naruto added his hello.


Naruto twirled a kunai on his finger while Sakura leaned up against the same tree Sasuke sat at the base of. She tossed it in the air to catch it again with one hand while she waited for Kakashi to explain the reason for the visit. He wasn't expecting Sakura to be here with them as well.

Kakashi paused for a moment to make sure they were all listening. "Tsunade-sama has a job for you. " He started.

"Tell us something we don't know. Everyone gets missions." Naruto sounded annoyed. Even after all those years his childish personality still seemed to be stuck with him.

"Be quiet Naruto, let him finish." Sakura scolded him lightly. She knew deep down inside his behavior was never just some adolescent phase.

Sasuke stood in silence.

"This is serious, Tsunade wants all three of you to go."

This got their attention.

"Why all three of us?" Sasuke couldn't help but disagree. "I can't think of any task that should require more than two Jounin. Unless its an S-rank..." He trailed off.

"And she asked me to go as well? Are you sure?" Sakura piped up.

"Hai, if things get rough they need a medic there." He responded.

Sakura furrowed her brow. "Is it an assassination?"

"No." Said Kakashi curtly. "It's more of an investigation. The fifth Mizukage in the land hidden in Mist and fog was killed last night. Some villagers asked Konoha to disclose the cause of death."

They thought this over. Just the very idea of someone powerful enough to kill one of the five Kage disturbed Sakura but...she was a chunnin now so she assured herself she could handle it if the other two were there.

Sasuke seemed more interested about the mission now that the possibility of ever confronting this guy came up.

"I still don't see why they need three of us." Naruto said quietly.

Kakashi turned his attention solely on Naruto. "Those villager's also left a warning note to us, saying to bring no less than two Jounin."

Kakashi's words startled Sakura. "It can't possibly be that bad." She said out loud, needing to bring some type of comfort to herself.

"Well," Their sensei straightened. "the investigation isn't the only part. Tsunade needs you to bring back somebody for questioning. A possible suspect might be harder to deal with than you'd think." Sasuke flinched at the slight tease in Kakashi's voice when he finished.

He pulled out a folded paper from his pocket and handed it to Sasuke who opened it carefully.

"Ichimaru Aro." Sasuke read the name off the paper.

Sakura and Naruto stepped closer to him to read it as well. Everything Kakashi had mentioned so far was there.

The air was becoming colder and colder as the sun fell further into the west. Abandoned leaves, serenely blew past them, unwillingly persuading the wind.

"Look closely at the picture. You leave tomorrow."

They looked up in unison.

"Demo...we still need to plan." Came Sakura's worried voice.

"Don't worry about that. You can stay tomorrow night in the village of pearl, one of the surrounding islands of Mist. You guys should leave at dawn if you ever hope to make it back by your four day limit."

"Limit?" Sasuke repeated.

"Yes limit. You and Naruto almost just became Jounins so it's for safety issues. If your not back in time, me and some others will come after you, understand?"

'Not that recent...'

"Hai..." They all said in clear reluctance.

"Good, well then you can keep that paper on Ichimaru and I hope to see you three four days from now." Kakashi smiled happily at them, relishing in one of his 'I'm so proud of them' moments. He about-faced starting to walk away, waving behind him.

Sasuke, Sakura and Naruto glanced up from the paper when he stopped walking and turned only his head around a bit to look at them. "And keep in mind that she wants this man back alive." Kakashi put an emphasis on the last word.

Sasuke nodded, noticing the comment was more directed at him than the other two. He didn't take offense to it either, realizing that as a Jounin, assassinations were his strong point. Not that he ever succeeded in killing his brother.

Not yet.

"Not a problem." Naruto grinned at Kakashi.

"Sure thing." Said Sakura, waving good-bye. Kakashi nodded back to them one last time before vanishing into the forest.

"Phew..." Sakura slumped down the tree that she was leaning against, it finally hitting her how exhausted she was by the days events. Naruto yawned.

The orange glow light of the sunset poured over the wood, drenching it's leaves with the evening glow. The wind picked up, blowing past Sasuke. It flapped the sheet in his hand.

"Alright, " He started, folding the paper up and turning to look at Sakura and Naruto. He tried not to notice how the cold wind flushed Sakura's cheeks and tainted the tip of her nose the same soft pink as her wind tousled hair.

"We need our rest. Let's all go home and meet back here tomorrow at dawn."

"Dawn?" Naruto exclaimed. "No one wakes up that early!"

Before Sasuke could open his out to insult him about how much of a bone-head he was being, Sakura cut in.

"He's right Naruto. It will take a lot of time to get to Konoha's border, and then we still need to cross the water so we can find a place to rest in that town."

Naruto sighed. "Fine whatever...Hey!" His voice brightened with an idea. "Do you guys want to go out and get some ramen for dinner? I'm starved!" He rubbed his stomach.

"Sounds good to me." Sakura said, standing up and brushing herself off.

"It's not like I have anything better to do." Sasuke said quietly.

"Good!" No doubt, Naruto heard him. "Then let's go."

He summoned chakra to the bottom of his feet and leapt across the forest towards the main road.

"Slow down Naruto!" Sakura yelled ahead, jumping up to join him. Sasuke did the same, skimming through the trees toward their long awaited dinner.

The task they'd face tomorrow seemed easy enough to any Jounin. Especially the subordinates of the three Sonnin, but only the lady in cashmere seems to have any real idea of how deep the hatred truly runs in the land of Mist and how thick the fog is covering it.

End Chapter One