Author Note

Hello there and welcome to another chapter of Meshii.

First, I would like to apologize for literally abandoning this story until now. Frankly speaking, I was under the impression that it has not been that long since its last update. When I looked at my profile page and saw that the last update was last year, I froze. It has been eight months since the last update. I got carried away updating Cursed Eyes and Nidaime no Sairin that I simply forgot about this story. It is simply unforgivable. Perhaps, more unforgivable than Naruto's last movie, which sucked big time. Here I thought that the grown Naruto would be a more complete shinobi. Instead, he only showed skill in taijutsu and a gold energy rasengan that apparently can be thrown at long distances without sage mode.

However, I digress…

Well, last chapter, Naruto managed to defeat Kabuto before capturing him. Hiruzen managed to tie loose ends by killing Orochimaru for good. Of course, the snake can be revived via his cursed seals, but the only person with said knowledge is Orochimaru himself, so yeah…he's dead. As of Kabuto, well, I prefer to use this chapter to explain what exactly will happen to him. Suffice to say that he will not be the enemy he is at canon and let us leave it at that.

Now, without further a due and once more, I'm deeply sorry for taking this long, here is chapter 24 for yours truly.

Chapter 24 – Return and a new assignment

Beta: Kyuubi123

After Orochimaru's defeat, Hiruzen had simply withdrawn from any outside interferences, opting to clear his thoughts. Naruto simply shrugged it off, as it was not his business. Instead, he contacted the Hokage to send a team of Anbu to take Kabuto away for questioning. Sasuke's team arrived two days later at the designated location and took the prisoner away for questioning. They resumed their travels afterward. While Naruto resumed his meetings with his spy network, Hiruzen remained reclusive. Despite Orochimaru's actions, Hiruzen still viewed him as his prized student. He knew that dealing with Orochimaru was his responsibility and he accepted it like a true shinobi. However, now that he performed the deed, the aged Hokage could not help but wonder if he could have done something sooner to alleviate Orochimaru's issues. Of course, Enma simply dismissed the notion, going as far as to complain that Hiruzen let Orochimaru live for far too long.

It had been fifteen days since the battle with the snake, when Naruto stopped to address his grandfather. They were in Grass Country and this stop in particular did not allow Naruto to bring Hiruzen along.

"If it's okay to you, I shall meet this person alone." The former Hokage lifted an eyebrow in wonder. This only happened when Naruto had to meet that girl Touka. Of course, that time Hiruzen understood, because the place happened to be a brothel and being an old man, and a closet pervert, Hiruzen chose not to go inside. He had a reputation to uphold. Now, however, they were in the middle of a forest inside Grass Country and the man could not see anything.

"I don't see anything close by Naruto-kun." Naruto nodded, before turning his back to the former Hokage.

"She tends to enjoy her privacy way too much. I won't take long…" Hiruzen never bothered himself with the spy network's members. Jiraiya personally selected them and he trusted the man. He acquiesced Naruto's request with a simple nod. The boy started walking towards the woods, before vanishing completely from sight. Hiruzen could no longer see nor sense the kid. With a snort, he understood this person's paranoia. No doubt, the house was hidden with fuuinjutsu and space-time ninjutsu. Normally, though, Hiruzen would have spotted the seals hidden, which meant that the woman casted genjutsu to hide the seals. He did not doubt that it was a simple genjutsu either.

"Just where did Jiraiya find these people anyway?"

Hiruzen murmured as he summoned Enma for a game. It certainly will aid him to take his mind away from the events.

***With Naruto***

Once inside the hidden house, Naruto patiently watched as his sensei and number one spy made some tea for them. He took his own time telling the woman all about his mission to rescue Gaara from the Akatsuki. Throughout it all, the elder woman said nothing, but Naruto was not expecting a response. When he explained what happened to Sasori, he could see, albeit briefly, a smile from the woman. Yeah, Kaori and Sasori were indeed bitter rivals back in the old days, each one of them trying to outsmart the other every time. In the end, Naruto realized that his actions against Sasori were, in fact, even if indirectly, linked to Kaori as she was the one that taught Naruto all about the subtle shinobi arts, such as poison and infiltration.

"So…" Kaori started, while serving Naruto some tea. "Sasori gave you and Hiruzen his entire secrets and his spy network findings?"

"Yeah, he was impressed with my actions. He also said something about me continuing his legacy and though I was never a fan of the art of puppetry, I found that I could absorb many of his trademark skills. I have been learning how to use chakra strings to increase my chakra control and even incorporated his knowledge of poison to my own repertoire. I found it intriguing that some of his material were a carbon copy of yours, though I wonder just who copied whom in this manner." It was completely rare to see a shift in Kaori's facial expression. The elder woman was stone cold the entire time. Naruto had to exert a lot of strength to not show amusement at the vein shown on her forehead followed by her left eyebrow tick.

"You know I could have poisoned that tea you're drinking, right? Such insolence as to imply that I would have degraded myself into copying Sasori's work. That little bastard infiltrated Kusa's hideout and stole my notes. " Her outburst did little to help Naruto's plight in controlling his amusement. He knew the possibility of her drugging his tea. Hell, it was her method of training him in not trusting a drink at face value. Deciding to change the subject, Kaori urged him to tell her about Orochimaru's demise. Kaori was perhaps the only person that liked the snake sannin, but Naruto ventured a guess that the reason went back to her hatred of Sasori. She knew about them as partners in Akatsuki and that Orochimaru would always antagonize the puppeteer.

"Jiji was the one who defeated him, while I took care of Kabuto, Orochimaru's right hand man. It's hard to believe, though, that he was finally killed. I remember Jiraiya saying that he has managed to kill the snake several times, but he still showed up afterward as if nothing happened." Kaori could not help but agree with her student's theory. The only way to kill a snake was to slice its head off. She wondered how deeply attuned was the sannin to its summoned animal.

"I have always taught you to rely on your instinct and never assume anything to be the truth." Naruto nodded. "But the snake sannin is not your primary concern."


"Yes, indeed…they are on the move. Because you killed Sasori, they now lack sufficient intel about the other jinchuuriki's location and abilities. While it is a minor setback for them, it does not mean that they lack other resources, for instance, I have heard that Nii Yugito, the Nibi Jinchuuriki, never came back from a simple C-ranked document retrieval mission. The woman was an A-ranked shinobi without counting her bijuu, to which, from I what heard, she had full mastery of." The blond spy did not need to ask Kaori about the link between Yugito's mission and Akatsuki. He knew, though, that giving her such a simple assignment was suspicious to say the least. It was like the Hokage asking Kakashi-sensei to do the same thing.

A huge waste of monetary potential.

"Speak your mind my student, what is it?" Naruto cleared his throat and explained his thoughts, earning an impressed nod from the elder woman.

"I'm impressed; indeed Akatsuki is not above using subterfuge to corner the jinchuuriki somehow for the capture. It was all a matter of bribing the one responsible for the shinobi mission in Kumogakure. The Akatsuki would possess knowledge of Yugito's route and prepare a trap in advance. Now with the Ichibi captured as well, they already have two, leaving seven jinchuuriki to be captured, including you. I advise you to return to Konoha immediately and seek an audience with the Hokage about this matter, Naruto." The spy nodded. He had desperately searched for information regarding the organization, but aside from the ones he already knew, his attempts were unsuccessful. He needed to look at the matter from a different perspective.

"Understood…any other Intel you can share with me about their identities?" Kaori snorted, having heard that question before.

"I already told you that their identities are a mystery. Aside from Itachi, Kisame, Sasori and Deidara; I don't know about the others."

"I'm not asking about them, but rather the remaining jinchuuriki." Kaori looked at her pupil, slightly surprised at the question. "I know you don't have any more Intel to give me regarding those bastards, but if I manage to secure information about the other jinchuuriki, I could perhaps warn them about Akatsuki, or rather stall the organization from capturing them." Kaori narrowed her eyes at the thought. By looking at her pupil, she could tell the kid's training with Hiruzen bore fruit, but to believe he alone could go after the organization on his own was ludicrous at best. The Hokage would never allow him to go, at least not alone that is.

"Alright, I can help you with that. It's not like the other villages work hard in keeping their identities hidden. Though I don't believe you're ready to face them alone."

"Like I said, I don't plan to. My initial plan is to find the other jinchuuriki and warn them. I will only stall them long enough so that the jinchuuriki can escape." Kaori grunted but said nothing else in favor of writing the information inside an empty scroll. It did not take more than ten minutes for her to do so, before she handled the scroll to Naruto. The blond vanished soon after. Unlike before, the candle close to them barely flickered, to which Kaori smiled. Her prodigy improved considerably in his infiltration technique. Perhaps, Naruto may be able to prevent the Akatsuki from capturing the other jinchuuriki. She just hoped the boy wouldn't be stupid enough to face the members himself.

After Naruto finished his meeting with his spy, he met with Hiruzen, who was having quite a heated discussion with Enma, most likely about Orochimaru. It was quite a comical scene as human and ape were glaring at each other, grinding their teeth in a show of anger. Looking down, he saw a board with shogi pieces scattered. Having no intention to separate the struggle nor to stop the comical scene, Naruto simply chose to lean against a thick tree and enjoyed the show. His feet, however, moved a leaf on the ground and the noise alerted both contenders that they had an audience. Both looked at Naruto and both scowled at his clearly amused expression.

"Oh don't mind me you two…please continue." Enma grunted at the little punk and went back to the summoning world, leaving a fuming Hiruzen alone with Naruto.

"What was that about?" Hiruzen sighed for a good ten seconds, before looking at his grandson.

"We had decided to play a game of shogi while I waited for you. Enma then started to lash out at me about Orochimaru, saying that I should have killed him when he was but a genin. You appeared soon after, I assume."

"I see…well shall we continue towards Konoha? I have urgent matters to discuss with the Hokage." Hiruzen nodded as they jumped towards the next set of trees.

"How was your meeting? Found anything useful regarding Akatsuki?" They were increasing the speed in order to reach Konoha by nightfall.

"They managed to capture the Nibi…" Hiruzen narrowed his eyes as he listened. "She was an elite jounin from Kumogakure and was sent on a C-ranked solo mission outside the village, a mission that no elite jounin would ever be sent on. Two members of the organization were simply waiting for her to return and capture her."

The former Hokage found it mesmerizing how all jinchuuriki suffered the hatred from their village, just because of the beast inside. The modus operandi was quite easy to deduct. Akatsuki managed to bribe someone from the mission office into sending the Nibi Jinchuuriki away from the village. Iwagakure attempted a similar practice, he recalled. The difference was that both Jinchuuriki from Iwa were too experienced and rather mistrusting of the Tsuchikage to fall for such traps. Last time he heard, both jinchuuriki left Iwa.

"I assume your urgent matter has nothing to do with Akatsuki capturing the Nibi, Naruto-kun. What is it?" Naruto waited a while, contemplating whether to reveal his thoughts to his grandfather.

"I believe it would be more fruitful if I could track the remaining jinchuuriki myself and warn them of the threat. The spy I met gave me Intel about their skills, details and current location."

Of course, he omitted the possibility of engaging the Akatsuki if he happen to find the jinchuuriki on the verge of being captured. Hiruzen was pensive about it.

"We already attempted to do so by contacting the other villages directly, though I doubt that the other Kages listened. I doubt that Jiraiya-kun would deny it, though he won't like the prospect of you going out there alone. I get that you will be targeting the jinchuuriki, but there is a high possibility that you will run into them. We managed to cover a lot of ground in your training and I can say that you can give Kakashi a hard time, but certainly not against an S-ranked shinobi." Naruto said nothing for a while, though now he couldn't help but smile at the comment.

"Sure, using only my chakra you say…"

"To my knowledge, you never indulged in the fox's chakra Naruto-kun. You never trained in its use."

"Indeed I haven't…at least according to your knowledge on the subject." Hiruzen became alarmed the second the words left his grandson's mouth. "During my travels, I trained in using the fox's chakra. Of course, I started with as much as one tail worth of chakra. Right now, I can access as much as three tails worth of his power. You see…the fox's chakra is filled with ill intent, hence why it would normally be hard to control. For me, it only serves to enhance my meiton capabilities." At this point, Naruto could see that Hiruzen looked skeptical at best. "Nevertheless, it is not my intention to confront the Akatsuki right now, so you don't need to worry about it. Worst-case scenario is that I can aid the jinchuuriki to escape from their grasp." Of course, Hiruzen still looked doubtful.

"It hurts somewhat that you failed to bring this to my attention, Naruto-kun. The fox's chakra is incredibly potent and dangerous to mess with, unsupervised. What would happen if you were unable to control it? What if the fox somehow managed to use this opportunity to escape the seal?" To some it could be interpreted as scolding laced with parental concern, but to Naruto it sounded like an insult to his intelligence and experience as leader of Konohagakure's Spy Network.

Now he was slightly pissed.

"I knew of the risks beforehand, you don't need to worry about it. My overall training in using the fox's chakra took two years. It took three months using one tail worth of chakra, before I started using the second tail. A year after that, I began the third tail. If I were as irresponsible as your questions portray, then it would not take long for me to get caught inside enemy territory. Hokage-sama trusted me with his spy network and I learned a lot under another teacher, whom happens to be a member of our spy network. " Hiruzen heard it all and knew that he would start yet another argument with another person, so he chose to keep a level head for the time being. The boy snorted at his grandfather as they crossed the border to Fire Country. By the time they reached the gates of the village, the moon was already up.

***Inside the Hokage's Office***

Throughout the last two months, since Naruto and Hiruzen left for their trip, not much had happened in Konoha. In fact, the only event of note was Naruto's message that he managed to capture Orochimaru's second in command Kabuto and he needed a team to take the traitor back to Konoha for questioning. Since Kabuto was a high profile criminal in Konoha's agenda, Jiraiya took care of the interrogation personally, together with both Morino Ibiki and Yamanaka Inoichi. Ibiki's methods proved ineffective, hence why Inoichi had to step in using his clan's technique. Even so, the Yamanaka clan head had a bit of trouble breaking his internal defenses. Jiraiya found it shocking to hear that Kabuto had served under two masters aside from Orochimaru, those being Akasuna no Sasori and Danzou. Under Danzou's care, Kabuto became an undercover spy that would infiltrate other villages and report back to Root.

Jiraiya would have to consider this later, because now the target was Orochimaru.

As far as Orochimaru was concerned, they managed to obtain pretty much everything there was to know about the snake sannin. The experiments conducted, the location of the bases, everything. Jiraiya now only had to categorize the information and start issuing teams of jounin and chunnin to investigate the bases. The information took a couple weeks to be sorted out and now Jiraiya had to choose the teams that will be responsible for each base. There was also something else, but he wanted to converse with the Sandaime first before making a move on it. As if on cue, he heard a knock on the door, before Hiruzen entered the door, with a smile on his face.

"Sensei, how was the trip and where is Nar…never mind…he is already inside, isn't he?" Hiruzen smirked with a nod just as Naruto revealed his location.

The hidden Anbu in the room were already accustomed to the fact that none of them saw Naruto getting past them.

"I already told you, it's a nasty habit of mine, Hokage-sama."

Jiraiya sighed in dismay at the response, before ushering both Sarutobi to take a seat and report.

It took quite some time for Naruto and Hiruzen to report about the events surrounding their trip and Jiraiya paid special attention to his former sensei's tone when Orochimaru came into the report. According to Naruto's letter, Hiruzen had managed to defeat Orochimaru finally. However, he could very well see that the old man was having trouble digesting the consequences. Eventually, Naruto talked about his meeting with Kaori and revealed the Nibi's capture as well as his plan to prevent Akatsuki from capturing the others. In addition, Hiruzen instructed Naruto into revealing his skills in using the fox's chakra. Jiraiya spilled the tea he was drinking immediately, before barking at Naruto.

"What the hell do you mean you trained in the fox's chakra…did you know the damage you could have caused if you weren't ready?"

Naruto found it more irritating than his grandfather, considering that Jiraiya trained him for some time. Such lack of faith...

"Like I said to jiji, yes I knew the risks. I increased the amount slowly…it took three months for me to get used only one tail worth and way longer than that, for the second tail. Also, the fox's chakra feeds on the same malevolent energy as my meiton." Jiraiya snorted at the explanation. He knew the brat must have received the same level of scolding from Hiruzen. It looked as if he had already explained this to the Sandaime. It didn't make it less infuriating in Jiraiya's book.

"Nevertheless, the fox's chakra is not something you can trifle with. Now, I'll have to look at the seal to see if it's damaged…"

Jiraiya could not finish his train of thought, before he saw Naruto showing his abdomen.

"By all means…go right ahead."

Molding some chakra, the seal became visible for everyone to see. The Hokage got up and inspected the Yondaime's work. After a thorough analysis, Jiraiya could not see anything wrong with Minato's work. Still, the brat could have at least told him about it when he came back from his two-year travels around the world. With a grunt, Jiraiya walked back to his chair, while considering what Naruto said about going on a new travel in order to inform the other jinchuuriki.

"I should see for myself just how far you are able to use the fox's chakra, but that will come later. Also about your idea of warning the jinchuuriki, I believe it has merit. Certainly, our attempts at reaching to the other kages backfired. Both the Raikage and the Tsuchikage are stubborn mules and misinterpreted our attempt as calling them ill equipped to handle the threat by themselves. Now, the Raikage lost the Nibi and certainly, Iwa will lose the Yonbi and the Gobi if we do nothing about it." Hiruzen and Naruto nodded at every word. "I will allow you to do so, but you are strictly forbidden from engaging the Akatsuki directly, Naruto. Your mission is to warn the others, not get captured yourself."


Naruto had no intention of getting into a fight he knew he could not win on his own. There was a reason he didn't attack Sasori immediately upon entering the battlefield. That didn't mean, however, that he was forbidden from helping the other jinchuuriki to escape. Jiraiya nodded and dismissed Naruto for the day. He asked Hiruzen to stay behind so that he could talk about Danzou and the disturbing findings from Kabuto's mind.

"What did you wish to talk about?"

"Were you aware that Orochimaru aided Danzou in several hidden projects after he betrayed Konoha?" Jiraiya was expecting many reactions, but certainly not a resigned nod from his sensei.

"When we reached Sasori's hidden chambers, I found a journal of Orochimaru's activities after he left the village. Orochimaru was the one who injected the Shodaime's cells into Tenzou. Tenzou later became a member of the Root Anbu, before joining the regular Anbu forces." Jiraiya nodded, but he was expecting his sensei to reveal more. He heard about Orochimaru's skirmishes in the Land of Earth and Water, but nothing about what he discovered from Kabuto.

"Well, it seems that Sasori's intel wasn't complete on Orochimaru, at least not as far as Danzou was concerned." Hiruzen's skin crawled at the prospect of yet another disappointment.

"What do you mean?" Jiraiya collected his thoughts for a while, before explaining.

"According to the info we discovered from Kabuto, Orochimaru not only used the Shodaime's cells on Tenzou, but also on Danzou himself." Sandaime's eyes widened. "The arm that Danzou lost in the war…was replaced. Believe me when I say I didn't believe it either, but his right arm not only contains the Shodaime's cells, but also approximately ten sharingan eyes." Hiruzen had to brace himself from having a heart attack after hearing such atrocity.

"That could not be true…I know that Orochimaru is capable of such, but Danzou…" Hiruzen wanted to say that the man loved Konoha more than most and would stoop to anything in order to defend it.

"I know that Danzou cherishes Konoha, sensei, but perhaps in his twisted sense of belief, he did all this believing that he would be better protecting the village, perhaps by using said powers against our enemies. Anyway, this information needed more proof on my part, before I question Danzou, but for that to happen, I will have to tread carefully." Hiruzen nodded, knowing about the political power that the war hawk possessed. It was the main reason why he never bothered to move against the man unless he was one hundred percent sure of his actions. Right now, his brain took some time to ponder on what he heard from Jiraiya and the Hokage, for his turn, remained quiet waiting for his sensei to come to the same conclusion he had.

"You said he had sharingan implanted in his new arm, is it possible that he had something to do with how the Uchiha Massacre played out?"

"Possible…I've read the report on the massacre and the bodies were removed by the Anbu…which Anbu however we do not know. It's the only plausible explanation I could find." The Sandaime cursed himself for not seeing this at the time. He focused on the events that would follow the Uchiha Massacre and didn't stop to consider the bodies. Danzou must have taken them and delivered them to Orochimaru, so that the snake sannin could prepare Danzou's hidden arm. Jiraiya would not allow the man to wallow in the past, at least not more than he already appeared to be doing, because of him killing Orochimaru.

"In any case, I do wonder how you propose I proceed with this information?" Hiruzen looked down in thought at Jiraiya's question. He once believed that by defeating Orochimaru, he would be correcting all his wrongs. Now, another wrong has been made and another wrong under his watch as Hokage. Come to think about it, how good a Hokage was he if, in the end, he had allowed those two to perform their own deeds without interruption. He just could not allow it to remain. He had already dealt with one of them, now for the other. Oh, he knew just how Jiraiya could proceed in this manner. He had trained extensively with Naruto and his body was now back to itss former self when he fought Orochimaru at the Sand-Sound Invasion.

"You don't need to move a finger Jiraiya-kun; I shall deal with him accordingly." Jiraiya was really expecting many different answers…hell, he was already waiting for the possible discussion he would have.

"Wait a minute, sensei…what are you talking about?"

"Danzou and Orochimaru's actions happened on my watch…it is up to me to finish this once and for all."

The Godaime Hokage was about to argue, but he looked at the Sandaime, with hesitation. It had been a long time since he saw that look on his sensei's face. The last time was during the last great ninja war. He still had his doubts about allowing his sensei to go through with this manner, but he knew that the Sandaime would tread carefully in whatever he was planning.

"Okay sensei, I will allow you to handle this matter…but I do not wish for you to go on your own. For all we know, he didn't disband his Root force and possesses many hidden tricks to use. I shall personally select a squad of Anbu to accompany you to serve as backup." Hiruzen nodded, even though he knew that Danzou would not risk sending his agents against him. Nevertheless, it would be good to save energy for when the time came. They spent the rest of the evening tuning out the details of Hiruzen's plans.

***With Naruto***

As soon as he left the Hokage's Office, Naruto went straight to the Sarutobi Compound, where he found his family having dinner. Casually greeting his parents with a wave and caressing Konohamaru's hair, he took a seat on the table and quietly heard all about his little brother complaining about D-ranked missions. After dinner was over, he helped his mother with the dishes and then sat with his father at the compound's courtyard. Sarutobi Kaito enjoyed a nice quiet time of sake after dinner, before going to bed. He asked Naruto to join him this time. The spy nodded and took a seat opposite from his father as the man quietly took a sip of his sake, while looking at the skies. It was a beautiful night with zero clouds and an exuberant full moon. Of course, Naruto could not fully enjoy a scenery the same way, but he could feel other influences much more soothing, in his opinion. Like the cool breeze that gently caressed his body and hair.

"So…" Kaito began talking. "How was your training with Hiruzen-sama?"

"It was quite hard…you wouldn't tell he is that old when his staff broke a couple of my ribs." Kaito laughed a little, urging his son to continue. "Our goal was to bring my other skills up to speed with the more subtle ones I most favor, like taijutsu and ninjutsu. In our last spar, I was able to give him quite a run. Jiji told me that nowadays I am more than a match for Kakashi-sensei. Close to High A-ranked, I believe he said." Kaito nodded with a proud smile on his face.

"Well, you could probably kick your old man's ass now then huh?" Naruto snorted at the comment.

"I could already beat your sorry ass before, Tou-san…" Kaito chuckled at that…the most sparring he had with his son was a simple taijutsu one with the occasional bojutsu practice.

"Huh...keep dreaming junior…" After that, father and son kept quiet, just enjoying each other's company for a while.

"How long do you have before you have to leave again?" Kaito was deeply proud of his son's achievements taking over the spy network. On occasion, he feared that his eldest would not come back home, but aside from that, the man would never waste an opportunity to say to others how proud he was of Naruto.

"Probably a week from now…I have to restock some supplies, update the village's information data base with my new findings." Kaito nodded before pouring more sake, while observing his son. Sarutobi Kaito had plenty of skills as a shinobi. However, his most noticeable one was his sensory capabilities. His son's chakra was much more potent now than two months back thanks to Hiruzen's training and he could even find traces of suiton and doton chakra, aside from Naruto's lightning affinity. He also could detect the malevolent chakra known as Meiton. A powerful energy that feeds itself on Naruto's negative emotions and even those from Naruto's opponents. Aside from his regular energy, Kaito could feel Naruto's second chakra source and he could very well perceive it slowly mingling with Naruto's own chakra reservoir. The kid was already A-ranked and the fox's chakra was barely mixed with his own. Kaito could not imagine how powerful his boy will become once the fox's chakra is fully merged.

"Is something wrong Tou-san?" Kaito blinked straining his focus and looking at his son's lifeless green eyes. Kaito smiled at him once more.

"Nothing is wrong…quite the contrary…I can see a bright future ahead of you my son, just be careful out there, okay?" Naruto nodded and got up from his seat.

"I will…I guess I'm going to sleep Tou-san, it's been some time since I slept in a real bed. Good night." Kaito wished him good night as well. As he saw his eldest get inside the house, Kaito started to reminisce about the past. Ever since Naruto was but a baby, he was subjected to the pain and hatred of the villagers. He remembered that even shinobi with a grudge attempted to attack the boy, forcing Kaito to defend his home and his family. He had to withhold his strength at the time or else he would have killed all of them. When Naruto learned about the Kyuubi and why the villagers hated him, Kaito was afraid that the boy would turn into the demon that was inside of him. When Naruto awakened his meiton, the air immediately shifted into such an oppressive energy. Afterward, Kaito would hear stories of his son attacking the villagers, of course all of them false or exaggerated. In every situation, his son barely defended himself, utilizing Tonbo's training to overcome his blindness. Now, his kid became a chunnin with the power to become a jounin in the near future.

"Kaito-san, are you outside?" The father stopped his daydreaming and looked as Hiruzen stepped outside.

"Hiruzen-sama…yes I was just enjoying some peace and quiet…Naruto-kun was just here telling about his trip. Care to join me?" Hiruzen nodded and took the same seat that Naruto was. Lighting his pipe, the old Sarutobi inhaled and then released everything slowly, feeling the pleasure of the tobacco easing his troubled mind. He knew his son-in-law was not much of a conversationalist and he liked that…he didn't come here for any other reason aside from simply enjoying some peace and quiet of his own. He thought that he had managed to accept Orochimaru's transgressions, but he never realized that Danzou would stoop as low as he did. He and the war hawk were always bitter rivals growing up and earning the place as the Nidaime's top student. Well, Danzou wanted the rivalry more, but it was a rivalry nonetheless.

"Hiruzen-sama, would you like me to stay and keep you company? I was about to head inside…"

"It's ok Kaito, thank you. I much prefer some alone time to ponder on a sensitive topic of mine." Kaito nodded and went inside the house, leaving Hiruzen alone to continue his ponderings. He already had a plan in mind regarding his approach with Danzou. What he was dreading now was after he made the move on his rival. Hiruzen was afraid of what he would find out, though. It was one thing to know of said transgression from a third party. It was another when you heard it from the very person responsible for the transgression. He was afraid to look Danzou in the eye and hear the man's reasons for doing what he did. No matter the reason is, however, Hiruzen meant every word to Jiraiya.

He will deal with this once and for all.

***Author Note***

Okay, I will stop here, since my intention was to finalize Naruto's training trip and start a new part with Naruto's mission and Hiruzen taking care of Danzou.

Please review.