Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto.

Homecoming

It was a quiet day at the western gate of Konoha. Summer had arrived in force a few weeks back, and the dusty road, leading away from the hidden village, was baked tinder dry under the scorching midday sun. The two nins responsible for guarding the gate had retreated to their shelter, seeking refuge from the heat under the wooden roof. The shade gave an illusion of cool, but the electric fan had given up its spirit a few minutes ago, and they had spent the time since arguing over who should go and acquire a replacement.

The heat made the two men lazy, and so it was that their discussion took their attention away from the road, where three figures were slowly making their way towards Konoha. A kunai buried itself into the ground, and the two guards broke off their conversation at the sound. The signal from one of the hidden guards near the gate was an old one, and the two nins didn't need to look at the ground to understand its message. They both looked toward the gate, and seeing the distance left for the travelers, one of them got up and retrieved the kunai before plopping down on his chair again.

It took a few more minutes before the travelers had gotten close enough to be examined in detail. One was an older male, with a huge mane of shock white hair, held back by a forehead protector with the kanji for oil on it. The second was also male, in his older teens. His blonde hair was gathered behind a black forehead protector, with the symbol for Konoha on it. The third was a woman. She had red hair flowing down her back, loosely held in place by three leather chords and looked to be in her mid twenties.

They could see the female's hair, because she was walking with her back twisted away from the others, arms moving in what seemed to be rather spirited argumentation with the blonde male. He was looking back at her, but kept a much more demure fa├žade, head bobbing in a nod or twisting in a slight shake as a means of commenting what seemed to be an almost endless tirade.

The guards exchanged glances. Unless something unexpected happened, this would be the only Konoha ninja party coming back that day. However, their impression of the blonde man wasn't meshing with their memories of him. Uzumaki Naruto was well known throughout Konoha as the biggest and brashest set of lips in the entire village, famed for being loud, obnoxious and over the top. The blue-eyed nin walking towards them wasn't acting the part. On the contrary, the rather tall, black and orange clothed young man almost seemed to be passive, if not downright shy.

As the three-person party got within hearing range, one part of the mystery was unraveled.

"-and the theory is absurd, I tell you. An economy needs to be carefully balanced between sufficient health care and the needs of private companies to make a profit!" The red headed woman announced loudly. The presumed Naruto nodded at this, keeping a politely interested expression on his face, while the older man, his possible mentor, the legendary Jiraiya, mostly looked bored. The fact that the woman was stunning, was rather well trained, had generous cleavage and an altogether not very covering outfit didn't seem to interest the famous pervert one bit.

Obviously, Naruto wouldn't be interested in a discussion concerning such a metaphysical subject as national economics. His reputation for lacking books marts was only topped by his reputation for having a low attention span. With one question out of the way, another popped up instead. Why wasn't Jiraiya trying to get the gorgeous woman's attention? He should be all over a woman that hot.

"Well, Akane-chan, I understand what you're saying, I just don't concur that a purely civilian authority can make the correct decisions concerning these matters, as there is usually a lack of long term consequence planning. Oh, and I think we'll have to cut this discussion short, the gate guards won't find this discussion all that interesting." Weirdness seemed to have decided to return with a vengeance, as this statement was uttered by none other than the look alike Naruto.

"Humph, don't think I'll let you get away that easily Naruto-kun." Was all the red head said in reply, turning green eyes forward and staring almost insultingly at the two guards, whose jaws seemed to be planning to run off and start a family together, what with how low they were hanging and all.

"If you two are done boring me out of my mind, I suggest we get signed in and go visit Tsunade. I'm certain she wants to hear all about your recent exploits, Naruto." Jiraiya said, giving the blonde an irritated glance. "I swear all this talking has completely taken all the fun out of our hike."

"As long as you're too bored to bother Akane-chan, I'm okay with it." Replied Naruto coolly, obviously unimpressed with his teacher's grumpy announcement.

"God damned brat."

"Perverted old man"

"Guys, please."

After the routinely exchange of insults, interrupted by an equally routinely request for peace, the three arrived at the guard booth.

"Hey there, Uzumaki Naruto and Jiraiya of the Sannin returning from mission." Naruto said in way of greeting. "The lady is a civilian from Suna, delivering a message to the Hokage."

"Hey Naruto, welcome home, can we have the lady's name please?" One of the guards replied, his colleague opening a large ledger and preparing to record their arrival.

"My name is Sabaku no Akane." The red haired bombshell said. "I'll be staying here for a few days, a week at the most."

"Very well. Naruto, I'm sure there are places you'd like to go, but Hokage-sama wants you in her office an hour ago."

"Is she mad?"

"Dunno about that, but she came here in person to make sure we'd send you there as soon as you arrived."

"Crap, that can't be good." Naruto muttered, throwing a glance at Akane. "Akane-chan, our deal was to escort you to the hotel, would you mind accompanying us to the Hokage?"

"If it means spending some more time with you, sure!" The red head exclaimed, suddenly looking a lot more energetic.

"Eh he, please, you're making me embarrassed here Akane-chan." Naruto replied, a large grin breaking free from his earlier serious visage. Akane replied with a grin of her own.

"Just you wait, I haven't even met any of your friends yet, Na-ru-to-kun." Leaving the threat hanging, Akane turned to the guards again. "I'll be staying at the Golden Oak inn, anything else you need to know?"

The guard who did the talking answered. "I'd ask if you're free tonight, but I'm guessing that's something you're saving for Naruto, so no, thank you and enjoy your stay in Konoha." Having said that, he smirked at Naruto, who had actually started to blush.

"Whatever!" He said and started walking rather quickly towards the Hokage's tower, shoulders tense and a now rather intense blush spreading from his cheeks down to his neck.

"He's so cute when he's pouting! Goodbye guys!" Akane said, loud enough to be heard by the retreating blonde. "Naruto-kun, wait up!" She yelled before running off to catch up with the now intensely embarrassed ninja.

Jiraiya shook his head. "He really needs to learn about handling affectionate women soon, this is getting silly." One of the guards looked at him. "Is this common? He's never been very popular in Konoha." Jiraiya grinned. "Oh, but in other countries he's just a young, tall, well trained and mysterious ninja. Not to mention that he's something of a hero in Suna. He had to disguise himself while we were staying there. Well, Tsunade won't get any easier to deal with while I'm standing around here. Ja ne." With that the Sannin started moving towards the tower as well.

While the travelers made their way to the Hokage's tower, a quite different scene played out at the ANBU headquarters.


"We're to bring him to the Hokage. Here's the release form." The voice was female, and all too familiar to Osamu. He'd been forced to hear it all too often during the last two weeks. Things had gone well for him during his first meeting with the Hokage, which should have made him suspicious. Nothing good had happened to him lately without something worse happening soon afterwards.

Two weeks earlier

"Shizune!" The busty Hokage yelled, waiting for her assistant. As soon as her head poked into the room, Tsunade were giving orders. "I want you and these ANBU to escort this man to ANBU hq. Give him some clothes and put him into a B grade holding cell. I want no violence directed his way unless I specifically order it, understood?"

"Hai, Tsunade-sama." With that short reply, Shizune waved for the ANBU to follow her. Two of them released his bonds, picked him up none too gently, cuffed his hands together, gagged him and then they all followed the Hokage's assistant out.

"You got lucky this time breeder." The one called Saki hissed. "Just pray I won't catch you unguarded, or whatever gave you those scars will seem like a picnic in comparison." The venom in her voice convinced Osamu that she was nut crushingly serious. He filed away the insult, breeder, for something to ponder later, as they had caught up with the woman dressed in black. Apparently his captors didn't want to reveal any more than they already had, as they kept quiet all the way to his cell.

Back to the present

Of course the fact that he wasn't to be harmed physically hadn't stopped the vengeful Saki to return to his cell every now and then. He had some strong suspicions about who she was and where she really came from, as the insults she would direct at him were mostly unique to his home village. It seemed that a few of the female ninjas that sometimes decided to search for bond mates outside of his country had ended up all the way over in Konoha. She got careless when angry, slipping out small tidbits of information while she spewed out an intense hatred for him, his clan and men in general.

Osamu was no fool, and since he was allowed the luxury of a small window, used the rising and setting of the sun to establish a daily routine. He was certain that he would need all the mental fortitude he could scrape together as soon as the seal master that the Hokage had mentioned returned. He was grateful to her for giving him a chance, but it would be hard to explain enough about himself to be believable, without crossing the line of treason. He didn't mind explaining about his clan, as he was now acting head of the few members that remained, but as the clan was still a part of the Village Hidden in Bamboo, He still couldn't tell too much to outsiders.

He still had his pride, battered though it might be.

"Very well, let's get him for you then." The voice, sounding uninterested, was that of one of his jailors. Although they never talked to him directly, they hadn't done anything to his food and every time Saki had been by they checked him over for injuries. He knew they were only doing it because of the Hokage's orders, but he was grateful none the less. Some jailors actually got an extra income by accepting money in exchange for some "fun" time with prisoners.

There was a jingling of keys, a lock opening and then he was being unchained from the wall. Before he had a chance to work out some of the stiffness in his legs, he was being hustled outside. There the three ANBU responsible for his capture and the Hokage's assistant were waiting for him. Shizune was the one to address him.

"Jiraiya has just returned, and I expect he'll want to look at that seal of yours as soon as possible. I advice you not to try and mess with him, as the only one in the village that can beat him in a fight is the Hokage." Having delivered that bowel emptying piece of information, Shizune turned away and led the group out of the prison section. In the guard room outside he was gagged once more, before they set of to the tower.

Osamu kept telling himself that things couldn't get much worse. He marveled at how good he had become at lying, as he almost believed himself. Then he remembered that desperate people would believe nearly anything, and he had to suppress a shiver of dread.

All too soon, they had reached their destination.


Naruto was starting to feel uncomfortable.

That was not unexpected. He was after all supposed to report on his training's progress after three years absence, as well as the result of his side trip to Suna. When they arrived at the tower, they'd been told that the Hokage was busy. He was now cooling his heels in a lounge while Tsunade finished talking to some council members. All that was expected and he didn't really think much about it. What was not expected was that he was already sweating.

One the secretaries were looking at him again.

Naruto ducked his head, cursing softly. Those looks that he kept getting from various members of the Hokage's staff were starting to get on his nerves. When he walked in, he'd gotten the usual glares, as he was accustomed to. What surprised him was that the glares had turned into something that he thought had to do with shock. After that some of the women had starting blushing, some had gotten something calculating in their eyes, and some had started smirking. The worst ones were those that did a combination.

It wasn't just stares either. After a few minutes some had disappeared for a while, coming back looking a bit, "touched up", like there was a certain time of the day that they were supposed to check their makeup. Regardless whether there had been touching up or not, Naruto found himself catching winks, smiles, pens being licked and various other nerve wrecking actions from across the room. He'd been surprised and a bit flattered when it happened away from Konoha, but it hadn't really gotten much further than looks (and once or twice, a pinch to his rear).

Now however, even someone as clueless as Naruto was catching to the fact that he might have changed in more ways than one on his training trip. He had spent most of it secluded in various non-populated areas, training or studying while Jiraiya went to meet contacts, or do "research". He had on occasion been forced to track down his irresponsible mentor, learning to his shock that a "strip club" wasn't referring to a certain pattern on the wallpaper or a required clothing style. He dearly hoped that Jiraiya never learned that he'd somehow always gotten the tabs rescinded, although he couldn't understand why at the time.

He had gotten a lot of new female friends. In hindsight, he realized that the "carnal pleasures", which had been offered quite a few times, might not have been a referral to ramen.

Another source of unease was Akane-chan. She'd started acting really weird, moving her armchair so close to him that he had almost asked if she wanted to sit in his lap. She had done so before, and Naruto was getting the feeling that her reason for doing that was something other than that the chairs were uncomfortable. She had also started to touch him, in an off-hand sort of way. It wasn't all that obvious, it was just that every now and then she'd just happen to touch his hand or arm, or spot some lint on his clothes (he hadn't seen any, but she apparently had very good eyes). She'd even tried to comb his hair with her fingers.

And all the while Jiraiya could be heard laughing his ass off in an adjoining room, together with Kakashi of all people. It was enough to drive a man mad and probably planned in advance.

Naruto turned his head at a particularly loud laugh, and found himself staring into the much too close face of one of the young, pretty secretaries. Naruto remembered distractedly that the Sandaime most likely hired these women, and that the old man had an eye for the fairer sex.

"Ugh, not that word!" Naruto thought to himself, panic almost getting the best of him. He didn't know much about that rather adult activity, having avoided most of the lessons at the academy involving anatomy and sex ed. As for travelling with Jiraiya, he had kept the memory of how painful a woman's anger could be, not to mention her slap, fist, elbow, foot, knee and, one memorable time, forehead, alive and well. Indeed, Naruto had been thoroughly traum- eh educated, yes, educated is a good word, about the consequences of peeping, touching and sometimes sitting quietly in the next room. There had been no onsen trips for him. He liked his male parts where they were, thank you very much.

One could say safely say that the various thinly veiled suggestions he'd gotten in the last half hour had been answered with a completly earnest "No, thank you, I'm not thirsty" or some such. The fact that such innocent replies only stoked various fires among the females of the staff was completely lost on the clueless young man. It did intensify the looks and so on that he got, putting him that much more on edge.

Much of his current predicament stemmed from the fact that a part of his body was trying to convince the rest of him to go and hide someplace safe, like Uchiha Itatchi's bedroom. Another part of him, which had been firmly suppressed for some years now, was arguing for a queuing system with numbers, which would mean that certain as yet unknown activities could take place in an orderly fashion. The rest seemed hell bent on praying and being nervous.

"Uzumaki-san," A sultry voice said, somehow making Naruto want to take a shower. "the Hokage will see you now." The secretary delivered the entire message staring at his torso. He'd unzipped his jacket upon entering the tower, hoping to cool down a bit in the air conditioned building. Seeing as how his t-shirt was the last clean one in his pack, he'd have to ignore the fact that it was two sizes too small and had a gash in it that allowed part of his abs to breathe, in addition to being an almost see through white. He had hoped to get some clothes washing done, or at least shop a bit, before meeting his "oba-chan".

He was, naturally, completely unaware of how his garments affected the females that were exposed to them.

"Thank you!" He replied, relief oozing out of every pore and a huge grin planting itself on his relaxing face. This was followed be what sounded like a breeze, as various women sighed quietly at the sight, as well as cracks from three former kunoichis, who all snapped their pencils in half.

While the secretary walked over to a nearby door, intending to inform Jiraiya, Naruto added insult to serious injury when he decided to take of his jacket completely. Fortunately he turned his back on the secretarial staff, as he would undoubtedly have felt compelled to comment on the sudden plague of drooling mouths, slack jaws and red faces. Picking up Jiraiya in passing, he and Akane headed to the Hokage's office.


A/N: Well, I think I'm starting to get a grip on where I want to take this now. I understand if there will be various comments about "it's been done before" and such, and I've probably messed a few things up with the japanese. If you'd complement any mistake spotting with some way to improvement, I'll be very grateful.

Also a heads up, I want this to be a fun adventure, but I'm going to have to go a bit dark too. Be prepared. Also, if you're hoping for those fruit related scenes, grab onto some patience, I'm still a ways away from being up to writing something like that well (my opinion).

Next chapter will be some more background, a nosebleed (won't happen often, I promise) and, if my hand isn't too tired, a reunion of Naruto and some of his old friends.

Till next update (whenever that'll be).