Minna-san! It's been a while since I ended my first NaruIno cop story and I know that most of you are looking forward to this one. But before I give you the first chapter let me thank all of you who made my previous story a success. Yes, I may not be getting any profit from writing these stories but your reviews are enough to boost my confidence as a writer.

So there, I'm sorry if this took so long. I just finished college this April. *heh* I'll try my best to update as often as I could. And about my other story, the Lips of an Angel, I'm not abandoning that one. It's just that I'm experiencing some sort of writer's block in continuing that particular story.

SPOILER ALERT: To all of you who adores Haruno Sakura, I would just want to make it clear that I have nothing against her. So please don't flame me after you've read this particular chapter. I've also edited Kakashi's masked face and mismatched eyes in order for his character to fit the position/role he'll be portraying. Good news is that I've retained his sexy scar. *wink!* Oh, and before I forget, there might be times that you will find Tsunade as a very sly woman. After all, she's the over all Director of the Special Operations Unit in Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department.

Enough of the chit-chat now. I present you, the 1st episode Undercover and Temptations. Don't forget to hit that review button.

Ja ne,

~Ino Ishii

"What's so important that it couldn't wait until tomorrow?" Uzumaki Naruto dropped into one of the upholstered chairs flanking the director's desk. He and his partner hadn't taken any real time off for eight months now and they were due some serious R&R – past due. Plus, this urgent meeting with his two superiors only adds up to his irritation. It wasn't even on his agenda for today.

But then again, he needs to compose himself; after all, he's a specialist working for the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department. And he should, at all times, be dedicated to his duty.

"We have a problem," said Hatake Kakashi, Deputy Director of Special Operations. His onyx gaze solemnly held Naruto's cerulean blue pair.

The undercurrent in Kakashi's tone immediately caught Naruto's attention. But what made his chest tighten is the way he looked at him. He knew that look well enough. And it wasn't because of Kakashi's left eye being scarred right in the middle of it.

"What kind of problem?" Naruto prompted the silver-haired man before him.

As much as he hates to prolong the moment, Kakashi hesitated. He was still searching for the best way to say what needed to be said.

Naruto straightened in his chair, his mind automatically running down a list of possible scenarios. "What kind of problem?" he repeated.

As if on cue, Director Namekuji Tsunade stepped into the office. Her long blonde mane arranged in a very neat and professional looking chignon.

Naruto, his senses rushing toward full-scale alert, shifted his attention to Tsunade. He can smell that something big was about to go down.

"I'm afraid that there's been a change of plans regarding your latest mission," Tsunade's gaze focused on Naruto with the intensity of twin blue laser beams. "Haruno Sakura is dead."


Naruto was instantly on his feet. Haruno Sakura was his partner. They had parted company forty-eight hours ago to take some quick downtime before this huge mission. How could she be dead? Naruto shook his head in denial. There had to be some mistake.

"We just – she was…" his voice faltered beneath the steady gazes fixed on him. There was no way that these two, his superiors, would lie to him. "How?" he barely recognized the harsh sound as his own voice.

"Jirou hit her outside Narita International Airport," Kakashi said quietly. "We know it was him because there were three eyewitnesses and based on the description, there's no question."

Fury roared inside Naruto. Genjurou Jirou, that fucking son of a bitch. He knew he should have killed that bastard when he had the chance. But Jirou had begged for mercy and sworn that he would spill his guts about the drug runners trafficking for the kingpin that they have been hunting down for nearly a year. Sakura, being the good-hearted girl that she is, had fallen, hook, line and sinker, for Jirou's act. Naruto hadn't trusted him, but he had deferred to Sakura's judgment. Now he was sorry. But not half as sorry as Jirou would be.

"Where is he?"

Kakashi raised an eyebrow at the savage sound of Naruto's demand. "We're taking care of Jirou."

"I'll take care of Jirou," Naruto countered. His muscles tightened with rage. He felt the urge to tear something apart.

"You already have your assignment, Uzumaki," Tsunade pointed out.

"Can't you see that Sakura's dead? It's going to be pretty damned hard to complete that mission now! No partner, no pass into Kageyama's tight little group! It was a package deal! Remember? Couples only!" he aimed his fury in Tsunade's direction.

Kakashi and Tsunade engaged a look that only frustrated Naruto even more.

"Couldn't you understand? No one is more capable of doing this mission other than my dead partner!"

"We are truly sorry Naruto, I know that you and Sakura go a long way, but I'm afraid that we have no other choice but to push through with this. We can't afford to abort this mission. That is why we searched for an alternative." Tsunade explained. Her hazel eyes never leaving the fury-laden cerulean pools of Naruto.

Kakashi picked up a folder on Tsunade's desk. He opened it and gave it to Naruto.

"Who is she?" Naruto asked, his eyes focused on a colored photograph of a smiling woman with long, blonde pony-tailed hair. Her skin, flawless and milky smooth. Her eyes, shone like twin aqua-colored gemstones. She must have been the most beautiful person he's ever seen.

"She's Yamanaka Ino. A grade-S hacker. Not in the usual sense, however, she specializes in computer security. Learned her hacking skills to better serve her needs as a security analyst. 100% computer savvy according to her qualifications," Kakashi said knowingly.

Computers? That had been Sakura's specialty, too. The particular skill necessary to succeed in this latest assignment of theirs.

"How did you find her?" Naruto asked, still dumbfounded.

"Completely by accident," Tsunade explained. "Our researchers found her."

Naruto knew that Special Ops has a special team called Forward Research. This team is composed of a dozen men and women who did nothing but recon for people who showed unparalleled skill in a given field. In fact, it was the same research team which discovered him several years ago.

Putting his fury on hold momentarily to assuage his morbid curiosity, he asked, "Have you recruited her?"

"Unfortunately, we haven't yet. We wanted to see first if you would have a problem with this kind of approach," Tsunade told the spiky-blonde male in front of him.

Naruto kept silent.

"We understand that you're still mourning for your partner's death but just like you, we have no choice but to go on with the mission. Yamanaka is our only hope for salvaging this mission, Naruto," Kakashi said.

Naruto wanted to say to hell with the mission, but an instinct too strongly entrenched wouldn't allow him to do that. This mission was top priority. If their circumstances were reversed, Sakura would feel the same.

"Where is she?" Naruto asked roughly.

"In a women's correctional in Osaka,"

"What'd she do?" Naruto looked from Kakashi to Tsunade and then to the colored picture in his hands. The innocent-looking woman in the picture hardly looked capable of any criminal activity.

"Nothing, she says," amusement twinkled in Kakashi's onyx eyes. "But then, all prisoners say that."

"She tampered with the security system of several large corporations in order to drum up business for a small but rising cyber security company where she worked," Tsunade explained. "She was sentenced to five years and she's only served four months of her term. And judging from recent accounts, isn't faring so well with prison life."

A look passed between Kakashi and Tsunade. Naruto would just bet that the Yamanaka woman's run of bad luck in her new prison life had more to do with the Special Ops than fate. After all, Special Ops liked to stack their deck.

Whatever the case, Naruto picked up the folder and stared more closely at Yamanaka Ino. "Does she have any family? A boyfriend? Who might make this mission difficult for her?"

Kakashi shook his head. "Not a soul. She was apparently engaged to her boss when she got busted. He swore under oath that he knew nothing of her criminal activities. I don't think he misses her, considering the brunette hanging on his arm these days."

Something about that little story didn't sit right with Naruto, but this woman's personal problems weren't his concern.

"What makes you think she'll go for it?" He leveled his gaze on Tsunade's. "We all know just how much risk is involved."

"Yamanaka Ino wants her life back," Tsunade said as she reached across her desk and took the folder from Naruto. She fanned though the pages until she found the one she wanted. She glanced over it, then closed the folder and dropped it back onto the polished surface of her mahogany desk.

"I'd be willing to wager she wouldn't turn down the opportunity for a little revenge. We already know that her boyfriend set her up. But, just in case, she's not interested, we've also set a little incentive motion. It's all in the file," Tsunade smiled. "I've already made arrangements for you to offer her a deal."

"And if she accepts our offer?" Naruto suggested.

The smile dissolved into a serious line of pink lips. "Then you have one week to train Yamanaka Ino as your new partner."

Ino was dreaming. She was standing in the middle of a beautiful green meadow. Daisies and other wildflowers were sprinkled amid the sea of lush green. A wide-open blue sky spilled from the heavens as far as the eye could see, with only a puff of white here and there to disrupt the absolute infinity of pure blue color.

In the dream, Ino closed her eyes and spun around slowly. The tall grass tickled her ankles. It felt soft beneath her bare feet. The scent of wildflowers, of the rich, green grass, of freedom, was all around her.

"On your feet."

Ino jolted awake, squinted through the darkness and tried to make out the silhouette hovering over her cot. Fear surged through her when a strong hand closed over her shoulder and shook her. Oh, fuck. What if that guard had decided to make good on his threat? Or was it that inmate who seemed to have it in for her? Panic tightened around Ino's chest. She wanted to scream, but the sound simply knotted her throat.

"What – what're you doing?" she managed to mumble around the lump of fear. It was well past midnight. The cellblock was deathly quiet.

"I said, on your feet," the gruff voice repeated in a harsh whisper.

The voice was different. This wasn't the guard who had threatened her. Relief washed over Ino as she scrambled from beneath the threadbare covers. Feeling her way, she pushed her feet into her shoes, stood and quickly righted her rumpled clothes.

The guard tugged first one hand then the other in front of her and handcuffed her wrists together. "Keep your mouth shut. I don't want you waking up the whole damned block."

He shined his flashlight in her face. Ino squeezed her eyes shut against the blinding light and nodded her understanding. The light vanished with a definite click. Where was he taking her at this time of night? What did he want? She frowned. Why had he handcuffed her? Before she could consider the questions further, the guard pushed her through the door, then closed and locked it behind him.

The rasp of leather soles on the concrete was the only sound she heard as they passed cell after cell. The occasional cough or snore from a sleeping inmate splintered the dark silence from time to time, but no one roused enough to wonder or witness what was happening to Inmate 54122.

Ino wanted desperately to ask where they were going, but fear kept her silent. Too many times she had seen inmates pay the price for disobedience. The guard had told her to keep her mouth shut, and she would. But, Kami help her, as fear thudded in her heart, leaped in her pulse. How could she trust anyone in this place?

The near darkness of the long corridor only served to sharpen her awareness of being locked up. How would she ever survive another four years and eight months here? Even the confined, sweaty odor of the place made her sick to her stomach.

At the final checkpoint, another guard opened the door leading from the cellblock. A dim circle of light from the desk lamp lit the female guard's unsmiling features. The door slammed shut behind Ino and "her escort," leaving her both relieved and anxious. Inside that cell she felt relatively safe from the evil that existed all around her, but at the same time she felt this pathetic world closing in on her in that six-by-nine cinder-block room.

Before they reached the main visitors area, the guard hesitated in front of one of the doors leading to an interview room. The same room where Ino had met with her lawyer on the two occasions he'd seen fit to show interest in her case.

"I'll be waiting right here to take you back to your cell." His words more warning than statement of fact, he opened the door and waited for her to enter the room.

"I don't understand," Ino felt the sudden, unbidden urge to run. "Why am I here?"

"Go on," the guard gestured to the door. "You have a visitor." This time his tone was clearly impatient, annoyed.

A visitor? For her? Had Sasuke, the bastard, come to apologize? To tell her that this whole thing had been a huge misunderstanding? That she was free to go now? Ino almost laughed at that. He had used her. She gritted her teeth at the pain still simmering beneath the barely controlled surface she maintained.

Uchicha Sasuke, the man who had ruined her life, her career, her everything. The man whom she entrusted her heart. The bastard who told her he loved her with all his being and yet he was the reason why she was behind bars. He had come out of the whole mess smelling like a rose, and she had taken the fall for him. All his promises had been nothing more than lies. Now, she was paying the price for being naïve.

Ino squared her shoulders and took a deep breath. Whoever was here to see her in the middle of the night, it wouldn't be Sasuke. It wouldn't be her lawyer either. He had told her she was doomed from the beginning. Of course, Sasuke had been the one who hired him.

The door closed with a loud clang behind her. Ino jerked at the sound of it locking. Oh, how she hated being locked up. As if on cue, the walls began to close in on her. How would she ever endure the remainder of her sentence? Her breath came in quick, shallow puffs.

"Calm down," Ino ordered herself. She was in a room with a singular bulb spilling its sparse light over the empty table in the center of the room.

She was about to calm down when she heard a voice from nowhere.

"Have a seat."

Startled, Ino turned toward the sound of the voice. She didn't recognize the tall, blonde-haired man who stepped into the pool of light near the table. He'd been waiting there and she hadn't even noticed. And she would definitely have remembered meeting a man as handsome as this one. The black fitted shirt he wore was a bit wrinkled. He looked rumpled, as if he had traveled a long way, or just awakened and pulled on the same clothes he'd worn the day before.

Since he made no effort to introduce himself, Ino didn't ask. She crossed the room and settled into the chair on her side of the table that stood between them. She was a prisoner, without any rights to speak of. When she was told to jump, she did so. Ino had no intention of doing anything that might keep her in this place one minute longer than necessary.

The spiky-blonde man sat down and began flipping through the file on the table before him. "My name is Uzumaki Naruto, Ms. Yamanaka. I've come here to offer you a proposition." His cerulean gaze settled on hers, watching, analyzing.

His eyes were too seeing and so blue that she thought she might drown in them. Ino tamped down the anticipation that welled inside her. She would not get her hopes up that this man could somehow rescue her from the living hell her bad choices had plunged her into.

"It's the middle of the night," she countered. "Isn't this an awfully odd hour to discuss business?"

Ino had learned the hard way that business conducted after hours was usually a little shady. Besides, she didn't know this man. What kind of proposition could he possibly want to offer her?

He closed the file and leaned back in his chair to assess her. Ino held his smoldering gaze. She would not give him the satisfaction of looking away.

"You've only completed four months of your sentence," he scrubbed a hand over his jaw as if he were tired, and had no patience for any of this. "Five years is a very long time."

Ino twisted her right wrist inside the confining handcuffs. She still couldn't understand why the guard handcuffed her for this meeting. She wasn't a violent inmate. And she could definitely count. "I'm very much aware of the time I'm facing, Mister."

He leaned forward, pressing her with that unsettling gaze. "Then I wouldn't be complaining about what time of day or night my only hope for freedom came."

Freedom? Who is this man? What was he talking about?

"Who sent you here?" she demanded, afraid, to believe his words and equally scared not to. The false hope his insinuations engendered in her was too cruel for words.

"I cant tell you that." He folded his arms on the table, covering the file that likely contained information about her. "And even if I told you, you wouldn't know any more than you do now."

"I don't understand." For the first time since stepping into the room, fear for her safety rocketed through Ino. Was the guard still outside as he said he would be?

"I think I should go back to my cell now." She started to stand, but his next words stopped her.

"I can make all of these go away."

That was impossible. "How can you do that?" she demanded, knowing full well it couldn't be true. She lifted her chin and glared at him, daring him to prove his statement.

"The people I work for are very powerful. If you will cooperate with us, they will clear your record. And you'll be free to resume your life in any way you see fit."

That sounded too good to be true. There had to be some kind of catch.

"And what do I have to do in exchange?" She surveyed the features of his handsome face. His expression gave nothing away, nor did those deep cerulean blues. How could she trust him? No matter how good looking he was, or how important he appeared to be, the fact is she didn't know him. He was a complete stranger. A stranger with enough power to waltz into a federal prison in the middle of the night and have the guards at his beck and call. The realization sent a chill straight to her spine.

He studied her for a while before he responded to her question.

"We need you for a mission that involves national security. You will use a different name, and you'll be working very closely with me. Without you, the mission will have to be aborted."

National security? Different name? She had to be dreaming. This couldn't be real. Stuff like these only happened in the movies.

"You'll be briefed on everything you need to know before the mission begins." He lifted a briefcase from the floor and placed it on the table. Once he'd opened it, he placed the file inside, then closed the case and stood. He leveled his gaze back on hers. "Any more questions?"

"Wait," she resisted the urge to reach out to him, to touch him if he was real. This was all far too unbelievable. Surely he wouldn't expect her to make a decision based on so little information. She had to know more.

"I cant make a decision without more details than what you've given me. And I'll need time to think it over."

"We don't have much time. If you choose to cooperate, you will do exactly what I tell you, when I tell you. There will be no discussion." He lifted the briefcase from the table. "Now, are you in or out?"

Ino shook her head. This was crazy. "What kind of mission? Where?"

I cant answer either of those questions. You will be given that information on a need to know basis, and right now you know all you need to. What's your decision?"

A mixture of irritation and fear fueled Ino. "You cant expect me to just say yes. There are things I have to know and consider."

"Like what?" he cocked his spiky-blonde head and glared at her. "One thing's for sure, Yamanaka, I'm your fairy godfather, and I can make your greatest wish come true. I can clear your name and I can make your old Uchiha friend pay for his evil deeds." Naruto stared directly into her aqua eyes for two beats before he turned and strode away. He didn't stop until he reached the door. He glanced back at her, his expression challenging, openly condescending. "Are you in, or out?"

Ino swallowed the fear climbing into her throat. What if he was right? What if this was her one chance for freedom? The mere thought of Sasuke getting his due made her giddy.

"There's one thing I have to know," she insisted, delaying her answer though anticipation bubbled inside her at the last thought.

Irritation rolled off the handsome stranger in waves, but he waited for her question just the same.

"This mission you want me to help with, is it dangerous?"

Something changed in his eyes. All signs of cockiness and condescension drained from his expression. Ino's heart hammered violently in the silent seconds that elapsed before he answered.

"Very." Came his sole reply.

The solitary word echoed around her, filling her with renewed desperation. His gaze never leaving hers, he pounded once on the door. It opened instantly. He walked out, leaving the door wide open. Allowing her to make her own decision.

In or out.