I know this took awhile but it is finally here sooo, have at it! :D
Chapter 11: Just made it
Naruto made his way quickly and quietly into the sand village, the guards simply nodding as they let him through. It had taken a little longer than he thought to get back after Zetsu slowed him down and covering his tracks more thoroughly than usual but it still hadn't been more than a week since he told Gaara he'd be back… at least not for another fifteen minutes.
The blond stuck to the shadows, not wanting to be seen and made his way to the Kazekage's house. The guards outside let him in without a word; though Naruto could have sworn one of them smirk for a second. He'd find out why once he got inside. Not bothering to knock at the late hour the blond let himself in after standing still enough to activate spread his chakra and senses out as if to enter sage mode. However he didn't pull in any chakra, as he had learned over the years that he could sense out other's chakras without fully entering sage mode.
He sensed both his sons and Gaara in one room close by and went there pushing the door open quietly Naruto looked in and promptly smiled widely. Gaara was sprawled out on one of the twin sized beds with a story book on his chest fast asleep. Rai was curled up on Gaara's left side, his blond spikes gentle touching the redhead's chin as the boy's head rested on his shoulder, and Gaara's arm wrapped almost protectively around him.
Sasuke was on Gaara's other side a little higher up than his brother but his head still resting on the Kazekage's other shoulder, like he had been trying to look over and see the book rather than trying to cuddle up to him like little Rai. Naruto was careful to not make sound as he took his backpack off and pulled out his camera, that had all the boys baby pictures on it… he still hadn't developed them.
The teenager was going to turn the flash off but was afraid he wouldn't get a good picture. So he lined up the shot and clicked. Faster than most could see Gaara's eyes shot open and his sand caught the figure at the end of the bed. The lights went on, as Gaara had his sand flick the switch, but not a sound was made as the boys were still fast asleep. Gaara blinked tiredly as he saw it was his friend and lowered the blond down to the floor… without ever seeing a camera.
"Hey." Naruto whispered. He had grinned widely when Gaara caught him, he'd had just enough time to put his camera back in his bag. Gaara sat up carefully untangling himself from the two sleeping children before standing.
"Hey, how'd it go?" Gaara asked quietly leading the way out. Naruto ignored the gesture to leave for a moment and went over to his sons. He manipulated their sleeping forms gently until they were under the covers and caressed their hair lovingly.
"Goodnight Sasuke, goodnight Rai-chan." Naruto whispered getting up and following Gaara out, he cracked the door behind him, so that it let in light and he could hear inside better. Gaara though had noted his friend had used the 'chan' suffix with Rai again but not with Sasuke. It reminded him to ask about it.
"Why do you do that?" Gaara asked knowing Naruto wouldn't probably know what he was talking about, but it would open the subject. Naruto turned to the redhead questioning with his eyes.
"What?" he asked back, not knowing what he'd done or at least not knowing what Gaara had thought he had done.
"You seem to always use the 'chan' suffix with Rai but not with Sasuke. Is it because of how he looks?" Gaara asked. Naruto had claimed them both as his sons' but things are never that simple, especially between Naruto and Sasuke. Gaara knew Naruto would, and had done everything for Sasuke but he also knew that it hurt his friend as well. Sometimes he wondered if all Naruto did for Sasuke was worth it to him.
Naruto was quite for a moment he knew he didn't called Sasuke, 'chan'. He had tried to in the beginning when Sasuke was a baby, but as he got bigger he stopped. Naruto sighed.
"Kind of. I used to call him 'chan' but… as he got older he started looking more like Sasuke and I just- I don't know. I kept thinking how annoyed Sasuke always was when I teased him by calling him that… Eventually I dropped the suffix." Naruto let out a breath as they sat at the kitchen table.
"He is Sasuke, Naruto." Gaara said carefully and Naruto's eyes met his. "He isn't an adult, or a ninja, and maybe he won't even turn out to like or hate the same things, but he is Sasuke." Gaara paused thinking over his next words. "Even so he's a child, how do you think he feels always hearing you call Rai in such a way but never him?" Gaara asked making a good point.
Naruto looked stunned, would that hurt Sasuke's feelings? He didn't want to do that, Sasuke is still young he might have not noticed yet but he would. Then what? Would he be mad at him? Jealous of Rai? Would he think he wasn't loved as much? Naruto looked down feeling guilty about what he had done, he never wanted Sasuke to feel that way, he wanted to be the best father, better than his own at the very least, and hopefully better than Sasuke's, but had he already messed it up in just three years?
"I didn't think about that. I… don't want him to feel bad. I just…" Naruto trailed off and sighed dejectedly. "You're right; I know you are; it's just… hard." Naruto admitted. Gaara nodded slightly, trusting his friend would fix the problem.
"So you're back, I trust everything went well with the Hokage?" Gaara redirected the conversation which Naruto was grateful for, though he didn't realize at the time Gaara did it for his benefit.
Elsewhere Tobi stood up startled as the Zetsu clones beneath him started disintegrating, their bodies flattening until they turned to dust and were pulled into the light wind. One red and one purple rippled eye narrowed in calculating anger at the sight of his creations. He knew that the cloned Zetsus' would only die in such a way if the original clone of the Shodaime had been killed.
He had spent many years cultivating the Zetsu clones, and the original Zetsu was his one and only spy, this was a damaging setback. He had not made Zetsu to fight however he hadn't created something as useful as Zetsu to be weak either. Whoever destroyed his creation must have been strong but who would be strong enough to defeat Zetsu without the clone simply running away before the deed could be done?
Tobi seethed, his plan had been steadily falling to piece ever since the Kyuubi Jinchuuriki, Naruto Uzumaki disappeared. And he still didn't know why or how the boy had vanished either. Zetsu had reported sensing the Jinchuuriki a while back but by the time he could get close the boy simply was gone again, without a trace like he'd never been there in the first place.
Even before that the boy had become… a nuisance, killing off some of Akatsuki's members. Along with a few others from the boy's age group. His teammate Leaf Jounin Sakura Haruno, an old classmate and also current Leaf Jounin Shikamaru Nara, and of course Sasuke Uchiha who killed Itachi and Deidara, but Sasuke's share had mostly been part of his own plan. Now though it seemed he was the only one left of his organization; that was troubling.
Without Zetsu he had no army; however he did have most the tailed beast. He only needed the last Jinchuuriki… Maybe after a few preparations, it was time he tracked down the elusive Jinchuuriki himself.
In Konoha Tsunade stared blankly at her office full of ninja who were given the title of the 'rookie nine' argued and fired questions at her and their comrades left and right. Along with Gai's old team and all of their sensei, even Iruka from the academy. Most the sensei were just observing though despite that fact she knew they had many of the same questions as their students. Finally she had enough.
"QUIET!" Tsunade shouted the order over the mostly still teenage ninja. Many of them flinched, including the silent Sakura. She hadn't said much to anyone since Naruto told her Sasuke was dead. But she looked up to hear what her teacher had to say about her other teammate. Ino stood beside her in silent support.
"By my order Naruto Uzumaki has been assigned to a long term mission outside of the village." Tsunade paused, glaring at the few who opened their mouths to interrupt her, they shut their mouths quickly. "For classifiedreasons, he will remain outside the village walls performing this mission until further notice. You are not to go looking for him without my consent, if for some reason any of you happen to see or hear about him you are not to follow him. And will inform me and only me on anything concerning him."
"Is this understood?" Tsunade spoke in a commanding tone, though even with that she was met with about twenty or more defiant eyes, she couldn't really tell with some of them but she was pretty sure they all were feeling the same thing. Tsunade sighed.
"Look, I understand you want answers and finding him after all this time you thought you were going to get them, but you're going to have to trust him a little longer. He has his reasons for leaving, for not telling anyone, and for not coming back for so long, but you can't know them yet. When it is safe he will return." Tsunade paused, grateful that the shinobi in front of her looked less ready to jump out the window and drag Naruto back.
"Naruto Uzumaki is now the Toad Sage of Konoha, and when it's safe you will be told what he is doing, until then for his safety and yours, you can't know." She had given them little, just enough that they knew there was reasons, and that it was for the wellbeing of their comrade and friend; that hopefully would be enough to keep them from doing anything foolish.
"Dismissed." Tsunade practically sighed. They hesitated for a moment before all the younger ninja grudgingly shuffled out the door. Their sensei fallowing close behind. The door shut with a soft click and Tsunade looked up to see that one of them hadn't left.
Kakashi didn't say a word as he walked up and stood in front of her desk. He was acting like his usual self except his lone eye was focused on the Hokage though it still was half open, almost lazily staring at her. After a minute of neither saying anything Tsunade turned her eyes away and huffed.
"He is fine, Kakashi. His mission isn't dangerous, unless the Akatsuki finds him. Which he has been doing well to avoid so far, and it is important, especially to him that no one finds him until his mission is completed." Tsunade rolled her eyes as the copy ninja eye smiled at her.
"How long?" Kakashi asked in his usual tone. Tsunade frowned thinking about it. The whole thing started three years ago, so both boys would be three. How long would it be before they could protect themselves?
"…Years." Tsunade answered, not wanting to think how many herself. Hopefully it wouldn't be as long as she thought. Because even the two boys being thirteen was pushing it, and that was ten years…
"He will be giving reports, of course every couple of weeks." She said more to reassure herself than Kakashi. She would make a point when she saw the brat about sending her updates, as often as possible. Kakashi's movements didn't change but the slight stiffness showed he was displeased about his student's long term leave. He nodded slowly.
"You will tell me when you receive these updates?" Kakashi spoke in a more serious tone than before but not in any way disrespectful. Which Tsunade wondered how he could do that. Thinking about the question, she slowly nodded.
"I will tell you when they come, so you know he is still alright, but I can't reveal the information he sends to you without first making sure it won't hinder his mission." Tsunade agreed. Reluctantly Kakashi nodded again before disappearing in a swirl of leaves. Tsunade groaned as she rubbed her temples, she stood up and quickly left before anyone could stop her.
The advisers would be tomorrow's problem. For now she was going home for a long hot shower and some much desired sleep.
In Suna Naruto yawned and rubbed his eyes. He had explained to Gaara everything that happened when he saw Tsunade and when he had to meet her. Gaara of course listened patiently but as the blond yawned he remembered his friend was probably tired. The new toad sage of Konoha had one more thing to tell him though.
"Something else happened though, after Tsunade-baa-chan saw me off Zetsu found me about an hour out of Konoha." Naruto explained as he pulled a purple ring out of his pocket and put it on the table for Gaara to see. The redhead gave his full attention when he heard the name Zetsu. They said nothing for a moment as Gaara examined the ring.
"You defeated him?" Gaara finally asked though the fact Naruto had the ring and was here, alive meant that he had. Naruto didn't turn away but seemed to grow even more tired.
"I killed him." Naruto replied softly. Not quite looking away but not looking his friend in the face anymore either. Gaara put the ring down and nodded slowly. He had killed many before, even as a child, because of all the assassins his own father sent after him. But he knew Naruto wasn't the type of ninja or person that likes to kill; even when he knows has to.
"So then the Akatsuki is down to Madara Uchiha, or Tobi, I guess we're calling him now." Gaara changed the direction of the conversation. Hopefully that will keep his friend's mind from going too deep into dark thoughts. "Either Akatsuki will lay low and regroup, or Tobi will come out… and most likely come after you." Gaara intoned his thoughts, growing concerned.
"…And I have to be ready." Naruto said after a moment as he moved the ring in between his fingers on the table. Naruto took a deep breath and rubbed his eye with his other hand, slouching down in his chair. Gaara sighed.
"Are you hurt?" Gaara asked looking Naruto over better. Noticing nothing but the tear in Naruto's jacket on the shoulder, which he'd noticed before. Naruto saw him looking at the rip in his clothes were there was still dried blood and rolled his shoulder.
"No," Naruto sighed, grateful somebody cared enough to ask. "I went into sage mode after he nicked me, so it healed before the fight was even over." He explained rolling his shoulder one more time just to be sure. Gaara nodded, then stood.
"Alright, well it's late and you're tired. You can have any room in the house, and we can talk in the morning." Gaara turned to the hall going towards the bedrooms. Naruto stood and followed him tiredly, grateful for a place to rest; he had been running all night and the last two days. Naruto stopped in front of the room his sons were in and turned to Gaara.
"Thanks for this Gaara." Naruto said with a small smile and one hand on the door knob. Gaara nodded a little ways down the hall with his hand on his own door knob. "See ya in the morning." The blond called back quietly as he went in to the boy's room to sleep in the bed they weren't using. Gaara went into his own room with a small smile on his face.
Naruto stopped by where his sons were sleeping and watched them for a moment. Just watching them sleep, they were so young and innocent. He brushed back each boy's hair before going to sit on the bed on the other side of the room and lying down. As he closed his eyes, he knew he didn't regret killing Zetsu. He and his sons were one step closer to being safe because of it. Now all he had to do was deal with the Akatsuki leader.
Then at least the all the 'S-class' threats would be taken care of. After that he just had to worry about the boys being accepted. Hopefully Sasuke hadn't made too many enemies. Naruto sighed as he fell asleep, maybe there would always something that came up but for now, his sons were sleeping peacefully close by.
The next morning Naruto was very rudely awaked by two separate attacks that hit him at almost the same time. Thankfully before he could throw the attacking beings off of him there was a twin shout that let him know he was safe… sort of.
"Daddy!" Sasuke and Rai yelled as they crashed gracelessly into Naruto chest and stomach. "You're back!" Sasuke chanted a few times excitedly. "Where did you go? I wanted to come!" Rai whined slightly hurt he'd been left behind. Naruto groan throwing an arm over his eyes as his sons decided to bounce on top of him. He was still tired, but he could see a little light through his closed eye lids so it was at least morning.
"Get up!" Sasuke and Rai called childishly at the same time and bounced more forcefully. Naruto scrunch up his face and still without opening his eyes turned over grabbing both boys in one arm and rolling to his side with them now on the bed Sasuke half on top of Rai.
"No." Naruto replied stubbornly. He knew there was no way he was getting back to sleep, but he just had to mess with them for waking him up. "Be good teddy bears. It's night, night time." Naruto mumbled while trying to cuddle both of them like actual stuffed toys. The twins groaned simultaneously.
"Noooooo." Rai whined and even Sasuke sounded whiny as he said the same thing moments after. Naruto smirked as they squirmed trying to get away. Honestly they had no chance of going anywhere until he let them go. After maybe a minute of trying and their frustration growing Sasuke huffed crossing his arms over his little chest.
"Let go!" Rai shouted not ready to give up yet as he kicked out frustrated.
"OW!" Sasuke yelped as his brother's foot hit him. "That hurt." The three year old raven whimper, tears already gathering in his eyes. Naruto had sat straight up like a shot when he heard Sasuke yelp. He pulled Rai off and set him on the floor before picking Sasuke off the bed and onto his lap.
"Sasuke, are you okay?" Naruto asked gently as he held the small boy close and stroked his dark hair. Sasuke sniffled into his father's shirt and nodded that he was okay but made no move to leave his hug. Rai looked at his brother worriedly from the ground.
"I'm sorry S'suke." Rai sniffed, close to crying himself. Naruto looked over at the small blond and sighed. He bent down and pulled Rai back up on the bed next to him.
"You gotta be more careful Rai-chan." Naruto spoke softly and hugged the boy with one arm as he still held Sasuke in the other. "I probably should have let you go before you got so frustrated though, so it's partly my fault too, I guess." The nineteen year old admitted after a moment.
A few years ago he would never of admitted to being wrong about something like that, he was too stubborn and prideful, but caring for two living being that depend on him for everything changed him enough to at least admit it to them. Seeing as they were both physically okay though and just upset Naruto knew it was time to cheer them up.
"Come on guys! I bet you're hungry." Naruto stated standing up, but not putting Sasuke down. "Let's see what we can get for breakfast." The older blond walked out the bedroom door with Rai right behind him, hurrying to not be left behind.
Back in Konoha Tsunade lay awake in her bed not wanting to get up. It had been two days, almost three since Naruto had returned, and the meeting with the council had gone about as well as she'd expected, which wasn't good. She had of course left out many things, actually most everything Naruto told her she'd left out and the parts the she did share were… slightly, altered.
The council now thought Naruto was reestablishing Jiraiya's old spy network. That was pretty much the only explanation that could cover him moving around outside the village for so long when he was such an important piece in the fight against the Akatsuki. And it was barely an excuse at that, and now she would have to get Naruto to do that on top of taking care of two young boys. Luckily with his clones he could be in more than one place at a time.
The old Sannin groaned as she rolled out of bed, tomorrow she had to meet with Naruto so she had to get up and gather everything Jiraiya left about his spy network. Naruto would need it to reconnect with the old contacts. Hopefully Jiraiya had introduced some of them to the boy when they were out training.
On the other side of Konoha in a secluded training grounds just about everyone Naruto knew was gathered and discussing what they were, or were not going to do. After about a half hour of a lot of ideas but no real results Shikamaru lazily put in his opinion.
"Look, how about if we see or hear about him on a mission we figure out what to do about the information then. This is getting us nowhere." Shikamaru intoned calmly. The others looked at each other but weren't sure as so many questions ran through they're heads. The one that was the most consistent was 'What if someone heard something and didn't tell them?' But they were ninja and were used to not always having all the information they wanted, usually for 'classified' reasons.
Eventually they all reluctantly agreed. They intended to share the information with all the others but kept in mind what the Hokage said and that they may have to keep from telling everyone what they may see for the wellbeing of Naruto and maybe even the village itself. All in all not a very satisfying day. On the edge of the gathering ninja though were three younger Genin ninja.
Konohamaru scowled at the others, he wasn't really mad at them though, he was just becoming increasingly frustrated. They had finally found his Naruto-nii and even got him back in the village and he didn't even get to see his older brother figure! It was great Naruto-nii was no longer in danger of becoming a rogue ninja and was now some great Toad sage of Konoha. However he didn't care he would find his Naruto-nii… somehow.
AND CUT! "Best friends just won't leave your side" -Blink182
To narutofan : thanks! And ya but he is going to have a lot to do ;)
And thanks to all my other reviewers, I try to answer all your questions/comments (unless you've block PMs)
cause then I can't ^_^' anyway if any of you would like a certain scene just ask and if I like it I'll put it in! :D (and credit you for it of course)
In other news if you've not noticed I've decided to post my Naruto/Bleach fic, as it won the poll. However there were so many votes for a Naruto/Inuyasha fic that I've adopted one and am turning it into my own, but that one may take awhile.