Twenty year old Temari Sabaku was jumping amongst the rooftops, her signature pigtails flapping in the small breeze, from her movement, as she headed towards Kazekage Tower where her father had summoned her. Dread filled her being, setting her face into a grimace at what she hoped was just a mission, but if the trepidation forming in her stomach was anything to go by, Temari didn't think so.
If Suna's normally calm weather was to go by, more than just a storm was coming. Within moments the wind started to pick up moving the sand with it. It could have meant either two things: Suna was in for a unannounced sandstorm, or Gaara was back from his mission.
She was a couple of weeks away from her twenty-first birthday and a Jounin for the Hidden Village in the Sands. As the eldest daughter for the House of Sabaku, soon to be of marrying age and rank she knew a political marriage wasn't uncommon. In fact, requests for her hand started to come in when she was eighteen and just a Chounin, the earliest a request for marriage could be made. In recent years more and more offers have came in and Temari knew it was only a matter of time before she was told of who she would marry.
In short time she had arrive at the foot of the tower. Brushing any wrinkles and stray sand particles off of her long black fighting kimono, and making sure her sash was secure; Temari squared her shoulders, lifting her head high and began to walk bravely to see her leader, her father.
As a Jounin and a woman of marriageable age Temari believed in comfort and practicality while making sure everything was covered. She had originally tried wearing the standard Jounin uniform but found the form fitting pants to be uncomfortably tight. Her jacket got in the way of her fan. It stiffened her arm hindering her instead of helping her.
After some trial and error, Temari found a long black kimono with a sash worked the best. It was practical and very easy to move in. The down side was the kimono showed her chest to the best advantage, displaying proud, perky breasts of women of younger age. The rest of the kimono clenched under her chest before falling in folds to her feet leaving her practically shapeless, making ogling her harder to accomplish.
Stopping in front of the heavy wooden doors Temari knocked briefly hearing the soft 'enter' from within. Taking a deep breath Temari walked in and immediately dropped down to a knee, eyes on the ground as she awaited acknowledgement to move.
As per custom when visiting you must bow in the Kazekage's presence until he has chosen to acknowledge you. The practice has been in effect since the First Kazekage, back when slavery was a common occurrence. It was made to show that no matter who visited in Suna the Kazekage was the Master. Slavery had been abolished, but the practice of bowing hasn't.
"Ah Temari, there you are. Approach so that I might take a better look at you." The Kazekage waved her forward towards the chair in front of his desk. Temari stood up slowly as befitted a lady of her standing, and gracefully walked towards the chair, taking small steps as if a geisha. Sitting down on the edge of it, so to not disrupt her fan, she crossed her ankles demurely. She took little notice of Baki, her fathers' advisor standing next to the wall. It wasn't uncommon that where the Kazekage was Baki wasn't far behind.
"Temari as you know in a few weeks you will be of marriageable age, and I have had many requests for your hand." The Kazekage watched his daughter clench her teeth from the shade of his hat, knowing it was an unconscious habit. He smirked knowing he had her right where he wanted her, and as her father Temari's life was literally in his hands.
'I knew this was what he wanted' Temari willed herself not to get mad. She was considered royalty in Suna being from both a noble house and the Kazekage's daughter. 'I just hope he isn't marrying me to an old man.' Temari sighed with resignation. 'I knew he didn't love any of us kids but I could still hope he would have given us the choice.'
It was true; the Sabaku children have been raised by nannies and later ninjas since their infancy. The Kazekage was only present during the last of his children's births and that was only because he was sealing Shukaku in his son. They grew up knowing they were just pawns early on in their lives. Only doing what was expected of them.
The Kazekage stood up and looked out the windows into Suna watching the small storm end as if it never started, below before continuing. "I have decided that you could have free reign to marry whomever you decided providing they are of a noble clan." The Kazekage waited for a few minutes to allow the news to sink into his daughters head. He could just see the emotions running through his daughters' eyes without seeing her. "What say you Temari?"
"What's the catch?" Temari asked suspicion in her voice, and narrowing of her eyes into her fathers back. It wasn't unwarranted, as the Kazekage never gave anything away for free. He always wanted something in return. For her freedom he wanted something and Temari hoped it wasn't the death of a Daimyo.
"I want you to lead a Genin team to the Chounin Exams held this year in Konoha, and when the time is right. I want you to help destroy it." The Kazekage continued to stare out the window, watching his people come outside to sweep off steps where sand had gathered.
"I-I thought that Konoha was our allies" Temari stumbled before she caught herself, for once thankful her father wasn't looking at her. Her mind boggled at the information she was receiving. Sure it wasn't a Daimyo but still leading a war was very serious business.
Suna was going to go to war with Konoha, and no one knew about it. If Konoha found out about this then Suna would surely be destroyed. Konoha had more ninjas, more jutsu's, more allies, more land. Konoha just plain had more.
"We are now allied with Sound and their Otokage. I trust you can keep this under wraps" the Kazekage watched Temari nod faithfully. "Now do I have your agreement? I have the contract already written out allowing you to marry whomever you desire. All you have to do is take a team to the Genin Exams."
"Do I get to pick my team?" Temari asked hesitantly, wondering what was so important about her help in this. She was wondering what her crafty bastard of a father was plotting. 'There has to be was something she was missing. Was it because she was the Kazekage's daughter, therefore above reproach, surely it can't be something as simple as that. What is he thinking?' Try as she might, Temari could not figure out the missing puzzle piece.
"No it has already been decided. If you choose you will be teamed with Kankuro, Gaara and someone else we have yet to decide on." Sitting in his elevated chair, or as Temari called it throne, the Kazekage wondered on his daughters' decision.
"Hinata, if I am to be team leader I want Hinata to be the third person." Temari spoke wanting all her siblings with her that way when war broke out she could protect them.
The idea was entirely implausible though. Kankuro was a Puppet Master, tested at Jounin rank. He was denied placement on a Genin team following graduation. Instead he was apprenticed under Chiyo the legendary Puppet Master, who had trained Suna's only S-class missing ninja: Sasori Akasuna.
Gaara, by shear power alone was stronger than everyone in Suna bar none. Add to that his birthright as the youngest son for the House of Sabaku, and Gaara was instantly in line for being the next Kazekage. He was strong, stubborn, and unable to be bribed or manipulated. For those reasons along, the council and villagers have sent many assassins after him, his own father notwithstanding.
Hinata's skills were a mystery to her own family. She appeared barely adequate with kunai and shurikens. It was only by her father stepping in did Hinata pass the academy by her intelligence just not on the practical skills. If it wasn't for the Kazekage stepping in Hinata wouldn't have passed at all. Temari knew there was something more to the girl then what appears. After all no one can find her unless she wanted to be found, and the other thing no one knew about. When Gaara went on solo missions, Hinata was right there with him. She had skills no one knew about, of that Temari was positive.
"Hinata barely passed the Genin Exams, and is never found. The girl is a pain at best. Why would you want her?" Her fathers' eyes narrowed at her in question before sitting back in his hair steeping his fingers in thinking pose, calculating the reason for his daughters choice.
"As you said she is a pain at best" Temari began slowly, knowing her fathers dislike for her sister. "It's not uncommon for there to be causalities in a war, and as inexperienced as Hinata is" Temari trailed off letting her father make his own decisions. The best way to deal with the Kazekage was to appeal to his interests and dislikes. He avidly disliked Hinata for some reason.
Temari actually liked her little sister, as she was a nice and kind person if a little sarcastic. She was also the only person who was able to calm down Gaara without being killed. Something that Temari herself wishes she possessed, or at least more people. Calming the rampaging red-head was not something easily done.
Gaara barely tolerated her and Kankuro both anytime they were alone together, or even separate for that matter. The silence was always deafening allowing you to hear a pin drop from the other room. Add to that Gaara's glare was enough to drive someone crazy. Never ask him a question without Hinata present unless you want to be thrown around with sand. Personal questions were worse, as you were guaranteed to lose a limb at anytime.
"You…make an excellent point Temari" The Kazekage hesitantly spoken, no doubt thinking of the possibilities. Grabbing his pen he signed the contract before putting his official seal on it. "Do we have a deal?"
"We have a deal" Temari smiled softly as she watched the Kazekage roll the scroll up before sealing it before holding out the scroll for her to take. The scroll that represented her freedom was within grasp and Temari didn't know to laugh or to cry at being offered something so precious.
Hesitantly she grabbed for the scroll, hand hovering over it indecision, feeling slight guilt for leading her family to war. Although she knew that if she didn't take this chance she would lose respect for herself. She only hoped the others would forgive her.
"Good you are dismissed. Be ready to leave in a month. You can train with your team anywhere you want providing you are not late to arrive at Konoha. Your traveling papers and passport will be delivered to you later by hawk." Temari grabbed the scroll with two hands, holding it securely against her bosom. Standing up she slowly made her way to the door before the Kazekage called out. "Temari, remember this is a mission. You can't let anyone know outside of your team what is going on, and I wouldn't tell them until they are at the Chounin Exams."
"Hai" Temari replied, dropping down to her knees again bowing her goodbyes before being dismissed from the room. She had things to do and siblings to track down.
"Do you think it was safe to give her the scroll to hold on to?" Baki's gravelly voice asked from his position on the wall. Part of his face was hidden by a white sheet like cover. The other side was hidden in shadows.
Pushing himself away from the wall, Baki grimaced at the way Temari and the Kazekage played each other like pawns. Both had left feeling they had gotten the upper hand. 'Too bad she's a woman' Baki thought 'she would have made an excellent leader.'
"It won't do her any good. It's true if she can pull this off she can marry whomever she desires of noble blood. I just forgot to mention that it has to be after my death, or I have to approve of them." The Kazekage began chuckling under his breathe at the trap he set on his daughter. No his children won't be free of him, not until he was ready to release them; after all he is their father.
Hinata looked up from the batter she was spooning onto the newly empty cookie sheet in the kitchen of Gaara's and her apartment with a look of annoyance on her face. Her normally long red and dark blue locks were securely put up allowing her to cook without worrying about having wet hair in her face.
She was wearing an elbow length mesh shirt under a short-sleeve black shirt that she filled out better than most women. Her eyes were a pale lavender color with a red-ringed light green pupil. Her smile showed dimples in each cheek, making her look younger than her eighteen years, yet her body said otherwise as it was fully developed. She had more curves along with a toned body that made both kunoichi and civilian women jealous. At five foot six she was a little on the short side considering Temari was five-nine, and Kankuro an even six foot. Even Gaara, her brother older than her by mere minutes was taller than her at five-ten. It was official at eighteen Hinata had little hopes for height, she was doomed with shortness.
Her long legs and small feet were bare except for a belt tied around her right thigh holding three medium sized black cylinders on them that met up with a pair of black short-shorts. Her skin was a pale porcelain color with a small hint of peaches and cream giving her a healthy glow.
"Hey nee-chan, how are those cookies coming?" Gaara called out from under a towel as he began drying his hair, walking into the kitchen wearing nothing but a pair of blood red boxer shorts. His hairless, toned chest and abs clenched and unclenched as he bent over running the towel over his hidden locks to get the stray flecks of water out of it. "I started the dirty laundry and made sure to put that stuff on it to get the blood stains out."
Gaara pulled the black towel off his head displaying his blood-red hair with a few stray stands tipped in dark blue usually hidden, in public under his sash. Placing the towel on the back of the chair Gaara began running his fingers through his hair trying to brush the unruly locks occasionally displaying his 'ai' tattoo on his forehead.
Looking down at his chest he flexed his muscles watching the muscles appear along his abs giving him a defined look. His skin tone matched his sisters perfectly, both being unable to tan and burn while being in the sun for hours. Something both twins lamented and cheered over .The only way they didn't look like ghosts was because of the slight hint of peach in their skin tones. That slight shade gave them the healthy glow of life.
Pulling his boxers away from his body Gaara looked down and sighed. "You know I can handle not being able to grow eyebrows, facial hair, arm pit hair, or even hair on my chest and arms, but nothing below the waist either. I look like a pubescent boy without public hair or even hairy legs. The only hair I have is on my head." Gaara pulled a spike from his head as if to convince his sister.
"Are you complaining? I think it's great" Hinata replied putting the last batch of dough on the cookie sheet before putting it in the over. "I don't even have to worry about shaving my legs. God I thought Temari was going to flip when she found that out."
"Yeah but you're a girl. It's alright for you to not have facial hair or any type of hair, and your bangs hide your eyebrows. I look girly." Gaara lamented knowing at this point he sounded like a broken record. It was a discussion they had many times before, and will have again.
"Would you rather be hairy like Kankuro and mistaken for a Wookie at times?" Quickly Hinata began washing the dishes then placing them in the drainer to dry.
"True, Kankuro is hairy without his jumpsuit on. But really Hinata a Wookie is that the best you can do? Have you been watching Star Wars again?" Gaara raised a non-existent eyebrow at his sister wondering how she would retaliate. It was fun and easy to do, especially if you did it over her love of the Star Wars movies.
Without looking Hinata reached into her hair and pulled out the senbon needle that was her hair tie and threw it behind her sticking it into the wall just over Gaara's head.
"Did I get it?" Hinata asked before pulling out another needle from who knows where to put in her hair. Baking in Suna was always almost a melting experience and Hinata hated to sweat, especially after that fresh clean feeling she got from her previous shower.
Gaara peered at the wall where the senbon needle was and found a fly imbedded into the wall. "It's dead" Gaara replied pulling the needle out of the wall carefully. "Right through the center also."
"Thank Kami" Hinata replied putting the last of the cookies onto the plate before bringing the plate over to the table. "That stupid buzzing was driving me crazy. Get the milk will you please?"
"Let me get a shirt first" Gaara walked out of the room hanging up his wet towel and grabbing a clean black shirt from his dresser. Pulling it on over his head he grabbed the milk and some glasses from the cupboards for there after mission ritual.
Sitting at the table across from Hinata the two began to dunk their warm chocolate chip cookies in the milk before eating them savoring the taste as it melted in your mouth.
The ritual had started many years ago back when the kids were eight and they had killed their caregiver in his attempt to injure Gaara while his back was turned. It was an accident really as both children were given kunai to throw against a cactus in an abandoned training hall outside of the village.
The training hall was just outside of the village as one of its walls was part of the support of the dojo. The roof was partially open over sand where three large cacti had grown. Three yards away from the cactus began a dusty wood floor that ended at the entrance to the dojo.
Gaara's back was turned Yashamaru, reached into his side pouch to grab a kunai. Feeling the familiar weight in his hand Yashamaru raised it above his head, smiling maniacally. Finally his revenge for his sisters' death would be avenged, and who better to do that then him. His sisters twin brother.
Cheering gleefully in his head at the death of the demon spawn Gaara Yashamaru completely forgot about Hinata. Standing up on his tiptoes, raising his jacket up, to bring more power into his downward thrust he gargled instead when he felt the burning sensation of being stabbed. .
"Don't hurt him" Hinata calmly said, voice lacking all emotion as she let go of the kunai and pushed Yashamaru away from them. It was then she saw the blood surrounding the kunai, leaking through his jacket. Drops of blood littered the floor as she followed them to her bloody hands. She started screaming.
Gaara was lost in concentration as he studied the cactus in front of him, trying to make the target grow before he rapidly grabbed a kunai strapped to his thigh. Holding his breath Gaara threw the kunai with accuracy hitting the bull's eye. He was about to jump in congratulations when he heard Hinata's scream.
"You little bitch" Yashamaru dropped the kunai as Gaara turned around getting a small cut on his forehead. His small teal eyes widened as blood trickled down his face. Yashamaru brought both hands to the kunai in his side. Gaara whirled around looking for Hinata finding her staring at her hands as if finally seeing them for the first time, her eyes vacant. "I was going to let you live but now I won't."
Yashamaru carefully unzipped his jacket, to not hit the kunai and injure himself more, for the first time since they arrived showing his jacket and body were both covered with explosive tags, some smudged with blood. Bringing his bloody hands up to his mouth in a tiger seal Yashamaru smiled evilly, his eyes full of madness.
"HINATA" Gaara yelled diving to his sister, closing his eyes, pulling her close with one hand the other aimed at his uncle, hoping to block whatever came their way.
Several deep breathes later Gaara slowly opened his eyes and couldn't see anything. Everything looked dark as if night had fallen. Blinking repeatedly Gaara's grew exceptionally larger as he figured out what was going on. "Hinata" he whispered to his shaking sister.
Hinata began to stir as she looked up and began blinking rapidly trying to will away the moving darkness. In front of them was a wall of sand protecting them from the explosion maybe that was why they never heard it? Suddenly the entire wall collapsed and began moving away from the children across the wooden floor.
Standing up slowly the twins followed the sand and found a ball made entirely out of the grainy substance where Yashamaru was once standing. Slowly the ball began to get smaller and smaller before red tinted sand formed joining the lump on the ground.
Whooshing sounds were heard as the sand began to build on top of each other forming the shape of, what was it, it looked like legs. Gaara and Hinata looked at each other in confusion as they looked back to the sand to see legs had formed. Slowly a waist began to form, then a chest, arms and finally a head leaving no sand left on the wood.
Instantly the sand looked to have disappeared and in its place stood a teenager with multi-colored hair pulled into a high pony-tail. His piercing gold eyes turn to the children before he spoke gravelly. "Hello children, I am called Shukaku."
"Gaara let's go on vacation after our next mission." Hinata spoke softly leaning back in her chair nibbling on her cookie softly.
Gaara contemplated the question while he drank some of his milk, giving himself a mustache. On one hand they were shinobi and were expected to kill. On the other they have never had a vacation before and definitely deserved one. "What did you have in mind?"
"I want to go to that old hidden village, you know the Whirlpool one. They have a sand volleyball tournament there next weekend and I want us to participate." Hinata mumbled softly. "The prize money is fifty thousand dollars, and it will be good for us." Hinata brought her leg down off the chair before finishing her last cookie.
"Volleyball huh" Gaara knew of his sisters love for the sport, as it's one of the few that Suna excels in as they have sand all over the place. The old Hidden Village of Whirlpool was a place that chakra was not allowed, so many tournaments took place there as shinobi and civilians could play each other safely without fear of death.
Gaara finished his last cookie before seeing one left on the plate. Narrowing his eyes at Hinata he challenged her when he noticed she spotted the last cookie also. "I get the cookie we go on vacation another time and where I want. You get the cookie and we will go, and even get permission from the Kazekage."
"You're on. Best out of two" Hinata stared into her brothers eyes in challenge. The two stood up and crossed their arms at the wrist. Intertwining their hands into a fist they stuck up their thumbs and began the time honored tradition of fighting Sabaku style.
"One, two, three, four I declare thumb war." Thumbs moved over each others hands as they began the dance. "Five, six, seven, eight try to keep your thumb straight." Chanting done they began a furious two handed thumb war for the last cookie.
Thumb war: the time honored tradition of Sabaku siblings that allow for challenges without causing bloodshed. Fighting over the last cookie or even food was a challenge between all Sabaku children, Hinata and Gaara included. Before using the thumb war method innocent bystanders were injured in explosions. Last time it was chopsticks and Kankuro ended up in the hospital with a chopstick stabbed through his hand and another in his thigh.
"Mmmmmm good cookie, thanks Hinata." as said cookie disappeared from the table into their guests' mouth. "I swear you make the best cookies ever, in all the realms."
The twins turned to death glare at who ate the missing cookie to find Shukaku sitting at the table swallowing the last of the cookie with a small look of ecstasy on his face.
"Don't you have to be in a gourd right now?" Sarcasm ripped from Gaara's lips to his demon. Instead of being sealed completely in Gaara, Shukaku had an advantage, that none of the other demons did. He had the ability to manifest in the real world providing he was with Gaara at all times.
When Yashamaru was trying to kill the twins Gaara unknowingly physically pulled Shukaku from his cage in his chosen form, sand and used it to protect his sister and himself.
Yashamaru's blood gave Shukaku a corporal body. When he has blood he can retain his human form, without it he if forced into his sand form, that he was able to shape into a gourd. His demon form and powers are sealed safely in Gaara.
"If I was then I wouldn't be able to get a cookie. A demon's got to eat more than blood you know" Shukaku smirked at his host, knowing there was nothing Gaara could do to him, even though his death glare was pretty good, for a human that was. "Not my fault someone doesn't know how to do a proper demonic sealing. By the Laws of Jinchuuriki you can't touch me, unless I attempt to take control, kill someone unauthorized or until you reach the age of maturity which ends in my demise."
"But that doesn't mean I can't" someone else said before hitting said demon on the head with a stack of papers. "You're out of the gourd, which means you get to do your own paperwork, Shukaku. Meanwhile I get to finishing training Hinata in the ways of the Eki Mouretsu Clan. She's earned her tattoo, now we just have to make sure she's properly trained into being the next second-in-command, along with controlling what little demon blood and chakra she has in her."
The blonde woman had her hair done up into an elaborate bun showing her hair ended in deep red. Her dark blue kimono matched her blue eyes with a blood red obi holding it closed, littered with black clan signs all over it.
"Hello Tani-sensei" Hinata said smiling at Shukaku looking like he wanted to cry as stacks of papers began materializing in front of them. Their little dinette table was covered with papers hiding the Demon Lord from view. Soft whimpers could be heard from where Shukaku was sitting.
Hinata watched in amusement as brother and sister fought much like Gaara and she did. Only siblings could fight like that and only twins were that close.
Hinata could only smile happily as the siblings fought. Standing up grabbing her empty milk glass to put it away Hinata felt a surge of pure rage enter her body, leaving her wanting to maim and seriously injure someone before killing them slowly piece by piece. Her sudden rage formed a red aura around her body. The glass in her hand shattered, as her gripped tightened. As soon as the urge came it left with a wisp of yellow. The powered up rage left Hinata's body and disappeared from view, as if to carry on the will of its holder.
"Hinata are you alright?" Concern showed on Gaara's face as he seen her rapid mood change. Even Shukaku and Tani stopped fighting as they looked at Hinata in interest, then the fragmented glass pieces on the table.
"Weird" Hinata muttered before shaking what ever it was off. "I have the sudden urge to kill a blonde shinobi, and I don't know why."
Tsunade Senju, famous blonde medic and female member of the Legendary Sannin from Konoha, was doing her favorite therapy session, gambling. It wasn't so much the thrill or winning or loosing money that made it therapy. Instead it was the only time she was able to slowly unlock memories hidden deep within her brain. It was deep in the memories of her loved ones when she felt it.
It, being the spine-tingling sensation that shinobi lived to embrace, the trigger that could sometimes mean the difference between life and death. The sensation was acute and powerful enough to break the legendary Sannin from her concentration, and bringing her screeching back into reality.
"Tsunade-sama, are you listening to me?" Shizune a young woman of twenty-five asked her mentor. Tsunade's normal vacant eyes widened as awareness brought a light that Shizune hasn't felt in years.
"Shizune" Tsunade's rich velvet voice commanded. "Let's go to Konoha next month for the annual Chounin Exams. We can visit old friends and family before we go traveling again."
"Really Tsunade-sama" Shizune bounced giddily, as if she was a child again being given a rare treat. "I'm going to go pack and make sure TonTon is done with her vet visit. There's so much to do" Shizune trailed off to get ready to leave. For the first time in eighteen years, she was going home.
Tsunade placed her last ball into the pinco machine, getting ready to leave when a loud siren began flashing over head. Eyes widening, her mouth dropped as the machine began emptying its content of balls into the awaiting bucket below.
"Congratulations Tsunade-sama" the portly owner of the casino said, making his way through the crowd to the stunned Sannin. "You won the jackpot, what would you like to do with the money? Care to try a game of poker perhaps?"
"Cash it out, and bring it to my room. We are leaving soon, as urgent business has came up." Tsunade turned on her heel heading to her room. She had some packing to do.
If the fact that someone was enough of a threat that Tsunade felt the tingle, and she won a game. It was time to leave, for something bad was going to happen. She only hoped she could make it to Konoha in time.
Deidara was sitting at a long table along with his fellow Akatsuki members. Various papers were placed in front of the group each showing different graphs, demographics and supply lists. In short the Akatsuki was having its yearly budget meeting and Kakuzu was in his prime.
"As you can see by this chart here on page 3-C, the spending of Akatsuki as an organization is starting to cut into our coffers and at the current expenditure rate we are going at, our savings will be wiped our in the next two years. This is completely unacceptable. We should be set for the next twenty years but we are spending money for completely trivial things."
"What are you proposing Kakuzu" Pein commanded from the head of the table. The meeting had been going on for the last two hours and everyone was getting tired.
"I propose we enter a few contests and return a few more bounties to raise our coffers to a healthy level. I would suggest we also cut out unnecessary spending. I understand toilet paper is a necessity, but it doesn't have to be three-ply and make your ass smell like roses. The cheap stuff will work just as well."
"What kind of contests, yeah" Deidara asked clasping his hands on the table. The contests were usually pretty stupid, like the cookie sale they had. How were they to compete against a group called the Girl Scouts, sad to say the Akatsuki got stomped that day?
"There is an art contest along with a volleyball tournament going on in Whirlpool coming up in a couple of weeks. According to the rules only two man teams may enter and they cannot enter in any other division. For example, if Deidara and Sasori enter the art contest they can not enter the volleyball contest."
"Why do you have to be a two man team to enter?" Kisame's gravely voice asked from beside Itachi. The two were secretly playing hangman with each other under the guise of taking notes.
"Kisame, Whirlpool is an old ninja village that no longer has any ninja. Instead it is the only place in the Elemental Nations that chakra and jutsu's are voided. Because of this it puts ninja's and civilians on an even playing ground. The two man teams are for teamwork, a thing Whirlpool has prided itself on for years." Itachi explained, drawing a head on the noose for Kisame's 'D' guess.
"Good I propose that Itachi and Kisame for the Volleyball contest, as they have the best teamwork and I'm counting on everyone concentrating on Itachi in a swimsuit to even notice Kisame." Konan called out to the table.
She knew Pein was out to get Itachi, because of his good looks. It wasn't Itachi's fault that women flocked to him while ignoring everyone else around them. Still it stung a little, that Pein looked at everyone else instead of her.
"Then it's settled, Itachi and Kisame will enter the volleyball contest while Sasori and Deidara will enter the art contest. Everyone else will be turning in bounties. I want enough saved that in two months we can start capturing the bijou. That is all you're dismissed." Pein commanded before standing up, and exited the room first.
"Yeah, Sasori-danna, no we get to show the world our art" Deidara smiled before breaking out into a full body shiver. "It feels like someone is tap dancing on my grave" he muttered.
"Quit exaggerating Deidara, let's go pack. I want to get there early to see the competition." Sasori left wondering how he was going to move in Whirlpool. His body was a puppet controlled by chakra. How was he supposed to pull that off?
Deidara got his shivering under control by taking big, deep breathes of air. The killing intent directed at him from an unknown source was not a pleasant feeling. To be able to penetrate the Akatsuki fortress was a feat in and of it self. For the first time in a long time Deidara felt like the prey instead of the predator.
Temari stopped in front of an old toymakers workshop before knocking three times on the door. The old shop was where Chiyo taught Kankuro all about the making and using of puppets.
The toyshop was on the outskirts of the village just before the tall mountains that broke off completely to the ocean far below. Since the funding of Suna people have wanted access to the ocean below, but none were ever able to reach it.
"Temari what are you doing here?" A tall shinobi wearing a black jumpsuit with cat ears asked. His masculine face had purple markings on it showing his ranking in the puppeteer forces.
"Congratulations Kankuro you are officially on a Genin Team." Temari smiled at her brother noting the five o'clock shadow already growing on his face.
"Sweet, who's my sensei and teammates? About time some finally recognized the great Kankuro for what he was." Kankuro couldn't stop smiling. For the first time in all his nineteen years something had gone right. "I hope at least one of my teammates is a major hottie."
"I'm the Jounin-sensei" Temari smiled softly at her brothers' antics. He was finally able to progress farther in his ninja career, even if he didn't know it was for a war. "And your teammates are Gaara and Hinata. I guess you could consider us hotties, but that's incest."
Kankuro's face fell at hearing he was on a team with his siblings. "I'm on a team with the twins? Sweet Kami who would put us all on a team together. Is Hinata still technically a ninja?" Kankuro pushed his hat off his head and ran his hands through his burnt amber hair in frustration. "Not that I'm not thankful, I mean if she's not there who would be the one keeping Gaara under control, but now we have to protect her also?"
"Our esteemed leader the great Kazekage-sama, was the one who so graciously placed us on a team together." Temari couldn't help the sarcasm in her voice at mocking their father. "We have a month to perfect our teamwork before we take the Chounin Exams in Konoha" Temari leaned against the side of the building, knowing she would never be allowed inside.
"Have you let the Dastardly Duo know yet?" Kankuro wondered watching the sun set over the mountains. It was getting late, almost dinnertime by Suna standards.
"I had thought we could go together" Temari turned her to look at the sunset while Kankuro locked the door to the workshop and placed a couple of jutsu's on it.
"Then let's go before dinner so Hinata has to feed us." Kankuro rubbed his belly in anticipation. "Say what you will about Hinata being a ninja, but eating her home cooked meals are worth putting up with Gaara glaring at you for."
"Are you coming Temari? Temari?" Kankuro rushed to his sisters' side as she grabbed her head in pain, hoping to keep from blacking out. The fear induced pain was crippling as Temari was brought to her knees.
As fast as it came it was gone again. Slowly the spots that appeared disappeared from her eyes. That killer intent was painful and Temari briefly prayed to Kami about that it wasn't aimed at her.
"I'm fine Kankuro" Temari lifted herself up hating to look pathetic even in front of her brother. "I must be getting dehydrated." The lie passed her lips easily, as it was a common one used in Suna. "Let's go see the twins and tell them the news. Their apartment is this way."
Knowing Temari's fierce pride Kankuro nodded and took off after his sister. Whatever had affected her, he hadn't felt. But as a shinobi he didn't like the unknown.
Ino bit her lip in hopes to repress the moan that threatened to fall from her mouth, but it was getting to hard. Hard lips and the occasional teeth were nibbling on her neck, just below her right ear. She brought her hands up to grasp the dark black hair that occasionally fell in her eyesight. Torn between pulling his mouth closer or pulling away, incase he left a mark.
It became a moot point when hard, calloused hands came up and cupped her aching breasts in strong, calloused hands. Fingers kneed the mounds of flesh, occasionally rubbing over the aching point of her nipple. Her shirt lay forgotten on the floor, in a rumpled heap.
"Sa-sasuke…mmmmmmm" Ino couldn't help herself as the man pressed behind her began playing with her body, winding her up as tight as a fiddle. After two years of secretly dating, Sasuke knew just where to touch on her body to bring it to the end of desire instantly.
A caress here, a rub there, add trailing fingers through her hair and a sensual mouth on her neck and the tough Kunoichi Ino Yamanaka was putty in the masterful hands of Sasuke Uchiha.
Sasuke stopped his ministrations on Ino's neck, before turning her body around to begin using his sinful mouth on hers. His hands came up to undo the bane of his existence, her hair tie. Slowly as he plundered her mouth, he released the mound of pale, silky wheat.
The fallen tresses fell to just above Ino's backside, meeting the waist of her purple skirt. The silky wave was both Sasuke's delight and source of jealousy. Delight as he loved Ino's hair, more so than anything, jealousy because her hair was like a homing beacon calling all kinds of men to her side.
Rage and possession filled Sasuke as he thought about the newest guy vying for his girlfriends' attention. "Tell me Ino" Sasuke muttered pulling away from Ino's mouth to look into her dazed eyes. "Who do you belong to?"
Ino pondered the question before realization came to her mind. Sasuke always got like this when he thought someone wanted to get closer to the blonde. At school it was fine, because Sasuke was in the same class as her. But now that they've graduated and started beginning missions he's became possessive and insecure. It was slightly cute, but completely pointless.
There were a few truths in Ino Yamanaka's life and one was that she was madly in love with the stoic Uchiha. So in love in fact that their relationship was a secret between the two of them, it was only because of her love for him that she would allow the relationship to remain a secret. She wanted to scream it from the top of Hokage's Mountain, but refrained.
"Konoha, I belong to Konoha." Ino replied forcing steel into her voice. She knew what this was about and what Sasuke wanted, but she was tired of giving it to him. She trusted him, why didn't he trust her?
"Konoha?" Sasuke was stunned as he watched Ino reach down and grab her shirt and bra before pulling them on. Normally she would make the act look exotic, as if putting on a show for the man in front of her.
"Yes, Konoha, Sasuke, I belong to Konoha. I am a kunoichi and heir to the Yamanaka clan. I am whatever my village needs me to be to protect it." Ino reached into her kunai pouch to grab her brush with an extra hair tie wrapped around the handle. Swiftly she ran the brush through her hair before pulling it up into its trademark ponytail.
"That's not what I meant and you know it" Sasuke clenched his fists as Ino put her brush away, and began straightening her clothes. What had gone so wrong? He normally didn't have this reaction what he asked her about this. Normally she told him she belonged to him. What happened damn it?
"What you want me to tell you I belong to you, Sasuke? Is that what you want?" Ino's hands flew to her hips as she began to lean towards Sasuke in anger. Her temper wasn't always blown but when it did it simmered. Her normal pale blue eyes darkened as if lit by a fire.
"You know what Sasuke; you already know my answer to that. Two years we have been together Sasuke. Two years and you're still scared shitless about some nobody talking to me." Ino began pacing much to the silent amusement of Sasuke. When Ino lost her temper it was a sight to behold. Her whole body almost seemed to glow with hidden rage.
"I was fine when we first got together and you didn't want anyone to know. I didn't have a problem with the fan girls trying to follow you around to find out your underwear preference. I didn't freak out more than normal when on the last day of school you accidentally kissed Naruto Uzumaki, even though I wanted to laugh my ass off." Sasuke cringed at being reminded of kissing the Dobe. Sure they were slightly friends, at least the closest guy friend Sasuke had, but that didn't mean he wanted to kiss him either.
"But the minute that someone expresses an interest with me that I wouldn't give the time of day to you do this shit. What do you expect Sasuke; you don't want anyone to know that we are dating. Fine, but then you can't throw a fit the minute someone comes up and flirts with me or tries to ask me out. You can't fault them for not knowing we are dating, so your possessive boyfriend bit is getting old." Ino stopped pace and turned to look at Sasuke.
"You know I try not to have a problem when Sakura hangs all over you and declares her love for you. The reason why is because I trust you Sasuke, and I know she doesn't know we are dating. What I really want to do is beat her up and tell her to keep her hands to herself, but I won't" Ino's voice had softened as the thought of her friend. "She's finally starting to come into her own as a kunoichi, instead of just a fan girl and I don't want to hinder that."
"The point is Sasuke, if you want people to know I'm off limits. Do something about it. But this possessive shit your on, needs to stop. I love you, but I'm getting to my end. I'm going home; you have a mission to Wave in the morning. I don't need to distract you from that. Goodbye Sasuke." Without a look behind her Ino exited the house and began walking through the empty Uchiha Compound.
Instead of going through the front gate, she turned into the forest to walk towards the rivers edge. The river was still technically on the Uchiha property, and as such was left alone. Ino sat on the waters edge watching what remained for the day pass before her.
The sunset went unwatched as tears began to fall from her ice blue eyes. It was in her remorse that she felt it. Her senses were going wild as she looked around for an enemy only to find none. Sending her chakra out only to find no one there, but that was impossible. The rage was stronger than anything she had ever felt before, and she was hoping to get into the Interrogation Squad once she reached Chounin.
The intensity of the chakra kept rattling her until she her body broke out into uncontrollable shakes and shivers. Her vision went black as she passed out under the pressure of the chakra.
Naruto Uzumaki was blissfully eating a bowl of ramen at Ichiraku's, the Ramen Mecca of the world, at least according to him that was. His thoughts were all over the place as they normally were. The voice he kept hearing in his head wasn't in fact his conscience, but the demon nine-tailed fox that wrecked havoc upon Konoha years before. Oh yes that gives someone warm and fuzzy feelings.
Now he didn't have to worry about being crazy, instead he had to put up with a psychotic killer. Naruto didn't know what was worse, being raised by a demon fox, bent on causing chaos at every turn, or knowing that said fox was the only one who took the time to teach him the difference between right and wrong. Definitely warm fuzzy feelings.
"Hey it's not like I've been telling you to release me from my prison, or wreak havoc am I?" Kyuubi muttered from his cage, as he filled out the dreaded Kage killer: paperwork. "In fact I have only asked for three things with you. One was not to die. Death is not an option and personally I don't want to die yet I have things to do. The second was for you to eat the occasion rabbit, and I even agreed it could be cooked, so not to offend your" Kyuubi shuddered at the third bowl of ramen Naruto was eating "delicate palette. A demon must survive on more than ramen alone, and since you're not feeding me blood. Well I will take the rabbit. The third was the most important and to one day go to Suna and allow me to apologize to Shukaku, or rather the vessel of Shukaku, for various things."
'I know I know Kyuubi, you've been engraving those rules in my head for years, I could recite them in my sleep. That being said what you think about the whole kiss with Sasuke thing. I mean it was really nice, but I still think Sakura's cute. I don't know what to do.' Naruto was lamenting. Sure he thought Sakura was cute in a pixyish way, but Sasuke was gorgeous in an eternal beauty type of way. He had just never thought of another guy like that before until he kissed one.
He was so confused. He would love to kiss Sasuke again but felt like he was betraying Sakura in his heart. On the other hand Sakura was a girl, a pretty one at that, and it was considered socially acceptable to like girls, although among the ninja ranks homosexual relations were not frowned upon.
Naruto sighed in confusion not knowing what to do. His sexuality was at stake here, and he was in unknown depths, without a life preserver.
"Your bi Naruto, now stop worrying and stop thinking about a kiss from two years ago with the damned Uchiha. I can't concentrate with all your jumbled thoughts." Kyuubi muttered before glaring evilly at the stack of paperwork on his desk. Did it just grow while he blinked? Narrowing his eyes Kyuubi mentally shot flames towards the stack of papers wanting for it to catch fire.
Sadly the paper did no such thing. In fact if it could Kyuubi would say the paper was mocking him. The Flames of Hell were under his control and paperwork would not burn. Kyuubi knew he had been defeated, by the one thing that had killed many before him. For the umpteenth time that day he wondered why he strove as hard as he did for his ninth tail, only to be killed by the paperwork.
"What's bi mean?" Naruto questioned mechanically eating his ramen while conversing with the Demon King. To outsiders he looked like any normal quite person enjoying a quick lunch. To those who knew Naruto, it was an oddity. The normally loud mouth shinobi was hardly ever silent.
With a giant sigh Kyuubi explained knowing that the only way to get to the paperwork was to actually answer Naruto so he could work. "Bi stands for bisexual, as in two sexes. It means you like both guys and girls." Kyuubi watched Naruto open his mouth to ask a question before cutting him off. "Yes you can like both genders. In fact it's not uncommon. Even I myself am bisexual, as there is only one guy I have ever loved, but my stupidly let him get away."
"One day I will explain who and why Naruto but not now. In fact that ramen girl is talking to you." Kyuubi picked up his feathered quill and gentle placed it in the inkpot. With a sign Kyuubi grabbed the first sheet and began reading before making the necessary corrections with his pen. Once corrected the document went into the outbox bin where it instantly disappeared into Demon Realm to be fixed, edited or filed.
"Naruto are you listening? I swear you go off into your own little world sometimes. I wonder what's so fascinating in that place you go to." Ayame asked leaning against the counter looking at the absent look on Naruto's face. She knew more often then not that he was talking to Kyuubi, but sometimes she wondered.
"I'm sorry Ayame-chan, I was just thinking." Naruto smiled before putting his hand behind his head. She knew it was a defense mechanism that he's had since he was younger. She had known the young Uzumaki since he was five and at that time he has been a brother to the older girl.
Kanaka Ichiraku was once an ANBU captain who fell in love with a woman, whose family owned a tea house at The Corners. It was the only place in all the shinobi nations that four of the main nations touched, and the tea house was located on that point. Fights and arrests were not permitted there, making it truly a safe haven. Kanaka on many of his trips home had come to fall for the owners daughter of that little tea house and married her.
At the whim of his wife, Kanaka opened Ichiraku's as a wedding present. That she worked at faithfully and happily while Kanaka worked when he didn't have missions. The restaurant was small, but clean with shinobi friends as customers. A few years later Kanaka took a young prodigy apprentice in ANBU named Ibiki Morino, giving Kanaka missions closer to home.
That year his wife had given birth to Ayame, whom they named after Kanaka's deceased mother. When Ayame was two his wife rushed back to her parents to take care of her sick father, leaving Ayame in the care of her father, with the occasional help from Ibiki, who had became an older brother to the young girl.
A few days later word came about the destruction of the tea house, where everyone was killed. Kanaka's wife was no different. She had made it in time, to be murdered along with her family. That night Kanaka left ANBU only taking missions in extreme cases to work in the restaurant full-time and raise his daughter, who had no chakra to speak of. She was a civilian just like her mother.
When Ayame was seven she had met five year old Naruto Uzumaki at the park, and took him home to meet her father. Kanaka still having contacts in ANBU knew exactly who the malnourished little blonde boy was. After a few days of Naruto's presence Kanaka grew to love him, along with his daughter and wanted to adopt him.
He was denied under the claim that he still had living relatives, which would have to sign over custody of the young boy. When they expressed an interest, Sarutobi took it upon himself to take Naruto to the restaurant once a week, but refused to allow them to have any further contact with the blonde outside of that. He didn't want Naruto to get too close to the family incase his grandparents came back to Konoha.
By the time Naruto started the shinobi academy they were allowed to see the boy more often, but by then Naruto had forgotten they wanted to adopt them. Or that it was Ayame who taught the younger boy to read. Instead they were just people that he was fond of.
That didn't stop the Ichiraku's from allowing the blonde into their hearts. On his birthdays Kanaka silently donned his old ANBU uniform and guarded the young boy from villagers and shinobi alike, out to hurt the innocent child. Ayame got him Christmas presents, and birthday gifts along with stocking food into his fridge when he was away. The whole time Naruto thought it was the Hokage's doing. He had people who loved him and didn't even know it.
Kyuubi was aware though. He was considered King of the Underworld after all. He had minions and followers even. The entire nine-tailed bijou was considered Gods by human standards. Each bijou had a job; a purpose as you will that eventually got picked up by other nations. Kyuubi was the King of the Underworld, as the most powerful Demon of them all he ruled Hell.
In ancient times he would have been called Hades, but demons knew that wasn't true. His grandfather had been the original Hades. As time passed he was no longer stuck in Hell for all eternity. That cursed passed with his grandfather. The minions he controlled at his command were in fact his clan, the Demon Foxes. Hell ran pretty much on its own only with the occasional issue, and a lot of paperwork.
When he had found out what the Ichiraku's were doing, Kyuubi sent a representative to talk to the family about Naruto's previous psychological issues at being denied the chance for family. With there understanding he sealed Naruto's memories of that time, to stop him from spiraling further into depression promising that the seal will release when he turned eighteen. That was last summer, since then Naruto had come to terms with his missing family, and claimed them as such, even Kyuubi added them as honorary members of the Demon Foxes.
"So what were you saying nee-chan?" Naruto asked slowly slurping his noodles from the special ramen bowl the Ichiraku's had just for him. Painted orange with his name printed right on it.
"Hana Inuzuka and I won the sand Volleyball tournament that we had last week and we've been selected to play in Whirlpool. We were the only team selected to go." Ayame examined excitedly. Ayame was going to Fire Country College for Business Management. She had a duel scholarship for both academics and volleyball. It was there that she met and became friends with the Inuzuka heir.
Hana was already a Chounin and in the last year of Veterinary School. She had already reached doctor status in the shinobi world by healing injuries with chakra. Hana decided to take it one step further and learn traditional healing methods incase her chakra should ever fail. Sometimes it could mean the difference between life and death, as her deceased grandma told her.
"That's great nee-chan when are you leaving?" Naruto gave his older sister a hug in happiness. He tried to make the games the college had, but since it was a civilian college and located a couple hours away in the Capital, Naruto didn't get to make many of them.
Ayame like the other villagers from Konoha took the public carriages to the capital and back. She would have took the train, but it didn't come anywhere near the Hidden Village leaving it's location a closely guarded secret.
"Tomorrow morning Hana and I have to ride the carriages to the Capital, and then we take the train to Whirlpool. We have two days to practice, then we have the tournament and the winners win fifty thousand dollars." Ayame smiled again showing the dimple in her left cheek. It was only when she was truly happy and excited that it showed.
"I know you can win nee-chan. You and Hana are the best in the village after all" Naruto grinned cheekily. "Too bad we're leaving for Wave in the morning. I would love to go and watch you play. Is Dad going to take pictures?"
"No unfortunately Dad can't go, but he did make sure that the Genin squad that's protecting us takes a lot of photos."
"Who's team is escorting you?"
"Some older team of Genin's, you know the twin green spandex duo. That team. Dad knows the instructor and he requested he takes a lot of photos." Ayami shrugged her shoulders. "He's a nice guy and all, just kind of weird."
Naruto was going to comment about Konoha's Green Beasts when he felt it. The sensation was piercing and numbing at the same time. His body froze and lungs constricted making breathing difficult.
Naruto's normal tan skin paled at the deadliness of it. It was scary and evil, and he had a Demon Lord sealed inside of him. Naruto fought to himself upright and from passing out under the pressure.
Kyuubi felt the disturbance in his cage. Looking up from the massive amount of papers on his desk, he said only one thing that summed up that source of anger: "Shukaku."