Naruto Fan Fiction ❯ Colors of Life and Death ❯ Into the Fire ( Chapter 21 )

[ T - Teen: Not suitable for readers under 13 ]
Please read and review. I love reviews! Thanks!

Ganshou literally translates to Magma.

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Naruto yawned, sat up and scratched the back of his neck. "Damn. What time is it?" he thought as he turned his head toward the clock. "Eight-o-clock already?" He put on his indoor slippers and shuffled off to the bathroom.

As he gazed into the mirror he studied his looks. "I wonder what I'd look like with a ponytail?" he thought as he pulled back the hair that was hanging down at the nape of his neck.

A knock sounded on Naruto's bedroom door. "Naruto-kun, breakfast!" yelled Nabiki's voice.

"Hai!" Naruto yelled back through the closed bathroom door. After he'd finished his morning routine he got dressed and headed downstairs.

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As Izumi handed Naruto his bowl of breakfast themed ramen he looked up at Tsunade. "Neh, Baa-chan?"

Tsunade flinched at the use of Naruto's nickname for her, but realized that it would probably take a while for him to stop using it completely. "Mm?"

"Do you think I'd look good with a ponytail?"

Tsunade choked a bit on her bite of sausage. "What brought that on?" she asked.

Naruto shrugged. "I dunno. Maybe a new look to go with the new voice?"

"Hmmm. You know what? I say go for it. I think it'll look nice," Tsunade answered with a wide smile.

Naruto smiled and slurped up some of his ramen. "I better just go ahead and tell her. If Hinata and me just show up holding hands it'll be ten times worse," he thought. After a few mouthfuls he put his chopsticks on the table. "Baa-ch...Kaasan, if I tell you something, do you promise not to make fun of me?"

"I'll try my best," Tsunade said honestly.

Naruto took a deep breath. "I asked Hinata to be my...." For some reason he felt too embarrassed to say the word girlfriend, so he simply put up his pinkie finger instead.

Tsunade's mouth hung open for a few seconds "Oh-my-God," she said with a grin as she folded her arms. "It's about damn time. I was starting to think you'd stay dense about her forever," she said with a laugh.

Naruto looked a bit irked at her comment. "Dammit. I knew she couldn't resist."

"Of course she accepted," Tsunade predicted.

Naruto was still annoyed that she had laughed, but at least his mother hadn't teased him as badly as he thought she would. "Yeah," he said with a small smile.

Tsunade smiled broadly. "So..." she said with an eyebrow wiggled, "Have you kissed her yet?"

Naruto's cheeks reddened. "Baa-chaaaaan!!" he yelled indignantly.

Tsunade chuckled. "Seriously though, since you have a girlfriend now, I need to ask you a few, um...things," she said with some discomfort.

Naruto gulped. He didn't like the sound of that.

Tsunade let out a long puff of air. "I suppose there's really no easy way to do this...How much do you know about sex?"

Naruto's eyes increased in size ten fold. He also stiffened and turned bright red. "Do we...have to talk about that?" he said, barely getting the words out.

"I need to have an idea of what I'm dealing with." Tsunade sighed. "Would it be easier if I just asked you 'yes or no' questions?"

Naruto nodded his head rapidly.

"Okay. Well, you obviously know the anatomical differences between the sexes so we can skip that part. Do you know the basic way sex works?"

Naruto swallowed and nodded his head.

Tsunade visibly relaxed and sighed. "Thank God. Um...are there any questions you want to ask me?"

At the realization that the talk was much shorter than he had feared, Naruto relaxed at little. After his skin had regained a bit of its normal color he spoke. "Ummm," he managed in a small voice.

Tsunade scratched her temple. "Alright then, I just have one favor to ask you. Wait until you're at least sixteen for this and please only do it with a girl you love more than life itself. Sex with someone you don't love is empty and meaningless."

Naruto seemed to consider this for a moment. "Okay," he said with a small smile.

Tsunade chuckled, partially from relief and gave the boy a hug. "Thank you." She sat back up. "Anyway, let's finish breakfast. I have some paper work I have to get to or Shizune will never leave me alone about it," she finished with a grumble.

Naruto nodded and the two resumed eating.

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Tsunade yawned and glanced up at the clock. "Hmm, ten of." She looked down at the papers on her desk. "Good thing I'm almost done with this."

As if on cue, ninjas began to come through the doors at that very moment. Naruto and company filed in after about five minutes and got in the assignment line. Just as their turn came around Hiashi barged into the office.

Tsunade stiffened. Although she respected his abilities, she had never cared for the man. "Hiashi?"

Hiashi looked over at Naruto and Hinata, who were holding hands and glared. He turned his attention back to the Fifth. "I need to speak with you on an urgent matter," he said as he walked up to the assignment table. "In private," he said in a low voice.

Tsunade cocked an eyebrow and frowned. "Alright, but make it quick. I have assignments to hand out," she informed him as she stood and gestured for him to follow her. The two walked into a small office that branched off the assignment room. Once she shut the door she sat down behind the desk at the back and waved a hand at the empty chair in front. "So...What do I owe the pleasure of this visit, Hiashi-kun?" she said in an insulting tone as Hiashi occupied the previously empty chair.

Hiashi gritted his teeth at the insult, but bit his tongue. He eh-hemmed. "I came here to ask you about a rumor I heard this morning, but just coming here confirmed it," he said with a set jaw.

Tsunade looked at the ceiling in irritation. "Get to the point, kid. I don't have all day."

Hiashi's frown deepened, but he controlled his temper. "I want you to forbid your...son from seeing Hinata."

"Oh you do, do you?" Tsunade replied as she folded her arms.

"This has nothing to do with him having been the Kyuubi's container. That boy is a bad influence."

Tsunade was growing more irritated by the second. "How so?" she asked in a warning tone.

"He's rude, loud and uncivilized. I don't want Hinata associating with him. Even more than that...I don't want him wandering around town, in public, holding her hand," Hiashi said as though the idea sickened him.

Tsunade had had enough. She glared at him menacingly. "Naruto is kind, brave and a better person than you will ever be. And he may not be the most socially practiced person in the world, but at least he's not a pompous ass!"

Hiashi stood from his chair. "How dare you!" he said with balled fists.

"As far as I'm concerned, Naruto can date whom ever he likes." Tsunade's hand shot forward and grabbed the front of Hiashi's outfit. She pulled him toward her so that she was inches from his face. "Count your self lucky that there are people beyond that door," she whispered with a dangerously sweet smile.

Hiashi let out an angry breath as Tsunade released him. "You have no right to command what rules I lay down for my child!" he said angrily.

"I have every right. And be glad I don't involve myself further with your family's rules. Quite frankly, many of your "traditions" disgust me. Now get out of my sight," Tsunade commanded as she pointed at the door.

Hiashi gritted his teeth and left the room. As he walked past Naruto and Hinata he gave one final glare of anger before leaving. "Damn her."

Tsunade came from the small office and resumed her position at the assignment table.

"W...what did my father say?" Hinata asked nervously.

Tsunade smiled. "Don't you worry about it. I straightened him out," she said with a wink.

Hinata looked unsure, but nodded anyway.

"Now, what I have for you four is B rank." Tsunade handed Naruto a manila envelope. "Give that to Kakashi. Unfortunately, thanks to Hinata's father I don't have the time to explain the mission personally," she finished with a frown.

"Got it," Naruto replied as the four teens turned and walked away. Just as they were about to go out the door they heard Tsunade's voice.

"Naruto, I almost forgot. Come back here for a sec," she said.

The others looked at Naruto in question. He shrugged and walked back to his mother.

Tsunade gestured for Naruto to come in close. "I want you and Hinata in separate sleeping bags," she whispered.

Naruto grimaced. "What kind of pervert do you think I am?" he hissed back to her.

Tsunade smiled. "I think you're a fourteen year old boy, that's what. Now get out of here," she said as she pointed toward the door with her head.

Naruto swallowed and returned to his friends. "What did Tsunade-sama want?" Sakura asked.

Naruto's face suddenly resembled a tomato. "Nothing," he said quickly. "Let's go."

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Kakashi raised his eyebrows at the contents of the mission assignment envelope, which he had just finished reading. "Well, it looks like we are off to Ganshou city."

Sakura was instantly excited. "The capital??"

"Yup," Kakashi said as his eyes crinkled with his smile.

Sakura jumped up and jabbed a fist into the air. "YATTA!"

"Sakura-chan?" Hinata questioned, confused at her current teammate's reaction.

"It's a city, Hinata! Do you understand what that means?" Sakura answered excitedly.

Hinata shook her head.

"Dance clubs, sixteen screen movie theaters, all the best clothing shops and karaoke bars!" Sakura said with a happy twirl as she finished.

Kakashi's eyes became more serious. "Sakura, we are going there to work, not play."

Naruto, who wasn't really interested in any of the things Sakura had mentioned, folded his arms and nodded his head with an affirmative, no-nonsense grunt.

Sakura turned to her blond comrade. "They have gourmet ramen shops," she said, hoping she could tempt him.

Naruto's eyes widened. "Ramen?!" he said suddenly giving Kakashi the same pitiful look Sakura had a moment before.

Hinata giggled and Sasuke made a derisive grunt as he rolled his eyes.

Kakashi sighed. "Maybe we can stay a little after the mission."

"YATTA!" Naruto and Sakura yelled in unison.

Sasuke groaned and hung his head. "What's our mission?"

"We are to evict a gang that has moved in recently. Apparently they're too much for the city police to handle," Kakashi explained.

"Ninjas?" Hinata asked.

"Well, they know a few techniques, but they're not a clan," Kakashi said with a shrug.

Sasuke smirked. "Heh. Godaime gave something that simple a 'B' rank?"

Kakashi frowned. "Never assume your enemy is weaker than you. That kind of thinking will get you killed."

Sasuke glared at his sensei.

Kakashi cracked his knuckles, earning a disgusted grimace from Sakura. "Now, go get your gear. I'll meet you by the city gates in twenty minutes."

"Hai!" the teens shouted as they shot off in multiple directions.

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Naruto was a bit irritated that he was the last one to arrive. It couldn't be helped though. Tsunade's house was further from the gate than his apartment had been. "Yo!" he called in greeting.

Hinata turned around at her boyfriend's voice. "Naruto-kun," she said with a smile.

"Hey Hinata-chan," Naruto replied as he slipped his hand into hers.

Eyebrows rose all around. "Does this mean what I think it does?" Sakura asked hopefully.

Naruto nodded and blushed. "Yeah," he said as he scratched the back of his neck nervously.

"YATTA!" Sakura cheered. She gave Hinata a huge hug. "It's about time! Congratulations!"

Hinata smiled shyly. "Thank you."

Sasuke gave a nod of approval. "Nice work, Dobe."

Naruto twitched. "Can't you ever say something nice to me without adding an insult?"

"Hmph," Sasuke remarked with a smirk.

Naruto was about to make a retort when Kakashi interrupted. "Eh hem. We really do need to get going. It's a two day walk."

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The sun was beginning to fall lazily behind the horizon as Kakashi's team went about setting up their tents. "Naruto, hand me that stake over there," Kakashi instructed.

Naruto looked to where his sensei was pointing, grabbed the stake and handed it to him. He saw Hinata taking out her sleeping bag and suddenly Tsunade's words came back to him. (("I want you and Hinata in separate sleeping bags....")) Naruto's face took on a distinct crimson color as he shook his head in an attempt to rid himself of the heat building in his chest.

"Alright," Kakashi said as he stood up from finishing the second tent. "Sakura, Hinata and Naruto. You take this tent. Sasuke and I will take the first one." The teens nodded and put their gear into their assigned tents.

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Naruto was having a hard time sleeping. He hadn't been on a mission in almost three months, thanks to various factors, and it was driving him crazy that he wouldn't see any action for at least five more days. He turned his head to his right. Hinata slept soundly, her chest rising and falling with each gentle breath.

Naruto propped up his head on his right hand and just watched her sleep. It wasn't long before he found his breathing falling into her rhythm. His eyelids began to feel heavy and he fell into a peaceful slumber, Hinata having been the last thing he saw before he closed his eyes.

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"Naruto-kun, wake up," Hinata said, gently shaking her boyfriend.

Naruto opened his eyes to see Hinata staring down at him. The morning sunlight was pouring through the open tent flap behind her, giving her an ethereal glow. He found himself unable to move or speak, for fear of loosing that moment.

"Naruto-kun, are you okay?" Hinata asked with concern.

Naruto blinked backed his reverie and smiled. "I'm fine." He yawned. "Morning, Hinata-chan."

"Good morning, Naruto-kun. Kakashi-sensei is making breakfast," Hinata said, holding out her hand.

Naruto happily took Hinata's hand. "Great. I'm starved."

Hinata and Naruto left the tent and found their seats around the campfire. Kakashi handed out bowls and everyone dug in.

Sasuke was deep in thought as he ate his food. He'd been trying to think of something to say to Sakura, but nothing came to mind. "I hate this. Is she ever going to be comfortable around me again?" He sighed heavily, took his last bite of rice and left the group.

Naruto was about to grab seconds when he saw his brother walking off into the woods. "I wonder what's up?" he thought. He turned to Hinata, who he'd been sitting next to. "I'll be right back," he said, blushing as he gave her a kiss on the top of her head. He ignored Sakura's impish smile and headed in Sasuke's general direction.

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"He's on his way to Ganshou city. There are four others with him, including Kakashi...and Sasuke...."

Orochimaru snorted. "I have no more interest in that brat as a vessel. Naruto is my only concern now." He picked up a glass of water and took a sip. "Did your mission go well?" he asked Kabuto as a bead of sweat on the glass rolled downward and fell onto the table.

"Hai, Orochimaru-sama. He has agreed to retrieve Naruto for us. However, he also told me that he will only do it if we stay out of Akatsuki business," Kabuto replied.

Orochimaru cocked an eyebrow in curiosity. "Oh really?" He put his glass back on the table. "Well I supposed we can comply...for a short period of time," he said with a contemptuous smile.

"Hm," Kabuto remarked with a smirk as he pushed his glasses higher on his nose "I'll inform him of your decision," he said with a half bow.

Orochimaru nodded. "Go," he commanded.

"Hai," Kabuto said just before walking away.

Orochimaru rose from his chair and left the room as well. He walked down the hall a bit and opened a heavy steel door. He went inside and smiled cruelly at the six summon creatures who lay still as death in their respective sealed cages. "Everything is finally falling into place."

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"Orochimaru-sama has agreed to your terms," Kabuto said with a tiny, barely respectful bow.
"Then I will leave in the morning. That is all," replied the man who stood in the shadows.
Kabuto gritted his teeth a bit at the man's insolence, but bowed again anyway. "Hai, Itachi-san."
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I love cliff hangers. *Runs*