Naruto Fan Fiction ❯ Training for the Job ❯ Volume 3 Chapter 16 ( Chapter 26 )

[ Y - Young Adult: Not suitable for readers under 16 ]
Volume 3 Notes: Regarding some questions as to whether Shikamaru would, believably, underestimate Naruto to that degree. Yes, I think he might -- as he did during the chuunin exams in canon. It wasn't so much that he 'overlooked' Naruto's pawns, as he was dismissing Naruto as not being able to come up with a good way to use those pawns, and so didn't bother to counter Naruto's movements until he realized it was too late. The biggest weakness of Shikamaru's strategies has always been that he relies on his opponents to act as he predicts they will... so, if he goes up against someone completely unpredictable (like Naruto), he's in serious trouble. He 'predicted' that Naruto wouldn't have enough experience with chess to realize just how valuable pawns were, and so saw what Naruto wanted him to see -- the pawns, he thought, were being moved out of the way, and not deliberately placed. Writing about this game was almost as much about Shikamaru's weaknesses as it was Naruto's tactics, but I don't THINK Shikamaru's weaknesses will become an important point in the future of this story. Possibly in the not-fully-plotted-out-and-yet-to-be-started side story, however. Also about Shikamaru... his becoming an academy teacher is an anime-only filler. It has not happened in the manga, and so hasn't happened here. The current spate of fillers... are, um, crap, so I'm not going to include them as part of canon for purposes of the fic. (In fact, any filler episodes 101 or later are not to count as canon. That small part of episode 101 which was covered in the special manga (i.e., up to the Ichiraku incident) isn't exactly filler in my mind, but is located in a different timeframe -- in the manga, there shouldn't be any point after Kakashi and Sasuke recover where team 7 is working together. And filler episodes before 101... well, I don't remember any in particular, so they must have been blended in well enough for me not to notice, so I suppose they could be canon as well) As I said I would do at the end of last chapter, I pushed the rating up to M, for innuendo and... other things. Enjoy.
Chapter 16
"...And that's what Hana-chan said I should do," Sakura was saying. She was eating lunch with Ino at a ramen joint -- one Naruto was not known to frequent -- and the two were gossiping about a lot of things. Right now, the topic was Sakura's practice giving non-theraputic massages under the instruction of the only kunoichi in Blossom to have had any formal courtesan training -- a woman who, only a month before, she was suspecting of being a serious romantic rival. "I'm pretty sure I'm not going to be giving that 'happy ending' which Hana stressed was entirely optional, given my... situation, but the rest of it seems to make sense."
"So," Ino mused. "You seem to feel a lot better about Hana-chan then you did a month ago, when you decided she was such a threat you had to move into Naruto's apartment in order to 'protect your claim,' as it were. Are you planning to move back in to my place any time soon?"
Sakura hesitated. Truthfully, she was enjoying her time at Naruto's -- there was a pleasant, 'domestic' air to living with him that Ino's apartment lacked. Still, it wouldn't do to become too comfortable... and, perhaps, she should move out of his place -- at least for a while -- after she finally gave him the massage. It wouldn't do for him to be expecting too much, after that, and if she moved back out it would reduce temptations on both their sides.
"Maybe," she hedged. "Hana is really not as bad as I thought. I... I admit, I was a bit paranoid, there."
"A bit?" Ino shot back, incredulously.
"Okay, a lot paranoid," Sakura admitted. "We'll see how this massage I've been training a month to give him goes, and decide then."
"So, when's the big night?" Ino asked, nudging her friend playfully.
"Well, we're both probably going to just want to collapse, after what we've got to do, tonight," Sakura sighed. "Hana-chan, Ebisu-san, and Genma-san asked us both to lead a practice session for their genin, if you recall correctly. Basic survival skills, nothing too fancy -- preparation for the chuunin exam, coming up in a couple months time. No sparring, just a lot of drills... tiring drills. We're going to be exhausted. Tomorrow night, though, we'll both have off -- we won't even have Academy classes to teach. Assuming no emergencies come up, I'll probably be willing to do it tomorrow."
Ino nodded. "Well... I hope you have a 'happy ending,' tomorrow, anyway." She dodged a swipe by her friend, then shrugged. "I'm off to give my class in Kunoichi training. Let me know how things turn out, okay?"
"I won't kiss and tell, so what makes you think I'll do something like that and tell, huh? And get your mind out of the gutter, Ino-pig -- you know why I'm not going to be doing anything like that, any time soon, right?"
"A girl can always hope," Ino laughed. "Good night, Sakura-chan."
"'Night, Ino-chan. See you soon."
Sakura returned to her bowl of ramen. She picked up one of the spiral-colored fishcakes her boyfriend was named for out of the bowl, staring at it for a moment. "What am I going to do with you, Naruto-kun?"
"What do you usually do with naruto?" the ramen dealer asked, startling her out of her thoughts. "You eat it!"
Sakura blushed. "I... um, I don't mean this naruto. I mean Naruto-kun, my boyfriend. You know, the blond ninja?"
The chef's eyes widened. "Oh, him. Sorry! Although I suggest you eat that naruto, before it gets cold."
"Thanks," Sakura laughed.
"But you know," the chef said, stroking his short beard thoughtfully, a sparkle in his eye. "I think my advice might work, even if you are talking about the Naruto-kun who is your boyfriend."
There was a pause.
That particular ramen stand went out of business shortly thereafter, unable to recover from the damages caused by the enraged kunoichi.
* * * * *
It was the night Sakura had said that she was giving the massage, and Ino was almost dying of curiousity. She'd spent some time seriously considering spying on them -- it would have been no challenge. All she would have had to do was find some unobtrusive animal, like a small bird or a squirrel, and put her mind in it. With that animal, she would have no problem looking into the windows surrounding Naruto's apartment -- including the one leading to Sakura's bedroom, which the girl had been setting up for the massage for weeks, now. However, knowing that Sakura had trusted her with the details -- and that meant all of the details -- of her preparation for the event, Ino felt that to spy on them would be a violation of their now truly rebuilt friendship.
Sighing, she turned to her meal. Since Sakura left, Ino hadn't really felt like cooking for one. Instead, she'd been relying on take-out and diet frozen meals, none of which were especially appetizing, but which would keep her from starving to death. It was lonely, living in that apartment on her own, and she missed her friend... but she also refused to begrudge her the happiness she had with Naruto. However, maybe she should start cooking for herself, again -- this stuff tasted almost inedibly bad.
She picked it up, uneaten, and walked into the sink. Dumping the food into the garbage disposal, she sighed -- another meal skipped. She might be on an eternal war with fat, but she really needed to eat more then she did before she started looking anorexic. She rinsed the plate off, and turned to put it in the dishwasher. What she saw caused her to drop her plate. It shattered the moment it struck the ground, but Ino didn't care.
There, in front of her, stood the traitor to Konoha and the last of his clan (save, perhaps, for his brother... who he intended to kill) -- Uchiha Sasuke.
"Ino," he growled. Ino took a good look at him, and was astonished at what change the three years had rendered. Even at sixteen, his once raven-black hair was streaked with grey. Scars decorated his face, the visible parts of his arms, his hands, and everywhere else Ino could see. The biggest change of all, however, were his eyes -- one eye looked like the sharingan, but not like the one Ino remembered. The other eye, however... that was not the same eye Sasuke had left Konoha with. Instead, it looked an awful lot like the eye of a snake poised to strike, and she couldn't stand to look into it. She felt fear -- great fear... the same great fear Sakura had showed her from Orochimaru's attack. She pulled the necessary courage from the Naruto psyche inside of her, and used it to bolster her own, freeing her from the trance of fear. She couldn't win a fight with him -- she knew that, right away -- but she could stand up to him, if only for a minute. Long enough to attract attention, and long enough, perhaps, for help to arrive... if she needed it.
"Sasuke...kun," she answered back. Much to Ino's disgust, she realized the same affection she had felt for him back when they were both Academy students was still intact, and now that the fear was gone it was warring with her disgust at the boy. "This is a bit of a surprise."
"Don't play with me," Sasuke warned. "Or I'll kill you. I want one thing -- Sakura. Where is she?"
"Why do you think I know?" Ino asked, a small bit of challenge still in her voice.
"She's supposed to live here," Sasuke snorted. "Don't stall -- where is she?"
Ino took a moment to evaluate her options. She could lie... and Sasuke would probably kill her, find out she was lying, and then go demand an answer from someone else. She could stall, and he'd probably kill her and then go demand an answer from somebody else. Or... she could tell the truth. He'd probably kill her, but at least he wouldn't go seeking an answer from someone else, killing them as well.
She swallowed. And, if she told the truth... well, he'd be walking right to the two people most prepared to fight him. "She moved out," Ino explained. "She now lives in Apartment 6."
Sasuke's eyes narrowed dangerously, his sharingan spinning out of control. "That... is Naruto's apartment. Don't fuck with me, woman -- tell me where Sakura is!"
"I'm telling the truth!" Ino insisted. "She moved in with Naruto a month ago. They've been dating for a while...."
"That treacherous bitch!" Sasuke growled. He spun, and with a single step to build momentum darted out of her apartment through the window in which he came.
Ino was shocked to be alive. That feeling of attraction she'd had to the boy was gone the moment he left the room, and in its place there was a fountain of disgust -- both at him and at herself. She knew what sort of a person he was, now, so why was she so... fired up, when he appeared? And... what did he want with Sakura, anyway? She'd have to go warn someone, and let them know Sasuke was in Blossom and moving in on Naruto's apartment... as soon as she could move her knees, again.
* * * * *
"When I said strip, Naruto-kun," Sakura smirked playfully. "I meant your underwear, too."
He gaped at her. "But... Sakura-chan! I... I..."
She laughed, and had mercy on him. "Here," she said, tossing him a towel -- a small one. "You can wrap yourself up in that. I'm warning you now, though -- it's coming off during the massage."
"I never even let the brothel girl do that!" Naruto protested.
"I'm not the 'brothel girl' -- I'm the woman you told her you'd remain loyal to," Sakura pointed out, smiling slightly. When Hana explained that part of the procedure, she had wondered if he had allowed that woman to actually give him a true full-body massage. Apparently not, it seemed. "And I told you, before: I'm giving you the best massage you've ever had -- which means even better then the one she gave you. Which means... the towel comes off before the end."
Naruto, blushing as red as one of Sakura's blouses, wrapped the towel around his waist before pulling his underpants off. Sakura was mildly disappointed at the chance to 'check out' that particular part of him he would be hiding even after she removed the towel, but she supposed she'd have to allow him to have his privacy. She shouldn't be looking at that, anyway, if she really wanted to remain loyal to Sasuke.
"Um... okay, I'm ready," Naruto said nervously.
"Good," Sakura said, that smirk staying on her face. Yes, she was nervous about this, too, but she had long since come to terms with it... and decided to just enjoy it. "Lie face-down on the bed, and we'll get started."
As Naruto awkwardly crawled into the bed, trying to keep the towel around his waist as he moved. Sakura, in the meantime, took out the three bottles of massage oils she'd taken from Naruto's 'special' kit. She checked the instructions on all three oils, frowning as she considered which to use first. She noticed the rose water scent recommended heating, first, so she stuck it in the microwave she'd installed in her bedroom. With a smirk returning to her face, she decided to try the cinnamon oil first.
She pulled off her own robe, revealing the two piece set of lingerie she'd chosen for this occasion. She had to compete with whatever that prostitute had decided to wear when she gave Naruto a massage, after all... although she wasn't willing to strip completely naked -- that would be going a bit too far for her to maintain the personal belief that she was being loyal to Sasuke. Naruto couldn't see what she was wearing... but he'd feel it.
She straddled his back and bent down to whisper in his ear. "Don't squirm too much, or else this might not be too pleasant for you."
Naruto, lost in the feeling of silk and lace covering soft skin sliding along his back, could do little more then murmer, "Mm hm."
She took out the cinnamon oil, pouring a generous amount on her hands. A devilish grin on her face, she started rubbing the oil into the skin of his back. At first, she knew, it would seem awfully cold to him... but then the cinnamon would start acting, and she couldn't wait until that happened. Her movements were long and slow -- quite different from the medical massages she had been taught. They usually required quick blows or short rubs... which would be a little out of place, Hana had pointed out, in a sensual massage. No, she had to rely on the pressure of her hand to work out the knots and kinks -- which was okay, as she was quite strong. A strong, steady pressure, well-oiled hands, and long strokes starting at the small of his back and travelling up to his shoulders without pause was best... and that was what Sakura delivered. As her hands moved up his body, she bent over him, ending each stroke with a kiss to the back of his neck.
"How's that?" she asked softly, remembering that she was supposed to keep him talking -- get him very relaxed, but don't let him sleep. Heep him talking by asking him what he liked and what he didn't. Those were Hana's instructions, and Sakura would carry them out to the letter.
"Warm," was all Naruto said in response.
She knew what he meant -- while she'd done her best to keep the cinnamon oil on her hands, some had rubbed off of him as she bent over, and she could experience some of the same heating effect, herself. It was a pleasant heat, though -- a nice, dull, warming heat. It could easily become painful if it went somewhere... more sensitive, however. She was more thankful then ever that she'd kept the bra and panties on.
Naruto's towel was coming off, however -- she was done with his back, and it was time to move... lower. She lifted herself onto her knees and pulled the towel -- which she had been sitting on -- off of him in a slow, sensual movement. "Here we go," she said softly. "You don't mind me doing this, after all, do you?"
"Uh uh," Naruto replied, too far gone to care.
"I didn't think you would," she cooed. Sliding down to straddle his thighs, making sure he could feel her progress my letting her silk panties maintain contact the whole journey, she smiled. His rear end was pretty good -- well muscled, clean, and smooth. She reached over to the microwave, opening it and changing the cinnamon oil for the hot rose-scented oil. In this region of the body, the cinnamon oil was risking perhaps a bit too much, considering its properties.
The rose water oil, however, started just warm enough -- the instructions on the bottle for microwave heating seemed to be quite effective. She poured some into her hands and started, this time going from the bend of his knee, where her own thighs rested, up over the curves of his buttocks. It didn't take long to have him fully oiled up, and her trails reversed themselves -- she started from the back of his neck, bending over so far that her chest was rubbing into his back, and made her stroke go all the way down, to the inside of his thighs, then all the way down to where her legs were straddling his.
By this point, Sakura was feeling rather 'warm,' herself. She set the rose-water oil down, and grabbed the orange flavored oil. She stared at it for a long moment -- this would be the perfect oil, if she were to give him that 'happy ending.' It was designed to be tasted, unlike the other two oils... and she'd probably be tasting it quite a bit for that 'happiness' to be given. That, however, she could never do and claim she was still being loyal to Sasuke... but, the way she was feeling, she wondered if she should even care. Perhaps... perhaps she shouldn't, after all.
"Naruto," she whispered, a slight thrill entering her. Nerves were definitely at their peak, at this moment, and she stuttered a little at what she said next. "T-turn over... please."
Before he could respond, or before Sakura could change her mind, a loud crash broke into their thoughts. They both immediately knew what that sound was -- someone had broken down their front door. The mood ruined and both now on the alert, they darted off the bed as fast as they could. Sakura quickly grabbed her robe and tossed it to Naruto -- his complete nudity was her fault, so he had more right to it then she did -- and reached for a brace of kunai hanging on her wall. A second crash drew attention to the fact that the bedroom door was also broken open.
There, standing in front of them -- and witnessing possibly the most embarrassing scene Sakura had ever felt herself to see him in -- stood the object of her affection for many years. "Hello... Sasuke-kun," she said.
* * * * *
"Oh, thank god!" Ino cried, stumbling into perhaps the best person to help Naruto present. The only ANBU agent in all of Blossom, Uzuki Yuugao. "Ma'am -- there's a Konoha missing nin in the village! Uchiha Sasuke has come, and he's on his way to Naruto-dono's apartment as we speak!"
The ANBU cocked her head, then sighed. "I suppose it's my duty to do something about it. Go inform Kakashi-sempai -- I'll do what I can."
Ino blinked as she sped off. That was... not at all the response she was expecting. Still, better to do as the woman said, and find Kakashi. He'd be able to get the alarm out much faster then she would.
* * * * *
The half-naked Sakura and the barely dressed Naruto both realized just how bad a situation they were in after that first second. Sakura looked into Sasuke's eyes, noting with sadness that the mangekyou sharingan appeared to have been activated somehow -- which didn't make much sense, since Naruto was still alive -- and wondering about herself. Where, she asked herself, are those feelings I felt all those years ago? I've been holding tight to them for just this moment, but why aren't I able to feel them now? Why, when I need it the most, is my dedication to Sasuke-kun missing?
"Sakura," the Uchiha nodded in greeting. "Dead last."
Naruto was on his guard -- and, unless Sakura missed her guess, the red behind his eyes indicated the kyuubi was as well -- but all three of them knew that Sasuke could kill them both if he wanted. Neither Sakura nor Naruto were prepared for an encounter like this, and Sasuke... was obviously stronger then either of them had believed possible in their worst fears.
"What do you want?" Naruto demanded, displaying his trademark bravado.
"I could care less about you," Sasuke replied unemotionally. "In the years since we last met, I have already found another dearest friend... and killed them."
Naruto stumbled back. "Wha--"
"I petitioned Orochimaru to allow me a chance," Sasuke began. "To fulfill my goals without becoming his container. He agreed, but the agreement was conditional."
"What were the conditions?" Sakura asked.
"He insisted he keep one of my eyes," Sasuke explained. "A sharingan eye, to be the hostage for my parole."
"Sakura," Sasuke said, cutting off Naruto as he stepped towards the pink-haired girl. "Do you still love me unconditionally?"
Naruto stiffened. Sakura knew that what she had to say would hurt him, but she had no choice. She knew the consequences of her actions... and she had known this was coming for months. She had to say the words she had been rehearsing for what seemed to be her whole life. "Yes. I love Sasuke-kun. Unconditionally."
A slight smirk appeared on Sasuke's face. "Dead last, again, eh, Naruto? Once more, you lose to me."
Naruto clenched his fists, but remained where he was. Only his eyes showed the pain he was in, but he hadn't even flinched at Sakura's pronouncement.
Inner Sakura was broiling mad. How can we stand by and let him do this to Naruto-kun? she asked her regular self. This is... is... cruel!
I know, Sakura replied in her mind. But you know why we have to accept it. He... he's not in his right mind, remember that.
"Well," Sasuke began. "Now... I am ready to hunt down Itachi, but there is something I must do first. Do you remember what the only other goal I had in life was, other then to kill my brother?"
"Yes," Sakura replied. "You want to restore the Uchiha clan."
"Yes... and that requires that I have children," Sasuke pointed out. "So, tell me, Sakura... do you love me enough to help me restore the Uchiha clan? We could start right now -- you are dressed for it, after all."
Sakura was about to answer, but Naruto seemed unable to take it any more. "Wait!" he cried.
"Do you intend to stop me?" Sasuke asked, amused.
"If Sakura chooses to love you, to be with you," Naruto said, "Then I will not stand in her way. If she doesn't, and you try something anyway... I'll kill you, even if I have to die to do it. Before she gives you that answer, though... I'm going to demand an answer to this: What does Orochimaru have to gain from you having a child?"
"Naruto, I'm impressed!" Sasuke sneered. "You do have a mind, after all. A very tiny one, but it seems you can think. Yes, he would not have let me pursue my own goals if he gained nothing from them, that is true. All I have to give up, if I wish to pursue my goals, is my first born to be raised as his container. But Sakura said she would love me unconditionally, didn't she?"
Sakura stiffened. "No, that's not what I said," she snapped, pulling out a pair of kunai. "I said I loved Sasuke-kun unconditionally. But you... you are not Sasuke-kun. Sasuke-kun would not have decided to sacrifice his own child for his goals. Sasuke-kun would not have just tried to make Naruto feel lower then low. Sasuke-kun would not have tried to kill Naruto-kun all those years ago. Sasuke-kun would not have left Konoha three years ago. Sasuke-kun, to whom I would be loyal to unto death... may never have existed."
"Sakura-chan?" Naruto said hesitantly, a little hopeful surprise in his voice.
"Still, I would have agreed to have your child. I know about the mangekyou, and I know how to cure it and the insanity that runs in your family," Sakura continued, eyes blazing. "But I will not sacrifice any child of mine to redeem the irredeemable. You call Naruto-kun a 'dead last?' Well, perhaps so... but only because he's the one who would be 'dead last' to abandon his friends, to give up, to do things the easy way when he knew it was wrong. You say Naruto lost to you? He didn't -- he kept a promise to me when he could have won his battle by killing you. You say Naruto has a tiny mind? I say anyone who's stupid enough to do the things you've done has no mind! Get out, Sasuke... I never want to see you, again."
After a long moment, Sasuke shrugged boredly. "Whatever. I'd kill you for that, but I don't have the time -- it would be too troublesome."
With that, he was gone. Naruto started to run after him, but Sakura -- stung by Sasuke's emotionless departure but still retaining her senses -- grabbed the back of the robe he was wearing to hold him back. "No, Naruto-kun... don't."
"But... but I promised," he began. "I promised to bring him back to you."
"He came back on his own," Sakura pointed out. "Therefore, your promise to me is fulfilled. Now, I'm going to have you make a new promise in its place -- don't become like Sasuke. Don't abandon me for some hopeless crusade, don't lose yourself in pursuit of vengeance, and don't betray your principles and friends to achieve some meaningless goal. And pursuing Sasuke, now, would be a meaningless goal -- he isn't the Sasuke we knew, any more, and even if he was... we are in no condition to be chasing him, as poorly prepared as we are."
"I... I promise," Naruto replied. "But... Sakura-chan. What... what just happened?"
Sakura sighed, walking over to her closet. She opened it up and pulled out an old wooden box, opening it and pulling out a certain scroll. "It was all because of this," she said, walking over to him.
Naruto saw the word 'Mangekyou' peeking out around the hand that was holding the scroll. He knew that word -- that was what Itachi had used, wasn't it? "That... what is that scroll about?"
"This is part of my family history," Sakura explained, hesitating. "It tells of the time one of my ancestors fought a battle with a Uchiha wielding the mangekyou. It also is the only document on all of the strengths and weaknesses of the Uchiha clan that was not confiscated by the head of the Uchiha and hidden. It... explained a lot of things, and it told of a single way to save Sasuke. A way that... that I felt I was the only one capable of performing."
She handed Naruto the scroll and pointed to a certain spot. He began to read, squinting at the aged print. Frowning, he said, "Wait... is this saying... wait. This says, 'An Uchiha with a child will never inherit the insanity in the family; to remove the insanity, and halt the mangekyou, the affected Uchiha must concieve a child.' Does this mean... that if you had said 'yes,' Sasuke would be... himself, again?"
Sakura nodded. "That's what I thought," she replied. "The scroll goes on, discussing other related things -- how the males of the Uchiha clan would, until they turned eighteen, emit a pheromone that attracted all uncommitted women of marriagable age, how a technique only my family may use could counter the techniques enabled by the mangekyou... and how to make a medicine which will ensure conception that works only for virgins. I've been trying to... remain a virgin for a while now, so that I could still use it, to save Sasuke when I next saw him." She hesitated. "I... I've been dating you all this time, while still planning to have Sasuke's child."
Naruto nodded slowly. "I knew I was still second to Sasuke. So why did you say no?"
Now, tears started running down her face. "That's just it. I've believed, for the longest time, that I was in love with Sasuke. I... I grew to learn what love really was with you, but I still couldn't commit... because as long as I wasn't committed to you, those pheromones would have me love him, still, and I could take that drug-induced love, and make it grow into what I've been feeling for you recently. I had to imagine him as first in my heart, because... because I had made him a promise, a promise to make him happy. I felt I couldn't be worthy of you if I broke my promises, and the only way I could make him happy was if I was the one to cure him from his insanity..."
"But it was all a lie!" she snapped, falling into a fetal position as she cried. "I was lying to myself, because I was trapped. I'd be breaking my promise to him if I fell in love with you... but I had! I was in love with you, dammit! And I had already committed myself to you, and didn't know it! I've been... I've been hurting both of us, because I couldn't let go of the fact that I couldn't fulfill my promise. I thought maybe I could still do it, even though I felt nothing when I just saw him... but he was treating you so cruelly. It wasn't even the thing about sacrificing his own child to Orochimaru -- by then, I'd already given up. The 'Sasuke-kun' I would have remained loyal to was gone, had probably never existed... and you were there, being called a stupid loser by the creature that had taken his place, yet staying by my side -- ready to protect me to the death, if need be. I... I... "
Naruto hesitated, then stepped over to the distraught girl. "Sakura-chan?"
"Yes, Naruto-kun?"
"All I ever want is for you to be happy. I won't lie and say I was never hurt by you, but I always loved you anyway," he sighed. "But in the end, you chose me... even though you were going to get exactly what you've wanted for years. I... I can't tell you how much that makes me happy, Sakura-chan... so very, very happy!"
He pulled her into his arms, pulling her off the floor to sit beside him on the bed. They sat there as he let her cry on his shoulder, then took her with him as he leaned back to get more comfortable. Somewhere along the way, his robe parted, but niether of them noticed or cared. Sakura was still too overwhelmed with the enormity of the choice she had just made, and Naruto was too concerned with her to notice anything else.
"Um, are we interrupting anything?" Kakashi said, leading Hana, Jiraiya, Ebisu, Genma, and Ino through the broken door.
Sakura blinked, sitting up. Naruto stood as well, still unaware of the state of his robes. "Sasuke was here," he replied.
"We knew he was in town. Where did he go?" Kakashi asked.
"I don't know," Naruto said. "I was going to follow him, but...."
"But I needed him here," Sakura finished for him. "We... weren't equipped for any kind of pursuit, nor any kind of battle. If he'd tried to chase him on his own, in his state, it would have been little more then suicide...."
Kakashi gave her a dry look. "Yes, I can see you aren't exactly equipped for a pursuit. Did Yuugao ever show up?"
"No," Sakura replied. "I haven't see Yuugao-sensei for a couple days, actually."
Kakashi nodded. "Okay. Naruto, Sakura, equip yourselves. Hana, Ebisu, Jiraiya-sama, Genma, and myself will check the village's surroundings, to see if we can track him. Ino, you and the rest of team seven will stay here, patrolling inside the village. If he's still here or if he doubles back, it will be your job to stop him. Go."
He nearly teleported away, he was moving so fast. Ebisu and Genma followed a moment later. Jiraiya, however, decided to take the time to leer at the scantily clad Sakura up and down. "Not bad, Naruto!" he said, giving the boy a thumbs up.
The couple both blushed, and Sakura clenched her fists in anger. She never got the chance to deliver the blow of righteous fury she was planning, as she was literally beaten to the punch.
"Pervert!" Ino and Hana chorused, slamming their fists into the old pervert's gut while he stood there. He went flying a few feet before collapsing into a heap on top of the broken door.
Hana, realizing their mistake, picked up the unconscious man with a sigh. "I'll get him out of here, Sakura-chan. By the way, good catch!" With that, she, too, disappeared in a puff of smoke, carrying her burden with her.
Ino, however, took the opportunity to ogle her best friend's boyfriend. "Hmm... you've grown up quite a bit, haven't you, Naruto-dono?"
Sakura finally realized what was going on, and blushed even deeper. "Naruto! Your robe!"
He blinked, not understanding for a moment. Finally, he looked down, and saw that he was hanging open for all to see... and had been, in front of Ino, Hana, Kakashi, Jiraiya, and a couple other jounin. "Ack!" he cried, adjusting the robe as he darted out the door, turned, and ran into his own bedroom.
Ino raised an eyebrow at Sakura's dress as well. "I think you'd better tell me everything that happened tonight... it certainly looks like things were quite interesting."
* * * * *
Uzuki Yuugao wasn't in the best of moods. Yes, she was still a powerful ninja -- she had spent every day, since the end of the Sand-Sound War, improving herself in the hopes of one day avenging her dead lover -- but she hated doing anything but train, any more. She wasn't even sure why she had fallen for Anko's speech about 'duty to Konoha,' save perhaps for the point that Hayate had died trying to keep Konoha safe, so obviously it was more important to him then his life... and so, if she truly loved him and wanted to be what he would have wanted her to be, she should protect Konoha with even more fervor then she'd have protected his life. Somehow, she got the feeling that Anko was speaking from experience, but the only man she had ever heard of in Anko's life was Orochimaru... who definitely wouldn't have been one of those who 'felt Konoha was more important then his own life.'
Yet here she was, doing her job and tracking down the traitor, Uchiha Sasuke. Not that she really had a chance if she found him. An Uchiha? With the Sharingan? Who also happened to be the apprentice of arguably the most powerful -- and most evil -- of the sannin? Yeah, like she stood a chance. Oh, well -- at least she'd be able to see Hayate again, after she was killed.
She had seen the boy leaving the apartment belonging to Naruto -- and, sometimes, to his girlfriend, Sakura -- and immediately set off to chase him. He'd long since outpaced her, but she was able to sense both his chakra trail and see some evidence of his path. As she leapt from tree to tree, however, a wire lasso caught her by the foot, pulling her down to the ground. Within seconds, she was fully tied up tightly in the wire. She couldn't escape, she knew that -- if she tried, the wire would start to cut her, and she'd die of blood loss before she could unravel herself. "Shit," she finally sighed.
"You're the ANBU, huh?" Sasuke asked. "Congrats -- you managed to chase me off before I could kill those two traitors."
Yuugao glared at him. "Why are they traitors? You're the one who left, you know."
Sasuke seemed to think about that for a moment, then laughed. It was not a pleasant sound, but rather a cruel one. "You're probably right," came his surprising answer. "I like you."
Much to her disgust, she found herself looking at him as she had Hayate -- at least on a purely physical level. He was quite the attractive boy, she knew, despite all the scars and pits. However, she was trained to resist this sort of temptation. "So what?" she asked bitterly.
"I can see in your eyes... you have the same look I once had. You want revenge on someone, but you're holding yourself back from seeking it. Why?" he asked, amused.
"My lover was killed by the Sand," Yuugao explained warily. "But we are no longer at war with the Sand, so I cannot attack his killer."
"You could if you were no longer part of Konoha," Sasuke pointed out. "I could help you... for a price."
"What is the price?" Yuugao asked, cautiously.
Sasuke smiled -- she was curious. He could convince her.
So the pink-haired slut preferred the idiot kyuubi-boy over himself. He'd chosen her largely because he figured she'd be easy, but it seemed she wasn't. However, he still needed an heir for the Uchiha clan, and this woman seemed to be of childbearing age....
A few minutes later, a team of dogs lead Inuzuka Hana to some cut wires, a cracked ANBU mask, and an abandoned forehead protector. She knew what it meant right away.
It appeared as if Blossom would have to report its first missing nin that evening.
* * * * *
Notes: You know, writing about a sensual massage is a lot harder then you'd think. The cinnamon oil, and its properties, I can speak about from experience -- sadly, not this kind of experience, but I had a martial arts instructor once who gave the stuff out to be used as a sports cream. Smells a lot better then any sports cream I've ever tried, and has much the same effect... but you had BETTER not get it in the wrong spot, or else it'll hurt like hell, and it tends to 'run' while sports cream will usually stay where it's put. I haven't found a good source of the same type of cinnamon oil since leaving that school, but if I could I would heartily recommend it. (You can find it both diluted and undiluted. Undiluted... well, I would never use it without diluting it, myself, first. Diluted is usually too diluted to be truly effective, however...) I wrote and rewrote the confrontation between Sakura and Sasuke (and the conversation between Naruto and Sakura, afterwards) more than once. I'm still not happy with it, but at least I managed to include all the points I intended. I figured I didn't want to be hung up there, and kept going to the end of the chapter. I may be too hard on myself, because I can't seem to convey the mental image I have of that confrontation, but I apologize if it isn't up to my usual standard of writing. I'm rather upset, because I've been building up to that moment for quite a while now, and it feels like it fell flat. Ah, well... so be it. Next chapter: The aftermath of Sasuke's visit when the search parties return to Blossom.