Naruto Fan Fiction ❯ Training for the Job ❯ Volume 3 Chapter 17 ( Chapter 27 )

[ Y - Young Adult: Not suitable for readers under 16 ]
Volume 3 Notes: Somehow, changing the rating removed me from all fifteen C2s that have listed this fic. If you had a C2 listing this fic and still wanted it listed, you're going to have to relist it. Sorry -- didn't know that would happen.
Chapter 17
Kakashi sighed, reading the reports from the previous evening's excitement. He'd had Ino, Naruto, Sakura, and Hana all write up everything they knew of the previous night, and was looking over it all now. He wasn't happy, that was for sure.
It wasn't that Naruto and Sakura's reports were censored. He had a fairly good idea just how and why they had refused to mention certain things, after all, and believed that those things wouldn't have been omitted if either truly believed that there was a chance those details would help them to catch Sasuke. Nor was it that Uzuki Yuugao had -- apparently -- left to become a missing nin, as well. That was bad, true, but it wasn't entirely unexpected -- she had been a bit of a flight risk since the end of the Sand-Sound War, and so it didn't come as a surprise.
No, the reason he was so upset was that he'd learned that Sasuke now had the mangekyou... and so, consequently, did Orochimaru. That, alone, would make the dark sannin even more dangerous... but, apparently, she was willing to risk Sasuke's body now that he had it. Which, of course, would mean the man was that much more powerful... which would put him even further beyond the reach of just about any ninja in the world. Uchiha Itachi could, in theory, still beat him... but Itachi, also, was an enemy. Jiraiya... might have been able to beat him in his prime, but he wasn't in his prime any more. He might not quite be 'over the hill,' but he was close. Kakashi had already proven to himself that he was hopeless against the sannin. Tsunade was... not a combat specialist, despite her great skill in that department as well, and so likely wouldn't beat him in a fight.
The only hope appeared to be Uzumaki Naruto, himself... but the boy wasn't ready yet. Likely, he wouldn't be for several years... and who in the world knew if they would even have several years in which to try and prepare? Something had to be done, and soon. Well, what could he do? Just... prepare Naruto for the job, that was all.
But then, he'd been instructed to prepare Naruto for more than one job, hadn't he?
* * * * *
It had been a long night before the jounin had returned, allowing Ino, Naruto, and Sakura to finally get some sleep. As Naruto's apartment had been wrecked, all three marched over to Ino's and proceeded to split up -- Ino to her bedroom, and Naruto being dragged -- to his surprise -- into Sakura's. Nothing had 'happened,' during their sleep, save for the two of them holding each other, but it still astonished Naruto to no end that Sakura allowed it.
It was the 'morning after,' though -- or rather, afternoon after -- and all three of them were eating their first meal of the day. Ino had cooked, making three hearty servings of beef bowls. It wasn't exactly her best dish, but it was edible and it was probably better at filling them up then, say, ramen, which was what Naruto had suggested. They ate in relative silence, although Ino kept sending teasing glances over at Sakura and Sakura was blushing non-stop. Naruto was too obsessed with eating to notice the byplay between the two girls.
"By the way," Ino commented casually, wiping her mouth. "Aren't you both late for work?"
"Kakashi gave me the day off," Naruto said, taking his bowl into the kitchen hoping to find enough for seconds. "Although I do have to see him sometime tonight."
"The hospital shouldn't need me, today," Sakura pointed out. "If they do, I've told them where I'll be. I've got a class to teach this evening, but I'm free until then."
Ino shrugged. "I'm off, too -- I was planning on using the day to catch up on my training, but I think I'm just going to relax instead. I heard there's a new day spa that's opened up recently... maybe I'll go get a massage."
Sakura twitched. "Oh?"
"Yeah," she said, standing up and stretching. "Now, I realize you and Naruto might want to talk for a bit, but please remember that I like clean sheets, so stick to your own bedroom, okay? Bye!"
With a cheeky little wave, she darted out of the apartment. Sakura fumed ineffectually, too tired to actually do anything to the blond girl before the door had closed behind her. With a sigh, she sat back into her seat, her chopsticks picking at the few grains of rice she had yet to eat. She had a lot to think about, and a lot to talk to that boyfriend of hers -- the one she'd realized she was committed to the night before. The one who she now realized she loved. The one she had thought she would have to betray that same night. The one she had dragged into her bed before going to sleep....
That she'd committed herself, already, had come as a bit of a surprise. As she tried to think of just when she had, finally, decided that staying with Naruto was worth more to her then saving Sasuke, she realized that it had been that very night. The moment she had asked Naruto to 'turn over,' she had given up on being loyal to Sasuke... and the moment she had decided that, she'd bound herself to the path of being with Naruto. If Sasuke had shown up only a minute earlier, would she be here right now? She was happy that she was, but... she had to wonder. However, she was committed to Naruto, now, and she had to accept that. Obviously, this 'commitment' might not be permanent -- people got killed, divorced, had affairs, and so forth long after they'd 'committed' themselves to someone else. However, she had a funny feeling it was a bit stronger with this boy -- like once she crossed that line, it would never be possible to turn back.
That she loved the boy, she had known for a few weeks, now. It had made things that much more painful for her, as she'd considered what to do when Sasuke had finally showed himself. She had accepted it, before, and was actually quite pleased by the development now that the monkey of her impending betrayal of that love was off her back.
The possible betrayal gave her a lot to think about -- for example, why hadn't she at least talked with someone, before, about the situation with the mangekyou? Her mother, who undoubtedly knew of the scroll's existence, if not its contents, would have been able to advise her better on what to do. Ino might have better gauged Naruto's reactions, and should have understood Sakura's desire to help Sasuke -- she, too, had been infatuated with the boy, once. Naruto, himself, might have been able to help -- he might have been hurt less if he knew why she'd considered leaving him for the other boy.
The thing which most disturbed her, however, was the fact she had literally pulled him into her bed when they had finally been allowed to go to sleep. They were both too tired for any sort of love-making, but she'd been unwilling to lose the chance to cuddle him. It wasn't like he wouldn't have been able to sleep on the couch in the living room or something -- in fact, that was the idea as they were coming over. But... once she saw him, there, starting to move to the sofa... the temptation was too great. She had to have him with her... and that was what worried her. She loved Naruto, but without any obstacles in the way of thier love how much longer could she control herself? She'd already slipped, once, when she had the burden of Sasuke to consider. But now... how much longer would she remain a virgin?
It wasn't that she wanted to remain a virgin forever. In fact, she was pretty sure she wanted to be married before she was twenty -- she had no desire to go through courtesan training, after all. Even if there were one or two techniques she wanted to learn from it -- like the massage Hana had taught her -- she didn't want to deal with the embarrassment courtesan training typically caused most kunoichi. She didn't think a truly married couple would remain virginal for more than a single night, if they had any choice in the matter, so she'd pretty much resolved to end her virginity before she was twenty. However, she still had wanted to wait -- just for a couple years, so she could continue to be just a 'girl' and not quite a 'woman' for a while, still. To save the dream that was Sasuke, she'd been willing to sacrifice much, including those hopes. Naruto, however, would allow her anything she wanted -- she'd have to sacrifice nothing for him -- so she should be able to wait, just like she'd planned... only her body was betraying her mind. Last night, she'd have been willing to give up her virginity -- not to Sasuke, for some 'noble' goal of bringing back the last of the Uchiha, but to Naruto, because... because he'd been so tempting.
Naruto, his bowl only half-filled, sat down across from her. Although he'd been pouting because there weren't as many leftovers to eat as he'd hoped, he gave her a happy smile the moment he saw her. "Hey, Sakura-chan -- you look a little wierd. Is something wrong?"
Sakura blinked at him. "Um... no, not really," she said. "Nothing is wrong, anyway. I'm just... trying to make sense of a few things."
"Like what?" Naruto asked through a mouthful of rice, egg, onion, and beef.
"Like us," Sakura sighed. "Naruto, until now, the idea of Sasuke has been holding me back from... doing certain things with you. Things I may want to do with you one day, but not yet. Now... I'm afraid of myself, almost. I don't want to go backwards, now that I know where I'm going, but... I'm worried about going too fast."
"Huh?" Naruto said.
Sakura blinked. Okay, maybe she had to be a bit more explicit. "I'm not ready to have sex, yet."
"Oh, is that all?" Naruto laughed. "Hey, I won't push anything. You know that!"
"It's not you I'm worried about," Sakura muttered. "Naruto... I think I want to move out of your place for a while."
"Well, of course!" Naruto snorted, although his voice cracked slightly indicating his dismissal was at least partly just bluster. "It'll take a while to fix up your room, so--"
"I don't mean 'until things are fixed,'" Sakura sighed. "I love living with you, Naruto. I've never been somewhere which said 'home' more, to me -- even when I was living with my parents as a little kid -- but I'm not sure I'm ready to be in that 'home.' And it's not because I'm afraid you'll ask something of me I don't offer you myself... it's that I'm worried I'm going to offer something I'm not ready to give."
Naruto frowned. "But... if you offered it, wouldn't you be ready for it?"
"Not necessarily," Sakura sighed. "I... I was about to get carried away, last night, with the massage -- and that was with Sasuke looming over my shoulders. With nothing holding me back, now, what's to say I won't get carried away, and do something I'm not ready for? I... I don't want to regret it, when that happens... do you understand?"
Naruto scratched his head. "No... but that's okay. I don't need to understand that -- I just need to understand that you feel you need to leave, and accept it."
Sakura winced. "No, Naruto -- you need to understand more than that. You have to understand that I'm moving out because... because I'm in love with you, and that I fully intend to move back in with you when I'm ready to, um, take that love to its natural conclusion."
"You mean, when you're ready to have sex, right?" Naruto said, chomping down on another biteful of gyudon.
Sakura twitched. "You don't need to be so blunt, Naruto... but, I guess you're sort of right."
Naruto dropped his chopsticks in the now empty bowl in front of him and scratched the back of his head. "Hey, I don't mind. But what about Ino? I mean, you moved in because you couldn't deal with Ino, right? And I could tell she was pushing you a bit, today, too -- I could see she was bugging you last night, and you were blushing all through lunch, so...."
Sakura hesitated -- she hadn't really moved into his place because of Ino in the first place, but rather because of Hana -- who she was fairly convinced was no longer a threat -- but it was true she had to consider why she'd occasionally slept over at his place, before. "Maybe I'll come over some days, when it's really bad here... but only to sleep, and only in a seperate bedroom. But... I don't think I'll be giving you any massages any time soon, and I'm not going to bring you to my bed like I did last night for a while. We'll still go out to dinner, and go on dates, and... I'm not breaking up on you! I promise!"
Naruto laughed. "Well, I didn't think you were -- not after last night! Don't worry, Sakura-chan -- like I said, I may not understand everything, but I understand enough. Now... since I'm not worried about that, what else is making you so unhappy?"
Sakura smiled at him. Yes, he was clueless sometimes, and that could easily frustrate her, but that didn't matter -- Naruto would always be Naruto, which meant that he would always be devoted to her, no matter what she did to him. However, there wasn't much he could do about this one. "You can't help on this one. I'm worried about Yuugao-san -- I'd just gotten Anko-san to help me in bringing her out of her shell, and she is immediately taken in by Sasuke. I suppose I'm a bit concerned that I might have had something to do with her disappearance."
She was right -- Naruto didn't know how to help with that one. "I didn't really know her... but you might talk to Kakashi-sensei -- he once told me he worked with her while he was in ANBU."
"Really?" Sakura replied. "I didn't know that. Maybe I will -- at least he might know more about why she left. And I need to talk with him about my genjutsu training, anyway...."
"Oh, I'll ask him about that," Naruto said, standing up. "I need to go see him soon, anyway. What'll you be doing while I'm gone?"
Sakura shrugged. "I dunno -- I've got a class to teach tonight. Maybe I'll spend part of it helping repair your apartment -- I helped put it together the first time, after all, if you remember."
Naruto smiled slightly. "You might want to clean up your bedroom, too -- who knows what any guests would think, the way we left it."
Thinking of the likely spilled massage oils and lingerie scattered all over the floor of her bedroom at Naruto's, Sakura blushed. "Um, right. Why don't you head on over to see Kakashi? I'll... go clean up."
* * * * *
Sakura arrived at Naruto's apartment and looked around at all the damage. It was worse then she'd realized the night before -- the front door had been literally shattered, and splinters were everywhere. There was no repairing it -- scorch marks indicated some sort of fire technique had been used in the blast, and in fact there was smoke damage on the walls and cieling. At the minimum, the entire living room and cieling would have to be repainted. The floor was in a state, as well, but it looked cleanable at least. Sakura winced at the thought of just how much work it would take to fix everything.
She knew that her bedroom wasn't in quite as bad a shape -- the door should be repairable, at least, as she knew he had just kicked down that door instead of blasting it with fire. Perhaps she should start there -- she might be able to finish her bedroom before she'd have to leave for class that night.
It wasn't until she'd stepped into her room that she noticed she wasn't the only one in the apartment. A very large dog was sniffing around the spilled bottle of rose water oil, and Sakura knew what that meant. "Hana? Are you here?"
"Just a minute!" she heard coming from the bathroom. A moment later, the sound of a toilet flushing and a set of soft, padded footsteps heralded the arrival of the older woman. "Sakura-chan! Hi!"
"Hana-san," Sakura greeted, a little surprised. "What are you doing here?"
"Forensics," Hana snorted. "Normally, an ANBU would be doing this, but... well, we don't have any ANBU any more, so Kakashi-san asked me to do the investigation. Kuromaru?"
The dog snorted. "Sasuke had no scent on this substance. It has nothing to do with his appearance here."
"Outside of making me spill it," Sakura replied, blushing. "I knocked it off the bed trying to go for my kunai after the front door was blown off the hinges."
Hana picked up the bottle, looking at it closely with a slight smirk. "Hmm... massage oils. Very high quality massage oil -- I think this brand only sells to professional services. Just how did you get your hands on this, Sakura-chan?"
"Naruto got it," Sakura replied, blushing slightly. "It was a gift to him during his training trip with Jiraiya-sama."
Hana raised an eyebrow. "Hmm... you sure about that boy? I've heard some... interesting things about him, and I'm not sure I'd be all that happy about him having recieved a 'gift' like this."
"That gift," Sakura pointed out, "Is what finally convinced me want to date him. He got that gift because he insisted on being loyal to me when Jiraiya gave him a trip to the brothel for his fourteenth birthday. He said the prostitute was so impressed with his loyalty that she gave him a gift."
"A likely story," Hana snorted. "I wouldn't believe a guy who told me something like that."
"This was Naruto talking," Sakura pointed out, a sharp stare directed straight into Hana's eyes. "I won't say he can't lie -- he is a ninja, after all, and a pretty good one -- but he wouldn't lie about this. I know he was telling me the truth."
"Um... okay," Hana agreed hesitantly, backing up a step. "I... I suppose he might have been telling the truth. I admit, I have noticed that he's a bit different from most guys I know."
"He's had a very hard life," Sakura pointed out. "He wouldn't lie, because he wouldn't risk hurting me if I ever found out the truth. There was one thing he admitted the girl did to him, though..."
"Let me guess," Hana said, shaking the broken bottle of rose-water oil. "A sensual massage?"
"Yeah," Sakura said. "I told him I was aiming to give him a better massage then she did. When I pointed out I needed him completely nude, he said even she hadn't had his underwear off -- so I think I managed it. Or I would have, if Sasuke hadn't shown up and spoiled it all."
"So that's why you were so interested in knowing all the tricks I'd been taught," Hana laughed. "Did he get the 'happy ending?'"
"No," Sakura replied grimly. "I wasn't planning to give him one."
"I sense a 'but,' there," Hana said with a smirk.
"I changed my mind, seconds before Sasuke showed up," Sakura sighed. "It... probably saved me."
Sakura frowned, then pulled the Mangekyou scroll out from where she had dropped it the night before. "There's some info in my family scrolls about the Uchiha bloodline which has been... hidden by their late representatives to the council. I've been keeping these things secret, myself, because I'd been hoping to maybe redeem Sasuke at some point... which I now realize was just a fools dream. Now, I think I'll be writing some of them down, so that we'll be better prepared to face him in the future."
"I... don't understand," Hana replied. "What does this have to do with you being saved last night?"
"There's a note in this scroll that unattached Uchiha males produce a pheromone which attracts all women of a marriagable age... if they aren't committed in another relationship. The moment I decided to give Naruto that 'happy ending,' I committed myself." Sakura sighed. "Another case where Naruto saved my life, probably, only I don't think he knew he was doing it at the time."
Hana laughed. "Well, as life-saving activities go, I'd probably say that was one of the more pleasant ones I've heard of. But those scrolls... do you think you can copy them before the end of the day?"
"Well, the relevant parts, sure," Sakura agreed. "Why so soon?"
"Well, Kakashi-san told me about certain plans we've had in mind...."
* * * * *
"Ah, Naruto, there you are," Kakashi said, peering over the stack of papers on his desk. "We've got a few things to talk about."
"Yeah, I've got a few things I wanted to ask you, too," Naruto said, taking a seat and kicking his feet up onto his own desk. One thing he liked about his job in Blossom -- he had a very nice place to get off his feet. "Like training -- Sakura-chan says that with Yuugao-san gone, she doesn't know where to go for her genjutsu training. I was hoping you would be able to do it for her, while I'm working with ero-sennin."
Kakashi sighed. "Well, I would if I could, but... at least for a few months, I won't be able to."
"It's a good thing the messenger service is working," Kakashi sighed, "Because I'd been ordered to send word to Tsunade-sama the moment we heard about Sasuke, so I sent a message the second I left your apartment. Orders were waiting for me the moment I got back home -- I'm to try and determine where he's going, which means I'm going to be gone for a while. A team of four jounin from Konoha will be arriving tomorrow morning, and I'll be taking command of them to begin pursuit operations."
"I guess the old hag isn't sending a bunch of genin out to do what really needed a couple teams of jounin, this time," Naruto sighed. "What about me?"
"You can't come," Kakashi said. "You've got a more important job then just adding firepower to this mission. The mission's duration is for three months -- if I can't find him right away, I've got three months to look for him. Which means I'm going to be gone too long for Blossom to be without a leader... and guess what? You're the leader."
Naruto blinked. "But... what about the closet pervert, and the puppy lady, and ero-sennin, and Genma-san, and Anko-san, and--"
"Chain of command," Kakashi explained, interrupting. "They're all outside of the chain of command. I thought I explained this to you when we first came here...."
"But... I didn't think I'd be a leader for real!" Naruto exclaimed. "I mean... I figured you just meant when you wanted to take a day off, and that you'd still be around. But three months, on my own? I... wow!"
"Obviously, you've got some restrictions on your power I wouldn't have," Kakashi explained. "You couldn't, for example, go to war on your own -- though I suppose, if you were attacked or recieved orders from Konoha, you might be allowed. The hokage would probably want to send a replacement, in that case. Remember, we aren't really equipped for anything more than a c-ranked mission. Anything harder than that, and you'll have to refer it over to Konoha. You'll have administrative control, of course, but there's not much for you to do in that regard outside of rubber-stamping a few things. Oh, and you might want to pick one of Hana's genin to use as your second-in-command. You, more than anyone, know just how valuable it is to have an assistant in this job, being an assistant yourself."
"Hm," Naruto said, his eyes squinting in thought, his hand rubbing the underside of his chin. Kakashi recalled seeing him act like this, before, when someone was telling him something that went over his head and he was too embarrassed to ask about it.
"Is there something wrong?" he asked, concerned.
Naruto smiled. "This is like being a junior hokage, right?"
Kakashi nodded. "I suppose you could put it that way, although the hokage usually has to deal with a lot more then you will in this job."
Suddenly, Naruto jumped up and cheered. "Yay! Another step towards being hokage!"
Kakashi shook his head. Well, after being a 'junior hokage' for a few months, maybe Naruto would learn just how bad being hokage could be. At the very least... he'd get some experience at the job.
* * * * *
Notes: Those of a culinary mindset may wonder at the inclusion of egg in the beef bowl (gyudon), since traditionally no egg is included in the recipe. Well, it CAN have egg in it, and the first time I ate it I ate gyudon with egg. Therefore, I have a hard time thinking of it without the egg, and decided Ino might include one, too. If you cook Japanese food, and are insulted by its inclusion (and I've known a few people who WOULD be insulted by my mentioning that), my apologies -- just imagine it without the egg. No update tomorrow, and possibly not Sunday either. I've got guests visiting this weekend so I won't have as much time to write, although I will try to write some. We'll see, I suppose. When I do get around to another chapter, however, Naruto will take the reigns of Blossom.