Naruto Fan Fiction ❯ Training for the Job ❯ Volume 3 Chapter 20 ( Chapter 30 )

[ Y - Young Adult: Not suitable for readers under 16 ]
Volume 3 Notes: Someone just asked about the two seperate plans for whether Gaara lives or dies -- specifically, if I could post both of them. Well... maybe. We'll see -- they each go in radically different directions, even if the overall story ends roughly the same. It would be... rather complex. (Also, given the state of the manga, I may decide to use NIETHER, as Gaara's fate is STILL undetermined. At the pace the manga is going, I might finish this fic before I know for sure, either way). Someone (who did not leave any way of contacting them, just the handle of 'Forest') just submitted a review of Chapter 1, where apparently my pronouncement of 'not going back to make spellchecks or fix grammar' so angered him he decided he wouldn't even try and read it. He called me 'lazy,' because of it. So, I want to know -- would people here prefer I finish the fic, or go back and make simple nitpicky corrections? (I'm not entirely serious about this question, but I had to comment on that review when I got it. I think sometimes my regular readers might have fun checking out the reviews, some time -- there are some interesting, and sometimes humorous, comments in there. Of course, back on topic, I'm going to try to finish the fic of course... but LAZY? Come on! I've written over a hundred and fifty thousand words of fanfic in a month and a half -- and I'm LAZY because I don't want go back and fix nitpicks?) Well, I'm writing this while on prescription painkillers (Vicoprofen, if anyone cares -- I've used it's sister drug (Vicoden) after having had a root canal, but this is the first time I've taken any kind of prescription painkiller for anything but dental work. I didn't even take anything when my girlfriend broke my toe back in my freshman year of college, so that should tell you something about how much this is troubling me) for my back, which apparently has no serious damage (thankfully) but does need to heal from a muscle pull, so maybe it'll be a little below my usual quality. Things are still slow going despite my getting some treatment for my back, however -- the painkillers make it hard to focus once they kick in, so... my writing time is still limited (although I have been able to catch up on my reading a bit). I'm told I may have to deal with this for a couple weeks, but the doctor didn't think it would be any longer then that. Hopefully, the fic won't suffer in any way other then time delays... although the time delays are essentially going to kill any possibility of my writing the side story dealing with Neji, Hinata, Kiba, and everyone back in Konoha any time soon (although certain events will inescapably intersect with the main storyline, anyway, so don't worry -- all of those characters will appear, and in volume 4 may even play significant roles). Ah, well -- maybe after I've finished this fic and had a nice long break, then did the next-gen sequel I have planned (heh) and had a nice long break from that... Enjoy.
Chapter 20
Naruto sat, reading the specifics of the mission he was leaning towards rating a class C. True, babysitting usually constituted a D-rank, but this was no ordinary child the genin team would need to be taking care of -- This was the son of the Wave Country's daimyo. Wave wasn't on hostile terms with anyone -- save perhaps some of those companies which had once belonged to the Gatoh group -- but still, the family of any national leader should always be treated with great care... and looked upon as the possible target of foriegn powers.
On the other hand, the daimyo would be providing his own security services, and the government of Wave probably needed the extra money as much as the village of Blossom did. Well, maybe the interview with the 'client' would be a better indicator. "Bring them in, Hanabi."
With a sigh, the girl bowed. "Yes, Naruto."
"Naruto-sama," he corrected. He wouldn't tell anyone else in Blossom to address him that way -- or any way other than 'Naruto,' for that matter -- but Hanabi was an exception. The 'discussion' which took place the first time she had neglected to use an honorific with his name was... not entirely pleasant. It had started with Hinata relaying her views on the report Ino had filed upon her return from the meeting with Tazuna. Naruto had read the whole thing, himself, but he was curious as to which aspects of it the Hyuuga girl found the most interesting, and so had asked her to summarize and analyze the data that had been collected. After all, while he might really not like the girl, he had to admit she was pretty competent in just about any area he assigned for her.
"Well, I don't think there's any real threat," she had been saying. "The Gatoh Group of the time you fought them, Naruto, has broken into fragments too small to--"
"Hanabi, you are a genin," Naruto began. "I must insist that you call me 'Naruto-sama,' or I will have to file a report on insubordination against you."
The girl froze, and her eyes narrowed at him. "I know that you permit others to address you informally... sir. Why do you require such formal a address by me?"
"Because," Naruto explained. "You're such an arrogant asshole, I figure you need to know just how you act. You don't know just what a brat you are, so I'm going to show you. When I deal with you, I will be the most arrogant asshole you've ever seen -- even though everyone else can treat me like they always have, you don't get that freedom. Got it?"
Hanabi stiffened. "By what right do you, a mere boy only a few years older than I am, a mere boy of considerably lesser breeding, judge me, the pride of the Hyuuga clan?"
"Cut the crap about that Hyuuga clan bullshit," Naruto snapped. "Neji tried it on me, too, and I beat the hell out of him for it -- which I suspect you remember, as you were there at the time."
"He's branch family," Hanabi snorted. "The branch family only lives on the sufference of the main line, so they are also inferior. But the Hyuuga are the strongest in Konoha -- the strongest in the world! No-one is above us. We call no-one 'sama' unless they are also Hyuuga, and only if they are at the top of the main line."
Naruto sighed. "Does that include the hokage? Because if that's true, I suspect the old hag might want to talk with your clan leaders...."
"Hokage-dono is our equal, perhaps," Hanabi admitted. "But not our better. A few of us used to call the Third 'sama,' but Tsunade-dono has yet to gain the respect of even those few."
Naruto frowned. "The hokage should always be respected, no matter who it is -- they have earned the right to be called the most respected ninja in Konoha, and if the Hyuuga don't see that... well, then perhaps the Hyuuga need a lesson taught them. I'm going to start with you -- every time you drop the 'sama' from my title, I will put a reprimand in your file. When my time as Blossom's leader is just about up, we'll see what we can come up with to 'work off' those demerits, okay? Okay." Since then, he had given her seven written reprimands for neglecting his 'sama,' and (unknown to her) three written commendations for excellent work. When the time came to administer her punishment, he would subtract the commendations from her reprimands in order to determine just how many punishments she needed. He wasn't going to tell her that, though.
He made a mental note to add one to her demerit list before continuing. "Now, as I said, send them in."
"Yes... Naruto-sama," she replied reluctantly, leaving the room. She returned a moment later with a small entourage of people, one of whom Naruto knew to be the wife of the Wave Country daimyo.
"Greetings, Naruto-sama," the daimyo's wife said, stepping forward and bowing. Hanabi looked mildly surprised at the deference the older woman was showing a boy she viewed as nothing more than a lucky brat. After all, as family to a daimyo, she was technically well above him in rank -- in fact, she should consider herself the equal of the hokage or even the Hyuuga clan, itself (though not the superior to them -- no-one was superior to the Hyuuga. Her mother drilled that into her head for way too many years for her to doubt that!).
Naruto, however, waved her off. "Please -- this is just a friendly chat about your mission request. I don't want you to be so formal, here."
The woman hesitated. "If you insist, Naruto-sama."
Naruto sighed. "Drop the 'sama,' would you? I don't deserve it."
She looked shocked. "But... but you're the legendary ninja who saved the bridge! You're one of the four who saved us all! You're--"
"A chuunin," Naruto interrupted, boggling a little at the 'legendary' attached to his name -- yeah, he wanted to be hokage, and he would one day, but he wasn't one of the sannin. "Which means I'm actually outranked by a lot of my own officers -- or at least, I will be when Kakashi-sensei gets back. You, however, are the wife of the leader of this country -- if anyone should be called 'sama,' it should be you. But I think we should dispense with the formalities. Just call me 'Naruto,' okay?"
Her mouth opened and closed several times as she tried to figure out what to say, before she finally gave up and laughed. "Very well... Naruto. Then you might as well call me by my first name, as well -- I am Kasumi." She bowed gracefully, but also theatrically -- showing not only that she knew how to do a proper bow, but also that she could mock herself with exaggeration. "And now that our names are out of the way, can we talk about the mission?"
"That's why I wanted to see you," Naruto agreed with a grin. "I've read your request -- you basically want a babysitter, but the team will need to perform some protective duties as well, correct?"
"We mentioned that as a mere formality," Kasumi explained. "As the family to the daimyo, we are always in danger. However, none of our family has been attacked since the death of Gatoh, and we have significant protection around us already. However, I suspect that this will be a mere babysitting job for whoever you send. To be honest, I wasn't sure we needed to hire you -- any ordinary person with babysitting experience should be able to handle this job -- but Tazuna-dono recommended that we contact you, instead."
Naruto hummed to himself as he looked at the paperwork in front of him. "The problem, Kasumi, is just what 'rank' of mission we need to assign this. Typically, a babysitting job is a D-rank mission. D-rank missions are missions where our ninja skills are rarely needed -- things like walking dogs, weeding gardens, finding lost pets, and so forth -- and there is almost no possibility of combat. They're also very affordable -- your average middle-class family could easily afford to hire us -- and they're typically short-term. We take them for the money, and assign them to genin as teamwork-building exercises. In truth, we rarely make much money on them, after you take out the genin's salaries, commissions, supplies, and transportation costs... and unexpected expenses. The thing is, though, it is a little bit of money -- about fifty ryou or so per assignment in Konoha -- and it gives our genin some busy work. We try to take about five hundred class D missions a week in Konoha -- enough for a genin team to take such a mission every other week. But this is Blossom, and we don't have a hundred teams of genin -- we have three... and only two can actively serve on missions at once. So, we try and give them a mission every day -- possibly two or three, if time allows. That still means we can only take about fifteen class D missions a week, but it's something... and we earn more net from a D then Konoha does, since we pay for the genin's salaries faster. However, your babysitting mission is for a full three day weekend -- which means we need at least triple the standard class D fee if we're going to take it as such.
"A class C mission is very different. We charge by the day, not by the mission, and we make a lot more per day. These are the typical missions a very wealthy man or a business might hire us for -- typically, missions to protect people or things from the everyday dangers, or missions to acquire certain pieces of information about a competitor in a non-threatening environment. This is the lowest ranked mission where combat should be considered a possibility. We get between five hundred and ten thousand ryou a day with these missions, and they are where we get most of our money from. This seems a bit too high to charge you for a simple babysitting job, but you do have enough of a threat to that boy that we have to consider combat a possibility. Class C missions charge so much because the possibility of combat against rioters, thieves, bandits, and possibly low-to-mid-ranked samurai or other genin is significant enough to worry about, though not necessarily guaranteed. Slight risk of combat with higher-ranked ninjas is also acceptable, which I figure is who would be sent if someone tried to hire an assassin against your boy, but typically if we expect a ninja assault we rank it class B or higher. So, I'm a bit conflicted -- do we rate this a C rank or a D rank?"
Kasumi smiled. "Don't worry. We understand that, as we are hiring ninja to babysit for a daimyo's son, we'll have to pay more then the usual couple would for the usual boy. We planned for the possibility of having to pay for a C rank. It isn't like when we hired you to protect the bridge -- Wave Country has been in an economic boom for the past three years. We can certainly afford it... especially just for three days."
Naruto hesitated. "Well... I guess we need the money. I'll give it a marginal C-rank, and charge you the minimum for it... and before you say anything, yes, I remember you get a ten percent discount for being the government of our host country."
"I wouldn't have said anything," Kasumi replied with a smile. "And I can't tell you how happy I am to finally get a baby sitter for this weekend! It means my husband and I can actually celebrate our wedding anniversary at the government retreat, like we've been trying to do the past seven years."
"How old is the boy?" Naruto asked, curious.
"Eight," she replied. "I'm sure he'll love the company of your ninja. He was hoping to become one of your Academy students this year, but we heard you don't have an early entry program here...."
"Not for any Konoha ninja institution, not anymore," Naruto explained. "Exceptional talent is occasionally admitted a little early, but we graduate no-one before they turn ten, at least -- we lost too many young kids in the Rock War to ever consider that, again. Certain clans offer preparatory schools, largely to train their children in family techniques before they join the Academy, but there is no real clan system here in Blossom." He directed his gaze at Hanabi, who was looking away. "Here, clans are meaningless."
The young genin stiffened, but otherwise hid her reaction from everybody. Inside, she was seething -- how dare he claim that clan was meaningless? Clan affiliation was everything -- her parents taught her that a long time ago. It didn't matter if you were in Konoha or on a deserted island, if you were in the clan, you were a Hyuuga... and the Hyuuga deserved respect.
"Well, perhaps your team could give a few little pointers to him while they're around," Kasumi hinted. "Nothing much -- just something he can practice in order to make his acceptance into the Academy later on a bit more likely."
Naruto suddenly grinned. "Well, obviously, the individuals on my team are free to train your boy if they want... but I can't make any guarantees. Unless you're willing to add a bit to the price of the mission?"
"How about fifty ryou more, per day? That would cover the net gain you would have if I asked you to piggyback a D-class mission onto my C-class one, correct?" Kasumi bargained coolly.
"And another thirty for supplies?" Naruto suggested.
"Deal!" Kasumi agreed. "Three days of babysitting, with some of that time devoted to helping my son prepare for his Ninja Academy entrance exams. We'll need your team in four days."
"Agreed," Naruto said, shaking her hand. "Hanabi, if you would draw up the contract?"
"Yes... Naruto-sama," she answered, restraining her hatred for that boy in order to avoid embarrassing herself in front of the daiymo's wife. "Whatever you say."
* * * * *
Shiranui Genma watched as his three genin drilled their young charge, Shuuha Onritou, in simple taijutsu and shuriken exercises. Their teamwork was excellent -- after all, since coming to Blossom, they'd been on over a dozen D rank missions together. This was their first opportunity at a C rank -- usually, those went to Ebisu's team, as they were the more experienced team belonging to the more powerful clans. The Sarutobi and Akamichi clans were two of the original twelve, and Konohamaru was even the son of the Third -- there was no question their pedigree was the highest of the three genin teams in blossom, with the possible exception of Hana's trio... who were all too busy working at the Academy to accept missions except in an emergency.
It wasn't as if his team was completely without pedigree. Matsuri was a distant relative of the legendary sannin Jiraiya -- although that family had never formally organized as a clan, so few of his special techniques had been taught her -- though those few were enough to make her the strongest part of his team. Kouji was actually part of the Hatake clan... sort of. His line of the family was considered the 'black sheep,' by some, since they were largely responsible for shaming Hatake Sakumo into his suicide, so he had learned little of the Hatake clan's lessons. He was constantly distracted in classes, which had lead to poor grades, but he made of for it by his determination -- which had allowed him to actually pass his class... albeit by a very slim margin. The third... well, Nobori had been a tremendous student, passing with straight A's... but he had little else going for him, being a clanless first generation ninja. Truthfully, Genma wanted to put him into the medical ninja program as soon as possible -- it would be his best chance at career advancement, as things stood, and fighting techniques were secondary to a person's ability to learn in that field. A medical ninja could become a powerful fighter in his or her own right -- as both Tsunade and her apprentice, Sakura, showed -- as long as they had a brain and the will to learn.
Onritou would obviously be a first generation ninja, as well. It appeared as if Nobori took a liking to him, because of it, and so was trying harder then the other two to get the boy started in his future career. That, in Genma's eyes, was probably a good thing -- it gave him a chance to see if there really was any potential trapped in Nobori, after all -- the boy was very weak, outside of his studies, yet if he proved good at instruction then perhaps becoming a medi-nin wasn't his only possible career path. A lot of smart but otherwise untalented genin managed the promotion to chuunin exclusively through their teaching skills. Umino Iroku, for example. Still, in Blossom, becoming an apprentice at the hospital was a much better plan... but one should always keep one's options open.
Genma ignored the soft snores of the lone samurai in charge of 'protecting' the boy -- or rather, more likely, keeping him out of everyone's hair. Genma knew just how frustrating dealing with children as young as Onrituro could be when you were trying to accomplish important business, having spend a year undercover as a teacher in after-school day care institute while looking for an assassin intending to harm a different daimyo's heir. He didn't begrudge the samurai his nap -- Genma and his ninja were there to do his job, for a few days, anyway, and the threat to the boy's safety was so low that the 'class C' designation had almost not been granted. Besides, if there was a threat that he and his genin couldn't handle, this lone samurai wouldn't be much help.
"Genma-sensei?" their charge said, stepping up to him expectantly. "How am I doing?"
Genma mentally debated the merits of being honest versus being diplomatic. It wasn't that the boy was bad -- he seemed to be taking to the drills well enough. It was just that he was still so inexperienced -- and would continue to be so inexperienced until long after the team from Blossom had left -- that there wasn't really any way to tell just how much this would help him in the end. Perhaps he could mingle both together, and see what he came up with.
"These drills are only the start of what you will need to know to become a successful ninja," he finally said. "They're basic. So basic, in fact, that in Konoha you would be expected to know these things before the Academy would even consider admitting you. Locally, however, there hasn't been enough of a tradition of ninja in the family for anyone to expect that sort of work from people... so, if you can master the principles we're teaching you, I suspect you will be well ahead of your classmates upon entry."
The boy, who was frowning at the start of Genma's assessment, couldn't help but smile when he heard that. "Thank you, Genma-sensei! I will try my hardest!"
Genma's face suddenly changed. "Crap!" he cried, jumping on top of the boy. Seconds later, three shuriken -- he couldn't tell by feel what type, but they seemed to be larger then kunai -- impacted with his back. He, like most chuunin and higher, wore a special armored vest on his back which, while knives could penetrate, didn't usually allow for deep penetration, often letting them survive what should be deadly blows to the back. One of the shuriken, however, had hit the weak point of the vest -- a split in the seam... and stuck itself into his spine. His legs couldn't move. "Double crap," he muttered.
"Genma-sensei!" his genin chorused.
"Good shot, Muri," a voice which sounded moderately altered came to him. "You got the jounin... now, we can have a fun time with the rest of these nuisances, and then accomplish the mission."
Genma, in extreme pain, turned his head to glance behind him. A trio of mist ninja stood there, all of them apparently chuunin rank... and apparently at least one of them a genjutsu master, as he hadn't sensed them until it was too late. The samurai guard was dead, the tip of his own tanto coming out of his adams apple from where it had been struck in the back of his neck. That would require an extreme amount of force, so at least one of them had some strength, as well.
He pushed up with his arms, freeing the trapped Onritou from underneath him. "Nobori, take him and go. Matsuri, rearguard -- Kouji, point. Protect him, and run to the samurai barracks. I'll delay them as long as I can."
His three genin froze in shock for a moment, before a motion on behalf of on of the mist ninja's spurred them into action. Nobori moved first, following orders to the letter as he darted in and grabbed the boy. Kouji helped him by grabbing the other arm, and the two fled. Matsuri stood a moment longer, contemplating something.
"Ninpo Hari Jizou!" she cried. Her hair suddenly lengthened and formed points, bending to cover all but her eyes in a sharp, spiky armor. "I'll help you, Genma-sensei," she declared.
"It's too late," Genma shouted back, coughing. "I'm dead already, dammit. Keep them safe -- they'll need all the help they can get."
Her barely visible eyes sparkled for a moment in indecison before she finally nodded. "Yes, sir. It... it was an honor, sir...."
Then she was gone.
"Okay, boys," he said, once he was sure his genin were far enough away. "I may be crippled, and I may be dying... but you three aren't going to get out of here until I'm dead. I hope you know that...."
* * * * *
Naruto sat in the hospital, his hands wringing nervously. The 'borderline class C mission' had, much as his first C-class mission years before, proved to be significantly more complicated then anyone had expected. Just like his own experience, the genin team had succeeded. Unlike that experience, however... not everyone returned from the mission unharmed. Sakura stepped out of the operating room, slipping off her bloodstained all-white medi-nin uniform, revealing the fancy dress she was wearing underneath. The two of them had been out on a date when the news had come in, and they had both rushed over to help as soon as possible.
"I'm sorry, Naruto-kun," Sakura sighed, stepping towards him and pulling him into a hug. "I'm sorry."
"He's dead, right?"
"Yes," Sakura sighed. "He was dead before they brought him in. I... even if I'd gotten to him right after the fight, it wouldn't have mattered. His spine was cut in half, and that was bad enough... but whatever kinjutsu he used melted his internal organs beyond repair. Have... have you heard any more about what happened?"
"The genin who took charge after Genma was... attacked, Matsuri, explained as best as she could," Naruto replied hollowly. "You'd better look at her, soon, though... at all of them. They've all had a nasty shock, and might need some help to deal with it." His head fell, and under his breath so that she couldn't hear, he said, "I sure do. I can't believe I... I sent a man to his death..."
He hadn't spoken quite as softly as he'd intended, however -- Sakura heard him. "Naruto-kun..."
"Mist ninja," he droned on tonelessly, louder. "Three of them -- I think we know who they are, but I'll have to confirm it later. Appeared out of nowhere, attacked, got a lucky shot in on Genma that crippled him. The genin... he ordered them to take the daimyo's son and run. They don't know what happened next, but whatever it was stopped their attackers cold. They were spotted fleeing south a few minutes later, and Genma was... well, you saw how he was. I sent a report to Konoha... we should hear back from Tsunade-sama soon."
"Naruto-kun... it wasn't your fault," Sakura said a bit more forcefully. "You just took a simple sounding mission. You knew there was a risk, even if it was a very slight one, but there was no reason to think that they couldn't handle it. The genin acquited themselves well, and it was just bad luck that got Genma killed. Don't... don't blame yourself for this."
Naruto sighed. "I don't. But... but it occurs to me that if I do become hokage... I'll be doing this all the time. Sending people out to get killed, and trying to remain strong when they don't come back. I... I've known that, of course, but... but I didn't know what this felt like. This... this kick in the gut...."
Sakura hesitated. "You don't have to become hokage, Naruto. I know it's always been your dream, but... but you don't always get to follow your dream."
Naruto grinned slightly, pulling her close. "You are my dream, Sakura-chan," he sighed. "If you ever want proof of that, think about this: When I fought Gaara, the fight went three distinct ways. I fought first for myself, nearly believing him when, in his insanity, he said that the only way to become strong was to fight for yourself. I managed to get one good shot in, but that was it -- I thought I was dead, then. Then Sasuke... Sasuke reminded me, by his own actions, that everyone I've ever known became stronger when they fought for someone else. So, I started fighting for everyone -- I was doing the duty of the hokage, as someone who would become hokage. That... I pushed him with that. I was beating him... but he got stronger. He became shukaku, and I thought I'd given everything I had and it wasn't enough. My chakra was gone, I had no plan of action, and his sand was closing around me -- about to kill me." He paused. "Then I remembered you. I fought for you, summoning all of the chakra I could, and I beat him... because I wanted to protect you. You were what made me stronger then being hokage."
Sakura blinked. "Naruto-kun, what--"
"Sakura-chan," he said finally, "I want to become hokage. But I want you alive and happy more. I... I can't help but feel stained, having done this to Genma-san... but I'm leaving the decision up to you. If I become hokage, and I grow to have the blood of hundreds, even thousands of Genma's on my hands... would you still be able to love me?"
The answer escaped from her lips before she could even think about it. "Of course, Naruto-kun. Nothing -- not even Sasuke, any more -- will tear me from you." She paused. "And I will do everything in my power to keep that blood off your hands -- not because it bothers me, but because it bothers you. Think about this, though, Naruto-kun... I know you well enough to know that you would do anything to help someone else. You know, now, what it's like to order someone to his death... but there will always have to be someone who gives orders, and so someone will always be responsible for the blood of other ninjas. Do you want to pass that burden on to someone else?"
"No!" Naruto snapped, almost shouting. "I... I can't ask this of anyone!"
"Then, Naruto-kun," she sighed. "I think you should become the hokage. Because otherwise, someone else will have that blood on their hands... someone who might not be strong enough to deal with it. Because I know you, Naruto-kun... and I know you are that strong. And I will help you be even stronger. In the meantime, though, Naruto-kun... always remember, it is okay to grieve."
* * * * *
The next day, Konoha dispatched a team of ANBU to investigate the matter. They were quick to determine that the former holdings of the Gatoh group had hired a team of mist ninja for the assassination. Genma's killers themselves were quickly identified. A day after that, a dispatch from Tsunade came back -- "The matter has been settled. Will dispatch a new jounin sensei soon."
Naruto had rebounded, managing to put on a stoic face as he officiated the quickly arranged funeral. Without telling Konoha, Naruto arranged for Anko to take on Genma's team until his replacement arrived, restricting them to class D missions only... for which they were very grateful. The busy work was more then enough to keep their minds off of their problems, and Sakura was keeping a close eye on them to make sure that they weren't burying themselves in thier work, assuring herself -- and Naruto -- that they were actually grieving as they should, and not obsessing over their work so that they could remain in denial that this had ever happened.
A few days later, the jounin Aoba arrived, taking Anko's place...
And life went on.
* * * * *
Notes: Not too sure about that closing, there -- a slight departure from my normal tone. I figured it was needed, though. RIP, Shirunai Genma. I had to kill someone off this chapter, and I'm afraid you lost the coin toss. For those who aren't aware, his killer, 'Muri,' is the name used by one of the mist ninja's Naruto, Sasuke, Kabuto, and Sakura fought during the chuunin exam in order to obtain a scroll. They reappeared in the anime (though not the manga), still as genin... although that appearance is not canon for this fic (as I don't believe it fits with the manga storyline -- in the manga, there is no point at which Naruto knows the Rasengen and he is working together with Sasuke, so there's no 'between scenes' period into which it can be placed). It's been a few years, though, so I figure they've been promoted a grade since then. (I haven't bothered to check and see what their names are according to the data books... they're, um, not going to be reappearing -- they had a meeting with Konoha's ANBU, so they'll be resting for a while... um, for a very long while. For a very VERY long while. In fact, it may be a bit of a permanent type of very peaceful rest.) Next chapter, I decided, will be the most light-hearted of the bunch I wanted to include before Kakashi's reappearance -- just to make up for the tone of this last one. So... expect an unexpected visitor and a jealous Sakura. Until then...