Naruto Fan Fiction ❯ Training for the Job ❯ Volume 3 Chapter 47 ( Chapter 57 )

[ Y - Young Adult: Not suitable for readers under 16 ]
Volume 3 Notes: Well, this isn't going to be the chapter I said it would be, I think. As I started to write it, I realized I'd forgotten something important that had to happen before Ino's chapter. Oops. It's nevertheless still three years later, however (exactly three years), and it's still the start of the Volume 3 conclusion arc. I'm just ordering things a bit differently, to smooth the transition out a bit. I can't believe the number of people who kept asking me about people's ages. Um... last chapter was Sakura's eighteenth birthday -- I would think it would be easy enough to figure out from that. And now it's three years (to the day) later -- now, if you can't do that math, then my apologies... but Sakura's age is mentioned in the very first paragraph, so perhaps that will help. I AM NOT GOING TO HELP YOU FIND THE UNCENSORED COPIES any further then I already have. I've mentioned -- REPEATEDLY -- that it is available on Mediaminer, but you have to be sure when searching that you adjust the ratings properly since the default search setting is below the rating that I graded this fic (in other words, I rated the fic at the R-equivalent there, but the search engine only checks for fics at the PG-13 or less equivalent unless told otherwise). It is now also available on the brand spanking new Heaven and Earth Fanfiction Library, which had some teething troubles upon posting this fic that denied some people (it appears to have been, in part, a browser issue -- some browsers apparently didn't 'take' the cookie that was used for Age Verification) the ability to see the chapter in question, but that has since been corrected, or at least a stop-gap measure has been implimented to allow you to read it. HOWEVER, as I feared, I recieved over thirty requests that I 'point the way' to the uncensored chapter. I WILL NOT DO THIS. If I did it for one person, I would have to do it for everybody... and, quite frankly, I have better things to spend my time doing than that. Before asking a question like 'How did Moegi get a link to the kyuubi?' please check back and make sure this hasn't already been answered in the story -- in this particular case, several other reviewers made the point before I could, but I had made a point of it to explain that Moegi was somewhat effected by the healing technique Naruto used on her in the Cloud Chuunin Exam arc.
Chapter 47
Sakura shook her head, glancing through the medical charts and records of her latest patient. Today, she turned twenty-one, and Naruto had planned a rather decent celebration for her, for once. The fact that he was relying largely on Hana and Ino for advice in how to arrange it wasn't important -- as trite as it was to say, the thought genuinely counted. That he, a professional ninja with ten years experience who war rising to legendary status throughout... most of the world (the citizens of Konoha were still largely -- and, in many cases, intentionally -- ignorant of his success), couldn't hide his plans for a surprise party from her was, perhaps, something that was more important, however. He had proven to be quite capable of keeping secrets, over the years -- even from her, when it was necessary -- but somehow it had been let slip.
Regardless, she knew she was supposed to be 'surprised' by this party he was throwing, and knew enough of the plans to believe that she would enjoy it... and it looked as if this patient could make her late. Once 'Blossom Team 2,' the team she had been made the jounin-sensei of a little more then three years before, had all finally completed their chuunin exams (two years behind all three of Naruto's students, who had all taken and passed the test within five months... much to Sakura's chagrin. It turned out that he could get his team ready for the promotion at a record pace... which was a bit frustrating, as she had been hoping it would be one thing she could beat him at. Still, it wasn't all him -- Inari, Adaha, and Umiko had turned out to be the premiere genin of that class of the Blossom Academy) she had been reassigned back into the hospital part-time, only involving herself with her team only during B rank missions... or one of the very few A rank missions Blossom had just started accepting. Chikan had been made her nominal second-in-command, and proved to be an adequate leader... and he had long since learned that while he might be a pervert, directing his attentions toward Sakura was bad for his health. That knowledge had allowed them to co-exist, at least, and she had grown to trust his ability to keep the team together during C and D class missions.
She had finally been able to institute a policy she had been advocating since Blossom's early months, thanks to that reassignment. Now, every ninja had to come to the hospital and take a physical periodically (the exact period of time between check-ups had not been decided, but they were still making arrangements for people to have their first physicals so that didn't matter too much). The work-load had been divided between her, Shizune, and the three medical ninja who had just completed their training right as Sakura's team had passed their exams. She had seen many friends pass through the hospitals halls for these exams -- including Naruto, who was actually healthier then he had been since becoming a ninja, thanks in part to her good care making sure that he healed properly when hurt -- he always healed quickly, but often bones would heal slightly misaligned or nerves would regenerate in the wrong location or... well, there were a variety of 'mistakes' the kyuubi would make that she could repair when she noticed it... and she would always notice it at the end of the day, when they were in bed together. She was starting to worry that he'd develop a medical fetish, considering how often she was associating her medical examinations with their nightly 'play.'
Other results, however, were showing that her policy was a good idea. Namely, the person she was working on that night -- the legendary Jiraiya himself.
"Jiraiya-sama," she began respectfully -- after all, he had taught her and Naruto a lot over the years, and was worthy of respect... even if he was still one of the most lecherous men she'd ever met. He had yet to annoy her with his perversions, after all... although she'd heard a lot of interesting rumors coming from Kireme about him. She'd also come to respect the 'intelligence network' he had developed with brothels all around the world. It was from them they learned of the death of other Akatsuki over the years -- Sasuke had been systematically hunting them down in his effort to reach Itachi, it seemed, and now only three were known to still be alive: Itachi, an underling whose name was yet to be discovered, and someone she didn't know called Zetsu. Akatsuki still had rather impressive resources, however, and they had apparently recruited others over the years... but those three were all that was left of the original organization. And, last she'd heard, they were operating in Grass territory... which meant things were moving closer to them. Sasuke was returning, it seemed, but only because Itachi looked to be coming closer as well.
"Yes?" the old ninja replied. While he had aged well, there were obvious signs that he was now past his prime. Liver spots were just starting to show on his hands, deep wrinkles started to grow around his eyes and lips, and as far as his teeth went... well, there was still not much to 'ninja dentisty' outside of hollowing out teeth for the purposes of concealing things. He still had all his teeth, but they were now a fine ivory yellow instead of a fine ivory white. For a ninja, he had aged well, and Sakura supposed he didn't look too bad for a man in his sixties. Ninja lead hard lives, after all, and just living that long was a major achievement for one. But his external appearance was hiding some pretty disturbing things going on inside.
"I've gone through your medical records," she said. "At one time, you had more chakra then anyone in this village -- not counting Naruto-kun, of course."
"Of course," Jiraiya acknowledged.
"To be blunt, right now several of the most recent class of Academy students could muster the same amount of chakra that you have."
The once legendary ninja shook his head tiredly. "Yeah. Well, I'm about ten years past my prime, so I'm entitled to some chakra degredation. My eyes are going and my right knee can't bend straight any more, either, and... well, I haven't been training much. I've switched to our reserve forces, you know."
"Some decline is expected with age, yes," Sakura agreed. "But not this much. This is like... like you've got some sort of illness, or disease... or something draining your chakra."
Jiraiya grinned. "Try the last one. But I can't tell you about it -- need to know."
"It's just a slow drain on my chakra," he sighed, forstalling any protests. "I'm retired -- I can spare it. It took almost ten years of drain to get me to this point, and I've probably only got to endure it another two or three years -- possibly less, depending on how certain things go. I can handle it, and then... then I should bounce back a bit, but probably not to my old levels. Which is just fine."
Sakura sighed. "Well, if it's that important. You realize I'm going to have to tell Naruto? He often makes plans assuming you're just as strong as you used to be, which would be disastrous nowadays." She paused, an odd thought entering her head. "Almost ten years... does this have anything to do with whatever it was you did to disappoint Naruto-kun so during that business with the Rainbow about four years ago?"
Jiraiya looked surprised, then nodded. "Well, perhaps. I guess it's been more like eight years, come to think of it, as I remember the fourth anniversary of the event which made me start this chakra drain took place was during that time, and I wanted a drink to celebrate...."
"Event?" Sakura said, looking puzzled.
"Ah, never mind!" he quickly replied, waving off any questions. "I've said too much already. Anyway... I've already explained this chakra thing, as well as telling you all the other ailments I've been experiencing lately. Can we get this over with?"
"I'll give you a prescription for an anti-inflamatory -- that should help with your knee," Sakura said, scribbling something down on her chart. "I'm also going to recommend you to a civilian opthamologist in Wave City -- Tazuna-dono directed us to him, since we have no-one here to deal with normal eye problems. I also want you to exercise more, even if you don't make that exercise a training session, and... well, there are a few herbal treatments out there to help people deal with negative chakra. A few of them aren't exactly safe to use on a regular basis, but I might be able to scrounge up something that should at least ease the physical damage of whatever is draining you."
Jiraiya blanched. "I'll never remember to take all that medicine, and my eyes are still good enough I shouldn't need glasses. Really, it's--"
"No," Sakura growled. "Look, Naruto-kun looks up to you as some sort of father figure, though god knows why. He's had few enough people like that in his life, so I'm going to make sure the ones he has found stick around for a long time. Which means... your health is my priority. You will be taking these medicines, even if I have to show up at your apartment every morning and force them down your throat. Got it?"
"Trust me," she continued, grinning dangerously. "I know you're one of the most experienced ninja in the world, and know tens of thousands of techniques. But I've got quite a few techniques of my own, now, and thanks to Naruto-kun and the 'dangerous' guest someone decided to seal up in his belly button, I've now got more chakra available to me then most ninja. You, on the other hand, probably don't have enough chakra left to use most of your more powerful techniques. I think I could force them down your throat if I wanted."
A twinge of fear shown in the old ninja's face. "I don't doubt it. Fine... I'll take the medicine. But I'm not going to any eye doctors! Not until my eyes start giving me problems. I used to have better then normal eyesight, and now I think it's just average... but there's no need for me to get glasses, got it?"
Sakura looked at him for a long moment, then nodded after deciding he was telling the truth. "Fine. But I'll give you the doctor's name, anyway, in case the need ever arises."
"Fine, fine," Jiraiya acquiesced. "Can we finish this soon?"
"Sure," Sakura laughed, handing him several sheets of paper for the pharmacy and another with a referral notice to the eye doctor in Wave. "Now, I've got a party to get to, myself, so I'll let you dress and leave on your own."
"You know about the party?" Jiraiya asked, sounding horrified.
"Oh, come on," she said. "Naruto's planning it -- do you really think he'd be able to keep something like this a secret from me?"
* * * * *
Sakura was almost out the door of the hospital when a yellow blur buzzed by her, carrying a large bundle greatly resembling a girl. She staggered back after nearly being run over and blinked, turning around to follow the afterimage. "Naruto-kun?"
Her inattention caused her to be hit by a trailing blur, knocking both her and the blur off their feet and sprawled out over the floor. This blur was black-haired, and almost as familiar.
"Oops, sorry Sakura-san," Konohamaru said, stumbling to his feet. "But I gotta run. Sorry."
She watched as he once more ran off, and shook her head. "Now what... oh!"
With a grin on her face, she started following at a much more sedate pace. She knew where they were going, and almost certainly knew why: The first couple married in Blossom (probably not the first engaged, as she thought she and Naruto would have that distinction, but the first married) was about to have another first -- they were about to have their first child.
Konohamaru and Moegi had been attached since their early days, had been playmates since preschool and had always been together. It was little surprise to anyone when they got married. What was a surprise was their age -- at fourteen, they were engaged, and they were married at fifteen. It looked like they'd start raising a family at sixteen... which, come to think of it, was old for starting a family in some older ninja villages like Konoha, thanks to the dominant clan systems... although it was surprisingly young for Wave Country, and had been something of a scandal among the ninja recruited as cadets from the surrounding civilian towns and villages -- although some ninja (such as all of Naruto's team) were working towards emulating their example, as the four-way relationship involving Adaha, Inari, Ran Umiko, and Hyuuga Hanabi had recently come to light. There were no wedding plans in any of their future, but that they were living together and that they weren't exactly concerned if one of their number walked around the apartment without any clothes on had been discovered quite dramatically after a serious chemical explosion at a nearby armoury forced the evacuation of their residential building, in addition to many others around the area. Sakura had already known about it, however, having been the one to teach both Hanabi and Umiko the appropriate ninja birth control techniques... but this, coming on the heels of Moegi's announced pregnancy, had caused the first major contraversy with Blossom and its host country of Wave. Ino had been pulled off her team to be part of an emergency diplomatic mission to the capital to resolve the 'moral concerns raised' by the issue. That, however, was a minor issue for most of Blossom's residents -- there was actually a great deal of joy that one of their 'first couples' was having their first child.
Neonatal was an area of responsibility that was beyond Sakura's expertise, but as the former hospital administrator she was well aware of the competency of their doctors and was quite comfortable that nothing would go wrong. Considering how relaxed Naruto was when she finally caught up with him (by then, relieved of his burden), it seemed he believed it as well. "Hey," she called.
"Hi," Naruto said, rubbing the back of his head in that adoringly cute way (to Sakura, anyway) he always did when he was embarrassed. "Um, sorry about almost trampling you back there, but... well, it was an emergency."
Sakura laughed. "It's okay, although Konohamaru-kun stopped by a few seconds later to plow me over as well. Moegi-chan's in labor, right?"
"Yeah. I was at home -- uh, and, ah, we were..."
"Decorating for the surprise party you were trying to keep secret from me," Sakura nodded with an amused grin. "Go on."
"You knew about that? Darn! I guess I need to talk to Kakashi-sensei and ero-sennin about more lessons in covert operational planning," Naruto sighed. "Anyway, there was a bit of shouting from one of the groups of people setting things up, and so I ran over to see what was going on. Um, we're going to need to rent a carpet cleaner, because Moegi-chan's water broke in our living room."
Sakura sighed. "Well, it could have been worse -- she could have been in our bedroom, or your office." The 'office,' as Sakura called it, used to be her bedroom in Naruto's apartment. Some time, about two and a half years or so ago, they realized she never used the room except as a storage closet... and therefore, she moved into Naruto's bedroom and converted the other room into an office from which Naruto would be running what she and several of the others who knew about Naruto's secret connections in the administration of Blossom referred to jokingly as his 'shadow government.' Operations had expanded to include herself, Ino (who had developed something of a friendship with Kireme following the incidents surrounding the Cloud Village chuunin exam, and so was involving her as an informant in much the same way Jiraiya used brothels as informants... although Ino was never a client of a brothel's services), Hanabi (who in turn had formed a 'cell' organization within her little harem), Hana (who worked with Futaba and Futaba's boyfriend-of-the-moment and teammate, Daichi), Konohamaru (who until recently involved Moegi whenever he could), and Anko (who claimed to be using a few people to help, but wouldn't say a word about who they were), and together they moved -- in secret -- to counter many of the 'deficiencies' of Kakashi's administration. It wasn't that their former sensei was proving to be a bad leader, although that reputation was growing among many present in Blossom and in Konoha, so much as it was he seemed to be running things fairly well until there was some sort of massive blunder -- bad contracts with various firms and supply companies, taking missions which Blossom really wasn't equipped to handle or which went against the ethical code usually used to determine whether a mission would be accepted or rejected, mishandling certain civilian disputes, and so on. Naruto couldn't fix all of them -- especially not alone -- but together, they were keeping roughly 90% of these 'oddities' from doing any damage to the village or its reputation.
"Not really," Naruto said. "We weren't decorating the bedroom and I had the office sealed up because we have some sensitive documents in storage there at the moment, and some of the guests weren't, uh, cleared to see them. So, it was really about the worst possibly place she could have been to go into labor."
"Ah," Sakura replied. Well, that told her one thing she had been wondering -- apparently, some of the guests were outside of their inner circle. The only ones she could think of who she thought would be likely to be invited to her birthday party were her parents, but they had enough knowledge about Naruto's 'shadow government' to be allowed into the office when there wasn't active work going on. "Well, we'll worry about that later. Are we going to wait here for Konohamaru to come out and tell us he's officially a father, or do we just go on home and do this party thing?"
"Well, I dunno. How long does it take for a woman to give birth?" Naruto asked. "I'm, uh, a bit unclear on that."
Sakura snorted. "I'll say. How much of sex ed did you actually pay attention to when we went to the Academy?"
Naruto blushed. "Um... I learned a few things!"
She laughed and kissed him. "You learned absolutely nothing, Naruto-kun, and you know it. I had to teach you just about everything... including why I wasn't dying when you found my used pads in the trash."
He squirmed in embarrassment. "Hey! I thought you said you wouldn't bring that up again."
"I did?" Sakura replied, faking confusion. "I thought I said I'd hold it over you for the rest of our lives...."
"Sakura-chan..." he pleaded.
She laughed, kissing him again. "We girls all act differently when we're pregnant, and sometimes differently every time we get pregnant. I've heard of girls going from having their water break to full delivery in under an hour, and I've heard of other cases where labor lasts days. It really depends on a lot of factors, and even we ninja aren't able to figure them all out."
Naruto hesitated. "Any clue about Moegi-chan's case?"
"I'd need to see her chart," Sakura said. "And to know how far apart her contractions are. And there are a few other details I'd need to know...."
"In other words, no," he sighed. "Well... we've got guests waiting for us at home, and no way of knowing when Konohamaru will be able to join us -- or even if he will be able to. We'll leave a message with the nurses station that he can join us and announce the baby's birth if he wants."
"I hope she gets born soon," Sakura said, taking his arm as they made their way down the hallway.
"Why? Do you want Konohamaru at your party that much?" Naruto asked.
Sakura laughed. "No... but I think it would be neat if I shared a birthday with our godchild."
* * * * *
"Tazuna-dono! Tsunami-san! I certainly didn't expect to see you here," Sakura called, greeting the partygoers as she made her way through the room. The obligatory things like gift exchanges and birthday cake had been dispensed with, and now there was little more to do then to mill around and socialize. Everyone else in the room was in their little 'shadow government,' or at least (like her parents) were aware of its existence... but Tazuna and Tsunami were unexpected guests... and, likely, the reasons the office was sealed up (and, Sakura noticed, Naruto genuinely meant sealed -- anyone who broke the band of tape he'd covered the door with, without first applying the proper type of blood on it, would trigger enough explosive tags to bring down the entire apartment complex).
"I wouldn't have expected you to expect to see anyone here," Tazuna replied, amused. "This is a surprise party, after all."
"Please," Sakura snorted. "I knew about this thing weeks ago."
"Oh? How was that? I wouldn't think discovering a surprise party to be one of the things you would normally use the spying skills you ninja have on," Tsunami replied.
Sakura blushed slightly. "Um... Naruto talks in his sleep sometimes."
Tazuna laughed, his voice drowning out most of the surrounding conversation. "Is that so? I'd think that would be hazardous for a ninja."
She grimmaced. "It is." She paused, then laughed. "But fortunately, I'm the only one who's ever around to hear him, so I suppose it's okay. So, if you're here, that must mean Ino-chan is back, right?"
"She should be by shortly. She was going to check in, first -- we just got here, ourselves," Tsunami explained.
"Here she comes, now," Tazuna added, pointing to the door.
"Sakura-chan!" Ino called, walking over to the conversing trio. "Happy birthday!"
"Thanks, Ino-chan," Sakura replied, grinning. "So, where's my present?"
"Har, har. You know I haven't had a chance to get home, yet," Ino replied sourly. "But I do have something for you... and for Naruto-dono. Where is he?"
"Hospital," she replied. "Moegi's giving birth right now. He was here for the start of the party, and he'll be back later, but Konohamaru called asking for him to bring some personal items for while he was waiting."
"Wow! I'll have to go see him and congradulate him. You'd better, too, before you leave," Ino suggested.
"Leave? Am I going somewhere?" Sakura asked, purplexed.
"You and Naruto have a mission together -- with both of your teams," Ino explained, then nodded over at Tazuna. "Courtesy of our host country."
Tazuna grimmaced. "You're getting that already? Sorry about that -- there really wasn't a priority on it."
"What's going on?" Sakura asked, curious. "I haven't heard anything in the pipeline... and I would have."
"No, it never hit the standard channels," Ino sexplained, shaking her head. "Direct communique between Wave's daimyo and Kakashi-san. I didn't even get a chance to look at it, myself."
"So what's going on?" Sakura repeated, turning on Tazuna. "You seem to know something about this."
"It's this whole mess with the 'scandals' involving the baby being born right now," Tazuna sighed. "It's rather bizarre that there would be such a public outcry over this little thing. Their age doesn't exactly match the normal age of married couples in Wave Country, but it isn't completely unheard of. I know ninja have been known to marry even younger then they did -- I've heard you can get married as young as twelve -- but fifteen or sixteen isn't really too young around here. The previous daimyo married at fourteen, even, in an arranged marriage."
"I imagine Inari being 'caught' in this situation hasn't helped your political situation, either," Sakura suggested.
"Well, yes," Tazuna admitted, looking mildly chagrined. "Having a close family member of mine being involved in a related 'scandal' is undermining my authority. Not significantly -- I'll still be prime minister regardless -- but it is weakening my influence over the legislature. I don't understand it at all...."
"We think someone is trying to soften up our country," Tsunami explained. "It's just how Gatoh was able to move in so easily -- first, organizations loosely affiliated with his came in, undermining the civilian authority, and then he used that political chaos to get laws passed which brought his company in to 'exclusively' control all importing and exporting. Gatoh essentially usurped control from the civilian authority's ability to control shipping, and... well, you saw what he did with it. In another year or two, if we hadn't built that bridge and he hadn't been killed, he probably would have taken complete control over the country, and there would be nothing anyone could do about it."
"We think someone is trying that, again," Tazuna continued. "We've traced the origins of the civil unrest to an outlying fishing village -- it spread out from there to other towns and cities throughout Wave. We asked Kakashi-sensei to send a couple teams out to look for it -- as an S-rank mission, not an A-rank."
Sakura nodded, although she felt rather nervous inside. S-rank missions often had either P-tags or S-tags. A P-tag meant a the strong likelihood that at least one team member would be killed. An S-tag... would mean certain death for all involved. Whenever a 'S' rank mission was assigned, a ninja always knew it might also be a suicide mission... and every ninja, Sakura included, always hoped to never recieve a suicide mission. "Fixed amount. Straight S, or greater?"
"Straight S," Tazuna replied reassuringly. "We don't really know what to expect from it -- we know it's pretty serious, if our suspicions are correct -- but we don't see any point in asking you to fight to your deaths if someone strikes out at you. If you are attacked, the mere fact that someone tries to strike out at you is evidence enough that we have a problem, and that should be enough to correct the civil problems we're having."
Sakura smiled half-heartedly. "Well, Naruto-kun will be happy. He's always looking for a new challenge... and I suspect this mission will be a bit of a challenge."
* * * * *
Next chapter: I guess I'd just be repeating myself if I explained, but here goes. Ino goes hunting for a missing member of her team.