Naruto Fan Fiction ❯ Training for the Job ❯ Volume 4 Chapter 2 ( Chapter 62 )

[ Y - Young Adult: Not suitable for readers under 16 ]
Volume 4 Notes: Despite what some people think, the suffix 'kun' is applicable to both males and females. It's more commonly used by women for men, but not always. (A very significant Anime reference would be Kimagure Orange Road, where the lead male constantly addresses the lead female as 'Ayakawa-kun.') Think of kun as a more familiar san -- not less formal, exactly, but more familiar. Likewise, 'chan' can be used on men, as well... though less often, and usually in a diminutive or affectionate manner. A girl might call her boyfriend 'chan,' or an older sister might tease her younger brother with a 'chan.' It's much more commonly used between girls or to address children. Not always -- one thing I've learned about honorifics, they're almost impossible for a westerner to completely decifer, and while I think I have a better grasp on them then most in this country, I'm not perfect -- but I try to, at the very least, pattern my honorific selection among the characters based on similar relationships in various anime I have seen, if not directly from the manga itself (as in the case of Sakura calling Tsunade 'shishou'). Not a perfect system, by any stretch of the imagination, but one I work for. The last chapter was not unusually short, despite a few comments asking about it. It did follow two very long chapters, so you might have had that impression, but it was 4300+ words. And had no authors notes. I try to keep the chapters between 4000 and 7000 words usually, including the author's notes, so that was fairly average actually. If a chapter is exceptionally short by word count, I'll make a note of it... but that was not the case then, nor is it the case now. So enjoy this rather average-length chapter.
Chapter 2
Tsunade sighed, glancing from her notes to the two people in the hospital beds and back again. She probed each of them with her medical chakra once again, and shook her head. No change.
"What's the verdict?" Kakashi asked from the doorway behind her.
"It seems, just as you feared, that fixing this is going to be harder then fixing the tsukiyomi afflictions you and Sasuke had. There are still a few things I could try, but I'm running out of ideas... however, at this point, they may actually be able to get themselves out of it. I'm just not sure how to tell them what to do on their end, however," she said.
Kakashi cocked his head questioningly. "On their end?"
"Fixing Moegi was simple enough," Tsunade explained. "Because the problem wasn't hers -- it was kyuubi's. She'll still be wheelchair-bound for a few weeks, since she won't have the kyuubi-enhanced healing that Naruto somehow granted her. And let me tell you, I really want to know how he did that... but all of her health problems have been caused by the kyuubi-influenced blood in her reversing her natural healing abilities instead of assisting them. I don't think that this particular side-effect was something Itachi even knew was possible when he did this technique, however, because that's not what his technique seems to have been designed to do. Rather, it was designed to entrap Naruto and Sakura -- or rather, their metaphysical essences -- inside of kyuubi. Essentially, they've been locked in a cage with the demon. I've opened the cage door wide enough for them to escape, but there's no way for them to know that the door is open at this point."
"Is there any risk of kyuubi itself escaping through that door?" Kakashi asked, mildly alarmed.
"No," Tsunade said. "The original seal that the Fourth placed on it, and the one Jiraiya used to supplement that seal on Sakura, remain intact. At this point, they're in a prison in their own making, and none of the three of them know they're free of it. If they did, Moegi's kyuubi healing would be restored, Naruto and Sakura would wake up and be able to call upon the kyuubi's chakra as they have learned to do, and the kyuubi itself... would be as free as Naruto allowed it to be, like always."
Kakashi nodded slowly, considering that. "Could Ino-chan help them? She went into Naruto's mind once, already, and I doubt she would have an objection to doing so again in this case."
"It might work," Tsunade agreed. "And I've considered it. However, I'm not sure it's safe for her to go in at the moment. There are still traces of the original mental damage of a tsukiyomi present in their systems -- minor artifacts which will require them to be awake to drive out entirely, much as I had to work with you for a few minutes after we got you awake from the tsukiyomi -- that I am unsure about. I'm not ruling anything out, at this point, but Naruto-kun and Sakura-chan are quite stable at the moment, and giving them a chance to work out of it naturally is in everyone's best interest. I'm going to try and take that time to minimize whatever risks Ino-chan might face should her help be required."
"So how long are you going to give them to get out of it, themselves?" Kakashi asked.
Tsunade stepped over to the window, from which she could see a good portion of the village she was ostensibly in charge of. As usual, it was a peaceful sight -- especially in the light of dawn -- but she knew all too well how deceptive that view really was. 'Peace' was not a term that could be assessed to Konoha's streets since well before she had returned to her home town. They were beset from the outside by the Sound and from the inside by clan disputes, and it really was too much for any one person to handle. Things had been so bad that she had been forced to let up on most of the surveillance on just about anyone outside of Konoha but the Sound. She wanted to keep a watch on the Rock, as well, but she just didn't have the time to deal with them and the Sound and the internal situation with the Hyuuga. She needed help, and she knew it.
"Two weeks, no more," she said. "But I suppose I should lift the movement restrictions I've placed on you and the rest of Blossom's ninja that I've kept in place for the week you've been here. I imagine you all have started getting a bit of cabin fever after having been sequestered into the Administrative Building since you got here."
"I've dealt with worse in my life," Kakashi replied. "But some of our younger ones are getting a bit restless, I will admit."
Tsunade grinned bitterly. "I'm a bit reluctant to do it, but I know they want to go out exploring. Furthermore, I know that Hyuuga Hinata and Inuzuka Kiba have come by a number of times in order to 'visit their families,' and I've had to turn them away each time. Thankfully, no-one else from either of their clans has started knocking on the doors, just yet, and nor has anyone from the Akimichi clan looking for Moegi, but it's only a matter of time...."
"And it'll become harder and harder to deny them access. I understand," Kakashi said, sighing. "Jiraiya sure isn't complaining about being held here, though."
Tsunade flushed slightly. "It has been a long time for us."
"He's not the ninja he was when he left," Kakashi pointed out. "Go easy on him."
"He'll be recovering his strength, soon," she said. "I'm being quite... gentle. I'm also going to help him learn some of my techniques for reducing the effects of aging, once he can handle it again."
"I thought his problem was aging -- Sakura-chan's medical reports said as much, anyway. How is he going to recover from that?" Kakashi asked, curious.
"You'll know soon enough," Tsunade sighed. "But not until the current problems with Naruto-kun and Sakura-chan are resolved. In the meantime, there are certain things I have to discuss with you..."
* * * * *
Shizune glanced over at the others in the room as they waited for the arrival of the 'new blood' they had heard was finally in town. What remained of the leadership in town was a rather... eclectic crowd. As other preparations were being made for the journey to Konoha, Kakashi had reorganized the government of Blossom to allow certain individuals who had been involved in its real leadership over the years to maintain some control over the village. Gai would be the new 'acting-Jounin-oyabun,' of course, but that was understood to be a temporary decision. Kakashi had seniority, and would be returning to take back the reins soon enough, so his 'organization in place' would be unalterable except in an emergency. That 'organization in place,' however, hadn't exactly been in place long, for the most part.
There was Kireme, the 'Civilian Liason.' Ebisu, the new 'Local Government Liason,' who currently was in negotiations with the daimyo. Udon, whose math skills gave him the position of the 'Treasurer.' There was someone who wore a disguise, who became head of the ANBU in Blossom. Even Pansuke, whose genin-level rank wasn't enough to preclude her from being named 'Chief, Counter-Espionage Division,' which essentially was the same as the ANBU's job. About the only members of the 'government' who had any sort of job before Kakashi made the reorganization were Shizune herself, as head of the hospital (and the current acting Jounin-oyabun) and Haruno as head of the Academy... and there was a good chance that Haruno would be leaving fairly soon.
"When do you leave?" Shizune asked, hoping to end the silent waiting with some small talk.
"Don't know, yet," Haruno replied, sighing. "I'm hoping they'll wake up before I do, because... well, I'd like to know if I need to pack a change of clothes, or a household."
The medical ninja raised an eyebrow at her. "Surely you've already started packing...."
"Of course! I've emptied out the refrigerator, packed some clothing and essentials, and done some additional basic work. There's stuff that shouldn't be packed, though, unless they're... gone for an extended period."
Shizune winced, knowing that she really meant 'unless they were dead.' Perhaps this 'small talk' wasn't a good idea, after all.
Fortunately, she was saved from further awkwardness by the arrival of Gai and his team of jounin. It was, of course, dramatic, flashy, over the top, and patently ridiculous -- with turtles and clouds of ninja smoke and everything. After the first near-blinding flash, Shizune kept her eyes closed for most of it.
"Hm... this government Kakashi set up just screams of the enthusiasm of youth!" Gai cried, dismayed. "Mixed with the cool-headedness of experience. Kakashi... you win this one!"
"Win? Win what?" Pansuke asked -- the only person in the room who wasn't aware of Gai's reputation or his rivalries. Even Kireme knew from the stories she had heard from Naruto, Sakura, and Ino.
"Don't ask," Neji sighed. "So, who is everyone?"
Introductions were made, and Shizune was able to deliver the general situation report fairly quickly -- they had suspended new missions temporarily, due to a backlog and a lack of manpower, but that was not as serious as it would have been in Konoha proper. In point of fact, Blossom had gotten a reputation for taking on more missions then it should be able to handle, and there had been a few other times they had temporarily had to put a hold on new missions over the years. Some of that had come from the need to counteract the late Ogata's plans by any subterfuge possible -- and, since Naruto had been able to assume enough visible control to be the one to determine when they had 'taken on too much,' there had been few questions about that -- but a couple times it had honestly been a case of just having taken too much -- some missions would run longer then expected, others would require more manpower then expected, and so forth, always making it harder to follow through on their commitments. The loss of two full teams plus much of the leadership had certainly contributed to this being one of those honest cases, and that helped reduce the length of time needed to explain everything to Gai. The new 'acting-jounin-oyabun,' however, wasn't exactly pleased at everything he heard.
"There's a brothel in this village?" he cried, outraged, upon hearing a report that there was a certain meeting in the aforementioned building. "But that could corrupt the spirit of our golden youth in their most formative years!"
Kireme twitched slightly, then smirked in a rather dangerously playful manner. "Well, we certainly try," she quipped.
Gai's mouth dropped open in shock. Tenten and Lee both blushed. Even Neji looked a little nonplused, although that might have been because he'd taken the seat next to her and even his eyes hadn't realized it until just then. "But... but..." the older jounin stammered. "But you can't be a ninja and a brothel worker at the same time!"
"Konoha couldn't afford to send an instructor for courtesan training," Kireme commented, amused. "And my brothel needed refuge. A deal was struck, and I am now the instructor for courtesan training, in addition to being the civilian liason. I started off learning to be a ninja auxilliary for the position when we moved here, and was recently promoted into the ninja reserve as a chuunin with three years seniority in the administrative sector."
Tenten blushed even brighter. "Um... I'm supposed to be taking courtesan training, soon, myself. I've just been too busy lately...."
Kireme eyes her up and down. "You should be fine."
"Kireme-sensei is a good teacher," Pansuke piped in. "You'll like her class."
"I'll try not to embarrass you, too much," Kireme added for Tenten's benefit.
"Ah! Kakashi! You are so hip!" Gai cried to the heavens. "This is so unfair!"
Kireme considered correcting the man about just who came up with the plan that brought her brothel into town, but decided against it. Instead, she asked, "Uh, is he always like that?"
"Unfortunately," Neji replied.
Lee, who usually would have stepped in to defend his teacher at that point, was strangely silent. Or, rather, strangely absorbed -- the reason he said nothing was not any loss of respect for the teacher who could almost be considered a father to him, but rather he was too focused on not showing the pain a sudden flair up in his ankle was causing. He slowly stood up, masking any discomfort, and bowed to the rest of the room. "I think I've heard enough to do my job, here," he said finally. "So I think I'll turn in."
Gai shot him a glance of concern. "Lee? Are you okay?"
Lee put on his best 'Nice Guy' pose, forcing the smile through the pain. "Yes, Gai-sensei!" he chirped. "But it's been a long journey, and I had plans to train with my team all day tomorrow!"
"Oh!" the older jounin crowed. "The enthusiasm of youth triumphs once again! Go forth, Lee! Make your genin the pride of our new village!" His teeth still gleamed as he returned the pose.
Lee left the room slowly, saying nothing and hoping his sensei would see nothing unusual in his behavior. Gai did not, but Shizune -- reading a report from the hokage on certain 'warning signs' to look out for -- was paying much more attention. What she saw, she certainly didn't like... and so it seemed she would have to be writing a letter to her former medical trainer after all. There was nothing certain in his behavior at all, but it looked as if the suspicions were true. Lee was in serious trouble... and if he didn't come asking for help, soon, his career -- and likely his very life -- would be over all too soon. That, or she would have to bench him... and, knowing Lee, that would be worse then even losing his life.
* * * * *
"So, we're allowed just one day of leave to visit our families?" Futaba protested, glaring at the hokage's latest assistant. "No more than that? Why not?"
Shikamaru -- who, somewhat against his will, was that particular assistant to the hokage -- sighed. "I realize this is quite troublesome, but I don't have any say in the matter. The domestic tension is too high to allow those of you who might become targets out for more then a day, and to keep things fair everyone is being given the same restrictions. Furthermore, I'm required to let you know that none of your families will be allowed to know this is happening until you arrive at their doorstep. If word of this slips out ahead of time, everyone's leave will be cancelled. This is a tide-me-over visit only, intended to just give you all times to allay your families' fears until additional security measures can be taken to ensure the safety of Konoha. That is all."
He turned and left the room, ignoring the questions shot his way. If anyone (such as Ino, who knew he had been spending years trying to perfect a technique which could allow him to do such a thing) noticed that he closed the door not with his hands but with his shadow, they were too busy shouting after him to notice. That a part of his shadow remained in the room as he left went just as unnoticed, as the sound of the door being slammed shut was quite final, and disrupted most of the protests.
"Well, crap," Konohamaru snorted once it was clear Shikamaru would not be returning. Hefting his son gently in a gesture, he said, "Think they mean Dashi-chan, too? I'm tempted to leave him with my family until we're allowed out of here on a more... permanent basis."
"We've got until tomorrow to find out, if you're that interested," Ino pointed out. "I'm sure the hokage is willing to listen to you."
"Actually, Konohamaru-kun," Moegi said from her wheelchair. "I'd like to take him to my family, instead. It would be, um, difficult for your clan to know how to feed a baby of mine."
He laughed, bending down to kiss her on her forehead. "I don't mind putting him under the care of your clan, but there may be a problem. We'll have to split up -- since we've only got one day, you'll have to take him to your clan and get him squared away while I go to mine and let them know what's going on. The thing is, though... you aren't supposed to walk for a few days, still, and I imagine it's a bit hard to both take the baby and push the wheels of your wheelchair yourself."
Moegi looked a bit crestfallen. "Oh, yeah. Damn...."
"I'll help," Hanabi volunteered suddenly. The young couple looked at her oddly, so she decided to explain. "I really don't want to visit my family right now -- any of my family. If I'm duty-bound to help Moegi-chan, I'd have a pretty good excuse, don't you think?"
Adaha coughed, attracting her attention. Behind him, Inari and Umiko were shifting nervously. "Um, what about us? Do we tag along, or... what?"
Hanabi blew out a low breath. While it would be wrong to say she had forgotten about them, it might be true to say that she'd forgotten the problems she'd caused herself by taking the trio as lovers. "I... don't think it's a wise idea for you to walk with me until whatever these 'additional security measures' are in place. The four of us together would be a bit of a target for my mother and her part of the clan."
Inari nodded as if he had expected it, and Umiko frowned but otherwise didn't give any outwards appearance of caring. Adaha, however, looked crestfallen. "Then... what are we going to do tomorrow?"
"Good question," Hanabi mused, chewing her bottom lip nervously. "These restrictions the hokage is placing on us are quite warranted, and there are a number of people who it would be... dangerous for you to meet. Mom and any of her allies would kill you on the spot, and dad... might not be too happy, either, considering everything. I suppose you might be safe within my sister's faction, but I'm not sure where they would be held up and how you could get there."
Ino was the one to contribute some help this time. "I know where Hinata is. She's living in a condo Sakura-chan and I own -- which should be a pretty safe journey, since to get there you would have to pass through the holdings of both my clan and the Inuzuka. I bet you I could get them there safely."
"We'll join the escort team," Hana replied, pointing to Futaba and their dogs. "I'd like to see Kiba-chan, and if the condo is where I think it is then it's close enough to our home that we can see our parents, too."
"Good!" Hanabi chirped. "I don't really want to visit my sister since I think that might start the war Tsunade-sama is keeping us here to avoid, but I'd like you guys to meet at least some of my family."
Adaha blushed. "Um, right. I guess 'meeting the parents' is something we're not likely to be doing any time soon."
"Ever, if I have my way," Hanabi agreed. "Not the way they are, now."
Chikan coughed. "Hm. Seems everyone here has someone to visit but us and Anko-san," he said nervously, referring to his teammates. "But you've all also got serious problems to worry about, too. I don't want to miss out on getting out of here, though, and I certainly don't want to intrude on anyone. Anko-san, could you give us a tour of the village tomorrow?"
Anko hesitated. "Um... I think I have plans."
"Come along with us," Futaba suggested. "My clan should be able to escort you safely through a tour -- the Hyuuga aren't likely to attack any clan outside their own without extreme provocation, and my clan is one of the largest in Konoha. We could probably even take you to the door of the Hyuuga estate safely, if you want. Probably not in it, though." While the trio of Wave-country born ninja were ignorant of the fact, the Hyuuga 'estate' was actually its entire original holding inside the village prior to Konoha's unification. Not being allowed inside a portion of Konoha roughly the size of the village they had been trained in would probably seem a significant thing to them, if they knew, but as casually as Futaba mentioned it they weren't aware of the significance.
"Works for me," Chikan said, turning to his teammates. "What about you guys?"
"Well," Konoha said, a bit surprised at how his intention to bring his baby to meet his folks had evolved. "It seems we've got a plan."
* * * * *
The woman known only as 'Hyuuga-sama' sat at her desk, waiting for the reports from her spies. It had been so long since anyone called her anything but 'Hyuuga-sama' that no-one, not even her own husband, remembered her given name... and she was quite pleased about that. Every generation, only the first three Hyuuga women and two Hyuuga men were permitted into the main branch of the family -- the others all to be sealed as soon as they were of the right age... although, after the death of Hizashi, Hiashi had declared that those numbers would be expanded some, allowing Hanabi to be given the right to remain with the main branch. Long before then, however, it had been a shock to the entire clan when three women ahead of 'Hyuuga-sama' in line were killed the day before her birthday... but, as she was only three years old at the time, no-one suspected her of being the cause of their death. Investigations cleared her parents of any wrongdoing, and so the scandal attached to her name went unsolved. Somewhere, rooted deep in her, there was a little guilt over her betrayal of her sisters... but it was her life that was on the line, after all. She no longer even remembered doing it... but she did remember the deep-seated resolve she had come up with to cover her crime: She had decided to be the strongest proponent in all of history for the enforcement of traditions... especially including the application of Caged Bird seals. Outliving all of the other women of her generation won her elegibility to become the matriarch of her clan, and her devotion to the position gave her the job of clan head... although the power had been split with her husband. The belief among the Hyuuga had been that she would keep the traditions, Hiashi would provide the necessary innovations to keep their clan from becoming too stagnant, and the 'love' of their marriage would keep that power from splitting. Unfortunately, no-one knew that she and Hiashi had never really loved each other -- theirs had been an arranged marriage, and there might have been some sort of friendship as they knew each other since birth, but love was never a factor in their lives.
And so she would maintain power, even if the person contesting her rulings was her daughter... or her husband. In fact, she needed to make an example of her daughters, to prevent the clan from forgetting who was really in charge. And Hanabi had returned... so she would soon learn if either of them could be spared. But she would have to wait for the reports, first.
The shadows around her desk moved, and finally the person she was waiting for had arrived. She had been forced to contract outside of Konoha to find someone with the talent she wanted -- most of Konoha had aligned itself against her, and her Hyuuga clan weren't appropriate for the kind of infiltration she wanted in the hokage's offices. The Rock, however, had access to spies the likes of which even Konoha couldn't always detect, and so she had recruited an agent from them to get information from those offices for her.
"Well?" she demanded impatiently.
"That boy who 'controls the shadows' has no idea that another person could hide in them," the Rock agent snorted. "I've loved making him think he is able to use techniques he has yet to truly master, and--"
"That is not what I want from your report," Hyuuga growled. "What side is my 'daughter' on?"
He sighed. "Well, if that's all you care about... I think it's pretty obvious she's taking Hinata-san's side. Apparently, they're the 'only ones' in her family she would trust not to attack her... friends. At least, I think they were just friends."
"Hmph. Then she'll just have to die, when I can get to her."
The agent nodded, smirking at her. "Indeed. Well, I have news for you on that, as well -- tomorrow, the people of Blossom are allowed outside of the Administrative building for the first time... although only from dawn until nightfall. Hanabi-san intends to spend that day helping an injured friend visit her clan -- the Akimichi. She will be all alone except for a cripple and a baby...."
"A cripple and a baby, eh?" Hyuuga replied. "Well, I suspect we can work around that much protection. So, I suppose that tomorrow, I'll be paying my 'darling daughter' a little visit. Thank you."
The Rock agent smiled darkly. The 'mission' she hired him for was only the tip of the iceberg as far as what information he had been able to collect... and he was certain his real superiors would be much more interested in that information then this woman would be. Things were looking up for him, it seemed. "The pleasure was all mine... trust me."
* * * * *
Notes: I realized when I needed to refer to Konohamaru and Moegi's baby that I never even named him. Oops. I gave him the name 'Dashi.' Uh, it means broth, and I chose it because I figured it was a way they could honor both their teammate, Udon (the name of a type of fat-noodled ramen-like soup) and Naruto (the name of, among other things, a type of processed fish sausage (or cake, depending on your translation) added to both Udon soup and Ramen soup. Silly, I know, but... well, like I said a couple chapters ago, I'm really starting to run out of names. I'm terrified of what I'll be calling people when I have to start giving out names for the next-gen sequel.... A little motivation for the Hyuuga matriarch there, along with a bit of description of how I figure the Hyuuga clan remains sizable enough to be considered a 'clan' rather then just a single family line. I have been getting a few questions about things like 'how did Neji get born if the Caged Bird seal makes it impossible for the Hyuuga traits to be passed down by the bearer?' and 'How did Hanabi escape from being given the Caged Bird?' Well, Neji's father married the 'extra' Main-line female and produced Neji. I have a bit of a storyline idea involving that, and how Neji was entirely unaware of this situation, but I may never get to it -- I seem to have written around it, already in fact, and there isn't really space for it in the main story. And Hanabi... well, Hiashi spared her by expanding the 'main line' somewhat... a bit too late for Neji, however. Well, I know at one point I was strongly hinting that Volume 3 was the last appearance of Kireme, but I had a bit of a change of heart when I realized I had to write more on what was going on out in Blossom for Volume 4. So, she's back, but she doesn't have any more major role perfomances PLANNED, as of yet, although that may change. (I will say that she took out a lot of what I intended to have Ino do in Volume 3's conclusion, so the same may be the case here -- she may get a role that I intended for someone else but which fits her better. We'll see) Gai is the single hardest person in the whole fanfic to write for -- perhaps one big reason why he and his team have been featured so little in the fanfic so far. Since I anticipate increasing Neji and Lee's roles in Volume 4, I'll probably have to deal with him sometimes, but I hope to keep him off screen as much as possible. If he's your favorite character, I'm sorry, but don't expect him to come up big... well, ever. Shikamaru is second hardest... but he's still significantly easier. He'll be around often enough. And no, I don't intend for him to be shown as a great medical ninja in addition to his other talents -- the abilities Tsunade wanted from him were entirely organizational and administrative, not to have yet another 'apprentice.' Next Chapter: An Assassination Attempt, As you might expect.