Naruto Fan Fiction ❯ Training for the Job ❯ Volume 4 Chapter 9 ( Chapter 69 )

[ Y - Young Adult: Not suitable for readers under 16 ]
Volume 4

Chapter 9

Ino couldn't believe what she was hearing -- not because she thought it would never happen, but because she figured she would have much more warning than this. "You want me to be your maid of honor?"

Sakura laughed, stirring her tea. They had met for 'tea and sweets' at a small outdoor odango stand with a great view of the hokage monuments. "Well, not quite. We're having a very small, very fast ceremony, and there's not really going to be a 'best man' or maid of honor.' We do need a few witnesses, however, and I'd like you to be one of them."

Ino frowned. "Are you pregnant, Sakura-chan? Is that why you're rushing?"

Sakura narrowed her eyes. "Ino-pig, I'll remind you that I'm one of the best medical ninja in history. There is no way I can become pregnant if I don't want to."

"Then... what's the hurry?" Ino asked, curious. "Your parents aren't even here to help you celebrate, and I don't see any need to rush...."

"Mom and I talked about it extensively last night. Initially, I was just going to start wearing my bracers and stop hiding our engagement. In fact, mom left town thinking that was all I was going to do... but she gave me a parting line that had me deciding to get married sooner rather than later," Sakura explained.

"What was that line?" Ino asked.

Sakura glanced over her shoulder, to glance at the stone face of the Fourth Hokage. "Right now, Naruto is still an ordinary man, and as an ordinary man can have an ordinary wedding to an ordinary wife in whatever way he wants. In a few months, however, he becomes Hokage. A hokage is not an ordinary man, he cannot have an ordinary wedding, he may not even be able to choose his own wife." She paused. "I don't want to make the same mistakes the lovers of certain former hokages made, and fail to marry the man I'm in love with."

Ino looked at her surprised. "Well... you still have a few months. Don't you want your parents here?"

"This is Konoha, not Blossom," Sakura pointed out. "He's been ensconced in the hokage's tower or in meetings since he's arrived, so he hasn't been around town much... but you know, better than anyone, how this village thinks of him."

Ino winced. Over the years, the real Naruto had grown very different from the 'Inner Naruto' she had running around in her system. However, the memories from his treatment by the citizens of Konoha still echoed in both of their memories. "Yeah."

"Well, I want to give this village a message," Sakura continued. "I want them to know that Naruto is a great man... and that he's my man. This seal on my belly may tell them something of that, but I want to marry him and prove that that I am not just the person who shares his seal, but I am also someone who loves him." She paused. "I will defy those who hate him by marrying him now... before we move into my parents' old house, and he is exposed once more to those who hate him. I've got other reasons, too, all dealing with him becoming hokage, but I can't tell you about those. They might affect the vote confirming him, and I can't chance that."

Ino blinked, surprised at the additional news. "Well, you know I'll want to be at your wedding. When is it, exactly?"

"Tomorrow night," Sakura said. "Naruto wanted today to talk to a few others he wanted at the ceremony."


"Ya know, a ninjer's life ish too short to not go fer it some uv th' time," Tenten slurred.

Izure, looking a little green, knew that could only mean one thing. "Am I going to die?"

"Nah," Tenten hiccuped. "Ya'll jussht puke yer guts out in th' morning." For some reason, she cackled like that was the funniest thing in the world.

"Oog," Izure burped, crying a little. He wasn't slurring his words, though he didn't seem quite aware of what he was saying. "I didn't want to die a virgin!"

Tenten looked over at him, glancing him up and down. "Hm... yer a viiirgin, you shay? Heh... what a shhame. A boy ash pretty ash youse are shhouldn't be a viiirgin."

Izure downed another glass full of sake -- his tenth one, though no-one had been counting -- and sighed. "I really liked that Aburame girl. Hot chick, looked real good naked. Too bad her fiance got so jealous that I was attacked by mosquitos every time I even looked at a girl, especially one of the ones 'belonging' to the Aburame."

"Th' Aburrrrame are jerks," Tenten spat, then swallowed a shot of sake herself. "Good to have as yer friends, but the ones whish aren't yer friends are all jerks!" She paused. "Buuut, a ninjer yer age shouldn't be a viiirgin, ya know? Ya sh'lda found a nice girrrl ta break ya in geenntly, ya know? No ninjer yer age shud be a viiirgin." She paused, squinting hard as she tried to think of something. "Hey, wait! I'ma viiirgin, too! Wah!"

Izure glanced at her briefly. "We could always fix that...."

"Nah, not with ya. Don't get me wrrrong, yer a nice boy an' all, but too young fer me, 'n I gotta couple guys in mind," Tenten said, looking up as her tears mysteriously dried immediately. "But maybe there's a better opshun for ya, out there."

"A friend of mine in Konoha said that the next best thing to being with a girl was stealing her panties," Izure said slowly. "I'm not sure that's a better option, though."

"Nah, thash not what I mean, though if ya want 'em," Tenten slurred. Reaching under her pants, she tore her panties' waistband off on either hip, then ripped them the rest of the way off. Then, she stuffed them into his hand. "Heres ya go. Now, if ya wanna opshun that actually means ya won't be a viiirgin any more, I can help ya...."

Coughing gently, a waiter stepped up to their table. "Forgive me, Tenten-san, but I'm going to have to cut you off. You've drunk more than enough -- it's only because you're one of our ninja that we've let you drink this much."

"Shuuut uuup!" Tenten growled, swinging her arm to send hundreds of kunai flying his way. Within seconds, the waiter was pinned to the wall, knives at his sleeves, leg cuffs, lapels, and a quarter inch from his crotch. Ignoring her victim, Tenten staggered to her feet. "C'mon, Ishure-chaaan. I've gotta idear fer ya."


"Naruto-kun!" Anko said, greeting the blond-haired young man at the door of her residence. She had moved out of the Hokage's tower into her old home shortly after Naruto first woke up, and hadn't even known that he knew where she lived. "What are you doing here?"

Naruto had the biggest grin she'd ever seen on his face -- reminding her painfully of his father in happier times. "Can I come in and talk with you? I've already met with the ramen chef, Ayame-chan, Kakashi-sensei, Iruka-sensei, Gaara, the blonde porcupine girl who's sleeping with Shikamaru, Jiraiya, the old hag, everyone from Blossom, and all of my classmates from the 'Rookie Nine' who are in the village, and you're the last one I need to meet with."

Anko was momentarily startled at how serious he was about talking with her, thinking he had found out about her being his mother. The list of people he gave, however, convinced her not to worry. "Sure, come on in. What brings you here?"

"I'm getting married," Naruto explained, still smiling. "And I'd like you to be there."

Anko blinked. "Um, yeah. I'd love to! A bit surprised Sakura-chan gave in already. When is it?"

"Tonight," Naruto replied, his smile growing wider. "Sakura-chan said she doesn't want to wait any more, and so we aren't waiting." His smile slipped a little. "She said she was worried the council wouldn't let us get married if we tried to do so after I became hokage. I'm not sure I like getting married now because of that, but at least we're getting married. I've been out since last night trying to find everyone and letting them all know."

Anko's chest tightened, remembering her own secret meeting with the council about a very similar-looking hokage-designate. "Well, she's right about that. The council is... not exactly the hokage's ally in the world of romance."

Naruto nodded. "Yeah, I kinda figured that. After all, that's why you never married dad, isn't it?"

Anko stiffened. "Who... how..."

"I figured it out pretty quick," Naruto sighed, taking a seat. He'd made her condo his last stop for a reason, after all. "Sakura-chan and the old hag told me they were sworn to secrecy regarding who my mother was, which made it pretty obvious that my mother was still alive. I also figured out that the only time Sakura-chan would have had a chance to make that oath of secrecy was when we all were in Blossom. That quickly dropped it to three people -- Haruno-san, Shizune-chan, and you. Shizune wasn't in town when I was born, and Sakura-chan promised me that she wasn't my sister."

Anko nodded slowly. "Yeah. Um, Naruto-kun--"

"Just Naruto," he corrected. "You are my mother, after all."

She sighed. "Naruto, then. I'd like to apologize. I... I really believed you were the kyuubi, you know. I really hated you, because I figured you were the killer of my husband taking the body of my son. I later... uh, discovered that you weren't the kyuubi, after all."

"He's a part of me," Naruto pointed out. "He isn't all of me, however, and the part of me that isn't him usually has control of this body. Even he wouldn't bother any of the villagers, now -- I think I've been sort of 'taking over' him, and not the other way around as everyone feared."

"I know," Anko said. "But by the time I found out, I knew I could never be your mother. Being your mother would have ruined all of your dreams." She paused. "Being the host of kyuubi is enough to overcome on the path to hokage. You should not have to also overcome the indignity of being the son of a traitor."

Naruto shook his head sadly. "I would have made it work. I always do."

Anko couldn't meet his eyes. "I'm sorry. I was doing what I thought was best for you. At least, I think I was."

Naruto turned her face to see him and smiled at her. "Hey, you've been helping Sakura-chan learn a lot over the years -- she really needed a genjutsu instructor after Yuugao skipped town, and you stepped up for her. Helping her like that will be better for me, in the long run, than if you'd been trying to act like a mother to me. You probably didn't have a clue where to begin, when it came to being a mother, did you?"

"Not a clue," she admitted, a small smile forced out of her by his forgiving tone. "Especially not how to be a mother to a full-grown young man who was already setting out in life."

"Well, I've done all right, I think," Naruto said, leaning back in his chair. "You've gone to all this trouble to keep this a secret in order to help me, I won't make you be my mother and ruin all of that. But there is something I would like from you...."

"What?" Anko asked.

"Tell me about my father," Naruto said. "I mean the real man -- not the legend we all read in the history books. Would he have... would he have liked me?"

Anko teared up. "Oh... oh, I think he would have. Arashi was a wonderful man, very talented and dedicated, a lot like you -- you probably inherited that from him, since I'm a lot more lazy than you'll ever be. He was a little perverted when I first met him, because our sensei was a real big pervert and gave him a bunch of bad habits, but I was able to break him of that habit. I met him when he was about the same age you were during the chuunin exam, and it's astonishing how much you looked just like him...."


"Kireme-senshei!" Tenten bellowed at the top of her voice, dragging the unwitting Izure behind her. "Kireme-shensei! Where're ya?"

Kireme walked into the foyer, summoned by the call. She was stopped at the door by the madame.

"Careful, it's one of your kunoichi students, and she's totally sloshed. God only knows what she's here for," the madame warned.

"I can handle it," Kireme replied confidently, though given what she'd seen of Tenten's marksmanship she doubted it. "Best to appease her, now, before she goes on a bloody rampage."

The madame paled. "Just take care of it. Kunoichi are difficult for us to deal with when they're sober -- I've never encountered a drunk kunoichi in this establishment. Drunken male ninja, sure -- our best custumers -- but never a kunoichi."

"I told you, I can handle it. Now clear out," Kireme insisted impatiently. The madame quickly disappeared, leaving Kireme alone to deal with the situation. She stepped out into the room. "Um, hi, Tenten-chan. What can I do for you?"

Tenten, barely able to keep herself upright, nearly dropped her student to the floor as she dragged him in front of her to make a proper introduction. "Thish is Ishure-chan, my faaavorite student. He'sh a fffff... a ffff.... a viiirgin. I wantsh ya to fix that for 'em, 'kay? I'll take care've m'self afffter Lee-k-kun comes back, but I won't let m'team suvver wivvout thish short of thing."

Kireme swallowed slightly. Izure was looking rather ill, but he looked a touch more sober than his sensei. He also seemed completely unaware of what she was asking Kireme to do for him, and likely wouldn't remember it if she did perform the service.

"Um, right. Can do," Kireme agreed, deciding to play along. She snapped her fingers in a pre-arranged pattern to call for a particular girl. Whispering in the girl's ears, she arranged for Izure to be taken to a room where he could be sobered up, and ordered the girl to stay with him and help him when he inevitably became sick. It was not a pleasant task, but -- running the brothel ethically -- they had often found themselves sobering up people who were really too far gone to enjoy their service, and so it was something they were used to. And, assuming he didn't object, it wasn't like he'd be leaving the brothel as a virgin, after all -- Tenten had demanded a certain service be provided to her student, and that service would be given once the boy was healthy enough to understand what was happening to him. The girl sent with him, as Kireme had been years before when she had her first encounter with a ninja of Konoha, was specialized in helping relieve young men of their virginal status, and according to Kireme's records the boy was healthy and legal. There was little chance he'd object to it, at any rate, but they would make sure he was stone cold sober before they tried anything.

Tenten would be billed, of course, and she wouldn't contest it even if she'd made the request while dead drunk and out of her mind -- which she was. However, there was the little point of waiting until Tenten was sober to discuss the matter with her.

"Now... howsh abouts we talksh about the classh, hun?"

Kireme plastered a smile on her face to humor the drunken kunoichi. "Of course, Tenten-chan. What do you want to know?"

"Thanksh to yer clash, I'll be shafe from makin' babies wif Lee-kun when he getsh back," Tenten pointed out. "And I'm a viiirgin, too. I wantsh him to fix me o' that problem, ya know. Neji-kun was my firsht choice, but the firth choice ishn't always besht, ya know?"

Kireme took a deep breath. "Tenten-chan... you do know you're drunk, right?"

"O'coursh! I wanned ta be drunk! Lee-kun hashta get drunk ta fight, now, an' I wanned to be wif him in shpirit, even if I couldn't be in truth." She paused. "Er, I thinks that wa' why I wanned to get drunk, anyway. Not shure why virginity got involved an' all that. But shinsh it did, I wanned to ashk if ya'd help m' figerr ou' a problem..."

Kireme could tell that Tenten was nearing the end of her drunken ramblings, and was about to pass out. A more subtle signal had one of her girls 'conveniently' place themselves to catch the kunoichi when she fell. Best to keep her talking until she did, though. "And what is that?"

"Ya gotta know -- yer the ecshperienced one an' all. How the heck doesh dat silly green shpandeksh come off, anyway?"

Kireme didn't know what to answer, but she was saved from having to as Tenten finally succumbed to the alchohol.

"Geez," she whispered, seeing the drunken kunoichi slumber in the arms of the girl Kireme had arranged to catch her. "Wonder what that is all about? And why can't Lee-kun fight without being drunk -- I thought he was supposed to be a taijutsu master?" She shook her head, clearing it of those thoughts. "Never mind. Go put her in one of our normal unoccupied room and let her sleep it off. Lock the door, too, in case someone thinks about taking advantage of her. I'll come see her in the morning, and we'll clear this whole mess up."

"Of course, Kireme-chan," the girl said, struggling to stand up. "But, uh, I'm not as strong as you are. I'm only used to dealing with conscious drunkards -- any chance you could help me move her?"

"Yeah, yeah," Kireme laughed. "I guess I keep forgetting I'm a ninja, now, and I'm supposed to be able to carry three Tentens single-handed, huh? Sadly, I'm not a very good ninja, so while I'll help, I can't carry her that far alone, either. Come on, we've got the rest of the night and a bunch of customers who probably don't want to be kept waiting."


Tsunade supervised the ceremonial sharing of the sake cup between Naruto and Sakura with a rather uncertain eye. She was technically running the event, but she had never done this part of a wedding before. Heck, she'd never done any part of a wedding, before, though as hokage she'd had liscence to do so for years. She'd always turned down requests to be part of a marriage ceremony, citing her workload (which really was massive) but really refusing because she didn't like weddings. She wouldn't have missed this one for the world, however, and couldn't turn down the request these two -- the two people who Tsunade thought of most as her children in all the world (or possibly grandchildren, given the age difference, but close enough) -- made of her to officiate it. Fortunately, they had chosed to have this wedding with the short form, simple ceremony where all she needed to do was watch for the moment they were done, pronounce them married, and certify their wedding certificate. Unlike the disaster that befell the Fourth and Anko during their failed marriage application decades before, Tsunade made sure that this particular marriage certificate could not be contested, even if the entire council wanted it nullified.

Sakura was wearing her kyuubi-accented dress, the one that she wore on her first real date with Naruto and which she had been placed in storage before she left Konoha for Blossom all those years ago. Astonishingly, while it needed some alterations, there was enough material to make it work. Black was an odd color for a wedding dress, but the kyuubi accents were the big selling point of it, and Naruto seemed to really appreciate it.

While it was a hastily arranged, and not very formal, ceremony, the guest list was sizable. Every one of the rookie nine still present, Anko and all the others from Blossom, many Inuzuka dogs, the former owners of the Ichiraku, a large number of jounin instructors including Kakashi, Iruka, Kurenei, and Asuma, and many others of note were in attendance. What surprised Tsunade the most, however, was the number of council members actually in attendence. Aburame Shibi, the voting representative of the Aburame clan, was sitting next to Hyuuga Hiashi, one third of the representation the Hyuuga clan had on the council (the clan only had one vote, but the clan's 'one vote' came by a seperate, majority vote between representatives of the three factions). Hinata, another third of the Hyuuga clan's representation, was also present. So were the heads of the Nara clan, the Yamanaka clan, the Inuzuka clan, the Sarutobi clan, and the Akimichi clan. There were currently twenty-one clans with representatives in the council (and four empty seats vacated by the Uzumaki, Uchiha, Anraku, and the Haruno clan -- which had all its council representative living in Blossom for the past several years), so it looked promising for Naruto's confirmation that one third of the council members had come to his wedding.

And it wasn't like other clans weren't represented, as well. The Hatake clan was rather small, now, but Kakashi was the most prominent member of that clan. The Mitarashi clan rarely got involved in Konoha's internal politics, but they had supported Anko during her trial for treason, and they would likely have made her their council representative themselves had it been possible. That made it nine out of twenty one....

Lost in her thoughts on the political situation she was facing, Tsunade failed to notice when Naruto and Sakura had finished the ceremonial sharing of the sake and had turned towards her expectantly. A not-as-subtle-as-she'd-like clearing of the throat by Kakashi brought her attention back to her job. In the civilian form of this ceremony, it would be over, and all that would have been left was the signing of the marriage contract. However, marraiges between ninja had an added piece of the ceremony that she needed to handle. "Ah, yes. Vows between ninja are vows not meant to be broken. By marrying this man, Sakura, you can never be assigned a mission which would compromise your vows to him. By marrying this woman, Naruto, you can never be assigned a mission which will compromise your vows to her. Do you accept these limitations?"

"We do," Naruto and Sakura chorused.

"The lives of most ninja are short, and the risk of being widowed is great. Do you both accept this risk?"

"We do."

"When one ninja marries, he has an option... but when two marry, the couple must raise any children they may have to be ninja as well, by custom if not by law. Do you accept this responsibility?"

"We do."

Tsunade smiled grimly, then handed both of the pair a hanko. "Then, sign this document. We will record and recognize the marriage between these two ninja, for as long as our lives last and our village thrives."

Sakura seemed a little nervous, but her stamp was clearly legible. Naruto was not so nervous, it appeared... but being quite determined, he almost made a mess of things when he delivered his stamp with such force it nearly broke the table the document was resting on. It, too, was legible, however. Tsunade took out her own, oversized hanko, and stamped it in the appropriate place for the officiant, sealing the document so that even the council could not anul it. "Then, Naruto and Sakura, rise -- for you are now man and wife, for as long as you live.


"Oh... my head," Tenten moaned.

"You're awake earlier than I expected," came a familiar voice, but thanks to a massive headache and a distractingly queasy stomache, Tenten couldn't place it. "Here."

Tenten let her eyes just open to see a rehydration pill fall into one of her hands. They were intended to save the lives of ninja who had gone without water for days on end... but they were also excellent hangover cures. "Thanks," she muttered, swallowing the pill whole. It would take about two minutes to start working, but that would get her over her hangover much faster than normal.

"You showed up at three a.m. this morning, more drunk than I'd ever seen a kunoichi get before," the voice said. "You've slept all day, and missed class this evening."

That helped the ninja girl identify the speaker, but she couldn't be certain until she opened her eyes. "Kireme-sensei?"

"Your student is probably being serviced as we speak," Kireme pointed out wryly. "We'll have to discuss payment on that."

"Student?" Tenten repeated, still not entirely with it.

"Izure-chan. You brought him over, last night, when both of you were in a drunken stupor. Said he was a virgin, and demanded that we 'fix that for him.' Drunk you may have been, but as a ninja you know you are liable for the requests you make when you are drunk," Kireme explained.

Tenten's eyes widened, now coming to her senses. "I didn't... did I?"

"Then, you started babbling on about wanting to be 'safe from making babies' so that Lee could help you with that problem, too," Kireme reminded her. "Which is amusing, and embarrasing, I know, but you revealed something I don't think you intended to when you said it."

Tenten blushed. "That I, uh, like Lee-kun?"

"Well, that too," Kireme agreed, briefly amused. "You seemed to like Neji, too, but felt he was unattainable."

"Well, yeah," Tenten admitted. "Lee's sweet, and I've grown fond of him despite the odd personality quirks and those wierd eyebrows of his, but Neji is hot, and smart, and we work well together. If I were to be completely honest, I'm quite attracted to both of them. Do I love either of them? Probably not, but I'm not looking for a committed relationship, now, anyway." Something occured to her -- a vague memory of something said the night before. "Like others, I guess I just don't want to die a virgin, and I take a lot of chances with my life. I'm attracted to both of them, so I'll gladly take either one I can get, and Lee... just seems so much more approachable about it."

"All fine reasons," Kireme laughed. "I'm not going to complain. After all, it's not like I would have any leg to stand on, is it? Not all girls are cut out for monogamy, and not all of the girls who take many lovers would be okay working in a brothel. I imagine it wouldn't be too bad if you were to 'try out' both of them -- as long as they understood you weren't trying to make a lifetime commitment to them in the process, but at least consider committing to your first. But that's not what I wanted to talk to you about."

"It isn't?" Tenten said, surprised. Kireme so often seemed like such a prim and proper woman, it was easy to forget her profession sometimes. However, thinking about it, Tenten realized that she would never complain about a girl going after two boys -- it wouldn't make any sense for her to do so. "Of course it isn't. What's the matter?"

"You said something last night about Lee-san 'needing to be drunk' in order to fight. Now, I know he's got a good fighting style that requires he be drunk, but I was under the impression he had a lot of other options as well," Kireme pointed out. Sending Tenten a piercing glance that would brook no deception, she asked, "Is something going on with him? Many of the businesses of Blossom -- the brothel included -- have been put on watch, because there were concerns about him becoming too much of a lush to be effective on duty. This sounds like you might know why."

Tenten froze for a moment, trying to think of how to answer. "I am sworn to secrecy," she finally decided upon.

Kireme stiffened. That told her there was actually something to it, then. "I see. Well, I hope you don't regret this oath, then... I'd hate to lose someone I cared about because I was keeping a secret for them."

Tenten nodded slowly. "I hope I don't regret it, either."

"Then," Kireme sighed. "I suppose the only thing I have left to ask is... do you actually have the cash to pay for the service we're providing for Izure-chan, or are we going to have to dock your pay? And once that's settled... well, I'm not sure about green, but I do have some experience in removing spandex off of another person, if you're still interested..."


The wedding reception was in full swing, and Naruto and Sakura were making their final rounds before they departed for their 'honeymoon,' which was really just a week together in an undisclosed location, with no missions or (official) obligations in Konoha burdening them. It wasn't exactly the best of times to be taking a vacation, but it couldn't really be helped. Better now than after Naruto had the confirmation vote for, or worse the actual job of, Hokage to take care of. And it wasn't as if anyone who knew him could begrudge Naruto his honeymoon with the girl he had loved for so long.

There was a lot that they had learned during this final round of chats. The head of the Sarutobi clan was retiring, soon, and Asuma would be taking his place before the vote. Konohamaru and Moegi's son, Dashi, had been welcomed heartily by both the Sarutobi and the Akimichi clans, and both clans were quite pleased with the new alliance between them. There had been a lot of innuendo-laden discussions about which clan would be babysitting the child while Konohamaru had to deal with Moegi -- after all, it was now fairly well known how her own libido was affected by Naruto and Sakura, and... well, a honeymoon did tend to result in that sort of thing.

Teuchi, the retired chef of the Ichiraku, seemed quite interested in Naruto's effort to become hokage. He had been discussing something secret with Tsunade, the newlyweds could tell, because Ayame was keeping them from joining in on the conversation between the current hokage and the chef. Finally, however, Naruto was allowed to come up and talk with his favorite ramen chef, and any concerns about whatever he was keeping secret could be laid aside for another day. After all, what big secrets could a retired ramen chef really have? Naruto figured the conversation had something to do with a more public reception being planned after their return -- this particular wedding reception, the 'real' reception in the minds of both of the couple, was only for the invited guests; the village would want another one for their hokage-designate once they were back, however.

Anko gushed over Sakura's wedding dress, remarking on how appropriate it seemed despite the color. Naruto couldn't help from cheekily commenting that it would look real good on the floor that night, too. That earned him a playfully stern glare from his new wife, as she admonished him for 'giving people the right idea!'

Ino was twitching nervously about something when they got to her. They tried to find out what was wrong, but she couldn't seem to explain it. Finally, she leaned over and whispered something in Naruto's ear. Nodding in understanding, he agreed with whatever it was she had proposed, and stepped back.

"Naruto Bunshin no Jutsu!" she called, summoning the thirteen year old version of a Naruto clone.

The clone looked up at his 'original model' with a sad smile. "You got her, huh?" he asked.

"Yeah," the real Naruto replied. "Sorry, brother, but you know you'd never have managed it. You're too young for her, now, and you just can't exist long enough."

"I know," the clone replied, turning sad eyes on Sakura. "You better be happy with him, Sakura-chan. I know you don't like me as much, but I would do anything to make sure you're happy, too."

Sakura, who was shorter than the real Naruto but still much taller than this clone, bent down and ruffled his hair. "Oh, I like you well enough," she said, giving him a kiss to the forehead. "Maybe, someday, I'll get Ino to get the current Naruto's memories so that you'll know just how much."

Gaping at her, the clone rubbed the spot where she kissed him unbelievingly. "I... I... well, no need, Sakura-chan," he finally managed to get out. "That's the best memory I'll ever have."

With a pop, the clone disappeared. Naruto glanced over at Ino as she reabsorbed the clone's memories. "I hope you don't mind me calling him 'brother,' Ino-chan, but I can't imagine what else to call him."

Ino laughed. "I don't mind. You're as much of a brother as I suspect I'll ever have. Just remember to use the right pronoun when talking with me, and not with my clone."

"Cousin is more like it, anyway," Inoichi said, stepping up to join them. "We did some research, and it seems your grandfather had a sister who married into our clan, Naruto-kun. The Yamanaka and the Uzumaki have long been allies, though, so it shouldn't be a surprise." He paused. "I was reading a story from her past, and it seems your great-aunt had been trying to choose between a Haruno boy and an Yamanaka boy at the time, and settled on the Yamanaka boy. Probably a good thing, too, for you and Sakura-chan."

"I guess this makes us in-laws, huh, Sakura-chan?" Ino pointed out, laughing. "Don't mistreat my cousin, then, or I might have to get tough with you."

Naruto sighed wistfully. "Actually, Ino-chan, I like it when Sakura-chan mistreats me, sometimes."

Sakura blushed. "I told you, Naruto, quit giving people the right idea!"

They moved on as the Yamanakas dissolved in laughter, Sakura pretending to berate Naruto the entire time. In fact, she was just as amused as they -- if a little bit more embarrassed -- and heart felt warmed, seeing that her long-time friend had finally reconciled completely with her parents. Things had been quite strained between them when she left for Blossom, but it seemed as if the time and distance mended the wound.

Tsunade and Jiraiya both gave the expected moderately perverse advice for the honeymoon. Tsunade's suggestion of strip poker (which made Jiraiya gawk, as he never thought the woman had it in her) was met with grumbling as Sakura explained Naruto was too good a gambler. Jiraiya's gift of an Icha Icha Paradise boxed set was returned rather forcefully, as Sakura clonked him over the head with it.

Kakashi had arrived late, but had been there for the final vows. He seemed decidedly uncomfortable during the event -- not as if he was unhappy for the couple, but rather as if he had no idea what to do or say about it. Naruto took pity on him -- or just didn't realize his distress -- and gave him a firm handshake before moving on.

Anko was also a wreck, but in the opposite direction. She babbled on about crying at weddings, gave both of them such firm hugs that their backs ached, babbled some more about how happy she was, and so on. Sakura seemed a little taken aback, but Naruto -- as he always did -- endured.

The Wave-born ninja from Blossom were quite enthusiastic in their congratulations. Sakura and Naruto both recieved hugs from them all. Hanabi, staying in the corner with her lovers, gave a humble bow to Naruto, a sure sign of how far she had come from the young genin who believed that no-one could be good enough to deserve any real respect from the Hyuuga.

Shikamaru, Gaara, and Temari were all in a group as they gave their respects. One bit of news that they learned was that Temari had -- with feigned reluctance, though in truth she didn't mind -- been ordered by Gaara to 'solidify the alliance between Konoha and the Sand with a marriage to a scion of one of it noblest clans,' or in other words he'd told her to marry Shikamaru and stop making everyone miserable about the whole mess or he'd kill them. A bit of a deranged way of arranging a marriage, but Shikamaru looked pleased enough. Gaara was sticking close to the couple until the wedding took place, just to be certain that it, in fact, did take place.

Nearly the whole Inuzuka clan had shown up, and it was difficult to meet with them all. Futaba made a bunch of lewd cracks about the upcoming honeymoon until her mother pointed out that she was now old enough to be married, herself, and they were thinking of arranging her in a marriage... possibly, she was told, to an Aburame, if she didn't stop with all the bad jokes. Hana, though she said Sakura probably knew most of it anyway, gifted her with a copy of the official Konoha textbook on courtesan training... which, yes, did have at least a few ideas she'd never thought of before in regards to making bedroom activities 'more interesting. Meanwhile, Kiba was constantly looking over at Hinata wistfully, but with the importance of the occasion he deemed it a bad time to risk inter-clan strife by standing at her side while Hiashi was in the room.

Naruto, knowing that this was his wedding and that he had the prerogative to decide who should and should not sacrifice such things for their wedding that day, wouldn't accept that. "Come on, Kiba -- let's get you over to Hinata. I know you want to join her."


"It's Sakura's and my day, remember?" Naruto pointed out, grabbing Kiba by the shoulder. "Come on."

Nearly pulling the Inuzuka boy's arm out of his socket as he made his way over to the two conversing Hyuugas, Naruto grinned darkly. While this might not be pleasant, the neutral ground of the wedding was providing him with a perfect opportunity.

"Hiashi, good to see you, how've you been?" Naruto asked, patting him on the shoulder roughly in greeting. Kiba flinched away, but he was held tight.

Hiashi took a deep breath and rolled his eyes. "Must you try my patience, Naruto-dono? I already know you're trying to get me flustered to make discussion easier for you, so could we pretend you've got me on my heels and get on with it?"

Naruto laughed. "Guess that won't work twice, huh?"

"A ninja should never show his techniques to an enemy more than once," Hiashi recited, then grinned. "Unlike Hanabi-chan, I actually went to the Academy... although I only went to learn all those cheesy sayings."

Kiba nearly fell to the floor in surprise -- he had never even seen Hiashi smile, much less crack a joke. "Uh, Hiashi-sama?" he said, unable to believe it.

Hiashi's eyes tightened. "You've caused me all sorts of trouble, Kiba-san. The whole village, too."

Before Kiba could reply, Naruto intervened. "Now look here, buddy. This whole 'Hyuuga Civil War' thing has just been looking for an excuse to break out ever since you instituted that whole Caged Bird nonsense. It wasn't Kiba who caused it, but generations of mistakes by the Hyuuga clan in dealing with its own internal politics. Blaming Kiba is just shooting the messenger."

Hiashi nodded slowly. "It may surprise you to know I agree with you, Naruto-dono. However, given that the way Kiba became this 'messenger' was by sleeping with my daughter, I think I have a right to be a little annoyed at him."

Naruto seemed to consider that for a moment. "Fair enough. But I think him sleeping with your daughter is also the key to fixing this whole mess, too, so giving him a little slack might be called for."

"How so?" Hiashi asked.

Hinata hesitated. "Um, f-father? I... I'm pregnant."

Hiashi stiffened. "Ah. And this is supposed to encourage the end of this problem... how?"

Sakura stepped up. "A dangerous situation has arisen because of the pregnancy. I have made several medical findings on the Hyuuga clan. One, as you know, is that without fresh blood added to the clan, your genetic structure will start mutating and breaking down, making successive generations more prone to weakness and birth defects."

"Yes, we covered that in our earlier... meeting," Hiashi agreed.

"However, there is a corollary to that. The Hyuuga clan cannot afford to mix genetic material with just anybody. The Uchiha proved that -- a genetic marker in the post-Byakugan-completion Hyuuga blood makes it dangerously unstable when mixed with the blood of other clans that have similar strong, genetic markers. This instability leads to various disorders, including -- in the Uchiha's case, at least -- a high risk of homocidal tendencies."

Hiashi nodded slowly. "Yes, I can see how that would happen. That is partly why the Caged Bird technique came into existance."

Sakura nodded. "Yes, with proper preparation the Caged Bird technique will surpress the dangerous genetic marker. However, it must be done pre-conception."

After thinking that one through, a look of dark fear crossed Hiashi's face. "Hinata is pregnant. With an Inuzuka. And she has never had a Caged Bird seal placed upon her."

"When I get back, I will need unlimited access to the Hyuuga records," Sakura insisted. "Especially on anything to do with the Uchiha clan, the Caged Bird seal, medical histories, any past attempts to combat the problem, and so on. Hinata does not want there to be any risk of insanity to her child, and the Branch family will do anything to help her in this regard, provided certain assurances for their own safety can be made. She also mostly trusts you to be fair, whereas she doesn't trust her mother. I believe she is willing to make a number of concessions she wouldn't have in the past, if in exchange I am able to examine the Hyuuga records."

Hiashi considered the proposal for a long, long time. "I believe a deal can be struck... but I do not hold all of the clan records. Many of them are in the hands of the Matriarch, and I cannot bargain with things I do not have."

Naruto grinned. "Then we have an agreement to agree, here? I'd really like to be able to go off to my honeymoon knowing that, when I get back, I'll be able to at least get a start on fixing this problem...."

Hiashi nodded. "Agreed."

Naruto smirked, then glanced at Sakura. "Well, looks like everything's settled for now. Should we slip out now, then?"

"In as clumsy and noisy a way as possible, of course," Sakura agreed. "It wouldn't be you without some sort of distraction."

Hiashi blinked. "What--"

Suddenly, there were a hundred Narutos carrying a hundred Sakuras. "Kontserun Kage Bunshin no Jutsu!" was the call.

"What the hell?" Tsunade's voice could be heard shouting over all the sudden chaos.

"Happi-ueddingu-taimu no jutsu!" was the follow-up, and suddenly every single Naruto and every single Sakura was as nude as they could be... although, between strategically-placed smoke clouds and the way their bodies were pressed against each other, no-one saw anything that they wouldn't have seen had the couple been in swimsuits.

A number of guests -- mostly male -- were knocked off their feet by the sudden explosion of wet-dream fodder. Jiraiya was disabled before he could act, thanks to a well-placed chop to the back of his neck by Tsunade. Hinata was blushing worse than she ever had before, and many of the attached ninja present, like Kiba and Konohamaru, were trying hard to avoid looking at anything that would get them in trouble with their significant others.

Suddenly, all one-hundred pairs of Narutos and Sakura were gone, flashing away in a puff of smoke. Paper sheets floated to the ground in their place, all with the same message.

"Oh, come on -- it's me, the biggest practical joker this village has ever seen! And I just married a closet practical joker extraordinaire, myself! Did you really think we wouldn't try something like this?" those papers said. No signature was on the paper, but it didn't exactly take a genius like Shikamaru to figure out who wrote it.


Author's Notes - Coming up with a ninja varient of the shinto wedding ceremony was frustrating. Ah, well, at least I managed it. In case anyone missed it, 'Happi-ueddingu-taimu no jutsu' means, literally, the 'Happy Wedding Time Technique,' using mostly newly-adopted words into Japanese (I could have used pure Japanese words for all three, but I wasn't confident enough in my Japanese grammar to get it right. However, using the English-origin words, I can use the English grammar structure for them). Many thanks to the EDICT Online Japanese-English website for this and many other Japanese words used in this fic -- thanks to you, I don't have to haul out the too-massive-to-use-easily paper English-Japanese dictionary I own. Oh, and in case you were wondering, the 'Happi-uedingu-taimu no jutsu!' was one of the perverted ninjutsu techniques Naruto developed with Kireme's help, way back in Volume 2, though its full effect has yet to be seen. The 'Kontserun Kage Bunshin no Jutsu' (or Combined Kage Bunshin, similar to the 'Combined Henge' that Naruto and Gamabunta use in the battle with Gaara) is probably something Sakura and Naruto came up just for the occasion, and not exactly all that useful outside of a situation like this. However, it IS a new technique they both have, so if you're trying to build an encyclopedia of techniques for them from this fic... here's another one.
Next Chapter - Lee starts his mission. Hiashi and Hinata talk, Hanabi acting as moderator. Kireme explains why she is the way she is. And, well, we'll see if I add anything else. (I have no ideas for a Naruto Sakura Honeymoon scene, or rather, I can't think of another writable idea for a lemon between the two of them. IF I decide to include one, however, next chapter may be censored. Unlikely, however)