Naruto Fan Fiction ❯ Training for the Job ❯ Volume 4 Chapter 12 ( Chapter 72 )

[ Y - Young Adult: Not suitable for readers under 16 ]
Volume 4
Author's notes: For those of you keeping up with the manga, it is now quite apparent that Anko is not Naruto's mother in canon. Oh, well -- I knew it was likely I was wrong. However, as I've been working on this fanfic for several years, now, and this storyline has been in the works since chapter 1 of volume 1, I'm not changing anything. Oh, and despite what you may think, it is actually more significant -- for the purposes of this fic -- that Anko was the Fourth's lover, rather than that Anko was Naruto's mother. Why? Well... that'll come up in a dozen chapters or so, perhaps....

Chapter 12

Ino was pacing at the gates to town. It had been a long couple of weeks, and a lot of things had happened. Iruka had only left the hospital two days before, into the waiting arms -- and bed, unless Ino missed her guess; the assumption they were sleeping together, at least, Ino knew the matriarch was right about -- of Ayame. Naruto had formally taken the deal negotiated between Hinata and Hiashi, tied up the loose-end type of details, and got them both to sign it. Kakashi, privately explaining that he wanted to be out of the picture when his clan head made his final decision on the vote, left for Blossom to reclaim his position as the Jounin-Oyabun. And the vote to confirm Naruto had been announced... and was supposed to be that day. Hopefully, everyone would make it in time, but Ino was beginning to wonder.

A flash of pink landed in a blur in front of her before resolving itself into the image of Sakura's mother. "I didn't think I'd make it," she panted. "Someone set up an ambush for me along the road, and I had to detour around it. Am I going to be late?"

"Hyuuga," Ino growled under her breath, gritting her teeth. Forcing a more friendly expression on her face, she turned to the older woman. "No, Haruno-san. You've still got a half hour to get to the hokage's tower."

The Haruno woman sighed. "Well, I was afraid of that. I guess I need to go into the meeting all dirty and sweaty from my travels, with no time to clean. It'll make the others take me less seriously, when I get a chance to speak on Naruto's behalf."

"That is the least of our problems right now," Ino sighed, leading the woman inside. "I've done all the counting, and I don't see how it's going to work. Gekko, Akadou, Shiranui, Yamashiro, Umino, Homura, Tobitake, Tsurugi, Kamizuki, Tatami, and Mitarashi clans are almost certainly voting against him. I saw Mitarashi-san talking with the Hyuuga matriarch the other day, and it didn't look like she was in much disagreement -- we needed all the undecideds to go for Naruto-dono, and it looks like we lost one. That makes it a tie, at worst, at eleven to eleven. Hatake might even decide to vote against, which would make it twelve to ten. We need a miracle."

The Haruno matriarch smiled. "Never give up, dear. Naruto has pulled through worse. You never know what could happen."

"Yeah, the Uchiha, Uzumaki, and Anraku clans could all show up and vote for him," Ino sighed. "Unfortunately, those clans have either died out or aren't eligible any more, so I don't think that's likely."

The Haruno woman had a strange smile on her face. "Like I said, dear, you never know what could happen."


"Okay, everyone, you're dismissed. Lee-kun, Tenten-chan, please stay for a moment," Kakashi said as he read the report with a frown. He waited until Gai and the rest of the administrative staff left the room and the door closed before he addressed the two remaining ninja. "Okay, for the most part I understand your decisions, Neji-kun, but there is one that has me puzzled. Tell me just why you didn't get Gai to approve the mission expansion?"

"Lee-kun could handle the mission we had given him," Neji reported, sighing. "But niether he nor we have the personnel to be exploring the areas that this supposed 'kyuubi' is inhabiting. Blossom is not equipped for a mission of that magnitude, so I decided to keep him to the original contract, and once all the reports were back we would relay our concerns to Konoha and request enough reinforcement to conduct such an s-class mission."

Kakashi shook his head. "You're too much of a 'by the book' thinker for your job. Back when Blossom was much smaller than it is now, Naruto-kun managed to take just a few ninja and win a small war against the Grass on behalf of the Rainbow, because it was the right thing for him and this village to do, even though we hadn't even been cleared to exceed assigning C-ranked missions at the time. Even with many of its founding members now back in Konoha, we have a much stronger force now than we did then. The situation in Konoha proper is such that it cannot handle these reports, so requesting reinforcements from them is not an option at this time. However, this job must get done -- someone is attempting to make Konoha look bad by somehow using a false kyuubi to attack villages in the North, and we must prove that it is not kyuubi, as we claim -- truthfully -- to have the kyuubi contained."

Neji gave a slight frown of his own. "So... what do we do, then?"

"Well, the first step is to reinforce Lee-kun. With the reinforcements, we will be asking him to conduct the closer investigation he recommended. We'll play it by ear -- he won't have as many people as he needs, but I'm sure he'll understand why. Tenten-chan!"

"Yes, sir!" she chirped. She had begun to wonder why she was in this meeting, and her attention had drifted slightly, but now it was fully on Kakashi again.

"Numbers are limited, but we will pull everyone we can. Take your team, the ANBU team Anko-san left us, Seiteki Pansuke, and Hiniku Butakatsu. The later two are the survivors of what once was Ino-chan's team, and while ranked as genin they are easily chuunin level or above in terms of talent -- their undercover mission, however, prevented them from taking the chuunin exam. With this group, you are to join Lee-san's team and place yourself under his command."

For some reason Kakashi couldn't understand, Tenten blushed. "Um, yes, sir."


To say that the visitor's balcony overlooking the council chambers in the hokage's tower would be an understatement. Never, in all of Konoha's history, had the room been standing room only... and there were still people outside waiting to come in. It was a madhouse, to say the least. Fortunately, Naruto had been allowed to bring some guests with him onto the floor of the chamber, so everyone from Blossom had a front row seat for the vote. So did Kiba, Kurenai, Iruka and Ayame, Shikamaru and Temari, Ino's family, and -- trying to hide from everyone's view after having been found out as a voyeur by his teammates -- Shino.

The room underneath the balconies was not tightly packed, but that was only because it was limited to invitees of the council, the hokage, and -- on this rare occasion -- the hokage designate and his guests. Naruto and all the guests, regardless of who invited them, were herded back behind a flimsy barricade by the council's sergeant-at-arms, an honorary position held by one of the Advisors, by law -- in this case, Koharu, the elderly female teammate of the late Third Hokage. Her days of actually being strong enough to take care of any of the duties a sergeant-at-arms had, outside of the ceremonial, were long past her, but she nonetheless continued playing the role and most people humored her. The Advisors used to have considerable power in the village, but as their age caught up with them that power had decreased to the point that they could easily be ignored. However, they had some ceremonial functions to the government on Konoha, and until someone said otherwise they would be allowed some pretence of still being important.

Tsunade was -- again, as part of this rare occasion -- presiding over the council as hokage. But, since the ceremony hadn't started yet, she -- as most of the clan representatives did -- decided to mingle with the guests. She was standing with Anko when she noticed the distracted look on the other woman's face. "What's wrong, Anko-chan?" she asked casually.

Anko pointed with a nod of her head. "Look over there," she sighed.

Tsunade glanced across the room to see the head of the Mitarashi clan engaged in what looked like a friendly conversation with the Matriarch of the Hyuuga clan. "How long have they been friends?"

"As far as I know, they aren't," Anko sighed. "But they both agree on one thing -- Naruto shouldn't be the next hokage."

Tsunade narrowed her eyes. "This is going to be a close vote, and we're going to need Mitarashi on our side. I know you have influence with the major leaders of your clan. Have you spoken with her at all?"

"And tell her what, exactly?" Anko snorted. "I already mentioned his solid record in Blossom, his strong technique base, all the proof I could find that he is not -- in fact -- the kyuubi; and after I was done, she simply laughed at me and said I had lost my right to question her decisions more than two decades ago." Anko sighed. "And she's right, I did, but I'm not wrong about Naruto."

Tsunade took a deep breath. "You know, there's one argument she might listen to you, for...."

"What? No. Oh, no. You can't--"

"If Naruto-kun loses his shot at hokage because you aren't willing to tell your own clan head what she really needs to know to make a proper decision," Tsunade snapped. "I will strip you of your rank and send you on D-class missions every day for the rest of your life."

Anko looked horrified -- for her, that was the greatest threat imaginable. "You... you...."

"So, will you talk with her?" Tsunade asked.

Anko sighed. "I guess I have no choice, do I?" she asked. Tsunade watched the other woman as she approached the Mitarashi clan head, who -- fortunately -- had ended her conversation with the Hyuuga matriarch and had moved on to a young man she barely recognized as a very young member of her clan who currently was an Academy student. Giving Anko enough time to talk proved difficult, considering how many people were starting to get impatient while waiting for things to begin, but somehow she managed to delay things for a few minutes. There was no telling if that was enough, but at least there was a chance of Mitarashi ending up in Naruto's favor.

The dull roar of people talking ended as Tsunade made her way to the elevated podium installed at the front of the council chamber for her use. "This meeting is called to order. Will the Council President please step forward and begin his duty?"

Homura, the other teammate of the late Third Hokage, stepped forward. Once again, his days of actual power were long past him -- including the brief period of time when he had attempted to usurp the hokage's authority by controlling what the council would vote on -- but he had ceremonial duties to perform, and he was theoretically still in charge of setting the agenda for the day. He didn't get along very well with Tsunade, any more, but he was too old and tired to fight her demands, and so he ran the council as she wanted him to run it. "A hokage-designate has been placed before us," he intoned, reciting words that had been written down more than a century before just for such a purpose. Those words had never actually been used in the ceremony, but with so many visitors it seemed as if proper protocol should be followed. "It will be the council's decision as to whether he has the fitness for the job. Uzumaki Naruto-dono, please step forward."

Naruto, realizing that a dream he had been pursuing for as long as he could remember was about to come to fruition, almost froze. A brief squeeze of his shoulder by Sakura was enough to get him moving, however, and he was allowed out of the 'box' of guests to stand before the council. "Present, Homura-dono," he replied. He knew the ceremony by heart, having memorized it when he was still an academy student, knew exactly how to address each member of the assembly, knew what would be expected of him, and knew how to present himself. Now all he needed to do was remember all those things when he actually needed to remember them the most, which -- considering how nervous he suddenly found himself to be -- might be a problem.

"Then let us begin, first, with the count of your techniques."

"I make a motion to waive the counting of techniques," came the call from Yuuhi. It was not unexpected, as it had been waived for the confirmation of the Second, Third, Fourth, and Fifth Hokage's, and everyone anticipated the motion to pass without debate. Even though the Yuuhi clan was believed to be against Naruto, even they didn't care to hear all of the techniques he had managed to master -- in fact, it would probably be for the best if everyone was unaware of what he had accomplished.

"With no objection?" Homura asked rhetorically. There had never been an objection to the motion in all of Konoha's history, and no-one expected one now.

"I object," came the startling words from the seat of the Umino clan's representative. The Hyuuga Matriarch's seat was immediately to his right, as she was not allowed to stay in the same alcove as Hinata and Hiashi voted from, and it was obvious she had prompted the Umino head to make this objection rather than do it herself. "I have seen no proof that this young man that I most remember for vandalizing the Hokage monuments can even count to a thousand, much less that he has mastered a thousand techniques. So, let us count them, shall we?"

Homura froze, and most of the audience seemed to be in shock. Had this man actually insulted the hokage-designate so blatantly, on the record, in front of the entire council and the entire public? And why had he even bothered with this, anyway -- the thousand techniques weren't actually required to become hokage, they just made it possible to bypass a large set of additional requirements.

"Oh, come on, Umino-san," Asuma said from the seat of the Sarutobi clan. "Why are you wasting everyone's time with this drivel?"

"It is not 'drivel,'" Umino shot back angrily. "I believe a boy with his... background... needs to prove that he's actually qualified for a job like this. Or is it your intention to cover for him? Does the boy actually have a thousand techniques in his arsenal, or is someone being a bit creative with the numbers. I will not withdraw my objection."

Homura took a deep breath, closing his eyes. He let that breath out in a sigh. "As the motion to waive the count of techniques requires unanimity, I am forced to ask that the hokage-designate start the list."

The count of techniques was literally that -- it was a count of how many techniques the appointed person could do. All the candidate was required to do was to say the name of the technique, and if there were no objections he could move on to the next one. If someone did object, however, a demonstration of some sort could be called for. It was going to be a long, tedious project, but according to the law Naruto was required to do it.

"My first technique," Naruto called out in a clear voice. "Is straight punch from horse stance."

The first few hundred techniques should not include any surprises. Just about every Academy student -- and most non-Academy students -- knew the first two hundred techniques from hand to hand combat training. It was almost impossible to grow up in Konoha -- or virtually any Ninja village -- and not know those techniques.

However, Umino refused to see it that way. "I wish to see a demonstration!" he deanded nearly at the top of his voice.

Naruto sighed, got into a horse stance, and threw the punch -- with precision, accuracy, and grace. When everyone was satisfied and moved on. "My second technique is high punch from horse stance."

"I demand my right to see a demonstation!" Umino cried again.

Sitting from her spot in the guest pen, Sakura sighed. "This looks like it's going to be a long evening."


Tenten knocked on the door of the brothel's office. "Hello, is Kireme-sensei in?"

The Madame glanced up and gave her a nervous smile. Ever since that night that she had shown up to the brothel drunk and with a student in tow, Tenten sensed that the Madame wasn't quite sure how to deal with her. Still, she remained as polite and helpful as she always had. "Yes, dear, I'll go get her for you."

It wasn't long before Kireme arrived, smiling pleasantly at the kunoichi. "Hello, Tenten-chan. What can I do for you?"

Tenten smiled. "I have to leave for a prolonged mission shortly, where I'll be helping Lee-kun to expand the scope of his current mission. This means I'll have to withdraw from your class for this session."

Kireme's smile slipped slightly. "Oh, that's a shame -- you seemed to finally be starting to see the advantages of the course."

Tenten smiled hesitantly. "Well... I suppose that maybe I was. But it's not like I have a choice...."

Kireme's eyes narrowed slightly. "And what about Lee-kun -- will you be working with him much on this mission?"

Tenten flushed. "Well, I am supposed to put myself 'under his command...'"

Kireme laughed. "Oh, I'll just bet you will. But keep in mind that he's probably not expecting anything too forward from you, so go gently... and remember what I told you about removing spandex suits off of men."

The kunoichi's blush deepened. "Um, right. I'll remember."

"Oh, and there's one thing you might want..." Kireme began, walking over to her office desk and looking through a drawer. She pulled a small bag out and handed it to her. "You might want this."

Ino looked inside, and saw -- among a number of small items she couldn't immediately identify -- a bottle of fine sake, even better than the bottle she had given to Lee before he left. "Thank you," she said. "I'm sure this will be better for Lee-kun than any of the rotgut he usually uses for his drunken boxing style."

Kireme nodded. "There's some other items in there I'm sure the two of you will find just as useful."

"Oh?" Tenten asked, digging into the bag to pull something out. "What?"

"Massage oil," Kireme replied. "Naruto and Sakura swear it's some of the best stuff around for adding a little spice into their sex lives."

Tenten nearly dropped the bottle she was holding, but then slowly put it back into the bag. She thought long and hard about how to reply, before she realized just what she wanted to say. "Well... I'll let you know if I agree with them."


"For my two hundred seventh technique," Naruto said, his voice still clear but nevertheless sounding rather bored. "I have the bunshin no jutsu."

"I insist on seeing you perform this technique," Umino demanded for the two hundred and seventh time.

"Oh, this is long past ridiculous," Tsunade snapped. "By virtue of his graduating the Academy as a genin, we already know he can perform the first two hundred and fourty techniques, at least -- every student who does not have a waiver, which Naruto-dono never obtained, must demonstrate a mastery of all the basic techniques that Konoha teaches. Umino-san, either remove your objection to the waiver, or add some sense to your challenges, but quit challenging the techniques that everyone knows he can do and everyone has seen him perform. All you are doing is wearing him out, and testing the patience of every citizen in Konoha."

"It is my right to ask to see every technique he claims he can do with my own eyes, provided it is not a kinjutsu as certified by the council," Umino insisted. "He has successfully registered one hundred fourty seven of his techniques as kinjutsu, but I have a right to see all eight hundred fifty three of the remaining techniques he is required to perform. And I will do so -- I will not trust his word, nor the word of those whose his influence has corrupted, as proof that he can perform these techniques."

Naruto's eyes twitched. "It's alright, Tsunade-sama," he said. "He can challenge me to see any technique he wants."

Tsunade had a bad feeling in her gut at the look in his eyes, but nodded. "Very well. Perform the bunshin."

Naruto easily accomplished the technique that had given him so many fits in his Academy days, and then dispelled the images. "My two hundred eighth technique," he intoned, "Is the Harem no Jutsu."

Ino fell out of her chair in surprise, and Sakura slapped a hand over her eyes in frustration. "Naruto... what are you thinking?" Sakura whispered to herself.

Iruka, sitting between Ino and Ayame, blinked. "I'm not familiar with that technique. You seem to know what it is, though, Ino-chan, and you don't exactly look happy...."

Ino sighed, reclaiming her chair. "Remember the 'sexy no jutsu?'"

Iruka suddenly wasn't sure he really wanted to know, but continued anyway. "Uh... yeah."

"Think that, combined with kage bunshin," she whispered back, shaking her head.

"Oh... no. Naruto, don't--"

"I have never even heard of this technique," Umino called, not paying any attention to the junior member of his clan who he regarded as a traitor for supporting the boy that was the kyuubi. "I insist you demonstrate it!"

Naruto grinned evilly. "Oh, if you insist. This is actually an improved version of the original technique that some of you are familiar with, adapted from a varient of the kage bunshin that Ino-chan taught me." He turned and waved to the blond girl. "Thanks for the help, by the way."

Ino, trying to hide her face behind her hands, waved him off. "Don't mention it. Please don't mention it...."

"Harem no jutsu!"

Without the former interim step of a normal kage bunshin, a cloud of smoke revealed Naruto standing in the middle of a throng of naked, blond, female versions of himself, smoke still obscuring the important bits of each clone. "Umino-sama!" the girl-clones chorused in a high pitched, seductive manner, swarming on him. "Umino-sama!" they called again, crawling over themselves to get into his alcove. "Umino-sama!"

Chaos broke out in the council chambers. Ayame had painfully slapped her hand over Iruka's eyes, keeping his eyes from seeing the sight, but not every male had the same somewhat dubious fortune. Men were passing out from nosebleeds left and right, Jiraiya -- unable to resist -- pulled out pen and paper and started taking notes for the next volume of Icha Icha Paradise, Shino simply enjoyed the scene without letting on to the world that he was enjoying the simulated female flesh, and Hiashi... well, Hiashi was unable to keep from laughing right alongside Naruto. That is, until Sakura left her place in the guest's pen, and advanced upon Naruto to start berating him for even considering showing the council such a technique -- then he was laughing by himself.

As the clones -- which Naruto no longer completely controlled, having given them somewhat independent thought as a side effect of summoning them with Ino's kage bunshin variant -- gradually wore out the small amount of chakra they had been granted for the 'demonstration,' order was slowly restored. When the last clone was dissipated and the last unconscious man was revived or carried out of the room, Naruto -- now free from Sakura -- turned to address Umino with a dangerous smile on his face. "Do you still wish to see all of my techniques, Umino-san? I actually have well over a thousand, enough to completely avoid all of my 'perverted ninjutsu' techniques, but if you're going to insist on seeing every technique I can do, I'll continue with the other one hundred twenty three perverted ninjutsu techniques."

Sakura, back in her seat, twitched. "He only showed me a hundred and seven techniques for that style," she snorted softly. "Naruto-kun, you and I will be having a long talk when this vote is over."

Umino, his clothes stained with his own blood and his heart racing so hard he was afraid he would have a heart attack, shook his head. "I... I remove my objection. The technique count can be waived."

"Well, I object," Jiraiya said, grinning slightly. "I've only seen twelve of those techniques, and I insist on seeing the rest of them."

Tsunade's eyes twitched. "The council will ignore Jiraiya-sama's objection, as he has no official standing here."

"Without any, uh, valid objections?" Homura called, looking as if he was just a step away from a heart attack, himself.

"I would like to ask the Hokage-designate a question before deciding whether to object or not," Hiashi replied.

Homura seemed to think about it before nodding. "It is allowable. Go ahead."

"For what purpose is this, uh, 'perverted ninjutsu' used?" Hiashi asked. He knew he was almost certainly going to vote for Naruto, but -- as amusing as the technique's most recent application was -- it lead to some serious concerns about Naruto's fitness for the job. At the very least, he deserved the opportunity to clear the air about it, if for no reason than to alleviate the fears of those council members who might still be on the fence. "Most would assume, from your reputation, that it's primary function is as a practical joke, but it sounds as if you've actually spent a considerable amount of time developing it -- more than the amount of time I would expect someone with serious intentions to become hokage to spend on practical jokes."

Naruto grinned, knowing what the Hyuuga patriarch was trying to do. "It has many functions, actually," Naruto began. "The very first technique I consider a part of my 'perverted ninjutsu' arsenal was initially a simple varient of the henge. In certain applications, that varient is a kinjutsu -- and you will note the 'sexy no jutsu,' this first technique of perverted ninjutsu, is on the scroll of registered kinjutsu that the council had approved prior to this meeting. The reason for that is that this technique is a training form of that kinjutsu, also known as the 'hokage no jutsu,' a suicide technique that turns the user into a ball of fire."

That caused mutters among the gathered crowd. "When was this technique developed?" Inoichi Yamanaka asked, already knowing the answer from the stolen memories Ino had shared with him years before.

"While I was still an Academy student," Naruto explained, causing more mutters. For such a dangerous technique to be developed at such a young age was rare, to say the least. "Now, when testing the 'sexy no jutsu,' I notice what might be called an obvious trend -- many older men would be momentarily stunned, if they didn't downright pass out, when suddenly confronted with such a sight. There are always situations where a ninja may want to subdue a friendly target without hurting him, and so I began occasionally using the 'sexy no jutsu' and 'harem no jutsu' to disable friendlies. I never used it during serious situations, or during training exercises where such a distraction might unfairly skew the results of what I could actually do, but I would occasionally add a variation or even a completely original technique to the set I started calling my 'perverted ninjutsu.' Finally, a brothel worker from Blossom named Kireme Sakura, who wanted to learn enough ninja techniques to qualify as a ninja auxilliary in order to be our liscenced instructor in courtesan training, agreed to work with me to develop the technique set further in exchange for instruction in the basic techniques. For her, it was saving face -- I was willing to teach her for free, but she would not accept the service without some form of repayment, and as I had no need for her... services, it seemed like a fair arrangement."

"That's not how I remember it," Sakura muttered to herself again. "But I suppose a half-truth works, in this case."

"Oh?" Iruka said, overhearing. "In what way is it a half-truth?"

"She really did help him develop the techniques," Sakura said, "But that was long before the training he is talking about. She offered to continue working with him on the techniques in exchange for that training, but to the best of my knowledge he never took her up on that."

"He did," Ino replied. "And you should know, since it was the combo technique the two of you pulled as a prank at the wedding. Kireme-chan told me he wanted 'something special' he could do with you, and that she gave him a suggestion that she said I would see at your wedding day."

Sakura blushed. "I can't believe he talked me into that one."

"Don't knock it," Ino chuckled, keeping her laughter down so as not to disrupt the proceedings. "I thought it was great, and I think everyone else did, too."

Turning their attention back to the council proceedings, they realized that they had failed to hear Hiashi's acceptance of Naruto's explanation and the council agreeing to move on to the next step of his confirmation. " representative, and a second, to debate before the vote. Who will stand and represent the opposition to Naruto-dono?"

There was a brief pause. The Hyuuga matriarch looked rather frustrated, but the rules wouldn't allow her to speak despite being the leader of the opposition. She only had one third of the Hyuuga seat, and unless either Hinata or Hiashi agreed she could not take any stand in any debate -- she could take the role of second, but not the top role. Fortunately, even though her first proxy speaker -- Umino -- had humiliated himself beyond usefulness, she had other pawns willing to do her dirty work. Including one she was sure would demoralize his base. With a nod, she signalled that man to proceed.

"I, patriarch of the Hatake clan, will lead the opposition to Naruto-san's confirmation. I believe he is unfit for the job, and will do my best to prove it."

That caused several people in the audience -- most members of the Hatake clan themselves -- to grumble angrilly. Others seemed to support him, but even they were wary at the man's betrayal of the consensus view of his clan. There were things a council member could do regardless of what others in his clan felt, but for something as important as the confirmation of a hokage it was deemed morally unacceptable for a clan head to act in opposition to his own clan.

However, his claim to speak for the Hatake was legitimate, and Homura recognized it. "Very well. Hatake-dono may come to the podium. Will anyone act as your second in this debate?"

"I will," the Hyuuga matriarch declared as expected, stepping forward.

"Do you object to Hyuuga-dono acting as your second, Hatake-dono?" Homura asked.

"None whatsoever, Homura-dono."

"Very well," Homura replied. "Come to the podium, Hyuuga-dono. Who will stand and represent the supporters for Naruto-dono?"

The natural choice would usually be the head of the clan that the candidate belonged to, but in Naruto's case most people believed he had no clan to represent for him. The next most logical choice would be the head of the Haruno clan, but Sakura's mother was busy picking forest debris off of her clothes, and not looking concerned at all. No-one, however, was expecting the next person to stand for him.

"I will take the podium for my husband," Sakura declared, stepping out from the visitor's pen.

Homura frowned. "You are not eligible, Sakura-san. Even as the Hokage-designate's wife, you have no formal standing here. Your mother represents the Haruno clan on this council, and so you may not."

"But I am not here to represent the Haruno clan," Sakura explained, then dramatically walked over to a long-abandoned alcove in the chamber. "As the wife of the last surviving member of the Uzumaki clan, I will take the seat to represent my husbands clan. The Uzumaki clan will stand in support of its own, and I will represent it."

Again, that got the audience talking. Many people disassociated Naruto from the legendary Uzumaki of the past, but Tsunade herself had confirmed he was the son of the Fourth -- the last known Uzumaki alive. As his wife, she would be responsible for helping him to restore his clan... and that included giving his clan representation on the council. Tsunade looked pleased, but startled. Naruto, Konoha's number one ninja at surprising people, had apparently worked out one more surprise with his wife... and it just might work out to give him the title of Hokage, despite the opposition he was facing.

Homura frowned, but he could think of no way to prevent her from taking the seat. "Very well. Sakura Uzumaki-dono, you may come to the podium. Will anyone act as your second in this debate."

At this, Sakura's mother looked up. Her original plan, made with Sakura just a few weeks before, would have her acting as second. However, she was concerned that her physical appearance, after the difficult trip to Konoha, would react negatively towards Naruto's candidacy. Fortunately, after a moment's hesitation, she learned that she didn't need to worry. A fierce smile and nod from Tsunade sent someone else into motion.

"I will speak as his second," came yet another voice from the pen. Ino blinked, looking to her side to see Ayame standing up. Iruka was smiling the craftiest smile Ino had ever seen on her former sensei's face, and suddenly Ino knew this was something he had been planning for some time. Ayame leapt over the pen's gate, and walked over to one of the other long-abandoned alcoves. "I am aware that it takes sponsorship, a willingness to share some technique, and the general recognition of the Council as an invaluable resource to Konoha in order for a new clan to name someone to the council, but I do not belong to a 'new' clan. My clan has long discontinued its role as ninja, but all we need to return to the council is one person qualified to act as a ninja. I have taken an equivalency exam, and am now a certified reserve in the rolls. So I, Anraku Ayame, will take the seat abandoned by my ancestors, and my clan will stand in support of Naruto-dono as the second."

Suddenly, it clicked in Ino's head -- Tsunade and Iruka had been planning this for years. That explained why Teuchi and Ayame had retired, why Ayame always seemed so interested in her and Iruka's plans, why Tsunade never seemed concerned about Naruto's confirmation. Even Ayame and Iruka's relationship -- as obviously real as it was -- likely started because he had been tutoring her in ninja techniques to pass the reservists exam. Sakura taking the Uzumaki seat threw everyone for a loop, even Tsunade, but this was something that several people had expected. Even, Ino realized, the Hyuuga matriach -- that was why she had attempted to assassinate Ayame two weeks before. It occured to Ino that she had never even realized Teuchi or Ayame's last name, but it should have been obvious -- after all, the Anraku clan, who's name meant comfort, would be the ones to name a ramen specialty store meant to be run by one person (though Ayame later joined on as an apprentice and waitress) the Ichiraku, or One Comfort.

Homura sighed. Some days, things just didn't go in as orderly a fashion as he would have liked. "Oh, hell. Sakura Uzumaki-dono, do you have any objection to Anraku-dono acting as your second?"

Sakura, a bit confused, glanced over at her mother. Getting a shrug in response, all she could do was shrug back. "I have no objection."

"Very well," Homura said, shaking his head. "Anraku Ayame, you may come to the podium."

The debate lasted for two hours, and was heavilly one-sided. As cultured as the Hyuuga matriarch was, and as politically saavy she and Hatake were known to be, the objections they raised would have been regarded by even the most remotely unbiased observer as utterly ridiculous. Sakura and Ayame, meanwhile, while not nearly as polished in their debating skills, were brutal in the way they shot every argument against down, and in how they put forward arguments that could not otherwise be countered. They brought out sworn affidavits by Kakashi, Iruka, Teuchi, and others of how the Third Hokage had often discussed with others his belief as to how great of a hokage Naruto could be. In a court of law, those affidavits would have been thrown out as heresay, but this was a debate and not a court of law. Sakura recounted every example of leadership Naruto demonstrated in Blossom. Ayame recounted story after story of how Naruto would go around helping people, from giving young children such as Konohamaru free ramen vouchers -- the same free ramen vouchers that he essentially lived on, meaning that by giving one away he would need to skip a meal -- to help comfort them in times of distress. As more and more came to light about Naruto's achievements and character, even many of his most fervent doubters began to change their minds about him.

The problem was, even with two extra votes, the loss of Mitarashi had doomed Naruto's chances. Ino had been thinking about it over the hours that the confirmation process had been ongoing, and realized that with Hatake and Mitarashi on the side against, even if everyone else voted for him he would wind up with a twelve to twelve tie. There was no tie-breaking vote, but rather the abstension the Uchiha clan would deliver would be counted as a no, so a tie was as good as a loss... and that meant it was all for naught.

Finally, however, the debates ended. Even Homura seemed to be regarding Naruto with a little more respect, but the people Iruka had identified as certain no votes for Naruto looked as obstinant about their decision as they could get. "We now call for the vote to take place. The vote will be in random order, as determined by draw," the Council President announced. He reached into a box next to him and pulled out a tile. He couldn't believe this was the first tile to call. "Um... Uchiha clan!"

For a moment, everyone held their breath. This day had seen the return of not one, but two clans long thought lost to Konoha's ranks. It was almost as if everyone was anticipating that Uchiha Sasuke would march through the door and declare he was voting on their behalf.

After a long moment, Tsunade broke the ice. "It appears as if the Uchiha Clan is not present, and so their vote should be counted as an abstention."

"So noted," Homura sighed in relief, marking down the Uchiha's default vote in the formal records before pulling out a new tile. "Uchiha abstains. Hagane clan!"

"The Hagane clan votes no."

"Hagane votes no. Akadou clan!"

"The Akadou clan votes no."

"Akadou votes no. Gekko Clan!"

There was a long hesitation before the head of the Gekko clan said anything, but a glare from the Hyuuga Matriarch prompted him to speak. "The Gekko clan... regretfully... must vote no."

People were starting to mutter, now. No hokage-designate had ever been denied, yet now -- with just four votes in -- there were three votes to deny his confirmation, and an abstension. By this point, most of the people who had suffered through the long day were fervently in support of Naruto, but it seemed as if the clan heads were going to vote him down. For the first time in a long time, people started to wonder if the clan system was the right one for Konoha.

"Gekko votes no. Morino clan," Homura called.

Morino stepped forward, glaring at the people who had already voted no. Gekko couldn't meet his gaze, but the other two stared back defiantly. "The Morino clan thinks anyone who votes against Naruto-dono doesn't deserve to lead a clan, much less to sit on the council. The Morino clan votes Aye." Then, with a wink to the astonished Ino, he sat back down.

That comment brought cheers from the crowd, making it impossible for Homura to continue until some semblence of order could again be restored. Finally, however, people had quieted down enough for him to speak.

"Morino votes Aye," he said, his voice rising above the cheers. People started settling down, remembering that the vote had yet to finish. "Hatake clan."

"The Hatake clan votes no," Hatake noted.

That caused another brief eruption as several members of the Hatake clan leapt down from the balcony. One of them stepped forward. "Homura-dono, we of the Hatake clan would like to challenge our patriarch's competency, and ask that his vote be removed from the record until such time as an internal clan investigation proves whether or not he is serving our clan's best interests, or his own."

Hatake's eyes widened. "Why you treacherous sons of bitches, I'll have you ostracized for this!" he growled.

Homura just shook his head. He was far too old for this. "Hatake-dono has been registered as your clan representative for many years, now. While you have every right to challenge his competency, you cannot change your clan's vote after it has been made. Hatake votes No."

The stricken members of the Hatake clan turned to regard their clan head with loathing. Anyone in the room could feel the killing intent between Hatake and his clansmen, but there was nothing anyone could do about this vote. However, several members of the clan grabbed Hatake and dragged him out of the room while he struggled, and it was only after they were all gone that the vote could continue.

"As I said," Homura continued. "Hatake votes no. Maito clan!"

"Aye," came the quick reply, the Maito clan head not even bothering with the formal phrasing.

"Maito votes Aye," Homura sighed, again, thinking of retirement. "Umino clan."

Iruka, inspired by the actions of the Hatake, decided to try something himself. "I, a member of the Umino clan, challenge my patriarch's competency, and ask that he be replaced before he can vote with someone who will make an unbiased decision. He ignored the concerns of his fellow clan members, his behavior in these proceedings has shown clear bias and stupidity, and he is in the pocket of Hyuuga-dono, and outspoken critic of Naruto-dono. He is also the only other possible person who could have known of Ayame's testing for the ninja reserves, and I believe he informed on my teaching her. The person who he reported to apparently set up an assassination attempt for her, one that involved a near lethal attack on a member of our clan -- namely, me. These things all demonstrate that he lacks the fitness to lead, and therefore I request that an internal investigation be completed before he has a chance to vote."

Before Homura could say anything one way or the other, Umino jumped from his seat and ran at his junior. "Why you little pipsqueak, I'll kill you!"

Iruka, unprepared for the assault while in full view of the entire council and hundreds of citizens of Konoha, could only stare in shock as his clan head charged at him, a hidden weapon drawn and aimed at his heart. He started to perform the seals for a replacement technique, but a moments hesitation as he tried to find something to replace himself with cost him any chance of completing it in time.

Fortunately, there were other ninja who could move faster. A split second before a kodachi blade would have been six inches deep into his heart, Naruto was standing between the two members of the Umino clan, his hand clenched so tightly on the clan patriarch's wrist that the bones were surely in danger of breaking underneath. "Stop!" he commanded.

Umino tried to resist, pulling his hand away, but that didn't get Naruto to release him. Instead, all it managed to do was to get his wrist to snap. "Aagh!" he cried in pain.

Naruto, still holding on with an unrelenting grip, turned to look at his one-time Academy instructor. "Thank you, Iruka-sensei, but I don't need you to do this. I'd hate to lose you..." He cocked his head in the direction of the terrified Ayame. "And so would some others, I suspect. As for you, Umino-dono..." His grip tightened, grinding the shards of bone together and forcing him to drop his sword. "It would be wise not to attack my friends in front of me, understand?"

Umino stared in horror at his mangled wrist, but then glanced up in defiance. "The Umino clan," he called, his voice cracking. "Votes no."

Homura hesitated, but Naruto nodded at him. "Um... while the challenge is noted, once more it is too late at this time to replace the representative of the Umino clan. He votes no, and therefore Umino votes no."

Naruto smiled at Iruka. "Thanks for trying, Iruka-sensei, but don't worry -- things will work out. I will become hokage some day, even if I have to wait until I'm nominated again."

Iruka slowly nodded back. "If you say so, Naruto."

"Now, Umino-dono... go back to your seat. If you behave, then maybe one of the medical ninja -- who I'll remind you are all in my corner -- will take a look at your wrist when this is over, okay?"

Umino paled as the realization dawned on him. Between Shizune in Blossom, and Sakura and Tsunade in Konoha, the principle leaders of the medical community in Konoha were, indeed, all in support of Naruto. Undoubtedly, they would influence their subordinates to support him as well... which no-one, not even the Hyuuga matriarch whose genius was thought to be unquestionable by her supporters, had ever considered.

"Shiranui clan," Homura called, hoping this vote would go normally.

There was a very long pause. "We are of mixed feelings, in the Shiranui clan. If we could withhold our vote until we knew what the decision of the council was, we would, but that is not possible. Since withholding a vote is not acceptable in this circumstance, and we must make a decision now...." He glanced over at Naruto, who seemed unconcerned, then to Sakura who looked anxious, then to the furious Hyuuga matriarch and to the pale-faced Umino. "I do not like the behavior of those I am siding with, but I must vote as my clan decided upon before the council hearings began. It is possible my clan may have changed its view hearing these proceedings, as I have, but I -- unlike Hatake and Umino, who voted in contradiction of their clan's beliefs -- will side with what I honestly believe my clan's decision to be. For the record, Shiranui votes no, though I, personally, would rather vote aye."

Homura nodded. "Shiranui votes No. Nara clan!"

At this point, despite a few moral victories with the Morino clans' statement, the Hatake and Umino clan's rebellion, and the Shiranui clan's reluctance, Naruto's camp was starting to feel the pinch. Currently, at two to six against, with one abstension, things looked pretty bleak. However, a tide of votes for Naruto started turning things around. "Nara votes aye."

"Nara, aye. Haruno clan!"

"Haruno votes aye, obviously."

"Haruno, aye. Inuzuka clan!"

"Inuzuka votes aye," the Inuzuka matriarch proclaimed

"Inuzuka, aye. Aburame!"

"If I'd had any doubts, they disappeared during this session. Aburame votes aye."

"Aburame, aye. Tsurugi!"

"Tsurugi votes no." The first no vote in a while, just as Naruto was about to catch up, cast a bit of a pallor over the crowd, but things were moving at the speed they were expected to move, now, so Homura kept going before they could respond.

"Tsurugi, no. Sarutobi!"

"Sarutobi votes aye."

"Sarutobi, aye. Yamashiro!"

"Yamashiro votes no."

"Yamashiro, no. Anraku!"

"I think it's pretty obvious we're voting aye."

"Anraku, aye. Yuuhi!"

"Our clan is split, but I believe we should vote no."

"Yuuhi, no. Yamanaka!"

"Yamanaka votes aye."

"Yamanaka, aye. Uzumaki!"

"Like I would vote against my husband? Aye!"

"Uzumaki, aye. Hyuuga!"

"By a split decision of the three factions, the Hyuuga clan votes aye," Hiashi announced.

"Hyuuga, aye. Kamizuki!"

"We vote no."

"Kamizuki, no. Akimichi!"


"Akimichi votes aye. Tatami!"

"Tatami will vote against this candidate, though the law makes it impossible for use to state why."

"Tatami, no," Homura repeated. It was the first even remotely veiled reference to the kyuubi, which was a surprise as it was also the next to last vote to go. Naruto had twelve votes for him, and eleven votes with one abstension against him. It looked like he would be defeated, however, as everyone knew which way the next vote would go -- they had never approved a hokage in all of Konoha's existance, and it didn't seem likely they would now. Homura briefly -- very briefly -- felt sorry for the boy. "Mitarashi!"

The head of the Mitarashi clan said nothing for a very long time before she got up and walked over to Naruto. People started muttering, wondering what was going on, as she slowly walked around the young man, glancing all around him as if looking for something. Finally, she grabbed one of his hands, and pulled out a kunai. Gasps came from everyone as she sliced a small wound into his hand, but as he didn't even flinch no-one moved to defend him. Forcing some of his blood out of he wound, the Mitarashi licked it for a second, savoring the taste before utilizing her clan's bloodline specialty to analyze that blood. Everyone present knew of the Mitarashi shecial technique, so no-one was questioning just why she was doing this, but it still seemed very odd and not just a little creepy.

"The Mitarashi clan," she finally said. "Would never vote against the son of one of our own daughters. He is the son of the Fourth Hokage, who we could care less about but everyone else knew as the greatest Hokage in our history, even during his very short reign. However, he is also the son of Mitarashi Anko, our prodigal daughter, and therefore we cannot help but vote Aye!"

The chaos and pandimonium that erupted after that announcement -- both confirming Naruto as hokage and announcing him to be the son of the infamous Anko -- did not abate for several minutes. But the chaos didn't matter -- as Sakura left her seat and ran to embrace her husband in congratulations, and Tsunade tried to bring everyone back in order, Homura completed his duty recording the vote and announcing the decision.

Naruto was now the Sixth Hokage, and nothing could ever change that.


Author's Notes: The significance of Sakura taking the Uzumaki seat may not be completely clear, but if you'll recall Hana and Futaba's mother had to retire to the reserves in order to take her clan seat. So yes, for those who asked, Sakura did retire when she got married. 'Retirement' isn't exactly the same thing for a ninja of her level, however, as it would be for most people. She'll still have many ninja-related jobs, including being a council woman, working in the hospital, acting as Naruto's Advisor (as Homura and Koharu were for the Third), and so on. I just didn't think I needed to spell it all out.
Next Chapter: Council Business isn't over yet, as more than one traitor is revealed in their midst. Nanigoto Izuri meets with Tenten for the first time since the drunken night at the brothel.