Chapter 9: Special recon unit
Naruto chased the assassin feverously, all the while noting his sorroundings and footing. The assassin was only ninety feet away, he surmised. It was easy for him to eliminate the target from that range, but he needed him/her for questioning. Just as he stepped on the roof a house, a voice called out to him.
The voice was that of a woman's, a mature one to be exact. And it wasn't Anko. So who was it? He thought. There was only one other woman he knew was rather concerned about his mental health and if his memories served right, she was supposed to be out with her team.
"Tsurugi!" she called out.
Sensing the franticness of her voice, he brought himself to a halt and turned to her. "This had better be important, Yuuhi-san," he said to her in a cold voice.
The voice she heard was very different compared to the voice she used to hear when he was a child. She should know, given that the boy used to go to her whenever he was injured.
A twenty five year old Yuuhi Kurenai had just finished taking a bath when she heard a knocking from her door.
'That's strange,' she thought, 'the only one who would knock at this hour is Asuma, but he's away on a mission.'
"Coming," she yelled to the person from the door as she took a kunai from her gear pouch and held it in reverse grip to hide it from view.
The red eyed woman approached the door slowly and wall hugged the wall near the doorknob, then opened the door a little to observe the 'visitor'. To her surprise, a blond boy fell face forward to her floor and muttered a small 'Help me.' before he passed out.
Yuuhi Kurenai was known as a warm hearted woman, but a kunoichi first and foremost. So, trusting her instincts, she cast a paralyzing jutsu to the boy before she lifted him from the ground and set him on her queen-sized bed.
The boy, she observed was covered in cuts and bruises. None were deep nor life threatening alone, but there were almost a hundred of them all over his body; it could kill him with bloodloss if not treated quickly.
Seeing that there was nothing to lose should she help the boy, she went to her medicine cabinet and took a bottle of alcohol, a roll of bandages, and several bandaids. She did everything she could to help the poor little boy.
The boy came to several hours after he stumbled to her door and woke up drearily. Seeing the unfamiliar ceiling, he surmised that he was in another room in the hospital until a woman's voice called him.
"Oh? You're awake, I thought it would take later until you can wake up."
"I… I've been in worse conditions. I think I've gotten used to it," Naruto said, suppressing a grimace of pain caused by his left arm.
"I see. What's your name? I don't think I've ever seen you around before," Kurenai said warmly.
"I'm Uzumaki Naruto,…"
"Yuuhi Kurenai, pleasure to be of acquaintance," she said, offering her hand.
Unsure of what to do, Naruto accepted the hand and shook it.
"I think," she said, "We will see a lot of each other."
"Hokage-sama summoned you," Kurenai said after she took a deep breath to calm herself.
"Summoned me?" Naruto asked back. "Very well."
"Wait, Tsurugi," the red eyed woman called to him before he used shunshin no jutsu. "I'll go with you."
The trip to the Hokage's office
"I was worried about you," Kurenai started.
"I'm perfectly fine. There is no need to be concerned about my well being," Naruto replied.
"Yeah, but after that one time you showed up on my door, I can't help but think that I'm responsible for you, you know."
"I am already considered an adult. You don't need the extra burden, neither do I need a guardian."
"I know, but still…"
"We all have our own roles to fulfill, Yuuhi-san. And being concerned about me is not one of yours," the blond stopped her as they both reached the Hokage's office.
"Let me worry about myself," he said with finality before he went in and closed the doors, not turning back.
"I can't do that," Kurenai whispered. "Not after I've seen what you could do."
Hokage's office, 1640 hrs
"Have you called for me, Hokage-sama?" the living weapon asked.
"I did. It's concerning your new mission, I thought I should break it up to you, Naruto-kun.
"Your mission," he said as he leaned forward and steepled his hands in front of his face, "Is to get as many information as you can about the new village, Otogakure and if possible, bring one of the residents back. Alive."
"Hai, Hokage-sama," Naruto said as he knelt down, one fist to the ground and his head bowed.
"The time limit for this mission is three months. You must get back here exactly one week before the chuunin exams, if not earlier.
"Your partner for this will be the girl you brought back, Haku."
"With all due respect, Hokage-sama; I believe she is not appropriate to accompany me in this mission."
"Why is that?"
"Because I believe she may try to jeopardize the mission by allowing her personal feelings get involved."
"She still doesn't trust you, is that what you mean?"
At this, the old man sighed and took a long drag of his pipe then continued, "Despite your status as a living weapon, you are one of the most persuasive people I've seen. Your methods of convincing, although extreme was arguably most efficient. Which lead me to believe that if anyone can make her join us, that person would be you."
"Thank you for the praise, Hokage-sama."
"I almost forgot… before you go, there is one more thing I need you to do."
Forest outside of Konoha, 2000 hrs
A gray haired man was panting hard, his head continously turned back and forth; searching for any pursuers if there are any. In his embrace was a large scroll that was valuable to Konohagakure no Sato: the forbidden scroll.
'Heh, I don't think they'd follow me this far,' he thought after several minutes' wait. 'Might as well make a run for it now.'
He stood up from his position and decided to make a run for it before he heard a voice calling out to him. "Mizuki, chuunin of Konohagakure. You have comitted a crime towards Konoha. For this act of treason, you are sentenced to death without trial. Surrender your life peacefully and I will make your punishment as painless as possible."
"No way," the gray haired man said confidently. "With the new jutsu I learned from this scroll, not even Konoha no Tsurugi can stop me!
"Try this: Tajuu kage bunshin no jutsu!"
Instantly, five hundred Mizuki's appeared before Naruto's eyes, but he didn't falter; after all he knew about that jutsu way before this insignificant chuunin did.
"Let's see how tough you are, Konoha no Tsurugi!" Mizuki yelled.
"Futile," the living weapon whispered. "Fuuken: Zan!"
A large wind blade was shot out from Naruto's position, cutting down several branches and the occasional tree top, but it did its original purpose: destroying Mizuki's clone army.
When the clone onslaught was finished, Mizuki smirked; he knew he could create more just to beat the shit out of Naruto and he knew the living weapon's position. It'd be a cakewalk.
What he didn't know however was the fact that Naruto was closer than he thought. Just as Mizuki was about to focus his chakra to make another clone army, suddenly two hands appeared from the ground.
"Doton: Shinjuu Zanshu no jutsu," Naruto said calmly as he walked to Mizuki, his mask still in place.
"What? How could you pull this off?" Mizuki yelled in confusion.
"Kage Bunshin," Naruto answered as he summoned a staff from his gloves. "And do not try to offer me anything. What I want, you are in no position to give."
With unrivaled efficiency, Naruto swung his long pole and struck the chuunin's head right on the skull, shattering it beyond recognition.
"Now, to deal with Haku…." The blond muttered.
Naruto's apartment, 1700 hrs
Haku had arrived hours earlier and was currently trying feverously to lockpick the door to Naruto's desolate room. The doorknob had 4 keyholes; that much she knew, but she didn't know how to open it. She tried one of the holes, the one inside the skull's mouth, but she failed; eventhough she heard the click. Then she tried the ones inside the skull's eyes and it still didn't open. Finally, when she tried to open the one in the skull's nose, she felt the coldness of a blade on her neck.
"Tsurugi," she croaked out.
"Haku, what are you doing?" Naruto asked calmly. "I thought I told you to stay away from my room."
"I'm not really a good listener," she answered defiantly.
"Is that so? Well, you would better listen more carefully then," he said coldly before he slit her throat.
Naruto's apartment, 2030 hrs
Haku woke up from her dream with cold sweat. That dream seemed so real, it wasn't funny. She laughed awkwardly, trying to ease her nerves. Absentmindedly, her hand reached to her neck and rubbed it.
'Something wet on my neck?' she thought. She fearfully retracted her hand while closing her eyes, hoping it wasn't blood. After several moments, she opened her eyes and saw blood.
Forgetting her ninja training, she screamed loudly.
'It seems she's awake,' Naruto thought. 'I should greet her.'
In her fearful daze, Haku didn't realize Naruto entering her room and still, with the ever present smile he greeted her. "Haku," he said calmly.
"Tsurugi," she greeted back. "What are you doing?"
"This is my home, I have every right to do what I desire, do I not?
"But, that is irrelevant at present. You see, there is something I want you to answer. Was it or was it not you who threw this?" he asked as he held up six pieces of the severed senbon.
Haku was rather hestitant when she answered, but she answered, "No."
"No?" Naruto seemed like he wanted to continue his interrogation, but he decided to postpone it and move to a more important matter. "Very well, let us leave it at that. We have a bigger issue at the moment.
"You will accompany me to a recon mission in Otogakure, starting three more days. You are to bring whatever is necessary. Pack lightly; we want to mingle with the crowd and gather information from within. Understand?"
The black haired girl looked at the blue eyed boy hardly before she finally nodded. "Good," he said as he turned to leave. "And by the way, that was a pretty feminine scream."
Haku was flustered and furious when he said that, something that was indicated by her action of hiding under the sheets of her bed. Then, realizing she had been mocked, she threw several more senbon needles to the blonde. But, the door stopped the weapons in its path.
After calming down her senses, she realized she hadn't asked the living weapon a rather important question regarding her neck and the blood on it. She cursed herself at her foolishness, but left the matter. After all, there were other chances for her to question him.
Outside Haku's Room
"Thank you for your help, Shizune-sempai," Naruto said to the black haired woman in the living room.
"It was nothing, Tsurugi-san," she said as she sipped her tea. "I was just in the neighborhood."
"Tsunade-sama is running away from her debt collectors, I presume?"
"Yes. It's getting worse; they seem to get smarter each time this happens."
"I see what you mean. Where is she?"
"Ooouuch! Ouch! Ouch! Aaah, that's nice," a voice from his bathroom said. "Hey, doesn't this guy have any scented shampoo or soap? Shizune, can you get me my toiletries?"
"In my bathroom I suppose?" Naruto asked calmly, knowing the blond woman's trait.
The black haired woman nodded hestitantly, rather ashamed of her mistress' habits.
"Shizune, where are my shampoo and soap?! Hurry up!" the voice from his bathroom yelled again.
"Uh, Tsurugi-san, please excuse me."
The living weapon didn't answer, but he inclined his head, excusing her. The black haired woman rummaged through her bags for her mistress' items and finally found it. Wordlessly, she walked to the bathroom and knocked on the door.
"Finally, what took you so long?" the buxom woman asked impatiently.
Shizune didn't answer, but pointed towards the ever smiling exANBU who was sitting crosslegged on the couch of his living room.
"Ah, Tsurugi," Tsunade greeted sheepishly.
"Greetings, Tsunage-sama. It has been a long time since I last seen you."
"Tsurugi, nice to see you so… smiley."
"I am always the same, Tsunade-sama. And it seems you are too."
Later that night, after Naruto made sure Haku's sleeping
"So, you're telling me that you'll be going for some unknown time and you want us to take care of your place?" Tsunade asked.
"Actually, only Shizune-sempai because I know for a fact that you will do no such thing," Naruto answered.
The buxom woman felt insulted, but let it slide. Everytime she wanted to beat him he would evade successfully, so there wasn't really any point to try to punch him.
"And… I want you to keep an eye out for Hokage-sama," the living weapon continued.
"What? You think someone's out for live?"
"Yes. It will not matter who will be trying to take our leader out of the picture, but we must make sure."
"Correction, Tsurugi. Only you. Last I checked, I don't have that responsibility."
"Oh, but you do. You see, you owe me something."
"Really? I thought Shizune healing that girl you almost killed paid the debt."
"No, that made me owe her something, but not to you. I still remember your debts to me; each one of them. And it will be bad publication for one of Konoha's most renowned kunoichi, will it not?"
"Are you blackmailing me?"
"Say what you will, you still owe me many things. Just do what I asked you to, and I will not bring this matter up."
"Fine, fine. Just tell me where the liquor cabinet is."
"Perfect. I thank you, Tsunade-sama."
Three days later
Naruto and Haku stood at the front of the entrance, saying goodbye to Tsunade and Shizune. After reminding Shizune where the cleaning supplies, dressers, hidden traps, and laundry were; Naruto turned to Tsunade to tell her where the hangover medicine, liquor cabinet, and spare sheets just in case she puked all over hers.
Shizune asked the blond boy whether he had forgotten something, after confirming the condition of his supplies, he bid them farewell and went to Otogakure.