"Hey watch it!"
"Look where you're going!"
"Sorry. In a hurry.
"Damn It! I knew I shouldn't have taken so long with the groceries!" A relatively young man about thirty years old screamed in his head as he ran through Konoha. Said man had black hair, green eyes and was wearing a simple blue shirt and brown pants.
After a few more minutes of running he came to his destination, the restaurant Ushiwakamaru.
"You're late Moto." An older voice said.
Moto turned to the voice revealing it to be a much older man in his late fifties with grey hair, brown eyes and wearing a white robe.
"Sorry Hitoshi. I had to pick up some groceries for Gina." Moto said sheepishly. "Has Kenta already arrived?"
"Just now, come on he's waiting for us inside." The Hitoshi replied ushering him inside the restaurant.
The pair navigated through the busy restaurant before meeting with a manager.
"We're here with Kenta." Hitoshi said.
"Ah yes. Come this way." The manager told them leading them to a flight of stairs they proceeded to go up. After navigating through more hungry customers they came to a single door.
"Kenta is waiting for you inside." The manager told them with a bow. "Please let us know if you need anything."
"We will." Hitoshi told him before sending him back to the regular patrons. Once he was gone, the pair opened the door and entered the room. It was adequate size able to fit about twenty people or so into its walls comfortably. In the middle of the room stood a table with a set of chairs surrounding it with a man occupying one of them. This man was also an older gentleman with brown hair and turquoise eyes.
"Hitoshi, Moto. Glad you could make it." Kenta said to them across the room.
"Off course Kenta." Hitoshi said with a bow. Moto remained silent and bowed in respect as well before the pair made their way to the table and took their seats.
"Now, Before we begin I want to make something clear to you Moto." Kenta said turning to the youngest Civilian Council men.
"You went against me during the Council meeting a few days ago. You're not supposed to do that. Are you aware of how weak that made me look?"
"I didn't mean… I just thought that with the Kyubi actually doing us a favor and stopping Orochimaru from getting the Sharingan, he shouldn't have to die. I thought we could simply ask him to be removed from Konoha so he couldn't hurt anyone else." Moto replied with guilt.
"You weren't so caring when we were talking about executing the captured Oto nin from the Invasion a few months ago." Hitoshi reminded him.
"That was a different matter. Those Oto nin willingly invaded our borders, killed our people and wanted to destroy Konoha. They deserved to die for what they did." Moto said to Hitoshi defending his decision.
"And the Kyubi deserved to die for killing our people thirteen years ago and yet you wanted him to live?!" Hitoshi said getting angry.
"Enough Hitoshi. Kenta said raising a hand."
Hitoshi went quiet but still kept an angry look on Moto.
"Moto, look around and tell me what you see." Kenta said gesturing to the room. After looking Moto responded.
"A bunch of empty chairs."
"Exactly. Not too long ago their used to be more of us, much more. We had a bigger say in the politics of Konoha. We could influence decisions of the Clan Heads, and we could easily outvote the ignorant Third Hokage." Kenta said with a hint of nostalgia in his voice.
"However, ever since the information about the Kyubi being alive was leaked, we've been systematically eliminated down to a less influential number." Hitoshi continued for Kenta. "Be thankful you were not a member of the Council in those days. I believe you became part of the Council during the Kyubi's academy days."
Moto nodded remembering when he joined."I was told the other Civilian Council members were the ones responsible for telling the people about the Kyubi and were removed from their positions for speaking about an S class secret." Moto replied.
"They didn't." Kenta replied. "None of us did."
"Wait. If none of them had a hand in revealing the Kyubi to the public why…" Moto asked confused.
"I told you our numbers started to drop around the time it was revealed. I didn't say they our numbers dropped because we revealed it." Kenta reminded him. "In any case, you're not here to discuss how the public figured out about the Kyubi. You're here to be told you follow me."
"I'm a separately elected councilman. I have my own opinions on things and I certainly do not follow you, Kenta. The fact that we have agreed on many things in the past does not mean we are identical." Moto replied indignant.
"You may have acted on your own in the past Moto but that changes now. From now on you will follow my course of action on every meeting. You will agree with everything I say and never speak against me." Kenta told him calmly.
"What?! I will not….."
"Of course if you fail to do so, you may find yourself being removed from the Council."Kenta continued.
Moto just looked at him in shock. "Kenta….why are you threatening me? Just because I offered a different solution then yours…"
"Moto listen to me. Out of the twenty or so of us who once sat here, we are the only three left. We need to stand together if we are to accomplish anything. You may not realize it but I'm actually doing you a favor." Kenta said in a comforting tone. "If you help me I help you."
"…..What kind of help?" Moto asked.
Kenta just smiled in response. "I understand that you're last few requested pay raises have been denied by the Hokage."
Moto uncomfortably nodded.
"Well then consider this a gift." Kenta said before Hitoshi tossed Moto a huge bag.
Moto looked inside the bag shocked. "How did you….."
"You don't need to know how, all you need to do is not go against me and you'll receive a new package every few weeks. Do we have a deal?" Kenta asked smiling.
Moto sat unmoving for a moment before nodding.
"Smart man, now go on home you aren't needed for anything else." Kenta said turning to Hitoshi.
Moto swiftly made his exit.
"Does Shikaku's son know?" Kenta asked.
Hitoshi nodded. "Yes. Your man met with him disguised as Shikaku and told him about the Uchiha's demise."
" And the others?"
"He's informed most of the merchants, the shop keepers, and other notable business men who can't resist gossip and rumor. Very soon most of the Civilian population will suspect that the Kyubi killed the Uchiha." Hitoshi told him. "By the time the Hokage makes the announcement, Most of Konoha will already know."
"Excellent." Kenta said relieved.
"There is something you should be aware of though." Hitoshi continued.
Kenta raised an eyebrow at this.
"While most of the Older population of influential civilians will want him dead, newer and younger ones as well as a major part of the population while angry at the loss of the Uchiha, do not blame the Kyubi. Even some of our old allies have turned against us." Hitoshi finished.
"His battles with the Hyuga at the Chunin Exams, as well as his rumored battle with Shukaku outside Konoha a few months ago are responsible. It seems the Kyubi is making people forget what he is." Hitoshi said with disgust.
Kenta went silent for a moment deep in thought before replying.
"It looks like we won't be able to count on the Konoha to get rid of the Kyubi itself. It will need some outside help."
"What do you have in mind?" Hitoshi asked.
"I know a man who specializes in assassinations." Kenta replied. "I'll need to make contact with him and have him deal with this."
"I look forward to it." Hitoshi said getting up. "I must admit Kenta, this man of yours is very reliable. First he lets Konoha know about the Kyubi all those years ago and now this. I do wonder who he is."
"Ah but remember Hitoshi, curiosity killed the cat." Kenta said also getting up.
Hitoshi nodded before leaving Kenta alone in the room.
"Soon Kyubi. Soon you will pay for what you did to me."
As the afternoon transitioned into evening, Naruto Uzumaki found himself sitting in his favorite restaurant but not eating anything. A rare and almost unsettling sight to anyone who knows him. While Naruto would normally be filling himself with ramen, his mind was still reeling from his…..enlightening visit to the Hyuga household.
"She has a crush on me?! How? Why? I'm not anything special, Hell her family hates me and…..she has a crush on me…."
"Well, Well. It seems you've got yourself a vixen kid."
"You can't ignore me forever Kid. I'm stuck in here with you."
"Shut up. I don't want anything to do with you."
"Ah, You are still acting pathetic over the loss of the Uchiha….."
"HIS NAME IS SASUKE!"
"WAS Sasuke. As I recall, you pretty much wiped him from the face of this earth"
"Why….Why do you keep torturing me?"
"Because it provides me with amusement. After so many years of watching you naively believing that you can do anything, it's amusing to see you deal with the fact you couldn't save your friend. "
"Fine. Go on ignoring me, It will provide even more amusement." The Kyubi said smiling.
Naruto blocked him out after that focusing back on reality.
"Naruto… Naruto?" A familiar voice asked him. Naruto looked over to who was calling him revealing himself to be Shino.
"Shino? What are you doing here?"
"My search at the library didn't pan out like I had hoped." Shino said taking a seat next to him. "Zetsu still remains a mystery to me."
"Damn." Naruto said sighing. "Sorry about that."
"No apologies are necessary. I was foolish to think I would be able to find out so simply."
"So uh…How's your plant study thing going?"
"Slow but steady. I was fortunate enough to run into Ino while looking at small garden. She assisted." Shino handed Naruto his notepad so he could see."
"Whoa…..Man just how many flowers are here?" Naruto said flipping through.
"Much more than I had previously thought possible." Shino said in what sounded like a sigh. "I asked Ino if she would assist me again tomorrow."
Naruto grew a sly smile on his face hearing this."Oh….so you and Ino are technically going on a date."
"I fail to see how a friend assisting another in a mission qualifies as a romantic interaction."
"Oh come on. You and Ino are literally going out and looking at flowers. That's a date."
"I disagree. It is simply a friend helping another. And besides I don't think you are the best one to discuss romantic interactions."
"What's that supposed to…." Naruto realized what Shino meant and put his head down against the counter.
Taking notice Shino continued. "I did not mean to insult….."
"It's not that. How long did you know Hinata liked me?" Naruto asked depressed.
Shino was surprised at the question and was silent a moment before replying.
"The better question is how long did I not know. It's been obvious for years."
"What do you mean obvious? Who else knew about it?!"
"Ino, Sakura, Lee, Tenten, Neji, Kiba, Shikamaru, Chouji, Kurenai sensei, Kakashi sensei, Guy sensei, Asuma sensei, Iruka sensei….."
"I get it!" Naruto said stopping him.
"As I said it was obvious."
"Why?...Why would she have a crush on me? Me of all people."
"Did she not tell you why when she told you she had feelings for you?"
"She didn't. Her sister just sort of mentioned it while I was at her house. Or compound…..Damn it really big house!" Naruto finished annoyed slamming his fist against the counter. "Hinata passed out as soon as she said it and they thought I did something to her so they threw me out. Dicks."
Shino nodded in response. "The Hyuga aren't the most sociable clan in Konoha."
"…Why didn't any of you guys tell me? If Iruka knew, that means it was obvious since the academy. Why didn't you guys let me know?" Naruto asked looking over to him.
Shino once again was silent before responding.
"As to why the others didn't tell you I am not sure. But I do know the reason Kiba and myself kept quiet on the subject. We made a promise to Hinata on the day we were picked for Team 8 that we would not tell you about Hinata's feelings because she wanted to tell you when she felt the time was right and we weren't going to take that away from her."
"Well why didn't she tell me then?"
"That's something you'll have to ask her yourself Naruto. It's not my place to say."
"….This is all happening too fast. First Sasuke… and now this….Ugh!" Naruto said rubbing his head.
"Perhaps you should talk to her the next time you see her. "
"I can't just go up and talk to her."
"Why not? You've done it on multiple occasions."
"Yeah but that was different. She was my friend then."
"Is she not your friend anymore?"
"Then it appears to me you are working yourself up over nothing. Look I am well aware I do not have much experience with relationships. But what other choice do you have? Do you intend to just avoid Hinata from now on?"
"Then talk to her the next time you see her." Shino replied. "She will be sad to know that you reciprocate her feelings but…"
"Wait a sec! I didn't say I don't like her!"
"My apologies. I just thought from the way you acted….."
"It's not that! Hinata is awesome and she could have any guy she wanted. Hell she deserves it; since she had to live with those assholes she calls a family all her life."
"Then why are you afraid of talking to her?" Shino asked simply.
"It's just….I don't know." Naruto finished saddened.
"This is new for you isn't it? Having an admirer."
"Well yeah. I mean I asked Sakura out all the time back in the academy but….I've never had someone who actually liked me." Naruto said looking down.
"I see. I wish I could help more with this but I was never popular with the opposite sex. That was more Sasuke's specialty. You'd be surprised how many times his name came up in my conversations with Ino today." Shino told him.
"Naruto. I would like to offer my apologies to you."
"I didn't look for Sasuke when we went out after the two of you. That was the original plan; we would find the both of you and bring you back."
"It's just when we found you with the Zetsu creature, we couldn't take the chance of him recapturing you so we headed back. If I had known he wouldn't be following us then….."
"Shino stop it." Naruto told him his fist curling up in a ball.
Shino stopped there seeing Naruto's reaction.
"Shino….there wasn't anything you guys could have done to….save him" Naruto said, his voice slightly trembling. "There is something I need to tell you….."
"I'd do it somewhere else if I was you." Another voice said interrupting him.
Both Shino and Naruto looked over to see Shikamaru and Chouji standing near them though Chouji was using crutches.
"What are you guys...?"
"Let's continue this somewhere else. You guys know you're out in the open right?" Shikamaru asked them.
It was then Shino and Naruto took a look at their surroundings and saw almost everyone in their vicinity was looking at them. Couples out on a stroll, kids out playing, old folks on their way home, all of them had almost stopped in their tracks as soon as the name Sasuke came up.
"I agree with Shikamaru." Shino replied getting up followed closely by Naruto.
"You got a private place we can talk?" Shikamaru asked.
"My apartment. It's not big but it will do. Not many people come by." Naruto told him as they started walking.
"Well then let's hurry and get there. I don't like the way some of the people are looking at us." Shikamaru said staring back at the people looking at them.
"Tokugawa and Akira?"
"I just told you those where our names didn't I?" A blue haired man with a red shirt and blue pants asked handing him their passports annoyed.
"Just making sure sir." Kotetsu sighed as the man known as Akira handed him their papers.
"You're merchants then?" Kotetsu asked the pair of strangers as he read over their paper work.
"Sort of, We're just not here on business." Akira stated.
"Ah, here to visit some relatives."
"Yep, you got it. Is everything all right?"Akira asked
"Hm? Oh yeah. Your passports are good and we've got that you've been scheduled to come in today."
"Then why is that green guy over there looking uneasy?" Akira asked pointing to the spandex wearing ninja looking out over the forest.
"Don't mind him. He's got a student coming back from a mission today. He's just anxious is all."
"Ah I see. I hope she's okay." Akira finished with the smallest of smiles that went unnoticed by the Kotetsu.
"See your friend here doesn't talk much." Kotetsu said indicating Tokugawa. A man in his mid twenties with a red shirt and white pants.
"He just never has anything to say. He's very business oriented." Akira told Kotetsu.
"Well everything checks out. Enjoy your stay in Konoha and don't cause trouble." Kotetsu told them with a smile as he handed back their papers.
Akira nodded and they proceeded to make their way into the village. As they melded into the bustling populace, they spoke to each other in a hushed tone.
"And here we are again. I might as well set up a house here."
"Remember the plan Kisame."
"Track down the Kyubi while you take care of some personal business."
"Don't engage without me being there. Understand?"
"I got it. I'm not going to do anything to piss you off more than you already are. Though I thought you said we were going to do it my way this time."
"You can go cause a scene if you want, but don't kill anyone until I give the signal. Is that clear?"
"Sure." Kisame/Akira said nodding.
"Good." Itachi said before disappearing into the crowd leaving the disguised Kisame on his own.
"I wonder where he's going off to?" Kisame thought to himself before beginning his search. He eventually found an open bar he proceeded to walk into.
"Hey. What can I get ya?"
"Glass of water."
"Glass of water?"
"There a problem with that?" The Akira asked smiling.
"Na, it's just I don't get that request often. Usually it's for the stronger stuff ya know?" The bartender said getting a small cup. "It's actually a welcomed change to see someone who doesn't want to walk out of here plastered." He continued filling it up and handing it to Kisame. "So what are ya in town for? Family visit? Business?"
"Personal business." Akira said taking a drink. "The less you know the better."
"How can you keep defending that Demon?!"
"Why are you still so stupid that you can't tell he isn't one?! Or have you finally drank so much you're losing whatever is left of your common sense." A brash female voice yelled back.
"He killed the Uchiha!"
"Like a piece of trash like you would know anything about what happened to him. You probably just heard that from the same guy who sells you you're daily amount of bullshit!"
" Hey if you two are going to fight again take it outside my bar will ya?!" the bartender said turning over to the quarrelling pair which caused a curious Kisame to look over as well.
As he looked across the bar he saw the two people arguing. One was an incredibly ill looking man about forty or so years old in a black shirt and green pants hosting a black bushy beard. The other was a woman who looked to be in her mid twenties wearing a trench coat, an orange mini skirt and an almost see through fitted mesh suit that stretched from her neck to her knees under it sporting purple hair and brown eyes.
"Shut up Tenzo before I come over there and make you!" The man yelled over to the bartender.
"Oh big talk coming from someone who couldn't beat an academy student on their first day in a fight."
"Listen you Snake Bitch, I…."
"Those two give you trouble a lot?" Akira asked taking another drink as the pair continued their argument.
"Nah, just when they're together. When they're in here separately, they're usually calm unless they have a few drinks."
"What's got them so riled up?"
"Something about a kid. Uzumaki I think. Haruo often runs his mouth about the kid when he comes in, and Anko there doesn't like anyone being talked about behind their back. It's just one of those nights where two opposites are both here and I have to sweep up whatever they spill onto the floor. Usually someone's blood after a broken nose."
"Right….Which one's the better fighter?"
"Which one's the better fighter? Haruo or Anko?"
"What's that got to do with…."
"Just answer the question."Akira told him annoyed.
"Well…." Tenzo looked over to the arguing pair one more time. "I guess Anko's a ninja so…."
Akira immediately got up and made his way to the arguers.
"Damn it! Not inside!"
" Here come two more."
"Is Tenten one of them?"
"I don't think so. They look older."
Guy drooped his head in response.
"HEYYYYY! We need help!"
Before Izumo finished Guy was already darting towards the incoming travelers. As he got closer, he saw that they were carrying someone. His missing student.
"Thank goodness. We found this girl beside the road a few miles back. Both her legs are broken and…."
Guy had already picked her up and dashed toward the hospital faster than almost any ninja alive by the time he had finished his sentence.
It wasn't long before Izumo met with the travelers.
"What the hell happened to that girl?!"
" We don't know. We just found her like this, beside the main road to Konoha."
"Wait. What are your names?" Izumo asked recognizing the pair.
"Tokugawa and Akira. We were scheduled to arrive today." Tokugawa told the gate guard.
"Kotetsu, did you meet these two earlier? About an hour or two ago?"
"We need to alert the Hokage."
As night fell upon Konoha, a young woman lied upon the grass, her body littered with bruises, and her chakra depleted.
"Not bad Sakura. Not bad at all."
"That's your body's way of saying 'good job'." Tsunade replied throwing her a bag. "You may need to eat one of these if you want to get home though."
Summoning what little strength she had left, Sakura opened the bad given to her revealing it to be the divines' gift to ninja. Food pills.
"Won't these hurt me?"
"Only if you eat a lot over a short period of time. One a day isn't going to kill you." Tsunade told her as she proceeded to swallow one.
"Ugh. Don't taste very good."
"They're not supposed to."
Tsunade offered her hand to Sakura who took it and was swiftly pulled off the ground.
"So, does this mean my punishment is done?"
"Oh no. You've still got to teach the academy students for the next week or so."
Sakura frowned at this.
"Tell you what though, since I am a bit impressed, I'll take the D rank missions out."
Sakura looked over to Tsunade and smiled.
"Like I said I was impressed."
"Not for that… Thanks for bringing me out here… It helped."
Tsunade looked over to Sakura with a sad look.
"I thought it would. For people like us, when you lose someone you love after the initial sadness goes away, you're left feeling angry and wanting to punch something."
"So, you think I'm a lot like you?"
"I said it didn't I?" Tsunade replied.
After walking in silence for a moment Sakura asked what had been on her mind for the longest time.
"Are…. Are we going to have a funeral for him?"
"….I don't know Sakura. Sasuke did betray Konoha by leaving and nearly got five of his comrades killed."
"I…. I know that Lady Tsunade. I just…."
"Shizune? What are you doing here? I told you I wasn't to be bothered….."
"It's Tenten, she's been attacked!"
Both Tsunade and Sakura looked at her shocked.
"Where is she?!"
"She's been taken to the Hospital. But she's hurt bad."
"Sakura, we'll have to continue this later. Go home." Tsunade ordered as she dashed off to the hospital following Shizune.
Sakura not wasting anytime put the pack of food pills in her pocket and made her way back to the populated area of Konoha .
"Tenten attacked? Are there Oto nin in Konoha? I have to tell the others."
"He was here just a few months ago."
"I am aware of this Koharu."
"What do you think will happen to us when he figures out what happened? "
"Do not be so worrisome. If he were to come within miles of Konoha, Danzo would know about it and tell us."
"How are we going to explain it to him? He's going to be pissed beyond all recognition."
"He's still a loyal servant to Konoha. He won't attack the Village."
"The only thing keeping him attached to this place was Sasuke. And even if he doesn't try to destroy the Village, he'll definitely come after us."
"What are you two doing in my office?" Tsunade said opening the door.
"Lady Tsunade. We need to talk to you about something." Koharu said to blond Hokage.
"I really don't have time to listen to this Koharu." Tsunade said taking a seat in her chair. "Thanks to that little workout, I have a bunch of paperwork to catch up on."
"We would like to announce our resignations."
Koharu looked over to Homura then back to Tsunade.
"We…feel like we have served as best we can and would like the decency of retiring."
"Let me get this straight. After over thirty years as the Hokage's advisors and saying on multiple occasions that you would not be retiring anytime soon…..You want to retire?"
"We have actually given this a great deal of thought. " Homura continued for his partner. "After going over….recent events we believe we can no longer serve as we once did. So if you could accept our resignations, we will be on our way."
"So…..you just want to up and leave?"
"Don't act like you want us to stay Tsunade, you've been hounding us to resign ever since you became Hokage." Homura told her starting to get annoyed with the Slug princess.
"Well, I have to admit I wasn't expecting this."Tsunade said turning in her chair to face out over the Village."
"We once again apologize for the abruptness of this but….."
"I mean I knew you two would try to weasel out of this somehow but…..This is pathetic."
"Tell me something. Just how scared are you of Itachi?"
Both Homura and Koharu eyes widened in shock.
"Does that matter? All that matters is that you two were responsible for wiping out the entire Uchiha Clan."
"That's a lie! Danzo originally came up with the idea and Hiruzen also agreed to the plan!"
"Sarutobi wanted to find a peaceful solution. You two were the ones who didn't want to. No, it was simpler to kill them all and be done with it.
"There was no peaceful solution. They were planning to take over Konoha. Something had to be done!"
"So you took one of Konoha's brightest and best and made him kill his entire clan."
Homura and Koharu looked at each other. "There was no choice. It was either them or us. "
Tsunade then went quiet for a moment worrying Homura and Koharu greatly.
"Now that the only thing keeping a loyal ninja to Konoha is gone, what's to stop him from coming here and telling everyone what really happened?"
"Even with his brother dead, Itachi is still a loyal servant. He won't risk telling anybody what actually happened and even if he did, who would believe him?" Homura answered confidently.
"Then why are you two so keen on resigning?"
Koharu and Homura immeditatly went silent.
"I'll tell you why. Because you two know he's coming to kill you. All three of you, for not doing the one thing you promised him you would do. And now that it has happened you think you can get out of it by resigning."
"Lady Tsunade, It was Hiruzen who promised….."
"He sacrificed everything to protect his home and all he asked for was for you to protect his little brother…and you didn't do it."
By the time Tsunade had finished that statement, her voice had changed greatly. The usually frustrated, annoyed, but overall feminine voice she had became deeper, colder, and more vengeful with every word uttered until it became one that was very much recognized by Homura and Koharu.
"And now…..even after everything he has done for you, you still take advantage of him. Hard to believe Hiruzen called the two of you friends."
Itachi turned the chair around from the window to face them his eyes containing nothing but rage.
The amount of fear that immediately overcame Homura and Koharu was so overwhelming they couldn't move or speak.
"Now…explain to me exactly what happened to my little brother and where Danzo is hiding." Itachi asked as his eyes transformed.