Naruto Finds his One True Love
It was a pleasant summer morning in Iwagakure. Being so far north as well as being up in the mountain range that made up most of the Earth country, the morning air was laced with a small twinge of cold. Birds called out to greet the sun and the first of the morning's travellers in and out of Iwagakure, the self proclaimed greatest of ninja nations. Two chuunin were stationed at the entrance. The first was of average height and had sandy blond hair. His eyes burned with exhaustion. He barely had an hour of sleep under his belt. The second man was a little bit taller and shiny black hair cropped close to his head. He, unlike his partner, was alert, and was chatting nonchalantly, although the amount of attention the blonde was paying to it made it seem like the raven haired man was talking to himself.
The raven haired Iwa ninja waved as a merchant flashed his business papers and left with a horse drawn wagon. An older genin team without their instructor flashed their mission seal with an irritated frown before disappearing down the partially hidden trail that led to the village. The first visitors were finally appearing, and it was this group that caught the tired man's eyes.
The group consisted of 4 people; 3 men and a young woman. It was the woman who caught his eye. Her face was slightly red from exertion and the cold in the morning air which only served to intensify the shock of red hair she had that fell down to the back of her thighs. Her nose was slightly bent to one side, but it didn't detract from her looks at all. The main thing that really caught his eye however, was her stomach. She was heavily pregnant, her belly sticking out like a watermelon. She had one hand underneath supporting the extra weight and her other was holding her worn out looking jacket tightly around her shoulders.
Standing beside her and holding her arms as if to keep her steady was a blonde man who appeared to be in his early 20s. Worry was written all over his face line with dark circles of exhaustion under his eyes. He was too far away for the guards to hear what he was saying, but it looked like he was trying to soothe the woman and by the look on her face she wasn't having any of it. The youngest boy who looked to be in his mid teens looked better off than any of the others. His face was fixed in an expression of annoyance and the oldest man there who was just reaching his prime with streaks of white lacing in his sunny blonde hair looked to be filled with mirth around the disfiguring scar that went from his ear down into his shirt and apparently was long enough to give him a permanent limp.
When they reached the gate guards the boy set down his bags and opened them to fish out their passports. Handing them to the oldest of the group, the first words of the day were exchanged.
"Can you please state your names, reasons for visit, where you came from, and how long you intend to stay?" The chipper black haired guard spoke this in a friendly tone. The oldest man handed the four passports to him and said,
"I am Hizoto Raido, and these are my sons Naoki, my youngest," Jiraiya pointed at Naruto and he straightened up after clipping the bag back together. "This is my eldest Makoto and his lovely soon-to-be wife Watanabe Kaori." He gestured at the pair and Kushina gave weak smile and a short bow. Minato just nodded his head. Jiraiya continued when the guards finished eyeing up the newcomers.
"We are refugees from the... problems that have arisen in Kirigakure." Jiraiya lowered his voice and looked around briefly before saying, "Our neighbours had a kekkai genkai and although we have no problem with them, we didn't want to be hung for sympathizing." The older of the two guards nodded. Despite being a chuunin, he had actually heard the whispers of civil war in the mysterious sea-bound country.
"We intend to stay as long as we are welcome. As you can see Kaori-chan is about to bless me with my first grandchild and I would like for him or her to have a wonderful and safe life." Jiraiya emphasized the word 'safe' and both guards nodded in agreement.
"Ok, your passports check out so everything is in order. You'll have to wait here until we can get you an escort to the immigrations office, it shouldn't be too long, and Watanabe-san looks like she might want to sit down." The tired looking guard held his hand out towards a bench and Minato herded Kushina over to sit on it.
"Do you guys have any place to stay until you can find a place for yourselves yet? More family perhaps?" Jiraiya gave them a wide smile that put both guards at ease. Naruto tried to memorize it after he saw its affects.
"I have an old lady-friend who is graciously letting us stay in her spare rooms until we find footing. Bless her."
Jiraiya continued to make small talk as Naruto took in the bustling village. Iwagakure was one of the few countries that Naruto had never visited in his past life. After the 3rd war it was closed off to Konoha and her allies for the most part.
Despite the early morning, Iwa was bustling with activity. It reminded Naruto of a greyer and rockier version of Konoha, actually. Merchants were shouting about their wares, women were scolding their children, and other children were laughing and playing despite the hour. It was oddly comforting to the youngest blonde.
They didn't have to wait long before the chipper guard snagged a young genin to escort them to the immigrations office. The boy was about Naruto's age and after getting over his initial complaining about having to do work for the "lazy ass gate guards" he was actually quite hilarious to talk too. For Naruto anyway, the youngest blonde got the feeling that neither Kushina nor Minato thought much of the immature genin. Jiraiya seemed to think everything that annoyed Minato was hilarious.
Naruto was almost sad when they reached the office. The genin however, waved him off and said that it wasn't that big of a village, they'd meet again. Naruto accepted this answer and followed his 'family' into the office building. Naruto compared the large white immigrations building to the bustle of the village outside and was stunned into silence. The building was huge, white, immaculate, and so quiet he felt uncomfortable stepping on the stone floor for fear of making a noise. Thankfully a small beady-eyed man ushered them to a table to wait for an agent before they had to ask anyone.
When they finally were quietly greeted by an equally small and beady eyed woman, who sat down at her desk and took their names, Naruto spaced out. Anything that needed to be said could be told by Jiraiya. He seemed to have their cover story down to an art.
It's not an uncommonly known fact that Jiraiya is a pervert. Naruto knew from various sources that he had been like this from a very young age, and instead of nipping this problem in the bud, his own sensei silently encouraged it with his own lecherous behaviour. What is often a surprising and unknowing fact about the white haired legendary sannin is that he can be incredibly smooth with the ladies. He is a master of the arts of manipulation with words, and is one of the few men of the shinobi world to really excel in espionage.
Naruto managed to space himself out for a grand total of 5 minutes. That was when he saw the woman's flat face start taking on shades of red. The tone of Jiraiya's voice as he explained their story, not particularly passionately but rather casual and conversational in tone, drew both of them into the conversation, but for different reasons. Naruto learned that he had a bit of a talent for picking up mannerisms and movements if he actually sat down and watched. Minato had practically beat the discipline required for his muscle therapy into him in the first few weeks out of the hospital. It was like looking at the world with new eyes. Naruto edged around it, but the fact that the entire village wasn't either glaring at him or looking at him with adoration helped him from being distracted.
The youngest blonde thoughtfully watched as Jiraiya displayed the appropriate body language to flatter and inspire trust into this woman. Subtle movements of his hand, reaching out with his eyes, it was simply astounding the youngest blonde. He wished that he had learned this earlier. His childhood might not have sucked as much.
Jiraiya had almost finished with his account of their travels to Iwa when the front doors were slammed open loudly, causing everything to stop and turn towards the noise. A tall middle aged woman stood in the morning light as it poured in behind her. She had her hands on her hips and a smouldering smile. Everything was still and silent for a full few seconds as her large dark eyes scanned the cubicles until she met with Jiraiya's eyes. Her smile slightly enlarged and she threw her hands up and said, very loudly,
"Raido-kun!" Jiraiya's face lit up like a festival and he stood up, opening his arms to welcome the busty broad in for a hug.
"Beni-hime! It's been too long." Beni had already rushed into Jiraiya's arms, and before anyone could say anything, the two were sharing a passionate kiss.
"Dad what the hell!" Both the younger blondes shouted in unison. Kushina didn't say anything, but her mouth was practically on the floor and her cheeks were rivalling her hair. Jiraiya broke the kiss and Beni had to take a breath. He gazed over at his 'children' and gave them a meek smile.
"This is the beautiful woman who has graciously offered us room and board until we can land on our own feet. Hijika Beni-hime." Beni laughed softly and shook the three shocked ninja's hands before straightening up. Jiraiya glanced at the administrative woman he had been talking to earlier and flashing another lady killing smile, he wrapped up the signing of their papers and ushered his family out of the stark building.
There was no conversation other than Beni and Jiraiya talking loudly about mundane subjects like the economy and Jiraiya's fake injury. Inwardly Naruto was still surprised at Jiraiya's actions, but his reputation as a super pervert hadn't come from nowhere and as Naruto grew up, he realized that Jiraiya probably worked hard for the reputation. So as surprising as it was to see it in person, Naruto wasn't terribly fazed.
Minato on the other hand, knew that his sensei had a healthy appreciation for women, didn't know that he actually got any. He had no idea that his sensei could act like this, or that he could actually find a woman to go along with his act. That train of thought only raised more questions that Minato resolved to ask his sensei later when they were in a more private setting. For now he settled into his role as a worried father, and earned himself a harsh pinch from his red-headed friend.
Beni's home was a modest three story building, built into the rock of the canyon wall that served as a natural defence for Iwa. Despite being three stories tall, the building was rather narrow, only allowing for a few rooms each level. Beni's was on the top floor, and the guest rooms that Naruto, Kushina, and Minato were to stay in were on the second, with most everything else packed into the first floor.
After everyone had been settled in it was still fairly early in the afternoon and with permission from Jiraiya, Naruto went exploring.
The streets in the market district were packed to the brim, and it took the blonde nearly half an hour to squeeze to the other side of the crowded street. When he finally did make it out, he took a deep breath of relief and nearly cried when a familiar scent hit his nostrils.
That smells like ramen! He said to himself, and when he turned into what he thought was an alley way, he saw the entrance to a small ramen bar. Sliding under the curtains he sat down in one of the seats and smiled happily at the menu. It had been weeks since he had had the stuff, and he needed something to fill the aching hole of his cravings. The old man behind the counter was fat and red cheeked. As soon as he saw Naruto he gave a loud welcome and asked the blonde what he wanted.
"Miso ramen with extra pork and eggs please!" The fat man winked and set about making one of the best bowls of ramen Naruto had ever had. It almost rivalled some of the bowls at Ichiraku's, and that was really saying something.
"I've never seen you around kid; I'm sure a ramen lover as yourself would have been mentioned by my fellow colleagues..." The man trailed off wanting Naruto to continue, and after a moment to swallow his mouthful of food, he said,
"I just got here! My family is moving here so my brother's girlfriend can have her baby in a safe place! Although it might be because my dad wants to hook up with an ex girlfriend or something, I don't know, but I'm sure glad I found this place!" The fat man laughed and gave Naruto a free second bowl, much to his eternal delight.
Glancing at the clock on the wall, Naruto's eyes widened when he saw it was past 6 o'clock. He pushed himself up and bowed hurriedly and said, "I have to go, I was supposed to be home over an hour ago! Thanks so much for all the good ramen! I'll be seeing lots of you, I can guarantee that!" The man laughed again but reached out to grab Naruto's sleeve before he left.
"Hey boy, what's your name?" Naruto quickly replied with "Naoki." "Come back here tomorrow at about noon if you want a job. I've been looking for an extra hand to help around the store with cooking and delivering. Be sure to ask your father first though!" Naruto smiled heartily and took off running as fast as he could without chakra enhancements.
The uproar that Minato raised was expected, but the scolding he received from Jiraiya wasn't, and he supposed that if Naruto hadn't told them that he got a job he wouldn't put it past the white haired sage to bend him over his knee.
"This is a foreign ninja village, you stupid boy, what if you had slipped up? All five of us, including Beni would have been strung up for all to see. That's what happens to spies here. Do you want that?" If Naruto could, he would have wilted. The one thing he hated most was disappointing his loved ones, and Jiraiya was more like a father to him than anyone in his life.
He could have left it at that, gone to bed, and started anew tomorrow, but despite being over 30 years old in his head, having the body of a teenager sometimes took over and Naruto mumbled something along the lines of 'how he knew what he was doing, it's not like this is his first espionage mission'. Jiraiya didn't respond, but the feeling that he had tuned into situations where things didn't feel right started itching as he watched his "son" stomp away to his room. He watched the boy go, and resolved to have a little chat with him later.
Turning to the rest of the household, he ushered the red-faced and sputtering Minato and Kushina off to their room that they would have to share, and turned to Beni, who had an impressed look on her face.
"Kids! Always arguing. In my day if I tried to pull something like that my mom would have smacked me upside the head." Beni laughed and said as the pair made their way up to the top floor,
"You picked a phenomenal team to bring with you, the younger one has the attitude I'd expect of any of your whelps and if I didn't know better I'd assume that maybe he really is yours. Tell me Raido, did you woo some pretty blonde somewhere only to be given a gift a few months later?" Jiraiya laughed and gave her a few light kisses around her mouth. He was certainly going to enjoy this mission.
END CHAPTER 10
Sorry! I have been so busy with a strike that f-ed up the entire schedule, moving twice, trying to balance having two homes, being sick, working two jobs, and life in general! This chapter was also hard because the more I write the more I realize that the ending to the arc is going to make less and less sense, so I had to rethink the entire thing. This chapter has been scrapped three or four times, so my apologies again! Thanks for all the reviews and faves that I got in my time of absence though! Also, don't expect another chapter this summer, but I might surprise you!