Dammit, where is that brat! Tsunade thought as she sat in her chair looking out of her window at the gate beyond, SAKURA!
A certain pink-haired Kunoichi opened the door to Tsunades office. Hai, Hokage-sama?
Can you go down to the main gate and retrieve the log for me? Naruto should have returned by now
her voice trailed off as she turned around to face the window once again.
Hai, Hokage-sama. Replied Sakura as she turned and walked out of the door.
Where are you
? the Hokage pondered.
Sakura walked down the street towards the main gate thinking of what three years might have done to Naruto. I wonder if hes still the same old fly-by-the-seat-of-his-pants Naruto. Wuith Naruto it would take nothing short of a miracle to make him calm down. and even hell itself would freeze over before he stopped eating ramen she mused. HEY, Hinata-chan! she exclaimed as she caught sight of the girl that she had rapidly become friends with since Naruto had left.
Konichiwa, Sakura-chan. Hinata bowed. She had definitely filled out in three years since Naruto had gone. She had thrown herself headlong into a training regimen that rivaled Naruto in his younger days. She would often spend nights and a few days in the hospital recovering from chakra exhaustion and colds from passing out and sleeping through the cold nights out in the open. Not only had she grown stronger physically, but she had also grown much prettier. Forgoing her short haircut, she let her hair grow out down to her shoulder blades and had also swapped out her thick beige hoodie for a tighter, lavender one. How have you been Sakura-chan?
Well you know, Tsunade-sama has been getting piled up with paperwork and I still have to go in and wake her up. Its a good thing that Im a medic-nin, otherwise my jaw would be wired so shut, I would have to be fed intravenously Replied the other. So are you shopping for some new clothes today?
Hai. I decided that I needed some nicer clothes instead of just my Hyuuga Kimono and my training outfit answered Hinata.
Sakura raised an eyebrow, Are you sure it isnt for a certain ninja who supposed to be returning today? Her smirk widened as she saw Hinatas eyes grow wide, and she turned a shade of pink. Cmon Hinata, I have to say we were quite disappointed when you didnt even kiss him goodbye.
Hinata turned a little bit redder at the thought of giving him one last goodbye hug, looking into those cerulean orbs of his that she could get lost in, then leaning in ever closer until her daydream was shattered by a Hinata?.
Its OK. Still, with Sasuke gone, I might as well make a pass at Naruto when he comes back; she said playfully enjoying the look of horror that came across Hinatas face, you know Im joking. Besides I guess if I ever need a boyfriend with as much energy as Naruto, I could just start dating Lee.
Hinata giggled at the thought of Lee shedding all of his affection towards Sakura.
They arrived at the gatehouse and the Chuunin guarding it, Ohayo! Sakura waved
Ohayo! How can I be of assistance? greeted the Chuunin.
Tsunade-sama wants the ledger for the week. She wants to know if Naruto has come back yet.
The Chuunin cast his eyes away from Sakura to Hinata and the then back to the counter where the ledger sat. Im afraid he hasnt come back yet, he saw the sad look in Hinatas eyes but Im sure that hell be arriving anytime soon. You know Naruto; he will probably make some kind of grand entrance. Hinatas face brightened a little bit as she thought of what Naruto would do upon returning to the town.
Hai, Hokage-sama? Shizune asked as she poked her head in.
Naruto hasnt returned yet. Im starting to get worried. Its been two weeks since he and Jiraya were supposed to return
she paused. All that is available is Team 8. Without a doubt Hinata would be glad to go on this mission Akamaru would be helpful, though Kiba might not be too happy taking into account his advances in the Hyuuga. Shino will do it because hes Shino.
Bring in Team 8.
With team 8 assembled behind Tsunade's desk, she started, As Im sure as some of you know, she glanced at Hinata, who in turn, turned a little redder than normal, Naruto hasnt came back yet; something in which I am not pleased with. Since he hasnt returned yet, and neither has Jiraya, Im sending you out to track him down. She was answered with a unanimous Hai and continued, Alright then if you dont have any questions, you are dismissed.
The four shinobi turned to leave. Oh Kurenai
would you stay for a minute?
Yes Hokage-sama. Kurenai stuck her head out of the door and called to her departing team, pack your things. I have a feeling were going to be out for a long time. Meet me by the front gates in one hour!
What is it Tsunade-sama?
Tsunade pulled a scroll from her desk. Smear blood on this and use her as a messenger bird. I want at least one message a week. Dont worry about her finding you, shell do that on her own. Tsunade handed Kurenai the scroll, One more thing: Bring him AND Jiraya back safely. I want to personally beat Jiraya senslessfor being this late and for making me worry.
Yes Tsunade. Kurenai chuckled. She knew better than to get between Tsunade and her prey.
Kurenai left and Tsunade reached under her chair to the bottle of sake strapped to it. "Im getting too old for this."
An hour later Team 8 had assembled at the gate.
Alright, Kurenai started, were going to make first for the border town #3 to the northwest. Thats where Naruto found Tsunade. And its where a lot of people come together seeing as how it is one gigantic party. She ended with a look of mild distaste. Alright then lets move out.
Naruto Im coming for you. I hope youre not hurt, but if you are then I will come to help you. Ill give my life for you if it is necessary, because I love you. I WILL tell you when I find you. Im not called a Hyuuga for nothing.
As Team 8 reached the gate Kurenai spoke to her charges
OK. Well split up. In the town, if you see anything suspicious or hear anything, call on your radio. We dont want to fight anyone. And, she looked at Kiba were here to find someone, not to engage in the festivities.
Hinata giggled hearing Kiba mumble something about old ladies and stalking off with Akamaru.
Ill go check out the hotels on the western side of town. Shino said as he plucked three maps off of a rack of a kiosk owner and paid the man.
Hinata you go talk to the daimyo and ask him if theyve had any incidents or sightings of those two, Ill check on the Hotels from the eastern side. She took a map from Shino, and handed the other to Hinata.
Yes Kurenai-sama. Hinata walked off.
Good luck Shino.
The same to you.
Old white-haired guy, eh? Well unfortunately this old hotel-keeper, the man gestured to himself sees a lot of old guys with white hair.
He would have had a child with him. A young boy about 14 years old, wears lots of orange, and is really, really loud asked the red-eyed Sensei.
come to think of it, I might remember that kid. Kurenais face lit up Yea I remember that kid. He he. How could I forget THAT kid. He didnt stay here, but him and that old man were in the bar down the road a bit. You cant miss it, though Ill doubt that hell remember them. If I remember correctly, they were here bout
6 months back, Kurenais eyes widened at this but I had to turn them away at what they did the time before that.
What happened then?
Well, I had to get an entire wall replaced 'cause their stupid friends mustve drug something very large to create a huge gouge in the wall about 20 feet long. Then they broke one of my windows.
I remember that, that was when Sasuke found Naruto in the hands of Itachi and Kisame. Kurenai thought. So you said they were here 6 months ago?
Yea, they came by and asked for lodging, but as I said, I had to turn them away.
Was there anything special about when they were here that could leave hints as to where theyve gone?
he scratched his beard no, I cant remember anything about that. But the old man said something about the bar down the street on the corner, you cant miss it.
OK thank you. She turned to leave. When she got outside the tapped her radio, I maybe have a lead; Im going to follow it up. Does any one have anything to report?
Akamaru and I cant find any traces of his scent anywhere.
I have also had no luck in any of these hotels.
I am about to meet with the Daimyo. Maybe he can help us.
Very well, keep up your searches.
Hinata waited in a very comfortable brown chair outside of the Daimyos office. Set sat twiddling her fingers, a habit in which she never grew out of. The door opened and an old man dressed in a black robe with orange flames around the hems of the bottom and the sleeves, and a collar that covered up half of his face. His hair was a mess of black with red tips. He looked at her and his eyes widened revealing the bluest and most beautiful eyes shed ever seen, at least not since the last shed seen HIM.
Well now whats a pretty girl like you doing here? he looked at her forehead protector. OH! Playing ninja are we?
Hinata looked at him incredulously, B-but I AM a Shinobi! She stood up. I am here to represent the Hidden Village in the Leaves. I am Hyuuga Hinata of the Hyuuga clan, the most powerful clan in all of Fire Country.
The man placed his hands up in front of him. OK, OK, I didnt mean to offend you. My name is Takashi; I am a
hired hand, of sorts.
But you must be at least 50 years old! she replied.
He held up a finger, Ah, and in your career as a shinobi, havent you learned that just because you are older, you are not necessarily weak? He beamed a smile at her, thought she could only see his eyes close and his cheeks tighten, then he lost it just a quickly, even your third Hokage knew that going into battle.
She perked up, You knew the Third?!
Yes he was a great man, worthy of the title of Hokage, just as Tsunade deserves it just as well.
You knew Tsunade-sama as well?
He he, well yes I did. She never did hesitate to give a good deck across the cheek for doing something I wasnt supposed to be doing. He put a hand to his cheek.
How did you know her? asked Hinata.
You may go in to the daimyos office now young Miss. interjected the assistant.
Thank you. bowed Hinata.
Well you had better go in. The Daimyo doesnt like to be kept waiting.
Thank you Takashi-sama she bowed once more, and then headed into the office.
The man watched her slender figure disappear through the door. Youve grown beautiful since the last time I saw you
He suddenly felt two eyes boring into the side of his head. He looked over to the assistant who was glaring daggers. He merely shrugged and left hearing the assistant mutter dirty old man under her breath as she returned to her stack of scrolls.