Naruto was at Ichirakus eating his 3rd bowl of ramen, thinking about how he had lost to Hinata, and what she was going to make him do. He was a man of his word so he would HAVE to do whatever she wanted. He sighed, I hope its not something dirty nah she doesnt have a dirty mind. Theres no way she would ask me to do something like that. She probably doesnt even like me like that. He frowned. He had a visitor.
A man in his seventies came up and sat down a few stools away from him. Having girl troubles?
Naruto gave him a suspicious glance. No, I dont have a girl here.
Thats weird; I saw you and that blue-haired girl walking into the village together; so how do you explain that?
Easy. I was outside the walls last night, and she happened upon me, so we decided on a friendly little match.
Friendly you say? I hope you didnt lose to a girl. The man said with somewhat of a sneer. He ordered his food from Teuchi.
Actually, I severely underestimated her. Before I left the village a few years ago, she was nothing, hardly even anything to notice, but last night she was a force to be reckoned with. She may not know anywhere near as many jutsu as I do, but she sure is strong. AND shes a Hyuuga.
A Hyuuga you say? Youre not trying to atone for your failures with a name-drop are you?
No. Like I said, I severely underestimated her. He looked down at the counter incredulously, Why am I even telling you this? I dont know you. Maybe its because you look like a good person. He looked at the man again Someone I might know?
I doubt it. If you did, someone, somewhere would be in a whole heap of trouble. Not to mention yourself. I only have a few people who know me, and even fewer friends. The man got his food and started to slowly eat it.
Naruto looked at him, and sighed If you would have come to me a few years ago, I wouldnt have taken a second thought at saying Ill be your friend, but nowadays Im not sure I can be anyones friend.
Oh? And why is that? he stopped with his chopsticks holding a piece of food halfway to his mouth and looked at Naruto.
because, I am a walking corpse; waiting for my time to come. I have a purpose, but it isnt what it once used to be. I used to dream of being Hokage, but now I just want to protect those who once cared for me. There are forces out to destroy this village. But, it isnt that easy. Oh, I could probably kill his poster-boy, yes, of that Im certain. With a friends help, I could probably kill the head of this villages enemy, but thats a bad idea.
Doesnt sound like a bad idea to me
Its the natural cycle of things. Teachers are destined to be surpassed by their students, just as the new generation must surpass the old. We get stronger and stronger with each generation, until eventually someone comes along with the power to destroy entire cities, create valleys with the easiest of effort, and even raze mountains to the ground. So why not keep him alive? Let him be the bad guy, but keep him alive, yet strong enough, to discourage other bad guys from coming into power. Do you see what Im getting at?
I think so., but why not just kill him outright? If hes such a bad guy, then why shouldnt he be able to enlist the help of those that you would also consider enemies? Then you would have two enemies.
Naruto scratched his head, pondering this mans words. How did you get so smart?
Experience. Years, and years of living on this world have taught me that, even if there is evil, no matter how grave the threat, someone is always there to destroy it. Youre village is in a war right now right?
Then think, if your village had been at war for
I dont know
fifty years; and someone had the power to stop the leader of your enemies, dont you think that they should do it? Even give their life for those they love? Naruto opened his mouth, but was silenced by a hand, Dont you think, that the few years of peace between wars is worth it? Its a paradox. Wars may be started over wealth, power, ego, women, or land; but they always keep getting fought for peace. Youre a shinobi, you fight for peace. Is that such a good thing? We dont live in a utopia, where the food is plentiful, and everyone is nice to each other.
Whats your point?
You say that you want to keep this man alive, but youre wrong. You must fight for as long as you can. Its those years of peace in between that we wish to live for. Wouldnt you like to stop risking your life everyday, and settle down with someone.;, get fat and lazy and die in peace with your wife and son at your side? the man pushed his empty bowl towards the cook and gave him a nod of satisfaction.
Thats the dream
But not yours
No. Naruto deadpanned
Then you may not belong here. You belong where theres always war, somewhere where your services will be needed everyday. But, when youre dead on some battlefield, youll only be known as that mercenary who didnt believe in anything, even himself versus
what was your name again?
Youll be known as Naruto, the great man who defended those who could not defend themselves, who believed in honor and peace, and gave justice to those who deserved it.
Naruto smiled, You have a way with words.
So Ive been told. The man patted his belly Man! That hit the spot! he paid his bill and walked out of the booth leaving Naruto to his thoughts when he turned around suddenly halfway leaning in the flaps. Oh Naruto!
Hm? he turned around.
I had some canaries that died last week; do you know where I can find more?
Naruto just shook his head when realization hit him. Did you have others?
The man nodded. Nine. Of which, Seven died,
Naruto looked down at the ground, Thats too bad. I dont know of anyone who sell canaries in the town, but Ill look for some. He nodded to the man.
Thank you. Since you know the village, Im sure you would be a better candidate to search than I would. He smiled
Ill start looking right away. He watched the mans retreating feet through the space below the flaps.
Seven dead canaries, eh? Mustve caught a disease or something. The cook pondered out loud.
Well he didnt say theyve flown the coop, so thats what mustve happened
A way with words is an understatement. You could convince a fish to jump onto the riverbank and try to breathe air. That must be why youre Number Two. So who to replace her with
I guess it would be only right, to replace a Hyuuga with another Hyuuga. He smiled, Now way Neji would do it, so that leaves one person, maybe two. So I guess the robins are mine. I could get used to that. Better than Yamanashis. Naruto stated as he stood up and paid the cook.
Only the best, for The Best. Replied the cook.
Naruto gave him one of his trademark grins and left in a hurry.
Wonder where hes going off to in such a hurry.
Father!! yelled Ayame, his daughter from the back.
What is it Sweetie?
I have to leave town for a few days with a friend. But youll have Matsu and Nishi to help you out ok?
Wha-WHAT? No! You cant leave! He yelled as he went into the back. Please dont leave me with those two
Naruto walked the streets of Konoha with his newfound knowledge. Something must have gone horribly wrong for Number Two to be shadowing me. Or, maybe they just dont trust me being here with all these past and painful memories. He thought, passing yet another group of villagers giving him a fearful gaze.
He was walking around in his casual wear. Orange pants with a black t-shirt with the symbol for the Leaf sewn on the back. Though he still gave off an impressive aura, he looked nowhere near as intimidating as when in his full battle attire.
Its still incomplete though. He pondered aloud. I still need some sort of breastplate. He tapped his almost naked chest. His thoughts were interrupted by an ANBU messenger.
Sir, Hokage-sama wishes to see you. I think its about a mission.
Ugh, she said that I had two weeks
I just deliver the message. She also said to promise you A bowl of ramen.
Narutos eyes lit up, Oh, well I cant refuse now!
The messenger disappeared in a swirl of leaves, leaving a small slip of paper to float gently down into Narutos hands.
I must be harder to find than I thought. He said aloud reading the slip of paper. Hmph, even though I still have half an hour I guess I might as well head on over there. He turned the nearby corner and started to make his way lazily towards the Hokage Tower.
about time you showed up
Tsunade heard from the anterior room.
well you see
she heard the muffled reply.
Dont worry about excuses, just get in there. Shizune commanded as she opened the door.
Naruto walked in the door noticing everyone in the room: Shino, Hinata, Kiba, and a very asleep-looking Shikamaru. His shoulders slumped. He thought he was going to get a good mission, but with the people here, it would likely be a B or C-rank.
Youre late Naruto
Well you see, I was on my way here, when three cats ran by me down the street, and so I had to find out where three cats were going together so I followed-he said matter-of-factly, taking a leaf out of Kakashis book.
Enough; look Naruto, Im sending you on a mission with these four. Dont look so depressed, I know I said two weeks, but these people need your strength.
Hes still just a Genin
Kiba grumbled off to the side.
And hes also killed one of the Akatsuki. Have YOU killed any recently?
Hmph. He spat.
As I was saying, this is an A-rank mission. A local princess is to be married to a foreign prince in a political marriage. Some families see this as a potential threat, what with two powerful families merging. So, you can expect to be attacked, quite probably from enemy or even domestic ninja. If you are attacked by ninja openly wearing their Leaf Headbands, then do your best to just incapacitate them, and bring their bodies back here immediately. Shikamaru will be team leader on this one.
he said sarcastically.
Tsunade handed him the mission details and they all turned and left the room. They started walking down the hallway, but stopped when Shikamaru turned to address them.
Ok, heres the deal. You have one hour to get your things ready, and meet at the main gate. From what Ive heard about this princess were supposed to protect, she is very
needy. He injected as much venom as he could into the word. So, I would pack expecting her not to give us anything. Well be meeting them a few miles north of here, and well be heading to Water country.
You might want to bring rain gear. I can smell water. The air is saturated with it. Kiba added.
Good job; then were to meet in one hour at the main gate. Questions? he waited a few seconds, Okay then, dismissed.
Half an hour later, Naruto was at the front gates reading a new book the he had bought earlier that day.
w-what are you r-reading, Naruto-Kun?
He didnt even need to look up to know who was addressing him, but did so anyway out of courtesy.
Its called The Art of Chess, (Yes Im going to use Western Chess for this because I dont know eastern enough to use it.) I saw it in a bookstore, and I felt compelled to buy it. He smiled, Its funny, I just finished a section that defines each piece and its general use. It said
people who are passionate about the game, usually find themselves associating their own fighting styles to that of one of the pieces.
He looked at her for a minute until she started to squirm under his intense gaze. Ah, yes, I know exactly what you are. His smile grew even wider, as he turned to the page he had thought of and began to read aloud to her. The Rook, though off to the side initially, is a majestic piece, symbolizing a turret, a pillar of strength. In the days of old, a few well-built turrets, so easily dissuade attacking armies from trying to breach its walls. Though seemingly pushed to the side initially, it is undoubtedly strong; able to switch with the King at a whim. It is also one of the most desired defensive, as well as offensive pieces, able to cover an entire column to either trap an enemy piece, or prevent a trap from being sprung. He looked straight into her eyes reading the net bit from memory, However simple its design, it is a piece symbolizing the Strength of Will, often playing key roles in the capture of enemy Kings. Without a doubt one of my favorite pieces. He smiled again.
She blushed, noticing his obvious praise. Ano
which piece are you?
He chuckled to himself. If you find that out Ill owe you THREE favors. I dont even know that myself. Though I dont think that one can accurately make that assumption by and for themselves. I think thats left up to that persons comrades and friends.
She simply smiled and nodded, poking her two index fingers together, to which he found himself surprisingly liking that little habit.
A few minutes passed by in a comfortable silence, each person waiting for the others, but at peace sharing the same bench with a person they admire (to different degrees of course).
Some time later, under a dark-growing sky, one Genin, four Chuunin, and a nin-dog, left the front gates toward their rendezvous point with the princess and her guard. They were dressed in their rain cloaks, and strode out from the gates each hoping that they would make it out of the upcoming mission.