“Shadow fox…” muttered the Hokage as she read the message that Kurenai had sent her.
“What is it Kakashi?”
“This ‘Shadow Fox’ has popped up recently, but has proven to be a number one assassin. Only certain people know how to leave a calling card for him to know that a job is waiting.”
“Do you know what this is?”
“No.” sighed Kakashi. “But I’ll go check some sources maybe I can find something out.”
“You might want to start in the outpost town #3 where team 8 just left. Hinata said there was a man who seemed like a shinobi was leaving the Daimyo’s office and that’s when see saw a red tag with ‘shadow fox’ written upon it. That may be the calling card.”
“Maybe. I’ll leave immediately.”
“Good luck Kakashi.”
=================== (A/N: this would be where Shippuuden starts)
Team 8 and Kakashi assembled in front of Tsunade for a meeting she had called. Her eyes were puffy and red. They all knew she had been crying.
Kurenai said, “Tell me he’s not ...dead.” with a fearful look in her eyes, threatening to spill her tears.
Tsunade shook her head, “I don’t have any word on hat. But the council has forced me into a corner. It’s been 6 months, and we still have no word of either his actions or his remains. They said that since the threat of Orochimaru attacking is once again high, that we must call off the search. I cannot defy them any more on this. So your orders are to cease formally searching for Uzumaki Naruto.”
“‘Formally’ searching.” Kakashi stated nodding his head in understanding. “Tsunade-sama, if I may have a word in private?”
She nodded dismissing Team 8. Kakashi waited until they were all gone. He formed a few seals putting a soundproof barrier in which they could talk securely.
“As you know, I’ve spent the last few months tracking Naruto down. And this is what I’ve come up with: a year ago, Naruto and Jiraya entered the outpost town #4. That was the last time they were seen together. They both left the town, I can only guess that while heading towards Cloud Country, where Jiraya had a contact, that would train Naruto in wind jutsu, something happened and they got separated. Now the only thing that I could think of that would keep Jiraya from Naruto is the Akatsuki. I think it is only logical to think that Jiraya is dead.” Tsunade’s face turned from indifference to one of shock. “Otherwise,” Kakashi continued, “Jiraya, even the flake that he is, would have sent word by toad to you to prepare for the worst.”
“This isn’t possible…” tears leaked out of Tsunade’s eyes. “SHIZUNE!”
Shizune poked her head in the door meekly. “Yes, Hokage-sama?”
“I need Sake; lots of it.” She dropped her head onto the table.
“Tsunade, now is not the time for that,” Kakashi's eye narrowed. “I have more information. Apparently this Shadow Fox has appeared all over the countryside; from Fire country to Water, and even Sound. He apparently is a true assassin. He harbors no ill will towards anyone. If you have a job for him, we will do it. From all the information I can gather on this individual, which, mind you, isn’t much; he’s never failed a mission.”
“Does he have a name?”
“I’m sure he does, but I haven’t been able to figure that out.” Even my source at the outpost town that Team 8 went to, that was something he wouldn’t tell me.”
Tsunade looked a little angry, “I’m sure an hour with Ibiki he would sing like a songbird, given the chance.” She said with a frown.
“No. He wouldn’t. This man is a professional. He’s made it his job to know everyone and everything. If there’s something he’s not telling me. There’s a reason for it. About the shadow Fox. My source says that he about 50 years of age, with black hair and blue eyes. He wears a black robe with orange flames.”
“I think we might be able to use this man. If Naruto is out there he’ll find him. I would have to say that he even rivals the Akatsuki in that aspect, though he is not near as strong. And I think I know where to find him.” He reached into his pouch and pulled out a scroll labeled with dots and lines. “If you’ll look here,” he pointed to the different spots. My source is located here,” he pointed to a city circled in red, “but here, here, here ,here, here, and here,” he pointed respectively to each dot circled in black, “they’re all centered around this city; where my contact is. Apparently my contact knows him, but as I said earlier, no luck on getting him to tell me his name. so I can only assume that this is where his base of operations is. So this is where I will go. I’ll talk to the Daimyo and find the drop procedure. For the Shadow Fox.”
“Very well, go and leave the card to let him know that we want to give him a job.” I am getting WAY too old for this.
“Yes, Tsunade-sama.” With a seal and a “Kai!” Kakashi left in a whirlwind of leaves.
Sakura and Ino were heading towards the gate to see their friend with her Byakugan activated, frantically scanning the gates and beyond. She had streaks running down her cheeks , her once beautiful and silky hair, now matted and greasy from not washing it the previous few days. Sakura and Ino walked up behind Hinata and put a hand on each of her shoulder.
“C’mon Hinata you have to stop doing this to yourself.” Pleaded Ino.
“Yeah, you’ve been at this for days. Trust me Hinata; this isn’t any easier for us. This isn’t any easier for me. Team Seven is now down to two; Kakashi and me. You think it was easier for me when Sasuke left? I cried for days and days. It was about a year when I figured to let Sasuke go, and realize what a true friend Naruto was. I realized that I squandered his friendship, I had my mind dead-set on Sasuke that I didn’t realize what Naruto had given me. Through all of his lame jokes and stupid antics, I realized that even I loved him.” Seeing the shocked look Hinata gave her, she continued. “Not in the same way you do,” she help up her pinky finger, “but instead in this way.” She held up her index finger. “My number two. Next to the thumb the index finger is considered the strongest. Sure all of the fingers are important, but next to the thumb you use the index finger the most. It is used for almost all the tasks that the thumb can do. He is my little brother.” A tear spilled onto Hinata’s shoulder from Sakura’s cheek. “Even if we aren’t related by blood, I love him like I would a little brother.” Sakura fell to her knees beside Hinata and softly cried, triggering tears from Hinata.
Ino took this as her cue, “Even I hated Naruto when we were younger, but for the stupid reason that my parents thought he was the nine-tailed fox demon (A/N: all of the rookie nine have heard about the nine-tails and don’t care. Call it laziness but I really don’t feel like writing that in.). But it turns out he was keeping us safe for all of these 15 years. And now that he’s gone, it seems very quite and boring. I miss the little guy. Kiba has even tried taking over the title of class clown, but it isn’t the same. Naruto seemed to be the one that kept us all sane. Without it we’ll just be another group of shinobi desperately trying to keep what little shred of humanity intact within us alive.”
“Other wise,” Sakura continued between sobs, “we would…become…what Zabuza…and Haku became: tools of war…and nothing else. Without Naruto, we’re all bound to become either Shino or Sasuke; cold and withdrawn, or cold and withdrawn and driven to insanity with a lust for power.”
Ino collapsed on the ground next to Hinata and put her arms around Hinata. Sakura did likewise. The three stayed like that for an hour crying out their despair at abandoning their favorite ninja.
Kakashi was on top of the wall at the gate looking back down on this, and decided that now was the time to leave. Don’t worry, I’ll find him. I have to find him. For you, for Tsunade, for me, for Obito and his dying wish. With that he headed northeast to the coast.
“Candle Wax!” yelled Yamanashi as the man in the black cloak came forward and sat down. “‘My life can be measured in hours, I serve by being devoured. Thin, I am quick, Fat, I am slow, Wind is my foe.’ What am I? I AM CANDLE WAX!”
“Good job. It only took you an entire month. The usual please.” Answered Takashi.
“Yes sir!” Yamanashi gave a curt salute and proceeded to gather his ingredients to make the miso pork. “Now it’s time for mine…” Yamanashi gave him an evil grin, “… Okay, here goes: ‘Forwards I am heavy, backwards I am not.’”
They both looked at the man who walked up to them and sat down, on Takashi’s left. He wore dark blue pants and a dark blue long sleeve shirt. Covered by a green jacket festooned with pockets. He had grey hair, a mask covering his mouth and nose, and a hita-ite covering one eye.
“Hatake Kakashi” said the cook matter-of-factly.
“I take it you don’t want ramen? No, no, no. You hate ramen.”
“I guess I can’t get anything past you. You’re right I hate ramen,” his eye narrowed “but my student Uzumaki Naruto loves it.”
Yamanashi’s eyebrows raised at this. “Oh? Uzumaki Naruto you say? And why would you bring him up?”
“Because I’m looking for him.”
“You’ve been searching for the past six months. Don’t you think you should give it up?”
“Hn. And why don’t you think that you SHOULD give up?”
“Because Naruto wouldn’t. And because I know you,” he looked at Takashi “can find him.”
“And why would I do that?”
“Because you are the Shadow Fox.”
“What if I refuse?”
“Then I will kill you.” Kakashi’s eye narrowed dangerously.
“That doesn’t sound like the Kakashi that I’ve heard about; the son of Konoha’s White Fang.”
Kakashi’s eye sharpened at the mention of his father, “But you know I will do it for my student, and friend.” He put his hand to his hita-ite.
The Shadow fox sighed, “Very well, take me to your Hokage. It is my understanding that she is behind this?”
“Then ‘unofficially’, I will go to Konohakagure, and seek out your Hokage.”
Kakashi lowered his hand. “A very wise decision.”
“Eh, I really don’t feel like fighting on an empty stomach. Hey Boy!...”
“I’d rather be called Old Man…” the cook sighed.
“…don’t let my ramen burn.”
Yamanashi stood up shocked, “OH NO, I don’t want to ruin my perfect record!” He turned back to his stove and began furiously attending to his food.
The Shadow Fox turned back to Kakashi, “Don’t bother watching for me. I’d rather keep this quiet. I’ll come soon. But stay by your Hokage, I’d rather not be seen by two reckless ANBU.”
Kakashi sighed, stood up and walked away. Well that worked out better than I had hoped…