They were walking along the road, Sora in front Naruto and Hinata trailing behind, when suddenly Sora turned off the road and went into the trees. Naruto and Hinata looked up from where Hinata had been trying to explain, unsuccessfully, how she pushed her chakra out of her hands.
“This way, you two,” Sora called out from the trees. They looked at each other and then followed their teacher into the forest.
“Ano, Onee-chan?” Hinata called out.
She started as Sora’s voice came from behind her. “Hinata-chan, do you start every question with ‘ano’?
Hinata blushed. “Ano, why-“ She stopped herself as she realized that what she had said.
Sora laughed, but it was a kind laugh that invited Hinata to join in. “Why?” she prompted.
Hinata swallowed. “Why did we leave the road?”
Sora smiled. “This is the way to my house. The next village is a few more hours down the road, but it will take less time to get home if we just go directly. From here on out, we can go ahead and use speed. Depending on how fast ya’ll can run, we should be there by the end of the day. ”
Naruto for one was relieved. Sora had been forcing them to walk along ‘like normal people’ for the past five days, claiming that it was essential to keeping the three out them ‘under the radar.’ It was almost painful for Naruto to travel this slow.
Jumping up into a tree, Sora looked down at them. “You two coming?”
The followed her up into the trees and across the forest, farther away from the road and further up into the mountains. The scenery flashed by as they jumped from tree to tree, blurring greens and brown together.
Suddenly, they stopped near the base of one of the mountains next to a broad cliffbase. “Here we are,” Sora said. She started to take her gloves off, puling back the Velcro straps around her wrist and tugging them off with the teeth.
Naruto looked left and right, even behind him, in confusion before turning back to Sora. “Huh? There’s nothing here.”
“That’s because you just don’t know where to look,” Sora said with a smile. Shoving her gloves into the pocket of her jacket, she walked up to the side of cliff and started walking along it, looking up and down as if she was trying to find something on the face of the cliff. Suddenly she stopped and faced the wall. Stretching her arm up over her head, she shook her shoulders out quickly. Then she brought her hands together and started running through a long series of hand seals. Suddenly she stopped and started drawing symbols down the face of the cliff, beginning just above her head and ending at her waist. Naruto and Hinata watched in astonishment as her fingers left a trail of glowing purple behind it. Sora quickly pressed her hands together, made two quick seals and slammed her palms into the wall on either side of the line.
A door sized portion of the rock began to move backward into the cliff face, as if Sora was pushing it. Then it suddenly swung to the side, revealing an opening into the side of the mountain. Sora dusted off her hands and went inside. Naruto stared at the entrance, then looked at Hinata to see if she knew what to make of it. “Hello? Is it just me or are ya’ll unusually slow today?”
“Hey!” Naruto yelled and stomped off into the hole, Hinata trailing behind. “What the hell do you mean slow” he said, then started as the rock slid shut behind them. Naruto heard Hinata take a sharp breath behind him. “Hey! What’s going-”
He was cut off by lights flickering on. Exposed bulbs overhead buzzed in the sudden quiet of the cave. Sora smiled. “Welcome home!” she said. Turning, she started to walk up a seemingly endless flight of stairs.
“Ano, Onee-chan, when you said you lived in the mountains, I didn’t think...”
“Hinata, we really need to work on the number of times you say ‘ano.’ In any case I don’t live in the mountain. I live on it. But this is the only way up.”
Naruto looked around at the stone walls. “Why would anyone build a house like this?”
“For security. As I said, the only way up is through this passage; the area around the house is rather cliffy. It’s a nearly impossible position to attach on mass. But the main thing is that because there is no path leading up to a house, no one looks for a house.”
“Huh?” Naruto said.
“The house is surrounded protected by an illusion. Unless you know it is there and what it looks like, you can’t see it. Add to that the fact that most of the house isn’t even visible from the ground.”
“An- why did you build a house with so much security.”
Sora smiled at the bitten off ‘ano.’ “I didn’t build it my first teacher did. She said that if you were going to call something hidden, might as well actually make it hidden.” She was grateful that it was Hinata asking these questions and not Naruto. She told herself that when she had to address questions about Nanashi-sensei, she would simply answer them and not swerve. However, she was finding it harder to do then she expected.
Hinata was puzzled. Things were very rarely given the word hidden as part of their name unless they were the capital of a country. “What’s the name of the house?”
“Generally, it’s referred to as ‘Sora’s house.’” She turned to look at them over her shoulder and grinned. Hinata swore she saw pain in her eyes, but she couldn’t be completely sure. “Her plans never really materialized. Originally this was going to be the base for a new group of ninjas.”
“Nani? A new group of ninja’s?” Naruto asked.
Sora nodded. “She didn’t agree with the way the villages were being run. She hoped that by founding her own, she would be able to change things.”
“What sort of things?” Hinata asked.
Sora shook her head. “It’s not really important. She was never able to start up the group.”
“Why not?” Hinata asked.
Sora’s eyes clouded in sadness. “She died young.”
“How did she die?”
Sora again shook her head. “Look. I will never lie to either of you. You have to be able to trust me in order for me to teach you. However, there are some things I either can’t or won’t tell you. Those you have to simply let go.”
Hinata and Naruto were startled by her response. It was so straightforward and serious that it almost seemed out of character. Perhaps that was the reason they accepted it so easily.
They followed another curve in the stairwell and suddenly had their eyes filled with sunlight. Climbing up the last few steps into the open.
They seemed to be on some sort of plateau. They had emerged in the middle of a small field covered in low grasses. The field sloped upwards gently, dotted with trees until it reached the house. Hinata and Naruto stopped and looked in amazement.
The house was built into a tall wide crevice in the face of the mountain. Three sides pressed up against the mountain wall with the fourth spilling out in a series of terraces. It was a traditional house with wide covered porches and green tile roofs. There was nothing ornate or fancy about it, but it was huge, rising at least four stories into the air.
“That’s your house?!” Naruto yelled.
Sora looked at him ironically. “I told you a whole group of ninjas were supposed to live here. She built it for 150 people.” She snickered. “If you think the house is impressive, check out the view behind you.”
Naruto and Hinata turned and gasped. It was spectacular. To either side of them were the mountains, rising to snow covered peaks. In front of them was the valley, laying out a patchwork of farmland as far as the eye could see.
“Wow!” yelled Naturo, running towards the edge of the field. Looking over the edge he realized that it simply dropped off. They were on a plateau at the top of the cliff. There were hundreds of feet between him and the ground. “This is so cool! Hey Hinata, come check it out.”
Hinata’s eyes went wide and she stayed rooted in her place. She shook her head vigorously. She could tell from where she was that they were very high up off the ground. Naruto was bending over the edge in a way that made her very nervous. What if he fell?
“Hinata.” She looked up at her teacher. “When Yasu had Miki two years ago we warded the whole perimeter. If he falls off, he falls four feet.”
Hinata smiled shyly, grateful that she hadn’t had to confess her fears out loud. Yasu must be the partner who Onee-chan had mentioned. Hinata wondered what Yasu must be like.
“Onee-chan? Are we going to meet Yasu?”
“Eventually. Her and her husband live near the village we bypassed. The next time we go to get supplies we’ll spend the night at her place.” Sora turned and started walking up towards the house. “Come on, Naruto!” she yelled over her shoulder. Naruto looked up and scrambled up to run after them.
“Neh, neh, Onee-chan! Do you live in this whole house by yourself?”
“I only live in a portion of it. The rest I keep shut up. I’m afraid the two of you are going to have to clean out a couple of rooms for yourselves.” She walked up the few steps to the huge front gate. This one she simply took a key out for and quickly turned the lock.
It wasn’t a castle, but it was close. It was obviously not built to impress. There was no grand entrance, no intricate ironwork. It was a house large enough to accommodate a small crowd and that was it. The gate opened into a large courtyard, overshadowed by the house. The slate floor was scratched from weapons practices in the past. They crossed it and stepped up onto the first porch. Sora slid open the door and walked inside.
“Home sweet home,” she said. The room was large and airy with a staircase on the far side leading up. Looked more like a modern family room pulled out someone’s home than the entry room for a fortress. “Run upstairs and dump you stuff then come back down. Then I’ll show you around.”
With a muttered hai, they ran upstairs. Quickly she moved to a table in back of the couch and grabbed two framed photos. Knowing she only had seconds until they came back, she shoved the pictures into a drawer. It would have to do until she could move them to her rooms.
Her eyes stopped on a photo of her and Obaa-chan just a few weeks after they had started traveling together. They were sitting at the counter of some restaurant, leaning together over plates of food while the chef took their picture.
“Is that the Hokage-sama?” Sora looked up and scolded herself for not hearing the two of them comeback.
“Hai. I’m a little bit younger than ya’ll here. This was taken just after I convinced her to let me travel with her, so I would have been thirteen.”
Naruto eyed the picture suspiciously. “Is that really you.”
“I know, it doesn’t look much like me. I didn’t start developing my own sense of style until shortly thereafter.” She laughed softly. “If I remember right, the day after that picture was taken I snuck out and got my nose pierced. Obaa-chan was pissed.”
Naruto looked down the table of pictures. “All these all your friends.”
“Most of them are the same people, but at different ages.” She started pointing out pictures. “This is me as Yasu when we were in our teens, the two of us at her wedding and us and her daughter, Miki.”
Naruto looked from one picture to the other. Sora stayed basically the same, but the other woman went from being a sex kitten with heavy white curly hair spilling over exposed shoulders to a woman with a bun and a little girl in her lap. “That’s the same person?”
Sora shrugged. “She calmed down a great deal after she had Miki?”
Hinata held one picture up to her. “Who’s this, Onee-chan.”
She swallowed. “This is me and my first teacher. The one who built the house.”
“She’s beautiful. What was her name?”
She had to get it out. She had to make them think that there was nothing out of the ordinary. She breathed in. “Nanashi.” She looked over to gauge Naruto’s reaction and was pleased to see that there wasn’t one. He was still staring at the pictures of Yasu and her. “Come on, you two. I’ll show you the house.”
The house was even bigger than it looked from the outside, but Sora only lived in a few rooms. She showed them the kitchen and dinning room (which she said she never used), the living areas and the library (which she rarely used, but they were going to be using a lot). The bathhouse was at the top of the house and Sora spent a good fifteen minutes lecturing Naruto on how he was going to peep on her or Hinata in the bath while Naruto yelled he was not a pervert and Hinata blushed. Finally, they came to the bedrooms where she stopped.
“This is my room,” she said, pointing to the door. “Unless there is an emergency, you are not to come in here. And by emergency I mean Emergency. Foreign ninjas invading the house. Not, 'I can’t sleep' or 'I’m out of deodorant and I need to borrow some of Sora’s.' Clear?”
They nodded. “Good. Now, if you will excuse me, I have a few things I need to attend to. Just pick out any room along here and start cleaning it out. I’ve used most of them for storage of various thing, so you’ll need to move things into empty rooms. Okay?”
They nodded again. “Great. Just knock when you have the room cleared out.” And with that she stepped into her room and closed the door.
Naruto and Hinata stood there and stared at the door. Naruto snorted. “What crawled up her skirt?” Hinata giggled.
“I heard that!” Sora yelled.
“I don’t care if you did!” Naruto yelled back.
“Naruto-kun,” Hinata said softly, not expecting him to hear her.
“Huh? What Hinata?” he asked. Hinata blushed and shook her head. “Well might as well get started looking at the rooms. He grabbed her arm and lead her down the hall. He had done it a few time in the past week and it always made Hinata blush. It was close to her dream but not quite. When she dreamed, they were holding hands and they were walking side by side, not her trailing behind.
They opened the first door they came to and stood in shock. It was dark and dusty and full of boxes. Obviously it had not been opened in years. Moving down to the second door they discovered the same. In fact, further investigation proved that all of the bedrooms were in some state of disrepair.
“What the heck is this? Hasn’t she ever cleaned?” Hinata thought about trying to calm the boy down, but then realized that she didn’t even know where to begin.
Naruto looked over at the girl hovering in the doorway. He hadn’t really thought much about it when Obaa-chan had assigned her to the mission with him. In fact, he hadn’t thought about her much period the whole time they’d know each other. But after their talk before the chuunin exam and the past week of training together everyday, he was finding that she was kind of nice in a very quiet sort of way. He realized that not only did he like people like her, but he liked her herself.
“Neh, Hinata.” She looked up from where she was twiddleing her fingers in the doorway. He grinned at her, which made her heart stop. “Wanna’ start moving stuff out?”
Hinata lifted the box off of the table and was nearly pushed over backwards by it’s weight. Naruto had to drop his own box to grab the other side of hers. They stood across from each other, hands just barely brushing as they held the edges of the box.
Hinata’s heart began to speed up. She blushed, pulled her hands back away from his and ducked her head. “Gomenasai!” she whimpered out softly, her embarrassment easy to hear.
Unfortunately, easy to hear did not mean that Naruto was able to hear it. Someone more sensitive would have smiled and helped her carry out the box. Naruto however, didn’t understand what Hinata was apologizing for and wasn’t afraid to ask. “What for?”
Hinata looked up at him with wide eyes. What was she apologizing for? For trying to pick up to heavy a box? For making him help her? For accidentally touching his hand? She really didn’t know.
Naruto, thankfully, didn’t press the matter. Shoving into the ‘weird things Hinata does’ category, he asked her took the box from her and carried it across the hall into the already packed room. Hinata scrambled to pick up the box he had dropped and put it away.
Naruto dusted his hands off and looked at the room, now packed to the ceiling with boxes. “Well, that was the last of it,” he said. They had managed to clean out two rooms by stuffing two other rooms to the breaking point. They were empty, but still covered in dust and cobwebs.
“Ano, do you think we should clean them out before we get Onee-chan?” Hinata asked.
“She said to know when we were finished emptying it out and we’re finished emptying it out.” He was more than a little irritated by the woman. It had been a week and she had taught them nothing, just handed them the scroll, and told them to start teaching themselves. Some teacher she was.
Naruto went and banged on Sora’s door. “Oi!, we’ve finished clearing them out.”
“Good, now you can clean them,” Sora yelled from inside.
“Eh! When do we get to start training?”
Sora slid the door open. “Right now,” she said and started walking down the hall. “Which two did you choose?”
“Ano, these two,” Hinata said.
“Hmm... good choices. You’ll have great views once the windows get cleaned off.”
Naruto glared at her. “I though that we were going to train.”
Sora rolled her eyes. “Impatient, aren’t you? What’s skill number 24?”
“The scroll Naruto. What’s skill number 24 on the scroll?”
“Oh.” He stuck his hand behind his head. “I think it’s in my pack.”
Sora rolled her eyes again. “Baka... In the interest of time, I will tell you that the 24th skill is Clean floor no Jutsu.”
“NANI? You’re going to use jutsu to clean the floor?!”
“Better to use it to clean the floor than kill someone.”
There was deadly silence.
“Look Naruto, I know you’re frustrated. I know you want to train. But right now the only thing you know how to do is beat people up. You want to be Hokage? It’s not about being the most powerful ninja in the village. It’s about being the best. There’s a difference between them.”
“What’s the difference?” He yelled at her, but without his usual spirit.
Sora smiled softly. “Hopefully, by the time our three years are up, you’ll have learned that. For now,” she said, grabbing him in a headlock and rubbing his blond hair, “you just need to know that I’m doing these things for a reason and follow my directions.”
“Hey, get off of me!” Naruto wiggled and yelled.
Releasing him with a giggle, Sora walked over to Hinata. “Now, the key behind this technique is to create a flat plane of chakra between the dirt and the floor. The two seals are dragon and hare. After executing them, slide your chakra out underneath the dirt. Next, retract the chakra along with the dirt on top. Watch...”
Stepping out into the hallway, she made the seals, said the name then lightly placed her hand down on the floor. The whole floor flashed purple for a second, then glowed spotless. At Sora’s feet was a small pile of dirt.
“Well that’s the basics of it. It works on most flat surfaces, so you can do the walls and the widows as well. There is a more advanced version where you eliminate the dirt once you are done, but that’s a little beyond your reach right now.”
“Ano...., wouldn’t it be easier to just sweep the hallway?”
“Not if you are using your chakra efficiently. Trust me, by the time you start trying to clean all of the floors in the house this size it’s well worth it.”
“Heh, when was the last time you did that?” Naruto asked from across the room.
Sora glared at him, but decided not to start another fight. “Do you have any questions?” No reply. “I’ll be in the kitchen. Come get me if you need a hand. You’ll probably want to hurry. It’s almost eight o’clock. If you wait much longer, you won’t have anywhere to sleep.”
She left the room. A few seconds later they heard her steps going down the stairs.
“What kind of teacher is she anyway? Who tells ninjas to clean floors?” Naruto yelled down the hall.
Hinata just stood there. Had Naruto not been listening? Sora had told them why they were doing the exercise: it was a chakra manipulation skill. She looked at him, puzzled. Was he always this bad of a listener?
She looked at the floor. She couldn’t tell him that. He had always been an inspiration to her, loud and harsh yes, but in an admirable way. It never occurred to her that she might ever find him lacking in some way. But he hadn’t seemed to listen to a word Sora said.
Quietly she sat down in the corner and started to work on the jutsu. She was used to making sharp punches with her chakra, not thin sheets. It was frustrating to try and maintain the smooth plane. Furthermore it was hard to place the sheet just on top of the floor so that it grabbed all of the dirt up. She kept having some dust left of the floor.
Across the room Naruto muttered to himself. This was so stupid. Jutsu’s for cleaning floors had to be the stupidest idea he had ever heard of. But he would show that woman! “Ha! Mastering such an useless jutsu is a piece of cake for the future hokage!!” But every single time 'the future hokage' tried, he just ended up with the floor scratched up and dirt being blown up in his face.
Finally, Hinata decided that she needed help. She had been trying for hours to get it right but she was still unable to get all the dirt up off of the floor. The rest of it seemed to be in place; she could hold the sheet of chakra flat and roll it up to bring the dirt back to her. But she always left dirt behind. Onee-chan had said that she would answer questions, right?
Hinata got up from the floor and slipped past an oblivious Naruto. Walking quietly down the hall, she found the stairs went down. There was a light on in the kitchen and Hintata could hear someone singing. She quietly looked through the open door.
Sora was cooking something and singing along with the sappy love song that was coming out of the small stereo on the counter. She was dancing along exaggerating the movements as if she was making fun of the song more than anything else. Hinata smiled. Suddenly she seemed like a teenage girl. Hinata frowned. She wondered how old Sora was.
“Hinata-chan, I am not turning around until you say it again without the ano.” As she was still facing the stove she obviously meant it, but her tone held a joking quality that let Hinata know she was half teasing.
Hinata smiled, her confidence boosted. “Onee-chan.”
Sora turned around with a smile. “Hai, Hinata-chan?”
“I’m having trouble with the jutsu. I keep leaving dirt behind.”
Sora wiped her hands off on a dishrag. “Let me see.” She watched as Hinata tried to clean off a wide patch of the kitchen floor. The girl almost had it, but she wasn’t using her chakra forcefully enough to get all of the ground in dirt up.
“That’s impressive. You have really good control.” Hinata blushed. “The only thing is that you aren’t using your chakra aggressively enough.” She knocked her hand on the floor. “How many coats of varnish do you think are on this floor?”
Hinata was very confused. “I don’t know.”
“Seven. I know because I put all of them on there. Now, how hard do you think that varnish is?”
“Pretty hard?” Hinata said hesitantly.
“Harder than ground in dirt?”
Suddenly Hinata realized where all of this was going. “Hai.”
“So you could use more chakra to pick up the dirt without worrying about wrecking the floor. Speaking of which, that’s what Naruto is doing, right?”
“Ano..., it’s a bit scraped.”
Sora rolled her eyes. “Meaning he’s probably gouged it all up. You go ahead and go upstairs and practice gradually increasing the amount of chakra. Also, try curling the sides of the sheet up just a little but before you roll it back. The dust won’t escape out of the sides then.”
Hinata smiled and nodded. Sora watched as the girl quietly walked out of the room. Considering how fast she was going through things it would only be another hour or so before she completed the task. Sora heard loud angry curses coming from upstairs and sighed. Naruto on the other hand might take another day.
She put the kettle on.
It took Hinata another hour and a half to figure out how to clean the whole floor without leaving anything behind. She was oddly proud of the small clump of dust that was sitting at her feet. Naruto stared at her in shock. Then suddenly he was on his feet.
“Neh, Neh, you can do it Hinata? Can you give me some hints?”
Hinata was awed. He would ask for her help. Even when he wouldn’t ask Sora for help, he was actually asking her!.
“Sure, Naruto-kun,” she said, nervously tucking a strand of hair behind her ear and staring at the floor.
“Really? Let’s go into the other room where the floor is still dirty. Once again grabbing her arm he hauled her out into the hall. Suddenly he stopped short. Hinata peeked around his shoulder.
Sitting on the floor in front of them were two piles of bed linens, they packs and two covered trays of food. In between the trays there was a note, which Naruto grabbed to read.
My guess is that when you get this, Hinata will have figured out the jutsu and cleaned out the first room. As it is no doubt very late and we have had a rather long day, I suggest that both of you turn in. Towards that end, I have already cleaned the second room. Tomorrow you two can work on teaching Naruto using some of the other rooms upstairs.
Good job. Sora
Naruto finished reading the note and handed it to Hinata. While she read it, he sat down on the floor and started looking through the food on the trays.
“Eh? No ramen?!” he yelled, disappointed. Grudgingly he began to eat the food on the trays. Hinata knelt down opposite him and started looking through her own tray. The food was fairly basic, miso, rice, a few dumplings and some chicken, but when Hinata took her first bite, it was surprisingly good. “Neh, Hinata.” She looked up from her food. “How did you do the floor cleaning thing?”
Hinata blushed and looked back at her tray. “Ano, Onee-chan helped me. Before I wasn’t using enough chakra to get all of the dirt up.” She paused staring at the chopsticks in her hand. “Maybe you are using too much chakra, since you are scraping the floor,” she added hesitantly.
“Hmm.” Naruto seemed to consider this for a second before nodding firmly. “You’re probably right,” he said as he went back to eating. Hinata looked at Naruto in astonishment. She couldn’t believe what she had just done.
“Which room do you want, Hinata?”
“Ano, I don’t care.”
Naruto stood up and starting carrying piles of futons and blankets into the two rooms. “Here, why don’t you take the one you cleaned.”
Hinata nodded and picked up her bag to take it into the room.
“Goodnight Hinata,” Naruto called out over his shoulder as he walked down the hall.
“Naruto-kun?” His room was right next to hers, so why was he leaving.
He turned and looked over his shoulder at her.
“Ano, where are you going?”
He grinned at her. “I’m going to keep training. Hopefully I’ll have it before you and Onee-chan wake up tomorrow.”
“Oh.” She was ready to drop and he was still able to train. She smiled at his determination. “Goodnight, Naruto-kun.” He waved at her and kept walking down the hall.
She went inside the room and started laying out her futon. Looking over, she saw the scratched up section of floor that Naruto had been working on.
Sora awoke in the middle of the night to a string of curses coming from the floor above her. Damn the boy was loud. She rolled over and put her pillow over her head.
It gradually started to penetrate through her head that he was still up and working on the jutsu. She lifted the pillow up enough to check the time. It was two in the morning. Was Naruto that resolved to learn the jutsu? She had rarely come across someone that determined.
She smiled and snuggled back down into the blankets.
The next day Sora and Hinata would find Naruto curled up sleeping on an immaculately clean floor up on the fourth floor. Pleased with their progress, Sora had explained that the next thing they should learn was Dishes no Jutsu. Same idea, but more advanced as the dishes were more delicate and not quite flat. As usual, Naruto protested and Sora had knocked him over the head.
Once they had gotten a hold of the dishes, Sora had moved them on using chakra to slice vegetables. Then to heat water for cooking. Then using chakra to dry their clothes. Naturally, Naruto struggled a bit with this one. He burned a dozen bed sheets before he figured it out).
And so the days began to pass. They gradually started to check off more of the techniques on the scroll and life at the house fell into a rather predictable rhythm. It was driving Naruto crazy, but Hinata was enjoying it. Training was difficult, but so far she hadn’t been asked to do anything that required fighting. She was gradually loosing some of her nervousness around Naruto. She was beginning to hope that these days would never end.
The men sat cloaked in darkness around a large circular table. None of them really trusted any of the others and they sipped their sake carefully, tasting for poison in every drop. Still they knew that they would be able to accomplish far more with the assistance of the others then they would be able to alone. Striking out on your own, even if you were willing to deal with the hassle of subordinates, was incredibly messy. Orochimaru had proved that.
Finally, one of them spoke.
“They have moved the boy out of the village.”
“We are not sure. Approximately a month ago a woman entered Leaf village and left a few hours later in the company of two gennins, one of which was the boy.”
“And the other?”
“They heir to the Hyuuga Clan.”
“What of the woman?”
“No one seems to know anything about her. She obviously knows the Godaime Hokage, but as to where she has taken them, no one in the village seems to know. Rumors say they left on a training mission for three years.”
“Three years. They would have been the same age that you had when you left, Itachi.”
The man showed no reaction. “Do we know the woman’s name?”
“Sora is the only name we have been able to come up with, but that could easily be a pseudonym.”
“Sora?” questioned one of them suddenly.
“Yes. Do you know a Sora?”
“Know of perhaps. Years ago in the west there were two women who were some of the most widely feared ninja’s of the time. They were some of the most efficient killers anyone had ever seen.”
He shook his head. “Not quite. They had their own moral code which no one was able to really decipher. They certainly took jobs, but they were known to turn down many lucrative offers as well. And they were known to kill potential clients if they were offended by what they asked them to do.”
“And one of them was named Sora?”
“Yes, the younger of the two, an incredible ninjutsu and taijutsu user. If it was not for their morals, I would have suggested them for recruitment. However, no one has heard a word about them in over three years. It is as if they disappeared off the face of the earth.”
“How would the Leaf recruit such an ally? Could they have hired her to protect the boy?”
“I’m not sure. My memories of them are old and faded. Perhaps she was hired.”
“It does not matter. Any one of us should be able to overpower them. For now all we need to worry about is finding where she has hidden the boy.”
“Agreed. Itachi, as the acquisition of the boy has become something of your project, why don’t you spearhead this.”
The man’s red stare cut across the table. “Fine.”