Facilitating Between Heaven and Hell

BY : Cha's Aegis
Category: Naruto AU/AR > Het - Male/Female
Dragon prints: 2700
Disclaimer: Don't own anything in the Naruto universe. Some dude in Japan does. Make no money on my stories either.

Warnings: I make Naruto and Iruka female in this. I also love writing long, multi-chap fics, so this isn’t a short little fic by any means. None of my stories are ever strict to canon. I use a lot of canon from both the manga and anime, but I’d be severely limiting myself if I tried following it exactly.

Konoha is not known for its winters. Unlike Snow Country or Mist, winter storms are fairly mild. However, every few years nature reminds the residents of the Leaf village of how powerful it can be and this year a reminder came due early and fiercely.

Blizzards slam Konoha throughout November, making it extremely difficult to keep functioning at a minimum level. However, like anything else that can happen in a ninja village, the residents take it all in stride, becoming quite adept and creative in digging sturdy tunnels when snow buries the village up to the roofs of most buildings. The children take it further by building intricate mazes and snow forts to play in. White dominates, changing Konoha into the perfect picture postcard image of winter.

Despite the difficult conditions, the holiday spirit isn’t dampened in the slightest as New Years fast approaches.

Wandering into the kitchen, Naruto hums a jaunty tune one chilly December evening. She smiles at her big sister Iruka who is slicing up pieces of pork at one section of the counter. Glancing up from her task, Iruka smiles back.

“You’re in a good mood, Naruto.”

“Why wouldn’t I be?” the redhead asks. “Of course I’d be happy to get invited over for dinner.”

Iruka laughs before turning her attention back to cutting the meat.

“Well, if you want to eat sooner than later, I’ll need your help,” she tells the younger woman. “Start prepping the salad.”

“Sure thing,” Naruto replies, digging into the cabinets and drawers for the cutting board and knife she’ll need. After retrieving the ingredients from the fridge, she gets to work before speaking again. “What are we having for dinner anyways?”

“Ramen,” came the nonchalant reply.

“Awesome!” Naruto cheers. “What’s the special occasion?”

“Because we haven’t had it in awhile and I couldn’t think of anything else, so I figured why not?” Iruka explains while dumping the meat into the simmering pot.

“Wait a sec,” Naruto pauses in chopping the lettuce to look over at her former academy sensei. “We only make it when it’s a special occasion.” Suspicion lights up her features as she growls, “Did Kakashi knock you up?”

“Naruto!” Iruka snaps through her embarrassed blush.

“You’ve been around Jiraiya far too long, Naruto,” Kakashi drolly interrupts while sauntering into the kitchen. Passing by he flicks her ear. “And don’t look a gift horse in the mouth. Enjoy the fact we’re having ramen.”

Sullenly rubbing her ear, Naruto glares at the silver haired jounin as he steps over to the sink to start washing some of the dishes piling up.

“Yeah, well, you guys always harp the worst about me eating too much ramen,” she grouses while turning back to her task. “Of course I’d want to know why we’re having it when it’s not a special occasion.”

“I guess New Years could be considered a special enough occasion, but since it’s nearly a month away I don’t think it really counts,” Kakashi observes while placing a clean bowl in the dish rack. “Speaking of which, what are your plans for New Years, Naruto?”

Without thinking Naruto opens her mouth to reply when the question sinks in. Her movement completely stills for a moment before setting down the knife on the cutting board to cross her arms while she turns around to lean against the cabinets to suspiciously eye her two former sensei. She doesn’t have long to wait before they stop their respective tasks. Iruka’s expression is questioning while Kakashi’s is far too innocent as he dries his hands with a dishtowel.

“Alright, what the hell are you two plotting?” the redhead demands with an arched brow. “You know damn well New Years doesn’t exist in my books.”

“You’re far too suspicious, Naruto-chan,” Kakashi replies, continuing to feign innocence.

Naruto growls at him, while Iruka rolls her eyes at her lover before speaking.

“We’re not plotting anything, Naruto. Shizune, Ebisu and I are planning a New Year’s Eve party celebrating Tsunade-sama’s tenth year as Godaime Hokage. And since I know your aversion to attending New Years parties, I’m hoping you’ll make an exception and come to this one.”

Naruto blinks in surprise at her big sister and former jounin sensei in confusion.

“But Baa-chan’s anniversary of her inauguration isn’t until spring, why not have it then?” she asks in confusion.

“Because Koharu and Homura insist on planning the official celebration on the actual anniversary date,” Kakashi replies easily.

“Oh kami,” Naruto groans, slapping a palm to her face.

“Exactly,” Kakashi grins. “You know what a dull celebration that’s going to be.”

“Don’t mock their intentions, Kakashi,” Iruka glares at him. “They made a good point. Ten years is a milestone that warrants an appropriate celebration involving the Daimyo, local dignitaries and our allies.”

Kakashi eyes his lover before cocking his head lazily to look at Naruto.

“In other words, Tsunade-sama will doze off out of boredom a half hour into the celebration.”

Naruto sniggers as Iruka’s eyes narrow in annoyance.

Anyway,” Iruka grinds out irritably. “Since Koharu and Homura insist on handling that celebration, we decided to plan a separate party. This way the rank and file can freely celebrate along with Tsunade without any restrictions.”

“Restrictions?” Naruto asks, arching a brow. “Does that mean there’s going to be lots of booze at this party?”

Simultaneously, Iruka and Kakashi wince at Naruto’s tone. They both know what’s coming next.

“Gotcha,” Naruto nods in understanding. “I’m not going,” she states succinctly, turning back to finish cutting up the salad ingredients.

Iruka softly groans and Kakashi sighs heavily before sharing a look. Both knew it wouldn’t be easy convincing the redhead to attend. They understand her trepidation. The fact there’d be so much alcohol would make her decide immediately she isn’t going. She had far too many bad experiences with drunks. However, both know how close Tsunade and Naruto are and it wouldn’t be a true celebration without the Jinchuriki.

“Naruto,” Iruka calls gently.

“I’m not changing my mind, nee-chan,” the redhead replies tersely without turning around.

“I swear it’s not going to be that bad. Kakashi and I will make sure no one becomes aggressive,” the older brunette reassures.

Naruto pauses again mid-task. Iruka and Kakashi patiently wait for the expected outburst or possible agreement to go. Neither is surprised, though, when she sets down her knife and wordlessly leaves the kitchen. Iruka worriedly steps forward to follow, but Kakashi’s hand on her shoulder stops her, shaking his head before releasing her to step out of the kitchen.

He crosses the living room and heads down the hallway. He’s relieved her bedroom door wide open, meaning she’s willing to talk. Leaning against the doorframe, hands stuffed in pockets, he observes her sitting on the bed, gazing out the window.

“You know,” he begins. “When Iruka said we’d make sure no one becomes aggressive, my first thought was why not let them? You might enjoy being a human piñata, especially for Tsunade. It is a celebration after all.” He pauses to watch Naruto unsuccessfully withhold a soft snort of laughter. “Good thing I didn’t say it. You know Iruka’s got a vicious streak to rival Anko’s. Keeping quiet is a lot healthier for our sex life than being banished to the sofa until spring. The winter nights are far too cold to survive the separation.”

Unable to resist, Naruto laughs at her former sensei’s plight.

Kakashi smiles, pleased she isn’t too upset.

“However, Iruka is correct. We won’t let anything happen to you.”

Naruto’s smile drops as she turns again to look out the window.

“Sorry. Heard that promise too many times to believe it,” she replies quietly.

Though she can’t see it, Kakashi nods in understanding.

“Still, you know how highly we value our promises. Besides, the shinobi attending the party agree with and support all of Tsunade’s policies. Those who don’t will be on security detail for the village that night. Most of the revelers are comrades you know and get along with and won’t try hurting you if they have a little too much to drink.” He gives her a moment before continuing. “You don’t have to decide now, Naruto, but you know it’d mean a lot to Tsunade if you’re there.”

“I’ll think about it,” she sighs heavily with a nod before returning her gaze out the window.

Deciding to leave her alone with her thoughts, Kakashi quietly withdraws to help Iruka finish dinner.

Kakashi is annoyed.

Standing next to Iruka while she chats with Ebisu, she keeps craning her neck to look past him and around the banquet room where Tsunade’s New Years Eve party is being held, searching for Naruto among the milling off-duty shinobi and civilians, before returning her attention to the Tokubetsu jounin. Like clockwork she sweeps the room every five minutes.

“She said she’d be here,” Kakashi finally comments in mild exasperation when she does it again.

Iruka glares at him as Ebisu asks Kakashi, “Who? I was wondering who Iruka was searching for.”

“Naruto,” he replies easily.

“She’s coming?” Ebisu asks in disbelief. At Kakashi’s nod, he happily adds, “That’s a wonderful surprise!”

“Depends if she actually makes it,” Iruka comments, still frowning at Kakashi. Relaxing a little, she focuses fully on Ebisu. “She’s never been comfortable at parties with a lot of available alcohol and was dragging her feet for the past month. She only committed a couple of days ago.”

“She said she’d come, Iruka,” Kakashi points out.

“And she could decide not to at the last minute if she’s too uncomfortable,” Iruka retorts.

“Naruto’s probably running a little late,” Ebisu reassures her. Smirking, he adds, “Kakashi is her jounin sensei, so some of that may have rubbed off.”

Kakashi glares at Ebisu while Iruka laughs at his expression. A glimpse of red across the room captures the copy nin’s attention and with a smug expression he nudges his lover with his elbow. Iruka looks at him in curiosity, prompting a nod towards the entrance of the banquet room. Iruka’s face lights up as she turns back to Ebisu.

“Excuse me,” she informs him before weaving through the milling shinobi with Kakashi trailing behind.

Having followed Kakashi’s gaze, Ebisu shakes his head in amusement before moving off to chat with Kurenai and Asuma.

As Naruto hands off her winter coat to a chuunin who takes it to another room being used as a coatroom, she turns when she senses someone fast approaching and smiles when she recognizes who it is.

Stepping up, Iruka pulls her into a hug. “You made it.”

Pulling back, Naruto rolls her eyes. “I told you guys I’d come.”

Reaching over, Kakashi ruffles her hair before taking his turn to hug her.

“Iruka was sure you changed your mind at the last minute.”

“I didn’t say that!” Iruka snaps, nailing him in the side with her elbow when he steps back from Naruto.

Naruto laughs at Kakashi wincing as he rubs the sore spot while glaring at his lover.

“Hey, I promised,” she shrugs, smiling at them in amusement.

“Well, c’mon, Tsunade-sama is over here,” Iruka replies, grabbing her arm and dragging her away as Kakashi follows sedately behind.

Naruto only intended to stay an hour, but is enjoying herself immensely two hours later. Observing from her current position by the food table, she’s glad to see Tsunade actually relaxing and enjoying herself, as if she doesn’t have a care in the world. Belatedly she realizes she can’t remember the last time she’s seen her beloved Baa-chan so relaxed. There’s been times she was sorry she convinced the blonde to become Hokage because of all the shit she had to put up with, especially because of her and her furry prisoner. It makes her appreciate her luck in having the blonde in her life.

Reminding herself tonight is a night of celebration, Naruto mentally shakes free of her musings. Looking around at the friends and comrades milling about, joking and laughing, she feels Iruka, Ebisu and Shizune did a great job organizing the party. It’s nice interacting and having fun with shinobi she had the honor of working with before, but never had the chance to be around socially.

“If you keep to the shadows, people are going to think you’re really a Nara,” Kakashi’s amused voice teases from behind.

Having sensed his presence before he spoke, Naruto rolls her eyes before looking over at him when he comes to stand next to her.

“Turned out pretty good, didn’t it?” he asks, sweeping his eye around the room.

“Yeah, Iruka, Ebisu and Shizune really did an awesome job,” she agrees, with a nod. Smirking at Konohamaru wobbling unsteadily by, she adds, “Looks like everyone is really enjoying themselves.”

“Some are fast approaching the two sheets out of three to the wind mark, aren’t they?’ he muses thoughtfully, watching Konohamaru with her. Looking sidelong at her, he asks, “Are you feeling uncomfortable? Is that why you’re over here?”

Blue eyes snap to him in surprise. His steady gaze watches as her eyes drift to the floor in thought.

“No,” she shakes her head absently. “No one’s giving me a reason to be anxious,” she admits softly, raising her eyes to his.

“So you don’t regret coming?” he prods.

“No, I’m glad I came,” she smiles softly. “I came over here to get some food and just got stuck here, thinking.”

Reaching out he ruffles her hair.

“Tonight is not for thinking, but for cutting loose,” he smiles at her.

Swatting his hand playfully away, she grins, “Okay, I’ll stop.”

Smiling at her, Kakashi nods in approval before wandering off to find his Iruka, leaving her to meander through to room.

It’s not long before she encounters Anko standing with her right hand fisted against her chin while her left crosses her stomach to support her elbow, scrutinizing Shikamaru resting his head on a table tucked away in a corner with his eyes closed.

“Hey, Anko, whatcha up to?” Naruto asks, joining the older kunoichi.

“I’m trying to decide if I should just stick to cellophane tape to reshape his features or toss in some black marker,” she replies, narrowing her eyes at her target.

“Um, Anko,” Naruto begins hesitantly. “Shikamaru’s not passed out drunk.”

“Yes he is,” Anko waves off dismissively with her right hand. Crossing her arms, she studies the Nara for a few more moments before nodding definitively. “He needs facial hair. Black marker it is.”

Naruto shakes her head at Anko creeping in closer to Shikamaru while pulling a roll of tape from her pocket. When she’s in range, her evil grin morphs into a shocked expression as she becomes perfectly still. Naruto isn’t the least bit surprised when Shikamaru straightens up with a smirk, showing everyone gathering around the amusing spectacle his hands formed into a sign. Naruto notices his shadow reaching under the table holding Anko.

Naruto grunts softly, staggering slightly as an arm drops heavily over her shoulders.

“Guess even under artificial lights, if it’s bright enough, the shadows are still useful to a Nara,” Kiba muses in her ear.

Turning her head to look at her friend hanging heavily off of her, she arches a brow.

“You didn’t notice that while hanging out together on our group night?” she asks incredulously. “He used his shadows at night in whatever bar we were in.”

“Yeah, well, I never really thought about it,” he grumbles in embarrassment.

Shikamaru’s voice captures their attention.

“Since you’re so eager for some fun, how about we head for the bathroom so you can stick your head into the toilet and give yourself a swirly?” he drolly asks.

“C’mon, Shikamaru, I wasn’t going to prank you that bad!” Anko pleads in horror.

“Reshaping my features with tape and black marker is better?”

He arches a brow at her as she gives him a flat look through an embarrassed flush. Shrugging, he rises to his feet and steps around the table, causing her to follow his movement.

“Alright! I promise not to target you for pranking again!” Anko cries desperately when he takes a few steps towards the nearest doorway.

Pausing to consider it, he nods and releases a relieved Anko.

“She could’ve just waited until they got to the hallway leading to the bathrooms, the lights are dimmer and she could’ve broken free,” Kiba comments in amusement.

He’s still hanging off Naruto as they watch Shikamaru settle back into his seat to resume his former position. She only gets as far as nodding when Anko grabs her arm and drags her off, causing Kiba to nearly fall over.

“Hey!” Kiba protests, but Anko ignored him and pulls Naruto through the crowd.

“C’mon! Let’s go where the boys are for some real fun,” she growls to the redhead.

Naruto doesn’t get a chance to protest as they cross the room to a table occupied by Mozuku, Shimon and Tonbo.

Noticing the two women first, Mozuku calls out, “Hey, Naruto!”

The other two men look in the direction he’s looking.

“Join us!” Shimon adds, rising to his feet to pull out his chair for her, pushing it in for her before settling into the seat to her right.

“Glad you came to the party, Naruto,” Tonbo smiles at her from his seat to her left.

“Me too,” Naruto grins back at the bandaged nin.

Placing her hands on her hips and glaring at the trio from where she stands at the end of the table, Anko snaps, “Hey! What about me?”

“We see you all the time,” Mozuku quips dismissively from his seat across from their sniggering comrades and Naruto.

Anko slams her fist on his head before snatching out the seat next to him as he clutches his head in pain and plops into the seat as the others start chatting with Naruto.

A half hour later their chatting has grown rather loud and argumentative.

Ibiki stops next to Inoichi standing a discreet distance away, unobtrusively watching Naruto wearing a comically confused expression while the others argue around her.

“You’re so full of shit, Anko!” Shimon hisses at her. “You can’t just focus on the skin. Not everyone flushes according to their mood, especially depending on their skin type. You have to note their breathing rate.”

“No, Shimon,” Mozuku argues. “You’ve got to watch their hands. Always gives them away.”

“Don’t listen to them, Naruto,” Tonbo warns her. “You’ve got to watch the eyes to tell what a person is truly thinking despite what they’re telling you.”

“Some people can look you right in the eyes and lie,” Anko argues at Tonbo. “They can keep their eyes and body perfectly still and give nothing away.”

“Maybe if they’re dead,” Mozuku snaps.

“What are they doing?” Ibiki asks Inoichi as they continue bickering.

“Trying to teach Naruto the finer points of interrogation,” Inoichi replies, amusement coloring his voice.

“Remind me never recommend any of them for instruction positions,” the scarred jounin drolly observes, causing the blond to chuckle. “Why aren’t you sitting with them? You know they’d pointlessly argue even with you there.”

“I wanted to observe Naruto without putting her on edge,” Inoichi explains. At Ibiki’s arched brow he continues. “It’s a relief seeing her relaxed among comrades outside her usual interactions in a setting that used to cause her crippling hyper alertness. She’s not expecting someone to drive a kunai in her back every second.”

“Your efforts helped get her this far,” Ibiki nods. “Using the others like you did to cultivate that wariness into a practical instinct helped, but also resulted in them adopting her as one of their own.”

“Thanks for making the exception so I could arrange spontaneous interactions between her and them during working hours,” the blond points out, looking at his friend. “They helped more than anyone else I could rope to help out. Because they’re in T&I, Anko and the guys are the most difficult to read. Eventually Naruto was able to react normally instead of the taut, high-strung tension that overwhelmed her at first.”

“Your request wasn’t hard to accommodate,” Ibiki shrugs. “Helps she wasn’t annoying or someone I disliked. Since the Chuunin exam, I always thought she was a ballsy brat who’d go far on sheer nerve.”

“C’mon, Naruto,” Anko’s voice captures their attention.

“Anko!” the redhead protests, trying to extricate her arm from Anko’s vice grip. “I don’t want to do a drinking contest, especially against Baa-chan. She’ll drink our asses under the table!”

“No she won’t and it’ll be fun!” Anko replies, dragging her along. “These guys are boring and I need a partner!”

“Hey!” Mozuku indignantly protests, rising to his feet to follow along with the others.

“She’s only claiming we’re boring because she’s wrong,” Tonbo chimes in as they walk off.

Ibiki glances at Inoichi who looks at him with an arched brow.

“A drinking contest with Tsunade,” the blond muses thoughtfully. “This should be interesting.”

“Indeed,” Ibiki nods.

Drifting behind they arrive just as Anko issues her challenge to Tsunade who’d been sitting at a table chatting with a couple of civilians and shinobi, including Shizune. The blonde arches a brow as a cunning smirk creeps across her lips.

“A drinking contest, eh?” Eyeing a smug looking Anko and Naruto shaking her head and rolling her eyes. “I accept,” she replies smugly. “Although, it’s almost not even worth the bother since it won’t be much of a contest.”

“My thoughts exactly,” Anko retorts. “So who will your partner be, Hokage-sama?” she goads.

Gold eyes drift over to Shizune who is also shaking her head at them before noting her master’s gaze.

“Absolutely not!” Shizune declares, crossing her arms while glaring at her mentor. “Someone has to make sure the party doesn’t get out of hand.”

“More like she has to stay sober to keep Tsunade-sama from getting out of hand,” Anko snickers not so quietly behind her hand to Naruto, causing Tsunade to glare at her.

Looking back at Shizune, Tsunade pleads, “C’mon, Shizune! We’ll win this long before we even get buzzed.”

Shizune merely arches a brow, her expression clearly stating she is not going to budge.

“Fine,” Tsunade huffs irritably, rising from her seat.

It takes only a few minutes to zero in on her partner; an evil smirk crosses her face as she watches him for a few moments.

“So there I was, surrounded on all sides by the enemy, I mean there had to be over a hundred,” Jiraiya declares emphatically to the small group of newly promoted chuunin kunoichi standing around him and listening in rapt attention. “The rest of my team were injured and I was on the verge of collapse. And to top it off, all I had left was a kunai, a brush and a few blank tags! So it was up to me to save Tsunade and ow!”

The kunoichi gape in surprise as the Toad Sage bends back at an extremely uncomfortable angle. Still tugging down hard on his ponytail, Tsunade steps into view by his side to smile cheerfully at them.

“None of it is true, now if you ladies will excuse us, I need this old pervert as my partner for a little contest.”

Turning on her heel, Tsunade drags a squawking Jiraiya back to the others.

“Ero-sennin?” Naruto sardonically asks the blonde.

“Stop calling me that in public!” Jiraiya snaps, straightening up since Tsunade just released him. “Now what the hell is going on?” he demands.

“A drinking contest,” Tsunade informs him before turning to Naruto. “And what do you care, brat? You’re still going to lose,” she confidently declares, sauntering through the partygoers excitedly gathering for the contest as she resumes her seat. “What are the rules anyway?”

“I’ll try to keep it simple for ya, Hokage-sama,” Anko answers, her voice condescending. Ignoring the blonde’s narrowed glare, she continues, “We take turns downing shots. The objective is out drink the other team. Last one still upright and conscious wins for their team.”

“Dropping a drink, passing out or hitting the floor is an automatic disqualification,” Tsunade adds.

“Agreed,” Anko nods. “Alright! Let’s set this up!”

Mozuku and Tonbo help her clear off the table while a couple of shinobi rush to get the sake and glasses.

“I bet five on Naruto!” Izumo declares.

“No way, it’s Tsunade,” Kotetsu replies, setting off a frenzy of wagering among the gathered crowd.

Naruto silently shakes her head at it all.

“Are you okay with doing this, Naruto?” Iruka asks worriedly, having come to stand next the redhead during the establishing of the contest rules.

Looking between Iruka and Kakashi standing just behind her, Naruto smiles mischievously.

“Don’t worry, nee-chan, I’ll be the one winning long before I get trashed.”

Iruka doesn’t get a chance to reply when Anko unceremoniously grabs Naruto’s arm and drags her to the table to get the contest underway. Tsunade kicks things off by grabbing a shot glass and knocking back the contents before setting the empty glass rim down on the table. Naruto’s next, scrunching up her face as the liquid burns going down. Smugly holding Tsunade’s gaze, Anko knocks back her glass, leaving Jiraiya to take his turn.

They continue through the second round when Naruto decides to take Jiraiya out the game. Eyeing the sannin, she attracts everyone’s attention by throwing her hands together in a sign and disappearing in a cloud of smoke, which quickly dissipates to reveal a heavily endowed, cascading haired, stunning platinum blonde in a slinky red negligee that leaves very little to the imagination.

Bug-eyed, drooling and panting heavily, Jiraiya gapes at the heavenly vision before him. The blonde winks and giggles, blowing kisses and wiggling her ‘assets’ at him, completely ignoring Tsunade’s irritated scowl.

Anko nearly falls off her seat laughing while the room echoes with an eager chorus of catcalls and wolf whistles. Naruto gleefully savors the goofy, dumbstruck look on Jiraiya’s face before going in for the kill.

Briefly obscured by another cloud of smoke, she emerges hunched over. Her skin is a motley array of numerous liver spots and wrinkles. The luxurious hair is thin and patchy. The brilliantly shining pearly whites of her smile are replaced by empty spaces punctuated by yellowed, rotting teeth. The final touch is how the sexy negligee lies listlessly against deflated boobs stretching towards her lap.

Jiraiya lets out a horrified, ear splitting scream like a little girl before falling off his chair into an awkward, twitching, frothing heap, much to Tsunade’s sadistic amusement. The room howls with mirth, catcalls, cheers and clapping as Naruto reemerges from her jutsu and stands up to bow to the crowd.

“Jiraiya’s going to wake up sober,” Kakashi observes to Iruka as the sannin is carried off to one of several sofas set aside in a far corner of the room for any passed out revelers.

Iruka merely nods, watching Naruto take her seat to resume the contest.

They get as far as the fifth round when Anko gradually leans over in her chair before hitting the floor in drunken oblivion. Sighing in resignation, Shimon steps out of the crowd, gesturing Tonbo and Mozuku to join him in carrying Anko over to the sofas. Leaving Tsunade and Naruto staring at each other in silent challenge as the empty shot glasses are cleared out.

It isn’t long before they resume their game again.

Two more glasses in, Naruto considers her options. To avoid getting drunk, she realizes she’s going to have to end the contest quickly, but it’s going to take a lot more than a variation of her sexy no jutsu to take down Tsunade.

“Hey, baa-chan,” she begins conversationally, setting down her empty glass and prompting a blonde brow to arch suspiciously. “I bet I know a blonde joke you’ve never heard before.”
Golden eyes narrow suspiciously. “I seriously doubt you know one I haven’t heard the variation of before, gaki,” she snorts dismissively.

“Betcha I do!” Naruto crows.

“Alright,” Tsunade drawls, leaning in closer to prop her chin on her fist. “What’s the wages?”

Naruto mimics the blonde’s position.

“If I win, Anko, Iruka and all of Team Kakashi, including Yamato, get next week off. No missions, no nothing.” She pauses to smirk at Tsunade’s irritated growl. “If I lose, I’ll do all your paperwork for a month.”

Tsunade’s eyes widen slightly in surprise before narrowing in scrutiny.

“That’s a pretty heavy bet, gaki. Are you sure you want to risk that much?” At Naruto’s determined nod the blonde smirks deviously. “Alright, it’s a bet. Get your writing hand ready, ‘cause I know you don’t have a blonde joke I haven’t heard before.”

Some of the partygoers clear a space for a grinning Naruto as she stands up and moves off to the side of the table to act out the joke.

“A blonde girl is walking along some railroad tracks when she comes across a brunette girl. The brunette is hopping sideways, back and forth from foot to foot over one of the rails, chanting, ‘88, 88, 88.’”

Naruto demonstrates by hopping from foot to foot while continuing.

“The blonde watches the brunette for a few minutes before finally asking ‘Whatcha doin’?’ The brunette stops and replies ‘Playin’ a game.’ The blonde continues watching the brunette resume hopping from foot to foot for a few more minutes before finally asking, ‘Can I play?’ The brunette stops and shrugs before moving out of the way.”

Naruto shrugs before moving off slightly then stepping back into position as the blonde.

“The blonde starts hopping from foot to foot saying, ‘88, 88, 88.’ Minutes later a train comes speeding around the bend, smacking into the blonde.”

Naruto pauses briefly to gleefully smacks one hand into the other before resuming her hopping.

“The brunette then steps back onto the track and starts hopping over the rail again, chanting, ‘89, 89, 89…’”

Tsunade roars with the rest of the crowd. She laughs so hard she slips off her seat onto the floor, making her automatically lose. Her shinobi laugh all the harder and those who bet on Naruto immediately start collecting their wages.

Still laughing, Naruto steps over and helps Shizune get a disgruntled Tsunade up off the floor.

“Sorry, Baa-chan,” she chuckles. “But I want you to enjoy your party a bit more before you pass out, so I decided to end our contest fast.”

“Does that mean I don’t have to pay up on our side bet?” Tsunade asks, hopefully.

“Nope. That’s next week off for us, Baa-chan,” Naruto chirps happily.

“Underhanded, sneaky, cheating tactics,” Tsunade grumbles under her breath while rubbing her backside before grudgingly settling back into her seat at the table.

“Naruto won fair and square according to rules you and Anko set,” Shizune chuckles in amusement as she hands her irritated mentor another glass of sake.

Deciding to move away from the amusing sight of her grousing baa-chan, Naruto walks slowly through the dispersing spectators who take turns congratulating her on her win before going back to the party.

A moment later Naruto is engulfed in a suffocating bear hug before being lifted off her feet and spun around. All she can see is a shaggy, silver mess.

“Thank you! Thank you!” Kakashi gushes in profuse enthusiasm. “You’re my favoritest student ever!”

“Put me down!” Naruto demands amidst her outraged squawking.

While Iruka laughs at them, Yamato and Sai join her, watching in amusement as Kakashi complies by setting Naruto down then promptly grabbing her in a headlock and ruffling her hair.

“Congratulations and thank you for getting us next week off, Naruto,” Yamato grins as she sullenly straightens out her hair after Kakashi finally releases her. “We were scheduled for patrols next week and there’s another storm expected to hit.”

“That’s partly why I made the bet,” she replies, finishing messing with her hair before leveling one more glare at a benignly smiling Kakashi. “And we all needed some time off,” she continues. “It was a good thing Anko dragged me into the contest. It was the perfect opportunity for the side bet.”

“Thanks for including me,” Iruka smiles.

“Had to. You needed the break too and if you were working while he was off,” Naruto jerks her thumb at Kakashi. “He would’ve been out of his mind with boredom and become a royal pain in the ass, especially towards me.”

Kakashi merely chuckles evilly and Sai merely smiles while Yamato and Iruka laugh outright. They continue chatting for a few minutes before Naruto notices Sakura quietly slip into the party. Both briefly lock gazes before Sakura focuses her attention on a fellow medic she knows.

“Time for me to go,” Naruto declares.

The others noticed Sakura arriving as well and tacitly agree with her.

“It’s getting late, I think we should head out too,” Iruka states, looking at Kakashi who nods in agreement.

“You guys don’t have to go,” Naruto rolls her eyes.

“No, but the party is past the point of being entertaining anymore because many are too drunk,” Kakashi reasons.

“Be careful going home,” Sai states, waving before wandering back into the party.

“Yes, be careful,” Yamato nods before pulling Iruka then Naruto into a hug. “Happy New Years and thank you again for the week off.

Naruto, Kakashi and Iruka return the sentiment before Iruka insists they make the rounds, saying goodbye to Tsunade and the others first.

After the entertaining drinking contest, Ibiki quietly chats with Inoichi for several minutes before deciding to call it a night. He checks with Tonbo and the others, confirming they’d ensure Anko makes it home safe before heading out of the party.

Once outside, he encounters Kakashi and Iruka arguing with Naruto in the frigid night air.

“Naruto, you’ve been drinking and it’s late. Why don’t you stay the night with us?” Iruka reasons.

“I’m fine,” Naruto insists, rolling her eyes. “I’m a little buzzed, but not drunk. And I’ve walked in on you two enough times for it to be mentally scarring. Like hell I want to do that again. I’m going back to my place.”

“You could learn a thing or two where it’s more beneficial than scarring,” Kakashi retorts, earning an elbow from Iruka and a grimace from Naruto.

Iruka sighs in exasperation. “If you’re not going with us, then let us walk you home.”

“You live in the opposite direction. You’ll be getting home really late if you guys walk me home,” Naruto reasons in an equally exasperated tone.

“I could just throw you over my shoulder and take you with us,” Kakashi offers cheerfully, this time earning an irritated glare from Naruto and a smirk from Iruka.

“Why don’t I walk Naruto home?” Ibiki offers before the annoyingly circular argument can continue. All three turn to gape at him, causing him to roll his eyes. “I live in the same direction, so I won’t be going out of my way. I drank very little tonight. Even if we run into any problems, I’m sober enough to handle them.”

“I don’t need a babysitter,” Naruto protests.

Iruka smiles brightly, saying, “Great idea, Ibiki-san. Thank you.”

Kakashi drapes his arm around Iruka’s shoulder, giving Ibiki a lazy wave as they walk away.

“Hey!” Naruto shouts after them.

“Goodnight, Naruto,” is the only reply Naruto gets from the pair.

Scowling, she crosses her arms and pouts. Noticing Ibiki’s brow arched in question, she explains, “I don’t like having things decided for me.”

“Don’t you like my company?” Ibiki needles.

“It’s not that!” Naruto protests. Seeing his teasing grin, she rolls her eyes again. “Never mind.”

Dropping her arms, Naruto sighs in resignation and starts heading home, knowing Ibiki is going to escort her whether she likes it or not.

The pair walks down the snow-covered streets in comfortable silence. Neither feels the need to say anything, simply enjoying the beauty surrounding them as their muffled footfalls echo through the brisk air. The last snowfall was relatively light and the streets have already been cleared of most of the snow. What is left presents a beautiful image of winter with snow accenting many objects and buildings or scattered in small snowdrifts along with icicles dangling from lampposts and overhangs. Looking up into the clear winter sky, Naruto marvels again at how numerous stars are on cold winter nights.

Ibiki’s chuckle draws her attention.

“Makes it harder to find certain constellations, doesn’t it?”

Naruto smiles, pulling her coat about her tighter before returning her gaze to the sky.

“I’m not much of a star gazer. Really lousy at finding anything besides the big and little dippers.”

“Stars are useful to navigate by when you don’t have a map,” Ibiki points out reasonably.

“True, but like you said, on nights like this it’s hard picking one constellation from another.” Turning to him with a grin she adds, “Besides, I’d rather keep my attention on the ground than up in the sky. You can’t touch stars.”

Returning her grin, Ibiki nods as they arrive at her apartment. Naruto still lives in the same place she has for years, located in the older part of the village near the Tower. Ibiki lives a little further on, closer to the outskirts of the residential area near the park.

As they climb the stairs to her floor, Naruto asks, “Want to join me for some tea before you go home?”

“No thanks,” Ibiki declines.

She sighs in annoyance.

“It’s cold and you still have a ways to walk. Might as well warm up with some tea. It’s the least I can do for you going through the needless trouble of escorting me home.”

“I wouldn’t say it was needless. Going through the trouble of making me tea is needless.”

Arching a brow, Naruto places her hands on her hips and taps out a quick rhythm with her shoe.

“I was going to make tea anyway to take some of the edge off this buzz. Or at least keep from getting dehydrated. So, get your ass in here, Ibiki.”

Ibiki arches a brow as a smirk spreads across his scarred face. “Yes ma’am.”

Stepping through the door, Naruto shuts it behind him. Ibiki helps her out of her coat before shrugging off his heavy winter coat. She hangs both on a nearby coat rack before gesturing for him to sit at the table.

Heading into the kitchenette, she starts making the tea as Ibiki glances around her apartment, noting any changes. He was familiar with her place since he’d been inside it a few times over the years when the Third summoned him to investigate all incidents involving Naruto. Physical attacks on Naruto were very rare, but vandalism occurred more frequently since certain villagers were under the mistaken impression the Third wouldn’t punish vandalism as severely as physical attacks or violations of his law. Eventually everyone got the message that any infraction against Naruto would be punished with equal severity.

However, when Tsunade took office it seemed the message was quickly forgotten. She followed her sensei’s example, swiftly demonstrating her intention to adhere to the established laws. For a brief period Ibiki’s workload increased as he was called in to handle the investigations. Each time Naruto was reluctant to prosecute the vandals, but still cooperated, making his job easier by pointing certain details she noticed that he might have missed or mentioning receiving any prior threats or any unusual encounters with anyone.

He thought he was another jaded, hardened shinobi of the Leaf, infamous for being a sadistic bastard with a penchant for mind games until Uzumaki Naruto showed up for her first chuunin exam.

Not only had the dead last of her graduating class managed to convince the remaining genin during his written test to chance the tenth question, she had the balls to not bother answering one question. Without knowing it, she called his bluff. She made him realize he hadn’t seen it all and renewed his faith in the next generation of Leaf shinobi.

Plus, he respected her for the job she was forced to undertake as a baby and it upset him to witness numerous villagers disrespecting her. However, his respect grew at how well she weathered the treatment and still strove to gain their acknowledgement.

Naruto’s apartment hasn’t changed much since the last vandalism occurred after Sasuke’s defection. Tensions were running high and a few misguided civilians wished to teach her a lesson for driving him away. Wanting to set their anger in the right direction, toward Sasuke, Ibiki took particular sadistic pleasure emphasizing the strict ‘hands off’ policy regarding Naruto. Since then, he was happy he had no official reason to return to her apartment.

It amazes him how spartan her home is, yet still feels warm and comfortable. His eyes aren’t bored as they wander. Numerous plants are scattered about, showing they’re still her hobby and there are an eclectic mix of knickknacks displayed on different shelves, in the corners or mounted on the walls. One of the more unusual items is a pair of rowing oars intricately carved with Wave Country motifs hanging on one wall, complimenting the decorative snowshoes hanging on another painted with glyphs indigenous to Snow Country. Ibiki didn’t consider Naruto the type for buying souvenirs and had a feeling most of these items were gifts.

Naruto interrupts his thoughts by setting a tea tray on the center of the table with an assortment of loose teas in small serving bowls along with a large plate with almond cookies, sugar cookies and crunchy rice cakes. In front of Ibiki she sets out a small, red glazed teapot with a matching teacup. Lifting the lid, he adds a blend of teas to the delicate wire basket infuser nestled in the lip while Naruto prepares her blend in a matching yellow teapot. Soon the metal teapot on the stove whistles. Stepping over, she uses an oven mitt to retrieve the pot, returning to the table to fill both ceramic teapots with water. After returning the pot to the stove, she settles in her seat across from Ibiki and both begin munching on the sweets as they wait in companionable silence for their blends to steep.

After polishing off her almond cookie, Naruto breaks the silence first.

“Thanks for easing Iruka and Kakashi’s minds by walking me home. If you hadn’t offered, we’d still be outside freezing our asses off arguing about it.”

“Both sides had a point,” Ibiki replies, wiping the crumbs off his face with a napkin. “They’d be going out of their way to walk you home and since people tend to overindulge during New Years, they just wanted to make sure you made it home okay”

Rolling her eyes Naruto reaches for her teapot to pour out the steaming brew into her cup.

“They’ve both turned into a pair of overgrown mother hens. I’m twenty-three, not thirteen, and a kunoichi. I kinda can take care of myself, y’know.”

Shrugging he pours out his tea into his cup.

“They’re just erring on the side of caution.” He smirks as he sets the ceramic teapot back onto the table. “Perhaps if you got yourself a boyfriend to walk you home from official and social functions they wouldn’t worry so much.”

“As if that’s gonna happen in my lifetime,” the redhead snorts as she snags a rice cake and bites noisily into it.

“That’s not a very optimistic attitude,” Ibiki comments dryly.

“Contrary to popular belief, I’m not a very optimistic person. I’m realistic and determined, not optimistic,” she retorts pithily, wiping sticky rice crumbs off her chin. “Getting a boyfriend anytime soon is as likely as Orochimaru walking through the main gates and surrendering with a heartfelt apology.”

“Why would you say that?” He frowns at her in confusion.

Naruto stares at him incredulous for a moment.

“’Cause I’m not exactly a prize catch by any man’s standards.”

Considering her words, Ibiki sips his tea, enjoying the flavor and aroma while mentally noting Naruto likes to use the good stuff.

“I don’t understand how you can claim that. You possess several qualities many men would find attractive.” At an arched red brow he rolls his eyes and set his cup down. “You’re beautiful in face and body. You’re strong, compassionate, intelligent, fun loving, adventurous, bold and loud. Any one of those traits many would either find attractive or consider flaws. You offer plenty to catch any man’s eye.”

Naruto blushes slightly at his praise before glaring at the jounin for the ‘flaws’ comment.

“Yeah, but you’re forgetting one tiny little detail.” She sips at her tea before answering his questioning gaze. “My furry, demonic tenant. Y’know, the one with nine tails who enjoys a good rampage now and then. That alone pretty much kills any relationship before it begins.”

“Considering the Third’s law kept your generation in the dark, surely there’s no way any man your age would know about it.”

“The Old Man’s law stopped people from talking about it, but it didn’t stop their reactions. A negative attitude went a long way toward discouraging others from getting to know me. And some have been smart enough to put two and two together.” Naruto takes another sip of tea before frowning. “And why are we talking about my sex life? You’re one to talk. Don’t you think it’s past time you got a girlfriend?”

It’s Ibiki’s turn to stare at her incredulously.

“We’re not really discussing your sex life. I could care less about it. As for whether I have a girlfriend or not, that’s none of your business.”

“I don’t care about your sex life either,” she retorts with a lidded glare, “But your work keeps you here in the village most of the time. It’s not like you can’t date or anything. I’m surprised you haven’t married and started cranking out the sadistic torture specialists of the future.”

As soon as the words left her mouth, she can’t resist busting out laughing at the mental image of mini-Ibikis running around in long, black trench coats.

Tilting his head forward slightly to glare at the now chuckling redhead, he then rolls his eyes and takes another sip of tea.

“You know as well as I do looks are just as important to women as they are to men. My scars make many look away quickly and walk as fast as they can out of the area. Also, heading T&I tends to be off-putting.”

Naruto blinks at him a few times before pushing her chair back, walking around the table and unceremoniously plopping herself to sit sideways in his lap.

Unable to hide his surprise, Ibiki dryly asks, “Are you comfortable?”

“Actually, yes.”

“Why are you invading my personal space?”

“Because if I stand to lean over to get into your face I’ll probably end up on the floor. I see only one of you and am focusing well enough to do things, but my head still feels fuzzy and light. I doubt I could keep my balance leaning over.” Naruto pauses to frown in confusion. “Now what was the point I was trying to make?”

“I don’t know. I was too busy being irritated at the blatant invasion of my personal space.”

“Shut up and let me think.” Naruto wiggles to get more comfortable in his lap.

She rests her right hand on his shoulder, leaning her elbow against him as she taps her left forefinger against her chin in thought.

“Oh yeah, I remember!” Completely ignoring his irritated scowl, she wags her finger in his face. “A real woman would realize what a catch you are. Maybe the scars are a little scary, but if they have half a brain and talk to you long enough, they’d realize you’ve got a lot to offer. Most are looking for strong protectors who are intelligent and caring. The caring part isn’t obvious, but any idiot can see how caring you are of your subordinates. You demand nothing but their best, but you don’t let them unnecessarily kill themselves for the job.”

Stunned, Ibiki stares at her before arching a brow.

“Not everyone is as observant as you, but that doesn’t disprove the fact women in general do not find scars that attractive. Especially mine.”

Naruto studies his face for a few moments, gently tracing the slash marks.

“These may not be aesthetically pleasing, but they show you’re a survivor. And getting a survivor is the best man to get, especially in a shinobi, because they’re more likely to fight hard to come back alive. Besides,” she pauses as a smirk spreads across her face, “your scars don’t necessarily advertise you’re in T&I like mine advertise I’m a Jinchuriki.”

“What do you mean, ‘like yours?’ You don’t have visible scars,” Ibiki frowns slightly in confusion.

Smiling softly, Naruto gestures at her cheeks. “These aren’t birthmarks. They’re scars.”

Ibiki stares at her, stunned.

“Think about it, no other Jinchuriki has these. Just me.” Watching the realization dawn in his eyes, Naruto sighs softly before continuing. “Very few know about the very first assassination attempt on me. It made the Old Man very harsh with his punishments and strict about who got to be around me afterward. I was about four and don’t remember much, but Jiji went to a meeting while he was watching me and had an ANBU baby sit me. Apparently the guy hadn’t been paying attention when he took his oath and decided killing me was a good idea. So he tried carving me up first, marking me as the demon.”

Naruto’s expression grows distant as she absentmindedly continues gently stroking Ibiki’s cheek.

“I remember he sat on me to pin me down. I like to think he put a silence jutsu on the room because it hurts to think my screams were ignored.” Her gaze briefly drifts off to the side before shaking her head and continuing. “Anyways, he took his kunai and sliced into my cheek, going deeper each time. When he got to my other cheek, he actually pierced into my mouth on like the second or third whisker. I remember feeling and hearing the metal hitting my teeth.”

Naruto drifts off for a moment, lost in thought.

“Still hate that sound, like nails on a chalkboard. Sometimes something metal clanging against ceramic sounds just like that.” She unconsciously shudders at the memory. “Anyway, he just finished the last mark and was admiring his work when Jiji found us. Everything’s blurred afterward, but I’m pretty sure the guy didn’t live much longer. Never really bothered looking the incident up, so I don’t know what happened, but since the fox hadn’t awakened and the cuts weren’t life threatening, I healed with scars. Jiji classified the incident, so it wasn’t like I could really correct anyone they weren’t birthmarks,” she finishes nonchalantly with a shrug.

Ibiki studies the redhead perched comfortably in his lap, his irritation forgotten as he digests her story. Finally, he shakes his head in disbelief.

“I don’t know how you do it. How the hell you’re able to keep from slaughtering everyone in sight after all the shit you’ve had to endure. And you do it without sliding into self-pity.”

Naruto locks her gaze onto his before reluctantly admitting, “I’d be lying if I said it never bothers me. But self-pity doesn’t change anyone’s opinion and killing only confirms the belief I’m a monster. I’m not. But I know others had it worse, so I can’t complain. I’ve worked hard to prove people wrong about me, but that doesn’t make them comfortable enough to date me. And I’ve also got to think about how that’d affect any guy I do date because some would think I corrupted or tainted them somehow. Now with all that in mind, how do you think folks will react if I have kids?”

“Now you’re over thinking things. Certainly your children would be in danger from your enemies, but no one would believe they were tainted by the demon.”

“Yeah, right,” Naruto scoffs. “Okay, then can you name one Jinchuriki, current or in the past, that you know ever had kids?”

Ibiki considers it before shaking his head.

“I can’t think of one. Although, that doesn’t mean there haven’t been any.”

“Okay, there may be one in the past who had kids, but you gotta admit, it paints a grim picture. Jinchuriki’s aren’t known to have families, probably because they don’t live long enough for it. I may be old enough, but it’s very unlikely I’ll have my own family. Even if I manage it somehow, someone is gonna have a big problem with it and do something about it. That’s completely ignoring any enemies that may target my kids. So, don’t ya think it’s a bit selfish to subject an innocent kid to all that?”

“I never thought you were the type to back down from a challenge to go after what you wanted,” Ibiki retorts dryly.

Glaring daggers, Naruto snaps, “Has anyone ever told you, you’re a real ass sometimes?”

“Anko. Everyday,” Ibiki quips. Becoming serious again, he reaches up and gently combs his fingers through her hair. “If you want something bad enough, you’ll fight with everything you’ve got to protect it. It’s hard, but worth it. You shouldn’t rule out the possibility without giving it a shot.”

“I guess you’re right,” Naruto sighs softly, closing her eyes when his fingertips start gently massaging her scalp.

Surprising himself, Ibiki leans in to press a gentle kiss to her whiskered cheek, causing her eyes to snap open in surprise.

“I am. I’ve seen how hard it is for shinobi to have families. There’s always that threat of death looming in the background, but every last one of them said it was worth the effort. You shouldn’t close yourself completely off from the idea.”

Naruto searches his gaze before surprising him by leaning in to gently kiss his lips. Straightening up she smirks slightly.

“Thanks for the ego boost. I still think some of it might be a load of shit, but I did need to hear that.”

“I either withhold information or just tell the truth. It’s not in my nature to bullshit,” the jounin smirks back while still tangling his fingers in her hair.

He feels decidedly relaxed and content with her sitting in his lap. Her touches warm and inviting and kissing her sparks throughout his nerves. Curious to see how a longer kiss will feel, he leans in and presses his mouth against hers, keeping it achingly slow and tender, burying his fingers deeper in her hair.

Naruto didn’t have time to be surprised. Overwhelmed by the sensations surging through her, her eyes slide shut as she sighs softly into the kiss and unwittingly opens her mouth slightly as they both adjust the angle of their heads, giving Ibiki the chance to delve gently into her mouth. As she eagerly returns the kiss, he unconsciously presses her body closer. He wraps his left arm across her lower back to gently grasp her hip while his right hand remains buried in her hair. In response, she slides her arms around his neck, effectively eliminating all free space between them.

They remain like that for several minutes as the kiss grows more heated and passionate. Finally, they break for air; their soft, panting breaths disturbing the silence as they hold each other.

Ibiki enjoys the feel of her breasts heaving against his chest as he continues gently massaging her scalp. He notices her eyes deepen in depth with desire and finds his resolve to leave before things get further out of control weakening.

Reluctantly, he breaks the silence first.

“I should probably go home if you don’t want this to go further because I honestly can’t guarantee I can stop myself.”

Closing her eyes briefly with a soft sigh, she opens them again as she lazily fingers the edge of his hitai-ate.

“I don’t really want you to go, but I’m not sure how I’d react. I’m not a virgin, but not all my experiences have been that great,” she admits reluctantly, blushing as she looks away in shame.

Ibiki quietly regards her before attempting to assuage her fears.

“Intercourse isn’t restricted to regular penetration. There are other, less intimidating methods of pleasure.”

As Naruto considers his words, Ibiki knows he should probably insist on leaving. Despite their conversation, one point neither made since it went without saying is they’re both too focused on their careers. Neither has room in their lives for a relationship. Although what happens between them now isn’t likely to continue beyond tonight, he’s certain she’s like him and doesn’t fall into bed easily, so he really should go home before they do something they’ll regret in the morning. Unfortunately, he really wants to stay. His libido is running wild and he can’t bring himself to force her off his lap and walk out the door.

Naruto struggles with her thoughts. This is different than anything she has experienced before and can only describe the feeling as throwing open all the windows and letting the fresh air into a stuffy house. Neither is drunk. She’s buzzed, but that has eased up. So she can’t blame the situation on the alcohol. That means there’s an attraction neither bothered to acknowledge before. Even if they only have tonight, she’s sure it’d mean more than a one-night stand. They’re both adults who respect one another, so why not?

With a mischievous glint in her eyes and smirking slightly, Naruto gazes deeply into his eyes.

“Is that a challenge?”

Blinking at her in surprise, Ibiki recovers quickly by answering with a smirk of his own. With his fingers still buried in her hair, he draws her closer where their mouths are tantalizing close.

“It can be. The question is, do you want it to be?”

Naruto’s only answer is to clamp down on his lower lip, gently biting it before vigorously latching onto his mouth.

Both are completely immersed in the kiss as it fluctuates wildly between tender and passionate. Ibiki’s hand slides up from her hip under her cashmere sweater to gently straighten out her torso, so only her head is angled toward him. Reaching around further, he feels her stomach tremble when he splays his palm over her navel and lightly drags his nails across her bare skin. Naruto groans into his mouth when he begins gently rimming and probing her belly button with his index finger.

When she tries undoing the buttons of his shirt, he reaches up and gently pulls her left hand away.

Breaking the kiss, Ibiki cocks his head slightly, humor shining in his eyes as he scolds her, “None of that. I’m making a point.”

With her right arm still draped around his neck, Naruto pulls back slightly and tilts her head down, her eyes asking ‘are you kidding?’ When she opens her mouth to protest, Ibiki lunges in to seize her lips. With nowhere else to comfortably put her free hand, she ends up resting it on one of his knees.

The hand on her belly lightly slides up her ribs to the underside of her breast. His thumb and forefinger alternately sweep the side of her bra or tease the exposed skin underneath her cup. The rest of his fingers fan out across her soft skin, causing her muscles to slightly twitch at each pass. He abandons her mouth to trail light kisses across her face, marking every feature before moving along her jaw line to her ear.

He takes his time exploring every nook and cranny of her ear with his tongue. His right hand drops from her hair to alight on her bosom, slowly unfastening each button of her sweater at the V-juncture of her cleavage. Abandoning her ear, he peers down at her lightly heaving chest as he pushes the lush, deep red material off to the sides. He can’t resist smirking when he notices the soft cotton bra hooked in the front, making things a lot easier. Sliding the hooks from each loop, he reverently reveals her firm breasts and takes a few minutes to admire the view.

Naruto catches her breath, watching Ibiki as he unwraps her with smooth tenderness and care. Her only thought is how talented his hands are and knows she made the right choice. She trusts him and hasn’t been disappointed. Her insides liquefy from the intensity of his gaze as he stares down at her exposed breasts. She wants him badly, but resists the urge to try rushing him because somewhere in the back of her mind she knows whatever he does will be worth the wait.

Her unconscious urgings are rewarded when his mouth suddenly clamps down on the nearest breast, eliciting a startled cry from her. Her right hand gently massages his neck as his lips and tongue work one breast and his right hand vigorously seizes the other. Naruto watches through dazed eyes as he bares his teeth to bite her nipple before tugging then soothing it with his tongue. Throwing her head back, she chokes back a groan as he caresses every centimeter of her ample mound with his tongue and lips before roughly suckling the nipple. It isn’t long before he resumes biting and tugging on her, starting the deliciously torturous cycle all over again.

His right hand doesn’t remain idle with her other breast, adding to her blissful misery. When his tongue is soothing, his hand is pinching, rolling and tugging hard. When he suckles, he lightly scrapes her flesh with his nails. When he bites, his touch strokes and kneads. Meanwhile his free hand is caressing her back under her sweater.

Ibiki knows Naruto is enjoying his ministrations immensely. He’s certain she isn’t aware of how vocal she is being with every sigh, grunt and soft moan. It’s erotic music to his ears. If that didn’t clue him in, the fact she’s twitching, undulating and writhing in his lap certainly does. However, he’s not done with her yet.

In one fluid movement, he straightens up to claim her mouth again with a deep, lingering kiss. While she’s distracted, his right hand slides down to her right leg. Holding it in place, his left snakes around and gently pulls her other leg away until it’s draped over his knees. He parted his lower legs enough to capture her ankle, effectively keeping her leg in place. She jerks and gasps into his mouth when his hands travel up the inside her thighs to disappear under her black, A-line skirt.

His fingers stroke up and down the hollows of her mound at the edge of her cotton panties before his left hand covers her, pressing gently against the damp spot as she throatily moans into his delving kiss. Curling his fingers, he traces the seam of her crotch with the intermediate knuckle of each finger before switching to his fingertips. His free hand kneads and caresses up and down her inner right thigh, occasionally pulling her leg back in place against him as she unconsciously tries closing her legs to his invading touches.

Finally breaking the kiss, he pushes the crotch of her high cut briefs aside to gently comb his fingers through her hair. Naruto blissfully sighs as she rests her head against his shoulder. Pressing her forehead into the crook of his neck, she watches him while tightly gripping her skirt with her left hand, holding it out of the way.

As one hand continues stroking and massaging her pubic area, his right sweeps in for more invasive work. Starting at the top of her crease, he presses his index and middle finger inside her outer lips, parting them slightly to slide down as far as he can go before dragging them back up after lightly clamping the slick middle folds between his fingers.

Naruto moans loudly and pants heavily while writhing in his lap, forcing Ibiki to keep a tight rein on himself as her reactions are driving him wild. He’s completely serious about making a point to her and would follow through.

She nearly leaps off his lap with a choked shriek when he locates her clitoris and plays with her. A roiling inferno builds deep inside and surges throughout her body. Her glazed eyes focus on nothing as she struggles through the overwhelming sensations.

She’s so overcome she almost didn’t notice when he slides his index and middle fingers inside. Her muscles automatically clutch and release him in a vice-like grip, pulling his fingers in deeper. Taking his time, he digs around, feeling along her walls, smirking when he finds what he’s searching for. His only confirmation being when she momentarily freezes as he firmly strokes and presses against her G-spot. Her heavy pants and moans continue wreaking havoc on his senses as he continues stroking inside while his thumb reaches up to play with her clitoris.

Naruto only lasts a couple more minutes before her body finally jerks and shudders in release, her arm tightening around his shoulders as she buries her face into his shirt to muffle her cries. When she relaxes enough to allow him to slide his fingers out without hurting her, Ibiki brings them up to his mouth to lick them clean, relishing the taste. He opens his legs to release her leg and helps her pull them back together before wrapping his arms around her, holding her close and caressing her body while she recovers.
Several minutes later, Ibiki breaks the silence.

“I probably should get going. It’s late and you need your rest.”

Naruto stirs in his arms, raising her head to glare at him with a cocked brow.

“I never thought you were the type to start something and not bother finishing it.”

“I made my point. I showed you another way to get pleasure,” he states with a confused frown.

“You did. But that seems to be just the opening act.”

She wiggles in his lap, rubbing against his proudly erect member, showing she can feel it against her butt.

Ibiki squeezes his eyes shut and groans while grabbing her hips to stop the torturous movement. Regaining his senses, he opens his eyes when he feels her gently stroking his face and sees her smiling softly.

“I know we probably won’t have more than tonight because we’re both busy and aren’t looking for relationships. But since you’re here we might as well enjoy it.”

“Are you sure?” he asks, reaching up to tangle his fingers in her thick, red locks.

“I wouldn’t have said it if I didn’t mean it,” Naruto smirks with a mischievous glint in her eyes.

Drawing her closer, he claims her mouth, losing himself for a few moments before breaking away. In one fluid movement, he reaches under her legs to cradle her in his arms before standing up and walking over to her bed. Once he sets her down on her feet, she promptly slides off her shirt and bra then removes her skirt and panties before sitting on the bed to watch him undress.

Once Ibiki sheds his clothing, Naruto stands and reaches up to undo the knot on the back of his hitai-ate. He flinches back and grabs her wrists to stop her.

She gazes deeply into his questioning eyes.

“If we’re going to do this, you have to be completely naked too. Keeping that on is cheating.” When he only stares at her incredulously, she sighs heavily. “It’s not like I haven’t seen those scars before. They’re a part of you and I want to see all of you.”

Considering it, he reaches up and slides the bandanna off, exposing his scars. Kissing her, he wraps one arm around her waist, easing her back onto the bed. He slides them both further toward the center of the mattress.

Without breaking the kiss, Naruto spreads her legs wide as he settles on top of her. He slightly opens his legs as she bends hers to wrap over his. Supporting his weight on his elbows, he snakes his forearms underneath her shoulders, burying his hands in her hair and lowering his body on top of hers.

Gently he nestles his crotch against hers, eliciting a soft moan that’s lost in his mouth. Angling her hips to rub up against him traps his penis between their bodies. His length slips between her outer folds, her flesh wrapping around and cuddling his shaft, causing him to groan at the heat and wetness. Desiring more friction between them, he rocks his hips, sliding his length slowly along her crease. The side of the crown repeatedly catches on her clitoris as it glides over, causing her body to tremble and nearly drives her out of her skin.

Deciding they both had enough, he pulls his mouth away as he lifts his body off to reach down and guide himself into position. Naruto unconsciously licks her lips as she watches his shaft disappear into her body with slow, deliciously torturous short thrusts. He went deeper each time until he’s completely inside with another soft groan. Settling himself on top of her again, he momentarily enjoys the wonderful sensation of being buried to the hilt as he kisses her slowly and deeply.

When she raises her legs higher to wrap around his waist, Ibiki bends his legs up, sliding his thighs and knees along the mattress to bump against her thighs and butt. Soon he’s moving slowly and deeply, gradually increasing speed.

With feathery touches Naruto caresses every centimeter of his body she can reach. Gently she traces knotted scars, lightly skimming over the small holes permanently etched into his skull. Admittedly, his scars scared her years ago, but she was just a kid and had barely survived one of the most nerve-wracking times of her life. She also bought into the stupid idea they were the good guys. Nothing bad ever happened to the good guys. That experience was one of her first wake-up calls. Now the scars merely represent a bad time in his life he survived. Souvenirs reminding him and anyone else of how strong he is.

Their mouths eventually break apart when the searing pressure builds up to the point they can’t maintain contact anymore. Through hazy eyes Naruto meets his fierce gaze as his movements become wilder and more demanding. Clutching his shoulders in a death grip, she vaguely wonders if he’ll drive her right through the mattress as the bed creaks loudly in a matching rhythm. Her insides quiver outward until her entire body trembles. Squeezing her eyes shut, she bites on her lower lip to choke back her cries of release.

Watching her ride out her second orgasm is too much for Ibiki and he bites her shoulder to stifle his own cry of release, causing Naruto to moan loudly from pain and bliss. Burying his face against her shoulder, he gradually slows as he steadily empties inside her before coming to a complete halt. Both remain still for several minutes, catching their breaths.

Pulling back, he gives her a brief kiss before disengaging to get up and go to the bathroom. Naruto slowly picks herself up, pulling back the covers on the bed before clearing up some of the tea things.

She just switched off the light to the kitchen area when Ibiki returns.

“Are you gonna stay the night?”

Pausing, he stands naked in the middle of her kitchen considering it. It’s probably a good idea to return home before tempting more trouble, but is reluctant to return to his cold, lonely apartment. Appreciating her still naked body, he isn’t opposed to spending the rest of the night with her and really likes the idea of waking up in the morning next to her.

“Depends, would you like me to stay?”

“Well, I’ve liked what we’ve done so far,” Naruto quips, her mouth quirking into a wry grin. “But considering things went a lot farther than either of us intended, it’s a good idea to talk about it in the morning,” she finishes seriously.

“Agreed. Besides,” a wicked glint lights up his eyes as he steps closer so he can draw her against him, “if we only have tonight, might as well make the most of it.”

Naruto’s smile is her only reply as she leads him by the hand over to the bed, proceeding to make love two more times before completely passing out from exhaustion.

Ibiki awakens first the next morning. Never being one to laze about in bed, he surprises himself by not getting up immediately and starting his day. Instead, he’s content to lay with Naruto’s body curled up against him playing with her hair. He isn’t sure why, but since last night he just can’t resist touching her hair. He supposes it has to do with the color. Red is rare in Konoha.

Finally his thoughts turn to the events of last night. Being honest, he readily admits he’s attracted to Naruto. It was probably first sparked during that first chuunin exam and he dismissed it as simply a piqued interest and amusement at her antics. However, last night happened so easily and subtly it’s clear their attraction was strong and has been growing for some time. He just isn’t sure where to take things from here. Much depends on what she wants to do. If she wants a relationship, he’s uncertain he can give her what she needs.

His reverie is broken by Naruto’s soft sigh as she raises her head a little to look at him with bleary, blue eyes.

“M’ornin,’” she mumbles, rubbing her eyes with one hand.


“If you want to, take a shower first. I’ll finish cleaning up the kitchen and take mine after you’re done. Then I’ll make us breakfast and we can talk,” Naruto suggests with a soft smile.

“Sounds good to me.”

It didn’t take long for each to shower and share breakfast. They enjoy a comfortable silence, neither feeling awkward around the other and don’t discuss anything until they’re lingering over coffee.

“Naruto, where do you want to go from here?” Ibiki asks, setting his coffee mug onto the table.

“Straight to the point like always, huh?” Naruto smirks. “Honestly? I don’t know,” she admits seriously. “I mean, it’s easy to say ‘let’s start dating!’ But we both know it’s not that simple. I guess it can be,” she shrugs. “But neither of us were looking for a relationship.” She pauses in thought before continuing. “There must’ve been something already between us or we wouldn’t have gone into it as easily as we did. You weren’t drunk. I was buzzed, but I knew exactly what I was doing. We could’ve stopped, but didn’t. So yeah, there had to have been something there.”

“Agreed,” Ibiki replies with a nod. “I know I probably ignored my own interest in you because of our age difference and the fact we’re hardly ever around each other. But now that we know, what do we do about it?” he asks, peering intensely at her.

Naruto sighs heavily before rubbing a hand across her eyes.

“I think it’s jumping head first into murky waters. It’s a huge change for the both of us.” Dropping her hand she locks gazes with him. “Ignoring everything we discussed last night for a minute, it’s just not a good time for me. Because of the shit I had to work through the last few years, I’m still playing catch up in a lot of ways. Plus, the Akatsuki started up again. We slowed them down by taking out a few, but that hasn’t stopped them. Ero-sennin says they’ve recovered enough to pick up where they left off. I’ve got to be ready.”

Looking away briefly, Naruto sighs again.

“So I only really have time for training and missions. It’s not fair to start dating and not have time for you. Plus, you’ll be in danger hooking up with me. I wouldn’t put it past the Akatsuki to target you to get to me since nothing else has worked so far. And, guaranteed, that‘ll work better than anything.”

Ibiki considers her words before nodding again in agreement.

“Although, I’m in the village most of the time, I often have to work long days. Even if I have plans, I frequently have to cancel them at the last minute. I don’t have a set schedule and what I do have is tentative at best.” Gathering his thoughts, he pauses to take another sip of his coffee. Setting his mug down again, he intensely meets her gaze. “I could walk away and avoid you, but I don’t want to.”

Naruto stares at him with a mixture of incredulity and confusion.

“Are you suggesting we try dating casually?”

“I’m not sure what to call it,” the jounin answers with a shrug. “I know we won’t be able to see each other on a regular basis. However, we both understand the other’s situation quite well, so it’s not as if we’d have unrealistic expectations. Besides, do you even want to try walking away completely?”

The redhead chews on her lower lip for a few minutes while she considers his point. Finally, she raises her eyes to meet his dark gaze.

“I actually don’t want to try because I don’t think I can stay away.” Sighing, she runs a hand through her damp hair before continuing. “If we do this, I want to keep this as low key as possible and I don’t want to be ‘friend’s with benefits.’ I won’t be a quick lay whenever you feel like it, just as I won’t do the same to you. It’s not okay for you to date other people. I won’t even if someone asks me, but if we don’t have time for each other, then we shouldn’t have time for others.”

“And you still think someone would date me even if I asked?” Ibiki smirks, quirking a brow.

“And did you ever think we’d have sex multiple times last night?” Naruto retorts, quirking her own brow in response.

“Good point,” he deadpans. “I’m willing to give it a try. I don’t have a problem keeping things low key. And I’m a selfish bastard who doesn’t like sharing either. We can see each other whenever we can manage. Maybe possibly meeting for lunch next week, for example, since you’re off.”

“I’d like that,” she smiles. “Just let me know when you’re available. Could even happen this week because my team’s homebound for security during New Years.” She pauses before her mouth quirks into a wicked grin. “Heh, I don’t envy Shizune today because Baa-chan’s gonna have one bitch of a headache.”

Ibiki groans, rubbing a hand across his eyes in frustration.

“Although I’m only going in for a bit today to check on things, Anko is scheduled to work tonight and it’s not going to be pretty.” Dropping his hand, he looks back up at Naruto. “If you think she’s scary sober, you should see how she is with a hangover.”

“And she got wasted last night?” Naruto asks in disbelief.

“She claims she can hold her liquor,” Ibiki shrugs. “I can’t tell her anything because she doesn’t do it often and still functions quite well with a hangover. She just turns into evil incarnate.”

Naruto can’t resist laughing as she shakes her head.

“I honestly don’t know who to feel more sorry for. Anko suffering through the mother of all hangovers or you having to deal with her like that.”

“Me,” he quips with a grin before another thought occurs to him. “Actually, would you like to go to dinner later? I can look for you once I escape Anko.”

Stunned, Naruto blinks for a moment before smiling.

“Sure. You’ll probably find me here. I’m going to clean and sharpen my weapons.”

“Aren’t you going to spend today with Iruka and Kakashi?” he asks in confusion.

“Let’s just say they’re probably going to spend today just as occupied as we were last night,” she drawls as he bursts into laughter. “I’d be lucky to catch sight of them sometime tomorrow. And in case you’re wondering, Sai’s probably gonna be off somewhere drawing and Yamato planned on sleeping the day away.”

Ibiki continues chuckling as he rises to his feet and she walks him to the door. After shrugging on his coat, he faces her and cups her face with both hands. Leaning in, he kisses her deeply. Reluctantly pulling back he stares into her eyes while caressing her cheeks with gloved hands.

“I don’t know where we’ll go from here or how long it’ll last. I can only promise you to do my best.”

Reaching up to gently grasp his wrists, Naruto smiles back warmly.

“Same for me. But I’m willing to give it a try as long as you are.”

Ibiki kisses her one more time before disappearing into the cold morning.

Kami-Japanese term meaning spirit, deity or god. In this case, I use it for god.

Sama- Japanese honorific suffix. Respectful term used for notable people of higher ranking than yourself. I think it’s also the English equivalent of ‘lord’ or ‘lady.’

Jiji-nickname version of Japanese honorific suffix. Naruto uses it to mean ‘Old man.’

Baa-chan-Japanese honorific suffix. ‘Baa’ means something close to grandmother or aunt and ‘chan’ is usually used for younger girls or women you’re close too. Here it fits in to Naruto calling Tsunade ‘granny’ in canon.

Nee-chan- Japanese honorific suffix. ‘Nee’ means big sister.

Gaki-There are several different meanings of this Japanese term, but it this case Tsunade is using it to mean ‘brat’ or ‘kid.’

A/N: Thank you for taking the time to read. Please feel free to leave a review.

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