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Chapter 63: Chapter 45: A Sucker's Bet

Welp, another February has passed, and with it another birthday for me…and Tayuya. Heh, just another reason to like that vulgar badass red head that Kishimoto shouldn't have killed off.

RagingStar19: Hey bro…what are you doing? *stares at decorations that have been put up around the Ranger Lair*

LeafRanger: Oh I felt like celebrating a bit! This fanfic has now surpassed all my other ones in several categories, and has helped me reach new unofficial check marks! Everyone, Shinobi's Creed has passed the 2,500 review mark, making it easily my most reviewed fanfic so far! Not to mention I'm less then 25k views away from one million and over 3k faves and alerts each! Alright!

Diehard NaruHina LeafRanger: Wow, really?! This fanfic is that popular?!

Diehard LeafTayu LeafRanger: More like it's just that long. *deadpan stare*

LR: True, true. It's now my second longest fanfic with plenty more chapters intended in the future. But still, that's really awesome that so many people like my fanfic that much. Thanks to AvidReader2425 for posting the 2500th review! *confetti goes everywhere*

Raphael: This is most excellent news.

LR: Yes it is! So everyone, let's party! Oh, but first, replying to some reviews. First off, to anonymous reviewer Seth. Thanks for the review, and with regards to Tsunade being an Assassin, that might cause a conflict of interest since she's currently being considered to be Konoha's Godaime Hokage. We'll have to see, won't we? And to NJred2000, thank you also for your review. Glad you're really enjoying my fanfic. With regards to Raphael creating original jutsu, and even a jutsu version of Eagle Vision, well I'm not sure. I've been asked a lot about Eagle Vision, but I think it was a trait that was unique, biologically, to only some people in the world of Assassin's Creed. However, I could possibly have him work on a jutsu variant, if I can figure out how to make it work. It'd have to be similar to chakra sensing, but fine tuned to detect more than just chakra or Killer Intent.

Elroth: Sadly though, things aren't all fun and games today, is it? *Hands over another review*

LR: Indeed. I got hit by another anonymous flamer, over on my Fox Knight fanfic, the second one I ever wrote. They'll probably never see this reply, but I still like calling them out on it. To anonymous guest, if you managed to pull your head out of your ass, you would probably remember that fanfiction is where you write stuff you want to happen in a series. You'd also maybe know that Naruto, canonically, became Hokage. Which means he had to be promoted at some point beyond genin, meaning that no, canonically he did not stay the same rank as Sasuke. Also, I love how apparently you believe Sakura is so amazing and worthy that my pairing her up with Lee must mean he's a 'fugly self insert'. He is not, you cowardly piece of trash. I depicted Rock Lee as close to what I had seen in canon at that point, and I paired him up with Sakura because, and here is a shocker, I like that pairing. I'm sorry that apparently hurts your sensibilities, but maybe if you grew a pair and didn't get so easily offended it wouldn't be a problem. Then again, that would mean you'd have enough courage to actually contact me instead of hiding behind anonymity. People can write what pairings they want, and like what pairings they want, so long as they're not a-holes about it. I know this shatters your world view of how only what you think is the absolute right and truth, but tough crap. Grow up already. And this goes for every other flamer out there as well.

Arashen: Wow, I don't think I've seen you this harsh before. *stares in amazement*

LR: Yeah well spending enough time reading the comments on YouTube and dealing with people like this have left me with a major distaste for flamers and trolls. Anyways, let's get this party started! *Music starts blasting as the party in the Ranger Lair begins*

As an addendum, I really hope everyone is okay, what with the crazy virus and everything connected to it. Here's hoping you all stay healthy and safe!

Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto or Assassin's Creed. They are the property of Masashi Kishimoto and Ubisoft respectively. This is a non-profit work of fan made fiction. Please support the official releases.

Chapter 45

A Sucker's Bet

Tsunade let out a soft groan, holding her head as she sat in the room she and Shizune were renting, a cup of tea in front of her as well as a cup containing her homemade hangover remedy. She slowly sipped some of the tea before downing the concoction, shuddering and quickly drinking more tea to get rid of the taste. As she set down the cup, Shizune entered the room with some breakfast. The blonde sannin winced at the sound of the door opening and closing. "Please, not so loud," she muttered quietly, holding her head.

Shizune sighed, having barely made any noise when closing the door, but still nodded. "Of course, forgive me Tsunade-sama," she said quietly, placing the food in front of Tsunade while watching the older woman. The previous night, after basically being defeated by Naruto, Tsunade had gone on a rage drinking binge to try and calm down. The woman had gotten so blindingly drunk that Shizune had been forced to carry her back to their room.

As Tsunade sat there, letting her hangover remedy work, Shizune sat next to her and quietly started to eat her own breakfast. When Tsunade finally began to eat, the raven haired assistant spoke up. "How are you feeling, Tsunade-sama?" She asked.

"Well, I don't feel like my head is a volcano. Now it just feels like I went ten rounds with Mito baa-san," Tsunade mumbled to herself, eating some more food. "I can barely even remember what happened last night…something about Jiraiya?"

"Yes Tsunade-sama. Jiraiya-sama and a genin from Konoha arrived here, looking for you," Shizune said cautiously, as Tsunade blinked, frowning. She mentally tried to pierce through the hangover induced shroud covering her memories of the previous night before her eyes widened and she growled angrily, only to wince as it caused her head to throb.

"That little shit," she muttered, holding her head again. "Who the hell does he think he is? This time I'm going to beat the crap out of him, then heal him up just so I can do it again."

Shizune frowned at Tsunade's words. "Tsunade-sama, don't we have more pressing things to worry about? What about Hokage-sama's order?" She asked her.

Tsunade glowered at that, staring down at her food. She knew she didn't have much of a choice. If Sarutobi froze the Senju accounts, she'd never be able to stave off the more persistent and skilled of her debt collectors. And it wouldn't be just herself she'd be putting at risk; it'd be Shizune as well. Something she didn't want to do at all.

And yet she had no desire to return to Konoha. As she quietly clutched at the necklace around her neck, she couldn't help but shudder in remembrance of the other two people who had once worn it. Closing her eyes she took a deep breath before speaking. "I will talk to Jiraiya," she said. Perhaps she could reason with him, find a way to wiggle out of this. If not, then she'd drain the Senju accounts before they could tell Sarutobi, leaving her in the clear.

"And what about Orochimaru?" Shizune asked, causing Tsunade to stiffen. The blonde sannin looked out the window for a moment, before sighing.

"If need be, we'll make a run for it. I do not doubt that the bastard will try to kill us if I don't agree to work for him, which I really have no intention of doing," she said, continuing to look out the window.

Shizune bit her lip at that. "We'll be making a lot of enemies if you do this, Tsunade-sama," she said quietly.

"I know…but I'm not going to be used by my teammate, and I'm not going back to that village. There's nothing but bad memories back there," Tsunade said with finality in her tone, before she went back to eating. Her assistant quietly watched her, before shaking her head slightly and focusing on her food as well.

Elsewhere, on the edge of town, Naruto was watching a clone work on compressing the chakra he was rotating in the palm of his hand, creating a Rasengan. Around him there were a few other clones split up into pairs, each of them creating a Rasengan as well. The blonde genin was attempting to utilize the memory transference of the shadow clones in order to get a feel for properly creating and maintaining the jutsu, rather than relying on a clone to help him create it. As each clone finished making one they'd let it dissipate before switching, so each of them got the experience of both sides of creating it.

Nearby, Jiraiya watched him work, shaking his head in amazement. "Gaki, you really surprise me sometimes," he said. "You realize that with your chakra reserves you literally could learn anything you wanted to in a matter of days thanks to those clones?" He asked.

Naruto chuckled softly as he released his Rasengan. "Sure, but the headaches afterwards are a bitch," he countered. "I tried using mass clones to learn a few things once, and I was literally knocked unconscious as soon as I started dispersing the clones. Anko-sensei told me to try and limit how many of them I use for learning."

Jiraiya nodded as he looked at the trio of clones busy studying sealing techniques near him. "Still, if more shinobi had your chakra reserves, learning techniques and jutsu would be a breeze," he said.

"Except that would simply mean a lot more ninja of your caliber or better fighting each other, wouldn't it?" Naruto asked him quietly. "Which would just make wars even bigger and more dangerous to everyone around them."

The aged sannin blinked at that. "I suppose that's true," he admitted, looking off in the distance.

After a few minutes of silence between them, punctuated only by the sounds of Naruto's training, Jiraiya finally spoke up. "Your clones are watching Tsunade, right?" He asked him.

Naruto nodded at that, now working on compressing the swirling ball of chakra in his clone's hand as said clone created it. Earlier in the day Jiraiya had requested Naruto keep at least two clones on Tsunade and her apprentice to make sure they didn't try to escape. Jiraiya didn't expect the clones to remain completely undetected, but he still wanted to see how good Naruto's stealth skills were, which was why he had his own shadow clone watching as well.

"Do you think she'll run?" Naruto asked Jiraiya, who let out a sigh.

"I want to say no…but a part of me thinks she has grown too cynical and angry with Konoha. Even with the threat of losing the Senju accounts, she'll try to weasel out of this somehow," he said, disappointment evident in his tone.

Naruto looked at Jiraiya. "I know you said it wasn't your place to tell me why she hates Konoha but…it honestly might help me to understand her motivations better," he reasoned, with Jiraiya looking uncomfortable.

"I…don't know, Naruto. That's honestly really personal to her," Jiraiya said, his tone hesitant, before he slightly relented. "Look, all I will tell you is that she lost people who meant a lot to her. She left the village because she wasn't interested in seeing anyone else she cares about die."

Naruto frowned at that. "…but that doesn't explain why she'd be so set against the position of Hokage," he said, thinking about it, only to blink. "…she's against the position of Hokage. She's not angry at the people who have been Hokage…does it-," he started to say, only for Jiraiya to wave a hand.

"Drop it kid. I'm not going to say anything more, and the only way you'll get an answer is from Tsunade," he said, causing Naruto to sigh.

"Fine then," Naruto said, turning back to his training as Jiraiya let out a soft breath, glad to end that subject. He didn't want to explain to Naruto what happened, as he was certain Tsunade would kill him for revealing something so personal. He probably shouldn't have said what he had revealed thus far. Shaking his head he went back to watching Naruto train.

Elsewhere in the village, the blue haired kunoichi Guren slipped quietly into a room before quickly dropping to one knee and bowing her head. "Orochimaru-sama, I have finished my reconnaissance," she said quietly, staring at the floor as she waited for permission to continue.

Orochimaru, who had been sitting in a chair, smiled at her. "Speak then, Guren-chan. Tell me what you have found out," he said quietly.

"The two Konoha shinobi are still here, and currently are training on the outskirts of the village. The target and her companion were in their hotel room, but have since left to indulge in childish activities. I believe that one of the Konoha shinobi is utilizing a clone jutsu to monitor her, as I believe I saw someone tailing the pair as they left," Guren reported.

Orochimaru nodded at that. "So long as they are still here and not working together, then all is well. For the moment," he said quietly. "I want you to continue to watch them, Guren-chan. The instant that they seem to be working together, inform me immediately. We'll need to move swiftly if that becomes the case. Though given what you saw last night, I would think such a scenario is unlikely," he said with a smirk.

Guren nodded as she kept her head down, before opening her mouth. "May I speak, Orochimaru-sama?" She asked.

"You may, my dear," he said, causing Guren to raise her head.

"Please, let me kill the blonde genin who accompanies Jiraiya. While I know he is no danger to you, he is obviously cunning and skilled, if his demonstration against the target was an indication. If I remove him now-," she started to say, only for Orochimaru to shake his head.

"No my dear. While I'm certain you could handle him, we do not want to give away our presence here to Jiraiya. So far Tsunade-chan has not seen fit to warn him about our presence, and we shall keep it that way. Do not worry. I am certain that by the end of the week, Tsunade-chan will realize just how beneficial working for me will be. She might even be willing to help us in ridding the world of Jiraiya and his student," he said with a smirk.

Guren bowed her head deeper. "Of course Orochimaru-sama. Forgive my impudence," she said quickly.

"There is nothing to forgive, Guren-chan. You simply wish to serve me to the best of your ability. I appreciate such dedication," he said, before waving a hand. "You are dismissed."

Guren nodded as she quickly stood and made her way out of the room to continue her duties, leaving Orochimaru alone to plan out his moves. Despite his confidence, he knew there was the potential for things to go awry. And so he needed to be ready, to ensure that should his plans fail, he'd have contingencies. Ideally he could call upon more shinobi to aid him, but at the moment his forces were still regrouping from the aftermath of the failed invasion and he needed to keep the Sound Four in Oto to maintain order and control. So he would need to rely on himself and Guren for now. He smiled, already planning out his moves, confident that he could handle what might come.

Konoha Hospital

Anko let out a frustrated groan as she lay in the hospital bed, trying not to think about the itching sensation under her arm cast. "How much longer are they going to make us wear these damn things?" She muttered, looking to Raphael.

Raphael just chuckled softly at that. "You're asking the wrong person," he said to her with a sympathetic smile.

Anko just let out a frustrated sigh, staring at the ceiling. "It's been over two weeks! They don't have some fancy medical jutsu to just stitch the muscle's back up?" She asked, just as the door opened.

The nurse who entered, carrying platters of food, chuckled as she heard Anko's complaint. "Mitarashi-san, the doctors need to make sure that everything was properly healed. Rest assured you both will most likely be free of those casts in the next day or so, after which you can begin physical therapy to ensure your arms and other injuries have fully healed," she said, setting down Anko's food first, and then Raphael's.

"They better get these off fast. I have killer itches," Anko muttered as she looked forlornly at the food on her plate. No dango at all. She gave the nurse a pleading look but said nurse just shook her head, already knowing about the purple haired jounin's antics. Anko just let out a sigh as the nurse headed off, before she started to pick at her food. She paused, looking over at Raphael who was stoically digging into the healthy but otherwise bland hospital food.

Truth was, if it wasn't for Raphael she definitely would be going stir crazy at this point. His company helped keep her entertained, as did visits from Kiseki, Yugito, Kurenai, and others. They had heard about what happened with Itachi Uchiha, with Kiseki and Yugito conversing with them about it since they all knew the truth about Itachi's actions. Hearing what he had done to Sasuke had almost made Anko think he had been turned, if not for the information he had apparently left with the Sandaime and later Jiraiya.

She smiled a bit as she studied her boyfriend, before blushing slightly as she remembered a thought she had been having recently. Raphael had come to her aid during the fight, even throwing himself in harm's way to protect her, taking blows meant for her. And he had saved her by killing Kabuto when the traitor had her at his mercy. She had returned the favor, saving him as well, but still knowing that there was someone who was willing to do that for her had left her feeling very warm and happy inside. It had also led to her having some thoughts about their relationship. She bit her lip, eyes glazing over as her mind went back to an idea she had, something she was thinking about sharing with Raphael, to show her gratitude to him. She was drawn from her thoughts when Raphael spoke up.

"Anko-chan? You alright?" He asked her, causing her to shake her head, bringing herself back to reality.

"Yeah, just steeling myself for eating this…stuff," she said, indicating the food. Raphael just chuckled as Anko slowly began to eat, smiling to herself as she thought about her plans for when they were finally cleared by the hospital.

Elsewhere, Karin could only smile happily as she adjusted her new Konoha headband, making sure it was snug on her head as she approached the hospital. Sarutobi's negotiations with Kusa had been nearing their end when the invasion happened, and in the aftermath they had been put on hold. Kusa had tried to take advantage of Konoha's weakened state to gain more out of the negotiations, but Sarutobi had quickly reminded Kusa of his village's strength even after their losses, and so finally they had concluded the negotiations. Karin was allowed to remain in Konoha as a citizen of the village, while Kusa received both a monetary payment and copies of several medical techniques to compensate for the loss of her.

And now she had finally been processed as a kunoichi of Konoha, a genin who had been assigned to work at the hospital. Karin had been a bit worried when she heard that, thinking they were planning to utilize her chakra's unique ability, but she had been quickly reassured that she was going to the hospital to learn medical techniques, and to help them deal with the large influx of patients still recovering from the Invasion. She smiled, ready and eager to help her new home out.

As she entered the waiting room, she was surprised to see Sakura Haruno standing at the desk, speaking to the receptionist. "Sakura?" She asked as she joined her.

The pink haired kunoichi turned at the sound of her name, surprised to find herself looking at Karin, and more surprised to see the Konoha forehead protector she wore. "K-Karin? It's good to see you! What are you doing here?" She asked with a smile.

Karin smiled back at her. "I'm here to start my training as a medic nin," she said, only for Sakura to start a bit.

"Really? I was actually just inquiring about that. With Kakashi-sensei in the hospital, I was trying to find new ways to grow stronger while still helping out," Sakura admitted.

The receptionist, watching the two, smiled. "Karin-san, welcome. Your class is just down the hall here, fourth door on the right. And Sakura-san, since you've shown an interest, why don't you join her? We definitely can use all the help we can get here," she said.

Both of the genin kunoichi nodded and quickly started going down the hallway. "So you're part of Konoha now?" Sakura asked, causing Karin to nod with a smile.

"Yep! They finally got it all finalized. I'm officially a genin kunoichi of Konoha," Karin said happily. "I can't wait to tell Naruto when he gets back. It'll be nice to finally be able to walk around and do things in the village."

"That's right, you were being kept in that hotel this whole time, weren't you? You haven't even gotten a proper tour of the village yet?" Sakura asked her. Seeing Karin nod, she grew a bit shy. "Well…I-I can give you a tour, if you want. I mean, I'm sure someone like Ino or Kiba could do a better job, they seem to know all the fun places to hang out or go see," she admitted.

Karin just smiled at her. "I think I'd like that Sakura. You could invite Ino and we could make it a bit of a girl's day out?" She suggested.

Sakura nodded and smiled at that as the two reached the door and entered the room, to begin their training as medic-nin.

Tanzaku Quarters

It was well past noon by the time Naruto and Jiraiya returned from the outskirts, Naruto having finished his training for now. The duo were hoping to get a late lunch when they found themselves confronted by Tsunade with Shizune in tow, Tonton clutched in the latter's arms. Tsunade sent a brief glare at Naruto before looking at Jiraiya. "We need to talk," she said.

Jiraiya took a deep breath. "Yes, we do. Do you mind if we get some lunch or-?" He started to ask, only for her to shake her head.

"No, we need to talk now," she said.

The toad sannin let out a sigh before nodding, causing Tsunade to continue. "Jiraiya, you can't really expect me to willingly return to Konoha, can you?" She asked him. "That village has already cost me enough as is, and I'm not going to set foot back into it again."

"There are others who have lost just as much as you to the village, and they've stuck around. Sarutobi-sensei let you leave because he knew you needed to deal with things, but you still have an obligation to the village," Jiraiya countered. "Even if you don't intend to become Hokage, you can at least still help those shinobi in need, to prevent their families experiencing what you have."

Tsunade stiffened at that, her eyes narrowing. "They have more than enough doctors and medics. They don't need me," she said, only for Jiraiya to shake his head.

"And none of them are as skilled as you are. We need your expertise and knowledge," Jiraiya argued back. "You can help out dozens of people in need. Isn't that why you bothered learning medical ninjutsu in the first place?"

Tsunade just glared at him stubbornly. "I'm not going back," she said. "Konoha has done fine without me for the past several years, so they don't need me there now. I won't go back and be reminded of…I won't go back," she stated firmly, almost aggressively.

Jiraiya just looked at her, disappointment in his eyes. He opened his mouth to speak, only for Naruto to beat him to it. "I find it rather sad that the granddaughter of the village's founder would turn out to be a coward and a traitor," he said, immediately drawing Tsuande's gaze as Shizune and Jiraiya both winced.

"You must really have a death wish brat. You really want to try and take me on when I'm sober?" Tsunade challenged, only for Naruto to shrug.

"You're the one taking offense at the truth here. Your home village, that you swore allegiance to when you put on the Konoha forehead protector and became a shinobi, needs you now. It needs your help. And instead, you're refusing to help it out of fear of some memories. That makes you a coward and a traitor," Naruto said simply.

Tsunade immediately grabbed him by the collar of his robes, yanking him into the air. "SHUT THE HELL UP! YOU DON'T KNOW A DAMN THING ABOUT ME!" She shouted in his face.

Naruto recoiled a bit at her screaming, before looking at her. "You're right, I don't, because ero-sennin keeps dancing around the subject and refusing to tell me anything. But I've already seen enough drama queens to know a pity party when I see one," he said to her. "You want to wallow in your misery, acting like your pain and loss is the only one worth feeling sorry about in the world. You think that you deserve to act how you want, turning your back on everything else, because you suffered in your past. Get in line. There are a lot of other people out there who managed to move on instead of wallowing and demanding everyone respects their victimhood."

Tsunade growled, bringing up one fist as if she planned to punch him, before dropping him. "I won't fall for your mind games, brat," she snapped at him. "Don't you dare sit there and judge me when you don't know what I've been through."

"Let's see…I lost both my parents the day I was born, meaning I never got a chance to even know them at all," Naruto told her, glaring at her as he fixed his collar. "I spent six years of my life being hated, ignored, insulted, abused, and assaulted for something I had no control over, before somebody finally decided I was worth knowing and treating like an actual human being. I was nearly killed when I was nine years old, and was forced to make my first kill to protect myself." This instantly caused both Tsunade and Shizune's eyes to widen in surprise, the latter feeling horror and sadness at hearing that. She took a step forward, but then stopped as Naruto continued. "And I just learned recently that there is a group of S-ranked assholes out there who want to capture me so they can use the biju sealed inside of me for who knows what reason, with said biju being the reason I'm an orphan. So no, I don't know what you've been through. But I certainly know what it's like to live in pain and misery. The difference is I try not to wallow in it."

Tsunade looked at him, before looking questioningly at Jiraiya whose head was lowered a bit. "…Shizune-san…would you mind taking Naruto to get some lunch? I think it would be better if the remainder of mine and Tsunade's talk was done in private," the toad sage said.

Shizune shakily nodded her head. "T-this way, Naruto-san," she said, stepping back as Naruto sent a questioning look to Jiraiya, before following her. Tsunade turned her head to watch them go before looking to Jiraiya.

"What the hell is he talking about?" She asked him, only for the toad sannin to shake his head.

"I need a drink if I'm going to get through all this," he said, turning and looking for the nearest sake stand or bar, with Tsunade close behind him.

Shizune quietly walked alongside Naruto, with Tonton in her arms making soft little noises as said pig looked to Naruto. The boy was walking in silence, his eyes seemingly focused on the street ahead of them. After a few minutes, when they had stopped at a street vendor to get Naruto some food, Shizune finally spoke up. "Was…all that true?" She finally asked, looking at Naruto. "You made your first kill when you were nine?"

Naruto simply nodded, biting into a skewer of roasted and glazed chicken. After chewing and swallowing, he spoke up. "A shinobi from the Uchiha clan broke into my apartment and took me hostage after killing an ANBU that was watching over me. There…was a struggle, and I managed to grab the ANBU's sword as he lunged at me. He fell on the blade," Naruto said, looking up at Shizune. "I know there are kids who have made their first kills at that age already, but…they're usually prodigies, and already a full shinobi. I was still an Academy student. I hadn't even done that stupid chicken test they make you do to try and toughen you up," he said, referring to how the Academy had given each student a chicken to raise and care for, before killing it.

Shizune bit her lip at that. "How did you get over it?" She asked, not sure how he could have handled being forced to kill in a life and death struggle at such a young age. Naruto took another bite of his skewer, chewing quietly for a few moments before swallowing.

"I had people who were looking out for me at that point. People who took me under their wing, who trained me, checked in on me…they're the closest thing I've had to parents or a family," he said with a soft smile forming. "They were the ones who helped me afterward. They helped me get over the trauma of taking a life. And…well it certainly helped that almost immediately afterward my best friend had her own problems. Helping her distracted me from my own worries."

Shizune nodded a bit at that, looking down at the road before speaking. "…do you wish to know why Tsunade-sama has such a strong dislike for the village and the position of Hokage?" She asked.

Naruto stopped and looked at her in surprise, eyes wide. "…should you be telling me that? I mean, the way ero-sennin keeps going on about it but never actually telling me, I thought it was something only she was supposed to be able to tell."

Shizune took a deep breath. "I think you should know, so you can at least better understand her position. And…part of it is my story to tell as well," she said, beckoning him over to an alley where they could talk more privately. Naruto followed her there, creating a pair of clones to go watch the ends of the alley to make sure no one was eavesdropping.

Shizune set Tonton on the ground before straightening her kimono a bit. Looking to Naruto and seeing him ready, she took a deep breath. "It began with her little brother, Nawaki Senju," she started. "He had always dreamt of being Hokage, in hopes of following in the footsteps of their grandfather and grand-uncle. When he told Tsunade-sama about his dream, she gave him the necklace she had inherited from the Shodai Hokage, telling him it was her way of supporting his dream. The very next day…he was killed while on a mission."

Naruto's eyes widened at that as Shizune continued. "Tsunade-sama was devastated by his death, but…she didn't lose faith in Konoha or the position of Hokage until the next tragedy. She had met a shinobi named Dan Kato, my uncle, who shared her beliefs that Konoha should employ a trained field medic for each combat team of shinobi, to improve the odds of survival for teams in the field. The two of them fell in love, and he shared with her his dream of becoming Hokage as well, his dream of being able to better protect the village and everyone he cared about. Tsunade-sama gave him the necklace, again wanting to show her support and belief in his dream. But during a mission, he was badly injured. Despite her best efforts, Tsunade-sama could not save him, and he died of blood loss."

Shizune closed her eyes at that as they watered a bit in the corners. "She…became convinced that the necklace was cursed after that, that if anyone but herself wore it…it would kill them. She also became convinced that anyone who wanted to become Hokage was a fool with a death wish. She took me on as her apprentice, since my uncle was the last living member of my family, and left the village, to get away from the memories of Nawaki and Dan."

She opened her eyes, looking to Naruto whose head was tilted down with his bangs shadowing his eyes. "I hope you can better understand Tsunade-sama's pain now," she said to him softly.

Naruto nodded quietly. "I think I do. I don't think it excuses what she's said, or her unwillingness to help people in need. But I think I understand why she feels that way," he said, looking up. "Thank you for telling me. I can't guarantee I'll pull my punches with her, but…I'll try to be a bit more considerate now that I know her pain. But she needs to understand that there are other people who are suffering as well, and that instead of wallowing in her own misery, she could help them so they don't suffer like she has."

Shizune nodded quietly at that. "I agree with you, but…I don't know how to make her see that. She's spent far too much time with her grief to let it go."

Naruto grinned at her. "Then I guess we'll need to find a way to make her let it go," he said. Shizune blinked at his grin, surprised at how it actually made her feel slightly confident that somehow, this boy could pull off what he was saying.

Elsewhere, Tsunade just stared at Jiraiya in shock as her fellow sannin had finished telling her what he knew about Naruto's childhood. "Please tell me you're joking," she said to him, seeing him down a saucer of sake.

Jiraiya shook his head, sighing as he looked at the counter. "Not at all, though I wish I was. Naruto was targeted by members of the Uchiha clan who were planning a coup attempt against Sarutobi-sensei. Sensei tried to keep him safe, but the Uchiha sent to hold Naruto hostage got the drop on the ANBU guarding him. Kid had a pet fox that attacked the Uchiha, and Naruto went for the dead ANBU's sword…ended up impaling the Uchiha through the chest when he tried to attack Naruto. Kid was still an Academy student at the time."

Tsunade just stared at him, eyes wide. "…and the rest of what he said?" She asked.

Jiraiya looked down at the counter, his jovial attitude completely gone as he poured another saucer of sake. "All true. He had no one looking out for him till he was about six or so. That's when a newcomer to Konoha took him under his wing. Almost everyone else ignored him, assaulted him, verbally harassed and attacked him…and they still did for a while there afterwards. And yes…he's got a group of S-ranked shinobi after him as well, for the Kyuubi."

The slug sannin beside him could only continue to stare, before speaking. "I thought you were his godfather? Where the hell were you while this was going on?" She asked as Jiraiya glared slightly at her.

"Unlike some people, I was busy keeping the village safe so Naruto could have a home to grow up in," he said, causing Tsunade to bristle at his jab at her. "With the Kyuubi attack severely weakening the village, I had to keep an eye out for any threats to Konoha till we could recover." He looked down at the counter again, his voice growing more tired. "But…I was also grieving as well. Minato was like a son to me, and then he and Kushina were dead. I should have gone back and taken care of Naruto, but…well…I think you understand why I didn't."

Tsunade just nodded quietly, looking at the counter as well. It was the same reason she refused to go back to Konoha. "So what made you change your mind? Since you've got him tagging along now," she asked him. Find authorized novels in Webnovel, faster updates, better experience, Please click <a href=";s-creed_16557146105372505/chapter-45-a-sucker&apos;s-bet_45673664263286424">;s-creed_16557146105372505/chapter-45-a-sucker&apos;s-bet_45673664263286424</a> for visiting.

Jiraiya let out a sigh, closing his eyes. "The Akatsuki. The group of S-ranked shinobi he mentioned. They're targeting the biju and I don't know why. But I know I need to protect Naruto, and get him trained up to face them. And…I'll admit, I'm not exactly happy with the company he's kept," he admitted.

Tsunade frowned at that. "What do you mean? Given the fact he had nobody, I would think you'd be happy he has someone looking out for him."

"I am, but…I feel like they took away his childhood," Jiraiya said. "You've seen his weapons, how he fights? They trained him that way, trained him to be an assassin. A real assassin, as in it's his specialty. His skill set is centered almost entirely on how to kill someone as quickly and quietly as possible. And he shouldn't be like that. He should have grown up having dreams about being a hero, or even Hokage, not learning how to kill someone. And the group he's a part of…his first kill was an accident but he had already killed I don't know how many people before he had graduated from the Academy. I feel like…like they've corrupted him, turned him into something Minato and Kushina would have hated."

Tsuande snorted at that. "Then maybe you should have been there for him," she shot at him, causing Jiraiya to shoot her a quick glare before it disappeared, looking back down at the counter. He knew she was right, even if he didn't like it.

The two of them sat in silence for a few minutes before Jiraiya spoke up again. "You know you can't run Tsunade-chan. Sarutobi-sensei needs you back in the village. You should at least go back to help out at the hospital, if nothing else. That should appease him, if you're dead set on not becoming Hokage."

Tsunade gently grabbed the necklace around her neck, glaring at the counter. "I don't care Jiraiya. I'm not going back to that village no matter what. Nothing you say will change my mind."

"Then how about a wager?" Asked a voice behind them, causing them to turn and see Naruto enter with Shizune behind him. Naruto moved up to the counter, leaning against it as he looked at Tsunade. "We'll make a bet to settle this. How about that?" He asked.

She snorted in response. "Oh yeah, sure. You think I'm dumb enough to let you use my shitty luck against me to force me back? Real smart idea kid," she said sarcastically, only for Naruto to grin.

"I'll admit that thought crossed my mind, but I'm thinking a bit more than that. Here's the bet. I bet you that if you willingly give me that necklace for a week and let me wear it, I won't die," he said, causing all three adults to stiffen and stare at him with a mixture of shock, horror, and rage. He ignored that, continuing. "If I win, you come back to Konoha, at least to help out at the hospital. And if you win…well I'll be dead, and I'm sure Ero-sennin here will have bigger things to worry about then bringing you back to Konoha."

Tsunade looked to Shizune, glaring at her. "I see somebody told you things they shouldn't have," she said, while Shizune hunched up a bit.

"She did, but she wanted me to try and understand your pain. And I get it now. I'm sorry for the losses you've felt and I apologize for the way I said what I did, though not for saying it. But it was partly her story too, since her uncle was involved," Naruto said, drawing Tsuande's attention back to him.

"Gaki, what the hell do you think you're doing?" Jiraiya asked him, standing up and staring him down, only for Naruto to look back at him.

"Do you have a better plan, Jiraiya-sensei?" He asked him, causing Jiraiya to pause at Naruto actually using his name. "Because at the moment, the only way I see us being successful outside of this are by force, and I really doubt you want to try that."

Tsunade just stared at him, holding the crystal of the necklace. "And why should I agree to this?" She asked with heat in her voice. "As far as I can tell, there's no benefit to me here. You win and I'm forced back to the village. I win and you're dead, adding yet another death to my conscience," she said.

Naruto looked at her. "Let me ask you this, Tsunade-san," he said, looking her directly in the eyes. "Do you think Nawaki-san or Dan-san would be happy or respect the life you've led? Or do you think they would be saddened and upset, seeing you give up and using your pain and their deaths as an excuse to wallow in misery and ignore those you can help?" He asked.

Tsunade snarled as she stood up, one fist raised and clenched. "Shut the hell up! You don't get to talk about them! Don't think you understand anything just because Shizune told you about them!" She shouted furiously at him.

Naruto did his best to remain still, even as he saw the enraged sannin before him, knowing that if she wanted to, she'd obliterate him before he got a chance to move. He took a deep breath before speaking again. "What exactly do you have to lose? You don't really know me or care about me, so what if I die? It shouldn't bother you, should it? Just like the people who are suffering and in need of your help right now. If that doesn't bother you, then why should my death?"He asked her.

Tsunade stared him down angrily before suddenly yanking the necklace off. "Fine, you little bastard. You want to fucking die? Be my guest," she said, slapping it down on the counter and staring at him. "Put it on, if you're so cocky."

Naruto reached for it, only for Jiraiya to stop him. "Naruto," he said, only to stop as Naruto looked at him.

"Don't worry about it Ero-sennin. I don't intend to die anytime soon," he said, pulling his hand free and grabbing the necklace. He slipped it over his head, making sure Tsunade saw him do it, before tucking it inside his collar.

Tsunade glared at him, leaning in close. "You better keep that thing on every day for the next week. Because if I find out you fucking cheated me," she growled out, her voice low and angry, her threat evident even if unsaid.

Naruto looked up at her, his own eyes defiant. "I don't go back on my word. Believe it," he said, as Tsunade snorted and stalked off. Shizune gave one last frightened yet also admiring look to Naruto, before following after her.

Jiraiya, however, immediately cuffed Naruto on the back of his head. "You stupid idiot," he snapped. "Why the hell are you working so hard to piss her off? Are you trying to get yourself killed?" He demanded.

Naruto rubbed the back of his head, wincing and looking up at Jiraiya. "Because if she's ever going to get over losing the people she cared about, someone has to strop pandering to her victimhood and actually help her to move on. Whether by being helpful…or forcing her to."

Jiraiya shook his head, looking down at Naruto's chest. "You just better not die gaki. Mikoto-san is already going to kill me for what happened to her kid, I don't need Anko joining her because you died," he said.

Naruto just gave him a grin, winking. "Don't worry about it. One week from now, I'll hand it back to her and we'll be heading back to Konoha. Unless she intends to break her word."

Jiraiya just let out a tired sigh, shaking his head as he put down money for his and Tsunade's drinks and left with Naruto. Already he was planning how to keep an eye on the boy to make sure absolutely nothing happened to him before the end of the bet. And he might still need to do the same afterwards, if Naruto kept acting this crazy.

On a rooftop opposite the bar, Guren watched the whole proceeding, eyes narrowed at what she had just heard. She would need to report this to Orochimaru, and fast. She quickly shunshined away, unaware of the small fox clad in a red cloak and hood that had been watching her.

"Ni-san won't like this," Tomo said, quickly running off to go find Naruto and tell him what he had just witnessed.

And chapter. Sorry for the sort of short chapter but the next one will almost certainly be longer. I think most, if not all of you, can guess why.

RS19: Yeah, because you'll most likely have a-*LR slaps his hand over her mouth*

LR: SPOILERS! No spoilers here, only in review replies to reviewers! Get back to partying! *shoves a plate of snacks into her hands*

RS19: Jeez, fine. *mutters as she walks off*

LR: Right, so far so good though. No one has gone and destroyed my Lair this time!

Diehard NaruHina LeafRanger: You say something?! *is too busy awkwardly dancing to the music*

LR: Nope, nothing at all! So, I hope all you readers out there are doing alright, what with the Virus and the insanity gripping the planet right now. Please do your best to keep safe and healthy!

Raphael: Indeed mi amigos. It would be a shame if any of you were to fall ill.

LR: Especially after helping me get this far. When I started fanfiction I never expected to write a story that could become this popular and well received. So thank you to everyone who has followed and reviewed this fanfic, and my other works. And I hope that my fanfics continue to bring you all enjoyment!

Till next time! And thanks to Bill Alain for his help betaing this chapter.

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