Imagine: The List
Fic posted by members of Vo's Imaginings YahooGroup

Kiriko looks up from the walls of scrolls on either side and nods in satisfaction. Turning the placard to open she settles behind the counter and opens the latest book of a mystery series she found on her journeys.


Among the items she brings back on these shopping trips are books and tv shows that might not have made it to Konoha yet. And no, she doesn't mean that dreck that fool Kakashi reads. The bell over the door rings and she looks up, slipping a bookmark in the book to save her page.


Ahhh, speak of the man and he shall appear. She glares at that screaming meemie bitch Sakura when the pink banshee opens her mouth and she gulps and closes it. She knows the other woman will knock her on her ass without a second thought and get away with it. Kakashi starts to glare at her and she growls. He quickly shuts up. Sasuke starts to complain and she grabs him by the collar and backhands him across the face. "Keep a civil tongue in your mouth while in my store or lose it fool. I don't have to put up with your whining. The fools on the Council can kiss my ass. Konoha needs me, I don't need you."


Sasuke sulks the whole time he selects his scrolls of supplies and brings them to the counter. He starts puffing up at the total and she tosses a kunai at him. He gulps at the five strands of hair that fall to the floor, pays his total, and heads outside.


"I. . .I need one of your special scrolls." Sakura whispers when she comes up to the counter. Kiriko nods and pulls a scroll out of a special box by her foot, sliding it across the counter. Dropping the bills in the box she smiles as Naruto comes over. In addition to the supplies for their mission he's got other scrolls.


"New ramen scrolls?"


"Not until next week. Teuchi and Ayame will be working on new batches over the next couple of nights."


Naruto nods and brings a handful of scrolls out of his pocket. Kiriko nods and drops them into another box behind the counter.


"Naruto?" Kakashi asks quietly.


"Dishes from the meal scrolls. You can either bring them back or keep them. The meal scrolls come in six, twelve, eighteen, or twenty-four meals with silverware. If you bring them back after washing them you get a discount. Ichiruko's makes two batches of each of his dishes every month, one for Naruto." She quickly reaches over and ruffles his hair, getting a complaint. "And the rest of my customers."


"Only Ichiruko?"


"No, I employ many clan females, and a few men, to cook meals for me." She waves a hand at the other wall and Kakashi looks over at the wall of shelves, each labeled with restaurant or clan name, meal, meal number, and price. "The more paranoid shinobi only buy the meals from their clan members, many people buy from other clans to see what their food is like." The bell over the door chimes and a shinobi comes in. "Kiriko, did your. . ." Kiriko holds up a hand and ducks under the counter, bringing out another scroll that she opens. "Oh, thank you. And thank Shuishi for me too." He puts the weapons back in the scroll and hands over his money. The money goes in a separate envelope she slides in her clothes.


"You sell weapons?"


"One of my clan members is a blacksmith. He does special orders."


"Why are you not a Kunoichi? You are obviously trained."


"Do you know my clan? The Izuno. If you do, you know why I am not."


"Oh." he slumps. Naruto looks at his sensei, the shopkeeper, and back. "My clan is one of the lesser known ones Naruto, because we don't have a kekkei genkai or use flashy jutsus. While we serve Konoha, most of our clan members do not become chunin until they are adults. And we have no jonin in our clan. While those clan members who have attended the academy teach the others, most of the clan have other jobs."


"I chose not to attend the academy when I was old enough to enroll."


"You would have been a fine kunoichi."


"At the whims of a teacher who may choose to fail me because of no fault of my own? Depending on team mates that may or may not be useless or have agendas of their own? Having my chakra bound if I am failed because of my teacher or team mates? Through no fault of my own?" Kiriko pointedly looks out at Sasuke and Sakura through the windows of the shop. Even through the glass they can see he's complaining and that fool girl is agreeing with everything he's saying. "Used only as a weapon by whoever is in charge? No, I have too much self-worth to do that. Especially since the town sees my clan as nothing because we don't have the flashy gifts. I have a gift for sealing, my clan encouraged that gift."


Kakashi shakes his head as he leaves, how many students lives had been turned upside down through no fault of their own? How many lives did he ruin by failing teams year after year after year? In the store a man ducks in from the back room and Kiriko hands her father the scrolls Naruto had brought back and the money for Shuisui.


"The council will complain about how you treated their puppet Sasuke." He snorts.


"The council can blow it out their asses. If a civilian can easily slap him, an enemy will kill him." Her father sighs but nods, opening the scrolls in the back and running the bowls and silverware through the commercial dishwasher and putting everything away to be reused.


"You're getting low on dishes."


"Yes, I planned on buying more next month when I go off. Is Tio finished with his schoolwork in the back? Send him off to our regular customers and tell him I plan on going next month, get me their lists and money in two weeks." He nods and ducks in the back, a youngish looking boy going out the front door and visiting a number of establishments, including those on the seedier part of town.


"Grow up." The Hokage says in disgust. "No, I will not have her punished for disrespecting the Uchiha. He opened your mouth in her shop and she shut it for him. And if a civilian can hit him without warning, an enemy would, and could, kill him before he made a move. It's obviously the boy needs more training." Sasuke is stunned that nobody is taking his side. How dare he not get everything his wants.


Naruto comes in three weeks later, filling his arms with scrolls from the other wall. At the counter Kiriko's father nods and starts running up the total, Naruto handing over a handful of bills and accepting the large storage scroll holding the other ones. "Kiriko?"


"Left last week on her biyearly shopping trips. She's got lists from most of the other stores and some of the other areas." Naruto lives in the bad part of the village, he knows what Kiriko's father is not saying. "Did she get in trouble for slapping Sasuke? I know he went whining to the council."


"Not hardly, the Hokage told them that if a civilian could take him down as easily as she could he needs more training. I heard rumors that he's in trouble?"


"Yeah, he went off on our mission and nearly got Sakura killed. Kakashi was not happy and beat his ass every night for the three days it took us to get home." Naruto shakes his head.


Kiriko walks into the store two weeks later. Naruto leaps off the stool behind the counter and hugs her. She raises an eyebrow at him. "Your brother had an emergency and asked me to cover the counter."


"What? He eat his own cooking again?" Kiriko snorts.


"Ha ha ha." He says as he walks into the building. "Thanks for covering the store Naruto. No, the Hokage has a special order for Shuishi. Where's the rest of your team?" He asks Naruto.


"Sakura is on medical leave for another six weeks and Sasuke is on punishment detail for another six months.At least. The old man isn't happy with what happened on our last assignment. So I'm at loose ends. Your dad's been paying me to work here." he looks at her. Kiriko waves a hand. "Go ahead, I'm going to be busy the next couple of days delivering everything I brought back for the others." She tosses her brother a handful of scrolls. "Supplies for the back."


"Oh good, we're down to a box of everything with filling the meal scrolls." he sighs and opens them in the back room, putting everything away. The back door opens and their father sighs. "I heard she was back. We're first stop?"


"Yes, she's going to be delivering everything else over the next few days. Naruto's out front covering the counter."


"It's good money for him. I hear that his team might be breaking up?"


"For gods sake, why?"


"Because his teammate Sasuke is a little shit who needs his ass beaten ten times a day? And his female teammate was a stupid fangirl before she was hurt. She might not be able to return to active duty."




"Oh yes."


Kiriko tosses Shuishi a scroll later that night, a female clan member being tossed a second. Both are opened and barrels of supplies from the scrolls inside for his blacksmith building and the soap, cosmetics, and lotion making buildings being put away.


"Who else did you deliver to?" her father asks as the supplies for the main building are put away.


"Ichiruko's and the working women." Kiriko yawns. "I'll deliver to the other clans tomorrow and the rest of the stores the day after that. Are we officially hiring Naruto?"


"I was thinking about it. His female teammate is on medical leave for another six weeks and the medics don't know if she can return or not. Sasuke is on punishment for another six months and might not be allowed to continue too. Kakashi is being grilled over the coals for not teaching the other two and kissing that little fool's ass."


"Why? Everybody else praised the little fool." One of the women snorts. "I remember his parents. I would just as soon have killed them as look at them. His whole family was insufferable assholes."


"Too many people kissing their asses and nobody kicking them." Kiriko's father sighs. The others nod. "One of the reasons our clan was seen as failures, we have no special gifts."


"No, we work for everything we do. But that's not good enough for a lot of clans. Fuck, half the civilians in the academy the last few years were only there hoping to catch Uchiha's eye. That twit Haruno case in point."


The others in her clan nod. Once a week they get together and talk about things going on in the village. People gossip around ordinary civilians like they wouldn't shinobi and if somebody hears something they make sure that information gets back to the right people.


One of the women turns to look at Kiriko. "Did you hear anything about the ANBU?"


"That they might be hiring us to cook for them since they don't have a cooking crew anymore? Yeah, the Hokage is trying to decide one way or another." Kiriko waves a hand. "If we get the order I'll head off again and get in more supplies." The others nod. "If I have to, I can buy the building next to ours and hire the new genin to clean the building, move the supplies, and set up the cooking areas."


Naruto looks around as he and Kakashi arrive at the Izuno farm outside town a couple days later.


"Okay, what do you need us to do."


"We've got three fields of potatoes that need to be dug up and stored in the potato cellar." Naruto looks at him and the head of the farm chuckles. "These are potato hills. Pull these up and pull the potatoes off, then check and make sure there's no more potatoes in the soil. Dig deep and to the sides. Toss the vines in the pile, we'll let them sit and in a couple years we'll put them on the ground when we plant again. The potatoes go in that building, then when we're done with these, the beans, corn, and rice are next."


"That's a lot of work."


"You're looking at three weeks of steady work."


Naruto sighs as he slips into the hot water of the baths. A cough has him opening one eye.


"The Izuno farm." Kiba says.


"Yeah, you've worked there before?"


"Yeah." Choji says, sliding into the water. "Our Dads sent us off to work there during the academy to get used to the work. It's a rite of passage for a lot of clan kids."


"Yeah, my mom went me off to work with them because Ino had a fit about getting dirty." Kiba snickers. "She got to deal with the pig pens instead. Her dad was not amused by the fit. What were you doing?"


"Potatoes, then the rice, corn, and beans."


"OOOOOhhhh, not hard hard work but long hours." Shikamaru says from where he just slid into the water. "What's the latest on Sakura?"


"Can't return to the field. She's going to be training at the hospital because she's got such good chakra control. She'll be limping for the rest of her life."


"And Sasuke?" Choji asks.


"Now on permanent punishment detail and will not be returning unless he gets a serious attitude adjustment." A male voice says as Inoichi Yamanaka slides into the water. He looks at the boys who turn their attention on him. "This is not to be repeated boys. Naruto, I know you're down two teammates, the Hokage is planning on having you working with the various teams for extra training and will find you a team that needs an extra member when its time for the chunin exam. He also says if you want to work permanently with the Izunos, you have his blessing."


Kiriko sighs as she leans against the door. She looks over at Tio. "We have the ANBU job. I just got done talking to the people cooking and passing along information and copies of the meals they want, including some special ones." Their father comes in from the back room and nods. "It's not to start until the first of the year so I have time to get in the supplies needed. I stopped at the Tower, brought the building next door and one of the builders will be coming over to link the buildings after the new genin have cleaned the building top to bottom. I put in an order for more furnishings, they will arrive and be set up after the building is clean."


"But why do they have such a big building?" A councilor whines in a meeting.


"Because Kiriko hires clan women and men to cook the meals she sells? They need a large building to do that work. And no," Sarutobi says as the fool woman opens her mouth. "I will not demand they stop selling the meals. It's good money for them and I agree, their clan has been looked down on for years since they don't have a kekkei genkai."


"We can stop them, we're the civilian council." She says smugly. "Can't we?" She whimpers, looking at her fellow council members.


"Their authority comes straight from the Daimyo. We have no authority over any of them." One of the others says. "They have pulled the store from Konoha before when we tried shutting them down. It did not go well for the civilian council. I am the only survivor of the council from that time. And I only stayed on the council because I was new and not part of the vote."


She blinks and howls until one of her own council silences her. With a fist to the mouth, Before one of the shinobi in the room can gut her.


"Grow up fool. Bother them and they will cheerfully destroy you." Tsume Inuzuka snorts. "All members of the clan train whether they attended the academy or not and can and will kill you as look as you. So mind your own business and butt out of theirs."


"She'll bother them, won't she?" One of the others sighs as she runs out.


"Yep, and she'll get her ass handed to her for her stupidity. Depending on which one she annoys, she'll be killed. Or just beaten within an inch of her life."


"Okay, who's got the betting book started?" Ino's father laughs after the official meeting is over and the ninja council has settled in a room to get drunk and play cards.


"What set her off anyway?"


"Her daughter's a newbie and is one of the teams cleaning the building. She's coming home dirty and exhausted."


"Isn't that part of the job? Coming home dirty and exhausted after an assignment?" Another man snorts.


"She's seeing the glamour, not the real job. She planned on her daughter being a ninja to propel her to bigger and better things." The head of the civilian council says, having been invited along for beer and free food. "Needless to say, she failed. One of those damn fools who will go running telling her daughter she can't be a kunoichi anymore."


"If she's who I think she is, it's not that big a loss." Tsume snorts. She looks over at Shikaku. "Short, kinda mousy brown hair, always trying to hit her one teammate. A repeat of the Haruno girl except she's actually turning into a decent medical-nin after nearly losing her leg."


Shikaku nods. "That is her. And it's very much a repeat of the Haruno situation. The mother trying to get on the civilian council because her beloved daughter graduated the academy."


"Troublesome." Shikaku glares at Choza Akamichi who just smirks.


Kiriko looks up as Hinata and a younger girl who can only be her sister walk into the store along with another girl and two boys. "This is where most of the shinobi and kunoichi in the village come for their supplies." She tells them. "In addition to the camping supplies they have packaged food ready for cooking over a fire, pots, pans, dishes, and silverware. And food you can eat on the go." Hinata shows them to the wall of mission ready supplies. "In addition Kiriko sells ready made meals from clans and Ichiruko." She lead them to the other wall and shows them a scroll.


"These. . .aren't the normal scrolls." Moegi says slowly.


"No, I created them. They're first in and first out, do you see the check marks along the side." Kiriko says. They nod they see them. "When an item is removed, it's marked off on the scroll so you know how many you have left. In addition the weapon scrolls have special features so you can bring out as many or as few as you need at one time."


"You created them?" Konohamaru asks.


"Yep, your grandfather saw I had a gift for sealing and got me books and in contact with a sealing master." She tells him.


"Girls, there is another scroll you will want to be familiar with when you are older and it is that time of the month." Hinata says, taking her sister and Moegi to the counter.


"I keep them under the counter." Kiriko says. "It's not a secret but most men never think about that time of the month unless they have a partner or in the case of younger ones, have sisters. Or have a female team member who grows homicidal." Moegi snickers despite herself. "Ahh speaking of homicidal female team members." A shinobi comes in and takes three scrolls, handing over the money with a sigh. "Bless you for creating these."


Hinabi looks at the items and nods in understanding. She's seen many women in the main and branch house with such things.


"Yep." The bell over the door rings and Kiriko grins as Anko comes in. She starts grabbing scrolls from the wall of meals as Kiriko reaches under the counter and brings out three scrolls. Anko grins when she sees them and heads for the counter with her haul, going back to the walls twice more. She pulls out a handful of scrolls she drops on the counter, paying the bill and taking the special scroll. Hinata and the others look at it.


"You've never seen the larger scrolls? I use them for customers like Anko and Naruto who buy multiple scrolls at one time. Each one is marked so they know what they have when they return home."


"That wasn't the special scroll."


"No, that was Anko's dango. I keep it under the counter so nobody else buys it before she does." Kiriko chuckles. "Dad, make a bank run. Anko was just here. Tio, get the dirty dishes."


Both men come out of the back, Tio grabbing the scrolls and going back in the back. Hinata looks at first him then the shopkeeper.


"Each meal scroll comes with dishes and silverware. You can either keep them or bring them back for a discount. We have a commercial dishwasher in the back where each will be washed again, sanitized just like the restaurants, and reused when we make more batches of food."


"How often do you make the food?'


"Monthly for the clan meals unless there's more demand. Ichiruko's makes two batches every month, one just for Naruto." Hinata snickers despite herself. She's seen how many bowls of ramen he eats. "Yep."


"Those aren't family meals." Konohamaru asks.


"No, they're individual portions for single people who don't have the time to cook, don't have the time or room to cook, or those who can't cook without poisoning themselves. I'd been thinking of bigger meals but it would be more work and more money."


"While most families do their own cooking." Moegi says. The others nod. "Even if the entire family was gone, there should be somebody there who would be able to put together a meal for them."


"Or they have some made up ahead of time in scrolls for an emergency."


One of the clan women ducks into the store just then, overhearing the conversation and nodding. She looks at the rack of her meal scrolls.


"Anko was just here."


"Ahhh, I knew we were getting low but not that low. Yes kids, we've thought about whole meals for families but it's a lot more work and a lot more money. While they could stay in the scrolls indefinitely, there's not that much of a need. Or demand."


Kiriko checks she has everything everything she needs for this trip and nods, hugging her father and brother before taking to the trees. She'd elected to leave from the farm instead of Konoha because it was closer.


Kiriko reaches over and shoves the shoulder of a familiar figure. Shizune startles then relaxes when she sees who is there. She looks at her, it's not time for her usual trips.


"Special trip. I got an order for more meals. I'm getting more supplies and stocking up on some stuff we don't normally have." She yawns. "Oh come on, rain already. It's making me sleepy." Shizune chuckles as Tsunade comes over with Tonton.


"Heya brat."


"Heya yourself, you old bat."


"How are things in Konoha?" Shizune asks later that night after Kiriko has done her shopping for the day and settled in a hotel.


"Quiet. . . now. I ended up buying the building next door and turning it into a larger place to cook since we got more orders. Some old bat on the council had a fit about that and came after me. Because her newbie genin daughter was tired, and dirty, and sore after cleaning the building." She raises her hand to her forehead in an oh a woe is me, I'm so horribly abused look copied from the nobles when somebody asks what they do during the day.


"Ooooooh, how awful. The fool never thought that's what happens on assignments?" Shizune says sourly. A shadow has the two kunoichi stiffening. Kiriko just snorts. "You're late. . .grandfather."


"Did you have to tell the women I was peeping?" Jiraiya complains as he comes in the window.


"Yes, yes I did." She says, rolling her eyes. "Bad enough you write that dreck that Kakashi reads all the fucking time. I didn't need to deal with you while I'm trying to relax after being on the road for days. And it was only civilians, if you can't get away from them it's time to retire and turn the spying over to one of the others in the family. Anyway, where was I? Oh yes, the little fool came after me with her claws out and I kicked her ass up one side and down the other. Then her daughter came after me for hurting her mommy and I beat her ass, then dragged her over my knee and tanned her hide. I'd have left that to her sensei but Mommy told her she couldn't be a kunoichi anymore because she didn't get what she wanted."


"Oh dear god." All three ninja moan.


"Yeah." Kiriko snorts. "Needless to say, she lost her position on the Civilian Council and is now facing charges. Her daughter has had her chakra bound for that little stunt and was sent off on one of the gangs off cleaning buildings, picking up trash, sorting out trash. . ."


"I'd say this is why they shouldn't allow civilians to be shinobi but there are some good ones." Jiraiya sighs. He catches the scroll Kiriko tosses him, Tsunade and Shizune being handed their own.


"Can one of you please come home and teach the kunoichi? The academy got rid of all the sexual classes for the girls. The working women are teaching them now about the different types of body assignments, how to seduce men or women, and sexual areas." Shizune whimpers as Tsunade swears. "They never learned what to do if a target likes their own sex, likes both sexes, or like me is totally uninterested in either sex."


Jiraiya moans. The two females swear. "Yeah, the academy is still recovering from all the dumbing down the former teachers did to keep Naruto from graduating. Not to mention kissing the ass of the last Uchiha, fucking bastard." They look at her. "It's in the reports but short story is, he pulled some shit on their team's last assignment that nearly caused their female member to lose her leg. She's now training as a medical nin because she's got good chakra control and can't return to the field. He's on permanent punishment detail so Naruto is training with the other teams to learn what that fool Kakashi should have been teaching him and Haruno from the beginning." More swearing. "When its time for the chunin exams, the Hokage will find him a team that needs another member."


"How long are you going to be here?"


"Another couple days. I've got more supplies I need to pick up for the expanded orders, buy the booze for next year, barrels as well as bottles, do some more shopping, and hit the casinos."


A week later Kiriko slides into a window at the Tower. The ANBU stiffen until they see who it is and relax at Sarutobi's wave. She reaches into her blouse and pulls out a scroll she tosses on the desk. "Jiraiya, Tsunade, and Shizune's reports."


"Thank you my dear. Did you get everything you needed?" He waves a hand and she drops onto a chair.


"Yes, the supplies for the ANBU meals, including the special spices. The booze for next year, including the barrels and bottles. Hit the casinos and have enough money for decades, even with all our expenses." He sends off a courier and the bank president arrives at the Tower with an escort, counting the money and taking it to the bank after giving her receipts. "Asked one of them to please come back and handle the kunoichi training, they weren't too happy about hearing the working ladies are doing the training but they'd be the ones who know what to do." The ANBU in the room sigh but nod.


An hour later she leaves the Tower as quietly as she comes.


"I agree with Kakashi. She'd be one hell of a kunoichi." Cat says, dropping into the seat she vacated.


"Yes, she would have been. But like she said, she had other plans. And her clan is still looked down by too many for not having flashy jutsus and actually working for what they achieve."


Tio smiles as she walks into the shop an hour before it would have closed for the day. She tosses him a large scroll and he goes next door to put everything away. The last of the new appliances had been installed and they're just waiting for the extra supplies to start working.


"Bank?" Her father asks, coming out of the back room.


"Already deposited my winnings, the Hokage sent for the bank president with an escort." She hands him the receipts for the clan records and he nods, putting them in his clothes. "Liquor?" She hands him another large scroll and he heads off.


Tio and Kiriko lock up the buildings and head off, taking to the roofs until they hit the gate and nodding at the guards who mark them going out. Taking to the trees they soon arrive home. The women in the clan hug her and usher her off to the bathing rooms after traveling all day. And there's enough clan members to cover the store for the next few days.


"I saw grandfather." She says at dinner.


"Tell me you didn't yell about him peeping." Her father sighs as the others snigger.


"Of course I did, and it was only real civilians. If he can't get away from them, it's time he stopped spying and let somebody else handle it." The others snigger again.


The following Monday she unlocks the door of the store, looking around and nodding in satisfaction.


Settling behind the counter with a new book she starts to read, looking up as the bell rings. Naruto comes in and flies across the room to hug her. "Still need me today?" He asks hopefully.


"Not unless you have training or a mission instead." she says firmly. She sees Maito Gai behind him and he nods. "Off with you then, scamp." She says.




"Lemme guess, one of the other farms."


"The sewers."


"Pharmacy. Buy a jar of the cold salve and put it under your noses. And buy a bottle of the lemon body wash for afterwards. I know they have showers for workers so they don't smell too bad coming through town." Maito Gai looks at her. "Some of my clan members work there."


"Thank you." Gai says. Naruto goes across and buys a scroll of emergency supplies. "We'll need to eat but we won't want to eat. This will keep us going." Kiriko nods and puts the money in the box.


"Naruto?" Tio asks an hour later when he comes in. He's in school part of the day but today there hadn't been any classes.


"Sewers. I told him to get the cold salve for under his nose and the lemon body wash for afterwards." Tio nods and settles in the back room to work on his assignments.


One of the sewer workers nods in satisfaction at the bag Naruto is carrying, tossing them coveralls to wear over their clothes. "Put the salve on while you're up here and leave it up here. It will smell just like everything else down there if you bring it with you. And remove any jewelry or anything you can't easily replace. If you brought food, it stays up here too. We'll be taking enough breaks you can reapply the salve or eat." He nods at the scroll. "Good idea, it will keep you going and the smells will make you not want to eat until you get used to them."


"You get used to them?" Tenten asks in either excitement or dismay.


"Your nose gets used to it after a while, just like the clans who have animal partners get used to the smell of their droppings." A man who's an obvious Inuzuka says dryly. "Yes, I work here too. We all serve the village in one way or another."




Naruto whimpers as he comes in the store a couple days later for his regular work shift. "Corn, so much corn."


"It's the hard outer shell that people can't digest. That's why so much is left behind." Tio says quietly. "Yeah, everybody has that reaction." He stretches and sighs, putting his books up. Then looks at him. "That's usually a D-rank mission though. Shouldn't the newbies have been having to do that?"


"They needed the extra help and Gai's team was up." He sighs. "It's good money, especially since I'm not getting c-rank missions without a team. That's one of the reasons Jiji is letting me work here."


"Nobody has done anything bad enough to need replacing besides that little fool?" Kiriko asks, coming back from the pharmacy with more supplies for the special scrolls.


"No, most of the new teams failed miserably, the school is still trying to recover and the current students are having to deal with the new classes and can't keep up. Even those who have clans that should have been teaching them better are having problems."


Kiriko shakes her head in dismay, even with the changing classes none of her clan would be having a problem. Tio nods in agreement. "Your clan works for everything they want, the Dobe would have been running sobbing at nobody kissing his ass." Naruto says. He'd talked to Jiji and learned all about the clan, and why, like him, they're looked down upon by some of the others.


"You're coming out this weekend for a training session, right? Anko's coming out to help teach us."


"I'd be welcome?"


"Wouldn't have offered you a spot otherwise. Bring gear, you'll be staying at least one night. The loft over the hay barn is a good place to bed down and the shower works."


"Does everybody live out there?"


"Those of us not active shinobi or kunoichi. They live in the village in case of a mission. We have a compound in the village in case any of us need to stay over. It takes us less than ten minutes to get from the farm to the gates by the trees."


Gai follows Naruto through the gates at a distance. He doesn't know where the boy is heading and as his acting sensei he is concerned. Kakashi should normally be doing this but he's off on another assignment. And as loathe as he is to admit it about his rival, not the best teacher for the boy.


Naruto arrives at a farm and is greeted by the woman who owns the shop he'd stopped at earlier, the one where it appears he works when he's not training. She looks up and he swears the young woman can see him.


"You might as well come out Gai, since you're already here." Kiriko's father says, rolling his eyes.


"I was concerned where Naruto was going."


"You'd be the first adult in his life that was then." One of the clan women says in disgust. "His teacher just dropped him off here the first day he worked here and left, leaving him to find his own way back and forth the rest of the three weeks."


Gai curses softly. "Yes, he might have had another assignment but somebody should have been around in case a teacher was needed. Naruto jumps into things headfirst, a competent teacher would work with him. I'm afraid Kakashi is beginning to backslide into not wanting to teach."


"I believe so too, I had to teach Naruto a few things any other student would have learned within their first few weeks with a teacher."


Gai is quiet when he returns to the village later that night. He had known of the Izuno clan but he had never worked with any of their members in the village. The idea that a fellow Shinobi would look down upon another one for not having a clan gift or using a flashy jutsu is abhorrent to him, especially after taking Lee on as a student. He has got where he is by hard work, just like the clan. He'd been offered a spot at the training session the next day and he plans to bring Tenten and Lee along. Neji would not be a good fit to work with the clan. He's one of those who would be looking down on them. Even with being a member of the branch house.


Tenten is blinking the next morning when she finds out what is going on while Lee looks like he's falling in love. They immediately join the others in training, some of the shinobi walking around the others adjusting forms.


"Do you do this all the time?" She asks Kiriko when they break for lunch. The clan members who aren't training had been cooking all morning and are filling tables with food.


"Weekends twice a month though whoever is training us changes as those members who are ninjas might be on assignment at the time. We don't have a kekkei genkai or use flashy jutsus, we just use good old-fashioned hard work." She looks at Lee pointedly who is in conversation with three of the clan members and Gai then at Tenten. Who sighs and nods. After lunch different exercises are introduced and they start heading back when it starts to get dark.


"Gai, you've been asked to go to the Tower when you returned." one of the gate guards tells the group when they return to the village. Gai nods and heads that way, his students looking at his back and following him.


"I was not aware I had summoned the two of you as well." Sarutobi tells Tenten and Lee.


"Gai is our sensei. If this will affect our training we should know." Tenten says quietly, coming to attention. Lee nods in agreement.


"Very well. I asked you to come here Gai to see if you would have any objections to Naruto joining team nine permanently. I know your students have been working a year longer than his former team so it would be extra work getting him caught up, not to mention integrating him with your team."


"Sir, I was intending to ask you if it would be possible to become his new Sensei anyway." Gai says.


"Explain." Sarutobi snaps.


"I followed Naruto yesterday out of the village, concerned that he was leaving since I knew of no missions. I found him joining a clan in a training session. I also found out that Kakashi had taken him to the compound one time on a three week assignment and left, leaving him to make his own way back and forth the rest of the time."


Sarutobi starts swearing.


"I knew that little fool would start backsliding after being reprimanded for not being a teacher to Sakura and Naruto." he finally sighs. "I am glad he found some mentors in the Izuno clan." He sighs again. "Kakashi was not meant to be a teacher. The civilian council only wanted him to train Uchiha because of the Sharingen." Gai nods. Then looks at his students. "Do you two have any problems with Naruto joining us?"


"No Gai-Sensei, but Neji might."


"I will talk to him." Sarutobi excuses them and they leave the Tower. "Gai-Sensei, do you think something happened to Kakashi?"


"No, I believe he was given a choice and made the one that benefits him but not his student." Gai sighs. He arrives at the Hyuga compound. "I need to speak with Neji, it's about a change to the team."


"Is there a problem Gai-Sensei?" Neji asks, not quite rushing to the compound gates.


"I have been asked by the Hokage if it would be possible to have Naruto join the team on a permanent basis. It would be a good bit of work, catching him up to where you and the others are and integrating him. Tenten and Lee spent the day with him training outside the village with the Izuno clan and they have no objections."


Neji closes his eyes and silently counts to ten before opening them. "I have no objections Sensei. I . ..I was going to come talk to you about this in the morning." Gai motions him to walk with him. "I. . .I have to. . . I must leave the corps. I have been feeling ill and went to the hospital for an examination today. I have an untreated infection from a mission that is affecting my heart. Using Chakra is making it worse." He squawks when Gai pulls him into a hug. "What are you plans for the future?"


"I will find work in the village. I must find an apartment in the village as well. The elders want me to leave the compound by the morning."


"Talk to Kiriko Izuno at the shop, I know she has many job openings as well as apartments for rent."


"Thank you. . .Gai-Sen. . .can I still call you Gai-Sensei?"


"Of course, you will forever be my student even if you are no longer a ninja. You are not the first to have to retire due to injury or illness."


"Tenten, a moment." Gai says as he knocks at the door of her home.


"Gai-Sensei?" His student asks quietly as she allows him inside.


"I have talked to Neji, he is being forced to leave the corps for health reasons. An untreated infection is affecting his heart." Her father sighs and his daughter moans. "He will be moving out of the compound as well as finding work in the village. I told him to talk to Kiriko Izuno, she knows where he can find work and an apartment."


"Yeah, she's the richest woman in the village. Much to the horror of some of the fools trying to look down on her." Tenten says.


"Only the village?" her father says. "Try the entire country. If not all of them." Tenten stares at him. "Oh yes, the other ninja clans might look down on them for not having a kekkei genkai or use flashy jutsus, they work for everything they have. And they have a lot."


Neji walks quietly in the store the next day. Kiriko holds up a hand. "I already know, Gai left a message on the door. You've still got a job here making food, helping everybody else will pretty much be a full time job. Tio will show you around to the apartments when he gets out of school."


"Thank you Kiriko. And thank you for not telling the others I've been working here for a while. The elders would not like it."


"The elders can blow it out their wrinkled asses. Are you okay?"


"I will be. The medication is working on the infection. As a civilian I can live forever, but as a ninja. . .it would be too much strain."


"Talk to Shikaku Nara's wife. . .I want to say she had a brother go through something similar." Kiriko says slowly. "Oh perfect, just who I was thinking of." She says as the door opens. "Neji. . ."


"We heard, the story is all over town. That's why I'm here." The man she dimly recognizes says. "I went through the same thing." He leads Neji off. "The family nursed me through it, they can nurse you through it. It's a troublesome infection." his voice trails off in the distance as Kiriko snickers softly.


"Yes, it does seem to be a favorite phrase for most of the male clan members." Shikamaru's mother says, rolling her eyes. "Is Neji going to be working here permanently?" Since she's one of the clan members who works for Kiriko she knows he works there when not on a mission or training.


"Yes, between the scrolls here and the meals for the ANBU, there's enough work for him full-time. Once he's recovered he can move into an apartment if he wants to. That's if your family lets him." she chuckles. "That will be the hard part." She gathers a few items, pays for them, and walks off.


Naruto rushes to the training grounds team nine usually uses. "I just heard, is Neji okay?"


"He will be, I told him to go to your friend Kiriko for a job and place to live since the Hyuga elders threw him out as soon as he was no longer useful to the clan." Gai says in disgust.


"That's stupid. He could still train the younger kids until they attend the academy. Lots of former ninja do that for one reason or another."


"Yes, the elders know that. . .now. At the time they just saw him as a liability and not an asset. Needless to say, he refuses to return to the compound and his uncle. . .and the Hokage, refuse to allow his eyes to be sealed."


"Awwwwww." Naruto coos sarcastically. "Yes, that was everybody else's reaction. The news is all over town and everybody is talking bad about them. Much to their horror." Tenten smirks.


"The team? Are you still going to be okay with losing a member."


"Yeah, the Hokage was talking to Gai-Sensei last night about adding you to the roster permantly since Kakashi seems to be accepting a new assignment. Not that he was much of a teacher to you before, the Hokage was furious when he found out he basically dumped you at the farm, making you find your own way back and forth. The function of a sensei is to be there for their team." Tenten says in disgust.


"Kakashi was only there for the Uchiha."


"Indeed." Gai says. "Now, I have given the others their assignments for the morning. Come with me and tell me everything that Kakashi or the Izunos have taught you."


"Where is Neji?" Tio asks when he comes in from school that afternoon.


"At the Nara compound, I remembered one of Shikamaru's uncles had the same thing happen to him. They showed up at the store five minutes after he did and took him off." Tio snickers. "Is he still going to work here?"


"Yep, between all the clans and the ANBU orders, he's pretty much got a full time job helping with the cooking." Tio snickers again as he settles in the back room. "Why did I agree to continue with school?"


"Because you're an idiot?"


"Oh yeah, that." Their father rolls his eyes as he comes into the store. His children are such drama queens.


"Anything we need?"


"No, it's been quiet. Everybody is busy badmouthing the Hyuga elders for throwing Neji away. The store's been dead, the apartment buildings are all in good shape, and we're still good on supplies since I made that extra trip. Go find some of your old friends and raise a little hell if you want."





"No, we will not seal his eyes permanently. The medication he is taking for the infection means he is unlikely to have children and he cannot be a ninja anymore." Hiashi says firmly three days later.


"But he's no longer under our control." One of the elders wails.


"Then you shouldn't have thrown him out as soon as he was no longer a use to you. By your own words, I should throw you out since you're no longer ninjas." He wails louder. "Damn drama queens. And now I sound like the village children." he sighs.




At Tenten's father's shop, the bell over the door rings as Shuisui walks in.


"Oh good, you're here."


"You sent a begging for help message?"


"Yes, I have three special orders." They go over everything and start working.


"Are you the only one who does your clan's weapons?" He asks as they settle metal stock in the fire to start getting hot.


"Nope, I've taught most of the younger kids in case something happens so we have a good supply of weapons on hand in an emergency. Kiriko brings supplies for me when she brings in supplies for you."


"Good. Tenten does not have the gift of working with the metal although she loves weapons and is very good with them. I was hoping one of your clan would like a job working here with the thought of taking over this side of the business when I retire."


"Talk to Tio, he's usually in Kiriko's store afternoons after school. He's about ready to graduate and he's got a good hand for metalworking. Some of the younger girls work with metal but they're more focuses on decorative pieces for kunoichi. And civilians who want to look more impressive than they are."




A medical nin appears in the door of the store a couple hours later. She walks inside and Kiriko sees Sakura following her quietly.


"I understand you have medical supplies in your scrolls?" She asks imperiously. Kiriko decides she already hates her. "Yep, Hokage and Lady Tsunade approved."


"Oh." she deflates suddenly. "Can I see them please?" Kiriko opens a scroll and the woman looks over everything, her attitude totally different from when she'd entered the floor. "Are they used often?"


"Yep, at least one team member has one when they go out. Naruto used it to save that one's life and kept her from losing her leg. Not bad for an annoyance, right?" Kiriko sneers. "Unlike your oh so special Sasuke."


Sakura ducks her head, she's slowly beginning to realize how her attitude made her a target of much of the village. "Yes, I've apologized to Naruto for being a bitch to him. Kakashi-sensei. . ."


"Kakashi is no longer a team leader, I don't know what he did but the Hokage asked Gai if he'd be willing to integrate him into team nine permanently. He said he was going to ask him to allow him to be his new teacher anyway. Seems both of them were annoyed to find out Kakashi took Naruto out to our farm to work the fields and just left him to make his own way back and forth for three weeks." Sakura stares at her and moans.


"Sakura!" Ino calls as she walks out of the store. She hugs her briefly. "How are you doing?"


"Well, I can't say my family was sorry to see me leaving the field but they wish I hadn't been hurt. Are you on an assignment?" Sakura is happy that her friendship with Ino is recovering from their stupidity over Sasuke.


"No, we're just getting in some extra training. Meet me at Ichiruko's in a couple hours for dinner and talk?"


"I'll be there."


"What was that all about?" Tio asks when they medical nin and Sakura have left.


"Oh, every couple of years somebody at the hospital gets a wild hair up their ass about medical supplies being sold here. They try getting it stopped but something like Sakura only living and walking on her own two legs because of them happens and they walk off pouting. Like I said, the Hokage and Lady Tsunade approve the scrolls and they skulk off with their tail between their legs looking like a fool."




One of the ANBU in civilian clothes leans in the door. "The Hokage wants one of your clan on the civilian council to replace that fool woman. Any suggestions."


"Our father." Tio says.


Kiriko nods, listing off another five names. He nods and heads off. "Dad is going to kill us if he does get on the council." Tio says, snickering.


Kiriko rolls her eyes. "Half his old cronies are on it already, attending the meetings will be just another excuse to join them getting drunk and playing cards." One of the clan women who'd been coming in the door cackles, nodding vigorously. She looks over at Kiriko. "Next week to start cooking?"


"Yeah, we've got a good selection left." Kiriko looks at the meal wall. "Neji has a permanent job helping with the cooking now." She nods in satisfaction and heads back off.


A shadow at the door has them blinking. "Uncle Hiruzen." Kiriko says since the Hokage is in civilian clothes.


"Please tell Naruto to continue with his pranks? The rest of the civilians are getting complacent and the ANBU are bored." He says dryly. "And your father told me to come beat you two for suggesting him as a council member."


"Oh please, the meetings will be an excuse to go off, get drunk, and play cards with his friends." Kiriko says, waving a hand. The Hokage snickers but nods, nobody would know it was him dressed in normal clothes but the clan is used to seeing him in civilian clothes and calling him uncle Hiruzen while wearing them.


An hour later Naruto is seen walking down the street and Tio grabs him, dragging him into the store. Naruto looks at him as Gai hurries inside after him.


"The Hokage sent a message. He wants you to continue with the pranks, the civilians are getting complacent and the ANBU are bored." Kiriko says, holding up a hand as Gai starts to speak. Naruto blinks a couple of times and starts cackling. "I had a few ideas but the mess with Sakura and becoming part of Gai-Sensei's team delayed them."


Hiruzen looks out the window of the Tower at the swearing. Yep, Kiriko had passed along his message to Naruto.


The following week the new building is bustling as the first clan members start making their meals, Neji is busy preparing everything to be cooked and other than sitting on a stool and taking more breaks than he usually would seems to be handling the job well.


Kiriko looks at the full to overstuffed wall of meal scrolls, nodding in satisfaction. Screaming from the other building has her running into the building. Stopping and staring she cackles and walks off, grabbing Tenten as she walks past the building.


"Run to the tower and get some ANBU." She tells her and the boys. "It appears the Hyuga elders didn't want to listen to their clan head and the Hokage telling them no, they weren't allowed to bind Neji's eyes for not being an active ninja. The clan members working on filling scrolls took exception to their attitude. Unfortunately for them, they actually train and keep active. Unlike the elders."


"Is. . .is Neji okay?" Tenten asks, dismayed as Lee runs off.


"Yeah, they got him out of there as soon as they tried breaking in to grab him. Because he's demeaning the Hyuga name by working with the other clans."


"Fools." Naruto says in disgust.


"We're talking the Hyuga, their reputation is the only thing some of them care about." Kiriko says, rolling her eyes. A few minutes later several ANBU appear as if from thin air and she whistles, the beaten elders being dragged out of the other building and tossed to them.


"I'm going to be suing them too for property damage and repayment for anything they destroyed. Plus lost wages for my employees." Kiriko calls as they're dragged away. One of the ANBU nods silently.


"So what happened?" Naruto asks a few days later as he's called to the Tower for an escort mission. He knows the person they're going to be escorting is Kiriko.


"The poor devastated dears had their eyes bound just like they wanted Neji's eyes bound." Kiriko says sarcastically. "They're busy working in the sewers on permanent punishment detail making the money to repay me for the damages. Or rather repay Konoha the money the village is giving me for my troubles."


"Why are we escorting you? I know you do these trips by yourself all the time." Naruto asks.


"There's still some fools among the main house that are complaining about what happened. The clan head is dealing with them but the Hokage wants me to have an escort until they are dealt with." Kiriko sighs. "That's one reason we're leaving from the village and not the farm."


Gai shakes his head in dismay. That's not a youthful thing to do.


They take to the trees as soon as they're out of the village, Gai nodding in satisfaction that Kiriko can easily keep up with them even if she's not a Konoha ninja. As they're beginning to tire she drops out of the trees. "This is where I normally camp for the night. There's plenty of wood for a fire."


The tents are set up, Tenten sharing with Kiriko while the others take a larger one. Gai is gratified to see she has no problems sharing duties with the others.


"I make this trip at least twice a year, I'm used to camping." Is all she says.


Shizune blinks as she sees a familiar figure three days later. She pokes Tsunade asTonton rushes towards her. Kiriko calmly swoops him up and carries him back to them. "Long story, I'll explain after dinner." She tells them her room number at the hotel and goes back to shopping for supplies.


Gai joins them at the unofficial meeting that night, Lady Tsunade wincing and swearing. "Yeah." Kiriko snorts. "So I'm here replacing the supplies destroyed in the fight. Thankfully we had extra from the ANBU order."


"The Nara. . ."


"Already swooped him up and are nursing him back to health since they had it happen to a clan member."


"I'm sending a letter back with you, there's no damn reason for us to be losing Shinobi to a damn infection. We know that area makes them more common. A more than casual exam when they return will catch it in time before any damage is done."


"Come back and take over the hospital? I had another medical nin come storming into the shop throwing a fit because we sell medical supplies in a scroll. At least until she learned that it was approved of by you and the Hokage."


"Idiots, the supplies are the best thing to keep an injured ninja alive until they can get help short of having a medical nin on the team."


"Yes, but they're oh so special and everybody should do what they want." Kiriko drawls. "So I'm going to destroy the casinos after I get the supplies I need to replace. And a few other things while I'm here."


A week later they arrive back at the gate, the group appearing at the Tower to announce the mission completion. The Hokage just looks at her since she had joined them at the Tower. "I met Lady Tsunade while we were there and she sent back a letter complaining about losing ninja when the hospital knows the infection is common in that area and a more than casual exam when a team returns should catch it before it does any permanent damage."


"Yes, I have been complaining about that myself." The Hokage accepts the scroll from her, opening it up to read before sending it off by runner to the hospital after Gai's team have excused themselves to deliver the supplies she'd purchased to the store. "Maybe this will convince your grandmother to get off her ass and come back to Konoha."


"Now, bank?"


"Yes, I stopped to the casinos. And Naruto has the same luck I did. I have a scroll for him too. I know the bank would have a fit about him opening an account with this type of money. Probably try claiming it was stolen."


The Hokage sighs and nods. An ANBU heads off and the bank president arrives at the Tower. The new account is opened, Kiriko giving him the paperwork when she walks into the store where he's busy moving the new supplies that they had gone to purchase.


"How are we on supplies? Beyond the meal scrolls?"


"Good, the emergency rations take a hit whenever a team is stuck working the sewers." Tio says. "We'll have to buy more the next time you go shopping for the store and the others."


"Yeah, that should be after the first of the year."


"Any problems keeping up with a team?" her father asks.


"No, Gai looked concerned a second but relieved when I immediately took to the trees and was able to keep up with them."


"Keep up? You were beating us half the time." Naruto snorts. "I know a lot of the more stupid ninja would be howling at you showing them up and the civilians would be complaining about you playing ninja."


"The civilians need to get a damn life. Like that fool woman complaining because her baby was dirty and tired after cleaning the building they're only out for power. This is a ninja village, not a civilian village. They want to be in charge, they need to go somewhere else." Kiriko snorts. "That's why I only deliver to a limited number of stores on my trips, the others would complain too much, they can pay through the nose of getting their supplies later."


"Or the clan just opens a similar store and buys them out when their business goes under." Her father snorts. "Oh, you're going to be losing Tio at the store in a few months. Shuisui was helping Tenten's father with some special orders. He's going to be working there after classes and his schoolwork with an eye at taking over the business. Tenten doesn't have the gift for working with metal." Kiriko nods. "I was looking at Madi coming in anyway."


Her brother and father think a moment and nod. She's getting old enough to have a job.


Kiriko settles into the water in the bathing room at the compound when they return home, the hot water relaxing muscle she didn't know was tense. Traveling with an escort is different than traveling by herself. The other clan members laugh but nod in agreement. "You like working on your own. Being part of a group is different. You weren't in charge, Gai was."


Kiriko nods. "Has anybody heard rumors about the train coming this direction?"


"It would make travel more comfortable. Most civilians don't leave the village they were born in because things are too difficult."


"What's going on?" Kiriko asks a couple days later when she sees people working in one of the areas they don't normally use.


"We've been hearing rumors that there's going to be an attack on the village and we're putting together a bolt hole."


Kiriko sighs. "I'll start getting in supplies once it's finished, I might have to hit another casino." The clan elder snickers at her, patting her on the shoulder. "Should we pass this along?"


"Not until things come closer one way or the other."


"What about our friends?"


"Most of them are ninja and would be right in the middle of an attack."


Kiriko sighs again and closes her eyes. The clan elder pats her on the shoulder again. "We still have time to change things, start with getting our ninja friends better weapons. That's one of the reasons Shuisui and Tenten's father have been getting special orders from the Hokage. And getting Naruto a competent teacher. Kakashi is suited for other things than teaching, the Hokage might be sending him and that little bastard Uchiha on a suicide mission. He's got enough semen stored from him and the other former clan members to rebuild the clan if they need to, Without the whole, the last of my clan bs."


"I think most of the 'greater' clans in Konoha could be wiped out except for a few people." Kiriko snorts. "Or at least the bad apples weeded out or killed off. Hyuga's case in point." She looks at the elder. "Is the old tunnels still under the village?"


"Yes, but all the access points were blocked up. But yes, the civilians in town could take shelter there in case of an attack. They closed them up because they were too close to the sewers and the smell bothered people."


"Let them get their fool asses killed then." Kiriko drawls. "Is there a time limit?"


"Three years. We've seen it happening during a chunin test."




"Yes. We're up for it."


"Don't have one here for a few years then, cite the fact we're rebuilding the academy curriculum. It doesn't hurt the story that last year's graduates all failed their tests or were forced from their teams and this years doesn't look to be much better. And really, all you're doing is showing off. Winner gets the promotion. Big whoop, get a battlefield promotion. If Kakashi was still Naruto's teacher, I see the fool putting them in it for the chance to not have to teach them anymore."


The others listening to her nod.


"I'll go talk to the Hokage, see if he wants to make multiple scrolls of the medical supplies to have on hand."


"Yes." the Hokage says firmly the next morning when she asks the question. "I'll get you the funds, Naruto's team can go off with you again for the supplies and we can use the academy students to fill the scrolls. And to create them."


Naruto looks at Kiriko when they get the escort mission assignment.


"The Hokage wants to make multiple scrolls of medical supplies, beyond what I sell at the store. He's paying me to go get the supplies to make them and the students at the academy will be making the scrolls and filling them."


"Will the teachers be overseeing this?"


"Along with some of the medical nin, including your former teammate Sakura." Naruto snickers despite himself. "Yeah, that was my reaction."


They return a week later, Kiriko dropping an extra large scroll on the Hokage's desk. She accepts a scroll in return that she slides in her clothes to read later at his look. Quickly making her way home before the storm that looks like it's going to start blowing in she hands the scroll to her father since his name was on it.


"Do I want to know?" She says at the look of pure glee on his face that has been seen on her brother's face more than once.


"No, not really." He hurriedly grabs some other clan members as she heads for the bathing chamber to soak. These trips with an escort are not the same as going on her own. She aches. No, this is just more proof she was never meant to be a ninja.


Yelling from the street a few days later has her running to the door.


"What's going on?"


"The arena, it collapsed and caught on fire during the night. They found bodies in the debris." A civilian says, running down the street.


Nope, didn't want to know she thinks quietly, sliding behind the counter again and picking up the paper she'd been making notes of for a new, improved medical scroll for the hospital. Oh perfect, here's Sakura now. Reaching under the counter she hands her a special scroll at her quiet words and slides the page across the counter. "Look that over and see if it would work in emergency supplies for the hospital?" Sakura blinks at her, looks at the page, reads it then stops and reads it again. "I need to show this to the others."


"Yeah, they'd be the ones creating them and using them in an emergency when they can't get to the hospital." Kiriko says. "Something like this. . ." she waves a hand at the men and women still running down the street. "Made me think of it."


"That, natural disasters when the hospitals are overrun or gone, and times of war." One of the other medical nin sighs when Sakura brings up the topic of the new scroll when she returns to the hospital. "She gave us a good groundwork to build upon."


"Why would Sasuke have broken out and torched the arena?" Naruto asks quietly the next day when he arrives at Kiriko's shop to work helping fill scrolls of supplies for teams going on missions.


"Just meeting him when he came to the shop he came across as a spoiled brat who thought the world owed him whatever he wanted. He would never be able to be able to become a chunin, hell he wasn't even a genin now. He was being held responsible for his own actions, just like the former Hyuga elders. And he hated it. If he couldn't be a chunin, neither can anybody else. Just like they hated not being able to hurt Neji after they were so stupid as to throw him away when he couldn't be a ninja anymore."


The end of the year comes and Tio moves from being at the shop to working with Tenten's father. Madi replaces him as a part-time helper at the shop when she's out of school and she sends her off with a list of her regular customers to tell them it was nearly time for her regular trip out of the village to go shopping.


"Dad, can you and a couple of the others handle the shop while I'm gone? Normally Naruto could handle it with Tio but he's working with Tenten's dad. Madi's still too new on the job yet."


"Yeah, we can take turns being there until you get back."


She wraps her arms around him in a hug and takes to the trees. At her usual stopping place she sets up her camp and settles in the tent after her meal.


A week later she returns and drops onto the ground at the farm. The others come out and she grins. "Much easier not racing a team." She pulls three large scrolls from her clothes. "Main house." A girl takes in and grins. "Shuisui's forge." That gets taken as well and placed on the door. "The working buildings." Again it's taken away. "This is for the bolthole, I know it's not needed yet but I figured get it ahead. And it can be used elsewhere."


The clan elder looks at her and she rattles off the list, the other woman nodding in satisfaction and putting it away until needed as Kiriko takes to the trees again, dropping down by the gate. The guards grin at her and welcome her back.


Her father is at the counter when she arrives after stopping at the bank and he grins and gives her a hug. "Stopped at the farm first?"


"Yeah, I dropped off all our supplies there." She hands him the receipts from the latest bank deposit and he shakes her head and laughs, taking the scrolls of supplies and putting everything away with Naruto and Neji in the back and the other building.


"How are the orders coming along?" She asks her father. She'd been gone when they first started going out.


"Good, the scrolls are delivered weekly to the tower along with the dishes and silverware being returned." The scrolls are kept in a locked room in the other building that only two people have keys to, herself and her father.


She makes the rest of the deliveries the next couple of days, looking around the village and smiling. The more annoying civilian shops had to raise their prices as the cost of getting in supplies had been increased by shippers. But nobody was buying their products when the same or something similar could be brought at another store and they were losing money.


"I know this is a long shot Kiriko, but do you know anybody who sells fabric when you go shopping?" One of the working women asks a couple weeks later.


"A number of places. Let me know colors and fabric and I'll make a trip out. The elders have been talking about refinishing furniture at the farm so I was looking at making a special trip that direction anyway."


Two weeks later she takes to the trees again, returning two weeks later with a number of scrolls. Half of them are dropped off at the farm and she walks to the bad part of town, emptying the scrolls and getting kisses on cheeks and thanks from the women who inspect the fabric in glee.


Hiruzen just looks at Kiriko when an ANBU drags her off to the tower.


"One of the working women asked me if I knew anybody who sells fabric on my trips since the stores don't like their business." Hiruzen sighs as the ANBU silently snickers behind their mask. "I said several and the clan elders are getting ideas about refinishing furniture, painting. . ." Kiriko makes a and so on and so on and so on gesture that everybody who is married is very familiar with. "So I was going anyway and was coming back from delivering the fabric for them when I got hauled in."


"I had wondered why you were going off schedule."


Kiriko tips her head back to look at the ANBU. "Do I need to schedule a trip out for your people?"


"Let me talk to the bosses. We've got floors of costumes and other clothes to sort through."


Her father looks at her when she exits the Tower. They walk to the gate, the guards nodding at them as they walk out of sight before taking to the trees.


"The Hokage wanted to know why I left off schedule, everybody just sighed when I said the shops don't like the working women's business so they asked me if I knew places that sell fabric and I was going anyway because the clan elders are getting ideas about redecorating. When they're in that mood, it's easier to just nod and tell them to give you the money and the list of what they want."


"Time to look into taking those stores over too." Her father snorts.


"I also asked the ANBU who took me to the tower if I needed to make a trip out for them. They said they'd talk to their bosses, they have so much clothes to sort through." Her father nods as they arrive at the farm, dropping to the ground.


"The civilians would be horrified to learn the working women get their clothes made by the ANBU."


"Has anybody heard any rumors about the old Uchiha district being up for sale?" one of the clan women asks at dinner.


"Not up for sale, but that little fool lost his precious heritage when the bastard attacked Sakura. The ANBU went in and cleared everything out after the massacre and again after he lost it, putting anything useful away for any future Uchiha." One of the elders says. "I've been in talks with Hiruzen and we're in the lead of getting the land since we plan on using it for homes and businesses instead of the other clans who just want to enlarge their compounds."


A list of businesses that can move out there if the buildings are suitable is quickly made and the next morning Kiriko's father drops it on the Hokage's desk. He looks it over and nods in satisfaction. "The land is yours then, cost is one ryo per year for the next ten years. And the ANBU inspect everything again."


"Deal, and the new graduates can get the jobs of cleaning up the buildings and tearing down any that need it. I'll send Kiriko off again to destroy some more casinos for the money we'll need to create the shops, I know the Daimyo's wife will be happy to be able to come to the stores and look at clothes and buy stuff."


"So will some of the richer merchant's wives. Those you haven't bankrupted yet." Hiruzen snorts. "Off with you and thank you for giving the village another way to weed out the more useless graduates from the academy. If they whine about cleaning buildings and doing basic work, they won't make it as a ninja."


"We got it." He tells his daughter when he enters the store. "I'll have the elders get a list together of what we need, how much money it will take to do everything, and you can head off in a couple of months. Maybe even your usual trip."




Naruto looks at her in a silent question from where he's getting a month's worth of food scrolls. Gai is there buying his own as well.


"We're looking at opening a few more stores. Dad said we got the land, now we're just working out the details on what I need to buy and how many casinos I have to hit. Yes," he says at his opening mouth. "I can hire your team for an escort mission. I know even working here you're not getting the money the more active teams are who are off getting bounties."


"Those teams are also dying young because they have bounties of their own." Kurenai snorts as she walks into the store with her team. "Our teams don't get the big money but we're working for the village just like the rest of them." Gai nods.


"Quick question." Kiriko asks quietly. "Is any other village going to be holding a chunin exam now that Konoha is out with the arena destroyed? While I was off buying fabric I was hearing complaints from merchants who were looking forward to making money from the nobles and other people flocking to Konoha." She scowls. "I'm disgusted to say I've heard similar complaints from merchants here in the village."


"Who?" Kurenai snaps. Kiriko pulls her and Gai in the back room and lists off merchants, many of whom her clan is actively destroying. "I know Ino's mother at the flower shop has heard them complaining too."


"Damn, we're going on a mission." She looks at Gai.


"We are off, I can bring this to the Hokage's attention." He says. "And talk to Ino's mother if she's heard them."


Ino's mother nods firmly when she's pulled to the Tower. "Yes, I have." She lists off most of the same names, listing a few more. "Kiriko did not mention them." Gai says slowly.


"Kiriko's store is basically geared towards ninjas, the type of people complaining would never lower themselves to shop there." She says. "They buy flower arrangements, candy, fancy soaps. . ."


"Like that fool woman who wanted to join the council for the power."


"Yes, but being on a civilian council in a ninja village would be beneath them. They picture themselves as being the Daimyo's companions." Ino's mother snorts. "With the idea of becoming Daimyo themselves no doubt. The poor dears would be horrified at the simple shopkeeper they look down upon is richer than they can ever dream of being."


"Yes, because her clan works for what they have. While most of them inherited their money." The Hokage sighs. "I see I will need to deal with them."


"That was evil." Her father says, shaking his finger at her later that night. "It was the truth." She snorts. "I just happened to ask an innocent question in the right company."


"And it gets them out of our hair and we can buy the shops if they haven't been ruined by their greed and stupidity." a clan woman snorts. "I still say our clan runs the village, we just let Hiruzen deal with the whiners."


"And the paperwork." Somebody else laughs.


A couple of weeks later Kiriko's father leans in the shop, catching his daughter's eye and motioning towards the back room. Since Naruto had just brought back dishes she busies herself filling the dishwasher and running it before looking at her father.


"Hiruzen needs a major distraction that will involve the ANBU and a good portion of the ninja force while he orders others to take out those complaining about not getting what they wanted with the chunin exam out of Konoha for the forseeable future. Do you have any ideas?"


Kiriko starts to say something then shakes her head. "Wait, maybe I do. I saw a game when I was traveling. At the time I thought it was just a ninja wannabe thing but now. . ." She leaves her father and Madi covering the shop and hurries to the Tower.


"I have an idea, what is the timeline?"


"Ideally six weeks, but I can hold out longer."


"It will be tight." She says slowly. "Summon Asuma, I think he might know what I'm talking about."


"While you part of the Daimyo's guards, did you ever hear of a sport called paintball?" She asks when he arrives. He blinks, then moans. "Oh dear gods, yes. The idiot nobles played it constantly."


"Give me a noble package then. I'll travel to the capitol and buy the supplies, complaining that the backwards nation where I am forced to live now knows nothing of the sport. What team would be better as an undercover escort as my underlings?"


"I'd say Kurenai's and mine combined if you do as underlings and you hired a ninja team as escort." Asuma says slowly. His father nods. "Kiba and Shino would stand out as underlings but as an escort. . ." His father nods again.


"Hinata, Ino, and Tenten as my female companions with Kurenai as our escort. The boys as Ninja escorts along with you and Gai. I can hire a carriage in the capitol to make an entrance."


"Taking the train will cut a week off coming and going."




Kurenai, Gai, and their teams are summoned to the Tower and given the assignment.


The girls shake their heads as they dress in the fancy clothes before getting on the train, how can people move in these outfits? And how does Kiriko turn herself into a vapid noble so completely?


"Yes, the area I have been banished to knows nothing about paintball. I need everything." Kiriko drawls in a bored noble voice at the store. "I mean everything. My companions here know nothing of the sport. I can only make the trip every year or so, so I need to stock up on whatever you can get me while I am here."


Three weeks later Kiriko slumps onto a seat, she is tired and even the ninja are dragging. She tosses the scroll on the Hokage's desk. "Seventeen dozen pallets of paintballs, there's eight cases in each pallet and each case is two thousand paintballs divided into four bags of five hundred each. Each hopper holds two hundred paintballs and the air cartridges that power the guns will need to be pumped up every time they fill the hopper and if the shoot too many balls too quickly. There's six dozen cases of guns and each case holds a dozen guns. There is nothing more to be had in the city, I brought it all. Stopping at every store there and at any larger village that might have supplies." Hiruzen nods in satisfaction. "Thank you my dear, now off with you. Your father is probably already on his way since the news you had returned made it's rounds."


"Okay, how are we going to handle this?" Asuma asks his father after Kiriko and her father have left the office. The door opens again and Kiriko looks back inside. "Academy.Graduation.Exercise." She says slowly.


Asuma blinks and starts laughing despite himself while his father puts his head on his desk and moans.


"Look at it this way, the students can also be put to work cleaning everything up afterwards." She smirks.


"Go.Away.Kiriko," Hiruzen moans. "I already have a headache."


"The teachers can grade it as an exercise while we handle everything else." Asuma tells his father. "And as Kiriko said, they can scrub the damage."


"Do you, Gai, and Kurenai know how to operate these things?" His father asks, his head still on the desk.


"Yes, and so do the genin. I swear I saw Hinata's eyes glowing as she was aiming at targets. There can be an area set up with extras, the students will be 'out' if they cannot make it the safe areas to reload their weapons."


Iruka and the other teachers at the academy start to complain but stop and start thinking about how this can be turned into lessons. "Plain coveralls including face masks so nobody knows who another student is? An enemy that you have to shoot or be shot?"


"Teachers and jonin shadowing them to count them as out?"


"Yes, I brought our own. So did Naruto. And Hinata. And Tenten." She says at her father's look when they've returned to the farm. "I see the new genin doing a lot of scrubbing for a few weeks." The others snigger despite themselves.


"I suggest we put a couple bedrolls upstairs in the store if we can't get away."


"Already have them upstairs as part of our emergency supplies." Tio says.


Naruto leans in the door of the shop one day and 'looks' at Kiriko. "Madi, we're closing a little early." she says calmly, shutting up the shop and walking towards the gate. Asuma nods as they walk past. The family looks at them when they drop from the trees at the farm. "It's going to happen tonight. Naruto tipped me off and Asuma nodded when he saw us leaving."


"Then we'll all going to be safe inside in case it escapes the walls." One of the clan elders says.


The following morning Tio and Madi are pointing and staring at the new decorations as Kiriko shakes her head. She can see welts on various people and snickers silently, the students must have found them just as annoying as she does it seems. Unlocking the door and shaking her head as the nearly paint covered windows she turns the placard to open and sits down to wait for the others to arrive. The clan members who work for her slowly trickle in, shaking their heads in dismay.


Two weeks later a team of the academy students arrive at her store, starting to scrub the paint off the windows and doors. One swears and picks up a rock to throw, Kiriko immediately grabbing her arm and pulling it behind her back. Walking her off while she swears and bringing an instructor running.


"What happened?"


"This stupid little shit didn't like having to clean my windows and picked up a rock to break them instead, this way her work was done for the day. She's tired." She says, repeating what the girl had been whining.


"But you have such big windows. Why?" She wails. "It's not right we should have to clean them."


"Fucking idiot." A passing student with bucket and cleaning supplies snorts in disgust. "Your family has a shop, should we go break their windows so we don't have to clean them?" The academy student stops in disbelief and starts screeching.


The instructor grabs her by the collar, dragging her off. "I have the feeling she just failed."


"Yeah. She was an annoying brat who thought her parents money meant she was so much better than everybody else, even the kids from major clans. All the students hated her and she kept trying to say we were making her fail. Her own stupidity made her fail." the student says, putting his supplies away with the others for the next day.


She returns to her shop to find the other four scrubbing the windows. They pause when they see her returning, almost seeming to sigh in relief when she's alone.


"Are you stupid? The woman who owns that shop is the richest person in the village. And you tried breaking her windows because you didn't want to scrub them? You little brat." her father yells when he's summoned to the academy.


"But she has such big windows and I'd been scrubbing all day already." she whines.


"And just what do you think happens when you're a kunoichi?" Her teacher asks in disgust. "You can't just say, I'm tired, I wanna go home. You're a ninja the rest of your life no matter what you're doing. And you know this is the type of mission you get as a genin."


"But I didn't know the building was anything important. There wasn't any signs telling us what it was." She wails.


"Fucking idiot. Only in it for the power." Kiriko sighs that night at dinner.


"Like too many students until reality sets in. That's why so many new students fail their teacher's test. That's one area where clan students have an edge, they know they're in it for life. The civilians just think its all fun and games until it's not fun anymore."


"Damn, I didn't realize how many stupid civilians there were in the village." Tio says a few weeks later when he sees shops still closed because their owners are nowhere to be found in the city. The damage to the buildings from the paintballs had been fixed and many shop owners had decided to paint their buildings.


"At least there's nothing in there that will go bad with the buildings shut up." Madi says as they drop onto the street to go through the gate. The gate guards nod at them and once they're out of sight they take to the trees again. Kiriko is off with the list of what they need for the new land as well as the orders from her usual customers and what they need to take over the closed businesses and Naruto's team, the new genin that had been cleaning the buildings after the paintball palooza as one of the older genin had termed it now set to cleaning the buildings in the new Izuno land.


Two weeks later Kiriko slumps into a seat in the Tower, pulling a scroll from her clothes she slides across the desk. "From Lady Tsunade, Shizune, and Jiraiya. Expect the paintball scenario to show up in one of his books, they just moaned when the story was told. Even with finding out why it had happened."


Hiruzen sighs but nods.




"Yes, both myself and Naruto." She pulls out two scrolls. The money is double counted and deposited into the accounts, she takes the receipts and yawns.


"Off with you then, I'm sure the news the team is back already made it to your father."


"Worrywart." she says fondly when she finds him waiting at the bottom of the tower. "I saw the others while I was there. They sent reports. And there was the bank deposits."


"Ahhh." He says, nodding in understanding. "Ichiruko's?"


"Yeah, drop that and the shop's orders off and take care of the others over the next couple of days."


Naruto is at the shop and she hands him his receipt. The supplies are put away and Naruto heads off with new meal scrolls.


"The new land." She says, handing her father one scroll. "The new shops." she says, handing him a second. He nods. "The land and buildings are nearly done. We've already got people interested in the new apartments."


"What's the latest on the other shops?"


"We're slowly taking them over and reopening them when the Hokage makes the announcement that the former owners are. . .missing."


"No relatives?"


"None that have come forward to ask what happened to my family?"


"People like that don't have families. They expect to be headed for bigger things and kids would slow them down." A clan elder snorts. "Unlike most civilians who know they're going to need somebody to take care of them when they're old. Clans have kids, they know they're probably going to die young."


"Yeah, it's only the special ninja like the Sannin and the Hokage that grow old."


Kiriko finishes delivering the last of the supplies, getting money from the others in thanks and heads to the new land, looking over everything in satisfaction. The clan women are already putting soap and other beauty items on the shelves in the new building and people are moving into the apartments.


"Grief, that idiot Uchiha could have done so much if he'd pulled his head out of his ass." Tio says as he comes through with a crate that goes into another building destined to be a store.


"Doing that would have made him a human being, not a high and mighty Uchiha. Same reason you don't see the Hyuga doing something like this. Or being medical nin beyond private ones for the clan."




"You've got medical nin in your clan?" Naruto asks quietly.


"Yeah, three of them live at the compound in the village permanently. Two more live on the farm."


Two months later Naruto and the other genin from his year walk onto the Izuno farm grounds with their senseis. Tenten and Lee might not be familiar with this type of work but they quickly settle into their assignments with the others.


"You didn't hire any of the newer teams?" Asuma asks Kiriko's father quietly.


"They all need too much work, your teams have been working together for years. You know the strengths and weaknesses of your teammates. I'd rather spend more money for your teams and have things go well than pay less for the new genin and have to babysit them and their teachers all the time." Asuma snorts but nods. "Not to mention you all are making sure everything is saved, I'd probably lose half the potato harvest with them not bothering to check the soil." Tenten tosses three potatoes she'd just pulled from the ground into the cart Lee and Naruto are pulling. Looking at the potatoes they head to the cellar to dump this load.


"Yes, especially if some of the new genin that had washed out were still in training." Kurenai says, rolling her eyes. "I do hope this new class is better, they'll be the first ones graduating since the new classes were introduced at the academy."


"You and everybody else who went through the academy before the council started dumbing everything down." One of the clan elders says as they come over. "Lunch." he bellows. Everybody gratefully takes a break and washes up with the handpump before bringing out their scrolls with their meals to eat at the tables on the grounds.


Three weeks later the groups walk into the tower to announce the job is over, the Hokage chuckling softly in his office. With the older genin on assignment the newer ones had to step up on the jobs that were falling behind and more were wailing that the work was hard. Especially confronted with working in the sewers.


"Kiriko, I have a ninja I'd like you to hire as a worker. . .if he ever shows up that is." The Hokage says sourly a few days later. "Have you heard of the Eternal Genin?"


"Kosuke Maruboshi? Of course, he's been on the farm for the last three weeks helping with the cooking for the harvests. I thought you knew he was there. He sent a message to the Tower saying he arrived. We hired him when we hired the teams to harvest. The paperwork should have crossed your desk."


Hiruzen scowls at the stacks of paperwork on his desk. "It probably did, getting lost in this mess here. Or was filed somewhere. Anyway, as I was saying. I'd like you to hire him as part of the cooking crew."


Kiriko snickers. "He's already there. Like Neji, he's got a permanent job helping every crew working. And he's got an apartment on the new land."


"Of course he is." Hiruzen sighs. "I've been wanting him to retire for a while."


"Yeah, he's complaining of getting older and knows he's got a place with us where he can just relax and cook."


"Tell him to come to the Tower after you're done for the day."


Kiriko leans in the building when she returns. "You need to go to the Tower after work, the Hokage wanted me to hire you. . .if you ever showed up. He never found your message saying you were back and planned on retiring." She says, catching Kosuke's eye.


"Of course he didn't, the paperwork on his desk is as tall as he is some days." One of the female clan members snorts. "At least with the fools off the councils, stuff isn't being passed because he's too busy to ready the papers anymore."


"And teams of retired ninja are sorting through everything and filing the simpler stuff before it gets to him."


"Yeah, he said it might have already been filed before he saw it. And I doubt he'd have seen the paperwork from us hiring you to cook during the harvest."


"No, D-rank missions never cross his desk." One of the clan members who also works in records at the Tower says. The others nod. "Not unless something bad happens. Like somebody hurt, or in the case of the last couple years, the new genins failing because they were tired from cleaning buildings. Little brats thought it was all fun and games."


"If they're this bothered just doing chores in the village, how would they handle c-rank missions? Or worse."


"Exactly." Kosuke shakes his head. He'd heard about the problems the academy had had with new genins over the last couple of years and had hoped they had been exaggerated. At least the older genin and chunin were keeping the village strong and he'd heard good stories about the class that had started their last year.


Kiriko looks up at the noises from the street in front of her a month later. She smirks as she walks to the door, the Daimyo's wife surrounded by her entourage pausing and smiling. She sees the head of the major ninja clans in Konoha not quite running to catch up to the group and leads them to the new stores, smirking inwardly as they almost pout at not being acknowledged.


They're not the only ones sulking when the more important merchants stores are bypassed by the group.


"Oh, you have your own clothing store now?"


"Yes, some of the merchants didn't like the customers they didn't approve of shopping with them. Our stores are open to anybody as long as the have the money to pay for what they want. Unfortunately those stores closed earlier this year after an incident and are yet to reopen, their owners seem to have abandoned them. We're trying to find family members to take the over but so far nothing."


The Daimyo's wife knows an opening when she sees it and raises an eyebrow. "Why has the village not taken them over then? If family is found they can be reimbursed. Obviously they have no interest in the family or business if they've never shown up to ask where they are."


"That was a setup, wasn't it?" Ino asks her parents quietly a couple nights later after the party have left the hotel they'd been staying at to travel back to the capitol.


"Not in the beginning, but yes. The Hokage has been looking for a way to reopen those stores, not that the Daimyo's wife has said something, he can do so now." Inoichi says, smirking.


"And it was a good black eye for the shops that didn't like selling to the working women. . .or Naruto. They didn't get any business. And the others saw it. And will go to the shops they did buy from." Her mother smirks. "What the hell that fool Hiashi and the others thought when they came rushing to be seen by the Daimyo's wife I have no idea. Anybody with an ounce of sense knows she's interested in shopping, not the clans."


"Oh, they expected her to fawn all over them like the rest of the village does." Ino snorts. "They expected the lesser clan students and civilians to kiss their asses in class and were told if they didn't like their grades, concentrate on their own work instead of trying to to push their nonexistent weight around. Oh, not Hinata for all that she was the clan heir, but some of the others in the other grades. Neji was a right royal ass until he had to leave the corps because of his health. He's actually turning into a decent human being now."


"Getting away from that toxic environment that's the Hyuga compound helps." Her father says, rolling his eyes.


Kiriko slumps into a seat at the farm that night. "How were the sales?"


"Tens of thousands of ryo, we have standing orders for clothes, soap, and other stuff." Tio says quietly. He and the others had been kept busy for three days at the stores. "Thankfully this doesn't happen every day."




"Is it just me or were those old fools sulking because the Daimyo's wife wasn't paying attention to them?" Madi asks.


"Yes, they were. They're so used to everybody in the village fawning over them they were stunned when they Daimyo's wife wouldn't do the same thing."


"Too long in power, they expected everybody to kiss their asses. The Daimyo's wife has no idea who they are and don't care to know who they are either." One of the clan elders snorts. "The poor dears were horrified."


"Morons, too damn long being in power." One of the clan elders snorts. "And yes, I know me saying that is the pot calling the kettle black."


"We work for a living and don't expect people to fawn all over us for existing."


"Did you set this up?" Hiruzen asks the next morning when he calls Kiriko and her father to his office.


"Not a chance." Kiriko says firmly. "We were just as surprised as you were. They wiped us out of all the stock we had on hand and ordered more besides." Her father nods in agreement. Kiriko snickers. "Not to mention not having a lot of cameras on hand to get pictures of the looks on people's faces when they were ignored by the Daimyo's wife and her party if it had been a setup."


"Go.Away.Please." Hiruzen moans. "Do you need to make a special trip for supplies?"


"Yeah, I was going to hire Gai's team as an escort. Our supplies on hand will be used up for these new orders. And more besides in some cases."


Three weeks later Kiriko returns, opening scrolls of supplies that are quickly put away. Or put to use in some cases. "We have the closed shops." One of the women tells Kiriko. "Some of the others are inspecting everything and we hope to have them reopened by the beginning of the year."


"That tells me I'll probably be making another trip for supplies."


"Not to mention deliver the stuff they ordered."




At the end of the year Kiriko approaches the Daimyo's palace. One of the guards stiffens but a lady in waiting that had been walking nearby smiles. "Kiriko. Are you here with our orders?"


"I am. And I brought out more jewelry for you to look over as well." She smiles. She's shown into the palace, the Daimyo's wife running over and squealing as she brings everything out of the scrolls.


The Daimyo calmly walks outside with his guards who look inside and snicker. "Happy wife, happy life." Is all he says. The other men nod.


Kiriko waves off the others when they arrive at the farm. "Get to the village before the storm rolls in. It looks like it's going to be a bad one. Be glad those on guard duty have shelters they can huddle in. Yes, I know you're ninja and can work through weather like this. If you don't have to, you shouldn't have to." Gai looks at the sky and nods and they take to the trees again.


Naruto hugs her the next day when she hands him the receipt from the bank. Hinata, who'd been at the store picking up supplies nearly scowls and then slumps. There's no way she could compete with Kiriko for Naruto's affection. The other woman is much richer than the Hyuga are now and from what the others have said, she could easily be a ninja herself if she had wanted to. Her eyes follow Naruto as he walks out the door sadly.


"Hinata, sweetie." Kiriko tips up her head with two fingers under her chin so their eyes meet as Kurenai looks concerned. "Do you remember your classes with the working women where they told you about how some people have no interest in either their own sex or the other sex?" She nods, blushing. "I'm one of those people, I only see Naruto as another kid brother." Hinata smiles suddenly. "Go make your stake on your man, the poor boy hasn't figured out you like him that way yet." She hurries off, catching up with Naruto and taking his hand. He stops a moment, confused.


Kiba walk over, laughing. "She likes you as more than just a friend Naruto. She thought Kiriko might be interested but she just told her she doesn't like boys or girls that way and only sees you as another kid brother." Naruto stares at him then blushes. Kiba walks back to the store, paying for his purchases and Hinata's, handing her the scroll of supplies as he walks past.


"Congratulations little sister." A male voice says behind them.


"Neji." Talking to Kiriko has emboldened Hinata. She hugs her cousin and is pleased that he hugs her back.


"How are you feeling?"


"Better, the medical nin say the infection is nearly gone. I can use chakra but the stress of being a shinobi is out of the question."


"Neji?" A voice calls.


"Tenten, ready for our date?" He asks quietly. She smiles and nods. "What are we doing?"


"I thought dinner and then a movie?" He takes her hand and they walk away. Hinata smiles after them. Leaving the clan has done wonders for Neji.


"Naruto finally knows Hinata likes him that way." Kiba yells when he walks into his home in the Inuzuka clan compound.


"About damn time." His mother says. "What clued him in?" They'd been smelling her interest in him for a couple years now, especially after Sakura was out of the picture.


"Hinata thought that Kiriko was interested in him when he hugged her. She told her she's one of those people who don't like either sex that way and to stake her claim, he doesn't know she likes him that way. I had to tell him why she had taken his hand and was blushing. He blushed too. It was so cute."


"I'm glad that the Hyuga lost so much power when they threw Neji away, they might actually have a chance to get together without the Hokage having to get involved. Or tell them who his parents are." His sister says as she walks into the building.


"You know, one good thing came out from Sasuke losing his damn mind and Sakura having to leave active duty, Naruto's becoming more confident in his abilities. Especially since he got the job working with Kiriko and having Gai be his new sensei. I'd hate to see how he'd have turned out with Kakashi as a teacher."


"Yeah. I think if the chunin exam had happened here, Kakashi would have entered his team in the hopes of getting rid of them one way or the other. And Naruto just wasn't ready, let alone Sakura. Hell, I know I'm not ready to be a chunin. I don't want the damn responsibility, I work better in groups."


"A lot of people are like that. The Hokage is good at knowing our abilities and putting us where they'd work the best. Unlike other villages where a team is thrown at a mission whether they can do it or not."


"Having to totally revamp the academy helps, teachers now can see where a student's strengths lay and help encourage those areas. And work on their weaknesses.


Naruto sighs as he looks around his apartment. At least with so many civilians being put in their places by the other ninjas and Kiriko's clan his apartment has stopped being trashed. And with the other shopkeepers put in their places or replaced, he can buy groceries without spending too much money. Or getting bad food. He's got a teacher who actually wants to teach him stuff. He's got money in the bank from his trips with Kiriko, much more than he would have had just from accepting missions. Maybe it's time he starts looking into building a compound of his own. Or see if his parents had had something, from what the old man has said he knew them both.


"Kiriko, do you own the building my apartment is in?" He asks a couple days later.


"No, I think the village owns it. Why?"


"I. . .I need to start thinking about the future if. . .if Hinata and I do end up getting together."


"Think about finding some land outside the village and building a home." Kiriko's father says. "Maybe have a farm bringing in money beyond your pay. And anything coming in from missions."


Naruto thinks, and nods. "I thought once that I might like to be Hokage but after seeing all the nonsense he has to go through on a daily basis. . .no. And the other ninja villages are a lot worse off. They depend on the missions coming in to fund everything."


"Yeah." Kiriko says. "We're a lot better off than most. We've got goods and services going out more than we have stuff coming in. Wasn't there a village that turned way from the ninja life and became a resort?"


"I think so, history wasn't really that interesting in the academy."


"Find the library and start reading up on stuff like this. Konohagakure was the first ninja village."


"Who do I see to buy land?"


"The Tower, second floor. Third door on the right, they handle buildings and land in the village and the surrounding areas. If they don't handle it, you need to go to the capitol and talk to the Daimyo who ceded the land to the village." Kiriko's father says. "I've had to do it in the past when we expanded the farm."


"And we'll have to do it again if the rumors are right about the train coming to Konoha."


Naruto travels to the capitol with Kiriko and her father a few months later. One of the Daimyo's wife's ladies in waiting waves them to a stop.


"She's not here right now Kiriko."


"Actually, we need to talk to her husband about more land." She grins and leads them to his private office, tapping on the door.


"Kiriko, her father, and a young man with them need to talk to you about land."


The Daimyo leans back in the easy chair in his office that he only uses for special visitors instead of that gaudy throne in the throne room. "Expanding again?" He asks when they come into the room.


"Yes, Naruto has found some land outside the village and we're looking at more land ourself." He finds the map of the area and lays it on the table, the three of them pointing at the land they want.


"Done deal, A ryo for all of it. I'll have my people write up the deeds and it will be done by tomorrow. And yes my wife will be demanding I hold you here so she can put in another order." He calls in a person as they walk out. Naruto is still blinking. "Yes, it's like that for us." Kiriko chuckles at his look. "We've proven we're good managers of our land and making money hand over fist. Most of the villages can't say the same."


"The Hokage stepped in to take over after the fourth was killed in that battle and has been leading the village ever since. I know he wants to retire but there's nobody with his strength of character to take over. He's worried, and I know the Daimyo is too, that the village will be ruined by somebody taking his place like too many other villages. Mist was in the middle of a civil war killing their own people who had clan gifts. Their fucking academy had the students killing each other as a graduation exercise." Kiriko's father says in their hotel room that night.


"Makes the paintballs flying a helluva lot better." Naruto says, shuddering.


"Yeah, the new kage is trying to rebuild but it's tough. Suna isn't much better, I hear their former leader tried turning his youngest son into a weapon and he had to be put down because he couldn't, or wouldn't, stop killing."


"The Uchiha massacre."




"You missed the graduation exercise." Madi says dryly when they drop to the ground at the farm a week later. "Oh, did you get the land?"


"We did, as well as more orders for the stores. The Daimyo asked us to stay later because his wife was gone the day we arrived and he knew she'd want to put in some orders."




"Yeah, we shopped while we were there." Kiriko sorts out the scrolls for the farm and hands them over.


"Paintballs again?" Naruto asks, moaning.


"Paintballs again. But this time there was a lot more damage than just paint that needs scrubbing. I think a few jutsus were tossed around too. And some of the older genin might have been involved as more than just observers."




"Ohhhh, hell." Kiriko moans as she sees boarded over windows on various buildings. Including the bank.


"Yeah, there was some . . .problems this year." Tio says, walking over. "Supplies?" She sorts out their scrolls and hands them over. "I'll deliver to the others in a day or two, everybody's probably busy."


"Yep." Tio sighs, looking around.


She goes to the stores. "Ladies, I bear orders from the Daimyo's wife and supplies."




That scroll is handed over and they take it into another room to count and deposit. The bank is technically closed but the bank president allows them inside and the money from the order and the casino visits are deposited. Walking past Naruto on the street, she silently slips the receipt in his pocket where he's talking with Kiba and some of the others.


"Did Naruto get the land he wanted?" Somebody asks that night when they return home.


"Yep, we increased the farm's holdings too. And more land on the other side of the mountain since the Daimyo agrees with the rumors that the train should be coming through and that's the best place for a station. When that happens, more businesses will want to come into the area." The others nod. Kiriko inks in the new land boundaries and Naruto's land on the map in the office.


"Okay, am I insane or. . ."


"No, our land is bigger than the village itself. . .now." Kiriko's father sighs. "And I have the feeling we're just going to be growing in the future."


The Hokage shakes his head as he sees the updated map only he and any future Hokages can see. Mostly so he can overrule any expansion of the village limits that direction. "Oh, I know." Kiroko's father says. "But the Daimyo knows we'll be making him money hand over fist."


"And this is the scroll store." Shino says, leading a group of new genin around. "This store sells scrolls filled with all the supplies you need for missions outside the village. Camping gear, weapons, food including emergency supplies and for cooking over a campfire. Know where the emergency rations are, you will want them when you are working in the sewers. You will not want to eat but you have to keep your strength up. Yes, we've all handled shifts working down there, you are not being singled out for being new graduates. We are all genin, we all work down there. In addition, kunoichi?" He catches their eyes. "There is a special scroll available for that time of the month. This way you don't 'accidentally' kill your teammates or sensei." More than one snicker.


"And you will want to stop at the pharmacy for the cold salve to put under your nose to help with the smell." Naruto says coming from the back room. "It helps with the smell. And buy the lemon body wash to shower with afterwards, everybody around you will thank you." Shino nods. "Especially those clans with enhanced senses like the Inuzuka."

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