Colors of Life and Death

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The Beating

Tsunade sat straight up in bed, eyes burning with anger. "Jiraiya..." she hissed in a whisper. She jumped out of bed, threw on her robe, and opened her bedroom door. "Kakashi."

Kakashi dropped his illusion technique. "Hai, Tsunade-sama."

"Send an anbu team to find Jiraiya," Tsunade commanded.

"Hai." Kakashi bowed and vanished.

As soon as she was sure Kakashi was gone Tsunade's mask of calm fell like a dead tree. When he gets here...I'll kill him, she growled in her mind. She then walked back into her room and shut the door.


Two days later- October 1st...

Naruto and Sakura arrived at the Hyuuga estate at 9 am. They were picking up Hinata for her and Sakura's first day of training. After waiting about fifteen minutes Naruto became impatient. "I'm gonna knock," he announced. Just as he raised his fist to do so the door opened and a sleepy looking Hinata appeared.

"S...sorry, Naruto-kun," Hinata said with a faint blush on her cheeks.

Naruto smiled. "No problem. Ready to go?"

Hinata smiled and made an affirmative nod. She turned to Sakura. "Good morning, Sakura-san," she said politely.

Sakura shook her head. "Hinata...we're going to be working together. You can just call me Sakura," she said with a smile.

"Okay," Hinata replied as the trio started walking. "Naruto-kun?"

Naruto looked at Hinata over his shoulder. "Yeah?"

"Thank you...for asking Tsunade-sama to train me," Hinata said quietly.

Naruto grinned. "You're welcome." They were silent for a moment then he spoke again. "Hey, are you two busy on the tenth?" he asked.

"I have to train with Neji-nii-san," Hinata said with regret.

"I'm going to a movie...why?" Sakura asked.

Naruto threw on a grin. "Nothin' important," he said before he turned his gaze back to the road.

Hinata and Sakura could have sworn they saw Naruto's eyes cloud over in sadness just before they disappeared from view.

Sakura moved closer to Hinata. "Did you see that?" she whispered.

Hinata nodded.

"We should find out what's wrong," Sakura decided.

Hinata bit her lower lip as she watched Naruto's blonde spikes of hair bounce with his footfalls. "M...maybe after we get off the main road?"

"Okay," Sakura confirmed.

After a few minutes, they turned a corner onto the tree-lined road that led to Tsunade's estate. Sakura and Hinata quickened their pace till they were in step with Naruto. Sakura grabbed his wrist and turned him around. "Alright," she said firmly, "What's going on?"

"What?" Naruto questioned.

"What's so important about the tenth?" Sakura pushed.

Naruto made a slightly nervous smile. "Just a two for one sale at Ichiraku Ramen," he insisted as he tried to pull his wrist out of Sakura's grasp.

Sakura frowned and bopped Naruto on the head. "You're a lousy liar."

Suddenly, Hinata was in front of Naruto. "Please, Naruto-kun? I...don't like to see your eyes that sad," Hinata pleaded.

Naruto's resolved crumpled under the concerned stare of Hinata's eyes. He suddenly found himself unable to do anything except stare at those eyes. It wasn't until Sakura waved her hand in front of his face that he came back to reality.

"Naruto!" Sakura said loudly.

Naruto shook his head. Just what the hell is the matter with me?  he thought as he stole one more quick glance at Hinata before answering the frustrated, pink-haired kunoichi to his right. He sighed in defeat. "It's my...birthday."

Sakura visibly brightened. "Why didn't you just say that?"

Naruto thought for a moment. "Well, I've never...celebrated it with anyone before so I felt awkward telling you."

Both girls stiffened and let their mouths fall open. Disbelief was evident on their faces.

"Never..." Hinata began, tears pricking at the corners of her eyes.

"Celebrated," Sakura finished as her face fell into a sad frown. "Naruto..." she said as hugged the boy in front of her. "I'm sorry."

Hinata wasn't sure she knew him well enough to have the right to do so, but she joined in the hug; trying desperately not to pass out from all the blood that was rushing to her cheeks. "I'll reschedule my training," she said with a smile as she pulled back from the hug.

"And I can see that movie any time," Sakura added.

Naruto smiled happily. "Thank you."

"AHHH! I've only got two weeks to plan your party!" Sakura yelled suddenly. "We need cake, streamers, music!" she said as she ticked off the items on her fingers, "Your first birthday party has to be perfect!" Sakura said with her fists balled and flames of determination in her eyes.

Naruto just stared at her. "Um...Sakura-chan. You're kinda scary right now."

Jiraiya turned around from the peephole he was looking through. "It's been a while, Kakashi." He grinned evilly. "Care to join me?"

Kakashi eh hemmed as he stepped out from behind a tree. "Perhaps another time. Tsunade-sama requests your presence."

"Oh?" Jiraiya said as he cocked an eyebrow.

"Welcome girls," Tsunade said with a smile.

Wendy Winchester

Edited: 12.07.2019

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