"We're going to Sand!"
Sakura turned, fingers adjusting the straps of her pack along her shoulders. "You are the only person I know how is actually happy to go into the desert. Even if it is in the middle of winter, its still the desert."
Naruto laced his fingers behind his head and gave her his most winning smile. "Sand is very pretty, Sakura-chan."
She lifted both brows. "I beg your pardon?"
Naruto waved one hand along lazily. "You'll see. I'll show you."
Giving him a suspicious look, she shook her head. "Only you Naruto… how pissed was Sasuke at being left behind?"
Naruto paused from where he was adjusting his own back. A wrinkled formed between his brows. "He seemed okay with it."
Sakura blinked. "Huh?"
Naruto nodded, a curious expression on his face. "Yeah. Do you think he is planning something?"
Sakura gave him a dirty look. "Naruto. This is Sasuke. When is he not planning something?"
Naruto's smile turned sheepish. "Okay. Do you think he is planning something that has to do with us?"
"Always," Sakura said with a roll of her eyes. "The question simply becomes how much can he accomplish behind our backs in the time we are going to be gone."
Naruto was silent for a long time. "Do you think we can get back home before a weeks out?"
"Not even if we ran ourselves into exhaustion."
His crooked smile spoke volumes. "We'll maybe we should try."
Sakura considered his words before shaking her head. "Even if we could get back in time to spoil his plan, you know he will have figured out several contingencies to keep us busy until whatever he has finished is over. Best to just hope for the best and figure out why exactly Tsunade wanted us to go on this mission." She turned her eyes away from him.
"Yeah… about that…"
"We better get moving," Sakura said firmly, meeting his eyes with hers. "It's a long run to Sand."
Naruto's brows were tucked together, and she could read the suspicion in his eyes clearly, but she couldn't deal with it. Not now. Taking a deep breath, she pushed herself into the trees and pushed off from the branch.
Her fingers didn't relax on the straps of her pack until she heard Naruto behind her.
Tsunade drummed her fingers on her desk, studying the contents of her small teacup. Shizune had changed the cups out again. Surely she didn't expect her to drink less if the cup was smaller? Eventually she would just get bored and use the jug. Sighing, she poured as much sake as she dared into the tiny thing and watched the contents.
As Hokage, she couldn't start drinking out of the jug until the last of her appointments had finished. Scowling again, she didn't bother to look up when the door opened.
Shaking her head, she looked up and studied the Uchiha in front of her. "Where is the other one?"
"Surely you weren't about to compare me to my wayward student?" A voice from her right questioned.
"You'll be lucky if that's the least of my comparisons, Kakashi." Tsunade warned as she downed the contents of the small teacup. She studied the cup for a long moment before sighing.
"What do you have for me?"
"That Akatsuki are no where near Leaf." Kakashi said mildly.
"We knew that. Go on."
"Pakkun informs me that Sakura and Naruto will reach Sand by morning."
"Quicker than if they had been moving at a regular pace." Kakashi agreed. "It's almost as if one of them was worried about something."
Tsunade took another drink, ignoring his jab. "Sakura might be mine now, but she was yours first. I imagine she has developed a thorough dislike of being late."
"Do you have something to add?" Tsunade questioned, pinning Sasuke with her eyes.
"It is done."
Tsunade studied him for a long moment. "You are sure your information is correct?"
"Neji verified it." Sasuke said mildly. "When the time comes, they will vote as I asked." A faint smile curled the edges of his mouth.
Yes. Tsunade was fairly sure he was correct. They would vote the direction the young Uchiha had required, but only partially because of the information he was currently blackmailing them with.
It was the eyes, she decided. Not so much the fact that they were so dark it was difficult to read them, but the way he watched you from them. As if he could strip the flesh from your bones with just his eyes and was just waiting for the chance to do so.
"Good. Perhaps we can have this cleared up before Naruto and my pupil return." Tsunade sighed.
"Will you fight the council if we loose?" Kakashi questioned. His voice was at his most mild and Tsunade had learned a long time ago that it was also when he was his most dangerous.
"It will depend. But if things go that badly, I expect you two to get to Sand to stay there."
"That is a direct order, Kakashi." Tsunade informed him. "One that neither of you will be able to afford disobeying."
She snorted. "Don't give me that crap. I don't fully expect things to go that far, either. The young Hyuuga has her clan firmly in hand, and the rest of the council will be hard pressed to vote against my proposal without support."
"There will be trouble." Sasuke said.
"Yes." She pursed her lips. "Even when my proposal passes, there will be unrest. You had best watch your back, Sasuke. Yours' and your teams."
The young man nodded.
"Well, if that's all," Kakashi said cheerfully, pulling out a familiar book. "I have some reading to catch up on."
"Not in my office." Tsunade said firmly. "Both of you, out."