Shikamaru studied the papers in front of him, a faint frown tugging at the edges of his mouth
Shikamaru studied the papers in front of him, a faint frown tugging at the edges of his mouth. Sighing heavily, he crossed his arms and looked back up to the very troublesome woman that had become his Hokage. These midnight meetings were really starting to become bothersome.
"Are you sure this is correct?"
"Our sources are impeccable." Tsunade assured him. She poured Sake into two very tiny cups. "Sake?"
Ignoring the offer, he stared back at the documents in front of him. Shikamaru could already feel the headache forming behind his eyes. He shuffled the papers in front of him before reading them over for the third time. Akatsuki. Fingers clenching he swallowed his instinctive hatred of that group. The very idea that any of the council would be willing to make a deal with them to sell out Naruto, even for the promise of immunity for the village, infuriated him.
"Are you wanting to shake down the council?"
"Yes." Tsunade said. "Do you have a problem with that?"
Pushing his anger down to be dealt with later, he concentrated on the facts. He could feel his eyes trying to cross with the effort to organize the information that had just been dumped in his lap. It shouldn't have surprised him that Team 7 – troublemakers all of them – was in the middle of this but the links to the Hyuuga clan were a bit more complicated.
Scratching his jaw, he sighed. "How troublesome."
"Kakashi doesn't believe there to be any loopholes. What do you think?"
"Ibiki will be questioning the instigators that we have the names for?"
"He has already put together his team and begun collecting various council members. We should have a complete set of names by tomorrow evening."
Shikamaru frowned. "We have someone watching the gates?"
Tsunade's smile was satisfied. "Yes."
"I want to see Ibiki's reports on who exactly is involved."
"Of course," Tsunade agreed as she took another drink from the ridiculous cup in her hand. "I'm going to demand a complete overhaul of the council."
Shikamaru considered the list of councilmen before him and sighed. "How many do we suspect are involved at this point?"
"Too many." Tsunade said grimly. "We can't prove that everyone was involved but there is enough information linking names that it’s time to get some fresh blood into the council seats. What concerns me the most is that the instigators seem to be in the Hyuuga clan."
Shikamaru sighed. "Yes. Does our informant give reasons?"
"The obvious. It was for the 'good of the village', their distaste at what Naruto is and my personal favorite... ambition."
Shikamaru raised an eyebrow.
"Naruto will be my successor. He is still a little rough around the edges but he will learn. Besides," her mouth curled at the edges. "He has the most interesting talent of making friends wherever he goes."
Shikamaru scratched his chin and mentally agreed with her. Even if he didn't count Team 7's uncomfortable loyalty to each other regardless of how troublesome certain members were; Naruto's ability to win people with political pull was hard to avoid. Himself, Neji, Tsunade and of course, Sand's Kazekage. The list was really too bothersome to put together. Naruto had an 'in' into every clan in the village and ties to their allies that couldn't be ignored. He was a good choice as a Hokage even though Shikamaru had the nagging notion that Naruto was going to be even more troublesome than the woman before him.
"How does this play the part into the Hyuuga ambition?"
"For all the snipping at each other, the Uchiha and Hyuuga managed to balance each other’s attempts to gain power. With the Uchiha's gone many in the Hyuuga clan believe that they should have more control of the village." She laced her fingers together. "It is a problem we have been aware of for some time. I am sure your sources into the clans have been keeping an eye on the situation?"
Shikamaru slouched some more. "Perhaps."
Tsunade snorted. "None of your avoidance tactics, Shikamaru. As I was saying, they no longer have such a large check in power. They have been angling to get the Uchiha clan disbanded completely before Sasuke can find the political backing he needs to assume his position as the head of the clan and there have been talks about letting the village reabsorb the wealth and property of the clan as well."
Shikamaru lifted a brow. "That will not go over well with some of the other clans."
Tsunade tilted her head in agreement. "So far, that is all that has stayed their hand."
"And your own interference?"
Tsunade' smile was satisfied. "Somewhat."
Shikamaru sighed. "So by removing Naruto, the Hyuuga elders will have removed the greatest threat to their hopes to gain complete control of the village politics. I do not believe them to be so stupid that they will give the Akatsuki what they want when we can only guess that what they wish to use the bijuu for."
"We have been a strong village for a long time." Tsunade said finally. "Sometimes that power corrupts just as surely as the need to become strong does."
Shikamaru gave a slight nod. Still, the gamble had been high. Not only was what they were doing treason but by attempting to sell out Naruto (a shinobi) they had put their judgment in Tsunade's hands instead of the hands of their peers. He supposed he could understand why the council members involved in this plot had struck in the way they had chosen. Team 7 was becoming a force to be reckoned with. It was assumed that one day Naruto would be Hokage, it was likely Sakura would take over the running of the hospital in due time and Sasuke would hold all the weight of his clan politically if no longer physically.
So troublesome those three were.
"I assume Hiashi is unaware of the plot going on in his walls?"
"It appears to be so," Tsunade said mildly. "Hiashi is a proud man and a loyal one. But this will loosen the hold he has on the Main house."
Shikamaru stared at her. "You're attempting to give Hinata political power."
Tsunade leaned back in her chair, her fingers tapping lightly against the desk. "Yes."
"Why?" Shikamaru sat up straight, starring at her. To involve herself in the middle of a clan battle without proper reasoning was dangerous.
Tsuande was silent for a moment longer. "When the time comes for me to choose my replacement, who do your contacts say the majority of the clans will support?"
Shikamaru blinked at her. "That would depend on who you choose."
Tsunade's smile was amused. "I believe most of the clans are already aware of who my choice is, Shikamaru."
He inclined his head. "They are aware of who it is rumored you will be choosing."
"And your thoughts?"
Shikamaru sighed. "The clan elders have not spoken about this matter to either of my sources but it is my belief that they will support you."
"That is not the case for the Hyuuga." Tsunade said tersely. "Mostly because of Naruto's hatred of their Branch House policy and partly because of what he is." She pinned him with a stern expression. "Hanabi will not make a good leader for her clan. She is brash, young and she has not chosen wisely in her quest for power over her sister."
"Are you worried she will enforce the cage seal?"
Tsunade's expression was hard. "You speak of Neji?"
Shikamaru shrugged, slouching a little in his chair. "One of Hiashi's daughters must take the seal for the other to lead."
"Perhaps." Tsunade said softly. When she spoke again, her voice was hard. "Hanabi and Hiashi have both been warned as to the consequences of enforcing the seal at this time... on either his children or against certain branch members."
Shikamaru sighed. The dynamics of the village were going to change and rapidly. Power would shift. More importantly, since it appeared most of the troubled members belong to Hanabi's support, how exactly the power would shift to Hinata. This was going to be one very large mess that someone, probably him was going to have to clean up. Sighing heavily, he reached for a cigarette.