Accidents happen, and sometimes by design. Naruto was determined to become a Genin, it was just his luck that this year they were being tested in the Kawarimi instead of the Bunshin due to a single lazy Admin-chuunin. Team Gai!Naruto, Maito!Lee (adoption yay), BAMF!everyone.
Naruto still wasn't allowed to set any traps in the field of hydrangea. They needed to keep it as pristine as possible for evidence purposes according to Gai-sensei who was beaming so hard his teeth were yet again weaponised flash-tags for all intents and purposes. Nor was he allowed to trap the area outside the fields, because they had to confirm exactly who was doing the 'vandalism'/theft by catching them red-handed within the field.
The blond was on the verge of chewing his own leg off from sheer boredom and aggravation.
He was even contemplating repairing the irrigation system just to keep his hands and his brain busy because if he had to stand there and listen to another one of Neji's Fate snips he was going to wrap the Hyuuga in a Northern Dragon's Web trap, and set him on fire. Or tell him exactly how pathetic he thought he was. Both would be about as explosive as the other. But one would see Neji being hurt, and the other one would see him being hurt, so...
The blond turned on heel and stalked away, unable to stomach any more.
Nobuyuki was supposed to be a drug baron (or at least a supplier), and no matter what Neji said to the contrary: the old geezer had hydrangeas in his furthest flung fields, with poppies growing under them, he lied to their faces about the purpose of the bushes, and even went so far as to tell them quite plainly that the bushes were worth more than their lives. Totally a criminal.
But... there was something else niggling at Naruto's mind. Something important.
The old geezer was in his home, likely hiding from Gai-sensei who was intense even on a good day. Only Konoha citizens had become used to his eccentricities to deal with him any kind of reasonable manner, so the old geezer was probably either terrified or dazed. Both were good. Both kept him out of the way while Naruto nosed around the farm. They had arrived fairly late in the day, and exploring the fields for traps took a bit longer than Naruto expected – mainly because Neji wouldn't believe him when he said his section was clear and insisted on checking it twice, despite their team's trap specialist telling him otherwise. Man, he was going to string that arrogant bastard up by his toes one of these days.
Anyway, if he was using the vandalism as an excuse to smuggle his supplies out, or if they were only trashing the fields, thus trapping him on the property and preventing him from making deliveries, then there should have been a stock of drugs being stored somewhere on the property. The difficult part there was somewhere. Naruto's nose was good, but he had never actually smelt a lot of poppies, and never poppy thresh. He couldn't get a good whiff back in the field either because the whole place was soaked with the reek of hydrangea, so he wasn't able to – that's it!
He could just sniff out the hottest concentration of hydrangea on the property that wasn't in the southern fields. He was a genius.
He got to work immediately. It stood to reason that a stock-pile would be kept inside, so he concentrated around the buildings. This wasn't a livestock farm, though Nobuyuki kept a few animals, goats, chickens, a handful of pigs, and a few oxen. Naruto checked their enclosures first, because anyone smart enough to hide poppies under the more legal hydrangea would probably hide their illegal stocks under the smell of farm animals, but no luck. Not even a whiff of hydrangea amongst the animals sheds and pens, nor even their own feed bins and tack rooms.
He went to the barns then. And sneezed multiple times, painfully, at the amount of dust and pollen in the air. It was full of hay, grains, and had a fat brown tabby cat watching him from the top of one haybail with lamp-like yellow eyes. He eyed it suspiciously, but the feline merely meowed at him, rolled its head and then went back to sleep. Not bothered in the slightest. So this must have been a well-travelled area. Even with his nose streaming, and his eyes itching, he couldn't smell any hydrangea in there. Just to be safe though, he went to every corner of the barn, up the stairs, down, checked every room by picking the locks, found an erotic flip book featuring a lot of naked women having sex with other women (he had to giggle a little at how stupid the positions were, Yuri-chan told him how a lot of clients kept throwing their backs out trying to copy them, so she'd gotten pretty good at massages simply through necessity). A fair bit of alcohol, a still for making alcohol, an apple press, and he'd even pulled open some of the huge hay-piles to make sure there wasn't a cavity inside them hiding the goods. Nothing. But he'd been as thorough as physically possible so he quickly moved on, sneezing and groaning as he finally got out into the open air with relief. Maybe he should have swallowed his pride and brought Neji with him?
Ugh, no. Neji wasn't essential for this, and Naruto wanted to rub it into his face when he was the one who found the hidden cache of evidence while the Hyuuga sat on his butt and looked down his nose at everyone.
The main barn and the animal pens were a bust, there was little chance of getting into the old geezer's house right now. He'd wait to check that out, make sure he'd cleared the rest of the place entirely before breaking in there and looking for it.
Instead, he summoned a small handful of Kage Bunshin to check all the fields. There must have been tool-sheds and shelters elsewhere, meaning that there was a chance of the cache being stored somewhere else. If anything, Naruto would have bet on it being either the northern or the western fields. Anyone investigating the main farm wouldn't find anything, and it would also give the old geezer enough of a chance that his contacts could sneak to the outlying stores and make off with the cache before any investigations can reach them. Downside for them that this ninja had one hell of a nose, and Kage Bunshin in his belt. He would have this whole farm searched within the day!
He found them in the western field, like he thought he would, an old milking shed, likely either belonging to the farm next door, or from a by-gone era when this place once had livestock. Either way, he found the building literally on the very outskirts of the land, reeking of the hydrangeas that were a good seven miles away.
The issue there was that there was nothing else in there. No poppies. No thresh.
Just neatly packed bundles of hydrangeas, crated up, and tagged to specific locations – Earth Country, River Country, Tea Country, one was even headed to Rice Country, on the other side of Fire. A clipboard with papers was next to the door, detailing each shipment's penultimate destination, the buyer, the smuggler, and even a small side-note on what it would be used for so if anyone came looking he could be sure of what kind of danger he could be in. Very thorough, very smart. Naruto could almost compliment him for it, if it wasn't so horrible. Most of the hydrangea was for drug purposes, but the shipment to Tea Country was, unsurprisingly, for tea purposes, and in fact, had been marked to be not only hand picked but also transported in waterproof containers, or seals, so as to prevent bruising or rot.
He sighed, scratching his head as he glowered around himself at the store-room.
Hydrangea was not illegal.
He needed to find the poppy store.
Maybe the old man put it in the eastern field, just to confuse or mess with anyone looking for it? He supposed it would have made a kind of sense. If an inspection showed up, caught his buyers with the poppy, he could turn around and say that they must have come here with it, because wasn't their route from one side to the other? Why would they pick it up from the eastern side when it would be easier to collect it from the western? Kind of childish in reasoning but it would be enough to cast 'reasonable doubt' over the proceedings, which would mean a full investigation, and thus time for his contacts to bribe the appropriate magistrates to ensure his operations wouldn't be closed down.
Argh, his head hurt. Such a pain in the ass.
Either way, he needed to seal this evidence up. Rummaging a scroll from his belt of pouches, he quickly set to work sealing up first the oh-so-important papers, and records, and then moving onto each individually packed bale of hydrangea. It was sweaty and time consuming work, and he'd been forced to stop and light one of the lanterns as it started growing dark outside.
He smirked smugly as he snapped the full to bursting storage scroll shut, and looked over the empty room as he tucked it away. Neji was going to pull that sour-lemon face when Naruto came back and showed them how awesome he was. Just to be sure, and extra thorough, he did another sweep of the room now it was empty. Looking for fuuinjutsu, handles, switches, anything that could open a hidden cubbyhole, a tunnel, whatever. But there was nothing, and he could safely say that this particular area was clean.
Naruto grinned as he strutted out of the storehouse into the cool night air – and gagged as the smell of smoke hit his nose hard enough to cut through the cloying blanket of hydrangea he had been covered in.
The sky over the southern fields was glowing.
His stomach dropped, and his heart thudded particularly hard in his chest. The field was burning. Where was his team?!
He bolted. Chakra burning through his limbs as he flung himself over the fences and into fields, dodging trees, even as his hand dug into his pockets for a strip of cloth that he was quick to dunk into one of the stagnant pools belonging to the irrigation system. He tied it over his mouth and nose as he plunged into the thick billowing black and grey smoke coming from the burning field of hydrangea.
"Tenten!" he shouted over the crackling fire, and roaring air.
He found Gai-sensei first.
He was high as a fucking kite, trouble breathing, he was sat down and swaying, his face and hands flushed a weird cherry red colour.
"Sensei! Gai-sen-WHOA!" he yelped as he was shoved backwards by the wind pressure of his teacher's swinging arm. The fire behind him roared all the harder in the sudden updraft and the blond squawked in pain as it scorched up his right-side. He dropped and rolled on the slightly smouldering ground to put out the flames that caught his sleeve.
"Naruto- kun," the Jounin slurred, eyes focusing on his student. "I am sorry my youthful student!" he exclaimed, voice harsh and rasping, "I cannot control my strength in this state! Find your teammates and get yourselves to safety!" he commanded, wavering in place.
Naruto shook his head, "And leave you in the middle of an inferno?! Screw that, dattebayo! Kage Bunshin no jutsu!" he crossed his fingers and summoned twelve clones.
"We've got you, sensei!" three of them chorused, grabbing their teacher and hoisting his heavy frame up over their shoulders.
The others sped off through the burning fields to find Neji and Tenten.
He twitched, hearing foot-steps behind him. A familiar figure ducked a burning bush and stepped into his line of sight, their face slightly obscured by a Kiri-style breathing mask, pausing in surprise.
"Ah. I had hoped to get all of you at once," Yamada Takeshi lamented with a sheepish chuckle, as if he weren't surrounded by burning bushes.
The warning to tell the youth to run before he got hurt withered and died on Naruto's tongue, unvoiced. 'All of you at once'?
"Yamada-san?" he heard his own voice rasp, sounding young and confused.
The militia man shrugged a lazy shoulder, "Nothing personal to you kid," he admitted blandly, "You just got in the way is all. Feel free to curse me if you like, you probably haven't got long, we used Chakra fire to burn the field so... the cyanide has probably reached lethal levels by now. Bet you're feeling it now, dizzy yeah? Vertigo will set in soon, difficulty breathing, erratic heartbeat. It's not a bad way to go, you'll fall asleep first. You'll be dead before the fire gets you," the militia explained with an apathetic shrug. As if he hadn't been laughing at Naruto's jokes yesterday, as if he hadn't shown Tenten a couple of tricks for handling a spear, bragged about his boyfriend back in Otafuku Gai, shared food and water with them.
"I'll kick your fucking ass, you bastard, 'ttebayo!" the blond snarled.
Yamada shrugged a shoulder, callous half-smile on his face, "No. You won't. You're gunna die, kid. And I don't have to lift a finger. In fact, it's better if I don't. Any stab marks on your body, and Konoha'll know that this wasn't just a tragic accident befalling an unlucky Genin-team and their dumbass fruitcake of a sensei. By now, Tetsu's finished with the old fucker up at the farm house, and when the fires have burnt out, and the ashes have settled, I'll write a truly heart-wrenching missive to Konoha about her tragic loss, arrange to have your bodies transported back, and inherit this whole farm from my estranged father whom I never knew existed, who hated my mother for refusing his hand because she was too indebted to the pimp that owned her, but didn't know how to connect to the son he never knew."
Naruto flustered, "You – you would kill your own father?!" he shrieked.
Yamada laughed, the sound hissed and whined through his mask, but he bent double and bellowed with laughter, "Fuck no! But that's what his Will is going to say, and with my mother long dead from overdose, who's really going to be able to say that he isn't?" he demanded mirthfully before taking three steps backwards towards the burning trees. "Ahh, kid, it's a shame really. You and the little miss were pretty cute for Konoha ninja. I'll pour you some sake for Obon," he promised with a careless smile before he ducked under a burning bush.
"GET BACK HERE!" Naruto roared, springing after him.
Gai-sensei was heavy, but he was pliant and docile as the three clones hustled him up to old man Nobuyuki's house, only to pause when they saw the broken door, and heard the sound of raised voices, flesh hitting flesh, and the old man crying out in pain.
The three gently set Gai-sensei down, the green clad Jounin taking a deep breath, and then forcing himself to his feet. He wavered, and swayed dangerously on his feet but managed to stay upright.
"Flush them out here. I'll handle the rest," he managed to rasp, eyes narrowing as the three Bunshin's saluted and piled in through the open door.
" - correctly, or I'll take another toe," an unknown male voice snarled over the sound of Nobuyuki's sobbing.
He barrelled into the bedroom, taking a split-second to identify old Nobu curled on the floor, one of his feet missing three toes, a bleeding head-wound, bruises, a broken hand, and burns up and down his cheek and forehead from a cigar. Stood over him was a tall dark haired man in a fancy pale-grey coat that looked like it cost a pretty ryo. Set upon his head was a slashed through Iwa-headband.
Immediately the name of the game changed. Two of him went for the stranger, pincering him between them, one going low and the other high. The third went over them, bounced off the wall, snatched the old man up in his arms, and shot through the stranger's legs and straight back out the door he came in.
He heard a shout and the sound of feet, and backflipped onto the roof of the house the second he burst from the door.
He had just enough time to see the Missing Nin barrel out, and then into Gai-sensei's Leaf Hurricane, before he felt the house shake with the force of the stranger's impact, and see Gai-sensei fall flat on his face.
"Sensei!" He jumped down, Nobu still in his arms, and quickly rushed to his teacher's side, hearing the sound fo kunai clashing again in the house as the man burst back out and saw the two of them.
He cursed, and glared at Nobuyuki, "I'll come back for you when the poison has run its course," he sneered, and then bolted, rushing into the darkness of the fields towards the fire.
Naruto snarled, about to follow only to hear the sound of Gai-sensei's breathing change from short pants, to harsh wheezing. His heart clenched.
Cyanide poisoning was either immediately lethal in high-concentrations, or could have cumulative affects in low-concentrations. He didn't know how exposed Gai-sensei had been. And he didn't know where Neji and Tenten were either. He was all alone. With a burning farm, his client sans toes, and Missing Nin prowling the darkness.
He needed to fortify the house, and call for reinforcements.
He looked at the other clone, both of them understanding at the exact same time what they needed to do.
They split. One of them got old man Nobu secured in the house, Gai-sensei too, what little medical aid that could be given he did, but there wasn't much he could do with his limited knowledge. One began to lay traps around the house, securing it with every defensive fuuinjutsu and wire-trick that had been in Tobi's handbook. The other took the main road, and raced as hard and as fast as he dared for Konoha.
Two of Naruto's clones managed to find Tenten and Neji.
The two genin had burns up and down their arms, and Neji's legs where his shorts hadn't protected him all that well. They were panting for breath, just as weirdly coloured as Gai-sensei, but unconscious as they lay like ragdolls in one of the irrigation ditches half-submerged in stagnant water where the fire would just pass over them.
The two clones exchanged looks of worry, and quickly scooped both of them up. The best place to wait out the fire would be old Nobu's house, that was where the other three clones were taking Gai-sensei as well. They could hear Boss Naruto shouting somewhere in the distance, so he had probably found who was responsible for the fire, but right now, they had the job of getting their teammates to safety.
Carefully dragging the two soaking wet genin onto their backs, the two used the irrigation ditch to race out of the southern field, before cutting across the central ones straight to Nobuyuki-san's house.
What they found was a broken door, blood on the floor, half-set up traps and fuuinjutsu. And two of their fellows with kunai ready and willing to gut them.
Neji and Tenten quickly joined Gai-sensei in the house, Nobuyuki watched with empty eyes, his feet heavily bandaged along with his other injuries, as Naruto did what he could for his teammates, nearly on the verge of tears as they were in so much worse a state than Gai-sensei. Tenten was barely breathing.
At this rate, they wouldn't be able to wait for back-up. If he wanted his teammates to survive, he was going to have to abandon the mission.
Yamada was most definitely not a normal civilian, his movements were trained, and chakra enhanced. Clumsy, so he could safely say the man wasn't a legitimate ninja, perhaps an academy drop-out who kept up with his own studies. But either way. In the burning field, simply just staying out of Naruto's reach in the cloying smoke was far easier than it should have been. He wasn't lying when he said the toxicity of the smoke would kill him.
It should be killing him.
Every time he blasted through a huge plume of smoke he felt dizzy and light headed, staggering and nearly falling only for his head to clear, and his temper to ratchet up another notch.
And then a man in a white coat suddenly appeared, he snatched Yamada up around the waist and sped away far faster than Naruto could keep up with.
The blond cursed and staggered after them, the cloth around his mouth was black with smoke and his eyes were burning. The two sped out of the farm properties and into the surrounding woods, the smoke was not as thick out here, but still drifted lazily under the branches, trapped and unable to rise.
"-told me it was Maito fucking Gai!" an unknown voice snarled in the distance.
"I told you it was a genin team," Yamada retorted heatedly.
"The Azure Beast of Konoha has the second highest fucking kill count of the last Shinobi War! He earned the title of beast!" the unknown man flared lividly, "You would send me in blind to tangle with a Jounin of that calibre?!"
"That fruitcake? Somehow I doubt he's all that," Yamada scoffed, once again setting Naruto's temper boiling as he crept after them, the lack of smoke clearing his head as his fingers dipped into his pouches and began to tug out wire and tags and kunai.
"The longer a Jounin has been active, the more eccentric they are to compensate for the blood on their hands, idiot boy! What was the first thing I taught you!"
"How to suck dick properly," Yamada retorted sassily, sounding both sarcastic and suggestive.
There was a long pause as Naruto ducked down low and summoned a trio of Kage Bunshin, all with the same idea in mind as him as the four split up and began to lay their ambush properly.
"Relax, Tetsu," Yamada soothed, "The chakra we used to burn the evidence made the toxicity ten-fold. They'll die before the dawn without medical aid. And then we just have to deal with the old man and scrub the blood out of the house. No trouble. We have time." There was a rustle of clothing and Naruto chanced a peek around a tree-branch to see Yamada with his arms wrapped around the Missing Nin's shoulders, the two of them firmly latched onto each other by the mouth. "What say we enjoy our victory while they breathe their last?" he suggested breathily.
Tetsu rasped a low chuckle, his hands tightening on the militia's hips, "And people call me sadistic," he rumbled.
"What can I say... I had a good teacher," Yamada all but purred as he arched against the dark haired man.
The kunai Naruto threw pierced him in the back of the neck, sinking in, but not killing him. His mouth opened, and all the breath left him in a single whoosh as his eyes went wide, almost bulging out of their sockets as his body went limp.
"Takeshi!" Tetsu yelled, catching the younger man's weight and looking up to spot the return of his nightmares made flesh.
Blond hair, and blue eyes like chips of ice placed in flesh.
"Yondai-" his voice cut out as a second kunai winged for him from the side, he dropped his lover and darted away, leaving him to gasp on the ground as he skidded to a stop, deflecting another kunai coming at him. Spinning desperately around himself as more, and more, shadows of the Konoha Yellow Flash appeared from the darkness.
That same yellow hair, the glacier blue eyes taken from the deepest reaches of Snow Country.
He ran – and then the trap was sprung.
And he couldn't anymore.
"I'm leaving seven clones here to protect you, and secure the prisoners, Nobuyuki-san," Naruto explained as he rigged up the multiple stretchers for his team. It was still dark out, his heart was in his throat because that bastard had been right. Tenten and Neji had gotten worse in the twenty minutes since he pulled them out of that ditch. They wouldn't live to see dawn if he didn't get them to a medic nin ASAP.
Yamada was face down on the floor in Nobuyuki's kitchen. Naruto had left the kunai in his neck, sick to his stomach and unable to pull it out knowing that if he did the militia would die, would bleed out. But if he left it in, he would live, and continue to be paralysed. Tetsu was unconscious. And with the fuuinjutsu that his clone was painting on him while he made stretchers, he would continue to remain that way until it was removed.
Old man Nobuyuki was sat at his kitchen table, staring at nothing, and not answering.
Naruto felt bad just leaving him like this, but he didn't really have a choice. His team were going to die if he didn't get them back to Konoha on the double.
Omfg. This chapter was such a fucking trial. But thankfully it is done. I forgot halfway through how I wanted this to play out, Yamada and Tetsu being a couple completely blind-sided me but it worked so well, originally all three OCs were going to die, Nobu was going to be dead when Naruto and Gai appeared, the kunai to the neck was gunna kill Yamada, and Naruto's traps were a little more lethal than he intended, and even Tetsu died. So Naruto was going to literally leave a massacre behind him. But this works a little better to me.
Stay tuned for the next chapter. Introducing Hinata, Naruto's first Talk no Jutsu, and the HORMONE HAMMER.