Not April Fools, even if that sounds redundant to say.

I was, and still am, an Uchiha - the best of the best in the shinobi world. I believed that no one but another Uchiha could be my match. However, that constant rhetoric only annoyed me as I blocked yet another strike from the beast with both of my blades. Despite having prepared myself for this fight, his relentless attack forced me into a defensive position with little room for a counter-attack.

I grunted as I pushed his massive sword away from me and jumped away to create some distance.

Kisame Hoshigaki was known around the shinobi world for his immense chakra reserves, which made it impossible for my Sharingan to capture him in a genjutsu. He shrugged off my attempts or brute-forced his way out whenever I managed to make brief eye contact. Only the power of the Mangekyo Sharingan would be strong enough to trap him.

As I fought him, I maneuvered through the trees, using them as cover from his attacks. With every strike, twigs and leaves were sent flying, and the sound of our swords clashing echoed through the forest.

In those precious seconds, I pointed one blade to the sky, intending to invoke a storm to my advantage. Yet, as I raised my arm, a barrage of water bullets prevented me from following through with my plan, making me click my tongue in annoyance. I had wasted those precious seconds that could have been used to call the storm, and instead, I had to use them to cut down Kisame's stupid bullets.

My eyes widened as I noticed Kisame rushing towards my landing spot, predicting his leap to cut me in half. In response, I immediately channeled my lightning chakra, forming my technique, and showering him with my Chidori senbon to prevent his next move.

But I could only frown in frustration when he took the full force of my attack with Samehada, his infamous weapon. He literally ate it all, as if it were nothing. It felt like he was cheating. Kisame knew he could drag any fight out as long as he wanted because he would inevitably win.

That's why I had banned myself from using any ninjutsu against him unless the situation truly demanded it, like this moment.

My sharingan focused on him, watching him closely as he slowly advanced towards me, his Samehada humming with power and loudly enjoying my chakra as it wiggled.

Except Kisame didn't wait for his sword to finish the stolen snack as he lunged with an overhead swing. I anticipated his attack, so I prepared both swords to receive his blow and performed a perfect parry.

Using the opportunity window, I slashed at his neck, my lips twisting into a smirk in premature triumph. But the smirk was wiped off my face when Kisame stopped my attack with his sharp teeth, biting down hard on the blade. If it wasn't one of the legendary swords, I was sure that bite alone would have shattered it.

His sudden action surprised me for merely a second, but I didn't waste that blunder. I channeled as much lightning chakra as I could muster in short seconds to my sword and sent a powerful bolt of electricity through the blade, aiming to fry him alive.

I smiled in sadistic glee as I watched the lightning reach his mouth and engulf his body, thinking I had finally won. But my joy didn't last as almost immediately, Kisame exploded like a balloon of water. The impact sent me flying backward, and I struggled to keep my footing on the muddy forest floor as I braced myself for the next attack.

My Sharingan was already picking up his next attack, a full swing cleave aimed at my stomach, forcing me to jump back to avoid it. As I landed, I saw an opportunity to strike him with a kick to his arms and force him to drop his weapon. He grunted in pain as he let go of Samehada, and I seized the chance to strike again.

I swung my sword at his arm, hoping to cut it and weaken his ability to fight. But Kisame was faster, and he dodged my attack with a quick sidestep. He retaliated with a swift punch to my gut, and I felt the wind knocked out of me.

I stumbled backward, struggling to regain my balance, but the monster of the hidden mist pressed to his advantage, charging at me with his bare fists. I could feel the force of his blows as I tried to block them, but he was too strong, and each hit felt like a hammer striking my body.

I gritted my teeth, refusing to let him defeat me.

I bided my time, waiting for an opening to strike.

He was too close, but the perfect distance for me to spit a single senbon aimed at his eye. I saw in detail his eyes go wide in surprise as the needle closed in on him.

It might have been instinct, but he closed his left eye and tried to move his head, creating a small window of opportunity. I seized it, using both swords to perform a crosscut on his chest. He clicked his tongue in annoyance, clutching his chest as I followed up with a swift kick to push him away.

He looked down at his chest and touched where I cut him, revealing blood seeping out. But he didn't show any surprise or anger. Instead, he brought his hand to his wound and licked the blood, flashing me a maniacal grin as his eyes turned red.

"You've improved, but only just a bit. Don't get ahead of yourself and think that's enough to defeat me," Kisame declared as he walked towards Samehada, which had impaled itself into the ground for easy picking.

His theatrics played perfectly in my plan as I raised the Kiba blade and pointed it towards the sky, moving it in circles to summon the storm I had been waiting for. "Is that all you've got? It's no wonder you have to rely on Samehada to even stand a chance against anyone. Without it, you're just a weak, pathetic excuse for a shinobi." I taunted.

Kisame erupted in laughter. "Is that so? You are only a pup who relies too much on his eyes. Itachi doesn't even need them to fight his battles."

I couldn't help but frown at the mention of that bastard. The old me would have let his emotions get the better of him, but it still ticked me off to hear his name.

The sky shook with a thunderous roar, signaling that the storm was ready to unleash its fury. Using the unique ability of my legendary sword, I called down a lightning strike, but to my great displeasure, Kisame effortlessly sidestepped it with a cocky smirk on his face.

"Interesting move. Pure raw lighting, it might be a problem."


I tried once again to call down lightning from the sky. As if that wasn't enough, he used Samehada to absorb the full force of the strike, redirecting the lightning to the ground and emerging unscathed.

My frustration grew as Kisame taunted me with his words. "Did you honestly believe that I didn't know the strengths of my brothers in arms?"

I realized that this would be a serious problem. I was trusting in the nature of the lighting to get an advantage over him.

A new plan quickly formed in my mind, and I rushed towards Kisame, my hands swiftly performing a single hand seal. With a puff of smoke, my clone appeared next to me, and without hesitation, it darted off to flank the Akatsuki member.

Kisame just stood there, his white eyes locked on me with an unnerving focus. Despite feeling like it might be a trap, my Sharingan detected no intention of such. However, it wasn't until the last minute, as I closed the distance with my clone to strike him, that he surprised me by spitting vast quantities of water, forming a bubble.

Which expanded rapidly.


I knew that if the water bubble engulfed me, it would be game over. So, without a second thought, I focused all my chakra into my sword and summoned a massive lightning strike to destroy it. At the same time, my clone performed a series of hand seals and launched a large fireball to counter Kisame's trap, creating a cloud of steam that engulfed the forest.

In the midst of the steam, I shouldn't be able to see anything. But that was why my sharingan scanned the area for any movement while my clone landed close to me and protected my back.

I remained vigilant, my senses heightened and my eyes darting around, scanning the area for any chakra signature. The rhythm of our breathing was the only sound that could be heard as we both stood there, waiting for the other to make a move.

As the steam started to clear, I scanned the area again for any sign of the demon. But he was nowhere to be seen. Suddenly, I heard a loud splash and turned to see a massive wave heading straight towards me.

As we jumped away, we quickly climbed a nearby tree to evade the massive wave that crashed against the trees with tremendous force, sending water droplets flying in all directions.

My breaths were becoming increasingly ragged as I watched the ground absorb the water. I exchanged a quick glance with my clone and gave a curt nod before dispelling him to recover some of my chakra.

It was enough.

Despite my efforts, I couldn't detect any trace of the Akatsuki, even from my improvised vantage point high in the trees. This was the kind of situation where Karin would excel with her sensory abilities, but I was alone and had to rely on my own skills.

I closed my eyes and focused on my senses, trying to pick up any sign of movement or chakra presence. I could feel the subtle vibrations of the forest, the rustling of leaves, the chirping of birds, but nothing that would indicate the presence of the Akatsuki.

I opened my eyes and scanned the area once again, but still found nothing.

I jumped to another tree, keeping my guard up. The feeling of unease still lingered within me. Kisame wouldn't leave an unfinished job for no reason. He was a sadist who enjoyed playing with his prey, slowly shredding them to pieces.

But what if he didn't come to deal with me? What if he was only here to test the waters for Itachi?

As I continued scanning the forest, my attention was suddenly drawn to a loud explosion in the distance. The sound reverberated through the trees, shaking the ground beneath me and sending a shockwave through the air. Following the explosion, a plume of smoke rose high into the sky, visible even from my vantage point.

Realization washed over me as I understood the nature of the explosion. Explosive tags were often used as traps, but the academy had also taught me they were perfect for signaling others of your position if in danger.

I didn't hesitate for a moment and activated my cursed seal, causing my wings to sprout from my back. Flapping them with all my strength, I propelled myself forward at an incredible speed, knowing that time was of the essence. My thoughts turned to Tayuya and I could only hope that she could hold out long enough for me to arrive.

A second explosion went off, this time with much less strength. I redoubled my efforts and followed the source of the explosion, hoping to reach Tayuya before it was too late.

As I flew closer, I could see figures moving on the ground. I landed on a nearby tree and observed the scene below me.

My eyes narrowed as I landed on the ground, my cursed seal receding as I took in the scene before me. Kisame stood before me, a vicious grin on his face, while a giant body of water next to him held Tayuya captive, her hands covering her mouth and nose, desperately holding back her breath.

"You didn't strike me as the type to keep hostages," I spoke up, my voice steady despite concern simmering within me.

His grin widened. "You are right. I don't."

A single flick of Kisame's free hand and a small shark formed inside the water prison, immediately lunging at the trapped Tayuya. I could see the genuine fear in her eyes as her hands frantically fought back against the small predator, and my sharingan allowed me to catch every detail of her life struggle.

My scowl deepened at Kisame's sadistic display. It was clear that Suigetsu was right about the effectiveness of sadism in battle. Any lesser man would have groveled and begged for mercy in the face of such brutality. However, my resolve only grew stronger as my cursed seal flared up again, causing my body to twist and contort.

"Oh? So that's what Itachi has been talking about."

I ignored his words and charged at him, my swords ready to strike. But Kisame was prepared and met my attack with Samehada. The moment our blades clashed, I felt the power of his chakra-infused sword, as it absorbed my own chakra and added it to his.

Eating my bastardized nature chakra.

Yet it didn't seem to affect that glutton sword.

My attention was immediately drawn to Tayuya's dire situation, and I could see that the little shark had sunk its sharp teeth into her arm. Despite her agony, she was frantically trying to force a finger into one of its eyes to stop the creature, causing the bubble to become saturated with their blood.

Time was too tight to actually think about anything else but get that hand away from the prison. My wings gave me one burst of strength to force aside the legendary sword, Samehada, and I twisted my body so that my wing could get a good grip around it, keeping it locked in place.

The consequences were immediate, and I gritted my teeth in pain as Samehada impaled my wing with its sharp scales and thrashed, shredding it even further, causing my blood to rain down around me.

But that didn't stop me as I used the small opening to aim my blade and channeled my lighting chakra to create a lighting spear, aimed at his occupied hand, moving at breakneck speed.

And he couldn't avoid or use the living sword as my lightning spear pierced through his arm, and I felt a surge of satisfaction. But my triumph was short-lived as Kisame exploded into another massive wave, sending me flying and hitting a tree.

I groaned in pain as I felt the impact, the other wing cushioning most of it. But I refused to remain down and pushed myself up on my feet, scanning the forest for any signs of that bastard. Unfortunately, there were none. All I could see was Tayuya lying face down, my sharingan, still active, watching a very faint signature slowly dissipating forever.

Without a second thought, I created a shadow clone to go to her aid while I stayed back to catch my breath. The sudden loss of half my remaining chakra hit me hard, causing me to fall onto one knee and pant heavily. The cursed form that was crucial for my fight moments ago receded back to its place.

It was then that I realized the injuries had passed onto my normal body in ways I couldn't predict. My back seared in pain and felt warm as blood continued to flow, indicating that my injuries were much more serious than I had thought.

Despite my injuries, I refused to let my guard down. I continued to scan the area, searching for any signs of Kisame. My senses were heightened, and I was on high alert for any movement or sound that could indicate his presence.

The long seconds felt like an eternity. And as much as I hated the idea, I couldn't ignore Tayuya any longer and rushed to her side. My clone doing chest compressions.

I ripped my torn shirt and wrapped around her arm, the shark clearly doing a big mess. I couldn't even think she would fully recover from it but stopping the bleeding was the priority.

However, I remembered the old CPR techniques and quickly pinched Tayuya's nose before giving her a couple of rescue breaths. Though she still had chakra, she remained unconscious.

That was until I delivered a forceful chest compression that caused her to gasp abruptly and start coughing violently, expelling water from her lungs. Relief flooded through me as her body responded to the resuscitation. With her breathing stabilized, I turned my attention to her arm, only to frown when I noticed my old shirt was no longer gray but stained red with blood. Though I had saved her from drowning, she was now bleeding out.

My mind immediately jumped to the drastic measure of cauterizing her wound, but before I could act, Tayuya suddenly vanished in a puff of smoke. I tensed, ready to defend myself, and dispelled my clone to conserve my chakra.

"Don't worry, Uchiha-san. We'll take care of her on Mount Myƍboku," spoke a small red toad with yellow eyes, appearing before me.

I lowered my guard slightly, remembering that Tayuya was a toad summoner. Toads were known to care for their summoners, at least to a degree, and I hoped that was the case for her.

"You know what happened, correct?" I asked, directing my question to the toad who had spoken to me earlier.

"She told us about the Akatsuki attacking you," the red toad began, his expression solemn. "But she was ambushed before she could give us the full details. We tried to help her escape, but unfortunately, my brothers weren't a match for that monster." He lamented, his eyes closed in a moment of silent grief.

"That explains the excessive use of explosive seals," I said, my voice low with understanding. "She must have been desperate for help."

The toad nodded, his eyes still closed.

"Does Jiraiya or Tsunade know about this?" I asked, my brow furrowed in annoyance.

The toad opened his eyes and regarded me with a steady gaze. "Jiraiya was the first we informed," he said. "He assured us he would be sending help since he cannot leave the jinchuuriki of nine tails alone."

"What about Tsunade?"

"We dispatched a messenger to her as well." He answered.

I let out a sigh. At least the important people were informed and that steps were being taken to fix this mess. They might also inform my team as well, but I will send a message of my own when I find a safer place to rest.

Suddenly, a sharp pain shot through my body, and I couldn't help but let out a small grunt of pain. I cannot keep going forever with those wounds.

The toad noticed my discomfort and stood on its hind legs for a moment, reaching into a pouch at its side. It pulled out a small pill and presented it to me. "Here," he said. "Take this. It will numb your pain."

Reluctantly, I took the pill and swallowed it, feeling a slight numbing sensation spread through my body. It wasn't a cure-all, but it was enough to make moving more bearable.

"It won't be enough," I said, gesturing to my back. "But thanks."

The toad followed my gesture and hopped behind me, examining my brutalized back with a critical eye. "It's not fatal," the toad said finally. "But you need medical attention soon. We'll send a skilled healer to tend to your injuries."

With that said, the summoned toad disappeared in a puff of smoke, leaving me alone in the forest. I grimaced as I sat on the ground. The pain was still there.

I couldn't help but berate myself for being too reliant on Karin's quick fixes. They were just too convenient to bother with other methods. I made a mental note to myself to copy the Healing Palm technique at a later time, Sakura might even help me.

I calmly lifted my gaze and stared at the darkened sky.

- Later -

The bandages applied pressure to my injuries, making the simple act of putting on a torn shirt unpleasant. However, the sticky feeling on my body from the toad's saliva with healing properties was even worse. But I knew it was working at a rapid pace, so it was just a temporary annoyance that I could wash off with a quick shower.

"Jiraiya-sama has sent a small team to retrieve you," my healer informed me.

I frowned at the implications of her words. "Retrieve me? I'm not a cripple."

Ignoring my words, the toad continued, "The team is composed of both Kumo and Konoha shinobi. They should arrive within an hour."

That didn't make much sense. Konoha and Kumo, working together right after dealing with a political crisis, didn't seem plausible, but before I could voice my doubts, she disappeared in the same way she appeared.

What an ass. Naruto clearly won the lottery with his toads.

Always talkative and cheerful to keep company.

I leaned my back against the tree trunk and gazed up at the darkened sky as I waited for the team that Jiraiya had sent to retrieve me. As I waited, I pondered the recent fights and how little sense it made. Everything Kisame did seemed to be aimed at killing or maiming Tayuya, not me.

And the suicide bomber also aimed to blow her to pieces. She was the target, not me.


I mentally went through every possible reason why Tayuya would be a target, but I couldn't come up with anything that made sense. She wasn't a high-value target, nor did she have any valuable information that would be worth killing for, as she was merely an assistant to the old pervert.

I sighed, feeling the weight of exhaustion settling heavily on my shoulders. All I wanted was to rest, to take a break.

I deserved that much.

Hopefully, that team doesn't take that long to arrive.

AN: Hey guys, done with a chapter. I know it isn't 4k words as promised, but at least it is close and the next one will be above that word count. And it's been a long time no see, huh?

You might know I've been a bit busy with the other story but like I have said before I have been working on sketching out the rest of this story, and I'm pretty far ahead which is a good thing but also might end up being useless since rewrites are common thing when I do this kind of thing and boy there were some rewrites in this chapter.

Honestly, fighting scenes aren't really my forte; it always feels weird one way or the other. But at least we are nearing half-way through the story, so yay?

Either way, don't forget to follow and fav if you haven't. And remember that FF disabled email alerts by default but you can turn them on in your profile setting to get back your updates.