Fandom: Naruto
Title: Never Ever
Part: 01 of 15
Genre: General/Action/Adventure
Rating: PG
Warning: AU
Spoilers: Manga up to Chuunin Exams
Summary: What if Naruto had sided with the Sand in the Konoha invasion?

Chapter 01: Leaf to Sand

It was a silent night in the forests of Konoha. The village of Konoha was in complete and utter chaos, but the forests were peaceful enough.

The five-year old boy forever shunned and bastardized as the 'Kyuubi' for reasons he could not control had vanished.

That night, the Sandaime had been conducting his nightly viewing of the village via crystal globe, an action otherwise known as spying, when he had caught sight of Uzumaki Naruto standing in front of the Ichiraku Ramen stand. He had then decided to follow him around a bit, just to make sure he got home safe, when suddenly, the boy turned and glared at him through the invisible one-way surveillance camera.

Needless to say, Sandaime was puzzled as to how this was possible, but what happened next was even more curious. The boy disappeared. He wandered off the screen of the 'camera' and then he was gone.

It was as if he vanished into thin air.

The Third did not waste any time in calling an emergency meeting for all Jounin of the village, which ended in disaster. The more intolerant and ignorant shinobi who had lost family during the years of Kyuubi had called for a manhunt and had wanted to send Hunter Nin to exterminate the 'demon child' once and for all. And since the number of Nin who hadn't lost anyone to the Kyuubi was incomparable, Sandaime was out-voted in almost every way.

No need to remind them about the Fourth's last request to hail the child as a hero, no. They would never listen.

In the end, he pressed for ANBU to retrieve him rather than send Hunter Nin stating that Naruto was not an official shinobi and could not be hunted as one.

---

Meanwhile, in the 'tranquil' forests surrounding Konoha, a blur could be seen making its way towards the northern border of the Fire Country with incredible speed. This indistinct shape was in fact, the missing child Uzumaki Naruto. But though the body belonged to him, the current occupant was anyone but.

'Who are you? What do you want?'

This brat was impossibly ANNOYIING, him and his damn childish voice with its damn childish innocence.

In the future, the Kyuubi would learn to endear that damn childish voice with its damn childish innocence but at the moment, he was merely annoyed.

Is it not ENOUGH that he managed to escape that hellhole in a way that'll leave the village talking for weeks? Not mentioning how hard it was to crack the seal just right so that he could take over the controls of this body and not mentioning how hard it was to run on two feet. Human- how ridiculous it was to stand erect. Always wobbly, not enough speed, not enough support-

'Who are you?'

'Shut yer trap you stupid brat.' he snarled. 'I'm just yer residential demon sealed in yer body by your fool of a Hokage.'

'There's a demon in my body?'

Yup- he was the sharpest katana in the closet all right. He resisted the urge to give the boy a few knocks on the head, temporarily forgetting that it was quite impossible seeing as Naruto's mind was trapped within his current body, and in doing so, he would only be hurting himself.

'I'm a Kyuubi.'

'What's a Kyuubi?'

'What's a Kyuubi! Ye don't even know what a Kyuubi is? Damn. I knew I should have wreaked more havoc on the Leaf village.'

'Huh? How do you wreak havoc? What does wreak mean? What's havoc?'

Dear lord. Listening to this kid was going to make him stupid.

All of a sudden, he felt his legs weakening and control over Naruto's body wearing away. 'Looks like my hold is over,' the Kyuubi thought to himself.

'Listen kid,' he thought quickly, 'Go north. Whatever ye do, get out of the Fire Country. The nearest ninja village near here is the Hidden Sand Village. Go there.'

'Why? Why did we have to leave Konoha in the first place?'

'Ye want to repeat an incident like today?'

Naruto winced. It wasn't his fault, really. He just asked a boy if he wanted to play with him, and to his joy, the boy said yes. Then his mother happened to see the two of them and she immediately came over and dragged him away without a second glace. When the other boy had protested, his mother slapped him.

Naruto would have felt better if the mother had slapped him instead that boy.

---

'No...' he thought slowly, 'I don't want to do that again. But that doesn't mean I want to leave Konoha.'

'To bad, gawky' The Kyuubi said, 'Once ye run away, ye can't go back. Yer Hokage probably already noticed that you're missing and probably already sent people to kill ye.'

'Kill?'

'Yea,' the Kyuubi said, thinking quickly, suddenly thankful for Naruto's moderate capacity of knowledge. 'Haven't ye heard of Hunter Nin? They wear weird masks and kill people who run away. So if ye want to live, go to the Hidden Sand.' The older demon landed as carefully as he could on the forest floor with the limited control he had. 'I'm done with ye.'

Naruto felt a sudden rush as he was once again united with his physical body, but before he could even think of running, he fell to the ground

His feet ached, his legs burned, and his hands were covered in multiple scars and bruises. Apparently, the Kyuubi had tried to run on four 'legs' instead of two. His heart was racing and even though he didn't do any of the running up until now, he felt the pain of a five-year old that just ran a hundred miles. He coughed and retched, all of them coming out dry, and panted heavily. He didn't want to move. He just wanted to lie down and...

'Hey kid, get up. I did mention Hunter Nin didn't I?'

'I know.' Naruto huffed, 'Just... give me a second.'

'Ye don't HAVE a second. I didn't exactly do an ideal job of covering our tracks. So get up and get MOVING. We're almost there.'

'Alright,' Naruto thought, struggling to his feet, 'I'm going.' he said as he limped his way through the forest. "No no no! Not THAT way! Go to the right- the RIGHT. Don't ye know yer right from yer left? No- yer OTHER right. Yes, the other right. Don't ask me what I'm talking about- you stupid, stupid child."

Not once did he think to ask the Kyuubi why he was so desperate to get to the Sand Village and only the Sand. Not once.

---

Sandaime looked out at the moon through the solitary window of the office.

The ANBU squad had failed. They managed to track the boy's trail all the way to the borders but fell short of capturing him. He just moved along way too fast

'Yondaime..." he thought sadly, 'I'm sorry.'

---

Hatake Kakashi sighed as members of his squad headed home. They had been so close to bringing him back. They had seen the boy. They saw Uzumaki Naruto running on an open plain leading toward the Wind Country. Naruto had looked back and caught sight of them in full ANBU gear and masks.

Right at that moment, he had seen such immense terror in the boy's eyes that he felt a pang of regret, a feeling he hasn't felt in years. That look didn't belong on the face of a child. It was not the look of one who had been scared by a ghost story or the expression of one who was startled by something. The terror was raw and that face still haunted his mind. But then Naruto ran with new determination. He kept running, even after he passed the border.

He was just that scared.

Kakashi shook the image out of his mind, willing for it to disappear, knowing that by doing so, the image would forevermore be engraved in his memories.

"Oy, Itachi," he called over his shoulder, "Go home. It's late."

It had been his first mission as an ANBU and the prodigy of the Uchiha clan, Itachi, had failed.

"It's daybreak." Itachi replied. "I'll be fine."

Kakashi said nothing, but threw a shuriken in Itachi's direction. The other effortlessly tilted his head and let it embed itself it a wall behind him.

"If you were normal right now," Kakashi said, "You would have caught that and threw it back at me." He turned to leave. "Go home. Get some rest."

Itachi remained where he was for a while but eventually got up and left for the Uchiha part of town. Sasuke probably wanted to play with him. He did get grounded after their mother caught him playing with the Kyuubi brat. He remembered how their mother dragged him back from school with a handprint in his right cheek and how she told him very seriously to never associate with 'that boy' again.

He walked through the doors of the Uchiha main house and was immediately greeted with a loud and happy: "Nii-san!"

So predictable after all, Sasuke was.

---

Naruto ran. He ran, one foot after another into the Wind Country until his knees could not hold him anymore and crumbled under him. For a moment, he just sat there, the wind swirling the sand everywhere around him. Suddenly, a sob bubbled up from his chest and popped. Then another and another, each one rising faster than the last, until he just buried his face in the sand and cried. He cried because he had been afraid. There really were people in masks. The Kyuubi had been right. When those people in masks came, he had to keep running while suppressing his tears.

Imagine if you will, a five-year-old child who has to train himself not to cry.

After hearing the boy sob for a few minutes, the Kyuubi finally asked, "Oy, when are ye going to stop bawling, kid?' Sadly, the question only served to make the boy cry harder. So the Kyuubi tried another tactic.

'Could you start moving? Please.' he said, vowing that one day, the boy would pay for making him say that cursed word.

It worked somewhat. Naruto struggled to his feet, wiping his tears and hiccupping as he walked.

He had been scared.

---

Naruto stumbled around in the desert for an infinitely long time. His speed had slowed down considerably since his chakra supply was exhausted and someone as young as him couldn't exactly cover a whole lot of distance in a short amount of time without feeling the aftereffects.

He walked until he lost track of time. He was very hungry and his throat was parched. He, or rather, the Kyuubi, didn't even think to pack anything, which was incredibly stupid but the Kyuubi had insisted that if he took anything, it would impair and slow him down.

'Am I going to...die here?' he thought sadly to himself. The Kyuubi had been silent for a long time. Maybe he was dead or something. 'I hope not. I want to live; I don't want to die now...' He fell to his knees, the sand burning his skin. 'I don't want to die right now. I want to live'

Strength and energy seeped out of his body like a river and he toppled forward into the sand. 'There are so many things I haven't done yet that I really want to do. I want to make a friend. I want to find a family. Please God, I don't want to die yet. I want to live...'

---

The Kyuubi growled and paced around in the damn cage like the wild animal he was. The seal had managed to close itself up again and he lost mental contact with the boy.

'DAMN SEAL.' he roared angrily, fighting violently and uselessly against the cage door. 'YE WANTED YER SON TO BE SAFE AND YET THIS IS WHAT'LL KILL HIM. THIS SEAL.'

The boy's temperature was rising rapidly in the heat of the desert sun, and wouldn't survive for anymore than an hour.

'DAMN YOU YONDAIME! DAMN YOU!'

---

Baki had been doing his daily afternoon scouting of the Sand Country when he had seen a figure lying in the sand. Assuming it was the either the dead body of an intruder or bait to draw out a sand shinobi like himself, he approached it with caution. To his surprise, it was the body of a boy.

He felt around for a pulse on the boy's neck and was even more surprised to find out that he was alive. Quickly hoisting the boy on his shoulders, he headed back towards the Sand Village.

---

It was warm where he was right now. It wasn't hot like the desert, but pleasantly warm and cool at the same time.

Naruto opened his eyes slowly. 'Where am I?' It looked like a hospital room and yet it looked so... homey. The hospitals in Konoha were white, clean and very... hospital-like. Wherever he was now, it looked like someone's bedroom with medical appliances. The bedspread and blanket were red and had flowers on it. The walls were painted a warm brown to resemble wood and there was barely a speck of white anywhere.

"Are you awake?"

He jumped and looked at the speaker. She was around her 20s and had golden hair and warm brown eyes. He looked at her, expecting her to scowl at him or glare, but she only smiled.

"What's your name?"

"Uzumaki Naruto." She didn't look like she hated him. Where in the world was he right now?

---

"Why did you bring the boy back here if you did not know who he was? He could have been a spy; then it'd all be on your head, Baki."

Baki listened patiently as the Kazekage berated him on his carelessness. "But fortunately for you, that is not the case. I don't suppose you have heard the news yet."

"News, Kazekage-sama?"

"Our sources in Konoha have found out that the vessel of the Kyuubi recently ran away."

"The Kyuubi boy ran away- you don't think that this boy is the Kyuubi?" Baki asked.

Kazekage glared at him. "I know that the Kyuubi is in that boy. Did you not see his whisker marks? Those with demonic presence within them will have a telltale sign like that. Like Gaara and his eyes."

"What will we do?" Baki asked.

"What will we do?" Kazekage repeated. "We will keep the boy, of course. Why did you think shinobi like Gaara were created? Now the Hidden Sand village has two vessels and once the two of them receive proper training, the Sand Village will be invincible."

'He talks about his own son like a tool.'

At that moment, Myoubi Ayumi, one the Sand's great interrogators, came out of the room and closed the door.

"Well?"

"He says his name is Uzumaki Naruto. He's the one, Kazekage-sama." she said, bowing.

Kazekage smiled. Or rather, his eyes narrowed happily. "What did I tell you, Baki?" he said as he stepped toward Naruto's room. "The Sand will have two."