Restoration of Faith
Summary: SEQUAL to Faith in Humanity; Naruto OOC; PG-13. After Sandaime's death, Naruto made a promise to himself to defy his own destiny and pursue a future that will lead to freedom and happiness. Chapter One: Dark Remembrance
I'm sorry everyone but since one of my other fiction stories had been removed because of some STUPID RULE or what not, from now on, I will not be answering the review questions here within the chapter. I really am sorry for not being allowed to thank you all for your support. But please don't stop reviewing, because even if I don't reply back, I do read every single review that comes to me and I keep them all in my heart.
P.S. This chapter has been updated - I have changed the Yondaime's name to "Namikaze Minato".
"Demon's talk" ,/Thoughts/ , "Speech" , 'Speech emphasis' , (FLASHBACK) , Titles , (Author's interruptions)
"---" Change of Scene, time passed, change of point of view
In a dark underground chamber, a single gasping breath rang through out the silence. Suddenly, bright light shone into the room from a door that has been slid open and revealed the person behind it.
Kabuto looked into the dingy dark room, gaze shifting from the dead corpse on the floor to the heaving man siting up right on the bed. He sighed. "Orochimaru-sama. I really wish you wouldn't do that. It's becoming harder and harder to find people willing to look after you."
Closing the door behind him quietly, Kabuto took several steps into the room and lit a small candle by the bedside. There, he stood, and continued on with his news. "Approximate damage to Konoha residency is minimal – it seems they were far more prepared than we had initially thought. Only 7 deaths, all of them Shinobis – including the Hokage himself, no civilian casualties, but we've at least inflicted close to 40 percent damage to their properties. Yesterday, the Sand have discovered Kazekage's corpse. You'll bet they'll be sending Shinobis after us as soon as they can, that is, IF they can get their country back and running under order." Kabuto smirked. "It was good that we have a contingency plan to begin with. Placing spies among the Sand and having them create disorder and chaos among the streets. Ingenious indeed, Orochimaru-sama." Kabuto complemented.
"SHUT UP!" Orochimaru snarled, sweat soaked and dirty, and covered in his own blood. "What other new development on Konoha do you have for me? I tire of your pathetic compliments." He threatened.
Nodding in understanding, Kabuto started explaining again. "Hyuuga Hiashi has been elected temporary leader for the Leaf. It seems the Emergency Council has decided that the long lost legendary medic Nin – Tsunade-sama would become the next Hokage. At the same time, Jiraiya-sama and Naruto-kun have been sent to FIND her. They left this morning." Kabuto concluded.
A deadly yet insane smile appeared on Orochimaru's face as he heard the names of his former comrades – Tsunade and Jiraiya, as well as that pesky Kuunoki brat – Naruto. "Let's pay Tsunade-hime a visit before them... shall we?" He hissed in excitement.
"Yes. Lets." Kabuto agreed.
A short silence ensued between the two men, which were suddenly broken by Orochimaru's curious question. "Kabuto. Is this information reliable? How did you know that Jiraiya and Naruto left this morning?"
Shrugging in nonchalance, Kabuto answered. "I still have a spy inside Konoha. One that I've never given an active role and therefore remained safe, even after the confrontation - one that they will never suspect."
"Who?" Orochimaru demanded to know.
"His name is Mizuki. He's a part time teacher inside the Ninja Academy and part time administrator within the Hokage Tower." Kabuto answered smugly.
Itachi stared impassively at Hatake Kakashi and his futile attempt at besting him in a battle. "We've come looking for something..." He tautly replied.
"Looking for something?" Though exhausted from the short but intense battle, Kakashi's eyes narrowed in suspicion at his opponent's words. In his mind, he whirled through the possibilities of anything inside Konoha that would be of value to Itachi and the Akatsuki and finally stumbled upon two possibilities. "You're looking for Sasuke... aren't you?" He asked, tensing his body with the anticipation of going full out against the famous Uchiha prodigy even though he was already slightly battered and bruised. He could feel his two comrades behind him (Asuma and Kurenai) also tensing in anticipation for the battle to come.
After a short pause, Itachi decided to enlighten them in regards to his purpose for returning to Konoha. "No." He stated succinctly. "We are after the fourth Hokage's legacy." He murmured softly and yet conspiringly.
Shocked into silence, both Asuma and Kurenai knotted their closed eyes together, slightly confused as to what Itachi is talking about and wondering if Kakashi had been able to decipher the cryptic clue. Finally, Kakashi spoke out, with a very menacing tone of voice, as if daring Itachi to lay a hand on whatever object or subject he had returned to look for. "What do you want with him?" He asked dangerously.
Kakashi had remembered the conversation he had had with Jiraiya not that many days ago, when the old man had informed him that Naruto was currently being hunted down by a very powerful organisation known as the Akatsuki. For the past 6 years that Jiraiya had lived outside of the Leaf village, he had not only travelled from place to place with Naruto, he had also acted as a spy for the Leaf – following the footsteps of his prior comrade turned traitor – Orochimaru.
It was during that time that he had discovered the existence of the Akatsuki – a powerful organisation made up on only S-class missing Nins, including 2 of Konoha's most deadly ninjas – Orochimaru and Uchiha Itachi. That was why he had Naruto in the first place to scout out more information about the formation of this organisation – only to return to find Naruto had gone through a traumatic event, which had almost cost him his soul. (1) That was why since that day forth, whenever Jiraiya had to leave for a mission or any other reason other, leaving Naruto behind, he had always left behind a clone of his just to make sure the boy doesn't get into trouble. He had also realised early on that Naruto could be a potential target for Akatsuki and such, had immediately moved the boy to the safest location in the world – the Kuunokigakure no sato (Hidden Air village).
"Is your target… the Kyuubi inside of Naruto? Or is it... Naruto himself?" Kakashi asked through his gritted teeth and panting breath. He could see that both Itachi and Hoshigaki Kisame were surprised that he knew who their target was. "What does the Akatsuki want with him?" Kakashi threatened, though due to his almost exhausted state, it didn't look very threatening.
Just as Kisame launched himself towards Kakashi and his two Leaf Shinobis, intending to slice and dice them to pieces, he was knocked away by the famous 'Green Beast of the Leaf' – Maito Gai himself.
Irritated at being bested by such a freak, Kisame was about to charge towards the Konoha Nins again when Itachi ordered him to stop. "Enough, Kisame. We did not come here to start a war. If we continue, it would simply be a waste of our time."
Kisame gritted his teeth in a sneer against the Leaf Nins. "I still want my revenge." He spoke dangerously as a small glint of insanity appeared in his shark-like eyes.
"It is of no consequence, or have you forgotten why we are here in the first place. Our target is no longer in the Leaf, and as such, there is no point for us staying in the Leaf. Let's go." And with that said and done, both Akatsuki members disappeared into clouds of smoke.
"Shouldn't we pursue them?" Kurenai asked quietly, unsure of whether they should be doing their duty by hunting down these missing Nins or should they take care of Kakashi first.
Gai narrowed his eyes in concentration. "I will pursue them. Kurenai – you take Kakashi to the hospital immediately. Asuma – inform the councillors of this incident. Let's just hope that Jiraiya-sama and Naruto-kun are strong enough to hold them off, because I really don't think there is anyone one here that can best them." Once he had finished his orders, Gai also disappeared into a cloud of smoke, leaving Kurenai and Asuma to do as they were told.
Sasuke huffed breathlessly as he bent forward in exhaustion, clasping his hands on his knees to keep him up, retaining enough energy to stop himself from tipping over onto the ground. Still panting, he glared at the two massive holes upon the massive rock surface directly in front of him. Deep in his heart, a maelstrom of emotions swirled within him, all concerning the single entity of Uzumaki Naruto – his one true rival and comrade in arms.
"You're only gonna be a burden to me!!!"
Sasuke gritted his teeth firmly, enough to feel them gnaw against one another, fuelling his anger, frustration and jealousy over his team mate's power and authority. /I'M NOT WEAK!!!!/ He swore to himself. /I'LL PROVE TO HIM THAT I'M NOT WEAK!!!/ Sasuke promised as he gathered chakra once again, performing a list of seals as fast as he possibly could and released a giant fireball at the poor rock formation that he had chosen to become his new training opponent.
Suddenly realising he had very little chakra left within his body, Sasuke automatically slumped forward into a kneeling position on the ground, needing his arms to support his upper body from slamming onto the hard ground directly in front of him. /WHAT HAVE I BEEN DOING ALL THIS TIME?!/ He asked himself desperately. /WHILE NARUTO CONTINUES TO GROW STRONGER AND STRONGER EACH TIME I SEE HIM, WHAT THE HELL HAVE I BEEN DOING ALL THIS TIME???!!!/
Sasuke had realised that with every difficult battle that their team had met up against, it was always Naruto who eventually bailed them out of trouble. First was against Haku and Zabuza, then Orochimaru, and finally Gaara. /How many more times do I need HIM to rescue me before I STOP being so weak!!/ He growled to himself mentally, berating himself for all his weakness and needing a fellow Genin to save his life. /HOW AM I SUPPOSE TO KILL ITACHI IF I CAN'T EVEN SAVE MYSELF?! /
Emotionally and physically exhausted, Sasuke allowed his body to slump forward, landing awkwardly onto the dusty ground below him. Ignoring the dirt upon his body as well as the pain of moving, Sasuke turned his body around so that he was facing the sky instead of the ground. There he stared at the unending blue above him and wondered.
/Every single time, Naruto had to bail ME out of trouble... ME?! Uchiha Sasuke! The Genius of the Uchiha Clan! Needing someone else to rescue ME?! What's wrong with me.../ Shaking his head from continuing to berate himself, Sasuke concentrating on what he knew of Naruto's fighting style and weaknesses. /Every time I thought I had figured that guy out, he pops up with something completely new and unique that I have never seen before. He has that powerful Tenkun no buki at his side that he refuses to use in my presence ever since the Zabuza incident, he rarely teaches Sakura or me any other Jutsus now that we've mastered the original ones he gave to us. He treats us more like known strangers than as friends or even allies. Even Sakura hadn't seen him since he left the Chuunin Tower after the Preliminaries. He's got too much mystery behind him and he refuses to share any of them with us. What kind of comrade is that?! That was when Sasuke finally came to a realisation... I don't know him at all, do I? ... I don't know anything about Uzumaki Naruto... His strengths, his weaknesses, his likes, his dislikes... I haven't learnt a single thing about him in all the time I've known him... why?/
Sighing in frustration, Sasuke pushed aside his anger and jealousy towards his teammate, knowing that it was simply a side effect of having a teammate that was stronger than him. He had once believed that if he trained hard enough, learnt more unique and powerful jutsus, then maybe he would have a chance of equalling Naruto's power. But it seems that he was wrong. If Naruto continued to evolve with each battle that he encounters, then how was Sasuke ever going to catch up to him? And if Sasuke couldn't even catch up to his blond teammate, what right did he have to pursue Itachi for revenge? These were questions that Sasuke couldn't answer, or simply wouldn't answer, for he knew that the answer would not satisfy him.
He had lived every single day of his life since that day forth to pursue his ambition of killing his brother. It was for that sole purpose that he had survived until this day. But he just couldn't understand how Naruto could have bested him in all areas of being a Ninja. For as long as Uchiha Sasuke had known Uzumaki Naruto, Naruto had always been a mystery to both him and Sakura. He rarely talks about himself, if at all, and when he does, the information was usually vague and of no importance at all. He had learnt more about Naruto from Kabuto's Nin Info cards then all the months he had spent in the blonde's companionship. This was a really distressing realisation.
/What HAVE I been doing all this time?/ He asked himself again as he pondered the massive difference in skill between himself and Naruto. There and then, Uchiha Sasuke came to a decision. /I will become stronger. NO matter what the cost. No matter what the price. I will find a way to become stronger than Naruto. And then, I'll go after Itachi and kill him. Once that's done and over with... I find a way to revive my clan./ It was a simple, almost childish dream, but the only dream that had kept Sasuke going in his dark days of depression and loneliness. It was the only he had left to push him forward and he will seize it with all his strength, never to let go until he had achieved what he had set out to do.
Releasing a large sigh, Sasuke struggled to his feet. Once up right, he decided that it was a good time to go home, maybe have lunch, take a shower and go straight to bed. He had, after all, spent the last 2 days in this very clearing, punching his frustrations out on the poor rock while he furiously thought over the difference in strength between himself and Naruto. Having taken a short break for the third Hokage's funeral service wasn't enough to calm his emotions, he had returned straight after the service to continue his self-mutilation practice and inner scolding, all of which didn't help him in this predicament at all.
Stumbling blindly towards where his subconscious mind thought home was, Sasuke was abruptly brought out of his musings when a loud explosion sounded off in the distance. He could vaguely distinguish the sound of splattering water some distance away from his very location. Curious about who was involved and what kind of ninja battle was, Sasuke thought that perhaps he could take advantage of the training or battle that is going on, and collect a few more jutsus to add to his arsenal using his Sharingan. Decision made, Sasuke hurried off to the origin of the fight as fast as his exhausted body could take him.
When Sasuke finally made it to the place where he thought the sound of battle (which had abruptly stopped after the gigantic water explosion from before) originated from, he suddenly found himself frozen into shock. /That... that man... He couldn't be... He... He.../ His thoughts whirled around frantically all over Sasuke's mind, suspecting and yet completely in denial of what he was currently seeing. Two men, cloaked in black with strange cloud designs, stood nonchalantly in front of four tense Konoha Jounins, one of which was his own teacher, an exhausted looking Kakashi.
But it wasn't the strange circumstance of having two foreign ninjas, supposedly much stronger than Konoha's elite Jounins that had Sasuke surprised and stunned into a statue like state. It was that Sasuke recognised one of those dark cloaked men to be none other than his hateful brother, Uchiha Itachi.
/Itachi!!! ITACHI!!!! That bastard finally showed his face again. He DARED show his face again!!!/ Sasuke could do nothing else except shiver in slight fear as he looked at his brother's cold and emotionless eyes. One part of him raged that his brother dared to return to Konoha as if it were as easy as a stroll in the park and wanted nothing more than the plunge a Chidori right into the man's beating heart; another part of him couldn't bring himself to launch an offensive attack at his brother. It was the same fear that had crippled Sasuke since the day he had watched his clan slaughtered by the man in front of him, the man who still plagued his nightmares day and night.
Suddenly, both Itachi and his companion (a pale skinned man who looked strangely similar to a shark) disappeared into smoke, having made their escape in a very professional manner. Shaking himself out of his stunned oblivion, Sasuke instantly started ranting at himself for the missed opportunity to kill his brother. /He was RIGHT THERE!! Right there and I couldn't do a thing except stand here and watch!? What kind of Fking am I?! HE WAS RIGHT THERE!!/ Mentally berating himself, Sasuke willingly released the old rage and insane madness that had almost eaten his soul so many years ago, this time, he would let it run its course. No matter what the cost, he would use anything and everything he had to defeat and kill his brother. The time for snivelling in fear is over! Even if he must rely on the strange, corruptive power Orochimaru had given him, he would, if only to defeat his so called genius brother, avenge his fallen clan and kill the bastard that had stolen everything from him.
Noticing that Gai had suddenly rushed off to the distance, Sasuke didn't even hesitate before he summoned forth all the Chakra from what's left of his very being and rushed off after the green clad man, leaving behind two stunned Jounins (who had just noticed his presence) and one unconscious teacher.
Once Sasuke had disappeared into the trees, running after Gai. Both Kurenai and Asuma looked at his each other in question, both understanding that it was dangerous for the last Uchiha heir to rush off into battle, especially against the dangerous S-Class missing nin, Uchiha Itachi. But then again, they both understood that they had a duty to perform, and it most definitely wasn't babysitting a revenge-obsessed boy. If Kakashi had been well and healthy, perhaps the boy would at least listen to his own sensei, but with Kakashi now unconscious and more of a burden and any help to his comrades, Kurenai and Asuma came to a silent agreement. They will go and do what Gai had ordered them to do in the first place – take Kakashi to the hospital and tell the Councillors of Itachi's sudden appearance and that Sasuke had gone after him.
Though knowing that they were only doing their jobs to the best of their ability, both Kurenai and Asuma couldn't get rid of the dread and deep trepidation that everything was going so very wrong at the moment. They could only hope that Naruto and Jiraiya could fend for themselves against 2 S-class missing nin, and that Gai could somehow keep Sasuke out of harms way. Leaping into the distance, that was all Kurenai and Asuma could hope for.
Naruto glared suspiciously at the busy town's people that surrounded them. "Tell me again, pervert Sennin. WHY ARE WE HERE?!"
Smiling stupidly at the number of women walking along this busy street, filled with people and sounds of stall owners advertising their goods, Jiraiya was literarily drooling in delight. "Oh come on. Naruto. What's the rush? It's not like whether we find Tsunade today or tomorrow is gonna make any difference. Let's have some fun while we're on our way, shall we? After all, it's been a while since we last travelled, eh?" Jiraiya wiped away a drool of saliva as he spoke casually to his eye-twitching student.
Grimacing in disgust, Naruto reminded himself to stay calm and focused. /Now is not a good time to bash his head in!/ He had almost forgotten what type of travelling companion Jiraiya had been since he had spent such a long time in a stable environment and surrounded by other people's influences.
It's not that Jiraiya doesn't get the job done. On the contrary, the man would probably do it very well. It's just that he isn't very reliable when it comes to TIMING. If given a time limit, he would probably break it by a few weeks at the earliest and a few years at the latest. The white haired old man isn't exactly your typical latecomer, like Kakashi, but he's just sooooo easily distracted by other aspects, namely – the female gender, his peeping hobby and book writing skill, as well as alcohol, though thank god Jiraiya isn't a gambler. If not, both him and Naruto would probably find themselves sleeping and living in the forest most of the time.
Naruto sighed heavily, looking sadly up at the sky as if asking: 'God... Why me?' before pulling himself together to give his old guardian a fierce glare. "We have to find Tsunade-sama to take over the position of Hokage as soon as possible, or have you forgotten that there is a maniac Snake Sannin who wants to destroy Konoha no matter what the cost and that with both you and I out here doing this stupid errand, there's possibly NO ONE inside the Leaf right now who could stand up against him even with his arms sealed as the third had done!?" Naruto yelled all in one breath.
Jiraiya blinked at his student in astonishment. For the first time in a very long time, Naruto was actually passionate about doing something for the Leaf. In fact, Jiraiya couldn't remember a time where Naruto was ever loyal to the Leaf village at all, let alone wanting to do such 'stupid' errands for them. He was surprised at the boy's fiery speech, acting as if he truly cared for the Leaf village. /Minato... You would be proud... He's growing up so fast now.../ The old senin thought to himself but outwardly, he only shrugged in response to the boy's outcry and continued to ogle at all the pretty ladies walking around, trying to find one that would catch his eyes.
All of a sudden, he spotted a beautiful young woman who had long, silky black hair, wearing a tight crop top that showed off the shape of her chest and exposed the smooth skin on her shoulders. She winked at the old pervert knowingly and instantly he was under her spell.
Naruto's eyebrows twitched dangerously as he continued to glare upon his perverted teacher as the white haired man seemingly floated across towards said girl. /What's wrong with that women? Can't she see that she's only attracting that stupid old man?! GOD! Why am I stuck with him?! Why couldn't it be someone else?!/ Mentally berating himself and most of all – Jiraiya - for the old man's perverted ways, Naruto suddenly felt a physical twitch of pain from his chest area. Rubbing the skin above his heart, Naruto frowned in confusion, not understanding why his body suddenly reacted like that when he knew that he hadn't sustained any damage. Abruptly, the pain started up again, this time, it was a sharp spark burning through his chest as if someone had stabbed a hot blade into it – forcing a short gasp out of Naruto's mouth. As suddenly as the pain came, it disappeared just as quick.
Now Naruto was suspicious about that pain, the only time his body would react in such a weird way was when the Yochigan erratically acted up again. And if it was the Yochigan acting up, that means that something bad was going to happen, or is happening as they speak. Frowning again, this time in suspicion and nervousness, Naruto thought over everything that had happened that morning to see if that there was anything going on that could account for his Yochigan acting up but could not find anything.
The only people who had known that Naruto and Jiraiya were leaving that morning had been the people in the special council meeting, all of whom had sworn an oath of secrecy, even Sakura and Shikamaru wouldn't have told anyone he was leaving. In that case, what could possibly to going wrong now?
Not trusting anything up to chance, Naruto quickly made a decision to leave this town as soon as possible, namely now... that is, if he can drag his errant sensei away from the pretty girl's clutches. "Oi! Pervert Sennin!!! We have to go! NOW!" Noticing that Jiraiya hadn't heard a word he said, Naruto stomped over, grabbed the man's octopus hands and started dragging him away from the girl, only to find himself dragging something as heavy as a mountain. /Note to self, Jiraiya can be INCREDIBLY ANNOYING when he doesn't want to move!!/ Naruto mentally counted.
After trying several minutes, unsuccessfully, to drag Jiraiya more than a metre from the still winking girl, Naruto started to lose his temper. Fuming internally at his stubborn sensei, Naruto glared at the girl, deciding that she was the one to blame for all this. As he continued to glare, he noticed certain subtleties upon her aura that was abnormal to the average person. /Is that... It is!? Genjutsu!! She's under some Genjutsu!! A powerful one at that!/ Finally noting the rare Genjutsu at play upon the girl's mind, Naruto quickly tried to deflect the illusion from her. "KAI!" But to no avail, the Genjutsu continued to go on its course. /Damn! Must be powerful if I couldn't even deflect it./
Frowning, knowing that he would require help. Naruto dragged Jiraiya's ear all the way down to his own height lever before yelling into the man's ear: "WAKE UP!!! YOU PERVERTED SENNIN!!!" Finally catching the man's attention, Naruto continued on using a whispered, urgent voice, ignoring all the strange looks people were starting to give them. "She seems to be under a very strong Genjutsu, I can't deflect it, what about you?"
Jiraiya, finally pulling himself out of his perverted mode, glanced at the girl with a critical eye this time, and finally noticed the strange aura that surrounded her. The change was very slight, and only a very elite ninja would even notice the change, however, even if the Genjutsu was identified, something of this calibre would still be difficult to deflect, as Naruto had demonstrated. Jiraiya however, does have the right ability to deflect such a high ranking Genjutsu, but the question now remains, who had put the Genjutsu on her in the first place and what should they do about it.
As if reading the old man's mind, Naruto quickly supplied a suggestion. He's now starting to assert himself more in decision making situations than before, showing that he truly was growing out of his childish ways of only following whatever his guardian decided upon. "We should make a clone of ourselves and have it continue on its course. Then, we hide our real selves and watch from a safe distance as to what will happen next. At least then, we'll know whom we're dealing with." Jiraiya nodded slightly and they both made quick, almost invisible hand seals, creating identical Kage Bunshins of themselves. But before the Clones were even completed, Naruto had called forth a teleporting jutsu, pulling himself and Jiraiya to a safe distance away, while placing the clones in their stead.
Once everything was ready, both Jiraiya and Naruto crouched in hiding, watching as their clones interested with the oblivious girl and the people around the street, who were still unaware of the switch, since it was done so perfectly and seamlessly, very few could tell the difference. Even a Sharingan eye wouldn't have been able to tell the difference, especially if they weren't looking at the people who performed it at exactly the right time the jutsus were performed.
An hour later, Naruto and Jiraiya finally found out who they were up against, and they were not very happy about who their opponents turned out to be...
Though Naruto couldn't recognise the two cloaked men cornering his clone to an empty alleyway on the edges of town, but he could still sense the dangerously powerful aura that surrounded both of them, one having a far more menacing power than the other. /They must be S-Class Missing Nins or something by the looks of their forehead protectors. One's an ex-Leaf Shinobi, while the other is an ex-Mist Shinobi. Damn! I wish I know who I'm up against, but they both feel so powerful... Especially the short one./ Naruto gulped in tense nervousness. He had never faced up against an S-Class missing Nin before in his life. Jounin, Chuunin, Genin, Anbu and even some Hunter Nin yes, but never an S-Class Missing Nin. Of course, Zabuza's not counted.
Jiraiya on the other, hand recognised both of the Missing Nins, and he was most definitely not happy at who they turned out to be. /Damn! Why does the Akatsuki have to pick NOW to come after Naruto?!/ He internally cursed.
Without looking over at his pupil, Jiraiya whispered to the boy what exactly he should do next. "Naruto, tell your clone to act scared." He murmured under his breath. Naruto looked back at him curiously but didn't reply verbally, knowing that Jiraiya was completely focused on the situation at hand.
It was true that the Akatsuki had tried before to capture Naruto, but since Naruto and Jiraiya had always been travelling, never stopping long enough to be noticed, the Akatsuki had never come close to finding them before. After all the years of silence, Jiraiya had been lured into a false sense of security, especially after Naruto had declared himself a Kuunoki Shinobi as well as a Leaf nin.
Not many Ninja villages in the world would dare challenge the power of the Kuunoki, not because they really fear the small village's wrath but because there is an air of uncertainty concerning the Kuunoki Shinobi's actual power. Since the only contact the world had with the Hidden Air village had been through either their diplomats or their Gate Guardians (2), the rest of the world had been led into an assumption that the Kuunoki were truly powerful people. After all, no one really knows much about them at all.
And now, it seems the fact that Naruto is protected by the laws of the Kuunoki no Sato wasn't even a concern to the Akatsuki. Because if Jiraiya was correct in his assumptions, both Uchiha Itachi and Hoshigaki Kisame weren't interested in negotiating the terms and conditions of Naruto's capture with the Lady Oracle at all. Action speaks more than words. Jiraiya grimaced at the fact that he'd have to fight both of them. /Man! Why couldn't we just slip away?!/ He mentally cried.
"Naruto-kun. We would like you to come with us." Itachi calmly stated, cold, red, Sharingan eyes gazed unflinchingly at the slightly shuddering boy in front of him.
"Who... Who are you? ... Why do you have the Sharingan?" The Naruto clone stuttered as even he could feel the enormity of the man's chakra and power.
Kisame smirked at the cowering boy. "Heh! You sure this is the Kyuubi brat we're looking for, Itachi? He don't seem very special to me." He sneered at the boy.
/Itachi?! UCHIHA Itachi?! The one Jiraiya told me about. The man that massacred his entire clan, leaving only Sasuke behind?! Oh dear god.../ The clone thought to himself as he sent the new information to his host mentally, noting the following shocked response from his creator. (3)
Blinking in shock, the real Naruto glanced back at Jiraiya's tense and narrowed eyed expression, finally understanding why Jiraiya wanted him to hide his true potential, especially in the face of the infamous Uchiha prodigy. Even during the time he was living back in the Leaf village almost 7 years ago, Naruto had heard of the prodigy of the Uchiha clan. A genius who was able to attain the rank of Chuunin at the mere age of 7, Uchiha Itachi, the now renowned destroyer of his own clan. If Naruto couldn't even defeat Orochimaru using a Tenkun no Buki, there was no way he could possibly win against Itachi, even with help. Returning his gaze back to his clone, he silently ordered the Bunshin to act scared and nervous, anything to draw the two men's attention away from the real him.
"Maybe we should cut off his legs. After all, we don't want the brat to be able to run around all the place." Kisame threatened as he griped his Samehada (shark skin) sword tighter than necessary.
Not wanting Naruto's clone to be discovered so soon, Jiraiya's clone chose that very moment to appear behind the two men, at the entry of the blocked alleyway. "Oi! What do you two think you're doing?" Jiraiya ordered in a pissed off tone of voice.
Itachi glanced at the white haired man with disinterest in his eyes while Kisame lifted an eyebrow in surprise. "Well. Well. If it isn't the Legendary Sennin himself, Jiraiya eh? We're heard that you liked beautiful women but didn't expect that you'd be stalled this long. So, you did finally manage to break Itachi's Genjutsu spell, didn't you?" He gloated, testing to see if the Sannin would take the bait or not. When Jiraiya took no action against the comment, Kisame shrugged in a nonchalant manner.
Ignoring Kisame's sarcastic comment, Jiraiya looked directly at Itachi. "Why? What is the purpose of kidnapping Naruto? What do the Akatsuki plan to do with him?" He demanded in a calm and serious tone of voice.
Unblinking, Itachi answered in a vague way. " 'Abduct Naruto.' Those were the words that the higher echelon of our organisation – Akatsuki - gave to us. That is all we know. That is all we care."
Narrowing his eyes in anger, Jiraiya was just about to launch back his own argument when he felt an unknown presence suddenly turning up behind him. /Shit! Is it another one of the Akatsuki?!/ He thought to himself frantically, but was brought abruptly out of his panic when the bowel hair cut of Maito Gai suddenly appeared out of a cloud of smoke, directly beside him.
"Jiraiya-sama!" yelled the self-proclaimed green beast of Konoha as he landed next to one of his all time idols. Looking up at Kisame and Itachi suddenly, Gai lost his ready smile and tensed his body into an up-right stance, pulling his right hand forward in his favourite battle posture, looking serious. "Uchiha Itachi." He stated calmly. "You! Who have bested my eternal rival, Hatake Kakashi, shall pay for all the crimes you have done in accordance to Konoha law!" He suddenly proclaimed out loud.
Kisame lifted his eyes in disbelief at the stupid looking man while Itachi didn't even bat an eyelash. Jiraiya just grimaced at having to stand next to the odd man while Naruto simply sweat dropped behind his head. However, to all their surprise a new voice had arisen from the sudden quiet atmosphere, the voice of someone they did not want to be anywhere near the vicinity, and one they really wished they hadn't heard.
"ITACHI!!!!!!!!" Sasuke yelled as he rushed passed the stunned form of both Maito Gai and Jiraiya, ignoring their shouts for withdrawal. Consumed by his hate for his brother, Sasuke blindly ran towards the man who had made him suffer, the man who had betrayed his greatest trust and shattered his life's dream, the man who had made him an avenger. Charging the Chidori within his left hand with all he's got, Sasuke aimed his electrified hand towards his brother's ice-cold heart, aiming to stab right through the very man who had plagued his life since the incident occurred.
Standing calm and ignoring his younger brother's outcry, Itachi seamlessly snapped Sasuke's electrified hand mere centimetres before it contacted his very chest. A loud blast of explosion erupted when the Chidori's path of destruction was suddenly halted by Itachi's very action. The Chidori, having no where to turn its effects, exploded, demolishing one entire side wall of the alleyway for several rooms in a row. The sudden silence after the blow was deafening to all the people involved.
Sasuke glared hatefully at Itachi. Itachi gazed piercingly cold at Sasuke. Both were at a small standstill that was not to last. "You're in the way." With a quick snap, Sasuke suddenly found his wrists broken and he screamed in agony. The child's cry seem to suddenly bring both Gai and Jiraiya out of their stunned silence and both immediately launched into action. Seeing both the green clad man and the white haired man rushing at him, Itachi decided to be rid of one of them at the very least. Pulling the broken wrist up, Itachi slammed his left leg directly into Sasuke's chest, crushing some of his ribs and knowing that at least a few of them had punctured the boy's lung in the process. With the sudden impact, Sasuke flew backwards by the powerful force of Itachi's kick, halting only when he smashed against Gai and brought both of them onto the ground in a haphazard landing.
Jiraiya, managing to avoid the flying debris that is Sasuke, continued to run forward towards Itachi while completing a set of hand seals of his own. The Naruto clone too, had been brought out of his quiet contemplation of what to do when Sasuke screamed, launching himself into his own set of hand seals, only to be stopped by Kisame and his strange sword.
Kisame, having noticed Naruto's hand seals, immediately swiped his Samehada (shark skin) painfully across Naruto's face. Smashing the boy's face against the corner wall's hard surface and digging some of the sword's sharp edges into the boy's delicate skin, bringing out blood while cancelling the boy's jutsu by sucking his chakra dry. "Heh. Don't even think about it, kid. My 'Samehada' absorbs Chakra."
Glaring through his narrowed eyes, the Naruto clone unexpectedly smirked at the shark like man. Noticing the smirk, Kisame frowned, wondering what the hell the boy was so happy about. Suddenly, the Naruto that was stuck between the wall and his sword puffed into non-existence, leaving only a cloud of smoke behind. /WHAT THE HELL!?/ Kisame was shocked.
"Kage Bunshin no Jutsu." Answered a still calm Itachi as he now turned his attention to the rapidly approaching Jiraiya, narrowing his eyes slightly at the unexpected turn of events.
"Ninpou: Gama Guchi Shibari!" (Ninjutsu: Toad Mouth Bind) Jiraiya called out as he suddenly stopped his approach and slammed both his palms onto the ground, instantly morphing their immediate surrounding into that of his special jutsu. The walls of the digestive track lining within one of his special summons – Iwagama - followed Jiraiya's silent orders, constricting its muscles in such a way that it closed off all routes of escape for the two Missing Nins, except for the way that was currently being blocked by Jiraiya himself. Loosing much chakra at having to perform this jutsu, the Jiraiya clone yelled out for both Itachi and Kisame to surrender, but naturally, both fugitives ignored the warning.
Taking note that all around them, the stomach walls were growing larger and larger at an exponential rate, Itachi decided a temporary retreat was in order. After all, they haven't been given a definite time limit to accomplish their task and there have been many people before them who had failed on this very same mission. In this sense, a little leeway in the procedure of accomplishing their task was in order.
"Kisame! Come!" Itachi raised his voice slightly, catching his companion's attention as he closed his eyes in focus. /Mangekyou Sharingan! Amaterasu! (Kaleidoscope Sharingan! Heavenly Light!)/ (4) Opening his eyes quickly, a flash beam of pure black fire burst from his eyelids and rapidly burnt through the wall of muscle and flesh. (5) Less than a tenth of a second later, Itachi had released his powerful jutsu and launched himself out of the newly created opening, with Kisame not far behind.
The Jiraiya clone gapped openly at how easily Itachi was able to break out of his jutsu, a jutsu that was supposedly impossible to escape. Hearing a grunt of pain from behind him, Jiraiya turned around to look at the frustrated gaze of Gai and the unconscious form of Sasuke draping over the green clad man. Seeing Jiraiya frowning in confusion, Gai decided to explain. "The boy wanted to get back into the fight, but I wouldn't let him. Eventually, I had no choice but to knock him out. I'm sorry for not helping enough, Jiraiya-sama." Gai commented sincerely, already mentally scolding himself for his lack of action.
The Jiraiya clone suddenly turned into a cloud of smoke when Gai finished his explanations, shocking the man even further. /IT WAS A CLONE!!!???/ He mentally questioned as he heard a soft cough from behind him. Turning around, Gai found himself face to face with two solemn faces belonging to the real Jiraiya and Naruto.
Leaving Naruto to help heal up Sasuke's injuries, Jiraiya took the time to seal whatever special fire Jutsu that Itachi had used to burn a whole through his own special Jutsu. "Fuuin Jutsu: Fuuka Houin! (Sealing Jutsu: Fire Sealing Method)" Jiraiya called out as he focussed his chakra into gathering the remnants of Itachi's black fire and burning its presence into the newly written scroll in front of him. Once the scroll was secured and kept safe, Jiraiya turned to Gai to give him his next orders. "Gai. You and Sasuke should go back and stay in the Leaf."
Looking up at Jiraiya sadly, Gai tried to protest. "But Jiraiya-sama. What if you need help later on? What if Itachi and Kisame came after you guys again?"
Jiraiya stalled the rest of his protest with a shook of his head. "Don't worry about us, Gai. We can take care about ourselves. Just take the boy home and keep him there. Who knows what's gonna happen now that he'd meet his brother again. Damn! This is getting more complicated by the minute." Jiraiya swore, rubbing his face tiredly.
Standing up straight and looking sadly over the beaten and bruised form of Sasuke, Naruto nodded to himself silently before turning around and leaving the immediate premises. "Jiraiya. Let's go." He called out in an unenthusiastic voice.
Lifting an eyebrow at the boy's sudden change of attitude, Jiraiya could do nothing more than follow the boy's footsteps, calling out his goodbye's to Gai as he went along.
Gai picked up Sasuke's prone form quietly and steadied the boy onto his back. Just before he was about to leave the vicinity, he heard Naruto call back to him with a final message.
"Oi! Gai-san! Tell the Councillors that we'll be back in 5 days MAX!" Naruto promised, lifting up a thumb's up sign from his right hand and standing in a good guy pose. It was a promise he wasn't about to break. With the tension back to normal standards, both groups started on their own way again, one heading home back to Konoha while the other set off, more determined than before, to finish their quest as fast as possible.
/No matter the cost, I keep my promises./
(1) Jiraiya left Naruto when he was 9 years old – during the time when Naruto met Elle.. and well, you know how that ended up.
(2) 'Gate Guardians' of the Kuunoki are similar to the 'Hunter Nins' of the Ninja villages. They guard the gates of the Hidden Air village, preventing people to go in and out. And if anyone did sneak in or out of the Hidden Air village, it was their job to kill whoever the trespasser is, even if they were their own kinsmen.
(3) I'm assuming that there is a way to mentally communicate between the clones and their creator. After all, looking at the intricate battle strategies used by Naruto in the series. Even though each clone have their own mind and specific personalities, they are still inherent copies of the original and were created by the original's chakra, so with a bit a twitch, it should be possible for them to communicate among each other mentally. Tell me if I'm wrong people!
(4) Translation for the 'Amaterasu' was inspired by NarutoEx website. They called it the 'Light of the Heavens', so I just shortened it to 'Heavenly Light'.
(5) Um... no one really knows HOW Itachi summons forth that weird fire thingy, but this is how I interpret it... so yeah... if I got it wrong... not my fault, okay?
How do you guys like it so far? I actually didn't have the fight planned out in such a way, but once again, my muse turned out to be rebellious and I finally gave in to it and this is the result. Well, hope you guys liked it. Please read and review. I appreciate all the comments and ideas.