A/N: Okay, so, haha. It's been ages since I've updated this fic. I'm extremely sorry. I lost interest in Naruto awhile back, but since then have regain said interest. It shouldn't take me, um, this long to update again.
So yeah, this fic is totally an AU now. Or maybe AT? Whoops. For the purpose of this story, Naruto is Konohamaru, Moegi, and Udon's teacher.
There were two demons sitting across from each other, playing cards and sipping tea. They looked like perfectly normal human twins; the only thing noticeably different about them from mortals being their abnormally pointed claws and sharp teeth and slits for pupils.
Not to mention their cat ears and tails.
And the fact that they were secluded to the center of the Great Naruto Bridge, unable to move more than twenty feet to the left or to the right. By a force field that was just visually not there.
They didn't seem to mind, though. Instead, they chatted amiably while sipping their tea. Their conversation was interesting. They were talking at each other, not to each other. It didn't help that they continuously completed the other's sentence, despite the different topics they were tittering about.
"O' course 'e'll recognize us! We was best buddies, back inna—"
"—day. Can you believe what Oroshi was goin' on about? Yenno, tha' outfit 'e was wearing did nothin' for—"
"—'is eyes. Y'hear they call 'im Naruto now? An' that 'e's in a body o' a mortal? Poor kid, 'e's probably goin' daft. Really, I mean—"
And so on and so forth.
Naruto watched them with his head cocked to the side. He was sitting just outside of the force field, completely in view of the two demons, but they seemed much more interested in their cards than in the blonde sitting just so many feet away from them. The card game they were playing seemed slightly familiar to Naruto, but he couldn't quite put his finger on it. Perhaps it was something the kyuubi played, back in the day.
"Y'owe me two gold pieces, mate."
The cat demon to the left perked his ears forward, and suddenly he was frowning. "Y'cheated."
"Y'have no proof!"
"Y'bloody cheater! I oughta knock yer head off."
"How d'ya know?"
"'Coz I been cheatin', too, and you do everything like me."
The first cat demon snarled, then tackled the second. One of them grabbed the other's ears and Naruto cleared his throat. Startled, the cat demons looked up.
"Ichiro!" This was said in unison.
Naruto blinked. "What?"
The Great Naruto Bridge
Chapter Two: Breakdown
"This is all your fault."
"How is it my fault?"
"I don't even know where I'm going! You should be leading! Isn't this like the forest near your home? You know this area better!"
Inari stared at Konohamaru in disbelief. He didn't bother to argue that despite similar landmarks, this was definitely not the forest he was used to. He sighed and pulled off his hat to run his fingers through his hair, a habit he picked up from his mother when she was stressed. His mother was always stressed. It was getting worrisome. Her hair was turning gray.
"We don't have time to be arguing right now, Konohamaru. We've got to find a way out of here."
"Naruto-sensei should be able to find us."
"We can't depend on him! Besides, how would he know where to look?"
"Konohamaru." Inari took a deep breath, pinching the bridge of his nose. "Do you realize that we're in another dimension?"
Konohamaru looked up at the swirling sky and shrugged. "Put a little more faith in ninjas. They always know how to show up in the nick of time."
Naruto was giving Sasuke the silent treatment, something in which Sasuke was eternally grateful for. It was, after all, the only time he got any peace these days.
He was watching the interaction between their two groups of students, and was pleased to see they were finally getting along. Moegi and Suzumi seemed to have gotten over their differences and were gossiping amiably (about the people sitting so near them, too. These girls were gutsy) while Udon was wiping out Hikaru in Go. Junsuke had his head cocked to the side and was listening to something only Naruto seemed to also hear.
"Junsuke," said Naruto, catching the attention of the pale eyed boy. "Is the kyuubi trying to talk to you?"
Junsuke blushed and ducked his head to the side, and Hikaru watched out of the corner of his eye. So intent was the brash boy on his uncomfortable other that he completely missed Udon switching their pieces.
"Yes," Junsuke admitted, biting his lower lip. "But he's too powerful for me to understand."
"Then tell him to shove off," Hikaru cut in, dropping his eyes back to the board. He frowned and concentrated on the pieces, and then looked at Udon and scowled. "Did you just switch the pieces?"
"No," Udon said so flatly that Hikaru had to believe him.
"And did you see Sasuke-sensei check out Naruto-sensei's butt?!" Suzumi squealed.
The room fell silent except for the giggles from Suzumi and Moegi.
Sasuke decided to ignore that, and willed everyone else to, also. He would get his revenge on the girls later.
Naruto looked like he had no idea how to respond to that, so instead he gave Sasuke a meaningful look that practically screamed that the black haired ANBU would catch hell for that, later.
"How exactly does your power work?" Naruto continued, determinedly. He wouldn't let a couple of girls distract him.
"I'm sure you of all people know that demons usually speak in a demonic language, and only switch to human language when they want to bug humans." Junsuke shrugged, seeming to relax a little bit. After all, Hikaru was just a couple of feet nearby and Sasuke was keeping an eye on all of them. He had nothing to worry about, even though Naruto was housing such a powerful, dangerous demon.
"And?" Naruto urged.
"And I can understand both languages." Junsuke locked his fingers together and offered a tiny smile. "To me, I can't even tell the differ—"
"And I swear I saw Naruto-sensei blush when Sasuke-sensei was in the shower! I think he wanted to join him."
Once again, dead silence. Tazuna, who had entered right at that moment, turned around and walked back out. Moments later, they could hear the older man guffaw loudly in the next room.
"Definitely overactive libido," Moegi added, cheerfully.
Sasuke stared at the two girls for a long moment, then pressed his fingers to his eyes and got up. "I'm going to go outside," he grumbled. He had to get out of there before he ended up strangling both the girls.
As soon as the door swung shut behind him, Naruto got up and followed.
"I don't even know what libido is," Naruto griped, and the door swung shut behind him as well.
Inari was uneasy.
Despite his bravado, the boy walking so close behind him put him slightly on edge. Konohamaru felt nothing like a demon, but there was just something about him that made him nervous. Maybe he was in cahoots with the demons?
"Aren't you even going to ask me my name?"
He certainly thought himself important enough.
"I'm Konohamaru," the boy proclaimed.
Now Inari's interest piqued. "'Konoha'? Like where Naruto is from?"
"What are you, obsessed with Naruto-sensei?" Konohamaru huffed. "Yes, it is."
"I'm not obsessed," Inari said, simply. "I just see him like an older brother. I suppose you do, also, since you seem a bit possessive of him."
"Don't compare me with you!"
Apparently, somewhere along the lines, Inari had greatly offended Konohamaru. He wondered if it was around the time he warded him on the nose. That would make sense, wouldn't it? And yet, it was a stupid thing to get all pissy about.
"My deepest apologies."
"And don't be so sarcastic, either!"
Inari rolled his eyes and fell silent. It was obviously impossible to humor this kid once you had already pissed him off.
"Look, I have no idea what's got your panties in a bunch, but—"
Now that was a step too far. Inari spun around, intent on chewing out Konohamaru for being so rude, but faltered when he saw his expression.
The forest was silent, all but a rumbling sound that Inari had missed under his arguing with Konohamaru.
"What's it mean...?" He hated was getting sick of asking so many questions.
"It means we're screwed sideways." And Konohamaru slipped into a ready stance as two purring, pointy eared creatures fell on top of them.
"Sasuke! Sasuke, hey, wait up!"
Sasuke grimaced and quickened his pace, shoving his hands in his pockets. It was amazing how quickly he could pick up an old habit that he dropped so many years ago. He tried to distract himself with what a lovely day it was; the trees were green, the grass was green...
"Idiot! Quit running away from me!"
'Running away' meant that Naruto was implying that Sasuke was a coward. But at the same time, it was possible that Naruto was only using such implications in order to get Sasuke riled up. It wouldn't be the first time Naruto resorted to such tactics.
"Come on! I'm beginning to think you are attracted to me!"
Yeah right. Like he would be attracted to some idiotic blonde who seemed to think orange was the greatest color in the world. Didn't he know he looked like an overgrown poppy? Sasuke stopped mentally to think about that, then snorted quietly. He must be desperate if he was judging Naruto on his choice of fashion (even if it was very tacky).
"No," snapped Sasuke, finally. This did not keep him from stomping.
"...are you sure?"
"Yes!" What the hell was this sunflower kid's problem? Oh, great. Now he was a sunflower kid and a poppy. What was he, a garden?
"...are you positive?"
"Naruto!" Sasuke whirled around on the boy, eyes flashing. "I am in no way, shape, or form attracted to you! Now shut up!"
There was a long moment of silence in which the two stared at each other, before Sasuke whirled around and returned on his quest to get the hell away from Naruto.
Sasuke was going to strangle him.
"Really." Each letter was punctuated.
Did he sound disbelieving? Whatever. Sasuke continued on his excursion away from Naruto, which was getting harder to do since Naruto was following him.
"I don't believe you."
"I don't care."
"I think you're so madly in love with me that you can't contain yourself."
"Have you been reading Sakura's romance novels again? Back off."
"Sasuke." Naruto said his name in such a genuine voice that Sasuke stopped and turned to face him. "It's okay. I know how hard it is to resist someone as amazing and sexy as me. Don't worry. We'll find you a lovely girl to turn you straight again!"
Sasuke wanted to tear out his hair. Or better yet, Naruto's hair. Gritting his teeth, he stood a little straighter. "Naruto." His voice could chill ice. "I'm going this way." And here he pointed in some random direction. "If you follow me, you will hurt. A lot. Right now, the last thing I want right now is to be around you."
Naruto looked as if he had been slapped. Good. Sasuke turned and trudged in the direction he had pointed off to, ignoring the slight (and very slight it was) guilt that tugged at his belly and listening carefully to make sure Naruto didn't follow him.
When Inari woke up, it was to stare eye-to-eye with a horrified looking Konohamaru. And no wonder, since Inari was clinging to him like an overgrown teddy-bear—hips to hips, chest to chest, and the imprint of Konohamaru's shirt still on his cheek. Konohamaru's hands were flat by his sides and he was looking at Inari as if he expected Inari to try and kill him. The idea was more than a little tempting. He reluctantly admitted that the compromising position was most likely the work of the bizarre cat beasts and not Konohamaru's perversity.
Inari may have sprang back a little too quickly. He tried to play it off by brushing the dust from his clothing.
Konohamaru cleared his throat.
"Did it maybe occur to you to try and wake me up?" He refused to let himself blush or get flustered, even as Konohamaru's cheeks flushed pink. He looked at Konohamaru furiously for physically acknowledging that there was something to be embarrassed about.
"I—" Konohamaru started, the pink tinge spreading to his hairline. "You're bleeding."
Inari cursed quietly at him, grabbing the flesh wound that he had been previously unaware of and that now hurt like hell. Deciding that this entire situation was Konohamaru's fault, Inari stalked to the furthest corner of their cell and tucked himself up against the wall.
"Hey," Konohamaru said in a gentle voice. "Let me check that."
Inari ignored him and yanked at the bottom of his shirt. Tearing a strip from the cloth was easier said than done, especially since one of his arms was useless. He even tried using his teeth until Konohamaru took pity on him and ripped a strip from his own shirt. Inari hated how competent that made Konohamaru look comparatively. He thanked him with a glare and clumsily tied a knot over the cut.
"You okay?" Konohamaru asked cautiously.
"Fine," Inari snapped.
All good will faded from Konohamaru's face and he crossed his arms. "Fine," he growled back. Inari was exasperated.
"What the hell happened?" He remembered one of the cat-things dropping in front of him, blowing a cloud of green dust into his eyes. After that was blank.
"Well, after you fainted—"
"I did not faint."
"They drugged me."
"You fainted like a little wuss."
Inari snarled at him. "Never mind. It's pretty obvious you got your ass kicked."
Konohamaru's smug look dropped. "It was two against one, since you fainted."
Inari ignored the jab. "Some ninja you are."
"At least I stayed conscious!"
Inari flung his hands to the air (wincing when his wounded arm protested) and pushed himself to his feet. He circled the room twice, prodding at the walls thoroughly to try and activate a secret door or something. Whenever he reached Konohamaru's side, he glared heatedly. Konohamaru would pick at his nails until Inari was forced to give up that section of the wall and search around him.
"They're not stupid," Konohamaru said peevishly after his second round. "We're most likely trapped in here by some sort of magic."
Giving up, Inari slumped beside him. "I just think it's counterproductive to sit around and do nothing."
"Don't be stupid. It's not as if they'd stick an exit in a prison cell. I mean, common sense, man. 'Oh hey'," Konohamaru pitched his voice to sound like the demons as Inari grew more annoyed. "'I think I'm going to put a secret door activation button right here'—" He prodded the wall for punctuation, and it spun around.
Inari blinked as sunlight assaulted his vision. Both he and Konohamaru sat there in confusion for a moment, jostled from the sudden spin. He pushed himself to his feet and looked smugly at Konohamaru.
Konohamaru stood up. "I don't believe it."
"I told you! Ha! I told you! I'm right!"
"Way to be modest!"
"Whatever. You're just jealous that I'm right and you're not."
Konohamaru looked down at him for a moment with an unreadable expression. He made a strange sound and looked away, starting forward. Inari blinked. "You're weird," Konohamaru said.
Inari scowled, taken down a notch. His mood soured immediately. "I don't like you."
Konohamaru shot a glare over his shoulder. "Really."
"See, and here I thought I was the great love of your life."
"Maybe if—" Inari pretended to think for a moment. "Nope. Never."
"You know, you're not exactly a great catch either," Konohamaru grumbled. "Let's try to find our way to the bridge."
Inari looked towards the distance and hesitated. "Well. Lead the way."
The forest looked completely normal—in fact, it seemed like an exact replica of the forest near the Naruto bridge. The only thing really ominous about the scenery was the swirling orange and red that stood in place for a sky. Great beasts with humongous wings flew overhead. The nature Inari was used to was replaced with strange screeches and cries.
Konohamaru sighed. "Okay. Just stay close, all right?"
"Don't worry. As annoying as you are, I think you're the only creature here who doesn't want to kill me." Inari paused. "Or at least, the only one who wouldn't actually try to kill me."
Konohamaru raised his eyebrows.
"At least, I don't think—" Inari tried to step forward, but stumbled as a sudden wave of dizziness hit him so hard his vision fuzzed out. Konohamaru leapt forward in surprise, catching Inari before he fell. Inari's vision snapped back to clarity, and he turned angry eyes towards Konohamaru.
"What do you think you're doing?"
Konohamaru pulled his hands back as if burned. "You looked like you were going to fall."
"I'm fine. Just a little dizzy." At Konohamaru's skeptical look, he shrugged. "I guess I didn't do to well with the transition from the normal world to...this world."
Konohamaru didn't look pleased and Inari rolled his eyes. "Come on, Konohamaru. Let's just go. The quicker we get out of this place, the better."
When Naruto returned to Tazuna's house, the girls opened their mouths to continue teasing him. When they saw his expression, they closed their mouths again.
"Naruto-sensei?" Moegi tried hesitantly. "Are you okay?"
Naruto glared sulkily at them.
"Wait," Suzumi said slowly. "You didn't really, um."
"Didn't really what, Suzumi," Naruto grumped.
"You didn't really like Sasuke, did you?"
"No. No. No."
"Okay, okay!" Moegi waved her hands placating. She glanced at Suzumi and raised her eyebrows.
"I saw that!" Naruto snapped. "Go run twenty laps around Tazuna's house!"
Moegi rolled her eyes. "Naruto-sensei."
"Go. Go, go, go! No, wait." He frowned. "Where's Konohamaru? He needs to run those laps with you for running away like a little coward."
Moegi frowned. "He isn't with you?"
Junsuke poked his head from the entrance. "Naruto-sensei? I think we have a problem."
Inside the house, the lot of the crowded around the table, only missing Sasuke, Konohamaru and Inari. Naruto still looked sulky, but he folded his arms on the table and fixed a penetrating gaze on Junsuke. "Well? Go ahead."
Junsuke fidgeted. "The demons have been acting up lately."
"Well, that is the reason why you're here," Tazuna said. Junsuke blushed and Naruto kicked Tazuna's shin under the table. "Ow!"
"I mean, I can hear them, right?" He closed his eyes and looked frustrated. "Okay, look. Konohamaru and Inari have been kidnapped for ransom. They want Naruto."
Naruto decided his day couldn't get any worse. He pressed his fingers against his eyes. "This really sucks." He stood up. "All right, guys. Looks like we're gonna make an impromptu trip to the bridge." He couldn't bring himself to call it the Naruto Bridge, let alone the Great Naruto Bridge. It was just too weird.
The students looked at each other a bit nervously, before shrugging and standing up.
"All right," Hikaru said. "Let's go."
"Inari," Konohamaru grumbled. "You are totally slacking."
In truth, Inari was having trouble breathing. It was harder to inhale than it was to exhale and he wasn't getting nearly enough oxygen. His vision kept swimming and his limbs felt heavier than normal. But he remained quiet and trudged along. He had at first tried to convince himself that the demon world was just impossible for human's to adapt to, but Konohamaru looked fine and fit. He told himself that it was because Konohamaru was a ninja, but that didn't fly either because it wasn't like Inari was completely helpless.
The last option was the most frightening.
That cloud of green dust the cat-demons had used to knock him out could potentially be something much more potent than just a drug. He assumed Konohamaru hadn't inhaled any of it and that was why he was perfectly fine. So that meant if Inari didn't get murdered by a hungry demon, he would die a slow and painful death by a strange poison that was cutting off his air and making him dizzy and nauseated.
When Inari fell even further behind, Konohamaru turned to him in frustration. "Did you want to take a break, or something? I mean, if it's so hard for you to walk—"
It certainly was hard for Inari to walk, and he proved this quite beautifully by collapsing. The last thing he heard over his labored breathing was Konohamaru's startled yells, and the last thing he felt were strong arms encircling him.
end chapter two