Chapter Six

The Sealed Summon

"Aaaaaah," Naruto sighed heavily, leaning his whole body weight against a tree. Even though the sun was being covered by a thick layer of leaves above and around them, beads of sweat were dripping down his pale face. He closed his eyes, his back sliding until his bottom hit the ground. "I don't want to go on anymore . . ."

"What an idiot," Sasuke muttered, stepping over the legs of the rival Summon. Unlike Naruto, he looked as if he were just taking an ordanairy stroll in he forest; nothing out of the ordanairy was happening to make him seem weak. "I can't believe there are Summons as bad as you. Konohamaru could beat you, even."

"That little duck couldn't lay a finger on me even if he tried!"

"But at least he can run faster."

"Dammit, you-"

"Both of you!" Sakura and Kakashi called at the same time, a hint of anger in each of their tones. Sasuke seemed to stop just as his own fangs were protruding, while Naruto was standing and sharpening the claws along his fingers. However, they both obeyed their masters without question and turned their heads away.

It had been four days since they had begun their journey out towards Hanabira, which unluckily for them was one of the furthest towns in the country from their starting point. Still, it was a small country, so they all knew they only had a short time left. If anything, they only has a night or two of travelling to go.

Even in those four days they had managed to come across problems. There were creatures lurking, thieves hiding themselves, and even the occasional magician, all whom ran like cowards once they had figured out they were trying to place their lives on the line against Summoner Kakashi.

However, none of those problems were nearly as bad as the chemistry between Naruto and Sasuke. Immediately from the moment they met they had begun bickering over the littlelest, simplest things. It happened so much and started so easily that even their masters were beginning to wear thin.

Naruto hurried to stand next to Sakura on the furthest side away from him new found enemy, sending the black haired Summon a fierce glare before looking away towards the forest with a pout. Sakura frowned as she noticed the other boy do the same thing; it couldn't be helped, no matter how tired she was by it.

"Say, Kakashi," she started slowly, trying to get a conversation going somehow. She wasn't exactly sure of what to say, but she wanted anything to try and lower the tense atmosphere around them. "Why don't you tell us more about this friend of yours? We've talked about the town itself many times, but nothing about him."

"Iruka?" Kakashi said, and everyone paid attention. As he spoke, he looked up towards the leaves above him, a thoughtful expression on his face. "Well, he's not a Summoner, if that's what you're asking."

"What else?" Sasuke said in an almost demanding voice, something unusual for him to use against someone he held so highly. Sakura assumed that perhaps even he didn't know who Iruka was; it might have been a friend from before Kakashi had become a Summoner.

Kakashi seemed to immediately understand this strange sort of jealously from his Summon and smiled. "He and I grew up together in Hanabira, as best friends. But while I decided to do what I'm doing today, he wanted to be an ordanairy coal miner. He's pretty good as a magician though, I'll give him that."

"Wow!" Sakura and Naruto said at the same time. Both were sharing the same wide, excited grin that just begged for more information. "Then Hanabira is your hometown!"

"In a sense, yes. I haven't been there for about eight or so years though- I've only spoken to Iruka through letters."

"Then, are you exi-"

Sakura, who had began to ask the question, immediately halted her steps as something whizzed by her face. She shut her eyes to protect them from the unexpected attack and felt a strong hand jerk her back. When she opened them again, her back was against Naruto's chest and he had one arm shifted around her protectively, the other hand gripping her wrist.

"Who's there!" he snarled, his hold on his master tightening as the aura about him became more fierce. While Sakura was a little scared of the unexpected, dark ominous feeling that came from Naruto she held still, knowing she could trust him with her care well. The six playful scars along with cheeks became rough and scratchy as his eyes delved from a sky blue to a deep blood red. She flinched when the grip around her body received the added strength of his claws, but she kept silent.

Kakashi and Sasuke also seemed to prepare for another attack; even the scales from Sasuke's snake body were beginning to prickle on his skin, and his own sharp fangs grew.

"Master," the more expirienced of the two Summons said, stepping towards where the attack had come from. The windmills in his eyes began to spin fiercly and his arms and legs were beginning to melt into one single, long form which slithered into the plants inconspicuously. "Wait here."

"Will do," Kakashi replied plainly, trusting Sasuke's instincts without another thought. While the black snake dissapeard into the greenery to investigate the sudden attack Naruto let go of Sakura; neither one of them paid any mind to the red marks on her skin from him.

"I'm gonna go with him," Naruto stated defiantly, and before either Sakura or Kakashi could call him back he hurried into the woods, although it was lacking the same grace and silence the former had performed. Even without the protection of her Summon the young girl kept herself calm, turning over to look at Kakashi who had begun to move.

He didn't go far. Kakashi stepped quietly until he reached a certain tree, then he kneeled and let his digits glide along the bark. They continued until he flinched a little, and when Sakura kneeled beside him to see what he was doing she noticed a prick from his finger had dripped blood along a thin needle that had embedded intelf. Before, one couldn't have possibly seen it with the lack of sunlight and the great ammount of shadows it was so unnoticable.

With that Kakashi pulled out one, two, three needles for the tree, making sure not to get pricked again. He stood up and Sakura along with him, then he displayed the deadly weapons to her.

"The people behind this are rather famous," he explained with a serious expression. Sakura stared up at him with intent, wondering just who it was that was behind what had just happened. "They pray on Summoners with strength and name, defeating even some of the most powerful ones. Ex-Summoner Zabuza and his Sealed Summon Haku."

"Ex-Summoner? Sealed Summon?" she questioned, wanting a little more detail. She wondered if it was really her they were aiming at or if it was Kakashi. After all, he said they only attacked Summoners with strength and name, and she had only been one for no more than five days. Kakashi, however, seemed like an incredibly strong person to her with the title as one of the best guards for the Hokage. 'Even more, within moments Sasuke had Naruto pinned to the ground when they fought for the first time.'

"You've never heard of these?" he asked, looking up and tapping his index finger against his chin, making sure to keep the needles safely away from the skin under his mask. He looked as if he were in thought. "Well . . . Ex-Summoners are Summoners that were convicted of using their Summons to commit crimes. Not only do Sealers take away their power, they also destroy the Summon's capabilities or power."

It was a lot of information at once, but Sakura was sure she could handle it easily. Now that he had told her what Zabuza and Haku were she remembered reading about such people. However, she never read much about Ex-Summoners since it was rare for one to try such evil deeds. "Sealers are those that can steal magic, right? So they take away any power of a convicted criminal?"

"Exactly!" Kakashi replied with a smile, patting her head rather cutely as if she were a child with his other hand. "You really are smart for your age."

Still, even then there was one more question she wanted to know. It was something she didn't understand; she knew that Summoners were forced to become Ex-Summoners after being convicted of a crime, but what of the Summon? If Zabuza and Haku were still together even after becoming criminals -and escaped criminals, she presumed- then what was the punishment of the Summon? 'Sealed Summon Haku . . . what does it mean to take away their capabilities?'

"What does it mean to seal a Summon . . .?" she wondered out loud, though it was only a low mutter so Kakashi didn't hear it. But not wanting to be burdened with anything that would leave her distracted she decided to dismiss the idea and instead started to follow Kakashi, who ignored Sasuke's personal demand of staying in one place. 'Right now our priority is to either fight or get away from Haku and Zabuza so we can get to Hanabira.'

But just when she had taken her first step towards the older man a thin, sharp pain rooted itself on the back of her neck, giving her no worries as her mind went blank.

x

Naruto and Sasuke had slipped into their less humane forms for the sole purpose of attacking whoever tried to violate their masters, but after much searching and no bodies they had taken back their former appearance. The black haired Summon was the one in the lead, keenly observing and trying to be as quiet as possible when sifting through the forest. But on the contrary, the Fox Demon was loud and boastful as he tried to sniff for any clues.

"This place has too many scents!" he complained, pinching his nose between his fingers and sitting cross-legged on the ground. "I can't find anybody here . . . Let's go back to Sakura and Kakashi, okay?"

"Don't speak of Master that way," Sasuke spoke flaty, pausing his movements briefly just to give his company a dark glare, "You have no right to refer to him by his name. And give your own master some respect."

"Sakura said I could call her by her name!" he said back, puffing out his cheeks. Naruto didn't understand why, but while he felt close with Sakura and somehow admired Kakashi, he couldn't stand Sasuke. The only reason he followed the snake was to find out what happened. 'But we haven't found anything . . . this sucks.'

"Your master is weak," Sasuke said, turning his body all the way. "Master has hopes for her, but I wouldn't be surprised if she wound up dead after we're done with h-"

Sasuke had no time to finish his sentence when a fast, large blur bludgeoned against his cheek, sending him flailing back hard against a nearby tree. He had closed his eyes for protection, and by the time he opened them again Naruto already had a new fist ready, the other hand balling up Sasuke's shirt.

"Don't you ever talk about her that way!" he shouted loudly, his voice echoing around the both of them. But just as quickly as he had screamed his words they also became threatingly quiet, and a fire burned in his eyes as he stared harshly. "Say anything about Sakura again and I don't care what Kakashi does. I'll kill you."

Sasuke visibly flinched, a shortness of breath beginning to come to him. Somehow he wasn't frightened, but at the same time he felt he regretted mentioning anything at all. A powerful aura, something more than anything he had felt in Naruto's presence before was beginning to rise, making his senses go alert. 'This can't be the same guy who was complaining like an idiot before . . . this . . . this is definitely the Fox Demon!'

Sasuke didn't dare move, but instead braced himself for another hit, his fingers clamping onto the bark of the tree behind him to hold on during the punch. But as he shut his eyes and waited, nothing came. Instead the grip Naruto had on the collar of his shirt loosened, and a vague shout caused him to open his eyes again and look around. As he glanced at Naruto, who seemed back to normal, he was sure he had noticed the same thing.

"That was Kakashi," Naruto muttered, staring out. He had completely ignored any menial threats Sasuke had made before about respect, and it was only because of the sudden realization of the Fox Demon's power that Sasuke kept quiet. "I hope they're ok- Ow!"

"Idiot," Sasuke, who had just given Naruto a small push on his back, braced himself for quick running. "Don't just assume things are okay when you hear something; the first step to being a good Summon is to check on your master, not just hope things are all well."

"R-Right . . ." For once the both of them seemed to be in agreement and with a single step and ran. They hurried to try and rush to the aid of their masters before the other could, hopping over roots and jumping off the side of the trees to try and push themselves further. Even in between their little competition, however, they realized that they might not have much to play around with if there was real danger.

As Naruto seemed to duck underneath one of Sasuke's arms to get in the lead, only to be knocked in the face with the oncoming tree branch the both of them stopped. Naruto lightly rubbed his nose and cursed profranities before getting up and getting started on running again, but the other Summon purposefully blocked his way.

"Hey, what's the big idea!" the blond shouted, shoving the other to try and go on, though he met with no success. "Come on! You're the one that said we had to hurry!"

"We can't," Sasuke said, instantly winning the other's confusion. The Fox Demon stopped with meaningless struggling, for the first time noticing Sasuke was staring at something intently. When he turned to see what it was he noticed just an ordanairy tree. He shrugged; he wasn't sure what that had to do with anything at all. "Uhh . . . I'm not following you."

"Look." When he pointed Naruto caught something he normally wouldn't have noticed. At about their height was a heavy dent in the tree where the bark was missing, along with a small, smearing stain of blood. "That's the tree you slammed me into. We're going in circles."

"Oh . . ."

"Is that all you have to say about that?"

"Shut up! You were the one leading us most of the way and stuff, so it's your faul-"

"No, that's not what I meant," he said, earning Naruto's questioning expression once again. For a brief moment there was a heavy silence between the two of them, but that quickly ceased when Sasuke darted out a hand towards the leaves above them, pulling out a thin, frail hand with small needles between the fingers. His eyes narrowed. "I meant someone has been making us go in circles."

"My bad." The hand that had been caught was let go and ducked back into its hiding place, then a whole figure jumped down and landed gracefully before them. "But this is what Master wanted."

A young, beautiful girl stood before them with a pale, feeble looking body. She possessed a soft smile and gentle golden brown eyes, some of it which was hiding underneath long, silky black hair. With such a greeting appearance that would put even the coldest of men off guard Naruto and Sasuke were stunned in place. Neither one of them had expected their newfound enemy to look the way they did.

"So," Naruto started, looking from the girl to Sasuke and breaking the silence. "There are girl Summons too? I've only seen you and Konohamaru, so I just guessed . . ."

"Of course there are female Summons, idiot."

"Don't call me an idiot!"

"Umm . . ." the girl started just as the two were staring daggers into each other's eyes. She giggled a little as she lifted a hand to separate them so they wouldn't fight. "For the record, I'm a boy, but . . . that doesn't have much to do with your situation at the moment."

In an instant he dissapeard to go behind Naruto and Sasuke, placing them on alert. But, even then they couldn't -or wouldn't- dare move; in the boy's hands were tiny, thin needles, their tips pressing against their skin.

"My name is Haku," he said in a voice that was calm, but tainted with an underlying malice. "and I don't want to hurt either of you. But your masters can't stay in this world any longer. Both of them are going to die."

Naruto felt a shiver run of his spine as the tip pushed even deeper into his neck, ready and willing to break the fleshy skin underneath. Beads of start were beginning to form along his cheeks and were dripping off of his and onto his collarbone. 'This guy . . . he's serious! What kind of Summon is this?'

X x x x x

Aaaargh . . . Writer's Block! It's a terrible thing:D Still, I hope I wrote this chapter okay for you guys . . . some people asked for more action in the story, but this isn't really action- just a more energetic thing, I guess! Anyways, yes! It's Haku! I love him. XD

And I'm sure there are those who are wondering . . . Sasuke wasn't jealous of Iruka because of he loves Kakashi. This story isn't a shounen-ai! Any relationships between boys are completely platonic. Sasuke is just a posessive and loyal character in this story, so when he doesn't know something about his master is makes him angry. Get what I mean?

-Hugs- Thank you all for your reviews, and your patience!

Shi-Sha Hariken- Thank you! Gosh, I'm going to miss Konohamaru. T.T I have no idea when I'm going to add him in again! I thought he was so cute . . . Have you watched the anime for Naruto? His voice is too adorable! XD

December Jewel- Well, I don't know if this counts as soon, but I hope that's okay! XD

DFIRE314- So close:D Only they get to fight Haku and Zabuza before they get to Hanabira. XD I'm excited to reveal the Summon in the staff . . . I hope it'll be within the next three chapters or so! It's so strange for me; the chapters I write for this story are longer than ones I normally write, but I feel like the progress isn't so quick . . . Weird! Oh, and some of the rookie nine will be Summons, others Summoners, and then other things too! Like Magicians and Sealers and stuff. XD Diverse!

Yokaigurl- Thank you:D Hee, I'm going to try my best to introduce all of the characters from Naruto in this story. So yes! Eventually Shikamaru, Neji and Gaara will come in.

Kyubi-Naruto- Thank you! Naruto is actually a little different from the average Summon, but more on that will be revealed as the story goes on . . . So far, including this chapter he has yet to fully turn into the Fox Demon like how Sasuke fully turns into a snake, but there's a reason for it!

Search and Seek and Destroy- XD Oh, Gosh . . . everybody wants them as a couple! It's crazy, but I think I'll be able to pull off that sort of romance. And I'm glad you liked the bed scene too! I want the both of them for now to be friends, or cutely innocent in a way. XD I hope it turned out that way!

Lady Nagome of the West- Thank you! I'm happy you liked this so far . . . I'm really trying! Gaara will come in eventually (And he may very well be the next Summon or Summoner or whatever!), but I'm not sure how to prepare it yet. XD

zero25- Thank you very much:D I'm happy you like it.

Aemkea- Thank you!

krn-kimbap- I think because there's so much demand, I might just make it NaruSaku. XD They're so popular already, it's amazing!

Shinobi Darkbeak- Thanks:D

Lonewolf-chica- Aww, a cute little heart:D I'm glad you're finding so much interest in my story. I hope it'll continue to be that way! XD

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