Disclaimer: Naruto doesn't belong to me. Probably wouldn't be nearly as popular if it was anyway…

Summery: AU. Mizuki escapes confinement and his revenge on Naruto has disastrous consequences. What will happen when the loudest ninja in Konoha suddenly isn't anymore?

Warnings: Gore(especially prologue), violence, possible future Shounen-ai and/or Shoujo-ai. And het…

–written "speech"-

/sign language or other forms of code/

'mouthed words'

Cyber-"Without further ado, chapter 6! And the introduction of more villains!"


Chapter 6

Changing and Plans: Part I

The harried looking waitress sets the bottle of sake down on the table and scuttles off before the costumer has a chance to say anything. The large man chuckles at her fear and pours himself a cup. He takes a sip and nonchalantly rests his arm over the back of his chair while subtly taking in the other patrons, all keeping their distance from him. He starts to take another sip but a hand coming to rest on his shoulder makes him pause. He nods, the bell dangling from his hat jingling, "Itachi-san." Without another word he hands the newcomer a second cup.

The smaller man, dressed almost identically to the first, takes the cup and downs it quickly but doesn't sit in the offered chair. "We're leaving, Kisame."

"Alright." Kisame tosses some coins on the table and stands, adjusting the massive sword on his back. He falls into step with Itachi, "Where to this time?"


Kisame's voice sounds faintly surprised, "So soon?"

Itachi turns to glare at a scantily dressed woman approaching them, red eyes almost glowing in the darkness, "I encountered a ninja who claimed to know the one who killed the kyuubi's vessel. Second hand information is unreliable."

"That does complicate things." Kisame smirks at the pouting woman, shifting ever so slightly closer to his companion, "And if the boy is actually dead?"

Itachi's shrug is barely seen. "Let's go." Kisame easily keeps pace with his sudden increase in speed, the two men clearing the bustling city in moments.
. . .

Sakura pauses to take a breath of the perfumed air inside the flower shop. She smiles brightly at the woman behind the counter, "Is Ino here?"

The woman nods cheerily, "Nice to see you again Sakura-chan! Ino is in her room, she just got back. Why don't you head on up? I'm sure she'll be happy to see you."

"Thank you, Yamanaka-san." Sakura walks to a small stairway and starts up.

The woman's voice floats up the stairs behind her, "No need to be so formal dear! You're like a second daughter to us."

Ino peeks out of a room at the top of the stairs. She rolls her eyes, "Mo—m! Don't embarrass my friends!" Grinning she ushers Sakura into the room, "Did your sensei tell you anything?"

Sakura shakes her head, "He said he couldn't."

"Asuma-sensei warned me not to pursue it." Ino sags against the door before stalking over to collapse on the bed, "And Kiba told me earlier that his sensei acted as if she hadn't even heard him. Whatever the reason it has to be some sort of big secret."

Sakura settles next to the blonde girl, "We'll just have to find out for ourselves." She bites her lip, "But right now. I'd like you to cut my hair, short."

Ino frowns and reaches out to run her hands through the pink strands, "But Sakura, you've worked so hard to get such nice long hair. It would be such a shame to cut it. I know how much time you spend on it each morning."

Sakura sniffs, "I know but I'm not going to have the time anymore. I have to get really serious about my training if I'm ever going to make Sasuke-kun even give me a second glance. He doesn't like me because I'm weak."

"Sakura. . ."

The pink haired girl shakes her head, "I'm not going to give up on Sasuke-kun."

"But Sakura!" Ino crosses her arms over her chest, "You shouldn't try to break them up. It's. . . It's shallow, that's what it is!"

"I'm not going to try to break them up. I'm not spiteful but. . ." Sakura blushes, "If I have to share Sasuke-kun with Naruto I'll share. Besides, I've been watching them this past week. Sometimes it looks like they could be together and just trying to hide it but. . . Sometimes. . ." She shakes her head, "I don't know. I'm pretty sure Naruto has a crush on me."

"Well you are the second prettiest girl in our class." Ino grins, "After me of course."

Sakura glares for a moment but then breaks out into simultaneous giggles along with Ino. After her laughter subsides she flops back on the bed, "Sometimes I wish I'd never fallen in love with Sasuke-kun. But I did and I'm not ready to give up on it yet." She sighs, looking pensively at a strand of her hair, "I think, maybe, if he would even like me at all, even as a friend, I could be content. But he doesn't like me. And I don't think he'll ever be interested in romance at all. So much for that dream."

Ino settles in next to Sakura, "Boys are slow like that. I swear, if Mom didn't occasionally lock him out of the bedroom or threaten him with kunai Dad would never do anything romantic. I know they love each other but. . . Well, Mom says that men think romance is making the person they love the first one they see when missions are over and spending quiet time just sitting beside them during breaks. Stuff like that."

"That's. . . umm. . ." Sakura tilts her head, "It isn't unromantic."

Ino smiles, "But it's not flowers and moonlit walks and declarations of love." She looks Sakura over critically, "So, you're really serious about this?"

"Yeah. Nothing will ever change if I don't. I know Sasuke-kun won't start liking me anytime soon. And he'll probably never love me like I want him to but whatever happens, happens." Sakura shrugs, "If nothing else I'll become a ninja everyone can be proud of. . . And I'll get to kick your ass, Ino-pig."

Ino snorts, "Don't think I'll be slacking off, forehead-girl! You'll never kick my ass!"

Sakura sits up, a wide grin splitting her face, "Wanna bet?"

"You're on!" Without warning Ino pounces on Sakura and starts an impromptu wrestling match. The girls wrestle amid shrieks and laughter but the match quickly ends when Ino manages to pin Sakura's arms above her head. She sticks out her tongue, "Muh! I win again!"

Sakura laughs breathlessly, squirming halfheartedly beneath Ino, "Just you wait! I'll beat you someday!"

Ino starts to respond but a slight cough from the door interrupts. Both girls startle and look towards the door. The blond man peeking into the room smiles fondly and raises an eyebrow, "Am I interrupting something?"

"Dad!" Ino scrambles up and gives the man a brief hug, "You're back! How was the mission?"

Ino's father pats her head and laughs, "Long but uneventful for the most part. Escorting foreign dignitaries to enemy nations isn't the most glamorous of missions but it pays well." He steps back and gestures to the hitai-ate around Ino's waist, "I see you've officially made genin while I was away. Good job. And how are your missions so far?"

"Ugh! Boring." Ino makes a face, "We've had to chase down a mangy cat for the Fire lord's wife. Twice!" She huffs, "I understand that we're not ready for the really dangerous stuff yet but still. We could do something a little more challenging."

"Ah. The infamous Tora-chan. Genin have had to "rescue" that poor cat for the last couple of years. I hear it runs away at least once a week." Ino's father chuckles, "Missions will get more exciting in time." He smiles at Sakura as she stands and straightens her clothing, "Ah, Sakura. It seems you've made genin as well. Your mother must be proud. How have your missions been?"

Sakura fidgets a little and Ino speaks up, "Sakura hasn't been on any missions yet. I'm surprised her sensei even let the team take the test considering."

Ino's father looks vaguely surprised, "Oh? That's unusual. Why?"

Sakura sighs, "One of my teammates is in the hospital. He was attacked and he's been put on medical leave until he's released. So we aren't allowed on missions yet." She crosses her arms, "But really, the medics must be idiots. He's fine now! And bored to death in there. Even Kakashi-sensei is getting impatient."

Ino huffs, "Considering that it's Naruto they're all probably refusing to release him out spite. On the day we graduated I heard some of the parents saying that it was good that he hadn't and that he should never become a ninja. Everybody hates Naruto." She pauses, looking slyly at her father, "Actually. . . Dad, do you know why everybody hates him? I can't seem to find a reason."

Ino's father freezes, "Well. . ." After a moment he hurriedly retreats, "I believe I hear your mother calling me. I should go see what she wants."

"Well, damn." Ino glares at the now closed door, "Everybody dodges the question like their lives depend on it."

After several moments of silence Sakura comments thoughtfully, "Maybe their lives do depend on it. Think about it. If there was a law or an order from Hokage-sama that forbids anyone talking about the reason everyone hates Naruto. . ."

Ino finishes the statement, "Then no one would dare talk about it. You're a genius, Sakura! Everyone's reactions to our questions make sense now! And if it is a law then it has to be recorded in the village records somewhere. All we have to do is find the record and bingo!"

Sakura shakes her head, "But a record like that would be sealed to almost everyone. There's no way we could get clearance to look at it."

"We're ninja. We've been trained to do this sort of thing." Ino rolls her eyes, "I'll go talk to Shikamaru. If anyone can come up with a plan to get in and view those records he can."

Sakura grins, "Alright. But right now I want to get my hair cut and go home. I'd like to get some studying done before bed."

"Are you sure?" Ino pets Sakura's hair, "It's so glossy and pretty. Such a shame to hack it all off."

"If you like it that much you can keep it." Sakura snorts and tugs off her hitai-ate.

"Alright." Ino chuckles, "That way when you start missing it you can always come for a visit." Sakura shoves her off the bed and Ino takes the opportunity to grab some things from her dresser, including a pair of scissors, a comb and a kunai, before sitting down again. She takes out a brush and begins running it through the pink strands, "How short do you want it?"

"Really short." Sakura demonstrates with her fingers, "About like this. But stylish. I don't want to look ugly."

Ino laughs, "I cut it that short and you'll look like a boy!"

"Sasuke-kun does like Naruto."

"Well, when you put it that way." Ino grabs a hair tie and wraps it around Sakura's hair before picking up the scissors.

Sakura looks over her shoulder in surprise, "You're really going to keep it?"

Ino shrugs, "Why not? It can be a memento sort of thing." Ino makes the first cut, shearing off the bulk of Sakura's hair and laying it carefully to the side. She continues on in silence, carefully snipping and layering with scissors and the kunai. Sakura sits quietly and lets Ino work uninterrupted. After a long silence Ino steps back and looks over her work. "Hmm, I think I'm done. Go and look. If you don't like anything I left a little room for change but it'll end up really, really short."

Sakura stands up and looks into her reflection. "Wow. It's. . ." She runs her fingers through her hair making the strands clump into wispy spikes. "So different. I like it."

Ino casually embraces Sakura from behind, resting her chin on Sakura's shoulder, "It's cute. And when you ruffle it. . ." She playfully musses the pink strands making them even spikier, "you really look like a boy." After a moment she adds, "But you won't be able to wear your hitai-ate like you used to."

Sakura smiles, "That's alright. I am going to be a serious ninja now." She ties her hitai-ate around her forehead, "I should probably start wearing my hitai-ate like one." She turns and pokes Ino, "Maybe you should too."

Ino laughs, "No thanks. I'll keep mine where it is." She pokes Sakura back, "I don't have a giant forehead to hide anyway." Sakura scowls halfheartedly and Ino chuckles, "You really are too cute." She leans in and places a light kiss on Sakura's cheek, "I wish you luck with Sasuke-kun. If you do manage to get them to agree to a threesome you'll tell me all the juicy details right?"

Sakura goes red, "Threesome? Who said anything about a threesome?"

"You did! 'If I have to share Sasuke-kun with Naruto I'll share.' Remember?" Ino nudges Sakura and winks.

Sakura sputters, "I didn't mean it like that! I meant. . . Naruto would. . . and then. . . and Sasuke. . . and umm. . ." Embarrassed and slightly panicked she changes the subject, "But what about you? Will you be alright with it? I mean. . . You like Sasuke-kun too. . ."

Ino shrugs, "Yeah. But I never really expected to actually snag him. I'm sure I'll find someone else to like. Who likes me back." She winks, "And I'll be sure to tell you all the juicy details!" She bursts into laughter and Sakura quickly joins her.
. . .

Naruto slurps up the last of the ramen, licking his lips in contentment. Grinning he puts the container down and signs to Iruka, more sedately finishing his own ramen/Thanks Iruka-sensei/

Iruka chuckles around a mouthful of noodles. He swallows and reaches out to ruffle Naruto's hair, "You're welcome. I know hospital food isn't very good so I thought you'd like some ramen for a change."

Naruto beams. /Thanks/ After a moment his face falls and he starts to fidget. /When are they going to let me out of here/ He brushes his fingers against the mask around his throat before continuing. /I'm fine. It doesn't hurt at all anymore. Not even when I forget and try to talk./

Iruka shrugs, "I don't know. But it's not like they can keep you here. You proved that the day of the explanatory meeting."

Naruto scowls. /But I can't go on missions until they give the ok./

"Look at the bright side. You've learned a good number of new jutsu and even I'm amazed at the progress you've made with sign language. You've outstripped Sasuke and very nearly caught up with Sakura." Iruka smiles, "I know you're getting a little bored but you've still got the codes to learn and if you want I can find some more jutsu for you. There are some basic katon and doton and I even know where to find a couple simple suiton scrolls."

/But. . ./

Iruka shakes his head, "Ask your sensei. Now that you three have the basics of sign language and you are healed he will probably be willing to take you out training."

Naruto sighs. /Thanks, Iruka-sensei./
. . .

Sasuke looks at the targets arranged around the small clearing. He scowls at the kunai imbedded in them, some not anywhere near the centers, and gathers them quickly with angry jerks "This time I'll do it." With a little grunt he leaps into the air and tosses the kunai, several dull thunks sounding a moment later. He lands and his scowl deepens on seeing that all but one kunai is imbedded in the exact center of the target. He collects the kunai and grits his teeth, "I won't stop until I've beaten you, Nii-san." The last word is spit out with hate.
. . .
. . .

Cyber-"There. That shall be where I end this chapter. I hope you all enjoyed it. Please leave me some reviews!"

Review responses:

Thanks to: Dairokkan, MysteryLady-Tx, RaitenKitsune, Satern Mya, Rosemarykiss, Kyuzo, Princess Kitana, thuyhy-thuyhy, Turtle Kid, chinadoll27, KunochiDreamer, Totaljammer, Joker, sweetlilazn, DreamingRabbit, Peter Kim, Christy, crazy birdbrain099, CloudKat, void star blade, kurama and hieis girl. Sir Graq, sarah-sama, vampchic, Leasan, madnarutofan, silverfox, Maelik, Shadow117, hogo-chan, Erika, Hezzer, EscagirlUK, harryhollow, YJ, The Dark Child, Saske's Iris

To Sierra-Falls: Thanks for the review. About the stealth idea: I agree for the most part. If you remember, I did have Iruka say that the reason Naruto tended to do badly with stealth was his loudness, not his clothing choices. The reason he isn't wearing orange anymore is because his jacket and orange pants were destroyed. I may have him return to orange pants in the future (cause it's possible he has more than one pair) but the jacket is gone forever.

To bookworm51485: Thanks for the review. As for your questions about the condition of the anime arcs in the fic, well, I will say that most of the arcs will be present in some shape or form. You'll just have to be patient about the details.

To Yum: Thanks for the review. As for Sakura asking Kakashi, it was mostly because she forgot about it until he came in the room. Also she isn't used to going to Naruto for information, even about himself. In the future she may think to ask him. Doesn't mean she'll get an answer though.

To ki-ka: Thanks for the review, I suppose. As for my penname I am consolidating my internet self under the screenname NaturalCyber (so Idon't have to bother telling people: that's not plagerism etc. it's just my other screenname). I have no intention of changing it again.