A/N: Let me start off by saying that this story will end next chapter (most likely). It's been over a year since I've updated this, so if you were following it way back when, it would probably be a good idea to read it over again from the beginning; that's what I've had to do. I stopped writing on this because of one reason. If you'll remember from previous chapters, I stated that I had an idea I wanted to write within this story that would extend it to over twenty chapters. Basically, my idea is what is now the time-jump arc of the manga, or Shippuuden of the anime. THE NEXT SENTENCES ARE SPOILERS! My idea was to have Sasuke come back after a few years, but not necessarily to the village. He would have three companions (one even looked, in my mind's eye, like what Suigetsu looks like), and they would help him in his quest to kill Itachi whilst Sakura and Naruto try to get him back. SPOILERS END HERE. No, I was not copying Kishimoto as I had this idea before it actually became canon manga. So yeah, it bummed me out, and I didn't want to write my version of it because that would just be copying what the canon manga is. So, there you have it. I have not written anything in over a year, so hopefully the ending of this won't suck, haha.
Orochimaru watched disinterestedly as Kabuto leaned out over Sakura's body—still hanging off of the rock—making measurements on random body parts. The snake master did not even want to ask what his apprentice was measuring her for. He tapped his fingers for a few more minutes before clearing his throat.
"Kabuto. We have guests just about to arrive, and you are—what? Fitting the girl for a new dress?" At Kabuto's embarrassed stare, Orochimaru snapped his fingers. "Get down here."
Kabuto disappeared and reappeared at his master's side. "I was—"
"Don't care," Orochimaru interrupted, holding a hand up. He sniffed the air and sighed in pleasure. "I can practically smell our dear Sasuke."
Kabuto faced the other direction and sneered. Sasuke, Sasuke, Sasuke. Always Sasuke. Just because of his stupid eyes!
"Unnnh… Sasuke… Naruto… Kakashi-sensei… "
Both men jerked their heads up at the moan. Sakura was rousing. She lifted her bruised and battered head, wiping her bloody lip on her elbow pad. She attempted to open both eyes, but one was swollen shut, so she peered around with her left eye. After realizing she was fifteen feet off the ground, she moaned. "Damn… it…"
"I'll go knock her out again," Kabuto offered, making a move towards her.
"No, no. We wouldn't want her to miss the fun in a few minutes." Orochimaru smiled at her. "Wakey-wakey, little girl."
Sakura spat out some blood. She found herself annoyed that she was too far away from her captors for the blood to even come close to hitting either of them. It hurts… As if rejecting what was happening to her, Sakura's stomach emptied its contents onto the ground beneath her, creating a slight splatter noise.
"That was just… ew," Kabuto said, sniffing at the air in distaste. He recoiled even more when Sakura coughed up some blood.
"Okay," Shikamaru started, spreading his hands out in front of him. A cave entrance loomed about thirty feet away, dark and dripping water in one area. "Lee, you will go in first. They will, no doubt, know you are there by your chakra. I will be right behind you to trap Kabuto in Me and My Shadow. Then, you'll attack. Now, Neji—"
"WE KNOW," the others all stated at once. They had already been over the plan several times. Neji already knew to find Sakura immediately while Sasuke, Kakashi, and Naruto went after Orochimaru. Shikamaru had not discussed a separate plan with Sasuke, Kakashi, and Naruto; he, instead, left it up to them how they would handle Orochimaru.
Shikamaru frowned. "All right then. Lee, fix your—" he thrust a hand in Lee's direction "—duck-butt hair."
Sasuke's head perked up and he turned in Shikamaru's direction, guessing that he must have heard wrong. Shikamaru was checking his kunai pouch, so Sasuke assumed that he had.
Lee hopped up and down a few times, stretching his arms and neck before suddenly disappearing into the cave. The other five men were as silent as a cold, winter night as they listened for action inside the cave. As soon as they felt a chakra other than Lee's, Shikamaru disappeared into the cave, as well.
"My, my, Sasuke, how good it is to see you," Kabuto crooned as he stepped around a corner and towards the entrance to the cave. Lee stood there, fists gripped tightly. He dared not say a word for his voice would surely give him away.
"What's wrong? Nothing to say to an old friend? You used to love our games of hide and seek. You were always so good at hiding when your life was at stake," Kabuto trailed off fondly.
The hairs on the back of Lee's neck stood up. What kind of hide and seek was that? It was no wonder Sasuke turned out so fucked up.
"You do look different though, Sasuke."
Oh, shit. Get in here, Shikamaru!
On cue, Shikamaru popped into the cave and immediately began to cast his shadow technique. Unfortunately, because Kabuto was already on guard from his suspicion, he was able to jump out of the way a millisecond before he was trapped.
"Shit!" Shikamaru cursed. "CHANGE OF PLANS!"
Before he was even finished speaking, Kabuto and Lee were engaged in combat. Lee landed a kick to Kabuto's head only to be forced into an onslaught of blocking to keep from being punched in the face. Shikamaru thought to try to trap Kabuto's shadow again, but the two fighters were simply moving too fast.
Neji, Naruto, Kakashi, and Sasuke flew past the quartet at the entrance. Kabuto struck out randomly, catching Neji on the shoulder. The Hyuuga was forced to turn around to defend himself.
Fuck! Shikamaru screamed inwardly, cursing how the plan had gone to ruins so quickly. He left Lee and Neji to deal with Kabuto and darted after Kakashi, Naruto, and Sasuke.
Shikamaru intended to make a run for Sakura as soon as they rounded a corner and saw her, but Sasuke immediately ran in her direction. "No! Sasuke--! Argh, damnit!"
"Haha," Naruto laughed jovially, "we're wingin' it!" He fired up a Rasengan and carefully aimed upward.
"What the—" Sakura stuttered, eyes widening. She squeezed her eyes shut as Naruto fired up at her. The ball sliced through the chains that bound her wrist like a warm knife through butter, and she felt herself falling.
A near silent grunt was the only sound Sasuke made to indicate catching Sakura from probably thirty feet up was a bit uncomfortable. He set her down immediately without a word and whirled around, eyes searching the cave wildly. Unable to stand just yet, Sakura fell to her knees and started to shake her numb arms. She looked up at Sasuke, wondering if the amazing red hearts surrounding him were real or an illusion due to lack of sustenance. Sasuke…!
Upon hearing clapping, the rescue unit and Sakura jerked their heads around. Orochimaru slowly stepped into what little light existed in the cave. He lowered his hands to his sides and just smiled—if such an expression could be called a smile.
"Oh, what a wonderful display of a save. A blast and a catch without a moment's thought! What a nice team you all make." The last part was said with a sneer. He turned his attention onto Sasuke now instead of the group as a whole.
"Sasuke, what are you wearing? I didn't realize you held any alliance to anyone but your own selfish heart."
Sasuke cringed, remembering his ANBU attire. "Yes, well, your clothing… requirements… have apparently hindered my dressing abilities. For life."
Orochimaru feigned a pout. "Personally, I rather liked your outfit when you were here. You never did like having a bare back though, did you? Always so self-conscious about your scar…" As he trailed off, he licked one of his disgustingly long fingernails. This seemed to trigger a rage in Sasuke, and it left Sakura wondering if the scar was from being scratched.
The snake-like man's appearance turned grim. "Your body will be mine, Sasuke."
Sasuke did not have to look at Kakashi, Naruto, and Sakura to guess their expressions. He rubbed his face. "For the love of… Would you shut the hell up!" he yelled at Orochimaru. He motioned wildly at his companions. "You're going to make them throw up, you damn pedo!"
"Oh, Sasuke, I never knew he—" Sakura stopped abruptly, covering her mouth in depression. She made a small choked sound, which almost sounded like a sob.
Sasuke face-faulted. "Sakura, no—he—" He sighed. As if saying he didn't would be believable at this point.
Naruto, on the other hand, was laughing hysterically. Kakashi had to hit him over the head to get him to stop. "That's screwed up!" the blond laughed.
A yell, which sounded frighteningly like Lee's, resounded from the cave entrance. Everyone's attention was quickly turned back to the situation at hand. Sasuke glared hatefully at Orochimaru. "This ends now."
Orochimaru smiled again. "With pleasure. I shall try not to tear you to pieces since I need your body."
Within a few seconds, there were about twenty Narutos in the room, all charging at Orochimaru. Kakashi sighed inwardly at Naruto's lack of restraint and tensed himself, ready to jump in at any time. He chanced a sideways glance at Sasuke to see the dark man with his sword unsheathed and gripped tightly at his side. This was it then.