A/N- hmmm this chapter is kind of long… I wanted for once to write a relatively good fic with some work put into it… so I did. Most of my other fics are on the spot writing or half assed so here's my shot at a one quarter assed fic (or a three quartered assed fic?).

I hope to update on Fridays every week if I can (I will be coming home from vacation next Friday so I might be late but this ones early so it's ok)

I used to be Fairies Hope but changed my user name.

*Note* 7/16/2011 – so I am now working with a beta and getting this story edited. I will hopefully have a chapter a week edited. During this I am outlining the next book so I can be a bit ahead when I start posting.

Summary- Naruto is not like everyone thinks he is, he hides his true self from everybody. The few who know about the real him know very little. When various events force Naruto to spend time with his team mates in situations outside of the norm he finds it hard to keep up the act.

Parings- SasuNaru, some KakaIru others not decided.

Rating- very much an R rated fic

Warning- sexual situations, foul language, self mutilation, attempted suicide, a very OOC Sasuke. And bitchy Sakura!

Spoilers- for anyone who is not up to date on the manga up to 2005.

Disclaimer- Sasuke would ware no clothes and Naruto would be his man slave.


Red Walkways

Chapter One

His Path


Below the surface of every person and in every mind lurk secrets; an action or trait to be put aside and out of sight. Whether the person thinks it's disgusting and unacceptable or is simply in denial, everyone has something to keep hidden. What they hide becomes their Red Walkway. A path a person's mind can walk to see all of their secrets; no one else can walk this road unless the holder allows. Words build the path for the listener to walk and they see thatred is the color of everything hidden; if lies can be white and the truth black… then secrets are red.

Sixteen years ago a boy was born; he was the son of the most important man in the most powerful village of the day. This boy was left alone, abandoned and then hated. By the time he was six, he came to a realization no boy of his age should have to. This child knew without a doubt that he had to hide, to keep his true self from the people around him and yet at the same time, he had to make them see him as a person so that he may reveal this self he hid. If the red walkways are real then this boy holds the longest and reddest of all. And this boy believed in the tale he was told when he was young. He knew the walkways were real.

Life was full of irony and the blond boy was no exception. The moment the demon that haunted so many was sealed within him, he became a walking contradiction. He could not act the way he wanted to, for no matter how stupid and thick he seemed to be, or how untalented he appeared, inside he was weak - but brilliant. Fragile as woven glass; the blond gave off a dense and hard shelled persona so others could not exploit this weakness. Brilliant as any of the top students of his younger years or even more so, but to the common passerby, he was the village idiot.

If the people who hated him most ever found out how breakable he was or how much smarter, that would be the end of him. They would see a dangerous yet easily crushed problem that they could take their anger out on for the death of loved ones long passed.

At age twelve this boy found his first friend in his first rival, a boy who hid just like him but for his own reasons. He was betrayed and fought for his only real friend… and lost. At fifteen he fought again, winning and yet somehow losing at the same time. He had this person back, but his trust was gone. At sixteen he had almost all of the trust rebuilt and the bond was almost fixed …


A blonde boy sat on his bed in his small yet very clean and organized apartment; a note book lay open on his lap. Across the pages lay notes, complicated symbols and hand seal formulas. In his hand a crude looking pencil was loosely held, the blunt end resting lightly on his bottom lip. A look of concentration and contemplation was etched onto his face as he seemed to be staring intently at a sketched symbol that boggled him.

After another moment of staring at the seal-like mark, he scribbled a few lines of Kanji, taking up the last of the space on the last page of the book (In his case the last page was the inside of the back cover). With a sigh he closed it and pulled out a large black marker from his bed side drawer. Looking down at the book he took in its worn edges and the many loose scraps of paper that were sticking out everywhere at random angles and ran his fingers over the yellow edges of the parchment. With a firm grip, he pulled the cap off of the pen and put the tip to the stiff cardboard cover. He hesitated a moment before slowly writing the words he had so many times before. 'Seal research,' then below it in bigger symbols he wrote in clear neat hand writing so unlike that he used in public, 'BOOK 10.'

Capping the marker, the blond put it on the small banged up table then leaned over a bit to open the cupboard that the table harbored. Inside there were multiple note books of all sizes. There were at least twenty or so along with a vast amount of loose papers that stuck out everywhere or were in stacks with many others. The blond sighed knowing he needed to reorganize everything, but he went into this mountain of papers so often that it didn't do much good. Naruto tucked the newly filled book in with the rest. Upon shoving his latest book in he noticed that the organization problems with this particular area also had a lot to do with size of the space he was trying to fit all the books and papers in. He made a mental not to get a new book the next morning as he forced the table door shut with a shove, and to maybe look into getting a new table. Rolling over so he was fully on the bed again he let himself fall directly to sleep as the time of night finally caught up with his tired mind.

The sixteen year old chuunin had been keeping these note books for the last few years; each one has a title, the first ones being about difficult or forbidden techniques and then they moved into ones he was inventing. The last ten books he has been writing have all been about the six point seal that resided on his stomach; he made a huge breakthrough in his last notebook.

He had known how to perform the sealing since his second book but it took the next six to figure out mostly all of the inter-workings of the mark, everything that made it tick. The last two note books had been dedicated to altering the seal without harming or killing himself or the demon and also without releasing the seal. He had spoken to the beast only once before when he had bypassed the seal by entering his own mind in a desperate attempt to save his own life. The demon had been everything he had expected: large, scary, mean and dangerous - but he couldn't be fooled. When he had bypassed the seal to be able to see and talk to the demon, he had also connected to him on an emotional level and felt something that threw him for a loop. Instead of the expected anger, hate, and vengeance, he had felt sorrow, regret and also longing. He wanted to know more about the beast but no matter how much he meditated he couldn't reach him, and he wasn't about to try and kill himself so he turned to something he had relied on for a long time - his mind.

The blond knew how dangerous this was, but in that moment when the red chakra wrapped around him when the demon granted him power, he felt something from the beast that told him everything would be OK even if he ended up breaking the seal. Though as his research continued, his anxiety about letting loose a monster faded as he soon came to realize the only way to fully lift the seal is for him or the demon to die. This helped ease his angst about fooling around with the Yondaime's work, but it didn't do much for his fears when it was concerning a certain organization that was still after him…


Naruto woke up early the next morning, a jolt of excitement sending shivers up his spine as he remembered he was going to use his research in some experiments today after training, guard duty, and buying a new notebook. He was always excited to test out new work in practical application, but today was different; he had spent so much time on this, and it wasn't just some new Jutsu. If this worked the way he thought it would, he could get some information on the seal from the inside… Think of what he could do for himself and Gaara in the future …

Pushing his anticipation to the back of his mind, Naruto slid from his bed and practically ran to the shower. He pulled off his shirt without even bothering to shut the door. His blond hair which now resembled the fourth's, only shorter, floated back into place as he pulled off his pajama pants. The shower water was not too cold and not too warm as the blond stepped under the spray, letting the liquid wash away any remaining sleep; Naruto bent his head back and groaned in mild pleasure.

After drying and dressing in his training clothes which consisted of low riding black cargos and a black tank top, Naruto looked for breakfast. Opening the refrigerator, the nin sighed at the empty space; opening the cupboards, he sighed again when he only saw ramen. Naruto wasn't in the mood for salt in a cup, not that he didn't like it … he just didn't like it as much as he let on-but it was all part of the act. In fact, the fox boy could cook quite well and was proud of his skills. Really, do you think a growing boy could actually live off instant food alone and still function as a ninja? Naruto grabbed two cups from the shelf and made a mental note to get food along with his book.

After forcing down a cup of the noodles Naruto got up to tossed out the cup and disposable chop sticks, grabbing the other cup of noodles; it was time to go act like an idiot. The scary thing was he was used to it; it was natural to act that way out side of his apartment. Sometimes he wondered who was the real him… which one he made up. Then his logical side kicked in and said how can you make up intelligence? Naruto chuckled at his own thoughts before putting on a stupid grin and walking out the door. The blonde faltered for a moment when a note taped to his door caught his attention. Pulling it off, he recognized Tsunade's hand writing.

Sorry Naruto your guard duty is canceled today! I over scheduled and needed to drop someone! Since this would be your third time this week and for other various reasons I dropped you!

Have a nice day,


Naruto sighed, crumpling up the note. Tsunade could be such a flake… continuing on his way Naruto let his thoughts wander. He only had one stop to make this morning with his cup of ramen.

The blond wondered if he should let Sasuke win today in the sparring sessions. Naruto lost most of the times they fought but half the time he let Sasuke win in a very convincing act. He had to do this for his own safety, if he fought all out with all the jutsu he knew or invented, he would win too much. The villagers would know the real him, fear him, and then try to destroy him. In the public eye he used just enough power to be noticed but stayed on a level he was not in danger on. He was planning to show his true power when he wanted to prove his worth to be Hokage, Naruto reached up and touched the necklace that hung under his vest; but he had that in the bag. Tsunade-baba had seen his ambition and honesty, some of the few traits he did show even if he amplified them for his own purpose, and granted him the privilege of being her successor with the necklace. He never told anyone and neither had Tsunade; too many questions was a bad thing, and when the time was right people would be told.

Tsunade was pleased with her choice since she knew most of who Naruto really was - and was one of the few; she was also convinced of his fate to succeed her when he didn't die after receiving the gift. The only others who knew anything of the real Naruto were Iruka, Gaara and Jiraiya who knew even less than Tsunade and the blond had a sneaking suspicion that Kakashi knew more then he let on, even if it wasn't much. Naruto wasn't too surprised considering his odd survival rate in normally fatal situations for people at his level. There was also that slip up in water country on the miss-ranked mission when he came up with the plan to save Kakashi… He had meant to ease his team into seeing him as more than an idiot without seeming to strong but he was just so fucking mad! So he became the boy of many surprises and played off it.

Naruto started to speed up a bit and widened his smile as the bridge came into site, black and pink heads were in view but a certain masked teacher was, as usual, absent. He didn't know why they still met, after getting Sasuke back and the Mission in sand they had taken to meeting again just to train. People with missions didn't come; Sakura had improved so much in the three years she studied under Tsunade that these meetings were quite a work out.

These days Naruto wasn't in that bad a place in his life, his only big problem was the Akatsuki. Orochimaru was dead, killed not long before Sasuke was found. It was a long fight between Tsunade, Jiraiya, himself, and Orochimaru; Sakura wasn't with them at the time. Orochimaru couldn't find Sasuke since he left after mooching three years of training off the senin. The battle wasn't too hard since Orochimaru was injured (courtesy of Sasuke when he fled from the monster) and he refused to take a new body until the last second, but didn't get one before Naruto and company showed up. He was too weak to win and Kabuto couldn't stand up to two senin. After it was over, Naruto gave all credit to the elders of the group even though he did play a big part.

About getting Sasuke back, that was a whole different story; there wasn't much fighting involved and Sasuke wasn't even with Orochimaru when they found him. He was trying to gain power in his own way since the cursed seal was dead and he had much more sense in that head of his than the first time Naruto tried to talk to him. He didn't want to come back but he didn't want to fight Naruto to the death again; in the end he came with them, but no one really knew why he came back so easily. Still Naruto was sure he had not given up killing his bother…


Naruto yelled as loud as he could, another thing he played off of. Hehadn't had a crush on this girl since he was twelve, but the Naruto everyone knows does.


She replied halfheartedly without even taking her eyes off of Sasuke; the brunet nodded in greeting and Naruto gave a small wave in return. He liked being on good terms with Sasuke, it made him smile for real every time they communicated without a fight or insult, not that he didn't like their fights as well… he just didn't like their real fights.

"I'm getting my own apartment soon!"

Sakura announced pulling the blond from his odd train of thought about their third team member.

"That's great Sakura-chan!"

Naruto yelled happily; Sasuke didn't even react.

"I want my apartment to be clean and organized! My house is so chaotic sometimes! I bet your house is perfectly organized Sasuke-kun!"

Sakura continued as if Naruto hadn't even spoken, her voice going from excited to annoyed and finishing on disgustingly sweat. The inner Naruto flicked Sakura off while the outer one said,

"Well what about my apartment?"

Sakura laughed, "Your apartment is probably a pigsty, and I wouldn't want to live in there even if someone paid me."

Her voice was harsh and the inner Naruto was angry and hurt while the outer one stayed neutral. Normally Sakura and Naruto were friends on the loosest of terms, or at least civil, but the pink haired girl did tend to fall back into old habits, especially in front of Sasuke.

"It's not nice to assume."

Sasuke cut in, speaking for the first time that morning; Naruto smiled a real smile that he rarely showed but remained silent once again. The brunet didn't miss the expression that he knew was different from the others somehow; he didn't know why but it just was. Sasuke had never been in the blonde's apartment and agreed with Sakura's description was probably accurate, but still didn't like people thinking they knew someone when they didn't at all. Sasuke threw Naruto a look that the fox boy knew all too well; it was one of the things that made them such good friends - it was like they could communicate without words at times.

Sakura looked down in shame as Sasuke indirectly scolded her,

"I know," she said quietly. "But with the way he acts and all that stuff-"the pink haired girl was cut off.

A "PUFF" noise caught everyone's attention as Kakashi finally made his appearance. Sasuke and Naruto let out twin inner sighs of relief because of where the conversation was going. Sakura had been informed of Kyuubi during the time of Naruto's absence for three years, and though she never seemed to care she sometimes hinted towards it being the reason for Naruto's annoying behavior or a reason to blame something on him. Sasuke knew about the fox because of the fight with Naruto when he was twelve… it was sort of hard to miss.


Was called out by two members of the former team seven; Kakashi put his hands up in defense waving them back and forth.

"I had a dolphin problem I had to take care of!" he stated.

"LIES!" was yelled by the same two members.

This time Kakashi looked truly insulted,

"It's not a lie; it's a metaphor!" he yelled desperately.

The outer Naruto just looked confused while the inner Naruto knew exactly what Kakashi was talking about; Iruka let it slip a couple of days ago… plus he wasn't that stupid.

"Sure it is." Sakura said skeptically.

Apparently, Sakura was that stupid. Naruto would admit that the girl was smart but her common sense was lacking. The blond threw a look at Sasuke and wondered if he knew; if he didn't it was probably a result of the fact that he didn't care enough to notice.

Kakashi chose to ignore the last remark from his female student.

"Well, we are here to spar so let start. Sasuke with Naruto today and I'll take on Sakura's scary strength!" the copy nin said happily.

"Great." Sakura deadpanned.

The fights were relatively uneventful, same old, same old; that is until Sasuke threw a punch that Naruto didn't expect. The blond couldn't prepare for the hit or block fast enough, his hand came up and hit Sasuke's in a funny manner as he leaned back trying to avoid the hit throwing the brunet off balance. They fell to the ground landing one on top of the other, Sasuke's face in the crock of the blonde's neck. Everything seemed to stop when the "thud" echoed across the training grounds, even Sakura and Kakashi stopped to look.

Naruto's eyes snapped open the size of dinner plates when a warm breath slid down the side of his neck. He looked down to see the top of Sasuke's dark head and panicked as heat flooded his whole body, gathering in the wrong spot. Using the situation to his advantage Naruto shoved Sasuke as hard as he could; scrambling to his feet.


Naruto forced himself to look irritated to cover up just how flustered he really was … Sasuke was still sitting on the ground in a very out of character daze.

"Well I think that's enough training for this morning!"

Kakashi cut in with a chipper voice and an obvious smile behind his mask.

"We will be having a mission in about a week; I need to pick up the papers in a minute."

This snapped Sasuke from his trance and he got to his feet to listen.

"I think we should meet tonight around six so I can give you the papers with the details and you will have the time between now and the mission date to memorize the information." Kakashi continued happy to have gotten everyone's attention.


Naruto jumped and yelled in his abnormally high voice, Sakura just gave an obedient "hai" while Sasuke nodded in response.

"Do you know what the rank is Kakashi-sensei?" Naruto said will equal enthusiasm but less volume.

"No clue," the copy nin answered, "I was only told to go to the Hokage's office today at 1:00 PM to receive all information."

Naruto nodded happily, in truth the real Naruto did love missions; just like the real Naruto, he held the same ambition as the pretend one - he just reacted differently than he normally would.


Naruto jumped a bit at the yell having forgotten his pink haired team mate was there. Kakashi looked down at his watch,

"So it is; well I guess I better go!" With a "PUFF" he was gone only leaving a wisp of smoke the wind carried away.

The moment the three young members of team seven were alone, Sakura turned to Sasuke.

"Sasuke-kun! You want to have lunch with me?" She squealed in a happy, sweet voice that was meant to be attractive.

The brunette was about to say he had something he had to take care of and skulk away as he normally did, when the pink haired girl cut him off.

"And don't say you have something to do or somewhere to be; I know for a fact you don't!" she scolded, happy she might manipulate Sasuke into a third lunch this month. Ever since Sasuke's seal disappeared and he came back to the village he was being a little more flexible. He also only got out of dinner and lunches with his female teammate when he could trick her into thinking he had something to do. Somewhere along the line he had grown some compassion, and also realized that no matter how many times he pulled the girl to the side and told her nicely (for Sasuke) that he had to no feelings for her, she would never give up. Her plan was to make him grow feelings. Since he said there was no one else that held his heart she still thought she had a chance. Of course Sasuke wasn't about to tell her his biggest secret; that he realized a while ago that he was gay, just like Naruto realized when he was younger, unknown to everyone, that he was bi.

Sakura skipped to Sasuke's side and grabbed his arm pulling him behind her as they made their way to the trail that led to town. Naruto watch with pity in his eyes as his friend was dragged into a long and torturous lunch. Deciding to be nice, the blond heaved a sigh and started to walk away only to stop and look over his shoulder. Knowing the normal Naruto would never be this nice or observant the blond thought once would be OK.

"OI! Sasuke-teme! I thought you were going to help me buy a new weapon set that will fit my hands better!"

The brunette looked over at his blond teammate like he could have kissed him, turning to Sakura he tired to sound a little apologetic when he said.

"I have to go, I did tell him I would help."

Pulling out of the female's grasp Sasuke tried to walk at an even pace to the blonde's side. As they walked away together Sasuke lifted his hand in a casual wave. Though he was surprised at Naruto's insight he couldn't say he wasn't thankful, but now he had to spend time with Naruto so Sakura wouldn't get suspicious.

"So where are we really going?" Sasuke asked in a rare show of curiosity.

Naruto only smiled, "I have some errands to run. I was planning to do them later but my Guard duty was canceled."

"Tsunade probably knew about the mission." Sasuke responded automatically, but he was thinking somewhere along the lines of 'Naruto runs errands?'

"Now that you mention it, she did say something about having various reasons in her letter, and I thought she was just being flaky again." Naruto said the last part without thinking and had to resist the need to slap his hand over his mouth. The blond waited for Sasuke to react hoping he didn't catch the slip up.

"Who are you to be calling people flaky, dobe?"

Naruto sighed on the inside and responded in his loud, high voice,


A carelessly grunted "whatever" was Sasuke's response.

Naruto was a bit taken back by the lack of response but they both let it slide.

"So where to first?" Sasuke asked in a bored tone.

Naruto shrugged. "I need to pick up a note book and some food."

"Out of ramen?" the half insult half statement slipped out before the brunette could stop it.

Naruto didn't even respond; the blond found it hard to keep up his act when he was alone with Sasuke. Besides the fights which came naturally to them, he really felt no need to hide himself. Maybe it was because he knew the Uchiha was hiding too. Sasuke seemed to act different when it was just Naruto and himself as well; he talked more and was a bit more open. The only other people to see the changes in the brunette since he returned is Sakura, when he avoids dates or tries to convince her she has no chance instead of ignoring her, and Kakashi; he'd also seen glimpses of the real Sasuke here and there during training or missions, but over all Sasuke was the same Sasuke to everyone else.

After a short walk where both boys were lost in thought, they stopped in front of a small shop. Naruto walked in first followed closely by Sasuke. The blond grabbed a basket and was walking around grabbing things off the shelves. Eggs, milk, various vegetables and fruits, fish, meats, rice and so on, Sasuke watched what the blond was getting and was surprised by the lack of instant foods. Naruto grabbed a box of cereal and a bottle of sushi vinegar and dubbed himself done, walking to the check out. While waiting in line Naruto grabbed a notebook off the rack next to him and threw it on the counter with everything else when it was their turn.

The man at the counter gave the blond a dirty look that Sasuke didn't miss but shrugged off; Naruto paid what the man asked and watched as he bagged the goods. The cashier put the bread on the bottom of a bag then proceeded to put the milk on top of it with a satisfied grin. Sasuke could shrug off a nasty look but that was just plain rude, he was about to complain while death glaring the man behind the counter when a hand on his arm distracted him.

Naruto watched as the man destroyed his bread but forced himself to say neutral on the outside; can't show weakness. At least the bread was something he already had some of at home, he glanced over as Sasuke to see if he noticed what happened. The Uchiha looked like he was about to say something, so Naruto grabbed his arm and the bags then dragged the brunette out of the store. Naruto was already regretting his choice to bail Sasuke out this morning.

Sasuke ripped his arm from the blonde's grasp and turned on him with a glare.

"Don't say you didn't notice what the cashier did; why didn't you say something? Why did you stop me?" he said, his voice louder than normal and full of anger.

Naruto was shocked by Sasuke's completely out of character show of concern with his almost yelling, the brunette seemed to also realize what he was doing and clammed up. The blond looked straight into the Uchiha's eyes once his shock had faded, his face for once was not holding a smile.

"I need to get this stuff home before it goes bad, I'll see you at the bridge at 6:00."

Sasuke nodded dumbly and watched as his teammate walked away.


Naruto walked into his apartment, shutting the door with his foot and making his way to the kitchen part of his main room, dropping his bags onto the small table. He put the perishables into his refrigerator and the rest into his very organized cupboards. Naruto placed his new notebook on his bedside table and plopped down on his bed; he wondered if he should try his experiment with the seal but decided after looking at his clock and seeing he only had an hour and a half that he'd better wait. If something went wrong he wouldn't have time to reverse it, and once he started he couldn't stop; it was too dangerous.

Naruto let out a groan; he really wanted to try it today… but he settled for finishing a manga series he had bought. Wandering across the room to his book shelf he pulled away all his neutral or girl centered manga to show a stash of shounen-ai and yaoi volumes, and he grabbed Gravitation volume 10. Pulling away that book revealed another layer of books and scrolls that he has read or uses for research. Most of these tomes were illegal or forbidden, but he had gotten most of them from the Hokage herself. She was the only person who knew of his research. He showed her his breakthroughs on occasion and had done some of his practical application tests in front of her in her office. She knew about his work on the seal, being interested herself. He would bring her information about the pact between Death and the Fourth whenever he found something. He didn't tell her he had started working on building up to testing; he didn't know what she would think. The best part of all of this was since he was the successor to the hokage, Tsunade was allowed to give Naruto full access to the forbidden scroll room. All he had to do was tell her which one he was going to take and have it back when she said so. All the genjutsu and other precautions were altered to let him pass.

Flopping back onto his bed, Naruto opened to book and began to read, he briefly wondered what Sasuke would do if he found out Naruto read this stuff… or that he was bi. The blond shuddered; he would probably be disgusted.

Sometime later Naruto finished the last page and sighed, he wanted to read the last two books but looking at his clock he realized he only had a half an hour to get ready. Scrabbling off his bed, Naruto jogged over and put the book back. On his way to the bathroom he stopped as he was passing a closed door. The room was small, if he remembered correctly; he used to use it as a training room - he'd moved all the equipment to a corner of his main room and locked the door. The key was somewhere only he could find it, and he hadn't opened the door in four years. Turning his two room and bathroom apartment into a fairly large one room and bathroom flat in his attempt to forget. He had thought about moving but who would sell him an apartment, and this one was given to him by the third.

Naruto shook himself from his thoughts and quickly entered his bathroom. He jumped into the shower so fast he burned himself; adjusting the temperature he finished in ten minutes. Getting out, he toweled dry. Wrapping the cloth around his waist, he wiped his hair and dropped the towel around his shoulders. Looking in the slightly foggy mirror he decided he didn't need to shave, reaching down to put away a razor he left out that morning away he froze once it was in his hand. After what seemed to be an internal battle, he grabbed the razor with his other hand and broke it open with a 'snap', letting the three small blades fall to the counter. After another moment's thought he dropped the plastic parts to the counter as well and shook his head.

"I don't have time for this," he mumbled.

Even if the Kyuubi saved him from scarring, the time it would take him to clean up the blood would make him late. Dropping both towels into the hamper he got dressed in his chuunin uniform: green pants and fishnet top with his vest over it. Once again putting on a stupid grin, he left the apartment and ran to the bridge - he still might be late because he had needed to finish that damned manga.

Naruto was the last one the make it to the bridge besides their leader, his other two teammates were also in their uniforms with various changes. Sasuke had all black with his green vest, while Sakura had all green with the green vest, but her pants only went to her knees.

Naruto gave his customary greeting and received nothing from Sakura this time but he got a small wave from Sasuke which was more than his normal nod. The brunette was glancing at the blond ever minute or two; Naruto figured it was about what happened earlier at the shop.

Before the teen could even utter another word to his teammates a "puff" informed them of their instructor's arrival. Kakashi was yelled at, lied, and was yelled at again before he handed out a folder of information to each student.

"You will memorize all the information in the packet within the next week before we leave. We will be traveling to the hidden sand for a mission under their Kage, Gaara of the sand. He wants us to do various small yet vitally important missions that have the survival of sand indirectly in jeopardy." Kakashi briefed shortly.

Naruto smiled at the thought of seeing Gaara again. He remembered the time they spent together while he was away training. Gaara knew a lot about Naruto's true personality, but it was mostly about his intelligence and strength than his personality itself.

"But shouldn't this be a mission for a higher class ninja?" Sakura cut in with a worried look on her face.

Kakashi nodded. "It should be, but Gaara-sama has requested us."

"Why us?" Sakura pressed.

Kakashi sighed. "Well not us. He requested Naruto but since he's a chuunin he has to go on mission higher then C with a team of three and a jounin, which is you two and me."

Sakura looked outraged. "Why would he request Naruto?" She said like it was obvious why it should not be. "I mean I would understand if it was Sasuke-kun, or something." She added for good measure.

Sasuke just seemed mildly shocked about the whole thing, including what was coming out of Sakura's mouth. Naruto on the other hand was about to say something in his defense when a loud crack of thunder cut him off.

It was like god just turned on a big ass hose when the rain came a moment later, it was hard thick and cold. Sakura screamed something about her hair while Sasuke and Naruto just put their folders under their vest; Sakura followed their lead a moment later.

Kakashi turned to what he could see of his team through the rain and yelled above the slapping of water.

"Naruto's apartment is the closest - we should wait it out there. The lightning is too close for comfort; if you don't mind that is..."

He directed the last part at the blonde who shook his head vigorously, only wanting to get out of the rain. Everyone ran after the blond who led the way to his apartment since the only person with them who had been there was Kakashi…

A/N- that's chapter one!

Original Finish Date- 3-20-05

Beta pass 7/16/2011 ~Thank you to my beta Afira 3