Band of the Forsaken
Disclaimer: I am a little closer to owning Naruto but I'm still not quite there.
Chapter 4: Warning Signs
Being a ninja meant that one got used to all sorts of things that the average citizen would most likely find strange. Jutsus being the prime example as very few untrained individuals could do things such as shoot flames from their mouth or burrow through the ground. A less extreme example, and the one most often overlooked by the ninja community, was their methods of travel around their villages. Most ninja tended to jump from rooftop to rooftop as their main means of travel, seeing as how it was much easier to do this than to maneuver through the streets below. Though this was a very common practice among ninjas it still fascinated and surprised many common villagers.
Naruto was currently involved in this particular mode of travel. He was making his way back to the hospital after visiting the Hokage monument to reflect. His encounter with Gaara had been unexpected but very enlightening. He had known that there was at least one other person who shared the same fate as him but he hadn't expected that person to be able to understand his current situation so completely.
He checked the sun's position in the sky as he drew nearer to the hospital. 'Shit I better hurry up or someone might notice I'm gone,' he thought, increasing his speed.
He arrived at the base of the hospital and started to sprint up the side, causing a few early rising villagers to blink a few times to make sure they were fully awake. Ninja village or no you didn't see a young boy in hospital clothes run up the side of a building everyday.
Naruto arrived at his floor and jumped into the open window and onto the floor. At least that had been his plan before a fist belonging to very angry women sent him crashing to the floor rather than landing nimbly on his feet as he had intended. He regained enough consciousness to tilt his head up and saw a very, VERY, angry looking Tsunade.
"And just where the HELL did you go this morning?" she roared as she lifted him up by his collar, apparently forgetting that he was supposed to be injured and that even if he hadn't been there was a good chance that he was now after her punch had connected with the top of his skull. She had actually gotten up at the crack of dawn to visit Naruto who had worried her so much. The crack of dawn for crying out loud! She could be sleeping on a pile of very important legal documents right now but here she was practically strangling the boy who thought it would be a good idea to go against the medical advice of one of the best medic nins in the world. She had arrived full of concern for her favorite little brat only to find that he had left, which sent her into a realm of pissed off she hadn't been in a very long time.
Naruto managed to slip out of his shirt and fell to the ground holding his throat and coughing. In between his gasps for breath Tsunade heard something that sounded an awful lot like "Crazy old bat." But decided to let it go as most of the ways she could think of to get him to shut up involved permanent brain damage or paralysis.
Naruto stumbled to his feet still coughing. "Damn that hurt why did you go and do that!" he shouted as soon as he got his voice back.
"Why do you think you little punk! You run off in the middle of the night and don't tell anyone where you're going or even that you're leaving! And you expect me to be all happy to see you?"
Naruto stared at Tsunade for moment before answering. "Well…yeah why not?"
Tsunade went through many different reactions in the space of a few seconds, ranging from anger to confusion. She finally threw her arms up in surrender. "Fine. Whatever you say. Will you at least tell me where you went?"
Naruto walked over the chair that Kakashi had occupied the night before and sat down. "I had to get out of here for awhile. I had to go someplace to think things over. Besides, I'm completely healed," he said, flexing his arm.
Tsunade's face softened a bit. She knew from Kakashi the kind of life Naruto had lived or rather had had forced upon him. It wasn't a pleasant fate. He had been branded from the start as the demon that had caused Konoha so much pain and suffering. It wasn't fair and it had been hard not to resign as Hokage as soon as she found out exactly what had gone on. She looked into Naruto's eyes and could see that some of the life had left them. Sasuke had driven him to a place he had never been before. He had been hated all his life but he had never been betrayed before.
She sighed. "I understand. Try to cheer up a bit alright?" She walked towards the door. "Well I've got a bunch of work to get done so I must be going. I'll let you get out of here tomorrow morning."
Naruto jumped out of the chair he had been warming. "What! Tomorrow! But I'm fine now!"
Tsunade turned and smirked at him. "Maybe that'll teach you to go running off in the middle of the night." She walked out the door and was about to close it when she remembered something. "By the way I think Jiraiya was looking for you too so you might want to pretend your dead or something," she said before closing the door.
"Great," Naruto mumbled to himself. "Another day in this crappy little room." He walked over to the bed and lay back down on it. "Ah well guess I better work on pretending to be dead."
He had just closed his eyes when the door to his room slammed open and a pink blur tackled him to the floor.
After regaining consciousness for the second time in less than an hour he managed to sit up, finally noticing the sobbing Sakura that had somehow attached herself to his midsection.
"S-Sakura?" He managed to stutter out in between her sobs.
She looked up and he noticed the rings under her eyes, giving her a creepy resemblance to Gaara.
She got up slowly and sat down on the edge of the bed as Naruto raised himself into a sitting position.
Sakura managed to get herself under control enough to answer Naruto. "I came to the hospital this morning to check on you and I ran into Hokage-Sama and she said that you were gone! I thought you had left just like Sasuke!"
Guilt hit Naruto like a ton of bricks. He had run out in the middle of the night without thinking anything of the consequences or the concerns of others.
'Not that anyone in this damn hospital would've cared at all,' he thought bitterly.
He stood up and walked over to Sakura who had managed to calm herself down. He sat down next to her on the bed and reached out a hand to pat her on the back.
"I'm sorry Sakura. I didn't know I was gonna worry anybody if I left for awhile. Don't you worry though I won't run out on you like that bastard Sasuke!" He finished with a hint of anger evident in his voice.
Sakura looked up and gave him a weak smile. "Thanks Naruto," she said and hopped off the bed to go look out the window.
They both stayed silent for a long while. Naruto eventually flopped back on his bed, staring at the ceiling. "I'm sorry I couldn't bring Sasuke back," he said quietly.
Sakura turned to look at him with a start. "Why are you apologizing Naruto? It's not your fault." She lowered her head before speaking again. "I'm a coward. Asking you to go retrieve Sasuke for me. If I hadn't been so busy trying to look pretty for him I could have been stronger. Maybe even strong enough to get him back myself."
Naruto stared at her wide-eyed. He had never seen her like this before. Normally she was cheerful, even if she was yelling at him it had always held a somewhat playful demeanor. His face contorted in anger. 'Sasuke. You son of a bitch. How could you do this to Sakura? All she ever did was care about you and you just tossed her aside like some piece of trash. I'll make you pay for this.' He quickly hid his anger and changed his expression to a cheerful smile.
"Hey hey! Don't worry Sakura! I think you're a really strong ninja! And don't worry about Sasuke. As soon as the old hag lets me out of here I'll go kick his ass and then drag it back here all the way from the Sound village!" He said jumping up into a pose similar to that of Lee or Gai but not as creepy.
Sakura smiled at Naruto. 'At least he cares enough to try,' she thought to herself. "Thanks Naruto but next time I'll come with you to get Sasuke back."
"Already eager to chase down Sasuke again are we? Well I wouldn't worry about that for awhile yet!" A voice boomed from outside the window, causing both Naruto and Sakura to turn suddenly towards the new arrival.
Naruto stared out the window for a moment before It registered with him just who was hanging out on top of a giant toad outside his window. "Ahhh! It's Ero-sannin!"
Jiraiya frowned. "Hey brat that's no way to talk to the invincible Toad hermit Jiraiya! And here I came to give you the offer of a lifetime!"
Naruto brightened up immediately, a dumbstruck Sakura all but forgotten in the background. "Really? What is it? Some super cool new jutsu I'll bet, something that I can use to beat the crap out of Sasuke in a second. Or maybe it's some forbidden technique that let's me…"
As Naruto went on and on about what this "offer of a lifetime" could possibly be Sakura snapped out of her initial shock at the way the two greeted each other. "Jiraiya-Sama?"
Jiraiya turned to look at Sakura. "Yes how can I help you young lady?" He said with a large grin.
"I was wondering about what you said when you got here, about not needing to worry about going after Sasuke for awhile."
Jiraiya's smile grew even wider. "Ah it's good to see that someone was paying attention to my marvelous introduction! Yes what I meant by that is that, according to my intelligence networks Orochimaru will not be able to complete his plans for Sasuke until three years from now." At this Naruto finally stopped his rant and started listening to Jiraiya. "It seems he got impatient while waiting for Sasuke so he will have to wait another three years before he can steal Sasuke's body." He turned to look at Sakura. "Tsunade told you the particulars of Orochimaru's plan didn't she?" Sakura nodded. "Good then that's all sorted out." His face suddenly grew grave. "But…you should forget about Sasuke."
Naruto and Sakura both started at this. "What do you mean forget about him!" Naruto shouted. "We can't just leave him in the hands of that snake bastard!"
Sakura took a step towards Jiraiya. "Naruto's right. We can't just leave him, even if he did run off."
Jiraiya raised a hand to silence them. "Trust me when I say I know how the two of you feel but Sasuke made this decision on his own. He won't be coming back. If you insist on Going after him Naruto you can forget about any training from me and you will be constantly under surveillance by ANBU."
Naruto sighed and turned to stare at the wall. "Well if that's the case then I'll just have to do it without the help of you or the village! I'm gonna keep my promise to Sakura!" He shouted turning back to face a now chuckling Jiraiya. "Eh? What's so funny?"
Jiraiya's chuckle developed into a hearty laugh. "Hahaha! Well I can see you're going to do this one way or another. Meet me in the training grounds at noon in a week. We'll be leaving the village for a couple years so say your farewells before then!"
"Naruto's frown turned into one of his foxy grins. "Alright I'll be there. But you better teach me some really cool jutsu!"
"Well then I'll meet you in a week brat!" Jiraiya shouted as the toad he was upon began to leap away.
Sakura stared at Naruto as he watched his new sensei ride off towards the Hokage tower. Now Naruto was getting special training just like Sasuke. 'I'm going to be left behind again,' she thought as she stared down at her feet. 'No. I won't be worthless! I'm going to get stronger and then I'll help Naruto get Sasuke back!' She ran towards the door shouting back at Naruto; "I have to go do something Naruto! I'll come see you again tomorrow!"
"Um…okay?" Naruto said as he watched the retreating form of his kunoichi teammate.
He stared at the clock on the wall. "Ugh. It's only noon and already so much has happened. What is it with people yelling at me and then just running off?" He wandered over to the chair across from his bed and collapsed into it. 'Whew I got carried away this morning with all the running around. Maybe I do need a little more rest,' He thought as he drifted off into sleep.
He awoke in a place that he found uncomfortably familiar. Water stained corridors lined with pipes stretched on and on while he stood in ankle deep water.
"Ah shit," he said turning around.
"Is that anyway to greet the one to whom you owe your life?" A booming voice echoed through the corridors. The awesome nine-tailed demon fox Kyuubi toward before him, still threatening though rendered harmless by the seal of the Fourth Hokage.
Naruto snorted. "Oh please you did that more to help yourself than to help me."
Kyuubi waved his nine tails around in the air behind him. "Hah. That may be true but the fact is you're alive because of me. And show me some respect you little runt!"
Naruto rolled his eyes at the demon before him. "Well what do you want? You obviously didn't bring me here just to chat."
Kyuubi smiled. "The real question brat, is what do you want?"
"That's a stupid question you stupid fox. I want to get Sasuke back of course!" He frowned, realizing what the fox had meant. "Hey wait. You don't mean…?"
"Yes boy. You felt it before didn't you? During your fight with the Uchiha. You used far more of my power than you ever have before. How did it feel having that kind of power?"
Naruto looked away with a pained expression. "It felt…good. Really good. But why?" He turned back to the demon. "Why was it so different this time?"
"At some point during our fight with the Uchiha your goal changed. You had wanted to bring him back to Konoha, to keep your promise to that pathetic girl but before you tapped into my chakra you no longer cared. You used my chakra with the same intent that I use it with. You wanted him dead and you still do don't you?"
Naruto looked down at his feet, a mixture of shame and anger. "Yes," he managed to grind out through clenched teeth. "Why are you doing this! Don't bring this up with me right now I don't need this!"
Kyuubi grinned again looking at the distraught Naruto. "I could give you more of my chakra."
Naruto's head snapped up at that, a hungry look in his eyes. "More?" He said, licking his lips and trembling with excitement, a desperate look in his eyes. 'With that kind of power I could take down Sasuke and the entire Sound village.'
The demon's smile widened even more to reveal his vicious teeth. 'Now I have him.'
"Yes more. As much as your body can handle. But I want something from you."
A swirl of red flashed across Naruto's eyes for a moment before he responded. "I'll do anything for it."
Kyuubi cracked his tails in the air behind him. "I want you to weaken the seal. You have the power to do that. I want to taste freedom from time to time.
Naruto thought for a moment. He didn't know if he could do that. He would be betraying the village in a way and he didn't know how he felt about that. "I…don't know. Maybe. Maybe not. I have to think about it."
The demon did not look very pleased with this answer. "Fine brat. But you better remember that you owe me." Kyuubi's eyes widened as he felt a foreign presence enter his hosts mind. "Are you expecting someone?"
Naruto looked at the demon in confusion. He was about to ask him what he was talking about when everything around him vanished. He was floating in a sea of absolute nothingness, an infinite sea of white.
"What the hell is going on here?" He shouted, hearing his voice echo off of walls that weren't there. He struggled to move around but couldn't do anything other than flail around. After a moment he calmed down enough to notice that a boy in a black cloak had appeared about thirty feet in front of him. The boy was young, younger even than him. And had messy brown hair that was about the same length as Gaara's. His most stunning feature was his eyes, which were completely white except for a ring of black where his iris should have been.
"Hey who the hell are you and what are you doing in my mind!" He shouted, Shaking his fist at the boy.
The boy smiled. "My name is Neota Serano."
Alright chapter four is finally done. I had some issues with my word document and then I got terrible insomnia which made it hard to do anything and then school and then this and that and blah blah blah. Anyway I'm gonna be able to update with more regularity from now on so thanks for sticking with me for those of you still interested. I will also try to continue to up the length. Anyway thanks for the reviews and I hope you enjoy this chapter. Reviews are much appreciated. See ya later!