Title: Past the Picket Fence
Rating: PG-13, at this point, anyway.
Disclaimer: Uh no. Not actually mine. Just this wonderful plot (of which very little has actually been more than flighty ideas).
Summary: Naruto is attacked on a mission, and through a series of events, finds himself dealing with a world weirder than he ever gave it credit for.
Warnings: Some language, some stupidity (definitely a hint of crack), possible OOC (because sometimes you never know), mentions of Jiraiya (this guy automatically has a warning attached to him), uh mild scenes of violence… so far that's it I think.
A/N: I have been debating for months now on whether or not to post this. It has dreams of becoming an epic. I don't know how often I'll update, and only have a vague idea of where I'm headed with it. I do, at least, have an ending in mind. Just figured I'd let you know.
Chapter 1: The Beginning of the End
Sometimes sleep just isn't important. There are other things that take precedence. Something will come up in your life and keep you awake all night. Then there are the times where sleep just won't come.
Naruto had plenty of nights like those. Nights when he was haunted by thoughts. Thoughts of Konoha, thoughts of the villagers, his friends, his training, a mission… What scared him and what comforted him included. There was one thought he adamantly refused to dwell on, however. It was the thought of a traitorous teammate, and he was so conditioned to ignoring it, that it would immediately put him to sleep. There was satisfaction in knowing he wouldn't lose sleep over the bastard.
Then there were nights when you were so tired that sleep was the only thing on your mind and nothing else mattered.
Sometimes this was caused by drugs.
Naruto was baffled, however, as to why he was thinking about sleep at a time like this.
Seeing as how he had just been abducted and would probably be dead by morning. In which case, he would no longer have a need for sleep.
Although he did suspect he was drugged.
"Say, Kabuto, am I drugged?"
The man in question chuckled lightly. "Yes Naruto-kun. Don't worry though; I don't plan on taking you to Orochimaru-sama."
Well, this was certainly good news, he supposed. Although that didn't really explain why Kabuto had drugged him, tied him up, and was currently transporting him via a cart to some unknown destination. Nor did it explain where the cart came from.
"I'm going to sell you to the Akatsuki."
Well schucks. That would be classified under really bad news, even worse than going into the custody of Orochimaru.
"Why shouldn't I worry then? Last I heard, they were after the kyuubi, and to get to it, I sort of have to die."
"Yes, but it won't be by Orochimaru's hands; he can be rather cruel."
"I think," Naruto paused, gathering his thoughts as he watched the clouds pass by overhead, "I think that having a very large and angry demon sucked out of my body would be kind of painful."
"You're an ass."
There was another chuckle before he drifted off to sleep. It wasn't like he could do much else when he couldn't feel his limbs anyway.
-THREE DAYS PRIOR-
"You are a moral man!" Naruto shouted, pointing at Hatake Kakashi. The jounin was confused, to say the least. After all, he had only opened the door because someone had been knocking on it. He had not expected to find his former student yelling obscenities at him.
Well, sort of obscenities. Outright lies would be more accurate.
"What makes you say that?"
"Because, my dear sweet teacher, it's true," Naruto replied, having calmed down and forcing a sincere look upon his face.
"No it's not."
"Don't sell yourself short, Kakashi-sensei, you are an upstanding citizen, a denizen of ethics."
"I don't have ethics," Kakashi pointed out, still confused and utterly lost, but going with it anyway. It was that quality that made him such a success as a ninja. Or his natural abilities, and maybe being trained by Konoha's most infamous Hokage, or his heritage, or having the only known sharingan implant, or being revered as a genius, or maybe just being better than almost anyone else.
It was one of them, he was sure.
"Nonsense. You are of the highest principles. Your virtue is a testament to your saintliness."
That was going too far.
Kakashi wondered if he should feel affronted.
"This is why I've come to relieve you of your terrible burden of honor and subject you to this!" the blonde said, presenting the unreleased copy of the sequel to the Icha Icha Paradise movie so entitled: Icha Icha Tactics.
Kakashi's eyes widened and he opened his door further. "That won't hit the shelves until next week!"
"Yeah, I sort of know a guy," Naruto explained, kicking his shoes off as he proceeded to the living room with his straight to DVD movie.
Honestly, he was surprised he managed to get through his whole entry speech with a straight face. That was a noteworthy feat.
The two spent the next couple hours eating popcorn and chips while they watched the screen version of Jiraiya's accumulated masterpieces.
It was one of their pastimes they had developed after realizing they had nothing better to do with their time and there were few other people that either of them bothered to hang out with. Or that could really handle hanging out with either of them for extended periods of time.
It wasn't quite a father-son relationship anymore than a student-teacher relationship. It had sort of faded into a big brother-little brother thing -at least that was the general assumption of outsiders. This allowed Kakashi to mercilessly tease and still mentor and Naruto to try and prank or at least something that involved a lot of yelling and still learn.
No one in Konoha actually tried to understand it, and wouldn't touch the subject of their warped relationship with a ten foot pole.
"Did you already talk to Tsunade-baa-chan?"
"Yes, it seems like we won't be able to go fishing."
"That's probably a good thing, it's supposed to storm anyway and last time the boat sunk in the middle of the lake. We almost drowned."
"Yes, but we didn't," Kakashi pointed out. After the initial shock of being more or less plunged into icy water, the two didn't take much longer to use their chakra to get on top of the waves and calling it a day.
It was a lesson in not practicing jutsus while in a small boat.
Or playing with cordless drills.
Especially when the ice wasn't completely melted away from winter, and chunks of it were floating in the water all around them.
They had gained first-hand knowledge of hypothermia and what the receiving end of Sakura's fist felt like. Though, she insisted it was only because she cared and they were idiots -which may have been true on both accounts.
They were both at fault anyway. Though neither could honestly say why there was a cordless drill in the boat. Power tools didn't make much sense on the water.
"So we go tomorrow morning?" Naruto asked, taking a drink of his tea that Kakashi had made post-cinematic-feature.
"Yes. Five o'clock."
It was eight o'clock, but Naruto knew better than to say anything if he wanted his superior to arrive on time. It had been a stroke of luck being assigned under Kakashi again, or more like Tsunade realized there was probably no one better to look after Naruto, and as it turned out, no one better to look after Kakashi than his former student.
Team 7 had been disbanded as had most of the genin teams from Naruto's generation as his peers had grown in different directions and their skills needed elsewhere. Sakura was in the medical squadron after Tsunade's training, and was frequently assigned as the medic for various teams on their missions. Naruto still worked with her often enough. She could be bossy and fussy, and was often great for intimidation use when it came to their enemies.
Oh, and Naruto would guess that she was probably a somewhat decent medic, but he didn't know much about medics –including the fact that Sakura was currently one of Konoha's best. He didn't have all that much use for medics, anyway, what with the fox and all. Sakura often found reasons to best him for disrespecting her and her profession, and most people would agree that Naruto probably had it coming. He usually did.
Sasuke was still off with Orochimaru, being a dumbass.
For whatever reason, none were really sure why, Orochimaru had neglected to take over Sasuke's body just yet and as Konoha spies had reported, decided to postpone it until the boy was eighteen.
The young Uchiha probably had syphilis or something and Orochimaru was waiting until it was cured. That was Naruto's personal theory. Sakura was torn between deciding whether to hit him for 'such a stupid theory' or laugh until the tea she had been drinking squirted out her nose. She compromised and did both. They both, however, agreed to ask Sasuke when they ran across him next.
"We're going to Grass country, to steal someone's stuff."
"More or less," Kakashi confirmed.
"All right then. I guess I'll get home so I can pack and rest up, see you tomorrow, five o'clock!" Naruto called as he headed for the door. He had really perfected his straight-face.
"Tomorrow morning," Kakashi said, by way of wishing him a goodnight.
They had run into some problems.
This, of course, was an understatement.
The problems would inevitably lead to Naruto being kidnapped by Kabuto who planned to sell him to the Akatsuki to suck a giant demon out of his stomach. It would also lead Naruto to wonder briefly why he had never considered a career in accounting. Although such a choice would probably have led to him being in Akatsuki clutches long before this incident. It's tough to defend oneself without proper training. At least, however, he probably wouldn't have been sold to them in that scenario, assuming that was any better.
Sure, it all started out promising. What with walking out the giant gates and strolling down the wide path without a hitch. The sun was shining and birds were singing and all that junk.
He and Kakashi played paper-rock-scissors while their two other teammates walked a few paces ahead of them. The other two were nice enough, but they were too serious. They thought that he and Kakashi shouldn't be reading smut during missions. It wasn't like reading made them unaware of their surroundings.
The one with the longer hair, Jei –at least Naruto thought that's what he said his name was, had wrinkled his nose in irritation when Naruto had shown that morning with his nose in a blue book, authored by someone who must have some ninja training because not only were the action scenes plausible, the formations were something that had been taught at the academy. Although for a novel on par with Jiraiya's own writing genre, there sure was an awful lot of violence and death.
This, according to Jiraiya, was why his books were superior. Naruto made it a point not to read Jiraiya's stuff (at least never in front of him) just to piss the man off.
He also tried very hard to make sure the blue book was somewhere in noticeable sight whenever he knew he'd see Jiraiya. The sennin was carefully kept in the dark about Naruto and Kakashi's movie nights.
When Kakashi showed up a few minutes later, the last one to arrive, Jei's wrinkled nose was suddenly accompanied by a frown. Kakashi's book was typically orange.
The fourth member of their team wasn't as outwardly disapproving as Jei, but the sentiments were there. He seemed to pretty much just think they should be more alert as opposed to reading.
"You're late! We've been waiting for three hours!" Naruto accused, pointing at his former sensei.
The other two had been coached not to say anything, but just looked impatient –at Tsunade's and Naruto's request.
"Ah… the sun didn't want to rise this morning, so I had to travel an hour and a half outside the village to give it a pep talk and some coffee."
"Can't you ever come up with anything believable?" the blonde asked, in all seriousness.
So they made it out of Konoha, out of its boundaries, and eventually to the border of the country. The first day went off without incident.
The second day was when it all went to hell.
It was right around lunchtime.
They were attacked, by missing nin. Now, their attackers could have been after any one of them, since they all had their fair share of enemies. Although the people after Naruto and Kakashi had a tendency to be more vicious and a hell of a lot more angry than most. Not without reason.
The Konoha team was arguing about whether or not it was time to stop and eat, Naruto all for it, Kakashi not caring and the other two insisting they go a little farther, because it was barely ten in the morning.
There were six attackers, and apparently they all went shopping together, because they all wore the same outfit. Dark gray clothes and faces covered. It was like they were trying to start some sort of rogue ninja group that randomly attacked people. Rephrase that, rogue ninja fashion group that randomly attacked people.
Those were Naruto's first thoughts after he saw them. It had been suggested that he keep some of his thoughts to himself. By various people.
The first attack was an explosion. It effectively stopped the argument as they all dashed away, weapons at the ready and keeping all senses open. This was followed by more explosions and Naruto found himself dodging around like a hummingbird. Logically, this usually meant there was more than one person at work, probably several, since it was outright stupidity to start attacking a group of high level shinobi by yourself.
Naruto shifted his grip on his kunai, as he looked for enemy or friend through the smoke and debris. He dashed to the left as the ground rocked to his right. His own team would be unwilling to attack immediately in case they hit each other, but he assumed that their enemies had some sort of plan, so they would make the first move after they were done blowing everything to hell.
He couldn't breathe well and his eyes stung, also, he was beginning to suspect that he was moving in circles. Initially, he was worried that he didn't hear any sounds of fighting, which would lead him to believe his teammates were dead, throats likely slit from behind. However, he was moderately reassured when he heard the sound of a chidori and a choked scream. Kakashi at least, was alive. Then the sound of other fights filtered through the air. Picking the direction of the nearest skirmish, he headed that way.
It was somewhere in all the smoke that he saw the first of his attackers. The man was throwing knives at him.
In response, Naruto threw a rasengan.
This made the man angry, since he lost part of his arm. To his credit, he only screamed after Naruto dug his fingers in the wound. He had developed a mean streak.
"Who are you?" the blonde asked the masked man.
"No one important…" he wheezed. He grinned then, which threw Naruto off, until he realized the man was looking over his shoulder. Throwing the man off, Naruto spun around and felt a needle sink into bicep.
The ninja with the injured arm would later die from blood loss, and his mother would shake her head angrily at the news, saying she never should have let her baby become a ninja.
"Hello, Naruto-kun," the new arriver greeted as two other similarly dressed men appeared. The sudden accumulation of enemies around him, and the fact that he had been called by name informed him that he had been the intended target throughout the whole fiasco.
The needle man leaped backwards and out of the way. Almost immediately, Naruto felt light-headed, which told him he was likely going to pass out, so he figured to hell with it and formed a rasengan in each hand charging as another two showed up, one of them looking like he had a run-in with a chidori. Huh. Three was usually his safety limit for the destructive attack (when he wasn't drugged –as he would later discover he had been), but he wasn't going down without taking some down, and if they were going to dress the same, they should wear something other than a plain gray, so by that reasoning, they obviously had to die while he knocked himself out.
Especially since Naruto was a fashion guru.
Ino had once said that while rolling her eyes. She had moments where she could be sweet. Naruto just wasn't in the habit of seeing them. Part of that was his own fault. A large part.
He took down four, a fourth rasengan nearly stopping him there, vision blurring badly, but the man with the needles managed to dodge. Right before he passed out, he heard Kakashi calling his name. The needle man picked the blonde up and threw him over his shoulders before slipping away.
Apparently, this man had been Kabuto, who Naruto would later declare to be an ass.
Kakashi was fuming, but he hid it well. There was no trace of Naruto, and the pack of corpses they found told him nothing, other than that their hitae-ate headbands came from a few different villages, and that they didn't have independent tastes in clothing. His guess would be a group of mercenaries.
Naruto had released four rasengan total, which told him that Naruto hadn't been expecting to live. That many would drain him far too much for an unknown amount of enemies.
"What would cause someone with virtually unlimited chakra reserves and healing abilities to expect to die? He couldn't have been that severely injured in that amount of time, not with the attacks they were delivering."
The other two shinobi looked at him.
"They must have been successful in an attack that would disable him," Jei answered.
"Yet he was still able to use his rasengan, so it wasn't immediate," Kakashi pointed out.
"Something with a delayed reaction? I don't know of any ninjutsu techniques in particular, but if a medical nin had been with them, then it's much more probable that he had been drugged somehow," Shunosuke answered, him being the medic in their team for the mission.
"Something he inhaled or was injected with, or maybe in jutsu form?" Jei asked.
"It doesn't matter," Kakashi answered, "they obviously were after him and wanted him alive."
A silence settled over the group for a moment.
"Without Naruto, we cannot continue our mission," Kakashi stated. Although Naruto had been key in implementing their plan, it wasn't necessarily true. They could improvise well enough, but were less likely to succeed. However, Kakashi had no qualms about lying and he intended to take on a new mission, regardless of whether or not he had approval.
"But…" Jei started, having shown himself to adhere to protocol as much as any shinobi possibly could in the short time Kakashi had actually known him.
"Return to the village immediately. Inform the Hokage what happened and to send out another team to complete our mission."
"What about you?" Shunosuke asked.
"I'm going after Naruto."
A/N: Multi-part fics always seem to be harder, because people have to want to read the next chapter. I usually write one-shots in moments of creativity and shove them out on the internet because I don't really care so much. I think it's more of a relief to actually get this one out, though, because it's been sitting on my computer for so long. One of the hold-ups actually was that I could not think of a title. This one refers to the 'house with a white picket fence' idea.
So, please review on this one and let me know what you think so far. Thanks.