Beta: Chelleyangel, zylaxidia, and crazykuroi: Thank you so much for the time you've taken to edit this chapter for me.
Summary: The Mangekyo Sharingan, highest level of the Sharingan and coveted by users and non-users alike. Very few have successfully mastered this doujutsu. Pity Kakashi didn't read the owner's manual first. HpxNaruto
Notes: This story is post time-skip and takes place during the period in which Naruto is training and creating his new jutsu. So there will be spoilers. Also, in HP-verse, the story is taking place in the summer between GoF and OotP.
Chapter One: Scattered Leaves and Notes
Somewhere in Scotland, Day One, 5 pm
One drop...then another, more followed until even his eyes couldn't keep up with their descent. Thunder rumbled impatiently as lightning flashed in the distance as the raindrops began to fall from the sky at an even faster rate and pounded rapidly against the earth.
"So…that's how it ends."
A few seconds later, Hatake Kakashi grunted as he rolled himself over forcefully. A sharp pain lanced through his chest. Beads of water slid down his face, mingling with sweat and blood. The dirt beneath him had already begun to turn to mud, and he could feel the grittiness of the soil scraping against the skin of his arms. Mismatched eyes blinked in disorientation then stared blankly into the stormy grey sky. The tomo in one blood-red eye spun wildly as the pupil dilated and retracted with each passing second. A strangled breath made its way through the soaked material of his black mask.
"Honestly, Kakashi-kun. I expected far better of you."
Dark scales steadily wound tighter around his body and Kakashi struggled for breath. His eyes locked onto the speaker and rewarded with a tighter constriction from the large snake wrapped around his body. The sound of creaking bones alerted Kakashi to the fact that his ribs would not last much longer under so much pressure. He narrowed his mismatched eye with contempt at the man in front of him. Kakashi heard a loud explosion from further away and attempted to twist his head around to see what had happened.
The long-time traitor chuckled in amusement. "I'm your opponent, you shouldn't be sticking your nose in business that isn't yours, though, that seems to be quite the habit for you." A mockingly nostalgic smile crossed Orochimaru's face. "After all these years, you still can't be a match for me, Kakashi-kun. Your antics in attempting to stop me had entertained me immensely and have most of all given me proof of how useful the Sharingan could be in battle." Yellow eyes suddenly narrowed. "Now you've become quite the nuisance."
Kakashi's face twisted in silent agony as the pain of splintering ribs tore through his body. He pointedly attempted to ignored it and the snake sannin's barbs, instead focusing his chakra and keeping his gaze locked on Orochimaru's form. The tomo in his Sharingan spun quickly, focusing in and out before shifting into an entirely different pattern.
Slowly, Kakashi curled his fingers into a tight fist as he fought down the wave of nausea that quickly followed after the pain. Automatically, his mind began calculating his injuries. 'Broken ribs, multiple lacerations and bruises, and not to mention chakra exhaustion...internal bleeding know my luck as well.'
A flicker of confusion passed through his eyes as he scanned the area around. The copy-nin swayed momentarily on his feet, barely regaining balance when the ground seemed to sway unevenly beneath him. There was no one else around, no readings of familiar chakra anywhere, friendly or hostile. Just the harsh surface of a stone wall, speckled with moss, standing in front of him, spanning out and out, and up and up. He turned to regarded the rest of the mist-cloaked, only to immediately drop back down with a kunai in hand, suppressing a strangled yelp as his chest strongly protested its abuse.
From above, the sound of footsteps permeated dully through the dense mist. Voices followed suit and soon passed. As soon as their chakra readings faded away from his senses, Kakashi rose up with a little more difficulty than before and pocketed his kunai while pulling down his hitai-ate.
"Naruto? Sakura? Can you hear me?" he paused and glanced at the radio transmitter strapped to his wrist. All he received back in the earpiece was dull static, while the numbers in the transmitter display never stopped rolling; constantly changing from one digit to the next. A muttered curse broke the silence as Kakashi pulled his glove back over the malfunctioning device.
The ground heaved again and Kakashi found himself staring up at the sky as rain pelted against his face. Back to square one.
London, Day One, 5:46 pm
Lee pushed himself back into a sitting position and tenderly rubbed his sore head before shielding his eyes against the bright afternoon sun. "Wh-where is everyone?" A pair of hands wrapped around his mouth and Lee started, only to be pushed back down firmly. Fiercely, he glared upwards, trying to see his adversary, only to be met with Tenten's shadowed form staring down at him in warning. That must mean the person behind him...
"Neji, I think he gets it now, you can let go," sighed the girl dropping down to a low crouch. The hands left Lee's mouth.
"Tenten, what's going on? Where's Gai-sensei? Wha-" Lee's loud interjection was interrupted as the hands returned, this time with Tenten's as well.
"Shut up!" she hissed.
"Lee, we are in unfamiliar territory and there are thousands of people down below, so it would be for the good of the whole team if you were quiet." murmured Neji's voice from behind. Dark eyes widened as Lee realized the situation and nodded.
When the two pairs of hands left his face, Lee joined his teammates in a crouch, a blush suffusing over his features. "Sorry."
A playful punch met his arm from Tenten, and Neji ever so slightly raised an eyebrow before turning his countenance away. Lee considered himself forgiven and flashed a bright smile before looking around. He soon found his smile turning into a puzzled frown. "How did we get here? I thought we were in the middle of Rice Field Country with Team 7." he said while gazing around at the small rooftop they were gathered on.
Both Lee and Tenten remained silent as their jonin teammate made a scan of the area. Minutes later, the veins around Neji's eyes smoothed back down and the Hyuuga shook his head. "Nothing here strikes me as familiar, all I can tell is that we are in some sort of large village filled with civilians. Not another ninja in sight." With that pronouncement, the expression of hope on Lee and Tenten's face fell. "But there is a strange aura coming from an establishment two-hundred meters away from here."
"Strange aura?" echoed Lee uncertainly.
Neji nodded affirmatively in response, "It is some sort of energy, not unlike a large chakra emission. We might find some answers there." The three-man cell consisting of two chuunin and one jonin rose and gathered closer together. "Our mission now is to remain undetected and unseen by the inhabitants of this village. Stay together in one group. And Lee..." the aforementioned teen faced Neji with a look of utter seriousness on his face. "Try not to gain any unwanted attention."
"Yes! I shall be so subtle as to make Gai-sensei proud of my stealth skills! If I fail, then I'll spend a week training my shadowing skills on you, Neji." proclaimed Lee. For a moment, Tenten and Neji could see a fire burning in Lee's eyes and they shook their heads.
"Just stay quiet, Lee." whispered Tenten with a smile. Lee answered simply with a determined grin and salute.
High above on the rooftops of London, an owl screeched madly as a streak of white, pink, then green dashed by and unsettled its temporary roost.
A Remote Village in Scotland, Day One, 6:03 pm
"The Beautiful Green Beast of Konoha prevails again, Kakashi! The record is now 156-154, with the Mighty Gai in the lead." Maito Gai paused to accentuate his victory with an ever so dazzling smile and flashing a V-sign with his fingers towards his ever eternal rival.
His ever so hip rival Hatake Kakashi did nothing but shrug nonchalantly and pulled out that book.
Tears of manly disappointment and horror streamed down Gai's face."No! This can't be happening" An accusing finger was jabbed in Kakashi's direction. "Such a cool and modern response yet again, but do not forget, that I am now ahead with two wins. You will be hard-pressed to find your score close to mine ever again."
At that exclamation, the copy-nin's attitude immediately changed and Gai stared in shock as his rival's one visible eye widened in surprise and...was that fear? The taijutsu master could feel his body tingling in anticipation and excitement.
"I challenge you, Gai."
Those words. He had seldom received an opportunity to hear that long awaited phrase. "At last Kakashi! I-"
He was cut off by a growing crowd surrounding him and his rival. Whispers and murmurs were going off everywhere. Gai's chest puffed up in satisfaction.. So the whole village was here to watch Kakashi's challenge?
For a moment he let himself indulge in listening in on their words, which were definitely in awe of his abilities. In awe of his abilities and unintelligible...in fact, he couldn't understand a word they were saying.
Gai's face fell at the realization. No matter, he would show them that a genius of hard work could indeed wipe the floor with resident genius Hatake Kakashi, then he would be able to focus more intently on their praise. But at that very moment, something cool and damp landed against his forehead. Curiously, he reached up and pulled it off. At once, the voices stopped and Gai blinked. His surroundings wavered and disappeared.
Blearily, he blinked again and made an inquiring noise as to the feeling of his surroundings. This didn't feel like the training grounds of Konoha, rather, it felt like some sort of bed. Some sort of really soft and comfortable bed. Wait, bed!
In a matter of seconds, the light set of blankets was flung to the ground and Gai flipped out of the bed, tucking himself into a neat somersault as he hit the ground and returned to his feet in a ready position. Silence pervaded in the small room and Gai glanced around curiously. There in the corner was the bed in which he had previously been laying. Placed by its were two chairs, each holding one occupant who was currently gaping, unable to grasp what in the world had happened within that second. Curiously, Gai glanced at the thing he had ripped off his forehead and raised an eyebrow at the damp towel clutched in his hands.
The elder one of the occupants, a rather frazzled middle-aged woman, was the first to move. Gai watched her movements, noting that they held none of the grace and ease that a shinobi's would, but his battle-worn guard refused to lower, and when she stood imposingly a few feet away from him and lifted a hand, Gai's muscles immediately tensed but he didn't budge. The woman opened her mouth and a flurry of nonsense came out, a flurry of very annoyed but wary sounding nonsense. As the wave of words grew larger and carried on longer, Gai let himself relax a bit. It was just a civilian woman, albeit, an angry one.
"I apologize for my hasty actions," he said graciously. Inwardly a , they should have been more cautious after all, considering that it was quite obvious that he, Maito Gai was a shinobi of the Hidden Leaves, with the hitai-ate and all. Despite the strange overlook/mistake the civilian couple had made, as always, Gai accompanied his words with a rather handsome smile.
Gai looked back at the pair, awaiting a smile of forgiveness or understanding, but instead, he was met with two looks of absolute confusion and amazement.
The younger person, a man, pointed rather rudely towards Gai's direction and sputtered something in that strange language and stared pointedly at the woman and then at Gai. Ah youth, so determined and so spontaneous. Gai chuckled and made to step forward, but, just at that moment, the boy pulled something out of his pocket and instead of using a finger as he did before, a stick had replaced its purpose and was trained towards him. Words came again, and Gai could hear the warning in the boy's voice.
He glanced at the stick, then at the boy, and then to the woman. The atmosphere in the room was definitely no longer friendly nor as enjoyable as it had been before and both of strangers radiated suspicion and fear.
"Please, don't look so frightened," laughed Gai, trying to lighten the mood. He took another step forward. "I am Maito Gai, the Beautiful Green Beast of the Hidden Leaves, there is nothing to fe-" His actions were again interrupted as something sparked in his peripheral vision. Instinct told his body to dive, and he followed it, rolling to the left. Strike the civilian categorization from the list of possibilities.
The spot where he had been standing moments ago on the wooden floor was smouldering and now the woman had pulled out a stick of her own at him. Even Gai recognized when his efforts had to be cut short and he allowed a small frown to flicker across his face. Curtly, he nodded his head and with some chakra induced speed, grabbed his sandals and his vest which were lying at the foot of the bed and retreated through the window before they could react.
Turned heads and shouts followed his speedy retreat though the village, but a brief blur of green was all the villagers could see before he was gone, leaving them shaking their heads as they returned back to their rooms.
A forest loomed nearby and Gai paused, staring at the foreboding darkness within and then at the bright summer day around him. Something that equated to a shiver of morbid excitement rushed up Gai's spine as he plunged into the forest. He beamed at the feeling of familiarity as he traveled through the Forest of Death look-alike. Now, to go and find his cute little team before an incident similar to his could happen to them. 'Or worse...' a small voice added in some dark corner of his mind. Yellow eyes and then red ones flashed through his memory and Gai took off even faster.
A rather dingy back alley in London, Day One, 6:34 pm
No one paused to look twice in their direction. Maybe to them it was normal for people suddenly appear in alleyways. Although maybe they would have looked twice if they had noticed the group's out of place clothing, or the condition that the teens were in. Or maybe not. Peering at the passers-by, Sakura noted their odd array of clothing; long flowing robes mixed with strange civilian outfits. Hopefully, that meant that their little group wouldn't garner too much unwanted attention. Sakura couldn't decide whether that was a good thing or not.
Behind her, she could hear Sai's smooth movements growing louder as the boy approached and joined Sakura's silent watch.
"How is he?" Sai inquired.
Sakura turned to regard her new teammate and saw nothing in his expressionless face, wait, perhaps there was some concern in his eyes. That was definitely an improvement. She sighed and walked back towards the alley's dead-end where familiar sun-kissed yellow hair somewhat brightened up the shadows. Naruto slumped despondently against the wall, his usually lively blue eyes were closed. He still hadn't come to, and Sakura didn't expect him to any time soon.
"He's been through worse," 'A lot worse.' Sakura lifted her hands onto the blond's chest and closed her eyes as she began preforming a thorough check up on Naruto's body. A turquoise glow bathed the area and Sakura's eyebrows narrowed into a furrow, her concentration becoming more and more focused. She looked up again a few moments later. "I managed to stop most of the internal bleeding. We're lucky that they were minor and that the fight didn't last for too long to begin with Naruto had already used up a lot of chakra fighting the Sound ninjas. Then having to go against..." She trailed off, gaze again focusing soley on Naruto's battered body.
Sai finished the sentance for her. "Sasuke."
A dot of dampness appeared on the brick surface below her as tears found their way out of her tightly shut eyes. Sakura nearly laughed at herself. For once, she couldn't bring herself to say his name. That would mean, or rather, it would bring whole reality tumbling down on her. Sasuke fighting Naruto.
'It's as if he was a stranger to us now.'
But Naruto still believed, he would always believe even after this that Sasuke could and would be rescued. Who was she to give up so easily? Stubbornly, she wiped away tears and smiled at Sai who did nothing but keep his level gaze on her.
"Yeah, Sasuke," she said. Sakura hoped that Sai didn't hear or would chose to ignore the hitch in her voice. Uninterrupted, she went on. "He'll need some time to recuperate from his injuries and to replenish his chakra." There was a slight pause as the kunoichi glanced at the blood dripping off the other's fingertips. Green eyes widened. "I'm such an idiot! How could I forget about your wounds?" She immediately grabbed Sai's arm and with her free hand, dove into her hip pouch and pulled out a roll of bandages as well as a small pot of antiseptic balm.
"I'm fine," Sai responded lightly. Sakura glared at his imitation of a smile and settled down to dress the long cut on his arm.
"Shut up! You're not," she growled. "Naruto's different when it comes to guts and gashes like this, he's got the craziest regenerative ability I've ever seen," 'As bad as that is for his long-term life span.' "But your don't, so stay still if you don't want an infection setting in." She cleaned away the excess blood and dirt surrounding the wound and dabbed at the angry looking area with the balm.
Her teammate just shrugged and smiled again, this time, a little more genuine. She managed a small one back at him.
"Whatever the hag commands," quipped Sai, not looking the least bit worried when Sakura's free hand closed into a tight fist.
"What! You can take care of your own wounds!"
Seconds later, as she turned from the human-shaped crater in one of the walls, Sakura dusted off her hands and prepared to focuse her attention back to Naruto. A hand barely settled on her shoulder and Sakura nodded at the warning from Sai. The sound of footsteps and raised voices had caught the ears and attention of both the shinobi. Sai stared pointedly at her and Sakura fought down an embarrassed blush while cursing her brief lapse of tact. Creating a crater rather loudly near a crowded area was definitely a no-no, but she couldn't worry about that anymore.
Quickly, she glanced at Sai and hoisted the unconscious Naruto onto her back. The trio disappeared from sight, leaving behind them only the memento of a very artistic crater.
Privet Drive, Day One, 7 pm
Sasuke could say that he had reasons for being paranoid. Waking up and finding oneself somewhere obviously different from where he had been before was a reason. Living, training, and doing everything else in between with the legendary snake-nin was certainly another. Maybe he was annoyed as well, annoyed by the fact that his old sensei had somehow developed the Mangekyo Sharingan when he, Uchiha Sasuke, a true Uchiha, hadn't. However, he wouldn't let it show, he couldn't let anything show. Orochimaru would find the situation laughable and never forget it; the snake had a habit of never forgetting. But back to paranoia, Sasuke couldn't help but feel his neck tingling as if he were being watched.
There were no particularly threatening chakra presences anywhere near him, just bare blips on his radar, but a little farther away, he felt...something, not exactly chakra, but it was a large amount of something, some sort of energy.
An impatient sigh left Sasuke's lips as another light flickered on across the street. He sat leisurely, hidden in the thick foliage of a rather large oak and watched silhouettes moving past windows. Amidst a neighborhood of civilians, the Uchiha had nothing to worry about.
He dropped out of the branches without a sound and crossed the empty play area. A particularly strong summer breeze caused the swings to begin moving and Sasuke watched blandly before moving on. It was a quiet neighborhood, unnaturally quiet.
There it was again, that curious unfamiliar force. Black eyes narrowed in annoyance and flashed into red. The rush of power that came with the Sharingan never failed to amaze him but Sasuke's expression remained blank. Blank was good, blank gave one's opponent no emotions to work with, blank gave Orochimaru no excuse to bother him too much, but then again, nothing stopped the man's actions once they were set in his mind.
Sasuke pushed the unnecessary thoughts out of his head and scanned around. A few hundred meters away, there was something that positively screamed genjutsu, as well as something else unfamiliar. It was an odd-looking house, not like any other structure he had seen before, just like all the others on the street, but definitely a house. Strange though, how it was the only one that radiated this energy.
In a flash, he was perched in a branch just overlooking the back of the building. The home was empty and its lights were dimmed. The sound of swishing robes alerted him to an intruder, but Sasuke waited a few moments longer before swinging away from his view to glare cooly at a figure approaching his hiding place from the ground.
Bright green hair made his eyes wince but he didn't move from his place. The stare-off continued for a minute longer and the woman was the first to break it, her breath shuddering as she lowered her eyes to his feet in an attempt to shake off the effects of staring into his Sharingan.
'Who does she think she is?' Sasuke thought with a sneer, as she began to demand something from him, but when the words she uttered made absolutely no sense to him, a flicker of puzzlement crossed his eyes before they returned to a hypnotizing red and black. Effortlessly, dropped to the ground and appeared inches in front of her, Sharingan spinning.
Moments later, Sasuke padded silently away from the unconscious form crumpled on the ground and moved closer to the home. Fascination filled his eyes as he raised a hand trace the air over the walls of the home. To the regular human eyes, there would have been nothing, but the Sharingan picked up something entirely different. Strange symbols covered the entire structure and bathed it in a strange unearthly glow, not unlike warding seals.
Another voice reached his ears and Sasuke reacted immediately, executing a quick flip to his right. Impatiently, he turned to glare at his newest nuisance. Unfortunately, the gods refused to even give him this luxury and he was forced to dodge again as streaks of red flew towards him. 'What! What sort of jutsu is this?'
More voices joined his opponent and Sasuke found himself in the center of one great target practice. His Sharingan flashed as the intricate red flashes were each taken into calculation and his body smoothly avoided them. His hand slipped towards his kunai holster and a shout full of warning pierced the battle. The rate of red streaks increased and other colors began to join them. This was annoying, and potentially dangerous, so when he spotted an opening in the ranks, he dashed towards it. It registered too late in his mind that this could be a trap, and he cursed as something slammed into his back and then his chest. His vision was flooded with red light and then finally darkness.
English Countryside, Day One, 7:46 pm
It was amusing, really, that look on Kakashi's face when Orochimaru activated the counter to the Hatake's last ditch effort to win the battle. The look of pure surprise and fear was just priceless, even if it had lasted for just a split-second before melting back into that determination and resolve that Kabuto was well familiar with. Languidly, the young medic-nin stretched on the grass and glanced towards the founder of Otogakure. Orochimaru was still sitting in the same area he had been for hours, back towards Kabuto and his body haloed by the flaring sunset.
"Interesting choice of jutsu, though it's a pity you couldn't completely counter Kakashi-san's attack." remarked Kabuto casually as he propped himself up on one elbow. "One can only hope that he and the others got placed in situations much worse than us."
Orochimaru half-turned, yellow eyes flashing in anger and annoyance. "Do not patronize me, Kabuto. You seem to invite yourself to that death-wish more and more these days."
Glasses flashed as Kabuto respectfully inclined his head towards the man, if Orochimaru could indeed still be called that anymore, and smiled. "I didn't mean to do so, Orochimaru-sama."
"Of course not," murmured the other.
The grey-haired shinobi smoothly rose and joined Orochimaru's side, a light smile gracing his features. "If I may inquire, what are you thinking of?"
An amused note of laughter left the older man's lips and Kabuto found yellow eyes regarding him with curiosity that mocked his own. "How do you know if I'm thinking of anything at all?"
"You're in a particularly good mood," Kabuto responded.
"Sometimes I think I'm allowing you to know me too well, Kabuto." chuckled Orochimaru. "It's good. Just watch how you use that knowledge."
Respecfully, Kabuto inclined his head, acknowledging the warning Orochimaru elicited. "Yes, Orochimaru-sama."
"Sasuke isn't with us."
"No, I scouted the area out earlier and found no readings of his chakra."
Kabuto raised an eyebrow and pushed up his glasses, waiting for Orochimaru to continue.
"I feel him, his power, his presence. He's in this world." The man could barely keep the relish out of his voice and licked his lips.
"Ah, yes, the curse seal."
"He'll find me again, there is no doubt. No doubt at all," Orochimaru paused and Kabuto waited patiently to let the other continue. It was a few moments before any of them said anything, and when sannin began to speak, a gleam of eager anticipation entered Orochimaru's eyes. "After today's...encounter with Kakashi, the Sharingan have grown even more appealing to me. To see the final level of those eyes used again, it makes me wish that I had apprehended Uchiha Itachi before things grew out of hand."
"Sasuke has just the same potential for developing the Mangekyo Sharingan, Orochimaru-sama. But getting him to activate the catalyst to receive them shall be a problem." Kabuto replied knowingly. "He still hasn't let go of his connection to Naruto."
When Orochimaru made to get up, Kabuto quickly restrained him. "You shouldn't move around too much, that jutsu used up a majority of your chakra. The fact that your present body is rejecting you makes matters even worse."
Kabuto disappeared from Orochimaru's side and reappeared a few feet away. Where he had been crouched seconds before was a large black snake, its jaws snapping at the vacated area before focusing round beady eyes in Kabuto direction.
"I told you Kabuto, do not coddle me." Orochimaru repeated, a steely tone had entered the man's voice.
The sannin's stance relaxed, but Kabuto remained wary, still feeling the annoyance and killing intent that had affected the area seconds ago. No one ever said that being Orochimaru's right hand man was an easy job, and it definitely wasn't.
"Kabuto, you won't have to worry about Sasuke's connections. If I order him to kill the brat, then he will. My dear Sasuke...he has no way of refusing me as long as Itachi is still alive," casually, Orochimaru flicked a lock of black hair over his shoulders and glanced back at Kabuto with a chilling smile. "If he does refuse, three years is almost up and once I take over his body, I'm sure he'll find no trouble in killing the brat then."