Ever have an incompetent friend erase a 26-page fanfic and then have your computer crash and loose half your files? It sucks. A lot. Also midterms, Robotics competitions, research papers, holidays, art projects with impossible deadlines, bronchitis, failed attempts at catching a boyfriend who is completely oblivious to your existence, balancing good grades, and a new puppy kind of fill up your schedule a bit, leaving no room for Fanfiction. On top of that writer's block and failed writer's depression leave little room in my heart to squeeze out a chapter, but I persevere. Luckily I had the voting results on a separate flash drive that I had my friends at school vote on, too, or that would have been lost as well.
Hinata's Alias is now Moonlight Wraith
Sasuke weakly stirred and opened his eyes. The dream had been stronger this time he slept than any other time. He groaned at the light and then passed out due to a heavy punch to the head.
Itachi blinked and then thought, 'Maybe that was not so good for his injuries, but it sure made me feel better!'
He looked at the comatose body of his brother. He was bleeding from a large wound on his back due to a fuma shiruken and had many other cuts and lacerations from projectiles. He was bleeding from one of his ears due to a punctured eardrum and was covered in many bruises. He had blood covering most of his clothes and face. In short he looked like shit.
Itachi looked at the dead bodies of the shinobi who were at one point attacking Sasuke and sighed. He sent a quick fireball into the pile and incinerated the flesh quickly. Sasuke groaned once again and Itachi was tempted to hit him once more. What kind of idiot joins a man who willingly steals the bodies of others regardless of gender?
"Awwwwwwww what hit me?" Sasuke moaned. He was lying on the ground with a rolled up cloak as a pillow. He moved his eyes and saw the one person he would least expect. He yelled and tried to attack "Itachi!"
Itachi looked and saw his brother clench in pain and pass out again. He sucked on a sick of pocky and adjusted his armor, "Baka. You are too injured to move."
When Sasuke woke up once again, he muttered, "Must kill…" He tried to move slowly and shuddered in pain.
Itachi sighed again, "You are too hurt to attempt to even walk. If I wanted to kill you I would have already, or at least let those idiots chasing you do it for me."
Sasuke tried to move and passed out again.
Itachi muttered, "This is getting really old."
The third time Sasuke awoke he mumbled, "Why…"
Itachi smirked, "So are you ready to listen and not attempt to attack me?"
Sasuke hissed in pain, "Why are you here?"
Itachi looked up to the leaves of the trees surrounding the area they were resting in. His skintight black shirt, chain mail and armor did not give much insulation but they worked for the slight breeze against his back. "Honestly I was trying to find you. You were ruining my hard work at keeping you curse-seal free. Speaking of which, I bound that one the Snake gave you."
Sasuke resisted the urge to move to feel the seal, "What do you mean?"
Itachi chuckled, "Tell me, why do you think I killed our family?"
Sasuke's eyes widened, it was not a question he thought about. Why did his brother kill everyone and what was that weird symbol he couldn't get out of his mind from the dream? Sasuke said the only thing he was taught about that day, "To test your strength?"
The answer sounded false even to his ears. His dreams flashed through his brain. Why would his brother kill his family for strength? He could have taken on the hokage or something if he wanted to do that! Sasuke mumbled, "but that is not right, is it?"
Itachi gave a chuckle, "That fall you took must have cleared your head little brother. No, it was not for strength."
Sasuke's voice became stronger, "Does it involve a man with three piercings on his nose? A man with orange gold hair?"
Itachi's eyes widened, "You know the leader? You know Pein?" His heartbeat increased. Where did Sasuke meet the man who controlled the Akatsuki?
Sasuke broke his train of thought with a rough barking laugh. "So… by you reaction, that man is really responsible for our families death?"
Itachi looked at his brother and sighed, "No, the man who was responsible, or men for that matter were our council. The Uchiha Clan head, our father decided we had grown too large and decided to create a curse seal. It was experimental and the council wanted to test it on one person, you. I didn't want that to happen. I figured if you found out you would blame yourself and so I made up the strength lie."
Sasuke groaned "No….Nonono…."
"I sold my soul to the one man I knew who could kill our clan and together we killed the Uchihas. I killed father and Pein said he would kill the others. He ended up killing more than that."
"Our family, our aunts, cousins, uncles…"
"Dead by the time I found out. I killed the one who thought of the idea as well, my best friend. I couldn't get away from Pein either. This ring, this shackle, keeps me tethered to him. I must obey his orders or he will kill me."
Sasuke fell silent. His brother, the one who he had constantly blamed, constantly hated, was just as innocent of the crime as he was. His quest for vengeance, his life's purpose was gone…no…not gone, but rather had moved to another person. Sasuke whispered, "How can you be free?"
Itachi's eyes widened in surprise, "Sasuke, I can't-"
"DON'T SAY THAT!" Sasuke shouted in fury, his pain forgotten in a rush of adrenaline, "I hunted you for my entire life, I looked to you as a goal. I SAW YOU AS AN ALL POWERFUL BEING WHO ONLY I COULD DEFEAT! DON'T YOU DARE GIVE UP AND ADMIT THAT SOMEONE ELSE IS STRONGER!"
Itachi looked away, "There is not a safe way to remove the ring. It injects your body with a poison so toxic, it can kill in seconds. It is from a snake in the mountains that is legendary for killing its young who are weak. Poetic isn't it?
Sasuke felt as if he was hit. He then recovered and said, " But we have poisons experts! We have enough technology to make anti-venom! I will not lose my brother again."
He said the last sentence in a whisper. He had had no brother for the longest time, hated and despised the only remaining family member he had, and now that he had been given a second chance, he refused to give it up.
Itachi shorted, "I am a missing nin, an infamous one at that. What kind of hospital would heal me?"
Sasuke replied, "It doesn't matter! Tsunade-"
"Thinks I am out to kill her "little brother." She would never even attempt to heal me, only leave me bleeding and spasming in the hallway." Itachi said grudgingly. "Also, no cure has been found for the venom of this snake. It would take years of research and I do not have that kind of time.
The brothers sat in silence. Sasuke's stomach voiced its opinion on what the next action should be. Itachi chuckled remembering his brother's pleads when they were little to try his candy. He looked at the box of chocolate covered biscuit sticks and said with a grin, "Want a piece?" He handed over a piece of pocky over to Sasuke, who was slowly beginning to be able to move. Sasuke had flashbacks of his brother never sharing his favorite snack with anyone and gratefully accepted the subtle peace offering.
Sasuke sat up with a bit of difficulty. He was wrapped in bloodstained bandages and was very stiff. His cuts had been partially healed, but they were still open and the air stung when the wind hit in the wrong way. "You are not the best medic are you?"
Itachi scowled jokingly and sneered, "I don't often need to heal anyone!" His brother smiled and looked down at his worn body. Itachi sighed again and handed Sasuke a soldier pill and a box of his pocky.
After eating in silence, Sasuke tried to stand up, Itachi helping. He moaned in pain and rested his weight on his good leg. Itachi sighed, "We need to get you to a healer. You can't travel like this, especially while you have those idiots from sound after you. Shadow is closer than Suna so we will head there. Hopefully you aren't in their bingo book yet."
Sasuke moaned in angst, "Why the hell did I even bother going to Orochimaru? He barely gave me anything except the contract for snakes and a sword!"
Itachi smirked, "Don't forget the mutant hickey."
"Yeah! Wait, WHAT?" Sasuke looked at his chuckling brother in annoyance.
"That seal is only temporarily sealed by the way. We will need to find a Sealing master soon to remove it. I believe that will be our next stop after we get you to a medic. However, sealing masters are rare and hard to find due to their nature of being quiet and wise for learning the ancient art. They are mostly hidden from the world and some have even taken vows of silence…"
"HOW DID YOU CAPTURE HALF MY STONES IN FOUR MOVES?" Arashi cried in frustration to his smug looking kin.
Arashi sighed, seeing no further moves that could allow him to win, "I forfeit."
Naruto crowed in triumph and began a victory dance, swishing his long tails behind him, his long ears twitching in time to the song he was humming. His long red and yellow hair was back in a ponytail to keep it out of his face, too.
Arashi grumbled, "It is not a big victory if it's over a one-armed man…"
"But it is if the one-armed man was a famous strategist and the Hokage!"
Hao and Denkou looked at each other, Denkou looking upset, Hao looking extremely happy. Denkou was now two thousand ryou poorer.
Arashi spotted something and smirked, finding an opportunity for revenge, "Naruto? How often do you increase your weights?"
Naruto froze and looked at the man, "Um…I deactivated the seals a while ago…how did you know I wore weights?"
Arashi grinned, "I didn't think you did but now that I know you have them, I think that we should start your physical training. Make your weights…300 pounds or 3X gravity if you have those seals."
Naruto stared, but did as his father asked, falling into a face plant by the extreme gravity. Arashi snickered, "When you can get up you can start doing pushups."
Deep in Iwagakure, a meeting was occurring. Three Mafioso-like men, some of the most powerful and richest in the country were also playing a game of strategy.
A bald man with a large scar down his face from his temple to his jaw was speaking. "How many years has it been since the war? How many years has it been since the Yellow Flash killed hundreds of our men and women and forced us to surrender? Too few I say. And now, because of a trio of demons," he spat the word, "we are staying out of a war that is the one chance to defeat those tree-hugging fools and send them to their knees!"
Another man with light blue hair in a mullet like fashion sneered, "Rumors of the Red Whirlwind have sent our troops into a panic, Xain. We cannot attack his homeland while he could be in our city as we speak! This will take careful planning and time. Also the demons are aware of us and will easily discover our actions before we can even throw a kunai."
The last man, his hair a dark greenish yellow and strange horn-like protruding bones on his skull, spoke in a thoughtful tone, "Interesting idea, Xeel, and I have a plan. We need to sow the seeds of revolution in the troops, starting with the clans we command. It shall take time, but we need to make the armies believe that the old kage is senile and that we should lead the country. Have the ones loyal to us infiltrate the armies and gain control. The ones who fight against us shall have accidents, die in missions too difficult for them or the like. At the point that the troops have been converted, Konoha will no longer see us as a threat and we can attack swiftly without warning."
The two men nodded in agreement, The bald man commented, "Xelnas, your plan seems good but then what do we do with the Tsuchikage and the council?"
"Kill them of course, but blame it on a Konoha assassin. Any doubts the village would have would be erased and they would hunger for the blood of the Leaf."
Loki stopped off at a small village off of Shadow. He needed to talk to Arashi without Naruto or Hinata overhearing. When they reappeared in a burst of flame, Loki looked exhausted. He almost collapsed in the field in front of the town. Hinata gasped and tried to support him despite her own dizziness from the journey.
"Messenger-san, are you alright?" she cried in alarm. She helped him sit down on a rock.
"I am fine Hinata-san. Did you take the traveling okay?"
Hinata nodded, "I am fine, but you shouldn't use that jutsu anymore, it seems to take up a lot of your chakra."
Loki grunted an affirmation, "I am sorry for not taking you to your fiancé fast enough, it is just that that jutsu is only powerful the closer the moon is to full. It is starting to wane and the teleport jutsu becomes weaker."
Hinata sighed, "Its not your fault, messenger-san. How about we stay here for the night and you can rest then we will walk to Shadow from here."
Loki nodded, his plan going well despite a few setbacks, "That would be fine. My name is Hayao by the way."
The two rented a pair of rooms at a hotel (Loki: No Hinata-san you will not pay for your own room! Hinata: But it would be rude of me to let you pay!) and then toured the town.
On a wall they passed were photos of bounties for hunting. Loki spotted something interesting and stopped to look. Hinata questioned, "Hayao-san, is there something wrong? I want to go to that shop over there."
"No, don't worry about it, I just have to check something. Meet me at that tavern over there soon."
Hinata disappeared into a clothing store while Loki checked the posters.
While she was in the shop she realized something that was a bit strange to her. Earlier Shino had mentioned that she had to tell Naruto that she was leaving, but everyone should think that he was dead. Kiba also did not seem as surprised as he should have. She pondered this while she walked through the store and could find no logical explanation to it. (Author oops)
Outside Loki scanned the images plastered on the wall. There was some kid with a straw hat and a red vest smiling, an unusually pale man with red tattoos across his body splattered with blood and holding two wicked looking swords, a guy with blue hair wearing armor with a rapier and looking princely next to a shorter red haired boy also wearing armor, some guy wearing a green hat and tunic with blond hair and elf ears playing a blue flute like instrument with a blue glowing thing, a panda holding a sign next to a gender confused person, a mustachioed man wearing blue overalls and a red hat with an M and shirt, a red haired samurai with an X shaped scar, a man with black hair yellow friendly eyes a bell collar a weird looking cylindrical machine in his hand and a XIII tattoo, a guy with a huge ass sword and spiky blonde hair next to a poster of a silver haired man with one black wing and an equally huge rapier, both having way too many zippers on their patchwork outfits, some guy in an orange training outfit with highly improbable glowing hair, who seemed to be floating, a green oddly formed creature with a long tongue laying a white and green egg, a pink ball with a huge mouth red feet and black beady eyes, a man wearing red tinted sunglasses over his yellow eyes with a broad red hat and a predatorily feral grin with fangs, some smart looking kid with a black book and one of the strangest looking creatures behind him, and interestingly enough, a badly drawn sketch of Naruto labeled as "Red Whirlwind" that looked more like a rat than a fox and had bright red hair instead of red and yellow. (Try to guess these!)
Now Loki couldn't get theme songs out of his head, but he had to laugh at the ridiculous image of Naruto. He went to go find Hinata at the tavern and discovered that it was in an uproar.
Hinata was standing, looking pissed off, and there were the unconscious bodies of four large rough looking men around her. The tavern was a slightly seeding looking bar and most of the patrons looked more amused than angry. That's what they get for trying to pinch the butt of a small girl.
The bartender chuckled, "I am sorry miss, those men were completely out of line. Would you like a free drink, some soda perhaps?"
Hinata sat down and Loki followed and ordered a sake. Hinata commented, "Aren't you too young to drink?"
Loki smirked, "I am older than I look." 'By about a few thousand years' "And besides, if you are old enough to have killed, you are old enough to drink."
Hinata frowned, but let it go. She figured that she would understand when she had to take another's life. She changed the topic, "So, what is Kazama-san like?"
Loki began to smile again, "Well…there are a few unusual family traditions that you must be aware of before the two of you meet."
Hinata looked confused but listened adeptly. Loki continued, "There is a legend of a man who was a prisoner in a princesses castle. The princess was kind but her father was not. She disguised herself as a soldier and gave food and water to the prisoners once a week and when she met the man, she fell in love. Everyday for a year she went down to the dungeons in disguise, not even knowing the man's name. He soon fell in love with the kind female guard who helped heal him when he was hurt and fed him when he starved. The princess freed the man, but he stayed in the cell so that they could be together. One day the princess and the man rounded up the other innocent prisoners and overthrew the evil king. They only learned the other's name when they admitted their love for each other."
Hinata smiled, "So the two were the Kazama ancestors?"
"That is correct. According to tradition, the betrothed must not know each other's first names until they admit their love. Also they can only see each other between sundown and sunrise until then."
Hinata looked shocked then thought of her sister and nodded, "Alright, I will try to remember, but I have one question. Can we give each other a fake name, like an alias? I can't call my future husband "you" for the rest of the time."
Loki's smirk widened, she was making this prank too easy. "He is known as the Red Whirlwind by those who do not know his name. I seem to have heard of a Moonlight Wraith in your country. You may want to use that alias."
Hinata jumped, 'How did he know I was the Moonlight Wraith?' "Do you think I could use that name?"
Loki cocked his head thoughtfully, "I don't know who the real Moonlight Wraith is but I am sure she wouldn't mind you using her name."
Hinata chuckled nervously. "So I am Moonlight Wraith and Kazama-san is the Red Whirlwind. Is there anything else I need to do?"
"You must stay in disguise, we are in a territory that is not our own, therefore we cannot take the risk that you will be attacked, although you may take off the henge when we arrive at a secure location."
Hinata sighed, "So my future husband will not know what I look like or even my name?"
Loki nodded, "I fear that is how it is going to be."
Hinata looked at the bartender and ordered a glass of water after debating weather to buy a stronger drink or not. She did not need to be intoxicated in a strange place, although after beating up those two thugs, she doubted that she would be harassed. "Hayao…do you think he will like me?"
Loki chuckled, "I am sure he will love you for all time."
At night, after Hinata went to sleep, Loki sneaked out of his room. He looked at the moon, which was nearing the half stage, and sighed. He had enough power to warp twice and then Hinata and he would have to walk. He quickly disappeared into a plume of fire, not wanting to waste time.
Arashi was just finishing dinner. The others were going to go visit the twins and Sazanami and he was left alone to eat. He looked up curiously at the fire and asked, "Loki, you were supposed to be here three days ago. What took you? Naruto has been worried sick that Hinata refused his offer."
Loki complained as he picked himself up off the floor. He had once again felt very weak after the warp. He muttered, "Oh sure… he wasn't worried that I had been killed or taken hostage…"
Arashi chuckled. Loki chucked the package of kunai at the man who managed to catch it with one hand. The fox stated, "You have fucking weird friends…"
"So where is Hinata?"
Loki's face grew to a smirk. "Listen to my brilliant plan for a spell," he ignored Arashi's groan, "Now we both know how deeply in love Naruto is with Hinata, right?"
Arashi nodded, his dread increasing.
"Well, your friend Hiashi was having a bit of family problems. I found out that the Hyuuga council was about to put the curse seal on either Hinata or her younger sister Hanabi. Now, we both know that that would cause problems for both Hinata and her family due to the enraged kitsune they would be having attack their house."
Arashi nodded smirking at this image of his son toasting Hiashi's butt. Loki continued, "So Hiashi kind of took your letter as a wedding invitation. He told Hinata that she would be betrothed to Lord Kazama," he made extra emphasis on the name, "and told her to basically pack her bags. Now, seeing as this would be a great way for the two of them to be together on this training trip and the fact that it would improve morale greatly, I decided not to correct Lord Hyuuga. Now, I soon found out that Hinata did not know that Naruto and lord Kazama were the same person, as well as the fact that the ghost Hinata has been masquerading as now has the nickname Moonlight Wraith and is now believed to be a super strong konoichi by some villagers as well as a few ninjas. So I developed a plan. Hinata doesn't know I am a kitsune and Naruto looks completely different from before. Hinata also has changed a bit as well as now is wearing a disguise. What if we tell both of them that they are betrothed but not their names?"
Arashi and Loki had the same evil look on their faces. Arashi finished, "that way they have no clue of the identity of the other…"
"And they both eventually blab their loyalty to another person,"
"Therefore declaring their love for each other,"
"And realizing who the other is!" they finished in unison.
"It's the perfect wedding present!" Arashi cheered.
Loki and Arashi began planning a story for Naruto and plotting the meeting.
Loki disappeared from the room and back to the hotel. The two pranksters had decided to tell Naruto that he was being married to a shinobi from a family in the Fire country that Arashi had known for years. The other family was in dire straits and when Arashi contacted them, they asked for his help. Their daughter was a konoichi who was one of the strongest in the city, but she would be forced into slavery if she did not find a husband soon due to a tradition of the town. The only way to save her was to marry her off to a clan that was stronger than theirs. Her clan was the strongest in the city so they needed to find someone outside the city and Arashi's son was the only one the right age. Tradition states that the married ones must not know each other's name and that the girl must be in disguise. Also they can only speak between sundown and sunrise.
Loki knew that Naruto would throw a fit but he knew that the others would be able to take care of it. When he got back to the hotel, he saw a mushroom cloud on the horizon and smirked.
The next day Hinata and Loki began the trek to Shadow. They stayed in the trees and off of the path to avoid other travelers, but Hinata used her Byakugan to keep a look out. It did not take much time before she spotted the two figures in the distance.
"Hayao-kun? I see two people. Both have black hair and one is wearing what seems to be armor. They are moving slowly, but both are definitely shinobi. They seem to be heading to Shadow as well."
"Shall we move closer?" Loki said as his natural kitsune curiosity kicked in. The two sped up and easily caught up to the pair.
Hinata gasped and stopped dead in her tracks. Loki stopped as well and whispered, "Hinata-sama what is wrong?"
"I know those men…. That is Sasuke Uchiha and his brother…but it can't be… they would never be even civil to each other let alone travel together. Also Sasuke seems to be injured but instead of killing him Itachi…looks like he is helping him?" Hinata's voice was a mixture of shock, awe and disbelief.
Loki tried not to let his face show any emotion but inside he was as shocked as Hinata. Naruto had told him all about his rival and the man's obsession with killing his brother and now the pair were headed to Shadow. Were they aware of Naruto's existence? Both had reasons for hunting the new Kyuubi and Loki could not help but be worried. He tried to keep his nerves from his voice, "You should speak with them. If they are injured, they can't be a threat. ('I hope') Show them your true face though, but I will be armed and protect you if anything goes wrong."
Hinata was already moving to the pair of Uchihas. She ran next to the pair in the tree branches and shouted, "Stop!"
Both Uchihas froze and leaped to the ground to a clearing and turned around to face the woman coming up near them. Itachi's eyes darted to the forest around them and began calculating their odds. He decided that he should not fight with Sasuke in such an unstable condition and began planning for a quick escape. The girl did not look fast enough to keep up with him but the trees were dense and hard to maneuver in. He needed to think this through more and he prayed for a quick distraction to give him time to think.
Sasuke shouted back, clutching his wounds, "State your names and countries or we will attack!" Itachi could have hugged his brother but kept plotting escape routes.
He scanned the forest and spotted another possible enemy and this one looked like a much more experienced shinobi, possibly a chunin. Escape seemed a lot less likely, especially with Sasuke this injured. He swore to make himself an Otokage skin jacket if he ever ran into that snake again.
The brothers shared a glance Itachi's Sharingan twirled in unison with Sasuke's. They jumped down into a clearing below and both pulled out their blades and flowed into the opening stance of their taijutsu. Itachi did not want to use the Mangekyo for fear of chakra exhaustion, but he hoped the thought of facing two of the legendary Uchiha would scare off their pursuers.
Hinata jumped down to the spot the brothers were in and Loki followed. Hinata removed the henge and said in a concerned and panicked voice, slightly afraid of and for Sasuke, "Sasuke-san, its me, Hyuuga Hinata. We were in the academy together if you do not remember me. Please, tell me why you are with your brother!"
Sasuke's eyes widened. The girl in front of him was not the Hinata he remembered, this was not the shy girl he remembered. His thoughts flew to the thought of an imposter then he glared at the concerned girl. "I currently trust him more than I do you! Prove that you are who you say you are and not an imposter! If you are Hinata then who is behind you? He is covered in red fire in my Sharingan."
Itachi nodded, "Mine as well. Remove whatever illusion you have on and drop your weapons."
Hinata grew more nervous and shakily stated, "N-Naruto-kun once died your hair p-pink and dumped a bottle of pink and purple glitter glue on you in Iruka-sensei's class and added feathers in the span of five seconds and you did not notice because you were asleep but you were henged to look like you were paying attention."
Sasuke and Itachi both stared at the girl for a span of at least two minutes until Itachi turned his head away and "coughed" into his arm to mask his chuckling at his brother's expense. Sasuke was turning a few shades of pinkish red and had imbedded his blade into the ground in shock. He managed to choke out, "A-alright, so you really are Hinata, but who is behind you?"
Loki stopped writing the prank down in a small notebook while smirking and then shot up and brought his hands up in a placating manner, "I am merely the messenger for my lord Kazama. Hinata-san is betrothed to my lord and I am merely trying to bring her to him. I am using a henge to cover up a disfiguring scar I received from battle. Hinata-san, if you would please turn around so that I do not frighten you I will drop the henge."
Hinata obeyed, still blushing, and Loki put up a kitsune illusion that masked both his aurora that the Sharingan caught as well as added a ropey red crater of a scar that made his half of his face look severely burnt.
Itachi and Sasuke both noticed the effects of a fire jutsu and winced. They nodded and Sasuke said, "Alright, you may replace the henge. Hinata-san, I do not know why you are being sent off to Shadow, but I need to go there for medical treatment. My brother saved me from the Sound ninjas that were hunting me because I fled Oto. He killed my father to save me and now he is cursed for it. We need to get there as soon as possible and cannot waste more time here. I will explain it more later if we run into each other." He ignored the yellow-red blood that was starting to drip out of the wounds and through his clothing.
The two Uchihas turned and were about to continue but were stopped by a shout from Loki, "Your wound looks infected. I have something that can help that, also we have some extra food if you need it as well."
Itachi looked at his brother and spotted the stream of tainted blood. He put a hand on Sasuke's good shoulder and forced him to stop. The man looked as if he could help. The fox grabbed a large tube of something that resembled ointment and handed it to Sasuke. "Here, put this on the wounds. Hinata-san, do you have the few grilled fish we had?"
Hinata nodded and pulled out a small container and handed it to the two Uchihas. Itachi took it and bowed his head in thanks. Once Sasuke had put the ointment into his pack he tried to leap up into the trees but he grabbed his side in pain and sunk to his knees and once again fell to unconsciousness, the strain on his body too much.
Itachi crouched down next to his brother and laid him down on the floor of the forest. He said, "I do not know either of you two, but I seem to be in need of your service. Can you help me get my brother to the hospital?" You could tell it was killing him to ask for help. He looked at his brother and sighed, he was becoming worse and needed to get to the city.
Loki nodded and immediately began to apply the ointment, made from a plant that only existed in the demon realm, onto the wounds. Itachi and Hinata watched in awe as the yellowness of the infection died down instantly and the swelling of the area stopped.
Loki had to comment on his poor shape, it reminded him of Naruto's injuries. He stated as he rewrapped fresh bandages, "By all rights he should be dead. I am amazed that he has stayed alive for this long. You need to get him to a hospital."
"Thank you, medic-san." Itachi said with respect. He would not have seen the festering of the wounds and it would have easily killed his brother if they had not been found by friendly shinobi.
Loki laughed, thinking of his green furred friend. "No, I am not a medic, those guys are insane. All of our shinobi are required to know basic first aid. We all have kits for this kind of thing. Hinata, would you mind going into the woods to find some food as well as a few cotton plants from the patch I saw earlier? We could use it."
Hinata nodded and disappeared out of earshot from the three.
Itachi thought about Konoha's training regimen and nodded, "The first aid would be a smart thing to do in our village as well. We are going to war soon and we will need medics on the field."
"So it is "we" now."
Itachi looked at the fox in puzzlement.
Loki sighed, "You said we and our when mentioning the village. That gives a person the idea that you still consider yourself a shinobi of Konoha, despite that lovely headband." He pointed to the slash marked metal plate.
Itachi opened his mouth to argue but was cut off. Loki chastised, "Do not try to tell me I am wrong. You just admitted that you were going to fight in a war and the only village I know of that fits that is Konoha, or at worse case Otokagure, but I can see that that is not the case now is it, Uchiha-san."
The Uchiha eldest closed his mouth with a snap, the man was right. He responded, curious, "What do you know about Konoha? You are not from there and neither is your lord."
Loki debated on weather to tell Itachi the truth and decided for it, "Itachi-san, I may not come from Konoha, but my lord does. I also know enough about you to trust you. Tell me, Lord Uchiha, do you remember a boy with blond hair, whisker markings, blue eyes, and a bit of a problem with a demon?"
Itachi stiffened, thinking back to his earlier humiliation with the fox. "I do."
Loki smirked, "Congratulations on trying to capture Lord Kyuubi himself as well as the Yondaime's son. My name is Loki, one tailed fox warrior as well as soon to be guard of Lord Kazama-Uzumaki Naruto no Kyuubi." He broke the henge and reveled the tail and ears.
Itachi grimaced, "I was forced to fight him, I had orders…wait, he is now the Kyuubi himself?"
"Tails, ears and all!" Loki waved off the other man's shock, then responded to the earlier comment, "I understand, it is the ring, right? I had a lovely chat with another Akatsuki member a while ago, Barako I believe? She explained the entire mess to me. I believe that she wishes to get rid of it as soon as possible as well, but she has a bit of a crush on another member, who I might add, I also met."
Itachi kept being surprised with this demon. He founded it strangely…refreshing, "where is she? I have a mission to find her and if I do not, the ring may activate."
"Shadow of course. Your destination and ours. Poor Naruto-kun is fate's bitch lately. You are welcome to come with us but you must stay in disguise. We may be able to get that problem of yours taken care of and heal Sasuke, but you would need to let me put on a more powerful henge on the both of you."
Itachi's eyes widened, "What do you mean get my problem taken care of?"
"Well, we offered this to Barako but she refused. If we cut off your hand and then remove the ring, we can reattach it and you will be free of the affects."
Itachi's face broke into an actual smile. He would be free of the curse! A hand is a small price to pay for freedom. He bowed and said, "I will be eternally grateful Loki-san."
"Good, now hold still, this may tickle a bit." Loki reapplied his henge in case Hinata came back then flashed through demonic hand signs and placed a high level disguising jutsu on the pair. It could not be removed by anyone but the caster and it did not fade or use up chakra once applied. It was very specific however and took a bit of time to create. It also kept all physical injuries and could not cover bloodline traits so the two would still have their Sharingan as well, although it would appear as normal eyes to anyone looking on, as the many cuts on Sasuke would stay.
They both had a dark auburn hair color and their charcoal colored eyes as well as slightly damaged armor that was torn where Sasuke was cut. Sasuke looked older and had long brown hair that was in a braid. Itachi, by contrast, had short brown hair that spiked up in the front but was poker straight in the back. Itachi wore a long sleeved black jacket with a black shinobi vest under it as well as black cargo pants. Sasuke wore a similar outfit but in a dark slate grey. Itachi looked at Loki with disdain and felt his new hairstyle, "Do you realize how long it took me to get my hair to fall that way?"
Loki gave a vulpine snicker and shrugged, "At least you won't be recognized. Also I highly advise you do not reveal your identities to anyone, it would be bad. You are now Lady Hinata's bodyguards and in on no circumstances will you tell her that Naruto is Lord Kazama or tell Naruto that "The moonlight wraith" is Hinata. It is a surprise wedding gift."
Itachi looked the fox with confusion but agreed anyway. Sasuke began to stir next to them and blinked open his eyes. Loki kneeled down next to him and said, "Your brother has decided to stay in our group and come with us to Shadow. We will get you the medical care you need there, as well as free your brother from his servitude. I already placed a disguise on you and Itachi so that you are not found, but do not tell anyone who you really are. Also, Hinata needs to keep her identity a secret for obvious and unobvious reasons. Nod your head if you understand me."
Sasuke nodded, his head still reeling from the faint. "How far away is Shadow?" he moaned.
Loki said with a smile, "Not very far. We head out as soon as Hinata returns."
A few minutes later Hinata had five large brown roots that she insisted were edible as well as a few bits of cotton that Loki quickly used a jutsu on to make more bandages. "They were called putahtous or something by my cousin." She said with confidence after they looked at the brown lumpy shapes.
They each tried one and grimaced at the bland taste, but the two Uchihas were happy for the food instead of just pocky. Sasuke seemed to be recovering well but would still need medical attention. The demonic foxes ointment had never been tried on humans so Loki was using Sasuke as a test subject. So far Sasuke had no ill effects so the fox noted that it was safe.
Hinata asked Itachi and Sasuke, "What can we call you now that you are in disguise?"
Itachi thought back to his ANBU days and immediately answered, "Weasel."
Sasuke shook off the idea of calling himself snake and after some thought he decided on "Crow."
Hinata reapplied her henge as they got closer to the border of Shadow country and her new fiancé and with each step she became more nervous. Sasuke noticed her shaking hands, which were trembling even though they were moving. He commented, remembering the mention of her marriage, "Hinata-san, if you do not know this man why did you agree to marry him?"
Hinata looked down, "I cannot let my sister or myself receive the curse seal. If I stayed at home to-" she stopped herself before she blabbed that Naruto was still alive, "wait for someone I love to come along, my sister would receive a curse seal. I can't let that happen."
Itachi nodded with understanding, "You are sacrificing yourself for your family. I can understand that."
Sasuke looked at his brother and the two seemed to share a conversation without words. Sasuke looked back at Hinata and said, "I guess that you want closure after Naruto's disappearance from Konoha?"
Hinata almost tripped but managed to simultaneously keep in tears as well as maintain balance on the tree branches under her feet, "Yes, I miss him a lot. Was it that obvious that I liked him?"
Sasuke snorted, his voice full of nostalgia for his friend and rival, "Seemed like you and Naruto were the only ones oblivious of that fact. Do you know where the dobe is? Last time I heard he left after trying to find me."
Hinata decided to tell Sasuke the false story, she did not want him hunting Naruto down "He was sent on nine S-Rank missions by the council of elders, Sasuke-san. They wanted him dead and after the first eight, they gave an even harder one. He did not return from it." She let tears fall from her eyes to make the story more believable.
Loki caught Itachi's eye and shook his head out of sight from Sasuke. He mouthed the word "lie" to him and Itachi barely nodded.
Sasuke's eyes widened and he looked down, falling silent. His one friend, the man he considered an equal was dead. He punched a tree with enough force to make a huge crater and make his wounds and knuckles bleed, but he managed to still stay up as well as pull ahead of the others. He needed to be alone with his thoughts.
Itachi watched his brother in curiosity. Naruto and Sasuke were obviously close at one point and the knowledge of his death seemed to hit him harder than most. Smirking at the thought of Sasuke meeting a new Naruto, who apparently became a lord of demons, Itachi asked Loki, "How much farther?"
Loki snorted, "At our rate, two hours, at your brother's… forty five minutes, or at least until he collapses again, which by my estimation should happen soon. Your brother has remarkable stamina for a normal person." The fox restrained himself from saying human.
Itachi shook his head, "He is a bit unusual isn't he? How long do you think he will realize that he would gain the Mangekyo Sharingan if Naruto actually died?"
Hinata looked at him from the corner of her eye suspiciously, "You know that he is not dead?"
Itachi shrugged, "The Akatsuki would have been informed if he had died. Besides I saw him in the past."
Loki answered Itachi's question, "Sasuke doesn't seem to think things out that much. He was Orochimaru's personal whipping boy for how long?"
Itachi nodded, "Good point. When we were kids I told him that the reason that our parents had red eyes was that they ate too many tomatoes and gained super powers. To this day he will eat those things by the bag, even though he knows about the Sharingan."
Loki filed that away for blackmail material, as he laughed harder than he had in a while.
The group continued in silence after that, each occupied by his or her own thoughts. Itachi's mind slowly wandered back to the girl the Akatsuki had captured. He felt a shiver down his back and prayed to Kami that she was still alright.
The girl who had come there in a kimono and without any knowledge of the shinobi world was slowly breaking. Itachi, the one who had given her real food and talked to her, had been gone for a while. The only person who she could talk to now was Deidara and he was not given the job. A man with too many stitches and a facemask had replaced him and now feed her rats. She had managed to go without eating them for a while but she was beginning to starve.
Orohime felt light headed and swooned, the hunger pangs getting to her.
A dark plain opened up in her mind. Dark vile looking trees without leaves, taller than her, and green gaseous fog floated high above. The grass under her feet was an acidic looking green and was slightly squishy like it was rotten. Contrary to the anticipated, the entire area smelled strongly of almonds (guess this one) and not the fermenting plants. A smell, slightly bleach and slightly ammonia, also emanated from the trees.
Orohime looked down and saw that she was wearing a dark green outfit with long sleeves and a skirt that was slit up the sides. It was a bit big and showed her malnourished form. Under the skirt were black bandages and they were also wrapped around her ankles. A pouch was also at her side and it clinked while she walked, like there was glass in it. She approved of the outfit but was confused as to where she was.
She walked down the path in-between the trees until she saw a pulsing green-yellow light. She hesitated then approached the small cage made out of vines and dead trees that the light was coming from. Two bright green-yellow eyes looked back at her curiously.
"Orohime…you have suffered much. Come closer, I won't hurt you."
She hesitantly came closer and gasped at the giant snake in front of her. It had black scales that shone green and teal in the light. At the end of the snake's body, the tail turned bright green-yellow and first branched into two, then four, then eight long thin tails. The snake had a beautiful hood like a cobra with the same color of the tail and had ornate designs on it. The demon was obviously female. Her breathing was a soft hiss and she smelled like soft lavender perfume. She transformed into a woman before her eyes. The now mostly human woman wore a kimono in the same color as her scales.
She walked forward to the bars of the cage. "I know of your troubles. I fear that we do not have much time to get to know each other, but you need to trust me. I cannot rescue you from this prison, your body is too weak to handle a transformation, but I can keep you in a mental stasis until another arrives who can save you. You will not need to eat or drink until the time comes where you are awakened. However, I need you to drink this potion willingly, or we both shall die in here." Her voice was soothing and hypnotically calmed Orohime. The girl looked at the bottle that was being held up to the bars and the almost pleading eyes of the woman, then grabbed the bottle and drank it in a swig.
"What's one more gamble to a dying girl?" She said as she slumped to the ground, asleep in an instant.
Naruto was miserable. He was torn between the decisions of marrying a girl he had never met and staying with the one who had been there for him for most of his life. On one hand, his father had begged him to marry this Moonlight Wraith girl in order to prevent her from becoming a slave. Apparently, her father was a friend of Arashi's and his dying wish was to see his baby girl safe with a caring husband. On the other hand, Hinata was the only one who had looked past the fox, his mask too, and saw the real boy hiding from the world. She was the only one who had cared for him and stuck with him even after the rest of the village thought he was dead. Bitter tears stung the backs of his eyes but he refused to let them escape.
The demons had left to visit Sazanami after the visit to the twins and had left him alone in the hotel that they rented to stay close to Arashi while he was recovering. The man would be free to go in three days and then the group would head off to Suna to talk to Gaara.
Naruto stretched out on the bench outside in the waiting room and closed his eyes, only meaning to get a few winks of sleep. He woke up with a start when the Akatsuki woman from the fight touched his shoulder. Their heads collided and both groaned in pain.
"Ow, and here I was trying to be helpful by waking you up." Barako said, rubbing her forehead in pain. "You will get a horrible back ache sleeping on these plastic benches."
Naruto gave her an untrusting look then sighed, "Sorry about that. I have a lot on my mind and I guess it just wiped me out. Why are you still here anyway?"
The vampiress smirked, flashing her fangs, "Decided to help out a bit around here. In exchange for a bag of blood from the bank, I give a bit of healing advice and some plant tips for the herbs that can heal."
She held out a seed and handed it to Naruto. The boy took it and looked at her strangely, then gasped as the seed began to grow in the palm of his hand. It started as a stem and rose up, sprouting odd teal colored leaves with thorns. A bud sprouted out and grew into a trio of roses. Two were as pale as the moon and intertwined themselves around the single red rose. Barako gave a thoughtful hum, "Never saw a trio of life blooms that entwined before. Love and purity. Interesting. I wonder how it will turn out…"
Naruto gave her a stare that looked like he was hit with a 2x4 to the face. She laughed and said, "Sorry kid, I cant help you with that, those girls don't know what they are in for." She disappeared in a poof of smoke.
Naruto felt a shudder up his spine and sighed, "Why is my life so full of crazy people?"
He sighed and thought for a while. For the girl he did not know, this wedding was a matter of life and death in theory. He moaned again and thought, 'Well, at least I may be able to get an annulment and send her off to Konoha after a while.'
Hinata felt more and more nervous as they approached the village. What if he did not like her? What if she fainted like she used to around Naruto? What if he was a cruel person?
Many questions buzzed around her brain like Shino near a bug zapper.
Sasuke and Itachi had retreated into themselves and were typecasting for the role of stoic bodyguards. Sasuke's injuries had looked better but needed attention fast too. As they passed the borders, the guards respectfully bowed to Loki and let them through.
The fox led them through the night to the hospital and quickly briefed Hinata on the situation. "Okay, so as you know, Lord Kazama and his father, Arashi, as well as us bodyguards are traveling the continent. Recently however, Arashi has had a bit of a tragedy occur. An old enemy had appeared and despite our best efforts, he cut off our master's arm. We will be going to the hospital first to see him and most likely Lord Kazama."
Hinata gasped and looked down at the ground, feeling waves of pity for her father-in-law. Itachi stared at Loki and the question of Naruto's father's identity burned in his now coal black eyes. Sasuke merely grunted a "hn" in sympathy and winced at the idea of losing an arm.
"Oh, and one more thing…The Kazama clan is known for their genjutsu, and they often wear a lot of disguises that make them stand out in a crowd when in friendly territory, or blend into it in an enemy one. I am guessing if you use your Sharingan on them, it would be painful, if not blinding. My illusion was only a fraction of the strength a full-blooded Kazama's would be. What ever you do, do not attempt to look at Arashi."
Itachi and Sasuke glared at the fact that their Sharingan could be defeated and scoffed, both silently making the pledge to look at him. Loki smirked, knowing that Arashi's white gold aurora would indeed be near blinding, and therefore discourage them from trying.
As the group entered the hospital, the nurse led them to a section of the hospital that was closed off for "maintenance purposes" which was really to keep people from panicking at the sight of the demons. As soon as they entered, Loki spotted Naruto hunched over and said formally, "Lord Kazama-san, your betrothed has arrived."
Hinata inhaled fast and examined her future husband. He had gorgeous blond and red hair that spiked up and went down to his back. He wore a red cloak and black shinobi gear, but no headband on his person. She had to gasp at the tails and ears, but then remembered what Hayao had said and internally accepted that. His face had long lines on it that stretched far to the back of his head, and she guessed it was some sort of marking of his rank. His eyes were a blue with red and purple mixed in, a beautiful color that she had to adore, but they had hints of sadness in them as well as pain and guilt, they were a crystal so pure that it held her gaze without letting her go until they returned to the floor. His mouth was a neutral line and showed his unhappiness.
She sighed and thought of Naruto the entire time she looked at the man who was her fiancé, then thought of Hanabi and decided it was for the best. His pain seemed to mirror her own, she had to notice.
She bowed to the boy and said in a hollow voice, "It is a pleasure to meet you Lord Kazama. Thank you for saving me from my fate."
Naruto examined the girl in front of him. She had dark hair and light grey eyes, the color of diamonds and they caught his attention. She wore a very nice outfit and also seemed to be a shinobi. She seemed a lot more outspoken than Hinata, yet still had a bit of shyness. To his understanding, she looked as upset and in pain as he was about the entire marriage arrangement, but he guessed if he was deciding between slavery and matrimony, he would make the same choice. Her voice was a bit harder than Hinata-chan's, as if it had seen the cruelties of the world.
"Nice to meet you too Moonlight-chan." He said in an equally hollow voice.
Hinata thought his voice was a very pleasant baritone and slightly deeper than Naruto-kun's was.
Loki stepped forward and said, "Lord Kazama-san, I fear that one of lady Moonlight-sama's guards, Crow, was seriously injured and is in need of attention.
Naruto's head shot up in surprise, he stood up and asked in alarm, "You were attacked? I will get a doctor immediately."
He looked at the two silent guards for the first time. One was obviously in pain, but was trying to hind it, although his wincing was giving it away. The other, obviously older one was studying his face carefully and Naruto felt as if his soul was being examined. The older one slowly smirked and bowed, "Ohayo Lord Kazama-sama. My brother was attacked by missing-nins while he was fetching water. He defeated them but was injured in the process."
Choosing his words carefully, Naruto asked, "What name shall I call you by, Guard-san."
"I believe Weasel will do."
Crow coughing up blood, and a nurse immediately bringing him into another room interrupted the conversation. Naruto winced sympathetically and looked to his fiancé, who seemed distraught. He immediately tried to console her, hating when any woman was upset, "Excuse me, Moonlight-chan, but would you like to go rest? I am sure your journey was tiring. You can come and stay at the hotel nearby or if you prefer, in the guest suite here to stay with your guard to make sure he is alright."
Hinata thanked him for his kindness, noticing his attempt at making her feel comfortable, "I think I will take the room here if it is alright. Crow-kun needs to be around someone familiar, I think."
Itachi nodded and said, "I can take the room next to hers."
Naruto led the pair to their rooms and as soon as Hinata shut her door for the night, he turned to Itachi. "Your room is next door, Weasel-san"
"Thank you for your kindness, Lord Kazama. Oh, and that tail illusion is very impressive. Almost makes me think that you really are part fox. Messenger-san, I await that promise you made me."
The man smirked and shut the door before Naruto could make any comments. Loki only smirked at his questioning face and turned around before he could ask, disappearing in a flash of fire.
Naruto muttered, "Why won't anyone ever talk to me?" He stalked off to his own room next to Arashi's and flopped down on his bed.
Logic commented in his head, "Shouldn't the names Weasel and Crow ring bells to you?"
"Think back. I know it is hard for you to remember but try to puncture the think layer of your skull." Kasai cynically replied.
"They were in the Prophecy, right?"
"Yup. Give the kid a prize"
"Oh no." Both logic and Kasai said in tandem.
Naruto heard a struggle in his head and heard a shout from Sadness, "I don't deserve to live, let me die!"
"Stop being emo!" Kasai shouted, taking a knife from the persona, "You don't even exist!"
"Let him try, Kasai, it wont do much good anyway. Boss is having a shitty week anyway. It may cheer him up a bit." Logic commented
"Does it need to mutilate itself? Blood is so hard to get out of the grass!"
Naruto tuned the figments out of his head and tried to sleep but soon realized it was futile. He got up and went to his father's room to ask for advice.
He stopped in the middle of the hallway, realized who he was going to get advice from and turned around to go back to his room and watch TV, chastising himself for being so stupid.
Finally done. I thank all of you for sticking by me for my hiatus and hope that you all continue reading. I am not sure if I should get Naruto and Hinata to discover each other's identities soon or wait, so I will leave that up to you guys. Tanks for reading and reviewing!