Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto. I don't even wish I did. I mean, who wants to become a millionare animator who has tons of adoring fans? Certainly not me . . . right?
Author's Note: I LOVE YOU GUYS! I only need THREE more reviews and I'll reach my dream mark! I totally can NOT begin to thank you guys ENOUGH! Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU! Anyway, I'm doing this seven minutes after the my friends left my house. It's my BIRTHDAY today! I had such a TIRING day and can barely stand of my feet. We played manhunt with water guns and pistols . . .
I'm ranting again, aren't I?
Why the hell am I keeping you from reading the LAST CHAPTER of the STORY?! It almost made me cry to end such a successful story! Seriously, you guys made me come this far! Thank you so much! I hope this lived up to your expectations. For the last time (in this story at least), Peace, Mahalo, and Zai Jian!
…:::Come to Decide:::…
PS: Check back into my profile next week. I'll have two new stories (one's a sequel to Never the Same) ready and revving to go!
Previously on Naruto, dattebayo!
Reaching the climax of the story, Sasuke awakens to find that he has one more day left until he is able to drink the antidote. There is a switch to the hospital scene where Kakashi is being in the care of Kurenai, Gai, and Asuma. However, they have no luck with any conversation due to Kakashi's lack of speech and leave. Sasuke tries to kill time in a variety of ways, but finds out that just by sleeping, he can make the day pass easily. Another switch to the hospital and we see Kakashi talking to Tsunade. It is now officially the day that decides everything, but Kakashi has no chance of escaping without Asuma seeing. Having no other choice, he jumps out of the window and runs to his apartment, Asuma at his heels. There, he finds a motionless Sasuke and is finally able to perform the ritual. He explains how he was also poisoned as the ritual goes on. Sasuke finally drinks the antidote and Sasuke falls into a full state of unconsciousness. Kakashi notes that he is going to be just fine.
Asuma stared at Kakashi with wide eyes. "What the heck just happened there? What did you do to him?"
"I saved his life," replied Kakashi. He picked up Sasuke in both of his arms and walked out of the still-opened front door, Asuma at his feet. "Do you know the poison Serpens Venenum?"
"Do I know it?! Whoever doesn't know it has been living under a rock!"
"Yeah, thanks," said Kakashi dryly. Asuma laughed nervously, lighting another cigarette. "Anyway, Sasuke's been poisoned with it and I only found out a couple days ago. It explains the weird things that have been happening over the month."
"Oh, damn it, I knew I recognized that ritual from somewhere! Shikamaru told me something about him acting weird during the mission," chimed in Asuma. "Where are we going, anyway? The hospital?"
When they reached the Hokage's office, she was sitting quietly over a tall stack of papers, scribbling quickly with a calligraphy pen. She looked up when she heard a knock on her door.
"Enter!" she said, returning to her paperwork.
"Tsunade-sama," came Kakashi's tired voice. She immediately looked up with a look of awe on her face, which soon turned into slight anger.
"Did he actually die in bed this time?" she asked, staring at Sasuke's attire.
"Please forgive him for his actions, Tsunade-sama," began Kakashi. Asuma raised his eyebrows. "He needs your medical assistance right now."
"If it's about his anorexia, I already told you that the only thing I can do is give him an IV drip," she said with a sigh as she stood up and walked over. Kakashi placed down Sasuke on one of the large armchairs in front of her desk.
"No, it's about the poison that was injected into him."
"Poison?!" said Tsunade with surprise. "He can't possibly be poisoned! All of the tests I gave him said that he was perfectly fine. Are you saying that I'm a liar, Kakashi?"
'She must be overworked,' thought Kakashi wryly at the mood swings. That was what would get her temper up to the max.
"I did not assume that in anyway. It's a special type of poison."
"Serpens Venenum," interrupted Asuma. Kakashi had given him the air that he was beating around the bush, and that wasn't something good to do when Tsunade was in one of those moods.
Tsunade's eyes opened wide. "Surely not!"
Kakashi and Asuma nodded sadly.
Tsunade moved briskly over to Sasuke and began inspecting him further. "He's too young! He won't be able to stand the poison in his blood stream!"
"It's all over," said Kakashi. "We've saved him from it. Over the past month, he's had that poison inside of him and I gave him the antidote today."
"Why didn't he tell anyone?"
Both Asuma and Tsunade whipped around to stare at him in the eyes. "Orochimaru?!" they exclaimed at the same time.
"He threatened Sasuke that if he was to tell anyone, he would kill that person."
Tsunade picked up the Uchiha carefully and began walking with him to a room inside of the building. "Leave it to Sasuke to live up to the name of an Uchiha," she said quietly. "When I get my hands on that sick bastard, I'm going to make him pay!"
"Son of a –"
"Orochimaru-sama, please –"
"I'm going to –"
Kabuto ducked from yet another item of furniture (this one happened to be a particularly large chair) that was flung in his direction. Orochimaru was on a rampage in his room, throwing whatever he could get his hands on. He was absolutely furious.
"He was supposed to die!" he screamed. "Hatake wasn't supposed to do anything!"
He turned to Kabuto with a deathly glint in his eye. "You were supposed to make sure he wasn't able to move to help!"
"Orochimaru-sama, I tried my best, but they have Tsunade on their side –"
"There are no excuses, Kabuto," Orochimaru said ominously. He advanced upon him.
"But Orochimaru-sama, even you said it was just a game."
"Games are vital in my life."
". . . Perhaps . . . perhaps we can play another one?"
Orochimaru paused for a second, looked at Kabuto, and then laughed maliciously. "What a delightfully excellent idea, Kabuto. Perhaps we can play a game! And my next pawn will be . . .
"You . . ."
Kabuto suddenly looked frightful as a cold, slender hand slithered around his neck. The only thing he thought as he was jerked violently from the wall and onto an operating table was "Oh no, not again."
Word had quickly gotten around about Sasuke. Naruto and Sakura were the first to visit him during his state of unconscious. He had been put in an isolated room without windows. Ten ANBUs were stationed outside of his doorway. Even Kakashi had to be checked before he went inside with Naruto and Sakura.
"I still can't believe it," said Naruto softly as he watched Sasuke breathe. Every breath fogged up his breathing mask and his heart monitor beeped on the beat. "That's why he's been so grumpy lately." He turned to Kakashi, who had his eyes closed in thought. "But Neji couldn't even detect it with his Byakugan!"
It was Sakura who answered him sadly. "Serpens Venenum works that way. It would slowly eat up the victim's chakra, but no one would notice the damage. They'd only see a perfectly fine, blue chakra system."
"Which is why Orochimaru gave it to him. When he wakes up, we'll question him – but not crazily," Kakashi added after seeing Naruto open his mouth.
Naruto closed his mouth and gave a sad smile. "Teme . . ." he mumbled.
It was Sakura who had first noticed Sasuke awaken. She, Naruto, and Kakashi had drifted off into slumber and both she and Naruto had their heads rested on Sasuke's bed. However, it was her that detected even the slightest of Sasuke's movement. She raised her head to determine that it wasn't just her hallucinations.
And it wasn't.
Sasuke was moaning under his breath and his arms were twitching. A few seconds of that and it changed to tossing and turning, which had both Naruto and Sakura alert. One loud moan and Kakashi's eye was open.
"Sasuke-kun!" said Sakura.
Sasuke's eyes shot open. He stared around wildly for a few seconds before feeling someone embrace him. He looked down to see a pile of pink hair.
"S-Sakura," he whispered hoarsely. "Y-you're heavy."
Sakura got up, tears glistening in her eyes, and realized that it was a repeat of their mission to the Wave Country. She apologized and turned to Naruto, who was grinning from ear-to-ear, to Kakashi, who looked indifferent.
"Teme!" said Naruto. If Sasuke had been standing up, he would have slapped him hard on the back, but he was restraining himself to sitting in his seat and looking like an –
"Usuratonkachi," said Sasuke, smirking. He turned to Kakashi. "I owe you my life."
"No you don't," Kakashi said bluntly. "I'm your sensei. It's my job to make sure you don't kill yourself."
Sasuke managed to get up weakly. Although the poison was gone, he still had his lack of any fat to deal with. His smirk widened. "Looks like I've got to eat some ramen," he joked lightly.
"Ramen!" Naruto immediately exclaimed. He pumped one fist into the air. "We'll treat you to ramen three times a day! Of course, Sakura will have to get the money, but that's okay, right Sakura-chan?!"
"Baka!" said Sakura, whacking him a good one across the head. "I don't have that kind of money!"
"Fine, fine . . . Kakashi?" Naruto looked up hopefully.
"Mo' [1, I do have plenty of money from all of the missions Tsunade-sama sent me on, but I'm saving that to buy the new copy of Icha Icha Paradise."
"Speaking of Tsunade-sama, shouldn't we get her over here?" asked Sakura.
"I'm already here."
Sakura turned to the door to see Tsunade standing in her 'Big-Cheese' [2 pose, grinning. "And I see that our Uchiha prodigy is up and about."
"Granny Tsunade!" said Naruto. "You owe me a free ramen ticket!"
"Shut it, squirt!" she snapped. "I'm here for the Uchiha, not you. Scoot! Every one of you!"
"What, no 'Hello, Kakashi, how are you'?"
Tsunade sighed, but smiled wider. "When have I ever asked you to leave?"
"There was the time that –"
"You heard her. Get out," said Kakashi. He motioned for Sakura and Naruto to leave. The reluctantly left, sending their good wishes to Sasuke. Tsunade turned to Sasuke.
"As for you," she said, "I need some answers."
"You haven't given any questions," replied Sasuke smartly.
Tsunade scowled. "Oh how I missed that Uchiha sense of humor," she said sarcastically. She glared at Kakashi, who was laughing under his breath. "Shut it, Hatake!"
"A little grumpy today, are we?" he said.
Sasuke felt his stomach growl and put one hand over it. He looked up hopefully.
"I'll only give you food if you give me answers."
"How many times must I say that you haven't given me any questions to answer?" said Sasuke with a smirk. He was enjoying this.
"Prick," Tsunade muttered beneath her breath.
Kakashi was about to double over in laughter. He turned around, his hand clamped tightly over his mouth, and tried to calm himself down from the hilarious conversation ensuing.
"Keep laughing, Hatake, and I'm going to give you twenty missions without any pay!" she turned back to Sasuke.
"Don't believe her," continued Sasuke. "She's all talk – she said the same thing to me, except I don't see any missions."
Tsunade was boiling mad. Her face was flushed and she did her best to try and change the subject. "Fine," she said through gritted teeth, "you want a question? What happened from the beginning?"
Sasuke sighed, ran a hand through his limp hair, and began his story from start to finish. Tsunade and Kakashi had to sit down at one point after they had gotten tired of standing.
"So it was for a game?" exclaimed Tsunade. "All for one sick and twisted game? He put a thirteen-year-old beneath a poison that an average person his age couldn't have survived, just for a game?!"
Sasuke nodded, wanting to get anything inside of his empty stomach and quick.
"When I get him, I'm going to –"
Kakashi let Tsunade rant for all she was worth and bent down next to Sasuke. "I'm going to personally train you every afternoon for this month," he said. "I'll still train Naruto and Sakura, but you need the training more than they do. We've got to put your muscle back on."
Sasuke lifted up his shirt, remembering the mark, and sighed a long sigh of relief. It had disappeared, leaving his fatless stomach clearly visible. He nodded and tossed the blankets away from him to stand on sturdy legs for once. "It feels great to be back."
Kakashi had kept his word about training Sasuke. Everyday, he would meet up with the Uchiha at Training Ground 3 and the two would go one-on-one with each other. Not long after that, Sasuke had regained most of his original body back. However, his horde of fan-girls came back with it. Some things he could never escape.
His bickering with Naruto had carried on, and on missions it doubled. But both of them still knew that they were, in the weirdest of ways, best friends.
Kakashi had also kept his word about teaching Sasuke the new technique.
"One more time, Sasuke," said Kakashi. He was panting heavily, nursing a burnt arm. He would have to get Tsunade to check it over, because he was sure that it wasn't supposed to feel numb. Sasuke had burnt him with the new jutsu he was being taught. Carelessly, Kakashi hadn't thought that he would master it with such intensity in a short amount of time.
Sasuke nodded and began forming his seals once more. Taking a large gulp of breath, ignoring the stinging of his burns around his mouth, and pushing his chest out, he said, "Katon: Karyū Endan!"
A thin stream of fire emitted from his mouth, enlarging as it roared towards Kakashi. Kakashi dodged it, but he could feel the extreme heat. He had copied the jutsu from the Third Hokage, may he rest in peace, and thought that Sasuke would like the knowledge as well.
"Mo', we've done well for the day," said Kakashi tiredly, scratching the back of his head with his uninjured arm as he looked around at the changed scenery. Trees were either dead or dying from burns Sasuke had created and Kakashi had put out. "You've excelled excellently."
"Sorry about your arm," said Sasuke with a smirk. It resembled more of a grin, but Kakashi didn't say anything. "I wasn't aiming for you."
"Don't worry about it – I'm sure the numb feeling and the stinging pain is completely natural." He smiled at his own joke. "Let's go home now. We'll continue tomorrow."
"Ramen sounds good."
"I'll give you three hundred yen that Naruto will be there," said Sasuke, smirking at the thought.
"I know I'll lose."
That bet suddenly reminded Sasuke of his own, and the entire reason he and Kakashi were walking through burnt scenery. His eyes suddenly widened slightly.
"Kakashi?" said Sasuke, looking up at his sensei.
Kakashi regarded him with a slight nod of the head, used to hearing his first name without the suffix from the young Uchiha.
"The bet . . . you shouldn't be here teaching me the Fire Dragon Flame Missile technique."
"Oh?" said Kakashi, raising his visible eyebrow.
"Yeah, don't you remember? You said that if I was carried back by any of my team members, I'd lose. And although I did stand in front of you, I was carried back by Naruto, so I didn't really win the deal. You did." [3
Kakashi smiled beneath his mask, still looking away from the Uchiha. He put his hands in his pockets and continued his familiar saunter. His single word was a whisper, meant to be heard by both him and Sasuke, but no one else. With a wide smile, he said,
Come to decide that the things that I tried
Were in my life just to get high on
When I sit alone, come get a little known
But I need more than myself this time
Step from the road, to the sea, to the sky
And I do believe that we rely on
When I lay it on
Come get to play it on
All my life to sacrifice
- "Snow" – Red Hot Chili Peppers
[1 It's Kakashi's trademark: Well . . .
[2 The 'Big Cheese' pose is something I picked up from playing Wario Games on the Nintendo Wii. It's where your hands are on your hips in fists and your chest is puffed out like you're all high and mighty
[3 Whoever had suspicious about the deal in the first place, touché! This explains it all. Kakashi's an awesome sensei, ain't he?
[Random: Okay, this DOESN'T have a number next to it, but remember when Kabuto was slammed on an operating table by Orochimaru and all he could think of was "Oh no"? I'll have to admit that I got the idea from Douglas Adams' "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy". The entire segment goes like this (sort of - my legs hurt too much to get the book!):
(A whale and a pot of petunias appeared in the air and are falling rapidly towards the ground!)
"And the only thing the pot of petunias thought before it hit the ground was Oh no, not again. Scientists think that if we knew why the pot of petunias had said this, we would have a better understanding of Nature than we do today."