Disclaimer: don't own it!
Okay, act cool! You can do this, you can do this…!
I stared guardedly at the Oto-nin standing across from us, eyeing me with clear distaste as they glanced at Sasuke for confirmation.
"He's with me," The Uchiha stated listlessly, "That's all you need to know."
Inwardly I blanched at how direct Sasuke was being – I mean, it's not like he was their superior, right?
"But Sasuke-sama, Orochimaru-sama's intentions were for only you to be escorted to Sound." The Oto-nin on the right said sternly, the other two beside him nodding in agreement.
It had taken Sasuke and me two hours to arrive at the destination point at the border of Fire to meet the sound ninja that were supposed to bring Sasuke – or us now – to Oto. And…we were having problems convincing them to do just that with me tagging along. Well, hate to ruin the freaking Sasuke only party, it's not like I wanted to be invited in the first place!
I took a step forward, "I have my own reasons for wanting to go to Sound with Sasuke and I'll explain them when we get there." I looked away from them, "Don't worry, I don't intend to fight any of you guys or try to convince Sasuke to change his mind – it's none of my business what he does with his life. I'm coming for my own ambitions." I said lowly, in a steady tone.
The sound ninja regarded me warily as the one in the middle just scoffed, "And what makes you think Orochimaru-sama won't kill you on the spot for your impertinence?"
I shrugged indifferently, "I guess we'll see what happens."
Oh, come on already…just go along with it! I mentally roared.
At that point Sasuke started walking to the sound-nin a few feet away who tensed instinctively until he had passed them by a few paces. "We're wasting time," He said darkly as he looked over his shoulder, "We leave. Now." He ordered, black eyes bleeding to a warning red.
I arched a brow at this but followed with a nod over to the Oto-nin who, with a look over to each other, turned around and lead the way to Sound without another compliant.
Now all I have to worry about is that Orochimaru bastard buying my excuse.
Great. Just great.
"Now, Sasuke-kun…I never said anything about bringing a guest."
I stared coolly at the snake sannin who gazed at me from his desk with a smirk. We had only arrived in Oto moments ago and upon arriving were guided by Kabuto to his office. The big four-walled room was covered in paintings that looked very old and a rather large desk that he sat behind with stacks of neatly organized papers.
Naruto bedside me took a step forward and narrowed his blue eyes on Orochimaru. "I'm here for a reason that has nothing to do with Sasuke's training…I'm here for my own."
I internally nodded at Naruto's words, the speech we had prepared along our journey before we had met the sound-nin falling from his mouth just like we had practiced.
Orochimaru raised a brow at Naruto's words, "I don't remember giving that option, Naruto-kun. Honestly, I have no need of you here."
"But I do," I started stoically, "The organization Akatsuki are looking for Naruto because he is the Kyubbi container and will continue to do so – Itachi with his partner will eventually come for Naruto again. And when he does…" I trailed off as I inclined my head intently, "I'll be waiting."
"It's in my best interest to keep him close by," I finished, looking away.
Orochimaru said nothing at this, his eyes trained on me before they turned to Naruto again as he began his speech. "I want to be trained here. Also, it'll not only benefit me, it'll benefit you."
"How so?" The snake sannin inquired as Kabuto coughed in the background.
I glanced behind me to see said medic pushing up his glasses, "Orochimaru-sama, are you seriously going to consider what Naruto-kun says? It's obvious he's only here to prevent Sasuke-kun from completing your plans."
I glared at Kabuto over my shoulder whom quickly noticed and visibly tensed under my stare.
I looked back over to Orochimaru at the sound of his chuckling, "Kabuto-kun raises a fine point." His eyes gleamed at Naruto and me, "You do still intend on keeping our deal, ne Sasuke-kun? And I won't be happy if you, Naruto-kun, are truly here to prevent that."
I snorted indifferently, "I don't care as long as I get power. That's all I care about."
My blond teammate nodded beside me, "Sasuke-teme can do what he wants, like I said before. I realized…" His blue eyes took on a sharp nature, "That power is what I also require – and for the same general reason…the Akatsuki."
"Oh?" Orochimaru said, apparently surprised yet the suspicion laced in his tone wasn't subtle. "And why is that?"
Naruto fisted his hands determinably as he stared at Orochimaru dead in the eye, "I've recently found out that my father is the leader of the Akatsuki."
The snake sannin eyes went wide as he stared at Naruto for a moment, leaning forward in his chair. "You don't say…and you've found this out how?"
"Let's just say it was a really good source," Naruto said intently, "and I happen to know that you aren't fond of the Akatsuki…who is?" The Uzumaki noted snidely, "If you train me then you'll be helping my goal – to make the entire Akatsuki dead. Especially…the leader."
At Orochimaru's now interested silence, Naruto continued after a beat. "I don't need any other help beyond that of my training, nor do I want it. I know that you have knowledge of countless techniques, ranging from forbidden to otherwise and my sensei Jiraiya is a fool. I won't learn anything if I go off with him…so that's why I'm here."
I nodded mentally; it had been Naruto's idea to throw in the Jiraiya jibe. He had said that Naruto's perverted sensei and Orochimaru were old teammates…and enemies.
Orochimaru's chuckling deepened, "You are right about one thing, Naruto-kun. That is for sure…"
"Train me," Naruto implored, gripping the edge of the sound Hokage's desk. "I'll even do missions for you if you want and you know I'm a good force to keep around. I won't make you regret it if you do and…" the whiskered boy's eyes darkened, "I'll have the chance to kill the Akatsuki leader. All I want is to kill the man who sealed the Nine Tails in me and left me to rot in Konoha."
Orochimaru folded his hands and continued to peer at us with a calculating expression on his face.
"Revenge, then?" The Oto-kage said objectively, "Perhaps you two are more alike then I previously thought…" His twisted smirk grew a fraction, "I must confess that I like the idea you have Naruto-kun…the whole situation you have is…very pleasing to me. You are right to think you can gain more power here than you ever could in Leaf, and were wise to follow Sasuke-kun's example."
Orochimaru leaned on his hand amusedly, "The thought that you might be the Akatsuki leader's son -,"
"You mean the Yondaime?" Naruto cut in without missing a beat.
If possible, the smirk on Orochimaru's face grew immeasurably now as Kabuto stuttered in the background. "Orochimaru-sama! I've never had reports of such information that Naruto-kun was…"
Orochimaru spared him a glance, "It was known to me. A law devised by the Yondaime himself ensured no one would have knowledge of the fact that Naruto-kun was his son. Interesting, hm?"
Kabuto closed his mouth again Orochimaru continued, "I think I like your plan, Naruto-kun. I'll allow you to remain in Sound and even help you in your ambitions under a few conditions."
Naruto nodded a calm expression on his whiskered face.
Orochimaru's face twisted in delight as he went on, "While you are here, you are under my command. You must swear fealty to me here and now."
I inwardly cursed at Orochimaru's demand – Naruto was the type who'd die if he gave his word and the snake bastard asking for it just made things harder. This would no doubt either grate on Naruto's last nerves or make him notably depressed. Come on, Naruto. This was your choice so don't slip.
"I swear." Naruto replied as I eyed him detachedly, the hands in the pockets fisting as I noted the dull glaze his eyes had taken. I could tell that Naruto didn't like saying this even if he wasn't showing it externally. As long as Orochimaru buys it…I thought, fixing my gaze on the sannin again.
"Also…you will be expected to carry out a number of any missions I require because from this point on you will be a Sound ninja, Naruto-kun. Just like Sasuke-kun. And when in three years time I take over Sasuke-kun's body, you will be free to do as you wish and kill the Akatsuki leader…your father. Of course, to ensure your loyalty I will have eyes on you, Naruto-kun, at all time for the first few weeks. I'm sure you won't mind."
Naruto just shrugged carelessly.
As we Naruto and I stood side by side, Orochimaru's eyes gleamed at us for a second time as I could see he was scheming a great many things in that twisted mind of his.
"Train me now, then." I announced, "I didn't come here to listen to you talk."
"Sasuke-kun!" Kabuto said from behind us in a scolding manner, "You mustn't talk to Orochimaru-sama like that."
Red eyes made Kabuto take an uneasy step back as Orochimaru shook his head, "No matter, Kabuto-kun. Sasuke-kun is right, after all." He nodded to the door, "Shall we, Sasuke-kun?"
I just scoffed, walking to the door and opening it impatiently as Naruto shot me a wary glance and mouthed 'watch it!' I rolled my eyes and waited with narrowed eyes as Orochimaru stilled before passing Naruto.
"I will set up a trainer for you tomorrow, Naruto-kun. Meanwhile, Kabuto-kun, can you make sure Naruto gets settled in and find him and Sasuke-kun two rooms?" The snake sannin asked to his subordinate who nodded.
Orochimaru finally turned back to me as we left the office for the training areas.
I rolled my right shoulder, trying to ease its stiffness. He didn't even teach me a jutsu. After two hours of training with just taijutsu Orochimaru had sent me away to rest in my quarters, giving me the directions to them beforehand.
I half knew why the lesson was cut short – I was tired, visibly so. I gritted my teeth in aggravation at my own body's betrayal as I stalked to my quarters. This base was smaller than I had initially expected. While I had previously thought that I would be escorted into a fort-like village, Orochimaru had informed me that this was not so. That actually we would be constantly changing bases every few days as a precaution.
I wasn't surprised that Orochimaru was this paranoid. Or that a lot of people were after the Sound Kage.
After walking up two sets of stairs that did nothing to still the ache in my limbs I walked down a hallway and paused at the door that was wide open. I looked in, knowing that I had followed Orochimaru's directions right when I saw Naruto sitting on a futon inside the medium sized four walled room.
"Teme!" Naruto said in relief, standing and walking over to me. I looked sideways and saw another futon a few feet away from Naruto's and with a sigh, closed the door behind me.
"How was the training with the snake bastard?" Naruto asked seriously.
"Fine." I answered stiffly as I noticed that Naruto had showered and was dressed in fresh black clothes that had the sound symbol design on it.
Naruto saw what I was staring at and grimaced, "I know, but this is all they freaking have and my old clothes was all torn and smelly. I figure tomorrow we can get some new clothes that are more…appealing."
I shook my head wordlessly, "No, we can't be opposed to wearing the Oto symbol." I walked over to my futon and sat down.
Naruto began pacing in front of me and not for the first time the hyperactive ninja's energy annoyed me. And I can look forward to three years of just Naruto and me…
I sighed again, lying down on the futon and folding my arms behind my head. "Naruto," I said, getting his attention, "Where did you take a shower?"
Naruto's pacing didn't let up in the least as he replied, "Down the hall there's a bathroom that Kabuto jerk said we could use. He also said to not get too settled here because we'll be leaving soon."
I nodded and wondered if I should take a shower now or in the morning.
I glanced again over to Naruto who now appeared like he was determined to walk a hole into the floor.
"What, dobe?" I responded, a bit of my irritation evident in my reply.
His blue eyes darted over to mine in a nervous way, "Who do you think Orochimaru will get to be my sensei?"
That's what has him all worked up? I rolled my eyes, "Who knows? Probably an Oto-nin jounin or something like that."
Naruto nodded, maybe in agreement or probably just digesting my words as his pacing continued. After a few more seconds of it relentlessly continuing I finally snapped, "Naruto."
"Huh?" My blond teammate questioned, looking over at me again.
"Quit it." I said tersely, watching as Naruto frowned and glared slightly before with a moody outlook on his face he sat back down on his own futon.
I closed my eyes and settled into the futon uneasily, it was strange to be in this room knowing that I was in Oto – knowing that I was finally fulfilling the path that would lead to my older brother's demise. Knowing that if I wasn't careful what would become of me and of Naruto.
The future of what could be hung over both of our heads like a dark cloud, always lurking, always waiting while the voices and actions of our future selves whispered constantly in the back of our minds.
But that wasn't the only thing on my mind.
What is she thinking?
Who knows? No, I could guess. Sakura must be thinking many things about me and Naruto right now…what will she do when she realizes that both of her teammates left her behind in Leaf? What will she say? Most importantly…what will she think of me?
I fisted my hands and rolled over on my side, facing away from Naruto. Don't think of her right now – it'll only distract you. She'll only distract you. That's one of the reasons I left Konoha…too many distractions…too much Sakura.
But how could I not focus my mind on her when I remember a twenty-seven year old Sakura that never really smiled, and how she was hurt by my older self, how she left and fought our older selves for a second time in the hopes that we would get away.
Her parting words.
"That time… it was March 18th, exactly two months after I last saw you at the Sound base. That night… is the reason for Satoshi. Make sure it still is."
I exhaled shakily, knowing that in three years on March 18th I would have to… I clenched my fists tighter, moving them to my sides.
My Sakura – the twelve year old present one – her parting words to me also never left never receded.
"I…I love you with all my heart! "
I had told Naruto that I had first started having feelings for Sakura in Wave. And that was true, seeing her cry over my supposedly dead body was so…and her broken cries of my name – no one had ever expressed such emotion over me. Probably not even when my clan was alive. And the relief that had been evident in her eyes when I said her arm was heavy was distilling.
Even so, I never could have imagined that she felt that way.
And I knew she wasn't lying. I may not be able to understand Sakura all the time but I could read her like an open book.
I always could. Her expressive eyes and features, even when she tried to hide them always seemed so clear to me.
"…If you were to stay with me…there would be no regrets…because, every day we'd do something fun, we'd be happy I swear!! I would do anything for you!! So…please, just stay with me…"
No regrets, she had said. She doesn't understand – I don't want her to, either. Sakura shouldn't know regrets or…pain. Not that kind, never that kind. She can't, in the future she knew it but I'd try with everything I have to make sure she wouldn't this time. She was the only thing I do regret leaving but it had to be done. Before I went to the future, I had seen Sakura as…a possibility. No, as a want. Selfish and jealous, angry and even resentful at most times. At other times, she was mostly a distraction.
I never understood her words. At first I thought her actions of affection and devotion was nothing more than a mere crush, it wasn't supposed to mean anything…even though in the middle of those disdainful thoughts I was making sure I was always the one saving her in missions and that I was the one who ordered her around on said missions, watching to make sure she was okay, even though I told myself the reason was because she was a burden and couldn't protect herself.
So what made it my sole duty?
I was her teammate, my mind had answered, dismissing any further thoughts on beaming green eyes and soft pink hair.
Then, the thoughts got muddled somewhere around the chuunin exams and the fight with Gaara. Sakura hadn't been a burden in the Chuunin forest; she had been an anchor with her soft cries and pleading whispers when my mind and body were a raging storm of bloodlust and black anger.
She had also been an igniter with her swelled eye and bruised pale skin.
Both the catalyst and the antidote for the curse seal's effects.
The muddled thoughts began to merge with feelings beyond those of a comrade, into a dangerous territory that made me wary, made me all to aware of the new shift in my stomach region every time she asked me out on a date, made me all too aware of every time Naruto saved her and I didn't – along with all the dark jealousy and utter hate that went with it.
Just a teammate, I had said to myself. Just a burden. My burden. My burden. When had it started sounding so possessive?
Her teary eyes, her words…they were the most unneeded distraction I had in Konoha.
"…I'll even help you with your revenge…I don't know what I could do…but, I'll try my best to do something…So please…stay with me…or take me with you if you can't stay here…"
As if Sakura really could help me with my revenge. No, in my eyes it was best if she remained locked away and safe in Konoha where things like Sound or Akatsuki couldn't reach her. She had wanted me to take her with me…what will she think, what will she think, what will she think…Staying in Leaf had been even less of an option than actually taking Sakura with me – not that I would ever let that happen, either.
Even after knowing what will happen in the future…my dead clan still rested heavily on my subconscious. At times, it feels like I was the one who murdered them; the weight was so heavy, so present. I was an Avenger; I have been one from day one, ever since I opened the door to dead corpses and spinning red eyes. An avenger takes revenge. And this vengeance was to be taken on my brother.
It was another duty.
One for the future, one for the past.
I said that my dreams were of the past. And they were.
My dreams are nightmares of the past…my real dreams are with…
When I went to the future, my possessive hopes turned into reality. A reality that could be – that would be if I had any say in it.
I would change the future – we would.
It was the only way.
I opened my eyes, breaking away from my thoughts on the girl I had left on a bench. I turned around to face Naruto and saw a rare intensity in his blue gaze as he looked at me in the eye.
"Hn," I sounded, letting him know I was listening.
His forehead creased with obvious concern, "Are we sure we made the right choice?"
I noted the use of we and frowned indifferently, "It was my choice to go to Oto, and your choice to follow me."
The Kyubbi container glared at that, "I know! It's just…" He trailed off at that, shifting on his futon. "What if it wasn't the right one?"
"We'll find out sooner or later," I replied stoically, "and no matter what the main purpose was to make things different from what happened in that past. And…we are."
Naruto ran a hand through his blond spikes, "What about Sakura-chan?"
I tensed and sent Naruto a warning glare, "Shut up about that, it's my problem to deal with."
Naruto's face went red with rage, "WHAT?! She's my teammate, too! And like a sister to me! Sasuke, Sakura-chan probably feels horrible right now, she probably thinks we abandoned her and left her all alone! Forget about what Kakashi-sensei and Ero-sannin and Iruka-sensei must think, too…"
I sat up at his words, "Naruto, for the last time shut up. Now isn't the best time or place to be talking about such things."
The blond ninja's eyes went wide at that as his eyes darted around the room and then centered on me again, glaring as he crawled over next to my futon and whispered harshly, "We still have to talk about it!"
I glared at him in return and dug into my pocket, fishing out the amnesty scroll and pulling it out for Naruto to see. "Look, we still have this scroll Tsunade gave us from the future. It'll grant us a free entry back into Konoha after we finish our goals…no matter what crimes we may have to commit to get there. Our treason will be explained."
Naruto bit his lip thoughtfully; staring at the sealed scroll like it was a lifeline.
It probably was.
"As for Sakura," I continued in a now steady, stern manner, "we know she becomes Tsunade's apprentice and even surpasses her. She's…strong." I admitted lowly, having the vague sense that it wasn't natural for her to not need us…or me to protect her. "We'll just have to explain everything to her when we come back."
Naruto slumped, "What if she doesn't forgive us…? I wouldn't…and I promised her I'd bring you back – now she's going to think I lied…my word doesn't seem like much these days…" He said in a stiff, edgy tone. "You know how she thinks best, Sasuke – will she be really hurt by this?" His blue eyes were full of guilt and hurt over our pink haired teammate.
"Listen, Naruto even if she does she'll get over it in time. I'll make her understand. Think about it, we're doing all this so she – they – everyone won't be hurt, right?" I snapped angrily, "We can't second-guess ourselves."
Naruto looked away and crossed his arms, "I'm not second-guessing myself."
I scoffed and he threw a glare at me, but it faded quickly as he looked down at him lap. "There's another thing…"
Naruto rubbed the back of his neck in a awkward manner, "What about Hinata-chan and me…? When we were running away from our future selves to get back to our time, Hinata-chan told me before she left to…" He swallowed audibly before forcibly continuing, "She told me that Kenji was conceived on May 20th. But that was when Hinata-chan and I were engaged and dating and, well…together."
His disturbed gaze locked on mine, "Now that I'm in Oto with you, Hinata-chan and I won't be engaged, so Kenji's existence…"
I nodded, getting the point more clearly than I wanted to. "We'll just have to make plans about…ensuring our future sons existence. We'll find a way; we'll just have to make it work out so we see them on those days…"
Naruto now looked very uncomfortable, "The thought of…Er…"
"What?" I snapped again, out of embarrassment this time.
"Well," Naruto cut in, "won't we be kinda manipulating them…? They'll be angry if they find out – I mean, we're playing with Sakura-chan and Hinata-chan's lives! And…we're both traitors this time. Hinata-chan might not want anything to do with me…" He looked tormented at that thought.
"Their the ones that told us the dates of when they were conceived. Both future Sakura and Hinata knew what we were going to do, or at least wanted us to still make sure Satoshi and Kenji existed. It was their choice, too. And…" I looked away, "Sakura and Hinata will never find out about our trip into the future – or that we manipulated their… pregnancies." I finished, turning a bit red at the last comment.
I had schooled my features back into the usual emotionless expression when Naruto spoke up, "…I hope so."
I peered over to him, a bit surprised but not showing it. "You're not arguing? I half expected you to demand that Sakura and the Hyuga know about what happened in the future."
"No," Naruto said in a resolute tone, "I never, ever want Hinata-chan to find out that I could turn into…that monster. Or what I did to her in the future... even if it means I have to keep the truth away from her. She'll be happier that way, right? Also, I know you don't want Sakura-chan to know what happened and if I said my story it'd be saying yours, too."
I said nothing at this, a part of me grateful that Naruto picked up on that.
"Anyway…" I said in a monotone, "Let's go to sleep now. We'll need energy in the morning for our training."
Naruto nodded at that, getting up to turn off the lights before he crawled back into his futon.
"Night," Naruto said.
"Hn." I said back, just like all the other times Naruto and me had slept in the same room on a mission together. Except this wasn't a mission.
I closed my eyes at the silence that should have been filled with the ever constant sound of Kakashi's snoring with an Icha Icha Paradise book on his face as he slept near the wall, next to the door. Most importantly Sakura, who would always be sleeping in the middle of Naruto and me, would say "Good Night, Naruto! Sweet dreams, Sasuke-kun!"
"It's weird…" Naruto said out into the darkness of our room.
"Aa." I silently agreed, knowing we were thinking about the same thing.
We would get used to the empty space in-between us and at the door.
I opened my eyes groggily, the yawn making its way from my mouth turning into a choked yell when I felt a foot sharply kick into my ribs.
"Ow!" I said, sitting upright immediately and glaring heatedly at Sasuke, dressed in all black sound clothing and staring down at me indifferently.
"What the hell was that for?" I asked, peeved as I stood and absently stretched like I did every morning.
"Kabuto's waiting outside to take us to our first training lesson, you'll meet your new teacher." Sasuke deadpanned.
My eyes went wide as I scrambled around for the extra clothing and pulled them on, "How could I have not heard Kabuto knocking?" I exclaimed as Sasuke just crossed his arms and waited impatiently.
"You were talking about ramen so who knows," He said with a roll of his eyes that quickly bled into an annoyed glare. "Hurry up."
"Okay, okay." I said distractedly, finishing pulling on my black pants that I noted were identical to Sasuke's as we nodded to each other and opened the door, stepping put into the hall.
Kabuto was leaning up against the opposite wall and gave a smile when he saw us step out, "I trust your first night here at Sound was comfortable?" The medic asked in a causal, friendly way that to me screamed fakeness.
I blatantly ignored him – and Sasuke just hissed at him to skip the pleasantries and take us to the training grounds.
He did so with a tight smile. Is he afraid of Sasuke or something? I narrowed my eyes on the guy with glasses, noticing how he moved to walk alongside me, clearly avoiding being near Sasuke even if he was initially closer to him and saw how his eyes darted to Sasuke in a nervous manner. I inwardly huffed at this; it figures that he'd be wary of only Sasuke. Well, that'll change soon four-eyes.
After a fifteen minute walk passing many doors (some locked and some wide open with a lot of people screaming – I made sure I didn't look inside) and many labs with Sound-nin guarding and doing constant patrols, we walked until I guessed we must have reached the lower floors of the base, probably even underground. Kabuto finally stopped in front of two large double doors.
"This is where you'll be training for the duration of our stay in this base, Naruto. Sasuke, you'll be in the area Orochimaru-sama took you to last time, he requested your presence here because he wants you to meet Naruto's new sensei." The Oto-medic said in a mild tone.
I glanced over at Sasuke who didn't look happy in the least that his personal training was being pushed back just to do this.
"Whatever," Sasuke said in a clipped voice, moving past Kabuto and opening one of the doors. I hurriedly followed and noticed Kabuto trailing after me.
Inside was a huge training area, it must have been at least the size of a ballroom with no windows and a wide ceiling. It was empty except for Orochimaru that stood in the center, a little bit away from us.
We walked over silently and it was then that I noticed the coffin-like box that the Oto Kage stood beside. It was propped up so it stood erect right next to the snake sannin. I frowned at it, wondering vaguely what it be used for. I just hope he hasn't decided not to train me and says that box is for me!
"Naruto-kun, it's time for you to meet your Sensei." Orochimaru said, giving me one of his creepy smiles.
"I don't get it…" I said, a bit cautious, "What's the wooden box for?"
Orochimaru's smile widened at that and he said, "You'll see."
I looked over to Sasuke to see him eyeing the coffin detachedly, a bored expression on his face.
I snapped my gaze back to Orochimaru when he started doing seals at a rapid pace and started when he rapped on the coffin that glowed, the kanji burned into it shining ominously.
A second went by when suddenly the door to the coffin opened, darkness was the only thing visible inside until a hand reached out and gripped a side of the coffin, followed quickly by the other. Holy shit! What the hell is going on?!
I jumped slightly when the figure stepped out of the wooden box, a blank expression on the man's pale face. I stopped myself from stepping back as I gaped at him wordlessly. He had branching white hair and hard eyes that seemed melded with a serious look, he wore a heavy jacket and even though I told myself he must be some kind of zombie for some odd reason he looked eerily familiar.
Orochimaru grinned maliciously at the look on my face, "This, Naruto is the Nidaime Hokage. He will be your new sensei."
". . ." I stared speechless at the – what? Nidaime Hokage as I tensed, realizing that this guy really did look like the second Hokage.
"H – How…?" I started, wondering how to accurately phrase my question as my common sense yelled that is wasn't right or natural in the least! I just barely stopped myself from stomping my foot and demanding to know what the hell was going on.
"I resurrected him with a technique, Naruto-kun. You should be very grateful – after all, how many times have you said you wished to be Hokage? Now you have the chance to train with one of Konoha's creators." Orochimaru explained, finishing with a laugh as he turned to the undead Nidaime who was standing there silently.
"You will train Naruto-kun for as long as I see fit. He needs to be powerful if he is to be of use to me so make sure you don't so easy on him." The snake sannin continued, "As long as you don't kill him, I don't care what methods you use."
"Hai." The second Hokage said in a low, devoid tone.
Orochimaru nodded, looking pleased as he turned his gaze onto Sasuke. "Good. Now, Sasuke-kun, I will teach you a new jutsu I have recently acquired."
I glanced over to my raven haired teammate and saw his bored expression change into one of measured interest. He simply nodded, walking out of the training area without another word as he followed Orochimaru. Kabuto stalled, turning to me to a wave, "Enjoy your training, Naruto-kun."
I said nothing as Kabuto too left, closing the double doors behind him that Sasuke and Orochimaru had exited seconds before.
I looked over to the still silent Nidaime and tried not to be freaked out.
"State your name." The second Hokage said as I started.
"Eh?" I not so intelligently responded.
The Hokage's hard gaze narrowed on mine, "Your name, boy. I'd like to it if you are to be my pupil. You can't be that stupid as to have forgotten it, right?"
"…Uzumaki Naruto," I said, slipping into the usual confident stance as I rose my head determinably, brushing off the insult. "The future Hokage of Konoha!"
"Is that so?" Nidaime said in a vague tone, "Odd for a Sound-nin to say such a thing."
"Hey! I'm…" I stopped, clapping a hand over my mouth as I turned around. Stupid! You can't say these things – he could tell Orochimaru and then you'd be screwed! Argh, I hope I haven't already messed things up!
I glanced back over to him to see him arching a brow at me, "Perhaps you're not as stupid as I thought." The Nidaime crossed his arms, "Orochimaru summoned me here and while I am here, I must do whatever he says."
I had the notion that was more of a warning than anything else. At the same time, something nudged into my gut at the Nidaime's words.
"I'm sorry…that guy brought you back from the afterlife just to train me…and you don't even have a choice…" I trailed off, not knowing what else to say. What could I, really?
"You're an Uzumaki so that means you come from Leaf…that also means…" The Nidaime ventured off for a moment, "Tell me, why is Orochimaru so insistent on your training?"
"I'm the Kyubbi's container and…I told him my goal was to take down the Akatsuki – mainly it's leader…my father, the Yondaime."
The Second Hokage's eyes widened slightly at that, "Who was your sensei in Konoha?"
I blinked before answering, "Kakashi-sensei…and Ero-sannin, uh, I mean Jiraiya."
The Nidaime's eyes become more interested at that as I saw him stare down at me evenly, "So why come to Sound to train?"
I stilled, looking down for a moment before staring him dead in the eye. "A goal…and a pact I made with a friend."
"I see…" The second Hokage said. Minutes drifted by that echoed into my nerves when suddenly a rouge grin cut through his hard features. "Maybe this won't such a waste of time…can you assure me that?"
With a nod, I said, "Hai, Nidaime-sensei! I'll work hard, believe me! I want to get stronger for my own reasons that have nothing to do with Sound or Orochimaru!"
The Nidaime nodded at me, "I'll hold you to that, Naruto."
The second Hokage stepped a few paces back before positioning himself a few feet away, "Ready? I haven't trained a kid since Sarutobi so don't expect me to go easy on you, Naruto."
Sarutobi? You mean old Hokage Sarutobi?! No way!!!
Before I had a chance to respond, the Nidaime did a slew of hand seals – "Suishouha!" He called out as within the blink of an eye a large volume of water seemed to appear out of nowhere, quickly flooding the entire room at a frightening pace. I gasped as the cold water made its way up to my waist within seconds.
"You better start defending yourself, Naruto, or you'll drown."
". . . !"
I could tell that he wasn't joking in the least as I tried to save myself from immediate drowning.
I walked down the empty street, turning sideways at a corner until I had made my way in between the high building of Konoha's marketplace.
I sat down on the red railing off the side, closing my eyes that were finally dry.
"Sakura…I need to talk to you."
"What do you mean, Kakashi-sensei? Where's Naruto? And Sasuke-kun…Naruto left to go bring him back…! Is Naruto okay?"
"…I'm sorry, Sakura. I never thought it would end this way…I don't know what Naruto could be thinking, or what really happened between the two but…"
"- But what? Kakashi-sensei…you're scaring me…"
"Sasuke is gone, probably already in Oto by now…and we think Naruto is with him."
"…Wh-what…that can't be…!"
I lifted my head and stared at the rooftops of the colorful buildings above me. They seemed so far away.
Just like Sasuke-kun…and Naruto now too.
I bit my bottom lip as I trembled slightly, the warning buildup of tears in the back of my eyes threatening to come forth once more.
After Kakashi-sensei had told me everything he knew, he had said to not worry, that he would find them and bring them back. He promised he would and patted me on the head, but this time we both knew it was empty words, just as empty as this street.
I choked back a cry, my sore throat making it worse as I thought about what I had already decided.
Go to Tsunade-sama and demand that she take you in for her apprentice. Don't let her say no, make her take you on. Get stronger so you can face Naruto and Sasuke-kun, so you can find them and ask why…
So I can ask why they left me behind…
I wasn't able to stop the next cry that tore its way from deep inside my chest; it made my heart wench and twist it hurt so bad…
I had asked Sasuke-kun to take me with him if couldn't stay…I had said I loved him, that I would do anything for him…
And all he said was a cryptic "Thank you."
I had begged Naruto to bring Sasuke-kun back, and he had promised me he would do so…
But then he left with Sasuke and went to Oto.
As the tears of hurt, betrayal, and the ever compressing feeling that pressed down in my heart that made the whispers of your just a burden to them, they don't need you – they'd be better off without you, your useless turn into screams that I was forced to acknowledge.
Because they were true.
And so, I had to make them untrue – I have to train, I have to get stronger…not only for my teammates…for myself. To prove to myself that I'm not just the burden Sasuke-kun and Naruto left behind, or the one to be ignored. I'll go out tomorrow and face everyone and pretend that everything is fine. I'll concentrate on my training and nothing else. Meanwhile…I'll have to deal with what will never leave my thoughts…
The one thing that hurt the most out of everything…
I stared up at the rooftops again and wondered how far away they really were…
A/N: Ah. The first chapter of Pause is already done! Whe! Twitch and I couldn't wait to get started on Pause – expect a lot of shockers! One reviewer from FF nearly guessed who Naruto's sensei might be – only a bit off target since the Yondaime is still alive in Pause, heh. But yeah we had it planned ages ago that it would be the second Hokage!
I got the scene with Sakura staring at the rooftops from a manga chapter cover page, I don't remember which one but it really stuck with me so I wanted to incorporate it into Pause's chapter.
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Twitch and Spaz