A/N: Spoilers for latest manga chapters, in this A/N!
If there was anyone wondering about this… Everything that has happened in the manga, up until chapter 343 has happened in this story. Sasuke, however, hasn't killed, or even attempted to kill Orochimaru. The snake sannin lives. :O
Naruto wiped the sweat of his forehead… again. He narrowed his eyes and looked at the form of Sasuke that walked in front of him, a good ten meters away. Like always, the Uchiha didn't seem to be faced.
Naruto groaned slightly. Why was it so freaking hot?
He looked at the villagers that were walking carelessly around, enjoying their daily life, not bothered with the heat at all.
That made Naruto rethink his last sentence.
The weather wasn't that bad. Actually, it was a nice, fresh day. What made it so hot was the long and black coat that covered his entire body. Sasuke also had one, so why wasn't he sweating like a madman? Naruto sometimes wondered if that guy even was human.
Naruto let out another groan, and walked even slower than before, if that was possible.
Sasuke who had been losing his patience with the whining blonde that slowed down with every step, turned around slowly, with a scowl on his face. "Naruto! Hurry up!" He barked. Which was quite unusual for the Uchiha. Maybe the heat did affect him.
Naruto glared at Sasuke. "Only if I can get out of this ridiculously stupid coat." He half-demanded. Who the hell would wear a black coat when there was a hot sun lurking? But he was too tired to get into a full argument. He only wanted to take off the stupid coat, but the teme wouldn't let him.
Sasuke returned his glare, and scowled before turning his back on him. A definite 'don't even think about it'. And if Sasuke wasn't Sasuke it my have been a loud 'Hell no!'
Naruto glowered at Sasuke's back and began following him… again.
They had been walking around this village for an hour now, and Sasuke still hadn't found the inn he was looking for. Naruto had already proposed just going to another inn but Sasuke was dead set on that one.
Naruto sighed dreadfully, but then… he smelled something… Something delicious. Naruto licked his lips and got a predatory gleam in his eyes. He followed the smell, forgetting Sasuke entirely. But he had only completed five steps astray from Sasuke when he got caught.
"We're supposed to go that way." Sasuke said tediously, magically appearing in front of him.
"But I'm hungry!" Naruto whined, unfazed with the Uchiha's sudden appearance. After two weeks with Sasuke, he'd seen this trick enough times not to jump back and scream like a girl… anymore.
As if to prove Naruto's point his stomach began growling loudly.
Sasuke glared at Naruto's stomach. "That can wait."
Naruto's eyes widened slightly. Sometimes… sometimes he wished he could just punch that bastard and get over with it, once and for all. But sadly enough, he had already tried that just that morning. He had failed miserably, but considering Sasuke's ninja-background it wasn't that humiliating.
Sasuke stared long and impassively at Naruto before turning around, just like that. He was so completely sure Naruto would follow him like a kicked puppy, that Naruto suddenly felt sick to his stomach. Or maybe it was just him being hungry. But somehow he thought it had more to do with Sasuke's attitude.
Now Naruto thought about it… The last couple of days he'd been awfully clingy and dependant of his dark-haired companion. Sasuke was the one with the money; Sasuke was the one who had the most knowledge of their area; Sasuke was the one with the power to protect both of them; Sasuke was the one who remained calm and collected when dealing with rude people; Sasuke was the one could fought the random thug off; Sasuke was the one who'd say where they sleep for the night, what they'd eat, where they'd eat, when they'd eat.
Sasuke was the one who pulled the strings.
Sure, Naruto would protest, complain, whine, grumble, and Kami knows what else. But he'd give in, eventually.
And the way Sasuke had turned around made Naruto realise all of this in one second.
Pity Naruto wouldn't be there to see Sasuke's face when the arrogant teme would realise he wasn't being followed anymore.
With a mischievous smile, Naruto disappeared with stealth he hadn't known he possessed. He could swear he was now being awfully… ninja-like.
Sasuke had walked two meters further when he felt something wasn't right. He waited to hear Naruto's grumbling, complaints, protests and whatnot. It never came.
Slowly he turned around, only to see the spot Naruto had occupied earlier was now perfectly deserted.
Only one thing went through his mind.
Naruto was amazed with his speed. In a fit of enthusiasm he ran straight into a wall, somehow lifting his feet up so that he walked upwards. After a meter or three he suddenly got nervous and leaped off, making a clumsy rotation in the air, before landing on the ground. Somehow he managed to land on his feet.
His head spinned after his clumsy rotation in the air.
After the dizziness wore off, Naruto saw the looks bystanders were giving him.
He didn't know why, but those stares made him feel incredibly warm. And it was not the kind of warmth the coat tormented him with. No… it was another kind of warmth…
Naruto gave the bystanders the largest grin he could give them, before noticing he had lost his hat somewhere in his leap. He picked it up and replaced it on his head, covering his face once again.
Why had Sasuke given him that thing in the first place?
Besides covering his face it had no function. And Naruto didn't feel like covering his face. He understood why Sasuke needed the head. (After all he managed to scare the shit out of everyone, even the most hardened criminals!) But why Naruto? It wasn't like he had to hide or something. He didn't have any scars, wasn't particularly ugly, wasn't scary…
Before Naruto could think about it some more, he suddenly remembered something.
…Sasuke wasn't nearby. Sow why did he still wear the hat?
Naruto's mouth curled up in a mischievous smile.
Hat-less Naruto proceeded to look for a ramen-stand. This time not with the weird speed he had earlier. Or the strange acrobatics. He didn't feel like dying, and he could've easily broken his neck if he had fallen down earlier.
Besides, Naruto had to keep his attention on his mission: finding the ramen he smelled earlier. He doubted he could find the ramen-stand if was too engrossed in his newly acquired skills.
Naruto walked down the streets without any further dramatics. He was entirely oblivious of the stares he received. Some admiring, for the stunt he pulled earlier, some suspicious. Because it was kind of suspicious when two cloaked men, entirely in black and with weird hats that covered their faces, come into your peaceful town, then separate, and start weird ninja-like things.
They looked at Naruto suspiciously, following his every move, staring at his back with cautious gazes. The villagers seemingly relaxed when Naruto had found his target, the ramen-stand, and disappeared out of their sight.
Naruto walked into the ramen-stand. It was very snug from the inside, even more so than from the outside. There was roughly space for about ten people.
He sat down at seat in front of the kitchen, and yelled: "OI! I'd like one misou-ramen, please!" He momentarily forgot Sasuke's rant about not attracting attraction, and complained loudly when the ramen took too long (for Naruto's hungry logic).
"Ungrateful brat…" the chef muttered under his breath when he gave Naruto his bowl of ramen. 'Ungrateful brat' quickly turned into 'my dearest customer', though, when Naruto ordered his seventh bowl.
"Here you go!" the chef told Naruto merrily, when he placed the boy's ninth bowl in front of him, smiling like a maniac. Naruto, however, missed the greedy look of the chef entirely.
"Thanks!" Naruto replied merrily and dug into his ninth bowl.
It was then that Naruto felt someone plopping down into the seat next to him. Naruto took a sideway glance and saw a woman next to him. She had long brown hair, and looked absolutely desperate. "Sake…" she muttered to the chef. Looking at him desperately with bloodshot eyes. There were rather large bags under her eyes too.
The chef merely raised a brow at her. "You do realise this is a ramen-stand?"
The woman slammed her head against the counter and groaned. "Ramen, then." The chef shrugged her lack of respect off and went back to his kitchen.
Naruto wondered why the woman was so distressed.
Suddenly the woman turned to him, her large bloodshot eyes staring him down, making her look like some lunatic.
A scary lunatic, that is.
"Why?!" she exclaimed, causing Naruto to flinch. Suddenly he became aware of the alcoholic scent around her. "Why is it so freaking hard to find easy jobs today, without committing suicide?!" she practically yelled at Naruto.
Naruto dropped his chopsticks when he realised what she was talking about; the dramatic air the woman gave off seemed to be contagious. He grabbed her shoulders. "No!" He exclaimed, shaking her loudly. "I'm sure someone loves you! Don't give up! You'll find someone with a job and then you'll never have to worry about money anymore!"
The woman stared at him, totally flabbergasted.
Naruto stared at her, boring his eyes intently into hers.
She stared… and then burst out laughing. Naruto was puzzled.
He exchanged looks with the chef, who gave the woman her first bowl. His look clearly stated: 'Don't-ask-me-I'm-a-male-species'. The chef was right: they probably couldn't understand a female.
So the chef returned to the sole third customer, while Naruto returned to his ramen.
The woman almost choked. "You… You're funny!" She managed to get out between some gasps.
Naruto who had already proceeded to eat his tenth bowl chuckled, his silent promise to leave the woman alone already forgotten. "I am, ain't I?" It was nice to talk with someone who wasn't as stuck-up as the teme.
Speaking about the teme… where was he? Naruto had presumed the teme would have found in within ten minutes. But it had been forty-five minutes since he'd left Sasuke, and he still hadn't been found…
Naruto merrily waved it off. It meant more ramen for him!
The woman next to him also let out a chuckle. She wasn't as drunk as he originally thought. Actually she was quite sober. "My name is Mayakashi Kaede. You are?"
Naruto slurped some remains of his ramen out of the bowl. "Naruto." He said.
Kaede raised an eyebrow. "…No surname?"
Naruto grinned impishly. "Err… I forgot?"
It was true though. He didn't remember his last name. Maybe if he'd ask Sasuke… But he doubted the teme would tell him. The teme was pure evil, especially in cases like this. If Sasuke would have his way, Naruto would know nothing.
Or so Naruto thought.
Kaede looked at him thoughtfully, but then looked at her untouched ramen and started to eat it. "So…" she said while eating. Her table manners were as bad as Naruto's. Some ramen spluttered over her bowl, finding its home on the floor.
"…What village do you come from? You don't look like you're from around here…" she continued, after choking away some particular big bite.
Naruto had quite the feeling this woman was being too curious. Her face darkened when he told her he forgot… again.
"Can you tell me about yourself?" she asked him. Her tone of voice was light and nonchalant, but now Naruto could feel some sort of intensity come from her.
Somehow he thought telling her too much would turn out disastrous. Besides his instincts telling him that, he also reminisced the nagging voice of a certain companion of his.
"Keep following me, don't attract any attention to yourself, don't even think about sneaking off without me, and don't talk to others. If you're forced to talk to others, then at least don't tell them anything. Got it memorised? We're going."
It was the longest sentence the Uchiha had spoken since his time with Naruto. And Naruto had forgotten… or rather ignored the Uchiha's words.
Now let's see… Keep following Sasuke had failed, the same with not sneaking off on his own. He had attracted quite some attention with his suspicious clothing, as well his new-found acrobatics. He had talked to… the chef, the lady next to him and some random people on the streets. He'd told Kaede his name, and that he didn't know where he came from.
Great going, Naruto! Naruto resisted the urge to slam his head against the counter like Kaede had done earlier.
Kaede still was eating her ramen, acting casually, but Naruto noticed the greedy gleam in her eyes. The same one the chef had, only Naruto's simple mind had decided that ramen-chefs couldn't be evil. After all: they were the ones that provided him his precious ramen!
The gleam in Kaede's eyes made Naruto realise that he had encountered one of the most dangerous of the female species: the gossiper.
Sasuke would never forgive him if he blabbed against a gossiper.
Naruto frantically tried to find his way out of this situation. And Naruto, who'd been quite famous for coming up with brilliant plans whenever he was in a threatening situation (not that he knew that), decided to backfire her question. "You don't look like you're from here either." He smiled sincerely at her, though he felt anything but relaxed on the inside.
She smiled back at him, though he could've sworn he saw her pout for a second. "No. I'm from Suna."
Naruto raised his eyebrows, he was genuinely surprised. "Then why are you here?" Suna and Iwa weren't exactly on good terms with each other. For her to show her face near Iwa could be dangerous.
That's when Naruto realised he remembered the political issues between countries, but could not remember his name.
…Why wasn't life fair?
She grinned cheekily. "It's secret."
That's when someone else entered the ramen-stand. An aura of absolute doom fell down on all the people present.
A voice growled out. "…Narutoooo."
Naruto, who had shrugged the apocalypse-like aura off as nothing to worry about, suddenly felt the urge to leave his ramen and flee. He shivered, and turned around slowly. "Hiya, Sasuke!" He said as cheerfully as possible.
The dark-haired male merely glared daggers at him.
Before Sasuke decided something drastic Naruto grabbed his ramen and held it out to Sasuke. "Hungry?" he offered weakly.
Sasuke merely looked as if he'd grown a second head, like he'd do many times. "Come." He commanded. Naruto looked at the seat next to him. "Gomen Kaede…"
He stared. "…san?"
The seat next to him was empty. An empty ramen bowl was the only evidence anyone had been there in the first place.
The oblivious Uchiha stalked out of the ramen-stand, as always expecting Naruto to follow him. And this time, Naruto did.
They never heard the anguished cries of the ramen-chef, when he found out Naruto had left without paying.
Dictionary: Teme – Bastard
Gomen – Sorry
-san – (honorific) mister, miss
A/N: So… Naruto's pride was hurt because he felt dependant of Sasuke and so he tiptoed off, then he realised he's an acrobat (no, not really…) and then he meets a Suna-shinobi who mysteriously disappears afterwards…
Originally, this chapter would've been longer. But somehow, I felt like cutting it off. Please, don't kill me. :O
And to my dearest reviewers: I'd like to apologise for not replying to your reviews last chapter. I've been kinda busy. And thanks to some of you I realised A/Ns are read, after all! ;D
As for entering Konoha next chapter… Now that I cut this chapter off, I'm not so sure it'd be wise to re-enter them already. Maybe the sixth chap… ;D
PS I love reviews so much, I reply to them. Criticism's welcome too.
My next update will be at the end of July, probably, due to school. My apologies.