Long overdue, I know. My bad –sweatdrop- Work has been killer, I work five times a week, and on my two days off, I have so much to do that writing isn't really an option. Since this is the case, I can't promise this will be updated daily, and I'm sure y'all would rather quality over quantity, right? So I'll try for every two days or so, but like I said, no promises.
Also, my beta's on holidays, and I feel bad asking her to check my stuff when she's busy with her own job, so there might be a few mistakes, and I'm sorry, but please bear with me -sweatdrop-
- YAOI: Before I go any further, I would like to point something out: THIS IS A SASUNARU! Yes, SasuNaru! It's gonna have some Sasu and some Naru, okay? So after reading the statement that follows, remember, this is a SASUNARU! There will be some NaruSaku. JUSTIFIED NARUSAKU, OMG PLEASE DON'T LEAVE! T.T I swear, it's justified, and it's so slight it's like it's not even there. I don't even think they're going to kiss or anything. So remember, SASUNARU! (Eventually...) And yes, this means yaoi.
- OOC: This is an AU… sorta… well, it's hard to explain, but just know there's gonna be some hardcore OOCness which I can explain better in chapter two, but keep that in mind.
- Spoilers: I'll try my best not to have spoilers, but I'm pretty sure I'll have one regarding a moment in chapter… erm… 311-ish. But I'm going to try my very best to ensure that the spoilers are kept to a minimum so that everyone can read and enjoy.
- Sakura bashing: I DO NOT HATE SAKURA! I felt the need to clarify that. I REALLY like Sakura, but due to the nature of this fic and how I want it to come out, there's going to be some Sakura hate in here. But I DON'T hate her!
I think that's it, hope I haven't missed anything… Enjoy!
Disclaimer: Naruto isn't mine. Actually, none of my fic ideas are ever even mine. In FACT, nothing I ever write is even mine, not even this! ...Just kidding! But really, Naruto isn't mine.
Dedicated: To RubyPlushie, because she is awesome.
Uzumaki Naruto walked into the Hokage's office, the eighteen year old looking confident as he stopped in front of Sannin Tsunade's desk. He stood tall, his eyes calm and focused, his posture between being rigid and relaxed. This was no longer the boy from all those years ago. He had grown, matured. He'd gotten stronger, and now, he was ready.
Tsunade stared at him, her chin resting on her folded hands, her elbows propped up.
The Hokage winced, missing the days when the energetic blonde would burst into her office, calling her an old hag. Those days had disappeared too quickly for her liking, showing just how hard the blond had worked in order to change.
Showing how badly he wanted this.
"There may be no way to save him." she whispered. "No way to bring him back."
"I'm still going to try." Naruto insisted. "According to my research, the soul of a person cannot be expelled from the body, nor can it be taken over. Based on what I've discovered, due to his power, Orochimaru has the ability to push and contain the other person's soul, much like the Kyuubi and myself. I believe that if the floodgates were to open—if I were to break the seal containing Sasuke's soul—it might be able to force Orochimaru out of his head."
"What if Sasuke doesn't want him out?" Tsunade had to go there, despite not wanting to.
"Theoretically, it shouldn't matter. A body cannot have two free souls, and it will reflexively expel the one that doesn't belong."
The Hokage stared at her charge. She was always impressed with the amount of research he had put into this. Naruto had never been an incredibly studious person, but once it was clear that Sasuke's body had been taken over, he had spent all of his free time looking through the Fourth's scrolls, researching souls, and training. Orochimaru was a formidable foe, but Naruto himself was probably even deadlier.
"If I send you on this mission—"
"Listen." Tsunade ordered, narrowing her eyes. The blond stayed silent, something he wouldn't have done two or three years ago. She almost wished he would argue with her. "If I send you on this mission, someone's going with you."
"This isn't open for debate." Tsunade snapped, her eyes narrowing further. "You'll go accompanied, or not at all."
The Hokage could see Naruto's fists clenching but his expression remained neutral, and when he spoke, it was still with the utmost respect he'd been giving her of late.
"With all due respect, Hokage-sama, I don't think that's a good idea. Anyone else present would just distract me."
"Maybe, but they'll ensure you don't get yourself killed." She stood. "I've already arranged for a team to accompany you, and if you wish to go on this mission, you'll go with them. If you leave them behind, you will be considered a Nukenin and you will be hunted down by ANBU. I'll even send your own subordinates after you, Captain."
Naruto's jaw clenched as he turned to her, his fists shaking angrily. "You've thought this out, haven't you?"
"I've known you've wanted this since Sasuke's body was taken over." Tsunade pulled open the office door. "Did you really think I wouldn't be ready?"
"Yo." Hatake Kakashi smiled, raising one hand in greeting. "Long time no see."
"No kidding." Haruno Sakura walked into the office, poking Naruto's cheek. "You've been such a hermit the last couple of months. Probably living off ramen, huh? The only time I saw you was when your ANBU team got sent out on missions."
"What is this?" Naruto grit his teeth as he saw his former teammates. Even Baikan Sai was present, smiling mysteriously by the door.
"This is the team accompanying you." Tsunade informed. "You all know Sasuke in some way, and I've decided it would be the best team to go with you."
Naruto was shaking with rage. She was making his most important people follow him to a death he wanted to experience alone.
"I don't think that's a good idea."
"Oh, come off it." Sakura hit him across the back of the head. "I don't think we should bother at all, personally, but if you're determined to get yourself killed, I'm going with you."
"Me too." Sai said with a smile. "After all, someone with such a small p—"
"All right!" Naruto exploded. "I get it!" He turned to glare at Tsunade. "When are we leaving?"
"Whenever you like." Her eyes darkened. "Stay safe, gaki. I won't lose you to him."
"You won't." Naruto turned and stalked out of the office.
"Naruto, surprisingly enough, Orochimaru is still going to be in Sound by the time we get there."
"There's no need to rush." Kakashi grabbed the back of Naruto's Jounin vest, yanking him back. "You've waited this long, you can wait a few more days."
Naruto growled. This was another reason why he'd wanted to come alone. He was never going to get there, at this rate! It would take forever!
"Naruto, what's the point of rushing there, arriving exhausted, and losing?" Sakura asked as she stretched.
She has a point, the reasonable part of Naruto's brain insisted. The rest of his brain chose not to reply, growling instead.
It would take them a few days to get to Sound—probably more like a month at the speed these three are going—but they were all confident everything would go according to plan. Their plan was fairly simple, after all. Get to Sound, perform the ritual that would free Sasuke's soul, and then get out of there. Of course, they would have to be careful with Orochimaru, because his soul would be trying to attach itself to another one of their bodies, or even trying to re-enter Sasuke's. It was risky, and they all knew it, but Naruto was confident that if he stayed the closest to Sasuke after Orochimaru was expelled, everything would be fine. After all, if Orochimaru tried to enter his body, Kyuubi would throw a fit.
"So, what's the plan?" Sakura asked as she raised her hands up above her head and let out a loud grunt as she stretched. "Other than, you know, getting Sasuke back."
"No 'kun' at the end, there, Sakura?" Kakashi teased. The rosette glared at him.
It was common knowledge that Sakura still loved Sasuke, but she tried to convince herself that she didn't. It hurt less when she thought about him. About what he'd done; how stupid he was. Sometimes, she was ashamed of liking him, but there was nothing she could do about it. It's always hardest to let go of your first love.
"We're going in, performing the ritual, and getting out." Naruto informed.
"What a marvellous plan, oh great ANBU Captain." Sakura exclaimed. "Brilliant. Couldn't have said it better myself."
She hit Naruto across the back of the head. He just winced. He'd gotten used to her beating him up.
"I meant an actual plan!"
"What more do you want?" Naruto growled. "We're going to sneak in when it's dark and they're least expecting it, then we'll get to Orochimaru's room and perform the ritual. I don't know how complicated you expect this to be."
Sakura groaned. "Sai, knock some sense into your best friend, will you?"
"Naruto doesn't listen to me." He smiled pleasantly at Sakura. "I just like to pretend he does."
"Aren't you a higher rank?"
"Doesn't mean he'll listen to me."
"Maa, Naruto." Kakashi grabbed the back of his Jounin vest again. "You're speeding up."
The blond felt just about ready to explode.
Nearby, two Sound nins were watching the group intently as they strode forward, Kakashi reading his perverted book and holding Naruto's vest, while Sakura and Sai just started arguing with one another, something the two had always done since Sai had entered Team Seven.
The two nins glanced at one another, smirking. They were part of the new Sound Four—the old group hadn't been to Orochimaru's liking, so he had killed them—and they were eager to try out their new techniques, complete with curse seal.
"Shall we?" Chain asked his partner, Ryo.
"Lets." The two of them teleported to a location a little closer to the four travelling shinobi, staring at them intently. "Ready?"
"Always. I call the blond."
"Why do you always get all the fun?"
Chain grinned as he performed a seal and slammed his hands onto the ground.
The earth beneath them immediately began to shift and the four Leaf shinobi let out startled cries as they were suddenly sinking into the ground. They looked around, alarmed.
"This must be some kind of quick-sand!" Sakura exclaimed.
"In the middle of a forest?" Naruto hollered back.
"Well, well, well." Ryo emerged from the trees, his sword slung over his shoulder as he smirked. "Look at this. The Copy-nin, Hatake Kakashi. The Kyuubi vessel, Uzumaki Naruto. Now you would think that two such accomplished shinobi, such as yourselves, would be smarter."
"Honestly—how dumb do you think we are?" Naruto rolled his eyes before the other three trapped in the earth with him turned back into their true forms. They were all Naruto.
"Dammit! Kage Bunshin!" Ryo turned and started running back towards Chain when Sai appeared in front of him, his hand on the hilt of his sword as the Sound nin stopped.
"How convenient, wouldn't you say, Uzumaki?"
"Yeah, yeah. Whatever." Naruto rubbed the back of his head with a sigh as his clones disappeared and he gathered chakra into his hand, slamming it into the ground at his feet, effectively freeing himself.
"The Sound gets more and more disappointing every time I encounter them." Kakashi emerged from the trees with Chain in front of him, the shinobi bound in ninja wire. He frowned and pulled down the back of the boy's shirt as he noticed something. It was a curse seal. "So, you must be part of the Sound Four."
"Wow." Naruto said. "That's so sad. Is this the best Orochimaru can send? I'm insulted!"
"You think you've won?" Chain grinned. "We haven't even started."
"Kakashi-sensei!" Sakura screamed, running towards them.
"Sakura, I'm not your sensei anymore." Kakashi sighed. "You can—"
"Shut up!" She ran right past them. "We have to go!"
"Huh? Go? Why?" Sai and Naruto turned to look back in the direction she'd come. Their eyes widened and they turned, following Sakura. Kakashi cursed and did the same, the four of them running fast before jumping up into the trees.
"Dammit! They knew it wasn't us! This was all part of their plan."
"Yeah, and it worked!" Naruto hollered before letting out a startled cry and jumping to another tree.
The ground beneath them had come alive, and as figures emerged from the earth around the trees, it animated them, as well, so that they attempted to grab and trap them within their branches.
"Fire jutsu. Fire jutsu! A fire jutsu would be really good right now!" Naruto yelled at Kakashi. The blond had never been good at fire jutsus.
The team's old sensei formed a set of seals hurriedly, but before they could finish, a branch came out and grabbed his ankle, lifting him clear off his feet.
"Kakashi!" Sakura screamed, stopping. Sai slammed into her, half-carrying her as he jumped to the next branch.
"Don't stop! He can take care of himself!" the ANBU insisted. Naruto appeared beside them, looking over his shoulder. Their sensei had disappeared amongst the trees, and he winced, hoping Kakashi would be okay.
"Look out!" Naruto looked forward again and screamed, ducking under a branch that had come alive, and falling out of the trees. He half-landed on his feet, scrambling into a standing position again to continue running. He slammed through a set of trees, appearing in a large clearing that stood on the edge of a ravine. He screeched to a halt a second before reaching the edge and looked down, breathing hard. He wouldn't be able to jump across, but he thought that maybe if he climbed down the side, he could escape detection for a while and then go back for Kakashi.
Naruto let out a barely audible sound of shock as the rocks he stood on crumbled and he fell, plummeting into the large ravine below, his eyes wide.
A doorbell rang out loudly, causing soft footsteps to pad towards the door. A click and creak later, it was open, the woman smiling brightly as she stared out at her visitor.
"You come here every day, there's no need to ring the doorbell. You can just walk in."
"Thanks, but as much as I regard you as a second mother, and as familiar as I am with this house, I would much rather ring the doorbell."
"Suit yourself." She smiled and moved aside, letting the tall teen trudge into the house. He put his backpack down beside the door and removed his shoes. With that daily ritual done, he shoved his hands deep into his pockets and trudged up the stairs.
"She's already here." was called up the stairs after him.
I know, he thought to himself before opening the door at the end of the corridor.
She turned in the seat he usually occupied. She always stole it when he arrived late, and it irked him like nothing else.
"Hey, I didn't think you'd make it." The bitterness was clear in her tone. They'd never liked each other, they just forced themselves to put up with one another.
"I come here every day, why would today be any different?" he demanded, annoyed. He grabbed a stool from the corner and set it down at the foot of the bed before him, plopping down on it. "Shall we start pretending to like each other?"
"Fine." she replied dryly before sighing and plastering a smile on her face. She leaned over and ran her hand through the bed occupant's hair. "Hey, baby. It's me again."
"And me." He narrowed his eyes at the bitch.
"And Sasuke." she ground out.
"Sakura likes spending time alone with you." the raven said, his arms crossed.
"Of course I do; why wouldn't I? He's my boyfriend." Her eyes narrowed.
"I thought we were pretending." Sasuke faked a smile.
Sakura scoffed. "You really need to find a new best friend, Naruto. Sasuke isn't worth your time, unconscious or not."
The raven grit his teeth, looking down at the figure unconscious on the bed. He had an IV inserted into the back of his hand. A breathing apparatus was hooked up to him, as well as a catheter and a G-tube—Sasuke wasn't sure why they were called that, but G-tubes provided food.
His best friend's hair was long, since Mrs. Uzumaki only cut it when it passed his shoulders. With him unconscious, it was hard for them to give him a decent haircut.
Sasuke had volunteered to shave him once a week, something he'd started back when the blond had begun to sport a mustache and beard. It had been funny for a while, but it lost its humour once it became clear Naruto wasn't laughing.
He didn't do anything, anymore. And who could blame him? The blond had been in a coma for two years.
A/N: DUN DUN DUUUUUUNNNNNN. All will be explained in the next chapter, which I will TRY to have out tomorrow, since I have the day off. I'll try really hard :)