Blah blah blah: regular text
"Blah Blah Blah" regular speech
'Blah Blah Blah' regular thought or flashback
"Blah Blah Blah" Kyuubi/demonic or summon talking
'Blah Blah Blah' Kyuubi/demonic or summon thinking
You can tell I don't own Naruto by how outrageous Shippuden has become.
Who's the Hostage
Chapter 12: Fox Hunt
"I still can't believe that you didn't listen to me."
'You don't need to rub it in ya know.'
"But the logic-"
"And you could have-"
"And she wanted-"
'Hey look! A new flashback!'
"The proper use of that joke is, "Hey look! A distraction""
'…No seriously, there's another flashback.'
"That is beside the point, we are discussing your blatant stupidity not images of things we already know about."
'But this one's from Konoha.'
"You make a fair point…"
"…we shall postpone our evaluation of your obvious lack of common sense and sex drive when the images switch back to you and your mate."
In one of the many plazas within Konoha's commercial district Uchiha Sasuke had found a relatively quiet spot where he could sit and think. It had been a trying number of months since he had become a gennin, especially recently.
When Orochimaru's spies had brought news of Naruto's defection he couldn't believe it, but after this afternoon…
"I'm issuing an ongoing Investigation and Retrieval mission to your team. Your target, as you no doubt have guessed, is your wayward teammate Uzumaki Naruto, under normal circumstances we would either send a hunter squad to retrieve him or ignore him entirely. However, for a number of reasons, these are not normal circumstances. Because of these… unique circumstances you were deemed most fit for this mission. Your primary objectives are to find him and make contact, preferably convince him to return and, failing that, establish a reliable mode of correspondence. Kakashi will brief you on the specifics."
"Well," Kakashi began, "until we get a lead there's not much we can investigate, so Jiraiya-sama will be handling that for the moment. Once he finds something he'll send word at which point we will join him," he explained. "Until then we will be training. Any questions?"
"Um why were we chosen for this?" Sakura asked, "We aren't trackers. Sure we have your ninken but wouldn't one of the scouting or tracker teams be more appropriate?"
"Were it any other gennin? Yes. However, Naruto is not any other gennin. Make no mistake, if Naruto feels threatened he will disappear and there will be no telling how long it will take for him to show up again," Kakashi explained, his tone deadly serious.
Sakura's face contorted in confusion, "What do you mean "disappear" sensei? This is Naruto we're talking about, he wears florescent orange, he can't be that hard to find."
"On the contrary Sakura, Naruto can be very hard to find," Kakashi contradicted.
"But-" Sakura began, only for Sasuke to interrupt her.
"Think about it Sakura, he escaped the village during one of the highest alerts in our history completely undetected, with a hostage."
"Correct. Naruto has extremely advance skills in infiltration and evasion with an in depth knowledge of tracking and how to counter it. His choice of clothing allows him to fade into a crowd with a simple henge, hiding in plain sight, and that's if you are able to find him in the first place," Kakashi explained.
"Oh, come on sensei, he can't be that good," Sakura mumbled, thinking he was exaggerating.
"Did Naruto ever tell you how he became a gennin?" he asked, Sakura shook her head, "He infiltrated the Hokage tower and stole the Scroll of Seals without being detected until the Sandaime stumbled across him, and he still escaped. Add to that his talent for Kage Bunshin and his extensive experience in the field from his pranking carrier and he is one of the most difficult people to find that you will ever meet," he explained, leaving the two gennin flabbergasted. "Because of this our best, and possibly only, chance would be to approach him in a manner as non-threatening as possible, essentially we get him to come to us, that's why us specifically," Kakashi explained.
"Because we're his team?" Sakura asked, starting to see where this was going.
"It's not quite that simple, but that is a very large part of it," the silver haired jounin explained before elaborating, "Naruto's scared, he doesn't know exactly what Konoha's reaction will be, so he will assume the worst until proven otherwise. If we were to send a hunter team or even another gennin team he would assume they were hostile he would go to ground. We are familiar, he knows us, and more importantly he knows how to react to us so he will be more likely to give us a chance to talk to him. "
"Then why not just send you sensei?" Sakura asked.
"Think about it Sakura, a single Jounin could be misinterpreted as any of a list of possibilities, for example the fact that we sent only one, highly skilled, ninja could be viewed by someone in his position as an attempt to remain undetected in order to ambush him. On the other hand, a jounin and two gennin would appear more open, as though we aren't trying to hide our presence from him."
"And since we're his old team he'd be more likely to trust us," Sakura concluded.
"Exactly," Kakashi said, nodding.
Naruto was gone… how in the nine hells had that happened?
If someone had told him six months ago that Naruto of all people would leave the village for any reason, he would have had them committed. Naruto was loyal to a fault. Hell, he was sure that if he had turned into some homicidal psycho out to burn the village to the ground Naruto still would have tried to save him… and he probably would have succeeded.
It was just the kind of person Naruto was.
But it had happened and Naruto was gone.
What Sasuke couldn't figure out was the why. Why had Naruto left? Why now?
Sasuke was drawn out of his thoughts as he became aware of a rather insistent foot tapping infront of him. He cringed mentally, he was not looking forward to this conversation…
Well, he couldn't avoid her forever.
Glancing up, he found Sakura standing infront of him, arms crossed as she glared down at him.
"Um…hi?" he greeted uncertainly.
"Hi?" Sakura hissed, "Hi? That's all you have to say?"
"Yes?" he asked uncertainly. What did she want him to say? Yo, lets just forget that I knocked you out and left you on a bench before running off to one of our home's greatest "enemies" and got most of our friends sent to Urgent Care. Yeah, that would go over really well.
"You knocked me out and ran away without telling us why! You ran off to Orochimaru! You almost killed Naruto, and that's the best you've got?" she shrieked.
"Hn..." Sasuke grunted, trying to stall for time by looking away from her moodily, hoping to trigger the fangirl in her and give him more time to think of an answer.
"You... ASSHOLE!" Sakura screamed, hitting him with a vicious uppercut that sent him somersaulting through the air.
'What the-' Sasuke wondered. Sakura had just hit him? Sakura had hit him! And it hurt? What the hell?
As he was flying up into the tree's branches, he realized that he should have taken his mother's advice that time. After all, would apologizing have hurt anything other than his pride? He was fairly certain it would have hurt a lot less than the current amount of pain in his jaw.
"Shannaro!" Sakura cried, appearing in front of Sasuke before delivering a punishing right hook to his jaw.
'When the hell did she get so strong?' Sasuke wondered as he bounced along the ground. 'Oh right, she trained with Tsunade...' he remembered just as he felt his assailant grip the back of his shirt and fling him into a tree.
"Why?" Sakura demanded, appearing in front of him again, her hand clamped around his throat.
"Wh-what?" Sasuke choked, still dazed as he tried to break her grip.
"Why?" Sakura screamed, throwing him to the ground and straddling his chest, pinning his arms with her thighs.
"Why did you have to leave?" she cried.
"Why didn't you let us help you?" she sobbed.
On and on it went, Sakura beating her former crush black and blue until she finally collapsed onto him, completely exhausted. For the longest time, they lay there. Sasuke was too hurt to move, Sakura too tired.
"Why did you thank me?" Sakura whispered finally.
"You cared," he replied hoarsely.
"That's it? All this crap and I get a two word answer?" she asked.
"I've had a long day and you just beat the shit out of me. Forgive me if I'm not feeling preachy at the moment," he muttered sarcastically.
"Why didn't you fight back?"
"I deserved it," he replied, not meeting her gaze.
"You just don't want to admit that I got you," Sakura snickered.
"Hn," Sasuke grunted.
Yes, I know it's short but this chp was never going to be anything epic so meh.