Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto.
A/N: I was finally able to finish this chapter. It was halfway done like four months ago but my dad took my laptop and it broke when I got it back. I have a Mac now. So anyway, here's the new chapter of Existence. A few more characters will be introduced, but not 'till the end. Anyway, I may be a bit rusty, but R&R if you can. Enjoy.
Tsunade sighed, rubbing her temples in frustration. She had never been so busy or more stressed in her entire life. She had never, in her entire life, ever wanted or thought to be hokage. The only reason she took the job was out of respect for her dear departed sensei. Though, even if she wouldn't admit it, she knew she was the only one who could take on the job. Still, she would much rather be at some casino or bar drinking and gambling the night away. She groaned when she realized that time wouldn't come for a long, long time.
Her sensei had left her a lot of problems to deal with, that's for sure. Her old teammate, the now deceased Orochimaru, had destroyed more than half the village in his attack. Everyone was busy with reconstruction, and even the youngest of men were helping rebuild the damaged houses and streets. Another big issue was the amount of injured who were being cared for in the Konoha hospitals, all of which were full. She also had to make room for the injured sand ninja, who had been forgiven after she had found out they had been tricked by Orochimaru and their Kazekage had been killed. The remaining able sand ninjas had also agreed to help rebuild Konoha in gratitude for their forgiveness, hospitality, and general acceptance of the public. But there were so many injured to take care of that some homes had to be given to the patients temporarily until doctors were able to see them. Tsunade silently thanked the ninja who died during the attack. Those who gave their lives to protect Konoha, and those who attacked it, still had to be put in body bags and buried. Tsunade eyed the huge stack of paper on her desk. She growled to herself. She could never forget the huge amount of paperwork she had to deal with regarding everything that had happened. Complaints, announcements, apologies from the Sand village, papers regarding the number of those injured and those who died, papers regarding those who had to be taken care of, papers regarding what was destroyed and what was still intact, all of them had to read, addressed, and signed. Tsunade resisted the incredibly strong urge to bang her head against the wall.
It wasn't all bad though. She was relieved that the villagers had accepted the Sand and forgave them for what they did. Though a few still held grudges, most believed it was Orochimaru blackmailing the Sand instead of making a deal with him which was what really happened. People were daydream believers. Tsunade was also extremely grateful for those in Wave, their most recent ally, who had sent some of their best workers to help in the reconstruction. Tsunade later found out that the ambassador Wave had sent, Issac, had notified the village via messenger hawk and asked for the help. The workers were eager, saying that they owed Konoha for the help, or rather, the help that one person provided. They had said that without Naruto, their new bridge wouldn't have been built and they would still work under Gato.
Tsunade frowned. That was a more personal issue, but one that caused the most stress.
Naruto had to be found. He had confessed to killing the Hyuuga elders in his letter, and he had given an excuse to be killed in doing so. She had heard ninjas anticipating the hunt, hoping to be sent out to kill the one they had wanted to kill for so long. Those who hated the now missing nin prayed for his death, be it by Konoha ninja or through nature. Tsunade could only imagine how the boy was faring out by himself. Well, he had one other person with him. Anna, his adoptive daughter, had been taken with him. No one really cared if she died or lived. It was Naruto's blood they were truly after.
Truthfully, there was no proof to assume Naruto's crime was unjustified. Those who were close to him speculated that the Hyuuga elders, the people responsible for taking Anna and isolating Naruto, were the ones who had provoked Naruto to do what he did. Tsunade herself wanted to believe that was true, but there was no proof. The only clues they had were those Hyuugas left alive, most of which provided hardly any facts, but blamed Naruto and cursed his very existence.
Their biggest clue was probably the head Hyuuga elder who, unfortunately, was left mentally unstable from his encounter with Naruto. No therapy worked on the man, and even those of the Yamanaka clan, who were experts of the mind and brain, had trouble probing the man's head for information. The Yamanaka's had explained, or tried to explain, that the man had created some sort of mental barrier in his mind that they just couldn't get past. Inochi Yamanaka had said if they could probe a mentally unstable man's head with no problem there would be a lot less crazy people in the world. This is why probing a dead man's body was so easy. There was no activity, no resistance. The man couldn't blatantly reject a foreign presence in his mind. The human brain can be a man's strongest tool, and it was hard to crack the barrier that held all that information.
"Tsunade, you look so worked up. Maybe a massage would help you feel more…"
The new hokage raised her fist.
Tsunade looked up at her old teammate. Jiraiya stood there with a large smile on his face. The Godaime groaned as she rested the side of her head on her new desk.
"Go away Jiraiya. I'm not in the mood." Tsunade groaned, turning away from her teammate.
"C'mon. That's no way to act when your dear friend is trying to cheer you up. I took time away from my busy schedule to visit you." Jiraiya smiled. "I remember how stressful my favorite student was when he became hokage."
"HE probably didn't have as much to deal with as I do now." Tsunade grumbled. "Do you not see this stack of papers?" She gestured to the pile next to her.
"He used to complain about paperwork too." Jiraiya smiled. He frowned. "I hear you have a meeting with the council about what to do about our missing ninja."
"Ugh, don't remind me." Tsunade mumbled. "It won't matter what I say to them. You know it Jiraiya, all they want is to see him dead. It doesn't matter if I'm the hokage, they don't care about my opinion on this matter at all."
"Even so, you're not showing the backbone sensei wanted you to have." Jiraiya said, crossing his arms. "It's one of the reasons he chose you as his successor, you know. There are already teams mobilizing without notifying you. They all want to be the first to catch Naruto."
"All those idiots forgot what Naruto did to Orochimaru it seems." Tsunade sighed. "They're all ignoring the fact that he's a credible threat now. They could die if they aren't careful."
"I can't say that I really like you talking about him like that…"
"It's a truth that I can't deny at this point." Tsunade shrugged. Her eyes narrowed as she looked at her teammate. "I'm hokage now Jiraiya. I can't simply ignore the fact that Naruto isn't a threat. Trust me, I know the kid has a good heart and tries to do what's best for those around him, but that doesn't mean I don't believe he won't cause harm to those around him. He's in a terrible state right now, what with the Kyuubi breaking out so much recently. I'll defend him, but I can't say that he's safe to be around without any doubt in my heart."
"Jiraiya, he killed Orochimaru. Naruto beat him until his head exploded, and crushed his strongest subordinates like they were flies." Tsunade said as she rubbed her temples. "Orochimaru was the strongest rouge nin we knew, and Naruto killed him so easily. You and I know that under the Kyuubi's influence, he'd probably have a pretty good chance of killing us too."
"Too be fair, Orochimaru's hands had been sealed by our sensei before he died, so maybe if he was able to defend himself…" Jiraiya argued.
"I can't really say that I think it would have made much of a difference." Tsunade sighed.
Jiraiya watched as the slug sannin as she turned her head and looked out the window. Tsunade overlooked Konoha village with a wistful look on her face. She took her time examining what had been destroyed and what was left. She glanced at the clusters of people scattered around the village, working hard to rebuild their village. Tsunade sighed and turned back towards the toad sannin. She folded her fingers together and rested her elbows on the table. Her eyes bored into Jiraiya. He stared back.
"I'm the hokage of Konoha village, and I can't let my feelings get in the way of protecting my village." Tsunade said. "If worse comes to worse, we'll have no choice. Just because I care for Naruto, doesn't mean I will put him before Konoha and its villagers."
Jiraiya stared at Tsunade with a deadpan expression. One of the corners of his mouth slowly pulled itself up. He let out a small chuckle.
"Well, I'm happy that you're so serious about protecting the village." Jiraiya smiled. "But I'm sad that you're starting to feel like Naruto is our enemy."
"I don't think that…" Tsunade said quietly.
"I'll be doing some hunting myself." Jiraiya said as he turned around and stepped towards the door. "Not just hunting for the boy, but for some information. There's rumors floating around, Tsunade, and I'm worried that some might be true."
"Rumors…?" Tsunade questioned.
"I plan to leave the village soon. I'll stick around for a little while longer, but not for long." Jiraiya said as he opened the door. "I'll send you a notice if I find anything. Bye!"
The door shut.
"What's going on inside that head of his…" Tsunade sighed. "Shizune! Come in here!"
She needed a beer.
Naruto ran through the demolished streets of the village, hearing crashes close behind him. He held Anna against his chest with one hand while trying his best to carry the unconscious man on his back with the other. He could hear the laughter of the assaulting demon container behind him.
"Come on! It's no fun if you run away from me!" The boy cackled behind him.
Naruto couldn't believe this. He had encountered a demon container, exactly what he was trying to avoid. And, as his luck would have it, Jigara just so happened to be the container of the five-tailed demon dog, the Gobi no Houkou. In the ten minutes he had been running away from the guy, he had learned two things about him. The first, was that this guy loved to fight, and the second…
…He was totally and completely insane.
Not insane like Gaara had been when he had used Shukaku's power, but anyone could see that the teen wasn't right in the head. He had been talking to himself throughout the battle, yelling so Naruto could hear him. He laughed every time he attacked and made childish sound effects when he destroyed or hit something. Hell, the guy was even singing. He would alternate between humming to himself and breaking out in song, clearly enjoying himself. Naruto could not say he liked things as much as the happy Gobi container was.
Naruto knew he had to come up with some plan of action, he just couldn't think of one. It was kind of hard with this crazy guy trailing him, asking bizarre questions out of the blue. Jigara had tried to strike up a conversation several times during his assault. It was also hard to think with he constant ticking in his head. Both were driving Naruto crazy.
He darted behind a fallen building, almost dropping his unconscious cargo in doing so. He set the man on the ground. He held Anna to his chest. The girl shook with fear.
"D-Daddy…" The girl started to weep.
"Shh… we need to be quiet now Anna." Naruto shushed her. "We don't want him to find us." He didn't know if she got the message, but she didn't make a sound.
"Come out, come out, wherever you are!" Jigara said in a sing-song voice. He threw himself at a wall, tearing it to the ground. "You're not over here."
Naruto thought quickly. He couldn't fight him, for fear of Anna or the unconscious guy getting hurt. He had to get away. He could trying slowing the container down or maybe tire him out. He'd have to go with the former for now.
"Kage Bunshin no Jutsu!"
"Hm? Oh, so you do have some fight in you!" Jigara smiled gleefully when he saw ten Narutos hop in front of him. "That makes me happy."
"Charge!" One of the Narutos commanded.
They all rushed at Jigara, chakra claws aimed at him. Jigara grinned and made a few hand signs.
"Katon, Housenka no Jutsu!"
Fireballs spewed from Jigara's mouth, hitting all the Narutos dead on. Jigara was surprised when the clones recovered quickly and rushed as him again.
"Huh… you guys didn't go poof. Guess you have more endurance than regular clones." The Gobi container observed with mild interest. "Guess I'll use something stronger."
The land rose and shifted, eventually taking the form of a giant dragon. It met the Narutos head on, exploding into rocks and debris as it made contact with one of them. Jigara listened to the poofing sound of the Narutos dispelling as the rocks fell on them.
"How come I only heard nine poofs?"
Suddenly a hand shot up from the ground grabbing Jigara's ankle. It pulled him underground, burying him in the earth. Jigara looked up through half-lidded eyes at the Naruto that stared down at him.
"So… are you the real one then?" Jigara asked. "Is this seriously all you can do?"
"I don't want to fight you." Naruto replied. "I don't want any trouble." He burst in a cloud of smoke.
"A clone." Jigara mumbled. "I hate it when they run away."
Meanwhile, Naruto was trying his best to find a place to hide. The ticking was ringing in his ears. He had to find some place where it would stop. Jigara could find him easily if he had the same way of detecting other demon containers.
It was then that the sound of rushing water became apparent to him. Naruto turned to see a giant spiraling ball of water heading straight for him. His eyes widened as he tried to pick up the pace. It was no use though. He couldn't outrun it while he was carrying someone else. He held tightly onto Anna with his back to the water. He took it on full blast.
"I would suggest sending an elite squad of Jounin to go after the demon. That should take care of him."
"Shouldn't we consider sending more men? For all we know, the demon could have broken the seal already. We should send a large unit of our finest to make sure the boy is put down."
"We have to do this quietly, don't forget. We can't let anyone know that the demon has escaped. We shouldn't make the group too big."
"What if he's made his way to another village now? If he causes any trouble Konoha will take the blame!"
Tsunade listened to the council argue. She sighed. Just a few days ago she was listening to them bicker about how to container Naruto. Now she was listening to them come up with ways to kill him. Oh, why did things have to come to this?
"Hokage-sama. What is your suggestion?"
Tsunade composed herself. At least they were asking for her opinion now.
"I think we should send a small group of ANBU out to search for the target. With Wave as our new ally I think it would be best if notify them as well. We wouldn't want our newest, and first, ally to be harmed by the target because we allowed it to escape."
She almost threw up on her words. She couldn't believe she was speaking about Naruto this way.
"Do you agree with this plan of action, Wave ambassador?" Tsunade asked.
Issac was also attending the meeting. As Wave's ambassador, he had to make sure he knew everything he needed to know to make sure the container couldn't be a threat to his village. Even if it pained Issac to think that Naruto could be called a threat.
"I think it would be best." Issac nodded, turning towards the new hokage. "I couldn't bear to see any of our people hurt." He turned towards his bodyguard. "Could you see to it that a messenger hawk is sent?"
"It will be done." Zabuza, known by a different name to everyone else in the room, nodded and left to complete the errand.
"I'll send some soldiers to Wave. They can search for the target while they are there." Tsunade said. "Will that be acceptable?"
"Your kindness is much appreciated, hokage-sama." Issac smiled. "If it wouldn't be a burden on you, Wave accepts your aid."
"Then with your permission." Tsunade nodded towards him. She turned towards an ANBU next to her. "See to it that a formidable team is mobilized and sent to Wave."
"Yes, hokage-sama." The ANBU bowed and disappeared in a puff of smoke.
"No disrespect to Wave, but our people's safety must come before theirs." One council member said. "We have a demon inside our borders, and we must decide who we should send to dispose of the boy."
"We've already notified our border guards of the target's disappearance." Tsunade said. "I don't think we have to rush in making a team. Naruto… I mean the target can't defeat or sneak past our men."
"But the demon could be in control!" One council member pointed out. "That demon could easily get past our border guards, no matter how skilled any of them could be!"
"Indeed. It would be best if we dispose of the boy as quickly as possible."
"No. We need to keep this quiet, as all of us know it would be bad if any of the other nations got word of the target's disappearance." Tsunade replied. "We wait until he reveals himself then apprehend him."
"No! We need someone to get the demon now!"
"We can't let the beast loose in our borders!"
"What if the other nations have already figured it out?"
"Peace, fellow councilmen, peace!"
Everyone turned towards the one who had spoken. Homura, a long time member of the council, had his hand raised. He slowly put it down.
"Rest assured, Kotaru and I have taken care of this issue. We have decided that ROOT will help us take care of this problem. Danzo has already formed a team and is ready to send them out at any time." Homura said calmly.
"Danzo!?" Tsunade exclaimed, rising from her chair. "I didn't approve of this."
"We didn't need your approval to make this decision, Hokage-sama." Kotaru said. The old councilwoman looked at Tsunade with a hard gaze. "The council has rights too. In certain cases, we are allowed to make decisions that would ensure Konoha's safety without the hokage's approval."
"Did it have to be ROOT? Why Danzo?!" Tsunade yelled.
"Tsunade-sama, calm yourself." Shizune whispered from beside her. Tsunade growled and sunk back into her seat.
"I'm sure that we can all agree that Danzo's methods are, to say the least… unorthodox… and it is one of the reasons he was taken off the council." Homura stated. "But he runs ROOT very well, and his men have never failed in finishing a mission. They are efficient, quiet, quick, and can get the job done."
"His men may finish missions quickly, but his soldiers' methods are as unorthodox as Danzo himself!" Tsunade lashed out, losing her temper again. "Naruto is just a boy! Those ROOT members will tear him apart!"
"Tsunade, we know you have just recently become hokage, but you must set aside your personal feelings and do what's in the village's best interest." Homura said sternly.
"We know you care deeply for the boy, but he cannot be allowed to cause harm to our nation." Kotaru said. "I'm sorry, but the decision has been made. You cannot change it. Still, if it would put your mind at ease I have asked Danzo to capture the boy alive, not kill him."
"This is for Konoha, and it must be done with or without your permission." Homura said. "Is the rest of the council satisfied with this decision?"
"It is for the best."
"For the people's safety."
"The demon must be stopped!"
Tsunade growled under her breath as she listened to the entire council agree with the two old hags.
"I believe that settles it then." Homura nodded. "Then, with your permission, hokage-sama…?"
"Ugh… council dismissed." Tsunade groaned. She turned towards her secretary. "Shizune, get me a drink."
"B-But Tsunade-sama, you've already had six bottles this afternoon alone, and I don't think you should-"
"Right away!" Shizune scurried off to find what her master asked for.
"Crap…" Tsunade moaned. She had said herself she would put the village before Naruto, but it felt so wrong. Would she have to act like this all the time?
"I know how it feels."
The new hokage looked up. She saw Wave's ambassador smiling at her.
"It's hard for two people who hold Naruto in such high regards to think of him as our enemy, isn't it?" He smiled.
"Uh… Issac, right?"
"What do you think of Naruto?" Tsunade asked.
"I think of him as someone who never gives up and always tries to do the right thing." Issac smiled. "He is very kind, and save me, my father, and all of my friends. I think he is incapable of commiting such crimes."
"I think the same way." Tsuande sighed. "I know he's a good kid, he just doesn't have the support he should have. Why can't people see him the way I see him…?"
"A few people do." Issac said. "You, me, and all his friends. He's just lost his way, but we can't seem to help him."
"It's just so difficult for me…" Tsunade sighed. "I don't know what to do…"
"…You know, Wave has a unique alcoholic beverage that I think you will enjoy. One bottle is all it takes to forget your troubles. If you want, I could…"
"I need it."
Naruto slowly opened his eyes. He coughed, water coming out. His back felt light and his arms were empty. His eyes widened.
He turned and sighed with relief. She was slowly crawling towards him. Completely dry. He had managed to protect her from getting hit by the water blast, she must have been knocked from his arms when he landed. Bar a few smudges of dirt on her face, she was relatively unharmed. Naruto looked behind her. The guy he had been carrying was wet, lying a few feet away. Naruto winced. Oh yeah. He had turned his back to the water, forgetting that there was a guy on his back. Oops.
He slowly got to his feet, picking up Anna as he stood up. He took a look at his surroundings. That water must have traveled far. He was on the outskirts of the town. The buildings behind him had been ripped and torn apart by the rapid surge of water. That container sure was strong.
The ticking was there. Naruto held Anna to his chest, looking around frantically. He was close, very close. Why couldn't he see him?
Naruto jumped out of the way just as Jigara shot up like a rocket from the earth, landing a few feet away from Naruto. He smiled, showing his sharp fangs.
"How's it going?" Jigara smiled.
"Leave me alone." Naruto growled, hugging Anna closer. She shivered in his arms.
"Man, this is disappointing." Jigara sighed. He kicked the earth beneath him. "It's no fun fighting someone who doesn't fight back. I thought I'd get a good rush from fighting the nine-tailed demon container, but all I get is this? Man, two-tails was way more fun than you!"
"Two-tails?" Naruto gasped. He had fought another demon container before?
"Oh yeah. I was trying to get into Kumogakure when I met up with her. Who would've thought a demon container would be on border patrol?" Jigara chuckled. "Anyway, after I had my fun playing with the cat I was going to cut her down but…"
"Then the eight-tailed beast had to show up." Jigara sighed. "What a killjoy. He got the one up on me and I had to run. Man, the eight-tailed demon beast is scary!"
Naruto's eyes widened. He had fought Orochimaru?
"You fought with Hachibi?" Naruto asked.
"Hachibi? What the hell is that?" The five-tailed demon container raised an eyebrow. "I fought the two-tailed demon cat, Nibi no Bakeneko. The eight-tailed beast is the demon Ox, Hachibi no Kyogyu."
Naruto's eyes widened. What was this guy saying? Orochimaru was the host, no, former host of the Hachibi no Hachimata, the demon snake. The eight-tailed demon. Was he saying there was another eight-tailed beast?
"That's not right." Naruto said. "I fought the eight-tailed demon."
"You did? You've been to Kumogakure too?" Jigara asked.
"No." Naruto replied. "The eight-tailed demon is in the form of a snake called the Hachibi no Hachimata, not Kyogyu."
"Huh? That doesn't make any sense." Jigara scoffed. "There aren't two eight-tailed demon beasts."
This made no sense. Was one of the two fake? Or did two really exist? If that's true, then were there other doubles of the other demon beasts as well.
"Gah! I've been distracted!" Jigara sputtered. He crouched down on all fours, licking his lips. "Talking is boring! Let's fight!"
"I said no, leave us alone." Naruto glared at him, backing away from the boy.
"Look, either you fight me, or I tear up that baby you seem so fond of." Jigara growled, his voice changing from humorous to threatening.
"…!" Naruto's eyes widened. He glared at the Gobi container. He slowly walked over to the unconscious guy and set Anna down beside him.
"…Mii?" Anna looked up at her father curiously.
"It's going to be okay Anna." Naruto smiled. "Just stay here. I'll take care of this guy then we can get going, okay?"
"…'Kay!" Anna chirped happily. Naruto smiled at her. He turned and made his way over to Jigara.
"I'm ready." Naruto said.
"Good!" Jigara smiled, losing his threatening tone and reverting back to his carefree one. "Before we start, I'm curious. What's your demon's power?"
"I don't know. I don't use his powers." Naruto said as his chakra claws formed around his fingers.
"You don't? That's a surprise!" Jigara said. "I always use mine!"
"Always?" Naruto's eyes narrowed.
It was true. This kid looked like he had gone into partial shift many times before. There were many inhuman features on him Naruto couldn't find them all. It made him wonder…
Was this Jigara or the Gobi he was talking to?
"Are… are you the Gobi?" Naruto asked tentatively.
"Huh? What are you going on about now?" Jigara asked, a bit annoyed by the question.
"I've met other demon containers." Naruto said. Jigara's eyes lit up. "Four, in fact. The three-tailed container had no trouble with her demon. It didn't even speak to her. The four-tailed demon beast was actually friends with its host. The one-tailed demon was trouble for its host though. Its existence made the host's life miserable and he almost turned into the beast. And the eight-tailed beast…" Naruto paused. "…Had completely taken over the host's body. The demon was always in control."
"…What are you getting at?"
"I'm asking you a question." Naruto said. "It's obvious your demon has affected you in more ways in one, so I'll ask you this. Am I talking to Jigara… or the Gobi?"
Jigara just stared at him with an unreadable expressions. Suddenly his shoulders started to shake, a smile spread across his face. Jigara started to laugh. Insanely.
"Friends with the demon? Taking over? I've never heard such crap!" Jigara cackled with mirth. Naruto stared at him.
"I'M THE GOBI'S JAILER! HE'S MY PRISONER!" Jigara screamed. "I USE HIS POWER WHENEVERY I WANT! I DON'T NEED HIS PERMISSION! I'M THE ONE THAT'S IN CONTROL, NOT THE DEMON! AND I LOVE IT!"
Naruto took a defensive stance. Jigara rushed towards him, lightning gathered in his hand.
"FIGHT ME!" Jigara laughed.
"The host controls the demon?" Naruto muttered. Jigara slammed into him.
Shikamaru slept soundly.
"…I said I'm bored."
Shikamaru turned his back to her.
"Wake up pineapple head."
Shikamaru grunted as a Tayuya kicked his back. Shikamaru opened one eye.
"What do you want from me?"
"Give me my flute back."
"Give it back… now…"
"Dammit! Just give me my flute you asshole!"
"You little fu-"
"Oh, would you two knock it off!" Anko yelled at them. Shikamaru and Tayuya winced and shut their mouths. Anko growled to herself as she continued to block Hinata's attacks.
She had been in an extremely bad mood these past few days. Naruto still missing, everyone talking crap about him, Danzo pissing her off, Ibiki couldn't get anything out of the crazy elder or any of the other Hyuugas for that matter, she had just gotten word that they were sending out a team to go find Naruto…
And she couldn't do anything about it.
She hated being coped up in the village when one of her favorite students was out by himself. She knew he was still alive, but he wouldn't be if Danzo's men caught him. She had heard the news from Tsunade that some of the council members had gone behind her back and had asked Danzo to send a team out to get Naruto. She had said they would bring Naruto back alive, but there was no way that was the truth.
Luckily, she had an opportunity. If all went well, she might be able to help the kid after all…
Hinata thrust her palm forward, aiming for Anko's face. The assassin caught her wrist, twisted it and threw Hinata to the ground. She smirked a bit.
"Ow…" Hinata moaned.
"Heh heh." Tayuya chuckled. Shikamaru rolled his eyes.
"Are you okay Hinata?"
"Y-Yeah. I'm fine."
"You kids are improving." Anko smiled. "I'm proud. Maybe I can push you guys a bit harder now.
"Sounds good!" Hinata smiled.
"…Great." Both Shikamaru and Tayuya groaned together. Even with a broken leg, the former sound nin was still forced to take part in their training exercises. She hated it just as much as Shikamaru did.
The foursome turned to see Yamato waving as them. Behind him stood Haku and her team. Shikamaru noticed Anko perk up when she saw Yamato.
"Good to see you Yamato." Anko grinned. "So is everything good to go?"
"Yes. I took care of everything." Yamato smiled.
"Yes!" Anko cheered to herself. Her team looked at her curiously, wondering what she was so happy about. "Now I know I called you here, but what are they doing here?" Anko pointed to the Wave team.
"We just came to say goodbye." Haku smiled.
"You're leaving?" Hinata gasped. "Why?"
"Well, since the papers have been signed and we've become allies of Konoha, we are no longer needed here." Haku smiled. "Tsunade-sama is sending soldiers to our village, so Issac figured that we could go with them so we can get back to the village safely and quickly."
"Why is Tsunade, I mean, the Hokage-sama sending soldiers to your village?" Hinata asked.
"Um…" Haku hesitated. "To… protect us from Naruto. Also so they can search for him around the Wave area."
Everyone fell silent. Naruto's name had become taboo.
"That's… nice of her." Tayuya said, breaking the awkward silence.
"Yes, it is very nice!" Saki added, also wanting to end the silence.
"That's also what I wanted to talk to you guys about." Anko said, turning towards her team. "See, with Orochimaru gone that leaves the Sound village without a leader. Tsunade is sending out a large team to go and put down the remaining sound ninja who are still loyal to Orochimaru."
"I was selected to be a part of the team she made." Yamato continued. "Anko, who heard about this begged me to let her go in my place." He put emphasis on the word begged.
"I did not beg…" Anko mumbled, a bit embarrassed.
"I talked it over with the hokage, and it's been decided that Anko will go in my place."
"Why do you want to go so badly sensei?" Hinata asked.
"Well, it gives me a chance to have some fun with that snake bastard's henchmen." Anko smirked. She sighed. "But it also gives me a chance to look for Naruto. It's a not likely to happen but… I might run into him on my way there."
"Take us with you!" Shikamaru shouted, suddenly standing up. Everyone stared at him in shock.
"I want to go too!" Hinata asserted, determination flashing in her eyes.
"Take me along too!" Tayuya added. Everyone looked at her weirdly. She blushed. "H-Hey, I want to get back at those jerks back at the village too…" She paused. "Plus pineapple head still has my damn flute…"
"Sorry kiddies. It was hard enough convincing Tsunade to let me replace Yamato." Anko smiled sadly. "This is an S-class mission, only ANBU can take part in the mission."
"We've already completed one A-class mission in case you've forgotten." Shikamaru said. "You're not the only one here who wants to find Naruto." Everyone was surprised at his sudden change in attitude.
"Sorry, but this is how it has to be." Anko said sadly. She smiled. "But look at the bright side! Yamato here will be taking my place as your new sensei while I'm gone!"
"Huh?" Her team said in unison.
"I will?" Yamato asked. Apparently he was not informed of this either.
"Yep! So, have fun! See you later Haku! Hope you guys have a safe trip!" Anko chirped. She disappeared in a puff of smoke.
"She's… strange." Azrael mumbled.
"I guess we had better go then." Haku sighed. She waved at them. "Maybe we'll see each other at the chunin exams next year, right?"
"Yes." Hinata nodded. "And hopefully Naruto will be back by that time as well."
"I hope so too." Haku smiled. She had her team disappeared from view.
"So, our crazy sensei is going to be gone for a while then." Shikamaru said, smiling a bit. "Looks like we can take it easy for a while."
"Oh, I wouldn't say that."
They all turned towards Yamato.
"Anko is always telling me how fun it is to work you all to the bone and watch you suffer." Yamato smiled oddly. The trio paled. "I wish to experience this peculiar pleasure."
The trio shuddered at the face Yamato made.
Naruto coughed up some blood. His ears were ringing and he gasped for breath. His shoulder was bleeding and his hands were burned. He jerked involuntarily when he felt that lingering electrical sting. He heard Anna sobbing behind him. He growled and tried to hoist himself up from the ground. He couldn't move.
"Man… Is this all you are?"
Naruto looked up at Jigara. The demon container regarded him with a cold glance.
"I hate weak opponents." He growled. "And I hate it when my expectations aren't met."
Earth shifted and wrapped around his leg, coating it with sharp, jagged rock. He kicked Naruto in the stomach. The Kyuubi container cried out when one of the sharp rocks cut across his abdomen.
"C'mon! Stand up!" Jigara yelled, kicking Naruto again. He sent the boy flying a few feet.
"Gah!" Naruto grunted. The pain was unbearable.
"I said stand up!" Jigara shouted.
The earth around his leg dropped back down to the ground and was replaced with an electrical spark. He kicked Naruto again, sending volts of electricity through his body. Naruto jerked and turned as he went through a mini seizure. Anna continued to cry.
"Daddy…" She sobbed. Seeing her father in so much pain was unbearable.
Naruto growled. This was the first time he had faced another demon container in partial shift. Was this what it was like for Hachibi when he used partial shift to fight him?
"Pathetic." Jigara grunted. "You don't even have an elemental. You want me to tell you about it?"
Naruto didn't answer. He just glared at him.
"Everyone has an element. Mine is earth." Jigara said. "We can enhance our ninjutsu, taijutsu, and even genjutsu if we use our elemental power. But the Gobi is special in this case, you know why?"
"Each of his tails has an element." Jigara said. "That's how I can use any type of element, not just earth. The first tail is earth, second fire, third water, fourth wind, and the fifth can combine to form anything. Ice, wood, but my favorite is lightning."
Naruto looked up at the demon container. Elements?
"But this isn't what the Gobi specializes in." Jigara stated. "I'll make you suffer for disappointing me in such a way. You ruined my fun, so I'm going to make your death slow and painful."
Naruto's vision became cloudy. His vision warped and changed. His body started to scream in agony. Naruto cried out in pain.
"Genjutsu is what the Gobi no Houkou specializes in." Came Jigara's echoing and laughing voice. "Suffer. I'll make you suffer in this world that I control."
Naruto felt his arms bending, his legs breaking, his body getting cut and torn to shreds. His breathing became sharp and ragged. He cried out again. Any more of this and he would…
Then he felt a tiny shock.
Not a painful shock like Jigara's lightning attacks, but just a small ping and that was it. The feeling after felt relaxing. Naruto vision came back and suddenly he was in the real world again. He felt something on his side.
Anna was clutching his side, crying for her daddy. Naruto's eyes widened. Did she free him from the genjutsu? How?
"What the hell? How did that brat break my genjutsu?" Jigara gasped. "No one has ever broken out of Gobi's genjutsu before!"
"Anna, what did you do?" Naruto asked. She just continued to cry. Naruto could've sword he saw a small spark jump between her tiny hands.
"You know what? Screw this. I'll kill you myself." Jigara shouted. Earth rose up again, wrapping itself around his arm, shaping into a sharp point. "I'll kill you both. You for ruining my fun and the baby girl for breaking my genjutsu."
Naruto gathered the rest of his strength and pushed himself up, grabbing Anna in the process. He ran away from the demon container. He heard Jigara growl.
"Running won't work. You're as good as de-"
An explosion went off behind Naruto. He was thrown into the air from the blast. He turned and landed on his back so Anna wouldn't be hurt. Naruto looked up and saw considerably large crater where Jigara had been a moment before. The said demon container slowly crawled out of it. His eyes were wide.
"What the… who did that?" His whispered. His eyes widened as he spotted something behind Naruto. The blonde looked at what had surprised the Gobi container into silence.
"Little brat… mocking my beautiful artwork… pissing me off… and my partner doesn't even show up?"
The guy Naruto had found and who he had carried on his back was awake. He had a crazy look in his eye and Naruto could tell he was pissed. His one eye that wasn't obscured by his blonde fringe was paying him no attention and was only aware of Jigara. He held a small white ball in his hand. The man smiled sinisterly.
"I don't care what leader-sama says, you'll burn for insulting my art. I'll show you…" He threw the ball at Jigara…
"ART IS A BANG!"
Naruto covered Anna as he saw the ball detonate. But just before he blacked out and before the explosion could sweep him away, he could feel someone grab him and perform a teleportation jutsu.
"Oi, partner, how much longer 'till we get there?"
"About two days away."
"Hm. Leader-sama sure is cruel sending us all the way here on foot. Bet it brings back memories for you though, right?"
"…You talk too much."
"I wonder if the others have finished their errands yet. I still don't see why Zetsu couldn't do it though. He'd get it done a lot faster than us."
"If Leader-sama tells us to do something, we do it, that's it."
"At least we weren't stuck with Tobi. I kind of feel sorry for Konan, don't you?"
"…Like I said, you talk too much."
"Gonna visit your brother when we get there?"
The fish man smirked. He tipped his hat downwards.
"Just making conversation."
"We're almost there." Kisame smiled. His brushed off his black cloak which was covered with red clouds. His accomplice wore the same attire. "Guess we should get started, eh, Itachi?"
The mentioned removed his hat. He opened his eyes which contained the red eyes of the Mangekyo Sharingan.
"Let's get going." Itachi said. "We must see the Nine-tailed Fox."
The two Akatsuki members continued their trek towards the village of Konoha.
A/N: Feels good to be working on this story again. How was this chapter?
Finally. I've gotten all the troublesome chapters over with. With this, I can link all the events together smoothly and work up to the big turning point of the story. I hope you guy will like the surprise I have in store.
Now, I bet you guys are wondering, why are there two eight-tailed demon containers? Which one is the real one? You might have an idea, but you'll be guessing for a while. I probably won't get around to explaining that for quite a few chapters because if I tell you now it would spoil some of the story. Deidara woke up and Itachi and Kisame are headed towards Konoha. But do they know that Naruto's gone? How did Naruto break Gobi's genjutsu? That will be explained next chapter.
Anywho, leave a review and tell me what you thought. Now that I have everything planned out I should have a new chapter soon… maybe.