Kat: Sorry to my FAITHFUL readers that I have not updated in so long! Also sorry that I changed my username! To Gabriel Nichole. Bleh bleh bleh. Enjoy, this extremly short chapter. the next one I promise will be longer!!!
"So...what do babies eat?" Goku asked, bouncing Naruto lightly on his knee. It was morning, a few days after finding out the mystery baby's name, and Goku was with Naruto and Hakkai in the kitchen.
"Babies eat baby food, Goku. But little Naruto is a toddler. So that is irrelevant." Hakkai said, "I'm making him some food right now."
Goku pouted and hugged Naruto. "You see, Naruto? Hakkai can be mean sometimes."
Baby Naruto gave Goku a skeptical look. He petted Goku's nose. "Ss ok, daa daa.," he crooned. "Yer na stoopid."
Goku sighed and leaned back, lifting Naruto above him. "You are too smart for your own good." he admonished the baby.
Naruto gurgled happily and waved his pudgy arms around. "Pane, pane! I'm a pane!"
The door opened to the kitchen and Gojyo walked in. "Oh really? Taking after dear daa daa already?" he joked.
Goku glared at him. "Shut up, you h2o asshole."
"Why don't you, you-"
"You two!" Hakkai admonished loudly. "Don't curse in front of the baby!"
Goku looked down at Naruto; "Sorry, Naru-chan." He picked him up and rubbed their faces together. "I apologize!"
Hakkai smiled as the baby Naruto gurgled happily. But inwardly, he frowned. Who would harm such a sweet child? And go to such extreme's to do it? I mean, if it was a demon who attacked it, it would make sense, but...
"Hakkai, what are you thinking of?" Gojyo asked, catching the strange look hidden in Hakkai's eye's.
Hakkai looked up at him, surprised, and let his smile fade a bit. "I was just wondering who could have hurt the child. I mean, Goku, you said that when you found the child, you could smell two distinctive types of blood, right?"
Goku looked up at Hakkai and held Naruto tighter. "Uh, yeah. It was Naruto's blood and someone else's."
"Well, then whoever left him there was wounded as well." Sanzo said from the doorway to the kitchen in Hakkai's room. "Which means there actually might have been three people there."
"Maybe..." Gojyo mused. "We should go back to where Goku found the kid and investigate."
Hakkai nodded. "That may be best." he said. "We might find something out there."
Goku looked down at Naruto, who was watching Hakkai and Gojyo carefully. "...what if he doesn't want you to find anything?" he asked quietly.
Sanzo looked at him. "You say anything, monkey?"
Goku looked up at him a strange expression on his face. "No..." he said. "Just...we should eat first."
Sanzo was silent as he studied Goku's face. "Sure. Let's eat."
"What do you mean Naruto's missing?!" Tsunade bellowed.
Sakura and Sai winced. Sai stepped forward. "We lost him on our mission. He ran off to chase after Sasuke who had broken away from the main group, and though we searched high and low, we were unable to find either of them." he explained in his neutral voice.
Tsunade looked angry - scratch that, she looked furious - but her anger slowly melted away into regret, and she slumped down into her seat.
"Lady Tsunade..." Sakura started hesitantly. "Sai and I...we'd like to put together a search team."
Tsunade looked up at them, a serious expression masking her face. "...Explain."
"We'd like to put together a search team, so we can comb the area better." Sai explained, taking up where Sakura had left off. "We might find some clue as to where he went...or whom he went with. Or even...his body." He finished quietly, eyes dulling with each horrid word.
Tsunade's eyes narrowed dangerously. "Are you insinuating that Naruto might be dead?" she asked softly.
Sakura and Sai couldn't meet her eyes. "No..." Sakura whispered. "We don't believe that."
Sai nodded slowly. "He's still out there. I can feel it, but..."
"But what?" Shizune asked, coming up from behind Tsunade's chair. "What is it, Sakura? Sai?"
"...Sasuke..." Sakura said softly, her eyes full of pain. "He told us that...that..." She covered her mouth with her hand.
"He told us that he'd made sure that we'd never find Naruto again." Sai said quietly. "And he threw down Naruto's torn and bloody jacket."
Tsunade hissed low in her throat, and her hands clenched tighter together. "...who do you have in mind?" she asked.
"Well..." Sakura started.
"Are you sure it was this bush, Goku?" Hakkai asked politely, pointing to the bush in front of the group.
"Positive!" Goku exclaimed, bouncing baby Naruto on his knee.
"That's what you said about the last eighty bushes, you stupid monkey!" Gojyo snapped.
Goku and Naruto glared at him. "Ba' Go-Jo" Naruto said. "Ba', ba', ba'!"
Goku smirked and hugged Naruto tighter. "Yeah, bad Gojyo!"
Gojyo growled at them both, before he was cut off by Hakkai.
"Wait...let me look." he said calmly. He moved forward cautiously, then peered into the bush. "Nothing." he said finally, shrugging.
"Damnit, Goku!" Gojyo yelled. "Stop leading us around!"
"Do you even remember where you found the baby, monkey?" Sanzo asked harshly.
Goku looked defensive. "Look, I'm sorry! When I found him, I was kind of panicked, and..." he trailed off, a weird look coming over his face. "...There!" he exclaimed, taking off.
"Goku!" Hakkai shouted, chasing after him. Gojyo and Sanzo followed after them quickly.
"Here!" Goku said finally stopping in front of a bush. "This is the bush!" he cried proudly.
The others caught up quickly, and while Goku was preoccupied with the bush, they looked around.
"My god..." Hakkai whispered, looking around with fascinated horror.
The tree's around them were charred and broken. The grass was burnt up and shriveled, and a lot of ground had been upset. There was particularly a giant crater in the area just by the bush Goku had found Naruto in.
"Goku...why didn't you tell us about this?" Gojyo whispered, to awed to insult the boy.
Goku looked around and frowned. "Well...I guess I didn't notice because I was so focused on Naruto." he said slowly.
"Didn't notice my ass, Goku!" Gojyo snapped. "A perpetually blind person would have noticed! God, it looks like a tornado tore through here!"
Sanzo walked over and inspected a tree. "Maybe. If that tornado were made of flames, that is."
Hakkai looked around at the grass. "Yes, the earth does seem a bit charred."
Goku threw up his free arm. "Well, sue me for not inspecting the area! I kind of had other things on my mind!" He tightened his grip on Naruto. "Like, you know, the debris."
Hakkai walked over to him and put a comforting hand on his head. "It's okay Goku." He turned to the others. "Let's get out of here. Before something comes looking for the...debris."
"I think Hakkai is right." Sanzo said. "We need to discuss this elsewhere."
The four all nodded in agreement and left the area.
"The team will be made of Sakura, Sai, Kiba, Neji, and Shikamaru." Tsunade said. "Shikamaru will, of course, be in charge. Your objective is one you all mutually want - find Naruto Uzumaki."
The five gathered in Tsunade's office all nodded gravely, the disappearance of their friend weighing heavy on their minds.
"Where were you guys, anyway?" Kiba asked. "Where are we going?"
"You're going to a place called 'China'." Tsunade said. "A hidden village there needed our help with an attack by Sasuke and his brigade. We sent Sakura, Sai, and Naruto to them, and only Sakura and Sai came back."
Shikamaru frowned. "Isn't China across the ocean?"
"Yes, it is. But we have portals in other villages that take us to villages over there. There is one in the Sand Village, for example. I'm sure the Kazekage will be willing to help."
Sakura spared this comment a small smile, and stepped forward. "So...are we to go now?" she asked.
Tsunade nodded. "And be careful...we don't know the terrain in China as well as we want to. And in China...things are very different."
"How different?" Shikamaru asked cautiously.
Tsunade was quiet for a long time, then looked over at Shizune.
Shizune nodded and stepped forward. "You see, children...in China...there are these things called Demons..."