Disclaimer: Kishimoto, you're going to sell me the rights to Naruto now or else...!!! Sorry. Just kidding. I don't own anything here except for the plot. And the fic. So Meh:P

Me being mad at myself (Again): I'm sorry. I'm a terrible person. I will update everything I have over the weekend, this I swear:D insert deranged laughter here

Author-ness moment: Oh, dear Odin, I REALLY love the plot I made to this one, I hope you do to...You can hate me if you want, go ahead. Flames are welcome-its winter, and my feet could use a nice sit by the fire. So, anyway...REVIEW, DAMMIT! o,0

Ahem! So, yes, without further ado...Walk Like a Shinobi!

Walk Like a Shinobi

The day was hot and humid, and Uzumaki Naruto flopped on the ground with a sigh. Folding his hands behind his head, he stared up at the sky, wishing something would happen. After a moment, when nothing did, the boy sighed again, loudly this time, and then once more for extra effect.

"Oh, for crying out loud!" Naruto shouted, flopping his hands back to his sides and sitting up. "It is so damn boring today!"

The spiky-headed, orange-clad ninja turned his head left and right, looking for something-anything-to take his mind off the complete boredom that threatened to make him lose his mind.

With a yelp, Naruto scrambled to his feet and slid into a hasty fighting stance as a single shuriken, a bit overly large but nothing to big, fell out of nowhere and landed an inch away from where his head had just been.

"The fuck...???" exclaimed the ninja, actually surprised enough to send his mind racing. Who in the bloody...??? Naruto quickly scanned through the list of people who wanted him dead-Crap, it was a long one, too.

The Akatsuki...no, they wanted him alive first, then dead...

Orochimaru...No, he was dead, wasn't he?

Kabuto! He was possessed by Orochimaru's soul! Well, that was an unpleasant thought, wasn't it!?

Naruto skipped over the next on the list-Sasuke-and his brain was thinking faster than he was pondering. Danzou...that would get complicated...Sugietsu, Jugo, and Karin...Dammit! Why did he have so many enemies!?

Abruptly, Naruto's train of thought came to a halt. There was something happening...some cold, evil, chilling sensation creeping over him. Something blank and white and freezing overran his thoughts, and a frightening kind of loathing squeezed at his heart with stony fingers. Whispers worked into his mind, and Naruto felt himself weakening...

The ninja woke up with a start, cold, clammy sweat glistening on his forehead and sticking to his palms. Naruto took a moment to inhale deeply and calm himself, then looked in a surprised way at his hands. The palms were covered not only in sweat, but small red marks shaped like the tips of his fingernails were imprinted on his skin, like he had been clawing at himself during the dream. Slowly, Naruto put his head in his hands and took another shruddering breath.

"Crap," he murmured. Naruto stayed awake, alone in the dark, breathing slowly and waiting until his heart rate slowed before lying back down again and bringing his covers up close to his chin. His chest started to rise and fall slowly, and sleep loosened the boy's muscles as unconsciousness began to take hold of his senses.

Before drifting away back into slumber, Naruto felt the clear thought of remembering something from his dream poke out of the fog of sleep.

The shuriken that had nearly killed him had had nine prongs.

-

Ayame-nee-chan, the girl at the Ichiraku ramen shop, started to clear the many bowls away from where Naruto had been seated at the counter only moments ago. Picking them up and transporting the last stack over to the dishwasher, she looked up at her father. "Otu-san?"

"Hmmm?"

"Did you notice..." she paused, and started scrubbing the first bowl in slow, circular motions. "Something a little off about Naruto-kun today?"

The ramen man hesitated and thought carefully before replying. With a sigh, he drifted over to check on the pot of broth that was steaming and ready to go. "Yes. I did."

"What do you think it is, Otu-san?"

"I don't know," her father turned to look at her, a kind smile crinkling the skin around his eyes. "I'm sure it's nothing. He's probably worried over a girl. You know Naruto."

Slowly, Ayame nodded and wiped her soapy fingers off on her apron. "I suppose that must be it," she said, although she wasn't completely convinced.

"Yeah, must be."

As he turned back to the food, however, the cook's smile deepened to a concerned frown. Naruto had only eaten about eight bowls of ramen for his breakfast. Ayame was right.

Something was very wrong indeed.

-

"Where the crap is he?" Sakura asked annoyedly. She glanced up to check the position of the sun. "That idiot's ten minutes late!"

"I wonder what's keeping him?" Sai mused. Sakura sighed and kicked at a post that was supporting the bridge, only hard enough to make it shiver. She turned to look at the jonin leaning nonchalantly against the railing.

"Well, sensei?" she snapped. "Do you know where Naruto is?"

Kakashi looked up form the novel he had been immersed in and gave Sakura a stare with his one good eye. "No, I don't. How odd. That knucklehead is usually here, ready to yell at me for being late like you are." Sakura mumbled a quick 'shut up, sensei...', and gazed in the direction Naruto always came in.

"But, seriously..." she muttered, showing a little bit of concern. "Where is that guy...???"

Over the next few minutes, the tension of waiting for Naruto grew. Sakura tapped her foot, and then started pacing in small circles before going back to the railing again. Sai flicked his black eyes back and forth, back and forth, trying to get a glimpse of Naruto, or at least a feel of his chakra. Kakashi, book in front of his nose again, showed no outward concern. However, he had stopped making progress on his page, and was simply reading the same sentence, over and over again. The question of their teammate's location grew and grew in their minds, until it became almost to much.

Where in the streets of Konoha was Naruto?

Another minute passed. No one seemed to hear the slow dragging of feet towards them, and if they did, they didn't look up. Who ever it was couldn't be Naruto, they thought.

They were wrong.

"Hey, guys."

Sakura jumped, and Sai gaped. Sakura turned around fast to glare at Naruto, her scowl instantly fading, and the insult she had ready dieing on her lips. Who the heck was that? Certainly not Naruto! But then again, how many blondes with whiskers and orange jumpsuits were there in Konoha?

Sakura took a small step forward, her worry plain on her face. "Hey...What happened to you?"

Naruto looked terrible. His blonde, messed up hair was at least twice the length it had been yesterday when they had last seen him, and it was tangled and clumped and messy. His blue, usually bright azure eyes looked faded and dull. The whisker lines on his cheeks looked disheveled and scrawny, and Naruto's clothes were awry and covered in mud that looked like only the barest of attempts had been made to clean it off. Naruto stared at them glassily, like they weren't really there, and shrugged loosely.

"Sorry I'm late."

"Er, don't worry about it, Naruto...But, really...what happened?"

He shrugged again. "Dunno. I stopped by Ichiraku's for some ramen... had about eight bowls..."

Here was where Sai gasped. Only eight? Who was this guy and what had he done with Uzumaki Naruto!?

"...When I was finished, I came over here, but I fell in a mud hole...after I tried to clean up a little, I think I got lost..." the shinobi continued, trailing off and getting a obscured look in his already misted eyes. "So, yeah. Sorry."

"Lost?" Kakashi asked, eyeing his pupil. "How do you mean, 'lost'?"

"Exactly that, I suppose. I got turned around, that's all."

Kakashi didn't even nod, but continued to watch the bedraggled Naruto. "Okay then. No more time is going to be wasted. Let's go." That said, he tore his gaze away and jumped swiftly to the top of the gate at the bridge's entry-way. Sakura and Sai joined him with a quick 'hai!', and Naruto mumbled, 'Sir.'. An entire second after they did.

"Come on, Naruto!" shouted Sai. Naruto glanced up at him and nodded once, crouching down and jumping. The ninja only made it a foot off the ground before landing again.

"Quit joking, Naruto!" Sakura said, annoyance returning.

"Sorry." Naruto tried again and frowned when he got the same results. With some difficulty, he focused chakra into the soles of his feet and gave one more leap. Naruto's finger's barely brushed the edge of the gate's top, and he pulled himself the rest pf the way to join them. "'Kay, now let's move." Having said so, Naruto jumped away again from his bewildered companions, moving with an agonizing slowness for a ninja. Kakashi, Sakura, and Sai looked at each other with a mix of emotions and confusion on their faces and under the mask. Not saying a word, they matched Naruto's pace and set off.

-

Another hour gone. The two projectiles landed in the target behind Naruto's ears with a thwock! He raised his hand to catch them, not noticing until a second later that he had been to late. Again.

"Crimony, Naruto..." Sakura jumped down and landed lightly beside him, retrieving her shuriken and staring at him. "What is with you today? Even you aren't usually that suckish."

"Sorry, Sakura-chan..."

Sakura stopped examining her knives and boggled at him. Naruto had just taken her insult without looking up. Sai joined them and studied his teammate carefully. Both of them by now were positive something was wrong. Sakura carefully reached out and laid a finger on his shoulder. He looked up at her with the same dazed expression that had been plastered to his features all morning.

"Naruto?" she asked softly, "Are you sure you're okay?"

"Yeah, Sakura-chan, why wouldn't I be?"

"It's just that...well..." Sakura blinked. How did she tell Naruto that there was something wrong with him? "Can you sit down for a second? I want to look at you."

At that, Naruto grinned sleepily, a trace of his old self returning. "You can look at me all you want, Sakura-chan."

The pink-headed kunoichi rolled her eyes and began to tuck her shuriken away, spinning it on one finger and opening her pouch. Actually, she was relieved he had responded that way. At least he was in there somewhere, she thought.

Naruto had sat down and folded his legs, looking for all the world like an innocent Academy-goer about to learn something new. He looked up at her with the same friendship that was always in his eyes, smiling faintly. Naruto was about to look down again, when he noticed her still spinning shuriken.

Spinning. Fast. So, so fast...And, from his angle, it looked like it had more than four spikes...seven? No...Nine.

Nine spikes.

Suddenly, the encroaching terror that had swamped him in the dream came rushing back, and Naruto flinched. Sakura looked down. "Naruto?"

The boy sat stock still for a moment more, then leaned his head back...

...and moaned.

"Naruto!" Sakura exclaimed, bending down to shake him. But Naruto couldn't hear her. The wail coming out of his throat got louder and louder, swelling until it sounded like the dieing screech of a thousand thrashing Bijuu. Sai covered his ears, and Kakashi rushed over from his cover in the trees.

"What is it?!"

"I don't know!"

Naruto's eyes were wide and dilated, looking like they were about to bulge out of their sockets. The scream suddenly escalated in pitch, and Naruto's body was shaking. The scream just seemed to go on and on forever, like paper tearing in your head, like mountains crashing and like water being engulfed in flame.

As suddenly as it had begun, the blood-curdling shriek cut off, leaving Naruto choking for air as he slowly fell over onto his back. He was breathing heavily, and Sakura bent down, her ear to his heart.

Ka-thump...Ka-thump...Ka-thummppp...

Sakura straightened up again and snapped at Sai to get the medical squad, or anyone that was nearby. Sai dashed away in a flash, leaving Sakura to pull off her gloves, and Kakashi to stare at Naruto's quivering body.

"Sakura, did you see what caused this?"

"Sensei, I have no idea what just happened," she said, briskly stuffing her gloves away and warming her hands up. "Do you?" She looked at him, and he shook his head.

"Ohhhhhh..." Naruto groaned, blinking at them. His cobalt eyes stared at them, completely clear except for the hazing of pain. "Sakura-chan..." the shinobi whispered, trying to move, "Kakashi-sensei..." He let his head fall back and he groaned again, softly.

"Stop moving, you'll hurt yourself!" Sakura snapped, lighting her hands with healing chakra and reaching to place them on his chest. Kakashi grabbed her wrists and pointed at Naruto as she began to protest. Sakura stopped and stared.

A bubble of something red and sticky looking was swelling over the spot Naruto's heart should be, growing and then exploding with a sinuous pop! The malicious red chakra fanned out, tripping over Naruto's jumpsuit and scuttling across his chest like some horrific many-legged spider. Sakura gasped and stumbled backwards into Kakashi, who pushed her aside and knelt as close as he dared to Naruto.

Snap! A tendril of chakra whipped itself out at him, and Kakashi missed having his face hit by the stuff by mere inches. As it receded, the infamous Copy Ninja bent over his student again and swiftly removed his headband form blocking his Sharingan.

The red chakra hissed and popped, and Kakashi's eye's widened, the Sharingan spinning to take it all in. The chakra hissed and slithered away from him as his eye roamed across its expanse, taking in the bubbles and crackling red wisps that were spreading all over Naruto's unmoving form. The medical squad shouted form afar, and Sakura called back. But Kakashi found his eyes locked with another pair. The eyes that were staring at him form out of the goop of chakra were slanted and insane, with pupils slitted and iris's red. They seemed to be laughing at him. Laughing in triumph.

"I've nearly died twice in my lifetime..." Jiriya had said He pulled hi shirt up to reveal a scar, shaped like a claw. "Once, when Tsunade caught me peeking in the girls shower room and broke a few of my bones and damaged several internal organs. And the other time when I was training with Naruto, and..."

"And what?" Tsunade persisted, pretending not to notice being mentioned.

Jiriya continued grimly. "When Naruto became frustrated enough to use the Kyuubi's chakra, four tails appeared. He lost control of himself and destroyed the entire place. We were lucky to be the only ones there."

No one said anything. Then, Kakashi murmured, "So he's peeled the seal back that far, already."

"Yeah, he has. But there's one other aspect that I think we should worry about."

Kakashi dimly recalled the memory of the conversation as he curled his hand in to a fist and packed it with chakra. The medical squad was finally here, shouting something to get Yamato and find Tsunade. A stretcher was laid out, and three of them hurried forward to get Naruto.

"Jiriya, kindly out wit h it already," said Tsunade. Jiriya looked at her out of the corner of his eye.

"Well," the hermit said, leaning back. "I'm afraid that the Fourth's seal may be..."

Kakashi plunged his hand down through the sticky, warm mass of chakra at Naruto's heart. The stuff sizzled and screamed, thrashing as it receded. Kakashi didn't notice how burnt and melting his fingers were, and the medics bent to take Naruto onto the stretcher. The jonin's vision swam, and he slowly fell backwards. Kakashi saw Naruto being strapped down and Sakura working to keep him alive. Kakashi closed his eyes. He somehow had just enough energy to reach to his headband, but couldn't pull it back down. Before he passed out, Hatake Kakashi recalled the last thing Jiriya had said about the Fourth's seal.

"...the Fourth's seal may be..."

"Dammit..." he said weakly. It had happened. The Kyuubi was fighting hard. And now, they were all in danger.

Kakashi hit the ground with a thump, and Naruto stirred restlessly in his bonds. His eyes snapped open, flashing red with anger, when one of the med-nin tried to inject him with a tranquilizer. Naruto's eyes closed again, slowly, and another nightmare began.

"...Weakening."

-

Author's Note: Enjoy! I WILL add more, tomorow and over the weekend...I have an extended one this week, yaayyyyyy:D So...yeah...REVIEW, DAMMIT! Heh heh.

Author-ness (Again. Being added on, whoops. XD): Oh, yeah, and thanks to NaminiNakashi (Sorry if I spelled it wrong. XD), the author of Shinobi Kitsune, and the author of Don't tick off the Shark! Just because you all rule. Sorry I forgot your names. XD gives cookies