Chemical Substance

Disclaimer: Never owned 'Naruto', never will…


Snow


I remember jumping. And the snow cascading around me. My feet blurring in a haze. And the sound of death rushing through the air. I remember clenching my fingers. And the air bending to my will, the wind howling in my ears.

Ruby red splattering across an endless carpet of white, seeping in, small tendrils of blood threading their way across the ground like paint across a canvas. The sound of silence echoing in the stillness that followed.

I remember it all.

How the rest gaped at me, wide eyed as my arms trembled with power. How they stood listless, weapons held still as they eyed the bloody remains of their comrades. How the fear was etched onto their faces.

And how I subsequently ripped through them, staining the forest floor with crimson. The wind roaring around me all the while.

They stood in between me and her. And Itachi had taught me to eliminate obstacles with extreme prejudice.

So I had; the air almost alive as chakra poured from my fingertips. The first died in a shower of kunai, moving too fast for the eye to follow, a blue haze tailing them right through an eye socket and deep into the trunk of a tree. A blade of wind rent through the next three, tearing their limbs asunder. One had tried after that. He really had. His hands had come up, a jutsu on the cusp of being created. And then the snow around him surged with power. And I recall watching as his eyes widened in surprise, his head turning just a bit before a tsunami of snow crashed down upon him like an enraged god.

Silence.

In the span of a few minutes, two squads wiped out. The last one died as my hand impacted her chest, chakra cutting the electricity to her heart.

"…monster…"

I can still hear the whisper; can still see the shock and the horror on her face. I was twelve years old then. And some things still hadn't changed. I can remember staring at her, not understanding why. Why was I a monster? Why me and not her? Why me and not any of the seven other shinobi I'd killed?

I can still feel Itachi's hand resting on my shoulder and I recollect how I jumped in surprise. I can still see him looking around, blood flecked across his face, eyeing the dead bodies. I can still see the look he gave me, as if he was staring right through me, right into me. I can still see how he nodded, how his hand gripped tighter on my young, bony shoulder, and how he turned me around. And we walked, our foot prints fading with every passing second, prayer beads swinging across our chests.

Monster. She'd been close. Almost spot on. I wasn't a monster, but the Kyuubi was. It could petrify a forest with just a glance, summon twisters with a flick of its tail, call down lightning at a whim, create tidal waves with just a light breath, shake the earth with merely a step, rip apart the world with a quick movement and burn all creation with just a thought.

I could only do a fraction of that.

After all, Kakashi didn't fight off a country of Snow ninja, avoid a bloody coup, and still manage to escape with Princess Kazahana all by himself, now did he?


The ground exploded, snow flinging into the air. Wood shattered, splinters embedding themselves in bodies, tearing through flesh and bone. Fire roared and the chirping of a blade of lightning sounded in the background. There were screams and laughter and the crackle of electricity and the smell of blood.

And he watched it all. There was this curious ringing in his ears, so he thought. And everything that he was seeing, everything he was watching, just like a movie, sounded so far away. Like white noise. Like static. Like he had earplugs in. He felt numb and he tried to raise his hand, but it wouldn't move. He shrugged, or tried to, as he tried to make sense of what he was seeing.

Why were people running? Who were these people and what were those hand signs? He could see a flash of silver hair and a red, swirling eye. Kakashi. That was right. Kakashi. He was a ninja. These were ninja.

A water dragon barreled into the ground a dozen feet away from him, droplets raining down onto his face, but he didn't feel them. His vision looked a little blurry, he mused, as he watched a young, pink haired girl lose her footing and fall into the snow. She looked a bit familiar. But he couldn't connect her face to a name. Everything was so blurry.

'It must be the glasses', he thought to himself.

The man tried again to raise his hand, to fix his glasses, to rub some fog off of the lenses. But he couldn't and a phantom pain slowly began to creep up his arm. 'I can feel', he thought, surprised. It was this sudden, unexpected feeling that caused the man to look down. And when he did, he beheld the bloody stump that was what remained of his hand.

'I've lost my hand…'

His fingers were scattered over the snow, the flesh having been flayed off, bones broken and shattered.

'What am I going to do…?'

His eyes moved from the remains of his hand to his chest. Blood was seeping through his shirt, soaking into his clothes and dripping down his skin.

'It's going to stain', he thought, blinking. His eyes wandered over the bits of brown that were sticking out of his chest, wondering what they were, but knowing they were ruining his shirt. He'd buy a new one when this was all over. It'd be expensive, after all, silk usually was. But when this movie was over, he'd be able to afford it. He was going to be rich!

He tilted his head to the side, watching as a black haired boy backpedalled, avoiding a furious rain of blows from a white clad man. The young boy's eyes too, were swirling red and the frustration on his face was apparent even with his failing vision.

'I hope we're filming this', he mused, 'it would be an award winning action scene.'

Lightning crackled near his head and snow was kicked up onto his back. The man paid it no heed, watching as the wagon in front of him burst into a ball of flames. He could see Kakashi burst out from the wreckage, bloody and worn, with a woman in his arms, clutching his chest for dear life.

'Ahh…and the hero saves the day and gets the girl.'

He watched the silver haired man dodge a fist that plowed into the ground, churning up snow. He was yelling to the two younger ninja, who were barely holding off the people that were bearing down upon them. He couldn't make out their faces; the fog on his glasses was getting thicker. They were running now, beating a hasty retreat as the boy grabbed a hold of the young woman in Kakashi's arms. The older ninja was turning now, to face the half dozen men heading his direction. The frost on his glasses thickened and he blinked, a feeling of lightheadedness suddenly hitting him.

'I hope they finish soon, I really want to get out of here', he thought as he coughed. The man didn't notice the blood that flecked his lips, trailing down his chin.

'It's getting really cold…'

The pink haired girl was heading his direction and in the background he could hear something crackling and crunching. He could see the girls head snap to his direction. And she was mouthing something now. What was it? He couldn't hear her and the frost was too much for him to be able to read her lips. He coughed again and for a second he could feel pain wrack his body. Now that was weird.

The girl was running toward him.

'Finally', he thought, 'I can get out of here.'

He blinked again, his eyes becoming heavy.

'I really, really hope they got this on tape.'

The fog was getting thicker. And the girl was getting closer. And the man's lids started to droop just a tiny bit more.

"I'm really tired', he realized.

The girl was a few feet away but the frost was so thick on his glasses that he couldn't see now.

'I can rest a bit…right?'

The man closed his eyes and for a brief moment, he stopped worrying. Stopped worrying about his shirt, stopped worrying about filming and stopped worrying about being tired.

The world exploded around him. But it wouldn't have mattered anyways. Because by then the frost on his glasses was just a bit too thick. And by then the sounds were just a bit too far away. And by then, the blood the stained his shirt just a little too much.


Sakura screamed, lunging forward, her foot stepping down on a pair of cracked, worn glasses.

"Director-san!"

She didn't make it in time. The man that had been flung against the cliff side, only dozens of feet away, fell. The wall of rock he'd been propped up against exploded, speeding his descent, showering Sakura with rubble and snow. She kept running, chakra barely keeping her feet stuck to the snow as she skidded to a halt.

The pink haired girl let out a strangled gasp as she watched the man's body tumble into the ravine below.

"Sakura!"

Her head whipped around, tearing her gaze away from the never ending fall. Sasuke was running toward open snow, past where Kakashi was holding off the other ninja. The gash running across his chest was leaking blood, red liquid dripping down onto his pants.

"Sakura! Hurry!"

The girl nodded, spinning around, her eyes glancing once more into the endless darkness of the ravine, before focusing on the figure of Sasuke in the distance. 'Don't cry', she told herself. She blinked back tears that were threatening to blur her vision. 'You still have a job to do.'

Green eyes swiveled across the battlefield, noting now that there were four Kakashi's; each one doing its part to hold back the oncoming Snow ninja. There were more, coming out of the surroundings and the gaping tunnel entrance in the distance like cockroaches. The chirping of Kakashi's raikiri could be heard above the roar of high powered ninjutsu.

She glanced at Sasuke as she ran, noting how the blood was seeping through the clothes on his chest. He was grimacing, adjusting to the weight of Yukie, or Princess Yukie now that they'd found out, whose arms were clutching his shoulders for dear life. Deep within her, Sakura crushed a lingering feeling of jealousy as she channeled chakra to her legs, speeding her sprint.

'Useless twit!' screamed her inner voice. Sakura viciously smothered that thought before it had to chance to make itself known. She joined Sasuke in their dash for freedom, lagging a few paces behind him. Blood red eyes faded into charcoal black and the young Uchiha took a deep breath.

"We've been ambushed, obviously. It's all a set up."

They were dashing through the snow now, rounding a bend, the sound of Kakashi's fight fading into the background.

"Kakashi-sensei is buying us time. And we don't know how much of this mission has been a trap. He's advised us to approach everything with extreme caution and to find a safe place to hole up for the rest of the day."

Sasuke said the last words with a puff of breath, drawing another as he shifted to accommodate Princess Yukie's form. The woman was listening in on their conversation, eyes half lidded as she took in what the two young ninja were saying. Sakura eyed her, frowning, brow furrowed as she began to speak.

"But what about sensei…? Where is he going to meet us?" she asked, a bit of worry leaking into her voice. Her teammate took a deep breath, closing his eyes for a moment. He opened his mouth, words on the tip of his tongue, before his lips touched, snapping shut. Sakura noticed this all and the worry blossoming in her stomach increased tenfold. Yukie's eyes were a bit wider now and Sakura could tell she was listening intently.

"Sasuke-kun…? What about Kakashi-sensei…?" she asked.

The silence between the two teammates seem to drag on forever. They were running farther down the path, deeper into Snow country, their chakra enhanced legs pulling them further and further into the unknown. Seconds passed. And then minutes. Five. Then ten. And they traveled more and more and more.

"Sas-"

The Uchiha scion interrupted her, his usual monotone voice tinted with a bit of…fear? Sakura couldn't place it. Maybe it was worry. She couldn't tell, because it wasn't often she heard it coming from the black haired boy's mouth.

"Kakashi-sensei's orders…were to rendezvous with him at the port we landed in, in four days. If he isn't there on the morning of the fourth day…"

He paused as if unsure if he should continue. The pink haired girl saw Yukie start, but the woman stayed quiet. 'Good', she thought. 'You got us into this in the first place; I don't want to hear what you have to say.' Dread was gripping Sakura's heart now and suddenly she was finding it a bit hard to breath.

"What Sasuke…? What do we do then?" she said.

The boy looked away. They were running amid the woods now, snow covered trees eerie in their silence. His voice was low, almost a whisper.

"We board the first ship bound for Fire Country and leave Sensei as MIA."

A pregnant silence followed his statement.

"…You're kidding. There's no way he said that. There's no way we can just leave him!"

"Sakura, those were his orde-"

Sakura had thrown caution to the wind, her emotions getting the best of her as she verbally tore into Sasuke.

"We CAN'T leave him there! After everything he's done for us? After everything he's done for you?"

They'd stopped, feet buried deep in the snow. Sakura was almost screaming now, her voice rising higher and higher. And Sasuke was recoiling, looking away as if Sakura's words had physically slapped him. It was a jab, a low one, ever for her. The two young ninja, ironically, owed their sanity to the slightly insane copy nin, who had taught them almost everything. Kakashi had taken his two young genin in when they'd had nowhere else to go, no one else to turn to. Kakashi had given Sasuke the semblance of a stable home where his mother could not, sheltering him from the power hungry nobles and the politics of Konoha. Sakura, having never had a strong male role model in her life, was more attached to the silver haired jounin that any subordinate could be to their commander. Kakashi had taken the role of guardian to the fatherless girl, taken the role of protector until she was ready to protect herself.

Hearing that the only father figure she could remember having was on the brink of being left behind, was very, very disconcerting. Hearing that her own teammate, who was as good as Kakashi's own son, was planning on leaving him behind, made her furious.

Sakura was staring at him.

"He told us to leave… So what? Aren't those who abandon their friends trash? How can you just follow protocol and leave him behind like that? How can you just throw everything he taught us out the window like that? Doesn't he mean anything to you…?"

Her last words came as a whisper. She was looking at him now, fury and sadness and desperation hovering quite obviously amid a gaze filled with accusations. Sasuke took a deep breath, not looking at Sakura as he shifted more to hold Yukie on his back. The snow princess was silent, watching the exchange between the two ninja.

"Our mission parameters have changed…"

Sakura opened her mouth to interrupt the boy but he cut her off quickly.

"…We have more than one responsibility now Sakura. We have a client to protect", he motioned to Yukie, "…and we have to escape and evade. I'm confident Kakashi-sensei can handle things on his own. We owe it to him to make it out of here alive. He wouldn't want us to go back and risk our lives like that. Don't you remember how mad he was when we went back for him against Zabuza?"

Sakura stared at him incredulously, mouth slightly ajar.

"…Are you serious? That was different, we were gen-"

"And we're just chuunin now! There are enemies and technology we stand no chance against back there Sakura! Don't you get that?" yelled Sasuke, his voice rising uncharacteristically. He was staring at her, cold gaze boring into her own. "If we go back, we'll just be in Kakashi's way. That will completely undermine what he's done to buy us time. He's an S class ninja Sakura. He knows what he's doing. Some of those ninja back there…they're close to Kakashi's level. I know I can't fight them, not at this level."

He left the rest of his words unsaid. 'Neither can you Sakura…'

Sakura's mouth snapped shut and Sasuke could see her teeth grit in frustration. The young Uchiha turned, taking her silence as acknowledgement. Hoisting a silent Yukie on his back, he prepared to move on.

"Now that we've decided, we sh-"

"I'm going back."

The ferocity in her words left no doubt about her intentions in Sasuke's mind. He could hear her fastening her gloves and checking her kunai and shuriken pouches.

"I'm going...alone if I have to. I know what I'm doing is the right thing to do."

Sakura looked at the half turned figure of Sasuke, the princess latched onto his back. She pushed the anger bubbling up down into the depths of her brain, bringing only steely resolve to the forefront on her mind.

"Are you coming to get sensei with me?"

Silence. One moment. Two.

"Fine. That's it then."

There was silence. A rustle of clothing. And then more silence. A minute passed. And when Sasuke opened his eyes and turned to look at the figure of his pink haired teammate, he found only rapidly fading footsteps in the snow.

'…'


A train was coming. A fucking train.

'Shit!'

Inwardly, Kakashi cursed his luck.

It was barreling right by him, slinging snow and kunai into the air as it roared down the tracks, its wheels screeching against the long rusted steel. His feet moved, body twisting as the small blades of modified kunai whistled past him, embedding themselves into the bodies of a failed rag tag resistance. Kakashi fingers moved in long practiced signs, twisting and turning into different shapes as he forced his body to move faster.

A towering dragon made of snow crushed his shadow clone mercilessly into the ground as he finished his jutsu, hands ending on a single half sign. As he did the ground beneath him came alive, the earth tearing and thrashing as massive spikes of dirt pierced through the bodies of Snow ninja, tearing their bodies in half, blood splattering across a carpet of dirty white. As his technique wreaked its havoc, Kakashi planted into the snow, pushing off as his one hand flashed into his back pouch, shuriken leaving his fingers and flying through the air.

The silver haired man's fingers molded chakra, flashing through more hand signs as he dashed alongside the train. The ninja behind gave chase.

'It has to slow down…' he thought, 'or it'll catch up to them.'

Drawing chakra into his body, Kakashi flickered dozens of feet in front of the train. He stared down the approaching behemoth, slamming his palm into the ground, power ribboning out from hand. The earth roared again, creaking and crumbling as a wall of solid, packed mud rose from ground, shooting high into the air.

The train impacted the wall of earth with a crunch and Kakashi's eyes widened as his barrier began to fall

'Chakra powered train…?'

He leapt aside just in time. The wall of mud and earth shattered as the train plowed through it, hurdling down the tracks.

His sharingan swirled as it drew chakra from his body, black tomoe taking in the whole battle field, analyzing the passing train. It was nigh unstoppable. And with the many, ninja coming from everywhere, Kakashi didn't have time to sit down and pick apart its weaknesses. The battle was moving too fast and Kakashi felt like he couldn't keep track of everything, and with his chakra quickly diminishing and no reinforcement in the foreseeable future, even with his sharingan, things could only get worse. The little resistance that had shown up momentarily before the train, intent on doing battle with their antique katana and their dusty armor, had all been slaughtered, their carcasses dangling and broken, littering the snow banks.

It had all been a set up.

They'd been drawn here by Doto. All of them. And he'd fallen for the trap so easily.

Kakashi dodge a chakra powered, armor clad fist as it swung toward his head, hand easily pawing a kunai across the ninja's throat. As blood sprayed, the jounin eyed the ninja that were slowly forcing him against the snow banks.

Things were spiraling out of control. Kakashi could only hope that his students had gotten away safe and not done something stupid like come back for him. The legendary ninja dodged a hail of kunai, pivoting out of the way of another ninja's blade. He grabbed the man's arm, thrusting his own blade up and into his chin, throwing the now dead ninja's body into one of his comrades.

The snow swirled around him, his feet kicking up tufts of white. More were coming. It was like an endless tide, wave after wave after wave of ninja coming after him and him alone. Kakashi thrust his hand down, chakra crackling around his fist as his sharingan swirled madly.

"RaiKIRI!"

His sharingan eye swiveled as blood splattered over his face. Lightning hummed with power as it tore through a body and then another, and another, and another. Ten.

The sharingan rolled, black tomoe slowing to a halt. A flash of blue swiped the head of a Snow ninja from his shoulders, crimson liquid splashing across the snow. Thirteen.

The tomoe sped up, their spin going faster and faster. The lightning died as a dragon of water burst from the ground, twisting its way through the air before devouring the bodies of snow ninja. Twenty.

The tomoe spun, black mixing with red as sweat dripped down and into the eyeball. A kunai drew across an unprotected neck, spraying blood into air as the sound of a thousand birds chirping filled the air. Twenty two.

A head band slipped, half covering, half exposing a hideous scar across a left eye. Feet planted into the ground, a kunai lunged into a leg, a set of lungs drew in a harsh breath and a river of mud flowed across the earth. Twenty seven.

An eye blinked and a blue haze faded. A shuriken pierced a shoulder; a blade tore a muscle and blood spilled across the snow. A man fell to one knee and a sharingan slowed its spin to a halt.

Lightening chakra crackled one last time. Twenty nine.

Crimson sharingan twisted. A single eye bled.

And the snow was cast into a world of black fire.

'…Itachi…?'


Team Seven. A worn out, young jounin and two mentally screwed teenagers. It seemed like something was missing from the group, but I could never put my finger on it.

My first encounter with the two younger members of Team Seven…to say the least, was a memorable one. The girl didn't recognize me. Didn't find my face even remotely familiar from all the times she'd called me names and all the times her and her friends has shunned me. How could she? I'd been the phantom in Konoha, the person that the people wished would just fade away if they ignored him enough. A little girl, barely able to do things on her own, wouldn't remember faces, or people, much less what'd she'd done to them.

Of course seeing them had surprised me. How could it not? Our informants had told us that Yukie was traveling on her own and they had never mentioned that a team from Konoha had been hired to protect her. Kakashi was a legend in the shinobi world, so I highly doubted that that little detail had been missed on accident. But by the time we'd realized it was a set-up, by the time we realized that our information and our movements had been compromised, it had been far too late.

By then we'd lunged headfirst into this campaign. And by then I'd already saved Haruno Sakura twice. And by then her teammate had laid cold, dark eyes on me.

Uchiha Sasuke.

The last remaining male Uchiha in Konoha after the massacre.

Sometime I wondered how he'd dealt with it. How did he handle not having anyone, save for his mother? How did he handle knowing that everything he'd known, everything he'd come to be comfortable with in life, was gone? How did he cope with something like that? Sometime I wondered, rarely, but it still happened.

Uzumaki Naruto.

Me.

I'd inadvertently caused the death of his entire clan. In the span of a night, his entire family was broken, shattered beyond repair. Father dead, mother insane, brother a traitor. Turned traitor all for a lonely blonde haired boy who just wanted someone to love him. In a night, Uchiha Sasuke's life had been ripped apart, piece by piece. I'd been responsible for that. It was no wonder he hated me.

I'd later find out that Uchiha Sasuke's dream, no, ambition, was to kill two people. To kill the two people he thought responsible for the extermination of his clan. Me, Uzumaki Naruto. And his own brother, Uchiha Itachi.

I never found out exactly how he knew that I was involved. After all, the Sandaime had kept things under wraps ridiculously well. Someone had probably pulled some strings for the last 'sane' Uchiha.

I wish I'd known that before I saved his life.

But…by then it'd been out of my hands.

So it goes.


Droplets of blood cascaded into the air.

Sakura was out cold. Had been out cold. The snow ninja that had followed were dead and Princess Yukie was hiding in the tree line. But there was a train. And Sasuke wasn't sure what to do when faced with this mechanical monstrosity. He was slowly being torn apart. They weren't fast enough to escape and the train was all but impenetrable. The bloody stains across his chest and the stab wounds littered across his body weren't lending a hand to his condition either.

Sasuke took three kunai to the chest, wincing as they impacted him with a deep thud. He pulled one out, blood spraying across his face as he struggled to parry another incoming volley of high speed projectiles. Three more punched into his skin, severing the tendons in his right arm. He bit his lip, not letting the scream of pain tear from his throat. Sasuke rolled across the snow, struggling to get to his feet as more and more kunai pounded into the ground near him.

'Shit.'

Another kunai tore through his side and this time he couldn't keep the cry of pain inside. He fell, body buckling under the pain as he tried to move.

Another kunai to the left shoulder.

Another kunai to the right thigh.

This was it.

A flurry of kunai aimed straight for his eyes.

Snow spiraled from the ground.

Rising in waves, looming high from the earth to intercept the hail of kunai shrieking through the air, the snow twisted and turned as if having a sentience of its own. Crumpled against the ground, the young Uchiha opened his eyes wide and with his still activated sharingan could see blue and green chakra lacing the packed ice, running across its surface like an electric current. He stared, as if in amazement as the chakra swirled and gave the snow life, gave the snow shape and durability and elasticity.

More and more volleys of kunai raced through the air, but the densely packed snow intercepted them all, stopping their flight.

And in his awe and silence and the roar of snow, Sasuke barely heard the whisper near his ear.

"…Run."

Starting, he did as told, unsure of why or how his body was hobbling away. But as he did, he felt the ground beneath him shake and it sort of reminded him of a mini earthquake.

Behind him, the earth cracked open, a great chasm splitting down the middle of the tracks behind the train. Sasuke whirled around, wide eyed, just in time to see the train begin to dip, unaware of the massive ravine that was now being carved into the earth. It was slipping farther and farther into the chasm and Sasuke could only watch, bewildered at the sudden appearance of the split in the earth.

"Sasuke!"

That was Sakura's voice. The young Uchiha whipped his head around and saw the pink haired girl at the edge of the treeline.

Sasuke didn't know when she'd woken up, but he'd guessed it was when the mysterious person who'd moved him out of harm's way had appeared. But she had the princess with her and she was yelling at him, telling him to escape with her. Part of him wanted to stay, wanted to confront the mysterious man (he had no doubt it was a man) who had singlehandedly ripped apart the earth to stop an unstoppable train. But the other part of him, a more powerful, more emotional part, the part hidden deep down in his heart told him to run, told him to flee from such an obvious display of force.

So he did. Scrambling and stumbling away from the wreck of the train, Sasuke bathed in the glow of green healing chakra emitting from Sakura's hand. She was rushing him through the trees, Princess Yukie ever silent on her back instead of his. Sasuke stumbled, training to regain a better use of his legs as green chakra soothed his pain. They jogged at first and then broke into a run, leaving the battlefield behind them.

As they fled, Sasuke looked back. And when he did, scarlet eyes caught a glimpse of blonde hair, deep, etched whisker marks and a set of swinging prayer beads amid the snow. He almost stumbled as he ran, eyes fixed on a face that looked so oddly familiar.

"Sasuke, hurry!"

Sakura was pulling his hand and Sasuke's gaze shifted forward. Pushing his legs to catch up with her, he righted himself to look back once more, to catch a glimpse, to make sure he wasn't crazy. But the blonde hair and swinging prayer beads of a man in flowing robes was long gone.

"Sasuke! Hurry, it's going to explode!"

The boy tore his gaze away, not questioning how she knew it would.

They ran.

And behind them there was a scream, punctuated by a bloody gurgle. And then there was another scream and another. And then silence reigned. And as the two young ninja sprinted away from the wreckage, away from the ticking time bomb that was the chakra powered train, they had to resist the urge to stop and turn around, to find out what the hell had just happened. They ran, faster and faster and faster.

And the ground quaked and rumbled, and the two ninja pushed chakra to their legs, bracing themselves as they ran.

The train exploded in a shower of molten fire and twisted, melted metal. And the earth shook with the explosion, rocking as the chakra stored in the train's engine imploded upon itself.

The shockwave ripped by them.

And as curious as they were to look back, they kept running, stopping only when the light had faded from the sky and inky blackness had worked its way across heaven. But even when night had fallen, Uchiha Sasuke still thought of an angular face, blonde hair and prayer beads hanging loosely from a collared neck.


A robe brushed against blackened snow. A hand fiddled with a string of prayer beads, fingers fumbling over each orb.

Uzumaki Naruto crouched low, eyes scanning the now silent battlefield. Snow ninja bodies littered the ground and the remnants of the train smoked in his home made ravine. Blue eyes looked up to the overcast sky and the blonde let out a long breath.

What the hell had gone wrong?

Haruno Sakura and Uchiha Sasuke. They sure as hell weren't supposed to be in Snow Country. Much less led by one Hatake Kakashi. This was like a goddamn reunion from six years ago.

'Doto…you son of a bitch. What are you planning?'

Something was going on. And a whisper in the back of Naruto's head told him this was all a very elaborate trap. And he was inclined to agree, now that he'd discovered the rest of Team Seven fighting for their lives to protect Yukie. But they couldn't back out now. It wasn't just Yukie's life on the line. Something was brewing. To make things worse, this false intelligence that had nearly led them into a trap was from someone he trusted. And that alone was enough to make him worry.

Naruto lips twitched, hand trailing in the snow beneath him, a small frown tugging at the corners of his mouth.

He spoke to nothing, his whisper loud amid the smoldering train wreck.

"…Itachi won't be pleased about this."


AN: Update! Holla! I think this chapter went fairly well, even though it feels like some scenes end a bit abruptly. A bit Team Seven centric I suppose, but I promise you'll be getting much, much more Naruto in the coming chapters. I'm also wondering what you all think Naruto has actually been trained to do, since I haven't heard much in the way of theory from reviews. Anyways, I look forward to lots of feedback and I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it. So, good, bad, just eh? Tell me.