Author's Notes: Well, I've got much to account for.
First, everyone, I apologize for the lack of updates. There is a reason for it. I got home from a Mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints a few months ago. These missions last two years and it's against the rules to indulge in worldly entertainment (read: Fanfiction) and so I was unable to update for two solid years.
It was a good experience, and I learned a lot.
Now that I'm here, I'm pleased to present Phantom Fox Chapter 10: On the Hunt.
It was about ten o'clock in the morning, the sun having risen over the trees of the forest many hours ago. In Konoha, there were people going about their business. Merchants were hawking their wears to passerby's, children heading to school. People were talking, laughing and doing business. All while pointedly not looking at Konoha's front gate.
There, pacing with his hands in his pockets was Uzumaki Naruto. He wore on his face an angry frown, looking at the ground under his sandals with a glare that could frighten, ironically, Sasuke. He was muttering under his breath and only seemed to get angrier the more he ranted. He had wore a slight rut in the dirt by walking back and forth in front of the stone bench which Hatake Kakashi and Haruno Sakura were sitting. Sakura's head was resting on her palm in a light doze and Kakashi was stooped into his trademark orange orange book, having only shown up about an hour ago.
Kakashi was a little worried. Normally, Naruto would be shouting about how unfair it was that they had to wait on the final member of their team, so him muttering quietly could be him maturing out of his loudmouth tendencies…or it could mean that he's saving all his pent up rage for the late comer.
"Hey, Guys!" Danny greeted loudly, running up to the gate with wide eyes and heavy breathing. "I'm so sorry I'm late!"
"We were supposed to leave at sunrise!" Naruto shouted. "What happened?"
Pent up rage it was, then. Kakashi nudged Sakura awake. Her eyes darted open and she stood up, eyes darting in every direction before resting on Danny and Naruto. "Oh, he's here. Great! We can get going!"
"I'm sorry, I didn't mean to oversleep-"
"YOU OVERSLEPT?!" Naruto thundered. "HOW DARE YOU OVERSLEEP!"
"I said I was sorry!"
"EVERY SECOND SASUKE IS WITH OROCHIMARU HIS LIFE IS IN DANGER!" Naruto went on. "BUT THAT PALES IN COMPARISON TO HOW MUCH DANNY NEEDS HIS BEAUTY SLEEP, DOESN'T IT!"
Danny blanched, raising his hands up in a defensive stance.
"Do you think we should do something?" Kakashi asked Sakura quietly.
"Nah," Sakura said. Even though she got some beauty sleep out of Danny being late, she felt like he needed to know what the stakes were for them if they failed. "I think it'll help if he's not as cavalier about the mission as he is in his general attitude."
"DO YOU AT LEAST HAVE AN EXCUSE? WAS YOUR ALARM BROKEN?"
"No, it was beeping when I woke up-" Danny caught himself, but it was too late. He face palmed as Naruto continued.
"ARE YOU SHI-"
A hand on Naruto's shoulder stopped him mid-curse. "Naruto!" It was Kakashi, glaring down at him with his single eye. "Yes, he's late and everyone's moved ahead of us because of it, but shouting about it now isn't going to solve anything." The Jounin looked at Danny. "And Danny, I trust this, or similar oversights will not happen again?"
"Yup!" Danny brought his hand in the three finger salute with a hand on his chest. "Scouts honor!"
Kakashi's eye just looked confused, before shrugging. "Good enough. Let's get going. Everyone should be half way to the Rain border by now and we'll need to catch up."
"Right! Let's move!" Naruto made to jump through the gates and into the trees.
"Yeah, but before we go-" Danny began.
Naruto's motion was halted with a flinch as he rounded on Danny. "OH WHAT NOW?!"
"What?" Danny snapped incredulously. "I just need my stuff back, like my files and the pills…and a plastic box that none of you know what it does…"
"Yes, Danny is right. One moment," Kakashi raised a hand and fished around for something behind him before pulling out Danny's back pack. "This should have everything inside that was removed for analysis."
"You took my stuff and analyzed my parents inventions?" Danny asked, thinking of the pills which turned into tents and sleeping bags. And his MP3 player. He took the pack and started looking through it, turning things invisible as he searched through it. "Isn't that like stealing?"
"We apologize for the violation of privacy," Kakashi answered. "But we are Ninja, we didn't know who you were and we didn't know if you carried anything that was a threat to Konoha. Once we determined that you didn't need to carry anything that was a threat to Konoha, Tsunade-sama ordered the return of your possessions."
"Ah, it's okay. I'm more curious about how you returned the tent to being a pill after getting it wet," Danny replied. "Is my file in here?"
"It should be," Kakashi said. "Though I don't know about the tent, you'll have to ask the research department…wait, one of those pills is a tent?"
"Yeah, sleeping bags, tents, even a pre-lit camp fire," Danny said, pulling out the tan file. "Doesn't seem like anything is missing," He said, turning the cover then the pages invisible as a way of flipping through it. "Good, it's all here."
Sakura's eyes were disbelieving. "You activate a pill which gives you a pre-lit campfire by getting it wet?"
"No, I was kidding about that," Danny answered. He zipped on his pack and threw it over his shoulder, file and all. "It's just a stack of wood and you have to light it yourself. But my parents are working on conquering the logic of that problem."
"I guess it's possible."
Naruto was clutching his face with one of his hands and gritting his teeth in frustration. "Can we get going, now?"
"Yes, please," Sakura agreed.
"Time is of the essence," Kakashi nodded.
"Yup, I'm all set."
"Finally!" And they set off through the gates.
Turning intangible didn't work as well in following the Shinobi as one would think. When Danny's eyes were passing through the branches, he would go blind as the light didn't reach through the solid mass. At his speed, it was kind of like blinking, but when there were a lot of branches it rendered him with many, many blinks in his vision and it meant that it was much easier to lose the bouncing and leaping Shinobi, which had happened many times during Danny's previous mission with Naruto.
However, with some practice, Danny was able to maneuver around the branches and keep up with them. Eventually they were able to come to a veritable pathway where they were able to hold a conversation without everyone suddenly changing altitude interrupting.
"So," Danny said. "I think it'd be good to go over the contents of my file. It had a lot of information on Orochimaru, and I've only skimmed it, to be honest with you."
"You've only skimmed it?" Kakashi deadpanned.
"Yea-WOAH!" Danny had to make a sharp curve over a way-ward branch.
Kakashi was silent for a few moments. "You just came here rushing in without a plan, didn't you?"
Danny chuckled weakly. "It's worked a lot in the past…"
"Okay, we'll go over it when we reach the Rain Border and come up with a plan together," Kakashi said.
"I'm tired of waiting!" Naruto bellowed.
"Me too!" Sakura joined in. "You'd think if you were sent to take someone out, you'd at least have a plan already!"
"Well, I didn't have a lot of time to prepare, okay?" Danny snapped back. "Geeze, it's not like we really have a time limit, right?"
Everyone was silent. As the stretch of nothing grew longer, Danny knew with every paranoid bone in his body that either they knew about his time limit or there was another time limit that he didn't know about.
"Right?" Danny asked again before their path broke up into branches of many different heights.
The sun was actually setting by the time they reached their destination. In a clearing of trees just outside a long stretch of grassy field was a grouping of tents, surrounding a campfire. Each team of Genin, their Jounin Sensei's and several Chunin were around the campfire, eating or talking.
The two Chuunin that had met Kakashi's party separated to their posts as they walked in.
"Troublesome," Skikamaru said as they walked up to the campfire. "About time you showed up. What happened, did Danny's alarm clock break?"
"No," Naruto said, walking up to the spit on the fire and tearing a leg off. "He slept through the alarm."
"Hey, I can tell them what happened, thank you," Danny snapped.
"Okay, what happened?" Shikamaru asked, raising an eyebrow. Everyone else had their eyes on Danny, waiting for him to respond.
"Uhhhh…" Danny said. Then he rubbed the back of his head with a cheesy smile. "I slept through my alarm."
Groans all around. "Seriously?" Snapped Ino.
"Hey, I've already said sorry a million times today," Danny said, very aware of Naruto drilling angry holes in him with his eyes. "Besides, we got some planning to do. I've got my file on Orochimaru right here," Danny intangibly took it out of his back-back. "And we got to go over it before we do anything drastic like assault his castle or something."
"Right, we do need to know what Danny knows, or should know, about Orochimaru," Kakashi said. "We have a tent set up for a mass conference, right?"
"Yup," Asuma said, extinguishing one of his perpetually lit cigarettes. "The big one, right over there."
"Then let's get started," Danny said, flying to the tent at top speed. Inside the tent, he found many placed in a large circle inside, with the grass underneath cleared to reveal solid stone. I wonder if that stone was made by one of the ninja, Danny thought. Then he saw that at the head of the circle, opposite of the entrance was an especially large and fluffy cushion and without further thought he flew over and plopped himself onto it.
Only to be bitten by a very irate Akamaru who had settled in on the cushion to nap. "YOUCH!" Danny yelped snapping straight in the air and turning around to see his opponent, who was growling at him. Okay, angry Ninja dog. Not sure dog training tricks will work on him but let's try. Looking Akamaru straight in the eye, Danny began. "Sit!"
Akamaru only narrowed his eyes and growled louder. Plan B, overshadow him and make him move. So Danny did exactly that, using a duplicate to take over Akamaru and moving him off of the cushion and having him stand at rigid attention. The original picked up the cushion, turned it intangible to remove any doggie presents, and there was a yellow liquid that would have stained the floor were it not intangible as well, and put it down. Danny took his seat as the others walked in with a relaxed sigh.
Feels weird in here, the Duplicate thought. And not just because he's an animal. I've overshadowed animals before, this guy has a buzz to him and I'm not sure what it is…maybe that's chakra. Yeah, probably is. Feels pretty nice, actually.
"Yeah, Akamaru and I totally took out that boar and-Akamaru?!" Kiba walked in and was thoroughly nonplussed at seeing Akamaru standing at rigorous attention. "What's going on?"
The Original looked at the overshadowed dog. "Oh, he was in my seat, so I got him to move."
Kiba glared. "What did you do?"
"Overshadowed him with a duplicate," Danny answered nonchalantly. He nodded toward Akamaru and he bounded over to Kiba and leaped into his arms.
"Hey, boy," Kiba said, only stopping, his eyes wide and he blanched as he saw that Akamaru's eyes were now glowing green. "Wh-what did you do to Akamaru?"
The other Ninja were walking in and saw the dog as well and alarm began to register on their faces. Chouji almost reached out and poked it, but thought better of it. Naruto looked at it like it might have been possessed.
"I told you, I over-" Danny stopped, looking at the Dog who was now looking at him with his emerald eyes, panting for all the world that it was a dog in its right mind. "Dude, that's mean. Come out."
The puppy started pouting.
"I don't care if it feels weird in there," Danny replied with a glare. "Out. Now."
Akamaru looked defeated, then another Danny, to everyone's shock, emerged out of Akamaru and rejoined with the original. "Sorry about that," Danny said. "Didn't mean for him to stay in there after I got him to move. But in my defense, he did bite my rear end.
Kiba's eyes were wide and he was pale, as was Ino. "You just took over my dog," Kiba said through grit teeth.
"That's my family's jutsu," Ino was dazed. "I have to do this," She made the seal of her mind jutsu's, "and say the words and I leave a body behind."
"I saw that a few days ago, actually," Danny replied, balancing his cheek on a fist with his lips in a flat line. "Me? I just walk in and take over."
Ino looked like she was about to faint.
"Don't do that again," Kiba seethed. "I swear, we will get you for this."
"Oh yeah?" Danny asked, raising an eyebrow. "How?"
Kiba's hands balled into fists as he sat down on the nearest cushion, seething threats under his breath. Naruto sat next to him and whispered to Kiba; "We could totally have him wake up with birds in his bed."
"You can do that?" Kiba whispered back.
"Oh yeah," Naruto answered with one of his foxy grins. "It'll be easy, he sleeps like a rock."
"How do you catch the birds?" Kiba asked.
"When you guys left I grabbed a few of my birdseed traps after Danny didn't show for an hour," Naruto answered. "You just have to help me bait him."
"I am so in," Kiba smiled.
Danny, being his paranoid self, had several duplicates placed around the tent to monitor everyone since he was now actually having to work with them. He heard the whole exchange and was now planning a counter prank.
But, first thing is first.
"Okay," Danny opened his file and withdrew a multi-folded piece of paper that was the size of the folder itself in its folded state. With a flick of his hand and intangibility, he unfolded it to reveal a large map, which then magically grew to fill in the empty space between the cushions. It was a map of their world, with immaculate details on Konoha's outposts, defenses, symbolized by red dots, while the other countries were depressingly bare, except for purple dots all over the map of the elemental countries.
I don't think I did that, Danny thought as the map adjusted itself. "So as you can see, this is a map of your world. You recognize Konoha's network and everything, symbolized in red. Purple is Orochimaru's outposts, laboratories and places where he has influence."
"Astounding!" Gai said. "This map has been immaculately prepared, Danny! Way to go!"
"I'm just reading the key here in the corner," Danny said, looking at the bottom right corner of the map, where said key for each dot was held in a box. "You'll have to thank Clockwork for the map."
"Right!" Gai said, his almost omni-present smile had faded away, studying the map.
"So, you said we're at the rain border, Kakashi?" Danny asked.
"Yes, we should be right here," Kakashi said, reaching forward and tapping a spot on the map between Forest and Rain.
"Cool," Danny said. "Orochimaru has a base camp pretty close by, as you can see," Danny flew forward and turned mostly invisible, leaving his hand for people to see as he traced up from where Kakashi tapped the map. We can start there. It should only be a few miles north from here."
The gathered Shinobi were nodding.
"Now that we have a destination, let's see what else Clockwork has for us," Danny said, taking his seat again and flipping through his folder. "Let's see…truly messed up story of all his crimes, list of jutsu that he knows…jeeze, that is a long list, hmmm. List of Orochimaru's spies in Konoha, okay. Let's see…"
The gathered Shinobi were staring at him with bated breath, almost no one blinking as Danny muttered to himself the list of spies.
Danny looked up. "Who's Ibiki Morino?"
"Wasn't he the first proctor for the Chunin Exams?" Naruto asked.
"Yes," Shikamaru answered. "Why do you ask?"
"He's on the list."
Gasps went around the tent.
"No way," Tenten said.
He's a traitor? Naruto thought. He remembered Ibiki's words at the exam. How touched he had been on his congratulations on making it past that portion of the exam. It can't be, yet…It would explain how Orochimaru himself had infiltrated the exams on Konoha soil. It would explain how he got through every loophole in Konoha security. The head of Konoha's T&I was a traitor. It makes so much sense, though!
All of the Jounin's skin went chalk white at this revelation. Oh shi-
"Oh, I'm sorry," Danny said, catching himself. "He's the guy I have to read this list too. Sorry, my bad." He had a small smile on his face as he said this, flipping past the list. "I'll be sure to do that when we're back at Konoha."
The smile was covered with uneasy coughs as Danny almost choked on the killing intent in the room. "Anyway," Danny continued. "Let's go back to that list of Jutsu he knows."
He read it off, one by one, starting with the A's. Like Danny had promised, it was a long, long list. In fact, as he got to the G's, Danny stopped. "Do you think we can finish this list later? I think we have more important stuff to talk about."
"No, we have to hear them all," Gai stated.
"Really? It's a long list," Danny argued.
"No. All of them, please."
"Alright," Danny sighed before continuing.
He got to the L's. "Living corpse re-animation? What is this-" Danny started reading to himself. "It allows him to permanently take over some-one elses body? That's disturbing. Who would he do that too-" Danny's head lifted to look straight at Team 7. "That's why he wants Sasuke, isn't it?"
The room was quiet. Kakashi was staring at the floor, Sakura and Naruto were looking determinedly away from Danny, but had gone several shades whiter.
"Just keep reading, please," Kakashi finally said, looking at Danny.
Knowing when to simply shut up and not pursue a subject, Danny obliged. "Alright," he said, and continued reading.
Neji spoke up as he got to the O's. "Are you making some of these up?"
"No, I'm reading everything word for word on this list," Danny said.
"You're not joking with us again or trying to prank us, right?" Neji asked.
Neji sighed. "Alright then. Please continue."
As he concluded, Danny put the file down. "Okay, that's all of them. How many of you didn't know what half of those were?" Danny raised his hand, and the Genin and Chunin also raised their hands. "Okay, thank you for not making me feel alone here."
"How does someone learn that much jutsu?" Shikamaru asked rhetorically. "How do you find the time?"
"Orochimaru is obsessed," Kakashi said, flatly. "Our records, and I'm sure Danny's file will agree, that he stayed many hours in libraries, learning everything he could, he would disappear for weeks at a time, later discovered to be working in his laboratories on new jutsu. He barely made time for anything else because nothing else fit his insatiable need to jutsu."
"Sounds like a ghost," Danny said. "In my world, at least, Ghosts are kept behind in our world by their obsessions with something, mostly something they haven't done."
"There's no such thing as ghosts!" Naruto shouted. "That's just illusions and stuff, right!"
"In this world maybe, but in mine, they are real and they hurt a lot of people," Danny said. "My parents are full time Ghost Hunters, after all."
"That's ridiculous!" Naruto said smiling, but anyone could see him shivering with fright.
"Does that have something to do with your Kekkei Genkai, Danny?" Shikamaru asked, looking very sharply at the white haired Ghost-boy.
"No," Danny lied emphatically. "My powers have nothing to do with ghosts. It was an accident with one of my parents inventions." Lies. Not sure how they'll react to finding out that I'm technically half dead. Don't want to risk it, don't want to know, end of story.
"Then why is one of your attacks named 'Ghost Stinger'?"
Danny stopped dead in his tracks. Danny was quite for almost thirty seconds before answering. "Because," he said. "I used it on a ghost, and it stung it. That's how it got its name."
"Why do I get the feeling you're lying?" Shikamaru asked.
"Oh, I don't know," Danny replied flippantly. "It's your problem, not mine."
"Look, we can't work together if we don't trust each other," Shikamaru glared. "I figured you must be used to working alone for the most part but you're part of a large detachment that, for the most part, is trusting you with their lives."
"I get that," Danny shot hotly. "I've had friends that have been with me through the thick and thin, and I trust them implicitly. But you aren't them. I'm willing to put that aside for the most part because I have a job to do, and I promise I will do everything I can to get everyone out alive, but don't ask me stuff I can't tell you."
There was a part of Danny's mind that was saying it would be easier to just tell them about being half ghost and all that came with it, but he shushed it. He did not know how they would react if they knew about his halfa status and his ego was on the line, now.
"Fine," Shikamaru said. "But I swear, if anything you keep from us endangers anyone here, you will pay for it."
"Got it," Danny replied, almost letting out a sigh of relief as he leafed through the folder. "Let's continue, shall we? I got a copy of Orochimaru's schedule for the next three months."
Everyone got bug-eyes at that. Danny just started reading. "He's going to be in the Land of Tea for a few days before taking off to the Land of Wind. After being there for a week, he and Sasuke will rendezvous at…what a coincidence, that Science Lab just few miles north of us."
"Sasuke's going to be there?" Naruto asked for clarification.
"According to this schedule, yes. He's on a mission for Orochimaru apparently, and will just be getting back. They'll be meeting around noon at the lab, with Sasuke expected to arrive first. When Orochimaru gets there, they'll immediately take off to the safe house at…"Danny started muttering coordinates as he switched between looking over the map and re-reading the numbers. "…that lab near the lower corner in the Land of Lightning."
Lee stretched and pointed to a dot, his finger on the map.
Lee moved his hand to another dot.
"That's the one," Danny said. "So what's the plan?
Everyone looked at each other.
"What's the time frame between Sasuke's arrival and Orochimaru's?" Kurenai asked.
"Two hours," Danny said, checking his file again.
"Do you know anything else about the base?" Kurenai pressed. "Nearby patrols, nin-traffic in and out of the base?"
"According to this key here in the corner," Danny began, looking at the box in the maps corner. "It shouldn't be that much of a problem. It's just a small outpost with about 3 or so Ninja."
"Okay. Team 8 will set up a reconnaissance pattern around the perimeter," Kurenai said. "Our first job will be finding and disabling any traps, then identifying the Shinobi at the base. Once we've mapped out the initial area, we'll examine our options."
"I think Danny, Naruto and my Team will head the initial assault when the scouting is done," Gai said in a completely business-like manner, which was unusual for people who didn't know him well. "Naruto can create upwards of a hundred clones and swarm the immediate area, My Team and Danny will focus on each Shinobi in turn until they are eliminated. Then we'll infiltrate the lab and set our trap for Sasuke and Orochimaru."
"Right," Asuma said, nodding at Gai. "Once we're inside, Team 10 will lead the infiltration effort. Ino will use her Shintenshin to go into anyone's minds inside and learn the standard operating procedure for the base. For the purposes of those entering, we will mimic internal protocol until we can dispose of visitors. When we capture Sasuke and kill Orochimaru, we'll burn the base to the ground."
For some reason, the thought of actually killing Orochimaru struck Danny as…strange, somehow.
"I think Sakura should aid in base infiltration and perimeter scouting," Kakashi pitched in. "Her perfect Chakra control will protect her from any Genjustu traps and her growing medical jutsu will be invaluable for any initial injuries."
Sakura blushed. "Thank you, sensei," she whispered, mostly to herself.
"Naruto, myself and the rest of the Jounin, will be the ones to face Sasuke," Kakashi continued.
"Yes!" Naruto fist-pumped. "Dattebayo!"
"Why Naruto?" Kurenai asked.
"So, I'm going to be completely honest with the rest of you here," Kakashi said. "Naruto and Sasuke are both at high Chunin level, even if they are both only technically Genin. Naruto has the skill, power and dedication nessesary to stand up to Sasuke and has done so before, nearly coming out on top. Plus, he has made an oath to return Sasuke to the village and it would be simply wrong to deny him that opportunity."
Now it was Naruto's turn to blush. "Thank you, Kakashi-sensei!" He said with the biggest smile on his face.
"Danny, would you be willing to assist us?" Kakashi asked. "You're contract, as I understand it, only states that you have to kill Orochimaru, but we would really like the help in taking in Sasuke."
"Oh come on!" Naruto yelled. "We don't need him for this!"
"Naruto, we need all the help we can get," Kakashi said. "He's already proven invaluable so far and since he came here to help us defeat Orochimaru, we need to respect that. We'll talk more about it later." Kakashi looked at Danny again. "Well?"
Again, the mention of killing Orochimaru made Danny feel kind of strange, but he mentally shook it off. "Yeah, I'd happy to do that. Just give me some help in dealing with Orochimaru too."
"Good," Kakashi said. "I think it's settled. We'll start tomorrow." Kakashi glared with his visible eye at Danny. "At sunrise, this time."
"Yup!" Danny said. "I'll wake up on time this time, I promise."
Naruto, Sakura and Kakashi each volunteered to be on first watch. Naruto leapt around the trees on the perimeter of the camp, not even the least bit tired. A mid-air summersault, a swing on a branch and a rebound off of a trunk and off he went.
Sakura stayed within the camp boundaries, softly sneaking around the camp in a random patrol pattern, occasionally, her eyes would droop and even close, before being forced awake and she continued her route.
Kakashi picked a lookout point atop the highest tree he could find, which was almost as tall as a skyscraper. He looked upon the clearings dark stretches and over the rolling hills. He could see no movement for miles, and as he tried to locate the lab they were to infiltrate on the morrow, he found nothing. No one could see it, but he was frowning.
Kakashi looked down and saw Naruto jumping down below and decided that now was as good a time as any and jumped down. He streamlined his body on the descent and let the free fall take him down, down to the ground, before he landed right in front of Naruto on his feet with nigh a sound or disturbance.
Naruto, of course, fell down in shock with a yelp of fright. "Jeeze, Kakashi!" When Naruto saw who had descended in front of him. "You almost gave me a heart attack." Actually, I think he DID give me a heart attack! He was actually wheezing.
Kakashi merely shrugged. "Naruto, I think now would be a good time to chat, wouldn't you say?"
"Wha-?" Naruto said, standing up. "Uh, sure. What do you need to talk about?"
"About our strange visitor from another world," Kakashi said. When he saw Naruto had a confused look on his face, he sighed. "I want to talk about Danny."
"Oh," Naruto's face. "Why do we gotta talk about that teme?"
"Because there are things you have to know about him before we go any further."
"Alright, fine," Naruto said. "Are we going to get Sakura, too?"
"Yeah, I was thinking something along those lines," Kakashi said.
Naruto groaned and frowned sharply. "Fine. Let's go." He started trudging back to the camp.
As they entered the camp, Sakura flinched at the sound of Naruto and Kakashi's sensei's footsteps, kunai ready to slice someone to pieces. When she saw it was only her teammates, she relaxed with a sharp sigh. "What are you two doing here? You almost made me die of fright."
"Ah, Kakashi wants to talk about Danny," Naruto grumbled. "Don't see the point."
"I just thought you both would like to know that he was lying," Kakashi said in whisper.
Sakura did a double take. "About what, Kakashi sensei?"
"About how ghosts have to do with his Kekkei Genkai," Kakashi said. "He was lying when he said they have nothing to do with it. Because they have everything to do with it."
Naruto blanched. "…how is that, Kakashi-sensei?"
Kakashi motioned for them to sit down and they did. "His parents were trying to build a portal to someplace they call the 'Ghost Zone', the place where all ghosts live."
"Why?" Naruto hissed.
"I don't know, presumably scientific curiosity," Kakashi said. "The portal malfunctioned and Danny was caught in it when it went active, somehow. The sudden infusion of ectoplasm-"
"What's that?" Sakura asked.
"It's the thing that all ghosts are made of, I was told," Kakashi said. "His body was flooded with the stuff, to the point where it mutated his chakra coils and his entire body so he could shift between either human or ghost."
"Living or dead," Sakura breathed she and Naruto were actually shaking.
That's just wrong, Sakura thought, running her fingers through her hair with wide eyes. That shouldn't be possible. To just shift from being alive and being dead. To just pick between the two. That shouldn't happen. That can't happen, but it is. It defies everything I've learned about chakra, about people it just…
He just…picks? Naruto thought, alternatively gazing at Kakashi and the ground. He can just pick between being alive or dead. What is that? That can't be right. That just can't. Every person who I know that has died just stays dead and this teme gets to pick? That's not fair. That's just not fair.
"Anyway," Kakashi said, stirring to two from their reveries. "What I thought was interesting was how he did not want us to know about it."
"But how do you know about that?" Naruto snapped.
"Shhhh…not so loud," Kakashi whispered back. "The reason I know is because Danny's employer himself told us."
Now it was Naruto's turn to do a double-take. "His employer? Who's that?"
"The ghost Clockwork," Kakashi said. "The self-proclaimed Master of Time, and I don't feel like we should test that claim."
Naruto stopped short. "You met him?"
"Yes I did," Kakashi said.
"What was it like-wait, no. I don't want to know," Naruto said, putting trembling hands up to stop Kakashi and looking away. "I wanna be able to sleep tonight after my watch."
"Well, that's fine. The only reason I'm telling you this now is because the rest of the Jounin Sensei's and I are not sure Danny is trustworthy," Kakashi said. "Because of his obvious lie to all of us."
"But he did that mission for Tsunade," Naruto's protest was only half hearted.
"I know," Kakashi said. "And we are supposed to deceive others in our line of work. But the fact that he tried something so obvious, lying so upfront, means that, just like working with Nin from other villages, we have to be very careful. For all we know, killing Tsunade or a member of the village might be another part of his contract."
Naruto and Sakura went even paler. "How would we stop him?" Sakura asked.
"We're thinking of trying genjutsu," Kakashi said. "There seems to be no other way. We'll test it in the morning, but for now, keep on your guard."
I'll be so happy when we have Sasuke back and all this is over, Naruto thought. Then he put a determined look on his face. I don't care what we have to do; if he betrays us, we're going to kill him. I will NOT allow him to hurt my friends!
"So you won't tell us who else is watching these events?" The observant asked for the thirtieth time. "Who else are you reporting too?"
"No one," Clockwork replied, changing from an old man to a young child. "They're just watching, and growing impatient."
There was silence in the tower. "We're always watching you, and your contract-"
"Can be rendered void at any time," Clockwork replied. "And I would fade out of existence, yes I know."
"Good, now one last question," The left observant said. "Why did Phantom lie?"
"Good question," Clockwork answered, sounding surprised. "Simple. While instilled paranoia has been tempered and reduced by a year of support, love and simple goodness by his family after the Disasteroid Incident, it's still there and very present and in a medieval society ruled by ninja's with a very, as he sees it, primitive life style, and so didn't want to deal with superstitious beliefs. I mean, you saw what they did to Naruto."
"Good point, now that raises the question as to why you appeared to them and told them anyway?" The observant glared as much as it was possibly for a ghost with a floating eye with no eyebrows could.
"Because, with all the things that are going to happen in the time stream," Clockwork said, his screens going to hundreds of images, each some form of the future, some looking like things will be okay, others looking completely and absolutely disastrous…and these outnumbered the good ones by a lot. "He is completely correct to be paranoid."
"He may quit over you telling them," The observant on the right said.
"Maybe, but after explaining all of the good things he could be doing as opposed to just fighting the same ghosts every week," Clockwork shrugs. "Maybe he'll come around. Now, I need to observe the time stream, is there anything else you need."
The Observants looked at each other. "Remember that we'll be watching," one said before disappearing.
Clockwork sighed. He turned from the screens and pulled out a pile of papers with typed writing on them, bound by staple. He purposefully looked toward the silver vault on the far side of the chamber. "And soon, it'll be time for you to join this tangled mess."
Then he threw the stapled pages over his shoulder and got to work, winding his staff.
On the first of the air-born pages, on the top of the page could be seen a single word, underlined: Script.
Author's Note: Well, everyone! I'm back. And after reading and re-reading the Phantom Fox, I realized something.
I didn't plan it out at all. Like, I had nothing, just some cool events that I came up with on the fly. That script that Clockwork had before casually throwing it over his shoulder like a boss? That's new. But now, I have a bit of a plan. I've got some events, I've been thinking this through since I got back from California. One that doesn't involve me just taking out my grievances with other writers who attempt this crossover. All those events you read about were random ideas floating around in my mind.
But that stops now. There will only be a great deal of thought put into the following chapters.
I actually have ideas for a series that I might be fleshing out at some point.
Also: I hope that everyone is in character. I would imagine that a society of Ninja's would be highly suspicious of Danny and would continue to be so until he does something that makes him a friend of Konoha for life…like returning Sasuke and murdering Orochimaru.
As far as updates go, I'm going to tell you right now: I am updating because of you. You guys love this story. And since I'm the owner of it, and you've given me so much love and support through the years, even when I wasn't here to receive it, I HAVE to finish it. There's no getting around it. You guys have waited so long that I would feel terrible if I never finish it, even if I didn't like it when I left off. Even if I came to resent it for being the center of everyone's attention.
I will do my best. I can't promise a solid update schedule, or even that it will be finished before this year or next year is out, but I can promise that I will finish. Thank you all for the love, support, kindness and excellence that has come from you.
Thank you especially for helping me with Rock Lee's chakra. You guys offered some great suggestions that I am honestly surprised at myself for not using them. I was kind of a jerk there. Sorry.
Anyway, read, review, and please tell me how I could've made this chapter better. :D