Disclaimer: I Don't own Naruto or Bleach.
"Crimson Rose Garden"
This was an odd awakening.
He just.. opened his eyes. There was no morning drowsiness, no yawn, no muddled thoughts and half remembered dreams.
One moment he... slept? Did he sleep?
'I.. I didn't sleep, did I?' He blinked. 'No... It was something...'
Searing pain in his stomach made him curl fetaly.
The pain vanished.
Carefuly, slowly, he uncurled, sitting up.
'What a strange feeling... that was...' Naruto shook his head slowly 'Pain but... odd. As if...' He shook his head again uncertainly 'As if not quite THERE...'
The blond stood up.
He expected to be unsteady, either from pain or the...coma? Yes. Coma fit it nicely.
But... He still felt odd. Light. Like that one time he spent almost three days awake practicing bunshin. Like that time, everything was... crisp. Clear like jagged shards of glass. But that it was muted. As if he was smothered in velvet.
This one.. was different. Omniously so. But not in a bad way. And omnious should be bad. Only it wasn't. He honestly didn't know how to think about that.
Naruto shook his head yet again.
'No point in dwelling on it, I guess...' He thought with a grimace.
The whole situation was annoying. Everything was just... shifted. All there but not.
He hated things like that. They made his head hurt. And made him brood. He didn't brood. He didn't allow himself to brood.
Sasuke-teme could brood all he wanted...
He fell to his knees, clutching his stomach.
He heaved, clawing at the stabbing pain that flashed yet again.
The jinchuuriki shut his eyes, refusing the tears that threatened to fall.
He didn't CRY dammit!
Naruto gritted his teeth, refusing to bow to yet another wave of pain.
Stench... Stench of venom, of spraying serpentine guts... Of pure, tangible terror he refused to admit... Of pasty face and yellow, serpentine eyes...
He howled, striking the ground, trying to distract himself from pain.
"Wh..at..is..happ..eni..ing..to..ME?!" Naruto heaved out painfully.
What did that fucking snake bastard DO to him?!
His eyes opened, glaring hatefully.
He saw red.
And the pain passed. Like before. Without a trace.
He took several deep breaths, trying to chase away the vertigo. Only there was nothing to get rid of.
The young ninja blinked in surprise.
"How...odd." He muttered, standing up once again.
His eyes widened.
A delicate, sublime fragrance, carried by the gentle breeze sweapt around him like a gentlest of caressess. Delicate petals twisted and danced briefely, as if for his amusement. The crimson leafed trees swayed gently, along with rows of roses... the most beautiful crimson roses he had seen in his life.
This... wasn't the Forest of Death.
If anything, it looked more like a garden. A very strange garden, since there were only the odd crimson trees and roses. Not a very neat one, too, since the flowers grew in a haphazard, but strangely appealing manner. Indeed, despite it's oddly chaotic look, it was the single most beautiful garden he had seen in his life. And the biggest one. In fact, it was bigger than the whole Konoha commercial district by a good margin.
"Okay... Where the HELL am I?!"
He didn't know how long he kept walking through the marvellous garden. It could have been hours, it could have been seconds. It could have been years, for all he knew.
It was odd how the time seemed to twist in this place. Even odder for him, since he always could tell which hour it was. Beeing too poor to own a watch, oher than then the old, beat up clock he had in his appartament, he taught himself to deal. Here... he couldn't. And it was one of the minor oddities. If an unnerving one.
Like the strange rose bushes that had thorns, but didn't prick him once.
Like the paths that weren't there before, but seemed to be right there when he took a turn.
Like the sky, blue and coudless that smeed to crisp to be for real.
At first he taught it was ome werid genjutsu but...
Kai didn't work. At all.
He tried and tried and tried... The garden didn't budge. It was still there. Odd, haphazard and smug.
Naruto gritted his teeth.
"Okay... I've HAD it with you!" He growled, reaching for his kunai pouch.
There was more than one way to break genjutsu, after all. He wasn't exactly a fan of cutting himself... But what alternative did he have?
His fingers went for the clasp... Only to grasp air.
'Oh you gotta be kidding me...' The blond thought with a scowl, looking at his tigh.
The kunai holster was gone. So was the shuriken pouch. Hell, even that nifty reserve senbon he picked up after the Wave misadventure and kept for emergencies was gone!
"Greeeeat! Simply fucking GREAT!" He said sullenly, before looking at his fingers.
He hated to do that but...
Naruto bit his hand. And yelped.
He didn't know that his teeth were quite THAT sharp.
"Not a genjutsu." The jinchuuriki said with a scowl, trying to avoid looking at the bloody pinpricks on his palm. "So where the hell am I?"
This wasn't Forest of Death. It was too big. And he was quite sure it couldn't be anywhere near Konoha either.
He had spent a lot of time in the Konoha forests as a kid and what grew in this odd garden didn't anything like he had encountered in his life.
Besides... The garden was just too strange.
It had plants, it had flowers and grass... But there was silence. No birds singing, no animal tracks... Hell, no insects even. An impossibility. Only roses and odd trees all around.
And no way out in visible radius.
He sat at the ground with a heavy sigh.
"What the hell am I supposed ot do now?" he muttered tiredly.
Naruto blinked, catching something in the corner of his eye.
His eyebrow twitched.
'Oh don't tell me...'
He turned. Slowly.
And there it was.
Taller than the Hokage tower but smoother. Not as rugged. In fact, it looked anything but. But it wasn't frail either. It had an odd sense of strength in it, of majesty and authority, but it was also breathtakingly beautiful.
The crimson rooftiles glinted merilly in the sun, the graceful form rising from the ground, preening in the sun like beautiful seductress in the circle of smitten admirers.
At that moment, Naruto felt like one of them.
The castle made the sketches of the Fire Country Daimyo's opulent residences Naruto saw during the Academy lessons seem like drawings of a poor man's hut.
Naruto started walking before his brain catched up to his body.
He was too absorbed to see the rose bushes twist gracefully from his way, creating a rosy path. He was oblivious to strange trees shedding the crimson leaves under his feet as well.
Calling the castle cool would be like an utter blasphemy to him.
He was never that good with words, leaving the flowery speeches to stuck up assholes thinking themselves too good to talk like normal people. But this time, he regretted his limited vocabulary.
Impressive just didn't cut it once he was up close and walked inside.
The halls were spacious and wide, but without that hollow feeling of emptiness big buildings often had. The walls were decorated with wood more beautiful than gold, sparkled sparingly with jewels, crimson carpets were rich and alive with extrardinarly detailed patterns which made Konoha's Clan Houses look poor and unsophisticated but...
It was warm. Invting.
Naruto, despite the rich patterns, precious wood and exuisite craftsmanship, didn't feel what he deemed as 'stuck up vibes' from this place at all.
It wasn't intimidating or gaudy in the least. Rich. Probably expensive as hell but not gaudy. Tasteful.
Even Naruto, despite being a loud, orange loving barbarian, could appreciate it. It wasn't the type of beauty that struck you in the face with a diamond hammer with a golden handle, but rather the one that gently drew you in with a mysterious smile, hazy scent of incense, whispered promise and an elusive promise of rosy fragrance...
The genin blinked.
'Speaking of roses...' He frowned, smelling the air.
It was the smell... But it wasn't like the one in the garden. It was rosy, but also had something metallic in it. Something that touched his tounge with a half forgotten taste. It was heavy but inobtrusive at the same time. If Naruto could desribe it, he would call it 'encompassing'.
Caressing his memory like a sharp, cold steel draped in silk.
Drawing him in.
He didn't notice he sped up until he cleared the long corridor and froze.
The chamber was magnificent. Corridors, for all of their beauty, didn't hold a candle to the rich beauty of tapestries, golden etchings and silken curtains inside the champer.
But Naruto didn't see it.
He saw nothing.
Nothing except the woman on the carpet.
He stopped regretting his lack of education. No flowery words would help him now.
A pale, long fingered and delicate hand gracefully snapped the rich, crimson fan open.
Naruto's eyes flollowed the hand, captivated and entraced.
Rich, crimson hued lips quirked a mysterious smile.
Naruto swallowed again.
She was single most unearthly beautiful woman he had ever seen andnd would ever see, of that he had no doubt. No woman could equal the goddess in front of him.
Her face, like the skin, was pale, but glowed ethereally, her godlike curves clad in loose, excuisite kimono that was partially slid from her shoulders. The face was angular, cheekbones prononced gently in the alluring fashion, her impossibly long, straight hair a curtain of raven silk.
The eyes, two glowing rubies of purest red gazed at him, holding both mirth and some sort of mysterious knowledge and promise that made his knees weak from a single look.
Noticing his gaze she stretched sinously, her grace and underlying sensuality that premanated the very air around her making Naruto's eyes widen as his face heated up. The woman's smile got wider and with one graceful move, she snapped her fan shut.
Her kimono whispered gently through the air as she rose, flowing to the paralysed blonde with a smile.
Naruto stood, too entranced by her steps to so much as breathe, much less move. His heart jumped wildly like wild animal when she took his face in between her warm palms.
The world around him stopped existing, and he didn't care.
"My beloved..." She breathed, her voice husky, her lips warm, her gaze hungry but full of promise.
Time lost any meaning.
He burned and went to hell.
He froze and went to heaven.
He rose from ashes only to drown in the hot breath, feather light, silky touch of her lips and a kiss that seemed to kill and resurrect him at the same time until remembered how to breathe. Lightning ran through his veins. Warm breath and sensous touch burned inside him. Twisting. Turning. Begging. Howling. Welcoming.
She let his lips go, touchin her forehead to his.
"I.." He halted as she touched his lips with a fingers.
"Shhh... It is not the time for questions, my beloved." She whispered "Just let me bask in your presence once more... Let me welcome you home."
"Who..." She halted him with a warm breath into his ear.
"But you know who... Don't you, my beloved?" She whispered huskily, drawing hims close "Reach within your soul... And whisper my name.. Once again."
Something inside of him twisted. Something reached out. Something opened its eyes.
Naruto opened his mouth, desperate for the sound that wasn't coming.
"Don't force it... It is yours, like I am... Forever." She breathed gently "Just let it flow... Let it hold you like I do."
He melted into warm grip, closing eyes, breathing in the rosy, metallic scent. Scent, that he realised was one he knew intimately on some level. It had fragance of crimson flowers. It had heavy tinge of metal. It had sweet and slaty tinge... Tinge of freshly spilled blood.
"Yesssss..." she whispered huskily "Say my name... Make us whole again... Do you feel my warmth? Do you feel my love? Let me walk with you again so you will never be alone again, like before... Whisper the words into me, like before... Grasp me tightly and never let go... I will never leave you, for I am..."
Naruto opened his eyes to see her smile widen even as he burried his palms in silky darkness of her hair that flashed with burgundy tinge for the briefest of seconds.
"Benihime..." He breathed out kissing her without hesitation as the world dissolved into crimson stream that swept everything around them.
'Damn. What is that noise?'
"...out of the way!"
'Noisy, noisy noisy! God my head hurts...'
'Cut that out... That screech... FUCK my head hurts!'
'I swear one more time...!'
"You're not fooling anyone...!"
'That's. It. THAT'S FUCKING IT.'
The blue eyes snapped open.
Without a second glance a hand grasped the hilt that wasn't there a second before.
The world halted.
The blue eyes swept the sorroundings ponly to narrow in cold, calculating fury.
The world kicked into high gear.
Sakura had no idea what had happened, really.
One momment she was hitting the ground and trying to move, to run, to counter... to do anything, really, with her body as messed up as it was...
Then the air sang with a mournful howl.
Her eyes widened, seeing the back of Naruto's unmistakably familiar orange jumpsuit.
"Naru...to?" her voice trailed off as her loudmouth of a teammate turned to her.
His usually cheerful, animated blue eyes were cold and went even colder when he took in her ragged state.
She shivered unconciously.
That kind of gaze, that cold, calculated anger... That feeling of pure dread she had, even though it wasn't directed at her...
Even Sasuke's eyes weren't as cold.
Naruto's eyes were cold like a glacier, and glinting like the blade in his hand.
'Sword?' She thought dumbly 'But Naruto doesn't use swords...? Where did he get one?'
It was a strange weapon, longer and wider that the standard shinobi sword she was used to seeing. More like the one carried by samurai, though its hilt was little odd.
Naruto turned to the Oto genin team.
"What the fuck?!" growled the black haired boy with strange tunnels in his palms. "Weren't you out cold just five fucking seconds ago?"
Naruto's gaze swept the surprised trio dispasionately for a second.
Then his mouth opened. Words came out.
And with a flash of the sword... Everything changed.
Shikamaru, along with the rest of Team 10 watched the... fight.
'Fight...? This isn't a fight... This is a slaughter!' Shikamaru thought dumbfounded.
Shikamaru thought he knew Naruto.
Sure, they weren't close or anthing, but there is a certain camraderie to be had when you play truant together. And despite the guy being troubesomly energetic, Shikamaru didn't mind Naruto too much. Sure, the guy was loud, obnoxious and somewhat dim at times... But he was a geniunly good person, even with all that shitty life of his. Shikamaru wasn't blind or deaf. And he was a genius, if an incredibly lazy one.
Naruto was hated by the adults. For what, he didn't understand, but the hate was there. Not by all, to be sure, but those that didn't hate him held, at best, cold indifference.
He couldn't understand why, really. Naruto was troublesome, especially with his pranks, but he was the type that would give you last shirt of his back if you were cold. Not much of a ninja, true, but a good guy.
This... this person... This person swinging that oddly decorated but deadly looking sword with a calm and unhurried precission and cold, menacing anger... This wasn't Naruto at all.
Naruto wasn't precise. Naruto was enthusiastic and sloppy.
And he was damn sure Uzumaki Naruto didn't know how to use a sword, much less a crazy expensive looking, exotic blade he was swining.
'Or one capable of doing something like that' Shikimaru's eyes narrowed as the gleaming weapon batted aside the wave of chakra-infused air with one swipe.
It could have been a jutsu, but Naruto didn't make any seals... And only swords he ever heard of beeing capable of such feats were the swords of Mist Seven and the legendary Raijin.
Just where did a dead last, dirt poor and hated orphan get his hands on such a powerful weapon?
"Damn..." Ino whispered in awe as Naruto blocked the handful of senbon from the Sound girl while dodging yet another Zankuuha at the same time. "He is almost as fast as Sasuke-kun!" she said in astonishment
'No. He's faster.' Shikamaru thought dumbly 'This... Damn... To do something like this you'd need to go far beyond genin level... Maybe even beyond chuunin.'
The blond was almsot toying with the genin he was fighting.
'So why doesn't he...?'
His eyes narrowed as he stared at Naruto.
"Shit... This is bad." he muttered finally.
"What?" Ino turned to him
"His wounds... He is beat up and tired. Being like that he won't..." Shikamaru trailed of before scowling, as a Zankuuha nicked the blonde shinobi in the leg. Naruto didn't so much as wince, but his loss of speed was more than enough.
Ino stared contemplatively for a second at Sakura's beat up form before straightening, her eyes determined.
"Shikamaru... Let's go."
'So troublesome...' He thought with a sigh.
Still, he went.
Naruto's legs trembled. His hands quivered. Still, his grip on Benihime didn't loosen a bit.
Scrapes, cuts... Each burned ten time worse than usual.
He gritted his teeth, stabbing Benihime into the ground just to avoid falling to his knees.
'Sorry...' He thought, leaning is forehead on the hilt.
A wave of warmth enveloped him and for a briefest of momment he could swear he felt delicate hands embracing him.
The blond smiled tiredly, before scowling.
He made a mistake... He fucked up royally.
He should have gone for the crippling blows outright... now he paid the price.
'Well... at least Shikamaru and the rest have things under con-' His eyes widened when the sound girl that Ino posessed with Shintenshin was blasted by that annoying air blast.
Naruto stared numbly.
'That was... their teammate...' He thought incredously 'How can they...'
The jinchuuriki gritted his teeth.
'Bastards...' He grasped Benihime's handle, drawing himself up as he felt his blood boiling 'Bastards who don't take care of their comrades...' The boil jumped up to high burn '...This kind of trash doesn't deserve to LIVE!' Ignoring the exhaustion he pulled the Benihime out from the ground.
He felt brief vertigo but he ignored it by sheer willpower.
'Please... Benihime.' Naruto thought closing eyes for a second.
The sword vibrated almost unnoticeably and almost inaudible, lilting sound filled the air.
The blond smiled.
He took a step forward, ready to sing Benihime once again, only to freeze.
"...knocked out freak is from our team and... You are going to pay for that."
He turned to the tree, spying two teenagers, boy and a girl with Konoha hitai ate. The girl he didn't know, but the strange eyes the boy had he knew well enough.
'That's that Hyuuga guy teachers were speaking about last year... Nadi, Keji... Ah! Neji!' He thought lowering Benihime and chuckled tiredly.
'Lucky... I guess.' Naruto thought with a wince.
As much as he hated to admit it, fighting right now would be suicide. He could barely stand and his chakra felt odd. Or rather, didn't feel at all. Without his chakra and with wounds like that he would be rather screwed.
Benihime's blade vibrated for a second.
'Ah... Sorry.' he smiled apolegtically with a sheepish grin
The vibration stopped but he couldn't shake of the feeling she was huffing in annoyance.
Naruto stiffened, hefting Benihime in defensive position on pure instinct as a spike of... something was felt through the air.
He had no idea what it was, but it felt WRONG.
It had a stench of death in it, stench of lingering agony that made him want to spit and vomit at the same time.
"Sasuke-kun.. You're AWAKE!"
Naruto's head turned and he paled.
The stench was coming off Sasuke, and it was getting stronger.
Then he had a good look on his face.
'What the FUCK?!'
'This... this is wrong... This is...WRONG...'
Naruto hated himself for just standing there as his tammate and, bastard though he was, a friend, tore into Oto genin team with a glee of a child pulling out the legs from an insect, one at a time, just to see it squirm.
He hated it. He hated himself for not stopping it but... He just stood there numbly.
'Sasuke... what...' The blond heaved, swallowing heavily. The agonal stench was horrible. It took all of his willpower not to vomit right here and there.
His eyes followed Sasuke numbly.
The boy was moving fast. Faster than ever before, faster than he did on the bridge, Naruto was sure. Yet he tracked him without trouble. But he didn't think about that. He didn't think about much of anything really, watching as is best friend mangled the Oto nins... and had a ball of the time, judging from the crazed grin.
'...This isn't Sasuke... This isn't Sasuke at all...'
His hands gripped Benihime tightly as Sasuke toyed with the sound genin.
''Stop... Sasuke...snap out of it...'
Unconsciously, he took a step, Benihime tracing a slow arc away from him, rady for another dash and cut.
Sasuke gripped the air wave guy's arm tightly and broke them like one would wooden stick. Smiling. Smiling like a child with a new toy.
'Sasuke... YOU...!' Naruto thought incredously.
Benihime gleamed, letting looose a low, lilting sound as Naruto gritted his teeth.
Sasuke turned to Dosu.
Benihime's blade vibrated with increasing intensity as Naruto stiffened.
Sasuke stood in the pinkhaired teammate's embrace. Then the odd marks on his face and arm retracted, the agonal stench with them.
Naruto sighed tiredly, lowering the sword and sat on the ground heavily, closing his eyes, his hands stroking Benihime's hilt gently, tuning out the voices around him.
'What a fuckin' mess...'
He wanted nothing more to close his eyes and sleep for a week. He felt so damn tired...
The blond opened his eyes, rising his sword and giving it a careful look. It looked odd, unlike any kind of sword he had seen in his life. Longer than ninjato used by ANBU, clealry a full sized katana but wider by fair margin, though not massive like Zabuza's monster of a weapon. It was also straight, unlike most katana he had seen samurai using. The hilt was odd, mix of crimson and gold and very ornamental with some kind of red cloth at the curved end of it. For all of her oddity... she was the most beautiful thing he had ever seen.
He inspected the blade. Despite some of his swings cutting into the ground and stones and batting that freakishly powerful air wave there wasn't a nick on it.
"You are really great, aren't you, Benihime?" Naruto smiled happily "Not even a scratch..." The edge gleamed in the sun, almost preening to look her best and he could swear he heard a purr and a hot, rose scented breath on his lips accompanied by an odd feeling of mischevious anticipation.
For some reason he felt both happy and scared shitless for a brief second, though he had no idea why.
The genin stared at the blade for a moment more, simply admiring it's beauty before lowering her with a frown. He would have to get some sort of a scabbard for her. And since Benihime didn't look anywhere near like a standard katana, he would need to have one custom made.
This was going to cost him.
Damn merchants overpriced him on regular basis if they allowed him to shop at all. Still, for Benihime, he would bear with it. She was worth everything he had to give and more.
He sighed, pulling out a roll of clean, thick bandage from his pocket.
"Sorry, Benihime..." Naruto muttered apolegtically, patting the sword awkwardly. "It's all I have for now. I'll get you something better as soon as I can, I promise."
He felt a feather touch of a hand on his cheek and a warm whisper in his ear. He basked in it for a moment before gently wrapping the bandage around the sword in a way that would allow him to shrug the impromptu covering quickly.
Naruto craned his neck up, seeing the silk clad girl that was with Neji earlier. Her brown hair were in the twin buns and she had really nice, honey brown eyes, something he only now noticed.
"Heh, yeah. She's the greatest." Naruto grinned, rubbing the hilt gently
The girl smiled, rising her eyebrow in amusement.
"Yup." Naruto nodded "Her name is Benihime. Cool, ain't she?" he said with pride
The girl nodded, giving the blade speculative glance.
"Seems ornamental... More like a show piece that a functional weapon, but... This blade is no joke." she leaned looking at the endge curiously."Not even a nick... and you cut kunai with it, too... Amazing." she mused, her eyes taking in every little detail with an unabashed curiosity.
"Huh?" Naruto blinked. "How did you know?"
"Hmm?" She looked at Naruto blankly, shaken out of her reverie before waving "Oh we saw you fight those Oto guys. Nice technique, by the way. Flashy, but nice. I didn't know there were sword specialists in your year."
"Sword specialists?" Naruto scratched his head, squinting in confusion "But I don't remember Iruka-sensei mentioning that...
"Well you must have..." Tenten trailed off.
"What?" Narutoo asked defensively.
"You mean to tell me you learned all of it from your Jounin sensei?" She said sceptically "Learned that in, what, four, five moths you have been a genin?"
"Uhh... No?" Naruto said with confusion.
Tenten opened her mouth...
"Kakashi-sensei never taught me how to use a sword." the blond frowned "He didn't teach me much of anything really, come to think of it." Naruto grumbled.
Her mouth moved for a few seconds, no sound coming out.
She finaly closed it.
"Hey, hey... You all right?" Naruto asked carefuly.
"Just...peachy..." Tenten mutered dazedly.
If she understood the blond right, he just implied he had never been trained how to use the sword properly. Not in the academy, which wasn't unusual since they barely taught how to use kunai properly unless you were exceptionally talented, like she was. Not from his sensei either... Which meant that the kid, that dead last prankster she had heard teachers grumble about had fought, as incredible as it seemed, on instinct.
And yet he had shown easy skill and familiarity only a seasoned swordsman posessed.
On goddamn instinct alone.
Any other nin might feel jealous. Tenten had a right to. She spent countless hours practicing with weaponry to get where she was now, and this boy had just shown a skill that could, with bit of training, easily equal her own swordsmanship to hers... Without doing any of the hard work.
But Tenten didn't feel jealous. Not much, anyway. A little envy, true, but...
Weapon masters among Konoha nins were excedingly rare, comparing to ther villages. Konoha had the largest arsenal of jutsu in the world, mostly thanks to the Uchiha Clan and their Sharingan and genius Jutsu architects like Nidaime or Sarutobi. Also, the large ammount of bloodline limits in the village, coupled with preference and avaliabilty of jutsu meant weapon mastery was not something held in high esteem by Konoha nins.
To find another aspiring weapon master in her generation... One with so much raw talent no less...
Tenten decided right there and then that Uzumaki Narruto was definetely someone worth knowing better. The fact that he had a damn fine sword she would love to try out had nothing to do with it.
She heard a familiar grunt and turned to see a clearly annoyed Neji who stood with battered Lee nearby.
The Hyuuga prodigy scowled at her.
Tenten nodded, before turning to her fellow weapon master.
"Let's meet again, Naruto-san." she said with a smile "I'm sure we'll have much to talk about. So don't lose, okay?"
She turned, walking to her team.
She stopped, looking at the squinting blonde.
"What's your name?"
She flashed a smile, twirling a kunai in her fingers.
"Tenten, Naruto-san. My name is Tenten." She said throwing the kunai up and turning to her teammates again.
Before she made a step, the blade fell from the air into her kunai harness without a hitch as if she just slid it there.
A moment later, the Team Gai was gone.
"Cool." he said with a grin.
He definetly wouldn't mind getting to know a girl like that.
Naruto stared at the sword contemplatively.
Ever since he used her on the Oto team he felt odd.
Weaker. But stronger. More alive but...
He winced, rubbing his stomach.
Whatever that Snake freak 'Orochimaru - he reminded himself' did to him, he couldn't feel his chakra at all. He couldn't feel Kyuubi's chakra either.
He wasn't stupid. If Orochimaru really had cut off his chakra completely, he shouldn't be able to move like he did. Not as fast. Not as strong. Sure, the speed drained away extremely quickly and he felt like a walking corpse after it, but when he was moving... Even when Kyuubi powered him on the Bridge he wasn't half as fast. He had Sasuke beat on speed for that brief few moments during that fight with the Oto team. He was sure of that. And what did he do back then...
He did SOMETHING. Something important. Those words he spoke to Benihime... He knew that it was important He did it on instinct, but he had no idea WHY. Yet they scratched at the edge of his memory like persistent splinters in his brain, driving him crazy each time he thought about them.
'Shit. This is confusing.' The blond scowled
A smack to the head brought him to reality.
"What was that for?!" he whined, glaring at the obviously irritated Sakura
"Idiot!" she scowled "Don't zone out when Sasuke-kun is speaking!"
"Yeah, yeah... Bastard..." He groused and winced as he was struck again
"And don't call Sasuke-kun names either!" she growled.
"Please... Be silent, Sakura-san." Kabuto, the white haired genin that joined them pushed his glassess up with annoyance.
Sasuke just glared.
"Sorry Kabuto-san." Sakura said meekly.
Kabuto sighed, opening his mouth, before freezing and looking at Naruto oddly for a moment.
The blond shinobi scowled, finally having enough if the intense gaze.
"What?!" he growled
"Naruto-san... Do you know that you radiate almost no chakra?" Kabuto said in astonishment.
"What are you...?" Naruto scoffed, trying to hide his disability.
"Naruto-san... Please. I'm a medic nin. It's my job to know such things." Kabuto said flatly
"...The snake-freak bastard stabbed me in the stomach and fucked up my chakra." He admitted reluctantly.
"Stabbed you say... Hmm..." Kabuto muttered "Could you show me?"
"Why?" The jinchuuriki asked suspiciously.
"Because it sounds like some kind of a seal... And I might be able to help you with that." Kabuto said simply.
Naruto nodded, lifting his shirt.
Kabuto studied the marks for a while before shaking his head ruefully.
"This is indeed a seal but..." he shrugged helplessly "I'm afraid it's far beyond my abilites. You would need a jounin well versed in seals to so much as try and I'm not sure he would suceed either. Not in the current conditions, anyway." The medic ammended "It should be easy enough to remove in proper medical facilities."
"Idiot!" Sakura screeched, though there was a clear wory in her eyes "Why didn't you tell us!"
"It wasn't your business!" Naruto scowled, allowing the shirt to fall
"Ah... Sakura-san is right, Naruto-san... You could have endangered your teammates this way." pointed out the medic-nin
"Just try to stay out of our way from now on." he said, resuming their run
Naruto stood, countless clones sorrounding him.
His eye twitched.
'This is...ironic in a way.' He thought with irritation 'Karma really is a bitch.'
He caught Sasuke's sharingan activating in the corner of his eye and scowled.
'And here he goes again...The Uchiha Almighty Bloodlimit saves the day yet again while the good ol' Naruto can't even use chakra. Yay.' He thought sarcastically 'Or maybe not...' Naruto winced as Sasuke's legs trembled and the Uchiha fell to his knees, obviously in pain.
The hinchuuriki yelped, barely ducking a kunai, only to catch two in his left arm.
He started dnacing around the prjectiles like demented rabbit on speed, but it wasn't enough. The clones, the genjutsu... It all covered the kunai too well.
He screamed, feeling yet another blade bite a surface wound on his leg.
"ARGGHHHHHHHH! I've had FUCKING ENOUGH OF YOU!" Naruto roared and without thinking he swung his sword down at the nearest clone.
There was a strange, now-familiar feeling of something twsting, of something flowing deep inside him.
Benihime, for a briefest fraction of a second seemed to, of all things, laugh.
Then the ground exploded, scattering the clones, cutting the trees and gouging a deep crater into the ground, uncovering the severly wounded Rain nins.
Kabuto, Sakura and Sasuke stared.
"That'll...teach...'em...!" he said between gasps.
Kabuto whistled, before eying Benihime speculatively.
"Now that's... some weapon." he said shaking his head in amazement.
"Heh heh..." Naruto smiled tiredly "You don't know the half of it."
Sasuke's fist clenched, nails digging into his palms and drawing blood.
Sasuke and Kabuto watched the back of the young ninja as he walked away, one with jealousy, other with calculating curiosity.
My deepest gratitude to people of The Fanfiction Forum ran by Hawk and his trusty cadre. You people are great and it wouldn't be written without you.
Also, special thanks go to:
SoftRogue - for starting the trend of Naruto/Bleach corssess on TFF with his awesome Spiraling Out of Control fic.
Griever - inspiration, encouragment and comments.
Aledeth - My editor, the poor guy. )
Teko - omakes, omakes OMAKES!
Special thanks also go to RevanantDragoon (sumary, thanks man), GenocideHeart, bzzt3421 (another courageous soul to edit my stories) MightyBob, Typhonis (your comments are priceless) GaelicDragon, Holyknight and too many people to name in these already too long AN. Thank you for your support.