It was a new experience for Naruto. He never, ever before woke up with a headache. Sleeping is supposed to be about resting and healing, so why was his head feeling like he banged it repeatedly against Tsunade's fist?
Naruto groaned and turned, refusing to open his eyes. In the next second, he was on his feet, franticly looking for his weapons.
It was all wrong. He turned to the side on which only the solid wall was supposed to be, only to feel warm sun on his face. He couldn't remember where he went to sleep last night, but it was not here. This room was unfamiliar.
But it was also empty, aside from him, so Naruto relaxed a little.
It was no wonder he couldn't find his pouch with weapons; he had nothing on him but underwear. Suspiciously bright underwear. Not just white and clean, but sparkling clean - like it was new.
Naruto took a careful look around. The room was not very big, and it was full of useless things. He could see a couple of balls lying around, home monitor screen on a narrow desk in the corner, and cloths randomly left around the floor and furniture.
The whole getting up and assessing surroundings couldn't have lasted more than four, five seconds, but Naruto felt sloppy. It was because he couldn't make anything from the things he saw. A bed and a chest of drawers indicated he was in someone's bedroom, but what would that person be doing with a monitor screen? If Naruto was trapped here, monitor for watching him should be somewhere else, right?
Then, it finally hit him why he felt he's missing something.
Naruto walked quietly, just in case, across the room to check if the door was locked. He almost yelled in surprise when they opened on the slightest pressure on the knob. The hallway was empty, so Naruto retreated back into the room. If no one was aware he is awake, he should probably find out everything he could about this place before they came.
It doesn't look like he is a prisoner. Maybe, if the whole house was locked, but even though they took his weapons, there were many things in this room he could use to escape, and to hurt someone severely, if he wanted to. So, if he was captive, people who did it were a bunch of idiots.
It was more likely he was on a mission. He couldn't remember, but he had few of those memory holes in the past. Is it possible he let Kyuubi take over again? He hated the thought, but it was the only explanation he could come up with. He was on a mission, something went wrong, and he was probably left in someone's room to recover.
On the wall behind the monitor screen there was a map of some kind. Well, it looked like map, but he couldn't recognize anything at all on it. Maybe someone draw his imaginary land, or something.
Naruto carefully opened the first drawer. There were some shirts in there, so he took the first one and checked it as carefully as he could. When there was nothing suspicious about it, Naruto put it on. It fit perfectly, and it was lovely – new and orange, pleasantly soft against his skin.
Then he found pants to match and some socks. It felt better, and even his headache was not as horrible now.
There were some books, so Naruto flipped through them. There was one he thought it could be useful – various plants were described in it, even if only small parts of text were on actual use of those plants. By the look of it, he was definitely in some foreign country, there was not a single plant he knew.
After he finished with the books, he turned to the monitor screen. It was obviously off, and Naruto never had the opportunity to see how those things work up close. There was a big button in the front, so he hit it, wondering what he will see.
There was nothing. It was broken.
Naruto sighed, and stiffened when he heard steps in the hallway. He hid quickly behind the door and held his breath, tense and waiting.
The steps, as he predicted, stopped in front of the door.
"Naruto!" a female voice called loudly. "You'll be late for school if you don't get up right now!"
Naruto couldn't help saying, he was so bewildered, "S - school?"
The woman ignored him, though, and added, "The breakfast is ready."
She left. Naruto listened her steps moving away.
School? What kind of nonsense was that? He had finished academy years ago, and there was no force in the world that would make him go back. Besides, he was too old for school, anyway. Civilians go to school much longer then trainees do in Konoha, but Naruto was not a civilian.
Except… If that was his mission.
Yes, that made sense. He was pretending he was civilian for some reason. Maybe there were some bad people at the school that needed to be exposed. This is such an inconvenient time to have a memory loss. There is nothing for if, he has to use everything Jiraiya taught him over the years and be sneaky about it. It won't do if he embarrass Konoha's name because he can't remember what kind of mission he's doing.
And these people obviously hadn't seen him going berserk; they were calling him out to have breakfast – no one would do that if they knew he had a demon in him.
Naruto decided to go and find the kitchen and people in this house, and try to find out what is it exactly that it was expected of him to do.
It took some serious wandering and checking the doors until Naruto finally stumbled into the dining room. How big is this house, anyway? Fortunately, one of the doors he opened led to the bathroom, so he washed his face and did everything else that he needed to.
There were two people sitting at the table, a red haired woman, and a vaguely familiar blond man. He tried remembering where he saw the man before, but he couldn't place him.
The woman saw him standing there at the door and smiled, "Good morning."
Yes, how rude and un-sneaky of him to forget something so simple. How will he ever find out more if he's too busy gaping to act normal?
"Morning!" he answered enthusiastically, flashing a grin.
The man, bent over the newspaper, murmured something through mouthful of eggs. Naruto decided to take it as greeting.
"What are you waiting for?" the woman raised an eyebrow at him. "It's getting cold."
The food looked delicious, so Naruto barely spared a second on suspecting them of putting poison in his food and sat on the left from the man, where there was an extra plate set. After all, if they wanted him dead, they could have just killed him when he was asleep.
He kept quiet – first, Sakura always said it wasn't polite to eat with mouth open, and these people were the polite kind, and second, if he listened carefully, he just might get some information from their conversation.
They were unfortunately silent, until the woman gasped all of the sudden.
"Naruto, what's that on your face?"
"What?" he asked, swallowing quickly, confused.
The man raised his head to look at him properly and his eyes widened, "What's that on your checks?"
Was there food on his face? Damn, and he was so careful!
Naruto tried to wipe his face with his hand. The woman stood up and came around the table to take his face into her hands.
"It looks like some… marks. Not really scares but… How long do you have this? How come I never saw it before?"
Naruto shrugged, "I don't know."
"Were you covering it with make up?"
Was he? Maybe he was, for some reason. Naruto nodded just in case. The woman was not happy with that answer; she looked worried and a little upset.
"For how long? How long have you had these?" she demanded.
Feeling uncomfortable under distressed gaze of this woman, Naruto answered, "Since I was a baby, I guess. I always had them."
A hush fell upon the room on those words. Both of them were staring at Naruto, confused.
"If you had those when you were a baby," the man said. "I assure you, we would have noticed before now."
"You can't know better then me if I had marks on my face or not since I was a baby!" Naruto was getting upset. He was trying to be professional, but what right this people had to question him like this? Were they trying to find out more about the Kyuubi? "Who are you people anyway? If this is my mission, I'll do whatever I have to, but that doesn't mean I am going to answer your questions!"
"Mission? Naruto, what are you talking about?" The man was on his feet now as well, but Naruto decided to ignore him. He was moving slowly without giving a deliberation that would suggest that he was anything more than a civilian.
"Where are my teammates?"
"Who?" the woman asked, but both the man and Naruto ignored her.
"Naruto. Sit down." the man said that in an oddly gentle tone but with firm authority in his voice. It was almost like when Jiraiya would… But no, this man was a stranger, so Naruto resisted the urge to do what he wanted.
"Did anything happen to them?" he demanded. "Did you do something to them?"
They exchanged a look. Naruto looked around for a weapon. He didn't need it, of course, but he didn't want to hurt this people, just to scare them. All the knives on the table were useless, but if he could add just enough of chakra in one…
He picked the nearest one up.
"We didn't do anything to anyone," the woman said. "Naruto, what's wrong? You were pretty late last night – did something happened?"
Well, it might have had. Naruto tried to remember where he was again, but to the last thing he remembered was – he was with the group, and he sent his clones to scout, then… Then, nothing.
"Where was I last night?" he asked, carefully.
She stepped closer, still wearing that annoyingly worried look. He stepped back, away from her. She was making his chest ache.
"Out, with your friends. I don't know exactly."
"With my friends? What friends?"
"Kiba and Shino, I believe. You are always with them."
Naruto felt the relief wash over him. So he was on a mission. Obviously - why else Kiba and Shino would be there as well?
"Where are they?" he asked.
The two of them exchanged the look again.
"On their way to school, I would imagine. Do you want… to talk to them?"
He did, and very much. They probably knew the specifics, maybe even why Naruto had a memory loss. His stomach clenched a bit on the thought they knew about Kyuubi, but there was nothing he could do right now. He did promise himself that he would tell all of them about that, anyway.
"Yes. Where is school?"
"Naruto, maybe you shouldn't go today. You don't feel very well…"
Naruto cut her off impatiently, "I'm fine. Just tell me where the school is."
"Don't use that tone with your mother, Naruto. She's worried about you," the man scorned him. Naruto opened his mouth to say that there is nothing to be worried about. Then he closed them, listening to the loud clank the knife made when it collided with the floor.
Mother? His mother? What kind of cruel joke this was?
He felt the tears gathering in his eyes - tears of rage, not of pain – and opened his mouth once again to demand to know who's behind all this.
When he focused on the faces of the people in front of him, Naruto changed his mind. They looked so honest, so worried. Maybe they were in a genjutsu, for the sake of the mission.
"Mother?" he asked, voice barely more than a gurgle. "Are you my father, then?"
It would make sense, if this man was supposed to be his father. They looked alike, same bright hair, blue eyes. Maybe this people were chosen because of it.
"Yes, I am your father." It was clear the man was trying to be firm, but there was some wavering in his tone. Naruto wondered about it. "I have been for the last sixteen years. Did you hit your head?"
"No. I just…" Naruto looked at the two of them again. Even if this was for the mission, it was very mean to make him live in the family that honestly thought he belongs with them. His heart was aching with the yearning for the look on their faces to be real. "I have to go to school."
He turned and fled the kitchen. The door leading outside had a glass slid, so he didn't have to look for the way out for long. He putt the pair of shoes he found next to the door – the black and orange ones, he liked those on the first sight – and almost ran out.
About fifteen houses down the street, he realized he was in a completely strange place, with no idea where the school he was going to could possibly be. He looked around for a bit, and sat on the sidewalk, determent to think about things those people said. If that doesn't work, he will have to knock on one of the doors and ask, and that was not a good idea. Who knows if enemies were living there, to spy on him and his mission?
Naruto felt more lost than ever in his life. He needed to find Kiba and Shino. He wanted to know where they were and why.
The steppes echoed down the empty street. Naruto tensed, afraid those people followed him. But no, this person was coming from the wrong side, it couldn't be. It was male, almost adult and definitely civilian. The noise his walk was making could wake the dead.
Naruto decided to wait for them to come near and ask for school. Hopefully, he could pretend he just forgot exactly where it was because he was the new student. No one would find that very suspicious, right? People were forgetting that kind of thing every day.
Naruto started to practice the face he should wear when he asked for help. How do you make confused face? People blink a lot when they are confused, should he blink a lot?
Why don't they just give me to kick someone's ass? I hate this sneaky business!
The steps were now very close. Naruto jerked his head to the person practically in front of him. It was… Sasuke? Fuck. Sasuke, alive and right there, all alone!
Naruto got to his feet, feeling the smile trying to take over his face, but confused as hell. What was Sasuke doing here? Were they on the mission together? They couldn't be, could they? Sasuke was still missing. But he was right here~
Sasuke halted in the mid-step. Before Naruto got over his astonishment enough to say anything, he demanded, "What the hell is that on your face?"
It was like back in the kitchen with those people. Hoping against hope he had pieces of eggs from the breakfast on his chin, Naruto wiped his mouth with the back of his hand.
Sasuke opened his mouth, in a very uncharacteristic way. Was this even Sasuke, or it was someone pretending to be him? His hair was shorter, clothes very different, and no weapons as far as Naruto could see. He concentrated again on everything Jiraiya thought him about genjutsu. He was not very good with breaking out of it, but he would at least sense he was trapped in a genjutsu, wouldn't he? He could every time during training.
"Sasuke?" Naruto heard coming out from his own mouth. "Where are we?"
Sasuke frowned. Naruto remembered the feeling of being under a sharingan genjutsu when he had last met Itachi, it was different then anything he had ever experienced. And Sasuke was in his head before. Maybe he was behind all this after all? Would Sasuke be so cruel to make those people act as family to him?
He didn't know if he asked something or not. Sasuke said, "Are you on drugs?" Naruto frowned. Why would he be on drugs? He was fine. "You're late for school."
So, Sasuke knew he was supposed to go to school. Maybe he would tell him where it was.
"School?" he asked, hoping for hints while looking Sasuke up and down. He felt real. He looked like Sasuke. But, the body language was all wrong. This person seemed uncomfortable. Even… frightened.
Without thinking it through, Naruto made a simple offensive move. There was nothing, no reaction, nothing. He went on to trip Sasuke, like the way the kids used to do in the first year in the Academy and it worked.
This person wasn't Sasuke. This person wasn't a shinobi.
"You," Naruto said, his voice coming out as a growl, "are not Sasuke. Who are you and where am I? Who are those people who said they're my parents?"
If he wasn't sure before, he was sure now. This person was scared shitless. Scared of Naruto.
"Naruto, I am Sasuke."
"You look like Sasuke, but you move wrong. You let me sit on your chest." Naruto had to snort on the thought Sasuke would let him do that. "Sasuke would never do that."
"I'm Sasuke Uchiha," the Sasuke look-alike said in a firmer voice. "I live three streets from here with my brother. You and I… we were friends when we were kids."
Uh-huh, and then you ran away, you stupid asshole, Naruto thought. Whatever it was that was going on, someone did their research well.
Wait, did he say that he was living with Itachi?
"With your brother? Itachi?" Sasuke nodded, and Naruto laughed. "You're not doing a very good job of convincing me not to kill you."
His words, or laugh or something, intensified the imposter's fear to point where Naruto could feel it hitting him in waves. He murmured, "You look scared, you know,"
"I am scared. What's the hell is wrong with you?"
No, this person was not aware of whatever was it that was going on. There was no way anyone could fake that desperation, that waver, the way body tenses when someone is afraid.
It couldn't be genjutsu. It didn't feel like genjutsu, And why would anyone bothered? Those people, to convince them so Naruto could infiltrate, yes, but Sasuke?
Naruto looked around, at the vehicles he was avoiding to think about later, at the weird houses.
"…You are completely insane," Sasuke said quietly.
And there was no helping it, Naruto was thinking about this person like he was Sasuke. It was impossible not to, even with him laying uselessly under Naruto on the road. Naruto let him off. Sasuke got on his feet with some effort, clumsily.
Was it the looks? Or someone was messing with his head, wanting him to believe this? That was cruel. Almost as cruel as making those people think they were his parents.
"Minato and Kushina? They are your parents."
He must have said something aloud to get that response. He said, "I don't have any parents. You're supposed to want Itachi dead – he probably is dead by now." Something caught his attention from the edge of his sight and Naruto glanced up. "And what is that?"
It was some sort of flying machine, nothing like anything Naruto had ever seen before.
He got no answer, just a shrug. Perhaps this Sasuke didn't know exactly either. Naruto followed the flying thing with his eyes, trying to estimate how big it was. It didn't look suitable for fighting. Not for stealthy fighting, anyway. How would they hide that thing? No, it wasn't a weapon. Probably.
Perhaps it just got people to the place of fight, if it was far away. Yeah, that sounded more likely.
Sasuke cleared his throat and Naruto looked at him. "Maybe you should just go along with it for now. See how it's like to have parents. Go to school."
See how it's like to have parents? Yeah. Right.
But he was heading for school anyway, he recalled. Those people said he was with Kiba and Shino last night.
"Okay," he said, thinking that it was safe enough to ask. "Where is that school?"
"Come on, I'm going there as well," Sasuke offered, though he didn't sound overly sure about it. "We have to hurry, you're already late."
Sasuke continued to the same direction he was heading before. Naruto followed him.