all my shit on my computer got erased because, as usual, i'm having mac problems. this is the third mac. motherfuckkkerrr someone shoot steve jobs. why do i have all apple and nothing works? anyway. i just belted this shit out so... not betad, prolly lots of mistakes. ah, well.


synchronicity

.

come on baby,

DONT FEAR THE REAPER

.

But just because he didn't like the sound of it, didn't mean he liked the journey any better.

It could have been marginally more acceptable had he not been plodding along the dirt road with what could possibly be the most perverted man in existence, gawking syrupy gazes to the hems of every passing girl's skirt. Not to mention that he could very well be their grandfather. Naruto could do little else aside from roll his eyes—roll them, and look around wearily for whatever sign of trouble Kyuubi had been warning him of.

Though there was little else on the trail, aside from birds, girls, and the occasional old man with his walking stick.

"You were serious about that whole training thing, right?"

"That's right." Jiraiya answered, looking like he clearly wasn't paying attention. No, it was all used up on the brunette walking by them.

Naruto scowled. "So why aren't we training yet?"

"Be patient, kid." The old man had the gall to pat his back patronizingly. "Wait till we get to the city. Trust me, I've got only good things coming for you."

Yeah, Naruto thought, irritably, the last time I trusted you, you threw me off a fifty-foot cliff. Fat chance of that.

What was even more concerning, aside from Jiraiya and his questionable ways, was the echoing silence that was usually replaced by Kyuubi's snide, ill-meaning remarks. Naruto couldn't remember the last time he had spent almost thirty minutes without any sort of berating, mean-spirited comment.

Finally, it ended up being too much for the blonde, all the worrying, and all the anxiety—"Hey, come on perverted Sennin Let's get started with the training."

Jiraiya huffed. "What did I say about patience…? Anyway, don't get too fired up. We still need to gather information about Tsunade. There's really not much of a point in training before we do so."

Naruto blinked. "Gather information?" He repeated, slowly. Who was Tsunade?

He hadn't even realized that the craggy, rocky scenery had given way to an enormous cavern in the stone, roped around with metal railings and the walls chiseled with long stair cases into the bustling city in the canyon.

"This is the town!" Said the Sannin, with a wide wave.

Naruto gave an appreciative nod. It wasn't anything as great as Suna, the twinkling town that stood unwaveringly in the desert, but had he not been so well traveled already he may have been completely taken aback by this city's beauty.

Jiraiya led him down the winding stairs and into the ebbing sea of flowing crowds. "This will be a break before training starts," Jiraiya began with a chuckle and a smile. "Until the festival is over." He added.

"Alright." Naruto nodded. Jiraiya had only confirmed his suspicions—the old man probably didn't have anything to teach him at all, he was just using this ruse as a ploy to lure Naruto willingly out of the city without any questions. But who had set Jiraiya up to take him?

Was the Sandaime aware?

"Catch you later, then!" Naruto called, before abruptly darting off. As he wiggled around through the crowd, he sneaked a peek behind him. The Sannin wasn't following him. If he was supposed to be watching him, he certainly wasn't doing a very good job. Not with his distracted attention, darting to the shortest skirt and the biggest cleavage, anyway.

The blonde wandered around a little more, wondering if it was possible that whoever was after him would look at all these people and decide it wasn't worth it. Without all that orange, he blended in pretty evenly. Maybe not, then.

"I wouldn't count on that."

Naruto's eyes widened, before quickly narrowing in surprise. "I thought you weren't supposed to talk to me?"

"No. No one is supposed to know of your connection. I stopped talking to you for a brief respite to think without your constant useless—

"Hey!"

"At any rate," The demon harrumphed. "It's not a matter of if they will catch you, but when."

"How would you know?" Naruto scoffed, crossing his arms as he childishly shook his head, even though Kyuubi clearly couldn't see it. "I have gotten stronger y'know. Maybe not as strong as you—

"And not nearly as strong as them." Kyuubi cut him off heedlessly.

"But if I can't fight them off, and I can't run from them either, then why are we here?" Naruto questioned irritably. "And who are they anyway? Why do you know about them? Does Jiraiya know about them? How do you—

"I will answer your questions…" The Kyuubi began, as Naruto perked up. "In due time." Only to deflate again.

Liar! He wanted to shout, though something told him his demonic alter ego had already stopped listening.

The crowd grew and waxed around him like schools of busy fish, the demon boy with lemon colored hair standing stunningly still among the sea of bright balloons and sparkling fireworks. He hadn't felt frustration like this since he had been a little boy struggling against an oppression he didn't understand. How was it possible that the more he knew, the less he understood?

I wouldn't be feeling this way if Kyuubi would just give me some goddamn answers. Naruto thought, bitterly. But the king of demons was unwaveringly apathetic to his cause.

.

.

.

Yamato frowned at Kakashi's stupid potted plant, wondering how in the hell the lazy Jounin managed to keep that thing alive when Yamato himself couldn't seem to make anything grow. A tad ironic, considering his impressive mokuton repertoire. But with just a bit of soil, a seed and some water and sun, Yamato seemed to fail at coaxing long organic limbs to sprout from the ground naturally.

Asuma gave aloud sigh as he scrunched himself into Kakashi's chair, looking quite compressed in the small room. Gai had taken one of the stools, and the two of them had done littler else but look painfully guiltily at Kakashi's sleeping form for the majority of the time they'd spent since getting him into bed.

"It's not your fault." He repeated again, to the both of them, letting go of one of Mr. Ikki's leaves to turn to face his fellow Jounin. "Kakashi had made his decision."

"If you're trying to make us feel any better, it's not really working." Asuma pointed out with a face that could have made puppies cry.

Yamato only shrugged, seating himself on the edge of Kakashi's bed. "I'm only stating the truth. The two of you did well. And what's in the past is in the past. To be frank, I'm less concerned over Kakashi—we all know he's been through worse—and more with Naruto."

"They still haven't found him."

The three looked abruptly to the window, where a graceful pair of feet dropped soundlessly onto the windowsill. There was a long flow of aubergine hair as Yugao ducked under the window, a stern look to her face and a confidence to her countenance. Yamato gave her a lingering look. Outwardly, she looked composed. The ANBU captain doubted the inside was the same.

"So you've received word?" Asked Asuma.

"Of a sort. It appears Jiraiya seems to have taken him out of the village for a… 'unspecified training mission'. Of course, he neglects to tell Naruto's team." Spoke Yugao wryly, dropping into the room with ease and seating herself on Kakashi's desk. If Asuma had thought it crowded before, it was about to get overwhelming.

"At least he's safe." Yamato protested weakly.

"Safe?" Yugao snorted, clearly thinking differently. The ANBU crossed her arms. "As if he could be any safer surrounded by a village full of high-ranked ninja, all still in the village after the Chuunin attack, and even more so, his team!"

"Don't forget that all those high-ranked ninja are busy fixing this village, which was recently proven very unsafe after the invasion, not to mention the fact that our village is Hokage-less?"

Koga's head swung into view from the top of the window, arms crossed over his chest as he peered at them all from his vantage upside down.

"How are you doing that if you've broken your leg?" Yugao accused, ignoring him entirely.

"Ah, well…" Koga rubbed the back of his head sheepishly. "It's not really broken—

Yugao's gaze sharpened, and she looked as if she had a few choice words for her teammate before Asuma cut her off. "Still, it's serious that he would enter a crowded village like that. Even if there weren't a lot of Jounin around, it's not exactly easy to get away with something like that. "

"And in this village," Yamato spoke up. "Naruto is easily recognizable. It wouldn't be too hard for him to find him—

"Shh!" Gai cut him off abruptly, making erratic waves to the door, which ceased as it creaked open.

Sasuke blinked at the crowded room. He'd always sort of assumed that Kakashi was a hermit, but as six pairs of eyes—one of them upside down—swiveled onto him he realized that it wasn't the case.

"Why is Kakashi sleeping?" He asked immediately, walking into the room anxiously, unsure of what to do with so many high classed ninja gathered. He immediately recognized three of them to be from Naruto's ANBU team. "And why is everyone here?"

The woman leaning against Kakashi's desk opened her mouth, as if to answer him, but was cut off by a loud clattering as someone sprinted up the stairs.

Sasuke deftly moved to the left as the door was slammed wide open by a panting man with glasses a Chuunin vest slung over his shoulders.

"Is the story that Itachi has returned really true?-!"

The young Uchiha felt his heart stop, right in his throat as if had wedged itself up there, letting the rest of his body cool into an icy numbness. His shock was almost incomprehensible, even over Gai's incessant blubbering that no, that wasn't the case, you moron—

But it only got worse.

"And that he is chasing Naruto?-!" The Chuunin ended, before finally staring down the elephant in the room that everyone had been silently pleading for him to see.

"…Oh…"

"Idiot." Yugao muttered as Gai slapped a hand to his face.

But Sasuke didn't even register any of it. In fact, he bolted right past the Chuunin, knocking him over in the process and literally jumped down the staircase, uncaring of Gai calling after him.

Itachi.

Itachi had been here.

Chasing Naruto.

"Katsu." Yugao snarled viscously, sliding out of her position on Kakashi's desk to knock Koga out of the way of the window. "Couldn't you have at least looked before you spill village secrets to a room full of people?"

"I—I'm sorry!" The Chuunin flushed. "I… I didn't see him."

"The damage is already done." Yamato admonished lightly, ever the peacemaker. "Though I doubt Sasuke-kun will manage to get very far. I'm sure it's fine."

"And if he does?" Asuma challenged. "You may be underestimating him. If he finds Itachi now I can only imagine what the outcome will be."

"Another dead Uchiha." Yugao snorted. No one else seemed to find it anywhere near funny.

"It's very possible." Said Yamato, in all seriousness. "Yugao, I'd like for you to—

"I'm already on it." The woman interrupted, diving out the window and onto the street below.

There was no sign of the younger Uchiha anywhere.

The purple-haired ANBU sighed.

"Goddammit."

.

.

.

The blonde mulled around a bit more, scuffing his feet on the pavement as the festivities eventually were brought to a slow ebbing tide of stragglers haggling for the last takoyaki. It wasn't long until he saw Jiraiya, looking like he'd already had a few drinks and prowling about the street, as if looking for prey.

"Toad Sennin!" He called aloud, and the grey-haired man whirled around, face pinkish and beaming.

"There you are kid!" He waved with a grin. "This is where we're staying."

It didn't look to fancy. In fact, it looked a little gross. This only put Naruto more on edge as they entered the hotel to find an unnervingly beautiful woman fluffing her hair in the dingy foyer. Jiraiya's mouth dropped open, and Naruto's palm hit his face.

"My pulse has sped up!" Said the Sannin gleefully. "Naruto!"

The blonde turned, exasperated. "Huh."

"Here's the room key." Jiraiya tossed it to him, making his way over to the woman who was giving him such a clear vantage point of her cleavage that Naruto thought she might actually be hiding a mountain in there. "Go up to your room and refine your chakra…. As training."

Even if Naruto wanted to protest—and he did, though he doubted it would be of much use—he couldn't, anyway, for Jiraiya had already rushed to the other side of the room, blatantly sprawling against the counter and diving into what seemed to be a really droll conversation.

"He could at least try to maintain the actual cover." Naruto scoffed. At the very least, a training week could have given him something to work on if he wasn't doing missions, even if it was just a cover up. This—this was just annoying.

The blonde sprawled onto the bed, after trekking all the way up to his room. It was small, and even if he did meditate he doubted it would do him any good. He was so clearly terrible at it that Kyuubi didn't ever bother trying to get him to 'refine' his chakra that way.

His eyes lingered on the ceiling.

…Maybe he could walk around up there and set traps for Jiraiya when he got back. Maybe that would teach the stupid pervert a lesson—

The knock surprised him so much that Naruto actually jolted upright onto the bed.

He was irritated at first. How could someone get ditched so fast? But even Naruto had noticed something amiss. He hadn't even heard Jiraiya come up, even though the blonde had made such a clatter on the rickety stairs and flooring that he could have possibly woken the whole hotel up. How could a already half shitfaced Jiraiya manage to do it so silently—and quickly, for that matter?

The blonde narrowed his eyes, feeling his heart skip a beat.

Naruto schooled his features into a frown, brows furrowed, as he put his hand on the cold metal.

A breath, and then he wrenched it open.

The didn't look all that remarkable, surprisingly. Naruto's imaginative, if not a tad wild mind had conjured his assailants to be weird, shadowy like creatures, his vast conscious creating a monster far worse then the reality from the fear of fear itself.

He had a small, slight nose to the smooth contours of his cheeks and an almost unnoticeably pointed chin, all of the features dwarfed by the set of the red eyes. There was nothing particularly significant to his face, nor his slight, lean build. In fact, he looked so clearly human Naruto almost breathed a sigh of relief. Almost, if not for the building, unnatural feeling taking place in his gut.

But Naruto had never felt anything like this before.

It was the eyes that took to him the most.

The Sharingan eyes.

He had enough time to recognize the swirling tomoe and think of Sasuke, before he was abruptly pulled out of his own head.

"Could this kid really be the Kyuubi?" His partner guffawed, the door opening to reveal there were two of them.

Itachi's eyes lingered on the sunny mop of blonde hair. Surprisingly, the Uchiha noted the lack of recognition in the boy's impassive features. Actually, there wasn't an expression at all.

"Naruto-kun." The man in the cloak murmured. "We would like you to come with us."

Even more surprising, the blonde exited his room quietly, standing with them in the hallway and looking up with unnerving blue eyes.

"Itachi-san." The fish-featured man turned to his partner. "It's time we get started… We don't need him running around—we should cut off a leg."

Even more impressive, Naruto's lack of features at Kisame's grandiose, if not a little unnecessary threat. Perhaps Leader had been right. There was something different to the boy.

Of course, neither of the two assassins were aware that Naruto's body wasn't even being controlled by anyone at all, which would have adeptly explained his lack of reaction to what normally would have caused at least some sort of apprehension. At the moment, Naruto was struggling for control against a towering nine tailed demon in the broken jail cell of his own mind.

"You're making a mistake, you insolent fool!" Kyuubi yowled at him, as the blonde used sheer will to hold him in. "They're out to kill you."

"I know!"Naruto repeated, for what could possibly be the umpteenth time. "Just give me a minute!"

"You don't have a minute boy!" The demon interrupted valiantly. "Do you have any idea how dangerous these two—

But Naruto had successfully reached consciousness, blinking rapidly as his eyes adjusted to the dim, wan lighting of the hallway.

Itachi's eyes flickered to the blonde once more. Ah—there. A mouth, parting open, and irises fluttering with movement. There was a frank veracity to the blonde's winsor blue eyes, a mulish fearlessness that seemed to overrule everything else about him.

"Who are you?" Came the question, hurriedly out of the boy's mouth.

"I am Uchiha Itachi." A faint look of recognition set Itachi at ease. Emotions so easily perceived would only make him easier to handle. "This is Hoshigaki Kisame."

Then came the wariness, a crouch to his sturdy stance and an apprehensive line to his mouth. "And… why are you here for me?"

"To take you with us." Itachi answered swiftly.

Well no shit, Naruto wanted to point out to him. I could have told you that. The whole point of fighting off Kyuubi in the first place was to see if any of these two would give him better answers as to what the hell was going on then the fox that was supposed to be on his side. Though, admittedly, Naruto was smarter then to think that the demon really had his best interests at heart.

But regardless, it looked like these two weren't forfeiting any answers.

"But why?" Naruto stressed, clearly frustrated. "Because of the demon?"

"Yes."

"What's so special about him?" Naruto narrowed his eyes. "What do you want with him?"

"His power." Kisame snorted. Itachi gave him a sidelong look.

"What's so great about it?"

"That's none of your concern." The Uchiha's voice was low and soft, but Naruto wasn't in the least fooled by his calming demeanor. Out of the two of them, the blonde would bet money that he was the stronger, more cunning of the pair.

"What are you going to do with me? Where are we going to go? When can I—

"Look, Leader-sama can answer all your questions when you—

"Leader-sama?" Naruto cut off. "So there's more of you?" And then, to himself, So there's more of them. And, with dread; and they're organized. The worst kind.

Itachi gave his partner a sharp, sidelong glance. Kisame seemed to realize his mistake, letting Naruto's question drift unanswered in the stale air of the stone shaft.

Itachi would privately admit to himself he was more then a little astonished by the boy's lack of fear. If anything, he almost looked annoyed. Not to mention the relentless questioning. Such a fair amount of curiosity was almost the exact opposite of the reports they'd received of a stubborn, easily fooled blonde Gennin.

"There's something he wants with Kyuubi… something for his power…" The blonde murmured, more to himself then to his companions. A thought clicked together in his brain, as he thought of Gaara, another Jinchuuriki. "And the other demons…" The boy whispered, looking between the two of them with frightening clarity.

"You're collecting the demons."

Itachi's face was a façade of stone, but Kisame had what could have been surprise to his features. Surprised that the blonde had managed to figure it out.

Naruto could have figured more to his stunning revelations, had Kyuubi not taken the break in his will power to wrench Naruto out of his consciousness, leaving the demon to deal with the two Akatsuki members.

Neither of the two had much warning, just an instant in which Naruto's expression seemed to still, until it masked into indifferent once more.

With a swift kick to the head, Kyuubi managed to use the element of surprise to knock Kisame into the wall. At least Naruto had done something worthwhile—getting them to let their guard down to a impertinent twelve year old kid. Though the demon didn't appreciate his questions, nor his apparent quick wit. Who knew the blonde was so smart? Maybe he should have paid more attention to that.

The demon used the quick moment with Kisame incapacitated to lock eyes with the Uchiha,

There was a brief second in which Kyuubi savored the burning sensation searing through Naruto's retinas. Thankfully the boy had managed to awaken the Sharingan, though he possessed no latent ability for it. But Kyuubi's chakra, and therefore the Juubi's, had entered into his system, and the Sharingan had always been his. Not Madara's, nor that stupid sage's.

He got the reaction he'd been hoping for.

Itachi's eyes widened at the sight of the blood red irises, tomoe making their slow swim in the blonde's eyes. Impossible—

Out of reaction, his Mangekyou bloomed in reflex, dropping them both into the realm of Tsukiyomi.

But not his Tsukiyomi.

The moon was broken into pieces among a black, starless sky. It hung crooked and heavy, long razor teeth carved as it crumbled in its grave. The world was red in contrast to the dark atmosphere, a bowl of blood that seemed to stretch endlessly. And a boy with wild, lemon colored hair staring at him with ten-tomoe eyes.

"You can't break it." Said Naruto. Though it was not Naruto. Naruto did not have a complex, fully evolved Sharingan, nor did he have scissor-teeth and knife-fingers.

The moon? The Uchiha wondered.

"Tsukiyomi." The blonde replied.

"You're not Naruto." Itachi said, needlessly, speaking aloud this time.

"I am the Juubi." Answered the demon, hiding in Naruto's skin.

"No." Itachi denied. The straw colored hair, lightly freckled tan skin and small, bony little hands. "You are the Nine-Tailed Demon Fox."

"Perhaps for now." The demon admitted, grudgingly. "But soon I will reclaim my rightful place—my rightful body."

Why was he here? Telling him this? What purpose did this demon have for bringing him into this dreamlike illusion? Itachi narrowed his eyes. "I will not help you."

And the demon smiled.

"I was not requesting you to."

There was no emotion to the Uchiha's face. The demon continued to smile.

And then, after a moment of silence. "Why have you revealed yourself to me?"

"Because you are Uchiha." It explained. "And all Uchiha belong to me."

Tsukiyomi crumbled to dust around him, taking the broken moon and the unwavering, inhuman Naruto with it. A figure caught his eye in the everlasting distance, and he turned to look, even as the dream collapsed. A boy with star-eyes and a pale face was watching him from across the red-baked world. A boy with a small, slight nose to the smooth contours of his cheeks and an almost unnoticeably pointed chin, all of the features dwarfed by the set of luminescent eyes. The stars from the sky must have gone there, then, Itachi thought, though he knew as he resurfaced to consciousness that this made no sense.

He took another look at the boy, as the world crumbled around him. At his slightly pointed chin, and little nose.

Sasuke.

"Uchiha Itachi…"

An illusion? For a moment, Itachi could not tell what was reality and what had been only an obscure warped perception of a world that didn't exist. No. This was Sasuke. Sasuke with a little nose and a slightly pointed chin, with high cheekbones from his mother, whereas Itachi's favored his father's. Sasuke with dark charcoal eyes and a deep, burning hatred, nothing but the loathing in his eyes as he stilled in the gloom of the hallway.

Kisame pulled himself out of the rubble of the hole in the wall, stumbling into the dust and debris to see Itachi's kid brother standing behind them.

"I WILL KILL YOU!" Sasuke roared, looking his brother straight in the eye. The elder of the two met his gaze coolly.

"A sharingan?" The fish man mused aloud, rubbing his sore neck and giving that stupid blonde kid a withering look. Shoulda just cut off the legs in the first place… "You seem to be familiar with Itachi. Who is this guy anyway?"

Itachi's eyes stayed on his younger brother's form for only a moment, a confusing amount of relief at seeing the loathing in the young boy's eyes. The loathing in the Sharingan, not the impassivity in the stars.

"He is… my younger brother." He explained flatly.

Kisame hummed. "I head that the whole Uchiha clan was wiped out…"

His eyes strayed back to the boy, who had began to shake and grow pale, before turning back to the stone of Itachi's face.

"By you."

But the elder Uchiha was not worrying over Sasuke, nor over Kisame so obviously goading his younger sibling on. Out of amusement, perhaps. There was nothing amusing to be found in this dusty, fluorescent hallway. Itachi's eyes never once left Naruto's. They were blue, a startling, brilliant stratosphere of blue. If there was a demon inside him, it only lingered in the lines on his cheeks.

Kyuubi nimbly stepped out of the way, just as Sasuke howled in anger, electricity running up his arm as he bodily lunged at his elder brother. The lightning scraped against the wall, leaving destruction at its wake—

And blew an enormous hole clear through three walls, leaving a plume of dirt and dust to rise into the air; a silent wraith around them.

The chidori hadn't hit anything, and Itachi held Sasuke's wrist in a death grip, the hand useless with the ulna and radius broken.

Kyuubi stood against the wall, watching indifferently. Naruto felt the dispassionate sincerity the demon was feeling at the display, and realized with a jolting start that Kyuubi wasn't going to do anything. No, he was just going to stand there, Sasuke for slaughter at the hands of his murdering elder brother.

In hindsight, Naruto realized that it had been much to easy to shake off Kyuubi's grip on his conscious.

He hit Kisame square in the face with a roundhouse kick—sending the unsuspecting missing-nin into the wall once again, and turned ferociously to Itachi. For a slight second, the man actually looked stunned by the fierce expression on his face, enough for Naruto to actually surprise him into dropping Sasuke's wrist in order to parry his katana.

Maybe not the best idea, as the Uchiha proved to be a much more formidable sword-fighter then the novice blonde was. Though what he lacked in skill he made up for in ingenuity. The next ten seconds were spent mostly with Naruto cleverly ducking around the Uchiha's blade or dexterously going for an offensive of his own.

Although he definitely wouldn't have been able to last much longer, had Jiraiya, finally, miraculously showed up.

"You don't seem to know very much about me…" The Sannin drawled, unexpectedly parrying a strike for him. "I'm better at getting girls then they are at trying to get me." Naruto peered up, noting the woman slung over the man's shoulder. "Even though it doesn't look like it. It's… my specialty."

Naruto could have groaned, had he not been in such compromising position.

Jiraiya pushed Itachi off his own sword—though Naruto thought that the Uchiha may have just let him do so—the missing-nin warily taking a step back, Kisame getting up once more as well.

"I, Jiraiya, am the epitome of manliness!" He cried aloud. Naruto wondered who exactly he was convincing. "I will fall for no woman's feminine wiles! When you're someone like me—you only have to flash that sexiness and women fall to your feet!"

This time, Naruto really didn't bother holding it in.

"Oh yeah?-! That girl just winked at you and you were scampering after her! And now you're trying to lok all cool and classy—you pervy Sennin!"

"Hey!" Jiraiya roared, the girl on his shoulder all but forgotten as she flopped off and onto the floor. "Can't you stop calling that in front of others?"

Kisame and Itachi's opinion of the man was a moot point at this rate, considering he'd already made a fool of himself enough with his outrageous claims of attractiveness.

"How can that stupid boy be so hard to—

Naruto blinked, as Yugao's form came out of the dust from the hole in the wall.

"Yugao!" He cried, looking up at her.

She looked down. "So you're safe." She surmised, before turning to the two missing-nin.

"Picking on a twelve year old." The woman snorted, unsheathing her wakazashi. "Some big bad guys you are."

"B—But what are you doing here?" He titled his head up at her, curiously.

The woman with orchid colored hair only jerked to Sasuke, opposite them in the hallway and kneeling with his wrist in his hand. "I was meant to keep an eye on him." And then, with a frustrating look. "But I lost him in the crowd."

"You won't get Naruto." Jiraiya was saying to the two Akatsuki members. Yugao and Naruto stilled their conversation, looking curiously at the Sannin.

Itachi's face was expressionless, but his gaze was unnerving and hadn't left Naruto once. Frustratingly Naruto wondered what Kyuubi had done in the few minutes he'd taken control. "Why not?"

"Because you two will die by my hands." Jiraiya explained, seriously. Naruto wondered how in the hell the two of them were actually taking this guy seriously. He certainly hadn't made the best impression, and yet the two of them were warily standing back.

"Don't do it."

The words brought Naruto out of his reverie.

Sasuke had clamored to his feet, looking angrier then previously and out for blood. Whose blood, no one really had to guess.

"This guy…" He stood then. "Is Mine."

Naruto said nothing at all, only blinking, mouth open in surprise. He'd never seen such emotion in the boy—ever. Nothing but this intense hatred for his brother.

And Itachi did nothing at all, his Sharingan still piercing the blonde's blue eyes. Their gaze met, accidentally, and Naruto couldn't pull them away, even as the man replied, "I have absolutely no interest in you right now."

The three of them, certainly, could take out the two of these guys, S-Class Missing-nin or no, but Sasuke alone…?

"Naruto—" The blonde looked away from Itachi to his younger brother, startled. "I told you don't do it!"

The blonde blinked, recognition in his eyes as he noted the feral rasp to Sasuke's voice. The seal crawling up his arm in a burning pattern.

"This fight is mine."

Before anyone could move, Itachi was standing in front of his younger brother, his dark black cloak covering the boy from view. He could have been a ghost, standing so still.

"COME ON!-!"

But before Sasuke could even move, Itachi abruptly brought his fist into Sasuke's stomach, pinning him into the wall and breaking through plaster and stone. Sasuke choked. Kisame tutted. "No mercy at all."

Sasuke let out a wail, Itachi pinning him to the wall. "Itachi—I advise you against using your eye so many times in a single day…" Said the fish amiably, and Itachi dropped Sasuke to the floor. There, the boy seemed to have lost consciousness, shivering and curled into a ball. The worst was the expressionless face, the boy lying limp on the ground.

Naruto snarled. "You assholes!"

He leapt at them, blade in hand, getting as far as leaping over Kisame's giant sword and lunging and Itachi before the walls, ceiling, and floor morphed around them.

And behind him, Jiraiya yelling; "Ninpou Gama Guchi Shibari!-!"

Though Naruto hadn't any idea what was going on, nor the soft, squishy texture that was sticking to his feet was, Kisame and Itachi seemed to both recognize it.

"Too bad Itachi… Kisame…" Jiraiya drawled. "You are already inside my stomach!"

"Black magic to summon the esophagus of the giant toad from Myouki Mountain Rock Inn… You wanted criminals, hope you enjoy being food to Iwagama!"

"Wha…" Naruto struggled, attempting to release his feet. Why was it attacking him too?-! "What the hell is this?"

"It's just Jiraiya-sama's Jutsu!" Yugao called out to him, looking the epitome of calm as she stood on the surface, her feet sinking into the gummy surface. "Don't worry!"

Don't worry? Naruto repeated glumly in his head. Yeah right. This stupid floor was sucking his chakra—he could feel it.

"Kisame!" Itachi barked sharply. "Come!"

The man broke out of the sticky floor, following Itachi, who had managed to do the same. The two broke into a run, turning the corner. Naruto looked to Jiraiya, but the man wasn't following them. Instead he clasped his hands to the ground.

"No one leaves my awareness!" Jiraiya smirked.

But his arrogant expression was wiped clean off his face as a rumble shook the entire hallway, now turned giant toad stomach. "What the—?-!" Jiraiya jumped to his feet, rushing to the other hall. Naruto did the same, after fighting to get the gunk off his feet.

He turned the corner, only to see pitch black flames eating away at the stomach lining. "They're gone…" He blinked at the sunlight pouring in from the gaping hole. But what was that technique? He'd never seen such black flames like that.

.

.

.

"Why is a retreat necessary for you?" Kisame asked, as the two bounded out into the sunlight.

"Well, if it is true about Naruto…" The Uchiha panted. "Then there is no need to be hasty." Though the man doubted anything they had learned about the blonde was true at all. Not after what he had seen in his mind.

"Also, my body must be rested for a while…" He was already feeling the toll of using his eyes too many times, not to mention already too confused over what Naruto had done. But how could the blonde have had knowledge of his Tsukiyomi? How could he have used the moon illusion for his own? Having a Sharingan, a fully evolved eternal Mangekyou Sharingan like that…

It shouldn't have even been possible.

And yet in the room, in the world outside of illusion, the blonde seemed human—rash, stubborn, eager to help his friend. Exactly what the scrolls had said about him.

"As it is," The Uchiha continued on, regardless of the turmoil he was feeling. "We shouldn't use Tsukiyomi until it becomes Amaterasu."

.

.

.

"This isn't ordinary fire." Naruto pointed out, eying the flames close up. "I'd say it's almost black…

"Don't get any closer!"

Naruto pulled away, reluctantly.

Jiraiya whipped out a scroll, looking like he was going to seal the fire into it, and Naruto backed off. He turned around, to where Yugao was hoisting Sasuke onto her shoulder. It was odd to see the woman in battle without her ANBU mask on. Admittedly, she looked just as formidable with it on as she did with it off. Naruto could hardly say the same thing for himself.

"Where are you taking him?" He asked, just as he heard Jiraiya call the fire into his seal.

Yugao adjusted the boy more comfortably. "Yamato-taichou asked me to tail the boy." She explained. "But by the time I caught up to him he was already ducking around this stupid town, and I couldn't find him."

Naruto blinked at the form of his friend, now a limp package on Yugao's slim shoulder.

Jiraiya walked up to them, snapping the scroll shut. Naruto wanted to wipe that stupid smile clean off his face. "Well, everyone all right here?"

Naruto and Yugao both gave him a deadpan look.

Jiraiya scratched the back of his head. "Well…"

He didn't get any farther, as there was suddenly a loud cry, "DYNAMIC ENTRY!"

Naruto's mouth dropped open as Maito Gai crashed through the window, delivering a decisive kick straight to Jiraiya's face.

"Huh?" The man blinked as he landed, sending Jiraiya crashing onto the floor.

The man rubbed the back of his head sheepishly. "Oh no! Sorry for the direct attack—I was in a rush using my forehead protector as a mirror and I didn't mean it…. Hahaha…"

"You didn't do it on purpose?" Jiraiya didn't look like he believed that for one moment. "You moron!"

But Gai only continued to laugh.

"Why don't we get out of here?" Yugao drawled. "This kid needs to get to a hospital. Looks like he fractured a rib—and whatever Itachi did to him, he's lost all his senses."

Gai nodded. "Kakashi was also hit by the same Jutsu. He's still in bed until his senses return to normal."

"Kakashi-sense?-!" Naruto looked up in surprise, fear growing in his stomach. "Is he okay?"

"He's fine." Yugao assured him, before turning to Gai. "Let's go, then?"

Jiraiya nodded. "You two do that." Then he motioned to Naruto. "We're going to search for someone."

"Someone?" Naruto echoed.

"She is one of the three-nin, like me." Jiraiya explained.

Gai blinked. "This person… could you be talking about…"

Jiraiya nodded ."Tsunade."

.

d o n t l o o k a w a y

.


So the dialogue in this chapter, well, I try to keep it IC which generally means straight from my manga, and I was reading them and I was like.. "who says this stuff aloud like that?" but whatevs man, if Kishi wants to have his characters sound like creeps he can go right ahead. sorry its so boring :) but it'll get better soon.

reviews feed my dying soul...hahah..