Disclaimer: I DON'T OWN NARUTO; and I don't want to at this point.

Takes place in the more or less modern times (Europe). Ninjas do still exist.

"blah" – speech
'blah' – thoughts

Chapter One: Always Running

They were always there, even if they couldn't see them… the Akatsuki. A dreaded name that Naruto came to despise over the years.

Although it was different now, they weren't after him because of the Kyuubi. No, Kyuubi and Naruto had merged several years ago.

At that point Naruto couldn't stay in Konoha any longer because of a couple of physical changes: his eyes had taken the shape of Kyuubi's and turned purple, his fangs were now long all the time and his normally blonde hair was now more reddish. The villagers seemed to hate him even more, if that was even possible.

Naruto had taken to wearing a facemask, but everyone in the village still knew who he was. He still keeps it on now that he is out of the village, since ninjas are supposed to be more in the background now-a-days. And having fangs doesn't necessarily strike people as normal.

Naruto had grown up a lot, from the hyperactive, loud-mouthed brat he used to be. He became quite, reserved and strategic, but never lost his naturally warm heart.

His apparel also changed quite a bit; almost all his clothes were black now, he now wore a black jacket that had several scroll-pockets and many inside pocket and hidden compartments, black shirt underneath, black pants with kunai and shuriken holsters built-in, black boots and his bandana was a dark shade of blue. His black apparel would have been a heavy contract to his blond hair, but at the moment he had it dyed dark brown.

Snapping back to reality, Naruto suddenly realized they were watching him again…

'Damn it! Time to move again,' thought Naruto as he quickly got up and jumped unto a nearby roof, while leaving three Kage Bunshin to 'confuse' the enemy. 'Yeah right as if they can be confused… I'd have more luck getting a rabbit to eat meat,' thought Naruto.

He made his way along the roofs randomly or at least that's how it would look to a normal person.

Over the years Naruto had perfected his 'Random Walk' as he called it. He would jump around randomly on the roofs and/or in the alleys, making it look like he wasn't headed in any particular direction at all. Sometimes it even looked like he was going around in circles; he would occasionally mix in a Kage Bunshin into this to even further confuse any pursuers. 'I should really consider myself lucky, that my pursuers haven't been able to figure out the pattern,' thought Naruto.

He eventually made his way over to an apartment building, looked around and decided to sit and watch. Making sure no one could feel his presence he sat there unmoving an hour before he finally felt it safe to go inside. It was a small old apartment building with a single corridor on each of the five floors. Two locked doors on the street level each requiring a different key, stood between him and his temporary home.

Naruto noted, absentmindedly, that locks he had a key to were a lot easier to deal with than ones he didn't. As soon as the thought went through his head he resisted the urge to slam his head into a wall. 'Yes, thank you, Captain Obvious' he could easily imagine one of his former teammates saying.

The blond made his way to the third floor, end of the corridor, room 305. Apartment building was sort of a misnomer in Naruto's case since he had a studio, but it was better this way. You say 'apartment' and people assume, they assume incorrectly, which is exactly what you want. The inside the room was mostly bare: a large bag of snacks and instant ramen was sitting on the kitchen table; a single bed with a thick, white, metal frame was on the opposite side of the room; next to the bed was a small pile of black shirts, underwear, and socks; and there was a TV perpendicularly across from the bed.

"I need to get out of here," muttered the blond. "But first I have to eat; who knows the next time I'll be able to."

Naruto tossed the instant ramen in the microwave and ripped through all of the snacks while it was cooking. After dinner, at least that's what it should be called considering time of day, he reached into the closet pulling out a small handbag and stuffed his pile of clothes into it. The blond looked around the room to make sure he hadn't forgotten anything. Wiping off fingerprints was useless in his situation. The people following him could find out he was here regardless of fingerprints, and as far anyone outside of Konoha was concerned: he didn't exist.

The blond walked out the door, locked it, and slipped his key under the manager's door; he'd paid ahead, so it was fine. He walked to the end of corridor on the fifth floor, lifted up the loose carpet right under the window, pulled out a small key that he quickly slipped into his pocket, and left. Once out on the street, he blended in with the crowd and seemingly disappeared; to most people that is.

Train station storage is like a gift from the gods. It is so much easier, not to mention safer, to carry around a small key than all of your belongings.

Naruto was also to the train station when he heard a faint whistling sound, 'Shit! God damn it! Can my luck be any worse?' cursed Naruto as he dodged the shuriken attack.

The blond quickly found himself blocking and dodging projectiles left and right. This was strange, the pair he usually had to deal with preferred head-on attacks. However, the blond also didn't want to have to face Itachi and Kisame head-on, so as soon as he saw an opportunity he ran for it. He didn't particularly care where he ended up as long as he lost his pursuers.

Naruto knew that he was being followed closely and tried his best to throw of his pursuer, most likely being Itachi; with Kisame going ahead to try and intercept him. The shark-man was originally from this country, so he knew the city and the terrain. He would jump in and out of alleys, created Kage Bunshins and sometimes even go through stores. But Itachi was never deceived and continued to follow him.

At one point Itachi was close enough to throw half a dozen shuriken at Naruto, most missed but one slipped through Naruto's guard and clipped his left thigh. 'Shit, immobilizing me aren't you, you fucking bastard?'

Naruto then saw the entrance to the subway directly to his left and made straight for it. Upon reaching the tracks he saw that the train was just getting ready to leave and not wasting any time Naruto jumped up on its roof. 'Itachi's not close enough to get on this train too, but still I can't allow myself to relax.'

Naruto decided to stay in his position for two more stations. When he got off, he found that this station was a junction of two branches of the subway system. He instantly got on a train from the other branch and rode on it for several more minutes. When he got off, he suddenly felt a horrible feeling, the same feeling he gets when he catches the Akatsuki watching him.

It seemed to be coming from inside the tunnel, 'one of them must be on the next train…' As soon as he thought that, Naruto saw the light quickly approaching him. The blond hid behind a post hoping that they would not see or sense him. But it was in vain, as the train was slowing down Naruto looked over to see who would get out and was almost blinded by a terrible explosion. He saw a small figure jump out of the remainder of the car and make its way quickly through the smoke, 'Sakura?' Naruto realized in confusion. 'But what is she doing here?'

Kisame walked out of the explosion, Samehada on his shoulder, and a frown on his face; his left arm seemed to be hanging limply. This was a good development, with the shark-man injured and Itachi not being a medic-nin the Akatsuki pair would retreat.

However, Sakura wasn't looking to good herself. It looked like her left leg had taken a direct hit, or shave in this case, from the Samehada. Naruto couldn't leave her to die, but this was his only chance to escape. From the way the pink-haired girl stumbled, she wouldn't be able to make a run for it. The blond gritted his teeth.

Sakura was in a completely different world of pain than she had even been in, and she was doing her best not to slip into unconsciousness. The adrenaline rush of realizing that Kisame had, not only, survived her punch, but hadn't been sufficiently incapacitated and was now headed straight towards her was more than enough to keep her conscious.

'Shit!' cursed the young woman. 'I can't run, I definitely can't defend against that sword, and Sasuke is most likely too busy with Itachi to help.'

Reality was harsh feeling, knowing the she was probably going to die was enough to make her eyes widen and pulse skyrocket. She knew that in her line of work death was always around the corner – she understood that – but there was a difference between knowing it and staring it in the face. Sakura's mentor had told her that if she gave up in the middle of battle she may very well be driving a nail into her teammate's coffin.

'I can't give up,' she thought. 'I have to make sure – no matter what – that Naruto is safe… or at least safely away. He's risked his life too many times to save mine. I will return the favor!'

The shark-man suddenly stopped his advance toward the young woman and placed himself in a much more defensive stance, but before Sakura could make head or tails of why, someone was carrying her out of the subway in his arms.

"Naruto?" she asked in shock. The girl had known that he was in the city; this battle they were having only solidified that knowledge, but she had never expected to actually meet him.

"Yeah," he said neutrally as his eyes scanned the surroundings. Suddenly a clone appeared running right next to them that Sakura was handed off to.

"Hey! Wait!" she yelled.

"We don't have time to chat," replied Naruto. "You are in no condition to fight. My clone will take you to where you are staying; please tell him how to get there. And please understand that this is for the best."

With that the clone ran to the side and did not stop until it was safe to ask for directions.

Naruto found himself being chased onto a bridge going over a large river. He quickly made his way up to the top of the bridge and found Itachi facing him. Naruto knew he could not fight against both, not right now, not in his current condition. So he decided to fight a retreating battle, in which he was constantly looking for an opportunity to escape.

Itachi starts of the battle by firing of a Housenka, which Naruto countered with Shuriken Kage Bunshin. Kisame tried to have a sword fight with Naruto, but found that Naruto made a Kage Bunshin pop up behind Kisame. Kisame was momentarily distracted and this allowed Naruto to kick him in the gut and push him back. Itachi, meanwhile, had reached inside his cloak and pulled out two sub-machine guns and fired them at Naruto. 'Shit! The Akatsuki have gotten THIS low!' growled Naruto. 'I hate having to dodge or parry bullets.' Naruto managed to block most of the bullets with his kunai and dodged the rest.

Noticing the somewhat shocked expression on his opponent's faces, he decided that this would be the best time to make a run for it. As soon as he jumped backwards of the top of the bridge, he was caught by a strong pair of hands. The blond found that whoever it was was doing the right thing by retreating. A couple miles away, Naruto was finally let go and he spun around to face his would be rescued; the blond gasped before scowling. In front of him stood Sasuke in his Curse Seal form, though he was retracting it now, Naruto finally understood why the Akatsuki pair had let him go.

A/N: This is actually a dream I had at some point.
I'm re-vamping this from what it was before. (Hence, the deletion of the previous.) Reason for this was mainly because the narrative that I was using for previous version really didn't suit this story. The one I'm using now, I think, fits a lot better. Not to mention that I really like it, so I'm going to experiment with it in this story.