Bordering on life and death was a lot like being half-awake and half-asleep, you were both aware and unaware of what was going on. Part of you wanted to know and another part of you didn't care, it all boiled down to the fact that you had only enough willpower to hover in this twilight zone of existence and nothing else.
"Fool! Wake up!" a dark voice hissed, a painful pulse following those words "wake up before they-"
Whatever else followed was lost as the voice died, as if it were cut off. Still it had served the purpose it needed and she started stirring, hands throbbing and her mouth feeling as if she had been eating something foul. Eyes opening slowly, she stared at the ceiling blankly, mind moving sluggishly to piece together her fragmented memories.
A dark hallway...panic, fear, anger...suddenly she's splashing into a large body of water and turning..."I want her to kill me"..."So you're from Akatsuki"...
Suddenly Nii Yugito, Jōnin and the second Guardian of Kumo, sat up or at least attempted to. She managed to lift her upper body up until she discovered her arms were bound tightly to the rails on the bed. Flopping back, breathing fast and mind racing, she tried to figure out what was going on, the last thing she remembered was her fight against the two Akatsuki agents and then nothing other than the -thankfully brief- sensation of being- pinned to the wall by her own kunai.
Forcing calm, Yugito tried to figure out her current location. She knew, from the bed and the smell of anti-bacterial soap, she was in a hospital. What she wanted to know was where and what had happened to place her there instead of in the clutches of Akatsuki though she cautioned herself that she could still be in their clutches.
After all nobody knew exactly what Akatsuki was doing with Jinchūriki, just that they were collecting them.
At the sound of the door opening, Yugito tensed futile in preparation for a fight. She heard the sound of soft shoes against linoleum, nurse's shoes, and a second later, a pleasant looking woman appeared at the side of her bed. Yugito took in as much detail as she could, then seeing the leaf on the nurse's hat felt some of her anxiety leave her.
While Kumo and Konoha were not on the best of terms they were considered better alternatives for each other than the other three Kage Countries. Even with improved relations between Suna and Konoha, or Kiri and Kumo, Konoha and Kumo preferred dealing with each other. Then Yugito felt her anxiety return as she wondered how exactly she had gotten here.
"Look, all I'm saying is its going to take a couple hours for him to get here," a deep voice said from the door as it clicked open once more "maybe you could just let me-"
"Yeah, that's exactly what I'm going to do." A more feminine voice said sarcastically "Let a lecher like you have unsupervised access to a helpless female."
"I'm hurt, nay offended, that you think I would take advantage of her." the first voice said indignantly "Does everyone really think I'm that perverted?"
"YES!" Came the rather loud chorus and then the door closed followed the sound of more heels against the floor. The nurse looked up, spotting her visitor and turned back to the machines. Yugito, frustrated and annoyed, lifted her head to see who the mysterious person was that had come in and prayed that it was not someone in a black cloak with red clouds.
Standing at the foot of her bed scanning a chart was a tall, blond and over-endowed woman dressed in an outfit that did nothing to hide her cleavage or figure. It didn't take Yugito long to figure out the woman's identity, partly because she was a Kumo Jōnin, and the woman in question was one of the most well known people in the world. The Godaime Hokage, the infamous medical ninja of the Sannin, Tsunade.
Tsunade made a tisking noise and addressed the nurse. "Who ordered the restraints?"
"Danzō-sama," the nurse answered sourly "can I take them off? I don't see why we need them, it's not like she's Uzumaki."
"Yeah, go ahead," Tsunade replied before looking at the nurse "and what do you meant 'it's not like she's Uzumaki'?"
"Just that, er," the nurse flushed slightly hand fumbling with the straps "well, he's notoriously hard to keep in the hospital is all Hokage-sama. I've been his nurse several times and, no offense, he's a bastard when he escapes."
"None taken," the Hokage said with an indulgent smile, as the nurse finished her task. Then with a nod to let the nurse know to leave, the Hokage looked at Yugito addressing her for the first time. "So you're Yugito. I've heard some stories about you..."
Lacking anything to say, the Kumo Jōnin just stared back.
The Hokage however, seemed undaunted as she glanced at the chart in her hand. "You got some good luck with that oaf stumbling across you, almost as good as Naruto's. You're hands should be recovered soon enough and the rest of your body wasn't too badly damaged."
Looking up the Hokage sighed, giving her an annoyed look. "The silent treatment isn't going to work. Besides, I'm only here as your doctor, the person you'll have to deal with is going to be a lot more persistent."
Yugito felt a chill go through her at that, and mentally she wondered who it would be - the only likely choice would be the infamous Ibiki. He would be the obvious choice for interrogation, so should she start talking now or try to escape? However, for that to be a realistic option she would need access to Matatabi's chakra, but a brief attempt at drawing its power found her disappointed.
"By the way, as a safety precaution we've sealed all you're chakra." The Hokage said, her tone slightly amused "not that you would try to do anything to your benefactors now would you."
"You...sealed her?" Yugito repeated blankly, before her eyes widened. "YOU SEALED HER?!"
"Of course we did," the Hokage said putting the chart down "we'll that's it. Try to behave yourself; he won't be in a very good mood when he arrives after all."
A moment later, the woman walked out of the room, closing the door with a 'thunk'.
Yugito laid there, stunned, unable to process everything that had happened to her. First Akatsuki, then somehow managing to escape death and now she was trapped in a hospital facing interrogation with one of the most infamous ninja known to Kumo. Ibiki was a man that was whispered about among Kumo Jonin and he was rumored to have broken a Raikage Candidate in under a day.
She felt a chill sweep through her and wondered what she was going to do. Still, the fact of the matter was, this was not good. Not good at all.
Uzumaki Naruto had a sunny disposition. It unnerved some people, how could it not considering his past and the fact that he always had a smile. As Sakura once confided to him, it was unnatural to smile so much. In response he had shrugged, finished his ramen and then smiled at her. Lately though, the smile was getting harder and harder to even fake.
He'd been training with Kakashi and Yamato for awhile working on a top-secret technique that would let him get stronger. It would, in theory even let him drag Sasuke back here kicking and screaming. Sakura had better appreciate just how much torture this training was, it left him past exhausted and with thoughts of the type that almost had Naruto convinced that killing Sasuke would be easier.
Still he had a made a promise, he had never broken one before and he would push himself as much as he could to see it completed.
He was almost tempted to stop at a ramen stand, a new one, but he resisted the urge. Mainly because he was loyal to Ichiraku Ramen, and because the Hokage had interrupted his training to summon him back into the village proper. Not that it was much of a problem, with the amount of Kage Bunshin he had doing the actual training he didn't actually need to be present for the simple task of completely cutting leaves in half.
Pressing onward, he grumbled softly, perking up only slightly at maybe convincing Sakura to go out with him again. The prospects though, were not bright and he felt his shoulder's sag. Passing through the gates of the Hospital, Naruto wondered briefly why they needed to see him, but naturally all they had told him was to show up and meet them in the meeting room on the third floor.
Trudging his way through the hospital, he barely noticed the doctors and nurses who refused to move. Climbing two flights of stairs, he finally made the long walk down the hallway and found the small meeting. Letting out a sigh, he straightened up, opened the door and entered ""Aright, what'd you wanna see me about?"
"Rude as ever," Tsunade said, arms crossed, but smirking faintly from her seat at the table.
"Look who's talking," Naruto shot back, glancing at the other Sannin who was busy scribbling in his book. "Oi, you call me here and then yer gonna ignore me? Stupid pervert."
"Charming to," Tsunade said with a sigh. "Naruto, I need you to focus for a minute. I'm the one that made him call you here since we have a bit of a situation."
"A situation?" Naruto asked, blinking. His mind was already racing to what that could mean, but he drew nothing but blanks, unless it involved Sakura but that wasn't likely.
"Well, your illustrious sensei there," Tsunade said gesturing at Jiraiya "encountered a group of Akatsuki recently-"
"WHAT?!" Naruto exclaimed, rounding on the older man who had finally looked up. "Are you ok?"
"I'm fine," the pervert said with a small grin "anyway; I was on the outskirts of Lightning when I found them. I only stumbled across them by accident; there was a huge output of chakra in the area. I arrived just after they had managed to defeat the Kumo Jinchūriki-"
"Don't say that word," Naruto said absently, disgust in his tone.
"It's the only word we have for the moment, so get used to it." Jiraiya countered with a shrug "anyway, they were a pair I had never seen before. They were going to hand her off to Zetsu, but I threw a wrench into their plan and got her out of there. Had to use some serious Toad Jutsu to do it, but once out we headed straight for Konoha."
"They arrived yesterday," Tsunade said taking over the story once more. "I've healed her for the most part, and I had Jiraiya seal her chakra. Same method as was used on you three years ago, so she can't use draw on her Bijū's power either."
"...and you need me here why?" Naruto asked a bit overwhelmed by so much information. Still, he would do what he could, especially if he could help another person like him. "I'm not that great at interrogae-"
"You suck at interrogation," Jiraiya said casually, but smirked. "You do, however, seem to have this effect on people with hard lives. You make them want to talk and, if they happen to be female, they seem to develop a soft spot for you fast."
"So, what do I gotta do?" Naruto asked with a sigh, knowing better than to try to argue with the man. Jiraiya had been saying that for a long time now and Naruto had yet to change his mind, no matter how false it was.
"Talk to her, if you feel she's safe let us know and we'll unseal her. It's your judgment we'll be trusting Naruto, so be careful." Tsunade said smiling faintly at him "She's in room 308, just be yourself and everything should be fine."
"Right," Naruto muttered turning to walk out of the room "'cause that's always helped me with girls."
Receiving no argument, Naruto stepped out into the hallway before slumping against the door. Great, just great, it wasn't like he ignore the situation but they were placing a bit too much faith in his ability to win people over. Generally, his only method of doing that was bashing their heads in, and the only women that he could even think of that he had won over were Tsunade and Shizune.
Even then, that had included fighting.
Gathering his resolve, he trudged his way through the hallway, and finding her room hesitated. Then shrugging, almost laughing at being cautious, he shoved the door open and barged into the room. As a result he damn near got himself killed, but thankfully he reacted fast enough to catch the hand aimed at his throat. His other hand came up out of instinct and slapped firmly against his assailants neck, just below the ear stunning them, and then twisting he shoved them against the wall, using his body to keep them pinned.
"Don't move!" Naruto barked, when he felt his attacker start to struggle, but at his voice they stopped. Adrenaline fading, he took a moment to calm down and then took in a few facts about his attacker. They were female, a little taller than him, but not by much, and she felt very soft against him. Blushing, he quickly pulled away but never lost track of her.
After several awkward moments he cleared his throat, fighting his grin as he noticed her own faint blush. "So, uh...why'd you try to kill me?"
"The first obligation of a prisoner is to escape."
Naruto blinked, and then scratched the back of his head. "Huh, well I guess so, but...er, they didn't tell me you were a prisoner."
"I'm from a foreign village," the young woman offered slowly "that automatically makes me a prisoner. Also, you're not Ibiki."
"Er...Ibiki?" Naruto repeated, scowling in thought. After a moment, he still couldn't think of who she meant so he shrugged "don't know that guy. Just that they asked me to come down here and talk with you, I guess to see if you're ok too."
"Whatever," the woman said moving back to her bed, albeit with a slight limp and an arm against her ribs. Crawling back into bed she slumped back before glaring at him "Nii Yugito, Jōnin, Registration ID 01894."
"Err, ok, now-"
"Nii Yugito, Jōnin, Registration ID 01894." Yugito supplied firmly yet again.
"...ok, that's helpful and all, but I want to know-"
"Nii Yugito, Jō-"
"UGH!" Naruto shouted in frustration, throwing his hands up. "What is it with you? Wait, no, let me guess, this is a girl thing. You're all freakin' insane!"
"Its name, rank, Registration ID," Yugito said in surprise, staring at him "Haven't you ever been told how to answer during an interrogation?"
"Uhhh, no?" Naruto responded, feeling a little stupid now. But honestly, nobody had ever told him how to answer during an interrogation, not that it mattered, the only future he had if he were captured was to have the fox ripped out of him. "Look, I'm just here to talk to you and find out if you're ok. We don't need to know about Akatsuki or nothin', trust me we've got enough info to last several life times."
"...So, are you?" Naruto said, then seeing her look sighed. "Ok I mean."
"Oh, yeah, fine." Yugito said blinking. "Are you sure youre a ninja?"
"Of course I am!" Naruto snapped thumbing his chest, with a tiny grin. "I'm the next Hokage after all."
"I AM SERIOUS!"
"...I must be on some great painkillers," Yugito half whispered, "This is the best hallucination I've had since I ate those mushrooms in Iwa."
"GAH! I'm not a hallucination!" Naruto shouted and huffing crossed his arms.
"Oh," Yugito said, smiling in a slightly teasing manner "So do you have a name?"
"Of course I do," Naruto said grinning "Uzumaki Naruto."
"Naruto?" Yugito repeated, followed by her stomach growling slightly. This caused her to blush faintly once more and chuckle. "Sorry, just that I haven't had ramen for a while, its nature's perfect food you know."
Naruto paused, staring at her in shock. "If I knew you wouldn't try to kill me I think I could kiss you..."
"Yeh, well I will try," Yugito supplied firmly, shooting him a threatening glare.
"Hmm, well I'm hungry too," Naruto said this was accompanied by his own stomach rumbling. "How about I go get us some ramen? Shouldn't take too long, provided Ichiraku isn't flooded..."
"Well before you go could I ask you something?" Yugito asked, sitting up straight in the bed. Naruto paused and noticed her intent gaze, frowned slightly and debated about it before he nodded reluctantly. "How do you guys know so much about Akatsuki and if you do know why aren't you worried about me?"
"...Can you keep a secret?" Naruto asked seriously and at her nod, grinned mischievously. "So can I."
"Cute," Yugito said with a scowl "real cute."
"Thanks," Naruto said his grin widening. He felt a bit proud of the way he had managed that, wasn't too often he got to use that kind of setup. "So what kind of ramen you want?"
"Sweet kami," Naruto said staring at her in surprise. This was a woman after his own heart, or at least a potential friend, after all ramen could help bond anyone into friendship. Seeing her curiosity he smiled and turning walked outside. Pausing he considered things and then decided that the smartest course would be to send a Kage Bunshin for the food while he took a quick shower and changed clothes.
An artist must suffer; he must toil and sweat blood, always striving for the greatest moment of his craft.
"OH YEAH!" an exuberant voice shouted from below.
Deidara grimaced, refusing to look down at the newest Akatsuki member. Tobi had been a hanger on for years; rumor had it he'd been around since the leader had formed Akatsuki. Still the skills he had displayed today in the fight against the Sanbi had been less than impressive; Deidara had done most of the work. So that made it two Bijū he had captured now.
"Deidara-san! Did you see my Jutsu?! This thing was nothing for me!" Tobi shouted enthusiastically from the top of the massive creature. "I'm pretty Damn good right?! Even as an Akatsuki rookie, it's no wonder I was given such an important task, don't you think?!"
"..." Deidara could only stare down at the man, wondering why he had been partnered with the man. The explosive user even daydreamed of the results of Tobi teaming up with Kisame. Still, it would be better to deflate his ego now before it got to big "Please...you wouldn't have gotten anywhere without the artistic contribution of my explosive clay. My art deserves the praise here. Hmm!"
Tobi however, seemed to just stare past him, or he thought so. It was so hard to tell with that stupid mask he wore. "Stop getting all full of yourself, forgetting the help I provided you! Akatsuki members aren't talkative, they act calm and cool. To make it simple, being cool is being artistic."
Still Tobi didn't react and Deidara felt mounting annoyance.
"Listen up, cause I'm going to let you know what art is...it's the product of a cool mind giving birth to a fiery moment of-"
"Deidara-san, you're pretty talkative yourself for being part of Akatsuki, huh...? Hehehe." Tobi suddenly chimed in, much to Deidara's ire. In fact, his temper snapped and he hurled several bombs down at the man who danced around like a cartoon. "I was just kidding!"
Frustrated at not hitting his target, Deidara sent a larger bomb down.
Deidara smiled to himself, that was art yeah, nothing but a bang.
Nijū Shōtai, Tsunade mused, staring at the group before her. Each stood proudly, awaiting her orders, each powerful and among the best this village had to offer and they were all cannon fodder. Tsunade knew it, Jiraiya knew it, and if Naruto and Sakura knew about them then they would know it to.
For Akatsuki these twenty platoons of ninja were little more than a hindrance, after all it took everything Team Seven and Team Gai had to even survive and they were at the top of the field. Still, Tsunade had no other options since ANBU had fallen into decline and they had to watch for Akatsuki entering the country. Not only because of Yugito, but because of Naruto and she dearly hoped not to face more than one team, and even then she would rather not face even that.
"So that's the situation," Tsunade said clearly, nodding as Jiraiya finished the briefing -he was the better public speaker of the two- "you each have you're assignments. Remember, if you encounter an Akatsuki; try to take him alive if it is reasonably practical. If not, I accept dead as well."
With an elegant sweep of her arm, the gathered legions departed, leaving her alone with Jiraiya on top of the wind-swept tower. Sighing she glanced at the white haired pervert who was staring into the distance lost in his own thoughts. After a few more minutes she spoke, drawing him back from whatever place he had wandered. "So have you learned anything about these new agents?"
"Nothing," Jiraiya said shaking his head "I looked through the bingo books, even through bounty office records, they don't match anyone."
"I don't like it when we have unknown players," Tsunade muttered, pressing her lips into a tight line "have you decided when you're going to try and contact Kumo?"
"Not yet," Jiraiya said scratching his head "your messenger birds might find something still. If they're not back in another day or two, I'll go see what I can find. Still, if they took Yugito there's no telling what the state of the village is."
Nodding Tsunade let her gaze drift to the hospital and the woman they had locked away inside. Right about now, Naruto would be talking with her, maybe earning her trust. It had been her idea to involve him, after all Naruto had brought Gaara around and with what little information they had on this Yugito she had felt it the best course of action.
Part of her even wondered if maybe those two might not hit it off, they would definitely relate to each other better than anyone else. Tsunade wasn't about to force the issue, not really, still if it wasn't Sakura then Yugito would be best. She wrinkled her nose in thought, weighing each in her own mind, since to her this was a very important matter.
After all, Naruto was like her younger brother.
"You shouldn't scrunch your face up like that," Jiraiya suddenly said, a hint of teasing in his tone "makes me want to kiss you."
"Lecher," Tsunade muttered, glancing at him a tad fonder than she had in her younger days. Seeing his smile, Tsunade smiled back before sighing and walked past, patting his shoulder "I got paper work to see to. Keep an eye out for anything I need to know about it."
"You can count on me." Jiraiya assured her, his eyes twinkling.
"And no peeking!" Tsunade added as she disappeared into the building, smiling at his loud protest about not understanding his research.
Firstly, this is just a story to relax with for me. I'm not abandoning any other stories nor connecting it to any other stories. Secondly, there is no character listing for Nii Yugito (or Yugito Nii) what's up with that?. Anyway, enjoy the story and for this stories continuity, it is all canon up to 314-ish and starts altering the timeline at 318 of the manga.
:Edited January 17, 2013: A few tweaks here and there. Mostly replaced the name 'Nibi' and 'Nekomata' with Matatabi.