Umm, why hello there reader! This is the author here, xlilix, telling you the whole "I don't own Naruto" thing.

So heres some background you might find helpful:

This is my first story: yes, I am a fanfiction virgin, so be gentle with me. lol
I am not really too up to date with the manga and anime: I have the general idea, but if its a little off then my bad!

I'm not really sure what to label this: it's hopefully going to end up having comedy, romance, friendship, drama, angst, adventure, mystery, and all that good stuff rolled into one big ol' Naruto ball.

This fiction is going to follow an origional character but the story is going to build up around the Canon Naruto character relationships, plots, and such so with any luck it'll be fine. ;D

Time: Shippuden, Naruto and Sakura are 15, a little while after their encounter with Sasuke.

Bold- Stressed
Italics- thoughts

PS: Reviews are welcomed and encouraged!
Seriously!
Even comments ranging from "You suck at life! Go die!" to "That was sort of cool, keep it up." or even something random: "I really like horseradish you should add something about horseradish to this story" I will totally, maybe, think about it! Don't be afraid to share your thoughts!

On to the story!


Chapter 1

The forest was calm and silent as the sun beat down through the canopy in pale streaks.

The only sound to be heard was light, almost inaudible tapping and swishing sounds as sandals pushed off tree branches and bodies cut through the air with immense speed and agility.

To the average observer they were just a glimpse of color, a trick of the light, before they sped past, completely unnoticeable.

Unnoticeable that is, until one blonde loudmouth clad in black and orange exclaimed:
"NE! KAKASHI-SENSIEEEE! How much longer til' we reach the village?! I'm starving dattebayo! This whole mission: no ramen! It's been days! Can you believe it Sakura-chan?"

"… Noooooo, of course not Naruto! A mission without ramen?" She gave an exaggerated gasp, "I mean who could even think such a terrible thing?" drawled a young woman with striking coral hair.

"Heyyy Sakura-chan! If I didn't know any better I'd start to think you're making fun of me…" The blonde jokingly whined.

"Well then it's a good thing you don't know any better now isn't it Naruto?" remarked a masked man nonchalantly.

...

"Soooooo?"

"So what Dickless?" asked a smiling, abdomen baring teen.

"I just asked: how much longer?"

"Let's see here, hmmm, looks like we've still got about a day and a half's journey ahead of us." Kakashi intoned.

"GAAAH! This mission is so lame! A-ranked my butt baa-chan! We're top ninja! Not glorified delivery boys!"

Sakura gave him a patient smile.
"Oh come on Naruto, it's not that bad, and besides this mission is really important: the safe delivery of these scrolls represents the growing relations between Konohagakure and Kumogakure. The sharing of information will help us build trust and will aid in the reformation of the peace treaty between our nations that Tsunade-shisou and the village have been working so hard for. You should be honored to protect something so valuable."

Considering her words Naruto made a face that was between contemplation and constipation. He then smiled sheepishly and rubbed the back of his head:
"Well, when you put it that way…
But still! I can't wait to get back home and hit up Ichiraku's! How 'bout it Sakura-chan?" He said waggling his eyebrows suggestively.

At this the girl rolled her eyes, but smiled warmly at her enthusiastic teammate.
"Sure thing Naruto."

"Yeah, that's just what you need hag: ramen to make you fat and uglier."

"Rrrrrr" A pink eyebrow twitched.
"Ok Sakura you can do this… Don't let him get to you! Just calm down, count to ten… Must… resist….urge… to kill…"

With a heavy breath out and a forced smile, she recomposed herself:
"Tut tut tut. Oh darling Sai, you know that flattery will get you nowhere with me." She responded, oozing sarcasm.

"I don't think that I, nor anyone else, would ever desire to go anywhere with you hag." Cue the fake smile.

"AHH! JERK!" The kunoichi shrieked as she landed a furious punch onto his cheek, sending him flying off of his branch and into the nearest trunk. He got up good-naturedly and dusted himself off, seemingly unfazed by this now routine attack.

Naruto laughed and chimed in as Sakura started to yell obscenities at the pale boy's ear, while said boy resumed his previous pace.

Their team leader half heartedly listened, read from an orange book, and pondered his team's "unique" dynamic: "They sure know how to pass the time don't they."

And while this commotion took place, all four failed to notice that a new entity that had been closely observing them through the trees.


"SAI! HOW MANY TIMES DO I HAVE TO TELL YOU TO QUIuuuhh…" The last part of her sentence trailed off as Sakura suddenly closed her eyes and started to fall forward. All three teammates took notice immediately and jumped to her aid.

"Sakura-chan!?" Naruto yelled fearfully as he caught her on her way down to the forest floor. He crouched over her figure scanning desperately for what had caused her to falter.

The two others landed gracefully adjacent to the pair now huddled on the ground.

"What happened to her?" Asked Sai. Kakashi was busy scanning the area for threats.

"She's passed out, I don't knuuuh…" Naruto then slouched down atop Sakura's still form.

This time Kakashi's keen eye found the cause of their condition: a tiny glint of a slim needle was protruding from the necks of the two ninja.

"Sai, they've been hit with poisoned needles! Stay alert!" Kakashi barked.

"Hai. Can you detect the enemy's presehh…?" Sai's knees buckled under his weight as he went down with a small thump.

"Damn. He had already been hit by the time I warned him."

Kakashi's senses now working overdrive to defend did not disappoint as he deflected multiple tiny needles with a kunai and flung a mass of shuriken into the tree from which the needles' trajectory had come from. Unfortunately, the attacker had anticipated its own discovery and, just as the shuriken were leaving the Jounin's fingertips, a shadow had materialized from above.
As soon as Kakashi's eye even began to widen in realization, a blow was sent to the pressure point in the back of his neck, knocking him out cold.


Darkness, a sliver of light at the bottom of his eyelids, and then blurry colors started to become pronounced as Naruto blearily tried to open his eyes. His brain was desperately trying to focus and make congruent thought and connection:

"Black. It's my pants.

Brown. It's dirt.

Dirt equals ground.

Ground equals down.

I'm looking down.

Why?

Look up.

Can't.

Keep trying."

Naruto's head was hung low towards his lap unable to move. He was blinking slowly trying to gain clarity in his muddled mind.

"Why? Where?
The last thing I remember?
The forest.
Our mission!
Sakura!
But I was knocked out too!
We've been attacked!
MOVE."

He attempted to move again with intensified effort and determination: this time his head actually made a small sluggish nod, his fingers twitched, and his leg muscle attempted to contract.

From this attempt he assessed:
"I'm pretty numb, probably from a toxin. My hands and feet are bound behind my back. I'm in a kneeling position. So I am captured. By who? Akatsuki? No! Are the others all right!? What if they're not! MOVE NOW!"

With this, his head snapped up and his eyes shot open to determine his surroundings. He was still in the forest.
"Well that's a good sign right?"
Straight ahead was a figure in black crouching over Kakashi's pack, rummaging through it. But as soon as the movement of Naruto's head was detected the figure instantly spun around and landed in a defensive stance.

"Fast reflexes, solid stance, black outfit, hood up, wearing a mask. I'm thinkin Ninja, most definitely. Well hey, no red clouds, and I'm still alive, so not Akatsuki, that's good I guess. But they are still an enemy. So then who are they? From where? Why did they attack us? Us. My team! Are they ok?"

The figure kept its position and so did Naruto: both stone still, the two facing each other, staring intently. The captor's frozen position was out of calculation and anticipation of attack, Naruto's however was, well, simply because he could not really move, his previous movement being brought about by sheer will power.

"Ok what now genius? Still can't move so nothing I can really do…. Uhh… keep staring. Can't back down. Don't show weakness! Uhh, wait is he even looking at me? I mean he's facing me n' all, but damn, I can't tell, he's wearing that mask…

Stupid masks.

Oh you think your sooo mysterious cuz you wear a mask!
Psssh like anbu for instance: think they're hot shit, flaunting they're stuff. I remember that one guy snuck into Ichiraku's once, all silent and decked out in uniform. I look away for one measly second and when I turn back around he was all two inches away from my face with that owl mask! Scared the crap out of me! I nearly fell off my chair! I mean seriously, you're just eating lunch you big show off! (but secretly those masks are kinda cool. Man I can't wait to be anbu!)

And I know for a fact Kakashi-sensei only has his mask to drive everybody nuts with curiosity, it's not like it does anything to hide his identity. We all know it's him! The mask is totally pointless! Wait, what am I thinking? I'm in a serious situation here! Umm well hopefully my face remained neutral while I was thinking and…. he's still… just… standing there… staring at me…with that mask.

Wait! This thought isn't pointless: the mask! Maybe I can figure out who he is, where he's from, and thusly what he wants and what he will do from what he looks like. I'm using my ninja smarts after all! Ah-ha! Well let's see the mask is half black and half white, a few silver designs on the eyes, not much, and no mouth or nose, sort of reminds me of a hunter ninja mask. But no, there's no indication which village he's from and it just looks sort of like... decoration. Thiiiiiiink! ... Damn. The mask says nothing.

Ok, what's he wearing: tight black hood covering hair, very shrewd and original, NOT! Black, slightly baggy, shirt; black, slightly baggy, ninja pants; tucked into black ninja boots… Head to toe: very black, very stereotypical ninja. LAME! Real ninjas like to wear bright colors: like a poisonous animal! Unafraid to be seen! Let people know you're dangerous and not afraid to show it! Believe it! Psssh people always ragging on my orange, what do they know?! Anyway this guy is all for anonymity... and boringness.

Ok what isn't black? Well we've got some silver and white armor on the arms there and a white belt with all sorts of ninja goodies there… hmm I should analyze his inventory in case we battle. Well some kunai pouches, senbon, aaaand pellets? Watch out for those, don't know what they do. A few shuriken and, oh good he's getting closer, now I can get a better look at what he's got. WAIT WHAT?!"

Yes, the captor had by then come to the conclusion that there was no immediate threat: the target had not gotten free of his bindings, was not planning a surprise attack from some unknown location, and was in fact simply sitting there enjoying a staring contest with his attacker for about three awkward and silent minutes. Seeing that the captive was still immobile, the attacker visibly relaxed, shoulders slumped, but then straightened up and started over to the sitting young man.

"AHH! What do I do? He's coming! What do I do? Can I move yet?" He wiggled his fingers behind his back. "Yes! Sensation is returning! But I still can't move my arms or legs: shit! Got to stall him somehow…well there's only way I know how in these situations!"

"HEY YOU!"
"Alriiiight! Looks like my vocal cords, neck and head are working, thank god!"

At his sudden outburst the masked assailant hesitated mid step and paused, seeming almost startled.

"WHATS THE BIG IDEA ATTACKING ME LIKE THIS AND TYING ME UP YA BASTARD?! WHAT DO YOU WANT? AND WHERE THE HELL IS MY TEAM?! I SWEAR IF YOU HURT ANY ONE OF THEM I'LL MAKE YOU WISH YOU WERE DEAD! I'M GOING TO RIP YOUR LIMBS OFF AND BEAT YOU WITH THEM WHILE MAKING YOU EAT YOUR OWN EAR AND THEN-"

Before Naruto started on the next portion of his rant, his foe gave a quick nod and turned head, focusing solely on something behind Naruto's left shoulder. Curious about what could have torn attention away from one of his louder shouting bouts, Naruto turned to look back.

What he found made him have a tiny sweat drop.
All three of his other teammates were seated there, bound and unconscious, but completely unharmed. In fact they were almost comfortable looking, sitting in a semi-circle, heads bent peacefully: to Naruto it looked as if they could have been on a picnic and fallen asleep sitting up, Sakura was even rested against a tree in the shade.

But he still recognized the fact that they had been attacked and were now bound and at the disposal of an unknown enemy.


Turning back around, Naruto was once again reminded of the anbu at Ichiraku's ramen stand for while he had been inspecting his teammates' condition the black wearing one had snuck up and crouched down directly in front of his face.

"AHH!" If he had been able to move Naruto would have fallen over dramatically.
"WHAT THE HELL?! IS THAT YOUR PLAN?! HUH?! YOU GANNA DEFEAT ME BY SCARING ME TO DEATH?! NEARLY GAVE ME A HEART ATTACK!"

While Naruto's blaring was so pronounced it even blew air through clothing, the masked captor remained unaffected and stared unnervingly into the face of the fox boy.

Suffice to say Naruto began to feel more than a little uncomfortable with the proximity of the silent one. After only seconds the figure leapt up quickly and landed fiercely.

After a tense moment Naruto believed that there might be an assault coming and tried his best to get his extremities moving, but the figure merely stretched its arms up, let them fall to the sides, and then leaned weight on one leg.

One arm crossed the chest holding onto the elbow of the other arm whose hand went to rub the bottom of the chin of a tilted head.

The stance could only be described as one thing:
a highly over exaggerated thinking position.

Naruto was completely baffled by the masked one's behavior and set his whiskered face in an incredulous expression. His dastardly enemy with the mask now looked like a silly mime.

The captor could not comprehend how the boy had awoken so early from the fool proof, personalized, knock out needles, let alone be talking and moving.
"Did I aim incorrectly? No. The needle was placed directly into the mark. Did I put the wrong amount of toxin on the needle? No, never. I'm insanely careful when it comes to that, that's what makes them so perfect. Could he have built up an immunity? To a toxin I myself came up with? Not likely at all. Well maybe not an immunity, maybe he has a special ability to synthesize toxins in the body. It is a possibility."
Instantly the mask was in front of the blonde boy's face again: a face that was still holding a doubtful expression and an elevated eyebrow.

A glowing blue hand was raised to the blonde's chest.
"SHIT! I let my guard down! He's going to strike!"Naruto winced in expectation of the coming pain, but was surprised to find that when he opened his eyes the hand was merely roaming over his upper torso glowing blue warmly: inspecting and evaluating.

"What is he doing?"

As the hand roamed lower it paused by his stomach. The hand's blue charka suddenly changed to an orange-red and the figure pulled back and gathered it in the center of the palm. Standing now, the silent one seemed transfixed by the glow, holding it in hand like a small flame. After a few moments of contemplation the masked one then rubbed fingers to palm extinguishing the charka in one smooth motion, yet still stared at the empty hand for a moment.
"So that's why he was able to nullify the toxin so quickly huh?"
The masked head snapped towards Naruto's direction.

"Was that the fox's charka he just had? How did he do that? Why'd he do that? Whoa! He's looking at me again! His head turned to me so fast I'm surprised he didn't break his neck! What's wrong? Oh shit. He knows I contain the fox. What if he gives me to the Akatsuki or wants to kill me because now he knows what I hold. He's walking over. Wait! I can feel my arms and legs again! Okay, if he tries to make a move I'll hit him with a surprise attack. Dattebayo! Wait. Shit! These are charka ropes I can't get out of those! Just work around it I guess."

The masked one stalked over and stood in front of the boy. Naruto tensed, ready to retaliate. The silent one then bent over facing him. The hand that was coming at Naruto from the side simply ruffled his blonde hair playfully then patted his head a few times as if he were some kind of puppy.

To say he was shocked would be an understatement, but before Naruto could even start to wrap his mind around the action he felt a pressure on his neck and fell into a state of unconsciousness.


Naruto was swimming in a lake of ramen, riding the noodles as if they were friendly dolphins. On the shore waving to him were Ichiraku and his daughter Ayame.

"Hey old man! This is great! You've really outdone yourself this time!" Naruto yelled cheerfully.
"Does that mean you want some more Naruto? ... Naruto... Naruto... NARUTO!"

BAM!
"WAKE UP IDIOT!"

"Whaaa? Sakura-chan? Ahhhh! That really hurt! Whatcha do that for?!" Naruto demanded.

"You wouldn't wake up!" The pinkette defended.

She cut the ropes from around his wrist and ankles.

"EH? How'd you do that? These are chakra ropes; Kunai can't cut through them, not even an escape jutsu can get past 'em!"

"I always keep a kunai with a chakra tag on it in case of such emergencies. I modified it from the one Sasame gave me to cut you off from the Kabuto imposter that one time, remember that?"

"Oh yeeeah. Wow Sakura that's smart! You really come prepared!"

She blushed humbly.
"Yeah, well, I have to because we seem to have this great knack for getting into trouble, now don't we?" She winked and stuck her tongue out giggling.

Naruto then surveyed his surroundings. They were still in the same clearing as before, Kakashi was untying Sai and Sakura had moved swiftly to go looking through her pack.

" HEY! WAIT A MINUTE WHATS GOING ON? WHERE'D HE GO?" Naruto started darting around, doing searching motions.

"He? You mean you actually saw our attacker?" Sai asked as he stood and rubbed his wrists.

"Yeah… I woke up and-?"
"Hmm now what's this, I wonder?" Kakashi cut Naruto off mid sentence and peeled away a piece of paper attached to the blonde's forehead protector.

"It looks like… a note?" Sakura supplied. She then read aloud:

"DEAREST NINJA,
I AM WRITING TO LET YOU KNOW I HAVE BORROWED YOUR SCROLLS FOR A BIT. NOT TO WORRY! I PROMISE I WILL RETURN THEM TO YOU ONCE I AM DONE WITH THEM. I ASSURE YOU THEY ARE PERFECTLY SAFE AND THAT NO HARM WILL COME TO THEM! THANK YOU FOR YOUR PATIENCE AND MY DEEPEST APOLOGIES FOR THE INCONVENIENCE.
YOURS TRULY,
-THIEF"

There was a collective sweat drop.

Sakura blinked rapidly in confusion and then reread it.

Naruto stood with his mouth gaping open.

Kakashi sighed and pondered.

And Sai just smiled.