*****

Naruto Uzumaki opened his eyes, a bright flash ahead of him. He wasn't sure what the heck was going on, but last he checked, he was dead. He saw a silhouette in the stark white light, a light pink hue around the head of the person. He was starting to hear her voice, placing his hand in front of the light.

"Sa.. Sakura....? Is that you?" he asked, pushing himself upright on the bed frame. He rubbed his eyes and saw that it was indeed the same Kuinoichi he had fallen for so long ago now. "Are we... Dead?"

Sakura laughed, "No, silly... Far from it, you made it!"

Naruto's mouth dropped, "It.... What Sasuke gave me.... It helped, didn't it?" Sakura had a smile on her face, nodding. He looked to his right, he had no scars, and saw the time. "How long was I out?"

"About 12 hours, you really jumped back up from the jutsu.." She looked into the eyes of the young man, joy radiating from her emerald eyes. She sensed a bit of sorrow from Naruto, hinting her on exactly what she feared would happen.

"Did you bring his body back?" Naruto asked.

"No... I could only carry you, they're headed after it, but-" She saw Naruto wipe a tear from his eyes. Sasuke... She thought, You really had a brother that cared.... Sakura sat down on the bed, placing her left hand on his face, the other on his arm. "It's okay, Naruto... It's okay...." She wiped the tears from his face. "It's the memories that matter anyway... He believed in you, Naruto.. He died the same Sasuke we both knew."

Naruto nodded, "I know," he said as he sniffed, "I'm just going to miss him...."

"So am I, Naruto... So am I..." She held Naruto in her arms, rubbing her arm up and down his back. She had already had her moment, but that too had passed. Naruto was there when she needed someone to comfort her, it was her turn to be the one for him to lean on again. "I'm here for you, Naruto...." she said warmly, kissing his cheek."I always will be..."

*****

"So, he failed to kill the fool after all..." Madara Uchiha said, having heard the news from Zetsu. "Pity... We need to regroup. All of us."

"We already have," Kisame said, entering the room. "Face it Madara, we're weak. There's only three of us. With the Kages united, do you honestly expect this to work out?"

Madara chuckled, "You two have been out of the loop..." He pulled out a piece of paper, it was a list. One of names. "We have gained a new place of power." The other two looked at the paper, recognizing exactly where the nin were from.

"Kohona...."Zetsu said.

"Does this mean...?" Kisame asked, knowing good and well what the answer was.

"Yes," a voice said, "It does indeed." He walked out from the dark, chuckling as he removed the bandages from his head. He looked at Madara, "It's done, we let him out. He should have the body recovered within the hour."

"Excellent, Danzo..." He said, smiling at the success, "Excellent indeed. My friends, we need to return to hiding. It will be harder to keep quiet this time, but there can be no mistakes this time. The nine tails will only get stronger, and out ace in the hole won't be ready for who knows how long. Perhaps it will be a month, or it could be years. Whatever happens, we will have that final beast..." The three others nodded, understanding what needed to be done.

*****

A man approached the cold body that once was Sasuke Uchiha. He snickered, picking up the limp body. "You think it's still in there?" he asked.

"I Know it's in there." a second voice said, both coming from the same body. "It's going to take some time, but I'm sure you can figure it out, right Kabuto?"

He smiled, pushing up his glasses. "Of course, Lord Orochimaru, it can be done with ease..."

*****

END

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