Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto (obviously)...I'm making no money on this...so don't sue.

Notes: For people who have read Fire Shadow's Son...I'm sorry, but this isn't a sequel.

This is a completely unrelated AU.

But this story is a lot of fun!

(At least I think so...)

Anways, read, enjoy, and please review!


There was a roaring in his ears as he sprinted through the trees. Maybe it was the rushing wind, or the blood thrumming in his veins, or the loud pounding of his heart. Whatever it was, he didn't care.

Those freaky giant snakes had led him far away from Sakura-chan, Sasuke-teme, and that freaky Kusa-nin. Now that the snakes were history, he needed to get back before the fight was over. He needed to show Sasuke-teme that he was no baby, and he needed to kick that nasty Kusa-nin into next week!

Baring his teeth in a wild grimace, he burst out into a small clearing—


She was kneeling down on the ground. Sasuke-teme was slumped limp and dead-looking in her arms. The Kusa-nin was nowhere in sight, but she—he—it—could be anywhere, just waiting to strike…

Naruto rushed down the tree trunk, high on adrenalin and feeling wired. "Sakura-chan! What's wrong with Sa—aie!"

"S-stay away!" the pink-haired girl squeaked, brandishing one of her kunai as tears leaked from her green eyes.

"Huh? Sakura-chan?" Naruto hesitated, frowning in confusion. "What are you doing? It's just me—"

"That's a horrible henge!" Sakura snapped. "No way that I'll believe you're Naruto!"

He raised his hand to try and calm her. "Wha—?"

His mouth snapped shut when he caught sight of the back of his hand. His fingernails were pointed and claw-like. Checking his other hand, he found the same thing. Swallowing hard, his tongue brushed against his teeth, and he found that he had fangs…

Shock cooled the fire in his veins. His nails started to melt back into their usual bluntness and he felt kind of tired. Clenching his jaw, he grasped at the fading fire he felt prickling under his skin.

That Kusa-nin could be anywhere. It's not safe. I still need that chakra!

There was a rumbling growl in the back of his mind and he shivered.

That nin took out Sasuke with his fancy eyes—I'll need everything I've got!

He heard another snarl, but the fire in his veins flared up a bit, and his nails solidified into claws again.


"Sakura-chan, seriously, it's me!" he protested, returning his focus to his female teammate. "I-I did this before…on the bridge in Wave against Haku. You just didn't see it because of all the ice and mist, I swear! That's how I beat him after Sasuke got all full of needles."

The girl blinked and half-lowered her weapon. "…Naruto?"

"Of course!" Naruto snorted and moved his hands into position to start a particular jutsu. "I'll even prove it!"

"If you do that stupid henge, I'll pound you!" Sakura snapped, glaring.

"Okay," the blonde hurriedly agreed and dropped his hands. He scampered over to Sasuke's side and frowned when he heard the Uchiha's labored breathing. "What's wrong with Teme?"

"I…I don't know," Sakura sniffed. "That Grass ninja…did something to him. It bit his neck!" She shifted the boy in her arms so that Naruto could see a strange black mark on the Uchiha's neck. "It hurt him—Sasuke-kun screamed like he was dying! And now…he won't wake up…" She sniffled. "It feels like he's getting a fever…"

Naruto frowned at the mark—three fat comma-like marks that swirled around each other, and kind of reminded him of the tomoes of the Sharingan. He reached out and touched it with his finger experimentally… It felt cold and slimy and prickly and all kinds of bad news.

A hissing growl between his ears reinforced his conclusion that the freaky hickey was evil.

"What is it?"

"I have no idea!" Sakura snapped.

"Well you're the smartest one next to Sasuke-teme," Naruto shrugged helplessly.

The pink-haired genin swallowed hard. "It-it's something advanced, whatever it is. Some kind of seal…maybe?"

Naruto squinted at the mark. "A seal?"

Seals were tricky, complicated things. They were markings made up of formulas of symbols that were merged together through the careful introduction of chakra. They stored things into scrolls, locked doors, sound-proofed rooms, set off explosions—the list went on and on. If a ninja was knowledgeable enough about seals, they could do just about anything with them.

Naruto barely knew more than the average newly-minted genin did about seals. He could use exploding tags, letter-bombs, and get things out of (and back into) storage scrolls. And then there was…that thing he'd read about in that book…

He'd found an advanced book on seals under his mom's bed when he was eight. Most of the stuff in it went completely over his head, except for one simple technique. It was an emergency seal-breaking jutsu, only to be used in…emergencies.

This is definitely an emergency. Naruto molded his clawed hands into the dragon seal, the tiger, the snake, and then the ram. It can't hurt to try, right?

Clenching his teeth, he jabbed his index and middle finger into the black mark and shoved the molded red chakra into it.

Please let this work…