Always One Step Ahead


Spoilers for 421 and beyond of the manga. Ye be warned.


I knew today would be the day. Konoha was less than a day's journey away, now. I and the rest of my handpicked team would sneak in. We would succeed where my brother had failed. We would kill Tsunade and capture Naruto, the host of the Kyubi. All glory would be ours. We would show Pain just how valuable we were to Akatsuki.

Karin strode confidently to my left, while Suigetsu and Juugo walked on my right. We walked right through the edge of where I knew the wards to be, and we were on our guard.

Suigetsu extended the handle on his zanbatou, his right arm bulging grotesquely as he hefted the thing onto one shoulder. Karin formed a seal, and I knew she was checking the surroundings for hunter-nin. Juugo formed part of his body into a wicked scythe. I gently pulled the hilt of my sword, making sure it was clear in it's scabbard.

We were ready for anything.

Well, almost.

"Sasuke-kun, are you sure this is the village you want us to destroy?" Karin asked, fiddling with her glasses as she gazed through the opened gates of Konoha. A bustle of lively activity and boisterous laughter greeted her question.

It couldn't be.

*THUNK* Suigetsu's sword spoke, echoing it's owner's amazement at the majestic sight Konoha offered.

No. This wasn't possible.

"Hello, little friend," Juugo said quietly to a bird alighting on his shoulder, losing interest as he allowed the scythe to fade back into a regular human arm.

"I think we've got to rethink our plans, Sasuke," Suigetsu finally offered, hoisting the sword and storing the handle once more. He waved a hand at the sight through the gate. "I know we're supposed to destroy Konoha and all, but..."

It was impossible.

"Who the hell got here first!?" I yelled, looking through the perfectly whole wall of Konoha to see the perfectly destroyed rubble where all the buildings used to be. As we walked through the gates, I glanced in the direction of the Uchiha compound. Gone. Utterly gone. Farther in, I saw the signs of building.

I could at least find Naruto and capture him. Pain and Madara still needed the Kyubi.


"Oi, Sasuke! I knew you'd come back!" The voie was boisterous and filled with joy.

Naruto was smiling. Like nothing was wrong. His village was shattered all around him.

Why was he SMILING!?

I felt my hands and eyebrows twitching, and for once didn't shrug off Karin's hand rubbing my back. I even ignored it as it slipped into my dougi top and started to wander farther south than strictly polite. I had more important things on my mind.

Like wondering how the HELL Naruto plus destroyed Konoha equaled a GOD-DAMNED smile. I giggled to myself, grinning, as I grabbed my blond rival by the front of his orange jacket. His smile faded a bit.

"What! Konoha! Smashed! You, Happy?" Not my finest moment, but Konoha was smashed. Someone had done my job for me, and I wanted some fucking answers!

"Oh, Pain attacked a couple weeks ago! He kinda did a lot of damage, but everyone came out of it alright, except for Tsunade-baasan, but Sakura says she should be coming to her senses any day now!" Naruto grinned, and waved his hands around. "We've just got to rebuild the buildings, and the daimyou is being very generous now that we've sealed a treaty with Amegakure!"

"Pain! No damage!? Treaty!" I frothed. Funny, I couldn't seem to form full sentences.

"Oh, yeah. When Pain attacked, I had to take on his six bodies. They almost got me, but then I went and confronted the real Pain. I convinved him and Konan that fighting was pointless," Naruto went on, still grinning. His voice turned briefly sad. "He gave his life using some jutsu which brought everyone back to life!"

My hands dropped from his coat and I'm pretty sure Juugo's strong hand on my back was the only thing keeping my knees from buckling. He fought PAIN!? God damnit! At least I had my Chidori. Precious, precious...

"Oh, and guess what! Apparently the Rasengan was incomplete! My dad, the Fourth Hokage, couldn't mix his wind chakra in with the basic Rasengan, but now I can! I took out Kakuzu in one shot! It was awesome!"


"Hey, Sasuke!" Karin's voice sounded concerned. Why was it so distant!

"Oi, Sasuke, you okay?" The hated blond's voice seemed to fade, almost to nothing at all.

Why, what wonderful bunnies!

They're so cute...


"Ne, Sakura-chan?" Naruto asked, rubbing his chin. Inside the padded room, Sasuke rocked back and forth with his hands bound tightly with a straitjacket. "Is Sasuke going to be alright?"

"I don't know, Naruto," the pinkette replied honestly, making a note on her clipboard. "He'll eat if we give him food, but other than that he's unresponsive."

"I wonder what Orochimaru did to make him that way?" Naruto wondered, frowning. "It's my fault. I didn't get him fast enough."

"No, it's Orochimaru's fault," Sakura reassured him, taking one arm gently and smiling. "C'mon, I'll buy us some Ichikaru!"

As the two left, Sasuke continued to mumble to himself, his left eye twitching and not-quite blinking.

"Always one step ahead, always, always... It was supposed to be me, yes it was! I'm more special than him... why... one step, one step always... just ahead... just ahead..."


Author's Notes:

I have no excuse. None. This is just something that struck me while I was surfing the net today. I'm just looking forward to Sasuke getting to Konoha so much... I know Kishimoto isn't going to do it as a comedy, so I figured someone had to.

I'm sorry just doesn't seem to cut it here, I know. I don't think it'll go like this in the manga, but if it does... I'll laugh. I'll laugh hard.