An: Wow, almost a whole year without an update. To the many fans and reviewers of this story I can only say, I'm sorry. I never truly intended for it to be this long, but life just didn't really leave me much time or desire to focus on this story as other projects had pulled me away. Not to mention my new job has me staring at a computer screen all day so coming to do so was a little unappealing. However, from here on out I plan to at least add one chapter a month to this story as well as to The Difference a Kiss can Make. For the foreseeable future, Intentions will be on hiatus at least until I finish this or my other story. But don't worry I do plan to finish all my stories.
Now let me take the time to thank those that take the time to review as I feel I let them down the most with my prolonged absence. So again thank you and if I don't get the chance to say it at some other point in the near future Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.
Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto and I'm doing this for fun not profit.
Chapter 64: Brighter Vision
"I'm sorry too," Nibi called out to its host as the water threw the jinchuriki over the edge. Nibi didn't mean it though as an end of the partnership that they had attained, but because the ancient creature was going to thwart Yugito's desire to deny Akatsuki from extracting the Bijuu. Coating Yugito in its chakra, it protected the woman from smashing against the rocks on her way down as well as from being smashed by the waterfall itself. Still Yugito hit the water hard, losing conscious so it was left to Nibi to exert control. Turning them into their two-tailed cat form Nibi managed to extract them from beneath the crushing water. However the Bijuu didn't make it very far as it was still reeling from the wound it had received from the silver-haired Akatsuki member. Managing to get to the shoreline before collapsing and reverting back to Yugito's form, Nibi began concentrating on healing her wound so she could once more begin healing Yugito. The Bijuu only hoped that Kumo forces were nearby as otherwise all it had done was delay the inevitable as well as denying Yugito her goal of preventing Akatsuki from taking it away.
Kakashi looked up and could see the Kumo shinobi closing in on his group. Taking a deep breath to calm his nerves, although his men probably had no idea that he was anything but calm from how he was carrying himself as he was still reading his ever present book. His nervousness faded though as the Kumo-nin got closer due to his training kicking in from his need to take command. He closed his book as the Raikage held up his hand causing his men to stop on the tree branches opposite of Kakashi and the Leaf.
"Kakashi Hatake you're a long way from home," The Raikage said challenging.
Keeping his voice calm and neutral Kakashi said, "The same could be said of you Lord Raikage."
"I don't have time for this. Get out of my way or I'll make you move."
"I'm afraid I can't do that. You of all people must realize the waves that are generated when people move hastily. Those waves have brought the Leaf here for the Hot-Water Daimyo fears being overrun by them."
A scoffed as he replied, "I have no interest in this country. Now move."
"I wish I could," Kakashi said sincerely, "But the Leaf is honor bound to protect the border. Now if…"
"I see," A said dangerously, "It seems Tsunade has received my message, but is taking the opportunity to hinder us from saving Yugito." The Raikage's words caused all the assembled Kumo-nin to reach for their weapons an action that was mirrored by the Konoha-nin.
Kakashi sighed as he raised his hand and then lowered it telling his people to put their weapons away. A arched an eyebrow at the move causing Kakashi to say, "Now as I was saying. We were tasked with protecting this border from a large assembly of Kumo shinobi intent on crossing it. But should that assembly agree to say break up into smaller units which will be observed by the Leaf. Then I think the Daimyo's fears should be well appeased and you should be able to cover more ground faster."
A's past experiences tended to make him suspicious of any shinobi from outside of Kumo. However, he put those suspicions aside as Yugito's life hung in the balance and Kakashi's proposal would allow him to spread his force out over a larger area without diluting its power should they encounter Akatsuki. Nodding to Darui, the man yelled for the Kumo-nin to break into pairs. The shinobi quickly did as commanded and once they had split up those pairs were in turn joined by three Konoha-nin.
Kakashi appeared between A and Darui saying, "Lord Raikage, if you wish we can head to our central camp. From there you will be able to oversee our search parties progress and better orientate your own so they aren't rechecking locations we've cleared."
A nodded and as he followed after Kakashi, but couldn't help but wonder what the Leaf hoped to gain by helping Kumo in its hour of need.
"I'm telling you it isn't a rumor. Sakura and Hinata are dating that idiot Naruto," Kiba said to his teammate angrily.
"I didn't say it was," the calm voice of Shino replied, "I'm merely questioning why you care."
Taken a little by surprise by the rebuttal Kiba stammered slightly, "W-well because it's just not right…"
"Based on what? I still don't understand why you care. Hinata already made it clear she only viewed you as a friend back during the academy and you've never displayed an interest in Sakura as anything other than a teammate. Therefore your being upset is illogical."
Isaribi listened to her teammates before muttering to herself, "Not that he'd noticed even if a girl was interested in him."
Although she had barely given voice to her complaint Kiba still knew she had spoken if not hearing exactly what she had said so asked, "What was that?"
"Nothing," the kunoichi replied making sure not to face the boy lest he see the blush she was sporting. Kicking her feet in the stream she was sitting by she tried to get them to change the subject saying, "Don't you think now isn't the proper time to be discussing this? Kumo and Konoha don't have the best of relationships so even if the jinchuriki spots us; they might remain hidden from us as well."
Shino nodded pulling the hood of his jacket back up as he said, "Indeed, considering she has the least experience as a shinobi you should feel ashamed at her professionalism Kiba."
"Hey man, I'm professional. Excuse me for thinking I can talk in the middle of our freaking camp."
Kiba directed a glare at the kunoichi which caused her to think, "Great, now he dislikes me even more." Sighing, the newest member of team Kurenai wondered if his dislike was due to her replacing Hinata on the team. She was aware that Kiba had put in for the transfer to it in order to be with his friends in the aftermath of his old team's dissolution. As a result he tended to be rather uncouth towards her making her feel as if she was a poor substitute for Hinata. Which was rather distressing since she had taken a liking to him from the get go.
Focusing back on the water where she was dipping her sandals, which were modified so that the toe area was more exposed to accommodate for her Kaima form's webbed feet, she decided to remain silent less her standing fall even more in Kiba's eyes. However she suddenly felt a massive shock run through her causing her to think, "Whoa, something strong just entered this river."
Her standing abruptly caused Shino to ask, "Is everything alright?"
"I don't know," Isaribi said as she pulled off the sarong that she normally wore around her waist, "But something with a monsterous chakra level just entered the river upstream." Channeling her chakra internally she triggered her kaima form causing her skin to turn scaly, but instead of the ugly green scales that used to appear, her skin reflected the early morning light giving of a multitude of colors.. Her long purple hair grew more fibrous like the soft barbs that appeared on some fish. Finally her dark eyes grew wider taking over the whites of her eyes before turning a dark blue color. Turning to her teammates she said, "I'll go scout it out."
To her surprise it was Kiba that responded forgetting his earlier ire as he said, "We'll be right behind you."
After a quick nod, she dived into the water and was gone in a flash as she easily propelled herself through it. Covering several miles in minutes, she reached the base of a great waterfall. She slowly rose to the surface until only her eyes were above the water looking for some sign of what she had detected. The chakra signature had quickly disappeared as she traveled towards it, but Isaribi knew that simply meant it had left the water as if whoever it had belong to had died she'd still be able to feel it for some time. Scanning the bank at the base of the waterfall she zeroed in on what appeared to be a massive animal print. Quickly making her way towards it, she knelt down to examine it further and found it to be remarkably fresh. Figuring that from the size alone, the paw print could be her chakra source she decided to follow it. Drawing an arrow in the mud with her webbed hand for her teammates to follow she began tracking the creature. The tracks disappeared into some brush but what surprised Isaribi was that they appeared to be getting smaller. Shortly after entering the foliage the kunoichi came to a complete stop as the animal tracks she had been following gave way to a human one. She doubled her pace now fairly certain that what she had been following was a jinchuriki due to the data packet she had been given about what to search for. It had been in a report given by the Fourth Hokage that Kumo's jinchuriki seemed capable of transforming into the beasts that they contained.
She didn't have to follow the tracks far, as only a few dozen yards further she found a blond woman lying face down in the dirt. She quickly made her way towards her, but as she tried to spin her to her back Isaribi needed to leap back as the kunoichi slashed a kunai she had been clutching at the Leaf-nin.
Panting heavily and looking very much like a cornered animal she asked, "What the hell are you?"
Realizing she was still in her Kaima form she reverted back to normal and indicated the buckle of the belt around her hips which contained her waterproof pouch where she stored the items that would be ruined if they got wet. Yugito noticed the Konoha symbol there, but naturally she didn't seem relieved. Having read about the history of her new home and some of its conflicts with the other villages she could understand. Raising her hands in a passive manner she said, "My name is Isaribi. We've received word that you were in peril and were dispatched to search for you."
"Capture me you mean."
Isaribi quickly shook her head no as she said, "We have no interest in taking you prisoner. We are here due to a request from the Raikage. He didn't ask for our help directly but sent a message thanking a Mr. J for information you recently received. We believe that it was a clue that Akatsuki may have snatched you or Lord Bee."
Yugito dropped the hand holding up the kunai more from fatigue than from coming to trust the Leaf-nin. Looking unbelievably tired she said, "He hates being called that. The fool prefers to go by Killer Bee."
Isaribi took a cautious step forward, but stopped as the forest went deathly quiet. Both women tensed as a result causing Isaribi to say, "I think it might be best if we leave." She quickly moved to pick the jinchuriki up throwing one arm over her shoulder.
She had just managed to get Yugito to her feet when the blonde woman tensed saying, "Too late."
Isaribi followed where the older woman was looking to see a masked creature standing to the side of them. Yugito recognized it as one of the two that had been hounding her before her falling over the edge of the waterfall. Considering that it had joined with its counterpart to form one giant creature but that the other mask was no longer a part of it she warned, "There's another one nearby. They were working as a pair before."
Yugito's words were proven correct as suddenly from a canopy of leaves behind the pair of women the other creature leapt towards them. But it overshot its targets when a pair of spinning vortexes slammed into the creature's torso sending it flying over the two women's heads.
Kiba and Akamaru landed in front of the women with the young man shouting, "Wahoo, nice job boy. We really sent that thing packing."
"Don't kid yourself," Yugito said, "If it was that easy I would have had no problem handling it."
Kiba turned to hurl back an insult which died on his tongue as he took in the beautiful woman's face. Isaribi noticed Kiba's starstruck look and felt a twinge of jealous spark to life within her. However, the current situation forced such thoughts away as she shouted, "Look out."
Kiba turned to see the other creature had opened its mouth but just as it began to light up as a jutsu prepared to be blasted at them. The creature suddenly closed its mouth before slamming its side into a tree. Kiba relaxed as it shook more and more violently before hundreds of bugs began swarming from within and throughout the loosening coils of the tendrils that made it up. Relaxing Kiba said, "You took your sweet time."
"Perhaps," Shino said stepping from behind a tree with his hands in his pockets, "Yet despite the lack of flash my technique showed. You could argue it was more effective than yours."
Shino raised his hand to point causing Kiba to turn and see that the creature he had hit was back on its feet. It looked like it was about to attack again but paused as its companion collapsed as the chakra from the heart that powered it was drained. The tendrils began to turn to a liquid state revealing the heart that made it up. Sensing that the odds were against it the creature leapt away.
"Yeah you better run," Kiba shouted.
Meanwhile Shino pulled out a tube which he pointed towards the sky and pulling the string that came out of the end sent a flare into the sky. "Why'd you do that," Yugito said agitated, "You've likely just given Akatsuki our position."
Shino turned towards the woman as he logically explained, "That creature will likely do the same. Plus we have many allies looking for you. Akatsuki would likely be converging on our position regardless of whether or not I used the flare. I prefer it if our allies were doing the same."
"Besides we'll be here to protect you," Kiba said jerking a thumb towards his chest as he spoke.
"Thanks, I feel so much safer already," Yugito said a hint of sarcasm entering her voice. She knew she probably came off as bitchy but considering how tired she was it was hard to reign in the general disdain she had felt for Konoha-nin.
Isaribi smiled expecting Kiba to snap at the jinchuriki due to her attitude. But instead both women were surprised as Kiba said, "I mean it. I promise we'll get you home safe and sound."
Despite herself, Yugito said, "T-thanks," caught up in the brown haired man's sincere expression.
Shino stepped forward saying, "If we are going to keep that promise. It would be prudent to head towards the base camp Shikamaru established."
"Right," Kiba said taking Yugito from an increasingly jealous Isaribi especially as he picked the woman up bridal style.
"W-what are you doing?" A blushing Yugito asked trying to pull herself from the young man's grip.
"Relax," Kiba said whistling for Akamaru. When his canine companion jotted in front of him, Kiba placed Yugito on top of his partner as he said, "We need to move quickly. Just hang on and leave the rest to us." With that, the large white dog leapt into the trees followed by Kiba and the others.
Kakuzu hated running. Because in his business it usually inferred that things had gone extremely poorly. That he was now running through the woods with his noisy partner cursing behind him was proof enough of that. He was aware that Kisame had taken to calling him and Hidan the Zombie Combo. Normally being the center of a person's amusement would earn his ire and a quick but painful death. Kakuzu's last few partners could attest to that. However, secretly he had taken a vague sense of pride in the name. His reason was because much like a creature he saw himself in the same light. Slow moving, but unrelenting. The slowness was a sign of professionalism since it showed he wasn't operating on the edge of disaster that so many other shinobi often found themselves.
"What the fuck?" Hidan shouted as he trailed behind his partner. "What the fuck happened to slow and easy to wear the bitch down?"
Kakuzu hadn't stopped to monitor what his masked creatures had seen so wasn't exactly sure what had happened, but he could feel only one of them heading back towards him. That coupled with the green flare that had gone into the air told him there were new players in the game. He was going to ignore his partner but hearing him about to complain again he said, "That flare was a signal to nearby shinobi that they've located something. Considering its location to where I last felt my masks and where one of them died it likely means they've found our jinchuriki."
"Shit, how the fuck did Kumo get in front of us?"
"They didn't," Kakuzu replied, "it's the Leaf."
"What!? That useless fuck of a Daimyo was supposed to have them pointed right at the rescue group coming from Kumo."
"I'm aware of that," Kakuzu snapped at his partner. "It's possible a Leaf patrol stumbled on her. We were hoping she'd try to avoid them as well as us. But it is possible she was too weak and delirious to do so. If we're quick enough, we can take her off their hands before they know what they've got." Kakuzu was glad that it seemed his partner had decided to be quiet to prepare for the coming fight. That was why he was surprised by his saying, "It could also be that the Raikage has asked the Leaf for help."
Kakuzu could tell his partner was surprised by his thinking aloud as he said, "What the fuck are you mumbling about? The Leaf and Cloud hate each other. There is no fucking way they'd agree to help each other."
"I suppose you're right," Kakuzu replied although he flashed back to over a hundred years in the past as he remembered the man that had recently become the first Hokage coming to his recently formed village bearing an offer of peace. A peace which he had hoped to bring about by giving them the Six-Tails. But it was a peace that Kakuzu would never be a part of as shortly after he was assigned the task of assassinating Hashirama Senju and then when he failed was cast out of his village as a traitor even though the go ahead had been given with the village leader's blessing. Shortly after his failure Taki would join Konoha in peaceful co-existence a fact that still angered Kakuzu to this day. He pushed aside his unprofessional stroll down memory lane to focus on the task of recovering the jinchuriki they lost.
Yet, he couldn't help but feel that perhaps the current Hokage was keeping her grandfather's dream alive and rescuing Kumo's jinchuriki would go a long way to proving her intentions. It would explain why with Kumo probably bearing down on Hot Water Country a group of Leaf-nin would reveal their position. That also meant that if they were aiding Kumo then it was likely more Konoha-nin were converging on that position as well. Kakuzu did not like the situation he and his partner could end up facing, especially since he was beginning to feel more and more like a pawn within Akatsuki. Still, professional pride demanded that he at least make an effort at recovering Hidan's target.
Still his professional pride did take a hit a moment later as they appeared in a clearing and once he crossed the half-way point a large wooden wall sprung up between Hidan and him. "What the fuck is this?!" Hidan shouted as he skidded to a stop in front of the structure.
Kakuzu also stopped and looking behind him over his shoulder said, "Wood style. How nostalgic." Turning forward again, he came face to face with three Konoha-nin . He didn't recognize two of them, but was familiar with the third although the young man's face was covered by a mask favored by shinobi of the Mist. Figuring his partner was staring down Leaf-nin as well he called back to him, "Hidan, are you looking at a blond kid wearing a mask?"
"Yeah, but don't worry I'll make quick work of him and his two teammates as well."
Fighting back annoyance, he pulled his Akatsuki robe off as he said, "He's the jinchuriki of the nine-tails you idiot. Don't you recognize him from when he interrupted the sealing of the one-tails?"
"I was barely fucking paying attention by then. We'd been sealing the one-tails for days."
"Well don't kill him. If anything, we'll turn this to our advantage and present him to Leader. That should make him up for letting the two-tails get away."
Kakuzu could hear the predatory smile likely on his partner's face as he responded, "Now you're talking."
Hinata tensed as she heard what the two Akatsuki members had planned. She noticed that Sakura did so as well and felt a small smile appear on her face at their similar reactions. Naruto was standing between them and said, "You talk a big game let's see if you can back it up."
"I'd love too," Hidan shouted as he began running towards the trio with his scythe held behind him.
Naruto pulled his ninjato preparing to meet the charge but Hinata having activated her Byakugan shouted, "Watch out!"
Naruto and Sakura reacted instantly as two mask wearing creatures leapt from the other side of the wooden wall that Yamato had constructed to separate the Akatsuki members. As they cleared the barrier, they each shot a jutsu to where the three had been standing. One was a fire jutsu and the other a wind so when they connected in flight on their way towards the Leaf-nin. The jutsu grew much more powerful and slammed into the ground where it caused a massive explosion that sent dust flying everywhere.
"Stupid fucking creatures," Hidan cursed as he shielded his eyes looking for his targets.
A moment later he raised his weapon to block a sword strike from Naruto as he used the dust like the Hidden Mist jutsu. It did Hidan no good though as Naruto channeled his wind nature chakra into his blade which caused it to shear through the other weapon like a hot knife through butter. Unprepared as he was for his scythe to offer no protection it was little wonder that Naruto's blade also bit into a sizeable portion of Hidan's neck.
Naruto was about to offer up a taunt, but stopped as his instincts cried at him to leap away. Having learned to trust them, he did so causing both Hinata and Sakura to leap to his sides as they watched the creatures come to the wounded Akatsuki's defense. "That's one down," Sakura offered up in relief.
"No, it's not," Naruto replied watching the man as he held a hand to his neck as if to keep his head attached while staggering. Before either of his girlfriends could point out he had likely struck a fatal blow Naruto added, "I've never met a man that could keep a clamp over his neck well enough to prevent any blood from seeping through his fingers."
Having spoken loud enough that Hidan could hear him the three Leaf shinobi watched as the man stopped staggering to give them an amused smiled. Pulling his hand away and despite the gaping wound which was barely bleeding, he said, "Wow, I'm fucking impressed. You wouldn't believe the number of chumps that lower their guard thinking they've scored the decisive blow." His head nearly fell back till one of the masked creatures stitched it back to his neck by sending a tendril from its body like a needle and thread. Rubbing the recently repaired section of his neck Hidan said, "Let's just keep this between us. Kakuzu keeps telling me that I'd lose my head for not keeping my guard up. I'd hate for him to learn he was almost right."
Naruto kept his gaze on Hidan as he replied, "I wouldn't worry about that. Your partner and you aren't walking away from here. Unless you want to surrender, that is?"
"Jashin doesn't allow for surrender. Besides in case it has escaped your notice, you can't kill me."
Naruto smirked beneath his mask as he raised his sword into a ready guard before replying, "As Zabuza would tell me there are ways around every problem."
"Oh yeah, and how do you plan to kill a man that cannot die smartass."
"How about by cutting him into a bunch of easily handled pieces?" Naruto replied charging at Hidan again.
Haku rolled backwards and as he returned to his feet he threw several senbon at the Akatsuki member. Kakuzu made a large sweep of his arm causing it to separate from his body as the tendrils appeared and intercepted the attack. Haku needed to leap away a moment later as the creature with the lightning mask which had appeared from behind them suddenly fired a lightning bullet at where he was standing. Landing, he formed a Kori blade in his hand and charged towards Kakuzu as several of Sai's ink creations moved against the masked creature.
Yamato raised his hand and a column of wood shot forward towards Kakuzu as Haku continued his charge. However, the Akatsuki raised his arm and slammed his fist into it shattering the wood battering ram. Still Haku managed to get in close and ran his blade along the man's stomach but immediately tried to leap away as he felt the blade meet a stone like resistance. However before he was clear, Haku was grabbed by his ankle and slammed into the ground.
Several ink Fu dogs landed on Kakuzu's back distracting him enough that Haku was able to kick loose of the man's grip. Several tendrils appeared from Kakuzu's back spearing the creations causing them to revert back to ink. Kakuzu charged towards Yamato displaying a speed that surprised those present. Closing with the reassigned Anbu member, he engaged the man in taijutsu as his mask attacked the other two members of Team Kakashi that he faced.
Haku leapt away as the creature released another electic blast toeards him before focusing on Sai's drawn creatures. As Sai engaged mask, Haku watched as Yamato took a blow to the stomach before he was then grabbed and tossed into the very barrier he had created. Creating an ice mirror, he ran into it as the other formed behind Kakuzu. Leaping from the mirror, he stabbed a kunai he had created with his Kekkei Genkai into Kakuzu's neck where it met his shoulder. As he expected, the man's skinned darkened just before his attack connected. He leapt away as tendrils erupted from the stitches of his opponent in an attempt to capture him.
"You're pretty good brat," Kakuzu said turning to face him as Yamato took the opportunity to get away as well as to attack the Lighting mask that had required Haku. "I can almost believe that Zabuza took out Kisame if the brats he trained are as good as you. I haven't had a fight this good since I faced Hashirama Senju."
Haku didn't seemed surprised causing the ancient shinobi to say, "I usually get more of a reaction from those I face when I mention I locked horns with the First Hokage."
Haku simply pulled several senbon from his pouch and holding them in his fists between his fingers said, "We have studied our enemy well and your inclusion in Akatsuki has been suspected for some time."
Kakuzu chuckled before saying, "I was wondering why so many of the bounty offices in the Land of Fire were being raided. But you should have read my file closer. I believe that it use to carry a flee on sight order."
"It did, but your organization is threatening my friend. I cannot run from that."
"What a brave heart you carry in that chest of yours. I'll be sure to add it to my collection." With that said the Akatsuki member charged towards Haku, who much as he stated prepared for the coming assault.
Naruto leapt back as another blast of fire from one of the masked creatures forced him away from Hidan. Although, he was fairly confident that if not for them he would have already carved the man up he had to admit his teamwork with the creatures was pretty good. Naruto chuckled at the irony that Yamato had been banking on teamwork being the key to their success, but it seemed that they had found a pair that at least understood the importance of it as well. He supposed that was what they deserved for basing a plan off of their one encounter with Sasori and Deidara.
Dusting himself off from the dirt that coated him due to his proximity to the blast, Hidan said, "Man, I can't believe you fuckers managed to kill Sasori and make Deidara run like a pussy."
"What are you talking about?" Naruto said caught by surprise by the revelation the Iwa missing-nin was alive. "He blew himself up."
"Really? You fucks fell for that. He's used that trick like several times when shit goes against him. I'd tell that ice using punk to watch his back. Deidara carries a grudge." A large blast of lighting sounded from the other side of the wall causing him to say, "Although I doubt he's going to be around to worry about it for long. Kakuzu is way more dangerous than me so you're both lucky and not so lucky."
Naruto growled hearing that prompting him to say, "Then I guess I better finish you off quick."
"Easier said than done," Hidan replied smugly.
Naruto had to agree since as he watched Sakura and Hinata fend off the masks, he had to admit they were in a tough spot. He knew that if he could simply incapacitate Hidan things would likely turn against Akatsuki since they would be able to deal with the masks. Hinata couldn't see what was motivating them since the tendrils that were making up their bodies were full of chakra. During a moment when they had been back to back she had said it was almost like they were overgrown chakra pathways.
Naruto tried to think of a way to take Hidan out of the fight but couldn't come up with one that didn't put Sakura and Hinata at a disadvantage. He had already tried to use clones but so far the masks would counter by just combining their jutsu to create massive blasts to wipe them out. The Hidden Mist jutsu was also ruled out since he couldn't be sure of how the masks "saw" things so didn't want to put Sakura at a disadvantage. Planning to train more with his girlfriends, so that they would be as comfortable in the dark as him, he considered switching opponents. However, he doubted that would go over any better than it did the first time he had tried it since the masks didn't seem in any hurry to get in close to him or his blade. He supposed whatever was motivating them was smart enough to know that the tendrils seemed more than capable of absorbing Sakura's blows or shifting whatever chakra points they possessed away from Hinata.
Instead the creatures had the girls on the defensive as they used bait and switch tactics to keep them off balance while affording them the opportunity to come to Hidan's aid when Naruto was getting the better of him. The silver haired man seemed to be reading his thoughts as he said, "It really is hopeless. You can surrender anytime you feel like it."
"No thanks; something tells me your piece of shit god Jashin isn't one for mercy."
Hidan's eyes narrowed as he said angrily, "I'm going to rip that blasphemous tongue right out of your skull. Then I'm going to take great delight in sending your friends to meet him but only after granting them a slow and agonizing death."
Naruto kept his cool since although riling up the man was probably not the best of plans. He figured that by pushing Hidan's buttons, he'd be able to throw his teamwork with the creatures supporting off. It seemed to do the trick as Hidan charged him holding the sheared handle of his scythe like a club. He tried to bring it down on Naruto's head, but by the time he completed his downward swing his arm was sailing away having been cut off at the elbow. Before Naruto could follow up though he was forced to backpedal in order to avoid a collapsible spear Hidan pulled with his other hand. Avoiding the worse of the blow, it still cut along his cheek. Almost instantly, the two creatures disengaged from the Kunoichi to land next to Hidan with one of them even stitching his severed arm back to his body.
"What a pity," the silver-haired man said as he consumed the blood on his weapon causing his body to turn black with white markings. Sneering at Naruto, as the two kunoichi took the opportunity to come to his side, he said, "It's time for you play dead for a while." He then stabbed himself in the chest causing his blood to spill along the ground.
Naruto was surprised that the man would suddenly start to bleed not to mention that he would think stabbing himself would achieve anything. But figuring whatever Hidan had planned wouldn't do him any good in the long run began to charge forward. However the masks launched a combined jutsu that landed right in front of the trio causing them to leap back and cover their faces as dirt and dust flew everywhere.
When the dust settled Hidan was standing in a symbol drawn in his blood and smirked as he said, "Thanks for playing." He then stabbed himself again in the stomach and this time Naruto doubled over in pain as he coughed up blood which his mask trapped along his face. He heard Sakura and Hinata scream his name before he tumbled backwards.
Naruto opened his eyes to find him lying on his back on a floor covered in shallow water. Although he had tried to avoid this place, he instantly recognized where he was. His location was also confirmed by the deep gravelly voice of the room's occupant. "So my prison returns. Come to beg for power?"
Naruto sat up and sent a glare at the Kyuubi before saying, "I've never asked for your power."
"Maybe not with words," the ancient Bijuu replied, "But you have called out for it now haven't you."
Naruto looked away unable to deny that what the Kyuubi said was partially true. His first time using it in order to save Sakura and Hinata being a prime example even if he hadn't know what he was calling upon at the time. Aware that time moved as fast or slow as Kyuubi tended to want it to while he was in the seal, Naruto remained calm despite his fears of how his girlfriends may be fairing now that the odds were three on two with them likely trying to protect his immobile form. Standing, he turned to face the fox as he asked, "What is it you want?"
"To see you broken and despondent would be a nice start. If I just hold back on healing you for a little while I'll probably get that in spades as Akatsuki slaughters your precious friends."
"I doubt you could heal me even if you wanted too," Naruto replied but winced as Kyuubi responded.
"Do you truly think such a blatant attempt to goad me into healing you would work?"
Although his attempt at trickery was detected, he suspected the chakra beast wasn't being entirely truthful in return as he countered, "You can't tell me you really want to take that chance. If my team can't handle these guys they how can you expect me to do any better by myself?"
"Who says you'll be doing the fighting? At that point what will you gain by keeping me contained?"
"The satisfaction of you not being turned loose in order to spread misery and death wherever you please," Naruto shot back earning a glare from Kyuubi. "I'll never just let you go free. My dad died sealing you in me and I'm going to keep you locked safely away until my dying day."
"A day not that far off in the future it seems," Kyuubi said lying down with its head resting on its paws as if it planned to go to sleep.
Naruto sat cross-legged across from his occupant as he said, "Look, I know we don't like each other very much. But you can't really be as relaxed about what Akatsuki has in store for you as you're acting."
One of Kyuubi's eyes opened to stare at the blond as he asked, "What makes you so sure of that?"
"Despite my insistence that I never wanted your power, you've given it to me plenty of times when I've been in a bind over the years. That tells me you're afraid of what will happen to you if I die without releasing you. Otherwise you could simply let me die and reappear in a few years."
Kyuubi let his eye close again as he replied dismissively, "Think what you will. At this point it doesn't matter. You're right…whatever your opponent has done is beyond my ability to heal."
Naruto looked surprised at the admission, but nodded as he placed his faith in Hinata and Sakura as well as the rest of his team. Sitting across from the Bijuu he finally asked, "So, what should I call you?"
To his surprise both of Kyuubi's eyes snapped open to stare at him as the Bijuu asked, "What do you mean?"
Smiling at the Bijuu as he sensed he had stumbled into an ice-breaker with his occupant he said, "Well I doubt Kyuubi was a name you called yourself. I mean I don't know much about you Bijuu but it's kind of hard to imagine you'd all refer to yourselves by the number of tails you have."
The Bijuu harrumphed before saying, "I doubt you truly care what I call myself. You're probably just hoping to get on my good side so I'll reveal if I'm intentionally not healing you."
"No, I believed you when you said you couldn't. Sakura's as good a medic as Tsunade and if she hasn't healed me yet then I have no reason to believe you could either. I might not understand how it works, but I assume you both work under the same principles." The Bijuu's eyes focused on Naruto again causing him to continue, "Look, we're stuck with each other whether we like it or not. I don't want to die and you apparently can't have that happen either. I'm just as responsible as you for our shitty relationship so let's say we learn to work together. At the very least then we'll be able to devote all our energies to Akatsuki instead against each other."
Kyuubi continued to study the boy before asking, "And what about your old teacher's insistence that you not trust me?"
Remembering how Zabuza used to insist Naruto not trust anything his Bijuu told him due to its desire to escape the blond answered, "Truthfully I think Zabuza said that because he wasn't sure on what steps to take in order to properly train me and was afraid what would happen if I lost control. You've proven that you were more than willing to take advantage of any weakness on my part like when I fought Danzou. But it's not like I tried to get to know you or anything so what choice did you have. I'm just trying to find a way were maybe we can coexist."
"Coexist with a human," the Bijuu said after a moment, "Don't make me laugh. I've never heard anything so foolish."
Naruto sighed, and if he wasn't concerned with what was going on outside the seal he might have pressed harder, as he was sure that there had been something in Kyuubi's voice that wasn't as dismissive of the idea as he had sounded.
"Ha ha ha ha. Is this the best the Leaf has to offer?" Hidan then twisted the spear still in his stomach causing Naruto to spit up blood."
Hinata didn't look back as her Byakugan made it unnecessary. But it still split her focus enough that she barely noticed the fire mask fire another jutsu at her. Picking up the incoming projectile at the last moment she leapt back, but was still caught up in the blast when it impacted the ground. The Hyuuga kunoichi hit the ground hard and heard Sakura shout her name in worry. However, she remained near Naruto as she tried to heal the damage that had mysteriously been done to the young man they both loved.
Hinata rolled back to her feet and focused on the two masked creatures again trying to put Naruto's condition out of her mind. The two Masked Creatures once more settled on either side of Hidan as he made sounds that bordered on pleasure and pain as he occasionally twisted the spear.
"Stop it," Sakura shouted as she felt Naruto's internal injuries worsen.
Hinata tried to focus much on her opponents much as Tsunade had drilled into Sakura and her during the three years Naruto was with Jiraiya for a moment such as now. However, now that she was experiencing the real thing, she found it much harder to focus then when it would be her batting away medicine balls thrown by the Hokage while Sakura would work on a practice dummy.
Taking a calming breath, she began to think logically as it seemed that the creatures were hesitant to attack. Figuring that it was due to her proximity to Naruto, she guessed the creatures were reluctant to fire any jutsu that could kill Naruto before Akatsuki could extract the Nine-Tails. Focusing on Hidan, she also began to suspect that the man was as tethered to his spot as she was to hers due to the symbol he had drawn on the ground. She knew that she couldn't attack the man directly, not that the two creatures flanking him would allow that anyway. But she was beginning to wonder if she did manage to knock him out of it if that would end his ability to harm Naruto through the injuries he sustained. Again she began to track the two creatures aware that any attempt to make Hidan move would only be after she dealt with them.
Confident that the two creatures wouldn't strike at Sakura from a distance as she was working over Naruto, Hinata charged forward. Hidan simply smirked as she closed the distance as his two protectors charged forward as well. The fire mask opened its shooting forth a fireball which Hinata was going to dodge until she noted that it would hit Naruto and Sakura.
Her fellow kunoichi didn't appear to be aware of it due to her focusing so hard on trying to get around whatever curse was preventing her from healing her boyfriend. Aware that the masks were in fact engaging in a game of chicken with her, she began to spin in order to use Rotation to absorb the blast. That was when the second creature which used air opened its mouth having begun to circle around her in order to fire an air bullet. The air jutsu collided with the flame one just before it hit Hinata's Rotation. The force of the blast blew the kunoichi off her feet causing her to land roughly on the ground.
"Hinata!" Sakura shouted preparing to move to aid her fellow kunoichi.
"I-I'm okay," Hinata said working herself up to all fours. "Stay with Naruto. I'll handle them." However despite how confident she sounded Hinata was beginning to fear that Naruto would once more be taken from her. Unable to see a way past Hidan's guardians and aware that the battle on the other side of the wall was going poorly she pleaded mentally, "Someone please help."
Hinata began to fear she had been more hurt by the blast then she thought when she heard, "Not all help is free. What would you be willing to give for the power to defeat your enemies?"
Hinata despite fearing that she had gone over the deep end, now that she was hearing voices along with seeing things, looked up to see that the creatures appeared still. Something that even when standing in one place they never appeared due to the writhing tendrils that made up their bodies. Having the sense that time had seemed to stop she looked back at Naruto and Sakura. She saw that whatever had affected Hidan and the creatures had also extended behind her as Sakura was unmoving with several of her falling tears paused in their decent towards Naruto's jacket.
Guessing if she wasn't crazy or delusional it wouldn't hurt to answer she replied, "I don't wish for such a thing. I just want to protect those dear to me."
Hinata head a light musical laugh come from in front of Hidan. Looking towards him still on all fours, she marveled as the woman she had noticed observing her from time to time appear as if space warped around her. She was stunned by the woman's beauty as she walked slowly towards Hinata in a flowing white kimono while holding an umbrella she twirled behind her. She had long raven black hair which complimented her almost snow white complexion. She paused in front of the Hyuuga and smiled serenely as she said, "I can't tell you how happy hearing you say that makes me."
As the woman lowered herself down without letting her knees hit the ground Hinata asked, "W-who are you?"
The woman simply answered, "You'll find out soon enough I'm sure. Your clan and I once shared a connection. But that is a matter for another time. A heart such as yours is one I have been waiting to be born to the Hyuuga for centuries. Or has it been a millennia already?"
Hinata shook her head as she said, "What do you mean? There's nothing special about me."
The woman laughed gently before saying, "That you believe that is why I have chosen you to bear my gift. Remember that it is your love for that boy which is why I have decided to bestow it upon you and you will be fine." She leaned forward and kissed Hinata on the forehead causing the Hyuuga to feel as if her whole being became supercharged.
Hinata wanted to ask what the woman had done to her but found that she was already gone. Time once more began to progress but her perception of it had changed. For one everything seemed clearer to her now able to easily she the chakra points that Hyuuga's strived to strike when using the Gentle Fist. Hinata had always struggled to see them since unlike the eyes of her cousin or sister, her vision was far weaker. To her the chakra points had always appeared out of focus. She had learned to compensate by simply using less direct strikes, as a result where Neji's were like a scalpel hers could best be described like a club. However, at the moment she could see all that and more.
Including a line of chakra on the ground that extended from where Hidan was standing all the way to Naruto. Still on her hands and knees, she reached for it and channeling chakra to her hand drew her fingers through it. For a brief moment the connection to Naruto was broken causing Hidan's skin to almost return to normal before the connection was reestablished.
As she took in her new clarity of vision, she also noticed that the strain that usually accompanied her using the Byakugan seemed to have vanished. However she pushed that to the side for the moment to focus on her opponents and quickly realized her eyesight wasn't the only thing that had improved. Her new vision also seemed to inform her of what every move the people around her were about to make just before they did. At first she was confused by it, as red auras seemed to appear from all of those present around her just before they moved. They would then be filled in as the people moved as her vision predicted. Somewhere in the back of her mind Hinata theorized that it stemmed from the Byakugan's ability to read muscle movements only it was doing so at an incredible level. She believed the red aura was her mind processing all the tiny movements of her opponent's muscles or in the creatures cases the tendrils that made them up.
Hinata got back to her feet and dropped into her Gentle Fist stance. "This again," Hidan said amused, "Give it up bitch there's no way you can touch me. Hell even if you did you'd only be hurting the bastard laying there." Turning to one of the creatures he added, "By Jashin can you fucking just kill these bitches already. I need to pray for forgiveness for not killing the nine-tail brat."
She watched as chakra gathered within the heart, just behind the mask of the creature with the fire natured chakra, which she now could see easily through the chakra that ran through the tendrils connected to it. As it prepared another fire jutsu, Hinata watched as a red aura shot from the Air masked creature just before it took off running to the side like it was angling to move against Naruto. However, Hinata believed that it was diversion to buy the fire mask time to prepare its jutsu by splitting her focus.
Finding a path through which she believed she could turn tables due to her improved vision and understanding of her enemies' abilities it afforded her. She started her counter-attack just before the Fire mask opened its mouth to let loose its jutsu. Thrusting her palm forward, she sent a vacuum palm towards the creature just as another fireball erupted from its mouth. Hitting the hardened air the projectile exploded sending the creature flying backwards and causing Hidan to raise his arm to shield his eyes from the dust and debris it kicked up.
Hinata charged forward using the dust for cover, her improved sight telling her that the Air masked creature was moving to attack Sakura now that she was no longer standing near the medic and Naruto. The Hyuuga suspected it was a feint to draw Hinata back until the Fire mask recovered, but she had other plans as her vision told her that she would reach Hidan first.
Hidan was obviously surprised by her coming at him but secure in his immortality said, "What are you going to do? Huh, bitch, anything you do to me will be transferred to the Kyuubi bastard." Still despite his words he attempted to swing at the Hyuuga. A movement that was almost painfully slow to Hinata as was all the other movements around her since she first began to attack. Hinata pivoted and pushed his arm away almost gently aware that any damage would hurt Naruto.
She then grabbed Hidan by his Akatsuki robe spinning them so that his back faced in Naruto's direction. As she did this she channeled chakra to her feet and drew a line through the symbol on the ground in a wide arc. She didn't need to see Hidan's skin return to normal as she could see the chakra link that had connected Naruto and the Akatsuki member vanish as she destroyed the symbol. She could also see that Sakura's efforts to heal Naruto's wound suddenly grew more effective.
Knowing that she was now free to harm Hidan as much as she desired to, she hit him right where he had left the spear buried in his stomach. Except she had done so not using the Gentle Fist, but another Vacuum Palm which blew a gaping hole through Hidan's torso and sent the spear flying like a projectile.
To Sakura's credit, she didn't even flinch as the spear impacted the Air masked creature in the face just as it leapt at the young woman and impaled the heart that powered it. Hidan stumbled back holding his wound in ecstasy and pain as he tried to cuss Hinata out as the Air mask thrashed about in its death throes. However, Hinata didn't give him the chance hitting him in all his remaining chakra points. She knocked him onto his back with a round house kick which broke his neck, but much as she expected he didn't die.
Confident he wouldn't be moving anytime soon, she turned towards the Fire mask, but it was already retreating. With the threat they were facing over Hinata ran towards Sakura and Naruto kneeling down next to her boyfriend. Before she could even ask, Sakura said, "He'll be okay. That psychopath knew better than to cause him any serious harm, and I believe the Kyuubi is now adding in my healing him although it doesn't seem to be helping at the moment."
Hinata breathed a sigh of relief, but felt a moment of concern when Sakura asked, "Is your Byakugan still active?"
Hinata, having forgotten to deactivate her bloodline ability as she didn't feel the usual strain that all Hyuuga did from using it simply nodded as she asked, "Why?"
"The veins around your eyes are gone and… it's almost like your eyes are glowing with an internal soft white light. Are you okay?"
Hinata reached up and touched near her eye to feel that much as Sakura described that the veins that appeared when the Byakugan was active were indeed not raised. Figuring that was why the strain on her eyes was also gone she nodded as she replied, "I'm fine…"
"But for how long you stupid bitch," Hidan said cutting in.
"You've only delayed your deaths and his. You can't kill me and eventually I'll get loose from whatever prison or hole you bury me in and when I do. I'm going to kill you both nice and slow. But only after I fucking help seal the Kyuubi away and deliver you his stiff corpse."
Both kunoichi gazes turned to ice as they shifted to the down Akatsuki member. Sakura stood, closing the distance with Hidan who unaware of the danger of pissing her off further added, "Oh, what the fuck do you think you can do bitch? I'm fucking immor…"Hidan never finished his sentence as Sakura's fist slammed down into his face and unleashing the chakra she had gathered created a small but very deep crater.
Hinata deactivated her Byakugan and although she couldn't see it, the soft light that Sakura had mentioned faded. As the dust settled Hinata had a hard time believing that Hidan would ever carry out his threat as although the portion of his chest sticking out of the crater which she could see was still moving somehow as if breathing, the fact that his head once resided at the center of the hole that Sakura's fury had created, left little doubt in her mind that the intelligence behind the immortal Hidan was no more.
Kakuzu, hated to admit it but the youngsters he faced were going to carry the day. He had felt one of his hearts die on the other side of the wall that the cheap copy of The First Hokage had erected to prevent Hidan and him from working together. Promising to kick Hidan's ass later as finding suitable replacements could be a pain especially for the rarer chakra natures like wind, he had his Lightning heart run interference for him so he could "look" in on his partner. He chuckled slightly as his Fire heart watched from a safe distance as the pink haired kunoichi obliterated Hidan's head with a punch. "I should have thought of that," he thought before willing his Fire heart to pull back further.
Calling his Lightning heart back to him, he had his body transform into its long range from in order to keep the Leaf shinobi at bay. His mask then opened its mouth and fired a jutsu at the earth in front of his opponents and then used the dust to cover his escape. As he ran, it brought back the memories of the only other time he had needed to flee which was after his defeat by the First Hokage. He was surprised his current need to flee stung almost as much now as it had then although it was tempered somewhat by his attitude that money was no good to him dead. However, he vowed that in the future should he encounter the Leaf again he would only leave the battlefield after collecting the hearts of those he faced.
Kakashi watched as A tried to hold back tears as he talked with Yugito his relief that she was alive plain to see. It left the Leaf-nin with the impression the man tended to let his emotions get the best of him. But Kakashi was aware that it could be a double-edge sword as his anger was likely just as quick to arise. That the man had actually crushed the young woman to his chest upon seeing her also left Kakashi with the impression he was prone to actions without thinking through the consequences of them. His reckless charge to the border in pursuit of Yugito could have erupted in hostilities between Cloud and Leaf if not for the ground work done by Naruto and Jiraiya.
"I'm sorry for letting you down Lord Raikage," Yugito said for the thousandth time.
"Stop feeling like you've let me done," A said looking like a dotting if severe looking Grandfather, "You did well enough in eluding capture when things turned against you."
Kakashi eye smiled at the scene as the woman nodded although she kept her eyes glued to the sheets of the cot she was resting on in the medical tent of the base camp the Leaf had established. Figuring to give the two of them some privacy, he walked out after nodding to Shizune followed by Darui. Kakashi looked back at the man who said, "I hope you don't mind if I tag along. I'd like to know what's going on out there too."
Kakashi nodded as he headed towards the main tent. Holding the flap for his Cloud counterpart, he stepped in after him and said, "Have all the teams reported in yet?"
"Not, yet sir," a Leaf chunin replied, "The only team we've yet to hear from is the team searching grid fourteen-B. Considering this team was closest to the team that located the two-taile…"
"Her name is Yugito," Kakashi said a bit more harshly then he intended as he cut the man off. It was partly a result of his dislike for the term jinchuriki since it did serve to dehumanize those it was applied to, but it also stemmed from the sudden concern he felt upon hearing the team that had yet to check in was his.
Something Darui picked up on as he asked, "Problem?"
"The team that has yet to check in is mine," Kakashi replied wondering if they had saved Yugito only to lose Naruto.
"I see," Darui said, "Are there any other teams in the area? It would be problematic…"
Darui trailed off as he tried to come up with some way to phrase his point while affording Naruto the same respect that Kakashi had paid Yugito. Kakashi put the man's mind at ease as he failed to come up with something as the Leaf Jounin said, "You can say it. It would be problematic if we saved one jinchuriki at the expense of another. It is a sad way of putting it, but sadly that is the reality of the situation and to answer your question, no there are not. Our plan was that whoever found Yugito was to signal it and then retreat here with all haste. The other search teams would begin a more controlled pullback in effect closing the gap the team with Yugito created while also shielding them from pursing Akatsuki."
Darui nodded as he looked at the map of the area and said, "A clever strategy this would also plug the gap created by a team engaging Akatsuki as well. But it has the unfortunate consequence of…"
"Leaving that team alone against a pair of S-ranked shinobi," Kakashi said. "Yeah, but protecting Yugito was our primary mission."
"To which you have Kumo's gratitude," Darui said sincerely. "But with that strategy why would you put Naruto at risk."
Despite the situation Kakashi chuckled as he answered, "Because trying to stop him from going to help would have been too much of a pain."
A genin burst into the tent holding a scroll as he shouted, "Kakashi sir, I have a message from your team."
Kakashi took the scroll and could tell that it had been blank only moments before as the ink had not dried so attribute to Sai. Reading over the report he said, "Well my team is safe although Naruto was injured by the same ability Yugito described."
"What of Akatsuki?" Darui asked.
"It says the one named Kakuzu has fled and that… well they sort of captured the other one."
Darui looked at him confused so he handed the man the scroll so he could read the details. Finding it hard to believe that a decapitated body could still be considered alive he noted, "It appears that this Kakuzu is fleeing back towards Cloud."
"Then that is where he chooses to die," the Raikage said having noticed the genin running through the camp. "Darui prepare Yugito for travel and we'll catch up with this Kakuzu to end the threat he poses permanently."
"You're not going anywhere with my patient," Shizune said pushing past the Raikage. Ignoring the incredulous looks she was receiving she asked, "What about Naruto? Is he on his way here?"
"No," Kakashi said, "Sakura has decided to take him back to the village."
"Good, she's likely reasoned that there is little more that can be done out in the field."
"Excuse me," A said getting over his shock at someone telling him no, "But who are you to tell me what I can and cannot do with my shinobi?"
"Her attending physician," the normally reserved Shizune said calmly and coolly, "Yugito has just spent a week being run to mental and physical exhaustion. If you think I'm going to release her before she has had time to heal then you have another thing coming."
Seeing the Raikage's quick temper flaring, Kakashi having noted a peculiarity in what his girlfriend had said asked, "What do you mean little that Sakura could do in the field?"
Shizune turned from the Raikage to say, "Whatever this ability that Hidan possessed is, it seems to have circumvented the quick healing abilities that all jinchuriki possess. Even now that it has ended the wound is not healing at the rate I would expect. It seems that this time around Naruto is going to have learn patience as he recovers." Turning back to Kumo's village leader she added, "I can tell you Yugito although she appears okay is also still quite heavily injured internally. A hasty return to Kumo could aggravate her injuries further."
"What are you proposing then? That Yugito return to Konohagakure with you."
Shizune nodded as she explained, "You have brought some medics with you. But none of them have the equipment to keep Yugito stable especially for a journey in which you hope to catch up with her attacker."
"I didn't intend for her to accompany that force," A said somewhat defensively, "Although splitting my forces would be unwise considering this man's strength. Very well, Yugito may travel to Konoha with you."
"That was never in doubt," Shizune said walking past the Raikage to prepare her patient for travel.
"Is she always like that, or was it just me," A said looking over his shoulder at Kakashi.
The Leaf jounin chuckled as he replied, "Don't take it personally. It's something she picked up from her master. They don't give up their patients until they are certain that they are healed."
A chuckled but then grew serious as he ordered, "Darui send word to our shinobi to be ready to leave in five minutes." The Kumo jounin bowed before leaving the tent to fulfill his orders. A moved to follow, but stopped as he said, "I'll be coming to Konoha personally to collect Yugito when your doctor feels it is time. I would appreciate it if you could arrange for both the Kazekage and the Mizukage to be in the village as well."
Kakashi's visible eye grew wide as he asked, "Are you going to convene a Council of Kages? I doubt the Tsuchikage will respond though."
"Perhaps, but while that old man is stubborn even he would admit that it is foolish to ignore the movement of the other kages. No, he'll come if for no other reason than to learn what the rest of us are up too."
"Still wouldn't a neutral site be a better choice of venue?"
"Perhaps a more comfortable one for some," A admitted. "But if we are going to deal with Akatsuki then it is time that we move outside our comfort zones. These bastards attack, only to retreat in order to pop up in another country to further their plan. They can do this because there is no concentrated effort among the great shinobi villages to stop them. They even use our distrust of each other to help aid them in their escapes as they did here. The best way to deal with them is to perhaps learn from them."
"What do you mean?"
"Akatsuki is successful because it draws on the experience of dangerous men which hail from the different shinobi villages. How much more dangerous could a force hunting them be if it is based on the same model?"
A stepped out of the tent leaving Kakashi to wonder if Akatsuki had any idea of what its actions may have inadvertently caused to happen. Despite his knowing they were likely still a long way from a potential truce, a small part of him felt a measure of hope. Although it was still tempered by a hollow feeling that if Akatsuki had accounted for such a thing what was it that they had up their sleeve to make them confident enough to take on the whole shinobi world.