AN: I'm so sorry for the wait! Life has just kind of exploded in my face (in a good way, I mean, read: I've been incredibly busy.) I hope you guys like this chapter.

Kin'iro no Kitsune: Fox of Gold, Golden Fox.


Chapter Five: Floccinaucinihilipilification

Kakashi swore to himself, running into the house. Flying past Tsunami, he ran up the stairs to his pack and haphazardly started throwing scrolls and knife pouches into his belt. After deciding that he had enough, he ran back to the stairs, swerving to avoid a collision with a returning Tazuna.

"Where are you going?"

"One of my students is in trouble!"

Just as Kakashi was running into the house, Zabuza and Haku were running into the yard.

Sakura drew a kunai, getting into her taijutsu stance. "What have you done with him?"

"I'm not here for a fight!" Zabuza held up both hands. "Kitsune got himself caught, and we don't have much time!"

"Damn straight you don't!" Sakura snarled. "Tell me where he is!"

"You don't listen, do you?" The former mist-nin retorted. "I'm on your side, and I have the seal to prove it!"

"Why should I believe you? You almost killed our sensei!" She accused, preparing to throw. "Give him back!"

"Use you head!" Zabuza snapped, finishing a seal sequence before the genin could stop him. "You think that Kitsune would've just waited around and let your Sensei get trashed? And why would've I bothered with you brats if I had Hatake somewhere that I could kill him, unless I was waiting for the stupid little prodigy to do something that would save all of our covers?" Sure enough, on his arm, shining like a beacon, was a blue Konoha emblem, directly above an ANBU tattoo.

By that time, Kakashi had made it back into the yard. He pulled Sasuke, who had entered into a rather one sided fight with Haku, back by his collar, depositing him on the steps. "You say he was captured. By who and when?"

"About the moment the blonde brat's bushin dispelled, and by two of the Akatsuki." Zabuza replied. "You and I could probably take on one of them evenly enough to get us all out alive."

Kakashi nodded, releasing Sasuke's collar once he was sure that the Uchiha wasn't going to resume his attack on the false hunter-nin. "How much time do we have?"

"None." Zabuza replied with harsh grin. "But get as ready as you can in five minutes. And bring a tanto, if you still carry one."

Kakashi sprinted back into the house. Sasuke brooded on the steps, glaring at the new comers with obvious distrust.

Sakura wandered hesitantly over to the legendary swordsman. "Ano, Zabuza-san?"

He raised a nonexistent eyebrow.

"How do you know Kitsune-kun? I though you were a nuke-nin from mist."

He barked out a laugh. "All good shinobi know the slimy bastard's name. Kin'iro no Kitsune. Your boyfriend is one hell of a dangerous gaki, bubblegum. But," His gaze softened as he glanced over at Haku politely trying to engage an unwilling Sasuke in conversation. "The brat saved Haku from some mist-nin a while back. He… changed my mind about some things, and gave Haku and I a place in Konoha."

"Souka." Sakura nodded, smiling a bit as she too glanced over at the pair. "That seems like something that he would do."

The pair stood in silence until Sakura mustered up enough courage too ask her original question. "Zabuza-san?"

"Hn?"

"Naruto is really Kitsune, isn't he?"

The double agent was spared from answering as Kakashi landed in front of them, fully equipped. "Sakura, Sasuke, stay here and guard Tazuna."

Zabuza's instructions ran along a similar vein. "Haku, stay here and make sure that these two don't get pummeled if someone along. Whip up some medicine for us if you get restless, but stay near the old man."

"Demo, Zabuza-sama!" The apprentice protested. "I can fight!"

"They aren't your level, gaki. They're Kitsune's league. You'd get crushed. You're better off here. Besides," He grinned. "Don't you trust your Sensei? I promise that we'll bring him back in one piece. Mostly. He still owes me for that crate thing. Stay here, Haku." With one last encouraging clap on Haku's shoulder, he and Kakashi disappeared.

Sakura kicked the dirt. Zabuza hadn't answered her question, but the way he had turned away was confirmation enough. "It doesn't make sense…" She muttered morosely.

"Che." The Uchiha scoffed." It makes perfect sense. The dobe decided to tag along after the ANBU and got himself mixed up in trouble like an idiot."

Sakura didn't seem to hear him. "Why would he do that … hide like that … lie to me… and now he's in trouble." She finished miserably, sitting on the ground and hugging her knees. She stared hollowly at the dirt, and ran her fingers through her hair. As her fingers met the short ends, she seemed to come to some sort of decision, for she leapt to her feet. "I don't care what Sensei says! We're going after him!"

Sasuke frowned, rising to his feet and blocking her path. "What's gotten into you? It's the baka's own fault that he's in whatever trouble he's in, and if he," he jabbed a finger at Haku. "Isn't strong enough, than you aren't. And I'm not going anywhere."

She stared at him in shock, before angrily shoving him away and stepping forward. She looked down on him angrily, shocked and sitting in the dirt. "I don't care if I'm not strong enough! He's my friend, and our teammate, and I'm going to help! Do you know what I think?" She didn't wait for a response. "You're just a selfish coward. You're never going to get stronger if you keep fighting for the wrong reasons. If you won't help me, than I'll just go alone. Sayonara, Sasuke-ku-" She cut herself off. "No, Sasuke-san."

Sakura continued forward, resisting the urge to look back. She knew that she had probably blown any small chance that she had with Sasuke, but that didn't matter, not anymore. She knew that Kitsune, Naruto, whatever he chose to call himself, had lied to her, but that didn't matter. She knew that she could die, but even that didn't really matter. Naruto was her friend, and being a shinobi meant protecting what you cared about; he had taught her that. Kitsune had said that she was strong enough, so she would be.

"You won't be going alone, Sakura-san," Haku offered her the supplies she forgot in anger. "Because I'm going with you. He's one of my friends as well."

"Matte, matte." Tazuna called. "What about Gato?"

"Sasuke-ku-san," Sakura stumbled over the honorific. "Can protect you. He's staying."

"Besides," Haku added sheepishly. "Once Zabuza-sama realized that our cover was no longer needed, he … exacted some rather… vicious retribution. Gato.. will no longer be a threat to you."

"Ah, Souka." Tazuna scratched the back of his head. "Well, thank you, I guess. Yell at your friend for me when you find him."

"Shannaro!"

With that final parting elegance, Haku and Sakura raced off after their Sensei.

OoOoOoOoOoO

Sweat beaded down Naruto's face as he dodged another combined attack. Working together, Sasori and Orochiamru were a formidable pair. He sent out a clone to distract them as he used one of his wounds to paint an intricate sealing matrix on the floor. As many of the kunai as he could manage got the same treatment.

His injuries were bleeding freely. Earlier on in the fight, Orochimaru had gotten one of his summons to bite the ANBU, and it had messed with the seal on his stomach, completely blocking him from accessing Kyuubi's chakra. Of course, Naruto had blown it up so viciously that all of the summons, from Manda to the smallest garter snake had refused to fight, but it was still a rather major blow.

"Come out, come out, ANBU-kun." Orochimaru's serpentine voice called from around the corner. Naruto switched places with one of his clones hiding in the walls, suppressing all his chakra so that the nuke-nin wouldn't notice.

As soon as Orochimaru's mud clone stepped onto the still drying Kanji, they flared up, bright blue, before the sennin's clone was detonated and seals spiraled up the original's body, spreading and twisting like vines of ink.

Kitsune smirked, dodging to avoid the swirling iron sand of one of Sasori's many puppets. 'Score! How do you like having your chakra sealed, you perverse jososhumisha?"

Orochimaru seethed in displeasure. A minor setback, as there was no way that the ANBU would make it out alive, There was still Sasori left for him to deal with, and Orochimaru had sent the sound five out to deal with little Zabuza and his brat, so there would be no help from them. Still… "Be careful, puppeteer, the little brat is a seal master. An annoying maggot, just like his father."

He cursed his own hubris. He had thought the clone expendable, but the ANBU had exploited t he chakra link between clone and creator. He drew out Kusanagi. The brat would pay.

Naruto groaned at Orochimaru's expression of utter sadism, mindlessly dodging and destroying puppets. There seemed to be a never ending flow of them, as the puppeteer was hidden underground somewhere and seemed to be able to produce the wooden weapons at will. Luckily, the Akatsuki member couldn't release anything truly devastating, like poison gas, because then he would off his partner as well. 'Great, he's got a mythical sword, and he looks pissed.'

The sennin's first stroke came down hard and fast, and the boy was hard pressed to parry it with his own ninja-to. He tried leaping up onto the walls, but apparently Orochimaru had used his own blood to partially override the seals, so a small amount of charka steadily leaked through. Not enough to form jutsu, but ('As always.' Kitsune thought wryly. 'Why can nothing ever work?') just enough to be a problem.

OoOoOoOoOoO

"Are you sure?" Zabuza asked, staring doubtfully down at the dusty warehouse floor.

The copy-nin shrugged. "My nin-dogs never lie, and they say that below this floor reeks of snake, woods, death, and Naruto."

"Damn." Zabuza stared. "Shall I?"

"Allow me." Kakashi grinned darkly. The sound of chirping birds filled the air.

the combatants barely looked up as parts of the ceiling came crumbling down. Kitsune noted with glee, however, that many of Sasori's puppets had been smashed by the rubble.

"Need some help, gaki?" His grin widened as he identified Zabuza'a deep voice, and Kakashi's amused snort.

"That would be nice." He confessed, somehow managing to leap up to the pair. He thankfully accepted the soldier pill that Kakashi handed to him. Technically, since he had already taken one, after the tunnel, he was overdosing, but he didn't really care. Kyuubi could heal any of the toxins running through his system, provide they both lived through what he had in mind.

"Do you think that the two of you can handle the Hebi-teme with the sword?" Kitsune challenged.

Zabuza grinned wickedly and Kakashi cocked a disdainful eyebrow.

The captain's voice turned serious. "Do you think that you can finish him without help?"

Zabuza and Kakashi traded a glance, a nod, unstrapped their respective weapon, and jumped down into melee.

OoOoOoOoO

The large shinobi peered down the hole in the rubble.

"So, is it them?" His female teammate asked impatiently.

Giant sword. Red eye. "Yeah, it is."

"Kuso!" The third shinobi, lanky, spidery looking, swore. "Orochimaru-sama is going to kill us!"

"Not if we kill our targets first." The last two shinobi said in perfect unison, raising their kunai up to throw. Just before they released, they were distracted by a small cry

"Sensei!" An leaf genin with long pink hair whimpered, tears streaming down her face. "Please, don't kill him!"

"Why wouldn't we?" Jirobo laughed. "You and your sensei are going to die like the trash that you are."

All the group shared a collective smirk. They were so caught up in the genjutsu that they never noticed the five sebon that ended their lives.

"Not," Haku commented quietly, jumping nimbly out of a tree as Sakura released her genjustu. "If we kill you first."

OoOoOoOoO

Kakashi ducked, lashing out with his foot and left Zabuza to cover the counter attack, thought the Sharingan user (and the fiery tomoe was in full blaze) was grateful that Orochimaru couldn't use any jutsu (courtesy of Naruto, if the seals spiraling around the sennin's body were anything to go by), a sword wielding Orochimaru was almost as bad as one with jutsu. There was no time for hand seals; the tanto and sword were constantly occupied.

Zabuza rolled, twisting the ridiculously large sword, one-handed, to change directing in a deadly path toward the snake summoner's neck.

Kakashi took the opening, stabbing as far as he could into Ororchimaru's stomach. The sennin hissed like the snake that he was, and leaned forward to bite the jounin's neck. Executing a well time roll of his own, the Hatake switched places with the demon of the mist. He jerked his head toward the corner that they were drifting toward in question, and the ex-mist nin nodded back.

OoOoOoOoOoO

Naruto leapt agilely around the room, destroying puppet after puppet. On each charka string snapped, a trace of his own was placed. It wasn't parasitic, destructive, or even modified in any way; it was just there, and Kitsune hoped that alone would be enough to make Sasori overlook it.

OoOoOoOoOoO

Parry, spin, block, kick. Dang it! Haku's symbol meant this hallway should have been clear. Why couldn't the stupid jerk follow the directions of his creepy superiors. Opening, opening, where is an open- there!

Sakura grunted as she took down the shinobi, placing a small tag of paper on the wall of the narrow passageway. She panted, pausing for a moment. Only five more tags left to place.

Mustering her strength, she sped as quietly as she could down the dim corridor.

OoOoOoOoO

"You!" The silver haired shinobi barked. "Orochimaru-sama wants everyone to congregate in the fifth chamber, no ecceptions, disobedience on pain of death! Tell everyone you see!"

"Y-yes, Sakon-sama." The shinboi stuttered.

"I'm not Sakon." The teenager's bruised turquoise lips twisted into a strange smile.

"Greatest apologies, Ukon –sama!" The man speeds away as quickly as he can, unnerved, and also not wanting to be late. When Orochimaru-sama meant death, he meant it in the most grisly and drawn out sense of the word.

"No, I am sorry to you." It was Haku, smile turned slightly sadder, who breezed effortlessly down the corridor in the other direction.

OoOoOoO

Sakura stood, leaning nonchalantly on the door of the conference room, henged into the red haired girl she had seen before. She hoped that Haku would arrive soon. She didn't have the chakra capacity to keep up a full-body henge for any length of time, and if her cover fell… that didn't bear thinking about.

"Tayuya." Haku greeted.

"Ukon." She returned. "Is everyone here? I'm not getting the heat from Orochimaru-sama if they aren't."

"Everyone I could sense." He replied.

"Good." She turned to the group at large. "All of you, stay in here until Orochimaru-sama arrives. We're under siege and he doesn't want your worthless hides getting captured and blabbing, understood."

"If we're being attacked, shouldn't we be fighting?" Someone from the crowd shouted.

"Fool!" She hissed. "They are worthless jounin, nothing Orochimaru-sama cannot handle. You dare to underestimate your leader, trash? I'll inform him that he should have as much fun toying with you as he is with the invading imbeciles who dared to think him weak."

The man gulped, and backed down. There were no further protests.

The angry girl closed the door, laying a thin paper strip of intricate kanji on the door frame. She applied he chakra, and a flash of blue seeped into the stone, disappearing completely. She could hear the angry shouts from inside, but all the shinobi were trapped inside.

She dropped her henge with a relieved sigh, and turned to grin at her partner.

OoOoOoOoO

Kitsune glanced over at Kakashi and Zabuza. They had backed Orochimaru into a corner, and Zabuza had him trapped in a water dome. Kakashi's tanto had lines or electrically charged chakra running down it, chirping like birds.

'Chidori.' Naruto smiled. 'I guess it's time, then.'

Unknown to most parties, traitorous puppet master included, Naruto had fought Sasori once before. He had been visiting Gaara in Suna (against the Kazekage's express orders, but who really cared about what he thought?) on the night of the defection, and donning his mask, had joined Chiyo-obaa-sama in the confrontation of her grandson.

Kitsune had kept to the shadows, delivering crippling blows while the elder puppeteer had kept Sasori distracted . it had worked all to well; by the end, Sasori lay in pieces on the ground, a d the grieving elder and her escort turned away to head back to the village.

The only looked back in time to see th last piece of Sasori, his heart, return to his wooden body, before he disappeared with a laugh.

It was for this reason that Kitsune was lucky enough to know Sasori's weakness. If you couldn't destroy the body, destroy the only part that kept it going.

Kitsune's chakra sped out in string of his own, connecting up with the traces on Sasori's, and coiling around them.

'Get ready, Kyuu-chan, 'cause this is gonna hurt like a bitch.'

With that, the captain focused all his energy. Biting back a scream, the ANBU drew the demonic chakra through Orochimaru's seal, and sent it spiraling down his strings and onto Sasori's. The Akatsuki tried to pull away, but it was too late; the Kyuubi's chakra had already entered his system. Naruto clenched his teeth against the white-hot burning pain of manually overriding the seal. He kept going, pumping waves and waves of demonic chakra into Sasori, racing through the puppet's chakra pathways, through his coils, and into his heart. Finally, he heard the 'pop' and felt the other's chakra vanish.

The agony overtook him then, and he let out one long scream before allowing the darkness to take him.


All of you should be very thank Border's bookstore for this chapter, and the fact that they sell Random House's Japanse English Dictionary (thank my mother as well, because she insisted on buying it for me). Since I am a geek who actually reads dictionaries, especially of foreign languages (though the english one is delicious too) my muse was inevitably sparked. You must admit, having resourses that allow you (or Naruto) to call Orochimaru a transvestite in his own language is undoubtably awesome. Review? Please? For Borders, and my Mother, at least, if you're one of the many that hate my guts for not posting in forever ?