First off, I would like to apologize for the lack of updating... I am sorry. Secondly, I hope you all enjoy the new chapter! Thank you all for staying and putting up with such a writer and being so patient! Thank you, Really. You guys are really great!
The rain had yet to let up as Sakura jumped down from the tree, landing with a light squishy thump. Standing at the base of the tree was an equally wet Uchiha. His hair had drooped under the heavy pelting rain, making him lose the usual hairstyle of his. He had clearly been fruitless in his search as well. Sakura could not help but give a soft sigh of annoyance. Having been searching for her missing teammate for the past two hours, she was quite drenched and cold. Neither of the two were any mood boosters. Yet there was not a sign of the blond genin anywhere. She could not help but curse at the blonde's adeptness at hiding. She was definitely sure that he knew of their search for him.
"Have you found any signs of him?" asked Sasuke, a scowl on his face as he once again pushed a stray clump of hair from his eyes. His search had gone very poorly to say the least. For all his skills in tracking, there was little he could do in such deplorable weather. Adding to the fact that they were searching for an even more elusive target than normal, made it all the more tedious. It was Naruto, the blonde practically invented hiding.
Sakura shook her head, "No. He still isn't responding and he's also suppressing Kyubbi's link. I can't find him without that. There's no way for us to get to him."
"Damn that idiot," muttered the black haired genin in irritation.
Sakura was inclined to agree with her companion's comment. Usually, when Naruto went into one of his little fits, they would be able to track him down through Kyubbi mainly because the fox did not want to deal with his container's sulking. In fact, there were moments where the fox literally ordered the two come to their teammate, much to Naruto's annoyance. But even without the fox's tattling, the Kyubbi's link would always lead them to him, in the end. Naruto did not have nearly as much chakra as the fox had to suppress the dominant link.
However, this time, it was a different matter. The blonde had complete success in overpowering the link. It probably wasn't much of a feat considering the fact that Kyubbi was still trying to recover the chakra that he had used to get them to where they were.
"We might as well go back," said the Uchiha with a moody glare, "The chances that we find him are close to zero."
It wasn't that he didn't want to keep searching; he was just not keen on spending the night out in the rain doing so. If they had more supplies with them he would not have minded humoring his pink haired partner and staying. But, being that they had left most of their belongings in the house, they could only get so far. If the idiot didn't want to be found, so be it.
Sakura rolled her eyes, "So we're just leaving him here?" asked the girl in mild disbelief. They had barely been out for more than a couple hours. She was surprised by the male's reluctance since it was he that always found the blonde in the end.
"Worse comes to worst, the idiot can spend the night out in the cold," said Sasuke with a raised brow, "Maybe the rain will wash the stupidity out of him."
Sakura shook her head in amusement, "But we're pretty deep in the forest. It seems a shame to stop now." They were already this far in, there was no way she was going to go back empty handed. Frankly, she was getting pretty cold and the thought of taking a warm shower was sounding more and more appealing, "Let's split up. One more hour, we meet back at the house."
Before the other had time to protest, Sakura disappeared into forest. Sasuke glared at the empty space that was once the pinked haired girl before going to the opposite direction. Damn that girl.
Meanwhile, the source of the problem was busy trying to dislodge him-self from the wreckage that he had created; accidentally, mind you. The cause of the destruction was due to the explosion of an unstable Rasengan. He had been so lost in thought that the unfinished technique that he had been toying with dispersed and sent him flying. He landed back first into the foot of the mountain, creating a human size crater around him. Muddy pieces of rubble went showering all over the poor blonde clinging to his self like feathers on tar.
It didn't help that he could hear a rather maniacal laughter erupt from the demon fox who had been anticipating the spectacle for a while, 'Smart move, gaki. You are the epitome of genius,' cackled the fox in amusement, 'I commend you.'
Naruto let out a small growl, 'Shut up, you stupid fox.' He tried, with no apparent success, to get the mud off. The only thing he accomplished was smudging the wet dirt even more.
The fox watched the spectacle in amusement, 'I'm not the one screwing around with a ball of chakra, brat,' replied the fox with another cackle, 'Then again you're the only one I know of that would try to.'
"Very funny f-," Naruto frowned as he a familiar chakra signal approach closer. He could not help but curse at his luck. "How is it that they always find me? I even blocked your stupid link this time!"
'Well, maybe they wouldn't have found you if you'd paid attention to your stupid technique,' pointed out the fox, with a condescending smirk, thoroughly enjoying his container's ire. The blonde opted to ignore the fox's taunt, instead turning his attention towards the arrival behind him.
"Why are you here?" asked the blonde sharply as he flicked off remnant pebbles, giving up on the mud. He did not bother turning towards him or moving away as the male approached him, "I'm fine."
"Of course I would end up finding you," The Uchiha gave a sigh in exasperation, "Just my luck."
Naruto gave a small growl of irritation, "Then leave," replied the blonde coldly. Sasuke scoffed, making no move to depart and not at all affected by the threat in the blonde's voice, "Are you done moping?"
"I was not moping," growled the blonde with an icy blue glare. He was now facing the raven haired genin, "You guys should have just stayed back at the house."
Sasuke raised a brow, ignoring the blonde's comment in favor of something else he had noticed, "Good to know that I can sense Kyubbi now."
Indeed, the blonde had released the suppressed link, as it had lost its purpose. He should have known that it would have been useless. It was inevitable that they would find him. A barely suppressed guffaw rang through their minds, 'Clearly, kit,' said the fox with an amused grin, resting its head on its front paws, 'Sometimes, I wonder at why you bother to even try.'
Sasuke shook his head in exasperation, before changing the topic to something more relevant, "You are free to go back."
Naruto grimaced, turning away from his companion, "I don't want to."
"Kakashi went to talk to Inari before we left," supplied the Uchiha with a raised brow, "I'm sure he'll convince the boy like he did the first time."
Naruto gave an uncertain frown, "But what if he doesn't? What if I went too far this time-!" The blonde gave a small yelp of surprise as he was sent sprawling back onto the wet ground.
When he looked up he could see the Uchiha looking down at him with a smirk. Naruto gave an indignant yell, "What was that for?"
Sasuke gave a small shrug, blatantly ignoring the hostility in Naruto's tone. "I had hoped that the rain would have washed some of your stupidity away but I guess that was too much to hope for," muttered the Uchiha in a clipped tone, "Maybe if you stay down a bit longer, you'll regain some sense."
Naruto glared at the Uchiha before getting up with a small huff, not bothering to come up with a comeback. He was not going to be baited by the stupid Uchiha. The fox watched in amusement, before adding his own two cents, 'At least that kit is smart enough to know he was wrong, gaki.'
Naruto sighed, "I know, but sometimes, I can't help but feel that I should have done something else."
Sasuke shook his head in exasperation. Usually, he would have just let the idiot blonds' rants run their course. However, their current location was not the most ideal of settings and he was completely drenched, tired, and dirty. There was a limit to how patient he was going to be.
"The kid isn't a fool like you, Naruto."
"Are you trying to start a fight with me?" asked Naruto testily, glaring at the Uchiha, who actually did look like he was tempted to do just that. The fox, seeing where this was going decided it was high time he took a long nap, promptly shutting himself from the beginnings of a fight.
In another area of the forest, Sakura was inwardly cursing her choice of direction. Somehow, she had managed to discover Zabuza's personal hideout as well as the man behind all of the village's misfortune, Gato. Said man seemed to have brought a group of what looked to be hire-hands. Each looked threatening in his own respect however, though Sakura knew otherwise. These kinds of men were ones that just dressed tough. If anything, these men were third rate, at best. A typical high genin or low Chunin could probably dispatch them with a little bit of effort. There was perhaps one or two that even looked remotely challenging to the pink haired girl.
The temptation to just eliminate the ringleader was a bit too tempting to dismiss. Grant, she highly doubted that Zabuza and his men would take to it kindly if she killed their source of income. In the end, she had just opted to hide and observe the men.
"Why didn't you kill him?" shouted a short bushy haired man, "I thought I told you to eliminate that old bastard!" The man was clearly unhappy with the results of the work that was left undone. The target was an eyesore to Gato's rulings and he wanted it gone.
Zabuza, who was leaning against the door of his temporary abode, looked anything but cowed at the man's anger. In fact, the swordsman looked like he was ready to fall asleep at any moment's notice. Sakura would have giggled if she knew she wouldn't be heard by the grumpy ninja. As much as she wanted to try a round with the ninja, she was still tired from the training and it was not the most ideal conditions either.
It was clear that Zabuza did not care for the man's authority. In front of the nuke-ninja, stood Haku and surprisingly, the Demon Brothers. The two brothers had weapons posed to attack if necessary. However, like their leader, there was no sign of wariness to the mass. One of the Demon brothers even had the audacity to yawn, rather loudly too. That struck a nerve as Gato took notice. "Are any of you taking this seriously?" shouted the man, louder than volume of his shout, if that were possible, "I pay you fools!"
"Yah, old man, I got what you said," said Zabuza, finally moving from his spot, a hint of annoyance in the man's tone. "It will be done, tomorrow."
There was an uneasy shift in the group at the movement of the ninja; many nervously holding onto their respective weapons, just in case. Whether or not Gato noticed, it was clear to the hired mercenaries that the demon swordsman was quickly losing patience. The man only glared at the swordsman once more before turning to leave. "If it is not done before noon, I am cutting your payment to a half."
The samurai followed Gato, many looking back more than once at the unmoving figures of the missing nin. Once the group disappeared, Zabuza turned back into the temporary dwelling, "This is a pathetic waste of our time," muttered the man with a scoff, "I rather try my hand at challenging that copy nin."
Haku, who had taken off his mask, gave a small smile, "We can always eliminate him."
"That's what Gozu wanted to do in the first place," muttered one of the Demon brothers, a peeved look on his face, "This old man is senile."
Gozu, who had been fiddling with the gauntlet in his right hand, nodded in agreement, "He's has the brain of a chicken."
"What about the Konoha nins?" asked Haku suddenly, a slight frown on his face, "How are your injuries?"
"I am fine, Haku," said Zabuza, moving inside of the house, "Didn't you say that you had something to say about those Leaf nins?"
Haku was quiet for a moment before shaking his head, "It was not relevant," said the long haired nin, following his mentor into the building, "I'm sure that the Leaf nin was just trying to gain an advantage over me…"
The rest of the conversation was muffled as the all of them slipped back into the house. Sakura waited a good few minutes before moving away from her hiding place and retreated back into the forest. Heading towards the general direction, Sakura once again attempted to reach through her link, only this time she was blocked by not one, but both of her companions. That could only mean two things; Sasuke had found the blonde and somehow they were fighting… again. She bit back an explicative that she had learned from Kiba, before nudging the fox's connection and entering the open cell.
"Kyu?" called Sakura tentatively. She was met with a grouchy growl.
'I'm trying to sleep, pinky,' muttered the Kyuubi, one eye opened to glare down at the girl, 'Are you planning to stop them?'
Sakura arched a brow, before shaking her head, "I'm heading back to the house, they can play all they want," she answered airily, "But once they're done, can you tell them to get an idea of what they want to do with Zabuza and his group?"
The Kyuubi snorted, 'By the time they'll listen, it'll be the next day.'
"I need to check on Inari and Kakashi-Sensei. Someone needs to tell them that we're fine," reasoned Sakura, glaring at the fox, "You're not even doing anything."
When there was no answer, Sakura rolled her eyes in exasperation before leaving the fox. "They plan to attack tomorrow."
Morning was slow in its arrival. The rain from the night had been heavy and long but the sun, shining down; brought everything out into view. Trees and plants glistened with dew drops and birds chirps rang through the air. Enjoying this quiet scenery was none other than Haku. He had much to mull over and things got to the point where a long walk was something much appreciated. Last night's rain had been rather sudden but refreshing. The whole world seemed to have been revitalized. He loved it when it was like this.
Haku walked deeper into the forest, making turns here and there. It was a pass time of his to walk and observe nature and he would always be the first of the group to get the scope of the grounds. It also helped that he wasn't near that wretched person, Gato. He grit his teeth in anger at the thought of Gato and his treacherous ways. It was men like him that he despised working with the most. They had no sense of honor nor did they respect the quality and skill of those they hired.
He let out a small sigh as he continued to walk through the forest, occasionally picking some plants that he needed to restock on. His thoughts ran back to what the leaf ninja that had told him. Try as he might, he just could not forget the blonde's offer. He spoke as if he knew, as if he had experience. But that was impossible; the male was barely as old as Haku, possibly two or three years younger.
Yet, he could not help but feel a well of hope when the blonde surprised him like that. Haku had not told anybody of what the blonde said. Zabuza would have only scoffed, while the two brothers would have just teased Haku for believing in the boy's words. They were missing nins. There was no way that they would ever be able to be free of that.
He walked passed a clearing only to stop in surprise. Greeting his sight was a field containing lots of holes…big holes. The rain had filled them up making the holes look like mini springs.
Haku's mouth dropped in shock. Who could have done such a thing? The last time he was here, it was nothing more than a grassy plain that held some of the plants that he usually liked to pick. A shuffling sound caught his attention. Making sure that the plants that he had collected were tucked away, he silently pulled out couple sebon needles. He threaded towards the sound warily only to frown at what he saw. There, behind a shroud of leaves under a huge tree, were two boys?
They didn't seem to notice him; they were too engaged in a heated conversation. Haku drew closer to hear what they were saying. One of the boys was a blonde with spiky hair that stuck out everywhere; the other had ebony colored hair. Both look like they had been through a mudslide as neither showed even a speck of cleanness.
Suddenly one of the boys looked up and stared at him, causing him to stiffen in surprise. It was the blonde. He looked familiar but Haku couldn't remember why. It was hard to really tell the exact features of the males.
The ebony haired boy who had been talking turned to look at where his companion was staring. His eyebrows shot up in surprise before his face became void of any emotions. The blonde got out of the shrubbery. "Hey! What's up? Why are you so deep in the forest?" asked the dirty blond giving Haku a big smile.
His companion rose as well, following the blond male out. Neither of the two seemed all that bothered by the fact that Haku was holding weapons, which puzzled the male to no end.
After a while, Haku sighed before giving a small smile; if they knew the danger, then he might as well play along. "I was taking a walk. May I ask who you guys are?"
The blonde nodded his head vigorously, his grin becoming impossibly wider. "My name is Naruto and this guy's name is Sasuke," introduced Naruto, as he first pointed to himself and then at Sasuke who gave a small nod of acknowledgement.
"We were just hanging around." He then frowned before asking, "What's your name?"
"My name is Haku."
Naruto beamed. "Well Haku! It's a pleasure to meet you! Do you mind if we join your walk?"
Sasuke looked a bit annoyed but other than that he did nothing and only nodded his agreement. Haku raised his brow but smiled anyway. Naruto's grin was infectious. He did not know why he was allowing this but he was just letting them walk with him.
The three travelled around and talked about rather random things. Well, it was mostly Naruto talking with Haku giving polite replies. Sasuke would maybe add a word or two every once in a while but more often than not, he was just quiet. Naruto had muttered to Haku that the male was just moody from lack of sleep. That earned the blonde a cuff to the head, much to the blonde's outrage and Haku's amusement.
It was a rather innocent conversation and Haku found himself asking and telling many things that he had never told anyone about. He even told them a bit of his past and that he was a hunter nin, much to his own surprise and the surprise of the other two. But they didn't seem to care, and for that Haku was immensely happy for.
That was until Naruto asked Haku a question, "Hey, Haku. Do you have a precious person that you will protect no matter what?"
Haku tilted his head at the question before nodding "Yes, he's really important to me… He raised me like his own son even though he claims that he's using me for his own means."
Naruto raised his brow in interest and beckoned him to continue. Haku gave a small shrug. "He taught me any things and was the only one who was there for me. I would gladly for him if it was to protect him."
There was a small silence before Naruto nodded and turned to face Haku. "Well if you were given a chance to get away from Gato, would you take it?"
Haku nodded a slight frown on his face. He did not understand where this was going. "Then I think that we can help you!"
At that comment, Haku could not help but raise his brow in disbelief, "How would you do that?" asked the male, puzzled and confused.
Naruto smirked and reached into his pouch and took out a headband. It showed the leaf insignia. Haku tensed and suddenly everything came back to him. It was the same guy who was traveling with the old man that was Gato's target. He immediately moved away from the two. Naruto held up his hands showing that he was not armed in any way.
"What do you want?" said Haku who looked ready to flee at the slightest hint of danger. Naruto shrugged as he tied his headband on
"I am proposing a plan that will help us both!" Naruto's grin turned into a smirk. "I assure you that the end result will have Gato out of commission," he said with a false singsong cheer. Haku looked at the blonde with skeptical disbelief while Sasuke groaned in annoyance, "What he means is that we have a truce to offer you."
Sakura stifled a giggle that threatened to escape as she stood at the edge of the forest near Tazuna's house. She had managed to return with time to wash and nap. Looking at her teammates, she could not help but grin, "You guys danced and frolicked in the rain together?" pouted the girl sadly, "You guys sure make a pair."
They just glared at her teasing. Both boys had returned still covered with mud. The mud itself had dried up and caked their clothes and hair by layers. Sasuke seemed to have twigs and leaves in his usual impeccable hair and looked ready to kill the person he was next to. Naruto just smiled as if nothing could ever go wrong. "Aww is Sakura jealous off being left out?" he asked with a worried look on his face. "Let us cheer you up!"
Then his expression changed into an evil smirk. Before Sakura could react, Naruto and Sasuke both gave her a one armed hug, getting a large proportion of the mud and dirt on to her. She gave shrieked of disgust while Naruto and Sasuke smirked at Sakura. However, their smirks were quick to drop when they realized that the pinked haired girl was not going to take to the joke too kindly. She gave them both a glare that promised retribution.
But, before Sakura could do anything, a light cough caught their attention. Standing at the doorway of the house was Kakashi. He looked bored while leaning on the doorway, but his eyes were filled with amusement.
"Shouldn't you two, no wait, you two, no three, get cleaned?" Naruto whined in protest, while Sakura and Sasuke rolled their eyes.
Sakura glared at the two boys, "Just you wait…I'll get you both."
Kakashi shrugged "You guys should get clean or else you will have to go with no breakfast. And If I remember correctly, two little boys haven't had dinner either." With that said, the jounin went inside, while Sakura dragged them to a nearby creek so that they could get some of the dirt off.
Sakura took this moment to ask the two genin what happened last night. "I assume that Kyubbi told you guys?"
They both nodded before Naruto and Sasuke briefly outline what they did. When asked about the plan, Sasuke shrugged "Worst comes to worst, go in kill Gato and any henchmen that stay and all before Kakashi and Zabuza kill each other."
Sakura raised a brow in amusement before shaking her head. Gato was going to be in for a fun morning.
Urgghh, Sidenote, I need to get back into Naruto. Once again, I know there is a slight OC and unreasonable way the story is moving in some points and i do apologize. But other than that, I hope you guys enjoyed and have fun with life! Thanks for reading!