Author's note: Thank you very much to everyone reading this and everyone who reviewed, favourited and/or is following :D This chapter is quite a lot shorter than the last two and hasn't got much SasuHina action but I hope you enjoy it.
Switched Chapter 9
"We've been ambushed?!" Sasuke exclaimed as Hinata stared at Kiba in horror. "Who by?"
"Naruto, do you remember those creepy men looking at us on the way back? Turns out they're from a local criminal gang who are known for stealing information off shinobi and selling it to their enemies for big money," Kiba explained. "They must have figured out we were messengers and decided to steal the scroll from us."
"B-b-but we've already delivered the scroll to the Daimyō. Haven't you told them that?" asked Hinata, her voice becoming more frantic and high-pitched.
"Sakura tried to tell them that but they weren't listening at all- they probably think we're lying," growled Kiba. "Right now, Sakura and Sasuke are trying to hold the first three off and Shino's helping the rest of the hotel evacuate. We think they're around Genin, maybe even Chūnin standard."
At this, Sasuke cursed under his breath, clenching his fists. Hinata let out a fearful wail and Akamaru joined her with his howls of distress, while Kiba began desperately trying to calm the pup down. Realising that the shock of the ambush was causing his teammates to unravel, Sasuke took a deep breath and started to formulate a plan. "Hinata, use your Byakugan to scout the hotel. Find out how many enemies there are and where they are," he commanded.
"R-right!" Hinata nodded, throwing her hands together to perform the necessary sign. As the veins on her face bulged, her focused look of determination wavered as she said, "S-Sasuke-san and Sakura-chan are fighting three people in the foyer of the hotel, and two other men are outside who are moving t-towards them. There are four people on the first floor who are searching the rooms there a-and there are three men on this floor moving around. Shino-kun is directing people out of the hotel through the back of the kitchen."
After a moment's silence filled with tension, Sasuke spoke first. "Hinata, since you will have the advantage in knowing their movements, take out the criminals on this floor quickly and then move to the first floor to do the same. I will go to the first floor to deal with the gang members there and after we have defeated the men on that floor we will direct the hostages to where Shino is. Kiba and Akamaru, go straight to the foyer to support Sasuke and Sakura. If you come under attack before you get there, just run. Hinata and I will join you as soon as we have dealt with the upper floors."
"Sounds good to me," replied Kiba, Akamaru barking in agreement. Hinata gave a hesitant nod before quietly asking, "Do you think there's any ch-chance of trying to negotiate with them again? There are more of us now, they may listen."
"Sorry Hinata, but there's no way those guys are gonna do that. They just told Sakura to shut up and hand over the scroll the first time she told them we didn't have it and ignored everything we said after that," Kiba answered.
"We'll just have to take them out then," declared Sasuke as he began running towards the stairs, Kiba and Akamaru following closely behind as Hinata vanished into the next corridor. 'At least, I hope we can.'
Sasuke's heart pounded in his chest as he crawled carefully across the ceiling, using his chakra control to cling on. The gang member who had just passed under him thankfully did not notice him at all and as he turned the corner, Sasuke deftly leapt behind him and smashed his foot into his back. The crook stumbled, limbs flailing aimlessly as he twisted his head to see his attacker but the Uchiha neatly flipped over him, creating two Shadow Clones as he did so. "Th-three of them?" spluttered the man before six fists pummeled him into unconsciousness.
"One down, three to go," Sasuke muttered to himself, making a hand sign to dispel the clones before beginning to creep away from the corridor he had found the first person in. Having met no one else while searching the corridors, Sasuke had assumed that the rest of the rogue shinobi on the first floor had hidden themselves within the rooms they had been searching, and supposed their plan was to ambush the Genin once they had passed by their doors. As another room approached, the Uchiha pressed his back to the wall adjacent to it and slowly gave the door a small push. When he heard no noise other than the creak of the hinges, he formed a single clone which then peered into the room to carefully inspect it. Finding it to be empty, the clone gave a quick thumbs down before disappearing in a cloud of smoke.
At this, Sasuke sighed and turned to continue down the corridor. "If I counted correctly, there were fifteen rooms on this floor which leaves potentially another fourteen to be checked. Ugh, finding these losers is gonna take longer than I expected," he moaned quietly.
"Or maybe it won't," a voice from behind him cackled. Sasuke swung round to see a heavily muscled woman burst out from the room he had just checked and before he could even move to defend himself, she slammed him into the wall and pinned him against it.
'Damn it, how did that clone not see her? If I had Sharingan, I would have spotted her for sure,' thought Sasuke as he struggled against the criminal's iron grip on him. The frequent kicks he was delivering to her hefty legs appeared not to faze her in the slightest as she called out to the giant man walking towards her: "Oi, Kazuichi, I've caught one of them Konoha brats."
Despite how he towered over his teammate, Kazuichi was of a far weaker build than the kunoichi, so lanky as to be almost fragile-looking. Instead of lending strength to her hold, he unsheathed a long katana and held it to Sasuke's neck, pressing it in so a few droplets of blood trickled from it. The Uchiha ceased his resistance immediately, as sweat began to pour from his brow.
"Good job, Oumi-chan," the man said softly, his voice as weak as his figure. "So Konoha-kun, would you like to explain to us where this scroll you are delivering is?" he asked, leaning in.
"We've delivered it to the Daimyō already this evening, so go and ask him instead," hissed Sasuke, before yelping as Oumi smacked him into the wall again. "You ask 'em too nicely, idiot," she spat at her partner who withdrew his sword to Sasuke's relief. "Right kid, you better open your mouth and tell us where this scroll is or I'll start breakin' every bone in your little body, got it?" she snarled, digging her sharp fingernails into his arms.
"I already told-" Sasuke started but was cut off almost instantly by Oumi screaming as a huge shuriken sliced into her right arm. Kazuichi gave a cry of horror and raced towards her, only to be caught in the stomach by another shuriken that had been hidden in the shadow of the first. Recognising the technique at once, Sasuke finally broke free of Oumi's grasp and cried "Hinata, thanks!"
"No problem, Naruto-kun!" Hinata shouted breathlessly as she ran towards him. "I-I've defeated the three men on the above floor," she continued as Sasuke delivered a swift blow to the back of Oumi's head to knock her out.
"KYO-KUN!" shrieked Kazuichi as he watched Oumi topple to the ground, blood leaking from her injured arm. A crazed roar erupted from behind Hinata as a man with flame-coloured hair swung open a door and charged towards her.
"You take him, and I'll deal with this one!" Sasuke yelled, as Hinata immediately assumed her Gentle Fist fighting stance and spun round to face the wild-looking man. As Kazuichi unsheathed his katana for the second time and swung it at his neck, Sasuke ducked underneath the blade and narrowly missed it. The swordsman saw him dodge it, and brought his katana down to slice into Sasuke's head, only for the Uchiha to use the Substitution jutsu to avoid the strike again. 'Damn, that was close.'
As he dived behind Kazuichi, Sasuke yelled "Shadow Clone Jutsu!" and produced a dozen clones in front of the gang member's eyes, surrounding him entirely. Distracted by the entourage that had suddenly appeared before him, Kazuichi failed to notice the real shinobi slip behind him and before he could raise his sword, Sasuke delivered an upper kick that launched him into the air. The katana crashed to the ground and the Uchiha leapt up behind him, mirroring the criminal's position in the air before swinging on top of him and delivering a series of powerful blows to smash him to the ground. 'Lions Barrage!' Sasuke roared internally as he performed the final assault of throwing Kazuichi to the ground and driving his foot into his stomach.
Turning away from the defeated ninja, Sasuke was relieved to see Hinata watching him closely with no major injuries, although he noticed she was covered in scratches and bruises now he looked more closely. The final gang member from the first floor lay unconscious behind her, his skin covered in the tell-tale marks of the Gentle Fist technique. The Hyūga heiress quickly deactivated her Byakugan and came towards him.
"You okay?" Sasuke asked, and satisfied with Hinata's quiet "Yes", continued, "Let's go to the ground floor." Running in front of her, his mind noted that the look in Hinata's eyes when she had seen him finish off Kazuichi had been a strange, scrutinising one. Sasuke dismissed the issue for later analysis; it was irrelevant to their current situation.
As she raced to keep up, Hinata's brain was repeating the images of what she had just seen. Having easily knocked out Kyo, she had seen the conclusion of Naruto's fight with Kazuichi and his method seemed unusual to her. 'I'm sure that jutsu Naruto-kun just used is the same one Sasuke-san used to defeat that chakra draining Genin from the Chūnin exam preliminaries. Maybe Sasuke-san taught Naruto-kun it at a later date, like he taught me about the Shadow Shuriken technique? But then, Naruto-kun made his own variation on the jutsu called the Uzumaki barrage which he used to beat Kiba-kun during their preliminary match, and it was equal in power. So why would he have wanted to learn Sasuke-san's as well? Something isn't quite right here…'
As she puzzled over the issue, lines from her heated conversation with Naruto before Kiba had interrupted them flashed into her head. 'Hinata… the truth is I'm not exactly who you think I am… No, I'm really not who you think I am…'
Hinata's eyes widened as she stared into the orange jacket in front of her. 'N…no way…Sasuke-san?'
Clattering down the stairs onto the ground floor, the two Genin were greeted by Shino surrounded by his swarm of insects. "What have I been doing? I have just finished evacuating the remaining guests and employees out of the hotel, so shinobi should be the only people remaining in here," he informed them. "What has happened upstairs?"
"Hinata and I have taken out all the gang members on the upper floors, and we're going to support the other three," replied Sasuke, pointing in the direction of Naruto, Sakura and Kiba.
"I'll join you then," said Shino and as Hinata activated her Byakugan again, he turned to open the door to the foyer.
"No, Shino-kun!" screamed Hinata but before either of them could do anything, Shino swung open the door only to be knocked unconscious by an immediate hit to his skull; his bugs had been unable to react in time. His assailant's smirk swiftly turned into shock as a deluge of clones crashed into him and blasted him out of the way with their fists. After moving Shino's body carefully out of the way, the two Genin burst into the foyer.
Sasuke's eyes rapidly darted around as he took in what was going around him. Sakura was kneeling in a corner of the room with glowing green hands as she tended to Akamaru who was unconscious and sporting a very nasty wound. An exhausted Kiba was flailing in front of her, only focused on defending his injured pup and its healer from the one gang member trying to attack them. In the middle of the floor, with two gang members lying beside him, Naruto was attempting to fight the two remaining criminals simultaneously but Sasuke could see at once that he had depleted most of his chakra reserves. The implications of this sent a chill down the Uchiha's spine and he yelled, "SASUKE! Stop fighting and let me and Hinata take over!"
"No, I can't give up yet! I'm not gonna run away when everyone needs my help!" Naruto shouted back as he only just avoided the combined streams of fire that had erupted from the mouths of the short haired woman on his right and the dark haired man on his left. Sasuke's heart gave an unpleasant lurch as he realised that the criminals here seemed to be more competent in battle than the others they had previously faced.
Kiba sank to his knees after being bombarded with a series of kunai. "I can't go on… I'm sorry…" he croaked, before collapsing into oblivion.
Hinata and Sasuke exchanged a brief glance before moving towards the enemy, only to be met with a cry of "Summoning: One Hundred Shuriken Jutsu!" and a barrage of shuriken from his large scroll. Thinking fast, Sasuke created a wall of clones that absorbed most of the metal stars and Hinata snuck through, shrouded by the ensuing smokescreen as the clones exploded into dust. She managed to land hits on enough pressure points to disable the gang member's left arm but before she could retreat back, he grabbed her in a stranglehold with his remaining one.
"Hinata!" As Sasuke prepared to kick the preoccupied crook in the stomach to take him out, Naruto ran towards them, making a series of hand signs that were all too familiar to both him and the Uchiha. "NARUTO, DON'T DO IT!" he cried but it was too late. Naruto had already formed three copies of his original body and they charged straight into the criminal, driving him into the wall and Hinata out of his grip.
Hinata fell to the floor gasping for breath as she heard the sound of the clones being dispelled. Then an awful scream pierced through her ears and she twisted her neck to see the crimson eyed Genin clutching his neck as a pattern of flames began to burn all over his skin. "What's happening to Sas-Naru…?" Her voice trailed off in her confusion.
Sasuke stared at his teammate in horror as he twisted his neck to look Sasuke in the eye, his hand not leaving the cursed seal. "Sasuke," he said, his voice strangled with the intense pain, "what the hell is your body doing?"
Sasuke opened his mouth to answer but no words came out. His gaze flickered between Naruto's eyes full of agony and Hinata's eyes full of disbelief. His charade had been broken.
The current plan is for three more chapters until the end of the fanfic as the ending has been changed. As always, if you have any feedback, advice or questions, I'm happy to hear it :)