Chapter 8-Road to Recovery

The group quickly made it to Wave Country where the former Sound Genin team of Kin, Dosu, and Zaku had only recently arrived at with the location showing a house on the far side of town that had seen better days. Quickly getting inside, Haku with Kimimaro got Sephiroth to the couch in the living room, and saw the seal on his chest near his heart was still active in pumping poison into his body. Whatever this was, it was clear Jiraiya had designed this seal specifically for taking Sephiroth down, and painfully at that should the opportunity present itself.

"Sephiroth-sama," said Haku seeing her Master's eyes now half closed and struggling to breathe and was struggling to stay conscious.

"Do not worry Haku. I will recover from this. I just need...time," said Sephiroth, as he began coughing horribly for a second, and blood came out of his mouth in the color of a shadowy black instead of the expected crimson.

"Time we may not have Sephiroth-sama," said Kimimaro with concern knowing there was a chance they could be tracked here by a highly skilled tracking unit from Konoha.

"Kimimaro is right. No doubt Konoha will send several ANBU teams to hunt you down and in your condition...," said Haku cleaning the blood from his mouth before seeing him smile at her gently with kind eyes.

"I would be killed or captured. That's why I have you Haku. I need your help now to heal what you can. Kimimaro, I need you to find out where the Sound Four's loyalties now rest, and see if they are willing to follow me," said Sephiroth in an almost whispery voice that only the two could hear.

"I understand Sephiroth-sama," said Kimimaro, as he left his Master's side, and motioned for the Sound Four to follow him with a look that told the four to not argue with him.

After those five former bodyguards of Orochimaru left, Kin along with Dosu, and Zaku had come into the room to see their assigned sensei in his current state of anguish. It was because of Sephiroth's actions they weren't currently dead or worse at the hands of the now late Orochimaru during the Chuunin Exams.

"What about us Sephiroth-sensei?" said Kin, as she saw the young swordsman look at them for a second, and then close his eyes in thought.

At least she thought he closed them in thought.

"Keep watch for any suspicious activity in Wave, as we may experience some in the next few days, and return here in the event there are ANBU in the area," said Sephiroth, as he saw the trio nod, and head out to keep an eye on things for him.

"I can manipulate the poison in your body with my bloodline and pull out of your body Sephiroth-sama. Not all of it, but enough to cause you less pain, and help your recovery proceed much faster," said Haku, as she studied the seal, and seeing it was a vile slowly spilling the poison into Sephiroth's body at a rate meant to subdue rather then kill him.

"How much of it will remain?" said Sephiroth feeling Haku slowly working her medical skills on him.

"Half of what he gave you. I don't know how much Jiraiya-san sealed into your body, but I can remove half of what is in you now, and will try treating the rest that remains in your system," said Haku seeing him nod at her words.

"It is to be expected. Things are never easy for someone like me," said Sephiroth, as he coughed again, but with less force behind it, and less blood came out of his mouth.

"True," said Haku, as she carefully used her bloodline to manipulate the liquid out of Sephiroth's body without hurting him, and walked over to an old slightly dusty glass before depositing the contents into it.

While that happened, Kimimaro came back in with the former Sound Four, who saw some form of color had returned to Sephiroth now that half the poison had been removed, and was no longer threatening to make things worse. Still, it didn't mean the infamous young swordsman was out of the woods yet, as his body was still weakened, and it would not be long before ANBU came hunting for them.

"They've reached a decision Sephiroth-sama," said Kimimaro, as he stood beside his Master, and it hurt the Kaguya to see him like this.

It reminded the albino all to well of his own disease had weakening his body.

"And what did they decide?" said Sephiroth, as he saw the former Sound Four look a bit nervous, and nudged Kidomaru forward to answer.

"We decided to follow you Sephiroth-sama. We know what you did for Kimimaro and the Genin team that was going to be used for whatever it is Orochimaru did when facing the Hokage. You see the value of those, who serve under your command, and we kind of want to see how that goes. So if you're cool with it, we'd like to...," said Kidomaru before Tayuya decided to interrupt him.

"Oh, what the six armed fucker means is we'd like to join you, and help out anyway we can because you're not like the snake pedophile!" said Tayuya seeing Kidomaru glare at her for that.

It made Sephiroth let out an amused chuckle at them despite the pain it had caused to his body.

"Very well. For the moment, you can rest to recover your lost strength, and prepare a plan should the Leaf send ANBU here," said Sephiroth seeing the four nod and look for a room to sit down in before coming up with a plan.

"What about me Sephiroth-sama?" said Kimimaro seeing the swordsman resting his head back on the couch.

"You need to receive more healing treatments from Haku since your disease is not fully removed from your body," said Sephiroth seeing the female ice user becoming hesitant in leaving his side, but the silent command with his eyes told Haku to obey, and saw the last Kaguya nod in understanding.

"Will you be all right by yourself here Sephiroth-sama?" said Kimimaro knowing they could move him to a bed upstairs if they needed to.

"I just need to rest. I won't go anywhere. I promise," said Sephiroth seeing his two most loyal subordinates nod their heads and closed his eyes to rest.

(Konoha-2 Days Later-Hokage Tower)

"So he's been weakened considerably, is that your belief in this matter Jiraiya-sama," said Koharu, as she along with the other high ranking officials of Konoha's government had a meeting with the Sannin about the situation with Sephiroth, and about the poison laced seal on the Namikaze's chest.

"Yes. Roughly 60 percent of the seal I attached to Sephiroth has poisoned his body just enough that we could send an ANBU team to take him down," said Jiraiya, as his hand hurt from where Haku had stabbed him, and took a medic some time to heal his injuries.

"While that is all good in theory, where could he even hide, and is it someplace we have an alliance with in order to prevent an international incident?" said Homura, as he saw Jiraiya look deep in thought on the matter, and knew even he was unsure on where their foe may have fled.

"I don't know. That village Orochimaru founded could be a good start, but I highly doubt Sephiroth would go back there to recover, and will more then likely head someplace he's knows we won't find him until much later," said Jiraiya, as he knew of several locations to look for Sephiroth, but the way the Leaf was damaged during the invasion, much of the manpower needed was being directed to fixing the village, and couldn't spare anyone at the moment to hunt their enemy down.

"When can a team be formed to track Sephiroth down?" said Danzo, as he had his own timetable to follow, and needed his own forces to prepare a team.

"It depends on whose alive, injured, or dead right now. I need a combination of trackers, assault, and possibly assassination specialists to be put together," said Jiraiya, as he saw Tsunade behind them with her hands laced together, looking at him dead in the eyes the entire time, and they were filled with pure anger.

"We'll make a list of who is available to you Jiraiya-sama," said Koharu, as she saw him nod, and leave with Tsunade doing the same while ignoring her advisors protest.

"Jiraiya!" said Tsunade, as she saw the man turn to face her, and he did not look happy to have a conversation with her right now.

"What Tsunade?" said the Toad Sannin seeing his old teammate walking towards him with a purpose.

"You can fool them, but not me. I know you have a team in mind and not all of them are ANBU," said Tsunade, as she saw him shrug slightly, and knew that was a "so what?" answer for him.

"I had a few interesting candidates. Like Genin Team 9 with Maito Gai for one holds promise. I was also thinking Inuzuka Hana could be added to the tracking team with her brother and I need Yugao's ANBU team. Along with Yuhi Kurenai, Hatake Kakashi, and the oldest of the two Ino-Shika-Cho teams since those two will be able to stop that Haku girl from helping him should she decide to get involve," said Jiraiya, as he saw Tsunade narrowed her eyes, and looking at him with suspicion.

"And what makes you think half of them will want to fight Sephiroth?" said Tsunade, as she saw Jiraiya smirk at him, and didn't like it.

"Because they know it's the right thing to do Tsunade. Because it is their duty as Shinobi to do things no one else can be asked. Something you have forgotten," said Jiraiya, as he saw the woman a breath away from sending him to the ER, and making sure he stayed in a coma for the rest of his life.

"Don't lecture me on doing one's duty Jiraiya. You're the one that conspired against your own Godson and helped cause the stupid prophecy you wanted to stop from happening. Why don't you go out there and sire another bastard child and then raise it like a parent should? Or are you too old and limp downstairs to even get a woman to have your bastard child?" said Tsunade before walking away from a now angry Jiraiya while smirking at getting the last word in.

(Konoha Hospital-Sometime Later)

"So you are accepting my offer Hinata? If I choose to leave Konoha, you will come with me, and Shizune as my official apprentice?" said Tsunade to Hinata seeing the girl nod her head vigorously.

"Yes. I accept your offer Tsunade-sama. I can't stand Konoha anymore. I see the truth in the people of this village and it sickens me to no end," said Hinata, as she couldn't stay in the village anymore, and felt the need to escape from this place.

"Good. At the rate things are going, we'll be leaving here sooner then later, and I can't wait since there is nothing holding me back from leaving the village again. Not anymore this time," said Tsunade, as she would have stayed after the Kyuubi attack, and raised Naruto had certain factors prevented that possibility.

"I understand," said Hinata, as she knew this was for the best since Hanabi would not be branded with the Cage Bird Seal, and her cousin Neji would be in good hands since the younger of the two sisters wasn't like the Hyuuga Elders in wanting to use the Cage Bird Seal on the Branch Family members.

"Tsunade-sama, the Councils will see to it that your traveling privileges are revoked, and we will be hunted constantly by Hunter Nin," said Shizune with concern knowing what the consequences would be of leaving the village and if the powers that be running the Leaf wished to punish the female Hokage further.

"Let them. I'll send each one back to them in pieces," said Tsunade, as she turned to her right to stare at the young apprentice, and smiled at the Hyuuga girl knowing that Month of training had paid off for the Chuunin Exams.

"And I'll help," said Hinata, as she knew where her loyalties lied, and it wasn't with the Leaf village.

It was with those that believed in her. Those that saw Hyuuga Hinata as a diamond in the rough that just needed to be molded into said diamond before polishing the jewel with key precision to make it shine beautifully. The one person, who saw such potential in her first was Sephiroth, and had made it known to those around him knowing that the right person being the Hokage would look into such claims before seeing they were indeed accurate.

"That's the spirit Hinata-chan!" said Tsunade, as she was loving this girl being her student with each passing day, and would look forward to teaching Hinata everything she could in the medical arts.

And then some.

(Wave Country-1 Week Later)

"Another day without incident so far Sephiroth-sama," said Kimimaro seeing his Master resting in a newly acquired comfortable chair meant for someone in his condition, now wearing all white this time from head to toe with a hood over his face, and drinking the herbal tea Haku prepared to combat the poison.

"So far Kimimaro. Just because we do not have anything to report yet, doesn't mean that there won't be in the near future, and to think otherwise would be foolish. What about Tazuna? How did your conversation with him go?" said Sephiroth, as he was no longer coughing dark blood, and was slowly getting stronger with each passing day.

"I understand Sephiroth-sama. As for Tazuna, he was a little concerned about you being here in Wave Country, but I assured him it was only temporary, and you are not here to cause him harm. He has also promised me that no one will know you are here though his tongue," said Kimimaro, as he saw Sephiroth nod his head in understanding, and sipped more of his tea.

"That is good news to hear. Remember Kimimaro, showing mercy to the right people can allow one to have a means to disappear, and stay hidden for as long as necessary," said Sephiroth knowing the old man was still grateful to be spared the feeling of death with Masamune piercing his gut or head being taken off in one quick slash.

"I will remember that Sephiroth-sama. I have also had your Genin team do additional training to further prepare them for battle," said Kimimaro, as he had the Sound Four take shifts with the trio, and manage a proper training regime for everyone.

"Good work Kimimaro. How go your treatments?" said Sephiroth, as he could tell that the albino was getting healthier thanks to Haku, and the notes pertaining to the treatments Tsunade had administered during their one Month stay in Konoha.

"They are progressing well Sephiroth-sama. Haku believes my disease is nearly cured," said Kimimaro seeing Haku nod in agreement.

"Keep continuing the treatments as scheduled until Haku can say for certain your disease has been removed and continue with random checkups at times to make sure it doesn't come back," said Sephiroth, as he smiled at his two loyal subordinates, and saw they were pleased with this information.

"Kimimaro. Its Dosu. We may have a problem," said Dosu into his radio that reached the albino at the named "safe house" since the group didn't know what else to call it.

"Go ahead," said Kimimaro listening in while Haku looked at Sephiroth with concern.

"Kin went into town after we died her hair and Haku was able to get her a civilian dress to further blend in with the populous in order to better keep a look out. She just sent me a Morse code message into her radio using one of her hair pins and relayed to me that Leaf Shinobi are snooping around asking questions about Sephiroth-sensei. One of them from what she described was Jiraiya of the Sannin," said Dosu, as he along with Zaku were about 15 minutes away from their sector near the "safe house", and the Sound Four were also covering their own sectors right now too.

"Do nothing! Any noticeable attention by us will lead the Sannin here and in Sephiroth-sama's current condition, he cannot stand up against him, and we do not have the strength to repel the man plus whatever forces are backing him up," said Kimimaro, as he saw his still weakened Master stroking Haku's hand gently while she looked from Sephiroth to the albino with a "we need a strategy" look on her face.

"Right. From what Kin reported, it's a pretty heady group following the Toad Sannin, as it has mostly Jounin, a Special Jounin, some ANBU, two Inuzuka, and the experienced Genin team that was in the Chuunin Exams. The one with the green spandex kid, who earned Sephiroth-sensei's recognition when fighting Sabaku no Gaara in the Prelims, and their sensei too," said Dosu, as he knew they were no match for the Sannin, and the rest would just run right over them easily.

"Troublesome," said Sephiroth, as he used the line of a certain Nara boy in Konoha, and his just as lazy Nara of a Father.

"Can we escape? All of us. Leave in randomly different areas and then meet up with each other somewhere else?" said Haku, as she saw Kimimaro look away deep in thought, and saw Sephiroth had his eyes closed while doing the same.

"We can't. If we try to leave now, they will discover us, and try to capture one of you before interrogating the caught individual for information," said Sephiroth, as he had hoped the Sannin would be delayed by the damage done to the village, and the lockdown after the invasion would last longer.

Apparently not.

"Sephiroth-sama is right. For now, we must make absolutely no movement unless there is no choice, but to move if spotted, and if that happens you must move away from us. Stall them if your forced to fight," said Kimimaro seeing Sephiroth wince slightly when he tried to move and fell back in his chair.

The poison wouldn't fully leave his system and Kyuubi estimated another three full days under Haku's care before he was back to normal.

But could they last three whole days?

"Kin is going to continue surveillance by going around town while pretending to shop at different stores. Since the town is small enough she can be at difference places they are and not look suspicious," said Dosu knowing he couldn't do it because of his bandaged face and Zaku's hands had devices in his palms that people might notice.

Kin was the only one on the team that could pass for a normal person.

"Understood. Once Kin is done, have her report back, but take the long way around near one of the Sound Four to make sure she's not being followed, and report should they get near any of sectors one of us is in," said Kimimaro hearing the confirmation from Dosu, who went about retransmitting the order to the others, and Kin respectively since the two Inuzuka with the group of Leaf Shinobi might pick up the voices on her earpiece.

"How long until you recover Sephiroth-sama?" said Haku, as she saw him move again, but the pain behind it was clear that the poison had done more then enough damage even with the half she removed fro his body.

Haku shuddered to think what the full dosage of this would do to him.

"Three days...including this one," said Sephiroth simply to the woman.

"Unfortunately Sephiroth-sama, we'll be lucky to survive the hour, much less the rest of today, and tonight if we're not careful," said Kimimaro knowing the group from the Leaf would eventually find them given the estimated strength in the area and that wasn't even counting potential bloodlines among the group too.

"We will endure nonetheless. There is no other choice. In the event we are caught, you must flee without me, and escape their persecution," said Sephiroth seeing the two look at him in disbelief.

"We cannot! We won't!" said Kimimaro seeing Sephiroth look at him with a kind smile that seemed to show a part of the swordsman that did not fit him yet was natural all the same.

"You must. Deep down, I am a heartless monster. A monster, who hates what he cannot have, and it was always meant to be that as a monster...I die alone like I have in my past life," said Sephiroth seeing Haku have tears in her eyes and hugging him now.

"That's not true Sephiroth-sama. You can have it. Believe me when I say you are not a heartless monster like everyone thinks. You can love and you can be loved," said Haku, as she didn't want him to believe he was like that since his actions disproved it, and just showed the swordsman did care about others.

'If only it were that simple Haku,' thought Sephiroth, as a part of Uzumaki Naruto within the body wished for love too, and both had been denied it all their lives.

Even if love of some kind was now remotely within Sephiroth's would just be taken away.

"I know you don't wish us to throw away our lives, but we will defend you with every fiber of our being Sephiroth-sama, and do what we must to make sure you live long enough to fulfill your dream," said Kimimaro, as he was not about to let his Master die, and at the hands of these Leaf scum.

His warrior pride and honor as a Kaguya would not let him.

(In Town-With Jiraiya)

Jiraiya the Toad Sannin knew they were being watched by someone in town, but the people all looked the same to him, and was finding it difficult to pinpoint the pair of eyes watching his every movement. If he had either of the two Ino-Shika-Cho groups with him, the Sannin was positive the person spying for Sephiroth would be revealed sooner to him, and find the weakened swordsman sooner. Many people were already looking at or the area around him while wondering what he and the large Shinobi force from the Leaf were doing here in Wave Country since they didn't know of any possible mission that required so many people from Konoha.

"Did you find anything? Anyone that seems remotely suspicious?" said Jiraiya into his headset hidden under his helmet and hair to the others in the group.

"Nothing so far. Are you sure he'd head here? After what happened here with Zabuza?" said Anko, as she had read the report, and wondered if anyone would help Sephiroth in his moment of weakness.

"Sephiroth spared Tazuna the end of his sword during that mission. The people of Wave Country know that it is because of him, Gato is now dead, and the bridge is complete. If there is one place Sephiroth could hide for a short time, it would be here, and this could be the only chance we get at capturing him. That seal I hit him with can't be duplicated again and Sephiroth could be nearly recovered by now," said Jiraiya, as he could try to hit Sephiroth with the rest of the poison, but the swordsman would have built up some form of immunity, and only insult if not anger the One-Winged Angel of Death for using the same thing twice.

"Well Sephiroth's scent is here in this town, but its mostly mild at best, and far off. Like someone with him has been here," said Kiba, as he along with Akamaru were sniffing the ground, and knew they had some general idea of where to look.

"What about the other scent? Can you lock onto it and determine who it belongs too?" said Kakashi, as he could summon his own team of dogs to lock onto the scent, and help catch Sephiroth's allies.

"Its feminine, but its not that Haku girl, and there is a smell dye in the mix," said Kiba, which made things all the more frustrating for him, and the rest of the team.

"Damn it! Wait! Hair dye? Can you focus on the specific smell of the hair dye?" said Kakashi, as he was struck by an idea, and a damn good one too.

"Yeah I can. Why?" said Kiba, as he frowned at the Jounin's words, and wondered why the man wanted him to focus on just that hair dye.

"Chances are, the person spying on us is the same one with the dyed hair, and can be followed to Sephiroth if not captured to be interrogated on telling us his location," said Kakashi, as he heard Jiraiya's approval on the matter, and some of the other ANBU.

"Okay. Give me a moment. The scent is pretty strong, but its definitely from Sephiroth's female helper, and I think she's also nearby," said Kiba, as he sniffed some more, and tell their target was close.

'Shit! I'll be caught if I don't leave now,' thought Kin, as she left quietly from the shop she was in, and walked farther away from the group into an alley before heading out to a safe area where she could mask her sent.

After that was done, Kin met up with Tayuya, as she was the closest, and reported to her what happened in town. Swearing at their shitty luck, Tayuya had Kin return to the "safe house", and report to Sephiroth for further orders.

"Damn it! I lost the scent!" said Kiba, as he sniffed around with Akamaru, and the boy pounded the ground with his fist in anger.

"Masking powder. Cheap stuff too, but no less effective, and easy to make if you know the basic components. This is the homemade variety if I ever smelled it," said Hana, as she had dealt with all kinds of masking scent powders before when growing up, and the potency behind various designs of the stuff.

"She must have been near us to overhear our conversation about Sephiroth and about the smell of the hair dye," said Kakashi, as he knew that was a possibility, but was slightly hoping it would make their intended target react, and be noticed by them.

Sephiroth trained his students well.

"What do you want to do? I doubt she'll make an appearance again and may try to warn Sephiroth of our arrival here in Wave," said Anko, as she knew from her own experience in infiltration missions that once a covers blown, you get out of there, and report what you know before its too late.

"I'll go get us a room for the night. The rest of you spread out around town and look for anyone else that seems suspicious for us to look into tomorrow," said Jiraiya, he left to take care of the living arrangements at a hotel, and see if anyone there knew anything.

(With Team 10, Kiba, Gai, Yugao, and Anko)

"What's with all this secrecy?" said Yugao, as she didn't like hiding things from her ANBU team, and this was one of those times.

"Relax Yugao-chan. I just brought you here to talk strategy with us. We need a plan that doesn't involve us fighting Sephiroth in order to bring him back to Konoha," said Anko, as she saw the Neko mask wearing ANBU woman frown at her, even if no one could see it behind the ANBU mask, and smiled back.

"No amount of planning can help us in the event we do find this guy Anko. There are still several unknowns with Sephiroth's condition and anyone else aside from the Haku girl helping him," said Yugao, as she knew their powerhouse of a Shinobi team could get the job done if the opposing force was small, but she didn't become Captain of her ANBU squad by running into the unknown, and side on the way of caution.

"Which is why I spoke with Jiraiya-sama on this Yugao-san and he felt our team should split up from the rest to form an smaller strike force to search another side of Wave near the water for any houses there while his searches the rest near the bridge.

"What about my squad?" said Yugao frowning behind her mask.

"Jiraiya-sama wants them camped out on the mainland just past the bridge there just incase Sephiroth tries to escape that way," said Gai while sensing the woman didn't like it.

"Hey don't look so bummed Yugao-chan. I was against the idea from the start. Knowing our luck, we encounter the gaki, and get our assess kicked by the group with him," said Anko since she felt they should act as a single group rather then split it into two of them.

"We'll look tomorrow. Jiraiya-sama had already summoned some toads to guard the ports until late tomorrow morning and our group will take shifts from the hotel closest to the bridge so any point of leaving is out of the question," said Neji, as he had scanned that area of the town, and found Sephiroth's chakra signature to be nonexistent in the area.

"I just hope this doesn't come back to bite us in the ass," said Tenten, as she didn't want to fight that Haku girl since she had the means to take down Lee, and the rest of them too if push came to shove.

(The Next Day)

"The toads Jiraiya-sama summoned reported no suspicious movement at the ports last night and no movement at the bridge either. There is a good chance Sephiroth is still here in Wave recovering," said Kurenai, as she brought out a map of the town they were in, and the different areas that were looked at had an "X" on them.

"These different areas here haven't been checked out yet and there is a chance Sephiroth is hiding out in one of the old houses until he can fully recover. Considering how much poison I got into his body before the Haku girl stabbed my hand sign making hand at the time, he shouldn't be able to do much right now so getting past whatever Sephiroth has for bodyguards is our only real problem at this point, and they should be taken down with extreme prejudice," said Jiraiya, as he saw the group nod, but saw Team 10, and even Gai looking a little troubled by that.

"Given what we know, I suspect Sephiroth has at least five bodyguards if you count the Genin team, and Haku along with that albino I heard was named Kimimaro. He's possibly the strongest of them all and we don't know what the man can do so stay on your toes. Gai, I'm putting you in charge of the squad with Anko being your second-in-command, and to report in any additional forces should you encounter any." said Jiraiya, as he saw the Jounin nod, and head out with his team.

"You think they'll run into Sephiroth or his bodyguards?" said Kakashi after the group was no longer in the room to hear him.

"Maybe. In any case, they should get the job done, or at least weaken our enemies before we arrive to back them up. The Fire Daimyo wants Sephiroth alive for trial and I aim to deliver. We may not get another chance like this again in capturing him Kakashi and I'm not going to blow it," said Jiraiya, as he saw the former ANBU Captain nod, and get into his own position to search for Sephiroth.

(With Sephiroth)

"I'm sorry Sephiroth-sensei. Its because of me they know you're here in Wave Country," said Kin, as she knelt before the young swordsman, and was slightly trembling in front of him knowing that a cruel punishment was now possibly awaiting her.

She wanted to report to him yesterday, but Sephiroth had fallen into a meditative sleep to further assist in the removal of the poison, and Haku refused to let anyone interrupt his slumber.

"Its all right Kin. The fact you were able to avoid being followed or captured more then makes up for it. Besides, I have no doubt they would have discovered I was here in Wave Country, and begin the process of casting a net over the area to catch me," said Sephiroth seeing the girl happy that there would be no punishment at his hands.

"Thank you Sephiroth sensei. What should I do now?" said Kin, as she saw him frown in thought, and look to Kimimaro to step forward.

"Kimimaro, inform everyone to slowly, and discreetly come back here to the house. It won't be long until we have company," said Sephiroth seeing the albino nod and leave at once.

"We could still find a way to get you out of here Sephiroth-sama. If we can acquire a boat of some kind, we can get out to sea, and head to Water Country," said Haku, as she knew it would be dangerous for her, but amongst the chaos there with the political strife, and the civil war going on would be perfect for someone like Sephiroth to hide there.

"Seek temporary peace and quiet in a country crippled by war. How ironic and yet clever of you Haku. You have been paying attention to the strategy lessons I've been teaching I see," said Sephiroth, as he had spent his time in the chair imparting mental knowledge to all those around him, and further assisting in their training in that regard.

"I try Sephiroth-sama," said Haku blushing at his praise.

"Sephiroth-sensei we have another problem," said Kidomaru into the swordsman's own earpiece.

"Go ahead Kidomaru," said Sephiroth calmly though there was a clear edge in his voice.

"Zaku is in trouble. He's encountered a group of Leaf Shinobi while heading to you, but had to divert from his present course, and launch an attack with his hands. There is a chance he could be captured by the enemy and interrogated by them for information," said Kidomaru with worry, as Kin had been given a Bingo Book, and told pointed to the Leaf Shinobi in it that she saw yesterday.

"Who is closest to him right now?" said Sephiroth simply knowing someone could flank the group and then flee with Zaku.

"Jirobo is, but he's not the fastest one of the group, and could also be captured if he's not careful," said Kidomaru, as the widest man of the group was usually the one in the back of their group when fleeing because he could easily create defensive Jutsus, and weaken the enemy before escaping.

"It can't be helped for that is a risk one takes when being a Shinobi. Fortunately, Jirobo just needs to stall them long enough for Zaku to get away and then himself before he comes back here," said Sephiroth, as knowing it couldn't be helped that this was going to happen, and slowly rose from his chair much to Haku's protest.

"I'll let him know," said Kidomaru simply.

"You are not strong enough to face them Sephiroth-sama," said Haku holding him so he could support himself better.

"I'm strong enough," said Sephiroth with his voice leaving no room for Haku to argue with him on this matter while he used his power to manipulate his clothing to be what it was before the all white attire.

(With the Advance Leaf Team)

"Damn this kid is annoying," said Anko, as she dodges another intense sound blast from Zaku's hands, and couldn't stay in one place to long to wrap him up in her snakes.

"Fang over fang!" said Kiba, as he launched his attack with Akamaru, and made Zaku roll quickly to his right only to be hit by weighted foot to the face by Lee via spin kick into a tree.

"Hidden Shadow Snake Hands!" said Anko, as she quickly launched her snakes at Zaku, and bound him to the tree with her precious serpents.

"Damn it! Forgive me Sephiroth-sensei. I tried to live up to your expectations," said Zaku mumbled more to himself then his foes knowing they were going to force information out of him.

"I don't suppose you're going to willingly tell us where we ca find Namikaze Sephiroth, gaki? Please do resist. I've been having a bad week and I need an excuse to unleash all my frustration on someone," said Anko grinning in a dangerous sense that made weaker men wet themselves.

Surprisingly, Zaku held his ground, and glared defiantly at her.

"I have nothing to say to you," said Zaku having been taught by Sephiroth on how to speak when it comes to interrogations during the short time the swordsman was resting.

When being interrogated, do not insult your interrogator, as it will only make them want to lash out at you in more painful way then necessary, and the aftermath could make you break. Be mindful what you do say, speak half-truths, but never truly lie, and skate the line in-between the two known as misdirection. A lie can be a truth from a certain point of view, but only in the way one phrases it can the lie be considered a truth, and not a lie that will bring about more pain.

"I was hoping you would say that," said Anko, as she made her group of snake squeeze him painful, and making him cry out slightly for a good 10 minutes before the Special Jounin stopped.

"Just tell us where Sephiroth is and Anko-san will stop," said Gai, as he saw Anko look at him with a smile, and not one of those nice smiles either.

"Stop? Who said I would stop here? I can take him back to the Leaf and he can be my new boy toy. The last one is too beat up and can't handle me anymore. I need someone, who had more youth, and spring in his step," said Anko while giving Zaku a look that told the boy she meant him.

"Anko!" said Yugao, as she knew her friend was messing around, but the boy didn't know that, and while she was all for getting information...she did have to protect the dignity of the female gender too.

"Even if I did tell you, there is no guarantee I'd be let go, and just be carted off to your village for whatever purpose it would serve," said Zaku feeling a slight squeeze again from the snakes.

"What if we made one?" said Neji seeing the boy look at him and then scoff at such an idea.

"I have no guarantee you would keep it. From what I understand, the people in the Leaf just love hearing the sound of their own voice to speak the truth, and do not exactly honor agreements with others," said Zaku seeing Neji's eyes narrow slightly before activating his Byakugan eyes.

"We're not like those other people in the Leaf. We'd honor it," said Tenten seeing Yugao shake her head no at this idea.

"You are just an advance force. The leader of this group would, but there is nothing to stop the leader of the main group to say otherwise, and back out of the deal," said Zaku seeing the higher ranked Shinobi of the group frowning at that since it was true.

Gai was the leader of this group, but only because Jiraiya made him one, and even then the Sannin had final say on all matters unless reporting to the Hokage. Any possible deal Gai made right now could and would be overruled by Jiraiya before they took Zaku back to the Leaf for execution for protecting a wanted man.

"Sephiroth-sama taught you well," said Lee seeing Zaku look at him now while the others turned too at hearing Sephiroth's name being spoken with such respect.

"Better then Orochimaru-teme ever did. Sephiroth-sensei knew the Sannin was going to throw us away during the Chuunin Exams for his own purposes and took measures to prevent our demise," said Zaku seeing Anko raise an eyebrow at that and saw the surprise on the faces of the others.

"The same is said for me too. After my fight with Sabaku no Gaara, I was told my life as a Shinobi was no longer possible, and yet Sephiroth-sama came to me before using his power to heal my wounds. He told me that my battle with the Kazekage's youngest was one of the most impressive he's seen in our generation and to see me unable to do it again was unthinkable in his eyes," said Lee, as he could tell the group was surprised by this, and wondered why he was mentioning this now.

"So you are among the rare few, who actually respects my sensei. How unfortunate it is we are on opposite sides of the fence when it comes to this matter. Still, I cannot reveal to you his location, and I would rather die then betray Sephiroth-sensei," said Zaku, as he saw Lee frown with sadness in his eyes, and look away while Yugao brought out her sword.

"If that's how you feel," said Yugao, as she was about to perform the deed, and send a message to anyone else helping Sephiroth.

"Earth Style: Earth Shaking Palm Jutsu!" said Jirobo, as he slammed his hands to the ground, and kicked up rubble with rocks hitting the group unexpectedly making Anko break concentration with her snake to let go of Zaku.

"Jirobo!" said Zaku getting off the ground and getting away from the Leaf Shinobi.

"Go back to the house. Sephiroth-sama needs you there," said Jirobo, as he saw the Leaf Shinobi trying to get off the ground before he took off with Zaku, and hoped they could lose them through the dense forest.

"Decapitating Air Wave!" said Zaku, as he blasted the ground where the Leaf Shinobi were, and sent them flying into a bunch of trees.

Without looking back, the two headed for the "safe house", which would no longer be safe, and prepare for a last stand against the Leaf.

(Sometime Later)

"He's in there?" said Yugao, as she saw Neji using his eyes to scan the inside of the house after Kiba tracked their scent here, and had already reported to Jiraiya about the location.

"Yes. Sephiroth's chakra is coating the entire second floor of the house, but he's there, and I'm counting nine additional chakra signatures inside with him," said Neji, as he was not expecting so many, and wondered who else was with the swordsman.

"Could be those four that were with him after barrier went down. They put up that barrier around Orochimaru and Tsunade-sama before leaving with Sephiroth-san after getting poisoned by Jiraiya-sama," said Gai seeing the group nod.

"Things just became more difficult. If those four were with Orochimaru, then they must be strong, and won't go down without a fight," said Kiba knowing those four must have a lot of power if they were entrusted with protecting Orochimaru during the invasion.

"All the more reason to take them down now. Jiraiya's team will be here in moments," said Yugao, as she got her sword ready, and knew this would be it.

"Yosh! Tenten, Neji, and Lee will handle the three Genin from the Chuunin Exams. Kiba with Akamaru will fight Haku and I will fight the Kimimaro character," said Gai seeing the group nod while Anko had a smile on her face that told everyone she felt like the lucky one on this mission.

"And the sexy angel boy is mine!" said Anko with everyone sweat dropping.

"Don't forget me Anko," said Yugao looking at the Special Jounin while ignoring her friends antics.

"Oh Yugao-chan! I didn't know you wanted some of him too. What's wrong with Hayate-kun? Does he not have enough stamina due to his lungs?" said Anko making the ANBU woman blush and making those around them do the same.

"Its not like that Anko. Stop being a pervert!" said Yugao seeing the Special Jounin now giggling at the fact she got under her skin.

(Inside the House)

"The group of Leaf Nins that Zaku encountered is finally here. The rest of them will be joining them shortly," said Dosu using his manipulation of sound to help overhear the conversation outside.

"We could take them, but we'd be overrun before long, and then subdued if not killed before they went after Sephiroth-sama," said Kidomaru, as he looked from his position to the second floor of the house where Sephiroth was, and knew Haku along with Kimimaro would be the swordsman's last line of defense.

"So what the fuck should we do? I don't feel like giving up to a bunch of cocksuckers anytime soon," said Tayuya, as she hated waiting, and hated being in situation where she was screwed no matter.

"We make our stand against them. Kimimaro and Haku are the strongest of us. They can get him out of here should we fail," said Kidomaru seeing the others nod in agreement.

"Did you ever think we'd go down this way brother?" said Sakon to his brother Ukon on his head.

"No, but it's the only way I can think we should," said Ukon, as he saw his brother nod his head, and looked out the window before they all went outside forming a line in front of the house.

"You can come out now. We know you're there," said Jirobo, as he saw the entire group from Jiraiya to Inuzuka Kiba come out, and face them.

"We'll only offer you this once. Step aside and let us take Namikaze Sephiroth from here. You don't owe him anything," said Kakashi seeing each pair of eyes from the group in front of him hardening considerably.

"How about you go fuck yourself and that gay old man next to you," said Tayuya angrily at the former ANBU Captain.

"How can you throw away your lives for someone like him?" said Kurenai, as she them preparing to fight, and it was clear no form of reasoning could convince them to stand aside.

"How can we not?" said Dosu countered ready to bring pain to his enemies.

"Judging from the fact Sephiroth isn't here, I take it he's still incapacitated, and unable to defend himself," said Jiraiya with a hint of pride in his voice over what he did to the One-Winged Angel of Death.

"He's more active then you know," said Jirobo cryptically making the Sannin frown.

"Take them down!" said Jiraiya with his voice leaving no room to argue.

And just like that, the two forces clashed, and neither side wanting to lose to the other.

"There fighting outside," said Haku, as the sound of explosions was heard, steel meeting steel, and the cries of battle echoing loudly into the sky.

"And not a moment too soon. I just hope Sephiroth will forgive you for putting him in a false death state so he wouldn't fight anyone outside," said Kimimaro, as he was holding their Master in his arms, and ready to leave when Haku was the moment the battle could no longer be kept outside.

"I will accept any punishment he wishes to give for my actions," said Haku, as she once more felt a shiver run up her spine at the realization that Sephiroth would not be so merciful upon learning about this, and no doubt be shunned for this act.

A smash of glass from below was the signal for the two to leave with Sephiroth, as he along with Anko smashed through the window of the room, and ran with all the power they could put into their legs to get away from the fighting. They heard one of the Leaf Shinobi call out that the two were making their escape with Sephiroth and to cut off their escape route.

"We must make it to the Northern Port of Wave. It's out only chance," said Kimimaro, as he dodged the kunai thrown at him by Kakashi, and the kick from Gai after the man gave a shout of "Dynamic Entry!" moments before throwing a kunai.

"At this rate, we will be caught before reaching the port, and Sephiroth-sama will not awaken for at least another hour," said Haku, as she threw some senbon needles back at their pursuers, and noted she was able to take down some of the ANBU in the group after the needles hit their necks.

"Take him!" said Kimimaro before throwing Sephiroth to her and turned around to face the Leaf Shinobi.

"You can't! Your illness is nearly cured. What could was my treatments if you throw your life away now?" said Haku after catching their Master, as she saw Kimimaro look back, and smile at her.

"It is because of your treatments, I can fight to my fullest, and protect Sephiroth-sama with all my being. Now go!" said Kimimaro, as he saw Haku rush off while the Kaguya summoned a bone whip using his spinal column, and made a spear with his left hand.

"I will ask this once of you from one honorable warrior to the next. Please move aside Kimimaro-san." said Gai along with Kakashi with his Sharingan out were ready for a fight.

"I cannot. It is because of Sephiroth-sama, I am allowed to live this long, and become stronger then I have in Months due to my disease. I owe him my life and I will repay my debt in full my giving my life to see to it his last!" said Kimimaro, as he used the whip on Kakashi, and threw the spear at Gai.

Both dodged the weapons and attacked Kimimaro from the side. The albino dropped the weapon in his right hand, as he resorted to going for fighting via Taijutsu, and held his own against the two Jounin for a time. He was able to knock them both back, but after that happened, Kimimaro was ambushed by Hyuuga Neji hitting him several times with his Gentle Fist Taijutsu, and was then bombarded by different weapons by the bun haired girl he knew sounded like a number said twice.

Now here Kimimaro was before the group of gathered Leaf Shinobi. He was bruised, bloody, and several of his chakra points were temporarily cut off. Still, he wouldn't give up so easily that they could pursue his Master, and condemn Sephiroth-sama to a farce of a trial before a public execution.

"You are beaten. Give up now and we can take you back to Konoha to start a new life," said Neji, as he saw the albino grin, and the blood flowing down the side of his mouth.

"The only way you are getting to Sephiroth-sama is by walking over my dead body and will not die easily," said Kimimaro, as he charged forward battling Neji, Kakashi, and Gai with all the fury his body possessed.

'Such fury. Such passion. Just like the others we've defeated and captured,' thought Gai, as each of the three Genin, and the former Sound Four had left their own marks on the group before being defeated.

Unfortunately, despite his best efforts, the albino Kaguya could not win the battle against the three, even after kicking Neji right in the face knocking the Hyuuga out, and defeated Kimimaro after Gai put the man in a sleeper hold to knock him out.

"Sephiroth-sama...forgive me. I...was not worthy of your mercy," said Kimimaro in a whisper before collapsing into unconsciousness and even then his body moved to fight for him.

"You are worthy Kimimaro-san. We won't let you die here," said Gai in a whispered voice while Kakashi and Jiraiya rushed past them to go after Haku.

(With Haku and Sephiroth)

Haku got on the docked boat, kicking the fisherman on the boat off of it, and putting Sephiroth down quickly below deck. After hiding her Master below, she headed up to the surface of the boat, and began to sail away from the port while thanking Kami that the wind was in her favor. Turning around to look past the aft of the ship, Haku saw Jiraiya of the Sannin, Sharingan Kakashi, and some ANBU looking on from their position at the harbor. They used water walking to continue the pursuit, but they forgot one simple, and crucial face about Haku in regards to water.

Her bloodline limit allowed for the manipulation of water and turning it into ice if she so desired.

And she desired it right now. Haku desired making water rise up and become ice spikes like she had when her Father had come with a mob to kill her. All those around her, who wished to serve Sephiroth had been taken away, and those responsible didn't seem to care about the lives they took in the process. It was unfair! How many times would she have to sit by and watch all those that cared for her Sephiroth-sama fall?

No more!

Now it was their turn to take some losses of their own.

"Ice Style: Ice Spikes Jutsu!" said Haku, as she unleashed all her rage at these fools, and could no longer hold back the anger that had reached the boiling point in her mind.

And she expressed that through the Jutsu she hadn't used in nearly a decade with the ANBU on the water now paying the price for their own sins against Sephiroth. Jiraiya and Kakashi managed to dodge the attack though the horror behind it did turn their heads long enough for Haku to attack them again with another Ice Jutsu. An Ice Jutsu that under normal circumstance shot thousands upon thousands of needles made of ice high into the air before falling and with the vast volume of water now around her would allow for the hitting of targets were shooting millions upon millions of needles that descended upon the Leaf Shinobi.

That slowed them down...painfully!

As the two Leaf Shinobi struggled to stay afloat, a cruise ship sailed in-between the gap, and created an intense wave that sent them flying back. The rest of the group that could make it like Tenten, Kiba, Hana, and Yugao rushed past the two before boarding the boat Haku was on.

Only to find she wasn't on it and neither was Sephiroth.

They had hitched a ride on the much larger ship charted to its destination, which at the moment was unknown to Haku, but in all honesty, she could handle it, and just needed time to have Sephiroth recover. Something the Leaf would and could not come to pass knowing it would spell doom for them.

"Can we still track them?" said Kiba, as he saw the massive ship now off in the distance, and impossible to hunt down given their exhausted condition.

"No. The ship is too far away. By the time we locate where its docked, I doubt Sephiroth will be on it, and even if it he is...his health will be back to normal," said Jiraiya gravely with a sigh before looking at the dead ANBU skewered by large spikes of ice thanks to Haku with their blood staining the water.

"What about his followers?" said Kakashi, as he knew Anko, and Ibiki could have a go at them for information before imprisonment.

"They're all alive. Beaten up pretty badly, but all of them are alive, and I'm impressed with their abilities. Some of the ANBU from Yugao's team are severely injured and that's not an easy task to accomplish. Anko has some bruised ribs, but nothing a few days rest can't cure, and Kurenai has a concussion with a mean bruise on her face from where that one redhead's Oni Demon summons hit her," said Hana, as she had Gai watching over them now with Lee, and hoped the two didn't go into one of their "youthful" tirades.

"Not to mention the dead group of ANBU I have here. That in itself is a heavy price to pay. The Councils will want the Hokage to make sure all of Sephiroth's followers pay it for him," said Jiraiya, as they headed back to land, and with the rest of the group.

"They're not afraid to do so. I haven't seen loyalty like that for someone in a long time," said Kakashi, as he had seen some cases during the last war, and were respected for it.

"Same here. Now we need to get back to the Leaf and make our report to the Hokage," said Jiraiya, as he wasn't really looking forward to that, and even less to the Councils since it was clear they would be disappointed in finding out the team failed to capture Sephiroth in his weakened condition.

Jiraiya could only hope they would be able to use Sephiroth's loyal followers to give them some kind of edge against him in the future.

(A/N: YAY! I updated. It wasn't easy. Believe me. I was reading a few fics and they caused a disruption with my creative muse, but I should be okay now, and just need to relax for the moment. Until next time...PEACE!)