Sui: Yo, I was reading a series of story snippets by obsidian dreamer and this snippet just kind of stuck with me. obsidian gave permission for anyone to use the snippet as a start for a story, so I'm not just stealing this, I've got permission. Anyway, this first chapter is pretty much just the snippet from obsidian's story. And rolling in... 3... 2... 1... ACTION.

Deception is the way of the ninja; if an opponent believes you to be an idiot and an incompetent; he'll be most surprised when you reveal your full potential and surprises, especially those involving kunai, shriuken, jutsus or impressive taijutsu of any kind, have a nasty of habit of being very fatal for those involved. In following this line of thinking there was one true exponent of the ideal of deception, though he had recently taken on a pupil who he hoped would follow in his footsteps as soon as he actually developed the skills to back up his ridiculous exterior. Regardless of his follower however, everyone who had ever met him would immediately agree that, bumbling fool and letch though he might have appeared to be, in the middle of a life-or-death struggle there was no-one you'd want on your side more the Jiraiya of the Sannin.

An example of the Toad Sage's faux-idiocy was his sleeping habits; as Naruto continually complained on a daily basis; it generally took nothing less than an exploding tag in each ear-hole to get the old pervert moving in the morning. However Jiraiya was a ninja and had from a very young age developed a hair-trigger sense of getting up and out in the blink of an eye, though this was more out of indulging his vices than any formal training despite Sarutobi-sensei's best efforts; more than one brothel madam, innocent servant or irate father had blundered into a comely young ladies' room in time to catch a glimpse of Jiraiya's half-naked backside rapidly vacating the premises through a convenient window. He chose to play possum in the morning simply because he had the choice to and liked to sleep in, not to mention it wound his student up something chronic and that was a good enough reason both in and of itself; however, given the appropriate stimulus the Gama Sennin was guaranteed to be combat-ready in an instant.

A girly shriek of terror echoing through the night more than counted as an appropriate stimulus.

Naruto!; he hadn't been there for his godson's early life but he'd be damned if he screwed it up now – Minato's legacy would become the legend the Yellow Flash had always said he would be or Jiraiya swore he would throw himself into the Shinigami's stomach to let the Yondaime kick his ass willingly with a smile on his face. Throwing himself out of his sleeping bag and not even bothering to take the large toad-shaped sleeping cap off his head (a habit, he noted with equal parts hilarity and pride, that Naruto seemed to have taken up even from a young age), the older nin sprinted towards the source of the cry, inwardly cursing at the same time as trying to work out why Naruto would have snuck out to train again; had yesterday's brush with Akatsuki taught him nothing? He'd nearly been captured by Itachi and Kisame – only dumb luck and lots of it had saved both him and Sasuke from death or, in the jinchuurikis case, a fate worse than death according to the report Gai had gasped at him prior to dragging a chagrined Sasuke back to Konoha. Stupid gaki; the toad sage berated himself before focussing on the matter at hand; if it's one of the Red Dawn I will make sure the sun goes down on them this day...huh, what's that?

Stumbling to a halt, the ninja master focused more chakra to his ears and listened into the conversation he could hear his student having; realising Naruto was not in danger any more, Jiraiya began to plot ways of making him pay for losing precious minutes of sleep at the same time as try to figure out who the fox-containing boy was taking to,

"...Oh okay, you're not slicing me, that's good...right, you need more, no problem I got plenty to spare..."; if these are his pick-up lines he needs more help than I can give him; the thought made the Toad Sage smile before listening in again; though in the realms of womanly affection, there is no greater master than the legendary Jiraiya; ", did that guy ever feed you – no wonder you went for me, it must have been like throwing a starving Akimichi into an all-you-can-eat barbeque buffet".

"Okay, that's enough", deciding to announce himself before things could go too far, Jiraiya strode into the small clearing Naruto must have found for himself and his lady friend, one hand pushing the ferns and branches out the way while the other fingered his trusty notepad, just in case, "gaki you have a lot to learn about wooing the fairer sex if that was the..."

It was at that point Jiraiya looked over at the source of the soft giggling he'd heard earlier and all the words died in his throat; the sight of some hideous, spiky...thing resting across his students lap was enough to make him wince even if it didn't appear to be doing the boy any harm. Looking up in alarm, Naruto calmed down when he heard saw the flabbergasted form of the older ninja,

"Hey Ero-sennin", he greeted casually; oh sweet Kami, that thing can move!; seeing the monster shift its bulbous, spined head as though sniffing him out made Jiraiya feel queasy, almost ill enough to miss the last of his student's statement, "sorry if I woke you up earlier but it's okay now; I think she likes me".

With that Naruto simply ran his free hand over some of the spines on the back of this beast's back and Jiraiya swore he could see the thing sigh at the caress. Tearing his eyes from the disturbing spectacle, the Toad Sage grated his next words,

"Explain, now", Naruto raised an eyebrow at the request and the gesture was enough to break Jiraiya's fragile temper, "what the hell is that thing and where did it come from?"

"Ehehehehe", seeing the traditional Naruto grin and back-of-the-head scratch Jiraiya groaned and slapped a hand over his face – he'd seen that look before and it never boded well, "well, yesterday I, uh, I may have told a little fib..."

"Well tell me the truth now", his mentor sighed, knowing it was no use getting angry and crying over spilt milk now, "I'm not angry but I'm curious".

"In that case get your notebook out Ero-sennin", to his surprise Naruto, rather than shrinking and mumbling his report like he usually did when he'd done something wrong, he was grinning wider than ever and stroking the beast on his leg with more vigour than before; it's moving, I swear that thing can scuttle – what the hell is it?; "this'll make your next porn novel a best-seller. Believe it!"


Naruto was naturally a cheerful person but that didn't mean he wasn't also naturally cautious; years of living in a village where people treat you, at best, as a walking natural disaster waiting to happen will breed a streak of paranoia in even the most sunshine-filled soul. That same streak had been subconsciously pinging away ever since he and Jiraiya had come to this town, had really started sounding alarm bells when the Toad Sage had left to go chasing tail and, now that he'd sensed two of the largest chakra presences he'd ever felt heading straight towards the room he'd rented in Jiraiya's name, it was screaming at him to do something drastic. The only problem was that, in the face of a rising panic, right now his mind was a blank.

Oh shit, oh hell, I'm too young to see Sandaime-jiji again; part of the reason he'd agreed to go on this mission had been to make his adopted grandfather proud of him wherever Sarutobi was in the afterlife – it had hurt to be at the old man's grave side but that pain had been tempered by the knowledge that he was going to recruit the Sandaime's successor and that the old man had gone out protecting his village and had crippled the man who'd killed him almost beyond repair. The image of the kind old teacher helped calm him somewhat as he breathed rapidly, trying to figure out what to do next; they're ninja, they've got to be and the only person I've met with bigger chakras than them is Ero-sennin. They've got to be after me, no way they'd come here first if they were after him – what do I do? I can't outfight them and the second I try to run they'll be all over me like bugs on Shino and fleas on Kiba.

Out of desperation and the knowledge that he needed any kind of an edge here, he triggered chakra to his ears like Kakashi had taught him and listened, drowning out the pain as other noises of life battered his heightened senses to listen in. Focus, I know it hurts but focus...wait, I know that voice, but it's not him so it has to be...; the knowledge he was listening to one of the Leaf's most infamous traitor-nin filled him with dread, even more so when there was a polite knock on the door and he knew who waiting for him behind the simple plank of wood, but even as he stood there, the fear began to drain away. An idea, a truly crazy, mad idea dredged up from the very depths of his desperation to survive bloomed in his mind and he broke the shackles of terror on his limbs; after all, he decided with a shrug as he smiled shyly and decided he didn't have anything better to go on at the minute so he'd give this a go. After all, winding up Uchiha was one of Naruto's pet hobbies at home and if nothing else it might give whoever was with Itachi a good laugh before the missing-nin killed him in a suitably brutal and stomach-churning manner.


"Come on Itachi", the massive blue-skinned half-shark made a concerted attempt to sound wheedling, "just one leg?"

"No", came the monotone reply, the Uchiha turning his head just enough to see the Kiri missing-nin from the corner of his eye, "if we damage the vessel we may damage the Bijuu and make the sealing process even more arduous". Grinning at the same time as hefting his infamous blade over his shoulder, Kisame smirked as his partner knocked on their next victims' door,

"Ah, but where's the fun in life if it's not a challenge; I hate getting bored".

"After the Kyuubi is taken we will request another Bijuu, one in an experienced host – that should give you enough of a challenge. Ah", hearing the door open, the former Leaf-nin turned towards the jinchuuriki, "Uzumaki Naruto, you will come with us now".

There was a long moment of silence, one that Itachi had expected; after all, their target was only a boy of the Leaf, an unusually strong one it was true, but still a boy likely stunned into shock to stand in the presence of such an infamous figure in the Leaf's history. Realising he wasn't going to get an answer, Itachi sighed softly and reached forwards to grab his target before the paralysis wore off,

"Dude, do you have any idea how creepy that sounded?"

Itachi blinked, his hand frozen as it appeared their roles were reversed; suddenly the genin before him was animated and he was stood as still as stone, only able to listen as Naruto went on,

"Come on; asking a young boy to come with you – man that sounds like something Oroichimaru would try to pull, he's always giving them 'gifts'. It must be a nin-thing, all the powerful nin I know have got something wrong with them; Ero-sennin's a pervert, Kakashi-sensei's a pervert and he's always late, Gai-sensei's always running around screaming about youth and Oroichimaru...", he seemed to shudder at the thought of the snake-nin, "...let's not go there. Is that it, the secret to power is to let out your inner pervert, slacker or pea...other vices and bang, all of a sudden you're sannin level?"

Kisame's shoulders started to shake.

"I mean", Naruto carried on, seemingly oblivious to his audience while internally he was both praying for Jiraiya to get his act together and pull off a dramatic rescue and praying neither of the two missing-nins looked over his shoulder to see what a couple of his clones were up to in the room, "it must be me; I must have a sign over my head or something that says 'Uchiha-lover' – Sasuke's just the same", Itachi's eyes widened at the mention of the brother he'd abandoned but before he could get a word in edgeways Naruto had simply steam-rollered over him, "still, I guess I should have seen this coming", he sighed melodramatically, ever second precious to him as he carried on, "he takes after you in so many ways; you know, tall, dark, brooding and the personality of a half-brick in a sock, I suppose it's only natural his tastes developed similar to yours".

Kisame was forced to turn his back on the scene.

Man, is this guy made of porcelain or something?; it was working on the taller of the two as far as Naruto can see and hear, the muffled snorts of laughter coming from the back of the broad cloak giving the game away there, but Itachi seemed unmoved and Naruto was starting to sweat as he was starting to run out of material. He reached back into his mind for something else to go for and internally praying for a miracle when, just for once in his life, Kami took pity on him and sent an angel of mercy to guide him in this time of need,

"Itachi! Today is the day I avenge our clan!"

Thank you Sasuke; there was a first time for everything and gratitude for the teme of his class was definitely a first for Naruto – right now though he was desperate enough to take what he could get and to that end, before this whole thing devolved into fisticuffs and both he and Sasuke got their collective behinds beaten black and blue, he slapped a palm over his eyes and turned back towards Itachi, his tone long-suffering and tired,

"See what I mean; even after leaving Konoha I can't get rid of him. You know Sasuke", after dragging his hand down his face, he let his voice rise and cut through the younger Uchiha's posturing, "if you keep chasing after me people are really going to wonder if you're serious about resurrecting your clan. I can help with your ninja skill, your eating habits, blasphemer against the ramen gods that you are, and hell I could even have a go at changing your 'warm and sunny' personality, however I draw the line at us attempting procreation; it'll take a lot more than you copying and using my Sexy jutsu for me to see you as anything more than just a friend".

By now Kisame was leaning on the wall opposite him, hunched over and hammering on the plasterboard with unreleased laughter juddering through his body.

As Sasuke stood thunderstruck in the hallway, even his hatred for his brother buried under the shock of his blonde teammate's insinuations, Naruto capitalised on his advantage and looked Itachi directly in the eye; in shock, the Uchiha had failed to activate his Sharingan,

"I don't blame you, in fact I'm flattered and I'll even admit it as a casual observer; you both really pull off the bishounen look, you really make it work well for you but it just doesn't do anything for me. Sorry to break your heart like this but, still, look on the bright side, there are other fish in the sea, ah, no offence big-and-blue", even if Kisame heard him the shark-man was too far gone in holding back an outright breakdown into hysterics for the comment to register, "you'll find the right person eventually, just keep those red eyes open and a sexy pout on your lips and whammo, they'll be under your spell the second they let you get close enough. For now though, I've had a rough day so I'm going back to bed". With that, he slammed the door shut, nodded to his clones and began to frantically prepare his survival plan for the next few minutes.


Well, that was...unique; seeing the target quite literally shut the door on him like that was a first for the elder of the Uchiha siblings, though he discounted the jinchuuriki's earlier comments as false; truly you are Konoha's number-one surprising ninja Uzumaki Naruto. And there is the other annoyance to deal with as well; from the corner of his eye he could see his younger brother, still as foolish as he had been all those years ago, overcoming his surprise and getting ready to attack. Swiftly analysing the situation and reminding himself that murdering your partner was much frowned upon in the Akatsuki, even if said partner was currently bluer than usual in the face and biting holes in his cloak to stop himself laughing, Itachi made his commands,

"Kisame, detain the target while I deal with Sasuke; my brother requires another lesson". For a second he was unsure if the Kiri-nin heard him but as Kisame stood up tall and rubbed his eyes with his free hand, he was relieved to see the taller man nod his consent,

"Damn", the former member of the Seven Swordsmen shook his head as one hand curled around the handle of Samehada, "as corny as this sounds I really am going to regret this"; too true – kid should have been a court jester rather than a nin, can't remember the last time I had a laugh like that. With the memory of the recent monologue running through his mind, the half-shark brought his leg back and casually booted the door in, sending splinters everywhere.

Unfortunately, distracted as he was by his current good mood, it never even crossed Kisame's mind that his target might have taken precautions to defend himself and he therefore left himself open to the attack that hit him full in the face.

As any good prankster should, Naruto always kept a scroll full of his pranking material close at hand; after all, you never knew when inspiration for a really good prank would strike and there was nothing more frustrating than having the perfect plan mapped out in front of you but nothing to pull it off with. As Kisame cleared the threshold of the hotel room he found this out the hard way as a balloon filled with ink caught him full in the mush and burst open; though when diluted in water the ink was harmless (Naruto never intentionally incorporated anything that would hurt in his pranks just in case he hit the wrong person), concentrated it was a nasty skin irritant; it also didn't do much for the eyes either if the way Kisame suddenly howled like a baby and clutched a hand to his face was anything to go by. Casually deflecting Sasuke's rage-empowered blow with his elbow, Itachi had to catch himself from sighing and wondering what else was going to go wrong on this mission,

"That's it kid, I'm ripping your legs off", former funny comments forgotten, Kisame raged as he took wild one-handed swings with his weapon; Naruto ducked under one of the shark-mans' blows and made some hand-seals that were immediately swallowed up by Itachi's revealed Sharingan,

"Hmm, you're looking a bit green around the gills there", had he not been slightly pre-occupied with dodging and parrying his brothers' offence Itachi would have groaned at the lame pun at the same time as applaud the blonde shinobi for being able to throw his voice like that to confuse and misdirect his blinded opponent, "clear the decks, medical emergency, we've got a sick shark here...", there as a puff of smoke that quickly cleared to reveal a female Naruto clad in a nurse outfit that left little to the imagination; a henge, but why?; Itachi pondered the question as he casually caught his brother's lightning-encased fist and punched just above his elbow with his free hand, deadening Sasuke's arm and dispersing the technique. He caught his younger brother by the collar and hefted him from the floor in time to hear the last of Naruto's words,

"...Nurse Naruko to the rescue. Calm down Kisame-san, be a good boy and you might get a lollipop". The shark-man bellowed in rage, the noise making both Uchiha brothers look over at the ongoing fight and forget their quarrel for a minute,

"Forget the legs, everything below the waist is getting fed to Samehada, piece by piece!"

"Now, now calm down", Itachi wondered for a minute why Naruto had given away his position by not throwing his voice again; when the answer arrived a second later, however, he found himself regretting his curiosity, "I said...", the henged boy hopped back, the tip of the legendary blade ruffling the midriff of her uniform before dodging back inside Kisame's swing,

" off!"

There is a school of thought in the ninja world that states emotions make a shinobi weak; however Konoha as a majority did not subscribe to this belief and therefore taught its children to experience all the emotions life can bring. In addition, many emotions such as fear, rage and anger, to say nothing of the desire to protect something you love, can empower anyone to heights they never dreamed they could tap; Hyuuga Hinata's performance in the Chunin exams, gaining a glancing hit on her seemingly invincible prodigy of a cousin to prove herself to the one she fanned a flame for was proof enough of that. Sasuke's hatred for the man that had massacred his family was another, albeit darker, font of strength he could draw from, but regardless of the depths of his hatred there are some experiences even more primal, causing such bonding between humans of the same sex that they can smother all emotions and force even mortal enemies to react in a set, pre-determined pattern.

Therefore it should have been no surprise to anyone involved that when Uzumaki Naruto's henged foot landed with surgical precision in Hoshigaki Kisame's groin, two-thirds of the remaining Sharingan eyes in the world simultaneously watered in sympathy for the Mist-nin.

Sasuke even winced and added a small 'ooooh' to the proceedings.

Kisame for his part simply collapsed, Samehada clattering to the floor as the mist-nin's face went from ocean-blue to swamp-water green, both his eyes and mouth opened to their fullest extent. Both hands grabbing the new sun of pain that had eclipsed all other sensations in his world, he fell to his knees and came eye to streaming eye with the one responsible for this agony,

"There, that wasn't so bad", 'she' grinned before leaning forwards, "now stick out your tongue and say 'ahhh'".

"I'm gonna kill you kid"; the threat would have sounded more impressive if the one administering it wasn't talking in a voice that would have put a falsetto choir girl to shame. Seeing his partner incapacitated in such a below-the-belt manner (literally as well as figuratively), Itachi felt his patience finally snap; casually flinging Sasuke over Kisame's head and into the room, the Leaf traitor seized the henged Naruto by the back of 'her' uniform and brought her up to eye level, Sharingan spinning and morphing into the deadly Mangeykou form,

"No, put me down; bad Bishie", Naruto scolded before seeing the transformation of Itachi's eyes and grabbing for her top, yanking it downwards, "uh oh, Flash no jutsu!"

Itachi would have scoffed and claimed he was immune to such a crass technique, but the fact of the matter was that he was a man, he had urges that most of the time he suppressed very well and it was a very convincing henge Naruto had come up with – a combination of these reasons meant that for an instant his eyes were diverted from their original target. He had just enough time to notice the small strip of paper nestled between a relatively generous bosom before the tag went off and the world turned white.

Sasuke had been caught in the brightness as well but, as he'd been trying to recover his breath and had his eyes half-shut, to say nothing of the fact he was partially shielded behind Kisame's still-kneeling bulk meant he was only dazzled by the tag rather than blinded by it. He still felt battered and light-headed from the lack of air but pushed himself upright regardless, hatred alone forcing him upright – now was the chance to kill his brother, regardless of Naruto's interference. He glanced across, palming for a kunai, just in time to see the figure dropped by Itachi's reeling form vanish in smoke before he felt himself move against his will, as though someone had wrapped a thin twine around his waist and given it a hard yank. What, where the...ahhh!; gravity being the annoyance it was, Sasuke found himself falling down the side of a building with no idea how he'd got there; instinct took over and he adhered to the nearby surface with chakra, just in time to see another Naruto grab his hand and whisper urgently; his clones, he must have pulled me out the building with a substitution jutsu;

"Can you run?"

"Uh, yes but..." there was a sudden pull on his wrist and he was nearly jerked off his feet again,

"Then do it! That tag won't keep them busy for long and either of them could kill us blinded anyway".

"But", the bright dots imposed on his vision were playing tricks on his as it looked like Naruto had to wrestle a shiny white something into a pouch of his before carrying on, "Itachi..."

"Is going to be really pissed off when he can see again", Naruto cut him off as he jumped the last six feet to the floor, looking around for the next way to run, "he just owned you now even with chidori, you think he'll give you a chance now he's just been pranked?"

That was a valid point; despite his pride Sasuke was intelligent enough to know when he was beaten, though the fact his brother had defeated him so effortlessly was a bitter pill from him to swallow. Still, his eyesight was mostly regained he was in a position to run, there was just an annoyingly large green blob that had attached itself to the left and was moving forwards slowly, heading towards the lobby of the hotel they'd just abandoned. In fact, now that he saw it clearer, it looked like something he remembered, a lot like...


The jounin looked up just as Naruto turned around, still straining at Sasuke's hand to get him moving again; next second the two of them were moving together faster than either of them could have moved alone. Forsaking stealth for speed, Gai had seen the target he'd been sent to retrieve and took off, grabbing a boy in each hand and tearing for the outskirts of the town to put some distance between Naruto and the two who were hunting him. Buildings blurred past and the wind howled in his ears as the taijutsu master ran and didn't look back, as pre-occupied with his route and dodging civilians as his new charges were with keeping the last meals contained below their oesophagus's, none of the three hearing as, from the building they'd just abandoned, a final roar of mingled rage and shock echoed across the town.


Gai hadn't stopped running for hours, setting a furious pace away from the little town Naruto had come into earlier that day and stopping only when the sun was starting to set. Looking back with his chest heaving, the Leaf jounin set his charges down,

"Yosh, that should be enough to lose them"; neither Sasuke nor Naruto were in a fit state to answer; the nausea of the high-speed trip had made both boys lose their lunch, breakfast and was currently delving for last night's supper, "now we must hope our flames of youth burn bright enough to light the way for Jiraiya-sama to find us".

"No, no need", Naruto managed to croak out after flopping onto his back, "tracking seal, in my sock, he'll find us". There was a sudden ribbit from the side of him as a frog hopped into the clearing; a second later, all three watched on as a hand, then an arm, then the rest of Jiraiya emerged slimily from the toads' innards.

Even Gai looked grossed out by that one, though he managed to avoid disgracing himself like Sasuke and Naruto did.

"Ah, sorry about that but I had to get here fast", the sage apologised before his voice took on a hard edge and he folded his massive arms, "Naruto, what happened back there?" The gaki shot him a filthy glare and pouted,

"Because you had to go out researching I had to get away from his", he jerked a hand towards Sasuke, "older brother a big blue Mist-nin called Kisame". That got a response, for a minute he thought his current teacher would faint but Jiraiya managed to keep his composure and merely asked,


"Clones and a flash tag", Naruto shot back shortly, "then me and Sasuke pegged it out of there before they recovered and ran into Gai-sensei, he got us here". Unusually the jounin merely nodded, face serious as Jiraiya finally seemed to notice the Uchiha in the party,

"Sasuke, what are you doing here anyway?"

"Itachi and his partner were in Konoha; Kakashi is in hospital because of them. I knew he was following you, so I followed him to avenge my clan". Jiraiya considered this for a minute, finger on his chin, before nodding at the Uchiha,

"I understand", he just left it long enough to let the Uchiha look smug before delivering the cutting line, "you are an idiot".

Naruto had to clamp a hand over his mouth at the expression of his team mate as Jiraiya tore into him,

"You wanted to take on Itachi Uchiha, the man who destroyed an entire clan of ninja in one night, as a genin with one, maybe two, jutsu over B-rank? That's not a plan for anything other than suicide; Itachi does not care how skilled you think you are, or even that he's your brother, if you get in his way he will kill you. Get it through your head; you are not strong enough to even think about taking on a water-clone of Itachi yet – you need years of training and a back-up team before you can try to avenge your kin".


"But nothing", this time Naruto spoke, surprising those involved and making Sasuke curl his lip derisively, "look teme, back there you got the hell beaten out of you, I got us out of there and I'm the only reason we got out of there, right or wrong?" Sasuke glowered at the reminder but, eventually had to confess,


"Okay, progress; want to know how I did that? How I pulled one over on your brother? It's easy, I didn't do what he told me to do, I did something different and it caught him flat-footed, exactly what you haven't been doing all these years. What did he say Sasuke, on that night, what did he tell you to do; I know he said something, it was chucked around the Academy enough and some of the others there had family in high places".

The last loyal Uchiha said nothing for a minute but seemed to be thinking over Naruto's words; this in itself was a sign of progress as far as the blonde was concerned as he suspected Sasuke hadn't taken a blind bit of notice of anything he'd said for the past fourteen or so years. The onyx-eyed child looked away but, eventually spoke in a grating whisper,

"Hate", his answer began, "he said to hate him and grow strong, then I could stand before him when I had the same eyes he did".

"And you believed him", Naruto slapped his forehead – it was either that or he was certain he'd slap Sasuke, "for Kami's sake, they call me a dobe. Just think about this Sasuke, use that genius brain of yours; Itachi kills your clan and leaves you, a potential rival right? So what's he going to do to make sure you don't grow into a threat to him? How about, tell you exactly what not to do in the hope you're dumb enough to listen to him and, guess what, he was right; you've swallowed the crap he told you without even thinking about it and it's led you to this", he gestured with his hand, measuring the Uchiha up and down, "rushing in without thinking, trying to take on a superior opponent from the front with an assassination jutsu; the clue's in the title genius. Just", suddenly he felt tired, exhausted by what he'd just done and the fact that he'd got away with it – he did not have time to put up with Sasuke now, "go back to Konoha, we'll bring back this Tsunade and heal up Kakashi. Just remember this though, if you keep listening to Itachi and using hatred to grow strong, eventually someone or something", he pointed towards a spot on the other boy's neck, Sasuke reflexively flinching to cover up the Curse Seal of Oroichimaru, "is going to tempt you away from Konoha. When that happens, someone is going to have to stop you leaving, and that will probably have to be me".

Sasuke would have scoffed at this; Naruto had been lucky earlier, that was the only reason he was still alive – on an equal footing Sasuke knew he would crush the Uzumaki into paste all day long. However, looking into the eyes suddenly full of a brilliant blue fire, backed up with a will that simply did not know how to say the word 'quit', the loyal Uchiha found himself a little less sure of his victory than he would have liked as the other ninja finished his impromptu speech,

"Don't make me choose between my friend and my village Sasuke", Naruto's words were calm and measured, but the underlying threat was unmistakeable, "because I'm not sure what my answer would be".

Sasuke wasn't sure what to say to that so said nothing, merely shrugging and not reacting as Gai put a hand on his shoulder tentatively,

"Come Sasuke-kun, we have to go back to Konoha now".

"Hn", Sasuke nodded before, just as he was about to turn away, he paused unexpectedly, "hey dobe", Naruto looked up at his unofficial name, "for the save back there", Sasuke knew this was going to hurt but he could do nothing but try to stomach his pride this time around, "thanks".

Now that was unexpected; Naruto honestly couldn't remember the last time Sasuke had apologised to him, or to anyone else for that matter, but he'd take what he could get and decided to leave it at that,

"Any time teme, it's what friends are for after all. Anyway, when you get back tell Sakura-chan I'm okay and we'll be back with Ero-sennin's team mate soon". Sasuke nodded and wordlessly turned towards Gai, dogging the older man's footsteps as the Green Beast of Konoha started making tracks back towards the Leaf village. Naruto watched them go before turning to Jiraiya, fingering something in one of his pouches before the looking up at the sage,

"So, was she worth it?" That wasn't the first question the Gama sennin had anticipated,


"The girl", Naruto explained with a long-suffering air, "you know, the one you were after while I was taking care of a couple of S-ranked nuke-nins?"

"Oh her, well", Jiraiya thought it prudent not to mention to his student that he'd been had by a genjutsu cast over the woman, the last thing he needed now was to give Naruto any more ammunition after the boy had just done his protection job for him, "yes, she was a rare beauty, but as soon as I heard of your distress I had to leave her and come running to your..."

"Che, save the fiction for your Icha Icha Ero-sennin". There was a sudden thump, followed by a yelp of pain,

"I don't care how many nuke-nins you run away from, stop calling me that!"


"So", Jiraiya hadn't written a word down but it didn't matter; he was certain this story was one he was never going to forget for the rest of his life, "you're telling me you managed to escape, with your team mate, from two S-rank missing-nins, including probably the strongest traitor to ever come out of Konoha, using a couple of shadow clones, a balloon filled with ink, a flash tag and your Sexy jutsu?" Naruto nodded at the succinct summary,

"Pretty much", he commented breezily, one hand continually caressing one of the spines of the creature still draped over his lap; hearing the thing sigh again at the attention, Jiraiya pointed his pen at the still-nameless monster,

"So how does it growling at me?" Noticing the change in pitch, Naruto's face grew hard,

"Probably; oi", he said, an air of annoyance about him as he flicked one of the spines sharply, "no growling at Ero-sennin, he's a friend". Suitably chastised, the thing seemed to settle back down, though Jiraiya had a suspicion it was somehow keeping an eye on him as Naruto spoke again, both hands behind his head and a pleased grin on his face,

"Happened when I dragged Sasuke out the room; after all, Kisame had just threatened to chop my legs off so I thought, he'll have a hard job if he's got nothing to cut with"; oh no, not even he would...; Jiraiya had a sinking feeling in his gut that only got worse as his student's smile broadened, "so I made a second clone and had it substitute at the same time the other one did with Sasuke, managed to seal her into a scroll while he was still blinking spots out his eyes; okay", he spoke to the thing on his lap, "enough for now; back to what you used to be".

The Toad Sage was so desperate for his guess to be wrong but, as the spikes receded and fanged grin seemed to meld together into another, more recognisable form, he buried his face in his hands and despaired,

"Samehada", ashen-faced, he looked up at his pupil again, not believing Naruto would do something so simultaneously brilliant and stupid, "you stole, Samehada; Naruto, do you know what that sword even is?"

"I know it was hungry", the blonde shinobi said nonchalantly as he stood up, "poor thing, no wonder it ate everyone's chakra like there was no tomorrow, Kisame must have kept her starving on purpose to do that – now I owe him another kick in the nuts". Having said his piece the Hokage-to-be grabbed the handle of his new weapon and, with a grunt of effort, placed it awkwardly on his shoulder before looking at his mentor,

"Coming Ero-sennin; I'm a bit tired, Samehada; hmm, have to see if I can change that name, I don't like it; anyway, she really took it out of me so I could use a lie-down". Overwhelmed by miracles, Jiraiya simply nodded dumbly and stood up, his voice deadened as he asked another question that had become obvious to him,

"Naruto, how can you even pick that sword up? It should stab anyone but Kisame who tries to use it". He grinned ruefully, holding up his left hand and displaying the palm; even with his healing factor, Jiraiya could see recent lacerations in his skin that hadn't fully regenerated yet,

"She did at first; even when I sealed her in a scroll the first time she slashed me a few times", he griped before patting the pommel of the legendary blade, "I was out here trying to figure out why when I channelled some of my...other chakra", Jiraiya nodded to show he understood; despite being what he was, Kyuubi was still a sore subject for Naruto to discuss, "just to see what would happen. That was probably what woke you up; Samehada transformed into that sword you saw and it caught me a bit off-guard, but since then she just took a couple of bites out of my chakra and we've been good".

Only you Naruto; he already knew the boy could win over hearts and minds like no-one else he knew – it was the reason he'd decided to take the gaki along on this trip in the first place, but this was something else; only you could pilfer a Mist-nin's sword and make it yours in the space of less than a night. Still numb but with ideas and questions pouring through his mind at a rapid rate of knots, mostly involving just how powerful Naruto was likely to become with that blade now backing up his already monstrous chakra reserves, one last thing about his students recent speech made him pause and then shudder suddenly,

"Ne, Naruto", the shinobi looked over both his shoulder and Samehada's blade as Jiraiya fought to master his voice, "how do you know that blade is a she?" To his relief the brat looked perplexed before shrugging,

"Tenten-chan always said most swords have female names and I wasn't sure what this one was called, so she's got to be a she; oh I never thought of that", a devious grin flitted across his lips for a minute, "I've got to show her this when I get back, she'll go green with envy, no, scratch green, she'll turn puce seeing me with a legendary sword".

Filled with a cackling glee Naruto headed for his bed, not noticing as Jiraiya behind him paused and turned thankful eyes to the heavens; it's just a convention not a fact; breathing out a sigh of relief, he gave the back of Samehada a last wary glance before following after his student; after what I've seen tonight, that'd be a date even I wouldn't want to go on!

Sui: ... I don't really have anything to say... Anyone up for clicking the review buttion?