Escape Tactics

By TwinEnigma

Warnings: Pre-Summit, expansion of the microfic accompanying the Icha Icha Escape Tactics drawing on my deviantart, follows ficlet #12 in the third chapter of my Spice and Ice and Everything Nice fanfic.

Characters: Naruto, Sasuke, Karin, Kakashi

Disclaimer: Do not own Naruto or characters therein, do not write this for profit, just for fun.

Naruto quickly pushed through the crowd of midday shoppers, Kakashi no more than a half-step behind. The retrieval team had managed to track Sasuke's scent to this large border town and, seeing an opportunity to box the wayward ninja in, they'd split up and slowly started moving in towards the center of town.

Then, shortly after hitting the central market, Naruto had caught a fleeting glimpse of the Uchiha fan on a high-collared white shirt.

"Excuse me, pardon me, coming through," he muttered automatically, shoving through a particularly thick group of shoppers. Wincing in the bright sunlight, he raised a hand to shield his eyes from the glare and again spotted the high collar of the white shirt further up the street, disappearing under a shop awning.

"Sasuke!" he shouted, launching forward and elbowing his way past another person. "Sasuke!"

Under the awning, it was much darker and his eyes hadn't caught up with the change in light yet, but he could see the silhouette of that tell-tale hairstyle, the one that resembled a duck's ass. It was odd, but Sasuke didn't appear to have heard him. Just as well, Naruto thought: there were too many civilians here for them to get into a fight. And, stranger still, he was walking with someone – a dark-haired girl with her hair in a high ponytail.

Naruto sped up, reaching out, and grabbed him by the arm, just as they stepped out into the light.

"Sas-Oh! Oh, I'm sorry, I thought you were someone else," Naruto rubbed his head sheepishly, avoiding the confused look the redheaded boy he'd stopped was giving him. "It's the clothes and the hairstyle."

Indeed, it looked like this boy and Sasuke had the same tailor and hairstylist, right down to that stupid purple rope belt and spiky locks. In fact, if Naruto didn't think Sasuke was far too proud to do it, he'd believe Sasuke switched clothes with this kid just to throw them off the scent.

"See, I told you it was a popular look," the dark haired girl said smugly, looking at what must have been her boyfriend - they were holding hands and all. She was quite pretty, too, and Naruto had to admit he thought her boyfriend was pretty lucky – those legs went on forever and those mini-shorts were nigh criminal.

Not that she was his type or anything – Sage's balls, she looked like she could be Sasuke's sister, if he had one – and Naruto's heart was already taken. Still, he was only a guy and he did know hot chicks when he saw them.

"Obviously," the redheaded teen said, a hint of amusement on his lips.

"Have you seen anyone else about your height, wearing something similar?" Naruto asked, "I'm looking for... a friend."

The girl fidgeted nervously and her boyfriend smiled as he said, "I'm sorry, we haven't. We were just passing through."

The teen then leaned forward, pushing up his glasses on his nose, and, in an exaggerated stage whisper, said, "Actually, we just eloped and we're fleeing our parents, so if you wouldn't mind not mentioning you saw us..."

Naruto nodded, "Oh, of course! Good luck, you two!"

The girl chewed her lip, a smile threatening to break out, and the two of them disappeared down the street.

Two minutes later, it hit Naruto: "GODDAMN IT! It was them, wasn't it?"

Kakashi looked thoughtful. "Sexy Jutsu, eh? Well-played, Sasuke, well-played."