Hey peeps! Bones is back working on Hold My Hand, after about a million years...Sorry. Don't kill me, I promise to make the chapter as bad ass as possible!
Disclaimer: I don't own our favorite Orange Hokage-to-be Uzumaki Naruto, but I do own a nice shiny pair of brass knuckles...I think I may pay a visit to Japan...
Chapter 7: Burn by Papa Roach
"You seriously didn't fucking know they named the bridge after you?" Tayuya asked with a smirk as they walked through the town. The blind blonde was pouting as they walked, unseen by the villagers as his hood was up over his head to keep people from A; stare at his eyes or B; crowd him and shower him with thanks as Tazuna had warned him about. He was still trying to get over having a bridge named after him, and the fact the village was grateful enough to mob him...it was a hard thought to grasp in the neglected container's mind.
"Ah, don't go blaming the poor brat," Tazuna said as he started to defend the blonde, "Not his fault we named it after him...Oh wait, he is the 'Hero of Wave', so I guess it is his fault!"
"Screw you, ya drunk bastard!" Naruto growled at the now belly-laughing man, before he stopped. His head swiveled around and his 'sight' scanned the area. The black and white of his vision caught every feature, every face, and every set of eyes, but something was still wrong.
Someone was watching them.
Suddenly, Naruto's sword was out to deflect a senbon needle, the sound of the pin being deflected making Tayuya pull a kunai out as she pushed Tazuna down.
"It was a warning, Tay-chan," Naruto growled as he sheathed his blade and knelt down to pick the senbon up, "A warning that we need to decipher..."
"Or," Tayuya said with a smirk as she snatched the senbon from her blind crush's hand, "We could read the 'Get lost' that's carved into it...Dumbass."
Naruto pouted at the redhead before he snatched it back and muttered out, "Shut up, Tay-chan..."
He was cuffed upside the head by a red-faced flutist, making their charge howl with laughter and slap his leg. The hooded blonde's hidden eyes locked a glare on the bridge builder before he looked at the amused redhead. He crossed his arms and addressed the alcoholic native to Nami no Kuni with a bit of irritability in his voice, "Oi! Just take us back to your home, ya old, no good drunk!"
"Watch your mouth, brat!" Tazuna shot back with a smirk as he began walking, "Ladies don't like it when boys disrespect their elders, that and I doubt the village would like it if you made fun of their governor."
"...Oh dear Kami, they put you in charge?" Naruto mocked with faux horror on his face before looking at the smirking redhead, "We're walking into a Drunk's Village...its like Baachan all over again!"
Tayuya burst out laughing and Tazuna sent a small glare at the boy that was exaggerating concern for the village's state.
On a rooftop just a bit away, a shadow revealed itself and followed them as they walked with a telescope. A dark cloak covered the person and on their face was a dirtied white mask that had faded red paint in a familiar pattern, including four carved lines in the dead center of the mask's forehead. The masked figure lowered their telescope and pressed the side of their mask. Quietly, the masked being spoke with a soft yet scratchy voice, "As we feared, it's Konohagakure that the drunk hired...They got the message...I'm sure of it...As you wish, Ringo-sama."
The figure removed the finger activating the microphone and continued with a disguised voice, "However...completing our mission will be much harder if he is in the village. We meet again...Naruto."
Naruto snapped his head around as his inhuman hearing picked up what sounded like the last syllable of his name. He looked back at his teammate when she tapped his shoulder, his purple eyes locking with her brown ones.
"What'd ya hear, shithead?" Tayuya asked. Naruto looked back in the direction of the syllable's origin before looking back at his friend with a foxy grin.
"Ah, it was nothing' Tay-chan," the blonde replied before resuming his walk up the steps to where Tazuna was waiting in front of the modest wooden door that made up his home's entrance. The bridge builder stood in a proud stance before his larger home, which made Naruto leaned back and whistled.
"Compensating for something, ya ole drunk?" Naruto asked with a scratch of his cheek and an arched brow. Tazuna fell flat on his face at the question. Tayuya smirked and crossed her arms over her chest before throwing in her own jibe, "Yeah, I mean, sure it's big, but does it have to be this big?"
"Ungrateful little...Tsunami-chan! Inari! I'm back with the ninja...Again!" he chuckled out as he entered the house. Naruto stopped Tayuya from following their employer with a light hand on her arm.
"Summon your Doki to do a few rounds and I'll have a few Bunshin waiting around," he suggested. The flutist blinked at his plan before nodding and pulling her hand-made flute out, playing the required notes to bring forth her most useful summons when it came to being a bodyguard. Naruto made a small squadron of clones and dispersed them amongst the grounds just before her instructional notes finished. The blonde looked at his redheaded teammate and held his hands before him with a slight bow, "Ladies first, Tay-chan."
Tayuya frowned, "Stop using what those whores taught you, shithead, it makes me sick..."
Despite her words, she led the blind blonde into the home of the bridge builder. She was impressed at the detail while Naruto groaned before whistling in a high pitch. Covering her ears, Tayuya released a growl when the ringing stopped and rounded on her blind crush.
"The fuck was that for! You could have made me deaf, you dumbass!" she berated the hooded shinobi after lightly thumping him on the head with the palm of her hand. Naruto rubbed the spot she struck and gave her the equivalent of a light glare.
"I couldn't see, Tayuya. The acoustics in here are different than outside. I had to regain my eyesight," he explained before he was barreled over by a green blur. Tayuya was on defense in an instant, a kunai in her hand to strike at her friend's attacker, but stopped when Naruto chuckled.
"Hey Inari! Long time no see, eh, crybaby?" he teased as the attacker looked at him with a beaming smile; the redhead assumed the attacker was smiling by his body stance due to her still being unable to see the attacker's face. Tayuya examined the boy quickly and quietly: He was nearly two heads shorter than the blonde he had taken down, and had the build of a normal civilian boy in a modest economic situation; on his head was a tan bucket hat with a green strap around it, covering messy raven locks that stuck out here and there; covering his legs and chest was a green set of overalls, and to be honest, he looked like he was covered in sawdust.
"Naruto-niisan! You're here to save the village again!" the boy, Inari, exclaimed. Naruto laughed sheepishly and scratched the back of his hooded head.
"Yeah...guess I am. Now get off, I'm losing the feeling in my stomach because you're so fat!" he joked with a shove to the younger boy. Inari quickly stood and helped the blonde to his feet. Naruto rolled his shoulders and placed a hand on his back before looking down at the civilian, "Geez, what's Tsunami-san feeding you? Lard?"
"How rude, Naruto-kun! And to think, I prepared my famous Nikujaga just for your arrival!" a motherly voice called from the hallway. Tayuya and Naruto looked to see a young woman mock glaring at the hooded shinobi that stood next to her son. She had a blue apron on over a pink shirt and a dark skirt. Her navy hair was up in a bun, leaving two bangs to frame her face. Naruto had the decency to blush and scratch his cheek.
"Ne, gomen Tsunami-san," he apologized with a small chuckle. Tayuya gave the woman a once over before nudging Naruto in the side. The blonde turned his head to glance at her before looking back at the family he had befriended months ago with a beaming smile. He pulled his hood down and shut his eyes as he grinned, "So what's for dinner?"
That earned him a fist to the head. Naruto whined from his crouched position as his annoyed teammate remained in her post-striking one, growling out, "Don't act like you didn't fucking understand me, Shithead!"
Naruto rubbed his head and sent a glare to the redhead before looking back at the family of three, "Fine. Tsunami, Inari-oututo, this is Tayuya-chan. Tayuya-chan, Tsunami and Inari-oututo. There, I introduced you, can I eat now?"
The lingering odor had been assaulting his nostrils since Tsunami had left the food to sit, and the shinobi with four senses was starting to succumb to the scent. Tayuya rolled her eyes and prepared to berate the blonde when Tsunami spoke up, "Well, I'll admit I'm surprised you brought your girlfriend along but she does look more capable than Sakura-san did."
Naruto and Tayuya's faces turned bright red at the insinuation and they both quickly shouted, "WE ARE NOT DATING!"
Tazuna covered his mouth with his fist and coughed, suspiciously sounding like barely repressed laughter. Inari looked from his idol, to the redhead, and back multiple times with a confused look on his face before he shuddered. Girls are icky and have cooties...why would Naruto want to be with one?
Tsunami merely smiled and said with an underlying tone of disbelief, "Oh, I see, how silly of me."
Naruto huffed and looked away, accepting the response for what it was. Tayuya, having a bit more insight to the woman tongue, flushed darker and growled, "For the love of Kami-sama...This Shithead and I. Are. Not. Dating!"
"Of course, of course," Tsunami waved off with a free hand as she went back to the kitchen, "Please don't swear in my house, Tayuya-san!"
Tayuya fumed for a moment before looking at the blonde, "I don't like her..."
Naruto rolled his eyes and shook his head. The woman said she believed them and, to his naïve boyish mind, he believed her. Tayuya's lack of trust was really going to kick them in the butt one day...
The blonde looked at their host and grinned, "So, who's our big target, Tazuna?"
The drinking construction worker's humor fell and an uneasy silence filled the room before he gestured for the two teens to follow him. Naruto and Tayuya exchanged a glance before following Tazuna into the same room Kakashi had been laid in after his encounter with Zabuza. Recognizing the room, Naruto made a mental note to stop by the Kiri nuke-nin's grave before the mission was over.
The bridge builder sat and silently instructed them to do the same before he looked at the blonde with hardened eyes, "Do you remember the Demon Brothers?"
Tsunami had entered the room with Inari, handing the two shinobi small cups and pouring them tee, but after mentioning the two shinobi that had nearly ended his career early, Naruto spat his small sip out in surprise. The blind shinobi blinked before scowling. With a tone Tayuya hadn't heard unless he was really pissed, Naruto said one word; "Elaborate."
"The two bastards have rallied the stray swords-for-hire Gato left behind and have been stirring trouble for our village and my family," the old bridge builder said, "In fact, the two boys you had dealt with were the sons of a nearby farmer who has been lurking around for more land even before Gato was dead. Though he was much more subtle when that little turd was around. I'd bet my last sake bottle that those two bastards told him about the acre of land that I invested in."
"So...You want us to take care of Gozu and Meizu?" Naruto asked, his sightless eyes narrowing, "Anything else?"
Tazuna's frown increased, "Actually, there's been word that someone else is giving them instructions."
"Someone else?" Tayuya asked with her own frown.
"Yeah," the governor replied with obvious unease in his voice, "the most recent storm was strange and for the life of me I can't understand it. Not to mention the lightning seems to stay away from the village and is drawn somewhere else."
"You want us to investigate it," Naruto concluded with a furrowed brow as he put his chin on top of his interlocked hands, "With good reason, too. Zabuza could manipulate the mist around him by spreading out his chakra, and according to Ero-sennin, Kisame's sword has an ability to shred rather than cut and absorb chakra like a leech. With the Demon Brothers so used to working under a Swordsman, you're afraid they managed to find another. One who can control storms."
"Damn, brat," Tazuna whistled, "You've sure gotten smarter."
"Don't inflate his head with a fucking pack of lies, you Old Fart," Tayuya snorted as Naruto hung his head with a sigh, "Shithead may have the occasional bout of genius, but he tends to be an idiot."
"So cruel..." Naruto whimpered. Before Tayuya could retort, Tsunami called for them to come eat.
Shortly after a warm meal and a few tales from Inari about what he's been doing with his life, the two shinobi left the house to do two things. One of the tasks was to gather information on the current band of swordsmen. The other was to visit the graves of Zabuza and Haku.
They were currently walking up the side of the hill to said graves, Naruto explaining to Tayuya his shock when he met Haku.
"So let me get this straight," Tayuya started with a smirk to the embarrassed blonde, "You met this faggot when he was picking herbs to heal Zabuza, and thought he was a fucking girl? Is he that fucking girly?"
"Well, yeah...Not to mention he sounded and moved like one..." Naruto replied.
Tayuya glanced at him with a frown, "What the fuck does that mean? 'Moved like one'?"
"Uh...Oh, look we're here!" Naruto said, changing the subject with masking excitement to cover for his nervousness. The two walked further into the brush, but froze in shock when the came across the gravesite. Naruto tried to start a sentence, but Tayuya beat him to it.
"Shithead, why the fuck is that grave dug up!?" the redhead asked with a hint of fear in her voice as her imagination began to run wild.
"I don't know!" Naruto replied, frowning as he ran to the open grave and kneeling next to it, "It doesn't make sense!"
"Here's another good fucking question," Tayuya started as she looked at the other grave before pointing, "Why the hell would anyone not take that fucking thing?"
"The Kubikiribocho is heavy," Naruto replied as he continued to examine Haku's empty grave, "And Zabuza didn't have any special bloodlines...Haku did."
"What, you sayin' the snake-pedo came through here?" the girl asked as she approached the famous sword and investigated it. There were a few cracks along the edge and she lifted a finger to test its sharpness when Naruto growled.
"He took a Rakiri to the chest, couldn't that have been enough?" Naruto asked under his breath. Tayuya turned away from the sword and went to her friend's side. The hooded blind shinobi was trembling in repressed anger and tears, prompting the normally vulgar redhead to hesitantly put a hand on his shoulder. Naruto's face turned towards hers, revealing red tears threatening to spill from his eyes, "Who would do this?"
Tayuya frowned and knelt next to the blonde, leaving her hand on his shoulder, "I don't know Shithead, but we could always find the fuckers and kick their asses."
Naruto smirked and lifted his arm to clear away the bloody tears, "Yeah...Thanks Tay-chan..."
"Tch, don't get all sappy on me, Shithead," Tayuya muttered with a blush as she averted her eyes. Damn the blonde for getting under her skin and breaching her heart's well-developed walls. She couldn't stand to see him like this, and she had only done so once before, earlier on their journey.
Naruto sighed and reached into the grave where the dirt had been pressed from Haku's body. He scooped the dirt up and crushed it in his fist as he silently vowed to find the one that desecrated one of his first friends' grave. As he brought his hand back to his body, a new scent hit his nose. It was weak, but he could smell it. It smelled like cooked fish, with a hint of a sea breeze. He didn't notice it before with Tayuya's strawberry scent so close and Haku's body's faint frost-like one engulfing the area.
"I've got a scent," he realized before looking at the redhead with a grin, "I've got a scent!"
"Wha-Hey, wait, where the fuck are you going, Shithead?" Tayuya demanded when the blonde suddenly ran off into the forest. With a growl, the girl immediately followed. A few minutes of chasing later and the redhead caught up with her blind crush.
"What's your plan, Shithead?"
"Track 'em; find 'em; kill 'em!" Naruto replied without deviating from his path as he ran through the woods, performing acts of impressive acrobatics. Tayuya sighed and moved from the forest floor to the trees, preferring the high route that she had grown used to opposed to the lower one that Naruto preferred.
Unbeknownst to the two, they were being followed by the same shadow that chased them earlier. A frown marred the hidden nin's face as they thought, Who are you tracking, Naruto? Who do you want to kill?
Naruto continued to run until he skidded to a stop in a large clearing, his unique eyesight catching every detail thanks to the various critters in the forest and their chatter. Before him was a scorched campsite, various bodies all curled up from being fried by some sort of attack.
The lighting was striking a campground? Naruto thought with a frown. Tayuya landed next to him, equally surprised by the discovery and vocalized her thoughts.
"Well...If my guess is right, our mission just got a whole-fucking lot easier."
"No kidding," Naruto replied as he started to walk through the clearing, examining various bodies and what remains of their clothing. Grabbing a charred piece of cloth, he brought it to his face and sniffed before holding it away from him with a look of disgust, "Ugh, smells like burnt ramen."
Tayuya rolled her eyes at his words, "That's because it's the worst fucking thing in your retarded mind to smell, dumbass."
Naruto tossed the rag away and pointed at the girl, "Hey, don't mock me Tay-chan. Just wait until you get a bowl that was left to cook for too long. You'll see what I mean."
"Tch, whatever Shithead," Tayuya replied with a frown before kneeling next to two corpses with what appeared to be a chain wrapped around them. They were back to back with their arms at their sides and their heads down. She knelt in front of one and began to examine it for any recognizable features when its eyes suddenly snapped opened and a rattle left its mouth. Frightened, the redheaded girl released a very female scream of, "HOLY FUCKING SHIT!"
"What? What is it?" Naruto asked as he appeared next to the startled girl, before focusing on the rattling voice and its origin. The blonde took a step back out of shock, "FUCK!"
"I know right? How the fuck is that asshole still alive? He's fucking charred worse than the pervert's steak was!" Tayuya replied with disgust.
Naruto turned to respond to her when his ears caught a faint, scratchy, "K...m..."
Turning to the charred man, Naruto sent more chakra to his ears and asked, "What did you say?"
"Shithead, he's been burnt to Hell, he can't-" "Shut up, Tayuya!" Naruto snapped, silencing the girl immediately as he looked back at the man, "I'm trying to listen."
Tayuya scowled and looked away, hiding the faint blush she had from his commanding tone. Ignorant of the girl's reaction to his words, the blonde looked at the charred man and asked again, "What did you say?"
The two words that left the mans mouth in a quiet scratchy voice weren't that unsurprising, "Kill...me..."
Cutting the additional flow a chakra from his ears, Naruto sighed and unsheathed his blade, "As you wish."
Tayuya watched with veiled interest as the blonde walked towards the bound man. Pulling back his blade, Naruto ended the man's life with a quick stab to the man's heart. Bowing his head, the blind blonde whispered, "Yasuraka ni nemure."
Pulling the blade out, Naruto flicked it to the side to rid it of the blackened skin and blood that accompanied the act before he sheathed his sword. With a sigh, Naruto knelt in front of the dead man to close his eyes when his knee brushed over something sharp. Looking down, Naruto's eyes widened when his unique sight coasted over the man's left hand. Covering it was a blackened gauntlet, the chain wrapped around the two corpses came from there.
"Meizu..." he said in realization before looking at the body behind the now known chunin nukenin, "And that's Gozu."
"Wait, these are the fucks we were hired to kill?" Tayuya asked before tensing, "Then...who the fuck killed them?"
"That's a very good question," Naruto replied before swiveling around and tossing a kunai at the trees. His action caused Tayuya to spin around and face the direction. A muffled tree branch was heard by the blonde and he clenched his jaw, "Back to back, Tayuya. We don't know how many there are."
"Right," the girl replied before they moved into position. They stood back to back as Naruto suggested, Tayuya's hand on the sheathed flute resting behind her while the blonde reached for the blade on his back. While he had trained faintly in the art with a toad that was particularly skilled in kenjutsu, Naruto still wasn't a master or anywhere near being one; nevertheless, he'd do what he could to protect his teammate/friend.
A feminine giggle echoed throughout the clearing and the sky slowly darkened. Naruto and Tayuya felt their bodies tense as adrenaline started to coarse through their veins. The womanly giggle became a voice and she spoke, "My, oh my. What an adorable little duo that has come to my plate. A scrumptious looking young man and his equally delicious partner...Who should I eat first?"
"This chick has issues..." Tayuya muttered, earning a slight nod from her companion.
"Hehehehehe, so you're the ones that the good ole governor hired to kill these sorry excuses for swordsmen and shinobi? I can at least say the man has good taste."
"Why don't you come out and face us?" Naruto asked cautiously. Another branch shifting was heard and his sight focused on it instinctively.
"Because there's no fun in an immediate face off, my scrumptious little shinobi," a voice whispered in his ear. Naruto and Tayuya jumped away, both landing at the same side of the clearing when the mysterious woman appeared near them.
The woman stood just a bit taller than them, with bandages loosely tied around her neck. She wore hakama-like pants with striped legwarmers beneath them pooling over her sandals. The woman wore a loose pinstriped shirt with a dark obi, hiding most of her figure. The most distinctive part of her appearance however was her long red hair and the odd red cloth she wore along with her sliced through Kiri hitai-ate. Her feminine features included thin lips and dark eyes that seemed to stare into your soul like a shark. Not to mention the two swords sheathed on her back.
She smiled and Naruto made a correction with his description.
The most distinctive features she had was her sharpened teeth.
Shit, she's one of the Swordsmen, Naruto thought with a grimace, Hopefully she wasn't too close to Zabuza or knows I was part of the team that saw him die.
The woman seemed to smile wider as she noticed where Naruto's right hand was, "A fellow swordsman...Interesting...And a Konoha brat at that. How very interesting."
"What are you doing here?" Naruto asked wearily as Tayuya brought her flute to her lips. The woman smirked.
"What, you don't want to know my name?" she asked, feigning a pout, "How rude."
Naruto bit back a growl and decided to keep the foreign kunoichi pleased by asking, "Who are you?"
"Much better!" the woman replied with a smirk, "My name is Ringo Ameyuri, now, may I ask for yours?"
Naruto frowned, "Uzumaki Naruto."
That earned him a quirked eyebrow, "Uzumaki? Strange...And your little girlfriend here?"
"I'm not shithead's girlfriend!" Tayuya snarled, "My name is Tayuya."
"The North Gate...You've made quite a name for yourself young lady," Ameyuri said with a smirk, "Shame you both have to die. You'd both no doubt become worthy meals for my Fangs."
Naruto fully unsheathed his own 'fang', "Yeah, well let's see whose got more bite."
"Hehehe, oh how I love good wordplay with my meals...However, two on one seems so unfair. Oh Hunter-san~!" Ameyuri sang out as she reached behind her to grasp her own weapons. Naruto tensed and his heart pounded in his chest as he laid eyes upon the figure that appeared next to the Kiri nukenin in a swirl of snowflakes. The mask, the same mask he had shattered with his own fist so long ago and then repaired to properly mark a certain grave, stared mockingly at him.
Tayuya noticed Naruto's fists clenching and could feel the killer intent leaking off of him. She knew something was wrong the second this Hunter-nin appeared in the clearing. With a scowl on her face, she glared at the masked one. The mysterious shinobi tilted his head slightly before he spoke, his voice no louder than a whisper and a tad scratchy.
"It's good to see you again, Naruto-kun."
Naruto let a growl escape his bared teeth, "Who are you?"
"How mean. Are you sure this is the boy you remember Hunter-san?" Ameyuri asked with a smirk as the hooded blonde's rage started to grow.
The nin nodded before replying, "I'm positive."
"Tell me who you are so I can at least know the name of the bastard that desecrated my friend's grave!" Naruto demanded as his purple eyes turned violet and his whisker marks darkened.
"Has it really been that long for you to forget me?" The nin asked with his head tilted to the other side.
"I don't know you, but I know who you're impersonating, and it's pissing me the fuck off!"
The nin said nothing before giving a sigh and reaching up with a pale hand to grasp the mask that shielded his face. Naruto and Tayuya tensed as a soft click was heard. Slowly the mask lowered and Naruto felt his rage plummet as disbelief took over. Tayuya frowned in confusion and glanced at her crush when he gasped.
Staring at the now unmasked nin, Naruto stuttered, "B-But...How?"
"I owe my life to Ringo-sama, Naruto-kun," the nin said as a serene smile came over his face, "I'm sorry, but it seems like we must fight once again, as I am Ringo-sama's tool."
Naruto's fists clenched and he frowned, "You haven't changed a bit...Haku."
AN: And it's back. You know you loved it. How was Haku revived? Why isn't Ameyuri dead? What is their mission, anyway? Until next time on Hold My Hand.