You people have no faith! Seriously, oh my god, over ninety percent of all the reviews to last chapter were just people telling me how horrible it is that Naruto's leaving and how they're actually dropping my story because of it. Seriously? Actual canon has made far bigger jumps and people just shrug them off like it's nothing but I make Naruto leave Konoha and suddenly the world is ending! I mean what the fuck people? Have some faith in me, I know what I'm doing here. I've been planning this from the beginning and while I knew I was going to get some people mad this many is just ridiculous! So please, just go ahead and read this chapter and the next at least before deciding whether or not to drop it. I have a plan and I'm positive that most of you will like it, even the people that want to quit reading this now.

Anyways, no review responses this time. Everyone was either saying they were dropping this or just commenting on Naruto's decision and asking for the next chapter.

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29 – Running to Nowhere

"Good morning Tsunade." Sarutobi called out as he opened the door with a smile, only to drop it instantly into a scowl at see how she was issuing orders to a couple jonin with a scowl of her own. The jonin both nodded and left as the woman slumped in her seat and sighed in irritation and exhaustion. Only her second day on the job and already something major happened. "What's wrong Tsunade?" The former Hokage asked as he walked up and Tsunade gave a slight start, not having noticed his arrival as she was busy with the others.

"Sensei..." The busty woman shook her head and ran a hand down her face. "We've got a crisis going right now and you might want to sit down before I say a word about it." The man was extremely confused now and grabbed the chair against the wall to set down right in front of her desk and sat down. A raised brow was his sign for her to continue. "This morning I received word from Haruno Sakura that she was under the assumption her teammates Uzumaki Naruto and Uchiha Sasuke had been sent out on a mission last night. Before anything else happened a chunin came in telling me that Uzumaki had knocked out last nights chunin gate guards with the help of an Oto kunoichi we had imprisoned. Apparently Uzumaki has decided to go rogue sensei. Haruno then gave me the note the Uchiha left telling her about his 'mission' so we came to the assumption he's been tricked into this. I gave Haruno the mission to gather who she felt she'd need and then to head out to bring both Uzumaki and Uchiha back. I then sent the chunin to find out just how one of our prisoners escaped. That's what those jonin just here were reporting. Uzumaki snuck in and freed her, using knowledge a newly minted chunin shouldn't have access to." She explained before sighing. "Sensei, I don't know how the kid did it but it was as if he already knew exactly what to do. Which areas to avoid, which ones would be going on a shift change, even how to knock out the two guards he'd have to encounter to reach her cell. It was all perfectly executed and if this was simply a security drill I authorized I'd be proud of his execution but right now I'm more horrified at how easily he got through our patrols and that our jinchuriki has decided to make a run from the village."

Sarutobi was silent as he took everything in. This was something he was actually having trouble believing, that Naruto would turn traitor and trick his teammate into going with him. As he freed an Oto kunoichi, it was obvious just where he'd be going and that only made it even more unbelievable. Naruto heading to Orochimaru? Just what had given the boy the thought that it was a good idea to go to the snake? As Sarutobi struggled with the news Tsunade had given him the door was opened and another jonin entered.

"Tsunade-sama, we just got done with the prisoner check you ordered and have your answers." He started as both Kages turned to him. "The Oto kunoichi that Uzumaki freed was named Tayuya and was the one Jiraiya-sama incapacitated in bringing down the barrier to aid Sandaime-sama in the Invasion. We knew her to be one of Orochimaru's elites but had been unable to get anything of value out of her." Both nodded their understanding as he pulled out a file and flipped to the second page. "The other thing is that the prisoner Juugo was found with his neck snapped and a kunai wound to the heart. Just a reminder, Juugo was the burnt prisoner that Uzumaki fought in the Invasion and that you and Jiraiya-sama brought to us upon your return to the village. We had been having Yamanaka use their jutsu to extract information from his mind. While we had been making some progress, we had also been having trouble with his mental defenses. With him now dead we can no longer exploit him for anything on Orochimaru or his actions and allies. I'll have all the retrieved info compiled and sent to you after I return." The man then set the files down showing them to be Tayuya's and Juugo's prisoner files and stepped back. "No other prisoners were interacted with in anyway. That's all ma'am." He finished before bowing and leaving as Tsunade dismissed him.

"What are we going to do sensei? I've got a team after them and hopefully once the Uchiha finds out the truth he'll help in restraining Uzumaki but I'm not making any bets on the outcome of this. Haruno chose one other chunin and two genin. Add Uchiha to that and it's still not enough for a teen capable of bringing down a biju. There's also no other available jonin or teams that actually could stand up to Uzumaki should he decide to get serious." Tsunade was worried, and rightly so. He tenure as Hokage was not starting off very well and she was completely lost for options. It would take someone of S-rank to head out and bring Naruto back but Kakashi was out on a mission, Jiraiya was set to return later and they couldn't count on him stumbling across them on his way back. The only other S-ranks the village had were herself and the man across from her. She was too busy trying to run the village to head out and Sarutobi was too old for the job and they both knew it.

"I'm sorry Tsunade. But all we can do is hope at this point."

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Everyone let out shocked yells as Sakura flew over the edge of the cliff. None of them had expected Naruto just shove her over the edge without a second thought. The girl herself was still stuck staring at him with wide eyes as she began to fall and soon she could no longer see those standing above on the safe ground, the rocky side of the cliff had taken the view away. She could hear Sasuke yelling for her as well as the others shouting at Naruto but none of that mattered anymore. Her mind was still stuck on one thought. One single thought that had come up the moment Naruto shoved her to possibly her death.

He hadn't hesitated in the slightest.

Naruto didn't seem to wait a moment and struggle with his decision. He hadn't given her any kind of signal that it was all a lie or a trick of some sort and that she'd be okay. He hadn't done anything at all except yell at her and then shoving her away to die.

It was worse than a physical blow to the girl. He really thought so little of their friendship that he'd be fine with killing her so simply? He really found no guilt in killing an ally, a teammate, for trying to help him? Sakura didn't know what to think and found herself struggling to hold back tears that Naruto's move had brought up.

The girl forced her mind to the present though as she knew she had to find a way out of this free-fall before the crash landing would kill her. Even if it was over water, hitting it hard enough like she would was still deadly. Thinking over her options the girl reached into her kunai pouch and pulled out two of the weapons along with some metal wire. She quickly wrapped wire through the rings of each kunai separately, working as fast as she could.

She wouldn't spare a glance at the oncoming ground below her, she could hear the river well enough to know she was running out of time.

With a final tug on the knots she tied the girl threw both of the kunai at the cliff wall, the wire she also wrapped around her forearms digging uncomfortably into the skin as the wire stretched out. The two metal blades struck stone and stuck into them causing the wire to pull tight as she reached the end of her spare length. Sakura was instantly swung down to the wall and closed her eyes as the stone rushed forward to meet her. With a slight twist so that she wouldn't hit face first, Sakura spun and crashed her right side into the hard surface, letting out a pained cry as she did. The pinkette shakily opened her eyes, the held back tears now freely flowing due to pain as she glanced up at her arms. Both were bleeding slightly from where the wire had cut into flesh as it was pulled far too tight in its saving of her life. Her right hand though, as well as the arm itself was entirely numb and seemed to sag lightly. Placing her feet against the wall and channeling chakra to the wall allowed her to stick to it and climb up slightly to give her arms some slack against the wires. As she had noticed, and feared, her right arm simply hung limply against her and with the little medical training she had begun the girl knew that not only had the shoulder been dislocated, the arm itself was broken. Possibly including a rib or two, she mentally added as she gently pressed her good arm against her side only to wince in pain and pull away. Untying her arms, the girl knew she couldn't fix her arm so instead she slipped the gauntlet off and slipped it onto her left arm. While she hadn't trained to fight with it on the opposite side, it was still better than having it hang uselessly on her right. The last thing she did was stick a kunai handle in her mouth and bit down hard as she held her right shoulder for a second before jamming it back into place, screaming through the metal as she did.

'That's the best I'm gonna do here.' Sakura thought as she opened her mouth to let the kunai fall uselessly to the riverbank below. The girl was panting slightly from the pain as she looked up just in time to see a burst of fire going over the cliff. 'I've gotta get back up there and help. Who knows what's been happening since my fall.'

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"Sakura!" Sasuke shouted and was about to rush out to try and grab her when he felt a kunai to his throat and glanced out from the corners of his eyes to see Tayuya behind him, having turned back when she heard all the shouting behind her.

"And where the fuck do you think you're going, dipshit?"

"You aren't really an agent are you?" He asked as more of the truth was starting to come together in his mind.

"Not for Konoha. I'm Tayuya of the Sound Four. One of Orochimaru-sama's personal guards and best in Oto." She bragged as Sasuke grit his teeth in anger at being deceived. Putting his attention back on Naruto across the canyon showed him easily handling the three Sakura had brought with. "I don't give a shit about your problems with Orochimaru-sama but apparently he asked that blond fucker to bring you with after freeing me so you're coming to Oto. But don't worry, if you're nice maybe some fat-ass will take pity on you and make you his bitch. That's all a pretty boy like you is good for isn't it dipshit?" Tayuya taunted getting Sasuke even angrier.

"You're going to regret this."

"Oh yeah? How?" She mocked before Sasuke grinned and grabbed her arm, instantly channeling lightning chakra into the limb causing Tayuya to scream as she was electrified. Sasuke took the chance to slip out of her hold and kick her in the chest so that she flew back into a tree. The girl stumbled back to her feet and glared at Sasuke as he drew the Kubikiri off his back.

"Again with the fucking lightning! I thought I was in Hi no Kuni you damn Konoha fuckers! What's with all the fucking zapping shit going against me!" She raged before charging in to attack with her kunai. Sasuke easily deflected her opening stab with his sword before aiming a jab at her face making her twist to the side and snap a kick up at his wrist. Dropping the blade, Sasuke caught her leg and pushed her back off balance. As Tayuya stumbled back he kicked the handle of his sword back up and caught it before slashing at her, giving her a long but shallow cut across her stomach. Tayuya cried out in pain before rolling to the side to avoid his follow up slash and then jumping back to put distance between them. "You know what? Fuck this shit!" She cursed as she tossed the kunai at him, making him knock it aside with his blade, while she pulled out her silver flute. "Let's see you fight me now fucker."

"You're gonna play a song for me? Sorry, but I'm not a music fan." Sasuke quipped as she began playing her flute. Without waiting, Sasuke activated his Sharingan and charged the girl, even as she kept backpedaling while playing her music. Finally seeing it was having no effect as he got close and still swung straight at her she growled and leapt to the side. "You think my eyes wouldn't see the chakra being put into the noise? I know you were trying some kind of genjutsu on me, I fought someone that used sound based illusions before!" He shouted, remembering the dark haired Oto kunoichi from the second phase of the Chunin Exams.

"Fuck!" Tayuya cursed as she dodged another slash. Without her illusions, she would be forced to rely on her Doki summons. However those required more chakra than she had to bring out. Even if she tapped into the curse mark on her neck, she wouldn't have enough due to only running on a couple soldier pills and protein bars. Though she was hiding it well, she was exhausted and she knew it. 'I'm not gonna beat this fucker right now, not without any chakra. I am close enough to one of our outposts though. I could probably turn this bitch back on the blond and make a run for reinforcements. If that yellow headed fucker is as strong as Orochimaru-sama's info said then he can hold off these little shits long enough for me to get back.' Tayuya thought as she rolled away from another slash and pulled out the only other kunai in the weapon pouch Naruto had given her. Her plan set the girl tried to stab Sasuke as he spun around her and retaliated with a kick to her back that got her towards the edge of the cliff. The red-head glanced across the canyon and smirked when she saw Naruto dealing with the last of them without a scratch on him.

"Any last words?" Sasuke threatened as Tayuya snorted her amusement.

"Yeah, check out your blond buddy for a second." Sasuke narrowed his eyes before doing just that and gasping at seeing his friend knock down the last one. He could see that Naruto hadn't even pulled out the Kagirinai Buyou but had instead relied only on his taijutsu and fire manipulation. Tayuya took the chance to spin around and toss the kunai at Sasuke, making him jerk to the side to avoid it. However when he turned back to the girl he found her dashing past him. "Later fucker!" Sasuke growled but chose to focus on the bigger problem as he turned back to Naruto. Channeling chakra to his feet for the jump as he first did when he had jumped across to begin with the Uchiha ran to the edge and jumped over.

"Naruto!" He called to get the blond's attention on him. Blue eyes turned to him as his gauntlet covered left fist was engulfed in flames and he spun, swinging the attack at Sasuke.

"Hitsume (Fire Claw)!"

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Naruto only glanced at Sakura as she fell over the edge. He knew that wouldn't kill her unless she let the shock of his actions cause her to freeze up. When the others started yelling for her or at him the blond knew it was time to get started.

"You bastard!" Kiba shouted as he charged in first, Akamaru at his heels. Naruto twisted to the side to avoid the Inuzuka's wild slash and drove his knee into Kiba's gut, making him fold over his leg. Naruto quickly punched Kiba straight in the face and as he stumbled back he caught Akamaru when the dog leapt at him to bite him. The blond didn't waste a moment but instead threw Akamaru back at the woods, making the dog slam against a tree and fall to the ground. "AKAMARU!" Kiba screamed as the dog whimpered but did not move. Growling at Naruto the brown haired boy leapt at the blond, intent on ripping his head off.

"Predictable." Naruto muttered as he rolled under Kiba and swept his legs out from under him as he landed. Continuing his spin in the same manner as he did against Gaara, Naruto raised his foot back up before slamming it down onto Kiba's back. The genin's mouth opened to scream but no sound came out. Just as Naruto was about to attack again he had to leap aside as Neji spun in from behind and attempted to strike him in the back with his Jyuken.

"Stop this nonsense Naruto-san! Just surrender and come back to the village!" Neji shouted as he engaged Naruto in a fast past fight. Neji would attempt to strike at Naruto's chakra points only for the blond to deflect the blows. However when Naruto tried to strike him he was forced to instead twist his attack into a deflection as Neji tried to both block and strike a chakra point in the attacking arm in response. Both were moving faster than they had in their preliminary match and neither was giving in.

"Enough of this." Naruto muttered before his gauntlet erupted in flame and he swung at Neji. The Hyuuga teen only had enough warning to widen his eyes before the burst of flame struck him and sent him back. Without pausing Naruto spun and sent a Hitsume at Shikamaru. The Nara teen was forced to cancel the Kagemane no Jutsu (Shadow Possession Technique) he was about to attempt and dodge to the side as the fire raced towards the spot he had just been in. Naruto spared a glance at Kiba to see that he was still groaning on the ground, glaring at him as well, but unmoving so he leapt into action against the chunin. Shikamaru could barely put up a defense as Naruto was getting punches and kicks through his guard to strike him in the sides and finally he broke Shikamaru's guard entirely to land a palm strike on the Nara's chest, making him skid back before falling to his knees when he stopped. "You should work on your taijutsu Nara. Your clans shadow jutsu can't save you from everything." Naruto admonished as he took a few steps closer, Shikamaru coughing up blood on the ground between them.

"W-why are you doing this?" He asked through grit teeth as he noticed Neji getting up behind him. The chunin knew he needed to keep the blond's attention on him at that moment. "What's Orochimaru offering you? Help against Iwa? You know it won't work right? He had help from Suna and couldn't bring down Konoha. How's he going to help you against another of the great 5?" The Nara tried to reason as Naruto tilted his head to the side.

"You think I haven't considered this? I know perfectly well Orochimaru alone won't be able to help me against Iwa. He's only step one of my plan." Naruto admitted, getting Shikamaru's eyes to widen. Before either one could say anymore, Naruto's instincts warned him of an attack so he rolled instantly to his left as Neji came down with a double palm strike that cracked the ground where he had just stood. Before the Hyuuga could react Naruto grabbed him by the clothes around his neck and pulled him into a vicious headbutt that connected with Neji's nose to knock him unconscious. The blond tossed him to the side before turning back to Shikamaru. "Now it's your turn." Naruto muttered darkly and Shikamaru was only able to take solace in the fact that Naruto only seemed to want to knock them out, as he had ignored plenty of openings for fatal attacks and instead just focused on disabling them.

"Move Shika!" Kiba shouted as he tried to jump Naruto from behind. The Nara did as Naruto sighed and spun back towards the Inuzuka heir. Naruto lazily batted his slash attempt aside before grabbing him by the throat his his right, his left erupting into flame.

"You shouldn't have shouted. It gave away your position and alerted the enemy to your attack." The blond commented before punching Kiba in the gut with his flaming fist. Kiba coughed up blood and Naruto dropped him to his feet, only to spin into a roundhouse kick that knocked him out a second later. Looking back to Shikamaru had him noticing that he couldn't move anymore as the Nara was crouched with his hands held in the signature sign of his families clan jutsus.

"And you should realize a distraction when you see one." The Nara taunted back. Naruto's eyes glanced at their connected shadows on the ground before focusing again on the chunin across from him, his face a bored expression to show Shikamaru how much he truly cared about his jutsu catching him.

"Tell me, how long can you hold this? Considering how much I hurt you a few seconds ago plus how much chakra you actually have, I doubt you could hold me for long. In fact I bet I could break this in seconds if I actually flared my chakra and tried to." The blond mused as Shikamaru did his best to hide the sweat he could feel gathering at his brow, knowing Naruto was right. The Nara could hold his jutsu only for a minute or two longer and then he'd be helpless against the blond since he took out all of his teammates so rapidly. Shikamaru was wondering what was taking Sasuke so long but also knew he couldn't take the time out to look. "I'll make you this offer just once, take Kiba and Neji and go back to Konoha. You can't beat me and you know it."

"What about Sakura? You threw her over the cliff! And Sasuke! What're you going to do with him?!" Shikamaru shouted as Naruto kept his bored look up.

"Sakura is alive. That little shove wouldn't have killed her with how resourceful she can be in a pinch. She's probably trying to climb back up already. As for Sasuke, well I have plans for him. That's all you need to know." The Nara narrowed his eyes as Naruto again brought up his so-called plans he had. He had called Orochimaru step one and now admitted to needing Sasuke as well. Was delivering him to the snake step one? Or did Sasuke factor in to another part of the blond's plans entirely? "Choose. Now." Naruto ordered, breaking Shikamaru's thoughts. "Either I knock you out and you all hope nobody comes by to do whatever to you all, or you grab the two genin and leave."

"I can't back down here Naruto." The blond sighed at his response.

"So be it." With a quick flare of chakra to his gauntlet Naruto made a make-shift flash tag by quickly igniting the object to extreme levels before dropping them. The sudden flash of light blinding Shikamaru temporarily as well as breaking his shadow connection as it was too bright for the shadow to remain. Freed, Naruto quickly charged Shikamaru and buried a foot into his chest with a strong kick. The Nara crumpled forward as Naruto brought his fist down on the back of his neck, ensuring he was knocked out like the others.

"Naruto!"

The blond turned his head to the right to see Sasuke jumping over the canyon, raising the Kubikiri up as he was ready to attack the moment he landed. Naruto simply engulfed his left in fire before swinging the attack at his teammate. "Hitsume!" He shouted as the fire wave rushed out to hit the Uchiha. Sasuke channeled his own fire chakra into the Kubikiri and slashed down with his blade, the fire aligned sword parting the wave harmlessly to the side. Sasuke grit his teeth from the still felt heat as he also kept his Sharingan eyes trained on Naruto. The blond hopped back as Sasuke crashed down and slashed at him.

"Why Naruto? Why are you doing this?" Sasuke shouted as he rushed his teammate. Naruto ducked under another slash, this one aimed high, and brought his knee up towards Sasuke's gut. It was blocked by Sasuke's own knee though so Naruto also ignited his gauntlet and threw a punch towards Sasuke's head. The Uchiha twisted to the side and brought his sword back into play by swinging it at the blond's chest but Naruto hopped back to avoid it.

"Why?" Sasuke stopped as he heard his teammate speak, still keeping himself ready for any tricks he might pull. "I have a plan Sasuke. One that will achieve everything I want and if you'll simply come with me then I can add your goals in too." Naruto offered as he held out his right hand.

"Orochimaru is your plan?! How can you possibly trust him after everything he's done?" Sasuke shouted as Naruto simply sighed.

"There's more to my plan than Orochimaru, Sasuke. Honestly, I'm not stupid enough to trust that snake for much at all. He's merely step one."

"Well then what is this plan? And why couldn't' you tell me earlier? Why do we have to leave the village for it? Answer me that!" The Kubikiri was shaking in Sasuke's hands as they spoke to each other, desperate for answers to the situation Naruto had dragged them all into. Desperate to know that Naruto wasn't really about to turn traitor.

"I can't say just yet Sasuke. It's too soon and you never know who's listening."

"That's just an excuse!" Sasuke shouted having had enough of everything going on. "I'll just try to make you see reason. Try to make you go back!" The Uchiha roared as he rushed Naruto again. Naruto shook his head as he channeled chakra into the glove on his outstretched hand causing the Kagirinai Buyou to appear. Spinning it quickly Naruto lashed at Sasuke's head making him raise his blade in defense. Metal clashed against metal as Sasuke continued to run forward, his blade scrapping against the metal shaft of the weapon Naruto held. Gritting his teeth the blond twisted himself slightly to move the shaft of his double ended naginata horizontally in front of himself so that Sasuke's charge was stooped. The downside was that he was now in a direct contest of strength with him by holding back the Kubikiri that Sasuke was trying to bring down as hard as he could.

For all his skill, Naruto was actually not that strong physically. Most of his muscles had been trained and developed for speed. Sasuke on the other hand had needed to train his strength to the limit in order to use the legendary blade he had received from Naruto. While his speed wasn't improved much from his Academy days, his strength was much more than doubled. It was likely one of the few things Naruto would be willing to freely admit Sasuke had over him despite having more experience and training.

The Uchiha was physically stronger than him. End of story.

Seeing the Kubikiri inch closer as Naruto was forced down, the blond realized his mistake in directly clashing with Sasuke right away and growled at the stupid move. Flaring his chakra, especially that of the Kiba no Makai on his left hand, the Kagirinai Buyou lit up in flames that Naruto's wind chakra fed to and directed towards Sasuke. The raven haired teen cried out in mild pain as the fire shoved him back, only the fact that the second Naruto's chakra had flared to give him warning saving him from getting burns as he channeled his own fire chakra to prevent them. Naruto jumped back to gain some room before getting into his stance as Sasuke shook his head to focus himself and got into his own.

"Last chance Sasuke. Come with me. I'm going to need an ally I can trust and you're the only one that I know would be willing to go along with everything."

"Not at the cost of my loyalty Naruto. I don't want to kill Itachi by becoming just as bad as him. I don't want to leave Konoha." The two stared at each other for a moment longer before at some unseen signal, they charged.

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"Jiraiya-sama!" The man paused as he was walking back through the gates of the village to head towards Naruto's apartment and let him know to get ready to leave. Glancing back he saw that it was one of the village's ANBU operatives that had called out to him. Within only a couple seconds the ninja was in front of him. "Tsunade-sama needs you in her office immediately. Something urgent has come up regarding Uzumaki." The man instantly frowned before nodding as both vanished in a swirl of leaves, using the Shunshin (Body Flicker) to cross the distance quickly. While the ANBU then returned to their post, Jiraiya hopped up to the window of the Hokage's office and tapped on the glass, letting the room's occupants know he was outside.

"Finally! What took you so damn long Jiraiya?" Tsunade growled as she opened the window to let him in. Jiraiya took note of her attitude before seeing Sarutobi sitting to the side, seemingly in a depressed mood, as he was only staring at the floor without even acknowledging that Jiraiya had shown up.

"I was finishing things up with my nearby agents so that I could get some last minute info before leaving with Naruto. You know that Tsunade." Jiraiya explained as he took a spot in front of her desk and then crossed his arms. "So what's the situation with Naruto that's so urgent you'd have an ANBU grab me before I could get the kid?"

"Naruto's fled the village for Orochimaru and tricked his Uchiha teammate into going with him!"

Whatever he was expecting, nothing in his wildest dreams would've ever come close to that. The Sannin looked at his fellow Sannin as if he misheard or that she was crazy before actually jabbing a pinky in his ear to clean it out before pulling it out and taking a deep breath. "Okay now, could you run that by me again? I think I-"

"Naruto's run to Orochimaru and dragged the Uchiha with him!" Tsunade interrupted, not in the mood for her teammates antics'.

"Impossible! Naruto hates traitors with a passion, he'd never go rogue!" Jiraiya countered before turning to their sensei sitting to the side. "Come on sensei, tell me this is her idea for a bad joke. You know as well as I do that Naruto-"

"-Has really fled the village Jiraiya." Sarutobi cut in this time as he raised his head. Jiraiya looked shocked and unbelieving before he looked hard into Hiruzen's eyes and saw it. The deep sorrow of losing someone close. The same look he'd only scene in Sarutobi's eyes twice before this; right after the Kyuubi attack and right after Orochimaru's defection.

"Tell me everything."

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Sasuke cried out in pain as his back collided with a tree. Off to the side near the cliff was the Kubikiri, pinned down from where Naruto had managed to slip his Kagirinai Buyou into the hole in the blade and use that as leverage to wrench it out of his grasp. From there it had turned into a fist fight and despite Sasuke's greater strength, Naruto's speed overwhelmed him. The blond himself still looked ready to keep fighting as he only had a couple minor cuts on his clothes as well as a single bruise on his chin from the one good kick Sasuke had managed to land. "Just give it up Sasuke. You can't win against me." Naruto sighed out as he walked forward.

"I... I won't..." Sasuke panted out making the blond shake his head. Naruto took two more steps before stopping, his eyes glancing around as though looking for something. With a startled expression he rolled back just as the ground where he just was split slightly as if a blade had cut it. There was a light gasp of breath that seemed to come from nowhere before Naruto scowled and kicked at the noise. With a cry of pain Sakura shimmered into view clutching at her broken right arm, the same arm that Naruto had apparently hit. "S-Sakura..."

"I knew you'd survive but to be honest I was expecting that to keep you out of the fight entirely." Naruto commented as he walked up to the girl that was curled on her left side clutching her right. "Forcing yourself to continue despite such an injury, impressive Sakura. Very impressive." He praised before grabbing her by her good shoulder and picking her up, pinning her left arm behind her back and wrapping his other arm around her neck while her right dangled uselessly at her side. "But in the end, too late. Had you managed to show up before Sasuke was beaten then you might've caught me with that and taken me down."

"Let her go!" Sasuke shouted before bracing his back against the tree and struggling to his feet.

"Oh calm down Sasuke. Honestly, both of you should think for a moment. If I was really serious about turning traitor to Konoha then they'd be dead and you'd be gift wrapped for Orochimaru by now." The blond threw out casually as both Sakura's and Sasuke's eyes went wide at the implication, and then wider when they realized he was right. Had Naruto truly wanted this he'd have used his higher level jutsu or the Kyuubi to completely dominate them. After all it wasn't like three chunin and two genin could handle someone capable of bringing down a biju on their own.

"What... what are you really after?" Sakura asked as she tried to ignore the pain in her side. Naruto was holding her up but he wasn't choking her or twisting her arm painfully on her, just keeping a tight enough grip so that she couldn't do anything and so that she wouldn't fall from the pain her right side was causing her. Eying Sasuke and then the rest of the team she brought showed her much of the same; various cuts and bruises but none of them life-threatening or dangerous. A concussion at worst for any of them, save her of course.

"What I'm after is the achievement of a few goals of mine, no more and no less. I had hoped nobody would notice we were gone until later when Jiraiya would've gone to pick me up for that pointless trip but things didn't work out that way. I had hoped Sasuke would be jumping at the chance to avenge his clan and kill Itachi but apparently he won't do it at the cost of leaving Konoha, which is a key to my plans. In the end, it seems like I've only accomplished leaving the village for myself to get started but nothing else." The blond mused as he kept and eye on both her and Sasuke, his teammates both grimacing in pain from their collected injuries but also paying attention and trying to figure out the plans he had continually mentioned. "Sasuke, this is the last time I'll ask you; leave the village and join me. Please." The teen called out as Sakura shifted her attention to Sasuke and saw him looking down with his eyes closed.

"Answer one question for me first." He replied so Naruto shrugged.

"Alright, shoot."

"Why do we have to leave the village to accomplish these plans of yours?" He asked as Naruto scowled and grit his teeth.

"Because Konoha is holding us back! Revenge isn't their way with the 'Will of Fire' they all preach! Despite how many things others have done to the world, Konoha just lets it go until it grows to a global level and a war breaks out! Konoha is a village of defenders, not punishers or avengers or whatever you want to refer to us as. I want to destroy Iwa, they'll never support that! You want to kill your brother, they won't give you the chance if they can help it!" He shouted out as his reasons for why came to him, both his own thoughts mixing with the words Kabuto had told him a few nights ago. "If we stay there then we'll never get our vengeance on the ones that have wronged us and they'll be free to do it again and again to others. I can't allow that! We can't allow that! So leave Konoha behind and come with me!" Sakura winced slightly at both the fact that he was essentially screaming in her ear as well as how strongly Naruto felt about this. It was as if her truly believed the village was trying to stop him.

Sasuke was silent as he thought it all over in his head. Both Sakura and Naruto were hoping for a favorable response, though their thoughts on that were complete opposites. Finally Sasuke raised his head and faced Naruto.

"I'm sorry Naruto but no." He answered, getting Naruto to frown as Sakura smiled as best she could. "Maybe you're right, maybe not. But one thing I know for sure is that you're wrong. Konoha is not holding us back. Konoha is just showing us that there's more to live for than revenge, that we don't have to dedicate ourselves to a goal of nothing but hate." Naruto was gritting his teeth at this point as Sasuke shook his head. "And you know what Naruto? You're the one that showed this to me in the first place!" The blonds' eyes went wide at the declaration as Sasuke explained. "Ever since my family was killed I've been nothing but a revenge obsessed person but then I was placed on a team with you and Sakura. Sure, I found you infuriating and Sakura annoying at first but you began to show me to not let my hate rule me, that there was the life right in front of me to live instead of the one in the past I angered over. Over time I came to view both you and Sakura as friends. The village only added to all of this. How could I turn my back on Konoha and all the friends I've made for something in the past? People don't live in the past Naruto. We live in the present, and I'm not about to change that."

"You'll give up on Itachi if you stay in Konoha!" Naruto shouted trying to get Sasuke to leave like him, not liking how Sasuke was turning his own attitude on anything beside Iwa right back at him. He was pretty much exactly how Sasuke pointed out, until the topic turned to Iwa and he would lose himself to his hatred and ignore everything else, even his own logic.

"Maybe, but I choose to stay and find that out myself." The Uchiha fired back as Naruto shook his head. "Now let Sakura go Naruto. And come back to Konoha with us."

"I can't! You don't even get it do you? I can't go back anymore!" Naruto shouted, shocking his teammates. "By doing this I've marked myself as a missing ninja. At best, going back would net me with a few years in jail. At worst, death! I can't go back to Konoha, don't you understand that?!" The blond shouted.

"Naruto..." Sakura muttered, still being held by Naruto. Thinking on it they realized that he was right. The best he could hope for would still be crippling to his career and his dreams. Sakura let out a gasp as Naruto shoved her forward into Sasuke, the Uchiha making sure to catch her before she fell. She then turned around as Sasuke got ready to rush in only for Naruto to throw a smoke bomb onto the ground to obscure there vision. Both began to cough lightly as the smoke dispersed. Once it was gone they saw the Naruto had vanished, along with the Kagirinai Buyou. The Kubikiri was still lying on the ground and none of the others had been moved from wherever they had fallen either. It seemed he had just taken his weapon and fled. "Naruto..."

"He's gone..." Sasuke muttered before sighing and turning to the girl he was still holding. "Are you alright Sakura?"

"My right side hurts like hell and the arm is completely useless but otherwise I'll be fine. I'm sure Tsunade-sama can heal me once we're back in Konoha." She answered before looking to Neji, Kiba and Shikamaru. "What about them though? How are we going to get them back?" Sasuke looked at the three before shrugging.

"We try to wake them up?"

XxXxXxXxXxXxXxXxXxX

Author's Note: And that's that. Next chapter will be the last one of the first half of the story before I jump ahead to Shippuden years. I hope you all enjoyed it and that the non-believers have come to forgive me for making Naruto abandon the village. Still, I gave certain clues throughout the story that hinted he'd be leaving eventually, for where was up to debate but he was always going to leave.

Anyways, in other news I watched the season finale to Kill la Kill Thursday and man it was great. Anybody who hasn't seen that series MUST watch it! And that ending! Oh man, I got worried about Gamagoori for a moment before that turned out okay but then Senketsu! Oh Senketsu! That's likely the only time people have ever cried over an article of clothing.

So lastly, like always, please review and favorite! See you next chapter!