A/N: So! Let me start off by saying that TTB is on hiatus for the time being. Reasons for this are in my profile.
Okay. The original idea for this pic is from a piece of art done by Shotlipglossnique, on deviantart, and would have originally been a drabble. The title is hers and I give her due credit for the idea and title both. However, the story has evolved to a 5-6 chapter deal, and is completely and wholly dedicated to the awesome, amazing, incredible Vladexx, she who does the amazing fan art for Be My Hero.
About this fic: It starts off immediately after manga chapter 550. So, this is the unofficial chapter 551, according to moi ^_^. As with all my canon-based works, there is no heavy characterization, plot, dialogue, or anything, simply because these things don't exist in the manga, as far as I'm concerned. Their personalities are pretty straight-forward, for the most part, and the small amount of complexity to Naruto and Sasuke will be addressed to the best of my meager capabilities. Might be some angst, but generally, we're dealing with two teens who are, to quote one reviewer, 'disturbed about each other', in a variety of ways.
Lastly, most of the chapters for this fic are already done, so I have no trouble posting while doing other works. Chapters will be short, no more than 5-6 pgs.
"Quickly, quickly! We were only able to get them at all through blind luck. By the grace of the gods, I was able to retrieve Deidara and Kakuzu as well. I won't have this chance wasted!"
Sasuke stood up at hearing Madara's voice enter the hideout. It was accompanied by the sound of many running feet.
Madara appeared ahead of Deidara, Kabuto, Nagato, Kakuzu, Zetsu, and Sasori. Deidara and Kakuzu were carrying two bodies. At seeing them, Sasuke took a step towards where the bodies were being placed on the floor.
Killerbee and Naruto. They appeared to be-
"What's going on?" Sasuke asked. "Is the war over?"
Madara spoke distractedly, while directing Kabuto to have Nagato summon Gedo Mazo. "What happened is that that brother of yours nearly ruined everything. Nagato saved the day. Quickly, Nagato!"
Sasuke tried to understand. "My brother?" Seeing the members of Akatsuki that he knew to be dead, he felt his skin chill. "You didn't resurrect Itachi?"
Madara either didn't hear, or pretended not to. He had Kabuto move Naruto's body some distance from Killerbee's.
Putting aside thoughts of his brother for the moment, Sasuke studied the frantic preparations going on. "How did you capture them?" He took another step, his eyes running over Naruto. It was strange to see him so still and quiet. Unnatural.
"Nagato, as I already explained." Madara said as he took up a position on the demonic statue. "Enough questions. We'll be needing your chakra contribution, Sasuke. You can stand where Itachi normally stood. That is fitting." Then, when Sasuke only stood staring, he snapped, "They won't remain incapacitated for long. Move!"
Sasuke jumped up on one of the large fingers.
Naruto felt pain before his senses returned fully. He tried to bring his hand to his throbbing head, and found that he couldn't move. He couldn't open his eyes, or even utter a moan. His heart rate picked up its pace, hammering with his swiftly rising panic. Instinctively, he reached for Kyuubi's chakra. Had he been able to yell, he would have; Kyuubi was blocked from him completely. He heard voices strike up nearby, and tried to calm himself enough to listen.
'That's impossible, no one can resist this process.'
'You don't know Naruto like I know him. He'll resist anything, and is usually able to get out of anything.'
'Sasuke, if you have nothing encouraging to say, then please be silent.'
'I'm just saying-'
'Silence! Nagato, is he able to break free?'
'I'm loath to hazard a guess. No one else has, but Naruto is wildly powerful, and highly unpredictable.'
'I see. Everyone, increase your chakra output by 40 percent. The sooner we get this done, the better.'
'Forty percent! I'm already operating at capacity, hn!'
'Madara, speeding up the process may very well kill him before we can finish extracting the Kyuubi.'
'That it may, Nagato. We will just have to be careful.'
This conversation sent Naruto's entire body into overdrive. He strove to wake up, to move, but then the pain intensified to such a degree that his efforts fizzled out in a white-hot flare of agony. Against his raging will, he felt his consciousness forcibly repressed and shoved down into the dark depths of oblivion.
The next time he surfaced, it was to hear shouts, curses, and what sounded like explosions going on all around him. Unlike before, he could feel himself lying on a hard surface. This surface rocked and tilted as another of those explosions went off. Some kind of heated shockwave rolled his inert body several feet. He came to rest against a wall. The sound of clashing metal, and Ninjutsu running rampant caused him to muster up the energy to slit his eyes open.
He couldn't tell what he was looking at. At first he just saw flashes of light in some great dark space, but then he saw what looked like several people going up against one person. His head hurt like shit, especially when those flashing explosions went off, but Naruto squinted at that one person. It almost looked like…no one else had that hairstyle…those gay clothes were certainly distinctive…
Whether or not it was him, that person performed a hand seal that had the entire dark space going up like a supernova. The flash and backlash of heat was the last thing he was aware of.
Up and down, up and down, up and-
Nauseous. Something hard digging painfully into his stomach, while a muscular arm was clamped firmly behind his knees. His hands brushing lightly against some metal oblong object, while his body traveled up and down, up and down, up-
Naruto opened his eyes and saw the peculiar sight of someone's heels flashing up through a jump, branches streaking past beneath the tucked heels, then the heels extending to touch down on tree bark. A crouch, half a second, then up he and the heels went again. He blinked, seeing legs wearing black pants attached to the heels. His gaze traveled higher, and saw that the metal thing his hands were bumping against was a sword shoved diagonally into a purple rope belt. Breathing in short, panicked bursts now, trying not to let his outrage override his ability to deal with the situation, Naruto turned his head a bit, glancing behind himself.
There was no mistaking the hair for belonging to anyone other than the one person he'd just as soon not be captured by. How he'd come to be where he was didn't really matter. Uchiha Sasuke was carrying him to parts unknown, probably to Madara.
Sasuke cursed at the way Naruto suddenly came to life and bounded off his shoulder. So violent and unexpected was this action that he lost his balance and went tumbling through the trees, heading for sharp contact with the ground. Several yards away, he saw Naruto also falling.
He caught himself on the bole of the tree, using chakra to remain upside down on all fours. This particular tree was huge, too big for him to see around. He crawled warily to his right, scuttling across the moss-covered bark like an ant, until he could peer down the other side. There, sprawled in a bush dozens of feet below, lay Naruto.
Standing up on the vertical side of the tree, Sasuke walked downward slowly, approaching Naruto with caution. Naruto hadn't moved since he'd landed, but that could be a ploy to lure Sasuke. The bush lay at the base of the tree. Sasuke stopped when he was ten feet above the other boy.
Naruto's eyes were open. He obviously saw Sasuke, but he didn't move. On closer inspection, Naruto seemed to be breathing with difficulty. Using Sharingan only, Sasuke saw that Naruto's body was still heavily damaged, and was now being put through unnecessary stress as the idiot tried to move. Sure now that it was safe to do so, he dropped unceremoniously beside the bush and began tugging Naruto's dead weight free.
"Let…go of me," Naruto wheezed.
Sasuke released him. Naruto's head landed with a sharp crack on the forest floor, while his hips and legs remained elevated and stuck in the bush. "Fine," Sasuke sneered. "Get yourself down, if you can." He crossed his arms and stood back to watch.
After several long, painfully embarrassed moments, Naruto swallowed in defeat. Sasuke muttered in disgust, and went to him once more. He snatched him out of the bush with a single tug, and let him drop to the ground. He didn't bother to be gentle.
Naruto's body was useless, but his eyes contained a wealth of rage and suspicion as he watched Sasuke open a water flask. Sasuke drank, wiped his mouth on his wristband, then held the flask over Naruto's lips. Naruto glared daggers. "What'd you do to me?" he spat. "What happened? Where am I? Last I knew-"
Sasuke grabbed a fistful of blond hair and lifted Naruto's head. He poured the water into his jabbering mouth. Naruto coughed, spluttered, choked. Sasuke was forced to roll him to his side and pound his back. When Naruto at last drew in a decent breath, he screeched loud enough to startle birds into flight. Sasuke set the water aside for the sole purpose of punching Naruto in the mouth.
Naruto came around slowly, mouth throbbing, and tasting blood. His eyes opened fractionally, then sprang wide at discovering Sasuke less than three inches from his face.
"First of all," Sasuke hissed. "I saved your ass. You'd have been dead if I hadn't. Second, we happen to be on the run, so if you wouldn't mind keeping your loud mouth shut-"
"You just tried to drown me." This seemed to be the only thing Naruto cared about.
Sasuke briefly entertained the idea of doing just that, before gritting his teeth in an effort at control. "Madara is coming for you. For both of us, probably. I can leave you here and save my own neck, or bring you with me. Take your pick." Naruto actually seemed to be considering this. "Pick fast," Sasuke bit out.
"You could be lying-"
Sasuke stood and turned to leave.
"But I can actually sense Madara and several others closing in on us."
Sasuke looked behind him, scanning. "How far?"
"I'm not in chakra mode so it's really faint." Naruto's voice seemed to be fading. What little strength he'd had was almost completely depleted by his efforts to escape Sasuke, and the incident with the water. "Five, maybe four miles. Coming fast." He lay gasping, his eyes now too heavy to remain open.
He did see Sasuke stride over to him and bend down to pick him up, though. He was slung over Sasuke's shoulder again, and then they were leaping through the trees once more. Up and down, up and down, up-
The last thing I remember was Nagato using Human Path on me. Itachi was there, Uncle Bee…what's going on? Naruto's thoughts turned fuzzy as he blacked out again. And how'd I end up with this guy? He would not believe that Sasuke had suddenly experienced a change of heart and saved him; Sasuke wanted him dead.