Naruto looked down the hall, his eyes full of fear and shock, as Sasuke slammed into the wall, leaving quite an indentation into it. He gasped when he saw Itachi move. No! He couldn't let Itachi kill Sasuke! "I may not have always liked him, and he's still a jerk at times, but you know...he's my best friend! I can't let him die! I have to do something!" Naruto thought. He looked around quickly, wishing there was something nearby he could use, but there was nothing. He channeled his chakra.
Sasuke saw his brother coming at him, Mangekyo Sharingan active. "I'm going to die. He's going to kill me," Sasuke thought. Then he felt a very strong chakra being channeled from nearby and knew it had to be Naruto. It wasn't Itachi, and he doubted Kisame had that much chakra in him. Sasuke blinked, trying not to show his fear, and when he opened his eyes, he had to wonder if he was dreaming. His brother was no longer in front of him.
Jiraiya gasped when Naruto and Sasuke both disappeared in puffs of smoke. When said smoke disappeared, he was even more shocked to find that the two had switched places. Naruto was now in the wall where Sasuke had been with Itachi's eyes boring into his, while Sasuke was now standing in front of Jiraiya.
Kisame chuckled. "I've heard of falling into someone's hands, but come on, that kid is just too much," he commented.
Itachi was reaching to grab Naruto. Jiraiya had no choice. "SUMMONING JUTSU!" he yelled out. The building around them took on a fleshy appearance and absorbed Naruto into the wall. Jiraiya smirked at Itachi and Kisame, who took off running. Jiraiya and Sasuke followed.
Finding a hole in the wall surrounded by black flame, Jiraiya gasped. "They burned through the stomach of the mountain toad...and he can spit fire!" he said and spread a scroll on the ground and prepared to seal the black flames.
"A-A-Amaterasu," Sasuke said quietly. Jiraiya cast a questioning look at Sasuke. The Uchiha explained, "It's a jutsu of the Mangekyo Sharingan. The black flames are inextinguishable and will burn through pretty much anything, as you've seen here. So far as I know, there's no way to put them out." Jiraiya nodded and continued making a seal on the scroll; moments later, the flames were gone and a symbol had appeared in the seal array, showing that they were sealed in the scroll.
Jiraiya released his summoned toad and lifted Naruto, who had reappeared from the wall, into his arms. "Damn delays!" he bemoaned. "Now we've got to go back to the village."
He would have continued, but at that moment, the two conscious ninja heard a call of "DYNAMIC ENTRY!" Jiraiya just looked toward the sound in confusion, but Sasuke pushed him to one side, shocking the sage. Looking up, the white-haired man was shocked to see a man in green spandex standing where he had been but moments before and Sasuke once again planted into the wall from the man's kick.
Sasuke pulled himself out of the wall and snarled at Guy. "I know the old pervert deserves to be hit like that, but you could have hurt Naruto!" he raged. Guy had the decency to look sheepish as he explained he had used a mirror to see into the room; all he had seen was someone holding an unconscious Naruto, so he had moved without thinking to "save" the blond. Sasuke rolled his eyes. "You really should make sure you know who you're attacking BEFORE leaping in like that, you know."
Guy flashed Sasuke a thumbs-up and a huge grin. "Indeed, most youthful student of my eternal rival, you speak words of great wisdom! I shall always remember them and strive to take them to heart and make your wisdom my own!" Guy said, grinning again afterward; Sasuke blinked when the man's teeth actually flashed.
"No, no way, I did not just see that," Sasuke thought to himself. He shook his head to clear the image.
Jiraiya turned to Guy. "Actually, it might be a good thing you're here," he said. "Naruto here needs to get back to the village. Sasuke, too. And I need to get back on the road to find Tsunade." He handed Naruto over to Guy when suddenly Sasuke spoke up.
"Can Tsunade fix Naruto?" he asked.
"Well...I certainly hope so, for her sake," Jiraiya said darkly. "Kakashi and Lee, too, for that matter, but why do you ask?"
Sasuke thought for a moment. "In that case..." he nodded. "I'm going with you." Jiraiya looked like he was about to say something, to object, so Sasuke continued, "No one's ever sacrificed themselves for me like Naruto did just now. He's my best friend, knucklehead or not, and I am not going to just sit back and let him suffer while you're out peeping on bathhouses or something. I am coming with you, we will find Tsunade, and she will come back with us and help Naruto if it means I have to drag her back myself."
"So you've made your choice, have you, Sasuke?" Jiraiya asked. Sasuke thought a moment, then nodded. "And your choice is to be loyal to your friends before you worry about revenge...good." Sasuke tried to glare at the white-haired man, but he couldn't quite manage it; the old pervert was right, after all. Besides, Sasuke always did like to hear that he was doing something right.
"Well, fine then, let's get going," Sasuke said, turning to head out of the building, making sure to keep his head turned away from Jiraiya and Guy so the two wouldn't see that he was grinning from ear to ear. He shuddered slightly when he realized he probably looked just like Naruto at that moment.
Jiraiya handed Naruto to Guy, who took him gently. "Get him back to the village safely, Guy. If you don't, I'll be holding you personally responsible, and, trust me, you don't want that."
Guy nodded solemnly. "I will do as you say, Lord Jiraiya," he said. He turned and, within moments, was out of sight. Jiraiya smiled; it was good to see Guy could take things seriously when the situation called for it.
Turning toward the black-haired boy, Jiraiya found him with his fists clenched and his body shaking. He took a few steps toward him and heard the boy muttering, "Why, Naruto? Why did you do that? It was supposed to be me stuck in Tsukuyomi, not you!" he paused a moment, then continued, "Damn it Naruto!" Jiraiya interrupted the boy's rant by laying a heavy hand on his shoulder. Sasuke jumped, then turned and looked up at the old man.
"We will find Tsunade, and we will help Naruto," Jiraiya said, a look of fierce determination in his eyes.
Sasuke grinned. "Yeah, you're right," he said. "We will help Naruto. He wouldn't rest until he'd gotten help for me, so I won't rest until I get help for him." Jiraiya grinned at the boy's statement. Sasuke thought a moment, then asked, "Why do you care so much about getting help for him, though?"
Jiraiya turned sad eyes onto Sasuke's dark orbs. "He's my godson," he said. "I promised to take care of him when his parents died, but I was unable to fulfill that promise, so now, when he needs me most, I won't let him down."
Sasuke grinned. "No, Jiraiya, we won't let him down," he said. Jiraiya grinned at the boy and nodded, granting the boy's point.
Clasping his shoulder in his huge hand, Jiraiya answered, "You're right, Sasuke, we won't let Naruto down." That said, the two ninja headed off down the road in search of the greatest medical ninja to walk the earth, Tsunade Senju.
Naruto slowly opened his eyes. He blinked as he saw that everything around him was different. The last thing he remembered was substituting with Sasuke and finding himself eye-to-eye with Itachi. He sighed. "Where am I now?" he asked himself. He looked around and found himself looking at Sakura, who had her back turned to him.
Sakura turned around and glared at Naruto. "WHY, NARUTO?" she yelled. She took a deep breath and forced herself to not yell. "Why didn't you bring Sasuke back to me?" She finally allowed her tears to show, at which Naruto felt his heart shatter; he hated to see Sakura in pain. This time was even worse, though, because Naruto knew this pain was his fault, even though he had no idea what she was talking about; Sasuke hadn't gone anywhere!
Naruto blinked and the scene before him changed. This time he saw a much more grown-up Hinata on her knees crying her eyes out. "You promised..." she said. "You promised you'd come back safely...why did you have to choose that promise to break, Naruto?" As she spoke, Naruto realized that she was kneeling in front of a grave...he looked closer. It wasn't just any grave, it was his grave!
Naruto gasped. "What in the world is this? I'm not dead, so why is Hinata crying at my grave?"
"This is my world," a voice spoke. Naruto recognized it after a moment as Itachi's. "And for the next seventy-two hours, you will see your greatest fears made real. You will be tortured mentally, physically, and spiritually until you break. I control your fate in here!"
Naruto spun to look in the direction he thought he heard Itachi speaking from only to look straight into Kakashi's Sharingan eye as he skewered him with a Chidori. "You deserve this, demon, now die like the dog you are," Kakashi said.
Naruto could still feel the electrical chakra from Kakashi's attack when he felt a second charge hit him from behind. This time it was Sasuke who snarled into his ear, "And now our bond is broken." Tears filled Naruto's eyes as he sank to the ground to allow himself to die. By the time he hit the ground, however, he found that his wounds had healed and he was fine.
Naruto looked around, no longer surprised that the scene had changed; this time, he found himself bound to a cross in the middle of Konoha's main square. Everyone he knew was looking at him in disgust. Sasuke, Sakura, and Kakashi simply shook their heads before walking away and leaving him to his fate. Shikamaru, Choji, and Kiba, who he'd thought of as friends even back in the Academy, were all laughing about how he "fell for it" and "really thought we were his friends". Shino just readjusted his glasses and said it was "logical to purge the village of the demon". By now, Naruto was sobbing openly; he didn't expect pity, nor did he receive it. Ino, near the back of the crowd, just tossed her hair before ignoring him completely; from where Naruto was, it looked like she was gossiping with someone.
Naruto looked around the crowd through tear-filled eyes, hoping to find Hinata there, hoping she wouldn't have abandoned him. There she was...looking at him and grinning. She was laughing at him! Naruto felt his heart break; even Hinata, who had cried over his grave, had abandoned him? Then he heard her voice, so soft, usually so gentle. "And to think there was a day when I may have loved you...but that was before I found out what you really are. Demon!" she said, hate and scorn filling her voice. Naruto wished in that moment that whoever was doing all this would just kill him and let him escape this torture.
Itachi's voice sounded out, "You've only got seventy-one hours left." In that moment, Naruto despaired. He sobbed, he screamed, he covered his ears and closed his eyes, but somehow he could still both see and hear. Over the next several hours, though to Naruto it seemed like years, the blond witnessed his friends rejecting him repeatedly, saw each of them killed both in front of him and by him, saw his parents telling him they hated him and that he was a demon, and saw the three kunoichi of the Rookie Nine raped, beaten, and killed over and over again. He even saw Sasuke killed and his eyes stolen more than once. He lost count of how many times he screamed, how many times he cried, and how many times he wished for death.
Then Naruto began to see his own death. He saw it at the hands of strangers, at the hands of each and every person he knew in Konoha, at the hands of ninja, at the hands of civilians, even at the hands of a child on one occasion. After a while, Naruto just curled himself into a ball and sobbed, trying to ignore the terrible things he was being shown. One thing Naruto couldn't forget, though, was seeing the cold look everyone gave him in Hinata's eyes. For some reason, that one hurt the most.
The green-spandex-clad ninja entered the Leaf Village Hospital with Naruto hanging on his back. He called for a nurse, and one appeared after a moment. "Yes, Sir?" she said.
Guy gently brought Naruto down from his back and held him in front of his body. "This boy is suffering under an extremely powerful genjutsu," he said.
The nurse thought a moment, then turned and grabbed a gurney from nearby. Guy laid Naruto's limp body on it, and soon the nurse, Guy, and Naruto were in a room, Naruto hooked up to two IV drips and seemingly resting. The illusion would have been perfect had Naruto not whimpered and sobbed occasionally and had there not been tears falling from his eyes every few minutes.
"Whoever did this must really be upsetting him," the nurse commented. Guy nodded and sat down in a chair nearby. "Sir, I'm sorry, but you'll have to go."
Guy looked up at her. "Are you being held personally responsible for this boy's safety by Jiraiya of the Sannin?" he asked her. She looked confused, then shook her head. "Well, I am. So, sorry but, rules or not, I'm staying." The nurse looked annoyed, then eventually just nodded and left Guy to watch over Naruto.
Hinata was making her way out of her clan compound that afternoon when she heard it. "Did you hear?" a voice asked from nearby. Hinata, being used to being unnoticed, moved closer so she could hear. "I guess that weird Jonin Might Guy just got back to the village carrying the demon brat on his back. From what I heard, it looked like the brat was hurt really bad! Maybe we'll finally be rid of him!"
Hinata thought about what she'd heard for a few minutes. Then, "NARUTO!" she yelled and took off toward the hospital at a run, knowing Guy-sensei would take the boy there if he was really in as bad of shape as the people she'd heard seemed to think.
Arriving at the hospital, Hinata took a moment to catch her breath, then turned to the young woman at the reception counter. "Naruto Uzumaki," she said, her manner demanding an answer. "Where is he?"
The young woman flipped through her charts. "He's in room 312," she said. She was about to add that Hinata couldn't go there, but she didn't get a chance; Hinata was already out of sight.
Hinata opened the door to room 312. She looked in and saw Naruto laying on the bed; then she got a shock: Guy-sensei himself was still in the room. The girl turned her eyes onto the man who had brought Naruto here. "Guy-sensei," she said. The man turned to her, magnificent eyebrows raised, eyes questioning. "What happened to Naruto? Why is he in the hospital?" Hinata's voice, though quiet, brooked no argument and demanded that Guy tell her what she wanted to know.
Guy spent the next twenty minutes explaining what he knew: that Naruto had saved Sasuke from Itachi and gotten hit with some kind of genjutsu as a result, that Jiraiya and Sasuke were still out there looking for Tsunade to help Naruto, and that Jiraiya was holding Guy himself responsible for Naruto's safety until the Sannin himself could return. Hinata sat back and absorbed this, a grim look on her face.
"And so now you're staying here to make absolutely sure nothing happens to Naruto until Jiraiya, Sasuke, and Tsunade get back, right?" she asked. Guy nodded. "All right, then I shall stay with you."
Guy smiled. "You care for him deeply, don't you?" he asked. Hinata blushed, but nodded. Guy's eyes filled with tears that quickly fell down his face. "Oh, the glories of YOUTH!" he shouted. "It has been far too long since I've seen such youthful passion and love for another as you have displayed here today, young Hinata! Hold to that, work with all your might, and one day, your dreams will be yours!"
Hinata smiled at the Jonin's antics. "Thank you, Guy-sensei," she said softly.
Guy smiled and rested a strong hand on Hinata's shoulder. She looked up at the man, questions in her eyes. "Let us work together to keep an eye on Naruto until Master Jiraiya returns, all right?" he said.
Hinata smiled and nodded, then looked at Guy with a worried look on her face. "Do you really think it's necessary to keep an eye on him, Guy-sensei?"
Guy shook his head. "Not really, no, but Jiraiya is holding me personally responsible for Naruto's safety until he returns, so I'd much rather be safe than sorry," he said. Hinata seemed to accept that and nodded again. Guy breathed a sigh of relief; now he wouldn't have to stay awake for two weeks straight...or however long Jiraiya took to get back to the village.