Ah... the last chapter. Finally. There were days when I never thought I'd get here, and yet here I am. I admit, it's a little rushed, but I've been kinda busy and I'm only gonna get busier once school starts soon so I figured get it over with instead of making you guys wait another few weeks.
DISCLAIMER: I declare thee… DISCLAIMED!
RESPONSES TO GUEST REVIEWS:
Red-Raven129: Thank you so much for reviewing! Heh, laziness? My laziness knows NO bounds. I commend you even going so far as to review. Well, thanks for the compliments. Glad you think so. In all actuality my cliffhangers are just me being too lazy to type what comes next or think about what comes next. Erm, everything revealed? Heh… I have a feeling you're going to be disappointed…
Ovicati: Thanks for reviewing! Well, I dunno about happy and cheery cause I always have angst hidden somewhere… but things certainly took a turn for the worse. You're about to find out whose blood!
Sutefan Rara: BWA HA HA HA! You are my kind of girl! I promise I won't let one of them die… at least until after they finally go all the way, hee. Yup, I love cliffhangers… they're great for lazy people. Thanks for the compliments and reviewing!
Guest: Well, um, it might not be EXACTLY done… you'll see when you get to the bottom. Glad you like it though, and thanks for reviewing!
"Kakashi-Sensei! So glad you're finally here! We're running out of reinforcements. He keeps taking them out faster than we can get help. Lady Hokage's away at the moment..."
"Calm down, Sakura. We've brought him back before, we can do it again, I'm sure. So bring me up to speed. What exactly happened?"
"I don't know much myself… I was working in the hospital when I heard that he'd killed one of the guards and the other barely managed to get away… and that he was 'losing it' or whatever the guard said. I came as fast as I could to help and saw… this."
Sakura motioned to the sea of motionless bodies sprawled on the forest floor dyed in red.
Sakura's green eyes began to fill with unshed tears. "They say… they say that he snapped, and… and we might have to-to take him out…"
"That's the worst-case scenario. But the best-case scenario might not be too much better. There is an awful lot of bodies there…"
"Why, Kakashi-sensei? Why would he do this?" I promised I wouldn't cry anymore… but… it's so hard… when your heart is breaking.
"I don't know Sakura. The only thing I can do, the only thing any of us can do, is to stop him from wreaking any more havoc. I'm going to need your help. Can you do that?"
Sakura blinked back her tears and nodded.
"Even if we have to take him out?"
This time Sakura's response was slower in coming. She nodded her head slowly and said "Y-Yes."
Kakashi looked at her for several more seconds before appearing satisfied with her answer. "Alright. Let's get down to business."
Goddammit… what the hell is going on? Why did he snap like that? I thought everything was going to be fine… I swear, when I catch him I'm going to kick his ass so hard…
The nin paused in his attempts at pursuit when he felt two familiar chakra signatures coming from behind him. He debated whether it would be more prudent to keep following his target or wait for the backup. With a sigh, he decided he most likely wouldn't be able to handle this on his own and waited for them to catch up.
Within seconds Sakura and Kakashi appeared in front of their fellow Konoha nin, ready to put their plan into action. It was an understatement to say that they were surprised to find him waiting; they'd expected him to be in battle already despite the fact that he was alone and the odds would be against him.
"What are you doing here? I thought you'd already be facing off against him." Sakura was the first to speak up.
He shrugged. "I decided it would be useful to have some help. I can't afford to take any risks with him. Now do you have a plan or am I wasting my time?"
Kakashi put his hand up to halt Sakura's raised fist. "Sakura, while I wouldn't mind punching him myself at the moment, it wouldn't be the most prudent thing to do. We need his help. We won't be able to pull this mission off without him."
Sakura scowled but lowered her fist. She knew emotions didn't help on missions, but it was so hard to just leave them behind when the mission became personal. She took a deep breath to try and center herself. She would NOT hinder this mission. And could she really blame him for being stressed at the moment?
"We have an idea, though it's probably insane and we're crazy for even attempting it. But it's all we've got," Sakura said calmly.
"Heh. Sounds like my kind of plan. What do we have to do?"
"A full-frontal attack."
"You're right, that is crazy. Let's do it."
The three of them were just about to head out to execute their plan when more unexpected help arrived. Kiba, Shikamaru , Neji, Lee, and Sai landed in front of what was left of Cell Number Seven.
"We are here to help!" Lee exclaimed. "We don't want him to disappear again, so we'll do everything in our power to bring him back."
"Now I have no idea what made him snap like that, but there must be a logical explanation for it. It's quite troublesome, but I think it would be even moreso if he wasn't around. I'll help and get to the bottom of this," Shikamaru sighed.
Kiba growled from his spot on top of Akamaru, "We're bringing him back, just you watch. He's not getting away that easy."
Neji stood stone-faced. It was obvious he wasn't as convinced as the others, but he was committed nonetheless. "I feel I owe a debt to him," he said simply.
With his usual creepy smile Sai said "He is my teammate too. And a friend. I don't want him to leave, so I will help."
Kakashi stepped forward. "We'll need all the help we can get, thank you. I'll explain the plan in detail now, so listen closely."
This was it. The moment the plan would be executed was rapidly approaching. The various Konoha nin waited patiently in their carefully thought out positions, ready to act at a moment's notice. After running off, their target had reached the edge of Konoha. For an unknown reason he paused before he left it completely. He stood there, looking back at the way he'd come- at Konoha.
It was the perfect opportunity. Mindful that it could potentially be a trap, though unlikely, the team swung into action.
Sakura created a distraction with her monster strength by leaping down from her hiding place in the trees and punching a huge crater in the ground directly in front of the target. The team had decided that Sakura should show herself first because she was the most unexpected. Medic nins were generally supposed to be on the sidelines, not launching full-frontal attacks.
When their target moved to run away again Kiba came up behind, effectively blocking that path. Akamaru growled as a warning. The target frowned, but otherwise did not react. He simply turned to flee in a different direction, only to come face-to-face with another obstacle- Sai and an ink beast.
At this point the target was completely surrounded. That was Neji's cue to leap down and attack him with the Gentle Fist. He did so wordlessly and efficiently but none of his blows were hitting. Anticipating that this could happen, Lee had been told to assist Neji if it looked like he needed it. With a gleeful battle cry of "First Gate: Open!"
An astounding display of taijutsu followed. Lee and Neji attempted to overwhelm the target but they weren't having much luck. Despite being horribly outnumbered he fought against the two Konoha nin without any problems.
Lee opened the second gate and Neji increased the number of palms. Kiba jumped in the battle with his Fang Over Fang attack. Sai joined in, creating many of his ink beasts as possible. Kakashi appeared with a chidori aimed at the target's stomach. Sakura punched and kicked with all her strength.
So why were they being defeated?
The forest clearing was completely covered in ink and blood. Sai panted from his constant state of drawing beast after beast as they were destroyed almost instantly.
Kiba was thrown against a tree with such incredible force that there were audible snaps; from the tree cracking or his bones, he didn't know. Sakura rushed to heal him in case there was anything fatal.
Lee was on the third gate but was quickly losing stamina.
Neji's attacks were hitting, but so were the target's. He couldn't fathom a guess as to how many kunai were stuck in him and how many chakra attacks he'd taken head-on. It was getting hard to think straight.
Shikamaru watched from his place in the trees. He was the second-to-last line of defense and was instructed not to reveal himself unless everyone before him was defeated. And it looked like he might have to step out any second now. None of them could keep this up much longer.
Slash after slash. Punch after punch. Kick after kick. Stab after stab. Ninjutsu after Ninjutsu. Attack after attack. Slowly but surely the Konoha nin were defeated.
The target stood there, breathing heavily. There was no emotion in his face. He was completely guarded. Shit… I had no idea he was this powerful. Well, this makes the second rescue mission I completely fucked up. But something seems wrong… maybe I can get through to him. No one else tried to talk to him because we figured it'd be useless, but I guess it can't hurt to try.
Shikamaru landed in front of the target. His eyes widened, but remained expressionless. When he lifted a hand to presumably launch another attack Shikamaru quickly lifted his hands up in the air in a sign of surrender. "I just want to talk. Hear me out."
The target stood still, so Shikamaru took that as a signal to continue. He breathed a sigh of relief. "Look, you did some questionable things. We have no idea why you're doing this, but we're willing to hear your side of the story. There's no need to leave Konoha. We'll get to the bottom of this together, okay. Let us help you. We're not your enemies here."
The guarded mask the target wore finally broke upon hearing Shikamaru's words. He looked irritated and desperate all in one. Shikamaru's suspicions that something wasn't right with this situation was confirmed, though he still had no idea what that could be.
"I have to do this," the target whispered. "I have to. There's no other way, no matter how much I wish there was. So just let me do this. If you get in my way, you'll regret it."
Shikamaru's mind whirled with all the new information he'd received from those few words. He began to try to put together the pieces of a very complicated puzzle. But the bigger picture was still a mystery. "If you'd just explain what it is you have to do exactly, then maybe we could help-"
"No. Either let me go or get hurt. I don't want to hurt you, but I will."
As fast as he could Shikamaru activated his Shadow Possession jutsu, freezing the target. Though he couldn't move an inch, Shikamaru could see the storm brewing in his eyes. He could also feel the other's chakra working against his, trying to escape the jutsu. The force of the dark chakra was almost overpowering, and Shikamaru found himself struggling to maintain control of his jutsu. Despite his efforts the poisonous chakra was too powerful and overloaded his possession jutsu.
Before he knew it Shikamaru had a kunai in his shoulder and his palm. He cried out in pain and fell to the forest floor. Shit… I can't use anymore jutsu. He's going to get away.
Before he took to the trees to flee the target paused. He whispered one word that caused Shikamaru to freeze in shock and rethink everything about this mission.
"Wait, Sakura. You can't go after him yourself."
Sakura turned around to see her sensei on the ground with his one gray eye open and watching her carefully. She glared defiantly and growled "Watch me."
"He's too fast. He's probably almost to the border by now. With your leg like you won't get very far."
"You know I'm right! You need time to heal yourself first. And you have quite a few others that need help. Neji's lost a good amount of blood."
"A medic team will get here soon-"
Sakura jumped at the tone her sensei used. She knew he was right. She knew. But that didn't mean she had to like it. She would give anything to be chasing after her teammate right this moment. But as Kakashi said, she had people that needed healing. Not to mention the hole in her leg.
Sakura slumped against a tree in defeat. Kakashi sighed in approval. She began the lengthy process of repairing the damage to her leg so that she could heal the others as well. Several seconds later a figure appeared in front of her that made her eyes widen and nostrils flare in anger.
"What are you doing here? You were supposed to follow him!" Sakura spat.
"I am, but there's something I need to ask Shikamaru."
Hearing his name Shikamaru looked up from his spot slumped against a tree. His fellow Konoha nin appeared in front of him with an agitated expression. Shikamaru guessed that was because his every muscle was ready to chase after the target at any given second. It was in Shikamaru's best interests to speak as quickly as possible. "There's more to this than meets the eye. Something's going on behind the scenes that he isn't telling us. He told me 'I have to do this.' And the look in his eyes… I really don't think he wanted to do this."
The other Konoha nin looked thoughtful for a moment before moving to pursue the target. But a hasty "Hold on," from Kakashi had him pausing in his tracks.
"I agree with Shikamaru. If he had really snapped I believe it would be much worse than it is. Did you notice that he only killed some people? Most that were wounded were not fatal. It's like he was choosing his victims. He didn't harm any of us more than what he knew Sakura could heal fairly easily once she herself was healed," Kakashi said quietly.
"You think I didn't know all that?"
"I understand that you know him best. But sometimes you need to be objective."
"Alright, I'll get to the point. Borrow my nin dogs. They'll help you track him, because by now he has a pretty good headstart. I'll make sure they'll listen to what you say." Kakashi weaved in quick succession a series of handsigns. Seconds later two dogs appeared from a cloud of smoke.
"Kakashi? What do you want?" Pakkun yawned, as if he had just woken from a nap.
"We need you to follow this scent at all costs," Kakashi held out a strand of hair that he'd plucked during the battle for such an occasion.
Pakkun sniffed it, as did his partner. "Ah, I remember him. How is he doing?"
"He could probably be better, as he just killed over a dozen people in cold blood."
"He will be going with you. Follow his orders." Kakashi nodded towards the nin next to him.
"Oh. You. Ah well, let's let bygones be bygones, shall we?" Pakkun looked up with guarded eyes that still looked a little drowsy.
The teen shrugged. "I'm going."
"Good luck. You're going to need it."
And he left.
He ran. As fast as he could, he ran. Never resting, never stopping, nor did his target. The nin dogs had tired out and were only able to point him in the right direction the scent was leading before poofing back wherever they'd come from. But still no sign of the target.
Damn it, where the hell is he? I've been at this for almost half a day! Those damn dogs better not have given me a dead trail.
He didn't have a ton of experience in tracking, but he had done it before. There was no way to be a hundred percent sure at the moment, but he was confident he was going in the right direction. No matter how long it took he'd do everything within his power to find his target.
He better not have done anything stupid! If he does, I'll kick his ass! If anyone else from the village captures him who knows what will happen to him. Not everyone is as gentle as me. And who knows where the Akatsuki is. Godforbid if he comes across them alone. At that thought, he willed himself to run even faster.
It wasn't until almost two days straight of running that he found his first real clue. He knew by now that he'd long since passed the border to the Fire Country. He couldn't be bothered to think about his whereabouts now, however.
The Konoha nin passed by the tree trunk with a slash in the center, almost as if it was pointing him in the right direction. The potential to be a trap was low, considering who he was pursuing. It wasn't his style. The sense that he got from the marking on the tree was that of anxiety, or perhaps desperation.
Not long after leaving the tree behind a scent hit his noise with the force of a rasengan, or worse. It was not completely unexpected, however. Resisting the urge to gag and get as far away from the offending odor as possible he continued on to its source.
He came upon a clearing that would have been beautiful any other day. The lush green grass, flowering shrubs, and the thick emerald-colored leaves on the tall trees surrounding the clearing made for a picture-perfect scene.
If it wasn't covered in blood, that is.
His target stood in the middle of the clearing with his back to him. He did not move an inch even when the Konoha nin approached. Only when he was a few feet away did the target finally acknowledge his presence.
"They followed me here. I didn't want to dirty such a beautiful place, but I had to." He said, finally breaking the tense silence.
The Konoha nin crept a little closer, ignoring the bodies on the forest floor. "I'll bring you back," he whispered, "even if I have to break every single bone in your body."
"Heh," the target laughed bitterly, "Now where have I heard that before?"
The silence continued. The tension kept building and building until only a hastily said word could break it. They came spilling out without meaning to, and once he started he found he couldn't stop. "I… I had to. I had to. I'll even play the bad guy if I have to, if it means I can save those I care about."
The Konoha nin's head snapped up. Whatever he'd been expecting, it was not this. He opened his mouth to ask what that meant when-Cough. He fell to his knees, coughing up an unhealthy amount of blood.
The hand that wasn't supporting him flew to the brand-new hole in his chest.
Through blurred eyes he finally glimpsed the face of his target turn to his own. Their eyes met in a clash of sky blue and midnight black. In the eyes of the one he was supposed to bring back home, the Konoha nin saw a flurry of emotions. There was desperation, as he'd guessed. Certainly anxiety and fatigue. But the emotion that was most apparent was one that he knew all too well- an overwhelming sadness.
"I'm sorry," the target whispered, "Don't hate me. Just please don't hate me."
He wanted to respond, but he couldn't. There was too much blood lodged in his throat. He spat up more, trying to clear it. His vision was becoming dark along the edges; fading fast. The last thing he saw before blacking out completely were several different black cloaks with red clouds emerging from the trees.
And his target headed straight for them.
"I'm… going to…" hack, more blood, "bring you back… no matter… what." Although his voice was barely audible even to his own ears, the target halted in his tracks as if he had heard him anyway. A faint glimmer of hope spread through him when the target turned around with so many conflicting emotions crossing his face in way that was not quiet sane.
He whispered the name of the one he was supposed to bring back, the one he was supposed to love, the one he was supposed to fight alongside always. He whispered it with everything he had, even as his eyes were closing and he heard the flurry of leaves that meant he was now alone.
He'd bring him back. No matter what it took. No matter what obstacle stood in his way, even death, he would bring him back. He would survive, and he would bring him back. Something like this would not deter him. He'd lived through so much more, and he would Bring. Him. Back.
WARNING: SUPER DUPER MEGA ULTRA LONG A/N
And there you have it. I know the battle scene completely and utterly sucked. I know it might have been a little confusing… just to clarify in case it was worse than I thought, Naru is the target. Which means Sasuke is the Konoha nin. I felt the need to make this chapter mysterious for reasons unknown. So yes, Naru is the one that leaves Konoha. Comprende?
So please, no matter what you thought of it I would really love to hear your thoughts. Please review. I shall pledge my undying love for you if you do. I will of course answer any questions you have. I've always made it my policy to respond to every single review I receive, though I admit I may occasionally forget the guest ones. For one last time… push that button at the bottom? Push it good? Push it REAL GOOD? Sorry, I couldn't resist…I was just at a wedding…
Before I start saying my goodbyes I kinda somewhat sorta have an announcement to make… :ahem: Target was initially intended as a trilogy. Which means that there would be a SEQUEL.
…but that's only if I feel like writing it.
I have ideas for a sequel and in some ways they might even be more fleshed out than this one was. I actually thought of most of my ideas for the sequel before this one. And because I know this story feels incomplete because not everything is explained in the end. Like I said, initially meant to have a sequel. But the problem is I don't know if I feel like writing it now… I just don't think there's the demand for it. But if I find out there is then perhaps I will consider writing it. Someday. A LONG time from now. And if it turns out I don't want to write the sequel but there are those of you who want to know what the heck happened, I assure you I won't forget about you. So if you could include in your review whether you'd be interested in a sequel or not (which would include more yaoi!) please let me know. I would appreciate it. A LOT.
So as I prepare myself to change this fic from 'in progress' to 'complete' I want to say thank you.
To everybody that alerted…
To everybody that favorited…
To everybody that reviewed…
To everybody that read this…
To everybody that had a kind word…
A big, huge, THANK YOU! I want to give each and every one of you a bear hug, a dozen cookies, and a sports car. You're that awesome. I'd love to fondle every one of you :D This has NOT been easy, but you guys made it so much fun! You guys seriously warmed the cockles of my nonexistent black heart. Thank you for all the encouragement and laughs you have given me. I kind of stumbled upon the world of yaoi and fanfiction, but now I'm never leaving. This definitely won't be the last you hear of me. I have plenty of plotbunnies fighting to get out my airhead. LOTS of them will be Sasunaru, of course! I already have my next fic lined up. Hint: the source material starts with a J. lol, I probably just gave it away. It probably won't be too long before I have it up and running.
Once again, thank you! I love you guys! Adios! :waves: