The Sunagakure Delegation (Part 4)

Sakura was jumping from tree to tree following Shizune; the pink haired medic was the one who had suggested that the trio join the main battle with the Sannins since the village defense was now being assisted by the Kazekage and his siblings. Sakura was sure that the village's protection was in the hands of a much stronger person. Behind her Ino looked a little tired but she had insisted that she accompany Shizune and her best friend because she also considered Tsunade a teacher who had become a trusted companion with her and Sakura. If anyone were to ever ask what relationship Sakura, Ino, Shizune, and Tsunade shared, there would be no doubt that their answers would be that of siblings. "Hey Sakura, are you sure you are going in the right direction?" called Ino bringing the other medic out of her thoughts.

"Yes, why do you ask?" asked Sakura in a slightly miffed voice.

"Because we have been traveling for a quarter of an hour now and still there is no sight of the battlefield, don't you think they will be fighting closer to the village wall than that?" Ino replied Sakura's question with a question of her own.

"Will you two stop squabbling already, see we are already at the battlefield," said Shizune raising her voice a little bit so the girls heard her but not too much or she risked revealing any nearby foes to their presence.

"Oh," breathed Sakura as she came to a dead stop and just watched with her mouth a little open. She had never seen shinobis fighting like this, so openly and so many going against just as many opposing ninjas. This was the first time that Sakura was witnessing a full-scale war and she was just stumped at the amount of bloodshed, fighting, and violence that was going on in just one place. Shizune noticed that Ino was having the same reactions as Sakura while she stood behind her friend and witnessed a war for the first time in her life.

"Getting to Tsunade-sama will be difficult," mumbled Shizune, but it did not go unheard by the two other kunoichis.

"Yea, she is in the middle of the field where as we are at the edge, getting to her would mean that we have to cross a field full of enemy shinobis, so how the hell are we going to get there?" asked Ino as she had already deduced what Shizune had meant by her previous comment.

"Uhh…uhh…" stuttered Shizune but could not come up with a solid answer so she just shrugged uncertainly.

"I believe a camouflage jutsu would work," said a voice behind them, but Ino did not have to turn to know who it was.

"Fox!" said Sakura, a little startled at the sudden and completely silent approach of the ANBU.

"Yes, is there something you needed to tell me?" he asked in an emotionless voice as he continued to stare at her making her a little self conscious.

"Yes, I wanted to thank you for saving my, Ino's, and Hinata's life back there. If you had not showed up we would probably be dead right now," replied Sakura as a faint blush rose to her cheeks, thank god it was dark.

"Man, he has been ANBU for only a day and already he would be considered a hero once word got out that he was the one that defended the village against Sasuke and his goons," thought Ino, she was getting more and more intrigued by this mysterious ninja, and she was determined to find out exactly who he was and how in the world did he become so strong? It was understandable for Sasuke, not only was he extremely talented, he also had the Sharingan, and was training constantly with a Sannin for four years continuously. But no Konoha ninja had the same amount of training or a famed teacher like Orochimaru other than Sakura and herself, and they would not be able to hold a candle to this blonde ANBU if he had been able to take out the Uchiha without so much as getting a single cut on him.

"You are welcome, now as I was saying a camouflage jutsu is the best way to get to the Sannins undetected by the enemies."

"Camouflage jutsu?" asked Sakura in a confused voice. She had served in ANBU for a full year yet she had no idea such kinds of jutsus existed.

"Sakura, a camouflage jutsu does exactly what it is named for. It hides the user from prying eyes and only highly trained shinobis and sensor type ninjas would be able to tell if someone is under a camouflage jutsu or not," explained Ino much to the surprise of Sakura and Shizune.

"How did you know about these?" asked the pink haired medic a little skeptically.

"Uh hello, I was Shikamaru's teammate remember? And their bloodline jutsus was made for stealth attacks, so when we did team trainings, Asuma sensei taught us a lot about how to hide from enemy ninjas and stuff like that. So I know a few things about stealth," replied Ino a little airily but nobody was paying any attention to her, now Ino's two companions were staring at Fox, waiting for him to perform a camouflage technique. The mask wearing ninja made a single seal with his left hand and a heavy fog rolled over the area, completely coating the entire battlefield in a matter of seconds.

"Hey, I know this jutsu," chirped Sakura suddenly as she remembered her first mission outside Konoha. "This was one of Zabuza's most favored techniques because he could hunt without using his eyes."

"Yes you are right; this technique was developed in Mist. And anyone with even the slightest water affinity in their chakra system can easily use this jutsu, though it does take a lot of chakra if you are using a large area like this battle field," said Fox, he was openly complimenting the medic, much to Sakura's unnatural pleasure and Ino's chagrin. Shizune just smiled to herself, it seemed Naruto had not changed as much as she thought when she first laid eyes on him after four years. "And you are also correct," said Fox now turning his head to look at the blonde medic, who was now blushing just as much as her friend. "Though I am a little surprised that they do not teach these in ANBU, after all stealth is one of their key skill set, they are black ops for a reason."

"I know Na…Fox, that is why Tsunade-sama is trying to find out a way to improve the ANBU unit and the training that the shinobis are given once they enter the black ops. Hopefully the bill she has proposed will pass and the new training regime will be put into action," said the oldest of the tree medics. Fox did not miss the slip up, and his identity would have been blown if she had not controlled herself. He nodded stiffly, pulled a kunai with each hand before gesturing them to follow as he leaped off the tree branch where they were all perched on and right into the throng of fighting shinobis. A second later they heard six thuds before a hand shout out of the mist and beckoned them to jump. When they did, Sakura nearly cursed and Ino just stared openmouthed. Six Oto Shinobis lay dead, and Shizune had to wonder just how strong ha Naruto become to drop six Nins in no more than a second?

"Alright, let's move," said Fox in a low voice and the three medics started to follow the blonde ANBU through the enemy ranks of Oto. They reached the Sannins soon enough and it seemed that the Hokage and Orochimaru were talking about some kind of bargain.

"What is going on shisou?" asked Sakura as she turned to look at the smug face of the snake Sannin. She, Shizune and Ino had easily climbed up on Katsuyu, so now they could see all too clearly what the expressions were on the Sannins' faces. By the looks of it the bargain was not going in favor of Tsunade and Jiraiya.

"He has taken a hostage," said Tsunade with a sigh as she indicated towards the pale man with a hand.

"A hostage?" asked Ino in a concerned voice. "Who?"

"I don't know but he says that if we don't take back our own forces back to the village, he will kill her," replied the blonde Kage.

"One hostage, Tsunade-sama don't you think that the good of the many outweigh the needs of the few in this situation?" asked Shizune nervously, though she knew just how much her mentor cared for the village, and its inhabitants.

"Yes, but then what? What will happen to the hostage he has after that?" asked Tsunade in a whisper.

"Can you at least tell us who this hostage is?" asked Jiraiya from where he was standing atop Gamabunta's head.

"Why I believe you know her quite well," said Orochimaru as he seemed to pick up something that was lying by his feet. It quickly became apparent as he held the heavily bruised and unconscious form of Anko Mitarashi. He was easily holding her up for the Sannins to see by the back of her neck, and by the wounds that he had inflicted on her; it was quite obvious to the medics that if she was not treated quickly, the interrogator would die.

"Damn!" cursed Ino under her breath, since she had become an interrogator, she was signed to follow Anko as her trainer in the department. At first the Yamanaka was thoroughly disgusted and a little afraid of the way that the Snake summoner behaved with her prisoners. But as she came to know the woman better and better she realized just how hard her life had become after she came back to Konoha escaping the Snake Sannin's grasp. The people of the village viewed her as nothing more than an accomplice of the traitor while some just outright thought that she was his personal plaything. It did not help the fact that the overly revealing way she dressed only made the people's negative beliefs stronger. The only people she could think of who actually knew Anko was Kurenai, her own sensei Asuma, Kakashi, Gai, Tenzo, head of the ANBU department under the Hokage, her father Inoichi, Ibiki head of the interrogation division, her shisou Tsunade-sama, and surprisingly her old academy instructor Iruka. Heck by Anko's own words they had even gone on dates together, which she found a little hard to believe considering the polar opposite personalities of the two people.

"So what do you intend to do Tsunade-sama," asked Shizune, she knew that no matter what her mentor did, she would always support her decision and stand by her side. Orochimaru chuckled coldly as he let the body of Anko drop behind him with an audible thud, even over the din of the battlefield.

"I suppose the only way I can save her life is by recalling all our shinobis back to Konoha," said the blonde Sannin as she rubbed her temples. She yet had to know what happened back in the village as she had heard from Orochimaru that Sasuke intended to infiltrate the village for some personal purposes, but she trusted that the Kazekage was more than up to the job of defending it against someone such as Sasuke.

"There is another way," came the calm, and in this case, reassuring voice of a masked shinobi as he landed deftly next to Jiraiya atop Gamabunta. Tsunade turned to see the masked ninja staring at her intently, and also noticed the mischievous twinkle in his eyes that he usually got when he had a prank planned in his head.

"And what other way is that?" asked the Godaime Hokage.

"I propose a trade," replied the blonde calmly, but he was grinning like a mad man behind his mask, oh this was going to be fun! He initially got the idea after he captured the Uchiha and put a seal of unconsciousness on him, and actually thought that he could pull it off.

"What could you, a simple ANBU, possibly possess that would make me trade my leverage for?" asked the black-haired Sannin, his voice dripping with disdain as he laid his eyes for the first time to the tall ANBU standing next to his white haired teammate Jiraiya.

"How does he sound?" said the blonde as he quickly pulled out a rather large scroll before laying it flat on the Toad Boss's head. Performing a quick hand seal, there was a puff of smoke. Jiraiya gave a hearty laugh when he saw who it was that Fox had captured. Naruto finally grabbed Sasuke and held it for Orochimaru to see; who seemed to have become paler, if that was at all possible.

"So what do you say?" asked Fox again.

"I agree to this trade," said the Sannin instantly, how in the world did an ANBU capture Sasuke, for that matter he didn't think anyone in Konoha was actually strong enough to beat Sasuke other than the Sannins. Fox nodded and placed two fingers on his limp adversary's forehead. After a faint glow as a seal appeared there, Sasuke's eyes snapped open as the masked ninja set him down upon his feet. Without any indication or confirmation the raven haired boy jumped from the toad's head and landed on Manda's, much to the annoyance of the Hokage and her friend, Jiraiya.

"Now give back Anko," said the masked ninja only to hear the cold cackle of the black haired Sannin.

"Dear boy, do you really think…" Orochimaru started to say, only to be interrupted as Sasuke picked up the purple haired Kunoichi and started to move towards Gamabunta. "Sasuke what are you doing?" Sasuke turned his expressionless face at him before giving a very un-Sasuke like grin, and jumped towards the massive toad. Orochimaru instantly threw two kunais at the figure in midair, where the blades embedded themselves on his back, but with a puff of smoke the figure vanished. "Shadow clone, I should have known!" growled Orochimaru to himself. The momentum and inertia of Anko made her reach all the way to the toad boss's head where Fox caught her carefully before setting her down gently on her back. Instantly Shizune was by her side giving medical help to the fallen Kunoichi.

"For someone who has achieved the rank of Sannin, you are very stupid," remarked Fox, and the snake Sannin bristled. Jiraiya and Tsunade on the other hand, laughed outright, while Shizune, Sakura, and Ino held their mouths. The brazen behavior of this ANBU was quite hilarious, given the setting and mood of the place.

"YOU DARE TO MOCK ME!" roared the man standing to his full height on the Snake Boss's head.

"No," said the masked ANBU calmly. "I am just stating what I am seeing." He knew he was only getting the man angrier at him but that was his intention, usually people started making mistakes when anger overruled their judgments, something he had learned the hard way and had to work hard to get control over his base emotions, impatience, and somewhat short tempered head. Jiraiya put a hand on Fox's shoulder, as he saw his old teammate's face redden with rage, before leaning in towards his ears.

"Enough gaki," whispered the Toad Sage, though the mirth that was in his voice was clearly readable. "Or you are going to make him blow up in his own anger."

"Whatever you say Ero-Sannin," he whispered right back. Yet, he had his eyes trained on the Sannin who seemed to be pulling something out of his mouth. Soon it was obvious as he now held a three and a half foot long sword in a hand, his narrow eyes glinting dangerously as he glared at the ANBU with unmasked hatred. Fox whistled softly as he saw the Kusanagi in Orochimaru's hands admiringly, another sentient sword that unfortunately had fallen into the wrong hands.

"You will die today boy," spat the Otokage as he raised his blade pointing it towards the tall ANBU, who on the other hand was grinning dangerously behind his mask. He pulled another scroll out and flipped it in the air where it unfurled and with a puff of smoke a massive sword fell out, landing on the waiting hands of the ANBU, who almost lazily lifted it up before resting it across his shoulders.

"Bring it snake breath," he muttered as he leaped off the toad's head at the same time Orochimaru did. Kubiriki Bocho met Kusanagi in a shower of sparks before both the shinobis flipped away from each other and landed in the battlefield. Other ninjas scrambled in haste to get away from the dangerous and powerful Otokage, they had no intention of facing his wrath when there were other Sannins to deal with him as needed. Soon, the two combatants had a perfect circle formed around them as they sized up their opponents with a critical eye. Fox noted from his peripheral vision as Tsunade, Jiraiya, Sakura, and Ino landed behind him, while the summons waded among the throng of shinobis to watch the fight unfold.

"Jiraiya," rumbled Gamabunta as he looked at the blonde fighting his primary summoner's old teammate. "Is that who I think it is?"

"Yeah pops," said Gamakichi as he flew out of nowhere and landed on top of Gamabunta's head.

"Hmmm," thought the Toad boss with a small frown as he puffed some more on his tobacco.

"What are you talking about Bunta?" asked Katsuyu as she slithered he way closer to the cigar smoking toad boss. Instead of replying out loud, he just shook his head letting the snail know that now was not the time to ask such questions, as it was the toad boss already feared that this time the blonde had bargained more than he could chew.

It quickly became evident to Fox that if Sasuke was an above average swordsman, Orochimaru was brilliant. He handled Kusanagi with more grace, power, and skill that Sasuke had yet to possess, and was proving himself to be a formidable opponent, quite a feat since he was, for all sense and purposes, fighting a Swordsman of the Mist. One trained by none other than Kisame himself, using the blade that was wielded by the dreaded Demon of the Mist. Yes, to say Orochimaru was good at wielding a sword would be the understatement of the century. Still Fox found that he could more than match his opponent in skill and also found himself enjoying the little 'match' he was having with the Sannin. It was definitely lot better than fighting an amateur like Sasuke, who only strove to cut rather than accepting the more subtle and finer qualities of using a blade.

Once again the pink haired medic found herself mesmerized by the deadly dance that the blonde ANBU was playing with the Snake Sannin. But this time, it just wasn't herself. Tsunade and Jiraiya were definitely trying to figure out where the brat stood since he was handling the massive cleaver like it weighed no more than a twig, and was quite good at using it. Ino and Shizune, it seemed, forgot how to breathe as they watched the game of life and death that the masked shinobi was playing with one of the most dangerous criminals in all the elemental nations. "Uh shouldn't you guys be helping him?" asked the Yamanaka heiress as she couldn't bear to watch the talented ANBU give up his life fighting someone who was obviously beyond his league when there were others who were more than competent in taking on a Sannin.

"We can't, they are using weapons that we have no training in," said the white haired Sannin as he shook his head slowly.

"But sooner or later he is going to lose," hissed the blonde Hokage in his old teammate's ear, making him look at her a little oddly.

"What makes you so sure?" he whispered back. To that the Godaime had no answer. She just settled for giving a glare to the white haired Sannin before turning back to look at the two fighters. Still it was amazing to watch the ANBU hold his own using the massive sword against the lightning quick attack sequences that his foe was using with the much lighter blade.

"Time to turn it up a notch," thought Fox with a grin before dropping his gravity seal. Orochimaru's eyes went wider as suddenly his opponent seemed to disappear in thin air.

"MOVE BACK!" the ANBU yelled as he had appeared above his opponent and was now dropping on top of him, sword pointed downwards. Shinobis ran away from the combatants, it was quite understandable if wide ranged area attacks were being used, it could potentially harm everyone standing in its radius. Tsunade grabbed Ino while Jiraiya had Sakura before both the Sannins jumped away from the fighters. The Snake Sannin looked up before diving to the side, he did not like the fact that a massive sword was coming at him from above. What he disliked more, though, was the fact that like a mini-tornado, a column of wind was spinning around the length of the blade of Kubiriki Bocho.

"Damn," was all he said before his opponent landed where he had been seconds ago and drove his sword deep into the ground. Next thing that Orochimaru felt could only be described as an earthquake because all the compressed wind got released into the ground spiked outward with massive force, destroying everything within a twenty meter radius. Fox stood on a perfectly circular pillar as everything around him was nothing more than a massive twelve meters deep crater. Many jaws had hit the floor, and even more pairs of eyes were staring at the aftermath of the attack with awe.

"W-what happened?" asked Sakura, not really understanding how a simple sword strike could be so devastating.

"He was using compressed wind around his sword to make the area of attack larger," replied Jiraiya, as if that should explain everything but all Sakura did was blink a few times before turning towards Tsunade, Ino was also giving her the same look. The Godaime sighed as she shook her head before explaining more elaborately.

"You realize how we make mini earthquakes with our extremely strong punches right?" She saw the medics nod before continuing. "Well what Fox did has the same basic principle. Using compressed wind chakra around his blade made his strike very powerful, and when he released all that force under the ground, it had to come out somewhere, so it went outwards destroying the layers of earth above it, thus forming a crater and destroying everything it came into contact with."

"Oh," said Sakura before realizing what her teacher was indicating. "Then the force behind the attack must have been tremendously strong."

"Yes, well elemental techniques have their advantages," said Jiraiya as he smirked at seeing just how much Naruto's chakra control has improved.

"Yo," came a voice from behind the medics making Ino and Sakura jump while Tsunade just gave them a passing glance before turning back to see Fox looking around in the crater trying to locate his foe.

"Kakashi-sensei, you need to stop doing that!" exclaimed Sakura as she let go of her chest before indicating to the Fox masked ANBU. "Do you know who he is?"

"I have to say that I do not," replied Kakashi.

"What happened to the Oto unit Hatake?" cracked the white haired Sannin's deep voice into the Jounin's thoughts.

"They retreated," said the green spandex wearing. "Our flames of youth were too much for them to handle," Gai then shouted before giving the 'nice guy' pose.

"And what about Kabuto?" asked Tsunade in a serious voice.

"He escaped," replied Kakashi in a disappointed voice.

"So this is the only unit left?" asked a new voice making all of the turn around to see Fox.

"What…when did you…" Ino turned back to see Fox was still looking at the crater trying to locate the elusive Snake Sannin.

"Are you telling me that he was a clone this whole time?" asked Jiraiya in a completely stunned voice.

"Oh yeah, sorry about that I had to make sure that he remained with me," said Fox and for the first time everybody seemed to notice the unconscious figure hanging over his shoulder. A silence descended on the group as no one was sure what to say.

"At least we were able to catch one of Orochimaru's accomplices," said the Godaime Hokage at last. "Now we will be able to extract more information about the traitor and what he has been up to."

"I don't think that will happen," said Fox, his voice was serious meaning he was all about business right now.

"And why is that?" demanded the Toad Sage in a genuinely curious voice.

"I checked his camp out in the forest yesterday, he has enough reinforcements to call all of his units back with fresh troops, do you think we can handle that right now as we stand?" asked the ANBU, it was obvious that Konoha was not ready to take any more of this.

"So you intend to use him as…a bargain to make Orochimaru leave?" Jiraiya knew the blonde well enough to know what he intended to do.

"We…we can't do that!" exclaimed Sakura suddenly, she needed to know what happened to Team Seven, what happened to 'him' that day. Tsunade also turned to look at her student with anger written clearly across her features.

"What do you mean we cannot do that?" shouted the Hokage in anger. She could not believe that Sakura still had her childhood crush for the traitor. The pink haired medic suddenly felt like the same vulnerable girl she used to feel like four years ago. And she absolutely hated that helpless and weak feeling. She looked around and saw all the people looking at her wither with disappointment or pity, even Ino averted her eyes when their eyes met. And then her eyes landed on the masked ninja's eyes and she was surprised to see…understanding? His eyes looked warm, glowing in the dark like two magical gems and showed that he understood what she felt but how could he? Why did he?

"Look, I understand how you must feel, I really do. But you have to understand, is it really worth it to sacrifice all your friends' safety by perusing the benefit of one? Maybe keeping Sasuke Uchiha in Konoha will be a positive influence on him, but by making that choice how many people's lives are you putting at danger right now? And do you really think that Orochimaru will just sit back when he realizes that we have captured his prized student, his next vessel? He will turn this village upside down; massacre every single person in this village if he has to for Sasuke and you know it. So think again, is it really worth it?" Fox spoke, but this time his voice was different, it was neither cold nor emotionless like before. No, his voice was warm, deep, and wonderfully soothing.

"Yes but…I understand," Sakura knew that for the sake of the village it would be the right choice to let Sasuke go, but she still needed to know the big mystery that revolved around the sudden disappearance of the two male members of Team Seven, especially Naruto about whom nobody really knew what had happened. Her hands clenched into fists as her memory wandered back to the loud mouthed knucklehead, how he never got tired of proclaiming his undying love for her in ridiculous and some cases extremely stupid ways, and always managed to cheer her up even when she felt really down. In the last four years she had missed his sunny and bright attitude, maybe even more than she had missed…probably not but he was starting to make a really special spot in her heart for himself before his abrupt disappearance.
"Damn" said Fox suddenly as he turned to see his clone disappearing in a puff of smoke. It seems some of Orochimaru's allied had appeared on the field. He threw Sasuke's body to Jiraiya before disappearing, as he rushed off into the crater.

"What the hell is he doing?" muttered the Toad Sage as he watched three members Team Taka pulling the Otokage out of the rubble. Suigetsu looked at Kubiriki Bocho hungrily after it had fallen off the clone's hands. With shaking hands he reached out for the blade when it suddenly disappeared from his sight.

"You should not take things that do not belong to you," said a voice that instinctively made him jump back a few feet.

"Hmph, so is it really you or just another clone because you cannot man up enough to face me yourself?" asked the Mist assassin, trying to sound as tough as possible because he knew very well that a few hours ago the blonde had beaten him without even breaking a sweat for the second time in his life.

"Care to find out?' said Fox, his voice dark as he took a step forward. Suigetsu gulped and took a step back; he had no intention to get beaten by the Shinobi a second time in the same night, not to mention that he was really sore and injured by their previous encounter. Even if he stood a small chance before, he stood no chance against that monster now. The masked shinobi chuckled before he stopped and held out a hand. "I am not here to fight anyway. When he wakes up tell Orochimaru that we have a final bargain with him, and this one is not a fluke. We will be right there," Fox pointed to the small hill where Konoha's soldiers were still waiting for the Oto shinobis to attack. The Sannins were also there, easily detectable because of their massive summons. Manda, though had disappeared because Orochimaru was knocked unconscious, though Suigetsu had no idea who had done that, but he had a sneaking suspicion that it was none other than the Shinobi standing in front of him. But if he really started believing that, he would have already been sprinting out of this village for his dear life.

"Why did you go back there?" asked Tsunade as soon as Fox returned.

"To let them know that we have something he wants and to get this back," replied the blonde as he took Kubiriki Bocho off his shoulder and held it out to her.

"Is that what I think it is?" asked Jiraiya as he looked at one of the Mist Assassins' most prized possession.

"If you are thinking that this is Zabuza's sword then you are right."

"Kubiriki Bocho, the cleaver, how in the world did you get your hands on something like that?" asked the Toad Sage but when no answer was forthcoming he let it drop. Fox was steadily following the movements of a certain medic as she had moved a little away from the rest of them and was sitting on the ground with a forlorn look on her face. He sighed internally before walking towards Sakura and sitting next to her.

"Hey," said Fox making Sakura jerk her head towards him, startled.

"Oh…" she started but trailed off as she looked again into his eyes and was lost in the oceanic deep blue of his eyes. "Can I ask you something?"

"Sure," said Fox as the corners of his eyes creased, meaning he was smiling under the mask.

"Do you know how it feels…how I feel right now?" she asked before even considering what type of question was coming out of her mouth.

"I can only guess but I know it is one of the hardest decisions that you probably had to take in your life and you made the one that is for the greater good, which makes you a rather selfless kunoichi if you ask me," commented the blonde making Sakura blush a little at the compliment.

"And how can you say that? You don't even know me…you don't know how selfish I was…I am," said the medic, anguish and self hatred evident in her voice. Fox was appalled at her behavior, this not the Sakura he remembered.

"What makes you say that?" he asked in a concerned tone, he did not know what had happened to her but he intended to find out, he still could not bear her pain it seems. He smiled at the irony, the person he considered the reason for his messed up life was also the person he loved

"D-do you know what happened to Team Seven?" she asked and for the first time hoped that he did, it was the first time that she was trusting a complete stranger with her vulnerable side and she did not even know why but it felt so right.

"Mostly bits and pieces, like Sasuke Uchiha's defection for his ridiculous desire for power. Apparently he did not realize that staying in Konoha would have probably made him stronger than just following a single ninja. Naruto Uzumaki's sudden disappearance along with him, though people actually think that he was killed by the Uchiha because he had tried to stop him from leaving, other than that not much really," the ANBU stopped as he looked again at the medic to see her saddened eyes looking at him.

"You know, Naruto was probably the most ridiculous, stupid, and headstrong boy I had ever met but he was also the only person who had the ability to make me laugh no matter what the situation was. In the last four years that I have worked so hard to become strong my only reason was to find out what had truly happened to him, I never really realized it but he was becoming one of my best friends and just how much he meant to me until he disappeared. People always think that I still love Sasuke-kun but the only reason I always chase after him is to know what had happened that day at the valley. Did Naruto also leave the village with him, did he follow the person he considered his brother…was he killed by…by…" Sakura's shoulder shook a little as a lone tear rolled down her cheek.

The only thing that was going through the masked ninja's head was "WHAT THE HELL?"

"So what do you…I mean did you love Naruto Uzumaki?" he dared to ask though he expected to hear a fiery 'no' coming from the pink haired Kunoichi, but the only response he got was a shrug.

"I don't know, but he is the person that I miss in my life the most. If that is love then yes I love him, I just wished that I realized how special he was before…before he left me," the medic shook her head as more tears rolled down her eyes. "I miss him so much," she whispered but froze as two strong arms suddenly encircled her body and held her close. "F-Fox?" she squeaked, it was so sudden and surprising that she did not know what to do so she did the only thing she could. She cried all her frustration, fear, and anxiety away as he held her, making her believe that she was not alone. Ino watched the actions of the duo curiously and smirked a little when the ANBU hugged her friend but mostly kept her whirling thoughts to herself.

Sakura felt the arms holding her snap away as the warm body against her suddenly jumped up. She looked up to see the masked shinobi looking towards the other side of the battlefield before turning his head back towards her and extending his arm to help her up. She took it and got to her feet before letting it go quickly. What the ANBU had seen of her a few moments ago was a weakness, it will not happen again. Fox and Sakura moved back to stand with the Sannins as they saw a small contingent of the opposing army detach itself from the rest and made way towards them.

"Well I seriously hope you did not piss him off too much gaki," muttered Jiraiya as he moved next to Fox with Sasuke's body hanging from his shoulder.

"Yeah me too," thought the masked ANBU as he saw Orochimaru, and he positively looked more pissed than Fox had ever seen him before. The blonde ANBU gulped as they landed a few feet away from their group and the amount of killing intent that Orochimaru was radiating towards the masked boy was so dense that Sakura and Ino backed off from him instinctively.

"You give me back my apprentice right now!" demanded the Snake Sannin as he locked his gaze with the white haired Sannin, who only raised an eyebrow at his anger.

"In one condition," said Fox, surprised that his voice was as steady and cold as it had come out.

"You are in no position to make deals," snarled the Snake summoner, his eyes narrowed. He was not going to be fooled by this ANBU no name; he was a Sannin after all.

"Think again Orochimaru," said the Godaime Hokage as Fox was holding a kunai to the unconscious Uchiha's neck.

"You make on wrong move and he is dead."

"What do you want?" asked the Snake Sannin through gritted teeth.

"Leave Konoha," Tsunade made it as simple as possible, all she wanted was for Orochimaru to leave her village.

"Do you think that I will let this chance to…" Orochimaru stopped speaking as another figure jumped onto Manda.

"Damn," muttered Fox as he saw a severely injured, but very much alive Kabuto Yakushi speaking to the Otokage. The glasses wearing shinobi spoke to his master fast with quick hand gestures. Orochimaru, it seemed, had found something interesting as a grin stretched across his lips. He nodded to his white-haired apprentice, gave a few orders to Team Taka as the leapt off Manda and sped off towards the Oto army, before turning back towards the opposing Sannins.

"Kukuku, Tsunade it seems that a rather sudden turn of events leave me no choice but to accept your proposal," said the Otokage with the sickening grin still on his face. "Give me back my apprentice." Fox immediately made a clone that took Sasuke's body from Jiraiya and delivered it to the waiting arms of Kabuto before disappearing in a puff of smoke.

"Well that was lot less eventful than I expected," muttered Ino only to get shot with three glares and a small chuckle from a certain ANBU.

Alright, first I would like to inform readers that Hinata is not going to be a part of Naruto's love interest, she is taken. Please don't forget to review or P.M. me if you want to discuss the story in more details.

Tanneal