Nostalgic Epiphany

Dry dust rose with each footstep as he approached the large majestic gates slowly revealing themselves in the midst of lush forest. The fatigue was evident in his eyes, but as usual, he ignored his tiredness and every sore muscle, concentrating on the mounting relief of being so close to his home. He could see now the red hiragana letters written on the wooden doors, people walking around going about their daily lives, the stationary guards patrolling the entrance. The familiar scent. The homey sight. The fondness.

He quickly noticed the bright golden strands of hair that easily offset him apart from the crowd, accompanied with vivid blue eyes constantly moving around. He immediately quirked an amused smirk as those eyes finally spotted him and the blond approached with eagerness, a cheeky grin welcoming him back:

"Sensei! Dammit, you're late." He emphasized his impatience with a light punch on his pale arm. "How was your mission?"

He simply answered with a shrug of shoulders.

"Pft, wouldn't hurt you to say something would it?" The blond said, but without any venom laced in his tone.

"Why should I? Besides it was a classified mission so I couldn't talk about it with you dobe, even if I wanted to." He rebutted promptly and unbeknownst to himself, he was lowering his guard and relaxing his posture for the first time after a month of being away.

"Well, how about saying anything to hold a normal conversation that won't make you look like the usual icy bastard I know?" The blond didn't wait for any teasing retort when he rubbed his belly, a jubilant grin plastered on his face. "But that doesn't matter now. I'm hungry! We're going to Ichiraku right?"

He considered for a while, knowing that he still had a report to deliver to the Hokage, as well as needing a decent bath and dinner. But once he met those expectant cerulean eyes, he couldn't bring himself to dismiss him or even put him lower on his list of priorities. He said, his voice serious.

"Not now. Haven't you forgotten that we already have something scheduled for today?"

The blond shifted to follow the somber mood, their walk halting as he responded. "Okay."


His head was throbbing, vision dizzy, and he was slightly out of breath. The roaring waterfalls deafened the loud sounds of his heart, the guilt rising like bile in his throat as he prepared to leave the village for good.

The poison Orochimaru's henchmen offered to him gave him a weird tattoo on the back of his neck which would spread whenever he was angered or threatened. It greatly heightened his physical senses and his power, but also ate away his chakra in deft speed if he couldn't learn how to control it properly, the henchmen explained. And the only way to master it would be if he accepted to be Orochimaru's apprentice, a fact that had always plagued him morally speaking, as he didn't want to ally with a psychotic criminal and known enemy of the Leaf.

However, the ghosts from his clan were still thirsty for revenge and there were constant whispers wreaking havoc inside his mind, accusing his inability to honor the Uchiha and mocking his constant…distractions. He could no longer withstand this heavy responsibility that was slowly eating him inside, so he had long decided he needed to fulfill this mission with whatever means possible that would allow him to finally kill Itachi.

He took a few seconds to apologize to his mentor and current Hokage of Konoha, apologize for the deceased Sandaime and for—


A sudden shout broke his reverie and he turned around. He could sense the chakra from that person moving closer, but he was still incredulous from its identity. He was expecting a full squad of ANBU ready to attack and imprison him back to the village but instead…what kind of horrible joke was this?


"God!" A loud groan reverberated inside the gigantic dojo. "I can't lift a fucking finger. That fucking bastard, he surely went all out yesterday." Every muscle protested with each move as he gingerly limped to rest against a nearby wall.

"Rough night huh!" A young brunet with shaggy locks and two triangular tattoos on his face appeared from behind the blond and shouted boisterously. "Bet Sasuke-sensei kept you awake all night, making up for all the time he was away. Hahahahahaha!" He patted the blond's shoulder. "You know, the way that you were limping just now, you probably were on all fours for hours right! Naughty Naruto-chan~~~~"

"Oh Shut up Kiba." Naruto growled, trying to shove the brunet away. "Nothing of the sort happened. Plus, who the hell said that I met sensei yesterday?"

"Aw c'mon, anyone can see that you're moving slower than a snail." A blond girl with a ponytail suddenly joined the conversation with an impish grin. "Looks like you're pretty sore, which most probably is a result of veryintensive physical activities…"

"You should have seen him the other day, when he remembered that sensei was returning. Dismissed everyone, ran towards the entrance gate with such eagerness…like a love-sick puppy." Kiba teased, his elbow lightly nudging Naruto's side.

"Naruto, I already said before I wanted some photos of you and sensei together and you are still holding out!" Ino interrupted, her arm locking around Naruto's neck and squeezing a little.

"Ew, are you serious? That's disgusting, you perv." Kiba retorted with a gagging expression.

"Kiba Kiba Kiba…" Ino tutted, shaking her head as she raised her chin haughtily. "You're the one who doesn't understand the beauty of seeing two hawt guys getting it on."

The blond man groaned. "For the love of God, will you two st—"

"I would appreciate it if my students would stop gossiping and spreading unfounded rumors regarding my private life." A cold voice snapped them out of their musings as they looked behind them and saw Sasuke staring back with crossed arms.

"Good morning Sasuke-sensei." Ino squeaked, disentangling herself from Naruto and standing up for a quick respectful bow.

"'Morning sensei." Kiba also stood up while awkwardly scratching the back of his head.

Naruto was the last one to greet the older man, placing a hand on his knee to prop himself up, slowly turning around to face Sasuke. For a brief moment, their eyes connected and azure irises revealed a burning emotion.

However, all of a sudden, Naruto lowered his gaze and muttered. "Sasuke-sensei."

Sasuke acknowledged his students with a nod, entering the wide room. "I expected that instead of wasting time talking nonsense, as aspirants of the ANBU squad, you foolish brats would start some warm ups."

"You're not that old either, you're only 6 years older than all of us." Naruto grumbled, following behind.

"Age doesn't really matter with the maturity of one person. I can tell that in your case, you have the mentality of a 13 year old, usuratonkachi." Sasuke replied with a smirk.

"What! You bastard, take that back! I'm not a kid dammit!" Naruto shouted.

"Huuuuuh—lovers spat. Could you two do me a favor and leave this conversation for later? It's kinda embarrassing to watch." Kiba intervened, waving his hand in dismissal.

"I don't really mind, as long as they have some hot making out by the end of all this." Ino beamed wide, staring expectantly towards them.

Sasuke rolled his eyes as Naruto groaned. "C'mon, we—"

"Good morning." Another young man with white eyes and long black hair appeared behind them with a courteous bow, followed by an increasing number of students entering and murmuring respectfully. Everyone unhurriedly walked to their respective positions, their bodies standing straight, fingers laced behind their backs and feet slightly distanced one from another, awaiting orders, attaining a serious atmosphere.

Sasuke also went to his designated place, examining each focused expression across the room. His gaze involuntarily fixed a bit longer on the whiskered face, until he closed his eyes, clearing his throat and declared:

"Today we're going to train genjutsu, one of the most vital abilities that an ANBU needs in order to infiltrate an enemy building. Therefore, everyone has to be proficient even if it's not necessarily your specialty. Each one of you is going to write your name on a piece of paper, fold it and place it in the box. Later, you will pick a paper and show it to me. The name inscribed will be your target, as well as you should be aware that each one of you will be someone else's target, concentrating on your skills of evading, breaking and creating the genjutsu at the same time. The ones who fulfill these tasks I mentioned just now and guess who their attacker was in this exercise correctly will be dismissed for the day. The ones who couldn't figure theirs out or guess incorrectly will have to do one hundred push-ups, create fifty bunshins and do twenty elemental ninjutsus as incentive to succeed next time." There were multiple groans and mumbles generated in response as Sasuke calmly rebutted. "The ones who just protested now have to stand upside down on the ceiling and do fifty push-ups, and I know each one who complained, for example; Shikamaru, right?"

Several students obeyed with a sigh, climbing upwards and commencing the push-ups while others picked up some papers placed next to Sasuke to write down their names. The brunet glanced towards a certain direction with a smirk, already fully aware he would see a disgruntled expression fixed on Naruto's face.

"Genjutsu?" Blond eyebrows furrowed even further when he saw his teacher chuckling.

"Yes, I do remember that it's not your strong suit right? Don't make a fool of yourself dead-last."

Naruto snorted, crossing his arms. "Bah, just you wait bastard! I'm not the helpless brat that you were assigned to protect four years ago!" He placed his name inside the box as Sasuke quirked an amused smirk.

"We will see, usuratonkachi."

Naruto glowered, turning his back. He deflated a little, muttering to himself. "Don't call me an usuratonkachi."

Once their targets were picked, everyone went to another area inside the forest. Everyone dispersed as only Sasuke stayed on the ground with his Sharingan activated, monitoring their actions. Within seconds, any human presence vanished with only the sound of leaves swaying in the wind remaining.

This was a good group, Sasuke thought to himself, as he could still just see their chakras with his bloodline activated but other than that, they were silent and efficient as the job demanded. Some could even mask their chakra perfectly, melting with the atmosphere. Some weren't as talented as the others, but still paid attention and were not conspicuous.

Save one; one infuriating, careless dobe would make his chakra as visible as day, figures. A strong force moved rapidly with a noticeable trail of Kyuubi's chakra following behind, the mixture magnetic and deadly; a whirlpool, creating havoc in its wake and leaving nothing else behind. Perhaps that was the reason Naruto couldn't hide his chakra so well, such powerful chakra can't be so easily hidden, but on the other hand, that dumbass always struggled with wielding his chakra.

At the end of the exercise fortunately, even though the blond wasn't good with genjutsu he still managed to use it several times against his opponent and guessed correctly that the one who was targeting him was Sakura, of all people, one of the most talented genjutsu users of the group. A proud grin was evident on Naruto's face while everyone who completed the exercise successfully walked back to the dojo where Sasuke greeted them with brief congratulations.

However, the blond kept squirming and jumping all the time to see if Sasuke noticed his presence, so the Uchiha went over to him and gave a light knock on the golden hair. "Pay attention to the teacher, dead-last."

Naruto didn't seem to be phased by the small reprimand as he beamed brightly. "Hah! You saw that sensei? I did it! You doubted me and I proved you wrong!"

"I should also mention the fact that you were an easy target since you didn't conceal your chakra, dumbass, that's why it was so easy for Sakura to create genjutsu against you. This is a very basic ability that even a genin should know." Sasuke responded as some people nearby chuckled.

Naruto frowned and opened his mouth to protest until Sasuke declared:

"That's all for today, but tomorrow we're going on a five day-long mission, and I want everyone at the entrance by 4 am. Dismissed." All students were heading to the exit including the young blond when Sasuke deterred him. "Except you, usuratonkachi. We still have to continue the training from yesterday."

Kiba heard it and declared with a snort. "Hm. Ya know, most of us actually use this place for some actual training. I think I won't step on this tatami for a very long while or else I'll start imagining all the naughty things you both did on it while you were training." He emphasized his sarcasm by using quotation marks with his hands.

Ino heartily patted Naruto on the back, saying excitedly. "Next time make sure to tape it, I'm even willing to pay for the footage if you prefer!" She winked and waved her hand and was off.
Both men waited as a lingering silence settled in, staring at each other. Naruto was the first one to break the eye contact, awkwardly shifting his weight from one leg to another, glancing sideways.

"Yamanaka and Inuzuka can be really annoying when they want." Sasuke said while stretching his arms.

The blond peeked at the way the pale muscles flexed and retracted through precise movements, always fascinating to Naruto as his teacher resembled some sort of panther ready to hunt his prey. Elegant. Beautiful yet powerful. Feral.

Naruto tore his blue eyes away from the sight as he shrugged. "I guess, sometimes. They are good people so I don't really mind."

"Hn." Sasuke grunted, not bothering himself to find a sarcastic retort. "Ready?"

"Do I really have to?" Naruto groaned with a tired sigh. "My body is still sore from yesterday's sparring dammit." He emphasized by rubbing one of his shoulders with his fingers.

"That only shows how unprepared you were, usuratonkachi. Think about it, with Akatsuki trying to hunt you down, you won't have the luxury to rest. It's my duty as your bodyguard—"

"And being my teacher to make sure I will be able to defend myself against this criminal organization, I get it." Naruto finished the speech monotonously, rolling his eyes. "Whatever, let's get this over and done as soon as possible."

The brunet glared back.

"But I admit, it adds to the thrill the fact that I can keep up with a seasoned ANBU's moves. It's a good challenge sparring with a teacher in comparison to training with Neji or Lee." Naruto grinned wide.

"Don't flatter yourself, I'm going easy on you or else you would be on the floor in five seconds flat." Sasuke snorted.

"We will see about that sensei." Naruto chuckled.

Sasuke shook his head, an amiable pause falling between them for a moment until he positioned to an offensive stance. "We'll concentrate on taijutsu, defensive and counterattacking moves. Shunshin no jutsu allowed." Once he finished the last word, his body disappeared into some blurred colors and Naruto tensed, ready to block the assault.

Sasuke had efficiently eliminated his presence, leaving the blond apparently alone in the wide room, in a defensive stance with his eyes wide and alert. The bastard was testing if he progressed in detecting the enemy's position, delaying the time of his strike on purpose. Cerulean eyes blinked and attained a crimson color, his nostrils capturing easily the distinct scent of plum blossoms

"Incoming." Naruto blocked a flying kick aimed at his head with his arms, taking a few steps back as a consequence as Sasuke somersaulted and landed softly in front of him. In a split second, the brunet jumped with a fist aimed to his whiskered face that Naruto avoided with one side step.

"Stop relying so much on Kyuubi, moron." Sasuke admonished, defending from Naruto's successive kicks and jumping backwards when the blond tried to unbalance him with a roundhouse kick. Naruto chased after him and Sasuke deflected another kick aimed to the left side of his face.

"Wat, detected you didn't I? Stop complaining so much." Naruto grumbled, slapping away the pale fingers that almost reached to grab the front of his shirt, using this momentum to also try and reach Sasuke's shirt with his other hand, Sasuke repelled by pushing the tanned arm upwards with his forearm, and with his other fist positioned below it, he punched at Naruto's stomach, the blond grunting slightly from the pain.

"You should be careful using a Tailed-Beast's power, there's no way you can freely use it without suffering some serious consequences." Sasuke replied, studying the blond's movements and which battle stance he was going to take. They kept moving in circles for a few seconds, neither making a significant move as the brunet drank in the sight of the cerulean iris focused only on him.

"I can—"Naruto sprinted forward ready to deliver an uppercut to the pale jaw as Sasuke disappeared. "manage—"His instincts told him to protect the left side of his torso and that's what he did, successfully capturing Sasuke's elbow jab with his palm and his other arm snaked around the pale neck, twisting their bodies until they fell on the ground, Naruto holding Sasuke's head with his arm. "—myself! HAH! Take that you bastard! " The blond howled in victory.

Sasuke grunted from the constriction of air with Naruto hovering over him. Even though the brunet was slightly on his side, his arm was sandwiched to the ground and with Naruto still clutching his elbow, he could feel his teacher's chest expanding and contracting with each breath, a calculating onyx eye shown on the side of his face. He relished the warmth radiating from that pale skin—

Sasuke freed his elbow and hit Naruto's jaw making the latter loosen his hold just enough and disappeared into thin air. "Hey, shunshin now is chea—" Naruto didn't spare a moment to complain, also using his shunshin no jutsu to avoid a kick in his direction, but Sasuke managed to grab his hand from behind, stretching to the back until the blond couldn't move and grabbed the other forearm when Naruto tried to strike him.

"What were you saying? Dobe." The blond could even imagine the haughty smirk on his teacher's oh-so-tempting pink lips. With a growl, Naruto tried a back head butt but the Uchiha avoided it easily, tightening his hold and approaching closer to the tanned body. The younger ninja could feel the hard muscles rubbing on his back and he propelled his torso forward, throwing Sasuke to the ground. Naruto used this opportunity to straddle the brunet's torso, his ass feeling every contour of Sasuke's well-built stomach, with one of his forearms ready to press against the pale neck when Sasuke grabbed both of his arms and swiftly rotated their bodies, turning the tables.

Fuck. Naruto cursed softly as Sasuke's legs tightly flanked his waist to prevent any escape and two large hands securely held his crossed forearms to avoid any counterattack. Every inch of his upper body was covered by that lithe body; Sasuke's gasps generating goose bumps on his skin.

The Uchiha chuckled, his lips close to the tanned ear. "Give up already usuratonkachi?" The baritone voice whispered huskily and the young student shivered in response, glowering at the amused glint showing on the graphite eyes.

Naruto thrashed and tried to escape Sasuke's hold, however, the brunet moved Naruto's arms to the upside of his head, eliminating any possibility of escape.

"Dammit. Get off you bastard!" Naruto growled and attempted to wiggle out from the tight hold until Sasuke grasped his tanned wrists firmly with one hand, pale fingers fluttering across Naruto's chest. "Asshole, I said—"Any protest died in his throat when he felt a cold hand underneath his shirt.

"What's the matter…Naruto?" Those beguiling lips crooked another amused smirk as they descended to nip the column of the sun-kissed neck, the invading hand caressing the tensed abs.

Naruto made a strangled moan when Sasuke sucked hard at the base of his neck. His hand slithered inside his pants and was descending to massage the rapidly hardening organ, blunt fingernails lightly rolled the sacs as the brunet continued to pepper kisses and hickies along Naruto's collarbone. Sasuke's hands suddenly stripped Naruto of his shirt while his mouth latched on a nipple, sucking vigorously as the hands busied to unbutton the blond's pants.

"Sensei—"Naruto gasped when his teacher released his hard cock out of his boxers, his freed hands were hesitant to take any kind of action. "What—what are you doing—Aaaah!" He moaned again, arching slightly when Sasuke's hand encased around his erection and started pumping it.

"What? I'm giving you what you want, Naruto." A lustful voice breathed next to his ear, his lips kissed the tanned earlobe and lightly tugged it. "So sensitive…getting this hard already?" Naruto stared as his erection filled with desire from each lazy stroke, beads of precum accumulating on the slit.

Blue eyes glared at the mirthful tone of his teacher's voice, though the effect was ruined since there was a blush spreading on the whiskered face. Naruto shouted loudly and his hand darted out to grab a fistful of black hair when the tip of Sasuke's tongue speared the slit of his cock, taking the entire length afterwards. His dark head bobbed a few times, only to stop around the crown as Sasuke hallowed his cheeks, heightening the pleasure coursing through Naruto's veins; the blond threw his head back in response.

Sasuke continued to dip his mouth around the sensitive head, lightly sucking and alternating with languid licks, silently watching as Naruto breathed rapidly. The blond almost groaned when he saw the lustful gaze darkening the onyx eyes, Sasuke lightly drug his teeth all over the length until he licked his balls, applying a light suction. His tongue drew a line upwards until moist lips stopped at the head of his cock, sliding downwards till the nose tickled the blond pubic hairs.

Naruto could hardly think, talk, hell, he could hardly breathe just from the pleasurable shocks pulsating through his body, his libido successfully muffling any attempt at rationalization over this whole situation. His pelvis thrust rhythmically every time Sasuke's swollen lips took more of his cock, until the brunet deterred him by putting a hand on it, fingertips played with his sacs, descending as the middle digit entered inside Naruto.

The blond gasped from the foreign sensation, Sasuke's finger plunged and explored his anal passage while his mouth was busy sucking his cock. Naruto unconsciously tightened around the invading finger and he heard a chuckle. "So you like my finger inside you? I bet you're craving to have your ass filled, right?"

"Fuck…you…" Naruto hissed in response, but swallowed any remaining curse when Sasuke stroked his prostate, another finger joining inside and stretching his entrance.

"God, you're so tight…" Sasuke growled in an almost animalistic manner, licking his parched lips. "I can feel your ass sucking me in…you're such a needy slut." Naruto's cock twitched as Sasuke's tongue encircled around the sensitive head and his mouth wrapped around it with a suckle; the fingers already plunging in with an established pace.

"Aaaaaaaah—fuuuck—" Naruto bit his lower lip to prevent any moan escaping from his lips, even if his hips were undulating together with each thrust.

"You are, aren't you? You love having something shoved in your ass, don't you? Just admit it." Sasuke returned to bite the tanned neck, his sinful voice whispered promises of endless pleasure. "I want to hear how slutty you are right now." He emphasized by further stimulating the prostate, as another hand enveloped the erection, slowly increasing the speed of each pump.

Naruto moaned loudly, his voice echoing inside the empty dojo, his breaths uneven and short. The blond grabbed the nape of his teacher's neck, bracing himself and trying to take more of the pale fingers that were already buried inside him.

"Look at the way your ass is sucking my fingers, trying to swallow it whole. Your legs are open so wide, like a shameless whore, wanting nothing but a good fuck. Tell me, does your fuck hole love the way I'm impaling you now? Does it?" Sasuke licked the shell of a tanned ear, rapidly thrusting his fingers inside Naruto's ass.

"Fuck yeah—!" Naruto shouted, feeling his orgasm approaching so close. "Fuck me now—!"

"I love your needy screams, I love watching your erotic face." Sasuke's fingertips held the top of Naruto's glans and rubbed up and down, while the fingers buried inside his anus continued to slide inside and out. "Come for me. Naruto." Sasuke growled, his eyes flashing dangerously at his prey.

Hearing the sinful tone provoked Naruto to orgasm with a guttural shout, thick spurts of semen bursting forth.

"Say my name now—"Came a whisper close to his ear, as the blond succumbed to the highest throes of passion—

"SASUKEEEE!" The tanned hand resumed to jerk his cock rapidly, extra jets of cum shooting to coat the bathroom tiles. Naruto continued to pump his sensitive cock; waves of his orgasm tingling his whole body as his chest heaved and wheezed, trying to recover his breath.

Scalding water reddened his tanned skin in an attempt to hide his shame and erase the addicting feelings; he removed his fingers from his anus at last. However, even though he turned the shower on full blast, cleansing most of the evidence down the drain, some droplets of semen remained, marking a strong contrast with the dark blue of the bathroom tiles.

Naruto stared at his trembling fingers that just a few moments prior had been inside his ass pleasuring him, until he closed them into a fist and punched the wall in frustration, leaving a small dent on it. He snarled and yelled nonsensically, both hands kept banging repeatedly on the cold surface till he shouted:

"Pathetic!" Naruto clenched his teeth, gasping afterwards. He placed his forehead on the tile, cooling his skin a little bit. "Fuck, so pathetic…dammit…dammit…"


The noises from the waterfalls fortunately muffled most of his speech, though he was still able to figure out the content by reading his lips. Of all the people the Hokage could order to retrieve him, that teenager was the least one he expected. What would he understand about family bonds? About being betrayed and losing everything in one single night, being haunted by ghosts? He was too young, he would never understand the obligation of being an avenger. He attempted to tune him out, turning his back but it was already too late, the hurt showing in those expressive blue eyes had already seared in his mind.

Undaunted, the young blond jumped through Hashirama's statue and landed next to his group, shouting:

"You stupid prick! Why the fuck are you doing this stupid shit? Stop being so retarded and come back to Konoha!"

One of the sound nins scoffed and snorted impatiently, replying with derisive words. The blond ignored him, pleading to the retreating back.

"Sasuke! Don't go there, don't go to a place where I can't reach you—" He shouted again, this time the rumbling noises of the waterfalls couldn't block his words.

His neck disobeyed him and turned around to see desperation stamped all over the whiskered face, coupled with a tinge of sadness and betrayal. Betrayal. The realization of his actions caused his stomach to drop a few notches when he saw the boy…who had always endured with dignity every injustice fallen upon him, crying so easily for him.

Something inexplicable stirred inside his soul when their gazes connected and, all of a sudden, he could read every emotion hidden beneath the farthest depths of sky-colored eyes, uncovering some of his unnamed feelings that commenced to crack his mask. A warm pulse drummed increasingly faster, as if his heart was trying to burst out of its cage.

"Let's just kill the annoying brat." The woman readily picked her flute and began an intricate genjutsu while the others scattered around starting some hand seals.

He didn't notice their movement since his attention was completely trained towards the boy that tensed in response, like a threatened wild animal. Transforming, the blond spikes were more prominent, teeth elongating as a transparent red bubble enveloped around him like armor. Two, no—three tails starting to grow behind him.

The Sound nins were briefly surprised by this odd turn of events; however, it didn't take too long as they were also mutating, their cursed seals spreading over their bodies, giving a sickening color to their skin, sprouting extra limbs and horns on their heads. Everyone prepared themselves for what would become a very bloody battle.

He, however, couldn't move one inch, his usual analytic mind failing to help him under duress. Torn between joining the carnage or obeying the whispers of his heart, he clutched his chest to prevent any irrational action.

The tanned skin peeled off as the transformation progressed, the young boy growled:

"Don't you dare stand in my way—I will take Sasuke back to Konoha even if I have to kill each one of you!"

And with a howl, a beast emerged from the human body.

Before he even realized, he also had activated his crimson-colored iris.


Long, distant memories. Sasuke blinked back to consciousness, waking up after an afternoon nap. He was definitely slacking lately…but then again, he shouldn't have sparred for over three uninterrupted hours with the dobe. And it was also not his fault that Kakashi had a sadistic streak of choosing the most complicated and long missions for him—sometimes Sasuke had the vague suspicion that this was his punishment for trying to defect from Konoha three years ago.

The Uchiha yawned discreetly, idly listening to the birds chirping outside and stood up from his bed. He picked a nearby coat since the day was turning chillier, lacing the ends of the Japanese styled cloth. The written report lay nearby, so Sasuke picked it up and exited his house, jumping from roof to roof with efficiency until he reached the Hokage tower.

"You're late." The grey-haired Hokage commented amusedly, unruffled by the glare directed at him. "What took you so long to deliver the mission report?"

"None of your business. Also, you shouldn't be the one to complain about it since you always used to arrive late back when I was your student, Kakashi." Sasuke answered, throwing the documents carelessly on the desk.

"Ah yes. Good old times. When I didn't have so many responsibilities save from babysitting your bratty self. But now I'm stuck with this extremely boring paperwork." Kakashi sighed in a good-naturedly way, grabbing the report and skimming over it, stamping his seal on the last page. "Still, it's my right to question the reason why you're delivering this report one day after your arrival. If it weren't for the fact that you're my former student I wouldn't be so lenient with this lack of discipline."

Sasuke huffed, feeling a little bit off put from Kakashi's subtle chastising, but still stubbornly chose to remain silent in response. Some months prior, he suggested Naruto spar with him whenever he would return from a mission to hone the younger man's abilities, in which the latter agreed and they never broke the tradition since.

The Hokage hummed for a while and hazarded a guess. "Well, since you're not giving your sensei the luxury of explanation, then…I bet that you were probably spending some quality time with your boyfriend yesterday, right?" Kakashi's visible eye closed to show an amused expression on his face.

"I don't have a boyfriend." Sasuke growled.

"I'm sorry…" The older man teased. "Perhaps the correct term would be 'whiskered blond lover' then?"

Sasuke glared daggers at the older man. "Naruto is not my lover."

"Friends with benefits?"

"Kakashi, that brat is barely 18. Why the hell would I ever be interested in him?" Sasuke said spitefully.

Oh, I can think of several reasons…; was what Kakashi wanted to answer but he settled to smile whimsically at the uneasy Uchiha. "But I had the impression that you two were an item. After all, your students kept joking about you two having kinky s—"

"And you believed them?" Sasuke rolled his eyes. "That was just a tasteless joke that Inuzuka started when they found out we're the only homosexuals of the group and this rumor has somehow spiraled out of control. It's nothing like that." The brunet murmured. "I would never touch him inappropriately."

Kakashi paused to study Sasuke's features, until he felt it'd be wise to talk about this subject later. Opening his drawer, he picked up some papers and offered them to the Uchiha. "Here, details about tomorrow's mission are written on it."

Sasuke picked them up with a grunt, already turning around to open the door.
"Not yet." Kakashi interrupted; his tone suddenly somber. Sasuke turned back to stare at him. "There's an extra task that I'm entrusting you to fulfill…"


"For today's mission we're going to a fort in Frost country, located near one of the borders of Lightning country. There's a sacred treasure that our daimyo desires to attain and that place is probably not that heavily guarded but I still advise you all to be swift and inconspicuous. It will take roughly two days to arrive there, so we'll organize the patrol and camp later." Sasuke declared, already exiting the gates as his students followed behind.

"Are we going to have marshmallows? I hope we're going to have marshmallows." Ino idly commented.

"Or ramen. Ramen is better." Naruto grinned wide, generating a couple of incredulous snorts around him.

"Be reminded that this is not a leisure trip or anything of this sort, this is a mission." Sasuke said dryly, slightly ruining the mood. "But I was already expecting such childish behavior coming from you, eh, usuratonkachi?" He turned around to face the blond with a teasing smirk.

"Bastard." Naruto grumbled, harrumphing loudly. He saw Sakura approaching him and cowered a little from the mischievous glint showing in her emerald eyes.

"We all know that you're just doing this to get Sasuke-sensei's attention, Naruto-chan." Sakura whispered close enough to let Naruto hear it, then sprinted forward humming to herself.

The blond blushed with a scowl, pouring more chakra into his legs as he reached Sasuke's side, gazing at his teacher and wrinkling his nose.

A black eyebrow was raised. "What?"

"Nothing." Naruto answered grouchily, a few steps ahead.

Sasuke narrowed his eyes suspiciously, opening his mouth ready to question the blond's clipped behavior when he noticed something. "Don't go too far from the group, dumbass."

"Why? I already checked the map; I know where the check point is where we're going to rest." Naruto responded defiantly.

"Stop moving as if you're only one unit of this squad, you shouldn't stray too far from the rest, dead last." Sasuke growled back. "You're going to get lost."

"Bullshit, I know this place like the back of my hand. I can manage myself; stop treating me like I'm a child." Naruto mumbled.

"I will stop doing that if you stop acting like one. We're in enemy lands, so you should be careful with your surroundings."

"I am careful!" Naruto shouted, losing his cool. "Stop underestimating me dammit, I—"

"I hate to interrupt your lovely conversation, Sasuke-sensei…" Kiba appeared in between, slightly out of breath. "But the rest of the team needs some rest, you guys are moving too fast."

Sasuke and Naruto stopped in their tracks and turned around, looking at the rest of the team. Like Kiba mentioned, everyone was way behind them, some even paused to rest, breathing with difficulty. Sasuke stared impassively for a moment until he said:

"Fine, five minute break but afterwards we'll keep walking till we reach the check point. I will look around, patrol the area. Dobe, youwill stay with your teammates." The Uchiha said in a tone of finality, throwing a glare as emphasis.

Naruto complained. "What? But that's not f—" Before he could finish his sentence, Sasuke had disappeared in a whirl of leaves, leaving the group alone.

The blond continued to grumble to himself, unscrewing his water bottle and drinking in quick gulps. He noticed Kiba was still staring at him intently and he furrowed his golden eyebrows. "What?"

"Hm…" Kiba suddenly widened a playful leer. "I didn't expect that you guys would really stop to rest. We were absolutely sure you were trying to ditch us to have some kinky sex in the forest."

Naruto's face went engine red. "Kiba!" He growled, throwing the canteen in the brunet's direction but the latter deflected with a loud guffaw, walking away to talk with the other teammates. Naruto picked up the bottle from the ground in frustration, mumbling. "God, those jokes are unbelievable."

"Really?" Sakura's voice almost made him jump a few feet higher, but Naruto managed to recompose himself enough to direct his glower to her. "Even though they are joking around, I bet you really like it deep inside. After all, they are putting you together with your beloved crush, Uchiha Sasuke-seeeennnseiiii~~" Sakura singsonged.

Naruto rolled his eyes with an annoyed huff. "Great. First Kiba and now you. Seriously, can't any one of you give it a rest?"

"But it's so fun teasing you!" Sakura stretched the tanned cheeks and Naruto almost howled from the pain. Damn, she can't control her ogre strength sometimes. "And I think it's so cute the way you act around Sasuke-sensei. I mean, most of the time you guys are just bickering, but it's really adorable whenever you just keep staring with that mooning expression at him from afar."

"I so regret talking about my feelings to you Sakura-chan." Naruto groaned, a steady blush adorning his cheeks.

"Why? I really think it's kinda cute. I mean, I know that there're a lot of women who basically swoon just at the sight of him, but once they get to know his bitchiness, no normal human can withstand him for too long. You're the only one in our squad who can still tolerate and like his nasty personality." The pink-haired kunoichi explained, sitting next to him.

Naruto blurted out a self-deprecating chuckle. "That's definitely not something worthy to brag about." He said, his usual bright face attaining a bitter gloom. "I must be the most insane or masochistic guy in the universe, because there's no way I could be attracted to someone that also gives me urges to choke his neck because he's such a bastard. " The blond sighed, ducking his head in between his arms.

Sakura gently placed a hand on his shoulder, looking concerned over the attitude Naruto was displaying. "What's the problem Naruto, talk to me…" She slightly tilted her head forward and murmured close to his face while she rubbed his back until a cold voice interrupted them:

"Break time is over." Sasuke was staring nonchalantly at them but there was something strained in the edge of his voice, as he quickly diverted his graphite eyes from them and called the rest of the team.

Naruto obeyed, standing up and dislodging himself from Sakura with a sigh, but the kunoichi peered suspiciously at the quick exchange, wiping the dirt from her pants. Upon realization, she grabbed the tanned shoulder and dragged him farther from their teacher, whispering close to his ear:

"Hey, maybe there's some hope with your cause, because I definitely saw some jealousy coming from sensei just now." She released him and jumped forward with a mischievous giggle.

Naruto really tried to smother the burbling feelings emerging but Sakura's words kept ringing inside his head the entire trip. She would occasionally wink and make hand gestures, encouraging the blond to talk with Sasuke and Naruto attempted to ignore her the best that he could, but the embarrassed look on his face only managed to spur her on even further.

Sasuke didn't appear to find this situation odd or even uncomfortable, as he continued to bark orders like always and there wasn't any significant change in how he was treating Naruto afterwards, leaving the blond to assume that Sakura probably thought too much about the previous situation.

Once they reached the fort, everyone gathered around the map while Sasuke began devising strategies on how to invade it without any hitch. The group was currently composed of him, Sakura, Ino, Shikamaru, Kiba, Lee and Neji and Sasuke as the leader.

Kiba would use his smell senses to guide them through, Neji would use his eyes to make sure there weren't any enemies nearby. Sakura and Ino would put most of the enemy guards to sleep with genjutsu, Lee and Naruto would surround close to the group in case there was a sudden attack. Shikamaru would help read the map and use his kagemane no jutsu to retrieve the treasure. Sasuke, as the instructor, would only supervise. Even though it was a real mission, he would still grade their performances.

They put on their porcelain masks that didn't have any markings on it since they were still trainees, though they were wearing the rest of the ANBU gear, everyone readying a low level of genjutsu to blend with the background. The fort wasn't heavily guarded as expected, and most of the guards were sleeping at night, save for some patrolling at some strategic places.
While they were on their way, Kiba sniffed the air and murmured:

"Where's Sasuke-sensei?" He couldn't smell his scent.

Shikamaru who was moving upside down on the ceiling shrugged:

"He's somewhere. Probably watching from afar since he doesn't want to compromise our mission."

Neji nodded in agreement until he hissed. "Two people at five o'clock, three meters ahead of us."

Sakura swiftly made some hand signs, the guards dozing off until they fell silently to the ground.

Ino smirked. "Not bad big-forehead."

"Whatever Ino-pig." Sakura whispered back, climbing up the stairs.

Lee murmured to his usual excited self. "That's my beautiful Sakura-san, I always knew you could do it! Let's finish this mission in record speed and impress Sasuke-sensei in the end!"

There were multiple mumbles of agreement as the group scattered, each pair guarding the entrance.

Once Neji and Kiba confirmed that there wasn't anyone inside the treasure room, Shikamaru quietly entered inside, readying his kagemane no jutsu. The room was normal sized but it was packed with golden statues, valuable objects and jewelry. Behind the sacred treasure they wanted to retrieve, there was a gigantic metallic statue wearing Japanese styled armor, both hands clutching a gigantic sword.

Ribbons of shadows slithered closer to the prize, which was placed above a small totem, inside a cubicle made of glass. Shikamaru's jutsu carefully lifted the lid until he felt an odd rumble; the statue's eyes suddenly flashed crimson lights, activating an arm that swung with incredible strength towards Shikamaru.

The loud noises coming from the room obviously attracted his teammate's attention, as they all entered at the same time as Shikamaru was stuck by a fallen pillar.

Lee and Ino were the closest ones to rescue him. "Shikamaru, are you ok?" Ino asked, activating a green chakra.

Shikamaru winced but nodded nonetheless. "I think I may have broken a leg. Here." He handed the treasure to Lee, as both teammates carried him, his arms around their shoulders, ready to exit the place.

However, this commotion was enough to attract unwanted attention; sounds of footsteps were hastily approaching them. Sakura was the first one to respond, activating a genjutsu:

"Magen – Narakumi no jutsu!" Any nearby victims who fell under this jutsu would temporarily suffer a horrid illusion, immobilizing them a little. Some of the enemies who were already aware they were fighting against ninjas dispelled this jutsu, but Naruto and Neji used this opportunity to use their ninjutsus.

"Fuuton – Shinkuugyoku!" The blond inhaled deeply and then expelled several sharp whirlwinds, cutting through anything that passed their way.

"Ninpou, Kirigakure no jutsu." A thick mist surrounded the room, hampering the enemies' visibility. Neji said. "We should go now. We already attained the treasure, Shikamaru is injured so—"

A metallic noise caught their attention, noticing the machine that swung the gigantic sword in their direction, Naruto and Neji dodged by jumping backwards, leaving a gaping hole in the ground. Kiba sprinted forward, using his clan's specialty:

"Tsuuga!" His body whirled in deft speed, striking the machine's main body, causing it to tilt a few steps back, but not enough to fall.

"Doton no jutsu!" An enemy created a small earthquake inside the room, clearing up the mist and making Naruto's group stumble a little. Other guards arrived with katanas and kusarigamas.

"We better divide up and decide which of us should fight against this robot and which should go against our enemies!" Naruto said, beginning to create a Rasengan with his hands.

Shikamaru responded. "Naruto and Kiba, you are better against single units so you fight the machine, Lee and Neji will use their taijutsu against the normal guards, Sakura will use ninjutsu against the shinobis. Ino and I will stay using long-ranged weapons." Shikamaru and Ino ducked just in time when rocks were thrown in their direction, but Shikamaru winced afterwards.

"We seriously need someone who uses the Lightning element against this fucker." Kiba growled, throwing several kunais at nearby enemies.

"And this machine most probably will stop functioning if someone burns down his system with Lightning jutsu too." Neji pointed out, preparing one of Hyuuga's battle stances.

The only ones who had this ability was Shikamaru, who was wounded, and their teacher Sasuke, who had disappeared at the onset of the battle.

Naruto voiced out what everyone was mulling at that moment. "Now where the fuck is that fucking bastard sensei?"

A few floors below them, the aforementioned shinobi was inside the archive room, holding a candle that faintly illuminated the small cubicle. If Sasuke could, he'd prefer to carry all the documents with him, he didn't want to waste his time looking for the ones he was specifically searching for. But he wasn't that good at storing materials in large quantity unlike his other student Tenten and admittedly he also wanted to read them briefly in order to test its efficiency afterwards, so he picked up several he thought were necessary and let them be absorbed inside the summoning scroll.

The brunet suddenly heard a loud rumble and nonsensical shouts shortly afterwards, his blood turning cold. He shoved the scroll in his pouch and practically flew towards the treasure room, while he tried to reassure himself that they were a strong team and could fend for themselves but his heart jumped in trepidation, concerned especially towards a certain blond nin.

The group of Konoha ninjas was managing somehow, trying to find a way to escape but it was proving to be a little bit difficult. The enemy, though small in numbers, had some strong ninjas among them, and they had already figured out that Naruto's group lacked someone with Lightning abilities, so most of them used long-ranged Earth jutsus, positioned behind the front line. Lee and Neji were specialized in taijutsu and therefore unable to reach them, so only Sakura and Ino were trying to kill them with ninjutsus and long-ranged weapons, as Shikamaru used his Shadow techniques as support to the taijutsus users, since he hadn't honed his lightning abilities enough to cause significant destruction.

Kiba and Naruto were inflicting damage on the machine, but so far they only left dents on the armor and slowed down its velocity. Naruto growled in frustration; there was no end to this. If this continued much longer, they might collapse with lack of chakra or fatigue.

The best alternative would be to completely destroy the machine by using Rasenshuriken, but the destructive power of the jutsu was so high that it might affect everyone in the immediate area including his teammates. Naruto figured that he should try controlling the power to a minimum, just enough to lacerate the robot so he made clones of himself to protect him and one more to help fuse his elemental chakra with his rasengan.

With one look towards Sakura and Kiba; they acknowledged him with a nod, positioned to defend him. The blond began creating his jutsu, currents of winds being expelled from the eye of blue whirlpool, shaking the walls all around them.

Every adversary at that moment was aware that Naruto was creating a powerful jutsu, so they focused their efforts in reaching him. Sakura, Kiba and Ino all surrounded the blond, making sure Naruto would succeed in completing the Rasenshuriken.

However, with their efforts all concentrated in helping Naruto, the machine could almost move freely, with only Shikamaru trying to hold it up with his Kagemane no jutsu. Too weakened, the shadows weren't strong enough to imprison the machine; as it raised its sword and swung ready to cut Sakura's throat, while she was busy blocking sharp earth spikes aimed at them.
"Sakura!" Ino and Shikamaru shouted alarmed together, but fortunately Lee also noticed the impending doom, as he activated:

"Seimon(Life gate)!" His chakra suddenly increased and reddened his skin; his strength and speed were also heightened considerably. He practically teleported next to Sakura and delivered a kick towards the sword, effectively breaking it in two.

However, this left an opening for a brief moment, in which the machine used this opportunity to grab Lee with the other hand, effectively knocking him out and throwing him outside the fort.

"Lee-san!" Sakura screamed, seeing Lee descend and disappear in midst of the forest, hoping that the trees would cushion his fall. The sacred treasure was in his possession unfortunately, so they had ultimately failed in their mission.

The machine also tried to smack the kunoichi though she reacted quicker, snarling:

"Mizu no muchi!" A long watery whip generated from Sakura's hand and enveloped around the machine's hand, immobilizing it.

"Tsuuga!" Kiba propelled his body towards the metallic arm once again, finally shattering it into pieces.

Before Sakura could land though, someone threw an earth spear in her direction. She activated a water barrier in reaction but it was still ineffective, piercing her arm. Sakura whimpered in pain, clutching her wound for a moment and did another series of hand seals:

"Suiton – Ja no kuchi!" A large snake made of water appeared from the ground and struck most enemies nearby, giving a few more seconds for Naruto to complete his jutsu. The blond was unable to maintain his concentration, seeing his comrades being injured and some guards almost reaching him. Desperation crawling on his skin, only one thought was on his mind.

Dammit, where's Sasuke?

"Katon – Karyuu Endan!" Out of nowhere, a long gust of fire was directed to the enemies and burned every ball made of earth aimed at the blond. Neji and Kiba moved backwards to avoid the projectile, as they saw Sasuke expelling the jutsu from his mouth.

Naruto quickly understood the situation and dispelled his jutsu, making other hand seals:

"Fuuton – Kamikaze!" A cyclone swiped across the enemies, feeding the fire and turning into a roaring inferno. Naruto tried not to wince from the howls of pain he heard before his enemies died.

One of Sasuke's hands activated a Lightning jutsu, as the excess of heat generated from his fire jutsu created several ominous clouds. He directed the natural thunder towards the machine:

"Kirin!" In a split second, the machine was totally decimated, black fumes expelling from it.

"Ino, Sakura." Sasuke said as he started several hand signs. Comprehending the subtle order, both kunoichis repeated the same movements and the Konoha ninjas successfully disappeared from the fort.


After they were considerably far from the fort, they paused to recover a little bit. Sasuke assessed the situation; Shikamaru and Sakura were injured, Ino was fatigued from using too much chakra, and Neji and Kiba were physically tired. Only Naruto, who had a lot of stamina, and him, who had briefly entered the combat, were left unscathed after the battle.

"Where's Lee?" Sasuke frowned, noticing one student less.

"The enemy managed to throw him outside the fort, he fell but there were several trees that may have eased his landing." Sakura answered; a few tears accumulating at the corner of her eyes.

"We're going to rescue him right?" Naruto said promptly, snapping his knuckles and ready to go.

"Or better, Lee-san fell on Lightning country's territory, the Cloud village is allied with Konoha right? We could ask them—"Sakura responded, perking up.

Sasuke shook his head, the situation just took a turn for the worse . "We can't ask them and we can't rescue Lee for now. We're going back to Konoha, and I'll ask for reinforcements meanwhile."

"What?" Naruto automatically protested. "The fuck, why!"

The older nin simply ignored the question and ordered the rest of the team. "Ino, make a temporary crutch for Shikamaru, and Sakura, concentrate on healing your arm. Neji, you'll stand guard tonight, Kiba will build the tent while Naruto and I look for some provisions. Now." Sasuke's expression darkened, terminating any sort of incoming complaint coming from his students. "This is the best option we have at the moment, we have no other choice." He added, mollifying some of their aggravated mood.

Grouchily, each nin went to their designated task, as Sasuke also turned around, opening his map to find the nearest river. He hadn't walked too far away from the group when he easily ducked from a furious flying kick directed at him.

Naruto snarled, miffed towards his teacher's nonchalance. "Why are we not allowed to go rescue Lee right now? I'm not going to abandon my friend like that! Why can't we ask the Cloud ninjas to help us out?"

Sasuke sighed, already expecting this kind of reaction. "This is still a top secret mission, if we identify ourselves they will investigate the reason why we invaded the fort, which may generate some diplomatic tension between the villages."

"Well, then we'll just secretly invade their headquarters and get Lee as fast as possible!"

"Can't you see the state of our squad?" Sasuke replied coldly. "Shikamaru and Sakura have one of their limbs injured, others are simply tired. Lee is a good ninja, he won't spill about this mission so easily in case the Cloud ninjas try to torture him under interrogation. So it's better if we ask for reinforcements instead of risking the whole team being caught."

"I'm obviously not going to allow Lee to be tortured just like that!" Naruto furrowed his eyebrows in determination. "I can go! I'm still in good shape compared to them and it's easier to enter undetected when it's only one person! We can still rescue him right?"

Naruto observed as Sasuke tightened his jaw and squeezed his crossed arms, a flicker of emotion betraying his stoic face. Those onyx eyes showed an abundance of undisclosed feelings, almost giving him a vulnerable facet, though the Uchiha gradually retained his usual expressionless self, murmuring. "You should be aware of your position, what resides in you…if there's any choice, I'd rather let Lee stay in prison than risk you getting caught."

This statement was almost like acid being shoved down his throat; Naruto felt his whole body going numb before igniting a burning rage. He immediately threw a punch towards the pale cheek which Sasuke caught effortlessly. The blond growled. "You're seriously the worst prick I have ever met in my whole life. That's all that you care about right now, protect the jinchuuriki even if you're going to abandon a comrade and leave him behind—"

"We are going to rescue him, just not now, you dumbass." Sasuke promptly answered.

"Doesn't matter, what if they decide to kill him earlier and everything will be too late? It's just…" Naruto lowered his eyes. "You just don't trust me." His murmur was barely perceptible and Sasuke nearly caught it, though he definitely perceived the hurt tone in his voice.

Concerned, Sasuke slacked his grip around Naruto's fist, moving to gently envelop the tanned wrist. "Naruto…"

The blond retracted his hand before Sasuke could reach it, focusing his frustrations on the situation. "So it all narrows down to the fact that you don't want the Cloud village to know about our mission right? What exactly is the real reason we were in that fort? You weren't even a little bit worried when you realized that we didn't have the sacred treasure in our hands. I bet you had to retrieve some information about the Lightning country to later use against it, that's why you disappeared while we were fighting. That rotten council probably ordered you to do it, just to keep them amused with their games of power. This is so fucking stupid."

Sasuke couldn't tell him anything. He didn't want to say that it was a personal mission that he and Kakashi had decided on, that this fort had some specific documents regarding Cloud's jinchuuriki that had succeeded in taming his tailed beast, but the Cloud's village would never reveal their strongest weapon's secret to anyone, so they were left with only this option. He didn't want to give Naruto hope until he was assured this was reliable information. His seal was weakening almost every day, and he couldn't confess that this idea worried him so much and if the council found out about it, they might cage Naruto like an animal and there was no way Sasuke would allow himself to lose Naruto over this. So Sasuke didn't respond to Naruto's accusation, confirming the younger nin's suspicions.

"Fine." Naruto suddenly blurted out, turning his back.

Sasuke furrowed his eyebrows, for once not comprehending the change of mood. "What?"

"I said, fine, for once I'll just let those old cronies do whatever they want. They are doing this to protect Konoha, I guess…deep inside. As long as the reinforcements arrive as soon as possible."

Sasuke stared suspiciously, no way that stubborn dobe would concede so easily. "Really? Then, where are you going?"

"To pick up some wood, we need to camp right?" Naruto replied impatiently. "Bye." He waved quickly and sauntered away.

Not fully convinced; Sasuke activated his Sharingan and watched his blond student from afar, noticing that he created clones that helped him to retrieve the dry logs efficiently, jumping around the area. Once they finished the task, they all gathered in one spot and the blond dispelled his bunshins, walking back to the meeting point.

Figuring that the dumbass was stating the truth then, Sasuke deactivated his crimson eyes, turned around to continue his search and refilled most of the water bottles, also returning to the camp. He heard Kiba talking to Naruto:

"You guys were taking a while. So what, too busy playing with sensei's wood?"

"Yep." Naruto replied tonelessly.

Kiba groused in disgust while Sakura squealed happily. "Ew, you weren't supposed to confirm it dammit! D'argh…the images in my head."

"I'm joking Kiba. Serves you right." Naruto, chuckled, throwing the logs to the ground, already organizing it to build the fire.

Kiba made an indignant noise, whacking the blond head in response and receiving another whack from Naruto. Sakura laughed on the other hand, saying:

"Revenge is sweet I guess…you're such a comedian Naruto." She raised her hand to pat the blond soundly on the back—

Naruto disappeared in a poof.

A pregnant silence stretched between the group until every student simultaneously peeked at their teacher with hesitancy.

Sasuke growled.



Crap. Naruto hastened his steps when he received the latest information from his dispelled kage bunshin. He didn't expect that his clone would be dispelled so quickly so there was a possibility that Sasuke might catch up with him by using shushin no jutsu. No matter, he was had almost reached the border and luckily it wasn't heavily patrolled, giving him the opportunity to climb the walls and jump to the other side.

Naruto made another bunshin to carefully read the map while he kept running towards the fort, which Lightning Country probably had their own headquarters stationed on a nearby border. Once the clone gave the coordinates for it, he jumped through the trees, careful not to attract any attention once he was close, and activated his Kyuubi senses to observe their interaction from afar.

He didn't have enough time to gauge when the place would be less guarded and vigilant, he had to cook up some quick and efficient plan before his bastard teacher arrived and dragged him back to the camp. Bah, whatever, Naruto considered that since he already went so far, it was too late to try and stop him.

Naruto created four clones and made them transform into sexy female versions of himself, as they hurried to the entrance, sighing and moaning tiredly about their supposed long journey. They attracted the guards' attention, as they picked them up and walked inside the fortress with Naruto quietly trailing from behind. They might have noticed a blurring shadow climbing and walking on the ceiling if they weren't busy attending the bunshins, or better, if their eyes weren't busy staring at the bouncing breasts, the cloth barely covering their bodies. The blond nin snorted as he walked past them, men are so easily deceived.

He made two other bunshins as they explored the place. Noticing an underground passage at last he approached closer and heard Lee's pained grunts. Gritting his teeth, Naruto hastened his steps until all noises suddenly stopped and a door was pried open. He quickly casted a genjutsu to conceal himself, noticing from the headband that the enemy was a Cloud nin, narrowed eyes scanned through the corridor meticulously.

He seriously had no time to waste.

The Cloud nin joined his hands, ready to dispel any illusion when Naruto appeared out of nowhere with a punch to his gut and knocked him out. The other guards inside the prison were ready to shout an alert when the other two bunshins arrived and attacked with a rasengan.

"Naruto-kun!" Lee shouted relieved, Naruto freed him from the chains and his clones picked up his friend. "Thank you, is everyone alright?"

Naruto nodded, already searching for any possible exit. "Yeah, we all managed to escape in the end, but a few had minor injuries, so I was the only one left to rescue you. Hold tight, we're getting out of here as soon as possible." They barely managed to climb upstairs when one of the guards stirred and managed a shout:

"Invasion! Quick! In the underground! Invasion!"

Naruto and his clones sped up, the blond creating a few more that immediately scattered around the place. They helped him to buy some time, but the enemies were slowly surrounding them, obstructing their path. One of them managed to dispel one of the clones that was holding the injured Lee and moved to destroy the other one with a kunai when Naruto turned around and threw a shuriken at the enemy's jugular. With his back unprotected, one guard was ready to cut him in half—

When, all of a sudden, the guard's body descended with a gargled groan, showing Sasuke wielding a bloodied kunai from behind, his Sharingan glaring directly at the astonished blue eyes.

"Sasuke-sensei!" Lee exclaimed in recognition, so glad that their teacher had come to their aid.

Naruto gulped dryly. "Sensei." Oh fuck, he was soooooooo dead when this was over.

Sasuke turned around, making a few hand signs. "They obstructed the main exit; we better escape through the window." The older nin growled, then blew a ball of fire towards the enemy.

"Oh yes! We still have to retrieve the treasure too!" Lee suddenly remembered.

Sasuke only responded with an irritated grunt.

Naruto scratched his head, replying. "Uh…maybe Sasuke-sensei can carry you since he's faster while I go—"

"No.I will go while you two escape." Sasuke answered back.

"But I can make clones, it's better to search for—"Naruto swiftly closed his mouth and cowered when the Sharingan's black tomoes were spinning dangerously in his direction.

"You will obey me now, and especially considering your little stunt from before, you're lucky that I didn't decide to choke you on the spot for disrespecting my orders!" Sasuke said with his lips forming a snarl, barely keeping his anger in check.

"Crap. He's really pissed off now." Naruto nodded meekly and observed his teacher moving swiftly past the enemies with grace, as he placed Lee's arm around his shoulder and moved forward, while Lee blinked confused, not comprehending the current situation.

Fortunately they found an open window not very far from their location, successfully exiting the fortress while Naruto continued to make clones to confuse the enemies till he reached the border, noticing that the guards were still sleeping there, probably forced under Sasuke's genjutsu.

Kiba noticed them while they were on the trail back to their camp, and even though Kiba was exhausted physically he still helped him carry Lee and directed them to the new spot. The rest of the team was expecting them and sighed in relief once they arrived. Sakura began healing Lee once they settled down.

Neji was monitoring the perimeter with his Byakugan activated, until he spotted their teacher. "Sasuke-sensei is close; I don't detect anyone following him." As soon as he finished saying this, a blur of indistinct colors approached them in deft speed and shook all the leaves around him, as the Uchiha landed in front of the team. He instantly raised his head, his Sharingan no longer activated but they were glaring razor sharp glades towards the blond.

All of a sudden, Sasuke's punch echoed loudly in the forest, noises of wings fluttering away were the only sounds generated in the midst of shocked silence, as Naruto cupped his swollen cheek in reflex. After a few seconds, Sakura and Lee were the first ones to move:

"Naruto! Sensei, you didn't have to—"Sakura encircled her arms around Naruto, her fingers lightly pressing against the reddened skin, activating a green chakra.

"Sensei, Naruto-kun shouldn't be blamed for what he did; after all, I was the one who fell under the enemies' hands…" Lee explained, also standing up but winced a little as Kiba placed a hand on his back to help support him.

"Back to your posts now. This moron still needs to be punished accordingly after disregarding the rules." Sasuke replied coldly, however all his students stood in between their teacher and Naruto, raising their voices in mild desperation.

"C'mon sensei, all's fine and well, that's what really matters—"

"Yeah, luckily Naruto went to retrieve Lee, God knows what would have happened if he wasn't rescued any sooner—"

"Unfortunately Lee doesn't have a strong defense to repel genjutsu, Naruto rescued him earlier before he could compromise this whole mission, sensei." Shikamaru intervened in attempt to rationalize Naruto's motives.

"Enough, I am not going to listen to any of those half baked excuses." Sasuke spoke with a menacing tone, silencing his students. "Especially you, Shikamaru, who comes from a family of tacticians, know the fact that Naruto running off forced me to retrieve him and compromised the whole squad since everyone was too weakened to defend against any possible attack. And you still waste your breath to defend his foolishness?"

The students glanced at each other, unable to come up with any other explanation for a moment.

"But—" Ino muttered.

"Guys, everyone, you don't have to do this." Naruto interrupted, gently prying away from Sakura's protective arms. "Sensei is right, I broke the rules; I should face the consequences. Don't worry about me."

Acknowledging with a weak nod, one by one each returned to their places hesitantly, save for a pink-haired kunoichi and a bowl-cut ninja, who still glanced back and forth between them.

"Sakura-chan, bushy-eyebrows, you better go." Naruto lowered his hand from his injured cheek and grinned apologetically. "It's going to be ok."

They frowned a little in response, though they couldn't find words for any retort, having no choice but to leave them alone. Before they went away, Sakura patted the tanned shoulder and Naruto reassured her, by patting her hand back.

Sasuke turned around, silently walking towards a more secluded place and the blond followed with a sigh, waiting for the outburst:

"Are you an idiot?" Sasuke shouted once they were distanced enough from the team. "Even after I wasted my time to explain the situation and told you that we would rescue Lee later! You still didn't listen to me and even lied to me! You actually lied to me!"

Naruto grimaced from the subtle hurt tone hidden beneath his teacher's thunderous voice, a tinge of guilt uncomfortably squirming in his stomach. He slowly muttered. "I had no choice. I knew you wouldn't let me rescue him no matter what I did or begged for, so I had to go."

"And risk your life unnecessarily, just like that. You're always so impulsive and reckless, acting without thinking about any consequences—"

"Well sensei, you've known me for over four years, you should know that I would do something like that…" Naruto mumbled almost inaudibly, blue eyes skittered to one side.

"You are not allowed to come up with any retort you goddamned moron, you should know that under normal circumstances I could easily disqualify you for this." Sasuke snarled back, his body shaking in fury. "Are you satisfied now, disobeying your superior and proving your worth at the expense of the entire team's safety?"

Naruto gaped for a while, flabbergasted by his teacher's accusation. His hands balled into a fist as he also raised his voice. "I didn't do this to satisfy my ego, I did this because I thought this was right! "

"You broke every rule and disrupted the teamwork, how is that supposed to be right you dumbass?" Sasuke yelled.

"It's our duty to look out for our teammates and protect their backs as they would protect ours too! If I abandoned a comrade when I had the capacity to help him out, I'd be unworthy to wear the Leaf insignia and be part of the Konoha nins!" Naruto retorted heatedly.

Sasuke almost gave into the urge to run his hand over his face, of coursethis usuratonkachi would think something like that, he should have expected nothing else coming from this stubborn dumbass. The brunet lowered his voice, unable to find the same anger displayed before. "I may understand your frustration, but circumstances are different. You disappeared completely out of my grasp, there was no info regarding the fortress so I didn't know if you could escape unscathed, I didn't know where you were so I could make sure you were safe and I was worried I couldn't prote—" Sasuke noticed that he was blurting out more than necessary and controlled himself. "It's my duty as your teacher to supervise your actions so you won't do anything foolish."

Naruto rolled his eyes. "Not this shit again…" The blond muttered to himself.

"You should have recognized that you made a wrong move and corrected yourself. You keep underestimating your enemies and entering dangerous territory without any preemptive plan. You don't have enough experience in the battlefield, one wrong move and you might die from this reckless act."

"God, I'm not a genin dammit! I have already succeeded on difficult missions before; I'm strong enough to defend myself! Youshould stop underestimating me instead!" Naruto growled; his frustration and impatience starting to spin out of control.

"I will stop underestimating you if you stop being so impulsive!"

"Maybe I will stop being impulsive if you gave me some credit that I can manage the situation by myself!"

"You obviously can't, you're still too young and inexperienced! You're not even qualified to be a full-fledged ANBU yet!" Sasuke found himself shouting once again, unable to keep his coolness in front of Naruto.

"That's what you think about me, that I can't do anything by myself! Well, fuck this all, 'cuz I'm going to be an ANBU next week!" Naruto finally exploded, breathing heavily afterwards.

Onyx eyes widened considerably once he heard this outburst. Sasuke could barely believe the words that were uttered out; feeling like gravity had spun out of his axis. His heartbeat throbbed loudly in his eardrums and he muttered. "What?"

His blond student looked guilty from this revelation, as if he didn't wish to reveal this information under these circumstances. Naruto said more slowly this time, his eyes carefully avoiding his scrutinizing gaze. "Yeah, I am going to have my first mission as full-fledged ANBU next week, it's been confirmed already."

This…can't be. Sasuke shook his head to clear up his thoughts, a cold sweat running down his spine. "Are you sure?"

Naruto made a noise of disbelief and retorted. "Yes. They viewed my reports and overall performance and concluded that I'm fit to be part of the official ANBU squad."

As Naruto continued to give him more information, Sasuke felt his heart plummeting into further depths of darkness. He didn't want to imagine all the possible dangerous missions his student would partake without hisguidance; making sure he'd be able to stay by Naruto's side…

The younger nin proceeded narrating, trying to appease the stunned silence coming from his teacher. "I told you that I could manage myself. The Hokage and the council have already approved my advancement, everything is already official now. I'm no longer that helpless boy that you had to protect four years ago; I'm strong enough to stand on my own."

"…Protecting him. I won't be able to protect him from now on." An insistent buzz polluted his every rational thought as Sasuke tried to reject this reality, his stomach curling so painfully that he wanted to hurl. The brunet was so caught up with his own turmoil that he didn't notice Naruto hesitating to say these next words, an embarrassed shyness coloring his cheeks.

"And maybe…maybe…now that I'm part of the ANBU squad, I'll be able to stand by your side and protect you too because—"

"This must be some kind of mistake." Sasuke suddenly interrupted with a growl.

It was Naruto's turn now to lose his voice in sheer astonishment. "What?" The blond hissed.

"No one notified me about this and I am your instructor. I should have been made aware of this decisions and I had the right to intervene if necessary. Clearly someone misjudged somewhere or there must be some kind of misunderstanding."

"You're still fixed on that? I told you that everything was authorized already, the Hokage himself told me so!" Naruto replied impatiently.

And hearing that his former mentor had a finger in all this raised Sasuke's suspicions even further. There must be some kind of obscure scheme that Kakashi planned without his consent. "He's probably just testing you out or something. I will clear up this situation; you don't have to worry about it." With a mental nod, the brunet turned back to their camp.

The young blond however was far from wanting to finish this conversation yet. He followed his teacher, opening his mouth with an incredulous snarl. "Wait a minute! I already told you that I succeeded becoming an official ANBU and you don't believe me? You're such an asshole!"

"It's not about believing or not, I just find this 'promotion' too suspicious. That's why I'm going to clarify this with the Hokage, because you're not ready for this yet." Sasuke responded, slowly recomposing his stoic self. He slapped a nearby tree that howled in pain and transformed into Kiba that was tenderly holding his nose. "I know that you were all trying to eavesdrop on our conversation, you can stop the genjutsu. We're moving out now." Every student appeared from behind the vegetation awkwardly, glancing as their teacher passed through them.

Naruto groaned loudly, he knew that once Sasuke made a decision, there was almost nothing that could change his one-track mind and if he tried to talk with his teacher again they would end up having a shouting match. Seriously, why the hell did this bastard have to be this complicated…?