This was written for a crossover challenge the Reader Appreciation club held on Y-gal, but the story kept getting bigger so I didn't even get very far with it. I will try to finish it though.

FYI: The concept of how they get to No. 6 is based (loosely) around the plot of the fourth Shippuuden movie: The Lost Tower. Also, while I'll consider anime events, I'm mostly going from the timeline as it occurs in the No. 6 manga and light novel. There is a difference between novel and anime if you don't already know that, including the fact Sion never gets to see Nezumi at the theater, and that is not where Nezumi collapsed (he collapses in their home after the interrogation of that No. 6 official, chapter 15 of manga).

Timeline: Undecided, but this takes place after Nezumi and Sion fight about Safu. Maybe fairly close to the manhunt. But I haven't decided if they've interrogated the No. 6 official (manga/novel only). So the 'manhunt' may be something Nezumi's not aware of yet. I might want to include that interrogation in this story, which is why I don't know if this is before or after that event.


"There are no strangers here; Only friends you haven't yet met." - Yeats


When Naruto woke up, the last thing he remembered was chasing Sasuke through a series of underground caves that ran beneath the ruins of Rōran in Wind Country and then being hit by a blast of light. It should've been dry here. There should've been sand coming out of his ears. There should've been remnants of the once magnificent towers that got destroyed during the ninja wars more than 20 years ago. However, he quickly came to realize that he had no idea where he was now, and, on top of that, where the hell did Sasuke go?

He got to his feet, dusting himself off and adjusting his weapon's pouch on his leg. In the distance, he could see a strange building unlike any he'd seen before, and it was surrounded on all four sides as if it was some kind of fortress. There seemed to be a route leading up to its front gates. As he climbed further up one of the nearby hills, he realized that right below him appeared to be some sort of village and, just beyond it, one of the largest walls he'd ever seen in his life. In fact, it was probably taller than the Hokage Monument!

"Holy shit!" He put his hand up to shield his eyes from the sun. "Where the hell am I?"

Considering his limited choices, his best bet seemed to be this village that existed within close proximity to that giant wall. While not a complete desert anymore, the area didn't exactly seem lush with trees. Rather, it reminded him of photos he'd seen of the hidden village in Rain Country. As he sniffed the air, he caught the whiff of a plethora of smells: industrial waste, decay, and even death. Kurama was grumbling from inside his head, though the fox didn't seem to have any explanations for where they were and only offered that the light he'd been hit with could've been some form of jutsu.

"Heh."

Naruto rubbed the back of his head and started to scale down the rocky hill so that he might find someone who could tell him just where the hell he was.


As he entered the village, Naruto was left with the distinct impression that people were staring at him, yet every time he went to make eye contact, the person would look away and go to a great amount of effort to get away from him or move to the other side of the street entirely. The markets felt somewhat familiar at least, like the ones in Konoha. There were people selling meat, bread, vegetables, clothes, and weapons. Realizing that he was hungry, he went to reach for his frog wallet, but it must've fallen out back up on that hill because now it was gone.

It was probably a poor village given that most of the people were dressed in rags. He'd seen it before in places like Wave Country before the Great Naruto Bridge had been built as well as other villages, but that there were children peeking their heads out from the alleys and begging for food… it was never an easy thing to see. He had no change to offer either, now that his wallet had disappeared.

In one of the alleyways stood an attractive woman with long, dark hair and sultry green eyes. When Naruto made eye contact with her, she smiled at him flirtatiously.

"Hey boy," she said. "Are you lookin' for a friend? You look a little lost."

Naruto scratched the back of his head as he walked up to her, a blush on his cheeks. Before he could respond, the woman grabbed him by the wrist and pulled him further down the alley. She put a hand on his chest and shoved him against the wall.

"Well? I don't have all day. My place isn't so far from here." She ran her fingers through his hair. "What interesting hair you have. I don't think I've ever seen such bright, blond hair."

"Uuuh…" He felt himself turning red. Was it just him or was her face really close to his right now? "Er, actually. I am lookin' for this guy. Just a couple centimeters taller than me? Dark hair? Dead eyes? Complete jerk?"

She chuckled, her breath ghosting across his ear and perfume making his nose twitch. "You're going to have to be more specific, honey. That description fits a lot of men around here." She touched his cheek. "Although, you seem unusual. Do you have much experience, or can I teach you a little something?"

"Huh? Teach me…?" Before he could finish, the woman leaned in and kissed him on the lips. Panicking, Naruto pushed her away, harder than he'd meant to, and she went stumbling backward.

"What's the big idea!?" She yelled. "No need to get violent!"

"Uh, er…" He put his hands up in front of him and wildly glanced around.

"Just so you know, you're going to have to pay for that kiss, boy!"

"What? I didn't even want- "

"Pay up," she said. "Or I'm going to have to call my friends, and they won't be near as nice to look at as me."

"Er… I. Um. Lost my wallet?" He kept backing away, slowly, hoping to escape the situation since he had no idea how the hell things had ended up like this, but then out of the corner of his eye he noticed a dark figure standing in the entrance to the alley. "S-Sasuke?"

"I see you're already getting into trouble," he said to Naruto, and, coolly, his dark eyes flicked to the woman.

"You're not going to tell me he belongs to you, are you?" She asked Sasuke and folded her arms against her chest, looking positively annoyed.

Naruto started to protest. "W-what? Him? Me? Huh? I don't belong- "

"Shut up, Naruto," Sasuke ordered, and Naruto did shut up for some reason. Petulantly, he scowled as Sasuke approached the both of them. He considered the woman for a moment. "What if he did belong to me?"

The woman tilted her head. "Is everyone in this town gay or what? Well, first I'd say that if you two are together, then it's a shame. You're a very beautiful man." She batted her eyelashes at Sasuke, and Naruto rolled his eyes. "Second. If he's not going to pay, then you owe me for that kiss!"

Naruto opened his mouth to argue, but Sasuke was faster and covered his mouth with a hand. Naruto squawked as Sasuke grabbed his arm and tightened his grip. What the fuck?

"How much?" Sasuke asked. "For the kiss?"

"One silver piece."

"A silver piece," he repeated. "Is your kiss worth so much? It didn't look like it to me. In fact, he didn't appear to be enjoying it at all."

"Why you - " She began to say, but then she stilled, her entire body slumping. Naruto moved fast, breaking hold of Sasuke's hand on him and catching her before she fell and hit her head on the ground. Gently, he propped her up against the brick wall.

"What did you do…?" he asked and as he gazed up at Sasuke, he saw a brief flash of the Mangekyou Sharingan.

"She won't be waking up for a while," said Sasuke and then, turning his back to Naruto, started to walk away.

Naruto blinked as he glanced at the woman, wondering if she'd be alright if they left her here. She had said something about friends, after all, so she should be okay. He got up and ran after Sasuke.

"Wait! Sasuke! Don't walk away, you bastard! What the hell just happened?!"

"Naruto," Sasuke muttered and, again, he grabbed Naruto by the arm, guiding him to walk at his side. "Keep your voice down, or you'll draw attention."

"What do I care about that? Why did you help me back there? Where are we? Why are you here?"

"Just shut up for a second and keep walking."

Scowling, Naruto did as he was told. It was true that the both of them were getting a lot of strange looks. Not that he felt particularly intimidated by anyone, but there was also no point in starting unnecessary trouble with people who were obviously just civilians. He followed Sasuke until they reached a small shop that appeared to be a bakery. Sasuke led him to a table in a dark corner and ordered them both a cup of green tea as well as a half a loaf of bread with some butter. The old woman peered at the both of them suspiciously and asked to be paid upfront. Smoothly, Sasuke let slip a few coins into the woman's wrinkly palm and she dashed away, bowing profusely as she went to take care of their order.

"How is it you have money?" he grumbled.

"I stole it. That's how. Our money doesn't work here, so I had to get it from somewhere, didn't I?"

"You stole it? You're such an asshole!

"Keep your voice down," Sasuke hissed. "If I have to warn you again, I'll cut out your tongue."

The old woman reappeared to set down their cups and pour the tea directly from the kettle. A young girl of about seven or eight years old stood by her side and set down the plate of bread and butter. Shyly, she smiled up at Naruto, and he smiled back.

"Come on then, Rin," the old woman scolded her and grabbed her roughly by the shoulder to lead her away from the table. "Don't disturb the customers."

The girl shot one more bashful, inquisitive look at Naruto. He waved to her, and she smiled and giggled.

"Cute kid," he said. He looked up to find Sasuke staring at him coldly. "What?"

"The only reason I saved you back there is because I'm sure you're the reason we ended up here."

Naruto scoffed, offended that Sasuke thought this was his fault. "I don't even know where here is!"

"I've already asked around. We're in an area that the locals refer to as the West Block."

Naruto reached for his tea and took a drink, smacking his lips noisily. "West Block, eh? I've never heard of it. We are still in Wind Country, right?"

Sasuke stared at him a long moment and then said, "I don't know."

"Huh? You don't know?" He leaned across the table. "What do you mean you don't know!?"

"I mean that I don't know. You speak Japanese, don't you?"

"Shut up!" Naruto huffed and slouched in the chair, crossing his arms. "Just what the hell happened in those caves, and why do I have the feelin' that something' like this has happened before?"

Sasuke raised an eyebrow. "This has happened before?"

Naruto rubbed his finger over the bridge of his nose. "No. I just said I had a strange feelin' of déjà vu."

"Hm." Sasuke observed him for a minute before his gaze shifted to the door when two bearded men entered the establishment. He returned his gaze to Naruto. "I have a theory."

"Okay…" He grabbed for a piece of bread and started slathering some butter on it. He stuffed it into his mouth, chewing it loudly. "Well, are ya gonna tell me or what?"

Sasuke's eyes narrowed at him. He looked repulsed. "The typography of the land appears to be different, but I believe that we're still in the same location as Rōran."

"Huh? How is that possible? We were just there, and this looks nothin' like Rōran. You remember it, right? All dust and sand and desert and absolutely no people except me, you, those weirdos you were with, and Kakashi - Oh. Shit. I forgot about Kakashi-sensei."

"I would be able to tell if anyone else was here, but you and I are the only ones."

"Are you sure?" Naruto asked, stuffing his face with another buttered-up piece of crusty bread. "But I don't get it. How can we still be in Rōran when this place isn't even on the map?"

"Because," Sasuke said, his voice low and reflecting impatience, "That blast that occurred because you used the Rasengan apparently caused us to travel in time."

Mouth gaping, Naruto could only stare and then started laughing so hard that other customers began to shoot him nervous glances as if he was someone both hysterical and dangerous. "So what you're sayin'," he held onto his stomach, still chortling at the idea, "Is that we've gone back in time?"

"No. Not back. Forward."

Naruto stopped laughing. His eyes went wide. "F-forward? You mean, like, we're in the future?"

"I'm not completely sure, but that's my guess, yes. Underneath Rōran runs an ancient chakra leyline that had, at one point, been sealed. You using the Rasengan must have disturbed it and broken the seal. The result of that seal being broken transported us forward in time."

"Aah hmm…" Suddenly the bread didn't seem so appetizing, so he set it on the plate. "Well. Shit. So, what do we have to do to get back?"

"I… don't know. At least not right now."

"Can't we just find wherever that seal was and, y'know, seal it back up? You can do that, right? And then we'd go back to where we belong? Ne, Sasuke? Right?" But looking at Sasuke didn't make him feel hopeful at all.

"I think we need to focus on finding shelter for the night. In case you hadn't noticed, this place doesn't seem eager to welcome strangers. Especially suspicious ones. So, if you can, try to refrain from drawing attention to yourself."

Naruto squinted. "I can do that. Probably."

"Let's get going. Perhaps I can find an inn or hotel to stay at."

"You and me together?" Naruto asked as they started walking out of the shop. "That's sorta weird, isn't it?"

"Who said anything about letting you stay with me?"

"You bastard!" Naruto pointed a finger at him as they went out into the street. He turned around to argue but then wham- someone collided right into him, knocking him into Sasuke. The other person went down on the ground, his small bag of groceries spilling. There was a shaggy brown dog at his side. It started to growl at Naruto as he tried to help the person up. "Hey, you alright?" he asked.

The boy on the ground gazed up at him and smiled. "Sorry. It's my fault. I was in a hurry and not paying attention to where I was going."

Naruto offered him a hand and, after only the slightest hesitation, the boy grabbed for it and allowed himself to be pulled to his feet.

"Your hair," remarked Naruto, gawking at it. He'd never seen hair so white before, and there was a strange red mark on the boy's left cheek that appeared to coil around his neck like a snake.

Self-consciously, the other boy tugged at one of the strands, a slight blush dusting his features. In a way, he looked sort of… cute. Er, wait. No, that's not right. That's not what he'd meant to think!

"Um, sorry about knockin' into you," said Naruto as he got on his hands and knees to help the white-haired boy gather his groceries. Although, a few kids shot out from the alleyway to pick up an orange and an apple that had rolled away. Naruto yelled after them and got to his feet, but the boy grabbed his sleeve.

"No, it's okay. I have enough, and they probably have nothing." He was on his feet, smiling warmly at the both of them. Stiffly, Sasuke remained standing behind Naruto, saying nothing.

"Well, if you say so. I'm Naruto, by the way. Uzumaki Naruto! Are you sure I can't replace your fruit you lost?"

"With what money?" He heard Sasuke ask from behind him.

"I'm Sion," the boy introduced himself, tilting his head to the side and holding out his hand. He wore a scruffy old coat with clasps along the front. He was rather skinny, too, making Naruto wonder if he really could afford to lose food to a bunch of kids.

Naruto clasped his hand, shaking it. "This stoic bastard behind me is Sasuke." He hoiked a thumb over his shoulder. "We're, um. Not from around here?"

Sion gave a small chuckle. "I could tell as much from your clothes."

"Say, Sasuke and I were just talkin' about finding' a hotel. Do y'know of any sorta place like that we could stay for the night? Er, it seems we may be stuck here a little while."

"I do know of a hotel around here. It's run by a friend of mine named Inukashi, but it seemed to me he said the hotel was entirely rented out tonight unfortunately."

"Ah, well crap. That's fine. We can always… sleep outside?"

"Forgive me, but I don't think that would be terribly safe." Sion shifted uncomfortably, adjusting the bag in his arms. "Perhaps you can stay with me for the night, but I should probably ask Nezumi first."

"Nezumi?" Naruto repeated.

"It's probably a nickname," Sasuke said in his ear, making the hairs on the back of his neck stand on end.

"Don't get so close, dammit!" Naruto shouted. "You're makin' me nervous!"

"Hn."

Again, Sion laughed but covered his mouth while he did it. "Nezumi's a friend, too. I stay with him. It's a fairly small room, so I should ask him first. However, he's at work until late, so… why don't you just follow me?"

"Really?" Naruto grinned and playfully hit Sion in the shoulder. "I was gettin' to wonder if everyone in this town was unfriendly, but we sure are lucky to have run into you here, Sion!"

"Let's just say I understand what it feels like to be an outsider here." Sion smiled at him, and the three of them (along with the dog), started walking toward wherever it was that Sion lived. On the way, Sasuke kept to himself mostly, except when Sion asked a casual question of him. Then he responded with an answer of one or two words at most.

"He reminds me a little of Nezumi when he's in a bad mood," Sion remarked as they left the limits of West Block and entered a less inhabited area. There were a few shacks and run down houses on the way, even a shabby looking playground with a broken swing set.

"What's Nezumi like?" asked Naruto, folding his arms behind his head.

"Nezumi?" Sion pressed a finger to his lips. "How should I describe him? Well. He's very intelligent and very honest. He may come across as blunt, but he's one of the most kind-hearted people I've ever met."

"Ah. That's about the complete opposite of this guy here." Naruto pointed at Sasuke, who merely glared at him. "You said your friend was at work. What does he do?"

"He's an actor."

"Woah, really? That's so cool!"

Sion smiled. "I think so, too. But he won't let me go see him at the theater."

"Why not?" Naruto frowned. "If y'wanna go see him perform, go see him perform! What is he, shy or somethin'?"

The dog whined, and Sion pet him on the head. "I'm afraid he's far from shy. I think it has more to do with the fact he might not be able to watch out for me while he's performing on the stage. Maybe he thinks the crowd is too dangerous?" Sion shook his head. "You know, Naruto. I'm not too sure, to be honest."

Naruto nodded even though he didn't entirely understand. "Well, maybe once I meet this Nezumi guy I can talk some sense into him. Right, Sasuke?"

"You're an idiot," he replied to Naruto, which led to them getting into an argument the rest of the way to Sion's place. Naruto only stopped insulting the other ninja when Sion pushed on one of the bricks of a run down building and a hidden stairway appeared in front of them.

"W-what is this?" Naruto cried. "So cool!"

Sion led them down the steps and into a darkly lit hall with several doors lining either side of the passage.

"It's the storage for an old library," answered Sion. He stopped in front of one of the doors and shifted the bag into his other arm. He unlocked it with a key. "This is it."

Naruto peeked inside, and right away he saw the large amount of bookshelves. The room was tiny. There was a table and a couch; a small stove for cooking; a piano and chair; a low-set table; and a bed. There were a few other personal items thrown around on the furniture. The three of them walked into the room, and Sion placed the bag of groceries down on the table. He took off his coat and neatly folded it, setting it on the arm of the couch. The dog found a spot next to the door. It let out a loud yawn before resting his head on his paws.

"It's not much, but I guess you can call it home," said Sion just as a pair of mice - one brown, the other black - scrambled onto the boy's shoulders. "Hello there. Cravat. Tsukiyo."

"Kyaaaaah!" Naruto flew over to him. "So cuuuute!" The mice chirruped at him and one tried to nip at his fingers.

"Don't do that," scolded Sion. "Naruto's a friend of mine." After that, the black mouse jumped onto Naruto's arm and climbed atop his shoulder. Naruto stroked him along its furry spine.

"There we go. There's a good mouse." Smiling, Naruto glanced up, eyes landing on Sasuke's disturbed expression. "Oh what, a guy who used to hang out with snakes suddenly has somethin' against mice?" He was just about to sit down when the door sprang open behind them and slammed against the wall, narrowly missing the dog's tail.

"Sion!" The person in the doorway yelled. "What have I told you about leaving the door unlocked?"

Naruto's first thought was: Wow, what a cute girl!

His second thought was: How the fuck did I just end up face-down on the floor?

There was a weight on his back. A pain shot through his shoulder as his arm was pinned behind him and the sharp tip of a knife grazed the side of his throat. He swallowed heavily. "Uuuh…"

Lips whispered near his ear, warm breath ghosting across his jaw, making him shiver. "Make a single move and there will be so much blood, you'll be able to swim in it."

Naruto's third and final thought:

Aaaah shit!


Naruto was sitting on the couch, rubbing the side of his neck as he listened to Sion and Nezumi yelling in the hall outside of the room. He glared at Sasuke. "How come you didn't help me out?"

"You're a ninja, aren't you?" Sasuke was standing by one of the bookshelves, reading over the titles. "You should be able to take care of yourself."

"Maybe we shouldn't have come here. They're really goin' at it out there. I don't wanna 'cause Sion any trouble. He seems like a nice guy."

Sasuke didn't reply.

"Say, I didn't know y'liked books so much."

Sasuke picked out a particular book off the shelf and opened it. "There's a lot you don't know about me."

"Ah...hah."

The door banged open, and Nezumi came in first, Sion following behind.

"Listen guys," Naruto said, getting to his feet. "I didn't realize it'd be that much of a problem. He and I are used to roughin' it so we can sleep outside. No problem."

"Finally, someone's speakin' some sense around here," said Nezumi, sounding exasperated. "Sion said you helped him out back in town when some kids hassled him, so," he glanced at a determined Sion, "One night. That's it. I'm not runnin' an inn, and we do not have room for any more boarders."

"Thank you, Nezumi," said Sion softly. As Nezumi stood there expectantly, Sion introduced them. "This is Naruto, and this is Sasuke."

Nezumi barely glanced at Naruto, but when his eyes fell on Sasuke, he seemed to tense. "Do you often like to touch other people's belongings before askin' permission?"

Naruto snickered; Sasuke glared, but he put the book back on the shelf.

"Of course we will compensate you for allowing us to stay," said Sasuke, barely able to hide the dislike from his tone. "We won't be here for very long."

Nezumi held up a hand. "There's no need. I owe you for watchin' out for this helpless sap." He moved Sion aside and took a seat on the couch, beside Naruto. He unwrapped the dark grey scarf from around his neck and threw it over the edge of the sofa, on top of Sion's coat. "So what's the story? You're obviously not from No. 6, and," he turned up his nose as he scrutinized Naruto from head to toe, "you don't dress like someone who's used to livin' in the West Block. Are you from another city?"

Naruto was about to answer, but Sasuke got there first.

"You ask a lot of questions," he told Nezumi.

Nezumi's eyebrow twitched, but he plastered on a dangerous smile. "I like to get t'know people before I decide whether or not I should give them the privilege of being an enemy."

"Nezumi!" Sion exclaimed. "They're obviously in some sort of trouble. We should help them out if we can."

"Ah, Sion," said Naruto. "You're such a good guy. It's true though. We're, uh, sorta in a predicament and don't know anything about where we are, but we need to get back to where we came from."

"That's helpful," Nezumi drawled sarcastically. "Just what I need is one more airhead to take care of who knows nothin' about livin' in a place like this."

Sasuke cleared his throat, making everyone glance at him. "Naruto and I are perfectly capable of taking care of ourselves. What we need is a little time and information. After that, we'll be out of your way."

Nezumi nodded, hunching forward with his arms folded on top of his knees. "That works just as well for me. We have our own troubles to deal with, so I don't wanna be takin' on more baggage than I have to. So where did you come from and what sort of information are you lookin' for? Because out here, information costs money."

"Like I said," Sasuke's eyes narrowed, "We can compensate you for the trouble, but that's because I'm willing not to have to do this the hard way."

"Oh?" Nezumi drawled. "Is that a thinly veiled threat or are you just happy to see me? And here I thought I was the only pretty boy with balls and a brain in this town."

Sasuke smirked. "What do you know about a nearby underground cavern or series of caves?"

The humor disappeared from Nezumi's eyes.

"So you do know something about them," said Sasuke. "Are they located nearby?"

Sion and Naruto could only look between the two other teens. Naruto was clueless as to what was going on, but he was also greatly amused at seeing someone talk that way to Sasuke.

"Nezumi?" Sion asked. "I didn't know there were any underground caves around here..."

"You wouldn't," Nezumi snapped. He sighed, shaking his head and making his bangs fall in front of his face as he lowered his head. "Underneath the correctional facility there are several caves, but they're... inhabited."

"Inhabited?" Sion asked. "But how is that possible? Are you saying that there are people living underneath the correctional facility? Who are they, and - " Nezumi promptly covered Sion's mouth with his hand.

"Sion," he warned. "What have I told you about letting your curiosity run away with you? Stop bein' so damn nosy when this doesn't concern you!"

"Sheesh," said Naruto. "No need to be such a jerk about it. The guy just has a lot of questions. I'd wanna ask the same stuff."

"That's because you're a moron," Sasuke remarked.

"Maybe you're not as dull as I thought you to be," Nezumi said to Sasuke. "I see that you're also burdened with the weight of an oblivious companion."

"What! I'm not a burden! If anyone's a burden," Naruto pointed at Sasuke. "It's that guy. He once put his fist through my chest!"

"Is that true, Sasuke?" Sion asked, absolutely horror-stricken. Naruto almost felt guilty for saying anything.

Sasuke didn't reply; Nezumi eyed the dark-haired ninja more closely.

"Ah, so that's how it is," Nezumi murmured while touching his long fingers to his lips. "Often it is the most deserving people who cannot help loving those who destroy them. In order to access the caves, you'd have to be caught and admitted to the correctional facility."

"You don't think we'd be able to penetrate their security or whatever?" Naruto asked, wondering who the hell would love someone who tried to destroy them. What a weirdo.

"Huh?" Nezumi waved a hand. "Impossible. They're heavily armed at all checkpoints. You'd be dead before you took a step anywhere near that place."

"Armed?" Naruto asked. "Like with kunai and swords and stuff?"

"Naruto," said Sasuke. "Think about it. They have different weapons than what we're used to here."

"Oh... hm. Like what?"

" 'Where you're from' ?" asked Nezumi, obviously suspicious. "Just where areyou from if you don't mind this humble peasant making such an inquiry?"

"That's none of your concern," replied Sasuke. "So we'll just have to find another way to get in. Is it possible to turn ourselves in at the gate?"

"Anything is possible," Nezumi said lightly, throwing his hands out in front of him. "It's no skin off my teeth if you wanna throw your lives away. Anyway, I'm hungry and beat, so why don't we scrounge up what food the four of us can split and figure out what the options are tomorrow."

"I think that's a good idea," said Sion. "I think we'll have enough if I make some soup. And there's plenty of bread left to go around."

"You heard the wife," said Nezumi, getting up on his feet. He grabbed for his scarf and wrapped it around his neck. "Sion, I'll leave you to the guests."

"Why? Where are you going?" asked Sion.

"Just out for some fresh air. I'm sure you're more than capable of entertaining our guests. I await the dinner toll." With that, he left the room in a such a dramatic flourish that even Naruto raised an eyebrow. The door slammed behind him, causing the dog to raise his head and perk his ears up.

"Wow, he sure is somethin'," Naruto mumbled. "Haha, although he sure had your number, didn't he, Sasuke?"

Sasuke appeared thoughtful for a moment. "I could use some air myself," he said and then he was gone, too, leaving Naruto alone with Sion.

"Do we smell or what?" he asked Sion, watching the other boy turn on the stove and gather together some ingredients for the soup. "Do you need any help with that?"

Sion smiled at him. "No, that's okay. I like to do this. Before I came here, I wasn't used to having to make my own food. I know Nezumi may come across as a little - "

"Uptight?" Naruto ventured. "Dramatic?"

Sion chuckled. "Yes, well. I've learned a lot from Nezumi. I owe him my life actually."

"Hm. I really thought he was a girl when he first swung the door open."

"The first time I ever saw Nezumi, I was 12, and I thought the same thing."

"Twelve, huh?" Naruto unzipped his orange jacket and put it to the side. "That's about the age I was when Sasuke and I had to team up."

"Is that so?" Sion asked, chopping up vegetables as Naruto watched with interest. "What sort of team were you two on?"

"Well, um. We're ninjas."

Sion stopped what he was doing to regard him with wonder. "Ninjas? I've only ever read about them in Nezumi's books. I didn't know that there were such things as ninjas existing today."

"Um, I don't think there are actually. Y'see. We sort of, uh, maybe... traveled forward in time from where we belong?"

Sion blinked at him, and Naruto thought he was going to call him crazy, but he only smiled. "No wonder your friend seems so concerned. He's obviously got a lot on his mind as obviously he has to find a way to get the both of you back to the time you belong."

"You mean... you believe me?"

Sion shrugged. "You haven't given me a reason not to."

"Hm. Sasuke, well... we haven't always gotten along over the years, but I know deep down he's a good guy. Like your Nezumi. I dunno what it is about good guys who try to act tough. Granted, Sasuke's been through a lot and had it pretty rough, so he's not too quick to rely on others."

"The same goes for Nezumi." Sion sighed. "But he won't tell me anything about his past. He thinks there's no point in getting close to someone who may one day become his enemy."

"Huh?" Naruto cocked his head to the side, his brow furrowing in confusion. "Why would he - ?" Then he clamped his mouth shut because he could imagine very well how a person you thought was a friend would suddenly... not see you that way anymore. "It's none of my business, but. I think with guys like that, what it comes down to is they're just... scared. To lose the people they care about, y'know?"

"You might be right, Naruto." One of the mice hopped up onto Naruto and squeaked at him. "I think he's trying to comfort you."

"Is that so, little guy?" Naruto gently rubbed the top of the mouse's head. "Ah, it's a sad day when even a mouse takes pity on ya for bein' stuck with a broody bastard after being transported into the future."