Naruto; What If

Ninth Arc; New Beginnings

My standard form of writing applies.

" " - Spoken

' ' - Thought

"Jutsus" - Jutsu. Some are kinda bastardized, so don't expect much.

( ) - Commentary. You should know how this goes by now. We see things. I have snarky smartass comments. You want laughs. I see a mutually beneficial deal here.

~~Badadumdunbum~~

Chapter 56 - A New Direction

~~Badadumdunbum~~

"After a shooting spree, they always want to take the guns away from the people who didn't do it." -William S. Burroughs

~~Badadumdunbum~~

*WHAM-BANG-BOOM!*

"HEY!"

I was jolted awake by several loud impacts, followed by what sounded like the voice of Kami, a shout loud enough to shake the rafters, even the very foundations of the apartment building itself. Anko stirred in my arms, sitting up and blinking tiredly as we both glanced towards the direction the unwelcome sound had come from; the front door.

We then shared a look, having an entire conversation in complete silence, neither of us saying a word.

Should I get that?

Why bother? I'd rather go at it again.

Sounds good, but what about breakfast?

Both of our stomaches suddenly growled in unison, as if to emphasize my point.

Point taken. I'll start that, you go filet our impromtu alarm.

We both nodded, rolling out of bed to start on our respective tasks. I glanced around for a time before finally looking straight up to find my shorts hanging from the ceiling fan. After snagging those and yawning languidly, I made for the front entrance.

Discreetly pulsing my chakra outward as I pulled the door open, I stopped dead, blinking owlishly.

Standing before me with shellshocked expressions of comical diesbelief, were four familiar figures, though I greatly wished I'd never seen them like this.(Sharingan bad! BAD! Can't erase the mental images! I NEED BRAIN BLEACH!)

Rock Lee and Might Gai were standing proudly, each wearing only a banana hammock with (matching) faltering grins and what looked(And smelled! Ugh!) like bloody olive oil spread over their bare chests. The third was Iruka, wearing some kind of leather S&M getup with chains all over, complimented by a collar that had a short leash hanging from it.(Fucking really? Where's Kiba when you need him?) The stupid, gawking look on his scarred face would've been absolutely hilarious under other circumstances, but right now I'd settle for not seeing any of them half-naked.

And finally, the only one wearing normal clothes who, in all likelihood, coerced all three of them into coming here looking like this was none other than Yugao Uzuki, whose expression was just-

Just perfect. Jaw hanging, eyes bulging,(One of them twitching, even) purple hair frizzled, the whole shebang.

'Quick, think of a smart-mouthed remark!'

Figuring I had but a moment to act, I calmly greeted them with a rather smug little smirk.(As well as a few bite marks on my shoulder) "Morning." Right before closing the door on their faces. I turned back around and started towards the kitchen, calling, "Anko! It's for you!"

She poked her head out from around the corner, her expression looking like the personification of a question mark. I carefully kept my face blank, suppressing howls of laughter on the inside.

Her dignity hastily covered up with MY shirt,(Which was juuust long enough to cover her naughty bits) she brushed past me as I rounded the corner and entered the kitchen, picking up from where she'd left off on the eggs, a cheshire grin plastered to my face.

I waited roughly four, maybe five seconds before hearing the front door open again, the silence signifying that it was left like that for several long, intense moments. Then it was shut once more before I heard Anko padding back across the stained carpet.

Glancing over my shoulder as I flipped the half-finished omelets, I found her walking into the kitchen with a dazed look on her face, almost as if she were in a trance. "Hell of a sight to wake up to," I drawled, barely keeping myself from laughing aloud at the stupidity of it all. "Want me to start on the coffee?"

She finally stopped in front of the fridge, popping it open and rummaging around inside for something. Judging from the sound of clinking glasses, bottles of something. "Make it an Irish coffee. I want to forget I ever saw that."

I finally let loose a low chuckle as I casually remarked, "There are some things in this world that cannot be un-seen. Y'know, I never would've thought Iruka was into bondage or pet-play."

Anko visibly shuddered.

~~Badadumdunbum~~

"I don't believe it. I don't fucking believe it!" Tsunade cried, slumping back in her chair with the exact same expression you'd see on a bulldog sitting in a patch of thistles. Scratch that, it was the expression you'd see on the face of a bulldog dragging its ballsthrough a rose bush, over a patch of thistles, into a forest of briars, and then onto a field of poison ivy.

I admit, it took a lot of effort not to snicker at her.

Naruto just tilted his head, a stupid look on his face as he glanced between the different expressions of the ten other people in the room.(Tsunade, Shizune, Kakashi, Sakura, Naruto, Itachi, Anko, Hinata, Shino, Kiba and myself) "Huh? Don't believe what? And why'd you call us all here this early, Baa-chan?"

She ignored him and continued to glare at me. "All that crap, all that buildup and it ends with this? A drunken bout of wild monkey-sex and everything goes back to normal?"

Despite her attitude and tone of voice, I kept my face a blank slate, as I could tell there was another reason behind all of this. There had to be. "Did you call us all here specifically to discuss my sex life, or is there something I'm missing?"

Tsunade's eye twitched, but before she could say anything, Naruto blurted out, "Huh? Wild monkey-sex? The hell are you talking about?"

I (bashfully) cleared my throat, wrapping an arm around my purple-haired Jounin lover, only my stubborn force of will keeping my cheeks from turning as red as Kiba's. "That Anko and I are back together, seeing as our relationship has become something of a public spectacle."

. . .

There was a pregnant, ominous silence as Kiba shifted uncomfortably, his face bright red for some reason, while others' (fairly) subtle gazes fell upon Anko and myself. Before anyone could say a word, I pulled her a bit closer to me, surging my chakra hard enough to force my collar's seals to strain.

But Naruto remained undeterred, the blonde boy blinking. "Wait. Really?! You're not fucking with us, are you?"

I blinked owlishly at his insistence. "Um, no, we're not. Why are you...?"

Naruto just turned to stare down his nose at Tsunade with this comically smug, shit-eating grin on his face as he shouted, "HAH! I fucking told you so! Pay up!" And with that, each and every one of them, sans Itachi, Shizune, Hinata and Anko, began grumbling as they pulled out their wallets.

Why that-

That motherfucker. That absolute motherfucker.

My eye twitched; hell, it convulsed as I felt the seals in my collar begin stretching and straining at the seams, the purpose-made vents in its design already leaking chakra laced with potent killing intent.

While Naruto raked in his winnings, I felt Anko's arm wrap around my waist, pulling herself against me; this was soon followed by a strong hand coming down on my shoulder. Glancing back, I saw it was Itachi.

He was smiling.

~~Badadumdunbum~~

"Alright, somebody run this by me again. Why the hell are we running our asses off, through this weather," Kiba irritatedly indicated the dark, iron-grey sky, which had been raining buckets on our proverbial parade for the past four hours. "To some backwater village on the ass-end of nowhere?"

Sakura groaned, rolling her eyes as Kakashi did the same, albeit far more quietly. The pinkette called back, "Were you even listening during the briefing? We're headed to Mosscreek village, right along the border of the Land of Hot Water. We've been getting reports of people disappearing, but the only survivor that personally came and reported it was so out of his mind that no one could figure out what he was trying to tell us. When one of the Yamanaka clan tried to see what had him so frightened, it turned the poor woman into a driveling wreck! Tsunade sent a recon team in to investigate more than a week ago, but they never reported back. So now we're going in to find out what the hell happened to those people."

Huh. Sounds like a bad horror movie. Probably going to be a major pain in the ass for all involved. I'm not entirely sure what's been going on, but when we get there, it's going to end real quick-like. I've gotta get back to Anko pretty soon, 'cuz we've got a lot of catching up to do. And yes, that was a euphemism for sexy-time shenanigans.

"Hey, Sasuke."

Brought out of my thoughts of Anko dressed in lace and whipped cream, I blinked owlishly, glancing towards Naruto. "Yeah?"

After looking to the others, making sure they weren't paying attention to us, he rather quietly asked me, "You gonna be okay working with Kakashi-Sensei?"

Shrugging, I nonchalantly responded, "So long as he doesn't say anything stupid, yeah."

He sighed, more than a little melodramatically. "For some reason, that's not very comforting."

Quirking a brow, I asked, "Was it supposed to be?"

Naruto actually chuckled, shaking his blonde head. "Good to see your sense of humor has returned, you snarky prick."

After that, the entire group lapsed into silence, though it wasn't entirely comfortable.(Especially with the rain) Roughly three and a half hours of slogging later, we arrived at our destination; the village was small, covering maybe a square mile and a half of land, not including the rice paddies. Most of the buildings were simple, fashioned from mud brick and timber, with thatched roofs. Other than that, it was entirely deserted as far as the eye could see.

As you could imagine, this set off all sorts of alarm bells. "Something isn't right with this village. Why? Because my kikaichū cannot detect anything living or dead, neither human nor animal nor insect. We should remain cautious," Shino intoned,(That lucky bastard. Him and Hinata were the only ones with hooded jackets) his monotonous voice betraying nothing; the worrisome buzzing of his insects, on the other hand...

My brother's(Since Kurenai was on maternity leave, Itachi was filling in for the leader of Team 8. Tsunade must be really worried about this village if she sent him, Kakashi, Naruto and I) face was as unassuming and unreadable as ever, the lines etched into his expression acting as a gutter for the raindrops that landed on his face. "Shino-san is correct; I can sense nothing within the town, either. Unsettling, considering the four Anbu sent before us."

Kakashi shook his head, that gravity-defying hair of his utterly soaked through and matted down against his head. "Yeah. Hinata, take a look ahead, see if you can find anything they can't."

Naruto's girlfriend nodded, the veins surrounding her eyes bulging conspicuously as her eyes scanned the horizon. "I don't see anything out of the ordinairy. There aren't any signs of battle, no bodies, nothing. But there aren't any animals, either, not as far as I can see."

Itachi looked directly at the Hyuga girl as he politely asked, "And how far is that, Hinata-chan?"

She swallowed drily, despite the soggy conditions. "Just over six kilometers in all directions. I'm looking further around the village outskirts, but... I'm not seeing anything. No animals feeding on the plants, no birds in the sky, though that isn't surprising, but I can't even find an insect scurrying around more than twelve kilometers away from Mosscreek." Upon hearing that, we all shared a worried look.

Suddenly, we took notice of Akamaru's incessant whining. "Huh? What is it, boy?" Kiba dropped low, looking towards his partner, the massive ninja-hound actually keening with his tail between his legs. This was the first time I've ever heard an Inuzuka dog whining from anything but a crippling injury. When the mutt(Meaning Kiba) finally looked up, the expression he wore told us everything we needed to know. "This is bad, guys. Whatever's out here, it's scaring Akamaru half to death. And we can't even see it."

~~Badadumdunbum~~

"Find anything?"

I reached up, pressing the button to activate my comm's mic. "Nothing. This house is as empty as the others, but there's no sign of a struggle. There's something on the table, month-old food laid out in five places. Looks like everyone just got up and left, right in the middle of dinner."

Naruto replied, "Yeah... I'm seeing the same kinda thing here. Clones haven't found anything, either." His voice was garbled by static, and I had a hard time hearing him over the constant pitter-patter of the rain.

Shaking my head, I looked over the dining room once more, my sharingan taking in even the most minute of details.

The food was partially-eaten, and the utinsils looked as though they'd just been dropped.

'This is how you get ants,' I thought, shaking my head with a frown as I went back to the rest of the room.

The chairs were pushed back, left where they were when the family got up.

There was more rotten food in the kitchen; no one bothered to put it away or throw it out. No one's been here since the people left, neither human nor animal.

The front door had been left wide open; they didn't close it when they left.

No trace of any type of chakra, no traps, no blood, no structural damage, nothing to suggest these people had left under threat of force. They just got up and walked out.

As my mind processed these things, trying to piece together this strange puzzle, my comm crackled to life once more. "Uh, hey guys? Get over here, I've got something."

"On my way, Sakura." And with that, I jogged out of the house and into the rain, shunshining towards my teammate's chakra signature. It took no more than four seconds to cross the village in a flash, coming to a sudden halt right next to the pinkette, my blonde blood-brother already next to her.

He smirked, thumbing his nose. "What took you so long, duckbutt? You're getting slow."

Rolling my eyes, I snorted. "Well, I never was quite as quick as you. I'm sure Hinata doesn't mind too much, though."

"Hahahaha- Wait." Naruto laughed aloud for a moment, then stopped short when he caught my implication. "Hey!"

"It's okay, Naruto-kun. I love you anyway." Hinata seemed to appear from out of nowhere, a slight smirk on her pretty face as she wrapped an arm around his shoulder.

Naruto groaned. "Not you, too, Hinata-chan."

In response, she just grinned a little wider and nuzzled her soaked head against his cheek.(She'd pulled down her hood for some reason, probably because her hair was already wet)

Heh, cute. It's good to see she's become more confident in herself, enough so to tease her Uzumaki lover. I just hope Anko and I aren't anywhere near that disgusting to watch in public.

But anyway, Sakura just rolled her eyes and shook her head, turning towards Kiba, who dropped down next to us just then, already complaining. "Bah, I can't smell anything but mud and mildew with this rain. Hope you guys had better luck than us." Kiba growled, shaking the water from his spiky hair once again, Akamaru doing the same, though it had a much more irritating effect on Sakura.

"Hey! Watch it, I'm already wet enough as is." Heheh, well there's a first.

Kiba smirked, snickering to himself. "Phrasing!" Huh.

Wonder why that sounds so familiar?

Before I could think too hard on that, my brother and the bastard appeared in a swirl of soggy leaves, both of the former-Anbu looking as soaked as the rest of us. "What did you find?" Kakashi asked, blinking tiredly.

Sakura turned away from Kiba with only a slight huff, breasts jiggling under her saturated dress. Naruto was right; I still find it weird that Sakura has tits, now. I mean its like lipstick on a pig, but still. Anyway, she replied, "This place isn't like the others. For one, it's boarded up from the inside, and there's a faint smell, like they'd been burning something inside. Seems like somebody barricaded themselves in there, trying to keep something out. And judging from the way the front door looks," She indicated the main entrance we could see, which was deeply gouged; looked like claw marks almost, but the cuts were too clean for that. Whatever had cut into the wood was very, very sharp. "That 'something' was none too pleased."

Itachi blinked, his sharingan active when his eyes reopened. He scanned the door, motioning towards it. "Surround and inspect the building. Hinata-san, check for traps. Shino-san-" My brother stopped, curiously looking around for a moment. "...Where is Aburame-san?"

I blinked owlishly. Now that he mentioned it, Shino should've been here by now. He went over to the South-West portion of the village, but even so, it's not like him to stop and chew the scenery. Not good. "Uh, Hinata?"

She nodded, her dojutsu already active. Those blank, all-seeing eyes flicked to and fro, their movements becoming more frantic as the moments passed. "I- I don't see him. I can't even find any of his insects, he- He's gone!" Yep, better take that up a notch from 'frantic' to 'panic.'

Fuck.

Kiba's eyes bugged out as he shouted, "Wait, WHAT?!"

But before he could say anything more, my elder brother's somber, monotonous voice rang out once again. "Well, this is... Unsettling." For the first time in my life, I saw Itachi with a look of shock on his face. Not good.

"From this point forward, no one is to go alone. Pair up and remain together at all times, never let your partner out of sight." Every one of us nodded, the two remaining members of team 8 sharing a worrisome look as the rest of us glanced to our preferred partner. "We'll come back to this house later; our comrade takes priority."

~~Badadumdunbum~~

I knelt on the muddy ground, inspecting the prints we'd found. "These're his, alright. The tread matches up to Konoha-made shinobi sandals." Getting to my feet, I pointed towards the drag marks that abruptly ended some ten feet away. "Looks like something grabbed and dragged him, then just vanished. Doesn't have any of the signs of a false trail, and this is the only one we've found, besides. No other footprints or indentations in the mud to suggest what he ran into. Doesn't look like it was on the ground; if so, it's lighter on its feet than any ninja I've ever met."

Itachi shook his head, glancing towards the closest and only building(Shack) around. "Perhaps it laid in wait on the roof, then struck while he was unaware. Still, to be able to remain undetected by an Aburame and Hyuga... This does not bode well for the rest of the team."

Shaking my head, I replied, "I don't like it either." I reached up, hitting the button on my comm. "Hey guys, we've got something... Guys? Can you hear me now?" There was nothing but unnerving static on the other end.

I cursed, cutting the connection. "Fucking comms. Damned things never work when you really need 'em. Well, we'd better catch up to the others and let 'em know what we found."

My brother nodded, but just as we both began to start on our way, a chill ran down my spine and the hair on the back of my neck stood on-end. My reflexes kicked in and I dodged well away from the spot I'd been standing, Itachi doing the same as we looked around for whatever had set off our instincts.

Standing right in the middle of the dirt road, not half a foot from where we'd both been situated, was a small child; male, between the ages of four and six, with an unnervingly blank expression on his face. He was dressed in simple brown shorts and a plain sleeveless shirt, though what set my senses off was the fact that he looked perfectly dry and comfortable, even when it was bucketing down on our heads.

Eyes narrowing, my sharingan blazed to life, scanning him; no chakra that I could detect, and I couldn't even read his movements. Definitely not good. He looked up, his hollow onyx eyes staring straight into my own; it was like looking into the darkest part of the deepest abyss one could imagine.

And then he spoke. "You are all going to die here."

I growled, chakra flaring, drawing my sword and getting ready to turn the pint-sized little fucker into bite-sized pieces, when something else got my attention.

"AAAAAIIIEEEEYAAAAH" A distinctly feminine scream sounded in the distance, and I reflexively glanced towards it, then instantly back to the soon-to-be-dead-

"What the fuck?!" The child was gone, as though he'd never even been there. I looked around myself, making sure he wasn't creeping up behind me, then towards Itachi.

Oddly enough, he looked just as freaked out as I felt, but he shook it off and started towards the sound of Sakura's voice. "Let's move, Sasuke!"

"Right!" And we both shunshined, moving as quick as we could to the origin of that scream. We practically(And literally) flew through the air, both of us pushing our bodies to the utmost limit, myself just barely edging out my elder brother by a small margin.

"H-HELP! SENSEI!" Sakura was-

My eyes shot wide when I saw it; a massive blob of pure darkness, some kind of giant entity composed entirely of shadow, more than twenty feet wide, taking up all the space between thw two nearby buildings. My sharingan couldn't detect even the slightest hint of chakra within it, but I could see exactly what it was doing to my teammate.

It had some kind of tentacle-like appendage wrapped around her left leg, and another around her midsection, slowly dragging her towards the creature's main body. Her chakra was racing out of her body, being sucked right into the monstrous thing; it was absorbing it, but I couldn't see where it went once it left her body.

Kakashi had her hand in his as he frantically tried to pull her free, his feet slipping in the mud despite the chakra he was using to root himself in place. Kiba was holding her other arm, having slipped and landed in the mud. Of course, his hound was trying to drag both of them back, but only succeeded in tearing Kiba's jacket.

My hands came together in that familiar seal as a dozen shadow clones appeared beside me, all of us dropping into place by Hatake and Sakura, already trying to pull her free.

As I took hold of my teammate's outstretched arm, I shouted, "NARUTO!" While surging the chakra in my body, pulsing enough of it outward for that blonde knucklehead to feel it over ten miles away.

He appeared next to us in an instant, grabbing Kakashi and keeping him from slipping. "The fuck is that thing?!" He shouted, planting the Samehada in the ground, using it to keep himself(And the rest of us who were holding onto Kakashi) steady as our anchor.

"No idea! Just help me get Sakura free!" Our old sensei called, the panic evident in his voice.

Because despite our efforts, despite the combined strength of multiple Jounin-level shinobi, the creature was still slowly dragging all seventeen of us towards itself, inch-by-inch.

It had been mere moments of struggling when I next noticed how far its tentacles had come, already encompassing both of Sakura's legs and half her torso as she struggled and sqirmed, practically bawling as she screamed, "IT BURRRNS! GET THIS FUCKER OFF MEEEE!"

While this was going on, Itachi had dropped down next to us, a ninjato in-hand as he tried to cut through the shadow-like tentacles.

His blade bounced right off, neatly smacking him right on the nose. The stupid look he had on his face was completely, utterly priceless; so much so that I'd have killed to have a picture of it.

Itachi paused for a moment, the intelligence spinning wildly behind those crimson eyes. Then he looked straight up, his eyes bugging out as he shouted, "MOVE!"

When an Anbu, former or current, tells you to move, you move. Fast.

Naruto grabbed Kakashi, just barely pulling him away as I I dived away from them, grabbing Kiba and Akamaru as I went, sliding to a stop some twelve feet away. That's when I saw what had my brother panicking; it was as if the creature had formed a maw while we were busy, and the tentacles holding Sakura were its tongue. It looked like a wave of shadow that clamped down on Sakura, all the way up to her bubblegum-colored hair.

Had we been a moment later, it would've gotten all of us, clones included. The few that hadn't moved in time dispelled immediately, their chakra absorbed in mere seconds.

But even more worrisome was the fact that the gigantic shadow blob was heading straight for us!

"Fall back! RETREAT!" I heard Itachi shouting again; he'd gotten away in time.

Upon hearing that, I scrambled to my feet, getting ahold of the Inuzuka and his mutt as I followed behind my elder brother's lead, hauling ass away from that thing as fast as our feet would carry us.

~~Badadumdunbum~~

Bada-bang-bang-bang! I'm back! Now to make up for taking so long to write this chapter, I've got a joke for you.

What do you call a knife that writes bad fanfiction? A PAIRing knife!

*Rimshot*

Next update will be for the REwrite, so Resident Evil fans rejoice! Happy days!

References include, but are not limited to: Hot Fuzz, Mass Effect 2, Archer,

~~Badadumdunbum~~