AN: Sorry for the delay, everyone. I'm going to school, finishing up things with the military, and trying to help LOTLOF with his writing. I'll try to update more often. I really want to finish this story.
For The Good Of The Village: Hyuuga Arc
Ch 15 Deal?
The Chuunin Arena fell in a shock wave of smoke and rolling thunder.
At the Konoha Academy
"Direct the civilians into the shelters!"Umino Iruka called out to his group of students in the training grounds. "I know you're not Genin yet, but your village needs you! This is not a test! This is a real life situation! Once you're done, you will accompany them till you receive further orders, got it?"
"Hai!" Chorused his class of potential Genin.
At Root Headquarters
A Root ANBU appeared next to Danzo in his underground study.
"Is it true?" the bandaged faced commander asked with a brush in his hands, scribing a letter with subtle efficiency.
"Hai, Danzo-sama. Code Black."
"Hm," Danzo continued his letter, then signed it at the bottom. "I told the Hokage that the boy needed the right training. This failure will make an interesting chapter in the history books."
The ANBU operative remained stock still at Danzo's side, waiting for further instruction.
"The Hokage has ordered Yamato to the Chuunin Arena."
Danzo gave the barest nods.
When the Root operative didn't move, the old iron hawk inquired any further questions with just a glance of his good eye. "Danzo-sama, this is a code black. What about the others?"
Danzo slowly lowered his brush to give his full attention to his subordinate. "Follow the order to the fullest extent."
After the lengthy glare, the subordinated swallowed hard. "Hai, Danzo-sama."
In the distance, missions were being called off and every available shinobi were rushed back to Konoha.
"Baika no Jutsu!"
Chouji's whole body expanded to twice his normal size, absorbing or deflecting large sprays of rubble and flying projectiles that would have crushed Shikamaru or Ino. Shikamaru kept looking left and right, even stepping away from Chouji's girth to look around him. Ino grabbed him when a particularly nasty looking shard nearly took his head off.
"What the hell do you think you're doing?" Ino screamed, flinching when Chouji grunted, keeping a small landslide of rocks from rolling over them.
"Where is she?" Shikamaru slapped the Yamanaka's hands out of his way. "She's still out there!"
"Who? Hinata? She's with the medics and her team!"
Unable to comprehend where her lazy friend decided to grow a pair at that very moment, she missed him again when he ducked and dashed where Gaara's half formed Jinchuuriki body and Naruto had cleared a channel of destruction.
"He's crazy," Ino grouched in exasperation.
"Crazy? Ino, what would you do if Sasuke was in trouble?" Chouji asked her from the side of his mouth.
Honestly, the thought had never occurred to her. What was worse, was that she wasn't sure she would face two battling demons to save him. If anything, she would have expected him to come save her.
"Why did you stop me from killing him?"
One fiery chakra arm held Gaara upside down in mid air by his leg, leaving his other limbs dangling at odd angles. A good amount of blood dripped in long crimson ribbons down his face. Shallow pants, either in pain or exhaustion seemed to be the limit of Gaara's ability to communicate. Swallowing a few gulps of air, the red headed Suna nin was finally able to answer.
"Your eyes," He shakily lifted a damaged hand towards Naruto, pointing.
"What about them?"
"They're like mine." Gaara voice cracked, eventually coughing and spraying blood.
Growling in annoyance and contempt, he dropped Gaara on the floor, letting him land hard enough to knock the wind out of him. "If you get in my way again, I'll kill you."
Temari and Kankurou escaped the fall of the arena well before anyone else had. Sensing Gaara's transformation, they were prepared to run away immediately. Once the two bijuu had stopped their titanic battle, Temari was the first to ask about Gaara.
"We need to see if he's okay."
"You mean if he's dead." Kankurou didn't seem to eager to check out the dissipating dust where the two Jinchuuriki's had stopped their fighting. "We can only be so lucky."
"He's your brother!" Temari grabbed his shirt and pulled hard, getting in his face.
He, in turn, grabbed hers, "And how many times did he threaten to kill us? Did you forget that?"
Looking away, Temari couldn't deny that Gaara had, on many occasions, reminded them that he would end their lives on a whim if they got in his way. Half-hardheartedly, reluctantly, she whispered beneath her breath, "He's still our brother."
Brother and sister let go of the other's clothes and face where their brother and Naruto had last fought. The silence of the Forest Of Death was unnerving, there was a need to find out the answer to the question they were both asking themselves.
"Did the Hokage know your brother' is a jinchuuriki?" Kankuro and Temari both jumped and turned to face the new arrival. Shikamaru stood over them, lounging against a tree trunk up in the middle branches with both hands in his pockets. Despite the inherent danger in the situation he looked bored.
"No more than your village told us about yours," Temari snapped, slamming the butt end of her fan to the ground. "In case you want to call contra band or any of that other crap, it wasn't Gaara who caused this mess."
Shikamru cocked his head, "He did participate in it, though, he did attack a fellow shinobi unprovoked. I'm sure there'll be some debate as to who did how much damage, but that's neither here nor there." Jumping down, he took on the brunt of Temari's teal eye'd glower.
"What are you doing here?" She snatched his collar to look at a few scratches on the side of his face. They were shallow and superficial, so she spun him around to give him a quick once over. Convinced he wasn't seriously injured, she shoved him away hard enough to fall on his ass. "You should get away from here. It's not safe."
"Actually, that's why I was here," Dusting his shorts, Shikamaru got up on his feet and gave the Suna blonde an appraisal that wasn't as physical as much as it seemed leering. "You look fine, by the way."
"What did you say?" Temari growled. Opening her fan, each of the metal blades slid noisily against the other.
Shikamaru huffed, but not without giving a lazy smirk at her antics. "I mean, you don't look injured either. Just giving you the same courtesy you gave me."
Temari snapped her fan closed and shoved it back into her sheath. "We're wasting time. I need to go check on Gaara."
Shikamaru nodded, "Let's go." He turned to Kankurou and gestured with his head towards the direction of the two battling behemoths. "We'll come back and check on you once we find out how he's doing."
"Hey!" Temari stood nose to nose to Shikamaru, "Are you trying to say I can't protect myself because I'm a woman?"
Shikamaru wasn't fazed by her tone, if anything it made him smile, "See? You are the smart one. Now, if you're good, I'll bring you some flowers and a kiss when I come back." He ducked, knowing full well she was going to try and slug him. "You can thank me later."
With Temari hot on Shikamaru's heels and Kankurou guffawing, the trio went to check on the Jinchuurikis.
Gaara was done, curled into a tree, embracing it like a child onto his mother's leg. Afraid, devastated, broken...
He was smiling. No one had ever brought him this much pain, brought him a sense of mortality, vulnerability. The son of the Kazekage wanted to feel it again, but next time he needed to be better prepared. His loss was proof that he was blind to his weaknesses and his arrogance. It would not happen again, not like this and not so quickly. Had it not been for the distraction of the Hyuuga prodigy, when would he have been able to feel this very real sense of mortality? The moment would have come and gone. Even as he passed the Chuunin exam, he would have been dismissed as nothing. If he was nothing, then what purpose did he have? Even now, Naruto was seeking Neji after being disposed of. Was he not even good enough to be prey to a predator?
Wait...was he now nothing but air, but sand to be annoyed and refused?
No, he would not be those things. He must be...more. He was the predator and predators never feared the prey or other predators. This time, he was simply a lesser predator. He needed to get stronger. He needed to be more cunning. He needed more...
Just more...but how?
What had once been the hub of the Forest Of Death was now rubble. Every shinobi capable brought their best against Naruto as he swatted at every distraction in his way. They were mere gnats to his goals. The biggest obstacle, Gaara, had been removed as the most annoying of the distractions, it was time to get back on track to find the one who hurt his Hinata-chan.
He could smell him, kind of. With his new form, he could smell thousands of different species and recognize everyone, nearly everything. Even now, he could smell that Hinata was with her team mates and three medic nins.
They were fleeing. It just now register how close they were to the fall of the arena.
He and Gaara's fighting could have killed her.
The idea made him flinch. He had to-
"There," Naruto's head shot up, staring to the west where Neji's scent had disappeared. While that left the question as to what happened to him to make his scent, literally, up and vanish, what wasn't hard to figure out was who was with Hinata's attacker before he disappeared.
Naruto didn't have to look up to know who it was. He recognized the voice in all its mocking mirth and splendor.
"Where is he, Anko-sensei?" Naruto growled, his chakra cloak flaring an ugly shade of orange-red. "You were the last person he was around, I can tell."
Anko twirled a kunai in her hand, grinning in a very perverse way that made Naruto, even in his three tailed form, uncomfortable. "You know, the Hokage gave the order for all shinobi to do anything to stop you. I have to tell you, for him to call the order for a code Black is damn scary. I mean, you have the whole fucking village on lock down and put a complete recall on all shinobi missions. This reaching you at all, gaki?"
"Where is he?" Overly large claws of fluctuating energy tore at the ground around him. Chakra as dark as fire and blood blackened the earth.
"I'm going to give him to you, on a silver platter no less." Anko beckoned her fingers to her left. Slithering like behemoth vipers and boas the size of oaks and pines on their sides, three of her pets appeared with foliage moving power. "But you gotta give me a little something as a show of faith, brat. You do whatever you want to him: rip him to pieces, piss on his face, give him a wedgie, whatever. However, before I do that, you've got to break your link to your friend's chakra. Deal?"