Teamwork 3

Thanks to Fateofshadows, Foxfire, acts-of-tekla, Trishalynn, Lady Aquill, and Muryx for the help with beta-type things. u.u Every other problem left is entirely my fault and if you find more stuff in real need of correction or clarification, I'll be glad to hear it.

Chapter 8


He's mine you have no right, let him go, why isn't he moving. Red head lolling, arms limp. Dead -- no he can't be no no no.

Blue man smirking, predator challenge like he's saying look at my see-saw teeth I could eat him, I will eat him and you can't stop me.

Hate. Kill.


One moment she was sitting with her back to the small campfire, listening to two thirteen-year-olds whispering to each other, and rubbing her bare arms discreetly to ward off the creeping cold.

The next second, a tendril of liquid fire was making its way through her inner coils.

Sakura lost a second to surprise and dread. It might have simply been Naruto drawing close, bringing his chakra closer -- but it didn't feel that way. Stiffening, she prayed for the brunette girl and the boy with glasses not to notice a thing, as she wrestled that spark of demon chakra to her arms, away from her belly. Her nails had stayed long and pointed -- they would until she could trim them, she couldn't make them go away like Naruto did -- but now she could feel the tips curving into vicious hooks where they pressed against her forearms.

She was in the middle of converting it to more normal chakra, chakra she could allow to radiate through her body, when another surge hit her.

Not just Naruto coming closer -- the rise would have been smoother. He was drawing on Kyuubi's chakra again. Had the fox-demon taken over again? She bit her lip. She needed to go and check -- what if he was fighting Sasuke? Kyuubi would be angry enough to do real damage. But the kids...

... weren't whispering to each other anymore. Head whipping around, she expected to find them staring at her, having noticed... she didn't know. Something. She found them slumped against each other, eyes closed. Asleep.

'They must be very tired', she thought, a little sad, tired too; and then she saw the pinched look on the little redhead's face slowly smooth out into deeper, peaceful sleep, and she understood.


"KAI!" Sakura jumped on her feet, eyes wide open, hands locked in a dispelling seal.

He was standing right there in the open, still and patient as if he'd been there for the past ten minutes or even ten hours and would still be here in another ten. She spared a thought to be horrified that maybe he had been there that long, and she hadn't noticed.

Black cloak, red clouds.

That achingly familiar face.

They weren't identical. Sasuke's face wasn't quite as long, a little more triangular than it was oval. Sasuke's hair was thicker, wilder. His eyes had never been that cold, that... remote. Empty.

It was a strange thing to notice, but the thought came anyway -- even devoid of any care, any humanity, Itachi's eyes were more beautiful than Sasuke's.

And this was just about the stupidest mistake she could have made. Either he didn't want to lock her into a genjutsu, or she was already inside it and hadn't noticed. She grabbed those tendrils of demon fire blindly, not even trying to control them, and pulled for all she was worth. She needed more, she didn't have enough. She needed the unbridled chaos of it to shake loose any genjutsu he might have laid onto her.

"Ah." He inclined his head, thoughtful. "We had wondered where the echo came from."

The chakra. The demon chakra.

She was using something Akatsuki wanted for themselves. She felt the blood drain from her face.

This was a nightmare. Alone against Uchiha Itachi, who had killed so many. A whole clan. (he'd killed her baby's grandparents.) A whole clan with the same abilities as Sasuke's.

A whole family. (her parents dead on the ground, Yukihiro the wise and Hana the mama bear -- oh, so that was how it felt.)

What could she do? Run? He'd get her from behind. Attack? She couldn't even hold her own against his little brother. He'd see through any genjutsu she could put up to cover her movements. If she called for Sasuke he'd fight and lose (he'd get killed). But without support she wasn't going to survive. Fuck, fuck, fuck.

She couldn't make a plan, she couldn't think. It burned in her belly, in her head. What could she do? Nothing would work, nothing --

The demon chakra stopped welling up for a heart-stopping second.

Something was happening to Naruto.

(he was going to kill Naruto too.)

Red chakra rushed back, exploded through her coils again. Sakura grabbed it and pulled out more, already running. Snarling.

She was so angry.

Angry and afraid and grieving. She needed him dead to make sure none of it would happen again. Not to her own.

Uchiha Itachi watched her come at him, unmoving. She hated his frozen face, empty eyes, not like Sasuke at all.

He threw a handful of kunai to stop her momentum. She lashed out without thought. Claws of demon fire slashed through metal (it hurt it hurt oh god her hand), scythed out, flying at him so fast. He dodged; the bottom edge of his cloak didn't, shredded to tatters. Her sight was shifting into weird vivid colors once again. So angry; she'd never hated anyone as much, never to the point of wanting them dead -- but now she did.

I get it now, Sasuke.

She slashed another set of fire claws his way, crouched low to the ground, watched him dodge. The attack was fast, better than any she had on her own. It burned up her coils and her hand was already blistering, but she'd care about that later.

She wanted to just pounce, wanted to tackle him to the ground and then tear into him -- knees, elbows, claws, headbutts and her teeth, all the same, a flurry of pummeling hits. She held herself back somehow, balanced on the knife's edge of rage and determination. But she wanted, wanted, wanted --

But she needed to get him in the air where he couldn't dodge.

She threw herself forward to avoid another handful of kunai, landed in a roll, leg extended, scything through the air.

Her heel hit the ground and released every drop of chakra she'd gathered there, shattering bedrock and throwing a huge cloud of eye-stinging dust in the air. She was yanking more chakra through the pipeline before she was even back in a proper crouch.

Slash, three arcs of liquid fire. Throwing herself forward in their wake.

She raced past the claws as they hit Itachi's body, and she kept running away, as fast as she could, hurtling herself from boulder to piled-up rubble to felled tree. When she heard the familiar noise of a clone exploding behind her, she wasn't even surprised. Of course he'd send a clone, of course she hadn't hit him, she'd been right not to let the rage take her and pounce. She clenched her teeth on a scream of frustration, even though she was sure he didn't need noise to pinpoint her.

There was nothing else to do but run away -- dodge at random and wait for him to get her from behind. At least he had no reason to double back and go for the three kids; unconscious as they were, they were no threat to him. They were safe. But for her it was different, and any second now he would -- any second --

"Sakura, DOWN!"

As she threw herself face down on the ground, she couldn't help the total bafflement that came from realizing Sasuke had been warning her away from something huge and blue -- not something brother-shaped at all.

Where was Itachi?


Sakura's arms were covered in ugly red blisters, cracked skin seeping blood. Even making a fist must have been painful. There was no time to coddle her; Sasuke grabbed the back of her shirt and pulled her on her feet, pivoting to stand at her back before she was even done getting her footing.

Naruto howled out in rage and went flying at the Akatsuki again. Sasuke already knew how the attack would go -- a swipe of that huge, toothed sword, Naruto falling as his chakra ran out with the part of his body that had been hit like shredded meat, then another red-gold explosion and another crazy charge before flesh was even done sizzling closed.

It made Sasuke feel sick, no matter how fast he healed.

He'd been watching for an opening to get Gaara away from Kisame, which would leave Naruto free to go all-out, but Kisame... He was good, Sasuke reluctantly acknowledged. No opening to be found yet. Even wielding his sword one-handed against Naruto, the man was still smirking, almost indulgent, amused.

"Report," he gritted out.

Even without looking her way, he could feel Sakura bracing herself.

"Uchiha Itachi is here," she said, abrupt.


... He'd known that. He had. The second he saw Hoshigaki Kisame he had known his brother would be there as well.

Hearing the words, though --

"We need to get Gaara back," Sakura said.

Sasuke shook his head. We? Gaara? He laughed, a dry little laugh that wasn't amused at all. Like they could worry about saving Gaara -- they had to save themselves first.

Itachi was here.

"Three to one and a hostage," she said, fast, clipped. "I don't know what he's doing but he'll come soon and we need to be four against two -- Sasuke-kun, focus!"

A harsh elbow in his ribs made him stiffen, more out of outrage than pain. He hissed between his clenched teeth, scanned the area Sakura had come hurtling from once again. His sharingan saw nothing, of course, not even the telltale off-colored blur of a genjutsu.

Naruto hurtled past again; Sakura took in a shuddering breath. The stifled pain in her voice -- Sasuke shook his head.

Sakura. Naruto.

His brother.

"It's a trap, we can't afford not to pay attention to--"

"We can't afford to just stay put and wait, we're not going to see it coming either way!"

... Shit. She was right. He hated it, but she was right. When Itachi -- when he showed up, Sasuke would attack, but in the meantime -- from the corner of his eye he watched Naruto fall again, belly like mincemeat. Kisame chuckled derisively.

His brother.

His teammates.

Snarling out his frustration, Sasuke turned on his heel, pulled out his last length of wire from his pocket, unspooled an arms' length of braided steel with his teeth..

"He uses water. Sword steals chakra. Can't close in or use jutsu."

He threaded the wire through a shuriken.

"Break the ground," he ordered. "Charge."

Sending Sakura in arm's reach -- he hated it. Her taijutsu just plain wasn't --

'Pretend I'm Naruto.'

With the way Kisame moved, he needed the sharingan to aim and that was it.

Pale with fatigue, she didn't say a word, didn't question him. Started to run. The chakra on her fist was demon-orange and unstable, lashing her with little licks of fire. Sasuke snarled. Even gluing his eyes to Kisame's every movement couldn't stop his sharingan seeing it.

Now Naruto was slowing down, blind rage dimmed for a kind of calculating predatory awareness -- feinting, low to the ground, right-left-pounce. The kind of testing feint a dog would do, the kind Kisame didn't buy for a minute.

Kept his attention just long enough that he was barely starting to glance over his shoulder when Sakura's fist hit the ground. Sasuke was already in the air, seeing the way the ground would break before it did, seeing the way Kisame would stumble -- just barely, before he righted himself.

He dodged the kunai Sasuke had sent flying with some fancy footwork, letting it thunk harmlessly in the ground.

When he landed his ankle brushed against the wire.

Sasuke let the Chidori flow down braided metal.

"Now!" he screamed, already charging after his teammates. Kisame had fallen on a knee, the hand he'd left on Gaara's back all along grabbing blindly for the sword. Sakura darted in from the back, claws snagging Gaara's collar and pulling.

The limp body was still in the middle of slipping off his shoulder when Kisame whirled on the spot, sword slashing with his momentum parallel to the ground, coming like a meteor at Sakura's middle.

Sasuke was too far.

Naruto wasn't. He landed on Kisame's back like a ton of bricks, all claws out, howling. Sasuke darted in, snatched Sakura's collar and yanked her and the unconscious body she was holding backward. He grabbed one of Gaara's arms and they both ran toward a nearby rock they could use as cover.

Gaara's arm felt weird under his hand, damp and grainy. Sasuke left it to Sakura to figure out; he dumped the unconscious ninja at the foot of the rock and turned to put his back to it. It wouldn't stop attacks from above or the front, but that was still something, one side he didn't need to watch.

His brother was still nowhere to be seen. The attack hadn't taken very long, fifteen seconds maybe -- but even then ...

Naruto and Kisame were still fighting -- more of a brawl than anything else; Naruto was under his guard now and clearly intended to stay there, slashing and doing his best to clamp his jaws on anything with accessible veins. Kisame punched hard, though; Sasuke watched Naruto's head snap to the side, and then a kick caught him under the ribs, sending him flying back in their direction. He rolled on the ground before landing back in a crouch, snarling. Sasuke didn't think he'd stopped at any point.

Someone was coughing behind him; wet, raw sounds, like he'd drowned at some point. Sasuke glanced back briefly, watched Sakura help Gaara sit.

"Can you fight?" he asked, over Sakura's "are you alright".

"Drained..." Gaara wiped damp sand off his arm, expression blank, not quite awake yet. "Can't move it wet. Too heavy."

Sasuke briefly considered scorching the sand armor dry. At this range the heat would probably do Gaara in.

"I'm going," he said, and took a couple steps away from their shelter. Sakura needed to rest and fix Gaara enough so he'd be useful, and he needed to help Naruto get rid of this guy before Itachi got bored and decided to intervene.

Itachi would probably intervene if his partner was about to get killed, actually.

It worked for Sasuke.

Behind him the ground trembled as Sakura punched rocks into dust for Gaara to use. He kept walking, until he was standing with Naruto.

"Hey, dumbass. You need to wake up now."

Naruto's long snarl was briefly interrupted by an irritated snort. Sasuke's lips twitched.

Heh. Maybe it would even work.

Beside him, Naruto raked his claws on the ground, eyes narrowed as he watched for an opening. Sasuke nodded faintly. If Naruto was aware of his actions then they could fight together, and together they weren't going to be so easily held off. Kisame seemed aware of it; he was bringing his sword in a blocking position, smug smirk replaced by a vaguely put-upon expression. His cloak was scorched and he was bleeding from quite a few bite and claw marks, though none of them looked deep enough to be debilitating.

Sasuke nodded slowly. An idea was taking form. "If you get him to let go of the sword..."

"Kisame," said a low, almost-soft voice at his back.

A block of ice had replaced Sasuke's entrails. He didn't remember turning, but there he was, facing the rock.

Sakura was leaning on one knee, green-gloved hands on Gaara's back, Gaara's head hanging low with exhaustion as he gathered sand to him, tendril after thin tendril.

On top of the rock his brother stood, gazing at the battlefield. Their eyes met.

Sasuke couldn't breathe through the rage and the --

Rage. Just rage, just hate, and outrage, how dare he show his face -- how dare he!

"We're running out of time," his brother said dispassionately, eyes gliding away from his as if he weren't worth stopping for, as if he'd been weighed and found not worth the bother. Sasuke's hands started shaking.

Not again, he wasn't going to be dismissed again, never again.

"We'll have to make do with only one tailed beast today."

Ignoring Kisame's halfhearted grumbling protest and Naruto's snarled "Like fuck!", Itachi tilted his head, looked down at Gaara. Sakura jerked into movement, snatched the redhead's arm and threw herself backward. She stumbled, landed on her ass, still dragging Gaara along, and he wanted to yell at her to let him go, damn it, just run out of range but there were too many other words already in his throat and none of them were addressed to her.

Gaara did it for her, sweeping her aside with his arm, and for that a small part of Sasuke thought he would try to keep him alive, if he could, but he knew he wasn't going to be able to spare the attention.

"Yes, yes," said Kisame behind him, even as rocks shifted under his feet. "We can't allow the girl to keep taking chakra from the tailed beast either."

He sounded... patient, a little amused as he gave his own reminder.

Sakura was still sitting where Gaara had knocked her aside, pale with blood and chakra loss, pink hair in disarray, head tilted up to stare at Itachi.

"That is true," Itachi said quietly, and dived for her, katana first.

There was no thought. (fathermotherauntieSAKURA)

It didn't even hurt when the sword dug into his back. It was just cold. He twisted to the side. If it was deep enough (he couldn't tell) he might manage to tear it out of Itachi's hand, counterattack.

He failed. The blade went out. Blood trailed warm tracks down his side. He shifted higher up Sakura's body, so his upper chest would catch headshots, so if his brother went for Sasuke's heart then Sakura's belly would--

"The child," Itachi said behind him -- slow, like a revelation.

Sasuke couldn't breathe.

"The rumors were wrong. It isn't Naruto-kun's. It's yours."

Under him Sakura was struggling to push him off. She wasn't going to manage, he was never going to move, he was going to die here, he wasn't going to move.

"Let go, let go," she was saying in between two dry sobs. He couldn't see her face.

He waited for another strike but instead, "Sasuke," said his brother's voice, and then the ground exploded.

No more ground under them. Reflex -- he tried to twist, to control their fall.

It was like being stabbed again. Except this time around it hurt. Things went dark for... a second, maybe two. No more, right? He couldn't afford more. He clawed his way back to consciousness, but the ground -- on the ground again? Hadn't felt the impact. Not a bad thing.

Ground was moving. Bad thing.

Sakura was trying to squirm free. No.

"No," he said. His voice was weak. Strange.

"Stop moving, Uchiha," snapped a strained voice. He didn't recognize it right away.

Wasn't his brother. Wasn't Naruto. Wasn't Kisame. Didn't leave much choice.

"Sasuke-kun, we're safe, let go. We're safe."

He didn't believe her, but he was on his side and that wasn't going to protect her. He rolled -- oh fuck, his back, it was bleeding. Sakura screeched something under him but he didn't listen until he was shielding her again, and then there was a man's hand on the back of his neck to hold him in place. He opened his eyes on reflex, ready to fight. Try to.

He could see the ground over Sakura's shoulder, but it was very far down.

"...Why is there a valley there?" he asked. He was sure they'd been nowhere near close to one.

Wasn't really a valley. Just... a hollow shaped like a half-sphere, perfectly smooth, like the inside of a big bowl. Maybe fifty steps across. It had chewed up a corner of the riverbed, and little rivulets were making their way down. Soon there would be a perfectly circular pond.

Neither Sakura nor Gaara had to answer, because then Naruto did it again.

It was huge, the biggest Rasengan Naruto had ever made by far. It was red, and it didn't swirl so much like a ball twirled on a fingertip as like the eye of a storm. It hit the ground between Itachi and Kisame and the shockwave made whatever Sasuke and the other two rested on wobble. Gaara winced, tugging on their clothes to bring them closer.

Sasuke saw the edge of his sand platform fraying under the effort, and went without protesting, until he was pressed against the redhead's legs. He shoved Sakura straight onto his lap, because Gaara would be the last thing Gaara's sand allowed to fall, wasn't it?

The Akatsuki pair had dodged, again, but the shockwave had caught them too, flinging them backward. Itachi flipped in midair, landed on the first, growing pond. Kisame --

Held his sword in front of his face, and even if he was thrown back as well, the shockwave lost strength toward him and then he was charging again, well before Naruto had managed to reload.

Sasuke tried to jump, but Sakura was the one who wouldn't let him go now, and when he struggled Gaara's sand wrapped around his arms and pulled him back down. They were all yelling at each other but he couldn't even hear himself, he was deaf from the explosion. Naruto would be deaf to his warnings too.

When he looked down again Naruto was kneeling at the bottom of the second bowl, Kisame standing right behind him, the edge of Kisame's sword pressed under his chin.


No, stupid bastard, run, Sasuke would give them Gaara instead if they wanted a demon bearer -- he'd give them Gaara instead and then he'd beat up Naruto for allowing this, for letting himself be taken to keep them safe, he'd -- no, no, no.

Dust swirled amongst the massive clouds the Kyuubi-powered Rasengan had lifted. Itachi, Sasuke thought with despair.

Instead three dogs burst out, maws wide open.

Sasuke stopped moving, watched, vaguely aware his mouth was open, as the dogs went low, snapping at Kisame's ankles. And then stone burst open behind the man as he stumbled, someone surging out and stabbing straight for his unprotected back with lightning in his hand.

Kisame stumbled forward, tripped by Naruto's kneeling body, did an odd little jump to catch himself into a crouch. Naruto slumped to the ground like a felled tree.

Kakashi charged again, his dogs with him in perfect synch. Water rose from the river to blast them away.

Another man burst out of the dust, and then a second and a third on his heels, and none of them was wearing black and red.

Sasuke's view was blurring. He squinted. Wasn't safe yet. He had to watch, know what was going on down there. He closed his eyes for barely one second and when he opened them again Kisame was bleeding from another three wounds on top of Kakashi's shoulder hit.

He saw his brother look up at the three of them for a fraction of second as he swept through the group and caught his stumbling teammate, but before Sasuke could make sense of that look, Itachi had exploded into crows and disappeared along with his partner.

Sakura's hand was gripping his wrist so hard Sasuke couldn't feel it anymore.

He watched jounin and ANBU of a half-dozen villages gather around the twin bowls as they scanned the area with a sense of complete surreality. Kakashi's dogs were sniffing around, and even from up there he could tell they were grumpy from losing the track. It couldn't be over, could it? It was never over, not with his brother.

He was so exhausted he didn't realize right away he wasn't simply passing out when the world swayed under him; and then they were falling from the sky.

He thought absently that it was really kind of high, especially with a big hole in the ground right underneath. Stupid Naruto.

"Oof. You're a bony little fuck, aren't you."

Some woman he didn't know had caught him in mid-air. The way they'd landed, Sasuke's elbow was digging in her ribs. Whatever. Wasn't his brother or Kisame. Wasn't his teammates. He didn't give a damn.


"They all need a medic! What's yours got?"

Someone tapped his shoulder. Sasuke cracked an eye open to glare at the jounin, who snorted in amusement. She didn't top Morino Ibiki from Konoha's Interrogation Division about facial scars, but she seemed to be gearing up to the attempt. Sasuke halfheartedly considered giving her another one if she didn't let him rest.

Too much effort. "Stab wound. Back."

Someone else was leaning over him, with an Earth Country ANBU mask and green-glowing hands. The green seeped down into him, cooling the pain until he could barely feel it. "Uh huh. What else?"

He considered it. "... Dunno. Tired." He was sure he'd feel it later. Wasn't like Sakura's burned hands or Naruto's -- whatever he'd done to himself. That idiot.

"Yeah, that stab wound is really neat, I should have it closed in no time." It was? He'd moved around. He'd expected worse. "You should just try to sleep in the meantiHEY."

The ANBU medic grabbed his shoulder to push him back down on his side. Sasuke slapped his hand away and scanned the area. Kakashi -- ahh. Standing over Naruto. Naruto was moving -- slowly, but moving. Sakura...

She was close by. She'd apparently fallen closer to Gaara than he had, because the same person had to catch them both and now they were barely an arm's length apart. Someone was fixing her hands, clucking something about the bones. Sasuke rolled on hands and knees, grunting a little when his wound gave a little spurt of fresh blood. Sakura was the closest so that was where he went.

"... Hey."

His throat felt raw. He must have been screaming. He didn't really remember hearing himself.

For a few very long seconds Sakura stared at him, through him. She tugged a hand free from the medic and for a moment Sasuke was sure she was going to slap him.

Her hand caught his shirt instead and tugged. He went, crawling a step closer, two, and then sitting next to her.

"What the hell were you thinking," she whispered, staring ahead into nothing. Sasuke stared that way too, because why not. "He could have killed you. I don't understand how he didn't kill you."

"Mmh," said Sasuke, because there was nothing else to say.

Naruto was stumbling his way to them, punch-drunk, snarling at everyone who tried to get in the middle. He slumped on his knees in front of them, demon-red eyes traveling from Sasuke's face to Sakura's to Gaara's.

He only had two hands, so he grabbed Sasuke and Gaara's unconscious body and did his best to pull everyone into his lap. Or maybe crawl on theirs. It was hard to tell. Sasuke briefly passed out when Naruto's hand pressed too close to his wound; when he opened his eyes again he was slumped on Naruto's shoulder, so he didn't bother to move.

Sakura was curled up right next to him, bent over Gaara's upper body on Naruto's lap so she could tuck her head under Naruto's chin. Looked uncomfortable. Naruto was murmuring something in Sasuke's hair, he wasn't sure what.


Sasuke grunted halfheartedly in answer to Kakashi's voice. He opened an eye to look over Naruto's shoulder, and Kakashi was there, sitting in a crouch and looking all... cautious. Subdued.

"You're going to have to stop the human ball attempt if you want to be healed."

Naruto growled, a sound more animal than human. No need to clarify that, so Sasuke closed his eyes again. He could feel Sakura move against his side, reluctant. Naruto didn't want to let her go.

"Look at my hands, Naruto. I need the healer, okay? ... Sasuke and Gaara probably do as well."

Sasuke snorted, eyes still closed. Just a little stab wound. He didn't need anything.

Someone moved closer. "Your teammate is right. The Kazekage--"

"I'll kill you," Naruto rasped out. Movement stopped.

Sasuke opened his eyes, met Sakura's. Sighed. Sakura's hands were a burned ruin, so he lifted his own to poke Naruto's chest for her.

"Shut up, stupid."

"They've got to evacuate us," Sakura said. "They can't if -- you have to let go. Okay?"

Stubborn, Naruto didn't move.

"Naruto, it really hurts," she whispered, almost like she was ashamed of her weakness. Naruto made a whimpery sound like a kicked puppy and his arm fell from her shoulder.

Sakura unfolded slowly, staring at his face. Naruto stared back. Sasuke watched them, half-conscious and trying to think of nothing.

He didn't want to think of anything, because otherwise he'd start thinking about his brother and how once again he wasn't worth killing.

How he'd been so weak, how little he had grown, that the only way he was useful was as a meat shield. How he'd been pulled to safety while Naruto fought for them. How Itachi...

"Sasuke?" Kakashi's quiet voice called. "Open your eyes for the medic, Sasuke. Any spinal trauma?"

A muscle in his jaw twitched. "No. ... No trauma."

"Alright. Naruto, help me put him down on the stretcher, and then you can go to your own stretcher."

A growl.

"This is not open for discussion, Naruto."

Another growl, more like a grumble, and hands tilted him down onto rough cloth.

"The kids," Sakura said suddenly. "The kids. That way. Three kids. One of them was..."

Her voice faltered.

"Hurt," she finished, voice quiet. "Impaled. Pretty bad."

Sasuke felt blindly for Naruto with his hand. He wasn't in arm's range anymore, so Sasuke kicked out.

"-- Ow."

"Lie down on your fucking stretcher. Sakura too. If I have to..."

Fuck but he just wanted to sleep. He could feel it coming, inescapable darkness, gently, stubbornly pulling him down.

... He was forgetting something. What was he forgetting?

Oh, that he never wanted to see this fucking island in his life ever again.

"Wait," he said, and grabbed for Kakashi's jacket. Kakashi allowed it, watching him with an eyebrow arched, and allowed Sasuke to nudge him back a second later as well. "Okay... Hey, scar-face."

The woman who'd caught him in midair was still nearby. She snorted, came and leaned over him. "Yep?"

Sasuke squinted up. "Jounin-sensei?"


He reached out -- his hand weighed a ton.

"...Lemme guess," she said, staring at the hand on her breast. "You want me to put you out of your misery."

Sasuke snorted. Like he could aim, with his eyesight fuzzy as shit and the blood loss. He let his hand slide down the green jacket. It was so thick he bet she hadn't felt anything anyway.

His hand fell back on his own chest. The eighth and ninth tokens gleamed copper-bright between his fingers.

There, now they had enough of the bastards that the whole thing wouldn't be a complete waste. " 'Kay. Now get us out."

He passed out before he could tell whether or not they'd obeyed.

[Chapter 7] [Chapter 9]


I am so sorry for ruining the serious mood. SO sorry. (except, you know, not really. This fic's been emo for WAY too long now. :p Things will look up soon!)


"The child," Itachi said behind him -- slowly, like a revelation. "The rumors were wrong. It isn't Naruto-kun's. It's yours."
Sasuke froze.
"I admit I'm surprised," said Itachi. "I had the notion you were gay."


Sasuke: ITACHI! >:O
Itachi: Foolish little brother, you are still pitifully weak even at this age -- what? you shacked up with two people? D: OMG YOU HAVE TO TELL ME EVERYTHING.
Sasuke: DX what is wrong with youuu.
Itachi: You know, I don't think dad would have approved. ./_\.
Itachi: You always pull that card to change the conversation. ::sigh:: Tell me, at least, are you happy?
Sasuke: Less by the minute. DX