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[Naruto] "The Other Side" 03/?

Title: The Other Side (03/?)
Rating: T (AU, Language)
Archived @ Master List
Summary: Sequel to Never Ever. Spending a lifetime in the Sand Village has taught Naruto everything about being ideal shinobi, but upon his return to the Leaf Village, he will learn that there are still far too many things he does not know.


Chapter 03: The First Night


"Haku-san is on a mission already?" Haruno Sakura asked in surprise, swinging her legs from her perch on the bridge.

Kakashi nodded. "We lost a large number of shinobi in the last attack. So even though Haku just became a Chuunin, there is no transition period." His eye wandered over to his where his third student stood, silent and brooding. "It's a big jump from D-level to B-level missions. I'm sure it's something not everyone could do."

Sasuke glowered at his instructor. He never quite warmed up to the older boy even after spending months by his side. It was a quirk of his--holding grudges against anyone who ever attempted to murder him, regardless of the circumstances.

He might also have been smarting from the fact that he himself had not been promoted.

"So...it's just Sasuke-kun and me now?" Sakura asked innocently, clearly pleased with the idea.

Kakashi considered this. "His mission does not have a time line. If he's not back in six months, we may have to split the two of you to separate teams or add another Genin to qualify for the Chuunin Exam."

Sakura looked crestfallen at the idea. Sasuke looked apathetic; his fire burned for another cause.

---


"No."

All eyes turned to the most vital piece of the puzzle.

"You have no idea what the hell you're talking about, you old fart," Naruto said angrily, ignoring the noise of objection from Rock Lee. "The technique I used was taught to me by the Kyuubi himself."

"The Kyuubi is a thousand year old demon," Jiraiya replied. "Its first instinct is always self-preservation. The only reason it's kept you alive all this time is so it could free itself at the first possible opportunity."

"Why would Kazekage-sama command me to do this then?" Naruto challenged.

Jiraiya hesitated before he finally spoke.

"When was the last time you actually spoke with the Kazekage face-to-face?"

"That's none of your concern." Kazekage-sama became very busy in the months leading up to the invasion. "Why?"

"It's possible..." Jiraiya started slowly, "that your Kazekage was 'replaced' even before the Chuunin Exam."

Naruto did not comprehend the full implication of Jiraiya's words until he realized that the Sennin couldn't look him in the eye. Then it hit.

Orochimaru.

He had to reach out for the tree trunk to steady himself.

Jiraiya looked sympathetic.

Don't want your pity, old man.

"Even if that's true, you're forgetting another thing." Naruto raised his voice and enunciated: "What if I don't want the Kyuubi back in my body?"

Any trace of compassion disappeared from Jiraiya's face.

"You can't force me to help you."

He was behaving childishly and he knew it, but after being tossed around, traded, and handled like some highly coveted prize, he was determined to have some control over his life.

Jiraiya did not reply immediately and Naruto's glare did not lessen in its intensity; Haku and Lee eyed each other, wisely keeping out of the exchange. For a moment, it seemed as if they had hit a standstill--Jiraiya was the one who broke the silence.

"You're very close to Sabaku no Gaara," the old man said quietly. "Can you truly ease his pain if you do not understand it?"

Bile rose in Naruto's throat.

"Fuck you, old man."

---


"Lee has a mission already?" Tenten cried, clapping her hands excitedly.

"Yes, Lee-kun has come of age!!" Tears of manly joy streamed down the face of Maito Gai as he clutched at the scroll announcing his protégé’s first, first ever, assignment. Then, turning to the silent student sitting in the corner: "Neji! Show some enthusiasm for your teammate!"

Neji shook his head disapprovingly at his sensei's unbridled display of emotion and looked to the lonesome tree stump Lee usually occupied.

Though he would never show it, Neji was...confused. He had never lost to Lee in a match before, yet Lee became a Chuunin despite the fact that neither of them defeated their opponent in the Third Exam.

It was an unpleasant and unfamiliar emotion and the thought of analyzing it made him want to tighten his already-crossed arms. Nevertheless...

He’ll come back alive.

If there was one thing Neji could be certain about, it was that he had not spent years training beside a weakling.

---


They pressed on to the Northeastern border of the Fire Country with Jiraiya in the lead and Naruto sulking in the rear. Even though Naruto had been rude to the legendary Sannin, even though he had been part of the invasion that nearly destroyed his home, even though he was the cause of the mission at hand, Lee couldn't bring himself to feel anything truly negative toward Uzumaki Naruto.

Naruto-kun had been right. Being the vessel of the Kyuubi no Kitsune--a fact Lee was still coming to terms with--meant the mission would not have a chance at success if he did not play his role.

Yet they continued on, after Jiraiya-sama brought Sabaku no Gaara into the equation.

...only after Jiraiya-sama brought Sabaku no Gaara into the equation.

He did not understand.

Later, Lee would know for certain that he could never understand, because he was not a Jinchuuriki.

---


They finally came to a stop at a small inn within view of the border between the Fire Country and the Hidden Sound Village. They all entered at different times, each obtaining a different room under a false name.

It's just a find-and-retrieve mission, Naruto thought, scowling, as he secured the parameters of his rustic little hotel room. We're going way overboard with the security.

"Yo."

Instinctively, Naruto flicked a well-aimed kunai toward the window, which his intruder caught by the handle with the tip mere millimeters from his nose.

"Oh, my bad," he said with little indication of remorse. "I thought I smelled a pervert."

Jiraiya did not look amused.

"I shouldn't have been able to enter this easily."

"There's no enemy," Naruto snapped. It was unfair that he had to sleep outdoors whenever they wandered too far from home during Genin missions in order to cut trivial costs, and here, they needed four rooms for four people on a scouting expedition.

"There's always an enemy," Jiraiya returned, the weariness in his eyes telling a story Naruto didn't want to hear.

"Your enemy, not mine."

The Sennin sighed. "Just listen." Naruto tilted his chin up defiantly. "When the Kyuubi escaped your body, it left a small amount of its own chakra behind as a safeguard in case, for any reason, you decided to hunt it down. You probably wouldn't have, under normal circumstances, but the Kyuubi did not become the most powerful tailed beast through carelessness."

He waited. When there was no response, Jiraiya continued.

"Splitting into two was probably not part of its plan, and as of now, we're not sure why it did. Most likely, it will search for a safe location where the two halves can rejoin into one, and then it will come after you and take back what it left behind. Until then, it will flee from you lest you try to take it in its weakened state. I've tracked them to this location, but the rest is up to you. By accessing what remains of the Kyuubi's chakra, you should be able to...detect it somehow.

To take the Kyuubi back, you 'touch' it while expelling its chakra within you into the physical incarnation. The contact will create a vacumn and the power of the seal will forcibly draw the Kyuubi back into your body."

Naruto's expression remained stone blank; he wondered if it unnerved the 'living legend'. The Sennin looked as if there was something else on his mind, but decided last moment against voicing it.

"We won't stop to rest after tonight," Jiraiya said, stepping back out the window. "Not until we've caught at least one of them."

"Wait, wait." The old man turned back. "We all got separate rooms so we could rest?"

Jiraiya gave Naruto a look he could not interpret.

"No."

---


It was a silent night in the village of Konoha. A full moon graced the sky, shining over a rooftop pavilion occupied by two men.

"Your student was sent on that crazy mission too, Kakashi?"

Gai regarded his rival solemnly, all traces of his previous mirth replaced with dead seriousness.

"Mmhmm...it should be a good learning experience." Kakashi glanced at the other man. "Unless you're just afraid your student won't come back alive."

"Of course not!" The force of his declaration was almost comical. "I have faith in Lee wherever he goes!! It's just...that boy he's with."

Gai averted his eyes, hands tightening around the scroll.

"Uzumaki Naruto, huh?" Kakashi exhaled as he turned his gaze toward the heavens. "I remember that kid."

T . B . C

Comments

( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
niccy07
Mar. 22nd, 2008 12:23 am (UTC)
YAH! You updated! I have to say, I was very suprised about the direction you took the story. It honestly feels like a story from the cannon, with the characters dealing with personal problems, while trying to complete a mission.

Still, I love the idea of the Kiyubi actuall escaping Naruto. I have to say, Jiraiya brining up Gaara was a low blow though. Still, it makes sense considering who he is. I really hope this means your still planning to continue this fic? *puppy eyes* I only found the update by accident *lol* your links been sitting in my favorites files since last year. Anyway, I just want you to know that this fic has some amazing writing. I can see your talent not only in characterization,but also in storytelling.
niccy07
Mar. 22nd, 2008 12:27 am (UTC)
sorry, just to note, I also love the relationship he has with the Sand Siblings, especially Gaara. The brotherly bonds between them is wonderful and I was sad to see them seperated.
prada_g
Mar. 23rd, 2008 05:12 am (UTC)
Ooh, thank you!! To be honest, I had no idea how it would go when I first started the sequel--which is why it took (takes) me so long to update. I am definitely continuing on, but it comes in trickles or surges, so I can't say when for sure. ^^;

Thank you again for your compliments! Characterization is something I always try to be careful with (which basically means I play out a lot of 'what if' scenarios in my head) so when someone notices, it makes me silly-happy. XD
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )