When Sasuke left the Hidden Sound village, he took five things with him: the clothes on his back, some money, a vastly increased knowledge of forbidden jutsus and attacks, a general distrust of humanity, and a katana.
When he left the Hidden Leaf village for the second time, he took three things: the clothes on his back, a general distrust of humanity with a few growing exceptions, and a katana.
The katana had been a gift from Orochimaru. Sasuke kept it hidden, even after six weeks of living at Kakashi's. He knew the man wouldn't ask for an explanation; obviously, it was a good sword, well-balanced, not so new as to be untested, and Sasuke managed to keep it sharp. But he would still know, where and who it came from.
Moving it had been most of the trouble, since hiding a change of clothes in the bathroom was simple. The morning of the day he left, Sasuke stashed those into a corner of the cabinet, behind the out-of-date bathroom cleaners, when he went to wash up for the day. That evening while Kakashi was out buying coffee (Sasuke had been careful about throwing the beans away and doubted the man had noticed that the can was unreasonably lower than it had been three days ago), he wedged the katana in as well and hoped Kakashi wouldn't get the urge to clean anything in the next few hours.
That night, Sasuke got up after he was almost sure Kakashi was sleeping, walked to the bathroom, dressed while the toilet was flushing to cover any noise, strapped the katana to his back while the faucet was running, and then turned off the water and teleported two kilometers to the northwest of Konoha's walls.
He could have gone closer to Orochimaru's location, but Sasuke wanted time to think while moving.
He regretted that decision several minutes later, when he realized that someone was following him and rapidly getting closer.
If it were anyone else, Sasuke would have assumed that a tracking device had been placed on him without his noticing. Naruto's ability to hunt him down no matter where he was was unnerving.
He kept moving forward, glaring into the darkness. It was a quarter moon, and the faint light was mostly blocked by the overhead branches.
When Naruto was only a dozen meters behind him--so fast, he thought absently, how can he even keep traction at that speed?--Sasuke leapt from a branch to the ground. Then he stopped and drew the katana from its sheath. He didn't turn around until he heard the grass crunch beneath Naruto's feet behind him.
He brought the sword up as he turned, torso-level and perpendicular to himself, in a basic blocking position. Naruto ignored it and gave him a look that Sasuke assumed, were the light willing, was meant to make him shrivel up and die where he stood.
Sasuke was better at those looks than Naruto, but he kept his own features blank save for a trace of irritation at being slowed down.
"They'll kill you if you're found out here alone," Naruto finally said.
"I know that," Sasuke replied flatly.
"It wasn't a problem until you decided to show up--you're the one with the anbu guarding you night and day."
"They won't be here for a while. I can run faster than them." Naruto paused, then added, "There's still enough time to go back, and they won't notice."
"I'm not going back."
"Why not, huh? If you wanna die, I'll kick your ass to hell for you."
"Orochimaru is out here."
There was a brief silence. Then Naruto nodded and walked closer. Sasuke's grip tightened on the hilt.
"You know, at first a lot of people said you were here as a spy," Naruto told him. "Me and Sakura-chan kept arguing with them until the hag finally said Orochimaru enough of an idiot to send you back here if he needed a spy."
"Get to the point, dumbass."
Naruto was staring right at his eyes. "I don't think you're a spy. So what I wanna know, is why the fuck did you come back with me," he asked, folding his hands and stretching his arms in front of him, popping the knuckles, "if you were going to do this to us?"
When he didn't reply, Naruto flexed his hands and growled. "Asshole. Saying he's out there, talking about going back like--"
Sasuke interrupted in a voice glazed with condescension. "I'm going to kill him. Now go the hell away before the anbu catch up to you," he said. "You're wasting my time."
That shut Naruto up.
But only for a few seconds. "Do you think you can?"
Sasuke snorted, relaxing his grip and sliding the katana back into its sheath. "Yes."
Naruto nodded again. "All right, let's go. Where's he at?"
Sasuke abruptly wished he'd kept the sword out. "Hell no," he replied. "I don't want you around."
"Screw you!" Naruto replied, grinding a fist into his hand and grinning. "I owe Kabuto an ass-kicking, and I bet he's there too, right?" He didn't wait for Sasuke's reply before continuing: "You can have the snake bastard if you're gonna be picky."
Sasuke glared, and Naruto's grin widened. "Besides," he added cheerfully, "you're gonna need someone to say that you didn't leave Konoha alone, right? Bet those anbu are getting pretty close while we're wasting time here."
Sasuke paused. Then he muttered a string of insults that would have befit Tayuya and turned around. "Don't fall behind," he said shortly, before jumping onto another branch and taking off.
Naruto caught up in a few heartbeats, of course--he was even deliberately moving slower in order to keep pace--but Sasuke ignored that minor fact.
They were a couple dozen meters further into the forest when Naruto said, "I'm glad I didn't have to drag you back. Sakura'd be pissed if I made her re-set your legs tonight."
There was an odd emphasis on the 'tonight,' but Sasuke had no opportunity to ask as pride dictated he reply to the other half of the sentence. "You couldn't break my legs if you tried, dead last."
"Could too! I nearly did before."
"That didn't count."
"The hell it didn't count!"
"Shut up," Sasuke said calmly, "we're not trying to warn them that we're coming."
"It did too count," Naruto snapped, quieter.
They continued arguing under their breath as they moved forward, until Sasuke discerned the genjutsu being used to conceal the area around the Sound camp. He and Naruto killed the first guard without notice, but the second one managed to alert the camp, and after that the argument was abandoned in favor of the fighting.
It was twenty-three minutes later when the intense shockwave of the fox demon's chakra was felt all the way back to Konoha.
The two anbu chasing Naruto, Takami and Taguchi, had called for backup when they realized that the most talented remains of the Hidden Sound village were all gathered in the forest before joining the fight; but they were dead by the time Tsunade and a group of anbu and jounin arrived with Kakashi among them.
At least, it was assumed that they were dead--there were very few corpses in the clearing that hadn't been torn apart or otherwise mutilated to an unrecognizable point.
The group was still struggling to get an estimate of the number dead and a hint of where Naruto had gone when Gai arrived with Lee's message for Tsunade.
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