NARUTO (isn't mine)
Title: Less Than Ideal
Pairings: Could be read as SasuNaru, but no more so than the show itself. Probably less so.
Synopsis: You know the action scene that starts every James Bond flick? This is that scene. Naruto and Sasuke prove that they can work together, and well, on a mission involving a few renegade Mist Ninjas. This is the prologue to a longer and as-yet unwritten fic.
Chapter List: prologue 1 2 3
Three ninja of Konoha walked alone through the forest.
Alone, that is, but for the two former Mist shinobi who watched them from the trees, the two who followed on the ground with another following them, and the two who walked ahead, one laying down a false trail while the other covered him. The trail was for an ambush: so far, they'd effectively silenced three other investigative teams, one of them from Hidden Leaf village. It was foolproof strategy.
Akeboshi hardly thought they'd need it, this time. The apparent leader of this latest group of ninja had to be the loudest, most oblivious, stupidest blond to have ever been mistakenly issued a headband. He hummed as he walked, and looked at the ground or the sky but never around him, for traps; he had his hands in his brightly-colored pockets and a dumb grin on his face. Ninja should be silent, subtle, and observant, but this one had already lost the trail twice, even though it was meant to be followed. Akeboshi's team had to go back and re-do it.
The ninja's companions were, if anything, worse - one appeared to be sulking and the other - the girl - wouldn't shut up. It was maddening, and Akeboshi had already decided from his position in the trees that if the three lost the way even one time more he'd personally lead the attack. Ninja should be cautious and patient, yes, but to continue this parody of an ambush for much longer would be ridiculous. He almost felt insulted - was this the best Konoha could do?
Pursuers and perused reached the small stream together, and though the trail was only somewhat hidden on the other side, that slight subtlety was apparently too much for the dumb blond and his dumber companions. They stood at the stream a while, then started to argue. The girl was shrill and the blond whined. The last merely pouted. I've had enough, Akeboshi thought as he signaled the attack. Although I do hate to do Konoha a favor, I really must kill them before...
That was as far as Akeboshi got before a clean blow from behind knocked him unconscious. The ninja who'd done it looked remarkably like the one still sulking below, for the brief instant in which he was visible. He blurred as he moved, bounced through the trees with controlled abandon as he kicked, chopped, and back-handed his was through the Mist shinobi as they appeared for the attack. When it was over, six shinobi lay piled on the ground, some moaning faintly but most silent.
"Yo, Naruto," he said to the blond Konoha ninja, in greeting.
"Geeze, Sasuke, why do you always have to be such a show-off?" was Naruto's reply. "It's annoying. Right, Sasuke?" he asked, turning to the sulking ninja beside him, who grinned in a way that was wholly unlike the real one before vanishing in a puff of smoke. Naruto grinned back. "See? He agrees with me."
The real Sasuke folded his arms and narrowed his eyes. "You're the annoying one. I was never like that, even back when we were Genins."
"You were too!" Naruto said. "Always acting gloomy. Those mist shinobi believed it, anyway, thinking we were all useless ninjas!"
"In your case there wasn't much acting needed," Sasuke said. The third ninja, a pink-haired girl, giggled at that, then tried to pretend she hadn't when Naruto turned toward her with his best kicked-puppy look.
"That's mean, Sakura-chan," he whined. Sasuke almost raised an eyebrow at that, caught himself at the last moment, settled for a suitably detached look instead. Naruto wasn't finished talking. "So, now what do we do? We were supposed to follow those missing-nin to their base, and now we can't!"
At that, Sasuke did raise an eyebrow. "We weren't following them, we were being lead. If you didn't notice, then you really are useless." And just when he'd thought that Naruto really had been on top of the situation. Maybe he should stop trying to understand his teammate.
Naruto stuck his tongue out but didn't argue, so Sasuke left it at that. "Obviously we take these six back to Konoha for questioning," he said, after a while.
"You could do that," came a raspy voice. "Or, you could give them to me in exchange for this girl." The voice belonged to a seventh mist missing-nin, who stood behind the girl, kunai to her throat. Sakura-chan looked suitably frightened. The missing-nin, for his part, was attempting to menace, no mean feat when six of his comrades lay unconscious only a few yards away. He managed. He was tall, a little thin, and had a particularly disturbing gleam in one eye.
Sasuke tensed, but it was Naruto who made the first move, pulling out a kunai of his own and throwing it... right at Sakura-chan's abdomen. The mist missing-nin had time for one stupid, surprised look before Sakura-chan, too, disappeared in a puff of smoke. As did the kunai. And then Naruto was in front of him, fist connecting solidly with face. The former Mist ninja went down, and didn't get back up.
Sasuke didn't blame him for being surprised. They'd been following the renegades for half a day; for Naruto to have maintained two shadow clones - three, if one counted the kunai - for that long, and transformed as well... it was pretty unbelievable. And he'd had to act like an idiot, although that really wasn't much different from his regular behavior. Perhaps it was unwise to give him too much credit for it. Mostly, Sasuke was annoyed at himself, for missing that last missing-nin. Naruto didn't mention the oversight, perhaps because he'd made the same mistake himself.
"What are we waiting for! Let's get these traitors back to Konoha!" he said. Sasuke grunted an answer and began the summoning seals. For seven bodies, some of which were still conscious, they'd need either his snake or one of Naruto's summoned frogs. The snake would be definitely be insulted at such a trivial summoning, something that Sasuke was looking forward to.
A pop, smoke, some slight fumbling, a half-hissed argument, and then the giant snake made its grinding way to Konoha village. It had seven shinobi tied to its back and two riding on its head, one of whom put his hands behind his head and said to the other, "What’s up with the Mist village, anyway? Do they, like, breed traitors over there?"
The snake was quickly out of sight of the battlefield, where Kakashi-sensei was emerging from under the water. Oddly enough, he was completely dry, and smiling. He made a few quick notations on his clipboard. Then he set off for Konoha, moving as quickly as he could. He wanted to arrive first, to deliver the good news to Konoha's leader - and a certain pink-haired girl - in person. He couldn’t have been more proud.