The Long Run

BY : Sasunarufan13
Category: Naruto > Yaoi - Male/Male > Naruto/Sasuke
Dragon prints: 1260
Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto nor make profit of it. Kishimoto owns it.

Author's note: Mentally exhausting week. But at least I managed to finish this so have one of the updates. It is something?

Warnings: Character deaths; violence

I hope you'll like it!


Chapter 17

"I don't particularly care about your pyromaniac tendencies," Sasori said dryly, recovering quickly, "but do tell me how you would set the entire town on fire? This place isn't exactly small."

"At least half of the houses here are made up nearly entirely out of wood," Sasuke said coldly. "It won't take more than a match to set those on fire."

"We can use the bike's fuel for the sturdier buildings," Itachi added, catching on. "The fire will do the rest."

"I feel the need to point out that we could use the fuel for ourselves," Sasori said pensively.

"Not worth it to take it with us," Itachi dismissed the idea. "We'd make better use of it here."

Sasori raised an eyebrow. "Fine, whatever, you bunch of pyro freaks. I don't care. How are we going to do this then? We can't all set fire to the town, because if it spreads too quickly we might not be able to get to Naruto on time."

"I'll go out," Itachi said lowly, peeking through the gaps in the blinds. The woman was still humming, doing whatever she did inside the room. "I'll set it on fire and the second they're drawn out to investigate, you get Naruto and get out of here."

Sasuke was torn between protesting about Itachi's involvement when he was the one who had made the suggestion in the first place and being relieved that he could remain with Naruto.

Itachi, of course, spotted the dilemma easily and he gave him a quick, reassuring smile, squeezing his forearm. "We'll meet at the car again. Be ready to move once she leaves."

Sasuke nodded, Sasori offered the barest of nods and Itachi slinked away, disappearing out of sight. Not even his footsteps could be heard, no matter how much Sasuke concentrated, which put him at ease. Shin nor that woman couldn't attack what they couldn't hear.

"Should have brought more bullets," Sasori muttered darkly. "That fire is going to create one giant shit storm once we're out of here."

Sasuke concealed a snort. "And the sound of bullets wouldn't create it?"

"Shooting can't make things worse once the dead start pouring into the streets," Sasori murmured. "We'll have to be extremely careful once we're out of here. I'd rather not get killed by some undead after getting away from those freaks."

"Noted," Sasuke said dryly.

They quietened down then, listening for any sound that would indicate Itachi had started burning the place down. It was aggravating, having to sit here and wait while that woman kept talking and talking, trying to convince Naruto to see her side. Naruto, for his part, either had grown bored or had fainted – Sasuke dearly hoped it wasn't the latter – because he never once replied, no matter how much she kept trying to taunt him. Knowing Naruto, he might very well have grown bored of her. He would probably have left the room by now if he could have.

Sasuke had no idea how long they had been hiding behind the pile of furniture, though it must have been too long considering the awful pin prick sensation in his legs and feet, when thundering footsteps almost jolted him. Sasori tensed up and they both ducked even lower, even though the shadows hid them well.

"My lady, mistress!" Shin stuttered, sounding both pissed off and baffled. "You need to come with me!"

"Shin, I told you I would be spending time with our guest," she said icily.

"The houses in the north are on fire! Our followers – they're burning!"

"WHAT?!" Her shriek echoed through the corridor, making Sasuke wince, surprised that the glass hadn't shattered with the high pitched noise. "WHAT DO YOU MEAN, THEY'RE ON FIRE?!"

"Th-they're all on fire, my lady, I don't know what's going on!" Shin stammered.

"Well, don't just stand there, go fix it!" she hissed.

"M-my lady, I don't know where - "

"Are you seriously this inept?" she snapped and she stormed right past Sasuke and Sasori; her robes catching on the broken jagged leg of a chair making up the pile.

Sasuke's heart started thudding wildly, his hand already dipping to his katana when she cursed and pulled at her robes. He prepared to strike the second the pile would come tumbling down, revealing their position, but she managed to wrestle herself loose, practically flying to the door.

"Come on, before the fire can spread!" she snarled and Shin rushed after her; his heavy footsteps making the floor vibrate.

"Northern side, huh?" Sasori muttered as they hastily left their hiding spot. "Well, that should give us enough time to get back to the car."

Sasuke didn't reply, instead he rushed into the room, making a beeline for Naruto, whose head shot up. His eyes widened when he caught sight of Sasuke.

"Sasuke?" Naruto hissed. "What the hell are you doing here?"

"Getting you back before you're killed as well," Sasuke said curtly and used the dagger to cut through the ropes. "The second I got your note, I knew you were in the shit. Father crossed this town off the list after nii-san and Kisame nearly got themselves killed in the same trap."

"Well, that would have been lovely to know earlier on," Naruto muttered, scowling. His scowl wavered, teeth briefly appearing when he bit down on his lower lip. "Tobi – is he …"

"He didn't make it," Sasori said abruptly, picking up something from the right corner. When he turned around, he was carrying both the machete and the crossbow. "These yours?"

"Yeah, thank fuck she didn't store them away," Naruto sighed relieved. He swayed lightly when he stood up; a pained grimace flashing past his face when he put his weight on his injured leg. He was quick to accept his weapons, however, strapping the machete hastily back onto his belt, keeping a hold on his crossbow; the bag with bolts swung over his shoulder.

"How bad is it?" Sasuke demanded, bending down to get a better look at the cut. He experienced an annoying déjà vu. It seemed like Naruto always managed to hurt a leg one way or the other.

"Nothing I can't handle," Naruto answered dismissively.

"That's not what I'm asking," Sasuke retorted irritated.

"It's what you're going to get as answer, because I doubt we have the time to dawdle," Naruto pointed out aggravatingly.

"He's right," Sasori cut in calmly, but his eyes were fixated on the doorway. "We need to get out of here before the fire closes us in or before those nutjobs return."

"Fine," Sasuke said tersely and handed over Naruto's dagger, watching the man briefly lit up at the sight of it. "But you're going to let yourself be examined by Tsunade when we get back. I'll drag you into her practice myself if I have to."

"Don't you think I already had to deal with enough violence?" Naruto complained, gingerly stretching his leg before he straightened up fully. He cast a dubious look at the cut in his thigh before he shook his head. "Come on, let's go. Who else is with you?"

"Itachi; he's the one setting the place on fire," Sasuke explained and they hurried out of the room, letting the candles guide their way out of this miserable place.

"Whose idea was that?" Naruto asked interested, shaking his head when Sasuke made a move to support him on the stairs.

"Mine," Sasuke admitted. "Couldn't think of another way to get their attention."

Naruto whistled lowly, sounding impressed when he said, "Never thought I'd say this, but I love that pyromaniac streak of yours."

"Please do keep all the lovey-dovey stuff until we're back at the compound and I don't have to be forced to witness it," Sasori interrupted them dryly.

"Who are you actually? Sorry, don't think I've seen you around the compound before," Naruto said apologetically.

They entered the main hallway. The scent of burning wood was starting to become noticeable as they crept closer to the broken entrance, slowing their walk. With no way of knowing where exactly the woman and Shin were or how many zombies had escaped the flames, they would have to be on their guard until they reached the car.

"Sasori, and no, I tend to remain home," Sasori replied curtly and snorted derisively. "After this, it might be a while before I get some wanderlust again."

"Didn't tell you to come with us," Sasuke reminded him sharply again.

The older man waved his hand impatiently at him. "Yes, yes, we've had this argument earlier. You needed a third person and I was the only one there."

They sat down on their haunches behind the door, taking stock of the situation outside. There were already zombies ambling around the square, aimlessly dragging themselves forwards. Some of them actually were on fire, but of course the dead bastards took no notice of it and simply set others aflame whenever they bumped into each other.

"They're like giant walking matches," Naruto muttered morbidly amused. He was awkwardly hunched behind a destroyed wooden table, keeping his injured leg stretched as much as he could. "If your dad already had crossed off this shit town from the list, though, why did I get the request to come check out this place?"

Sasori and Sasuke shared a glance; the older man for once looking somewhat sympathetic. Sasuke looked away; his fury, a constant simmering sensation in the pit of his stomach by now, flaring up once more when he thought about Danzo.

"I'll explain when we're in the car," he promised, unsheathing his katana. "Now's not really the time."

Naruto glanced at him sceptically, the corners of his mouth pinched, but he nodded. "Fine, then let's get the hell out of here, I'd say. I don't want to be here when Miss Grabby Cougar comes back."

"We should be able to go back the way we got in, I think," Sasori muttered, pointing at a gap between two groups of zombies. The gap led straight to the street they had walked through before to get here.

"Stay with me," Sasuke told Naruto, who clucked his tongue and sighed.

"I might be a bit injured, but I'm not completely helpless."

"Naruto, this isn't up for debate," Sasuke warned him and something in his face was compelling enough for Naruto to back down from the argument for once.

They left the municipal building the second the closest group of zombies turned away from the building. The less they had to engage with the dead fuckers the better, especially when more and more of them started to go up in flames. On their right, Sasuke spotted huge dark clouds of smoke wafting across the buildings; some of the flames reaching so high already that they were visible even to the naked eye. He couldn't help but be impressed with the damage Itachi had already managed to wreck in such a short notice. More houses had been created out of wood than he had expected, it seemed. That also meant they definitely couldn't take their sweet time walking, because if they didn't watch out, the fire would close them in at the rate it was spreading.

"You Uchiha really don't do things by half," Sasori sighed as they hurried across the square.

Sasuke had slung Naruto's arm around his shoulder, ignoring his protests this time. He'd been willing to let him be in the town hall itself, but here on the street he wasn't taking any chances. Naruto's injuries were already going to be aggravated enough as it was.

"You'd have an easier time running if you weren't dragging me along," Naruto muttered, hopping/limping quickly alongside Sasuke.

Sasuke offered him a sharp smile. "You keep complaining like that and I will fucking carry you bridal style, I'm not kidding about this."

Naruto shot him a quick glare. "You wouldn't dare."

Sasuke brought his arm closer around his neck, grabbing him firmly around his waist, taking notice of the way Naruto flinched slightly at the touch. Probably injured there as well. "You try me, see what happens."

"You're a dick," Naruto muttered petulantly.

They ducked between two houses, waiting with baited breath until three zombies passed them, gurgling and moaning horribly.

"Stop getting your leg injured and I wouldn't have to be a dick about this," Sasuke said snidely.

"Oh fuck you, like this is my fault! Fucker took me by surprise, that's all. If I see him again, I'm getting him back for this," Naruto quietly seethed.

"No doubt about that," Sasuke muttered. He caught Sasori's eyes at the other side of the street, where the man had been waiting out the zombies as well.

They shared a nod and continued their way down the street, noticing how the doors here were still holding the group of zombies back. But, Sasuke chanced a glance behind him, watching the roof of the house at the end of the street catch fire, those doors weren't going to last much longer.

"We're going to have to be even quicker," he murmured.

Naruto glanced behind him, grimaced. "Yeah, guess so." He groaned, tightening his grip on Sasuke's shoulder. "Fuck this all to hell, when I get my hands on the son of a bitch who sent me here, he's going to be fucking sorry."

"Get in line," Sasuke muttered grimly underneath his breath.

They started to run, Sasuke bearing most of Naruto's weight now. Holding on to their weapons didn't make it any easier to get the hell away from here, but they were unwilling to put them away. As they neared the first square, it became clear where Itachi had started his fiery rampage. Everywhere they looked, zombies were dragging themselves across the ground, burning to a crisp; the stench of burning rotten flesh unbearable. The houses were close to collapsing, the smoke so thick it was becoming harder to breathe.

"We should have taken another way," Sasori cursed, stabbing a zombie who so far had managed to avoid the flames.

"Yeah well, nothing to be done about it," Sasuke said through gritted teeth. They couldn't go back. The fire was spreading behind them and the ominous loud noise of doors splintering apart told him the street would be filled with even more burning zombies soon enough.

"I'll get rid of the ones blocking the path," Sasori said, stabbing another zombie straight through his forehead. "You keep a hold on him."

"Not a baby," Naruto muttered, but at least didn't make an attempt to shake off Sasuke.

He felt Naruto stiffen when they hurried past the motorcycle; Tobi's body half obscured underneath a small pile of blackened zombies. Sasuke clenched his jaw and merely pressed onwards.

"You did what you could," he did offer as consolation, but he knew it wouldn't do much.

Naruto's snort told him as much.


Sasori was further up ahead, taking down the remaining zombies which hadn't yet been engulfed in fire. They were getting closer to the car while the fire behind them raged on. The smoke was becoming thicker and thicker and coupled with the stench of burning dead bodies, Sasuke was having a hard time breathing. He had resorted to breathing through his mouth, but he and Naruto already had to walk more hunched in order not to succumb to the smoke. There had to have been more fuel present in the town than they had expected; that was the only way to explain how quickly the fire was spreading.

He hoped Itachi had managed to make his way to the car already. He had no idea what he was going to do if Itachi wasn't there yet. He hadn't seen Itachi anywhere yet, but that didn't necessarily have to mean anything. The thought, however, that he had got Naruto back only to lose his brother … Unwillingly his grip on Naruto's waist tightened and he felt blue eyes on him.

"Hey, are you – FUCK!"

"Naruto!"

Before Sasuke could react, Naruto was pulled away from him; his heart shooting straight into his throat. He shot forwards, but was forced to a stop when he realised what was happening. Rage burning ugly within him, he glared at the woman who was holding a knife against Naruto's throat; a thin line of blood welling up.

"You don't think I'd let you go that easily?" she hissed. No longer elegant looking, her robes were covered in ash and zombie gore; soot turning her hair darker, leaving smudges behind across her face. Her eyes were wild, madness flashing up when she kicked Naruto's leg, making him howl and buckle down onto his knees.

"Ah, ah, ah," she breathed out, pressing the knife even deeper into Naruto's throat when Sasuke wanted to shoot forwards. "You take one more step and I will cut his throat."

Naruto was breathing shallowly, his eyes widened just a notch; his hands hovering awkwardly at his side. His crossbow had fallen down next to him, but there was no way for him to grab it before she would slice his throat.

"Look, you don't think you're going to make it out alive here?" Sasuke said slowly. "You slit his throat and I will end you."

She smiled thinly. "You've got a lot of nerve for someone who ruined all my hard work. Put the katana down now."

"Don't do it, Sasuke," Naruto brought out, flinching when her nails dug into his shoulder.

"Oh no, you best do it, before I lose my patience," she hissed. "Down, now!"

Gritting his teeth, Sasuke slowly lowered his katana to the ground. He had no idea where Sasori was. He had been further ahead of them and with how thick the smoke was, he might already be in the car by now, expecting the two of them to show up soon.

"Good, now get up slowly," she smirked, jerking her head upwards. "You be good and nothing bad will happen."

"Yeah," Sasuke smirked humourlessly as he slowly rose up, "I don't really believe you."

Her own smirk widened. "Well, that's on you th-"

The shot was fired before she could even finish her sentence. Blood sprayed into Naruto's face when the bullet shot straight through her forehead, shock painting her face before her features slackened and she dropped down; the knife sliding out of her loose grasp.

Naruto blinked, his hands slowly coming up to wipe the blood off his face. "The hell?"

Sasuke breathed out slowly, lowering his gun. "Bitch should have checked me for guns," he answered simply and bent down to snatch his katana off the ground.

He crossed the distance between them, helping Naruto get back onto his feet. He picked up the crossbow, handing it over to a still bemused looking Naruto.

"You're fast," Naruto said; wonder audible in his voice.

Sasuke shrugged stiffly, flicking on the safety again. "Father wanted to make sure we would be fast enough to shoot if we ever needed to," he explained. He looked down at Naruto's hand when it landed on his forearm.

"Thanks," Naruto whispered. "Sorry you had to do that."

Sasuke sneered at the puddle of blood slowly growing larger around the woman's head. "I'm not sorry. She shouldn't have touched you."

Naruto moved as if to kiss him before he inhaled sharply and snapped, "Duck!"

Sasuke automatically followed the order, ducking down and hearing the whizzing sound of a bolt launching right above his head. When he turned around, he saw Shin grabbling at his throat, gurgling noises escaping him as blood started sliding down his shirt. A second bolt ended up buried straight into the centre of his forehead and this time he fell down; some zombies instantly dropping down to feast on his chest and stomach.

"Looked like an ambush," Sasuke noted blankly.

"Yeah, guess she was lying after all," Naruto snorted, lowering his crossbow. He winced when he shifted his weight. "Come on now, I'm going to be honest here, I could really use some time to sit down."

Sasuke nodded shortly. "Let's go, we're almost at the car."

Sasori was waiting for them in front of the vehicle, looking uncharacteristically agitated. "What the hell was keeping you?" he barked. He was almost completely slathered in zombie blood by now; some streaks of red covering his left cheek. Several zombies laid dead on the ground a couple of feet away from the car.

"We ran into them," Sasuke said curtly, opening the door to the backseat to help Naruto inside.

Naruto grunted as he dragged himself across the seat, cursing quietly but forcefully.

"Wait, into those maniacs?" Sasori said baffled, before tensing up, raising his gun. "Are they - "

"They're dead," Naruto replied, voice slightly muffled inside the car. "They're joining their precious followers now."

"You've seen Itachi yet?" Sasuke asked tersely.

They had agreed to meet at the car, but how long were they supposed to wait before they were forced to assume something had happened? If Shin and the woman had managed to track them all the way here, did this mean they had come across Itachi earlier on? If that was the case, did this mean that Itachi …

"No, I haven't," Sasori said grimly; his gaze roaming across the street. "I know you don't like to hear this, but we can't wait that much longer anymore. The fire's - "

"Catching up, I know," Sasuke said warily.

He didn't even need to look up to see how far the flames had spread already. The air, when not weighed down by black smoke, was simmering with heat. The entire town was nearly completely engulfed in flames by now and the few zombies still wandering about were slowly burning down, setting alight what hadn't yet been touched by the fire.

"I'll drive," Sasori offered, making his way to the driver's side. "You get in the back, see if you can take care of some of his injuries already. I put the first aid bag underneath the passenger's seat."

"Thanks," Sasuke said, but couldn't bring himself to smile. He cast another look around him, but still couldn't spot the familiar figure of his brother approaching them. Something in his chest squeezed painfully. "Can we wait a bit longer?"

Sasori looked at him; his own exhaustion mirroring Sasuke's. "Three minutes," he replied stiffly. "That's all we can risk, I'm sorry."

Sasuke nodded, his mouth too dry all of a sudden. He got into the back of the car, slamming the door shut behind him. He watched Sasori linger next to the car as he retrieved the bag from underneath the seat, pulling at the zipper to open it.

Naruto was braced with his back in the corner of the seat and the door; his injured leg sprawled awkwardly half across the backseat. His machete and crossbow rested on the floor next to him. The cut in his leg was still bleeding, which unfortunately wasn't a surprise considering Naruto had dragged himself all the way from the municipal hall to the car.

"How many injuries do you have?" Sasuke inquired and couldn't help it if he sounded somewhat gruffy.

Naruto eyed him from underneath his eyelashes. He was quiet for a moment, seeming to consider something, before he sighed softly. "My leg obviously. The lunatic re-opened the cut when she decided to go all she-devil on me. Some bruises on my face, I guess," he gestured half-heartedly at his face, "and I got nicked in my left side. Don't think it's too deep, because I got out of the way on time before he could really get in a hit, but …"

"All right, let me see your side first before I take care of your leg, just in case," Sasuke muttered, retrieving a bunch of white pads and a small bottle of disinfectant from the bag. It wasn't going to do much if the bleeding persisted, but it should be enough to stem the bleeding at least somewhat until they got to Tsunade.

Naruto hummed, pushing his jacket out of the way in order to lift his shirt up. There was indeed a shallow cut grazing his left side, starting from the underside of his ribs and ending right above his bellybutton. It had bled somewhat, evidenced by the dried rusty colour, but it wasn't deep enough to put Naruto in any danger. He'd disinfect it after he was done with his leg.

"Itachi not here yet?" Naruto asked quietly. He didn't even flinch when Sasuke started dabbing the pad with disinfectant across the cut in his leg even though it must hurt.

"No, not yet," Sasuke muttered, focusing on the injury instead of on the slow, but steadily growing panic trying to take over.

Naruto kept quiet, not trying to offer any platitudes. Sasuke wasn't certain whether he would have appreciated hearing them regardless.

He was just wrapping gauze around the cut when the door opened, startling both men. Sasori slid behind the wheel and through the rear view mirror, he caught Sasuke's gaze; Sasori's turning apologetically.

"Three minutes are up," Sasori offered softly.

Sasuke's fingers tightened around the edge of the gauze and he found himself wondering why all of a sudden the edges of his vision became so blurry. Was the smoke irritating his eyes? If it was, it was annoying, because he could barely see through the blurry sheen what he was doing. He thought his hands were trembling, which was stupid, because why the fuck would they be trembling now? He had to take care of Naruto, had to finish wrapping his thigh and then had to disinfect the shallow cut in his side, because like hell was he going to let an infection take him away from him after everything they'd gone through.

"Sasuke …" Naruto trailed off and then there were hands cupping his face, Naruto murmuring something to him, but the ringing in Sasuke's ears made it hard to concentrate on what he was saying, which only served to heighten his frustration even further, because what the fuck was wrong with him?

The engine roared to life, sending vibrations through the car, and the heavy feeling in Sasuke's chest grew worse; the blurriness spreading until he could feel something disgustingly wet and hot slipping down his cheeks and really, this was so not the fucking time right now.

Sasori reversed the car, intent on driving straight out of the gates that way. His arm braced on the shoulder of his seat, he checked behind them before quickly looking in front of him again.

"MOTHERFUCKER!"

The unexpected loud curse had both Naruto and Sasuke jumping in their seats. "What? What's wrong?" Naruto demanded, his hand already dipping to his crossbow, though his other hand was still clutching the side of Sasuke's face.

Before Sasori could explain his outburst, the door of the passenger seat opened and someone flung themselves inside.

"Go on, floor it!" Itachi demanded, breathing harshly. "I found some propane tanks and I'm not sure if they're completely emp-"

A loud explosion rocked the earth, sending shattered stone flying high in the air.

"Are you fucking kidding me?" Sasori snapped, but slammed his foot down on the gas.

The tires screeched in protest, but the car shot backwards immediately. A jagged stone landed not even a foot from where the front of the car had been not even a second ago and they were all thrown to one side of the car when Sasori wildly made a turn before getting them back on the road.

"So," Itachi said in the pause that followed, "they were not completely empty apparently."

"Apparently," Sasori agreed sarcastically. "Next time you set a town on fire, keep me out of this whole bullshit!"

"You were the one who - " Itachi started, but Sasori cut him off with a vicious hiss.

"Don't even fucking say it!"

Itachi raised his hands good-naturedly and then turned around, looking at Naruto first. He gave him a quick once-over; a brief frown flitting across his face when he got a better look at the injuries. He smiled then, obviously forcing himself to relax. "Glad we could get you out of there."

Naruto raised an eyebrow. "Glad you didn't mind putting yourself in danger," he said mildly, but his eyes were dark and the hand still cupping Sasuke's face tensed almost imperceptibly.

"We weren't going to leave you there," Itachi said simply before he looked at Sasuke. Instantly his face softened and he twisted his arm behind the seat, grabbing the hand that was closest to him. "Sorry I kept you waiting, otouto."

Sasuke swallowed, the sensation painful and rough as if one of those shattered stones had dug itself into his throat. "You drove it really close," he said accusingly. Annoyingly his vision was still blurry and he blinked rapidly. Fuck, couldn't his vision go back to normal finally?

"I know," Itachi murmured and smiled faintly. "I wanted to make sure that nothing would remain after this. It took me a bit longer than I had expected it would take."

"Do you frequently estimate how long it takes to set a whole town on fire then?" Sasori muttered darkly. He wasn't looking at either of them, keeping his eyes firmly focused on the road in front of them.

The sky above them was darkening steadily; it must be inching into early evening by now. They had been in the town a lot longer than expected. Sasuke could already imagine how out of his mind father would be by now.

"It takes some calculations," was all Itachi said before he squeezed Sasuke's hand. He waited until Sasuke had squeezed back before he loosened his grip and turned around to sit properly. "Let's go home now."

"You don't have to tell me twice," Sasori muttered with a huff. "Do not count on me if you ever feel the need to rescue someone else again."

Itachi huffed amused; a teasing smile unfolding across his lips when he glanced at the other man. "But you were the one who of-"

"Don't. Just fucking don't."


AN2: Itachi obviously does not believe in doing things half-way. Also at this point this story might very well reach 30 chapters. I hope you don't mind being along for the ride a little longer.

Please leave your thoughts behind in a review; should you spot any mistakes, please point them out to me.

I hope to see you all back in the next chapter! Please stay safe and take care of yourselves!

Cuddles

Melissa



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