So, it's been ages since I have attempted to write anything for this story, but seeing as my other story ideas get shot down I tried my hand on a little teaser for this story.

Well, I can say that getting back to this story was not as hard as I had expected after all this time away. But whether I pick it up again or not depends on whether there is any real interest in this story. So let me know if there is still some interest in this storyline or not...

Akihiro cursed, as he stumbled through the door into the hut. It was mere luck that he had found this abandoned place in this wilderness, so far away from any road or settlement. He was beyond exhausted by now, as he had to flee from the Uzumaki, who followed him relentlessly. He had hoped that his former employer would have taken care of these red-haired imbeciles, but apparently, he had let them go.

He threw the little girl he had been carrying on the remains of a what must have been a straw bed long ago, not caring at all whether she got hurt by this or not. Twice had the whelp woken up during his escape and each time she had caused more trouble than she was worth.

In hindsight, he had to admit that all of this had not been worth it. His team had gotten killed because they had trusted a madman to get them into Uzushio. His own Kage had not cared at all whether they would all come back or not either. The longer he had to flee, the more his thoughts carried him back to that fateful day when they had entered the village of the Uzumaki Clan. When his team had been whole. He had tried to be indifferent about their deaths, but after so much time with them, he still began to miss them...

His village leader demanded an Uzumaki child, so they could get their hands on the fabled Uzumaki bloodline. Time was running out to achieve this, as that particular clan was on the verge of annihilation, due to their war against two major hidden villages. Get the child, do whatever is necessary. Strange alliances were obviously expected... but the price his team had paid for this was too high.

He looked with disdain at the child next to him. Her clan would hunt him to the end of the world, just to get her back. Even if he got rid of her now, those damn redheads would not stop until either he or all of them are dead. He doubted that even Suna would offer him any real protection now. He had been set up for sure. The Kazekage only wants the child, he cares little for some underling.

Outside the sun was slowly disappearing and the darkness of the night would further hide his current sanctuary. But even the prospect of a few hours of undisturbed sleep did little to lift his mood. His mind was reeling. The question he had to ask himself now was simple, yet at the same time, it was not. Back to Suna… or not?

They were silent, as the continued their mad dash through the woods. Akahana's summons had picked up the trail of their target, right at the edge of Rice Field Country. The traitor was fast, they had to give him that, but burdened with a small child, they would eventually catch up to him. Not that this certainly would improve the mood of Uzoshios' hunters.

Akahana's thoughts strayed back to the unplanned confrontation with Kumo's heir ever so often. This world, this timeline… she had to remind herself that these were not the same persons she had known before. Just like the people in Konoha had not been the ones she had once served and protected before. Whatever the cursed demon had done with her, it had changed everything. And just by looking at her new comrades here, was enough to remind her of that.

Ever so often she also caught Arashi looking at her. Always only brief glimpses, as if he wanted to make sure that she was still following his lead. He had been rather tight-lipped about her short fight with Ay, but even Hotaru had told her that he was angry about it. Maybe he was angry that they had been spotted by an enemy nation. Or maybe he was angry that she had returned Bee to his brother. The boy would have been a valuable hostage… maybe. She wasn't sure. She could only say with certainty that Ay would have hunted them to the end of the world to get his pseudo brother back. But she wouldn't have allowed for that to happen. She may have done unspeakable things during her time with Root, but she would never betray her mentors… not even in this world, where they are her enemies once more…

"The trail has gone cold," Arashi called out. "We take a break to reorganize."

His teammates followed the order without question. From all Akahana had seen from the Uzumaki team, she could only surmise that they were far more organized and disciplined than the ones she remembered from her past in Konoha or the makeshift teams she had fought alongside during the civil war in Water Country. Maybe it was the war, though she doubted that fighting alone was the reason behind this. No, she was sure that Uzushio had by far the best trained teams she had seen so far. It was likely the reason why they had survived this long in a war against two enemy nations. But even their strength could not stem the tide of enemies forever…

"Hotaru, search the perimeter. Naoki, prepare a camp. We will stay her for some hours to rest," Arashi ordered.

The moment Akahana had stopped, he was by her side, taking her arm and dragging her away from his teammates. There was a grim look on his face, as he stared at her.

"We know exactly where the traitor is going," Akahana told him with a frown.

Her summons would not fail like this. She knows where they are at any given time. As long as they remain in this world, they would draw Chakra from her and through this, she could always find them. And right now, they were not far from Akihiro and Honoka. A day, maybe two away from their current position. So the question was why Arashi would waste time for a break like this...

"You know which border we are about to cross soon," Arashi shot back.

Of course, she knew, "Fire Country. Is there a problem?"

"We both know the damn problem. They call themselves our allies, but they don't want to get involved in our wars. When we follow the traitor, we will have to stay away from Konoha's forces."

"Naturally," Akahana replied.

"So you have no lingering ties to Konoha?" Arashi asked further.

It dawned on her what he was on about. It hadn't been lost on him that she would have joined Konoha in a heartbeat, had the elders decided to banish her. It wasn't even a secret that Konoha would have likely taken her in without much fuss either. So now Arashi doubted her conviction to serve her clan above all else.

"I joined Uzushio for our clan. I agreed to marry you, for our clan. All that matters is the protection of our clan," she told him pointedly. "I know you don't trust me..."

"Well, you are not making it any easier for me with all your secrets," Arashi snapped.

She frowned again. He just wouldn't stop about this topic, even though she had made it clear that her past was not a topic she would ever talk about.

"Arashi, just let it go," she tried to plead softly with him, but somehow she couldn't really bring herself to act like she had been trained to do. Seduction and manipulation are the tools of a kunoichi. Somehow she just couldn't lie to him as easily as she did it with others… maybe it was the knowledge that in the near future they would have to lead their clan together, something that would require honesty and trust. At least amongst each other.

Arashi looked intently at her but didn't reply immediately. It was clear that he would ask again. But for now, he dropped that point. This obviously wasn't exactly a topic to discuss in the wilderness, where no one could be sure whether there are people eavesdropping or not.

"Come, Akahana. We should get back to the others, lest Hotaru starts spreading rumors again," Arashi said with a long, suffering sigh.

"Again?" Akahanacouldn't help herself but ask. Now she was curious. There was certainly a mischievous side to Arashi's teammate and Akahana appreciated it as a small distraction from the harshness of this world she was in.

And Arashi looked torn between embarrassed and annoyed, as he carefully considered what he should tell her. "Let's just say that she once spread some rumors that linger even today," he said grumpily. He wouldn't divulge more, instead, he turned away from her and headed back towards the small makeshift camp Naoki had erected.

Akahana watched him with a smirk tugging at the corners of her lips. Maybe he wasn't so uptight all the time. Or maybe she would just have to ask Hotaru to tell her more about these rumors. At the very least it would keep Arashi from asking any more questions about her past… at least for a day or two...