DISCLAIMER: I don't own Naruto, or anything publicly recognizable.
Chapter 1: Back to the Past
Everything was dark.
He had failed.
Things were not supposed to become like this. All his training, his friendship with Kurama and all other Tailed Beasts, all the efforts of himself and the whole Shinobi Alliance… They were supposed to win, they were meant to go on, to defeat the mad Uchiha duo and to stop the Juubi from destroying the world!
But yet, despite all those things, they still lost.
Madara Uchiha had won. All of their efforts were wasted. All his friends, all who cared for him were murdered by the wicked power of that revived bastard. And Madara was only short of one more thing to complete the Juubi again and become what he had deceived the poor Obito for a very long time in order to achieve – a god.
Yes, Kurama was still inside Naruto. But not for long. Soon, his newest friend would be ripped off from his body and become a part of that monster Shinju again.
Everything of the few last hours flashed through his mind.
He remembered Kakashi's Sharingan being ripped off his left eye socket as he fell and died under Madara's Susanoo sword. He remembered the souls of the four revived Hokage being pulled away by the shadow clones with Rinnegan. He remembered Hinata and Sakura being impaled by an incredibly sharp root when trying to pull him out of the roots that were restraining him and sucking away his chakra. He remembered Sasuke's Susanoo being shattered and the man himself being vaporized when trying to prevent a combined Tailed Beast Bomb from the Sharingan-controlled Tailed Beasts from hitting a completely exhausted Naruto sprawling on the ground.
Everyone… they sacrificed their lives to protect him, to allow him the chance to destroy Madara once and for all… And he failed them.
He closed his eyes. Maybe if he had just given up from the beginning… this wouldn't have happened…
"So you decided to just give up like that? It's not like you, Naruto."
He opened his eyes again. He was in the white room from before, and Kurama and all other Tailed Beasts were standing before him, looking down at him. Normally, he would have asked how they were able to meet again, but right now, it was not important anymore. Nothing was important anymore.
"Why shouldn't I give up? Everyone is gone, Madara has captured all of you. We lost." Naruto sighed heavily, all his energy seemed to be drained.
He was flicked in the forehead by a tentacle of Gyuki.
"Idiot. We haven't lost yet. Everyone out there is still fighting. Everyone sacrificed their lives because they believe that you shall be able to defeat Madara, not for you to sulk and give up like this. If you, Naruto, of all people, lose hope, there is nothing we can do anymore."
"But what can I do now? All my friends are gone, the Shinobi Alliance is, or is being destroyed. I don't know what I'm fighting for anymore". With those last words, Naruto collapsed on his knees, and for the first time in many years, he cried. All of his anger, sorrow, regret, despair and pain, everything he held in his heart seemed to have exploded and added to the stream of tears.
"You know," Surprisingly, it was Shukaku who raised the voice. It was different from the way Naruto had known the beast for; it was… sane. "I don't quite understand much about you humans, but to me, if you hate someone, even if I cannot defeat him, I would try my best to make sure that whatever he was planning won't be able to work. I don't like you quite much, but I admired you for daring to stand up against me during that battle in the past. If I hadn't, I would have made Gaara destroy your little village when he finally became Kazekage."
"Nice idea, Shuki-chan!" Chomei chirped in. Even in this situation, the beetle could still keep her cheerful personality. Shukaku shot her a glare of annoyance at the nickname.
"But how can I do it? Madara must have begun Kurama's extraction for quite some time. Now I cannot even move."
Son Goku's eyes gleamed. "You know that you are not alone in this, right?"
"The extraction is nearly completed. Soon, the Juubi, and this world shall be mine to control!" Madara's Rinnegan flashed hungrily when the red chakra of Kurama continuously flown into the mouth of Gedo Mazo. Just a little more time, and his dream shall become true…
Suddenly, the statue, and the ground started to rumble.
"What… What the…" Madara startled, his concentration on the sealing technique faltered. "What's happening?"
Cracks started to appear on the body of the Juubi. From within, lights and chakra could be seen flowing out.
"No… This… This is not supposed to happen…" Madara cried desperately, pumping more of his chakra into the sealing jutsu, but all was in vain; loud booming started to rise from inside the statue, and all of Gedo Mazo's eyes snapped open and it screeched as if it was in excruciating pain.
Then everything went white.
If there's something Naruto hated so much, it was being woken up suddenly in the middle of the night on an extremely uncomfortable bed.
His whole body was throbbing with pain. That nightmare was too incredibly real. And it's also strange and horrible, too. He could still remember quite clearly about his friends dying, his failure at beating Madara, the Tailed Beasts talking to him and a huge explosion…
He groaned and burrowed his face deeper into the pillow. He didn't want to remind himself about that terrible dream anymore.
…Except there was no pillow at all. He was lying on a pile of straw in a shack, standing in the middle of what seemed to be the forest outside of Konoha. And in his arms was a big papery cylinder thing.
"WHAT THE?" Naruto screamed and jumped out of the makeshift bed he was lying on. Then he realized. "What the hell is wrong with my voice?"
His voice was now exactly what it was when he was twelve.
"Well," he muttered. "Kurama had better have a good explanation for this…"
"Hey Kurama! What the heck is going on… here…"
Naruto sweatdropped as his eyes stared at the bizarre scene in his mindscape.
Inside the cage was a clusterfuck. As he could count, there were nine heads and a whole bunch of tails… tentacles… goo… wings… whatever... And they seemed to be struggling hard against each other.
"Hey! Stop pulling my tails!"
"Get your tentacles off my butt you perverted ox!"
"Ack! Your tail! Your tail! You're strangling me!"
"My wings! You're crushing my wings!"
If this hadn't been an urgent situation, this would have been a very funny scene.
"WHAT IS HAPPENING HERE? WHY ARE YOU GUYS ALL INSIDE OF ME? AND WHERE ARE WE ANYWAY?" After a while, Naruto had enough. He exploded.
His voice drew the attention of the creatures behind the bars.
"Ah, Naruto!" The fox head cried out in relief. "A little help here, please?"
Naruto's left eyebrow twitched. "Couldn't you just, like, shrink yourself, or transform into something smaller and easier to get out?"
"Ah," all the heads nodded slowly. "Good point."
After some more struggles, and a huge puff of smoke, Naruto was now sitting on the damp floor of his mindscape, facing all nine Tailed Beasts who were each in the size of a grown up Akamaru.
"So… care to explain?" Naruto looked at the beasts inside the cage.
"Well… um… it's just a little accident, you see…" Kurama started.
"What do you mean 'a little accident'?" Naruto asked, raising an eyebrow.
"Well, you see," Kokuoh, the Five-Tails, began. "You remember that we left quite a lot of our chakra inside you when we bumped our fists, right? Turns out that the more powerful we are, the stronger the chains binding us inside the Juubi's body are. Therefore, when we were absorbed back into that statue, those chains became significantly weaker, and a normal Tailed Beast Bomb was enough to break us free from the binding."
"I see," Naruto nodded in understanding. "But that doesn't explain why…"
"I was getting there," the Five-Tails stopped him. "After that we were able to talk with you again, remember? Then, that knucklehead over there," he pointed one of his tails towards Goku, who scratched his head sheepishly, "decided to break us free with another combined Tailed Beast Bomb. I told them it would be dangerous, but sadly, no one listened – except for me and little Saikyo here," he rubbed the Six-Tails' head with another tail. "So we did it anyway, and the Juubi's body was completely obliterated."
"So the Juubi's body was destroyed," Naruto nodded again. "That's good, right?"
"Yes… but, well…" Kokuoh suddenly hesitated. "You know that the Juubi was the God Tree, the source of all chakra in the world, right? When it was destroyed, all the chakra from inside it exploded in an instant with an extremely powerful force, and it somehow ripped us from that timeline and sent us back to the past. And it also pushed us into the seal in your stomach."
"Ooh! So that's why I have my twelve-year-old voice, and why I was holding the Forbidden Scroll out there! We were sent back to the day I graduated from the Academy!" Naruto exclaimed in realization. But then, something crossed his mind. "But what about the others? Did they get sent back to the past, too?"
The Tailed Beasts shared a worried and regretful look.
"Naruto," Gyuki said. "A blast with enough power to send one back to the past will reduce everything to light particles. Not even Madara's strongest Susanoo could survive that explosion. It is incredibly lucky that you have us; otherwise you would have been erased from existence together with Madara and everything else. About the others… I'm afraid there's nothing you can do for them anymore, Naruto."
Naruto's shoulders slumped. So in the end, it was nothing different. He still couldn't save anyone. He couldn't do anything to protect the people he loved. Tears started to well up in his eyes again, rolling down his cheeks and silently dropping into the already soaking ground.
Then he felt something warm and fluffy wrapping around him. He raised his head, and saw Kurama embracing him with her red tails.
"It's true Naruto, that you have failed them. But think, if you really feel that bad about it, then this is your chance to redeem yourself. We're in the past, when everything hadn't happened yet. Work hard, and stop Madara from completing his plan in this timeline. Protect everyone you love this time; don't let them die meaninglessly like before. Besides," she added with a chuckle, "look around you. This time you are not alone. You have us together with you now, and we are friends. Friends are supposed to help each other, right?"
"Right! This time we're with you, Naru-kun! That Madara guy will not be able to ruin the future we create together anymore!" Chomei added cheerily.
Naruto looked at all the beasts around him, his eyes widened. Everyone of them was looking back at him with trusting and encouraging eyes (Well, except for Saikyo and Chomei; they don't have eyes anyway). A feeling of warmth suddenly bloomed in his heart, and he felt happy, and stronger than ever. He smiled, wiping tears away from his eyes and stood up.
"Thank you everyone. This time, I swear I will not fail!" He raised his hand, and they bumped their fists again, strengthening the bond between them once more.
"Good job my dear. Now go," Kurama pushed her jinchuriki's back. "There is one person who needs to be saved by you right now."
When Naruto faded away from their view, Matatabi looked at Kurama.
"I can't believe even you can become motherly, nee-san."
"Heh," the vixen chuckled. "Even I can't believe it myself, either."
Mizuki was smirking. Right after he finished this annoyance of an Academy teacher, he would go find the demon brat, take the Forbidden Scroll from him and bring him together with it to Orochimaru-sama. Then he would become a Sound ninja, and gain the power and fame he couldn't get being a mere teacher in Konoha!
His train of thought was interrupted rudely when a foot landed on his face, sending him crashing into a tree nearby.
"I'll kill you for hurting Iruka-sensei! Multi Shadow Clone Jutsu!"
Mizuki's eyes widened in horror when the forest was filled, literally, with thousands of Naruto.
"Now, ready to die, bastard?" The army of Naruto grinned wickedly while cracking their knuckles. Mizuki gulped.
"I'm screwed, am I?"
"Yes." The whole army echoed before pummeling the poor traitor to the ground.
Iruka was appalled seeing Naruto performed a forbidden Ninjutsu in such a large scale. Not only that, the boy didn't even show any sign of fatigue after releasing the jutsu! And he defeated a Chuunin-level shinobi just by himself!
He smiled weakly. 'You have really become strong, Naruto… You might even surpass the Third, no, all the past Hokages someday… '
"Heh heh… Guess I might have overdone it a bit…" Naruto grinned sheepishly, while dragging a mess of flesh and bones called Mizuki along towards Iruka. The older man smiled, and waved him.
"Leave that Naruto. Come here and close your eyes."
This was it. This was the time. Naruto could not ever forget this, even until the last day of his life…
"Congratulation, Naruto. You're officially a Genin of Konohagakure."
Once again in two days (or who knows how many days had passed), Naruto began to cry his heart out, this time on the chest of the older man.
And that's for chapter 1. This is my first story, and I wanted to see how well it was received.
You see, I changed the gender of Saiken, and gave her the name Saikyo. Saikyo, as far as I know, means 'the strongest' in Japanese. And I have a reason for giving her that name. It will be explained in a chapter in the future.
And Kurama was extremely OOC. Yeah, I know. But hey, this is fanfiction, right?
How was the story so far? If you like it, please let me know :D