Author's Note: Hey everyone! I doubt anyone will remember me but I have posted here on before. That was a loooong time ago tho and have gone to university in between. Fortunately I now have time to have hobbies again and have gotten back into the fandom with this idea bouncing around in my head recently.

Without further ado:

Soul Matrix



The acrid stench of burnt bodies covered the wasteland of what was the last camp of survivors of the fourth Great Shinobi War. After the defeat of Kaguya the world had rejoiced, however crushing reality reared its ugly head a scant two years later.

Forces scattered in the assumed peace, the goddess began her assault; shinobi village by shinobi village fell until there were naught but a few groups of the most elite left to oppose her. Among those, were mainly shinobi from the leaf which had gained a few days warning from Kumo of the coming destruction. Iruka, on an information exchange mission, managed to send back word before succumbing to the goddess.

That was eighteen months ago and now the massacre was finally over.

They had lost.

The fighting had dwindled as hope abandoned their numbers. They had given a mighty push about a month ago which resulted in over half of their remaining forces being lost, this morning they lost the remainder.

A lone figure remained on the battle field, his final rage had driven off Kaguya for the moment but he was sure that she would be back by sunrise. His matted blonde hair stuck to his face, over-long and clumped in blood that was a mixture of both his and others. Unable to stand, he was slouched by the side of his brother in all but blood, Sasuke, as the raven's last breath left his body. A sealing matrix lit up across his right clavicle as he drew a shaking hand away from his brother's heart.

'That's it, kit. We can only take whom we have now and even that is pushing it.'

The deep voice of the Kyuubi no Yoko rumbled through his consciousness as his azure gaze swept across the barren red landscape looking for any other survivors in the setting sun.

'There's no one left Kurama, I couldn't save anyone else.'

'It's alright kit, you will. We just have to complete the seal and you can save everyone.'

It was an impossible scheme thought up between him and Shikamaru months ago, back when there were still lulls between skirmishes that lasted longer than a week.


Naruto rubbed the seal matrix directly over his own heart as his vision swam, his lover was the first he had cast his seal on. His soul was now bound to his. As was Sakura's and now finally Sasuke's. He was too late to save Kakashi, and he didn't have the matrix developed when Tsunade fell. For the majority he wasn't in the right place at the right time, most of his friends' deaths had been over too quickly for him to act to save their souls.

'I only have enough power for the souls we have right now and ourselves Naruto. Saving more souls than this would have only made you have to choose.'

Naruto could never choose between his friends, maybe it was better this way.

'But if we had more time to prepare and gather energy-' 'NO!'

The great beast interrupted, voice snarling. ' 'But if's' will not help us kit, there is no time to gather chakra and this opportunity will not happen again! Kaguya will return in a matter of hours and there is no time to waste!' The great beast proceeded with a gentler tone, 'You will see them again Naruto, and you will have these three with you at least. You are doing all that you can.'

Naruto let out a shuddering breath while wiping a hand across his eyes. 'You're right Kurama. Let's get to work.'

The blonde struggled to his feet as the housed bijuu finished mending tendon and muscle. It took another moment before he was able to put weight on his right leg and begin walking. Limping, he finally made it to an untouched clearing some distance from the former camp just as the moon was approaching its highest zenith in the sky.

Soundlessly, he dropped to the ground and began tracing a large seal in the dirt. 'Quickly kit, the jutsu will be at it strongest when the moon is directly overhead.' Kurama urged him on and he moved as fast as he could but his muscles ached in fatigue. It was all he could do to keep his hands moving to create the seal.

'I'm trying Kurama, it's almost done.'

The final touches were complete just as the moon shone overhead, bathing the clearing in crisp white light. Panting, Naruto crawled to the center of the seal and spoke for the last time while completing handseals, "I will save everyone this time. Jikan-maki modoshi no justu!"

The world around him was silent before a gale force wind picked up, whipping his hair around as a golden light spilled from beneath his skin. A moment later a flash of light was seen before the world faded to black.

The last shinobi left the scarred world with a tear dripping from his cheek as his body crumbled to dust. Nature herself apologized with a summoned a breeze that set the dust alight into the dark clouded sky.

Lips mashed together in a desperate dance has hands fumbled to remove clothing. A hastily erected sound barrier was all that stood between their tent and the rest of the camp listening in on their relations. Privacy had been a bit hard to come by since the return of Kaguya five months ago.

"Sh-shikamaru –" Naruto breathed out as the brunette roughly removed the blonde's shirt, placing searing kisses on the revealed skin. "Need you…"

Naruto had just been cleared from medical after a skirmish had forced there forces back and sent Kaguya on her way for the time being. She was still weak but gaining power every day. For now, she was planning her battles carefully and retreating when necessary, leaving time for recovery for the remaining shinobi.

Finally, his pants were removed and Naruto began working on divesting Shikamaru of his remaining clothing. Shikamaru hummed in response, nipping gently on Naruto's throat while coaxing him into a more comfortable position. "I'm here Naru." Was the rasped response as Shikamaru reached between their bodies, resulting in a joining for the two shinobi.

Ten minutes later found the two lovers panting in each other's arms, content for the moment. Since the return of Kaguya, both men had felt the need to reassure themselves and each other that they were both alive. Naruto in particular was shaken, he had been so sure that he and Sasuke had rid the world of any last trace of the vengeful goddess.

Blue eyes turned to take in the sight of free falling brown hair on the pillow beside him before tracing the strands up to the eyes of the man next to him. Shikamaru was staring back at him, eyes roaming over his face, tracing his whisker marks, seemingly in an attempt to memorize every facet of his visage.


Brown eyes snapped to blue, "Naruto? What's wrong?"

Naruto let out a sigh and reached over to run a thumb along Shikamaru's cheekbone. Pressing a kiss to his lips, he began, "Is there anything we could have done to prevent this Shika? We were so sure she was gone."

Shikamaru gathered the blonde closer into his arms, "I don't know Naru. Maybe if we had stopped her from being resurrected in the first place…" His fingers carded through growing blonde hair, "But there is no point in thinking about that, love. We can't go back in time."

Naruto sighed into the embrace, the answer never changed. "I know Shika. Love you." He mumbled while beginning to drift off to sleep.

"Love you too, Naruto."

Naruto blinked one last time before sleep overtook him.

But – why couldn't they go back in time?

Naruto's chest heaved as he burst into the main strategy tent. "I did it! Guys, I did it!"

Sasuke and Sakura looked up from their maps, with a slight pang Naruto realized again that Shikamaru wasn't there to look up as well. He unconsciously rubbed his chest where the seal was placed.

"Did what Naruto?" Sakura looked from Sasuke's face to his as if he knew something.

He had kept this quiet, just between him and Kurama in case is didn't work. But his hard work had paid off. It was nearly a month short of a year since Shikamaru had given him the idea that day in their tent and five months since he had lost Shikamaru himself. The idea had festered in his mind for almost a week until he brought it up to the ancient beast.

Kurama had been contemplative and undecided at first but hadn't said no. Three days later he had come up with the idea that they had been working on for the past eleven months. It was finally ready.

"I finished my time seal, once we gather enough nature chakra we can go back in time and stop this mess from ever happening!"

Naruto's eyes were the brightest they had seen in weeks, full of the same optimism that had shone at the end of the last war.

Sakura's voice shook as she reached for Sasuke's hand. For once he allowed the contact in public, he was also a bit rattled by the proclamation.

"What do you mean Naruto? Isn't that sort of thing impossible? What about everyone left here?"

"I've been working on the seal with Kurama for almost a year. With it, I can bring people back with me to the past, even–" he pressed a hand to Shikamaru's seal again before continuing "and we can stop all of this from happening. If we go back far enough we might even be able to stop the massacre from ever happening." Hopeful eyes looked towards his brother, "Sasuke?"

Sasuke's mismatched eyes had widened, breath caught in his throat. His family might be saved? His aniki? He tightened his grip on Sakura's hand in his. He would be able to introduce his wife to his mother. Such things he had not dreamed about since he was a boy.

"Naruto, you are sure this will work?"

Naruto's panting subsided and he straightened and advanced farther into the tent, "It should. Once we gather enough nature chakra and wait for a full moon I should be able to send our consciousness, our souls, back to our younger bodies. I think going back to when we are five would be about as far as we can go. Depending on how much time we have to collect chakra and the number of people."

To be truthful it was as good of a plan as any, their numbers dwindled daily and hope had died from everyone's eyes. Sakura spoke up, "Let's do it, Naruto." The remainder of the original team seven shared one last grin as a team. They finally had a plan again.

Sakura didn't live past the next forty-eight hours.

She died in Sasuke's arms in the agonizing battle that devastated half of their forces. However, her soul was safely sealed in the matrix burning across Naruto's ribcage. She would be coming with them to the past.

A scant month was barely enough time to generate the amount of nature chakra required but it would have to do.

Kaguya was coming.

And tonight was the night of the full moon.

Author's Note: So what do you think? Worth continuing?

Please R&R!