AN: Welcome! Yes, this is the final chapter of the story. I am not sure how great it is conclusion wise, but I feel like it's alright, so I hope you guys enjoy. If you liked this story, I can promise you the next one will be better as I am already five chapters deep in writing it. Thank you so much for reading my first fanfic and I hope you stick around for my future stories, if not I understand. Thank you again, and please enjoy.
Disclaimer- I don't own Naruto or any of the characters. All rights belong to their respective owners.
I Read It In A Book: Chapter 17: Finale
Jumping away, Naruto avoided the extended hue of an orange claw that completely uprooted the tree he was hiding behind. Rolling forward, he laid out flat, avoiding the next strike. Quickly, he jumped up before the claw crushed the ground beneath him. While in the air, there was nothing keeping him from harm's way. Menma's fist of chakra punched him full force, throwing him through the heavy foliage, breaking more than just trees on the way.
When he finally stopped, he picked his head up meeting the top of Menma's foot. His body was sent flying again. Only stopping when his back impacted the boulder behind him. Before his body even began falling, he was pressed into the wall of stone when Menma came flying in at incredible speeds. He grabbed the front of Naruto's shirt and yanked him from the rock, ripping it before he threw him towards the ground. Naruto was still sent tumbling across the muddied floor for a few feet, coating his now bare chest in filth.
With a groan of apparent pain, he made it back to his feet. Spitting out the blood, he got into a fighting stance. Menma was crouched down a few feet away from him, ready to pounce. With a burst that kicked up the mud behind him, he ran on all fours, striking Naruto with a wild slash. Naruto leaned out the way and punched him in his side. Menma ignored the hit and brought the same arm back, trying to catch him with an elbow.
Naruto leaned out the way of the strike and gave him two quick jabs to his abdomen. Menma took the hits and went to slash at him again. Before he did, Naruto spun around and kicked him in the throat, silencing the roar. Ignoring the attack once again, Menma followed through and hit Naruto across the face. Naruto fell to the ground but quickly found his feet. Dodging Menma's next few slashes, he kicked off of the tree next to him and clotheslined the Kage until they both hit the ground.
Menma seemed to anger at the maneuver and righted himself as quickly as he could. Naruto did as well and rushed forward. Menma rushed as well and tackled him back down to the ground, pinning him down. Raising his clawed hand, he brought it down, driving straight through his chest. Naruto dispersed in a cloud of smoke before the real one popped out of the ground and kicked Menma forward.
Menma rolled until he was back on his feet. Turning to the redhead, he roared before he sunk deeper into his crouch. Naruto watched casually from a distance as Menma's skin began peel off, revealing some sort of dark red chakra construct beneath his skin. When it was all gone, there was just a figure of deep red chakra with white eyes that just seemed to squint at him. Four tails waved behind him.
Naruto did not seem deterred. He sunk into his stance once again and rushed forward when the beast did. To his surprise he couldn't track him. He was just too fast now. On pure instinct, he slid down, causing Menma to fly over the top of him, slamming into a tree. Now within close proximity, he rushed forward before he recovered. Throwing a punch, his fist burned against the skinless creature.
Shaking it out, he back pedaled and went through hand signs. Filling his lungs, he shot out small fireballs towards the beast that just continuously dodged with relative ease. Jumping up, he used the branches to propel himself higher and higher. At the top branch, he kicked back and away from it, dodging the black ball that was heading his way. In his descent, he stared up, mesmerized by the explosion that lit the sky and momentarily stopped the rain.
Finished with his amazement at the power of the Kyubi, he flipped back around so that he would land right, but he saw Menma get right underneath him. Thinking quickly, he made another shadow clone and had it throw him back towards the tree. He stuck to it with his chakra and watched as Menma clung to it as well and began running up its side.
Cutting his chakra, he began falling towards the figure he couldn't identify properly as his brother. Opening his palm, he formed a Rasengan that quickly developed a small white blade of wind, with it a screeching sound. Menma was too far gone to even recognize what attacks were dangerous or not. He was acting out of pure rage. Naruto drove his arm forward when Menma was in range.
The wind augmented Rasengan plunged into Menma's chest, inciting a roar of pain from the monster. He was thrown to the ground painfully but got to his feet almost immediately. Naruto righted himself after the attack and clung to the side of the tree. He stared down at the beast that was already running back up. Going through hand signs, he held his palm out. As the most useful attack all day due to the conditions, a water dragon formed from the surrounding water and rushed forward.
Menma roared and slashed his claw at the head of the beast. It did disperse it, but the influx of water crashing down on him caused him to momentarily take his eyes off of his opponent. Naruto came down and planted both feet into the face of the beast, shooting them both towards the ground. Menma righted himself quickly and grabbed onto Naruto's foot before he could recover. He spun around violently before releasing the redhead, flinging him through multiple trees.
Grimacing, he stood back to his feet and dodged the lunging Menma. Figuring he could not just remain on the defensive, he rushed forward creating a hoard of regular shadow clones that lunged at the chakra shrouded Kage. The beast slashed and clawed at them, not knowing which once was real. They all dispersed in clouds of white, blinding his vision before the next attack came.
The real Naruto mingled among the group, holding back and wondering where that other clone was. Seeing Menma mowing down clone after clone, he looked around, trying to think up some kind of plan. With nothing around to use, he resigned to the inevitability of having to deal with this head on. With a shrug and a chuckle at the situation, he rushed forward along with the clones. The group threw everything they could at the chakra construct until there was eventually only five clones remaining along with Naruto himself.
They all stood around the bestial creature in their stances. Menma was crouched down with his claws dug into the mud in anticipation. With a roar, he rushed forward, slashing at one that dispersed in a cloud. Spinning around, he met the ball of flames head on, only shielding his eyes before roaring towards the one who attacked. He rushed forward and destroyed that one as well.
The ground beneath him, while mud itself, became much more liquefied and he began sinking in, clawing at the sides and roaring out in anger on his way down. Just before his head was completely submerged, he filled his lungs and let out a completely deafening scream that pushed the mud back around him, allowing him to jump out.
When he did, he located the very first Naruto he saw and ran towards him. That one dispersed just as easily before he was assaulted by a dragon made purely of mud that shot towards him and threw him back. With a roar, he got back to his crouching position and quickly disposed of two more clones before locking his eyes on another. Rushing forward, he hit this one in the stomach throwing it back. Seeing that it didn't disperse, the beast knew it was the real one. Rushing forward, it hit the tree out of the way before continuing the chase.
Naruto jumped from tree to tree, avoiding the red chakra hue as best he could. When the branch he was about to land on broke, he dropped down to the ground and slammed his hands on the floor. Instantly, a mud wall shot up. Menma was undeterred as he ran forward and smashed through it. When he did, he lost sight of the target. Naruto made his presence known when he hopped down and gave him a brutal axe kick to the back of his head.
True to its animalistic ways, the beast shook the hit off and grabbed at Naruto's leg and flung him through the remaining bits of the wall. Before he could get to his feet, he was grabbed again and thrown further through the woods. Naruto landed on his back and stared straight up into the sky. His head was in a daze and he found himself thinking about what time it must be. It was definitely nearing sundown…
Finally gaining his senses, he stood back up to see Menma stocking towards him. His entire body was in pain, but he got into his stance nonetheless. Menma roared again and ran forward. Naruto rolled back and kicked the beast over his head. Menma smacked into a tree but quickly got back up. He rushed Naruto again. Naruto gently leaned out of the way of the strike, sending the rage filled creature stumbling passed him.
When Menma turned around, there was some kind of look of animosity within those eyes of white that bubbled uncontrollably. Naruto was unaffected, he just remained in his stance. Menma roared and crouched down. Opening his mouth, Naruto could see chakra visibly pooling in front of him. He realized this was the technique from earlier. Getting ready to try and end the technique early, he sighed in relief seeing movement behind the beast.
Menma was seconds away from swallowing the ball of condensed chakra before the red chakra around him completely dispersed and the ball disappeared along with it. Menma's very injured body fell flat into the mud. His eyes and mouth wide opened in a shocked expression. Naruto sat back on his butt looking across at the clone behind him. He nodded to him and the clone dispersed, shooting its memories back to him. The seal he slapped on his back would block all contact with the beast for the next twenty-four hours. The reason it took so long was because he had to create it to where the seal would seep into Menma's skin.
Regardless, the clone got it done. Naruto stood to his feet very painfully. He dropped to his knees next to Menma and rolled him onto his back. His hands glowed green and he placed them over his chest. His breathing was very heavy as he spoke. "Oh no Hokage… we're not done yet." He said continuing on.
Slowly but surely, the red color of Menma's skin began to retreat. His face settled into a grimace at the pain he was feeling. When Naruto had finally healed him enough, he stepped back, letting the rain wake him up. Menma's eyes opened briefly before he shut them and put his forearm over them to protect from the onslaught of water droplets. Rolling over, he got to his butt and looked around.
Finally remembering what happened before he had lost it, he looked over to see Naruto leaning against a tree, trying to heal himself. With a painful groan, he tried to stand before ultimately failing. "… Why didn't you kill me?" he asked him with his voice straining in obvious pain.
Naruto just stared at the blonde with uninterested eyes. "… Had that been my goal, I would have." He said casually in that cryptic tone that Menma despised.
Shaking his head in anger and disbelief, he stared right back at him. "Then what the fuck is your goal?" he asked with a sharp edge to his voice. "Huh? Because, it doesn't seem to be making any god damned sense from over here!"
Naruto spit out the blood resting in his mouth. "My goal is to get you to understand."
"Oh, don't give me that shit!" Menma quickly replied. "What the fuck is this all for? To prove that you're better than me!? Huh? Is that it!?"
Naruto just stared at him, giving him a confused look as if he had said something strange.
"You want to show everyone how far you could get on your own, so you do all this!? Killing a Kage!? Attacking villages!? Killing your own fa-… Killing my father?"
Still, Naruto remained quiet. Staring at him as if he were a piece of art that he simply couldn't understand. As if he had a philosophical brain teaser plastered on his forehead that he just couldn't figure out.
"Do you even know what you've done? Or are you too fucking psychotic to even understand that?" Receiving no answer yet again, Menma's anger was boiling over. "Do you even fucking care!?"
Naruto turned and put his back to the tree. He stared at the ground in front of him. For a second, Menma thought he was actually feeling a bit of remorse. But, only for a second. Slowly, a smile began to creep its way onto his face. With a chuckle, his mouth opened. "Heh-.. Heh-heh!" he chuckled more. "Heh-heh-hahaha!" he began laughing. "Ha-Ha-Ha!" he bellowed out in uncontrollable laughter, lifting his head up and laughing into the sky.
Menma watched him with an angry scowl on his face. For the first time ever, he had absolutely no doubt in his mind that Naruto had lost it. He had completely and utterly lost it. He couldn't even get a word in until Naruto's laughter finally died out. "What the hell is so funny about all of this?"
Naruto's chuckles were still present, finding whatever he was laughing at just a bit too funny. When he finally contained his laughter to a degree, he answered him. "Heh-heh. I was just thinking. This would make for a great book." He said in a completely serious tone.
Menma shook his head at him. "You're a diseased maniac. Completely insane."
Naruto smiled at him. "Oh, but I'm not." He said stepping away from the tree, somewhat painfully. "No, I'm actually, if you'd believe me, completely sane… In fact, I'm much more sane than most."
Menma chuckled at that, jokingly of course. "Ha! That's the dumbest thing you've said all day. And believe me, there's a list."
Smiling at the witty statement, Naruto continued. "No, really." He said. "I am… In fact, I'd dare venture into saying that… you're the crazy one."
Menma shook his head with a grin. This was a new level of deranged he had never seen. "Oh really?" he asked with a condescending tone. "I'm the one who's quite possibly plunged the world into its fourth great war for absolutely no reason?"
Naruto tilted his head from right to left. "Well, no. But on the same note, neither have I." he said pissing him off even more. "When you say, 'for absolutely no reason', that is a personal viewpoint. Simply because your naïve little mind can't comprehend the reasoning, doesn't mean there is none."
"And you just think you're so fucking brilliant huh?" he asked in a childish way that made Naruto grin.
"Brilliant when in regards to the situation, sure. That was not meant to demean your intelligence Menma. Your naivety has become your greatest weakness which is why you refused to believe my warning."
"Because your warning is misguided…" he replied immediately, showing how sure he was in what he was saying. "The people of Konoha are good people… showing distrust to someone is what drives a wedge through the bond we all share and I know your game plans." He said as if he were right on the money. Naruto just looked at him, waiting for him to elaborate. "Knowing you, it's probably some kind of scheme to make us drive ourselves apart… and I won't fall for it."
Naruto shrugged. "In time you will know. In fact, it may be sooner than you think with the coming war about to spring to life." He said.
"Those wars have nothing to do with Konoha… we will not attack unless we are attacked and I will let the other villages know that we are remaining neutral." He stated. "If I try, I'm sure I could get through to the Kazekage before he does something reckless…" he said lowly to himself.
Naruto just shook his head. "You're foolish Menma.. and your people will pay for it." He said in disappointment. "When I began this venture… I was so sure that you were but a bystander in this cycle they created… a mere ignorant pawn that was unaware of his actions, but now I understand that you are the worst of them all."
"The worst of who?" he asked, not being on the same page as him.
"The worst of these peace keepers… you're so much more than naïve and ignorant… No, you're a true believer in this theory of order you possess. One that they created… You believe you rule the people with compassion.. and cooperation, when really.. you rule them with fear and tyranny." He explained.
"I rule the village with only compassion!" he tried to defend himself.
Naruto sighed. "Not those people Menma." He said rubbing at his head. "I mean the rest of them. The other villages… the criminals outside of your walls… the individuals who would much rather see the village fall. Whether you've noticed or not, they all bend to your will. The will of the Hokage. You rule those people through fear of power that isn't even yours alone. They fear the prowess of the people under your command, but god… if they only knew how divided they truly are."
"I do not rule those people… I… I defend the village from them.. by any means necessary…"
"Wrong again." Naruto chided. "No, you only believe you do. The problems resides in the fact that there are four more individuals who believe they do the same.. Well… three others." He said with a grin. "This world has become nothing more than a constant struggle of power. There is no life in a world such as this. Life no longer exists. There is only existence itself and its being wasted on people who would rather kill each other over the things they don't have instead of enjoying the things they do."
"For someone who hates the world, you seem to love life so much." Menma chided.
Naruto chuckled. "No-no-no. I would much rather die than remain in a world such as this. Believe that if nothing else." He said.
Menma stared at him, judging the weight of his words. "Why would you rather die than see this vision of yours come to life?" he asked him, truly confused by his brothers motives.
"It's simple Menma… this world is not for me." He said running a hand through his hair. "I don't mean that in a spiteful way, I mean it in a literal sense… I…" he looked around, unable to find the words. "I'm a night with no day… a ah… an antagonist with no true opponent…"
Menma was completely confused now. He had no idea what he meant.
"Bored, Menma." Naruto said, seeing the confusion play out on his face. "I have become bored with this dull existence… excitement ended for me many years ago… Had I the chance, I would have ended myself a long time ago. Sadly for you, I was prevented from doing so and instead had time to think over the direction this world is taking. I decided to intervene on the cusp that this world may someday become complete again. I don't have to see it for it to do so."
"So you're content with not even living to see it?" Menma asked incredulously. "What if it doesn't happen?" he asked him.
Naruto smirked. "Regardless if it does or not… I have started something… something new… something much more lasting." He said as he picked up the remaining half of his shattered mask that was conveniently nearby. "This mask here Menma… this means something… There is a reason I never named it, for it will have many names in the years to come." He said with a smile. "This served a greater purpose than simply covering my face. No… this mask is something greater… it is nothing more than an idea that order is deadly. The next wearer may have a different agenda, but their purpose will always remain the same… upset the established order"*wink*
Menma, finally found the strength to get to his feet. His legs were wobbly beneath him, but looking across the way, Naruto wasn't all there either. "Just like I'm here to stop you… someone else will do the same… because regardless of what you believe, there are good people and there will always.. be good people." He said getting into a stance.
With his breathing still slightly faster than usual, Naruto stepped forward. "Believe what you will Menma. Or believe the truth." he said rushing forward as fast as he could. Menma rushed as well and ducked beneath Naruto's wild haymaker. He tried to counter with a right hook, but Naruto caught his fist and used his arm to flip him over. Menma landed on his feet and ducked beneath the kick aimed for his head. Backing up, he avoided the follow up that slid passed him. Acting quickly, he flew in and threw a punch to Naruto's unprotected face that actually landed.
He tried to follow up, but his next punch was dodged and he was kicked in the knee, dropping him down. Before he could recover, Naruto spun around and kicked him directly in the face, sending him flying back. Menma got back up before Naruto reached him. In a moment of desperation, he tried to tackle him, but as soon as he came within range, Naruto kneed him in the face. His head snapped back painfully and he clinched his eyes shut.
Naruto let him recover, standing back and watching him. Menma took the opportunity and shook the dizziness from his head. Blinking a few times, he groaned and rushed again. Naruto dodged his two brawler style punches and jabbed him twice in the stomach. Menma hunched over and used his forearms to block the knee that came up. He recovered and feigned a right hook expertly, setting up for the back kick he landed.
Naruto was thrown to the ground and before he could get up, Menma mounted him and began beating him repeatedly. Naruto seemed to let it happen as he just put his hands out to the side. The hits grew harder and harder as Menma tried to finish the fight right now. Before the next hit could land, Naruto swung forward, hitting Menma at the bottom of his clenched fist, hurting his fingers. Menma's lapse in focus allowed Naruto to hit him in the throat before delivering a head butt.
Menma fell back and off of the redhead. Naruto got to his feet and kicked Menma back down before he could get up. He walked around to the front of him and grabbed his hair. He yanked him up to his feet and delivered a volley of punches into his mid-section. Menma once again hunched over in pain. With his head down, Naruto summersaulted and brought the back of his foot down to the back of Menma's head, slamming him into the floor.
They both laid there in the mud. Naruto looking up to the still raining sky, and Menma with his face in the brown slush below. Naruto took a few breathes before he rolled over painfully. Surprisingly, Menma made it to his feet just as he did. Naruto groaned and hit him in the gut. Menma took the hit and socked him across the jaw. Naruto came back and returned the favor. Menma roared in anger and swung two hits at him that both missed. He felt Naruto sink down and poke his legs, but he didn't feel it until he tried to step forward.
Both of his legs gave out and he hit his knees in confusion. While on his knees, he tried for a desperate swing, but Naruto dodged it and quickly jabbed at two specific points on his arm. The appendage fell limp to his side. He groaned and hesitantly lifted the other fist. With absolutely no confidence to speak of, he threw it forward lazily. Naruto grabbed his wrist and kneed the back of his elbow breaking the appendage.
"All I ever wanted was for you to understand…" he said staring at his downed form. Menma just stared at the ground in front of him, accepting defeat. "… That's what this was about… pulling you from the ignorance you were living in…"
Menma rolled his head back. "Maybe I preferred it that way…" he muttered out.
Naruto chuckled. "Heh… of course you did… but, change was coming regardless... They would have waited for Tou-san and perhaps Kakashi to die off before they made their move…" He said, still speaking about this so called revolution.
"You don't get it…" Menma said, almost laughing at the irony. "heh… heh… As smart as you are.. and you can't figure it out…" Naruto just waited, wondering what it was he was talking about. "Konoha… is a nation built on trust… we are built on family.. companionship… We are not built on this.. s-struggle for power like you say we are… The Uchiha clan? They've always been close friends to our family… The words of a traitor will not change the way I view them… especially given his track record…"
Naruto shook his head. "Menma… I could not get you to understand… You're too strong willed for such a thing… for a long time… I had thought I shared the likeness to that character.. in Jiraiya's book… just because we shared the same name… I thought the book was describing me… In truth, it's you…" he muttered out between his pain stricken breathes. "You have faith in your people… I am telling you now Menma… that faith is misplaced and if you're not careful… those.. civilized people of yours… they'll eat each other."*wink*
Menma just shook his head and smiled at him. "No… Naruto… I'm sorry I couldn't get you to understand… You've been living your entire life… with a distain for people… then, meeting Itachi was like a breath of fresh air to you. Then.. when he was taken away, it was like someone ripped that air right out of your body…"
Naruto looked at him in confusion. "Touching, but wrong." He said with a small chuckle. "No… when he was taken away… it was like giving sight to the blind… I began to see the world for what it was. I began to view everything the way it was meant to be… not the way they said it is." He said, once again infuriating Menma with that cryptically difficult dialect. "I received one eye that day, and.. 'In a Kingdom of the blind, the one eyed man is King'…" He let that statement hang in the air for a few seconds, clutching at his sides. Everything within him was possibly broken at this point.
Menma remained silent, his mind trying to tell him whether he should believe him or not. There was no solid answer in his heart that he could lean to. If he were to believe this, he would be incriminating Sasuke… his best friend and newly made brother in law… what would Mito think… where would she stand if this whole thing actually came to fruition? He looked up to the eyes of his brother and for some reason, believed him whole heartedly… it was only when he looked away did he doubt his words.
"The people of today… they're weak." He said suddenly. "Thousands of shinobi within each of the villages… thousands." He said, accenting it when he said it the second time. "-and look what I could do with just a few hundred men and a paper bomb… There were many things I could've done… I could have taken each village's most beloved person and executed them with another nation's headband on… I could have disrupted the order of the mission income. That seems to do it… All those are great and all for starting a war… but that's not what I did." He said. "No… I proved a point… Even the individuals tasked with the lives of thousands are no different than me… a series of bad events.. and they're at the doorstep of madness… So.. when you call me a freak… or a psychopath… or whatever else you want… I urge you to look across that battle field at your fellow Kage. Watch that madness play out within their eyes and tell me how wrong I am…"
Menma sat back on his heels and stared up at the sky. Naruto's true intentions were just unveiled. Over all of the crap they were told, he knew that this was real. That was his plan all along. To prove the point that everyone was just like him. He wasn't trying to prove that point to anyone else but himself. Now, Menma understood. This whole ploy, this entire game was just a way to prove his own sanity before he died.
"You're right." Menma said with exhaustion lacing his tone. Naruto stared at him, clutching at his aching body, no chakra left to heal himself. "You're not insane…" Menma said, seemingly understanding. "Everyone has been telling you that… possibly since Itachi died… but, you're not… given the circumstances… I would have done the same thing." He said staring out through the trees.
Naruto chuckled and stepped closer to him. Menma shut his eyes, believing this to be the end. Then, in a moment of déjà vu, Naruto rubbed his head. "There you go buddy… Now you got it." With that said, Naruto walked by him, heading out of the foliage of trees.
Menma remained in his spot, not that he could move much anyways. Those words, he remembered them so clearly. Years ago.
Sitting on the couch in between Naruto's legs, Menma stared at the pictures on the page of the book in front of him. Mito was leaning on Naruto's shoulder looking as well. "Then, when all seemed lost. The prince came flying back in, using his shield to block the dragon's furious fire breath." Naruto read. Menma smiled in excitement. "The princess thanked him and asked for his sword. When he gave it to her, they waited for the dragon's fire breath to run out before they attacked. The prince let the princess get on top of his shield and he threw her up towards the monster. With a strike of her mighty sword, she cut his head off!" Naruto said triumphantly, receiving dual shouts of amazement from the two four year olds.
"Yeah! That was so cool Nii-san!" Menma said turning around to look him in the eyes. Naruto smiled at him and nodded his head.
"The princess was the best!" said Mito with pride. "She killed the dragon."
Of course, Menma protested. "Nuh-uh! She only killed him because the prince let her!" he yelled in the defense of his favorite character.
Naruto smiled at the ridiculous argument, but let them fight it out for the time being as he found a new book to read. It was a much more difficult book with words that Naruto himself probably shouldn't know at this age. Sometime soon, Menma snuck up next to him to see what he was reading.
His eyes locked onto the title written in bold letters at the top of every page. "Conn-vvoo- lou-tead W- are?" he asked trying to sound it out.
Naruto chuckled and shook his head. "It says Convoluted War Menma." He corrected him. Menma opened his mouth in a silent 'Oh' and a nod.
"…What does that mean?" he asked suddenly.
Naruto brought the book down to think about that. He knew what it meant, he just didn't know how to explain it. "It means… difficult to understand… intricate.. I guess." He said realizing he used an even more difficult word to explain it.
"Well… what does that mean?" Menma asked, noticing this as well.
Naruto chuckled and rubbed his head in thought. "It means uh… it means the same thing Menma." He said with a shake of his head. "Hard to understand."
"Like… using big words." He said, giving a rudimentary definition of it.
Naruto was actually impressed. He sort of got it. "Yeah…" he said staring at him in surprise. He messed his hair up. "There you go buddy, you got it." He said hearing his mom call them for dinner. Menma smiled and ran off, yelling to his mom that he learned a new word. Naruto shook his head and put the book away.
Standing at the edge of a cliff, Naruto gazed out to the sea. It looked so beautiful right now. It resembled exactly what he was fighting for. The chaos of the waves finding unison among the ocean's surface. No one forcing it to be something it was not, no one commanding it… It was free…
Hearing footsteps charging towards him, he assumed them to belong to his mother. Turning his head slightly, he was right as he watched her charge him with a sword in hand, ready to end his life. He smiled softly and shut his eyes. Turning back towards the sea, he awaited the blade patiently. Each footstep like a timer, counting down the inevitable. He found delight in this moment. Almost peaceful for a few more seconds before the end of his short lived life. His existence was so much smaller than he hoped it would be, but such is life.
The footsteps were just behind him now, still charging with conviction and sorrow leaking from the source. Just as the last footstep ended behind him, so did everything else. Naruto opened his eyes, realizing he was not impaled or decapitated yet. Over the rain, he could hear what sounded like snickering. Peeking back slowly, he saw the top of his mother's head, hiding her eyes from his view. What's more, he saw the blade in her hands, trembling as it pointed towards his back. It became obvious that she wasn't snickering to muffle a laugh…
Turning around completely, he stared at the woman as her body quaked in a mix of sadness and regret. He gazed at her, remarking within his mind how fragile she seemed in this moment. There was a time when she was without a doubt the strongest woman he knew. Now what was she? A victim to the clutches of pain. Nothing more than a bag of flesh and bone, compacted within the hell that is human emotions.
"…Even after everything I've done… you hesitate…" he said in pure confusion. It wasn't exactly pleasant, but he expected to die in that moment. He fully expected to die by his mother's hands. He kidnapped her granddaughter and murdered her husband. What more could he do to warrant hatred on an unparalleled scale?
Kushina's face refused to look up and it was like some supernatural force was pushing her arms back, keeping her from thrusting the sword forward. Tears leaked from her vehemently crying visage. Her entire body shook and she couldn't make it stop. "I ca-… I c…" she couldn't even choke out her words. They refused to leave her mouth.
Naruto watched the conflict within her heart play out. Faced with vengeance or redemption, her heart refused to tell her what to do. Such was the struggle of life.
"I-haha!" she yelled out in a cry that was so heartbreaking it sounded like a laugh. "I c-Can't… do it!" she yelled out finally. "I can't do-…" she said, opening her mouth in a silent scream. The sword was still pointing at his bare chest as he stared down at her. Her words wouldn't be heard for a long while. Her tears wouldn't allow her the option to speak.
She clenched her eyes so tightly, praying that when she finally opened them, this would be all over and she'd be sitting at the dinner table with her entire family, including Naruto. She and Minato would serve the plates and listen to Mito and Menma arguing while Naruto read his book aloud to the grandchildren who would listen intently. That's all she wanted out of life. Was she selfish for wanting something so beautiful?
Before she knew it, she could feel her sword shake, as if someone were grabbing it. It wiggled and pushed back against her slightly. Her eyes remained clenched and her body continued to tremble beyond her control. The rain beat down on her with a vengeance, but for some reason she couldn't hear it. She couldn't hear anything but a soft thud. It was a really soft thud. Resounding rhythmically. 'bum-bum… bum-bum'
Opening her eyes slightly, she saw nothing more than the blade… piercing the bare chest of her son. His right hand wrapped tightly around the bottom end of it, ignoring the way it was sawing into his hand. Her forehead was resting just above where his heart would be. The tears continued, even increasing in its intensity as she held onto the hilt of the blade.
Slowly, his other hand came into view and covered her hands gently. He softly removed her hands from the blade, leaving it jammed within his body. He took a timid step back as if testing the waters. Then, he took a few more. Kushina was shell shocked as she stared at him backing towards the edge. Her eyes met his and in a flicker of something, she noticed how much more like his old self they looked. Maybe it was the true smile he was sending her way.
She wanted nothing more than to reach out right now and grab him. Tell him everything would be ok by tomorrow. Promise him that nothing bad would ever happen to him, and that she would always be there for him. How ridiculous would that be…
Naruto smiled once more to her, steadily retreating as he held onto the swords blade. "Goodbye… Kaa-san…" he said slowly. Just like that, he fell back. Kushina lost sight of him when he disappeared among the edge of the cliff. That would be the last time she heard him call her that, even though she lost the right to such a title many years before.
Kushina dropped to her knees and covered her mouth before the scream that rested at the back of her throat was released with the air she took in. She lost him twice, this time for good. Why did it hurt so much more the second time around?
Before she knew it, Menma was holding her in a comforting hug from behind, guessing what happened by the blood running down with the rain. He shut his eyes and mourned the loss of his brother. A man who lived his life in the shadows of his own mind and spent half his life being called insane.
Even after all this, he still loved him… Truly shows the obscurity of human emotions and how tightly bound they are. That was his brother… and he would never see him again. What's worse, he couldn't even decide how he wanted to remember him. As he was back when he was living in ignorance… or how he truly was? Regardless, he still had family to care for. Getting his mother to her feet, they walked off. The rain covering the tracks of their tears. When they made it to the shore line, there was a boat Menma hadn't noticed before, waiting for them. He questioned where it came from but took it none the less.
Naruto stared up to the surface of the water as he sunk deeper and deeper. The water even looked beautiful from down here… it was just a lot darker. He could hear nothing but the trembling of the water as the rain beat down on top of it. His entire life began to flash before his eyes. Granted, it wasn't much, but it was a taste of life and the feeling of death which he has experienced time and time again. This would be the last time for a long while.
His pain was no more… his struggles were gone and he did exactly what he set out to do. He tossed a stone into the calm surface of the pond they were living in. That first stone would in time incite others to do the same until the world settled back in to what it was meant to be. A world of freedom. A world of fairness. A world of chaos. Slowly, his vision began to blur. His eyes began to flutter shut and he could feel his end. The world was so beautiful… and he couldn't wait to see it once more.
His eyes opened again, he was now standing back on the cliff, watching the boat his mother and brother left on as it drifted away in the boat he placed there just a few moments ago. His mask back in place and unscathed. He smiled when the memories of what happened rushed back to him. As emotionless as he seems to be, his clones definitely take on a mind of their own. Even knowing what they are, they tend to get emotional towards the end of their life.
He watched his two family members leave, praying they heard his words. The world he sought would spell bad news for them if they didn't, but he knew that regardless of anything he said, Menma heard him. He had a family to care for. Whether he believed him completely or not, that uneasiness was placed within his heart. The roots of rebellion were deeply woven within Konoha's core. When the world was tossed into war once more, Menma would be ready. He had faith in him.
As he stood there in the rain, staring out to the blur of the distance, no longer able to see the boat. A slender hand snaked its way onto his shoulder. Ino, with her mask resting on the top of her head, leaned her temple onto his shoulder as they stared out to the sea together. "You know, you really should have put more chakra into my clone." She said with a smile.
Naruto chuckled and removed his own. "Ah, I think you did fine with the amount you had." He said pecking her lips.
She gave him an unconvinced smile and shook her head. "Yeah. Ok." She mocked slyly.
Naruto just shrugged at her unconvinced demeanor. "Well, Dr. Yamanaka." He said turning her and placing his hands on her hips. Ino smiled and wrapped hers around the back of his neck. "I've got a bear skinned rug date waitin' for us wherever we go." He said making her smile. "Just say where and we can spend the rest of our lives watching this madness unfold."
Ino looked around in thought before she just shrugged. "Let's just get in the boat and drift away… wherever we land is where we stay." She said.
"Dangerous, poetic, and reckless, but I love it." He said leaning forward and pecking her lips gently. "Let's go lose our minds." He said receiving a giggle from her.
"One more thing mister." She said taking his mask from the top of his head. She took hers off too and used a piece of ninja wire to tie them off through the eye holes. "For the next psychopaths who happen to find love." She said kissing the forehead of Naruto's. She then tossed them to the ocean, allowing them to drift away with the waves. Leaving the next wearers up to the direction of destiny.
(1 year later)
True to his plan, the world fell apart. When the remaining Kage returned to their villages, they found them already reminiscent of war zones. Apparently they had been attacked by unmarked shinobi and a few rogues. It was unexpected and left them all crippled. This did not deter the Kage from taking the actions they sought to term. It only forced their hand even more.
The first to attack was Kumo who went for the one nation unscathed throughout the whole ordeal, Kiri. While they fought, Suna went for Iwa, who in turn went for Konoha upon receiving the deceased body of their Kage. Konoha was quickly targeted and they were crumbled even faster due to the impromptu civil war they were thrusted into. The clans split and went their own ways, finding refuge in hiding. Menma and his family, including his mother and sister, went along with a few of the other clans, finding strength in a few numbers they could actually trust.
With the fall of Konoha, there was a rise in power among only Kumo as everyone saw it as the second best and most likely to hold the top spot. So, in a joint effort of Suna and Kiri, Kumo soon fell as well. With them out of the way and Iwa essentially left in ruins, the last two remaining shinobi villages tore themselves apart. Kiri was the first to fall, but Suna was not far behind.
Every individual present that day held a new level of respect for the monster that sent them down this path. Naruto Namikaze became an infamous title, and the mask he wore was the new standard of a monster. His deed was recounted and exaggerated in many different ways by almost everyone who had attended. It spread throughout the elemental nations with a vengeance, picking up steam as it went along. Within just a year, it became almost an old folktale. An implausible tale of psychological warfare on an unparalleled scale.
There were a few attempts to establish some kind of set civilizations, but as if it be by Naruto's design himself, they were all thwarted by individuals who did think like him. Individuals who believed he was right in his thinking. Chaos was a new thing to them because in this way, everyone was equal. There was a lot of violence and bloodshed, but there was also a lot of unquestioned companionship as people found themselves within the clutches of the hell around them. It was a world of freedom for all.
As for the two pioneers of such an age, they resided within a hideout in rice country. Their appearances drastically different from the way they used to be. Naruto had dyed his hair back to blonde, and Ino cut the red tips off. They looked far similar to how they did years ago. When things were worse in a way.
They lived a simple life as new parents, making their own food and watching the world tear itself apart, just as they knew it would. Crazy to think that it all started with a book or two. A young boy who read a lot gained the will to change the world he knew was killing itself. Witnessing the so called false gods was the fuel to his rage and their ignorance the match. He tossed the first stone and knew for a fact he would not be the last.
AN: There we go