Note: Due to personal reasons, I no longer have a computer of my own, so, after agreeing to finally finish this thanks to the poking of my friend, Lou, I have finally decided to get to the point and end this once and for all. The last part will be the end of this fanfic. If you are all wondering how I am updating this fic after a whole year of being absent, first because of being lazy, and second because of these... particular personal issues, Lou here was kind enough to be the instrument I required to put this up! So... since this chapter really is kinda rushed, but hopefully not rushed enough. Lou and I wanted to end this fanfic with dignity so-- hopefully we didn't screw it up TOO much...

Louie was also kind enough to beta this for me. Thanks Lou!


CHAPTER VIX

Death

It has been quite a while, ever since the dark days had gone by like feathers shifting through a shadowed window, peeking from the outside world to spy the people through the window…

Days ever since he met Sasuke's happy family…

Days ever since he met his son...

Days ever since that kiss with Hinata, who was supposed to be happily married to Neji…

Of course, Naruto couldn't bear the thought of ever cheating on his only friend, so, dashing away at the hopes of having a happy life with a lovely woman like Hinata, he quickly dismissed a hopeful flutter of his heart and refused her advances. It was inevitable, and he knew, right away, that a person like him—didn't precisely need a romantic link to anybody just to be happy.

Indeed, his hopes had gone up in flames… his dreams… his very purpose… but after purely dark days of self-pity and extreme loathing of his fate, he had finally passed through the phase of peace (kind of… but Bosatsu was quite a big help on this part. Like some sort of…double personality—and he still thought he was crazy)—right through the clutches of a new purpose.

See, people have this sense to be important; a sense to be human; a sense to feel like a normal human (although, often trying to not be normal at all), a sense to feel that they're important to a someone, anyone

And Naruto finally decided that… that if it was impossible to be important to one person, such as Sakura or Hinata, then he'd go back to his roots and be important to everyone.

No matter how they felt about him.

No matter how estranged he felt from them.

Because he was Naruto, and his purpose was to protect. And for now, he must protect Sakura and Jinu from Sasuke—and he can keep his Rokudaimebedamned.

Now, mostly these dark days were enriched by the times he and Bosatsu trained, and until now he still couldn't quite grasp the jutsu perfectly, but hey… he'd tackle it just in time for a very hard…

"Ow!" Naruto cringed, rubbing his foot and glaring at the damn… tree… before him, silently cursing. He grudgingly thought about how he could possibly defeat the damn Rokudaime if he kept hitting his either one of his feet on—on something.

A giggle behind him made him roll his eyes and look at the little person who was still laughing to his heart's content behind him, "Very funny, Jinu…"

"Naruto-chan's funny…"

"I bet I am!" Naruto tussled the boy's hair up a bit (as a kind of revenge) and smiled goofily, "Who's the funniest dumbass you've ever met?"

Jinu just grinned at him and turned to a familiar sound: "Jinu! Hey!"

"Okaa-san!"

Before the child could give his reply, surely to boost the older man's ego rather that to exactly tell the truth, Sakura arrived just in time to interrupt his babysitting duties. Still clad in her uniform—he had to take note the facts as to why she was still on his mind constantly, even after all these… things happened. Hell, if she could single-handedly pluck a child flying through the air, Naruto couldn't doubt that she'd be capable of doing other things…

'… damn you pervert-sennin…'

"Naruto!" Sakura said, pleased that she got to catch him in a very good mood, "So you guys are just hanging about, hm?"

"Hey, the kids like me!" Naruto said smugly, raising his hands as if he were lord of everything with four limbs,

Sakura nodded mockingly, laughing along with the child in her arms as if they knew something along the lines of 'in your dreams'"I bet they do…" she rolled her eyes, turning to the little one, "Say goodbye to the lord of all immature brats!"

"G'bye, king of all immature brats!"

… he had to admit, this day was quite interesting. Perhaps he was getting used to it after all.

"Naruto…" Sakura turned back on him and smiled, "Go out-- escape, why don't ya?"

He smiled.


Of course, other than the interesting training hours with the strange man Bosatsu, this was actually not too strange for anyone, especially for him. So, walking along the paths of road, his destination unknown, letting his feet take him towards the roads flush of mystery, he decided that getting lost would be more exciting than, well, just laying around on his back all day. Naruto sniffed the air around him and smirked. It wouldn't hurt to go around visiting old friends again, and seeing what they're up to, even if it was just for a couple of minutes of mutual 'Hellos' and 'goodbyes', it still felt pretty bright for him.

And, to only add to his current joy: Bosatsu was no where to be found… currently.

Sure, the old crap-geezer was interesting once in a while, but he tended to loose his privacy and all, and not to mention the fact that he started to question his sanity. That person… thing… whoever or whatever he was… why…

Naruto shook his head and frowned. If there was one thing that he learned from just these past few days, it was better for him to not dwell on dark subjects too much, and at least dedicate most of his time to try and forget his current position in life—and, of course, not dismissing the fact that he already had those line of thoughts about Bosatsu earlier, just in the brink of morning…

People around him, about him… being themselves and taking everything they have for granted—until, of course, some strange thing happens to them in the middle of the forest and they wake up years into the future like some demented, time traveling—

"Naruto,"

Yes… he knew that voice.

Suddenly his bright day fell into a rather tumultuous earthquake and shattered, his stomach dropping, colder than death itself. This always happened whenever Neji bothered to talk to him about random things—but he couldn't help but…

'Does he know?'

'When will he confront me about it?'

'The only friend I have.'

And this time, turning his head toward the man, he couldn't help but feel his expression was colder than normal—that, or he was just feeling the pangs of guilt and paranoia, all mixed into one pure muck.

"Naruto…"

A pause. A thousand breaths were suddenly wedged between them all at once, and he had just noted that they were smack right in the middle of the street, staring at each other with people around them just going around their two, rigid bodies.

He knew.

Fuck.

"Naruto…"

And this day just plummeted down to the top of his 'worst day ever' list—and considering his current life, that was quite impressive.

And he couldn't help but think that this day was going along too fast. Too overhwhelming…

Like he was some sort of puppet—and he couldn't possibly fathom what god could do this to him with all these sadistic realities splashed onto him like red letters… while more of these just seemingly spread their ghostly hands toward his face anew.

"We need to talk,"


Neji and him were silent.

Wait: Neji and him were silent with this stillness still tucked between them like a log.

And they were sitting at his favorite ramen place… a place which he'd ignore for just a couple of weeks until this ghastly memory just melts away from his—

"Why?"

"I didn't…"

"Don't—just…" Neji grabbed his face with both his palms, a face full of gray and exhaustion… "I'd stick to… to all the things I told you before. Revenge, at this point, is useless… it's better for us to—"

"I understand—I mean," and he was indeed relieved that his ass wasn't going to be served to him on a silver platter (for now, that is, if he played the strings correctly), "I'm… never intended for this to—"

"Please, Uzumaki." Neji, this time, looked at him stonily, haunted eyes trying to dispel any feeling of sentimentality, "I don't think that we should… meet each other anymore."

And, quicker than the whole 'good day gone sour' thing which had just happened, Neji left him—pregnant with raging emotions and a sudden bitter vile of sadness. It had all exploded within him, and he couldn't help twist his knuckles on his forehead and just…

'You ruined it this time, kit…'

'not now, kyubi.'

Not now…

This was pitiful. Uzumaki Naruto's downfalls were being thrown at him hour after hour after hour… and it was getting quite ridiculous.

"Something troubling you, lad?"

"Cheuh… shit happens," he mumbled,

Someone was out to get him.

"I know what you mean," the young man at the ramen stand, obviously new, placed a steaming bowl of ramen in front of Naruto… who failed to stir an inch, "When life gives you lemons, throw a kunai at it and hope that it sprays towards the guy who you hate so much,"

"Hm." Naruto grumbled, not bothering to look up from his bowl, he really wasn't up for talk, and was even contemplating about running away from this idiot but…

Yes. He let the words drown out, closed his eyes, and listened: 'Pull yourself together, Naruto, talk to Neji and everything will turn out fine…'

He was tired of moping, anyways…

"I mean, ladies… what're you gonna do?"

"Mhm."

"And sometimes, friends could be such assholes that Naruto the world shifts below."

"M…. h—what?"

"Hm?"

Naruto could've sworn that Bosatsu… well, he couldn't have just jerked his head toward the annoying person for no reason. He just… did he just say something weirder than what he just said earlier or—?

"You said something…"

"Wh—"

Senses.

Ninja senses tingling.

Could feel air… hear it… whizzing… something…

Someone was out to get him.

Naruto jerked back on his chair on time, ignoring the rough scrape of the stool's legs thick upon the floor, as a couple of shuriken flew just an ear away from him and hit the other guy who just served him ramen

Someone was out to get him.

"Well, well… what have we here…"

Sasuke.

"The master and pupil… reunited at last…"

Naruto's shocked blue eyes dared tear away his eyes from the seemingly godly form of the Rokudaime and gave out a sharp hiss of breath. How was it that the annoying young man, just before who was talking to him senselessly about how sucky life was (and something about lemonade), is now… a bloody…

"B—Bos—"

"Clever of you to sneak around under my nose, training him now... are we?"

Sasuke sneered…

… his perfect, flawless form melting away. Melting away into something else. A younger man—wearing the black clothes he used to wear back in the days; but now, with a blood-red crest blazing on his forehead like a red letter… a something or other. Symbolic, actually, that the perfect world around him had suddenly burned away and had turned into a confusing, chaotic quagmire of a something. Of a something.

Naruto's eyes steeled.

Suddenly the world around him sifted into a desert of sorts… absolutely desolate of life, of reality… with only the three of them, including a bloody Bosatsu, present.

He observed the panoramic spectacle which was idly laid before him by some god who also wished that all this atrocity should end— when he noticed something. It wasn't something a normal (as in an amateur) ninja would see as if it was standing there in front of their faces, but perhaps it was something Kakashi would have seen if he was standing there with him right now.

"I enjoyed pulling your strings around for a bit, but then I realized that I have gotten a bit too far…"

Uchiha's dark gaze never faltered.

And neither did Naruto's.

Because all of a sudden, facts had suddenly splayed out, and he felt himself idiotic enough to fall into this… sort of practical joke.

A deadly practical joke… for Uchiha…

'Rokudaime'

'Otou-san'

'Sakura's husband'

'Hero of Konoha who had… heh… supposedly stopped two wars from happening…'

… and was responsible for creating an emotional war within him.

"You almost cost me my life by my own hands…"

"I play dirty."

"You don't play by the rules."

"A fight doesn't have any rules."

"Lucky that I know that, too, bastard."

"So, Naruto, how was my little reality for you, hm?"


A/N: I'm not that well tuned in the Naruto-verse, especially in JJ's universe (which is demented). I do remember that he was cursing some of the stuff thingies here that he did and... stuff... self-crit, heeheh.

anyhoo. I'm not good with this thing so yeah. Please ignore some of the mistakes I made and stuff, and I hope it's good enough!


Jack- To the Heaven & Earth Crew: Hey guys! I miss you all very much! Every. Bloody. One of you. I even named some of my uncle's chickens after you :D (don't tell)! Due to obvious reasons :looks at Krazy knowingly and smirks dementedly: I have decided to finally end this because of... well... certain stuff in the reviews. Louie kept bugging to me about it and-- well-- we decided to collab (hopefully he wasn't kidding about those reviews but... oh whatever). I'll try to contact you whenever I could grab the chance! Love, Jack (ps. the last chapters are dedicated to you guys!)