After two years, Naruto returns to a village unwilling to accept him. He is shown unsettling truths about Konoha, and when he sees the outcome of Sasuke's latest ambition he loses hope and leaves the doomed village. There is still one last chance to keep Naruto from falling into the same darkness as Sasuke has. Can Hinata keep his spirit alive?
Rated T for: Language and violence.
Pairings: NarutoxHinata, SakuraxLee, maybe others (Tiny NarutoxIno)
Main Genre: Drama/Romance (Maybe angst? If you could call it that.)
Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto.
IMPORTANT NOTES: Multichap.
-Chapter 1: Over the Edge-
Two figures approached the gates to Konoha. One tall with long white hair. One shorter with messy blonde hair and telltale whisker-marks on his face.
"So we're finally home." Naruto smiled slightly. This will be interesting.
"Open the gates!" Jiraiya yelled up at the ANBU guards.
"State your name." The guard poofed down to the ground in front of them, then realized who they were. "Jiraiya-sama! My apologies, I didn't realize it was you."
"No problem. Can we enter?"
The guard looked down at the boy next to the Sannin and saw a taller, but otherwise unchanged Naruto. It's the Kyuubi kid, what's he doing back here? "Yes, you may enter."
Jiraiya and Naruto walked into the village, which appeared completely unchanged from two and a half years earlier, save for the fact that Tsunade's face hung on the monument with a solemn look on her face, just like all the previous Hokages.
"It's gonna be weird without Tsunade-obaachan..." He stared solemnly at the stone carving. His voice was deeper now than it was three years ago, and he actually sounded a little older than fifteen.
"Yes Naruto. It will be..." Jiraiya sighed and looked up at the monument as well. "It happens to everyone. People die."
"Yeah... I just never imagined it could happen to her." His gaze returned to the path in front of them and he hid his emotions like a good ninja. His eyes no longer held the same warmth that they had before. It was still there, somewhere... But he had buried it with the rest of his feelings.
"Naruto, this is part of being Hokage. A Hokage must be willing to give his or her life for the village."
"But, Tsunade was killed by an assassin. Not defending the village."
"There are things that we may never understand. The Sannin have been reduced to two, and we must simply accept it. The answers will come soon enough. For now though, I'm going to report our arrival to the Sixth Hokage."
Naruto knew what that really meant and put on a sarcastic smile. "Information gathering, huh?"
Jiraiya coughed a little. "That does not concern you."
"Okay, Whatever. I'm going to go see some old friends."
He walked down the streets of Konoha that cloudy day. People instantly recognized him as the 'demon boy' and he received the familiar hateful glares. Although it didn't show, the stares had more effect than when he had left. He had hoped that when he returned, the citizens hearts would have been softened toward him. But that was not to be.
He arrived at Ichiraku ramen and had a short chat with Ayame and the old man, feeling somewhat reassured because they didn't hate him. When he had finished his sixteen bowls of ramen, he paid, thanked them for the meal and headed off to his next destination: Konoha Ninja Academy.
"Iruka-sensei!" He smiled widely, seeing his father-figure for the first time in years.
"N-Naruto!" he had a smile matching that of his old pupil. "You've returned!"
Naruto's gaze drifted over the class in front of his old teacher, it consisted of the Konohamaru Corp., a small Hyuuga girl and many other eleven-year-olds. He looked back at the front of the room and noticed someone else.
Iruka's assistant teacher stared in shock at the blonde boy that had entered the room. Hey lavender eyes fixated on his face. "N-Naruto-kun..."
"Hinata!" He smiled at her and lifted his hand in greeting. "Long time no see."
Words weren't coming to her mouth, but fortunately for her Konohamaru decided to speak up.
"Heh, Oi Konohamaru!" He turned to see his adopted little-brother. "Good to see you." He noticed something about the boy now, he had all his teeth for one thing. But he also stood rather tall. "Hey, that's not fair. I wasn't that tall when I was twelve, and you're just ten or eleven!"
Konohamaru smiled proudly. "And I'm stronger than you were, too."
"Okay class, you can all go outside for recess. I suggest you all go train in something. Other teachers will be out there to help you with anything you might need." Iruka instructed. "Come back in half an hour. That should be enough time for some light training I think."
"Yes, Sensei!" The kids all ran outside, but they weren't going to waste any time training. It was time to play. But the Konohamaru Corps stayed to catch up with their big brother.
I wonder what was wrong with Hinata... Hanabi wondered to herself. She didn't seem frightened really, just... ehh whatever, I'll ask her later. She went out to train with her Shuriken throwing like the diligent ninja she was and forgot all about her sister for the moment.
Back in the classroom, Naruto, Iruka, Hinata and the Konohamaru Corps were happily talking. Well, all but Hinata, who was too shy to say anything more than an occasional 'Yes'.
Suddenly, Naruto's expression became a bit more serious. "Hey, Iruka-sensei?"
"About Tsunade..." he looked at him dead in the eye. "Why...?"
"That's part of her job. Hokage is supposed to protect the village with her life."
"That's what everyone says, but she didn't do anything for the village by dying like that."
Hinata noticed the comforting warmth in his eyes disappear, she thought that suddenly he seemed like someone who had seen far too much in his lifetime. And little did she know, she was right. He was more willing to kill his enemies now, and had done so on multiple occasions. And besides that, he had seen more at fifteen years old than most people ever have to see in their life, many ninjas included.
"Naruto, we may not know why it happened... but it did. We will always remember her, she did not die for naught. Her two apprentices are still here with us and working hard at the hospital." He smiled a little. "Sakura has blossomed in recent years. Her own medical powers may not be anything like Tsunade-sama's were, but her potential is greater than that of our late Hokage."
Naruto smiled lightly at the mention of his childhood crush. "Yeah, you're right Iruka-sensei."
Hinata saw him brighten up at the mention of the pink-haired girl and slumped. Does he still like her? What if he loves Sakura?
"Hinata? You seem sad, are you okay?" He loosened his metaphorical mask a little bit more since they weren't on that sad subject anymore, letting his worry show through.
"I'm... I'm fine, Naruto-kun." She smiled reassuringly.
"Okay... Well, I'm off to the hospital to see Sakura-chan and Shizune-ne-chan."
"Hey, Naruto. I'll take you out for ramen tomorrow night, deal?"
"Sweet! I'll hold you to your word, Iruka-sensei." He smiled and left the school, heading off to the nearby hospital.
"You still love him, don't you?" Iruka smiled at his temporary assistant, what he said was making her blush shades that she hadn't blushed in years.
"Yes... I do..."
"He'll get it someday, just give him time."
Naruto continued down the road to the hospital to see his old crush. Over the years, the feelings had changed. He still admired her, but love wasn't a priority to him anymore. He realized now that there are more important things.
"Is Sakura-chan here?" He asked the lady at the desk.
"Yes, hold on." She recognized him as well, but tried not to let it show, and politely told him where to go to find the pink-haired girl.
"Thanks!" He replied politely, not letting her know that he was aware of her attitude toward him. He knew what she thought of him, she was just like all the other villagers.
That kid's back again. She watched him walk quickly down the halls. Things should get interesting soon, I guess...
"Sakura-chan!" He called when he saw her walking along to her next patient. "Can I walk with you?"
"Naruto!" She smiled at seeing her old friend again. "When did you get back?"
She glared at him. "You didn't come to see me first did you?" She suspected such a move, after all.
"No, I saw Ayame and old man Ichiraku first!" He smiled indignantly.
"Of course..." She drooped her head a little. "Still with the ramen..."
"Well, yeah but then I went to see Iruka-sensei. I saw Hinata there too, she hasn't changed a bit."
"Really?" She perked up a little. I'll bet she was happy to see him.
"Yeah. She still just as shy and weird as she was before."
Sakura's eye twitched involuntarily. "Whatever..." After talking like this, Sakura got a little more serious. "Naruto, have you gone to meet the Hokage yet?" She asked, noticing the immediate transformation he underwent that moment. Suddenly he seemed to know more than he wanted to.
Every time something that would normally make him burst out in random noise or make him sad happened, he would now don his 'new mask' as nobody called it. It was different from his usual mask in that it didn't make him look an idiot. But it didn't show anything at alll, except to those who cared for him most.
Only those that cared for him were able to notice the change from warmth to dead cold. Only Jiraiya, Hinata, Iruka and Sakura had noticed it so far, but none of them knew what it meant. None of them had ever thought that there was someone else under the happy, noisy kid.
"No..." He said simply. "I haven't."
"Well you should, he's different than the other Hokages were, but he's a very strong ninja."
"How is he different?" He already knew how. The new Hokage was not as kind-hearted as the previous ones. He could tell that was what she meant by the tone of her voice.
"He's... more efficient." She chose her words carefully. "He may seem like some stuck-up ass sometimes, but he really has the village's best intentions at heart."
"We'll see..." He stared into her eyes and she saw something she had never seen before. Even at the funeral of the Third Hokage, he had not seemed so solemn.
Fortunately, someone else rounded the corner and saw them.
"Shizune-sama." Sakura smiled at her medical partner. "Look who's back!"
Naruto suddenly was back to his happy self again and turned with a smile on his face. "Oi, Shizune-nee-chan!"
"When did you get back?" She asked the boy.
"Really? That's great!"
After he had seen Shizune and Sakura, he decided it was time to get some new clothes. His current training suit was beaten and torn up. Unluckily for him, he didn't remember which stores he was forbidden in, and which ones merely tolerated him at best.
He walked into a clothing store and started browsing through some stuff, only to be spotted quickly by the clerk and thrown out, politely but sternly.
They should know better than that. Seriously if they think I'm the Kyuubi then why do they try to provoke me? He sighed to himself and started walking down the road when it started raining. "Great... I really need to find some shelter." He looked around and spotted a familiar girl walking into a store.
He walked up to the glass door and tried to enter, but it was locked. Great... This sucks.
"I'm home, mom!" She called as she walked in the door. "Mom? Hello? I guess she's not here..." She sighed and started putting the groceries away when she heard someone tapping on the door. When she went to answer it she was quite surprised and let him in. "Naruto, is it really you!"
"N-No problem..." She was surprised by his politeness. "How long have you been back?"
"Heh, everyone asks that. I just got back today, a few hours ago."
"Umm, if you want I can leave. I'm not sure your parents would appreciate my being here." He had never met Ino's parents, so they probably didn't like him.
"No, I'm sure it's no trouble. As long as you stay in the shop they won't mind." She smiled sweetly. Ino was always difficult to understand and this just confused him more.
What happened to the Sasuke-obsessed, whiny bitch she used to be? He wondered to himself. Oh well, it doesn't matter.
"So what were you doing out in the rain?" She interrupted his thoughts.
"Hmm? Oh I was just looking for some new clothes, my orange jumpsuits are all beat up and I thought I should get a new outfit."
"Finally! Stupid Naruto gets new clothes!" She exclaimed in a way that somehow he didn't find really rude.
"Hey, I happen to like orange." He shot back in an annoyed tone.
"Well yeah whatever. So if you were shopping, why are you still wearing your old clothes, and you don't have a shopping bag on you."
"Ummm... I couldn't find anything I liked..." He decided not to let her know about being kicked out of the stores he went to.
"Well I can help." She said, then wondered why she offered to help him. Then she just thought to herself, Oh whatever, I get to go shopping!
"Really?" His eyes widened a little. "Thanks, Ino."
"No problem, I love shopping!" She smiled happily and looked out the window. "It's still raining, we can go as soon as it stops. I've gotta go put the rest of this stuff away, could you wait here?"
After it had stopped raining, Ino dragged Naruto into several stores which by some miracle he didn't get kicked out of, but got a few weird looks. In fact, he didn't even get so much as a rude comment mumbled under someone's breath in any of the stores he was dragged into.
Ino was too preoccupied with picking out clothes to notice the looks she was getting for being around him. After a while she had picked out a few outfits, which he was surprised to see that they seemed perfect for him. Sure they didn't have as much orange but they worked.
Each one had pockets for various ninja equipment, and most of them seemed to have lots of scroll pockets. Apparently she had noticed the above-average amount of scrolls he now carried with him hanging from various parts of his body.
"Thanks, Ino-chan! You're a lot nicer than I always thought." He waved goodbye and headed off to his own apartment.
"Nicer than you thought? I've always been nice!" She growled at him, but he didn't hear. He's still an idiot...
Naruto decided it was better to get it over with, time to meet the new Hokage. He hoped the man would be like the previous Hokages, but remembered the way sakura had said he wasn't.
"This is going to be troublesome." He mumbled to himself and headed toward Hokage tower.
Upon reaching the tower, he was not allowed in by the ANBU guards. "Hey, you guys always let me in to see Tsunade-obachan.
Luckily, or maybe not so, one of the guards on duty had been one of Tsunade's guards as well, when she was alive.
"Naruto, the Sixth is busy at the moment. And Tsunade liked you." For some as of yet unknown reason. "Go away, you can receive a mission tomorrow morning."
"But I'm still a Genin, I need a team. And I need to take the exams that are coming up, I need a team for that too."
The guard realized he was right. "Ugh. Go see Kakashi tomorrow about a team. He was your old sensei after all. He might actually want to help you."
"Yeah, whatever." Naruto sulked off
After he had walked for a while, he felt a familiar presence. What do you want?
You're getting sharper.
I said what do you want?
You could say... I'm curious. I want to meet this new Hokage.
And why would you want to do that?
I have a hunch... I don't want to kill him. In fact, I won't do anything to hurt him OR you tonight if you take us to him.
This is new. You usually want to force your way out of me. Now you've promised not to... Why is he so important to you?
I have a suspicion about him. Something seems amiss...
Whatever... I don't know why I'm doing this. He thought toward his inner-demon and jumped atop a roof and started heading to the Hokage tower. This time he would use the balcony.
He was intercepted by two ANBU that were standing on top of the building and decided to take care of them quickly.
The Hokage heard a noise outside and walked out to the balcony, where he saw a blonde boy holding two of the newer ANBU by the necks.
"That's enough, put them down." He said calmly.
Naruto put down the two Special Jounins. This is sad... The new Hokage must be more lenient than Tsunade.
"Thank you, Hokage-sama." One of the guards said crisply before he and his partner disappeared.
"So, you are Uzumaki Naruto, no?" He smiled strangely.
"What is it you want?"
"I just wanted to meet my new boss, and also to tell you that just because I'm a Genin, don't think I can't handle a class-A mission."
The man laughed heavily. "So you think you're so strong? Do you think that Kyuubi makes you strong?"
"No." He said simply and walked out of the room. He immediately didn't like this man. Sure Tsunade would have probably said similar things if she were bold enough to mention the demon, but she was never so arrogant or cold. There's something I don't like about him.
I was right, you are becoming sharper.
What's that mean?
You didn't think an all-powerful being like myself didn't have a few more tricks did you?
What did you do?
Nothing. I just did a little digging in his mind, and in the guards as well. And for one thing, they weren't even trying.
You think I didn't know that?
No, I knew you were aware. But still, isn't it curious? Tell you what, tonight I will show you their memories, well, a few select bits and pieces. You will find them most interesting.
Naruto awoke in the middle of the night, terrified by the visions the Kyuubi had shown him.
"Is this... is this all true?" He asked aloud.
Yes. I cannot invent these memories.
"But... This means, Konoha will..." He shook his head, it was impossible.
Yes, Konoha has fallen neatly into his hands. You cannot do anything to stop him as you are now. The villagers believe in him, and the village is more hopeless than it was when I attacked.
But Konoha... Kakashi-sensei...
Kakashi probably trusts him as much as everyone else. Face it Naruto. There's nothing you can do. Play along or don't play at all.
The next day, Naruto went to see his Iruka again. He needed advice, and the Kyuubi's advice was too depressing. He walked into the school room and immediately put up his 'second mask' to hide any negative emotions he may have in the situation. There was a group of people in the room, hiding something his view. He walked through the small crowd to get a better view of what they all seemed to be staring at.
You could never tell, but at this sight, his mind nearly imploded on itself. There lie Naruto's first and most precious person. Dead. He looked around and found a note next to the body that nobody had picked up yet. He took it and read silently, surprised that it was addressed to him.
Naruto, You too will become an avenger. As I am.
Sasuke, you bastard... He retained his composure, just barely, and left the room without ever saying a word. He didn't notice that he was being followed.
He walked all the way to the main gates of Konoha before his follower stopped him.
"N-Naruto-kun... where are you going?"
"But why?" She asked.
"Because I'm not wanted here. Nobody wants me around." He said, forgetting about his expedition with Ino, and his meeting with Sakura and Shizune. "I've been hated since the day I was born, and I always tried to prove myself to the village. Now I've lost hope for them all. I give up on them, they've woven themselves a nice comfy web of lies, let them die in it too."
Naruto-kun? Why are you saying this so suddenly? "But... You'll become a criminal if you leave."
"I don't care, If I become a criminal then let them hunt me. They'll never stop me though." He turned and started walking down the path.
"But, you never used to give up!" She said. "You always made it through the toughest things and always stayed happy."
"That 'happiness' as you call it was nothing more than an illusion. I was never happy. And I'm not the same Naruto you knew before. Let me go, you can't stop me."
"But... your way of the ninja..."
He stopped walking for a second. "Hinata... I have always said that I will not go back on my word... So I will return some day long from now and kill this Hokage, and in killing him, I will have avenged Tsunade and I will become Hokage."
"But... but if you kill him..." She couldn't imagine why he would want to do that. "If you kill him then the people will never recognize you... What about your dreams?"
"A person in my position has no correct path laid out in front of him. Dreams are meaningless to me. This is the only way I can survive in this world. Nobody will miss me."
"I... I will miss you!" She cried desperately. "I can't live without you... You always inspired me. But now I can't understand why you are doing this..."
"Hinata, Iruka-sensei told us that there are things that can happen which we will never understand, we must live with them. You must live without me, because you can't stop me."
"N-Naruto-kun... please..." She had a determined look in her eye. I have to tell him... "I... I love you... more than anything..."
He completely froze at this.
"If I can't stop you, then take me with you. Please, Naruto-kun..."
"... no. I have nothing left to stay for, I don't want the same for you" He whispered under his breath and walked to the gate, preparing to jump over the walls when he heard a noise behind him. The noise of metal grinding against metal.
"If you leave me, I will have nothing to live for." She said with a determination in her voice that completely threw him off. On top of that, her headband, usually tied around her neck now hung in her hand with one long gash straight through the leaf symbol and she dropped it on the ground. "I will follow you into the depths of Hell if it means I will be with you."
End of chapter 1
I fixed some grammar mistakes and removed some awkward Japanese! I'm fixing small problems like this as I re-read the series and prepare to finish it!