A strange little story that popped up in my mind while looking for fanfics about the fourth hokage. There are many out there that deal with his training and his love-life, but I have actually found very few about the day that has made him famous. And very dead, but that's not the point of this story.
Many authors can't help but mention this incident in their stories, in various depths of detail, from various points of view. I hope that I can show you a new one.
Don't own nothing.
The Day He Became Famous
Only few who find their way here leave again. Usually, they stay within my realm until either their souls are eroded or they have found a new purpose in the circle of rebirth. It's really kind of a resting place for mortals. Their souls are healing from the tears and strains of life, and once they are whole enough, they leave for another life.
Many have been trying to get a glimpse of what my realm is like, but almost none have returned from this place to their former lives. Even fewer actually remember what they have seen here. Once mortals have found their way here, I'm not allowed to let them leave again without a memory-wipe and being reborn into another body.
I could name you many religions which try to explain my realm to their followers. I tell you: all of them are wrong, but at the same time, all of them are right, too. It's just a matter of point of view.
Well, actually, it's not so much my realm as I'm its keeper. Its guard. Its servant as well as its master. My job is to collect dying souls from mortal realms, and once they are here, I am to make sure nothing interrupts their healing process.
As I am Lord of this realm, not many mortals can even look at me without trembling. From the few I have actually spoken to, I have gathered that I seem all-powerful, cold, inapproachable. They have told me that they feel incredibly small and insignificant in my presence.
At the moment, one of them is trying to force their way into my realm. This soul feels strong, much too strong for it only to be one that actively searches death. When it comes through, I am the one to greet it.
The male mortal looks ready to fight, standing in front of me without fear although I see he knows he doesn't belong here. He doesn't tremble before my presence although he can feel how much stronger I am. Both of us are aware of the fact that I could make him mine against his will, but he still holds himself proudly. He bows.
He is one of those few who have the strength to come here without my guidance, and the will to try and leave again. Nobody can evade me forever, and I tell him that. I also tell him that I would not have come for him yet, but now that he is here, he mustn't leave again.
He looks at me calmly and nods.
I know, he says, but I can't stay here yet. My world is in great peril, and I have come to ask your help.
I tell him that I am not allowed to interfere with mortal business, but he doesn't back down.
It is no mortal business anymore. I need your help against one of the tailed demons. You are the only one strong enough to defeat it.
I look at him for a long time. All of his attitude and his will remind me of someone long gone, a boy who had been standing amidst the smoking remainders of his church. Both of them have the same unbreakable determination in their eyes. I could keep him here now that he's found his way into my realm. For all intent and purpose, I should keep him here.
But somehow, I am still thinking about letting him go.
Aside from my calling, I do not have much power in mortal realms. I cannot kill a tailed demon because it is immortal.
I know. But you can defeat it, can't you?
What good is a defeat when the demon will heal and come again?
He looks fanatic with a desperate edge around his eyes. He will do anything to gain help against the demon. Just like the other boy would have done anything to get his revenge.
Can you defeat it?
He is as insistent and driven as that boy was, a long time ago. But while the boy only wanted to live to fulfill his revenge, this one asks for my help. And, just like with the boy, I am thinking about answering his plea.
I am very limited in mortal realms. I can only visit them on my duty to gather dying souls, and then I have to leave again. For as long as someone is dying, I can hold your demon, but as soon as that soul is dead, I have to leave.
My people are dying now. Can't you do anything?
I sigh. They always think I'm all-powerful. They never realize that I, too, am bound by rules.
It doesn't work that way, mortal. Yes, there are many dying at your village at the moment, but if I am to hold one of the tailed demons, I have to do more than merely send a sliver of my attention to collect a soul. I have to be as real as my kind is allowed to be in your realm, and for that I have to focus on a single person. If that person dies, my hold in your realm is gone, and anything I am not allowed to take with me will be free once again. And if I am to help you, you will have to pay a price.
Yes, he will have to pay. The rules are very strict. Usually, I shouldn't be able to help him at all, but I can bend the rules enough to allow for small – let's say irregularities, as long as they are accompanied by a sacrifice big enough. From the boy who had wanted to live, I demanded that he become my priest in mortal worlds. From the man who asks for help, I will have to demand a higher price.
He doesn't look very surprised. Apparently, he has come well-prepared and knows that nothing is for free. I wonder what he has though of.
Will my life be enough as price?
Thoughtfully, I study him once again. He is very determined, this soul. I could still refuse him, but with his life as a price, I could also start bending rules. Finally, I make my decision.
Your life will be enough. If you tell me your entire plan I can tell you whether it has a chance to succeed.
While he is elaborating an idea that borders on insanity, I have to admire him. He has so little power, and yet he uses it to utmost effect. He knows how to work with what he has and how to gain what he hasn't. His plan might be insane, but if he is strong enough, it is going to work.
When I tell him that, I can almost feel the relief flooding through his veins. Outwardly, he is still composed, but almost nothing happens in my realm without my knowing.
We talk about last details, then I show him the seed that will make him mine. It is an ugly, spiky black seed from the Death Tree. At the moment, it is inactive, but a simple incantation will make it blossom slowly, sucking out life as it grows. Mortals don't have enough energy to let it bloom, so it will die, too, as soon as he is gone. In the meantime, it will allow me to come to his realm. There are not many substances that forge a direct path between realms, and the Death Tree is the only one that will prolong his death long enough for both of us to fulfill our sides of the deal.
Although he must feel the deadly potential surrounding the seed, he doesn't think for a long time. He nods once, sharply, and he is very pale. He stiffens as I draw closer, but he doesn't back away. Gently, I gather him in my arms and plant the seed as carefully as possible. Afterwards, he is even paler, but after a few minutes, he has found the strength to get up and bow to me once again.
Do not exhaust yourself with such formalities. It will take everything you have. Here.
With a tap to his forehead, I send him back to his mortal realm. Brave and stupid that he is.
„It has reached perimeter five. It probably will be within the fourth perimeter in twenty minutes."
He nods, opening his eyes. "I'm done. Please tell everyone I love them."
The silver-haired boy bites his lower lip and looks away. "I… I'll try…"
He smiles and gets up from his meditation. "I know you will. Take care, Kakashi."
"Y-yes, sensei. Good luck to you."
Ruffling the spiky, almost white hair of the boy, he gives one of his famous grins. "You should rather keep your luck for yourself. Your part won't be easy. I on the other hand, have no need for luck because I've got skill!"
A teary-eyed smile is not quite the answer he'd like to see, but he knows that he can't expect any better from the boy in front of him. It is much more than he would have gotten several years ago. During their first team meetings, the boy had been a stoic statue, almost arrogant in his coldness. His distanced behavior had certainly made the livelier team members see red on several occasions.
With a chuckle, he remembers the times Uchiha Obito had tried to draw the immovable genius son of the White Fang out of his shell, mostly by pranking him left and right. It certainly was quite funny to see proud Kakashi streaking through the streets towards the next-best clothing store – adorned with little more than a towel around his hips and the mask on his face because all of his clothes miraculously had vanished.
Including his underwear.
Afterwards, Obito had been unable to look out of his right eye for several days.
With a small sliver of regret, he remembers the ingenious prankster. During the lost-clothing-incident, Obito had somehow managed to render Kakashi's chakra useless, not even a small henge that would have hidden his state of undress. How the boy had gotten hold of the Anbu-level restraining technique was still a mystery, but there were rumors that Obito was not the only Uchiha delighting in pranks. With the many family members involved in high-level shinobi positions, there was quite a chance that an older cousin or other relative had had a hand in the occurrence.
It was that prankster who had finally managed to turn the Hatake brat into more of a human –at the cost of his life. Ever since Obito's death a year ago and the resulting transplantation of the Sharingan, Kakashi has started showing emotions in a quiet effort to fill the spot the loud Uchiha had occupied. A few more years of practice, and Kakashi would almost become normal.
Well, as normal as a shinobi who made Chuunin at 6 and Jounin at 11 can be called.
Turning around without another glance at the boy – no, not a boy, a capable ninja, - he jumps to the roof of the hokage tower. It pains him, but at the moment, there are more important things to worry about than a single shinobi who might or might not turn into an emotionally outgoing person.
At the moment, there is one of the tailed demons breaking through the city walls, and his predecessor in the job of hokage is desperately trying to hold it off. Together with all capable shinobi, his sensei's sensei has been trying to buy him time to search for a way to avert impending doom, for tailed demons are nigh impossible to defeat.
He can see its blood-red chakra swirling in the air like a false sun-set, and he feels its killing intent from almost a mile's distance. For an instant, he wonders what this killing intent feels like up close, then he heads for the eastern wall where the gigantic chakra of the Kyuubi parts the forest like a rock parts the sea.
Ever since the nine-tailed fox-demon has been sighted a few miles outside the walls, he has desperately been looking for a way to save the village he is responsible for, and a few hours ago, he found a solution. Well, it is not so much of a solution than a temporary respite, but combined with some of the more exotic seals he had come across during his travels with his sensei, it just might work.
No. It is going to work.
If not, there won't be anyone left to accuse him of failing, anyways.
Assuring himself, he fingers the two scrolls he has painstakingly filled with thousands of smaller seals that each are weak on their own, but in the way he has joined them together, they will amplify and strengthen each other until not even a demon with the power of nine tails can overcome them.
Behind him, he feels his student's chakra off to the north, gathering the last ingredient for his plan. Knowing what he will be forced to do hurts him, but he doesn't see any other way. Maybe, if it had taken the demon two or three more days to reach Konoha, he would have found a better solution…
A wince in his chest cuts off his thoughts. It is too late, anyways. There is no way for him to back out anymore. During the last hours, he has continuously been channeling his strength into the summoning contract he has devised himself, and he is feeling the first ramifications of the deal he has struck.
Although not activated yet, the strange seed in his chest hurts. It feels as if he really had a spiky, fist-sized object lodged between his ribs. If it was real though, he would have died from internal injuries a long time ago.
If his teacher was there, he would scold him for trying such a reckless stunt, but Jiraiya isn't there. And anyways, he's Hokage, and it's his duty to protect Konoha. With his life if necessary.
Another wince shoots through his chest. He just hopes that the deal he has struck allows him enough time to save Konoha in the first place.
The closer he comes to the scene, the more details become visible. With its huge body, the Kyuubi is almost as tall as Hokage's tower, but despite its size, it is deceptively agile. It has already created a hundred feet wide gap in the wall and is currently advancing through houses and apartments as if they had been made of paper. From the flashes and shouts he hears, he knows that there still are shinobi trying to hold it off, and he admires their persistency. They have been fighting it for almost ten hours now, losing more and more ground, yet they do not give up.
He has come close enough that those currently fighting the demon are clearly visible, and those waiting for their turns are looking towards him as if he was their savior. Many have blood running down their bodies, and almost all medic-nin look ready to collapse. There is so much grief in their eyes, deadly exhaustion shining within them. Everywhere, there are bodies crippled beyond repair, slashed and burned beyond healing. Everywhere, his shinobi are dying either from wounds, broken bones, or the unbearable killing intent in the air.
But those still alive take hope at his sight. Whispers spread through their ranks. Hokage is there. The shadow of the fire has finally come.
He feels humbled by the trust they place in him and by the renewed vigor they attack the beast with. His shinobi are giving everything they have, but all their efforts combined are no more than a drop on the hot stone. The demon is swatting them around as if they were no more than flies, and perhaps from a demon's view, they are only noisy insects.
But that doesn't have any impact on his duties. He has made his shinobi wait long enough.
Cutting clear across his forearm with a kunai, he invokes his summoning contract, the one that has been given to him by his teacher. It isn't the first time he has summoned the largest toad in existence, but he marvels once again at the sheer size of the creature. And the power within its deceptively bulky body. The toad boss is almost half the size of the Kyuubi, and together with its sword, Gamabunta should be able to hold its own against the nine-tails for a while.
Before leaving Hokage tower, he had summoned one of the smaller toads, Gamakichi, and had explained the situation – that he will need their strongest one to hold off the nine-tails for long enough to execute his plan. Gamakichi must have passed the message on, because Gamabunta, usually quite argumentative and rude towards anyone daring to stand on its head, doesn't say more than "Nice fighting with you again" and jumps towards the burning red chakra.
Glued to the toad's skin with a thin film of his own chakra, he fumbles for the soldier pill he always keeps in reserve. He doesn't worry about any side effects because he won't be alive to experience them, one way or the other. This small wonder of medicine restores all of his lost chakra in a flash, refilling his energy stores for the second summoning.
With the help of other shinobi, Gamabunta is faring better against the demon than he had hoped, but now that the Kyuubi is concentrating almost solely on overwhelming the huge toad, Gamabunta has to absorb a lot of damage. He has to hurry; as powerful as the summon is, it doesn't have a chance against the infinitely stronger demon.
The wince in his chest is growing stronger as he wipes one of his pre-prepared scrolls against the still bleeding cut he has summoned the toad boss with. Within a few seconds, it will start growing to continue holding up the connection of the two realms.
Pushing as much chakra into the scroll as he dares, he activates the seals. If he has done everything right, this should begin the seed's growth and call upon the only being stronger than a nine-tailed demon.
Finally, the seals engage. He can feel them reach into his chest and squeeze the hard plant inside him until something snaps. It feels as if someone had tied steel ribbons around his chest, making every breath a tiring struggle for air. And something is moving inside him, and he barely manages to suppress the horror of knowing there is something growing in his chest that is going to eat him alive from the inside out.
He inhales sharply as he feels the incredibly powerful presence he has contracted manifest behind him, but he doesn't have time to see if the demon has also noticed it. An unbearably cold hand is bursting through his chest from behind, and he has to suppress a scream of pure agony. He has been warned that it would be painful, but one can never prepare for pain.
One can only conquer it.
Despite the hand being immaterial, the seed of death within him makes it hurt as if it was a real one, and looking down at his chest, he almost expects torrents of blood and writhing vines spilling forth. But to his surprise, there is none. There are some smears from the self-inflicted wound in his arm, but the ghostly hand has left no visible damage. The steadily growing plant inside him is invisible as well, but he can feel it reach into his blood and organs and slowly kill him.
With his vision darkened by pain, he watches as the hand through his chest grows and grows until it is almost as big as the Kyuubi's head. Then, it somehow reaches inside the demon and pulls. He can feel the strength of their struggle because every time the hand moves, it inflicts new agonies on him. To him, it seems like an eternity.
All of a sudden, their horrendous struggle is over, and the hand is holding something red, twisting in its palm. Is this the essence of the Kyuubi?
From far away, a dim sound reaches his ears, a sound that seems very desperate.
"Sensei! Say something, sensei!"
He has trouble focusing his eyes on the white-haired boy standing in front of him, carrying a white bundle in his arms. Since when has Gamabunta allowed others onto its head? He can feel the toad breathing heavily, but everything seems so far away.
With an effort of will he hadn't thought himself capable of, he unwraps the white bundle and clumsily reaches for his last scroll.
"Hold him," he slurs through the agony and the plant growing steadily inside him, and the white-haired boy nods, panic in his eyes. Kakashi is a good shinobi; he doesn't let his feelings interfere with his duty. Thus, Kakashi is holding a wriggling, screaming bundle in his arms despite his need to ensure his sensei is alright.
Whether he is alright or not, he can't answer, but he knows his duty, too. With arms that are getting more and more heavy by the second, he places the scroll on the baby's abdomen and lets a few drops of his blood fall upon it. The pre-painted seals start glowing, making the baby quit crying in surprise. Through the ever tightening bands around his chest, his blood continues dropping onto the scroll until the light is so bright that he can't look at it anymore.
On the baby's stomach, the scroll is burning away, leaving only ink dyed into skin, a vicious red against pale skin. He asks the icy hand through his chest to release its burden into the seal, and that small move almost makes him lose consciousness. He is swaying on his feet while holding on as long as he can, enduring the inhuman wail the baby emits as foreign chakra burns its way into its body. Kakashi is trembling, his skin almost as white as his hair, but he cannot spare the energy to comfort the boy.
In a last, flesh-tearing effort, he lays his own hand upon the icy hand on the baby's stomach and forces all the chakra he has left into the seal to activate it. If everything goes well, the red lines will fade and turn black.
A wave of agony so bad that he fears that he might have failed shoots through his entire body, and he collapses.
The icy hand through his chest retreats, but he can feel that it is taking something with it. Silently, he is pleading with the entity behind him.
No, not yet, let me see first if I succeeded…
He tries to gather the strength to look at the baby's stomach, but his body is failing him with the death plant almost having consumed him, and there is no answer.
Just one moment…
Let me see..
Blackness is spilling over him, those icy cold arms holding him getting warmer.
And then, it is over.
I watch how the soul has returned to his village, proudly, unbroken.
But he carries my seed within him. To my senses, it glows in a dark light, but to mortals it is invisible. I watch his last hours as he prepares for the final battle. The blood he is using to paint the scrolls is calling to me, and I keep watching. I see how he is admired by his villagers; I see how they fight for him. I see what they are fighting, and I don't think they know what it really is. Not even him who has asked me to help him out.
They have no idea that they are only prolonging what is inevitable. I shouldn't have agreed to aid this mortal, but he reminds me so much of the one I have cradled in my arms so often…
He flinches as he feels my presence in his chest, a reminder that he will never leave my realm completely. But he is strong; I can see that he will act out his plan despite what is in store for him. I should have stopped him, but his eyes gleamed the same way as the boy's had a long time ago.
I watch as he slashes his arm and pours blood onto the seals he has prepared earlier. It is a deep slash, his life-blood dripping out of the wound. It also is his only chance to call me to his realm.
The Death Tree starts growing.
He does not see me come at him from behind, but the one he is fighting does. It weaves its nine chakra-filled tails in agitation and growls, why are you helping him. He would have been one of the few who lived.
I shake my head. He chooses not to.
An irritated twitch of its ear. It must be angry that I am interrupting its plan. Feh, you always had a weakness for those pesky little mortals. Do whatever you want; as much as it irks me, I can't stop you. But know that even you can't stop fate.
Beneath all that chakra-filled fury, I see its real shape. No. But maybe it will take a different course.
It merely stares at me, unblinking, as I reach for it through the connection the dying mortal has forged. He keeps standing despite the pain I must be causing him, molding chakra for another series of seals.
A white-haired boy brings a small baby for him, and he is using the other scroll he has prepared to force the essence I hold in my palm into the newborn body. The essence vanishes into the tiny mortal, but my hands do not stay empty for long. The last of his lifeblood is trickling away, and then, I hold him in my arms despite his pleas for just one more second.
Cradling his limp body carefully, I return to where I belong. I know that he will never be aware of what he has done, that he will never be aware that he has succeeded in his plan. But that was part of the risk he has agreed to take.
As I have not been called yet to take the life of the tiny mortal he has sealed the demon into, I surmise that it has survived. Well, there will be quite an uproar when I finally collect its soul. I'm not sure whether being bound to a mortal soul will force the Nine-tails to leave mortal realms at its death. It certainly will be interesting trying to gather it.
The one who lies limply in my arms will never know that he, a simple mortal, has managed to outwit fate's own messenger.
Perhaps now the others will understand why I like mortals so much.
Well, what do you think of it? Reviews, suggestions, comments always welcome.