Rewritten on 03–04–2011
StarsOfYaoi: hello there, people ^^ I bring forth a new ItaNaru fanfic for you. The plot is different (although not unique), but I hope you will like it!
Check the warnings before you start reading the chapter.
Summary: (ItaNaru) During a fight, Kyuubi's chakra leaks out and causes a warp. Now, Naruto and Itachi are trapped into the past, and the only way to go back forwards is… to work together.
Warnings: yaoi, angst, dark themes. Flames will be used to roast marshmallows. Assumptions about the Uchiha clan will be present. Does not follow canon storyline.
Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto. Masashi Kishimoto does.
–Flashbacks, memories, dreams–
A soft breeze softly curled around their feet as both sensei and apprentice stood still on the top of the hill, looking down at the landscape in front of them; the plain ran free into the distance, disappearing out of sight far, far away, behind more hills and trees.
The sun was burning strongly above their heads, the grass felt lush and green at their feet, the colours vivid and bright, and the air was warm on their skin –it was truly a wonderful day, one of those days that make you glad to just be alive.
"I wonder… why am I here?"
The silence, that had lingered on his part for three whole days, was finally broken as the younger of the two spoke, his voice vaguely hesitant. The silence had been unusual for him, but this hesitance was just as much so.
His tone was almost subdued, thoughtful, heavy with deep thinking that had somewhat managed to wash away all strength from those blue eyes of his that were now fixed on his mentor, waiting.
And yet, despite this, Jiraiya knew there was still life and youth in the blond teen at his side, and he could see it shining somewhere in those blue depths, merely hiding for a moment.
The question made the white haired Sannin frown in confusion; the sudden, unrequited subject made him stumble for words, a suiting reply to such a weird question.
Scoffing, he rolled his eyes –blatantly ignoring the seriousness of those words.
What a… stupid question.
"Stop fooling around, Naruto," was his reply then. "Grow up, for once".
He was annoyed at the teen –annoyed because he had been silent for days, annoyed because of all things to ask, this was the stupidest ever, annoyed because even now, something was nudging at the back of his mind.
Still, there was no coldness in his tone –it was warm and kind, warmer than he'd ever noticed himself using with others. He cared for this silly, blond teen. That was a given. He was preaching, much like an affectionate father scolding his son.
All in all, he truly was happy that Naruto was finally speaking again –he had missed that voice; three days were too much of a long time for a loudmouth to not talk, after all.
Slowly, blue eyes moved to the sight in front of them, face carefully blank.
"No. I mean it. Why am I still… alive? I should have… I should have been killed long ago, right? Then why…?" striking contrast with his words, his tone held no regret nor sadness.
He was merely stating what he considered a fact.
Wondering with pure, untainted curiosity about something so serious and hurtful with eyes that were not glazed over, nor dull. He was still living at his best, still determined, because things were different –but he had to ask anyway.
Something was changing.
And Jiraiya knew that Naruto had every right to ask.
The memory of the tomb was still too fresh in his mind, and Jiraiya knew it; the small tomb that contained Yonbi no Isonade's Jinchuuriki had been on the side, lonely and forgotten, apart from the other tombs in the cemetery, uncared for and ignored.
Yet, to keen eyes, it was clear it had been placed where everybody passing by could see it.
The villagers had been smug, eyes filled with pride, telling stories on how they had killed the demon when she still was an infant, not yet a danger to them –not knowing that the soul of the beast had probably left the body the moment the child had died, and that Yonbi was probably wandering free somewhere now.
Hatred does not disappear, no matter what. Not even when the receiver of such hatred is a two–years–old girl unluckily destined to be the vessel for a demon. Not even if killing a child was the price to pay –a price too high.
Life still moved on, even after such loss. They still moved on.
They didn't care –they didn't consider her life as that of a human, as a useless sacrifice, but as a demon they had exterminated.
And still, Naruto had ignored the shocked, horrified stares of the villagers and had kneeled in front of the too small grave to pay his respect for the young soul.
His eyes hadn't been filled with tears, but he had cried on the inside. When he had left the village, silent and not looking at the people around him, Jiraiya had followed him with grave eyes.
What use was there for anger and vengeance? What good would it do to that little kid?
It wouldn't bring her back. It wouldn't help him, either.
And that was why, three days later, Naruto was still thinking about it, still wondering –why was he still alive? Why couldn't the girl have had a chance as well?
Ocean blue eyes slowly fluttered open.
At first, the only thing he was aware of was the steady, rhythmic beat of his heart (a slow, comforting sound), but then his body started waking up, and he became aware of hard, dry soil under his fingers and back –familiar, somehow, and in a way, reassuring.
The sense of drowsiness he felt was threatening to pull him back into unconsciousness, but he fought against it, groaning as the back of his head suddenly exploded into pain as soon as he tried shifting to look around.
Careful to not move too much, he finally managed to focus on his surroundings, blinking rapidly to wake up.
His body felt unusually heavy and oddly so, as if he had wasted too much of his chakra and was thus having difficulties moving his muscles; he felt tired, wanting to simply rest some more and wait for his brain to properly kick in again.
The sky above him was covered with dark clouds, sign that rain was approaching fast; the air communicated him the same message, because there was a lingering taste of dampness that made his skin tingle almost pleasantly.
There were trees on the edge of his vision and the clouds above them were even darker, curling around the nearby mountains like soft, sinister blankets.
Yes, there would be a huge storm coming by, not just passing rain.
His mind registered all of this as if in a haze, and he faintly smiled.
He liked rain, but he liked even more the feeling he had right before rain came –there was a growing feeling of anticipation preceding a downpour, even more accentuated before a storm. He enjoyed that prelude.
Seconds ticked by, then he suddenly gasped and straightened up in shock, memories of the last moments before falling unconscious finally returning to him.
Blond bangs fell in front of his eyes and he pushed them away with a trembling hand, wincing as a sharp pain coming from his forehead alerted him he didn't have his hitai–ate anymore. Cursing his own distraction, Naruto hoisted himself into a sitting position and scanned his surroundings.
What the hell had happened in there?
He wasn't quite sure about it, but first and foremost he needed to know… was he alone?
A look around confirmed him that he was, strangely enough, the only person around. He didn't seem to be in prison or whatever, so the teen slowly allowed his shoulders to relax, taking some deep, calming breaths.
Not knowing where he was, or what had happened, at least he was positive that he was kind of safe, at least for the present moment.
Finally he noticed his forehead protector some feet away from him, dirty and with the sash ripped to a certain extent, but still wearable; he held it in his hand and ventured his fingers up to brush his forehead, wincing when he felt a viscous liquid coated there.
Cursing as pain flashed through his head again, Naruto retreated his fingers and found them covered with blood. Awesome, there was a wound on there, and it fucking hurt.
It was weird –it shouldn't be bleeding anymore, much less be still there. He was sure he hadn't been unconscious for too long, and he had grown accustomed to having Kyuubi conveniently heal him quickly –this was just a minor hit, so why…
Did Kyuubi find a way to prevent his chakra from healing him? Naruto was aware that the fox didn't willingly share his chakra to heal his body, but… could he block it now?
If yes, then why now? And how?
Stifling a groan, Naruto put his hitai–ate into his pocket. He was still at loss about what was going on, and he was feeling quite lightheaded and dizzy. He needed to concentrate on something –anything.
So, the last thing he remembered was…
"Naruto–kun, stop this useless resistance".
Ah, yes. That.
Before everything went berserk, these had been his words, but then stuff had happened afterwards –he'd been attacked, viciously and suddenly. The words still lingered in his mind, though.
Naruto sighed, attempting to recall everything with clarity; he knew from basic healing lessons that he might be suffering from a concussion, and that there could be memory loss, so he had to force himself to remember.
He had to make sure everything still worked in his brain –literally.
So, he had been on his way back to Konoha with the Ero–Sennin. Three years had passed since he'd left, and now he was returning.
He'd trained and grown up during these three years, and he was now determined to be strong –for himself, for his village, and even for Sasuke, who had betrayed everything for the sake of revenge.
Finally, Naruto was coming back to his village, to show everybody he would protect them.
But then, just as he and Jiraiya had stepped through the wall surrounding Konoha through the gates, they had been attacked.
Uchiha Itachi and the shark–face who had wanted to cut off his arms and legs, whose name Naruto didn't remember (and didn't want to, actually) had been there.
He still had to shove his words right back at him –and no, Naruto wasn't holding a grudge.
There had been no warning, but they had faced each other in silence for a long while, the two Akatsuki members trying to assess Jiraiya's strength (as usual underestimating Naruto, but he knew he'd grown stronger… they just didn't know that).
For the longest time, the two psychopaths had merely stared at them –looking like drama queens, in Naruto's opinion– then they had attacked.
In the blink of an eye, Naruto had found himself trying to escape an emotionless freak with dark hair and a fish–guy who only wanted to cripple him for life, and he had his hands full dealing with that; evading their attacks probed to be more difficult than he'd thought, but he was still doing a good job nonetheless.
He didn't want to die nor to give in to them –and he had no intention of allowing that organization to get Kyuubi, either.
He had dreams. He wanted to be Hokage.
He wanted to get Sasuke back to Konoha.
He was not going to give up and let those freaks get to him.
Jiraiya had taken on both of the Akatsuki members at once, trying to have Naruto run to Konoha for protection –their attackers would not bother get into the village, not with the current Hokage and protection it had– but Naruto had refused, angered at his teacher. His training hadn't been in vain, he could take care of himself.
He didn't want to need protection, but… against Itachi he didn't have a chance –that man was way above his league. Stronger in ways Naruto could not even think about.
The gap between himself and Sasuke was clear in Naruto's mind; he was sure the younger Uchiha was working hard as well, and that by now he'd surely be stronger than before, but Naruto himself had progressed further along.
And yet… Itachi's strength couldn't be compared to either of them.
With Kisame, things were slightly different –Naruto found the man's movements easy to predict, but that sword still sucked chakra, and knowing where Kisame would hit did not offer Naruto any leeway, as the swordsman was strong and very accurate with his actions.
So, Naruto kept fighting the two at Jiraiya's side, not wanting to be a burden but also not wanting to retreat; he wasn't a dangerous demon, he wasn't a monster –he didn't want to end buried six feet under simply because of the fox he housed within.
He would not die.
So, he needed to fight.
Naruto sighed. He'd been angry at himself because it seemed that no matter the amount of training, Itachi was still too strong.
Then Naruto had seen Itachi's hands move in an unknown pattern, probably preparing a Genjutsu, and the teen knew he would be unable to get out from it by himself. So, he had franticly tried to counter it before Itachi could finish his preparations, as Jiraiya was too busy engaging a one–on–one against Kisame and would probably not be able to get to him on time.
Naruto couldn't look away, because any moment of distraction would be fatal…
And then the idea came to his mind.
A great idea –at least at the moment it had been so.
Ask Kyuubi for help.
He had grown to dislike demanding the fox for help in his fights, so during the last three years he'd done that only sparingly, but this… this was different. This was Itachi.
Besides, if Naruto got caught, it would be the end of Kyuubi as well.
It could have been a genial idea, if not for a small detail.
That same day, early in the morning, Jiraiya had tampered with his seal once again (tenth attempt in the last few months); his aim had been to make more of Kyuubi's chakra available to Naruto without having him to ask the demon for it, but the ordeal had been a spectacular failure.
It ended with a pissed off demon, a wounded Jiraiya, whose chakra had been sucked away, and a distressed Naruto, who had felt a change into the seal but hadn't wanted to mention that to the older man. After all, Jiraiya was enough annoyed as it was without him pointing out how much he sucked with sealing.
He had remained silent, hoping he'd have some time to ask Tsunade to fix it when he got to Konoha.
With this clear, Naruto hadn't been completely shocked when tipping into the fox's chakra (the demon had sent him some quickly, this time) Naruto had felt it.
He chakra felt different –not completely 'red' like before.
Red was a colour Naruto had come to associate with the demon; red like raw strength and rage, red like burning flames of fire.
But not anymore. It was red mixed with dark brown, a sickly tinge to it that Naruto hadn't liked at all.
Then, nausea had hit him.
The chakra had felt rotten, corrupted. Wasted.
Just remembering that feeling made the blond teen want to throw up.
The chakra from Kyuubi had merged with his own and in result, the Rasengan he had been producing lost its customary electric blue colour, turning the same brown shade and making his hand shake with pain.
His fingers trembled, his skin fizzled… it had definitely felt different.
On the outside, by its colour –on the inside, Naruto felt sick.
All of sudden, Naruto had wanted to run, and not from Itachi, but from himself. From the something he had within him, from this rotten sensation.
Of course he stood his ground and attacked, but the feeling hadn't abated.
And then he had been rendered unconscious. Somehow.
The sick chakra had mixed halfway through with Itachi's humming one, and then there had been an explosion. A huge flash of blinding light had enveloped them, probably alerting the whole country of their presence, and the deafening detonation had sent him flying backwards.
He vaguely recalled slamming into a tree, and then…
So where was he now? Why hadn't Itachi used the fact that he'd been unconscious to take him away?
There was no trace of the missing–nin anywhere around, not even a lingering chakra signature. Nothing. Not even the fish–guy.
Unfortunately, there was no sign of Jiraiya either.
Had Jiraiya chased them away? If so, why wasn't he here already? He wasn't stupid (not even if it looked like he was), he wouldn't have left an unconscious Naruto alone to go seek help.
There was nobody around.
To add up to the current situation, he still felt nauseous, even if not as much as he had been at the first contact with the rotten chakra, and as tired and in pain as he was, if Akatsuki were to return he would not be able to fight them. He needed to get back to the village, alert them of his presence, and wait for Jiraiya.
He stood up shakily again, making his way towards where he hoped the village was; he could vaguely see the wall standing proudly behind him, lost within the vegetation, so if he moved the opposite way, he'd surely get to Konoha.
Not trusting his body to be able to handle running on top of the tree branches, he simply walked slowly through the forest, straining his senses in case someone appeared.
He felt truly relieved when the forest abruptly ended and he was able to see the Hokage mountain proudly stand in front of him; he could see some of the houses right behind a small hill, so he moved faster, smiling.
He'd missed Konoha a lot during the last few years.
'I wonder what Tsunade baa–chan's face looks like on the mountain…'
A new wave of nausea hit him as he looked up, and he cringed –what a way to come back to the village after three years… coming home, wobbling and ready to throw up… definitely splendid way to show how much he'd grown.
Naruto would have surely chuckled at the mental image of an enraged Tsunade blaming it all on Jiraiya, but he was too busy gaping openly at the mountain.
The monument was standing tall and proud above the village's houses and buildings, just as it should be, but…
There were only four heads on it.
'What… what the hell?'
StarsOfYaoi: I know it's short, but that's simply the prologue. I hope you will drop me a review so I know if you like it!
Glossary of unfamiliar Japanese words:
Sensei – teacher, professor, doctor, the term can be applied to these people. It is used to address a person whom you respect, of a higher status than you are.
Hitai–ate – headband.
Yonbi no Isonade – The Four Tailed Demon.