Kisame – Huh? Where's the Nara? He's going to miss the finale.
Itachi – Shikamaru is appearing in the chapter, so Phoenixsun told him he could skip this.
Kisame – Goddmanit! He's going to get to the after party before I do and eat all the shrimp!
Itachi – I think you have to worry more about Chouji than anything else… Anyways, since this is the last chapter, why don't you introduce it?
Kisame – Really?! You… You're not messing with me, are you?
Itachi – How long have you known me…? Of course I am. Please enjoy The Power to Heal and Destroy's final chapter.
Kisame – You bastard!
Itachi – Seriously, how did you not see that coming?
I'll See You Before I Go
Laughter exploded among the young ninjas sitting in front of Ichiraku Ramen as Chouji finished telling a funny anecdote from one of Team 8's missions. "Geez, I wish you would just forget that story already…" A slightly embarrassed Ino commented, being the only one that was not laughing.
"Yeah… I'll make sure that never happens." Shikamaru stated with a smirk, sending the others into another bout of laughter.
Kiba placed the ramen bowl he was eating on the table and gave a big grin. "It's nice to see that other teams can screw up that bad as well." He mockingly said.
"I agree… Misery loves company." Shino simply added as he drank some tea.
"What's that suppose to mean?!" The Inuzuka yelled as he suddenly stood up and accidentally caused his ramen to fall off and almost hit Akamaru, who proceeded to bark at his partner in reprimand.
Sakura sighed and shook her head. "Don't worry, Kiba. As far as dysfunctional teams go, you are not beating us." The pink haired girl stated.
Slurping up some noodles Naruto nodded. "Talk to us when Hinata finally has enough of you losers and decides to run away from the village." He said with a chuckle that everyone joined in.
"Do not worry Kiba-kun, I will never abandon you." The Hyuuga heiress reassured his teammate. "After all, Akamaru is too cute to leave behind." She added as she picked up the small dog from the floor who happily snuggled on her lap.
Lee put his chopsticks down and pondered for a second. "If someone from our team were to run away it would probably be Tenten." The taijutsu user said.
"What?!" The brown haired kunoichi exclaimed. "Why do you think I would leave?!"
The green clad genin gave a couple of blinks as if to say that the answer was obvious. "Well, Neji physically can't leave and I would never do that to Gai-sensei… That leaves only you." He pointed out.
Calmly sipping his tea, Neji chimed in. "He is not wrong."
The taijutsu user continued. "Also, you are always getting mad at us for every little thing." He added. "Still, I'm not saying that you will defect… It's just that, out of the three of us, you are the likeliest." The genin quickly explained himself.
"He is still not wrong." The Hyuuga prodigy added in between sips.
By now, a throbbing vein could almost be seen in the weapon expert's forehead. "You guys…" She growled, setting off a third round of laughter.
The group continued to eat merrily, sharing small conversations here and there amongst each other, truly relaxing after all the grueling events of the past and before the ominous day that the future could bring. It had been three weeks since half of the group had returned from Demon Country and this had been the first time they had all managed to get together.
Finishing up his tenth bowl, Chouji put it on the stack and looked up at the sun which was beginning to set. "I guess it's almost time now…" He softly pointed out with a sigh.
Naruto looked down at his fifth bowl of ramen as he pushed a couple of noodles around. "Yeah…" The blond answered heavily and returned to finish his last bowl of Ichiraku Ramen before leaving the Hidden Leaf village.
Naruto narrowed his eyes as he looked out of the Hokage's window. "So you are telling me that… Everything he said was true…?" The Jinchuuriki asked as he turned to face the village leader after several minutes of charged silence.
Tsunade sighed as she leaned back on her chair. "Yes… I was briefed about it when I became the Hokage." She confirmed.
The genin made a sharp intake of air. "An entire clan almost completely wiped out… And the Third was ok with this decision?!" The young man asked as his emotions started to get the better of him.
"I highly doubt that Sarutobi-sensei enjoyed making such a call." The Sannin assured. "But the overwhelming evidence they had at the time suggested that the Uchiha were about to launch a rebellion. The village had just gotten out of the Third Great Shinobi war and it was not in any shape to deal with something like that head on." The Godaime explained.
Not being satisfied with the Hokage's words, Naruto paced impatiently back and forth in the office. I had been a couple of days since he had returned from Demon Country and the blond had finally confronted Tsunade about everything he had learned while at the Land of Snow.
During his time trapped in the weird genjutsu, the Jinchuuriki had learned a lot of shocking revelation from Itachi that had left the young man questioning his own understanding of his role as a shinobi of the Hidden Leaf. At the end, the older Sharigan user had advised him to seek confirmation of his words with the Hokage. "So… All this time… Sasuke has been unaware that the guy he wants revenge on is actually a deep undercover agent for the village?" He asked.
The Fifth nodded. "Yes... It was Itachi's one requirement for carrying out such a mission." She answered. "He wanted Sasuke to be able to live without burden of knowing the truth behind the Uchiha clan… If Itachi decided to tell you it must be because he thought you were mature enough to understand it." The kunoichi offered almost as a way to appease the restless genin.
"Hah!" A sound reminiscing of laughter escaped the spiky haired boy as he finally sat down. "Then the other thing… What he wants me to do…" He muttered.
A sigh escaped the medic nin as she massaged between her eyes. "It was apparently always part of the Third's plan." She confessed. "A Jinchuuriki with a Sharingan is something that would give a lot of people pause… Last time an Uchiha got his hands on a Bijuu it almost spelled the end of the village and it required my grandfather to get directly involved." The woman explained.
Naruto growled. "I get that much, but why do I have to leave the village?!" He complained.
"Like I said, this was all set up by the Third the moment you awakened your Sharingan." The Hokage repeated herself. "Besides, you might not be completely safe in the Hidden Leaf. Both the Akatsuki and this new group that has come out had a lot of information about you… At this moment we cannot rule out that there is a mole within the village's ranks." Tsunade said with a serious tone.
The Hokage's demeanor was enough to make the angry teen settle down a bit. "I still don't like it…" The Jinchuuriki said softly.
Softening her expression, the Sannin gave the younger blond a smile. "The Third wanted you to be safe and to be ready for the tough life he knew was waiting for you." She pointed.
The genin sighed. "Three weeks, huh? Sakura is going to be pissed…" He moaned. "I can already hear her ranting…"
A soft chuckle escaped the village leader. "Oh, and one more thing before I forget…" The kunoichi suddenly said as she stood up started looking in some of her drawers. "It would make it easier than explaining what a genin is doing outside of the village unsupervised for such a long period of time, though truly it has been a long time coming." The Godaime commented to a puzzled Naruto. "Ah! Here's one your size!" She exclaimed as she pull out a green vest.
The spiky haired boy's eyes widened.
"Argh! This sucks…" Kiba complained as the group stood around the village gate to see Naruto off.
Ino placed her hand on her hips and turned to the Inuzuka. "Are you saying that because Naruto is leaving? Or are you still jealous that he became a chunin before you?" She asked knowingly.
The brown haired boy turned away. "Yeah, nothing good is going to come out of me answering that question…" He muttered, making the others laugh.
"Ok guys, I know this seems rude of me, but I have to get going." Shikamaru suddenly said. "I was told to report to the Intelligence Division before sun down." He clarified before taking a few steps towards the spiky haired blond. "Don't go turning into a missing nin while you're away." The Nara said with a smirk as he extended a hand.
"You're not the boss of me." Naruto joked as he shook his friend's hand.
Waving goodbye to the others, Shikamaru set off towards the heart of the village.
Turning to face the village gate, the new chunin let out a hearty sigh. "I guess my time is up too." He commented.
"Got everything ready? You have to make sure you are not leaving anything behind." Neji cautioned.
"Yeah." The spiky haired teen answered before quickly going down the list. "My apartment is locked and I gave all of my food to Chouji." He started. "Tenten helped me put the bulk of my luggage in scrolls… I already said goodbye to Iruka-sensei, Konahamaru, Kakashi-sensei, Tsunade and Shizune earlier today… So yeah, I think I am all set." The young man proclaimed.
Sniffing loudly, Lee tearfully embraced the blond. "Oh, Naruto-kun, I can't believe you are leaving us too!" He whined. "It's not fair…! We were supposed to spend the next several months training together…! I even asked Gai-sensei to prepare a special set of spandex for the two us and Neji!" The young man exclaimed through sobs.
The spiky haired boy had to fight the urge to roll his eyes. "There, there, Lee… If it's any consolation, I was never going to wear that." He revealed as he padded the older ninja on the head to calm him down.
"Come on, Lee, that's enough embarrassment for one day." Tenten commented as she pulled her teammate off the blond.
Naruto chuckled under his breath when Hinata stepped forward. "So… Uhm… Where are you supposed to meet Jiraiya-sama's friend, Naruto-kun?" The heiress asked.
"Near River Country's border." The chunin answered. As the words left his mouth, Naruto had to look away, because he felt that his friends would realize that he was not telling them the true. The fact that the real nature of his departure was supposed to be a secret from his friends was eating the spiky haired teen from the inside.
Hinata remained silent for a couple of seconds while her lavender eyes were fixed on the blond as if questioning his reply. Eventually, she shook her head and smile. "I hope everything turns out well, Naruto-kun." She said. "And that you return to us safe and sound as soon as possible." The Byakugan user said with a bright smile and a soft blush.
Returning the gesture, the chunin secured his backpack and started to give the last round of goodbyes to his friends. "Uh… Naruto…" Sakura suddenly called out.
Turning around, the spiky haired teen found his teammate with her eyes fixed on the floor. "Sakura?" The young man questioned. "Everything alright…?"
The pink haired girl shifted a bit before answering. "Of course not… I'm being abandoned by a teammate yet again…" She commented.
"Sakura… You know that it's not like that…" Naruto protested as he took a step towards the girl.
A sigh escaped the kunoichi. "I know… I just feel like you two keep going far away from me." The Haruno confessed. "Every time I think I'm getting close, the two of you suddenly dart away out of my reach." She said as she looked away, still refusing to direct her eyes at the chunin.
Naruto decided to remain silent and let his teammate air out her grievances. After all, this would be her last chance for a long while.
"When you suddenly changed right before the Chunin Exam, I thought… I thought that I had lost you… As teammate… And as a friend." She revealed. "It took a long time for our relationship to… To become at least somewhat like it was before… And now you are leaving again." Her eyes finally looked up and, unsurprisingly, they were filled with tears. "You changed when I took my eyes off you, and now I am afraid of what kind of Naruto will come back this time."
Placing a hand on the girls shoulder, the blond mustered his most reassuring smile. "No matter what happens, I will always be me… The person who comes back will still be Uzumaki Naruto of Team Seven." The young man stated.
A few tears ran down the pink haired girl's cheek, but she nodded nonetheless.
The spiky haired teen finally started to walk towards the gate, but suddenly stopped and looked back. "When Sasuke left… You told him that he will always have a place to come back to…" He pointed out. "Does the same promise apply to me as well?" The Uzumaki asked.
Wiping her tears away, Sakura made it seem like she was pondering her answer. "Uhm… I don't know…" She said. "How about I give you the answer when you come back?" The girl said with a smile.
A chuckle escaped the blond. "Oh well, now I have to come back for sure!" He exclaimed. "Otherwise, I will never be able to live with the suspense." Naruto said and, after one last wave and one last smile, left the village Hidden in the Leaves.
Having heard the footsteps, Okina looked up from his desk right before the door opened. "Oh, I was wondering when you were coming by." The aged man commented. "I do believe congratulations are in order, Shubou-kun." The former Taki ninja added.
The young man at the door had neat, brownish blond hair, slightly tanned skin, and plain white clothes carrying a Hidden Sand headband with an X carved on it strapped to his right upper arm. Ayatsuri Shubou smiled back at the older man. "I see word travels fast."
A soft chuckle escaped the grey haired man. "Well is not every day that the organization gives such a high promotion, especially to someone so young and full of potential."
It was Shubou turn to laugh now. "You talk as if I was going to be running this place." He said.
Okina shrugged his shoulders. "It is just a matter of time for that." He commented. "Besides, with everything that is coming to a head, this organization will need young blood at the top. In my opinion, they made an excellent decision promoting you." The former Waterfall shinobi said as he signaled the younger man to sit down on the other side of his desk.
"You humble me, Okina-dono." The blond said as he took his seat.
"So now, if you came to see me, I guess this makes it your first official consultation now that you are in a position of authority." The veteran said as he regarded his companion. "I am going to take a guess and say that this is about Honda-kun."
Shubou nodded as an answer. "That's right… His meeting with Uzumaki Naruto came as something unexpected for the organization." He started in a serious tone. "Needless to say that the council is on an uproar about it, especially the ones who believe that he may have divulged too much information about us." The young man explained.
"It's true that Honda-kun has always been eccentric and at time unpredictable." Okina offered. "But at the same time, the council has always been quick to panic when things deviate even slightly from their plan… You should have seen them during the Third Great Shinobi War; they were acting so ridiculous that I actually started feeling sorry for them…" He said as he leaned back on his chair and smiled at the old memories. "But what do you think, Shubou-kun? How grievous was Honda-kun's breach in your opinion?"
The former Suna shinobi pondered for a few seconds. "Minor if I'm being honest." He finally answered after a while. "All that Honda really gave was a name… Our existence was already revealed to the Hidden Leaf when Shirogane stopped Yakushi Kabuto and confronted Hatake Kakashi." The young man reasoned. "Plus, with Jiraiya investigating us, the council are fools if they think that they are going to work with the same anonymity as before."
Okina was pleased with the answer the blond was giving him.
"The only issues I find with Honda's actions were the injuries he inflicted on Uzumaki during their confrontation, but our sources inform us that he has since made a full recovery." Shubou finished and looked at his senior.
"It seems to me that you have a very good grasp on the situations." The grey haired man commented. "So why is it that you came seeking my advice?" He asked as he offered a kind smile.
A sigh escaped the blond. "I'm not sure… It just feels that the council is expecting me to do more…" He confessed. "They gave me this promotion and they immediately assign me to pass judgment on Honda and I just think this is some sort of test… That I have to prove to them that I am willing to make the tough decisions."
Okina remained quiet for a moment. "Let me share one thing with you, Shubou-kun." He said as his eyes scanned the room cautiously. "You cannot allow yourself to become the council's puppet. Nowadays, the council has become nothing but bunch of bureaucrats and the beliefs that formed this organization have become diluted among them." The former Taki ninja said with a serious voice. "Your new appointment is the only right decision they have made since they decided to finally intervene in the Hidden Mist's Blood Purges." He added with a softer tone.
Shubou frowned. "If the council is wrong… Then what are we doing here?" He questioned.
The aged man took out his old Waterfall headband and traced his fingers for the X carved on it. "We do what we must." He answered. "I have placed all of my faith within the active forces of this organization in which I truly believe that our original ideals still live." The old man offered. "What to do about Honda? I say pardon him, because we will need shinobi like him." He stated.
Smiling, the former Sand ninja nodded. "Thank you, Okina-dono. I knew that talking to you was the right thing to do." He said as he stood up front the chair. After a bow to show respect to his elder, the young man excused himself and headed for the door.
"Oh! One more piece of advice…!" The grey haired man called out. "I would suggest keeping Honda-kun as far away from Tennin as possible. He is even angrier than the council." He revealed.
A small chuckle escaped Shubou. "Tennin always gets like this with anything regarding Uzumaki Naruto…" He said with an amused tone. "Don't worry; I will make sure that they don't kill each other." The blond said. "After all, as you said, Byakuya is going to need them." He added before leaving the room.
Shikamaru followed Ibiki through the Intelligence Division's halls. The jonin was excitedly going over the history of the division, from their conception, their role, and their different branches. However, the black haired boy was barely paying attention, after all he was familiar with the division from all the times he accompanied his father to visit Inoichi. Instead, the thought that dominated the chunin's mind was the unknown reason why he had been called here.
"Though, if I'm being honest, apart from our Torture and Interrogation branch, most people tend to dismiss the division for a bunch of bookworms and researchers." Ibiki said with a laugh despite the demeaning comment.
The pair reached an elevator at the end of the hall. "Uhm… Morino-san, why exactly was I called here?" The boy inquired as he entered the elevator.
A knowing smirk appeared in the scarred man's face. "We've actually been meaning to have you over for quite a while." The jonin said as he made the elevator go downward. "Inoichi nominated you, but your father and Asuma were not too keen on the idea." He revealed.
Raising an eyebrow, Shikamaru looked at the older man. "Not keen on what…?" The chunin questioned as he suddenly realized that they should have reach the building's lowest sublevel by now, yet the elevator kept going down.
"We are a village sustained by the shinobi system, which pertains to several cutthroat and unsavory realities that we hide from the civilian population." Ibiki started explaining. "But there is a level even further down from that… A part of the village that most of the ninja force is unaware of."
Shikamaru's eyes widened at the revelation. "What do you mean?" The boy asked.
The scarred man's eyes narrowed slightly before answering. "Konoha, or any shinobi village for that matter, was built on a foundation of bones." He said. "And every so often, new skeletons are required to fortify that foundation." The man cryptically responded.
The elevator continued its downward path. By now, they must have been so far below that Shikamaru doubt in the village best sensor ninjas could detect them.
"We keep a record of all the dark secrets that made Konoha the strongest among the Five Great Shinobi countries." The jonin continued talking. "All the back alley dealings, the betrayals, and the secrets. All the catastrophes we stopped, the ones that we caused, and the ones we prevented others from stopping." He said.
By now, Shikamaru was finding it difficult to breath. The Nara kept checking for any sign of the elevator finally stopping, but the machine just kept on descending.
For his part, Ibiki was not finished. "And, if the village needs any of those things to occur again in order to prosper, it is our job to plan it and carried out." The scarred man stated.
Suddenly, the elevator came to an abrupt halt. The black haired boy could feel his body shaking, but his mouth was unable to form words.
"This is a difficult job." The jonin for his part had no problem in continuing to talk. "There is quite a difference between killing an opponent during a battle or taking down a despot who mistreats his people, and assassinating a young doctor who is helping the poor simply because he is disturbing the land's economic balance." By now Ibiki's nonchalant and upbeat attitude had been completely replaced a by a serious and grave demeanor.
With great difficulty, the chunin finally managed to speak out. "Why… Why am I here…?" He asked again.
"You are here because we believe you can." The older ninja answered. "You have been selected because we believe you can endure the burden of truth and work towards the prosperity for the village no matter what it may cost you." The elevator doors started to open. "Nara Shikamaru, welcome to Konoha's Deep Intelligence." The scarred man said.
The sun had almost set as Shino made his way towards his house. Naruto's farewell party had been touching yet fun, and the Aburame's only regret was that he still found it difficult to participate on back and forth witty banter among his friends. Unbeknownst to the rest, Shino had made a promise to himself to improve his social skills by the time Naruto and Sasuke returned to the village.
Night soon enveloped the streets of Konoha as the brunette continued to walk. Pushing his sunglasses up, the young man's mind quickly went over everything he needed for his mission tomorrow. Kiba and him had actually asked Kurenai-sensei to set it up in order to keep Hinata's mind off the blonde's departure.
Suddenly, the bugs inside the genin started acting up, alerting the Aburame of a presence in the shadows.
Picking up his pace, the bug user remained alert of his surroundings. Soon, the kikai bugs confirmed that the hidden presence was in fact following him.
Deviating from the path to his house by making a sharp turn, Shino walked straight into a dead-end alleyway. The Aburame quickly turned around. "I know you are there. Come out." He called out into the night as he fixed his sunglasses in place.
Without making so much as a sound, four figures appear at the alley's entrance.
Shino remained stoic as the four Anbu members walked towards him. "Aburame Shino." The Anbu commander called out. He wore a large white cloak and a dog themed mask.
The young man made sure his face betrayed no gesture as he simply nodded.
"It has been a week." The commander simply said as he stopped just a few steps away from the genin.
"My answer has not changed since then." Shino stated with a voice full for resolve.
The Anbu commander nodded. "Very well…" The man said before all of the sudden he and the other three Anbu disappeared into a large cloud of smoke.
Shino waited for the smoke to dissipate before his eyes fell on the object they left behind on the ground. Kneeling down, the Aburame picked up the blank mask given to new Anbu recruits.
It took several seconds for Sasuke's sight to return after the massive blow to the head. Rubbing the back of his head, the sitting Uchiha saw his cursed seal retreated to its dormant state.
"You lost control again, Sasuke-chan." A small green toad holding a large black club said.
"Sorry, Fukasaku-san…" Sasuke apologized to the elder toad. "I must have left my mind wander off without even realizing it."
A chuckle caught the young man's attention. "See? I wasn't the only one that had problems with this." Jiraiya commented as he jovially walked towards the pair.
"Heh… I certainly remember you with way more bumps when you first started." The sage commented.
Letting out a sigh of exhaustion, Sasuke leaned back. "This is incredibly though… It's like walking on a tightrope… Backwards… While upside down…" The genin complained.
After several months meandering through Earth Country, Jiraiya had only just recently started the raven haired boy's training in full effect. The pair decided that the first order of business was to make sure that the Uchiha could reign in the cursed seal on his shoulder.
The white haired Sannin had quickly deduced that the black marks drew on natural energy, which was the foundation for senjutsu. In order to help with the training, Jiraiya had summoned one of the elders from the Toad Clan, and the one who had taught the older Leaf ninja senjutsu in the first place.
Sasuke training consisted is channeling chakra to his cursed seal and trying to keep the balance of the senjutsu chakra it spread throughout his body without letting the seal take control. Unfortunately, Fukasaku's method of keeping the seal in line was to whack the raven haired teen in the head with a special staff he brought from Mount Myoboku which forcibly expelled the natural energy from the Sharingan user's body.
By now, Sasuke had lost count how many times he had been hit by the sage toad's club.
"Well, senjutsu training is notoriously difficult." Jiraiya offered. "I had problems with it, the Fourth Hokage found out that it was the one area in which he didn't excel at, and even Orochimaru was obsessed with it, but couldn't even get the Snake Sage to give him the time of day…" He revealed. "I wonder if that's why he went ahead and created something like that cursed seal… As a sort of replacement for senjutsu."
For his part, Fukasaku merely shrugged his shoulder. "Perhaps is for the best." He commented. "The ninja world is chaotic enough as it is… If anyone could easily become a sage, things would get out of hand quickly… That's also why we, sages, are so selective in our teachings." The elder toad informed before hopping closer to the raven haired boy. "Ok, let's try it one more time, Sasuke-chan."
The Uchiha sat up straight and took a deep breath. Closing his eyes, Sasuke wiped away all thought from his mind except for the cursed seal and his chakra flow. Carefully, he let his chakra seep into the black mark on his shoulder and soon he could feel the natural energy permeate through his body.
Nudging, probing, and pulling the senjutsu chakra along, the Uchiha made sure to keep his breathing even, his body unmoving, and his mind focused. Ever so slowly, he could feel as the natural energy evenly covered his entire body.
The sudden impact of Fukasaku's staff against the side of his head snapped Sasuke's out of his concentration. "What happened?! I was sure I had it under control!" The young man exclaimed as he rubbed the bruise on his cheek.
Next to the boy, Jiraiya had fallen over to the ground laughing while the elder toad looked away with a blush on his face. "I'm sorry, Sasuke-chan…" He apologized. "But a fly landed on you… It looked mighty tasty, but the missus has me on this strict diet and she would kills me if I ate out of schedule… So I had to shoo it away…" The sage revealed.
Sasuke could feel his eyes twitching in bewilderment.
"Ok… Ok… Let's all take a break for a while." Jiraiya suggested once he finally got his laughing fit under control. "It's been a long day and it's time for dinner." The Sannin said as he took out the food he brought with him.
Letting out a sigh, the genin accepted the food. Feeling hungry all of the sudden, the boy quickly begun to eat his dinner.
After a couple of minutes eating in silence, Jiraiya finally spoke out. "I don't want you to get the wrong idea, Sasuke, you are doing very well in your training." The white haired man informed. "Controlling senjutsu chakra is extremely difficult and, no matter how slow the progress might seem, it has been a steady and noticeable climb." He said. "Soon, you will not have to fear that cursed seal anymore." The legendary ninja declare with a grin.
Sasuke smile in return. "Thanks…" He said. "After everything you told me about Naruto, Akatsuki, and this new group, I know I have to get stronger." The young man stated. "I have many things I want to protect now."
Jiraiya smiled and returned to his food.
"Naruto… Sakura… Just hold on." Sasuke thought. "I will soon be strong enough to protect the both of you." The member of team seven declared.
Several hours after leaving the village, Naruto continued to run through the trees. Deciding that he was far enough away from Konoha, the blond suddenly disappeared in a puff of smoke.
Back in the Hidden Leaf, the real Naruto felt his clone's memories rush into him. He had switched places with his bunshin right before leaving Ichiraku's. It bothered the spiky haired teen having to lie so much to his friends, but he had no other choice. The blond remained quiet as he learned of how all of his friends said goodbye to him and, for a second, he wanted to call the whole thing off.
"Aww, do you need a minute to cry it out, Kit?" The Kyuubi said with a mocking tone inside the boy's mind.
The spiky haired boy growled. "Shut it…" He spat out. "I can't believe I actually missed you at one point…" The boy commented.
By now it was well into the night and the bulk of the villagers were starting to retreat back to their homes.
Having calmed down, the chunin left his hiding place and stealthily made his way through the village. In the back of his mind, Naruto remember the simpler times during which he just to sneak around like this to pull off his pranks.
After a couple of minutes jumping from roof to roof, the Sharingan user arrived at the deserted Uchiha district. "Right on time… I see that Kakashi's habits haven't rubbed off on you." A voice greeted the blond in the darkness.
Narrowing his eyes, Naruto waited until Uchiha Itachi allowed himself to be seen. The young man noticed that the older ninja was not wearing his scratched forehead protector and his Akatsuki cloak was replaced by a plain black one.
"I take it that you have settled your affair in the village." The fake missing nin commented.
"If you mean, saying goodbye to all my friends after lying to them for three weeks, then yeah, I've settled that." The Jinchuuriki bitterly answered.
A sigh escaped the black haired man. "You will see them again… But for now this is something we must all bear with."
Despite the assurance, the chunin continued to growl under his breath. "Let's just go and get his over with as quick as possible." He suggested between gritted teeth.
"Hold on for just one moment… There is a reason why I asked you to meet me here." Itachi responded.
Naruto watched in confusion as he observed the older Sharingan user walked towards one of the houses. "What are you doing?" He asked.
The undercover ninja placed a seal on the building. "The Uchiha has been plagued by a curse of hatred since their conception. If the clan is to have a future, whether is with you or Sasuke, all those deep dark secrets and scars need to be burn away so that you can start with a clean slate." As if on cue, the house the man was touching went up in flames. Immediately, several other building in the district also caught on fire.
Taken aback by the other Sharingan user's actions, all that the blond could do was watch as the flames quickly spread from building to building. "Why did you need me here?" He asked once the shock begun to subside. "You could have met me outside after you burnt the district down… After all, you seem to have no problem going in and out of the village." The boy commented.
Itachi remained quiet for a couple of seconds before turning around and looking at the Uzumaki. "Despite everything, this was still my home… Before I could do this, I needed a reminder of what this is all for." The man answered.
The blond narrowed his eyes. "And what's that?"
The Uchiha took another short moment during which his eyes were fixed on the spiky haired teen. "The future." He simply answered. "Now come, we have much work to do and you have even more to learn." Itachi stated before walking into the flames.
Before following the older Sharingan user, the Jinchuuriki looked back one last time at the village. Thinking of all his friends and love ones that were staying behind, the young man steeled himself. "I will come back." Naruto promised before walking forward.
The Power to Heal and Destroy - Fin
Kisame – I guess that is it…
Itachi – Before we leave, we would like to…
Phoenixsun – Hey guys. I'll take it from here. You two go ahead and join the party.
Kisame – Did they eat all of the shrimp already?
Phoenixsun – Uhm… I'm pretty sure they haven't…
Kisame – Great! I still have time! (Runs off)
Itachi – Is there really shrimp left?
Phoenixsun – (Smirks) I never ordered any.
Itachi – (Smirks) It has been a pleasure working with you. (Gives a small bow and leaves)
Phoenixsun –Thanks for all your work. Sigh, here we go…
Author's Notes – And so it ends. First things first, I want to thank those of you who made it all the way to this chapter, I know it wasn't easy, and I appreciate it. Also, a special thanks to anyone who ever took the time to leave a review comment on the story, you have no idea how much they help me with each chapter.
I have been considering ending this fic for a while now. Sure there was a lot more stuff I had planned, but it has been so long, and the Naruto franchise as whole is so different to when I first started this. Back in the day, Itachi was still evil, "Arashi" was supposed to be the leader of Akatsuki, Rin was supposed to be Konan, the Eight-tails was supposed to be a snake, Naruto's real last name was supposed to be Kazama, and Obito… Well that was the one headcanon that proved to be true… As the Naruto story progressed, I adapted my fic to better fit with the new revelations we were given and incorporated things that would help my story, but even then it was getting more difficult to draw inspiration with each passing chapter and after over 10 years, well, I think is time for the curtain call.
The first time I thought of ending this fic was all the way back to Sasuke leaving in chapter 31. I was fairly content with some of the things I had accomplished up to that point, including a few that I had not seen much in other fics like Bijuu Mode Gaara, Naruto with Susanoo, and Jiraiya training Sasuke, even if most of the fandom hated that last one and it seemingly cost me a lot of my readers. However, I decided to stick with it for a bit longer to see how it went. I had, for a long time, decided that Naruto would finish this last arc by leaving the village so I knew that I had another possible end point coming soon. In fact, I strongly considered ending it here regardless and continuing in a sequel, PHD's own Shippuden if you will. However after much consideration, the decision to finish it altogether was made during the times between chapters 35 and 36.
At the time of this chapter going up I have no plans to write a sequel. The reason why this chapter ends the way it does, with several characters' stories not truly ending but simply moving on to their next chapters, is because this is something I have envisioned for a really long time and I wanted the chapter to stay true to that. It's bit self-indulging of me, but I really wanted to see this chapter be done as it was back when the story was to keep going. There is a chance I could change my mind and continue the story that I had planned later down the road, but at this moment I just want to give PHD an ending.
I started this fic several years ago after reading a few "Naruto with Sharingan" stories and decided give it my own try. This was the first fanfic I ever wrote and I had a blast with it. I enjoy the interaction I had with several of my readers and every review notification I received made me smile. I can never thank all those who ever read this story enough. I just hope you had as much fun reading it as I had writing it. Thank you for your time and thank you so much for reading my fanfic.