Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto and am not earning anything of monetary value from this endeavor.
Chapter Twenty: La fin de la folie
"Let's settle things here, shall we?" said the newcomer, a slightly insane gleam in his eye. "This has been long overdue, and you did promise me a rematch."
"Indeed I did…" said Naruto, pulling out his second Raijin.
With a slight hum, the blade of yellow coursed out of Naruto's Raijin, and he held it, along with the already-active one at guard, pausing a moment before dashing forward to meet his opponents. Naruto noted, to his chagrin, that Sasuke had activated his Sharingan. With a running stab, Sasuke and Kabuto scattered, leaping to the right and left, respectively. With a quick move, Naruto kicked off the ground, heading for Kabuto. With a small swipe, which Kabuto dodged, Naruto disappeared, appearing directly behind a retreating Sasuke.
His arms raised in a helmet-breaker stance, Naruto slashed downward, hitting Sasuke on one of his wings. Sasuke screamed in agony as a chunk of his wing fell off, and electricity coursed through his body, causing him to stagger to his knees. Naruto landed deftly on the grass, his blades poised to strike, when he suddenly spun, swinging his blade in a wide arc to deter the now-advancing Kabuto. Suddenly, Naruto choked slightly as he felt an extremely strong hand grip the back of his neck, squeezing in an attempt to break his spinal cord.
Naruto disappeared and reappeared again behind Sasuke, who, now prepared for it, spun wildly, his hand-like wings smacking Naruto roughly into a tree, which promptly collapsed. Naruto looked up immediately, dashing forward and dodging needles as quickly as Kabuto threw them. Sasuke rose up into the air, his back to the sun. his wing had evidently regenerated, as Naruto looked up quickly, squinting as sunlight hit his eyes. With a curse, Naruto rolled to his side, narrowly avoiding a dive-bomb from the airborne Sasuke. As he rolled to his feet, two needles embedded themselves in his left arm. With a curse, Naruto grabbed them and tore them out, noting, with annoyance, the numbness now growing where the wounds had been.
A smiling Kabuto walked slowly to the blonde, while Sasuke readied another dive-bomb. Naruto grasped around in his pouch, as he began sweating from the poison. Finally retrieving what he wanted, Naruto stuck the syringe into his arm, the faintly blue liquid draining into his bloodstream as Kabuto looked on, visibly irritated that his poison had been foiled. Naruto didn't need to look up to know what was coming as a heavy impact rocketed into his torso, slamming him into the ground and creating a great crater as it went. Naruto growled as the force continued, pushing him into the dirt and across the field. Naruto held his now-inactive Raijin up, slamming it into his attacker's back, and activating it.
A scream of anger came from said attacker as he was flung into yet another tree. Coughing the bad blood out, Naruto looked on as Sasuke struggled and writhed in agony on the floor as the pain kicked in fully. Kabuto was standing on the far side of the field. With a quick series of Seals, Kabuto slapped his palms together, and with a mumble, spat out a series of torso-sized fireballs. Naruto vaguely flinched as he dodged aside, the rapid-firing barrage of fireballs unceasing in its ferocity. With a rapid Hiraishin back to Sasuke, he lifted the still-writhing Uchiha's body and held it in front of him as the flaming spheres impacted, causing more screams from the 'unfortunate' boy.
Naruto smiled slightly as the barrage ceased, tossing the Uchiha aside. His formidable regeneration would assure his safety, though the pain…
Naruto dashed forward, both Raijin drawn as he charged. Kabuto grasped the Kusanagi lightly, retrieving a small kunai, perhaps to supplement his blade. Meeting Naruto head on, Kabuto manipulated his weapons reasonably well, though he was still far outclassed by Naruto, who was, by far, a better swordsman. With a feint, Kabuto performed an overhead swipe with his kunai, supplemented by his chakra, thereby increasing its range. Naruto stepped back, narrowly avoiding the almost-visible Chakra-inlay. Kabuto saw his chance and thrust the Kusanagi forward, only to have it slapped aside by one of Naruto's Raijin.
Naruto flicked his right Raijin, and gashed Kabuto's arm, cutting his accessory cephalic vein, producing a splatter of blood. The Kusanagi dropped to the ground as Kabuto fell back, nursing his right arm and attempting to stem the blood flow with his medical jutsu. Kabuto cursed under his breath as he retreated, stepping back slowly as Naruto approached to deal the killing blow.
"Habataku Chidori!" came a cry from behind, urging Naruto to dodge. However, it was too little, too late as intense pain shot through Naruto's body. The blonde looked down to see Sasuke's electricity-covered hand reaching out from his waist. He noted with perhaps misplaced interest that the lightning was now black instead of blue; an indication of Sasuke's now-modified chakra. Naruto grunted and attempted to pull away, when, suddenly, Kabuto grabbed him by his shoulder, and, with a sharp movement, impaled him on the Kusanagi.
"You almost hit me, you twit!" came Sasuke's voice from behind as Naruto slouched, his spine snapped from the chidori's entry. Sasuke pulled his arm out quickly, as did Kabuto, leaving Naruto collapsed on the ground, blood streaming out from the gaping wounds. Naruto struggled to ignore the pain, moving his right arm in an attempt to perform a Gogyo Kaiin. Suddenly, he found that his fingers weren't there anymore. Growling in annoyance, he looked up to see a grinning Kabuto. Naruto felt his spine patching itself up slowly, though they'd probably slice his head off before it could repair itself fully.
"Don't fucking die, you little earwax." Came a familiar voice. "Get past your bloody stigmas and FIGHT!"
Two glowing eyes.
Naruto growled a bit as Kabuto kicked him in the stomach. He looked up to see Sasuke, his face contorted into a maniacal grin. Kabuto was also quite amused, kicking and kicking and kicking and…well, basically not noticing the rapid movements of Naruto's left hand. Well, actually they did notice, but only when he said it.
"Katon, Karyuudan no jutsu!"
The air was still for a moment, before a great serpentine form erupted into being around Naruto's body, incinerating the surrounding grass and scorching the earth. The flame dragon reared up, and with a mighty roar, spat out a great succession of 'Goukakyuu'-sized fireballs, which produced enormous explosions where they landed. Kabuto and Sasuke separated and leapt across the grassy area, dodging where they could and minimizing where they couldn't. Kabuto seemed aghast at this sudden turn of events. It was, indeed preposterous. To be able to produce a 'ryuudan technique using one handed seals?
Meanwhile, in the safety of the dragon's coils, Naruto placed his left hand on his back, where the great hole was, and, with a flash of green, began to heal the wound. It wasn't as large as he thought, though he was still bleeding profusely. Naruto looked up, his apathetic gaze now focused on the flying figure above him. Naruto stood to his feet shakily, his innate demon-granted regenerative prowess now in full steam, assisted by his Shosen jutsu. He wouldn't be fighting at full speed for a very long time, but it would be enough.
Naruto shook his head and reached for his severed digits on the ground, placing each individual one back into its respective socket, where the Kyuubi's red chakra, leaking slowly out of the wounds, almost grasping them, knitting bone and tissue back together. Naruto tested his fingers, moving them individually. Some nerve endings had not been restored yet, but he was capable of seals and wielding of his blades. Naruto ducked aside just as Sasuke's winged form came bursting through the flame and dispelling the dragon. Naruto turned to see Sasuke clawing at the ground, before looking up, his eyes gleaming with insanity.
Behind him, Kabuto stood still, performing a large series of seals, before placing his palms on the ground. With a great burst of smoke, Manda, the great indigo serpent emerged, hissing harshly as he coiled around Kabuto's position. With a scant look at Naruto, Manda looked back at Kabuto and hissed, mouthing a few select vulgarities, before telling him to provide a thousand sacrifices.
"Die, you freak!" cried Sasuke, charging forward as Naruto sidestepped, activating both Raijin and cutting one of the Uchiha's wings off. With a swift spin, Naruto plunged both blades into the Uchiha's gut, kneeing him in the groin and roundhousing him to the side as Kabuto charged forth, on the great serpent's head. Naruto narrowly managed to dodge, evading neatly to the side, where the dust from Manda's charge settled. Naruto recovered quickly, unclasping his gauntlet. Manda was quickly coiled up again. Like a compressed spring, he 'bounced' up, bent on flattening the tiny (in comparison) blonde.
Drawing blood across the elaborate tattoo, Naruto could hear Kabuto shouting as Manda's shadow loomed. Naruto grinned, and disappeared.
Naruto reappeared in the forest, where one of his kunai had hit a tree. The massive explosion caused by Manda's return to ground shook the trees, sending any birds who hadn't yet escaped fleeing in fear. Naruto sighed as he planted his palms upon the ground. He wouldn't call Horus. This was not a matter of right versus wrong. This was a mission, so Horus was unlikely to comply.
"Kuchiyose no jutsu!"
A great cloud of smoke exploded from the forest as an incredibly large hawk rose from the forest, collapsing trees in its wake. With a flap of its great wings, it was airborne, circling the hissing Manda. Naruto mouthed his instructions to the great hawk, and they swooped in, dodging the great number of fireballs Kabuto was now sending up. The great hawk spread its wings, swooping up as its immense talons ripped across Manda's back, eliciting screeches of annoyance and pain.
The great hawk swooped once again into the sky, dodging where it could and minimizing where he couldn't. Kabuto seemed to be launching a neverending volley of fireballs, perhaps a testament to his impressive Chakra reserves.
"I cannot take this barrage for long." Said the hawk, its voice soft, but ringing with authority.
"Then we'll have to finish this fast. Swoop in one more time. And…"
With a screech of understanding, the Hawk charged in once again, getting hit by a few fireballs, but not really feeling the effects. This time, as the hawk neared the great serpent, Naruto leapt off, drawing and activating both his blades.
"Tenken; Hyakuhei no kuchikukan!" cried he, swinging both the Raijin in wide arcs, then repeating in the opposite directions. Kabuto leapt off the great serpent's head just as it began sliding off, bursting into flame at Naruto's command.
Kabuto dropped and rolled on the ground, holing up his kusanagi to block Naruto's blows. Naruto flipped in midair, spinning slightly as his blades span with him.
"Tenken; Tokoyonokuni no Houko!" cried he, his blades bursting on fire and causing a great explosion as they connected with Kabuto's Kusanagi. Kabuto staggered as he struggled to recover, looking up just as Naruto began approaching. With a growl, Kabuto began to run. Naruto noted the hand seals he had begun, and began hand seals of his own. Kabuto soon stopped and turned.
"Doton; Doryuudan!" cried the grey-haired sound nin, a column of earth erupting from the ground and sculpting itself into the guise of a dragon. Charging at Naruto, the dragon opened its jaws, just as Naruto completed his own set of seals.
"Raiton; Raikou!" shouted Naruto, an arc of blue lightning erupting from his finger. The bolt of lightning pierced the 'dragon's mouth, causing an explosion from the inside-out. Naruto looked on as the dust from the explosion settled. Suddenly, Kabuto's voice rang out over the settling dust.
"Doton; Sanryuu bakuhatsu!" Naruto's eyes widened as three stone dragons holding red pearls in their mouths erupted from the dust, heading straight for him. Naruto immediately began running backwards, flipping where he could to avoid Kabuto's semi-intelligent missiles. With a high jump, Naruto disappeared and reappeared on a spot below the dragons. Forming a Rasengan before they had time to react, Naruto pushed it into one of the dragon's 'neck's. the resulting damage caused the owned of the neck to collapse, causing a fantastic explosion where it landed. Naruto had to move quickly as the other two, noting the source of their fallen companion's demise, charged straight at him, forcing him to leap high into the air in order to dodge them.
Suddenly, Naruto felt a hand grasp him by the head. Growling in annoyance, Naruto grabbed his assailant's wrist, and, realizing who, exactly it was, teleported behind him and delivered a vicious kick to his side. Sasuke fell to the side, getting hit at the side by one of the dragons, though not hard enough for it to explode.
Naruto was vaguely aware of Kabuto's charging at him as he began forming seals while dashing at full speed across the grass.
"Doton; Doryuheki!" cried Naruto, leaping forward and turning back, spitting a glob of earth out, which, upon touching ground, erupted upwards in an incredibly large pillar of earth, dwarfing the trees in size. The two remaining dragons, unable to change their trajectories, detonated relatively harmlessly upon the great stone wall. Naruto looked around, growling as he leapt aside to avoid Sasuke. Kabuto charged at him from behind, swinging his blade with little finesse. Naruto staggered as he reached ground. He flinched as the Kusanagi erupted from his belly, having been stuck into his back by Kabuto.
Naruto exhaled and grasped the blade's edge, gripping tightly as Kabuto struggled to retrieve it. Naruto grunted, and twisted to the side, planting the inactive Raijin on the side of Kabuto's head. Kabuto jumped back swiftly, letting go of the Kusanagi as he went. He began another set of seals, when, suddenly, he paused, because of an increasingly large shadow overhead. With a great screech, Naruto's summoned hawk swooped down, its great talons aiming straight for Kabuto. In an act that, he would later regret, Kabuto let loose his prepared jutsu at the Hawk.
"Suiton; Teppodama!" cried the grey-haired youth, launching an immense globule of water into the air. While on its course to hit the Hawk, it never actually succeeded as the hawk burst into a cloud of smoke, the byproduct of a de-summoning. Kabuto looked around frantically, only to have something cold and hard placed on the side of his head. A powerful grip clamped around his neck, preventing his escape.
"No, no! Don't…" cried Kabuto erratically, attempting in vain to free himself of Naruto's vice-like grip, and his inevitable death.
With a brief hum, Kabuto fell to the ground, twitching slightly before staying still on the ground. It occurred to Naruto that he had never planted a seal on Kabuto, perhaps an indication of his skill or preparedness. Wincing as he pushed the Kusanagi out of his waist, Naruto fell onto one knee and coughed out a glob of black blood. He scanned the surrounding area, before a cry came from above.
"NARUTOOOOOO!" screamed the winged Uchiha, charging down from above, his demonic-black chidori held out like a spear. Naruto stepped forward, and hefting his second Raijin, spun around and smashed it into the incoming attack. With a great flash of light, cracks slowly snaked across the Raijin, causing it to shatter, its chakra-dispelling ability not able to handle such an incredible attack. Dropping the remaining handle, Naruto immediately charged a Rasengan up, grinding it into Sasuke's remaining wing, though his lost one was regenerating rapidly.
With a yell of rage, Sasuke, both his wings put out-of-use, kicked Naruto's knee, causing him to buckle. Naruto growled and threw a punch, only to have Sasuke dodge it rather easily. Naruto squinted, and leapt back, understanding what had happened. Sasuke looked straight at him with his now three-tomoe Sharingan, his smile growing ever more.
"Katon; Goukakyuu no jutsu!" cried Sasuke, a great fireball emerging from his mouth. Naruto dodged aside, his left pants leg slightly singed as he leapt forward, his Raijin activated.
"Do you know the story of the Fourth Hokage and Uchiha Benimaru?" said Naruto, attacking quickly, but uselessly, as Sasuke avoided every attack.
"What the hell are you talking for, blondie?" said Sasuke, his attacks also being avoided or countered by Naruto. "I don't want to talk, I want you to DIE!"
"The Uchiha clan's champion, Benimaru, challenged the fourth for leadership of Konoha in a council-sanctioned match." Said Naruto, smartly dodging sasuke's attacks and retaliating with his own. "They met in the forest of death to settle it."
"I don't like where this is going, blondie. Shut up and die!" cried Sasuke, as Naruto backflipped, deactivating his Raijin and placing it back in its holster. "Underestimating me, are you? Well, fuck you to hell!"
Naruto got into his trademark stance, grabbing Sasuke's right wrist and slamming his elbow harshly with a palm strike. Sasuke growled in anger and leapt at Naruto again, swiping at him with his now elongated claws. Naruto smacked the attempts aside with his own wrist and moved in, delivering a kick to Sasuke's left ankle, causing him to stumble, while pushing his elbow back and producing a rib-cracking impact, forcing Sasuke back onto his rear.
"The Fourth defeated the Uchiha not by the ruthless use of his Hiraishin, but by placing him in situations even the Sharingan would be hard pressed to allow him a way out." Said Naruto, re-activating his blade and holding it to Sasuke's neck.
With a harsh growl, Sasuke batted the blade aside, wincing at the shock. His wings now fully regenerated, he pushed off the ground and flew into the air, perhaps in an attempt to flee. He Was about twenty meters above ground when Naruto finished his seals.
"Raiton; Raikou!" he shouted, the familiar arc of lightning shooting from his fingers and hitting Sasuke square on the back. This was evidently not enough, as the Uchiha continued his flight, only slightly winded from the blast. With a short curse, Naruto teleported, appearing on Sasuke's back and delivering a harsh double kick to the back. Sasuke plummeted to the ground, hitting earth with a sickening 'crunch' as undoubtedly more bones splintered. Naruto landed nearby, his Raijin activated and ready.
Sasuke got up shakily, barely supporting his own weight. His regeneration was, indeed working, but it did nothing to stifle the pain he was evidently feeling. With a growl and a shake of his rather long mane of hair, Sasuke began running towards Naruto, accelerating slowly and moving into a lunge. Naruto moved swiftly aside, and, with a swift movement, kicked Sasuke in the stomach. Stumbling a bit, The Uchiha seemed to back away, facing down Naruto, who was in a readied stance, his Raijin activated and ready.
"We could go on forever." Said Sasuke, grinning. His grin turned quickly to a frown as Naruto deactivated his Raijin and placed it in its holster. "What the hell are you…"
"Kanashibari no jutsu." Came a voice from behind him.
Sasuke fell to the ground, a shocked expression still present on his face. An ANBU stood behind him, wearing a white coat. He was flanked soon after by two black-coated ANBU. The white-coat took off his mask and looked straight at Naruto.
"Good job, Naruto." Said he, his associates picking Sasuke up, while another team, who had seemingly appeared from nowhere, retrieved Kabuto's body. A few medic nin wandered out of the forest soon after, though they did not find much to do. Sasuke's wings soon disappeared, along with the odd coloration of his skin.
"Not that good, Yamato." Naruto said, his gaze following Sasuke's form for a while. "I've got to learn that technique…"
The Fifth Hokage sat in her chair, twiddling with a pen. Veins were vaguely present on her forehead and temples. She was, obviously, under a lot of stress. The three people in front of her were infuriating her to no end. They were members of Konoha's civilian council and two were driving for the death sentence. Not as a whole, of course. Just for Naruto. Lucky boy. Yes, they had, in fact, awoken her at seven in the morning to condemn the person who had returned the Uchiha to Konoha.
Naruto himself stood outside the door, looking in through a small slot. At his side were two ANBU, told to escort him there as soon as he returned. As he had expected, even his retrieval of Sasuke didn't assure him the nullification of the death penalty. He could only sigh as the argument raged on inside the Fifth's office.
"The Kyuubi vessel is obviously a threat to our community!" cried one, and elderly woman gesturing wildly with her arms, as if to give an impression of the nine-tailed foxes great size.
"Yes, yes. It should be eliminated before it is allowed to break free!" said another, an old man in his late seventies.
"While I, too am inclined to wish for Uzumaki Naruto's death, on the wishes of our citizens, I find that he is no more a threat to Konoha than Uchiha Sasuke is." Said the final council member, the only one who wasn't totally for the skinning of the so-called 'Kyuubi vessel'. He was Mitokado Homura, the only civilian council member who had, after numerous meetings with Naruto, warmed to him considerably, thanks to the Third's influence.
Tsunade perked up slightly at the last statement. With a slight smile to Homura, which was not returned, She faced each council member individual, resting her gaze once again on Homura.
"What, then, can you suggest, Mitokado-san?" she said, her own, and, indeed the eyes of the others fixed intently upon the elderly man.
"Exile." Said he, struggling internally as the word left his mouth. Tsunade considered it for a moment, ignoring the slight protests of the other two, who were still pushing for execution. Tsunade could only sigh, swiveling her chair to face the window. Her brow was stretched into a frown, and only divine intervention could have stopped her from utterly slaughtering the two fools behind her. Restraining herself in an impressive display of poise, she turned around, her amber eyes flashing with thinly-covered anger.
"You are condemning him to life as a missing nin." She said, looking straight at each of the council members. "At least grant him a position somewhere in an outpost away from here…Give him some meaning…"
Naruto was touched. Tsunade was truly battling for his life. He couldn't say what he'd done to deserve it, but it was sorely appreciated nonetheless. Naruto's thoughts were drawn to Homura, who was speaking up again.
"We have an outpost, an embassy, if you will, a great distance to the west of here. In the area known to us only as Ropeue. We have established a small outpost there to conduct relations, and it's nearly halfway across the globe…" said Homura, looking straight at the Fifth. "I already have another shinobi there, but he's due to return. It's convenient and we'll not see him for quite an amount of time."
Naruto walked into his apartment, closing the door behind him as he went. The Hokage's verdict was to be announced in the afternoon, though the Council had pushed for a mock-trial to be put into place. Naruto could do nothing by wait.
Naruto picked up one of his books, fallen to the ground because of Ino's rampage. He had heard that she had been let off incredibly lightly, Though he couldn't have expected much more. It then occurred to him that he was feeling faint. Stumbling backwards, he fell onto his couch, falling unconscious immediately. Poison? Thought he, as blackness overtook his senses. Suddenly, a literal light at the end of the dark tunnel appeared, with someone at its doorway.
"Yo." Came the familiar voice. "I'm glad that even one such as yourself has the sense to heed my threats."
Naruto found himself in the same white room, seated on the same white couch facing the same strange flashy box. He looked to the ;other', sitting with his legs folded on a black chair on the opposite side of the room. The 'other' was reading a book, apparently on the 'art' of waging war. The 'other' finally put the book down and looked up, a grin falling over his face.
"Would you really have done it?" asked Naruto, looking straight at his counterpart.
"Hell yes." Said he, his grin turning into a malevolent smile, then into a sheepish frown. "I wouldn't want to, but I would."
"Why?" Naruto asked, folding his legs to mirror the 'other's.
"Stupid question…Then again…" said he, shifting slightly. "Understand this, my friend. We are both parts of a person's mind. You know this. I am Uzumaki Naruto's drives and instincts, and you are Uzumaki Naruto's conscience and sense of reasoning. The Ego was supposed to do that, but since he doesn't exist anymore…"
Naruto stared unblinkingly at his counterpart, who was currently drinking that same brown bubbly liquid he had seen in their previous meetings.
"Your sense of reasoning has been corrupted by your function as a part of the psyche, that is to say, your reasoning not includes the clause 'for the greater good', and therefore you are willing to kill Uzumaki Naruto in order to make the world a better place." Said the other, making slight movements with his index finger. "I do not agree to this."
"Because you are the Id, the chaos and the driving force?"
"No, because I am his humanity." Said the Id simply, looking straight at Naruto. "Do you know why people have both a Super-Ego and an Id?"
Naruto began to speak, but was cut off immediately.
"No, you don't. Your logical explanations will do you no good here." Said the 'other'. "One is the embodiment of his human nature and the other, the embodiment of the wish, the logic that one could be more than human."
Naruto was puzzled.
"The Super-Ego in itself is the desire to do good, whether 'good' is bad in any context. A being made purely of a super-ego is bound for insanity, as he would, after the better part of four seconds, that nothing is black or white…Which brings us to you. You are both the Super-Ego and half the Ego, and are therefore able to mediate between your experiences. That, however, still makes you a self-righteous zealot, but, hey, what can you do?"
"But that, in turn would inquire that you have half of the Ego within you as well." Said Naruto, frowning. "And that you would be able to control your experiences as well as I can mine."
"Here's a cookie." Said the 'Other', tossing Naruto a cookie. "Why, pray tell, do you think I didn't rape Sakura, slaughter the village, and brutally mutilate Orochimaru's body?"
Naruto nodded, though he couldn't help but shudder at the examples.
"Don't want Sakura now, though…" said the other, chewing a cookie of his own. Naruto looked away. "So, anyway. Back to the topic. I hope you understand this. No matter how the Ego mediates between my desires and my actions, I will do whatever it takes to keep Uzumaki Naruto alive, Be it killing every single soul in that disgusting village, or just killing people, in general."
"Why are you telling me your reasons all of a sudden?"
"Because we're going to die and I don't get to talk to you much." Said the 'Other', smiling.
"Why did I allow your to handle Orochimaru's lapdog and the Emo-faggot?" asked the 'Other'.
Naruto shook his head slightly.
"If I had appeared, I would doubtlessly have annihilated every last trace of them from existence. And have killed the Uchiha boy. Dooming us to death anyway…Or, well, the death of your village…" said he, grinning. "But there is another reason. When one is exposed to the Kyuubi's soul-rending chakra for too long, one's body is affected. How, your face asks. Well, firstly, healing factors don't come cheap. Every wound that heals especially fast will age your internal systems by twelve hours. Now, think about it. The Kyuubi, its flaming chakra surrounding you, would cause third degree burns at a very, very regular basis. Something along the lines of, oh, Three hundred per two minutes?"
Naruto almost stood out of his seat.
"Shocking, isn't it. You might be wondering why I'm acting so peaceful immediately after saying that we're going to die. That's because this is inevitable. We suffer from what is known as 'type three non-genetic progeria.'. While it will not continue without stimulus, further use of the Kyuubi's chakra will likely accelerate it, and therefore kill us. I hadn't foreseen the side effects…Our internal organs are currently functioning like those of a fifty-year old's. We will die young, I'm afraid."
"But…the burns alone cannot cause such aging…"
"You are correct. What, pray tell, did you think happens to all the Raikiri and Chidori and stabbings and cutting-off-of-fingers?"
"Nothing we can do…"
There was silence.
"What did you see when the two red eyes appeared?"
Naruto looked up, perhaps still not grasping the subject of his inevitable death too well yet.
"A young boy surrounded by adults who were pelting him with stones. He was wearing a white shirt, though there was a lot of blood on it." Naruto said, trying to remember. He then looked at his counterpart. "Who was that child? Why was he being attacked and what does he have to do with me?"
"That was Uzumaki Naruto." Said the other simply. "Moron."
"Then why wasn't I seeing through his eyes?"
"Because we were both facets. Nothing solid, just ideologies." Said the other, sipping his drink. "Forget it. Your time here is over."
"Wait, tell me about…"
Naruto's eyes shot open, and he shot out of the chair, collapsing back soon after when he noted that the 'other' was not there. He held up his hand, and looked it over, sighing as he leaned back on the couch. Death was not such an alien prospect to Naruto, indeed, he had been incredibly close to it on numerous occasions. But this…It was a confirmed sentence, a counter upon his head measuring the time he had left. Even the 'other' who wanted and enjoyed life so much was resigned to his fate. The lack of hope was in itself, truly gut wrenching.
Naruto sat in his seat, his extremities feeling strangely cold, even on such a hot day. He could only gaze into nothingness as he considered his situation. A deep feeling in the pit of his belly seemed to be the only thing he could focus on. He had not experienced anything of the sort for a long while. It was nervousness, even anxiety, a feeling so prevalent in his younger years but so incredibly unbelievable now. Naruto's head jerked slightly as a rapping of knuckles at the door caught his attention, and he walked to receive it, still feeling rather cold.
"Naruto, the Hokage wants to see you…" said a somber looking Kakashi at the doorway. Naruto nodded numbly and followed him out, closing the door behind him and steeling himself.
The two walked down the deserted lane in silence, navigating through Konoha's twists and turns with relative ease. They soon got to the business district, where merchants, only moments ago cheerfully hawking their wares, went totally silent as their most dreaded nemesis approached. Mumbling began amongst the gathered crowd, and some openly displayed their apparent hatred of him with curses and other nasty things.
"Kakashi, kill him!" cried a young man, immediately backed up by a multitude of cheers. Naruto hadn't been to very crowded areas before, mostly relying on a rather secluded shop near his house, where he had established a relative friendship with the shopkeeper. Naruto was, frankly, not surprised at the hostility portrayed by the villagers, though, deep within him, he had hoped of something better, perhaps a facet of actual humanity in these masses, a hope all but eradicated now.
They walked through the crowded market, Naruto weathering the stares and insults. He had quite wondered why Kakashi had insisted on taking such a crowded route, but he had a rough idea of what Kakashi was doing, though he hardly thought it apt, it would have been somewhat of a blessing, had it worked.
They soon reached the center of town, the Hokage building. At its door were a group of Chuunin, holding off the crowds of antagonists. Many were holding banners and chanting rather catchy slogans like 'Die, Demon, die!' or 'don't you dare breather our air'. Kakashi escorted Naruto into the Hokage building, where the shut doors provided some relief from the rabble.
"Just hope for the best, Naruto." Said Kakashi, pointing to an ornate wooden door down the corridor. Naruto turned and smiled, bowing. Even in his current situation, all he could do was his best to set those who worried to rest.
"It has been my honor, Sensei."
With a firm handshake, Naruto headed for the door, pushing it open and heading for judgment.
Shadows fell over nearly every corner of the room. Its blinds drawn and the lights off, It was the epitome of malevolence, though it was not intended as so. No, the room had been intended for the meting out of justice and repercussion, though it was only reserved for criminals of the highest order. The Fifth sat at a great desk at the end of the room. Adding to it was the fact that it was on a raised platform. To his left was a raised box, where his prosecutors, and, less likely, defenders, would be seated.
"Good afternoon, Naruto." Said Tsunade, her voice rather strained. "The council has deliberated and will now announce the results of your…trial…"
Naruto nodded slightly and, at Tsunade's gesture, turned to the right, where the council sat, with Homura at its head. The old lady, whose silhouette Naruto recognized as Utatane Koharu, another of the Third's former classmates. She, unlike Homura, had steadfastly refused to associate with Naruto, apparently because of her grandson being lost in the Kyuubi's attack. She and her other associate, the other old man, had been vehemently ruling against Naruto in every situation his name arose in.
"Uzumaki Naruto, the following charges have been filed against you by the hidden village of fire's civilian council." Said Homura, picking up a piece of paper. "Assault on a fellow shinobi of the same allegiance, Assault on the remaining heir of a clan…classified as the elimination of a clan, Murder, high treason and various offenses against Konoha's laws."
Homura looked up, placing down the paper and evidently trying his hardest not to crumple it.
"How do you plead?"
Naruto looked up, then at Tsunade, then back.
"I plead innocence." Cried Naruto without hesitation.
"Do not lie, scum!" cried Koharu, standing so that her face was partially visible in the dim light. "You assaulted Uchiha Sasuke and attempted to take his life!"
"Only in self defense, my lady." Said Naruto, looking straight at his accuser. "Uchiha Sasuke, in a fit of rage, attacked me prior to my retaliation."
"Have you any proof or are you simply lying as your kin do so well?" growled Koharu, her voice dripping with malice. She smiled as Naruto bowed his head.
"Only the truth of my words, my lady. I cannot give you any more proof than what I say. To that end, I place in your hands my fate." Naruto said, looking at her once again. Asking Sakura to the stand had crossed his mind, but it had fled as quickly as it had come, for obvious reasons.
"Your fate, had it been decided by me, would have been nothing worse than death!" cried the elderly woman, displaying vigor beyond her years and anger beyond comprehension. Homura stood and sat her down, exchanging some harsh dialogue with her in the process. Homura soon stood again, sighing as he continued. "No proof has been put forth by the defendant, but it has been established that he did, indeed assault the Uchiha, therefore Uzumaki Naruto is guilty for the charge of assault."
"The charge of attempted elimination of a clan; by the assassination or elimination of its final remaining heir is also tied to the charges of Murder and high treason." Homura said, pushing his glasses up. "How do you plead?"
"I am innocent." Said Naruto, his voice and mannerisms still dignifies even after Koharu's scathing assault and the subsequent verdict.
"You have already been proven guilty, and of lying to us. Just accept your death with honor!" shouted the Homura's other counterpart.
"I will disgrace this court if I am slain on false charges. On the event, One will note that, while in possession of my full arsenal of weapons, I did not attempt to, in any way kill Uchiha Sasuke. I merely intended to incapacitate him as he was on the verge of utilizing a B-rank assassination technique, the Chidori." Said Naruto, looking each of his jurors in the eye. "additionally, as you would have heartily ignored, the Uchiha clan has one additional scion. Uchiha Itachi. Therefore, I request that charge be voided."
"Uchiha Itachi is a missing-nin, and is therefore…" began Koharu.
"Still a scion of the Uchiha clan." Said Naruto, looking her in the eye, much to her discomfort. Homura seemed pleased, as did the Fifth.
"The charges of high treason and attempted elimination of a clan are hereby voided." Said Homura, smiling for a moment before frowning again as his two associates began clamoring. With a single look, he silenced them. "While you have provided substantial evidence for your innocence in terms of attempted murder, it cannot be doubted that you have presented no proof whatsoever to clear your assault charges."
Naruto could almost see the smugness flowing off the other two…
"We of the council have already predetermined your fate. This trial did prove to clarify some things and clear you entirely of the death penalty." Homura said, eyeing Naruto. "We have decided to grant you the compulsory title of Konoha Special Chuunin, as well as a posting near the capital of Ropeue, Nlodon."
Naruto nodded slightly.
"As our ambassador to that region, you will be in charge of maintaining whatever relations we have with them and stopping any sort of military conflict, should any begin." Homura said, perhaps knowing full well the foolishness of his words. Ropeue had not even officially acknowledged their existence yet, let alone formed diplomatic ties, or diplomatic anything, for that matter. "You will be posted there for an indefinite amount of time, unless Konoha is in dire need of you."
"In that case, you are dismissed. You will have two weeks to plan your departure…"
"I need one day." Said Naruto, interrupting softly. "Today, to be exact. I can leave in the morning. I will need a map and supplies, so can I expect at least that?"
"Yes. Adequate supplies and four different maps of the areas you will be passing through will be allowed for use. You are to go to a port town in the southern part of the Fire country. From there, the current ambassador, who has just returned, and is staying there in anticipation of your arrival, will guide you to the ships and inform you of Ropeue's customs."
"You are dismissed, Uzumaki Naruto." Said the elderly man, pausing again. "One more thing."
Naruto turned and looked at him.
"It has been requested that the girl from the Sound country be taken with you. She seems to be asking for you, and we would deem it fitting if you would take her along." Said Homura, with a slight glance to the Hokage. "Is that agreeable?"
"Yes, thank you." Said Naruto, smiling slightly. With a small bow to both Homura and Tsunade, he disappeared through the doorway.
Naruto opened his cupboard, sorting through his various items of clothing, and noted that he could technically carry them all in one bag. He silently wondered why he had so few clothes, though a look at his current torn and tattered set was quite enough to answer his question. He pulled out a woolen jacket from deep within the recesses of his cupboard and folded it, placing it neatly into a moderately sized camping-backpack on the nearby bed. With a slight glance around his room, he began folding all of his clothes and piling them up into his bag.
A small knocking sound could be heard from the living room, drawing Naruto's attention. With a few deft steps to the door, It was opened, revealing Kakashi and Mitarashi Anko. Naruto smiled at them, and Anko gave a weak one, but it disappeared as Naruto let them in. They sat themselves down in the living room while Naruto hurried into the kitchen. He brought a small fruit basket out, its contents still fresh, along with some chocolate chip cookies.
"Wow. Who gave you those?" asked Anko, looking desirably at the cookies. Naruto merely smiled.
"I got them from Kotetsu and the staff at the administration building. The fruit basket, too." Said Naruto, ducking back into his own room.
"Naruto, how are you feeling?" came Anko's voice. Naruto paused in his folding, before turning again and giving a plastic smile no one could see.
"Fine, Anko-san. Just fine." Said he, folding the last pair of trousers and placing them neatly into his bag. "Would you happen to have any spare camping bags around?"
Anko and Kakashi looked at each other.
"Yes…" said Kakashi, pausing a moment. "Why?"
"The girl's coming as well. I'm guessing Konoha doesn't want any undesirables within their walls at all…" muttered Naruto, walking out into the hall and selecting a few books from his bookshelf. "Why are we all so somber again?"
"Why are you pretending, Naruto?" asked the grey-haired Jounin, exasperated. "I know you love this village and I know…"
"A lot, I guess." Naruto said, cutting in. With a small laugh, he continued. "I do love this village. I truly do."
"Then why are you pretending to enjoy this?"
"I'm not. I really am enjoying this." Said Naruto, pausing in his selection to look at a few of the books in his arms. "Would momotaro be a good book to bring along?"
"Naruto…" said Kakashi, ignoring the comment. Naruto turned, and faced with two dead-serious faces, sighed and placed his pile of books down.
"I will be doing my duty to Konoha, and that is all that matters." Said Naruto, the smile disappearing as he sat down on his chair. With a raised hand to stop any questions or exclamations, he continued. "I've just found out a lovely little thing from someone and I'm really not in the mood for feeling like crap right now. I don't want anyone to worry, and I don't want to worry."
"But we care for you and…" began Anko, before being cut off.
"I won't be here for very long now. I don't want anyone to think of me in a worrisome context. I can take care of myself now, and it's thanks to you guys and all the others who've accepted me." Said Naruto, with a wide smile.
Kakashi soon stood to leave, and, with a small look at Anko, she stood as well. Kakashi promised to bring a spare bag when he'd found one and Anko promised to bring by some clothes, an offer which rather shocked Naruto until she mentioned they would be for the girl.
Naruto closed the door behind them, and then moved into the kitchen, where a small bottle of apple juice awaited. With a short look out the window, where the sunlight seemed almost grey, He began to sip his juice.
Naruto walked through the many lines of metal gates, through the security and into the damp looking cell. This was Konoha's containment cell, where the temporary convicts or the just-interred were placed, in anticipation of their eventual transportation to the maximum security facility. The redhead, while still considered a threat, had been placed here once again, after having broken out once before. She looked up as he approached and, with a few feeble steps forward, grasped the bars that separated them.
"Just a little while longer. You'll have to wait just one more night in here." Said he, in a comforting tone. She nodded slightly, perhaps still wary of her mentor's 'murderer'. Naruto's gaze never wandered even as he asked his next question. "May I ask what your sizes are?"
The girl looked puzzled.
"Your sizes. Body sizes." Said he, reiterating his question.
"What the hell are you…?" began the girl, her intonation seeming rather angry. "You perverted piece of…"
"Now, now, please don't jump to any conclusions. I cannot allow you to run around in just those." Said he, interrupting before she could complete her sentence. She looked at him for a while, and then motioned for him to come closer with her index finger. He moved his ear closer to the bars, where she whispered what he needed.
"Thank you. Do you have any color preferences?" Naruto asked, his face still expressionless, though the girl's was quite red. She shook her head and looked him in the eye.
"Well, then, you'll be released tomorrow morning. We leave immediately after. I have a backpack for you at home and am currently stocking up on supplies, as I am quite certain that the village will attempt to give us less than what we need…" said he, with a small smile.
"Going? Where are we going?" she asked, looking puzzled.
"You're going to be my diplomatic aide."
"What? To where?" asked she, still visibly confused.
"Ropeue in the west, past the Sand and the Earth… It's somewhere most have never heard of, and even less have seen." Said Naruto, pulling up a dirty wooden chair by the cell and sitting himself down. "I've been told that Ropeuean merchants were the first to bring those mechanical objects here. With what accounts we have of them, they seem to be a very technologically advanced culture, though their knowledge of Jutsu and chakra is…limited, to say the least."
The redhead merely nodded. Naruto doubted she understood very much, though hopefully she would've gotten the general gist of things. A thought suddenly jumped into his mind.
"It's just occurred to me that we don't know each other's names." Said he, looking at the redhead, then smiling. "My name is Uzumaki Naruto, may I ask what yours is?"
The girl seemed befuddled.
"Mine is Tayuya…just…Tayuya."
"It is a good name." said Naruto, smiling.
They sat in relative silence for a while, with the occasional dripping of a leaky pipe down the tunnel. Soon, a Chuunin entered and informed Naruto of his time being up. Naruto stood, and, with a smile, wished Tayuya a good evening. He walked out of the administration building slightly happier that she was feeling less depressed. Her fiery temper was gradually returning, though something at the back of his head told him it might not bode so well for him…Traveling with someone with a temper would be fairly difficult…
The night passed quickly and Naruto soon found himself gazing out the window at an azure sky. He walked to the bathroom and went through his daily cleansing exercises, then moved back to the room. He slowly put his two heavy swords on, and lifted his camping bag. He had informed Tsunade of his decision to donate his large collection of books anonymously to the village library, and of his desire to donate his furniture to the administration.
With one last look around his room, he opened the door, grabbing another, slightly smaller bag on his way out.
Naruto reached the front gates just as the two ANBU escorting Tayuya approached. With a small smile, and a bow, he led Tayuya to the gate, where a small merchant caravan awaited, its driver a Chuunin. One of the ANBU took him aside.
"We have placed a restriction seal on the young lady. She will be immobilized if she goes further than seventy meters from you. To instantly immobilize her, simply shout the word 'shuushi' while utilizing a bird seal. To deactivate this type of immobilization, simply release the seal. To deactivate the actual seal itself, you have to utilize a 'Gyaku Gokuin' technique, though the instant immobilization is still usable." The ANBU said, demonstrating a 'bird' seal. "Please wait here. The Hokage is coming to see you off. Good luck Naruto."
Naruto nodded, and the ANBU waved, and disappeared. His associate disappeared as well. Naruto looked to the northern road, where Tsunade, accompanied by Kakashi, Anko, Kotetsu, Izumo, Jiraiya and a small group of assorted classmates and administrative staff approached. Naruto smiled and waved.
"Naruto! Your Hokage orders you to take care of yourself!" said a smiling Tsunade. "Sakura has also asked to be apprenticed under me. She couldn't come because of some sort of familial problem."
Naruto maintained his smile and nodded, shaking her hand. Tsunade hugged him, surprising him. With a smile, she let go, and pulled out the necklace he had returned to her. She grabbed his hand and placed the necklace into it, closing it and smacking it.
"You better live for this Village, and for the Third." She said, wiping away a small tear and moving aside. Jiraiya was next, smacking him on his back and smiling lecherously.
"Traveling along with a cute chick with a controllable immobilization seal? You lucky DOG!" said jiraiya, grinning and bleeding slightly out of his nose. Naruto laughed and elbowed him. Jiraiya laughed and reached into a pocket, pulling out two small orange books. "Icha Icha Paradise one and two, autographed collectors with extra scenes!"
Kakashi groaned and reached feebly, noting the gold sheen on the books. Naruto laughed again as Jiraiya moved aside to get a smack from Tsunade.
"Thanks, Jiraiya, Tsunade." Said Naruto, nodding to them and smiling. He pocketed the book, much to the dismay of Kakashi, who approached next. He approached and put his arm around Naruto, in an attempt to get to the books. His hand was slapped away and he laughed, placing his hand on Naruto's shoulder.
"You've grown a bit…" said Kakashi, his smile slightly visibly under his mask. He reached into his pocket and pulled out a small book, its cover worn and quite tattered. "This is the Jounin technique manual. I doubt the Third gave one to you, but here it is. It's got some basic Jounin techniques and a few from the forbidden scroll itself, so read it through, huh?"
"Thanks a bunch!" said Naruto, shaking Kakashi's hand. Anko came forward next, and immediately gave Naruto a kiss on the cheek. He blushed lightly and laughed.
"Well, kiddo. You're on your own! Take care of yourself and don't do anything naughty…" said she, winking. She pulled out a small scroll with a snake-like wax seal placed upon it. "This was a technique scroll Orochimaru gave me. I never bothered to open it, though I think you might need it, whether to learn tham or to experiment…"
"Thank you, Anko-san!" said the blonde, keeping the scroll in his pouch. With a hug and another kiss, she looked at her watch, and with a wave, disappeared in a puff of smoke. Kotetsu and Izumo came next, both shaking Naruto's hand.
"You've grown, Naruto." Said Kotetsu.
"Yep. Little runt." Said Izumo, chuckling.
Kotetsu pulled out a small black book and gave it to Naruto, who opened it and saw lines of nothing.
"A diary. Didn't know what else to get you…" said Izumo sheepishly. With a laugh and a pat of the back, Izumo stepped aside. Kotetsu did the same, and they left with Tsunade, walking back to the administration building.
More of Naruto's old friends and schoolmates, and even opponents, in Neji's case, came to greet him. Naruto greeted each in turn and accepted their gifts as they came. The group soon thinned, and eventually disappeared, with some staying behind to wish him goodbye. Among them were Inuzuka Kiba and Hyuuga Hinata, along with her cousin. Naruto could only remember a few moments with Hinata, most of which weren't very memorable, and just the arena, with Kiba, but he appreciated their coming nonetheless.
Naruto stepped through the gates still waving. Jiraiya was motioning with an invisible pen, indicating that he should write back, a feeling to which Naruto heartily subscribed to. In the distance, rounding the corner, Naruto saw a head of pink hair. He looked on for a while as the figure approached, running as fast as he or she could, but smiled, and turned away.
The gates of Konoha closed shut with a great slam, as Naruto walked down the road towards the merchant caravan, where Tayuya awaited, along with what was perhaps a new start. He noted that an additional bag had been placed on the cart. He walked up to the cart and jumped on, calling for the merchant to go. As they started moving, he looked at his companion and passed her the second bag from his apartment. She opened it and pulled out a white long-sleeved shirt, looking at Naruto as she did.
"I told you, I can't have you walking around in tattered attire." Said Naruto, with a smile. "Wear it when we get to the port."
Tayuya looked at the shirt, and placed it back into the bag, looking slightly embarrassed when she surveyed herself. They were indeed tattered…
"We're to meet someone at the port. The current returning ambassador and, supposedly, the person who, technically, has the most experience with their customs and mannerisms."
Naruto turned and opened the mysterious bag, grinning and retrieving an apple. He tossed it to Tayuya, who took a big chunk out of it. He then took out a small bottle, filled with white capsules. He chuckled a bit and undid the stopper, pulling a capsule out. He then put it into his mouth, and looked around, to see Tayuya looking at him.
"What's that?" asked she, to a small chuckle. Naruto smiled and held the bottle out.
"Mints. You want some?"
Publishing Period: 30 June 2006 to 8 December 2006
La Fin de la Folie
It's been a good, long run and I've enjoyed every single moment of typing this story out. I've enjoyed your feedback and I've enjoyed your praise. This work has helped me to express myself very well, and I thank you guys for your support and consideration. I'd like to extend my apologies to anyone who found any part of this story, or, indeed, the story as a whole to be disappointing or even bad. I've done my very best to make this the vision of what I wanted it to be, and I'm proud of it, that it has given some of you pleasure in reading it, and if you have felt, in any way for the characters. I hope that this story will remain in your memories for a while, and if it does, then I have done my job. Thank you.
I know most don't make sense. Thanks for bearing with them.
Give me immortality in death. Review like you have never reviewed before!
Seriously. Last chapter, guys, give me your support!
If anyone's re-reading this and recalls my previously insensitive remarks, I do sincerely apologise for their inclusion in previous drafts. I hope you will forgive their bluntness and remember this story for what it was; mindless fun.