Naruto: Altered History
-Goodbyes and Dawnings-
The crowd was vast; it was, perhaps, the single largest gathering of people in Kusa's history. With the internal strife of the Daimyo's assassination by their own ninja and the external war with Hidden Rain who had backed the traitors, the throngs were ready to hear his words. Standing before them, staring out over the sea of people, Hittori raised his hand for silence, which, amazingly came in an instant.
"My people, my friends, my family. I accept with humility and honor the great burden of promise that you have conferred upon me. I accept with deep resolve to do all that I can for this nation, to bind us together into one voice and one people. For a peace that we deserve." The regent, now Daimyo, paused, sweeping his gaze from person to person, reading the crowd carefully. "In performing my tasks as Daimyo, I will need your support. Your unwavering loyalty, your encouragement, and, of course, even your criticism. The dangers we now face are difficult, but we can accomplish them. Together, as one people united behind a common goal."
He was stopped short as the people began to applaud, and he waited till it was beginning to taper off to motion for silence once more. So much of being daimyo was about timing, and Hittori had excellent timing. Seeing the crowd's expectant faces, he turned serious, continuing his speech.
"We have removed from our ranks those who have betrayed us; we have declared our goal boldly. Today marks the beginning not only of a new administration, but of a people achieving the justice that others might deny us. Let word go forth from this time and place, to friend and foe alike, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, to assure the survival and the success of our people."
The cheers exploded, and he allowed them till they reached their natural crescendo. Sensing it was time to continue his speech once more, Hittori raised his hands wide, calling for silence a final time. Seeing the faces staring up at him, all so happy and confident, he lowered his arms and looked down.
"I beg you, however, not to believe this shall be easy. Keep in mind this saying that my father once told me when I was very young: 'Things in life will not always run smoothly. Sometimes we will rise toward the heavens only to have it change, and we will fall.' I promise, we will reach the heavens, and if, by chance, we do fall we, will have done so with total honor and nobility."
At the murmurs and grumbles he sharpened his voice, meeting the crowd's gazes firmly. "I know what I tell you is not what you wish to hear, but it is the truth! If we stand firm and united, then we shall not fall. For our children and their children and their children, we must unite. We must have unity!"
"Unity!" the crowd screamed back in affirmation.
Hittori grinned, looking at his people. How easy they were, how blind, how trusting. "I promise you, my family, that, as the unifying voice for our great people, I shall never allow our nation to fall from the path we have chosen!" Then, he raised both his arms and uttered his chosen cry. "Kusa!"
Inoichi hummed softly to himself as he expertly set about fussing with a specially-ordered flower arrangement. Normally he allowed his wife to deal with the moribana style, but since she was out and Ino had yet to learn it, Inoichi was left to the task. Not that he minded; in all honesty, he found it almost meditative.
"Dad," Ino said from the doorway leading to the front of the shop.
"Yes honey?" Inoichi responded, fussing with the shin branch. It didn't look quite right, and he paused, tilting his head slightly as he studied the appearance.
"I wanted to ask you something," Ino said, coming to stand beside him "about...a friend..."
"Mhmm," Inoichi said absently, moving on to fuss with the soe branch now.
"Well, this friend, they act really strange," Ino explained, reaching out to fiddle with an unfinished arrangement. "One minute they're normal, for them at least, then the next they're utterly insane."
"Define insane," Inoichi said, biting his thumb thoughtfully as he studied his moribana arrangement. "Insanity is not exactly a descriptive term in this village."
"I know that," Ino said defensively, glancing at him. "But, well, they, get really scary and, when you look in their eyes you see... something wrong."
"Yeah, it's like they've-"
"You mean Naruto, don't you," Inoichi said, glancing up with a small smile at her stunned look. "Honey, just because I'm a dad that doesn't mean I'm stupid."
"Fine, fine. So Naruto sometimes has this 'wrong' feeling to him. This look that he's got something extremely dark inside him," Ino said, finishing her flower arrangement. "I know he's not cold blooded, but..."
"He seems like a killer," Inoichi summarized looking at her with a raised eyebrow. "How many times have you killed?"
"Three times," Ino admitted reluctantly.
"Mhmm. Now then, have you enjoyed the three times you took a life?"
"Very few ninja enjoy taking a life, at least in Konoha," Inoichi explained, looking at her intently. "Naruto is the apprentice of Anko, isn't he?"
"Yes," Ino said fiddling with a flower arrangement tool.
"Anko enjoys killing. Death makes up a large part of her life and how she relates with others. But, to function among us, she can't be bloodthirsty all the time, so she pretends to be a normal ninja to an extent. She's created a 'persona' of normalcy to fit in."
"... So, she really is psycho?"
"Pretty much," Inoichi admitted, crossing his arms. "Which makes her the perfect ninja for assassinations."
"But what does that have to do with Naruto?"
"Ino, everyone's personality, to a large degree, is influenced by your sensei and parents. Naruto has no parents, so his entire personality is dictated by his sensei."
"...So, Naruto likes killing?"
"It's not that easy," Inoichi sighed, choosing his words carefully. Even a thick headed moron could tell his daughter liked the boy. "He might be starting to, but I think, like Anko, he's creating a 'persona'. One that will let him enjoy it without guilt, something that will block everything he feels and let him be the killer Anko really is."
"Shino said that Naruto could kill us if he decided he needed to," Ino admitted after a moment looking down. "I, I told him that he was wrong. That Naruto could never kill us."
"Ino, that's very commendable. Naïve, but commendable," Inoichi said, almost wincing at despair and hurt on her face. Turning back to his flowers, he sighed. "See, a 'persona' can sometimes take over; rather easily, too, according to Ibiki, and when that happens, you have a serious problem. Still, it's not something to really worry about."
"Because, Naruto and Anko, they both show restraint. That's a sign of their strength, of how much they care about this village," Inoichi said pausing to glance at her.
"So...You don't mind me hanging out with him?" Ino said uneasily, reaching out to stroke the petal of a flower.
"I trust him." Inoichi smiled slyly. "But I do mind you hanging out with him."
"What? Why?! You just said that-" Ino screeched heatedly.
"I trust him, but honey, he's a teenage boy, and you're my daughter," Inoichi interrupted smoothly. "You're lucky I let you out of your room at all."
"Ah, but I'm being honest. I know how these things-" He was interrupted by the bell to the shop's door ringing and a familiar voice.
"Oi, Ino-chan? Are you here?"
"Ah, Naruto-kun?" Ino called back startled, and then flashing Inoichi a smile, hurried out front. The older man sighed, feeling a war of instincts battling inside him. Fatherly instincts, ninja instincts, and old prejudices.
"Bye dad, I'm going out to lunch with Naruto-kun!" Ino called back and then, before Inoichi could respond, the bell rang, and he was left alone in the shop. Sighing, Inoichi rubbed the bridge of his nose. First chance he got, it looked as if he was going to have to speak with Naruto about how to treat Ino.
Well, at least Ino's taste in boys seemed to be improving; as boyfriends went, Naruto wasn't so bad.
"Still, I'd be just as happy if she never dated anyone."
Panting, Sasuke studied the training field intently. For the most part, it showed signs of his heavy training assaults; he was growing stronger. Lifting a hand, he studied the charred flesh, then snapped it shut into a fist. There was a flare of pain, but he banished it quickly.
Stronger, faster... But he could remember facing Itachi. Could remember that night in exact detail, and he knew that he was still far from strong enough. Gaining just a little strength would not be enough. He needed to grow even more powerful, as quickly as possible.
To do so would require a proper sensei, one who could teach him what he needed to learn. It would require delving into forbidden practices, medical kinjutsu to enhance his abilities, activating the unexplained seal on his neck, and seeking out a Sannin. Ultimately, after he had seen to all of that, it would mean paying the high price to gain the same eyes as Itachi.
He was poised for the medical kinjutsu; Sakura was already learning medical jutsu and she was surprisingly talented in that field, just as she had been with genjutsu. She would, when he was ready to leave the village, have to come with him. She would be too valuable in his quest for vengeance to leave behind. He had stressed his desire for her to learn as much medical knowledge as she could, and she would pour her soul into it.
She was in love with him, after all.
Sensing someone approaching, Sasuke turned his head slightly to discover Sakura hugging herself. She was obviously lost in thought, unaware of where she was going. He frowned ever so slightly, wondering at why she would be doing such a thing. "Sakura?"
The girl paused, looking up in wide-eyed surprise. Sasuke raised an eyebrow, anger stirring as he noted things that he had never seen before. Her green eyes were rimmed with red, her posture spoke of trying to shelter her body, and there was an air of despair around her.
"S-sasuke-kun, I didn't know..." Sakura said, then forced a smile. "H-have I told you that Ino's aunt, Tsunade-sama is interested in my talent? Ino told her about how I sped up her recovery, and she's interested. According to Ino, Tsunade-sama said that anyone that could figure out how to perform that level of healing just from reading scrolls has to be special."
"So, see, I'm really doing it. Like you wanted, I'm going to study as much Eiseijutsu and Genjutsu as possible. I'm going to get strong," Sakura said hurriedly, beginning to rattle on more and more, as if trying to reassure them both. "Just give me enough time Sasuke-kun, and I promise I won't disappoint yo-"
"Do you love me?"
Sakura stopped immediately and stared at him with wide, fearful eyes. "Of course I do, Sasuke-kun."
"Hn," Sasuke said as he studied her face. It was, despite the sadness in her eyes she was trying to hide, beautiful. Something to be protected, regardless of her role in his plans for vengeance.
"Sasuke-kun if, if I've done anything to make you mad or to-"
"Sakura," Sasuke said, turning to look at the tearful girl, "How much do you love me?"
"More than anything," Sakura admitted firmly, moving toward him hesitantly. "Sasuke-kun, what is it? Why are you-"
"Then tell me, what is wrong."
"N-nothing, nothing at all Sasuke-kun!"
"What. Is. Wrong." Sasuke said curtly, eyes narrowing.
Sakura hesitated, taken back by his tone and then haltingly the story came out. About her father, about how she kept what he did hidden from everyone. About how her mother turned a blind eye to his abuse, how she couldn't bring herself to fight back because he was her father and she loved him despite what he did to her.
It just poured out, and, for the first time, Sasuke understood why Sakura was so devoted to him.
Halfway through, she was crying uncontrollably, bordering on hysterical. Sasuke listened with a stony silence, something inside him demanding the immediate and painful death of her father. Before long, she had collapsed to her knees, crying and begging Sasuke to forgive her and not hate her.
Sasuke quietly knelt, reaching out to touch her hands gently. There were a lot of things prompting his actions: his plans for vengeance, the fact that she was so loyal to him, and the simple fact that he did care for her. Sakura looked up at him, tears coursing down her cheeks, and Sasuke carefully helped her back to her feet.
Sakura tried to stop; she wiped at her eyes furiously and turned away, shoulders shaking. "I-I'm sorry. You should be training..."
"Training can wait," Sasuke said evenly. "You and the Yamanaka girl are friends now, correct?"
"Very well," Sasuke said with a curt nod. "Then we shall gather your things and move you in with her."
"B-but she might not... Sasuke-kun, i-it's more complicated than-" Sakura started to protest before he cut her off.
"If you can't stay with them, I still own several buildings. However, I will not allow you to remain in that place with your father." That said, he turned and started out of the training field before he paused to look back at her. "Are you coming?"
Ino could honestly say that she had never met someone so fixated or stubborn about changing their outfit as Naruto. She had casually mentioned taking him shopping for a new jacket, in celebration of his promotion. Naruto had reluctantly agreed, but then had, for the last seven stores, shot down every single option she had come up with.
Talk about infuriating.
He seemed bound and determined that if it did not have orange in it, he would not be wearing it. Of course, Ino guessed that stemmed from his desire for attention. Kami knew his entire personality was fixated on drawing as much attention as humanly possible, which sort of made her wonder how he had managed to complete an assassination mission.
Putting such thoughts aside, Ino studied the various jackets. She had made it a point of finding black jackets, determined to get him to wear that color. It looked good on him; the only draw back in Ino's opinion was other girls thinking the same thing. Still, it was her requirement, and she would be damned if she backed off on that.
Selecting a black and red jacket, she turned to hold it up for his inspection. "What about this?" Naruto stared at her; he actually seemed to consider the color combination. Ino held her breath, aware of the attention he was drawing, being the village hero and, hence, in a hurry to get out of the store.
"Nope I want orange," Naruto said finally with a sigh.
"AGHAAHSH!" Ino shouted, making the other patrons quickly scatter and Naruto blink. Jabbing him in the chest, she waved the jacket around wildly. "YOU ARE THE SINGLE MOST BULL-HEAD BOY I'VE EVER MET! THERE ARE NO ORANGE JACKETS, OR JACKETS WITH ORANGE IN THEM!"
"Then I'm not gonna buy one!" Naruto shot back.
"FINE!" Ino bellowed, slamming the jacket back on the rack before stomping through the store and out into the street. Venting, she started off, glowering, unable to believe that she had wasted her time trying to help that idiot. Honestly, infatuation or not, he just wasn't worth the frustration.
"Ino-chan!" Naruto suddenly shouted from behind her, and Ino turned, fixing him with her glare of death. Naruto paused, flinched, then hurried toward her.
"What do you want?" Ino snapped, crossing her arms.
"Fine. Go. If you don't want to find a new jacket, I'm not gonna keep you here!"
"The village, I mean," Naruto finished, staring at her curiously. "Ino-chan, I'm leaving the village."
"Huh? What? Why?" Ino blinked, staring at him in surprise. A part of her screamed not to let him go. "I mean, you just got done with a really high ranked mission, and you saved the village! Now they're wanting to drag you off on another mission?"
"Not exactly," Naruto said, looking at the Hokage Mountain. "Oi, it's complicated, but it's a training trip with Ero-sennin. I'll be gone for three years..."
"Three..." Ino paused and gaped at him. "Why so long? Why do you gotta go on a damn training trip?"
"Because," Naruto said looking at her, his eyes intent as they had been in Forest of Death. "There are people out there, strong as the Hokage, after me and people like me. If I stay, I'll put everyone in danger. I'll come back when I'm strong enough to protect you."
Ino opened her mouth to retort, then paused as what he said registered. He seemed unaware of it, but his words had been very telling. He had said 'Strong enough to protect you', not 'Strong enough to protect the village' or any other possible variation.
Her, specifically and, through her, those others that were precious to him. Ino couldn't help but blush and look away, feeling far more special than she had ever thought possible.
"Oi, I almost forgot; I got you something!" Naruto suddenly said, startling her. Turning, Ino watched as he dug through the pockets of his Chūnin vest and then, grinning, produced a delicate chain necklace. Holding it out, he looked so proud, his eyes were even closed in that fox-like manner she normally saw when he was eating ramen.
Reaching out, she took the chain and then blinked, staring at the necklace in curiosity. At first glance, it appeared as nothing more than a triangular pendant. Upon closer inspection, however, she discovered tiny kanji etched into the pendant, forcing her to squint while trying to make out what they meant.
Good luck, friendship, and love.
Ino couldn't help but blush even more.
"N-Naruto," Ino gulped looking up at him. "You know what this says, right?"
Naruto blinked, then tilted his head. "Huh, well yeah! Good luck and stuff." Nodding, he crossed his arms. "Anyway, I gotta go. That stupid Ero-sennin is gonna bitch non-stop if I'm late."
Ino watched the boy turn and start down the street, the necklace heavy in her hand.
He skidded to a stop, then turned in confusion. Ino slipping, the necklace on, marched toward him, self-conscious that more than a few people had stopped to watch the two of them. When she reached him, she paused, staring at him as if trying to decide something.
"Hn, Ino-chan? Is something wrong?" Naruto asked in that childish way of his, hands behind his head and eyes closed.
That was when Yamanaka Ino gave him her first kiss.
It was not a breath stealing, world stopping, passionate kiss. It was shy, awkward, but earnest. He was startled for a moment, then kissed back just as shyly and awkwardly, and, when Ino broke the kiss, she stared at him. There was only one thing for her to say after that. "Be careful." When he nodded numbly, she turned and rushed off before he could recover.
Despite all the amused looks she was receiving, Yamanaka Ino was almost laughing.
He even tasted like ramen!
Uzumaki Naruto had a very short list of things he treasured; until that moment, ramen had been at the top of that list. Now, at the top of the list was a seemingly pointless act. Because, not ten minutes ago, right where he was still standing, Naruto had just received his first kiss.
A real kiss...
... from a girl...
...that had said he was more important than Sasuke.
So, yes, in his world, ramen was now only a bunch of noodles, and the color orange could have been yellow with pink polka dots. Standing there, still as a statue, the blond couldn't even fathom how to describe what he felt. Warm, unbelievably happy, surprised, terrified, shocked, and little disappointed.
Then, top it all off, he had newly raging urges rushing into his system.
Then it was all brought to a screeching halt as he remembered the simple fact that he was suppose to be leaving the village. Then, another horrible fact reared its head: he would be leaving for THREE YEARS! Those realizations sent a chill up his spine; all of sudden, leaving was a lot more difficult.
Leaving Anko, well that was like cutting a hand off. He hated it, wished like all hell he didn't have to, but he knew it was the right thing to do. Now, leaving Ino, who had just kissed him, that was like cutting the rest of his arm off.
He soundly and firmly rejected the idea of leaving her and Anko. Then, thankfully, the darker part of Naruto decided to pipe up. It pointed out with dark amusement that he should stay; that way, when both Ino and Anko had their hearts ripped out or throats cut, he could cry and know he caused it.
That he could promise over their graves to get vengeance for them.
The voice was like a bucket of ice water washing over him, snapping him back to the reality of the situation. He had to leave, now more so than ever, because he had more than just Anko to protect now. With a manful sigh, he turned and trudged down the street, forcing himself to keep going.
Forcing his mind away from the feeling of dejection, he instead wondered what exactly he would learn.
Reaching the market place, he paused, seeing the buxom figure of Tsunade standing on the corner, talking to an old man. The female Sannin seemed to notice his attention and turned, letting her conversation come to an abrupt halt. Naruto raised an eyebrow and then started across the street, passing her.
Pausing, he glanced up at her, meeting her gaze steadily.
"So, you're leaving now, huh?"
"Yeah." Naruto paused, blinking. "How'd you know?"
"Jiraiya told me; seemed to think I would care what he was doing," Tsunade said, then, reaching out, put a hand on his head fondly. "You just be careful, okay?"
"Er... Yeah, of course," Naruto managed, feeling a bit awkward.
"Well get goin', ya runt," Tsunade said, shoving him away slightly, sending him stumbling down the street. Shaking his head and recovering, Naruto glanced back at her, then continued on his way in confusion. Deciding that Tsunade wasn't all bad, Naruto turned his attention to the people on the street.
They all waved and smiled, treating him like a favorite son. Naruto, of course, smiled and waved back, more to play up to them than out of any real feeling of fondness. After all, he was going to need their support when he became Hokage.
Pausing, Naruto turned to the voice and found Shino quietly standing on the corner. Raising an eyebrow, Naruto cocked his head to the side slightly. "Oi, Shino, what's up?"
"I merely wished to say hi," Shino said, then paused, hands in his pockets. "I will keep an eye on her for you."
"Huh? Who are you..."
Naruto jerked slightly, surprised. "Wha? Nah, no, you're crazy, I mean..." Then, stopping, he scratched the back of his head, mumbled a thanks, and hurried off, unnerved about how the boy knew. Kami, until a few minutes ago, Naruto hadn't even known she was interested in him. Hell he hadn't even known he was interested in her.
Shivering, he hurried on, anxious to get away from the insect user on the off chance that he was psychic or something.
A few minutes later, Naruto reached the final street and found the lane empty and the gates open. There, leaning against the post, was one outlandishly dressed older man and a Kage Bunshin holding a pack. Naruto hesitated, aware that, once he walked those last few steps and took that pack, he wouldn't be back in Konoha for three years.
Kami, that felt like a lifetime. Taking a breath, steeling himself, Naruto started that final walk. Who would have thought he could feel bad about leaving Konoha? He had grown up rejected and neglected, an orphan with no real attachments until he had forged his first friendship and family through blood and murder.
Coming to a stop, he stared at the older man, who had his eyes closed and arms crossed.
"So, you ready?" Jiraiya asked casually, not moving.
Naruto glanced from him, to the Kage Bunshin, then turned to stare up at the massive Hokage Mountain. His eyes swept the stone visages, taking in the sight. This would be the last image he had. He memorized every detail, then let his gaze linger on the Yondaime's face.
"Yeah," Naruto said, turning to take the pack and find Jiraiya leading the way out of the village. Patting the kunai he now had openly strapped to his thigh, Anko's favorite kunai, he took a breath and followed. "I'm ready."
And with that, Uzumaki Naruto left Konoha...
...but he wasn't forgotten, as several dozen carefully planned pranks went off all over the village, and the Hokage cursed his name once more... because his precious was stolen, and the village was once more 'sold out' of every copy of Icha Icha.
He stared at the eight other shadowy figures, each shimmering as they hid in the gloom of the dark cave. The air, even through the jutsu, thick with distrust and unease. He took a breath and let it out slowly, eyes drifting to the first he knew would speak.
"Fufu... All of us meeting like this..."
"We haven't done this since the news of the Kyūbi's false death," the largest of the group, with a massive sword, said.
"Or Orochimaru's defection," the shadowy figure with a large scorpion like tail said.
"Both will be remedied shortly," he intoned seriously, glancing at the shadowy figure of the giant plant like ninja, signaling for his report without words.
"The Kyūbi vessel has left Konoha, escorted by Jiraiya of the Sannin."
There was a moment of silence as this news was digested, each member shifting slightly. Then the newest member spoke up, one of the so called Zombie Twins.
"So, that Orochimaru wasn't lying."
"Of course not," he said simply, knowing that the C4 user would speak next.
"There's no need to be impatient... Yeah. We have three years... Yeah?"
"Yes. First, I think we should deal with Orochimaru's defection," the scorpion tailed shadow said.
"He'll be easy enough. We'll have to begin gathering the others now," he said, soothing the group and bringing the meeting to the point. "Kusa has offered to hire us in their war, so we have a base for our operations, so we begin now. With the 'Kyūbi,' soon everything will be in our hands completely."
I present unto thee...
...the final chapters of Naruto: Altered History.
I shall now repair to my abode among the Plot Bunnies of Doom tm to rest and recover; then I shall dutifully start 'Naruto: Shinobi War' the sequel to 'Naruto: Altered History'.
All of that being said, enjoy the conclusion and please let me know what you think.
'Naurto: Altered History'
Written and directed by
Series created by / series creator
Battle of the Heroes from StarWars
Bitch by Merdith Brooks
Neodämmerung by Don Davis
Creep In My Soul
Ino vs Sasuke
Headlong by Queen
Naruto vs Gaara
Bloodline by Slayer
Special Thanks to:
Tildessmoo for keeping my grammar from getting too screwy, Doc Destructo for letting me bounce ideas off him and then telling me which needed to be dropped and final WanderingDruid for invaluable scene ideas. KrakensGhost for issuing his challenge/contest and setting me upon this story and finally... Fanfiction(dot)net and most importantly: ALL THE FANS!
Ino's necklace: The Japanese language is strange, as there are several words for 'love' depending on the type meant, which can range from a simple fondness of friendship to the passionate love. The kanji located on Ino's necklalce stands either for the word, 'Koigokoro' which means 'Awakening of Love,' or 'Ai,' which basicially means simply 'love' (as in to love, I love you)'.
Hence, why Naruto thought nothing of giving her the necklace, and why Ino, blushed then decided to kiss him.