A/N There will be no slash/shonen ai/yaoi in this story. Most likely no pairings, either. And if I do a pairing, it definitely won't be Anyone/Harem. Now, onward! This will be AU from Manga chapter 351.

Chapter 1 : Recursion

The village of Konoha, amongst the five great shinobi powers, had a reputation for being the most likely to avoid conflict, and the most likely to seek peace in the outbreak of it. This was often attributed to the almost idyllic surroundings of the village. Where others had to contend with deserts, river valleys, swamps and mountainous ranges, the Leaf Village was snug within a forest, surrounded for miles at a stretch with greenery and forests. Within this verdant haven, many purposes were served. Lovers liaised here, children often played here, and some ninja used the remote location to practice possibly dangerous techniques. It was this last which served Uzumaki Naruto very well for his purpose.

"Damn Ero-sennin anyway, what does he think he's trying to pull? First he tells me he's going to try and help me check and possibly correct the faults in that jutsu, then he goes off and gets drunk, and now he's gone off Kami-sama knows where. Shizune-nee-chan says he's in a meeting with Tsunade-Obaa-chan, but he promised to be here today, not yammering away about old times with his former teammate!" the young man grumbled and groused as he leapt through the branches to his own little hidey-hole within. Well, not so much a hidey-hole, but he had always found privacy to let go in that little clearing. When all the taunts and jeers, and those cold eyes got too much, he would always retreat there. He suspected Sandaime-ojiichan knew about his little excursions into the forest, but he had never forbidden it. One of those little things…

He arrived at the clearing, and immediately began a small warm-up (for him), and then, atypically, sank into a cross-legged sitting position, and began to calm himself. Delving deep within the depths of his mind, he grabbed on to the tether that had been there for the past fifteen months, ever since he had started trying to reinvent this jutsu.

His body immediately acquired an otherworldly blue-green glow, as a tracery of what first appeared to be mere lines erupted on his skin. As they gained focus, a veritable cascade of complex seals revealed themselves. Any shinobi with a halfway decent chakra sensing ability would immediately have been able to sense a… wrongness in the air around the blond tyro.

Naruto opened his eyes.

'Now what's next? Ero-sennin said we'd have to see if this chain seal on my left arm couldn't take another stabilizing outline without collapsing, eh? I should be able to do this. I can't keep relying on that pervert to do my seals for me. After all, I still have to become Hokage!' So saying, Naruto plucked a scroll from his side pouch, and pumped some chakra into it to unseal it, revealing… a brush. And ink. And even more ink, of a different shade of crimson. A clone instantly appeared beside Naruto, and took the implements in hand.

'You know what we're going for, right?'

'Of course I do! I'm you after all.'

'Just reminding you. If you get the sequence wrong, you could incinerate me on the spot. Or twist my organs around. Or offer me as a sacrifice to the fabled Yamata no Orochi. Or turn all my kunai into flesh-eating butterflies. Or…'

'I get it, I get it, I'm you, remember? Besides, this is the one thing in our life we have natural talent at. So would you please get off my back and let me seal?'

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'Tsunade, you know he's likely to go haring off after the Uchiha at the slightest opportunity', Jiraiya commented as he sipped from his tumbler of sake in the Hokage's office. The setting sun cast it's rays into the office at an angle which provided a coruscating display of oranges and reds. But neither of the powerful shinobi in the room noticed it.

'Well of course I know that. He's likely to be assembling a team even now. You know as well as I do, the gift Naruto has for inspiring loyalty to him. Even now, I can bet that, of any of that group of young shinobi that came through with him in the last Chuunin Exam before I returned to the village, any he asked to accompany him would not hesitate. He's like that." The Hokage sighed, and poured herself another tumbler of the intoxicant. A large pile of paperwork lay to the side. She rose from her seat, the graceful movement giving the lie to her fifty-plus years in the world, and strode towards the large window behind her chair.

'You know, perhaps sending him may be the best idea. No hold it Jiraiya', for the white-haired man had raised an eyebrow, 'hear me out. Uchiha Sasuke, as far as we know, is not a threat to the village at the moment. In fact, if he succeeds in his little vendetta, he'll have eliminated Konoha's two most troublesome former employees for us. Yet if he decided to continue on his own path afterward? Or joined another village, or even formed his own? The last bearer of the Sharingan would definitely not lack for suitors. We cannot let that power into anyone else's hands.'

'I'm not willing to send out a hunter-nin team specifically for him because I still believe Naruto can perform another miracle. Besides, getting the Sharingan back would give me enough breathing room with the Council to neutralize Danzou. He's beginning to become more and more of a problem. Not to mention, would they be powerful enough to do their duty?' Tsunade questioned as she reached under the table and grabbed a fresh bottle of sake. Drinking deeply, she turned back to the window, which was now overlooking a twilit village, and continued.

'You tell me the Akatsuki are nearing completion of their targets, and now civil war is a very strongpossibility. I'm beset on all sides, and at this point I'm willing to try anything to get one or other off my back.'

'Yet you're risking even worse by sending Naruto out with the recovery team. What if Itachi managed to capture him instead, eh? Then you'd have lost us one of Konoha's most powerful shinobi, and simultaneously providing both Danzou and Akatsuki with the final pieces in their jigsaw puzzles. And what would it do to you, Tsunade?', he continued, rising and walking over to the window as well. 'I know you do hold a lot of affection for the boy, some of your behaviour to the contrary'.

'And you don't?', Tsunade returned pointedly. Suddenly she seemed to slump. 'We all do what we must, Jiraiya. There's no other way forward. If Naruto got captured… I'd go out my self and beat up all those Akatsuki bastards. You'd join me, wouldn't you? One last ride for us old fogies, eh?'.

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Naruto was still labouring on, deep into the night, heedless of the various insects and miscellaneous … things, hovering around him. He was still assiduously tracing patterns on the forest floor, trying to find a new symmetry that would allow him to add to the so far incomplete sealing pattern on his body without killing him, or worse, releasing the furball.

And he was on to something. Perhaps. A sliver of a chance. And Uzumaki Naruto was nothing if not a risk-taker.

'Kage Bunshin no Jutsu.'

In the back of his mind, Naruto knew, intellectually, that he should have waited for Jiraiya, shouldn't have taken the uneniable risk of journeying into uncharted territory without an expert seal defuser at hand; yet he just knew somehow that Jiraiya might not have let him get this far. And this was a breakthrough he might not have ever even contemplated when sane, yet through sleep-lidded eyes it all seemed to come together.

Direct time-space manipulation without an anchor was a pipe-dream. That was the accepted wisdom under which they were working. Distance in the fuzz… for the lack of a better word, never actually correlated with real-life distance. As such the beacon of a shiki rite on a kunai or other object was necessary to suitably judge movement within the fuzz.

Until now, perhaps.

The only warning Naruto received before it went wrong was a sudden burst of ominous laughter from within his mind.

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The Kyuubi no Kitsune. Legendary schemer. Powerful demon. And prisoner. That last had chafed with him for too long now. That thrice damned blond insect had sealed him well. The seal was still to strong for him too break by main strength alone. Even after the other blond insect that was his prison started using his chakra, the seal still hadn't weakened sufficiently. And the demon was beginning to contemplate a suicidal attempt to break the seal by arcane means, when he noticed a sudden change in his environs. Curious, he padded over to the bars of his 'cage', a metaphor for his sealed state, and there he found something that both exhilarated and terrified him at the same time.

The seal was glowing, with a new set of characters emerging as the old was slowly being wiped away. As the old disappeared, something else changed within his cage. And yet the new seal would take away his lingering hopes of escape. He would have exactly one chance to destroy this seal, if he judged correctly. Otherwise, he'd as well kill himself.

The Kyuubi no Kitsune knew a last chance when he saw one.

EndChapter

Short, innit? I want all the constructive criticism you can throw at me. And no, I'm not planning an actual merger with the Kyuubi, now or ever. Hopefully the next chapter will be out in exactly one week's time.