Tangled In Death
Disclaimer: If you recognize it, I don't own it. Naruto is owned by Kishimoto. Bleach is owned by Tite Kubo.
'Ya know... This kinda sucks.'
It had been a long battle.
'Damn, but what's gonna happen to me now?'
Things didn't go so well.
'I still haven't reached my goal! I'm not ready to die yet!'
Sometimes, you don't get a choice.
'... Well, I guess there ain't much more for me to do... I already failed the mission. I just wish...'
And with that, Uzumaki Naruto died.
It was during the Sasuke Retrieval Mission.
Fight after fight, Naruto left a teammate behind, to deal with a superior foe. Each time he moved on, the foes grew stronger, culminating in the sheer monster that was Kimimaro.
Finally, he made it to Sasuke.
Words wouldn't, couldn't convince the Uchiha to return. So Naruto decided that his fists would have to be good enough.
Down at the wire, after curse seal activations and drawing on the Kyuubi, the two reared back, ready to lay the final blow.
Naruto aimed to subdue. Sasuke aimed to kill.
Only this time, instead of aiming for his chest... Sasuke hit Naruto's stomach.
Right at the top of the seal.
Most would be terrified that this would release the Kyuubi. It's a reasonable fear, given most people's knowledge of the seal's purpose.
But the seal is just the gateway that leads to the portion of Naruto's soul that the Kyuubi was placed in. It did not actually contain the Kyuubi itself.
Instead, damaging the seal as Sasuke did cut off the Kyuubi's ability to reach out into Naruto's body.
Cutting off his regeneration.
Kabuto arrived, and picked up Sasuke's body.
'But, I've found... Death is really only the beginning.'
'I don't quite know what I was expecting death to be like... But it certainly wasn't this...'
Naruto found himself not minding being a ghost... He could fly around, which was a lot of fun. He supposed that this must be what shock was; but whatever the reason, Naruto found he wasn't having that much trouble adjusting his mindset to that of being deceased.
However... It was kind of sad, watching Kakashi find his body. The man just look so downcast, that Naruto started feeling a little loved.
He even planned on following Kakashi back to Konoha, too.
Before, that is, he was interrupted.
"Ahem. You are Uzumaki Naruto, correct?"
Naruto stopped, midfloat.
'Someone... Someone can see me?'
He turned to face where the voice came from, and was pleasantly shocked.
Shocked to see a woman, dressed in a long black robe, floating in the air behind him.
"You can see me? And yeah, I'm Naruto. Who are you?"
The girl drew herself up. She was fairly short, but still a head taller then Naruto. She was, Naruto noted, quite attractive, in a refined sort of way. A pair of oval glasses perched on an angular face, and she carried a large book.
She answered, rather primly, "My name is Fukutaicho Ise Nanao, of the 8th Division of Gotei 13... And I'm here to send you to Soul Society."
'I never knew death was so complicated...'
Naruto had immediately begun firing questions at the girl, after her introduction.
"What's Soul Society? What are the Gotei 13? How can you see me?"
So Nanao began to patiently explain.
She told Naruto what Soul Society was ('It's where the souls of good people go to, when a Shinigami performs konso on them. Konso is the act of sending a soul on its way.'). She explained the basics of what the 13 Divisions did ('Basically, we eliminate hollows and cleanse souls. Hollows are... Really bad souls.'). She even explained how she could see Naruto ('Just like you, I too am merely a spiritual presence.').
Nanao answered all the questions calmly and nicely. Because she knew this was a delicate case... She had been sent on this specific konso for a reason.
After all, it would take at least a master of Kido on the level of a Fukutaicho to ensure that the Kyuubi no Kitsune was sent to Hell.
After some deliberation, Nanao was chosen to be sent on this specific cleansing... She was to ensure that the consciousness of the Kyuubi was to be sent to Hell, while ensuring a lot of its reishi remained with Naruto. This was to ensure that the Kyuubi was not able to just break its way back out of hell, or take over, or something.
The Elemental Countries were just one of the areas that the Shinigami patrolled, though due to the abundance of Chakra users, there were exceptionally few Hollows roaming. Most were in control enough of their internal energies to fight the Hollow Transformation long enough for a Shinigami to arrive...
But those that didn't... Well, they spawned the Hollows that after building up as Gillian, would become known as the Biju. Terrifying Menos on a level that was rarely seen.
Because there was such a huge abundance of energy in most everything, the Elemental Countries were a veritable buffet for a Hollow. Luckily, the Elemental Countries were located quite far from any gates to Hueco Mundo, making it hard for a Hollow to get there unimpeded. Most didn't even know it existed, and those that did tended to be killed on the journey.
So ensuring that the Kyuubi would be unable to break free from Hell, and possibly alert the Hollow population to the presence of such rich eating, was of high priority.
After patiently answering all of Naruto's questions (a patience she had developed from dealing with her new captains... advances), she explained to him what she was going to do.
"Naruto... I need to remove part of the Kyuubi from you. I need you to relax, and not interrupt me. Just stay still, and this should be over quickly."
Naruto was embarrassed... Even as a ghost, he found he could still blush.
Standing around without a shirt in front of a pretty older girl (not that Naruto knew exactly how much older then Nanao was... He just knew she looked a couple years older) would do that to your average 13 year old boy.
Especially when she had her hands on your stomach.
In fact, it felt so weird, that Naruto began to twitch. It felt kind of ticklish, now that he thought about it.
Nanao opened up a gate to Hell.
This caused Naruto to start twitching even more.
Then Nanao moved her hands a little. She was actually moving the Kyuubi out of the seal, but Naruto didn't know that.
All he knew was she was tickling him now.
He couldn't help himself... He began to laugh.
And screwed Nanao up.
There was a bright flash of light.
The gate disappeared.
At first, Nanao thought it was just her imagination, and that nothing was wrong.
She could tell that the Kyuubi's mind was gone... He had been fighting her the whole way through the process, and she knew that she had managed to get him through the gate.
She began exploring the remainders of the broken seal with her reishi. After finding no trace of the Kyuubi, she was satisfied. There was a whole lot more of the Kyuubi's reishi floating around in Naruto then she had planned on leaving him, but that wasn't a problem.
But then she tried to pull away.
And found that a portion of her reishi was stuck; caught up somehow in the seal. She could pull her hands away, and everything felt fine... But a portion of her reishi, however small, seemed to be stuck behind on something in the seal.
So she decided that she would cast a minor destruction kido on that aspect of the seal.
Only to get entangled worse.
After two more failed attempts, she decided to give up on it. She wasn't physically attached to the kid, or anything... But part of her energies seemed to be.
She stopped when she did, because she realized that she had gotten so entangled with Naruto's reishi and the seal, that it seemed she could utilize some of the Kyuubi's reishi, too.
Naruto could feel her presence, now. Before, he couldn't even sense what she was doing to the seal.
But now... It almost felt warm. Comforting, even. Always before, chakra coming from the seal felt tainted... But now, it felt so much better.
"... That's not good."
Before Naruto could ask, Nanao reached into her sleeve, and pulled out her sword. She poked Naruto in the forehead with the butt of her sword.
As Naruto disappeared... Nanao felt herself disappearing, too.
As she feared she would.
"What the hell? Was that konso?"
Naruto appeared, in what looked to be a densely populated town.
People didn't even seem to give him a second glance, just going about their business. As if it was completely normal for a confused stranger to appear in their midst.
Which, on later thought, it probably was.
"We are in the 21st district of Rukongai."
"Oh, you came with me? I thought you said you'd be sending me along by myself?"
"Well, Naruto... Things have changed. Something went wrong with the seal... You're going to have to come with me to Seireitei, where we can have someone else examine it."
"What's the problem? The... The Kyuubi still isn't in there, is he?"
"No... But it seems that, well... It doesn't matter. Let's be on our way now."
Naruto was confused by Nanao's manner. He had never really met a girl who acted as she did. Most of the girls he knew lived in extremes, whether it be Sakura or Hinata. Sakura's mood swings and Hinata's pathological shyness were nothing at all like Nanao's prim and proper manner.
She acted like she expected Naruto to comply with everything she said, simply because it was what he was supposed to do.
And, well... That IS pretty much why he did what she said.
He was also too busy taking in all the new info to do anything else. Having someone come along and make sure he was doing everything right was rather nice.
So he hurried on after her, marveling that a girl who seemed only a few years older then him knew so much, and seemed to be so powerful. Especially with the way all the villagers respectively moved out of her way.
If only he knew how old she REALLY was...
"Ah, Nanao-chan... You're back! And you've brought me a visitor? How kind of you... I was just looking for someone to share some sake with me..."
Naruto looked at the oddly dressed man, reclining on a mat with a sake bottle and a few cups in front of him.
'What kind of man wears that much pink?'
Of course, his question was quickly answered, when Nanao seemingly pulled a fan out of nowhere and thwapped him on the nose.
"Enough, Taicho... This boy is much too young for you to corrupt! He is Uzumaki Naruto... The former Kyuubi vessel. And, uh... We have reached a technical difficulty."
"A technical difficulty? What could have happened that you need my help for?"
"It seems we've been... entangled. The seal had some form of safeguard that I was unaware of. I do not have the clearance necessary to discover which Shinigami created the seal. If I could find who made it, I could get them to help me figure out what went wrong."
Nanao was reaching the end of her patience. Naruto had been rather chatty, asking her far too many questions for her to keep up with. He clearly did not know how to act with the proper decorum.
Of course, neither did Shunsui.
Because there was only one thing he seemed to focus on, in what Nanao said.
"What do you mean, entangled?"
Author's Notes: I got the idea of a Naruto/Nanao pairing into my head a while ago, and since I wanted to branch out from straight Naruto, I figured I might as well write it. Nanao is a severely underused character in fan fiction, which I've always disliked; to me, she's one of the more (if not the most) attractive girls in Bleach.
This story is an exercise in characterization for me… This first chapter is meant to set up the scene, and from here on out, it'll continue through developing Naruto and Nanao's characters.
Next chapter we'll find out who made the seal (And, really… If ya think about it, you'll be able to figure out who would end up going to go fight the Kyuubi), and what the future will look like for Naruto and Nanao. Since they're stuck together, and all that.
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