AN: No excuses. This chapter is late. Really late. In fact, it was late by the time I started writing it. So please forgive me and enjoy the last chapter. -demonicnargles
Tsunade stared dumbly at Naruto, or Kyuubi, or whatever it or he was. Red eyes glowed softly in the cloud-dimmed light of the sun, and the slight light made the rain between them shine like sparks of fire. There were no works she could think of to describe the utter despair she felt now.
But regardless of her feelings, the ANBU were ever alert. Seeing a risk to the Hokage, over a dozen of the best ninjas Konoha had rushed at the demonic figure.
An explosion of evil chakra blasted them all back away, and after the light died down, Tsunade could see the cloaked child standing exactly where he had been before, but now surrounded by a small crater.
Snapping out of her trance, she saw now what Kakashi saw about Naruto's fighting. The more opponents he had, the more efficient and deadly he was. But if he was attacked one on one, maybe there was hope.
Before the ANBU could regroup to attack again, Tsunade made hand signal to them, communicating her information to them. Suddenly the elite ninja sprang into action, grabbing equipment and bystanders until Kyuubi was left standing alone in front of gates.
He smiled fiercely, baring his teeth. This was going to be even more fun than he thought. Walking forward, he was not surprised when a single ninja jumped from underneath the cover of the fallen gates. The ANBU was impaled on an enormous orange spike of chakra that Naruto shot out, then burst into smoke.
Naruto rolled his bloody-red eyes as he continued forward. Ninja were so predictable. 3, 2, 1...
Naruto turned around and raked his claws across the face mask of the ninja whose clone had been meant to distract him. The ANBU, though, was not elite for nothing, and jumped back, clutching his mask to his bleeding face. Bleeding, because the masks were not protective, meant only to protect the identity of the wearer. The dog mask now had two long gashes across the eyes.
The ANBU dropped the mask as he used his hands to make several seals, and then belched fire out of his now-uncovered mouth. A small swirl of chakra emanated from Naruto and cancelled the attack easily.
But Dog had been expecting that. The attack had, however, provided as a distraction for the ANBU to replace himself with a clone and hide behind his enemy. Forming another clone, he knew he would have to have better timing than before.
The first clone attacked straight on with a kunai, and the second crept up from behind and to the left of the boy. Dog curved right, hoping that two clones would provide a sufficient distraction.
The blonde boy did not move as the first clone attacked, until just before he was stabbed with the kunai, he morphed into a house sized version of the Kyuubi and bit off the clones head.
The second clone attacked quickly and Dog, though unsettled, still continued on his attack.
The mini-Kyuubi turned left and opened its mouth wide, firing a red beam of chakra that annihilated the clone instantly.
Dog silently leapt from directly behind the fox and stabbed at the head of the fox, feeling massive relief when the kunai plunged into the skull of the unaware fox. That relief quickly turned to dread, however, when the fox burst into smoke.
Of course, it made sense, the Hokage had mentioned that the boy's favorite technique had been the shadow clone. But it didn't help now, when every nearby piece of debris suddenly revealed itself to be a henged clone, and the army of clones attacked immediately without any warning.
The ANBU turned and twisted and slashed, dispatching clone after clone, but they kept coming. Soon he received a scratch on the arm, then a gash across the back, then a claw cut through his right hamstring. Dog could feel his reflexes failing. Another hit. And another.
Deciding that he had done his duty for now, he kawarimied away and began to jog as fast as his injured legs could go. The boy wouldn't find him, since it was just a genin with a demon.
The ANBU believed that till his death two second later, when a kunai in his pouch transformed into a clone and disemboweled him.
Tsunade knew that not many ANBU wouldn't probably survive this day, but with any luck they would wear down and eventually kill the demon. Of course, even assuming they succeeded, they were still left at a terrible disadvantage to Cloud. Something had to be done.
Tsunade tried hard to think, and tried even harder to ignore the sense of impending doom and the oppressive aura of the nearby demonic chakra.
Naruto wandered through Konoha, making his way to the Hokage tower. Shadow clones poured off him like water, running to take care of the ANBU left to take care of him. Thanks to Kyuubi's seemingly limitless supply of chakra, he could create as many clones as he needed, and supply them with enough chakra to do their own jutsus. Nothing was more convincing that a clone that made clones. Mostly because there was no one else with enough chakra to waste on tricks like that.
After a while, Kyuubi wondered if the Hokage would really be stupid enough to retreat to the Hokage tower. It was possible, but surely she and the rest of them had gotten over their repeated underestimations of him, right?
But in any case, Naruto needed her. Because he would receive from her what he could get no one else, and he knew that there was nothing she would be more willing to give. It was the only way.
Kyuubi ignored Naruto's quiet thoughts, too intent on the destruction.
Tsunade stared out of the windows of her office. The angry demon-empowered boy would of course take the most direct route to the tower, and so would run into every ANBU along the way. She should have at least another half hour before anything needed to be done about the approaching threat.
Feeling a bit guilty about being so cavalier to her ANBU casualties, she tried to come up with a plan in case the ANBU didn't cut it. She could fight herself, of course, but that was probably not a great idea. Sannin though she was, she mostly used her fists and feet for fighting, and that was probably not a good idea in a match against an opponent whose very presence could be harmful.
She wondered if it were at all possible to try and offer the kid a position back in Konoha. He had been a leaf ninja at one point, and from the files she had read, had been determined to become Hokage. Maybe she could bribe him with a rank and some serious money? Assuming, of course, that Konoha had any money left after this war.
Naruto mused about what he should do to Tsunade when he got there. He needed a creative punishment for killing his friend. Simply ripping off her head or skinning her alive would not be sufficient. The punishment needed to be cruel, not just the kid stuff that normal ninja did. Being burned alive sounded fun, especially since he could use Kyuubi already corrosive chakra for that, but he would have to inflict near-fatal wounds already to get that to work, and there was a chance that the woman would kill herself or run away before then. How could he get her to stay put while he burned her?
Naruto smiled as the dark whispers told him what to do. Laughing with his darker partner, he walked up the side of the tower. Apparently the Hokage was pretty sure that he was stupid if she didn't have any guards posted out here. And it was a wonder that they hadn't sensed his presence yet. Or maybe all the ANBU were gone. Or maybe they weren't here at all, and Naruto was mistaken. That would be disappointing.
Then again, he would just be forced to tear apart Konoha in his search for her, which would be fun. He had heard that civilians were more fun to torture, since they actually screamed and begged instead of biting off their tongues or something like that.
Tsunade became more and more uncomfortable. Maybe it was because she had sense everyone else away, and so she felt nervous about being found? But she felt more like the air she breathed was thick and...
Oppressive. Like the aura of the demon.
Tsunade whirled around as she leaped over her desk, facing the cloaked blonde who stood quietly in the window. This kid, demon or not, had to be absolutely amazing to get by so many ANBU so quickly.
Tsunade became confused when ANBU suddenly burst in the door, those with the hawk, monkey, cat, and dog masks. Why were they still alive? Hadn't they been the ones she assigned to delay the demon?
"Well, Tsunade, I must say that I am disappointed in your security around here. The ANBU got here no sooner than I did, although I walked up the side of the tower in broad daylight."
The ANBU in the hawk mask managed to sound sheepish, even in this situation. "We were fighting, and suddenly there were no more clones. We figured that he had bypassed us and come here, so we hurried here."
Kyuubi looked around the ANBU through the door they had entered from. "And so you ran up the stairs?"
Naruto laughed, and deep, scratchy sound. "Aren't you ninja? Why didn't you just jump through the window?"
"..." Naruto swore he could see a blush through the masks that covered their faces.
Tsunade nodded at the boy and ran out the door. But before the ANBU could move, Dog suddenly exploded in a giant ball of fiery chakra. Naruto vanished in a puff of smoke, leaving the three ANBU in critical condition to die in the Hokage office.
Meanwhile, Tsunade ran through the village, passing the civilians hurrying to evacuate into the tunnels. She was pushing through a dense crowd, wondering why the people were still making their way there half an hour after the orders, when suddenly all the people stopped and looked at her.
Tsunade's face paled, and she looked around wildly, to see that every person in the area was staring at her.
There were no people still making their way into the tunnels. They were already there, of course, since they knew the dangers of a ninja attack. There were no civilians in the city left at all.
The villagers all burst into smoke, revealing smirking clones of the blonde boy.
Voices echoed from all around her. "Where are you going, exactly? I don't think there's anywhere near here where you'd be any safer. Unless you're looking for people? Surely you don't think I would let them go."
Tsunade, who could hear the screaming as the boy's clones slaughtered everyone they came across, found no reason to doubt him.
"So, if you're not going to a place, or a person, perhaps you're looking for thing?"
Tsunade's brow furrowed in concentration. Surely she could do something against this. Then she remembered Kakashi, from before his last mission. He said that the boy was weak in one-on-one combat, didn't he? Well, if that were true, there was no better person to find out than one of the legendary Sannin.
Tsunade cracked her knuckles and took a fighting stance, at which Naruto rolled their eyes. He'd been hoping to break her first, but if that was all he was going to get out of her, he might as well get it started.
Tsunade jumped into the air as the ground erupted with clones, each wearing the same strange grin. The clones followed her into the air.
But Tsunade was not a sannin for nothing. Using a bit of chakra and a lot control, she used her massive strength to pummel every clone that caught up to her in mid-air. Landing on a building, she surreptitiously dropped a small piece of paper before leaping away again.
The clones that landed on the roof just behind her were torn apart by the massive blast of the explosive tag.
Tsunade landed on the ground in the street, and turned to face the sea of Naruto clones, who jogged forward, their faces now impassive. Tsunade mashed one clones face, dodged a few punches, kicked a few into next week, and kept dodging. She spun and wove and dealt swift death to any clone that got too close.
Now she saw what Kakashi had meant, and what Kakashi had obviously not been able to take advantage of. The clones, thought each as talented as the original, and, from what she had heard, even able to use chakra, were better suited to taking care of many targets. As they approached her, they got in each other's way, greatly reducing their effectiveness. And as Tsunade tried to plan what to do next, she realized that all of Naruto's abilities were this way.
Every technique Tsunade had heard of him using, gave some advantage to the victim. The clones got in each other's way, the blast of chakra obscured Naruto's sight, and, Tsunade conjectured, the use of much of the demon's chakra completely masked the presence of any nearby chakra signatures.
So all Tsunade really needed to do was to get the boy a little angry, so he'd use Kyuubi's chakra. Then she could hide and plan her next move. All she really needed was to get one good punch to the boy's head, but with all the clones, that would not be possible.
But she could worry about that later. For now, she contented herself with beating the crap out of Naruto's clones. She put on a confident smirk, and after less than a minute, was rewarded as the clones began to suddenly lash out with claws made of chakra. After another few minutes, every clone was a miniature inferno of evil chakra.
And suddenly, Tsunade vanished, and the clones dispersed, breaking everything they could find in a furious search for the Hokage.
Tsunade masked her chakra, used a minor genjutsu, and ran to another section of town. As she ran, she saw fewer and fewer clones, until she was completely alone of the other side of the village.
Alone, until she saw him. Sitting at the deserted Ichiraku ramen stand, eating a bowl of what was probably lukewarm ramen. Tsunade crept up to the demon container. There could be no doubt that this was the one. It was eating, and clones didn't do that. Heck, Tsunade wasn't sure if they even could.
But before she could get in position for an attack, she heard a deep, raspy voice. "Have a seat, Tsunade."
Feeling strangely safe, she took a seat next to the cloaked blonde kid, who, upon close inspection, was revealed to be at least a foot shorter than her.
"Have some ramen. It's not hot, but it will do."
And Tsunade did just that. After several minutes, they both finished their bowls. Naruto stood up and walked out into the deserted street. Tsunade followed him and stopped a few feet away, facing him.
Naruto looked at her calmly. "There is something I want from you, Tsunade."
Tsunade smirked, hoping to raise the demon's ire. "This is the only thing I'll ever give you, demon." And feeling wildly overconfident, she sprang forward and punched the boy in the face with all her might.
The sickening crack and squelch carried in the dead air and the body fell to the ground in a heap. Tsunade fell into a fighting stance as she saw clones gather on the rooftops. She knew that as soon as the clone she had attacked disappeared in a cloud of ninja smoke, they would attack.
But after several tense moments, nothing happened. Tsunade looked around at the clones. She looked at the bleeding body, whose mangled face and skull oozed over the street.
A single clone stepped forward, and as it approached, Tsunade noticed that it seemed faint, almost transparent. In fact, now that she was looking, they all seemed that way. The clone whispered in a voice so faint that Tsunade wasn't quite sure she heard it.
"That's all I wanted, anyway."
Tsunade sighed as she jogged out of yet another town with money people close behind. But ever since that day, it was for a different reason.
"YOU COME BACK HERE!!! I KNOW YOU CHEATED! NO ONE WINS THAT OFTEN! THERE IS NO POSSIBLE WAY YOU WON A JACKPOT ON EVERY MACHINE!!!"
Tsunade knew why. She had no bad luck left with which to lose.
Deep in the darkness, Kyuubi cursed that idiot child will all his might. All that work to destroy Konoha, and then the stupid kid let the Hokage sucker punch him right in the face with the force of a tank! Not only did the idiot let it happen, he had prevented Kyuubi from doing anything about it!
And to top it all off, Shinigami was not even considering letting him off the hook another time.
The fox roared, partly out of anger, and partly out of pain. Hell was not a nice place.
But despite all his suffering an anger, Kyuubi took some time to wonder why the boy would do such a foolish thing.
Naruto walked slowly across a green field, enjoying the bright sunlight and the clean air. Random flowers dotted the grass, and he could see other people playing down by the crystal clear river.
He was startled out of his reverie by a rather strong poke to the side. "Sorry, blonde-san. What did you say?"
Said woman tried to look angry, but it was even more impossible to be mad at him here than it ever had been down there, and she had never gotten angry at him there, either... So she ended up with a cute, frustrated smile on her face while she ranted.
"I've been trying to tell you about all the places up here, and you keep spacing out. And besides, if we're going to be here forever, you could use my name."
Naruto just smiled, and chuckled a little. "Sure thing, blonde-san."
She tackled him onto the ground.
From across the field, a wrinkled old man smiled, and the white-haired next to him smiled with him. The wrinkled one looked over at the white-haired one standing next to him. "I told you he would come around."
"I'm glad you were right, Sarutobi-sensei. I guess we just never gave him a chance. What do you think, kid?"
He looked down at the regal-looking blonde man seated in the grass. The Yondaime just smiled and wiped a tear out of his eye.