Kubikiri Houcho speaking
Naruto began to walk away slowly from the corpse of Hoshigake Kisame, dragging his precious Samehada behind him. It was his trophy of the battle, proof that he had defeated the missing nin, one of the strongest in Akatsuki. As he walked he left a furrow behind him, a trail to show his way. He panted as he walked, a sure sign of the stress on his body, his regenerative powers taxed to the limit. It seemed he walked forever, trying to find a glimpse of his comrades, when he came upon a scene he never wanted to see. There, bloody and battered, was Pein standing over the lifeless body of Jiraiya. The old Toad Sage had put up a good fight it seemed, seeing the state Pein was in. Naruto felt the rage coming back and the red chakra swirled around him. He would have his vengeance.
Pein gasped for breath. Out of all his opponents, none had been able to injure him as Jiraiya had. His old master, if he had been in his prime, would have more than likely wiped the floor with him, supreme doujutsu or not. Hearing a sound like a stampeding herd of elephants, he swung his head only for his eyes to widen as a blade that was never meant to slice was flung through his torso, ejecting all his innards behind him. His eyes glossing over, he couldn't help but think that he was so close to his plans being completed. This boy, however, had completely ruined it. It was all over. And it was done with one of his subordinate's swords. The last thing he heard before he departed the earth was a low hiss from the blonde.
"You deserve worse for what you've done in your lifetime. Jiraiya trusted you to do good in this world and instead you tried to bring its end. When my time on this earth is through, I'll see you in hell and I'll bring Kyuubi with me. I think he would find your soul tasty."
Now usually Naruto was not that malicious to anyone but Pein had stolen someone very dear from him. He looked down at the body of Jiraiya and let some tears escape his eyes. Wiping them from his face he performed the Kuchiyose no Jutsu and summoned GamaBunta.
"What is it this time Naruto? What could possibly…oh sweet Kami. Jiraiya. How…how did it happen?"
"I…see. I suppose we should give him a proper send off then. Oil?"
Both he and Bunta performed the necessary handsigns and incinerated the body of the Toad Sage. The only thing left in the aftermath was the plate from his hitai-ate. Naruto jumped to the ground and picked it up, wondering at its resiliency.
"It's made of demonic bone, gaki. I wish Jiraiya could be the one to give it to you and congratulate you, but alas it was not to be so. I hope the pervert is happy in heaven, after all the good he's done, despite his pervertedness, he deserves to be there. I shall inform Tsunade myself, of your new appointment."
"Yes, Naruto. You are the new Toad Sage. I wish it were under better circumstances but not everything goes right. Affix the plate to your headband and wear it with pride. Know that your parents, Sarutobi, and Jiraiya look down upon you with pride. I know I do."
"My parents? You knew them?"
"Aye. I did. They were wonderful people. It is not my place to tell you though. Ask Tsunade when you return. Now go to your group and revel in victory. They are to your north, I can see them. I shall go now to inform Tsunade. Nice sword by the way kid. It's definitely you."
Before another word could be said, GamaBunta disappeared in a huge puff of smoke. Naruto watched until it all dissipated and tore his Konoha plate from his black headband, before affixing his new Sage plate to it. He then hefted Samehada to his shoulder and began the trek to catch up with his teammates. On the way there he became lost in his thoughts, thinking about the past. At the tender age of fifteen, he was already a world class shinobi, and now he was a Sage. He thought back to how hopeless he used to be and how he was now. But most of all he thought of Sakura and how close the two had become. He kept a tiny glimmer of hope in his heart that she had come to accept him and every time they had a moment it only fanned the flame. Hinata had finally come clean to him on their journey to the battlefield, but he had told her that his heart was with another and that he couldn't possibly hurt her by not being there 100. He told her that there was another like him that loved her and she was like him, too blind to see it. When she asked who, he responded Kiba. Her answer was she knew and harbored feelings for the boy, but had held out hope against hope that Naruto would return her feelings. Neither resented the other and realized that they should have resolved it all sooner than they had. They were even closer now thanks to her admission. Naruto turned from his thoughts when he saw figures in the distance. He had arrived.
Sakura was walking from body to body, checking for the wounded and dead. Everyone in her group was all right but some were injured badly. They would have to get to Konoha as quickly as possible. She was startled out of her thoughts by Ino, who shouted that they had found Sasuke. Her heart skipped a beat and she ran toward her blonde friend. All her old feelings came rushing back when she saw him lying there with that stoic look on his face. To her, he was more handsome than ever, but in the back of her mind was that voice, telling her to be careful, that this was not the Sasuke she knew. There was an element of danger in the air that repulsed and excited her all at once. She finally made it to the ring of friends surrounding the boy and knelt beside him. Putting her palm to his cheek she turned his face so that he looked at everyone. He gazed around and laughed at them.
"So you finally all caught up to me. Pitiful. I don't want nor need your help. My group and I can get along just fine. Besides, I already killed Itachi, so you're too late to help me like you wanted to Sakura."
"Your group is dead Sasuke. All dead. And we're here to take you back to Konoha. Our duty to the village comes before personal feelings. As the protégé of the Hokage, I cannot allow you to leave. You are coming back with us."
He looked up and smirked at her, but it didn't do what it used to. In the old days it would have made her heart flutter. Now, it just reminded her of a…snake, coiled and ready to strike.
"Well I've accomplished all but one of my dreams so why not? Those losers who followed me were of no consequence anyway. And it's not like Konoha can afford to lose the Sharingan, so my sentence won't be much. There's only so much that Tsunade can do before the council steps in and takes action."
For some reason, his words angered Sakura greatly. This wasn't the man she knew and loved. Looking around at her friends, she saw they all held the same look on their countenance. Ino, one of her fellow fan girls, had a look of utter contempt on her face. she had long ago given up on the Uchiha. Sakura sighed and thought of all the times when they were Team Seven. The joy, the laughter, the warmth…that Sasuke had no part in. That was all Naruto. Her thoughts turned introspective and she began to recount their exploits since he returned from his training mission. They had grown close, really close, and she enjoyed every minute with the blonde even if sometimes he was a royal pain in the ass. The thought of feeding him when he had destroyed his arm came to mind and she nearly giggled at the thought. He had been furious when Kakashi and Sai had shown up and 'ruined the moment' as he put it. Thinking back, she hadn't been happy when they had shown up either. She scowled and turned her attention back to Sasuke to see his eyes go wide and an evil smirk cross his face. Before she could even move, he lunged upward and drew her in for a kiss. Her eyes widened when she realized what he had done and she went to deepen the kiss to see if her feelings still remained. That annoying voice in the back of her head was screaming danger again and she felt…nothing. No spark, no flame, nothing. Her feelings for Sasuke were completely gone. She felt him smirk in the kiss and opened her eyes to see him looking out of the corner of his own. She cut her eyes in that direction and they widened to unbelievable proportions. Walking slowly forward, looking like death warmed over, was the man who had invaded her dreams in the recent past.
He had found the entire group in one piece, which was a good thing. Everyone was standing and looked in good, if not fair, condition. He was happy that they'd all be going home. Seeing a part in the crowd he noticed a head of pink hair knelt beside a head of dark hair and realized that they were his old teammates. His heart soared, they had finally got him. All they had to do now was get Hinata to close some tenketsu so he couldn't move and make their way home. His progress halted, however, when he saw Sasuke jolt upwards and lock lips with his pink haired beauty. His heart further shattered when she deepened the kiss. In the momentary halt, he realized that he never had a chance and it was foolish to think he ever had. Traitor or not, the Uchiha was always a step ahead, no matter what he did. In that moment, Naruto made a conscious decision that he should have made years ago. He let go of his feelings, not enough not to care for her anymore, but to kill his love for her, or so he hoped. He didn't want to hurt anymore. He put his gameface back on, the stupid grin that everyone knew so well, and sauntered forward. He thought he heard Sakura mumble his name when he came into the circle, but passed it off as his imagination. He disregarded their stares at the enormous sword and put on an authoritative voice.
"All right if everyone's ready let's go. Hinata, kindly press some tenketsu on Sasuke so he can't get away. I don't want a repeat of three years ago."
"Aw what's the matter dobe? No hug? No tears shed for a comrade coming home? I thought you were my brother?"
No one saw the sword come off his shoulder. All they saw was that it was now placed under Sasuke's chin and that despite its weight, Naruto wasn't straining to hold it with one hand. The look on his face could have frozen an ice cube.
"Don't presume you know me Uchiha. I made a promise to Sakura to bring you back and you're coming back. I don't owe you anything. You're not my brother. Brothers don't try to kill one another. I won't put up with any of your bullshit Sasuke. The idiot you knew died three years ago. And stop sweating like a little girl. Your blood is not good enough to sully this sword with. Everyone pack up we're moving out when you're all done."
Sakura went to speak to him but he had turned and sat on the ground, his new sword in front of him, while he meditated. She frowned and decided she'd talk to him later that night. She heard a grunt come from the boy on the ground and figured that Hinata had closed his tenketsu, including the ones around the eyes so that he couldn't use the Sharingan. Everyone went off to pack up, leaving the blonde jinchuuriki alone. He sat meditating upon his new predicament and wondered what responsibilities he would have now, when he heard a voice that was not a comrade's and not Kyuubi's.
Pick me back up boy. I need to speak to you.
"Who was that?"
I lie in front of you, now pick me up. We have matters to discuss.
Naruto looked down at the odd sword in front of him and picked it up by the handle. As soon as he did, he was jerked into his mindscape. He stood in front of the fox's cage and looked up into its eyes and found…confusion? Well that was a new development. Hearing a cough behind him he turned to find a man behind him that looked exactly like…Kisame? Oh shit, that isn't good.
Fear not boy. I will not harm you. I only took the appearance of my last handler so that I would have a form to talk to you in. I want you to be my new handler, and eventually, my master. I want someone to handle me to my full potential. Tell me boy what is it you seek?
"Acknowledgment. And love. I want people to see me for me. I seek battles to prove my strength. I seek power to protect those I love. I seek a way to rid the world of evil."
Very good. I think I may have chosen well. We shall see in time. I notice that your tenant will not speak to me and that is just as well, since I have nothing to say to him except do not try to escape. I will absorb whatever power you try to corrupt the boy with. Uzumaki Naruto, I need you to find my brother. It did not choose its next successor as I chose you and therefore it is lost in a void at the moment, its true power lost. It is on the battlefield with us. You must find it and then return here to talk to me.
"Who is your brother? How will I know where to find it?"
I will send out pulses to locate him. And you know him very well for you have faced him and lived. Kubikiri Houcho, the blade of Momochi Zabuza, is calling to you as well. I can hear its cries for a master worthy of it. Its last possessor was anything but. That sword was rightfully yours after Zabuza died. It called out to you but you did not hear it. Now is the time to correct that mistake. Now go child.
Naruto was ejected from his mindscape to feel Samehada pulsing with power, the pulse leading him away from the battlefield. The others watched with bated interest as he walked in a seemingly random stumble, holding Samehada out in front of him until he came across the body of Suigetsu with Kubikiri Houcho beside him. In the back of his mind, Naruto could hear a dull roar becoming a distinct howl.
Pick me up boy, you've denied me too long. My place is with you alongside my brethren. Take me in your hand and fulfill your role as master.
As soon as Naruto took the cleaver and stood up, waves of energy shot from him and the swords, washing over the battlefield and scaring all his friends. When they looked back to him all they saw was a rigid Naruto standing with the two swords thrust into the ground in front of him, his hands on the hilts. Back in his mindscape, a reunion of sorts was happening.
So brother we meet again. Under better circumstances than I could ever hope for.
Yes brother. Indeed we do. And is our prospective master not one of promise? I have never seen so much latent potential that has been going to waste. We must rectify this as soon as possible.
Of course brother.
Naruto had finally had enough of the sappy reunion and decided to make himself known. With a shout the two entities turned to find a flustered Naruto and a still wide eyed fox.
"Why does Kubikiri look like Zabuza? I thought his last wielder was Suigetsu?"
My wielder was indeed Suigetsu but my former handler that I approved of was Zabuza. He was not a master of me, just as Kisame was not a master of Samehada, but they were both approved by us. I was taken against my will by Suigetsu. You were to be my rightful owner but you ignored my cries and left the Wave. Why did you not answer my calls?
"I…I didn't hear you. I didn't hear anything of the sort."
That is because fear plugged your ears boy. You were unsure of your path at the time and knew not where you would end up. It is good brother, that he did not pick you up back then as he was not ready for the responsibility of a sword of your or my caliber.
"I wasn't ready then but I am now? How do you know?"
Because you have overcome all your fears boy. You do not fear death anymore. You are not afraid to be hurt by those you love anymore. Just because they can hurt you doesn't mean you fear it anymore. You are perfect for us. Believe it or not, we were always meant to be used as a tandem. Return to the outside now and return home. Once you are ready, we will speak to you again and help you to wield us.
"But how will I carry you? I don't have any holsters for swords…"
Simply place Samehada on your back at an angle and he will adhere to you using your chakra as a focal point. Place me at the opposite angle and Samehada will take your chakra and adhere me to itself. Do not worry, we will not impede your travel. In fact I don't think you'll even know we're there. You are already able to wield both of us with one hand, a sure sign that you are destined to be our master. Now go, your friends are trying to revive you.
With that Naruto spiraled out of his mindscape and was met with Kiba waving his hand in front of his face. Shaking his head he got rid of the mental cobwebs and slapped his friend's hand away with a smile, saying he was all right. Kiba shrugged and walked away to join the group. All eyes were on Naruto as he tore Samehada from the ground and swung it to his back and let go of the handle. To his surprise it did just as Kubikiri said and clung to him. Slinging the cleaver over his other shoulder it stuck to Samehada like glue. Jaws dropped looking at how he flung the two heavy swords around like paperclips. He turned to the group and saw that Sasuke was strapped to the back of Akamaru while Sakura had taken up a post beside him. Deciding he didn't want to wait to get back to Konoha, he performed Kuchiyose no Jutsu and an extremely large toad, almost the size of GamaBunta, appeared before the group. Naruto explained what he wanted, the toad nodded and allowed everyone to climb aboard. Using chakra to keep themselves grounded, they took the toad express to the gates of Konoha. Naruto never noticed the glances Sakura kept throwing him, he was too lost in his thoughts.
Tsunade had finally gotten rid of her tears after hearing of the death of her closest teammate and friend. Jiraiya had gone out like a warrior at least and hadn't been pummeled to death by a bunch of angry women. That thought almost made her laugh but that wasn't a luxury she could afford right now, especially when a boom sounded outside the gates and she looked out the window to find a giant toad with several distinct shapes on its back. 'Well at least Naruto's back. Sigh…a new Toad Sennin. The youngest one ever no less. Poor boy is probably torn up just as much as me. Better go down and see them.' With that she was out the window and running toward the gates.
Naruto never said a word to any of them, but leapt off and approached Tsunade immediately. She raised an eyebrow at the swords on his back and was about to say something, but was cut off by a…stoic Naruto.
"You. Me. Your office. Now."
'Well that was a good talk.' Thought Tsunade as they trudged back to the tower. She had no idea what she was in store for. As they walked she took in the look of the boy, no, young man beside her. He had apparently lost his jacket in battle and was clad only in his orange pants and a mesh shirt, his well-defined body on view for all, catching the blush of more than one girl. Her eyes widened when she saw his hitai-ate with the kanji for 'Oil'. One last gift from Jiraiya. It held up his wild hair and made him look more…mature? Or perhaps that was the scowl on his usually perpetually happy face. Once at her office he had performed a few seals and made the room soundproof before locking the door. She wasn't aware that he even knew anything like that and then a scowl crossed her face. There was a lot about him that she apparently didn't know. The boy was just too good at hiding his true strength. Hearing two thuds she looked across the room to see him lean the two huge zanbatous up against the wall and plop down in a chair, sighing wearily. Her frown deepened when she caught his gaze. A fifteen year old boy shouldn't have the look of a wizened ninety year old man.
"So I guess you know about Jiraiya. Bunta obviously has been here. I see you've been crying. Heh, you know, he'd love to know that you shed tears for him, that you loved him enough to do that."
They shared a mirthless laugh at that and quieted down at the same time. Sorrowfully, she started to ask him about his mission but he had already begun.
"We won. They're gone. The Akatsuki is destroyed. We also brought Sasuke back. I'm sure you saw him on top of Akamaru. He's all yours. I want nothing to do with him. Sakura can give you a more complete report than me since she was with the group the whole time. I was quite a ways off fighting Kisame and Pein away from the others. If you don't mind I'd like to rest for a while before assuming my Sennin duties and reintroducing myself to the spy network. They need to know that they'll be working under me now."
"Naruto…did something else happen while you were out there? Something that would make you want to leave so soon?"
He turned sad eyes and a sad smile to her and she immediately knew it was something to do with Sasuke.
"I just realized that no matter what, I will never have a place in the heart of the one I love Baa-chan. At least as a Sennin I can get away from here finally and maybe find some peace. Who knows, away from here maybe I can find people who will accept me."
"Naruto you don't know that. Please at least stay for a week. For me? I need a shoulder to lean on Naruto. I can't be strong for everyone. Be my shoulder please?"
He gave her another small smile and walked around her desk, tugging her to her feet. Her eyes widened one more time as he enveloped her in a hug and whispered in her ear.
"Go ahead Tsunade. Let it all out. I'll be your pillar of strength for once."
Through her sobbing, she thought to herself 'Oh Naruto, you've always been a pillar of strength for everyone.'
That's when he decided to drop the bomb.
"Tsunade who were my parents? Bunta said you knew."
Tsunade sighed and hugged him harder. She had wanted Jiraiya there to help her tell him this. But things don't always go like you plan. Releasing him, she sat back down and motioned for him to have a seat as well.
"Ok. This may be a shocker. You want some sake?"
Sakura, during all this, had escorted Sasuke to Ibiki and had then asked to talk to Ino. To her credit Ino didn't think that anything good would come of this conversation. She wanted her friend happy and after seeing her achieve her dream of kissing Sasuke you would think she would be on cloud 9. Not the case at all it seemed. Upon reaching Sakura's house, they went up to her room and sat across from each other on her bed, crosslegged. Let the girl talk begin.
"Ok Forehead. What gives? You finally got Sasuke's heart it seems and you're not happy. What is going on in that head of yours?"
"I…I don't know what to think Ino. You would think that I would be happy, but I didn't feel anything when he kissed me. I even kissed him back and…nothing. I kept thinking of someone else."
"Ooooo. Who? Who?"
Well that caused a synapse snap in Ino's brain. Naruto? Sure he looked better now than when he was a kid. He was definitely smarter. He was more powerful than all of them put together more than likely. And he had a body that most guys would kill for. If it wasn't for the fact that he was oblivious all the time, he might be a better prospect than Sasuke…except for the fact that Sasuke was a traitor and Naruto was one of the most loyal people ever.
"Naruto? As in your teammate Naruto? The Naruto who has tried to get your affections for years and you've blown him off Naruto?"
"Yeah that Naruto. But he saw us kissing and I don't know what to do."
"Do you like him?"
"Well, yeah, I think I do."
"Look Sakura either you do or you don't. There is no think. You've blown the guy off enough times in the past that he probably gave up on you a long time ago. And if he didn't then, he probably has after that kiss. He saw it all and he didn't speak to hardly anyone on the trip back. You should talk to him and soon."
"You're absolutely right. Thank you Ino. I'll talk to him as soon as I find him."
'Good luck Sakura. You're going to need it. Now let's see, if I was Shikamaru, where would I be?'
After finding out that his parents were Uzumaki Kushina and Namikaze Minato, Naruto had been more than dumbfounded. When Tsunade had taken him across town and showed him his family's home, he had been tongue-tied. When he realized that he would have to leave to take on his new duties after landing such a sweet crib and wouldn't be able to explore but a week he was downtrodden but promised to come back as often as he could. He spent the entire rest of the week exploring his new home. It was huge, with several bedrooms and bathrooms, a hot spring in the back, and acres upon acres of woods and training ground. His favorite room was the master bedroom and held many things that in the short time he spent there he had come to treasure. One above all was a photo of his pregnant mother and his father with a hand each on her stomach. He shed a tear when he saw it the first time, and cried for hours. He had been wanted, he had been loved, and if not for the damnable creature in his stomach, he might have been happy a long time ago, with a father who would have taught him properly and a mother who would have doted on him. 'Oh well, you can't have everything.'
Sakura had searched for Naruto for over a week and hadn't found him yet. In fact, no one had seen him. It was like he had become a ghost. She had asked Tsunade where he was but her master had just told her she wasn't at liberty to say. It was becoming frustrating and the more she thought about Naruto the more the butterflies in her stomach became unsettling. She had talked to Ino several times and over the course of a week had discovered that she had feelings for Naruto that she should have acted on a long time ago. As she stomped through the streets, she asked anyone and everyone if they had seen the elusive blonde. After hours of no information she gave up and decided to visit her master one last time in a last ditch effort to find him. She walked into the office to find her master sitting in her chair facing the window with a sad look on her face. Her sake, amazingly, was nowhere to be found.
"Shishou, I want to know where Naruto is. I need to talk to him and I know you know where he is. Please, tell me."
"I do indeed know where he is Sakura. He's gone. He left the village to assume his new duties."
"Duties? What duties? Naruto is still a genin. He can't just leave Konoha on his own."
"For your information, Naruto hasn't been a genin for over a week. He is the new Toad Sennin and as such can come and go as he pleases. He's gone now to re-establish our spy network."
"But, but that could take months, years even. I didn't even get to tell him…"
"Tell him what dear? That you love him? Sigh…Sakura you've had ample time over the years. I've watched your feelings for him mature and I can't believe that you were so dense as to think he'd wait around forever. However, I can give you some advice."
"What is it shishou?"
"If you love him, wait for him. He's one of the few worth waiting for Sakura. And if you can't wait, do the noble thing and move on. Don't play with his emotions. Now then, that said, what about Sasuke?"
"What about him? Yes, at first I wanted him back but after a while I found I really didn't miss him. He never did anything for me besides be an ass toward me. Heh, if I knew then what I know now. I'd have been with that dumb blonde from the get go. You know, the years Naruto was gone I hardly thought about Sasuke? And I was so excited when he came back, because I knew that he would still be Naruto, he'd never abandon me. Then we grew closer and everytime we got closer to bringing Sasuke back, I got closer to Naruto. Will you promise me one thing? Will you tell me when he comes back?"
"I'll tell you as soon as he walks into town."
Elsewhere, just on the border of Fire country sat a blonde man under a tree, his two zanbatous stabbed in the ground in front of him, his hands resting on each one. In his mindscape, were the forms of Samehada and Kubikiri Houcho. Naruto took a deep breath and waited for his swords to begin.
First and foremost, you must learn to give us form in the corporeal world. There are no better teachers than us to show you the way of the sword since we absorbed everything our previous handlers learned. We will start with one zanbatou and work from there till you can wield both of us at once.
You will be a swordsman of the utmost regard. We will help you achieve your dream of becoming Hokage. Being able to be outside the country without repercussion will help immensely since our power is very destructive. And there is the fact that as long as you hold me in your possession, the fox cannot sway your decisions or try to take you over because I will absorb his chakra. Now then, force your chakra into me and I will show you how to wield Kubikiri Houcho.
Back in the real world, Naruto released Kubikiri and channeled his chakra into Samehada. It absorbed the chakra and the sword slowly dissolved to reveal the likeness of Hoshigake Kisame. The sharkman stood to his full height and grabbed the hilt of Kubikiri Houcho. Ripping it from the ground, Samehada placed the blade on his shoulder and gave a toothy grin to his new handler.
Now then, I want you to pay attention to what I do. You will perform these katas until I say it is satisfactory and then you will perform them some more. Kubikiri is an incomplete sword, Naruto, and it is our hope that you will unlock its true potential and form. You have much to learn and much to do. You may not return home until we consider you our master understood?
"Understood Samehada. Teach me the way of the sword."
A sadistic smirk crossed the sharkman's face.
Then let the torture begin.