All righty here's my third story attempt. This will be my last story for awhile. I don't want to stretch myself too thin and I still want to be able to have ideas for all three. Hope you guys enjoy.
Naruto sat on the ground beside his body and tried to keep the tears from flowing. He had tried so hard to bring Sasuke back for Sakura and yet nothing ever went right. Now here he was, dead or close to it, face down in the mud from a chidori to the heart. He hadn't been fast enough to dodge this time. He looked across the field to find Sakura helping along a limping Kakashi. His only regret was that he couldn't bring that idiot back for her. No, that wasn't true. He had other regrets. Never seeing his friends faces again, never eating ramen again, never training to exhaustion again, never seeing Baa-chan again. There was so much regret and nothing could be done. He watched as they picked up his body with no words exchanged between them. 'Guess in the end I wasn't even worth a few final words. Wonder when the shinigami will get here.'
A bright light seemed to engulf the field they were in and Naruto looked to see if Sakura and Kakashi had noticed it. They just kept walking, away from him and out of his life. He closed his eyes one last time and let the tears fall freely. His last hurrah had been a big bang at least. If he ever did anything right he took the fox with him. His lips barely turned up at the corner of his mouth and he opened his eyes to find pure white everywhere. No matter which way he turned it was white except for a fox shaped mark of black underneath him. Everywhere he walked the mark stayed with him, right underneath him.
"Interesting isn't it?"
He whipped around to find the source of the voice and saw a girl his age standing behind him. She didn't look older than seventeen and yet, she had a wizened look to her, like she had seen it all and done it all. An aura of calm exuded from her and Naruto felt at peace. If death included pretty girls like this one, he was okay with dying. He cocked his head and stared at the beauty in front of him, studying her. Her hair was black and hung in curls down to her mid back. Her skin was pale and yet seemed luminescent and warm. The smile that graced her face was almost…motherly in a sense and Naruto felt safe when he looked at her. Surely this girl meant him no harm.
"Who are you? Where is this place? Why am I here? Am I dead?"
"One question at a time young one. Now what do you want answered first?"
"Young one? I'm sorry miss but you look as old as me."
The girl laughed at this and it was melodious, the laughter seeming to hang and tinkle in the air. It was…enjoyable.
"You flatter me young man. My age cannot be measured in numbers. I guess you could say my age is infinity."
"Are you an angel?"
"Better. You mortals know me as Kami."
Naruto's eyes widened and the look that crossed his face caused Kami to look at him with distress. The orange clad ninja immediately fell to his knees and hung his head. Perplexed, Kami asked him what he was doing.
"Forgive me Kami-sama, I meant no disrespect. I am sorry, please forgive me. I am not worthy to be in the presence of one such as you with all the blights on my soul. Please pass judgement on me and let me be on my way to wherever you deem fit in hell."
Kami frowned at this. Was this what mortals did to each other in their spare time? Tear each other down until they questioned their own self worth and were willing to damn themselves for sins they never committed?
"Why do you say those things Naruto? Surely you don't believe that…"
"The spots on my soul are from the fox. I know this. It's been explained to me several times that I am bound to the fox and he to me. Our souls are bound together and therefore his sins are my sins. Nothing I could do would make up for his sins and therefore I deserve to be punished. Please Kami-sama, I deserve no less."
Kami strode the distance to the young man on his knees and knelt in front of him. She offered a small smile and placed her hand on his cheek. When he still wouldn't lift his gaze, she cupped his chin and lifted his eyes to hers. He kept his eyes screwed shut, tears streaming down his cheeks. Her heart ached to see a child such as him, a human sacrifice, ready to accept punishment for things he never did. His place in heaven had been assured long ago.
"Naruto open your eyes and look at me. Let me tell you where we are right now. We are at the junction between the living and the dead. You are neither dead nor alive right now and you are not being judged. True, your soul is bound to the fox's but only as two prisoners are fettered together at the ankle. One prisoner does not answer for the deeds of the other, they are merely chained together until their jailor brings the key. I am sorry Naruto, but your key is not yet ready to be used. You must keep your burden a while longer. Now rise and speak with me. I have something to ask of you."
Naruto stood and wiped the tears from his face. He looked at Kami apologetically and asked where they were.
"We are in a plane made of your soul. You have heard of yin and yang correct? The light contains some dark and the dark some light. This is how balance is kept. Where we stand and all around us is your soul Naruto. The fox shaped blemish on your soul is that of Kyuubi and he stays under you because he is bound to you. Look around you Naruto and you will find that your soul is pure with nearly no blemish. You are as pure as they come and that is why you are perfect for the task I must set before you."
"What is it you seek of me Kami-sama? Ask and I shall do anything you require of me."
Kami smiled, seeing that the boy she had watched since he was young was slowly coming back. Deciding to act the part of a young girl for a moment and not the benevolent creator, she joked with him.
"Burn that outfit. Its hideous."
Naruto stood with wide eyes and wider mouth, making Kami giggle. When he spoke it was hesitant and faltering.
"But…but…. but orange is your gift to the world Kami-sama. Why would you want me to destroy something as beautiful as my suit?"
"Oh Naruto you can't take a joke. That isn't my request. Although I do wish you would get rid of that thing and I will send someone later to tell you what I wish you to wear as my emissary on earth. I need you to find a certain soul and send him to me. His crimes are of a heretical and most unholy nature. You will act as my liaison and claim his soul for me."
"You…you want me to act as a shinigami? Don't you already have someone for that job?"
"Of course but he has to follow certain rules, unlike you. I give you full reign to act as you see fit. Consider the power I give you as another test on your life and soul. When you return after your life is over, we shall see if the fox is the only visible blemish on your pure soul. Now then, I'm going to give you a weapon to help you on your path. You'll receive it when you regain consciousness and are ready."
"I'm not ready now?"
"No, you will be weak when you wake up. Rest and gain your strength. When I think you are prepared I will send my messenger to deliver my gift and help you choose clothing appropriate for my emissary. Goodbye for now Naruto. We will see each other soon."
The next thing Naruto knew he was back in his body and it felt…heavy and his breathing was labored. His eyes fluttered open and he saw light filtering in through a window. He was lying in a bed in the hospital and he was hooked up to various machines. He slowly turned his head to look at the bedside table. No cards or anything greeted him. He sighed. It was always the same. He might have friends but they were too busy to visit him. He closed his eyes and lay back again. Might as well rest up and get ready for what lay ahead. His rest was short-lived when he heard familiar footsteps clomping down the hall and knew he was in for a tongue-lashing.
Tsunade opened the door and stood at the end of the bed, checking Naruto's chart. She cocked an eyebrow and sighed.
"Naruto, you're not fooling anyone. I can see by the heart rate monitor that you're awake. We need to talk."
Naruto cracked one eye open and stared at Tsunade. He loved the old woman to death but he really just wanted to rest for once. He'd been through a lot in the past few days and that dream about Kami was kind of unsettling. He didn't know if he believed it or not. He didn't remember coming back to Konoha, perhaps he never left and it was all just a dream.
"All right Baa-chan. What do you want to talk about?"
"Your battle with Sasuke. What happened?"
"Sakura and Kakashi didn't tell you? He stabbed me through the chest with a chidori. End of story. I passed out and they drug me back I guess."
"Hmmm. Well you should be good to go in a couple of days. You can be released then. Rest until then you hear?"
"I'd like nothing better."
"I mean it Naruto, you'd better…did you just agree with me?"
"Don't go insane on me brat. I can't be the only sane one in this hellhole of a village all right? I need you to stay with me."
"I'm not going anywhere Baa-chan. I'm right here with you, forever."
Tsunade softened her glare when he said that. No matter how much she hated the moniker Baa-chan, it still made her feel good that he viewed her as a normal person and not the Hokage.
"Just get rested kiddo. We need you out there again."
"Hai. I think for once I will take it easy."
Three days passed and Tsunade finally released Naruto from the hospital with the condition that he 'take it easy' and not over train or over exert himself. He stood in the training grounds of Team Seven going through the motions of trying to loosen his muscles back to trainable condition. It would take some time but he'd be back to top form in a couple of days. He felt a presence behind him and turned to see a man in white robes, his short brown hair blowing in the breeze, but there was no breeze. On his shoulder was a massive hammer, a war hammer, the likes of which had never been seen. He smiled at Naruto and offered a hand.
"Hello young one. My name is Sanosuke. I am the go between for you and Kami-sama. I hope to be good friends with you. You have a lot of promise you know."
Naruto, meanwhile, was staring blankly at the man; he had hardly heard a word. He could only think that it hadn't been a dream, it was real, it was all real, he had actually met Kami. His gaze swung from the man to the massive war hammer on his shoulder and took in its weird look. It wasn't fancy by any means. The head of the hammer was a simple block of steel with golden bands around both ends. The handle was steel and it seemed that the entire hammer was poured from the same mold. Leather thongs wrapped around the hilt of the handle and formed a comfortable grip. Sanosuke smiled at Naruto and swung the hammer to the ground where it impacted and made a crater.
"How heavy is that thing Sanosuke? It must weigh a ton."
"Hai, it does. But to you it will be as light as a feather. It is made especially for you and is a holy weapon. This is one of Kami's gifts to you. If you prove worthy of her time, she will bestow upon you the remaining gifts. You are to learn how to use this hammer from your soul mate. She will guide you in its use and you will be happy in your life."
"But Sakura-chan doesn't wield weapons. She can't teach me how to use it…"
Sanosuke scowled at the mention of her name and thumped the hammer on the ground again, gaining Naruto's attention.
"Now see here Naruto, the world does not revolve around your pink haired friend. She is not your soul mate. There is another out there who is worthy of your time and devotion. She can train you in the art of weaponry. You know her already, she is here in this village."
"Wait a second. Soul mate? I already told Neji I don't believe in fate so why would I believe that I'm destined to be with a certain someone?"
"You already think that you fool. You keep pining over Sakura and she wouldn't be seen with you in public in that light. Your soul mate waits for you. You'll know who she is by the tightening of your heart and a deep connection. Have her teach you kenjutsu, it will help you to wield the hammer better. They're basically the same property anyway."
"But why a hammer? Why not a sword?"
Sanosuke smiled at his young charge. He wasn't as stupid as he let on, he just refused to acknowledge the obvious. It wasn't stupidity that held Naruto back, it was inattentiveness and immaturity.
"This hammer is young Naruto, it was only recently made and it was made for you. We made it fashioned after your soul. Right now the hammer is blunt and dull, screaming for attention with the two golden bands and since you have no knowledge of how to wield it, it will be a challenge to train. This reflects you in your earlier years. You had promise, just as this hammer has promise. I told you it is a holy weapon and that is true but it is also connected to you at the soul. As your soul evolves so to shall the hammer."
"You mean it'll change on its own?"
"Yes overnight while you sleep it will begin its transformation. It will begin to reflect your soul now. Now come and accept your weapon Naruto, we have something else to do."
Naruto strode forward and hefted the hammer with ease. He was amazed at how light it was and swung it a few times to get a feel for it. Noticing that Sanosuke was getting antsy, he swung the hammer to his shoulder and grinned.
"So what's task number two?"
Sanosuke grinned evilly at the young man before him, causing Naruto to begin to sweat. This part would be his favorite. He thanked Kami-sama for the opportunity to rid the world of yet another eyesore.
"I'm the one who's also taking you clothes shopping. You must dress appropriately if you are to be Kami-sama's liaison in this world. Nothing but the best and I have just the idea for your battle garb. Come."
Naruto took the stares in stride as he and Sanosuke walked to the tailor. It was usually bad enough but since he was carrying a giant war hammer, he was really getting looks now. He sighed and just kept going. Hopefully, Sanosuke wouldn't torture him too bad with dorky clothes. His traveling companion just trudged along, thinking about all the things to make his charge look like a servant of Kami, to look more like an angel.
The man in the clothing store raised an eyebrow at the two men and politely asked Naruto to leave his 'weapon of mass destruction' outside the store. The looks of the villagers when the massive weapon hit the ground was priceless and Naruto hung around at the door for a moment to watch some try to pick it up. When even the biggest man around couldn't budge it, he was satisfied that his holy weapon was safe and that no one else could touch it. He stepped back into the entrance and found Sanosuke talking to the tailor who seemed intrigued by the man's ideas.
"Do you understand what I want? It must be in the design I gave you and of the best material. Price is no object. Until the battle gear is prepared, however, we need some temporary clothing to get rid of this…abomination. What do you have in simple shinobi gear?"
"We have many things sir. Anything in particular you would like?"
"Just size him up for everything in black. Loose, but fitting, and get him some actual boots instead of sandals, steel toed if possible. He'll thank me later. Now then Naruto, kindly let the man measure you so we can get this over with. He informed me that once measurements were taken your battle garb would be finished within the week. He'd call for you then and you can pick it up."
"How am I going to pay for all this? I don't have enough on me to cover it."
"Do not worry young one. Kami will provide. Have faith in Kami."
His measurements were taken without fail and Naruto was starting to get just a bit agitated. He hated sitting still in one spot so often, but he had been strangely serene in the past few days, like he had calmed down slightly. Sanosuke noticed the conflict within the boy and spoke up.
"I see you have noticed that you can think a bit more clearly than before. Your meeting with my master did that. She has a most calming effect on the mind and in your case it seemed to help your cognizant thought process. You should meditate and try to talk to her again. I believe it would be beneficial."
"Perhaps. I might try it later tonight. I like the feeling of being able to think clearly. It's nice."
"Indeed. I must go now Naruto. I shall see you again soon I hope. Remember what I said about your soul mate. Find her and cherish her. Do not let yourself be taken in by false hope of a love that can never be requited. Goodbye for now."
And the man disappeared without a puff of smoke or anything. He just…ceased to exist on this plane. 'Hmm. No smoke. I'll have to get him to teach me that when I see him again.'
The week passed quickly for Naruto and he spent it in seclusion for the most part, training by himself in a remote part of the village, finding out how to at least basically handle the holy weapon before he sought out his soul mate. When he grew bored he meditated, trying to reach Kami and talk with her once more. She must have deemed him not ready to speak to her again since he never contacted her or Sanosuke once. At the end of the week he got a summons to come back to the tailor. His battle garb was ready and he had several of them made. He had worried about how to pay for his new clothing, but as Sanosuke said 'Kami will provide' and the money mysteriously made its way into his bank account. He took the wrapped bundle of cloth and made his way back to his apartment to try on his new look.
Deciding he didn't want to get his clothing dirty just yet, Naruto took a shower and let the water cascade over him, washing away his troubles. He smiled as he thought about his hammer. He simply left it outside his apartment, since no one was strong enough to steal it. He chuckled as he thought about the looks on people's faces when he swung it to his shoulder and walked off like it was a feather. 'I love messing with people.' His shower over he stepped out and opened the bundle. What he saw brought a smile to his face.
While his 'temporary clothes' as Sanosuke called them, were plain, they still looked good on him, better than the orange. His new battle garb made him look like an angel. It consisted of white pants and a white gi made of silk that flowed about his body. A blood red sash tied at the waist that seemed to move of its own accord held the gi together. The small breeze generated by the air conditioning system made the sash flap and flutter like he stood in a hurricane. It was no doubt there to draw the attention of the enemy. What surprised him the most however, were the markings on the back of all the gis. A yin yang circle encompassed most of the back but instead of a dot showing the good or evil, there was the body of a nine-tailed fox, its tails splayed out on display. He fell in love with it instantly. He may hate the fox but this was obviously Kami approved and there was nothing wrong with that. He smiled and laid the clothing out for use the next morning. He'd definitely surprise Tsunade when he showed up in her office.
True to form, Naruto kept turning heads as he walked through the streets carrying his monstrous hammer. It hadn't changed yet like Sanosuke said it would but then again, good things come to those who wait. Nothing the angel had said had been a lie yet, so perhaps he just underestimated how the hammer was evaluating Naruto's soul. Naruto did notice that not all the looks were glares however. More than a few girls were blushing and he could just faintly hear them whispering about the hot blonde guy. He smirked and kept going to the Hokage tower. Today was gonna be a good day.
Tsunade was busy with her paperwork for once when she heard Shizune arguing with someone outside the door. Focusing some chakra to her ear she listened in.
"…don't care, you're not bringing that thing in there. Leave it outside Naruto. I'm not playing around. If you drop it, its going to go through all the floors."
"I'm not gonna drop it Shizune, it'll stay on my shoulder the whole time. And besides Baa-chan's a busy woman. I'll just show her what I got and be on my way. No big deal. Now let me through."
"Put that hunk of metal back outside."
'Well that was a shocker. Naruto is never forceful with Shizune. She usually gets her way by bossing him around like an older sister, but the brat must have something important to tell if he resorted to yelling at her.' Tsunade's thoughts were broken as the door opened and Naruto had to duck to get inside. Shizune followed him, to remind him not to drop the damn thing and put a hole in the floor, one destructive blonde in the Hokage office was enough. Her piece said, Shizune left out in a huff. Naruto sighed, he'd have to do something nice for her later for yelling at her. He turned to address Tsunade but found her instead poking and prodding his hammer.
"What the hell is this thing Naruto? Have you and TenTen been playing around in the old weapons shed again?"
"No and we don't play around in there. We search for old weapons that she can resharpen or remold into better weapons. This is mine. It's a holy weapon given to me by Kami."
"Since when did you become religious kid?"
"I didn't. It's a gift from Kami to help me find a certain soul she wants. It's enchanted so only I can pick it up. Here try to lift it off my shoulder."
Try as she might, Tsunade couldn't budge the damn thing. And she had picked up GamaBunta's kodachi! The thing must be enchanted. But how Naruto ended up with an enchanted weapon was beyond her. Damn kid had all the luck.
"Well the weapon is dull like you, but what about the clothes? I like the new style Naruto, its definitely you."
"Thanks it was a gift from a new friend. He said my jumpsuit was hideous and burnt it once I got my new clothes."
"Well where is he? I want to give him pay for an S-rank mission. That's been on the pay scale for quite a while to rid the world of that damn jumpsuit and someone finally had the balls to do it. You know I've actually outlawed the sale of orange jumpsuits in Konoha because of you?"
"But…but orange is the color of the gods. It's a gift from Kami herself."
"Herself? I thought Kami was a guy?"
Naruto shrugged and gave a sheepish grin.
"She appeared to me and told me that she was neither but I'm more at ease around women so she appeared as a young girl. Real cute too. Too bad she's so much older than me, she'd be worth the effort."
"You'd actually hit on Kami? Naruto, you're insane. But that's what I like about you. Now get out of here and go train with your weapon. I have things to do."
"Before I get out of your hair, I have a favor to ask. I need time off to find my soul mate, who's going to train me in the way of using the hammer by teaching me kenjutsu. Ok?"
Tsunade just raised an eyebrow and nodded dumbly. First the kid defies death, now he's Kami's right hand man or something? 'Fuck this job, I'm too old for this shit.' She thought. Hitting the page button on her intercom, she called Shizune.
"Shizune, bring some sake and two cups. I think you and I are going to need to be shitfaced before the day is over."
A soft voice came back over the intercom and Tsunade was surprised to hear her assistant answer in such a manner.
"After seeing that bigass hammer he's lugging around, I went and bought a few bottles of good stuff. I think you and I are going to be holed up doing paperwork for quite a while."
'Ah' Tsunade thought 'good old Shizune. She always comes through. And damn that brat for always giving me a headache.'
It was then Tsunade realized her mistake and slammed her head on the desk. She'd let the little bastard have an indefinite amount of time off, in the village, with nothing to do but train and look for his 'soul mate'. She groaned audibly. That pile of paperwork was going to be a mountain with that kid running loose.