Title: Walk Two Lifetimes
Rating: Pg-13 (T) for violence and some graphic descriptions
Setting: Early season 3 of Naruto Shippuuden (just after the new team 7 returns from seeing Sasuke the first time).
Author: Anne Camp
Konoha probably had one of the nicest atmospheres of any hidden village. The area rarely became too hot or too cold and predictable weather and seasons made growing food easy, plus it had the added protection of thick forests and mountains (part of the reason for its location, undoubtedly). Many other hidden villages had to rely on harsh climates and/or unpleasant conditions for protection.
Normally, Naruto would have reveled in the weather, but today he happened to be ignoring it in favor of doing something rather un-Naruto like. Even as he slurped up his usual Raman at Ichiraku's, he continued to study a series of scrolls he'd laid out on the counter next to him. It had turned more than one head (including the two running the stand). So as a pink-haired girl stepped through the material covering the front of the stand, it was no surprise that she commented.
"What are you looking at?" Sakura asked as she hopped up on the seat beside him.
Naruto looked up and smiled. "Hi, Sakura-chan!"
She returned the smile with one of her own, and turned to order. Then she looked back at him with a raised eyebrow. "So?"
"These are some scrolls that Shizune-chan found the other day," he paused, taking a long slurp of Raman before turning back to the scroll. "Baa-chan thought that they might help."
"Help with what?" Sakura asked curiously. She almost regretted speaking up as his happy expression faded.
After a long pause, he took a deep breath. "Help me fulfill my promise to you," he said softly. Sakura froze for a moment before slowly turning to look down at the scrolls. So Tsunade-sensei had given these to him to help with Sasuke. She couldn't help but stare blankly as the steaming bowl of Raman appeared in front of her.
"Oh," Naruto continued, bright demeanor returning easily as he brought her attention back to him. "I think she said she had some for you too," his fox-like grin returned full force. The pink-haired kuronichi had to struggle to suppress a groan. Her teammate didn't understand that if Tsunade-sensei said she had some scrolls for her student, that meant two or three days of studying almost non-stop so she could have them completely memorized before the Godaime could give her any punishments for not having them completely learned by heart in 'a decent amount of time'.
"Oh..." she finally replied and reached for the chopsticks and muttered, "Ikidakemasu." Beside her, and completely unaware of his friend's mood, the blond-haired shinobi went back to reading the scrolls before him, bound and determined to finish them all by the end of the day.
The sooner he got these figured out, the sooner her could go and get Sasuke back.
"Tsunade-baa-chan!" Naruto's piercing voice brought a sleeping Tsunade almost immediately awake (which was no easy feat as it normally took a good five minutes to wake her up from one of her "afternoon" naps). She sat up bolt upright, accidentally knocking a rather large pile of paperwork onto the floor. Unable to do anything about it, she watched it all fall in slow motion, knowing even as she lurched forward that no ninja could truly be fast enough to catch them all. Three seconds later, she clasped a rather large bundle of paper to her ample chest, glaring with a throbbing vein on her forehead at what she had been unable to catch.
Slowly, she turned her annoyed gaze to the blue-eyed shinobi who stood before her, rubbing his head sheepishly.
"Er...sorry about that, baa-chan," he said slowly, noting the look on her face. Her angry expression only deepened.
"Naruto," she said in a dangerously soft voice that had him cringing. "How many times have I told you not to call me that?"
"Lots," the teen flashed a grin, either ignoring her (still) deepening anger, or suddenly becoming completely unaware of it. "Look at this," he burst out after a few moments, using his usual aversion tactic of changing the subject. He plopped the scrolls she'd given him that morning down on the desk in front of her. Her expression of rage melted into one of surprise.
"Naruto," she said slowly, "you finished reading these already?"
Naruto stood up, rubbing the back of his neck nervously. "Well, mostly," he responded.
Tsunade raised an eyebrow. "Mostly?" she asked, realizing that she'd have to set her paperwork down so she'd be able to smack him if he'd come back before he'd actually read them like she'd told him (in no uncertain terms) to..and without an appointment.
"Well," he said slowly, "I just looked through them to see if I thought they might help like you said." He pointed to one of the scrolls. "This one takes way too much chakra control for me to ever pull off." Tsunade looked down at the scroll and nodded. She'd been expecting that about this particular scroll. It talked about a genjitsu that while fairly difficult, was almost impossible to break, even with the Sharingan. "I'm gonna learn that one last," he continued. She raised an eyebrow in his direction, slightly skeptical that he should be trying it at all, but he'd already moved on.
"I don't know why you put this one in here," he actually lifted up the second scroll and glanced at it, annoyed that it didn't seem to be able to help with his problem. Tsunade frowned a bit. That scroll had talked about survival training and tracking. Even though it was a long shot, she figured that Naruto could use that kind of information. "I'm still gonna learn it, though," he grinned and tossed the scroll casually back onto the desk. Tsunade had to suppress a chuckle. Now that was the Naruto she knew.
Next, said blond picked up a third scroll, somewhere near the right of the pile. "This one I'm gonna start training on right now!" his grin widened. Tsunade had to suppress a sigh, wishing she'd bet on the outcome here, because she'd predicted correctly on all of his reactions to the scrolls so far. Of course, that only happened when she didn't have money on the line. That scroll taught a hand-to-hand fighter how to defend against and counter sword styles. She knew he'd eat that up like he ate Raman...well, maybe not quite that fast.
"And the rest of these," he gestured to the three scrolls left, "might help me a lot, but I don't know if I read them right." At that point Tsunade thanked her stars that she had not been betting on that, for while she knew that he might have a hard time understanding them with his level of knowledge and the fact that he still had problems reading sometimes (due to the lack of training or lousy teaching the adults in his life had given him at young ages...thinking about that always ticked her off), but she never would have thought he'd come out and actually say it. For a minute she blinked at him, wondering if this was the same Naruto she'd given her necklace to before shaking it off and setting her papers down as best she could without messing up the order anymore than it already was. Then she looked up into his blue eyes and shook her head.
"What don't you understand?" she heard herself asking.
Naruto seemed utterly perplexed as he looked at the remaining scrolls, scratching his head absent-mindedly. "Well, this one," he reached down and opened one up. "It says I can learn exactly how Sasuke feels. Why would there be a jitsu like that? And what does it mean?"
Tsunade took the scroll and skimmed over it quickly. After a few seconds, she rolled it back up, and set it carefully on the desk. It seemed terribly complicated for what it claimed to do. "I'm not sure, Naruto," she said slowly, after a while. "But it takes an incredible amount of chakra, so maybe it links you up with that person's chakra, or gives you a glimpse into his mind somehow. After all, if you know what an enemy is feeling, it's easier to predict and influence his choices." She fingered the old parchment of the scroll softly, her other hand resting on her chin thoughtfully. "But since we don't know exactly what it does, maybe you shouldn't-"
"No way!" Naruto slammed his fist on the table, causing Tsunade to bring a hand to the bridge of her nose as if to rub away a migraine...or a hangover. "If there's even a chance it'll help bring Sasuke back, then I'm gonna do it, dattebayo!"
She smiled again. "I knew you'd say that."
A scowl worked its way onto his face. "You weren't betting again, were you Baa-chan?"
"Don't call me that."
Naruto took a deep breath as he stood in the center of his apartment in front of his beat-up "kitchen' table. It had taken him almost two days to commit the scroll to memory and learn the order of all the hand seals without making a mistake. Now, he felt ready to glimpse into his brother's mind (well, at least that's how baa-chan had interpreted it, so that was good enough for him).
He'd asked Sakura to be there, but she'd had to be on duty at the hospital, although she promised that no matter how late she got off, she'd stop by to check up on him. He didn't want to wait that long.
He nodded to Kakashi, who had come at his request (he figured it was only right because they were all apart of the same team, although inviting Sai had felt far too awkward, so he hadn't). The silver-haired jounin sat on the window sill, reading his stupid little book (again), but Naruto knew the older man was more than aware of everything going on around him.
Kakashi nodded back, and Naruto started the hand seals.
Ram, Ox, Rooster, Pig, Horse, Rooster, Dragon...this technique had 37 hand seals, and required the molded chakra to be placed into an ink seal directly on the paper. As small as it was, it seemed extremely intricate (although Naruto of all people knew how much power even the tiniest seal could have), and hadn't seemed to fade with time as the rest of the scroll did. Baa-chan had said that was because the seal had been used more than a few times in it's lifetime. It stayed dark and easy to see because of the chakra residue...whatever that meant.
As long as it worked, he didn't particularly care. ...Horse, Snake, Dog, Monkey, Ox, Ram. There, he'd finished.
Leaning forward, he gently placed his hands on the seal in the correct positions (he'd memorized those and even had baa-chan check and re-check to see if he had it right).
Almost immediately, he felt almost all of the chakra in his body leave him (and considering the extreme reserves he had thanks to Kyuubi, that surprised him). His eyes widened in alarm before he felt his knees begin to give out on him, and he had the vague impression of falling.
He heard someone call his name, as if calling from miles away, and then everything faded to black.
Uchiha Sasuke finished tying the large rope that Orochimaru insisted all of his subordinates wear (with maybe the exception of Kabuto) around his waste, securing his pants and shirt in place. He dropped the remaining excess and almost rolled his eyes. The Snake Sannin himself actually wore the thing tied in a bow (for some strange reason that Sasuke had yet to fathom, not that he actually wanted to know...).
He slipped his sword's sheath over his shoulder and head, and secured it in place on his back as well before turning toward the door. The gap between his and Orochimaru's levels had continued to shrink rapidly over these last few years, but now Sasuke felt like he'd almost come to a stand still. Soon, he'd have to confront the stupid Snake-freak and end this once and for all. After that, all he had to do was find his older brother and prove that he'd finally gotten strong enough to avenge his family.
Two days. That's what he planned on right now. With Orochimaru practically bed-ridden after he and Kabuto had come back from killing whichever contact they'd gone out to meet (and then Sasuke's old team ran-sacking the base), it wasn't like Sasuke was learning anything anyway. He'd give the Snake-freak two days to change his charge's mind before he severed their relationship permanently.
Actually, that thought almost appealed to him enough to skip those two days right then and there, but Sasuke had learned patience in these last few years, and he'd never be stupid enough to run head-long into something like the Dobe did...
His mouth turned down ever so slightly at that. He preferred not to think of them at the moment for some strange reason that he couldn't quite place his thumb on.
Shaking the train of thought from his head, he reached for the door, only to practically crash into it as the world started spinning violently around him.
"What the...!" he started, but the world faded to darkness before he could even finish.
16 years earlier
The Uchiha clan buzzed with excitement as they bustled around the surprisingly pleasant day of July 23rd. The head of the clan was expecting his second child today, and few people were immune to the anticipation in some way.
In the cabin currently housing the main family, the mid-wife scurried around the room between the contractions, checking and re-checking to make sure she had everything she needed. The Uchihas had hired her for a hefty price after all. She knew most of them considered themselves too good to go to a common hospital like normal people (although the mid-wife had very little doubt that this particular woman would have minded so much—she seemed much nicer than the rest of the clan).
The contractions started again, pulling the mid-wife out of her thoughts, and she rushed over to the writhing woman. Then she checked again and smiled. It was time.
Twenty minutes later, she walked out of the room, carefully holding a tiny bundle in her arms. Fugaku Uchiha himself came running over immediately for news.
"She's fine. Only resting, but she should recover within the next few days easily," she in turn held out the little bundle with a smile on her face. "And here, is your son."
For an instant, Fugaku let his mask as the leader of the clan drop, and couldn't help the anticipation that brushed his sharp features. Firmly clamping down on his excitement, he looked down and into the face of his son as the child's eyes cracked open.
Immediately, the older Uchiha's features melted into shock. He'd never heard of an Uchiha who had eye-color different from dark brown or black, yet his son's eyes shone a deep, ocean blue.
There. Revamped so that I don't cringe every time I see it now. Doujinshi officially scrapped and I'm planning on revamping the second chapter so that it matches with the manga more.