Disclaimer:I do not own Naruto or Death Note. If I did, Naruto's series name would probably have been changed to Sasuke by now. And Mello would not look like a girl.
Note: Only one Death Note character appears in this story. Do not expect any others. Unless you count the Death Note itself as a character.
Note2: From the point where Sasuke forms the team Hebi, consider this story AU. Everything after that point is my own story, and, for the most part, breaks away from the canon. Whatever remains the same will be mentioned in the story, so don't worry.
Note 3: You DO NOT have to read or watch Death Note to understand the story. Any elements from Death Note that are important in the story are explained and will be made clear so that the story may be understood. Nevertheless, if you have NOT watched or read Death Note, I would greatly recommend you do. It is an amazing series.
A/N: This is my third Naruto story. One was abandoned very quickly, and the other can't continue until I get some of this one out of my system. I'm not abandoning Loser Uchiha, I just can't seem to think about it. I'm hoping that writing a few chapters of this story might get this out of my system and inspire me to work on LU. Anyway, keep an eye out for Death Note references, mostly names of insignificant people or places. Otherwise, enjoy the prologue!
Leaf Note - Prologue
A utopia, you said.
The marks were two years old now, etched across the top of the page.
In the end you gave me six years of fun.
The note sat in his lap. Not a single name had been written in after him.
But it looks like I'll have to find someone else this time, huh, Light?
Ryuk gently put his Death Note back in its place, and looked out at the Shinigami Realm. Nothing here had changed during the eight years that had passed since he dropped his extra Death Note in the Human World. The other shinigami did nothing but gamble, and watch the humans as their world recovered from the Era of Kira.
Two long years of boredom had passed, and Ryuk could no longer take it. It was time to escape again. He had once again acquired a second Death Note, this time with some luck and a dead shinigami. However, this time, he had a different plan. He would not drop the Note in the Human World. Not that one, anyway.
No, this time he planned to drop it somewhere else.
No more than six months ago, a new portal had opened in the Shinigami Realm. No one had bothered to find out yet, but the Shinigami King had speculated that it may lead to some different dimension of the Human World.
Ever since that time, Ryuk had been itching to find out what was there. Only the Shinigami King himself had taken the time to gaze through the portal thus far, but Ryuk would be the first one to traverse to the other side of the portal.
Well, how did I do it last time? Five days?
He turned in the direction of the new portal, staring at it for some time.
It's about time I had some fun again.
He chuckled, and stepped toward the portal. Nearby, a group of gambling shinigami saw him.
"Hey, Ryuk, you dropped your Death Note again?" One asked.
"Hah, he's probably off to become some human's pet again!" Said another.
"Who knows," he answered.
Not that being a 'pet' was that bad a sacrifice for some amusement.
He held his second (or, technically, third) Death Note in his hand.
After all, this world is rotten.
The peaceful winds of Konoha's forests were a welcome feeling, Shikamaru thought. After all, to a shinobi of the Leaf, the mountains of the Earth Country were anything but pleasant.
"Almost home," Kotetsu said behind him.
"Almost home," he repeated.
They had spent a good two weeks searching for Zetsu, the last remaining Akatsuke member, based on a lead they had received from a rather shady character. However, considering the level of danger and importance Zetsu held, both Konoha and Kusagakure were edgy and willing to take any chance they could to capture the S-class criminal.
Shikamaru blamed no one; he, too, wanted nothing more than to ensure that Zetsu was dead. He surely did not want to risk Akatsuke's return, even if Zetsu posed less of a threat as leader than Uchiha Madara had.
Despite that, they had spent a good four years searching for the half-plant-half-man, and yet not once had they succeeded in capturing him.
After a quick breather, the team moved out once more. Shikamaru was accompanied by Hagane Kotetsu, Kamizuki Izumo, and Namiashi Raido. By nightfall, he knew, they would arrive back in Konoha, and he would finally be able to rest comfortably.
For a moment, he stood where he was, vexed by the clouds that he had gazed upon for so many years. From where he stood, it seemed as if the sky behind those clouds was cracked. Shikamaru squinted, but it could not be helped. He was tired, and nothing more.
"Come on, Shikamaru," said Raido. "Let's get a move on."
"Yeah," He said.
From there, their journey was a simple walk through the woods. Once they passed the Matsui River, they knew they were a good half hour away from Konoha's magnificent Western Gate. If they put a little boost into their trek, they could probably make it there in half the time, Shikamaru thought. But as usual, he just lagged behind the others.
By the time they arrived at the Eastern Entrance, it was sunset, and Shikamaru was eager to finally get home. However, one obstacle still remained to the team.
As they strode past the security at the gate, Raido held out their mission report, written out on their way home.
"Well, someone has to get this to Hokage-sama," he said.
Kotetsu and Izumo looked at Shikamaru, who, despite not actually being the team leader, had been in charge most of the time.
"Yeah, I'll take care of it," he said. Raido handed off the scroll to him, and Shikamaru took his leave of the team.
The streets of Konoha were already becoming less crowded than they usually were. As he made his way down to the Hokage's office, he noticed several posters decorating the buildings, reminding him and the rest of the village of the coming festival.
How troublesome… that means preparations. And then a clean-up. Not to mention, people will probably try to force me to go.
Not that it was strange for people to force a friend to go to a festival, but this festival celebrated the defeat of Akatsuke, which he had been involved in. It was the fourth year since that happened, and each year so far he had been forced to partake in the festivities. He already knew what it would be like. Telling stories, drinking, being honored in front of the whole village, and plenty of other things Shikamaru honestly did not want to bother with.
Sure, none of the others who had been involved had a problem with it. Kiba especially delighted in retelling the story of how he and Shino had taken down Hoshigaki Kisame, although each year the story seemed to end differently. Naruto was still enjoying the respect he had garnered from taking down the Akatsuke Leader, Pein, which had, for the most part, changed the village's attitude towards him. Hinata, shy as she was, received her due credit every year for her defeat of Konan. It had been Shikamaru who had brought down Deidara with the help of Sasuke's associate, Juugo. As for Sasuke himself, he had completed his goal of killing his brother, but at an enormous cost.
Only Zetsu had escaped. That was why, to this day, Konoha continued to hunt him. Somehow, though, he seemed to avoid all capture.
Nevertheless, anyone who had helped in the defeat of Akatsuke, or brought about the death of one of its members (old and new alike) was honored at this festival. It was named the Shirotsuke Matsuri, the Festival of White Dawn, to commemorate Akatsuke's goals being thwarted and the world being rid of a dangerous threat. The Hidden Sand celebrated it too, and last year the Grass and the Waterfall began to celebrate as well. Tsunade's hope was that it would eventually become a world-wide holiday, and that that would hopefully rid the world of remaining Akatsuke supporters, if there were any.
When Shikamaru finally arrived at Tsunade's office, he sighed before walking in. Throughout the past four years, the Godaime Hokage seemed to have been mistaking Shikamaru for one of her advisors. True, he did not mind having some political power within Konoha. That would probably be a good asset one day. But having Tsunade ask for his opinion on some matter nearly every time she saw him was just plain troublesome.
He entered the building, and found himself in a rather crowded lobby. Because the Shirotsuke Matsuri was in a few days, many shinobi were returning now from missions so they would be back and rested in time for the festival. Shikamaru wondered how long it would take to get to Tsunade with all these others handing in their own mission reports.
He turned around to see Sakura coming towards him.
"Tsunade-sama has been waiting for you," she said.
Shikamaru raised an eyebrow. "Why just me?" He asked. "Doesn't she have some work to do?" He gestured to all the other people in the room.
"Well, the fact is Tsunade-sama is being a little lazy this evening. She told me she just wanted to get your report on Zetsu and be done for the day. She's left other assistants to collect all these other reports for her to get to tomorrow."
Shikamaru had the urge to ask why their Hokage was being so lazy, especially right before a holiday, but he figured he of all people did not have the right to say such a thing. Instead, he let Sakura lead him up to Tsunade's office, where she left him, most likely to take care of some of the Godaime's work.
When he entered the room, Tsunade was behind her desk, reading something. The desk itself was cluttered with stacks of paper, most likely reports, letters, and festival business. The Hokage herself did not raise her head from what she was reading, so Shikamaru simply took a seat across from her desk, waiting.
"My, my, being Hokage is a lot of work," she finally said.
"Isn't that part of the job description?" He asked.
Tsunade looked up from the paper she was reading. Her expression confused him; he couldn't be sure if she was annoyed or amused.
"I suppose it is," she said. "Well, we're both tired here. How did it go?"
Shikamaru sighed before he began, mostly to tell her quickly it was a complete failure. "To put it simply, that lead was useless. Your informant said they heard rumors of a plantman running around in the Raifunkakou Mountains (Lightning Crater Mountains) in the Earth Country, but if Zetsu was ever there, it was a good long time ago. We found a few traces of shinobi equipment, but it most likely came from the Hidden Stone village's shinobi. Also, I doubt Zetsu carries any equipment with him anyway."
"In other words, nothing?"
"Yes. The mission was a complete waste."
"I see. Speaking of the Earth Country, did you have any trouble getting in there?"
"Not at first," he said. "The border patrol wasn't a problem. It was afterwards that we ran into some trouble."
"Did you fight?" Tsunade asked before he could continue.
"No. But we almost did. When we entered the mountains, a squad of Iwa shinobi tried to stop us. They said at first that the mountains were off-limits to foreign shinobi, and tried to bring us back to Iwagakure with them to get permission. It took some diplomacy, but I eventually got them to let us in. They told us if we weren't out of the mountains in three days, they would send someone in to bring us out."
"That's definitely suspicious. Did you see anything?"
"I thought maybe they were doing something in there that they didn't want us to know about. But the biggest worries are impossible. If they were trying to amass troops in some way, we would have seen it, and there would be no way that they would let us in if they were. If there was some weapon hidden in the mountains, they would have at least sent an escort with us. In any case, we didn't see anything. I wouldn't worry too much about it."
"Either way, something's going on," said Tsunade. "I'd like to know about it before anything bad happens. And to think, I assumed all my worries would be over once Akatsuke was gone."
"Technically, Akatsuke isn't completely gone until Zetsu is caught."
"I suppose so. In the meantime, we have to do something about this Earth conspiracy, whatever it is. I could send a team of ANBU to investigate."
"If you did, you would have to pick someone who you can be sure won't be caught. If Iwagakure caught our shinobi in their territory without permission…"
"I know. It could possibly mean war, and Konoha can't afford that. But I already have in mind a team that should be able to get the job done. I'll try to get some more information before I do anything. If we find any reasonable purpose to investigating those mountains, then we'll go in."
"That sounds good."
A moment of silence passed between the two.
"Is there anything else you need of me?" Shikamaru asked.
"Just one. And it's a happier thought than this conspiracy you're telling me about. Will you be attending the Shirotsuke Festival? I need to know who's willing to be on duty during that time. Most people refuse, and I don't feel like forcing anyone to do anything."
Damn woman, he thought. You just want me to go, don't you? You know I wasn't planning on going, but you also know I'd prefer going to doing any work.
In the corner of his eye, he saw a smile slip across her bored and tired expression.
You troublesome woman.
"Yeah, I'll be going. Ino's forcing me, so it's not like I have any choice." He lied.
"I see. If that's the case, then you're dismissed."
"Thank you," he said. He got up and bowed, then left the office and made his way home.
A few days later, Shikamaru found himself awake early the morning before the festival. The entire event lasted three days, but the main celebration (which, consequently, was the part most people cared about) was that evening. The second day was more a memorial day, to remember all the people who had given their lives in the fight against Akatsuke.
Most of Shikamaru's morning was dull and meaningless, as he chose to see it. Ino had forced him up early to help with the preparations for the festival. Being the lazy shit he was, Shikamaru made it a point to take a long time with every task Ino gave him, hoping that somehow that would convince her never to ask him to help her with anything ever again.
Aside from the work, however, it wasn't so bad. For the first time in a long while, Shikamaru had the chance to hang out with his old friends. They were all the same rank as him, if not higher, so having a mission with at least one of them wasn't uncommon, but missions weren't a time or place for hanging out or bonding.
When all the work was done, Sakura offered to treat everyone to some lunch. Shikamaru went along, having worked himself to an empty to stomach (perhaps a better phrase would have been that he complained to an empty stomach).
Evidently, he was the first to leave. The rest of the group intended to get a little more work done, but Shikamaru had other plans. At his own lazy pace, he made his way down to the prison. When he arrived, he found Ibiki just about to leave.
The interrogator looked up at him, his eyes looking somewhat interested. "Any luck with that damn plant?" He asked.
"No, nothing," he said. "It was a bad lead."
Ibiki nodded. "If that's the case, then what brings you hear? That same old prisoner you keep visiting?"
"Shibuimaru Takuo…" said Ibiki. "He won't be going anywhere any time soon. Not unless he talks, though it doesn't seem like he'll be doing that anytime soon.
Shikamaru shrugged, and Ibiki took his leave. Shibuimaru Takuo was a missing-nin from another Hidden Village, who had tried to assassinate a village elder but failed. He had made the mistake of roaming into Konoha territory, where he was captured and imprisoned. Kirigakure, the man's home village, asked for his body, but Konoha had refused. It was obvious what would happen to him should they give him up to the Hidden Mist.
According to Takuo's story, he had had good reason to attempt to kill the elder, but the Mizukage refused to believe the story. For that reason, Konoha refused them the prisoner, but for diplomatic purposes, had to keep him imprisoned. If they let him escape or killed him, then they would possibly have a problem with Kirigakure, and they did not want to risk angering another village. An irritation was one thing, but going completely against their wishes could lead to hostility.
Shikamaru checked in and verified that Shibuimaru was still in the same cell he had been confined to during his previous visit, and then was escorted down to the prisoner chamber.
From the looks of it, Takuo was in no better condition than before. Shikamaru could tell he did not receive enough food. The man had gotten very skinny over the past few months, and his sunken eyes showed that he did not receive much kindness either. Overall, he looked all too ready to die.
When his attendant left, Shikamaru took a seat in front of the cell. Takuo's eyes wandered a little, until they finally settled on Shikamaru. A moment passed before he finally spoke.
"That you, Shikamaru?"
"Yeah," he answered.
Takuo remained silent again.
"How are you doing, Shibuimaru?" Shikamaru asked. He did not want to be on a first term basis with this man while ANBU were near. He didn't want any false suspicion surrounding him.
Once again, Takuo took a while to speak.
"I'm tired," he said. "Tired of this. I just…just wanna go."
Shikamaru knew full well what he meant by 'go'.
"Last time I was here, you told me about your shuriken bomb, Shibuimaru. But what about that heat-sensitive explosion tag you mentioned?"
The truth was, Shibuimaru Takuo had invented a great deal of original shinobi weaponry. One of the reasons Shikamaru kept visiting was that he wanted to hear more about all of these things. It was pretty interesting.
A smile came to Takuo's face, something Shikamaru hardly ever saw him do these days.
"Shikamaru…" he said. "I don't want your pity. Or your help. There's only one thing I want right now. If you can't give it to me, then please…don't trouble yourself coming here anymore. You have a life. That's something I have no hope of having anymore."
"Don't say it. Shikamaru. Either put me out of my misery, or go."
Shikamaru nodded. It seemed after months of imprisonment, Takuo had cracked. He could no longer take it. And who could blame him?
Troublesome politics… this isn't even the worst of what they cause. Why can't things be simple?
"See you, Takuo," he said as he left.
Takuo closed his eyes. "Hopefully in another place, yeah. A better place…"
Sunlight was a welcome feeling when Shikamaru left the prison. To be honest, he was feeling a little depressed. He liked Takuo; he was an interesting man. Shikamaru just wished he could do something for the man. There was no hope for him living, but at least to put him out of his misery…
The honest truth was, though, if they killed him in any way, Kirigakure would know. Which meant there was nothing they could do but keep him alive, but miserable.
As he walked his usual path home, Shikamaru kept thinking about Takuo's situation, searching for some loophole that would allow the man to live. In his heart, however, he knew there was nothing he could do.
Deep in thought, Shikamaru almost didn't notice as Neji approached him.
"Shikamaru," the Hyuga said, "mind doing me a favor?"
"Depends what," Shikamaru replied. "What do you need?"
"Take this medkit to Lee? He needs a new kit, but refused to buy one. But I need to get back to the Hyuga Grounds for something important."
"And you chose me, the lazy guy…why?" It was something Shikamaru just had to ask.
"You were the first trustworthy person I saw. And doing something for another person would do you some good, too. Just go, will you?"
"Yeah, whatever," he said, taking the medical box. It seemed he was doing people a lot of favors these days.
"Lee's at the Academy. He shouldn't be hard to find."
Shikamaru mentally chuckled at the thought of Lee being hard to find. You would have to have a whole crowd of green spandex-wearing bowl-cuts, and that… that was just a scary dream.
"Wait, Neji," he said, as the Hyuga was leaving. "Why is Lee at the Academy? He couldn't be…"
"He's planning to. And if you're smart, you won't try to fix anything he does to them. Things always turn out worse when you do."
Neji left, and Shikamaru remained where he was, trying to imagine Lee as…
Not just any teacher. A leader of a Genin squad.
He had to get that image out. And quick.
As he walked down to the Ninja Academy, Shikamaru did his best to keep his mind off the idea of three twelve-year-olds in spandex with bowl cuts calling Lee sensei. It was a quick walk, luckily, since he just wanted to go home, and didn't keep his usual lazy pace.
At any rate, when he reached the school, he quickly found Lee standing outside a classroom of near-graduates. Iruka was inside teaching, while Lee watched through a window.
The spandex-wearing Jounin noticed Shikamaru immediately, and turned to great him. Enthusiastically. Very enthusiastically.
"Shikamaru-kun! Have you come to see the Flames of Youth educate our future warriors as well?!"
"Nope. Just here to give you something from Neji." He said.
"Neji sent something to me?"
"Yeah, it's a medkit. He said you need a new one."
"Nonesense! Bandages are all I need, I must learn from my wounds!" He cried.
"Say, Lee, are you really planning on teaching some of these kids? You're still pretty young to be taking on a Genin team…"
"What do you mean, Shikamaru-kun? It is never too soon to show these children how to be a great shinobi! How can you not feel the same way?"
"You know what? Nevermind. Just take the kit, will you?"
Lee grabbed the medkit, seemingly with hesitation. For some reason, Shikamaru didn't feel like leaving just yet.
"So, Lee. What are they like?" He asked. "Any good?"
"Ah, yes," replied Lee. "There are some of very youthful fellows among this class, although I fear that some may do well with some extra fire in their spirits."
"Anyone promising? A prodigy, maybe?" Konoha seemed to have had a lot of those.
"What are you talking about, Shikamaru-kun? In my eyes they are ALL geniuses! Each in their own way. You know very well that being a "genius" does not mean anything at all."
Yeah, Lee sort of proves that himself.
Shikamaru gazed into the classroom. There wasn't much to see. It was the day of the festival, and most of these kids were just anxious to get out.
Suddenly, out of the corner of his eye, Shikamaru saw something fly by the window. It looked like some sort of notebook.
He found himself surprisingly intrigued, and said goodbye to Lee as he left. The other Jounin called something after him, but Shikamaru paid no attention to it.
When he exited the building, Shikamaru found himself wondering whether he, one day, might chose to teach a team of Genin.
However, his thoughts were interrupted when he stepped on something crunchy, and somewhat disgusting. He moved his foot over and found what looked like an incredibly rotten apple. In fact, it was so thin, it almost looked like a pear.
He picked up the rotten thing and turned to throw it in the garbage can near the door.
Then he found it.
Not five feet away from the garbage can was the black notebook he had seen fall past the window.
Shikamaru stepped over to it and bent down to look at it. It looked harmless, yet there was still some strange vibe coming from it.
He looked up, wondering if it had come from the roof, or just one of the top floors? It was obvious some student had thrown it, probably as some sort of prank or joke, or merely out of frustration.
He sighed, deciding he should probably go give it to one of the teachers, and picked it up. Looking closer he saw there was something written across the cover.
Next Chapter: Rebirth
Should be out in the next 48 hours. I'm on spring break.