A/N: I told you not to hold your breath, didn't I? I swear I did. I even checked the prologue before posting this, and, yes, I did post that! So it's not my fault that a great portion of you seemed to expect an update immediatly.
This chapter has been half done for a couple months, but I only got the urge to pick it up and finish it within the last few days.
Now, for all those who've been waiting, let's get Reshrouded.
My name is Uzumaki Naruto, and I have decided that all the philosophers I've talked to or seen books by are completely and utterly full of shit.
In every book (and believe it or not, I've read a few when I had nothing else to do) I've ever found that touched upon the subject, death slows down your perception of time. The minutes and seconds slow to a crawl, and you get the chance to see your life flash before your eyes. In other words, you have just enough time to make a deathbed confession before you kick the big one.
Death doesn't go like that. It isn't slow at all. And there's not even time for that deathbed confession. Nope, you get a second to go 'Holy Shit, there's a hand in my chest!', and then WHAM! At least, that's how it went in my case, and as I have no other experience, I'm going to go with the fact that philosophers are full of shit.
Or, they could be right, and my death could be wrong. Eh. Getting stabbed by a lightning-covered hand might have had some negative effects on my psyche.
Of course, that brings me to said stabber, one Uchiha Sasuke. Yes, Uchiha Sasuke. In case you don't know him, he has a few things that really stand out. Most are pointed out in droves by his fangirls, and they notice a few things I would never have looked for and really don't care to. They'll go on and on about his eyes, his hair, his sparkling wit and charm, and his inability to do any wrong. Sadly, the last one is actually true. Well, when it comes to ninja stuff. And the current thing he's trying to do is definitely under the subject of ninja stuff. Or, assassin stuff at least. You see, he's… well, he's trying to stab me with a Chidori. Unfortunately for me, he seems pretty damn good at it.
Yep. There goes my heart. And… wait? What the hell? I was just…
Hold on. Time to recap. I was just over in that body. But now I'm… over here? So I'm no longer in my body. I'm some kinda spirit. I wonder if I can fly? No time for that now, though, as I'm too busy watching Sasuke push his Chidori through my brain. And no, the bastard didn't even bother removing it from my heart either. Ew. Looks like I'm getting closed casket. And…
One more second.
Alright. That was just freaky. I mean, seriously, I always thought that when I bit the big one, all my jutsu that were active at the time would vanish. But, no, it seems that is indeed a wrong guess. Because one of my clones, yeah, the one that I had just used to help me with Rasengan, decided to take matters into it's own hands. Pity I could never get that technique to work one-handed, but I guess it works for clones. What're the odds. And, no, that clone didn't even bother being all nice like I was going to be, and aim for the arm. Nothing but skull shots for this clone! And… yes! It looks like Sasuke will be getting closed casket too! So I'm not the only one who's getting a dirt nap today!
Hm. Maybe it's the fact that he killed me, but I'm not going to shed many tears over his death. As a matter of fact, it's time to test out that flying idea! Hm. Maybe
I could run first and then try to take off. Or maybe I should just jump. I'll try the running first. But it's surprisingly hard to run when you're dead. I always thought you were supposed to get all ethereal and weightless. Eh. Philosophers have been wrong once today, so why not twice?
Alright. Time to taxi. Time to prep. Time to avoid that giant chain coming out of my chest. Time to dodge suddenly materializing asshole slash best friend with stupid look on his face.
Wait. One More Time.
Giant Chain. Asshole with stupid look on face, not that the stupid look is anything new.
There's something wrong with that image.
Looks like I'll try to fly later.
Naruto and Sasuke. Former best friends. Now each others killers. Both staring at each other in spiritual form, trying to ignore the fact that they had giant chains coming out of their chests. Hate and rage danced behind their eyes as they glared at each other for countless moments. Of course, those moments wouldn't be countless for much longer.
"Hey, asshole!" Naruto called. "How long have we been staring at each other like this?"
Sasuke briefly broke off from the stare down to look up at the sun, which was still slowly going through it's arc in the sky, though it looked much hazier then it had that morning. "Looks to be about… ten, fifteen minutes?"
There was another moment of silence before the still was broken again, this time by Sasuke.
"Of course, what is time to us now? Is it even passing the same way now that we're dead? What does it matter anyway? We've crossed over, died, and we will never again see any friends, family, or-"
"You had no friends except me. Your only family was a sociopath. And stop trying to sound all smart and philosophical. The only one here to hear it is me, and I already know you're full of shit."
"He who lives in glass houses shouldn't throw stones."
"He who lives in glass houses shouldn't throw stones."
"I just said that."
"I just said that."
"Stop mimicking me!"
"Stop mimicking me!"
"Seriously, Orange Moron!"
"Seriously, Orange Moron!"
Sasuke paused for a moment, before smirking and saying "Finally, you've come to realize how much smarter I am then you! You've finally started taking the words of wisdom from me, and attempted to use them! Sadly, your intellect is not up to the task of using them correctly!"
"Your intellect and Seventy-Five ryo will get you a small chicken ramen."
Another pause from the Uchiha. "How much is a small chicken ramen?"
"But you said Seventy-Five…"
"Yeah. That means, oh dimwitted one, that having your intellect either causes you to overpay, or they demand more money for having to explain to you how to eat it." Naruto smirked mockingly at Sasuke as he said "Who's smarter then who again?"
Yet another pause. Then, the sound of teeth grinding for a brief moment. "I'm going to kill you. Again." Sasuke grunted through clenched teeth, before charging the still smirking blonde.
"I'm not stupid, you damn runt!" he said, and lashed out with his left foot.
"I'm not a runt, you arrogant ass!" Naruto yelled as he jumped over the kick, and countered with a heel drop.
"Ramen Obsessed Loser!" A dodge, and a right hook.
"Broody psychopath!" An identical dodge, and roundhouse kick aimed for the head.
"Moron!" A raised hand guards the kick, and the other moves in to chop at the neck.
"You already used that one, fucking dumbass!" A hand raises and contemptuously sweeps the chop to the side before a punch is thrown towards the gut.
The next few moments were a frenzied blur as the two stopped insulting each other and got serious. Kicks met blocks, punches were parried, and those strange chains growing out of their chests were turned into improvised weapons. With two hands, Naruto grabbed his chain and cracked it like a whip. The odd restraint whipped forward, with its heavy links connecting solidly with Sasuke's leg.
The Uchiha's limb buckled and gave out, and Sasuke fell in a heap. As Naruto advanced on his friend, Sasuke's leg lashed out, catching Naruto in a forward sweep. The blonde's face met the ground so hard that he could swear he heard hellfire crackling. The two shinobi lay on the ground breathing heavily, their chain-filled chests rising and falling with each ragged breath.
There was a sound from their side and both of their heads whipped towards the interruption. The sound in question happened to come from the throat of a boy who was just standing there, watching them with an amused look on his face. "So," he asked, arching one snowy white eyebrow. "Are you done yet?"
The response was instant and identical from both combatants. "HELL NO!"
The small white-haired boy looked on, his amusement growing as the two got up and leapt back into the fray. Slowly, his amusement faded into a calculating expression as he watched the two fight. 'Hm. That kick was well placed.' he thought. 'Though that block was nothing short of brilliant! A little sloppy on the follow up though, and if he… yes, he can deflect that shot with no real struggle. Blondie seems to be much stronger though less precise while the other guy is good at picking his opponents apart but with much less force.'
The calculating look was washed aside for a second by shock as something occurred to him. 'Wait, how in the blue hell are they able to move so well!? It would take finely developed spiritual control to move that well and these two have only been dead for…' he looked down at the watch concealed beneath his black robes. 'Seventeen minutes!'
"Okay, brats!" he yelled out in his voice of command. "Cut it out!"
As one, the two stopped, with Naruto's fist an inch away from Sasuke's face and Sasuke's foot a hair away from Naruto's groin. Slowly, the two lowered their fists (and in Sasuke's case, foot) and backed away. Only once they were a few feet away from each other did they stop and trade looks. "Hey, Sasuke!" Naruto called to his friend. "I think this midget just called us brats!"
Sasuke, ignoring the throbbing purple lump sprouting over his left eye, smirked slightly. "Who're you calling a midget, short stuff?" As Naruto slowly turned red, realization hit Sasuke like a ten pound hammer. "Wait." he said, turning to the white haired boy. "Who are you, and why are you in my personal hell?"
"Personal hell?" Naruto snorted. "It could be so much worse then just me. Imagine all your fangirls grabbing you in strange places for all eternity while they point out what a cute couple we'd make."
"…" Sasuke paused again. "Point taken. But the question stands. Who is he?"
Naruto eyed the short robed figure. "You know... I have no idea! So, small-one-who-does-not-seem-aware-of-his-own-age-and-height, who're you and what gives you the right to call use brats?"
With each word out of the mouths of the two recently deceased, the boy's right eyebrow began twitching. At first, it was a small, barely noticeable wiggle of the brow. But by the end of Naruto's last question, it was like a snake was doing pushups on his forehead. 'Calm, Hitsugaya.' the boy thought. 'Calm down. They're just recently dead people. Really, this is much better then usual. Usually, it's all shock and crying, but they actually…' Hitsugaya lost his train of thought as Naruto walked over and began poking the side of his head.
"Hellloooo!" Naruto called, as if yelling into a cave. "Anybody home?"
There was a brief explosion of power from the small figure, and Naruto tumbled back head over heals, as much from shock as from the actual shockwave. He stopped moving twenty feet away from where he had been standing before. He shook his head in an attempt to force away the disorientation. "Whoa."
The moment he got his bearings was also the moment he became aware of a glare boring a hole through him. Hitsugaya's green eyes were narrowed in anger, and a blue aura was radiating off of him. Behind the winter warrior, Sasuke slowly backed away. Once he had reached what he deemed a safe distance, he immediately began rubbing his arms frantically to quell the sudden chill that had washed over him. Luckily, Hitsugaya's attention was focused only on Naruto.
"You… You…" Hitsugaya growled as he fought to find the best words he could. With a visible effort, he reigned in his temper and the temperature noticeably rose. "I am going to say this once, and only once. So pay very, very close attention. You are dead. I am dead. You do not know anything about being dead. I have never been alive. You don't know what the hell you're doing around here. I do. So remember, I hold the damn cards here. You don't! Any questions?!"
Naruto sat on the ground, the dazed look still on his face. Sadly for Hitsugaya, Naruto still hadn't regained full use of his faculties yet, and fell back on one of his most deeply ingrained habits: speaking before thinking. "Hee Hee… midget."
With a roar of frustration, Hitsugaya reached for the sword handle protruding from above his shoulder. The blade flashed out in one fluid motion, heading directly for the seated blonde. Naruto immediately rolled to the side as fast as he could, reaching for weapons that weren't there anymore. His speed wasn't enough to evade the blade- or, rather, it wouldn't have been if Naruto had been Hitsugaya's target.
There was a meaty thud behind Naruto. The former ninja shot a quick look over his shoulder and froze. Laying there, slowly dissolving, was a giant… monster was the only word to describe it. It resembled a giant cat with oversized paws, only it was pure white. Its skull, before it had been neatly bisected, had been shaped like that of a wolf, and was white as a bone.
Slowly, Naruto turned his head back to face Hitsugaya. The odd boy had already sheathed his sword, all anger forgotten. He arched an eyebrow at the amazement on Naruto's face. "Are you done acting like a moron now?" he asked, half resigned, half jokingly.
The response came immediately. "If you can teach me how to do that, I could probably shut up for a few minutes."
This time it was Hitsugaya who looked like he had been hit in the face with the metaphorical ten pound hammer. The look and attitude of the moron had suddenly been shed, or at least suppressed, in favor of a look of naked hunger. Before he could do anything, Sasuke was suddenly next to the white haired warrior. "Confused you too?" he chuckled. "He has that effect on lots of people. Acts like a complete dumbass until it counts, and then turns into some kind of battle savant. Useless for most things, but really scary in combat."
For the second time in thirty seconds, Hitsugaya was taken aback. It would have taken a complete and clueless idiot to miss the note of fondness in Sasuke's voice, one that was akin to that of an older brother. "Don't you two hate each other?" Hitsugaya asked. At Sasuke's questioning look, he continued with "You guys were just trying to destroy each other, weren't you?"
Sasuke shook his head. "Destroy? Nah, that was just sparring. Getting killed kinda gives you a lot of frustration, you know?" Hitsugaya nodded. After all, he did indeed know. Any further discussion was halted by Naruto jumping to his feet and engaging Sasuke in an argument about something called 'chedory' and how it was weaker then Naruto's 'razengaan'.
Hitsugaya took the opportunity the distraction gave him to think. After all, these two weren't the typical souls he found. With those, it was usually stab 'em and forget 'em. But these two could already move normally, something usually impossible for normal souls. Not only that, but they could apparently interact with the Chain of Fate growing out of their chests, something also out of reach for the usual deceased.
With these two facts, Hitsugaya was pretty sure that Yamamoto would try and burn him if he didn't at least attempt to guide these two.
"Alright, you two." he said, command coloring his voice once again. Immediately, the two stopped bickering and turned to face him. "I'm going to use my sword to make you pass on. It'll only take a moment, and will take you where you need to be. Now listen carefully, because this next part will be important."
"Once you get there, go to Seireitei and tell the gatekeeper that you were sent by Hitsugaya Toshiro. Remember that. Seireitei. Hitsugaya Toshiro."
Naruto opened his mouth, but was cut off by an open hand before he could say a thing.
"No talking right now. We've taken too much time as it is. Remember. Seireitei. Hitsugaya Toshiro. Remember."
The sword flashed out of its sheath, and both of the newly deceased Shinobi were hit with the hilt within seconds. The two started fading, with Hitsugaya's last words ringing in their ears.
"Seireitei. Hitsugaya Toshiro. Remember."
A/N: Next chapter, we go somewhere never before touched on in the Shrouded Orange universe: Rukongai. Once again, don't hold your breath.