Advent against Time
Written By: Matdeception
Disclaimer: That guy who did that thing that time owns Naruto, and I own the keyboard I'm using to write this message with. Maybe, patents still pending.
AN: This is another story dealing with Advent!Naruto. If you are unaware of him, imagine a pathologically insane serial killer who slowly rediscovers his humanity as he is forcibly thrusted from timeline to timeline ala a method similar to Quantum Leap staring Scott Bakula.
Advent Against Time: Prologue
He was aware, yet not. He could smell that faint scent of dried mud mixed with the sharp aroma of blood. He could smell the wood, the remnants of a finisher that had seeped into the surface. Light, he could feel the light... the subtle heat of illumination cast off by its source that gently caressed his skin, but he could not pinpoint its direction.
He knew he hated this, hated being trapped between the world of the living and the void of death. Why he hated it, he wasn't sure, only that he did. Wake, he thought, wake up and face the truth! Wake up and face something other then utter oblivion...
His eyes flashed open, orbs of curelean blue shining breifly in the darkness of night. Light glittered overhead, shattered into fracturing lines by the blinds covering the window. Turning his head, he looked at a simple wooden chair set in the corner. On it he could see the dirtied torn remains of a shirt, covered in mud intermingled with the faintest strips of blood. He shut his eyes, squeezing them tight as a wave of vertigo passed over him, sending shivering tingles that did nothing but aggravate the intense feeling of loss he felt.
Naruto groaned, leaning over the side of the bed just as vomit spewed forth. He retched what remained of his last meal; retched until he started dry heaving, kept wretching even as his chest exploded in agony with each convulsive twitch. The agony tapered off in time, how long he spent there spewing over the hardwood floors he couldn't track. Shakily he pulled the covers off, and moved to stand. The floor was cold, distinctly uncomfortable against his bare flesh as he stepped through the darkened room. He found the bathroom, felt the cold wood of the floor switch to cold tile as he stepped up to the sink. He fumbled for the faucet, turning the slightly rusty knob and enduring the familiar echo of pipes creaking behind the walls as ice cold water came tumbling free.
He dipped his hand in the water, hissing slightly as the water touched flesh. Like vertible ice needles, the water assaulted his hand, sending waves of agony up his arm to hammer in his brain. He steeled himself, enduring the torment as he cupped the water and splashed himself across the face once, then twice. He took deep, shuddering breaths as he stood there in the dark, trying desperatly to organize his thoughts and just make sense of it all.
Slowly he raised his gaze, looking into the mirror above the sink curiously. His face looked back, his young smooth face with the tell tale signs of childhood fat present in his cheeks. Slowly, ever so slowly he ran his fingers across the deep lined birthmarks across his cheeks. Marks that could easily be considered scars, wounds inflicted on him by some deranged lunatic with a fetish for knives, but were simple echos of a most curious gestation within his mothers womb.
He sighed, shaking that train of thought free, "Another jump, another life." he looked into the mirror again, a slight frown marring his cherub features, "Young body, six, seven years old." that slight frown turned into a glare, as he noticed the blood leaking from his nose. Tentatively he touched it, smearing the ruby red essense of life between his fore finger and thumb. "What the hell happened this time?"
Naruto frowned, eyeing his torn up apartment irritably. Just as he had done in many of his past jumps, he had torn his home apart looking for clues, evidence, something that could illuminate his current life and situation. And like his previous body jumps, what he had found was not to his liking. Not one bit.
He opened a notebook, eyeing the talented sketchings with a half interested look before flipping the pages to a clean, unused page. He put pencil to paper, writing down everything he had learned, or at least suspected about his current life. A curosory examination of the calender had proven his initial assessment correct, he was nearing his seventh birthday and would soon, if this life adhered to the general standard of living his previous lives had usually followed, be enrolling in the Academy in the spring.
Naruto frowned, contemplating the possibility the him in this life had no interest in becoming a shinobi, before throwing that thought away. He was reasonably healthy, lived in the apartment he had lived in whenever he had been the Kyuubi's container, which meant him joining the Academy would be unavoidable. Once upon a time he liked to think he had a choice in the matter, when in truth he never did. Sarutobi, old sap that he was, had to make concessions to keep the likes of Danzou, or other war touting simpletons from demanding he be turned over and moulded into some kind of super soldier. One such concession was the Academy, one way or another the powers that be in Konoha were going to make him into a weapon, this was just what Sarutobi considered the kindest of ways. The illusion of choice... pfeh.
Next on his list were the results of his physical examination. As expected from a body so young, he lacked anything even remotely considered chakra coils. Oh, they were there, they had to be if he wanted to keep breathing, but by his standards they might as well not be there. Physically, he was about where he expected he'd be given his age, not strong, weak but possessing the limberness that only children could possess. That was good and bad, for he hated being weak, but the possibility of exploiting his flexibility, pushing it to heights he'd never been able to possess in his previous jumps, made the prospect of training from such a... nonexistant state interesting.
Yet... there was something else there that was cause for alarm. Slight scarring across his frontol lobe, the kind of scarring that could be caused in any number of ways, but for the residual chakra present. These scars were the result of an attack, Genjutsu if he had to guess. Whoever had done it, however, he could not put his finger on. The trace amount of Chakra had degraded to the point that the only thing he could be sure of was the fact it wasn't his.
Naruto grimaced at that. The fact he wasn't a flaming vegtible had to be due to his unnatural luck, it was a miracle honestly, he could only count his lucky stars he had entered this body before whoever had done this had finished melting his brain. While he could repair the damage as it was now, if his brain had been melted he would be too disrupted mentally to even realize he was a flaming vegtible.
He sighed, shaking his head as he circled that particular item on his list. He'd need to deal with that immediatly, repair the damage and set up mental barriers to give whoever the hell was doing it one nasty surprise when they eventually came back. The fact he needed to deal with it now was entirely the problem, though. Without chakra coils worth a damn, he'd have to tap heavily in the dumb foxes chakra, and given he hadn't had near enough time to attune the bastards chakra to this body he was going to be forced to use unpurified demonic chakra, which could only have one outcome in all this.
Migraines. Ugh, life was so unfair.
Still, the possibility of migraines versus waking up one day to find your brain a pile of mushy jam made the choice an easy one. He clumsily formed the seal of the rat, forcing his consciousness into that place between spaces, where the might of the Kyuubi laid dormant within him.
Time... time, how much time had passed? He woke, eyeing the broken remains of his table, the strong wood cracked and shattered beneath him. Books, laid around him in haphazard positions, kicked to and fro as he endured the first wave of pain after finishing with the Kyuubi's chakra. Naruto gazed at the window, the afternoon sun shining brightly without, casting their lumination like solar hell daggars digging into his brain.
He grimaced, turning away from the painful light. Managing to stand, he stumbled his way towards the door, grabbing the brass tarnished handle and opening the door. He was almost out in the hall when he realized just what he was doing. Now wasn't the time to explore Konoha, not when he only just barely recovered from setting up his mental barriers. He was weak, starving, and in no mood to play games, yet... why?
Why did he move for the door? It was like a need had swelled within him, but a need for what? Naruto frowned at that feeling, mentally teasing it, testing it, hoping that he'd gain some kind of glimmer from it. He got nothing, but that didn't stop the nagging thoughts that he needed to go, he needed to be some where soon. Needed to meet some...
Naruto sighed, shaking his head. Echo's of who he was, instinctually need like a physical attachment, thats what this feeling was. The life this body lived before he arrived needed to be somewhere, demanded they get there soon. It was a mistake, he knew, to walk into Konoha with out figuring out the way of things. For all he knew he could be walking into a city that pelted him with rocks whenever they saw him, or worse, outright ignored his existance.
That need he did not understand flared within him again, and he relented. Better to go with it, better to see it through, if only to calm himself. He shut the door behind him, moved down the stairs to the buildings front door, and stepped into the great unknown.
Naruto catalogued what he observed, of the people going too and fro, of how their boistrious conversations turned into low, dark mumbling as he passed them by. What were they saying? He didn't know, and honestly didn't care. It seemed in this world they didn't resort to physical violence at the sight of him, which was a pity. Physical violence could be faced, fought, and eventually defeated. Being ignored, being seen and avoided rather then confronted was a worse fate to his aged mind. You could not fight this directly, you could not change the way people acted with out proving you weren't what they said you were.
He was tired of proving anything to anyone, and no longer felt the need to just to gain their acceptance. He had accepted himself, the mostly bad, and slight good that comprised just who he was inside. To hell with these people, he didn't care about them and they certainly didn't care about him.
"Bah!" he snapped, shaking his head tiredly. Dark thoughts, with potentially dark consequences. The question, of course, was whether these thoughts were his own, or were the residual thoughts of the life he had just stepped into. He did not know the answer, but he would think on it.
His walk through Konoha took him to several places, from the Konoha Market to several outlying parks, monuments, and even the occasional training ground. He couldn't help but feel like he was looking for something... or someone, but damned if he knew just what... or who it was. The sojoun eventually meandered into a bustling park, filled with children running to and fro, their jubilant laughs echoing high on the slight wind and carrying far and wide.
Naruto walked the sidewalk, passing parents who sat on the benches staggered about the path. He watched them, as they in turn watched him, eyeing him should he cross some invisible line and come to close to their oh so precious children playing. What would they do if he crossed that invisible line, he wondered? Would they come screaming and yelling at him, or what they simply collect their children and move on? It didn't mattered.
Eventually he spotted a mostly vacant bench, filled with two young lovers who cuddled at one end, their eyes all hearts and stars as they stared and softly conversed with the other. Naruto would have just passed them by honestly, not particularly a fan of open displays of affection that tettered on the edge of sugary overload, yet he found he could not. The bench, their was something about it, something that called him, tempted him to stay awhile and relax. He took a seat on the opposite end of the bench, ignoring the lovers who were only idly aware some one else had sat near them.
He was happy to ignore them, as they seemed happy to ignore him. Eyes drifting, he could see the swings nearby, make out the gritty grain of the sand that surrounded the public swings. The wind, he could see it moving, not with his eyes but with his flesh, it's soft kiss across his skin oddly comforting. Yet, it was the trees that caught his attention. The way they stood their, majestic, unmoving, uttley frozen in time if not for their branches, their millions of leaves swaying oh so gently in the breeze. Why he bothered to take notice of it, Naruto didn't know, but notice it he did.
And then... it happened. A bird, white as snow if not for several black markings across it's feathers that marred its surface, took respite upon one of those trees. His alien mind caught that sight, burned the image within his memories before it began teasing it's details out. Naruto wondered at that, even as his mind noticed shades, colorings, and how it all came together and formed a full, complete picture.
He had never taken notice of such a thing in the past, it was like he... or who he was before the jump, had trained his mind to capture such images. To dissect them and store them for later, yet why he would...
The sketchings. Naruto blinked, remembering the notebook and the curious sketchings he had only glanced over in his search for paper to make his list. He... or rather, the he who he was, liked to sketch. An artist...
"Oi!" A childs voice, unfamiliar, yet with an undercurrent of dangerous intent.
Naruto blinked the image of the bird away, glancing around for the owner of that voice. All at once he noticed several things, but nothing more unerving then the fact the sun had all but set while he had been sitting there. Had he lost track of time because of something so simple as a bird? The bird... he couldn't see it anywhere, it must have taken flight long ago, but he hadn't noticed? That was unerving, very much so.
"You little shit!" that voice again, only that undercurrent was gone, present instead in the voices angry tone.
He spied a trio of boys, twelve, maybe thirteen years old, glaring in front of him. They possessed no Hiai-tae, no pouches containing kunai, wire, or any of the many assorted odds and ends that would mark them as nin. The leader, a shaggy brown haired boy with a lean face dotted with freckles sneered at him, his two goon friends, a blond and a black haired boy respectfully, adopted similar postures, oozing menance and danger.
"What do you want?" Naruto asked warily, eyeing the area for other people. The lovers that were at his side in what seemed a scant moment ago were gone, the park had been dwindling in population and was now a mere reflection of what it had once been. The setting sun cast terrible shadows everywhere, so much so it was rather dizzying just to see it all.
The Leader snorted, cracking his knuckles, "Thought we told you last time, we never wanted to see you around here again!"
"Kid doesn't hear too good, Jiro." the blond goon chuckled, a sound that came off as a cross between a fat porcine and a baby rattle, "Guess bein nice just ain't enough to teach the twerp his lesson."
Jiro grunted, grabbing Naruto by his shirt and forcibly pulling him off the bench, "No doubt Masaki, no doubt." his eyes hardened, brown orbs glaring angrily into curelean blue, "Might need to teach this one his lesson the hard way, eh?"
Eyes narrowing, Naruto felt his anger rise, an anger he was absolutely certain wasn't his own. "Get your hands off me." he snarled.
"Oh, he's acting tough!" The black haired goon chuckled at that, cracking his fists, "Might be right, man. This kid deserves a lesson he'll never forget."
"Heh..." Jiro pulled back his free hand, clenching his fist that could only mean one thing.
That alien anger crystalized, not into the hot fury he had been expecting, but the cold, tactical rage he only ever felt when he faced people that truly, absolutely had to die. In that split second he had to decide whether to ignore it, to change what his body wanted done, or to follow it.
He followed it.
Naruto gripped the hand handing him up by the shirt, allowing the breifest of wisps of Kyuubi's chakra to flow into his body as he mightily pulled himself up and headbutted Jiro square in the face. There was an audible crack of bone and cartlidge breaking, following by a squeal of pain as the boy let him go and staggered back, holding his broken bleeding mess of a nose protectively.
Naruto fell to the ground as the others stared at their bleeding boss in a cow dumb stupor. He grabbed two rocks, whos jagged rough surface bit into his flesh as he gripped them tightly, they oddly resembled knives.
Jiro snarled despite the pain, "I'm going to kill you!"
That seemed to shock the other boys back into action. The blond lunged forward arkwardly, fist pulled back to deliever a viscious haymaker. Naruto threw one of those stones, managing to catch the boy in the knee and send him to his knees. Despite the agony the boy had to be feeling even from that glancing hit, he managed to throw his fist forward, but Naruto had been ready for it.
Stepping into the blow, he caught the boy's arm with his own, wrapping it around it's length and lifting up at the joint, locking it into position. The doe brown eyes of the blond stared at him in shock, a shock that soon turned into uncomprimising fear as Naruto brought up the other rock and slammed it down with all his might, peircing flesh, scraping bone, and tearing the cartlidge at the boys joint.
Naruto let the other boy go, his uselss arm sparying blood even as he screamed in surprised agony from the strike. His world erupted in pain as something slammed him in the cheek, throwing him to the ground roughly. Dazed, Naruto only idly realized the other boy had slammed him with a viscious punch, and was following up his attack with a wicked kick to his ribs. One hit, two, then so many more as Jiro joined in on stomping him into the ground.
Desperatly he reached around, trying to grab something even as he felt his ribs breaking on the pressure of the repeated kicks. He felt something then, a jagged surface wet with blood. He risked a look, it was the stone he had thrown at the first boy. He grabbed it, allowing more Kyuubi chakra to enter his system as he forced his beaten and almost broken body up. He caught the leg of one of his attackers and slammed the jagged rock into his thigh, ripping it out and stabbing the boy in the calf. The black haired goon went down screaming the high pitched scream of agony.
Jiro backed off at his friend went down, eyes wide at he sight of both his friends screaming and bleeding all over the place.
Naruto struggled to his feet, the burning pain of his broken ribs all but threatneing to throw him unconcious with each movement. He weakly raised the bloody dagger-like-rock, snarling through broken and blood drenched teeth, "Chi... chicken shit."
Jiro took one look at the rock weilding maniac, his downed friends, then he screamed, "I'm telling mom on you!" before turning to run. He didn't quite make it, running smack dab into a dark cloaked figure with a white procelain mask that reflected brightly off the setting sun that it was almost blinding.
Naruto snorted, dropping the rock even as other ANBU shushined into existance. It figures they'd be watching him, it also figured that they wouldn't step in until the last minute, worthless redshirts. They grabbed his arms, unmindful of his gasps of pain as they forcibly threw him to the ground and held him there. He didn't care, allowing his senses to dull as unconsciousness began to take hold.
Yet, even as oblivion began to claim him he saw someone. A woman standing far away, with wavy black hair that fell to her shoulders, with eyes of ruby red... and he knew, as that cold anger in him abated and a sense of contentment filled him up inside that this was who this body wanted to see, this woman he could barely make out was all he had wanted to find...
He smiled at her even as the touch of unconsciousness claimed him.
Naruto eyed the stoic ANBU standing near the door, acting the part of the silent sentinel to such a tee he couldn't help but be honestly impressed. As famous as they were for being the utterly still, quiet manniquins that launched into action as their orders demanded, he knew them to be anything but. Oh sure, several were able to maintain the facade for a breif period of time, but only breifly. This one, he had been watching them for hours, admiring the genderless form of the person and trying to puzzle out if he was a he, or if he was a she. Well, whoever they were he could tell they were new to the role. The utterly plain, white mask lacked any identifying features, which meant they were newly inducted and had yet to earn a distinction among the ranks. Just who were they...
The idle speculation passed the time at anyrate. Ever sense waking up in the hospital, chained to the bed by his wrists and ankles, he found he had a lot of time on his hands. He tried thinking of the events that led up here, to the bird that had so captivated him, the three idiots who had tried to beat him up, and even the woman that his body had yearned to see. Thinkin on her now, he only had an indisinct image, but more puzzeling was the complete lack of emotion attached to the image. He had felt relief when he had seen her, contentment, even joy... but now, now he felt nothing. Was seeing her this bodies last bit of cartharsis before it accepted who he was now belonged to the greater whole? Just who was she? What was her link to this body, and was it something he should be concerned about?
Naruto grimaced, banishing those thoughts as a very real problem came to the foreground. He had an itch... on the edge of his nose. He tried leaning down far enough so he could scratch it with his chained hands, but his hurt ribs denied that action. He tried to twist around and grind his face into the mattress, but like before his ribs reminded him just how hurt he was, and how much moving caused that pain to explode.
"Oi! ANBU!" he almost pitifully mewed, "Itch, on my nose! Please scratch it!"
The ANBU had to have heard him, but move they did not. He begged for a few more minutes, but whoever this redshirt was they obviously didn't care that he was laying on this bed enduring an agony worse then Tsunade's attempts at home cooking.
"Gah!" he squirmed slightly, "I'll get you for this, ANBU! You'll rue the day, I swear to god!"
The door suddenly opened as the Hokage entered. His brown robes tied in place by a similar colored sash, with an eye-sore of a tri-formed hat emblazened with the kanji for fire, combined with the deep crevices that had one been mere wrinkles and his kind eyes completed the picture. "Naru..."
"Nose. Scratch. Now. Please!" Naruto interjected, making funny faces, his chains clinking as he tried to reach up and scratch the annoying itch but couldn't.
Sarutobi chuckled lightly, stepping up to the bed and scratching his nose gently. Naruto almost purred into the scratch, finding a contentment one could only find after being tormented for an eternity only to have that torment dissolved.
"Thanks." the blond said finally, relaxing into the stiff as a board bed.
The old man shook his head, glancing at the chains binding the him to the bed. "These won't be nessicary." he said, gesturing towards them
The sole ANBU stepped forward, "Hokage-sama, he attacked three civi..."
"All of whom admitted they instigated the confrontation." Sarutobi coldly interrupted, "Remove the bindings, now."
Naruto watched, amused, as the ANBU moved towards the bed and began undoing his bindings. He noticed her gloved hands, with fingers far to slender for a man's and wondered just who this was. Once done, the mysterious ANBU returned to her position along the wall, resuming the role of the silent sentinal.
Sarutobi locked eyes with him, there was a seriousness within them tinged only with the slightest bit of remorse. "How are you feeling, lad?"
Ah, pleasantries and platitudes before he'd get to the point. Naruto rolled his eyes inwardly, typical old man. "Gave more then I got."
"Yes... you did at that." Sarutobi sighed softly at that, "Rather brutally at that." his gaze turned slightly serious, "Why?"
Naruto frowned, "Eh..." What to say, what to say? He decided to fall back on Childish Bullshit excuse number three; Make your stand. "... just got tired of it, y'know?"
"Tired of it?" the Old man moved to clarify, "Tired of what?"
"Tired of being pushed around..." Naruto shrugged uncomfortably, "... comes a time, y'know, when you gotta stand up and say 'No. Not one more second.'"
"These boys have been harassing you for some time then?"
"Eh..." Naruto shrugged, "Not really, they were just the ones who pushed me over the edge."
Sarutobi stared at him for a time, before letting out a long, tired sigh. "Naruto, I'm disappointed in you."
The boy just shrugged, "I don't really care."
That shocked the old man, who looked back askance at what he just heard. He looked to say something, but Naruto cooly cut in, "There isn't anything to care about here, is there?" he spat angrily, "Every day it's the same thing, every day it's people going out of their way to ignore me, to keep me pushed aside and alone while everyone else gets to live their lives." he glared at Sarutobi, "I'm stuck on the outside, watching what life could be like, but never able to live it. Why the heck should I care about what anyone thinks?"
"They're good people here Naruto..." Sarutobi defended, voice tight and suspiciously angry, "... you just need to prove to them you're worth there attention, there love."
"Bah!" the blond boy snorted, "Only people who get any love or respect are nin, and I ain't one of them."
"You could be." Sarutobi intoned softly.
Naruto eyed him suspiciously, "I could?"
"Of course you could. I've been meaning to talk to you about it, in fact." Sarutobi said disarmingly, "And given what just happened, it might be the best thing for you."
"Best for me?" the blond boy frowned, "Why?"
"Well..." the old man sighed, "Your actions, while justifiable, is cause for concern. Joining the Academy will calm many upset people, and teach you discipline, control, and help you become a Nin worthy of respect."
"Is this some kind of sales pitch?" the boy asked curiously.
"Why, are you interested?" came the old man's wiry reply.
Naruto frowned thoughtfully. Truthfully, he didn't give two shits about the Academy. He knew everything he needed to know if he wanted to train himself up outside of Konoha's oppresive military direction, he certainly wouldn't learn anything new there. Yet, on the otherhand, if he joined that comes with all the benefits being a member to a hidden village entailed. Also... well, he knew he didn't have a choice really. If he said no now, they'ed come up with some other way to force the issue, or worst case scenario they hand him off to Danzou. Bah...
An idea struck him then...
"I'll do it, on two conditions old man." Naruto replied cryptically, a slightly sinister smile growing on his lips.
"Conditions?" The old man raised an eyebrow at that, "What conditions would that be?"
Naruto turned his gaze to the ANBU, "The ANBU, I want her name, rank, and that mask off."
That caught the ANBU's attention, she startled slightly, turning her gaze to him.
Sarutobi shrugged, "Okay."
"Present yourself to the child, now." Sarutobi snapped, glaring at the ANBU.
The ANBU turned their gaze back to the boy, who only smiled victoriously in return. Hesitantly she raised her hand to the mask, slowly releasing the chakra that held it secured to her face. Pulling the mask free, she stared impassively at the boy. "Uchiha, Ita. Chuunin, 1st class."
Sarutobi nodded, turning back to the blond and saying, "There you..." he blinked, eyeing the unconcious boy critically "... What on earth?"
"He fainted, Hokage-sama." Ita pointed out the obvious.