Title: Doomed to Repeat

Author: Fiachra Ochiern

Summary: One year after Jiraiya's death, Konoha has fallen and Uzumaki Naruto is no longer the knuckleheaded, hyperactive, surprising ninja he once was. Given the sudden chance to fix everything he thinks went wrong, can he rise above the strengths of his enemies, the suspicions of his friends, and most of all his own weaknesses? Timetravel

Rated: T (PG-13), for violence and some swearing.

Disclaimer: All characters, plot lines, and jutsus of Naruto© belong to Masashi Kishimoto. I just wanted to write a story.

Warning: This story contains spoilers through manga chapter 412.

The boy looked more like a man with his head down and his back to the sun. Maybe it was the way his short, spiky hair—the color of a burning sunset—cast a shadow over his eyes. Or the way he held his shoulders, as if he was carrying something much heavier than the small canvas pack slung over one shoulder. He wore a simple pair of black pants and a red gi that was reminiscent of a rejected samurai without a sword. His feet were clad in cheap zori, and black arm warmers wrapped around his arms from his wrists to his elbows. All in all, the male figure looked a little worse for wear.

The boy was walking down a worn dirt road westward, towards Suna. He wasn't really sure why. He had made a promise to avoid that place the last time he had been there, despite the fact that the Kazekage had given him express permission to find refuge within the Hidden Village. But, Gaara had known better than any of the others that Akatsuki would look for him anywhere. So, the boy had promised to stay away. And he never went back on his word.

A sudden crash from the road ahead of him made the redhead snap his head up, almost violently. Two men in matching half cloaks blocked the road while the redhead paused calmly and waited.

"Give us the pack, boy," one of the men demanded.

"You're robbing me?" the redhead muttered, more to himself than to his sudden companions. Bright blue eyes lit up with barely-concealed amusement. "Trust me, I don't have anything you're interested in."

The tone was a friendly kind of teasing, as if he and the robbers had established a strong enough rapport to give each other a good ribbing. But, the boy on the road held his arms slightly away from his sides and his legs bent at the knees, betraying years of training that had taught his muscles the act of deliberately choosing fight over flight. Privately, the traveler wondered if his pack carried any money at all. Still, he wasn't about to give it up. What few contents it carried were necessary to his survival.

"For your own good, kid," the shorter robber sneered at the boy. "Just hand over what ya got, and you won't get hurt."

The boy in the middle of the road let out a soft scoff and slid his left foot backwards slightly, sinking into a basic taijutsu starting form. The robbers weren't intimidated. Many travelers had at least some basic fighting skills. It was becoming a necessity with all the nuke-nin running around since the fall of one of the strongest shinobi villages. Hi no Kuri had become more and more lawless in the past year.

"C'mon, Niiro!" the taller man yelled confidently. He dashed forward, holding a plain kunai in one hand as he ran.

The boy on the road smiled. The men were underestimating him. He could already see their movements clearly, the way their weight shifted each time they took a step. They were chuunin level at best. Nothing he needed to worry about. He ducked under the swing of the kunai and knocked the taller man across the back with his bare fist, sending him sprawling to the ground.

"Ichiro!" his companion, Niiro, called.

The would-be victim turned up one half of his mouth into an amused smile. This was going to be easier than he thought.

"Bastard!" Enraged, Niiro let a kunai fly towards the one responsible for his partner's current state.

The kunai sailed towards the watching and waiting boy as Ichiro scrambled out of the way. The boy seemed unconcerned as the weapon neared him. He raised one hand and prepared to bat the kunai away before he saw the dark writing wrapped around the handle of the kunai. Eyes widening, the boy switched tactics abruptly. He ran through a series of hand seals, ending by slamming both palms into the packed earth of the well-traveled road. A wall of earth, almost three feet thick, shot out of the ground between the boy and the incoming weapon. The kunai landed in the sudden shield with a loud thunk, and all activity paused for the space of one breath.

Then the exploding tag attached to the kunai went off, shattering the earthen wall into bits and dust. Ichiro and Katsu stood together in the middle of the road and watched a slight breeze shift the light brown cloud of dust off the road. As the dust cleared, they saw their redheaded victim standing stock still where he had been. The ruined jutsu was at his feet, and his right side was slightly singed. He raised his head and stared at his attackers with eyes the color of blood, knifed down the center with animalistic pupils. His canines were somehow longer and peered beneath his upper lip to give him the appearance of fangs.

"That hurt, yarou," the boy grumbled in a flat voice that didn't match his fiery eyes.

Niiro bared his teeth at the idiot who refused to die when he was supposed to.

"I'll show you hurt!" yelled Niiro. He pulled another kunai and rushed forward. Ichiro held back slightly, his wide eyes taking in the strange change in the boy's appearance.

As his enemy advanced, the boy's hand dove into the small pack that he carried and withdrew a simple scroll. With a quick flip in the air, the scroll landed on the ground, opened to reveal a dark circle of writing surrounding a single kanji. A small nip on the boy's thumb drew enough blood to smear over the paper, running a red line through the black ink. Quickly, as if it were alive, the inked circle spread out from the paper to encompass the boy kneeling on the ground as well as the charging nin.

"Brother, don't!" Ichiro jerked his companion away from the dark array on the ground. "You know who that is?"

The dark-haired Niiro frowned at his friend briefly before staring at their victim, like he was trying to place him.

"That's Konoha's missing nin," snapped Ichiro, "Uzumaki Naruto."

Niiro jumped back suddenly, as if the name alone could inflict a fatality. The boy on the road ground his teeth together briefly and rolled up his unused scroll. Their fear could be useful, but that particular piece of information was something he had been trying to hide for the past year.

"You must have me confused with someone else," the shinobi once known as Uzumaki Naruto declared calmly. "My name is Kaeru."

Kaeru brought his hands together in front of his chin in a simple cross symbol. With barely a mutter, there were suddenly two redheaded shinobi in the road where one stood previously.

"You wanna kill me?" one of the identical figures demanded. "I hear Danzo's offering a fat reward by now."

The two men facing him didn't charge, but they didn't back down, either. Kaeru gritted his teeth behind a disappointed pout. Seemed as if these guys would be harder to get rid of than he initially thought. Which left the initiative to him. Not that he minded. He had never been the patient type. The pout on his lips slowly turned into a confident smile as Kaeru and his clone charged.

Niiro's eyes followed the clone as Ichiro focused on the original body, both ready for one-on-one combat. Too bad they weren't dealing with a one-on-one kinda guy. Kaeru stopped short of the two robbers and planted his feet. The clone jumped up, stepping on the redhead's back and launching himself into the air. At the peak of his leap, the flying ninja brought his fingers together and split suddenly into two with a mere puff of smoke. The two figures sailed downward towards Niiro, while the boy on the ground quickly dropped and swept one leg towards Ichiro's feet as the older robber stared up at the display of midair ninjutsu.

Ichiro was lucky enough to regain his composure just in time to see Kaeru's leg and jump out of the way. Niiro raised one hand to catch a descending punch, but he missed the heel that slammed into his shoulder, sending him to his knees.

"Brother!" Ichiro shouted around Kaeru. One of the clones chopped the back of his opponent's neck to send Niiro into a quick coma. At least, that was the intention. Kaeru didn't really plan on an avenging brother.

Ichiro pulled out a katana from his belt. It was short, about the length of the standard blades that ANBU always carried around. Rage-filled eyes glared at Kaeru, and he seriously considered making a few more clones just for insurance. Kaeru brought his hands up and opened his mouth to call out his favored jutsu again, but he was forced to duck before he could utter the words. As the blade sailed over his head, Kaeru received a sudden memory of stabbing. One of his clones had just been dispelled on Ichiro's backswing. Great, now he was facing a relatively good swordsman instead of just a robber with some ninja skills. Perfect.

Kaeru fell into a crouch, one knee touching the ground as he tensed, ready to spring back into action. Suddenly, a sharp pain penetrated his abdomen, beginning at the center of his navel and spreading to encase him like wildfire. Kaeru arched his back so sharply that he thought his spine was about to snap. He barely registered his last clone dispelling, the pain in his stomach was too strong for him to think.

Then, he registered a second type of pain. He had just been stabbed. It was a strange feeling, the metal of a blade still buried in his back, warming itself with his blood. Dazed, he turned his head to glance behind him. The taller of his opponents, Ichiro, was staring at him with wide eyes, still holding the hilt of his katana. Kaeru must have made a weird picture, fighting splendidly one minute and then doubled over in pain the next. But Ichiro's wide eyes weren't triumphant or confused. The look in his eyes was pure and utter terror.

"What the hell are you!" Ichiro dropped his sword and turned his back on his victim. Leaving the money, the pack, and the wounded boy behind, he grabbed his brother's body and scrambled back into the forest.

A small part of Kaeru's mind came to the conclusion that he wasn't going to be robbed that day, but honestly, he had other things to worry about at the moment. For instance, why did his stomach feel like it was on fire, like his intestines would burn their way through his abdomen any moment? Kaeru glanced down at his body and immediately saw the reason. He was covered in a thin layer of visible chakra, the same flaming color as his hair. He raised one hand to open his gi. A dark symbol on his stomach was now burning red as it spread to encompass his entire torso. A crimson pool was forming beneath his knees, and he wondered if he should be grateful. At least this way he would die without any of the damn Akatsuki getting his demon.

"I will not die!"

The sudden declaration resounded through the dying boy's skull, letting him know that the voice originated from a place he thought had been silenced long ago.

"Stupid fox," muttered Kaeru. "We die when I run out of blood. You can't change that."

However, despite the boy's accepting statement, the angry chakra continued to surround him, enveloping him in a fiery embrace that was filled with sweet pain. It was getting harder to draw breath into his lungs, and his stomach was currently trying to force its way up his esophagus and out of his mouth. He fell onto his hands and knees as his vision began to fade. Strangely, though, instead of going black, the world turned red.

"I refuse to die!"

The world exploded into flame as the boy who called himself Kaeru died. He could not see, but a red light bled through his closed eyelids. He could not breathe, and yet he was screaming against the pain. He could not hear anything above the roar of the inferno that surrounded him. His body was being torn apart; he could feel his muscles separating from his tendons. Suddenly, silence and darkness reigned. Kaeru stopped breathing and let himself fall. He never felt the soft patch of grass, instead of the packed earth of a road, that his body landed on.

AN: Hey, look. I wrote a fanfic. Honestly, I'm new to , and this is technically my first story (even though I've been writing for a good number of years). I hope to update at least every other week, if not sooner, and if I completely lose track of time, please don't yell at me. I get busy, especially with school starting.

That said, I welcome comments and reviews (hint, hint). And don't worry. If this chapter is confusing, I hope to clear things up in the following one.

Sincerely, Fia