A growl thundered through her chest. Her vision felt narrowed and something was controlling her, urging her onward. The forest was far below her and the trees had an odd flat tone to the leaves, like the green was added to red. Something seemed horrifically familiar.
No... The thought came slowly, sluggishly, pushing through some Other's thoughts and directives, but also a haze of confusion.
In front of her suddenly there was no longer open space with small mites jumping in and out of her view like grasshoppers in a spring field. The blond human Hokage sat atop the huge Boss Toad blocking her path. The human pulled his arms tight to his sides as he finished up the sealing technique. Behind him, the ugly visage of the shinigami grinning at the intended target. Grinned at her.
The pale tusks opened and a sound-not-sound like a scream or distant thunder came from the god's mouth as he happily stretched thin arms to her. She could feel the bonds of the seal wrapping around her soul where he touched her. She looked desperately at the blond human, pleading with him to take the seal back. Didn't he know her? Why would he do this?
Everything had started over, everything had been erased, everything would happen again and again and...
"No!" Tobi screamed, shooting upright. He panted into the early dawn light. He lifted trembling hands to his face and rubbed some of the cold sweat off of his forehead. "Shit." He said emphatically, swinging out of the bed and padding into the bathroom to splash some water on his face. "Shit." He said again, softly. It seemed that there was nothing that he could do to escape the nightmares made of second hand memories. He growled and his eyes glowed faintly red. "I need to get out of here." He muttered to himself before he leapt into the demon space and started to run. Run away, run anywhere, run...
"Oomph!" Tobi protested as the air was abruptly cut off as something wrapped around his throat. He coughed and scrabbled at his neck, feeling his sleep shirt's collar tight against his larynx.
"Where do you think you are going?" His mother growled. "I thought you had gotten over this running away thing."
"Chhk!" Tobi choked.
"Oh." Musume laughed sheepishly. She released her son. "I thought you were your brother."
Tobi gasped the morning air greedily, putting his hands on his knees as he bent over. Once he recovered, he turned to his mother in irritation. "What the hell did you think you were doing? You could have broken my neck!"
"Oh, nonsense." Musume brushed those concerns away. She evidently had no fear that she could accidentally kill any of her offspring, even the human one. Though it was highly unlikely that she could, considering their various talents, it pissed her son off to be so blatantly disregarded. Angered, and scared him.
"You would have killed me! I knew you wanted to!" Tobi howled, his mind still shaken from the dream. He immediately slapped his hand over his mouth. That wasn't something that he had ever meant to say aloud.
"Tobi..." Musume said slowly, confused. "I don't want to kill you."
"Mother..." Tobi said in contrition.
"If I wanted to kill you I would have." His mother said matter-of-factly.
Tobi felt his eyebrow twitch.
"I decided not to kill you almost the instant I decided to squish you as a fetus. You were too damn cute." Musume continued on, blithely unaware of her son's rising ire.
"Oh, well, ok then. Not like you aren't known for changing your mind or anything." Tobi said bitterly.
Musume blinked. "Well, I suppose that's true."
"And it's not like all of us couldn't be erased from existence at any time, so what do you care?" Tobi snarked, feeling a bit juvenile but justified about it.
"What?" Musume asked, genuinely confused.
"I know about the loops." Tobi bit out. It felt kind of good to admit to it, even as he felt his stomach swoop away from his ribs and go running for the woods.
"Well, that was rather obvious." His mother cocked her head to the side. "I am more curious as to why you do? Is it because you are Madara escaped from the seal prison and have reviewed all my thoughts? Or maybe you are simply a nearly aborted fetus brought to consciousness and living through my memories from a time when I was still having all those flashbacks?"
Tobi gaped at his mother. Had she really just said that out loud?
"Well?" She asked, leaning forward, her eyes twinkling in intent curiosity. "Which is it?" She held up a hand suddenly. "Actually, don't tell me." She cried. "I've resisted looking at the pathetic passed out soul in my prison this whole time to keep the suspense. An ancient being needs to have one last mystery in this world."
Tobi just gaped at his mother for another few seconds before cracking up in a peal of relieved laughter. He composed himself, leaned back and smirked. "Who knows?" He asked in bemusement. He certainly didn't. His life was rather murky for many reasons, not the least of them being conscious of his own birth and living out of linear time for most of his life in the demon realm. Even being able to manipulate time didn't save him from the fact that humans simply don't belong in there.
"Hn." Musume eyed him speculatively. "But what did you mean about being erased at any time?" She frowned in confusion.
"I told you, I know about the loops." Tobie replied in frustration.
"Right..." Musume cocked an eyebrow at him.
"And you just admitted you still have the seal!" He wrapped his arms around his chest and glared at the ground. How could she be so blasé about this?
"Well, yeah, otherwise Madara would escape. If he isn't dead, reincarnated, or insane." Musume tilted her head back and forth looking at her son, but he refused to make any more comments. She tried to run through the logic, a tricky proposition in basically any situation involving humans, usually well on impossible with her son.
"I have dreams." Tobi finally admitted. "Nightmares. I'm you, I'm being controlled... I... attack Father, the Death God..."
Musume shuddered. She, too, occasionally had those nightmares. "I do, too." She sighed. Her son shuddered. "When you looped that small bit of time during that final battle I panicked and thought I hadn't gotten the seal quite right. I thought I had lost you all." She said softly.
"You... what?" Tobi squeaked.
"Well, I would miss you all. Probably for an uncomfortably long time. It already is terrible that I will outlive you all, even with what I have been doing to modify your bod... ow!" Musume rubbed her arm where she had blocked her son's punch to her face.
"Why did you hit me!" The kitsune ducked a second hit. "Why are you still trying to hit me!"
"You didn't think! You never think! ARGH!" Tobi started to pace restlessly. His mother watched him warily. He spun to a stop in front of her and pointed an accusing finger. "Are you seriously telling me that if I were to kill you right now, that time would continue on blithely in a linear path?"
"Well I hardly think that you could kill me..."
"Answer the damn question!" Tobi shrieked.
"Well, yes. I suppose." Musume muttered. "I have been killed several times, and I have messed around with the seal such that it hardly even exists anymore. And even so, it is designed so that the one being restrained is killed if the host dies, not vice versa. The whole problem was that I couldn't die so it created a temporal pressure such that time bent rather than the rest of the fabric of the universe. I can't die and I am not in the seal, so time does not have to loop."
"Uh..." Tobi only sort of followed that because of his unique background.
"So, no more loops. Even if I hadn't modified the seal." Musume supplied.
"Oh." Tobi felt all the energy run out of him and he sank to the ground almost quickly enough that it should really be called a collapse. "And you never thought that maybe I would like to know?" Tobi glared at her.
"No." Musume admitted.
"You already said that you knew I knew about the loops!" Tobi grumbled. But he felt amazing- the weight that had curdled in the pit of his stomach since before he was born was gone. What was he going to do with himself with a full life ahead of him? He had already been lost as to what to do once he had eliminated Konoha's enemies and it hadn't seemed to break the loops in any way he could determine. Apparently since they had never been a possibility of happening to begin with.
Almost as if he mother could hear his thoughts, Musume asked him: "I don't see why you had to use the knowledge to incite a huge war. Even if it did work... we could have defeated all those enemies as they came, probably. It's not about saving the village, anyway. You've seen it. The place is basically as doomed as it is impossible to keep destroyed."
"Perhaps. But this way it is all in the open. And my plan was brilliant, you know it was." Tobe chuckled wryly. "You should be proud of me- I tricked everyone. Plus, it was the only way I could see to save Orochimaru. I grew rather fond of that guy, you know? He was the only one who was living where I hid from you."
"Because of the brainwashing?" Musume mused. That was really the only way that a normal human who was not a somewhat-insane-son-of-a-demon-hiding-from-his-parents to end up in not-demon, not-real, dream-space. Insanity.
"I guess so." Tobi shrugged. "You should be able to appreciate that, though, right? The loneliness of being trapped in a dimension alone."
"You weren't trapped. You could have come back to me at any time." The kistune crossed her arms over her chest in annoyance. Being looped through time was certainly much worse than anything that her son could have imposed on himself, even if he had experienced it second-hand. His loneliness was his choice, and he certainly had not had any of her confusion or despair. Though, granted, he seemed to have lived his life thinking his whole existence was about to be erased at any moment. She granted that would probably be rather stressful.
"Yeah. I could have come back. And lived pathetically as a demon when I am a man. You never would have come clean." Tobi said bitterly. "That's not much of a choice."
She tilted her head. "What do you mean?"
"Are you trying to tell me that you would have told Dad about all us boys if I hadn't forced you to? Or come clean about being a demon?"
"Not that anyone but him seemed all that surprised about it." Musume muttered indignantly.
"You didn't exactly hide it." Tobi smirked.
Musume huffed. "I wouldn't have told him. I would have let the triplets grow up to be Naruto's summons, probably. And you didn't seem to want to be part of the family anyway."
"Exactly. That's no way to live. Not being acknowledged by you mother? You mother hiding who she truly is? For no reason even since everyone knows?" Tobi shook his head.
"I suppose." Musume allowed. Life had certainly been both more interesting and less stressful with the huge secret off her chest.
"Besides... since you saved Chi-chan for me, I get to see what other fine uses we can put that tongue of his to." Tobi cackled.
"It's so very long, and so talented it can wield a sword... if you know what I mean." Tobi winked.
Musume gagged and grabbed at her eyes with clawed hands. Too late. The mental image was already there.
A/N: Thanks everyone- it's been awesome writing this story thanks to you. Hopefully this clears everything up. If it doesn't... I welcome suggestions. Because I think this is as clear as I can be without writing a 20 page dissertation on my thoughts on time-travel (Cliff Notes edition). lol.
I wrote this story with a few goals : believable fem!kyuubi, Minato/kyuubi that was not total crack (bonuses I managed Minato/Madara and kyuubi!Uchiha-clan-head muahaha!), not!evil!Orochimaru and time-travel kyuubi-without-Naruto. I also wanted to parallel the main story as much as possible to maintain the parody and not spin off into some crazy AU. I think I succeeded, woo hoo! No small part due to lovely, lovely reviewers. Thanks everyone!
PS- Holy carp! I finished this story 2 years to the day! This chapter uploaded 7 April 2011. In case I edit chapters later. O.o